Tag Archives: laundry

A Lazy Day Off

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Yesterday, on the first of October, I woke up before 3 AM.

I was worried, mostly, about all the things I wanted to accomplish that day. I had a long list, as usual. I had clothes, that might finally be dry, to retrieve from the clothesline. If the rain held off, I planned to mow the back yard. I wanted to pull out the dryer, make a couple repairs, then clean, prime and maybe paint that section of floor before moving it back into place. Sweep. Clean windows. Go over class notes and prepare materials.

I am continuing a whole-house deep-clean, purge and organize endeavor that can fill any spare time. So far, I have cleaned out one cupboard, resulting in a giant cardboard box, labelled “Re-Sale Shop” sitting in the middle of the kitchen. It contains five small items. In the back of that cupboard I found, rolled up behind an old roasting pan and a stack of colanders, the big vinyl kitty-cat place mat that belonged to my daughter, Jen, when she was little. Her name, in red ink and backwards as she wrote it when she was five: “ynneJ” was on the back. Where was the other, matching place mat, that had belonged to my daughter, Kate? That was also playing on my mind in the middle of the night.

Finally, there were questions running through my head. I’d love to say I was troubled by world and national events, weather patterns, war or poverty. I do worry about all of those things, and they have been responsible for plenty of sleepless nights, but no. The questions that were keeping me awake were these: What is the name of that beautiful blonde woman that Burt Reynolds was married to? The one that played in WKRP in Cincinnati?  How old is she? Is she still alive? Wonder what she looks like. Oh, and who was his first wife? The one that he said ruined him on marriage…that was on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In? And who was Paul McCartney’s second wife? And who is that beautiful Asian woman on A Million Little Things, and why does she look so familiar?

I finally got up. Not to dive in to all the things I had to do, mind you, but to get on the computer to find some answers. Which, by the way, are: Loni Anderson, still living and still gorgeous at 72 years old; Judy Carne, who died in 2015; Heather Mills; Grace Park, who played a regular character on Hawaii Five-0 until she left last year over a wage dispute. Having, by that time, drank too much coffee to make going back to bed a possibility, I struggled to get some things done, while walking zombie-like through the day.

I knocked off a few easy tasks. I grabbed the clothes from the line, folded them and put them away. I washed the glass in the dining room doors and windows while talking to my sister on the telephone. While on the phone with a friend, I dug out Kate’s old place mat from the back of another cabinet. I set up my bullet journal for the month of October. I wrote in my journal, then took a bath, then cleaned the bathroom. Then I took a nap. When I woke up, it was raining, and time to think about supper. All in all, not a very productive day.

Ah, well. There’s always tomorrow. Which is today…so I’d better get busy!

 

What Happened to Me?

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“What happened to you?”

The question was voiced by my sister, Cheryl, just a few weeks ago. Two of my sisters, Brenda and Cheryl, were visiting here. We were at the family farmhouse, where my Aunt Katie lived until her death last August. I was not involved in whatever activity – meal preparation, or cleaning, or sorting – my two sisters were busy with at the kitchen table, so when the dryer stopped, I stepped into the shed to fold the laundry.

Cheryl followed a few minutes later. That’s when she said it:

“Cindy, what happened to you?”

Her tone was kind and curious, yet clearly she was disappointed in me.

The question was driven by the towels I had just folded. Though they were folded – because I’d asked – the way that Mom had taught us (in half twice the long way, then in thirds from the other direction for bath towels; in half twice the long way, then in half from the other direction for kitchen towels and hand towels; in half, then in half from the other direction to make squares of washcloths and dishcloths), my corners did not perfectly line up. As she neatened and refolded the ones I had done, she asked again, incredulous, “What happened to you?”

She added, “You are the one that taught me this,” as she helped me fold the rest of the load, with all of her corners and edges lining up perfectly. I blinked. I shrugged. I gave a little smile. I didn’t know what to say. I was kind of embarrassed. I felt a little bit ashamed. I knew what she was talking about, sure.

Growing up in our large household, I was in charge of laundry. And I took it very seriously. I arranged the piles of clothes around the perimeter of the round, heavy wood table in age order for each family member. Socks and underwear were stacked separately, in an inner circle, so that they wouldn’t topple the tall piles. All had to be put away, to make room for folding diapers and towels.

Though I never used cloth diapers with my own children, I can still remember the way to fold them. I have altered the way I fold towels (once in half long-wise, then in thirds from the other direction, then in half again for bath towels; in thirds from the short ends, then in half long-wise for kitchen towels, hand towels, washcloths and dishcloths) to better fit the space in my cupboards and drawers, but I still know the way Mom had us fold them. Muscle memory, from so much practice.

