Posts Tagged With: quill gordon

In Extremis

I worry about us people sometimes. In fact, way back in January, I started a post for these pages in which I expressed some of that worry. As keeping up with the news became like drinking from a fire hose, my worry did not decrease, and you don’t need me to tell you we live in interesting times. So interesting, in fact, that the aforementioned post was abandoned as a draft and it was only recently that I, myself, mustered up the courage to come back and make it look like someone lives here.

Pardon the dust.

I thought, six months ago, that everyone should find the time and a place to sit, relax, and — if only for a moment — think about nothing. It seemed we were moving at a pace more frantic than usual while processing events around us, the likes of which no one had ever seen before. A little breather seemed in order, but that sort of thing is easy to say when you’re the guy at the top of the hill, at the end of the road. In the course of researching ways that people not like me could find those little refreshing moments, I came across a few suggestions, including something I already do, but with a more marketable and social media share-able name.

I’ve never done yoga but, apparently, a lot of people find it a good way to relax and get themselves centered. Others find it a good way to strain a hamstring, injure a wrist or, if you’re older, fall over and break a bone. Broken bones are not necessarily restricted to seniors, though. In August of 2019, a young woman broke 110 of her bones, doing an “extreme yoga” pose for her social media followers. The fact that she fell while doing her yoga hanging from the railing of a sixth floor balcony may have played a part in her injuries.

Yoga is also sometimes practiced in the presence of farm animals, like goats. Who doesn’t like baby goats? Who doesn’t like little poop pellets on the ground in front of your face, or the mysterious wetness of baby goat hooves dancing on your back? The potential for Orf virus is just one of many reasons goat yoga does not sound very relaxing to me, in addition to just being plain silly.

Poopy little hooves. (Image from CNN)

Some people crank the thermostat and do their yoga in the most oppressive conditions they can conjure. It’s called Hot Yoga and it is so relaxing that some people experience heat stroke while doing it.

The thing that really got my goat, so to speak, regarding yoga, though, was the death of a woman attempting yoga on a paddle board.

Yoga on a paddle board.

Yoga on a paddle board.

A tragedy, no doubt, but if I may say so without sounding callous (I can’t), yoga on a paddle board strikes me as more of a cry for help than a step on the path of the Yoga Sutras.

Yoga, it seems to me, is one more thing best done sitting on a rock in the woods but I recently learned that what I call “sitting on a rock in the woods” is known in some circles as “forest bathing” and there are people you can pay to teach you to do it. There are also special places to luxuriously facilitate your forest bathing experience. To make the activity more attractive, some promote a Japanese practice known as Shinrin-yoku (literally, “forest-bath”). A lot of the folks I saw in pictures of forest bathing looked out of place and, while they were certainly earnest enough, many also looked like they were trying too hard — especially the Caucasians donning Oriental garb. They looked like they were in the forest by Occident.

A man in a kimono, who shouldn’t be in a kimono. (japonic.com)

When COVID-19 began its inexorable march across the country, my desire for everyone to take a few minutes and chill became something else entirely as everyone’s world got turned upside down. More than taking a deep breath, we now find ourselves examining pretty much everything we’ve been doing all along. This is not necessarily a bad thing and I hope we make the best of the opportunity.

Folks in these parts were emerging from hibernation when the lock-down began. There was just enough time to come out, have a party, and spend the next two weeks wondering if one had COVID-19 or a case of the sniffles. Sugar houses were quieter, more lonely places as long hours passed without the company of friends, but we got in a good one before everyone got grounded.

The night before COVID-19 stopped being funny.

Scattered across several valleys, the people I know don’t see each other much anyway, but it is nice to know that what some used to call anti-social behavior is now perfectly acceptable. The actions of a curmudgeonly misanthrope are now expressions of patriotic love, man.

Winter lingered, sticking around much longer than desired. Even when it seemed spring had the upper hand, snow squalls and flash freezes continued into May. Black flies emerged, hungry and seemingly angry (black flies madder? Too soon?).

I find fishing to be calming so it wasn’t long before I was out bothering brook trout, an activity that, despite the slipping and sliding and stumbling over rocks, is somehow relaxing to me.

An anonymous small stream.

