April 08 '06

                                                    

Volume 514

                   


Hot Glue Success Varies

Most of the grass in my yard is Bermuda and dead from last year’s first killing frost. The new growth hasn’t grown to a point where it needs to be mown. However, there’s a variety of fescue that grows under the maple and the south oak in my front yard that almost dies back in the heat of summer but then thrives in the winter. The fescue came in a sack of seeds that the label stated were suitable for shady areas, and after seeding the bare spots beneath the trees a few years ago, I have to admit there’s now grass where there was none before. Had I known, the stuff grew during the winter months, I might have shopped for a specific seed, but I didn’t, and it doesn’t bother me enough to want to dig it up and start over. So, each spring, I watch it grow bright and green and tall (about eight inches), until I can’t stand it, then I mow it.

Last Saturday was the first cutting I’ve done this year, after having hot-glued parts of my John Deere together last fall. I had accidentally dropped the hood while using a leaf blower to blow the dust off the engine. That resulted in almost the entire hood falling apart. The bumper had suffered severe damage earlier and wasn’t in place at the time of the hood catastrophe.

After assessing Sarah’s yard and mine and seeing hers as needing more attention than my own (it’s weedier), I decided to cut and edge her yard first. I don’t believe I gave much thought to the shaky condition of my lawnmower as I brushed beside cedar limbs and hedges, but after finishing for the day, I found a couple of sections of the hood that need attention, and I lost a piece of the bumper, which may account for the momentary sound I heard of something being shredded that wasn’t grass or weeds.

Before edging Sarah’s yard, I made sure my line-trimmer was working properly at my house and used it to knock back some of the weeds in my front flower bed. Satisfied that I had enough gas and line in the trimmer, I drove the Deere back to Sarah’s and edged most of the areas and borders that required line-trimming.

Once back at home, I used the trimmer in the remaining flower beds in front of my house and was about to call it a day, when the bright green fescue caught my eye.

"Maybe, I’ll just run the mower over the front lawn," I thought. "That won’t take long."

With the mower deck set at two inches, I quickly topped the dead grass as well as the fescue.

"I’d better cut that fescue a little lower; else I’ll have to cut it again in another week. With the days getting warmer, it’ll grow like crazy," I reasoned.

After dropping the deck another half-inch, I circled the two trees that have fescue around them. I was almost done when something cold brushed my left arm. I was under the oak tree at the time, and all I could think of happening was that a snake had fallen from a tree limb and grazed my arm. I had no sooner considered the snake idea, when I felt something cold again. I was about to bail off the mower when I realized one of my lawn sprinkler zones was on and I was getting pelted with pulses of water. There are only two ways for the sprinklers to suddenly come on. The first is by automatic or manual activation from a control panel inside the garage. The second way involves a broken valve.

While I was getting wetter by the second, I knew I must have broken a valve. I had cut the grass last year at a lower setting than I was using when the deck struck the valve, so either the tree roots had pushed the valve higher above ground, or the angle of the deck, while I was turning, was great enough to snap the upper portion of the valve and trigger the sprinkler zone.

Understanding what had happened was not as important at the time as figuring how to stop the flow of water. A broken valve doesn’t respond to a control panel and having experienced a similar problem three years ago, I knew the only solution would be in cutting off the water at the meter.

Adam’s helpmate was Eve. Mine is Barbara Anne. I found her in the kitchen and asked her to help her mate. I have a tool that is fashioned specifically for turning off water at a meter, but it only fits one of the two meters. Fortunately, it fit the one I needed it to fit. But, I didn’t know that until I had practically dug up the meter trying to locate the water valve. There was about six inches of dirt and sand covering the meter, and because I couldn’t remember which side of the meter the valve was on, I wasted a lot of time digging on the wrong side. Thankfully, Barbara brought a flashlight to shine into the abyss while I struggled with the dirt removal.

Darkness was falling fast, a charcoal fire needed to be started in order to grill our supper, and I needed something in the way of a fast fix for the broken valve. My container of all-purpose cement for plastic pipe was inside my tool box, but it had dried up. My best hope, short of calling a plumber, was hot glue.

"If I shut off the valve manually and can get the hole dried out, then hot glue may solve the problem. But, I’ll need some sort of plastic to cement to the top of the valve," I thought.

