Monday, November 10, 2008

Baggy Pants and No Static Cling

It's officially The Changing of the Seasons here at the Villa. This involves two projects: the Switching of the Wardrobes, and the Cleaning of the Humidifier.

The Switching of the Wardrobes isn't going to be too bad this year. Last spring, I found that most of the previous year's spring/summer clothes were too big. It's been a long time since I had that problem; for the last decade or so, my weight seemed to go in the other direction despite all my best efforts. So I had a lot of comfortable, loose-fitting clothes, they were just a little looser. This summer, in between tantrums at the food stamp office and sofa surfing, I managed to work in a few thrift shop excursions. My focus was PJs for the hospital stay, and a few pairs of pants/jeans. Good thing: the pants I bought are already a little loose, but I think they will get me through the winter.

The Cleaning of the Humidifier is next. This would be a much easier chore if, at the end of each season, I emptied and rinsed it out. And every year, I swear I'm going to do it...Yeah, haven't managed even once. Last fall I imposed on Bro #1, who had come for a visit. And I seriously thought about waiting 2-3 weeks, when Bro #2 will be here...but I'm already waking up with that choking-on-a-dustball feeling. I have a dry, dry nose; I can already feel static electricity in the air. So I'm going to practice Not Being a Whiny Crybaby, and clean it myself, or at least give it a shot.

I wuv my humidifier, I sparkly pink heart my humidifier. It's a Sears floor model that Bro #1 and S-I-L sent when I first bought the house, and it was not brand new then, so it's got to be close to two decades old. I coddle it back to life every year. When it needed a part -- a belt -- a few years ago, I actually found a schematic of this model on the Sears website and was able to order the part. I was awfully impressed with Sears... and with myself! And at least once or twice a year, I will shop at Sears while I'm picking up a new filter.

I think some of this comes from Grandpa Harold who, in his entire life, owned four cars. (I think he owned each for an average of 15 years.) He even had a car on blocks for years through WWII. When he could finally get parts and tires again, he meticulously, methodically, put it all back together and brought the car back to life, to the amazement of friends and family. He drove it for many more years.

If something is made well, and it's taken care of, I think it should run forever. My sewing machine is close to 60 years old. I had a 13" black & white tv for 20+ years. It finally went to appliance heaven, and ever since, I've had to buy tvs about every 2-3 years. And I recently, regretfully, gave up a 40+year-old Hoover vacuum. I could have had it serviced again, but it weighs more than a Buick, and I was persuaded that it was time for it to find a new home. (I hope my folks really did take it to Goodwill, and didn't heave it into some dumpster when no one was looking...)

They don't make 'em like they used to. I think I'll be lucky if the new vacuum lasts five years. Manufacturers realized that building things cheaply not only increased their profits, it guaranteed future sales when the item irreparably broke down -- and spawned the phrase "planned obsolescence." Wouldn't it be nice if, in the name of environmentalism or anything else, manufacturers of cars and appliances started taking pride in their products' durability and reliability?

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