Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last call.


Somehow, 2008 is mere hours from being over.

Things have been at Holiday Speed as of late, and we are close to runnin' out of steam. One more night of hoopla, then we can settle in on the couch tomorrow and watch the boys play hockey at Wrigley field. We hope to have a normal weekend, but things are gonna start happenin' pretty fast around here in the new year.

2009 is shaping up to be a good one, but more on that later. Right now, we're gonna reminisce a little with a few of our favorite images from '08.





























See ya next year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lazy Sunday, revisited.

We threw away all the numbers above 10 for the thermometer, and it seems as if things aren't ever going to thaw out around here.

Best thing to do is hunker down in the nest, and try to consume as many calories as possible to offset the cost of the heating bill.

This morning we indulged in a Neil Creek Estate ritual, the making of the Big Ass Pancake. Once every few weeks, we whip up an old fashioned "pan-cake" - yes, just ONE - with all the bells and whistles. Sour cream and bacon mixed into the batter, butter in the pan, butter on the topside for good crispy edges after you flip, a little syrup in the pan to make that nice, crunchy crust...Makes for a good morning of sittin' around with the Wife, sharin' coffee and a humongous slab of pan-fried flour and eggs.

Today, we went a little further in pushing the engineering of Big Ass Pancake construction. Unable to find the sour cream, we decided to get our smooth on with a few hunks of chèvre. The results were overshadowed by the fact that, without the sour cream, the Big Ass Pancake lacked the acid balance and moistness needed to showcase the cheese.

Lest you think us foodsnobs, we'll be the first to admit that it was still pretty damn good...then again, anything with bacon and goat cheese is, by definition, good.

The Big Ass Pancake


Close-up on Cheesy Bacon Goodness.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is it STILL Winter?

Freshwater freezes at 32° Fahrenheit.

It has been awhile since the local weatherman has uttered any temperature with a "thirty" in it, and it appears that things are not destined to change in the near future.

Frozen water presents a challenge to the angler...we don't drink brandy, so we ain't gonna take up icefishing anytime soon.

We could stand at the boat-dock and practice our newfound ninja-like Scandi skills, but somethin' tells us that we would be flickin' ice out of the guides after two or three throws. Plus, castin' in 10° weather, with no fly, on a boat ramp - kinda marks a fella as a little bit...different.

We have been putting off the commitment to the vise as of late, but the procrastination is wearing thin. Lately we have been looking for "just the right [insert material here]", but who are we foolin? It's not like we can chase down a herd of Guineafowl and hand-select the best of the best...we just have to make do with what is out there, or go broke tryin' to find The Perfect...Whatever.

As previously noted, we got a new camera, and it takes some pretty spiffy pictures. Naturally, our boredom and procrastination at the vise led us to take some pics of flies, and our overdeveloped sense of critique allowed that we could probably do a damn sight better if we put our mind to it. After a little research, we came up with this abomination.


It might look goofy, but it does the job in pretty tidy fashion. Tissue paper provides the diffusion, and a $2 lamp from Sally Ann's provides most of the illumination. We're still tweakin' the setup, altering backgrounds and light angles, but we're pretty happy with the outcome for a first effort. We have v2.0 on the drawing board, but we always have a hard time finding sharks with frickin' lasers...

At any rate, some of last night's shot. Enjoy.






Sunday, December 14, 2008

Winter, revisited.

We just got a spiffy-as-hell video camera and a sweet editing suite from that nice older couple we lived with for years...Thanks Ma n Pa.


This bad larry is waterproof, appears to be durable, and doubles as a 10Mp camera...we be pretty happy about this whole deal. Now we can get down to the serious business of havin' fun filmin' our buddies whoopin' it up on the local flows.

We did a little warmup shoot of the trusty 1993 Martin D-28 in action. We recently rediscovered our guitar and, happily, our love of playing the guitar. Pickin' on the mandolin is fun, but there is something about the mellow sound of a woodstove and a good guitar that makes winter so much more bearable. What you can't see in this picture is the dog, who is bedded down right below us. When we start pickin', he ambles over and plops down right underneath the chair. We would like to think that this is some form of commentary on our playing, but in all likelihood it is the woodstove that gets him excited...at least he doesn't howl like he does when we scratch the fiddle.

