Wednesday, January 25, 2006


The other night I defiantly sat down to watch TV among the boxes. Todd passed through the living room and said, "Why aren't you working?" By that time, I'd flipped to the very beginning of American Experience on PBS, and I watched as I unpacked a few token boxes, just to pacify the man.

Well. This particular episode was about John and Abigail Adams, beautifully played by Simon Russell Beale (Charles Musgrove in one of my favorite movies, Persuasion) and Linda Emond. The characters only spoke words directly from the letters the Adamses wrote to each other during their long marriage, and they came to life so vividly. David McCullough narrated the show...I imagine much of it was drawn from his book on Adams.

That Abigail. What a woman. What a thinker! "We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." I'd like to have this engraved on a rock and toss it through the Oval Office window. Oops, hope some NSA guy isn't reading this.

"These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or in the repose of a pacific station, that great challenges are formed. . . . Great necessities call out great virtues."
This quote is a challenge to me. I love the still calm of life, I crave it. Do I really need great virtues? Can't I just be middling good?

And of course,
"Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could." Take that, husband who wants me to unpack boxes.

The stuff about John was good, but it was Abigail who really shone out of that story. Raising kids, running a farm, and keeping an ear to the ground along the way for war news and political news to pass along to her husband, and finding the time to throw her own cogent opinions and thoughts into those long letters...she needs to be in the pantheon of patriots right up there with Jefferson and Washington. Her picture should be on classroom walls for all us American girls to look up to and aspire to, because she was an American girl to the bone: strong, savvy, saucy and smart.

My laundry woes.

Life in a new house is always a series of adjustments, but the worst adjustments of all are the unexpected ones.

This house came with a washer and dryer, hooked up in the garage. We knew from the first day we considered the house that this would have to change, because Todd needs lots and lots of garage real-estate for his tools...and because I don't want to do laundry next to a table saw covered an inch deep in sawdust and grease. Also, the garage smells like a dog's toilet, which I think isn't too far from the truth. Not pleasant.

The house has a downstairs storage closet located on the same wall as the washer/dryer hook-ups, just on the other side of the wall from the garage. So we planned to expand the closet so it could accomodate a stackable washer and dryer, and thus spare us both from a garage/laundry conflict.

Last week, Todd hooked up our new stackables, in the garage for now, until he and his dad can do the closet re-model, hopefully next month. I had six loads of laundry waiting...more than usual, because things got backed up during the last frantic days of moving. I hauled the first load down to the garage, and holding my breath against the dog pee smell, programmed the washer.

As I pushed the buttons, I noticed that the green number in the LCD window said 55. I honestly, fleetingly, thought for a moment that this was the washer's speed limit. (I may have hummed a snatch of "I Can't Drive 55.") Then it dawned on me, to my horror, that this was the load time. From the first push of the button to the last revolution of the tub...fifty-five minutes.

Worse news followed when I crammed that first load into the dryer and again, programmed it. The LCD window read 1:36. As in one hour and thirty-six minutes to dry the load that I'd been waiting for an hour to finish washing.

This saga began at 4:15. By the time I went to bed at 10:30, I had completed and folded three loads of laundry. A fourth was still drying, a fifth sat in the washer waiting for the dryer, and a sixth was still dirty in the basket.

I've never really minded doing laundry. As household chores go, it's way above cleaning's really probably the only chore I don't hate. Until now. I've always been a get-it-done-at-once laundrywoman, which is possible since there's only two of us dirtying clothes in this family. I take an afternoon and do three or four loads while I'm scrapbooking or reading or putzing around the house. In our condo, the laundry room was steps away from the bedroom, which made laundry day a total breeze.

On Friday night, I sensed that this era was coming to an end, and that laundry may shoot to the top of my hated household chores list. I understood, when we looked at the stackables, that the loads would have to be smaller and probably more frequent, simply because the tubs were smaller. But I never dreamed the time limit would be so much longer. The only way to cope with this 155-minute-per-load problem is to do a load a day...maybe throw it in the washer as I leave for work, throw it in the dryer when I come home from work, and fold it and put it away before bed. I can't tell you how much this depresses me. I used to think about laundry exactly once every 5-to-8 days, freeing my mind for infinitely more important matters. Now I have to think about it every day. Goodbye, Nobel Prize, I guess.