Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ten Minute Fantasies

It's that time of the year again. The AllWriters' writing retreat starts a week from tomorrow. I had to miss it last year, but will be there this year. It's basically a 4 day immersion into writing. While there is a significant amount of time devoted to critiques and lecture, a significant amount time is devoted to writing as well. The event is held on the grounds of a monastery and for most of the mornings, we are told to go to our rooms, or go outside and just write. For some people this would be punishment, for me it's music to my ears. You don't have to tell me twice.

As part of it though, we are required to read about 13 other peoples' work ahead of time and then critique them so they are ready for the evening critique sessions. Because we're allowed to submit up to 13 pages it is a lot of reading. Furthermore, we can't just read it quickly, we must look at it with a critical eye and then form a summary of our thoughts that the people can take with them when their piece is done being critiqued.

While it's a lot of reading, in a way it's really unique. It gives you a one-chapter glimpse into 13 different stories. It's more than a back-cover insight into the story, but not enough to satisfy you. I have to tell you that frankly some of them make me thirst for more and make me wish I could read the whole book, and others I am kind of glad there's only one chapter's worth. This is not necessarily because the writing is bad, but maybe the book isn't a genre I'm keen on, or maybe the subject matter doesn't interest me.

On top of these 13 I am going through at the moment, I have 5 others for my Thursday night class. Again, the subjects vary, but they are all about 13 pages in length. What I have found is that it is exposing me to not only new subjects and characters (especially the Fantasy writers, whose characters I find fascinating), but it is also, perhaps, making me a better writer. My writing instructor always touts that if you want to be a good writer, you've got to be a reader.

Through these stories, I am getting snippets into fantastical lands, warped personalities, shocking situations, emotional chaos and disturbing plots. It's like going to the movies and watching trailers all night. I come away after each one wondering how people think like this. My fiction skills are just not there yet. I think if maybe I hang around fiction writers enough, maybe some of it will rub off.

I guess, for now, just stay posted here. I may be writing about a half-human half dragon that eats spiders and goat entrails in milk to gain his spell breaking powers, before long.

Blogging off...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Notes From The Unhandy

"I am not handy. Just saying"

This is the text I sent a friend who I told I would help on a project to build a wheelchair ramp. I sent him the text as a reply to his solicitation of help. I did it for good reason, or at least I thought it was. You see, I feel that I'm not handy with woodwork, metalwork, plumbing, flooring and many of the other '-ing' words. This is an interesting perception of myself, and the more I do things, the more I find out that it's unfounded. Yesterday was again proof of that.

I told my wife that part of my trepidation with offering help with projects such as these is the fear of messing up and having someone else have to fix it for me. Rather than have that happen, there's a part of me that would just rather not do it at all.

So my first thought when these things come up is "Save face by not helping." Now that's a commandment from God I've never seen in any Bible, even the New Living Translation. Thankfully reason won out over doubt and I decided to help after all.

It turns out this project was to rebuild a ramp that was too steep for a woman with Multiple Sclerosis who was living with her mother. I met her mom first and she told me her daughter was 42. The medications she was taking for pain caused her to sleep a lot, though she was able to come out and say hello and thank us later on in the afternoon. It was a touching moment and one that made the whole day worth it. Here's a complete stranger with a horrible disease that I never would have met if I had gone with my initial self-doubt.

I learned a few things along the way as I worked on several different sections of the ramp. First of all, I had heard of a "Chalk Line" but always figured it was a drawn line telling where the studs were. Well it turns out it is a line of string That is heavily chalked that you hold both ends on and then "snap" down thereby leaving a line on which to center your nails. It was simplistic genius, and has probably been around forever.

Another thing I learned is that "cheating" is allowed when working with wood. You cheat something left or right to compensate for the bowing, bending or warped wood. You never want to cheat too much (like real life :-) because it can come back to haunt. but it is allowed in isolated instances to correct or fudge.

I learned a speed square is a triangle, not a square.
 From past deck-building and floor-building projects, I remembered that when using the chop-saw, you always want to check what angle is being cut. Yesterday we used 3 different angles (0, 4 and 45 degrees) and I managed to not botch a cut by checking the angle every time. I will admit though one time I lined up a 2X4 and thought to myself "Wow, how could I draw such a crooked line. Well, as it turns out the saw was set to 4 degrees, so my line only looked crooked. A funny moment in my day, nonetheless.

