Twenty-four days on the rock

The danger steps down to the lake. 

One of the most common questions I've been asked since the Elite Series ended has been "So, what've you been doing with your time off?" I guess he was referring to the fact that the Elite Series was finished for the season. My first response in several instances was to ask if they thought that the work was done simply because the derby clock wasn't ticking. I didn't want to seem like a smart-ass. Not me. So I bit my tongue.

I can't really say that there has been much "time off" since the last Elite event. Even though I don't have some cheesy gig on a game show to work or a hectic appearance schedule (yeah, I know some might find that hard to believe) in the "off-season", there can be plenty of work to be done. I've never been one to lie around and strum my guitar while burning CD's from iTunes. Gotta be moving.

I spent some time scouting for next season on the way home from the Far North. Then there's that  home. Know all those things you do around the house after work and/or on the weekend? Aside from mowing the yard, the painting, the repairing, the weeding in the flower beds, the general maintenance that goes with owning a little slice of the American Dream; you know what I'm talking about. Imagine what it would be like around the homestead if you were gone for five months of the year and no one did all those little things around the Ponderosa. Welcome to my world.

Fortunately, my dad lives a few doors down and mows the yard when we're on the road for any length of time. He doesn't trim and he damn sure doesn't weed the flower beds, though. A man's gotta have his limits. I'm thankful that he does what he does. Just keeping the grass beat down helps tremendously.

Over the past few seasons, one area of our yard that had gotten completely out of control was an old rock patio with tiered flower beds around it. The worst part of the patio was probably the "danger steps" going down to the lake from the patio. These nasty little boogers were edged with rotting landscape timbers that would do the Weeble-Wobble thing with you if you stepped on them at the wrong place. Not good. Also in the bad department were the weed beds. Not the kind of weed beds that a bass angler wants to see either. Here's a word of advice for all those would-be, aspiring pro anglers or anyone who's looking at a different line of work which involves travel  ditch the flower beds. Flower beds, bad. Hardscapes, good.

During a big chunk of my "time off" this fall, the wife and I have taken out the flower beds (and the rock patio and the fence around it and a big, nasty gum tree on the edge of the rock patio and the steps down to the lake) and replaced the flowers with some nice rock walk (and a deck and more rock walk and landings and new steps down to the lake and more rock walk). I hate rock.

Twenty-four days worth of cutting, digging, scratching, burning, more digging, (cussing) filling, laying (serious cussing), more filling, nailing, cutting, nailing and screwing, more cutting, and finally more filling. Not 24 days straight, thankfully, but 24 days spread out over a period of 45. A week off for the PAA Corporate Cup, a day off to film a local show on Lake Conway, a day off to keep from pulling all my hair out. You get the idea. If I had to lay rock walks for a living, I would be one mean SOB. I'd be a mean SOB that drank. A lot. I'm very thankful that I have a different line of work.

All this digging, scratching, and filling wouldn't have been nearly so bad if we didn't live on Lake Conway. Oh yeah, this nice little deck that we've built and these rock walks are overlooking the cypress trees. They were out there taunting me every single one of those 24 days, too. I could hear the bass snickering as they lay under the cypress branches while watching me wearing holes in the fingertips of five pair of gloves. What's a brother have to do to get a decent pair of leather gloves that will hold up to a few hundred square feet of rock? They just don't make cows like they used to.

Don't think I didn't slip off a few times in the afternoon for a few casts on the pond. I did. Some afternoons were really good. Some absolutely sucked. That's fishing on Lake Conway in the fall.

Now all the rocks have been laid. All the boards have been cut, nailed, and screwed down. All the dirt has been moved and grass seed sewn. No more flower (weed) beds. No more lumpy rock patio. No more danger steps. I can sit on my deck overlooking the cypress trees and laugh at the bass.

Time off? Not hardly. Next on the agenda is insulation, OSB board, paint, pegboard, and shelving for the shop/garage where I keep my boat and tackle. I'm tired of trying to work out of Zoom cardboard boxes stacked on the floor. But I hope this doesn't take another 24 days of my "time off".

For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his Web site at www.kfshort.com.