Saturday, March 5, 2011

Montana Fly Fishing

So I just bought a new camera.  Now the trick is figuring out how not to look like a total douche while using it.

I have a real love/hate relationship with this blog.  Blogging seems to be turning into an increasingly feminine pursuit and that concerns me.  Not to mention that about half of the posts that I start turn into gibberish and never get finished.  But the fact is that I love writing and have since I was a small child.  And while my normal topics involve things that I think are funny or interesting, sometimes I just feel like writing about something that is truly important to me.  So in a break from the normal format of MOBIYM, I want to write a bit about possibly the only thing I am truly passionate about.  If you are looking for laughs, it may be time to stop reading.

Those that know me well have likely grown tired of my constant expressions of love for my home state of Montana.  I talk about it way too much, so much so that I probably come off pretentious.  Is Montana the best place in the country?  In the world?  Well to me it is.  That's not to say that everyone should feel the same way, because they shouldn't.  For many people, most people, Montana is not an ideal place, and that is a big part of what makes it so great.  I do not think Montana is better than other places (except Colorado) but I do think that it is better for me, and regardless of where I live, it always will be.



Now, it is difficult to really determine why I have fallen so deeply in love with a place that can at times be very hostile and unlovable.   Montana is a very beautiful state, but so are many others.  The answer is very subtle and is something that I discovered while fly fishing.  Fly fishing has taught me that Montana is a place where wilderness can still be found, and a place where that wilderness is still appreciated and valued.  For me, wild forests and water have a way of masking your worries, and they can bring a clarity that I have a hard time finding anywhere else.  Some of the biggest rewards I have ever gotten have been through a relationship with nature that I strengthened while fishing a wild Montana.

Fishing is not just a hobby for me, it is a release and often even a spiritual pursuit; it is a gentle reminder that there are still primitive things in the world and those things are not to be ignored, but benefited from.  And I'm not just speaking about trout and animals, but also the water, the insects, the trees and the intoxicatingly fresh Montana forest air.  At times fishing or even just exploring Montana is a way to relax and enjoy time with people that I care about.  However, when I take the trip alone or with someone that has a similar passion for wild things, it becomes a much more therapeutic experience.

I don't wear waders or bulky gear when I fish, and aside from the fact that they look a bit goofy, I never really understood why I didn't like them, until recently when my younger brother brought it up and made me think about it.  The waders keep you from really being in the water and they keep you from feeling the touch and push of the river.  I know that sounds cheesy, but it is completely true, and it illustrates why fishing has become so important to me, and to my brothers for that matter.  Because it is constant, unflinching and unpredictable all at the same time.



I love catching trout, it is exciting, and I also happen to think that next to women,  trout are just about the most beautiful things ever created.  But catching fish is not always my main reason for fishing, my reason is generally to leave something in the river and forests, and to come away better.  In a way, fishing is sometimes like a type of personal sacrament for me, and that is what makes it very sacred and sustaining.  It is a way to stay connected to the natural part of my life, a part of my 27 year existence that has become increasingly important to me in recent years.

For a few years I dated and fell in love with a girl that added a lot of complication to my relatively peaceful life.  In fact, for a while, our relationship completely ruined it.  But I loved her in spite of our problems for a few reasons, some of them more noble than others.  Unfortunately, a main reason for loving this girl was because she practically completely understood my passion for Montana, the river and fishing.  Almost more so than anyone I have met to this day.  I recognized this understanding when she wrote me a note, a note that out of dozens was the only one I kept.  I kept it not as a token of my old feelings, but because she effectively said what I had always struggled to make sense of.  She perfectly analyzed my relationship with my favorite creek when she said:  You can so easily bring your stress and the confusion of the world to the woods and wash it away in the river.  During those times you are so distant from everything.  

 Now that may sound like an incredibly selfish reason for me to care about a person and it probably was, but it was strangely comforting that she understood my reasons for fishing, and in some ways it allowed me a way to express my passion for my water and my forest even when I was hundreds of miles away.  Needless to say, this was a relationship that was built on a pretty poor foundation, and a "marriage" relationship is obviously made of something much more substantial than one shared understanding, regardless of how important it is.  When you feel the same way about a river as you do a woman, things are not going to end well.  But at the same time, that may be one of the highest compliments that I could ever give this particular girl.

I bring all of this up because it correctly demonstrates the most important and sometimes dangerous reason for my love of Montana and fly fishing.  Because when I am driving through Rock Creek canyon, or when I am walking through the waist high grass to the Bitterroot, when I am lost in the comfortable rhythm of my cast, or when I am bringing a trout to briefly have a pretty horrible experience, I am also bringing something very wild to the surface,  I am forgetting the complications and the things that do not matter and remembering the things that do.  It is important for me because it has helped me cope with just about any problem I have ever faced in my "adult" life.  It  is dangerous because it has become something that I rely on.  Fly fishing for me is a way to learn from the wilderness rather than conquer it.  It is a personal way to know God through some of his most impressive creations.

