Those dirty little secrets

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel by Steve Estes

The addition of a seven-year-old to our family has resulted in some serious adjustments to our lifestyle in the last four years.

Before he came to live with us just over three years ago (we adopted our grandson two years ago), we could get up when we wanted—within reason—get ready for work, put in a quality day, go grab a bite to eat somewhere, even at home, and still be home in plenty of time to wind down from the day, get a good night’s sleep and be back at it the next day.

Now, it’s rush to the after-school care, pick up the rug rat, rush home, do dinner, homework, bath, snack, bedtime, fall into the bed, maybe get a good night’s sleep and get back at it the next day.

But that’s typical of parents everywhere.

What our new addition has also done is make it harder to do some of the routine things around the house.

Our shed has spent about a year being a catch all for everything that needs to find a permanent home somewhere on the grounds, but we haven’t had time to find that permanent home, so it goes in the shed.

Last weekend, we had both had enough of trying to worm our way through the shed to get to things we needed (Holly wants her Christmas decorations put away so I had no other choice) so we tackled the dreaded shed organizing.

As usual, we found that much of the stuff just needed to find a home in the trash can. I have an old upright tool box that got flooded during Wilma. The bottom drawers would no longer open. We had purchased a new tool box, just hadn’t found the time to put it together and change everything over.

Last weekend we made the time to do that.

After clearing the junk out of the way, I found an old box of mechanic’s books my brother had stored in the shed a long time ago and forgotten about. A few years of humidity and heat had turned the pages into a morass of mostly pulp.

The books were all neatly stored in a cardboard box, but the bottom of the box was rotten. When I pulled the box out of its hideaway way back under the bottom shelf, the bottom fell out.

We peeled off the rest of the box and began pulling the books apart.

With the first tug, several dozen palmetto bugs came scampering out of the damp areas between books. We all three looked like bad ballerinas in our attempt to keep the bugs from running up our legs into our shorts.

I grabbed the first handful of books and took them to the trash can. Holly pulled away some more books and tossed them into the trash can.

Holly told me to take the can out to the street and come back with a new can. I didn’t really think anything was strange about that.

I did as I was told, of course, and when I returned with the new can, the rest of the books were stacked neatly on the ground and she was sweeping the shed floor.

Even though we weren’t entirely done clearing the floor, I still didn’t find anything strange about her actions, at least no more so than normal.

As evening turned the skies dark and we could no longer see what we were doing, we packed everything away to call it a night.

It was only a few hours later that my lovely wife told me why she had jumped the gun and begun to sweep the shed floor before we were totally ready.

It seems that as she was pulling apart the last few books, three tiny baby snakes fell out from between the pages.

She knows very well my phobia about snakes. There are only two good snakes in the world as far as I am concerned. The first good snake is dead. The second good snake is a continent away.

I don’t care if they are snakes that are good to have around. I don’t care if they are four inches long and look like earthworms. I just don’t like snakes.

So before I could discover these three little wiggly critters, Holly stomped them out of existence and swept them into a trash bag.

Now some might say that she could have just let them slither off.

Let me tell you why that’s not possible around my house.

Several years ago, we were replacing large pavers in the back patio. The previous owners had left a stack of spares that had been in the same place for years.

I picked up the first one, and there was a batch of baby snakes growing fat and happy in the damp space between the concrete pavers.

I just slammed the paver back on the pile and took off. Holly and our daughter started picking up the baby snakes and tossing them over the fence. I didn’t particularly like that.

“Why,” you might ask.

Because those cute little baby snakes, if left alive, will eventually grow to be larger adult snakes, and eventually the sight of one of those larger adult snakes will give me a heart attack.

Of course, since neither of them had my phobia about snakes, they continued to pick them up and toss them over the fence. At least until one of the little critters bit our daughter. The she started stomping them into oblivion.

And I was vindicated.

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