Regular readers of this blog may remember my Lawn Mower Nightmares. Every summer it seemed that after one or two uses, my mower would simply die. And I never could crank the stupid thing without pulling my shoulder out of joint. Two years in a row I bought new mowers. After the second new one, when it spent more time in the repair shop than it did my yard, finally, they refunded my money. I’m sure they were as happy about it as I was. I decided to try a smaller, local hardware store instead of one of the big-box stores, and had a great experience with Hill’s Ace in Winder. That mower is still working just fine – but not realizing I would again be in charge of my own yardwork, I let Whitney and Dustin take it when they moved to their house.
You must understand something about me. When it comes to cutting grass and getting haircuts – I’m very impatient. When I’m ready to do it, I’m ready right now. Don’t want to wait. A couple of weeks ago, Dustin said he would cut the grass if we could get his riding mower over here. I decided I didn’t want to wait – so I went to Home Depot and got my own dang lawn mower. I’ve been doing a lot of shopping in Lowe’s and Home Depot these days, and have gotten on a first-name basis with some of the associates. At the HD on Epps Bridge, there’s a delightful young man named Adam whom I am considering adopting. He is very handy, and knows a lot of things about a lot of things – mainly where most items are located in the store. On this particular trip, I was happy to see Adam, and after he assisted me with some fluorescent light bulbs, we wandered over to the lawn-mower section. He showed me a mower that he had himself purchased recently, and recommended I consider that one. It’s all pretty and red, and has big wheels on the back that help with uneven ground. He sold me when he said that all you have to do is take it out of the box, fold up the handle, tighten some bolts, put in the gas and oil and it’s good to go. He swore to me that it cranked on the first pull. I was all in. After assisting me with a few other items, and agreeing to be my personal shopping assistant for all eternity, he loaded it into the car, and I drove home – ready to tackle my yard. To my WONDERFUL surprise, my neighbor Tammy had cut the front yard for me, while she was out doing her own yard!! Gosh, I love my neighbors!!! The back yard was too high for this push mower, and David came over later with his tractor-mower and took care of that for me. That was a couple of weekends ago. And, as we know, that pesky grass just insists on growing all summer long. So, today was the day! Time to cut the grass!!
My wake-up call came this morning at 8:30, when David called to say The Biscuit Man had arrived. In all my early-morning glory, I trekked up to the Huth patio for coffee and biscuits. It was a beautiful morning to sit outside and enjoy some peaceful conversation.
After that, I was psyched about cutting the grass. Except I couldn’t find my shoes. I think I left my yard-work shoes at Steve’s, and my slip-on Sketchers are dangerous on uneven ground. I nearly broke my foot a few weeks ago trying to clean up some clippings in the yard while wearing them. This presented a dilemma. I know I need to pick up a pair of cheap shoes for working outside. But – unlike the Wal Mart people whose pictures we see and make fun of, I try not to go shopping (even at Wal Mart) without looking like I just got out of bed. Doing so at the Dollar G in Statham isn’t QUITE as bad – but that place is usually hoppin’ on Saturday mornings, and one never knows who you might run into. I thought I’d take a chance, and go down and see if they had any kind of footwear that would get me through today’s grass-cutting marathon. I had to go to town anyway to get gas for the lawn mower. I didn’t want to get all gussied up just to go to Wal Mart, then come home and get all dirty and smelly. At the Dollar G, I tried on some “Youth” shoes that I considered. I thought I’d look rather spiffy in some Spiderman shoes, and maybe Spidey would give me superpowers while I worked outside. But I worried with all that walking, they might be a bit too snug. Almost defeated, I happened to see a pair of $6.00 ladies cloth “tennis shoes” with some shiny things bedazzled on the side. Tried these ones, and they felt okay. So, instead of Spiderman, I decided I’d probably do better with the movie star shoes.
Then it was off to the gas station. At the time I bought the mower, I also wanted a new gas can. Adam escorted me to the proper aisle and showed me a display of lovely bright red gasoline containers. I was interested in a 2-gallon can, but the choices were either really expensive ones, or really cheap ones. There was one style in the mid price range that looked like it would make me happy, so that’s the one I chose. Unfortunately, I had dismissed Adam before making my selection. I’m sure he would have advised against this particular one. But, there's no one to blame. I chose it all on my own. It looked like a very nice can, that you could trust to keep the gasoline safely inside without leaking. Yes, it’s a very secure gas can. But the nozzle is some kind of weird contraption – so weird that I had to chase down a guy at the gas station to get him to show me how the silly thing worked. And when he couldn’t figure it out either, I didn’t feel quite so badly about it. Finally I got the nozzle thingy on securely and made my way home with my sparkly shoes and funky gas can.
Armed with my bottle of motor oil, my container of gasoline, my instruction manual, reading glasses, kitchen knife (to cut some bubble-wrap stuff off the handle), and my sparkly shoes, I went out to the shed, ready for the maiden voyage of my mower. Thankfully the oil-hole thingy was marked prominently, and the oil went in without problem. The gas … well that was a challenge. The ‘normal’ position of the nozzle on my newfangled gas can is in the closed position. To securely avoid accidental spills. (Can you hear the sarcasm?) In order to open up the nozzle for the gas to flow, you have to first squeeze this long protruding plastic thing built into the side of the nozzle, then push down on the long protruding plastic thing while squeezing. My hands are small, and due to surgery in the past on both thumbs, my grip strength is weak. So, it took both my hands to squeeze it and push it down. And the nozzle is straight. There’s no accordion-like bendy part to let you wiggle it around and aim it. It’s about 6” long, and straight. So – as Larry Munson used to say – “get the picture”. I hoisted the 16 lb (I think I remember from Bill Nye The Science Guy that a gallon of water weighs 8 lb, so I guess two gallons of gasoline would weigh 16, lb… right Tangela?) I hoisted the 16 lb can of gasoline up between my knees/thighs, lean my body forward precariously, tilt the thing toward the gas tank opening, while squeezing and pressing with both hands, and the gasoline begins pouring into the tank… and all over my hands. Because the long protruding plastic thing is built into the side of the nozzle, and there’s a “slit” in the nozzle to accommodate the long protruding plastic thing, when it is depressed, the gasoline pours out of the slit in the nozzle. And did I say all over my hands? This is not going well. I don’t like smelly, icky things on my skin. Ewww.
