The other thing being one of two possibilities:
a) a laundry room
b) having to go outside in the cold winter rain to wash the clothes
Or something in between...
And how did we get to this impasse? Well that's because of Erica's asthma and Lena's teacher's home visit. Clear as mud? I thought so.
While at home on one of my whirlwind visits from the hospital on Monday, I bumped into my sister-in-law Mie, who was taking Amy and Lena out for the day to give my mother-in-law a break. She had brought the girls home to pick up some things, coincidentally just at the same time I was home.
She asked me about their schedules, so I told her the days and times of their piano, swimming and English lessons, and it was while I was searching through the school notices for information about the school pool (the kids are allowed to swim in the school pool during the holidays) that I found the information about Lena's teacher's home visit. I had forgotten all about this summer holidays tradition, just assumed we didn't have it when someone else mentioned it.
Right about that time, Kanji called, with a bawling Erica who desperately needed her Mummy, so I proceeded to run around like a headless chook trying to get some things together and get back to the hospital. I suppose it's because she saw the mess at home, saw how hopelessly unable I was to do anything about it, and knew about the teacher's visit on Thursday that she came around that morning and cleaned my house for me.
(Kanji nearly got the brownie points for that, when I came home and saw the beautifully cleaned house. Should have know he's not capable of that level of cleanliness!)
Anyway, it appears that as a part of the general in-laws cleaning up my house business, that my father-in-law somehow cottoned on the fact that we haven't replaced the basin in the bathroom yet. Last year when I went to NZ, Mie and Baachan both cleaned the house for Kanji before I came back, and then they noticed that our basin was leaking and rotting the wood underneath, and they told us it needed to be replaced.
But we didn't. We don't use that basin much, mainly because of the ginormous mountain of laundry that always ends up in front of it. For hand-washing, we use the tiny basin in the toilet. For laundry purposes, I use bowls with water from the shower, and for tooth-brushing, we started to use the kitchen! So, we figured we'd save a few pennies and just quietly retire the basin.
Now Jiichan has a new basin in the back of his van, and I have instruction to clean out the bathroom in preparation for the new basin. Cool, not arguing, cleaning all done!
To his credit, he didn't just lambast me for poor housekeeping, but twigged that there was simply no-where else to put the piles of laundry. Thus the brainwave to shift the washing machine outside.
Now here's where the hard part starts. I have always sworn that I would never, ever tolerate an outdoor washing machine. Lots of Japanese houses have a washing machine outdoors, just sitting outside the back door. And like any NZer who grew up in a house with a completely separate 'wash-house' or laundry room, I found it totally, mind-blowingly unacceptable.
On the other hand...having a separate laundry has always been No.1 on my list of things I would change about my house if I had a chance. And when Jiichan first mentioned it, he was talking about extending the roof from the back kitchen door, and putting in a few small walls there. This would create a lean-to shed basically, leading directly to the clothesline.
Then the builders came, and declared that solution would be too close to the fence and block off our access. So the plan now seems to be to add a three-metre roof outside the living-room door, with the washing machine in the corner where the house wall meets the kitchen wall that juts out. This of course, is sounding less like a laundry room, and more like a washing-machine outside. OH WELL. I like change. I might like it. I might hate it, but I can always sneak the washing machine back inside I suppose...