7, 2008
By Roger Emile Stouff

Surprisingly, I have little to say today.

Must be the weather. Kinda silly, the weather is. Cool nights, warm days. Not complaining! And when you get right down to it, the grass isnít growing and thatís a good thing.

Nice little rain we had yesterday. My yard needed it, the cracks in the ground were beginning to remind me of the Great Rift Valley.

Got to go fishing in the bay last weekend, and let me tell you, rushing across it at 45 mph at 6 a.m. on a cold morning is a teeth-chattering experience! But I managed my first keeper redfish, about 18-20 inches, but not on a fly. Dangit! I was fishing bait, yes, I admit it, bait. The current was too strong, and there were four of us in the boat, which makes slinging 50-60 feet of fly line and leader with a hook at the end a recipe for disaster. I also got two undersized reds and three really nice black drum, as well as a whole school of hardhead catfish. One managed to fin me in the right index finger, just a prick, but it hurt like the dickens. Being the man that I am, I hardly screamed at all.

Once, while fishing the big chinquapin run on the beach at Grand Lake, I found a good nest of Ďem and caught a few right off the bat. Well, every fisherman on the lake saw it happen and next thing I knew, six boats were surrounding the same spot I was.

"Uh, fellas, you mind?" I asked.

There was no reply.

So I started slinging 60 feet of fly line around again. Nothing malicious, just thatís how you cast a fly line, it goes all the way behind you and all the way in front of you to make the cast. Well, it was like Moses parting the Red Sea, and I fished in solitude after that.


Mr. Bogart is now 10 months old and weighs in at 55 lbs. last time I checked. Itís been awhile, he might be near or at 60 by now. I donít think heíll get as big as I expected. And thatís good, because he is a 55-pound nuclear reactor. The young man is powerful. Heís lanky and all muscle in the chest and hindquarters.

And fast. That dog is fast. Bogie can be at my side one second and a 100 yards away and still accelerating the next. Smart as the dickens, too. So smart, in fact, that he canít get away with much by acting stupid, because we know better. Unfortunately, we canít get away with much either by the same principle. Iím telling you, if Bogie had an opposable thumb, heíd be in charge around our house.

Labs, of course, are the worst chewers, but heís been amazingly good. Here, however, is a partial list of the things Bogie has chewed to shreds since he came to stay with us:

Misc. paper objects (Diet Coke cartons, paper towel rolls, etc.)

The herb garden (He smelled like peppermint, basil and such for weeks.)

Several pounds of limestone from the driveway.

Several pounds of twigs, sticks and logs.

His water bowl.

About 6 feet of old crown molding he pulled out of the woodpile.

Sandpaper. 400 grit, so it should have polished his innards up nicely!

That sort of thing. His matriarch, Daisy, our 14-year-old Lab, as a puppy consumed galvanized water pipe and a trailer hitch ball, so Bogieís still running a distant second.

Meanwhile, back at the ranchÖ

My father used to say that a lot. Any given opportunity, anyway. Oddly, though, when weíd be visiting kinfolks in town and it was time to go, heíd usually say, "Well, I guess itís time for us to head back to the shack," and as a child, I believed ranches were shacks. Our house was a two bedroom old wood frame house that his father had started building, and my father finished off. I thought of it therefore as a ranch, which translated to a shack. I was very confused about architectural styles for many, many years, you can tell.

Dad used to always try to speak French. Heíd throw out some string of French sounding words, and my mother would roll her eyes in exasperation. I donít know if she was trying to teach him or he was teaching himself, but as a Chitimacha Indian, born and raised in north Texas, then transplanted back to the Rez as a young adult, he never quite mastered Cajun French. But it certainly wasnít through lack of trying.

Of course, itís getting near December, and thatís when I think of him a lot more, he left this world to join his grandfathers in December.

Iíve told this story before, but it bears repeating, and I remind myself of it often. Throughout my growing up years, when Iíd do something stupid or couldnít figure out something, heíd remark, "Dang, boy, I taught you everything I know and you still donít know nothing."

I trotted along with that for many, many years. When I could fix the fuel filter on the car, heíd say it. When I wrecked the cabin boat he built by hitting a log he said it. You get the idea.

I was well into my 20s before it occurred to me. I said, "But pop, doesnít that mean you donít know nothing?"

He stuck out his hand and shook mine.

"íBout time," he grinned.