Monday, May 19, 2008


I have clean clothes and I wish I had a clothesline. It's just one more thing that makes me wonder if I'm in the wrong time. It's no secret that I hate housework, but to be completely accurate I only hate certain aspects of housecleaning. I don't mind vacuuming or dusting and the smell of lemon Pledge makes me a little nostalgic. I love to cook but I hate doing the dishes, which isn't a problem now since all I have to do is load them in the dishwasher and turn it on. Wouldn't you know it? I have some pans and pots that are not dishwasher safe. I'll have to be more careful when I shop. I don't mind cleaning the bathroom but I'd rather not have to do it very often. And, for some reason, I like doing the laundry and hanging the clothes on a line and even ironing.

I'm having some problems with the new washer. It's electronic and I wish now I had opted for the kind that uses a dial you pull, turn and push instead. I went to bed with a problem on my mind that kept buzzing around my mind all night long, but I think I've figured it out. The hose needs to be connected to the cold water connection instead of the hot water connection and that's why it won't run when the rinse is set to cold. I'll fix it after I finish work this afternoon. As soon as I finish writing this, I'm going to take the sheets out of the washer and drape them over the railings on the deck. I hope it doesn't bother the neighbors too much, but I'm looking forward to the smell of sun and fresh air laced with lilac beneath me when I sleep.

I am a creature of my senses and my sense of smell is the keenest of my senses, although touch and taste run a close second, with hearing and sight tailgating. I revel in my sense of smell, especially when it becomes as much an intimate pleasure as it is a simple pleasure, and it's about to get a big dose of happiness in a couple of weeks when the farmer's market opens. That will be a feast for all my senses and I plan to spend part of every Saturday down there picking and choosing and indulging myself. I've decided to start canning and freezing the summer's bounty.

Preserving food is something else I enjoy as much as hanging fresh washed clothes in a line and I get a bonus: those activities are green, or so I've read. For me, it's not so much about being green (See, Kermit? Everyone wants to be green.) but about doing things that bring pleasure and save a few dollars. If I owned this place, you can be sure there'd be plans to convert to solar energy in the works and I'd have a clotheslines somewhere even if I had to dig up part of the parking lot to make it happen. Yes, it's physical labor but that's not a bad thing.

Memories of my grandmother pushing her clothespin bag along the line, a few clothespins in her mouth, while she hung out Grandpa's snowy white shirts and charcoal trousers, sheets, pillow cases, blankets and her dresses and unmentionables, remind me of the little ironing board that Grandpa found for me so I could iron play clothes for my brother and sister and myself. I'd help Gram take down the clothes, burying my nose in the fresh, sun-warmed towels and sheets and filling my heart and lungs with spring, summer and fall. The dryer was only for those days when it was too rainy or too cold to hang out the wash. Gram even let me help sometimes when she did the laundry in an old wringer washing machine, reminding me not to let my fingers get too near the heavy rollers that squeezed out the water when I fed in the pointed ends of cloth. I was very careful and never let the rollers get hold of me.

When the clothes were dry, Gram sprinkled the sheets, pillowcases and Grandpa's white shirts with water from a pop bottle that had a sprinkler stuffed in the mouth of the bottle and then rolled them up and laid them side by side in a big plastic bag. When she finished sprinkling the clothes, she pulled them out one by one, snapping them open with a flick of her wrists and ironed each one. The smell of sunshine and fresh air intensified in the heat as she worked quickly: collars, cuffs, sleeves and body of the shirt. She worked her way through the bag full of rolled up shirts and sheets and her dresses and aprons in no time, emptying the bag and filling the collapsible metal rack with crisp ironed shirts, dresses and aprons and piling the sheets on the table to be carried upstairs and laid in the linen cupboard.

Mom learned something from Gram about the sprinkling part but she seldom got around to the ironing part before mildew speckled the moist cloth in the bag. She picked out the few things that hadn't been invaded and ironed them but the faint scent of mildew hid among the folds when she ironed the clothes. The mildewed clothes went back into the washer. Mom was so glad wen permanent press clothes and polyester fabric came out because it meant she didn't have to sprinkle or iron the clothes any more. I was glad, too, since it meant no more mildew tickling my nose when I huddled under the covers or hugged my pillow in the night. Mom preferred a career to housework.

I prefer an income to starving or living on welfare and food stamps, and I certainly prefer someone else to clean the kitchen and do the dishes, but I could live very happily knowing I had laundry to do that would soon fly in errant breezes under a warm sun to capture the smell of spring warming to summer and cooling to the smoky scent of autumn.

No comments: