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.



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Facebook, oversharing and bamboo fly rods

oyster bamboo fly rod's children and big trout
POST! Okay...these photos belong on children and Kory with their bamboo fly rods and huge trout!

For years, Oyster Bamboo Fly Rod's marketing department (me) has deliberately "opted out" of the Facebook phenomenon.  Deliberate or not...and among other reasons, this marketing department (me) prefers oversharing the old fashioned way (face to face with a bottle of wine).

In fact, this blog (and if you are reading know that it's fairly difficult to even find this link on our web site)  originally was a passive way to share our story a bit more in-depth with future students coming from afar.  Then, you (my flock...and you know who you are) talked me into digging a little deeper and I now must admit, I enjoy chronicling this zany little life that chose us. 

oyster bamboo fly rod making class in blue ridge ga
One of Oyster's first Facebook photos...Bill photo bombing Riley during a class...look close.

I see Facebook as a third party presence that looms over pop culture in most situations. I won't bore you with all of the "everybody's very own editable reality show" references but I will say integrating "camera courage" into our lives has been fun to watch from the safe haven of  an "observer" non-participant.  So far...

Is it "post-worthy" when horses regularly cruise Main Street?  Do others find this as amusing?

I have heard from Facebook bullies advocates for years concerning  the benefits of sharing your life online...

You can keep up with your friend's children.
I would love to but I have a hard enough time keeping up with my own!

You can reconnect with friends from your past.
See above...

Facebook allows you to play games online with your friends!

You can tell everyone "what's on your mind"...
Do you know me at all?  Because if you do...this is not a very good suggestion.

oyster bamboo fly rods on facebook

So, you know where this is going, right?

After much cajoling from the peanut gallery Riley, Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods went Facebook official a few weeks ago.  And, even though I do not use my personal account, this little company is personal. Period.  Now I must learn how to properly navigate all of this or just move forward and maneuver as always .  For Oyster, there is no other possible approach than to just put it out there...our genuine nature.  "Like it or not".

And then there is the cat and mouse game with the newest "age old" question:  

To Post or Not To Post!?!?  

molly at oyster bamboo fly rods workshop in blue ridge, ga

So, will this be some conversion on my part about sharing my personal, private, professional and family self more readily with zeal and vigor?  Is this blog going to end in some cathartic revelation about the integration of Facebook into my life?  

Probably not.  However, I remain flexible on this issue.

oyster bamboo fly rods on facebook

One more confession regarding why Facebook makes Oyster Bamboo Fly Rod's marketing department (me) uncomfortable.  I was raised to keep my true personal feelings at arms-length.  Therefore,  begging asking for your approval on any level feels wrong unnatural.


I'll employ my secret weapon (I hear animals and kids are a big hit on Facebook)

veronica oyster at oyster bamboo fly rod shop blue ridge ga


In a much more subdued voice...
please and thank you

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day, Bamboo Fly Rods and the "Best" Lifestyle

It's Mother's Day.  Naturally, I am feeling proud, content and superior to all other mothers full of self doubt!  In the weeks leading up to this sacred day, our culture inundates us with the images of "perfect mothers" by showering them us with accolades, flowers, perfume...blah,blah, blah.  Sans the perfume...that's how my day began as well...but it did not take long for me to question the deserving nature of it all.

While the catalyst for moving to a rural community in the North Georgia mountains was finding a proper place to raise our children, the reality is our children spend most of their time in a bamboo fly rod making shop on Main Street in a busy little tourist town surrounded by eccentric shop owners, fly fishing guides and the mountains are simply our backdrop.  And, most days this feels natural and "best". 

Some days I wonder if the infamous "cul-de-sac" culture is "best".  I shut my eyes and remember my own upbringing...a two story brick house on a 1/2 acre lot in a subdivision north of Atlanta with the outstanding schools.  Children were everywhere...all of the time.  There were block parties, go carts, swimming pools, tennis courts, trampolines, ponds stocked with fish, paved roads and stay-at-home mothers with the sweetest nature about them (although now as an adult I realize most of those mother's were simply drunk).

Then I snap out of it.  Indeed, I had a fairly ideal childhood.  Because I have chosen to do something different does not interpret into either choice being right or wrong. 
When we visit the suburbs, I can not help but notice other little girls sitting quietly, holding a purse with their legs crossed clutching the latest and greatest advertised toy.  I think (for a second)...where did I go wrong?  This stark contrast haunts me (for a minute).    My little girl does not even know the meaning of an "inside voice"...does not sit long enough in one place to cross her legs and her favorite toy is the shop's pic ax (don't judge me).

