Today is my day off and I have done quite a lot of little errands and chores. One of the more dreaded tasks for the day was mowing my grass. Yuck and awful and all that. But it had to be done, so I did it.

All was going really well until I finished up and had stored the mower and was walking back to my house. I was wearing ear buds attached to my phone that was in its normal storage place. Which may or may NOT be a pocket. Anyway, I looked down for some reason and I’m like 85% sure I saw a GIANT spider crawling up my chest. Well of course I flipped the eff out and brushed it away. But I was wearing a deep-ish cut shirt and I couldn’t tell for sure of I brushed it off of me or down my shirt. Which of course was an unpleasant feeling. In the process of brushing myself off in my gravel driveway, my phone fell out of my “pocket” and landed in the driveway, pulling out the ear buds. I tossed my sunglasses next to it, stepped out of my flip flops and started looking down my shirt.

Clearly I looked quite absurd dancing around my driveway fluffing my hair and staring down my shirt. So I ran over to my back patio and stripped down. Never did see another hint of the spider, but as I’d pulled my shirt over my head, I got worried it was in my hair, so I ran inside and immediately into a cold shower.

Needless to say, I never saw the spider again, except for that fleeting glimpse that sparked the whole mess. Once I was clothed again, I went to retrieve all the items I’d discarded outside. The one thing I was most concerned with finding was the key to the lawn mower. Everything else was big enough that I knew I’d track it down. The phone was undamaged and my sunglasses unscathed. But that key… it wasn’t anywhere. Not in my jeans pockets, not on the pile of clothes, not in any visible spot among the gravel where I’d dropped my shoes, glasses and phone. Damn.

I thought for a moment that I might have brought it inside after all, but I’ve looked in all the places I can think of in the house and no luck.

So… do I call John Deere or a locksmith? I imagine a replacement can be acquired, but at what cost and how long will I have to wait? I’ll be honest though, I’m looking forward to the short reprieve from lawn mowing. Can’t do much without a key!

As I went out to mow my grass today, I honestly thought lawn mowing issues were a best-forgotten part of my past. Perhaps that was my downfall. A disaster was looming.

This is an issue that’s been creeping up in little mini-disasters since my grass started growing again this year. The dreaded flat tire.

At first the disasters were ingorable. Sure, every row I mowed was cut higher on one side than the other. But it wasn’tbad, it was just a tiny little thing that no one but me would notice. Over time, that lopsided nature of the rows became less easily ignored, but still I mowed on, week after week. One afternoon while getting my mower out of (yet another) impossible position I’d managed to wedge it into, the Fella pointed to the back left tire. “That’s flat.”

And yes, it was. There was no denying it. I’d managed to convince myself that I was leaning to the left while riding along in the seat because my left side was significantly heavier than my right. Had nothing to do with my completely flat back left tire…. Nothing at all.

But once the Fella is on the case, he is quite persistent. He wouldn’t let me ignore the issue any more. He took my patched together cigarette-lighter charged air pump and checked to see if it was still functioning. It was not. An evening was spent re-patching, trying the cigarette lighters of both our cars, checking the fuse, and finally dumping the old piece of shit. A few days later, he bought me a new tire pump.

That was a little over two weeks ago.  The pump has been in its bag in my bedroom since. I had big plans for today (as I always do on my days off), and first on the list was eliminating the foot-tall yellow flowering weeds that had sprung up in my yard since last I operated my mower. I checked the gasoline, pulled the mower (with exceptional difficulty — flat tires make rolling heavy things difficult) out of the garage and up next to my car, where I’d assembled my tire pump. I was excited to get going on the thing until I took a closer look at the flat tire. Well F-ing A. It was the same tire Dad and I removed ages ago to such disastrous results. And when we’d put the hub cap back on (again, with exceptional difficulty — nothing about this machine is user-friendly) we’d neglected to note that the little air refill nubby thing was NOT poking through the designated hole. Essentially, this amounts to me having to REMOVE the hub cap in order to pump air into the tire.

I cried a little. Don’t think poorly of me, I know this is nothing, under normal circumstances. Removing a hub cap should be an easy business. BUT IT ISN’T. The ‘nut’ or ‘bolt’ or WHATEVER holding the hub cap on is entirely round and perfectly smooth. HOW DOES ONE REMOVE SUCH A THING? It’s about a quarter of an inch wide and butted right up against the cap, which is fairly indented at that point itself. I don’t know how else to describe this except that in the moment I saw this, I had flashes of a memory of Dad struggling to remove it before. It came off somehow after a fair amount of time on his part, but unfortunately, my flashes of memory (mostly blocked because of the misery of the experience) did not include a solution to my current predicament. Sigh.

Fortunately I have my Fella, who said he’d look at it later. Unfortunately, I’m afraid by the next opportunity I have to mow the grass, my weeds will have developed consciousness and started fighting back.

And to top it all off, I just drank a swig of a diet coke that’s been sitting on my bedside table for three days. Blurgh. But it’s been awhile since I’ve had any frustrations to vent in this forum, so cheers to that!

