Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lawnmower Stuff: Ten Steps for Mowing a Lawn, from the Girly Gurus

When my son went to college a few years ago, my daughter and I were left with a lawn that kept growing and an old, unreliable machine that we had no idea how to work. After several years of practice, I’m happy to report that my daughter and I about have our lawn mowing techniques down. And we have had lots of practice since our front lawn is one of those uselessly huge corner-lot things with pointless side yards and lots of wasted space. Usually my daughter is the one who mows, but these days she is so busy that I do have to do it from time to time. This recently happened when I used the mower to mulch leaves. So as I mowed and mulched for hours and hours, I came up with these instructions on how to mow a lawn at my house:

Step 1. Make sure it has gas in there. Gas makes it go.
Step 2. Be prepared. Point it in the direction you want it to go just in case it starts this time.
Step 3. Mess with the little handle thingy until it’s halfway between the bunny symbol and the turtle symbol. This is because we don’t know which one is right. My daughter prefers bunny and then switches to turtle, whereas I tend to favor the halfway point, where I imagine some imaginary freak hybrid animal should live. Like maybe an armadillo.
Step 4. Say the Mower Good Luck Chant, which goes something like, “Please please please turn on!”
Step 5. Think angry thoughts (but not too angry so as to offend the mower) in order to give your arm some oomph, and pull the ripcord a bunch of times while saying the Chant. If it miraculously starts, jump up and down and say the Thank You Chant. Do NOT—this is important—do NOT swear at it or call it names if it won’t start! I have never known the mower to start after swearing has begun.
Step 6. Mow the worst parts first in case it quits halfway through, even though this means you weave in random patterns and create crop circles. The Laws of Mowing clearly state that mowing SOME lawn is better than mowing none at all. If the mower quits and we leave that weird reverse putting green again, the neighbors will at least know we tried, and the really nice ones’ grandson might come over on the riding mower. (So far it’s only happened when my daughter has been mowing in shorts, but you never know.)
Step 7. Do NOT stop the mower for any reason, even if you see sticks in your way, because it may not turn back on. So just close your eyes real tight and run over stuff, and say “Sorry, mower!!” to appease it. Alternately, say, “Ow ow ow”—whichever is required.
Step 8. If the mower does poop out again, repeat all the steps. When you are tempted to swear at the mower, call the Lawn Goddess, the resident teenaged daughter. She will consider a moment, nod, blink sagely, and ask, “Did you say ‘Please?’” You will of course report that you did, three times, at which point she may prescribe adding just a few more “pleases.” Because she has the most technical knowledge in our home, she may also suggest something like “more bunny” or “switch to turtle.” That’s pretty much the extent of our cumulative knowledge.
Step 9. If, by some miracle, you manage to mow the whole thing, put your hands on your hips and survey what you have done. Say to yourself, “I am She-Mower, Conquerer of the Lawn, and I am awesome.” Be sure to repeat the Thank You Chant.
Step 10. The preferred alternative to all of this is, of course, hiring the cute bronzed Lawn Guy with the rocking biceps. Check his progress often by sneaking peaks out the window. Sometimes he takes his shirt off.

Remember, happiness doesn't depend on who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think. ~Dale Carnegie


  1. I hold my breath (until I pass safely) when I am hurtling down the highway and spot a police officer doing radar. That works for me. Next time, I will mentally try the "Please please please" to strenghthen the power.

  2. Ooops! Sorry for the typo! This post is great. You did the unthinkable---made mowing the lawn a humorous topic.

  3. I'm embarrassed to admit I have never mowed a lawn. My husband tried to show me one time and our self-propelled mower took off without my permission and dragged me behind, cutting a zig-zag pattern. I was asked to please never touch the mower again. Or any other power tool. Ever.

  4. Tammy,
    I don't have the strength to pull the cord, but if someone starts that devil of a machine, I can cut geometric shapes in the lawn, which ticks off hubby, and then he comes to my rescue.

  5. You forgot my golden rule. "Never let your beer drinking roommate mow." You end up with some form of abstract art in your lawn pattern :)

    This was too funny , Ms She-Mower :D
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  6. Hi Tammy,
    My lawnmowing skills are sorely lacking, even on the riding mower, but I'm good at raking leaves.
    Donna V.

  7. Sioux, good idea about the breath-holding. I will add that one to the please-please-please.

    Good tactic, Lisa. Let's hope disaster occurred that time you tried to take out the garbage. And lawn tools! Those can be hazardous, too. And don't even get me started on appliances that wash things...*shudder*....

    Linda and Jules, we know that geometric, abstract artwork only too well at my house even without beer!

    Donna, I'm impressed! The only reason I dragged out the mower was because I tried to rake about ten square feet and then gave up. Too much work!!

  8. Very funny, and oh-so-true. Last time I mowed the lawn, I ran over some enormous stump which bent the blades and put the whole darn thing out of commission. We had to buy a new mower. Ever since, I've been forbidden from touching the new mower. What a shame! : )


  9. Sounds like the last time or two I asked Ron to do some vacuuming for me. He managed to break the thing...by "accident"....Hmmm...


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