This summer, I decided to buy a lawn mower. I have 1/4 acre of lawn and large, very large elm and ash trees. It costs a minimum of $160.00 per month to have a lawn service mow the lawn. That is just the mowing. To water the lawn costs a minimum of $160.00 per month. That is just the water on the lawn and the trees. So I figured if I got a lawn mower and mowed it myself, I could pay for the water to keep it green.
I also reasoned that if I walked behind the mower all summer, I would not have to walk on the treadmill and I would get the exercise I wanted and needed. Less time spent for the same result.
Problem 1: The mower was large and I was way out of shape. Pushing that big machine across my thick grass and around the tree trunks required a lot of pushing. One neighbor stopped by to tell me that I should not be mowing the lawn myself. Her son would be glad to do it for $95.00 per month. And she left a phone number for me to call.
A second neighbor watched me push and push and push, day-after-day. Finally, he offered to mow the lawn for free. In passing, he said, “Where is the belt that turns the wheels?” “The belt?” I responded. “I don’t think it has a belt.” He turned the mower on its side and looked for a belt. Nada. Nit. Nil. None. “It has to have some way to turn those wheels,” he said as he examined the mower closely. And he found a yellow lever–that turned the wheels! Seems the machine was self-propelled! Duh!
Problem 2: After 6 weeks, the mower stopped. I checked the gas level. I checked the oil. I discovered that a wire connecting to the key was severed. I cleaned the machine. I lubricated the blade. And I re-read the manual which began every paragraph with CAUTION! WARNING! ALERT! (You know the old advice, when all else fails, read the directions.) Nothing I did helped.
So I called my son, Richard. Most farmers are self-taught mechanics. And he stopped by on his way home for lunch. He checked everything and read the manual. He repaired the broken wire and I can start the machine with the key.
Together we decided that it had to be the spark-plug. My 1999 GMC truck has its original spark-plugs! Why would only 6 weeks of mowing use up a spark-plug?
Richard showed me how to remove the plug–and it was carbon-black!
Off I went to Car Quest for new spark-plugs. And the first thing the clerk said to me was, “This is a filtered plug. Do you have a radio attached to your mower?” “Why would I attach a radio to my mower?” “Filtered spark-plugs are used so they do not interfere with a radio or other electronic device. They don’t last as long. And I don’t recommend that you use them.”
The factory installed a filtered spark-plug. So I bought three, new, regular plugs. When I installed the new plug, the mower took off like lightning!
Now I buzz around my 1/4 acre in two sessions instead of six.
My lawn mower and your genealogy:
Newly-toned muscles. Stronger arms and legs with longer, firmer muscles . Able to take a deep breath with a single effort. I am a Lean, Mean, Genealogy Machine!
My neighbors still stop by with offers to help with my massive lawn. I just smile and keep mowing. I can even manage the collection bag full of newly-mowed grass, emptying it myself. I am a Lean, Mean, Genealogy Machine!
And all the favorable goodies that circulate through my brain from the exercise are generating new, powerful search strategies. Strategies I can apply to your genealogy questions and your long-lost ancestors–for more effective research answers.
What a great summer it has been. A very hot, great summer. Your favorite Lean, Mean Genealogy Machine, Arlene Eakle http://www.arleneeakle.com
PS This Genealogy News Sheet is an extension of my values, beliefs, genealogy strategies, and research experiences. Values and strategies that I hope you, gentle readers, will also enjoy, connect deeply with, and discover a kindred spirit. I’m confident that to change it, would leave little appeal for you and would cease to be as enjoyable for me. Your emails and letters over these past months assures me that you both enjoy each newsletter and benefit from the successful research tips I share with you.
PPS Stay tuned! You get a picture next time–me and my webmaster. I am standing and she is sitting. We are the same height! This picture was taken at the end of June 2008. I may be Lean and Mean; I am still short!
PPSS I have watched New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast cope with Hurricane Gustav. What a remarkable change from the response to Katrina–and what hope this gives us all for Homeland Security. Bravo!