Cider Press Hill

Big drop in electricity use

Saturday, 4:36 pm

By Kate

Sep

29

2007

sunny

My September electric bill arrived online this morning. The meter reading was on the 27th. I’ve come close to cutting this month’s use in half over last month. With a total due of $20.33, I’m liking this more and more. I wonder if the electric company will send someone around to check my meter, one of these days, to make sure it’s working properly.

Under the category of WANT vs NEED, I’ve been drooling over this PowerCost Monitor for the last few months. I know that it would help me cut more electricity use, but, at this point, I don’t think it would benefit enough to pay for itself any time soon.

This summer, one of the electric utilities in Massachusetts (NStar) offered this gadget to its customers for a cool $29.95. My utility (National Grid) has handed out 300 of them for a pilot project. Maybe they’ll offer it up, at a slashed price, to all their customers sometime in the next year. I’d grab one in a second if they did.



 

90 Percent Project - Week 16 & 17

Friday, 9:11 pm

By Kate

Sep

28

2007

partly cloudy

Here’s my overdue Weekly Values update for the 90 Percent Project. Some good, some so-so, and a new thing or two.

Electricity
Week 16: 26 kWh
Week 17: 27 kWh

I must say, the trend line over the last couple of weeks has not been moving in the right direction.

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Gasoline purchased (for 1 person)
Week 16: 0 gallons
Week 17: 7.435 gallons

I noted that my previous gasoline receipt was dated August 23 and this past week’s gasoline purchase was on September 22. I squeezed a month out of 7.145 gallons. I’m pleased with that.

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Water (for 1 person)
Week 16: 74.81 gallons
Week 17: 67.329 gallons

Now I find myself beginning to think I should rationalize using only 9-10 gallons per day. It’s not much water, but I still manage to keep things clean around here. I can’t quite explain why week 15 was that much higher, though. I still did a small weekly load of wash these past two weeks. I am recycling water here like nobody’s business, though. Little seems to go down the drain unless it’s been used twice or three times. Routines and habits develop after a while and I don’t even have to think about it very often now.

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Natural Gas
Week 16: 4 cu ft
Week 17: 4 cu ft

I am bored with this constant 4 cu ft every week. I turned my water heater down another click. We’ll see if that makes any difference. I’d like to see something besides 4 cu ft next week.

I look forward to wood stove heating season. I’ll have a large pot of water on the stove at all times. Basically, free *really* hot water. As much as I could want. Although I seem to manage quite well without steaming hot water pouring out of the tap, a ready supply of really hot water would feel kind of extravagant and almost wicked.
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Trash (for 1 person)
Week 16: 3 lbs
Week 17: 16 lbs

Much closet cleaning and other cleaning this past week. I redirected as much as possible to the Salvation Army drop off, but there are some things that just aren’t suitable for giving away. For example, the six pairs of the lads old, stinky, and worn out track/running shoes. I have no idea why they were still in the closets. They aren’t now.

I also unloaded the bottled water cooler/heater and bread machine through Freecycle. There are a few other items over which I’m still debating with myself.

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Consumer Goods
Week 16: $2.50 - dog chews
Week 17: 20.00 - dog chews, 2 fabric storage baskets.

I surely must have the most boring consumer goods purchase list of anyone I know. Maybe I should make up my mind about a refrigerator or a freezer or both. Soon. I’ve been missing my freezer the past few weeks, now that harvests are rolling in.

One thing I noticed at the grocery store this week—the price of TP has gone through the roof. Even the cheap stuff isn’t cheap anymore. Since that product also has to go on my consumer goods list with the amount subtracted from my $1000 yearly allowance for this 90% project, I’m not of a mind to waste it on TP. New implementation in this house: cloth TP cut out of the lad’s old tee shirts. It’s not for everyone, though a number of the project participants have already gone that route, too. Over time, things change. What seemed undoable or unthinkable a couple of months ago, now....eh. 

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Food
Mostly farmer’s market, but did some shopping at the grocery. I’m finding more and more grocery store labels announcing that certain produce and products are locally made/grown. I’m not sure if that’s a new practice on the grocery store’s part or if I’m just noticing it because I’m tuned in to that now. It’s nice to find, anyway.



