Tag Archives: laundry

Imagine

In December, last year, Letizia of reading interrupted. wrote about A Novel Gift.

She told us this:

In 1956, Harper Lee received a unique Christmas gift. Her friends, Michael and Joy Brown, offered her one year’s salary on the condition that she quit her job and dedicate herself to her writing.

The result was To Kill a Mockingbird.

It is a remarkable story of modern-day generosity; citizen to citizen. It is a remarkable story of faith in a friend’s  potential. It is a story of belief in an individual’s ability to make a difference to the outcome of another’s  creative dreams and aspirations; and, thereby, create a richer, better world for all of us.

Most of us are not in a position to be as generous as the Browns, but we all have immense power to  contribute a little to  artistic friends and communities.

We do this by buying bloggers’/friends’ books,

Fearless Fred by Maureen Sudlow

Fearless Fred by Maureen Sudlow

Spirited Ageing by Juliet Batten https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/3902/  Spirited Ageing

Spirited Ageing by  Juliet Batten

Sweet dreams and good health https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/4346/

Sweet dreams and good health; a book of hours  by Sophia Stuart

 

Nose in a Good Book

Nose in a Good Book

Wow, Bumble, what a story http://tinylessonsblog.com/2014/06/23/a-decorated-rescue-dog-stitches-galore/#comments

Wow, Bumble, what a story by Bumble and Tiny

by reviewing them,

by giving a friendly shout-out;

Kampung Memories by Sharifah Hamzahhttps://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/in-other-news-of-caterpillars-and-kindnesses/

Kampung Memories by Sharifah Hamzah

and some of us organise  writing contests, cater for a friend’s concert, donate to crowd-sourcing; and even provide the most basic of support, in the form of very  welcome meals to ‘starving’ artists. And, in return, our lives are enriched by wonderful music and writing and art. Not every artistic endeavour will reach the dizzying heights of To Kill a Mockingbird, but that does not  mean those works we do support, and encourage, are any the less valuable to the general enrichment of humanity. Imagine, if you will, a world of people, well sponsored/cared for by each other, and, thus, all so busy with creative activities that there is neither the time nor the energy to pick up guns and warmonger; to de-create. Imagine! Imagine that with just a ‘little’ it may be  in our power to create that world.

Mmmm….not sure what would happen to the laundry and the dusting and the weeding and the planting in such a  creative scenario but, I  guess, they could be squeezed in somewhere.

Postscript

As I was completing this post, the news came through of the death of Michael Brown. Here is a  link  to the New York Times article.

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the aftermath of Christmas

In the aftermath of Christmas there is quiet.

The guests have gone,

The leavings

The leavings

leaving us in the company of good gifts

Good company

Good company

and the  familiarity of old, sweet  companions.

The security of familiarity

The security of familiarity

We have had a lovely few days of celebration and family but now it’s time to put away the carefully saved wrapping paper and ribbons, until next Christmas,

Packing up for next Christmas

Packing up for next Christmas

and time to resume normal household activities, like hanging the clothes out to dry,

Washing a waiting

Washing a waiting for the sun to shine

and conversing with  the  watchdog  watchcat who keeps the threshold of my home close to her heart,

Guarding the threshold

Keeping the threshold

and tells us how good it is that we don’t have to flee from Herod, but can rest secure in our own dwelling, in the aftermath of Christmas.

© silkannthreades

From Innocent’s Song:

“Watch where he comes walking

Out of the Christmas flame,

Dancing, double-talking:

Herod is his name.”  Charles Causley (1917-2003)

Minutiae

The days are busy; the evenings too. Not with big, important tasks;  just  the minutiae of daily life… . bread to bake, clothes to lavender, meals to prepare, groceries to buy, dishes to wash,  feet to scrub, vases to fill, socks to find,  hair to brush, a friend to visit, a neighbour to chat to, a letter to write, an email to send, a text to answer, and phone calls to make and  to receive….

My mother is improving and gaining strength. She will return home soon, we hope. Her  progress is good. I phone her once, sometimes twice, a day. A hospital is a busy place.  Our conversations are brief.

But I  grab a moment of the call, to talk to my brother or my sister; whoever happens to be with our mother when I phone. They are tired. I hear it in their voices. Whilst one sibling is at the hospital, the other cares for the house and my father. Care responsibilities are 24 hours.

