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Clean legacy

My clothes washer died. A few months back it needed a new belt. That cost me a whopping 125.00. This time it was a new drum seal (for 150.00). I figure it is only a matter of time until this clunker will need a new motor or something. Not that I’m complaining; any washer adopted by this family is in for industrial use.  It is only natural the poor thing will rebel against the abuse or kick up its heels and die from exhaustion. Anyway, we decided that it was time to buy a new washer.

Washing is the bane of my existence. We are a dirty family – between my working with the animals twice a day and/or working out, Mark getting grimy on the tractor or in the workshop, and the kids just being kids . . . not to mention that I am constantly washing sheets and towels and what have you, and then we have Denver coming over to do her clothes too. I must spend a minimum of an hour a day, every day, trying to keep up on our endless laundry pile. I don’t know how those people who wash once or twice a week don’t drown in soiled undies. I would.

Anyway, I picked out the washer that could handle the biggest load – three loads in one, like the big monsters at the laundry mat. It has a fancy-smancy electronic panel that assures many cycle choices. It also uses 4 times less water, conserving both energy and water. (Must consider the environment with every new purchase, ya know.) Best of all, there is no agitator in the middle, just some kind of new science that cleans the clothes with spray force and water distribution – water which happens to be recycled throughout the process, to boot. Imagine that! And no agitator means I won’t have to wrestle with all those strings on sweatshirts, spaghetti straps on nightgowns, etc…which constantly get tangled up in middle pole of my traditional washer. Yeah, laundry is gonna be a piece of cake from here on with my new scientifically advanced whirlpool.

They delivered this ultra cool washer today. I had them put the old washer in the garage. We are still going to have it fixed to give to Denver – thus lessening the laundry gridlock around here even more. Yippee.

When the two fellows came to deliver the machine, they stood outside, admiring the house. They commented that they see lots of houses, but in most cases, they all look the same. Ours is truly unique. We hear that a lot, but still it is nice when someone takes the time to compliment your home. So we talked about rustic house design and building in the casual way that is common to country folk. People are never too busy to pause and chat with a stranger around here. In fact, it’s only when you are too busy to exchange pleasantry’s that they know you are not from around here – and they don’t think much of those self-serving, superficial city folk that won’t give you the time of day or look into your eyes when talking to you, ya know.

Having gotten to know the woman of the house a bit, they came inside, looked in my pantry where the new washer will go and said, “Well, what day ya know. Looks like we got a liquor runner here. Whatcha got in those huge tanks? Wine or whiskey?”

I explained that I was making wine. They thought this was marvelous and wanted to hear just how I turned sugar into alcohol and what fruit I used to make the different flavors, so we spent some time talking recipes and techniques. They marveled at the different degrees of clarity of my wines in various stages and asked lots of good questions. Then, they shared a story of homemade wine they’d had before – especially the mighty kick of a particular blackberry wine they were served by friends around a campfire on a starry night. This lead to questions about how I control the “proof” of my wine’s alcohol content, and I explained that when making homemade wine, people sometimes top off the fermenting liquid with brandy instead of water. It’s an option because you must add something so you won’t have air in the jug, yet sometimes you don’t want to water down the taste. Then again, sometimes the alcohol content can be higher for other reasons. Anyway, homemade wine can pack a punch. It’s true.

I enjoyed the conversation as I always do when I meet new people. Up here, people are friendly and curious, but the talk never feels as if they are judging you or setting you up because they want to sell you something or get something from you. Down to earth conversation is just common courtesy in these parts. You take the time to know people, whether they are picking up your mail, delivering your washer, or asking for directions.

Anyway, as they hooked up the washer, we had a lovely conversation about wine making, new fangled clothes washers, and house building. After they were done setting up the washer, they pretended to wrap their arms around a big 6 gallon jug of wine and said, “We’ll just be taking our tip with us now.”

They were kidding, of course.

