Monday, August 16, 2010

Fix-it, fix-it, fix-it . . . .


I've often said that if you spend most of your life on the couch, you don't have to fix anything.  That's cuz you're not doing anything and probably not using anything that will break down from overuse---'cept the TV, that is.  I don't spend a lot of time on the couch, but I have noticed that our downstairs remote could use some fixing.

It's very difficult to push the buttons to get Channel 202.  That would be CNN with our Direct TV service.  Could be the remote for our living room TV was manufactured by a Republican.  

The remote, with  its button-pushing glitch,  doesn't really occupy much of my time. 

It seems like I spend at least 50 percent of my time fixing things and the other 45 percent (throw in 5 percent for leisure)  hurrying through a project in hopes that said item will run long enough to allow me to finish.

Take last night, for example.  I have a Troy Built rototiller.  I think it may have taken up a few sentences in the blog on past occasions. Seems like there was a starter rope saga a few months ago.

It seems that I'm always fixing the tiller and then praying that my repair work will last more than five minutes.  Several times this year I've tinkered with the rototiller (specifically its timing screw) to get it to start up and then to get it to run more than 30 seconds while working up a garden spot.

Last night was the latest of these episodes.  The rototiller has been sitting out by the north garden for a couple of weeks.  The north garden has been basically idle all summer.  That's because it remained under water through July.  Too late to plant anything then, I reasoned.  

So, I just let it go.  That's when all the grass and weeds grew really fast to about three feet high.  And, that's when I knew Mark and Janice were grimacing every time they drove by and saw my unkempt garden spot.  Mark and Janice keep track of my yard, and I keep track of theirs.  

So far, they've won the 2010 South Center Valley Road "Yard Beautiful" competition.  Well, at least they had it in the bag until Mark decided to dig up their driveway and reroute it through a beautiful section of their lawn last week.   Then came the big pile of dirt.  Finally, while driving by one day, I had to stop and ask what the heck was going on.

"Wedding over, so you're doing some landscaping?" I asked Mark who was working on the project.  He explained to me that for 30 years their driveway was a hazard waiting to happen.  Since the exit from their place to the road was located in a the bottom of a small hill, their visibility for what was coming from the north has always been limited.

Hence, the change.  Relocate the driveway at the top of the hill.  Avoid hazards and open up the possibilities for more landscaping.  That means a mess in between, and that means I have a chance to do some catching up in our yearly competition.  

So, I've been working on that north garden lately.  Two different weed eaters have mowed down most of the grass.  And, yes, they both involved maintenance during the process.  Weed eaters run out of string much too fast when they're asked to knock down tall grass and weeds mixed in with woven-wire fence.  

And, when you get the string replenished, the gas tank decides to go empty.  That all creates a lot of work because the north garden is a considerable distance from any of the maintenance items.  

I also took the big riding lawnmower into the garden and mowed a few more weeds.  I was hoping nobody would drive by and see me in there cuz it was putting up a heap of dust, and they might be wondering about the sanity of an old woman out there mowing her garden.

Yesterday, the fix-it syndrome ruled the Lovestead.  First, there was the question of what to do with the broken GMC pick-up sitting in the driveway.  That's a pretty crucial question because we use that pickup to pull the horse trailer, haul hay, haul wood and haul canine fishing buddies on angling adventures.  

It's broken really badly with that wheel completely separated from the ball joint, axle or whatever you want to call all that bent up, sliced-up metal underneath the engine.  So, I asked Bill what he planned to do.

He said he had to go to Les Schwab's to find out just how they'd get it in their shop just to look at it and estimate a cost of fixing it.  That would be step one.  If Bill gets a satisfactory answer, step two would be to call a wrecker man and ask him to haul it to Les Schwab without destroying the rig any more than it already is.

Step Three would be the fix-it process.  And, since one side of the lower frame in the 1989 truck gave way, it's likely the other is waiting to do the same.   So, both sides will get repaired, we hope.

Step Four will be to take out a mortgage to pay for all that.  Which means I need to grow more potatoes, making that north garden all the more important. 

Well, after hearing Bill's plan for the pickup, I thought about the rototiller out there and how I was going to fix it this time to get it to break up some of that dirt out there in the garden.

By this time, however, it was hot.  So, all I could think about was Big Blue, the behind-the-barn swimming pool,  and how Big Blue's top rim keeps losing all its air, going limp and letting water drain out of the pool.

After many searches,  I had never yet found the "hole" letting out all the air.  Last week, I thought it was the valve stem, so I got a big piece of duct tape and covered it up after airing up the rim for about the 30th time this summer.

The next day the rim was limp.

Yesterday I went to Big Blue, determined to find the source,  allowing all that compressor air to just float out into the atmosphere.

Three circular trips around Big Blue---poking, prodding and upsetting the dozen or so tree toads who had taken squatters' rights around the pool top--- finally, I discovered a tiny three-cornered tear in the vinyl.  

"Aha! I said aloud with a feeling of rare triumph.  To the house I marched, grabbing another piece of duct tape.  Finally, the mystery had been solved and the air would remain intact.  

Soon after I "fixed" Big Blue, Willie and Debbie arrived to pick up their dogs.  Well, they stayed for dinner. During that time, nothing broke.  

When they left, the temperature had gone down a bit.  I decided the time was ripe to go tackle that rototiller and work up that dirt.  I took a gas can with me, emptied the tiller tank and filled it with fresh gas.  I turned the rototiller toward the garden, jiggled all the right knobs, and pulled the starter string a couple of times.

Nothing.  So, I pulled a dime from my pocket and readjusted the timing screw.  

On the next pull, the tiller fired up.  

"Get it to the garden as fast as possible," I said to myself.  So, off we ran, the tiller and me into the dirt.  

The only problem bothering me as the tiller started grinding away at the dirt and chopped off weeds was that I hadn't watered the area for a few days.

The clouds of dust wafting from my north garden out to South Center Valley Road could rival a Mt. St. Helens ash plume.  That made me worry even more about people driving by and what they were gonna think---especially if one of those cars had Janice and Mark inside.

Then, I decided, "What the Hell?  This thing's working, and I'm gonna seize the moment.  Who cares what the neighbors think?"

The tiller cooperated,  dying only three or four times in the midst of the wild dust storm.  And, it started up every time.  One time I seized the moment in between tillings to grab a hose and water down the worked-up dirt.

When the tiller died for the last time last night,  I had covered most of the area that needed tilling.  If I can get it to start up again today, maybe I can fine-tune the dirt enough to follow up with the next plan for the garden that remains below water level far too long into the summer.

"Raised beds," Janice suggested to me the other night as I rode by on Lily.  Yup, the Johnsons  have been looking at that mess out north and plotting strategy for me.  So, I think I'll include some raised beds in my five-year north garden plan, and I'll transplant some of the raspberries and the perennials.

In the meantime, with work done for the day and a trip to the bathroom to remove shoes and socks and wash my dust-colored feet, I figured on topping off the night, sitting on the couch, eating some ice cream and watching a little TV.  

Had to go upstairs to do my watching  cuz Bill had the downstairs TV remote.  As I walked through the living room, I noticed that he kept changing channels.  Now that I think about it, maybe he was trying to get Channel 202 and not succeeding cuz that remote needs to be fixing. 

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