Lawn Mower Disaster!
Alas, this is a sad story. Avert your eyes, ye weak of heart. Arm yourself with tissues, ye who are brave enough to wade in.
Once upon a time I owned a lawn tractor. A gleaming, shining, red lawn tractor. My, it was a beauty to behold! It had headlights, to my delight, and a cushioned seat, that was neat, a big nubby tires to yield a smooth ride, and that was fine. There were more bells and whistles that I could shake a stick at or mow over, so to speak.
But what was most transfixing was the silver keyhole. (Insert Angels singing here.) And in my hand I gripped the tiny key attached to the heart keyring in my sweaty palm. It wasn't brand new, but it only had couple of seasons on it-I was thrilled.
You see, I have the summers off. Therefore I am the caretaker of the lawn. It's a job I enjoy, for the most part. There is no satisfaction quite like the sweat of true hard work manicuring the landscape and grass. Plus, it's a freebie tanning appointment so it's a two for one. So you can now perhaps understand my excitement of owning this venerable piece of equipment.
The old rider rarely obeyed. The steering was loosey-goosey, the seat was metal, and the clutch pedal stopped the machine sporadically. And there was certainly NO KEYHOLE! It was shoulder-breaking work to yank start it, and it had to be in the, 'mood.' You, know, you had to play, "At Last," by Etta James, and fondle the throttle. Whoa. A little PG-13, there.
So when I set my eyes on that Murray wonder, I fairly squealed in delight. We paid six hundred dollars for it in '92, which was way too much, but that is a way different story. I sat on the black vinyl seat-ahhhh! I pushed in the clutch-no ear wrenching squeaks. Lovely. I inserted the key and turned. I know my mouth fell open at the ease at which the engine fired. Briggs and Stratton, baby, humming like a momma rocking a sleeping child.
I reveled in the gears. It would creep in first gear. That was helpful in avoiding the doors of the shed where I stored it. And it had fifth gear that was great fun with the blade disengaged and my children in my lap. But I settled comfortably in third gear when I was out to do some serious mowing. But the gear that I was most thankful for was reverse.
You see, the old mower didn't have reverse. Ever tried to mow a whole yard only going forward? It's a tricky business, and the scenery gets really old. It's takes twice as long. On the Murray, I was done in 30 minutes. I, was in love.
Now, time moves on to time, and the Murray became part of our normal equipment. I stopped picking up sticks in the yard before I mowed. It was easier to run over them. And being a bit scatterbrained, I left the occasional item in the yard, like my dad's wooden handled hammer, and I would accidentally run over these things. Oops. Sorry, Dad.
"Gotta replace these blades."
I gasped. I'd been very bad. Running over random things had become my habit. I knew I had to mend my ways. And I was much more careful in the following weeks.
Of course, old habits come to the fore, and it wasn't too many seasons later when my husband looked at the dusty, grass-covered red Murray and said. "The deck is rusting."
"What!" A look of horror crossed my face. He was right. there were actual pin holes in a few rusty spots. Here bright red had become rusty red. "What will we do?"
"I'll take it to work and weld it."
"But it will be ugly!" I wailed.
"I'll spray paint it." He replied.
True to his word, he removed the deck, took it to work, welded it and returned the deck, a little worse for wear and carrying about fifty extra pounds of weld. Sorta like a middle aged woman.
But the tractor motored along and I was placated. I perfected my snatch and drive, grabbing tree limbs while in motion, and the meat slicer, a left handed circle pressed against an obstacle to get every last blade and I motored on.
Then one day it refused to turn right. What the heck? I got off and inspected. One of the front supports connected to the front wheel had broken through. This was not good.
"I'll just add some metal bands," my husband assured me.
Hmmm. How much metal can an husband add if a husband could add metal? This was all very distressing. But the old red lawn tractor was soon back to mowing, albeit a little leaning to the right, and a tad reluctant to turn.
Then the tire wars began. First one back tire. Then the other. Pretty soon the front two joined the melee. I could hardly keep stocked in cans of fix-a-flat. I could sense the end nearing.
My son-in-law, home from Iraq at long last, stopped by the house, saw the lawn mower and, craving the homeyness of mowing after months of heat, sand, and stress, jumped on and revved up the motor. I, distracted with the cutest little grand baby, turned my eyes from the red tractor limping about the yard.
BOOM! Smoke poured from the pitiful engine and my son-in-law hopped off. The tractor moved no more. Sigh. Thus ends my run with the best lawn tractor I ever possessed. Sniff. Where's the tissues?
"It's only two hundred dollars," my husband's voice echoed over the phone.
"No, no. Not a lawn tractor. A Snapper."
My brows furrowed. About now the old advice of not getting something for practically nothing should have been throbbing through my head, but I'm full of eternal hope.
"What do you mean?"
I heard him sigh."You, know. Like the old-fashioned ones with the motor in the back."
"Oh. Well, how old is it?"
His voice dropped a bit with irritation. "I don't know. Old."
"Does it have a steering wheel?" Whining laced my voice and I tried to tromp it down.
