Cider Press Hill

Fun at the DMV

Wednesday, 12:54 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

Because I put things off until the very last minute, today was the day that I had to go the motor vehicles registry to renew my license. Happy Birthday to me. The registry wasn’t at all crowded today, so my number was called within 10 minutes of walking through the door. I had visions of some glitch or another popping up, but the process was easy. Until the eye exam.

I had to read the top row of letters as presented through the stereo ocular piece. No problem. I read them right off.

Then the woman said, “What about the rest of them?”

“What rest of them? I asked. “That’s all there are.”

“No,” she said, “there’s another box of letters to the right. Read them for me.”

“I don’t see another box of letters to the right. It’s all dark over there.”

“Oh,” she said. “You must have a weak right eye.”

“No, I don’t,” I said. “The light is out over there.”

“Well,” she said, “I’ve been doing this for twelve years and I can assure you that the light isn’t out.”

I could feel the panic start to rise. There was just no way I was going to walk out of there without my license. No. Way. (Please please, please God!)

I went back to stand in front of her desk and, as nicely as possible, I asked her if she would please look through the thing. The light was out. Really, truly. Out, out, out. She wasn’t inclined to want to do it, but she seemed to sense that I was going to have a melt down if she didn’t. So she did. And said, “Oh my gosh, the light is out.”


She decided that she’d take it on faith that I’m not actually blind in my right eye.

License renewal granted.

Then it was time for the photograph. Oh my word. At least she gave me a few pictures from which to choose. Digital photography is convenient in these matters. I settled for the second photo. The first caught me by surprise and the third and fourth got progressively worse. I now have the perfect mug shot on my drivers license. All it lacks is the prisoner number. It’s not a studio portrait, that’s for sure.

“What a horrible picture,” I said.

“It’s a lot better than most,” she said. “You wouldn’t believe.”

Yes, I would.

By the time I got back to my car, I’m pretty sure that I did look as horrible as the photo on my shiny new license. Wilted beyond measure. I hate going to the motor vehicle registry. I really do.


Prepping for the SOTU

Monday, 2:03 pm

By Kate





The old gas bag is gonna talk to us tonight. Officially it’s called the State of the Union address. Unofficially, I like to think of it as lies, lies, and more lies. Not that you’d get the impression that I’m bitter toward the prez or anything.

So, I haven’t completely decided yet whether I’ll tune in to the shindig tonight. His voice makes me retch. Still, it’s his last one and that’s worth a celebration in and of itself. I’ll probably tune in.

What I expect to hear:

The terrorists are bad.
They’re gonna kill us all.
The Democrats are evil.
Iraq is going great.
The surge worked.
Iran is evil.
Increased defense spending next year.
The underlying economy is solid.
His stimulus package is gonna be the best thing since sliced bread.

I’m sure he’ll surprise us with something else...pick a fantasy. I have decided not to throw anything at the television when he speaks. It’s too little and I’d break it. Not the teevee’s fault, anyway. I don’t know how long I’ll last before I have to shut it off in total disgust.


Making discoveries

Sunday, 10:25 pm

By Kate





So here I am back at home keeping the home fires burning. It was a good day for it. The snow that we weren’t supposed to have is still in my driveway and the wind is rearranging it as artistically as it’s able. I gave up on the whole thing and pretended there was nothing going on outside my windows. I did not want to do snow today.

The day after the lad leaves is always a little unsettled. Takes me a day to get my routine back and shake off the blues.

We had a really good trip down to school yesterday. Lots of talking and laughter and more talking. So much talking, in fact, that we missed the New York State Thruway entirely and didn’t realize it until about 45 minutes after we had passed it. By then we were in PA, which was the big clue.

We stopped at a Pennsylvania Visitor Center and I inquired where we were. Somewhere in the Poconos. Kind of like the last outpost on earth, I think. Mountains all around, no cell phone signals, and a whole lot of nature. As luck would have it, we were parked right on a road that was almost a clear shot into Easton—less than two hours away. That was a surprise, because it would get us there nearly an hour ahead of schedule. I think we inadvertently found a short cut, though I don’t know if I could do it again.

So, we finally pulled into the dorm parking lot and the lad’s roommate came rushing out to help us unload the car. It was the first time I had seen their room this year. It’s a huge L-shaped room. Huge. Their other roommate is spending the semester in Germany, so just the two lads have the room to themselves. They’re going to move the other lad’s bunk and desk out and spread out a bit. They had all sorts of ideas. The other lad kind of sighed in the midst and said, “It’s so good to be home.”

Before I left, the lad wanted me to see his fraternity house. It’s a big old stone house on campus—on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s probably one of the best kept and most kindly treated fraternity houses in the world. They are obligated to take care of it and they do. There is obviously a lot of money invested in that house on a regular basis. It’s absolutely beautiful with ornate woodwork and wainscot, hardwood (some parquet) floors and massive fireplace overmantels. They all gleam. It’s a nice place to hang one’s hat and lounge, that’s for sure.

Then it was time to leave and the lad walked me out to my car. Hugs, kisses, more hugs, more kisses. I did NOT cry. Actually, I’m not sure whether his feelings were a little hurt by that or not. He looked at me quizzically, as if expecting me to burst out at any second. But I didn’t. He was so happy to be there and the way his frat brothers leaped around him and gave him hugs and slaps on the back, as if they hadn’t seen him in months, just made me feel good. They were all, clearly, simply thrilled to be back with each other. It made me grin like a fool. And I did most of the way home.

