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Zen and the Art of Hand cart Maintenance

I have a small hand cart, usually called "a milk cart". It was a typical cart in Finnish farm houses and still widely used, as the model is very good for transporting all kind of things. Like hauling slender tree trunks for firewood, or fence posts to a summer pasture. Last summer both of the tyres went flat. When I was kid patching a bicycle tire was an easy task, so I thought I still remember how to do it. I started the work, but soon realized that both of the inner tubes are very old and damaged beyond repair. Even the markings on them were badly worn out, but I could barely tell that it said that they are of size 26". The next day I bought new inner tubes and one outer tire. The outer tire was fine, but both of the inner tubes I had bought were all too big to properly fit. I got a bit frustrated and installed the tubes anyway, altough it meant that the tires had a bumb.

The tires didn't last for a long, before the summer was over, both of the tires were flat again. I thought that it might be of no use to patch them, if they anyway don't fit properly. I remembered that a guy in the local bicycle shop had said that those old inch measurements aren't very accurate, and that it is better to rely on ISO-standard millimeter measurements. Well, the outer tire said 54-584. And those inner tubes I had previously bought also said 584. I was unsure, what if I don't just understand the system? Should I buy with the same number, or a smaller one? Or maybe the ones I bought were just somehow faulty, having a wrong number printed on them? So I bought an another pair of inner tubes from an another place, making sure that they have both 26" and 584 on them. And got the exactly same result; the tubes were all too big. I kind of a gave up - I felt that there is a problem, I have tried to solve it, but I fail and I don't feel like fighting it anymore.

So, for this whole summer I have been using the hand cart with flat tyres. It is heavier, and makes the cart less usefull for me. My rational mind knew that this is not a big problem to solve. But somehow I just felt that I don't have energy to face the problem - it felt easier just to accept the situation and go with the flat tyres. I think this is a typical example of what is left of my depression; tendency to give up, not even trying to solve small, everyday practical problems. Luckily enough this is not an overall feeling; I might be able to do a lot of things, solving bigger problems and getting things done. And there is something not so rational here; I feel that most of the time it is of no use if I just try to tell myself: "Now you go and solve this hand cart tyre issue - the flat tyres make your life harder, and it won't be a big thing to get them fixed!" - yes, I can think about that, I know that it would be very rational to do so, and I believe that I'm perfectly able to solve the problem in a way or another. Yet I fail to do so, I end up filling my days with doing other things, postponing the hand cart issue for later. I hear myself saying: "Yes, it is not a big deal. I'll take care of that later on when I have a bit more energy". And then weeks go by, the summer is already over and the tyres are as flat as they were a year ago.

I had planned to have this week as a holiday, all seven days of it. I had planned that when I have this autumn holiday I can go fishing, prepare my yard for the winter, and fix the hand cart tyres. But, for many different reasons I ended up taking reservations for four days. I was left with three free days, scattered along the week. Now did I say that I sometimes have problems with managing my timetables? Oh well. The first of my free days I spent doing nothing special, just relaxing. And that was so good. The next day I wrote up the size of the hand cart tyre and left for work. I had some time in between customers, so I stopped by at the local bicycle shop. I asked for a hand cart tyres, and browsed my phone for the note about the proper size. Before I could find the note, the guy said: "A milk cart tyres? 54-584". I told him that I had previosly bought inner tubes which said that they would fit 584 tyre but they didn't. He confirmed that, saying that different companies have slightly different ways of marking their tubes, and that sometimes it is better to buy a slightly smaller one. And that was all what was needed to solve a problem which felt like impossible for me... Go ask a professional and you get an instant answer.

Yesterday evening I installed the brand new tubes which fit perfectly well. And I thought that the coming day I'll go haul some slender tree trunks which have been waiting for transportation since the winter... Well, today I first went to fetch straw and hay for my animals. And after that I noticed that pumpkins are starting to go bad. I had stored them in a cool and a dry place indoors, but since they were so many, I had just made a heap of them. Those parts which were in direct contact were getting soft, and I saw some mould growing in the softened areas. I realized that these pumpkins just can't wait anymore, so I spent the rest of the day handling them. I cut the bad parts away, and went outdoors to peel and slice the good parts. I took the biggest cauldron I have, putting the slices in there together with water. While I was doing the work it slowly got darker and darker, and finally I lit an oil lantern to see what I'm doing.

And that's why I won't post a picture of the hand cart.

peeling and slicing
peeling and slicing
pumpkins boiling
pumpkins boiling
working in the light of an oil lantern
working in the light of an oil lantern
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Haha, I've had similar problems with all my squash/pumpkins! They are mostly okay, but I check them every week to make sure none are going soft. I cut the bad bits out and use the rest for stew and soup. I've noticed making sure you get all of the stalk off the top of the pumpkin helps (its tricky, as they are woody and spikey) as that is where the mould seems to start to grow. That and wrapping them in old newspaper (just like you do with winter-apples.)

The hard frost began at the start of the month which killed off the last of my pumpkin plants, to be honest, I was surprised they lasted so long, the Summer was so good, our growing season has been especially warm but now it is just the kale and leeks that are growing, ready to be harvested in mid-winter. I do have a few miniture, half-grown pumpkins, now!

Wrapping pumpkins in old newspaper sounds like a good idea! Here the growing season is totally over, but there is not yet snow on the ground. Today I was raking my yard, making heaps of oak leaves so that the next spring I can plant new pumpkins on top of the heaps =)


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