I’m a Kid Again.

I have been so busy that I haven’t had time to write. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it is just that I have my first grandchild (granddaughter) due in 12 weeks and my daughter lives at home. 

I’m getting as much as I can done as fast as I can to get the house ready for her. Back in December the ceiling caved in several rooms of our house. We knew the roof was bad but thought it could be put off until spring. We were were wrong!  I tried doing the roof myself, due to lack of funds but I really wasn’t skilled enough. Between rain and rotted wood and my PTSD I became very depressed. I literally cried out on Facebook for help and people came in numbers.  If you doubt that there are still good people in the world, that is not at all true. 

The interior work I have been doing little at a time. I can do that. Right now I am working on making one room into a nursery. I found that the exterior wall is more rotted than it seemed until I took the Sheetrock down. I had to rebuild and reinforce a lot of that.  After this is done, I have to redo a bathroom because the one operable one we have has a shower only. We need a bath for that grand baby before she is born. I definitely don’t want to expose her to rot and mold and dust etc. 

So why am I happy and feeling like a kid again with all this stress. Because I have PTSD and it is under control through it all. Plus I haven’t had to give up my fly tying or rod building. 

Again thanks to nice people I have supplies. Fly tying is fairly expensive but people like William from Eastern Trophies constantly helping me with materials and personal one on one instruction, Nicole March at the Quilted Tyler teaching me how to tie trout flies, giving me material and volunteering her time to help me and other disabled veterans at our local Project Healing Waters, and people from all over the country reading my blog, twitter and Facebook posts sending me beautiful feathers making it feel like Christmas every day.

( These beautiful feathers came in a package today from an Native American reservation in Missouri.)
Then to top it all off, trout season starts Saturday! So yes, I’m feeling like a kid and it is mostly due to wonderful people who care. Not just because I am a veteran, but because they are just awesome people!  

So I just wanted to thank everyone. The people that have helped me with the house. My daughter for bringing new life into my home, the people teaching me to learn how to stay calm by getting out on a stream to fly fish, tie flies etc, and all who read and communicate with me through my posts. I am stuck at home a lot and this it often the only way I do get to socialize. 

Thank You All!

Today’s Salmon Fly. Tail is from yellow parrot feather I received in the package of feathers today. 

Building a 6’6″ 1 wt.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Is having a beginner level rod building contest. I broke the tip off the 2wt one they gave me to build (twice). 😬 Thankfully they let me try a 5wt. It was a bit tougher for my shaky yet monster paws. After building the rod (which came out nice), I decided to try an ultralight again. So I bought a 6’6″ 1wt blank. I’m proud of this one so far. I think it is going to be the one I turn in for the contest. I’m even inlaying some flies and flash 🤗 into the cork grip. The epoxy build-up process is slow. It’s hard to keep the clarity because air bubbles want to form, but I think I’m doing ok so far; how about you? ​

The Blizzard of 2017 (and more to come?)

For the past month we have had spring weather here in upstate New York; upper 50’s and even near 70. Last week I mentioned needing the cabin fever to go away. My depression was at its worse and for two days I had hopes of it being gone for a while. I told you all that if the weather kept up I’d be out fishing this week. Well that did not happen!  We had one of the worst blizzards I can recall yesterday. In fact the news called it a “Bombo Genesis”.  (To my southern friends, I never heard that phrase either but I believe it meant bad blizzard.) We got about 30 inches of snow in less than 24 hours and now are being told that we are getting more on Saturday. I don’t think that I am wading into a trout stream this week.

Fortunately though, my depression is still under control. I feel good!  Besides the blizzard, yesterday was also my 25th wedding anniversary.  How my beautiful wife has stuck with me so long when I have had a roller coaster ride of PTSD and depression since before we met, I don’t know. I think she may actually be my guardian angel. Due to the storm she was home from work, so I didn’t have to face it alone. We got to spend our anniversary together in a our home with a wood stove burning at both ends keeping it toasty inside. We celebrated our anniversary Sunday because we knew the storm was coming. We brought in plenty of wood and prepare for power outages. We were ready, even if we had to use the wood stove to cook on.

