Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fuck the Earth

Today is the second of my involuntary holidays this week (business went crazy for two weeks but we're back to a slow crawl again, unfortunately). Yesterday Baby Girl and I went to the dentist and breakfast, wandered the shops along Hawthorne Boulevard (where she fell in love with a 招き猫 (Maneki Neko, the famous Beckoning Cat from Japanese folklore)

...and wanted one so badly I almost relented, but $21.50 for an adorable plastic toy with a waving movable arm? Too spendy! We went to Anzen instead and she fell out of love with Mister Beckoning Cat and into love with a pretty little Chinese temple bell now hanging in her room), played in Laurelhurst Park, read stories, played games and went down, the both of us, for three-hour naps. It was all-day, 24/7 adorable toddler all the time. Fun. And a little tiring.

So today was my day to entertain my self. I've been reading, from both paper and LCD, preparing for some Chicken with Sweet Onion Riata and barbecued asparagus, took a leisurely bike ride down to our little Madrona Hill Cafe and had a breve' and read the paper...lovely, languid day. If I'm going to be poor and unemployed I want to at least enjoy it.

The only task I set myself was mowing the remainder of the lawn. I'd gotten most of the damn grass mowed the previous evening, the only remaining bit was the very back of the back yard. So I stowed the bike downstairs, checked the oil, primed the carburetor, pulled the cord...

...and the fucking thing wouldn't run. Oh, it'd start OK. But after burning through the fuel I'd pumped in through the primer, it'd die. I checked the throttle, checked the fuel, nothing. The likely problem is that the carb is laquered or the jet is clogged, and I don't know enough about little Briggs engines to fix that. So off went the old clapper to the little mower shop on Lombard and went next door to borrow the good neighbors' push mower.Every so often I see them mowing, or hear the "whirr-whirr" of the old-fashioned rotating blades and think how cool it is to have this totally gasless, nonpolluting, human-powered mower. If you have to have grass (and we're too lazy to get about killing all ours and replacing it with some sort of artistic landscaping) what more Portlandy thing to have than a Green Mower, saving the Earth while getting your exercise and keeping the lawn suburban trim?

So, okay, now that I've used the thing to cut, oh, about one-sixth of my yard?

Fuck the Earth. It's gonna have to die beneath the smog-cloud of my power mower exhaust, because I'm not going to spend the remaining few years I have left trimming the grass with a goddam push mower. Leave aside the brutal ramming effort needed to cut down the long grass, the thing had to be re-run over any single patch of grass two to four times to actually cut the stuff. And the tall weeds? They laughed haughtily at it, surviving my most savage attempts to cut them down. I took me a good hour to trim probably less than 500 square feet of a 5,000-square-foot lot.

Sorry, Earth. You're a great planet. But I'm loving my dirty little Sears Lawnmaster. It just wouldn't have worked out between us.


M said...

Ha! We tried the same thing with the same results - 'til our city gave us a credit toward a green mower for turning in our old polluting one. We opted for a rechargable battery mower - no cord, works just as well as regular - yes resources are used to create the power but it really uses very little electricity and at least we're not spewing crap directly into our 'hood. Not cheap, but hey, if our city wants to fund it we're in!

Lisa said...

You are a man for all seasons. I would have enjoyed partiaking in a breve with you.

But -- you must keep the mower's blades savagely sharpened (your neighbor may not.) I guess growing up watching my dad pushing one, looking much like a sharecropper under a straw hat, the push mower is not anathema to me. In fact, I was delighted to find one a few years back in a junkpile on the side of the road.

Of course, I have a very small yard.

M: I wish all cities offered that incentive.

FDChief said...

M: Perhaps Portland will subsidize me to the tune of a fine new electric mower.

Lisa: I suspect that the lack of sharpening had something to do with it, but, frankly, I would sooner trim my pubic hair with a scythe than try and sharpen the blades on the rotating drum of the push mower - yipes!

And I would have cheerfully sprung for a delicious pastry in hopes of cheering your summer morning.

sheerahkahn said...

Oh god, I hate those things!
At least an hour to hone those blades, and are they straight?
No, they got to be all curvy.
Nice...I hate sharpening curvy blades.
Curvy looks good on women, not on cutting hardware.

And yes, I'm not particularly fond of sabers and katana's, either.

I's feels yo's pains!

Lisa said...

