Sunday, December 30, 2012

Project update #2

I am still making good progress, however today wasn't nearly as smooth as yesterday.

I ran into problems in places that I hadn't anticipated...  Like the very simple task of cutting the dowel rod risers with any kind of clean, square cut.  It shouldn't have been so hard.  And once the damn things were cut, then sanded to my satisfaction, I needed to drill a 1/4" hole through the middle for the hardware.  Again, a relatively simple task became a brutal challenge.  I opted for slop and went bigger with the hole than I needed, to allow for some wiggle room as I slid the bolt down through.

At a point, I decided that I could continue to try and suffer through even more frustration, or be satisfied with what I had.  I chose the latter.  I'm just not confident that these dowels were going to come out any better than they were...and they aren't too bad.  (They are imperfect in places where the imperfections shouldn't be noticeable anyway)

Fortunately, the hardware and method of assembling everything seems to be working as well as I had hoped.



So....I went ahead with the stain.  I am not a woodworker by nature, neither am I terribly patient with things like this...so I went with a stain/finish product.  I don't know if it was the best choice, but so far I like the way it looks.  It is drying now, and hopefully can be assembled tomorrow.





How do you like those not quite round OR centered holes??? 

Next post should be a fully assembled tying station, complete with new vise!

Til later, 

-M

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Project update #1

As planned, I started work on the new fly tying station today.  Admittedly, I took full advantage of the fact that my children were both busy at friends houses, and my wife was gracious enough to let me disappear into the garage for the afternoon.

So far, the project is without any major complications, and thus, it is also without any angst or temper tantrums out of me.  Uncharacteristically, I have been taking my time and worked at a much slower pace than usual.  Coincidence that it is also going smoothly?  Probably.

With a little luck, tomorrow I will have it fully assembled, only to take it back apart to put some stain on.  (currently leaning towards a light stain as opposed to a darker color)

I will put up plans later on for anyone who wants to make their own, but given that I am still working out details as I go, all I can offer at this time is a few photos to show off my progress.

Just seeing how things are going to fit

For the most part, still on the original plan

Square risers out, Cylinder risers in.  This is the final layout
With the layout determined and holes drilled, I couldn't help myself and added some tools...
Every good shop has a dog, right?
...and a glimpse at what the finished product should look like


...oh, and by the way....no--the UPS man hasn't delivered the vise yet.  Pisser.

Till later,

-M

Friday, December 28, 2012

DIY (or: More of "MacLoosh is cheap")


It’s renovation time at the Lab.

In the relatively short time that I have been tying flies, and even shorter time that I have been posting about tying flies, the Lab has seen several changes.  If I were to put this in a business context, it would be an outward sign of growth.

Well, it is time for another upgrade.  At this time, I am fairly content with the table that I have built: It is rough, and maybe even crude, but effective.  I am not a fine furniture maker, and I am a messy tier so generally speaking: rough and crude suit my current needs perfectly.

This project, however, is unexplainably important to me for several reasons, not the least of which is that I have a reference to work from.  And when re-doing what you already have…it wouldn't make any sense to go backwards in workmanship, size or functionality.

Perhaps, I should back up and explain a bit.

Roughly a year ago, I bought a second hand fly tying station complete with vise holder, pins for thread and predrilled holes for tools.  It was $10 and has served me very well.  But, as we all know, over time our style develops and we think to ourselves “Hmmm….if only I had a ____” or “you know, If I were making this, I would have put the tools over there….”. 


So the question becomes: When is that time that you finally say “Yep, that’s it…time for something new”?  For me it was my birthday.  Mrs. MacLoosh and the MacLooshkins were kind enough to take me over to Orvis to pick out a new vise (they had clearly fielded the hints I had been tossing…).  Unfortunately, the one I wanted (and was in our budget) was out of stock, so we had to order it. 
 
(At present, I look out of the front window for the UPS man in a way that’s not unlike my dog staring out the door of his crate.  No I don’t pant, but yes…I do whine)


So with a handy dandy new DanVise due in 5-7 business days, I decided that it just wouldn’t be correct to put that new vise into an old tying station.  The time has come.  So I also dragged my wife and kids through Home Depot as I searched for ideas and materials.  I had a rough idea in my head, and how it might shape up so I picked up some materials, figuring that I would start with them and see what how it takes shape.