Part of my apprehension in working with wood is my geometric disability. It's funny because I always loved geometry in High School, but when it comes to "seeing" and angle in 3D, I struggle. I eventually "get it," it just takes me 3 tries to visualize how it will come together. It's like a mathematical dyslexia of sorts. Don't judge me for it though.

I also learned a few things about myself and life from the day. I discovered that I'm handier than I give myself credit for. I think back to the many projects I've either done myself or helped people with and realize that I'm plenty capable. It's was a Stuart Smalley revelation. ("I'm good enough, I'm smart enough...") I just need to keep powering through the self doubt that weaves itself ribbon-like through my being. It's like a cancer.

Most importantly I realized how fortunate I am to be at this stage in my life, healthy, happy and able to help. The tables could have just as easily be turned and it could be my ramp that people were building for me. My brother had a makeshift ramp in his garage when he was paralyzed with his cancer, and I remember hating what it stood for. At the same time they allow the sick and suffering to get out and enjoy the world. They are a portal to the outside, the real life or the life they used to live, in some cases. In that sense the ramps are beautiful.

Much of my life lately has been saying yes to things that are out of my comfort zone. In this case it was outside of what I feel is my expertise. Well thank goodness, I chose to say yes instead of no to this. I need to keep knocking down my own stiff-arm and plowing ahead. Great things happen and get revealed when I do, even if it means giving up a day of my own for someone else.

And so having this new found understanding, as much as I gave on the day, I got a lot back as well.

Blogging off...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Maps Day and Night

Being in the GIS and mapping world for as long as I have, I have a tendency to want to use maps to solve a number of different issues. Maps can make boring, dull data into a vibrant picture that actually tells a story. While you don't often think of it most digital data has a mapping component to it. Customer base equates to a list of addresses that can be geocoded to tell you where they are coming from. Voters can be tied to demographic data (at times). Crime can be mapped using a pin map and, when there's lots of violent crime, the pins can be ranked by severity. The severity can then be calculated into a "heat map" showing hot spots of high crime.

I came across a really cool map today that shows where the building footprints would be for the areas of tornado devastation in and near Moore, Oklahoma. While this is more flash than not, it could be easily tied to a land/improvement value file and the values of the homes lost in the disaster could be calculated.

As I continue to work on my Boundary Waters book, I began to think that it would be well served to show some maps of my own. I thought about using an ESRI map because that's the software I use at work. It turns out that it's just as easy to use something people are familiar with like Google maps. I know enough about Google maps that I thought I would try and make my writing site a little more interactive by adding some maps to it. All it would take is to create some points, lines and polygons on a map and then create a link to the saved map on my personal writing website.

Furthermore, from there I could link pictures from the various trips to locations on the map using web folders on Picasa. As part of my research for my book, I've back-scanned many of my 1980's and 1990's BWCA photos. Once they are on Picasa, they are "web ready" and I could link my points of interest to them.

I set to to work tonight on them and got a couple of quick "proof of concept" maps done. One is on my site under the BWCA Maps tab. If you click on the launch point you get a photo that is linked to Picasa. It is a photo taken at the Chainsaw Sisters saloon on that fateful Labor Day so many years ago.

My attempt at making my second map went a little awry, as things frequently do in the mapping world. I digitized my entire route for the 1979/1980 trips using Google's finicky line command. Because I messed up in a couple of spots, I had to "add vertexes" to the line in order to smooth them out. In doing that somehow I go what is known in the GIS world as a "zinger". They are lines that shoot off into never land. I haven't quite been able to figure out how to fix it yet, short of retracing my whole route again. Ugh.

You see, this is starting to seem a LOT like my day job. :-) When I come home I don't really want to do a lot of mapping. At the same time, I love maps, and I think it would be so cool, so I'm going to keep at it. Keep your eyes on my writing page to see how it comes along.

Blogging off...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Just Cuz

This past weekend my kids and I spent camping and trout fishing in southern Minnesota. It is positively gorgeous country down there, near Lanesboro and Preston. Rolling hills, farmlands and lots of rivers, creeks and streams. I had heard from a couple of people that the area was beautiful and they weren't kidding. Not as breathtaking as Colorado, but pretty dang nice for being only 4.5 hours away.

