The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Fun Just Keeps on Coming

The sun came out today, for real. It was round and yellow and really quite nice, if unfamiliar. And since it made the grass closer to dry than it's been in about 6 months, well, it made sense to take the moment and mow the lawn. I feel certain that any number of sad stories have started in much this same fashion.

I started by dragging out the walk-behind mower to the edges and other areas that are reluctant to surrender themselves to the riding mower; Mr. K took the rider on a quick tour around the yard to see that it was working okay. The birds were singing, the squirrels were capering (whatever capering might be...I'm pretty sure they were doing it, though) and all was right with the world. Which is code, of course, for "please break all hell loose approximately here."

As I returned to the back yard to put away the mower I was using, I came across Mr. K and the rider, its hood open and shamelessly exposing its inner workings. Naturally, I asked Mr. K what the problem might be. There are times in life when words are inadequate to the task of describing a thing; apparently this was such a time because he responded by turning on the motor. What ensued looked more than anything like one of those fancy fountains you see at really pricey wedding receptions....only with oil instead of champagne, spurting from the crankcase instead of champagne glasses. And it was squirting upward with a bit more vigor. It was impressive.

Now, I will admit that I am not particularly mechanically inclined, in much the way that a barbecue is not particularly a space shuttle...but it seemed to me that this could not be a good thing. Mr. K confirmed that for me. Oil fountains = not good (unless you're at a wedding reception for a pair of really dedicated mechanics. Then they're okay.)

Because he is a wonderful man, Mr. K messed around with the thing for a time, first discarding the oil soaked air filter that was now working as a means of causing the engine to stop running ("don't worry--it operates FINE without an air filter!"), and then adding oil (which, frankly, it seemed to have lots of, enough to throw around anyway). He did not swear, which I think proves once and for all that he is a better person than I. Or less creatively profane. One of those.

Because I was helpless in the face of all this mechanical-ness and because I used to be a preschool teacher and old habits die hard, I tried to offer encouragement: "Look, Honey! It's not spitting any oil at all now! Good job!" To which he replied calmly "Yes, it's working fine now. Until it gets warm and blows up which is what happened to my last riding mower when I loaned it to a friend." Ah. Okay. So....perhaps all is not resolved.

Even so, he tinkered around a bit more and then suggested that all was probably okay and I could go ahead and mow the lawn with it. He then uttered the comment that I think really helps to illustrate the difference between men and women: "But, you know. If it starts smoking, you probably want to get off." I don't mean to be sexist or anything...but I don't know any women who would encourage a loved one to get on something that might blow up, with the cheery proviso that they should think about getting off if it begins billowing smoke. I don't believe I have any male readers but, if I do and you feel maligned, please speak up. If nothing else, enlighten me as to how this reasoning works. It's the explosion thing, isn't it? You guys think its cool when shit explodes, don't you? And a ringside seat, well. Who wouldn't want that?

All that said, we can take votes now on which of the Knitingales is more nuts--because I actually DID take the riding mower and mow the lawn (after we restored the drive belt which had apparently deserted its post there in the oily bowels of what I can only think of now as the Exxon Valdez of lawn mowers). This was due less to my belief that all would be well, and more to the fact that my alternative was to mow two acres of property with a walk-behind mower that refuses to run at all unless I cajole it with the offering of my shoulder in a selfless act of dislocation, and which also chokes and gags like a 4-year-old with a mouth full of spinach if asked to cut a single blade of grass that's half a frogs hair longer than that on a putting green. It's a delicate flower, this lawn mower. Mr. K suggested that I set the delicate flower up a bit so that it's not forced to mow such long grass; the result of this was a lawn full of grass that appeared to have been gently blown on. Shorter, not so much.

