Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Adventures in Mowing

A kid's paradise. Note the hockey gear airing out on the deck - sunshine is the best deodorizer.
I have four children, two of which are old enough to mow the lawn; however, it is easier to do it myself than to spend 13 hours nagging one of them to get off the couch and mow.  Realizing that my lawn was the scruffiest of the neighborhood (ok, so that's not exactly true, there are a couple down the block that seem to be growing dandelions instead of grass...) and that tomorrow it is supposed to be in the 90s, I decided to mow instead of doing other chores, like vacuuming or cleaning whatever yellow substance is now in my front hall (youngest child just informed me of its presence).  (Have you ever noticed that mowing the lawn is satisfying because the lawn stays looking nice for at least a few days as opposed to cleaning the house, which might stay clean for 2 minutes or less if hurricane-children roar through?)  One of the reasons why I like mowing the lawn myself is because it is something I can look at and think "ah, clean" for at least a few minutes. And since I spend as much time as possible avoiding the inside of my house - I mean seriously, we have like 2 weeks of summer in Minnesota when we can be outside, so why wouldn't I spend every minute possible on my awesome, giant, albeit in need of stain, deck? - and since I consider mowing a form of exercise, I decided to do it myself.

Donning my earbuds and failing to change out of my flip-flops for sturdier shoes (which has resulted in a few hot spots on my feet now), I headed out to mow.  Mowing at my house is a major undertaking, not only because we have a large corner lot (about .25 acre, which for in the burbs, is a good-sized lot), but because there's a multitude of tasks that must be done prior to mowing, which include: picking up dog poop (something I try to get the kids to do, but usually do myself due to the same reason I end up mowing), picking up various toys, bikes, balls, sticks, pool toys, random shoes, random clothing, towels, scooters, hoses, sprinklers; unhooking the extension cord from the pool filter cord and rolling each up (woe be to anyone who forgets to do this small task - the man of the house would cork if either were run over by a lawnmower, never mind the fact that the MotH is a high-voltage lineman and perfectly capable of repairing any type of electrical cord, as he proved when I was digging a new veggie bed and sliced through the underground dog fence line.  He was a little peeved, but fixed it with some electrical tape while muttering something about women...the dog only gets out that side of the yard now and then now.) and putting them out of reach of the mower.  Once all those tasks are completed, then the mower comes out.  I'd love a rider, and know for certain that if we had one my son would be all over cutting the grass.  But just like the snowblower we keep talking about buying (it would have been great the winter of '10-'11 when we had 88" of snow), we still don't have a riding lawn mower, but a self-propelled one.  Last year, the self-propelled mower was great during the last cutting as I plowed through several inches of oak leaves (I was seriously sick of raking at that point) and only died when I nailed a large rock.  I was almost done, so even though I killed the mower, I fired it back up and kept going.  Apparently, the blade was bent quite dramatically because not only was our grass cut pretty funkily, but I also managed to take off the head of one of our sprinklers.  Oops.  (That caused a fair bit more than muttering by the MotH when he saw what I had done, but he wasn't home when the lawn needed cutting and a girl has to do what a girl has to do, right?)

TMotH is very particular about how I mow, especially after the rock incident, but since he's hardly ever home, his main directive I try to follow is not getting grass in the pool.  One would think that a 15'x48" pool would be easy to avoid and that grass wouldn't be able to scale 4 feet to jump into our pool, but if one isn't careful, a lot of grass goes right into the water and then has to be fished out or else the pool turns green. (Which is pretty gross.  We had that happen the first summer we had the pool - made the mistake of going to Wisconsin Dells for a week during which the MotH unplugged the filter but left the cover on during the hottest stretch of weather that summer.  When we arrived back home, our pool was one big algae pond. NASTY. By the time we got the algae out, the weather was no longer warm and we had to take the pool down anyway.) The plus side of trying to avoid shooting grass into the pool is the cool pattern that is made by circling the pool in one direction.  Since there's only about three feet between one side of the pool and the garden fence, I end up going over the same strip of grass about ten times, but keeping grass out of the pool (and the MotH's ire down) is worth the extra steps.