One of the best parts about all of our road trips is watching my kids have fun with their cousins. Being out of state, we only see them about 3-4 times a year, so our kids make it a point to maximize the time they have with their cousins. Sarah and Alison are close in age so pal around together, as do Ben and Hunter and Mandy and Jocelyn. Since the kids were young, we would stay with Alison and Mandy's parents when we travelled to Minnesota, so they kids have been together since they were babies. Despite the distance, they have remained close.

Our kids grew up fishing together. They've fished for sunfish in Hackensack, (Right) walleye in the BWCA, trout in South Dakota, bass in Pennsylvania, and muskie in Mercer. They've fished in spring, summer, fall and even ice fished together. Not all of them are crazy about it, but most really like it and give it a shot nonetheless. It is a common bond between all of them and they all have their favorite fish story.

The added benefit our kids get is that they have cousins who are much older than them that they have become very close to as well. They look up to them as adults, yet can relate as cousins at a kid level too. We are lucky to have them as good role models for our kids and show them that they will be there for them as our kids traverse the same waters that they did. (Below).

Cousins are a weird deal really. Everyone has some good cousins, some favorite cousins, and usually a couple of weird cousins too. They're like rental-siblings. You can give them back after a day or two when you're tired of them or just not getting along. Real siblings, of course, you're stuck with for life, and it usually turns out to be a good thing.

Cousin relationships however, usually require a couple of things. First of all the parents of each must get along, to insure that the kids get the chance to get together. Second, ages should be close together and it's always nice, though not required, to have some of the same gender close in age. If you have both of those criteria, getting together with your siblings (at the aunt/uncle level) can be a much easier experience. Send the kids off to play and you can actually have an adult conversation without having kids hanging around saying how bored they are. It's a win/win situation.

Because we lived 80+ miles from our relatives in St. Cloud, we didn't get to see them much, at best a couple of times a year. As a result, we didn't really get to have the great relationships that our kids have with their cousins. (80 miles was a lot further back then, especially if you're driving a carload of 6 kids). Our St. Cloud cousins were always nice, but because there were so many of them and we didn't get to see them much, we really didn't build bonds with them until we were adults.

One of the places I feel like I got to really get to know some of my St. Cloud cousins was the Landwehr Hunt in 2006. (Above) I (re) met my cousins Bobby (Coe), Don and Jack. It turns out they are great sources of history about my Dad's side of the family as well as rockin' fun people. I still keep in touch with them, now more than ever, and they feel like real family again.

On Mom's side of the family I feel much closer. Though my cousins on that side are all women, they lived much closer, so we got to know them very well. They had a house on a small lake near White Bear Lake and every summer we would go spend a week there. Some of my best childhood fishing memories are of fishing on the dock at Tally's with my cousin Lori and my brothers. Tom did the same with a couple of the older girls. Typically we would return the favor and have one or more of them stay at our house in the city for a week. It was a good arrangement on both ends.

As I said, cousins are a weird deal. A weird, beautiful deal. See them in bits and chunks, laugh hard, fight a little even, then say goodbye until next time. It's grounds for a perfect relationship. Cousins rock the house.

Blogging off...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thoughts Near And Far

Lots of random thoughts these past few days. Here's a sampling.

  • Chuck Muncie died yesterday. He was one of those college heroes of mine. His style was slashing and he was always distinguishable with his athletic glasses inside his helmet. I found it sad to hear of his death, and was surprised to hear he struggled with drug addiction. It goes to show again that we should never put people on a pedestal, as they only tend to let us down when we do
  • As I was vacuuming the other day I realized that much of what I was vacuuming up was dead skin. While I was vacuuming, I was also shedding the next layer of my skin in the process, thereby completing the cycle. Cleaning up after myself as I die, so to speak.
  • While on a walk with the dog the other day on my iPod came the song Tomorrow, by U2. The next song was Monday Morning by Death Cab For Cutie. The next song was Tomorrow by The Cranberries. And incidentally no, Tomorrow wouldn't have been Monday Morning. It would have been Tuesday. I know not the significance of any of this, I just thought it was a weird coincidence.
  • As I walked past a newly fertilized lawn, all I could smell was the freshly laid toxic fertilizer. I wondered if maybe this lungful of toxic spores would come back to haunt me later in life. I tend to think Rachel Carlson (Silent Spring) was more right than wrong.
  • I went browsing through an email folder I'd titled "Rob". It had many of the emails he and I shared over the last few months of his life. I shared with him what I called "Memory of the Day. They were just random memories of times I'd had with him. Kind of recalling moments of his life. He said he really enjoyed these emails. Being so far away, I felt like I was like talking to him again. When looking through them, I thought to myself that I need to print these out or get them into a single saved document. They are precious words.
Again, these are kind of mindless thoughts, but are a little bit of what makes up the ringing in my head. I hope to post again on Sunday 5-19. 

