Well, here it is the 11th of January, temps in the seventies during the day, and roughly three months from the perch fishiní.

I have the shack nasties something awful.

Itís like cabin fever, but on the order of a dozen times worse. Cabin fever is when youíre fidgety and restless, wanting to get outdoors in the winter. The shack nasties is when you feel like tearing down walls and blowing up dams. Itís not that the temperature is prohibitive in this particular case, but for me, itís the fact that the freshwater areas are low and muddy.

In my younger days I would be bird hunting these warmer days of winter, walking the cane fields for quail with a good shotgun. But those days are gone. The quail arenít nearly as abundant anymore, for one thing, and for another access is a much greater issue with farmersí legitimate concerns over liability these days when everybody sues everybody else like itís a hobby or something. Thatís largely why I gave up hunting years ago. At least for the moment, I can go nearly anywhere on the water I need to.

I got a half-done boat that needs finishing, but I just havenít had the pocket change to get the plywood, or the energy to get her done. Itís a nice skiff about 16-foot long thatís going to be my main fishing boat in the spring, if I can get the gumption to finish her out. Sheís wide and flat-bottomed, ought to ride high and stable in the water.

This week I saw on the wire that cough medicines sold across the counter are no good. According to these researchers, they are largely ineffective. This is really maddening, considering how much money I spent on cough medicines while I was sick from Christmas Day until just last weekend. See, I thought they were working for me, now I guess it was just my imagination. Now that I know they donít workÖwill they not work next time? Maybe itís all mind over matter. In fact, maybe itís just the big pharmaceuticals trying to get us all to take prescription medicines for $100 a dose. Man, Iím becoming a conspiracy theorist, I donít trust anyone anymore. On the other hand, thatís just being Indian. I always use my bedsheets and blankets until theyíre so threadbare they do me no good anymore. This is because Iím afraid new ones will be small pox infected. There are some things as a culture you never really get over. Another example is treaties, modern-day equivalents of being thumbprinting at banks.

The news wires also informed me that Noor, the Iraqi baby suffering from birth defects found by U.S. troops, is doing quite well now after being brought to the U.S. for spina bifida surgery. I am honestly and truly delighted to hear this, really. But I am wondering, though, how many American kids will be dying of various similar untreated ailments who canít afford such procedures offered the media-blitzed Noor baby? I donít mean to sound callused here. I mean to sound somewhat indignant, yes, but not callused.

The final thing the news wires informed me of this week that I want to mention is that a cat was born in Oregon with one eye, like a cyclops. The owner named it Cy, of course, for short. Scientists say the condition, known as "holoprosencephaly" causes such a bizarre thing to happen. Now thatís news worthy of the wires, John Alito, Ariel Sharon, trapped miners and Arnold getting stitches be darned. Makes me proud to be in this business, it really does.

Speaking of cats, to all who have inquired of late, yes, Patches is doing quite well and still has both eyes and all four legs, as well as a tail, which she regularly fights with. Like me, she doesnít like winter very much, but weíll both survive it again. She tends to cuddle so close to me at night, for warmth I guess, that I am often pinned in place, fearful that if I move I will earn her wrath. I sometimes fear Iíll get bedsores from being in the same position for so long until Patches decides to wake up and move.

I wish I could train her as a birding cat. What I mean is, a bird-dog but as a cat. Sheíd be pretty awesome, stalking quail in the fields, and when she finds a covey she could freeze in place, raise one front paw, tail straight out, nose pointed at the birds. Sylvester and Tweety wouldnít even compare if I could train Patches as a birding cat. Now that ought to make the news wires, eh?

In case you havenít noticed, Iím really struggling for a topic today.

Last night I saw the last episode of the real-life series I told you about, Hay Cove, which centers around two families living on the shores of New Foundland like they would have in the 1930s. As it turns out, after catching cod all summer with hook and line, the cod estimator comes over. The "cod estimator" is the guy who does just that, estimates the value of your salted, dried cod. He sorts through more than two tons of cod between the two families and, as they all stand in eager anticipation of new shoes, new dresses, new washboards and maybe, just maybe, some socks, the estimator makes his announcement.

"Twenty-five dollars," he says.

Now the families owe the merchants in town $125, so they are now officially only $100 in debt. Instead of complaining about it, they set about the enviable task of moving their two-story house from the hill to the sea by rolling it along on giant logs, just as they did in the 1930s, when the New Foundland government told the fishermen to burn their boats and move to work in the factories. As it happens, they get the house stuck in a peat bog and promptly throw their hands up in disgust and head back for civilization. The father is saying he hopes his kids have learned something from the experience, especially Anna, the 14-year-old, who is shown in the boat leaving Hay Cove thrumming her fingers on the deck, obviously exercising for days on end of text messaging as soon as she gets back to the mainland.