Friday, December 18, 2009

Season's Greetings

As the year comes to a close, I'm thankful for the the gifts in my life; my family & friends, my health, a job, and enough interests to keep me constantly amazed at the world around me. I'm excited that my Dad is coming out to spend the Holiday's with us, but sad that my Mom wasn't able to win her fight against cancer and be here as well. Perhaps her gift was to see us become involved in each others lives again. I wish everyone a warm, safe Holiday Season and best wishes for a better 2010.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Out and About in Paradise

I went for a hike this morning. Tami was down the hill shopping and Kyle was in school, so I took advantage of the weather and headed down into Deep Creek gorge. Beautiful colors and nice temps in the high 40's.

At one point, I was rock scrambling and fell, full force, on my left thigh. There is a nano-second before the pain hits when time slows down to allow you a brief vision of clarity. You feel the impact and before the pain arrives, you ponder how bad it's going to be. You think about what you might have done to prevent it. You wonder if it's going to be so serious that you may spend the night in the wilderness. And, most of all, you wonder if the butt-chewing your wife is going to give you will be as bad as the immediate pain.

Then, POW! It hits! Cuss words flow liberally with the F-word being used as a noun, verb, adjective, and so on. It was as if Mark McQuire or Sammy Sosa let loose with a home run impact on my leg. No time, to worry. Got to keep hiking out before it knots up too badly.

Well, obviously I made it home. Took some Motrin and thanked the stars it wasn't worse. And, best of all, I got some beautiful photo's while I was there!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Deep Creek Hiking

Tami asked me "Are you getting up for Black Friday?" My response was immediate. "Heck, yeah! I'm going hiking in Deep Creek!" The idea of spending some quiet time looking for the little jewels (aka Deep Creek Wild trout) won out over the hustle and bustle of the crowds at Walmart. Fortunately, I didn't have to hike to hard. I was still a bit run down from earlier in the week, so big scenery lifted my spirit. And, I caught a few of those beautiful trout as well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Well, with some tough times at work (layoffs, etc) and home, I'm thankful this year for several things. Foremost, I'm thankful for family. I've got a good wife and son; I've gotten reconnected with my Dad, and my in-laws a great folks. I'm also thankful for my health. Yeah, I've got a beer filled inner-tube around the waist that mountain biking isn't cutting into, but I'm healthy. Given what my Mom went through with cancer, and what my mother-in-law is going through right now with Valley Fever, I have no complaints. And, finally, I have a good job. A whole bunch of folks got laid off in our Police Department. My heart goes out to them and I wish the best for them.

And, when the going gets tough, the tough go fishing. I'm thankful for the little wild trout only a couple of miles from the house. They are some of the best therapy around. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Finally, a Day Off!

Ahhhh...... Finally, a day away from work to recharge the batteries a bit. If you have any doubt as to how the day will go, just ask the ladies. They look pretty well ensconced for the morning, that is unless someone mutters the w-a-l-k word. Hope everyone has a wonderful Fall day and that the East Coast folks get some relief from Ida.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I love airports. I always wonder what story lay behind the travelers; are they going on vacation; to see loved ones; business? There's always a level of anticipation in the air, regardless of destination, that makes me wonder "Where are they going?"

Last evening, as I flew in from my Mom's services in Omaha, I was looking out my seat window. We were pulling up to the terminal and I was anxious to see Tami and Kyle. I observed a lone soldier in desert combat fatigues standing at attention as our airliner came to a stop. Knowing the restrictions on flight tarmac access, I wondered why he was there. As quickly as the question formed in my mind, the answer also came in the form of a deep sadness down in my soul. I recognized it so quickly because I had been living with it in the absence of my mom during my visit. I knew our plane had flown a very special person home.

When I reached the top of the skywalk, I heard the gate steward say "Ladies and gentleman, if you would join us in honoring a young man who is coming home." Outside, an honor guard had formed up. Just past them, a family, wearing t-shirts bearing a photo of the fallen soldier, held each other up. His mom and dad looked no older than Tami or I.

The flag draped casket came down the conveyor belt and into the hands of the soldiers. They were not a true 'dress blue' honor guard. Rather, they were most likely comrades of the young soldier. They smartly escorted their friend to a waiting hearst. Inside the terminal I saw hundreds of people, stopped, paying their respects to this soldier and his family. Many had their heads bowed. Some, who might have been in the military long ago, stood locked at attention- only their bellies to betray their age. Travelers with places to go and people to see, stopped to pay their respects. And then it was over. The airport came to life, and the buzz in the terminal returned.