As will happen from time to time, my mind drifted a little bit while in my office at work and I started to doodle.  The next thing I knew, I was deep into what has become a blueprint of sorts.  And conveniently, it works with the two pieces of wood that I bought at HD.  We are coming up on a 4 day weekend, which would normally be plenty long enough to get a good start…but it is another holiday weekend with New Year’s Eve plans that I wouldn’t change even if I could, so I am afraid that this little DIY project of mine will not be finished as quickly as I might like. 


I will, however, keep y’all updated on this as it moves along.  If it goes the same way my projects usually do, I will have plenty of fodder for some fresh rants and temper tantrums.

Last note: I'm fully aware that I haven’t stayed completely true to the original intent of writing a blog.  Fishing was to be a central focus, and admittedly I have been lax in that area.  To those of you who look for more fishing related content, please bear with me.  I have been re-tooling things a bit and I think the changes will more in tune with the originally intended theme of the MacLoosh Chronicles. 

As always, thanks for reading.  I sure am having fun, I hope you are too.

Til later,

-M

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Fo Shizzle....

From me to you:  

I hope you have a safe, happy and wonderful Christmas and New Year!  

See you on the water!


-MacLoosh


Thursday, December 20, 2012

MacLoosh v. Draco

It just wouldn't be right to have issued such a direct (public) challenge to a storm, and then not follow up, now would it?

I think it is fair to say that Draco threw some good punches, but as a friend of mine once said (after punishing me on a disturbingly long day of cycling): "Damn dude.  You suffer better than anyone I've ever met".  I took it as the left handed compliment that he intended it as.  This friend of course, is one of those ultra skinny, hardcore bike enthusiast, naturally gifted athlete types.  He's also a fucker. He used to push me in ways my cardiovascular system never quite accepted, and to this day: still hasn't forgiven me.

Wait...where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Draco.

Anyway, despite several body punches today, I am still standing and more than just a little proud of that fact.

Here is a photo recap.  Enjoy.

The view from staging:
Thanks to crappy roads, we were second due for a working car fire that was originally assigned to our engine.
Isn't that just a kick in the teeth?

Yep. Pretty much.
Photo credits: NBC 15 Facebook page
To go or not to go.  That was the question.  The answer was "Bah! I just want to get home and this is the most direct route so I'm going for it. Besides, I have 4 Wheel Drive".  Famous last words....and...that's all I have to say about that.
At a time when I should have been sipping a well deserved cocktail...I was hand shoveling the nearly 18" of  the heaviest snow I've ever seen.  This was almost Draco's knockout punch....
Mrs. MacLoosh also took it on the chin with several power outages today, but still managed to whoop up some damn good  beef stew.  Much needed and appreciated!
(She's a good woman.  I think I will keep her around for another year or two...
)
And...because tomorrow, I will still be standing and Draco will have moved on to test his mettle against new foes.....

Damn straight. Bitch.
Oh...and by the way...How about that Suzy Favor Hamilton thing?????   Wow.....I think its safe to say that not too many people saw THAT one coming....

Til later,

-M

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

# 101 and Draco can kiss my....

It was with a heavy heart that post number 100 had to be about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.  But...it needed to be done. With all due respect to the events out east, I had hoped for something different for that post.  100 just felt like a milestone, you know?

No biggie.  Adapt and overcome. We've got number 101, and I am feeling just a little more random than usual.  Why you ask?  Well for starters, we here in the center of the 30th state to join this fair union are about to get the shit kicked out of us by a snowstorm.  Not just ANY snowstorm.  This one has been named.  A first in my lifetime.


Let's be clear about this, once a storm has been named, it gets an ego.  Once it has an inflated ego...we mortals are in for a bad ride--history has born this out more times than we can count.  Draco, as this snowmageddon has been named, is bearing down on the UnForest as I type.  But I also have a challenge with the name.  Draco ?!  What the hell?  Is it named after a dragon?  Or is it named after an ancient lawyer?  Either way, it is a piss poor name for a storm.  Just sayin'.

Given this storm's proximity to the drop dead date of 12/21/12...it seems to me that a Mayan name would have been more appropriate.  But...I digress.....

