Maladjusted Mondays, #21

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Jan C. Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays, a growing collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

The following post first appeared on my blog May 11, 2020…

Appliance Agitation

Here we go again… not long ago, I was relaxing on the patio with a good novel while a load of cycling clothes and other truly gross stuff was in the wash. Everything was fine until Brent popped his head out the back door and said, “The washer is making a weird noise.” I sighed and went to check it out.

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He was right. It sounded like a cross between a freight train and someone trying to start a car with a run-down battery.

According to the knob, the machine was in the Spin cycle. We opened the lid to find the washed clothes just sitting there, having a spa day in the dirty water that was supposed to be draining out of the tub.

Not cool. (By the way, that damage in the center was from years earlier when I working on a sewing project. Who damages their washing machine while sewing?)

Brent suggested I should be the one to choose the new machine, since I’m the laundry guru. We’d been under “shelter in place” for a few weeks by this time, so I was happy to skitter off to Lowe’s. Brent stayed to fish the Lycra out of its sudsy hot tub. Did I mention he’s a hero?

After two hours of looking at machines/considering pros & cons, I came home to find the bikewear all rinsed and neatly hung on the pool fence. Don’t worry; those little things on the spikes aren’t shrunken heads, just our cycling socks.

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I gave Brent the good news that I’d bought a Maytag. It would arrive on the next delivery date. Eleven days away.

A look of horror crossed his face. “ELEVEN DAYS??”

“You seem skeptical.”

“ELEVEN? DAYS?”

“Sure. It’s no problem–I can hand wash whatever we need until then.”

After all, we have a sink in the laundry room. Plus enough T-shirts to last until the week before Thanksgiving. Besides, the dryer still works. I pictured swishing a few lightweight items around in the sink, giving them a good rinse under the spray faucet, and tossing them into the dryer.

Brent pictured my suggestion a little differently:

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Re-enactment of an imaginary event. No rocks or laundry were harmed.

Okay, fine. The next morning, I called Lowe’s to cancel the order. Brent researched washing machines and found a local indie dealer who could deliver a Speed Queen the same day. The new machine even has some of the old-school features I like!

And so, our wardrobe maintenance hasn’t missed a beat.

But just watch the rest of the appliances talk the Speed Queen into joining the revolt.

Thanks for reading,

Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 17

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. Linda heroically offered to host this collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

And now for the 17th post in the series, which first appeared on my blog May 15, 2018.

Cat-and-Mouse

Here’s a riddle:

What gets underfoot, completely ignores humans,
carries filthy things in its mouth,
and generates a steady supply of hairballs?

In our case, it is not a cat.

No, it’s the Roomba that Brent gave me this past Christmas. It’s been in our house four months, and I’m still trying to figure it out.

Correction: I should say “her.” Because we named it Hazel, after the old-school TV comedy starring Shirley Booth.

Anyway, Hazel does a creditable job of dusting the floors. She glides under the furniture with ease and bumps her way around obstacles.

But she isn’t all diligence and efficiency.

A diligent appliance? At our house?

Don’t be silly.

One evening, Brent could only find one sock of a pair he’d left on the floor. Hazel had done her rounds, so of course he asked me whether she’d eaten it.

“I don’t think so. She worked until her battery ran down, then went back to the docking station like normal.”

But the sock was nowhere else, so I went and turned Hazel over. Sure enough, she had picked up the sock–then dusted half the floors with it hanging out of her mouth.

Eeewwwww.

I wrestled the sock away from her, only to find she had also coughed up a hairball. Or more accurately, crafted one out of someone’s long grey hair.

Can I help it if I shed?

A few minutes with the kitchen scissors took care of it, but I’m betting this hairball won’t be her last.

Just yesterday, I put Hazel in our bedroom and shut the door so she wouldn’t wander out into the living room, which was already clean. Half an hour later, I realized I didn’t hear her high-pitched humming.

I went to the bedroom door and listened. Nothing.

“Hazel? Everything all right in there?” Nothing. (Really, did I expect an answer??)

So I turned the knob and pushed the door open. Half an inch. Then something blocked it and three beeps sounded.

“Hazel. Move!” (Tries again)

“Beep-beep-beep!”

The door was blocked, but good. Fortunately, our room has a door out to the patio…

I had to go find my house key, people!

And there she sat, right in front of the closed door, not doing a single thing.

I still don’t know why she stopped, but after I opened the door, pointed her out, and pushed the “Home” button, she was able to find her way back to the docking station.

Believe me, I followed her every step of the way.

And people wonder why I don’t program the thing to work while I’m away from home.

Thanks for reading!
Jan

 

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 16

NOT Linda.

Greetings! Janice Johnson here. Thanks for joining the fun on Maladjusted Mondays. Linda heroically offered to host this collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

And now for the 16th post in the series, which first appeared on my blog November 24, 2017.

Dances with Hazelnuts (The Blender)

Brent and I both love hazelnut butter, but there’s so much sugar in the commercial stuff! Then a friend gave me her recipe for a healthy version. I found a source for blanched hazelnuts, Brent ordered a killer blender, and I’ve been making my own nut butter ever since.

Here’s the blender, photographed beside the protein-shake one for scale. If the little one is a Bullet blender, the big one is the Howitzer of blenders.

The craving hit recently while I was out of hazelnuts. Undaunted, I brought a pound of in-the-shell nuts home from the grocery.

But in the back of my mind was the nagging realization that, for the first time, I’d have to blanch the nuts. I approached this task with the same confidence with which I might gut a fish.

Sheer terror.

However, you can look up anything online, including how to blanch hazelnuts. I boiled the nut meats according to the directions. It took longer than I expected, but at last the papery skins slipped right off.

The nuts looked bigger and puffier than the pre-blanched ones I’d bought before. Should I be uneasy? … Naaah.

Next step, toast the skinned nuts in the oven. Since they had apparently retained a bit of water, I made sure they were fully toasted. Then, into the blender they went. Here they are, coarsely chopped and on their way to smooth, dippable greatness.

Once the nuts were pretty well pulverized, I added the other ingredients and blended some more, pushing the stiff goop back down into the blades every ten seconds or so. Usually this “stiff” phase lasts about two minutes.

Half an hour later, the consistency hadn’t changed a bit. If anything, the goop had grown stiffer. By now I could only blend for four seconds before the blades would lose all contact with the hazelnut goop.

I let the blender cool off for a while, and went at it again.

Still stiff, like mortar.

Maybe I had over-toasted the nuts. I added water.

An hour later, I gave up and scooped the resulting hazelnut product into a container to refrigerate, ready or not.

It looks like poop.

And this time, I can’t even blame the appliances.

One thing’s for sure: From now on, I’m only buying already-blanched hazelnuts.

After all, I’m not completely nuts.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 15

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. Linda heroically offered to host this collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

And now for the 15th post in the series, which first appeared on my blog November 14, 2017.

Party Animals… And Vegetables

The two suspects.
Notice the sly look on that teakettle, though…

I’m starting to realize the grim truth: I’m outnumbered and surrounded–by my appliances. Last week, the toaster oven and the gas stove rebelled… on the very same night.

In support of our quest to eat more super-healthy foods, I picked up some sea scallops on special. A salad and a dish of fresh veggies, ready for stir-frying, sat in the fridge. The plan? Broil the scallops and cook a batch of quinoa to go with them, while stir-frying the, um, stir-fry.

Simple enough, right?

But I reckoned without those appliances of mine.

According to the package directions, quinoa cooks up like rice, taking about 15 minutes to absorb all the water once it’s come to a boil. So when the quinoa and water boiled, I turned down the flame to simmer, again according to directions. Then my attention turned to the plump discs of seafood greatness.

It seemed silly to heat our large oven just to broil 3/4 pound of scallops, so out came the toaster oven. Lightly crumple up some foil, spray it with olive oil, and fit it into the shallow toaster-oven baking sheet. Boom — a makeshift broiling pan.

After giving the quinoa a sportsmanlike head start, I set the toaster oven to “broil” and cranked the temperature all the way up. A dash of olive oil on the neatly arranged scallops, and into the oven they went. Now for the veggies.

Several stir-frying minutes later, I opened the toaster oven to turn the scallops. To my horror, they weren’t browning on top. A broth had formed, nearly filling up the makeshift foil pan. The scallops looked more like they were relaxing in a hot tub than getting cooked.

What to do?

I’ll spare you the sad details of scallop broth splashing over the floor as I ferried the little pan to the sink. No seafood was left behind, though. Or in this case, none went down the drain.

I’d have to sauté the scallops.

Fine. I shoved the veggies to one side and popped the scallops into the same skillet.

Minutes later, they were ready. Great–now to serve up the quinoa.

I lifted the lid to access the fluffy side dish.

Instead, the little seeds literally floated around in the pan, still up to their necks in water. Here we had yet another hot-tub party, and me not even invited.

Tasting a few grains, I found them pretty much done, so I cranked up the flame to accelerate the process.

Eventually everything was done enough, the floor mopped up, and dinner was served.

Perhaps some day I’ll be able to regulate the stove flame, and maybe even find a true broiling pan that will fit in the toaster oven.

Meanwhile, sandwiches sound more appealing all the time.

Thanks for reading,

Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 14

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays.  Linda heroically offered to host this collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

And now for the 14th post in the series, which first appeared on my blog October 2, 2017.

The Interplanetary Appliance Conspiracy

On a recent trip to Washington state, Brent and I took a road trip to his boyhood home town. The next day found us driving for hours through the Cascades to get back to our kids’ house. Construction detours, rain, no cell service, verrrrrry spotty map info, snacks but no real lunch… Relief flooded us when, at about 1:00 PM, we finally came to Packwood–an actual town.

To our delight, we spotted a scruffy old pizza-and-burger place with beat-up pickups and motorcycles parked out front.

In a charming bit of anachronism, the ladies’ room boasted a contemporary wall-mount foam soap dispenser and a sleek cylindrical paper towel holder.

In due time, I washed my hands and reached under the cylinder for the corner of paper towel that should be sticking out. I didn’t feel any.

Just as I was about to frisk the holder more thoroughly, a deafening noise like a jet engine filled the air. At the same time, my outstretched hand came alive with an intense, eerie blue glow.

Adrenaline jolted me halfway across the room. Clearly, this was an alien abduction.

I regained my balance. Thankfully, both the shrill engine noise and the blue light faded away. Once my heart started beating again, it dawned on me that the “paper towel holder” must really be a warm-air hand dryer.

What I’d really like to know is how on earth the appliance revolt spread clear to the state of Washington. It’s like they knew I was coming.

Must be the aliens.

I’m no dummy… I wiped my hands on my pants.

If you’re ever in Packwood, Washington, be sure to stop at Cruisers Pizza. The food and people were great. (Click here for their Facebook page.)

But you might want to steer clear of the “paper towel holder” in the ladies’ room.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 12

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays.  Linda heroically offered to host this collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

And now for the twelfth post in the series, which first appeared on my blog May 24, 2017.

Navigate THIS!! (It’s a car thing)

About that trip to Missouri last week

My brother, David, and I drove to the town of Nevada from different directions. Next day, we agreed to each find our way north to Warsaw and meet at the Common Ground Cafe for lunch.

His rental car had an add-on navigation system, and my Infiniti of course has the latest version of GypsE ROSE. What could go wrong?

My route meandered up state highways alongside the Truman Reservoir before veering off onto a local road that approached town from the “back” side. At length I came to Highway 7, where I expected to turn right. But GypsE ROSE said to cross it.

The map showed me turning right just past 7, and crossing a bridge into town. Fine.

I turned off where indicated. Moments later, there was the bridge.

A footbridge. You know… for pedestrians.

“Not driving over that.” I pulled into a convenient parking lot to reconnoiter.

The cafe was only a half-mile away. Why not walk?

So I took off afoot. A man crossing the other way stopped to chat. I mentioned the cafe. He told me I’d see a convenience store and said, “That’s Main Street, just keep going.”

Soon I saw the store. Something stood between me and it: Highway 7 and some fast-moving traffic. “Not walking across that.” Back over the bridge and into the car. As soon as I turned to retrace my route, the map guidance changed to show me taking Highway 7 into town and turning onto Main.

“Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” I demanded.

