Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Morning Walk

My dear friend and co-worker, Cheryl, hooked me up with a daily e-mail called God's Minute.  She is in the midst of treatment for breast cancer, and has shared how this daily e-mail has often hit her right where she needed it (much the way I feel about my Jesus Calling book).  I signed up for it, and most days will give it a quick look, though I must confess, some busy days I just delete it without reading.  I almost deleted it today, because it has been a busy morning, but I opened it for a quick peek.

I absolutely love it when I come across a little love-note, seemingly written especially for me.

Tucked amidst the affirmations and Scriptures, I found this little poem.  And it spoke to me.

And, as it so often happens, this one is perfectly timed for my reading... on this particular date.

Morning Walk

          Amidst the dew of early dawn,
          I took a morning walk.
          And along with me, I took a Friend,
          For I felt a need to talk.
          I unburdened both my heart and soul,
          And spoke many things:
          Of plans gone wrong, of failure's pain,
          And how to live with shattered dreams.
          My Friend just listened quietly,
          And uttered not a word.
          For it was His time to listen,
          And my time to be heard.
          His sympathetic ear brought peace,
          As we walked this earthly sod.
          And I learned to trust life again,
          On my morning walk with God.
Poet, Barbara Cagle Ray

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Soggy Tumbleweeds and The F Word

Yes, it's another day of rambling thoughts.  And if I don't tell you now, I'll forget.  It's stuff I want to talk about.  I have a few hours of down time from the job, and I know you're just dying to read what thoughts are tumbling around in my brain.


Mushrooms:  Odd little statues of fungi!  I've been joking for several days about 
the crop of mushrooms sprouting in my armpits.  The rain and dark skies just keep ON hanging around.  The ground is saturated, many basements have flooded, including at My Parents' House and the Bernius House, and yet the rains keep coming.  The Oconee County Sheriff's Office Facebook page posted this yesterday:  "BOLO (be on the lookout for) a large wooden ark said to be occupied by two animals of every kind. Ark is piloted by a man named Noah who may be releasing doves. The ark was last seen heading in the direction of Mount Ararat. Any contact, either hop aboard or follow to high ground."  

I'm beginning to think it is a personal lawn mower conspiracy against me - my 30-day return guarantee will expire before I get a chance to try it out, if this keeps up!!  The yard is a mud-jungle of soggy dandelion shoots, that would probably burst forth in tiny yellow blooms, if the sun would only shine long enough!!   A little bit ago I walked over to talk to my neighbor for a few minutes.  As we were chatting, I happened to notice this mushroom standing tall and proud underneath the pine trees between our houses.  I've seem them everywhere lately, even invading my flower beds, but mostly the ones I have seen are a whitish-tan color.  I do believe this is the first black mushroom I've ever seen growing around here.  It is quite large.  The dome is probably a tiny bit bigger than the palm of my hand.  I'm wondering if we've discovered a Shiitake farm?  I don't think I'll be adding it to my salad, or cooking it on the grill, though it's about the size of a Whopper patty.  There are a few smaller ones growing nearby, but I think I'll just let them grow in peace. Well, as peaceful as it can be here in The Hood - with kids and grandkids and golf carts and puppies and kitties... and all such manner of things that make up Home Sweet Home here in The Hood.  The only thing missing is a fat, green toad sitting nearby.  But we all know how I feel about toads, so....  


Penmanship:   Before The Great Mushroom Discovery, I walked swam down to the end of the driveway to put some outgoing mail in the box. One of my clients sends me a written contract each year that I have to sign and return.  The old fashioned way.  With pen and ink, on a real piece of paper.  I can still sign my name fairly well, but as I started to address the (paper) envelope, the pen felt somehow odd in my hands.  I have arthritis in my hands/fingers, and the damp weather has made even the simplest tasks a little bit uncomfortable, but I think it was more than that.  I had to stop and try to remember the last time I had even held a pen in my hand and did anything other than jot down a phone number, or a patient name, or something really quick.  I was shocked to realize that I do not remember the last time I wrote anything of significance by hand. I'll admit it.  I'm totally electronic-dependent.  I make my grocery lists and Notes To Self on my cell phone.  I "write" correspondence via e-mail.  All my work is done on the computer. Today I have learned that I'm in trouble without my keyboard, and my handwriting is chicken-scratch.  Though my penmanship has never been what you'd call "pretty", it has always been pretty much legible and uniform.   Being able to type fast is my bread and butter, and as such, I can type up a three page report way faster than I can hand-write one paragraph.  I think I need to get back to the basics, and stop being so dependent on all these electronic gadgets.  How sad that holding a pen and writing was almost painful, and that the writing looked so hideous.  Maybe Corey and Leyland will let me use their writing pads for practice.  


