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Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Rose

I have spent this Sunday afternoon in the barn, disassembling a Husqvarna 7.75 horsepower mower that wouldn't start at the worst time --time to make firebreaks on a dehydrated prairie in California. Machine's only 2 years old and I'm danged if I'm going to call in the 3-year warranty because...because, well, I'm a guy and we don't do that. Guys fix things, even if it takes all afternoon and turns out to be a bit of crud in the carburetor pilot valve. Runs fine now but it's too late to do any mowing. Warranty...Horsefeathers!...that'd be like asking us to use coupons at the grocery store. So, somewhere between 3 pm, when I was weeping softly over stray parts and disintegrating gaskets, and 5 pm, when I pulled the cord and the engine started right up and purred, I thought of Tex and Rosie. I wrote about them and the Driscolls 3 years back and decided to put my tools and chemicals away, relax with a glass or three of good cabernet and repost The Rose.


The rose is a very dramatic flower.
 There, I've said it! And I am still a man.

I am a typical American of my time, who grew up watching oaters on UHF (ultra high fructose) TV stations full of strong, silent role models. Drama was left to the female lead, whose difficult job it was to elicit heartfelt responses from Gary-Cooper-quiet heroes who often really were Gary Cooper. It went like this:

Rose: Don't go, Tex, oh don't go.

Tex: Gots to go, Rosie.

Rose: But the Driscoll gang'll get you.

Tex: Mehbee...

I should mention here that bad-guys were pretty much always Driscolls in old westerns, and the most repeated line was,"C'mon out, Driscoll!" Then you'd get 15 minutes of bullets ricocheting off a big rock in the dusty yard of a clapboard cabin. My theory is these scenes have historical root in a real Driscoll family that conducted a similar argument in Ogle County, Illinois, in the 1840s. It is a cautionary tale, like the Bible's story of Rebekah's contentious twins, of what can happen when family counseling is delayed.

Tex:....mehbee not.

Rose: But Tex, I...I love you, you big galoot.

Tex: Aw, Rosie.

Rose: Just come back to me.

Tex: Aw Rosie. Yuh give me the goldurned emotions!

Tex rides away, of course. Rose clasps her little fists under her quivering chin and walks back to the one-room school house --Rose is always the schoolmarm. We follow Tex into a chaotic universe, but Goethe and Rollo May have assured us nature throws its assisting forces behind the individual who begins a constructive cycle. Tex enters the fray, same fray I saw in most every western that raised me, and brings himself back. We're not so sure his methods were suitable for a general American, or global, rosy future, but he won and he's a hero. I'm a little male kid and think, "Wow, we're not so different: he puts his hat on one leg at a time, just like me!"

The rose is a beautiful, dramatic flower. But beauty and drama can cover the secret, injurious nature of reality. The hero is quiet, strong, possessed of an uncomplicated mind, a mind in which secrets are safe. But what can be more dangerous than what we withhold from each other --perhaps secrets the mind keeps from itself? Ooh ooh! He's riding back up to the school house. Rosie runs out. They share a long mindless period of eye-contact.

Tex: Aw, I reckon I love you too.

Now what was I thinking about drama, vigilantism, morality and the mind? I forget.

24 comments:

  1. Husky makes lawnmowers?? I thought they were just motorcycles. In a minor folly I bought a 450cc off road husky in '75, damn near killed myself in the 6 months before the wife sold it.
    I had no idea there was a link betwixt flowers and the relative masculinity index. If you like, say, baby's breath, where does that put one on the RMI? I'm partial to morning glories, if you're interested.....
    cheers

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    1. For me it was a Honda CL 360 I rode to work, rain, shine, dark or day for 3 years --our affordable 2nd transportation in the '70s. Honda makes lawnmowers too now. You sure there's an RMI? I like morning glories too.

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  2. I hear you. My father's lawn mower was waaaay past warranty stage. And a recalcitrant beast at best. One fraught Saturday in a fit of picque he hurled it into the fishpond.
    Removed it and spent the next three weeks working on it. It did run again. When it felt like it.
    He was also a lover of roses, of pussy-willow and of brightly coloured berries. And made an oyster look garrulous.
    Thanks for the reminders of this complicated man.

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    1. My pleasure and privilege, EC. At the risk of garrulating, I delight in the same flora and share his frustration with mowers. Unfortunately we have no fish pond but I often wish we lived near a ravine.

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  3. Once you finish drying the hard-held tears from your eyes with your undershirt and straighten your chaps on your head you will remember what points you were trying to make.