He took a deep breath. "No."
"Does it have a key or is it a pull start?"
"A pull start." His voice took on an irritated snap.
I chewed my lip and ignored it. "Can you come home and take me to see it?"
"I can," his voice belied his lack of enthusiasm, "but then it'll be too dark to mow, and the lawn is getting tall. If I buy it now, I can come home and be finished."
Warning heeded. "Okay, do what you think is best."
I wandered the house in anticipation. He seemed happy with it, so perhaps it was better than he let on. It wasn't long before I heard him drive in. I rushed out, anxious to see our new purchase. He let the tailgate down and rumbled the thing to the ground.
Good grief. It was a dinosaur. Literally. A triceratops lawnmower. It was older than the hill, and I've heard that's dang old.
I look up at him in disbelief. "You bought that?"
His face went still. "You don't get much for two hundred bucks."
My eyes bulged and my lip curled. "Obviously."
He shot me a bushel of optic knives and leaned over the contraption to give a pull on the rope. It fired right up. He hopped on and took off in mowing heaven. Loud mowing heaven. Extremely loud.
I crossed my arms and scowled. If he thought I was mowing with that lawnmower prototype, he had another thing coming.
And I put my sooty nose in the air and didn't mow for most of the summer. It was his own fault for buying such gross little turtle-like contraption. I often peeked at him through the blinds, guilt gnawing at me.
Because I scoffed at the thing for not having a steering wheel, he removed our old lawn tractor's, and placed it on that rattletrap. Only the steering column was too short, and he ended up gripping the wheel hunched over between his knees. Oh, yeah. That's attractive. Picture a grown man in a battery operated Barbie convertible for children. Uh, huh. Only without the pretty pick plastic and Barbie stickers.
But the day came that my husband had overtime, the lawn waxed long, and I, feeling quite remorseful at my pride, humbled myself and wrestled the red Triceratops from his resting spot amongst the spiders in the shed. I would do my duty. I would climb aboard the most embarrassing form of transportation in the neighborhood. I would sacrifice my pride for the sake of helping out.
But first, I had to figure out how to do it. I wasn't used to starting a mower first owned by Paul Revere. The throttled was broke, shocker, so I trailed the wire to the engine and found where to adjust the speed. An extra button had been installed, via the old man who'd suckered my husband into buying this piece of junk. A label from a handy label-maker had been added. 'Out for on, in for off.' Simple enough. I turned up the throttle on the engine block, pulled the redneck button under the seat out, and tugged on the rope.
The thing started first try. Hmmm. My low estimation of this hunk of iron elevated a fraction. I climbed on. It was sorta like riding a turtle, I surmised as I bent to grab the steering wheel. I flipped on the mowing deck at my feet. Then I located the gear shift which, hard to believe, was a little obstinate. But my bicep bulged and I was off.
Whoa! It bounced me here, it bounced me there, it bounced me in a circle. It was a lawn mower version of Tilt-a-Whirl! I clutched the steering wheel between my knees as I tried to hold my balance, laughing so hard I couldn't stop. Tears rolled down my face. The more I tried to stop laughing at the entire situation, my silly posture, and the ridiculous swaying motion of the mower, the harder I laughed. I couldn't help but wonder what the neighbors were thinking of the weirdo mowing her entire lawn with her head thrown back in giggles. I was most thankful for my MIB sunglasses.
I finally finished, and the yard didn't look half bad. And just think, I didn't have to pay those outrageous theme park prices for a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl.
Looking back, I realize it's not so bad. I still have it by the way. Heck, I still use it. Next time I'll have to tell you the story of how I cut too close to a tree and knocked the gas tank off. It kept running until I finally realized I was dragging it and stopped. I had to reattach it with thick twine. My bailing wire dad would be so thrilled at my innovation. But I killed a streak of grass where the gas spilled.
Or perhaps I'll tell you about the time I filled it too full with gas, and since it has three punctures at the top, ( I know this shocks you) it spewed gas at every bump until the back tire was soaked and the gas level lowered. Ah, yes. Good times.
But I remind myself of this. If I mow with Tilt-a-Whirl Triceratops long enough, I might save enough money for a plane ticket to Hawaii. Huh. Now who's laughing? Oh, it's me-again.
Hey, wait a minute. You want to buy a mower? It starts right off. It's not so good on the gas, but you'll more than make that up with your the savings at Six Flags. Just a thought. Hope springs eternal!
Butterfly Thoughts and Egg Sandwiches
Ow! Youch. Oooh. Oh, my eyes are watering! OUCH! Yabba dabba doo that hurts! Why does plucking my eyebrows hurt so much?! This all started with me looking in the mirror this morning. Big mistake. Greeted me were two woolly mammoth caterpillar eyebrows. Yeesh. I had to take care of that right away. Yet how can pulling one tiny hair-one-from your face give such pain? Then the thought butterflies flit about my head.
Ooops, pardon me. White thought butterfly just reminded me that it’s nine-thirty, and I haven’t had breakfast yet.
