Posts Tagged ‘sheets’

Laundry Day #13

August 16, 2011

Inventory:

Sheets: 6
Pillowcases: 10
Towels: 5
Socks: 8
Underwear: 19

Temperature: Hot

Cost: $6

What have we learned?

Guests came to stay and now I’m washing their laundry. Well, not their laundry precisely, but the laundry left here after they departed: three times my usual load of sheets, pillowcases and towels. Plus socks and underwear—ours, not theirs—because they required a hot-water wash and this was a big one.

If you consider laundry to be drudgery, the thought of washing things soiled by others would only add to your displeasure. I don’t see things that way. Providing overnight guests with clean sheets and towels, and a comfortable place to use them, is part of my role as a host. I wouldn’t object to preparing and serving a meal for company, nor to cleaning up afterward. Why should laundry be different?

Laundry says you’re welcome. The sheets will be clean for you anytime you want to come and stay.

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A Clean Start

January 3, 2011

After time out for restoration and repairs—in the real world if not in the blog world—I’m back and looking for a clean start. What better way to do that than with laundry?

So, I did the wash—two loads—on New Year’s Eve. Sheets, towels, clothes.

It was all cleaned, dried and put away in time to eat a late supper, drink champagne and watch the ball drop. I even put up a pot of red beans that simmered on the stove all day on January 1. It’s supposed to be lucky to eat beans on New Year’s Day. Later I found out that black-eyed peas are the legumes of choice, but that was long after the red beans had started to simmer and I figured I’d take my chances, maybe even start a new trend for the new year.

Which makes me wonder…

Shouldn’t washing the clothes be a good thing to do to celebrate the new year?

Apparently traditional superstition says not, but I didn’t know that when I loaded up the washers on December 31. So if 2011 proves to be a year of spinning, tumbling and agitation, I guess I’ll know why.

But I prefer to believe that doing the wash is a symbolic way to (w)ring out the old and ring in the new. It’s a chance for a clean start; and isn’t that what New Year’s celebrations are all about?

Washin’ in the Rain

April 26, 2010

Rainy days are tricky for laundry. If you hang yours out in the yard to dry, the dilemma is clear. Yet even if you use an electric dryer you might still have a sense that the laundry isn’t entirely dry, particularly if it’s been raining for a few days and everything seems to be a bit damp indoors and out.

Nevertheless I did my laundry on this rainy day—the second of what looks to be a string of them. Now I feel all cozy inside.

There’s a big pile of freshly dried laundry waiting for me, and T-shirts and pants hanging on the drying rack for later. If I’m feeling ambitious I might take out the ironing board or sew on a stray button, but it’s more likely that I’ll put a good movie on the TV, fold the towels, pair up the socks and smooth out the sheets.

When things look gloomy outside, laundry helps you focus inward.

Punch is Punctual

April 14, 2010

Punch is on an organization kick, putting his finances and his life in order. He does his laundry like clockwork.

Punch won’t be the person who leaves his clothes in the dryer for thirty minutes after the cycle is complete. When Punch is in the laundry room with you, you’d best be punctual too.

Punctuality is an overlooked courtesy in a society in which “a flight is counted as on time if it operated less than fifteen minutes after the scheduled time” (says the U.S. Department of Transportation) and “a train is considered on time if it reaches its final destination within five minutes and fifty-nine seconds of its scheduled arrival time” (says the Long Island Rail Road). Boston’s MBTA sets its standard at four minutes and fifty-nine seconds, which only diminishes its on-time performance. Punch must find domestic travel an endless source of frustration.

I’d recommend Punch for U.S. Secretary of Transportation, or at least chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York. The trains would run on time and no one would put their feet on the seats. Punch wouldn’t permit it.

About ten minutes before my dryer cycle was going to finish, the phone rang. For a moment I considered letting the call go to voice mail. The dryers all were full and I knew Punch had his sheets in the washer. Instead, I answered the phone, talked for fifteen minutes, then hung up and bolted to the laundry room. By the time I got there, my laundry had been removed from the dryer and piled into one of the two laundry carts. Punch’s pink sheets were tumbling around in its place.

Punch sometimes has difficulty forgiving the failings of others. I hope he made an exception in my case.

Laundry Day #6

April 10, 2010

Inventory:

Sheets: 2
Pillowcases: 4
Towels: 5
Pants: 7
Shirts: 12
Undershirts: 3
Underwear: 23
Socks: 32

Temperature: Hot/Warm

Cost: $6.25

What have we learned?

It’s been a while since I did the wash.

I will confess that I don’t document every Laundry Day here. (How much laundry could one reader stand? I think I’m already testing that limit.) I also don’t write about every Laundry Day on the day it occurs, although I do present them chronologically. Nevertheless, it has been more than two weeks since my last Laundry Day post, and the lag has been about the same in real time.

