Well, I hadn’t planned for this post to be so Late. I thought I could go study and work on my homework for a couple of hours, sneak in a quick run, come home and mow the Lawn and still have time Leftover in which to pen a blog. The Lawnmower had other plans.
The Little Woman mowed the front yard on Saturday and was getting ready to mow the back acreage yesterday afternoon when I stopped her. I felt guilty enough that I’m home all week and have yet to mow (we’re only two weeks into mowing season, but still, guilty). I’ll mow it tomorrow, I said confidently. Not to worry. She Looked at me dubiously, but mowing our backyard is a serious slog, so she chose to take me at my word.
Today dawned nice and sunny, so I thought I’d let the dew drops dry in the morning sunshine while I headed to my favorite coffee shop to work on my journal for my class, Multicultural Perspectives in Counseling. This class is giving me angina (more on this tomorrow—guess what M stands for?)—I just have to write a two-three page journal entry about my experiences with class, race, oppression, and privilege. No biggie. So I went to Tony’s Coffee Shop to sweat through that (the neighbors were sawing and banging—I couldn’t think in the house).
Around noon when I’d reached an impasse on oppression, I decided to go for a run. I’d worn my running clothes to study, so I just set out from there. I ran my fastest five miles of the year thus far, so I was pretty pumped. I had lots of energy when I got home, so I ate and then headed out to the back yard.
Mowing our back yard is not for the faint of heart. We have a vast swath of muddy, hilly weed-choked lawn with all sorts of obstacles (trees, plants, deck). It grows like a motherfucker too—to really keep up with it, we’d need to mow every five days, especially this time of year when we get a day of sun and then a day of rain. Back when the kids were small, I used to bag it since Anna has severe allergies and that took all afternoon. Each swipe up and back was a bag full of clippings.
These days we just mulch. So, I put on my headphones and the ear protection, my gloves, glasses, hat. I just kept my running clothes on since what was the point of sweating through more clothes? The mower started up fine and we went around the yard a few times, in and out of the trees, around the plants that I stupidly put in the middle of the upper yard.
And then she died. At first I thought I’d run out of gas, so I trudged up the hill to get the gas can and filled it up, checked the oil. All appeared to be fine. So I pulled the starter. Cough, cough. Sputter. Die. Cough, cough, sputter, die. Gasp, choke, sputter. Chug, chug, bleah. Goddammit. I checked the spark plug connection. I unscrewed the air filter. Well, that could be a problem. I knocked it somewhat clean and tried again. Same thing.
Weird. I texted TLW. Goddamn mower died, I texted. Like she could fix it for me from Seattle.
Raise the wheels up, she texted back
That’s not the issue, I texted. It’s on flat, mowed ground.
Clean the grass out around the blade, she texted.
Doh, I texted back. I’m not that stoopit.
I realized being a smart ass was not going to win me any brownie points. I’m the butch. I needed to figure this out. I went to get the spark plug wrench.
Check the spark plug, TLW texted. I felt smugly ahead of her but didn’t say so.
Yup, I texted.
I took the plug out and put in one that I found in the garage that appeared marginally better. I cleaned the air filter again and reseated it. But it still didn’t start. Son of a bitch.
Go get a new filter and spark plug, TLW texted.
Yah, I texted. I went to put on some less smelly clothes and then I called Sears to make sure they had the parts I needed.
Parts procured, I replaced the air filter, I replaced the spark plug. I didn’t expect much to be different since I could tell from the noise the mower was making that something wasn’t quite right. And I was correct. New parts in place. Same problem. Now it was 4 p.m. Not how I’d planned to spend my afternoon. I still needed to do homework and write my “L is for . . .” blog. I still needed a topic.
I looked at the mower and ascertained I’d need a flat head screw driver and a Philips head. I wanted to see what was going on under the hood. I know pretty much zip about engines, but I had a lawnmower engine go cart when I was a kid and that thing always required tweaking. I know about chokes and flooding, and this mower sounded like it wasn’t getting enough air, or maybe it was getting too much. Anyway, something about the choke wasn’t right.
I pulled the first part off. I could see the choke parts, but there wasn’t a manual choke to adjust. I tried to start it again while watching the parts. That’s definitely where the noise was coming from. Behind the air filter. The little springs looked very stretched out and there was a knocking sound. I poked around and found that when I pushed on the part the spring was attached too, it made a noise much like it did when I tried to start it.
I jammed the screwdriver in to hold the part back and tried starting it again. Voila! It started! Hot damn!
Lesbian 1. Lawnmower 0.
I didn’t think the screwdriver would stay put, so I found a stick to wedge in there, and I put the cover back on, started it again, and went around the yard for a test. We made it around once and then it died again.
I unscrewed the cover. The stick had become unwedged, so I pulled it out and jammed the screwdriver in again and didn’t bother putting the top back on. I was pretty sure I’d have to pull it off again, and besides, the screwdriver was sticking out. I pulled the starter rope, and she started back up. Around we went a few more times, and then going up the hill, it died again, but slowly, losing power as we went up the hill. I jiggled the screwdriver and noticed that now it appeared to be getting too much air (or not enough, but the opposite of what the initial problem was).
I positioned the screwdriver so that the little part was halfway open. She started right up again, and much to my surprise, the screwdriver stayed in place while I finished the rest of the lawn.
Yes, I could have taken the mower in to be serviced (and I will, later this week), but I couldn’t afford to let the grass get two more days on me. Two more days of growth would require lifting the mower up so far that mowing would be moot. Mowing would be an exercise in futility.
I knew I could solve this puzzle, if only temporarily. See? Fixed!