Sometimes when I'm stumped, I'll step away from the problem for a while and then return with my jaw set and get-er-done. But sometimes you have to know when to throw in the towel.
Maybe a little history is in order here. You may recall a while back in one of my columns I lamented that every mechanical device I owned was having problems —my truck, Jilda's Volvo, the lawnmower and my trusty old tiller.
I took them one at a time and either repaired, or had them repaired....all except the tiller.
The old beast was built when Jimmy Carter was in the White House and it's put together like a Sherman Tank.
In order to fix the problem, I had to totally disassemble it. It seemed each time I worked on it, the broker it got.
I thought I'd finally turned the curve with a resolution in sight, but then I broke a gear in the transmission. If I had any hair, I would have pulled it out at that point.
There are parts available for it, but finding them is like finding your car keys when you're running really late.
You know they're out there somewhere, but you can't lay your hands on them.
I came to a decision point — I could grow old working on the tiller, or I could swallow my pride and buy another one.
Meanwhile, the grass in the garden was thick enough to bale hay. So I did the only sensible thing — I looked on Craig's List for another tiller.
I found one about 40 miles north of here. The guy who owned it was a retired fireman who'd hurt his back and could no longer use the tiller.
I headed north through the rolling hills of central Alabama. I'd called for directions and fortunately the guy was very good because I drove directly to his house. The last few miles were on a dirt road with no name.
The moment I saw the tiller, I knew I'd buy it. It's like my old one except about 15 years newer.
He'd apparently kept it in his barn because all the original stickers and labels were still attached.
When he pulled the cord, it sprang to life.
I reached for my wallet, peeled off $300 and pushed the tiller onto my trailer.
This morning, after I'd written for a few hours, I stepped out to the shed and fired up the tiller.
I worked for an hour and tilled most of the weeds. I can now see our peas, squash, tomatoes and peppers.
I felt a little sad as I loaded up the pieces of my old tiller in the back of my truck and hauled it to the barn for storage.
On the upside, a lot of the parts from the old one will fit on the new one in the event it breaks down in the future.
I felt almost as if I were giving up on an old friend, but sometimes you have to know when to quit.