Monday, September 17, 2012

10 reasons why I love my shotgun more than a diamond.

 While diamonds are presumably a girl's best friend...

my shotgun has become my BFF.


This blog needs no introduction.

10. Even if I gain 10 pounds, my shotgun still still fits!
9.   A diamond does nothing but just sit there and I swear my shotgun loves me does.
8.   Having my shotgun "sized and fit" included a full round of sporting clays!
7.   I don't have to wait for a proposal or some special occasion to buy a new shotgun.
6.  You don't have to "take off your nice shotgun" when visiting a questionable area.
5.  It's much more fun to "dust clays" than simply "cut glass".
4.  My husband can engrave my shotgun.
3.  The beauty of a shotgun stock and receiver  is only limited by our imagination.
2.  My shotgun goes "BANG"!
1.   Regardless of the price or size of your shotgun, skill is the great equalizer.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bamboo Fly Rods, Change and the Accidental Retailers

 “If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.”  - Robert Fritz

Late night in the class!

Over three years ago, we had outgrown our "cottage" inspired home workshop after a decade plus and needed more space immediately. So, with a three day old baby in the back seat, we set out to find a workspace that could fit our ever expanding family bamboo fly rod business.

While roaming around, we literally took a wrong turn down Main Street in our new hometown of Blue Ridge, Georgia.   Then, while trying to get off that one way street, the  former run-down "Dip n' Dots" in town and big "FOR LEASE" sign caught our eye.

"Yuk", I said.

"Ooooo...that's cool", Bill said.

"I am not cleaning it", I said.

"Let's call the leasing agent", Bill said.

"I am not cleaning it", I said.

A few minutes later...

"The agent will be here in 15 minutes", Bill said.

"Do you think the ceiling is supposed to be on the floor, Bill", I said.

"I'll see if we can move in Thursday", Bill said.

 "I am not cleaning it", I said.

After a mild negotiation and a professional cleaning, the run down old Dippin Dots in town was all ours...

And, by Thursday, we were ready to work.  However, there was a big surprise on the horizon...

New baby, locked doors and hanging tarps times.

Because we were on Main Street in the rapidly growing tourist area of Blue Ridge, Georgia, people would just walk into our shop...just come in as if they were entitled to some piece of us.  At first, this freaked me out so bad I locked the doors, hung up paint tarps in the windows and left out of the back door of the building so no one would even see me.  Okay, so I had just had a baby...give me a break.  For those of you unfamiliar...when you have a get a little crazy.  I am assuming there is no need to elaborate.

So, here we are...on Main Street trying to make bamboo fly rods for a living, bringing in students from all over the country to teach and raising  two small children all in a run down ice cream shop.

Bill And Henry Williamson in front of the shop

You know where this is going, right?  Eventually, we unlocked the doors, tarps came down and we used the front entrance instead of sliding in and out of the back unnoticed.

Doors unlocked...Oyster showroom

We were warming to the retail lifestyle. We renovated the shop (as much as possible), filled the "showroom" with "merchandise" and opened our hearts to the life of a retailer...sort of.   Most of all, we became part of something bigger than us...we stumbled upon a sub culture of fellow business owners, artists and group of dreamers like ourselves.

Main Street in Blue Ridge, Georgia is the true "Street of Dreams".

We are honored to be a small part of it.

My children are almost a science experiment (the children raised by Main Street).
When Bill called the leasing agent ( the a direct a dear friend of mine now), our lives made a drastic change.  

 Change is hard. 

Change leads to growth.

Growth is good.

As I sit in this "dump" for one of the final times, I can not help but remember...

...Roni has literally spent most of her life rolling around the floors beneath me.
...Cutter became a full fledged boy in front of my eyes here fly tying and breaking away.

...Bill's mother moved here from South Georgia after visiting and enriched all of our lives to infinity.
...Oyster Bamboo grew as a company in every possible way.
...Total strangers have walked through our doors and left as our friends.
...My own connection to my parents and my past deepens as a stroll Main Street remembering how we would visit here on a regular basis growing up.

...We have made friends...real friends...the kind you never expect to come your way as a grown up.

...Yogi spent his last hours in my arms here.

Riley and Quinn


...Just when I thought my heart could not grow any further, Riley, Quinn, Ian, Kara, Tristan and Molly the dog came into  our lives and proved me wrong.  We have them because they entered through our newly unlocked doors.

Quinn aka "SuSu"

So...why so nostalgic?

