I know it’s February, almost March, but I want to talk about 2014.

The last few months, some friends, old and new, have approached me and asked about my writing–which I’m quick to point out, no longer exists. I don’t write anymore. When I was in my 20’s I kept journals, filled with poems and thoughts that were too compelling (in my opinion) to not record. All of the writing I do presently is done with two fingers on a cellphone, and is accompanied by :) or :/ or a rare :D. I guess there’s grocery lists as well, and to-do lists that end up going through the wash.

Here I am, writing.

2014 was a difficult year relationally, because Aaron and I were apart for most of it, about 8 months. When we did see each other, it was brief and one of us was always working. “It’s just a season,” people would say to me. “When I was young, my wife and I did that, and …” etc. The truth was, Aaron and I had actually been living the “seasonal job life” the entire 8 years we’ve been together, so people trying to assure or relate to us seemed to enhance my loneliness. So enough was enough. When I joined Aaron in Williams Lake in October, I had decided that 2014 was the last year we lived like that. When the job postings for the career I had chosen in fisheries came and went, my heart did the equivalent of a big breath out. It felt crappy to pass up doing the job I was trained to do and loved doing, but it also gave me the opportunity to work on my side hustle. See: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=side+hustle More on that later.

During that season apart, I read two poignant books, very different from each other. One, My Bright Abyss by Christian Wiman, and the other, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It took me 2 months to read the first book because every page hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m hesitant to say it on such a public platform, but I’ve been struggling with belief for the past 2 years. I would say “struggling with doubt,” but that’s not the truth: I am quite comfortable with the mysteries of doubt. More so My Bright Abyss put into words what I had been silently regarding:

If God is a salve applied to unbearable psychic wounds, or a dream figure conjured out of memory and mortal terror, or an escape from a life that has become either too appalling or too banal to bear then I have to admit: it is not working for me … what I do know is that the turn towards God has not lessened my anxieties, and I find myself continually falling backwards into wounds, wishes, terrors I thought I had risen beyond.

I know in my heart that life isn’t a linear progression, but when I see myself falling for the same lies I did when I didn’t know better, it feels bad. So I had Eckhart Tolle to counteract, counter-build in me what was being razed to the ground:

The ego loves to complain and feel resentful not only about other people but also about situations. What you can do to a person you can also do to a situation: make it into an enemy. The implication is always: This should not be happening; I don’t want to be here; I don’t want to be doing this; I’m being treated unfairly. And the ego’s greatest enemy of all is, of course, the present moment, which is to say, life itself.


So I spent the summer writing in my journal that Kate gave me, by the Nechako River. I witnessed the water level rise and fall, the local kids go from swimming across to walking across to the mid-channel island. I took the long way home in the Jeep down gravel roads that sometimes contained moose, geese, sunshine touching down gently on grain fields. I tried to notice. I tried to breathe in and out, speak into the empty spaces. I pulled over and took pictures, of spider webs dripping with dew, of sunsets black with smoke. I sat on Kerry’s roof and watched storms roll in. I went to things I was invited to. And, I stopped watching crime dramas. I had been watching Law and Order: SVU along with Hannibal and other gory, violent shows. A New Earth mentioned that watching TV was one of the most “unconscious” things the mind can do. The mind isn’t making stories, or engaged in a story like when reading: thoughts are being given to us through most TV shows, and we absorb. I got to thinking about the kinds of things I was absorbing without much thought, and what effect it could be having on me. I stopped watching. Was it really helpful for my mind to be seeing rape, torture, murder? But justice was being served! I told myself. Was it, though? So much brokenness, so little healing. I also stopped chewing my nails. I realize that I did it when I was nervous, or bored, so I tried to be aware of what I was feeling when I starting biting my nails, and try to remove the cause of the feeling, or calm down and not put my hands in my mouth. (I’m pretty sure I’ve replaced this habit with chewing gum, but hey, baby steps.)

