Laundry with Kaya


Laundry has always been a subject dear to my heart, although if you didn’t candy coat it, you could reasonably call me anal about laundry. That’s why it was so satisfying to finally find an efficient way to do laundry here (seepost). And one of the main reasons that I was so keen to untangle our laundry conundrum was another thing dear to my heart: cloth diapers.
I used cloth diapers with Baki and really liked them. I thought I might use disposables this time around, but once we got the Lehman’s Hand Washer, I realized that it would be possible to use cloth. I use disposables from time to time as well, by the way- I can’t always keep up with all the laundry.
Anyway, Kaya has been staying awake for longer spells, and surveying the kingdom. He likes to sit in his bouncy chair and watch what is going on. So I take him out to the garden and set him down in a shady spot while I do the laundry. He seems to find it diverting, while I am very pleased that he is showing an early interest in the ins and outs of proper laundry procedure; these things ought to be done just so, after all, and it can take a while to learn.

Non-electric appliances that I love #3

Tea and toast
On a chilly morning or a cloudy afternoon, there is nothing more pleasing than tea and toast. In the absence of electric kettles and toasters, this pair does the job very nicely. Growing up, I remember having a copper kettle in the kitchen for much of my early childhood in the US. When we moved overseas, electric kettles supplanted it, but I remembered the cheerful whistle of our old kettle, and was delighted to receive this kettle as a birthday present from my mother.
On the right, your eyes do not deceive you if what you see is a simple heat diffuser for the stove. It doubles very nicely as a toaster, though. I love toast, so I was excited to learn, from Adi Pieper’s book, “the Easy Guide to Solar Electric (part 1)”, that in spite of not being able to plug in a toaster, I’d still be able to have my toasty slices. I can feel my eyes glaze over and my mind becoming impermeable when I read about electricity, so I can’t claim to fully understand our solar power system, but I do well with rules of thumb (heating and cooling are largely out of reach) and useful tactics.
In addition, I am experiencing a slight strawberry jam obsession. We ran out of last year’s jams (peach and quince) a few weeks ago, right as strawberries started showing up at the vegetable markets. I made a batch of freezer jam that turned out pretty well, but I had a recipe that I’d been curious to try. A while back, before my mom moved to NY, a friend came to visit from Paris and brought us an extraordinary bottle of jam. It was seedless raspberry jam, if you can believe it, and it had been made by a woman named Christine Ferber. I soon learned that she is a famous jam maker, and that her cookbook, “Mes Confitures”, was available on English. Naturally, I got a copy, and strawberry jam would be my first foray into her methods.
It was, to me, an unusual recipe that required not only that the berries be macerated overnight in sugar, but also that, once brought to a simmer the following day, they be macerated again overnight. Then the syrup was to be strained and cooked further, and the strawberries added for a final cooking. It was then, she promised, that the berries would “become translucent”. Surely not, I thought. But as I peered into the pot of boiling syrup, with strawberries bobbing to the surface, I caught a glimpse of a translucent berry. I fished one out with a spoon and admired it. The berries had been transformed into glistening jewels. And the jam is just wonderful on toast.

Non-electric appliances that I love #1

The Lehman’s hand washer

The first thing that I learned when we got our solar electricity up and running was that anything that heats or cools probably required more electricity than we could spare. Our first attempts at refrigeration, using a mini-bar sized 12-volt fridge amply demonstrated the truth of this.
Laundry being one of the chores I am most fussy about, I have gone through a number of strategies. In our first year, I used a wash board and a plunger like device to do laundry. The downsides were clear- it was time consuming, shredded our jeans, and wringing the clothes out was a drag. Plus, in winter my hands were a mess. We started taking our clothes into town, but there aren’t any self service laundromats, so we had to have our laundry done for us. Getting strange socks back with our clothes creeped me out, though.
When we first came out here, we brought a petrol-powered generator with us for the construction of the house. It now lives at the bottom of the land, in a friend’s carpentry workshop. I had assumed that since the generator had powered the circular saw, drills, and other big heavy tools, that it would power a washing machine as well. Without going into too much detail, let me admit that I was mistaken and that I discovered this the hard way. That was a day that I could think of nothing else to do but sit down and cry.
Shortly after this heartbreaking discovery, my mother sent me the latest Lehman’s non-electric catalog. I can’t remember how I first came across it, but the Lehman’s catalog has been invaluable since we moved down here, and many of my dearest non-electric appliances either came from there or I learned of them there.
Anyway, leafing through the catalog, I saw the Lehman’s hand washer and I knew that all was not lost – I could have my laundry day!
On our most recent trip to NY, I ordered the washer. It was shipped in pieces, and the wash basin just happened to fit nicely, if snugly, into my largest duffle bag. For some reason no one seemed concerned about the large metal vessel in my luggage, and it arrived in Turkey without incident.
Now it stands in the garden and serves us almost daily – between our own copiously dirty clothes (muddy spring) and all of Baki’s old baby clothes and diapers, we need to wash pretty much every day. Baki helps me with the wringer, though, and the actual washing doesn’t take that long. It makes me very happy to have laundry day back at home where it belongs.