We are moving in our new space (four doors down) in the very short future and I can not believe I am about to say this but I am going to miss this place.  While I have affectionately referred to it as "the dump" for years, I now see it as a stepping stone of all kinds.

That wrong turn turned into something very right.

Go figure.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My tribal bamboo fly rod!

The above photo is a direct result of the following:

6 months of planning, 7 friends (including my Aunt from Seattle) and 74 hours of work (I was slow and others had to assist me...hence the "tribal" in the rod)...

Originally I had planned to write out a thoughtful blog each day of the class but that was completely unrealistic a bit ambitious.  So, where did we leave off?  I forget...but will tap into whatever memory I have left after a week of being  inundated with bamboofly rod maker responsibilities.

Riley's sense of name is spelled Shannen!

Have I mentioned that straightening the strips almost killed me?  Again, I will not bore you.

After this week, I have a new respect on every level for Bill's undeniable patience and seemingly endless volcano of talent.  This week was special for a myriad of reasons...

My space...brand new perspective these days.

My favorite...planing

 Strangely enough, I really enjoyed planing the rod. Once I got into a rhythm, it was almost relaxing.  

9 weight!

I have skipped about 1000 steps but do you think that I may the first person to ever build a bamboo fly rod in big hoop earrings?!?

Grip shaping
Coating wraps
My Tribe...Bill, Roni, Me, Rick, Linda, Doug, Terry, Jeff, Kathy and Riley

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

About last night...

...and this bamboo fly rod making class.

Okay, I skipped a day because the second day of class started out with straightening strips and the night ended with math!  So, I decided not to tell the tale.  However, I got through it and finally tamed my bamboo strips.

This is how the day started
This is the only way to end a day after wrestling with bamboo strips

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bamboo Fly Rod Class Day One...

After my first day in class making my first bamboo fly rod,  I have discovered the following:

Bill's job is so much better than mine.

Of course, we started with a raw stalk of Tonkin bamboo and 9 hours later ended up with something that kind of resembles some (12) strips of Tonkin bamboo.  Surprisingly, it was fun!  I especially enjoyed the flaming and much better than paperwork.

And so it begins...
Each step was a bit of an out of body experience considering I finally have a "dog in the fight" when it comes to using these tools and manipulating the bamboo.  In fact, the bamboo takes on a life of it's own.

I'll introduce the "players" tomorrow...or not...Bill keeps us busy.

Of course, the kids are getting along fine without me.  No blue paint...yet.  My parents are staying with us to help out, my Aunt from Seattle flew in for the class and our friend Kathy is here at the house/class as well.  The unexpected added benefit of this week is that we are all together for the second evening in a row and my parents cooked for us like we were little kids.  Nice.

Flaming...surprisingly fun! as well!
 So, tomorrow is another day.  Me and the bamboo.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Confessions of A Bamboo Fly Rod Maker's Widow

So...after 14 years, I am taking my first bamboo fly rod making class tomorrow.  Why 14 years?  Well, like many of you reading this, it's something I have always wanted to do but life has been in the way. 

Let's see between work, 2 small children, building a new bamboo fly rod making shop, new office, new Inn, buying the local fly shop (long story...we'll get to that) and the generalities of life...I have every reason to say...

"I don't have the time to take this bamboo fly rod making class."

"I'll do it later this year or wait until things slow down a bit in our lives."

"I can not afford to be away from work for a week..."

"My kids will dissipate into the atmosphere (or get into blue paint)  if I am too busy to smother them."

This is what happens when I am gone...for 5 minutes...what will happen this week?!?!?

The list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on (to infinity).

I have come to the conclusion, like anything else, you MUST make the time to do things that are not directly related to being productive and responsible but in direct relation to evolving as a person in this lifetime.

Bill and I vibe extremely well together in every way...marriage, life, parenting, leisure and the literal work aspect of things.  The next six days will determine if we work as well together as student and teacher. 

So, stay tuned...class starts tomorrow...I will try to "evolve" my way through the week.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An open letter to my brother

Dear Daniel,

Yesterday, I finally surrendered and went to the doctor after being sick for 2 weeks.  It was a  fairly unremarkable visit  until I start filling out all of those monotonous forms.  You know the and I usually don't have much to check personally until the family history page.