Pizza:  Have you ever wondered whether it makes a difference if you remove the cardboard thingy before putting the pizza on the pan to cook?  Nah, me neither.  But in case you ever did wonder, let me just go on ahead and tell you.  Yes.  Yes, it does.  Right now I'm having lunch, and I'm munching on my very own personal Freschetta Naturally Rising Pizza. I even added more veggies and mozzarella cheese on top to upgrade things a little bit.  The top looked nice and brown, the cheese was all bubbly, and the crust had done its "self rising" thing.  Took it out of the oven to find that I had forgotten to remove the cardboard.  In my defense, the cardboard was much smaller than the pizza itself, and the pizza so thick that I just didn't even look. It still tastes pretty good, but the center crust didn't get quite as done as it should have.  So, yes.  It matters.  Let me type write myself a note to remember to check next time.  


All or None:  This issue may have been resolved and a decision may already be in the books, but I have a gripe with the Barrow County School System.  Mary will be attending the new middle school here in Statham this fall, and there has been talk about school uniforms.  I personally think it would be a simpler and less expensive (in the long-run) alternative to wear uniforms.  But - there's that rebellious part of me that says "why should the government tell us how to dress our kids."  I know there are lots of good arguments FOR uniforms.  No problem at all if you send your children to private school.  That's pretty much standard practice.  But I'm still not comfortable with the thoughts of the government taking away yet another "choice", or "freedom".  What's even more heinous than that, is there is talk that wearing uniforms to the new middle school might be "optional".  OPTIONAL?  SERIOUSLY? Aside from the initial expense, what parent wouldn't opt for uniforms?  No more arguing over what to wear to school.  No more missed buses because Jane can't find her designer jeans, or Harry can't find his Falcons football jersey.  Laundry would be greatly simplified - dump a week's worth of school clothes in the washer/dryer and be done with it!  Less pressure on the not-so-fortunate kids to measure up wardrobe-wise.  But, optional?  Who wants to be the kid wearing school uniforms (because their parents made them), while other kids continue to enjoy self expression in their fashion choices?  Honestly.  I hope the issue has been resolved by now. If not, then we need to refer the People In Charge back to that all wise and wonderful Dr. Seuss concept we learned about in The Sneetches.  That should set them straight.  Do it, or don't do it.  But do it the same for everyone.  Mandate it (which I still disagree with), or Forget it.  


All or None Part 2:  And while I'm being grumpy about the schools, I also have a bone to pick with the State.  Pre-K.  I'm not saying Pre-K is a bad thing.   (But we do realize that our children are being raised 14 years of their lives by the government, right?  They are taught what is right and true and real... based on what our government wants them to learn.  Kinda scary!!)  But I digress.  Here again - Pre-K should be an all-or-none deal.  My grandchildren were fortunate enough to get selected, by some kind of random lottery system that I can't explain, to attend "free" Pre-K in the public school.  This program is funded by the Georgia Lottery folks, the same ones who fund the HOPE scholarship for college tuition.  Okay, that's a cool thing.  But let's be fair about it. We have a friend whose child (along with many others) didn't get selected in that random lottery thing, and these kids didn't get to go to the same Pre-K program that all the other kids did.  Their parents had two choices:  Pay to put them in a private program, or don't go at  all. That is absurd.  How unfair to the children, to the parents, and to the Pre-K teachers! Either make it a law to go to Pre-K and have all children go, or take it out of the school system altogether.  


