Cider Press Hill

Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning....

Wednesday, 2:13 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

My apologies for being kind of boring lately. I’m being disgustingly domestic. This is probably called spring cleaning and I’m still doing it. But now with a new and improved vacuum cleaner that’s still pulling alarming amounts of sand out of the carpets. It simply fascinates me in a horrible sort of way.

I’m also washing curtains and throw rugs and hanging them out on the line to dry. And washing the windows. Gradually, I’m erasing all traces of winter. internet connection was down most of yesterday. I couldn’t figure it out for the longest time. The cable modem seemed to be on and all the appropriate lights were lit. But my laptop refused to connect. At some point in the evening, VISTA finally decided to throw up a little window that said my internet connection was shut off and would I like Windows to figure out a solution. Well yeah. It did and I learned something new. My laptop has a switch on it that shuts the wireless thingy off. I didn’t know that and that’s all it was. I found the switch (don’t know how it got turned off) and flipped it back on. Presto. Internet. Boy, things like that make me feel dumb.


Price of Gas

Monday, 2:51 pm

By Kate




heavy rain

Glancing at my gas gauge this afternoon, it looked kind of empty. I briefly thought about filling up, but came home instead. Errands are run for a couple of days and I’ll postpone the aggravation. It’s pouring rain out today (with a raw 44°) and the wind makes the rain feel like little slivers of glass. Standing out in that, pumping gas, didn’t appeal to me very much. But I did note the gasoline prices.

The last time I filled up (March 23), I paid $3.18 per gallon for regular. Today, the local Shell station showed $3.59 for regular, the Mobil station posted $3.57, and the Chevron station posted $3.55. By tomorrow, they’ll all probably be $3.59—or higher.

I’m wondering what everyone else is paying. I think the prices in this town tend to be on the low side. People just a few miles to the south of us are paying a bit more and I’m pretty sure the west coast is paying a whole lot more.  What’s it like in your neck of the woods?


My new vacuum cleaner

Sunday, 5:38 pm

By Kate





I have a new vacuum cleaner. New to me anyway. And I have been having more fun with it, the past two days, than should be legal. For about the first time in my life, I own a vacuum cleaner that was clearly designed by someone who had actually used one more than once. That’s the short story. The fun part is how I acquired it. I’m pretty pleased with myself, if you wanna know.

Up until Friday afternoon, I owned two vacuum cleaners. And neither worked. The first one, a Eureka, more or less died a slow death a while ago. It was stuck in my closet taking up space. That’s a problem in its own right—getting rid of dead appliances around here is a costly project. The second one, a Bissell bagless cleaner, worked pretty well for two years. It had a variety of filters that required frequent cleaning and I was rather tired of that dusty, dirty job. It was a lower end model and I used the thing to death. For some time, I’d been limping along with it—the rubber band that made the carpet brush spin detached frequently, and I’d end up on the floor with a screw driver taking the thing apart to reattach the band. That little process was wearing mighty thin. And then, blessedly, the motor died about two weeks ago.

In the meanwhile, I’ve been making do with a broom, dust mop, dustpan, and my little Oreck manual sweeper—which is fine for surface dirt. But I had noticed that the dust levels in the house were increasing exponentially.

I had decided that my next vacuum cleaner was going to be a really good one. Not one picked up on sale at K-Mart. You get what you pay for. Cheaper models don’t last. Not the way I use them.

So, on Thursday night, as I was settling down to sleep, I spoke into the vast universe, “I want a new vacuum cleaner. I really need to get a new vacuum cleaner.”

Friday afternoon, two women knocked on my front door. They were offering a free chance for $1000 of groceries and a cute little air purifier. They wondered if I’d ever heard about Rainbow products. Well, no. I had not. They wondered if I ever suffered from allergies. I launched into my spiel about how my autumn allergies just about kill me. They felt my pain. One of them said, “I have the authority to make you an instant winner. Let me give you our Rainmate Air Purifier (but no groceries). It’ll make a difference in your life.”

And I thought, “Uh huh. Here it comes.”

I let them in, though. They set up that cute little air purifier and yeah, it really was cute. I liked it. And it was mine. All mine.

One thing led to another. Like...did you know we also have a line of vacuum cleaners? The great thing about them is that they are also air purifiers. They’ll do 1800 square feet of living space. Would you like to see one?

Oh, why not.

They brought the box in the house and set the vacuum cleaner up, first as the air purifier. As you might imagine, not having a vacuum cleaner for a couple of weeks, the thing extracted an embarrassing amount of dust out of the air. I was impressed. The vacuum cleaner worked even better. I liked the looks of it. I liked its maneuverability. And I liked the mechanics of it. No bags. And not your average bagless cleaner either. Oh noooo. It has a water reservoir that takes in all the crud the vacuum cleaner sucks up and the air exhaust comes out completely dust free. There’s one washable HEPA filter in it and it’s super easy to access. It was pretty slick.

Well, over the course of three hours, they cleaned my entire house and showed me how to use it. Whoo! My kitchen, my living room, my stairs, my bathroom, two bedrooms, and even my sofa got the treatment. I loved it. The machine is lightweight, super easy to maneuver, and it’s not an attachment nightmare. And wow does it extract dirt. I really lovvvvvved it.

Somewhere in the process I asked, “So how much does this thing cost?”

One of the women said, “Oh, I can’t tell you that right now. Let’s wait until after the presentation.”

Uh-huh. In other words, really expensive.

Did I mention that the thing also shampoos the carpets? Better than my Bissell steam cleaner. Yep.

Finally, they finished cleaning my house for me. Then it was time to talk.

“So, how do you like it?” one of the women asked.

“Oh, I really, really like it,” I said. “How much is it?”

She hedged a bit. I asked a few more questions and she pulled out her cell phone. “I’m kind of new at this,” she said. “Let me call my boss.”

Just so happened, the boss was close by. How incredibly convenient. The sale closer, I suspected.

He arrived a few minutes later and boy oh boy what a salesman. Definitely the sale closer. He flattered me every which way. “I have to ask. How old are you? You don’t look a day over 30. You look so young.”

“Sweetheart, I have a 20 year old son. Thirty came and went a long time ago. But thank you. How much is this vacuum cleaner?”

He whizzed through the features, selling points, and what a dependable machine it was and slipped in at the end, “All that for only $2400!”

“You have got to be kidding,” I said.

He told me again what a great machine this was, but added, “Because you’re so nice, I think I can sweeten the deal for you.”

“You’d better make it incredibly sweet.”

“How about if I throw in another air purifier, some cleaning agents, and drop the price to $1900?”

“I’m much nicer than that, don’t you think?”

“Well,” he asked, “What do you think this amazing vacuum cleaner/carpet shampooer/air purifier is worth?”

“You really want to know?” I said, “I’d maybe pay $600 for it. If you threw all the other stuff in with it and took my two vacuum cleaners away with you. What’s its wholesale price?”

“Kate, Kate, Kate,” he mourned. “We have to eat too, you know.”

His cell phone rang and he indicated that this was going to take a few minutes. Why didn’t I think about it while he talked.

GREAT! I dashed out of the room and fired up the laptop. Did a google search for Rainbow vacuum cleaners and found out all the particulars. They are, without a doubt, really fine vacuum cleaners. They last forever. People who own them are pretty devoted. The reviews are mostly fabulous, with the few who got tired of the water reservoir filling and emptying and annoyance that they paid such a steep price. They are definitely high end vacs. Most people buy them new in a cost range of $1600-$2200, depending on haggling skills. They are only sold door to door, like Kirby vacs (and let it be said, I was suckered into that mistake about 12 years ago. Great cleaning machine, but weighed more than I do and I hated it and got rid of it.). But, several reviewers stated, the best deal is a used Rainbow. You can often get them in the $400-$800 range with a several year warranty. They’ll last for 20+ years and they rarely break down. They are excellent cleaning machines and definitely advantageous for anyone with allergies. Cool.

I went back to the kitchen with a new idea.

“So, Kate, what are your thoughts? Are you ready to join our family and improve your life and make your environment healthier?”

“Yes,” I said, “Do you have a used one I can buy?”

Dead silence.

“Look,” I said, “I love this machine. But I’m just not going to spend $2400 or $1900 or even $1600. That’s crazy money. You guys have spent the better part of a business day in my house cleaning it from top to bottom and you should get something out of it. I’d like one of these cleaners, but I want a used one. If you can’t do that for me, then we can’t do business. I’m sorry. I can buy a used one online. I sincerely appreciate all the cleaning you’ve done for me today, though.”

“I’m sorry, Kate, I can’t do that,” he said. “You’d be missing a great opportunity here. A nice girl like you deserves a new Rainbow. We can work something out. We have very reasonable payment plans.”

I shook my head.

He packed up his stuff and shook my hand. The woman (the other one went out to rest her weary bones in the truck) also shook my hand and looked sad. They headed to the front door taking their boxes with them. He turned at the door and looked at me. “I hate to leave like this, Kate,” he said. “Are you sure?” I nodded.

Oh well. Sigh.

Around 6:00, the guy was back knocking on my door.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said. “You really are a nice lady and....” (So much for looking 30 years young....)

Well, long story a little shorter, he sold me a used machine with a 4 year all parts and labor warranty as long as I don’t drop it out the window or beat it with a baseball bat. There is a Rainbow-certified repair shop a couple of miles from here. That’s a plus, just in case. The carpet shampoo thingy wasn’t included at sale, but he said he’d bring one to me next week. I don’t really care about that, but I’ll take it if he gets around to it. I bought it at a very good price. And he took my two dead vacuum cleaners away with him.