Roni and Cutter's life inside the and old...real ones.
My self doubt eventually gives way to that unabashed maternal confidence that comes from deep down...not a perfume commercial.

Our lifestyle is good. Our children are happy.

The environment we provide for Cutter and Roni exposes them to hard work, an enormous amount of love, art and nature on a daily basis.  Even though there are not a lot of other children (they do have a few quality friendships) around the shop, their "peers" are Oyster clients (who are truly some of the most interesting people on earth) and their lives are enriched because of them.

This is probably the most valuable lesson I have learned about motherhood:

There are infinite ways to parent well.   There is not a "best" way to raise a child.    Do what feels natural for you and your family and it will all work out.

Regardless, your children grow and hopefully flourish.

Speaking of...

show me happy, show me angry, show me sad, show me confused, show me shocked

...Roni turned four last week.  Her party was in the local park and the guest list included the entire family, 2 friends, one Oyster client who surprised us from Colorado and mostly fly fishing guides.

show me 4
Case and Point (see "best" reference above).

Our groove has simply improved each day with the new already feels like we've been there forever.  Also, there have been significant improvements made to our bamboo fly rods recently as well...both aesthetically and artistically.  After a decade of planning, we have a new bamboo fly rod that is quiet revolutionary in our tiny little sub-culture.  

Cutter Love
Since it's Mother's Day, I'll save the real "shop talk" for later.

However, I will tell you about my new shotgun! It's a Beretta Perennia 20 G with a 28" barrel.  I love it and it loves me back. It does. Don't judge me.  

Of course, it's spring in the Blue Ridge mountains so we fortunately have made time for shooting, fishing and even dusted off our mountain bikes. 

fish, bang, FISH

Here's the crazy Mother's Day and I have everyone's blessing to do whatever I want...

So, I am going to the shop to see my family and meet some new friends 
(a bamboo fly rod making class started today).

Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Bamboo Fly Rod, a Can of Worms and the Sentimental Nature of it All

My class was on March 3rd and through all of the ups and downs...I successfully made another bamboo fly rod without crying impaling anyone.

About a month before my class, I sent out an email asking for advice concerning my new bamboo fly rod.  I asked Oyster clients to help design it...I did was my fault.  I'll own it here for all to scrutinize.  I asked for your input and I heard you all...loud and clear.  A lot of you.  I opened the metaphorical can of worms.

There were so many heart felt, well thought out responses.  Thank you. Of course, I also received the obligatory ridiculous responses as well (you know who you are...Richard Rones). 

There were so many responses related to donating my rod...point well taken.  But, there is one complication concerning that plan...I don't have my own trout rod.  I borrow, steal and plead.  Bill has never had the time to build one for me (or himself for that matter...have you seen his beat-up rod?!?!) so I opted to make a bamboo rod for myself.  Donating a rod?  I thought hard on this one...Next year...

I normally only write one of these blogs if I have a"moment"

Here was the unexpected inevitable revelation I had while sifting through your responses about designing my rod:  The bamboo fly rod is a sentimental thing and I personally take this for granted.  Life has a way of blurring the lines between pleasure and responsibility regardless of what you may do for a living.  It's almost a relief to be reminded by YOU that I am surrounded by our future's history (yes, that makes perfect sense to me) of craftsmanship not only at Oyster but also by the legacy that each rod crafted by our students carries on for generations.

Each hand crafted bamboo fly rod has a story.

Each story is unique.

These stories live on for future generations and allow us (as the makers) to leave a piece of ourselves with those who will only know us through others and what we leave behind...

So, here was my final choice for the rod I made this year...
Technically the rod is a  7' 9" 6 weight, very dark flamed with clear wraps with a medium fast taper.  It is one of Bill's favorite rods to fish and make for Oyster clients.

Now,the real details:
I built this rod for my daughter, Veronica Flower Oyster.  The story I want to leave with her is this:
She is strong.  She will bend but not break. Her pedigree is strength. 

"Find your grace through Strength"

wrapping day ... single homage on right before varnish
This rod's story is strength.  