HOPE:  I have long said that being able to go to college is a wonderful thing, but it is not required by law.  Children are required by law to attend school.  One study quoted by the AJC is that out of ten students who enter college with HOPE, only three will hold onto it the entire four years.  I understand that HOPE is the only way some kids could ever *hope* to attend college.  But... I wonder if that money wouldn't be wiser spent on better educating kids in grades K-12.  Even if it meant dropping Pre-K. College and Pre-K are not mandatory.  Again, I understand the wonderful opportunity that HOPE gives to a lot of kids, but many of these kids can't keep HOPE simply because they are in culture shock when they go from hometown high school to college.  Just because a kid has a 3.0 GPA in high school, does not mean they are ready for college.  And it seems an awful lot of money is *wasted* (for lack of a better word) on a few semesters of college, when that money could have been spent to better educate the student during K-12. However- Hear me clearly on this:  I am NOT laying any of the fault of crappy education on the backs of teachers.  Teachers are my heroes.  There are so many amazing teachers in Barrow County. My grandchildren have been blessed with the most amazing teachers on the planet, and we love them and truly appreciate them!! Unfortunately, they are restricted by what they can and can't do, or say, or teach.  Political Correctness trumps truth and common sense nowadays, and teachers are caught in the middle.  I say they do a fabulous job within the restrictions of the government, but WOW how different would it be, with technology today, if teachers were free to teach like back when I was a kid!!


The F Word:  We all know the word of which I speak.  The one that stand-up comedians love to use, and that Hollywood loves to weave into movie scripts.  The F-Bombs that get bleeped on awards shows and late-night talk shows.  Well, imagine my shock and horror when one day my mom called me up and informed me that "Corey said the F word today."  Whaaaaaaaaaat???   But hold on a minute... GiGi's idea of the F word is a little different from everyone else's.  She has always hated the word *fart* and just cringes and almost goes into seizures whenever one of us says the word. (So, of course, we do it just to get her riled up....) I do believe she hates it almost as much as the "real" F word.  Nowadays the word is considered part of everyday language, and ... well, it just is what it is... and isn't even considered a funny word any more.  But yeah, it is kinda funny when Corey says it because of they way he pronounces his "r" sound.  So when he says "faht", it rhymes with "hot".  And my mom just goes off the deep end.  It is so hilarious.  So yesterday, I get an e-mail from Amazon.Com about a free Kindle download.  I have Kindle reader on all  my devices, so I went to Amazon to check out the free book.  Because I'm all about some Free Stuff.  I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw the title of the book:  The Boy Who Farted and Flew to the Moon.  I kid you not.  So of course I simply HAD to download the book.  It is hilarious, and uses the word so matter-of-factly in the story that, unless you had been raised all your life thinking it was a *bad word*, you just wouldn't think anything about it.  I couldn't wait to call my mom and read it to her.  She almost choked on her sweet tea. Then I called my Aunt Peggy, who absolutely adores the word, and we got my mom on a three-way call. Right there on the phone, I read them the story about of Tommy, a unfortunate kid with a serious flatulence problem, and how he turned it into an outer-space adventure.  It seems like silly stuff, although a subject that some (like Dear Old Mom) would find highly objectionable in the children's section of the library, and of little value literature-wise.  However, I say if it will get kids to read, and since it's not a foreign concept to ANYONE (we all do it, whether we talk about it or not...) then let 'em have at it.  There are some subjects, of course, that are inappropriate reading for children, but I think you'll hook more kids with a fart book than you will The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.  (No offense, Ms. Buck - but I detested every nanosecond I was forced to read from that book!!!)  If a kid learns to love reading, it is their ticket to the universe, and they need never ever be bored in life.  So, Fart On, Tommy!!!!

For your own free Kindle version, visit Amazon.Com and type the title into the search box.  I think it will be available for free download until midnight tonight.  

And with that final shout-out to literacy, I shall wrap up this version of Tumbleweeds.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sunday Night Church (From A Deeper Story)

You know sometimes when you're thinking a particular thought, and you ask yourself "what in the world made me think of that?"  And then try to trace it back to the original thought that made you think that? (or am I the only dorky one who does that?)

Like:  Because I forgot to put some water in the fridge, I didn't have anything cold to drink. So I put a bottle in the freezer for a quick chill.  Knowing I would forget about it, I set the timer on the stove, because we know that liquid freezes and can sometimes break the container that it's in.  And then I thought about the cocker spaniel puppy we had when I was a kid that got locked up in the smokehouse and got drunk on some homemade wine my daddy made, because the jar froze and burst in the winter time.  Then I thought about the switches that my parents would cut (to stripe my legs!) from the bushes outside that smokehouse.  That lead to thinking of one time when we were kids and my brother told my parents he got bit by a kitten, and his finger was bleeding.  But the "kitten" was a tiny mouse that he found in a little nest underneath a bush out by the front of our house.  One thought just lead to another. 

