Not my Second Career Choice

I'm not one for yard vanity.  I don't think that trying to make something grow for the sole purpose of cutting it down is an efficient use of my time, energy, or resources.  Sprinklers are a waste of water.  Fertilizer/seed combinations just mean that the dog can't go out for several hours.  I'm pretty sure golf courses are simply upscale eco-terrorism.  It should therefore come as no surprise that I'm not a big fan of mowing.  It's usually hot, dusty, and irritating in the fact that I know I'll have to do it again soon.  Alas, my yard boy moved away for about a year leaving me in charge of the yard.  This is not a good thing.  For the yard.

The first time I mowed the yard here in Clarksville, it was unseasonably warm.  Because I have two small children, I waited until Little Man was napping so as not to have to put him in the front carrier.  The mental picture seemed awkward and I was pretty sure I didn't have the correct eye protection for an infant (my eye protection comes in the form of $10 sunglasses from Target:  OSHA should have no problems there), so I opted for Plan B.  Plan B was Little Man napping and Sweet Girl watching a movie with copious snacks available to her.  I told her what I would be doing and where I would be, and that if she needed me to come get me.  I left the garage door shut but not latched so she could get me easily should there be an emergency like the tv shorting out or apple slices running out.  I was into my second pass around the side yard when I see Oreo bolt out the door.  Awesome.  I leave the mower and investigate.  Sweet Girl's in the garage sitting on her old tricycle, with her knees up to her chin, barefoot and topless.  There must have been one hell of a party on My Friends Tigger and Pooh.  After a quick momversation (That's mostly what Sweet Girl and I have: I ask her questions, she repeats part of what I say, and then two minutes later I get two-word replies to the question I forgot I asked.  We're working on a more effective and efficient communication style.), I herd her back into the house to locate the missing clothing items.  That righted, I grab the dog's leash and go hunting for him so he doesn't become property of the local too-nice-lady-who-takes-dogs-into-her-house-to-find-their-owner-but-really-just-makes-Sean-think-Sarah-is-a-terrible-pet-mother-as-it-happened-on-her-watch.  He didn't get too far, but by this time I'm pretty sure Little Man's going to wake up at any minute so I rush to finish the front yard.  The back yard will have to wait for another day.

The "another day" comes the next day.  Little Man's not in a napping mood and Sweet Girl is keeping all her clothes on, so I decide they can get some fresh air while I mow the backyard.  It's fenced in which is great for kid corralling and for Oreo, but really it just means that all of Oreo's poop is in a concentrated location and it will eventually end up on the bottom of your shoe no matter how diligently you use the pooper-scooper or how careful you are at where you place your feet.  I had purchased a baby pen that I'm pretty sure was called "Baby's Happy Entertainer" in the catalog but in all reality it's Little Man jail with bells and whistles.  I put down a blanket in a spot where I won't have to mow, plop Little Man down in his fancy jail and tell Sweet Girl that now is not the time to become an lawn mower-charging adrenaline junkie but if she did, above all else, to keep her clothes on.  If I'm going to Mom Prison for failure to put my children in a safe place while I'm mowing, Sweet Girl would at least watch them put me in the backseat of the squad car fully clothed.  The mowing is fairly uneventful, though the backyard has serious issues, but I learned that (1) Sweet Girl has better things to do than entertain her younger brother, (2) Little Man hates yard work as much as I do, and (3) Oreo doesn't understand why I would be vacuuming the outdoors, not to mention the outdoor vacuum doesn't have a canister - it just keeps spitting the dirt out.

The second time I attempted to mow the yard, it was after a rainy spell.  The regular rain made the grass grow quickly while at the same time preventing me from actually mowing.  Tricky rain.  Once there was a break in the monsoon, I went to tame the grass.  Sweet Girl was at school and Little Man was napping, so I had plenty of time.  I'm making good time on the front yard when the mower sputters out.  Odd.  I check the fluid levels, just as I had done before I started, and I saw the same thing; everything's good.  Well, maybe the grass was too thick and the mower will start up after it rests.  Our lawn mower's a diva.  I try to start it.  Not happening.  I try again.  Not even sputtering.  I try again because my genetic code says I will NOT be beaten by inanimate objects.  Again, nothing.  I cede the battle to the mower but not the war as I vow to be back.

