News, notes & opinions: September 2016

We had talked for years in our house about putting in a pool. The kids were finally the right age where they would be somewhat responsible with one. We still were relatively fresh off the dreaded summer of 2015, during which I counted approximately 82,374 instances of “I’m bored” or something similar coming out of the mouths of my children and, of course, the neighbors’ children who hang out at our house.

There’s a ‘P’ in pool, but no boredom

It’s September. Give me a hug.

OK, that’s creepy—don’t take me literally. Let me explain, though, why I could use one.

First off, I get older every year in September. This year, as my kids have been reminding me pretty much daily, I’m getting particularly older. I’ll leave the exact number for my dear Facebook friends to slam me about on the appropriate day.

Second, but most important, September means fall is here. That means I have to close up the backyard pool, which is going to be devastating.

photo by Scott Brown
photo by Scott Brown
Let’s back up to February. We had talked for years in our house about putting in a pool. The kids were finally the right age where they would be somewhat responsible with one. We still were relatively fresh off the dreaded summer of 2015, during which I counted approximately 82,374 instances of “I’m bored” or something similar coming out of the mouths of my children and, of course, the neighbors’ children who hang out at our house.

“If you’re so bored, why are you in my house?” I asked one neighbor kid.

“Because it’s just a little less boring here than my house,” she said. Obviously, our neighbors are lame.

So we decided, we’re not getting any less lame, or any younger (see above) so let’s build this thing. We cooked up a design for an above-ground pool surrounded by a deck—so we could get that “in-ground” feel for a fraction of the cost. Hooray for the cost savings.

But somebody had to build it.

Uh oh.

Never fear. I read a couple books about deck-building. I recruited my dad, who has built decks—and other things—that have yet to fall over. I conned some free labor out of friends and the lame neighbors. I even recruited all those bored kids to drive a few nails and carry a few boards.

And by mid-June, we had a pool and a deck. And we’ve been in the water and/or on the deck pretty much constantly—everyone in the family, plus kids I didn’t know lived in our neighborhood. I’m sitting under the umbrella typing this as a bunch of kids are splashing around. I don’t recall hearing a single “I’m bored” this summer.

It will be sad covering it up. I suspect it will be a long winter. —Scott Brown

Human element shapes list of ‘faves’

When a quick poll of your family—at different times so no one hears anyone else’s answers—produces the same responses, you know you’re onto something.

Such was the case when I asked, “Tell me some of your favorite local places to eat or visit.” Several of the same answers quickly popped forth:
• Milk & Honey ice cream.
• Wm. McKinley Presidential Library and Museum (or in our family, simply the McKinley Museum).
• TD’s Tailgate Grill.
• Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon.

Heck, I don’t get that kind of quick consensus from my family when I ask who is their favorite newspaper editor.

The “why” is easy to explain: All of these places, and some others, produced lifelong, positive family memories.

It’s not as simple as a place becoming a “favorite” just because the food or products are good. Think about it. If the food is good, even excellent, but the service is mediocre, will you go back? Probably not. What if the food is mediocre, but the service is excellent? You’ll consider giving that place a second chance. In most cases, it’s the human connection that creates the lasting memory—good or bad.

There are so many places to buy local and proprietors ready, willing and able to earn—and keep—our business. Ask around. Word of mouth is a great source of information, as are advertisements in GateHouse Ohio Media publications, of course!

Some other “faves” of mine: Dr. Fran Piatt Miller (dentist), Sonic Stitching & Sports (spirit wear and embroidery), Steve’s Tailoring & Men’s Wear and Conestoga Grill for a good bowl of chili. On just about anything else, I’m open to recommendations. —Rich Desrosiers

Following through on diy projects

There is a fine line between hoarder and DIY (do it yourself) enthusiast. I’ve thought about this often over the years.

Many years ago, my collection of glass jugs had grown to an impressive size (both because I wanted to create something amazing and because it was jug wine season). I was going to do something with both style and functionality; something that upcyclers (those who create cool stuff out of garbage) would be impressed by. Instead, I left them stacked in an out-of-the-way place for years, until a good collection became a sad one. Then, I recycled them.

It’s easy to get excited about something when it’s in the brainstorming phase.

“Save that! We can build something with it!” Everyone has said at some point. “It’ll be great. I bet we can knock it out this weekend!”

Collectively, we decided to spend the weekend watching Netflix.

So, the dual existence of two large wood pallets in my garage was not lost on me. I had gotten them in the delivery for another project I was working on. As soon as they came, I told my wife, “I’m keeping these things. There are like a million projects you can do with old wood pallets.”

Like take up valuable space in the garage.

For a year, they made fitting two cars in the garage akin to playing Operation.

Then, we decided to build a compost bin. “Why keep paying for high-priced, designer dirt like a bunch of chumps?” we concluded.

“Really, you’re mostly paying for the brand name.”

We had the rain barrel and the wheel barrel. We just needed the dirt.
These were large pallets, 6 feet square. So, we cut one in half for the front and back walls, and pieced out the other one to build the side walls and a divider down the middle. The biggest expense was chicken wire to line the frame (about $18).

Note: The first few DIY projects I did cost more than I thought they would. But once you have done a few projects and have collected enough tools, it gets much cheaper.

Since we were hiding it in the backyard, it didn’t need to be pretty (which made it a perfect DIY job).

For just about any project you want to attempt, there is help. Just Google it.

Now, we have a spot for our grass clippings and garden waste. With fall upon us, leaves will go in there, too. And most of the food waste we have goes in there (excluding meat); so does the coffee grounds.

And when our little neighbor brings us over a handful of worms, which has happened more than once, we gladly accept them. —Dave Manley

Leave electrical projects to the pros

My vacation is in my kitchen this year. Seriously. My wife and I, I used the term I very loosely, decided we were going to remodel our kitchen. New counter tops, new floor and a backsplash around the counters. Fine, I said, if we were doing this, we weren’t going on vacation. Surely, she would object.
She agreed.

I have been dreading this. I have been able to mostly hide the fact that I can be quite handy around the house, with the exception being electrical work. You never DIY an electrical project.

So the counter folks installed the counters. I put up the backsplash. The folks at Bob & Petes were extremely helpful in picking out a floor and backsplash to match the granite we picked.

Here we sit, a week after the backsplash and it isn’t finished.


Because I tried to do the electrical work.

See, in the process of doing everything, someone decided we should switch out the receptacles and light switches. “They should be brown,” she said. “It’ll match the counters better.”


I managed to screw up one GFI outlet. I’ve blown through two already because I didn’t mark the lines when I took the other one off. So now I’m about $40 into a problem I created, when an electrician could have done the whole thing for about $75.

And this frustration is my vacation? —Todd Porter

Hall of Fame Village update

By the time you’re reading this, work will have resumed on Hall of Fame Village. We will have put a nice bow on this year’s enshrinement festivities—work already has started on picking a class for 2017—and no doubt, visitors left our area more impressed than ever.

What you will find in the coming week is more work being done on the stadium, and some time in early September, Hall of Fame Village will break ground on a new hotel, conference center and center for excellence. If you think half the stadium being finished was a dramatic change, wait until the next two years. —Todd Porter

Presidential election

I wonder how many people watched the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention? Ratings show more people watched Donald Trump’s address than Hillary Clinton’s.

These eyes caught a significant chunk of both.

And here is the thought I was left with (the same one I went into those two weeks with by the way): These are the two best candidates of the major parties we could find?

Well, we voted for them throughout the spring.

Pray for our country this November. —Todd Porter