A few days before Christmas our dryer stopped drying. It was trying to dry things - spinning senselessly away with no heat. There's nothing quite like the demise of a major appliance in the midst of the holiday chaos, is there? So we'd wash in our washer (which has begun to wash without wanting to finish a spin cycle periodically), and carry the wet clothes up from the basement to Mom's second-floor dryer.
At some point in the midst of this, Hubby took the dryer apart. He cleaned out all of the accumulated lint and explored the possibility that there might be something simple, like a loose wire, that he could reconnect. In so doing, he had to move the folding table, the sorting bins, the baskets of clean clothes and towels. And there was no simple problem.
I have a system here. My laundry room is a small, well-run factory. Laundry is a daily chore - one load in, one load out and folded, and all new dirty clothes sorted, pretreated, and readied for cleaning. I do extra loads on the weekend as needed, and Curlygirl and JuJuBee come over on Sunday and Monday, respectively, to get their laundry done. Malfunctions are a BIG DEAL. When I moved my folding area to the other side of the basement, he needed to move it back to ?nowhere because he needed to use tools on that side.
Laundry is a Zen activity for me. It is soothingly repetitive. It allows my mind to shut off. I never worry when I'm doing laundry, I just focus on the task at hand in a form of meditation that is truly part of my daily routine. It works out the brain cramps. It relieves stress.
I went through two weeks of holidays with no Laundry Zen. No wonder I've been out of sorts.
Last week the repairman came, replaced the broken heater coil and reassembled the dryer. I happily loaded in some clean clothes and began sorting Mt. Laundry. By the time I was done sorting, the washer was still running but the dryer had stopped, cheerily announcing that the clothes were dry. They were warm, so one problem had clearly been fixed, but they were definitely not dry. Puzzled, I set the machine to go for a dryer level of dry. Ten minutes later, the dryer let out its happy "I'm all done!" chirp. Damp clothes. Dammit. The heater coil did not fail alone - the sensor went with it. Can the motor be far behind?
So today I'm back to running up and down two flights of stairs with wet clothes - a great workout but sucky Laundry Zen. And I'm guessing that today will send us shopping for a new washer/dryer (since I can tell the washer is not far behind). Ugh. That's crappy Financial Zen.
I think we all have activities that shut down our brains, allowing the task itself to let us unwind. For my mom, it was doing the dishes. Pulling weeds in the garden feels much the same. We need these sane, normal routines to keep us grounded and loose, to let prayer flow quietly through and around our hearts. I've never been good at the sit-still-and-meditate kind of prayer, and it took me years to figure out that I wasn't a spiritual failure if I needed an external focus to keep me in touch with God. It seems silly that I am so looking forward to a new dryer for spiritual reasons, but isn't it when we lose our day-to-day spiritual practices that we lose touch with God? A hundred years ago it could have been a washboard or a butter churn, a plough or the daily milking. The slower, more repetitive pace of life connected people to the earth, to each other, to God.
While I await the new dryer I should bake some bread.