Need to add Draco to this list.  Tomorrow (just in case....)
So Draco is supposed to dump between 14" and 18" of snow, and my biggest concern right now is wondering how my 8" tall dog is going to handle pooping in a hole that I have made my son dig out for him.  Poor lil ole Manny is going to need to learn how to take a dump without being able to look over his shoulder at me like I am offending his sensibilities. I hope he isn't emotionally scarred.

Anyway, it occurred to me on my drive home from work tonight, that this goofy storm has the whole populous in an uproar.  People have lost thier ever lovin minds!  Never one to miss an opportunity, I headed on over to the local grocery store to see just what kind of mayhem ole Draco has stirred up.  Of course I took my camera.  Don't be silly: It's what I do, and the store that I love to hate did not disappoint.




While the fighting temptation to photograph wide eyed shoppers scurrying through the isles scooping up extra loaf of bread and case of water (because melting snow for water is sooooo 1912); I did manage to keep my manners about me.  MacLoosh don't need no lawsuits you know.  Not with a winter storm named after an ancient lawyer sharpening its claws outside my house.  That just seems like bad karma.

I suppose I should shut this down for the night and get some sleep.  While most of the world around me wakes up tomorrow, drinks a slow cup of Joe and phones in...I will have to slug my way to work. As a friend asked "why are they making you work tomorrow? it's going to be HELL out there", I had no choice but to agree and say "I work for a fire department.....", then wait as the reality of that landed on him, and he followed up with a pitiful...."Oooooh......yeah.  I suppose...."

And yes.  Since I have to go to work, I am taking my camera.  And I am wearing my "Stormy Kromer" hat just to twist a couple of people up, and to thumb my nose at a poorly named storm.

Til later,

-M


Sunday, December 16, 2012

I'm at a loss...

...and I suspect that I am not alone in my angst.

After a couple of days trying to digest this...All I ask is that we forget the shooter's name, and never  EVER breathe it again.

Rather, remember and pray for the victims and their families.

Photograph stolen from the internet.  Credits unknown.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Catharsis

The first significant snowfall each year is magic.  Pure magic.  My kids are walking talking buzzing humming and jabbering evidence of this.  The kids aren't the only ones who are excited.  I am too. I look forward to the first snow every year.

Knowing that the first snowfall is usually a little wet and heavy as the ground hasn't completely frozen, I look forward to the stickiness of the snow on every branch and blade of grass.  In time, this enthusiasm will fade as I am painfully reminded of my refusal to purchase a snowblower...but for now, I can dig it.

To add to all of this, it is Sunday.  The kids can rip through some breakfast and are (in a nice change of pace) glad to go outside right away.  The air in the house is happy as they put on every piece of snow gear they own.  Since it is Sunday, should they be in church?  Maybe according to some.  I respectfully submit that as they scream, hoop and holler and giggle incessantly in joy that is as pure as the fallen snow they are playing in, they are closer to god than anyone passing a collection plate right now.


As for me, I am brought back to my own childhood.  I was the same way....  So while my wife gets a much needed chance to sleep in, I slip on down to the Lab to enjoy the morning in my own way.  Coffee in hand.

No real projects or specific flies in mind to work on, just a chance to plug in to my own relaxed state of mind.  I've earned this.  I am at one of those places in my career where I am ready to step on through to the next stage...but getting to this place has taken a lot of my extra energy.  Now that I have worked through some of the bigger road blocks, I feel I can settle in and reflect a bit.  This morning is the perfect setting for some good old fashioned peace of mind.

Since the trout season is closed and I don't have enough time to travel over to Iowa for some winter fishing, the Lab is my destination of choice.

I put a gold bead on a size 16 scud hook.  No easy task considering the amount of coffee that I have had....but once the bead is on, in the vise it goes. Seems to me that some music is in order.  The mood of the day is reflective, so I punch up Pandora on my phone, run it through the speakers at my fly tying bench, and decide fairly quickly on "Outlaw Country".  I'm not usually a country music kind of listener, but this takes me back to being in my dads Ford F250 with vinyl bench seats, a CB radio and an AM radio blaring Johnny Cash, David Allen Coe and the like.

I guess, now that I think about this, it could be said that I have country roots.