Living in the present moment sometimes made me feel pretty impatient. Like, trying to read in the sunshine and mosquitos keep biting my feet. MY FEET. Or, heading out for a hike on some local trails that turned out to be, um, ugly. Or, heading home after the gym on a day off, singing my heart out to Katy Perry, not noticing my speed and getting pulled over by a cop. (Hey, Universe–is it Katy Perry you have a problem with, or speeding? I can’t tell.)

This should not be happening; I don’t want to be here; I don’t want to be doing this.

But it was happening, I lived in Vanderhoof, and I was a sturgeon technician, and I made friends. People talked to me at the gym, people had me over for dinner, for pool parties, out for drinks; people cut my hair and gave me their house keys. People gave me their gardens to water, their dogs to walk, their coffee to drink. Community is underrated in the age of Facebook and Snapchat and Instagram. Maybe it’s old fashioned to trade dogsitting for haircuts, or shake hands with the neighbour and talk about the local cat problem, or get paid in homemade wine. But it felt more “present” than “instantly” sharing anything with a Facebook full of people.

I still put too much worth on looking forward to things, planning for the future, but I was becoming aware at least. There was once a season in my life where I had a hard time both sleeping and seeing the future as hopeful, and my counsellor at the time told me, “before you go to sleep at night, lie on your bed and think of two things you’re looking forward to the next day. It can be small, like looking forward to see if it snowed overnight [I love looking at snowflakes], or making coffee. But have that hope be the last thing you think about before sleep.” That practice got me through more than a few nights, and more than a few days, so I hesitate to get rid of it.

2014 started though, with a big refocus on my own bodily health and fitness. It’s easy for me to live in my head and spend time sorting out things internally, but not spend much time focussed on eating good things or drinking water, or keeping my body strong. But that’s for another post too. A final word from Tolle:

Once you have decided you want the present moment to be your friend, it is up to you to make the first move: Become friendly with it, welcome it, no matter what disguise it comes, and soon you will see the results. Life becomes friendly toward you, people become helpful, circumstances cooperative. One decision changes your entire reality. But that one decision you have to make again and again — until it becomes natural to live in such a way.


I started writing this a few weeks ago, and it’s still important enough to share.

A few things have become more certain since beginning this blog, such as Boo’s job with BC Hydro, and the fact that I’m now writing this from a hotel room in Surrey. I’ll let you fill in the blanks there.


So much has happened since my last blog post. I’m sitting at my old fruitwood kitchen table that Boo and I bought on Broadway years ago when we moved to Vancouver. It came with us to Nanaimo, is with me now in Vanderhoof, and will soon be headed for Williams Lake. Oh, the places we will go.

And have been. I’ve spent the last six months living on a quarter section of land, parts of it underwater until the summer dries it up, in a friends’ ranch house in Vanderhoof, BC. Sometimes in the morning the fog is so thick the air is white through the space between my window and the blinds. This weekend I saw a big black bear gleaning a field of bearded wheat in the post-dawn steam; and weeks ago, taking the long way home, two moose watching me from a spruce marsh. There is beauty here, and at times I have strained to see it through the shroud of loneliness and uncertainty of this time without my husband.

Before Vanderhoof, I lived two months with dear friends and their two boys in their top west bedroom, the stampede of improbably small feet waking me up most mornings. I could say a lot more about this experience, but words on the page don’t do justice to how I feel about those friends and the hospitality they showed me. The two months flew by, and it was a true privilege to be a part of their family.

The semester I graduated from fish school, Boo had applied for a job and after many months, found out he hadn’t been successful. He moved up to Williams Lake to fight fires again, and I moved in with our friends. Shortly after that, I discovered that I was successful in the job I had applied for, at a brand new white sturgeon conservation centre in Vanderhoof. At 350 kilometers away from Williams Lake, it was the closest I could be to Boo and still work for the Freshwater Fisheries Society. We decided we could do it. So in April of this year I moved out of the top west bedroom and headed north.

