Posted tagged ‘washing clothes’

“Memory is the space in which a thing happens for a second time.”

February 9, 2018

The sky is cloudy but bright. It is only 31˚, but the next three days will be warm. The prediction is for 48˚ each day. That’s almost tanning weather, no sunscreen necessary. Maybe a road trip is in order to take advantage of the warmth. I’ll open my car window and take in the sweet smell of the clean air.

Since the winter solstice, we have gained an hour of sunlight. It makes me hopeful that winter’s end is not so far away. February, though, is sometimes the snowiest month. I’ll just keep my knit hat and mittens handy.

In summer, the trees surrounding my deck are lit with candles hanging off the branches. In the backyard, solar lights shaped like flowers glow and a few strands of white lights are twisted around tree trunks. I always think my yard a fairyland, especially in July when the fireflies return and twinkle among the trees. Now, in the bleak winter, the one strand of lights around the deck fence has stopped shining. I need to replace it. I always love looking out the back window and seeing those lights.

I always think it is the darkness of winter which palls the spirit so I do my best to compensate. I keep white candles lit in the front windows, and their light shines across the dark lawn. This year I left my Christmas lights lit in the front. One is a giant star with a trail of lights. The others are multicolored. My neighbor across the street has called to thank me for leaving the lights shining. She said she loves looking out the window at my house.

Winter is my time of memories, of introspection. I don’t add much to my story, but I recall to mind the best parts. I smile a lot at the images in my mind’s eye. My journeys, my explorations, are the brightest memories.

During my travels, I learned a few things. I hate washing clothes by hand. I decided that for any trip of great length I’d pack ragtag underwear which I can just throw away. It isn’t a big deal for me to find any. I can just check my bureau drawer. The rest of my clothes can get so grungy they can walk away by themselves. I won’t care. I’m not washing them. I learned never to ask what I’m eating.  Many of the traditional foods are pets here, like the guinea pig in Ecuador. I think I can eat just about anything as long as I don’t know what it is and it isn’t slimy. Bras are a great place for hiding money. I had my pocket picked when I was at a train station in Ghana. I’d like that thief to try it now. Toilet paper, always carry toilet paper. Sometimes you get stuck and have to rush, and those hole in the ground toilets don’t have toilet paper. Just imagine. The middle of the bus and a seat near the window are usually the best. The aisle fills with standing people who hold on for dear life as the bus goes around corners but sometimes they fall, into the aisle seats. The front and the back of the bus are where people sit with their chickens or goats. Eat where there is a line, especially street food. Don’t shy away. It’s sometimes the best and is usually the cheapest. If everything pales compared to home, just stay home.

“I am too young to be called wise and I am too old to be called young.”

January 16, 2017

Today is winter warm. The sun is shining and the sky is pale blue. In all respects it is a pretty day.

This morning I had a burst of energy. The laundry got put away, and the next load of laundry is leaning against the cellar door. I expect I’ll wash it later. I brought the vacuum up from the cellar. I washed a few cups and glasses. I even got dressed. It has already been quite a day.

Growing up, I never learned any household skills. My mother did everything. She even made our beds. When I was first on my own and the washing machine buzzed, I had no idea why. I took out the clothes, wrung them close to being dry and put them on the line. I had an apartment my junior and senior years in college. Almost everything I ate came from a can. Dinty Moore’s Beef Stew was a favorite. It had everything: meat, potatoes, and vegetables. I ate a lot of spaghetti with jarred sauce. I also ate several meals of hot dogs and hamburgers. They are still two of my favorites. When I graduated from college, I could wash clothes and understand the buzzer. I could sort of cook. I could also teach English.

If, when I was 11 or 12, I was asked what my life would be like when I was retired, I would have had trouble answering. Being old enough to retire was way beyond my ability to imagine. Even being in my 20’s seemed really far away., but I was sure of a few things. I’d travel the world. I’d write books about my travels. My life would be exotic. Auntie Mame and I would be kindred spirits.

