Friday, September 23, 2011

Mow Yard, Mow Problems

Life -  
The only flat part of our previous yard can be seen past the sleeping dog.
 We got a new yard with our new town, a lot flatter than our last yard, but bigger and presenting more challenges in a lot of ways. Our old place was technically about the same size of property, but it was filled with bushes, trees, garages and sheds and whole swathes of land that didn't need to be mowed. The large bulk of what did need cut was pretty hilly and often boggy, but it was doable. A pretty good workout, in fact.

For some reason though, when we got the new place, I figured it would be about the same amount of work. Sure, the grass percentage was higher, but the whole yard was flat and even, with just a few hills. Nothing compared to the grade on the last yard. It was a little long too, the previous owners hadn't cut it for a few weeks at least, maybe a month or two.

I tried, I really did but man... Even once I'd cut down that initial overgrowth, found all of the hidden rocks, boulders, pipes, steel rods and mailboxes (Really) that were lurking in the grass, I still couldn't keep everything up to date. Between my extended work hours and the large field, By the time I moseyed around to the other half of the lawn a week had gone by and the previous half would need it again too.

So I did what I had wanted to avoid - I bought a ride-on mower. I'd never used one before - my aunt used to hand mow her massive back yard back in Idaho and to me, the men and women cruising around on their little lawn tractors always looked so ludicrous. But the owners of the land we're on are obsessed about the yard looking good (To the point that we refer to them as Lawnlords) and I couldn't hack it with my push mower.

After a while, I finally found a model at Lowes, a refurbished model (That had never really been used. The previous owner bought it, used it once and decided they needed a heftier model) for about $800. It's nothing fancy, no bagging system or trailer hitch, or snow plow attachment or lumbar pillow or sun canopy, though it does have headlights (Which seem useless) and a shallow cupholder that launched my water bottle under the blades the first bump I hit. But it does the job handily.

I still have to avoid a few obstacles - there's a couple of rocks sticking up from the grass and a half pipe drain that juts into the yard but aside from that and some slightly steeper slopes, I can mow the entire yard in a hour or so and get a nice, even cut.
Our new yard, including our former canopy/modern art sculpture
I feel like an idiot on it, truth be told, and I'm not a very good driver, but I'm blown away by how effective and fast it is. The real major drawback of buying a refurbished model, especially when you've never driven one before, or anything remotely like it, for that matter, is that it didn't come with a manual. My wife got quite a kick out of watching me lurch my way around those first meandering circles!

I still have a few bugs to work out - mostly involving working out a pattern around the copious rocks and obstacles that don't appear to exist until you've hit them with the wheels or blade, but this was a smart purchase. 9 hours of saved time is well worth the difference of cost and loss of dignity. And I never had much of either of those anyway.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Maze Of Death!

Life -  
 I've been pretty offline lately. My work has been... complicated and has taken up a lot more of my life than usual and by the time I get home, I scarcely have the energy to make dinner and read a book for a bit.

But today was a day off with my wife and we made a go at it. We got up early and ate breakfast. We relaxed for a bit (Played with the dog, read, fell asleep in the chair...) before deciding to head down the road a bit and explore a local attraction. We'd stopped in at The Treworgy Farm before, mostly to get some ice cream, but they had other attractions, including you-pick pumpkins and apples, a petting zoo, apple cider and a corn maze!

This was the tenth year the farm had done a corn maze, each year a different design, with little stations within for you to find. This year, the maze is shaped like a horse and all of the questions were horse themed. Not that you get the feeling of horse-i-ness when you're in the maze. All form kind of vanishes and you're surrounded by thick, gently rustling stalks of corn.

I loved it. It was gloomy and threatening rain, on a Thursday afternoon after school started, so though we heard a few other visitors, we never saw a single soul in the maze. We wandered for around an hour, using the map every once in a while, but mostly getting lost in the rows. It also made me want to read the Pine Deep Trilogy of books by Jonathan Maberry, which I think I'll have to do this Autumn at some point.

Afterwards, we looked over the large selection of pumpkins, picked a half peck of apples for a few dollars (Macintosh and Cortlands mostly, though we got a couple of Delicious apples too, to see if fresh grown ones are as horrible as store bought ones - they are.) You also got a free soft serve cone with the maze tickets, so we got them in the gift shoppe, where we also picked up a jar of homemade and utterly delicious dill pickles.

I cooked up some Enchiladas Verde for a late lunch and spent the rest of the evening out in my Fortress Of Smallitude, writing a bit, sculpting a smidge and generally wishing I never had to work for someone else again.

All in all, a decent day off.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

This is not a real post.

Life -  
Man.. I need a vacation.

 Things are getting better here in the ROUS household, but we are still struggling to catch up and get some sort of rythym in our lives. To that end, we've finally started organizing our house from the move, I broke down and got a ride-on lawn mower (more on that in a different post) we survived a hurricane and I started cooking Mexican food.

Sadly, I have no time to really discuss any of these awesome events, I have a book to edit, but I'll get to it soon... I promise!