Cider Press Hill

Song Sparrow

Saturday, 9:58 pm

By Kate

Mar

29

2008

clear night

It’s hard to sing with your mouth full, but this little Song Sparrow does have a lovely song. I took this photo through the sliding glass door. The glass is slightly tinted so the color is a bit off. Earlier this afternoon I fixed it up a bit in Photoshop—on the desktop computer which started up for me for the first time in about 3 months. I had to shut the computer down and restart...it decided it was too tired and wouldn’t start again. So the fixed up photo will have to remain on that computer until it decides it wants to start up again. Anyway....meet my one and only resident Song Sparrow. Such a gentle little soul.



 

90 Percent Project - Weeks 40, 41, 42, & 43

Saturday, 3:29 pm

By Kate

Mar

29

2008

sunny

It has been a while since I’ve posted my 90 Percent Project values. Here’s a month’s worth and you can see why I’ve been reluctant to post them. I’ve been reluctant to even keep the records. Use is increasing almost across the board. Some was unavoidable, but much was related to late winter blahs and needing a little extra luxury to combat it. If spring doesn’t get here pretty soon, I’m going to go nuts.

Electricity
Week 40: 18 kWh
Week 41: 15 kWh
Week 42: 17 kWh
Week 43: 26 kWh

It hasn’t been a stellar month. In part because I have the worst case of cabin fever EVER and I’ve been adding little luxuries to my daily existence to compensate. And, of course, a week of having the lad home. Lots of laundry and dryer drying. And we had marathon movie nights and I don’t regret it one bit. So there. Now the furnace is eating up electricity, too.

_________________

Gasoline purchased
Week 40: 0 gallons
Week 41: 4.8 gallons
Week 42: 4.757 gallons (for 2 people at 2.378 gallons per person)
Week 43: 18.488 gallons (for 2 people at 9.24 gallons per person)

Clearly, the lad’s vacation and the trip back to Pennsylvania took a whack out of my good gasoline conservation progress this quarter. Will just have to make up for it in April.

_________________

Water
Week 40: 116.965 gals.
Week 41: 110.83 gals.
Week 42: 450.879 gals (for 2 people at 225.439 gals each)
Week 43: 467.26 gals (for 2 people @233.63 gals each)

Water was also a lost cause this month. Spring cleaning, lots of laundry. And, I regret to say...longer showers.

_________________

Natural Gas
Week 40: 2 CCF
Week 41: 3 CCF
Week 42: 3 CCF
Week 43: 5 CCF

Well, now that the furnace pilot light is on again and the furnace is in use, I don’t think I’ll even be seeing 5 CCF again for a while.
__________________

Trash
Week 40: 3.4 lbs
Week 41: 4.2 lbs
Week 42: 6.2 lbs
Week 43: 4.6 lbs
_________________

Consumer Goods
Week 40: $11 for 2 Rubbermaid storage tubs
Week 41: $29 for a Freeplay Wind-up cell phone (and other gadgets) recharger.
Week 42: $120 in goods for the lad
Week 43: $0

_________________

Food

There isn’t much left to say about food at this point in the season. There is very little fresh that’s local. I still purchase the locally grown or produced meats, eggs, cheeses, milk, and breads. But I am now also purchasing non-local vegetables and fruit. 



 

Racy ring tones

Friday, 2:26 pm

By Kate

Mar

28

2008

overcast

I was listening to Science Friday on NPR this afternoon. It was all about birds and spring birding. There was a guy on from e-nature who mentioned that their website offers free ring tones for your cell phone. Of what, you ask? Why, they’re mating calls of various creatures. And they’re a hoot. Bet you could scare the people next to you right out of their skin if your phone erupted with the Howler Monkey, the Amorous Elk, or the Coyote. There are some really pretty bird songs, too, though. The previews of the ring tones didn’t work in Firefox for me, but did just fine in Internet Explorer. I’m going to snag one or two, but haven’t decided which ones yet. 



 

Aside from the snow....

Friday, 8:39 am

By Kate

Mar

28

2008

light snow

There is snow out there on the ground! Enough snow to shovel, which I’d like to refuse to do on general principle. The ground is completely covered again and the trees are coated with a thick layer of that white stuff. This is spring, darn it. My snow shovel is retired.The snow is supposed to turn to rain later today. I’m holding the weather man to that. If it doesn’t, well then I suppose the snow shovel could be un-retired. Under protest. What’s with SNOW on the 28th of March, anyway? Where is spring? I’m pining for spring. I’m withering away from all this pining. I need spring. You have no idea how much I need spring.

What partially (only partially) makes up for a snow storm on March 28 (!) is genuine central heating. It’s been a year since I’ve turned on the furnace and I’d kind of forgotten, especially after this winter, what it feels like for every room to be warm. I’d forgotten what it’s like not having to leap out of the shower and dive into 4 layers of clothing before the water droplets turn to ice. We’re talking relative warmth here, not steam room warmth. It wasn’t as if I turned the thermostat up to 70° and left it there. No, I was conservative and left it at 63°, although my fingers twitched for a while, wanting to turn it up. Just for the novelty.