And for once, I knew where a traveler was going.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The truth About Weiner Dogs

Finally, a weekend at home! It's been since August 10th that I have had a chance to be a home-body over the weekend and I certainly have made the most of it. I actually enjoyed winterizing the garden beds, cleaning the garage, and working on a novel (that I've been writing in my head for the last 5 years). Tami & Kyle were up north for a wedding, so I had the whole house to myself. Were it not for a buddy coming by Saturday nite, I don't know that I would have even showered and shaved...

Anyway, photographic evidence now suggests that the evolutionary development of the Weinerdog came about, not so that they could enter into gopher burrows in order to hunt, but so that their tongues could retract in a safe & efficient manner. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. Enjoy your Sunday!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fall Colors

Nothing like the fall colors of Aspen trees to make you feel good. These were surrounding South Lake, in the Sierra's. At about 10,000 feet altitude, fall is definitely in the air. Click on the photo for a large shot; it's worth the effort!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Good bye, Mom. You showed amazing strength and dignity through your last breath. I wish we could have mended fences earlier because we were so much alike and probably would have gotten along grandly in old age. The last few months, though painful, were very dear to me.

I'm sad you are gone, but relieved that you don't have to suffer anymore. I love you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Whale of a Time

Kyle and I went out with a good friend on his boat to do some tuna fishing. I know, surprise surprise.... Anyway, we happened to have a nice visit with what we believe was a blue whale. I've been along side California Gray Whales, and this was more elongated and probable 70 feet or more. Just amazing to watch it blow and sit on the surface. At one point, it eye balled us as if to say "what strange looking creatures you are..."

It was a bitter sweet day as I learned that my mom's stopping feeding and hydration and it's basically over. If you need to send good thoughts, send to my Dad and my Sister. The have been right there during all this and I worry for them the most. My mom's not feeling any pain, nor does she have any awareness of what is going on. I'd say her mind and spirit have already gone home. They are waiting for her body to do the same.

My wife, Tami, is heading out to Nebraska on Wednesday to help out. She's amazing and I absolutley appreciate how lucky I am to be married to her.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Yellow Cancer Bracelet

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a huge Lance Armstrong fan. I'm just not convinced that he won all those Tours de France in a clean fashion. And, I never wore the Livestrong bracelet as I viewed it as trendy.

Not too long after my mom got diagnosed with cancer, my buddy, Pete, gave me a couple of the Livestrong bracelets. He told me "I know you don't like Lance, but....." I put the thing on to thank him for his caring, and to honor my mom's fight. Funny thing happened.

Everytime I look at the yellow rubberband on my wrist, I feel proud that people are fighting for a cure. I feel safer because I know there's other who have, and will share my mom's story, and my sadness. And, I am reminded of what my mom is enduring as cancer is pulling her away from my dad, her family, and friends.

She's not winning the fight. The cancer's returned to her remaining lung, spine, and adrenal gland. I went out one last time and it was tough. Fortunately, I enjoyed a few golden moments of lucidity and clarity with her on the morning I was due back in California. I'm fairly certain my good bye was last and I savored it, sad as it was.

When it's all said and done, I'll take off the Livestrong bracelet and put it safely along side my Sigma Chi Fraternity badge, my grandfather's Mason's ring, a gold bracelet passed down to the mother of the 1st born son in a new Bayer generation, and my important papers. As far as I'm concerned, it's an heirloom.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Things that get by Security

I received on of those unsolicited, random emails that my work firewall usually disposes of. This one snuck in and it's absolutely worth sharing.

Be understanding to your perceived enemies.
Be loyal to your friends.
Be strong enough to face the world each day.
Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.
Be generous to those who need your help.

Be frugal with that you need yourself.
Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything.
Be foolish enough to believe in miracles.
Be willing to share your joys.
Be willing to share the sorrows of others.

Be a leader when you see a path others have missed.
Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty.
Be first to congratulate an opponent who succeeds.
Be last to criticize a colleague who fails.
Be sure where your next step will fall, so that you will not tumble.

Be sure of your final destination, in case you are going the wrong way.
Be loving to those who love you..
Be loving to those who do not love you; they may change.
Above all, Be yourself.
Just Be Yourself.

