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Fighting a losing dust-bunny battle

I've spent the better part of my morning trying to vacuum.

My daughter had a play date and my boys went to school, so I had the day to myself to do as I pleased. I planned to do a few chores, a little shopping, and maybe even complete a thought without interruption.

The vacuum cleaner foiled it, however.

About a month ago, it started making a high pitched whistling noise that stimulated neighborhood dogs into howling relentlessly. But I didn't think it meant anything; just another blister on the thumb of life.

Today, it sounded no different. After a couple of rooms, I stopped to empty the canister. Low and behold the container held not one particle of dirt. Not one!

"Wow!" I thought to myself, "I'm not such a bad housekeeper in spite of everything." My alter ego, always ready to dash my elation on the crags of contentment, screamed at me "You ninny, there's something wrong with your vacuum!"

Ah, the voice of reason speaks when not spoken to. I began dismantling my machinery with a barely graspable three inch long Phillips head screw driver; the only one I could find. Every piece that I could disassemble lay on the floor alongside a pile of screws.

Then I did things I'm sure the owner's manual, if I could find it, explicitly warns desperate housewives not to; like turning on the equipment and plunging a hand into the dark, cavernous underside, while the spinning brush threatens to drag you in by the bracelet, one charm at a time.

Flipping the apparatus on and off several times and touching it where I shouldn't, I enjoyed a few moments of cheap, adrenalin pumping thrills. But the real problem, a clog in the exterior hose, begged me to reluctantly put aside my risk taking. So, I shook the tube. I quivered it. I shuddered it. And I wobbled it.

Nothing sprang free. I put my mouth on one end and blew as hard as I could. A puff of dust escaped from the other. Sucking in deeply to repeat the procedure, I realized, too late, the error of my ways.

My efforts resulted in nothing more than a brown rainbow of dirt encircling my mouth, and a blackened lung.

With my day on the downhill slide, I took the hose upstairs where I yanked a hanger out of the closet, untwisted it and rammed it into the tube. I shoved the metal hanger in and out of the cylinder while madly swinging the hose above my head, like a lasso, in an attempt to dislodge the blockage.

More dust poofed out.

A brilliant idea struck me. I made a hook on the end of the hanger, wrestled it into the heart of the obstruction, and pulled. A little piece of "nuh" emerged, attached to the hook. Several more tries brought out a huge mass that closely resembled the owl pellet my son brought home from a field trip; except my pellet contained a pink plastic dinosaur, one purple crayon, two marbles, and an earring I had missed so long that I threw away the match, instead of mouse bones.

And my machine didn't voluntarily cough it up for me. And I didn't save it to show my family what an exciting day I'd had.

At the writing of this, the vacuum cleaner sits in the den, partially reassembled, because, just to be sure, before putting it together again, I tested it on the mess I made taking it apart.

Now, as some of you may know, I'm missing a screw.

Web posted on Thursday, January 6, 2005


Temperature:53° F
Wind:from the W at 5 MPH
Visibility:10 miles
Dew Point:53° F
Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01

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