I think to myself, "wouldn't it bake the old man's noodle if he knew I was in my basement thinking about all of this, and listening to 'HIS' music by way of a phone that pulls a radio station out of of the internet??"  He still hasn't figured out how to set the clock on his VCR for crying out loud...

Wrap the lead.  Start in the middle of the shank, and twist it on up to the bead.  Then wrap some thread and secure the weight in place.  As I do this "King of the Road" comes on and I am grateful to listen to the song without my dad howling the words at the top of his lungs.  God that man had a terrible singing voice.  He knew it though.  And the more pain I looked like I was in, the louder he sang.  I would beg my mom to do something about the annoying off key man in the driver's seat, but she was as helpless to stop him as I was.  Mom and I suffered together for a lot of hours in that truck.  It was a bonding thing,  No one will ever TRULY understand this the same way mom and I do.

Tie in some crystal flash for the tail, Then tie in some red Ultra wire. Next up, dub in some "Ice Hare" dubbing and run it nearly up to the bead.  Wrap the Ultra wire up and tie off behind the bead.  Sit back and think to myself "If that ain't country, I'll kiss your ass".


Long pause, more coffee, and realize that I have an audience.  The MacLooshkins and the neighbor girl are all staring at me and giggling.  They've caught me singing "The Highwayman" at full volume and can hear me from outside the house.  Now that I've been noticed, I stop singing, make funny faces at them as they pile snow against the basement window while yelling "We can HEAR you Daddy!".  The MacLooshkins are embarrassed because their dad is howling along at country music--At the top of his lungs. .......Oh.....My......God....... it hits me.  I'm not so different than my dad.

Ouch.

Without missing an opportunity, Johnny Cash comes on singing his remake of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Will the circle be unbroken".  God clearly has a good sense of humor.

A few wraps of pink "Scud Dubbing" and tie it off.  A few whip finishes and it is time to admire my work.

Almost as soon as they are done giggling about the singing, the chorus of "Dad!  Come outside with us!" has begun.  Given my love of the fist snow, and the fact that there is NO joy quite like that of pelting your children with snowballs, I am shutting down the lab, and turning off the computer.  For now.

Til later,

-M


Sunday, December 2, 2012

The week in pictures

I want desperately to put up a post, as I have a LOT on my mind these days, but for the sake of time and to satisfy the inner time clock that starts to get edgy if I go longer than a week between posts....Here are several photos that represent different activities of the week.  I think you will agree...based on the range of subjects...that there just aren't enough hours in the day lately.

Enjoy.

I suppose there are several markers of a boy becoming a man.  One of those might be the honor of cutting down the family Christmas tree.  Well done G.  Proud of you.

Seriously.  Is it possible to NOT have at least one image like this during the holidays?
Mad Props to Mr. Bethke.  Been working up an army of Pink Squirrels to replenish the box for '13 Been playing with the recipe and colors too.  Stay tuned.
Relax. It was a controlled burn.

"The truth knocks on the door, and you say 'go away, I'm looking for the truth',
and it goes away. Puzzling."    -Robert M. Pursig
Til later,

-M

Thursday, November 22, 2012

On this day...

....I give thanks.  Here is why:


As more than just a side note; on November 22, 1997, I asked Mrs. MacLoosh to marry me.  Mar, thank you for saying yes, and thank you for all of these years of love and lots of fun.

-M

Saturday, November 17, 2012

CDC Caddis


I like dry flies.  Not really going to apologize for that.  I do understand that most of the time a fish is actively feeding, it is  somewhere lower in the water column and not on the surface.  I understand that in order to catch more fish, I need to embrace nymph fishing.  I get it.  I really do.

But I still prefer dry flies.

There is a hell of a lot to be  said for that moment when shadow turns into a flash of buttery brown and streaks to the surface like a minute man missile.  The splash that is a result of a violent and wildly efficient predatory attack on a hapless bug is simply.......delicious.

It is even better when that "bug" is a fly you have tied.  Whether an original fly, or a pattern you've picked up off of YouTube or out of a magazine; doesn't matter.  What matters is that the fly is currently tethered to a fish, and was taken in a blaze of broken water. Despite the fact that you watched the whole thing go down, you are slightly rattled, and fully jazzed.

