The Simple Life: Things I Neither Need Nor Want

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, today thinking about the large number of things I happily do without. It was a request to do a podcast via Skype that started me thinking about this. Turned out I could do the interview just as easily the old-fashioned way—over the landline. Len Edgerly, the interviewer, offered to talk me through setting up Skype on my computer, pointing out that the system itself is free. I politely declined. I don’t have family in far flung places. I am asked to do perhaps one of these podcast interviews a year. And, of course, if I were paranoid (who, me?) I’d be concerned about having a camera on my computer that could be watching me. If you’re interested, you can hear the podcast at

What else do I NOT have? Let’s start with technology that’s been around for generations. I have never had and see no need for either a dishwasher or a clothes dryer. There are just the two of us here. I actually enjoy washing dishes once a day. Plus, it’s a free “heat treatment” for my arthritic fingers. As for the clothes dryer, they use a lot of electricity, present a fire danger if they aren’t cleaned regularly, and no matter what the dryer sheet people tell you, never leave clothes smelling as fresh as they will if you hang them up to dry in the open air. When I can’t use our clothes line, I hang clothes on a drying rack and a line strung across the spare room—the kind you can rewind when you’re not using it.

Alexa and her cousins? Nah. I’m perfectly capable of turning on the television, locking the door, looking up information on my pc, and so on without help. Then there’s that case where a private conversation was recorded and sent to a large number of people because the “I’m smarter than people” device thought it had been told to do that. Uh-huh. I can do stupid things all on my own, thank you.

I don’t even own a smart phone. It wouldn’t do me any good at home. We live in a “dead zone” so the landline is a necessity. The cellphone I carry in my purse is for emergencies. I’ve used it once to call AAA when I had a flat tire. I used to use it when I traveled, to call home from hotels. Since I got my iPad, I just use the hotel’s WiFi and send emails instead.

Now, see, I’m not a complete Neanderthal. I have a personal computer and an iPad. On the other hand, my cellphone is a flip phone with an antenna and I still use an old version of Word because I don’t much like the newer ones. Why fiddle with docx files when I can continue to deliver manuscripts to my editor and send guest posts to various blogs and so on in doc files?

Do you see a theme here? I was brought up with the philosophy “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Faster is just faster. It isn’t necessarily better.

We have cable television, something that at one time we didn’t think would ever reach this part of rural Maine. It provides us with New England sports and a good selection of free movies on demand. I tend to buy movies I want to see on DVD and watch at my leisure. I see no need for premium channels or streaming services. Of course, it could just be that I’m cheap.

As you can see, I’ve compiled quite a list of things I can do without, but I’m going to add one more: GPS. I suppose if I lived in a big city and frequently had to find unfamiliar locations, it might come in handy, but in rural Maine? Here, GPS mostly just gets people lost. Plug in our street address without adding WEST to U. S. Rt. 2 and GPS will take you about ten miles in the wrong direction and insist that’s where we live. It also directs cars up dead-end dirt roads with some frequency. I’ve been on trips a couple of times with friends who have GPS. In one case, we were heading for White Plains, New York. The GPS was determined to take us through downtown Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport (at rush hour) when I knew darned well that taking Rt. 84 would save both time and hassle.  Give me a DeLorme road atlas or an old fashioned fold-up road map over that nonsense any day!

What about you, dear readers? What modern “conveniences” are you happy to do without? Are there some you’ve decided are more trouble than they’re worth?

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of more than fifty-five traditionally published books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series (Crime & Punctuation—2018) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” mysteries and is set in Elizabethan England. Her most recent collection of short stories is Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are and and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women.


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18 Responses to The Simple Life: Things I Neither Need Nor Want

  1. Ann says:

    I too enjoy doing dishes and rarely use the dishwasher. I do use the dryer because I live in Florida and where I am renting no clothesline’s allowed. I am looking forward to moving to Maine within the year and having a clothesline like I used when I was a child. I don’t skype and I don’t have GPS (would rather use a map or mapquest printed out and in the seat next to me). And I do not have Alexa and don’t want her or her cousins. I understand completely about using older versions of Word. I got so disgusted with all windows updates and the new word versions I switched completely over to Apple.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rosemary says:

    Love, love this! Have had a dryer in every rental unit I’ve lived in – used them for pot/pan storage. Love a clothes dryer for a hot towel after a brisk walk on a cold day, but have few of those in Florida, but no way to hang stuff outside here. Remember well the smell of sun dried sheets! Even though I don’t NEED a land-line phone here, have one. Just more comfortable, what with hurricanes and all. And don’t get me started on all those fancy kitchen thingys. A toaster, crockpot, hand mixer, coffee maker and a good set of pots/pans and I’m good.

