Tool-Belt Diva

Category: Blog

I never thought of myself as a tool-belt diva.  And then my husband mentioned the miracle of home leaf blowers, and I was a woman on a mission. I had recently added a forty-foot outdoor living room to our townhouse in Brentwood.  During the six weeks of construction – building a variegated bluestone terrace, installing drainage, a drip irrigation system, and a granite helix fountain with a catch basin of blue-green Mexican rocks – I would periodically marvel at the skill of the workmen with their saws, trowels, jackhammers, levelers, and muscles. I was giddy as the trucks rolled up to our front door every morning – it was a real male beehive of activity.  The patio exceeded my expectations – Shangri-la in Brentwood. 

on a mission

And then the trouble started.  The twenty-foot bamboo trees shed their leaves onto the patio and into the catch basin; they tangled themselves in the succulents, and blanketed the chaise lounges, coffee table, and love seat.  Every morning, I’d go out on my patio, dust off the furniture, sweep the leaves off the hardscape, and painstakingly pick out the leaves that had landed in the catch basin.  If we had had a windy night, there was a real mess.  Sometimes, I’d be out there for an hour, shuffling around in my bathrobe and slippers, praying that my next door neighbors would not catch a glimpse of me unprepared to “receive guests” as my grandmother would say. 

My husband, who has an enviable collection of man tools (a hedge trimmer, work light, and power saw), mentioned the convenience of a leaf blower.  “You know,” he said, “it would be a real time saver. And it’s pretty easy to use.”

Home Improvement outlet

I drove to the nearest home improvement outlet at 8:30 in the morning, figuring that there would be nobody there.  But do-it-yourselfers were already lined up at the cash register.  I headed for the garden section, aisle 9, and there they were – a world of leaf blowers with features like retractable extension cords and vacuum bags.  I grabbed two that looked “plain vanilla” since my aptitude for anything mechanical stops at “Turn switch on and you’re ready to go.”  Manuals are for other people.  I don’t read manuals, although I do pay attention to warning tags on hairdryers that read “Keep away from water.  Risk of electrocution.” 

I asked the hovering salesman what was the difference between the two blowers. “Brand.”  I was impressed with his honesty, and he clearly recognized a first-timer.

“Do I need an extension cord?”

“Yes ma’am.” 

“Well, could you help me?”  And it was a good thing that I asked because I did not realize that my blower required a two-pronged extension cord, not a three-pronger. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude – I wouldn’t have to return the extension cord.  I was on my way to a leaf-free patio.

At the checkout counter, I got the “Have a nice day,” and I lilted, “You bet.”  I felt like I had just returned from a safari and had bagged one of the big five – the African elephant, cape buffalo, lion, rhino, or leopard.  Watch out, Ernest Hemingway.

Figuring it out

I got home, opened the box, inserted the nozzle into the chassis, unwound the orange extension cord, plugged it into the blower and into the electrical outlet, turned on the switch and went to work.  I felt like Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Alien, brandishing her weapon against the mother lode of monsters.  Bamboo leaves were flying everywhere; they had no place to hide against the sheer power of this machine, my machine.  In minutes, I had cleared the patio of the offending detritus.

That night, my husband asked me, “Do you have a system? I mean, where do you start so that you are not just blowing leaves back and forth?”  I hadn’t thought of that, but as a newly minted tool-belt diva, I’ll figure it out.  And without the help of a man or a manual.