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‘Empty Ness Monster’

Published: Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 10:07 a.m. CDT

For the first time in my life, I mowed my grass in December. I couldn’t believe it. It’s been so warm, and the grass was so green, it just kept right on growing. I’m glad I didn’t take the mower deck off the lawn tractor and put on the snow blade, which I usually do around Thanksgiving.

I was a little irritated at having to mow the grass again, but I guess it’s better than the alternative — a foot of snow on the ground (although we need the moisture). My plans were to work on my newest creation, the Empty Ness Monster. 

You’ve heard of the Loch Ness Monster? Well, this is the Empty Ness Monster. 

Mary gave me the idea of cutting up an old steel tractor wheel — the kind with those steel cleats — and make the sections look like the back of a sea monster rippling through the water. Cool idea. Mary is the inspiration behind a lot of my creations.

After mowing, I moved this big heavy steel tractor wheel into my garage and proceeded to cut it into three sections with the plasma cutter. Everything was moving along swimmingly when the plasma cutter quit right in the middle of a cut. 

I couldn’t figure what the heck was wrong, but I narrowed it down to a faulty starter in the cutting tip. This meant I had to make a trip to another town to a welding shop for a new starter. My irritation was growing exponentially. There are two guys who work at this welding shop: one I like a lot and the other I can barely tolerate. The one I like has been no end of assistance to me with advice and patience when it comes to my inexperience in the cutting and welding field. 

The one I can barely tolerate is a large man, and loud. I have a hard enough time with small loud men, but a large loud man really trips my ire.

I checked my watch. I would be arriving at the welding shop over the lunch hour, which meant my likable guy might not be there. I made up my mind that if the large loud guy gave me any trouble, I was going to tell him to shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. Sure enough, the large loud man was tending shop when I arrived. I could see him eying me from behind his computer. I found the starter I was looking for and went up to the desk to pay for it. 

The large loud man acted like it was a real inconvenience to pry himself loose from behind the desk. He snatched the starter from my hand and proceeded to punch numbers into the computer. I heard him cussing under his breath. I prepared myself for the onslaught. He threw the starter back on the counter.

“I have good news and bad news,” he shouted. “The bad news is that the starter costs 30 bucks. The good news is that it doesn’t show on inventory, and I’m in no mood to fiddle with it. You can have it. Merry Christmas. Go have yourself a good lunch.”

My jaw hit the counter. Shows to go me. Never A-S-S-U-M-E anything. Because it makes A you-know-what out of U and ME.

I went home and replaced the starter in the cutter tip. The plasma cutter still didn’t work. It turned out that I had a problem with a ground on the old rusty steel. Ground is ground the world round, you know. It’s a good thing I didn’t have to pay for the starter. My Empty Ness Monster looks pretty cool. In fact, it’s my favorite creation to date.

And yes, I did get the snow blade on the tractor in time for “Draco” (When did they start naming snowstorms?). The Empty Ness Monster looks even better in the snow.

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