I hope you enjoy my blog, a collection of articles and thoughts regarding my interests. I'm a married father of two that loves to write about gliding, hunting, fishing, camping and any outdoor passion. Oh yah, I'm a quadriplegic. I hope this is informative to some, entertaining to others, and interesting to all. Let me know what you think. If you'd like an article for your publication, I've got words I haven't even used yet!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Chalkboard: Reflections On Becoming A Quadriplegic

A little story I wrote years ago, illustrating what it felt like in those times shortly after becoming a quadriplegic.

The Chalkboard

Imagine that every new skill that we acquire is recorded on our own personal chalkboard.

My chalkboard is nearly covered in writing as I study the top line.

“Rode a bike!”

As I glance at the words the image of a warm summer’s day floods my mind. A gentle breeze is blowing; the smell of freshly cut lawn permeates the air. I’m sitting precariously on a shiny new bicycle, pointed down the paved driveway that slopes gently towards the road in front of our house. There are already a few fresh scrapes on my knees, torn jeans, and a sense of excitement as I anticipate the next run down the lane. A quick push from my mother and away I go, wobbling and swerving as I concentrate on learning the correct moves to tame the beast. Success! A complete run down the driveway is made.

Fishing with my brother, loved it since an early age.
The "New" Holiday Rambler and Travelall,
 many adventures took place in here!
I scan the board farther down and noticed in an adolescent’s writing: “ Fishing”.  As my gaze stops on the words, I feel the world around me fade away and suddenly I’m standing in the front yard of our family’s house in a large city. It’s early June, I’m ten years old, and the weather is warm and sunny. Behind me sits our summer home on wheels, a 1969 Holiday Rambler proudly affixed to the rear of an old but eager army-green 1962 International Travelall. The unit patiently awaits our next escape from the city, complete with bikes on the front, and canoe on the roof. Gripped tightly in my right hand is a fly rod, released from its winter prison inside the camper trailer. Under my right elbow is a book held tightly against my body to teach me to cast using forearm movement only. “10 o’clock … 2 o’clock”, I repeat as I practice false casts over and over, until no more cracking of the whip is heard. I learn to drop the fly (a split shot weight) into any one of the number of ice-cream-pails placed around the yard. All the while I daydream of pristine mountain lakes teeming with trout to be conquered in two weeks time.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Smoked Trout and the Bradley 2-Rack Smoker

Smoked Trout - First Try!

One thing that I did not inherit from my father was a sense of moderation. I suppose in that respect, and maybe a couple of others (if you ask my wife), I am a work in progress. I remember raising a few trout in our ponds years ago, and within a couple of years we figured that if a few were good, that 10,000 would be better! It did get to be a wee bit too much, so we are back to just a few to play with and a lesson learned. It was the same way with smoking trout. Someone gave me a taste of smoked trout once and I decided that it would be a good thing to recruit my friends to do (remember I'm a quadriplegic, the power of persuasion is a survival skill). Soon there was more than one of us that thought it was a good idea, and instead of using the small $40 smoker that we already had we decided to employ the old "go big or go home" strategy that seemed prevalent around us. Pretty soon we had a large, stylish (not), old-fashioned-fridge-converted-to-smoker on mom's lawn. Mom being patient, not much was said for the first 10 years or so, then it was suddenly brought to our attention that the curb appeal of our smoker had waned a little.

Back to the smoking. Remember this all started with somebody giving us a taste of smoked fish. Now we figured that our new smoker was large enough to hold 100 fish or so, and there is no use wasting all that extra space by smoking only a few. We proceeded to catch fish, and soon enough we had enough to fill that smoker. We mixed up the brine, left the fish overnight in it and in the morning fired up our lovely new toy. I remember we were up all day, until long after dark, shuffling the racks, moving the fish, and tweaking and adjusting as is necessary when a man is involved in any project. In the end we ended up with 20 fish that could be categorized as "burnt to rat-shit", 15 that were "a little overdone", 30 that looked real good, and 35 that were "a wee bit rare but that's okay".