Friday, August 29, 2008

We've gone back to the 20th Century!

The Head of the River is a pub that sits on the Thames near our house in Oxford. We walk by it daily but I have yet to wet my whistle there.

Ok, here's my situation. I think that it might be the house we are staying in, and also a little bit England but we haven't got a clothes dryer and this has been my most exciting foreign exchange project to date! Stay with me, I haven't gone mad. Or have I? I do wash each morning, especially if no explicit rain is forecast (there's always a chance as it is England). To begin, I have to tell you that the washer uses hardly any water (eco-friendly sensors detect just how much water it needs) and it's fascinating to me. I drink my coffee and watch the wet clothes tumble around in the washer, mesmerizing me, I tell you. I read the manual, I played with the settings....and yet there are still only about five tablespoons of water washing the clothes. Maybe Europeans think it's gross and wasteful that our wash churns in gallons and gallons of dirty water, but it's all I've ever known. Once done, I have a puzzle to efficiently hang it all on our few little clothes hangy things that I put in the garden to dry. Every day I try a new configuration.

Now, here's the good stuff about it. My laundry gives me a real sense of accomplishment. I cheer it on to hurry and finish so I can get it out in the little bit of sunshine, I nurture it and reposition it toward the sun, etc. At night, I take a hot iron to anything that's still damp and press the dampness out, folding it neatly as I go. It reminds me of my mom ironing when I was little. I am playing house, really. Am I the Marie Antoinette of Parkwood?

Pulling meals together is less romantic and more reminiscent of college. Grotty pots, nothing matches, no lids, five unmatching glasses, one martini glass (you know I'm on the search for #2), pitiful tools and too few of them. It feels like a real job well done when I can make dinner with the contents of my mini fridge and my imagination. Really as long as there's a baguette involved, it's all good. I have peered into a few neighbors' houses and they seem to have all the modern appliances (I spied a dishwasher and what looked like a range which did not appear to require the strike of a match) but I like playing peasant woman for now.


  1. It is true that most of Europe gets by without clothes dryers which is very impressive when you think of sheets and duvet covers and whatnot. They do rewear jeans to make life easier.

    When you get home, you must trade your top load for a frontload. I did and I will never go back. All that gross dirty water and an agitator tearing your clothes up...

    As for the kitchen -- I think that this is what in the end makes me always happy to return home. To good pots and matching stemwear. It shouldn't matter, in the scheme of things, but I truly love my pots and plates.

    By the way, I have an exchange student this year from England. She was absolutely crestfallen that she could not vote in our forthcoming election (have you seen Ms. Alaska???). She said that back in England, ANYONE can vote. No proof of anything required. Maybe you guys can cast votes for whatever is in the chopper?

  2. I will take your word for it that there are only supposed to be three tablespoons of water in that washer. It is a Miele, have you heard of it? Our English friends were very impressed.

    I figured out the grill tonight, so there's another way to make food. It's really like sophisticated camping here. But we met a neighbor! She's a homeopath.

    Yes, we have seen Mrs. Alaska and the polls. We are not happy.