Sweat Equity

I spent my weekend in the Quad Cities helping my brother Keith move. There were two reasons for this: 1) I have the only pickup in the family, so I get to be the hero whenever anyone needs anything large moved, and 2) in return for my labors I got to bring home Dad’s old John Deere 214 lawn tractor. Keith got the tractor when my parents moved off their farm three years ago, but now that he’s moving, he no longer needs the tractor, so I get it. This is nice because our yard is large (not as large as Keith’s was, but oh well) and while one adult is mowing with the rider out front, the other can mow the backyard with the pushmower. Why not use the rider in the back? Simple: it won’t fit through the gate.

Anyway. It was a long, tough weekend of work. The heat was the worst. Within ten minutes of being outside, you were already soaked with sweat. And most of the work was done outside. Vehicles had to be loaded, stuff in the garage still needed to be packed, the tractor (as a final insult to my long-suffering brother) had to have an innertube replaced, and the 1948 Ford that Keith is trying to restore had to be loaded on a trailer for transport. (That’s what the pickup was for.) Then all the stuff had to be taken over to my Mom’s (another long-suffering individual) and unpacked into her garage. Keith and his lovely missus-to-be Cindy will close on their new house July 12, so that following weekend I’ll go down again to help pick it all back up and haul it over there. I hope the weather is cooler.

On a lighter note, my other brother Bob and his wife Angie were in the Quad Cities, too, so Bob could participate in a time-trial style bicycle race in Barstow, IL. (As a side note, since he was there, I gave him a bunch of furniture to take to his daughter, a.k.a. my niece, in Cincinnati, OH.) But I digress. Bob wanted to have a competitive edge in the race, so I made him a “cooling vest” to wear whilst he warmed up his legs. It’s kinda complicated, but the idea is to keep the chest cool while warming the legs so you don’t heat up too fast in the race and you have more endurance, or something like that. Apparently, Nike made a sophisticated cooling vest for Lance Armstrong, but we don’t have that kind of money, so I made one for Bob using an old life vest, a bunch of flexible ice packs, and the handyman’s secret weapon (duct tape). It was a sight to behold – so much so that I made a sign for the top of the cooler that he kept the vest in. The sign said, “This vest brought to you by Hentrich Engineering. Motto: Don’t ask, we don’t want to explain it.” Bob got a good laugh out of that, and also out of the Emergency Vest Repair Kit: a ziploc bag with a roll of duct tape and a roll of black electrical tape. But the vest did its job, and Bob won the silver medal in his age group. (Yeaaaa! Whoo-hoo!!) There were, however, a few people who griped that Bob was being “unfair” by using the vest. To them I say, “Oh, huh-Waaaah!” (insert raspberry here). Yeesh.

Meanwhile, back here it Atkins, the tractor is now unloaded off the pickup and has been taken for a test drive around the yard. I’ll have to do some rearranging in our garage to make everything fit nice, but in the meantime we’ll park the Deere between the vehicles and just back one out when we want to mow. This is not a problem. And a nice side benefit?……

…I can eat chocolate as I mow.

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