I have married friends who tell me sometimes how easy my life is, you know, being single and all. They’re probably right most of the time. My fur baby is happy with his daily scoop of catfood, a string or a stick to play with, and fresh litter for his box. Yep, I guess I’ve got it pretty nice.
Except for those times when I have no idea what I’m doing, which as a single, female, mechanically challenged homeowner is frequently. I’m not at all handy so when it comes to things going wrong in the house, I’m either duct taping it, living with it, or paying to have it fixed when it finally gets on my last nerve.
Right now I have tons of dry wall patches in the bathroom from having some cracks repaired. Oh, and that patch in the hallway where the plumber had to cut a massive hole in the wall to change out the leaking bathtub faucet (I decided after letting it drip for a year, I should really do something about it.) But painting isn’t difficult; I just need to do it–which is the thing about being single. Everything falls on my shoulders.
But the one thing that continues to whoop my tail, even after almost 9 years of home ownership, is the lawnmower. It remains my number one nemesis.
Now, I’m a fairly stubborn (maybe prideful?) gal and hate asking for help. So when I bought a house, I told myself I was not going to rely on others to help me take care of it. I was going to learn to do the things I need to do to maintain a house on my own. I decided to start with tackling lawnmower maintenance. I had my new mower blade and a new air filter, and I got up bright and early one Saturday morning, sure that I could change the mower blade, the oil, and the air filter, AND have the lawn mowed by noon.
Well…After an hour of trying to get the old blade off with a pair of plier things I found in the garage, I wound up with several bloody knuckles and the mower blade no where closer to being off. So I gave in and called my big brother (love him!) who came over and loosened the blade for me. Unfortunately, the new blade I had so confidently purchased was too big. So off for trip #1 to Home Depot for a new blade.
I returned home, screwed the new blade in place, feeling immensely proud of myself. Unfortunately, I then discovered that in the tools my brother left for me, there was not the right size wrench to undo the oil thingy (you know, so I can dump out the old oil). So off for trip #2 to Home Depot. The salesman tells me I need a socket type wrench. I tried to tell him I don’t think that will work since the nut I needed to loosen was in a groove on the deck of the mower. He was insistent, though, and since I had no idea what in the heck I was doing, I trusted him. Only to find that, indeed, I was right, and the socket would not fit into the groove to loosen the bolt.
Trip #3 to Home Depot. My blood pressure was rising. I’d been hours already trying to get that stupid machine taken care of. I avoided all sales people, found the wrenches, but wasn’t sure if I needed metric or standard size wrenches. Promising that this would be my last trip to Home Depot that day, I picked them both up.
Thankfully, I found the wrench that fit the nut, loosened and removed it, only to have dark, dirty oil flood the garage floor. I was beyond frustrated, but bound and determined to get the job done, I cleaned up the mess, and proceeded to replace the oil.
Changing the oil filter was a piece of cake compared to everything else and finally at 12:00, I was ready to mow the grass. I took the mower outside, yanked the starter cord a few times, but nothing happened. Haha, gas! I hadn’t filled up the gas tank. Unfortunately, the stupid thing still wouldn’t start.
I was just plain mad now. I marched inside, slamming doors, throwing shoes, and yelling at the walls, since I’m single and there’s no one else to yell at, you know. My poor cat was cowering under furniture. I decided breakfast and a nap were in order, and an hour later, inspired by the sound of my neighbor’s lawnmower, I decided to try again.
This time the mower started, but it sounded like it was chewing rocks. One pass down and back, and I found the mower blade laying in the grass. Sigh. I screwed the blade back on, torking it with all my might, and at long last, the yard was successfully mowed.
Years later, I can look at my first lawnmower maintenance experience and laugh, but still that machine bites me. This year, I completed all the maintenance activities in about 20 minutes. I had to get a little MacGyver like to hold the mower up so I could change the blade, but it worked!
As usual, the mower wouldn’t start right off. I yanked the starter cord hard, and suddenly that thing recoiled so hard, snapping me in the jaw, bouncing off my chest, and landing with a snap against the mower deck…while I heard the unmistakeable clatter of the blade hitting the driveway. Oy! Not again! But yes, I had put the blade on upside down. Way to go, girl.
So being single is sometimes hard in ways people don’t see or understand. It can be frustrating to get things done when you’re just not skilled in doing some kinds of tasks. But on the other hand, there is a strange sense of satisfaction in conquering something as mundane as lawnmower maintenance. I only hope one day, I can do it on my first try without walking away in a limp, bruised, or bloody.
What do you do when things break in your house?