The Washing Machine

I knew it was coming. After seven years of marriage, it was bound to happen. It was only a question of which one would go first.

But when I heard the strange banging, I knew. I grabbed my cell phone and pressed speed dial 2, turning it on speaker phone while it was still ringing.

“Can you hear that noise?” I asked my husband when he answered. “I don’t think my washing machine is supposed to sound like that.”

I was washing a heavy load of jeans and hoped it was just a random occurrence. But when my husband checked the washing machine at lunch, the drum was just sort of floating in there. He called the repair man and described the symptoms: “Go shopping” was the professional opinion. And a quick Google search revealed that we weren’t the only one with a Frigidaire washing machine whose drum had given up the ghost.

I mourned its loss, even though there was no love lost between us. Yes, it had served us well for seven years and three children. It was a stacked unit but it had that nice little shelf that held the detergent and the dryer balls and even the clothespin basket sometimes. And I had pictures of each of my children staring into its exciting depths (because we all know there is nothing more interesting than a washing machine with a door that lets you watch that amazing sudsy process).

However, it always grossed me out to retrieve socks stuck in the flange. Why it needed to be big enough to be a sock receptacle in the first place, I wasn’t sure. But there they would lodge. Right in that flange that always looked dirty, even when I had just wiped it clean.

And there was the way it pocketed the bleach and saved it for three loads later when I was washing my brand new brown slacks. Not a fan.

I only used the dryer when I couldn’t use my beloved clothesline. The dryer had this special feature that collected the lint and then spread it all over the floor when you opened the dryer door. They could charge extra for that.

My husband had heroically taken the entire thing apart and disconnected the wires that made it buzz each time it was done. That saved many a nap. If it weren’t for that, I may have never been caught up on laundry. As it was, despite the freedom to do laundry during naptime, I rarely see the bottom of the laundry basket.

No, I wouldn’t miss that particular washing machine. Even if I would miss the money it would take to replace it.

We borrowed an inherited washing machine that sounded like it, too, was dying. My husband did his research and discovered that if money and space were no object, he’d be the owner of a Speed Queen in an instant. But since money doesn’t grow on trees (or in washing machines), and since we had the tiniest of spaces to fit both a washing machine and a dryer in our only bathroom, our choices were narrower.

I had fond memories of appliance shopping together as a newly engaged couple. I recalled with especial delight the deal we got because we were dealing with a privately owned store that sold scratch and dent units and gave us a discount because we got our fridge from them too.

The price of appliances has gone up considerably in the last seven years. Just in case you wondered. We scoured the scratch and dent options but nothing fit our spot. And we didn’t find anyone willing to cut us any deals. The guys at the locally owned appliance store did not exactly earn our respect. They weren’t quite sure why we wanted an Electrolux. Maybe they were miffed because my husband had brought his own tape measure. Of course, they could clearly see that my husband knew what he wanted and that none of their sales tactics would work on us.

We wash Carhartts with big buttons so we wanted a stainless steel drum. We have kids so we didn’t want those rinky dink soap drawers that are already hard to open. We didn’t need 101 fancy settings. But we did want to be able to turn off the loud, annoying buzz, buzz that said our clothes were clean. And oh yes, we wanted a flange that wouldn’t catch socks every single load. With a door that was easy to open but wouldn’t collect water to drip on the floor. As for the dryer? Our preference was one that caught lint in such a way that it wouldn’t spew the entire collection over the bathroom the moment the dryer was opened. All that in a stackable set that would fit in a very tight space. (There’s nothing worse than trying to walk into the bathroom in the middle of the night and running into the washing machine and dryer instead. We were going for a set that wasn’t half the depth of our bathroom.)

Did I mention the Electrolux washing machines had a lifetime warranty on the part that broke on our Frigidaire? We were sold. We just wanted a deal.

I had just about resigned myself to using the dying loaner machine until it completely bit the dust, when we stopped at Lowe’s for something else on our list. We wandered through the appliance section aimlessly on our way to the checkout. And there we saw a newer model of the machines we’d been looking at, on sale for a much better price. And the Lowe’s salesman? He was nice. He was helpful. He bent over backwards to find us a dryer to match. And arranged for free delivery of them both. The only thing he didn’t do was come out to help my husband install them. But considering that it was already a Very Tight Space, that’s just as well.

I think we’ll start with Lowe’s next time. I just hope next time isn’t any too soon. That fridge door is sagging awfully low. At least it isn’t making any funny noises. Yet.

(Written for the Five Minute Friday prompt “Laundry”
in much more than 5 minutes, but much less time than it takes to wash a load of laundry.
Check out all the posts from last year’s Laundry Week.)

clotheslines

I love hanging laundry up on a line to dry. For the extra time it might take, standing out there in the open air, feeling the breeze on your face and hearing the birds sing is definitely worth it in my book! Besides, can anything beat the fresh smell of line-dried laundry?

-Chantel Brankshire in “Eight Simple Ways to Live Green” on ylcf.org

my great uncle

Mrs. Hood always teased me because Laddie had gone racing after her when I was born. She was in the middle of Monday’s washing, and the bluing settled in the rinse water and stained her white clothes in streaks it took months to bleach out.
-Gene Stratton Porter in Laddie

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My grandmother remembers regular airings of the bedding – coming home from school to find her father had thrown all of the 10 children’s mattresses out of the upstairs windows to be beaten and aired on the bushes and clotheslines.
-Trina Holden in “Spring Cleaning, Dutch Style” on trinaholden.com

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"Mother gets het up on her washing day," said Edith as she and Mary crossed the green to the church.
-Elizabeth Goudge in Scent of Water, page 262

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washing my day

With a basket of freshness sitting beside the window box, wooden clothespin tucked between my teeth, this is communing time. These are clothesline prayers. Stringing the laundry out to dry in the sun, I slip my prayers like beads onto the line. To be warmed in the light of the Son.
-Ann Voskamp in “Clothes Line Prayers” on aholyexperience.com

cloudy clothes in the sunshine

How do I find the time to hang out all that laundry? I make the time, out of sheer necessity. And not just the necessity of getting the clothes dry…
Hanging out the laundry, taking it down, folding the clothes big and small—it’s a few moments of quiet reflection, a few seconds of mental rest. So these days, I don’t find the time to hang out the laundry—I make the time to hang out the laundry.
-from “hanging out the laundry” on gretchenlouise.com

It seems like laundry day always falls on a day full of so many other to-do’s. And the toys are a mess and the dishes need doing but if the laundry doesn’t get hung out in the morning it won’t be dry by dark on these short autumn days.

But isn’t it when we’re dirtiest that we’re most in need of washing?

So I put an empty laundry basket in front of the washing machine and let my little guy pull all the clothes in and out a few times before I check for any stray socks stuck inside and we all make a run for the door.

Let the little children come

little helper

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hanging up the washing

Natasha quilt

The young woman had apparently been in the middle of a washing day, for she wore an apron, her sleeves were rolled up to the elbows and there were soapsuds on her hands. If she had had time to put on her good clothes (her best hat had imitation cherries on it) she would have looked dreadful; as it was, she looked rather nice.
-C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

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…he saw a lithe young figure flash out of the kitchen door carrying a clothesbasket. She put it down on the stone pavement by the pump and stooping, took out a roll of cloth and shook it out till it filmed into a curtain, thin and white. With firm brisk fingers she fastened it to the clothesline just a step away. Then she stooped and took out another roll and treated it the same way, till the row of curtains were blowing gaily in the morning breeze.
-Grace Livingston Hill in Time of the Singing Birds

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