Domestic Goddess Meltdown in Praiano

Domestic goddess I’m not. I did my stint. Raised a family. Managed to feed, clothe, and nurture three daughters into high-achieving adulthood. Was not as successful with husbands.

I’ve created a life in Bali that doesn’t require the skills I lack. But I’m in Italy for a month and I’ve found it necessitates a bit of do-it-yourself-ing.

You’ll need a frame of reference. At home I have a college dorm size refrigerator, a cooktop, and a yogurt maker. That’s it. No oven, no dishwasher, no mixer, not even a rice cooker. Why? I think you’re getting the picture. I don’t cook.

In Ubud there are 700 restaurants within steps of my door. In Praiano I’ve found one that’s open. The rest are closed for low season. Time to sharpen those non-existent homemaker skills.

I rolled up my sleeves and tackled the electric teapot. Easy. Then the toaster. Nothing to it. The espresso machine was slightly more challenging but after a few bungled attempts I mastered it.

The toaster oven? I hid it in the cabinet – frivolous, unnecessary gadget. Won’t go there.

And the dishwasher? The control panel looked like the console of a commercial jetliner. I snapped the door shut and turned with gratitude toward the old-fashioned sink, faucet, and drainboard.

Over this first week I’ve grown comfortable with the kitchen conveniences. But today was day eight and I was out of clean clothes.

There’s a cute little washing machine tucked under the counter. It’s compact like the cars here. Very European. My host introduced us briefly when I arrived and it looked like every other automatic washer I’d seen. I didn’t give it a passing thought. Big mistake.

Unaware of impending doom, I gathered my soiled clothes, stuffed them inside and closed the door. I studied the controls…

and studied…

and studied.

Holding my breath, I pushed a button. Then another. Nothing happened. What was I missing?

Before I started, I’d glanced at a leaflet lying on top of the machine hoping for a how-to guide. It left me just as baffled as I already was. I picked it up again and noticed something I’d missed. At the top, written in pencil, was the helpful inscription, On power switch is beside kitchen window.

I walked to the kitchen window and turned the power switch on. The washer beeped.

When I pushed buttons this time, red lights flashed. Progress. But the machine still didn’t start. I twisted the knob and tried every combination of buttons available. Nada.

Frustrated, I sat back reminding myself I’d been washing clothes for a very long time and this couldn’t possibly be that difficult. Then I made another stab at the buttons.

What’s the Einstein quote about insanity – doing the same thing over and over expecting different results?

Should I call the landlord and admit defeat? Take a direct hit to my pride?


I Googled YouTube: Instructions for operating Aquamatic Class AA 800 rpm, and guess what? Within moments my clothes were swishing happily.

There’s no dryer, maybe a good thing under the circumstances. But in the storage room a monster rack looked like it could do the job. I wrestled it to an upright position – easier said than done – and dragged it into the bedroom.

The washer droned on. I kept a suspicious eye on it while tending to emails, not fully trusting it would do its job without further intervention. But finally, with a hiss and sigh, it stopped. I emptied it and festooned the rack with clean, sweet-smelling clothes.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I have this ridiculous sense of achievement that is grossly out of proportion to the task accomplished. Like I climbed Mt. Everest. Or swam the English Channel. Go ahead and laugh, but if this is the way it feels to conquer a machine, I may just give that toaster oven a go.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stevecastley
    Feb 11, 2020 @ 06:32:15

    Loved this! I would be in exactly the same boat. Good luck with that toaster oven!!!



  2. Pat Malcolm
    Feb 11, 2020 @ 07:14:33

    I also googled instructions for the washer in my airbnb in Dublin, and took pictures of my clean clothes on the drying rack I found on the patio outside the kitchen door. I think the thrill I felt was that I was a resident, not a visitor! Silly, but as close I would be able to get. Not in your scenario: I was traveling with daughter and daughter-in-law, a did their laundry, too.



  3. Diane Struble
    Feb 11, 2020 @ 18:34:37

    Give yourself a pat on the back. You have earned it.



  4. Trackback: La Scaletta – A Personal Tour of My Praiano Hideaway | writing for self-discovery

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