Thar she sits. We've been having one of our neighborhood teenagers, Brett, mow our lawn during the intense heat these last couple of summers, and during the 'winter' months, I do it. Brett's back in school, and besides a heavy workload, he's into sports, so I thought, wellllll, since it is September and Fall, I'll just mount up ol' "Black Beauty" and ride her around the yard. Usually, when I finish mowing, and after she's cooled down, I crawl around on the ground, reaching around her underbelly pulling out grass cuttings that have matted under there, then I wrangle up her cover, which is supposed to protect her from the weather, and cinch it on 'er. It's been working just great, but when we came home after Hurricane Gustav, I noticed that the cover was on the ground. I took note, but with everything else needing to be done immediately, I didn't go out and put it back on. Right away, it seemed, Hurricane Ike came barreling along, making more problems in the neighborhood. We picked up bushels of torn shingles from other people's houses that had blown into our yard, and worse; pink foam insultation, from those roofs. We have metal roofing, so they weren't from ours, but most of the houses around us, are presently sporting pretty blue plastic tarps.(the view out our back door)Golly, it seems as tho' lately, everything's been breaking down. Our front door has been waiting for a new door knob assembly for quite some time, the A/C has been acting up, and while guys were up in the attic checking that out, they found that the hot water unit needs replacing. That's not all, but I know everybody's got the same problems from time to time; if it not one thing...yadda yadda yadda...and that's how it goes. So, I quit as far as being "John Wayne"; I never was good at all the 'man things' that needed gittin' done anyhow. But, with help, we'll "gitter done", tho. We always do.
So, yesterday, I thought I'd take matters into my own hands and fire up "Black Beauty". I checked the gas tank and found it empty, so put in what was left in the gas can, which wasn't much. I thought I'd better go get some more, but maybe first I'd better fire her up, to make sure she was still working. She had sat there 'nekked' during Hurricane Ike, all exposed, so who knows whether she'd want to run or not. I leaped into her saddle and tried to coax her into starting. Well, she was pretty balky, and she did start, but boy! she started pouring out big clouds of gray smoke. Cappy was in my ear on the phone, and he said that she must have gotten dust in her engine from the hurricane wind blowing it in there, but she'd burn it off, once't she got goin'. Good enuff fer me. I rounded up the 'boys', SparkyBear and MarkyBear into the SUV, drove to the nearest gas station and rustled us up a couple gallons of gas for $11.(now that's just wrong), drove back home and 'watered' the 15 horse power ol' gal. Well, she drank it in good and all, so I mounted the saddle again, turned the key and at once was sitting in a fog-bank of thick, choking gray smoke! I knew something was definitely wrong, but maybe Cappy was right, the dust just needed to burn off, so I put 'er in gear and she took off, galloping across the lawn at a higher speed than I thought she would. I yelled at the lazing dogs, "Get along little doggies, get back, get BACK!!!", yelled,"Whoaaaaa", got her stopped and put into a slower gear, then off we went again, but she was not happy, and began balking again. Hmmm. I drove her around the yard one time, out-running the cloud of 'dust' behind us, til we saw Maggie, Brett's mother walking toward us, so I shut off the engine. Maggie said that Brett had planned on coming out in the morning to do the yard work, and could do whatever I didn't get done. I said I'd try to get most of it done, because I know Brett's been incredibly busy. I wish she hadn't said, laughing, "Yeah, you might not get it started again", meaning the jittery 'charger' I was sitting atop, as she, no doubt, had witnessed the rolicking ride I'd just been on, before I spotted her. I chuckled back as she turned to leave, got the lawn cutter roaring again, and went bucking across the lawn until we got out by the road next to the mailbox. Then she just broke down...quit. Pore thang. I dismounted, knelt down on my hands and knees and looked underneath. Aha! Some kind of rod had come loose and was half laying on the ground. I tried to get in there with my little fingers and shove the end back into the hole I thought it had come from, but it was going to take stronger fingies than mine. Impulsively, I thought about 'girding my loins' and making it go in there, but before I could ration that I got no loins, I noticed that the smoke had increased and was billowing out of the engine itself. Ok, pardner, I give up!! The whole thing was a lost cause, so I trotted back to the house and flounced myself into a big comfy chair under a fan, like Scarlet O'Hara consumed by the vapors, thinking, "Fiddle-dee dee; I shant think about this right now...if I do, I'll go crazy; I'll think about it tomorrow". And when tomorrow came, from down the street came a sound so sweet; the smooth music of a fast purring engine headed this way. The dogs recognized it at once and ran pell mell, hurry scurry out their dog-door, merrily barking at the approaching lawnmower and it's rider...low and behold it was the Lawn Ranger, Brett, to the rescue! I 'helped' him push ol' "Black Beauty" into the driveway. So, now she can just sit there in her "stall" until some scallywag comes along and fixes her.