 

Red Moon

Wednesday, 6:24 pm

By Kate

Sep

26

2007

partly cloudy

Every now and again, I make yet another attempt to capture the moon in a photograph. Most of the time, I wind up with a fuzzy little white blob on a dark background. Tonight...a little more success. I glanced out the window just after dusk and saw that the moon was not only full, but a rather striking orange-red. This pic didn’t turn out too badly, although, in real life, the moon seemed much larger in the sky. The color is true, however. The tree top you see is a weeping cherry tree from my across-the-street neighbor’s front yard.


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It seems appropriate to have a hot looking moon on the evening of what was probably summer’s last dance. We reached the 90s today. From here on, it looks like a steady slide into more seasonal mid to late autumn temperatures.



 

Buy me, please!

Tuesday, 6:19 pm

By Kate

Sep

25

2007

Two years ago, homeowners up the street and around a couple of corners from me sold the large empty lot next to their house. I’m sure they sold it for a tidy sum. The lot was loaded with fully grown trees and was park-like in its beautiful treed maturity.

The first thing the new owner did was chop down every last tree on the lot. Naturally! Those of us passing by correctly assessed that a builder/developer had purchased the lot and was about to erect a house (and plant some brand new itty bitty trees). Well, we were half correct. The builder/developer built two houses. This occurred just as the mortgage and housing bust began rearing its ugly head.

The two houses took nearly a year to complete. By that time, there were For Sale signs popping up all over town. This would be called a buyer’s market, if the buyers could get a mortgage. I don’t know what the houses were priced at, but they didn’t sell. And didn’t sell. And didn’t sell. Finally, one was ‘snapped up’ this summer.

Today, a year later, there is still a For Sale sign out in front of the other house with an additional affixed sign that says “Price Reduced.” It’s now going for a hot $599,000. I’ll bet the builder/developer rues the day he made the decision to buy the lot and erect two big and expensive houses. I wonder how much he will lose in this deal. I’m guessing he’s already lost a bundle.

The vacant house requires care, especially if it supposed to be a higher end house. The property has to be maintained, although I’d say that the groundskeeping is borderline. The house is lit up like a Christmas tree at night, with the blinds drawn. I don’t imagine the lights are fooling anyone. It’s obviously very vacant. I’m sure that the house has been cooled throughout the summer and will have to be heated and lit all winter. Plus snow removal and whatnot. All that has to cost. I assume the developer is also responsible for paying the taxes on the property until it sells as well. Not an inexpensive proposition.

I found the multiple listing for the vacant house and it gave me a good laugh. The listing says the house isn’t waterfront, but it is beachfront. (How do you have one without the other?) If that’s beachfront, I surely must live on an island in the ocean. The only thing beachfront about it is probably the lawn struggling to grow in sand. Oh well. Maybe it’s a typo.

The inside of the house has all the requisite niceties. The realtor’s web page says that there is a gourmet kitchen. I don’t think that’s readily apparent from the photos (where the heck is the stove?), but it’s got granite! And cherry cabinets. The bathrooms look kind of ordinary. But one has granite! Some nice details throughout the rest of the house, though.

This is the view of the two houses that I see when coming home from grocery shopping. The white house is just a tinge out of proportion to my eye. The windows are too far apart on the front end and there should also be a fifth window just under the peak of the roof. I’m awfully picky, but for $599,999, why not!

This is the house that recently sold. It doesn’t excite me, but at least it has a garage. And lots of trees behind it.

This is the vacant house and my favorite of the two. It is pretty. It doesn’t have a garage, though, which probably isn’t helping its salability. For $599,000 you need a garage for the Lexus and the Toyota Land Cruiser! Also, if I built a house on that particular lot, I might want to consider the surrounding neighborhood before building something like this. Most of the houses on the street are quite a bit more modest in size, though nice and well kept. This one towers over its next door neighbor.

I wonder how much longer that poor house will be vacant. Probably a lot longer if anyone reads this. But it needs a family. Watching it sit there vacant all winter is going to kill me. All those lights and heat! Someone, please buy it!



