Sunday, October 19, 2014

Summer of 2014, Oyster's Sequence of Events and Bamboo Fly Rods

First day of school

Fall is ON!  Summer is o-v-e-r.  Where did it go?  (see theory of relativity).  It was here...then stuff happened and now it's in the review mirror.


Life...it's just a sequence of events, right?  Some good awesome some bad horrendous.  It's just that simple.  Most of us know We all know there is probably more to it than that. However, contemplating this concept does have a sting of truth to it.

Life.  Things are good. Things are bad.  Things just went from good to bad.  Wait, things are good again.  When does the other shoe drop?  Oh, just did...  Bad again.  Look...things are good again.  Oh, and that was just last Thursday!

I prefer to really relish in the good (even create our own) and navigate the bad with 15 minute increments of Italian rage with grace and dignity.
 
Right now...our world is so good.   I want to bottle up each day and keep it forever locked away and remain impervious to change.  However, we all know that's not possible...and I strongly believe that if it was 70 degrees and sunny every day...the bittersweet perfection of our "sequence of events" would be lulled to sleep forever.


I will say that here at Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods, we have all worked HARD for our good.  Daily choices by all of us drive this little company.  Good.  It's there...simple really, right?

This past summer of 2014 has been one of  THE "best" sequence of events in my adult life.

Speaking of "making your own good"...

Riley


Five years ago, a teenager (yes...nineteen years old) came to our June bamboo fly rod making class from Michigan with his father.  When we first met, I had just given birth to Veronica and Riley was a complete smartass made me laugh (genuinely laugh) within 60 seconds.  Side note...that's my only adult requirement for any relationship (well that and don't be an asshole.)...if you make me laugh...we are friends.  I'm a simple girl.


So, essentially Riley never left Oyster. Bill saw something in him and we offered him a job.  That kid packed up his car and drove down from Michigan in the middle of a massive snowstorm in pursuit of his "good".  While this decision makes sense to most of the life has practically passed me by and I hate what I do for my profession and should have pursued my passion  older and wiser set, it was a bold move.  Riley left the only life he knew...including his childhood sweetheart, Quinn.

While it took some tweaking (not twearking...although that would have been funny)...Riley made a comfy life for himself in Blue Ridge, Georgia. 

Fast forward a few years and Quinn graduates from college.  She leaves her life as well, takes a leap and moves to Blue Ridge.  We did not know Quinn yet...this whole bamboo fly rod making thing is a pretty male dominated world.  What on earth will a real girl think?!?! Not knowing any better,  I am assuming at this point that Quinn will be repelled by at least some of the goings on in the shop. Please...don't act surprised...we offend our own selves daily.

Well...let's say the first evening we all went out upon her arrival...Quinn really made an impression.   She's the gorgeous girl in the sweet dress, million dollar smile with a cold beer in one hand and a cold beer in the other.  Have I mentioned she was raised by a college football coach and she's ashamed of our lack of football prowess around the shop?  Yes, Quinn is the "needle in the haystack".   
 BR Brewery with Quinn

All kidding aside, these two kids grown ups have really made a life at Oyster, Blue Ridge and the world at large.  Riley and Quinn are solid people...in no small part to their parents...these two were raised by quality families that gave them both an enthusiastic push out of the nest by raising independent, thoughtful and strong human beings.

So, our summer was threaded with loads of rod work, a record number of bamboo fly rod making classes, retail follies, tourists, more bamboo fly rod making, Crossfit,  big bacon and bourbon party for Riley and Quinn, family, and most importantly...the wedding.

Riley and Quinn's single most important event in their young sequence...

5 July, 2015



The one in the far right is my favorite...okay and the Crossfit photo is just FUN!
That's Roni bear bottom left and Cutter as a junior groomsmen.  Pause.  Again.




Look at Quinn! 

No sooner was the wedding over...and we had to get BACK TO WORK had our July bamboo fly rod making class.





It went fabulous as usual but the day after the class unraveled the personal experience of my lifetime.

Class ended the day before my birthday.  I woke up on my birthday with a brand new
Game Of Thrones novel with two tickets to an Eco Resort in Costa Rica...for the NEXT day!

I panicked was thrilled!  Off we went a few hours later...It took one big plane, a cab ride, an overnight stay in San Jose,  a bus, one VERY small plane, another bus and a 2 hour boat ride in 5-6 foot swells in the Pacific to finally land in destination.  It was worth every second of it...another game changer...



Thank you, Bill.

Summer moves on...

More Bamboo Fly Rods...More Bamboo Fly Rod Making Classes


Bamboo fly rod making classes...and fishing

Bamboo Fly rod making and summer shop days on Main Street...

More rod work...

Bill hand engraving...

Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods






So...That's our 70ish days of summer...I can confidently say that it was a special sequence.  And, as always...as we plow forward to our next set of self inflicted events (stay tuned), I insist on reflecting back upon this time of our lives as the best yet.
 
My beautiful life.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
 
 
 






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 road...as 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 say...you could have cut me loose and never looked back.  Really...it 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 cars...in my defense...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. 

sub·cul·ture

ˈsəbˌkəlCHər/
noun
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!?!?!
     

    2.  GAME OF THRONES

    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 day...you 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. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

slo

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 efforts...it's just that here...charity really does start at home.



5.  Organic meat is not bought at Whole Foods...it 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 miss...like 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 Years...no itch...yet.