Progress Report: Stumbling out of the Starting Gate

Okay, we've had some successes and some failures in our first month of trying to live with WW2 rationing.  The main categories subject to the ration system are Electricity, Gasoline, Food, and Clothes/Beauty/Exercise. I break down our progress (or lack thereof), below:

Electricity:  Our 7 room house is allowed an energy ration of 140 fuel units, or 1050 KWH of electricity each month. That works out to 35 KWH per day. Last month's electricity usage was 1031 KWH for 32 days, or 32.22 KWH per day. This month's electric bill says we've used 792 KWH in 25 days, which works out to 31.68 KWH per day. We're over three KWH LESS each day than our ration allows, although I'm not sure how much lower we'll be able to take it. I think we're doing very well in this category.

Grade: A

Gasoline: The gasoline rationing has been...hard to document, what with the cars constantly breaking. I'd put my weekly gas ration into the car and it would promptly break down. After a week of the car being out of commission and having to drive the truck (which has unlimited "C"-ration status for Danny's job) I'd get the parts to fix the car, put my gas ration into the tank...and it would promptly break down again. It is currently sitting at the mechanics...with a full tank of gas.

I'm hoping that we're coming to the end of this episode of the "Broken Car Shuffle" and I can start actually tracking our gasoline rationing...instead of only using it when delivering the car back to the mechanic's.

For the record, since we started this little experiment about 4(!) weeks ago, we have fixed, repaired, or replaced: 4 tires, 1 rim, a water pump, an EGR valve, O2 sensors on both vehicles, tie rods, brake power booster and master cylinder, windshield washer pumps on both vehicles (necessary for clearing road salt off the windshield so you can see to drive), and done the full pre-winter maintenance and checks.

Parts on order: front wheel bearings and ABS sensors for the car (mainly for preventative maintenance for the winter. The bearings are just beginning to go, but a snowy day would be a bad time for them to fail) and an evap canister for the truck. (We're driving the truck anyway, check engine light be damned. The EPA can just get a grip.)

Frankly, it's going to be a sad Christmas this year, because the vehicle repairs have broke us. At least that will be an authentic wartime experience.

[Rant alert!! Currently, the car is out of commission because it has a short in the ECM wiring...that requires a 5 sided inverse torx bit to access to fix. Yes, 5 sided. Not 6. Five. No one in the P-towns had one, so I had to order the bit off Amazon so my mechanic can fix the car. I hate it when car manufacturers get cute with their "tamper proof" bolts. They need to realize that trying to build job security into car maintenance is not always the best idea...especially in America. All it does is piss people off and force us to buy ridiculously specialized tools to fix our vehicles ourselves. It DOESN'T make it any more likely for someone to pay extortion prices to take their 13 year old car or 12 year old truck to a dealer to be repaired, where the mechanics are condescending and you have to fend off salesmen trying to sell the latest crimps in sheet metal on a 7 year loan. Grrrr. Okay, rant over. On with our regularly scheduled report.]

Gasoline: F

Food: Because of the car situation, it has been very difficult to get the shopping done on any sort of regular, rational basis.

I was actually surprised at how easy it was to plan meals not based around meat. Admittedly, I'm not even trying to replicate wartime recipes. With my allergies (coal tar dyes, HFCS and all its derivatives, and nickel) most of those recipes wouldn't work, anyway. Plus, having a flock of chickens to keep us in eggs and the ability to supplement our rations on the Black Market makes a big difference. 

On the down side, the sheer amount of carbs in the wartime diet gives me pause. I find myself planning far too many meals around noodles, rice, or potatoes. They're cheap, filling, and easy. Bread is unlimited, so I find myself eating more than I probably should. Also, with the cars breaking down so much and having to drive almost double the miles to keep everyone at work or schooling, we've filled the gap by eating out more than we usually do.

All told, though, I think we're doing...okay...on the food rationing front.

Food: C

Clothing/Beauty/Exercise: Sigh.

I waited until this week to weigh do a weigh-in. My BMI has gone from 30.7 to 30.8; still obese. I blame the carbs. Daughter's BMI went from 24.1 to 24.0; still normal. Danny's BMI has gone from 31.6 to 27.4 and has gone from the Obese category to the Overweight category. How do men do that?!

Okay, the carbs may not be totally at fault for my weight. I completely dropped the ball on the exercise portion of the agenda. I need to redouble my commitment to daily exercise. Not having to sit for hours at the mechanics would be a good start. Just sayin'.

Let's move away from the weight/exercise part of this post before I get depressed.

Soap rationing has been an ongoing struggle. If I had it to do over again, I would have grouped the dish soap in the same category as shampoo and I would have been fine. Making your own dish soap--yeah, don't bother. Buy detergent dish soap and save the headache.

Moving on: Clothing!

Right after starting our experiment, Danny's only pair of black dress shoes (that he needs for work) lost their tassel while he was teaching at the college. (There's a joke there somewhere. When I find it, I'll let you know.) So we used 14 of his 60 clothing coupons to buy him two pairs of dress shoes (they were buy one, get one half off).

I have to admit to a bit of retail therapy at Goodwill. (Don't judge me; the cars made me do it.) I replaced two shirts that were too stained to keep wearing (well water+iron=destroyed clothing.) I also bought two more sweaters, because I hate being cold. Since it is all used clothing, no ration coupons were used.

Daughter needed a new dress coat for winter, so we used 14 of her 60 coupons to order her a coat off Amazon.

As for the beauty part; I'm trying to get back in the habit of doing my hair and makeup each day...but it's hard to get motivated to look pretty when you're just working around the house or taking cars to the mechanic's. I need to improve in this area.

Grade: C

Overall Grade: C

So there you have it. Our first month hasn't been a total failure, but it wasn't too great, either. We have LOTS of improvements we need to make.


Gorges Smythe said...

You're being a bit rough on yourself with gasoline grade. Folks back then did what they had to do, also, including fudging things a bit. Overall, I think you've done very well.

Catherine said...

Thank you, Gorges.

Stephen Tuck said...

I'm loving what you're doing with this! Definitely recommending your blog to a few of my history buff friends. If it's of any interest to you, one of my pet passions is Cold War atomic preparedness. I gave a summary in a recent blogpost of one of the civil defence manuals we have kicking about my SES unit, and in particular the one on food and welfare. If it's of interest, the post is at http://newciteaux.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/mushroom-clouds-but-no-mushrooms.html Looking forward to your next post!

Catherine said...

Thanks, Stephen! I linked your site on my side-bar. I really like your blog!

(One funny side note: I read your "About Me" and started smiling. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a nun just like Therese of Lisieux (despite the handicap of being raised a Baptist). I think there is a deep yearning in people to do something heroic, to make a difference, to matter, to be noticed. Maybe that is why civilizations keep stumbling into wars.)

Stephen Tuck said...

Thanks so much Catherine :)