Okay, how’d I do? I’ve traveled the world. Though there is still so much of it to see, I’ve done well. I’ve traveled on three continents. I have lived in Africa, an amazing adventure, an exotic adventure. I haven’t written a book, but I do write. That’s sort of a half-done. I never became an Auntie Mame. She was so flamboyant I could never pull off her style. I live for comfort. I suspect Auntie Mame would be horrified with my wardrobe.

Some things I’ve learned have amazed me. Cooking and baking are two of them. Doing needlepoint and crewel are two others. Never did I see any domesticity in my future. My 12- year-old self would laugh, heartily.

 

“I make no secret of the fact that I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it.”

March 14, 2016

I woke up late this morning and rushed over to my neighbor’s house in record time for our Monday’s at 10. My back was so bad I stopped three or four times before I got there. Today is cold and dank and doesn’t bolster my spirits in any way. I am sick and tired of winter and the few days of pseudo spring we’ve had.

The first load of wash is in the machine. I got tired of looking at it leaning against the cellar door. A second load sits on the floor waiting its turn. Adam and Eve before the apple had it easy.

When I was growing up, I never realized how much work my mother actually did around the house. I’d see her making dinner but that was about it. While I was at school, she cleaned, vacuumed, made beds, washed clothes and ironed. My empty bureau drawers would magically fill. My bed would be made and my room cleaned. I never gave any of that much thought. I don’t think I ever said thank you. I just supposed it was what mothers did.

I am living by myself which I quite enjoy. There are no expectations. Today I might do this or I might do that or I might do neither. I make lists only when I have lolled far too long. I believe a written list of chores is binding much like Moses must have felt walking down the mountain with the ten commandments. If the chore is there before my eyes, I have to do it though that’s where the comparison with Moses ends. His was mostly a don’t do list though there were a couple of have to’s. I am quite faithful to finishing my lists, and I cross off each completed item with a flourish.

Coffee was going on hiatus today but then I got started and the words just poured out. My two typing fingers had quite the work-out. I do have to stop, though, my first load of laundry is done and needs to go into the dryer. A woman’s work is never done, sort of.

“I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.”

March 5, 2016

I want to yell out my window, “I’m mad as hell, and I won’t take it anymore,” but I’d probably freeze myself and the house in the process. March winds blow cold. The sun is a background ornament, bright but useless. Warm weather is supposed to be arriving next week. I hope so as I truly need one deck day to rid myself of winter malaise.

When I was a kid, I never minded winter weather except when it rained. I hated winter rain. I swear my wet clothes used to freeze on the walk home. My jacket stiffened from the ice. My wool mittens got wet and useless. My fingers were red from the cold. Water bubbled from my shoes when I walked. My hair hung down on my face and sometimes dripped onto my neck and down the back of my jacket. Winter rain is relentless.

Summer rain was a gift. It cooled a hot day. Steam would rise from the sidewalks. We’d stay outside and get soaked knowing when the sun reappeared, it would dry our clothes. I’d splash puddles and watch the water fan. We floated paper boats down the rivers streaming in the gutters next to the sidewalks. I’d ride my bike and head for every puddle. I remember taking my feet off the pedals and letting my bike glide through the water. I don’t remember my mother dragging us in when there was thunder and lightning, but I guess she must have. Either that or we were just plain lucky.

Today is chore day. My laundry bag is spilling over. The clean sheets have sat on the chest at the foot of my bed for three days. It’s about time I got to them. The plants need watering. The kitchen needs to be swept. I know as I do one chore two more will pop up. Just now I noticed the wire connecting the computer to electricity was dirty at the top, close to the computer. I stopped writing, went to the kitchen, got a Clorox sheet and cleaned the wire. It is going to be one of those days. I blame it all on winter. Ennui is the perfect description for my mood today.

“Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity.”

