Saturday, April 20, 2019

Two to benefit the Miramichi's wild Atlantic Salmon

Over the past several years, I have found, finally, a way to make financial contributions to non-profits I care about (i.e., The Miramichi Salmon Association, the Atlantic Salmon Museum, the  Atlantic Salmon Association, and the Central New Brunswick Woodmen's Museum).  Yikes, they're all in Canada!  I've taught myself how to frame flies and art in various forms, and folks seem to appreciate those framings with their dollars at the various institutions' fundraisers.  The most important (read: highest priced) framings I've been able to donate were actually "co-donations" where several fine artists have donated a piece of their original work to be included in a framing.  Val Kropiwnicki, Nathan Carter, my sister Kathy Rasimas and now my friend John Maticko have all stepped up to the plate to help me raise money for wild Atlantic salmon conservation.

John and I worked together to produce a framing for the live auction at the Miramichi Salmon Association's Icebreaker fundraising dinner on April 27, 2019.  John is a serious Atlantic salmon angler.  How could he not be, growing up the son of a salmon outfitter in Iceland, where he returns each year to fish.  John has the most incredible collection of classic Atlantic salmon flies I've ever seen (you can view John's fly collection and his lovely photos of Iceland and Atlantic salmon here: .

John donated a painting of a Logie and a Blue Charm for the Icebreaker.  I tied up one each of those same flies and came up with this framing (frame is white pine, milled to shape here in my shop): (you can click on the pics for the larger version)

Rather than flood the live auction at the fundraiser with more of my shadow box framings (especially since I'm the auctioneer and that could get a little weird!), I created one specifically for that event's silent auction.  Keeping with what I just realized is a "days gone by" theme, I came up with a framing I titled, "The Good Old Days."  It features a public domain photo, taken in New Brunswick in the 1920's by photographer Louis Hamilton, of a portly sport (has to be American, right?) and his two guides with a fish on.

That photo evoked thoughts of featherwings from the past, so I tied up a few, hopefully complementing the photo.  Again, the frame is pine, molded in my shop.

Hopefully these framings will bring in a few hundred dollars to go towards MSA's good and important work. 

I need to also mention how another cooperative framing venture benefitted MSA's conservation programs.  My friend and co-MSA board member induced fly tyer Bill Utley to tie a set of Cains River Streamers for the MSA-US fundraiser in Burlington, MA, back in February.  Brad bought the set in the silent auction.  He then chatted with me a bit about how to present them as a further donation to the cause.  Long story short:  I volunteered to frame them.   And Brad said he would get an online auction software package for his website, and do the auction there (

I've never framed 13 big streamers before, so it was time to put my rather rusty and wrinkled thinking cap on.  Started out in my usual way:

Gotta love that fifty-one year old drafting set!

This framing was bigger than any I had done before, and I didn't want to hand write the fly names on the background, or use any sticky thingies for the job, so with the kind permission of the boss (she knows who she is), I waddled off to our local Staples store, and purchased an Epson WF-7710 wide format printer, which can hand sheets up to 13X19 inches as well as heavy, card stock paper (or in my case, heavy artists' watercolor paper.   I ended up with this for the background:

Frame needed to be that good old backyard Vermont Black Cherry:

Well, the final product, photographed by fellow MSA-US board member Ralph Vitale brought in $1,000 for MSA programs.   My heart felt thanks to Brad Burns, Bill Utley and Ralph Vitale for making this happen!

Well, that's enough framing for now...have to go finish two more of these for a lodge out west!


Friday, February 8, 2019

Fulsher, Krom and Warren framed.

I have been fortunate that Charlie Krom, the late Keith Fulsher as well as the late Bob Warren have gifted many a fly to me.  I've been doing quite a few shadow box frames for various salmon-related fundraisers the last couple years with my own flies in them, but decided I needed to do one for the camp Bridget and I will be building up on the Miramichi.   Enter Fulsher, Krom and Warren (you can click on the pic for a bigger photo):

When it suits the framing, I like to use a heavy, textured artist's watercolor paper to mount the flies on (that paper is then mounted on standard mat board).   It goes through my printer just fine, enabling me to add appropriate text to the this case, the tyer's names.   Some of the texture can be seen in this photo:

I used one of Joe Tomelleri's limited edition Atlantic salmon prints as the art in the framing.  Seems appropriate since the salmon was drawn from life of a salmon Joe landed on the Miramichi.  I milled the frame from a backyard cherry tree.

Looks pretty nice on a white wall...looking forward to seeing it on a knotty pine wall in our camp-to-be on the Miramichi!


Friday, November 30, 2018

Late Fall Fun in New Brunswick

An important Atlantic Salmon Museum board of directors meeting was scheduled for Monday, October 29, 2018 in Doaktown, NB.   I'm a member of that board and really wanted to attend; Bridget said, "So go!"   Who am I to quibble with her logic?

