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Laundry and solitude

I used to have a laundry washing machine, and a big basket for collecting dirty clothes until there were enough of them to fill the machine. But now the machine is disconnected and stored in a shed. That is because of my house renovation work - at the moment access to electricity, running water and sewer is somewhat limited. I still have access to hot water - in the sauna and on the wood-burning stove. So washing clothes won't be a problem, it is just that now I have to remember to do it more often. It is far more practical to hand-wash smaller amount of clothes on one go. Also, in the autumn it is often unpractical to dry the laundry outdoors - and it is equally unpractical to have a lot of soaked wet clothes hanging indoors. Which makes the sauna the best alternative - sauna room is so built that all the water on the floor will run to a small hole, going on the soil under the sauna.

So, my main renovation project is remaking the entrance hall of the house. I've already taken down all the old thermal insulation materials and some other structures which should be replaced. Half of the floor of the hall is covered by concrete - there used to be electric sauna, a shower and a toilet there. Those I don't need, but I thought I could keep the concrete part of the floor, as they are also so built that water on the floow will run into a sewer. Alas, it had been so built that the wall had been done first and the concrete after that - which means that I can't remove all of the walls if I don't break up the concrete. So that's what I should do - I started it with manual tools but soon realized that I'm going to need an electric drill hammer, not a small one but heavy enough to do the work.

Well. Friday evening I drove 100 kilometres to see Astrid Swan peform live. It was totally worth it - I was touched and moved (and danced) by the music. I got back at home at about 2 AM. And today I went to one of the neighbours, who had promised to lend a drill hammer for me. I spent several hours breaking up the concrete, carried some of the removed pieces outdoors, ate some food, drank some beer, broke up some more concrete. I got myself dusty and tired. While I was heating up the sauna I decided not to wash up any laundry today. So I just relaxed enjoying the sauna. And I was thinking. If I can go borrow a tool for breaking up the concrete, then why I can't sometimes visit friends to wash up laundry? Most of my friends have washing machines anyway, and it would be a nice way to combine social time with practical help.

Sometimes I'm keeping unnecessary distance to the other people. Not asking for help, trying to manage everything all by myself. For the most part I like it, but sometimes it would be healthy to be bit more connected with my friends. Borrowing tools is a good example; it is a practical way of how the local community works. The local households aren't completely isolated bubbles of solitude, but have a network of mutual relationships - practical help is exchanged, social time is spent, people enjoy the company of others. All this is quite normal. Yet, when I was thinking that I need a drill hammer, my first idea was to call a company which rents machines. Not to bother anyone, doing things the commercial and non-personal way... Before calling the company I happened to talk about it with my friend. He suggested I just borrow the machine from one of the neighbours. Sure, why not - thinking to myself I recognized that once again I was about to avoid personal contact with people around me, for no reason at all, just out of habit. I need to learn to break that habit, at least sometimes :)

breaking up concrete
breaking up concrete
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My neighbors are always within 10 feet of me but I have never met them. Living in a row house home, I am more isolated than a man living out in the sticks. If I had to ask to use a machine, I would feel as if I would owe them something for invading their personal space. To me it's sorta like using their shower, that's just me though.

We make up for lack of neighborly bonds by building laundromats that charge you to wash clothes.

I have a friend who visits other people for laundry services and I'm his most frequent laundry-lady. For me it's very much OK to help him, as long as he only wants my laundry services only less than once a month. He also helps me in many ways (guides my dog or brings me dumpster dived food, so I'm happy to return this small service for him.

Also. When we lived in a small village (150people) in France, we did our laundry in the common laundry machine, which stood in a shack and worked with coins and was owned by the community.

I think that many apartment buildings have a coin-operated washing machine in the basement, for residents to use.

In urban areas, where there anyhow is a lot of people packed next to each other, there isn't that much reason to contact with your neighbours. People tend to make friends based on shared hobbies, values and interests - which, of course, is fine and OK.

In the post-war countryside a lot of work was shared by neighbours. Televisions were rare, so people gathered together for enjoyment - there were dances, theatre-groups, sport events and all that kind of social activities. People regularly visited each other for coffee and chat. And when the first televisions came, neighbours could gather together in one house to watch the television together... times have changed, as nowadays it feels that television is the symbol of more isolated lifestyle; there is no more need to gather together for amusements, as every family can just stay in the privacy of their own homes, watching TV.

Still, here in the countryside, living at the same area is reason enough to make contact with the others. To borrow a tool I don't have to agree on everything with my neighbour. We might vote for different parties, we might have some different values and views - but that is not a problem, as long as everybody respects the views of others. And there are some families who have very little contact with the others - that is OK too, if they want to be left alone, then so will it be.

"as long as he only wants my laundry services only less than once a month" - that is a very good point. There was a time when I wanted to be more like an hermit. And that was largely based on a fear that if I share some of my personal space with anyone, soon they will be asking for more and more, and I will find it hard to regulate how much I give away... So, let's imagine that five years ago one of my neighbours would ask: "Erkka, may I use your laundry machine once a month?" I would have replied "NO!" - fearing that if I say "yes", it will lead to more and more people asking to use my laundry machine so that soon there would be someone for every day and all of my privacy would be ruined... Uh oh, that is an irrational fear. And that fear was so strong, that I sometimes assumed the others feel the same - that's why I didn't even ask for any help.


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