Pete's original writings from the Heart of the World, plus fly-tying

Thursday, September 23


stretches to
recall summer's
expanding skies -
a return to
panoramic detail
within our
sun-filled eyes

Wednesday, September 1


Nothing in this reflection about America is meant as commentary on any other country. A lot of folks on the forums I visit finish their entries with "my 2 cents"- a good idea. Since there are about 6 and 1/2 billion of us so far, here's my "one six-and-a-half billionth" of a cent:

I'm one of those who believes that America originated within a divine impulse, a momentum built for individual effort, creativity, ingenuity, expansive spirit, and understanding of the interrelatedness of our shared resources and the effects of our efforts. But according to the news, we are strongly polarized in many areas of our lives: political, cultural, religious, financial, etc. We are acting like two sides of a coin - some of us are on one side and some the other. The division is especially strong right now and there doesn't seem to be any way around it. How can we truly live beyond constant opposition as we cycle back & forth between one side and the other? How can we keep from getting caught up in one side or another of America's story and live so that everyone is reasonably satisfied? How can we truly live beyond opposites?

While it's true that revelations can enter one's life unexpectedly, the only formal answer I know lies in the world’s religions and, more specifically, their spiritual aspects. Every religious and spiritual tradition that I know of has accounts of the experience of "Unity", of Unity beyond all opposites, the Divine Ground of All Being. Usually limited to "saints" and such, in reality it's everyone's birthright and closer than you might have been led to believe. There is an individual experience "waiting" for each of us that will forever change our limited perspective.

The "coin of opposites" is within ourselves and expressed in the tangents we initiate when we live as if we were "exclusive" individuals. Once having experienced Unity, we are no longer only individuals. A new understanding, universal in nature, is born, and opposites lose their extreme significance.

Sunday, June 6


I first heard about the Aspartame (NutraSweet®) controversy on "Fresh Air" from radio station WHYY. During her interview with host Terry Gross, guest Devra Davis, the Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, described Aspartame testing done by Italian researchers who extended the usual 3-year testing protocol to 5 years. This exposure to Aspartame resulted in a large number of brain tumors in the subject mice. Davis added details of possible political influence in the final FDA approval of Aspartame. Her biggest concern, however, was in the possible effects long-term exposure to Aspartame might have on our kids.
As one of the many "alphas" waiting for a cure for Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency, I know that promising lab mice studies often prove misleading. As for the political shenanigans, I wouldn't be surprised but have no proof. Still, I've encouraged family and friends with kids to check ingredient labels and consider avoiding Aspartame. Better safe than sorry? Search "Aspartame" in Google and make an informed choice for your children's future.

Wednesday, May 12

Water moleciules

Water molecules
in a passing wave
move in a circular
sort of dance
as the wave passes
they swim in place
but remain -
they do not travel
off in the wave -
the wave does not
carry them away

Sunday, May 9

Eyes wide open, but . . .

After a year working with a great acupuncturist, it's clear to me from the regular presence of side-effects that the pharmaceutical industry does not understand the whole-body-system. Still, I need and use plenty of meds. As it happens, one of my inhalers has strongly accelerated the growth of cataracts in both eyes. One lens replacement surgery is done and the other is in a couple of weeks. No tying for weeks, until this morning.

Here's my copy of one of Richard Strolis' rabbit flies (Feb blog 26 entry). He used part of Fox Statler's Alewife Minnow design (tail, body, and ventral flash) and added a rabbit strip across the top. A real fine combination.

My second fly uses Eumer tubing, xx-large conehead, large monster disc, short strip of Finn Raccoon, a shorter piece of rabbit, some pearl angel hair, and 3d eyes.

I mounted a large fl. pink tube over a small clear tube, then tied a little angel hair 360 degrees on the large tube and added the xx-large conehead. Glued a short piece of raccoon zonker to the top of the conehead and a shorter piece of rabbit zonker to the bottom. Glued eyes on the conehead and finished off with a reversed monster disc. This combo was reported to really shake in the water but - surprise - I can't see well enough to tell! If it doesn't, I'll skip the conehead next time to lighten it up.

