Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Domesticity En-Zed

Our stay in New Zealand has so far been eye-opening in many ways. Lots of aspects of our lives here are similar to our lives in the States, while some are vastly different. Sometimes you have to look very closely to see that even the similarities are often still quite different. But to get a good view of my daily life as a laundress, you must travel back in time to your grandmother's house or 1964. 

If you are a mom (please forgive me if I sound sexist here) you know that a decent chunk of nearly every day is spent doing your family's laundry. Maybe you're a better mom than me and your kids are doing the laundry. Either way, we've all spent a good deal of time at some point sorting, measuring, choosing temperatures, and then transferring, folding, and putting away. At home, this task seems to pile up to overwhelming heights and discourages me and irritates me. 

When we arrived here at our temporary home, one of the first things I noticed was that I wasn't in Solon anymore. My washer and dryer (though I was thankful to have them at all) appeared to be made for the Barbie Townhouse and had a strange assortment of buttons that I wasn't at all pleased with. Why? Because I just didn't know what they did, that's all! I had three beds' worth of new sheets and duvet covers plus towels to wash before we could all shower and get to bed and it looked as if it might take days to do. The dryer had lint spilling out of odd crevices and I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to clean it out or turn the damned thing on. 

Yikes, how did that train get so far off the track?? Anyway -- once I figured it all out and bought some detergent (eco-friendly and in cool packaging), things just got better and better. My laundry room in this 1950's house is outside! I mean, it's in a room with walls and a floor, but that room is in the breezeway between the garages and the door that goes inside. Across the breezeway is a lovely, if rather dilapidated, birdsong- and lavender-filled courtyard just for hanging the laundry to dry! It's so sweet and I love it! I now do my few small loads of laundry each morning and then hang much of it to dry. 

Here's what I've learned: if you want the laundry to have enough time to dry, you have to get it washed and hung first thing in the morning. Then you have to pay attention to the skies if you live on a tiny island in the middle of two oceans that is subject to the whims and moods of maritime weather. The skies open up for 10 minutes here and there all the time. Or sometimes it rains and blows 40-50 mph for two whole days straight. Then the laundry just has to wait. Also if you hang shirts from the bottom and fold the hem over just so, you can avoid seeing the little marks from the clothes pins. Yes, clothes pins! I had to buy two packages of them. I've never in my life used clothes pins for anything other than Dorito bags. I'm also getting good at pinning things up without letting them fall on the ground. I just hope one of you will nominate me for the June Cleaver Award this year.

I do wonder though if any of you guys out there hang your laundry on a clothes line? Or even just sheets? (In which case, you're probably rolling your eyes at my never-ending laundry tale.) I imagine that, in Cleveland anyway, it's difficult to do this year-round, but I love the slow simple process of piling up the clothes on that old $5 plastic chair and carefully hanging each piece in the sunshine and breeze. It seems so wholesome and clean. I even enjoy the strange old hardware on the doors. It all makes me feel as if I'm not only far away from home, but visiting a whole different era. Kinda fun, a sort of escape from regularly scheduled programming.


  1. Love the laundry tale. My mom used to hang EVERYTHING out to dry in the summer. We are not even allowed to have clothes lines in my neighborhood or I would probably hang some out too. I like the way they smell when you bring them in. Also like the stiffness of the sheets after they have dried outside! Love your posts! Keep them coming!

  2. Only YOU could make me want to go do laundry in NZ! Love the blog!