Thursday, June 12, 2014

"Do you remember the day you realized your father was not perfect?"

circa 1971

"Do you remember the day you realized your father was not perfect?"

That was the question posed to me on a mountain bike ride years ago and it has nagged me ever since.  I will protect this friend's identity but she went on to tell me about that "fateful" day in her youth when she saw her father as a normal person...flawed and real.

When I sat down to write this post, I initially thought it would be about Bill.  He is an extraordinary father.  It's just that simple.  However, my mind continuously wonders to my own father, dad, parent Daddy.

Many of you know him...he is Oyster Bamboo's self proclaimed "GQ effect".

Bruce Ronald Diaddigo was born 70 or so years ago in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.  His parents were gritty and resilient Italian immigrants that worked in the local steel mill and fully embraced their European culture on a daily basis...Family, Food, Religion and Tradition.

Looking back with clarity (which improves exponentially as I accrue more wisdom), my parents provided my brother and I with a rather idyllic childhood.   Our weeks consisted of a set routine.  If we did not hit the road in search of another historical site, our weekends had a rhythm as well...often, my father would start a sauce on Friday night that became a big spaghetti and meatball dinner on Sunday after Mass.  Everybody was always together. It was simple. Again, looking back...I now know that was not an accident.  It seemed so effortless for him...devoted husband and father.

Side note:  For those of you that have eaten my meatballs...thank my father.

Of course, most father's have an endless flood of ridiculous advice encouragement and guidance.  Mine is no exception.  Here are a few of my favs...

Words of Wisdom

1.  Be a forest ranger.
2.  Never let a man treat you like his best hunting dog.
3.  Make your own way.
4.  You are the company you keep.
5.  Don't cry.  Fix it.  (editor's note:  when I did cry...he fixed it)

Dad and Mom on the usual...

(insert sarcastic tone here) This may surprise you but I gave my father bleeding ulcers and my mother a heart condition was a "handful" growing up.  I'll ask my father on occasion how he did not accidently "lose" me at one of the car shows we frequented in downtown Atlanta. It's a big place I could have cut me loose and never looked back. was the 80s.  There were very few cameras, zero social networking and more of an ambivalence towards mankind in general.  People got lost all of the time.  Dad always smiles and says he had a lot of patience.  Ahhh...the ever elusive patience.  Speaking of lost...just saying...

Except for that one time in college, my father has never really been genuinely angry with me.  Do the math...I am 43. 

That's a patient man.


He did not lose his patience with me...

Not even when I totaled a half a dozen cars. Seriously. 

Not even when I left the tub ON while trying to bath the cat and the bathroom landed in our foyer.

Not even when I repeatedly brought home stray animals (a few were even pregnant).

Not even when I came home with purple red pink white orange hair (or shaved my head).

Not even when I ran over his mailbox with his car while he watched and I kept going...long story.

Not even when I sent all of my loser friends to him for a job (whom he generously employed).

Not even when I maxed out the credit card he gave me on boots...repeatedly.

Two of the 6 my father did buy me an Alpha Romeo!  That's an accident just in wait...

I realize this paints a picture of a spoiled rotten child and an overindulgent father.  So be it. However, this is the same man who instilled a "go big or go home" work ethic in my brother and me .  He always says that respect is earned.  Work for it.  We do.

When I told my father that I was dating a professional cyclist (Bill's former career before going mainstream with bamboo fly rod building), he thought for a second and said "cool".  He seriously admired Bill's aspirations.  My father taught me that ambition is not exclusive of corporate culture and carries over in most aspects of your life regardless of your vocation. 

It's easy to understand that my father is enthusiastic about our bamboo fly rod making career choice today.  We do okay.  But my father was supportive of our  absurd commendable career path from DAY ONE.   For years, he may have been the only person on the planet that believed in Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods.  Don't get me wrong, we had a lot of people "cheering us on" but this man BELIEVED.  There is a difference and I know he made the whole journey easier for us.