Monday, May 3


sweeps the limits
of who we think
we are, bringing
us home, where
the heart is


Sunday, May 2


The fog from

night-mind now

drips slowly

from the eaves,

leaving dry day

Monday, April 19


Arms raised and hair hanging,
Old Elm stops moving
in the early perfect sky

Sun comes like
Precise Squirrel, feather-tailed
in Sprucehouse

Breeze lifts Still-Bird,
        twitches her song

Sunday, April 4


Love is
always nearer,
a fountain
from the Heart
of the World
in our own

Friday, April 2


We're called
to live the Truth
in our Heart of Hearts,
choosing to release
the difficulties we
carry in our personal
stoking the coals
in our own fiery
furnace, illumining
all that is not Love

Wednesday, March 31


Three deer from
the heart of spring-
thin as paper,
wide as the woods-
remind me of
our three hearts,
and what i give up
being unreasonable
or mean-spirited.

Heart is renewal,
willing to call out
to that which doesn't
yet know love,
letting it run along
with running deer
thru impossible thickets,
white tails fluffed
to the sky,
opening deer eyes
in eternity.

Saturday, March 13


Non-eaters or
just drinkers,
i've known many
getting lighter,
shrinking here or there,
moving like kites,
learning how to look
other ways, and you
who enjoy food
are the lightest
of them all

Friday, March 5


Ours is a life
of opportunity
in each moment
to choose love

Thursday, March 4


The chip on
our shoulder
is the stone
blocking the
entrance to
the cave of
our own heart

Tuesday, March 2

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency is a rare genetic condition in which levels of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT), a protein produced in the liver and crucial to healthy lungs, are insufficient to perform their normal function. This protein's role is to neutralize/shut down defensive enzymes in the lungs as needed during routine maintenance or as defensive "battles" in the lungs progress. Deficient in this critical protein, the enzymes remain unchecked and, even when the threatening "event" is over, continue attacking the only target left: healthy lung tissue, resulting in "genetic" emphysema.

"It is now known that the low circulating levels of AAT in Alpha-1 are due to abnormal folding of the defective AAT in the endoplasmic reticulum of the liver leading to polymerization and accumulation of AAT in hepatocytes. Since the liver is the primary source of circulating AAT, this accounts for the decreased circulating levels of this important protein. The accumulation of polymerized abnormal protein in the hepatocytes appears to be the cause of the increased risk of cirrhosis and liver failure in individuals with Alpha-1."

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency was discovered in 1963 by Carl-Bertil Laurel at the University of Lund in Sweden, along with a medical resident, Sten Eriksson. A link with liver disease was established in 1969. A1AD is most common among people of Northern Europe descent. There is some belief that "A1AD originated in Scandinavia and during the Viking exploration was spread throughout northern and eastern Europe".

There is only one known therapy, an infusion done on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, that can temporarily slow the progression of the disease. Organ transplants are the last resort.

Alpha-1 Association

Alpha-1 Foundation

Medline Plus: Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

Genetics Home Reference: Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

National Human Genome Research Institute

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Research Database

Friday, February 26


The little kitten
is out of control,
springing straight
to the ceiling!
She's full of Space
and now,
claws dug in,
setting her tail,
hunts Time

Wednesday, February 24

Fly-tying: Simon's Squid

Simon Graham's Tube Raccoon Bunnies feature Finn Raccoon zonker tails and zonker-collared bodies for the foundation and go on from there. I'm really impressed with them and chose to try that style with my new raccoon zonkers. I thought "saltwater squid" and since his work was my inspiration, decided on "Simon's Squid". [Update: check out Simon's own squid versions on Striper SurfTalk, or his blog for version 1, version 2, as well as a neat way to thin raccoon collars without sacrificing fullness. Simon also drew my attention to this video about tying collars without the hide in a dubbing loop].

Starting with a Eumer large orange tube over a small clear tube insert, I tied on a length of Eumer's orange raccoon zonker for the tail. Over that went a dozen or so long slender purple saddles (Ken Abrames' RLS saddles). Then 2 more slender saddles- off-white and mottled to hint at the squid's "grabbers". Over that went a small bunch of Christmas tinsel, pearl and holo silver. OK, tail section completed.

For the body, I started with small pieces of orange, purple, and red raccoon tied around the shank and covering the tail tie-ins. Then came the palmered orange raccoon collar, followed by purple arctic fox as a contrasting head. The nose is finished off with a Eumer large orange cone.

Thank you, Simon. Thank you, Eumer.

