Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Sunday, June 05, 2005


This is my backyard. If you click on the picture, it'll get bigger. I'm actually in the picture, waving. I've just finished mowing it. With a 15 year old push mower.

I don't think I'm exaggerating much if I say that my backyard is bigger than some baseball outfields. Heck, you be the judge. It takes four hours, and three tanks of gas (not to mention, umm, more than one beer) and my push mower to get through all of the mowing.

I have many things against me:
  • the lawn is the size of Donald Trump's ego
  • it's light here 24-7 until August - the grass grows continually so you have to do it weekly
  • I have to use the push mower
Why, you might well ask (as The Mrs. does) do you mow this lawn the size of a Kansas wheat field with a dinky push mower?

The Mrs.: "Let's get a riding mower. Here (looking in the classifieds) is one for $800."

What guy could resist - his wonderful wife wanting him to go out and buy power tools? I want that mower, I really, really do. But I can bring myself to do it.

I mumble something under my breath. She understands Christine, but, you know, she doesn't understand.

Christine is the mower. Her picture is below. And she's dangerous.

As you can see, Christine is no longer a show-room model. I checked her sticker, and she was made in September, 1990. Soon she'll be old enough to vote.

As far as details go, when I bought her, I overfilled her oil tank with oil. She blew black smoke from the engine. I thought her days were numbered, back in 1990. I have yet to change (or, in the past five years, even check) her oil. Yet, she keeps running. The black smoke stopped in 1992.

The handle broke. I responded, first, with duct tape. That worked, for a while. Finally, the metal in the handle fatigued, and I got out the welder. You can see in this picture the result of four years' worth of welding. I've added enough structural steel to the handle to effectively double Christine's weight. The speed control, and the bar you let go to stop the mower are gone now, as well. Yet she runs.

The Mrs. took an instant dislike to Christine when they met. "That's an ugly lawn mower, John."

Me: "It works."

I sharpened her blade once, back in 1998. Now, rather than doing precision cuts through the grass, Christine mashes the individual stalks with a blade that must be rounded smooth from the constant mowing. Yet she runs.

I first became aware that there was something amiss when my brother-in-law, Manolito, moved to Tangiers. He left his mower with us. A nice mower, it was - power driven wheels, 5hp engine. The Mrs. was thrilled - a new mower! We used the mower, and I doggedly held onto Christine. Soon, though, the new mower developed problems. Eventually, it became so unreliable that you couldn't even start it.

This I could write off as coincidence. Christine was running great, and The Mrs. understood, a bit, when she said, "Why get a new mower? This one runs." Christine was perfect for our postage-stamp lawn back in Akron.

Now, Alaska. When we bought the house, a new 6hp, power-driven mower was left. I filled it up with gas, and started to mow. Within 15 minutes, the mower belched a thick cloud of black smoke and became utterly inoperable. The pull start would not even pull. Christine had claimed her second victim. She and I have now mowed the place, twice.

I don't know exactly what she'd do if I bought that riding mower.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is one ugly mower. And I'm sorry I insulted it. Don't let it hunt me down and kill me in my sleep.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

I have this nasty habit of upgrading the lawn mower every 4-5 years, in fact, more often than I get a new car (It's cheaper that way.) Unfortunately my backyard is only 15x15 paces, and the front yard is even smaller. It's just a manly, ego thing.

6:55 PM  
Blogger John said...

The darn thing about it is that it works. Might get another cheapy so The Mrs. can mow at the same time as me . . .

11:03 AM  

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