Nicci Ray
City Magazine
Roanoke VA

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Passing of the Torch

I'm sure that every culture has a something that celebrates the moment when a father sees his son for the first time as something other than a child. Sometimes, it's cloaked in ceremony; sometimes its a silent recognition of something done right. For me, I got to have that experience this week.

Kyle and I went out on a 3.5 day tuna trip into Mexico. I told him the normal rules didn't have to apply (as in 'what happens in international waters stays in international waters....'), but that he still had to be respectful of others on the boat.

At then end of the first day, I had landed a couple of 15-20 pound yellowfin tuna, but Kyle had not even seen a single bite. As the sun was setting, I heard the cry of "FRESH ONE!", meaning someone was hooked up. I looked down the boat to see Kyle fighting to hold onto his rod, which was darn near bent in half.

To my fear and dismay, he was using a freshwater quality reel on a light weight rod bass rod that did not have the backbone to stand up to a tuna. I knew what the end result would be and prepared myself for consoling Kyle with the 'that's why they call it fishing, not catching' speech.

The fish walked him 4 times around a 95 foot boat. That poor rod looked like a pretzel. And Kyle? He was shaking from the strain, trying to grab his back, which was seizing up. He was seriously hurting. He could hardly manage to get the rod tip up just to crank in some line.

The deckhands were surrounding him giving him advice; I'm right behind him yelling encouragement and doing everything in my power NOT to reach in and help him raise that rod. It's his moment, and even if it means losing the fish, he'll do it on his own. After 45 minutes, we could see the fish under the surface. It was a monster. As soon as it saw the boat, it peeled off line heading for the deep. But Kyle kept fighting.

Then I heard the deckhand yell "Just a couple of more cranks..." Up and down the boat, 24 other fisherman on the trip were cheering him on. With a final lift, the fish was gaffed and in the boat. When it hit the deck, thunderous cheers broke out and men swarmed Kyle to congratulate him as one of our own. They saw what I did; a kid taking on the big fish and not quitting til the hard work was done.

And me? We'll, you know the buttons were busting off my shirt! And not just because of what he'd done. It was the comments through out the trip of what a fine, polite young man Kyle was and how they'd "share a rail, anytime" with Kyle; the highest praise in the world of off-shore angling. And they are right. I look forward to sharing a rail with him for many years to come.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Great American Experience

So, if you follow my wife's blog, you had to laugh your ass off about her comparing our camping trip with the classic "The Long, Long Trailer" with Desi Arnez & Lucille Ball. Can't say I blame her! As with any maiden voyage, I was pretty sure the car would overheat, or the camper would become unhitched, or the fridge would open in transit, sending food items flying everywhere. I was waiting for the "I told you so...." But, I'll be damned if it all went off just fine. Except for not knowing how to turn on the furnace the first night (which was remedied for nights 2 & 3), it was a great family experience; like I remember when we had a camper and would go to Myrtle Beach. Cooking trout on a campfire, watching meteor showers in the Sierra sky, and luxuriating under the warmth of a good shower at then end of the day- just a few memories spent with my two favorite people. Oh, and honey if you read this, I seem to recall that the Long Long Trailer brought Ricky and Lucy closer together than they ever could have imagined. I look forward to many more adventures!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Rugby Camp Re-cap

Kyle and I rolled down for his first summer camp experience; Rugby Camp at UCLA. Actually, the experience began as soon as we got into Kyle's Coach's van to drive down. You see, Bill (his coach) has 10, yes 10 kids. 7 of them went to camp, along with Kyle and I.

At one point, Bill asked Kyle if he had brothers or sisters. Upon hearing he was an only child, Bill just laughed and said, "Well, you are in for an experience..." I have to hand it to Bill. His kids are great. But, even great multiplied by 7 in a van is something to behold! I enjoyed being able to chat with Bill, who is a good father and coach.

Camp was fun. We shared the field with a cheerleading camp that had Kyle staring off into the distance on more than one occasion. The Barcelona FC soccer team (one of the world's best) was also practicing at the field.And, right next door was the LA Open Tennis Tournament.

