Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Grandma's house volumn 2

There are a lot of things that you can do to save money and energy that really don't take a lot of skill, time or effort. I try to think about how things were done 60 or 70 years ago. Clotheslines, wood heat, open windows, growing our own food...all of these things are not only "greener" but they will cut your bills dramatically.

I think of my Grandma's house for inspiration. She had AC but she almost never used it. She used cross ventilation with the open windows and occasionally she would use a box fan by the screen door in the kitchen when it got really hot.

She had a big garden where she grew most of the food for the year. Almost every meal had brown beans, potatoes, and biscuits. Breakfast was biscuits, bacon, eggs, and gravy. Sometimes as a treat for us kids, she would make chocolate gravy. Spooned over buttered biscuits, it was about the best thing we ever ate.

White bread wasn't something they ate very much. It was always biscuits. I remember she had this big flour bin beside the stove. She would put about 20 pounds of flour in there at a time and just dip out what she needed. There was also a salt cellar and a grease can on the stove. There was always a gallon jar of sweet tea in the fridge right beside the carton of buttermilk.

I don't think my grandma ever bought a box of hamburger helper or a TV dinner. There was a lot of chicken and pork, but not much beef. She sure could make a mean pot of chicken 'n dumplins.

There was a clothesline that was used just about every day. It had to be pouring down rain for her to not hang out clothes. Granted, she had a dryer, it just wasn't used much. She also had a dishwasher that she kept out on the stoop. The only time it was ever used was when the whole family was there. The rest of the time, they were done in the sink. She didn't have a garbage disposal because she took everything either to the pigs or chickens. She finally did break down and buy an electric percolator coffee pot. But she complained about it just not tasting right for the rest of the year.

I really miss my grandmother. She taught me how to peel a potato, make biscuits and gravy, chicken and dumplings, how to sew and quilt, and she taught me the value of the old ways. I still remember the time I mouthed off about how a rub board didn't look so hard. Then I got to wash a week's worth of my Pawpaw's work clothes on the board with lye soap. Then I got to do them again because they were not clean. I learned very quickly how to do it and that I didn't want to do it again.

Peanut butter cake was always on the table when we came over. With a cold glass of milk, that was about the best way to end a meal we could think of.

They never seemed to be stressed about anything, not even money. They were both living on a next to nothing Social Security check. Yet there was never a lack of anything. Once or twice a month they would drive the 20 miles into town. The grocery store was always the last stop. The only things she would buy were sugar, coffee, flour, maybe some meat if it was on sale, tea, salt and pepper, and maybe some butter or margarine. They just didn't need anything else. Very rarely, they would walk down to the corner market and buy lunch meat for sandwiches, but never more than a pound.

If I think back, life was much simpler when all you had to worry about was whether or not it would rain when you needed to pick beans or hang out clothes.

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