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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ode to a Lawnmower

Nope, not an art blog. Just a blog from an artist's head. Mine works in strange ways.

My lawnmower.  22 years old. One repair her first year of life by my neighbor's, now moved and dearly missed. Just one. My neighbor was magic.

My terrain is not smooth. Chunks and bumps and hidden sticks, rocks ever changing. She (yes, my machines are "she"), has been a trouper, chugging along suffering through all my abuses and ignorance. When black smoke was coming out of her I called Dad. Conversation with Dad, "Have you checked the oil? Have you ever changed the oil?" A couple of thoughts that never occurred to me. Don't remember having done either of those things in a while. Checking the oil was a great idea!! Down to about to 1/16 of an inch. Did change it then. A much happier mower.

I cut my grass "long" so maybe once every 2 weeks. Especially because I'm less likely to hit one of the billion rocks in my yard. I can pick up fallen twigs and branches forever but there's always one I miss. And she kept going. The wing nuts holding her handle on, twisted off. Guess I was supposed to check them? Mickey moused the missing nuts until I found the old ones in the grass weeks later - no small feat in my 1/2 acre of wilderness. Half the back rubber flap thingy fell off last year. The duct tape wasn't holding it together anymore. Well, half a rubber thingy is better than none, right? And besides, it doesn't bend under the mower when I pull it backwards. Does anyone not pull their mower backwards? So what is the point of having a long rubber flap thingy?

I did clean out the gunked up grass underneath after every mow. Yes, I unplugged the spark plug before, no I didn't tip it so everything would run into the carburetor.  No, I tipped it on the side where the gas would spill out! Hello! Does this make any sense designing a machine like that? Clean underneath, dump your gas! Well, I guess 22 years ago gas was still readily available and cheap. Still.

No rain this summer. Great! Decided not to mow until it rained. That was a couple months ago.  Poor mower. There's a hole in one of her fenders. Little pieces of grass plug the hole. I mowed. Hit something really big. Scared the crap out of me. I find the thing. A rock now split in half. Nice clean cut. Not a stone! A ROCK! Couldn't restart because the underneath rim was bent and the blade couldn't turn. Got out my trusty hammer and banged it back into shape. Well, close enough for the blade to still turn. Finished my mowing. The mower was making this really awful rattling sound. Put her back in the shed. Out of sight, out of mind.

We finally had rain! Grass is still burnt up but there are a few shaggy parts. Out I go to the shed. Pull out my trusty old battered lawnmower. I fill her with gas and prime her. There was one summer where I had to press the little black bulb 20 times before the oil would go through - something wouldn't connect inside. But then she got better all by itself. Who knows!! Yesterday she primed great. Pulled her rope. She started beautifully as she's always done. I begin mowing. Hmm....what is that puddle of oil pooling around the top well? That can't be good. Stop, clean up the oil. Check the oil. Yup - 1/4" left. Wonder if that is enough!! Start her again. No smoke coming out but the rattle. OMG! Maybe that will go away if I shut her down and start again. Yup! That worked! So off I go. But I don't have a secure feeling. The rattle (shudder would probably be a better word) comes and goes. And it finally "rattles" my memory. Ah. The rock. Sliced in half. Bent frame. Can't be good. Maybe more damage then I realized.

I keep mowing but my mind is telling me "buy a new one!!!" But this an enduring relationship. Something I could count on for 22 years. With every excuse I can come up with the same thing comes up in my head - I have to buy a new one.

Got her through the yard one more time, a little tense, jumping every time she hit a twig. Will something fly out from beneath the mower and cut my legs off?  After all - that rock didn't do so well! A sad moment putting her away. Probably not sad for her. Now my new mantra is "go to Amazon." Sigh. I find a new machine on Amazon. Not too expensive. Coming Friday. Guess I'll have to begin a new relationship. I'm an artist. I get to be weird. It's OK! I have relationships with my machines - most of them good. I thank them when they work well in spite of me. I have relationships with my trees, the flowers in my yard, my car, my cats and sometimes with people.

So now Miss Mower #1 is immortalized in print. Tribute to a truly great machine. 22 years. Can't wait to cut the grass with the new mower. What adventures await.