Howdy, folks! Staff writer tryouts still have a few days left, but I jotted a quick post this morning and thought I’d squeeze it in this afternoon just to break things up. I wrote a MAMMOTH post about taxes yesterday, but I don’t know if it’ll ever see the light of day. It’s a sort of tedious subject. See you again on Monday!

I had to smile to myself as I walked up to my office this morning. One of our neighbors has hung their laundry out to dry on their front porch. I think this is great, and hope that others in our neighborhood agree. (I’ll bet they do; it’s that kind of neighborhood.)

This reminded me of the book I’ve been reading. In February, I asked GRS readers to recommend books with true-life stories about frugality. A couple of readers recommended Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish, a memoir about growing up in Iowa during the Great Depression. I’ve finally made time to read it, and it’s excellent. Naturally, in the 1930s clothes were hung out to dry — even in winter. It was a family affair, and people liked doing it (probably because they hated the actual washing part of the chore):

Is there any sense trying to make the modern-day reader understand the immense satisfaction we experienced in viewing our bright, clean wash arranged in such a meticulous fashion on the clothesline? Heaven knows we had more than enough to do without this added display of superhousewifery. But the whole ritual was a matter of pride.


To crawl between crisp sheets, warm and fresh from the sun and air, at the end of a bone-wearying day, is one of the true soul-restoring luxuries of life, which hardly anyone of the current generation will ever know.

Seeing the neighbor’s laundry also reminded me of something that happened over the weekend.

The electricity bill came on Saturday. This is one of Kris’ bills, so I don’t usually see it. But she brought it to me glowing with pride. “Look at our power consumption this year compared to last year,” she said.

“Wow,” I said. “It’s dropped by a third.”

“I know. And do you know why that is?” asked Kris.

“Because I moved my computer up the street to the office?” I guessed. Kris shook her head.

“I think it’s because I’ve been hanging the clothes out to dry,” she said. “I think that’s the entire reason. A clothes dryer uses a lot of electricity. It’s a little more work to use a clothesline, but it’s a lot more satisfying.”

I think our electricity usage has dropped for a combination of these two reasons: moving my work computer out of the house and drying clothes outdoors. Whatever the case, our costs have dropped along with our usage. Our average daily electricity cost is down from $2.50 to $1.85. Sixty-five cents a day won’t make us rich, but it’ll certainly buy us a couple of nice meals on our trip to France next year!

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