Some snapshots to catch you up on my busy summer...
I don't know about you but this summer I have felt the need to go and do as much as I can. Maybe its a side effect of dealing with COVID last year. I have been aware of the need to live and do things while I can. So, I've been pretty busy and I have had quite a bit that I have experienced in those days, weeks and months. I am going to try and do just a quick blog post to maybe catch myself up as well as you my readers.
Adventures with Fezzik!
Fezzik, my amazing river pup just turned 6 months old and I have been working to train him to accompany me on my camping and fishing outings. He is doing a stellar job at sticking close to me and sitting at my feet while I cast to runs. Only occasionally does he slip close to water for a drink or to test the water temperature. He is a great companion at night in giving me someone to talk to and share the excitement of each day. One other thing he is good for is waking me up so he can go out and pee and I can see the open sky full of unfiltered stars. He does great on our trips but is a bit more trouble at home. One thing you don't take into consideration when you get a puppy is how much damage they will do chewing up things. His potty training has been a challenge as well. He is doing okay but the days we don't have to wipe up or pick up a mess are fewer still than the days we have to. He certainly has more training to do in the socializing department. Being mostly German shepherd he acts really protective of the house and seems to think he needs to bark at every stranger he meets. I foresee more training for him in a few weeks. I have learned a lot about dogs from the training classes we took. I suspect there is a lot more to still learn.
Learning Japanese Calligraphy for Fun and Meditation
I really believe that we need to keep learning new things. We need to spread our interests in ways that enrich our lives. I had the oportunity to take a couple of Japanese calligraphy classes, on-line through the Student Arts League of Denver. The instructor, Mamiko Ikeda, was a fantastic teacher. I learned a lot about brush strokes, the order they are done in and I am excited to work in practicing calligraphy as a meditation too. Those who have purchased spools from me recently have each received one of my practice sheets as a packaging wrapper for the spool. I just had so many pages from practice that I hated to just dump them off into the recycling bin. If my skills improve I will look at posting some originals on my etsy page. I have ordered a couple of books already on kanji to continue my study and I am learning to really appreciate both the symbolism of Kanji as well as the practice it takes to brush symbols correctly and with a natural flow.
My NEW Favorite Camp Stove!
I have made many of my own versions of an alcohol camp stove in years past. Most worked pretty well. They are fairly simple to make but the effectiveness of them is sometimes less than perfect. I am doing more backpacking and camping this year and when I was surfing etsy I came across a seller "Whatsinmypack" who had a design I had not seen before. At just $12, the price was great So I made the quick decision to purchase one... Well, I was impressed with this mini alcohol stove! The design was new to me from other designs I have made and the function of it was superior to anything I have ever used before. I will let you check it out here for yourself. I used "grain alcohol" for my trips recently but you can also use 91% rubbing alcohol and get equally good results. Denatured alcohol is also a good choice. I prefer the grain alcohol because it is slightly safer in that it can be ingested. It can also be used for cleaning wounds. If you have ever purchased "Everclear" brand grain alcohol in the liquor store, you will know that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to find. I used about an ounce each time I fired up the stove and it boiled a couple cups of water at elevation pretty quickly.
Well Wishes to My Friend Daniel Galhardo.
I would like to give a very special thank you and best wishes to my friend Daniel Galhardo. Without a doubt, we in the tenkara community owe so much to him and his company. He was the pioneer who had the vision to bring tenkara to the rest of world outside of Japan. Daniel took a passion and made something amazing from it. I consider him a very good friend. Over the years, Daniel has been a wonderful teacher and has supported my work in my writing and in my spool turning. Recently he announced on social media that after 12 years he decided to sell his company, Tenkara USA, to a new owner and will be moving on to do other things. I must admit that I felt a little gutted and beside myself at the news. There was a rush of mixed emotions. I am foremost happy for Daniel starting a new chapter in his life. I am saddened a little reminiscing about the experiences, events and community surrounding Tenkara USA. It was an honor to write both for the Tenkara Magazine as well as a an article or two for the Tenkara USA Blog. I think Daniel has accomplished all he set out to do and now will have the time to enjoy a new adventure ahead. Good luck Daniel and I hope that we cross paths again soon on a stream or off.
South Dakota Here I Come!
I feel a little rushed to complete this post so that it doesn't fall by the wayside in my busy summer. This Sunday we travel to Custer, South Dakota and I will be fishing one of my most favorite streams, French Creek in Custer State Park. It has been a few years away from those waters. I expect I will be documenting the trip a bit while I am there. It is always a great trip with my family and there is certainly a lot to do when you aren't fishing too. In the past we have camped out and stayed at simple cabins. This year we are hitting the Airbnb's for our lodgings. One for sure stop will be the "pie shop" in Custer. (If you know, you know and if you don't you had better find out.) Look for a future post and trip report in mid to late August.
Okay then! I will close out here with this classic quote from Ferris Beuller.
"Life moves pretty fast.
If you don't stop and look around once in a while,
...you could miss it."
Dennis Vander Houwen lives in Colorado with his patient and supportive wife, talented artist son, a smart older dog, a new river puppy, and a very lucky cat.