I made a new friend today. Candy is her name and she’s my washing machine. To be honest, she’s a friend in the same way that Freddo was to Michael in the Godfather. Oh the betrayal!
I was quite thrilled when I discovered a washing machine in this apartment. What could be better? I hadn’t had one in New York and so it seemed the height of luxury. I’d wondered briefly why my landlady Giuliana had covered the washing machine with a dainty doily. It turned out to be a discreet warning. Look under here if you dare. Well, after a week of wearing the same jeans, and Cinder wanting to be under my duvet since it’s been cold here, I decided we needed to tackle laundry. I opened the lid of the washing machine (lavatrice), then closed it again. After my second double take, I studied the apparatus more closely. Candy had a locked metal drum inside her. This was unlike any washing machine I’d ever seen. I looked at the bottle of detergent I’d purchased and debated just hand washing things. But did I really want to be hand washing clothes for the rest of my life? I’d moved to Italy, not the frontier.
Screwing up my courage, I studied the knobs and levers that ostensibly would make Candy work. A brief consult with Laura confirmed that 40 degrees would be hot enough for most things and for me to choose whatever setting I wanted. Uh huh! No problem.
With Cinder looking on with some concern as I gamely stripped the bed and sorted our clothes into whites and darks, it was finally time to make Candy’s acquaintance. After two or three attempts at opening the metal drum, I succeeded and proceeded to stuff in my sheets and whites. Where to put the detergent was another matter of concern as there were four different slots that were potential candidates. I chose the one that had crusted detergent in it, leftover no doubt from the last occupant to use this machine back in the 50s, and closed up Candy and hit the button.
Candy began to growl in a disturbing way. This wasn’t good. Cinder ventured off the couch to find out what had invaded our house. After a minute or so of listening for water to whoosh into the machine, I realized Candy was growling because Giuliana hadn’t turned the water on. I did this and was rewarded with a sound I at least recognized. “We’re in business,” I told Cinder.
Then I waited. And waited. It took Candy over an hour to complete her cycle. And the results weren’t pretty. It might have been because the water hadn’t had a chance to run that things looked slightly rusty, or because I put the detergent in the wrong space, but our first load was not exactly what I’d call clean. I took out the few towels that I knew had been clean already as they’d just been used in my boxes for protecting valuables and set them aside. Pretty much everything else would have to be done again.
I ran out to do some errands before attempting what was obviously going to be a lengthy project!
On the second run, I put the detergent right in with the clothes and gave Candy some words of encouragement. I put about half the amount of clothes inside and then waited.
Success. Kind of. Candy has obviously met her match when it comes to removing short Cinder Winifred hairs from my belongings, but everything smelled good, so I deemed it optimo!
But we weren’t done yet, as now it was time for me to try out the clothesline hanging outside my window. I’d been studying the way my neighbors had been doing this for days. Jeans were hung upside down, check. Towels and sheets had about a 1/4 of their length over the wire. Can do! I put out my first items and then kept returning to the window to make sure they were still hanging there. They were. I’d wondered why my neighbors seemed to be hanging laundry every day, but soon realized it’s because you can only fit a few things on the line. I’d have to be satisfied with one load a day. I looked to the sky which was sunny and almost cloudless. With any luck my things would be gently dried by the Tuscan wind and be ready by nightfall. That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see how it goes.
I spared a thought for the ironing board and iron that Giuliana had proudly pointed out to me, then dismissed it. Doing laundry is one thing, but let’s not get carried away!