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    1. Emma, I guess main point was I gardened professionally over 30 years and rode every kind of machine, but this was the 1st time I had to stand on my head to pull a carburetor. It made me sore and unhappy.

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  4. My father was a mechanic who could make just about anything with a motor run, but, when it came to doing other kinds of repairs on them, resorted to wire and duct tape. I guess we all have our specialties.

    Beautiful picture of the roses.

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    1. I understand completely. We men are very simple mechanisms ourselves and do not bother overmuch with devices beyond primary motive force and responsive brakes. Wire and duct tape are dedicated to peripheral concerns.

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  5. I can strongly identify with your opening paragraph, Geo - except that, after spending all day "fixing" a contraption, when I finally pull the cord it still doesn't work.

    I fondly remember the saga of Rose and Tex and I'm glad you posted it again (it confirms the fact that I'm not losing my memory).
    As for flowers: my outward facade is more like a prickly pear cactus, but I have the soul of a gardenia.

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    1. Ah Jon, I admit, when field repairs were part of my daily job I had such confidence in the results. Now I worry that I've forgotten something or luck is somehow involved. I thought my skills would extend into retirement, and they have in theory, but my nerve is shot. These new machines are made of plastic and snot --gone is stamped steel and serviceable ports. Not the best of times for us gardenia-souls.

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  6. I like to tell myself that if I use local artisans to keep our mechanised equipment running, I am making a useful contribution to the local economy. As I say, I like to tell myself that....

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    1. I will practice that excellent bit of autosuggestion until I get it right.

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  7. They must have put one of their sewing machine motors in the dang thing.

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    1. Not sure when Husqvarna yielded to complaints about gasoline-powered sewing machines and went electric but suspect you're right.

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  8. Geo
    I am so glad you reposted the story of Tex and Rosie ... I so, so enjoyed it!
    And I am glad your mower is up and working again ...yay!
    Oh, I like Norma's photo .. I love rose's !

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    1. Aw Margie, you give me the goldurned emotions. Glad you enjoyed post and will pass compliment along to photographer. Thanks!

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  9. You did to the carb crud what the Driscolls may have designed to do to the good sheriff or marshal, but the white hats usually win. The rose is gorgeous!

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    1. I wore my old Tilley hat that used to be almost white and believe it helped with the repair. The rose is called "Candelabra", a favorite.

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  10. I had to laugh at your lawnmower story as this mimicked a scene a week ago in my house. After trying for hours to fix something, I "suggested" to hubby that maybe help was needed. He "insisted" that he could handle it so I left him alone for an hour or so. When I checked on him later and he was more sweaty and red faced, I again "suggested" that he call for help. A "discussion" followed and I gave up but he stayed the course. The next day he told me the problem was fixed, I told him, great, he did a good job, and he walked away smiling. I know not to tread on a manly man's ego, so this time I kept my real thoughts to myself. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, and leave us Roses to worry.

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    1. Thanks, Arleen, for the supportive anecdote --but guys do worry hugely while trying to make sense out of malfunctions, fixing things. We try not to show it. Lately, though, I've had trouble hiding the worry-part, which is also worrying. It's that "great job" and beloved's smile makes it worthwhile.

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  11. Dear Geo.,
    first: I love (as I have already mentioned, I think) tales that contain barns or sheds - the male's last retreat in the Western World.
    I have a Husqvarna too, but it is - gender-orientated? - a sewing machine - a Porsche among the sewing machines, and I haven't used it very much, I have to confess, though I know how to sew. As to guarantees: mine are always 'just' expired when I need them, or I am too lazy to write & fight. So: very impressing that you do the repair yourself!
    And now to the dramatical rose: I love it! Western are (contrary to husband) not my genre - but I have seen a few, of course, and I see their plot in a nutshell above :-) Beautiful Gary Cooper, silent strong men, little helpless women (though I always liked the tough girls in the saloon more).

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    1. Dear Brigitta, So glad you enjoyed The Rose. If Husqvarna makes motorcycles, and joined Honda in making mower engines, perhaps Porsche will make sewing machines by and by. As to the barn, my wife and I have divided it into two workshops and share it equally --but I'm the one who built the barn 30 years ago...where did I find the energy?

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  12. Lawnmowers and love....heaven. "--perhaps secrets the mind keeps from itself?" struck something deep within me....I've been avoiding mirrors for some time now. And you built a barn? A rare line on any resume....

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    1. Kind Chantel, barn was a necessity; we had no storage when we moved out here, and a learning experience --a sort of Gots-to-build-it-Rosie situation.

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