So, as I puttered along behind the mower (trying to remember that pulling it backward works better when I release the "drive" lever), I was struck by the random thoughts that flitted through my brain, such as:

  • "What the heck kind of song is this? That's what I get for downloading music off the boy's iPod. Dang it."
  • "I wonder what the hurricane girlies are up to? I hope they haven't dragged out the paints."
  • "Was that dog poop?  Did it get on my shoe? No? Whew."
  • "All the Singlelies...All the Singlelies..." (As in Beyonce's song, "All the Single Ladies", which, btw, isn't even on my iPod.  "Singlelies" comes from my bff's nieces - it is how they sing it. I don't hear this in kids' voices, but in my bff's, which makes me laugh.)
  • "I should write a book for teens about my teenage years."
  • "On second thought, I don't want my teenagers reading my story from when I was a teenager; it might give them ideas."
  • "On third thought, I don't want theMotH reading my story, either. Scratch that."
  • "Easy come easy go...."
  • "Hmmmm, I wonder what the girls are up to now? Boy, I hope they haven't decided to play with playdough."
  • "What is that smell? Where is the dog poop?" Check shoes. "Nope, not on my shoe. Where the heck is it?" Start looking all over the mower, discover poop riding along on the "mud flap" on the back of the mower (no, I don't know the technical term for that particular mower piece). "Gross." Take stick and try to flick the poop off, only to smear it. Give up.
  • "Is that screaming coming from the house? I hope they haven't got blood on the carpet." Take earbuds off. "No screams from my house. Good."
  • "I wonder what's going on on Twitter?"
  • "Criminy, being the only one for the kids is getting old. I hope the MotH gets work closer to home soon."
  • "How is it possible that I am the mom of a senior?"
  • "Ooooo, that's a cool pattern. I should try an s-curve now.  Wow. Pretty."
  • "It sure would be nice if theMotH was home to see my cool patterns."
  • "Is that screaming? That has to be screaming. Oh wait, that's on my iPod. Stupid new pop music."
  • "Oh yay, another Taylor Swift song. How many Taylor Swift songs did oldest child have on her iPod anyway?  At least I made a playlist that avoids all the Chipmunk and High School Musical songs. Thank goodness."
  • "How can Romney even be considering Pawlenty as a VP pick? Man, I really hope he doesn't pick him. I'd be embarrassed to harass the liberal neighbors with a Romney-Pawlenty sign in my yard."
  • "I wonder if I can still get a Bachmann sign or two for my yard this year even though her district has changed? I hope so. The lib neighbors just love that one. Hehheh."
  • "I'm sexy and I know it!" Do a little dance with the mower. "I bet the neighbors think I'm nuts. Oh well, they're probably right."
  • "Is it really only Tuesday?"
  • "Was that a hurricane-child grabbing another popsicle? I wonder if Michelle Obama thinks letting kids live on popsicles contributes to obesity? She ought to see my kids - not an ounce of fat on any of them. So dumb."
That, my friends, is a sample of my random musings while mowing.  The yard looks great now.  I should get out the weed-whacker and attack the clumps of grass along the flower and veggie beds, but the last time I tried that I got a little crazy and got all the way down to the dirt in some places.  The yard still hasn't recovered. Not to mention I'm kind of scared of the string.  That thing is wicked. And I don't want to put on pants. No, I'm not mowing in underwear, I have on shorts. But it is too warm out for jeans and sneakers and did I mention I'm scared of the weed-whacker? Same goes for the hedge trimmer - haven't tried it and don't want to start.  I mean, if I started doing all the "man-jobs" around here, whatever would theMotH do when he actually is home? I have to leave something for him to do otherwise he'll decide he's unnecessary to our survival, I mean other than the usual replacing the burned-out light bulbs in the kitchen or asking oldest child and I if we've checked the oil in our vehicles lately or not.  He needs something to complain about having to do, right?

Next up: cleaning the pool.  There seems to be some sort of mass suicide pact among large beetle-type bugs and they're using drowning in my pool as their preferred method of death.  I think if I were a bug in on a suicide pact I'd vote for flying directly at cars. Seems like a quicker more painless form of death, especially compared to drowning. (Oh man, now I'm listening to Justin Bieber. Definitely time to go through the ol' playlists. Ugh.)  I'll get right on cleaning the pool after I figure out what the yellow substance is on the floor of my front hall.  I hope it's just yellow popiscle residue and not something from an overly excited fat geriatric dog.

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