Still friend of the many distances
See how your every breath enlarges space

Rilke pervaded my thoughts as I drove the 15 kilometers to work each morning at the hatchery. We began in May by fishing for our brood fish: long cold days spent on the murky and leafless Nechako, our chapped hands and cheeks a testament to the hours worked setting and pulling lines.

Despite our intentions, Boo and I didn’t get much time off together. One weekend in May we made it out to the Chilcotin with a friend, but didn’t see another day off together until September when I followed him to Surrey for his BC Hydro bootcamp. Applying for the same job a second time took courage, and we’re forcing ourselves to hope once again as we wait for their call this week. Hope is a palpable risk, one that sits just below the ribs and waits to rise into joy or fall into dread.

This Friday, October 10th is my last day working in Vanderhoof. At this fruitwood table, I am surrounded by my small belongings, already packed three days in advance. Once I started, I couldn’t stop the packing process. All that’s left to do now is to live out this week with what I hope is gratefulness.

I wanted to take this day off to pack and organize, but mostly to gather my thoughts and reflect on this chapter in my life. Driving into a new town and a new job should have felt more daunting than it did, but I knew that I had people rooting for me, and that I was capable of accepting the challenge both to my relationship with Boo, and to my personal growth as a fisheries technician. My coworkers were amazing, and people I met or was introduced to along the way treated me like an old friend and gave me something to look forward to.


Living mindfully in the moment has been my challenge this year, with all the physical and emotional and spiritual obstacles I was faced with. More to come on how I did and have been doing with this challenge! I now have 25 days in this hotel to … reflect.

Stones and pockets


We’ve been living on Vancouver Island for just over a year now, moving as far west as money and education would take us, and I have had a lot to think about regarding the decision to move again, leave Regent, start again as an undergraduate. But, with all the things I had to think about, I haven’t really taken the time.

I don’t write much anymore, which explains how clumsy and forced I feel writing this.

Until recently I thought that I was going to change the world with my thoughts and ideas, or at the very least, my writing. Every compliment I’ve ever received about any talent or skill I’ve had, I’d taken and grown into a dream. The dream of being known – or more succinctly, to be famous in some small way.

There are no big ideas in this blog, only small ones like stones filling filling filling pockets.

Six years of theological education will do that.

In 2005 when I started my undergrad I wanted to be a missionary. Now I see that what I truly wanted was to leave everything I had known and start again. Having done that, I looked around and saw that the people I admired were philosophers. They thought about the world in the same way I did, so I thought that I must be like them. They would be my people and I would be their … people. I decided to study philosophy too. What does it all mean? The phrase that haunted those seminar rooms and then, dorm rooms, and then, library study carrels, and then, the halls and rooms of Regent College where I would begin my master’s degree in 2010.

Regent was different than anything I had ever experienced – a school full of my people. Instead of a handful of rebel confidantes, I had a school full of them. We smoked pipes on the benches outside, went for beers with professors, and nobody got in any trouble. It was freedom to be who I truly was, and discover who I could be.

Summer of 2011 I was troubled, more so than usual. I looked into my future and saw desks with piles of papers on it. Driving from Williams Lake to 100 Mile House, I got a call from a good friend who told me that he and his wife would be leaving Regent and beginning culinary arts training. I wanted to make the big decision to step away from something that wasn’t for me, but I couldn’t. I spent one more year trying to fit the pieces together and imagine lives for myself.

Read more here and here.

I had been taking a class from Dr. Barbara Mutch at Carey Theological Seminary on women’s faith and development, which you might judge as frou-frou feminism, but it was no such thing, and it rocked me. The first day of the seminar we were asked to share three experiences that have shaped our understanding of what it was to be female. All three of my experiences revolved around the trouble I had integrating what I liked to do – play with trucks, fly fish, collect bugs – with who everyone kept reminding me I was: a girl, a woman. Girls don’t _____, women don’t _____. I heard a lot of that growing up, but as an adult I knew that couldn’t be true, because I was ______, I was _______.