For Kyle, it was a crash course in rugby. He really picked up on the nuances, though he was frustrated he wasn't as good as some of the other campers. I had to remind him he was 14 and only had 4 games under his belt whereas the kids were older with several years playing. Plus, you know it's a serious camp when the girl players show up with t-shirts reading "RUGBY- No Pads, Just Balls"

And finally, I practiced with them. No hitting or anything, but the movements were enough to leave me hobbling at work until Wednesday. Guess I'm not as fast as I remember!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Here's the latest print completed for a wildlife exchange. Surprise--- a trout!!! We'll perhaps not a great surprise as I seem to have an obsession in capturing the beauty of these wonderful fish. I wish I had more time and energy for printing, but it's been a crazy summer.

As to the specs, it's 5x7 printed with Akua intaglio ink onto white Stonehenge paper.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cabo Wabo, Bay-beee!

We'll, we just got back from Cabo San Lucas, down in Baja California Sur (Mexico). It was an educational trip in that I learned the best way to remember Baja California Sur (BCS), is Beer, Chips, & Salsa.

We stayed at the Villa Del Arco Resort, which is absolutely top notch. The rooms are stunning and equipped with kitchenettes. Our room overlooked the pool, including the replica pirate ship floating in it, and the beach another 50 yards beyond.

We relaxed and enjoyed the Cabo vibe, did two wonderful days of snorkeling in a marine preserve, and seriously imbibed in------ food! No tequila this time around, and just enough cerveza to keep us cool. But, as I mentioned, the food was awesome! We enjoyed a monstrous seafood platter at Mocambo that included baja style lobster, cracked crab, butterflied shrimp, grilled shrimp wrapped in bacon, a whole red snapper, and calimari. The chips n salsa were off the chart as well.

We also sampled some more traditional dishes, including an ethnic fusing of middle eastern and Mexican styles where the meats are skewered and shaved from a spit, lightly grilled in pineapple and onion, and mixed with jalapeno, tamarind, and other spices. And, we found some of the best gellato we have ever enjoyed. This was a culinary trip!!!

The grand finale' was getting intentionally bumped from our return flight in order to get $900 in travel vouchers for a future trip to any where US Air flies. Thanks to Tami's thriftiness and sprinting abilities, we'll be enjoying another 'fly-a-way' vacation in the next year.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Too Long between Posting

I wish I could say I was sooooo busy that I did not have time to post, but the truth is, I didn't have much to say. But now I think I have some good stuff for the blog.

Father's day was awesome! A celebration of the manly bond between father and son. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Sierra's, Kyle presented me with a duck decoy he had hand carved out of a block of cedar and stained to look old. I learned from Tami that he had spent the whole semester in woodshop working on it. Shortly thereafter, we were out on the water, fishing for trout with my father-in-law. Truly a great day; a real dad's day!

Flash forward to the 4th of July. A deep discussion on purchasing a small RV for our camping and fishing trips.... By way of backdrop, I've worked this purchase for the last 10 years (or more) before Tami finally said, wellllllllllll, alright....

The family vote hinged on Kyle saying "OH YEAH!!!!" and I was already planning the next great adventure. Then it hit.... "We'll, you know, dad, this'll probably be the last summer we hang out because I'll want to spend more time with my friends in high school."

OOOMMMPHHFHHH. That's was the sound of the air going out of my sails. Tami knew the feeling, having been relegated to 'mom' status a few years ago as 'dad' became the hero.

In the end, it's just a part of growing up. Which is why I suggest to anyone that they not let those moments go by.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ahhh, the Sierra's

Just got back from the Mammoth Lakes region in the Sierra's. There were afternoon thunderstorms which made foe some pretty sunsets. Anyway, here's a few pics from the weekend.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fish and Women? Only a Man Could see it.

Seems like I put a lot of posts up on fishing trips. Occassionally, it has to do with the fact that we caught some serious fish. But, more often than not, it's because it's such a quality time with my son.

I've learned that one of the best ways to teach, and be taught, is to have a day on a body of water looking for fish. If it's an overniter, I defy anyone to say they get 24 hours of quality time with a child like that.

Some of the things we have both learned while fishing? Patience, respect, pushing past the tough moments, shared joy, the value of a good joke, taking in beauty when it's around you, and working as a team.

I've watched Kyle mature on a trip as tuna are boiling around the boat and his reel gets a birds nest. Last year, I would have passed my reel off to him while I fixed his mess. This year, he handles it and gets back to business. He's really growing up.

