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Monday, March 12, 2012

Modern Conveniences


When I think about the periods I like to write about – Regency and Georgian – it doesn’t seem like it would be so bad to live in that era.  Well, most of my characters have servants, which makes it all the more comfortable.  Besides offering heat, a fireplace can be very romantic, as are candles. 

Then there is the issue of food and cooking.  While they didn’t have the type of stove and oven that we are used to, they had something similar enough to get the job done, and probably with a bit more accuracy than my grilling.  Of course, one could always make a foil meal.  Do any of you former scouts remember making a hamburger patty, adding carrots, onions and potatoes and wrapping them up in foil and tossing them into the fire pit to cook?  I’ve done that with my kids in our fireplace.  They loved it. Oh, and have you ever made Banana boats?  You take a not too ripe banana. Peel back only one section and scoop out a trench. Toss some chocolate chips in, fold the flap back over and wrap the whole thing in foil and cook it in fire.  Oh my goodness, it is wonderful.  But, enough of the cooking over an open flame.

 I had decided that living back then may not be so difficult. I would miss the internet, cable television and such, or would I? They hadn’t been invented yet so I wouldn’t know about them. Instead, I would be socializing with real people at balls every night. It can’t get any better than that, right?

Wrong.  I recently learned there is one thing I cannot live without.  The water heater.  A few weeks ago it went out on a Sunday and we had to wait for the part to come in.  For four days we heated water on the stove and hauled it to the bathtub.  There were pots on all burners constantly (or so it seemed) waiting for the water to heat.  Once they were poured in the tub, we had to add cold water to bring it down to a temperature one could actually step into.  This was inconvenient, to say the least.  A shower was out of the question.  The water was frigid and you would turn blue after a few moments. Perhaps if I would have had a staff of footmen and maids to see to the task of hauling the water it wouldn’t have been so bad. 

The worst part was washing my hair.  I opted to do this in the kitchen sink and used the tea kettle for convenience.  My husband, wonderful man that he is, assisted.  He poured the water over my head to get the hair wet, then I soaped and lathered. When it came time to rinse, I had to keep moving my head so I could get behind the ears, both sides and the front to get all of the soap out.  I tried giving direction, but it didn’t work so well. By the time we were finished, the counters were soaked, as were the floors.  I love my husband, he spoils me rotten and he is a great guy. But, he makes a lousy lady’s maid.

The shower I was finally able to take on Thursday night was the absolutely best shower in my entire life.  So, maybe it wasn’t so easy living back then.  I am sure if I paused to think about it, there are a number of things I wouldn’t want to do without, but right now, the water heater is the most important.

Which appliance or modern convenience could you not life without?

20 comments:

  1. It's the lack of medical help that haunts me at the idea. life without antibiotics and modern surgery...very different.

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    1. Good point, Deb. I shudder just thinking about the few health issues I've had in my life and how they would have been treated back then.

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  2. I have to say I'm rather fond of electricity most of all. I do agree with you on the water heater too. In all honesty, I can't live without my convinces. Yes, I know that makes me spoil, but that's ok.
    When we lived in Louisiana about 5years ago I watched a transformer blow near my house. It happen to be the one that was connected to our house. We lost power for 3-4 days. Not fun trying to keep our food cold with ice. Then again trying to find ice sucked. I was thankful for grills and gas stove tops.
    Electricity would be The modern convience I can't live without.

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    1. Melody, After 3 or 4 days without electricity my list would be much longer and the water heater probably wouldn't even be #1 of conveniences I couldn't live with out.

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  3. Ooh, the banana boats sound good!

    It's hard to pick just one. I like living in modern times. I wouldn't want to be without indoor plumbing, electricity, cars, or jets. I would hate rarely seeing family because it was too far to travel, and really, adequate waste disposal is a must for disease control.

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    1. Samantha,

      Banana boats are the best. I think we may have added mini marshmallows too, but I can't remember for sure. Try them with your kids on the grill or fireplace. They will love them. I think I may have to have one tonight.

      Hooray for indoor plumbing! While I love my shower and bath, I think I would rather heat water on a stove than deal with an outhouse or chamber pot.

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  4. I'd have to say cooking doesn't intimidate me...but the idea of having to take a carriage to get anywhere instead of a car? Oy. I like being able to get in my car and drive as many miles in an hour as a carriage could take you in a full day. So cars...and planes. Yeah. Those would be the things I wouldn't do so well without.

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    1. I don't think I would travel well. I get impatient to get places in a car. I couldn't imagine the time it would take to get somewhere in a carriage.

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  5. I would have to agree about electricity and antibiotics. Getting a sinus infection is no longer a life-threatening thing, you know?

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    1. Lily,
      Antibiotics are a must. I know I've needed them and my kids.

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  6. I agree about the medicine, absolutely. After my son just had a fever for 5 days that could only be managed with constant medication, I shudder to think what would have happened to him if we lived 200 years ago.
    I agree about the water heater too! My grandmere has a cottage in Canada that I would visit during the summers. She only had a claw-foot tub, so you had to either wash your hair in the sink (which I became very adept at) or pour water over your hair while sitting in the tub. Or, we washed in the lake. Which was very, very cold!

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    1. Olivia,

      I've always wanted a claw-foot tub. I would fill that baby with hot water, sink under some bubbles, read a good book, sip a glass of wine and not come out until I was wrinkled. I like my hot, comforting baths, which is probably why the water heater going out prompted my blog - lol.

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  7. As a disabled person, I would have to agree with lack of advanced medical help. I have to also agree with electricity but not as much for entertainment. I love to read and hand-sew so I would be ok.
    ldwrncpn@comcast.net

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    1. Lori,

      We do have it so much better with regard to medicine than they did in the Georgian period. I still can't believe someone thought bleeding a sick person was a good idea and that it could heal someone. Thank goodness medicine has advanced.

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  8. Being an author, I have to go with computer. I remember writing out scenes by hand in the early stages of my career and then typing them which was kind of like a first edit. Sometimes it is still therapeutic to do so, but I can't imagine that being my only option. For one thing my handwriting isn't all that great. I'd be the only one who could read my manuscript.

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    1. Ava,

      I wrote my first two manuscripts by hand and the first one was over 200,000 words (with every new author mistake that has ever been invented). If I had to continue to write that way, I would give up writing. Jotting down notes, are fine. A whole novel again - no thank you.

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  9. I remember visiting a remote, rustic cabin in Siberia for a weekend getaway when I spent a summer in Russia. There was a rainbarrel near the front door, and I remember dunking my mesh bag (had been carrying potatoes) into it to clean it off before heading inside. Little did I know that would be our ONLY source of water for the whole weekend! Oops. So yeah, I'm all about indoor plumbing, lol!
    (PS - that was also the one and only time I ever had to use a true outhouse. I require SO much more than a hole in the ground!)

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    1. Oh, dear, Erin. What did you end up doing for water? I've used a true outhouse, when I was younger at my grandmothers. I hope to never encounter one again.

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    2. We had to suck it up and just use the dirty water. thankfully, most of the dirt settled to the bottom over night, but still... I was NOT popular that weekend!

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  10. I love fireplace hamburgers. We usually cook them when we go to the beach. YUM!

    I'm with Deb--antibiotics and handwashing. Oh the stuff people used to (and some still do) believed cure things. Really the cure killed the patient before the disease could during those times.

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