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The old-fashioned way

Pompwasmachine / Washing-machine with a pump
Image by Nationaal Archief via Flickr

For the first time in years, I washed a few clothes by hand in the utility sink today. The last time I did this, it was with some dark, delicate fabric I’ve since sworn off wearing, about a decade ago. It simply has never been worth my time to wash anything by hand since. So, I’d forgotten what a pain it is!

The only reason I did this is because our washer’s been broken for two weeks or so, and Sam & Bean really needed clean pants to wear. So I figured I could handle washing a few things in the sink. No big deal. I’m a strong, modern woman who can do it all, right? Ha! Turns out that is WAY harder than it looks. My arms hurt, man!

I know, what a whiner. After all, a couple of generations ago, I wouldn’t have had a choice about it, cause I wouldn’t have had a washing machine. Or, I could be my sister-in-law-to-be, whose washer has apparently been cursed, since she’s had parts orders and repairs screwed up for a month now, and has been washing by hand all this time. Yikes.

It just makes me ever more certain that I’m glad for the times we live in, and I really don’t think that homesteading or survivalism are the paths for me. (Hopefully, those guys are wrong about a coming societal collapse, cause I do not intend to be doing any more washing by hand.) I was briefly interested in both, as I was drawn to the back-to-basics, self-reliant approaches to life in our increasingly complex and interdependent world. But who am I kidding? I am not about to shoot anything more threatening than a clay pigeon, and I can’t think of a worse Hell than doing all the household chores by hand.

I am thoroughly a product of my times, in that all my skills lie in abstract things you can’t barter for or make use of. I can write carefully crafted ideas, post to a blog, workshop documents in a dozen programs, design pretty layouts on my computer… In fact, most of my skills are computer-based. I’m thankful I can make money with them to the extent that I do, but sometimes I have to take a step back and wonder: how on earth would I make it in a non-technological world?

I guess I’m grateful that I don’t have to, and thankful for all the things I take for granted, like a washer, dishwasher and dryer. (I would say stove, but I don’t use that :-P) And man, will I be glad when my new washer arrives tomorrow.

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  1. Carla
    March 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    My grandma Dorsey had a washer which sat out in the yard. She boiled water and hand carried it out to the washer. Then, to make it agitate, someone had to crank a lever back and forth. Wringing out the water involved to rollers and another hand crank. I also am glad that I wasn’t a pioneer woman.

  2. Kim
    March 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Oh my gosh. See, way too much work! Although, you have to guess that it was the pinnacle of clothes washing technology at the time. “Saves hands from hot water! Wrings out completely dry!”… 😛

  3. Deb
    March 28, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    For most of my childhood my mom used a wringer washer. Being the child, not the ranking adult, I thought sending heavy, dripping clothes through the two rollers was cool. I don’t remember my mom enjoying laundry day a whole lot…

  4. Kim
    March 29, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Lol Deb, I bet she didn’t. That sounds like zero fun. Of course, as a kid you never understand the adult perspective on what seems like a blast to you! Too bad we can’t retain a little of that. I remember ask a young kid I used to love sorting out the cupboards and organizing the pantry. Now I avoid it like crazy!

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