10 June 2008

What is survival, anyway?

Dmitry Orlov said recently, "But the tragic thing is, to prepare for collapse, you have to start living as if it already happened, and very few people are willing to do that. They will wait until it is too late, and then expect somebody to come to their rescue." Sharon also has a challenge (that I am not fully participating in this time) that involves learning new skills, so I decided to add laundry 100% by hand to my list of skills. Don't get me wrong - I love my washing machine. With 5 children who love to get dirty, I do a lot of laundry. I have no intention of giving it up any sooner than I have to, especially since water and electricity are included in my rent. Drying by hand is a cinch - a clothesline outside in nice weather, an empty closet left ajar, several hangers and a box fan in the house in wet weather and that's all there is to it. But actually getting the clothes clean is another matter.

I have some minor prior experience. Six years ago when Lauren was a baby, we got our first set of cloth diapers. We lived in an apartment and had no washing facilities, normally doing our laundry at the laundromat down the road. We had a total of 24 diapers; enough for 2 days, not enough to justify a washer load at the laundromat. So every night after I put the kids to bed (after working a 10-hour workday a 45-minute commute from home), I plunked all the wet and dirty diapers in the tub and washed them by hand. I had no washboard, and didn't know how helpful a plunger could be. I just swished the wet diapers in the tub first, and wrung them out by hand. Then I washed the dirty ones in order from least poopy to most poopy. She was exclusively breastfed, so the poop wasn't too bad to deal with those first few months. I took a handful of diaper on each side and just rubbed them together until they came clean. Then I wrung them out by hand. We had no clothesline then, so the clean diapers were draped over the shower curtain rod (it went all the way around) until we got a clotheshorse. Altogether, the process took me about an hour each day. For eight to ten flat diapers.

So as I was thinking about how life will be without electricity, I realized that meant no washing machine. Laundry for 7 people was going to take me about 30 hours each day, then I still had to cook, do other cleaning, garden, and try to squeeze in a little shut-eye, too. Yikes! I gave thanks to the gods for my washing machine and tried to never think about laundry again. Then I learned about using a plunger to do the agitating. Whew! What a relief. So now I am on the hunt for a clothes wringer, since that really will probably be the most time-consuming aspect.

I began to call local hardware stores, but that isn't an item that is kept on hand. It can be special ordered for me, or I can order online. I checked Lehmans, but wanted to find something a little lower-priced. Ebay had lots of them for sale, but they all praised the aesthetics, with no mention of functionality. I don't care what it looks like, does it work? Then I remembered that LATOC has a preparedness store. No laundry solutions, though. That got me to reflecting on other people's idea of "survival". Yes, hunting knives and food stocks are very important. There are several items for creating electricity, but nothing to get you clean. How close to an animal are you going to when hunting it with your knife if you are wearing clothes saturated with sweat and blood? Maybe it is the difference between men and women. I want to be fed, clothed, sheltered, AND clean. Is that really too much to ask?


Robj98168 said...

LOL now stop crying- You posted and you fellow bloggers will deliver- here is one I found at clean air gardening Cheap, easy to operate and looks like it works... the downside is not a whole lot of clothes per wash.

Lucky Sia said...

Also, Judy, I bet we would have a bunch less clothing. :p