Sunday, November 6, 2011

The no-frills life

The cat's feeling blue
Reading Len Penzo Dot Com, an intriguing post about living "a no-frills lifestyle."  Well, we do that, though with a lot more medical expense than he has, despite pretty decent insurance.  So it got me thinking about frills and no-frills.  A frill - charming word, say it - say it slowly, draw out those lll's - okay, a frill is an ornament, an extra, superfluous.  Aha.  In our life that would be travel; new clothes (instead of thrift store); eating at good restaurants; going out to movies, plays, concerts; consuming recreational substances; re-decorating when those chairs are perfectly good. . . .

We are thrilled (another fun word to say, roll the r) to be getting a lot of small electrical updating done in a couple of days, due to a coupon in Angie's List, which is not, strictly speaking, essential to sustain life, so maybe subscribing to it is a sort of frrrilllllllll.  But you can't just let a house fall down around you.

Where was I?  Of all these things, it is travel that hurts me.  It's my fault I read the NY Times and yearn to go to art exhibitions of all kinds.  And have a number of facebook friends who just travel their ass off and post the pictures from their smart phones.  Sigh.  But I do have a Droid now, and worth every penny to me.  You can actually live without even the most basic cellphone - I just talked to a woman the other day who doesn't have one.  No kidding.  I said, "You go out in your car at night without a phone?"  She nodded happily.

Here's the thing that it seems Tom and I picked up from our parents, who were Great Depression kids: there is a difference between what you need and what you want. I remain astounded at the number of people who don't understand that.  I knew a woman, single, working a modest white-collar job like me, whose washer broke or something, and she HAD TO have a brand new washer.

I said, "You could use a laundromat."  Did she shudder, maybe? or just look at me like I was crazy?

"My laundry is important to me," she said.  And indeed, her clothes were too, and kept her perpetually worrying her debt.  Buy new clothes to take your mind off your debt, wash them in your very own brand new washer.  I am serious - that woman believed she had to have that brand-new (not rebuilt like we bought) washer.  Had to.

I have been encouraged to write about how in olden days (the sixties) I washed on a wringer washer - it was nice, electrified - and hung clothes out in the summer, or in the furnace room in winter.  The house was previously owned by an old Italian lady, so the furnace room had these wooden things you could lace clothesline on, ready to go.

Yes, it is possible to live that way.  Though I was young and hey, I live here too, and I saw the commercials, so in time I, too, had an automatic washer and dryer, and still do.  And fancy?  The damn thing can tell when the clothes are dry.  Then it keeps tumbling them on air and calls for me.  It annoys me.  I have to stop playing Angry Birds and go fold the clothes.  And put them away, sometimes.  Why doesn't it do that for me?

I do sulk about that.  It's been a marvel to me how progress has not yet given me a life of uninterrupted leisure.  But as my mother would say, you'll get to rest soon enough.

[image: That is the color of Tashi's fur in the original photo. And BTW, she is a decidedly expensive frill.]


  1. I do remember how wringer washer and put rubber diapers through that wringer diapers and explodes, and garments sometimes get stuck going around and around and around those wringers. I remember having to disassemble the whole wringer head to get something untangled. and I ruined a couple of shirts
    Did you ever get anything caught in a wringer?or ruined a couple of shirts? Thanks for the reminders .

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  3. Anne - Oh yes. You're reminding me of broken shirt buttons. Yes, things getting wrapped around. And diapers, real diapers that you washed and used again and again. Sheets getting tangled round. As for hanging laundry outside, remember having to rush to take it down when it was about to rain? It really was a lot of work. On the other hand, nobody had to go to the gym to exercise.

  4. Okay, don't make me say that my washing machine is a frill, because all the laundry I do all the time doesn't make me feel too frilly and fancy-free. Waaa! I live a frill-free life! I need some freaking frills!

  5. I will await a photo of your head in an Elizabethan collar.