Most importantly, my father (through his example and words) taught me to settle for nothing less than a strong, kind, compassionate and skillful husband.  Done.

So...back to that mountain bike ride and the question that has intrigued me for almost15 years...

"Do you remember the day you realized your father was not perfect?"

No. I don't.

 Happy Father's Day. I love you.

Friday, March 28, 2014

10 things we can not live without at Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods


Sometimes all of the time I feel like we live in a bubble here at Oyster Bamboo.  Really...if you have taken a class, picked up your bamboo fly rod or even visited for more than a few minutes...this becomes evident. 


noun: subculture; plural noun: subcultures; noun: sub-culture; plural noun: sub-cultures
  1. a cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture.
    cutter and roni oyster selling flies on main street blue ridge ga

    This chaos that took shape against all odds meticulously maintained and well thought out life has enabled us to have our own language of sorts.  If there was such a thing as a bamboo fly rod maker's cliche', we would probably be it.  Our days are filled with bamboo fly rods (of course), all things fly fishing, strong coffee, cold beer, steaks, cigars, shotguns, wild stories (most of which are wildly exaggerated...hey,  I said we are a cliche'!) and scotch on occasion.  

    However, I thought I would share some of our favs around the Oyster shop...

    Oyster Bamboo's 10 favorite things that have almost nothing to do with fish

  2.  1.  Bacon from the Blue Ridge Grocery.  

    oyster bamboo eats bacon at the blue ridge grocery

    In addition to owning Harvest on Main, our very good friends started this remarkable grocery a few doors down from the shop with the lure of bacon, hand crafted OJ and meals that allow us to never have to go home and eat...why would we!?!?!


    Winter is coming...


    3. Our dogs...okay all dogs. 

I regularly chase strangers and their dogs down Main Street.  Sorry in advance.

4.  Crossfit


After a way-too-long sabbatical from taking care of ourselves physically, we walked across the street into Crossfit 30513.  It's been a year and a half and we can honestly say that this has been one of the biggest game changers in our lives.  5-4-3-2-1

5.  Garden and Gun Magazine

When Oyster Bamboo was asked to be in the premiere issue years ago (almost two years before the first issue went to print in 2007), we had no idea how phenomenal of a publication Garden and Gun was destined to become from day one.  This magazine has set the new standard for print media

6.  Motorcycles (this one is Bill's fav)...and only a dual sport...

Bill loves this thing.  I hate it. I am so happy for him.


7.  Apalachicola

Okay, so it's a little fishy...


8.  The Blue Ridge Brewery

Perfect...the ideal hang in town.  The type of public house you only read about...

9.  Shakira - you read that correctly...

In the showroom we play the usual suspects...Tom Waits, Avett Brothers and White Stripes (okay...not so usual for bamboo fly rod makers).  However, I had the speakers in the workshop separately wired free from public scrutiny.  So, on any given can catch Bill and/or Riley dancing to Shakira and like music.  What can I say...the boys love them some Shakira.

10.  Our Imaginations

Our children remind us every day that we are only limited by our imaginations. 


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bamboo Fly Rods, Blue Ridge and the Five Year Itch

Bamboo Fly Rods and the Five-Year Itch

Five Years.

Five years ago today, we moved to the mountains of Blue Ridge, Georgia.  Within the confines of my family...much has changed (we moved, relocated our bamboo fly rod shop downtown Blue Ridge, Veronica was born, Cutter "grew up", we built a new building on Main Street...oh, and we got old ushered in our 4th decade of life.

Many move to an environment like Blue Ridge pursuing a dream of some sort.  We were no different more realistic.

The honeymoon was over before it began...really...the economy crashed while at the closing table for the loan on our new home/workshop (literally...we were watching the news and Lehman Brothers fell that morning).  Can anyone say "top dollar"?  We were working so hard that Bill did not even have time to enjoy the trout fishing out our back door that lured us here initially and the much coveted "privacy" we desired turned into an annoying self-inflicted sort of seclusion that was surprisingly annoying.