    By the way, if this sounds familiar, Ann is my sister, and I’m planning to fulfill my dream of moving to Maine also.


    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Hi, Rosemary. I chuckled when I read the end of your comment. I love that you’re both planning to move to Maine. It really is a great place to live.


  3. Barbara Ross says:

    Hi–Barbara Ross here living in opposite land, though I am only 2 hours away.

    I can’t imagine visiting all the small Maine libraries I have over the last several years without GPS. I can no longer read the tiny writing on maps, especially while I’m driving, so I like something that talks to me. We use Waze on our phones, which factors in the traffic, so it never would take you Route 95 when 84 (or even more likely the Merritt Parkway) would have been better. I have made that trip too many times to count.

    Getting email on my phone was a miracle for me when it happened. I no longer had to spend the start of every semester tethered to my desk waiting for a disaster to occur at a college or university that was using my company’s software. As long as nothing was going on I could live my normal life, but if someone needed to reach me I had instant access to the long email threads major support incidents cause. I was free. Now I can also access the Web, and a GPS and a flashlight and the news. It’s my Swiss Army knife.

    Facetiming with our granddaughter is my joy now that they’ve moved to Virginia.

    Our house in Boothbay doesn’t have a dishwasher. Since we often have big crowds of people there, dishwashing becomes a major hassle and a time sink. And I have no interest in hanging out the washing for the seagulls to poop on.

    So I say, bring on the mod-cons. I’m kind of pissed I don’t have a Jetson’s-style robot maid.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Monica says:

    Our GPS tries to kill us on every vacation. SamanthaMichelle keeps telling us to turn right or left off switchback roads in the mountains. We have discovered, much to our amusement, that ‘she’ does not like these roads anymore and will continually tell us to ‘make a u-turn’ until ‘she’ finally subsides into stony silence waiting for the nonsense to pass and for us to get back on some straight stretches of road. Rt 89A thru Jerome, AZ almost caused her to shut down altogether.

    I, also, can live without Alexa and cohorts. I’m not sure I even understand what Roku does, or how to use it. If I can’t figure out the TV remote, I read a book. I think (sounding like an old person here) technology is stressful, not just to me, but I notice lots of people no longer know how to relax. Afraid of missing something if not connected round the clock.


    • kaitlynkathy says:

      I’m unsure about the whole streaming concept, especially since it seems to require either a “smart” tv or some special gadget. Reading a book is also my go-to option, although I will admit to reading most books on my iPad so I can enlarge the font.


  5. Gram says:

    No GPS, no Alexa, no Skype. Use the dishwasher only when we have 30-30 people for the holidays or for make your own holidays. Landline, yes..flip phone in the car for emergencies. Computers yes. dryer yes because no clothesline, but I still remember the smell of sheets fresh off the line… I think I covered them all.


  6. atkokosplace says:

    The thought of Alexa scares me! LOL I could do without something listening to my every word. Ack! I don’t use a microwave. Have a wonderful day!


  7. bangorgirl says:

    Alexa scares me and I don’t have or want a smart phone but I like and truly appreciate most all of the other tech conveniences, especially my Kindle so I can always have a library with me 😊


  8. TLynn says:

    What an enjoyable post. Let me see, no way to Alexa, but yes to GPS. However, I always have maps in the car – I want to visualize the world I’m traveling in – not just the next turn. Dryer, because our community doesn’t allow clotheslines, but possibly also because when I was a child a shirt off the line was folded into my drawer with a bee inside it. That bee was Angry when I put that shirt on !

    Cell phone because that’s where my GPS is, and in case of car emergencies, or pie emergencies. One day I asked for “pie places near me” and to my surprise there was one – Granny’s – now my go-to place for the Holidays.

    Social media and the expectation of always being on-line are stressful – so I don’t. Give me a book club, a card game, a conversation – no technology, just old-school.


  9. kaitlynkathy says:

    Thanks for your comment. Love the bee story, and I completely agree about wanting to visualize more than the next turn on the road.


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