a crisis, choosing good, and the bamboo fly rod

oyster bamboo fly rod



Not really…


So, we can all agree on one thing…there is a crisis out there. Since the shit the fan the world was sent off camber…it has been eerily peaceful here around Oyster…except for when I my parents visit and I yell at them from a 6 foot distance about dying if they do not stay home.

Don’t get me wrong…we are trudging through this carnage inch by inch as a family and small business while attempting to be relatively responsible citizens.

Surprisingly…I am excellent in a crisis… It’s the ordinary struggles that make me crazy.

CRISIS: If you unexpectedly lose consciousness while driving on the highway…I am able to grab the wheel of a car with utmost calm and guide us to the nearest hospital.

HOWEVER: ordinary struggle: If an unsuspecting tourist drops their cigarette on my driveway or leaves trash on our property or anywhere in downtown Blue Ridge for that matter…I frequently go “crazy Oyster lady on them”. Try me.

CRISIS: If our sailboat nearly capsizes during a storm at 2 A.M. in the ocean and you need me at the helm for the next three hours as we sail into nothingness, I’m the only option ideal first mate.

HOWEVER: ordinary struggle: The kids drink my last La Croix and I QUIT LIFE!

CRISIS: If I get mugged in broad daylight on a busy sidewalk during rush hour in the middle of downtown Atlanta on Spring Street…I will surprise even myself and brawl like a complete idiot hide my bag under my body, elbow you in the eye (imagine I am face first on the ground…man on top of me while another man rubs my face into the concrete) all while screaming and scratching explaining that this is a new purse and “IT IS MINE NOT YOURS”.

Editor’s note: This confrontation took so long a security guard on the 14th floor of an office building saw it happening and had enough time to get down onto the street, cross 6 lanes of traffic and help me. In hindsight, I should have just given up my new bag but it was mine and I am an angry little thing.

HOWEVER: ordinary struggle: If I run low on gas unexpectedly and have to pull over and interrupt my SYSK podcast…day ruined!

CRISIS: Getting shot at when 9 months pregnant by a mentally unstable neighbor…Never mind…you get the idea…

once i ran out of our good wine…we stocked up on the box and…well…we scavenged

The acceptance of the current situation as a small business is in part due to experience… being that this is Oyster’s third global economic meltdown.

Yet, perhaps, more importantly below the surface of the comforts of history repeating itself on a financial level is the obnoxious poignant reinforcement of the lack of control we have over…well…anything. EVER. DUH

Our immediate response in March was to vacillate between a hard scramble and laser focus while attempting to direct the pieces plummeting around us. That worked…for a minute. And we are better off for it. No regerts regrets.

However, as the days turned into weeks and the weeks turn (present tense) into months…we are left with one obvious decision.

We choose to live. We choose to seek out the good.

This decision to live by our choices reaches far beyond our current footing.
Personally, there is nothing like a cataclysmic event to pull my head out of my ass embrace inevitable harsh realities and choose to accept them, adapt, move forward and clear a path for a sound mind and heart.

Months ago, Bill gave me 24 hours to lick my wounds, scream into a pillow and curse the earth. I know what comes next. It’s a little game we play when life gets real. Focus. We must focus to get through garbage the universe throws at us any bad situation. This time our focus has shifted on all accounts.

Call it a reckoning. Call it an epiphany. Call it Nancy…it doesn’t matter.

While scrutinizing every imaginable choice (no matter how massive or seemingly benign)…we choose to live. And I do not mean “choosing to live” by going back out in crowded places and licking each other.

We live by our choice to vehemently not ignore what is potentially catastrophic but to also not ignore the beauty set out before us that was lost in the blur of life just a few short months ago.

Yesterday, we focused on our basic needs and maintaining some resemblance of life before the unfathomable…

Today our focus has not become any less intense…it has simply shifted to a bigger picture

We choose to focus on the good.