But I noticed the darnedest thing. While my upstairs was freezing all winter (intentionally) and the downstairs was warm, now I have the reverse situation. Even though the thermostat is set at 63°, my upstairs climbs several degrees higher. I used the same thermometer to check both floors, just to make sure that one wasn’t off. No, indeed. My upstairs is a toasty 68.6° while my downstairs stays about 63°. And that’s with the quilt still in place across the open staircase. I don’t think it’s supposed to work like that. Maybe I’d better put some more insulation in the basement.

Because of that temperature difference, I had to set the thermostat back to 55°, last evening around 9:00, so that my room would cool off enough for me to sleep. And, of course, by the end of the evening, I was sitting in my chair, wrapped in a down comforter up to my chin.

Well, I’m not not used to this yet. But I have to say that, aside from the adjustments, having central heating is kind of cool. And it’s sort of liberating not having to feed the wood stove, even though I miss the fire. Central heating is a very different kind of heat, but I think I’ll adjust and enjoy it until spring gets here. Assuming that it will sometime before June.



 

Brats of the Entitlement generation

Thursday, 7:10 pm

By Kate

Mar

27

2008

overcast

I was just reading Paul Krugman’s blog post about the state of Social Security, which claims that SS will be quite solvent for a good long time to come, based on the *real* reading of the recent report by the Social Security Trustees. The same report that has set the right-wing into a frenzy about how insolvent the program is and how we baby boomers are like leeches on the body politic (greedy little brats). I don’t know how such disparate views can be reached reading the same words. And yes, I actually read the darned thing. It’s 120+ pages long, but, if you want to know what’s in it, the primary source is a lot more reliable than *interpretations* by political hacks.

But that’s not what this post is about. It’s the stupid and loaded word, Entitlement, that those who hate the idea of Social Security attach to the program. The comment section to Krugman’s post had a couple of references to the term which, more or less, sent me into orbit. As we all know, that’s a bad word in this free-wheeling, free-market (laissez-faire) economy. That free-wheeling economy that is currently going down the crapper because greed knows no bounds.

As far as I know, Social Security is an insurance program. It was set up to be an insurance program and it still works that way. I have paid into Social Security for a good long time, and when the time comes, I get to withdraw payments based on what I’ve contributed to it. Not one cent more. That’s how insurance works. And, y’know, if I’ve spent considerable years paying into it, I’d damned well better get something out of it, regardless if it offends someone’s laissez-faire ethic.

I’m equally certain that those who brand Social Security as an Entitlement Program are similarly appalled at their monthly/yearly house insurance payments so that if their house burns down, they will get a big fat House Entitlement check (which may include some of my money) to rebuild their house.

Entitlement is a sleazy, weasel-word. And it’s inaccurate. And a cheap shot. And did I mention sleazy and weasely? And slimy?

A happy note for those greedy little bastards who hate the idea of social security insurance...a third to half of us baby boomers will be dead in 20 years...just about the time you reach middle age or retirement. I know you can’t wait. There will be enough left for you guys, no problem. Relax.

Unless, of course, your free-wheeling, unregulated, free-market (laissez faire) economy has totally collapsed and you’re all living with your kids in a three room shack like third world has-beens by then. I’m not discounting that possibility.

Not that the word entitlement trips my wire or anything like that.....



 

Just the tap of a hammer

Thursday, 12:35 pm

By Kate

Mar

27

2008

overcast

This morning the indoor thermometer read 56.5° F and the outdoor thermometer read 55.4° F. I opened the back door and there really wasn’t a noticeable difference, except that there was a whiff of spring on the outdoor air. At least there was that. Ah well. I shut the door and called the heating company to make an appointment to have the furnace fixed. I think that since I am not living outdoors in a tent, there is a reasonable expectation that my dwelling should be a few degrees warmer than the outdoors.

Funny thing, though. I’ve been working around the house this morning and I am warm. My hands are warm and my nose is warm. But of course. If the repair guy couldn’t come until Monday, I’d be sitting here freezing to death.

So, we’ll see how much this little exercise will cost me. The repair guy just arrived and has been clumping up and down the basement steps looking dour. I hope that’s not a sign.

My wood heating season is officially over. I do have about two days worth of wood left, but that is now reserved for ambiance. I am going to miss my wood stove crackling merrily away and I’ll need to have a pick-me-up session with it a couple more times. It would be helpful if spring would just arrive already. Oh for a day above 60°! I don’t believe there is one in our foreseeable future, though. This has been an abnormally cold spring and that cold air mass out of Canada has just been sitting here torturing us. We’re supposed to have snow tonight!! I’m so ready to hop on a plane and go someplace warm.

Ooookay. That didn’t take long. The water circulation pump was seized. All he had to do was tap it with a hammer and it started right up. I actually had thought of doing that, more out out frustration than anything else. I shoulda. In any case, the pipes are flushed, the furnace innards are cleaned and I have heat. And the bill was minimal. What I also learned was that the pilot light doesn’t even need to be on to start up the furnace/water circulation pump. I didn’t know that. He said to start it up every two weeks and all will be well. I can do that!



 

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