You read the title and say to yourself, “Huh?” It’s okay. Great ideas are often confusing at first. But since this is a story and I’m a storyteller, I’ll fill you in on how I came to one of the most liberating decisions I have ever made.

A couple of weeks ago I discussed how Bride and I bought our first house. ( Well, my friends, that place was a great little house that the previous owners had somehow turned into a craptastic money pit. Without exaggeration, telling you stories of projects I completed in that house will keep me working for DWH for years. And as you can probably guess, the relatively small structure sat on about ¼ acre of land. There was a huge ditch along the street and knobby tree roots and several colonies of chemical-resistant mutant warrior fire ants. Add to that the fact that the 70 lb. dog takes about three giant dumps a day and you can see what a pleasure it was to work in the yard.

Now, I realize I’m sounding plenty negative, and I am, but it was not always this way. As a new homeowner, I was proud to take care of the yard. I even enjoyed it rather much. It was time to myself, time to listen to music and get the blood flowing and get a bit of a sense of accomplishment with a job well done. I had nice equipment and the power drive on the mower even made pretty short work of the ditch from Hell. I kept the dog crap picked up anyway, so it was just a simple matter of making a sweep before running the mower and all was well.

Then two things happened.

The first was that Bride got into gardening and flowers and stuff. That wasn’t so bad in and of itself, except that it was the nice, clean, recently mowed and crap-removed yard she liked to play in. This is when she needed help carrying bags of dirt or mulch or digging holes or some such thing. All of this was also after I had recently cleaned up, weed whacked, and mowed a quarter acre in Houston summer. I would be standing there catching heatstroke and finding out that all that other stuff was just jacks to open for a day of working in the yard. It began to be less satisfying and more of a chore. 

The second was when the little plastic gear piece on the mower’s power drive broke. And the bastards wanted $150 for the part to fix it. The mower itself only cost $250 and a little plastic gear costs that much? Bullshit!

So, through a mixture of anger and just good old fashioned dumb white husband stubbornness, I pushed that sumbitch around for a couple of months. The problem with using a mower designed for power drive is that its wheels don’t want to roll unless the drive is engaged. Meaning that it actively resists you when you’re trying to be a stubborn old fart. That does not make for a pleasant yard maintenance experience.

So, I finally found myself at Sears buying the basest of the base model mowers I could find. No bells, no whistles, and no power drives. You remember that scene in Spaceballs when Lone Star and Barf are carrying the princess’s matched luggage through the desert and they ditch the giant hair dryer and afterward are so much happier, even though they’re still carrying the princess’s matched luggage through the desert? That’s what this was like. It was still 110 degrees outside, and the fire ants now had lasers, and the dog took to dropping stealth turds, and the ditch somehow got deeper, but it was all okay because the new mower was so light and easy to use. That feeling didn’t last long, though.

Then we moved into the current Castle Scarydad. The yard here is about half the size of the other one with no ditch, no knobby roots, and no fire ants. It even has a giant oak tree to shade half the yard while I mowed. I think I might have been happy again with my headphones and my time alone to reflect and enjoy the physical activity, except we moved here in July of one of the hottest summers on record.

The first time I mowed our new yard I was so miserable that I almost quit. When I was done and rolling the mower back around to the garage, I saw one of the most beautiful sights I’d ever seen. Across the street, a crew was making short work of the neighbor’s yard.

It was magnificent! One guy was mowing while another edged and a third ran a blower. Three other guys were doing the same thing in the backyard. Entranced, I waved one of them down and asked what he would charge to do my yard. He came over and walked around for a few minutes before quoting me a price. Hands shook and now every other Saturday I spend the best money I have ever spent on anything.

I still have the base model mower from Sears and I’ve been debating whether or not to keep it. On the one hand, a mower is a good thing to have on hand in case the yard guys quit or money gets tight. On the other hand, my brother-in-law pulled some kickass go-cart plans off the net and all we need is a lawnmower engine.

I think I’ve just made yet another great decision.
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