Thursday, March 3, 2011


Total mayhem reigns inside the submarine. Gauges going berserk, alarms sounding, sailors racing down narrow corridors, frantic to get into position. Commands shouted from the captain to tense, sweating crew members. Then the Big Red Light flashes. An ear-splitting buzz pulses in the narrow confines, warning of the imminent meltdown of the sub's nuclear reactor. Suddenly, nothing else matters - all the other crises are temporarily set aside so that the crew can focus on averting this new disaster. First things first - the reactor has to be stabilized.

The ship is perilously close to the reef, with the surging waves pushing it ever-closer to certain disaster. Forget about calming the cow in the cargo hold, or about peeling potatoes for Cook, or about mending sails. Right now, it's All Hands On Deck until the ship is safely past danger.

The airplane loses an engine. The prairie catches fire. However it's illustrated, it's just life. We're busy chinking our log cabins, breaking sod, stitching up calico dresses, scavenging buffalo chips for the fire - the days are full from sunup to sundown, and we can't imagine NOT scurrying from one of these tasks to the other. Then, we see the orange glow on the horizon and all of our normal busy-ness stops.

There are different degrees of Red Button issues in life. Chest pains - emergency room - hospital....without a second thought, school and chores are suspended until further notice. On the less stressful end of the spectrum, the car is in the shop today....well, we'll just reschedule piano lessons and make a run to the grocery store tomorrow.

At our house, I think the biggest "small" Code Red is the washing machine. We run probably 3 loads of laundry a day, and two or three times that on Saturdays when the college students are home. Clothing, bedding, towels, kitchen all adds up to a LOT of laundry when you have 9 people living under one roof! Miss one day of laundry, and we have six loads to chug through instead of three. Miss two days, and you just about can't walk into the laundry room. Miss a weekend or a snow day....chances of recovery look very slim indeed!

Which brings me to the reason behind today's post. Our Red Alert! has been screaming for just over two weeks. Tom and Ben, with Dad's oversight, did some finagling soon after meltdown, and, after cleaning out the pump, were hopeful that the washing machine was back in operation. Alas! Our hopes were dashed when the display once again flashed a malfunction code. A handyman friend came over last weekend to assess the situation and thinks he has identified the problem - now, we are waiting for a replacement part.

To me, this feels somewhat like I'm in a submarine that's about to experience a nuclear meltdown. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration....but right now, we have laundry baskets piled waist high in the downstairs bathroom (that's where I moved it so that Handyman could actually get to the machine), piled knee-deep in the laundry room (that's where we started putting it again after Handyman left), and dominating a corner of the upstairs bathroom. I haven't looked to see how much laundry is piled in the kids' rooms - don't even want to think about it.

In a moment of desperation, I actually loaded up a car full of baskets last Saturday and drove to the laundromat in Union City. I ran out of money at five loads. It costs $1.75 to run ONE load of laundry through a washer! If I ever find that I have money to invest, I'm going into the laundromat business. Anyway, I packed home my five clean loads, and my other unwashed laundry, and began running the wet things through the dryer. It was almost midnight before the last load came through, and I was pooped.

Today is Thursday. Let's say the needed part arrives by the end of the week. Then, let's hope Handyman can take some time to get over and install said part. Maybe, just maybe, we'll be back in the laundry business by Saturday. I can't even imagine how long it's going to take to dig through this mountain of dirty clothes, towels, and sheets.

So my Red Alert buzzer is still screaming and the laundry is still piling up....BUT, Hallelujah!, help is on the way. Next week, Lord willing, we'll be back to relatively smooth sailing and this will all be a bad memory.

What about you? What's the number one Code Red at your house?


Jenny said...

Camille, you need to get all Medieval and just make them wear it again!

Talk about laundromat...imagine when we had to do all of the winter clothes of Benny, Kathy, Kevin, Jenny, Katie, Owen and Audrey after the flood. WHEW!!! We spent well over $100!

troal said...

So...Flat rocks down by the creek?
Don't forget the lye soap!!!!

Camille said...

Umm, we're doing a little "recycling" but it's kinda starting to get stinky around here. Speaking of lye soap, RB, I just bought ingredients at Rural King today to make home-made laundry soap. Will try it out and let you guys know how it works once the washing machine is running again!

J. K. Jones said...

"Red alert" around my place has most recently revolved around the short in my laptop's screen that keeps blinking it on and off at bad times.

Beyond that, it involves a miss-behaving 7 year old.