And as the “Oyster ecosystem” per se is dragged through a pandemic birth canal alongside the rest of the world with COVID…here is where we land.

We choose each other.
We choose to raise our family in this little rouge rural mountain town.
We choose to keep our friend group tight and small.

We choose good.

We choose nature.

We choose an outdoor industry.

We choose to make things…with our hands.

We choose to make bamboo fly rods for a living and forever strive for the unobtainable however virtuous pursuit of “beyond reproach”.

We choose good whenever humanly possible.

veronica’s self portrait

And while we didn’t get time off to binge Netflix, self reflect or bake because of the hustle necessary to meet our basic needs, we have inherited the extraordinary consequences of a much slower pace forced pressed upon our lives.

GOOD CHOICES (way better than obsessing while reading news and being informed)

ME: I chose choose to keep my sense of humor about 83% of the time, drink all of my “good” wine, use all of my “good” soaps, lose myself in family and friends and leave for the lake in the middle of writing this.

BILL: Our fearless leader chose chooses to fish (that’s a stretch) up his online chess game, up his workshop dart game and take me to the lake in the middle of writing this.

CUTTER: Cutter chose chooses his ole lady over all of us.

RONI: Roni chose chooses to work on her Ollie, illustrate a book and grow up. Boo.

RILEY: Riley chose chooses (big stretch again) to fish, dabble in blacksmith arts & garden.

QUINN: Quinn chose chooses to keep pints filled while taking it one day at a time spending time with Riley, Cutter, Roni and us…

BRUCE: Bruce (aka Daddy) does not get to choose because he is at home. I cannot explain how much I miss this man. This is not good but I know it is for the best and he is growing a garden and they are perfecting their “On Golden Pond” routine on Lake Lanier.

KASSIE: Kassie chooses to watch Charleigh grow up (boo) while taking my many calls.

DEAN: Dean chooses to fish, fish and fish (another huge stretch around here).

PICKLES, PEPPER, MOXIE & NIBBLES: Nothing but lounging and goodness here…

bamboo fly rod

“I think I fish, in part, because it’s an anti-social, bohemian business that, when gone about properly, puts you forever outside the mainstream culture without actually landing you in an institution.”

-John Gierach

Editor’s note full disclosure: I hesitate to even write/post/think about COVID publicly on any level because focusing on it makes my stomach churn and can bring out the pessimist in me. Yet, as time passes…COVID’s power over me has diminished greatly due to shifting my focus which may change next week. So, I end this post with the same words I have used for most of my adult life but this time with a pounding heart.

Stay safe and sound (ish),

See you soon.


2 thoughts on “a crisis, choosing good, and the bamboo fly rod

  1. To one of my favorite families. My week in your shop will always be one of my greatest memories and experiences. My class rod is my fondest possession. If I can carry only one thing out of my burning house, well, besides my puppy it will be the rod. My life has gone down the toilet. January 1, 2019, our granddaughter who live with us was killed in an automobile accident. The family was stunned. Her mother in Florida grieved so that my wife, Julie, went down in May to visit and comfort her. While there. Julie caught some virus that turned into a neurological disease that leads to paralysis. Before it was caught, her hands and feet were totally paralyzed. This for a woman who had been our church organist for over twenty years. She spent months in hospitals and rehab centers and then nine months in New York where her daughter’s husband, a geriatrics specialist, tried to help her rehab. In May I flew her home where I am sole caregiver. She can do little for herself but does walk with leg braces and a walker. I strap a fork onto her hand and she can feed herself- a major improvement over us feeding her all her meals last summer. It is killing me at age 81. Haven’t tied or fished in almost two years and have no idea if I ever will have a chance to do so. Life is tough, but God must have a plan because He lets us keep waking up every day. I only venture out for groceries and then only at times the store will be sparsely populated. Well, so life is what it is and what we make of it. Good to hear from you and I think of you folks often.
    Hugs to all.


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