Friday, July 31, 2009

hangin' out the laundry....

Get those clothes to the laundry
Get them shiny clean
They go into West Guilford
They use 24 machines.
Because they stick to your skin
The smell is a sin,
They're just not fit to be seen.
(Song written and performed by my friend Kirk, aka Skagg one night while hanging out at a laundromat near the camp we worked at.)

Sometimes I wonder at the interesting little artifacts and snippets housed in my brain. Carmi at Written Inc. has chosen the photo theme, "laundry" and ever since he posted it, this little ditty has been escorting me, as well as the memories of a seemingly ordinary evening doing laundry with a friend in a place so small its not even considered a village. West Guilford, Ontario. Maybe it's bigger now, but back then, it had a laundromat and an old fashioned bowling alley. I think there was a rundown old dance hall too. Nice combo, n'est pas?

Three very distinct memories come from that night......Kirk happily messing with new chord arrangements on his guitar, strumming away and eventually making up a silly song that he eventually performed and taught to the kids at camp (it was a HIT), me chilled and sitting inside the drum of a warm dryer with the door open listening and chatting with him from there. I can imagine what it would've looked like to anyone who happened to walk into the place...... you couldn't see me. You would've only seen a guy all on his own facing a dryer strumming away, responding to the "voice" coming out of the warm dryer. Luckily (and this is the other memory) only an old drunk stumbled in, three sheets to the wind, intent on cleaning up his booty. I can't remember all the items that he threw into a machine, but most definately one of them was the paper bag used to hide his preferred libation........London Supreme perhaps? He was so hammered that he was harmlessly funny.

More Laundry..........

My daughter arrives home today for a two day respite from her camp. Its been two weeks since she was home...... and I can't wait to see her. Sadly, her accumulated laundry will be accompanying her........damp, dirty and LOTS of it. ugh! At least it won't be as crazy as her last trip home. That time, she brought two lovely and exuberantly wonderful new friends home along with their laundry. Oh, no.........I didn't take it all on. That would fall under the category of "Enabling Parenting Techniques..." We all took turns until our dryer heaved a sigh of relief when it was done. For the most part, we were organized and kept everyone's stuff in their own piles. However, I have pulled out a couple of thongy looking bits of material out of my underwear drawer that I know for a fact ain't mine, and wonder if they could fit anything but a Beanie Baby.

For some reason, the camp Martha is attending doesn't have laundry services arranged, which is crazy! Given how yucky wet it has been since they officially turned this country into a Rain Forest zone in June, I can't imagine how anyone there has stayed ahead of the drizzle, grime and mud. When I was at camp, every week each group of campers and staff (usually 8 campers and two staff) would sort their collective pile and stuff it ALL into assigned canvas bags the size of large mail bags....... for transport to West Guilford. Can you imagine??? 120 kids, 30 staff.........??? We sent it just after dinner one night and it would arrive clean, folded and still warm by breakfast the next day. It was a miracle I tell ya!! A freakin' miracle! Though I did feel sorry for the folks on the other end who put in a full night of work.

24 machines........... making everything shiny clean.

I remember one "laundry" night after a particularly wet week of fun and frolics. We had played some kind of wide camp game which ended in a fun filled Kangaroo Court. The youngest group of boys who lived in a cabin together called "Bears Claw" somehow won the chance to have their choice of camp counsellor tuck them in and read them a story. They chose me. What an honour! So, off I went that evening to share my best story voice to a bunch of 7 year old boys.

When I arrived, I was so surprised to find them ALL in bed already with their sleeping bags pulled right up to their chins. Normally, they were a rambunctious crew. I had figured they would be hanging from their bunkbeds being silly. Instead, they seemed overly nervous about me being in their cabin. I wondered how long it would actually take me to get them all sleeping before I could leave and let them be for the night. I also wondered what was going felt like there was a secret amongst them, which I wasn't privy to. Well, it turned out that their own Counsellors (Skagg being one of them...and we know how he feels about cleanliness. He wrote a song about it!) sent EVERYTHING to the laundry except for one pair of gotch per kid.

Even though I was a grown up in their eyes, the thought of having a "girl" around knowing they were only in their skivvies was beyond the pale! Years and years later, at a celebration held in Toronto for all the staff who had worked at Kawabi, I sat with a few of those same boys....all grown up in their 30's and had a beer with them. I hadn't seen them since that summer. It had been my last one as a camp counsellor. So, when I spotted them sitting together all rowdy and having fun, I had to join them! And the memory of me visiting their cabin that night was mentioned in laughter. :)Hanging Laundry...............

