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WHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT ELECTRICITY?

Ask me what I did last weekend, and I will tell you. I used electrical appliances. Lots of them -- all different sizes for all different purposes.

The reason I am talking about electrical appliances in the first place is that I have been thinking lately about getting a paper shredder.

I know it is a smart way to dispose of unwanted credit card offers, old financial records, etc. -- certainly more efficient than wielding a scissors or permanent marker -- and I also envision how handy it would be to transform every nuisance piece of paper into one single bag of confetti.

But then I wonder whether I really need a paper shredder. As a general rule, I try not to buy things I do not really need. But that, in turn, got me thinking about all the appliances, gadgets and gizmos -- essential and otherwise -- that have indeed found a place in our home.

Some of them we use a lot. Some, rarely. But last weekend I think I used every single one of them -- except, perhaps, the wet/dry vac.

Granted, we were having company that day, so of course the house was humming. But the next morning, as I was emptying the dishwasher, I began counting all the appliances -- big and small -- I used in one single day.

I used the car (the biggest appliance of all); the coffee-maker; the electric garage door opener; the toaster; the washer; the dryer; the dishwasher; the disposal; the hair dryer; the microwave; the phone; the cell phone; the slow-cooker; the mini food processor; the garlic chopper; the oven; the stove; the VCR; the automatic ice-maker in the freezer; the upright vacuum and, later, the electric broom because leaves kept blowing in whenever the doors were opened.

And I single-handedly operated them all. In one day. Before company arrived at 3 p.m. Then we used the camera and, once again, plugged in the coffee-maker.

Most of these things are fairly ordinary -- OK, the garlic chopper is a little weird but it was a gift years ago -- but the appliance count amazed me.

Still, I do not consider myself a gadgets person.

We do not own a bread-maker or George Forman indoor grill. We do not own an ice-cream maker, toaster oven, pasta maker, ice shaver or espresso-maker. We do not have a leaf-blower or a power-washer.

We do have a waffle-maker but we use it most weekends.

But, like some people I know, I run hot and cold with many of the other gadgets we do own.

In August, I bought a label-maker and really went to town -- stopping short of labeling things like "door, "window" and "cat." Last winter I bought a slow cooker and went bonkers over that, too.

For weeks, I whipped up everything from overnight oatmeal (ick) to vegetable stew (good). I read recipes. I talked to friends about slow-cooking. I even talked one into buying one. During that time, our oven remained cold, yet there was a constant aroma coming from the kitchen.

And then, as quickly as it had started, the fascination with the slow cooker was over.

Let's go out to eat, I said one night.

Last weekend at Appliance Central, I again dragged out the slow cooker and put together a pretty good chicken vegetable tortellini stew. But I kept in storage the stainless steel fondue maker -- the one I have used exactly once.

As for that paper shredder, I am still thinking about it. In the meantime, if I ever feel I have an urgent need for one, I can always call up one of the people I know who already own one.

If they let me use their shredder, I will promise to whip them up a batch of chocolate fondue.

e-mail: smartin@buffnews.com

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