Monday, January 17, 2011

PIne Pants, a Gentlemanly Pursuit

This picture is incredibly intriguing.


How did this dinosaur get there?  What is he doing in the house?  Is he napping?  I like to think that the most likely situation is that the dinosaur snuck inside, quickly ate the residents, and just got a little tired after his meal and decided to take a nap upstairs.   But who knows if that is the story that goes with this picture.  All I know is that I like it.

Throughout the history of the world, mankind has participated in different competitive events.  Some of these events and sports slowly gained more and more prestige and were considered to be the pursuits of the refined and sophisticated.  Polo, Tennis, Golf, Fox-Hunting, Pistol Dueling, Fencing and others are commonly regarded as some of the more civilized athletic contests.  Today, I wish to submit an addition to this list: Pine Pants

Pine pants is a game that was invented by my younger brother Jeffrey and my cousin Brent.  It is a two person game and it is genius.  The rules of the game are as follows:
First, each competitor picks about six ponderosa pine cones.  Ponderosa cones are used because of their density and specifically because of the sharp spines that are found on the outsides of the rather large cones.
Brutal Cones

Participants are encouraged to search for the pine cones that are heaviest and sharpest, as it will pay dividends throughout the competition.  Once the cones have been gathered, each competitor will put on the official uniform of the game which consists of a pair of basketball shorts and several rubber bands.  The rubber bands will then be placed around the leg openings of the shorts while the gentleman is wearing them, effectively sealing the shorts.  The shirt is removed, and gameplay begins.

The player on the defense will pull the waist of their shorts out, stretching the elastic and creating a basket area.  Then, the other contender will carefully choose from their pine cones and lob their chosen cone through the air with the intent of landing it in the shorts of the other participant where it will be stopped from falling out by the previously mentioned rubber bands.  The goal of the game is to land the highest number of cones in the pants of the other competitor, potentially harming their genitals in the process.  At times, a gentleman will hurl the pine cone with great force at the chest of the other individual in order to cut them and throw off their concentration.  Once all cones have been landed, a penalty is carried out by the person who has the highest number of pine cones residing in their shorts.

This penalty can be excruciatingly painful for the gentleman who has the misfortune of losing.  Common penalties include a number of consecutive summersaults, jumps or rolls with a cluster of pine cones still held tight to your nether-regions.  Men are separated from boys during these grueling penalties.

                                                                
                                                             A Game In Progress

Pine Pants has become an honorable tradition around the Larson home, one that is held in the highest esteem.   Champions are praised and adored while the loser is scorned.  Should you choose to play at home, please do your best to maintain the noble spirit and dignified tradition of the game.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Poverty, Part 2

Sorry Mom.
I sell photos in our local farmer's market.  Most of the booths have some sort of tent or large umbrella to help shade the vendors, mine does not.  So the other day my mom comes in with the good news that she had salvaged an umbrella from the neighbor's. . . trash.  I was excited until a 20 second inspection revealed that this umbrella was completely destroyed.  Almost every fiberglass rod was shattered and seconds into my inspection, I had shards of fiberglass in my fingers.  When I told my mom that it was no good, she replied that I should just fix it because "new ones are $20 at Costco."   I  gently reminded my mom that we were no longer poor and could afford a 20 dollar umbrella. which reignited the whole debate once again.

Before presenting further evidence, I do feel it necessary to once again reiterate that I had a fantastic childhood.  If I can give my kids half of the experiences that I had as a kid, I know they will be ok.  My family no longer is poor, but we were poor growing up.  Or maybe we had money and did not spend any of it.  I have complied some more evidence to help me in the debate.  Click on the pictures for larger versions.

Holidays:

This is something that we have already covered a bit in Poverty Part 1, but a halloween is a time for the poor to really shine.  Now, my mom argues that we decided on these costumes on our own, but the pure fact is that kids are stupid.  We wanted nice expensive costumes but forgot about it when it came to deciding.  This is all because of the way we were asked:  "Wes, do you want a HOMEMADE COSTUME!!!!   Or that dinosaur one in the store?"  I have always been easily talked into things, and the proper emphasis on a certain sentence could make us dress up in just about anything.  And here is the proof:

I guess I should have considered myself lucky, because we hit a new low this year:


            No little boy wants to be a witch for halloween


Here is a nice example.  My guess is that Cyrus is a ninja turtle.  My other guess is that is magic marker on his face.  My other guess is that his costume cost approximately 3 dollars to construct.



Thats 3 dollars more than this skeleton costume costs.  Why you may ask?  Because that costume was actually an old halloween wall decoration that got stapled to my shirt.  Recycling, completely free.  Lets not forget the infamous cat costume.



