Category: Laundry

I Took Notes

Thoughts come to me while I’m hanging laundry. Do yours strike during particular activities?
On an evening out with friends, recently, we came around to talking about chores (we’re all moms or moms-to-be), and one friend mentioned that she genuinely enjoys hanging laundry on the clothesline–she didn’t mean that she finds it a chore she can tolerate, or doesn’t mind doing, but that she genuinely takes pleasure from it. She described hanging the napkins together so they flapped in the wind like a prayer flag. And those of us who regularly hang laundry realized we often do something similar: making patterns, following interior rules about what goes where; in essence, creating something that pleases us aesthetically. Do you have rituals you follow, or patterns you make; or does another chore bring you a similar kind of aesthetic pleasure? I think it points toward the artistic impulse.
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Lately, I’ve been thinking about a particular philosophical dilemma, which is related both to parenting styles and parenthood generally: I think all parents are occupied, whether consciously or otherwise, with finding a balance between individual pursuits and collective responsibility. (This is a societal question, too, and where you land on the scale is probably indicative of your political beliefs).
This balance comes into play in virtually everything I do. Do I push my son to practice piano, or do I hope he will come to develop his own talents? Probably a bit of both, right?
Maybe I need to explain this idea in more concrete terms. I’m thinking about how families work. How very much I would like my children to walk to school together, and to take responsibility not only for themselves, but for each other. However, my eldest wants to walk with his friends: they have made a thoughtful plan for meeting and walking together. I am proud of his initiative, and glad that he has strong connections with friends. But I want him to be a helpful big brother, and I’d planned to have the three kids walk to school together next year. What’s the balance? This one is easy, because we’ve already worked it out. Albus will walk with friends. We have other options for getting his two sisters to school. In this case, we went with the individual, because it did not harm the collective.
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I don’t think the balance between individual and collective is ever perfected. It’s an ongoing challenge. For example, I’ve also been thinking a great deal about how spiritual and artistic practice requires uninterrupted time. There’s no short-cut for this. In order to go deep, you need to enter into yourself while letting yourself go. This isn’t necessarily selfish, but it might appear to be, and certainly can feel selfish, when one is a mother (or father) to small children. Children are notoriously good at pulling you out of wherever you’ve gone–if they need you. And mine seem to need me a lot.
But there’s another issue: If I’ve arranged childcare and freed up time to work, what guilt I feel if the work that ends up getting done is invisible, even to me. If it makes next to nothing. If I sit and stare out the window. Writing a story sometimes appears to be a quick process, but I believe there is a great deal of invisible unknown work going on beneath the surface that makes the story possible.
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One final thought from my laundry-hanging philosophy session. Practice, and consistently doing something, makes that thing easy to do, so that that what appeared impossible or even merely inconvenient proves otherwise. I am thinking of the snack-making. Nothing in the cupboards to pull out, so I whip together cheese and apple slices and raisins, in individual containers, and the kids love it. Nothing in the cupboards, so I pull out the popcorn popper and everyone watches the process, and devours the results.
Yes, it takes more time and effort, but not that much more. The difference is actually inside my own head. Does it feel difficult and hard, or possible and simple?
(I did not get up early most of this week, and I missed it a great deal. So, this morning, I did again, and went to yoga, and appreciated both the effort and the ease).

Laundry Geek

This photo is for all of the laundry geeks: my bed, evening, basket of clothes. Wet clothes. Waiting all day to be hung. In the background, dry clothes, waiting to be folded and put away. Guess how I solved this dilemma? Yup. I put the basket on the floor and went to bed. These got hung the next morning, more wrinkled than usual.
One more confession. This week we had some sick people in this house, and yesterday I chose to use the “home sterilizing unit” (aka the drier on high heat) for one load.
Because the folding and putting away often happens around bedtime, I’ve been getting a lot of help. CJ in particular adores carrying pants and shirts to various drawers and stuffing them in. Sometimes he even gets things in the right drawer. And Kevin’s been helping out more too. All-family-participation in chores: yippee!

