Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Laundry and Humility in a Clothesline Country

I have not been defeated by the laundry in Australia, in the sense that even though it's a tropical environment, I still wear clothes here,  very consistently.  But I believe in tactical retreat - I will live to launder another day.

My future return may involve a second hand dryer, or a large toaster oven, a death ray turned on low, or some other technology to help me optimally get quick, soft  laundry.
Top 10 Things About Our Washing Machine and Clothesline vs a standard washing machine and dryer

  • Save money
  • Save carbon and other emissions
  • No need to buy brillo pads - your towels are scratchy enough straight off the line
  • Experience the fastest run of your life as you dash through the house to get the clothes off the line when you hear rain
  • Experience the humbling power of clothes pins to lock onto clothes while you try to save them from getting wet
  • Experience the joy of rewashing those rainy clothes
  • Save money on fabric softener - it ain't going to be soft anyway
  • Violate UN conventions and almost boil your clothes at 200 degrees F and then torture them at 13 rotations/sec
  • Experience new found respect for past housemates who rejected the idea of building a clothesline to save the environment, lower costs, and annoy the home owner's association
  • In metric, we've already reached ten, so we are at the end of the list.

I'm talking about first world problems here, but that's where I live.

Back home, laundry is my thing around the house.  I can't cook. Except in very limited circumstances, Lara doesn't want me to cook. I don't care enough to clean well or often enough.  I get lost in the grocery store and make multiple calls to make sure I'm getting the right thing, and then I still forget an item ("you put two items on the list on the same line - of course I didn't get one - the line was checked off when I got the first item").  My home improvements projects take longer than some pregnancies.  The ceiling fan was bought before Christmas and was barely in operation before the Summer heat began. A year later, one small part remains undone.  Yard work takes years as my grass seed scatters and my trees wither under the North Carolina sun. But once every few weeks, I can turn very large piles of our dirty clothes into large piles of clean clothes.  It is a predictable thing, and it can be done in huge batches, factory style.

Not so here.  There is no dryer, and there's only so much room on the line, so you have to plan in advance.  The washer has a digital display with confusing error codes that stop the wash, sometimes a few minutes after you step away, and you only discover the problem when returning three hours later (yes a full cycle can take three hours).  The front loading door locks when you start the wash, so there is no adding a last minute shirt or sock that was hiding in the bottom of the basket.  At 800 RPM, the spin cycle can shred old clothes (this is not theoretical in our case - some of my shorts are becoming chaps).  If the filter clogs (code oE I think), you have to clean it out at the bottom of the washer while leftover water gushes out of the front of the machine.

I am no longer competent at my thing.  I am slowly clawing my way back.  I have figured out the error codes and was able to avoid major machinery surgery when I found the filter.  I am trying new techniques to get the clothes less stiff. I may have some solutions by the time I leave.  But I will leave a humbled man. (I wrote this earlier.  As we leave a bit earlier than expected, I have moved to a state of acceptance, not mastery).

The above picture is a foot and a half of jeans that stand straight up, on their own.  Look carefully and you'll see that the jeans are not actually attached to the line.  Many times when you take the clothespins off, the clothes stay on the line.  Some stretchy clothes have spandex woven into them - ours behave as if they had built in Aqua Net.Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

  1. I came over to your FB to see when you were coming home (soon please, soon!) but when I saw this I had to comment. I am so sad that you are having a bad experience with drying on the line. It is one of my joys in life. Of course, our clothes are washed in a standard American washer, and I never dry my towels on the line. Other then that, I LOVE drying on the line. I completely intend to break the code here in our new place and put up a line as soon as nice weather comes. The smell of freshly dried clothes, straight from outside, dried by a breeze provided by God - delicious.