The Great Washing Machine Adventure

Golden Beach, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

You’ll never guess what I’m doing right now, I mean, as opposed to sitting at the keyboard writing to you.

I’m washing a load of towels. In the washing machine.

Those of you who don’t know me, or those of you who know me but don’t pay attention to me (like my progeny, sort of) won’t remember my tale of bringing the new washing machine home in the back of my compact car (Don’t Say Can’t), but I did, and the Norwegian Artist unloaded it, and he and the Son and Heir hauled out the old one, cleaned up the cobwebs, and installed my white box in shining armor while I sat in the hammock and read through the user’s guide.

Honestly, if I knew it would be so easy to replace the thing, I would have done it years ago.

As it is, the Old One and I limped along for years, and in my caretaking position I stood in front of the open lid, applying gentle pressure to the agitator so that it would work, because otherwise it weakly trembled and sighed and burped. It was only the first ten minutes or so, but it was for every load, and every load was half size.

“Are you nuts?”

Most people, other than my progeny, were too polite to voice this sentiment aloud, but eyes and eyebrows express a lot more than you think. The Norwegian Artist, knowing that as long we both shall live he wants a claim on his quarter of the bed, was more circumspect:

“We could get a new washer, you know.”

Marie, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson. Private Collection.

Yes, I know. But our generation is the product of Depression era parents, and in this generation we are working through a Recession era angst. So you use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

The Norwegian Artist understands this, which is why he has spent the whole season mowing the lawn with a modified weed cutter, but it always bothered him when he popped over to the house for a mug of tea and found me in the nether regions, crouching over the washing machine.

“We could get a new washer, you know.”

The longer the Old One and I limped along, however, the more of a challenge it became: just how long can we keep doing this?

And the time spent with the agitator, watching it go back . . . and forth . . . and back . . . and forth . . . and —

Oh, sorry. It was mesmerizing, the sound and the movement, and I used the time to think about things, or work out a difficult piece in an article, or just blank out and watch a red sock bob around from place to place. Sort of connecting with my right brain and giving the left side, which spends far too much time analyzing and worrying, a break.

Tropical Medley, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

But speaking of break, eventually it did, but not, ironically, the washer. Just my resolve.

One Sunday reading the ads I spotted a basic, prosaic, boring box of a washer on sale for a price I couldn’t resist, and the next day found me in the store, making the sales representative’s most easy sale of the year:

“I need a washer. This one looks good. I’ll take it. Can you fit it in my car?”

In what seemed like no time to me, the new purchase was in place, and I followed the instructions step by step (yes, I realize that loading and running a washing machine seems like a straightforward affair, but have you ever watched freshmen college students in the laundromat?).

In 22 years, technology had changed a bit, and everything was done in reverse order, but I mastered the process. The first load was on — and not only did it come out pristinely clean, it was twice the size of my former loads, which were really half the size of normal, meaning that now, in more ways than one, I was back to normal.

One by one I pulled out the damp, happy garments and marveled at the ease of the whole process.

And then I tossed the clothes in the basket, marched them outside, and hung them up on the line.

Isn’t progress wonderful?

Garden Gatherings, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
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4 Responses to The Great Washing Machine Adventure

  1. Jana says:

    YEA! Doing without certainly increases one’s gratitude. I really understand your position – our washer was glued together with an epoxy by an extraordinary repairman well over a year ago. I am so thankful for every load it cleans, and then I hang it on the line because the dryer is making an ominous thumping noise, so I am thankful for every load it dries! I love love love your writing, Carolyn!

  2. Jana: It’s interesting, the relationship we develop with inanimate things. I try not to go so far as to converse with them, although statements of irritation in their general direction are valid.

    Thank you for your gracious encouragement — I love readers like you!

  3. Kate says:

    My dishwasher – I start the cycle, set the microwave timer for 90 minutes, then rinse the dishes AFTER the cycle is over to wash off the grit that will harden into concrete-like glue if not removed while still hot and wet from the machine. (And yes, I have tried rinsing first, cleaning the dishwasher, etc. – this is the only thing that works.)

    My husband has also suggested a new dishwasher, but I am awaiting the unbelievable deal.

  4. I hear you. I did that with the washer — looking at the ads every week and thinking, “Hmm. This looks good. But I’m sure it could be better.”

    And then, for awhile, the prices went up. For some reason, for the Fourth of July, the prices were incredible — I don’t know, something about freeing us from the tyranny of mundane, household chores? — and I took the plunge.

    I hope the microwave timer doesn’t go out!

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