PS, Happy Birthday Mom!! I love you!

And if God is laughing, I might as well laugh too. And for bonus points, I’ll share the laughter with you all!

Last time I tried to mow my grass, I would say the venture was half successful. I declined to share the story here because it seemed a bit like complaining, but it adds a little flavor to my woes of today, so I’ll throw it in for good measure.

I mowed the front yard without incident. I thought “Hey! This is actually gonna be easy! For once!”

Then I hopped off to open the fence to the back yard and the whole endeavor fell apart. I attempted to restart the mower to no avail. I pushed pins, lifted levers, turned knobs, clutched cranked and eventually, almost cried. The darn thing wasn’t even trying to turn over. Nothing I did worked. Nothing was happening. Gah.

Even worse, my eight hundred pound lawn mower was stranded quite some way away from my storage shed. Though I am not a frail little lady or particularly unwilling to get my hands dirty and sweat a little, there was no way I was going to be able to push that mower to the shed in less than an hour’s time. Ridiculous.

Fortunately, I know some clever people and only a couple of days later, it was determined that my battery was not well connected. Or whatever. Anyway, that was remedied and I was able to DRIVE that monstrosity back to the shed.

And today  I was bound and determined to mow both front and back yards again. The front yard was already beginning to look bad again and the back? Oh my, it was atrocious.

So this morning I got started early. I threw open the shed door with enthusiasm for the task at hand. I pulled (with all my might, may I add) the darned thing out into the driveway and started it up. With ease! Oh, finally, this time was going to be easy. Surely I had dealt with all of my mower issues and all would be well.

Once I’d driven into the grass, I engaged the mower blade. No, I take that back. I turned the lever to engage the blade, but nothing happened. Sigh. Of course nothing happened. Why would I ever think mowing my grass would be EASY?

My wonderful Dad suggested the owner’s manual for trouble shooting. Amazingly, MY MOWER BLADE WON’T ENGAGE is not among the trouble shooting topics. Really?

But I began to notice a pattern among the other mower deck/blade questions – the belt. So the belt was a potential problem. Ok, so back out in the front yard, on hands and knees, butt sticking up in the air checking the belt. Voila! The belt was unlooped from the little pulley things. And that’s as technical as I can get 🙂

For real though, for it being as easy as it obviously was for the belt to come unlooped, it was ridiculously difficult to re-loop it. There’s this bar sticking up that’s supposed to prevent the belt from slipping out (obviously a failure) that made it nearly impossible to get it back in place. I ended up using a pair of pliers (ummm… or a wrench? I’m not really sure which is which) to pry the bar away from the pulley so I could re-loop the stupid belt. All the time, butt sticking up in the air in my front yard. So attractive.

BUT I DID IT! I felt absolutely unstoppable after solving this dilemma. I plowed through both the front and back yards,  beautifying my property with ease.

Then I got a little cocky with it. I started taking corners at excessive speed.  I finished the yards proper and there’s this tiny little bit of grass near my shed  that is awfully difficult to mow with my gigantic riding lawn mower, as I have a gravel driveway and the mower blades don’t like the gravel driveway. But I can do anything and so I tried it out. It went smoothly for 0.267 seconds. I made a sharp turn and ran half the mower into a flower bed up against the fence. If you’re having a hard time visualizing this scenario:

Lawn Mower Situation

So don’t worry too much about scaling… obviously the mower in the upper left hand corner is far too large to ever to have found itself in that position, but let’s just assume it did.

 
The barrier into the flower bed (which, let’s be honest, is hosting honey suckles and weeds at the moment, and maybe a few chipmunks) is an old telephone pole laying on its side. It protrudes quite a lot from the ground. I drove over it too fast. I could not build enough reverse speed to undo my damage. Nor could I pull it out from behind. Nor could I push it from the front. That particular attempt resulted in a LARGE bruise on my thigh and quite a few scratches up my leg as I slid rather forcefully to the ground.
 
Fantastic.
 
It was at this point that I started laughing hysterically. Honestly, who else could get themselves into this much trouble JUST trying to mow the grass? I’m pretty sure God is trying to tell me that I just need to let the weeds be. To hell with being a good homeowner.
 
However, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I am just trying to excuse myself from further attempts to dominate this machine that clearly is intent upon dominating me. Time after time. Not next time! I will prevail!
 
Only… can someone come help me un-stick it first?
 
 

Ok. It was Wednesday that I declared to my Facebook Friends that I would mow my grass at 4:30 that afternoon.

Confession: I didn’t do it.

BUT! I did do it this morning (and it’s only like 2 and a half days later!) and that has to count for something, right?

And to be honest, now it’s done, I’m not sure why I was stalling. It was…easy. I think Saturday mid-morning is the socially acceptable time to mow one’s lawn, so I guess it was a good time for me to debut into the world of concerned and involved homeowners.

Only problem with that is, I wasn’t the only person out cutting the grass. My next door neighbor (also a woman) was pulling out her mower at the same time I was dragging mine bodily from the garage.

