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Female anglers have been at a disadvantage with regards to gear for years. Our options have been limited at best and frustrating at worse if they even existed. For years, I’ve walked into fly shops only to leave in frustration and disgust as I look at the racks upon racks of men’s gear and clothing and mad as all get out at the male anglers trying to sell me a men’s small or something in pink. Thankfully, manufactures are realizing not only do women fly fish and they plan on staying in the sport, but we sure are ready to buy good well designed gear made especially for us. Yes, there have been waders made for women on the market for a while, but they are either feature poor or priced incredibly high. Patagonia, just entering this market in January 2014, is a bit late to the game, but the wait is well worth it.

For starters, the fit, arguable one of the most important features, is incredible. A poor fitting pair of waders wears out quickly if there is excess fabric, or can cause irritation if too tight in the wrong places. Excess fabric can also lead to discomfort and hinder mobility. If water is rising or an angler needs to move quickly, the excess fabric can become dangerous in addition to cumbersome which is why women should not buy men’s waders. Don’t do it ladies, ever.

The fit on the Patagonia Spring River Women’s Waders is tailored perfectly to a women’s figure. They are made with enough ease to easily accommodate variances in body shape without being too bulky or too tight in any one area. I ordered the regular small even though my bust measurement is a smidge larger than the size chart and my hips are a smidge smaller than the size chart. I also wear a women’s size 7.5 shoe and my feet with a pair of Smartwool socks and Simms wading socks fit very comfortably in the bootie of the wader. They are also still comfortable without the Simms wading socks. I have not tried them barefoot. Even with a tee shirt, a fishing shirt, and a pullover sweater, I had enough room in my waders to access the inside waterproof pocket, but not too much to feel bulky.

These are the first pair of waders I’ve ever worn that I’ve forgotten I had on waders. From getting my rod rigged after slipping on the waders to walking through a field to fishing on a drift boat to wading on the Norfork, I easily forgot I had on a pair of waders. My previous pair of Lady Hodgeman always felt like waders, and I felt clunky lumbering around, but the Patagonia just felt comfortable. I was able to move freely in all conditions. On the river, the fit of the waders allowed them to hug my legs as I waded without bulking up in any one particular spot and they didn’t add drag as I waded. I could walk through deeper areas as well as shallow areas with ease. I was even able to kneel down in the river to release the lovely big rainbow I landed without any issue. The waders moved with me like an outfit should. On the boat, they were comfortable as I casted from the drift boat, allowing me to move easily with full mobility. They were also great wind protection and kept me warm.

For features, the waders are incredibly feature rich. The suspender feature provides convenient, the hand warmer pocket is fabulous, and the two waterproof pockets are wonderfully accessible. The suspenders also include clip on tabs for zingers so you can keep items in very easy reach. The wool lined booties are a great feature for colder stream wading, especially for women who’s feet tend to be colder than most men. Overall, this is my new favorite piece of gear, in fact the gear driving me towards finding a time to fish again just so I can use them. After springing a leak in my Lady Hodgeman waders, thanks to a thorn, I hobbled through November and December being careful of how deep I waded, so I could wait until January to order the Patagonia Spring River waders. I’m glad I waited because these waders were well worth the wait and I’d order them again in a heartbeat.

Pros: The fit. These are the best fitting, most comfortable waders I’ve worn. The anatomically correct legs and feet give a tailored streamline fit without too much excess fabric. The waders are also feature rich, including the much talked about suspender system.

Cons: If anything, maybe the price. Coming in at $399, the waders are not inexpensive but they are also not the most expensive on the market. They are not designed for someone who wants to tryout fly fishing. Instead, the waders are designed for female anglers, those who love the sport and are willing to invest in it. That said, if you are a man and want to get your lovely lady into fishing and have the means to afford these AND accept life if she doesn’t fall in love with fishing, then these waders will help her fall in love with the sport and not be the deterrent that most other waders will be because she will look darn cute in them and still feel like a lady.