With my husband’s help we looked hard at our dreams. He wanted to fix things, and I wanted to go back to the rivers and lakes of my youth. We chose Nanaimo, and in April I will be a Fisheries Technician. Aaron’s had his own bout of career ambiguity, and if things work out how we’re hoping, soon I’ll have the chance to support his dreams.

When I left Regent, I thought that one day I might go back and finish, not wanting to half-ass my time there. But the further I get away from the experience, the more I’m taking with me. Do I need to publish a thesis on the intersection of theology and fisheries to feel justified? Many people lead such lives without writing a single word about it.

Looking back on my choice to study philosophy and theology in the first place, I know now that I was more drawn to the people who were drawn to philosophy that I was to the ideas themselves. I have always asked questions of the world, always wondered how things were made and how things worked and why. I believe now this is more the mark of a scientist that a philosopher. I don’t want to discuss what it all means, I want to see why, and then draw pictures of it. I want to touch the world, and add to it. I want to build and grow and dig and hunt and catch and let go. I don’t want to talk about why. Or, at least for not too long.

It’s been said that Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with stones and walked into the river to drown. I have always wondered, was it the weight of the stones that drowned her or her will to die?

I know now that the collection of ideas can drown. I can fill my pockets with them like so many stones or I can look at each and drop it back into the water.

Wouldn’t want to disturb salmonid spawning habitat, after all.

To the wolves, or whoever

Prayer and love are really learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, 221). 

You cannot be a man of faith unless you know how to doubt. You cannot believe in God unless you are capable of questioning the authority of prejudice, even though that prejudice may seem to be religious. Faith is not blind conformity to a prejudice–a “pre-judgement.” It is a decision, a judgement that is fully and deliberately taken in the light of a truth that cannot be proven. It is not merely the acceptance of a decision that has been made by somebody else (Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, 105).


Our first inquiry as we greet people for the day is likely to be, “How are you feeling today?” Rarely will it be, “How are you thinking?” Feelings live on the front row of our lives like unruly children clamouring for attention. They presume on their justification in being whatever they are–unlike a thought, which by nature is open to challenge and invites the question, “why?” (Willard, Renovation of the Heart, 117).


I’ve been wanting to write about this for some time now but the nature of the blog (which ironically I keep so that I have a reason to write) and its publicity have kept me from doing so. I often worry that people who are “friends” with me will walk away from me, shielding their child’s eyes from me as they do, if I were to reveal my thoughts about such and such, or admit to drinking or smoking or saying ‘swear’ words. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. But here I am, years beyond all of that (you’d think), dreading people reading this. And to be honest, there are some people in the world that I would rather not know anything more about me, but if I were to “lock” my blog, why not just have a fucking paper journal, kept under the mattress? No; I like that other people read this, and to be more noble, I like to think that there are others like myself, finding solace in the things I have to say. So shield your child’s eyes, we carry on.

The this being: hardness of heart, doubt, the drive to ask questions and think properly about something before belief. It’s been eating away at me, especially since deciding to leave Regent, and I haven’t wanted to write about it because I don’t want my leaving Regent to be equated with leaving the faith or anything, although to some it looks that way. For over a year now I’ve been accosted by doubt. I say accosted because it came so swift, and has stayed well past its welcome. Kind of a doubt shakedown. Of course the problem is that doubt usually comes to stay every now and then, and big deal, I make a guest bed, but rarely has it ever chosen to extend its stay so long. I left Regent not because I hated it there; on the contrary, it was one of the highlights of my life. I loved it there. After my last theological education experience, I did not really want anything to do with institutionalized Christianity but my interests led me to Regent, which was to become an immense place of healing and acceptance for me. I left Regent because I lost my vision for the future, and it was too expensive to keep studying without a clear path to follow. This was no one’s fault, and after deciding to leave we chose to start following Aaron’s path, which has led us to where we are now. And doubt has stayed the course.

Honestly though, I don’t mind doubt and I never have. It’s made me infuse a lot more reality into my beliefs, and importantly, my dealings with others whose reality differs from my own. Recently others have criticized my coexistence with doubt, claiming that I must be less of a Christian for doubting or asking questions that might lead myself of others to doubt. But that’s how I work; that is how I take the first steps of belief, by first asking all the questions possible, deposing the belief (etc.) before deciding if it’s true. I don’t like to be duped, nor do I like to be rushed into believing in something that to me, doesn’t make sense, or outright is unreasonable.

(I know in saying this I’m opening the door to criticism regarding what I think about miracles, or whether or not mystery is an integral part of faith. Let me just say for the sake of brevity on the subject that I’m no stranger to mystery, people: I live with doubt. And I’ve already said that I don’t mind it one bit.)

To continue, just because 1,000 people say something is true or good or orthodox doesn’t make it true or good or orthodox: those 1,000 people could be idiots, or worse. Everything should be tested, and it’s not just me being a bag: “Do not treat prophecies with contempt, but test them all; hold onto what is good, reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). The crux: to reject anything, you must first consider it.

Right now I am in the process of reconsidering a lot of things I used to hold in faith as fact. Maybe it’s because the first time around I never fully deposed them, or perhaps I’m unhappy with how my past self decided to assent to some beliefs, or maybe it’s because my lack of vision for the future has forced my hand and I’m looking to God for answers and He has remained silent. I’ve stopped asking. Now I’m just looking to get through another semester, hoping that God or something will drop a vision into my lap for my future. I’m 26, I’m seething.

When I left Regent I had switched into the MDiv, thinking that my gifts and interests would be best used serving people as a pastor. I scoff at this and I can feel others scoffing as well. You, a pastor! You don’t even know what you believe! I know. I know that, and that is one thing I do know. But I think that I and many other people need a reality check into what a pastor actually is: a person! A human! A broken, pitiful, person, riddled with their own hopes and dreams and insecurities, and hoping, just like you and I that God can somehow redeem them and use them to heal others, just like themselves!

Now that I’ve gotten completely off track with what I began with, let me circle ’round to my heart of stone. I’ve never been much of a pray-er. More than a few of my friends are, and I admire them. Mostly when I pray with others I try to say things that I think the person I’m praying for is feeling. And then, praying for myself or by myself … that doesn’t happen, unless I’ve lost my keys or need to pass an exam or drive by an accident. So pray for me, “now and in the hour of my death” (T.S. Eliot).

Part of what keeps me from throwing in the towel here is wondering if Christ will come back and DC Talk will be there (albeit briefly) to sing about me being left behind. Or maybe just straight to hell. Problem is, I don’t know what to think about hell. Maybe it exists, but I don’t know if it’s necessary to my faith at all. Does hell need to exist to scare me back into the fold? I do think that some people do deserve to “burn in hell” as it were, but for a great many more, life here on earth is hell enough without facing eternity being stabbed by demons or something equally dubious and malicious.

I’m in this place now, and I’ve been here for a while now. I hear a hymn and it moves me to tears. I hold in my grief as I take communion, the once a month or so that we go to church.

Lord … I believe. I’m trying to believe. Help Thou my unbelief.

Autumn in the ‘Mo

A big ol fall caddis just landed on my barbeque cover outside. Just yesterday I was swinging a fall caddis pattern to aloof trout and salmon, with no result. Seriously. The Coast has a hate on for my fishing endeavors. 

Almost 3 months through my first semester as a Fisheries and Aquaculture student, and only one post to show for it. Honestly it’s been a tough transition to go from writing tons of papers to taking tons of tests. For one, I’ve had to learn how to study properly … I mean it’s great to be able to read 900 pages in one week, but it means nothing when faced with the phylogeography of salmonids and their scientific names. My backpack is full of flash cards. My classmates are a talented, interesting bunch of folks: they range in age from 35 to 18, many come from commercial fishing backgrounds or families, some fly fish, some are guides, a couple of us have spouses, one is a personal trainer, an accountant, and all of us are here because we care about fish. 

