Monday, April 25, 2011

My Latest Fishing Story

The Catfish

Now, before you think I'm soft, you should know that I am an unapologetic carnivore. I have hunted, raised and slaughtered all types of meat animals and poultry. I always thought that there would be a lot more vegetarians if everyone had to kill their own meat. I have accused segments of the population of simply hiring murders to do their dirty work for them. In the past I have told people, “If you can't look it in the eye and watch it die you don't deserve to eat it”.

I love fried catfish, hushpuppies and potatoes more than just about any meal you can prepare. I have been known to devour several platters of this fare at one sitting. I was looking forward to a complete catfish dinner when I started for the lake yesterday.

I was fishing from a small pier that juts out into a quiet little lake near home. I caught a beautiful Channel Catfish about sixteen inches long. It's skin was smooth, cool and pale blue-gray. I hauled it onto the pier and set to work removing the hook from it's mouth. It tried to get away and looked me up and down with it's copper colored eye. I put it on a nylon stringer and lowered it into the water, then tied the stringer to the dock. It thrashed about for a while, croaked loudly a couple of times, then settled in to accept it's fate.

I fished for an hour or more without another bite. I could hear the captive fish under the dock swimming and thrashing, testing the limits of it's captivity. The lake was quiet. The only sounds were the gentle lapping of the water on the pier pilings, a few geese squabbling on a small island and the quiet struggle beneath the pier. The struggle started to weigh on me. I don't know exactly why, on this one occasion, it was bothering me. I brushed off the feeling and baited a second hook and cast it into the water. Still no bites. Not a nibble. The silence of the day was becoming heavy and loud in my brain. If I would just catch another fish or two I would be busy tending to them and baiting hooks and all the chores associated with fishing. Time seemed to drag on and on. The beautiful day was not so enjoyable anymore.

“To hell with this”, I said aloud. “Time to go home”. Disappointed and a little ashamed of myself I packed up all my gear and carried it to the truck. Then I returned for the fish.

I hauled him out of the water onto the weathered pier and looked at him. He looked up and stared directly into my eyes. His pupils narrowed in the bright sun. He didn't appear frightened or angry and wasn't begging to be released. He just stared at me. We were no longer predator and prey nor hunter and hunted. We were just two living beings searching the eyes of one another for a connection, a spark, a shared feeling, a soul.

Maybe Oscar Wilde was right when he said, “Men are like fruit. They become soft just before they rot”. “Son of a bitch”, I cursed. “Am I going soft in my old age or just soft in the head?” Maybe life is just more precious these days.

I slipped the stringer off the fish, grasped his lower jaw in my right hand and placed my left under his belly. I lifted him up even with my face and looked him square in the eye. “You are one lucky fish today. I am turning you loose. Don't think I am becoming a vegetarian and don't believe for a minute that I won't be right back here fishing for you and your friends. A word of advice; if you want to live a long life don't hang around this pier and don't grab everything that smells stinky or looks good”.
I slipped the fish back into the water. He circled and looked at me then vanished into the murky water with one powerful swish of his tail.

The day slowly seemed nice again and I whistled as I drove home. My mind was lighter and a peaceful feeling came over me. I didn't tell my wife about my strange encounter and my sudden attack of conscience. She would have laughed or maybe said ,“Oh, how sweet”. I wasn't in the mood for either response.

Last night I had a dream that a small, hunched backed old lady was standing in front of me holding a fish in her arms and smiling sweetly. She didn't speak, just stood there smiling then she disappeared.

Friday, April 15, 2011

SCORE....My favorite homemade scoring tool

Here is a video showing my scoring tool. The "Outtake" video is what happens when Princess, the pottery cat, tries  to help. Notice the loud purr.

Now with princess's help.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

SPECK-ulation... Cone six glaze speckles

This is how I  use steel wool to make glaze speckles in cone six glazes

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

CLAY.....Can You Dig It?

Here is part one of what will be three videos explaining how I prospect, prepare and test found clays.
This part is about digging and preparing. The next video will be about testing and the third will be firing. I haven't finished the second and third videos yet but should have them in the next two weeks.

A couple of things I did not mention in the video: 1..Finding a cut or trench in the surface allows you to examine the strata and more easily identify veins of clay. This site has about 18" of sand on top of the clay and the clay layer, being buried that deep, had very little organic material to deal with.
2....Drying the dug clay completely before mixing with water makes mixing a lot easier. Dry clay "slakes"  (absorbs water and breaks down to a slip almost effortlessly). Damp or wet clay won't readily absorb water and is harder to make into slip without more work on your part.. WORK is a four letter word, let natural forces do it for you.