When Chelsea and I first moved in together, there was one glaring difference…our long-term philosophies. When it came to getting tools, furniture, electronics or other “higher budget items,” it became apparent that the bull within me would dominate the fox in Chelsea. While she enjoyed craftily finding discounts or great deals, I followed reputation and pure quality. This, in turn, eventually led to a point of contention. Cost.
When I was young, I was fortunate to come from a solid home. My father grew up without a dad and made sure he was there to be my dad, teacher and mentor. I was also lucky to have my maternal grandfather, Papa, as an elder male figure along the way.
It’s a funny thing, but in talking about what makes an impact on your life, the young remember so many things growing up that the old never expected would have been caught in the snares of a youthful consciousness. I can still remember Papa’s face when he walked out front of his late 80’s suburban Chino home to find his oldest grandson attempting to chop down the city’s black plum tree with his claw hammer. All I knew was, I never wanted to see him upset again. I’m pretty sure I killed that tree as I slammed my way about two inches into its five inch diameter mass. The only thought in my mind at the time was, “Oh boy, I’m doing it…hit harder!” Actually kind of impressive for a four year old.
I’d learn many more lessons from Papa over the years, not the least of which was “measure twice, cut once.” And there was my father with his insights such as, “Take care of your tools and they will take care of you” and “You get what you pay for.” I bet some of my dad’s knowledge was acquired from Papa, as they met when my father started dating my mother at 16. The philosophies run pretty parallel.
And so, as the fiscally savvy Chelsea would find “great deals,” I had to teach her to look past the mere smoke and mirrors of a dollar sign and pay attention to the details. Materials, desired longevity, warranty, and reputation were the code that needed to be deciphered to find what was king. Quality.
Fortunately, Chelsea started to see and learn first-hand relatively quickly. You see, she was the sole female living with three 300-pound UCLA offensive linemen. Three aluminum futons in one month later, a lightbulb I’d been trying to illuminate in her mind finally clicked on. Materials mattered. She thought these items would last years. They didn’t make it a week. Luckily, even though the store couldn’t believe that anything smaller than bulls were romping on their furniture, they had a guarantee and had to replace them. Over and over and over again.
Fast forward eight years or so. We have our own home on a three acre property with plenty of work for me to do in the field. My parents established their first home with their own orchard to maintain just five minutes away. Out of the suburbs and into the country life for us. The only minor set back has been a serious amount of field work to do ourselves, what with the absence of an HOA. But my father and I love getting our hands dirty.
Moving here, we needed new equipment we had not needed in some time. One thing we had to do was get a grasp on what had to be done and – like a blue collar doctor – prescribe the appropriate tools. Southern California has four seasons: spring, summer, fire, and colder summer with a chance of rain.
The first issues which needed to be addressed were the fire hazards. Ever since I was a little boy living in southern Washington, I knew one brand to be the master of the field power tools. STIHL.
When I was a kid my family would go every 4th of July and watch the logging shows at the lake park in the center of town. Without fail, every year, 98% of all saws would be STIHL. It was like a common language among woodsmen. Orange and silver were the colors of fashion there. Even major landscaping crews knew this language and trusted their jobs to the same reliability of STIHL.
And so, Chelsea only faintly grimaced when I told her I’d be investing in my first STIHL weed and brush trimmer. I came home with the STIHL FS250 R, and I got exactly what I paid for. A top of the line, high end, long lasting cutting monster. Come to think of it, it worked well with my personality. And so, I set about cutting down three acres of brush left behind by years of neglect. Eventually, STIHL and I tamed most of my field and now we have a pretty property to really set our own personalities to.
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