MIDDLE-AGED PLAGUE - New washer makes life less agitating

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You'll never guess what I'm doing right now. I mean, as opposed to sitting at the keyboard writing to you.

I'm washing a load of towels. In the washing machine.

Those of you who don't know me, or those of you who know me but don't pay attention (like my progeny, sort of) won't remember my tale last time about bringing home the new washing machine in the back of my compact Honda Fit.

But I did and the Norwegian Artist unloaded it. And he and the Son and Heir hauled out the old one, cleaned up the cobwebs, and installed my new white box in shining armor while I sat in the hammock and read through the user's guide.

Honestly, if I knew it would be so easy to replace the thing I would have done it years ago.

As it is, the Old One and I limped along for years, and in my caretaking position I stood in front of the open lid, applying gentle pressure to the agitator so that it would work, because otherwise it weakly trembled and sighed and burped. It was only for the first 10 minutes or so, but it was for every load, and every load

was half size.

"Are you nuts?"

Most people, other than my progeny, were too polite to voice this sentiment aloud, but eyes and eyebrows express a lot more than you think. The Norwegian Artist, knowing that as long we both shall live he wants a claim on his quarter of the bed, was more circumspect:

"We could get a new washer, you know."

Yes, I know. But our generation is the product of Depression-era parents, and in this generation we are working through a Recession-era angst. So you use it up, wear it out, make it do. Or do without.

The Norwegian Artist understands this, which is why he has spent the whole season mowing the lawn with a modified weed cutter.

But it always bothered him when he popped over to the house for a mug of tea and found me in the nether regions, crouching over the washing machine.

"We could get a new washer, you know."

The longer the Old One and I limped along, however, the more of a challenge it became: Just how long can we keep doing this?

And the time spent with the agitator, watching it go back … and forth … and back … and forth … and …

Oh, sorry. It was mesmerizing, the sound and the movement, and I used the time to think about things, or work out a difficult piece in an article, or just blank out and watch a red sock bob around from place to place. Sort of connecting with my right brain and giving the left - which spends far too much time analyzing and worrying - a break.

But speaking of break, eventually it did. But not the washer. Just my resolve.

One Sunday reading the ads I spotted a basic, prosaic, boring box of a washer on sale for a price I couldn't resist. The next day found me in the store, making the sales representative's most easy sale of the year.

"I need a washer. This one looks good. I'll take it. Can you fit it in my car?"

In what seemed like no time to me, the new purchase was in place, and I followed the instructions step by step (yes, I realize loading and running a washer seems like a straightforward affair, but have you ever watched freshmen college students in the laundromat?).

In 22 years technology had changed a bit and everything was done in reverse order, but I mastered the process. The first load was on - and not only did it come out pristinely clean, it was twice the size of my former half-of-normal-size loads. Meaning that now, in more ways than one, I was back to normal.

One by one I pulled out the damp, happy garments and marveled at the ease of the whole process.

And then I tossed the clothes in the basket, marched them outside, and hung them up on the line.

Isn't progress wonderful?

Dayton columnist Carolyn Henderson, who manages Steve Henderson Fine Art, can be reached at 382-9775 or via email at carolyn@stevehendersonfineart.com. More of her writing is at middleagedplague.areavoices.com.

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