But there are limits to laundry, we found.
Only after the straight-talking Maytag repairman handed me the bill and waved goodbye – for the third time in six months – did I finally acknowledge the painful truth: Our 20-year-old clothes dryer was irrevocably busted.
I turned to my husband. "He says we're throwing good money after bad," I sighed. "I think he's right."
"I'm going to miss that guy," said my spouse, the joker. "When do you want to go shopping for a new one?"
"Let me think about it."
I glanced out the window, appreciating the sunlight dancing on the big-leaf maples in our backyard. Perfect drying weather. Suddenly, I recalled my mother hanging laundry on the patio clothesline during my Santa Monica, Calif., childhood. My giggling sister and I had played hide-and-seek among the sweet-smelling sheets flapping in the wind.
I had a plan.
"You know, we have all the elements of a dryer right in the backyard: plenty of warmth; clean, fresh air; and lots of branches to hang clothes on," I said.
"And it would help with the skyrocketing electric bill," noted the pragmatist in our family. "You're onto something."