Blogging off...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

To Mothers Young And Old

Being mothers day, a few words about mom might be in order.

Mom turned 80 last April. While I realize you're never supposed to mention a woman's age, I have no shame in declaring hers because she is the youngest 80 year-old I've ever known.

At 80, she is:

  • Still working part time a couple days a week at a monastery answering phones and doing clerical work. This helps with grocery money and bills, but more importantly, gets her out of the house and connected with people. They say that in retirement, having a good social network is as important as anything. 
  • Volunteering at her church, counting the offering money and organizing food/arrangements for funerals. 
  • Driving herself wherever she needs to go. She isn't big on night driving anymore, and if offered, she'll take a ride from anyone. But I love the fact that she would drive anywhere by herself without giving it a second thought.
  • Adventurous. When she was in Cozumel, my sister and nieces were going to rent mopeds and ride around the island on them. Mom, not wanting to be left out, said she would ride on the back of Stephanie's moped. She got her helmet, got on the back and was ready to go. If it wasn't for a mechanical breakdown, the two of them would have done it, of that I have no doubt. It's a little like my cousin Coe, who took his 80+ year old dad out to Sturgis in a sidecar one year. My newest mantra is "Moped at 80."
  • A free spirit. When my wife and I mentioned we were getting tattoos, Mom said "Well, maybe I'll get one too." While it doesn't have to be as extreme as this, doing things like that keep you young, and my mom is living proof of that.
  • Funny. My mom loves to laugh and has no problem laughing at herself. I attribute much of my self-deprecating writing style as coming from her. If you can't laugh at yourself then how do you expect people to react when you laugh at them? I think it is an endearing quality. It makes people realize you're human.
  • Socially conscious. Mom volunteers at the polls every election as a poll worker registering voters. She has definite opinions on controversial social issues but will never bring them up unless someone asks her. 
  • Deep in her faith. Mom is active in her church and still makes it to church every week. Her faith has pulled her through many difficult trials over her lifetime, and while I'm sure there were times she questioned where God was in all of her loss, she has stood by it and continues to model it to her kids and grandchildren.
  • Healthy. She walks when the weather is good, and when it's not she'll sometimes walk the treadmill. She's forever dieting and realizes the importance of moving. 
  • The foundation. Mom is still the glue that holds the family together. She is still the one who brings the turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving. She is still the one who sends birthday cards, graduation cards, and buys the fundraiser items from her grandchildren. She does this because we're family and in her eyes family ALWAYS comes first. 
Growing up in a single-parent family for much of my life, I'm probably a little biased in my claims that my mother, the mother of 7 kids, was special. At the same time, as a father of two kids, I know the time, effort, love and energy it takes to raise well-adjusted kids. To have to spread that over 7 is almost beyond comprehension. 

All that is left to say is, Thanks Mom. Thanks for the sacrifices, the love, the joy and the patience you showed all of us and our kids over the years. Thanks for staying young and loving us as much today as when we were kids. I only hope I can do the same for my kids that you've done for me.

Blogging off...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Write Where I'm At

Some notes and thoughts about life in the writing lane. 

I continue to work through what I'd like to call the "final unprofessional edit" of my BWCA book with my Thursday night colleagues at AllWriters. We have one week left in this session and then another starts up on May 30th and runs 12 weeks. As I've mentioned before, this run-through has been really good. It is giving a (somewhat) objective audience a start-to-finish look at the book. At the same time, this group is probably the most critical group the book will ever see, from a reader's standpoint. This gives the book a thorough check for facts, timelines, content, clarity and structure.

In the class we've actually had a couple of students (there's 5 of us) finish their "final unprofessional edit." One has moved on to her next book and another has decided to run through the start again. We writers are nothing if not thorough. We're like compulsive fire-pokers, we just keep futzin'. Typically someone needs to jump in and say "Okay, I think you're done now."

