Stories and thoughts about family and life

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth (and don’t expect his lawnmower to run either)

on May 5, 2013

My father-in-law was very ill a couple of years ago.  So ill, in fact, that we thought we were going to lose him for a couple of months there.  While we were in the middle of dealing with all things doctor, we weren’t especially concerned with his yard.  He had a yard guy who showed up occasionally to mow anyway, so we just stepped him up to every couple of weeks.  It’s amazing how having one less thing to deal with can make all the difference when there is so much going on in a situation like that.

Early the next summer, I set about mowing our lawn one day when my husband wasn’t feeling well.  My father-in-law, now feeling much better and over the “hump,” wanted to help, and brought his lawnmower down to our house to assist me.  Unfortunately, we weren’t ever able to get his mower started.  He helped me by running the weed eater and supervising my progress, and when we finished announced to me that we would have his lawnmower repaired and he would leave it with us.  He had paid quite a bit of money for the mower and it had only been used a couple of summers.  We had a garage sale at the end of the year and sold our old mower, anticipating having a much nicer mower to take its place.

As errands go, we never ended up making it to a lawn repair shop.  We had a relative visit at Christmas who offered to repair the mower and had it running beautifully.  We discovered that part of the problem was that it had been sitting with old gas in it for quite some time and was clogged up.  So, crisis averted, and no trip to the repair shop was needed.  We were thrilled, and our guest was pleased that he had made us so happy.

That was fine until about three weeks ago, when we finally had a day to try to mow the yard.  We pulled the mower out, put new gas in it, and attempted to start it.  Nothing.  It would try to start but never quite get there.   We were exceptionally frustrated, and after 30 minutes of trying varying methods, gave up.  We received a number of suggestions from friends and family, finally resulting in a suggestion from my dad of using carburetor fluid in both the gas tank and the carburetor.  We were so excited when Louis pulled the string and the mower fired up!  The only problem now is that it was running at about half the RPMs you would normally expect (so that high, fast sound you general y hear as your mower runs was only about half that).  Louis decides that he better get moving and get the lawn mowed and he proceeds across the yard.  He gets about four passes made across the yard and the mower is slowing down more and more progressively.  As he passes the front porch, it dies completely.   We try several times to use more carburetor fluid and it will only start, run a few seconds and die again.

Once again, I call my dad.  As a farmer, I’ve seen him work on many pieces of equipment and successfully “fix” things that you wouldn’t think would run again.  Daddy suggests getting it running and then spraying WD-40 (because that and duct tape or bailing wire will repair almost anything!) into the carburetor every time it tries to die.   He is certain that once it can blow out whatever has it clogged, it will run without issue.    Sounds reasonable enough.

Louis starts the mower and I assume my position, can of WD-40 in hand.  I should probably point out now that we started all this as soon as I arrived home from work, so I’m in the yard in nice capris, a blouse, and sandals.  Certainly not lawn-mowing attire.  I plod along on the left of the mower, with my legs slightly squatted so I can easily reach down to where I need to spray.  Every time the mower acts like it’s going to die, I squirt the can of WD-40 and the mower fires back up again.  Around and around we go, Louis pushing the mower and me religiously squirting WD-40.  We began to crack jokes:   “I know I said we could work together to mow the lawn,” I said, “but this isn’t exactly what I had in mind.”   He smiles and says “yeah, well, YOU’re the one who said we needed to be walking more together.”

As we proceed in circles around and around our yard, stopping every few feet to provide the mower the opportunity to receive more life-giving (apparently) WD-40, we muse at what our neighbors must be thinking, and why no one has come out to see what we’re doing.  As we’re finishing the last section of the yard, I catch our next door neighbor rounding the top of the street while walking her dog.  She tilted her head, obviously curious about what was going on in our yard.  She approached us and offered her lawn mower to us, but as we were only a couple of passes away from being finished at this point, we politely declined.   I mean, we’re already getting all this great exercise and working together as a family, right?  Yeah, that’s what I’m going with.  Incidentally, our project for the weekend is now going to be reconstructing the carburetor on the mower.   Our life is never boring—that’s for sure!


One response to “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth (and don’t expect his lawnmower to run either)

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