Mostly just knocking on doors to see if anyone’s home, the small streams I haunt now are are a far cry from the still-water fishing I did for so long, not so long ago. These are the places I snuck off to when I needed a change from stocked fish in a big lake, where the chances of snagging a backcast on something were next to nil.

Small stream, small fish, big fun.

Backcasts are unnecessary if not impossible in most spots on these streams. Rather, the savvy angler develops a repertoire of presentations to compensate for the lack of casting space. Flicking and flinging work well, along with the occasional cuss word. Holding one’s fly between thumb and forefinger, while drawing line to bend one’s rod like a bow is a very effective way to drive a hook deeply into the flesh of said thumb or forefinger. Sometimes, though, one gets lucky and the fly slips beneath overhanging branches rather than tying two half hitches six feet up a willow.

Could fish it with a stick.

It’s the kind of fishing where the object is getting up close. Stealth is required. Sometimes, slowly extending the rod, with only the fly touching the water is the way to go — making the expensive reel holding all that expensive line superfluous. It’s the kind of fishing one could do with a stick.

I bet some forward-thinking entrepreneur could come up with a fancy rod without a reel for such conditions. If they were smart, they might even give it a history and a mystical-sounding Japanese name. I enjoy fishing just as much as anyone else but until someone starts selling stick rigs with Japanese names, it’s good to know there will always be the trusty old Green Mountain Thumper.

The Trusty Old Green Mountain Thumper (See link above for details).

(Note to self: Insert appropriate heart-felt closing here and delete this text before publishing.)

Categories: Fly Fishing, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

11 Best Holiday Gifts of the Year for Outdoorsy Types on Your List

(Before someone gets in a snit because they expected something else, I would like to point out that the year in the title of this post is 1958 and the images are from the issue of Sports Afield magazine published in December of that year. Also, I apologize to the anglers out there for the lack of fishing-related gift items but, I’m sure you’ll agree, these are gifts that everyone can use! ~QG)

Who among us hasn’t awakened feeling certain urges, knowing that the nearest bush/outhouse/privy is just too cold/far away/full of splinters and/or spiders to consider? Or that we’d feel better about ourselves if only we had a good old-fashioned status symbol to show off?

“You’ll have to go some to beat this gift!”

There is no indication as to just what kind of fur this pot to piss in is lined with but, of course, it’s real. Personally, it looks a little small, not much larger than a decent coffee mug, but what do you want for $3.95?

The same folks that brought us the $3.95 fur-lined chamber pot also offered up a tiny little outboard motor, just right for powering model boats or mixing drinks. At 1850 r.p.m. you can be sure your whiskey sour is well blended but keep your finger near that shut-off switch — whiskey sprayed in the eye burns like the dickens!

“Has shut-off switch…”

Enough of that silliness. Serious duck hunters required serious gear and if only there were a camouflage mask that didn’t cause game to flare as you scanned the skies. JVS Products of Council Bluffs, Iowa, had a two-dollar solution to that age-old problem, with their mask made of “tough, molded plastic” which had plenty of room to be worn over glasses and came in “variegated colors.” The grid-work, I assume, was either for ventilation to prevent condensation or for straining soup.

“100% effective…”

Of course, a majority of hunters surveyed indicated that they would rather receive a nice Browning shotgun than a cold plastic mask, though a man in a mask, carrying an automatic shotgun, would certainly receive a certain amount of attention in some quarters.

Automatic Pistols Starting at $29.95

To keep that new firearm in top condition, you could stuff someone’s stocking with a gun cleaning kit from Hoppe’s. You still can and, from the look on Santa’s face, you probably should.

Hoppe’s Famous Gun Cleaning Outfit

My favorite beard balm smells of patchouli, which for some reason seems to bother my more conservative friends. I also happen to like the smell of gun oil but some of my more progressive friends do not. When I mix a little Hoppe’s No. 9 with my patchouli, no one knows what to say.

Some folks are harder to match with a gift than others, especially those who yearn for the outdoors to the point they sit around in their undergarments and smoke pipes. Only quality craftsmanship can give us words like “RefrigiWear” but, by golly, they did it. If you ask me, though, these insulated undergarments look both heavy and bulky, not to mention sweaty. And quite possibly flammable, so watch that pipe, Bub.

It takes a certain kind of guy.

