Saturday, November 27, 2004


I've got a secret... Our dryer went on the fritz weeks ago and I still haven't told our landlords, even though they only live upstairs (although they appear to have been out of town for most of the last couple of weeks). It conked out...I don't know...last month? I keep meaning to call them to get it fixed, but then I put it off...because secretly I love line-dried laundry. That's right: given a choice, I'd choose a clothesline over a dryer any day. Granted, it can be a bit of an inconvenience sometimes, especially when you live in a condo that's situated on one of the signature holes on the golf course and you don't have a yard or a clothesline. :)

The stacked washer/dryer unit we currently have used to belong to the landlords. They bequeathed it to us when they bought a new one last year. The dryer on our previous unit conked out a couple of years ago--right about this time of year. It had a broken belt, and I suspect this one has one, too.

We had a clothesline left over from our previous house (where I'd string it up along the picket fence of the balcony), so last time we were without a dryer, the boyfriend rigged up the clothesline along our long front balcony. But we couldn't very well hang laundry during the day; the condo association would have our ass. So we waited until dark and then hung it up. That time, I reported the problem to the landlords right away, but it still took them six weeks to fix it. (He owns an air conditioning and refrigeration business--the last thing he feels like doing when he gets home is fixing another appliance.) Since we live in the tropics, it wasn't unusual to get an overnight shower, which meant we'd often wake to laundry that was just as wet 12 hours later. But I'd still have to bring it in anyway before the golfers showed up. Not to mention that my brother brought his family of five and my mother for Thanksgiving that year. Try having eight people in a teensy condo....with no dryer. :(

This time I decided to just use the shower rod. It's extra-long because there's a planter box next to the tub. You might be wondering how fresh our laundry could smell hanging in our bathroom, but we have large windows on one side of the tub and one of them is permanently open (as are all of our sliders and windows). We can get a nice, gentle breeze through there. And sheets and linens? You'd be surprised how quickly sheets dry when hung over the tub (as you can see, there's a shower rod against the window, too) and how inventive I can be rigging up drying surfaces for blankets. So even though November was once again our rainiest month, this has been a breeze. And it's not like we're constantly doing laundry--it's just the two of us. The odd thing is, I seem to be keeping more on top of the laundry than when the dryer was working. When convenience is at your fingertips, I suppose it's easy to wait until you have a shitload of it to do.

I'm the first to admit that I have a bit of a Luddite soul, but that's not the only reason I've gone bass-ackwards in this area. The real reason is that it reminds me of Nanny, my Italian grandmother. She never owned a dryer. Heck, when I was little, she still owned one of those old-fashioned wringer washing machines. Her towels always had that stiff line-dried feel to them, but even better, they had that fresh smell. No softener or dryer sheets can recreate that smell.

I have fond memories of being in my grandmother's backyard and helping her hang or take down her laundry. It used to be a treat to 'get to' hang up the laundry. Her clotheline was right next to her rose bushes. And after I'd help with the laundry, I'd take a leisurely stroll among the roses (all different varieties), lean in and inhale their fragrance and rub my grimy kid fingers over their tender, soft petals.

Yes, I'll eventually get around to telling the landlords to fix our dryer. But in the meantime, it'll be just me and my clothespins (even though they're not evident in this picture, I use them all the time). And I'm perfectly fine with that. And I'll keep imagining my little dream house...with a big yard...and plenty of room for a clothesline. And when I have my clothesline, I'll stand before it, pinning my laundry...and take a moment to lift a sheet over my head to look at the sun through bright cotton. And once again, I'll be back there in the yard behind that little house on J Street that my Portugese grandfather built. And all will be right in my world...again.

Thanks to Sunday School Rebel for inspiring this post. Posted by Hello


Anonymous Anonymous said...

and what an inspiring post it is!! Full of smell and texture and powerful memory. I can SEE your beautiful dream house with the great big yard and the line of fresh laundry snapping in the breeze . . blessed be. ~bluepoppy

9:34 AM  
Blogger Michele said...

When I line dry my clothes they are stiff as a board and we hate it. You made it sound so much nicer. LOL

10:16 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

the downstairs dryer doesn't work very well here and I've had to hang quite a bit here arond the house . . . I've been internally bitchy about it, but now I have a different persepctive and feel cheerful about it because my friend Marilyn is line drying too. :) And I'll use the shower rod instead of the backs of couch, chairs, etc. . . yay :) K

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh! Marilyn! What a beautiful post. I am so honored my little post inspired it!

You have a great attitude about your dryer being broken, I would be stomping my feet and cursing. Unfortunately, I never really LIKED taking down laundry, or hanging it up - invariably I would be interrupted in the middle of a book - I just like the visual of the clothes on the line, and how it brings back how some things never change. ~ Sam

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes I love my clothes line in fact I have more than one - jealous yet ha-ha. The longest one stretches from a silver birch a third of the way down my garden to an apple tree at the bottom of the garden, then I have a line that starts at the kitchen door and meanders to shed and large climbing rose passing near to some of the bird tables which could mean 'accidents ' by birds but thus far after ten years the birds have been very polite:0)
As it tends to rain here 24 hours a day during many months it is always very funny on the first dry day for weeks when you travel up and down the valley as the national flag of Wales no longer appears to be green white and red(dragon)but is a patchwork of underwear, outerwear and bedding hung from every available line.
I do not own a dryer and am not so eccentric here not to have one. I do have two indoor lines one in the kitchen and one in the attic room, the kitchen one does mean that damp or drying clothes need moving on a regular basis when cooking is going on as I prefer fresh smelling clothes than those which smell of lentils:0)I also now have the luxurey of radiators so they get utilised too.
I am always amazed that drying washing blowing in a breeze on a sunny day can be such a pleasing sight and does somehow lift the spirits. I love to wear clothes that smell of the wind feels like being wrapped in the Earth. I don't think I would ever make decision to live somewhere that wouldn't allow me to hang washing out. Even in many of the housing for the elderly here which I suppose are the nearest thing we have to condo's you will pass by and see little lines set up that will have a tea towel, duster, shirt and underwear etc gayly hung and frankly it raises more of a smile than bland uniformity ever can.
My Mum didn't have a washing machine until the very late 60's so my memories are of large copper, scrubbing dolly and mangle; I loved being allowed to turn the handle of the mangle and felt very grown up when I was allowed to feed clothes into the mangle. When my Mum got her first electric washing machine it had an electric mangle on the top which we all thought was the very height of luxurey; I was still using that machine up till a few years ago and only stopped when a small part could not be replaced though the motor was still running strong, I suspect the washing machine I have now will not last thirty plus years.

3:47 AM  

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