I know that it is corned beef month, but we already had it twice, and we’re having it again Friday. I hope my new waders fit me when I do get out there. So yesterday knowing how cold it would be my wife planned a nice turkey dinner with all of the fixings (Thanksgiving style).  I made the gravy when I came in to eat, because for some reason after cooking such a great meal she doesn’t feel confident thickening the juices.  After all that, my daughter baked a hot apple pie that we covered with vanilla ice cream before it cooled. We were all safe, warm, full and most importantly together through the storm.

So yes, I literally faced a storm. With the love of my family my depression not only stayed at bay, but it was a wonderful day in spite of natures plans. I did have a nightmare last night although and woke up afraid; but it wasn’t due to my PTSD.  I dreamed that my pregnant daughter as she often does, finished all of the ice cream (and yes I love it no matter how cold it is outside).  So me and my dog Sadie went to the kitchen to find out it was safe and of course helped ourselves to some. Then feeling safe again I went back to bed.

They are calling for more snow on Saturday, but again my family will here with me. I know we can do it again. This time it is St. Patty’s day weekend so corned beef it will be (instead of turkey).  The truth is I believe that I shouldn’t have a problem staying strong; and that is something I rarely can say.

This may not be a post on how I am healing from fly fishing, but it is a post that shows I am healing. I went from wanting to be in seclusion to wanting to be with family and friends and that is definitely improvement no matter the source. I am definitely feeling blessed right now!

Just Another Heartfelt Mention

As you know from my post the other day Remembering a Hero  America lost a true friend in SFC Brian Mancini.  When I was just searching for the ABC Special that I shared in my last post Gala for Saratoga Warhorse I happened to see Brian’s face.  Brian attended another form of equine therapy and a small segment of his experience is in this YouTube video.  I never met him when he was alive, so it was nice to see video of when he was.

I do not know how Brian died and I am not going to blame his PTSD or other war wounds unless they are factual.  I do know for a fact although, as a person that has been suffering with PTSD for 20, 25, maybe even more years, it is a killer.  Without constant therapy it is nearly impossible to want to live.

I did read Brian’s obituary to find out more about him.  I was amazed how many things he did to try helping others like himself.  I try to do the same but I cannot compare. It takes everyone to chip in on helping veterans.  I am one but I am not speaking for my own benefit.

When I say please help, I am begging. Your donation of time or money will save lives; many of which would have been death by suicide. The thought comes and goes for me and others like me.  This has been a good week, but as Brian says in the above video “It’s a roller coaster”

So do not think that you cannot make a difference or that someone else should do it.  Do what you can and do it right away. PLEASE!

Gala for Saratoga Warhorse

I got the email about the Gala for Saratoga Warhorse’ Gala. As you know by now if you’ve been reading my posts, equine therapy is a great way used to help veterans to heal.  Like Project Healing WatersSaratoga Warhorse is not affiliated with the VA but doctors from the VA do highly recommend them.  I always like to share the song that I wrote for Warhorse “Hero Look me in the Eyes”.

I was introduced to Saratoga Warhorse one night by watching an ABC News Special about them.  The special brought me to tears and I told myself that I wished I could have an opportunity like that. I did a search for the foundation, found their website and sent them a contact email  explaining my situation.  The next night, Bob Nevins (Founder of Warhorse and Vietnam Veteran) called me from his cell phone and invited me to attend.

I told him I wanted to get in as soon as possible and he told me that they only run small groups of about 5 vets through the program one three-day weekend per month. That is so each veteran gets the full experience with the horses and the people involved with the program.  He said that they were book for several months unless I was willing to jump in last minute and go that weekend.  They still had an opening or someone had cancelled.  I jumped at the chance and said yes (before I even explained to my wife what the program was) and within the same week of wishing I could go, I was there.

As you can see the experience really affected me or I wouldn’t be writing this post.  I don’t know that the one day with the horse changed my life forever, but the people their will definitely be in my heart that long.

This is a truly legitimate cause.  I know by fact that a lot of the big veteran support groups out there that you see advertising on television with celebrities are more about paychecks for themselves and sadly less about the veteran.

You may be like me and cannot afford to go to the Gala or live too far away to attend, but even small donations would help them out.  When this group takes a veteran in, they pay for airline tickets, nice hotel rooms, food and of course the experience.  Those who had a later flight out the next day, or drove as I did, got a tour of Saratoga, watch horses run the practice track and meet and talk to the horse owners (who are also some of the biggest donors). It is expensive for them to do!  I do what I can to help and that is writing thank you cards to donors for them. They told me that I could just write a general letter to use for everyone, but I hand wrote every card.  Some donors appreciated me sharing my experience with them so much that they called Warhorse and told them that they’d be continuous sponsors. One even copied the card and sent it to Warhorse staff to show them why they liked it so much.  It was like a thank you for a thank you.