I also wanted to continue some site preparation for our camp which we started in September, so I decided to go up a few days early, and stay a few days after the Monday board meeting.  I headed up on Wednesday, October 24th.   I watch the weather for New Brunswick pretty closely, especially if I'll be traveling up there.  Long story short:  I knew the weather was going to be a little rough, but 4-wheel drive all the way from Bangor to Boiestown?  Seriously?  It was like driving in a two-track trail, except one filled with ice and sludgey water.  At the border, I told the young agent that I hoped the driving would be better in NB than it was in Maine...she laughed and said it was sure to be worse.  She was correct.

The entire front of my truck was filled with icey stuff when I got to Bullock's, who had graciously given me their guest camp to stay in during the time I was in town:

Things were kind of slushy at the Bullock homestead, too!

I think you could have surfed the Miramichi when I arrived in camp!  And these waves are heading upriver!

Renate Bullock had started a fire in the guest camp woodstove before I arrived.  That was some welcome warmth!

Thursday morning I headed the mile or so downriver to our land; still some snow on the ground, looking out towards the river:

Looking kind of chilly across the intervale to the river:

Now, our dear friend Vin Swazey, from whom we bought our land, seems to have a penchant for storing BIG piles of softwood from various sources, with the thought that when cut and split, they'd be great sources of firewood for the camps that he leases to the Bullock's.  Great concept.  With one problem:  you do, in the end, have to cut and split them and stack them under dry cover or those lovely big piles of softwood start to, shall we say, return to the earth.  Vin is a very busy boy, and these big piles of softwood seem to have eluded the wood splitter for a bit too long.  Several of these piles are on our land, and have definitely gone by.  With Vin's agreement, it was time to take care of the piles.  First step:  use the Kubota to break up the piles:

The business end of my F-150.  I'm glad I didn't have to explain this stuff to the border agent after I said I said the purpose of my visit was a Museum board meeting!

We had two splitters going!  Vin's for the smaller stuff we could lift up onto the ways, Dan Bullock's which can go vertical for some really big stuff.

Friday warmed up a bit, and the snow was gone.  Made for a nice day of woodsplitting.

Of course, in New Brunswick, if you don't like the weather, wait a'll change!  As it did by Saturday morning:

Walking to work, so to speak, these two wondered who was interrupting their breakfast!

Even flushed an eagle from its roost:

Cold or not, the cutting and splitting continued apace:

Did I mention something about changing weather in NB?  Sunday morning, early:

Sunday was pretty much a day off for Vin and I.  His daughter, Michele, was in from Fredricton, making her usual wonderful Macaroni and Cheese lunch (made, of course, with Cabot's "seriously sharp" cheddar that I bring from Vermont).  She commemorated the day with a little snowboy:

The river was way up on Monday.

We had a job to do before we could get back to the wood piles that morning; move the Central New Brunswick Woodmen's Museum's airplane from along Route 8 to its winter quarters.

This former military aircraft was used in forest fire suppression (I can't resist:  I guess that was in the days before we started raking the forest floor, like they do in Finland (according to HIM), to prevent forest fires).  A cool thing about it is its folding wings, held in place when extended by a single steel pin!  Took a little finagling to get them to come unglued after being in place all summer:

Ever the ham actor:

Wings folded and ready to be towed to the hanger by Vin and his Kubota:

All was going well on the way to the hanger until Vin swung a little wide and got mired in the mud.  Even in four-wheel, things were only heading south.

And now, for the pundits among my friends and acquaintances that enjoy deriding Ford F-150 pickups in favor of (ugh) Dodges and GM products, let me just say I'd like to see your truck pull an airplane and a good-sized tractor out of the mud!  Put 'er in four-wheel low, lock both differentials, and get 'er done, thank you very much!

Safely entering the hanger for the winter:

The rest of the day was more time with the splitters.  Renate stopped by the site for a little portrait work:

Tuesday, however, a command decision was made:  a large pile of slabwood had gone well by...the weather was good for it, so we decided to burn it.  Did I mention that Vin likes to play with matches?


The front-end loader on the Kubota came in handy for folding new wood in on the burning wood.

Wednesday, early A.M., the fire was still going, and made for an interesting sunrise photo:

I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to once again be able to call a grouse covert "home."  Most of my adult life, except here in Bennington, I have lived in the middle of a good covert,  Feels like home, especially as the sun is coming up on a frosty morning:

Thursday, Renate stopped by mid-morning with tea and crumpets (well, coffee and pastry).  I finally got to take a picture of her relaxing!

Obviously, Vin takes advantage of ALL coffee breaks:

I took a minute (well, 2.5 minutes, actually) to survey the site:

Vin had some appointments Thursday afternoon, so I spent a little time in the tractor (had to turn the heater in the cab down and I'll be darned if I could figure out how to change the station from the old timey country music Vin likes to something a little more to my taste!) - the view for the cab:

Felt good to see how much we'd done over the course of my visit...and even better to put my feet up near the fire and enjoy a lovely, made in New Brunswick, Porter.  Life is good, eh?