Thursday, February 25, 2016

Jimmy Fund Clinic

After crossing the bridge from the main building at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, you see the wall ahead prior to turning left and heading for the Jimmy Fund clinic.  Ironically, I've done hundreds of bike races of various types and distances.. but only a few "fund raiser rides" and never the PMC.  That's going to have to change soon.  Thanks to an amazing surgeon and neurosurg team at UMass Medical Center and Neuro-oncology team at the Jimmy Fund Clinic... Our little guy is still "No Evidence of Disease"!  

That sort of nebulous, but really positive (to cancer survivors) diagnosis that keeps you rolling ahead in life looking for new adventures.

You don't want to know about the work they do in the buildings at Dana Farber.  You don't want to be there, or to visit.  But when you have been a patient, or the parent of a patient, and you have seen kids, body's battered by chemo and radiation, playing with each other - often toting IV poles or wearing masks, or both... You realize that the power is life, is a LOT more valuable than the power of illness.

We are lucky today.  Our little guy is doing great.  We are very, very lucky indeed!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ice Time and Scan Nerves

This past weekend was about family time and extended family time.  This week brings our son's scheduled MRI to see if he's still cancer free... and well... Even though outwardly he seems to be doing amazingly well... you just don't know.  These things as a result create a heck of a lot of stress - a LOT.

So, while dealing with that, we opted to make this one a fun weekend with extended family - in the case of friends who I've known since kindergarten and who we view as aunts and uncles and cousins.  
We headed out ice fishing on Saturday with the gang and caught some nice bass and perch - though the ice was a lot thinner than I'd like - 3-5" probably... I feel nervous when it's a foot thick... so this was not my favorite - especially since the ice quality was not awesome (as you can see in the pics). It ended up being a great time with friends though.

The next day in the the morning I hiked a local mountain with my friend (guy in the pics) which was a blast.

A good weekend to settle the mind a bit...

Hopefully the week goes as well...

Will in the orange snow pants LOVES helping dig holes and scooping ice chunks...
Will thought this bass was pretty cool.  

All of us heading home - with Will and Emily riding the sleds off the pond - tired after catching all those fish :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Good Service

I'm lucky to have some good fly shops within an hour~ of home.  Two that are within 25' actually.  I enjoy going to these shops and checking out what's available and being able to really look at materials I need or want for tying.  Heck, the first "fancy" fly fishing reel I got, was in middle school I think, when my dad went to the Lower Forty Outfitters in Worcester MA and got me an early Lamson.  Amazing gift, and 25-30~ years later the reel still works (good example of buying good gear - it can last a LONG time).  Concord Outfitters is a newer shop, but the help and gear on hand is awesome.  Likewise, Eldredge Bros Fly shop near York Maine is great as well.  As I said, I'm lucky to have great shops near by!  There's even a shop I have yet to get to - which is a shame because all reports are that it's great and it's only about 40' from home called the Evening Sun Fly Shop - it's on my list to make a reason to go up and check this shop out soon!

That ability to go in, shoot the breeze and enjoy the "family" that is fly fishing is awesome.

That said, some times, you just have to order things online for whatever reason.  For me, it's being busy.  For others, distance.

Traditionally my online business has been The Bears Den, or J Stockard.  The Bears Den being here in MA tends to get more of my business... plus I've had the fortune of going to the shop - I make it a point any time I'm in SE MA for work or pleasure... It's the largest fly shop I've personally been in, and wholly smokes do they have just about anything you could want, or want to touch.  Plus the folks who work there are very knowledgeable and friendly.  I'm always amazed with Bears Den, how you make your order, pay for shipping, and when you get the note letting you know the order was processed (which is typically quite quick), you also get a note letting you know they adjusted shipping.  What I mean is this: every time I've ordered, they have reduced my shipping charge because the amount was beyond what was needed to get the items to me on time.  I don't know that this would be the case if you lived in Ohio or Nebraska or Wyoming etc... But it's a nice touch for sure!

Recently though I've ordered about 50% of the stuff I've ordered from Performance Flies.  By recently, I mean the last 2-3 years.  They seem to specialize in euro items... which is a soft spot for me.  My love of cycling and endurance sport has made European things interesting to me since before I knew fly fishing was a big deal over across the pond.  Maybe that's what got me into the stuff they have at Performance Flies... But the thing that got me to make a post like this, was that I ordered some things from them at about 3:45 yesterday and got a note this AM in my email letting me know the items were shipped already.

That's awesome service - especially since I didn't ask for "fast" shipping.

And that's the way it always seems to be when I do order from Bears Den OR Performance Flies.