But the truth was, I was already thinking these fellows deserved a treat. Just this morning, I was labeling my tomato wine  (because I am getting too many bottles to keep the different batches straight so I have to start labeling and sorting.) A case of my tomato and strawberry wine was right by the door. So I pulled out two bottles of tomato and said, “This may not be the tip you are used to getting, but I want you to take this home and try it . . . and the best part of sending you away with a  bottle is that if you don’t like it, I won’t ever know.”

They assured me they wouldn’t be picky about any free bottle of wine, but they were just kidding about taking home wine as a tip, and they didn’t expect me to give any of my precious wine away. But I told them I have more bottles than friends to give them to, and anyone as interested in the subject of winemaking as they’d been deserved to have some honest to goodness homemade wine to sample for a true understanding of the pleasure of homemade wine. They had displayed true delight to learn a person could make wine out of tomatos, so I figured that was the flavor they’d most appreciate trying. 

I really wanted them each to take a bottle home, because frankly, I loved their sincere interest and I’d enjoyed the conversation. So, they thanked me and lumbered back into their delivery truck, smiling and waving, with two bottles of Hendry Valley 2007 Tasty Tomato Wine under their arms.    

This is why I love being a wine maker. A hobby like this not only provides you with a good conversation ice breaker when meeting new people, but makes for small, memorable moments. I suspect these guys will later tell the story of the lady who bought a washer and sent the delivery boys home with a homemade wine tip. And someday, when next they are drinking strong blackberry wine around a campfire with friends, they will talk about the tomato wine they sampled, thanks to a nice woman in a “cool” house with a funky new fangled washer.  Gee, I hope my wine gets as good reviews as my house did.

Country people do love to talk. They share stories casually with anyone who will listen – and plenty do. It’s the small talk woven together that creates a distinct flavor and builds community pride in small towns like this. The residents of Blue Ridge honor and respect the local heritage and maintain a deep appreciation for the traditions and individuals who help make the place unique. They don’t think much of conformity or generic commercial products, and as such, they applaud old fashion innovation. Homemade wine smacks of down home, vintage ways of doing things. As such, my rot gut wine is not only acceptable, but truly admired, and taste has nothing to do with it.

There was a time I might have strived to impress people with my winemaking finesse, but living here, I’ve learned the joy of doing things without regard to high achievement or meeting standards set by others. You just don’t encounter censorship or critique in these parts (except in matters of religion,  but that is another subject entirely). Such acceptance keeps fun at the forefront of your interests, as it should be .

Anyway, I like knowing I’m going to be a small part of the wine folklore in our community. I’ve just added a two minute tale to the millions of stories swapped in daily conversation by people going about the business of living. The subject of my tomato wine will no doubt come up in the most casual and unassuming way. Which makes me a part of this community now. It is always nice to feel a part of something wholesome and good.

Since I’m a gal with the five gallon jug salute for anything worth saluting, tonight I’ll drink to tomato wine, clean clothes and good conversation.  And the marvel of slowly being absorbed into a community legacy. 


About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

4 responses »

  1. That was very cool of you! Not many people offer people delivering their stuff tips or even a drink! But I am still waiting for my wine! haha.


  2. Hi ya Ginny: Apologies for getting through to you through your blog. Remember me? The dude (only dude in a sea of women) in the Flex Kiddance workshop yeeeeeaaars ago? Well, I’m back at it again and would like to chitchat about advancing, continuing, or whatever yours and Mark’s Kiddance Dynasty, here in Asia. If you have the chance please drop me a note or give me a shout on my blog ( BTW, your writing is FABULOUS…but, of course you know this already. Later–


  3. Well, since you’ve  buttered me up by flattering me, I’ll definately get in touch. But it will have to be after christmas…. I have stockings to fill, cookies to make, and wine to drink, ya know…. all part of life after dance.


  4. Hi, man! I’m completely agree with your way of assessment and all of joined.



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