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The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....

Traveling the backroads

May 9, 2017

This photo is of me in the 1960's when my husband and I were living in Dill city (not Dell City) Oklahoma.  Dill city is close to Burns flat where Clinton Sherman Air force Base was located.  That base was closed after we did our tour in the military.  I was expecting our son Tim and this was our dog Shakey.  He always had one ear up and one ear down.  He is sitting on a brick that is on top of a air vent to a storm/root cellar.  I am wearing a homemade maternity dress that was sewn on a treadle sewing machine that was generously given to me by an elderly couple that lived close by.  She had gotten a new electric machine and I was tickled to get this treadle machine.  As you see we have electricity and we had running water but that was about the extent of that.  

No Telephone, washer, dryer, television or even a radio.  And I loved it there.  

Most of the baby pictures I post are of myself or my brother. 

My brother and I were very close in age, only 14 months apart.

So on to the backroads...

I was born in Memphis Tennessee thus my living in the city, my Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles lived in rural Mississippi.  My fathers side of Aunts and Uncles and Grandmother, My Grandfather died in 1918 from the Spanish flu epidemic,  and this is my family that lived in upstate New York. Then my life took a jog to Southern Alabama. 

Our house in Memphis had a whole house attic fan that was located in the ceiling of our hallway and in the summer we would turn it on and open the windows about 8 to 12 inches and a nice forceful breeze would come through the windows to cool the house.

My Grandparents lived in hot rural Mississippi where you were lucky to get a hand fan or a piece of cardboard to fan with and the best way to sleep was to get as close to an open window and a simple sheet to pull over us at 4:00 AM when you finally got cool.  But to go to sleep the best part was when Grandparents did have a few fans and my Grandmothers solution of a wet washcloth rubbed on the soles of our feet and sleep with the fan at the foot of the bed and it was the best thing ever! 

When we stayed with our Grandparents and aunts and uncles it was the life of outhouses and rocking chairs on the front porch, fireflies and hand fans. Some of our family had electricity and some did not.  It was walking dirt roads, creaky screen doors and lace curtains.  I love lace today as well as the sound of creaky rockers and screen doors because it brings me back home.

This is my Memere (Great Grandmother) in upstate New York and my Father visiting her during ww2.  Memere was born in 1863 in Canada.

Then the move to Southern Alabama which threw me back in time compared to the life I lived in the big city of Memphis.  I was considered being from the North and when we got settled we had a small pasture and and we raised Chickens, a few cows, two horses and a goat. Many people in rural southern Alabama did not have electricity when we moved there and in the cities and small towns they did.

My first negative personal experience with farming was when I raised a calf I called Charlie Brown on a nipple and bucket when he was taken away to be butchered I was devastated.

But a positive was the continuation of learning a bit more about gardening.  All my Mississippi family had gardens and some had farms.

I did not enjoy picking cotton, outhouses, shelling butter beans and shucking corn.  I did not mind shelling peas or peeling vegetables or canning. 

Then life went on, I married a young man that lived on a small farm.  We had never had a milk cow so I learned from his family that the first thing you do in the morning on a farm is go out to the barn with a lantern and start milking the cows.  Breakfast comes later and no matter what the weather is you get up in the morning and milk the cows and feed the animals.  His mother cooked on a wood burning stove and oh she knew how to cook on that stove.  Biscuits, fresh eggs, ham, peas, butter beans, creamed corn....

Then more time went by and I was a mother of two children, times were very modern by this time.  We purchased a house, barn and 10 acres of land and lived there for awhile.  We had two horses, pigs, chickens and a catfish pond.  It was a lovely small farm.  We did not have any cows. I cannot tell you about my first experience with trying to kill a chicken for our supper.  But then a job change for my husband and we sold our little farm and moved back to the city.

I started working outside the home after they were in school. I worked with special needs children then in two hospitals and two outpatient  facilities. More time went by and I left work to care for my aging parents, more time went by I wrote two books and never published them because I don't have a clue how to do that and now I look in the mirror and see my mother and Grandmother.

In the past some had electricity and some did not, but!  Having electricity in the past was quite different than having electricity today.  You might have electricity but there were many things not invented at that time such as air conditioners, refrigerators, televisions.  Things came slowly after electricity.  It took time for people to purchase new electric gadgets and appliances.  There were few things to plug into those electric sockets. Most homes did not even have plug outlets.  People in the big cities were the first to start using the new electric gadgets.

I have always been pulled to know more about the past and have studied quite a bit about how people lived during the 1860s to the 1930s.  The 1940s was when more modern things were coming about but not until after ww2 ended did things take off.  The 1950s was quite modern in the city of Memphis Tennessee but still not very modern in South Alabama so it all depended on where one lived.

Life can be interesting at any age and as some of you know Charles and I are living like 1942 but we want to do more. Living like 1942 could be so many ways because it all depended on where you lived as I was saying above. At this time we are trying to live on less grid.

We have done many trials of living without electricity, living with hot water heater etc.  But this study is being done during hot weather season.

This is the temperature of the water that was in a glass jug that I put out in the sun to use for bathing. One of my many experiments.

