It Just Wasn’t Norm’s Day

Some days are fun. Some are boring. Some are productive. Some are crazy.

And some days just absolutely, positively require a blog post.

I can’t think of any way to describe yesterday other than just jotting down a rough timeline….

6:30 – We arise from deep slumber to a sunny, relatively warm morning.

7:15 – Breakfast of eggs, sausage, toast, and coffee.

8:00 – I start working on the yard. The big storms are finally over, so there is plenty of grass to mow. Jeannie does the dishes, starts some laundry, and feeds the chickens.

9:00 – Still mowing and edging. Our next-door neighbor’s house is vacant right now. The neighbor on the other side, Norm, 75, owns a landscaping business, so he’s been mowing the front lawn of the empty house. He owns all of the land behind us and has both grass and crop fields, along with two ponds. He’s outside today too, of course. While he’s making a turn, he drives his huge zero-turn radius riding mower over the gravel driveway. Rocks sing as they fly past my ears like bullets. I turn and duck. Thankfully, only one small one hits me in the back of the head.

10:00 – Still doing mostly uneventful yard work. There are holes all over the yard from soil that has settled under all the water. These need to be fixed. Jeannie starts taking leaves off of the garden area. She put them down last fall to keep the weeds away. She mentions that we should till soon. One of the neighbors probably has a tiller we can borrow.

10:30 – Norah goes down for her nap.

11:00 – These holes are annoying me, so I take a break and go get a truck load of dirt from the landscape supply down the road.

11:30 – Back with the dirt. I get about 3/4 of a yard of dirt moved from truck to holes.

12:30 – Norah wakes up.┬áLunch! Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

1:00 – We make a run to Ace Hardware to get some flowers for the pots on the front porch, paint for the back porch, a kitchen sink faucet repair kit, some nails, and a little broom for Norah.

2:00 – Back home again. Jeannie talks to Norm’s wife, Pat, about a tiller. They have one we can use. Norm can get me started right away. I meet him at one of their outbuildings. He’s still on the riding mower. As he gets off (very carefully, since he can’t walk very well anymore) he tells me that “you have to almost be an engineer to operate one of these things.” Apparently they can be tricky to steer. He shows me how to get the tiller running and how to operate it. Off I go.

2:30 – About three turns into the garden, a belt breaks on the tiller. Norm is out in the field again, so I decide to go back to mowing, too. I’ll deal with the tiller later. I have a big wheelbarrow-load full of clippings to dump first. We usually put them on a pile at the back of our property. As I dump the load, I see Norm mowing along the edge of the pond, maybe 200 yards away. As I start to turn around to go back, I see the mower crash down the steep bank of the pond and dump Norm into the water. This is followed by a mild but quite loud string of curses. After standing in shock for a few moments, I hop the fence and start to run.

When I arrived, Norm was standing about knee-deep in the water. “They told me I should be more careful,” he said. The mower was sitting a about a 60 degree angle on the bank, just above the water, so I was worried it could still tip over on top of him. So I waded in and offered a hand. Things were going well until one of Norm’s knees gave out and he fell backward into the water again. This time he was almost up to his chest.

2:45 – Eventually we managed to get out of the water and up the bank. Before Norm was even on his feet again, he said “we could probably pull it out with the tractor.” Images of both the tractor and the mower at the bottom of the pond filled my head.

3:00 – When we got back to the barn we found some chain and Norm fired up the tractor. Pat informed me that she had been telling him to slow down. He had also gotten the golf cart stuck in the other pond.

3:15 – Still soaking wet, we hitched up the mower. It took a little time, but that tractor is a good one. Out came the mower, leaking gas and missing a steering arm. I fished it out of the pond.

3:30 – Before we could turn around and tow the mower back to the barn, the tractor ran out of gas. Pat, who had come by to watch, sternly reminded Norm to “watch his language.” I offered to go to the gas station, and Norm suggested I get a new belt at the same time. Seemed like a good idea, so we drive back to my place on the cart to get the old belt for sizing.

3:45 – Now in dry boots, I made my way to Rural King to pick up the belt, then to the gas station.

4:30 – Back home, Norm is nowhere to be found. I dropped off the gas, then asked another neighbor, Mark, if he’s seen him. Mark said that he hadn’t. But he did offer to cut down a couple of mulberry trees that invaded our yard. Since I don’t have a chain saw, I gladly accepted. Jeannie started dinner. Norah had been busy watering the flowers her dress, so she was not wearing the same clothes she had on when I left.

4:45 – Dinner. Delicious Greek chicken gyros made from scratch.

5:00 – While washing my hands, I noticed that the bathroom window was broken. Odd, I thought. On closer inspection, it appeared that a rock had hit it. I remembered the gravel incident from the morning and decided to check the other window on the same wall. Outer pane shattered.

5:15 – Still can’t find Norm. So I put the new belt on the tiller. While doing this, I first hear Mark yelling at his Doberman. “Izzy, come back here!” It’s a familiar sound. About ten minutes later, another neighborhood dog, a huge basset hound named Fred, goes running by. I found out later that he had broken his collar. By the time the belt is on, all dogs are caught and accounted for.

6:00 – I finished the tilling and drove the old machine back to the outbuilding. Still no Norm. But his clothes were hanging on the line.

6:15 – Upon arriving back home, Jeannie informed me that there were also a half dozen holes in our siding. It looks like someone sprayed the side of the house with a machine gun. “Poor Norm” she said. “He doesn’t even know how bad his day was.” This is also when I found out that the golf cart incident had happened early this same morning.

6:30 – We see Mark outside again and walk over to thank him for cutting down the trees. “I’ve told him to stay away from that edge” he told us more than once.

6:45 – We heard the tractor start up again. Off in the distance we could see both Norm and Pat, and I was worried they were going to try to hook up and tow the mower themselves. Thankfully they just brought the tractor back to the house.

7:15 – Norah goes down. Showers.

8:30 – Bed.

8:31 – Sleep.

The End