And I was precise. There was one right way, and things had to be done to those exact standards. I insisted that each of my younger siblings were just as careful as I was. Later, my own daughters struggled under my clothes-folding rules. They despised the job, as they seemed never able to meet my standards. They rebelled by folding their own clothes however they wanted, or not at all. To this day, I doubt they ever fold two towels exactly the same way, just to spite me!

So, what happened to me? When did I lose the precision in clothes-folding that made such an impression on Cheryl? I didn’t know how to answer, when asked, and I’ve been wondering about it ever since.

There were times that my reasoning got defensive.

“I’m too busy,” I tell myself, “no time to worry about precisely lined-up corners!” I am not as busy as Cheryl. She works two jobs as an administrator for two separate school systems. She is divorced, like me, so is solely responsible for the maintenance of her home and yard, as I am. I have to admit, she does a better job of it than I do. She also spends more quality time with her children and grandchildren every single month than I do with mine in a full year. In addition, she dates, goes to social events, and plays Words with Friends. “Too busy” does not work in comparison to Cheryl.

“Life is too short,” I say, “to worry about perfectly folded towels!” Yet all the things that have caused me to realize that life is short – the deaths of both parents and several siblings – happened to Cheryl, too. Plus, she had cancer. If I were the cancer survivor, you can bet that I’d be throwing that in her face! With a superior tone, I’d say, “Once you live through cancer, my dear, you realize that life is too short to worry about petty things like towel edges.” But, no. She’s got that one cornered, too.

So, without defensiveness, what has happened to me? When, exactly, did I quit caring, and why?  It has been on my mind quite a bit since the question was posed. I don’t like to think that my standards have gone out the window. Could it be something else?

I do not have, in my adult life, a “clothes-folding table” like I used when I was growing up. Actually, I have that exact table now, but it sits in the dining room, far from the laundry area, and is generally loaded with a vase of flowers, a couple candles, and whatever paperwork I am currently working on. I fold clothes using the surface of the top of the washing machine. A much smaller space. That could be a reason.

Yesterday, a beautiful, breezy warm day for putting laundry on the clothesline, I thought of another. Though I tighten my clotheslines regularly, the lines still sag with the weight of the wet laundry. It causes things to dry slightly misshapen. Because I dry my towels outside, they do not have corners that will line up. So there! Unless or until I learn that Cheryl also has a clothesline, and dries her towels outside, and still manages perfectly aligned corners…that is my answer to what happened to me!

 

It’s Complicated

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Maybe it’s too complicated, even, to convey in a story. Where to begin?

I’m behind on laundry. Fortunately, it’s been a little chilly, so I don’t look totally out of place when I pull from my fall and winter wardrobe. I have a load of darks in the washing machine, and a big basket full of whites and colors to be washed. I don’t, at this time, have a dryer. As rain has been in the forecast, I haven’t wanted to put clothes on the line.

I do have a clothes dryer; I just can’t use it until I get it vented. When this house was first built, the dryer sat inside the south wall of the house, and was directly vented to the outside. When I did some remodeling about twenty years ago, it was moved to an inside wall. The venting ran up inside the wall, across the floor of the attic space that runs beside the upstairs rooms in my story-and-a-half house, and out through the soffit.

Some time ago, I realized the dryer wasn’t venting properly. Loads were taking too long to dry. On investigating, I found that the vent in the wall was completely clogged with dryer lint. The attic space had been filled with cellulose insulation (blown-in insulation) a while ago when the house was winterized, so I could no longer access the venting system to see what was causing the problem. I pulled out the dryer lint and as much of the vent pipe as I could from the hole behind the dryer. Then, I patched the hole.

Then, I got one of those indoor venting systems that use a lidded bucket filled with water to collect the lint. Aunt Katie recommended it. She used one, and said it did a fine job.

Well, it never did a fine job for me. I found there was a constant layer of fine dust over all surfaces in that area of the house. Even in the winter, when there should be no dust coming in. Also, the clips that hold the lid on were made of plastic, and broke easily. I’ve gone through three of them in the last few years. Too cheap to buy yet another one, I have been making do with the latest one, long past what would be reasonable.

After putting clothes in the dryer, I would fill the bottom – bucket section – of the vent with water to the indicator line. I would then spend an ungodly amount of time trying to fit the top part on correctly. Since it had a broken clip, I had to hold it in place while I started the dryer (an acrobatic feat!). Then, to keep the lid in place, I had to fit the dog’s nyla-bone into one of the vent holes, and balance it there just right to hold the lid on. And, the issue of dust prevailed.

When Aunt Katie died, my sister mentioned that the space under her old refrigerator was clogged with dryer lint, due to that venting system. I took that as proof positive that the dust in my house was caused by my interior dryer vent. Something had to be done!

