To quote Master Samwise Gamgee, "Well, I’m back."

Let’s see how to start this off: With work, I guess. Saturday, the first full day of my vacation (you have to understand that though I was technically off work on Monday through Friday, I was also off two Saturdays and two Sundays, so it’s all vacation to me) I washed the truck, cut my grass, cut my mom’s grass. While riding on the lawnmower I tried to duck under a tree limb at my mom’s house and didn’t duck low enough. A forked, cut-off limb caught me square in the head and made two nonsymmetrical wounds on either temple, high up. Nothing serious, but I looked like a lopsided Pan.

I also changed the oil in my truck. The oil filter was stuck and refused to budge. It took me three hours to get it off. I am furious about all this, of course, and anyone passing by my house probably heard a tirade of less than polite language spewing from underneath a Chevy truck.

"Save a couple bucks, yeah, why don’t ya?" I was yelling, trying to free the oil filter. "Sure, you can do it yourself!" Beating on the filter now with a sledge hammer. "Price…of gas…through the roof…" Taking the reciprocating saw after it now. "Can’t even get Iran to drop their nuclear program…" Out comes the jackhammer. "Global warming, my eye!" Finally I tried a small amount of C-4 explosive and it gave and I think I pitched it far enough to do Namath proud.

While under the engine for all that time, I noticed a suspicious smell but thought little of it.

You can see this week is turning out rosy already, can’t you?

Sunday I had bunches of other errands to tend too: Get the boat ready, get groceries, clean house, etc. My cousin Jim arrived Sunday at 2 p.m. with his mom and son Christopher in tow. By late that evening, after we had gone to Wal-Mart to procure their fishing licenses for the week, that suspicious smell I noted under the truck had increased and I knew that something had crawled inside it somewhere and expired. I knew right then it was going to be a long week. No amount of searching would reveal the smelly culprit.

Monday we headed for the lake in the big ugly bass boat (hereafter referred to as BUBB). The fishing was down quite a bit from the weekend before, and overall, we caught fish, but not nearly what I had expected or hoped. Each time we put the boat over or picked it up I did so in record time to get as far away from the truck and the smell of…whatever it was…as quickly as possible. My cousins stood a respectable distance away as well.

That Monday and Tuesday I fished exclusively with the fly rod, though my cousins were fishing various spinning and baitcasting tackle. I am, after all, the guy who writes articles about fly fishing and was featured on not one but two episodes of a fly fishing television program this year. I cast every fly in my box, and like I said, we caught a few fish, but they dang sure weren’t jumping in the boat, ya folla? Tuesday we fished out of Millet Point and south of Baldwin off the Intracoastal. All told it was mostly uneventful, except for the day of a minor docking mishap that sent my younger cousin into the drink. I’ll never live that one down, and neither will he!

The cool front came through Wednesday and we decided the wind and threat of rain was a bit much to risk heading out in the boat. Instead, we armed ourselves with a couple cartons of earthworms and headed for Baldwin Town Park, where we spent a leisurely day catfishing – also to little avail, though Christopher caught one nice one – with the exception of a break for lunch at Chick’s. We caught as many blue crabs as catfish.

We debated whether to go out on Thursday or not, realizing that, as every fisherman knows, a cold front puts the brakes on fishing, but since the fishing was pretty lousy to begin with, we figured it couldn’t be any worse. Thursday I headed north of the levee into the basin and left the fly rods at home. Equipped with a baitcasting rod and a red shad colored lizard Texas-rigged, we caught about as many fish that day as any single day before. So much for wisdom and what every fisherman knows, eh?

Thursday night, my girl, the cousins, my aunt, Mom and I all attended the grand opening of Shorty’s, the addition to Cypress Bayou Casino. It’s quite nice except for the part where Christopher talked me into sampling sushi. No offense to anyone out there who likes sushi, but I’ll continue to take my fish cooked, thank you very much. Yuck. Overall, though, Shorty’s is a heckuva nice place, and I hope you’ll come visit us soon.

The Texas Stouffs left for Ft. Worth on Friday, a day I spent mostly recuperating and trying to forget that I had been dumb enough to attempt to eat raw fish. The smell in the truck had mostly faded by then. Can’t say that I did much else for the rest of the weekend other than rest up for return to work Monday.

So I come back and I find that the illegal immigrants are protesting again. They carry signs like "We’re not terrorists" and "We build your homes" and "Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote" and they’re boycotting businesses to show their economic clout.

Questions:

1) How can you prove you’re not a terrorist?

2) You built my house, 160 years ago?

3) You can get a green card in a day?

4) How can you have economic clout on $1.25 an hour?

The Drudge Report had a picture of a Hispanic man in an enormous sombrero with a sign that read:

NO ILLEGALS

NO BURRITOS

(YOU BETTER THINK TWICE, AMERICA)

Meaning, I guess, legal Hispanic immigrants don’t know how to make burritos, can’t teach anyone else to make burritos, can’t sell burritos, don’t like burritos? I just can’t stand it.

Well, anyway…I’m back.