March 30, 2015

Yesterday was a gold star day. I was busier than I have been in a long time. Maybe the weather prompted all the industry, maybe boredom. It’s difficult to decide. I emptied the litter boxes then checked the fridge for expired foods, packed the trash and recycle bags into the trunk then Gracie I went to the dump. My thinking had been to go late figuring the dump would be quiet. Wrong! It was filled with cars waiting their turns to get near the bins. We were lucky and didn’t have to wait long. When I got home, I filled three bird feeders and two suet feeders. This morning the birds were back. I watched them from my kitchen window. The regulars, chickadees, nuthatches, goldfinches, titmice and woodpeckers, flew in and out grabbing seeds every time. The woodpecker stayed a while eating suet. A gray spawn ran up and down the deck rail but didn’t go at the feeders. He was looking for spilled seeds. Yesterday afternoon I fixed all the timers so the outside decorative lights come on and go off at a decent time, not three in the morning. I did two loads of wash and didn’t leave a load in the dryer, so unlike my usual habit of letting a load sit for a week or two. This time I folded them and even put them away.

All that industry still perplexes me. Usually I plan those chores over a few days or even not at all. I don’t like to tire myself. Today I was thinking of cleaning out the cabinet but I was able to stop myself in time. Maybe I have caught the spring cleaning bug. I know I wasn’t immunized against that one. I guess I’ll have to use self-control.

When I was a kid, I didn’t have any chores to do. My mother pretty much did everything. She made my bed every day and did all the cooking and all the dishwashing. Sometimes I’d help clear the table, but that was it and it was voluntary. I never thought about it. That was the way it was in my house. My brother emptied the basket. That was his chore. He complained of inequality but nobody listened. I think it was sort of idyllic.

The day is decidedly ugly: damp, cold and grey. Showers are a possibility. My dance card is filled this week. Today is my only sloth day, and I’m taking full advantage. I figure I deserve it.

“I collect clothes-they keep building and building. I buy them instead of having them washed.”

September 14, 2010

The morning is gone. Blame my tardiness on the sun. Because the day is warm and lovely, I dawdled and sat out on the deck for the longest time, even after I’d finished with my coffee and papers. I watched the birds. The goldfinches are back, mostly males still bright and beautiful in their summer colors, and my crow too is back. He watched quietly from his usual pine tree perch. A slight breeze wafted the aroma of food from my neighbor’s kitchen to my deck . The aroma is both familiar and foreign. It is familiar because I smell it often and foreign because I have no idea what’s cooking. My neighbors are Brazilian, and when I ask about the food, I get the name of the dish in Portuguese. I also get a list of ingredients, but that doesn’t help all that much. Some of those are in Portuguese as well.

The winter covers for the new furniture arrived yesterday, but I left them in their boxes. It’s not yet time to give up the deck. When a sweatshirt and the chiminea stop being enough to keep me warm, I’ll cover the furniture.

Because yesterday was a work day, today I play. That’s one of the rules I established when I retired: no two days in a row are to be wasted on any sort of work. The only exception is making the bed. That’s no chore for me. It has to do with my innate need for tidiness.

My mother never made us do chores when I was growing up. That was just the way it was, and I never gave it any thought. She made our beds, washed clothes and did the dishes every day. When we came down in the morning, breakfast was on the table, and our lunches were already packed for school. I’d throw my dirty clothes in the hall hamper, and a day or two later they would magically reappear washed and folded. It wasn’t until college that I learned to use a washing machine.

On a recent Peace Corps Ghana blog, I saw a picture of line after line of clothing drying in the sun. The caption described the clothes as belonging to trainees who had washed them in buckets. Not once did I ever do that. Even during the first two weeks of training, people found a laundry lady. We’d bring her our clothes one day and fetch them back the next. Our per diem money during training was small small, as they say in Ghana, but none of us ever thought paying for laundry was extravagant, especially after we saw a Ghanaian iron. It was kept hot with charcoal.