At any rate, enjoy.


video

Friday, December 12, 2008

사랑과 양배추

오늘 우리는 진짜로 지루했다, 그래서 우리는 한국어를 가르치고 어떤 Kimchi를 만드는 것을 결정했다.

그것은 그것, 다만 약간 양배추, 사발 및 약간 소금 및 매운 소스를 만들기 위하여 다량을 가지고 가지 않는다.

Waaaait a minute. Y'all don't read Korean, do you?

Sorry. We forget sometimes.

At any rate, We embarked on a mission of food discovery today with the making of our first batch of Kimchi, that wonderfully salty, sour, and spicy Korean pickled cabbage.

We have started eatin' a lot more Kimchi lately, especially on our noodle breakfasts...little egg, some cilantro stems, Kimchi...and we would continue with this happy habit, except for the fact that Kimchi in AK is almost 6 bucks a pint. While we enjoys us some Kimchi, we ain't gonna fork over $24 a month just to eat asian sauerkraut in our noodles.

But as we stated before, we loves us some Kimchi, so there was only one solution...we had to make our own.

We started with a whole head of Napa Cabbage, quartered with the heart removed, then roughly chopped.


Add to that a pile of salt and let the cabbage give up its water for a few hours or so.


While you wait, mix up some rice wine vinegar, turbinado, and a healthy shot of Sambal olek.


After the cabbage has given up all the water it is gonna, squeeze the brine out then rinse a few times. Grate a little ginger and some garlic into the mix, then add a few chopped scallions. Dump in the vinegar/chile mix and stir for awhile.


After it sits for another hour or so, scoop it all into a pint jar and smash it in. Top with the remaining vinegar mix, stash it in a cool dark place for a week or two so it can ferment, and enjoy.


We'll see how this one turns out...Keep your fingers crossed and an epi pen handy.

행복한 먹기

Monday, December 8, 2008

Did we mention that it's Winter?


Lame. Not only is it going to blow like hell, it's
gonna snow 20"...Then melt on Wednesday...Then
freeze into one big slushy, muddy mess for the
weekend.

It's good to be home, but every now and then we
wish that home was in the Bahamas, or some other
warm, tropical oasis.

Then we snap out of it.


AKZ025-091500-
JUNEAU BOROUGH AND NORTHERN ADMIRALTY ISLAND-

INCLUDING...JUNEAU
1210 PM AKST MON DEC 8 2008

UPDATED

...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO 6 PM
AKST TUESDAY...

.REST OF TODAY...RAIN AND SNOW. SNOW ACCUMULATION UP TO 1 INCH.
SNOW LEVEL 1100 FEET DECREASING TO 700 FEET IN THE AFTERNOON.
HIGHS 35 TO 40...COOLING TO NEAR FREEZING NORTH OF TAKU INLET.
EAST WIND 15 MPH.
.TONIGHT...SNOW NORTH OF TAKU INLET. RAIN SOUTH. LOCALLY WINDY.
SNOW ACCUMULATION 6 TO 10 INCHES. LOWS AROUND 26 NORTH TO 34
SOUTH. EAST WIND 15 TO 25 MPH. STRONGER WINDS TO 35 MPH NEAR
INTERIOR PASSES. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 100 PERCENT.
.TUESDAY...SNOW...HEAVY AT TIMES FROM TAKU INLET NORTHWARD. RAIN
SOUTH OF TAKU INLET. SNOW ACCUMULATION 6 TO 10 INCHES. TOTAL SNOW
ACCUMULATION 12 TO 20 INCHES FROM TAKU INLET NORTHWARD. HIGHS 33
TO 40. EAST WIND 10 TO 20 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION
100 PERCENT.
.TUESDAY NIGHT...RAIN SHOWERS. BREEZY. LOWS AROUND 35. SOUTH WIND
15 TO 25 MPH. CHANCE OF SHOWERS 80 PERCENT.
.WEDNESDAY...RAIN LIKELY. HIGHS AROUND 42. SOUTH WIND 15 TO
20 MPH. CHANCE OF RAIN 70 PERCENT.
.WEDNESDAY NIGHT...RAIN LIKELY. LOWS AROUND 36.
.THURSDAY...RAIN SHOWERS LIKELY. HIGHS AROUND 36.
.THURSDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SNOW SHOWERS.
LOWS AROUND 28.
.FRIDAY AND FRIDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS AROUND 32. LOWS
AROUND 22.
.SATURDAY THROUGH SUNDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS AROUND 30. LOWS
AROUND 19.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Settlin' In

Back from the yearly obligatory peregrination to familial households...