Halloween is not the only holiday that really brings the poverty out in people.   Here is another glaring proof of our financial troubles.


                Decorating the Christmas "Plant"

My parents saved the ten bucks they would have spent on a tree by just turning our dining room plant into one.  Truly prosperous times for the Larson family.


Family Trips:

Rich people go on nice trips and take their kids.  My parents could afford a trip to Hawaii.  They could not afford to take us.  Here is a little gem of a letter that I wrote mom and dad while they were in Hawaii.


It should be noted that in later years they took my childhood advice and went to Australia as well, once again without their children.

Haircuts:

My father is no artist.  Nor does he excel at cutting hair.  What he does excel at is giving bowl cuts, and that is because they are the cheapest and easiest haircut to perform.  When I was five, I wanted a rat-tail haircut but did not get one.  You know you are poor when you cannot even afford a white trash haircut.  Here are some classic shots that illustrate our fine hairstyles.


                                                        
               My mom really should have hid this one better


Hard Labor:


Almost every kid has chores.  Poor kids have jobs.  We started mowing the lawn from the time we were eight.  Jeff started practicing even earlier.   They bought him a lawnmower toy?!  That is like purchasing a toy sewing machine for an infant in malaysia.  It is trickery.


 "Those fields are not going to till themselves boys, now put on your diapers and get to work"

Treats:

About once a month growing up we would go out to eat, generally on my Grandma's dime.  Where did we go every single time?  The Sizzler.  The Sizzler is an amazing place to a poor child.  "Wait, so your telling me I get to have chicken nuggets, nachos, pizza AND ice cream?!  This place is unreal!"  But the general excitement over endless food is not what proves our poverty.  The icing on this cake is what Cyrus and I would do after eating our meal.  After finishing our food and ice cream, we would carefully stuff as many gummi bears as possible into a napkin, sometimes several napkins, and stash them away in our pockets.  We would then save these bears for weeks, carefully savoring each one.  If that is not the act of a desperate poor child, I do not know what is.  Candy in our house consisted of chocolate chips and lemon drops, and both of these treats were strictly rationed.  My mom once made a decorative ghost out of fabric and a sugar paste...I used to lick that thing like it was an effing lollipop.


    The ghost in question.  No doubt damp from my determined slobber 

Technology:

The greater part of my life, we owned a nintendo 8 bit system.  When other friends naturally upgraded to the super nintendo, sega, nintendo 64 and so on.  We stayed resolute with our original nintendo.  When begged to purchase a new system, the answer always was "Why would we buy another nintendo?  We already bought one."  If this has ever been your answer to your kids, you may or may not be poor.

  There is the nintendo proudly displayed in the back.  Jeff is most likely begging for food here.

This next picture does nothing to prove our poverty.  But it is strangely terrifying.

                                                    
                                      AHHHHHHH!
              
Well, for now I have exhausted my resources as far as the debate goes.  Although I am certain that further evidence will surface in the future.  For the record, I would once again like to say that I had the best childhood... but we were poor, mom.


P.S. When discussing our poverty recently with my mom, I brought up the fact that we lived in a trailer.  To which she replied "a really nice trailer".

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Famous Mustaches

 For the last month or more, I have been cultivating my mustache and I have been real pleased with the results.  This is not the first time that I have embarked on such a journey and it shall not be the last.  My mustache has cost me some friends and it has won me some as well.  Growing a mustache has some amazing advantages . .  . it warms your lips, it retains water, it tickles face when you kiss someone and it tastes like whatever you ate that day.  These reasons among others show why many great men, and a few women have decided to devote their lives and their careers to their mustaches.  Lets take a minute and look at some of the more famous mustaches that have ever existed.  See if you can guess the mustache, the first couple will be easy and then they are going to get a bit harder.






Could you guess them?  Well here are the answers in order and you can click on the names for the full picture.  Starting at the top from the left:  
Hulk Hogan: Successful wrestler, most of his opponents were intimidated by his impressive handlebar.
Ghandi:  Skinny Indian pacifist, full handsome mustache.
Mr. Miyagi:  Taught Daniel-Son the sacred art of Karate, the mustache did most of the teaching.  
Ringo Starr:  Drummer for some band, sporting the "sad" mustache. 
Burt Reynolds:  Wore the lifelong mustache, which is highly commendable.
John Waters:  Pencil mustache, gayest mustache ever.
Yanni:  International superstar, his mustache smells like gyros.  
Brad Pitt:  Me and Brad grow the same mustache.  

Here is me with mine:



As you can see, my mustache lacks the girthy fullness of many of these famous mustaches.  This problem has brought me and my mustache to a critical turning point.  Do I commit to my mustache and continue to let him grow unfettered?  Or do I bid farewell and shave him into oblivion?  I am leaving it up to you, faithful blog readers.  If I get ten comments either way (shave or cultivate)  I will abide by your wishes.  Feel free to weigh in.  I would also like to ask the boarding school of girls that seems to read my blog to take a class vote.  Preferably with your heads down so you cannot see what your classmates are voting.    

