Thursday, October 30, 2008

Football and Fishing

My husband, Seth and I have a few running jokes when it comes to football. He actually likes to watch the games... I just like to listen to all the cliches the players, coaches and sports announcers say in their interviews. It's always "we gotta take it one day at a time" and "you gotta give em a lot of credit," etc. It makes me laugh every time.

Seth and I just finished taking a fly fishing class that centered on nymphing. My limited experience in fly fishing up to that point involved only dry flies and I'd found it to be very enjoyable. I was sure after taking the class that I would be the most amazing fly fisher in the world. Or, at least the best woman fly fisher and thus end up getting my own television show, fancy equipment, and a lifetime of all-expense paid fishing trips around the world. Then I'd design my own line of high-end fly fishing gear for women and watch the profits and acclamations roll in. Unrealistic? Nah.

The last part of the class was a field trip up on the Weber River in Utah to practice everything that Navi, our instructor had taught us. The actual field trip wasn't until Saturday, so Seth and I decided to go practice at the designated fishing spot before we went with the class. On Wednesday evening when I got home from work, we drove up Weber Canyon to the Devil's Slide area to fish. Seth had actually driven up to Devil's Slide on Monday to check out the spot and was raving all week about the hoards of Whitefish and Browns he'd seen. When I first got out of the car and looked over the railing down at the deep green holes of clear swirling water, I knew we were going to catch a million fish.

Now as a background, I rarely ever get skunked, especially on rivers. However, I had fished the Weber River several times before and had always been skunked. Not even so much as a nibble. The Weber had become my nemesis, and tonight I was going to conquer it. I was going to make it beg for mercy. The main difference with dry fly fishing and nymphing is a couple split shot weights on the line. You've got to get that bug to the bottom of the river so the lazy fish sitting down there will eat it. I had never tried casting with weights on my line, so needless to say my first few casts were pretty ugly. Instead of the usual smooth, tight loops and straight graceful layout onto the water, the end of my line flew into the river with a haphazard spinning dive. Seth was nice enough to give me some tips though, so after his instruction my cast improved significantly.

Navi had instilled the belief in us that we'd be getting bites on every cast. Every twitch or movement of the strike indicator was a fish, not a snag. I had never used a strike indicator so was not quite sure what a real bite would look like. So, following directions from Navi, I set the hook every time I saw the strike indicator move. I don't know how many times I 'set the hook', but I can tell you that it was never a fish. Seth and I became more and more discouraged as the evening wore on. We kept our distance from each other and silently fumed with agitation. We could see several fish swimming around that would periodically jump, just to taunt us.

Towards the end of the night I set the hook once again and felt resistance. I was sure I had yet another snag. To my surprise my line began moving around and I realized it was a fish! I yelled to Seth that I'd caught one just as the fish jumped off my hook. I never got a good look at it and I didn't get it close enough to even see which one of my flies it'd taken. We ended the trip with my one bite and Seth getting skunked. Before this trip we had done pretty well on all of our fishing excursions. Now, we couldn't catch a fish to save our lives.

On the way home that night we reflected on our experience. Because we had gotten all riled up thinking we'd be catching fish on every cast, we hadn't enjoyed fishing like we normally did. Instead of screening the river for bugs first and catering to the fish like usual, we had fixated ourselves on the idea that nymphing was the way to go and nothing would work better. We realized how inflexible we'd been... thinking that we were already all-knowing professional fly fishers.

Just like anything you practice doing, you're going to have your good days and your bad days. Greatness doesn't come easy; it takes a lot of hard work, patience and perseverance. You gotta take it one day at a time and always remember... to give 'em a lot of credit.

Not to Toot My Own Horn or Anything...

Look, I'm famous!

Field and Stream

They pretty much accept anybody who submits a picture, but I'm still on there, right?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Call Us Crazy...

The other day one of my co-workers was talking about how fun running is and got me to thinking that maybe I should try it... again. I've tried running a few times in the past, but never stuck with it very long. I figured that somehow running is harder for me than everyone else and that my body just isn't designed for it. I always forget about this though and whenever I hear someone talk about running, my brain tricks me into trying it again.

When I got home that night I talked to Seth about maybe starting to run again. We've been wanting to get into better shape lately, but somehow have lacked the motivation (wierd, I know). He said that he would like to try running too and suggested that we sign up for a 5k race so that we'd be forced to train for it or die. For those of you who don't know, a 5k is about 3.1 miles. I'd be lucky at this point to be able to run 1/4 mile.

The race we signed up for is the Brigham City "Snowman Shuffle" on Saturday, December 6th. It is exactly 8 weeks from the time we decided to try running. Oddly enough, 8 weeks is the amount of time they say it takes to train for a 5k, so hopefully that's true. I'm a little skeptical.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A New Addition

Well, Seth and I have been talking recently about adding to the family. I kind of pushed back a little bit, not really feeling ready for that big step... all the responsibility, the extra cost, and the long commitment. But today as we were screening for bug samples on the Weber River, we realized that we had to add the next member of the Hanson family.

At our first stop on the Weber just a minute or so after we got out of the car, I kept hearing a noise and couldn't tell what it was. It sounded a bit like a radio or something at first, but it was so faint and sporatic, I wasn't sure. Finally I heard the sound loud enough to see where it was coming from. There was an old truck next to where we'd parked and underneath was a little black cat, meowing like crazy.

The cat immediately came over to us and repeatedly tried to jump into the back of the car. We could by looking at her she was hungry, she was very skinny. She just kept looking at us with her big green eyes and meowing non-stop. She looked so happy to see us.

We tried to suppress her cries at first by catching a sculpin for her to eat. She was very grateful and inhaled it without thinking twice. However, she continued with her vocalizations. We unsuccessfully tried to catch more sculpin but to no avail. She sat on the bank of the river and cried and cried.

After a while she went into the thick brush and the meowing stopped. Seth and I continued to collect our bug samples (used for fly tying by the way), and both continued to silently wonder where the little cat had gone.

When time came for us to leave, Seth asked me if I would want to take the cat home. I knew he'd wanted a cat and I felt so sorry for the starving little thing. She had clearly been around people and seemed to be well mannered. I didn't have the heart to say no and leave it there, so we decided to go find the cat and bring her with us.

We called and called and didn't hear anything. Finally I heard the meowing again and went back down to the river to find it. There in the thicket of bushes was the cat. I lured her to the edge of a branch and then lifted her off into my arms. She panicked a bit at first because of the water, but we both made it back to the bank without getting too wet. Seth bundled her up in a little blanket and we drove her home.

I went to the pet store to get some food and supplies while Seth stayed back and fed her a can of tuna. When I got back she was still crying so we gave her a small pouch of wet cat food. She inhaled it and continued to cry. We didn't want her to eat too fast and throw everything up, so we waited a while and fed her a bit more dry cat food.

Seth and I were both surprised at how beautiful she was. Aside from a burr or two that was stuck in her tail, she was pretty clean and had nice fur. No fleas or wierd skin problems and besides being extremely skinny, looked healthy. We found that she had been declawed so we're hoping she's already been spayed as well. Best of all, she's litter box trained. Yeah! I think somebody dumped her there by the river for one reason or another. She didn't have much chance of survival, especially without claws.

Seth came up with a name for her after reading a chapter in a book he's reading about "grace." The definition of grace is "Free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God." That cat is probably only alive because of the grace of God. So, we decided to name her Gracie.

On the night of her first day here, Gracie is still crying a lot. We're not sure if she's just traumatized, ill, or really starved for attention. Hopefully after we take her to the vet we'll find out. At least now she's not starving for food. We are pretty attached to her already and are glad to have her in our little family.