Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sisyphus, Riding Lawn Mowers, and George Carlin

Lest you think my new life is all sweetness and light, I suppose I should come clean with my confession.

Last Friday, I cried. Not that that's highly unusual. I can be a bit of a crybaby sometimes. It was the circumstances.

For the life of me, I could not remember how to start the riding lawn mower. I bought it from the previous owner, with her instructions as well as a manual. I don't do well with manuals and her instructions had disappeared into the ether. I hadn't planned on crying. It just sort of happened. The rain had made mowing difficult for the week or so before we closed on the sale and with all she had to do to get ready to return to Iowa the yard and gardens had taken a back seat, shall we say. The lawn I had seen previously seemed like a distant memory. I knew it was going to be fine, eventually, and as soon as the weather cleared at all, I would get right to it. Right after I started the riding mower.

I wasn't sure how I was going to tackle this problem, as admitting I didn't have a complete handle on everything was not yet an option. My immediate solution was to head to town to buy a push mower - the kind that has a motor, but you still gotta push it - knowing I would need one for touch-ups anyway, once I got the riding mower started. I would see what I could do by hand. I wanted the exercise and knew it would be good for me. Yada, yada.

I was delusional.

Mowing this acreage by hand would be tantamount to Sisyphus pushing that rock up the mountain. Repeatedly. Forever. Or at least until it snows.

I needed a bit of advice on mower-buying and so called Ex #2, knowing he had recently bought one for our son, Coleman. Did I have ulterior motives? Probably. It was time to admit I didn't quite have a handle on everything. He made his recommendations and then I went on to tell him of my troubles with starting the rider. Suddenly, yes, this is one place I legitimately get to use that word, I was crying. One could even say I was sobbing. I realized I had let myself get overwhelmed by all I had to do to get settled in my new home, let alone get the yard and gardens back to their previous state. I knew I had plenty of time to do it, but that didn't matter. I had hit the wall and did not know it until that moment.

He told me to stop crying. Nicely. Kind of. And then we laughed. And then he gave me advice on the mower starting problem. By that evening, I had a brand new Poulan push mower, I'd gotten the rider going and had half the yard done. Now, I have the entire yard done and looking pretty park-like even. Love that riding mower.

I have much weeding still to do in the garden, but am taking it slow, day by day, handful of weed by handful of weed. No, not the recreational kind. The next-year-I'm-going-to-lay-down-a-lot-of-mulch kind.

A friend called while I was in the garden. I told her about my crying jag and then shared with her that my hands were covered in dirt, I was sweating up a storm, I hoped my boys would be over soon so I could pawn some radishes off on them, it was starting to rain and my nose was running. We laughed. We talked. We exchanged tales of losing sleep over our recent projects. Then, back to the tasks at hand.

I will tame this patch of ground, if it takes me all summer...

"Weather forecast for tonight: Dark."   George Carlin.

May 12, 1937 -  June 22, 2008.  Funny man. I miss him.


  1. Awww, I'm sorry you had a rough few days with the new property. I probably would have cried too. But isn't it in struggling that we discover how strong we really are? And what a nice ex you have! Glad things are falling into place now. :)

  2. I remember when I was single and had those gadget inadequacies. My current husband is a fixer of everything. I hope I'll never be widowed.

  3. Ooh how I get this post. As you know, I'm a widow. Sooo, I too had to learn about mowers and what needs oil mixed with the gas??? hmmm...anyway, Sounds like you may need to spend a wee bit of time in the morning, meditating, or...maybe a mike's light hard cranberry lemonade!!! Things will be OK. Slow down and breathe!!! ommmmmmm....
    Sending good thoughts your way....

  4. After my first husband left me, I suddenly felt so helpless to do all the things he used to take care of. But, one by one, I did them myself, and THAT felt AMAZING!!

    I'm so proud of you! The yard and garden sound amazing! You can DO it!!

  5. Thank you, ladies, for your show of support. I appreciate your thoughts and comments. The important thing is, I did get the yard all mowed, the garden is showing real progress, and I found a renewed strength and resiliency that will certainly be coming in handy from here on out. I'm learning to take things step by step and day by day, staying present to each task at hand. Thanks for the good thoughts sent my way. I'm very grateful.

  6. BTW, Joan, I think we must have been reading each other's blogs at the same time... :)

  7. If you hadn't cried, you would never have realized how difficult all this work was, or how much of it you had to do. Now your feeling of accomplishment can be so much greater than it would have been!

  8. What a nice thought. It feels very true. Thank you.

  9. Teresa: I have cussed the blazes out of my machinery, riding mowers and weed whackers. Feel inadequate like the dickens. I'm not, you are not. You'll cut the grass. Does it have to be in one day? No. I pace myself. Half one day, the other half the next.

    You are a pioneer. A lone wolf on the land. It's hard, but you have friends. Even the ex. You must have been desperate (just kidding). They will help. Brenda and I would help if we were close by. I'd bring some beer or wine to the party. And, Teresa, you never know who you will meet when you need to call in the skilled crafts people to do things on your place!

    Please send pictures of your push and rider mowers. Love to see them. I'll send you pics of mine. My mower is a Sears and Roebuck. I'm serious, let's see what brings you to desperation.

    Your friend, Jack.

  10. Jack, I cannot tell you how much your comments mean to me. I laughed and felt such relief. A comrade-in-arms of the Machinery Clan. Pics of those bad boys will be on the way in the morning, but now I have to go wash the Liquid Fence off my feet lest I repel those skilled craftsmen that might be heading my way! :) Thanks for being such a good friend.

  11. Glad to hear that you got through your grass cutting adventure. Crying is okay, just an outpouring of emotions, a cleansing if you will.
    George was a brilliant man! Great quote.

  12. Thank you, Mark. Yes, I have been a fan of George since he first appeared on Carson. Love his routine about our "Stuff." Nice to hear from you...

  13. Moving is very stressful and one little thing can set a person off on a crying jag; I know only too well. How much do you have to mow? There are always forums to help answer questions you may have about repairs, etc. I've used them for computers, cameras, decorating, you name it. Glad you got it started.

  14. P.S. sometimes I feel like my life is like sisyphus; we said we'd never buy another house that needed remodeling, especially wall paper removal, and guess what that's what we have, we were sick of it the day we moved in, but the price was right.

  15. Hi Linda! The price was definitely right here...and, despite what seems to be an immense amount of work, I'm trying to take a bite at a time, and savor it, while I learn more every day. Some days I'm more successful than others... Thank you for sharing your own trials and for your ideas about online help. I love how you keep your life so active through your pottery and things like your scalloping adventure. Then to create a pot from it! Very nice.