There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a house.
Murphy's Law, combined with the Second Law of Thermodynamics
pretty much ensure that, best intentions not
withstanding, I'm going to get blindsided by something
sooner or later. And life, being puckish, usually dictates
that this occurs "sooner".
In past, while I couldn't exactly claim ignorance, I was
content to claim indolence. It wasn't so much that I
couldn't fix them (or find someone else to fix them) as
much as it was that I couldn't be arsed to pay sufficient
attention to the problem. It helps, of course, that the
breakdowns were discrete ... a non-functioning sump-pump
while a nuisance, is hardly going to impinge much on
on my life since I'm sensible enough to stay out of the
crawl space even when it isn't flooded.
Nevertheless, this past year, owing to a sudden spate
of mechanically competent types, have seen things
here tweaked and tuned to a fare-thee-well and, I must
admit, I have noticed the difference. For one thing,
it's a lot quieter when gears don't grind and doors don't
Mind you, I've taken a lot of grief for my cavalier attitude
towards the Wonder Of The Mechanical World ... so much so,
that I've actually reached the point where I mention it
when things break rather than working around the malfunction.
This, of course, is a double edged sword. While I earn
Brownie Points for quick response, I usually still get
crap for not maintaining said doohickey in the first place.
So far I've refrained from responding with "Oh, shut up
and fix it, will you?" since one doesn't say such things
to free help if one wants said assistance to continue. In
the long run, it's easier on my chequebook to simply close
my ears, look contrite and let it all wash by me without
listening ... in truth, I rather think the gene for grumbling
is carried on the Y chromosome.
So far, I've survived lectures on the Joys Of Bleeding The
Water Heater, The Care And Feeding of Garbage Disposals
and Requirements of Cold Air Returns. Although I've
undoubtedly learned something about Home Maintenance,
what I've really learned is that the Household Gods are
capricious. Just when things are going right enough that
I'm lulled into complacency, they elect to deliver a kidney
punch to my delicate sensitivities. It goes without saying
I've been pretty complacent of late and, in keeping with
past performances, this could not be allowed to continue.
Today, for the second time in one season, I've managed to
murder the lawn mower.
Mind you, the first time it wasn't my fault. Even the person
who had been nagging me about the length of the lawn couldn't
pin it on me. Something went wrong internally and the
thing gouted up a cloud of smoke and died. And, since I have
a well developed sense of self-preservation, I called someone
other than the Lawn Nag when it did so and it was decided
beyond the facsimile of a shadow of a reasonable doubt that
I Didn't Do It.
Would that I could say the same thing today.
In all honesty, I hadn't expected to be even mowing the lawn
in late September. It's *supposed* to be brown and dead
by now ... you'd think the fact that I never water it would have
given it a Clue, but nooooo. Mother Nature elected to put paid
to that and has dumped buttloads of rain in the past month.
Which, in turn, has given the grass a new lease on life, to the
point where it's growing almost as fast as it did last May.
So, today found me out there shoving the wretched mower up
and down the yard. I had almost finished when there was this
ghod-awful <clunk!> <thud!> <screech!>.
Well, if nothing else, the survival instincts barking "Shut the
damned thing off!" managed to jolt me out of my daydreams.
When I tried to pull the mower back, it didn't want to come
so, throwing caution to the winds, I tipped it on its side
Hm. I don't know much about lawn mower blades since I don't
make it a practice to become intimately acquainted with them,
but I was pretty sure that they don't work well when bent at
a 40 degree angle. I was also fairly certain that it hadn't been
that way when I started, although I wouldn't be prepared to
testify to that in court. For all I knew, the bent side was
correct and the straight one was the problem. Whatever the
case, I decided not to deal with it and instead braced myself
for a lecture on the Proper Maintenance of Lawn Mowers.
I meandered into the back yard where the sprog and Mechanical
Wizard were practising casting and, after waiting to be
certain I wasn't in the line of fire (getting hit with a sinker
*hurts*), made my announcement.
"The mower is dead..."
"*Again*?! Jee-sus, woman, you're going to end up
on Toro's "Most Wanted" list..."
"Well, not 'dead', exactly ... more like 'bent'."
"How the hell do you 'bend' a lawn mower?"
Nevertheless, the sprog was left to practice her casting
alone and the Mechanic went out of meet his patient. After
couple years of dealing with me and the way things around
me seem to fall apart, I'd thought he'd gotten past the point
of being surprised by anything. I arrived at this conclusion
because, like most people who work in the sun and are a
trifle far-sighted, he generally squints a bit. Wide open eyes
are a sign of surprise. I haven't seen wide open eyes for a
long time, hence, my assumption that nothing surprised him
I was wrong. One look at the underside of the mower and
not only did the eyes open fully, they positively bulged.
"Holy shit, how did you do *that*?!"
"You hit something..."
"The hell you say ... where were you?"
<pointing> "Right there, Einstein, note the differential
between the cut and non-cut areas..."