I figured David would be tired of waiting for me by now, but as I parked I got a text from him. “Just got to the cafe.”

When we were seated, he told me his own nav system tale. . .

Shortly before he was to turn from a narrow farm road onto a highway, he accidentally pushed the steering wheel “phone” button. A feminine voice said, “Phone. Do you wish to make a call? After the tone, say ‘select a phone,’ ‘add a phone,’ or ‘no.'”

His nav chose that moment to say, “In zero point five miles, turn right onto Highway 83.”

Ms. Phone: “I didn’t understand that. Do you wish to make a call? After the tone, say ‘select a phone,’ ‘add a phone,’ or ‘no.'”

David was about to yell “NO,” but his nav butted in. “In zero point three miles, turn right onto Highway 83.”

Ms. Phone: “I didn’t understand that. Do you wish…”

David couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

Desperately trying to kill the phone and end this mechanical stalemate, he missed his turn and drove two miles before finding a place to turn around.

By the time he got to Warsaw, he figured I’d be tired of waiting for him.

I thought of my ongoing appliance battles. “There’s such a thing,” I said, “as too much technology.”

Thanks for reading!
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 11

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

And now for the eleventh post in the series, which first appeared on my blog March 1, 2017.

Protein Shaken, Part 2
Police Drawing of the Suspect
Police Drawing of the Suspect

When last we left Jan, she was wiping splashed protein shake from her face and was about to clean up the (major) portion that had dripped behind the refrigerator.

Spill + 3 minutes: Step one– Pull the fridge out away from the wall.

Spill + 4 minutes: Step t–wait, I’m still tryna move the fridge.

Spill + 11 minutes: It simply wouldn’t budge. I looked everywhere for the user manual.

Spill + 18 minutes: I couldn’t find any manual, so I looked it up on LG’s website. The online manual showed how to do every possible thing you might ever want to do with a fridge…. EXCEPT move it.

Spill + 24 minutes: I got on phone with a very nice person at LG, who spoke pretty good English as long as she didn’t have to stray from the script.

Spill + 25 minutes: We had to stray from the script.

As near as I could tell, she was claiming that I first had to retract the wheels so that the feet, not the wheels, were touching the floor.

Spill + 32 minutes: The LG lady wasn’t familiar with the term “counter-intuitive.”

Besides, I couldn’t even see the wheels OR feet, because a handy rubbery barrier like a giant squeegee blocked my view. You couldn’t get too mad, I guess, since it probably saved hundreds of green peas and blueberries from rolling under there and going bad.

Spill + 1 hour, 13 minutes: Brent came home.

Spill + 1 hour, 14 minutes: Brent wished he hadn’t come home.

Spill + 1 hour, 27 minutes: Brent somehow figured out how to get those stupid wheels to turn.

By the time we got the fridge rolled forward enough to clean behind it, I figured the shake mix would’ve dried up and I’d have to sort of chip it off the wall and floor. Not so… the protein had coagulated into wet, sticky, dark brown clots.

My kitchen floor looked like a violent-crime scene with dust bunnies.

That happened about a year ago, and I’m still having flashbacks.

I can assure you, though, that every time I serve up a scoop of protein-shake powder, I turn well away from the blender before re-closing the bag.

Maybe I should get a roll of Crime Scene tape, just in case.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 6

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

Without further ado, here is the sixth post in the series, which first appeared on my blog June 10, 2013.

How Coffee Put Me On Edge (It Ain’t the Caffeine)

For years, coffee made me crazy, and not because of the caffeine.

It was that underhanded coffeemaker of mine.

SunbeamYes, I know:
“Another appliance? Seriously?”

You have every right to ask, after the mishaps I’ve already described here. But hear me out.

I bought Mr. Sunbeam umpteen years ago when we lived in Arizona. That was back when I hated coffee. The only reason I got Sunbeam was so my parents and Brent’s, all coffee enthusiasts, could make their morning brew when any of them were visiting. They would fly or drive clear across the desert to see us. For my part, I’d unearth Mr. Sunbeam, dust him off and set him out on the counter. Oh, and run out to buy the smallest can of coffee I could find.

