Wednesday, July 27, 2011


The clothes line.  What image goes through your head with those three little words?  I remember my grandmother having one in her back yard when I was a little girl. It was painted green; I guess to “beautifully” blend in with the grass in the back yard. It looked a bit weathered, paint chipped from the years of use. It stood tall through the torrential Oregon rains and the occasional winter snowfall. Yes, my grandmother used her clothes line for years until the day she got herself a dryer. Well, that was the beginning of the end for “Old Faithful.” It continued to stand in the yard, now ignored and neglected except for the times we, her grand children, would hang and twirl on it like it was an amusement ride, the plastic lines falling off of it one at a time until it was bear. Eventually, after all its years of service, Grandpa removed that old clothes line from the ground and unceremoniously disposed of it. No one seemed to take notice. After all, Grandma now had a dryer!

The only other time I remember seeing a clothes line in my life was the occasional hotel that would have one in the bathroom. You know the kind? You could pull it out from the wall…just one line…that would stretch across the bathtub, perfect for hanging wet swim suits used in the pool. I used to think, “What a wonderful invention. Wish I had one over my bathtub as well.”

Now fast-forward to 2011 and you’re living in Australia, land of sunshine, blue oceans, white sandy beaches and…you guessed it…land of the clothes line! Every house in Australia has at least one! It’s very reminiscent of Europe, seeing clothes hanging out to dry in the very efficient Australian sun and heat.

I was recently Skyping with my mother, (she finally got Skype and this was our first time seeing each other since I moved to Australia), showing her our new house. I “took her” outside my French doors to show her my terraced garden and slate steps leading up to our pool. As I turned to walk back down the steps she caught a glimpse of it… “Is that your laundry?” she asked.

“Yes, Mom” I said with a sigh and an added roll of my eyes, “that’s our laundry.”

“What’s it doing outside? Isn’t it winter there? Won’t it take a while to dry?”

“Yes, Mom…about 2-3 days.”

Even though it’s winter here right now, that doesn’t stop Aussies from hanging their clothes out to dry.  In spite of the cold and rain, we do get our fair share of sunny days in the middle of winter.  I had told her stories of my laundry hanging out to dry, and it’s also been fodder for some recent blog updates, but today was the first time she could actually see it first hand! I guess a picture’s worth a thousand words, right?

I proceeded to apologetically tell her, “Ashley (my husband) put some sheets on the line to dry.” My poor husband. He so desperately wants me to be happy here and believes part of that will come as I assimilate to the Australian way of life, but I begrudgingly dig my heels in…kicking and screaming most of the way! What can I say; I love modern conveniences like the dryer! If God didn’t intend for us to use them, He wouldn’t have allowed us to invent them, right? I know, this is slightly flawed theology, but you get my drift!

Okay, so where was I? Oh yeah…I was Skyping with Mom and showing her our new home when I turned my laptop in the direction of our fireplace (a rarity in these parts!) Mom suddenly stopped me and asked, “What’s that?  Is that clothing hanging by the fireplace?”

Gulp! She discovered something I hadn’t had the guts to share with her before…

“Oh Mom,” I sheepishly replied, “that’s our INDOOR clothes line,” (…a free-standing sculptor of metal that allows you to hang a full load of laundry in a small space.)  It was standing there, in all its glory, in our formal living room, full of laundry! At that moment I was faced with the impenetrable truth before me; I could not lie to her. I blurted out, “They’re really hard-core about hanging their laundry here!” I was hoping for some compassion from my mother. Instead, she busted out laughing with a belly-laugh I hadn’t heard from her in a long time. She just couldn’t get over the Ninja-tactics used to dry laundry in winter when we have a perfectly good dryer in our laundry room!  (Note: pictured here is the indoor clothesline I use in my home. It's obvious I got this off the internet since I'm never smiling when I'm using it.  Looks pitiful, doesn't it?)

