The Day Was Just Packed

This was one of those days that was so packed I barely had time to relax or eat, though I did manage to do both. Making the day even more insane was the wind. Without the wind, it would have been a lovely warm day, conducive to doing all I needed and wanted to get done, but with the wind? Yikes.

I started out walking errands. (Since I no longer run, I can’t in all honesty use the phrase “running errands,” and since the part for my brakes remains elusive — or perhaps it’s just the mechanic that remains elusive — I can’t run my car for errands, either.) I visited with friends I encountered at the store for a while, then went home and mowed the lawn.

The grass might not have been needed to be mown so soon — it was just last weekend, if I remember correctly, that I mowed it the first time — but I gave that lawn such a bad haircut that it needed to be redone. (The grass had been so tall, the poor mowers — both the machine and the human working the machine — struggled to get the job finished any way they could.)

I had just finished cutting the grass and was admiring my work when a man who lives across the street and down the alley came running up to me, all upset to see that the lawn had been mown. It turns out he wanted the clippings for his compost heap. I told him I still have the clippings — my mower mulches the clippings, so I spread them around my plants — but he wasn’t interested. He asked if he could have the clippings the next time, and I agreed; he even said he’d mow the lawn to get the clippings, and I agreed to that, too.

I did some other outside work, then came in for a quick bite to eat because a friend was due to come pick me up so we could join the community wellness walk. The wind was extraordinarily strong, but we did the walk. We just didn’t stand in line at all the check-in booths along the way. We knew we walked; it didn’t matter if anyone else knew, too.

As if that weren’t enough, I still had to go check out the house I am taking care of for an absent friend, and now here I am.

Whew! What a day!

The thing I am most proud of is that despite all that, I still took time to tiptoe through the tulips. Well, not through them, beside them. These particular tulips I planted alongside one of my pathways, and I am thrilled that the sight is as lovely as I hoped.

Yep. The day was just packed.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

For Want of a Nail

I’ve been thinking about that old saying about for the want of a nail the kingdom was lost. The full proverb is:

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”

What made me think of this proverb is my attempt to get my brakes fixed. The four brake cylinders were replaced, but the parts store sent a master cylinder with the wrong clocking, so that part never got replaced. The brakes worked fine for a few months, but the last time I drove and put on the brake, the pedal went all the way to the floor. The car stopped, but it spooked me, so I went back to the mechanic to get him to order the correct part. I checked on Friday to see what’s going on, and apparently, he hasn’t been able to find the right part.

And that’s when the saying, “for want of a nail,” started going through my head. A master cylinder isn’t that expensive, around fifty dollars, maybe, and because of not being able to get that part, my car is suddenly defunct. Although I seldom drive, I’ve been worrying all weekend about being permanently without a car since it’s so important to have for emergencies. And then suddenly it dawned on me: if I had to sell the car because the brakes didn’t work, you can darn well bet that whoever ended up with it would figure out how to get a master cylinder. So I am going to keep after my mechanic to make sure he finds a part. I plan on talking to him tomorrow to see if taking a picture of the part will help him locate the correct one, because I am not going to let this go. I’ve spent too much on the car in the past few years restoring it and making sure it runs perfectly to give up on it now.

As if that isn’t problem enough, I had a hard time dealing with my lawn mower today. Although I hadn’t planned on mowing the grass for a while, I noticed that a lot of people were mowing their lawns today — the people whose lawns had greened up — and one fellow I talked to said this was the right time. I contacted my contractor, and he agreed that it wasn’t too early to mow.

So, I got out the mower, found the battery, and dug out the instruction manual. I don’t use the mower enough for the practice to become second nature, so I have to relearn how to use it every spring. I got it started, it went a few feet, beeped, then stopped. I had no idea what was going on because the battery was full, but I went ahead and plugged the battery in the charger while I cleaned the mower of any possible clogs.

Eventually I got it to work. Apparently, the grass was too tall and too thick for the available power, so I raised the mower to the highest level, replaced the battery, and all was fine. The grass is still too tall, though if I don’t let it get much longer, perhaps the next time I try mowing I can cut it a bit shorter.

By the time all that was done, I didn’t have the energy to deal with the string edger (it’s actually a weed whacker, but it can be set to trim the edge of the grass). I don’t remember ever using it, so I have to start from scratch learning how to wrap the string and attach it and all the rest of it. That will be a project for another day.

I used to think I was good with mechanical objects, but apparently not. Still, this is just the beginning of the mowing season, so I will have plenty of time to get familiar with my tools. Perhaps this time the instructions will sink in so next year there won’t be all these problems.

Hopefully, long before then, the mechanic will find the right part to get my car running. Or rather, get it stopping.


Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

If At First You Don’t Succeed

My brother left a lawnmower here the last time he visited, almost two years ago. I’m sure he planned to come back and help with the yard whenever he traveled this way, but then The Bob intervened, and he hasn’t been back.

Last year, it was so dry, I didn’t have to worry about a lawn. To be honest, I have no lawn to worry about even now, but last year I didn’t even have any weeds in the yard, so the lawnmower just sat immobile.

Well, this year, with all the rain, the weeds are growing rampant. Even a bit of grass is growing. And it all needed to be cut back. For some reason, I felt nervous about using the machine since I’d never used it and didn’t remember how. Still, I dragged out the lawnmower, found the manual my brother left with me, and proceeded to read the instructions. The machine had been put into storage mode, meaning it was locked and folded and set in an upright position to get it out of the way. It took me a while to find all the right parts, first in the manual and then on the machine, and get it back to working condition.

I thought I’d read the instructions properly, but when I tried mowing, the blades never engaged. I called my brother to see if he could figure out what I was doing wrong, but he didn’t have the time right then. So I went back and read the instructions again.

And then it clicked. Literally. I had to push this button, pull that lever, and like magic, the thing turned on and I managed to get my weeds aka “my lawn” mowed.

No wonder the thought of mowing the lawn made me nervous. I’m out of the practice of concentrating, and it takes concentration to read instruction manuals and try to decipher the graphics.

It just goes to show, if at first you don’t succeed, read the instructions, and if you still don’t succeed, read them again.

My next venture will be to see if I can figure out the string trimmer. The right-of-way between the sidewalk and the street is overgrown with woody weeds and tall tree sprouts growing out of the roots of a tree that had been chopped down, and it all needs to be cut back, but that’s a project for another day.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator