Archive for October, 2012

Reskill, Retool and Readjust

October 8, 2012

The other night at the Palouse Transition meeting (a group trying to launch a Transition Town for the Palouse Bioregion) there was discussion about Reskilling — the idea of learning skills of our grandparents, such as gardening and canning.

It got me thinking about my experience reskilling with a clothes line. The Peterson Barn Guesthouse needs to launder a steady stream of sheets and towels. About a year ago I hung a clothes line in the greenhouse attached to the Barn and began drying things there. The reskilling amounted to hanging stuff with clothes pins — the clothes line and clothes pins were the (fairly simple) retooling.

The readjusting was the hard part. It takes anywhere from 1 hour to 1 day to dry a load of laundry, depending on the season and clouds (basically how warm the greenhouse gets). Unlike the clothes dryer that gets the job done in a predictable amount of time – and always quickly enough to fit in the rhythm of the rest of the cleaning tasks. Also, towels dried on the line come out wrinkly and stiff, which guests don’t like. So I modified the process to (hopefully) catch things almost dry and toss them in the dryer to finish and soften.

And while I’ve been doing the Barn laundry this way for most of a year, there is no thought of drying the family laundry on a line.  For one thing there are lots more small items, socks, shirts, etc rather than a few towels and sheets. For another, the whole timing thing. And, a big one, the house laundry is not near the clothes line and packing wet laundry to another building just ain’t happening.

I’m now reflecting on these ideas as they apply to our food canning, freezing, and drying work this fall. Again, its more about readjusting how we schedule our lives, make priorities, and what we value as entertainment in an evening at home than it is about the skills or the tools involved.