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

February 25, 2007

More poetry

Aside from the novel, I’ve been reading, writing, learning about, and pretty much immersing myself in poetry. I’ve posted some bits and pieces, mostly practice and works in progress, over at Spirit Blooms in the Poetry Sketchbook category. Feel free to drop by there if you’re curious. Though I’ve taken creative writing workshops in the past, I’ve never taken a poetry workshop, and I think I have a lot to learn before I go even that far. Right now I’m refreshing my memory with basics that I learned when I was young but are now a bit fuzzy.

Beverly Jackson has been an inspiration with her poetry posts, (not to mention her abstract paintings — wow!). She recently shared her experiences at the Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway – Cape May N.J. and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival on her blog. She also provided examples and book recommendations she got from poets there. Dig into her January archive to read the first of those posts, beginning here.

Right now I’m reading Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook, which I mentioned in a previous post.

HW Longfellow Postage Stamp

My renewed interest in poetry arrives just in time for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s bicentennial, which the United States Postal Service is commemorating with a special stamp — the second to bear his likeness. Longfellow is one of only two writers to be immortalized on more than one US postage stamp. Herman Melville was the other, a distinction he earned, in my estimation, with The Encantadas alone — his sketchbook about the Galapagos Islands.

The stamp displays a portrait of Longfellow, as well as a depiction of Paul Revere’s famous ride. The Smithsonian Magazine’s online biography, Famous Once Again provides lots of interesting details about Longfellow’s life. I never knew, for instance, that he was proficient in so many languages — ten altogether, at one point in his life. He’s considered the “uncrowned poet laureate” of the 19th-century US, and February 27 will be his 200th birthday.

I’m out of touch with today’s curriculums, but when I was young, just hearing or reading the first line, “Listen my children and you shall hear,” could set the cadence of Paul Revere’s Ride beating in my mind. Do kids still learn Longfellow in school? I was older when I read Evangeline, but the first verse is just as deeply embedded in my mind. I’ve since gone back for a taste, drawn in by the same first lines:

THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers –
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
(read poem)

I had no idea what a Druid was when I first read that, but the poet drew me into that forest and I was hooked. I wanted to know everything about it. I wanted to know what happened to the Acadians who once lived there.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:23 pm PST, 02/25/07


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