Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Community Laundry

Today's picture is from 1942, and shows women washing clothes in wash tubs with wash boards. The tubs were in a community wash center in Pinedale California. One wonders how long it would take to do laundry this way . . . I would have to think that it would be an all day job. When you look at this chore, you really appreciate the modern convenience of a washing machine and dryer. If you look at all the progress that has been made in technology over the last 150 years, I wonder what advances really had the biggest impact on quality of life. I would have to say three of the biggest would be indoor toilets/showers, refrigeration, and washer/dryers. If you have those three things, life really is a whole lot easier. On indoor plumbing . . . I really like being clean, and being able to jump in the shower every day is a very big deal (as is being able to go potty without having to put your shoes on and light a lantern). Similarly, life is a lot easier when you can keep food fresh in a refrigerator. Can you imagine trying to deal with milk without a modern refrigerator? And, as we see this week, washer/dryers are a huge time saver. So, if I simply had refrigeration, indoor plumbing, and a washer/dryer, I could be pretty comfortable.

Domestic Update:

We finally got a break from the 14 straight days of rain, and I was able to make progress on the greenhouse. The concrete men showed up, and we got the ground stakes concreted in.

The greenhouse structure is all built connected to the ground stakes, so if I got them in the right place, the assembly of the greenhouse should be easy. The next thing is, I need the plumbers to come and dig the trenches in the pad for the plumbing. Then, I can put in the sub-floor insulation board. Then the concrete people will come back, and put in the first level of rebar. Then, I run the radiant heat tubing around, zip-typing it to the first level of rebar. Then the concrete people come back, put the next level of rebar down, and then we should be ready to pour the slab. Once the slab is poured, then the assembly of the greenhouse can begin. It is a little frustrating how much work there is before you even get to assembling the structure.

Now, the plumbers actually did come out yesterday to dig the trenches in the pad for the plumbing. However, I decided that while they were out here, I would get them to go ahead and dig a trench over to Chickie Town, and bring a water line and electric line over to the Chicken Coup. That way I could provide a little heat for the chickies in winter time. Also, when the days are short, the chickens lay much fewer eggs. If  you turn a light on in the coop before sunrise in the winter, the chickens will keep laying eggs all winter. Also, the water line will let me make a little water system for them, so I don't have to keep going out and filling their water dish.

Unfortunately, they got about 20 feet of the trench dug, and the rock I live on broke the back end off the trencher. You see, many men have tried to trench through my rock, and many men have failed. The bad thing is that since the trencher broke, they were unable to do the primary mission, which was to get the trenches done in the pad for the greenhouse. They say they will come back tomorrow with a rock saw, and make the trench with the large riding rock saw.

So, progress has been made, but we have hit a few snags.


  1. As a note on the OPOD, I think it might be important to note that the picture likely depicts residents of the Pinedale Assembly Center, which was one of the internment camps created for Japanese-Americans during WWII. http://pinedalememorial.org/home/

    Interestingly, the Center was only used from May to July of 1942. Since this was an internment camp, I'm afraid that the picture has a much more somber undertone than simply being a community washing center.

  2. The variety of aprons they are wearing is interesting. My grandmother wore one constantly and used it for things like wiping the dirt off my face to gathering vegetables out of the garden. I wonder if they have sorted the laundry there into whites, darks and colors. Best of luck with getting the trenches done today!

  3. Air conditioning!

    I still say raised beds would have been much, much easier.

    What a lot of work you're doing! Thanks for the update.

  4. Mabelline,
    The purpose of the greenhouse is to allow year round, soiless gardening. The radiant floor will keep the greenhouse warm in the winter, and a wet wall with exhaust will provide evaporative cooling. The nutrients will be computer controlled, so it will provide perfect pH, nutrition, and water.

    The nutrient solutions have to be discarded every week. I intend on having raised beds outside, and feed them with the discarded nutrient solution from the greenhouse. In the winter, I will water the trees with the discarded nutrient solution.

    So, if it works the way I hope, I should be able to provide Mrs. PJM with not only year round fresh eggs, but year round fresh vegetables.

