About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

The Tao of Town Laundry

The laundromat is a place that most of us stop patronizing once we graduate from college. In rural areas, it's the place you go for town laundry. Town laundry is the wash you do in town with city water. If you don't have a water filtration system for your well water, and have heavy iron content in the soil, your laundry will slowly but surely turn reddish-beige. After a hard rain, iron is loosened in the soil and a slug of red water will shoot into your washing machine. Usually, it happens when you're taking the chance of washing your favorite town garment just this once at home because you just have to wear it Monday.

Living near the best thrift store in northern Pine County, I can easily replace many items once they get rusty. But some items are irreplaceable. Like my yellow-gray op-art dress I call my That Girl dress. That dress is town laundry. So are my son Wyatt's AĆ©ropostale jeans, though to my way of thinking he could get a pair just as ripped up at the thrift store for much less.

Fluff, Fold, and Reflect
Doing town laundry at the laundromat is a liberating experience because there are no household distractions that pull you away from what you're doing. All you do is fluff, fold, and reflect. There's something about performing simple manual tasks that unleashes deep and free thought.

What's going on in a small town?
Start at the laundromat bulletin board.
Each town laundromat has a different atmosphere. The Sandstone laundromat bulletin board messages cut closest to the bone. ("I need work to feed my family.") The Sturgeon Lake laundromat has the best dryers. And the Moose Lake laundromat has the most eclectic reading selection. Often a laundromat is limited to magazines about crafting and country living. In the Moose Lake laundromat, stacks of magazines I've found include Time, National Geographic, Outdoor Life, and most recently, Lavender.

Moose Lake is a lovely little town of just under 3,000 in Carlton County. If you live in town you're just blocks away from a lake, a library, the K-12 school, a coffee shop with wi-fi, a 1919 movie theater, and a yoga studio. Plus, the houses are as eclectic as the laundromat magazines. You'll find a tidy bungalow next to a sprawling Dutch Colonial next to a museum that was once a church.

I heard a commercial for the DQ next door.
A Casual Connectivity
The Moose Lake oldies FM station is always playing at the laundromat. Today I heard my husband Mike's old boss, WMOZ news director Jake Kachinske, read a commercial for the Dairy Queen that's next door to the laundromat. It was a casual, goes-without-saying connectivity that made perfect sense, but made me marvel when I thought about it.

In the morning, the laundromat bustles, meaning three or four people are doing their laundry. At night, while I'm on chauffeur duty waiting for Wyatt, I'm usually alone, swaying to a Commodores tune from the seventies and not afraid to belt it out:

I wanna be hiiiiigh, so hiiiigh,
I wanna be free to knowww the things I do are riiiiiight...

It's hard not to channel your inner Lionel Richie when you hear those lyrics.

All Is Right in the World
So when I leave the laundromat, all is right in the world. The town laundry is clean and folded. I'm well read. I'm just in time to pick up Wyatt. And there's usually enough change left for a treat at the Dairy Queen. At home, when I do laundry, I'm interrupted by the phone, by TVs blaring, by the clanking of cubes in the ice maker, by the kitchen counter that begs to be cleaned. But when I'm doing town laundry at the laundromat, I'm free. And I know that the things I do are right.

Related Posts:
Black Friday at the Bruno Thrift Store


  1. I already have a very clear picture of you, composed and satisfied at the laundry, with the warm damp air surrounding you.

    It doesn't matter how "off" it is. If we ever meet, I'll adjust in a split second. But this? This was perfect!

  2. Being at the laundromat is almost like being in an isolation booth. You have no choice but to do the task at hand and unwind. In my old Mpls. neighborhood I saw a laundromat with free wi-fi, which defeats the purpose. Paula, I do hope we get to meet someday! :=) Susan


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