Since I'm writing this, you can safely assume that the Exxon Valdez and I did not, in fact, blow up, due no doubt to the fact that I drove it around the yard at high speed (I figured I'd go faster so I could get done before it blew up....I know. It's a miracle I passed ANY of my classes) with white knuckles and one eye permanently fixed on the front watching for smoke. In truth, it did release a few puffs of white smoke here and there, leading me to believe that the imps that make machines work are, in fact, devout Catholics and were holding papal votes in there while I worked. If this is the case, they managed to select about 6 tiny popes while I mowed, which impressive bit of multi-tasking leads me to believe that this may actually be a superior sort of lawn mower, in spite of its apparent goal to spew oil all over the yard like a motorized Vesuvius.
Once I'd finished, I decided to recover from all this oiliness and worry by working on a new sock (big surprise), this one a Lucy Neatby pattern called a Mermaid Sock worked in Lorna's Laces. I guess the real surprise is that I actually like my first attempt at matching yarn and pattern....I wonder if I inhaled too many lawn mower fumes...? Anyway, this is the sock so far:

If you haven't seen the pattern, those spirals are intentional and will wind all the way around the sock, all the way down. It would be farther along but for the fact that I screwed it up and had to start over....another not surprise, truth be told. In my defense, it requires putting a multiple of six stitches on four needles with each needle holding a multiple of six, and it further requires finding some clever way to keep track of the beginnings of the rows because as it spirals, the marker will spiral with and lose your place for you quite handily. Believing myself to be brilliant (mechanical prowess notwithstanding), I resolved both issues by putting 18 stitches on each of three needles and 12 on the fourth so that I always know I've finished a round when I've worked the needle with 12 stitches. No doubt those of you who've made this have long since figured it out...but allow me my moment, 'kay? The lawn mower spit at me...I deserve sympathy.

I'll close today with Miss's thoughts on what a peson with a lap should be doing as opposed to knitting...I do love this cat.


  • At 8:01 PM, Blogger Peg-woolinmysoup said…

    Ms. K, Ms. K, you are just so darned funny. I know what you mean about driving faster to get done before the explosion - when the gas gauze is getting close to "E" - I drive faster too!
    Bet the lawn looks great and did Mr. K. stand by and watch or hide in the bowels of the shop?

  • At 10:08 PM, Anonymous MonicaPDX said…

    Awwwww, lookit Miss... She's looking so happy, in an inscrutable sort of way. ;)

    As to guys and explosions and loved ones in close vicinity: Guys are the ones that came up with the idea of a racing lawnmower. That can go 50 mph or so. Tim Taylor syndrome, but he just popularized it. I suppose you could take it that Mr. K has confidence in your reflexes and speed in dangerous situations... Right?

    And while I missed commenting yesterday (I think I was exhausted by the driving thing, when I finally shut up) - rhubarb? Nnnnghghghhhh. Far as I'm concerned, the only thing those suckers are good for would be stewing up the leaves if you wanted to poison someone. Although I do confess, zucchini bread is one of the few ways I'll eat veggies. ;)

  • At 11:44 PM, Anonymous angie Cox said…

    I'd clean the oil off you Florence ( does that sound weird..hope not!) but not your whole yard. I am so glad you didn't explode , that's a bit of an understatement. A few sheep seem safer as a grass option maybe with an added bonus !

  • At 6:45 AM, Blogger Ms. Knitingale said…

    Peg, Mr. K retreated to the comparative safety of the home office, with the comment that he had "important stuff to take care of". I notice that the "important stuff" was out of explosion range.....

  • At 6:58 AM, Blogger ccr in MA said…

    Pan is with Miss on the lap thing. Last night he was not pleased to find that being on the lap put him within needle range, leading to the occasional bonk on the head (I tried not to, but I was wrestling with the hat from the top down, and the needles just aren't cooperating for some reason). Then when I did put the knitting down to do kitty worship, his tail knocked it on the floor, scaring him so much he had to jump off the lap to recover.

    It was not a good night for him.

  • At 7:26 AM, Blogger Kitty Mommy said…

    They selected six tiny popes in the Exxon Valdez lawnmower?? Okay, I am ROFLMAO over that one!

    Another pair of gorgeous socks in the works...definite stash envy going on!

  • At 8:38 AM, Blogger Marianne said…

    I'm thinking I would've looked at the mower and Mr.K and the yard of tall grass, tell him good luck with it and have my own 'important things I must get done' and hightailed it outta there! I mean, wtf? I thought guys 'liked' to do that riding lawnmower thing.
    Miss, how sweet looking are you!
    I am having heart yearning palpitations over that new sock.


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