I had a rare stretch of alone time today. John swallowed a bit of pride and decided to take Tyler to his cousin K's birthday party. I told John as they were leaving not to start anything...just for K's benefit. I didn't want his party ruined by the ugliness currently going on between his parents and us.

I wandered around the house and made a mental list of all the chores I had half completed or incomplete and began to feel too overwhelmed. I decided to just pick one thing, do it, and go from there. Laundry came to mind (especially since John had such a hard time locating weather appropriate and matching clothing for Tyler as they got ready to leave.)

So what was at the top of my mental list of most critical loads to be washed? Bedding. We'd run out of clean sheets and blankets. When I am sick, nothing feels quite so nice as sliding into cool clean sheets and soft scented pillow cases. I stripped the bed and heaved my favorite ice blue sheets and checkerboard quilt in shades of ocean turquoise and purple over the banister railing. This deposits the wash in the stairway leading into the laundry room. It makes a very handy laundry chute.

As I forced my large load of sheets into my too-small top loading washer, I began to think about my personal laundry methodology. It differs dramatically from my Mother's methods.

My Mom was a tad obsessive about laundry. She didn't just sort by light and dark. No. She had subtle sub-categories of washing. Light delicate warm. Light delicate cold. Dark delicate warm/cold. White cotton hot (mostly underwear). White cotton blend warm. White miscellaneous other warm. Dark cotton cold...and so on.

Every article had to be turned right side OUT before going into the washer. The detergent was put under the running water and allowed to dissolve and suds up first before any clothes were added. At the completion of the load, each item was removed one by one, grasped by the seams, and given a crisp snap to open it up and remove some of the wrinkles. She swore by this step. Claimed it reduced her ironing time.

Ironing. Don't get me started on her process there. She ironed EVERYTHING.

Me? I have 7 categories of wash:

* Delicate Dark (washed in cold water)
* Delicate Light (washed in warm water)
* Dark (washed in warm with a cold rinse)
* Light/White (washed in warm with a warm rinse)
* Hot wash (stuff I think needs to be sterilized)
* Tyler's dark wash (warm wash/cold rinse, special soap)
* Tyler's light wash (warm wash/warm rinse, special soap)

All my wash gets heaved over the banister and sorted on my laundry room floor. There is always a template of vague piles down there to follow as I never "finish" my laundry. The largest pile or items of pressing need (John - "Honey? I have no more underwear!") get tossed in the washer first.

As the water is running, I wait for the washer to fill to a certain level then I add the detergent under the stream. If I am satisfied with the suds level, I slam the lid and go upstairs. If not, I add more soap. Sometimes I stand and watch the water cascade over the clothes and rinse out the lid/cup I used for the soap. Sometimes I add my Downy Ball (a fabric softener dispenser).

Just about everything goes into the drier on LOW (except sheets - high, and certain delicates that get hung to dry) with a Bounce sheet to prevent static cling. I don't shake things out like my Mom did. I just shove it all in there. The shake out comes later when I am folding. That is also when things go from inside out to right side in.

So what is your laundry methodology? Is there anything you do that you think is odd? I like to inhale the steam when I run a hot wash (particularly right now). I like to watch the agitation sometimes. It's rather mesmerizing.

Today, after I went down to put my sheets in the drier, I discovered the drier full of a mystery dark wash. John mush have run out of something and decided to do a wash himself. I love it when he does that. It's like a laundry treat! The only problem was, there were no free baskets downstairs. So I went looking. That's when I discovered that while I had done quite a bit of folding, I had neglected the putting away part of the process. All the baskets were full.

I went looking for a basket with the least amount of clean items waiting to be put away and discovered, buried under a pile of folded light-weight seasonal blankets in the bedroom, an UNFOLDED basket of wash that had probably been hiding there since the Carter administration.

But's been under there for months. It was a veritable laundry bonanza! All the orphan socks I've been looking for since last Fall...the top half of one of John's flannel PJs (the bottoms have been sitting alone in his pajama drawer for ages)...some underthings I've been searching for (including my Valentine's Day underwear and matching socks with the hearts on them)...and some pillow cases I've been looking for.

Now lest this entry lead you to believe I am fond of laundry, I am not. I hate doing the laundry. But the process is interesting. You washer came equipped with an automatic soap and fabric softener dispenser; but I haven't a clue how they work. Never learned.


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