Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It all comes out in the wash

The washing machine in our NJ house died last week. This was no great (or unexpected) loss... the thing had been on its last legs for over a year now. In the final months before we left the States, I was unable to run it if anyone was sleeping, entertaining guests or talking on the phone. None of these things were possible with the noise of the machine, which sounded frighteningly similar to a fighter jet taking flight, running in the background. (The fact that someone was always sleeping, visiting or talking on the phone in that house was my excuse for both the massive size of my children's wardrobes and the fact that they rarely had much in the way of clean clothing.)

It's frankly a miracle that the machine ran as long as it did, and we were not in the least surprised to receive notification from our tenants, who were needlessly apologetic about the inconvenience and the expense, that it had washed its last load. We immediately offered to get them a new one, assuring our tenants that it was a purchase we were happy to make. Forget "happy"... I was positively giddy about purchasing a new American washing machine, even if it will be at least a year and a half or so before I get a chance to even see the thing. "But will it hold over sized loads?" I quizzed the sales guy over the phone. "Really over sized? Like, how many pairs of blue jeans do you think I'll be able to wash at the same time? Because I want to make sure that this is a really, really big machine."

This is my washing machine here in London. It is also my dryer here in London, as those clever Brits have figured out a way to meet two household needs with one space saving appliance. It is located smack in the middle of my kitchen, hidden away behind an ingenious fake cabinet door which gives the illusion that I have far more storage space in this kitchen than actually exists. Unfortunately, that lovely cabinet door is nearly never closed, because the machine is in near constant use.

A front loading washer is supposed to use less water and be good for the environment and all sorts of other great stuff, but really, it just makes me nuts. Once it turns on, the door is locked, so if I forget a t-shirt or accidentally drop a sock on the way to the laundry machine, I'm pretty much out of luck for the day. It takes well over an hour to run a standard load of laundry in this machine, after which the load has to be separated into two batches for drying if I ever want it to finish. Each one of those batches takes about an hour to an hour and a half to complete. If I start first thing in the morning and watch the machine diligently all day long, and if I've got no heavy towels or blue jeans thrown into the mix, I can occasionally squeeze in a second load in one day. I'm sure you can imagine how often that happens.

So it's generally one (ridiculously small) load a day here, creating a constant game of laundry catch up that I will just never win. I, who used to toss nearly a full week's worth of laundry into my machine back home and have the audacity to complain that I was doing way too much laundry, now parcel our family's apparel and linens out into little daily bundles of sweet smelling cleanliness. I fold clothing on the kitchen counter or the kitchen floor, trying to avoid the crumbs from the nearby breadbox and toaster. (There's really no better way to know just how dirty your kitchen really is than to try to fold clean laundry in it.) And periodically, I peer into the condenser dryer wondering how on earth it can have no lint filter when I know full well that laundry generates lint. (It's not there. Seriously. I even read the damn manual.) All in all, I spend way too much time thinking about laundry.

I will likely do some 500-odd more loads of laundry before my stay in London is through. But when the movers finally come to pack us up and send us home, I'm shipping every damn last thing in our closets back dirty. Because I have a humongous new washing machine just waiting for me back home. In a dedicated laundry room. With its own separate dryer beside it. The mind boggles.


Anonymous Kristy said...

I've often complained that laundry is my single. most. powerful. nemesis. I simply cannot get myself on top of it. So, when you say you're shipping every last piece of clothing home in its dirty state, all because your current washer is a pain in the ass, I *totally* understand you. And that is why I know we're well matched, even if an ocean separates us

8:02 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I am getting a headache thinking of how I would manage my family's laudry under that system. Do you cry a lot? I'm sure I would!

8:58 PM  
Blogger Tenille said...

Okay, I am offically, right now this second, being thankful for my large, American, energy-wasting washing machine and dryer.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

uuuuggghh the washing machines here.....SO TINY!! And, the dryer doesn't work that well on them. We end up trying our clothing on a "clothes horse" ..therefore, our home looking like a laundry mat with clothes dangling from everything. I loathe it!

Funny how my kitchen looks exactly like yours!! In fact, most kitchens look like yours! heheh Do you find kitchens are "Cookie cutter" designs here? Same ole' design and cabinets for everyone.

London Southern Belle :)

10:52 PM  
Blogger denzylle said...

I see that some of the looted containers from the MSC Napoli, shipwrecked on Branscombe beach, contain personal belongings from migrants' shippings overseas.

I hope, (for your sake), when you ship your dirty clothes back home, they don't end up on EBay.

Or, perhaps, I hope, (for the looters' sake), that they take home a box and find it contains only dirty laundry!

11:02 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

I'm with Jennifer... I don't know how you manage! I would ship mine home dirty, too :)

2:16 AM  
Blogger Gretchen C. said...

Laundry is the monkey on my back, mein kampf, the cross I must bear, the thorn in my side. Two adults and three children generate a powerful lot of it, and I will never get ahead.

There's just something so incongruous about the sight of a washing machine under a kitchen counter. At least you have a solid gold excuse for being perpetually behind.

2:34 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Laundry is the bane of my life. When I finally get around to it and I'm up to my eyeballs in never-ending laundry, I vow I will do little batches throughout the week.

How bad does it get? Danielle has been known to say, "Mom, when are your going to do laundry, I have no more underwear left!"

I feel for you and will rejoice with you when you get to do that first load back in NJ.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Awesome Mom said...

Oh my gosh I think I would die if I had a washing machine that small and in the middle of my kitchen.

3:19 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

OMG! I have a huge front-loader and stay behind on my laundry (a sin, I'm sure). I can't imagine how behind I would be if that were my washer/dryer. Bless you, woman!

5:36 AM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

Boy am I an anomaly! Laundry was the one thing that xDH did (probably because he didn't want to face me at 4 AM, facing an incredibly high stress day, saying "where's some friggin' clean underwaear?!!!" And - I loved the idea of a washing machine / dryer in the kitchen (currently I have to go downstairs to this HORRID basement -- part of the reason that xDH had to do it). Smaller laundries? Fits my lifestyle of clean wash on demand (though I haven't tried this and we always have done HUGE washes -- so maybe just the concept is attractive...). My neighbors hang their clothes out to dry when the weather is nice -- so environment friendly. So NOT me... (random thoughts)

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Two Crabs said...

Hahaha. I loved this post as I have often ranted about our all-in-one machine.

Love your blog. just added you to my blogroll. Cheers!

12:48 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Hubby told me that if we move to Australia, I will have to dry the laundry on a line. I told him that I don't care if we are the only people in the whole country with a dryer, I want one! Line-drying clothes is just stupid. So there.

8:21 PM  

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