Sunday, April 20, 2008

Keeping Up with the Jones takes on Whole New Meaning

Some people are "perfect grass" people - no sticks in the yard, no weeds, perfectly trimmed, etc. Others are not. Would I like to have perfect grass? Of course. Do I have the time, inclination etc to actually have perfect grass? Um, no.

But there's this guy next door....

So Friday rolls around, I realize my lawn man - aka my teenage son - is leaving for the weekend with Dad. He's playing rugby and, quite frankly, too busy to keep up with 2 lawns. Next door, the grass is short, trim, nice. Fertilizer has been dutifully strewn about, not a stick in sight (which is saying something in our neighborhood of 3 million old, stick-dropping trees). Meanwhile, my backyard looks like the house has been for sale for a few months and no one's been by to clean up the hurricane know, the one that only struck my yard.

I have the tools - big tractor, push mower, backpack blower, gas trimmer, clippers, gloves, trash cans, gas, oil mixstuff for the gas for one of the mowers, portable air compression tank to fill the tires... but I have no idea how to use any of it. I did ask throughout the 19 evil years. Repeatedly. "Please show me how to use this stuff in case I never need to." "You don't need to - I'll do it, and I'll show our son and we'll handle it." Yeah right.

But I'm a well-educated woman, kind of handy, very inspired and determined, so I awaken with the resolve to figure it out myself (without ruining any tools in the process if I can help it).


Step one - pick up sticks. No problem. I can do that. Gloves, check. Can, check. Ex'sWild dog on leash so she doesn't escape, check. (Dog sitting while he's out of town with the kids). Picking up sticks, lots of sticks, oh so many sticks, hours and hours of sticks. Start chucking sticks under bushes. Start chucking sticks under trampoline, start chucking sticks in the neighbor's yard. (KIDDING sort of). Call it quits after an hour of picking up sticks. Daylight is upon us. Time to tackle the mower/tractor issue. And capture the dog who has escaped and broken her extendo-leash. (Add to list trip to pet store to replace leash).


Step two - find keys to shed, remove wagon and push mower to get to tractor. Check tires - FLAT. Find air compressor in shed, fill up 1 tire. Air compressor empty. Check other tire FLAT. Hmmmmm...maybe roll tractor out. Push. Pull Grunt, get verrrrry dirty. tractor won't move. Can't take the mountain to mohammed. Try putting tractor in neutral and removing parking brake and unwedging the side of it from debris. Tractor rolls slightly.


Step 2.1 find air. Ex has big air compressor in garage - this compressor says it's refillable. Go on internet, figure out how to refill portable/refillable air compressor. All I find is "like a bike tire." Hmmm. Go to ex's garage, find big air compressor. Play with nozzles, gadgets, etc. Give up on refilling tank. See if Ex has portable tank. No. Eye ex's new lawn tractor and contemplate "borrowing" it....nix idea as bad idea.


Step 2.2 See nice male neighbor. Ask about air. Hand pump! Yes! Hand Pump!! Pump up tires. Note to self: don't do lawn work in a white tank top. Lawn tools are covered with 6 months of old dirt and dust. Return hand pump triumphantly. Return to shed, roll tractor out of shed. Get on tractor. Read 6 million warning label. In Neutral. Blade disengaged. Blade up. Clutch in. Brake on. Turn key to start.....nothing. See nifty gauge called "DC power." Battery is dead. Gee, couldn't have noticed that oh, 2 hours ago.


Eye Lawn Boy push mower. Remember seeing owner's manual in ex's garage on lawnboy and remember something about "mixing fuel." GO get owner's manual. Find gas. Find mixing tank. Find little green jar of lawnboy oil to mix with gas. Mix gas/oil for lawnboy. Unscrew gas to fill - find tank full. Remove bagger capacity, put mulch shield on. Prime engine. Pull string - SUCCESS!!! A RUNNING ENGINE!!!!!!!

Time lapsed 2 hours 45 minutes.


Push mower around far back, get hang of self propeller bar. Forget to let go of selfpropeller around turns and plow into tree. laugh. let go of throttle. stall motor. Lather, rinse repeat. Get the hang of mower, go get iPod, dance behind mower singing, "I will survive" and thrill in the moment of sunshine, freshly mown grass, and determination.


Get backpack blower. Get owner's manual. Figure out how to start it. Put on backpack blower and blow the hell out of the back patio - buh-bye cherry blossoms, buh-bye sticks, debris, junk. WHOO-HOO this is fun. Blow off driveway. Over too quickly. Blow off front walk. Contemplate blowing off entire street. this is way too fun. No wonder they won't show me how to use their toys.

2pm. Phone rings. Call for help from sis-in-law to visit ex's parents and intervene. Put away toys. Shower. Visit mother & dad. First take photos...

Yard before

Yard after (still need to remove old weeds)

Success!!! A little dirty, but happy nonetheless. Next time will be easier! (Oh I hired the chemical part done. Some things are not worth my time)


Paranoid said...

You are AWESOME! I love that you just roll up your sleeves and figure out how to do what needs going. As per usual, I hope I'll be like you when I grow up.

DF said...

Keep it up, you are doing great! There is a huge support network out here, from my family to your family to the friends and work associates that are eager to help someone that is eager to try.

Feel free to call me any time and ask questions. My K expects it as there are many calls from BW and others seeking help for various troubles from computers to home renovations.

dirtft said...

I'm glad to see you working on the outside of the house and that you are willing to release responsiblity to others for the killing of weeds. I'm wondering if there isn't some hidden meaning there???
I've also noticed you have taken to decorating the inside of the house on a previous post. Just remember not to use caulk as a filler for nail holes again and you'll be all set...

TGND said...

Ha Ha Ha big bro - if they only had pink spackle back in college I wouldn't have had to use the caulk....good thing you were there to bail me out ;-) Now I have you AND DF - I will be Mrs. Tool Time. Wait, that's probably not a good thing....

Anonymous said...

Just found your site, I have never left a comment anywhere. Guess I'm a "lurker". Anyway, this is the exact thing that happened to me and how exillerating it was when it was all over!! I mastered a weed eater and replacing the line 2 short weeks after my husband left me. I drank a beer to celebrate! Good luck on your life, it does get better!! I'm here as proof!!