So, when I found myself thinking about my brother's bleeding finger, I traced my thoughts back to my unchilled bottle of water.  Frozen things break containers.  Puppy dog got drunk from a burst container of homemade wine.  Bushes that grew outside the smokehouse had some awfully wicked switches.  Bushes in front of another house were home to a nest of mice.  My brother got bit by one of them.  Bloody finger. 

More often than not, these days, I can never make it back to the original thought that launched me to wherever I find myself.  Either I get distracted, or I stinkin' forget what the thought was that I was trying to trace.  Oh the joys of getting older!!!!

And now, I'm frustrated because I can't even remember why "retracing my thoughts" was an important introduction to this blog post.  ......sigh......

Maybe it will come to me before I push the "publish" button, but if it doesn't, well, there's just another glimpse inside the mind of Yours Truly.  

tick tock, tick tock.. minutes pass...

Oh, yes!  I remember now!!  Today I'm going to share a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Jen Hatmaker.  She is one of a group of people who post to a website called A Deeper Story.  I "discovered" Jen from someone on FB who posted a link to a story she had written about being a horrible mom by the end of the school year.  I loved the article, and her writing style, so I kept clicking links until I ended up at Jen's FB page, and ultimately The Deeper Story website.  (Incidentally, a Jen was recently a guest on The Today Show, after her horrible-mom article went viral on the Internet.  It was so fun to see her *in person*, after reading so many of her articles!)  

Her article is titled "Sunday Night Church."

It has been years since I was a regular Sunday-night church-goer, though I do have many fond memories of the days when our youth group was large and active, and we occupied the three or four benches in the back of the church.  We passed notes, secretly held hands with our sweethearts and sang the songs with gusto, at the top of our lungs.  Only occasionally did we get in trouble with our parents for giggling or talking, though I'm sure the pastor would probably have liked to call us down a time or two. Over time, I just got out of the habit of going.  When Whitney came along, we did family stuff on Sunday nights.  Then, for many years, I worked on Sunday evenings. 

We recently got ourselves a new preacher at SFBC, and that rascal occasionally does this thing where he does Part 1 of the message on Sunday mornings, and Part 2 on Sunday nights.  Now, I can't speak for the others, but I'd personally rather he just go on ahead and finish the message on Sunday morning, even if it means staying a little bit longer, because I really want to hear the conclusion. About noon-time you start hearing the muted beep-beep-beep of some folks' watches or cell phones, and no doubt he hears them too.  There's not many Baptists who are much interested in staying even one minute after 12:00. For the most part Pastor Mike has us out of there before, or shortly after, the alarms start beeping, especially on those days when he has a "to be continued...." sermon.  I'm sure I've missed some mighty fine Part 2 messages by not attending on Sunday nights.

But... there's this thing we do.  You all know that one of my most favorite places on the planet is DJ and David's deck.  Weather permitting, Saturday mornings usually find us outside drinking coffee (sometimes covered in blankets, our breath forming visible vapors when we talk)  This is our haven of peace, and the place where our souls connect with the universe, the place where we see rainbows and unicorns.  (Well, not so much on the rainbows and unicorns any more - maybe in the olden days when our cups contained something other than coffee...)  

For many years, DJ and David have had Family Night Dinner at their house on Sunday evening.  For those of you who do  not know, DJ and I are not actually blood related.  Yet we share the same families, by the scientific concept of osmosis.  I belong to her family, and she belongs to mine.  It's the most fabulous thing!!  And though I have been "family" for a very long time, it is only since I have been living in The Hood that I have been a regular attendee of Family Night Dinner on Sundays.  

Sadly, the passage of time has resulted in some empty chairs around the table, and we are missing loved ones.  DJ lost her dad, her mom, and her sister all within a short span of time.  Of course she has her husband, but two nieces, a great niece and nephew are her closest blood relatives.  To say family is important is to say we need oxygen to breathe.  There is no quantifying the level of "importance".  

So, we skip Sunday Night Church to maintain the tradition, and keep strong the ties that bind.  

Today Jen's post is titled Sunday Night Church.  When I read it, I felt an immediate kinship, and have a perfect understanding.  This is so us.  (Well, except for the part about the wine....)  And I wanted to share. 

