Monday, May 30, 2011

The Call of the Cicadas

I knew it was coming. I remembered 13 years ago when they last tried to take over our world. For weeks, they ruled the air as we scurried to safety, flailing our arms to ward off their aerial attacks and screaming when they grabbed us with their six legs. Most horrible, though, were their inhuman cries, which rose to a fiendishly-loud buzzing crescendo a few days after their arrival. Eventually, the terror relented, but we were warned they would be back. We had not seen the last of them. Far from the last of them.

And, three weeks ago … they returned.

They scratched and clawed their way from their underground lairs and crept to the surface. Most did this while we slept, cloaked within the secrecy of night. Within hours, they shed their exoskeleton, revealing a revolting-looking, many-legged, winged, albino creature with huge, curled wings. Incredibly, it got more horrible, as the white thing-from-another-world somehow “dried,” revealing their monstrous orange eyes. Their shell casings piled up in our yards as they proliferated and eventually took wing … and then the buzzing began.

I write this from the relative safety of my house. Only, my home has become a cell. Outside my prison walls, they are everywhere. At night, they scratch and claw at my windows while thousands perch in trees. Waiting. Watching. Plotting. By day, they explode forth to the air, and deafen me with their horrible, incessant cries. It grows louder through the daylight hours, reaching its peak in late afternoon. I cannot accurately describe the sound … it’s as if an enormous weed-eater hovers just above our world, waiting to be lowered and mince us to death. It never stops. Unrelenting. Punishing.


I worry the soundtrack of my life is now one of madness. Perhaps that is their plan. As best as I can tell, they do not bite. They do not sting. Their weapon is more insidious. More powerful. A psychological WMD. A relentless assault on the mind.

The talking heads on the news tell us the invasion will be turned away in mere days, but I cannot believe them. There are simply too many. When I peek out the drawn shades, the demonic orange of their lifeless eyes greets me. To meet their stare is to look deep into the heart of insanity. Perhaps, I have looked too often, gazed too long; allowed them to corrupt my soul through the windows of my own eyes. It is these thoughts that haunt me. I cannot rest.

Lately, they have started to pair up, resulting in what appears to be a super bug, twice as long as the normal ones. This cannot be good. I think they are starting to breed. They are making more. Oh, the horror. The horror.

But, hey, the fishing’s great!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Post Troutfest 2011

Setting up for Day One of Troutfest 2011

It’s 11 a.m. Outside, it’s unseasonably cold, there’s a persistent drizzle and the nearby mountains are completely obscured by clouds. Usually hot-natured, this morning, I’m wrapped in a fleece blanket, sitting on a couch, watching the Travel channel and typing on my computer. Betsy and I have put life on hold for at least a morning, and we’re enjoying a lazy, restful day after a very intense – but fun – weekend.

Troutfest 2011 was held this past Saturday and Sunday, and as mentioned in my previous posts, I participated as a vendor in the fly-fishing exposition for the third consecutive year. As in previous years, the event was really good – full of friends, fun, fantastic food and, of course, fly-fishing fanatics. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see some fellow vendors who we’ve befriended in past shows; I was floored by the number of repeat customers who made time to stop by my booth and express their appreciation of my artwork (thanks Sophia, Keith, Bobby, Gail, Charity, David, Barry, Matt, Dan, Doug, Gary and Gary!); and, of course, I got a huge kick out of meeting a ton of new people.

The Sharley booth

It’s not Troutfest if it doesn’t rain, and the 2011 didn’t buck that tradition. Storms threatened throughout Saturday, but the sun made regular appearances, helping to maintain an impressive number of attendees. Sunday, however, featured cold weather and a pesky drizzle, forcing many to stay in the warm, dry comfort of their homes. Can’t say I blame them, but I certainly appreciated those who braved the elements to stop by the Townsend Visitor Center to spend some time learning a little bit more about the fly-fishing scene.

As in past Troutfest events, fly-fishing royalty was on hand, and Lefty Kreh, Joe Humphries and Bob Clouser showcased their skill and stamina by hosting an array of instructional clinics and fly-tying demonstrations. With each of these gentlemen, just a few moments of watching and listening to them can lead to a lifetime of learning. All anglers – whether you wave the long rod, or prefer more conventional tackle – owe a lot to these guys.

Lefty holds court on Day Two

But, it didn’t stop there. Little River Outfitters’ Byron Begley and the rest of the Troutfest organizers attracted an impressive roster of fly-tiers (including my frequent co-angler, David Perry from Southeastern Fly, and new friend, Eddy Whitson of the Clinch River Trout Unlimited Chapter), the Itinerant Angler Zach Matthews and the 2011 Angler of the Year, Tom Rosenbauer.

Lefty uses the Force to direct his fly line

Sunday evening, after Betsy and I finished deconstructing our booth and loading up our vehicle, we spent the remaining hours driving through the nearby mountains and even made a quick visit to Cades Cove. Despite the rain and the fog, we ended a really eventful weekend by spotting a couple of bears and at least 75 deer. They were literally everywhere.

One of a bunch from Cades Cove

Today, we’re resting up and trying to spend the next 48 hours both agenda- and (relatively) stress-free. Work, our new house construction and all the anxiety that goes with both will have to wait until Wednesday. Until then, we’re takin’ it easy.

A deer

I swear it's a bear

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New images - Troutfest

These paintings, along with several others, will make their debut at this weekend's Troutfest in Townsend, Tenn. Come on by my booth, and see the framed versions of the newest creations.

See you there!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Head for the mountains

It’s just a couple of weeks away and I can’t wait. The annual Troutfest fly-fishing expo will take place on May 14-15 in Townsend, Tenn., and for the third consecutive year, I’ll participate in the event as an artist vendor. With the Great Smoky Mountains providing the backdrop, this two-day festival will be one of the largest venues for fly-anglers in the Southeast.

Troutfest 2011 is sponsored by the Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Proceeds from the event are donated to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fisheries Department, Friends of the Smokies Fisheries Scholarship Fund and other youth educational conservation projects.

Troutfest presents a Mount Rushmore of fly-fishing, with angling deities Lefty Kreh, Joe Humphreys, Bob Clouser and 2011 Angler of the Year Tom Rosenbauer all appearing at the event. My good buddy and fly-fishing guide David Perry of Southeastern Fly will be one of the featured fly-tyers. Fly shops, other artists, non-profit organizations and government fish and game agencies will also participate, along with a steady stream of musical acts and a constant offering of good food.

I’ll have a booth in one of the vendor tents, and will be offering an array of artwork for sale, including several new, never-seen-in-public paintings.

The exposition will be held at the Townsend Visitors Center, and will be open to the public on Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Admission is free.

For more information, please visit:

The Troutfest 2011 Facebook page