I started the charcoal fire while the glue gun was heating up. I made hamburger patties at Jason’s house, which is on a separate water meter, in order to have a place to wash my hands. Right before putting the steaks and burgers on the grill, I dried out the top of the broken valve, pumped it full of hot glue, and closed the hole with the mouth of a plastic spoon (hey, it worked).

I didn’t turn the water back on until after supper, but the valve sealed with hot glue appeared to be holding. I checked it a few more times before going to bed, and it was okay. In fact it’s still okay.

Hot glue won’t work for every fix-up around the house and garden, but it has a place of service for the inventive and insightful handyman. If my mower holds together for a few more months and we don’t have a dry summer, I may be able to save enough to pay for the repairs I really need.


Easter Voice Sarah Explains

For several years after Mama died, I made it a practice to take flowers to her grave for Easter. Somewhere along the way in my childhood, I remember her telling me how sad it was for graves not to have flowers at Easter. I do not remember Mama taking flowers to the graves of her loved ones more than once or twice, but it was something she thought ought to be done. Perhaps I was influenced by the many Sunday mornings in Sunday School at West Heights when I scanned the cemetery, noting that few graves had flowers on them.

I used to spend hours preparing Easter lilies for Mama’s grave. It was always hard to come up with the money to buy the best silk lilies and container because money was scarce in those days. I often thought how foolish Daddy would think I was for spending money on flowers for the dead that I could be spending on my children. Nevertheless, I was driven to do this small thing for Mama.

I would get up around 5:30 on Easter morning and drive from Ecru to the cemetery at West Heights so that I could have the flowers on her grave and be gone before the church had its sunrise service. I did not want to place the flowers on the grave the day before because rain or wind during the night would whip the arrangement and spoil the effect on Easter Sunday. After a few moments of meditation at the grave, I would stop by McDonald’s to pick up breakfast for the kids and then drive back to Ecru.

The last Easter I performed this ritual started out like all the others. Once I left Ecru, I made a few changes. This particular morning I turned on the radio as I drove to Pontotoc. I never have the radio on in the car because it makes me nervous. It was a gray, misty, overcast morning, and I remember singing along with "The Holy City," which has been one of my favorite Easter songs. I always start crying at the part which goes, "All who would might enter in, and none would be denied." I usually go right on crying to the end of the song. I was pretty much cried out by the time I drove into the church parking lot.

It had stormed the night before, and flowers were blown all across the cemetery. As I made my way to the family plot on the back of the cemetery, I wondered if the first Easter had been bleak and overcast like this particular morning. I anchored the container in front of the gravestone and stood back to assess my handiwork. I said, "Well, Frannie, you would be proud because you have the prettiest flowers in the cemetery today." As I turned and began my way back to the car, I distinctly heard a masculine voice say in conversational tone, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?"

That voice stopped me in my tracks. No one else was in the cemetery. I know because I scanned the entire area, including the parking lot. I must confess that since I had heard that same voice a few times before, I did not really expect anyone to be around. I believe it was the Lord who spoke to me that morning. Others smile condescendingly when I share this story with them. Very few believe that I heard anything other than my own thoughts. After all, the verse of Scripture is well known and quoted at almost every Easter service. It really does not matter what others think, I know what I experienced.

The Lord does not speak to me as much as He seems to speak to others, but when He does speak to me I listen. For so much of my life, I have found the Lord to be silent. People who know me well tell me that I never quit talking long enough to hear a response. I, however, have always thought that maybe He wanted me to work out some things on my own.

I have begged for answers and guidance and heard nothing. I have spent countless hours reading Scripture for the answers and still not known the right thing to do. Sometimes, I must confess, I have ranted and raved and demanded answers like a petulant child. Small wonder I did not hear anything. Perhaps it is in those periods of silence that I have had to do the most soul-searching, and thus have grown spiritually through reflection and introspection. Those times I recognized His voice, however, I tried to heed His direction.

All the way back home that morning, I contemplated how silly it was to make such a ritual out of putting flowers on Mama’s grave at Easter. As a Christian, I knew my mother was not in that grave. What possible purpose would it serve to place flowers on a grave that held only the decaying flesh, not the spirit, of the person I loved?