Sunday Night Church

by Jen Hatmaker

If you didn’t grow up in Christian subculture, this will probably make zero sense. But for you who did, do you remember Sunday Night Church?
Listen, any yahoo could manage Sunday Morning Church, but SNC was for the die-hards. Having barely snuck in an afternoon nap, it was straight back to church at 6:00pm for the dyed-in-the-wool Baptists like us. We didn’t even play, man.
SNC was the canvas for looser programming, having already pledged allegiance to the choir, Sandi Patti-esque soloist, and senior pastor in the a.m. SNC was the space for traveling evangelists, missionary testimonies, Youth Group Camp Reporting Night, and my dad’s favorite…quartets. (To this day, I can pick out a bass line in a gospel ensemble in one bar.) You knew it was a whole ‘nother deal when the pastor wore his casual khakis and no tie. With those sorts of liberties, we were but one emotional outburst away from clapping.
But I’ll tell you why I loved SNC. As you might have surmised, it wasn’t the guest preachers or hand bell concerts. In fact, it had nothing to do with the programing at all. It was simply this: the youth group “went out” every Sunday night after church. We begged $5.00 off our parents and put one dollar of gas into willing drivers’ cars (<–true story) and unleashed a whole gaggle of young evangelicals onto the unsuspecting city of Wichita, Kansas. Mr. Gatti’s, sand volleyball, swimming, whatever. Once we rented a movie and one guy accidentally chose a horror flick with a little T&A, and as self-respecting True Love Waits graduates, we shamed him until he drove away in a huff.
These comprise some of my favorite memories.
I don’t even know if Sunday Night Church is still a thing, but let me tell you how we’ve carried the tradition forward. Our little hippie church doesn’t have a night service, but we get together with our two best couple friends virtually every weekend for “SNC” on one of our porches, which we’ve all named with inventive tropical irony. We know that after the big lunch has digested and the naps have been taken and the littles are put to bed, it’s time.
After sussing out the details over texts, we gather on someone’s patio with wine and cheese and leftover desserts, and we have us some churchWe’ve solved practically every problem on earth, or at least hashed it out real good. Usually SNC is for laughing and pure folly, such as watching funny YouTubes like a bunch of juveniles. Sometimes one of us is in the weeds, and we do a lot of listening. Occasionally we wade into theology and orthodoxy, as we’ve all stretched further than we ever thought these last few years. Or we watch football and pledge to finally break up with the Cowboys.
The same connective thread remains 20+ years after my youth group days: If Jesus is the heart of the church, people are the lifeblood. There is a reason He set us in community and told us to practice grace and love and camaraderie and presence. People soften the edges and fill in the gaps. While believers can wound each other beyond measure, they can also make up some of the best parts of the whole story.
We live in a strange, unprecedented time where face-to-face relationships in actual time and space are becoming optional. It’s tricky, this online connection, because it can be so meaningful and true, and I’ve personally experienced it give way to actual in-real-life friendships I treasure. But it can also steal from friends on porches, the ones who know your middle name, talking about real life over cheese and wine. I fear it is no substitute for practiced, physical presence, and it will certainly never take the place of someone looking you in the eye, padding around in your kitchen in their bare feet, making you take a blind taste test on variations of olives, walking in your front door unannounced, without knocking.
Maybe it’s time for you to start your own SNC. Perhaps it won’t start until 8:30pm like ours because of All The Kids. Maybe it will be a MNC or a WNC or a standing breakfast date on Thursday mornings where you become so regular you have “a table.” Whatever the opposite of fancy is, that’s what we’re talking about here. 90% of our SNC dates are in pajama pants.
Don’t imagine that because connecting doesn’t take place on a church campus it is any less sacred. Prioritizing each other and creating a space to belong is holy territory, whether a Sunday School class or a back porch. In a media world with a thousand accounts and profiles, life can still be crushingly lonely. When my online world has gone off the rails and folks misunderstand me and all the internet chatter is just too much, nothing fixes me right up like sitting on a porch with old friends, Texas country on the speakers, real life taking its rightful place again.
So here is my invitation to establish your own version of SNC…traveling evangelist optional, although I highly recommend the hand bells.
~Jen Hatmaker

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Disclaimer:  this post is being written from a mobile device and will most probably be fraught with typos. I seriously suck at typing without a real keyboard. But it is presently storming and the PC is safely unplugged. And I'm too lazy to fire up the laptop. My apologies.

I titled this post tumbleweeds because my thoughts are scattered and tossed about like ....  well, like tumbleweeds.

It was a great day today. Started off the morning with an early wake-up call from the very loud garbage trucks. The holiday this week got them off schedule, so instead of pickup on Friday, we got to enjoy the noisy process this morning. That's okay, though, because I got up early enough to join DJ for coffee and girl time. David had to work, so we had several hours to ourselves. I love that girl, and treasure our time together.