 

Paper addiction

Monday, 2:17 pm

By Kate

Sep

24

2007

sunny

I began cleaning out drawers today. When your junk drawer has expanded into three designated junk drawers with overflow scattered in other drawers around the house, it’s safe to say that you have too much junk.

What became rather apparent, after I’d started emptying the drawers, is that it’s not so much junk as notepads. It’s no secret that I have a thing for paper and journals and whatnot. But even I hadn’t realized just how many notepads I had scattered around the house. I gathered all 57 of them together and took a photograph.


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After I took the photograph, which did not include the three notepads on my desk, I found four more and will probably find even more that I’ve squirreled away in various places.

Adding my stash of notepads to my stash of journals, I don’t believe I could possibly run out of paper for the rest of my life. And it’s not that I actually use them. Not at all. I buy a pretty notepad or journal and then save it for special. I’m not exactly sure what special entails—I evidently haven’t stumbled across it yet. In the meantime, I buy the more mundane looking ones that I do use and in such quantities that it’s a sure bet that I’ll never need to discover what saving the rest for special means. I have this vision of the lad sorting through my belongings one day, finding a huge box of yellowed paper and journals, and remarking to his wife or children, “She was saving these for special.”

My junk drawers are considerably lighter now. And I’ve discovered notepads and notebooks I’d forgotten I had. They are going into an easily accessible box where I can forage through the notepads when I need a new one. And I must enforce the rule: Do not buy any more notepads, no matter how pretty, cute, or unusual they are. I must resist and I know darned well that I won’t.



 

The Girlz

Sunday, 12:52 pm

By Kate

Sep

23

2007

sunny

J called me this morning to say that she was sick, sick, sick. She sounded it. Our trip to the New Hampshire mountains to see the Highland Games sadly had to be postponed until next year. (Feel better J!) Since I was already up at that inhumanely early hour, I decided to do something I haven’t done in a long time—go take pictures.

Taking off with the camera in the seat beside me, I wondered what to take pictures of. Usually, when I’m out and about without my camera, I see a dozen shots I’d like to take. Today, I wanted to manufacture a shot. Doesn’t work that way sometimes. So, I went up the road a couple of miles to the state park. Thought there might be something interesting up there. I didn’t see much besides a parking lot full of SUVs, so I turned down a side road to turn around. And there they were!

COWS! I love cows!

This is a really pretty pastoral scene that one doesn’t often find on the seacoast. The little white specks in the background are cows. Not very many, but more than one counts as cows. I had to go see them.


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I drove up a few hundred feet and parked on the side of the road. These young ladies were mildly curious, especially the one on the left. When I shot this picture, she had already taken the first tentative steps in my direction. But then she stopped and looked away.

I called out to them..."Hi cows. Over here!” They looked in my direction, but didn’t move. Well shoot. I slapped my hand on the hood of my car and called to them again. Something about the sound of my hand slapping metal galvanized them. All three came galloping toward me. Or as close to galloping as a cow can get. They seemed really excited. I thought, “Uh-oh, and here I am without a treat in my pocket!”


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This is a horribly under-exposed photo, but this young lady’s body language makes it my favorite photo. She was so interested and so eager. I walked over to the fence and gave her ears a good scratching and rubbed her nose. She mooed and slobbered all over my pant leg. I think I could have hypnotized her on the spot. Did she ever love having her ears and head scratched.

And here we have an over-exposed photo (I need to get out and practice!) of the same young lady. But I gave it the glam shot treatment. It turned out better. She was such a sweet girl...she deserved the glam treatment.


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This young lady wasn’t too sure about me. I took the photo before we’d been properly introduced. She was giving me the wary eyeball.

I reached out to scratch her ears, but she pulled back out of reach. I bent over and yanked a handful of grass out of the ground, folded it over, and offered it to her. She thought that was nice and politely ate it. Then she let me scratch her ears and decided that was pretty okay with her.

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These are the first cows I’ve touched in several years. It’s oviously been a while, because, at first, I wasn’t sure whether these were fellas or girls. As they got closer I bent down to take a gander and realized they were heifers. They aren’t full-grown yet. The one with the triangle on her forehead was such a personality. She was really fun.



 

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