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Frugality Ain't What It Used To Be

Google just added a silly slide out panel to the new Gmail. It serves no purpose, gets in my way, and I find it very annoying. I think most businesses of today feel they won't be considered progressive unless they're constantly making changes, whether needed or not, whether good or not.

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My whole house, from roof to crawl space is being renovated. I am shocked every day at how things have changed. I have been in denial for a long time. I can't deny it any longer. I am getting old(er) and living in the past.

I don't have a new washer, but I will mention washing machines just for good measure. I well remember when Mama finally ditched her old wringer washer after twenty-plus years of dependable service. It still ran fine and had many more years of service left in it.

The washer was replaced with a brand new GE Filter Flow machine. That new contraption looked so nice, but would it last? At least, we wouldn't have to fold shirts and anything else with buttons on it, so that the buttons were deep within the folds. Putting a shirt through a wringer without folding the buttons to the inside was a good way to get half of the buttons ripped off.

Maybe the best part about the new washer was that it was plumbed in. That meant no more hauling buckets of water to fill the thing and no more draining the dirty water into buckets to be hauled away. Nice, but would this new washer last?

Can you believe there were no push buttons on this new machine? Not one! Just turn dials. Water temperature could be adjusted from cold to hot or anywhere in between with a simple twist of a dial. Simple, elegant.

One of my favorite features of this new washer was that I could adjust the water level from as little as a gallon to completely full. A real water saver, but would it last? Only time would tell.

Well People, Mama got over twenty years of good service out of that machine. After she died, I moved it to my business where it was used every day for over five years. I had to replace the transmission after a couple of years. It ran like a brand new one for several more years. It was still running like new when I sold the business and the washer was part of the deal.

The washer I have now is a used one, given to me by my sister. She felt it didn't spin enough of the water from the clothes. I have no problem with the washer, but she has a problem with her new replacement washer. There is no feeling about it, her new washer definitely leaves far too much water in the clothes after spinning. She spends a small fortune on drying her clothes. Not good for pocket book or environment.

Lots and lots of features on her new washer, though. You almost need a college degree to operate the thing. But, with all those dials and buttons and LED displays, and its programmability; It can't do a simple thing like spin enough water out of the clothes.

After six months of disgust, my sister wishes she hadn't gotten the new washer and would really like to have another one. A far cry from the old wringer and GE Filter Flow washers of yesterday. You couldn't kill those things. And the GE spinned so much water from the clothes, it was like using an extractor you find in laundromats. The extractors are there because the washing machines don't spin enough water from the clothes. Another rip off.

One nice feature about washers for several years now, is that clean water is sprayed onto the clothes shortly after they begin to spin. This helps the rinse cycle to be more effective. But, the final rinse should not have this spray of water. It rinses most of the fabric softener from the clothes. Try finding a washer today that doesn't spray most of your Downy down the drain. Another good thing gone bad.

Stoves? Honey, don't even get me started on stoves. I learned to cook on a wood burning stove. You know, the kind made of heavy cast iron, and if properly cared for, would last a hundred years. Sure, I had to haul armloads of wood from the wood pile and build a fire in the stove. But heck, I was young and loved every minute of it. Our Red Mountain range had no digital displays. We didn't even know what a digital display was. Well, maybe those naughty boys giving other boys 'the finger' would qualify.

Today, stoves are not stoves, they are electric ranges. And unless you fork over $1000.00 to $2000.00, they are toys. The less expensive ones, like mine, remind me of the Easy Bake toy ovens of 1963. Remember? Those ovens designed for every ten year old Suzie Homemaker? Well, the heating element in those toy stoves was a light bulb, no less!

My old electric stove, circa 1950, came with the house. After 65 <> years, I can no longer find elements for it. If I could, I would be using that stove today. I need a digital display like I need another hole in my head.

Knowing how dependable older things are, I thought I would try to find a good used stove. I found one offered on FreeCycle. A picture of the stove made it look immaculate. I paid a guy $30.00 to get it to my house. If that stove weighed a pound, it weighed 350 pounds.

