Pigeons choose how many times you wash clothes!

Some ideas never catch the public’s eye and they die an agonizing death due to lack of interest, poor advertising, improper merchandising or faulty sales. However, the clothespin, whether the one piece wooden style, the colorful plastic variety or the wooden one piece metal spring classic, will never die. This is a worldwide opinion shared by many in America, and everyone in Russia. The automatic dryer in Russia is the wire or rope out the window and the clothespin.

Our seven wire drying rack was located just outside the storage area, immediately off the front room of our third floor flat. It was ugly but it was unpainted. It was versatile and it was a pain. However, it was the automatic solar dryer. It served many purposes and it was our responsibility to discover the other “purposes” besides hanging clothes.

  1. We became aware of the need for the pigeons to have a location to rest their weary feet, and that certainly seemed like one of the “purposes” for our lines.
  2. This also brought into play the babushka’s lines directly above our lines.

The pigeons also rested on her lines, which enabled us to experience some slight difficulties on washday because sometimes we had to wash our garments a second time if our feathered friends found their resting place above our clean wash before we were able to retrieve it off the lines.

  1. On days that were hot, our up-stairs neighbor often provided us with ample shade since her sheets, blankets, curtains and other long, flowing items would hang down onto our apartment line. This kept the hot sun from burning into our apartment in the late afternoons as well as blocking our view out the windows.

With the above picture firmly in your mind, one can now bring you quickly to the significant part. To hang clothes, you need clothespins. We had ten. It quickly became apparent to us that that was not quite enough. So we set about to hunt for clothespins.   I need to be up-front and state that one month late we were still looking for clothespins. I am not saying that we became paranoid about the matter, but our friends were considering not inviting us over until we could solve the “wash-the clothes-hang-the-clothes-with-clothespins” problem.

Then it happened. We were walking down the sidewalk, trying to avoid the cars on Artebekeva Blvd.  It was a beautifully clear day, the people were shopping and right before my eyes, I saw them. “Lorretta, Clothes Pins” I shouted. They were the classic, the wooden ones with springs. They were neatly attached five per side, to a six inch square of cardboard.

We stepped up the rug where the babushka was standing and asked, SKOLKA. (How Much?) She smiled and said some words, which turned out to be 200 rubles Wow, which was twenty cents in American funds! We struck pay dirt! One penny apiece for the genuine, center spring, wooden, classic clothespins. I gave the woman one United States dollar bill and she was thrilled. We placed them in our opportunity bag and hurried home with our treasure, almost forgetting to hunt for other foods.

“we would not give these pieces of wood away unless our friendship with the team was absolutely at risk. Our course of direction could determine our friendship.”

However, this wonderful find of clothespins now produced another far more perplexing problem! We would have to call our Commission friends and let them know of our good fortune. Perhaps they would want us to share this gift with them and how could that be possible?   There were no other clothespins in Krasnodar, this great city of 800,000 people.  If we began showing up with clean clothes, they would know. We would eventually have to tell.

The decision to call about the clothespins was a very difficult one. We had found the treasure, and we had to be firm enough in our resolve, that we would not give these pieces of wood away unless our friendship with the team was absolutely at risk. Our course of direction could determine our friendship. We decided to call after supper, when it would be too dark for them to walk over and pick up the clothespins.

We pulled them out one more time just to gaze at them. Our joy of discovery went into fits of hilarious laughter. Each of the clothespins were carefully taken apart, washed and sanded. They almost looked new. Even the slots where the spring ran across the back of the pin had been cleaned and sanded.

Whoever had done the work was obviously a gifted crafts-man. There were no splinters, the pins were smooth as glass and yet they worked beautifully. My thoughts were “We cannot give these away. They must remain in our possession. They are special and they are ours!” Our deliberations were interrupted by a call from Kristi. She was on the way over to our apartment. This was the decisive moment. We may be forced to tell her. She would be here in half an hour.

He taught us again!

We re-attached the pins to the card, thought about how we would try to look if she forced the issue taking the pins. Then we sat and waited. Soon the doorbell sounded.  She was here, but it was Kristi and Emma. She brought reinforcements! We invited them in with mixed emotions.

They said they could not stay long; they were just bringing us forty clothespins that they had discovered at the Festivalia Market that day and purchased them for us. They reported that Jim had also found some and was bringing them over tonight as well.  “How nice” we said in unison. Theirs were new and they were giving them to us.

We told them, sheepishly, about our find and we all began to laugh together.  Misery certainly loves company and so does laughter. It is amazing to us that our materialistic philosophy was willing to “hide” our horde from others when it was only twenty clothespins worth twenty cents. When one has great wealth, perhaps it is not difficult to share with others “out of the riches”, not giving everything away, but at least sharing. However, how do you willingly share when you believe you have the only clothespins in Russia!

That night, the smallest item in our possession, brought about a major catastrophe regarding sharing. Materialism is not only grasping for the big things in life, it affects even the smallest, most insignificant thing we possessed; a wooden, classic clothespin!

Thank you, God, for using that small piece of funny shaped wood as a big club to teach me another unforgettable lesson on hoarding, materialism and stinginess. The rest of the story is the next days on our food hunts, we found hundreds of clothes pins.

Clothespins seemed to be in every kiosk and magazine (market) where we normally shopped.  However, God made sure this lesson got to me before the glut of clothespins flooded the markets!


Have I yet learned it?



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