There is nothing more aromatically inviting than the smell of crisp clean sheets dried in the summer breezes on a clothes line. Its funny how there used to be rules about not hanging out your laundry on a Sunday. Offensive to God? Was it just that you werent supposed to do any work on that day, so hanging out the laundry was a no no? I'm sure there were many homes back when this was an issue that were filled to the rafters with wet things draped everywhere..... just so there wouldn't be any nosey neighbours tongues clicking! We sure have strange human rules don't we?

This summer hasn't been a great drying season..........for the hay or the laundry. So, when a nice day happens to show up in between the sheets of rain, you can count on every single person with a clothesline to be busy hanging it out no matter what day it is. Crisp and clean once again....... for a while.

For more Laundry episodes and photos.............check out Carmi at Written Inc. He and the others have a few picture stories to share......


Carmi said...

You've inspired me to focus on writing more vignettes again - this journey is so rich with imagery that I'll need to read it again tonight to absorb it fully.

Your first picture reminds me so much of the clothes line my parents had out back in the house where I grew up. I used to sit in the kitchen and watch our clothes flap in the breeze. I often helped my mom hang stuff up, relishing the cool factor as each item slowly made its way across the yard, high above the ground.

I'm tickled that outdoor clothes lines are making a comeback - so eco! - and that more municipalities are getting rid of their silly bans. Today's kids need rich images to grow up with, too.

If we lived closer, I'd suggest bringing some of your daughter's laundry our way. It's such a joy to finally have capacity again.

Mark said...

Great topic and wonderful writing. Thanks for sharing your "laundry"!

Awareness said...

Carmi....Wow! There are places where clotheslines are BANNED? The Maritimes have them everywhere and in fact in Newfoundland, they have it down to an art. With the strong winds, they use a Y forked big stick to hoist up the middle of the line so that it can move back and forth with the wind.

Sadly, I don't have a clothesline because of how my back yard is set up....there isn't a logical place to put it....the trees are too far away from my back deck. However, I must figure out something because fresh air dried clothes are the best.

oh, and thank you for the offer....first yucky load is IN! makes me laugh how many laundry stories I seem to have in my memory bank.... weird!

Laura Schmitt said...

hey muskie! my son came home last night for his changeover time off - he is a first year counsellor this summer. we are still working our way through his laundry - wet, mud, paint and since his camp is on an island, sand sand sand and sand!! here's the difference between a camper coming home from camp and a staff member - michael called to let us know that his buddy was picking him up from the buses, he went out with his "city" friends and stumbled home after we were fast asleep. today i was allowed to drop him at the mall where he probably spent all his money (remember borrowing from skip?!) and has already planned his night out. tomorrow, he is off to the changeover party (god help me.....) and then i get to drive him back to the buses and say goodbye for the next month!!!
ah memories!! changeover parties, bus runs, dirty laundry, city vs camp was all fantastic!!
hope you are enjoying your summer!!

Marja said...

Loved reading this Brought me back to my camps. Our scouting camps were no longer than 3 days. So no washing
It went back all pushed together clean and dirty in their bags for the parents to sort out. On the deck we stalled out shoes, pieces of clothing and other stuff we found in the bunk rooms which were not pushed in the bags
I also remember when my brothers back in time came back from scouting camps and my mum had to put their clothes stiff of mud in the bath and let them soak in chloride or something for days Those were the times

Awareness said...

Wasabun.... Good to know what's ahead. No changeover party on this end, but probably next year. They keep the CIT's separate from the Junior Counsellors and Counsellors, unlike how things were at Kawabi!
I had most of the afternoon with Martha on my own and we've just all had dinner together, but she's now off to reconnect with her "city" friends and sleep over at her best friend's house. We'll catch up again tomorrow!
As for the's coming along! No clothesline tonight. Quel surprise! It's raining!!

Marja....that's hilarious that the clothes had to be soaked! Oh, I remember coming home at the end of the summer and just taking my whole trunk downstairs to the laundry room, even if was clean! Everything gets so grubby and grey.

murf said...

Muskie, I loved this blog!! I never knew that story of the boys in Bear's Claw. Too funny!! And so Skaggish!!!

My favourite memories of laundry would have to be as a 5-9 year old. I loved, loved, loved, having a pre-bedtime bath, putting on clean jammies, and getting into a bed with clean bed sheets! I would just lie there for a while and just breathe in all the cleanliness. The beginnings of my OCD tendencies? Perhaps, but they are only tendencies, not traits, I swear!!

Awareness said...

Murf.... glad you read it. :) It was either Skagg or Luten's group, I can't remember. But, both fit the story. :) Definately Skagg who wrote the laundry song.