First, I fixed a long standing problem with this sloping area next to my front door. See, it's hard to describe, but my front door has these concrete steps that go down a hill to our driveway. Not a lot of steps, but my house entryway is elevated about six feet above the driveway. This gives the house a grand, sloped manor look, but the grassy hill slopes down with the steps, and it's hard to plant anything there and make it look nice. The previous owner went to some stream somewhere, gathered a ton of reddish sandstone rocks, and plied them up there. But they didn't put any weed barrier, so as a result, weeds grew up over the rocks, and using the weedwacker on the rocks didn't make the problem go away. I just had an ugly slope, covered with weeds and rocks, for the last two years. On Saturday, I ripped out all the rocks, sorted them by size, graded the slope into three steps, and stacked the rocks, making it step up three teirs. Kind of like how rice fields in Thailand look. I plan to plant stuff in those steps.
The second was I had to drag the lawnmower out of the shed, and beat it up until it worked again. This is a yearly ritual, because as the lawnmower repair shop keeps telling me, my mower sucks. I got it brand new when we got the house, and it was a Scotts 3-in-1 self-propelled bagger/mulcher. It stopped working after the first summer, I got it fixed, and then the next spring, it broke again, and the repair shop said I should have gotten a John Deere (and oddly enough, they sell John Deeres). Look, I am sure a John Deere mower is a fine mower. But I paid $300 for my mower, and a similar model costs $790 in a John Deere. Back then, and even now, I can't shell out $800 for a new mower. Even with repairs, I still have only paid $500 for my mower. Maybe my next one will be a John Deere.
The ritual goes like this: First, I drag the mower out of the shed, and shake off any dried grass still left from last year. I check the oil and gas. Then, I push this bulb on the side called a "primer" a few times. Then I jiggle the idle speed, leaving it on the picture of a rabbit (fastest speed). I shift the self propel into forward. Then I pull the cord a few times. Nothing. Prime again. Pull cord. Nothing. Prime, pull, nothing. Rock mower, bang it on ground. Prime, pull, nothing. Wait. Prime, pull, nothing. Bang around. Kick motor. Pull... and it roars to life like nothing's the matter. I let it run for a while, then shift down the speed to the picture of the turtle until the engine almost stalls (this saves a LOT of gas). If I restart it again while the engine's still hot, it will go on the first few pulls. If it hasn't run for about an hour, it takes a lot more pulls. The worst is when it's been stored for the winter, and been off for a long time. It's been like this since the day I bought it. The mower repair place also noticed this, and told me to buy a John Deere. They tried to sell me a riding mower.
Look, I am as lazy as the next guy, but riding mowers on my lawn are definately out. See, my lawn isn't small, but it has a lot of stuff (trees, house, rocks, gardens, hills, and so on) scattered about. Riding mowers are best them you have a lot of flat, straight lines to mow. Not the obstacle course my lawn is. In fact, when we first got here and had no mower, and the lawn needed work, we hired a team to mow the lawn, and I watched these guys in their huge mowers curse and swear that they couldn't get half the lawn without using a weed wacker or push mower. There's too many small, hilly, bumpy obstacles.
And when I stared mowing yesterday, I was again reminded of how hard it is to mow the front lawn. My front lawn is a mound with steep sides, and even the flat part is tough because most of it is under trees you have to steer around. But even with asthma, I managed to mow both the front and back lawn, using the clippings as mulch around my bushes (which makes them very leafy).
Today I hope to attack my wood pile. The previous residents bought a lot of wood for the fireplace, and with the exception of last winter, the two previous winters were mild, and we didn't need to use the several cords of wood they left behind. While most of the pile is now gone, there still remains a large ugly lump of decayed wood where I want lawn. So I plan to toss the bad wood, maybe save the good wood (if any). But I have to be careful because of that muscle tear I still have to deal with. So I'll have to do it nice... and slow...
Thankfully, the weather has been fantastic.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000100.html