January 1, 2009

Old Out, but New Not In

It is with tremendous sadness that I write to you this bright and shining New Years Day to tell you of the passing of my dear friend, helpmate and tireless companion, Sir Washie. Sir Washie, a 30 year old Kenmore heavy duty washer of extraordinary merit, departed this home yesterday after a short illness, which ended when the 4th repair man we called laughed himself into a coughing spasm rather than come out and even look at him, saying that all he would do if he came was charge us $100 for a death certificate. (Apparently he, like the other three repair men could tell from their cars that Sir Washie was suffering from a terminal illness, which I think was rather unfair to my washer, and I told them so.)

I have spoken before about my deep love for Sir Washie, of the many magical things he has done for me... from his noble rendering of clean diapers when the girls were little, to the countless towels the teenagers have foisted upon him in his old age, he has selflessly served this family. He was patient, learning to enter into new relationships over the last few years, as Joe and the girls sought to (reluctantly) share in the joy coming to know him - gently drawing their attention to their unbalanced loads by politely thumping across the room. Even when they forgot to clean his lint filter he was understanding, and he never once spoke of the time that I clogged his pump felting clogs.

Perhaps his greatest gift to this family was that he never once, in all of the time that we were together, burdened us with a repair bill at a time when we couldn't manage it - and even after having his bottom parts dipped in an icy basement flood he just kept on washing. He was considerate that way. Sir Washie is the only entity on this earth that has helped me just about every day without complaining, judging or expecting anything from me, and he will be sorely missed.

He will be especially missed, since as expected, his demise has created a nightmare chain of events. Joe and I went shopping to replace him (and his slacker dryer friend, who is a limping piece of crap that I don't love at all) and we carefully chose the smallest appliances that were still full size - and that we could afford. (Did you know that there are $4000 washing machines? Seriously. If a washer is $4000 I want it to get the laundry out of my room and bring it back folded after it made me coffee and told me it likes my hair. $4000. Boggles the mind.)

Yesterday, when the new washer arrived, the delivery guys went downstairs, fetched up my dear Sir Washie and hauled him up the steps, only to discover, as we had known, that the kitchen pantry needed to be disassembled to get him out.


We sort of knew that, although it still upset me. In our family, it is tradition to tidy up on New Year's Eve. In fact, I usually clean for a few days leading up, believing that how your affairs are when the new year dawns is how your affairs will continue for the coming year. We end as we mean to go on... and the idea of trashing the house - really trashing it on New Years Eve hit my superstition button hard. What would it mean for the new year if your kitchen was partly disassembled as the calendar hit the reset button? I'd tried to get the appliance delivered the day before just to avoid this.


When the cabinet was empty, unscrewed, detached and removed (my dining room is full of food) Sir Washie came through the kitchen, out the back door and far away.


I actually felt badly for him, right before - well, right before I remembered he was an inanimate object that had no feelings... but was distracted from my grief process by a developing crisis back in the kitchen.

The new washer is the same depth as Sir Washie, but about 4cm wider. This, we thought, was going to make it hard to get it downstairs, but not impossible. We may have been wrong. The cabinet was already removed (and lying in the hall) and now the new washer wouldn't even clear the doorway. Joe started talking about how it was just the door frame that was the problem, which was no problem, because he could "make it work" and for some crazy reason, the minute he used the word "sawzall" and "prybar" the delivery guys were in their truck and gunning it out of here. Joe called in the forces. My brother Ian and Ken came to help, and our neighbour Greg provided a variety of saws and emotional support. (He may also have been watching his back, since his house is the other half of our semi-detached - and once Joe started talking about sawing anything at all near a shared wall... Greg was interested.) I should have known how it was going to go when Ian walked thought the front door and said "I didn't miss all the sawing... did I?"


The guys removed the facing board and tried again. Nope.
They reconsidered and hacked another board out of the frame.


Still not big enough. They sawed another part of the frame out (seriously)


removed a light switch (every centimetre counts) and this time,


the washer cleared the frame,


but would only go down the first two steps of the basement before the encountered another problem in the form of ... well. A wall. A wall that can't entirely be there if the washer is going to go down. Joe was standing in the basement with a sawzall, a crazy determined look in his eye and kept saying "I can do it... I have momentum!"
At this point it I may have flipped out and called a halt to operations while I stood in the kitchen and took stock for a minute. We had removed the door, the food, the cabinet, the door frame, removed light fixtures and sawed off chunks of the house. The house was trashed. The kitchen was trashed, there was a new washer mocking me from the back door, nobody has clean clothes, that doorway will never be right again and we were a few hours off of the New Year while my husband planned to take out a part of a wall that was in his way.

I took a deep breath and I gave a thoroughly impassioned speech about how we had crossed the crazy line. Totally crossed it. I told Joe that one of the things I love best about him is his optimism. He always believes that everything is going to work out, and I could see that Joe had decided that this washer was going into the basement no matter what it took. He was on a mission. I told him that I really love his optimism, but that this time it just wasn't appropriate. That this wasn't going well and that I didn't think it was going to start going well and that the washer was too damn big and that we needed to return it right now before he sawed up anything else and we needed to pay the extra money and get the apartment sized ones that I know I said I didn't want because I know it means I'll have to do a load of laundry every fourteen minutes for the rest of my life but now I don't care... because frankly - I've hit my limit for a SAWED UP HOUSE ON CRAZY JUICE.

And then I saw it. A huge scratch on the side of the washer. It can't be returned. The thing now belongs to us, and as that dawned on me, I was suddenly filled with an urge to hack a hole in the floor of the kitchen and just drop the *&^%$er through to the basement, or maybe shove it onto the stairs and leap upon it with the full force of my body until it fell through, smashing whatever needs to be smashed to make it work. I took a deep breath.

The boys went home. We put the tools down. I took a load of laundry to my Mother-In-Laws so this family could start the new year with something clean, and I went for a run. (A very short run. Turns out that -20 is way past my personal threshold- but it did work off a little of the frustration.) I came back and took a hot bath and we put a bottle of champagne in the fridge.

The boys are coming back today for round two. I am going to avert my eyes and knit while they saw up whatever they have to and try to preserve what's left of my sanity.

You wanna know the best part?

The new dryer comes on Sunday.

Posted by Stephanie at January 1, 2009 11:21 AM