I own a small business, I want people to "shop small" and "shop local".  Get out and get into those local fly shops.  It's vital to knowledge transfer in our sport.  It's vital to our sports culture.  But if you cant go to a shop, or for whatever reason need to order vs purchase locally, check out Bears Den and Performance Flies.  Both are fast, great with questions and great with service.  AWESOME options!


PS - I have NO affiliation with any business noted.  This was a post that just came to mind after getting the "order shipped" email this AM.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

No fishing, but good eating for sure!

Several of the fishing blogs I follow post food pic's.  Some times it's during fishing, like the posts of Chasing Blue Lines Others it's a combination of delicious comfort foods and fishing feasts like Alan over at or Mark at  All of those folks seem to have tasty eat's down to an art form...

So, while I was preparing for the deep freeze we are scheduled to receive over the next 4~ days, it seemed fitting that I should make a big vat of venison chili... and copy those great bloggers above by showing off my tasty version of this timeless dish!

My chili is based on two things: 1.) years of making chili to a specific recipe as a teen and through college at the Petersham Country Store, and 2.) like my fly tying, I'm not really good at following recipe's so this has steadily evolved over the years and probably will continue too...

That said, my wife the foodie who does not like chili traditionally really enjoy's this version, so it's got to be good eh :)! Ha!

The items used are:

  • 2lb of ground venison (straight, not cut with pork fat or beef fat)
  • 1 jalepeno
  • 1 chili pepper (the real deal)
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1-2 orange or red sweet peppers
  • .25 cups organic molasses
  • 1 can organic tomato paste
  • 3-4 diced tomato's
  • 1-2 can's diced tomato's
  • 2-3 carrots diced
  • 1 large can chick peas
  • 1 large can black beans
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about a tsp of chili powder
  • about 1-2 tbsp ceylon cinnamon
You can play with the amounts of each based on volume... That said, Ive found this ingredient list works well for a low meat (my favorite) option that only has 1lb of venison... While my wife loves the high meat version (2lb venison).  Just noting that for reference.

Here's a few pic's:

Just getting started a little butter in the pan, and simmering onion and peppers (don't have all of them in yet in this pic) until soft.

Just added the meat - it's starting to cook, hence the very light pink color - venison is a lot darker when raw.  I was lazy and dropped it in frozen today, so it extended the process compared to using thawed meat... It's a lot easier with raw v frozen :)

Ready for action... Almost.  It needs about 4-5 hours of simmering, but even with that, it will taste better tomorrow and the next day than it does today... 
Hopefully where ever you are, the snow drops are starting to bloom, or it's just plain hitting spring now.  But for any of you in the deep freeze like me... This will definitely leave you warm for a while :)

Have a super week

Monday, February 1, 2016

The ice... It's broken

With abnormally warm weather, I've been itching to get out, but time just has not worked out well.  I've had a few short trips, with some taps, or nothing at all... but today, I guess the temps got warm enough or I got lucky.

Tried the little brook across the street, figuring I could put in 20' and scratch the proverbial itch.

I fished my favorite little section, from just above the corner in the pic, to where I stood taking this shot.  The corner pool I finished at was looking pretty different.  The wood jam in the corner seems to be getting compressed and maybe sinking a little, and there is some new wood at the root ball the causes the stream to scour the 2 foot to 4 foot (when the water's really flowing) deep hole mid pool.  Today no fish seen or taken there...  But at the first little run I caught 2, well, 1 to hand and 1 that I touched only to see it instantly fall back to the stream and swim away.

Got one more in the run almost dead center in this picture, where the limb enters the stream from the right and the current is some what on the left, just before the stream turns right.  Typical of this stream, the fish were fairly blue in tone with amazing blue halo's.  I managed one pic today.  The chartreuse bead black and peacock bugger was the ticket.

I was amazed at the trash in the log jam (you can see though why lots of trout make it in this stream - there is at least a foot of water (more on average) below that jam - all the way back to the bank!  Sad that it's littered with bottles, cups, foam bits and bubble wrap.  a few hundred yards up stream the brook crosses a state road, maybe a mile from the center of a small city of about 35-40K people, and flow's next to old plastic factories for about a half mile before getting into a wooded area all the way to it's origin... The river it flows into, 50-60 years ago literally changed colors from red to green to purple daily based on the color of paper being made - that's a mile at most down stream (if you count the undulations of the little stream).  Some how, these fish scratch a living though.  Amazing testament to what they are capable of.

Couple more warm days and some serious rain wednesday, then slightly more temperate conditions on the weekend.  If things dont get to cold, we could be in for a really mild winter!

Be well