Teach a man to fish...

Posted April 14th, 2013 by Penny Wise

I never realised before how much I took money for granted, even during the times gone by when I thought I didn't have any. Turns out I had plenty, in comparison to now! Still, I'm well aware there are many many people a heck of a lot worse off and to be honest I'm enjoying the challenge of being able to get by on as little as possible. It's certainly become a lot more of a matter of personal pride than it used to be. The boys have become used to me saying 'no' and really meaning it when I say we have no money and Ali takes it all in his stride, as he does most things but Liam has been getting pretty grumpy. 'There's never any food! Why do you never buy any food!' he says in exasperation. There is, my dear boy, you either haven't opened your eyes wide enough or you're not hungry enough yet! To prove my point I made the boys their very favourite muffins - peaches and cream cheese - AND Liam's very favourite dinner, Butter Chicken (using the same recipe we've been using from the SS Forum for years) and home made apple crumble. Does this sound like a starving family to you? Mind you, I guess you could call it a bit of a peacemaker meal after my recent culinary catastrophe...

Yes, shock horror it appears that Penny the Superhero Solo Mum, she whom legends are made of has found something she can't do. In the past couple of weeks I have successfully fixed the dishwasher, resuscitated the waste disposal and even changed the gas bottle but it has become painfully obvious that there is a skill I somehow have failed to master all these years. I cannot carve a roast to save myself. In fact, I am SO bad at it, that I ruined the entire meal with the exception of the roast spuds whilst I doggedly stood there for half an hour trying - and failing - to make any headway whatsoever. The carrots and cauliflower boiled dry and I ruined not one but two batches of gravy. The boys, bless them did their best to eat what was left of dinner. Liam grumbled the entire time, and said he was going to live with his dad but managed to survive by eating my share of the roast potatoes. Ali on the other hand thought the whole sorry scenario was hilarious and scoffed the whole lot, charcoal flavoured gravy and all!

He may be the youngest in the family but one thing's for sure, when it comes to feeding himself Ali will never go hungry. I think I've quoted this before so apologies if I'm repeating myself but I've never forgotten an old saying Fiona shared with me years ago. 'Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he can eat for life.' That's Ali at 14, thanks to the careful teachings of his dad. One of his favourite after-school activities at the moment is going fishing off the bridge with his friend at the other end of town. There they sit and spin tales until they've caught enough for a feed, then they bring home their catch and fillet them and take them to the local takeaway to cook for them with $1 worth of chips. Clever boys! But you ain't seen nothing yet. Ali has been able to fish almost as long as he's been able to walk and last week all his efforts paid off. It took him an hour and 10 minutes but on Easter Monday, when other kids his age were still stuffing their faces with chocolate, Ali managed to reel in this 153kg marlin, all by himself!

I would have loved to be a fly on the wall as his dad drove the boat throughout, doing his best to steer with one hand, while desperately trying to hold onto Ali's harness with the other so he didn't get pulled over the side! Once caught, trying to get the massive fish INTO the boat proved another huge mission but somehow they managed it. The heaviest striped marlin caught in the area this year and a club record for a junior fisherman, Ali is currently waiting to see whether he also has the Junior NZ record. That kid never did do anything by halves! Needless to say, with Ali around we'll never starve. Even if it means eating smoked fish three times a week for the next three years!

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