Let's be honest, our family's medical history is daunting by all accounts...let's just say, we check a lot of boxes.   But, it's our normal, right?  And, at least for me,  it does not even give me pause unless the doctor (as one not-so-gently put it) says things like, "Geez, your family history is so unusual it almost reinvents the wheel".  Thanks Doc.

Where was I...oh, yeah...forms, routine, blah, blah, blah.

So, there it was...the box to check that gave me pause...

Actually, I am under exaggerating. This box literally pulled the breathe from my chest.  The box on the form looked so innocent, one dimensional and harmless, right?  Then why was my hand shaking?  Why did I feel like your kidney cancer deserved more than a mere mention on this form?  If I checked this box and revealed your "relationship" to me as my brother, will your cancer somehow gain more strength and meaning? 

Once I filled out the form, I became very possessive of it and wanted to tell the receptionist about it's significance.  I wanted to tell her that even though I had to check "that box",  you are going to be fine.  You actually had your kidney and the cancer removed and that was all a blessing in disguise, right?  Your one kidney will be more efficient than two mediocre kidneys, so you are actually better off, right?  

I then wanted to tell her that this cancer thing does not make sense anyways.  The universe it wrong this time!

My brother does not break.

My brother fixes people.

That's why he's the Godfather to our children and the calm I can always depend on...yes, the universe has misspoken.  It will all be okay.

Besides having four happy children and an incredible wife by all standards,  Dan,  you reach far beyond your own into the community at large.  You can not do enough for others and in real ways...and not the superficial kind.
-Remember when we were kids and you won all that money playing BINGO on our family cruise and donated it to charity (after I begged off $5)?

-Remember when we were in high school and on Valentine's Day you brought roses to the girls in school that you thought would be ignored and made them feel beautiful? 

-Remember how you rallied with such force when your wife's brother and father died in the same year?

- Remember when you were diagnosed with kidney cancer and all your thoughts and energy were laser focused on the implications involving your wife and children instead of yourself.

I write this letter in such a public manner because for whatever reason, it gives your cancer the respect it deserves.  For me, in a way, it gives the cancer an "omni" dimension versus the one dimension the "box to check"  on the form offers.  This letter is intended to lift the cancer off that piece of paper and honor you, my brother.

As your sister, we not only share DNA, but we share the same childhood story and without you, it would be half gone or left up to my fading memory...not good.

So, this year...the next two words take on a whole new "dimension"...

Happy Birthday.

Now, make a wish.

Forever your partner in crime and sister,


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Proverbs, Flocks and Bamboo Fly Rods

 You've heard the proverbs...

"You are what you eat" ... well then I am a stick of pepperoni.

 "Necessity is the mother of invention" ... our favorite around the shop.

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" ... no comment.

"Behind every great man is a great woman" ... (inset smirk on my behalf here).

"The way to a man's heart is through meatballs his stomach" ... so obvious but often overlooked.

"Birds of a feather flock together" ... Personally, this expression has transcended from it's origin in my youth when my mother would yell it at me while I was boarding the school bus as a hybrid of advice and warning.

However, today...the idiom is a constant in my life.  This bird (being me) gradually turns into a bamboo fly rod maker's typical demographic (the flock) little by little, day by day.  Our shop is usually full of (how do I say this gently?) more mature and evolved men.  There are plenty of women and youth around but my peer group by default is an older sporting crowd  So, that's my flock.

Just saying...

This is not a complaint just a simple acknowledgement  of how I am turning into Oyster's target audience based on the following observations:


...have learned to appreciate the virtues of scotch (even without diet coke) and cigars.
...participate in seemingly endless conversations about life,  time going by too fast, the need for solitude in nature, technology gone wild and our growing disdain for the "entitlement generation".  

...find  a chorus of horrible old man jokes hilarious...really bad...really funny.

....inadvertently groan when I lean over. longer sweat the small stuff but show up early if it's serious.

... pose for a pictures with my gunsmith! flock.

It's winter but no snow (chorus of woo-hoos all around please).  Our first bamboo fly rod making class of 2012 starts Sunday.  Meanwhile, our building is WELL on it's way to being our new "headquarters".  There's lots of change.  But, it's all good.  But, lots of change.

Oyster's future home...I can hardly believe it.

The kids are completely oblivious to everything, of course.   I marvel at how ridiculously happy they are all most of the day.
 I often visualize Cutter and Veronica as adults having a cup of coffee together discussing
their upbringing in a bamboo fly rod making shop and pray that they are happy, healthy and 
together as their own two-man "flock".