Monday, April 26, 2010


Sometimes plans just don’t go the way you anticipate. My experience is that occurs quite frequently. Take this weekend for instance. I knew that my time to ride would be limited what with all of the normal non-riding chores that need to be done. Normally, we have 3 homes/yards to look after and this is the grass growing time of the year so mowing is a pretty frequent event in my life.

With the knowledge that my time really needed to adhere to a schedule this weekend in order to have any hopes of riding, I got started early on Friday. As I had all of the power equipment at my house, it seemed to make sense to start there. I managed to get the smaller portion of the yard mowed quickly and without incident with the walk behind John Deere and I was progressing nicely on my schedule. I was on target to finish our yard work by early afternoon.

John_Deere_JX75_crop(John Deere  JX75 ) 

…and then things went awry. When it came time to mow the larger area, I mounted my garden tractor with the 52” cut and cranked it over… and over… and over. Nothing, Nada, Zip – wouldn’t start. So, the repair cycle started. Unfortunately, all of my tried and true methods would not work nor would the mystical tapping of the float bowl to which I finally resorted in desperation. Prayers and the swishing of wispy bird feathers over the tractor had no impact. After an hour, I gave up, reloaded the power tools, and headed for my local lawn maintenance shop (LLMS), which is similar in function to my local bike ship (LBS) but 100% of the time way more expensive and much slower in getting equipment back to me due to their backlog of work.

After arrival at the LLMS and after they made some much appreciated efforts to crank the tractor, it was finally announced by the HMiC (Head Man in Charge) of service that, “yep, something’s wrong. We’re gonna have to keep her. We may have to do some compression tests and maybe get into the engine.” Were I a cartoon, at this point any halfway observant individual looking at me would have seen $$$$ signs floating above my head.

So, we unload the tractor from the trailer, wheel it off to the side where it gets to sit in line for a week or so awaiting repair, and I start loading up my remaining power equipment consisting of the aforementioned John Deere JX75 walk behind mower and other tools of the trade.

…and things went slightly further awry. I just happened to notice, when loading the walk behind, that a part had fallen off while in transit to the shop. So… back into the LLMS I go but, this time I get to stop at the parts department instead of the service department. $20.00 later, I’m on my way to my next appointed round… err yard. I’m only 2.5 hours behind my schedule now but it is still salvageable and I’m still clinging to hope of getting in a ride late in the day but before some planned evening events start.

I make it 75% of the way through the next yard when… yep, you guessed it…

…things went significantly more awry. The mower picked up a stick, a walnut, or some other foreign object and shredded the drive belt of my one remaining mower. Ahh! I was so close! So, I load up again and make my second trip of the day to my LLMS carrying the remains of the now shredded drive belt. It was approaching closing time and I knew I needed to get the belt purchased to save time on Saturday. All hopes of riding on Friday were now gone. Fortunately, I made it back to the LLMS just prior to closing and was able to purchase the belt, a simple looking thing I might add.

Friday night’s plan included shopping for a new refrigerator to take advantage of some significant savings in purchase that only applied for a 3 day period in N.C. and only while a state-wide fund of $9 million lasted. By the time, we got to the store, the fund was already down to $4 mil… We made our purchase and was told that it would be about 10 days before it could be delivered. That was o.k. with us because we were really after the savings on the new energy efficient appliance and our old one, while making some interesting noises on occasion, still worked.

Saturday arrived with the hope of a new day and a new schedule. My “best half” and I have company coming next weekend and we needed to “spruce up” the place some. I had some hopes, though not many, of getting in a mid-day ride because the weather forecast was for heavy rain with thunder storms late in the afternoon.

Still, I had to get the mower belt on and finish up my remaining yard before I could pursue riding. (Yes, I too am beginning to question my priorities at this point.) So, with new belt in hand and fully anticipating a 10 minute repair job, I pull the mower off the trailer and start to install the belt. But, hey wait a minute, what’s up with this?

