Tag Archives: mid-life crisis

UNICORNS, MOUNTAIN LIONS AND BRUSH HOGS

A couple of years ago, when my aunt died, she left me a fairly worthless piece of farmland about sixty miles from my home.  I know the land is worthless because my Grandpa said so in his will.  A third of the original farmstead [the rich flat land] went to my father, the other two thirds [the rocky, cedar-tree-infested land] went jointly to my two aunts.  That’s the part that I inherited with my brothers and sister.  Basically, I own one/nth of one/half of some acreage.

We hired a local farmer (Little Steve, son to Big Steve – a friend of my dad’s and the only farmer we knew) to plant the fields he could.  The rest is rocky, hilly and covered in trees.

In the plus column, at the highest point, you can see for miles.  I’ve spotted dozens of deer and turkeys and coyotes. In the early spring we even had one little lonely duck on our sad tiny pond and after I parked my vintage camper out there and spent the night, I heard a mountain lion.

In a fit of Crazie, and against the advice of every attorney I talked to (more than six, less than twelve) we all decided to keep the land.  Why? you might ask along with my husband who asks constantly. Maybe because it is two-thirds of the farm I grew up on and although as a kid I never once wanted to do a single farmer thing on it, now I can’t wait to get my hands dirty.

Unicorn Besides, I had a vision. Simply remove all the invasive cedar trees and we’d be left with unicorns dancing in the starlight or possibly just rolling hills covered in prairie grass and wildflowers.

We worked and slaved (for one weekend) and then paid someone to bulldoze acres of the prolific cedars.  After two days we ran out of money he finished. But I was determined to keep going.  I had a vision after all.

I started out with a hand saw and then graduated to a reciprocating saw, which required the purchase of a generator, extension cords, gas cans.

Teresa with sawI borrowed my nephew’s chain saw (don’t tell Husband) and cut down every cedar I could reach.

Overwhelmed with nightmares of cedar trees, I learned from Little Steve to hone in on the female of the species, easily distinguished by the thousands of blue berries covering her branches.

In the process of tidying up the land, I uncovered spectacular deciduous trees; walnuts, red buds and pears.  Next to the hundred year-old-dump — a dry creek filled with rusted tin cans, stoves and old tires — I discovered a hundred-year-old oak tree with a seven-foot circumference.

From Little Steve, I also learned that baby cedar trees pop up wherever there is open grass so the cleared area would need to be mowed. Rather than pay someone, I thought it would be more fun (?) to buy my own tractor and a brush hog — that’s a mower to you city folk.

From a friend of a friend of my brother, Rick, I looked at a 1949 Ford 8N tractor.  The owner was kind enough to deliver it.  Sure there were a few issues, like I had to disconnect the cable after every use or the battery would run down and the steering was so loose I could turn the wheel a foot in either direction with no reaction.  But it was a tractor and it was destined to be mine.

In Crazie Town, the women/girls stayed in the house and cooked while the men/boys ran the equipment, so in all my years on the farm, I never once drove a tractor.  I gleaned a little bit of farm knowledge so I could probably tell the difference between a plow and a harrow, but I couldn’t, for the life of me, tell you what a harrow is used for.

But, now, I had the possibility of my own tractor and I was in farmer heaven.  I puttered around learning how the gears worked.  I drove the tractor fifty yards one direction, changed gears and drove fifty yards in the other direction.  Number one lesson learned: don’t drive over rough terrain in third gear with the throttle full out.  Until I could get my foot on the clutch long enough to downshift, I bounced around on the seat like a piece of popcorn in a hot pan.

After that harrowing (hey, maybe that’s what a harrow is for?) experience, I coasted up to the owner who was trying very hard not to laugh. I paid him and with a shaky hand I waved goodbye and he drove away.  I turned off the tractor and…it never started again.  I left it where it landed and drove the sixty miles home, composing a story in which I could tell Husband about the tractor without actually mentioning that I’d probably just purchased a very expensive lawn ornament.

The new plan was to meet my brother, Rick, the next day to see what we could do to get  the !@#$#@! thing running. But the next day it rained and then it rained…and rained…and rained.  It was over six weeks later before Rick and I could get out to the farm and see what repairs we could make.  This is the condition of the fuel filter when we arrived.Fuel Filter

It appears to have been eaten by some rats cute little field mice.

With the help of Rick and his wife, Shelly, we took a trip to the Tractor Supply store, where (as every woman has experienced) the salesclerk would only talk with my brother.  He informed Rick that my vehicle was so small that bona fide tractor parts don’t fit.  He sent us to the lawnmower department which I found quite insulting, but less expensive.

Once we installed the fuel filter — right side up — the tractor roared to life.  Hurray!

However, it is just a moving lawn ornament until I can buy the brush hog to do the mowing.

