Cider Press Hill

Blessed electricity

Wednesday, 6:09 pm

By Kate

Jan

31

2007

partly cloudy

A couple of days ago we were without power for several hours. Again. Then, yesterday, the power company called and said there would be a crew coming to the neighborhood to excavate soil around the neighborhood’s transformer because the current one had leaked something. She said oil, but I presume it must be something slightly more toxic than oil. Dunno, though. In any case, the woman said the power would be turned off in the neighborhood for about 6 hours, starting at 8:00 AM. And so it was.

I believe the electric company must have brought every piece of heavy equipment they owned. There were dump trucks and back hoes and vans and pick up trucks and a flatbed truck, and vehicles with flashing lights. And generators and assorted other very loud machines. The entire house vibrated.

Well, six hours came and went. The power was still off, the hole in the ground kept getting bigger and more dump trucks arrived. Then trucks with landscaping plants arrived to replace the ones they had to yank out of the ground. It was quite an impressive operation for a “little oil”. The day grew long in the tooth and then dark. I lit a bunch of candles again.

Finally, the power came back on at 6:28 PM. I was so thrilled that I turned on every light and danced a jig. Being without power may have a certain romance to it, if it doesn’t happen a couple of times a week, but today was pushing the limits of my tolerance. There really is only so much a person can do without power these days. And by 6:00 I was in a most foul mood as, I’m sure, the rest of the neighbors were who came home to freezing cold houses—or worse, the ones who work from home and lost a day. At least I had heat.

The crews ended up putting in another brand new transformer. The one they put in a couple of weeks ago was defective. It was a major production. I surely hope this transformer lasts. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had 19 hours of power outages and it’s wearing thin. I have a brand new appreciation for how dependent on electricity I am and how fractured daily life must be for people who have to go weeks or even months with spotty electricity (after an ice storm or in Baghdad, for example). It’s not fun.



 

Ouch!

Tuesday, 2:23 pm

By Kate

Jan

30

2007

sunny

This morning I scorched my thumb again. There’s a lovely little blister on the pad of my thumb after sticking my hand in the wood stove with my old work gloves, which I’ve worn out. That’s the third time in the last week that I’ve burned my fingers. The ring finger on my other hand also has a blister on it.


larger drop down image

These are the old leather and fabric pair. I’ve used them for about two years. They began life as garden gloves and turned into stacking wood gloves and sticking my hand in the hot stove gloves. They held up very well, but, as you can see, work gloves don’t live forever.

Sooo...I decided the time had come to track down a new pair of work gloves. In the middle of winter.

The supposition around here, at least, must be that women don’t require work gloves in the winter. Because I had a devil of a time trying to find any. None at the hardware stores nor at Walmart. The only true work gloves I could easily find were men’s work gloves. I could fit two pairs of my hands in those. Asking the help if there might be any smaller sizes available, the answer was no. Not yet. The garden gloves will be in stock in another month or so. But not yet.

Well, there you go. Women don’t do work in the winter around here, evidently.

Then I stopped at K-Mart. One of the clerks said there was a box of summer gardening odds and ends in the back of the store that might have a few pairs of garden gloves. She showed me where it was and I started digging around. Martha Stewart was well represented with a variety of fabric gloves, but wayyyy down in the bottom of the box I found a pair of sturdy Martha Stewart leather garden gloves. For a whole $4.00.


larger drop down image

As you can see, these probably weren’t meant for wood stove service. I’m sure the little plastic baubles would melt fairly quickly inside an 800° stove. So, I will cut off the ribbon and plastic thingamabobs. Then they’ll be quite adequate. The leather is thick and they’ll work nicely. Trouble is, they won’t be pretty for very long. But at $4, I feel much less sorry about that.

Still, I’d like to point out, it shouldn’t be so darned difficult to find women’s work gloves in the middle of winter. Or any other time, either.



 

Keeping quiet

Tuesday, 5:56 pm

By Kate

Jan

23

2007

overcast

Not that I probably need to say this...but I’m taking a few blogging days off. And as soon as I say that *officially* there will be a hundred thoughts that race through my mind that I am absolutely certain that I must blog. It’s a good way to get past the “I don’t have anything to say” hurdle. It’s a good way to see what filters to the top with some amount of urgency. In truth, my mind is never silent. But sometimes I need to keep quiet and let things percolate.

Meanwhile, I’ll turn the teevee on tonight and watch the wretch spew his state of the union address. Self-inflicted torture, no doubt, but I might as well see it live. I already have my collection of soft slippers and shoes lined up to throw at the television. 



 

Getting ready to go

Friday, 9:27 pm

By Kate

Jan

19

2007

partly cloudy

Things have been a little nuts around here the past week. We’re preparing the lad to return to school, which involves mountains of laundry and last minute shopping expeditions. I think we have finally crossed everything off our lists. Now it’s a matter of getting it all to fit in the car. And then...we’re off tomorrow morning.

Weather looks good for travel, so it’ll be a relaxed trip. Funny how I’m not counting the seconds the way I was for the last trip down there. All things considered, I’m not doing too badly. Maybe a little blue, but nothing like August. I think it will take a few days to get used to having the house very quiet again without having someone bursting through the door every 20 minutes. It *will* be nice to have my bathroom all to myself again. Still, it was nice having lots of activity in the house. I will miss that.

Well, here’s hoping I don’t turn into a basket case tomorrow. I don’t think I will, but you never know until…



 

Microfiber Cloths

Thursday, 5:23 pm

By Kate

Jan

18

2007

overcast

Sometimes being a cynic works against me. The corollary to that is—not everything advertised “as seen on TV” is a gimmick. For example, the amazing Microfiber Cloth.

