Gutter Gardens

It’s finally summer here in Ohio. For a couple weeks there I thought maybe God forgot to change the thermostat. Not that God forgets things, of course, but I was wondering if maybe He was trying to teach me patience again. Ugh. I hate it when he does that – which probably means I need more a few more lessons. Hopefully He’ll keep the lessons short and sweet. Anyway. It’s finally summer! It’s hot and sticky and my bones have been fully defrosted.

It also means that spiders are starting to hang out on our porch, lurking in the corners just waiting to jump into our hair and tickle our neck hairs. Janice hates being tickled, especially by things with eight legs. So she’s been gleefully prancing around the house with a bucket of spider spray, sloshing it against the walls like an arsonist dousing a shed with gasoline.

Adi also hates spiders. When she watches Charlotte’s Web she thinks the spider is the villain, definitely not the hero. She often comes running into the kitchen loudly begging Janice to kill a spider she found. “Spida! Spida! Mommy kill the yucky spida!” Adi frantically points to the porch. Janice congratulates Adi on being appropriately outraged at the spider. “Oh no! A yucky spider! Let’s kill it.” She pokes her head out of the kitchen. “JOOOSH! Can you go kill it?” I sigh, take off my shoe, and heroically save the day. Thump. Thump. Thump. “There. It’s safe.” I settle back on the couch and resume studying engine lubrication systems. Maybe if I teach Adi to use the shotgun then she could take care of spiders herself. Immediately Janice’s voice rings in my head, “Not every problem can be solved by using guns, honey.” I don’t know why she keeps saying that. Maybe because I mentioned shooting the dryer. And the washer. And all those stray cats. Oh well, Janice is probably right. I’ll wait a few years before I give Adi her first lesson on shooting spiders.

I only mentioned shooting the mower once in the last two weeks, displaying my incredible self restraint. Of course I was kidding about it though. Shooting the lawnmower is impractical because I’d have to drive it out of the city limits before I did so. Who has that much time? The mower is really loud, it vibrates like a plate glass window at the opera, and smells like a burning oil refinery. But it only cost $40 and it does spin a metal blade around in a circle fast enough to cut grass. It’s also useful for landscaping. Our yard is pretty clumpy but I found that if I just drop the mower deck really low and mow over the clumps, the dirt is quickly redistributed to the far corners of the yard. This method is efficient but kind of hard on your shins. I do take pride in my yard though so the pain is worth it.

Elliot has taken to landscaping as well with his little toy truck. He’ll grab a fistful of dirt from the flowerbed and carry it across the property to deposit it into his little Tonka truck. Then he’ll walk back to the flowerbed leaving his Tonka truck behind. One of these days he’ll realize it’s much more efficient to have the truck sitting beside the flowerbed. That’s OK though, walking an extra sixty feet each trip makes him tired so he sleeps longer. I find that most of the day I spend trying to figure out how to tire out my children so they sleep longer. Elliot does know how to fist bump though. In fact, if you try to give him a high five he’ll try to grab your outstretched palm and squish it into a ball so he can give you a bump. Apparently cool kids don’t high five anymore.

On Memorial Day we went to Salt Fork State Park which is the home of several alleged Bigfoot (or Sasquatch) sightings. They have a very nice sandy beach at the lake and we were enjoying it until late in the afternoon when hordes of poorly concealed people showed up. It’s not a stretch to say that if some of those folks decided to go on a hike through the woods, another hapless hiker could easily confuse them for some sort of mythical hairy beast. Despite all that, the kids loved the water and I know we’ll be back again, hopefully when no one else is there. Maybe we’ll have to wait to swim until there’s thunderstorms or hurricanes or pandemics.

I finished building the privacy fence around our yard which is good because Adi decided to go skinny dipping in our little kiddie pool the other day. I was supposed to be watching her but despited being singularly focused on multitasking, I got distracted by my phone. At least she was absorbing Vitamin D at a faster-than-normal rate. That’s what good fathers do; make sure their children get proper nutrition.

