My first new acquaintance of the week was encountered on Thursday. Fresh meat showed up at rugby practice. A young, short, barrel-shaped fellow named Chris, who has some experience and is deceptively fast on his feet.
We've finally moved all of our stuff from the little furnished upstairs apartment to the house we'll be renting. On Saturday I was standing in the front yard, knee-deep in dandelion stems and weeds, wondering if I should invest in a push-mower or a brush-hog when Daisy, our Border Collie, darted after the neighbors' little smush-faced Boston Terrier (who probably looks a lot like Daisy would if I shaved her.) I ran over to get her, just as she was christening the strangers' yard with a land mine. The gracious upper-middle-aged lady of the house had almost as much wet paint on her pants, shirt, and hands as the house did. She got up and greeted me with a sticky handshake, so I met Susanna.
I met Susanna's husband, Jerry, shortly after, as we were letting the dogs play in the yard. We struck up a conversation and before long Jerry was introducing me to his Snapper push mower in the shed behind his house. Hallelujah! He kindly told me I could borrow it until I get one of my own.
Today, Sunday, I took him up on the offer. I don't think I've used a push-mower since I was 13 or 14. I mowed yards for money all through my high-school years, but was blessed to have access to my dad's Murray riding mower. Jerry's Snapper isn't one of those mowers that conveniently blasts clippings all over the street, sending rocks through windows, and turning fire-ant mounds into smoke bombs. No, his mower shoots everything into a small canvas bag that fills up every three feet when you're pushing through the 18"-deep Caesar salad that was my neglected lawn. Think of a vacuum cleaner crossed with a food processor.
With the mower's deck at the highest setting possible, I ground my way across the top of the vegetation. The bag would fill up, the mower would choke. I'd have to go dump it and then reach down a plastic chute to grab handfulls of the hot, damp, stinging cake of crabgrass pulp that clogged the tube. Don't get me wrong, the mower worked great considering what it was up against. I hope to keep the turf in check now that we'll be living there.
Over the last few weeks, since the owner turned over the keys, it seems like we've been doing a lot of things that should have been paid for by the last tenant's deposit- like cleaning the nasty oven and replacing the pans on the stovetop, painting three rooms (probably more to come.) I would like to re-attach the door to the little screened-in porch in the backyard, insulate the garage so it could be used year-round as a shop, and maybe put some raised beds in the back to grow some back-yard produce.
The problem is, I haven't even signed a lease yet. After paying the security deposit and the first month's rent with a money-order, the owner said he'd have the lease ready for us to sign by the end of the week, and gave us the keys. He was even kind enough to get the utilities turned on in his name. But it's been three weeks and still no lease. I called and left a message, no reply yet. Now we're completely moved in, I'm in the process of getting things like internet set up- 12 month contract sort of things (I'm writing this from a Panera Bread with free wi-fi today.) I know that the owner has had the property listed to sell, as well as to rent. I'm not going to invest in a lawn-mower if the house could be sold out from under us within a matter of months. Hopefully we'll be able to sign something for a little peace of mind soon.