Cider Press Hill

Easing the hell in a handbasket syndrome

Sunday, 1:46 pm

By Kate





Over the last couple of days, I’ve been very involved with my new little birdie. I finally named him...his name is Dobby. It just popped out of my mouth one afternoon and it seemed to fit. Moreover, he perks up whenever he hears it.

Dobby has been my constant companion since the first moment he came home. And I mean constant—24 hours a day, wherever I go. The reason? He needs to learn that I am, for the moment, his entire world so that he can learn to trust me unreservedly. He’s still shy, but he’s focused.

Yesterday, I let him out of his cage, for the first time, to fly around. I was a little nervous, not knowing if getting him back into his cage would require extreme cunning and a towel over his head. That’s not a good way to build trust in a bird, but sometimes one does what one has to do to protect the bird. Sometimes it’s a case of taking two steps forward and one step backwards when training a bird.

Happily, he remembered his lessons and when it was time for him to go back into his little house, he readily came to perch on my finger and allowed me to usher him through his front door and place him back on his favorite perch. I was very pleased. And relieved. He’s making remarkable progress for your basic bin-o-budgies pet store bird.

In a world that seems to be going to hell in a handbasket far faster than anything I’ve ever seen, the simple distraction and loyalty of a little bird is a very welcome thing. I suppose it sounds a bit trite to say that I’d wish such a simple distraction and pleasure for the young people across the seas who can’t come home and who have much more to think about each day. I was thinking about that today and I guess it does sound a bit trite. And yet, in the whole world, there probably isn’t anything more honest and uncomplicated and loyal than an animal. If one has the sensibility to accept that loyalty and trust, an animal goes a long way toward easing the chaos that mankind creates for itself. They are a balm in a troubled world.


Meet the 'keet

Wednesday, 2:04 pm

By Kate





Here is my as-yet-unnamed parakeet. He is, according to my research, a recessive pied parakeet. He will grow up to have relatively few markings on him, unlike most other parakeets. The top of his head will probably turn completely white after all of his adult plumage comes in. He’s about 3 months old, which is a little past the ideal time for training. It seems, however, that he is accustomed to being touched and handled. He has already climbed on my hand willingly and allowed me to give him chin scritches. He leaned into the scritches...he apparently liked them.

He’s still very quiet, but curious. He’s been taking in every detail and listening carefully to everything I say to him. I played a couple of audio clips of parakeets chattering and singing. He began hopping around his cage, chattering right back at them. He seemed so excited. Kind of made me feel bad. I think he’s lonesome and misses his former cage mates.

Abbie is taking him in stride, more or less. She finds him interesting, but not overly so. Mainly, she’s a little jealous of the attention I’ve paid him.

We’re taking it slowly, hoping he adjusts and feels at home soon. In the meantime, he also gets to listen to lots of Bach, which seems to soothe him. Perhaps he’ll start whistling a Brandenburg Concerto soon. More likely, he’ll start chirping like my telephone. That sound utterly captivates him.


Instead of a dog....

Tuesday, 7:38 pm

By Kate




I’d still like a dog, but the house and I are not quite ready for one. And yet....I’ve felt the need for another little body in the house. Soooo....

Today I did a very characteristic impulse thing. On the way home from somewhere, I stopped at my favorite pet store and walked out with a young parakeet. He’s white with just a smattering of turquoise on his belly. And a little bit of charcoal gray on his wings and around his eyes. He’s a handsome fellow.

We’re still getting acquainted. He’s very quiet for now, keeping a close eye on me. I’ve been talking to him a blue streak, but he’s still not ready to chirp at me yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Now I have to name him. I’m terrible at naming my pets. For now he’s just “little guy”—but he deserves something a little more distinctive.


Summer has loudly started

Tuesday, 4:50 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

The lad arrived home late yesterday afternoon. Well, I brought him home, but that’s just details. He’s home. And it only took about two hours before his bedroom took on all the characteristics of a dorm room. There’s a giant Buddha tapestry hanging on one side of the chimney and a...uh...big mushroom tapestry hanging on the other side of the chimney. There’s a huge Pink Floyd poster hanging on one wall and other smaller posters affixed to available empty wall space here and there. And the surround sound television/stereo system has been set up.

Currently, my house is vibrating to the surround sound strains of Kiss.

And there are still bags of Stuff sitting on my living room floor.

Despite all the new stuff plugged into the electrical outlets, we still only used 3 kWh in the last 24 hours. There is hope.

I believe summer is here. May I survive it.

Oh yeah, sure, like I’m really complaining. Not so much. It’s really good having him home.



Tuesday, 2:59 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

About a month ago, Abbie launched herself off my bed in one of her skeered kitty fits. I happened to be in the bed at the time. Her hind toenails left a couple of clean-edged rips in my bottom sheet. Although I wasn’t very happy about it, I thought I’d just go get a patch kit and repair the tiny rips. No sense in getting rid of a perfectly good sheet that only had a couple of small tears in it.

It was a good idea, but I didn’t implement it quickly enough. My watch band caught on the edge of one of the tears and suddenly it was a much larger tear. Still reparable, I thought. And then I tossed my sheets in the laundry. Suddenly the rip went from one edge of the sheet to the other. So much for good ideas that stay ideas.

That was my last bottom sheet. My linen closet leaves a little to be desired. Obviously, it was time to fix that problem.

I haven’t gone shopping for sheets in quite a long while. I like 100% cotton sheets of at least a 250 thread count. My last set was about 400 ct. They were nice and supple and soft, but I’m not all that picky about thread count as long as it is good quality cotton.

