Posts Tagged ‘Every Day in May Challenge


Every Day In May Challenge Final Topic: Achievement

Distant landmarks that stood off in the distance. The final gates off a ranch. They seemed so far away, but eventually through a circuitous route across the landscape I finally reached them. It felt wonderful and at the same time I hated to close them behind me and leave. Maybe I will go back.

“Achievement, exploit, feat are terms for a noteworthy act. Achievement connotes final accomplishments of something noteworthy, after much effort and often in spite of obstacles and discouragements…” (some dictionary)

Awards based on accomplishments; building things; completing giant tasks; successfully implementing new concepts; retiring from a long, notable career; helping raise wonderful children; mentoring others………  All the above are achievements. But, of late, there are four  notable ones, of which I am most humbly proud, in admittedly varying degrees of emotional intensity.

First, my oldest son and I spent the final hours with my father as he lay in a hospital bed dying. He had had a stroke days earlier. We assumed he would survive but be disabled. We didn’t know that the strokes were continuing and he was in the act of passing. As I entered the room and stared at my once invincible father I noticed that labored, gasping breathing. I didn’t understand really what I was looking at. A nurse walked up and said ‘you know what is going on don’t you? What I asked. Simply put, staring into my eyes, she said ‘he’s dying now’. She walked past me out of the room. As if I had been handed a script seconds before the curtain was to rise, there I stood on life’s stage. Ill prepared and stunned. I knelt beside him looking at his face. I held his hand, something I had never done before. I rubbed his forehead and hair, again something I had never done before. I told him I loved him. Need I say it. He passed on into that stillness. In the room you could only hear a ticking of the clock and the normal bustle in the hallway of a hospital, through the room’s closed door. My son and I stood there and took it in. My dad, the warrior, the rock was at peace. 

Second, I spent the better part of the last five years tending to my mom, who was tortured by cancer, hoarding, depression and finally spent the last five months of her life in our home dying of the cancer. I, not alone for sure, saw that through to the final breath. My sweet mom.

Thirdly, as my mom was dying, her sister and best friend was also ill. Dementia, reclusiveness, hoarding and heart disease brought my Aunt into my life as my mom died. There was no one else to care for my Aunt. My wife and I adopted my reclusive Aunt and spent over a year gaining her trust. We gained admission into her home, into a chair unearthed from her mountains of  stuff and finally we gained admission into her heart. In the end, we spent those final months as she slipped ever deeper into dementia. Again, I was there for the that final grinding, long, gasping ride to the quiet end. The clock ticking in the silent room.

I am proud of those three achievements because it was how it use to be long ago. It was a challenge and it was mentally exhausting. But, in the end, they passed with someone holding their hands. It was spiritual and challenging. I hope it is not morose or maudlin. It is intended to be the passage, the journey we all move through….eventually.


Lastly, the Every Day in May Challenge. It has been a very positive and enlightening experience. When Chadd VanZanten of How Small A Trout corresponded with me, I was immediately impressed by the topics list. Yes, much of it was fishing related and I relished the opportunity of giving up a little bit of me that others really don’t know under the cloak of SwittersB.

But, other factors became entwined whether Chadd knew this would result or not I don’t know. Life intervened for me. More strife, more stressors, more distractions. To make the daily posting and to be challenged to write outside the box and try for something different perhaps was challenging and I have to say rewarding for me. 

So, why the attachment of the seemingly heavy stuff above…the deaths of my loved ones. Well along the way of this Every Day In May Challenge quite a few topics and writing efforts renewed my faith in the spiritual value of the outdoors in healing, renewing, focusing the mind and heart. Being at one with self, nature, God, and the past. Peace of mind and of heart. It was a heck of a lot of fun too! 

Thanks to all the fine bloggers that participated and added energy and motion to this fun project. Hooray for us!!!

Well, Hooray for Me Too!


Every Day In May Topic: Fish Philosophy

I fish to connect. I strive, of course, to connect the fly to the fish. But also, to connect with my spiritual side, my predatory side, just more of me. Over the years, ‘me’ has blurred and faded where it shouldn’t. Fly fishing has always brought degrees of clarity.

Fly fishing is observation, exploration and movement. While I take a place in my ‘chapel’ I settle in and look about. I say my prayers and attempt to become at one with beauty, with the purpose, with my place in all this. It is so much easier there.