The dryer can’t be moved. Closets now line the south wall of my laundry room, and the electrical connection is no longer there. It sounded much too expensive and labor-intensive to try to vent up through the wall again…not to mention the fire hazard when it doesn’t work properly.

On Amazon.com, I found a better vent. That’s the name of it, actually: “Better Vent” It was certainly more expensive, but worth it if it works. It has a two-filter system enclosed in a rectangular box, that hangs on the wall. No bucket of water. The clips that release the door to clean the filters appear to be sturdy and seem to function easily and properly.

Now, to hook it up. That has had me stymied for a week! First, I needed to buy two hose clamps in the four-inch size. Then, I needed to find my screwdriver. Next, I bought a rigid right-angle to attach to the dryer, as the booklet said that was necessary. The instructions also said to be sure not to make more than two right angle turns with the dryer vent hose.

Above and behind the dryer would be ideal, I thought, once I’d determined that I could reach it to clean the filters. Not enough space there, though, between the top of the dryer and the cupboard that hangs above it. That means it has to go on the wall beside the dryer, in the narrow space available there, enough to the front so that I can open the door to clean the vents. That is perfectly possible, if I move a picture that hangs there. And if I don’t count right angle turns to get there.

I’ve now been at this for a week. I have the next two days off. If I put everything else on hold, and give this project my full attention, I ought to be back in the laundry business soon. I hope.

Why does every little thing seem so complicated?!?

Tuesday: Exercises in Writing #8

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The exercise today comes from http://www.thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts:

Hey, even writers and creative artists have to do housework sometimes. Write about doing laundry, dishes, and other cleaning activities.

Well, so, having planned for and then (once again!) bypassed a seasonal “deep cleaning,” I am, as usual, just barely staying afloat in the housekeeping department. Every job is more complicated than it should be.

When Tommy was here, I sent him to the backyard to hang his wet beach towel on the clothesline. He was gone a long time. When I went to check, I found him trying kind of desperately to knot together pieces of clothesline rope. It was falling apart in his hands! Clearly, it had seen better days. We pulled it all down, and Tommy helped me to re-string it with new clothesline. I only had enough for two (twenty-foot)lines, though.

That was fine, until I pulled out the dryer a couple days ago, to check the venting. Loads of wash – even light summer clothes – have been taking an interminable time to dry. Laundry is just one task in this household. I don’t have that much of it, but I do need to keep it moving through the system. When a load of jeans takes three long dryer cycles to dry, everything is set back!

I brought home a long, skinny appliance brush to clean out the lint trap. It seems the problem is larger than that. Though the flexible aluminum vent seems to be intact, and it appeared to be properly connected both to the back of the dryer and to the metal pipe poking out of the wall, the wall behind, the floor underneath and the back of the dryer were covered with dryer lint

Ugh! I disconnected the flexible vent at both ends to take it outside, shake it out and check for leaks or blockage. Then, I got out the vacuum cleaner to clean up the lint. Unable to find a problem to correct, I pushed the dryer back up against the wall to wait for guidance. Now, until I can get the [very busy]plumber out here (who, by the way, set up a deal with me for the last repair he did out here: I would paint a sign for his office in exchange for the work. He did the work; I have yet to paint the sign.), I’m hanging all clothes on the line.

For that, two clotheslines are not enough. Yesterday, my day off, wanting to get laundry caught up, I started by taking the clothes off the line. I carried them in and deposited them on the dining room table, folded them and put them away. Clothes that dry in the open air smell wonderful, but – unless wind conditions are ideal – they tend to be very stiff and quite wrinkly. Because my clotheslines sag, they also tend to dry a little deformed. Folding clothes takes more thought and energy than usual.

I hauled a kitchen chair out to the clothesline poles, then came back for scissors and a new package of clothesline. First at one end, I climbed on the chair, found my balance and threaded the rope through one hole on the crossbar, then through a washer before knotting it. Down off the chair, move it to the other end, repeat. Then do it again. Now, I have four lines to hang laundry on!

Not yet finished, I then pull the wet things out of the washing machine. Full of optimism, I start another load of wash before going outside. Then, with one heavy wicker basket in hand and two dogs weaving around my legs, I head back to the clothesline. I start with towels. My lines sag, so the longest things have to go closest to the poles. The first corner gets a clothespin all to itself, but after that, they share. I lap the first corner of the second towel over the second corner of the first one, so that one clothespin will hold them both in place. Moving on to hand towels, kitchen towels and then wash clothes, I continue down the line.  One sheet, folded in half and held in place by three clothespins along its edge, gets a clothesline all to itself.

Time for a cup of coffee and another task, before taking the next load out of the washer. That is laundry day.

 

 

Burnt

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Yesterday, I imagined my house on fire; I was able to save five things.

