Thursday, 19 May 2011

When Did I Move to The Windy City?

Coming home on Wednesday was like walking into a wind tunnel that had suddenly become your permanent home.  To be honest, I would rather have cold weather than 20+ degrees celcius and wind.  Because it's really just a tease.  You wake up in the morning, look out the window and see the gorgeously blue sky and the bright beautiful sunlight - both of which you'd been sure had abandoned you in the dreary winter months - and the excitement in your heart builds.  Then you open the door.  The wind whips around you invading every curve, every line, every part of you.  Blowing out the flame on your BBQ (if you're like me and have a cheapy BBQ, it's not so reliable in the wind), making it impossible for a crappy golfer such as myself to golf crappily, blowing garbage and the last remaining dead leaves into your yard, knocking things down, and banging the fans in the bathroom and kitchen.

So basically I was trapped in my house for six days because - while it was absolutely warm and the sun was wonderful - the wind just made me feel completely crazy.  It also happened to knock out my satellite (at least I assume that was the cause) and I had no tv for days.  Just in time for me to be trapped in my house.

Last summer I somehow managed to break the tension springs on the mulcher door of my lawnmower.  Basically it means that the door where the collector bag goes didn't sit tightly against the bag and grass would blow out over the top of the bag...  It's actually not terribly technical, but I have no idea how to explain it in lament's terms.  Two weeks ago while sucking up dead grass with the mower and ultimately being completely covered in dead grass from head to toe, I decided that I'd had enough of that noise and it needed to be fixed.

I'm somewhat of a DIY'er....  I hate the idea of paying someone for something that I can do perfectly well myself (except for electrical work - I'm likely to electrocute myself and be found days later after failing to show up for work on Wednesday).  I research projects until I know absolutely everything I can and ask for help where I need it and then get to work.  For example, why would I wait for a technician when I'm perfectly capable of picking up an RF cable and climbing up a ladder to attach it to the satellite dish and run it into the house into a new two port wall plate and running two lines into my DVR?  I would not, I took care of it myself (with only a little hiccup, the outdoor cable was not long enough so I had to connect it to a shorter cable and then run it into the house) in only a couple of hours and it worked perfectly.  Until last week.

So when it came to researching how to replace the tension springs, I hit a wall.  Apparently, the manufacturer of my lawnmower keeps the "how-to's" totally top-secret.  I did have access to an owner's manual, which is basically just a pretty picture and a listing of the parts.  Not terribly helpful.  So I e-mailed their technical support and asked for the information to be sent to me.  As for the springs - there is a "Lawnmower Hospital" not far from my house and I called to ask if they carry parts (for the DIY'er such as myself).  They told me to get the serial number and model number of my lawnmower and drop in.  And so, first thing Thursday morning (after grocery shopping), armed with the required information I went in to get the springs.  $14 for two springs - I can't decide if that's expensive or not.

After I got home from some additional shopping (not something I do very often, but I had SO. MUCH. FUN!), I turned on the computer and was VERY happy to find that the manufacturer had e-mailed me back quite promptly with a picture-style step by step set of instructions.  So, I printed the instructions, grabbed my flowery screwdriver, the new springs, and headed outside.

Now, remember, the wind is blowing at about 35 km/hr and gusting up to 70 km/hr.  It was literally impossible to keep everything together and more than once I thought I had lost very key parts of my lawnmower.

Removing the old springs was not terribly hard (since they were broken), but then came the impossible part.  I could NOT get the NEW springs on like in the pictures.  I deemed it impossible and that the manufacturer was pulling my leg until I realised that I needed to remove at least one of the wheel assemblies in order to finish what I'd started.  I dragged out my crescent wrench, but it was completely the wrong tool for the little space I needed to get into and had to beg and borrow from my neighbor a box-end wrench (I learned this terminology after the fact, like I really had any idea what it was called).  After getting one wheel assembly pulled apart and pulling the mulcher door off, the springs when into place just like I'd been showed.  Success.  Then I put the mower back together and assuming that the springs would just pop into place in a notch on the wheel assembly, I closed the mulcher door and squealed my triumph.  Only nothing happened.

I assumed possibly that I'd done something wrong, and would have to start all over again.  So I ripped off the wheel assembly once again and messed around.  I really could NOT see how it was supposed to work.  It just did not make sense.  After messing around for an indeterminate amount of time, I finally gave in and put the mower into the shed - still ripped apart - and went inside.  I once again e-mailed the manufacturer and asked them for their help and began my waiting.  The next morning by 9 am I still had not heard from them, so I called (I tend to be like a dog with a bone when I have a project, planned or incomplete) and ended up talking to the woman who helped me originally.  Who, I'm perfectly sure, thought I was a crazy person.  She told me that I just needed to use a screwdriver and guide the spring into position on the wheel assembly.  I silently scoffed, but agreed to go out and take another look.

The wheel assembly back on, the mulcher door closed, I could finally see how to get the spring into place. 

Just a tip from me to you - wear safety glasses.  People will laugh at you and think you look stupid, but I came very close to stabbing myself in the eyeball while guiding that stupid spring into the notch that was it's home.  Like 1/2 an inch close.  The screwdriver knocked me across the nose and I could feel the blade on my cheek just under my eye.  So from now on.  Safety glasses.  I could care less about how dorky I look wearing them - bet you a dollar I would look much worse minus an eye.

I will admit, I did a little happy dance and announced "I DID IT!" to the neighborhood.  They didn't mind, they were all at work.  I blame my ineffectiveness in completing my one project for the week on the wind.  It was distracting and exhausting, so not being able to finish the project on the same day as it was started is clearly not my fault.  And for the rest of that day, I wandered around the house with a completely smug and superior attitude.  I won't deny it.

On Saturday, my sweet baby niece came for a visit for a couple of hours while her Mom was getting her hair done before they headed to Calgary.  Baby could not be more adorable if she tried.  Seriously.  I was absolutely thrilled when her Mom took her out of the truck and she came right to me for hugs and kisses.  She is a baby of few words, but she does manage to get her point across!  She loved on my weather station big time, pushing all the buttons and checking out the screen.  We went outside on to the deck and somehow wound up walking down the sidewalk in our stocking feet and ruining our socks with those sticky tree pods that litter the sidewalks.  My only wish is that I can spend more time with her.

Sunday and Monday the wind continued to howl and I hid out away from it - mostly to maintain my sanity.

When Tuesday arrived - still windy, but gorgeous, and not as bad as days previous - I cleaned the house and went out to mow the lawn and admire the fantastic work of my repairs.  It totally worked.  The lawn had been very dry for a number of days and the wind had dried it out even more.  It needed a drink in the worst way, and even though the sprinkler wasn't very effective, I watered anyway.  And the spoils of my brief afternoon outside?  A huge mosquitoe bite in the center of my forehead (YES, I was wearing bug spray - practically dripped with it - mosquitoes just assume I'm their personal buffet), and the tiniest bit of a tan.  I can see the lines on my feet from my sandals.

And then Wednesday morning, got up, went outside, and the air was still and calm and warm.  The perfect morning.  Of course - since I had to go back to work - of course it was wonderful that morning.  Geez.

My fingers are crossed that the weather, wind, and everything else co-operates somewhat so that I can spend my days off outside lounging on the deck and drinking cold iced tea.  That is the only thing that will make up for not being able to do any cooking - it's been far too hot in my house to even think about turning on the oven.  No cooking - no outside, it doesn't feel very fair.  I was bored stiff.

For now - this is the Cane Girl, signing off.

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