Monday, May 17, 2021

Nothing at all

 Well...It's kinda gloomy down here today (and no change in the forecast for the rest of the week).  High probability of some rain every day. Which is good...

A couple of weeks ago

Yesterday morning

Yeah, it doesn't hold water very well.  So, a little rain to fill it back up would be nice.  So the rain the first part of May?  Not only did it fill up the stock tank, it made the grass, that we'd just paid a guy $75 to come and clean the wires on the riding mower battery so we could mow it, grow back with a vengeance.

I'm a little bored one afternoon, and Mrs J is involved with something, so I decide I'm going to go and get the riding part of the mowing done.  (This is usually Mrs J's part, mine is a love affair with a push mower and a weed eater cleaning up the areas where the rider can't go.  There's a lot.)  I sit down, check it's in neutral and brake is engaged, turned the key and....


Been there, done that, got the $75 certificate that says I'm checked out on cleaning starter wires.  Pop the seat up and realize Noah's flood had rusted the bolts holding the wires to the battery.  Replaced them with brand new ones that I happened to have on hand (No unnecessary trip to Lowes needed, which is HIGHLY unusual for me.) Sat back down, cranked and Voila' starts up.  

After almost break my arm patting myself on the back, I put it in gear and start to go.  Except the motor is kinda chugging.  I think "Well with the flood, some water might have gotten in somewhere, I'll let it run for a bit longer".  Shortly thereafter the mower gives a final cough and dies.  I try the normal restart boldface. (It's a fighter pilot thing.)
1. Put on Brake. 
2. Disengage Blade. 
3 Ensure Full Throttle selected 
4 Engage Starter.

Nada, not even a click.

So I give my new lawnmower mechanic friend a call (Beans, should he be on Speed Dial? Asking for a friend.) and describe the problem.  He says he thinks it's a stuck choke, and starts to tell me how to fix it.  I stop him immediately after he says, "Remove carburetor".  

A man's got to know his limitations, in my experience the next step in the process, should I attempt to fix it myself, would be "Buy new Mower."

"When can you come get it?"

"Saturday?"  (Day after next.)

"Sounds good, see you then"

Mrs J and I push it into the garage.

He's good to his word.  So, we've got the hood up and he sees the problem with the choke and fixes that, checks a few other things to include the oil.  


"What's wrong?"

"You've got gas in your oil, I'm going to have to take it to the shop to fix."

"How long do you think it might take?"

"Probably have it fixed and be able to bring it back by next Saturday."

I look at the lawn and the push mower, and my back starts aching.


Two days later, I get a call.  It's him saying it's ready and asking whether I'd be there if he drops it by that afternoon. Mrs J and I had coordinated a rendezvous with our winemaker friends at the local farmers market that afternoon.  I looked at the jungle  lawn outside and say "Come on over."  Mrs J will just have to go drink wine with our friends by herself. (She's a trooper with sacrifices like that.)

He arrives, backs the mower off the trailer.  I get on and start it up, engage the blade, make a couple of passes.  All is well.

Ask him how much I owe him, expecting $250 or so with the delivery both ways.  He says "$144.12"

The Lawn gods were smiling that day.  Mrs J comes back, sees the mower in the garage, comes in and changes clothes.  I ask her where she's going.

"To mow the lawn."

"Done, now here's what you need to know to push mow around the trees and weed whack the yard"

I expect the bruises will fade very soon!

For some reason, this song is stuck in my head.  Enjoy

Peace out ya'll.

P.S. I did the push mowing and weed whacking the following morning.  It gets hot here in Texas in the PM. Mrs J used the riding mower to mow at our old house.


  1. Ah, those small ICEs as they age and get used around the holdings, don't ya love 'em? Does your lawnmower mechanic drink wine? Make sure he's on speed dial. Ya, no rain here for the last two weeks. "And then the fight started...." more trigger words to remember juvat, hope your memory works better than mine.

