Chap 6, Post 4 – Hard times teach gratitude for the basics

Frugal Luxuries

That evening, with Sharon all tucked into bed for the night, I poured some of the taco-flavored cheese crackers we had just bought into an old cracked ceramic bowl.  Then I wrapped myself up in our old blue blanket, and curled up on the good end of the loveseat with The Gift of the Deer.  (Available at Amazon at

 During that year I typed at home, reading any book for pleasure was a true luxury. With so much transcribing to be done I dared not strain my eyes during non-typing hours.  This book, though, turned out to be a special treasure.  It provided inspiration and strength for many years to come, just as The Little House series had already done.  Somehow, I knew all that while reading those first ten pages in the library.

Another Thrifty Family


Helen Hoover’s clear recounting of the same type of problems I’d faced clarified my own thoughts about living in difficult circumstances, things like making do and doing without, stretching each nickle, and inconveniences like small living space.  Also, Helen and her husband had made deliberate decisions to shape their lives around the things they valued, no matter the cost to other conveniences or luxuries.

The story was of a couple, Helen and Ade Hoover, and their decision to leave the Chicago suburbs and live in a log cabin in the Minnesota woods.   They both were kept busy just trying to survive and had only a few precious hours each day on their writing and drawing, hobbies they hoped to make profitable.  The long, severe Minnesota winters were themselves challenging as was getting supplies like food and heating oil.

Every little task required great effort and planning.  For Ade to make the trek to the general store to mail Helen’s stories and his drawings required careful planning ahead so that, for example, he could chop enough wood for the entire day the trip would take while Helen would be alone in the cabin all day.

Paring life to the bone, though, gave them keen appreciation of the blessings  they typically had taken for granted back in the city— food, shelter, warmth, and companionship.  Their simple life and their struggle with the elements taught them to cherish nature and the wild creatures they discovered who lived in the same ten acres of wooded forest they owned.   Chipmunks, birds of all kinds, otters, beavers,  badgers, and bobcats and were common sights.  And of course, the deer.


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