Mill Bay’s Judy van der Boom is wondering why more people aren’t using clotheslines anymore. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson Column: Airing out my dirty laundry

Last week I visited Mill Bay resident Judy van der Boom to talk about clotheslines not being permitted in her strata neighbourhood. Seems silly to me to micromanage a community to that extent but that’s another story for another day.

My chat with Mrs. van der Boom inspired me to take advantage of the sunshine on Saturday and hang my sheets out on the line to dry. I live in a strata neighbourhood, too, but I don’t believe there’s a clothesline ban. (But in case there is, let’s just keep my dirty laundry between us, OK?)

SEE RELATED: Mill Bay woman wants clotheslines allowed in her strata

It is my firm belief that clean sheets hung outside to dry rank right up there with freshly cleaned floors, brand new socks, comfy sweatpants and hoodies a size too big among some of life’s greatest simple pleasures.

Needless to say, I was excited to go to bed that night. With two kids under five, I’m always excited at bedtime, but never mind that. I’m talking about the sheets here.

Being the kind of person I am, when the sheets were dry I had to unpin them from the line one by one and inspect them for bugs. Any and all enjoyment of the sheets is lost if tiny unwanted guests try to sleep over in my bed (and depending on their behaviour, my children included).

SEE RELATED: Sarah Simpson Column: You’re never alone in the basement

I took down the pillowcases in the order I had hung them and diligently examined them, only pausing briefly to show my daughter just how crisp and wrinkle-free they were and how good they smelled thanks to the great outdoors.

It was only a little annoying to have my kids running at full tilt into the mass of hanging fabric. I can’t blame them. I did it too when I was little. There’s something about laundry dangling on a line overhead that makes you want to swat at it and/or run through it.

Nevertheless, things were going well and my grin grew with each insect-free, line-dried pillow case I removed.

Then I got to the sheet. I had already put my fitted sheet in the drier for lack of room on my clothesline so it was only the top sheet left to give a once-over to before I could remake my bed. I looked that flat sheet up and down and all around. No bugs. But wait. What the….was that? No. NO!

Long story short — a bird had defecated on my freshly clean and sun-dried top sheet. My heart sank.

Sure, sure folklore tells us a bird pooping on your property will bring you good luck and great fortune.

The reality is, however, all it brought me in that moment was disappointment.

As humans we are hardwired to respond more strongly to negativity. I guess back in the cave man days it helped us to spot danger more quickly or something, I don’t know. Don’t quote me on it. The upside though, is knowing we are wired to be more sensitive to negative stuff can help us change the way we think about things.

Researchers have learned that you need roughly a five to one ratio for the positive stuff in your life to outweigh the negative. So for every bad thing that happens, you need about five good things to happen in order to maintain happiness.

I thought about Mrs. van der Boom out in Mill Bay and how she wishes she even had the opportunity to have her sheets sullied by songbirds. That made me smile. I find myself pretty funny at times.

Then I remembered the four clean, air-dried pillowcases that smelled so good that I could look forward to on my bed that night. And I thought to myself, well Sarah, four pillowcases to one sparrow soiled sheet, that ratio is not too bad at all.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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