White After Labor Day

Have you noticed how quiet the Laundry Maven has been? She was busy last weekend.  It was the white load washed on Saturday night, to be dried Sunday morning, that made her head spin a bit.

In that load were two favorite pairs of summer trousers: khaki and white.  And as they went into the washer, she wondered if it was time to put the white ones into storage until spring.  Was it okay to wear white after Labor Day?  Sunday morning as she pulled clothes from the washer, the words “winter white” confirmed her decision: white would be perfectly fine to wear to church that morning.

Pulling out the pants, the Laundry Maven noticed a pea-sized black spot on the back of the pants.  Reaching for the stain remover, her mind easily switched to the idea of khakis for church.  It was a sign – no white today.

Mave turned the pants around to check the front and was confronted by multiple huge black blobs.  She instantly knew she had washed an ink pen.  From Will’s uniform shorts.  She hadn’t checked pockets.  And, she hadn’t told Will that she never checks pockets.

Timidly, Mave pulled item after item out of the washer and gave each a quick shake to check for more ink spots.  Nothing.  The two pair of uniform shorts came out.  Nothing.  Perfectly fine.

Bravely those white pants had sacrificed themselves and enveloped completely around that ink pen.  Bless them.  Their summer season ended as the school season began.

Mave felt incredibly lucky but sad.  The pants had only been worn a handful of times.  But the Malcolms are recyclers.  Will and Liam have grand ideas of turning them into puppets.  However, after looking through pictures from an outing to Cape Cod this summer, Mave may hand them off to the gardener in the house come spring.

Mave is checking pockets from now on.

Bath Towel or Rag?

When should a bath towel be retired to the rag bag? Which one of these is past its prime? Which is begging to be cut into 10 little rags, forever eliminating its chances of returning to the linen closet? Which is older?

Blue towel: circa 1984. Burgundy towel: circa 1994. Yes, really.

As I recall, in 1984, two of my great-aunts, sisters who married brothers, gave me high school graduation gifts that served me well in college and lasted long after my college graduation: a lavender umbrella, a medium-sized brown Tupperware bowl, a blue lap-desk, and a set of blue towels.

Today, those blue Made-in-America, 90% cotton/10% polyester towels are thin but not shredded like their circa 1994 counterpart. Generally, they are stored in the laundry room. I use them to scrunch excess water out of hand-washed bras & shin guards. On occasion, one wanders into the linen closet; more than once I’ve been thankful to see that 29-year-old towel on the shelf, for it covers more territory than a hand towel if all the clean, newer bath towels happen to be in the washer or dryer.

There was less territory to cover when I was in college, proven by the innocent picture taken from behind me as I was running down the dorm hallway clad only in one of these blue bath towels. These are bath towels, not bath sheets. The photographer had stripped my clothes out of the bathroom while I was in the shower. Yes, these towels hold powerful memories.

But still, they are old. My sister said they would be perfect for drying my niece’s hair, so I gave a couple to her. I only have one or two blue ones floating around here, but the Made-in-China, 100% cotton burgundy towel, circa 1994, will be chopped up long before the blue ones: my fingers get caught in the shreds of the burgundy one.

The towel population in my house is based on practicality. Do blue or burgundy match any of our bathroom colors now? No. But if you prove yourself useful, you have a good shot at staying in the Malcolm household for a very long time.

P.S. To my great-aunts: Thank you, nearly 30 years later, for those very useful gifts!  :)

Happy 4th Monday in a Row

Hello, who are you today? Is this a Hump Day-less week? I can’t bale over the hump. I’ve been in four Mondays slid together.

The Laundry Maven is a wreck searching for a black shirt because the only thing clean is a black bra. And that makes absolutely no sense because today it’s going to be sunny and 98 degrees with 97 percent humidity. Imagining a hormone-less woman dressed in black dripping with sweat as she stands outside on a beautiful, sunny day makes the Laundry Maven cringe.