Later, when it is 1 in the morning here, I may phone my sister again. It will be 10pm in Cairns. We discuss the day’s events. I am yawning and, suddenly, my sister switches from talking about hospital matters to something about ‘hammering nails’. I am silent for a while, wondering what this means. My sister is silent, too, for a moment. Then she laughs and asks, “What did I just say?” “Something about nails,” I reply. She laughs again; her great,big, only-my-sister-can-laugh-this-way, laugh. “I fell asleep. I was talking in my sleep,” she says.  A short while later, it happens again. We hang up before our words become any more incomprehensible 🙂

There are other calls to make at other times. To friends; to my aunt, in a rest home, to let her know that her sister is okay; to my uncle and my aunt who are moving to their retirement home. To others we Skype. My father likes to Skype chat. He types well and knows how to use those emoticons 😀

Thus are the smallnesses that occupy my days; that keep my fingers flying, my voice activated, and my brain engaged (mostly).

But there are other smallnesses that rest my body and mind; that communicate by ancient paths and provide calm and continuity,

and call forth joy every morning.

© silkannthreades

The case of the missing socks

Remember  this post  , back in February, when my son, the one and only,  best beloved , left home to go flatting ?…..w.e.e.e.l.l…….I would not need to hire dear Monsieur  Poirot*  (* possible, but unlikely, spoiler alert)  to tell me that said son has returned to the fold. The evidence is clear.

And, if those signs were not compelling enough to indicate a son-in-residence, this one is indisputable.

Where's the Pair?

Where’s the Pair?

How is this possible? Where does the other half go? Perhaps I do need Monsieur Poirot, after all, to help solve this mystery that is as old as the sock itself?  Even if he were not  able to find the missing items, he would surely throw some psychological light on the subject  of sons and socks and mothers who treat their own socks like this ….which is very just so..

But more mysterious than the missing socks,

(and here I might require some fanciful intervention from Mr Kipling because I fear I am now  seeking answers in a realm beyond Monsieur Poirot’s logical mind )

is that mismatched socks may appear in the laundry, but I do not know when my son ever wears socks, in pairs or otherwise. Every time we meet in the house, or in the garden, he is barefooted.

Be that as it may, it is good to hear the noise and the quiet of him again.  And little Jack is thrilled to be able to race upstairs, once more, and find a  ready place to snuggle down with his best buddy.

Number one son, best beloved, may not be home for long. This is just an interlude between the end of the academic year and whatever he plans to do next. Should I suggest a job involving socks…selling, finding, darning, washing, knitting….thereof???

(Isn’t it fun that there’s always a good yarn to be had from a sock 😀 😀 :D?  Yes, you may groan! )

© silkannthreades

Will it all come out in the wash? or Why I need a Sarah’s House Make-Over

It’s Monday, 7 October, 1907, and, in the small town of Ashburton, New Zealand, my great-aunt, writes in her diary that the “Washing and ironing” are done. It is the first sentence of her diary entry. She is twenty, and lives at home, and seems to be Mother’s main helper. Monday is usually washing/laundry day.

Fast forward, Monday, 7 October, 2013, and her great-niece, is writing in her blog that the washing and ironing are not yet done. The washing is on its spin cycle, so it will be ready soon. The ironing won’t be done, unless there’s a national ironing emergency, for ironing is the one domestic duty she resists with a passion. In her modern house, because she has a washing machine, washing/laundry day can be any day, or any hour, and usually is. She is not Mother’s helper and she’s no longer 20.

But, despite the differences in time, place and age, what fascinates me (and, quite truthfully,  often depresses me) is that I am, like dozens of my female forebears,  primarily engaged in ‘domestic duties’. I, in common with  many women, come from a long line of apparently inescapable domesticity.  I have had a wonderful  education and a small, but certainly less than  brilliant, career  , yet,  for all that, here I remain, mistress of domestic duties.

Most of the time, I am very happy being my own boss, in my own home, because I have a good home and a comfortable life. But, sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder what might have been, and I feel sad. Which is silly, since  what might have been, never was!  But, more than missed, mythical opportunities, what really makes me sad and mad and angry, if I think too much about it, is that I devalue my domestic life because, for years and years, and, even to this very day, we are subtly told that our domestic roles/duties are ‘small change’ value, especially  to the economy. They are not  ‘real work’; they don’t ‘count’; they don’t ‘produce’; they don’t contribute to the tax base of the nation.  Our Minister of Social Development and Employment, Paula Bennett, never tires of telling us that being in the work force is where we, women, will find our full potential and our rightful place.