…and things went awry – again!. After an hour (30 minutes of which included trying to find the mower manual), of trying to install the belt, I loaded up and headed back – say it with me now – to my LLMS. I get there just before closing time and make my way to the service department. Hopefully, I didn’t really hear a trail of laughter behind me as I entered the store for the 3rd time this weekend. I was quickly informed “yep, ya gotta pull the whole engine on that model to install the drive belt.” Off the trailer we go, into the line for maintenance with a hopeful indicator of getting it back in 2.5 weeks…

Back home I go, only to arrive and be greeted by the delivery of our new refrigerator. So, everything stops in order to empty the old refrigerator and install the new one. Say “buh bye” planned schedule. No riding on Saturday. As a point of interest, the heavy rains did arrive late afternoon and continued into early Sunday morning.

Final connections to the new refrigerator for ice making and water needed to be done on Sunday so a new schedule was devised over morning coffee. Yes, the new schedule included riding. This effort led to the direct formulation of something I’ve known for awhile and others have probably stated better than I will. Here goes…

Zeke’s Axioms for the use of tools:

1) Axion 1: The tool you need is NEVER in the place it is supposed to be which results in wasted time trying to find it.

2) Axiom 2: Upon finding the missing tool, it doesn’t work or some piece of equipment needed to make it work is missing (see Axiom 1) or it too is broken.

Soooooo, after a trip to my LHS (local hardware store) to get the needed items, I finally made the proper connections to the refrigerator and had accomplished most of my work related chores for the weekend. This merely required drilling through the floor, pulling down part of the basement ceiling, locating the tap on the water line and doing my best not to break it off thus flooding the basement or, at least, requiring that the water be cut off.

Late Sunday afternoon had arrived and I was pooped, popped, and tuckered out. The thought of riding had left me as I couldn’t muster the energy to get dressed knowing that I would be in mortal combat with Headwind Harry if I tried to ride. While the day was beautiful, HH was clearly out and about. I had experienced his strength as I rode my Harley to and from lunch and to the LHS. Harry had pushed me around quite significantly on my brief trips to the store.

At this point, I determined that my current position in a chair in the sun on my deck was about as excited as I needed to get the rest of the day. Now, it’s Monday morning and I’m waiting, just waiting -

… for something to go awry.

Until later,

- Zeke

(P.S. For an interesting look at shifting gears in yesteryear, check out Dave’s post today on Dave Moulton’s Blog. Watch the video and then click on the link to see how the video camera was mounted. Ingenuity at work!)


Michael said...

While days going lost seem to be a frequent occurrence, it thankfully is rare that a whole three days will go missing

Unknown said...

Amen to that! :)


Michele said...

40+ hour work weeks force people to do things they really don't want to scheduled time for household chores over a three day period that take priority of the more important things in life. So when things go awry, you throw in the towel, smile, yell "amen" and go put your butt on that bike seat. (and with that said I throw down the dishtowel, grab my helmet and head out the door). Life is way too short...................

Jim Artis said...

Hi Zeke,

Sorry so many things went awry. I trust you got a ride in and you have things under control. Either way, I'm sure your guest will understand. I'd bet he'd just be happy with a change of scenery and the change to talk to such a fine fellow and his better half. I love the story, as usual. Thanks for the chuckles. --jim

Unknown said...


Nope no ride as yet. Weather has gone south! Looking for freezing weather tonight. Currently getting to experience cold rain. I'm taking Michele's advice above. I just had a cancellation for a 4:30 p.m. appointment tomorrow and I'M NOT GONNA FILL IT SO I CAN RIDE! :)

I don't want my guest ( coming up here and finding me on "old legs". :)

(Michele, I replied to your kind post but it got lost in cyberspace!)

- Zeke

Jim Artis said...

Hey, don't worry about legs. Your guest has really old legs. think you will marry up quite well. BTW. no riding down-east either--computer stuff...

Thanks Guy!