Our best actor in a supporting role is my dear husband, Ben Vail. We just celebrated our 15th anniversary on December 30, 2010. Although he has lots of manly credentials– played hockey for years, owns a tractor, carves up trees with a chain saw, covets a gas-powered log splitter– he started out as a sixth grade teacher, and is fairly bookish fellow. If you want someone to get into a debate with about Kant, or Tactitus, he’s your man. He is now president of his family business, Vail Industries Massillon Container Company. It’s a packaging business in Navarre, Ohio, that was started by his grandfather. His father ran it for about 40 years, and then in late 2008, handed Ben the reins.
We started our married life in Cleveland, in an apartment on the West Side near Edgewater Park. After a few years there, we bought a house in Ohio City, a near-west neighborhood with a lively mix of rehabbed Victorian houses and non-rehabbed crack houses. We loved all the bars and restaurants, and the noisy bustling urban environment– until we had kids. Then the yard got way too small, and the homeless people got way more creepy. We got tired of the baby being awakened at 3 a.m. by a local bar’s avalanche of glass beer bottles into the resonant metal dumpster behind our house. We still own our beautiful little 1870 farmhouse there, and rent it out. But in 2007 we moved to the sticks.
That is, Bath, Ohio, which is sort of an outer-outer ring suburb of Akron, about 30 miles south of Cleveland. We have a nice chunk of land, woods, a creek, a little hill for sledding, a play structure with lots of resident carpenter bees, room for a huge garden, and a perfect place to hang a hammock. Our house here was built in 1830 and has a lot of character. I’ve found that I have this latent farm-wife gene: I’ve been canning; I’m a capable knitter; I own a spinning wheel. I love growing old roses, and native butterfly-attracting flowers. Ben is sort of long-suffering of all my hobbies. But he helps a great deal. Last summer, he nearly killed himself putting in a fence for me. And he honestly sees no point in gardening whatsoever. Now that’s love.
This is Ben:
We also have a few pets.
There’s the noble Lena, our dog of 12 years:
And Bagheera, our delightful cat:
And Beardie, our young bearded dragon:
And Zane Grey, our mentally ill tailless cat who lives in exile in the garage: