So there I was, minding my own business, when I heard the washing machine cry for help.
Phillip had taken it upon himself to load the poor old thing down with his most giant shawl-collared shaker knit wool sweater (yes, I DID ask if he forgot who he was married to), jeans, towels, and, I think, a buffalo robe.
Not that I knew this. Yet. When the noise (death rattle) started, Phillip ran upstairs to see what was going on. I sensed a disturbance in the Force, but knit on, hoping for denial to take hold.
To his credit, Phillip did all he could to diagnose the washing machine's malady, and after an hour or so of alternating internet searches, user manual, and trial and error, he pronounced the washer sick/possibly dead.
I grudgingly went upstairs to assess the situation for myself, by which time Phillip had started the dryer and retreated to parts unknown. At about the same time I realized he'd become scarce, several things began to eminate from the dryer:
1. High-Pitched Screeching
2. Acrid Smoke
There is no description for the range of feelings you have when there is WATER pouring out of your dryer, but my first clear thought was this: My husband is trying to kill me and make it look like an accident. That has to be what is happening, because nobody in the world would put SOPPING WET laundry (washer quit before the spin cycle) directly into the dryer.
Lucky for me, our electrical panel is right in the laundry room. With a clarity of purpose brought on by adrenaline, I threw the breaker for the dryer, shutting it off. With smoke still pouring out the back of the machine, I waded into the puddle which had formed in front of the dryer. I took a cleansing breath and opened the dryer door, at which time several things began to pour out:
2. Bad language
3. REALLY bad language
Phillip reappeared, asking innocently what the ruckus was about. While he did admit that overloading the washing machine was probably a bad move, and washing a wool sweater was an extremely bad move, he honestly could not conceive of how filling an electric dryer with several gallons of water might be a problem. He assured me that the dryer would be fine if only I would (I swear I am not making this up) "Let it rest for a while". Right. Because everyone knows that major appliances can regenerate, if you just let them REST.
I told him the toaster was looking stressed and probably would enjoy taking a bath with him. It may not have been my finest moment.
I am convinced that the fact that I thought to throw the breaker is the only reason I didn't get electrocuted. And I just keep imagining the story turning up in the Darwin Awards, and everybody thinking it was ME who was a laundry-impared dumbass.
Next we went to the appliance store and opened up a vein. The good news was that for the low low price of exactly all of our money, the nice man there hooked me up with an extremely sexy new top-loader, with a gigantic load capacity. And an equally sexy matching dryer. The bad news was that this was a Sunday, and they couldn't deliver the new machines (or haul off the carcasses of the old ones) until Wednesday. Which meant that in addition to having our fragile laundry "system" completely crushed, I would also have to do some work in the laundry room that I've been cleverly avoiding for nine years. I'd never forgive myself if I didn't take the opportunity to replace the torn crappy vinyl flooring in there, and paint the walls. How often do you get two whole days with no machines in the laundry room? Never. There was no getting out of it, so we moved the washer and dryer into the only nearby open space: Our Bedroom floor. Super convenient! Operation Relentless Dustbin kicked into high gear.
Since I was doing all the work (No thanks, Dear; You've done enough already), I decided it would be okay if I got a little self-indulgent. After all, I am the primary occupant of the laundry room, and I think I deserve to finally have it reflect my personal style. And for that matter, since I don't have any other room in the house to call my own, I made the paradigm shift to take charge of the space, rather than dreading going in there. I asked myself what really has been my worst problem with the laundry room, aside from the way people are always putting dirty clothes in there. That was it, really: I have never had a good way of dealing with the heaps of staged washing that four people and two dogs generate.
With the help of Campbell (who is fantastic at imagining things that don't exist yet), I brainstormed about it, and decided that what we really needed was a way to wall-mount a bunch of baskets, next to the washer. Once that solution clicked into place, I was off and running. Here's what I did:
Tension-mounted shelving from IKEA can be easily removed if the machines ever need to move. God help me. The new baskets from Target are labeled by color, so the dirty incoming laundry can be sorted by those who are dropping off. Ever notice how laundry bins are only ever labeled "Lights" and "Darks"? Lame. I sort the colors like this: White, Black, Blue, Tan, Red.
And speaking of color, the paint is "Charisma" from Sherwin Williams, which I love, and Phillip was smart enough not to share his opinion of. I also used up the remainder of the vinyl flooring which I used in the bathrooms. And while I was at it, I painted the cabinets, replaced the knobs and the hideous florescent light fixture with this one, installed the new and improved lost-mate-sock holding pen, and even added this little number:
Finally! A place to hang up the things that shouldn't go in the dryer (sopping wet buffalo robes notwithstanding). And because I know you'll ask, the little framed sign says this:
So even though it started with a catastrophe, I think I finally managed to land butter-side-up. And it's a good thing my sexy new machines are so much larger than the old ones.
I might need a place to hide the body.