Laundry Dreams

Five or six summers ago we had a malfunction of our stove that fried both the oven and all the burners. Some of you may recall my blog posts during that memorable summer in which I cooked for a cast of thousands with an electric fry pan and a toaster oven. The Sears man returned time and time again to find the wrong part had been sent for the repair. Two months into our summer of toaster oven fun, we considered buying a new stove to solve the problem. By the time the stove was finally fixed, I could cook anything with those appliances and I mean anything! Braised side of Buffalo? No problem! Celebratory cake for twenty five hungry folk? Literally a piece of cake!

Well, the Sears man is back in our lives in a big way. This times it’s our dryer. It is on the fritz and of course this meltdown happened in the summer when the farm census is seriously inflated. This means a small army’s laundry moves through our washer and dryer each week- not to mention the laundry from the business. And now, every one of these loads pays a trip to our clothesline instead of the dryer.

Does everyone have our kind of magic touch with appliances? Or perhaps a more important question is, “If a Green Hope Farm appliance is alone in the forest when it breaks in a freak accident, does it make a sound?”

With the dryer, it initially seemed like a simple problem. But then it always does, doesn’t it? How hard could it be to fix a broken start button, I wondered. Well so far this broken button has involved three visits from Sears with no repair on the horizon. And predictably each of these visits has been a week apart as we “wait for a technician to be in our area”.

During the first visit, repairs were made with an almost immediate breakdown of some new aspect of the start button. The new breakdown occurred as the Sears man departed the farm in a cloud of dust.

A week later there was a second visit to diagnose the new problem which proved to be a still broken start button.

Another week passed before the third visit. This visit was supposed to be about replacing the broken start button with a new one. However the box sent by Sears directly to us did not contain the new part. The Sears man was not pleased when he opened the box and discovered this.

Today the missing part arrived……….broken.

Jim just called Sears to reorder the part and reschedule the appointment. He was told he needed to wait until the replacement part arrives again before scheduling the appointment.

Perhaps on the Fourth of July our laundry, in patriotic and not so patriotic colors, will STILL be waving in the wind on our clothes line versus whirling away in our dryer. Frankly with our track record, this is practically a sure thing.


Fortunately my relationship with clotheslines is good. I learned my clothesline skills from the best. My first serious summer job was as a chambermaid/waitress at an Inn on an Adirondack Lake. The Inn was six miles from the nearest road or electric socket. Needless to say, the wind not an electric dryer was used to dry each day’s sheets. My boss, whose name literally was Mrs. Boss, taught me how to properly hang every item of clothing known to man. Sheets were our main preoccupation but I must say, I am glad I learned how to hang everything else as well. I loved my time hanging laundry. It was much better than cleaning fish scales off the bathroom walls which was another common activity I was expected to master.

Goodness knows why but a lot of people visiting this Inn seemed to think the bathtub was the place to clean their fish whereas I had been raised to clean any dead fish ON THE DOCK. Go figure.

After my stint mastering the hanging of the dread fitted sheet to crisp perfection, I had a number of years where clotheslines did not figure much in my life. Yes, I hung laundry during family camping adventures and also during trips to Ireland but never quite to the volume of the bustling Inn. Nonetheless, I was always pestering Jim to build me a clothesline here at the farm so I could relive my fond memories of time at the clothesline. Among other things, I dreamed of hanging our sheets so they would have that marvelous fresh air fragrance.

Sometimes dreams really do come true… spades.

But before this magic summer of laundry AND MORE LAUNDRY on the line, I had to convince Jim to build me the clothesline I would need to fulfill my laundry dreams.

I whined for a good ten years about Jim building me a clothesline and he resisted. St Jim had built me so many buildings, I didn’t get his resistance to this relatively small project. I began to feel there were deep psychological reasons why he avoided this task. It became a bit of a bone of contention between us. I practically had to impale myself with a broken clothespin to get him to make my clothesline dream come true.

Of course, I could have tried to build a clothesline for myself. Instead I wasted years rigging moldy, sagging rope from one tree to another in a desperate bid to show him exactly how badly I needed a NICE clothesline. Finally Jim built me a splendid one- a deluxe model cemented into the earth with many, many rows of lovely line. I was grateful. Months later he pointed out I never used the darn thing for anything but wet bathing suits. He was right.

