18 September 2007

Dirty laundry

The Wall Street Journal reported on Page One this morning that Oregon resident Susan Taylor is facing possible legal action from her homeowners association. Her crime?

Hanging a clothesline in her backyard.

According to her neighbor, an interior designer, the clothesline "bombards the senses."

(Actually, I think interior designers are far more likely to bombard the senses, which is why I won't hire one. But that's me).

Like Ms. Taylor, I live in a "nice" neighborhood. Clean, congenial, generally well-kept, significant housing values. Fortunately, we don't have a homeowners association; peer pressure is generally enough to assure that all is nicely maintained.

Three years ago, we relandscaped our rather large backyard. I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted: a play area for the children, a space for outdoor entertaining, a vegetable garden and a clothesline.

I grew up with a clothesline in the backyard. We never owned a dryer. Living in the desert, we also never needed bleach for the whites. The sun took care of that just fine. It was a win-win situation.

The person who was hired to design and install our new landscape (for whom I have a very unsavory nickname that won't be divulged here) crabbed endlessly about the vegetable garden, but went ballistic over the clothesline, and basically refused to put it in.

But I did.

This is California, people. The place that has obscene amounts of no weather. The place that has a really dreadful track record of maintaining a usable power grid when it gets over 90 degrees Farenheit. I don't like to spend one cent that I don't have to, so a clothesline makes sense on so many levels, including the common one. Clotheslines are only bad when people leave their clothes on them for days at a time, which my mother once did when we were children. She learned her lesson, though, when she had to remove a black widow from my brother's jeans.

My neighbors have been hilariously fascinated with my clothesline. Last summer, the neighbor who kept my vegetables watered decided a clothesline was such a great idea that she stole all my clothes pins (which she did return once she found some of her own). A few months later, another neighbor called to find out where I'd bought the clothesline because she wanted one, too.

My only shame is that I don't use the the thing as often as I'd intended. When I went back to the office, I ended up doing all the laundry in the middle of the night...and I do mean 2 am, usually while I was embroiled with editing a document that needed to be in court first thing in the morning.

But now that I'm settling back into something akin to normal life, I'm looking forward to putting my clothesline to better use than as the Black Phoebe's favorite place to sit and taunt the cat.

So Susan Taylor, if you get tired of Bend, it sounds like you'd feel at home in our neighborhood.

Go listen to some good music: "Dirty Laundry" from the album I Can't Stand Still by Don Henley.