Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Goodbye Dad

My father died yesterday (1/14/17). Sixty three is too soon. You hear it said often, that nothing can prepare you. I think it's a fair assessment, even for a person with failing health and an overall diminishing quality of life. Dad was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease about four months ago. He had been through multiple surgeries over the past few years to take care of his back, knee, and shoulder. He fought for lucidity so hard that most couldn't see his struggle. I think his personality helped him hide it. He was in a considerable amount of pain, despite the operations and medications, but he wouldn't hesitate to jump up to help, to participate, or to just show you he cared, even through all the pain. He was the last person to think of himself or ever put himself first. We all knew he hurt, but he refused to let it stop him from loving and serving. He was a broken man, and yet one of the most whole people I will ever know.

I can't remember a time when he wasn't serving. People; serving and loving them was his life. He had every reason to turn inward, but he never did. And it can't have been easy. He grew up in a small town, with alcoholic parents who struggled to show love. As is common with those situations, he followed suit at a young age, drinking, living without bounds, delving into drugs and living a life that matched.

Then he met Mom. They dated, married, and even partied together for about five years. Once children came my mother began to see how much her little family needed stability, and divine help. She started going back to church, and Dad kept on a rocky downward path. One day Mom caught me taking a small baggy of cocaine off of a windowsill, being the curious toddler I was. It was the straw that broke the camels back, so to speak. She realized that things were too dangerous to keep children in that kind of environment and began to make plans. She opened up a new bank account, went back to school to refresh her nursing skills, and prepared to move in with her mother. Dad found her journal and learned what she had been planning.

He loved her. He truly loved her. Not that shallow, if things are difficult I'm out kind of love, but that messy, I'm not going anywhere, no matter what kind of love. And she loved him back. It's the kind of love this world could use more of. He loved her, more than anything in this world. How do I know? It's simple really, he changed.

I can still remember attending N.A. meetings with him, and spending time at the Friendship Club that he volunteered at to support others dealing with drug addictions. The alcohol and drugs were the first to go, then the smoking, and eventually even the coffee. The anger and temper took longer, but eventually even they went. The fear and resentment I had as a child has given way to forgiveness, respect, and even admiration as an adult.

Age has a habit of stripping away our pride, and refining our perceptions of what truly matters in life. I have felt the process in my own life, and recognize its refining effect in my elders. I thank Heavenly Father that I lived to witness my father treating my children with the very love and tenderness that he missed showing to his own children. There is healing in that, in heart and mind, for both my father and his children.

My father's life reminds me of the movie "Big Fish." If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend taking the time. Dad never really met a mermaid, giant, or worked with a circus, but the sentiment is somehow very reminiscent of my father. Much of the movie the son is trying to comprehend his father's life, and what it really meant, and in the end has to let his father go, being left to decide whether or not to believe his father's stories. The movie ends with the son symbolically letting go of the negative judgement he had toward his father, and accepting him for what he was, a dreamer doing his best with what he had, who was able to accomplish amazing things with his vision. My own father always dreamed bigger than life, and he was so concerned about others having meaningful experiences and creating lasting memories, that it was hard to see the man behind it all. I think that's how he wanted it though, all about others. It was he who taught me that some of the best experiences and moments of life are created, not just happened upon. I don't think most people who enjoyed the things he organized realized the attention to detail and the amount of work that went into the orchestration, and that's how he wanted it, all about the experience.

My dad taught me to serve, to repent, to create, to serve some more, even when it was hard, and most importantly, to love with a love more fierce than death or addiction. All the difficulty and sorrows of the past are swallowed up in the goodness of his life, and his lasting legacy.

Like a big and magnificent fish... I had to let him go too.

But don't think the tone of those words is hopeless or even really sad at its core. I know because of Jesus Christ I'll get to be with him again, but next time it will be without the limitations of mortality, and I have no doubt it will be such a happy reunion that the weak words we use now could not ever truly describe it.  Till then Dad, keep on the lookout for some good water, and keep the rods rigged up. In the meantime, know I love you.

