Monday, June 2, 2008

More Weekend Excitement

Some great things were also happening up North this weekend. On my way out of town I stopped by Kate's house. She had a big beautiful "Dragon Lady" Holly tree for me. (How cool is that name?) She also had some grape vines and lilies of the valley for me to take. I have lots and lots of room for landscaping up by the cottage, but naturally no money to spend on it, so any and all free plants are welcome!

The holly was bigger than expected, but it fit in the car fine. It will grow to be fairly large which is okay by me, as it should be a nice privacy barrier between my yard and the neighbors. Though woe on him and his soon-to-be wife if they decide to have kids - this thing has some nasty spines.

The other big news is that I mowed my lawn!! Now, to some people that would be like saying, "I washed my dishes!" ...but for me it is a very big deal.

See, here is the thing: I have never mowed a lawn before. I am slightly allergic to cut grass - and very allergic to the weeds, pollen and dust that tend to get kicked up when someone mows. Growing up, my parents did all the mowing, and because of my allergies I never had any urge to learn how myself. When the mower started up I went and sat in the quiet gloom of my room, happily reading a book.

After living at home I moved out and into an apartment. Once again, lawn mowing was not on my list of things I had to do. Then I met my husband - and he did all the lawn care. I love to garden but I just never had to mow a lawn, and the thing is when you ask someone, "So, how do you mow?" they mostly look at you like you are an alien. The usual answer I got was something like "I don't know... you just mow." Yeah..... that's helpful.

Up at the cottage I had purchased a rider lawnmower. I had ended up having some repair work done to it last year because mice had moved into it. The last time it had been used was... sometime last summer when my ex and I were still trying to make a go of it as a married couple, but other than that, it didn't get mowed. I just didn't have the energy. Everything was so hard this fall, I just wasn't up to it. Emotionally I was a wreck - and when I got up north, all I could do was sit quietly and just try and get through.

However, grass waits on no man, or grieving woman. The last time I was up there I noticed the grassy area over the septic drain field was starting to look like the corn in "Oklahoma!" There was only one thing to do - ask someone for help. Up at the cottage Mark volunteered to show me how to start it - and he gave great instructions. There was only one problem - it wouldn't start.

Turned out in the many, many months since the mower had been started, mice had moved back in. There was a HUGE mouse house, nay, a Mouse Mansion (complete with two baby mice - can you say "eeew?") in my mower. So, after lots of cleaning and an emergency run to Walmart* to get a battery charger and tools... and more cleaning and some battery charging, the mower started!! And I got an impromptu lesson on how to mow.

As I mentioned, the worst part was a pie slice shaped wedge in the front where the septic is. Fortunately for me Mark tackled that in a lawn mower test run, because frankly it was beyond my newbie skills. Between the super long grass, which was hiding piles and piles of leaves, and then the two sizable holes in the yard that were hidden by the leaves, well let's just say I was happy to stand on the sidelines.

After that Mark showed me how to hook up the charger and suggested I leave it hooked up all night. The next morning I went out and raked the area that had been mowed the night before. Then I did any area that still might have piles of leaves - I didn't want it getting clogged on me like it did him. Then I went to start the mower.

Singing my mower chant, "foot peddle down, gear in neutral, blade disengaged, and pull up the choke-oke-oke" I climbed on and started it! ...and then it promptly died. Then in subsequent tries I managed to flood it. It took the rest of the day, a help-line call to Mark and a fair amount of prayerful booty shaking dancing to the Gods of lawn mowers, but I got it running again! (With assistance.) And I mowed!!! I mowed the whole huge monstrous lawn!!!

Okay, now it might look like I was blindfolded and was doing it by feel when I did it, but hey - it is definitely much, much flatter than it was! hooray!

Total cost - about $42. $33 for parts and $9 for the six pack of Smithwicks I bought as a combination thank you to Mark and celebration for the mowing of the lawn!! While I am trying not to spend money, this far cheaper than hiring the lawn done, which is what I thought I was going to have to do, and a lot more satisfying.

*Walmart gives me the hives, but they had the tools I needed. Want to know something weird? I didn't even know there was a Walmart up there. I've had that cottage 4 years!! Good thing I was getting help from someone who knew the area!

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