While I sat on the stoop and contemplated the petrol now
leaking from the machine to the lawn, an Investigation
of the Area took place. And the culprit was soon discovered
in the form of a large rock which I *will* swear, had not
been there for the prior twelve years that I've been mowing
this lawn...I don't care if it *was* half buried in the dirt,
I've never hit it before, therefore it wasn't there.
Lively discussion ensued (fine, an *argument*) which I won
only by pointing out that had it been there, the way my luck
operates, I'd have hit it every week. While not conceding that
it wasn't there, I managed to win a grudging admission that
maybe the recent rains had eroded the soil to the point where
it became problematic.
"You still should have seen it..."
"In tall grass?! You think I have x-ray vision maybe?"
<male logic makes a last stand> "But the bumper of the
mower had to go over..." <male logic finally notices female
facial expression and gives up> "Fine. Whatever. It needs
a new blade."
"Can't be fixed, huh?"
"Do I look like Vulcan, fergawdsake?"
"I thought you were supposed to be a Miracle Worker ..."
"That was before I met *you*. Get in the truck ..."
There's something about that last phrase that always makes my
blood run cold. Usually because whenever it's uttered I end
up in places I'd rather not be, from rat infested Southside
warehouses to suburban home improvement centres. And the
main reason I'd rather not be in these places (aside from my
dislike of rats) is because we can never just go in, get what's
required and get out. No, we have look at tools, pick up
non-related oddments and otherwise kill an hour or two inhaling
lumber and paint dust.
Protests, by this point, are more pro forma than anything
else. I *know* I'm stuck for the journey, but I want it clearly
understood I'm doing it under protest. Protests were met
with the inarguable,
"You broke it ... you get to fix it."
"Did not. The *rock* broke it."
"Get. In. The. Damned. Truck."
I gave up and in at that point and climbed in the truck. Somehow
I wasn't surprised to end up at the local Home Despot.
The replacement blade was quickly procured and the trudge
around commenced. An hour and half later we finally got
out of there ... total haul: One mower blade and one frazzled
Upon returning home, I was handed the new blade and told
to put it on the machine. While arguing further might have
netted me a reprieve, I decided to demonstrate incompetence
instead. Mind you, given that this person knows me from me
refinery days, incompetence is a really Hard Sell. On the
other hand, my reputation for being mechanically lazy (when
I'm not being paid) is the stuff that legends are made of.
Obviously some attempt at breaking me of the latter habit was
being made, equally obviously, I wasn't about to let it work ... I've
spent many years cultivating an attitude which can effectively
be summed up as "Phuck it." and I'm not about to jettison it just
because someone else thinks that ability should be synonymous
I approached the machine, peered underneath and made note of
a large bolt holding things in place.
<straightening> "Needs a tool..."
<shrug> <starting to walk away> "Don't have a tool..."
I was halted before I managed two paces by a grip on my
upper arm which was probably illegal.
"You need a wrench."
A close working association has educated him into putting
things into terms I understand. In other words, one of
my main defence mechanisms for getting out of things I
don't want to do has been breached. Frankly, it's the sort
of cultural exchange I can do without.
"Don't have a spanner."
Several smart ass comments were apparently swallowed
while I maintained my best Innocent Expression. In the
end, a wrench of the proper dimensions was hauled out
of the truck's toolbox and handed to me. Damned Boy Scout.
I sometimes think that no matter how obscure the tool,
it's going to emerge from that toolbox ... especially when I
least want it to.
Wrench in hand and Nag at my back, I re-approached the
mower and applied The Tool to The Bolt. The Bolt, to my
immense satisfaction refused to turn. In fact, the entire
assembly turned instead which resulted in a lovely grating
noise guaranteed to send cold shudders up the average human's
spine. I turned my head slightly to gauge the reaction and
saw the <wince>.
I gave it a couple more spins for effect. True to form, the
Worshipper of Things Mechanical couldn't just sit back
and let me Wantonly! Destroy! a machine ... the wrench
was extracted from my Less Than Ept paw and testosterone
took over. In less than a minute The Bolt and Blade were
off and the lecture on Lawn Mowers was hitting its stride.
I elected to be helpful in the form of removing the new blade
from the cellophane sarcophagus while basically ignoring
the lecture. Another minute or two and the new blade was
on (I discovered in the process that the straight side was
the non-screwed-up one).
Blade on and mower upright, the exercise re-commenced
and the remainder of the lawn was chopped down to
manageable length without further incident. However,
I've been informed, in no uncertain terms, that said rock
Has To Go. Where it Has To Go has yet to be discussed, but
my experience with rocks in the yard leads me to believe
they're the limestone equivalent to icebergs ... 90% is below
Whatever the case, I've done my bit by planting a little
flag next to it. Eventually, I may get around to digging it
out (or maybe, if I get really lucky, it will heave up a bit
this winter), but in the meantime, I'm more than happy to
detour around it.
Peeve: By next spring the flag will be gone along with
the memory of said hidden boulder. I'm not even
going to lay odds for the likelihood of hitting it
Yours, considering the benefits of a tall-grass prairie,