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Tony Grist

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Washing Day [Aug. 22nd, 2007|10:24 am]
Tony Grist

We bought a couple of maidens. You know, those folding clothes rack thingies. And we've set them up in the spare bedroom which used to be Joe's and I'm pleased to say they work. You drape clothes over them and in a couple of days the clothes are dry. The tumble dryer, you see, was costing us way too much money. Costing energy too and destroying the planet. 

When I was a kid my mother had a clothes rack that hung from the kitchen ceiling- you winched it up and you winched it down- and on a Monday or a Tuesday- whichever was washing day- you ate your meals with the week's washing hanging over you- like flags.

And she had an early washing machine. It was a big upright tank. You filled it with soapy water and it had paddlewheels in its side that rotated and beat the contents. It filled the whole house with a dank, faintly acidic smell. 

Did we have an outside clothes line? I'm not sure. Hang on. Yes, I can picture it now. It was strung across the yard to the side of the house. The yard was well-screened so as not to offend the neighbours. We were middle-class, see, and- well- you kept your laundry out of sight. The yard sagged in the middle and in wet weather there was a big puddle where I used to sail small plastic boats and spash about in my wellies. There's a snap of me and my girlfriend Valerie- both of us just beyond the toddling stage-  standing beside the puddle with fishing rods. I can see it in my mind's eye.  I believe my coat has a velvet collar.

No need for the maidens today; the sun is shining and that's been rare this summer; I put a load of clothes on early this morning and they'll be going outside to dry. In fact they're going right now. I've just heard the clink which means the coin I washed by mistake has fallen to the bottom of the drum and the final spin cycle  is done. 

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: shullie
2007-08-22 10:21 am (UTC)
I've always had a 'clothes horse' as we call them.. never had a tumble dryer... ours sits there when needs be, just at the top of the stairs, snuggled in the corner, which seems to be one of the wamrest plces in the house. Clothes go there if need be or hopefully outside.... where nature does it for me, no sunshine here atm but we do have wind!



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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-22 11:21 am (UTC)
I imagine there won't be many more days when I'll be able to hang clothes out. Apparently we're being promised an unusually wet autumn. Ha!
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[User Picture]From: richenda
2007-08-23 05:35 pm (UTC)
I use wooden clothes horses too. I originally bought one for wet weather, but now have two and I rarely hang things out of doors now.
I agree about the fresh smell, but there is also the bird problem, and the blowing down problem, both of which result in rewashing.
Also, I used to have to iron clothes dried out of doors. I can't remember when I last got out the iron - with careful hanging, things dry as if ironed.
But this is only since I lived alone - I doubt if I could have managed like this with family washing.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-23 06:07 pm (UTC)
We don't seem to have any trouble with birds. And the backyard is so sheltered the wind's not a problem either.

I've done a wash two days on the run- mainly so I could take advantage of the sunny weather.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2007-08-22 12:22 pm (UTC)
One of the best things about my new apartment is the clothesline outside. When I first moved in I only hung out my bed linens - after all, there IS a golf course next door. But as time has gone on I have started hanging all or most of my laundry outside. Like you, I depend on the weather and a maiden, I guess, is out of the question for me. Some of my stuff now has to be ironed - and even that is kind of nice (although not on the really hot days...)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-22 12:45 pm (UTC)
It's good to hang clothes outside. I like to think they smell better too.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2007-08-22 01:22 pm (UTC)
They do...especially if it's a windy day.

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[User Picture]From: shullie
2007-08-22 03:53 pm (UTC)
I love the smell of my bed sheets when they have dried and aired outside...

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[User Picture]From: mokie
2007-08-22 02:54 pm (UTC)
We used to hang clothes out exclusively when I was a young girl, which was a bit embarrassing since we were right on a relatively busy road, with nothing between us and said road but the alley backing the parking lot for the neighborhood grocery store.

And, also, because my mother and grandmother figured the best place to hang the underwear was right by the alley/lot, since it was the stuff least likely to be swiped off the line.

And the smell all that traffic left in the clothes was less than refreshing.

That said, it was better than winter, when they strung lines through the basement and dried clothes down there...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-22 03:58 pm (UTC)
It's been sunny all day, I just brought the clothes in and they're beautifully dry, God's in his heaven, all's right with the world.

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[User Picture]From: clindau
2007-08-22 05:07 pm (UTC)
We have one of those maidens as well; unfortunately our back yard is lorded over by a black walnut tree that drips walnut shells and stain on anything beneath it during squirrel-feeding season. When we use it, it's relegated to the cellar.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-22 05:59 pm (UTC)
I imagine there are compensations.

Is that the tree in your icon?

Do you eat the walnuts?
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[User Picture]From: clindau
2007-08-23 04:23 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's the tree.

Alas, the squirrels are quicker than we are and grab all the walnuts before we can get any. One of these days a walnut will fall from the tree and hit me on the head. Our outdoor grill has a couple of nice dents in it from last year's walnuts' falling. One even bounced off a window ledge and broke a window pane. (!)

This morning, it was very loud in the backyard from the noise of squirrels peeling walnuts up in the trees. It's those bits of husk that rain down and stain things.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2007-08-22 05:25 pm (UTC)
I don´t own a tumble dryer in Spain. They´re actually still quite rare in homes there although they are seen more in the shops nowadays. For over 30 years I´ve always used a clothes line and a folding rack. Of course our climate in Seville is a fairly dry one except in fall and winter and even then we have a lot of sunny days. I have to chuckle at the thought of my mum turning over in her grave when I hang out the clothes. Even though she did the same thing when we were children, the day she finally got a tumble dryer she declared she´d never hang anything out again and said it was one step more in freeing women from the drudgery of house work.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-22 05:55 pm (UTC)
Hanging things out on the line doesn't seem too much like drudgery to me. As household jobs go. I quite enjoy it. And there's something envigorating about a line of washing flapping in the breeze.

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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2007-08-22 08:33 pm (UTC)
I guess we have to take into account that this was in the 1950´s and all the conveniences weren´t in common use or hadn´t been invented. I think it was much harder work keeping a clean house then than it is now.

Personally, I don´t mind hanging out the clothes at all and that´s why I chuckle when I remember my mother´s attitude.
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[User Picture]From: richenda
2007-08-23 05:38 pm (UTC)
I forgot to say that I've never owned a tumble dryer, so I've no idea how much things need ironing if you use one. And aren't they hard on the clothes? I've a vague idea that you have to clean fluff out of them, which suggests a good deal of "wear and tear" on the fabric.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-08-23 06:09 pm (UTC)
I've had clothers destroyed by a tumble drier- but not the one we've got at the moment.

Yes, you have to clean the lint trap after every session and it can be a little alarming to see how much fluff the clothes have shed.
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