Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Memory - Laundry

I am home alone tonight...Stretch is at college, Squirrel and Dipstick are out at youth group and B is away helping a neighbor with his combine. The house is very quiet right now...the dishwasher is loaded but not running, the tv is off...The loudest sound (outside of the clicking of my typing) is the hum of the dryer running. Which brings me to my "memory topic" of the day - laundry.

Laundry is never-ending in my house. I usually run a load or two at least every other day and there is nearly always clothes waiting to be folded. Thankfully I have the convenience of an electric washer and dryer that basically does all the work for me. All I have to do is sort the clothes, throw them in, add soap and press start. That's a far cry from what doing laundry in Africa was.

Mom ran a laundry day at least once a week. We had a ringer washing machine and rinsing was done by running the clothes through 2-3 tubs full of water. The ringer would turn so that it was over each tub and clothes would be hand-fed through it. As one tub would get too soapy to use it would be rotated out with the new one being the final rinse. I know that Mom soaked some of the clothes in a bucket before running them through the washer and some of the dirtiest would be hand scrubbed. After they were washed someone had to carry them outside and hang them to dry on the lines in the back yard. It was often my job to hang it out - bend over, grab, straighten, shake firmly, clip it up...repeat. I spent those hours day dreaming - weaving stories in my mind. I don't remember what they were about. If rain threatened and we had clothes on the line it was a mad scramble to run and get everything off before it got wet again. The mountain of laundry we 4 kids brought home from boarding school must have been daunting at times...I know it usually took the entire month break from school to get it all done.

Laundry at school was a different project. All our clothes, socks, towels, blankets, wash rags had to have our name on them somewhere. Mom would send away and order name tags which then had to be sewn in. We had large cloth laundry bags that were carried to the school laundry once a week (I think). Our socks had to be in a special net bag as did our unders though boys' unders did not. There were huge washers and lines for drying linens outside. Other things must have gone into dryers...I don't remember that part. Then students came in as a job and sorted and "put away" the laundry - each student had a box and that's where the clean clothes went. Certain afternoons were laundry pick-up days when we had lines waiting for us to hand them their clothes to carry back to the dorms. I worked in the laundry - mainly with other girls. We usually had a good time though there was definitely some teasing that went on as we got to see our current "crushes" pick up their laundry...and maybe be the one that got to give them their clean clothes...oh my be still my heart!

Occasionally - probably more often than I remember - girls did hand laundry in the dorms. That was done to either keep our nicer clothes nice or more often, at least on my part, because I did not have enough clothes to last an entire week - especially not when we no longer had to wear uniforms. I remember hand washing jeans in a sink then literally ringing them out...twist one way as tight as you and a friend could go then release and twist them the other way. Sometimes it was rinse and repeat and repeat and repeat. Then when as much water as possible was squeezed out, we would hang dry the clothes the rest of the way. That usually took at least an overnight to finish drying them...sometimes longer.

These laundry memories are not complete. I don't remember how laundry was done when we lived where there was VERY limited electricity nor how it was done when I was very young. Wish I had more memories of those days...instead of just snippets. But this whole writing about memories is good for me and fun. And I would love to post a picture of a ringer washing machine but I don't have the know-how at this point.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Memory - Driving

Today I drove B's stick shift truck to the closest "bigger" town that we live near. I pulled it into the first large parking lot I got to and parked it. My friend who was coming to the "city" with me got in and we started off. However we never even made it out of the parking lot before she asked to drive. I was fine with it as I'm not comfortable driving a stick - much prefer an automatic. brought back well as the feeling I really ought to choose to practice more.

As a child growing up all I remember is Dad driving a stick shift - Mom didn't learn to drive until I was a teen. I'm not sure why she didn't or what triggered the change but Mom didn't drive much. One year we were on furlough - 5th grade or so for me so I would have been 11 or 12 I guess. It was hay season and we were out west visiting Mom's family. My aunt and uncle had a farm and needed to get the hay in. I was tasked with driving the pick-up truck around the field...something I thought would be relatively easy. But I didn't realize that it was an automatic truck and did not require being driven with both feet. So I would press both the gas and the brake pedal at the same time and inevitably the truck would stall. Must have stalled and lurched to a stop every few feet around the field that first time. Eventually I did kind of get the hang of it but it took a while. Must have been prior to that experience that I figured I would never want to learn to drive. After that I thought it was kind of fun. However I'm still not overly comfortable driving a stick...even though Dad did insist I learn how to do so. I am now employed as a professional driver...people laugh when they find out I don't do stick shift well as they figure school buses are all stick. Having said that, on my "bucket list" is to learn to drive a semi - simply to say that I can do it. That will require becoming proficient at shifting...could be awhile before I'm ready to do that.

I might add I was 20 before I actually got my driver's took that long to get settled someplace where I could find someone to teach me. I did take driver's ed in 10th grade - living in Canada at the time. That was a trip...our closest town was 20 min or so away. The instructors would load 2-3 of us students up at a time - one drove in, all took turns driving in town and 1 drove home. On one of those trips the girl driving hit an icy patch (this was in winter in Canada) and put the car into the ditch off the side of the highway. She was mortified but I remember the instructor used it as teaching - having her drive it back up onto the road and continuing on into town. As we stopped for a snack and sat around together talking she was told how blessed she was to experience this so she knew how to get out. I don't remember her reaction to that. I do remember being thankful that I was not the one driving when we went around the one round-about in that town...I felt like we were going it backwards. It's taken me years to get past that's a conscious decision still. We returned to Africa before I was old enough to get my license and could not get it in Africa until I was 18. Looking back that was probably a good thing as I would have struggled even more with driving on the correct side of the road.

Anyway...there's another memory. Now it's time for me to get going to work driving bus. Today is sunny and warmer which will make afternoon route nicer.