So, I have never gone back to the cemetery. I suppose at some point I may have to attend graveside services there for a loved one, but I will not be placing flowers on Mama’s grave for a memorial. There are far better ways to honor her memory. I have it on the best Authority that I should not be seeking some memory of her in the cemetery.

By Sarah Carter Brown


Motel Mystery What's That Noise

I was back in Pearl, MS, this week, on a project that will require my attention for a couple of more weeks at least. I elected to spend Wednesday night at the Comfort Inn, where I had been recognized as a special guest just last week. Vacancies were scarce, and I had to accept one of their suites, as all the regular rooms were reserved. I think I was checked in by the owner/ manager, Mr. Patel, and I believe he gave me a shopworn key/card to open my room.

I tried to open the door several times before giving up and driving back to the office. This time I asked for two keys, just in case there was still an access problem. Happily, I was able to open the door on my first attempt with a new card. But no sooner had I dropped my luggage on the bed than I became aware of a loud buzzing noise.

"There’s no way I’m gonna’ try to sleep with that noise," I thought.

At first, I presumed the refrigerator was the source of the racket, but it wasn’t. I checked the clock radio, and the sound wasn’t coming from there, either. I even turned off lights to see if that made a difference. It didn’t. Finally, I phoned the front desk and described my problem.

"Do you still hear the noise?" the clerk asked.

"Yes!"

A maintenance man arrived about five minutes later. He checked all the areas I had checked, plus he went into the adjacent rooms looking for the source of the buzzing.

Finally, he said, "I think it’s coming from the bed."

After further investigation he pointed to my luggage and said, "It’s something in here."

Once I touched my bag, I sensed the vibrations and had a pretty good idea of the source of the mysterious noise. Though, I had walked by my luggage several times, I couldn’t pinpoint the location of the sound. And, neither could the maintenance man, until he narrowed down the possibilities.

"I’ve got an electric razor in here," I shared, as I unzipped the bag. "I can’t believe I had to call someone to help me find a noise that was in my bag all the time."

He didn’t seem to mind the interruption and, in his investigations, did discover a light in the bathroom needed replacing, one of those screw-in fluorescents that was cracking and popping as though it were about to short out.

When I dug into the shaving kit inside my luggage, I found the noisemaker was actually my beard and mustache trimmer, and not my electric razor. Apparently, one of the contents of my shaving kit shifted when I sat the bag on the bed and it slid the power switch to the on position.

"It’s my beard trimmer," I stated holding it for him to see and turning it off, simultaneously.

As he was leaving, I apologized again for calling him unnecessarily and thanked him for helping locate the noise.


Bodock Beau Late Night Humor

Politicians are often said to be full of it, and good political humor often masks the stench we might otherwise experience. Late night stars, Letterman and Leno provided these comments.

David Letterman:Top Things Overheard During George W. Bush's Trip To Cancun":

  • "Feels great to get away after three straight weeks of work";
  • "As President of the United States, I pledge to do whatever's necessary to help the Cancunians!";
  • "Couldn't we have stayed home and gone to Chi-Chi's?";
  • "Cozumel? Isn't that the chick I made Secretary of State?";
  • "When do I get to meet Zorro?";
  • "I'll have a non-alcoholic pina colada...just kidding. Juice me up, Pepe!";
  • "Once you get a little buzz going, my poll numbers don't look so bad."

Jay Leno: According to the latest statistics there are now eleven million illegal immigrants in the United States. Here's the part that surprised me, over half of them are on the Yankee pitching staff.

President Bush [was] down in Mexico [last week]. He stepped off Air Force One, looked around and said, "Wow, you've got a big problem with Mexican immigrants down here too!"

While President Bush was down there he spoke about the immigration problem. To give you an idea how out of hand our immigration policy is there were 800 more people on the plane coming home than when he flew over there.

In France, rioters looted stores. Actually to be politically correct you cannot call them looters anymore. You now have to call them "undocumented shoppers."

The cover story of this week's Time magazine is about global warming. It's a pretty frightening story. They say if current warming trends continue, by the year 2015, Hillary Clinton may actually thaw out. ... [Time says] global warming is 33% worse than we thought. Which means that Al Gore is one third more annoying than we thought.

Al Gore turned 58-years-old over the weekend. His party was so boring that everyone left before they sang him Happy Birthday.

The staff of RRN wishes each and every reader a blessed Easter.

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