Not that it is an ordeal, but it is still good to be home. Traveling to the outside takes a bit of work and more than a bit of coin, but we don't begrudge our families that fact. We try to make the most of our time outside, but always seems as though the meter is running. Adapting overnight to different schedules, being in "happy presentation mode" for the duration, sleeping in foreign beds... when it's time to come home, it's time to come home.

We are sad to report that no actual fishing took place during this road trip, but it is our own damn fault that it didn't. Ratbone got hung up in some work thingy that caused the original plan to be scrapped, and while the Fanz came up with a plan B, we didn't have the gear that would have made the trip fun. It's a flimsy excuse, and it was exacerbated by the post-trip fishing report we got, but we had our heart set on chasin' chrome.

We did get to hang out with (and get grumbled at by) Mike Kinney during a weekly casting session with the AATF folks. For those not familiar, Mike is a badass with the two-hander, and if you pay attention, a fella can get a lot of info on the art of casting in a very short time with him. We also got grumbled at by another hot caster, Aaron Reimer, during his weekly "spey for dummies" session. We got some good info from both fellas, and we now have a better idea on how to not look and cast like a doofus with the long twigs.

We also got to meet/BS with/drink (or jrink) with/hang out with a few fellow bloggers. We got some quality (as usual) time in with Rathbun, hatching a plan a la Ocean's Eleven to steal a picture from the lobby of a well-known bar in Seattle. It's amazing what folks will come up with after a few Rainiers, innit? We would post a picture of the meeting, but that would prolly tip off the authorities to the master plan involving a blowtorch, smoke bombs, go-go dancers with flamethrowers, and the getaway motorcycle...We've already said too much.

Wally accompanied us out for a night on the Westside, wherein we got lightly jrunk and talked about a veritable host of topics. We're pretty sure we hatched some plans too, but the recall isn't total. When we awoke the next day, we had a handful of BWTF stickers and a few odd shots on the camera.


While in TX, we met up with The Chick for tacos at Polvo's. For the folks that may not be up to speed on Mexican eatin', this ain't no Taco Bell. As some of you may have figured out, we loves us some pork done Mex, and the Flautas al pastor at this fine estblishment are enough to make an entire Mariachi band weep rasgones de la alegría.



And so RoadTrip '08 v.5 came to a close. 15 hours of travel, remember to pick up the dog, stumble in and light the pellet stove...

It's good to be home.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On The Road Again

Thank dog for free bloody marys in first class.

After a windy takeoff on a semi-turbulent flight, we are on the road again. No great plans, more of a holidaze walkabout to visit relations we ain't seen in awhile.

Tomorrow's eve we hope to have a jrink or two with Thee Originoo and Wallace, if things go right. Waiting for confirmation on the location of the nearest PBR tap, you understand.

Monday will find us on the way to a long-forgotten flow with The Fanz and Ratbone, and we hope to hold court with the fall friends for a day or two before the siren song of familial responsibilities lure us back to civilization.

Sunday finds us off to the 3rd biggest state in the union...wait, we still haven't cut AK in half yet. We will grace the Greater Austin area with our presence for a week or so, soaking up sunshine, Shiner, and BBQ. Overtures have been made to the Fly Fish Chick to show us where to find the best taco and margarita combo in town...hopefully we can make a go of it.

Newsflashes as they happen. Full disclosure when we return to the compound in a few weeks.

Happy turksgivin', folks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Almost like Christmas.

We got a package today from the Rajeff Compound.

Those kind and thoughtful fisherfolk are now in the biz of switchrods, with 4 new sizes available (we're told) shortly. Somehow, we rate enough that by phoning up J and begging for 10 minutes, we got a demo 7wt and a few lines sent our way. Beers on us at the Bellevue show, gentlemen.