The school volunteer can’t get traction on the ground and is flying like a hovercraft crashing into year-end activities and trying to avoid the 8 p.m. question, “You need a WHAT for tomorrow?”

The baseball and soccer mom… well, she never really did exist… but the stand-in is counting down the last few games and trying to orchestrate better management of baseball belts, gloves and hats. She scored BIG last night though with an ice cream run for end-of-practice treats. Maybe she can just be the ice cream Mom next year.

“MOM!! MOM!!” has given up on verbal directions and calls for action. If she wants something done, she posts bribery posters: “Surprise! If you clean out the van, empty the dishwasher, pick up the toy room, pick up your bathroom, and pick up your bedroom, you can have ½ hour of electronics this afternoon!” This is so effective she’s pounding her head on the wall for all the words she has been draining into a black hole. Plus, Surprise Posters are much easier to manage than bribery star charts for a week. More pounding as she thinks of all those star magnets in her jeans pockets that the Laundry Maven has pulled from the washer and dryer.

The short-order cook is looking for the right sign to post in the kitchen. Something to the effect of take it or leave it, but don’t complain about it. And, eat protein. It’s brain food and you are a mess when you have too much sugar. She hasn't quite gotten the wording down on that one yet.

Linda Malcolm is screaming, “Hey, you stole my day!” at all of them. She gets all in a tizzy when she can’t empty her mind on paper.

All of this… like grabbing a galloping horse’s mane as it flies by or sitting in the back car of a roller coaster with my heading beating side to side and pushing my earring posts into my skull. Yes, that’s more like it. Because that is where I close my eyes and scream for the duration.

But it’s coming… Can you feel it? All this build-up? The energy whizzing in the air? All this magic we parents are making happen?

Summertime. When the living is easy. Er. Theoretically.

Happy 4th Monday in a Row.

(When summer finally arrives, so does my Hillbilly Joe.)

MS Living vs LM Living

May 26, 2012 Dear Martha,

I can’t help but wonder if I shouldn’t subscribe to Martha Stewart Living again.  It’s been a challenging few weeks.  Could your advice have helped? In getting ideas for the addition on our house, I did pick up your issue titled something like “Everything Organized.”  How often do you dust all those open shelves or do you have a machine that just blows the dust off?  Do paper airplanes ever land in the plates?  Do kids ever use cups as target practice with rockets or balls?  Do you ever go to serve your soup and find a dead fly in a bowl?

What a great suggestion to tear out recipes and articles from magazines and place them in plastic pocket protectors in a 3-ring binder, rather than keep the whole magazine.  However, I couldn’t find my craft exacto knife to gently cut the pages out nor did I have time to run to Staples.  In the end, I shoved all the magazines into a box.

The Laundry Maven lost focus over the last few weeks with packing and getting ready for all the month’s adventures.  Unsure of your take on drying clothes, whether you prefer the dryer or clothesline drying.  I thought your readers might benefit from this tip:

If you wash a t-ball shirt Monday, anticipating the 6 p.m. game on Wednesday, but forget to dry that particular load until 5:33 p.m. Wednesday… well, it can be done, assuming you are driving to the game.  Put the shirt in the dryer on high for 10 minutes.  At minute 9, get the kids in the van – make sure the t-ball player is dressed in a similar colored shirt to the team shirt (just in case).  Get the shirt out of the dryer, windows down in the car, hold the shirt by the hem, and keep it inflated as you drive.  You may need to give it a shake occasionally to keep it full of air.  With an 8-minute drive, it will be dry enough to wear without the player feeling damp.

Pretty sure I saw your twin, or at least an avid MS Living reader, on the airport bus at 6:30 a.m. this morning.  I carried my youngest onto the bus in bare feet and mismatched pajamas.  While I wrestled his toes into yesterday’s socks and his shoes, the Iron Maiden’s littlest boy sat on her lap perfectly starched and bathed.  His roosters were evenly dispersed over his head, unlike my little guy’s random roosters.  Some day when he takes showers in the morning instead of baths at night, he too will have even roosters.

