Random Post

Sep 18, 2012

A Mowing Veteran Retires

This year I retired from a nonconsecutive five- or six- (I still can't really narrow it down) -year seasonal summer mowing job, and I consider it the end of a large aspect of my life. Besides my two-year Brazil trip, every summer I can remember since becoming a teen was spent around lawnmowers. The pleasantly warm sun, the smell of motor oil and the fresh, dry Idaho air are things that I'm definitely going to miss, and I think my entire experience is something that deserves a nostalgic flashback.

I began working for an Idaho business my grandfather started when I was in junior high school. At first I mostly just did odd jobs—inventory, sweeping, vacuuming, and my least favorite, washing fixed lawnmowers with a pressure washer. I remember walking two blocks after school to the shop, donning a stained blue jumpsuit, and heading out back to the Hotsy washer and the endless row of dirty lawnmowers. I would jack up the mower decks, and the washing would begin. Washing lawnmowers definitely is not a cakewalk. It's more like a poopwalk. The green gunk that comes splurching and plapping off of the crusted mower blades has the tendency to accumulate around the washing area. Once it has sat in the sun for a few days, it has externally gone through the stages that an average cowpie would—Chewed up grass mixed with water and digested with soft, slow heat and whatever enzymes care to stop by. But it was a job, and it helped me learn the value of work. It also helped me look forward to the next "level" of work at the shop: mowing!

I can remember my first summer mowing only vaguely. The common mower-operating mistakes I see others do today were a problem for me. The awesomeness of a zero-turn radius 72" Toro Z Master 6000 dazzled me after using a push-mower during my pre-teen chore phase. But once I got used to it, the Z became like a second body for me. I could tell whether I could fit into certain spaces, turn and maneuver with effortlessness, and sit comfortably for hours on ball fields. And after the work was done, there was a satisfying work of art to admire every week.

There's something special about waking up early on a summer morning, and spending the sunny hours sitting on a humming Z. The sound of the engine was soon replaced by thoughts of life, nature and time; the smells of dew, freshly cut grass, and motor oil mixed to form a medley only the summertime could produce; and my eyes were presented with all the color green they could eat. I would often take a pocketful of BottleCaps to suck on, since I discovered they're the only candy that didn't coat my tongue. The mower was also the ideal environment to snack on BBQ-style Spitz sunflower seeds, and spit the shells anywhere I pleased. I also found out that, after I got tired of listening to music on my iPod, the mower was the perfect place to listen to audiobooks. I would go through a book every two days; the Harry Potter series took me two weeks. I listened to books by Dan Brown, Terry Pratchett, Suzanne Collins and Orson Scott Card. I would look forward to going to work just for the time to think and read, and get paid for it! When my sources of audiobooks were exhausted, I turned to podcasts—old radio dramas of the 40's and 50's, science and history shows, and hilarious radio trivia broadcasts. I would distract myself from my physical exhaustion with mental stimulation. Mowing was a treat.

Eventually, the season would end, and I would be ready for another year of school. But always, after the snow came, I would find myself longing for the color green; the hot, dry sun; and the smell of motor oil again. Despite being retired, it still feels like I'll be returning to mowing again next summer. It hasn't dawned on my mind that the yearly routine has finally ended. Whatever internships or jobs I find myself in in the summers to come, I'll always have a part in my soul that feels like something is missing—Like a season-long holiday that is no longer celebrated. Whether I get the same satisfaction from mowing my own lawn years from now or not, I will always be grateful for the hours I spent thinking about the mystery of time, the comfort of nature, and the beauty of life.

Sep 13, 2012

Abelhawk's Story sample

I have finally decided to defeat my year-and-a-half long Writer's Block phase with a new goal: Writing 300 or more words per day, 5 days a week! So hopefully at least some unfinished material will start showing itself on the blog soon. For now, here's something I wrote in high school—the actual story I had planned for my made-up character Abelhawk himself. It's based in the world of Argaenothruzil, which, now I come to think of it, I should probably be explained here on the blog for easy access. Anyway, there's so little written on this story so far none of that should bother you.

by Austin Ballard

Sep 11, 2012

I want to make more webcomics.

I decided to give all of you the benefit of seeing something like this a day or so before I post it on Facebook. n_n