The last couple of times I’ve been in the local CVS store, I’ve seen a display of Microfiber Cloths which are supposed to be the most amazing cleaning cloth ever made. They can be used wet or dry, depending on the situation. They are as absorbent as chamois. They don’t require expensive or polluting cleaning agents to make dirt disappear. Etc. I kind of figured anything that sounded too good to be true was probably too good to be true. And even at CVS’s tempting price of $1 per cloth, I didn’t bite.

Welll. Silly me. Somewhere along the line this past week, I read something on one of the environmental sites that I haunt. Can’t remember which one, but, anyway, the site praised these things to the skies. In their opinion, these cloths are...the best cleaning devices ever created.

So, last evening, I bought a pretty blue one for a measly $1. And brought it home and it sat on the table where I looked at it and still felt a trifle skeptical.

Last night the lad decided to make himself a snack of some fried eggs. And, typically, he left the stove splattered with grease. Ha, I thought. Here’s a good test of just how great this microfiber cloth is. I took it out of the bag and wiped up the grease splatters with the dry cloth. Seeing is believing. I turned on the brightest kitchen lights to see if my seeing was accurate. There wasn’t a lick of grease left and, not only that, there wasn’t a single streak on the stove. I stuck my finger under the faucet and rubbed it across the stove surface. Squeeeak. You can’t argue with squeaky clean.

I rinsed the cloth under hot water and decided to tackle the shiny stainless steel trash can. It always has finger prints on it and dog slobber where Terry rubs her nose against the sides. Usually, (no...always) I have to spray it down with Simple Green to loosen the dog nose gunk before I wash it down with a sponge. I applied the damp microfiber cloth to the lid and the sides and everything came right off. Not a fingerprint or spot was left behind. Absolutely gleaming without a streak anywhere.

I rinsed it out under hot water and noticed that the cloth looked as clean as when I took it out of the package. Dirt clearly does not soak into the cloth in the same way that it does a normal cotton rag. It rinses out. Then I washed down the microwave oven door and the oven door and the dishwasher door and the counter tops and...then the stainless steel sink. Holy cow. I washed all that and only rinsed out the cloth between scrubbings. Everything came out clean and without a streak. In fact, my sink was shinier than I’ve seen it in ages, despite daily cleaning with Simple Green and the dish brush. All by using this cloth and water. I was so excited I could hardly stand it.

Today I tried it on windows and I am even more astonished. Streakless, shiny windows without using any glass cleaner.

So, anyhoo. I did a Google search and found an explanation of the whys and wherefores of the microfiber cloth at Ecomall. I’m guessing that my microfiber cloth will have a relatively short life because it was cheap. I’m not sure how short a life, but even when it quits being effective as a microfiber cloth, it’ll still be fine as a general kitchen rag. In this case, apparently, you get what you pay for. More or less.

I also discovered that Parish Supply Company sells them ($2.09-$2.99 ea.) and they are graded for light or medium duty. The light duty ones can go through 500 hundred washings (in the washing machine) before they lose their effectiveness. For general household use, that would probably mean well over two year’s worth of quality use. The medium duty cloths are good for 1000 machine washes. That’s a long life without the need for all kinds of household chemicals.

Parish Supply company is located in Syracuse, New York. They’ve been around forever and I used to pick up items in the store when I lived there. They mostly cater to the maintenance and janitorial trade so they know their stuff. (They also have the best window squeegees you’ll ever use.) Their site also adds relevant info concerning the cloth’s qualities from effectiveness to the hygenic aspects. Good enough for hospitals and food service outfits is good enough for me.

I’m sold. I’m getting a couple more from Parish, specifically for the bathroom and for gunky cleanups (like dog nose gunk) and another for general household cleaning (like cleaning walls, woodwork, and windows). I can’t believe how well this thing works. Simply amazing.



 

Winter arrived

Tuesday, 3:52 pm

By Kate

Jan

16

2007

partly cloudy

Winter has arrived all of a sudden. The thermometer outside reads an even 22° and that’s definitely cold. The forecasters tell us that we’re in for harsh winter conditions for the rest of January and February. Well, we’ll see. Our first major winter storm is tentatively scheduled for this Friday. But it could blow out to sea. So, as with most nor’easters, we won’t know until it gets here. On Sunday or Monday we might have another storm. I may have to dodge snow flakes on the way back from Pennsylvania. I really hope not.

Just a few moments ago, I finally got another fire going in the stove. Before bed last night I packed it full of wood, let it reach a high burn, then shut the damper down. It’s kind of fun to watch. The gases burn in capricious patterns along the top of the firebox, while the wood merely glows. This morning the house was very warm, about 73° and it maintained the heat through the afternoon. I finally got in there a few minutes ago and dug up the buried coals and coaxed a small fire along with small wood. I don’t need a roaring fire yet, the house is warm enough and I don’t dare waste any wood. But I do need to keep coals alive until tonight.

My next project is to figure out a way to get in the car. It’s coated with such a thick layer of ice that I’m either going to have to melt it with the blow dryer or chisel my way in. I had hoped the sun would come out this morning to help matters along, but it didn’t. I need to get to the store soon. I’m out of bread, milk, and, well, food in general. I’m depleting my stores. This ice storm was miserable and everything is coated with a thick glaze. But at least we kept our power and the trees look fine, so it could have been much worse.

Can’t complain about winter doing its wintery thing. We need a prolonged period of cold. I was beginning to think about the robust tick population that we’d have to cope with. As I recall, a few years ago we had an entire winter similar to the warm one we’ve had to date—in the late 90s, I think. The summer following, I discovered that every time I went out in the yard, a tick hitched a ride back in the house. Constant tick checks are a real nuisance. And, despite that, I still found a couple crawling around on the floor. Eww. Bring on the cold and let it stay!



 

Page 1 of 4 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »