Saturday, December 12, 2009

Are the Clothes Dry Yet?

It has been slow arriving, but winter is here. It is cold, grey and wet.  It means a change into the heavier jackets to stay warm, boots for navigating the wet muddy streets, waits for the bus that feel much longer than usual and the challenge of doing laundry!

Doing one load of laundry can be a multi day affair. The process begins by listening to the weather report and checking my work schedule looking for a “window of opportunity”. I need a minimum of 2 hours free time before leaving for school to wash and hang a load of clothes (the quickest wash cycle is 90 min.). Having that free time in the morning on a clear day is becoming a challenge. Yes, the clothes are hung under the cover of the balcony, but if there is moisture in the air or winds driving a rain, it can take days for everything to dry. The other option is to turn the apartment into a Chinese laundry and drape clothes throughout. Mike recently rescued a drying rack from the curb and that helps.

Last night, when we got home at 10:30, with a stripped down bed waiting for us, I went to the balcony to pull in the sheets. Hmmm! Dry or not dry? I think they are dry but oh are they cold. Spread out two chairs and hope that draping them for an hour in the heated apartment will finish them off!  Yes! It did the trick.

Hanging clothes in the cold winter air, and cascading that sheet over the backs of two chairs pulled from the depths of memory images of either my mother or I on our knees reaching out a second floor window pulling in clothes off the pulley line that were stiff with cold. “Tents” I exclaimed to Mike as the last edge of the extra large sheet covered the chair. I have many fond memories of nesting under the dining room table, chairs and anything else that would support a blanket on rainy days when my brothers and I would be trapped indoors for days. At times the living room and dining room became a maze between “forts” if the four of us decided to each have our own space. Bless my mother and her patience!!

Ah! So the clothes are washed and dried. Some are finished in 16 hours; others will go the full 24. But what about the ironing? I have found a towel on the kitchen counter works just fine! Yes they have ironing boards in Bulgaria, but they are relatively expensive and it will just be one more thing to try to find a hiding place for. We have no closets and only two doors to hide things behind. Both are quite full already. So I will stick to the counter-top and manage quite well.

As challenging as this may seem, my heart goes out to the volunteers who do not have a washer, and must do all their laundry by hand. Some do not have balconies, thus the drying rack in their (sometimes one room) apartment is their only alternative. Obviously it is not only volunteers in this situation. There are still some Bulgarian households who face the same challenges, but for them, they have been doing it for a lifetime.

Needless to say, we think twice before declaring an item “ready to be washed”!!!  


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