IMG_2271A washing machine is a great invention, but last Saturday it almost proved to be my nemesis. Our Shout Sister Choir had a concert in Napanee that afternoon. Except for summer gigs, the dress code is black. Given the warm weather of later September, I chose a sleeveless top and a multi-panel black cotton skirt. The thing was – Saturday was also Day 3 of Kingston Writersfest. Having planned to spend the rest of the day attending presentations and workshops, I had to leave home by 8:30am.

I was pulling on my skirt when a slight discoloration caught my eye: two beige dribbles dotting one of the front panels. How did that happen? I remembered the previous load of laundry; I’d added a splash of bleach to freshen the sheets and pillowcases. That vicious washing machine had obviously injected some bleach into the dark load too.

With no time to choose another outfit, I grabbed a permanent black marker from the pen container by the phone. Positioned at the dining room table, I spread the offending panel over a magazine and coloured in all the beige dots with my Sharpie. It wasn’t perfect but it was certainly better.

The early morning air was still cool. With the car heater on, I felt the full effect of my repair work. I stank of Sharpie. I just hoped the open windows would diminish the smell on the 45-minute drive to Kingston.

In the front row, two silver-haired, stylishly-dressed women sat on the chairs reserved for Author Patrons. I took an aisle seat in the second row. There was a brief pause in their discussion and then one pointed to a large floral arrangement decorating the corner of the stage in front of them. “I wonder what those plants are?”

Her friend inspected the colourful display. “I’m not sure. But I know the Horticultural Society arranges all the flowers for the festival.” Her eyes flitted only briefly toward me. “You’d think they’d choose ones with a better fragrance.”