Friday, January 02, 2009

What Are The Things You Can't Live Without?

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I read this great post at Pandagon, one of my favorite blogs the other day, and it really got me to thinking about what we consider essential in the area of appliances. I have to admit that my requirements for essential have changed since living in Central America. We have readers from all over the planet here at Padre Mickey's Dance Party, and I'm sure that the answers to the question "What are the things you can't live without?" will be diverse.

So, I'll answer the question first: I need shelter, food, and clean water to survive. I've spent enough time in the Third World where water and power can be quite random, and I've spent time in Bocas del Toro where the water pump for the town has been in-operational for weeks at a time, so that I've had to sleep with my ears listening for rain so that I could run out and place a barrel in the rain. What do I need to maintain my present lifestyle? I gosta have a washing machine, a computer with high speed internet access. I like having a car, but, to tell the truth, I walk to the church so it isn't that important, even though public transit here leaves much to be desired, and the taxis won't go everywhere one wants them to go. I don't have a driver's license right now, as my driver's license must be renewed every time I renew my visa, and my visa is only valid for three months at a time right now. I'm too cheap to pay $30.00 for my visa and an additional $40.00 for my driver's license every three months. The Lovely Mona had to drive to La Boca several days a week while in school, so she renewed everything. I'm lucky that she will drive me around. We use solar power to dry our clothes, but I have to have a washing machine. The first thing we bought with our first pay cheque here in Panamá´was a washer, but we don't need a dryer. I can live without a television as the computer has a DVD drive and, with high-speed internet, there are lots of sites which show tv programs. I don't want cable as I really don't see that much worth watching! I've lived without a dishwasher for ages. Heck, we've lived without hot water in the kitchen sink for three years and haven't had any problems (but we have those scary flash-heaters on the shower heads). We live nine degrees from the equator, so an air conditioner is helpful quite often, but we really only use it when going to bed, and then I turn it off once I wake up from a dream about snow. We have a microwave but rarely use it; we use the toaster oven much more often. As much as I love my iPod, it is malfunctioning at the moment, which reminds me that I survived for 53 years without one. But, Lawdy Lawdy, I gotsta have a coffee maker!!!!

So, what is essential to your lifestyle, and what could you really do without? Please put your answers in the comments.

13 comments:

Ann said...

When we were first married, we lived on a Fire lookout and discovered we can live quite well without most things (had a wood stove, hauled and heated our water, washed everything by hand, outhouse, etc) Water, food, shelter of course are essential. It would be hard to live with out a car in Wyoming -- unless you stay in town and never leave. Where we are there is no bus or train or air service. I like a hot water heater - we have one of those on demand kind now - no more keeping the water heated all the time. I love being connected with my friends all over the world via computer and high speed internet - would be sad to live without. Books are essential - so a library is lovely.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

I also live in Central America...furthermore, I live in the ¨campo¨ where most everyone doesn´t have hot water...I had a hotwater tank installed (gas) and I have it for my two bathrooms (one downstairs and one up) and it is a large expense per month paying for gas...how I wish I had a dangerous calintadora on my showerhead (maybe I´ll get one) as Gas prices have gone up sometimes I just bath in the cold water and it´s NOT warm like Panama here...I have lots of spotlights in my Gallery/Sala as I´m a artist and my electric bill is high...I love entertaining and food is modestly priced, fresh and tasty...cooking is fun and I have a maid too (she is part time and I pay her a fulltime rate)...confession, the reason my principal residence is in Central America is that in retirement is because of costs and comfort...I have a maid, a gardner, entertain, have hot water, a car, live in a small village, lush to gorgeous surroundings, people are sweet, polite and labor industrious and it is all covered by my Social Security check...it would be impossible in Puerto Rico to cover rent and much else.

Tara Mobley said...

Indoor plumbing hooked to good water treatment facilities. My computer and internet connection. A washing machine. A roof over my head. An oven that works reliably. Despite living in the fully industrialized modern world my whole life, I understand that a lot of what I have around me is not essential.

I also need either a coffee pot or teapot. I must have my caffeine.

David |Dah • veed| said...

Here in Mexico, when you rent a house or apartment you pretty much need everything, including your appliances. I have a small fridge, 4 burner electronic ignition gas stove/oven, gas/electric stacked washer/dryer, 2 Meg DSL, cablevision, and 3 electric fans.

But I do most of the cooking for the past three years with my Flavorwave Turbo countertop oven. Especially in the summer when the gas oven heats the whole apartment.

I dramatically cut my natural gas bill by 60% when I switched to a tankless water heater.

I have a Vonage internet telephone adapter that I use with my DSL. For US$18/month I have 500 minutes anywhere in the US, Canada and PR. No expensive Int'l long distance to keep up with family in the USA.

This is how I make the best cup of coffee every morning.

We are currently planning to move to Saltillo in the next few months. Monterrey is too damn hot in the summer now. Saltillo is 1500 meters higher in the mountains and much more pleasant. When we do, I will use the new multi plan from CableVision. Telephone, cable and DSL internet in one connection for less than US$100/month. Plus I will add my Vonage and have two internet phone lines.

Rosie Cooper said...

Ditto on the food/shelter/water ... but also cat food, kitty litter, stuff to leave outside for all the homeless who get their make their living from what's the rest of us put in the garbage bins.

Matty Boy said...

Washer/Dryer, computer, internet, absolutely.

I don't have a car, so the car air conditioning is not vital. I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area, so home air conditioning is nice but not vital. I have a microwave, but I could live without it, as I have in the recent past. The TV set is nice for the DVDs, but I could use the computer in a pinch. I'm definitely thinking about life without cable once the six month special deal dries up.

