I don’t know if everyone learned this song as a child, but my mother and grandmother certainly taught it to me and used it as a tactic to get me to do things I otherwise wouldn’t have done:
This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth …
This is the way we comb our hair, comb our hair, comb our hair …”
Do you remember that?
My Grandma S. was certainly no dummy, and soon we were singing, “This is the way we sweep the floor, sweep the floor, sweep the floor . . . ” along with many other tunes reminiscent of child labor. It’s amazing how a catchy little diddy can make cleaning the toilet fun somehow, and the power of a melody was not lost on my mother, who liked for us to dust the baseboards and the legs of all the furniture as part of our weekly chores.
I find myself as an adult, with a daughter of my own, frequently using the first words of that childhood song, not to trick her into housework, but just to explain. “This is the way we heat our house,” for example, or “This is the way we compost.” Before she started school and going to birthday parties and sleep-overs, I never had to explain a thing to her. What did she know about the way “normal” people lived? Very little!
But now . . . well, let’s just say she has been exposed to many, many people more “normal” than I am, and, understandably, she has a few questions. This past weekend, she invited a friend over to spend the night. A couple hours before her friend was expected to arrive, she noticed that I was still doing laundry, and wondered would all the clothes be dry and put away soon? Her potential embarrassment surprised me. We always have clothes all over our house on the weekend because I stopped using a clothes dryer many years ago, sometime after I stopped using a hair dryer, but before the day I decided to never iron anything ever again.
I begin the laundry on Friday night, and those first two loads are typically my work clothes and delicates. After removal from the machine, I give them a good shake or two, then hang them up to dry. Even in the summer time, they dry in the house. After all, who’s hanging clothes on the line on Friday night? Not me. Then, during the day on Saturday, I eventually wash everything else. Late April to early September, these clothes go on the line. But the rest of the year, they, too, are hanging up in the house. Come visit on a Saturday during February, and you’ll be hard pressed to find me.
1. The clothes do not wrinkle (usually).
2. Nor do they shrink.
3. I estimate that I save around $20 a month on our power bill.
4. Clothes go straight from the drying rack or the line into the closet. No piles of clothes just waiting to be folded — yay!
5. In the summer, we are not adding extra heat to our house by using a clothes dryer.
6. In the winter, the moisture from the drying clothes acts as a humidifier, releasing needed moisture into the air.
7. Hanging clothes up to dry on a line or a folding rack is one of the most peaceful, relaxing things a busy woman can do. I am not trying to solve the economic crisis or bring world peace, I’m just smoothing and clipping clothes.
We heat our home with a hot water stove (more on that in a later blog), so I put my drying racks right over the heat registers in the floor where they get some really good, really warm heat. They usually dry in around three hours, except for my husband’s work pants, which seem to take forever (but, really, just overnight). With two drying racks, I can dry two loads at a time.
I bought my drying racks at The Container Store, and I absolutely love them! Although they seem to always be out, they do have the potential to fold up, and, when folded, slip easily into the pantry. Because they are made out of some type of light-weight metal and not wood, they do not mildew (as I experienced with my previous wooden drying rack).
I also use two metal brackets, one on each side of the entry to the kitchen, to air-dry longer garments, like my husband’s 2XL-tall shirts and my tunics and dresses. I can’t dry all our clothes in one day — if I don’t start on Friday night, there’s no way I can air dry all 7 to 9 weekly loads on Saturday — of course, I could get some more drying racks, but then we wouldn’t be able to walk through our house! Still, I don’t think most people want to do seven to nine loads of laundry in one day; I certainly don’t want to. I like spacing it out. It seems to make it even more relaxing, sort of like a stroll instead of a jog.
So, this is the way we dry our clothes . . .
My daughter’s friend came over, and, yes, she eyed the bras and the pants and the shirts and the sweaters and the socks . . . but only momentarily. Then, they were off and playing! Perhaps she came to the conclusion that we are not a “normal” family, but, if so, it was probably because of things much more significant than our laundry. Or maybe not. Maybe it was because of my husband’s Kenny Chesney imitation . . . I can never be sure about those things!
Copyright 2014 Lori Creed