Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mowing Misadventure

I got out there and was ready to mow the new lawn for the first time. I had my new Black and Decker Grasshog, no-bump feed, 5.5 amp, electric weed trimmer that, with just the flip of a switch and a flick of the wrist, becomes an edger.

An extension cord was nowhere to be found. We had boxed it up for the move, and I didn't have time for a swim in the sea of boxes our garage had become. I asked my neighbor if he had one. Nope. He offered to introduce me to a woman across the street, busily pulling weeds from her front yard landscaping, because he was sure she would have it.

Turns out she did, and was very glad to let me use it. I gave her the same explanation as above, but with a lot less literary flair (probably a good thing). Otherwise, she probably would have thought I was a freak and told me to get lost. Normally that's no skin off my neck, but I needed some extension cord and I needed it bad. I told her it was very nice of her and nice to meet her, and left them talking to each other.

I sauntered back across the street to our lawn, ready to make the lawn look the way society expects it to look. I hate lawn work. Always have. Probably always will.

I got all the way down one side of the driveway, stopping the Bermuda grass tendrils' slow but steady crawl and cutting them back to the concrete's edge. Down the sidewalk to the mailbox, then back. About halfway up the other side of the driveway, the factory-loaded line ran out. Where is my extra line?

(pan quickly to the open garage)

Packed in a box.

Curses! I was so close to making some progress on this dreaded task.

Sidenote: We moved in on trash day, and my wife and her crew threw out things that didn't quite stay cold enough in our cooler during the trip. Things like frozen raw chicken breast, ground beef, and other fine perishables. These things tend to stink and attract flies, so our City-provided trash can did not stay in the garage long. Then it just stunk up the world, wherever the wind blew it. The day I was doing the lawn was the following trash day, a full seven days after all those things were placed in there. The garbage collector had emptied it and placed it back on the curb, and now I was to brave the inevitable, face the horror I didn't want to see. Without detailing it, I will just say that I have never had to wash 'those' out of a trash can before. In fact, I rarely had even seen 'those' in my lifetime. I sprayed what insect killer we had found -- ant spray -- then closed the lid to let it take effect while I mowed.

Back to the lawn.

I opened about five boxes that had the 'Garage' box checked and found no weed cutter line. I did, however, find my extension cord. So, I walked back across with the neighbor lady's extension cord and returned it, explaining how I had found mine. She said she had plenty of Weedeater line and I could use some. I grabbed her roll of gin-u-wine Weedeater brand line and headed back.

After tackling the ridiculously neglected Bermuda grass creepers and the borders around the landscaping, I cranked up my mower, in hopes it had enough gas to mow the lawn. We had left our gas can to avoid having gasoline fumes build up in the moving van. Although we already had bought another, I hadn't filled it yet.

I got almost half way through our tiny front yard before a nut and bolt fell off, leaving the left side of the mower handle hanging only by the throttle cable. Maybe my internal expression of my hatred for the whole mowing process had angered some higher Lord of Landscaping, and his approach to vengeance was a gradual wearing down of the blasphemer.

I don't give up that easily, however, and with at least six of my neighbors casually watching as they chatted across the street, I was determined to make a decent showing instead of a memorable show. I'm a ham, but I'm not a glutton for ridicule. I managed to find the nut and the bolt, re-attached the mower handle, and off I went.

That lasted about a minute. I could not find the nut that time, so I mowed the rest leaned over to hold the lower part of the handle (it is a two-piece thing that allows one to fold it for storage) with my left hand. It was a fun sight, I'm sure. The sun was getting low, and a Dallas Morning News carrier already had interrupted me twice. Had he read 'Misery' he probably would not have flagged me down the second time. The guy didn't even have a business card and did not offer to give me his contact information in any other form, so I told him I was busy.

After all that, I managed to finish only the front before nightfall. I cleaned up the clippings, washed out the putrid trash can, and went inside for supper at 9 p.m.

Now it's sinking in that we moved. I have mowed, and it's no different from anywhere else.

One good thing happened. My wife and son came out to say hello to me at one point during all this, and caught the eye of neighbors who had brought their daughter outside. They all met and had a great time on their swingset, and we have our first 'couple friends' on the street. If I had hired somebody to mow, that might not have happened. Take that, evil Lord of Landscaping.

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