The next day - same grasstime, same grasschannel - I gear up to finish the yard as it's forecasted to rain the next day.  But the mower is stubborn in its slumber.  I call the handyman I keep on retainer, but Papa was stumped as well.  This is not good.  My side yard has a growhawk and Oreo scared some National Geographic photographers in the backyard that morning.  They were apparently confused about the rainforest that had appeared in Tenntucky and were shooting a pictorial when Oreo came sneaking up through the grass begging for food.  I can't be blamed for them not seeing him though:  he's not that tall.  So I talk to Sean and we agree that we need a lawn service.  I make a couple of calls and find a guy who can come the next day ahead of the rain.  The rain he's tracking on the weather radar in his truck.  This is serious lawn service business.  He shows up the next morning as promised in a polo embroidered with his company name, and a trailer full of equipment.  It's at this time (after I read the name on his shirt) that I realize his name is Ryan not Ron.  When he returned my phone call I was busy- changing diapers, cleaning up bodily fluid, or saving the world I can't remember which- and his accent was thick enough for me to hear his name as Ron.  We had two subsequent phone conversations, and during both I erroneously called him Ron and he never corrected me.  That aside, he seems like a very nice guy and he was unintimidated by my experiment in vegetation overgrowth.  At Ryan's signal, two other guys got out of the truck.  One started mowing, the other moving swings and outdoor furniture to a safe place, and Ryan began trimming around shrubs and  under trees.  Later they blew the grass off the driveway.  Dear Ryan mowed the yard for me several times.

That is until my Scottish/Calvinist heritage got the better of me.  You may recall that we went on vacation.  During that time my grass had the audacity to grow, not as much as it should have as we're now dry as an Amish community center,  but enough to call the attention of a passing lawn service.  Ronald rang my doorbell and told me he'd mow the yard for $10 less than Ryan.  I'm cheap.  I can get a pair of sunglasses at Target for that.  Sold.  Ronald and his wife/girlfriend/sister/random female stranger he met on the street show up two hours later than the agreed upon time and start mowing.  She mows, he trims.  Neither of them can open the gate to the backyard (one must lift AND simultaneously push: it requires two hands and a lift from the knees not the back, but it's not rocket science).  I do that and barely have time to rescue an errant Little People before it was shredded.  Ronald's weed eater dies before he uses it under the slide on the swingset.  They collect payment.  Not great, but the yard is mowed so I say that I'll probably call in a couple of weeks. 

I was true to my word and the exchange between Ronald and myself went something like this:

After six rings
Ronald:  (sleepily though it's 1:30 pm) Hello?
Me:  Hi, Ronald.  This is Sarah.  I live at One Yemen Way.  You mowed the yard for me a couple of weeks ago.
Ronald:  Huh.
Me: was hoping you'd be available to mow some time this week.
Ronald:  Yup. (sounds of movement on the other end like he's trying to get out of quicksand)
Me: days are you available?
Ronald:  Uh.  When?
Me:  Right.  When are your available?
Ronald:  Oh.  To mow.  What is today?
Me:  Thursday.
Ronald:  Uh, tomorrow?  I'm just trying to recollect you.  What you say your name was?
(many exchanges that I'm not sure he'll remember but here's hoping)
Me:  Ok, great!  See you tomorrow.

Ronald has yet to show up.  Since Nana's here I decided that mowing the yard could fall back to me (and apparently the mower's problem had something to do with wanting to make me look like an idiot as both Papa and Sean were able to make it work like a champ since we had our disagreement).  Nana looked after the kids while I successfully mowed the yard.  During that time I was reminded of several things.  One being that I enjoy having the only noise I hear in my head being the music coming from my iPod.  Also, our backyard has big holes in it.  Also there are two trees in the backyard that have formed an alliance with the grass in that they attack anything trying to cut the grass around them.  Those trees hate people with mowers.  And they hate eyes.  And they hate earbuds.  Stupid trees.  Fancy lawn mowers take the sport out of yard maintenance.  It seems like an unfair advantage to have a riding mower; the mower will always win against the yard.  But there's a bit more sport with a push mower.  There were a couple of sticky situations today when the mutant mosquitoes, angry trees, uneven terrain, and an unfortunate slow song showing up on Shuffle, almost forced me to allow the grass to win.  Alas, I forged on and the grass fell to the swift, dull blades of our push mower.  {Of course, the grass may actually have the advantage with Carrie's mower as it's not self-propelled and made by a company known for really good scissors.  I haven't used it, but I think I've heard Papa mutter something about scissors being faster than Carrie's mower.  But it's Earth-conscious.  So the next time I have to drive my SUV down the block with my a/c on looking for my dog, I'll sleep easily knowing Carrie's offsetting my carbon footprint.}  Ronald doesn't know what he's missing.  Probably in more ways than one.


  1. You could always use Jen & Paul's new goat. ;)

  2. The Captain and I spent the afternoon trying to figure out how to re-string the weed whacker, so it will be ready for Boy Three tomorrow! Boy Two does the mowing, and there is not a sweeter sound on Earth. We stand up on the deck as he makes each pass, and we smile at the miniscule return we are getting for the $287,000 we will spend on him in this lifetime. Give or take $50k because we live in New Jersey. But it's the small things in life, you know?

    In my book, the heroine is mocked for her electric mower. But she's pretty fabulous, so Carrie should feel likewise.

    P.S. Today is the last day of Awesome August, so I'll just remind you: YOU'RE AWESOME!


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