Beki Grinter

Reflecting on Laundry

In crafts and craftiness, European Union on July 19, 2008 at 9:26 pm

I think of myself as a modern woman.  Mostly.

But, in the last year, I’ve been trying to do laundry in the “old fashioned way.”  No, not the really old fashioned way (Mondays, with other women, a large boiling vat of water and a mangle — that’s the way my Grandmother and her sisters did it, I’m not that hardcore and nor do I think my colleagues in the HCI group would understand my need to reschedule the Monday faculty meeting at noon).

No, what I mean is to do laundry in which the clothes get hung out to dry in the sunshine.  (Interesting how hang out to dry evokes notions of leaving someone to take the blame, not thoughts of fresh unmentionables blowing in the wind).  I live in the metropolis.  And one day of the weekend the laundry goes into the front loader, comes out, and then gets hung on the clothes horse and onto hangers that are compatible with the railings of the fence that keeps us from jumping off the deck.  And there it all hangs, enjoying the Atlanta summer.

So, I have several questions.

1) Will I get any kind of ticket or fine? The reason I wonder is because I notice that no-one else hangs their clothes out in visible sight of anyone else.  No everyone else is busy paying to cool their house with AC so that they can then pay to turn on their dryer and heat up their house.  Contrast this with Europe, where part of the joy of walking through the hood or taking the train is seeing people’s clothes.  Gives you some insight into the owners, and numerous opportunities to pause and take a fashion moment.

2) Does it take longer?  So, I began this by saying that I think of myself as a relatively modern woman.  So, of course my concern is whether this saves me any time/labor.  The reason I even ask this is because I have read Ruth Schwarz Cowan’s work.  No, she didn’t say that throwing out technology would make things go quicker… but she did put it into my mind that I should ask these questions…

So, what would I say.  There’s more talk, perhaps in the same way that washing/drying dishes by hand generates talk.  My husband and I talk while hanging things out.  Frequently it’s about the hanging process, but as we mature in our tactics, I think the balance will be towards other conversations.  It also takes longer for things to dry.  And in Atlanta that means attending to the rhythm of the summer day.  It always begins quite clear, but over the course of the day the unstable air produces large clouds… sometimes these become “pop up” thunderstorms.  Air drying is thwarted by intense rain storms that put down a couple inches per hour (sometimes more), so clearly one has to follow the rhythm of the day (and for those of you who know me that’s a real pleasure because I LOVE THE WEATHER, I look at the doppler radar multiple times a day).

3) What do the neighbors think? Since we have a one way relationship with the neighbors, they see our clothes, we do not see theirs, I wonder whether they mind.  I think that this is back to my first question, but they are not strangers, I wonder whether we’ll hear some comments some time, …

So, perhaps you’re asking yourself (if you’re still reading) why I’m doing this?

Georgia has a terrible drought.  Saving water.  The front loading washer is a help.  But, electricity generation in this state also uses water cooling.  But, mainly it’s just that I can’t abide paying for heating and cooling at the same time.


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