Adi has a doll bed beside her bed and will not sleep until all her baby dolls are safely tucked in.

Adi isn’t the only one getting more sun. Janice has started a raised bed vegetable garden. It’s not very large but it’s big enough to grow radishes, brussel sprouts, peas, carrots, kohlrabi, lettuce, and bok choy. I don’t really know what bok choy is either. The garden is big enough to tickle her green thumb but not big enough to require me to help with the rototilling or weeding, which is perfect. Not that I’m opposed to gardening. Why just the other Saturday I was weeding my gutters. It’s hard to argue with your wife about the need to clean the gutters when there are plants growing in them.

“But they’re just small plants, Honey.” I try to put it in perspective. “It’s not like there’s a willow tree growing up there. Now that would be something!”

“Yea, but migratory waterfowl are making nests in the gutter. It’s time to do something.”

I had to agree. All the honking gets tiresome. “I’ll go get the shotgun and shoot them today yet,” I told Janice. Besides, the migratory waterfowl shouldn’t be migrating with this coronavirus pandemic going around. It’s the strangest thing but instead of shooting migratory waterfowl I somehow found myself up on a ladder without a gun, scooping gunk out of my gutters with my hands.

Left to Right: Logan (my nephew), Adilene, and Elliot planning mischief on the front porch.
I’m reading about Dr. Suess’s Foot Book to Logan, my youngest nephew.

Speaking of pandemics, in Ohio the restaurants are starting to open up again and life is slowly crawling back to normal, despite me standing behind it and yelling at it to go faster. In Pennsylvania, however, they are still under Governor Wolf’s iron thumb. We traveled to Pennsylvania this weekend to hang out with family because my brother Matt and his family flew into PA from Alaska. Since we don’t get to visit Matt’s family much, we took this opportunity to do so. After I was done at work on Friday, we hurriedly threw clothing and various children into the van and made tracks eastward. We never gave a thought to bringing along face masks until we tried to find a bathroom to use. We finally found an Aldi grocery store that didn’t have signs prohibiting mask-less societal outcasts although by the way people acted, you would’ve thought we were zombies bleeding from our eyeballs with our appendages dragging on the ground.

Other than that, we had a great time visiting my side of the family. Memories were made, food was eaten, and creeks were splashed in. This afternoon we left for home again but were quickly distracted by a Kenmore High Efficiency washing machine that was hitchhiking on the shoulder of the road. It carried a sign that read, “Mechanical Issues. Free.” Most hitchhikers have mechanical issues so that wasn’t surprising. We’ll see if I can figure out what’s wrong with it. Of course we’ll have to quarantine it for fourteen days after we get to Ohio since it may have Covid-19. The water that drained out of it certainly smelled like it had a few diseases in it.

Snader Flyby blogs about minivan picking up free dryer

Don’t worry, if I can’t fix the dryer I can always just shoot it. I am hoping for the best though because our current washer is showing its age by leaking all over the garage whenever possible. Of course, it was also free and we’ve had it for four years. I want to complain about it breaking but even I’m surprised it lasted this long.

Speaking of things lasting a long time, every time we make it home from a road trip I’m kind of surprised the van didn’t explode somewhere along the highway. I’ve been very impressed with our cheap little Dodge Caravan. I started to think it was my excellent mechanical skills that was keeping it chugging along. I suggested to Janice that a lesser man couldn’t have kept this van running so long. Janice said, “Sure honey. Whatever you say. Also my mom said she prays specifically that our van would keep running and not break down.” Apparently my mother-in-law feels like our van needs a lot of prayer and has been praying specifically for it’s mechanical reliability. I’m not complaining about that and apparently it’s been working. Thanks to my mother-in-law, our van keeps clattering along and we made it home once again.

From a little Ohio hamlet,




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