My washer and dryer.
When I was a teenager, my family vacationed in a picturesque villa in a small town on the Spanish Riviera. Glamorous, right? Well. Lest you think this was as highbrow as it sounds, I would add that the town was so small and its cobbled streets so narrow that vehicular transports (even our miniature rental Peugeot) had to park on the winding road leading up to the village. From there, it was proceed on foot or donkey.
Nestled above a grove of olive trees, with a view of the Mediterranean off in the distance, this villa was, looking back, pretty amazing, but to my teenage sensibilities, it was sorely and unforgivably lacking in the chiefest of amenities. Television? No. Telephone to call friends stateside? No. Microwave? No. (Forget about wireless Internet access - home computers were still a thing of the future, as were DVDs, CDs, cell phones, and iPods. It was the 80s!) As far as my parents were concerned, all of this was wonderful. And, I suspect, deliberate.
But there was one thing that I'm fairly certain even my mother ~ Mrs. Stop-Complaining-About-the-Ice-Cold-Showers-and-Weird-Old-Guy-Who-Keeps-Riding-His-Donkey-Back-and-Forth-in-Front-of-the-Villa-This-Is-So-Charming-and-Rustic! ~ missed, was the inalienable right to do one's laundry by machine. Not only did the villa not have a set of laundry machines, but the entire village was lacking them. Instead, there was a communal clothes-washing depot, where ~ I kid you not ~ rainwater and stream overflow were captured in stone basins with carved washboard panels. To do laundry, one dumped in one's garments, lathered them up with a bar of laundry soap, and rubbed them vigorously against this rock panel. The water from the stream moved continuously through the basins, providing clean rinse water. Voila! Clean laundry!
But . . . not so much. Because in the stream, it was tadpole season. Consequently, the wash basins were full of tiny squirming black tadpoles. Guess what happened when you made like Pioneer Patty and scrubbed your Duran Duran T-shirt against that stone washboard? Polka dots. Our clean laundry was now dotted with black smudges of embryonic wildlife. Rustic!
So now, in spite of the fact that I complain about the 82 loads of laundry I do each week, I am grateful each time I open the lid of the washing machine, pour in the detergent, and follow it with the clothes. I close the lid, turn on the machine, and walk away. Back in the laundry room, a mechanical machine is cleaning the laundry for me, and I can say, with complete confidence, that not a single tadpole will be harmed in the washing of my daughter's Jonas Brothers T-shirt.