Wrapping Up 2014 With a Best Seller and Thoughts on Coffeemakers
Short and Sweet
To my surprise, my little manifesto of minimalism, The Minimalist Woman’s Guide to Having it All, is in the top twenty 90-minute Self-Help Short Reads on Amazon.com, and evidently has been for some time. That makes it, by Amazon standards, a Best Seller. Is that cool, or what? I certainly owe a million thanks to all of you who bought a copy over the years and have followed this blog since its inception in 2010.
That means The Minimalist Woman will soon be five years old, quite ancient by blogging standards. I guess it seems a weird comparison to me because I’m still living the way I decided to live at that time, and it’s become so ingrained, it’s second nature. Even the no-gift holidays don’t feel weird anymore. The only thing that feels weird is actually shopping for anything other than essentials–or changing what I consider to be essentials.
That last bit is connected to one of the best things about minimalism–it’s self-determined and fluid. Our needs as humans are rarely static, a trait that consumerism exploits to our detriment, fooling us into thinking of our wants as needs. After developing the habit of distinguishing between wants and needs, and between true personal preferences and those triggered by advertising, I find that I often second-guess myself when it comes to recognizing when something has shifted from a want to a need.
A case in point: a new coffeemaker. Earlier this year, my coffeemaker finally gave up the ghost after thirteen years of regular use. It was a basic coffeemaker, no bells or whistles, just a good brand with a gold filter. Now, I wanted an upgrade, something fancier and new-fangled, but as long as the one I had was working perfectly well, there was no justification in shelling out precious dollars for a new one.
When I was finally free (and I am aware of the irony of using the word “free”) to actively research the various merits and demerits of contemporary coffeemakers, I decided on one that didn’t have a carafe, but which was not as wasteful as a single-serve pod coffeemaker. What sold me were the number of people who said that the coffee in a non-carafe machine never had a scorched taste, and its “bold” setting allowed for getting a terrific brew using less ground coffee. So I ordered a Hamilton Beach BrewStation (non-affiliate link), which at the time was on sale for the same price as my old coffeemaker in 2001.
I loved it. It made the best darn coffee ever, and it even made iced coffee to die for. It saved money, too, since I needed less ground coffee. On the down side, it had a quirk, which was the condensation buildup under the tank that held the brewed coffee, requiring me to sop it up with a dishrag between brews. I was willing to put up with that because the coffee was that good.
But it didn’t last three months before it simply. stopped. working. AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
The time-suck of shopping for a coffeemaker threatened to resume, but I just picked up an inexpensive basic Mr. Coffee locally and used that for a while, and it wasn’t bad. Then we contacted Hamilton Beach and sent them proof of purchase and pictures and all that, plus postage, and they sent me a replacement BrewStation. Once again I was in coffee bliss.
That was two months ago, and so far so good. The model they sent was the same, but it had the kinks worked out: the controls were less fussy, the press bar was easier to use–and there wasn’t a drop of condensation collecting under the coffee tank. Cleanup is now a snap. I’ve ended up with a better machine than the one that died.
But see how long it took to tell that stupid story? In real time, it took WAY longer and a lot more energy. Not minimalist. Far too time-consuming and fussy. Extra expense in the backup basic coffeemaker and the shipping costs for the replacement.
Was anything other than a basic coffeemaker needed? Maybe not at one time, but good coffee had become part and parcel of my writing life. My brain snaps to attention at the sheer smell of the Good Stuff brewing in a Good Pot. Many of you who write will understand. And the more writerly I get, the more the coffeemaker matters. It’s also one of the few luxuries I have.
So maybe it was worth it. But it does serve as a reminder that: “The best-laid schemes o’ min’malists gang aft agley.”
Have you had something like this snowball on you, too?
Thanks to all who have followed this blog and read my books and I hope that 2015 brings you peace and prosperity.