I’m Turning Green -(Maybe it was the chlorine bleach)

I have a little obsession to admit – I’m a full-blown laundry addict, and even worse than that –

I love a good public hanging…My vices are directly attributable to moving into a windy neighbourhood. The people are fine really, but the dogs and the chinooks do tend to howl. So I had this brilliant idea which came to me when I was standing in front of it at a garage sale: "Buy a laundry tree.” The Wind gods had spoken.

This tree had come unstrung, (I mean, who doesn’t at garage sales?) but for exactly three times what I paid for it, Canadian Tire sold me their line. Yes, I got a famous, "I’ll Start with You,” laundry line. This left me wondering just where they all were as I pulled out several kilometres of a not-so-innocent entanglement from the clear plastic bag. I thought I heard the wind, but it might have been the voices of the Canadian Tire ad couple whispering, "Are you Crazy? Do Not Try This at Home,” and "Sorry, no instruction, assembly not available in English or other language.” It could have just as clearly stated right on my receipt, "Good luck in tying one on”…and I would have bought booze with my Tire bucks.

With prayers to the persevering Wind gods, and once all the past, present and potential family members were disengaged from its arms, I began to witness a thing of beauty. Well, not really. It’s pretty ugly and the tree just stands there at the corner of the yard, doing nothing all day except holding out. But if you aren’t judgmental and let yourself get attached to it, like my clothes have done, you begin to understand that it is a true technological marvel of energy efficiency and three renewable resources – the sun, the wind and me – and that’s a beautiful thing.

We all know that housework is the bane of our modern existence. There’s so much time spent mindlessly, when we could be relaxing with our flat-screen TV’s and cell phones and computer games… But I know there are contrarians among us who regularly enjoy a good fridge clean-out (I call it making dinner) and weekend warriors who suck the dust-bunnies from their hidey-holes. Tame stuff. Me, I just love that heavy laundry experience. (For you men, think of this chore as the alluring one – there are plenty of wet T-shirts and you get to strip the beds – sounds sexy huh?) For me, it’s the equivalent of one of my son’s video games: the adrenaline rush of taking on the elements once again and the victorious thrill of capturing wayward shirts before they take flight and drag the rest of the cast-offs with them. Gotcha, you’re pegged again!

The wind is always whistling at me – it’s quite fresh – but my addiction is at its worst when the sun shows up. I’m thinking: "Save money. Hold the ‘Bounce.’ Save money. Hang out with Nature. Save money.” (Sometimes "Live Long and Prosper” sneaks in.) I start calculating how fast I can cold-water wash all the towels from every bathroom or the curtains from every room – I’ve become a Wash Cycle Surfer (I control the clicker AND I can hang ten…or twenty.) I also play mind games with the biodegradable soap – what’s the minimum amount I can add that will blow the manufacturer’s claims for load quantity right out of the water and still let socks live another day?

I have imposed some sanity measures on my frenzies. Similar to a 12 Step program, but even cleaner, the Rules of Laundry are:

Number one – Always full loads – even if I have to force people to strip down and give up their duds, (but usually I can just work the floor – a legal search and seizure operation.)

Number Two – Not every day is Wash Day. (So that’s why the songs all sing about the Wash Day Blues…Others suffer as I do!) This one really hurts, but water conservation is important too. Besides, people can wear things more than once – the old outside, inside, forwards and backwards manoeuvres still work.

Number Three – Keep it interesting for the neighbours. People always want to know where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing lately, so I try to give them a gallery to enjoy – "I see you’ve been biking/painting/barbecuing/having a night on the town/Wow, weekend without kids?” They should only see the rack I have for hanging indoor laundry…

Yes, it’s a choice I’m making – using a little more of my energy and a little less of the earth’s – especially the man-made kind of energy that costs us all in short-term power and fuel consumption, with long-term environmental ramifications. Free air and sunshine is always the best price. Plus, I think it’s a good example of using time-management skills and teaching a lesson in delaying self-gratification: "If you really have only ONE shirt that you can possibly wear, then all those other ones in your room are going to the Thrift Store…”

And at the end of the day, such a reward – fresh, crisp, sun-dried clothes and towels and sheets…have you smelled an aired-out teenager lately? (No ‘Febreze,’ just The Breeze.) I think it’s always good to have a line or two to use when your kids ask where their favourite jeans are. Mine is, "Have you checked outside?”

It’s where you’ll find me, and I’m pretty happy, just hanging out.