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The title is relevant for more than one reason. Not only has the time between the last blog and this one gone by much too quickly for me, but the time between today and September 1999 has gone by quickly. In September 1999, around this date, I was standing on the outskirts of the dance floor at my friends’ wedding, watching the Mother Son dance, balling my eyes out. My heart was breaking at the realization that one day, that would be me and my son out there. My son who was in the nursery down the hall as a three week old baby, would leave me one day to get married and the thought just solidified in my mind as I watched my friend dance with his mom.

Now, thirteen years later, my baby is entering the end of an era as he starts a new era. He began 8th grade, the last year of in the school he’s attended since the 4K.

(The neighbor’s cat just couldn’t refuse being in his last school photo as a middle schooler)
This is his last year to eat in the cafeteria, to see the same faces every weekday, to be surrounded by the same support staff he’s had as a part of his life the last 9 years. The school has left a positive mark on his life and ours and we are truly grateful to have had this experience.

In addition to beginning his last year at his school, he officially entered the teenage years. I’m not sure how it happened, but the little baby I coddled and held and bathed and soothed and love more than I could have ever imagined has grown into a teenage boy.

He is beautiful and kind and thoughtful and talented. He lights up a room with his smile and his freckles radiate with mirth and laughter. His joy is visible and his gentle spirit is easily observed when he is lost in concentration. He has taught me about what an amazing world we live in and he helps those around him grow and become better people. Looking at what he has accomplished in the last thirteen years, I can’t wait to see what the rest of his life holds for him. Even as his exterior changes and I see the inklings of the man he will be, there will always and forever be a part of him who is little baby boy to me.

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It has been brought to my attention, by more than a few readers, that my blog has been silent.  I apologize for the lapse.  I could regale you with tales of our adventures over the last few moths, but I think it would be better if we pretended I’ve been in training for the Olympics and move on.  So…

Let the games begin!

Despite the best efforts of the USOC, I will be knitting in the event formerly known as Ravelympics.  Taking a note from Nike, I am looking for my greatness in the form of a steeked sweater.

July2012_0010

This is my first attempt at steeking, the act of taking a pair of scissors to a physical representation of hours upon hours of one’s time in the hopes the yarn holds and you magically end up with a sweater.  I’ve already begun stocking up on wine as I knit away.

Little Clover has also been striving to find his greatness.  He’s looking for his, not in yarn, but in something much, much harder – ice.

July2012_0007

He began hockey earlier this year, and not only does he really enjoy it, but it’s something he can see himself doing for a few years.  Being a bit behind the eight ball compared to other kids his age who have had years on the ice by know, he decided to attend a couple of hockey camps.  I love watching his determination and grit while on the ice.  He’s a joy to watch and he continues to amaze me with each feat he tackles.

Granted, the Olympics doesn’t include any knitting or hockey this go round, but that hasn’t stopped our little home from setting our own personal challenges and striving to prove to ourselves that, yes, we can succeed.

Carry on.

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Generations

Little Clover and his Great Grandmother

Little Clover and his Great Grandmother

Christmas, for us, usually ends the weekend after New Year’s Eve when we finally have the opportunity to celebrate the holiday with my family in Nashville. One of the highlights is to to spend time with my Grandma, and to see Little Clover with her. She is not just my grandma, but an incredibly vibrant remarkable woman with a sparkling gleam in her eye and a spry hop to her step. Her Christmas card in the mail still makes me smile and I’m tickled that Little Clover has been able to have her in his life for as long as he has.

Grandma came with us to visit my mom’s grave and we visited the others who have passed through our lives. Honestly, my Grandma brings life to the cemetery with her stories, almost always humorous. Her stories continued when Italian and I dropped her off at home. She invited us in, and we jumped at the opportunity. We followed her into the study where she pulled out a few old albums filled with pictures and accounts from the 1800s. For the first time, I saw pictures of her parents as well as her great grandfather. We read wills from 1828, where a bed, furniture, and a cow and calf were left to the heirs. Finally, after over two hour, Little Clover called to check on us. He then reprimanded us for staying out to late and we had to bid my Grandma good night. As a parting gift, she lent me the photo albums. I think my new laptop has found it’s special purpose in life.