For those interested in reading the obituary: In Loving Memory of William Theadore "Ted" Cutler

Saturday, January 7, 2017

DIY Automatic Hook Setter (JawJacker) 2.0

Simplicity is a wonderful thing. I like simple flies, simple techniques, and simple gear. The more simple a thing is, the less time and focus it requires, which allows more time for actual fishing.

A little while back I thought up a simpler way of creating an automatic ice fishing hook setter. I liked the previous version, but it was a bit of a pain to put together with all the wire bending. I have been fishing this newer version lately, and it works great, so, I decided to put together a tutorial on how I put one together. This time I made a video, instead of taking pictures. It is long, so skip past the parts you grasp. You can even skip to the very end, just to see how it works.

So why go through all this, instead of making one of those simpler designs that has a wire hooking into the eye of the fishing pole? Well, sensitivity. This setup can be made far more sensitive to bites, requiring the fish to pull less before it goes off. This means a fish is less likely to swallow the hook, and when they bite lighter, they can still be caught. This setup also keeps the wire away from your line, and not able to mess up your rod tip.

-PVC Pipe: 1 1/4" (or bigger) schedule 40 pvc pipe (cut to roughly 31" section, or longer depending on what rods you plan on using with it)
-Fiberglass surveying stake (or any other sturdy material that could be used as supports, such as wooden dowels)
-Wire Hanger
-Empty Deodorant Container
-Thick Rubber Band
-Spiral Rod Holder
-Duct Tape
-20lb+ mono
-Plastic Beads for spacers (optional)

-Dremel, with cutting bit (to cut PVC and Deodorant Container)
-Wire Cutter, or pliers with wire cutter
-Needle-nose Pliers
-Chop Saw (or some other saw to cut the Survey Stake)
-7/16 or 1/2" drill bit
-Drill bit to match Survey Stake size
-Drill bit to match Wire Hanger size
-Super glue
-Sharpie (Permanent Marker)
-Safety Glasses
-Straight Edge

These materials and tools are not a set-in-stone list. Many could be substituted, but this is what I had access to.  I'm sure there are better ideas, so please feel free to share any in the comments.

Here are some closeup shots and additional tips with the different parts.

If you set it off a couple times to check how well it works, make sure to look at your line to make sure the deodorant plastic line catch does not have burrs that are scraping it. If you have already sanded the line catch part, and it is still hurting your line, you can always put a couple layers of nail polish on it to smooth things out.

If you don't want to mess with the clip, or worry about the extra elevation, you can cut the rod holder shorter, and only drill the top hole in the PVC.

If you find that your setup falls over when going off, you can re-drill the support post holes at less of an angle. This will bring the whole setup closer to the ice, and more stable when it goes off.

Also, other materials could be used for the support stakes, such as wooden dowels. I like the strength and durability of the fiberglass myself.

If you find finish the project, and find that your rod holder holes are at a different angle than your trigger system, or you need additional rod holder holes to match a larger rod, you can simply cut the PVC in the middle, and place a simple PVC coupler in the middle. They are often less than a dollar at the hardware store. This allows you to change out the back rod holding section. It also allows you the freedom to adjust the angle of the rod holder. When I do this, I do not glue anything together. Simply press the PVC together firmly.

Thanks for having a look, and let me know how it works out for you if you make one!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Video Killed The Radio Star... and a video worth watching

I recognize that the tone of my posts as of late have been heavy. I do not apologize. This blog is all about the journey of an angler trying to find balance, while enjoying the passion of fishing. It's not all cupcakes and rainbows. And, for those who take the time to read, I hope you get something for your time.

I recently stumbled on a video by a gentleman named Simon Sinek. He's one of those guys who has keen insight on how things work, and what is going on in our society, in relation to people. I have watched the video a few times now, and have really come to feel that what he has to say is at the root of our social media woes concerning fly fishing. 

I highly recommend that you take the time to listen to what Simon has to say, and think about how it relates to you, to those you socialize with, and the big picture. I see connections, but I wonder if other people will.