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Finally broke down yesterday and bought a new lawn mower.  I've resisted this "investment" for some time, choosing instead (and perhaps unwisely) to keep our old one going with every-two-years visits to the hardware store for the fabled spring tuneup.  These procedures allegedly changed the engine oil, sharpened the blades and did a general cleanup of our old mower.

We bought the old item at Sears when we bought our house sixteen years ago this month.  Paid way more than I ever thought sane at the time...for a lawn mower, of all things.  But it served us well, until this and that stopped working as intended, and the bagger has a couple of little holes, and the cable attached to the safety catch on the handle was stretched, causing the mower to kind of lurch up and down the power spectrum.

So my wife and I visited Sears a couple of evenings ago, and looked at their mowers.  Three-fourths of the push mowers are now self-propelled, don't you know, but I have a relatively small yard, and, having used our son's self-propelled model to mow his pasture, I'm just not that comfortable with something that drives itself to any extent.

That reduced our selection down to about eight mowers, and despite apparent improvements in the technology, I just couldn't bring myself to buy an electric mower, whether corded or rechargeable, so that reduced our selection down to about five possibilities.  When I was a kid we had a neighbor who had one.  Strange sounding, quit all the time, didn't cut the yard well, so that was a no go.

So was a manual mower.  Yes, just like "Leave it to Beaver," you can still buy a manual reel-type mower.  Never used one, not planning to start now, regardless of how small the yard is.

So we looked at the five players, threw out a couple that didn't mulch the grass (way better than bagging or side discharge) and settled on one with a big engine that allegedly starts without priming or choking.  Bought it last night.

The clerk told me that I'd need to buy oil, which I did, but the mower came with the required amount, so that will go back to Sears at some point.  Anyway, when I unboxed the thing it actually took me about twenty minutes to assemble and position the handle, of all things.  The rest of the mower was already assembled, thank God.

So, handle in place, added the included bottle of motor oil, gassed it up, and, wouldn't you know, it started on the first pull.  Impressive.  Smooth, powerful, far less noisy than the old mower (more on old Bessie below).  Mowed the front under the watchful eye of my wife, who approved heartily of the finished product.

Then I went to mow the back yard.....and the mower wouldn't fit through our gate.  I tried several different approaches, but the new model is just a tad wider than the old one.  So I did what any right-thinking American male would do....I removed the gate, temporarily, and mowed the back yard.  We discussed the gate, which is cedar and in poor condition anyway, and we'll replace it with something that will allow the new machine through the passageway.

Before I mowed the back, I pulled our old mower out, rolled it to the curb and used the leafblower to remove the clippings from the driveway and sidewalk.  When I returned to the front of the house to put the new mower away, a cable TV company van stopped in front of the house.  I think I've mentioned here before that we are the lucky folks who have the neighborhood cable junction in our backyard, so the cable company visits periodically to reconnect something or other.

Anyway, the driver gets out, and I say to him something silly about having cut another neighbor's cable while mowing, and he laughed, but then asked if this was my lawn mower (the old one).  I said it was, and he asked if I was getting rid of it.  I explained that I was, and that I was just about to put a "free" sign on it.  Does it run, he asked, and I assured him that it did, but not that great.  Turns out he tinkers with small engines as a hobby and was happy to take it off my hands.  Problem solved.

Except the gate, of course.  Have to think of something for that little issue.  For now, it's hanging by two bolts, so I can remove it in a minute's time.  Just don't want to have to.

So if you drive by my house sometime soon and hear some strange noises, that'll be me, trying to fix or replaced that damned gate.


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