In regards to my latest fixation, MidWest Outdoors Magazine, I had a nice full page article in their May issue. Their deal with publishing your work is they never really tell you that it's going to be published. It just kind of shows up. Then, usually the next day, you get a check in the mail. It's always a bit of a shock, but in a pleasant kind of way. To their credit, they do say if they don't like the piece, they will send it back within two weeks.

I was so happy to see that they accepted my article, that I got to work right away on the next piece. I finished it last week and had my expert editor give it the once over. Then, after fact checking with my brother, I got the pictures together and submitted it last night. The piece is about the history of musky fishing in my family, how it got started, etc. It finishes out with the musky I caught on Rob's birthday in 2011. The good news is that I got word today that while it was too late for the June issue, they are considering it for the July issue. Sweet it is!

Today, I also got my replacement copy of Torrid Literature's Volume VI. One of the three they sent me was crumpled a bit, so they were kind enough to replace it. The upside to it was when they sent the confirmation that it was in the mail, they asked if it was OK if they used my poem "Going Back" in their Volume VII edition. Of course I told them that it was absolutely fine. They had actually asked me this about a week ago, but it was still nice to hear them ask again.

Coming up soon is the AllWriters' retreat, June 6-9. I am really looking forward to this event! It is a great chance to immerse myself in a writer's world for four days. I didn't make it last year, but made a conscious effort to make it a priority this year. There's so much to like about it, but actually my favorite part is the seclusion and the "priority" given to writing, first and foremost. I plan on maximizing that time and working on new material, which brings me to my last point.

On the back burner for some time has been what I want to call my "second book."  We all know though, that you can't have a second without a first. But when my first is done, and it will be done, soon enough, there will be a second. It is to be a book about the house I grew up in. Growing up with 5 siblings in a mostly single-parent household had its moments. Lots of moments.

My goal with the still-phantom second book is to capture the best (and the worst) of those moments and give people a feel for what a good old fashion Catholic big family was like in the 1970's. Part of me can't wait to get back into it, but I realize that if I were to jump to it right now, it would be like leaving the BWCA book in the car with the windows rolled up in the summer heat. Not good.

Poems come and go. I get them down when they come, but I really need my Wednesday Night crowd to critique them and iron them out. Maybe in the fall or next winter.

And so, life in the writing lane is chugging along. Most days it's like a commute, with stops and starts. Other days, like today, it's more like a superhighway. And of course there are some days where it's a freakin' parking lot. Goin' nowhere. As long as the commutes are more frequent than the parking, I'll keep at it.

Blogging off...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Things of Beauty

A while back I posted about my latest observations of things that kind of took my breath away or struck me as beautiful. I mentioned that much of what I observe has changed in part due to my brother's death. It changes your paradigm and in many ways, clarifies what is important and what is not. Here are some of the things this weekend that struck me as poignant, beautiful and worthwhile:

On Saturday we volunteered again at the Guest House in Milwaukee. While there were not as many men as there was over Easter when we served the first time, it was still a moving experience. I always go thinking what I am doing is a blessing to these guys and I always come away feeling like the one who was blessed by it. The minute we got there a few of the guys came up to the van and asked if we needed help. We obliged and they got everything in the kitchen in one trip.

The guys are nothing short of overly courteous, thankful and grateful for our service. The thank yous and pleases are abundant. It is humbling and beautiful. I don't even ask for this, but they bless me with them. I pray for these guys before I go in and after I come out. They are people, brothers, and beautiful.

My daughter went to Prom on Saturday. While I realize this is not a monumental moment to anyone's lives except ours and hers, it was a moment of beauty unto itself. Here are two young adults who care enough about each other that they are willing to dress up, dance and act like real adults for an evening. It seems like only yesterday I was going through the same motions in my powder blue tuxedo. (It was on sale at the rental shop. I now know why). Watching her and her classmates walk proudly across the stage during the grand march was a watershed moment. I realized I was losing a little piece of her love and attention to another man.  It made me happy and sad at the same time. Her going to prom is simple innocence, it is young love and it is beautiful.

