Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For the Laundry in My Basement

Well, hello big piles of laundry.  I am assuming you are all here as a consequence of the boys cleaning their rooms this weekend.  I haven't seen some of you in quite awhile.  And a few of you are new.  So, here's a little orientation brought to you by the Laundry Queen.

If I put you into a specific pile, I want you to stay there.  If you happen to be a white sock, for example, please don't inch your way over to the pile of red clothes, no matter how desperately you want to be pink.  In this house, I am the only one who wears pink socks, and I like my socks to fit MY feet.  A very large pink sock is pretty much guaranteed a position in the dust cloth bag.  Don't make me do that to you.

Some of you have an unpleasant odor.  This is not your fault.  You did your job.  You covered up feet and armpits and other such body parts of boys who REALLY enjoy life.  You have been through mud puddles and lawn-mowing.  You have been in running shoes and cowboy boots.  You have been the foundational layer in a day's worth of clothing changes--from school to work to home to bed.  Be proud of the job you've done.  And don't worry about your odor.  I am the Laundry Queen.

I rule the laundry room.  The big pile of denim does not.  Yes, it is, by far, the gang with the most members.  (The Levi Strauss family still sends us thank you notes for putting their children through college.)  But might does not make right.  The denim pieces still have to go through the same process as the rest of you--no preferential treatment.  In fact, denim often endures a longer cycle through the washing machine, definitely tumbles around longer in the dryer, and rarely gets the nice fabric softener.  So don't be intimidated by the mass of denim.  It, too, will be cleaned.

There is special treatment for my clothes.  I am the queen.  Get over it.

Some of you Old Timers (like the towels we received as wedding gifts) may remember men's dress shirts and slacks and may be wondering where those went.  There is another laundry place, much bigger than anything you've seen, where other dress shirts and slacks go to be cleaned.  The very nice people at the cleaners do a great job on these clothes, and I am a much more pleasant person when I don't have to try to iron that nice crease into clothes which are not natually pre-disposed to having creases put in them.  The rest of you should be thankful we don't like EVERYTHING to have nice creases. 

Don't be jealous of anything with a price tag hanging off of it.  We all age, and newer does not always mean better.  For example, older sheets and towels are much more comfortable than new ones.  You older ones have been around.  You've seen more.  You know more.  Some of you have dried off and warmed little boys who left a ring of dirt in the tub.  Some of you have been used as a t-shirt for the dad of the house and then as a night shirt for a boy, and now as a t-shirt again for guys who no longer wear night shirts to bed.  Some of you have clothed all 3 boys (some of you even more boys than that before you came to live with us).  Oh, and about those tags, don't be fooled.  I don't pay full price for anything, as you well know.  I didn't for you.  I didn't for them.

There is a relatively new pile in the room. Some of you have noticed this pile and seem to be in awe. You seem to whisper in the presence of these clothes and exhale slightly when they are taken from the laundry room cleaned, folded, and stacked. That pile of green- and khaki-colored camouflage won't be with us this time next year. Someone else will be responsible for cleaning those clothes. Whoever that is, I hope they remember to remove the pens from the sleeve pocket, the Bible from the other sleeve pocket, and the multiple tools from the belt. I hope they look at that hard-earned rank patch and that set of wings and realize just how far that particular soldier has come. And when those clothes come back here again, we will gladly welcome them into our laundry world, and we will be thankful they are here.

To all of you, please know that I appreciate that you clean and dry and cover our bodies.  When I get through with you, you will be clean. More than likely, you will end up back on a teenager's floor, filthy, next to the laundry hamper, destined to stay on the floor until the next Clean Your Room Before Mom Has an Aneurysm Day. This is your circle of life.  You may feel underappreciated, and I can understand that.  It may seem that you are mistreated and taken for granted.  All I can tell you is this:  When you're feeling sorry for yourself, look around and gain some perspective.  At least you're not a shoe.

P.S.  As a kindness to all, I did not include pictures.  You are welcome.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Love/Hate Relationship With my Printer

Technology and I are not the best of friends.

For example, I blew up a computer one time.  Not with explosives--merely with my presence.  Perhaps it preferred self-destruction over even one more day of me blaming it for losing my documents or for not doing what I told it to do.  But, in the spirit of total honesty, I must tell you that I talk to my computer and believe that what I tell it to do (using my voice) should take precedence over what I tell it to do with my fingers pushing the wrong keys.  Who decided those were the wrong keys, anyway?  And why can't my computer just understand what I want it to do without me having to tell it in the right ways?  (Did anyone need any proof that computers are male?)

And then there's the printer.  The last time I had to buy a printer was several years ago, about this time of year.  I was ready to print our tax return when Original Printer said, "Um, no.  I'm not going to do that.  I am tired.  You don't let me print pretty things, just boring documents.  And I think that USB cord makes me look fat."  (Did anyone need any proof that printers are female?)