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And finally a new blog post. Really, this year, I’d like to crank out a few more post than last year. I’m hoping the new laptop, which actually reads my photo card, will help. The laptop is a bit like a beacon, calling to me from my desk, “Hello! I’m pretty, type on me.” Really, it says that. Italian was super sweet when he gave it to me. He smiled and comment that since I was probably going to get one anyway this year, he might as well get credit for it; and he’s right.

I’ll also have a bit more time to write this week since I’m confined to the sofa. It seems I’m not able to land a triple axle, nor can I perform a simple little spin on skates. The three of us received ice skates for Christmas and have been spending multiple days at the new rink in town.

Ice skating by Irish Clover
Ice skating, a photo by Irish Clover on Flickr.

Little Clover handles himself much better on the ice. He at least falls with grace — and without injury. One day, I strive to be like that. On the other hand, my knitting and I have become better acquainted. With my foot propped up and Italian insistent I remain immobile, I had plenty of time to finish Italian’s mitts and start a new project. Oh, how I hope to walk and drive again soon.

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London calling

Hello from the UK! There might be radio silence as I try to figuire out how to post photos while mobile. Don’t panic (the answer is 42), the blog will resume and be back to normal soon.

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Fishing Stories

Our family was a bit selfish this 4th of July weekend. Normally, we spend the holidays with either the Clovers or the Sopranos, but this 4th of July, we selfish took some time for just the three of us to get away. Little Clover and I are terribly introvert individuals and we’ve been engaged in some extroverted activities of late. I begged Italian for a fly fishing trip and you are correcting in thinking I didn’t have to beg very hard.

From 2010 June Fly Fishing

Fly fishing has many desirable traits. Generally, the scenery is beautiful, consisting of mountain rivers or tight little streams. The fishing is engaging and requires skill. You have to figure out what the fish are eating and then present them with yarn and feathers on a hook and convinve them it is a bug. This is shockingly harder than you would expect. Despite having teeny tiny brains, fish are remarkably picky and can tell that you aren’t offering a real bug at all. My favorite part, fly fishing is a hobby in which no one expects you to talk to them. In fact, they expect you to leave them alone and they in turn leave you alone. You can go for hours without talking to a person even though they may be standing 20 feet in front of you. This was just my conference call overloaded soul needed.

We had beautiful weather our entire stay, lots of low wadeable water, and some incredible fishing. When Italian and I first began dabbling in fly fishing, we would encounter fly fishers coming off the river after a couple of hours in the morning as we were heading out onto the river and ask them politely, “How did you do?”

They would in turn politely respond, “Not bad, I got into about 30 fish.”

I would then impotlitely think to myself, “Bull$#!&.”

I now know catching 30 fish in a couple of hours is quite possible, because we did. Italian, Little Clover, and I caught a lot of fish. Granted we had the help of a guide, but we also now have more skills and I think we could do it again. When the fishing slowed down, Little Clover began keeping count, and he caught 13 fish in an hour and a half, and he caught them all by himself. He found them, he hooked them, he worked them in on a fly rod, he landed them, and he released them without any help from anyone. Let me just say, I was quite the proud mama on the river. The best was watching the grown men fishing next to him walk away in amazement because he was catching 5 to their one.

From 2010 June Fly Fishing

After our “hard” day of fishing, we would spend the evenings in more introverted activities. Italian would tie flies and I would knit. Vacation knitting is without a doubt, some of the best knitting, and I was looking forward to my vacation knitting. With the bohus sweater approaching a good stopping point, I dreamt of finishing the body while on vacation and putting it away once home until the cooler weather in late September. Our first night at the cabin, I reached into my knitting bag, and discovered I’d left the bohus sweater at home. Not only would the sweater have to wait, but my vacation knitting was sitting forlornly in my laptop bag at home. Luckily, I’d just bought a Namaste bag which is generous enough to hold a project. Plus, I’d brought my Golding spindle. I practiced my spindle spinning and I think I’m working out the kinks. The Blingpaca on the spindle consists of multiple different types of fibers, all of varying staple lengths. I found that spinning over the fold was the best technique to use.

From Yarn

Now that we are back, I’m determined to finish (the body anyway) the bohus.

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