So if you are able to go to the Gala they’d appreciate your company and support. But, if you are willing and able to help them in any way with just a small donation, in addition to other small donors it would go a long way to help veterans with PTSD.

Two Days in a Row

After a week of anxiety and depression I woke this morning feeling good for the second day in a row.  For some of you that isn’t much of a record, but for me it is a bar set high.  I have a few chores to do around the house that will likely take the rest of the week; but then next week if the weather stays fairly nice it is time to get rid of the cabin fever!

Trout  season here in NY for the most part does not start until April 1st but there are a few places close by that they stock often and are open year ’round.  I have tied so many flies this winter.  I just have to get out and soak them in a stream. There really isn’t a hatch of any sort that I’ve noticed or heard of so i’ll try a few small nymphs at the bottom of some deeper pools. I have noticed worms crawling near the surface of the ground, so I’ll likely drop a few small ones that I’ve made in as well.

Lets go for two weeks of happiness instead of two days this time. I’m even OK with Mondays being miserable like everyone else’s.  Not that’s a goal!

(Please Remember that I get much of my healing support from Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. Please do what you can to help a disabled veteran find a chapter in their home area and maybe make a donation to them if you can.)

Made a Hobby Room

desk2I made a room of my house into a fly tying/hobby room. Just picked up a cheap desk today and put a glass tabletop on it with my POW-MIA flag under it. Going to need better light but I am loving this room. I couldn’t imagine if my granddaughter starts crawling and I had hooks throughout the house. I always said “Safety first “.  But then again I followed that up with “now slowly squeeze the trigger”.  Anyhow I’m enjoying my new home. I even put a nice chair with ottoman and a twin bed in case I want to read, write or sleep and my wife and dogs are snoozing loudly in our bedroom.

Oh…and about the dogs…Why is it that my “supposed service dog” follows my wife to bed and the toy poodle follows me?  At least someone loves me.  But I think i’d be a little embarrassed carrying him around in public with a service dog vest.  I guess I am in the closet about loving the little poodle.  Oh well…I could be a worse person.

Have a good night all!

Thank You!

Many of my friends have been following my blog posts, and I have met new ones in the short few weeks that I have been blogging. My last post “What’s Next?” brought much attention to the pain and suffering that I experience from my mental health. 

This page is not only about what it is like to have these illnesses, but what it is like to heal or at least feel better through the help of others. I mention Healing Waters Fly Fishing so often because besides my family and friends, there is no better way for me to enjoy life. I really love fly fishing now; hence my blogs name. 

I have also always been the guy that wants to give in return. Even though these organizations see it as their way to help me and veterans like me in return for our service, I want to turn back around and find ways of helping them continue so that more people can find healing. 

I just started a website called fliesforlives.com in order to do just that. Right now it is only directed to this page because it is not ready to publish yet. 

What I plan to do with this site is to start a completely nonprofit to give aid to organizations like this and more. These people have given me the ability to tie flies and to make and repair rods. I have also become efficient at repairing reals. 

So I plan to find good wholesalers to work with for buying and selling fishing supplies. People who want to donate money to an organization can donate directly to them. But if they want to buy themselves items knowing that 100% of the proceeds go to a charity then they will have this option. 

Beyond money though, I will be taking donations of rods and reels new, used, good condition or needing repair; then taking these items and donating to other legitimate nonprofits whether it is veterans or poor children, etc. 

maybe someday I’ll even be taking cash donations or putting large orders in for chances to win fishing trips. The idea I have there is to not only raise money for charity but to be able to send healing veterans on these trips along with the winners. 

There is still a lot of planning to do but I hope that you can see that my heart is in it. If you follow my page you will see how I am healing. You’ll see that not all of my blogs are about my pain and suffering. And mostly you can stay up to date on the progress of my own charity.  It may not be up and running for several months, but if you have old rods, reels, waders or anything to do with fishing, you can contact me and I will give you information on where to send it. 

Thank you all so much for caring!