Happiness Is…

…a new set of boat plans!

The postman was kind enough to deliver to me Wednesday a set of boat plans from Swan Boat Design in California.

It was like Christmas all over again.

The plans arrived in a nondescript brown envelope a couple of inches thick. While I was tempted to tear it open gleefully, I took care to do so without risking tearing my beloved plans.

The plans are for a design called the Nez Perce 16, a 15-foot six-inch flat-bottomed skiff of the type once abundant in the Pacific Northwest. Though those historic boats were planked with solid wood, this is a plywood-on-frame version.

And an elegant little boat it is! With a gentle swell from the transom forward to about two-thirds up her hull, then curving into a graceful stem, the Nez Perce only has three or four inches of rise at the bow, which should make for a sharp, dry entry in a moderate chop. The sides flare nicely, and should pitch water away from the boat as she goes, rather than over the rail and onto me!

I laid out the plans on my bench in the shop, poured over them as if . . . → Read More: Happiness Is…


Well, here it is January, and temperatures are cooling again. Plus it’s going to get wet, so they say.

It was a pretty nice semi-warm spell. Kept me in the yard a little more, even if only to grumble about how long it is until spring.

The Satsuma crop is largely done, and I miss them already. If anyone has any left they want to get rid of, I am open to bribes for a good mention in this column, though I reserve the right to refuse any one at any time my reference.

I was eating two, or three a day. I found that not only do I adore them, but Bogie, our yellow Lab, does too. I would grab one out of the fridge and sit in my chair to eat it with a couple paper towels to wipe my hands and chin with, and Bogie would park himself in front of me and drool. He doesn’t drool if I’m eating cereal or a burger or most anything else, but when I am devouring a Satsuma, it’s like somebody opened the faucet. I let him have one or two segments, and he wags his tail as if . . . → Read More: Middling


Cheerful! Cheerful, dangit, cheerful!

Granted, the weather has improved significantly. My mood is not nearly so foul as it has been. It’s warmer, and despite the considerable chance of rain today, I am mildly heartened.

But it comes with a bit of bad news. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced last week that they will cease publication of their magazine, Louisiana Conservationist this spring after a 50-year run.

It’s due to budget cuts mandated by the governor across the board, as well as the “streamlining” commission he set up.

The magazine, which is published four times a year for $12 a subscription, has been a link between the department and the public for half a century. It always contains something worth reading, often more than one. I have had an article published there myself.

The LDW&F has always been underfunded and understaffed. It has also been a less-profiled source of budget cuts than health and hospitals and education.

That’s really an abomination for a state that calls itself “The Sportsman’s Paradise.” Most of its revenues come from oil and gas revenues, a fraction of a percent, and license sales, fees and fines.

By LDW&F calculations released in . . . → Read More: Cuts

Living in a Daydream

Trying my best to be less melancholy and more cheerful. It ain’t working at all.

After three or four half-hearted starts at writing something funny, I gave up. I’m not there. I’m not feeling it, so I apologize in advance. I am incapable of pontificating on anything that’s not important to me, or on my mind at the moment. I do not begrudge you going to read Dr. Gott. Not much, anyway.

Forgive me. I am entrapped and shackled, and can think of little else. I can smell nothing but pine and dogwood. I am focused like a pointing dog, like a prowling cat, on a singular daydream: Out there. Far and away. I’ve been behind shut doors too long.

Though the weather is warming, there’s rain on the horizon. Swell, just swell. I know lots of guys are fishing the bay in this weather; some may be fishing for sac-au-lait in the basin; of course, hunters have been out for months now. I am, it is clear, something of a woose: Me and the cold do not see eye-to-eye, as you know. So my complaints herein do hereby acknowledge my admitted wimpy status when it comes to cold, . . . → Read More: Living in a Daydream


Not getting out much. Who can stand it? Polar bears, I guess. Grouse and ducks, and foxes.

Not me. I go outside for a cigar and that’s about it. Even then, I try to stay in the workshop where a little ceramic heater is laboring futilely to warm even so small a space. But after a bit, the smell of smoke hangs motionless in the shop, so when the sun comes out I’ll go stand in the yard and watch the horizon for signs of spring, though I’m bound in a thick coat, double-socked and hands clenched against the cold in padded pockets.

Mostly, I’m in the house, watching the tube, playing on the computer. I thought about tying flies, but last winter I tied gobs of the few flies that I can’t get commercially, and I lost so few of them last year I have oodles remaining. Not much point, except as a time-killer. I sit sometimes at my piddling desk in my piddling room, and the two windows that face the bayou are like a voyeuristic look on some far away place, far beyond my back yard.

Of course, I know it’s too early to be looking . . . → Read More: Seeing


And I submit: BRRRR!!!

You know of course I don’t like cold. To me, 40s is cold. This week? Utter misery.

And I submit again: What the dickens is the use of living in the deep South if temperatures are going to get into the 20s and possibly lower?

I have had it up to here with the climate. I pledge to start a whole new movement, now that global warming seems to be losing steam, pardon the pun.

I’ll call it the Coalition To Ban The Climate movement.

That’s right, I’m saying no climate, whatsoever. No winter, no summer, no nothing. Strip the atmosphere from the planet and we’ll all live in space suits and…

Wait, that’s no good. That’d be too cold.

Okay, how about we pump as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere to warm things up and all move to the poles to enjoy a temperate climate?

Uhm…naw, I don’t think we’d all get along so cramped together up there.

So what’s the solution? Even Florida is freezing this week. News reports of the day indicate fears for the orange crop. Now that’s when we’ve hit all new lows, when Florida gets into the 20s . . . → Read More: Brrr!