But now, this clothesline has come into its own, and I have fulfilled my laundry dreams.

I am down at the clothesline night and day hanging load after load or taking down load after load. Grace has new conversational gambits like, “Is this towel dry yet?” There is so much stiff and fragrant well dried laundry in this house that we could rename the place Green Hope Laundry Services! All my laundry hanging tricks have come back to me. And I have learned some new ones.


After this month, I am SOOOOO obsessed with my life of laundry that I bore people with impassioned commentary about the demise of the well built clothespin. I ignore yawns of disbelieving boredom, “Is this woman really talking about clothespins?”


Today was a good day. I stumbled on someone who listened to my clothespin lament and gave me great clothespin wisdom.

Former goddess Thembi Muhlauri came by today for a visit. When I started into my clothespin complaints, she listened. SHE CARED. She believes in the magic of sheets hung on the line too and not just when a dryer is broken. She told me I needed to boil my new clothespins in salt water to keep them from falling apart so easily. Leave it to a sassy woman from Harare, Zimbabwe to solve my clothespin woes! Salted water was on the boil before she even left for her new life as a student taking frightening courses like Statistics.

Bless you Thembi. Your clothespin insight MADE MY DAY.

As Grace and I play hide and seek in the clothes each day, I dream that I will keep on hanging laundry even when the Sears man fixes my dryer on the fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh trip here. I am sure Jim’s certain that dryer will be busy the moment it can be.

But a woman’s gotta dream, and I still hope my life ahead will see me drying my laundry in the clean air of our beautiful farm world. As far as the rest of the laundry I am hanging right now? The verdict is out on whether I will pony up to the clothesline to dry everyone else’s stuff on the line……What I am really looking for is some RESPECT about laundry and maybe some bribes. A well boiled clothespin might do it.


A Message to May

Oh May! You are gone!

You are the most exciting houseguest ever- so glamorous, so full of tales of wonder, so dramatic and yes, so exhausting.

I bid you adieu with a bit of sadness but also a sore back.

You always need things to be just so in the gardens while you are here. So much planting to be done and weeding and pruning and mulching, because of course, you look your best when everything is tidy.

This year you made things extra “special” because you brought no rain. Every spare moment night and day, I watered the plants that could not survive this sort of treatment. I watered for you May, and sometimes I wondered if you noticed. Many other beloveds didn’t look their best for you because of the scorching dry heat and who can blame them? They are spring Flowers in northern New England. They don’t expect the Mojave Desert. Next year, don’t be so stingy with the precipitation. Remember your geography and your manners.

And perhaps you can talk to the winter months of December, January, February, March even April and tell them to lighten up a bit. Your stay would have been easier if I hadn’t had to clear out so many beloved dead Roses killed by those long, long, long, bitter cold, winter months.

Yes, I do need to thank you for departing with a deluge. We needed every drop of that rain. It saved your month from total disaster and also saved you from being tossed out on your heels in your party dress.

Maybe the many enormous sections of completely burnt brown lawn will come back in time for your next visit. Maybe not.

Try to do better next year. You know you need a nice green lawn to look your best so time you visit, bring more showers and spread them out.

Okay, is everything clear to you?

Just to recap.

We thank you for dressing up the gardens with gems like this


and moments like these.



They were sublime even if I saw them while running from one place to another with hoses and pruning shears.

I haven’t discussed the winds yet, but I need to. It is my fault that I picked a horrible ecological, non-petrochemical organic black mulch for the Red Shiso field that blew away in your constant, drying winds. I will pick a different mulch next year, but could you lighten up on the Sahara like dust storms?


I just took this shot of the post deluge Red Shiso garden for you May. I know it is not pretty but at least it is alive. Hopefully it is the last time I will be showing you shots of this horrible stuff. But again, look May, at how parched the soil was most of the month.


Lets not do this again. Next time, remember, more R-A-I-N! Thanks.


I don’t know if you care, May, but your final days of rain helped to germinate the Red Shiso seeds upon which our Flower Essences depend. Thanks for that final helping hand before you flounced away with your gorgeous gorgeous petticoats.