Saturday, October 29, 2011

Letting it all Hang Out!

I was sitting at the computer one day this summer when I heard, "fffphphphzzzzzzttttttt." I turned around to see a cloud of smoke hovering over the kitchen. As I was not, at that time, cooking anything, I became a bit concerned. My concern turned to alarm as a bitter electrical smell overtook me.

Soon, however, the smell faded and the smoke cleared and I could find no area of our home on fire or that looked like it was about to be. On the advice of our personal handyman {my father-in-law, who happened to be here working on various other projects at the time}, I was happy to chalk up the whole matter to way too much dust in the underparts of my fridge. After the men had moved the fridge and swept the offending dust away, we all went back to our previous activities.

Unfortunately, just because one "chalks something up" to "a certain issue" does not mean that the real issue has been settled as I learned the next morning when I pulled a gallon of tepid milk from the large white box that had, until the day before, served as my fridge. My most important appliance had just given up the ghost. My man and I fell into a small bit of "freak out" seeing the dollar signs that purchasing a new refrigerator would require. Not an unreasonable total on its own, but we were in the midst a season of large and costly home repairs, so the addition of this latest expense was sending us in to a bit of a tailspin.

"Funny," said my Man, "When your mixer died this spring {after 17 years of faithful service}I was thinking that the washer or dryer would be the next to go, not the fridge." Funny nothing... two weeks later, two weeks I say, the dryer died. We hadn't even gotten all of the packaging off of the {lovely, larger, luxurious} new fridge.

There was nothing to do but stare at one another, and then chuckle a bit, then sigh. I'm usually a glass-is-half-full kinda gal, so I began to grasp at the positives..."It's July, we have a clothes line, we have clothes pins, it wasn't the washer, usually during the summer sun comes out...."

The next day it became evident that my single solitary clothes line would not come close to meeting the challenge of drying laundry for a family of our size. So...

...I bought more clothes line and more clothes pins.
My Man just grinned and shook his head, "You're gonna have to have a dryer," he'd say.
"I know, I know," I'd answer, "but I just want to give us a little bit of time to recover from the {lovely, larger, luxurious} fridge." 

It turned out, that drying one's clothes on the clothesline became the in vogue thing to do this summer in the blog world where I've been known to hang about from time to time. Even Martha Stewart in a "Whole Living Challenge" post included an article about how line drying clothes can save the universe, or maybe just the planet!?
I found more clothesline encouragement on one of my favorite blogs which posted a great article on line drying clothes about 4 days before I needed the information. The title of the article is "Five Reasons to Line Dry Your Laundry" and while none of the five reasons was "because your dryer will not start," the author had me psyched up and ready to take on my new challenge. 

It wasn't long before I came across another article at that had a VERY intriguing title: "Dry Your Laundry Like You're in Italy"! Well then, that sure made my predicament look much more glamorous.

For the next few months I learned much about drying clothes in my backyard. What I learned didn't have as much to do with the actual nuts and bolts of proper pin placement as it had to do with what I learned about myself and about the world around me. My kids learned a little something too, I'd like to think.

We learned to watch the clouds that approached from the west, would they bring rain or simply float on by?
We learned just how much the angle of the sun from July to August to September could change.

We learned when the rain began not to simply think, "Oh, it's raining..." but instead, "Oh, its raining...HEY EVERYONE to the CLOTHESLINE QUICK!!!"

I know how long it takes jeans to dry on a sunny August day and how long it takes a load of towels to get completely dry on a dreary day in September.

I know how wonderful line-dried sheets smell when I lay my head down on summer nights and I also know that a few sets of sheets drying at the same time really take up a lot of clothesline real estate!

I found out that it's much more fun to fold laundry on the porch than in the basement and therefore, the laundry was much more likely to get folded and put away when taken down from that clothesline than it ever was when taken from the dryer.

I know that if you add white vinegar to your washing machine, your clothes won't be so stiff when they come off of the line. However, if you run out of vinegar, your clothes will become soft and supple just a few short minutes after you put them on.

I learned that I don't care if my neighbors know what color my unmentionables are. They are, after all, unmentionable. 

We learned that flapping laundry on the clothes line will not frighten pesky deer away from tomato plants.

I learned that the sun is the absolute best spot the sun. I've seen formerly stubborn stains disappear from our clothing like magic after an afternoon on the line.

I also learned to think ahead just a little, a skill I've needed to acquire for some time now. 

All of us learned what constituted "dirty" clothes and became much better about the frivolous tossing of our still-clean clothes into laundry hampers.

The most amazing thing I learned was that I very much enjoyed, maybe even loved hanging those clothes out there on that line. What a blessing it was to pause for about 10 minutes in the middle of the day and go outside and enjoy the sunshine. 

I thought a lot about my grandmothers as I hung those clothes. I wondered what occupied their minds when they were pinning up their laundry. They weren't listening to music on their iPhones like me, but they were probably thinking about what they were going to prepare for dinner and maybe they too were enjoying a break from their kids, just like I was.

Weeks passed by and we were getting along just fine with our new routine. The kids all learned to help.  Cole, Meg, and Kate all became old hands at pinning clothes on the line and Molly became skilled at helping us retrieve them when they were dry. "I'll help! I'll help! Wait for me!!!" she'd yell as I went outside with the laundry basket which she would proceed to scoot along the patio as I unclipped clothes and dropped them into the basket.

As the patio beneath our bare feet changed from too-hot-to-tip-toe to too-cold-to-go-barefoot I mentioned aloud that I was really going to "miss this" when we got a new dryer {my Man had recently taken up the cause of convincing me that acquiring a new dryer was a necessary task, not optional one}. "Mom," said Cole, "you can still dry the clothes out here, even if we have a dryer. You'll just get to choose." Oh yeah. 

Last week, I ran into my neighbor whose dryer died the same week that ours had, and I asked if they'd gotten a new dryer yet. They had, in fact, replaced theirs but, said my neighbor, who is a mamma to three lovely little girls, "I'm gonna use my clothes line again in the spring, I just loved it!" 

A new dryer was delivered to our home early this week. It is nice. It has some fancy new features. There is a pretty little ding when the clothes are dry. It is shiny and there is a light inside of it though I'm not sure why. It dries clothes when it is raining outside. 

I began my new dryer's career with five or six loads of towels, followed by loads of sheets, jeans, and brightly colored clothes. By the end of its first day, my new dryer was hoping to get traded to a new household. I imagined it panting with exhaustion and patted it on it's shiny white top and said, "Listen, just get us through the winter and when spring comes you can have a nice long vacation."

Source: via Gretchen on Pinterest

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