Sunday, April 26, 2009


Gadget: a seaman's term of unknown origin.

Rain falls in a steady pattern on this Sunday morning. I can tell the intensity of the rain before I look out the window.

At 6 am Pooch time, 5 am Amish time, he paws my face. "Get up pork chop," he says. I use an affectionate name he's coined for big daddy. Dawn is big mama. I'm sure the Pooch would refrain calling her his puercocito- little pork chop-if he wants to go on living. Dawn is a fourth degree champion kick boxer. I'm his favorite pork chop because I collect savory cat treats, not just the Whiskas or Special Kitty packaged variety but catfish nuggets, chicken livers, pulled pork leftovers from dinner and an occasional beef tenderloin on sale from Woodmans grocery store.

The sound of the rain is louder since I installed special multi-directional, expandable brown plastic downspouts from Lacrosse. The rain falling on the durable plastic drains make the sound of small drumsticks. I often chide Dawn about gimmicks and gadgets she buys. Then I eat crow, raw and tough, when I find the gadget has a useful purpose. Take the mole repellents. They look like pencil cases from grade school. With two "D" cell batteries, they emit a pulsing buzzing when you force one into a mole tunnel. It sends the varmints running for the next county. I scoffed. I ate crow.

When Dawn went back to Wal-Mart for more Topsy-Turvy tomato planters I thought, " just another useless gadget." I have no use for them in my tomato fields, but hung from the trellis in the backyard of the retirement home, the residents are entranced by tomatoes hanging upside from the pot. It makes it easy to pick the fruit.

I sometimes make my own special gadgets. Each of the plots for vegetables in the front fields is between 10 and 12 feet wide. To extend the reach of my garden rake without tramping down the soil I duct tape a narrow PVC pipe to the handle. It's a bit unwieldy, but I save the plot from compaction. I made a special onion weeder from a tapered wood stake and a joist hanger. The metal hanger clips the weeds at the surface of the soil. I guess that makes me smarter than your average bear Boo-Boo.

Installing the patio I was inspired to create a leveling tool. I connected a four foot 2X4 to a length of shelf bracket. I bent the metal shelf bracket over the edge of the 2X4 and screwed it to the pine board. Then, at the other end of the metal bracket, I bent it again to form a handle. It looked great and didn't work a lick. The 2X4 was not heavy enough to pull sand across the form for the cement blocks. So I'll never make a million bucks inventing Velcro or Post Its.

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