Tag Archives: summer

The Case of the Sullied Samsonite

22 Jan

A snowflake was allegedly spotted 30 miles southeast of our city, so we’re on DEFCON 1 around here. Schools and a lot of business are closed. Since we humans no longer have to worry much about saber-toothed tigers or the Bubonic plague, I think we’re secretly excited about the dangers of puffy snow. But what do I know?

I stopped by the grocery store to get some yogurt for work this morning. I noticed the cheese section was wiped out. So was the toilet paper section. It would seem much of one would eliminate the need for much of the other, but again, what do I know?

Time to conjure warm memories.

ThermoSeveral years ago on a humid Saturday in late July: The air was so hot mosquitoes were spontaneously combusting in mid-flight. I did not want to go outside, but I had to. Those food scraps weren’t going to walk out to the compost pen by themselves. I’m a man, and that’s what men are for. No matter how hot it gets. No matter how much sweat may trickle down a man’s forehead into his eyes, he has to take the heat.

The compost pen is out by our garage near the back alley. It’s scary out there near the alley, because of things a man may see that he can’t un-see. Things like bugs and maybe a vicious squirrel or two. A man never knows.

I took the banana and apple peels out to the compost, the scalding ground burning the soles of my Nikes as I strode. When I arrived, I saw something against the back fence I did not expect to see and never want to see again. A man, no matter how tough he may be, never wants to see that. No, not that.

It was a grungy blue vinyl suitcase. Not a particularly large suitcase. Not very small either. Like something you’d take on a trip if you’re only going to stay over one night, but want to pack an extra change of clothes in case you go to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner and accidentally spill sauce on your chinos and you don’t want to wear your return-home pants two days in a row. Something about that size. But then, if you’re carrying around a suitcase that dirty, perhaps a little Prego on your khakis is not such a big issue.

I approached the mysterious blue suitcase with trepidation. I lifted it. It contained something a bit heavy. I don’t mean heavy in an emotional sense like a Nicholas Sparks novel about someone who falls in love the same day they learn they have a terminal illness, but heavy weight-wise. Its heft filled me with dread. I could imagine it contained a severed appendage, maybe a head, or stolen drugs. I could imagine nothing good. But a man, the kind of tough individual who takes table scraps to the compost pen on a 98-degree summer day, has to do what he has to do. I slowly unzipped the suitcase, my eyes all but closed as though that would make it easier to see what I was about to see. Oh, the humanity. I did not expect to see that.

The suitcase was packed solid with tubes of Colgate toothpaste. Not sample sizes. Not in boxes. Not half-used. Not Crest or Sensodyne. More suitcasemysterythan one hundred shiny tubes of Colgate.

I looked around and detected nothing but quiet. Even the squirrels had stopped chittering. I decided the smart option was to do nothing. I re-zipped the suitcase and left it where it was next to the back fence of our yard. I returned to the coolness of the house. I sat in the den as the 43rd rerun of a Lenny Briscoe Law & Order episode droned on the television. No more than fifteen minutes passed before I could no longer resist. Forget Lenny. I had my own mystery to solve. I had to go back out there, no matter the risk, no matter the danger, and open that suitcase one more time. Burning questions needed answers. What? Who? Why Colgate? Why not Oral-B?

I would not get my answers. The suitcase was gone.

Somewhere in the distance, a dog howled.

I have my theories about the suitcase and its owner, but what is your theory? If you think someone walking through the alley could have grabbed it, that’s possible. But it would have been hard to see over or through the back fence because of all the bushes. I gotta trim those.

 

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Try my patented method of lawn equipment repair (in 50 easy steps)

13 Jul

Introducing the Ron Smith method of lawn repair™

When Daughter #2 mowed the back yard several weeks ago, the rear left wheel fell off the push mower.  It was irreparable. This allowed me to put my patented lawn equipment repair system into practice. Should you find yourself in similar circumstances, I invite you to try this efficient approach.

  1. Curse aloud at the news the mower is broken.
  2. Wonder if it is possible to continue mowing with only three wheels.
  3. Decide it is not feasible and instruct D2 to finish “mowing” lawn with weed trimmer.
  4. Withhold judgment when lawn, following aforementioned weed trimming, looks like it has been strafed by a Grumman Hellcat.
  5. Order replacement wheel online. (Some repair technicians may be tempted to examine broken part before finding replacement. This is known in equipment repair trade as “cutting corners.”)  Wheel
  6. Because delivery charges are more than replacement part, order additional parts as well, “just to have around.”
  7. Note that it costs several dollars extra to have replacement wheel shipped within one business day.
  8. Opt for regular delivery, which is nine to fourteen days.
  9. Fail to notice that promise is to ship part in nine to fourteen days, rather than to deliver in said time frame.
  10. Sit back and watch grass grow to record heights as it rains every day.
  11. Host major family event at house.
  12. Call Search & Rescue when two relatives are lost for hours in backyard jungle.
  13. Rejoice when new wheel arrives sixteen days after order placed.
  14. Realize you did not think to confirm that push ring that keeps wheel on axle would be included with order.  Pushring
  15. Determine 92-cent push ring is not included.
  16. Confirm that push ring is not one of parts ordered “just to have around.”
  17. Look at lawnmower closely for first time.
  18. Realize other rear wheel is about to fall off, too, which also is not one of parts ordered “just to have around.”
  19. Excoriate self with epithets.
  20. Drop by Home Depot next day to find something that might work as push ring. (Note: Under no circumstances measure wheel axle first as this also would be considered “cutting corners.”)
  21. Buy two sizes of locking washers because they kind of look like push rings.
  22. Try each locking washer on wheel to confirm neither fits.
  23. Say aloud to no one, “Of course they don’t fit.”
  24. Say other things you can’t repeat in polite company.
  25. Briefly consider amount of duct tape necessary to keep wheel on.
  26. Fail again to measure wheel axle for appropriate size.
  27. Drop by Home Depot again.
  28. Buy two more items that look somewhat like push rings.
  29. Try both items on wheel and determine they do not fit.
  30. Conclude it might be good idea to measure wheel axle this time.
  31. Make special trip to Lowe’s to avoid embarrassment of being recognized by Home Depot workers.
  32. Buy every size of lock cap in store.
  33. Determine that one of locks caps fits the wheel axle.
  34. Do little dance of joy.
  35. Take two more days to get in “right frame of mind” before tackling yard, which looks like Amazon rainforest.
  36. Begin to mow lawn.
  37. Amazon-amazon-rainforest-33125135-1600-1200Determine wheel works fine, but other rear wheel is wobbly, and, worse, mower is now stalling.
  38. Curse the sky.
  39. Remember parts ordered “just in case.”
  40. Remove motor housing.
  41. Find nothing obviously wrong.20130622_142225
  42. Install all just-in-case parts anyway.
  43. Try again and get same results.
  44. Cry.
  45. Pout.
  46. Peruse condo ads in real estate section.
  47. Desperately hope mower just needed some air, and begin to mow with motor housing off so motor can “breathe.”
  48. Observe lawnmower die.
  49. Get brilliant idea.
  50. Make trip to neighborhood hardware store for one final part.

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P.S. If you think that’s good advice, try this book of wisdom.