Unfortunately, all this is in grave peril. Recently, Kyle's started styling his hair and taking showers with soap. Girls are definitely amassing on the horizon. I'm wondering if he's ready. Then I realize, he understands patience, respect, pushing past the tough moments, shared joy, taking in beauty when it's around you, and working as a team. I think he'll be okay....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Wild Kingdom in Omaha

We just got back from Omaha. We were out visiting my mom, who has lung cancer, along with the rest of the Bayer Clan. It was pretty emotional to see everyone, including a couple of nieces and nephews I'd not met before.

It's been close to 10 years since I'd been back to visit. Some things had changed; more gray hairs, people softer around the edges, less worry about stuff and more enjoyment of the moment.

One thing that hadn't changed was the culinary tour of Omaha. It started with Angus aged steaks (Nothing like them, ever!), continued on with an apple and melted brie omelet, then spinach and artichoke calzone, and finally Jamaican jerk bean soup and club sandwiches. Pound for pound (pun intended), you can't beat Omaha for good eating. Go figure!

My mom looked good,all things considered, though she was definitely a bit weary. I only saw one spark from her all weekend, and when I did I couldn't help but grin because I knew she was in there somewhere still fighting. Bottom line, cancer sucks.

Anyway, from L to R: Josephine, Kyle, Jay, Colin, and Emory- the latest incarnation of the family.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Deep Creek in Springtime

Kyle and I went hiking into Deep Creek in search of the native rainbow and Brown Trout. Didn't catch any, but still enjoyed a beautiful morning scrambling over boulders with the sounds of rushing waters at our side.

When we got home, we found a note on the table. Seems Tami went on her own adventure; to the Carson Convention Center for a Stamping Expo. To each his (or her) own!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bendo, Baby!

So, Kyle & I are sitting around trying to figure out how to afford more fishing trips. Understand that when we go out, everything cost double out of pocket because it's two of us. Kyle was lamenting that he couldn't earn enough money as a 13 year old to make a significant dent.

I was holding onto a logo design, which I proposed to him to develop as a fishing apparel company to earn a little money for fishing. It's called BENDO, a slang term for when your rod is bent from having a fish on. So, on the shoe-stringiest of budgets, we made some hats and sold them pretty quickly. Most were sold to the very genuine & decent anglers on

Now we have some seed money to try a t-shirt. The design above is a collage collaboration between Kyle & I called "Tuna Slam." Hopefully, folks will get excited about it.

The best part of the whole thing has been working with Kyle on this venture. Granted, he has 13 year old attention span sometimes, but he also has 13 year old energy and unabashed enthusiasm, A win-win for both of us!!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Try" Rugby

With yet another winter storm bearing down on us, we made the escape to San Diego for the IRB 7's International Rugby Tourney. If you have never been to an international match, it's an amazing cultural experience. The best part, though, is my brother and his team, Hyde Rugby, are also out for the games. Since we only get to see Tal once a year, we really go all out and enjoy it.

If you happen to get Fox Sports Network (FSN) on your cable TV, look for the documentary on Hyde Rugby, which is running all month. You'll find through watching it that the players are phenomenal young men. Tami got to meet them this year and see first hand why Kyle and I love the tourney and the guys on the Hyde team.

Of course, when we finally made it home, we were greeted with 2 feet of new snow to shovel....

Pics are of the tourney, my bro, the Mexico National team, and Kyle & I with the Hyde Rugby players, and the rugby family.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Like Smoke Through a Keyhole

One of my favorite movies is Bucket List, with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It's bittersweet, but with a message that life's to short to short your life. One of the lines in the movie is "Like smoke through a keyhole...." I'm not exactly sure what that means, though it referenced time passing by so quickly, but it seems to make perfect sense and it's got a lyrical quality when spoken.

That's kind of how my relationship with my folks has been the last ten years. Like smoke through a keyhole.... It started with one of those heated family arguments where neither side saw fit to compromise. After a bit, it was an uncomfortable distance, slowing leading to life just getting on down the road. A child, a family, a career, up and downs and adventures. And ten years gone by.

Now, my mom has lung cancer with some serious chemo & radiation in her future. She's just mean enough to beat it, but then again..... Sometimes I look at her and think about how amazingly stubborn she is only to realize that the same trait was passed on to me.

I'm not naive enough to think that there's a storybook ending in all of this. No emotional reconnection on grand scale. But, when the chance comes, I will tell her I appreciate many of things she did give and that we shouldn't go another ten years without talking.

Today's photo's are right after a massive snow storm. The clouds lifted right about sunset, making our little valley a beautiful winter landscape.