Laundry Day #12

April 8, 2011


Shirts: 15
Pants: 4
Pajamas: 2
Socks: 36
Underwear: 6
Tablecloths: 2
Napkins: 5
Dishtowels: 8

Temperature: Warm

Cost: $4.75

What have we learned?

There is so much laundry hanging in the bathroom to dry it has created its own microclimate. Outdoors it’s cold and damp. In the living room the air is dry. In the bathroom, hot and humid.

Today’s wash was darks: jeans and T-shirts with a separate load for tablecloths, cloth napkins and dishtowels that are now tumbling around in the dryer with the socks and underwear, creating yet another microclimate.

The calendar might insist that it’s spring, but laundry tells another story entirely.


The Prodigal Sock

March 28, 2011

It has returned!

The lost sock is back in its rightful place, rolled up with its mate, tucked in the second drawer from the top in my dresser.

I discovered it lurking in the hamper, tangled in a pair of jeans, evading detection. How it managed to escape me for so long, I cannot say. All I know is that it’s back where it belongs now.

I’ll admit that I was disappointed when the sock disappeared, but a part of me never lost hope that one day it would find its way home. Tossing away its mate would have indicated a finality that I wasn’t prepared to accept. So the remaining sock sat on top of my dresser—a small sign of faith—and together we waited.

Staying positive is not something I do naturally or well. Seeing those socks in my drawer each morning reminds me to adjust my outlook.


March 7, 2011

I lost a sock.

In the catalog of life’s disappointments this registers somewhere above breaking the point off a favorite pencil and far below stepping in gum. Yet, I am disappointed.

I liked the socks formerly known as a pair: brown and white striped body reaching just above the ankle and a solid brown heel and toe for accents. Although I’d owned them for years—possibly as many as ten—they were in good condition, their elastic still stretchy, their soles free of holes. I own many pairs of socks (probably more than I should, really) but I wore these frequently. Now they’re gone.

Well, not they exactly, but he…it…one. I couldn’t even say which, for socks are interchangeable in that way. First left, then right—the ultimate in apolitical. Socks don’t mind which feet they cover—not like shoes, which will tell you right off if you’ve put them on in a way they simply do not wish to be worn.

It would have been possible for a neighbor, upon finding my stray sock in the washer or dryer (for I do believe the sock disappeared in the laundry room) to tack it to the bulletin board beside the other matchless socks. I might have seen it there and taken it back. (It would be highly unlikely, but incredibly exciting, if my sock ended up here.)

But no one found my sock, or if someone did, he or she probably tossed it in the trash. I’m certain no one would have mistaken my sock for her own.

There will be other socks, but none quite like this one.

Laundry Day #11

February 26, 2011


Shirts: 4
Sweaters: 6

Temperature: Cold

Cost: $1.75

What have we learned?

It’s 7 a.m. on a cold, rainy day and I am the first person in the laundry room. This is notable not because I’m the first person in the laundry room (that happens often) nor because it’s a cold, rainy day (there are plenty of those); it is notable because it’s 7 a.m. I am rarely awake at 7 a.m., let alone vertical, bathed, dressed and doing laundry. Yet here I am, beginning my day by crossing one item off my to-do list. One item of many.

On a day such as this, when I’m expecting the rain to turn to snow as soon as the temperature drops a degree or two, I would love to be laundering sheets and towels. A nice, long, hot water wash would be just the thing. But it’s the hand wash that needs doing. The sweaters are bulky and they take up too much room in the hamper.

So on this cold, gray day, I’m washing in cold water.

Sometimes we do what we need to do instead of what we want to do.

Safe Haven

February 24, 2011

The laundry room should be a safe haven. It’s where we go to get clean. Nothing stays dirty there long; and the pleasant hum of the washers and dryers cleanses your mind as it cleans your clothes.

So I can only imagine what an intrusion like this one would have done to the minds and bodies of the unsuspecting launderers in this New Hampshire laundromat.

The driver of the car lost control when she answered her cell phone. Another reason that cell phone should be banned from cars, and from laundry rooms.

Washing Smalls

February 14, 2011

I met Peanut’s grandpa in the laundry room today. He entered toting a giant collapsible hamper full of dirty wash and fed it all into the triple-loader.

“One little baby makes a lot of laundry,” I said.

He just smiled.

The smallest people in the house tend to be responsible for the most dirty clothes—and no one seems to mind.

Faded Glory

February 8, 2011

I own three towels—two bath towels and one hand towel—all soft turquoise blue, all bought at the same time.

They travel together from the linen closet to the hooks on the back of the bathroom door to the washer and dryer and back again. They’re all washed hot, lately with Seventh Generation laundry detergent because I like the Blue Eucalyptus and Lavender scent.

Yet recently I’ve noticed that the three towels no longer match. One has faded to a greenish version of its original self, one is dusted with aqua blue, and the third is going gray.

I still treat them as contemporaries and I always will, but clearly they are aging at different rates.

Then again, don’t we all?

Laundry Day #10

February 2, 2011


Shirts: 12
Pants: 7
Pajamas: 2
Shorts: 2
Socks: 18
Underwear: 6

Temperature: Warm

Cost: $3.25

What have we learned?

It’s February. The weather forecast calls for “icy conditions with periods of freezing rain.” So why am I washing shorts?

You might think it has something to do with going to a gym or exercising, but then you don’t know me very well. These were shorts for relaxing in the sun. I just returned from a long weekend away where the weather was balmy, my sandals came out to play and my coat stayed in the closet.

Then, you might well ask, why the pants and socks? And indeed, why the long-sleeved pajamas? I confess they were laundry leftovers from before I went away. My plans to empty the laundry hamper completely before my trip were waylaid. Still, I left myself enough room for the vacation duds, shorts and all. Now they’re back where they belong waiting for spring, and so am I.


January 31, 2011

I wonder how many people clean the house before they go away for a few days. I always do—vacuum the rugs, wash the dishes, take out the trash, tidy up—and not merely because burglars, should they choose this time to visit, would be scandalized by my usual level of untidiness.

I do it so that I come home to a place that’s ready to welcome me when I return. I don’t want to come home to my everyday disarray; I want to come back to the home I envision, where all the pieces are in place except for one. The last missing piece is me.

Naturally, before I go away I do the laundry as well. Then, when I return, I have clean clothes in the closet and an empty hamper waiting to be filled with my traveling clothes when I unpack my suitcase.


January 16, 2011

Multitasking is a concept designed to make us feel inadequate. Like scholar-athletes or Angelina Jolie.

The idea that we can perform several tasks simultaneously is unrealistic. Neuroscientists have spent a lot of time demonstrating this, because people who insist that they’re capable of doing two or three things at once require scientific proof before they can be convinced otherwise. (For the rest of us, common sense tends to suffice.)

I believe the neuroscientists, although I think they overlooked one important thing: They didn’t consider the laundry.

Laundry is the ideal multitasking component. As long as the clothes are in the washer or the dryer, you’re free to participate in another activity content in the knowledge that you are successfully “doing” two things at once—even if the second thing is talking on the phone, watching TV or napping. This should be foolproof, but sometimes it’s possible to mess it up.

Today I’m planning to engage in my own form of multitasking—ironing and watching television. Yes, this is the same ironing I’ve been contemplating for nearly a week. I feel, however, that conditions are finally right for experimentation. Alert the scientific community.