Years later when we lived in Texas and I worked in our church office, I started drinking coffee myself. Sometimes I even made a little at home on weekends. Sunbeam migrated out of the back of the pantry and into a place of honor on the kitchen counter.

And speaking of “counter,” Mr. Sunbeam had the most counter-intuitive on/off switch I have ever seen. Sure, it sounds insignificant… but with no automatic shutoff, you couldn’t just go away and leave him on all day. Not unless you wanted the aroma of scorched coffee wafting through the house when you got back.

So you’d go to turn him off. The bright-red switch has no light, only a black dot on the top. The black dot was firmly associated in my mind with a hot curling iron. My logic ran something like:

Black dot = hot = ON.

But Sunbeam was too tricky for that. No, the black dot only showed when the switch was turned OFF. For some reason it was a monumental chore to retrain my brain to read:

Black dot = OFF = not hot.

A tiny thing, to cause so much cognitive dissonance.

Fortunately, I was slightly smarter than my coffeemaker. I just unplugged it after pouring the last cup. Problem solved.

Then, our sons started drinking coffee too. When they came to visit I would make extra. Whoever took the last cup would decide the power was already turned OFF since the switch wasn’t lighted, and go on about their business. Hours later, the aroma of scorched coffee wafting through the house would alert me to the truth.

Well played, Mr. Sunbeam.

I got the last laugh, though–starting with a routine trip to Target one fateful day.

Meet Mr. Coffee: tall, dark and handsome. Not only that, he communicates with me. Notice the little green light that announces to the whole world: Mr. Coffee is ON. He’s practically my soul mate, though no one could ever really take Brent’s place.

But you know, I’m beginning to wonder whether Sunbeam really did make me crazy. Because now I sort of miss the aroma of scorched coffee wafting through the house.

Well… I almost miss it.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 5

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

Without further ado, here is the fifth post in the series, which first appeared on my blog October 3, 2012.

Microwave Mutiny!

Everything has been refreshingly peaceful on the appliance front. Once my car’s navigation system recovered from the trauma of having its maps updated, a simple process involving only two all-day road trips to the dealership, our appliances grew quiet and we all settled into a nice, smooth, efficient routine.

I should have known they were plotting a mutiny.

Two weeks ago, Brent’s dinner cooled off as he ate, so he popped his plate into the microwave for 30 seconds. In due time Micro stopped and sounded its signal. Brent pushed the door latch button, as usual, to retrieve his plate.

This time, not only did the door stay shut, but Micro turned itself back on and started cooking again. Several fruitless button-pushing attempts later, Brent’s dinner was overheating and he had to go into full-on Rescue Mode. Against both our better judgments, he pried the door open with a table knife and the microwavery stopped.

“Finally!” he said with relief, extracting the plateful of sizzling food. Then, from force of habit, he pushed the door shut. Micro lurched and started up again. It was like being terrorized by The Thing That Wouldn’t Die, until Brent grabbed the table knife again and put a stop to it.

The edge of the door was looking a bit dinged up.

That’s when the truth struck me: the appliances had discovered my blog posts about them! What other explanation could there be?

We unfastened the “trim kit” frame from the cabinet so we could remove and unplug the microwave, measured the opening for reference, then went on a little impromptu shopping expedition.

Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Target yielded not a single adequate oven that would work with the trim. We flatly refused to buy another trim kit because they cost more than the ovens. It was getting late, so we went home and somehow braved the next morning with no microwave.

The anguish! For instance, I actually had to drink my coffee before it got cold.

The next evening, we ran across an electronics store in Arlington and looked there for Micro’s replacement. We found a nice oven, measured it and took it home. After we wrestled it out of its box, I held the trim up in front of it and released the door. “Clang!” The too-tall door made a nice, cheerful sound hitting the frame. We made some less cheerful sounds and boxed it back up, then set it out in the garage with the broken oven.

Next day was Saturday. We set out, determined to find a microwave. We chose one at Sears, measured it twice, and adopted our second replacement. This time we knew the door was short enough to open through the trim. Sure enough, it opened easily. Then Brent tried to mount the oven onto the little stand that holds it in place on the cabinet floor. This oven was too narrow to fit onto the stand.

We were getting pretty good at re-boxing rejected microwaves.