Fly-tying: Olli Ojamo from Eumer

This past Saturday I went to the Fly Show sponsored by Scott at Bear's Den in Taunton, Massachusetts. This is a great show with lots of talented and well-known tiers. No admission fee.

I was looking forward to meeting Olli Ojamo of Eumer.

He tied a neat little baitfish pattern for me and, truth be told, I could fish with nothing but this simple but thoughtful fly and need no other.

Recipe: Start with Eumer silver teardrop body with red tubing as hook holder. Add a small bunch of white fox fur for "body" and profile. Add bit of white Finn Raccoon for underwing. Add piece of pearl flash for accent. Add bit of chartreuse Fin Raccoon for overwing. Add "short pinch" of chartreuse Finn Raccoon gathered from scrap-cuttings to the front of the wing as a sort of hair-hackle accent covering top and sides of shank. For final step add 2 peacock herls longer than the wing as topping. Cap it off with a Eumer cone.

Olli turned the fly over to show the underside and said a lot of fish hit from below and this is what they see. The red hook tube makes for a trigger point. The raccoon gives it a perfect teardrop taper. And I'm thinking that whether the long herl topping is traditional or not, from the bottom it makes a perfect tailfin impression, adding even more length to the fly with this slightest of suggestions. Simple fly- great design! Hey, change the white and chartreuse color scheme once in awhile and I'm a one-fly guy. Over time, of course, mischief alone will produce more styles than I could ever need or use....

Fly-tying: Finn Raccoon

I'd heard of Finn raccoon. Discovering Simon Graham's blog "Pike Fly Fishing Articles" showed me what you can do with it. Wow! Fly fishing for pike opens the door to a style of tying that is at once graceful and wild. I'd heard of Eumer tubes. Again, Simon's blog showed me Eumer in action. Simon's site is far-ranging and inspirational- worth a visit and a bookmark! I'd written to Simon with a question and in short order was tying with Eumer's Finn Raccoon.

My first raccoon fly might have become a Ray's Fly (white under yellow under olive under peacock herl with flash interspersed), but I've always had a fondness for adding lavender and/or violet. So I guess this makes it a variation of the Magog Smelt or maybe Silver Outcast, except for the glowing tarpon-style nose. No, I don't remember what I was thinking.

So, here's a "Rudolph", tied with flourescent red thread on an inline, wide-gap circle hook (Eagle Claw 7228), beginning just above the bend: white Finn Raccoon, over which is sparse pearl Angel Hair, over which is yellow Finn Raccoon, over which is sparse pearl Angel Hair, over which is lavender Finn Raccoon, over which is olive Finn Raccoon, finished with a tarpon-style nose with the red thread.

Thursday, February 18

Fly-tying: Belly Ache Minnow

This video from Front Range Anglers demonstrates a rabbit zonker variation. The big plus is Hareline Dubbin's ribbed tungsten body, which makes for a neat little fly.

Tuesday, February 16

Fly-tying: Albie Whore

Here's the Albie Whore by Richard Reagan. He uses hot glue and the steps are pretty simple. I like this fly for a change of pace. The body color showing through the front feathers is a nice effect.

Wednesday, February 10


Morning's the time
for all of the best,
and after Noon, renewal . .
Later on as we
gather around-
Wide open window
on weathered old singing-
Stories and friends enjewelled

Sunday, February 7


Fear is as flat
as a sheet of paper,
with nothing behind
it but our attention,
held up like a
mask, like blinders
on Horse, presently
Lost in the Parade

Thursday, February 4

Fly Tying: Ken Abrames


Ken Abrames is a friend of mine. His fly tying achievements center around multi-colored flatwings. A feather tail lying flat is encouraged to follow its natural inclination, swinging side-to-side, ever-shifting in the micro-currents along its length. Ken ensured this by tying in the feather right where its stiffest section transitions to suppleness. This is further enhanced by resting the transition zone on a dubbed pillow. Arranging the feathers and flash to allow them to spread out and "fill" with water, the fly is at peace and one with the water, reacting as "lighly as a feather in the watery winds". Tying sparsely allows the bucktail and other forward materials to move in concert with the currents as well.

Ken has a rich artistic background. He applies an impressionistic color sense to his bucktails and feathered flies. He hints at the ever-changing multi-color reflections of living bait with multi-color accents fully grounded in historical impressionist theory and application.