I met a man while fishing today who caught a 46" Musky on the Fox River. It was a beautiful fish, but there was more to the story. As we got to talking I noticed he had a few tattoos, so I felt compelled to show him my new one. See (I know, it's weird). He asked about the significance of the date, so I told him about Rob and the whole story. Now this is a complete stranger understand, and he said he was sorry about Rob. He then told me he his daughter passed away after only 5 days. He showed me a tattoo of Angel wings on his forearm that he'd gotten after she died. This again proved to me that everyone has a story. Here I think I'm telling him part of my sad story and he has one that is sadder. It was a connection of the human condition and it made my day.

These events are just mundane events in my everyday life. I've found though, that if I look hard enough, I can see glimpses of the hand of God in all of them. Maybe it's just a stage I'm at in life. I prefer to think that it's this kind of thing that's been there all along, and I'm just seeing it with greater clarity than ever. And for that reason, I plan to keep looking for them.

Blogging off...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Thinking Man's Ink

I made one of the brasher decisions in my life a couple of weeks back. I got a tattoo. This wasn't some spur of the moment decision like the movie Hangover II where Ed Helms gets a Mike Tyson tattoo during a blackout. I have been thinking about getting a tattoo for a year and a half. There was real thought that went into both if I would get one, and what I would get if I did decide to. Part of me was intrigued by the thought of doing something no one would ever guess me to do in a million years. The other part was concerned what people would think. That's where my brother came in.

When I mentioned that I was thinking of getting one, my older brother said, "Why not? You're 50, who cares?" I had the hardest time finding an argument against his reasoning. When I mentioned it to my wife, she said she had been thinking about getting one too. When my mom heard about it she said that maybe she would get one too. She's 80. Her attitude was much like mine. "I'm 80, why not?" I love her spirit.

It was becoming a bit of a family affair. I talked to my nephew who knew an artist who would give us a deal and give us a deal, and so it was set for April 19th.

I knew I wanted a musky and I wanted it on my shoulder above the sleeve line. I figured on it being about 5 inches long by an inch and a half high.

Silly me.

I knew I also wanted a date worked into it somehow. The date is 10/14/11, which is my brother's birthday and the date I caught a musky in his honor. He died on August 30th of 2011 and I caught the fish about 6 weeks later. I wanted a tattoo that meant something to me. I didn't want a skull and crossbones or some mindless art. If it doesn't have meaning I'm not putting it on my body.

We got to Anchor's End at 4:00 on Friday. Because there were 3 of us in our party (and my sister and niece tagging along as gawkers) they split us up. Mom got Daniel  for her anklet tattoo while Donna got Aaron, the artist that also did mine.  Mom got a simple, but very cool design of an anklet with 7 hearts, two of them hollow for my sister and brother who have passed. Donna opted for a single word "hesed" on her wrist along with a small red cardinal bird. Hesed means the pursuing, loving kindness of God. Like me, both of them chose designs that were deeply meaningful to them. Because their designs were simple they were both done in about forty five minutes.

Aaron saw what I was thinking of for artwork, then came upon a similar one on the web that was even cooler. (See above). When he printed out the template, it seemed way bigger than I anticipated. Then he printed out a bigger one. I got a little nervous, but when he described how it would sit on my shoulder, I got jazzed and said let's do this! Go big or go home, right?

The studio is really clean and modern, very nice. The process really didn't hurt as much as I feared. Oh, it hurt at times, but seriously, most of the time it was just like a real annoying scratching. They had the Red Hot Chili Peppers on for the first hour of it, so that helped. We talked for the first couple hours and then, for the last half hour it was pretty quiet. Just grinding it out; gettin' it done. Aaron was great throughout, answering questions, joking a bit and making sure I was comfortable.

I'll tell you one thing though, it gave me a new found respect for the tattooists of the world. These guys are not only phenomenal artists, but their job is physically demanding as well. A lot of awkward positioning, bad posture and repetitive motion. The other thing that shocked me was the number of colors they used and the number of times he had to change needles. At one point I thought he was done, and he said no, that he was only halfway and just taking a break. That's when I knew this was going to be really good.

When my sister came in to check on me she just laughed at how big my tat was turning out to be. It really didn't bother me though. After all, muskies ARE big. Besides, people kept telling me that to get good detail, you have to go big. So I did. And I love it. I have no regrets whatsoever. It is in a spot that I can show when I don't care and hide when I do. It is now a part of me. I love fishing, I love my brother and I love art. This brings all three together in a place where I can see it everyday.

Here's how it turned out.

Blogging off...