So I replaced it, and Replacement Printer served me well.  I could print from my camera.  I could print from my SD card.  I could even, and this is really amazing, print from my computer.  I could make copies.  I could scan stuff.  And, by golly, it was kind of pretty.

The Replacement Printer/owner relationship wasn't without its own set of issues.  For instance, for whatever reason,  it would occasionally re-install its own software and rename itself.  When I would get ready to print something, I had to scroll through the list of printers to see which name we were now using (we got up to "Copy 6").  And then it decided it would no longer print economically--only best quality for Replacement Printer.  Not that most people would think that disastrous.  It's just that 99% of what I need to print is stuff that will be recycled as soon as that project is over.  Oh, and do you have to feed pages into your printer one sheet at a time so that it will work?  Well, toward the end, I did.  Yes, that's how committed I was to the relationship.

And then tax season came again.  Because I am self-employed and my office is in our home, our tax return is about 73 pages long.  Seriously?  I thought about standing there, feeding one sheet at at time through Replacement Printer, and I decided it was time for a New One. 

I can promise you that Replacement heard me talking about New One.  Suddenly, Replacement would print more than one page at a time AND on the economy setting.  I began to doubt the whole New One plan.  I thought about how I was going to return New One to its cozy shelf at the manufacturer.  I even thought about buying a new ink cartridge for Replacement Printer--perhaps even the tri-color kind.

And then, with no warning whatsoever, Replacement Printer resumed its nasty way of printing what it wanted to print, the way it wanted to print.  No more economy setting.  No more printing multiple pages.  In fact, it quite suddenly decided to offer me four mangled sheets of paper for every one it printed correctly. 

Well, New One is now installed (not without a bit of difficulty, mind you).  Apparently, they are very serious about doing the installation IN THE CORRECT ORDER. Whatever.

When Dale came home that night, I asked him to take the old Replacement Printer down to the basement, but to keep it in its upright position just in case I have to use it again.  Yes, my new printer is brand new, but you just never know.  Technology and I don't always get along.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bring it On, Spring

I'm not certain, but I think I've never anticipated Spring more than I did this year.  I really try to not complain too much about the weather for 2 reasons:
1.  I cannot do anything about it. (There.  I've admitted it.  I do not control everything. But don't tell my kids.)
2.  The weather is always worse somewhere else. 

This year, however, I broke my own no whining policy.  This year, winter lasted for about a decade.

It's not that I don't appreciate winter.  I love snow.  I love getting snowed in.  I even enjoy driving in snow.  And, to me, there are few things more beautiful than a blanket of snow covering everything.  It's like a fresh start for life, and it inspires me in so many ways.

And I would much rather it be cold outside than hot.  I can dress in layers for the cold.  There's only so much one can take off in the heat and still have friends.  Plus, as a woman in menopause, I find that I don't need so many warm clothing layers as I have my own furnace thing going on with the hot flashes.

But this year, snow was about all I could see for a long time.  And we were snowed in a lot.  And not very many people here really know how to drive in the snow.  And I came down with a really bad case of it's-been-too-long-since-we've-seen-the-sun.

By the time Spring Break rolled around, I was ready to get out of the house.  A trip to the beach would have been nice.  A trip to the Southwest would have been great.  You could have sold me a trip to just about anywhere that held a good possibility of sunshine.  Where did I go?  To a place that always equals peace for me:  the home where my husband was raised.

My in-laws live farther south than we do, and their Spring is almost always about 10 days to 2 weeks ahead of ours.  It can still be winter at my house, but things will be starting to bloom in their neck of the woods. From the Bradford pear trees standing as sentinels along the driveway, irises poking through at their roots, to the tulip tree near the garage, to the wisteria on the fence, to the dogwood in the yard--they beckon me into their world.  It's like they are reminding me that winter cannot last forever and that Spring is imminent.  It's like they are reminding me of that thing I hold so dear: HOPE.

Now, do I rely on the weather for my hope? Of course not. And do I think Spring is the only season where hope blooms or that hope is dependent on the weather?  A resounding NO.  But after the long winter we just had, after a rough year in this economy, after a few life-altering decisions were made, change is welcome.  This time, it just happens to be in the form of Spring.

So, bring it on, Spring.  Woo me with your sunny days and mild temper-atures.  Beckon me with the smells of fresh mown grass and cleansing Spring rains.  Lull me to sleep at night with your cool temperatures and the breeze blowing through my not-yet-leafed-out trees.  Welcome me each day with the woodpecker in my neighbor's tree and the squirrels who are once again taking up residence in my backyard just to spite my dogs.  I enjoy you each year, but you're special to me this time.  You've reminded me of hope.