Small Change Number One

This photo is off the old point-and-shoot camera. I’m still using it on occasion because it has the obvious advantage of being available on a point-and-shoot basis, while the better camera requires a little more set-up. But I actually took this photo sometime last month, before the arrival of the new camera. I’m only getting to it now. I have a list of blog topics patiently waiting for a spare moment. I’m stealing one right now during bedtime snack, before we head off to the living-room to read another couple of chapters in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (remember Judy Blume?).
Above is illustrated one of my new year’s resolutions … or simply one of the small changes I’m putting into action/planning to put into action this winter. It’s dry in the house. So I retired the crib that had been living beside our bed, and replaced it with drying racks, and began washing one load of laundry (plus diapers) each day. It’s possible to hang one load of laundry on the racks; any more than that and I run out of room, so it takes some planning and consistency to dry clothes in this way. But what a waste to heat up that lovely cool humidity and send it out into the atmosphere via the drier hose.
It’s a small change. It takes time. So far, I’m happy about it.
Hope to get to those other blog topics soon. Seriously, I made a list.

Laundry Line Dilemma; Little Swimmers

It’s a beautiful sunny day in a week that calls for rain, so naturally I’m throwing the clothes onto the line, when I turn around and say … hmmm, that looks kinda counter-productive. Today’s construction innovation involves great plumes of black smoke wafting from the half-filled pit.

On another subject altogether, last night Mama treated the kids to delectable and questionable and surprisingly expensive ice-cream sandwiches to celebrate the end of this session of swim lessons; everyone passed, hurrah. The sandwiches sent the older children into some kind of fugue state of angelic behaviour, while having the opposite effect on Captain CJ, who literally lost his mind. I love the frantic treat-stuffing look in his eyes, below.

Has Anyone Ever Seen the Tooth Fairy, Mom?

Chores. Daily. Update. Albus and Fooey set the table together … but that was as far as it got tonight. Albus straightaway started throwing-up after dinner, Apple-Apple was too engrossed in her book (an odd little story called A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote that involved a seven-year-old boy drinking whiskey with a senile distant cousin … from the school library, and I only skimmed it afterwards with curiosity when I noticed who the author was, and then wondered hmm, what did she get out of this?). Anyway, what with the sickness and the husband trying to get out the door for his hockey pool, I did the rest of the chores in our lovely new red chore box. With the exception of the laundry which I’m leaving for Kevin, assuming he notices the basket when he comes home later. Just realized it must have been exactly five weeks ago that he smashed his kneecap.
I’m feeling a little queasy. Who will be the next family member throwing up? These things never seem to stop at one. Well, we’re already at two, now. Only four more to go!
This post does not fit in with my new daily theme mandate. I’ll have to add a category called Should-Be-In-Bed-Ramblings.
But I wanted to post those photos. Apple-Apple lost her first tooth today–at school, no less. It awaits beneath her pillow in a yellow box from the school office, with an accompanying letter describing how it fell out: “This is the first tooth I lost, I hope you like it!” She’s been restlessly rolling around, waiting for the fairy’s arrival.
CJ climbed onto the stool in front of the bathroom sink tonight and insisted on brushing his own tooth. He even knew to swish the brush under the water to rinse it off, except he couldn’t quite reach. It’s a good thing they make one-year-olds insanely cute because right after this photo was taken he dashed off to the living-room and unloaded the clean laundry basket in less time than it takes to tell the story.
Fooey kept trying to get into CJ’s photo, so I took one of her: “Put CJ in it too,” she instructed, but he was moving too fast. I’m pretty sure that’s a clean sock he’s holding as he rushes off.

Domesticity

Gifts of food …

Two meals from one veggie lasagne.

Chili with cornbread muffins and steamed greens. Enough for leftovers, my lunch today.

Beef stew.

Pizza dough made from a Chickadee magazine recipe, using tomato sauce canned with neighbours last fall.

Banana muffins, finally made after days of planning to bake, with friends over to play and to eat the results.

Confession …

The drier. The drier. The drier! After months of hanging laundry indoors, and despite the fresh spring breeze and welcome sunshine, I have been using our drier. Something had to give on the domestic front, and that is apparently my weakest point.
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