Akin to city apartments built before in-apartment laundry facilities were demanded, living on a boat offers the same disadvantage along with a very small kitchen (hence the source of the name “galley” that offers only a sink for washing dishes). Doing dishes by hand is no problem as John and I use the time together, sharing the task each day. However, laundry is still laundry. So, yesterday, faced with the fact that the marina laundry has only two machines and one working dryer, I carted my orange bags full of dirty clothes to the car, then drove into the rural town of Deale for a few minutes to my laundromat of choice, the Clean Scene. I liked the name and I knew where it was.
Boy, was I in luck. It was senior day so I saved 25 cents on each of my three wash loads. As I sat in plastic but cushioned chair next to one of the bright red folding tables, waiting the thirty minutes for the wash ctyle to finish, I was struck by how little ‘wishy washie’ places have changed in the past fifty some years. My first job ever was that of ‘change girl’ at a laundromat in a strip mall on Odgen Ave in Naperville, Ill. The laundromat sat on the end of a short row of stores anchored at the other end by a small diner at which my girl friend flipped hamburgers. It was a Yogi Berra moment — déjà vu all over again — because I swear nothing has changed except the price of a wash and the availability of air conditioning. I vividly remember those hot summer days when I escaped to stand outside the door to catch a breath of non-bleach smelling fresh air.
I chatted with the matron (aka change girl) who oversees the place — a stout woman of undetermined age who has watched people do laundry for over eight years, because, she said to me, “The owner is so nice”. She explained to me the difference between the new machines and the old machines, in case I wanted to add softener in the rinse cycle. I opted for the new machines as I didn’t use softener, just color safe non-chlorine bleach with my detergent, which is now in capsule form, not liquid, to reduce space and prevent spillage on the boat.
The place is clean, but like the one I worked in, worn at the edges. The change machine was out-of-order, the linoleum floor cracked and yellow in the corners from years of waxing. Several other “ladies” and I shared the place as I watched the tumbler flip my clothes to a fluffy dryness.
While I folded clothes, I kept my ears tuned while the other women talked about church, the funeral of a young man who died recently in a car crash, and one woman’s mother who refuses to move from her pew seat in the church she had sat in for some forty years, even when the church is packed. It was an hour and a half, pleasantly passed. I was definitely an outsider, but not a scorned one. I’ll go back several more times this month before we leave. Perhaps I’ll have a chance to join a conversation…or not…
Morning brings surprises. One day it’s eerily foggy for a couple of hours. On others, it’s bright and still until the sun heats and air currents start flowing. Today we awoke to bright and breezy. Now, at noon, it is windy, cool and slowly clouding. We know tomorrow will bring stormy weather as the named tropical storm ‘Hermine’ skirts past the Chesapeake Bay after battering the Florida panhandle and the south-east coast.
Living on a boat certainly brightens one’s awareness of the weather. In just a few hours, everything can change. Our plans for three days of sailing before Labor Day were quickly scrapped as ‘Hermine’ moved north yesterday. In anticipation of the weather, we zipped in the dodger center piece and attached the Bimini’s side flaps to dampen blowing rain. Every time I touch the canvas, it seems that stitching falls apart. Duct tape, now conveniently available in tawny beige to almost match our canvas, is keeping both dodger and Bimini together. We’ve run out of budget to have them replaced right now.
Chores go on every day, inside and outside of the boat. As I write, there’s a young man walking down the dock hammering nails that have popped up from the dock’s weathering planks. Every few steps he bends and bangs, a tiresome job requiring little skill, just persistence, decent eyesight and a strong back.
For our part, John worked inside, finishing up some consulting work and recording his expenses. Our accountant loves him because he is the ultimate methodical man. I, on the other hand, grew impatient being in the same space while he did this, so I pulled out our portlight screens, dusted them off and installed them from the inside, all but one of the seventeen, reaching above my head or standing on our small folding step stool. And, yes, I cleaned each portlight window before each screen installation. One screen had a ripped rubber gasket, so after a little internet searching I found new gasket line, and ordered it. I hope I can thread it into the 1/8″ metal grove on the frame, a job that requires patience and methodical attention. Maybe I should outsource that job to John.
It’s the little stuff we work on now. Today, before we leave to visit friends back in Virginia, I’ll mark the dock lines so we won’t have to guess how much to pull them when we dock again and start cleaning some of the bright work (metal hardware) on the deck.
Oh, I almost forgot. I have to verify the height of the top of the mast to the waterline so we can calculate how low the tide must be to pass safely under some of the ICW 65′ clearance bridges. We do not want to mistakenly whack off our mast.