One of the biggest dilemmas I face trying to live small is what to do when things break. I had a trusty old Roper washer that I bought from our friends Chris and Lon when we moved into the townhouse in Hayward all those years ago (10? was it really 10 years ago — must have been). I think we spent $100 for the pair, and Lon and Chris hadn’t paid much more for them new. They were very basic. The washer had hot and cold settings and that was about it. But it worked, and considering I was in my late 30s before I even had a washer dryer of my own, I was pretty happy. The washer broke about a year after I moved up here, and the local fix-it guys put it back together for about a hundred bucks, but when it gave up the ghost last week, I decided that it was probably time to go look for a new one. I mean, another hundred bucks might have kept it going for another four or five years, but it was really old technology, used a lot of water, and well, there comes a time when you have to update.
Of course, at the same time, I needed to replace my brake pads, and got two flat tires. Our local brake and tire shop is great, and fixed the brakes really reasonably, and patched the tires, but it just added to the larger question of the week — when do you patch things, and when do you replace them? For now, the tires are patched, although I’d like new ones with heavier lugs since we’ve been doing so much camping lately, which involves a lot of exploration of logging roads. The flat we got way up on the Stillwater was a real bummer. Fix-a-Flat worked, but it took two cans ($15 bucks total) and we had to drive back down looking for a gas station with a compresser, which burned up half a camping day. Plus a very reasonable $12 bucks each to fix the tires. So for now, the tires are on the patch-it list, and I’m saving some $$ for new ones.
The washer though — the whole new world of washing machines. Even looking at the circulars in the paper made me crazy. Really? People need 125 cycles? Give me a break. And then one lady at the store told me that the front loaders aren’t good if you do small loads, or as she said “if you’re a person who has to do laundry every day.” Every day? One or two shirts? a pair of jeans? no wonder we have an energy crisis. Anyhow, I looked, and then my lovely Sweetheart, who is good at these things, and who has furnished many a rental cabin, went and looked for me. He found a great deal at Lowes, an orphaned washer, with the pedestal drawer thingy, on clearance. It was in the low end of the price range for the fancy new water-and-energy-efficient front loaders, and in the mid-high price range for top loaders. Plus they’d deliver and take away the old one. And there’s the cash-for-clunkers rebate on appliances right now.
So now I have a fancy new front loading washer that looks totally out of place in my shenji basement. But it’s quiet, and I’m testing a load of napkins on it as I type. They say they spin so much water out that it should make my clothesline drying even faster — and maybe in winter I can even restring the basement clothesline.
It’s always such a challenge though. When to buy new, when to buy used, when to patch and fix. In general I tend to patch and patch and patch, and then replace, but even so, I felt sort of bad sending that trusty old Roper off to the landfill. It was a good, basic, no-frills reliable machine. Let’s hope this fancy one with all the electronics lasts as long (I distrust electronics).