Wednesday, September 22, 2010

French Laundry

The laundry system at our house in France has always been a sore point with me. Since we don’t have a yard or garden to string a clothesline, we either must hang the clothes indoors or use the dryer. The dryer also is a less than ideal choice, since it vents inside and ends up creating a sauna-like atmosphere when you don’t really want it (i.e., on some hot, muggy summer days). I know I shouldn’t be griping, because anything beats sitting in a laundro-mat, reading 6-year old copies of Reader’s Digest. Bear with me, as my whining does have some good merit.

After fussing with those portable laundry racks for a couple years, we found a 5-line retractable clothesline unit in one of the bricolage stores last summer. Doug installed it between two beams in the salon on the deuxieme etage (USA 3rd floor). We generate most of the dirty laundry on the deuxieme etage, where our bedroom and bathroom are, and then it has to be hauled down to be laundered and then back up to be hung out. I finally just got tired of carrying the laundry basket up and down the 29 steps, knowing that one day I’d miss a step and take a unexpected shortcut down.

So I started lobbying for a solution, some sort of pulley system to lower and raise the laundry basket. The stairwell is open and I thought there might be a possibility, but it takes some odd twists and turns and didn’t look too positive. When our friends John and Eileen were visiting, I mentioned my dilemma, and Eileen suggested rigging the pulley outside the back window in the little courtyard. Eileen, being a long-time follower of Alicia Bay-Laurel, as well as an occupational therapist since college, is always crafting up clever solutions.

All at once, a brilliant plan went into action. John and Doug did a quick assessment of materials needed: pulley, rope, big eye hook, S hook and long stick (the French equivalent of an 8’ 2 x 2. I bet you are trying to figure out why the long stick. The eye hook was to be screwed into the roof sheathing outside our bedroom window. Without hanging in mid-air out the window, there was no way to reach the edge of the sheathing, so first they taped the cordless drill to the end of the long stick to drill a starter hole. After cutting a saw kerf in the end of the long stick and inserting the eye hook, they then used it as an extra long “reacher” to screw in the hook. The long stick wasn’t done yet. The pulley was taped to the end of the stick and “hooked” onto the eye hook. Within an hour the first load of laundry was hoisted up.

Four minds came together on a summer’s afternoon. A simple plan, well executed.


Anonymous said...

That's hilarious. lro

Peggy said...

Bravo! I love your solution. Lots of those old buildings have the hook at the top outside the window so things can be lifted and in the window. Why not your own laundry from one floor to another? I know what you mean about missing a step. I did miss the last step carrying the laundry basket from the second floor in my house and really banged up my knee. I fear that one day I will go through the window at the bottom of our staircase.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! I love the basket's landing in your video. Eh voila!