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Back to the basics

Feb. 16, 2009

by Herald Journal & Enteprise Dispatch Editor Lynda Jensen

With the economic emphasis shifting downward as it has, it seems the focus of families has been getting back to the simple life with what Americans would call the “bare essentials.”

We still enjoy so much compared to other countries, and that includes an unbelievable list of luxuries.

Might I remind us all of the basic necessities – food, clean water, clothing, (that other thing), and safe shelter.

It has been said that losing a job can be right up there with having a death in the family, when it comes to stress level. For those fortunate to have jobs, there is increased stress, too. We are careful with money, now.

But, we should remember the blessings amidst the sorrow.

Years ago, I remember the speech of an old man who lived a long life, recounting the times he lost his job, and three different ocassions when he lost it all – and his emphatic advice was “Never give up.”

Never give up. Things will get better. I always say God is seldom early, but never late. Everything happens for a reason, even though we don’t see it at first.

Perhaps it’s a good thing, and maybe overdue that we should set the register at zero again, and balance out our wants and needs.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here are a few notes in the spirit of these miser times:

• Set your clothes washer on “cold” all the time. I was skeptical about whether this would actually wash clothes properly, but can say that after two years of using this setting, there’s been absolutely no difference in cleanliness and that I’ve had better luck getting stains out. This saves money on your water heater bill.

• Use half as much soap as you think you’ll need. You’d be amazed at how people dump soap/shampoo/whatever-it-is on something, when half of it will do the same job. It takes a little more effort to work the soap through, but this saves money.

• Recycle more of everything. It saves your garbage bill and helps the environment.

• Plan meals out so that you use more “real” stuff and not packaged, processed junk. For example, throw some real potatoes, carrots and a roast in the crock pot before you go to work. This will have a huge positive impact on your family’s diet and save you money, too.

Another note about turning 40

Here is one more note about what it’s like to turn 40 – I bumped into a 50-year-old, who said 40-year-olds complain more than 50-year-olds. Caught by surprise, I laughed and said, “I think you’re right!”

I also recently bought a new pair of sneakers, going through a lot of trouble to obtain a plain, white pair. There were dozens of cheaper pairs that were montrously ugly, with black and all kinds of junk on them.

When I bought the shoes and modeled them for our teenage daughter, she said “Wow, straight out of the ‘50s.” Ouch.

More groovy trips back into time

Last week found me digging into the back issues of the Howard Lake Herald.

This time, I was collaborating with HLWW teacher Charlie Bush on a story about the numerous scholarships offered to seniors (40 now).

As I was paging through the papers, I found myself staring face-to-face at Ray Munson of Howard Lake (his graduation picture in 1975), and Mike Gagnon of Waverly (as the Minnesota Teen Representative in 1977). They both look the same nowadays, except for the hair.