Friday, August 22, 2008

Hung Out to Dry

Why is it that we don't hang our clothes outside to dry anymore? Don't we all remember that fresh, crisp smell? Or the pretty sight of sheets flapping gently in the wind? When did we all leave it behind? Ah, sweet childhood. You are so distant on the long horizon.

I'll tell you when we left it behind: when we figured out it's easier to pop a load in the dryer than it is to bend, stand, stretch, and pin. Repeat.

Not too long ago friends Kurt and Jordan were waxing poetic about the joys and eco-merits of hanging laundry. Upon further grilling from the women in the group, they admitted that, ahem, in their respective households, there either wasn't that much laundry to do, or that someone else (read: a woman!) was contributing to the labor.

My memory is pretty faulty sometimes, but I do remember how much work it was to hang laundry. Of course, I was shorter then, so maybe that was part of it...Joys and merits, indeed.

Still, Kurt and Jordan got me thinking. Dang 'em.

It is dry here on the Llano, and sunny most of the year. And the dryer is one of the biggest energy users in a household. So as I continue to try to reduce my impact on this good green earth (or, brown, if you live on the plains), it makes sense to hang clothes once in awhile. During the summer, all I ever wear are shorts and T-shirts, so that shouldn't be too much of a burden to hang. And even if I were to reduce my dryer-use to only 3/4 of what it used to be, it is still a reduction.

So there, Jordan and Kurt. I've decided to take the plunge and hang some laundry. Shut up.

I have this left-over T-bar from the clothesline that used to be in our backyard. These things are probably tucked away in yards all over America, yanked unceremoniously out of the ground when the dryer showed up. I thought it would be a nifty idea to bring mine out of retirement and plant it, plus a mate (to be found later), somewhere in the patch of land at the back of the backyard that I call "the farm." Leaving aside the practical benefits of a clothesline for a moment, since my romantic notion of the farm is that it puts "cute" back in the word utilitarian (cutilitarian?), an eco-meritorious clothesline would be just the aesthetic ticket to add to my compost bins, crops, and future home of chickens.

Unfortunately, it looked like the best place to stick one of the posts was situated right where I suspected some gas/power/sewer/water lines probably ran. Being a responsible citizen (and afraid of blowing up), I had the foresight to call the hotline for excavation. This set into motion a rather involved protocol, involving a whole list of parties who expect to be notified when excavation occurs, including, among others, Texas Tech University. Who knew TTU would be interested in my clothesline post?

The next day, I awoke to find these strange markings in the alley:

Unfortunately, even with all that marking, I'm not sure if it is all right to dig where I want to. I mean, does "XL OK" mean "Dig here"? Or does it mean "There's a big pipe under here, you suicidal ding-dong"? (Something I could sort of figure out by, let's see, the presence of a big gas meter...)

And what about that mysterious yellow arrow, pointing to...nothing?

To make it more confusing, hubby Walt reported that someone from Atmos Energy (or maybe Lubbock Power and Light, or maybe Xcel Energy--who knows) came by and told him that the gas line probably runs straight from the back bathroom to the gas meter--right through this spot, marked with an LP&L flag that reads "Clear."

None of this leaves me feeling all that confident about sinking a post-hole digger there. I have an idea, though (thanks to Walt, who is skeptical of this whole enterprise, for legitimate reasons that I'll explain in a future post). Stayed tuned for further updates on my adventure in laundry drying...

Unless you don't hear from me again, which might mean that I've blown up.

1 comment:

  1. Did you ever find out if you were clear to dig? I put up a clothesline about 1.5 years ago and I LOVE it...besides my clothes smelling wonderfully fresh, I'm also reducing my energy use and my electric bill. I did have to learn to not leave my husky in the backyard when clothes were hanging, howere ):


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