A gorgeous little gem! SwittersB

Yes, I love the big fish…the fine specimen. But, I marvel at the little gems as well that lay across your palm waiting for the hook’s removal. I will admit to a hierarchy of preferred fish, but I enjoy them all and would love to expand the variety some day.

I am predominantly a Catch and Release fly fisher. Wild is sacred. Hatchery more often than not gets a pass because beyond a little salmon, sturgeon, halibut & fish and chips, I don’t eat much fish. Do I kill fish? Yes, rarely. Coming back from Sitka, I’ve got the freezer box full of a little bit of Kings, Silvers, Sea Bass and Halibut. Notice I said a little bit. I’ve brought too much fish home before. Even after giving lots away and eating some, I still ended up with freezer burned fish. That is a waste. I just don’t feel the urge to kill a few fish, gut them and fry them up. I did as a kid, but stopped along the way after I’d kill the first fish and then not catch another one all day or the next. Seemed unnecessary, silly even. The put ‘n take fisheries encourage such nonsense.

The Quick Release…usually on the fish’s terms.

I guess that, in a circuitous route, points to my ‘fish philosophy’: at peace on the water, respect for the resource, connected to self and to something bigger.

Tomorrow’s Every Day in May Challenge Topic: Achievements (The Final Day…Whew!) 


Every Day in May Coolness: The Fishing Gene

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Every Day in May Writing Challenge. One unfortunate point to it is perhaps there should have been a central check in point to register all the participants. Perhaps there was and I wasn’t aware. Next time perhaps….a running list of participants?

I know I was not aware that Tim Rolston at the Fishing Gene was participating and with wonderful graphics and crisp writing. Here, as we draw near the conclusion, I notice Tim has been putting out a great effort. Of course, he always does under normal circumstances. 

Anyway, drop by The Fishing Gene from PARACADDIS. Sorry I was oblivious Tim.


Every Day in May Challenge: (News) Memorial Day & Remembrance

In the News: It is beyond dutiful, to remember the United States holiday of Memorial Day. It is a time to remember those that perished in the service of their country. It has become a broader remembrance of our loved ones who have passed on. I believe that is a good thing, as long as somewhere in the recesses of the mind there is a squaring up and paying of respect to those that died fighting wars; those that served and women that waited.

Memorial Day at my parents grave. They Served Then and Thereafter.

 I grew up in a neighborhood that joined together on such holidays as Memorial Day to display flags and seemingly act reverential. People new people who had perished in WWII or Korea. My parents never went on and on about my dad’s service. I won’t either. He served. He saw. He internalized. He suffered. He and my mom paid a price. It should be memorialized for more than one day in your mind and heart. Bless my parents.

No politicizing, patronizing, flag waving, flag burning, moralizing, pontificating….seriously bow your head and say a prayer for those that lost their lives in some hell hole. The least you can do today. I guess that is sermonizing. 




Every Day in May: Shoreline…The Vantage Point



The ‘Shoreline’, the Sea Shore, the changing edge by the water…the water that rises and falls, scours, churns, smothers then recedes to reveal the new look….the new shoreline, like above (post hurricane).

But, the above shoreline is not as familiar to me as the river’s edge, the lake’s edge. These are the places I stand to assess the where, the if, the how….the maybe’s. The rocks, boulders, tall grass, the sand, the ice, the insects, the trees. Poison Oak, snakes, thistles, log jams, reeds and cat tails…all along the lapping water. Woody debris, twigs, mossy rocks, leaves collected in the trees and bushes at eye level from past freshets. The launch point, the take out. The shore lunch, the nap.

The shoreline…the ‘bank’. It is sometimes the place of comings and goings, where those pesky slips, trips and falls take place. I’d rather intentionally sit on my terms and smoke my briar or a fine cigar. Sometimes it is the best vantage point to study what is going on out there.

In this instance, I was at a perfect place. Close to the water’s edge, but sitting on a selcouth find….a bench.



Every Day in May Challenge Topic for Today: Memory

Every Day in May Writer’s Challenge Topics List Day by Day

My youngest son, at 9 years old, already comfortable in a tube and catching fish bigger than I catch today. I got him there, prepared him, nurtured him, encouraged and praised. He gave me a memory. (1999)

This is difficult…’memory’? Do I recount the many blessed memories on the water, in the outdoors? Or discuss my dwindling recollection capacity of late. On one end the memories are coming in and on the other end, there is a leak of sorts. The memories fade and some stay prominent for whatever reasons.

