Monday, March 25, 2013

I Got Those Low Down, Mopping Water, Monday Morning Wash Machine Blues

I Got Those Low Down, Mopping Water, Monday Morning Wash Machine Blues

Almost a year ago my washing machine started to lose its bearings. I first noticed the noise. My nearly new washing machine began to rumble-grumble like an antique steam tractor. The agitator sounded agitated. The spin cycle cycled like a dervish. Once it got up to speed the quivering machine tried to buck out of its stall in the laundry room. I did my due diligence, made phone calls, talked with washer repairmen who told me the bearings were going kaput.

“But it’s only six years old,” I protested.

“Oh, well, yeah, plastic bearings. You know. Plastic.”

So I asked the repairman, “How do I know when it’s totally broken down?”

“Water all over the floor.”


I shopped. Checked top load versus front load. Modern versus conventional. Big bucks versus wash tub and scrub board. I had nearly settled my mind on an old-fashioned wringer washer. I calmed down and decided to keep the one I had until the bugger died. I’d think about it tomorrow.

I eeked out another year of service from my gasping machine. At times, while it racketed around the room, I considered going to the Laundromat for peace and quiet.

One day last week, when I went to my downstairs bathroom to shower, I stepped into a puddle of water in the middle of the rug. Coincidentally, the upstairs bathroom where I tub bathe is above the downstairs bathroom. I mopped up the water and propped the rug to dry. I figured maybe the drain in the horse trough I plumbed in for a tub upstairs was leaking. So I decided to refrain from tub baths until the drain was fixed, maybe by a real plumber. I further figured the water must have found its way through the hole covered by the light fixture and onto the rug. These were not real thoughts but more like fleeting impressions. Strangely, I didn’t bother to look up—up at the ceiling.

A couple days later I noticed that the light fixture in the bathroom downstairs had a strange look, like it might be full of bugs or something. David and Vidya had arrived for the Seed Show so I asked David if he would take down the fixture so I could clean out the bugs. “It’s full of water,” he said as he climbed down balancing the globe like a fish bowl. And it was, full to the top with rusty, scummy, mineral-rich several-day-old water.

Still not putting two and two in a row (math was never my strength), I then asked him to re-caulk the tub drain, which he did in generous gobs. Leak now, you sucker. He also re-attached the downstairs light fixture once it had dried.

Fast forward: my company left, I put a load of sheets in the washer. Once the racket stopped, I walked into the laundry room to shift sheets from washer to dryer. In my sock feet I splashed through a small lake. Two and two suddenly equaled four. I raced downstairs to a sure-enough waterfall cascading from the light fixture.

I called a friend whose wife generously allows him to help women in distress. He came over, put a bucket beneath flood phase two, this time the rinse cycle deluge, and removed the globe and fixture. He handed me the two light bulbs. You know that tinny part on the small end of the bulb, the part that screws into the contraption to accept the electricity, that part was eaten through with corrosion.

An epiphany moment! A horrifying moment! A light-bulb moment! All those days from when the globe first filled with water until now, every single one of those days, my guests and I had used the downstairs bathroom, with the lights on, of course. At any one moment the house could have caught fire and burned down around our ears. (Do wet wires burn? Would the water have dowsed the fire? Spare me the physics.)

I drove down to Charlie’s Lumberyard and bought a new light fixture. Then I made a phone call to order another machine. Reluctantly I discarded my notion to buy a wringer washer and bought another conventional top loader.

“It’s criminal that my washer lasted only seven years,” I told the owner of the store.

“Some last five. Some will go for twenty. Plastic bearings.” He shrugged.

I stuffed my new washer full of towels, the towels that I had used to sop up the water from my failed machine, and pushed go. I’ll find someone to install my new light fixture downstairs. Meanwhile I’ll shower in the dark, glad to still have a house to shower in, glad to have a water-tight washing machine, at least for a few years.

Sondra Ashton

HDN: Looking out my back door

March 21, 2013

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