After washing up and putting on my garden gloves, the REAL moment of truth arrived. I had Home Depot on speed dial – just in case I needed to call Adam to make a house call if I couldn’t get this baby to crank. My right shoulder is at times temperamental, and the least awkward movement can send me into fits of pain. I was a little nervous about the pulling-the-rope thing. ADAM, you are my hero!!! My beautiful little red mower started on the FIRST PULL out of the box. Ever! No smooshing the "choke" balloon thingy, no wiggling spark plugs. I would NOT kid you about this! Victory is SWEET!
With my iPhone set on iPod, my headphones on my ears, and sunglasses (to protect my eyes from the sparkling shoes) perched on my nose, I set across the yard to get the job done. Dang. Have you seen that hill at the corner of my lot and Tammy’s? That section almost killed me. I remembered that it was tough, and made the smart decision to tackle that first – before I got tired – and was very glad to get that behind me.
I’ve always enjoyed cutting the grass. There’s that satisfaction of seeing and smelling the freshly mowed lawn, and seeing the fruits of my labor. Yeah, I’m kinda weird like that. It’s a great physical workout, too. (Though I must admit - I will only use a self-propelled mower – I did that Cathy-propelled thing many years ago, and I’m not THAT much into a physical workout!) Cutting grass is also a great time to vent my frustrations. Over the years, I have had imaginary conversations in which I would “get somebody told” - wherein I would fuss and gripe and complain about whatever bothered me. Sometimes I would even talk out loud. As long as the neighbors weren’t home, mind you. At the end of the chore, my lawn would be beautiful, and I had the satisfaction of getting some things off my chest. And we know – in our imaginary confrontations with other folks, we ALWAYS emerge the victor. “Hmph. I guess I told HIM/HER a thing or two!!!”
With the turmoil that has been my life lately, I figured today would be no different, and I had a few things I wanted to *say* to a few people. I was looking forward to it. Normally I *write*. I write very long letters that I don’t send, I write journals that no one ever sees, I write my thoughts into a private blog that no one reads. It helps to clear my mind, and helps to process my thoughts and feelings. Occasionally I will snail-mail or e-mail a letter, though I am at times so verbose that the message probably gets lost in the words, and the effect is not what I intended. Today I was ready for bear. I figured I’d give my tired fingers a respite from all the *writing* I’ve done lately, and just have imaginary conversations. In which, of course, I would be the victorious one, with cleverly executed remarks that would deeply impact the listener, and change the course of history and the future.
I also knew, though, that I must walk carefully, for embedded somewhere within my DNA ladder is a gene labeled CLUMSY. I’m still limping on my left foot from the aforementioned injury, and today I’m wearing cheap $6.00 cloth shoes. They were nice and sparkly, but provided no support for my feet/ankles. I turned the iPod up as loud as it would go, and after cranking on the first pull, I engaged the propelling thing, and I was off. Between watching my steps on the uneven grass, and listening to the music, I forgot all about releasing my frustrations that might be aimed at any particular person(s). Sadly, I don’t listen to music that much any more, and found that I was really getting into it, and rather enjoyed having those guys along to “help” me get the job done. Steven Tyler, Axl Rose, Roger Waters, Jimmy Buffett and *gasp* The BackStreet Boys were very good company to me as I slaved in the heat of the day. With the iPod on shuffle, I never knew what would come up next, and was getting along just dandy until Shania Twain started crooning through my headphones – and I must admit – I’m glad there was no traffic on Sunset, or the passersby would have probably called the men in white coats. It was not pretty. I kinda lost it right there between the sidewalk and the oak tree. But… that moment passed. Led Zepplin and ZZ Top to the rescue, and all was well again. (Note to self – either remove that song from the playlist altogether, or learn how to “skip” it with one hand, while holding the lever on the mower that keeps it from shutting down with the other hand.) About 10 minutes before I would have finished with the entire front/side yard, behold – the heavens opened and buckets of rain poured from the sky. Shoot. I really wanted to finish it all today.
Forecast says rain showers throughout the evening. You know what this means. This means that I must get dirty again another day. I don’t like being smelly and dirty. I wanted to get all this smelly, dirty work done in one session. Right now as I type this, there is dirt under my fingernails, and dirt in the creases of my elbows. There's a muddy streak down the side of my cheek from rivulets of sweat pouring through the dirt that got blown onto my face. I think I might gag. (A thunderstorm has delayed my shower.) Another reason I wanted to get it all done in one day is because I’m sure tomorrow and the next day I’ll be sore. Yes. As shameful as it is, my sedentary work and lifestyle doesn’t involve much physical activity. And I will be sore. In a day or two when the yard dries out, I’ll go outside one evening to cut the back yard… and it will hurt.
But for all my complaining about the rain, and not being able to finish the job, there are other errands I must do today – so I’ll just go wash all this dirt off of myself, and continue on with my chores.
Besides, we all know that the grass is always greener after the rain.