Sunday, July 19, 2009

Moments of Mediocrity

One of my charitable contributions to the household is lawn-care.

Four acres of the property need weekly grooming, which includes two hours on a riding mower and an hour behind a push-mow for the spots unmanageable for the prior. These spots include: septic and water tanks (luxuries of living beyond city limits), tree bases, landscaped gardens (overflowing with mulch that spits back at your legs), the steep murky banks of the pond (waiting for the day I lose the mower in the dyed blue expanse) and various demarcations of my dad's archery practice.

[I would prefer to push-mow the entire lawn (as do most women I meet) for the exercise, but there are only so many hours in the day, and dinner needs to be going by four pm.]

Last week I decided to get at 'er without first consulting Dad. I thought I was pretty clever when I thought to check the gas levels of both mowers before operating. It can be difficult to eye the level of gas in a black metal tank, so when I'm pouring gasoline I usually try to use my ear to recognize the difference in pitch from the sound the liquid makes hitting the surface.

The riding mower offered a little more assistance than the push-mow, a metal rod inserted in the tank could be removed to get a read on the gas level. One might call this a dip-stick. And one might then come to the same conclusion I did, after filling the tank with unleaded gasoline: idiot...that is the oil tank.

[I'm not totally sure on this whole mechanics thing, but until someone clarifies for me, I will assume all motors need oil. Just like my old car, to which I always forgot to give due diligence.]

Some common sense eventually came to the rescue: probably should wait before starting the engine. Sadly, I did throw the argument around in my head for a while. I wanted to get the mowing done. It had taken me at least fifteen minutes just to get the riding mower out of the shed because I somehow pinned it between my sister's boat and the 4-wheeler, which my sister also last parked. I was alone yanking the steering wheel right then pushing forward till 'thump', then left and pulling back till 'thump'. And I was already sweaty from mowing the trim. But what can you do? I have no idea what could have happened if I had started the engine, but I figured mixing hot oil with gasoline could make boom.

I pushed the mower back into the shed and went inside to call Dad at work. He didn't answer so I called Mom. She didn't answer so I left messages for both. Mom returned my call as I was leaving a voicemail for Dad and Dad returned my call as I was speaking with Mom. Neither seemed too upset with me. I offered an oil change for a resolution and both agreed.

I think the average charge for an oil change is $30.00 or so, at least for a vehicle. Holy crap is that stupid. I can't tell you how easy it is to change the oil in a motor/engine/whatever it is called, but I will try:

1) remove nut from the oil tank, let oil drain
2) remove oil filter, let oil drain
3) replace nut and new filter
4) pour new oil into tank
5) check levels while pouring, quit when full

Dad and I finished the lawn together this afternoon. It was already time to redo the trim, even in this dry month.


  1. Some joke to be made about "dip-stick"/"idiot"/et cetera. But so, where does the gas go, if not the oil tank? What a botheration. Just fax it in.

  2. That's the genius part, Mike. Imagine, two tanks, one for oil, and another for gasoline.