I’m in love with a dream of what the past was, who I might have been, and what life could be. Every so often, I need to take some time and remember to be grateful for these glorious post-19th Century machines that work in my place and let me have a day-to-day life that is nothing short of prosperous.
Here is my love letter to these machines. I hope writing it will help me remember that I am so thankful to have them in my life.
Washing Machine, you save me from so much physical labor. You use whatever detergent I throw at you without complaint. The only times you didn’t wash clothes correctly were when one of us humans added too much detergent for the load size. I literally cannot imagine a life without you waiting for dirty clothes down in the basement. My mother taught me how to use washing machines before she would let me anywhere near a stove, so operating you was likely the first chore I ever learned. I’ve read a few articles and abstracts saying that you’re a quiet hero of women’s liberation. Thank you for your ubiquitous presence in my life.
Dryer, you’re a tricky one to take care of. I want to free you from all the excess lint you likely have inside, but that’s more involved than any maintenance I’ve done on anything else before. In the meantime, I won’t scold you for sometimes taking more than one cycle to dry our clothes and bed linens. I made some wool dryer balls to help you in your tasks, and I think that they must be more pleasant to juggle than the spikey plastic balls we used before. Thank you for always being ready if I need something to dry in less than two hours.
HVAC Systems, you do a lot of work all year round without a rest. Even in the spring and fall, when we open the windows and temporarily stop managing the temperature, we still have the fans running at least once every hour. Furnace, you keep me from freezing. Air Conditioner, you keep me from overheating. Blower Fans, you keep the air in the second floor where I sleep from being stuffy and thick. Smart Thermostat, you let me keep the relevant portions of the house heated and cooled the way I need them to be. I no longer need to guess what temperature in the area around the thermostat will translate into a good temperature for me on the other side of the house. You all keep me so consistently comfortable, I don’t even know how good I have it. Thank you for working together to spare me the endless effort of needing to keep a fire going in a hearth.
Hot Water Heater, I don’t give you enough credit for letting me enjoy warm water directly out of the tap. When you broke in March 2020, I lived without you for a few weeks. The water we had was ice, ice cold without your tempering influence. Thank you for working again. Heating up water on the stove and transporting it to the tub to have a bucket shower was neither fun nor quick, and I appreciate that you allow me the luxury of not having to do that anymore.
Dishwasher, how I adore you. You were missing from my life for nine years, and I never learned to adapt to your absence. I just despise washing dishes, and you just pick up the slack so perfectly. You are smaller than standard and were much more expensive because of it, but you’ve been such a blessing. Both your racks are safe for “top rack” only items, and your upper rack can adjust in height so we can wash more in you at once than might be supposed by looking at you. You tell us when you’re running low on rinse agent before we run you and save us from having poor results. Thank you for washing glasses that are too small for my partner’s hands. You save him from getting more potential wounds while washing glass. It always feels like the day didn’t live up to its full potential if I don’t run you.
Stovetop and Oven, I think my favorite thing about you is that you are fueled by natural gas. It really helps to calm me down when I get worried about power outages that we can use you as long as we have a lighter. Thank you for being in the Habitat for Humanity Restore when we arrived needing a stove. Besides food, you have heated up untold gallons of water that we’ve used to make tea on a daily basis. Thank you for just turning on at the twist of a knob and providing me with cooking flames without needing to be minded all through the day.
Fridge, you have been so good to us. You are one of the few major appliances that came with the house that is still in good working order. Thank you for never giving us headaches and for keeping our food fresh. I can fantasize about having a pantry full of preserves all day long, but each of those jars would have to be stored within you the second they were opened. Thank you for making it possible to eat fresh salad greens and meats several days after purchase.
Chest Freezer, you’re a modern marvel. Thank you for being in our lives and hugely expanding our freezing potential. You give us flexibility that we didn’t have before you, and you let us now stock up on those delicious seasonal goods that we want to have access to all year long.
Blender, you’ve been a true hero of our kitchen, taking on the jobs of several specialty tools. Milkshakes, frozen fruit smoothies, hot soup purées, quiche, and hot sauce have all been possible because of you. You are not as convenient for soup as an immersion blender, nor as powerful as a food processor, but I hope I never forget the lesson you taught me that sometimes “close enough” really is good enough.
Slow Cooker, I love you. You were the house’s Christmas present a few years ago, and I will buy another of you instantly if you ever break. I don’t want to be without you. It was a difficult thing to find recipes that understood how to use you well without turning everything into an accidental soup, but you cook us amazing food now that we’ve found the good recipes. Thank you for saving us so much time standing in front of the stove. Thank you for letting me contribute to cooking dinner on the days that I work late.
Bread Machine, you have been such a great birthday present. You have been a major helper in our struggle to cut down on our food waste. I don’t know why I suddenly wanted to be able to bake bread in 2019, but it has been a great adventure since. You are letting us experiment with whole wheat flour now, and it is so wonderful to be able to make bread precisely how we want/need it to be without being dependent on what is available in our grocery stores. Thank you for letting us have bread roughly three hours from when we remember that we need it.