[Side Note: Dad got me my new wheel key and we successfully engineered the riding lawn mower into full functionality again about two weeks ago. Yay Dad!! I love you!]

Anyway. My neighbor and I were about to be mowing our yards at the same time. I feel like there has to be some unwritten etiquette that I am unaware of in this situation. Whoever gets their mower turned on first goes first. Sort of like…bowling. You don’t bowl at the same time as the people next to you. It’s rude. Right?

Also I felt like an ass with my gigantic riding lawn mower, because the woman next door was using a push mower. An ELECTRIC push mower. I am a polluting, lazy jerk.

My front yard was in the most desperate need of attention, and their front yard is facing another direction entirely, so I made for the front yard first. Maybe like 20 minutes later, I was ready to move on to the back yard and it looked like the woman next door was just making her way around her back yard fully for the first time. She was mowing against the fence our back yards share. Crap.

Her poor little electric mower was being put to the test against a whole bunch of weeds and I was about to cruise along past and shoot my chewed up grass through the fence onto her. That felt rude. But I wanted to get the show on the road! I was hot! And sweaty. And uncomfortable.

But I’m nothing if not polite in awkward situations, so I hopped off the mower and went inside to cool off. I gave her fifteen minutes and then finished up the back yard with some serious ease.

Mowing the grass is actually a very satisfying activity. An hour of work and a dramatic result. Like doing laundry or vacuuming a cat-fur-lined rug. Heck, I may even retain this chore if I ever do get the opportunity to hand it over to a spouse again. He can just use the weed eater.

Because let’s be honest. If it took me 28 years to mow the grass on my own, it’s probably going to be another 28 before I figure out how to operate a weed eater! 😉

OR
Liz Attempts Yard Work As It Is Spring and Her Grass (read: WEEDS) Is Beginning To Grow

OR
A Wheel Pin and a Pin Wheel Are Two Entirely Different Things, No Matter What You Might Think

OR
My Dad Is Terrific But We’re Both Unobservant As Heck

OR
Yard Work Is Just as Crappy As I Thought It Would Be, and I Will Continue To Avoid It If At All Possible

Ok, I think that I’ve sufficiently titled this piece. It should be known from the start that I loathe yard work, despite rather enjoying being outdoors when it’s nice weather. It is entirely possible my loathing of yard work stems from only on the rarest of occasions being asked to participate in that activity during my formative years, and witnessing the sweaty, exhausted mess my dad always looked upon completion of these tasks.

In the last year, however, I’ve had to put in a little effort to make the outside of my house (halfway) presentable. I can now confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that yard work does indeed suck and I tend to look much like my father looks after spending much time at it.

It should also be known that my dad is an amazing man who is making up for his failure (just joshin’, Dad) to teach me about how to take care of one’s property as a youth by making the two-hour trip down from Birmingham to help me with the disaster the Ex and I created over the last three years in this home. He’s had a few month reprieve with the wintry weather, but spring has officially sprung and my weeds are again thriving and in need of a trim. So Dad drove down to teach me how to use my riding lawn mower on Saturday.

Some things you should know about this mower:

  • It is about nine years old.
  • the Ex was formerly jumping off the battery and pumping up two of the tires before each use.
  • Neither Dad nor I have any idea how to use it.
  • It has had nothing but the most basic maintenance paid to it since the Ex and I obtained it seven years ago.

Dad had excellent intentions at the outset: get the tires patched so we don’t have to pump them up before every use. Last time he was kind enough to replace the battery, a generally successful venture. Saturday, it was to be the tires. And they were! Oh, those poor tires were beautifully whole again, and the only expense was $30 and a couple of trips to the tire shop.

And the tires went back on the mower with a fair amount of ease. And we filled the gas tank. And we cranked it up. And we engaged the wheels. Aaaaaand… nothing. The mower did not move. Dad and I, not being small-engine savvy, were a bit stumped. But as I say, my father is something of a genius, and after we found the owner’s manual online, Dad did a little hunting and discovered that the problem was probably a missing Wheel Pin.

Ten minutes and removal of both back wheels proved that this theory was correct. When the back tire was removed, the wheel pin (a little rectangular metal pin that fits into a groove on the axle) had fallen out. Fine and dandy, just search the driveway and it shouldn’t be too hard to miss, right?

Wrong. I have a gravel driveway, if you recall. Once lost, one might as well be hunting one’s teenaged daughter at a Justin Bieber concert. Or perhaps an autographed copy of the Bible. It just isn’t likely to happen unless you are extremely, extremely lucky. And of course, Dad and I are not known for our abilities to find needles in haystacks (or even boxes of cereal in small pantries), so our efforts (long though they may have been) were for naught. No wheel pin was located. And sadly, it was really too late in the day to acquire a new one.

And so, my weeds live to grow another week. Or two. Or ya know, until someone complains, which in my neighborhood, isn’t likely to happen until August, if ever. Viva la Weeds!