Laundry reminds you when you’re slacking. The hamper overflows; your favorite items of clothing are unavailable (unless you’re willing to wear them wrinkled or less-than-fresh); you’re down to the few pairs of underwear and socks that you’d prefer not to share with others.

At first, you might approach these conditions with a sense of abandon. “Who cares about the laundry?” you think. “I’ll get to it when I get to it. I’m too busy/tired/stressed out/inert to give this my attention.”

That attitude might serve you for a while, but eventually it will be superseded by a sense that you’re not meeting your obligations.

The dirty laundry seems to tsk-tsk at you each time you walk past. “What? More?” it sniffs as you toss another soiled shirt on the pile. “There’s thermal underwear at the bottom here, you know, and we’re well into spring. Are you ever going to take care of this?”

The answer, you realize, must be “Yes, I am.” For the sooner you attend to the laundry, the sooner you regain authority over your life.

When it’s washed and dried you can toss it on the sofa beside you and attend to it while you watch television or listen to music or talk on the phone. Laundry doesn’t mind. All it wants is a little notice and care, and it will repay you with a sense of well-being; it will wrap you in warmth and softness and you’ll feel better for having given it your attention.

Laundry appreciates your attention.

The Day I Started Running Hot

March 25, 2010

The day I started running hot was the day I read a report that said 100 percent of dust mites could be eliminated from fabrics by washing at temperatures of 140°F or over. Ever since then, sheets and towels have been strictly Normal Wash Hot. Underwear and athletic socks too. I’ve slept better ever since.

But not without misgivings.

The people who support air-drying laundry as a way to reduce household energy consumption also advocate washing in cold water for the same reason. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends it as well. So, while I won’t argue with the fact that heating the wash water accounts for 90 percent of the energy used by a household washing machine, I will say that cold water doesn’t have the same effect on my sheets and towels. Much as I hate to admit it, I make an exception for myself in this regard.

I do what I can to compensate—wash a full load and tumble dry it on a medium setting. I hang dry everything else.

Laundry reminds us that it’s hard to go through life without getting into hot water.

Laundry is a Mystery, Part 2

March 1, 2010

Forty-seven socks were washed. That’s 47 individual socks; 23 pairs and one lone sock without a mate. (More math, and for this I apologize.)

Where is the missing sock? This is a fundamental mystery of laundry. And it poses a dilemma: Do you keep the freshly washed lone sock and believe that its mate will resurface, or do you toss it away and assume the mate has gone forever?

This is not quite the glass half-full/half-empty dichotomy, but it’s similar. It’s about uncertainty and hope, and how to balance the two.

Until I’m certain that the missing sock will never be found, I live in hope. There are so many places where the missing sock could be hiding.

It could be in the laundry hamper, unwashed and overlooked but available for rescue and redemption at any time.

It could be hidden within the newly washed and dried laundry—the corners of fitted sheets seem to lure socks in the dryer. I discover these lost socks when I fold the sheets; or sometimes only after I unfold the sheets to use them again.

It could be stuck to the inner walls of the washer following the spin cycle. Or it could have been dropped anywhere on my route to or from the laundry room. Finding these stray socks is more difficult, but it’s not impossible if we resort to the Blanche DuBois principle of relying on the kindness of strangers. For there are always lone socks tacked to the bulletin board in the laundry room. They were found by neighbors, or strangers (sadly often one and the same), and hung there for their owners to claim them.

As long as there is a bulletin board in the laundry room, there is hope.

Laundry Day #2

February 23, 2010

Inventory:

Sheets: 2
Pillowcases: 2
Underwear: 11
Pants: 6
Shirts: 14
Socks: 47

Temperature: Warm/Hot

Cost: $6.25

What have we learned?

Laundry is a word problem.

The price of one wash in a normal washer is $1.75. The price of one wash in the triple-loader, which theoretically—but not actually—holds three times the amount of a single washer, is $3. The price of 30 minutes in the dryer is $1.50. If we washed and dried all of the items listed above, which combination of washers and dryers did we use?

Do the math.

There is Always Laundry

February 22, 2010

There have been more days than I should admit when laundry was the only thing I accomplished before my head hit the pillow in the evening. I write “laundry” on my “to do” list most days, and when it’s done, I cross it off the list. Complete.

I consider doing a load of laundry an accomplishment, because it gives me satisfaction to know that I’m sleeping on clean sheets, using fresh towels and opening drawers full of clean clothes when I get dressed each day.

This is not to say that I believe doing laundry makes me accomplished as an individual. Only that it is a tangible indication I am taking care of things at home, making an effort to restore order and tidiness, which might, somehow, if I’m very, very lucky, restore order and tidiness to my thoughts. At the very least it says that I’ll have clean underwear for another week.

There might not be work, but there is always laundry. Some days, that’s enough.