Splashing in the water on a 90-degree day. It conjures up delightful images of diving into waves from sun-kissed beaches, wading in rippling little streams, or running through sprinklers in the back yard.
Fill that water with half-laundered clothes, however, and suddenly the enjoyment factor goes down faster than the water drains out of a washing machine. Well, as fast as the water would drain out if the washer were actually working. Which, in the middle of the wash cycle for a large load, on the day before my partner was leaving on a six-week overseas trip, our washer stopped doing.
First I did the obvious things like checking the circuit breaker, trying to restart the machine, and plugging it into a different outlet. No luck. Then I thumped the washer a few times, hoping to resuscitate it with what a handyman member of the family calls "percussive maintenance." Nada.
The next step was to haul the sopping items out, dump them into a bucket, and lug them over to the big sink in the utility room. In the process, I learned an effective method to fish for floating socks at the bottom of a washer full of cold, scummy water. If you swish your arm around the tub a few times to start the water swirling in one direction, then move your hand against the current for a couple of cycles, you can grab those last few elusive socks as they swim by.
I filled the utility sink with water and rinsed the clothes by hand, twice. Looking on the bright side, I did discover that our big bath towels were every bit as absorbent as they were supposed to be. Judging from how much they weighed, they held a lot of water. Wringing them out by hand was probably wonderful for the triceps and shoulders, but by the end of the second rinse I wasn't fully appreciating the fitness benefits.
Once the clothes were finally in the dryer, it was time to deal with the water in the washer. For anyone who cares to know, a Kenmore Model 110 heavy duty washer, extra large capacity plus, holds approximately 15 gallons of water. This estimate is based on the number of scoops it took to bail the water into a bucket with a one-quart yogurt container. Unfortunately, anything bigger didn't fit between the agitator and the side of the tub.
Finally, it was time to sit down and rest, with chocolate in one hand, the phone in the other, and the yellow pages open to "appliance repairs." Of course, someone would be glad to come look at the washer. The earliest available appointment? Certainly. That would be 10 days from now.
On the wall of our laundry room hangs an old, well-used washboard. It's a reminder of just how much hard work laundry used to be and gives me a sense of appreciation for my grandmothers and great-grandmothers. I'll probably think of it, and them, a lot next week.
While I'm sitting at the Dew Drop Laundromat with my e-reader.