    1. My memory has had its ups and downs lately, in my opinion, caused by the relaxed schedule of retirement living and the enforced shutdown of the wu-flu overreaction. My solution is lists, notes and physical calendars. Now, all I have to do is remember to use them. But, remembering on thing, review the notes, is easier than remembering many things. Such is my experience with aging.

    2. Getting into a routine will help. Of course, remembering to stick to the routine...

    3. It's pencil and paper first, then on to the iPhone for us. We can set multiple alarms over the course of a few days, that helps a lot.

    4. any time you feel your memory's going, take up Japanese: study the kanji, their various pronunciations, their various meanings, re-create them using a a brush and India ink. Then, when you're getting bored, begin to study the grammar (I became bald shortly thereafter).
      Trust me, your memory will begin to improve rapidly.

  2. It is so interesting to me.... You can manage an IT department for a 4A school, fly a desk at the Puzzle Palace, manage the MIGHTY F4, and balk at a carburetor? The circuitry in the human brain is amazing to me. I can pull a carb and make new parts for it if needed, but any of the other things you've done with aplomb would sink me, I'll reckon.

    Life is a grand adventure, especially on the Edwards Plateau. Keep cool up there...

    1. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. My belief is that's what makes humans different than other species, if we all work together and take advantage of strengths to cover weaknesses we'll progress. When we take advantage of other's weaknesses, we devolve. Not that that's happening right now, oh no, not at all.

      But, speaking of strengths and weaknesses, I've got a metallurgy question I'd like to ask you, would it be ok if I emailed you at the address you posted a while ago?

    2. It makes sense to me. He's a pilot. Pilots need little hordes of people to follow around them and do all the important work, like maintain the aircraft, paint the lines on the runway, pack parachutes, polish the glasses at the O Club and such.

    3. Yep, I'd drop the "little" from that paragraph but it pretty well sums it up, especially the polish the glasses part. I always seem to be polishing my glasses nowadays. Oh. Wait! You mean....

    4. Beans, you forgot taking pictures of us in our fighter pilot attire for distribution "downtown".

  3. Adventures in mowing...

    You've turned this topic into an art form, the only thing we're missing is the blood, sweat, and tears. (And the occasional Anglo-Saxon epithet if I'm not mistaken.)

    The boat thing, it is very relaxing, been a long, long time since I've done that.

    Nice post to start the work week.

    1. Why yes, epithets are spoken and not just Anglo-Saxon, some French is included and quite a few Spanish ones. I like to improve my fluency in cursing, so practice regularly.

      Thanks, Now get back to work, sounds like you've got another great novel to write.

    2. Multi-lingual cursing, it's definitely a plus!

    3. And multi-cultural cursing.

      The farther north one goes, the more short and harsh the curse is. As one heads down to more languid latitudes, the curses become more wordy and smoother. I attribute it to the freezing cold vs the hot sun.

      Thus, multi-cultural cursing. Using harsh, Anglo-Saxon-Germanic curse words in the style of Italy or Spain or even the Middle East (who can spend half an hour developing the background for a good cursing session, something no self-respecting and half-frozen Norsker or German can afford, as that half hour is 1/3rd of his available light during the day. (Slightly exagurated for effect, slightly.)

      Thus, for real effect, other than just going total Southern and dropping a 'dang' or 'oh darn,' a good MCC is like "You blankety-blank cursed something of a (insert very bad statement about potential birth and ancestry) of a something-something yada-yada shish-boom-bah full of really bad words that would make the most hardened sailor blush or run away screaming and so forth and so on for a long time and not repeating any bad words (because you know a lot of them and they need to be used and polished otherwise they become stale) and so forth."


      When the ground around you is flattened and crispy and you can hear squirrel babies (or whatever small annoying rodent form is in your AOA) from a mile away crying in fear, well, you've done a proper multi-cultural curse.

    4. (Don McCollor)...The best description of sincere cursing I have run across was in Dan Galley's fictional book: "The Admiral's remarks at this point shocked and embarrassed even his Marine orderly, a veteran of 20 years service with four rows of campaign ribbons"...

  4. A lawnmower coincidence this week.

    Our big mower is a 42" Craftsman and it's at least 25 years old.

    While cutting the lawn earlier this week I decided that I could thread the needle between the corner of the dry laid stone wall and the walkway lights. That would save me from stopping the mower, dismounting, removing the solar lights, and climbing back aboard.
    I now know that the energy required to knock the corner of the block wall out of kilter is enough to stop the big mower.
    No lasting damage to me, the wall, or the mower.
    A few minutes later I bumped a stone on a different rubble wall at my next door neighbors home, and the dislodged stone rolled under the cutting deck. The hardball sized chunk blew the mulching cover off of the mower and flew quite the distance. Again, no injuries, and a slightly bent blade was the only physical damage.
    I decided to finish cutting the grass with the bent blade, and a few minutes later the bent blade made contact with the slight up thrust corner of a flagstone.
    The bent blade is now bent with a capitol B and I changed to the spare blades and finished the job without any more interesting events.
    I'm very handy and I have no intention of straightening the blades.
    The new blades are on the way.

    Yes you had to pay for repairs, but you cannot buy a new mower, or a good used mower for what the repairs cost.

    1. No, you're right about the last. This guy will have my business for as long as one or the other of us is around, that's for sure. I did learn while riding on the mower, that Mrs J has perfected that side of the job into an art form. After I thought I'd finished the riding portion and surveyed the result, I found myself charging across the yard on the mower to slay small areas of long grass that had obviously jinked as I approached them the first time. Mrs J never seems to need to reattack.

      So...I guess I'm doomed to the push mower and weed whacker duty.

    2. When making your mowing pattern passes across the field, you do need to overlap a tad to a bunch depending on the height, stringiness and pure cussedness of whatever you are mowing. Like you do if you have to do the whole or a reasonable patch with a walk-behind (either push or self-propelled.)

  5. That's a nice fort in your photo, but no commander back in the day would have allowed brush and trees to grow so closely.

    What I like in your fiction are the stories of the people on the ground, the ones doing the hard work. Too many histories are just the takes of the commanders.

    1. The fields of fire around the fort back in the day were generally kept pretty clear. Good observation.

    2. To the point that any patch of 'uncleared ground' was viewed with great suspicion by veterans. Newbs or idiots, on the other hand, could and did easily fall for the "Oh look, a patch of shrubbery/grass to go hide behind that's conveniently in the range of the fort. Let's go hide there in the stuff that looks like a vegetative form of barbed wire crossed with poison ivy! It'll be Great!"

  6. The upside of living in a fairly wet, warm environment is that everything is green and lush. The downside of living in a fairly wet, warm environment is everything grows like crazy and rapidly gets of out of control.

    If it makes you feel any better, the battery died last month on our electric mower (Same experience: Push in safety button, pull handle. Nothing). After looking up what a battery cost from the Big Box Store (Yikes!) I boldly decided to try it myself. An order from The Borg later, a couple of pictures to verify the wiring, and a Tube of You video or two, and surprise! Even I get something right once in a while.

    An honest mechanic. Not only should you keep him on speed dial, you should ply him with whatever he wants or desires. Who knows what else he will be able to repair.

    1. Yeah, Springtime down here is a very nice time of the year. Warm, wet and green and that will last for about another 2-3 weeks. It will then be replaced with Hot as the dickens, humid enough to make the heat seem hotter. little rain so the green fades into a dusty grey. But...It's home and we love it here. The weather just gives us something to vent about.

      I intend to keep him well employed.

  7. I think your stock tank has a leak!

    Had to laugh at your idea of fixing the mower means buying a new one.

    Btw, had mass indoors yesterday. Felt good to kneel before my Lord.

    1. Wait, that's your stock pond right? And with that I just ruined my joke. Haha.

    2. Tuna,
      Yeah, we got some good news at the end of Mass yesterday also. The Bishop published a letter which ended the dispensation for missing Mass, it also removed the requirement for wearing a mask during Mass if you've received both rounds of the vaccine. If a person hasn't, they're still supposed to mask up. The Bishop is coming for Confirmation of new members this week. Our priest wants to confer with him on the unvaccinated folks. I suspect it's more of how do we know who's vaccinated and who's not. But, in any case, good news.

    3. Tuna,
      Must have missed something, or my humor meter needs repair. But I know someone who might be able to fix it.

  8. Advantage/disadvantage of being farm/ranch raised. Learn how to fix it yourself because there is no money to hire it done. Now, in my dotage, I hire it done. My parents would be aghast but my 76 year old body applauds.

    1. I'm trying to improve my self-help skills, and wish I'd had more experience growing up doing so. That having been said, I am pretty confident in my ability to figure out when the ice is starting to crack and the next step will put me in over my head. Going to try my hand this week at fixing some fencing. Looks easy on youtube. We shall see.

    2. As someone who has made and/or fixed many miles of fence, some advice. 1. Don't overtighten. 2. Wear boots so when you overtighten and the broken wire wraps around your ankles you won't be cut. 3. Wear gloves.

  9. Around here it’s not unusual to have to wait a month to get a mower back from th mechanic, and you’d have to take it in yourself ...a d pick it up. Oh, and, by the way, that’ll be $100 up front.
    Fortunately, one of the five Steve’s is a shade tree mechanic when it comes to small engines. (erm, and theirs a remote stepson who’s really handy)

    1. It's good to have friends, that's for sure, Skip.

  10. Ah, the joys of lawn maintenance, how I don't miss it a bit.

    Though I do have a rake and one of those weed-cutter things you wave back and forth for when the property management company gets a tad lazy the leaves or pine needles start killing what goes for grass here.

    As to rain, what's that? We here on the spine of Florida are looking at drought conditions last seen during 1998 when, coincidentally, Florida burned, which we don't really want to happen as there are still parts of the Ocala National Forest where the firestorm sterilized the ground and it's still struggling to come back.

    The mower guy? He's a keeper. Make sure to tell him to tell you when your mower's past worth fixing, and when it's getting on it's last legs, to watch out for a good used one. I seem to remember when the cutting deck starts dying, then the price goes rather up and up. Motors can be swapped out, but decks are so specific to make and model.

    Ask him about putting a fuel stabilizer into your gas, as that will help stop water intrusion into the gas mixture. Won't stop a head gasket from leaking, which is where you normally get the whole gas-into-oil or oil-into-gas thingy, but every little bit helps.

    Glad you have clearly delineated duties at Casa Juvat. Keeps you honest, it does.

  11. For a moment, I read, hazily, without my computer glasses on, you were meeting with your winemaker friends at the local "firearms market". How nice I thought to share thoughts of steel, springs, IWB, OWB and all that.
    I should have thought they'd have a canister to start that crazy lawnmower. Aye, that's the ticket!
    Pictures of finished product look great. I wish we had some dirt here at the condo to fool with.

    1. Ha! Canister starts! That brings back some memories. I was a crew chief on F-105's and F-102's (Delta Dart's last active duty station, Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland) '69-'73. My 48" Husqvarna is 20 years old, second motor.

  12. A long time ago (1979) I took a class called Power Technology in 9th Grade. It was small engine repair. One of the best classes I've ever taken. I used to make quite a bit of money fixing lawnmowers. My favorite was finding one out at the curb for trash pick up. I'd ask if I could have it and was usually told yes. If it was a Briggs & Stratton engine, nine times out of ten it was a sheared flywheel key. It took about a half an hour to fix. If I did fix it, I'd offer it back to the person I got it from. Nobody ever took me up on it, so I'd sell it for $20-$30. Last weekend my Nephew couldn't get the mower started, so I took it apart, checked it over and had it running in 30 minutes. (fouled spark plug).

  13. Ah yes, repair is NOT the norm today. You're supposed to throw it away and go spend MOAR money on a new one (lather, rinse, repeat)... At least you didn't have to find somebody with a brush hog to 'knock it down'... :-)

  14. If I delay too much, I'll have to "knock it down" with my DR (Field n brush mower).


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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