At first glance, the color scheme is gonna take a while to get used to. It kinda reminds us of the Winston Vapor blank, except without the pastel overtone to the baby-poo green.


The cream wraps offset the color a little and the distinctive grip is nicely done in regular and burl cork, so at least it's got THAT going for it. After putting it together and giving it a "fly shop wiggle", we grabbed some reels, bundled up, and headed for the dock to put this twig through the paces.

First impressions with the Airflo Compact ("Skagito") 360 were not good. As we have stated many times before, we ain't the smoothest 2-hand dude around, but the rod felt a little overloaded with this line and a 120gr tip. Then again, Skagit-style isn't supposed to be the prettiest way to get things done, so maybe our expectations were a little high...ok, we admit that we were hoping Tim had actually touched this rod at some point, so maybe some of his casting awesomenality would rub off on our sweaty mitts.

No awesomnality, but with a line switch to a Beaulah 335gr Elixir tipped with a 14' 55gr polyleader, things got significantly better. The rod had more snap with the lighter weight, and it definitely unloaded much faster and smoother. We were positively giddy at the end of the session, wingin' happy 80's with very little effort and some pretty sexy loops to boot.
video

Verdict?

Pretty damn cool. We're not sure where the Echo folks are gonna price these at, but if they are under $350 they are gonna be a steal. The way they cast, you won't care if your friends laugh at your "Avorado".

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lazy November.

Inside the compound.


Tough to get motivated when it gets dark around 3PM. Hell, we aren't even on our second cup o' joe and the damn sun is going down...wait, what sun? It is foggy and snowy and rainy so there is no sun, the light just sorta fades and the night leaks in.

As winter rolls around, we find ourselves displaying the atavistic traits shared by many of the Boreal rainforest mammals. Constant foraging, conservation of energy, extra fur growth, frequent torpor and a marked gain in adipose tissue are all signs that we are getting set for winter in a manner quite befitting of the endemic fauna.

By the middle of next week we will have either successfully devolved, gone barking mad, or we will be in the transition phase to "Outside Manners" - the relearning of common social mores and manners that all Alaskans have to undergo before leaving the state. It is a new requirement, post-election, to prevent homespun dumbassery from reaching out of its particular trailerpark and reflecting badly upon the rest of us up here.

At any rate, we're blowin' this popsicle stand next week for RoadTrip 08 v5, and this one we're gonna get to fish AND eat barbecue. Not at the same time, mind you, but within close enough temporal proximity to really make the rest of the winter suck out loud.

7 days, people.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Scenes from the Bench

Now that the hubbub has died down we can get back to business.

Lately we have been voluntarily chained to the bench, weeding out the chaff and getting on with the craft.





Quite a bit of fly tying is mental. Not in the "wear your shorts on your head and fling poo" type of mental - although there are days when a fella flings all kinds of poo-associated words after repeatedly breaking delicate quills - but more of an exercise in ideation, the taking of a basic concept and stripping away all of the unfishiness about it, then building it back up with just the right touches. After mentally tying a pattern thousands of times, the cussin' and sweatin' begins as you labor to reproduce your cerebal imagery with bits of animal and bird.





Our time at the bench seems to be inversely proportional to the time spent fishing in the concurrent frame. Spring and Summer are times of hasty replication of tried-and-true patterns, just enough to make it through the week, with a few of last Winter's crazy thoughts thrown in for giggles. Fall sees less fishing and a little more reflecting on what worked and what didn't, and Winter is the time of refinement...with a little crazy on the side.



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rainy Day Cookin', episode II

The weatherman finally got one right the other day.

We got a few inches of snow here at the compound, but the freezing level quickly shot up to 1500' and the fall rains began in earnest. Confronted with a morass of icy glop everywhere and no signs of good weather on the horizon, we did what anyone would do under the circumstances.

We made a big-ass pot of chili.

Now there are folks all over the world who, upon hearing you are fixin' to make a pot of the red, will gladly offer unsolicited advice and insights into family traditions passed down over the years to make the "best" chili, and frankly, most of them aren't worth the spoon used to stir it with.