And for a lot of smoking pleasure while in your undergarments, why not get yourself a tin of Prince Albert, once the subject of many a crank call (“Do you have Prince Albert in a can? Better let him out!”) that somehow seemed funnier when I was a child. “Mild,” “fresh,” and “tasty” are no doubt relative terms used by ad men.

“Do you have Prince Albert in a can?”

Am I the only one with vague memories of bouncing pellets off the tile floor and knotty pine paneling of the rumpus room? Possibly, maybe, into a couch cushion but I don’t know anything about the window? Home shooting ranges have gone the way of lawn darts and Wacky Clackers, another indication of how times certainly have changed.

Gun Fun for Everyone

Handy for both hiding pellet wounds and those times one just doesn’t feel like putting on a shirt, nothing beats the feel of a wool dickey against bare skin. If that’s not itchy enough for you, wear it under a wool shirt. Men, women, and children all choose from the same one size but colors include “dead grass” and “grey.”

Nelson Turtle-Neck Dickey

Some folks might desire a less rashy and restricting way to conceal wounds and wattles. Preferably in silk, a nice ascot is always classy, especially as gift-giving attire if you’re Jack Benny and giving your friends cartons of cigarettes. (What is that thing he’s holding?)

With the festive holiday cartons, he saved a ton on gift wrapping!

Perhaps you think it would be nice to deliver all these gifts yourself but are afraid of getting lost on the way. That may not seem like such a problem in this modern age, with cellular technology and GPS built into everything, but batteries can run low and cell phone coverage can be spotty, putting intrepid wannabe Santas at risk. Why not grab yourself a hard copy of all that data (called a “map”) and navigate your way with this handy device, once used by operators of planes, boats and automobiles the world over? Always working, and easy to read in any language, a “compass” did the trick for millions of people for hundreds of years. In 5 colors, with “modern” styling.

Pre-GPS Technology

Christmas gift giving just isn’t the same these days but one thing remains constant and that is the wish from all of us at Fish in a Barrel Pond that all our readers be comfortable, safe and warm this holiday season and every other day of the year.

Merry Christmas, wubbas. Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em!

 

 

Categories: Humor, Product and Gear Reviews | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Back by Popular Demand: Political Discourse Paint by Number Kits!

Listening to the radio many years ago, my friend, Eugene, and his pal, Purly, were inspired to create another of their timeless products. Originally delayed by concerns about toxicity, I was pleased to announce those concerns had been addressed. The conversations may be toxic, but this product is not! Once again, we are pleased to present:

Eugene and Purly’s Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits

We are faced with many issues in these troubled times, and some people would have you believe that these issues are complicated, difficult to understand, and worthy of thoughtful conversation.

Poppycock!

Everyone knows it’s winner-take-all these days, so quit screwing around with careful reasoning and listening to the other side! You need bold rhetorical strokes to shut the other guy up, and you want the broadest brush possible to paint him into a corner when logic fails. Our selection of new products gives you everything you need to win any argument!

Available in a variety of sizes, our large-capacity brushes will allow you to slap it on, real good and thick. Go ahead, load ‘er up and marvel at the complete coverage!

Our 12" 'mini' brush.

Our 12″ ‘mini’ brush.

 Our 12″ mini-brush is just the right size to put a stop to those pesky “conversations” at the dinner table. Your guests will be stunned at how quickly you put them in their place, even those at the other end of the table, who will be surprised as all get out by the extra long reach of our six foot handle! Other models include proverbial ten foot poles for touchy subjects, and our extra-large, two-handed model (currently under development for internet use) will cover any subject simply, completely and thoroughly. All of our brushes are sturdy enough to be used with all the force you can muster, filling corners and gaps with ease. For especially stubborn opponents, they also work with tar!

With our new Political Discourse Paint by Number Kits, stupid stuff like “subtlety”, “nuance”, and “facts” will be things of the past. “Details”? Who needs ’em? Not you, when you’re spreading it thick with one of these babies! Those things just get in the way for some folks, but with these kits you will achieve smooth, even coverage and a flawless finish that will leave those morons speechless.

Just as “facts” and “logic” can gum up the works, many people find themselves also struggling with complications like “choices”, but we’ve got that covered too! No more messing around with green, red, blue, or any of those other confusing colors used by eggheads and dummies, because we have narrowed our selection down to the only two colors that matter these days!