The kittens had to go in today for their rabies shots. They were too young to get the shots when I adopted them, so the AHS folks gave me a voucher to take to their clinic. Poor babies were distressed by the trip, and we were all glad to get back home.

I had to do a little grocery shopping after that, then stopped by Whitney's for a second to drop off some things.  She has been in ultra crafty mode lately, and a few days ago tried her hand at some acrylic painting. She has designed and painted a couple of really nice pieces for herself, and after seeing that she really has a knack for it, yesterday I mentioned that she needed to learn how to paint palm trees (my favorite decor theme). Last night she texted a  picture of her latest piece - and I was so surprised!!  I am so impressed with and  proud of her talent!!!  I had no idea when I asked her to "learn to paint palm trees" that within a few hours she would create this gorgeous piece!! She never ceases to amaze me!!  She gave me the picture today, and I have added it to my stash of decor items (that I have yet to hang/display - even though in a few weeks it will be the one-year anniversary of my return to The 409.)

Sunset Palm - by Whitney B. Veal

After errands  all afternoon, I was pretty tired and not much interested in cooking. A quick trip to my garden netted a handful of cherry tomatoes, so I decided a grilled chicken salad would be the perfect dinner.  Thanks to Tyson's clever packaging of pre-cooked southwest chicken fajita strips, my "cooking" consisted of boiling an egg and heating the chicken. How sweet is that!!  And how exciting - to make a salad with cucumbers and tomatoes that I grew myself!!

The only bad thing to report about this day is that my microwave did not survive the electrical disaster of Thursday morning - and was probably the source of the horribly loud popping noises I heard.  While I'm  not happy that it happened, I am ever so grateful that my house and all other major appliances seem to have escaped damage.  It could truly have resulted in much greater loss.

Something else I confirmed this week. Diet Cokes make you fat.  I came off them cold turkey, and haven't had one in over two months. (Well, except for week two when I did a Wendy's drive through and ordered one out of habit.). I have been drinking water.  Lots of water. A week or so ago I weighed at a friend's house, but wasn't that confident in the integrity of the scales. They looked older than me. But I liked the results. On Friday while I was at the hospital working, I weighed on some "real" scales, and the results confirmed what I had seen earlier on the old, antique scales at my friend's house. Since coming off the diet Cokes, without any other appreciable change in my eating, I have dropped 12 pounds!!  While that may not sound like much to some, it is a miracle of Biblical proportions to me!!!  Especially since it takes me longer than that to lose 12 lb when I am TRYING!!  So, I'm hoping to start making other changes as well and lose a bit more. :-)

Well, the gozillianth rainstorm of the day has just passed, this one complete with thunder and lightning, and all seems quiet outside The 409.  I think I shall go have myself a shower and maybe go to bed.  My idea of  the perfect Saturday night.  Quiet and uneventful.  I guess I'm getting old, but that's just how I roll these days.  Just a tired, old, dusty tumbleweed.  :-)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Toro! Toro! Toro!

Okay.  So we have established the fact that I can’t keep a husband or a working lawn mower.  It’s a conspiracy.  Seems like whenever I had a husband, I didn’t hafta worry about a lawn mower.  I already told everyone (and God) that I don’t want another husband.  But I really would like to be able to have a working lawn mower. 

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I have personally killed about four lawn mowers since I have lived here at The 409.  I didn’t abuse them, I promise.  I have always taken good care of them.  I won’t bore you with the details, but if you are so inclined, you can do a search on this blog for “lawn mower”, and you can catch up on my turbulent relationships with lawn mowers (and husbands, if you wish.)  The most recent mower was purchased toward the end of last summer, and I absolutely love it. A shiny red Toro self-propelled one.  I love that I can crank it with one pull of the rope, even after it sat over the winter, and each subsequent time out of the shed.

Happy Cathy!

