breaking things… breaking things


It was imperative that I do the laundry. Eric had just come back from hiking up the hill with a bucket full of pheasant feathers and heads and necks and gizzards, leaving them there for the coyotes, or for the turkey vultures always hovering.

Saturday we had come home and at our backdoor were two pheasants laying on the picnic table. Gifts from my Uncle. So Eric put on his man boots and field-dressed them (which really is a very nice way of saying the not-so-nice things that need to be done to animals in order to eat them). He brought the meat in to me when he was finished. And then he went up the hill. When he came back he was covered with ticks -and by covered I mean one. There was one tick. But in my mind there had to be more, so I made him strip off his clothes and put them directly into the washing machine and he went directly into the shower.


The next day when I tried to start washing machine I pushed the timer and it caved in. It just snapped completely off and was dangling inside the plastic and metal housing. And then I distracted myself from this bad news by making soap. When I got to the part where I needed to grind my herbs, adding our hops and dried grapefruit peels together in the grinder, the motor burnt out. Or it didn’t. All I know is the hops and grapefruit peels just spun around and around in circles like they were on the spin cycle.


There were two strikes against me and for a moment I felt sorry for myself. But then I realized that it would have been much worse if I had broken my shovel and all four of my back-up shovels. Or if I had dropped my camera. Or stepped on my computer (I did that once, but it was a light step, like when you step on your pet’s tail. I’ve never stepped on my pet’s tail, but my sister stepped on my goldfish. That was a difficult morning).

So really, washing machine…not a big deal. And in the grand scheme of life…not even on the radar. But then I started looking at how much washing machines cost. Holy cow! And then I remembered when Eric and I had our first apartment together and I used to wash our clothes in the bathtub with a very long wooden spoon and I imagined I was Carol Burnett, except without the gin and without the lingerie, and most importantly, without all of the orphans. And then I remembered when Eric and I lived in Thailand and I used to wash our clothes in a bucket on the street and the wild dogs would come by after I dumped out the sudsy water and drink it. And the lizards would scatter from their hiding places so they wouldn’t drown. But we don’t have a bathtub or a very large bucket, except for one with a hole in it, which really isn’t very good for bathing or washing much of anything, dear Liza.


But our problem is solved because Eric is so friendly and resourceful! He found someone on the internet who was selling a washing machine for a price that was too good to be true. And this too good to be true person also wanted our old broken washing machine. And he wanted our dryer (which I have been using for 8 years as an ugly place to store our towels because even though I no longer wash my clothes in the bathtub, I still like to hang them in the bathroom).


It seemed impossible that a person such as this would exist, and I was quite skeptical. Until he showed up last night at our house with his pick up truck and we discovered that he was a baby-faced 17 year old who did this for fun and for extra money. Really he wants to be a diesel engine mechanic when he grows up, but for now he fixes other people’s broken washing machines and resells them for a profit. And it made me burst with pride and joy as if I were this kid’s own mother. He spoke so expertly and sounded like he was going on 70. Before he’d even seen my machine he knew what brand it was based on what I said was broken.  He told us about where he gets his parts and which appliance stores give him old machines for free. And about the jobs where old ladies make him move a new machine up three flights of tight winding stairs only to discover that their floor is crooked and that’s why the old washing machine was shaking and why the new one does too.


This new-old machine that James sold us works so well that I missed the spin cycle completely because it was so quiet. I just realized that I sound like I’m 65. But really. It made me see just how sort-of-bad our old machine was. Someday, when it’s time to replace this new-old machine, I will remember when I used to wash my clothes in the bathtub. And I will remember when I used to wash the clothes in the bucket near the thirsty wild dogs. And I will remember our old washing machine that used to make so much noise and shake so much that I had to move all of the glass jars off of the shelves in the bathroom, and clutch the machine with all of my might during the spin cycle so that it didn’t dance me across the room.

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