 We would love to live rural with a few acres of land but we do not have that so here where we are now is where we are trying to live on less grid.  We cannot live off grid in the city but we can live with less grid.

We are taking advantage of old and new ways to save on the use of the grid.  Water does warm to bath water if you have sun.  This sunny day it got up to 102 but the next day it was cloudy and the water temperature was only in the upper 80.  Our average body temp is 98.6 so water any cooler than that feels cool to cold.

We purchased Solar Light bulbs for our lamps and to hang around the house.  What I did was unplugged the lamps wrapped the cords around the base and secured the cord with cloth then took aluminum foil and made nests in the sockets to hold the bulbs.  It will be hurricane season for us soon so we are doing what we can to see how comfortable we can live without all the bells and whistles of life.

This is a solar bulb.  You can get them on Amazon from 9.00 to 20.00s.  This is a 9.00 bulb.  It comes with a solar charger.  It plugs into the light like your phone plugs in to charge it.  Set the charger in the sun and it charges the light bulb.  The bulb will last about a solid 5 hours but we never use it that long.

I hang one solar light bulb above the sink when I do dishes.  At first I felt the need to have many around the house but each day I need less light in the evenings.  I went through withdrawal from electric lights.  I even felt sad at one time but the next morning I became more motivated to keep trying.  

I could have handled this much better when I was younger and when we had less things but today we have gradually gotten use to so many things and have been so spoiled with things that makes life easy.  But "Easy costs money".

Oh have I ever started appreciating the morning sunshine!  It is just wonderful when the sun comes up :)

One evening I decided to see how many oil lamps it would take to read without any eye strain. You see what I ended up with.  It was actually very nice light BUT oil lamps put out heat and we have been reached 90 degrees for two days now.

Two lamps would have been fine but my eyes are aging so it take a bit more light. 

The less grid means turning off the air conditioning to see how long we can manage living with no air conditioning.  Part of what happens after a hurricane and power outage is it gets hot as blazes so we are giving it a go.  I will have to run some air conditioning if it gets much above 95.

This is the print with the oil lamps in my 1930 home preservation book.  Actually it was more clear to my eye, the camera blurred it some.

The oil lamps are very helpful for lighting.  That food dehydrator is not doing me much good at this time and we are considering doing some sun drying.

By the way this is our first ripe raspberry of the year, I gave it to Charles to eat since I love him so much.  :)  (off the subject but it was such a pretty raspberry)

The solar lights put out a whiter light and we turned on a regular lamp for comparison and the electric light seemed so yellow it was strange after almost two weeks now using oil lamps and solar.  The oil lamps are more yellow light but the electric light is more yellow than we ever realized.

Along with the electric grid experiment we turned off the hot water heater.  So we are heating the water by boiling it.  We have several means of doing this.  Our butane stove, our butane stove or our butane stove.  :)   We actually are about to drag our two burner wood burning stove out of storage and use it for cooking but that will be another post.  There is also the fire pit that we can cook on but are not at this time.

But then we are minimal grid so this little electric kettle works very good to heat water for washing dishes.  BUT  after doing this for several days I realized that I was having to use it over and over to get enough hot water so heating a large pot on the gas butane stove was much better than using the electric kettle because the other day it bumped up the kilowatts used quite a bit.  We are averaging 8 to 10 kilowatts usage right now.  We are running our refrigerator, a few fans and the computer.  I have used the electric stove/oven for some meals.  For a real emergency we have already figured out the cooking.  We have fuel stoves, fire pit as I mentioned, we will have our two burner wood cook stove up and running and we have a big green egg which is a oven. We are working our way to less grid, we are not off the grid.

This two gallon glass jug with a spout works very good for hot running water.  I mix cold and hot water together to make it hot for rinsing dishes.  I catch the water in large stainless steel bowl and use it to water plants once I am finished and the water is cooled.

I am not satisfied with this set up because I feel cramped when I am washing the dishes.  I feel like the left should be just the sink.  The rinse side ok for now.

Each day we are trying new things.  It is not easy but it is because we are trying to break old habits.

I have found that you can take that leftover coffee and put it in a jar and put it in the sun to reheat it.  

The main thing I have learned so far is that we can manage without electricity but water is what is complicated. In an emergency situation getting water can be a very complicated issue.  We need to think our water sources through and figure out a solution.  If we are in a drought a rain barrel is not much help and if there is no river or stream close by that can be an issue.  We are living in a time when most anything can happen so we need to think about these things. 

Just the other day this happened at our house.  This is what was coming out of our water pipes.  It happened on a weekend and we had to wait until Monday to get the city out and then it was lat day when we got it all flushed out.  So we had a water emergency at our house.  We could not use our water.  There had been some local work on the lines and we got a back up of this in our pipes.  We had to use our bottled water.  

We keep 15 gallons of water stored and then we have five gallon buckets we store water but I was trying to use up our gallon waters to rotate and was actually low on water.  I normally fill the five gallon buckets when there is a very severe storm warning.  So we never know when there can be an outage of either power or water.  A storm could knock out the pumping stations or these days cities can be hacked.

Some people make fun of people that live prepared for emergencies.  The people that do not prepare are the ones that are foolish.  

I will update more as we get further into this living with less grid.  Grandma Donna

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