New Security System, Only $7.48
I was mowing the sidewalk the other day--yes, the sidewalk,
Notice the clean lines, and the rotting leaves and rubbage that will convince any judge that, "I was just working on a project!"
What's more is the low price. For only . . . calculating . . . $7.48, you can purchase this advanced system. Does it appear to be ineffective against repetitive stranger visits after dark? Well, that's the beauty of it. You can rearrange it hundreds of times, altering it's design and location with little effort. Strangers with flashlights couldn't possible hope to catch every brick.
As a matter of fact, it'll trip up some of your good friends as well. Perhaps even unannounced family members. It'll tumble people who know it's there! Besides, with the addition of a few five-gallon buckets filled with water, and a discarded clothes line rope, it's virtually impenetrable. Do those additions seem to make the price unattainable for you? Never fear! If you order now, I'll throw in the old buckets and weathered clothes line, FOR FREE!
This reminds me of my Christian attitude. I catch myself arranging bricks in a new security system called, "You ain't gonna get to me, Sucka!" Now I sometimes disguise it as, "guarding my heart," which is a Biblical precept. Ps. 40: 23 says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
Yeah, but sometimes I just don't want to mix with people, don't have the time, or I'm in my hermit mode, so I alter that wonderful verse that tells me to not allow the worldly things to come in and steal my eternal joy, Your precious Gift. Yeesh.
Yes, my agenda often gets in the way of what God has chosen for me to do that day, that hour, that minute. I let people fall by the wayside because I got way too much going on. So, I rearrange the bricks. Click, out goes the light. Have a nice trip this fall!
I have to constantly remind myself to be available. Help others. Love others. Even those pesky neighbors who walk through my yard.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Not just words. Sigh. Fine. Help me put up the bricks.
Embrace your Zany Life!
Our lives are lived on a millimeter of a puzzle piece of a puzzle the size of the universe. And oh,
A few years back, I made plans to go see my son graduate from basic training. He'd joined the Air Force and my husband and I hadn't been able to see him for two months. Even long distance communication had been severely limited, and we were hungry to lay eyes on him.
Our flight left in the early evening from Lambert Airport. We had several hours to drive to reach the airport, so I, not wanting to miss any more school than necessary, brought my street clothes to school with me so I could change near the end of the day. I knew my time was limited. I got everything packed and got permission from my principal to leave school directly after my last student was dismissed.
Right around three o'clock, I rushed to the bathroom to change. I was pumped! I couldn't wait to hug my son and see him decked out in that fancy uniform. (Do you hear Ernest T. in the background somewhere?) Whoosh, I was outa my skirt and in my traveling clothes in no time. Yep, I had it all in hand.
I get back to class, line up my little charges, and march out to the parking lot. Cars are parked everywhere and it's parent pandemonium as they try to find their respective child's class. All the teachers have their little group at their doors to dismiss.
I say goodbye, one by one, to my little kids when I get down to the last two students. One of the moms walks up to me. "You've got something hanging there," she said. She leans around me and pulls something wadded out of my waistband. Victorious, she holds it up. My pantyhose!
Here's another one of my great plans. I had open house in school in August a while back. It can be an exhausting thing for a teacher. So much energy going into working, planning, organizing, and getting your room ready, you want everything to be as perfect as possible. I concentrate on putting my best foot forward to make a great first impression on the parents and students that I come in contact with on that first day.
I often pick my favorite color to dress in, or wear an extra nice dress. This day I chose a special hairstyle. My hair is wavy, so I can blow dry it straight, or I can gel it and crinkle it up into a curly style. Today-all curls. Gonna go all the way, gonna put in some extra time, extra gel and make it really look awesome.
At school, I glanced in the mirror and congratulated myself on going the extra mile of making my hair look its best. On my way out, the parents were beginning to arrive, and I greeted one in particular. I'd already had two of her girls and was excited to have the youngest girl of the family. The mother was such a sweet person and I enjoyed her personality.
Just like the time I wanted to make homemade bread in my breadmaker. I had my daughter's family coming over for our weekly get together and I had this great idea to make bread. Only it's before school and I'm not so good at the getting up early. So I was hustling about my kitchen. Chicken in crock pot-check. Breadmaker out and ready-check. Flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, olive oil in-check. Then I got to the yeast. I had to hurry. I was going to be late for work. I grab the little envelope, tear it open, and pour it in. I look in. It's dark. Hmmmm. That doesn't seem to be right. I turn on the light. (Yes, now the light!) It's not dark. It's red. It's Hawaiian Punch Kool-aid!
I grab a spoon and start dipping it out frantically. Yeah, no good. There is no way I'm gonna get that all out. What did I do, you may ask? I laughed. I added the yeast, and we had pink bread for dinner! Yeah, life is like that.
I'm sooooo glad God's got the plans well in hand. He wants us to prosper. His plans are perfect, even when we're not. Perhaps the next time your plan ends up in the scrap heap, you'll remember to laugh and thank God for being in charge. After all, life is like that.