April 02, 2005
And Don't Even Get Me Started on Mulching

So many major events have occurred in the last few weeks that it's going to take more than one entry to catch up, especially since today -- rather than discussing those major events -- I'm going to write about lawn care and small gasoline engines.

Soon I will be part-owner of a lawn, which I means I will also need to be part-owner of a lawn mower. So I make room in my brain to consider: must this lawn mower be self-propelled, or would I welcome the opportunity for a workout? Is the added maneuverability of oversized rear wheels worth the extra money? What about horsepower -- does it really matter that much? And a weedwhacker -- do we need a weedwhacker?*

Fortunately, my father is an expert in these matters, having repaired small gasoline engines longer than I've been alive. We had an extended discussion about the care and feeding of two-cycle engines versus four-cycle engines. I took copious notes on things like gasoline management:

Don't buy more than a gallon at a time. After 30 days but before 60 days, pour unused gas from can into car, refill can. Use a separate can for gas/oil mix. Oil is tinted -- blue or pink or sometimes purple. Tinted gas goes in the weedwhacker.

After this came the hands-on lesson. Somehow I managed to reach the age of 34 without ever mowing a lawn, and I was keen on actually trying it. "This'll be fun," I say; Dad turns all Tom Sawyer and says he'll let me paint the fence, too.

We're in the backyard with the weedwhacker: push this button a few times to prime it (no, you can't flood it, but you can flood the lawn mower), open the choke, hold down the throttle, yank the cord, take the choke to half, slowly release the throttle, close the choke. Got it. Weeds get whacked. The new blueberry bush survives. Later:

ME: So chainsaws have two-cycle engines, too, right?
DAD: Yes.
ME: And I would do the same thing to start one?
DAD: Yes. [Completely unfazed by this line of questioning, he explains the ideal way to hold a chainsaw while you start it.]

Zombies, consider yourselves warned.

*No, yes. Yes! No. Yes.