A great day on clothes (and a contest! Tra la la!)

Laundry is a big thing in our house. I don’t just mean in terms of volume of dirty linens. We spent an inordinate amount of time planning for our washer and dryer when we renovated. The house is itty bitty, so would we have to put the machines in the porch? Maybe the washer in the bathroom and the dryer in the porch? Stackable? But full-size machines won’t jive with our 7-foot ceilings… And holy eff, stackable machines are expensive! And where are we going to plumb for the washing machine? Where do we want the dryer exhaust? OH THE DECISIONS!

In the end we got a set off Kijiji for $500. A steal! They are small. “European-sized,” they say, so they stack nicely in our bathroom. (I’ve lived in Europe, and their laundromats have just as many oversized machines as ours, but I digress). The small size forces us to stay on top of the laundry. Even so, it’s not unusual to do two or three loads a day.

And with that, the dryer would be on duty just as often.

During the winter reno, the post that held the clothesline was knocked down to make way for truckloads of supplies.

Summer passed in a rush of sunny days and friendly visits and outdoor adventures. I would gaze longingly at my neighbours’ clothes flapping in the wind and sigh.

“It’s a great day on clothes,” I said more than once, all while dreaming of the day that I, too, would have a sturdy line and sweet-smelling towels.

Finally I took matters into my own hands. Here’s how I got my clothes on the line at long last…

Step 1: complain about not having a clothesline for four months. Four!

Step 2: buy a clothesline

Step 3: Complain about still not having a clothesline even though the supplies are all in the porch.

Step 4: Threaten to hang the damn clothesline yourself.

Step 5: Thank Travis for hanging the clothesline [photo censored]

Step 6: Dig out your bag of clothespins. Oh, they're not hard to find because they've been hanging by the washing machine for four months, waiting for a clothesline pin themselves on!

Step 7: Hang clothes on the line

Step 8: Admire your handiwork and the fluffy clouds in the background. (Also pictured: The beautiful red twine loft that is not our own, but that acts as a serious windbreak when the wind is out of the North East. True story: When we ripped out the walls down to the bare studs, there was no insulation on the side of the house next to the shed, presumably because the shed took the brunt of the weather from that direction.)

Step 9: Wax poetic about clotheslines and the beauty and simplicity of their function and design, and the sweet smell of clothes dried out of doors, and the bleaching powers of the sun on cloth diapers. Feel moralistic and superior for doing some small part to help the environment all while the environment is helping you! Philosophize on this symbiotic relationship and how humans have come such a long way from caves and hide shelters, and wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the way it all used to be?

Step 10: Find a wasp in your bra. Hold clotheslines in a slightly less lofty esteem. Be glad the wasp wasn’t in Sylvia’s diaper.

So. clotheslines. I promised a blog contest, and this is it: Leave your two cents about clotheslines in the comments. Are they the best things ever or more trouble than they’re worth? Have you ever lived in a neighbourhood where clotheslines were outlawed? What if you live in a smoggy city (I’m looking at you, Claire). Do you have a special secret to pegging out clothes? Has a left-handed mitt ever knocked off your nose?

The winner, whose name will be drawn our of a laundry basket, will receive a batch of homemade biscotti made with their choice of nuts/chocolate combination. Can be shipped via airmail, but special consideration may have to be made if the winner is an international reader (Again, Claire – you listening?).

Bonus batch to whoever can cite the source of the left-handed mitt quote.

Go!

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8 responses to “A great day on clothes (and a contest! Tra la la!)

  1. Growing up in our house there were three kinds of clotheslines: The pulley clothesline, the indoor clothesline ( a line strung close to the ceiling attached on either end by a nail driven into the wall, note the nails were 10 times their size with the sweet smelling glossy oil paint, that each spring brought to our kitchen walls). This line was used when you had to scravel your clothes off the line when the rain came or when someone put there fire in the twine loft with the wind blowing right on the line, and finally the clothesline with the pole. The latter was always my favorite because it had a dual purpose. On Monday which was always wash day it served as a clothesline, other times the stick hole was used in many a games of pippy. The hole was always the right size for the short pippy stick.

    • Nancy, I know what you mean about nails being 10-times their size in oil pait. I pulled quite a few nails like that from our ceiling! I wonder if any of them once held a clothesline here.

      Where was the pippy-pole line at Nan’s house?

      Laura B.

  2. I coudn’t live without a clothesline. I use it for as many months as I can, although I “draw the line” when the clothes start to freeze on the line. My challenge is the very strong prevailing westerly wind. If the clothes are not well pegged, I can “lose” them into my neighbours yard (nicely landscaped with a small pond). I’m sure he didn’t plan to have undies decorating his expensive shrubbery! Love your blog and would love some biscotti.

    • The fly-away clothes is a big problem for me, too – especially living as we do mere steps from the water! I have to strategically hang the big wind-catching stuff in the middle of the line where a tree blocks some of the south-west wind.

      Laura B.

  3. Owing to the low-garden problem and the presence of neighbours who love to use the backyard too, my current place has no clothesline (alas). We do dry most of our clothes on one of those precarious collapsing (literally) foldy-jobbies in the apartment, though.

    My previous place WAS in fact one of those nefarious oft-whispered about locales where clotheslines are *gasp* outlawed…but I used to engage in a little bit of stealth clotheslining (which sounds more violent than it is) by zigging and zagging my 50-ft yellow rope back and forth between the fence and the porch spiderweb-style. It was a small backyard. I had no clothespins. But oh, I felt like such a badass for flouting the condo rules!

    • I was thinking of you when I threw in that bit about banned lines. Hasn’t Ottawa since overruled neighbourhood associations on that matter?

      Did you know those collapsing clothes horse things are called gull-wing clothes dryers? I know! I had a uni roommate who worked at Walmart…

      Laura B.

  4. I was brought up in Cork Ireland one of the wettest cities in Europe where whole days were spent in between showers, dashing back and forth to the clothes line with clothes which were hung indoors on chairs and tables around the fire and then gathered up and dragged outside when the rain subsided for a while. All os us stayed very fit indeed.
    Here in Newfoundland I became more fascinated by the “stage” with the steps than I was with the clothesline itself.
    I mount the stage and survey the domain of ocean, garden and barn around me and bow to the applause when I turn my attention the clothesline and its colourful burden, tossing and turning in the sea breeze.
    I love my old fashioned clothespegs, carved from the wood, each one calibrated to a different thickness depending on what it is gripping.
    I could go on. You get the picture.
    I love your blog.
    XO
    WWW

  5. Pingback: From the trenches | The Sheds Project

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