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Sleeping on sheets with paw prints. Rationing my socks. Rationing my undergarments. Willing to go commando if necessary.

These are just a few of the tactics undertaken this week to avoid having to use the Czech washing machine and dryer while my amazing housekeeper, Eva, is on a well deserved 10 day vacation. We were now on day 7, and while I almost obviated the need to use the pračka — A friend of mine spilled an entire glass of red wine all over me last night. I suppose it was inevitable.

Please understand that I am not adverse to housework. I actually get a perverse pleasure out of ironing. However, when you are blessed with a energizer bunny laundress at your disposal who washes, line dries and irons everything including your socks and sheets; you get a little spoiled if not intimidated — especially when you find everything back in your drawers color coordinated and lined up like soldiers. It is a bit akin to “sleeping with the enemy”, except with one whom you actually adore. Besides, despite my professed technical prowess when it comes to mechanical things, mastering Czech appliances have proved to be above my IQ level.

Furthermore, the wine incident happened at an Embassy wine tasting event where admittedly I consumed well over my tipsy limit. (I obviously was not alone – hence the spilled wine). With a particularly low tolerance for alcohol, I knew better than to drink the full glasses of 7 varieties plus a bit extra of the fantastic Malbec. To emphasize this point I was anointed with the nick-name “One glass Weiner” (Weiner being my maiden name), by my ex-husband who was amused by my lack of capacity. However, I was really enjoying the festive evening, and with a total lack of restraint consumed 5 glasses more than I have done in over three decades.

The notion of trying to figure out how to operate a foreign washer in an inebriated state was going to be a challenge, and to make matters worse — there were torn, badly translated instructions taped to the wall which were by no means for this particular make or model of machine. “Set the programme selector knob on number 1…..”Prague washer-5Not only was there no “program number” to be found on the panel, neither was there a thermostat knob choice of 40-50 degrees. So being left to the devices of deciphering symbols on the main panel, I chose the little hand washing icon to the left in the hopes I would not ruin one of my favorite shirts. Then I pushed the two buttons to the left, and slammed the door twice as I once witnessed Eva do to ensure locking (Leakage in my current constitution would have been disastrous for sure), and then prayed to the washing gods.


Miraculously a little green light appeared in the digital display with the number 40. Wait – does that mean 40 degrees or 40 minutes?? I had no idea, but I was certain that something would happen. Three minutes in and I was no longer sure. Sadly, I sat there experiencing more “Spins” than my clothing. I was having a college experience déjà vu.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSteve added his two useless cents:

 I don’t know why you are trying to wash that stuff. You don’t know how to use the dryer either!! You want me to try some other buttons on here, because it is not doing anything?

Grrrrrrr. “Yeah – go ahead and push the buttons”, I said. NOTHING! Perhaps it was that we should have paid more attention to the instructional “caution” of not setting the knobs in an ANTI-clockwise fashion. I am usually better at following rules.

Forty minutes and a sack of unwashed clothes later — I tried again. And again. AND again. I wasn’t going to let this mechanical beast get the best of me. What I cannot tell you is what dials I set nor what buttons I randomly pushed to get it to work, but I awoke this morning to what appeared and smelled like very clean clothes with stains gone. I confess that I fell asleep 5 minutes into the cycle and apparently missed hours of loud, disturbing noises emanating from the laundry room. Sorry, Steve!

With some extra-strength Tylenol, some very strong coffee, and a much clearer head, I was just about set on dealing with the dryer this morning when it dawned on me — Eva doesn’t use the dryer because she prefers to line dry everything. She obviously can’t figure out how to use her own country’s appliances either!! At least that is my story and I am sticking to it, because I do not know what a “butoon” is and I am not sure I want to.