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11:48 a.m. - November 02, 2005
I Fought The Lawn (Mower)...And It Was A Draw.
I had a feeling Saturday was going to be an eventful day. Turns out, it definitely was eventful, though not in the way I had planned it.

It was the first Wabash day where alums from all across the country gathered to do community service projects. Well, here at the home base we definitely did our share of them. Some of the alums helped at the animal shelter, some painted some church Sunday school rooms, others cleaned up the bike / hiking trail that was built on an abandoned rail line.

Others did yard work for the elderly and indigent. That was my assignment. Of course, when I got the assignment I felt kind of odd, as my yard is in need to a good mowing (which also would mulch up the multitude of leaves in our yard)> However, I thought I may eschew the National Football League on Sunday to get that done.

It turns out that there were two teams set out to do this yard work, but one team joined us halfway through as no one was home at the other property, and they didnít feel that a drive-by hit-and-run leaf raking would be in anyoneís best interest. So there were eight of us attacking the leaves at this property, and also corralling and hauling away some brush and lumber.

So we got done in about an hour, and since I was already dressed for lawn work I decided to come home and attack my yard.

First off, I go into the house and surprise the heck out of Liz. I was anticipating an entire morning at this project, not just an hour. (Itís not like she had the QB of the local football team in there doing the rumba, or cha-cha, or something, but stillÖ). I tell her of my plan and she says, ďGo for it.Ē I grab the iPod and I indeed, go for it.

(Like she was going to object to me doing yard work? ďNo, hon, let the yard go. Come in here and drink beer and watch your TiVoed copies of the Formula One races from this year.Ē)

(Note: the above parenthetical thought contained a falsehood. I delete all of the F-1 races after I watch them. Twice.)

I open our garage and fill the gas tank of the lawn mower. I go to check the oil and see that itís a bit low, so I look for the motor oil I use for the yard.

Itís nowhere to be found.

About a month ago Liz decided she wanted to have the ability to park her car in the garage. We have a one-car unattached garage that was basically a storage area for all the crap we didnít unpack when we moved in December. However, she decided that it may be best to clean that stuff out so she could have the option of parking in the garage (as that, believe it or not, is THE primary use of a garage, contrary to what others may demonstrate). So she did a yeomanís effort and cleaned it all up.

In doing so, I think she deep-sixed the oil for the lawn mower.

So I go in and ask her about it. She says the oil is either on the floor or on the shelves.

Nope and nope. I donít really feel like going out and getting more, so I decide to take a chance and mow the lawn with it a bit low on oil, the thrillseeker that I am. (Itís not really like Iím risking life and death here Ė my lawn mower isnít exactly the Cadillac of all mowers. Itís a serviceable walk-behind mower with a 5Hp engine that Iíve owned since 1997.)

Well, if thatís the only inconvenience then Iím set.


I go to start the engine. Normally, the mower starts right up. But not this time. Itís been a bit cold and for some reason the mower is cranky.

I pull and pull and pull. Nothing. I stop and stew and stew and stew, then I pull and pull and pull. Nothing.

I start making a list of people I can borrow a lawn mower from if I canít get the blasted thing to start.

I pull and pull and pull. Cough, wheeze, sputter, stall. Drat. Stew, stew, stew.

I push on the choke again, and pull and pull and pull. Finally, success.

Well, Iím home free now.


As Iím mowing, I turn a corner and notice that the handle turned but the mower didnít. It turns out that one of the cotter pin attaching the handle to the base has broken, so keeping the lawn mower together is a challenge. Sure, I could stop and fix it, but I can deal with this. Itís happened before and itís just an inconvenience.

Boy, I tell you what; my forearms are still sore trying to keep it all together. Every so often, I have to stop and slide the handle back onto the post as well. (If I was technically and / or artistically adroit, Iíd draw what the heck Iím taking about, but Iím not so youíll just have to live with the fact that the handle isnít quite connected to the mower as it should be and the fact that I can drop the word Ďadroití into a sentence about lawn care.)

So now I wonder what ELSE can go wrong.

Stop wondering, fool.

Iím nearly done with half of the front yard Ė closest to the busy street. Iím negotiating around our big tree, when clunk.

One of the rear wheels falls off the lawn mower.

Oh, great. Now I HAVE to stop and fix the thing.

The wheel merely screws back on to the base, so I see if I can do that. Itís not cooperating. I need to take the wheel cover off to see if I can figure this out. All the while, Iím thinking if Diamond or the QB is home so I can borrow their mowers. Iíd have to hang my head in shame, as they would mock me mercilessly that I wasnít man enough to fix the wheel on my own lawnmower. Itís like Iíd be kicked out of the club.

I trudge to the house and open the back door. I donít see Liz so I call out for her to get me a flat head screwdriver.

She sees me and the first thing she does is tell me to shut the back door.

Dang it! Iím going out again in 15 seconds if she would just get me a screwdriver. Iím standing HERE so I donít track crap inside the house, so get me a screwdriver and the door will be shut posthaste.

She again implores me to shut the door. I again implore her to get me a screwdriver and Iíll be gone and the door will be shut. I am standing IN the doorway, so cats and small children cannot escape. Just get me the frigginí screwdriver. Argh!

Finally, the screwdriver is procured. Geez.

I pop the wheel cover, and that allows me to see the bolt clearly so I can easily attach it to the wheel. For maximum tightness, I decide that I need my socket set.

(Normally, I am a tool Ďtard. I am among the least handy men in Indiana. But I do have a drill and a socket set and I have used them successfully.)

I look for it in the New! Improved! garage. Itís not there. I bet itís inside. So again, I trudge to the house, open the back door, stand IN the doorway and ask for the socket set.

Again, the door is asked to be shut. Again, I say, I will be gone in 15 seconds if you would just get me the frigginí socket set. But instead of prolonging the argument, I shut the dang door. I did NOT want to even track on the vinyl flooring in the kitchen, but alas, I am forced to.

Socket set procured, door shut (with authority!) and back to the wheel. Two turns later, itís tight and Iím back at it.

The rest of the lawn is cut without further incident.

Yeah, itís minor drama, but at the time it felt almost Shakespearian. What started out as a simple day of helping others turned into a potboiler (of sorts). Will the mower start? Can he fix the wheel? Will she just get him the socket set?

All that and it was still before noon. And while the phase, ďItís noon somewhereĒ would normally be apt and a beer would be drank after an experience like this, I decided that discretion would definitely be the best part of valor, and forgoed the malt beverage at that time. Besides, it was Old Milwaukee, and itís not worth putting up a fight for that.


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