And she could be right, but I am a bit ‘old school’ and believe that the diminishment of domesticity comes  from societies that refuse to take in to account the enormous worth of unpaid female labour in the home and in caregiving roles. Our own  Marilyn Waring wrote The Book  (If Women Counted) on this subject. (Sadly, still to be read by me 😦 ) However, despite progress on how Governments/Countries account for women’s worth in national accounts, the public perception of women’s domestic contribution to the economy, as negligible, remains.

Now, just as my washing has been swirling in the machine, so have the ideas in my brain. And I think I have found a solution that will propel domestic activity to pride of place in our nations. The solution is simple; our living spaces, particularly our laundries, must be redesigned. We must bring the laundries out from the sheds, and basements and garages, and dark, back rooms, and hide-away closets, the bathrooms and the tiniest spaces. We must bring them in to the light and make them a feature room of our homes;  a place of warmth and love , the place that everyone wants to be, and to gather. Move over open-plan kitchen, TV/media room, home library/office, tool shed… welcome to The Laundry, the home of lavender and loveliness, sunlight and enlightenment. Let’s give the laundries a  Sarah’s House make-over  treatment.  Let’s make The Laundry the number one selling point in Real Estate; no more indoor/outdoor flow or street appeal when marketing a property; let’s advertise the beauty and wonder of the laundry room. And, if we can’t go quite that far, at the very least, let’s give them equality of space in our residence.2008-0707_12.pnghttp://www.sarahrichardsondesign.com/portfolio/sarahs-house-2/laundry-room

Whilst we wait for that to happen, my washing needs to be hung. Come with me to my back room laundry. It’s always good to have a helping hand. Together we can see  what, if anything, has come out in the  wash.

Welcome to my laundry; the main space

Laundry; the main space

Laundry; the main space

and all angles

and  all details

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Links for the heavy-duty wash;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWAuDEgRVtE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZPCESR4c2E

© silkannthreades

Stitching Memories

In my much younger days, I was very interested in sewing and needlework. My mother, who believed she was not skilled with needle and thread, arranged for me to have sewing lessons with some of her more skilled friends. As a result, by the age of about ten or eleven, I became quite the little seamstress, cheerily making clothes for myself, my little sister and my mother.  My enthusiasm for sewing was at its peak in those years and, although I continued to sew in to adulthood, it was never with the same exuberance and excitement. Finally, at the ripe old age of 26, I stopped sewing.

I may have stopped sewing, ( anything more than a button on a shirt, that is ), but I remained in love with the idea of sewing; the wondrous process of turning one form of cloth into another shape and size ; the different stitches and seams, the cuts and darts and frills and facings. Not to mention the lovely ribbons and laces and trimmings, and the beautiful hand-made button holes with equally beautiful buttons, usually recycled from that ultimate household treasure trove; the button jar.

When we lived in New Delhi, I was privileged to be part of a group of women who employed a tailor, named Mr Singh. Not just any tailor. As far as I was concerned, he was the most skilled tailor ….EVER. As per our group agreement, each of us booked Mr Singh’s sewing service for a couple of weeks at a time, and, at the appointed hour, he would arrive on his bicycle, with lunch container secure on the handle bar, and his hand-operated sewing machine carefully strapped to the carrier. Then, quietly and efficiently, he would settle in his chosen corner…..and sew and sew;  everything and anything  I asked for. Everything and AnythingFor me it was magic; for him, I suppose, it was merely another day at the office.

Here is a little piece I wrote about Mr Singh in February 2003.

“Mr Singh. Bearded, turbaned, thin as a pin. There he sits, cross-legged, at his sewing machine, in the dim, back room. A silent figure, stitching his magic; making my dreams. I can see him still in the dim back room of my mind.

Why do I see him now? Because today, his stitches, and my dreams, are displayed brightly on the washing line. The duvet cover we created together, from dress scraps and my grandmother’s sheets, is blowing in the Christchurch breeze; glistening white in the glare of  a Christchurch sun. I look at the vibrant colours on white Colour on Whiteand remember the muted tones of Mr Singh; blue and grey,  grey on white, grey on grey, almost a shadow in the shaded back room. Muted Ah, yes, quiet, gentle Mr Singh; a master of many stitches.  I miss his serenity, his dignity, his creativity.”