Thank you -- I delight in finding a good patisserie! I am a culinary traveler, and the boulangerie is my special joy. But of course, the icing on the cake would be a tasty conversation to accompany the treat.

Oh, and the blades: I do remember my father patiently, Asperger-like, honing the swirly blade's edges. On reflection, his having Russian parents must've had something to do with this endless fixation on "making do" with the most rudimentary conveniences.

Now, he'd be considered "green", and I think that would amuse him.

FDChief said...

Lisa: Completely off topic, but I like your new summery profile picture - very outdoorsy, and fetching as well - it's not everyone who makes a wifebeater look scrumptious!

I suspect that those are NOT the hills of Florida. Was this a travel snap? And if so, where? Just nosy...

My pop had one of these push mowers, too, and like a good engineer he maintained it scrupulously including sharpening the blades. But he had to invent a sort of chock-rod gadget he'd jam through the blades to prevent them from spinning and cutting his fingers, and as I child I remember considering this both excitingly dangerous (reinforcing my belief that my dad was sort of like Indiana Jones) and dangerously nuts.

Lisa said...

Thank you, m'dear. This was shot a few weeks ago in CA wine country.

The wife beater: you'll like this, as you appreciate fashion, and this indicates something about our country. So comfy -- size 14 in the girl's section, Joe Boxer 3-pk undershirts. But they have a little bow, and work as outer wear. I am a minimalist.

This is not a discussion we often get to have on a military site, but I could go quite in depth on the matter. I'll not risk inappropriateness, however.

It'll get me into most patisseries.

And I also saw my dad as dangerously nuts. Since he was a semi-pro hockey player (goalie) who had his nose broken thrice, he is a fascinating melange of recklessness and insularity.

But the penuriousness. . . some day I shall tell you of the duct tape and soaker hose story, which exemplifies the reality quite well.

Meghan said...

I dig my electric black & decker mulching mower, even with its sometimes in-the-way cord. You learn the pattern of mowing that requires the least amount of cord-moving PDQ. And - bonus - it's the easiest thing in the world to start.

FDChief said...

Meghan: I've thought about an electric mower, but the one's I've looked at seem awfully expensive. Maybe there'll be some stimulus money for trading in your old beater lawn mower for a low-emissions model?

FDChief said...

Lisa: I'd call that underwear that's fun to wear. I like the little bow; nice girly touch.

Inappropriate? My dear, this blog is a no-shame zone: honi soit que mal y pense.

I will go first by admitting that male undergarments, in contrast, are barely passable as scanties. My little girl agrees: when you ask her what she want to wear under her little pants or shorts or dresses, her invariable reply is "I want go 'mando" (that is, "commando").

Women, fortunately, are afforded a bit more latitude in their choice of what to wear next to - or, in this case as the covering for - their skin.

Lisa said...

Then may we continue, ala order of the garter?

Women are allowed a certain latitude, and I enjoy blurring these lines (as long as it is done in good taste, and we know what that is. Not Britney.) Women have co-opted "boy shorts", and now wear as underwear the real wife beaters. In the ladies section, you may now find the actual BVD sleeveless version, in a somewhat more feminine cut.

Personally, I would not choose those as outwear. I may be a minimalist, but I am also a lady.

As I am small, I recently made an amazing discovery: girls clothes often fit me better than women's. That stuns me because 14 year old girls must be getting much larger these days. I doubt I would be able to wear a late 70's version of 14-y.o. wear.

It also puts the onus on me to determine which "Here Kitty" accessory may or may not be acceptable for a grown lady, outside of Tokyo.

My own mother, who straddled the 1st and 2nd gen. feminists, long wore my dad's boxers and sleeveless T's around the house b/f this behavior was acceptable. (More typical was our neighbor, Mrs. McCabe, who always had her face on and her beehive right before going to the mailbox.)

So I kind of come by it naturally. That said about mum, she was also meticulous about matching pumps to handbag, so she definitely had dueling impulses.

Publius said...

A young stud like you can handle it. Besides, as the Army always had, it's "good training."


P.S. from the look of what you're trying to mow, I'd be a little careful about spending a bunch on an electric. They're nice for small lawns that don't grow too high. My daughter is using the one I bought in California almost 20 years ago. Small yards.

Me? I've gotta guy.

Lisa said...

to Chief,

The going "mando brought back a memory:

As a girl, I, too, wanted to go commando. Though mom was liberal in some ways, she could not brook this (I later came to understand why.)

Anyway, I was a willful girl, and remember just sitting at the top of the stairs, stewing and thinking in my leggings (full tights), "Just why IS it I cannot do this?" I could come up with neither reasonable argument pro nor con. I just sat there in frustration.

Eventually, in order to go outside, I had to relent, and the inspection was further humiliation. Possibly my first introduction to the unfair world of adults. [And of course, if one wished to go Freudian, one might say it left a trace of a concept that one must cover up the "naughty bits."]

As an adult, I can say women's skivvies are much sillier affairs than are men's. We have these uncomfortable elastic closure around the legs. Men's are sensible, and have cotton -- or better yet, no leg closure, and fly in the wind, like boxers.

I think there is some holdover here from the days of chastity belts. I cannot bear any uncomfortable things, like thongs -- anathema to comfort! But these days, I opt out of 'mando, for comfort's sake. (I have found comfy cotton bikinis w/o elastic, that do not look like like mama's Big White Underwear!)

Oh the freedom of saying this on a man's blog :) Without offense, I do hope. (This would NEVER fly on RAW!)

Publius said...

"As an adult, I can say women's skivvies are much sillier affairs than are men's. We have these uncomfortable elastic closure around the legs. Men's are sensible, and have cotton -- or better yet, no leg closure, and fly in the wind, like boxers."

Men have skivvies?

Lisa said...


Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FDChief said...

Lisa: Couple of thoughts:

1. From what I can see, "Hello Kitty" has become, like Hermes, a cachet, and appearing in HK getup will probably come across as hip and flirty rather than juvenile, depending on your tolerance for bizarrely cutesy Japanese anime characters, of course.

2. While I appreciate the idea of silky undies, the whole man-made-fibers-next-to-your-junk thing has always baffled me. You take a fabric known for not breathing and you wrap the parts of you that are the humidest and most temperamental in them? NOT a good idea.

And skivvies? Only if you're engaged in something you don't want your wedding tackle caught on. There's something to be said for internal genitalia in some situations.

Boxers when absolutely necessary.

3. I've never understood the appeal of thongs, aside from the purely practical issue of the butt-crack-flossing effect, on either men or women - the male version is the Speedo, which is something to see on a truly obese German. My day on the beach near the Danish border suggested that the larger the German, the further the back of the suit was wedged between the Thuringer hams. Yike!

4. As far as undergarments in general, practicality and comfort seem a good rule. How do garters, or a lacy bra, help you look sexy (or for us guys, a skimpy little muscle outfit) if the briefs are cutting in, the lace is scratchy and the garters too tight?

The bottom line is: self-confidence and maturity can make a T-shirt and shorts devastating; $500 worth of designer clothes and tricky undies can't cover foolishness, ill temper, or childishness.

Publius: The exercise wasn't unwelcome, but the time lost was regretted. I just don't have enough time in the day to spend 4 hours mowing with the bloody push mower.

And I think Lisa's skivvies = briefs. Never held with 'em, myself.

Lisa said...

"self-confidence and maturity can make a T-shirt and shorts devastating; $500 worth of designer clothes and tricky undies can't cover foolishness, ill temper, or childishness"

As we say in CA, "Totally". Comfort is key, for both partners. I could go on about the silly contraptions women purchase to seem fetching, but perhaps 'nuff said. I am glad to hear a man who loves the women beaneath the trappings.

I do love silk, and my absolute favorite loungewear were some 40's era silk tap pants with tatting a la Harlow I found at a thrift store. Button waist, nothing else. So simple, elegant and comfy.

The Thuringer comment is priceless, if horrific. Why we humans bind ourselves eludes me. Of course, our bandage is not only tailor-made, it is ideological. as well.

Probably couldn't have one without the other.

Lisa said...

(That would be "bondage".)

FDChief said...

Lisa: As far as the Teutonic torture device went, all I could think of was the line from "There's Something About Mary" where Stiller gets his junk zipped up in his trouser fly: "How the hell'd you get the beans above the frank..?"

There's something inexpressibly touchable about silk on silky skin. Airy. Flowing. Elegant. A delight to the hand and the eye.

Lisa said...

I'm so glad you're a connoisseur of the tactile pleasures, as well. There is so much to take in, when it is of quality and refinement.