    Could a tractor be denied in such a case? I think not!

  5. Being from the north, I would add heating technology somewhere in the top 3 or 4. Of course, the transition from wood to natural gas included the use of coal in between, but before everything, think of the amount of work it took to ensure survival (literally) by cutting and chopping enough wood through the spring, summer and fall in preparation for winter.

  6. Steve,
    I am really not seeing advances in heating as being that big. I heat my home with the wood burning fireplace. the fireplace is connected to ducting, and blows warm air all over the home. Burning mequite, I can keep the house nice and toasty all night. I throw two big logs on before bedtime, and the house will be 78 in the morning, even with temps in the teens. I have never turned on our central heat furnaces, as the fireplace does wonderfully. I go through two cords of mesquite in the winter, and the mesquite runs about $200 per cord, delivered and stacked neatly.

    I will grant you that advances in insulation and efficient windows makes a huge difference.

  7. Greenhouses on the mind -- yours, the one I wish for one day, and the tour I was on last night. The Atlanta Orchid Society got to tour the non-public areas of the Atl Botanic Garden/Fuqua Orchid Center.

    I was specifically looking at their cooling systems as they have a very large high altitude/cool temperature collection of orchids. Man! That was the largest wet wall I have ever seen! It worked so well that the metal door handle for the room holding the public orchid collection was cold to the touch, while outside it was in the 90's.

    You are going thru so much effort and trouble to build this greenhouse. We want pictures of you eating the first tomato out of there!

  8. Marie,
    It will be a while before I get a tomato. The construction manual is about 200 pages long, and I am on about page 3 as far as where I am on the work. Constructing the WET wall is very complicated, as it comes in about 200 pieces. The radiant heating system is lots of pieces also.

    Hopefully once the slab is finished, the work will move quicker, as I will not be waiting on skilled tradesmen. I will try to do most of the putting it together myself, maybe hiring a college student to help.

    I have been tempted to try orchids, but for now will focus on things you can eat.

  9. Well, are I can say about you is

  10. The community laundry picture is quite interesting! I, too, admired the different array of aprons the ladies were wearing!

    The construction of the greenhouse sounds to be very fascinating. Thank you for including us at having a glimpse from time to time of the progress! Hope they can saw through the rock, and your trenches will get dug soon!

  11. PJM, there is one orchid you can 'eat'.

    If you are willing, once your greenhouse is up and running in a stable fashion, I will get you a specimen of Vanilla planifolia -- the orchid from which we get vanilla flavoring.

    There are 3 or 4 V. species gracing the Atl. Bot. Garden greenhouse -- great long vines that run over the rafters for yards and yards and yards. They are vigorous, once they get going, and have gorgeous fragrant blooms. You have to hand pollinate, which is no big deal and is done every day in the commercial vanilla trade. The seed pods take 8 to 9 months to ripen, and these are where the flavor comes from. The vines are monopodial climbers, meaning they have a single growing point. Therefore they won't branch all over the place and shade out your greenhouse.

    The ABG has smelling and tasting parties where you can compare the sensory delights of the V. species. OH MY GOODNESS!

    Just a sybaritic thought. ;- )

  12. Just to be clear, I would never nip something from the ABG. I'll just request a cutting from a club member.

  13. Marie,
    I will take you up on your kind Orchid offer.

    Hmmmm . . . maybe next summer a new greenhouse, just for orchids.

  14. PJM -- you have forgotten the MOST important advancement which has brought forth the 3 you did mention - electricity. Without it no pumps for indoor plumbing or washing machines, motors or washing machines and refrigeration. And for those of in the country - RURAL electric systems!! Bless 'em. And I can tell you don't live in the north if you don't think heating technology is right up there! Obviously both Steve & I have darn near killed ourselves trying to heat with wood at some point in our lives.

  15. @ Patrick Cunningham: thanks for that insight - I was wondering at the fact that there wasn't a single lady in that picture who didn't have black hair.

    When I was a kid we did all of our laundry by hand, which really makes you appreciate laundry machines.


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