It sat on my back porch for a day or two and I decided to tackle the task of a thorough cleaning. The more I looked, the more disappointed I became. It was not immaculate. It was filthy. It would have taken me so long to clean the stove, I decided it wasn't worth it. I would, regrettably, have to buy a new one.

My new stove weighs in at around 145 pounds. I wondered why it came with a bracket to permanently secure it to the floor. Now, I know. This thing is so light weight, there is an actual danger of a child tipping it over unless it is screwed to the floor. Did I mention it's a GE?

The metal is so thin, the stove makes loud thumping noises when heating or cooling down, pretty much like a bread pan that sometimes will 'pop' when the oven is heating up. Can I please have my old cast iron wood stove back? Please?

Who needs electronic displays and push buttons? With my old stove, if I wanted to warm something in the oven at 170 degrees, all I did was turn the dial to 'Low'. Simple and sweet. Not so with my new stove.

First, I have to push the 'Bake' button. As the oven has a default temperature of 350 degrees, it also has plus and minus buttons for changing the default temperature. I have to press the minus button and wait and wait and wait while the digital display shows the setting going from 350 degrees to 170 degrees in five degree increments. Then, and only then, can I press the 'Start ' button to actually begin to warm my food. A total waste of time. I could have done the same with a turn dial in half a second. Is this stupid or what?

Suppose I'm baking something at 450 degrees and want to lower the temperature to 400 degrees for the last few minutes of baking. Simple as turning a dial from 450 to 400 in a split second, right? No! I have to cancel baking, period. Then, go through the whole process of Bake button, display going from 350 to 400, and then pressing the start button. This damned new stove has so many 'convenience' features, it is very inconvenient to use. And I had to pay for this junk. It's all about money. I figure it's cheaper for the manufacturers to print a circuit for the LED display than it is to make a plastic knob.

My contractor called and said it would cost me $85.00 to get the bathroom vanity I picked out, shipped to the store. He suggested a similar vanity that the store (Lowes) had in stock. I went with the one in stock to save the $85.00. Now hear this: The one in stock had to be shipped to the store, too. Why do I not have to pay shipping for that one? Another rip off.

Things are being made as cheaply as possible. I never dreamed a bathtub faucet would be made without a 'volume control'. I was wrong. The faucet installed in my new tub does not have a volume control. I can turn it from cold to hot, but it is full force or nothing. No more slow trickle should I want to take a long, leisurely shower. How cheap can you get? The faucet will be replaced with one that has a volume control. Everything costs more, but you get less for your money. Back in the 50s, everyone was complaining about how everything was being imported from Japan and how cheaply made those imports were. They had no idea what 'cheap' was.

I am giving strict orders to my contractor: Do not haul anything else away without my OK. My new toilet is one of those 'low flow' thrones. City code requires this type of toilet for all new installations. Whoever says these efficiency crappers save water is full of what the thing is supposed to flush down the drain. Common sense says if you have to flush a toilet 4-5 times to get a clean flush, you are wasting, not saving, water. Had my old, but new looking toilet not been hauled to the dump, I would have had the new one ripped out and replaced it with the old just as soon as inspections were over. Yes, even after shelling out money for the new 'water saving' model.

In an effort to make our lives better, are those who write the codes actually making them worse? I wonder. An inspection showed the paint on my house (under vinyl siding) to be lead based. (Even my kitchen sink showed traces of lead and must be replaced). My contractor said he found it quite ironic that all that lead laden paint scraped from the clapboards of my house by men in heavy, protective suits, would simply be hauled to the city dump in heavy gauge plastic where, when dispersed by graders, would contaminate large areas of soil.

My 'new' home will be a lead free dwelling, but at what expense? Whose to say that at some point in time, the dumps wont be reclaimed and people wont grow vegetables there? I don't know the best way to dispose of lead, maybe sealing it in concrete? I do know just moving it from one place to another is a stupid way to deal with it. The people of 2050 will look back on us and think what backwards and ignorant heathens we were.

My house is not large. Still, there are rooms I see no need in heating during winter. I almost never go into them. Even though all the registers can be closed, partially or fully, my contractor advised against doing so. He said to do so would put a strain on the heat pump, causing it to work harder and in effect, shorten the life span of the unit.

Do you mean to tell me, in this day and age, heat pumps can't be designed to sense restricted air flow and compensate for same by reducing the force of the fans or whatever? Totally unbelievable.

So, what I'll have to do, is keep the thermostat set at about 55-60 degrees. That way I won't have to close registers in rooms I seldom enter. As for the temperature in the rooms I spend most all of my time, well, I see no alternative but to buy small space heaters and use them where I need it warmer. So much for my new energy-saving heat pump. All these new energy/money saving contraptions will be costing me money, not saving money.

Around $70,000 was to be the final amount of cost for these renovations. After I change/replace all those money/energy/water saving devices, (at least those that I can), my 'final' cost will be well over $100,000.

A good friend and fellow ThriftyFun member was delighted to hear that I was having the house redone. She said she wished her parents would do the same as their home was getting quite a bit older. Well, I have one thing to say to that dear friend:

Girl, shut your mouth!

Someone said 'These are the good old days'. I'm not so sure.

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Not only are material goods not made the way they use to be, neither are our bodies. I fondly remember a grandmother of my teenage sweetheart. She was an intellectual, to be sure. She was an artist and her favorite medium was oils. She was an avid reader and quite knowledgeable about the affairs of the world, ancient and current.

Always neat as a pin, she bathed from an old, chipped porcelain pan with water she had drawn from a well and heated on a tiny, one burner cast iron coal stove. Her one-room shanty had no plumbing. When nature called, a trek to the outhouse was made. Zero degrees and a foot of snow were not to be considered.

She had no electricity except for one cord with a light bulb. That same cord had an attachment permitting her to plug in her huge floor model radio, her only source of 'worldly' entertainment.

To be perfectly honest, I derived as much pleasure from sitting quietly and listening to this wise, learned, seventy-four old woman as I did dating her granddaughter.

I am amazed to think how, after the fire went out in her tiny stove at night, she went to bed and slept through the night. No heat. Single board, drafty walls. No insulation. No electric blanket. She endured the elements in a way few of us today could.

My contractor is trying to make my transition as smooth and comfortable as possible. I was never without water for more than a few hours. (Showering was a different matter). I was without heat for a couple of nights, though.

I did not sleep at all those two nights. I tossed and turned all night, trying to get warm. With plenty of cover, I never did get warm enough to fall asleep.

Now, my mind drifts back to the days when I knew and spent so much time with my good friend, Cora. (She was 'Granny' to me back then). How in the world did she sleep in that tiny one-room shack when the inside temperature was the same as the outside temperature, be it 5 degrees?

No, People, they don't make our bodies the way they used to. But then, maybe it's just a mindset. I honestly think folks back then were wired with a durability and tenacity not found in today's breed.

So, just when were the good old days? Hardships and all, surely they were in the past, long gone, never to return.

I am thankful to have been able to live for at least a few years in those good old days. Does having done so make me more appreciative of the luxuries and conveniences of today? No. It makes me want to return to those days.

Those were the real good old days.

I miss you, Cora.

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November 9, 20180 found this helpful

Your reno hasn't been exciting I'm sure, but the positive is that your roof doesn't leak and you're living in a warm lead free home with the pipes and wiring new and up to code. And, you can shower and cook again even if you're not 100% pleased with the fixtures.

With the colder weather now, you can also bake a brandied apple and walnut cake that will satisfy your sweet tooth and make the house smell ever so nice. It might even evoke gentle memories that you thought you'd forgotten. You're home.

I agree that the new gmail slide panel is a pain in the neck. I won't be using that email very much. There are other providers that meet my everyday needs and don't spring mandatory unwanted changes on a person.

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Living simply and honestly is a much less hectic and tiresome lifestyle than what is imposed on and accepted by today's society in general and day by day it makes me want my log cabin in the woods more. It's a pipe dream but that's ok. Remembering family and friends with fondness is such a pleasure, isn't it? I guess we "oldsters" do that a lot; I sure do.

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