musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser

December 11, 2008

Doing laundry

As I get further into middle-age, I’m sure I’m not the only one who questions now and then how good my memory still is. At one point today, while doing laundry, it occurred to me how many details we remember about something as simple as laundry, with all the clothing items we own and the differences in how best to wash them.

There’s a lot to remember while doing laundry. Each item seems to have its unique quirks, and I remember them all, once I’ve washed the items once or twice. I always dread washing a new item the first time. Washing instruction tags are sometimes dead wrong. You never know what will happen. When washing something new, all standard sorting rules apply, and then some. Once I get to know an item I can relax certain rules.

I remember it all, from washing day to washing day. Which items can be washed together? Which need to drip dry? Which are safe to bleach, and with chlorine or the other kind? And so forth. I remember long past laundry errors, such as washing a bright red shirt years ago with some whites and winding up with lots of pink. I remember exactly which red cotton shirt did that, because I loved it and refused to get rid of it even after it ruined other things. (I only washed it with black clothing from then on.) I wore it until I wore it out.

I remember that this red t-shirt I own now can be washed safely with almost anything and at almost any temperature, and I shudder to think what chemicals or polluting processes were used to get it so colorfast. I also sometimes worry that I’ll grow so complacent about that shirt’s colorfastness that I’ll make the red shirt error in the future with another red shirt. I remember where I bought certain clothing items, how long I’ve had them, and in some cases who gave them to me. I have some pretty old clothes, so that’s some fairly long term memories. I remember to turn one particular shirt that I hardly ever wear inside out to dry it, because otherwise the metal buttons will make so much noise in the dryer that they drive me to distraction. I remember which item is made of so clingy a fabric that it has to drip dry, or it will pick up every speck of lint in the load, even with an anti-static dryer sheet — even if I don’t cut the dryer sheet in half to save money. I remember which wool socks are the type of wool that won’t felt, and I happily toss them in with everything else.

As I finished loading the dryer for the last time today, I thought doing laundry provided a decent test of my memory, and I felt great about the state of my memory. I felt great, that is, until I paused before closing the dryer door, and couldn’t for the life of me recall whether I’d tossed in a dryer sheet.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 3:59 pm PST, 12/11/08

March 6, 2006

No one saw it coming

Last night my dad’s house burned down. It was there at seven-thirty in the evening. By eight-thirty it was gone. Destroyed in 39 minutes. No one saw this coming. No one’s sure what caused the fire, at this point. It appears to have started in a bathroom.

All five people who were in the house got out okay, with only their clothes—or in my dad’s case his pajamas—on their backs.

Life is strange, how it plods along, and then—poof!—a puff of smoke and a pile of charcoal is all that’s left of everything you own, as if it was a cruel illusion—which I suppose it is. Physical things create an illusion of permanence in an impermanent life. Love is all that lasts.

I’m still in shock, and I wasn’t even there. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 1:55 pm PST, 03/06/06

January 17, 2006

What ever happened to aprons?

The latest issue of Piecework features vintage aprons, including a collection with themes like Visit to Grandmother’s Farm, and Cycle of Life. My favorite is the peridot green gingham with cross-stitch embroidery depicting the Eternal Question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Aprons remained in vogue during the entire first half of the twentieth century, when most women worked at home. Sometime during the sexual revolution, aprons lost favor, except for men working the outdoor barbeque, proud of their culinary skills, pleading for kisses as rewards.

A lot of changes took place during that time. In the course of just ten years, my siblings and I went through big changes in what clothing was acceptable, and who was expected to make it.

When my oldest sister was in junior high school, she came home one day upset because her friend had been sent home for her skirt being too short, a crime proven by use of a ruler. My guess today is that either the fabric shrank in the wash, or she’d gone through a sudden growth spurt in the legs. After all, she wasn’t “that kind of girl.” In high school my oldest sister belonged to an organization called Future Homemakers of America. Many of the girls who belonged made their own homecoming and prom dresses. One girl in my sister’s class earned the reverence of her peers when she stitched hers completely by hand. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:44 pm PST, 01/17/06

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