26 February 2007

Brass in pocket

What I put in the dryer is one thing. What comes out of my dryer is something altogether different. And I'm not talking clothes.

Yesterday, it was an eraser. A large, pink eraser, now broken in two, belonging to the son. Frequently, pencils stare back at me from the vent grate. Rocks from the daughter's pocket. Any number of things from the spouse's pockets, usually Blistick.

Last week: a brass hook, the kind used to hang cups in cabinets. I knew this oddity came from the spouse's pocket in helping the son with his science project.

Laundry is a study in anthropology in this house. It's not just the performance of the task, although I need to always carefully determine how I'm going to go about it. Children sort their own clothes into large piles weekly. I collect and resort so no one ends up with pink underwear. In the bad old days, I had to worry about which child was playing in the woodchips at school. By the end of the schoolyear, I had more woodchips in my laundry room than the school did outdoors. And it only took one woodchip splinter in my bra to convince me that my underwear needed to be washed separately from the children's. I can dissect for you the exact provenance of the stains on the children's uniform shirts: cranberry juice untreated turns a faint purple, while chocolate milk stays an unrelenting brown. Paint (washable, indeed!) speaks for itself.

Then I have to worry about my spouse's activities. Was he out in the field during the week? Was he bashing about the Santa Monica Mountains (poison oak. The bane of our existence and frequently, the laundry)? Was he rolling in the mud? Lolling in a trench filled with some foul, unidentifiable substance? Downhole with a selection of live and dead rats? Did anyone have a hose filled with grout? Sometimes the spouse's clothes need to be hosed down before they can go in the washer. Sometimes the spouse needs to be hosed down before he reenters the house.

As a family, we travel quite a bit. As a scientist, the spouse travels even more. He returned in triumph from a difficult job in the Ozarks and I ordered him to open his suitcase out in the driveway and dump his clothing there. We both watched in horror as dozens of ticks ran for their lives upon release from the suitcase. I let things bake in the sun for a bit before I took them to the washer. You know those tourist tee shirts they sell in Hawaii? The red dirt ones? I've got an entire set of his field clothes dyed with red dirt. At least I've never had to wash his HazMat suits.

Ah, but there were my brother's flight suits. The ones lovingly washed by hand in some river in Bahrain. The ones that probably could have flown a fighter bomber without him. He thought he was going to sneak them into my garage before I knew he'd arrived. But you can't sneak anything past me. Not when it comes to laundry.

Laundry Day Dinner

Spaghetti sauce
Makings for a salad

Boil spaghetti. Cover with sauce. Serve with salad. Be exotic and heat some garlic bread to serve alongside.

(For the record, while I do not make my own pasta, I do make my own sauce. Someday, I'll try to figure out what I do and record it here).

Laundry Day Dinner trivia: Monday was traditionally laundry day in the South. Red beans and rice was the traditional Monday dinner because it was easy to cook while stirring and hanging all that laundry. I don't remember why I know this.