No cell phone, no flat screen, no iPod right now. Somehow I still have the will to live.

FranIAm said...

Shelter, basic food and water - preferably with hot.

I am 51 and did not grow up in a shack but for various and sundry reasons I never had a dishwasher until I moved to Albany last year. And it hardly gets used- so that is that, it is not a must have.

I did not - for more various and sundry reasons - have any air conditioning until 2003. Really. So while I like it on those really hot nights, I can live without.

Since I have made the move from debt ridden overpaid Senior VP to almost debt free underpaid church secretary, I have really had to consider all of this and am pretty happy with what I have/don't have.

That said, high speed internet and a computer are must have.

Andy said...

Funny to see just what folk consider essential these days. Personally, I'd love to chuck my cell phones (yes, plural) into the Potomac River. A/C? Wow, I lived my first 35 years without AC.

That survey is telling...

Peace out

The Catbird

Cany said...

I am, probably, a bit of the exception given the 25 minions living here (24 now, sadly).

I HAVE to have water and electricity. I wash 70 (give or take) food bowls/day, do dog/cat laundry daily, have to clean and sanitize cat boxes, have to wash all hard surfaces with biodegradable but anti-bacterial stuff. If I have electricity, I have heat. I had a wood stove for 28 years, but when we started remodeling, it had to go (but will return!).

Because I haul several thousand pounds of food sometimes in a day, I HAVE to have a large vehicle. I live in the boonies... not possible without it.

And of course, we have to have shelter. I had a big fat leaky roof for a while and boy, was that a nightmare. All fixed now, and the house is now all sealed up on the exterior. I am sure the rats are not happy.

We have a lake locally, but hauling water from there for the needs of this household is absolutely prohibitive, though I do always keep 150 gallons stashed for emergencies.

I have lived more simply before this number of minions arrived, but that is the difference. If it were just me, well, I could live without much of what I own.

Jane R said...

Dang, my humongous post from last night disappeared.

Guess I was too long-winded.

Ed said...

Hello, Padre Mickey,

I come here tonight via Matty Boy's blog, but I have been aware of you through other blogs as well, but this is my first comment after some lurking.

I have done some traveling, with visits to places such as El Salvador, so I have come to believe that most US Americans feel they need more than is truly necessary.

After looking at your "What Americans Need" chart, here's how I would weigh in:

Car: Yes. As a professional musician, I need a car to get me and my gear to work, which can be anywhere. Otherwise, I would be happy to live without a car. I see a car as a necessary evil. If public transportation in this country were better and I could pare down my musical gear, I would be happy to be car-less.

Clothes washer: No. I own one and it's nice to have, but given the fact that there are laundromats nearby, I could live without one. I could even get used to washing clothes by hand.

Clothes dryer: No. I already get along quite well without using a clothes dryer most of the time. I see this as a convenience rather than a need.

Home air conditioning: No. Don't have it, don't want it, don't need it. Hate my neighbor's central air for the noise it creates. (They get to be comfortable and I have to listen to their noise pollution.)

Microwave: No. Don't need it. Although I have one, I could easily live without it.

TV set: No. I hate television. Period. Don't need it. I own one, but it's rarely used (Green Bay Packer games and movies) and would not be missed. I'm considering getting rid of the thing when the networks switch to digital only.

Car Air Conditioning: No. Don't need it, although it would be nice if automakers would reintroduce the "butterfly" window.

Home Computer: No/Yes/Not sure. This would be tough to give up, although I see it mostly as a "want" rather than a "need". It sure is nice to be able to use modern multi-track recording technology in my work as a musician, and the computer certainly aids me in getting work, but there's always the public library for that aspect.

Cellphone: No. I hate the darned things, but due to the disappearance of public telephones, it's difficult to function without one, particularly if you travel a lot. Still, I could get by without one.

Dishwasher: No. Don't need one, got by for many years without one, although it is alleged that they are more energy and water efficient than hand-washing.

Cable/satellite TV: No. Don't have it, don't want it, don't need it.

High-speed internet: No. Convenient, but don't need it.

Flat screen TV: No. Don't have one, don't need one.

iPod: No. I own one, but wouldn't miss it much. Not a need.

When it comes right down to it, I feel I need shelter (upper midwest living also requires heat), food and the ability to make music professionally which includes musical instruments as well as transportation. That's about it.

Caminante said...

Well, in Vermont you have to have a car so I have a ten year-old one. For my work, I really do have to have a computer with DSL connection. It is possible to live without central heat but managing a wood stove takes time (that is how Compa heats our little, little house). Our little house didn't have electricity (therefore running water) for a year and a half but we weren't living there full-time. A cell phone is helpful but if push came to shove I could give that up.

Don't need television, therefore no cable.

Having four cats is, of course, a luxury but I figure since I don't have any children, I can justify that expense for now.

I know from living in El Salvador and walking the Camino that I can get by on whatever I can carry on my back.

toujoursdan said...

Late to the party as always:

Living in the great white north, it is heat that is the issue, not air-conditioning, though Ottawa does have its hot and muggy days.

Beyond the basics of food, shelter, people who love me and I them: computer and internet, clothes washer and dryer (though there are plenty of places to go do that in the neighbourhood) and that's it.

I got rid of my car last year for environmental reasons (though the 21 day Ottawa bus strike is making me regret that, at the moment.) I like my satellite TV but could live without it.

The cell phone is tricky as I don't have a landline and my family is scattered around the world. I would miss it if I didn't have it, but could keep in touch with Skype or by email. But it would put a crimp in my social life.

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