Friday, April 3, 2009

Poverty

Two days, two posts... new record for me. Yesterday and today were the first days in a while that I have had any time so I am giving you faithful readers a double dip.


I recently had a little debate with my dear mother about my family's financial situation while I was growing up. I had brought up the fact that we lived like poor folk and she vehemently argued that we were not poor. I agreed that we were in no way living in the depths of extreme poverty but that we did do a lot of things that are common for poor people to do. I had the best childhood ever. I literally spent everyday outside exploring the ponds and rivers and wild Montana forests, so please do not think I am complaining. But we were poor. To bolster my argument I have prepared some evidence that will help you the reader decide if we were poor or not.

Exhibit A: The Single Wide Trailer

Home sweet trailer

Undoubtably the single most important piece of evidence in proving our poverty. This is the "house" that I spent the good part of my first year in, my parents lived in it for several years total. For those of you who are not familiar with trailer speak, a single wide is a trailer that is 14 feet wide. It is, in essence , the poor mans trailer. You could easily fit this whole trailer in our garage.

Exhibit B: Lack of clothes and food.


Right out of Huckleberry Finn

My brother does not even have a shoe on in this picture for pete's sake. Im pretty sure he is wearing a cast but there has to be something to put on that thing. Literally everything I wore as a child was a hand-me-down from my brother Cyrus and later I even wore hand-me-ups from my little brother Jeff. I cant think of a picture that makes two kids look more like hobos. Just take a good long look at Cyrus in this picture. We ate those fish. Do you know how I know? Because they are dead and thats what you do with dead fish. Would I even think of eating a 6 inch fish at this time in my life...No. But that is what you do when you are poor, you eat anything and everything that you can get your hands on.
Our dinners usually consisted of a hamburger patty cooked on the stove with a slice of bread for a bun. On several occasions I ate grape-nuts cereal with water instead of milk. For dessert we would eat chocolate chips. If you have ever eaten a ketchup sandwich, you were poor at one point.

Exhibit C: Homemade Everything.


Seriously, gayest costume ever.

I seriously doubt that if Cyrus could have picked what he wanted to be for Halloween, he would have picked a flamboyantly homosexual cat. But that was a cheap costume. A little black paint, some fake nails, ears and Walla! You have a complex for the rest of your life. If these homemade costumes are not enough to convince you check out these little numbers that we were forced to wear...


100% homemade

How we turned out straight is beyond me. Actually I think these little outfits are pretty funny and I cant wait to make my kids wear crap like this. But did we have money to afford new clothes? No. Take a look at my dads truck if you want more proof from this picture.

Exhibit D: Improvised toys.


No, I did not love sweeping, that's my toy.

Every Poor Kid's dream toy

Nice toys are expensive, so why waste money on toys when your kid loves the dustpan? My parents were lucky to have some pretty imaginative kids because we turned everything into toys. When I was in kindergarten, my favorite thing in the world was to smash rocks against each other so I could see what they looked like inside. No Nintendo necessary here, just give me two rocks and I was ecstatic . Me and my brother used to spend hours throwing a tennis ball back and forth on the couch and we loved it. It was like friggin Christmas. Man, we were poor.

Exhibit E: This picture.

This one just speaks for itself

If that isn't the picture of slight poverty, I don't know what is. My Grandpa Cyrus was classic.

So there you have it. My mom says that we had plenty of money but that it all just went towards paying everything off. I guess those payments on the 1971 Oldsmobile were pretty intense...haha. But I don't really care because if there is one thing that I learned from my childhood it is that you don't need nice things to be extremely happy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bear Grylls is better than you


Let me tell you about something that bothers me.  Every time I watch the show "Man vs Wild" with friends, someone always has to make the comment that Bear Grylls actually stays in hotels and has people there to help him.  If you are unfamiliar with the show, Bear Grylls is this English guy that goes out into different areas of the world with his camera crew and shows us how to survive in hostile environments.  Recently though, it was discovered that sometimes while filming a show, he would stay in hotels and whatnot.  This made a lot of people mad and they claimed that he was a "fake."  Well, I was watching the show the other day and he caught and killed a rattlesnake, gutted it, and then peed in its hollow sock of a body.  A few hours later, when he was thirsty, he drank the pee from the rattlesnake tube.  He drank his own urine/rattlesnake guts...I dont care if this guy is staying the ritziest hotels and eating filet mignon for dinner, he is a bad a** and my hero.  Bear Grylls deserves the man of the year award and I am going to write him in as my vote for president.  I bet when his wife has a baby, he eats the placenta afterward and knows exactly how much protein it contains.