Friday, June 25, 2010

Lawn Mowing

The lawn has been growing like weeds lately. Maybe because it IS mostly weeds. Be that as it may, it still requires regular cutting.
Sam is somewhat intimidated by the riding mower, so he will do the push mowing after being screamed at sufficiently voluntarily. He was having some mower problems yesterday. So he and his partner in yard work, Dan, did a bit of tinkering on the mower. They either raised or lowered the wheels. They adjusted the blade, cleaned the spark plug, checked the oil and gas levels, and even managed to get some mowing done.

Dad, however, was Not Pleased. In the raising (or was it lowering?) of the wheels... one was barely attached to the deck. I'm not sure what all the ruckus was about, other than the boys are NOT to EVER make any adjustments to the lawnmowers... without permission.

Back when Mr C and I first got married, he worked concrete. If it was sunny... and sometimes even if it wasn't sunny... he was out smearing concrete. This left the yard work to me.
I had to borrow my Aunt Jean's mower. I learned a LOT about lawn mowers.
Chris and Bill were pre-schoolers. They tried to be helpful. Once they noticed I didn't have very much gas left in the lawn mower, and there was still plenty of grass that needed to be mowed. So they helpfully and creatively solved the problem of the gas level in the fuel tank.

They raised the level of the gas by adding rocks and dirt to the fuel tank. Luckily for me... they told me about their helpfulness BEFORE I tried to start the borrowed mower. I was able to turn the mower over and rinse the gas tank out. Since I was REALLY out of gas when that was done, it had all afternoon to dry out before I could get to a station and buy more gas.

I guess I was afraid to tell Tom about that when it happened... he had never heard the story before, when I told Sam and Daniel about it last night. I thought it demonstrated a good level of thinking skills in figuring out a way to raise the gas level in the tank.

Through the years, I learned even more about mowers.
One thing I learned was: Check the oil before you start the mower. I learned this little lesson the hard way.
Chris and Bill were about 12 and 13 when this happened. They had been joined by three younger siblings: Becky, Ben, and Tommy. We had worked hard one day at getting the entire house spotlessly clean. After we finished up our home school lessons, I let Chris and Bill hike back to the (small) mountain behind our house. We lived in the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma, just north of Ft. Sill.
Once the boys were gone, Becky and Ben had two little neighbor friends come over to play. About 3 in the afternoon, I realized that the one 'command' Mr C had made for the day was to be sure to get the lawn mowed. We lived on about an acre, and it was just a couple of hours until Mr C was due home.

I herded the three younger kids, and the two neighbor kids out of the house and onto the porch while I started to mow. Or attempted to start mowing. We had a cantankerous antique mower that was always a pain to start. I yanked its rope until my arms felt as if they were falling off. It refused to start. I pulled, and pulled some more. I begged the mower. I may of even kicked it a few times. (But not too hard, as its handle was wired together with a coat hanger.) Finally I got the mower started.

After a few passes across the lawn, I realized I had never checked the oil!
Oh NO! I wasn't about to shut that sucker off to check the oil. So I just thought I'd remove the oil cap and have a peek.
Bad idea.
I was hit in the face with a stream of nasty HOT black oil! It was dripping down through my hair, over my shoulders, and completely blackened my face. I was wearing my glasses, so I didn't get any in my eyes.
I had to shut off the mower.
Becky went inside to get me a towel. The mother of the neighbor children came over... our first meeting. Me, in blackface, dripping oil. Her in cut offs and a halter, carefully done hair, nails, and makeup. She offered me the use of their riding mower.
I accepted.

My day got even "better". Having sent the kids (ages 7, 6, 5, 4, and 3) up to play on the porch, I started mowing with the wonderous riding lawn mower. I had only wiped the black oil from my face and body as best I could, in my hurry to get the lawn done before Mr C returned from work.

I failed to notice when the 3 littlest kids went inside. Ben was five, the neighbor boy was 4, and Tommy was 3... or close to being 3. They got thirsty and went in for a drink. They decided they wanted Kool Aid. And a snack.

Becky and her friend played out on the porch.
I mowed.
I finished up with 20 minutes to go before Mr C got home from work. I returned the riding lawn mower... mission accomplished!
I walked into the house. The house that was clean before I went out to mow. The house where 3 unsupervised little boys made kool aid and snacks. There was kool aid everywhere. And sugar. and sticky footprints. And spilled cereal. I can't remember just what they were snacking on, other than it wrecked the house.
Chris and Bill came down the mountain about then. We began a cleaning whirlwind. Floors were swept and mopped, counter tops wiped, dishes re-washed.
With less than 3 minutes before Mr C was due to walk in the door- I ran for the shower, to finally get the black oil off of me and out of my hair. I discovered that used motor oil combined with a couple of hours of Oklahoma afternoon sun will BLISTER your skin. I was really deep fried.

I got cleaned up, made a quick swipe of cleaning up the bathroom, and emerged just as my dear husband walked in.

He looks around and says, "Why isn't dinner ready? You haven't even started it! You didn't get ANYTHING done today!"

He probably still wonders about the maniacal laugh.

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