On Sunday, we stopped by the storage unit and retrieved our son’s old dorm microwave until we could find a real one. By now we had a tower of four microwave ovens in our garage. They were beginning to make me nervous. Brent ended up ordering the same model microwave as the broken one, which after all had lasted five years.

Monday afternoon, we each took a reject microwave back to its store. Then on Thursday, one week after the uprising began, the new microwave arrived and the driver picked up the old one for us. Good riddance. The model had changed a bit; this oven did not quite reach all the way to the back of the stand. Don’t tell anyone, but a short piece of 2×4 filled the space perfectly.

Now all we have to deal with is the much-brighter clock light. The numbers are an intense blue and really light up the kitchen overnight. Seriously, it’s messing with my house plants’ photosynthesis cycle. But at least the door opens without taking knives to it.

And I can walk through the garage again, unarmed and without turning sideways.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 4

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

Without further ado, here is the fourth post in the series, which first appeared on my blog March 20, 2012.

James Bond Wants My Vacuum Cleaner

My vacuum cleaner has it in for me. If you’re familiar with the history between me and my appliances, this will not surprise you.

The old vacuum, may it rest in peace, was pretty simple. You just set the carpet height for “low,” “medium,” or “shag,” plugged it in, turned it on and tangoed around the room with it. But you couldn’t use it on bare floors–only carpet.

This newer one has a permanently fixed hose for attachments and offers to vacuum bare floors, too. Add to that the expanses of tile in our house and two shedding dogs, and you can see why we chose it.

Ah, but “more versatile” also means “more complicated,” doesn’t it? This particular model has three different knobs/levers, all of which must be synced for successful vacuuming. For a half-hour aerobic workout combined with strength training, right in your own home, just turn all the settings and latches to the correct positions for whatever vacuuming you want to do. The actual vacuuming job, once you’ve turned the thing on, counts as extra bonus points.

The biggest knob and the easiest to turn, not that it’s all that easy, is located right at the top. It directs the suction either through the hose or from the floor. So far, so good.

Let’s say you set the first selector to “floor.” Then you turn to the base of the machine. This is where things get sticky. The Carpet Height Selector has nine settings, from High to Low. Inexplicably stuck in between Low and Kind-of-Low is the setting for Bare Floor.

A toggle switch to the right, marked “Brush Roll Control,” is deceptively easy to switch from Carpet to Bare Floor. I say “deceptively” because the blasted thing often pretends to go along with your choice, but switches itself once you turn on the vacuum. At that point it becomes almost impossible to switch back. Whichever setting you want, it will without fail revert to the other one.

Last, you have to press the handle release so the vacuum will unbend and you can push it around. DO NOT attempt this unless you have sturdy shoes on. Even Brent almost has to jump up and down on the release before it will… um… release.

But instead, suppose you set the first knob to “hose.” This is more fun, as you get to fix the attachments onto the basic hose, matching extenders and nozzles to the job at hand. Afterward, of course, you have to put all the pieces back into their cubbyholes on the body of the machine. Vague diagrams help a little. It’s like playing with a Transformer.

One day the pretty spring weather called to me. I went out and started pulling weeds in my veggie garden, which was still damp from the last rain. Soon I ran inside the house to answer the phone, without removing my gardening shoes (“my gardening shoes” = a technical term for “my oldest sneakers”). Hours later I noticed the kitchen floor was littered with little dried mud pellets which had fallen off my shoes.

“Boy, it’s a good thing I can vacuum bare floors!” my optimistic self enthused.

After ensuring that the vacuum was set to suck up from the floor and not through the hose, I wrenched the Carpet Height knob around and flicked the toggle switch up so that both were set to “Bare Floor.”

I was barefoot by this time, so I had to slip one foot into a shoe while I jumped on the handle latch until I could get it released. Finally I turned on the vacuum, which proceeded to fling dozens of tiny dried mud pellets at my bare toes. Yep, the brush switch had toggled itself back to Carpet.

It has Transformer capability, ninja skills and secret weapons. And that is why James Bond wants my vacuum cleaner.

Any ideas on how I can finally Bond with my appliances?

Thanks for reading,
Jan