I am very pleased. My new used machine has been gently used. I took it apart to inspect the HEPA filter and another little spinning gizmo that both need to be cleaned from time to time. They showed some use, but not that much. I’m not sure if it was a demo or a returned machine from someone who decided that emptying and refilling the water reservoir was a royal pain in the behind. But it’s nice. And it could suck all the hair off a cat. It’s powerful and I cannot believe how much sand and stuff is embedded in my carpets. It’s kind of scary how much my other vacuum cleaners didn’t get out. Or...horrifying. I have had a blast the past couple of days with my brand new used vacuum cleaner. Oh, I really have. This one is just great and it’s so easy to use. And no dust. I absolutely love it. Score another one for the 90% project, too. I did think of that.


Awwww cute

Thursday, 9:58 pm

By Kate




clear night

Brought to you by LOLCats

lolcats funny cat pictures


I've been thinking....

Thursday, 4:40 pm

By Kate





...about a lotta things. See, that’s what happens when I’m outside raking and digging. Frees my mind to wander into the most interesting corners. In fact, it frees my mind up so much that it whirls faster than a dervish.

I can’t exactly tell you about what I’ve been thinking because I haven’t sorted it all out yet. How’s that for a pointless post?

Oh well. The one thing I can say is that some bloggy things are gonna change around here. Don’t know when or what, but change is a’comin’. Again.

Meanwhile, out there on ranch, we’ve have two perfectly beautiful days. Yesterday was more beautiful than today, with a perfect 85° and sunny skies and hardly measurable humidity. Today is even drier (red flag warnings in effect), but cooler at around 73°. Quite nice. Although....we need rain. Those little May flowers are apt to struggle if we don’t have some April showers pretty soon. It’s much too early in the season to be this dry. Of course, it’s also too early in the season to dwell too much. June could turn out to be a 12+ inch rain month.

In the meantime, however, the neighborhood is sprinkling lawns like mad. Except me. As far as I can see, my grass is growing just fine—the places where I actually have a lawn.... I’m going to have to mow in another day or two. And haul loads of mulch home and get some new landscaping materials and a couple of fruit trees and berry bushes and....and....and. Spring has definitely sprung. Many of our trees leafed out overnight and the neighborhood fruit and ornamental trees are in bloom. Gardening season has arrived.

Oh, and it’s now official. I have hummingbirds.


Adventures in cat sitting

Wednesday, 11:57 am

By Kate





I fully intended to post something yesterday, related to Earth Day, but life got in the way. By the time I was able to peruse the nets for the amazing quantity of “green” articles and earth day related stuff, I was too pooped to frame a coherent response. I’ll get to that later today, I think. But what took it out me yesterday was a missing cat—one of those I’m supposed to be cat sitting this week. Doesn’t it figure?

When I arrived at my cat sitting destination, the landlord was inside replacing the bathtub. There were boxes and plywood all over the place and a new bathtub propped up in a corner of the living room. And, there was a huge gaping hole in the bathroom floor. As it turned out, when the landlord started tearing things apart, he discovered some floor rot, so he ripped the entire floor out and went off to get some plywood sub-flooring. While he was gone, a cat disappeared.

As I walked in the front door, the landlord poked his head around the kitchen door and said, “I’ve lost a cat.” He was terribly worried. He didn’t know for sure whether the cat escaped out the front door while he was dragging the lumber in or what.

Oh boy.

First I looked under every stick of furniture in case the kitty was hiding. She wasn’t. We both spent considerable time outside wandering around the house calling “here kitty kitty kitty.” I knew that was a waste of effort because this was the cat who is terrified of anyone who isn’t family. The idea of the cat coming when she was called was laughable. But we thought we might be able to catch her if we could spot her. But no such luck. No kitty outside anywhere.

We came back inside and I was in the process of burying my head in my hands wondering how I was going to explain this when I heard a long, mournful “meooooow.” It wasn’t Starbuck who said it. But Starbuck was helpful. He trotted into the bathroom and peered down into the gaping hole in the floor. Of course! The scared kitty crawled down into the basement to get away from all the frightening noise and commotion.

Well, we were two relieved people.

The landlord showed me how to get into the basement and then handed a flashlight down through the gaping hole in the floor. I found the kitty easily enough, but getting her out of her hidey-hole was another matter. After spending the better part of an hour chasing the cat around and trying to haul her out of her various hiding spots (I have the scratches to show for it!), the landlord went out to his truck and fetched an old blanket. He tossed it down to me and I captured the cat. She is now, undoubtedly, permanently psychologically scarred. But I got her. And dragged the hissing, growling, writhing bundle of cat back upstairs and deposited her in a room with a door.

I waited while the landlord put the new sub-floor down. Once that hole in the floor was plugged, I opened the door to let the cat out. She came rocketing out and made a beeline for the bathroom. She was a little confused to find her escape hatch gone. She wheeled around and dived under the sofa where she was safe from all the upset. I imagine she is still there. I’ll check later. Starbuck, being the calm soul that he is, just sat in the middle of the living room floor with a bemused expression. I gave him extra scritches for being the hero, though.

As you might imagine, I’m rethinking this idea of cat-sitting. It’s exhausting. Not to mention that Abbie is mightily miffed that I reek of another cat. She gives that look as if to say, “Mama, how could you?!


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