These single turn wraps are an homage to our family.  There are four wraps (pink, red, orange and green).  The Pink and Red represent my mother's arduous battle with cancer and heart disease. The Orange represents my brother's kidney cancer as well as his relentless survival spirit and the Green is for Bill's father.  Bill's father died in 2003 of Appendix Cancer.  Green was his favorite color (there is not a color to represent this rare cancer).  Bill's father was the epitome of strength and courage.  He changed lives and was undoubtedly the toughest human being I have ever met.   

Finally, because Veronica and I both feel that we are Mermaids doomed to walk the earth (don't judge me), Bill engraved his best yet.  It's my opinion.

Simply class was FUN!  My Aunt Terry from Seattle was here again as well as our dear friend Kathy and her friend (and now ours) Cathy.

I can not resist sharing my top 5 insights during my class week:

1.  We need to update our waivers.
2.  Don't wear white on day 2 (this was advice from a February student as well...point taken)
3.  Listen to Bill
4.  Wrap in clear!!!
5.  A small amount of blood never hurt anyone (see #1)

Fire and Ice Trout!,  Hunter's devotion to fly fishing and pizza, Kara loves my crown

A few other notables over the past month or so...Blue Ridge had the annual Fire and Ice Festival.  It may or may not surprise you that I was crowned  Ice Queen during the festivities.   I will say that it came as a bit of a shock because I thought to be the queen of anything, you must first leave your office?!?!  The picture above is my assistant (Kara) who was a wee bit more excited than myself about the crown.   I hear this honor requires that you ride on a float for the 4th of July parade...hopefully, this will be overlooked.

Also, Oyster was fortunate enough to be in a few publications. A few regional magazines were kind enough to mention us in addition to Worth and SW Georgia Magazine.  These publications are a refreshing source of information in our digital age.  Nothing can replace the touch and feel of print (I graduated from the UGA's Grady College of I really do mean this).

Humbled, Happy and Blessed

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Shooting in Pajamas, Bamboo Fly Rods & letting go of the Martyr

When I woke up this morning, I had no intention of shooting. With Bill on the other end of the planet on his annual trip to Argentina for a few weeks, my schedule goes from hectic to quasi insane...not to mention lonely (days are good...nights stink...see reference to my co-dependent nature). 

Self admittedly, I could probably go a bit easier on myself and not bury every waking moment in so much work during Bill's absence but that would go against my urge to be a martyr nature.

So, there I was this AM standing in my closet planning for a slow day downtown (think Wednesdays in the southern bible belt) anticipating the load of paperwork I will catch up on while desiring comfort over all else.  So,  I wore my pants that look suspiciously like pajamas.

Around 10:30 at the shop, I looked up from my computer and found Ian, Derek and Hunter staring down at's how it went...

Hunter:  Let's go shoot.
Me:  Now?  No.
Hunter:  Why, come on!
Me: No. I am in my pajamas. 
Derek:  Is there anything I can help you with?
Me: (insert snarky tone here) Do you want to try and navigate all of this obnoxious paperwork?
Derek:  I will if you want. Let me try to help you.  ( I feel bad...a little)
Hunter: Come on Shannen...Bang, Bang! (insert some strange dance Hunter does here)
Me: No.
Hunter: Why?  (now think begging man child)
Me: What will I do with Veronica?
Derek:  Ian and I will watch her.
Me:  How will Cutter get home from school?
Ian:  I'll pick him up.  No problem.
Me:  I sold my favorite gun.
Hunter: I'll go to your house and pick up what you need and bring some of my  shotguns that you love to shoot (think pump gun...yeah, I said it...I like pump guns).

As I systematically placed obstacles in my way tried to explain that I can not just leave in the middle of the day and I was convinced that I had taught them all an important life lesson with my unwavering commitment to bamboo fly rods...I heard my little voice...

Go.  Let go of the martyr for just a few hours.

That's all it took...well, that and Hunter whining in my ear...


Hello Bang Bang!

 Station 10 always reminds me of why we moved to the Blue Ridge mountains
 (it's easy to forget sometimes...or take it for granted...gasp). 

Even in the absence of my favorite shotgun (sold it...waiting for my new favorite shotgun )...I had a beautiful day and shot just for fun.  Shooting sporting Clays and letting go of my martyr allowed me to connect with three important things today that I otherwise would have missed: 

Station 3 Clay Graveyard

(1) My bamboo fly rod community of  wayward boys that were so willing to help me have the break I needed.
(2) Blue Ridge and the mountains that lured us here to begin with...
(3) My pajamas that held up even under the pressure of several hundred rounds.

Pajamas are the newest in chic sporting gear...pass it on.