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Monday, February 08, 2010

Laundry Day

Mary Kay writes:

One of my friends, Jamie, is a true southern writer, blogging and writing about life in small-town Georgia. I love reading her blogs, as she has such a similar outlook on life to mine, but she is much funnier! And it helps me to feel connected to friends and life back in the US.

This week was priceless. She wrote about laundry day, and her daughter’s request that they go green by getting rid of the washing machine and dryer. Charlie and I got a kick out of this! While Jamie researched 1930s laundry practices in the US, it could easily have been 2010 in Ghana! Laundry is still done by hand here, and most Ghanaians we know would love to have a washer and dryer, and the heck with the carbon footprint!

We personally don’t make our own soap, but my NGO trains women on how to make it to sell for extra family income. We use shea butter, palm oil and commercial caustic, rather than lye from wood ash, but it is still basically the same – and a hot messy process!

Laundry day- we have a washing machine that works – sometimes. If the power is on. And if the water is flowing.

Then everything gets hung out on the line. The first couple of times, I had the romantic memories of being a small child and helping my mom hang the laundry. I love the sound of snapping out the sheets to get them straight before hanging. And the smell and feel of the fresh, damp laundry. Playing hide-and-seek among all the sheets. But, after the laundry all gets re-soaked in the sudden afternoon downpour that you didn’t see coming… Or your whites turn a dingy grey because of all the smoke and dust in the air… Well, maybe a dryer would be nice.

Then comes the ironing – not because we really care about being neatly pressed, though everything is cotton and needs to be ironed. But there is a lovely mango fly that lays its eggs in cotton clothing. Then once the clothing is put on, your body heat hatches the eggs and the larvae will burrow under your skin to live and grow, until they come popping out like in Alien. Fortunately, the heat from ironing will kill the eggs, so everything gets ironed – even your underwear.

The only thing I can say is, “Thank goodness labor is cheap here and I don’t have to do the laundry!” It is basically half to two-thirds of our housekeeper’s job to keep up with our laundry. The remainder of her time is spent in mopping the house every day to keep the dust under control.

So, Jamie, tell your daughter she is welcome to come visit and do laundry at our house anytime she wants to reduce her carbon footprint!