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Monday, 30 April 2012

On the Doctrine of Laundry

One thing I cannot do in Europe is hang out clothes. I have helped my sisters in Christ hang out clothes in England, Ireland, France and London, which is not exactly England, and there are at least six ways of hanging out the same towels, shirts, sheets, and so on.

I do not offer anymore, and I decline, as the dear ones take everything down which I have hung up and start over, with many directions as to wind speed, direction of the wind, hours of sunlight, various levels of mist and even rain, and creasing. I give up. My mother and I hung out clothes together for over fifteen years and I can assure you that the Iowa way is just not done in the above countries. Of course, as it is 98 degree Fahrenheit in the shade most of the summer, the stuff dries in an hour without wind directions or speed taken into consideration.

Nuns doing laundry in the ocean?

The biggest contentions happen over shirts-does one put the pegs on the shoulder or on the bottom hem? Notice the two ways in the photos provided here by scientists studying laundry hanging habits, supported by a grant from PG, Proctor and Gamble, which is looking for "new innovations", a redundancy from the website.

Some of my friends live in neighborhoods where they are not allowed to hang out laundry. We lived in one like that for awhile and bought a phenomenal German washer-dryer, which I could time to go on the laundry cycle and then into the drying cycle while I slept. Cool.

In parts of Scotland, some friends of mine told me that the laundry froze on the line and the trousers were brought in and left by the fire to thaw out.

I do not mind lesson on wind and sunlight, but why do people feel so strongly about such things? I do not have strong opinions on hanging out laundry. If I were in the process and someone offered, I would just say "Great, thanks" and let them get on with it.

The Irish can be divided into two groups of laundry hanger-outers. The first is those who want to save on clothes pegs and want everything connected. The other group wants everything spread out and not touching. The first group places the open shirts to the outside of the line, and the second group places the opening of the shirts to the inside of the line. There are permutations on these themes. In addition, there are those Irish, a third category, like my friend Kathleen, who could care less and are just glad to get it out before the rain starts up again. She is a woman after my own heart.

In England, there are those who put out knickers and other items of underwear and those who do not. The do nots should take a walk in the neighborhoods of Rome to see centuries of underwear hanging techniques--all perfected in a Catholic environment. It is interesting, and be it far from me to criticize someone's sensibilities. In America, in the Midwest, we are not so squeamish, as our men do not notice anything on a line and prefer to ignore female chores in general, especially on Saturday, when hours of football, baseball, basketball, etc. take up all their attention. "Laundry, what laundry? Oh, you mean those six baskets on the steps. Sorry, it is tied in the ninth inning, it is the fourth down, it is the Final Four of the women's Iowa basketball championship, it is a tiebreak and ...."

Living in London, in West Kensington, I had the choice between an airing cupboard, or the dryer. Simple. Sigh. I give up and will just stick to writing, which can be done in as many ways as there are people. I wonder how the nuns in the Vatican hang up laundry. Maybe the Catholic community needs guidelines on washing lines. Does the Pope care if his cassocks are up, or down on the lines in the Vatican?

I have purposefully avoided the topic of hanging out laundry in the winter, another contentious subject.