Monday, June 30, 2008

safe in her hands

Question: Why does one have children?
Answer: Staff.

The Boy is power-washing the deck. Our house has miles and miles of deck, some of it wobbly, some of it tipped, all of it needing a good scrubbing. Several years ago, the menfolk shored up the weaker parts and fixed the loose boards. With other household repairs, however, and life being what it is, cleaning and staining the deck didn't happen.

But the Boy is now 15 and full of energy. I finally have Staff.

Question: Why does one have children?
Answer: Because they continue to astound you.

A yell from the Boy brought me running to the deck, where he stood with the dripping washer turned off. "What?" I asked. "Did it break? Did you get hurt?" (Gotta love my priorities.)

He had found a beautiful leopard moth. And when my daughter rescued it, cradling it in her hands, her gentle touch and exquisite care with the fragile moth brought one of those rare moments when the world simply stops, and we revel in its beauty.

"Get me the camera!" I yelled. "Hurry! Faster!"

When the Boy resumed power-washing, the hose sprung a leak.

Ah well, it was nice while it lasted.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Are Clotheslines Retro?

photo by tobyleah on flickr under a Creative Commons license

I hope not. I think they're the Next Big Thing.

My mom used to hang out the sheets when I was little. I remember the fresh, clean scent of the fabric and its crisp hand. Why has it taken me so long to put up my own clothesline?

Years ago I took my laundry to the local and extremely crowded laundromat. One had to keep a hawk eye out for machines about to be emptied or for a folding table with an efficient folder. There were lots of dirty looks and pointy elbows at that laundromat.

This was before laundromats began having amenities like a television (although watching Jerry Springer would have made the experience worse), and wi-fi access was probably just a gleam in some engineer's eye. For that matter, so was the internet. I didn't own a Walkman. I didn't know how to sew or knit. Reading a book meant missing out on newly empty machines, which wasn't worth the time lost. I believe I graded papers to pass the time, which made the experience even more dismal.

Those details came back to me only at this writing. What I have always remembered about that laundromat is the sign on the wall extolling the virtues of electric dryers. Dryers are more hygienic -- no more dust, dirt, or (horrors) bird droppings on your clothes. No more clothing faded from the sun. And the heat of the dryer magically eliminates wrinkles, so there is no more ironing. A happy housewife in dress and heels smiled at the shiny appliance. Didn't I want to be like her?

Lord, no. Even though I smirked at the sign and lamented the lost clothesline, it sadly never occurred to me to use one. I want to go back in time and beat myself about the head and shoulders. (And hand myself a sewing needle, thread, and a bit of cloth.)

There is an art to clotheslines. A bit of experimentation, and sneaky looks at other people's clotheslines, taught me to hang shirts from the bottom and pants from the top, unzipped and with pockets pulled out to allow air to circulate inside. Towels and sheets need extra clothespins or you will find them in the perennial garden. (It took me a week to find one of my son's shirts behind the daylilies.) On sunny, breezy days I can put out two loads, but when it's still or humid, there will be damp towels and wet waistbands at the end of the day.

And how on earth does one manage the clothespins? Take a shirt. I pin one side, which twists under the weight of the rest of the shirt, and try to get a clothespin out of my mouth and onto the other edge of the shirt. Then I have to re-pin the first side, which has wrinkled under the pin. Then back to the laundry basket for more pins before wrestling with a towel. The kids have a good laugh when they see me trying to hold the towel to the line with my head while reaching for a clothespin.

Thank heaven for free patterns on the internet. Life is now a bit easier, with a retro-styled clothespin apron:
Tied in with bow:

In keeping with the ideals of conserving time and energy, I tried to make the apron entirely from materials I already had. In the end I did have to buy two dollars' worth of brown fabric at Wal-Mart (I know, I know) for the binding.

The pattern is from Lucy at My Byrd House and I love it. The only changes I made were to simplify the waistband and change fabrics at the bow-end of the ties.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Warning: Cat Butt, Possibly NSFW

We start with flowers because they are beautiful to look at, unlike cat butts.

(Apologies for the lousy picture quality.) Look at how flat Summer is. She melts into the table.

She melts into the table because her legs are not properly tucked under. Summer never tucks anything under. Weren't we all specifically taught not to sit like this?

If you are scarred by the Cat Butt, take another look at the flowers. They are my Unicorn Chaser for you.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Twelve pictures describe me

Twelve pictures describe me, originally uploaded by normanack.

1. Queen Anne's Lace - Retro, 2. TV Dinner, 3. Memory Map: Farmington Hills, MI, 4. Dissocactus phylanthoides, 5. peter_weller, 6. Jasmine Tea Jelly, 7. 'So what are you doing this Australia Day ?', 8. three is not a crowd, 9. "Timemachines", 10. Prenent un Bany. Taking a Bath., 11. my private portico, 12. Miss Em leads the pack

I found this exercise on poppalina's blog and just had to give it a whirl. Enter your answers to the following questions in flickr's search box, then choose an image from the first page of results.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

Hey Mom, can you figure out my answers from the pictures? Then you try it!