This vacuum sucks.
After taking out and shaking out the floor mats and dropping six quarters into the machine at the corner Mobil gas station, I expected crumbs, seeds, kernels, fuzz, leaf bits, gum wrappers and dirt to leap off the car floor and into the blue hose. I expected a suction that, if accidentally aimed at the cat, would require the screeching feline to be retrieved from the machine by its tail.
This vacuum had all the pull of John Boehner.
But in my semi-retired status I have no semi-valid excuses for a dirty car. And on this decent fall day, I was desperate to do something semi-useful while continuing to avoid raking our leaf-carpeted lawn.
After the disappointment at the gas station, I decided to give my aging Kenmore upright a shot. First I had to move the grill, bicycle and old patio chairs (replaced but, true to form, not discarded) to the other side of the garage to be able to pull the car in near an outlet. Then I lugged over Old Faithful and plugged her in.
I guess none of has the suction we used to. Still, she did better than the Mobil vacuum, with no quarters required, and Ms. Kenmore toppled over onto the concrete floor only five or six times, without cracking her plastic body. Next I dusted off a spray bottle of leather cleaner from the first Roosevelt administration and spruced up the seats, shined up the dashboard and successfully killed another afternoon.
Having checked off a chore that wasn’t even on my to-do list, I suddenly remembered one that was: staining our two cement steps to protect the repairs made in the spring by Tom, a mason by trade and my go-to guy for anything more complicated than changing a three-way bulb.
My painting ability begins and ends with knowing which end of the brush to hold, assuming someone has correctly handed me the brush. But Tom assured me this is something I can and should do.
My first mistake was agreeing with him. My second was, in a spurt of newly retired enthusiasm, buying a can of stain and a sprayer, knowing deep in my heart that having to mix stain with water, fill a sprayer, and spray was a disaster waiting to happen. Suddenly it was two months later and three weeks into October, with colder, darker and wetter days looming and the window of opportunity closing.
I called Tom in hopes of a bailout. You can do it, he repeated, encouragingly. You should have bought stain that you don’t have to mix with water. Use a two-inch brush. Be sure to clean the steps with bleach first. Remember you need a pod (whatever that is) to hold the paint and water. Get a good drop cloth and it will last you the rest of your life, he added, while I’m thinking that lifetime guarantees don’t impress me at this stage of the game.
To my surprise, Tom showed up 20 minutes later at Sherwin Williams, where I was fretting over brushes, drop cloths and non-diluting stains, and guided me through the purchase. To my surprise, he still expected me to do the job myself. And to my surprise, I did.
Now, darn it, I’ve got to pick up the rake.