A Lesson in Feathers

:: in which we explore the limits of our spouse’s patience ::

And that’s why we don’t put feathers in the washing machine.

Oops, that’s the moral of the story.  Perhaps I should back up and tell you how I learned that lesson.

I think feathers are one of the most elegant things in creation.  [For a good read, check out the not-entirely-unrelated short story “Pigeon Feathers” by John Updike.]  They’re so beautiful.  But they’re also filthy, especially when they have been wet-plucked from a dead chicken who was lazy and liked to sit in her own poop.  Such were the feathers I wanted to save after butchering my first meat chicken, Rosemary.  In my quest to make use of all parts of the bird, I planned to use the feathers for jewelry, accessories, and other crafts.  After plucking Rosemary, I had a bucket full of wet, scraggly feathers that were dirty and yucky.  They didn’t look like anything you’d want to craft with.  Or touch.  Or bring inside the house.  So I did a little reading on the internet, and decided I would wash the feathers in my washing machine.  The same one I use to wash my family’s clothes.  The one I use DAILY.  I’m foreshadowing here people, try to stay with me.

To enlighten you on what happened next, here’s a completely imaginary conversation between my husband and me:

Longsuffering Husband: Darling, I noticed there is a large pile-up happening in the laundry room, and…er…um…(walking on eggshells, trying not to get in trouble with lovely wife)

Lovely Wife: I’m working on it.  I got behind because of the water.

Husband: What water?

Wife: The standing water.  The machine won’t drain.

Husband: Oh no.  Why didn’t you tell me?  I’ll have to take it apart and see if I can fix it.

Wife: No, it’s fine.  See, I just let the load run about half-way through, and then wait for the beeping error message.  When that comes on, I drag out the sopping wet clothes, plop them into the dryer, manually drain the washer, and then do the next load.

Husband: Uh, what?  How long have you been doing laundry like that?

Wife: About a week.  It’s fine.  The dryer takes two and a half hours to run because the clothes are so wet, but no, it’s fine.

Husband: (sighs) We’ll have to pull the drain assembly apart and see what’s wrong.  It might be clogged.

Wife: (nervous laughter) I’ll do that!  Yeah.  Why don’t you go…um…sit on the porch with a beer or something?

Husband: What did you put in the washer?

Wife: (mumbling) Feathers, maybe.

Husband: A feather?

Wife: FeatherS.  Plural.  Lots and lots of feathers.

Husband: (blank stare)

Wife: I washed Rosemary’s feathers in the washing machine, to get them clean.  So I could craft with them.  And they may have clogged the drain, I don’t know.  Okay, before you say anything, I know NOW not to put feathers in the washer, and in advance of you opening the drain and finding anything I just want to say I’m sorry.  And I love you.  So much.  And you look very nice today.

Needless to say, the drain assembly was difficult to take apart.  It required many trips to the garage for the right tool, and it used up many of Longsuffering Husband’s limited supply of swears.  And guess what we found when it finally came loose?

Lots and lots of feathers.  As if cleaning out a clogged drain of any kind isn’t gross enough, did I mention that wet chicken feathers smell like death warmed over?  The upshot was that cleaning out the drain did the trick, and the washer is working better than ever.  I do owe the dryer an apology box of chocolates, for all the extra work I made it do during that week.  And yes, I now have a bag full of clean, pure white, fluffy, oh-so-soft feathers for crafting.  To wash the next batch of feathers, I won’t use the washing machine.  Instead, I think I’ll try this other method I read about on the internet.  What can go wrong?

clean at last
clean at last

3 thoughts on “A Lesson in Feathers

  1. If you had put them in a lingerie bag…do you think they would have avoided the drain?

    In other news, I love your writing. Not surprising given your equally entertain FB posts. Way cool blog, Hickey!!



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