However, two very important things grew in spite of any hindrance:  1.  The ridiculous amount of love that our family has for one another (insert sophomoric and banal sigh here) and 2.  Our little bamboo fly rod making business not only grew during this time but it evolved and thrived.

I can not possibly chronicle all of the discrepancies between our former life in the suburbs of Atlanta and our new found place in the world.  So, while I am being honest inspired, here are a few highlights for your (and mine) amusement.

1.  HIGH HEELS LOOK RIDICULOUS!  I don't care how well you walk in heels or how important it is to look "polished" and to add "height".  If you are in Blue Ridge for more than a few hours, you will spend a significant amount of time in DIRT and GRAVEL.  High heels are not "hot" in dirt and gravel.  
Flat boots...preferred footwear.

2.  "One-upsmanship" is no longer related to the size of your house or amount of luxury cars you own. "One-upsmanship" in Blue Ridge is about the size of the bear on your front porch and the number of scorpions you wrangle in your home.  True.

3.  Strength is far more attractive than Skinny.

4.   Charity is about helping your neighbor not a marketing effort.  Please note that this does not diminish larger charitable's just that really does start at home.

5.  Organic meat is not bought at Whole brought to you in a zip lock mere hours after the hunt.

6.  Shotguns (not handbags or diamonds) are the ultimate status symbol.  
Clutching my shotgun...not handbag.

7.  Garages are our sheds (clean cars are an eyesore), tractors are our lawn mowers, trails are our sidewalks, meadows are our lawns, fireflies are our light posts, mountainsides are our driveways and the neighborhood pool is Lake Blue Ridge.

8.  When meeting others for the first time and they ask, "What do you do?"... they are not asking "What do you do for a living"...normally, they are actually curious about "What you do" in terms of "Who you are"...not your perceived socioeconomic status.

9.  Our Movie Megaplex is an actual Drive-In Theater from the 1950s.  Don't feel bad for us...we have first run films and the concession stand has funnel cakes.  When we were traveling and took Veronica to a traditional theater, she yelled, "INSIDE?!? Are we going to see a movie inside?  INSIDE?!?  Thank you!  This is going to be so much fun!"

10.  A beard is a must...oh wait...Bill has always had a beard in the winter.  I guess manliness transcends all geographic areas. 
Roni taking care of her father's manly beard.

Naturally, I get asked if I miss anything about my more formal surroundings on a regular basis.  For example...

Q:  Don't you miss having everything at your fingertips?

A:  No, my definition of "everything" has changed.

Q:  Don't you miss being "informed"?

A:  Huh?

Q:  Don't you miss the mall?

A:  No, the lights always made me nauseous.  I spent way too much money there.

Q:  Don't you miss...

A:  No.

My new mall...downtown Blue Ridge.

If pressed, I am sure I could make a list of what I do access to a great haircut and Ikea.

For me, the most distinguishable difference between my two microcosms is the   insert overused word here "authentic" approach to life that is woven into our daily rhythm.   People, places and things..."more real".   So, by default (or even on purpose), you become "more real"...more connected...more present and (best of all)...your actions require less effort. *see footnote below*

*footnote* It's important to note that authenticity has a dark side.  Living in the mountains has not insulated us from the world's lunacy.  In fact, without the pressing nature of the exhaustive suburban "civilized" life, people are less inhibited and respectable behavior is underrated. Don't ask.

So,  organically...through the years, we have found a home here.  Our "home" does not consist of four walls but of an intense connection to everything around us...from our own family and trade to our relationships and nature at large.

Five itch...yet.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bamboo Fly Rods and my Baby Boy.


This past week, Bill took my baby boy our son on his first camping trip on the Davidson River in North Carolina.

Sometimes less is more in the words department.