You know, I really don’t have time to read or live up to MS Living, but I think something like LM Living might give people more comfort in their realities… of living.


Linda Malcolm

Eat Your Frog

Love these Mark Twain quotes:

“If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will be wonderful.”

“If you have to eat a frog, don’t look at it for too long.”

At 6 a.m., the laundry maven went down to the laundry room; stumbled over the dirty clothes; sorted those into organized laundry piles; and put a load of laundry on.

That frog didn't taste too bad!

Happy Hump Day…

The Laundry Maven

The writer is in the house...and the house desperately needs the laundry maven.
The writer, looking for time to scoop up as her own, has been negotiating with the laundry maven. The writer believes she can cope with laundry by doing a load every other day.

When I opened Liam’s jean drawer on Wednesday morning, it was empty.
“You did the wrong load on Monday!” shrieks the laundry maven. That woman is downright crazy.

But I KNOW there is a pair of clean jeans here because Tuesday night I asked Liam to fold his jeans and put them in the drawer. We are trying hard to break the wear-it-once mode. The maven questioned Liam. He was clueless and confused and not concerned. “They are not in your drawer!” accused the laundry maven. We both looked and could find them nowhere – not in the dirty clothes basket, not on beds, not in the wrong drawer. We scrambled to the “wrinkled” basket and found a pair of sweats.

Anticipating the writer’s long overdue return, the laundry maven had been working overtime: First moving her mindset from having toddlers to having capable 6- & 8- year-old boys, then delegating responsibilities. The art of changing sheets can be enjoyed by the entire family, with the help of Bill’s long arms for beds against walls. The challenge of inside out clothes has been handled accordingly: However it goes into the wash is how it returns clean. The crew needed tips on handling inside out shirts, jeans, and underwear, but after a few practice sessions on solving these puzzles, it’s working with only occasionally tags on the outside.

After the Wednesday morning school shuffle, the maven returns to determine the most advantageous load of laundry.

Oh my dear lord, she can’t see the floor in the laundry room. Walking on the mounds, toward the washer, she begins the double sort. With Liam’s eczema, the boys’ clothes need to be washed separately without Downy. This doubles the number of loads to go through one cycle of Doing Laundry.

She digs through the bins. Grown-up jeans sorted on top of boy jeans! The mysteries of her world begin to unravel as she lifts the lid to toss in the boy jeans. But there’s a spun-out wet load in there. Sighing, she takes the headband from her jeans and pulls her hair back into a ponytail; then she mechanically opens the dryer to help the wet load continue its journey. Behind door #2 is a load of dry wrinkled clothes – boys’ darks. Translated, that means ten shirts and 300 little dark blue socks. Since it’s already wrinkled, it can easily be dumped into a laundry basket.

Honestly, why would she expect an empty laundry basket to be in the laundry room? The maven hand-carries the load to the guest bed and finds her way back to the laundry room by following a trail of little blue socks. At last, both machines are happily whirring away.

The laundry maven must retire as the chess club organizer needs to get to school. The laundry maven hands her a pair of sweatpants. “Remember? Will has karate before chess and you couldn’t find any sweatpants this morning.”

After chess, I herd the boys’ out of Will’s classroom and eye a rumpled pair of jeans lying in the middle of the floor. I recognize them as belonging to the Malcolm household. I snag the jeans and the laundry maven proudly smiles at my discovery. She does not like missing clothes. While the boys settle in the van, she picks up the jeans, turns them right-side out, and holds them up to fold them.

She’s stunned. Dazed. Confused. “Will… where did you get these?”

“I took them out of Liam’s drawer this morning. There weren’t any in my drawer.” The maven belly laughs and shakes her head, delighted that he is such a resourceful 8-year-old.

At home that night, the exhausted laundry maven hands the writer her pencil and journal. The writer looks at the blank page not knowing where to start.