I miss not having him clattering around the house, but as his roommate said, “It’s so good to be home.” He is. And is as happy as a clam.

On my drive home, I listened to lots of radio. Mostly public radio stations. Saturday night is a good night for public radio. One of the stations, somewhere in Connecticut, offered an hour of American Routes. This week’s featured artists were Tom Waits and Dave Brubeck. I was able to hear the entire Tom Waits segment before the radio signal began to fade.

Tom Waits is an artist whose work I have never really been acquainted with. He’s apparently a rather eccentric individual. Unquestionably an amazing musician and poet/lyricist, though his voice is one of those love it or hate it types. You listen and think, “The man has no voice” yet I couldn’t get enough. I think the same way about Dylan, though. The show closed out with his “Tom Traubert’s Blues (Waltzing Matilda)” song. I’d never heard him sing it before, though I recognized it as one Rod Stewart performed. It’s apparently not one of his best songs, but it’s one of his best known. He closes out his concerts with it more often than not, I think. Songs don’t move me too often, but this one made my eyes go all misty. I still don’t know exactly why. And I’ve listened to it again today a few times (gotta love the web!)...still chokes me up.

So, here’s a YouTube video from a few years back. Once you get over the shock of his’s a beautiful song. And yeah, compared with the rendition that Rod Stewart sang...well, there’s no comparison. Rod Stewart’s rendition was weak tea.

I’ve been having a good time going through all the Tom Waits videos on YouTube. I really like this one (Train Song), too. There’s a good selection. He’s amazing. How’d I go this long without discovering him!


Packing up

Friday, 10:02 pm

By Kate




clear night

We’ve been tearing around here, today, preparing the lad to go back to school. Somehow, it’s all going to fit in the car! We expect to leave tomorrow morning somewhere around 9 AM. That should give plenty of time to see his room, roommate, their frat house, and meet a few other friends before I head on back. I’d like to get home before midnight.

He’s definitely looking forward to getting back and seeing all his friends and plowing back in to his activities. I am not so eager to see him leave, but I certainly have enough on my plate to keep me busy. So, while I might miss him a bit, I don’t think time will be weighing heavily on my hands. It’ll just be un-fun having the house way too quiet again. I’ll have to invent ways to make noise for a while. smile

I just glanced at the weather forecast and while the weather is supposed to be lovely for the trip tomorrow, looks as if there will be a nor’easter moving in Sunday night. Thereby, adding more evidence to my theory that when the lad leaves home, it snows.


How am I doing?

Thursday, 5:53 pm

By Kate





After all these weeks of keeping a record of weekly usage values for the various categories during the 90 Percent Project, I thought it might be useful to begin comparing quarterly results. When recording results a week or two at a time, it’s easy to lose sight of progress over a period of time.

Since we have now completed two full quarters of the project, the following graph shows the progress I’ve made so far. I must admit that I was a little surprised, and pleased, for the most part. The trash and consumer goods categories look as if they could use a little improvement. The second quarter included Christmas and a refurbished laptop purchase, so there is that explanation. As far as trash goes, the second quarter also included the basement flood and disposing of many soggy boxes and items. It still all counts, though.


90 Percent Project - Weeks 33 & 34

Thursday, 5:28 pm

By Kate





Catching up on my weekly values for Weeks 33 (January 11-17) and 34 (January 18-24) of the 90 Percent Project....

Week 33: 23 kWh used
Week 34: 35 kWh used

Week 34 was not a stellar week. The day that I washed and dried 4 loads of laundry contributed 17 kWh to the weekly total. That’s a lot.

Gasoline purchased (for 2 people)
Week 33: 0 gallons
Week 34: 6.397 (3.20 gallons/person)


Water (for 2 people)
Week 33: 201.987 gallons (100.993 gallons/person)
Week 34: 336.645 gallons (168.32 gallons/person)


Natural Gas
Week 33: 2 CCF
Week 34: 2 CCF


Turning off the gas pilot light on the furnace has cut use down by 2-3 CCF per week. That’s a huge savings for one pilot light. Wow.


Trash (for 2 people)
Week 33: 6.8 lbs. (3.4 lbs per person)
Week 34: 65.8 lbs. (32.9 lbs per person)

Week 34 was all about swapping bedrooms and cleaning stuff out. It doesn’t help the over all tally very much, but life happens.

What struck me, however, is that the average American routinely deposits 31.5 pounds of stuff into the trash EACH week. We managed to deposit 1.4 pounds more than that this week after a major cleaning project. I looked at all that trash and, truly, wondered how in the world the average American can find that much trash to throw out on a weekly basis. The statistics seem to back that figure up, but it’s hard for me to believe it.


Consumer Goods
Week 33: $0
Week 34: $0

Week 34 represents the 4th consecutive week of not buying consumer goods. Nothing. I think this is a milestone in my life. I have avoided stores like the plague. I don’t currently need anything and, therefore, if I don’t go to a store, I can’t buy anything on impulse.


This week was a disaster for food. A young lad with a voracious appetite can go through a lot of pizza and boxes of macaroni and cheese and Mountain Dew Code Red when he’s hungry...two hours after a meal. Plus friends coming over and a party and what not. Some battles are worth fighting, but I ran out of energy on this one.


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