Monday, December 06, 2010

Where's a mangle* when I need it?

Our washing machine broke on Friday.  We have 11 people in our family and I was already a bit behind on laundry.  Did I mention our washing machine broke?  On Friday late afternoon, right before I had to leave with A. for her show?  This is not good.

I already had a love/hate relationship with my front loader and now I'm afraid that there is significantly less of the 'love' part of that equation.  First, the gasket which keeps water out from between the drum and door cracked.  I had noticed this a couple of weeks ago, but when we carefully checked, it didn't seem to be leaking.  Well, that was a couple of weeks ago and now it is leaking.  Onto the hand wash clothing I was keeping in the bin underneath.  Those clothes are now drying and I hope to be able to salvage them.  That would be annoying enough, but would be something J. could buy the replacement part for and fix.  But yesterday, not only did we discover the leak, but it seems there is something wrong with the motor and the drum doesn't turn when it is set to wash.  In a front loader, if the drum doesn't turn, it doesn't do much of anything except get the clothes wet.  Bleh.

Happily, the dryer still works, though it occasionally eats clothing.  So to get us through this marginal crisis without me sitting for hours at a laundromat, I have set-up a washing machine in the bathtub.  I turn on the water, add some soap, soak the clothes, agitate them for a while, soak a little longer, then rinse and wring and cart them down to the dryer in the basement.  It looks so nice and easy written out like that, doesn't it?  Well, everything works pretty well until we get to the 'wring' part.  (The agitation part I solved by convincing children it would be fun to walk around the bathtub full of clothes with their bare feet.  I'm sure the glamour of this job will wear off quickly.)  But back to the wringing.  I now know why mangles were invented.  I can even picture the one my grandmother had in her laundry room and I want it.  It is killer on the hands to wring out a lot of wet clothes.  And having done a couple of towels, they can just wait until the washing machine is fixed.  Wet clothes also weigh a lot.  So much, that the rather large load I did was too heavy for me to lift in the plastic bag-lined laundry basket in order to carry it to the basement.  J. was barely able to stagger down with it for me.

Then we come to the "dry in dryer" part.  Anyone see what's coming?  Evidently not I.  Dryers were made to dry clothes after they've been spun dry in the washer.  Not when they've been tentatively wrung out by hand.  When J. went down to check on things for me while I was out running an errand, there was the distinct order of about-to-burn-out-motor.  Blessedly, the dryer motor didn't burn out, but J. had to remove the wet clothes, place them in the washer, which for some unfathomable reason will still drain and spin clothes, and mop up the standing water in the bottom of the dryer.  That load of clothes did eventually finally make it into people's baskets and I went ahead and another, smaller, load as well.

The whole thing makes me incredibly grateful for the appliances in my home which I take for granted.  Appliances which considerable lighten my work load.  While I may complain about the amount of time I spend doing laundry, it is nothing compared to what I would spend if I were doing it all by hand.  We call the repairman first thing this morning.  I hope I am just getting a washing machine repair for Christmas and not an entirely new machine.

*In talking with my father, I was informed that I have my terms wrong.  So that you can be educated along with me, I will tell you what the correct term is.  What I want was a wringer, for wringing out clothes.  A mangle was something used for ironing large items such as sheets, tablecloths, etc.  It, too, though sounds like a pretty handy device, which it turns out, my other grandmother owned.

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