Enough Said

Enough Said
A sampling of my columns and why the hell is my picture SO big?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Men and their machines (original title)

Mowing the lawn

Published 04/03/2014 12:00 AM
Updated 03/31/2014 04:59 PM

What is it with men and their tractors?
My husband has a familiar yellow-seated green tractor he bought well over 20 years ago. That tractor has mowed, cut, mulched and plowed so many times, it's like another member of the family. He brings it inside when it gets really cold - we have a walk-out basement.
Years ago when my husband started fertilizing our front lawn, we had the greenest, lushest and fastest growing turf on the street. It looked like the Augusta National Fairway at the Masters. I was convinced the man was out of his mind. He had to mow twice as often. You are making more work for yourself, I told him.
The kids were little, so each time he mowed I had to make sure they stayed out of daddy's way while he drove that tractor around the yard, hour after hour. One time I decided I'd drive it; I figured that getting checked out on it was a good thing in case there was an emergency. Like if the car broke down and I had to drive to the mailbox.
I got on the tractor, fired it up and began to NASCAR around the front lawn. Enveloped in a cacophony of engine noise and machine vibration I found doing lawn-ovals comforting. No one could come near me and as long as I concentrated on where I was going, to the exclusion of all others, like a husband and two daughters waving their arms and shouting, no one could get my attention. I suddenly realized why he wanted to cut the lawn so often; it was his 'loud' quiet time.
Not long after we got the tractor it became my husband's bright idea to pull down a dead branch from a very tall tree in the front yard. It was too high to chain saw, so he threw a rope over the branch and tied it to the back of the tractor. The branch almost snapped off but the leverage was all wrong so he had to drive the tractor to set up a different angle. Our safety measures ... the kids were inside the house standing at the storm door and watching. I got to walk behind the tractor and hold up the rope so it wouldn't tangle as he drove to the other side of a large spruce which was in the way. As my husband drove, with me carrying the limp rope behind, I fell; the rope wrapped around my thigh. With me out of sight behind the Rockefeller Plaza size spruce, he was driving up hill, towing me by my thigh. When the girls saw me being dragged they started to laugh. I got mad. Suppose the rope had wrapped around my neck; my husband wouldn't have had to listen to me recall how stupid we were, even now, 20 years later.
Last fall my husband decided it was time to have the green machine taken in for repair. It was spitting and sputtering like an old man with a pack-a-day habit.
After a week in the shop, the lawn took over. After two weeks my husband became morose, thinking it might be time to replace his beloved little workhorse. But alas, his tractor came home again. One month, and over a grand later, the green machine was purring like a kitten and running like a Deere. It got me to thinking: I've been around longer than that tractor. If I got a month off, and my husband spent a thousand dollars on me, maybe I'd do the same. Enough said.

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Hardy nutmeggers on slippery slopes (original title)

Hardy Nutmeggers on slippery slopes

Published 03/13/2014 12:00 AM
Updated 03/10/2014 04:48 PM

New Englanders are hardy folk, even southern Nutmeggers here in Connecticut. We pride ourselves in being able to weather whatever Mother Nature throws at us. To paraphrase the familiar motto, neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, can prevent us from the swift completion of our deed, we can always make it to the mall.
I don't know about the "gloom of night" thing - my husband and I doze during final Jeopardy - but from Gloria to Sandy my daughters and I could make it to a store during a deluge for a Snicker's and box of Q-Tips, if need be.
Because the recent weather went from a simple New England winter to that Arctic Vortex thing, my daughter's four walls became a bit confining; new babies have a tendency to stifle outside risk when the wind chill reaches minus-too-damn-cold. So she and I decided to attempt a special kind of foolishness, shopping with a one month old. Actually the shopping wasn't the foolish part, getting to the mall was. But it was a perfect day to stroller a four-week-old up and down the indoor Main Street of the Crystal Mall.
I should have known that making it to the end of our 1,000-foot ice glazed driveway would be a challenge. I should have known that attempting to drive up the incline at the end, in anything other than a Snow Cat, like the one driven by Scatman Crothers in The Shining, might leave us spinning our Goodyears.
We packed my daughter's car. The stroller, which transforms from a baby transporter to a mid-size SUV, filled the trunk. Inside with us, and baby in a car seat, were so many diaper bags and colorful totes filled with baby accoutrements, it looked like a Vera Bradley Trunk Show.
My daughter decided to drive; I sat in back with the baby. I should have told her to build forward momentum at the up-hill end of the driveway and under no circumstances brake, unless of course there was traffic, which was unlikely because we live on a dead end country road. I should have told her that if, because of deer, turkeys or the neighbor's dog, she had to brake, we'd never make the climb. She would have politely told me there was no steering wheel or pedals for a driver in the backseat.
The Zamboni smooth driveway was clear, no traffic on the road, and yet just before we reached asphalt, my ever cautious daughter decided to slow down. Our forward momentum became a perfect slow motion slide backwards. Never in danger, the snow banks acted like bumpers at a bowling alley for preschoolers. We came to a halt half-way down the hill in fits of laughter. As the self-described more accomplished winter driver, I took over the wheel. Within 30 seconds we were against a snowbank going nowhere. I tried several times to back us down and my daughter even offered to push. I figured that was not a good idea for a lactating new mother.
I called my husband who was on his way home. My other son-in-law was with him. The young guy pushed and rocked until the car straightened out. The old guy sat in his truck to keep warm. Once my son-in-law got behind the wheel and achieved forward momentum, the car made it to the top. I stood on the road to stop traffic. There was no traffic. I was useless.
We got to the mall, walked off a little winter and drove back in a downpour. The ride down the slippery slope to home was uneventful. Enough said.
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