liam says… It was laundry day at Knockahopple Cottage. Not the way I usually do it. You know, sort the lights from the darks… load the machine… put in the soap… push a couple of buttons… get a cuppa of something… go back in half-hour… complain how much work there is in doing laundry… put all the clothes into the dryer…. unload… fold… and put away. No…not this week at Knockahopple Cottage.
Tom the caretakerman was busy varnishing the pine ceilings and walls in the bedrooms, so it would have been in poor taste for me to drive into Nenagh to the Silverclean Laundry while he worked away. Instead, I decided to work around the house. It didn’t take long for the fumes to start killing me. I don’t know what it is, but the smell of varnish gives me the worst heartburn of my life. Yes, heartburn… like I have eaten twenty pounds of the hottest Tandoori food and washed it down with a couple of sausage pizzas (If anyone knows why that is please let me know).
Looking at my pile of dirty laundry and the bright blue sky outside, I told Tom, I was going outside to wash my clothes in a bucket.
“Work away,” Tom said.
Of course I didn’t have hand-washing detergent, but a spot of shampoo would suffice. My clothes aren’t all that dirty, just in a need for a bit of a swish in the water and a hang up. But still, I had two bags full.
I headed around the side of the cottage and turned on the spigot. As the bucket filled with water from the hose, I added a couple of squirts of shampoo. Then the work began… into the water… out of the water… into the water… out of the water. I became a human agitator.
At the start, it was an enjoyable task. Those first three pairs of socks were a sheer pleasure. I remained quite ambitious through the socks and the underwear… even through the shirts. After two hours of Pioneer Laundry Day, I still had five pairs of blue jeans to finish. The novelty had worn off somewhere after the first shirt.
Jeans are always a bitch to wash by hand. To make matters worse, they were the dirtiest of all the laundry. Looking at the various stains I was reminded of my adventures digging in the yard, crawling on my knees to paint, climbing on top of the shed to replace the tarpaper.
Into the water… out of the water… into the water… out of the water. By this time I cursed every plunge into the bucket.
Of course it was midway through the first pair of jeans when I discovered the difference between shampoo and hand-wash laundry soap… shampoo doesn’t rinse out quite as easily.
So had to double up on the rinsing. Into the water… out of the water… into the water… out of the water. I tried to whistle the Irish Washerwoman song, but I was too short of breath by that point
Once the task was done, it dawned on me that with all the earth-moving done on the yard, I no longer had a clothesline. Time to make do… over the gate… on top of the bushes… on the fence… anyplace I could find to hang the clothes and hurry along the drying process. Thank goodness it was a sunny day.
I remember as a child my grandmother talking about Tuesday being laundry day. I now realize why a whole day was put aside for this job. I was only washing for one… she was washing for herself, my grandfather and SIX girls. I’m surprised it wasn’t washing WEEK. Thank God for Maytag!
My pioneer washing days are done. I’ll be diligently saving my money so by next year, I can buy a large capacity washing machine. Now, if I could only find one that would cook breakfast…