Tag Archives: Clothing

Presentable?

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There were a few – not many, but a few – times in my life when I checked the mirror to see just how good I looked.

In my sixty-one years, there have been a handful of instances where everything that I have to offer synchronized with the style of the moment…and I looked really good!

Kindergarten, no. Oxford-style saddle shoes emphasized my tiny ankles, skinny legs and knobby knees. White ankle socks continually migrated down into the shoes. Hand-me-down dresses were just a bit long for my small frame and I can remember having to frequently pull my underpants from where they’d wedged.

Most of my childhood followed that pattern.

There was a time, though, around 1969, when Twiggy was modelling mini-skirts and my skinny frame seemed to suit the styles.

There were days in the seventies where – in my worn jeans and tennis shoes – I felt very “of the moment.”

There was a brief period in the late eighties when slouchy socks, big sweaters and big hair made me look almost fashionable.

Most of my life, though, that quick look in the mirror was just to make sure I was “presentable.”

“Is my hair just awful?”

“Does this outfit make me look short?”

“Will the jacket hide my belly-fat, or make me look dwarf-like?”

These are the types of questions I would ask myself before heading out the door.

This morning, getting ready to walk the dogs, I put clothes right over the long underwear I had slept in: a paint spattered, long-sleeved black T-shirt, gray sweat pants purchased from the Re-Sale Shop and scissored to the correct length and a navy blue sweatshirt, inside-out. I added wooly socks in an off-white shade and faded red athletic shoes. Over that, the magenta parka that has seen better days. The front is stained and the zipper doesn’t grip, but it’s still warm. I pulled up the hood. Added gloves: one red, one blue.

I stole a glance in the mirror before I left the house.

This is November, after all.

Though – with their red plaid or blaze orange combined with “camo” and Carhartt‘s – they are not known for their fashion sense, there are hunters in these woods.

There is a possibility that I could encounter someone, while out on my walk.

I wasn’t pausing to appreciate my good appearance.

I wasn’t making sure I was presentable.

What I said out loud as I stopped to check the mirror was, “Okay, let’s see how bad I look…”

Summer Wash-a-Day Blues

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I love the look of clothes hanging on a clothesline.

Not everyone does.

Even here on Beaver Island, there are communities that have banned them.

Happily, that’s not the case at my home, here on the Fox Lake Road.

I threw out my dryer a few weeks ago.

Lord knows, I had gotten my money’s worth out of it. My husband and I bought it – used – for fifty dollars back in 1979. Lately, it had been sending out a fine mist of lint every time I used it. It took me a while to figure out where all the dust was coming from. It took me another great while to do something about it. I might still be putting up with it, if the laundry room floor hadn’t started sprouting mushrooms.

My washing machine was leaking.

I had noticed dampness around the base of the washer whenever I did a load of laundry. I assumed the leak was from a hose. Because the washer and dryer sat side by side, the only way to access the back of either of them was by pulling them straight out. I can push a great deal of weight, but to pull either appliance straight toward me was not possible. There was no place to get a grip. There was no room to do the zig-zag push and pull technique that I employ when moving the refrigerator. I worried that if I were able to somehow manage it, I’d displace the hoses so that I’d be unable to diagnose the problem anyway. I was equally afraid of upsetting the vent-work for the dryer.

It didn’t seem like that much of a problem. A little moisture, a bit of dust.

Then summer came.

With summer came my granddaughter, Madeline.

Madeline, who loves painting and gardening and beaches.

Who is not above climbing trees or playing in the mud.

But who (heaven forbid!) cannot possibly wear the same outfit twice, ever, without laundering it first, can’t use a towel more than once, must dress appropriately for every occasion, whether it be a trip to the ice cream shop or an hour in the garden and firmly believes our dining room table needs a fresh tablecloth at least every second day.

I’ve had considerably more laundry than usual.

My laundry room floor started growing mushrooms.

One day, when Madeline was at day camp, I dismantled part of a shelf support in order to move out the dryer, so that I could get behind the washer to try to fix the leak.

It turns out, I had bigger problems than I had anticipated.

The moisture put out by the washing machine was much more than what was evident from the front. The particle board floor under both appliances was spongy, wet and rotted.

As far as I can tell, the hoses are all intact and working fine. The – reasonably new – washing machine seems to be leaking from the base.

The back of the dryer had bare wires and missing panels and was harboring enough dryer lint to be a huge fire danger. It should have been replaced years ago. I retired it immediately, better late than never.

Since then, we’ve been drying everything on the clothesline.

I’ve always used the line for drying sheets and blankets, rugs and sometimes towels…when the weather was warm. Other clothes get too wrinkled, I thought. It was impractical to try to dry everything, with my work schedule, I insisted.

It turns out, it takes a bit of forethought and discipline, but it’s really quite possible. Enjoyable, even!

Madeline has become quite expert at the process, too, and helps with the hanging out and folding. She insists that we’re saving hundreds of dollars this way.

Her amounts may be an exaggeration, but I’m sure we’ll see a difference in the electricity bill.

Still, there have been a few rainy days where I’ve watched my clothes dripping on the line and wished I had a dryer to make my life easier.

And we’re not yet into the cold weather.

For now, though, having clothes hanging outside to dry seems just right.