And Boo’s AST training has been going well; I’m so proud of him. It gives me a lot of joy to see him solving problems and taking pride in his work. In fact … he just cut the muffler out of Bonnie last week, scared the shit out of me when I started her up. 

These photos aren’t chronological, but it’s a nice little essay. 



Boo on the Cowichan River, September. 



Sunset in Parksville, BC at Dan and Lane’s place. 



A group of us tie-dyed our lab coats, solidifying our friendship. 



Homemade lasagne at Darcie and Travis’ new place. And just enough wine. 



Boo’s new bike, the Sweet Potato. Much better on gas than Bonnie, albeit not as rain proof, shockingly.



October on the Little Qualicum River: littered with decaying chum, and full of fall spawners, big and toothy. 



New friends abound! One outside our window, taking care of the leaves for me.



A nymph pattern I’ve been learning. I tied a bunch in various colours and some look like they’ll be effective and some just look prett-ay. 



The tying table in our “study.” And instead of buying a bookshelf, we cluttered the room with them! Instant decor.



Black Spruce streamer pattern, not a bad first attempt. 



Cresting Mount Benson, which lies just outside our door. 



Literally jumping on Mt Benson. You can see Brannen Lake below. 



My love. 



Cathedral Grove at Cameron Lake. 



Overlooking the ‘Mo, our new city. 



Cathedral Grove, the “Big Tree” or some other obvious name. 


Chum eggs at Puntledge River Hatchery, ready to be fertilized. 



My men. Nice moustache.



Monica rocking the Stamp River, Port Alberni, BC. “Skunked again!” Just this Saturday she picked me up at 0630, grabbed some bacon n’ eggers and hit the river. After getting a bit lost, of course, and before getting berated by an old man in a Chrysler Intrepid or something. 



Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) coming off the “piscalator” (get it, fish elevator? Haha) at Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery, Duncan, BC. These trout in particular were destined for Colliery Dam in Nanaimo. 



Water quality lab, looking at buffering carbon dioxide. 



Neck Point, Nanaimo, BC. 



Practicum at Deep Bay Field Station, on the fishing boat. That day we pulled up 50 bibs of geoducks (Panopea generosa) and spent the next three weeks cataloguing and sampling them. 



The fishing boat at Deep Bay. 


Aaron on Tory Lake near Prince George, BC with a rainbow. Oh so handsome.


One of my catches from Tory, Alfred the Great. (Have you read David James Duncan’s The River Why? Well, you should.)


My sister Darcie on Dragon Lake, near Quesnel, BC. Like our last fishing trip, we were skunked. But at least this time we had her pug Lugnut for moral support.


As you can see, I’ve gotten better at fly tying. An elk hair caddis with wire body.


Here’s another beautiful fish (almost 20 inches) from Scuitto Lake near Kamloops, BC. Caught with one of my wee brassies. Aaron’s catch was actually the first of the day — with one of my flies as well — a sub-20 incher to boot. It was his birthday weekend so he was jazzed about it, and I was proud that it was with my fly.


We harvested our Williams Lake garden before we left. I was surprised how huge the cucumbers got, in spite of how I abandoned them for 2 weeks to work in Fort Nelson. Pretty sure that no one watered them.


Since I’m a garden noob, my carrots were little nubbins. I didn’t space nor thin them as I had no clue I was to do so for a productive harvest. Anyway. They are still carrots, even though small.


Even potatoes! I went nuts planting them, having no idea that each potato I planted would yield like 10 others. So there was a lot to dig up, and even more to give away. Again, LOOK AT MA CUCUMBERS. So grand.

I have a lot to say about a lot of things, but I wanted to throw some pics up mostly for Ashleigh before Christmas. Maybe in the next few days I’ll post about our first week of school here in Nanaimo! It’s been amazing so far, and really eye opening. I was thinking maybe I’ll blog regularly about it like Matt and Bri did during the Culinary Arts training, which I loved. If we couldn’t connect with them personally, I felt like we knew at least what they were up to and what they were learning, not to mention how delicious and interesting the things they made were. Which leads to my one misgiving about that … my posts about our programs here are not going to be delicious, and probably at times will border on boring. Like today for example, Aaron is doing a module on car batteries, and this week all we’ve talked about in my classes so far is syllabi. So. If you read this and have an opinion, let it be heard.