Stay tuned as I find myself in Billy Bob’s Death Compound.

Pwall-Ticka-Abe

I decided to take a break from clearing cedar trees around The Ugly Duckling and spend a day at home, sewing curtains for her naked windows.

I’d purchased the fabric on-line two years ago at the very apex of my mid-life crisis, but had never paused long enough to turn it into something. Also, there’d been the problem of not owning a sewing machine.

IMG_1146But, smart me, the only thing I chose from my aunt’s estate was her ancient Sears Kenmore Model 1755.

IMG_1145

 

And, even though I haven’t sewn anything more than a button in twenty-five years, it would be like riding a bike. The first step would be figuring out how to make curtains.

I sat in front of the computer and pulled up a blog on how to sew lined curtains, (which was surprisingly helpful.) I carefully measured the fabric – twice, folded down and ironed the hem and then sat down at the prehistoric machine. I plugged in the Sears Kenmore Model 1755 and no sparks erupted so I pushed on the pedal. The needle jumped up and down at breakneck speed while visions of professional-grade draperies danced in my head.

I positioned one of the two spools of thread I’ve used over the past twenty plus years to sew on buttons, wrapped it around the bobbin and pressed the pedal. No bobbin winding.  I pressed again and again until a little puff of smoke appeared and the pungent smell of burned rubber filled the room. I removed the bobbin gear and took it to my garage workstation.

IMG_1142I oiled and cranked and oiled and cursed, but it would not budge. After an hour I threw the part on the floor gently released the problem to the Universe.

By now, it was getting to be afternoon and if I was going to finish the curtains by the end of the day, things were going to have to go perfectly. So, the Universe told me to stop screwing around and go get a new sewing machine. I hopped in the car, rushed to Sears and bought their cheapest machine.IMG_1143I raced home, opened it up, put the spool of thread on the machine and ran the thread over to the bobbin winder. Nothing. No spinning, no whirring. Nothing. I ripped open paused and read the stupid directions, unthreaded what I’d done and tried it the right way.  Success! Bobbin spinning like a top.

Then it stopped. I stared at the bobbin for a full minute trying to wrap my head around what the freaking problem was now.

Evidently, in only a short twenty-plus years of button sewing, a person can use up one hundred yards of thread.  IMG_1144

 

Cursing a blue streak (just the way my friends Bob and Kerry taught me), I stomped back to the car. I pulled my smart phone from my purse and asked Siri to tell me the closest fabric store.

“I found one place close to you,” she said.  “Would you like to go there?”

“YES!” I shouted.

“I’m sorry, I can’t understand that. Please try again.”

“YES! YES! TAKE ME THERE!”

“Where would you like to go?” she asked.

Screeching out of my driveway, I headed to a hobby store a few miles away. I turned into an empty parking lot.  Closed.

I jumped the curb on my way back to the street.  Then feeling it was my last resort, drove to Hell on Earth, Super Target.  Not wanting to waste a minute wandering around the massive warehouse, I hiked over to customer service (the opposite side of the building where I parked) and demanded to know where the thread would be.

“Ummm, do we sell thread?” Becca, the customer service representative asked me.

“That,” I said through clenched teeth, “is what I’m asking you.”

“Oh.”  She picked up her walkie talkie and asked the black box if they sold thread.

“Pssht. Fssht,” it replied.

Becca looked up at me and said, “All the way to the back wall, Aisle D33.”

I arrived at Aisle D33 to find it filled to overflowing with all the colors of the rainbow – for towels.

Trekking back to the customer service desk, I scowled smiled politely and said “Hi. I’m the woman looking for the thread. You said Aisle D33, but that has bathroom towels on it.”

“Really?” She caught the gaze of another employee and asked, “Where do we keep the thread?”

“Next to the irons, I think?”

Becca looked at me and smiled.

“But,” I spluttered, hands waving in the air. “Where are the irons?”

She repeated my question to the little black box.

“Pwall.  Ticka Abe,” it replied.

Becca translated. “Aisle E38.”

Aisle 39 - Irons

Aisle 39 – Irons

I found the irons on Aisle 39, but no thread.

I found the sewing items on Aisle 38

Who sews with thread anymore anyway?

Who sews with thread anymore anyway?

 

But, still no thread.

As of today, the Ugly Duckling’s curtain fabric sits in a pile, to be completed along with the replacement glass for the broken wasp-den window and, the three cabinet doors that are missing and, the exterior paint job and…

The good news is, according to Wikipedia (which is always correct) I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing for a Midlife Crisis.

  • acquisition of unusual or expensive items such as motorbikes, boats, clothing, sports cars, jewelry, gadgets, tattoos, piercings, etc. – Hmmm, no mention of large ugly vintage campers. Wikipedia made a mistake.