Fortunately, I have glimpses of memories of my own early fly fishing. Small, brief snippets of narrow, intimate streams with overhanging trees, little pockets beneath the tree harboring Cutthroat Trout. I can see the trout slashing upward to take the fly. The process was simpler then: rubberized canvas hip boots, a box, an inexpensive Sears & Roebuck “Ted Williams” rod/reel. I made due with the waters my dad took me near while camping. There were no day trips. Fishing was confined to camping outings, year to year.

Later, I would be in charge of my own destiny and memory creation. Fishing at times was three times a week. Day outings for Steelhead, Salmon and Trout were frequent and productive. Camping, always by selected waters was and still is the norm. Backpacking was for an end point of Brook Trout. A hike had a pack, hiking boots and a fly rod. Joyful, productive, full of memories for sure.

My youngest son a few years back on East Lake (Oregon). Quite at ease.

Soon, I would bring three sons along and all by eight or nine years of age could fly fish on a lake or stream and catch their memories of Trout, Steelhead or Salmon. Today, I notice my son’s lives are busy, complex and denying them much time on the water. I hope that changes for them beyond the once a year camping trip to wet a line. They need their time on the water, in the water, staring at the water to distract and renew.

I do know my teaching, encouraging, mentoring those I care about in the sport has been most rewarding in a self serving way. I was going to say non-selfish, but truth be told, I  taught my loved ones so I would have company while fishing. It is limiting to be fishing knowing others are waiting back at camp or the rig for your return. The clock ticks. The clock doesn’t exist if they are twenty yards down river or across the lake solving their puzzle.

I do wish my memory was better. It is not an indication of caring or worthiness. Things are just fuzzier. Memories stored, and no one to prompt the retrieval or reminder via “do you remember that time when……..” I have kept journals and have taken many photo’s. Those are excellent tools to recall the memory. So, I need to keep creating the memories on the front end…so do you!

Tomorrow’s Every Day in May Challenge Topic: Shoreline


Every Day in May Challenge: Safety First…Life’s a Blessing


A Warning Safety Sign in a bar’s restroom. The bar being in close proximity to the Light Rail System (passenger train of sorts) warns that walking while intoxicated near the tracks could be deadly. The sign was assaulted as most signs are in restrooms with spit marks, etchings and some felt markings by ‘artists’.

I have written here at SwittersB enough times about safety and forethought because I am an expert. I’m an expert because I have fallen, stumbled, submerged, tumbled, crashed, tripped….slipped….and smashed. I have broken numerous rods and I have broken bones. And, this is just the fishing outings. Throw in hiking, backpacking, working on ladders (very dangerous for men) and roofs and believe me when I say the old admonition of “be prepared” or Semper Paratus is sound advice, especially if you stumble about sober as I do. 

Let’s simplify it for the now youthful risk taker and the old wheezer like me….risk assessment, fitness assessment and as a Dirty Harry (Callahan) said “I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

No, no..not that one..this one…”Well, you’re a good man, lieutenant. A good man always knows his limitations…” Well, Harry said that in a sarcastic, condescending manner to Lt. Briggs, but the point is know your limitations. 

Life experiences, outings, mistakes, other’s experiences should teach you to size up the risks in a certain move. That two hundred foot descent down a hillside to the river will not happen these days. Too many injuries and tumbles. And my fitness level, despite my efforts to stay fit, has diminished with age. For me, that greatly influences wading safety through the course of a day. Stumbling about while wading or rock hopping the shoreline will eventually result in a broken something. Yes, know your limitations. It is not giving up the pursuit. It is looking before you leap. Eventually, even the young risk taker will learn this.


On a more somber note, I am attending a funeral this morning for a dear, departed friend. I worked beside him for many years. He was heroic to me. Older, fearless, tough. He repeatedly had my young ass covered. He saved my life on two occasions when “stay alert, stay alive” actually resonated with me nightly. God’s Speed Mac

Tomorrow’s Every Day in May Challenge Topic is Memory


Every Day in May Challenge: ‘Runoff’


Leaves Up Into the Trees:

RUNOFF: I suppose I typically associate that with snow melt and the Spring time, early Summer runoff that scours out rivers and keeps bank anglers and river runners waiting for better fishing conditions. Of course, kayakers, rafters and thrill seekers are ecstatic.

I watch the river gages to see when some of my favorite rivers will drop into shape. Much of time, I am not dealing with the typical Spring time, snow melt, high water scenario. Rather, I more often am dealing with Winter time heavy rains and surface runoff that pushes rivers well up into the trees and makes wading forbidden. Then it is the waiting game. Which rivers drop into shape sooner than others. Do I know at what height the river is getting fishable and is the water clarity closer to “steelhead green” rather than chocolate latte? 

One learns the minimum levels to consider fishing on say the Deschutes River (Oregon). Risk takers will ignore this, of course, and some will perish. I am to risk avoidant to wade in waters that are like walking on bowling balls with less than a foot of clarity. “Flows can fluctuate in May. High but steady or decreasing flows are fishable, but once you get above 6500 cfs or so (Madras gage), it’s hard to find good spots to fish. When flows are high, you should look for the same TYPE of water that you usually fish, but it may be in a different place. And there won’t be as many places to fish as there are at lower flows.” (Westfly)

River gages, when available are a valuable resource in deciding whether the timing is right to drive an hour or more to a river to fish, especially in the Winter. I can drive a short distance and look at the Sandy River for color and flow and decide if it is worth driving up to Oxbow or higher, but gages help too. Watching weather predictions, river forecasts and dam releases will help in your decisions to travel or not travel. In the Spring, the ‘runoff’ is hopeful for the long term as snows melt and temperatures warm…hope springs eternal that months lie ahead of decent fishing. Not so predictable in the Winter. 

Tomorrow’s Every Day in May Writing Challenge Topic: Safety First


Every Day in May Challenge Topic: Greenery


Well now, I live in Oregon, next to the Evergreen State of Washington in the Pacific Northwest, next to British Columbia. Green abounds. I am thankful for it. The lush green. Of course, there are a lot of Portlandians in their eco sense of suffering that will let their lawns go brown. Not I…Green as can be and proud of it! Oh calm down!

Gary Green swatch commonly found now in fabric stores

Green has surrounded my life. Once my mom got a special on pants at Sears. They were green and she bought several pair. That was all I had to wear to school for a solid year.

You would think that would have cured me of wearing green. Yet green is my favorite color. In fact, the family has taken to calling my favorite color Gary Green. Actually, it is Forest Green but not when I am wearing it.

I actually spent 32 years of my life wearing a uniform comprised of various shades of green. I never tired of it. Ironically, I have green eyes but often forget that until it is raised in  conversation.

Gardening, fishing, clothing, walking through the woods to the often greenish river…even a tossed Green salad delights me. The sun shining down on a windy Summer day, the light filtered through giant maple leaves…a soft green.

My back yard is a lush green, the vegetation healthy along the spring creek that trickles by.

Steelhead Green is that perfect shade of river when the clarity improves from mud brown into shape…into possibilities after waiting for the river to drop into shape. (Riverwood Blog…Santiam River)

The watery home of a beautiful trout, momentarily brought to hand…a perfect shade of Gary Green Water. The water surrounded by tall green trees and edged with green grasses and reeds created a beautiful green. Glorious contrast. In fact, Green is a wonderful canvas for contrast and beauty.

Even the cap, is a pleasing shade of green. I bought the cap, not for a reminder of the denim jeans, but I anticipated the chance to display a beautiful fish with the cap in the back ground. My ‘true religion’ is being outdoors, at one with nature, surrounded by water and greenery. The essence of spirituality and religion…for me. Did I mention God loves Gary Green?

Tomorrow’s Every Day in May Outdoor Blogger’s Challenge Topic: Bugs


Every Day in May Writing Challenge: The Fly, The Creator

The Fly…hmmm? I tie flies. I tie lots and lots of flies for every imagined possibility. Here is where my mind obsesses, plans, is compulsive (note I avoided putting OC with D). I enjoy it and I have enough flies + boxes to supply a youth group, but I won’t. Nope those little gems are my creations and I share them on the water, but not otherwise. They are the Hope & Change (the real shit, not the BS) of my fly fishing experience. I love tying, creating, imagining and finally seeing it all come together as the fish comes to hand.

A few lake patterns by SwittersB

Tomorrow’s Every Day in May Challenge Topic is Fish!!!

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