I grew up trying to catch fish with a rod and reel. I lived on a little creek in Oregon that almost certainly had fish. I really knew nothing about catching them though, and would use whatever mad combination of worms, lures, insect parts or other bait to try. I was vaguely aware of flyfishing, but never tried it. Never until this past August. My wife, Kate, grew up flyfishing and her parents both flyfish -- especially her father. In August, Kate and I spent a week with her parents at a little cabin on the St. Joe river in Idaho. Kate's father taught me the basics and I spent many a pleasant hour up to my knees (or waist) whipping the green line into sinuous S-curves over the river, before dropping the fly of the day on my target water. Of course I also spent many hours retrieving said fly from rocks, tree branches and snags, or tying replacement for said fly onto my ever shrinking leader. In all honesty, I had not expected to enjoy flyfishing nearly as much as I did. I figured that it would be another generally pleasant way to enjoy the outdoors, but with no great advantage over just sitting beside the stream with a book and a bear. I was wrong. It is great fun, technically demanding, often frustrating and frequently rewarding. After having carefully planned my strategy and finally landed the fly just where I want it, the thrill of having a fish strike is somewhere between landing a point in a fierce epée bout and having an improvise recipe turn out exactly as hoped. I am already looking forward to the next fishing trip... when I'll get to use the beautiful new custom-built fly rod that Kate's father gave me for xmas/birthday.
...or V-F-Fs as they're called by those in the know, are making a runner of me. I've always kind of liked the idea of running, and have, at times, actually enjoyed a run if all the conditions were right and I was in just the perfect frame of mind. Overall I've associated running with misery, asthma exacerbations, and knee injuries, and have avoided doing much of it. Now I'm pretty sure that my bad experiences with running are because I was trying to run in the popular manner -- a very unnatural manner. In his book Born to Run author Christopher McDougall explores the running style and the life style of the Tarahumara people of northern Mexico. He also discusses modern running culture and technique at length and argues (quite effectively) that the heel-strike style of running that is currently in vogue (and has been for a few decades now) is an artificial and potentially VERY harmful invention of Nike that has survived only by duping most of the western world through aggressive marketing campaigns. Humans were meant to run and our feet have evolved perfectly to do so... if we use our feet correctly. We should run as we do when we're barefoot (any surprise that some of the greatest runners of all time have been barefoot runners?). Vibram Five Fingers shoes are essentially a thin rubber sole glued to a foot-glove. They provide a little protection from gravel, thorns and broken glass while allowing your feet to move naturally and interact with the ground almost as though they were bare. Using these shoes has forced me to change much about my running posture and stride and consequently I'm already finding that I can run longer, at colder temperatures (temperatures that would previously have triggered an asthma attack), and without ANY knee pain afterward. I'm thrilled... and have even been vaguely scheming with Kate on the possibility of training for a marathon.
Elion is my nephew. He is going on three years old and is a really terrific kid. Lately he has gotten into "cooking," so for xmas this year he was given a toy kitchen of his own, complete with toy food, knives, electric mixers, and chef apparel. I am really hoping that this culinary passion will persist. We've got plenty of good cooks in the family, but no real professional chefs. We've got doctors, dentists, artists, musicians, actors, producers, and plenty of engineers... but no chefs. Elion, it's up to you!
...fed me the most amazing meal I've ever had. At the conclusion of the meal I was ready to die. A sensual experience so intense that I couldn't think straight for two days. No more details. Go eat there yourself.
...will be Elion's sister in about four months. I'm very much looking forward to meeting her... and finding out her middle name.
There are, of course, many other events and encounters from the past year about which I could write in excess, but if I do, it will be by accident, or as they relate to other topics.