Choose one:

#1- BLACK

#1- BLACK

#2- WHITE

#2- WHITE

Our own special proprietary formulas ensure that these two colors absolutely will not, under any circumstances, mix together, enabling you to make your case with no shades of gray! They actually repel each other, and are also permanent, so no one (not even you) will ever be able to change your mind!

Our Political Discourse Paint by Numbers Kits will allow you to cover any issue you can think of simply and easily. Everyone else seems to have one, shouldn’t you?

Stop thinking and order yours today!

(Specify color, brush size. May not be available in all areas.)

Other products by Eugene and Purly include Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Rods, Vermont Hand Crafted Tenkara Flies and Mouse Pie.

Categories: Humor, politics | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

To Hell with Fishing

“When a fisherman gets to the stream he looks it over and decides where he would go if he were a fish. Then he takes out his worm can or fly box and decides which worm or fly he would prefer if he were a fish.

Then he drifts his worm or casts his fly into the spot he has decided on. If he catches a fish he is very proud, because he knows he thinks like a fish. And naturally, fishermen who think like fish catch more trout than fishermen who think like armadillos or duck-billed platypuses or mongooses.

Of course, the reason a fish thinks the way he does is that his brain is very tiny in relation to his body. So the tinier the fisherman’s brain the easier it is for him to think like a fish, and catch trout right and left.”

~ Ed Zern

Many an angler has one or more shelves full of, or tables leveled with, books containing some of the finest outdoor sporting writing ever produced — the  literature of fishing. Names like Haig-Brown and Halford, Maclean and McGuane, Skues, Ford, Walton and a hundred more fill the pages of collections and compendiums, readers for fireside and bedside, as well as books pocket-sized and absolutely gigantic. Some writers are represented with snippets or single pieces, while others justify entire books of their own. Writers like John Gierach, for example, who I appreciate for several reasons, including the fact that Still Life with Brook Trout has done more for me to keep things from sliding off this table than any other fishing book in my collection. Continue reading

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Castwell and Tantalus go a-Angling

In a short story by G.E.M. Skues, Theodore Castwell is an angler who, after death, finds himself fishing the hole of his dreams, for eternity. In Greek mythology, Tantalus is such a jerk that he finds himself surrounded by things he desires, just out of reach, for eternity. Here at The View From Fish in a Barrel Pond, Quill Gordon finds himself relating to both predicaments although he eventually has the good sense to extract himself.

