The Laundry Maven: Up in Arms... Again

The Laundry Maven is up in arms. She’s lost control of her domain. It all started with the family week-long ski trip to Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont over February break. Before we left for skiing, garments and gear were strategically laid out for each person on a dining room chair. Ordered chaos reigned. After each person checked off items, including duplicates as necessary, on his or her list – ski gloves, wool socks, balaclava, goggles, helmet, snow pants, snow boots, ski boots, ski jacket, long underwear top, long underwear bottom, and sweatshirts – he or she packed his or her own ski bag. Bill made sure each skier had a set of skis and poles in the van. The system hummed.

Adults and kids each packed separate cases for indoor clothing: sweats, long-sleeved t-shirts, socks, pjs, jeans, underwear, sweaters and the like. The Laundry Maven tucked in the Malcolm’s special chemical-free laundry detergent, just in case a load of laundry would need to be done. Honestly, she made sure there were enough clean clothes packed that the family could get through the week without her help.

Skiing conditions were a little challenging: rain in the air resulted in ice on the slopes. The boys were troopers; they skied every day but one. I skied two days, plus one run the third day. On that run, my confident muscles seized up as my skis ran over ice chunks on my green runs. It was like skiing down a gravel road where fresh gravel had been dumped and left thick to settle. At the bottom of the run, I kicked off the skis. I was stunned, unsure what to do next. I had watched one tall man take a huge fall and drop his pole 10 feet uphill from where he landed. I thought I should help but knew that if I tried to scoot his pole to him I would land on him. His ski buddy was gingerly pecking her way down the mountain to him – better she land on top of him than me. I texted Bill: I’ve taken off my skis and I’m going to the bookstore in town.

The unit we stayed in had a long, wide entryway and was covered in Berber carpet. We would eject the ski boots first just inside the door, together with gloves and helmets; then we would meander toward the wall hooks and hang up ski jackets and ski pants. From there, layers of ski clothes were dispersed throughout the living room and the bedrooms. Wet stuff, if lucky ended up near the fireplace to dry overnight.

After the first day, I noticed how much easier it was to get this crew together this year. Our first February break ski trip was three years ago. Since then, Will has joined a ski club at school so is now quite capable of putting on his own gear. He was independent in the morning preparing to go out. With Liam, we worked out that he needs to be kept cool and comfortable until the last possible moment: carrying his helmet like a basket with balaclava and gloves tucked inside, unlike the other three of us who fully geared up before taking the shuttle to the mountain.

In all my mountain splendor, this is me and the black thing covering my face continues as a tight fitting hood under my helmet -- it's a balaclava. Sometimes that comes out baklava when I try to say it. Totally different items.

On the last day, we needed to clear out of the unit before 10 a.m. which was when the boys’ lessons started. Bill took the boys. The Laundry Maven grabbed the two suitcases. Instead of dividing clothes between adults and kids, luggage on the return trip would be divided between clean and dirty. She had left one open suitcase in the closet of each bedroom for dirty clothes to be deposited throughout the week. In wonder, she discovered a few pair of dirty underwear and one pair of black socks in the boys’ suitcase. That’s all. A search through their bedroom – under sheets and the dresser – only shook out two more pair of black socks. A swing through the bathroom rooted out more: swimsuits, sweats, and shirts.

The abundance of clean clothes still in the dresser drawers was… numerically incorrect. Particularly eight pairs of clean black socks. But never mind – they had been very independent young men on this trip. The fact that they had worn mostly the same clothes for five days… This was a ski holiday. In Vermont. Not Vale.

Back at home we unloaded the van into the hallway, an entryway a bit narrower than where we stayed in Vermont. All ski gear and wet, wet outer wear went to the laundry room. It seemed like a good idea at the time, for the Laundry Maven thought it best to wash everything that had been worn on the slope, outer and inner garments. Even spraying foot deodorizer in eight pairs of boots and washing goggles in warm soapy water.

With the first load coming out of the washer, the Laundry Maven unfolded the wooden rack and blocked the hallway with it.  Nobody likes the wooden rack in the Malcolm house.  However, since the Laundry Maven was washing wool and other thick garments, it needed to come out, so we are trying to be patient.

But on Day 4 of being home, we are all getting a little fed-up with the drying rack. And the Laundry Maven. She’s grumpy, and she’s not getting the job done very efficiently.

Thank goodness it's Hump Day. Maybe she'll have it all together by the time the weekend rolls around, and Bill returns from China. Now that's the man who genuinely dislikes the rack; perhaps it's a cultural thing. In England, these big wooden creatures are generally kept in the airing cupboard.

(How well the Laundry Maven remembers doing laundry across the pond... The English Laundry Maven.)