Unfortunately, first trip out of the shed this summer, and the self-propel mechanism went out.  It was only about six months old, and had only been used three or four times at the end of last summer. So in good faith, I returned it to Home Depot.  My first moment of angst was when they told me it would take four weeks to repair it and get it back.  They were not impressed with my grumbling and eye rolling, and told me "four weeks, ma'am, at least". Thankfully, my dad was willing to take care of the mowing, and as it was early in the season, every couple of weeks was plenty enough.  My second moment of angst was 4 ½ weeks later, when I was told I would be charged $52.00.  Even worse, no one could tell me why.  They would be able to tell me once it was delivered and we would look at the ticket.  A few days later, one phone call said the mower was ready to be picked up, and arrangements were made to go get it.  A few hours later, another phone call said, no, in fact, it had not  been delivered to the store, but because it was en route, the paperwork had been completed, and the service call marked as done. So they assumed it had been delivered. Still no explanation on why there was a charge.  Finally, the moment came for me to pick up the mower, and I learn that the problem was not in the motor, rather the belt that operates the self-propel thingy had burned up.  And we all know that “belts” are considered routine maintenance, and not covered under warranty. My blood pressure is starting to rise.  The sweet young lady behind the counter had no idea as to why they would have kept my mower for four weeks, and then fix it, and charge me for a repair that was not covered by the warranty, without at least a courtesy phone call first.  My dad could have fixed the belt, and I wouldn’t have been without my mower for over a month.  I  stomped my foot a few times, but I realized the young girl behind the counter was not at fault. The gentleman from “Receiving” agreed with me that it did't seem quite right, and gave me the number of the folks in Atlanta who do the repairs. He felt I should not have been charged at all, under the circumstances. I knew I'd never see the money refunded, but I sure wanted to voice my displeasure with the way it was handled.  I called and left several messages.  So far, I have yet to hear from them. 

The busy days of summer were in full swing, and with lots of stuff going on, I simply forgot to follow up on it.  I was just happy to have my mower back home, in perfect running condition.  My dad had just cut the grass a few days before we picked it up, so I was good for another couple of weeks.

With all the rain we’ve been having, the grass has been growing at a very fast pace, and has required mowing on a weekly basis.  Today was either my third or fourth time using the mower since I got it back from the repair shop.

Not quite halfway through the job, I noticed that it seemed like it was moving awfully slow, and I was having to put forth an effort.  I tilted it onto the back wheels and... Oh, no!  The front wheels were not turning.  Again.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried pushing a self-propelled mower without the self-propel thingy working.  There’s something about the way it is constructed that makes it more difficult to push than a regular push mower.  Oh, it’s a breeze when it’s working properly; sometimes I have to almost do a little trot to keep up with it.  But when I have to use my actual strength and muscles to push it – that’s a different story altogether.  

Clearly, if I had wanted a human-powered push mower, I’d have purchased one of those in the first place.  No, I wanted a self-propelled mower, so that's what I purchased. 

I do love cutting the grass, errr… walking behind the mower and guiding it across the yard.  It’s a nice workout, and one of the few times I work up a sweat and get really dirty.  I crank up the iPod, and listen to music.  I sort things out in my head, I pray, I have imaginary conversations with people, and sometimes vent my anger and frustration at whatever has me angry or frustrated.  So, it’s truly not that I don’t like cutting grass.  I do.  I just HATE it when the equipment doesn’t work.

And did I mention that I had to cut the remainder of the yard (the entire back yard) the old-fashioned way? By actually pushing the mower.  But, it was worse than the old-fashioned way, because it was harder to push than a regular mower.  Whine. 

So, here we are in the middle of a hot, rainy summer, and my mower is broken again.  I gotta say, I’m pretty pissed about it.  I’ll be calling Home Depot tomorrow, and hope that I will wait patiently while they page the manager.  I hope I will be sweet and kind, but firm and expectant.  I hope that I will be a happy customer when it’s all said and done. What I’d really like is for them to tell me to bring my mower in, and they will give me another one.  What I am afraid they will tell me is to bring it in and they will send it off.  Ummm. No.  We won’t be doing that.  Not unless they will give me one to use for the next four or five weeks that it would be gone.  And not if they are going to charge me another $52.00 to “fix” it. 

"Tora! Tora! Tora!" was the code word the Japanese used during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I'm really hoping I don't have to resort to "Toro! Toro! Toro!" with Home Depot over my mower.  But, I am ready to assume attack mode if necessary.

I would ask you to pray for me tomorrow – but it might be better if you pray for the Home Depot Man.

I’m just waiting for that one as-yet elusive summer where I can make it through the entire grass-growing-mowing season without my mower spending half the summer in the shop. 

Seriously.  Ain't nobody got time for that!
I'm far too cheap and poor to hire a yard man.  So if I continue to have problems, I guess I will end up taking boyfriend/husband applications.   And it’s SO not worth it for three hours a week in the summer just to get my yard work done…