Bruder vs. the Bugger

A couple weeks ago I tied my first fly, and thank God Brian Smith wasn’t there to see it. My first attempt at a Wooly Bugger was more an ugly bugger than any kind of imitation of a hellgrammite. And what’s more, my dad’s instructions name the Bugger as “one of the simplest to tie.” Hm.

After salvaging an old table from work this week I was able to set up a workspace with all the tools and doodads and chunks of fur dad set me up with. I arranged all the doodads and hackle, tightened down my vice, and set to tying a #10 Wooly Bugger. Ok. I stuck the hook in the vice mouth and tightened it to what I thought was an appropriate amount. The fly recipe called for browns: brown saddle hackle, brown thread, brown chenille. I looked at the Ziploc bags of fur, feather, and … Marabou? (Is that a bird or a woman?) Few of my ingredients were brown, and what on earth is saddle hackle? Nothing looked to me like any kind of saddle I was familiar with, and, I always thought that hackle was what dogs raised when they were upset or meeting new friends. I opened each of the bags, poked at the feathers, rubbed the other bits of what I surmised to be “hackle,” and breathed in deep the revolting scent of taxidermy and dyed feather. One of these things has to be saddle hackle! I chose some ginger coloured hairs from something shaped like a hairy chicken breast or an animal’s tail. They were kind of wiry, but I thought that wooly buggers were to be fierce and pokey, so it would be ok.

I figured out how to thread the bobbin only because of my familiarity with sewing, and began to “tie in sequence.” Body: brown thread. Nah. I chose a more complementary garden green to go with the ginger tail fibres I had chosen, hoping Jack Shaw wasn’t watching. But wait. So I wrap this string around this little hook and it stays on the hook how? I didn’t know how to start it off. Glue? A tiny knot somewhere? Maybe if I just wrap the thread very quickly, the friction will hold in on? I chose the latter hypothesis and ran with it, figuring out very quickly that less is more in the bobbin world, as the shorter the thread between the bobbin and hook, the faster one could work. Whip whip whip whip whip. I tied in the sparse tail fibres, and then set to “ty[ing] on the hackle, palmer style.” What I chose as the hackle was actually a feather, but the only brown thing I could find. I clumsily tied that thing in, too, and then set to wrapping the feather around the fly. At first this went well, until I let go of the end of the feather. I supposed this was why dad gave me hackle pliers. Of course it unravelled, in that annoying explosive manner than only small crafts come apart.

Not only did the so-called hackle come apart, but the whole fly. I tried to cut the thread off, but my scissor ends were far too fat for any kind of precise work. I blame this on the fact that I went with cheap “beard grooming” scissors instead of the razor sharp $29 scissors from the fly shop. Point taken. Whip whip whip whip pick pick pick pick I had to undo the whole damn thing. The naked hook glinted cooly at me. And? It said.

Fuck you, hook. I glanced at my materials and tiny tools and jumped in for round two. Black body thread, red chenille, black rooster hackle. Whip whip pinch tie whip whip grunt. (Reading that back, it doesn’t sound like fly-tying at all. In fact, it sounds like … ) Voila! The Ugly Bugger, an original pattern by BJ Bruder, daughter of the great Brian Smith. It, like it’s garden green precursor was destined for the garbage. I read somewhere about fly proportions and balance and whatever, and this fly had none of those things. What it did have was an excessive amount of hackle and an absurdly nymph-like tail, pointing surreptitiously starboard.

I was proud that I had finally begun something I had been longing to do, but also disappointed that I was so terrible! But, since this post is written in the past tense, you can assume that more buggers have since been created…the saga continues…



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