Wednesday, July 14, 2010

the things you learn

There have been lots of things I have learned since I stopped working full time and hang around the house more than in the past.

I've learned how very often there are things in the sink that either need washed by hand or rinsed and put in the dishwasher. Of course, there probably weren't as many then and now since I've settled into a pattern of 4 or 5 small meals rather than 3 big ones.

And I've learned how enormous our dishwasher really is. It's pretty new and has a great deal more capacity than our old one--not to mention that the top rack had broken in the old one and we could only load dishes and glasses and cups and bowls in the bottom rack. The current dishwasher holds almost all the dishes we use on a regular basis and even though I use many more than I used to it takes at least two and a half days to have enough packed in it to run it.

I've learned that their is a time-cost to energy saving appliances. Our clothes washer is as big as our dishwasher and both take an enormous amount of time to do dishes using less water. Go figure that. The dishwasher takes 3 hours and 4 minutes to cycle on 'heavy'. And though I always set the clothes washer on the 28 minute--fastest cycle--I timed it the other day and it took over an hour to clean my clothes and spin them to nearly dry using a cup and a half of water or whatever.

I used to wash clothes every other day or so since I usually have only one of two pairs of jeans and like to wear them a lot. The new clothes washer wants to be packed to the gills before it is started--actually, if you can believe the hype--cleans clothes better when fully packed....who knows.

I've learned how few clothes I have. I have two pairs of jeans, two pairs of khakis, two short sleep button up shirts and maybe two dozen or so tee shirts in many colors. I have maybe three long sleeve button up shirts but they aren't much use in this weather. I do have a lot of socks but they are all winter, bulky things and equally useless in July. I have two suits which I hardly ever wear. I used to wear them only for funerals.

Once I had on a suit and socks and real shoes (I only have one pair of those) at a funeral. A guy named Brian was kidding me about being dressed up. I told him, "Mary was suit worthy....You might consider whether in living your life you are being funeral suit worthy...." Not a bad moral standard, I'd say.

Anyhow, I don't have a paucity of clothes through any conscious choice. I simply don't like to buy clothes--the process of trying things on and such makes me anxious--so it is little wonder that the things I have most of (winter socks and tee shirts) are things that can be purchased without trying them on.

Since I like to wear the same things often--jeans and a red tee shirt and a denim short sleeve shirt or khakis and a black or blue tee shirt and a long-sleeve white shirt with the sleeves rolled up--I would wash clothes every other day or so in the old machine that took about 10 minutes to wash clothes in enough water to supply a village for a week. Progress has overtaken me and I usually run out of the clothes I like to wear before I have enough to fill the clothes washer as tightly as it wishes to be filled. I find myself wearing weird things by the time I gather up all the dirty towels to supplement my clothes and fill the washer for an hour wash cycle.

I am strangely unsatisfied by the advances (good for the environment certainly) in washing things.

(Every year or so--though I never kept track--I will wear out one or the other of my jeans and be forced to go buy some. I've been known to gather clothes at a place like Bob's, carry them to the fitting room and then be so overcome with ennui that I simply left them on their hangers and fled the store. One, a few years ago, I wore out both pairs of jeans at the same time--well, they weren't so much 'worn out' as torn in unfixable places. So I found two new pairs exactly alike and bought them. Those twin jeans were one of the minor joys of my life until Bern told me they weren't presentable any more.)

I actually wonder, from time to time, why we need such a variety of clothes choices. Rather than large stores I'd like to shop in a tiny store that carried jeans and khakis in different sizes but all the same design, long-sleeve and short-sleeve shirts in denim, white, blue and blue stripped and a bin load of winter socks. And I wish when a pair of shoes needed replacing you could mail them back to the manufacturer and they would send you a new pair exactly like the old ones. (I've worn the same style of Birkinstock sandals for 10 years or so. They're called "Arizona' for some reason and have all been tan. I kept the last box for about a year and a half now so I can get the exactly same thing when these wear out or start stinking to high heaven.)

But, I know, intellectually, that if everyone was like me houses wouldn't need walk in closets and Macy's--all those places--would go out of business throwing many people out of jobs and leaving gaping holes in shopping malls.

Oh, I do have a half-dozen sweaters--five of them some shade of blue or gray and one bright yellow one. Most of them used to belong to a friend of mine's father and she gave them to me when he died.

That's a bizarre thought: I could tell the funeral directors I know to call me when someone my approximate size dies (I actually like clothes larger than necessary) and I could contact their family....No that's too macabre even for me....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.