Grinning from ear to ear, you ease the fish in.  Admire it for a short time, then carefully unhook the fish as if it is a delicate flower.  Never-mind the act of savagery this cold blooded killer just delivered on your tackle, you are tender with it.  Almost loving, in a "manly" sort of way.

With that, I occasionally read the question, or have even contemplated it myself: If you could only fish with ONE fly, which would it be?

My answer is the Elk Hair Caddis.  Perhaps the quintessential dry fly.

Fortunately for me, I was turned on to a new way to tie these guys this summer by a friend of mine.  Thanks Tim!  I owe you.

With CDC as the body, and underwing.  Trust me when I tell you that when the trout are "looking up", if there is one of these guys coming down the current, you'd better have your game face on, cause it's bout to break loose.

Wanna learn how to tie one?  Click Here

Til later,

-M


Sunday, November 11, 2012

High Plains Scuds


The town of Lago is currently warming up it's volunteer militia for an impending showdown, and Clint's character says (as a resident of Lago sneaks up behind him and carefully reaches for the hunting knife on his hip) "You know, you're going to look awfully silly with that knife sticking up your ass".

Love it.

I am intrigued by the fact that I don't think we ever actually learn his character's name.  Well, there is that tombstone at the end...but the credits still list old Clint as "The Stranger".

What an absolute badass!  I imagine that I am not the only person who fantasizes about being that hard and cold.  It's a shame they don't make westerns like this anymore.  Isn't it?

High Plains Drifter is, I think, the quintessential movie for a day like today.  Outside, it is dreary, rainy, lazy and the only thing missing is a giant pot of chili cooking on the stove.

What could make this better?  Tying some flies.  Oh...yeah...I am doing that too.  Been intermittently working up new and improved scud patterns in the lab.   I am torn right now.  I have scud backing, and like the way it looks, but I learned a trick last year that makes scuds easier and faster to tie.  What's the trick?  Trim the "back" really thin (almost down to the thread) and then give it a good dose of either epoxy, superglue or even head cement to keep everything from unraveling in the water.   The end goal is a little bit of translucence (with legs).

I think the scud backing looks good.  But I am given to natural looking flies that are simple to tie and work.  Besides...I am still not convinced that Salmo Trutta is as hung up on aesthetics as anglers are....  As long as it is a close imitation I'm convinced that Mr. Brown trout is simply an eating machine.  If it looks like food coming down the pipeline, he tastes first, then decides whether it was worth the energy to eat or not.  At that point, whether or not the imitation is anatomically perfect is moot, and surely the taste of the hook plays a role in his decision making.

Hopefully by that time, I have intervened and taken up the slack enough to feel some weight at the other end.

Scud.  Version 3.2
Why scuds today?  Because they are easy.  And I have had my own issues getting into the swing of tying flies lately, so today I took the "low hanging fruit" and picked a gateway fly to help me catch a groove. So-to-speak.

Naturally, when a dad tries to sneak in some quiet time, there are children and a rambunctious puppy to offer plenty of distractions, so the fly tying is slow going at best.

Am I complaining?  No.  I have spent most the day thoroughly enjoying some 1 on 1 time with my baby girl.   She has been my buddy today, and with her brother preoccupied with one of his good friends and a box of Lego's, Sweets and I have been busy.  Our time together today has offered me some much needed smiles and warm fuzzies.

After a brief discussion about exactly what a scud is, she decided that she had better make one of her own.  She is typically lukewarm about actually fishing (I'm working on this...) but when it comes to fly tying--the kid's got potential.  No doubt about it.




Naturally, when something is going on, the puppy feels left out.  While I'd like to think he was trying to help....his efforts were decidedly on the naughty side.  

Puppy vs. Halloween Spider Decoration

It's all cute until he gets into my fly tying feathers.  Then we've got issues...... 
With that, I have a dog to reprimand,"The Stranger" has painted the town red and killed every character in the town of Lago who was morally flawed.  I think he only burned half of the structures down in the process.  How do you not just LOVE movies like this?

As for me, I should probably go do something productive...

Til later,

-M

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Following my nose

Pretty sure I have mentioned this before, but I am (obviously) drawn to water.  I've know this for my entire life, but it came crystal clear to me (again) this last week while away on business.