Still, when I went shopping, even the cost of 200 ct cotton sheets floored me. When my bed’s wardrobe costs as much as my own, there is an obvious imbalance in the universe. There was no way on earth that I was spending $90 for a set of sheets. And those were the cheap ones.

How in the world can a large square of basic cotton fabric cost that much? Really. How?

So, I lived with my ripped sheet for a couple of weeks, while I tried to find something online that didn’t cost a small fortune. And I found just what I was looking for at LinenSource-- 250 ct, 100% cotton twill sheets in double/full size. In mix and match colors. For the grand sum of $11.99 per sheet. At that price, I decided it was worth a try.

My two new sheets (one white fitted sheet and one shell pink flat sheet) arrived in the mail on Saturday afternoon. I took them out of their wrappers to examine them...they were supple and soft and substantial. They were well made with nice even hems along the sides and top. No puckering on the hems and no imperfections that I could see. Nothing fancy, but very well made. They even had a slight sheen to them. And they draped well.

I popped them in the washer on Sunday and hung them out to dry. Last night, I finally put them on my bed and gave them a whirl. The first thing I noticed was the generous cut. Even after washing, there was still plenty of sheet to fit the bed easily. I’m sure they shrunk in the wash, but shrinkage allowance was clearly built into the sheets. That’s usually a hallmark of more expensive sheets, but not always. My much more expensive 400 ct sheets were not at all generously cut. My new top flat sheet hung down each side about a foot. And the length was generous enough to tuck the flat sheet well under the mattress at the bottom with the top edge of the sheet reaching all the way to the headboard. Just right. And they were still soft and lovely. And pretty.

And comfortable. I had a luxurious night’s sleep in them. Of course, I think the pretty pink helped. It’s been a while since I’ve gone all girlie foo-foo in my bed linens, but this pink matches my new quilt perfectly. I like pink. A lot.

Anyway, at $11.99 per sheet, I think I’ll get a few more for the linen closet. If Abbie puts any more rips in my sheets (it has happened a couple of other times, too), I won’t be nearly as upset. And I also now have a patch kit, just in case.


Decrepit does not mean old!

Saturday, 4:57 pm

By Kate




sunny of this infernal muscular maladjustment. I’m trying to develop a sense of humor about it because being perpetually cranky and petulant isn’t doing anything other than making me cranky and petulant.

I took a little tour of my body today to see what it can do and what it can’t do. Walking is a big problem. So is sitting. Lifting anything? Forget it. But, by cracky, I can bend over and touch my toes. Or the floor. Yes, I can. And it doesn’t hurt to do that.

I can lift my left leg and bring my knee all the way up to my chin and it doesn’t hurt. I can do that with my right leg, too. What kind of weirdness is that, anyway?

When I went outside to get into the car, I gave up and came back in the house. My body won’t fold into the car. I can get one leg and my butt into the car, but the left foot wants to stay on the ground because it just knows lifting 8 inches into the car isn’t going to be fun. And, sure enough, it wasn’t and I didn’t. I’m still grounded.

As I turned to hobble back into the house, I noticed the fence gate was ajar. I didn’t do it. Which means...someone else did. I also noticed that I’ve been gifted with a brand new trash barrel. Someone must have thought that a trash barrel rolling around in the road, after trash day on Thursday, must have been mine and, probably, thought they’d be doing me a favor by returning it to me. Because several of them have noticed that I’m not the picture of sprightly movement this week. But, the trash barrel is not mine. I don’t know who it belongs to. I don’t envision walking around the neighborhood to find out. I just hope that the person to whom it belongs doesn’t think I stole it.

While I gazed at the trash barrel in a haze of befuddlement, my next door neighbor called over to me. “Did you hurt your back?” Well, not my back, exactly, but it didn’t seem necessary to get down to the exact location of the problem.

“Yes,” I said. “About a week ago.”

“Getting old is hell, isn’t it?” he said.


I Am Not Old. Okay?

But I said, “Yeah, it sure is.” He’s older than I am and he meant well. Still. I have a streak of vanity lurking about in there and it was terribly wounded.

This hobbling around and doing little of any purpose is driving me nuts. It’s a beautiful day out there. The grass has been growing wildly. It needs to be mowed. I have a maple tree to whack. It’s growing under my deck and it won’t die. I’ve chopped it off three years in a row and it just keeps coming back with a vengeance. Why is is that the trees I want to grow waste away while the ones I don’t want to grow refuse to die? I need to get out there and chop it down again.

And the fence that I stacked my wood against this year? The fence post is tilting at about a 45° angle. It needs to be yanked out of the ground and the rest of the fence needs to be retired. I’m replacing the whole thing with a living hedge this year. I’d like to get out there and do some fence post yanking and dirt digging.

And deck floor cleaning and resealing. And painting. And more dirt digging and planting. And mulch spreading. And...and...and!!


While I can lift my knees to my chin and bend over to touch my toes, if I lift anything heavier than a two sticks of butter, I collapse in agony. This is for the birds.

On a positive note, the afflicted muscle in my back side has started itching like crazy today. That’s a good sign. It’s healing. I’ve been backing up to the door jamb corners to scratch. Kind of like a bear. You wouldn’t think such a small thing would fill me with such joy. I’m one day closer to yanking that fence post out of the ground. Yay! I am, of course, much less excited about being one day closer to mowing the lawn.


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