I must admit, I do resist Aussie ways and enjoy running my clothing, especially towels and socks in the dryer. But my husband insists it’s too hard on his clothes and fears shrinkage from the heat, so I continue to hang his clothing in the middle of winter. In my desperate search for the quickest way to dry clothes indoors when I don’t have central heat (don’t get me started on this. I’ll save that for a future discussion!) I came up with the perfect solution…dry them hanging in front of the gas fireplace which is one of two heat sources for our house that is about 3,000 square feet!  Oh my…is this what the Pilgrim’s went through, drying clothes by the fire? What time warp am I in? Next I’ll be fishing in the nearby stream for our dinner. Help!!!

Okay…so now not only does my mother know the truth, but you do as well.  Yes, we avoid using our clothes dryer even in the winter. Yes, we hang our clothing in our formal living room to dry.  Yes, I’m a complete failure when it comes to coping with this Fred-Flinstonian way of doing laundry.  But I do love it here.  At least we have enough sunshine and warmth to dry our clothing outside, year-round, in the fresh Australian air. Can’t say that about the weather back home in Oregon!

...I guess I should be thankful it doesn't snow here!

Monday, July 4, 2011


Okay! Will someone please remind me why I don't use my perfectly good clothes dryer?  Yes, it is small…about half the size of my dryer in the States, (which may be an overstatement of it’s actual size.)  It’s so small that three large towels max it out to capacity.  In fact, it’s so small…How small is it you say?  It’s so small, that if it was any smaller, Barbie would be using it to dry Ken’s boxers!  It is because of its size that Australian’s typically hang them on the wall above their washers!  Can you believe it?  A clothes dryer hanging on the wall, gathering dust (because it’s rarely used) like some piece of modern art…like a sculpture designed by Michelangelo himself!

So...I have a question that I'd like to throw out into the cosmic universe... “Why do I continue to hang my clothes out to dry now that we are heading into winter and the weather has decidedly changed to cool, damp and rainy?" Believe it or not, but the change in weather doesn’t stop Aussies from hanging out their clothing to dry. They just watch the weather reports on television a little more closely to determine the best day to do laundry. In fact, the weatherman often will describe a sunny day in winter by saying, “Today would be a great day to put the laundry out.” Can you believe it?  Getting laundry advice from the weatherman!

In the winter, timing is everything!

Today started out a bit chilly and overcast with some drizzles, reminding me a lot of my home in Oregon, but the drizzles had stopped (unlike Oregon) so I decided to hang the laundry out to dry...this is where I went wrong!  What on earth makes me believe that I can dry my wet laundry outside on a day that’s reminiscent of a rainy day at the beach back home? Of course, I didn’t have any good explanation for this so I shrugged my shoulders and dismissed it with the old, “When in Rome do as the Romans do” cliché, in hopes that would improve my attitude about doing something that made no logical sense.  So, instead of throwing my damp clothes into a dryer, I boldly turned my face to the wind, reached into my laundry basket, sunshine on my back, as I squeezed the clothes pins one at a time, to hold each piece of laundry snugly into place until the basket was empty.

Once I had completed my task, I headed back into my warm, dry house and found myself to be a bit prideful for such an accomplishment. Not only did this dryer-using, never-hung-laundry-out-to-dry-American bravely face the elements successfully hanging my load of laundry in true Aussie fashion, but I managed to do so between storm clouds! You see? With a bit of meticulous planning you can take advantage of the sun breaks and hopefully find your clothes dry before the next burst of rain.

At that point, I peered through the window, admiring my laundry hanging beautifully on the line as it soaked up the bright sunshine and fresh air of the day when all of the sudden…oh, oh…something I hadn’t planned on… “Nooooo!” I cried, as I watched a bird land on my freshly washed laundry and before I could run outside to shoo it away…you guessed it…the stupid bird pooped on my laundry!!!!  Okay, that is something my mother never taught me in “Laundry 101” classes growing up.  It made me start praying for the rain that I had been so determined to avoid a few minutes earlier in hopes it would undo what the bird had just done!

Like I said…timing is everything!  I’m sure that’s what the bird thought!