Reel Mowing

When my Mom was alive she couldn’t mow the lawn and wanted to get rid of the old behemoth electric mower we had. She found a great gardener who was only charging $15 and he’s come and mow the lawn every other week. Then his prices started to go up until they were $30 each time and he’s only show up sometimes once a month. He wasn’t really doing anything else like fertilizing the lawn so there were weeds taking over and we decided to make a change.

I had used the old electric mower, but hated having to deal with the bag after wards and the fact that a lot never made it into the bag and sprayed all over the sidewalk. I had read up on reel mowers and found that if you mowed and just left the cut grass on your grass that it would break down adding more nitrogen to your soil meaning less fertilizer which is one of the things grass needs the most. So we went ahead and plunked down $60 on a low end reel mower by American Lawnmowers. From the reviews they said that if  you have anything growing too tall it won’t cut them and they were right. We have several weeds that are about 8″ long that just got pushed over and not cut so I had to pull those by hand.

We also had some other flat weeds that were the type that you could grab the weeds in hand and twist them around and get the root out. I did that first before starting to mow. Well I have to say that after smoothing out the piles of dirt the gophers dug up and pulling the weeds my wife estimated that it should take me about a half hour. When she says a half hour she always undercuts it expecting me to take longer so she can come out and ask me what I’m doing out there [Kind of like your Mom when you’re a teenager int he bathroom for too long].

Total time was less than 15 minutes and I actually felt a bit of a burn in my arms afterwards and was a little out of breath. Remember, I’m not an athlete and typically work desk jobs so this was a good work out for me. The results weren’t the best, but at the same time the lawn is studded with all kinds of grasses since the sod that was originally laid down wasn’t top shelf stuff and our neighbors have let their lawn turn into a veritable weed factory next door, but I’m suspecting with a little weed and feed and continued effort that within a month things will be looking better. from my research the grass we have is fescue and other cool weather grasses so we should let it grow to about 3″ before cutting it and cut it down to about 2″.  I was a little quick on the cut this time because while there were sections that were 3″, there was a lot that were barely an inch.

Reel mowers are not not known for doing edging very well, but we don’t have a fence on any sides and only have a bout 2′ of brick wall that makes it difficult so that wasn’t really a problem. I found that if I started cross ways and then when lengthwise it was easier, but I think next time I’m going to do cross and lengthwise  all the way across. I’ll get a better work out and then maybe I can pull out an old chaise lounge and a cooler full of beer and sit and talk with the neighbors about our front yard gardening. I also noticed last night that our automatic sprinklers had some wrong heads installed. There are wide and thin shot heads and with our lawn they could have been wide shots installed in the corners instead of wide on the sides and shorts on the ends. I’m going to have to make a trip down to Urban Gardeners nearby and ask them how to fix this since I don’t want to tear up the whole lawn and put new sod down and re-do the sprinkler system. While I can do simple plumbing, when plumbing and landscaping come together count me out.

Healthy San Francisco

Gavin Newson was loved and then hated after he left, but I have to admit that I approve of one thing he did — Healthy San Francisco. I was wary at first because it started by only serving the residents of Chinatown and then moved out into the Mission, but now it includes Brown and Toland which is an excellent health care facility that has several locations around the city and has saved my life a couple of times.

Because of that I have what is called a pre-existing condition. Most people in the 40’s do and because of that when you need to buy health insurance for yourself you usually get turned down or you are offered a plan at a grossly inflated rate. Because of this I applied and was given the San Francisco Health Plan which is a part of Healthy San Francisco. While it turns out that I can’t keep the same doctor I had with Brown and Toland I did get a very well respected doctor who’s right around the corner from him and I have zero co-pay on my visits.

I had a job once where the owner of the company called health insurance a crap shoot. Maybe you’ll need it, maybe you won’t. Nowadays from my experience when you are approaching your 40’s something starts to go wrong with you and you’ll need some kind of medication. Your blood pressure goes up, your cholesterol goes hay-wire. It’s not a crap shoot, but a necessity. You’ll need it and as you get older you’ll need it more. It kind of sucks to get old even though you can be more active as you’re older.

Healthy San Francisco is a good thing. Our insurance prior to being accepted would be costing us around $1500/month and even my doctor’s jaw dropped at that. That doesn’t include co-pays and medications, etc. Incidentally if you are on any forms of generic medications I highly recommend you look into Walgreen’s plan that for $35/year will give your family access to more than 400 generic meds for $12 for three months. It’s a great deal during these times.

Speaking of which, with the economy slowly coming back I’m seeing more part-time work than full time because it’s cheaper to pay two people to do one person’s job than it is to pay one person with benefits and it gives you them a run around the city’s law that employer’s have to provide health benefits. I am at least seeing more jobs offering benefits in San Francisco now and that’s a good thing. I do miss my old doctor, but once I get a job that offers real benefits I’ll transition back to him. The funny thing is that most of the benefits I’ve had in the past have had deductibles on the medications before you started getting them cheaper. One of the medications I take that is widely prescribed costs $120 until you’ve reached the deductible and then it drops down to $30. With the San Francisco Health Plan it’s free. Now if my doctor could add himself to the San Francisco Health Plan I’d be in a perfect world for my health.