The bane of this housewife’s existence? Irons.

Man, I tell you, if there’s one thing I hate about being a housewife in the UK, it’s the ironing.  I’m used to big tumble dryers that dry the clothes so well that if you fold them or hang them immediately, you don’t NEED to iron them.  Here?  Well yeah, you can GET tumble dryers like that here, but A) most houses aren’t built with the room for another full-sized appliance; and B) they’re fucking EXPENSIVE.  Not just to buy, but a gas dryer is an endangered species out here, so they’re all electric.  And they eat up that electricity like there’s no tomorrow.  I have a dryer similar to this one, but I only use it for things like socks and underwear, because it’s just too friggin’ expensive to run all the time.  So, I hang 95% of our laundry out on a line to dry.  (I do have to admit, though, that hung-out washing comes in smelling GORGEOUS.)

However, hung-out washing has one drawback: it ALWAYS needs ironing.  So I end up spending what feels like half my life doing nothing but ironing.  I wouldn’t mind it so much if it wasn’t such an absolute MINDLESS chore.  It’s not so bad when I can take over the computer room and play a movie or something.  Sometimes I’ll play YouTube (usually my beloved George Carlin 😉 ).

Now since I DO iron so much, I’ve had irons break on me.  And because we live on an extremely limited budget, I’ve had to buy the cheapest iron I could find sometimes because that’s all I could afford.  I’ve had irons break after one use because somebody knocked it off the ironing board and it cracked.  All in all, I’ve gone through roughly 6 or 7 irons in the 5 years that we’ve lived here, although it could be even more than that.

Just last week, I had an iron die on me.  It was the day my neighbor’s son David came over to ask me one last time, would I actually take the kitten.  I was at the door speaking to him for maybe five minutes – most likely less – and when I came back in the room, there was smoke pouring out of my iron.  There was still water in the reservoir, so I know it didn’t just boil itself dry or anything.  I unplugged it, freaked out for a minute (when you’ve had to live through one house fire already, seeing smoke pouring out of an appliance tends to bring back bad memories), and started checking out what irons I could get and for how much (since it’s been about a year since I bought the sssssmokin’ one, I wanted to see if anything had gone down in price, like it usually does).  I didn’t want to spend too much on it, but I didn’t want to get the cheapest thing out there, because I’d BTDT, and know better.

But Hubby came in the room and had to put his two pence in.  Normally I would be fine with that, but he convinced me to get the cheapest of the cheap.

And I hate it.

I keep trying to iron, but I’m standing there ironing the same spot for 10 minutes, and it’s still wrinkly.  I’ve got the damned thing on the hottest setting there is, and it’s like I’m breathing on it for all the good it’s doing.  Which is making my ironing pile up to the friggin’ ceiling, because it’s taking forever to iron anything, and even then it doesn’t look done.

So fuck it.  I’m buying another another iron.  He can bitch and moan all he likes, but he’s not the one spending half his day standing in one spot, trying to make the clothes look presentable, and getting so frustrated he wants to scream.

I’m just undecided which one I want to get.  Again, I’m not exactly going for top-of-the-range here, just better than what I’ve GOT.  I found this one and this one.  The sssssssssmokin’ iron is the same brand as the first one, so I know it’s a fairly good one (that iron lasted me the longest out of all of the ones I’ve owned so far), but the other brand is a fairly good one, too.  I don’t know that the extra £3 is going to make a difference in quality, though.  I’d happily spend the extra if I absolutely KNEW it was going to be a better product, but I’ve got NO friggin’ clue.

Okay, I realize this isn’t exactly important in the grand scheme of my life, but OMG is it ever FRUSTRATING!!!!  Why oh why can’t I find an iron that will just WORK… and for a good amount of time?  Without having to spend an arm and a leg on it?  Is that REALLY too much to ask???


When ‘home’ is gone.

I’ve known for a long time that my grandmother wanted to sell the house. The house that my grandfather built with his own two hands (and largely out of scraps from other jobs [he was a carpenter]). The house that my father grew up in. The house that I grew up in. The house that three of my four children were conceived in. The house that I had almost every birthday party in. The house I had my wedding reception in.

I knew this. I knew it was coming. It wasn’t a surprise. And honestly, I understand her reasons for it. It’s a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house and she’s the only one living in it anymore. And it’s not like she’s always got kids coming over. We were the last of the family to even live near her. Now all of her children (and I’m considered one of them, because she raised me) are scattered to the four winds. My father and my Aunt B are at two different ends of California (my father lives North, Aunt B South). Aunt D lives in Colorado. Uncle T lives in Florida, and Uncle D lives in Wisconsin. I, of course, live in England. It simply doesn’t make sense for her to be living in such a big house when it’s just her and her thoughts.

And then there’s the practical aspect of it all. A house that size, in that area, is expensive! The property taxes alone are nearly half of what the house was originally appraised at when it was first built. And that’s every six months! Then there’s the usual upkeep of a house. And when it’s a big house, the upkeep budget automatically has to be bigger. While she’s still working, she doesn’t exactly make big bucks. She never has. When I was growing up, she regularly worked 2 jobs just to keep the bank from foreclosing on us (as well as the little things… you know… like food).

And the woman is stubborn. At 71 years old, if something needs to be fixed and she knows how to do it… there’s no way in hell she’s going to pay somebody else to do it for her. And at 71 years old, there are certain things that she shouldn’t be doing, regardless of whether or not she’s still able to.

And she’s already bought her new house. It’s a pre-fab in a retirement community only 20 minutes (or so) away from Uncle T in Florida. She’s been paying the mortgage on it for nearly a year now. So she really needs to sell the house. She needs the money.

So rationally and intellectually, I understand why she’s doing this. It makes perfect sense. And I don’t blame her.

And yet…

I thought I was ready for this. I mean, I’ve had nearly two years (maybe more?) to get used to the idea. She’s talked for months about how she needs to get the house cleaned out to get it ready for sale.

But then today, Aunt D sends me this.

I wasn’t ready for the rush of emotion that looking at it brought. I thought I was. I thought I was mostly okay with the idea. But apparently… I’m not.

People are always asking me if I ever think about going ‘home.’ I tell them that I would love to go home for a visit, but that I’m happy living here. But the fact is, sometime in the not-too-distant future, there isn’t going to be a home to go home to.

And there’s the emotional attachment to the house. My grandfather built that house with his own two hands. Nobody outside of our family has ever lived in that house. I know every inch of it by heart. The dark, dusty corners of the basement, where we would hide when there was a tornado warning. The attic, unbearably hot in summer and freezing cold in winter, where we all had childhood mementos stashed. The last time I was up there, my Raggedy Ann Halloween costume from when I was 8 was still poking out of the top of a box. I have boxes of books that Great-Aunt C gave me up there. Great-Grandma’s old sewing machine is up there. The thought of all of those things being gone and strangers’ belongings in their place fills me with a sadness I just can’t even begin to put into words.

What do you do when ‘home’ is gone? Have any of you ever been through something like this? Was it as hard as it seems to me? How did you get through it?

I ask because there’s a part of me that wants to call my grandmother and literally beg her not to sell the house. But I won’t do that. That would be selfish and inconsiderate of me. And she raised me better than that.

I can’t deny that the urge is there, though. It’s like a panic that’s building in my chest. And after feeling so happy the last few weeks, it’s doubly hard.