Inspired by an old copy of The Compleat Angler and a jug of cider, what follows imagines Castwell and Tantalus as Piscator and Venator, in the style of Izaak Walton, Charles Cotton and oh, I don’t know, Ed Zern, I guess. Illustrations by J. Eyre, in a Collins’ Pocket Classic Edition of the Compleat Angler published in Great Britain in the 1930s(?).

~~~

*the first hour*

TANTALUS. Wait, sir! Wait! I can’t keep up with you.

CASTWELL. I hold back for your benefit but you’ve still not caught up. What’s keeping you?

TANT. Trout are swirling, right there, not fifteen feet from shore! A few minutes is all I ask, to ascertain what they feed on. After that, it won’t take long to bring a few to hand.

CAST. Spent mayflies, no doubt, perhaps a few cripples that never made it off the water last night. Or little brown beetles that crashed, trying to fly before they were fully warmed by the morning sun. Take your pick. The breeze brings them here, nearly every day at this time. But this is not a time to be fishing. There’s work to be done!

TANT. Half an hour at most! I see them right there! Twelve casts, and I will be all about business. Honest.

CAST. Your first business this fine day is a leaking commode but don’t worry yourself one bit; with each other for company, time for us will drag by only twice as slowly. Fishing may come later, after the commode. Bring a hammer, just in case. Continue reading

Categories: Fly Fishing, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Of Polar Bears, Elephants, and a Place to Put Your Stuff

Us outdoorsy types, especially we who fish, sure do like our stuff.

When Johnny Morris started Bass Pro Shops in his father’s Brown Derby Liquor Store I doubt he had any idea how much stuff we would buy, but by the time he was selling fully outfitted bass boats he was certainly getting the picture. As we bought more stuff, so did Mr. Morris, including that other outdoor catalog behemoth, Cabela’s, in a 2017 deal valued at a cool five billion dollars.

True

While Bass Pro may dominate an industry, it is much more than a business juggernaut. Johnny Morris has always supported research and education about conservation issues, partnering with groups like the Bass Research Foundation as far back as the 1970s and, more recently, the Audubon Society, which just awarded him one of Conservation’s highest awards, the Audubon Medal.

One can only imagine the stuff cluttering up the garage of a man like Johnny Morris. Actually, I doubt there’s much clutter in his garage at all but, while some people collect stamps or hand-tatted antimacassars, Morris comes home with race cars and taxidermy collections, and he is not the sort of person who is satisfied watching a tank full of guppies.

The Alligator on the Way from Boats to Menswear

Continue reading

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From the Mixed Up Bookshelves (and Beer ‘Fridge) of Quill Gordon: Pamola

Moosehead Breweries Limited, in Saint John, New Brunswick, keeps a close eye on other brewers who might think of putting a moose on their label. They own multiple U.S. trademark registrations for the words “Moose” and “Moosehead” and for “moose-based” images. Their legal department carried on a long discussion about such images with the Hop’n Moose Brewing Company of Rutland, Vermont, in 2017, before voluntarily abandoning an infringement suit in 2018.

Baxter Brewing Company, of Lewiston, Maine, also features a moose of sorts on its cans but I imagine any conversation with the folks at Moosehead would have been short, due to the fact that Baxter Brewing’s moose has the body of a man, claws, and wings.

Wicked tasty, by the way.

A moose, with claws and wings?

That’s no ordinary moose. That is Pamola, a legendary spirit believed by the Algonquin people to inhabit Mt. Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine. Pamola is the spirit of thunder and cold weather, and he is the protector of the mountain, always doing his level best to keep people from its summit. Even Henry David Thoreau wrote of Pamola’s determination, and I once found myself approaching Katahdin’s base, dog paddling through the flooded woods lining the rain-swollen Penobscot River, towing my backpack, which was lashed to my air mattress. The mountain was completely hidden by clouds, the rangers closed the trail, and I’ve still never been to the top of Katahdin. Continue reading

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fishing Indoors with Cocktails

There are those among us who believe they are not properly admired when they catch a fish, nor are they showered with proper adulation. No crowd goes wild and no drums are beaten when they bring a fish to net.

Nimrods who release their catch might get a photo or two, nearly identical to the thousands of others floating by on social media, and can spend the rest of the weekend hounding their friends for “likes” and their friends can spend the rest of the weekend avoiding them.

Under some circumstances, fish may be kept and consumed. One of the most iconic images associated with fly fishing is that of fresh fish, fried over a streamside fire. Brookies for breakfast beneath pines dripping dew.

Sometimes, where it is allowed, larger fish are brought back to camp and laid out on a table for all to see before being prepared in such a way that they become unrecognizeable. Pieces of skin adhering to the hard crust of burned corn meal stuck to a cast iron pan are sometimes the only clues remaining as to why the pan was in the trash. Continue reading

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

From the Mixed Up Bookshelves of Quill Gordon: The Flying Fisherman

“The Flying Fisherman”

Roscoe Vernon Gaddis was born in Mattoon, Illinois, in 1896. When he was thirteen, his family moved to Great Falls, Montana, which is where, among other things, he caught his first rainbow trout and met Buffalo Bill. In 1915, he missed his chance to play professional baseball when he skipped a try-out with the St. Louis Cardinals because he heard the bass were running on the White River in Arkansas. Having passed up a career opportunity like that to go fishing, it is fitting that fishing eventually became his career.

Everywhere he went, whether working as a gandy dancer on a railroad gang in Iowa, selling vacuum cleaners in Minnesota, or driving mules in Louisiana, he fished. When the United States declared war on Germany, in 1917, he enlisted in the Army, signing up for the Signal Corps because that’s where the airplanes were and he had wanted to fly ever since he’d seen his first plane several years before. Shipped to San Antonio for basic training, while waiting for his air cadet application to be approved, he fished for bass in the Little Medina River. Continue reading

Categories: +Uncategorized, Fly Fishing | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Cremation of MMXVIII

We’ve used fire in the past, as a symbolic cleansing of the year gone by, and also as a welcome to the year ahead. A good fire also provides entertainment, along with the possibility of excitement.

MMX. Don’t worry, the excited-looking man in the foreground had no hair to begin with!

Continue reading

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