A fly designed to be fully activated by filling with water until it is one with the sea, enhanced by shifting colors that are inseparable from the living, moving water the fly now lives in ... A thoughtful, watchful presentation that optimizes the fly's drift ... Knowing it is well-formed and now genuinely independent, he fully "lets go" of the fly.  He lets go, paradoxically, as if he were fishing with live bait.

Sure, Ken's design is just one of many, many ways of tying a fly. But what a design! Adding his insights and innovations to your tying brings you into a larger continuum- decades of classic salmon presentation using a fly superbly attuned to its changing surroundings and tied with colors based on close observation and grounded in an important and much loved artistic tradition. He's generously shared these innovations. You are part of something bigger now.

Ken Abrames:
Website: Striper Moon 

Saturday, January 30

Fly-tying: The Aztec

The first fly I ever tied was the Aztec, a yarn fly created in the 70s by Dick Nelson. You could call it a yarn matuka. Or would it be a mohawk...

Lefty Kreh features a full page of Aztec variations in his Saltwater Fly Patterns. These include a baitfish, a bonefish fly, tarpon flies, and a squid. Doug Swisher was a fan of the Aztec and featured a sample tie on one of his early 3M/Scientific Anglers VHS tapes. There's a sample of an Aztec tie using acrylic yarn online at Fly Fishers Republic.

The Aztec was a fun tie. And cheap. Using acylic yarn, the colors available at the local fabric shop or discount store were extensive, and each color skein would last a lifetime. The yarn was pretty tough and had a lot of action. Mixing or blending colors and adding flash was simple.

Short, single plies of acrylic yarn are tied all along the top of the hook shank. Each ply is tied in the middle and the ends teased upwards. Tying without a bobbin, I used large spools of pearl or silver braid I found at the fabric shop instead of tying thread. Frequent applications of head cement held it all together. After the cement dried, it was a simple matter of brushing out the strands of yarn with a pet-brush and velcro stick. A little care's needed when brushing the yarn out - starting lightly out near the tips and working slowly down toward the hook shank to avoid snarls. Even though the individual plies, once separated, are thin, they sometimes retained the curl from the original twisting. Some colors, styles, or brands of yarn seemed worse than others - their plies would rather knot and shed in clumps. The tail section, usually longer if not thicker, needed greater care. Working slowly in toward the shank without losing much material came with practice. My yarn collection went to a local school's art teacher, but I did find some wool yarn to tie a sample. It's heavier stuff but still works.

Starting to untwist the 2-ply yarn

The separated plies, ready to use

Each ply, tied on in the middle and teased upwards. In this example, the plies are crowded for bulk. If they were acylic and spaced a little farther apart, they would have more action. Head cement (or your glue of choice) has been liberally added throughout these steps. It makes a sturdier fly for brushing-out (next 2 photos) as well as fishing.

Start the teasing out with your tool of choice. Here I've used the cat-brush. Work from the tips down to the shank. There's dubbing material left on the brushes and combs.

Fully brushed out

A light trim across the top with scissors makes for a tall/broad presentation.

Another trim, another effect

A third trim, another type of bait

Cat-brush, bone comb, velcro brush, scissors. The one thing to watch for is snarls/knots in the yarn. You'll invite more of them if you rush the brushing instead of working your way down the plies to the shank. Combing too soon almost guarantees trouble. You can work snarls out by teasing the knotted yarn with a narrow, thin object. If you try to force the issue you might pull out a hunk of material. Acrylic yarns vary by number of plies, thickness and stiffness of fibers, how tightly twisted they were, etc. Some will be easier to work with than others.

Another use of yarn fibers: Nick Curcione has used untwisted/brushed-out pieces of macrame yarn in place of ready-made fibers. He sticks with white and colors the fly as needed with markers. You could get by with one skein of white and a set of permanent markers. Labor-intensive, but a pretty light and inexpensive tying kit!

Wednesday, January 27

Birds of Peace

At rest, birds of peace
are serene, softly
calling to the Heart
of the World all
around them

To fly, their wings
start upward, expanding,
balancing heaven and earth

Then feathers gently close,
pushing down-

Peace soars,
lifting our hearts

Monday, January 25

Economy: Idle Idol

For a very small fee
you may worship
beneath the

Previous takers
now own a frown-
there's no