Chili is chiles, meat, beer, salt, cumin, and masa. Anything else is purely window dressing. Yes, people...even beans.

The Wife and us have been going around that last point for nigh on 14 years now. Matter of fact, we thought we were going to have to break it off early in the relationship when she confessed she liked her red with beans. We eventually got around to accepting her for her other outstanding qualities and mutually elected to keep "bean-gate" a closed topic. She made and ate her chili, we made and ate ours, and the Neil Creek Estate was all the happier for it.

Recently, though, we have rediscovered the charms of the haba negra, the lowly black bean. Excellent in most any preparation, these somehow insidiously found their way into our latest creation...much to the delight of the Wife.

We didn't die, our heads didn't explode, and we didn't develop the overwhelming urge to vote straight ticket GOP, so apparently, beans in chili are ok.

So without further ado, we give you a sparsely narrated look into a bowl of chili.

Dried pasilla chiles or chiles negros, snipped up and marinatin' in hot water...you've heard the phrase, "Add water, makes it own sauce"? You're lookin' at it.


Roasting chiles is probably the best way to skin them, and also adds a twist to the taste of most chiles. Chiles poblanos are the pepper of choice for our chili, as they have a nice combination of heat and flavor. Red bells also go in, but they don't get ground into the paste, they get chopped and added later. Smitty...these next two photos are for you.




When the pasillas are rehydrated, toss 'em in the blender with the roasted poblanos, some cumin, a little salt, and a bit of the chile liquor. Still too thin? Add beer.


Ok, so onions and bacon also go in a decent pot of red. Not all the time, but when Pig is the meat of choice, bacon makes a wonderful smoky statement that you can't get unless you cook in a grubby dutch oven over an open wood fire...which ain't a bad thing, but it messes up the kitchen somethin' fierce.


Did we mention beer? Nothin' says cheap Mexican beer like la bala de plata.


Add the paste, stir in some...yeah, some black beans...dammit. Add some chopped cilantro stems and throw in the oven for 3 hours at 350°


Put the leftovers on the porch to marry up some more, then reheat and repeat until gone.

It may get us banned from Terlingua, but it makes the Wife happy...truth is, we don't mind it so much either.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Tricks

The first local snowfall is forecast for tonight.

Not necessarily a cause for depression, but then again, we ain't jumpin' for joy.

Winter is slinking around, trying to find a crack in the armor of fall. Soon enough the snow will begin flying in earnest, and those of us fortunate enough to enjoy seasonal retirement will have to start finding new ways of amusing ourselves for the winter. We're gettin' a jump on things this year, as bad weather prevented us from one last outing on the locals. Creativity, caffeine, and boredom can be linked to many a great notion, but for now we're thinkin' small.

First order of business...


Now, if we can only come up with a spousal remote control...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Deconstruction.

Leaving a flow always brings on the same thoughts, the same inner dialogue of rational vs. obsessed...

"Awesome. That was some fun fishin'."

"Call that fishin'? Lollygaggin' around, lookin' at bugs n birds n dog knows what else?"

"Well, yeah...that's all a part of the experience, y'know?"

"Well, while we were starin' at bugs, there were fish to be played with...Dammit, we should have stayed at that one rock for a few more casts. Why didn't we, huh?"

"What about that scenery, hey? Beautiful...nothin' like it."

"Scenery? We want scenery, we'll look at the peak out the back door. We didn't come 1800 miles to stare at some freakin' SCENERY."

"Well, at least we found some fish that wanted to play."

"Dummy. If we would have changed rigs and moved down two rocks, we woulda been knee-deep in fish. Next time, listen to me."

...And on and on. Sometimes it consumes the entire trip home, often taking a day or so to work itself out. Eventually, the schizophrenic rabble fades away, and the experience seems all the more rounded for it. We have learned to accept both voices in stride, to let them get their dialogue out of the way, and to not interrupt them...sometimes the Rational picks up on amazing details, and we can always count on the Obsessed to develop some dirty technique to really catch 'em all.

Scenes from both.













Pa, hard at work.





The Last Sunset.




The Last Good Cast.