Ice Cream Machine, what a luxury you are. I can hardly believe that you’re in my life, but you were an early birthday present this year. Thank you for having a compressor and letting us have ice cream about 40 minutes after we decide we want it without worrying about freezing a mixing bowl. When we get more adventurous, you’re going to let us make some flavors we can’t find from commercial ice cream. I was totally blown away last time I had to pass by the ice cream section in a grocery store, because it suddenly had no appeal. Thank you for freeing me from a compulsive desire I didn’t even know I had. Thank you for letting us make wine slushies and frozen yogurt, in addition to ice cream and sorbet. Thank you for being so ludicrously fancy. Thank you for making these frozen desserts feel like treats again, instead of just something else that we toss in the shopping cart.
Pasta/Noodle Maker, thank you for giving me a way to eat pasta without having to store all those big boxes of dry pasta that were overwhelming our pantry. Thank you for allowing me to make chickpea pasta and whole wheat pasta when I want. You let me make a choice over my food that I just didn’t have when buying pasta from the store. Ours was a whirlwind love affair, an uncharacteristically quick turn around from me learning that you exist, to wanting you, to finding you used for sale on eBay and purchasing you. I splurged and got new aftermarket shaping discs for you, so hopefully you can supply the entire breadth of my pasta and noodle needs. Thank you for being the petite model with a noodle capacity sized for two people, because it’s helping us slowly learn to portion our food better.
Rice Cooker, I don’t know if we would ever eat rice without you. You let us cook jasmine rice, basmati rice, and quinoa without thought or effort, and you never burn it or cook it unevenly. Thank you for your presence in our meals, and for never giving us trouble when we need you.
Microwave, I know I talk a lot of game about wanting to not rely on you anymore, but you’re still on my counter and you still reheat my food quickly when I just want to warm up an individual portion. Thanks for continuing to work while I take the time to learn how to stop relying on you. I think you’ll be on my counter until the day you simply don’t work anymore.
Aerogardens, you are nothing short of amazing. Thank you for finally helping me grow plants after years of trying and failing in balcony gardens. Basils, lettuce, Swiss chard, dill, resina calendula, cherry tomatoes, and hot peppers were all grown in 2020 thanks to you. I’m convinced that it’s my success with you that contributed to the conversion of some of our front yard into garden beds, the planting of certain perennials in our yard, and emboldened us to try harder in the community garden in 2020. Thank you for just working the way you said you would. You bring magic into my home. Thank you for being the grow lights that my darling coffee plant needs. Thank you for having lights that look white while we’re in the same room as you!
Roomba, you are the easiest machine to anthropomorphize. My silly, darling Bumble, thank you for the entertainment as you keep my floors clean. Every single day when I empty your dust bin, I’m so grateful that you found and removed so much dust, grit, and cat hair from our home. I don’t know how many days without you running it would take before I could visually tell the difference, but I know that I can tell by feel after even one day of your absence. Thank you for being so very easy to dismantle and clean. Thank you for being so well-designed that you just fit under all our furniture that’s elevated off the ground. Thank you for reliably taking care of a task every morning that once felt overwhelming to me.
Convertible Stick/Handheld Vacuum and Shop Vac, thank you both for being there for me when I need you. I might not use you every day, but my home would be so much worse off without you. It’s wonderful to see what an impact you have on an area, especially you, Shop Vac, who I call in on all the big jobs like vacuuming up sanding dust from our floors during the refinishing process. Honestly, I don’t think I could get results as good as yours with a broom and dustpan, even with unlimited time. Thanks for coming out to tackle areas that would be too far gone without you.
Sewing Machine, I bought you my sophomore year of college. How many yards of fabric have passed under your foot? You helped me create so many lovely lolita skirts and Halloween costumes. You helped me make face coverings when I needed to make them for myself, my friends, and my family in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to use you more, but my back gets too uncomfortable too quickly for long projects. When my craft room/wardrobe is set up, you’re going to get a place of honor (and hopefully a dedicated table that will be more comfortable to sit at). Thank you for existing and sparing me the horror of hemming the sides of curtain panels by hand.
Serger, you came at just the wrong time in my life. It is entirely my fault that I don’t use you more. I’m at a stage in my life where I would like to elevate my garment construction practices, and you will be so handy in the future when I sew again. Thank you for waiting for that time. You’re such a marvelous Christmas present.
Circular Knitting Machine, you’re just pure fun. You let me make knitted tubes to much faster than I could ever dream to do by hand, which lets me do magical things like make a full ruana in a week and a hot water bottle cover in a day. Thank you for being so reliable for me, especially as you’re considered a knock-off. Thank you for having 48 needles that make playing with ribbing patterns so easy. Getting you for Christmas was very much like getting a new toy in all the best ways.