Seven days in a small house as hurricane winds and flooding rains swept through the London area a few days before Christmas.
The cricket pitch, our playground away from home, became a green swamp and the wicked winds kept gusting days beyond the thrashing storm. Inside. But for the occasional walk around the block.
For seven days. Cabin Fever hit hard. Yet, the Laundry Maven didn't get bored. Nearly every day she gathered a small load of dirty clothes in her wash tub or mini-laundry basket and trooped it downstairs to the kitchen to load the washer.
She stuffed it through a small door that opened to a small cavern. (Have you read Jon Scieszka's children's book Robot Zot illustrated by David Shannon? Whether you have or not, meditate on the picture below for a minute until you see two mis-matched robotic eyes, a ridged nose between them and a round mouth taking on Liam's oatmeal. ...Like I said, Cabin Fever hit hard.)
The Maven skipped the "rinse hold" cycle and let it spin out immediately, often letting it sit overnight, surely breaking an English Laundry Law as the clothes gathered more wrinkles than Law allows. For years on these visits, she has taken her laundry to the dryer in the garage. But the wind and the rain leaned her toward the more traditional drying apparatus: the Rack. For to the dryer -- for soft, foldable clothes -- didn't seem feasible in blustery 90 MPH gales. It was strange enough on a dry day heading out the back door with the mini-basket, through the gate, across the back garden, through the outer gate, unlocking the garage, opening it, flicking on the switch so electricity flowed to the dryer. Plus now, with all the rain, the path was crunchy with snails.
No, this time round, the Rack seemed less torturous. As if planned, the load that fit in the mini-basket fit in the washer and fit on the Rack. Preferably next to a radiator, overnight the clothes would get pretty dry. Before the Maven hung them on the Rack, she gave them an intense shake to knock out some of the wrinkles. Next stop: the airing cupboard. A cuddly warm little closet where the hot water heater lives all wrapped up in a thermal blanket. Yet another wooden Folded Rack stands in front of the heater. And this is the laundry's destination after the Rack.
Several hours in here completes the drying process. The Maven takes the clothes from the Folded Rack, carefully presses out more wrinkles with her hands before folding each item in half and meticulously draping them over the stand and closing the door. It's a kind of low-temp kiln. The next morning, Will says, "I can't find any pants." The Maven knows she has washed them, so she back tracks. Hanging on a radiator? On the Rack? Ahh, the hiding place: the Folded Rack in the airing cupboard. She emerges a hero as she shakes a few more wrinkles out and hands Will the warm pants.
And at that moment, she breaks English Laundry Law yet again: She did not iron the clothes that came out of the airing cupboard. But, no one suspects a thing. And the Maven has been doing this for a week without the True English Laundry Maven next door stealing dry laundry to iron. Really, the English Laundry Maven would much prefer the True English Laundry Maven put her feet up and have a cup of tea, for it's a bit strange to have your knickers ironed by your sister-in-law.