Sunday, February 1, 2009

But I Still Don't Do Ironing

One of the first things I remember noticing when we moved to Oz is that nearly everyone hangs their laundry out to dry on clotheslines. I'm embarrassed now to say that this was very strange to me. Where I grew up, and every other place I've lived, you used a dryer unless you just didn't have one. (But everyone I knew did.) Most Aussies own a dryer, but it is almost never used, unless weather prevents hanging clothes out.

I've had several discussions with friends here about this, and the general consensus is that hanging clothes out is just, well. better. The clothes feel better, they say, it's better for the environment, it's cheaper. "Say what?", I basically replied (but with much more cultural sensitivity). Something that requires more work is better? Why, this American girl is not accustomed to such reasonings of the brain! So we bought ourselves a dryer, yes we did, and commenced using it with pride.

Well, recently, we have begun using our clothesline more and more. It started out so innocently--hanging swimsuits and towels to dry after getting out of the pool. Doesn't it always start innocently? A little here, a little there, then they've got you. Wait--I'm talking about laundry. Okay. Then we progressed to towels and sheets; our dryer takes ages to do these. And now...well, now I find myself hanging stuff out on hot days. And...I like doing it.

Now, easy there, Trigger. I'm still using my dryer. It's my God-given right! However, the other day as I was hanging some things out on a particularly hot day, it was downright pleasant. The damp clothes were cool against my cheeks as I brushed past them, the breeze made them sway on the line. And right there I kid you not, I felt downright virtuous. A golden sense of my own goodness just shot right through my soul. Like, What a wife and mother I am! Taking care of my family and infusing their clothes with sunshine!

Then I realized I was being totally stupid. On our block, behind every other house and on the next street and the next, are clotheslines with clothes hung out on them. Who am I kidding? What--I'm VIRTUOUS for doing what freakin' everyone else does? Sha! I guess it's just that part of me want to be a bit of this:

I KNOW. But at least I admit it! Of course, being a little that may conflict with my desire to be a little this:

And a rockin', female, preaching hybrid of this and this:

Okay, now, that last bit is a little weird. But don't you ever grapple with wanting to be several aspects of different things? Ah, modern womanhood, I suppose.(But I know you dudes do it, too!)

Regardless, you can see why I need to keep my dryer, depending on the day. I doubt Aretha would hang out her lacy unmentionables!


  1. You've inspired me, my friend! The feel of the damp clothes upon my cheek...I think I'm gonna send my husband to Walmart to get us hundreds of feet of clothesline! :) (notice the "I think"..I'm being a little noncommital here..)

  2. Okay, so now you're a perfect mixture of a virtuous housewife, Aretha, C.S. Lewis, and Mark Twain? I can see it.

    But I'm not sold on the idea of hanging the clothes out. I mean, it sure as heck sounds more ecologically responsible. And cheaper. But the taking wet clothes out to the yard and hanging them up? Hmmm. I'm not that virtuous yet.

    Also, and interesting for folks who live in an HOA-controlled neighborhood like mine, I remember reading that in a lot of towns, there's a problem because many HOA's prohibit clotheslines. I guess 'cause they think they look disheveled. But people are raising a ruckus about it, so maybe this will become more common in my neck of the woods.

  3. Uh-Oh. Girl, you're becoming almost completely domesticated. Pretty soon you'll want to start making your own baby wipes out of paper towels and sewing your own jumpers. Here's the link to babyGap. I hope you can access that from the other side of the world. It's for your own good and the good of the precious little life inside of you.

    If not, I might have to send you something with your Christmas card that I STILL HAVEN'T MAILED!!!!

  4. I miss your writing, this is awesome!

    I hang about 70% of my clothes for two reasons:
    1) Color lasts infinitely longer (esp w/cotton)
    2) It doesn't shrink

    However, one trick my very virtuous mother taught me was to stick the items in the dryer for roughly 5 mins to remove the wrinkles "and then" hang dry. It's the best of both worlds.

  5. This was a great encouragement to me. I bought the clothesline and the supplies last Summer. Ya. And that was the end of the story.

    Maybe this year is the year!

    Plus, on your whites, the sun is like a bleach booster, right?

  6. I enjoyed reading your description of how pleasant hanging the laundry can be. I remember how the sun-dried sheets smelled when I took them down. Hanging the laundry was one of my childhood chores. Less pleasant was running outside to quickly gather them when it started to rain. In the days before dryers, we draped the wet clothes over the furniture. Good on ya', Amy !

  7. You know, now that I think about it, I already DO hang a lot to dry--anything I don't want to shring or fade. A lot of knits really. I just do it in my house. So maybe this wouldn't be that big a leap.

    You're challenging me to up my game, Ame!

  8. Thanks, guys! I'm also finding that, at least now in summer, things are drying way faster outside than in the dryer. And frankly, in a house without A/C, I'm reluctant to turn on any heat-producing machine. (Including the oven, which decreases my virtuous-housewife quotient, I suppose!)

    Jody, don't fret--I don't think I'll get to the DIY baby wipes stage! Life is just too short. :) And don't get me started on how I miss baby Gap! That's another post.

    Sara, go for it! But start small, that's what I'm doing.