The photos in this post are all of the duvet cover. I took them this morning in our bright autumnal sunshine. The colours are no longer bright; they have softened with age. Twenty three years have gone by since Mr Singh pieced all the different fabrics together.Marking Time

Sheet notes: the white cotton sheets used for the duvet are at least 50 years old now, and the coloured scraps range in age from  25 to 35 years old. The buttons on the cover would be close to  30 years old . I think they  were salvaged from a dress of mine, made in Zimbabwe!  The duvet cover spends most of its present life in the linen cupboard, snuggled in lavender, in refined retirement. It is no longer subjected to harsh wear and tear and the rigours of washing machine and sunlight.

© silkannthreades

In thrift gear

Every now and then, when the large figures on household bills loom larger than any figures have a right to loom, my brain shifts in to thrift gear. It determines, with complete and utter disregard for reality, that, if I save a little money by making, say, my own soap powder or fabric softener, this will magically  translate in to a less overwhelming invoice. No matter how many times my little forays in to thriftiness are squashed like a fly under a swat, the thrifty portion of my mind refuses to die quietly. Thriftiness is engrained, engraved, stamped and imprinted deep in my being; it’s inescapable and, when thrifty thoughts power forth, I find them irresistible. Such was the case yesterday.

I had barely swigged my morning coffee (yes, I swigged it,) before I was off to the garden to gather fresh thyme and sage for a room freshener and a scented drawer sachet, the inspiration for which came from ‘Household Wisdom’*  .  I dried the herbs in the microwave, crushed them between my fingertips, tossed them into some baking soda, and seasoned the mixture with a few drops of lavender oil. And there, in a trice, was a lovely fragrant powder for a dainty dish, with enough to spare for a sachet.The sweet smell of thriftinessPlease note that, whilst searching for something to use as a sachet, I realised that my brown paper package,  pink tissue paper and green ribbon from my Lizzie Rose purchase was the very something required. It was the ideal receptacle for home-made freshener. And ‘Household Wisdom’ informs me that by wrapping dried herbs in tissue paper I  will always  have scented paper on hand to enfold a special gift. How wise 🙂

But onwards with my day of inspired thriftery… (sorry,  but I was getting tired of the words thrift and thriftiness and I didn’t want to be a penny pincher, which sounds mean.) Next step was to gather up the runty and disfigured early season apples from the front yard and transform them in to stewed apple and apple cake……..Cake + Apple = Apple Cake

but, wait, that’s not all …I  then took the apple peelings and added a few  handfuls  of Chilean Guavas aka New Zealand Cranberries from the hedges by the door, Guavas or Cranberries, take your pick.

and simmered them together in a little pot of lemon flavoured water. After some minutes , the resultant slush was strained to obtain a pearly  pink base for a delicious fruit cordial ( yet to be made!)Pink Lemonade?

What next? Why a thrifty supper, of course. One of my favourites; mini meatloaf muffins. Meatball muffins

The recipe I use is related to a basic meat loaf recipe but my version includes grated carrot and zucchini and plenty of my home-grown herbs for flavouring.  I make small individual meat loaves by baking the mixture in muffin pans. Why? It’s nothing to do with being sparing.  It’s a visual thing. I prefer the look of small portions. Yes, weird, but I digress.

We ate our meat with home-grown corn, tomatoes and beans. We did not have to eat the string or herbs. There are limits to how far my thrift extends.

So, that was my day in full thrift throttle. I am sure I saved cents by the dozens. Yet, despite my best efforts and enthusiasm  those fat, fulsome figured bills remain determinedly fixed and undiminished. They haven’t shed a penny.  Might have guessed. SWAT! SPLAT!

Footnote: I started this post as an idle exploration of life fueled by thrift. However, it has raised a more serious question, and that is, no matter how thrifty and hardworking we are ( and thrift requires a great deal of hard work and dedication), saving money real enough to pay bills can only happen if we have the opportunity to earn, at the very least, a living wage. If that is not possible,  either through personal, unavoidable circumstances or because economic models prohibit full employment, how do we, as a just and moral society, ensure that  non wage earners are provided with a decent living.  I find these articles written from an Australian point of view, very thoughtful and interesting.  http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/payrise-for-dole-makes-sense-20130315-2g5oo.html and http://newmatilda.com/2013/01/30/stand-welfare-state

I don’t know what the solution is but I do know that, as it is on the road, so it is in life. To make the best of the conditions before us,  we  need to change gear from time to time or we will grind to a horrible halt.

*’ Household Wisdom’ by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming

© silkannthreades