Dad came over Saturday, the last weekend of summer, to help with my snow blower. My snow blower. I can’t afford such luxuries. When he sold his house to move in with his new wife, he parceled out multiple unneeded belongings. I live in the country with a long driveway, so I ended up with the snow blower. For free. I’m grateful.
Not as useful a device as would seem, though. It’s heavy, and my driveway faces an incline to the road. Even with the tires driving, getting this machine up to the road (I don’t even try to park at the bottom of the drive during winter) is quite a task. Just shoveling is often easier. However, at the end of last winter, snow fell and fell and fell, a few feet each day. Time for the snow blower—but it wouldn’t start, even after heroic efforts.
This is too great a waste of expensive machinery, so when my niece and nephew cancelled a “grandfather” project over schoolwork concerns, Dad suggested coming out to my place to help.
I accepted. Not lightly. Dad takes over. This would mean all day Saturday. He’s retired. I’m buried in career issues. Still, I can’t fix it, he might be able to fix it (he’s much more of a mechanic than I), and it needs fixing. He’s trying to balance out the grandfatherly attention my siblings’ families receive, but nonetheless, admittedly, damn nice of him.
Dad considers this a mission. Early in the morning, he calls—needs the make, model, engine number and so forth. He’s on his way to purchase spark plug, new oil, and garnish whatever information he can at the shops along the way. I find the information, and go run my own errands.
Early afternoon, he’s here. I’m ready—snow blower outside, cord ready for electronic start. I don’t do any of the usual things I’d do for such a favor—food and drink ready, for example—because I know he’ll disregard all of them. He’ll disregard everything. For example, when he asks if I have a certain size screw on hand, I offer to run to the store. No. We make do. I don’t know why. He always does this—along with recommending later that I go get that size screw.
Early on, I get stung by a wasp. First damn time all year. I’m pissed. Right in the back of the neck. Can’t see it, of course. But Dad’s here. If I can find tweezers. I have them. Can’t find them. We go to the store—he wants to talk to the snow blower repair guy anyway. We have just enough time before they close. He ends up with carburetor cleaner. I end up with “After Bite.” When I finally get tweezers, I’m too swollen to find the stinger. I’m pissed. I hold my tongue.
He’s absorbed with the snow blower, sounding like he’s talking to me, but really not. “I’m going to go cut some grass while you do this, OK?” I ask. “Go ahead,” he nods, barely noticing.
I cut grass. After a bit, I hear snow blower over the sound of the lawn mower. Dad’s still engaged. I keep mowing for a while. Eventually, I cut the engine and mosey over.
“Well, we’ve got it running,” Dad notes, “but it’s running hot. That bolt just shot out of the exhaust.” I look—a six inch lies in a black line on the grass. “It was glowing,” Dad adds. I notice my normally gregarious dog has moved from her favorite spot near where Dad is working to the opposite end of my yard. Smart dog.
I leave Dad to puzzle it out, and return to mowing. Eventually, I hear the snow blower start again. I keep mowing. Again, eventually, I mosey over. Oil everywhere. Still runs hot. Dad is stymied. “Soon as it starts,” he notes, “when you turn the choke, it just runs fast!” I look. “What if you don’t turn the choke all the way to the left?” I ask. Dad considers. He tries it. The machine runs roughly, but without glowing parts threatening to blow up the engine.
I ask if he can change the oil while he’s at it, knowing he’ll actually welcome this. He asks if I have a pan to catch the oil. I find one. He changes the oil, and spends a long time spraying every moving part with WD-40, whipping and cleaning everything possible, leaving everything in as good a shape as possible.