For those who don't know where MacLoosh World Headquarters is: it is smack dab in the middle of suburbia.  What was a cornfield not terribly long ago, is now what can only be described as geographically featureless urban sprawl.  Don't get me wrong, it is my home.  It is what my children know as the only place they have ever lived and as far as they are concerned, the center of the universe.  So the "UnForest" will have a special place in my heart for as long as I live.

But....

There is no water here.  No real hills, and no big tracks of untamed land.  Most importantly, no water.  (Thankfully I am within a relatively short drive to the driftless....) And this bugs me to no end.  Trips to my homeland (along the Mississippi River) have taken on a special meaning to me and my nose puts my mind at ease.

So back to my trip.  I spent the better part of a week in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  For the most part, I was cooped up in Hotel/Convention Center.  But every once in a while, I needed to get some fresh air so I stepped outside to take some deep breaths before plunging back into the world of fluorescent lighting.  When I did get outside for those precious few minutes, those deep breaths were accompanied by the sweet smell of water.  Big water. And it served to put me at ease just a little bit.


As anglers, we all know the smell.  It is the same one that we get in our nose when we get to the water we are fishing.  The bigger the water, the more noticeable the scent. It is the smell of slightly fishy, musty, sweet sweet water.  Not overbearing, but definitely discernible each time you inhale.  And for those of us who grew up near water, salt or fresh, it is the smell of home.  When we live around the water, we don't really realize our attraction to it.  When we move to a place that is (by and large) devoid of water, we don't realize how much we miss it until we catch that scent again.

It is comforting.  Even relaxing.  It is what some would call aroma therapy, although I am not confident it could be captured appropriately in a candle.

Of course, being the optimistic type who never leaves home without a fly rod and at least minimal gear in my truck, I held out hope for a quick early morning at one of the rivers or streams that feed into the bay.  I mean seriously, it was the end of October/beginning of November and I would be a liar if I said that thoughts of big steelhead hadn't crossed my mind.  But the truth was, Hurricane Sandy was having a solid effect on the great lakes even as she was kicking the shit out of the east coast, so high winds conspired with a full schedule of great conference speakers to keep me limited to short outside walks and hints of the water wafting to me by way of scent.

So, although grateful to see my wife and kids (and puppy) and sleep in my own bed again; now that I am back in the UnForest, I am plagued by the usual scent of the local grease rendering plant or cow manure from the local Holstein Hilton-depending on which direction the wind is blowing from.

Oh god, how I long for the scent of water...

Til later,

-M

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween Y'all!

Couldn't help myself.  Here is a collection of some of my favorite Halloween pix.








Til Later, 

-M

Thursday, October 25, 2012

If only...

I just read one of the most stunning, honest posts I think I have ever read.

My Hat is off to One Bug Is Fake for rocking some good old fashioned angst.  Don't mistake what I am saying here: I hope he finds his peace.  I really do.  What I AM saying is that it takes balls the size of church bells to get that honest in such a public manner.

Thanks to OBIF, I feel empowered to spew a little honesty of my own.  Life seems to be hitting below the belt lately here at the MacLoosh mansion, so here goes:

I don't want to be typing right now.  No offense, but I really wish I was in a place where having a laptop a "smart phone" and an internet connection would be both useless, and pointless.

Where is this place that I would rather be?


Right there.  

Next to a nice, but not too big of a fire.  My only concern would be to keep the fire going to ward off the cool October evening.  The noise that I would hear, would NOT be the tap tap tap of a keyboard.  It would be the crackling of finely split oak in the process of pyrolysis.

In this fantasy of mine, the biggest stress I would face would be getting from the fire to my sleeping bag.  When I wake up, some warm coffee, and the work of getting ready for the next night: collecting more fire wood, camp maintenance, time spent in the woods or just lounging at the campsite, and making simple meals over an open fire that are seasoned to taste with a healthy dose of hunger.

I think a week would be a good start.  From there, I would re-evaluate whether or not I was ready to enter the "real" world again.

Would fishing be included in this little fantasy of mine?  Maybe, maybe not.  I can't say for sure.  If I were to go without fishing...I think that even I could live with that.

What would NOT be included?  I'd love to give you a list of reasons, but I don't want to give those stresses any more energy than they deserve.  I am guessing you could probably come up with your own list anyway.

If only........

Til later,

-M