Monday, July 20, 2015

Karma and the Bamboo Fly Rod

In the spirit of full disclosure I must admit that the following is most likely inspired by my birthday.  I turned 45 yesterday. Forty-Five.  Four Five...Fifty less Five.  Thirty plus Fifteen.  Half of Ninety.

When we started Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods, we were in our  late 20s.   In contrast, the majority of our clientele is and always has been...ummm...older wiser.  I can honestly say that we have received the benefit of said wisdom on many occasions.  Through the years, Oyster clients have generously offered up some tidbits about getting old securing your place in life's phase two...

1.  Getting old ain't for sissies.  (Yes...oldie but goodie)
2.  I have been spending the second half of my life making up for how terrible I was in the first half.
3.  If you have not learned anything by this age, you are not paying attention.
4.  Bending over to pick something up is just hard now.
5.  Teach your kids to fly fish row the boat.

So, why do I feel young?  I do.  Why do I feel as though I am in my prime?  

Time has become illogical.  It has flown by in one sense but stood tortuously still in another...  As I look back on yesterday my entry from five years ago exactly, there has been a lifetime squeezed inside the confines of only half a decade.  

Oh wait...

I just purposely deleted an hour of writing with two paragraphs of clichés' about what I have learned in the past five years...

...Really...but I will say this about being 45 years old.

I own it.

This has been the absolute clearest path I have ever taken in life.  After "getting out of my own way", letting go of superficial hang ups and crossing over into a more refined vision of my second act, I own this age.

Fear and loathing is seriously over rated and the adage "getting what you give" bellows with such great force in my daily routine that it has become sacred.

You Get What You Give. 

If you accept that energy can not be created or destroyed...only transferred...this makes perfect sense.

True giving is not exclusively spoken for by a league of pre-determined people. It's in all of us.  It's often the most visceral reaction to any of life's event.  

Giving is quite possibly the lowest common denominator that connects us why is it so difficult?  Personally, I have found that life's distractions and overpowering need for perceived self preservation can dull down the senses into apathy. 

However, if you pull your head out of your ass long enough to realize the universe was not actually created for you if you exalt kindness and compassion, life's possibilities and tidings are endless

Endless.  Energy.  Endless.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

lost, found and bamboo fly rods

Many years ago, while mountain biking on the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains,  I literally panicked near dusk at the bottom of a treacherous decent...

Me:  "Babe, we are lost."

Bill:   "We are not lost...we can always go back the way we came."


Bill and I met over 21 years ago in Athens, Georgia.  We were both in school at the University of Georgia but that is not where it all began...I worked at the music magazine in town and Bill was a professional road cyclist (please note that even then we both had low paying interesting jobs).  The bike shop and magazine shared the same building on Broad Street  and we would literally pass one another several times a day. 

Bill quietly ignored me came and I went without notice while he trained and worked as a bike mechanic when not on the road racing.

I demurely threw myself at him tried to get his attention over and no avail...let's see...
...I made friends with his friends
...I would repeatedly "visit" the bike shop to "borrow" the vacuum
...I would "cool myself off" at the only available AC window unit in the building in front of his bike stand (okay, this is where I went too far...but COME ON!)

Here is how our first date happened.  The following is true.  It's early evening circa 1993...Bill is sitting on the back of a car in our building's parking lot drained after a long training ride...I am leaving the magazine with a stack of albums (yes...the vinyl kind...I even remember what I was carrying...Pylon, Superchunk's No Pocky for be exact and Stevie Nicks), 

Bill:  (head hanging and body slumped over after riding 10 million miles on a training ride barely making eye contact) Hi

Me:  "Hi, wanna come over on Thursday?  I don't have cable TV but I just rented Fast Times at Ridgemont High...we can watch that.

Bill:  "Ummmm..."

Me:  "Also, I make killer meatballs."

Bill:  "What time?"

We were married on a Thursday a few months are some highlights...

I wore my mother's dress
It was the first marriage ceremony that our priest performed
Bill threw up in the middle of our ceremony (google introvert)...really
My brother video taped said throw up
The food at the reception was delicious
My parents had to cut the cake, made the toast and danced in our place (see Bill threw up)
My sweet niece, Rebekah, was our flower girl

young, dumb and in love
We lived on so little.  We traveled simply (except for the garage full of gear we always dragged along).  We perused our dreams.  The remainder of the world thought we were delusional too young to understand the reality of it all.  We heard a chorus of chatter about the "living in the real world" and "just wait" from everyone but my father  on a regular basis. 

Here's some presumptuous helpful advice through the years:

"You cannot marry one another after a few months...just wait."
"What?!?  No corporate ladder with benefits?" (remember 20 years ago...this was ridiculous)
"You cannot live on love alone...just wait."
"You cannot just buy a sailboat in New Orleans, drop it in the ocean and take a left! You will die."
"You absolutely cannot pay the bills making an antiquated fishing pole...just wait."

Yet, we spoke openly to one another about living sincerely...never losing sight of us.  It seemed as though the easiest way to find ourselves was to stay as close together as possible.  In fact, the entire catalyst for our bamboo fly rod making company was to do something in tandem.  Go with your strengths. 

We spent our 20s and much of our 30s creating Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods, sailing (hence my son's name Cutter), mountain biking, reading books, fly fishing and traveling (rinse and repeat).  We worked and played hard.  We zigged and zagged through life's obstacles and always landed on our feet.

Then came our Rite of Passage...

Shit got real.  Life complicated itself.  We navigated through births, deaths, illnesses and life's unavoidable floods and assholes.  There has not been any one event per say but there were days that it felt like we were being swallowed whole and the life we created actually lost sight of it's very own visceral origins.  It's so true that your measure as a human being is how you handle inevitable complexities.   All the while, we kept our sense of humor and allowed joy to ground us but there were days that we felt umm...lost.


This feeling is the impetus for our future.

Me:  "Babe, we are lost."

Bill:   "We are not lost...we can always go back the way we came."

It's true.  You are never so lost that you can not go back the way you came.  Everyone has a different interpretation of this but for's about immersing ourselves in wonder.   It's about our little family, the nature about us, cooking meatballs to the lull of Tom Waits and knowing (and I mean knowing) that we ultimately always find ourselves in one another.

then and now and now

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.'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"...


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 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 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 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.