I changed the rules to save all of my houseplants, then chose two photographs, two laptops and a scanner, one book of poems and a big purse. I know that’s more than five items, but it all made sense yesterday.

Today, the question is this:

What things do you most regret leaving behind when the house burned, and why?

With the opportunity to start fresh, I’d have only a few regrets, but they are important ones:

  1. Diaries and Journals: One low shelf in my bedroom is dedicated to these old writings. I almost never look at them, but when I do, it becomes an all day activity filled with giggles, tears and the reliving of old memories. I wrote mostly of heartache and frustration, but also made note of cute things my daughters said, moments of absolute contentment and long lists of aspirations. I would regret not being able to revisit that younger version of myself.
  2. Books: The books I’m reading now,  the books I re-read on occasion, the books I refer to regularly for information and the books I hold onto  purely for sentimental reasons…all would be missed. Those are the items that I’d still be looking around for, then poignantly remembering their loss, for the rest of my life.
  3. My Dining Room Table: It’s old, scratched, stained, and the most valuable piece of furniture I own. Not for its monetary value, but because of its history. My father brought the table home about fifty years ago. It was used, of darkly stained wood with big rolled legs and a half-dozen leaves for expanding it. It was relegated to the back room, which – in our house – was a combination play room, guest room, den and laundry room. The table – except when used for overflow crowds at mealtime on Sundays and holidays – was used for folding clothes. As I was the child most often in charge of laundry, I became very familiar with it. Years later…maybe thirty years later…after all of us were grown and gone from home, after my Dad had passed away and family gatherings were not as big as they had once been, my mother told my brother David that he could move the table out to the garage, to use for projects or parties. “Mom, he will ruin that table,” I told her, “if you wanted to get rid of it, I’d be happy to take it.” “No,” she said, “I gave it to him. It’s just an old, beat-up table.” So that was that. Then, in quick succession, David died and my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Whenever I’d visit, she’d send me home with clothes that she never planned to wear again, and ask what I’d like, of her other belongings, when she died. I always said, first, that I’d like her to just stick around, so that questions like that didn’t have to be considered. When pressed, though, I did mention, once, that I’d like that table. “David’s table?” she asked, “Oh, I gave that to Sheila already.”  So that was that. Then, less than two weeks before Mom passed away, my sister Sheila died unexpectedly in her sleep. We all congregated at the house we grew up in, to say goodbye to our sister and to be with Mom for the balance of her life. My sister Brenda came upon some of her nieces one day, talking about how that old table should be sent with Sheila’s boyfriend “because nobody else would want it.” She stepped in and let them know that, in fact, I wanted it. So that was that. Now it’s mine, a relic of my childhood, carried home by my father, inherited from my brother David, my sister Sheila and  – finally  – my mother, thanks to the intervention of my sister Brenda. I really regret not saving it from yesterday’s fire!
  4. The bright pink, surfboard-shaped rug, that Rosa Parks likes to sit on, while eating her dinner. My little dog will have enough to adjust to already; she should keep something that will make her feel at home.
  5. My daybook. I’d be lost without it. If I’d been thinking, I would have shoved it into my big purse before leaving!

So, having lost almost everything in this imaginary fire, I guess I have few enough imaginary regrets!

New Floor

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It was last July – when my granddaughter, Madeline, was here visiting (and her visit was generating a great deal more laundry than usual) – that I noticed that my washing machine was leaking.

Rather, I noticed that what I’d thought was a small dribble was actually a large leak.

It was July when I realized the chipboard floor was destroyed from the water seeping into it whenever I ran the washing machine. I had mushrooms sprouting from the boards!

It was July when I hauled the dryer – also ready to be retired – outside to make room to pull out the washer to investigate the problem. July, in summer’s sunshine, when I decided it wasn’t all bad living without a dryer, and that garments dried on the clothesline sure smell good. July when I started buying wrenches and socket-head screwdrivers and other devices that seemed like they might help me get to the root of the problem with the washing machine. July when I started – with hammer and chisel and mini-crowbar – to pull up the rotten floor.

Yes, it has been all the way since July that I have been growing accustomed to the washing machine as a fixture in the hallway to be navigated around when needing to get into the bathroom or either of two closets.

Three long months that the laundry room floor has been a mass of punky OSB board and dustpans full of wood chips as I whittled away at it. The more I removed, the more I revealed: there were crumbling 1″ x 2″ boards that were nailed to the concrete  underneath, slabs of blue rigid foamboard in between and a layer of wet tarpaper under all of that, put down to act as a vapor barrier on top of the cement slab.

There were days that I came home exhausted from work, just to drop to my hands and knees in the laundry room to chip away at the floor.

There were days and even weeks where I just shook my head in exasperation and ignored it.

There were times when I spoke to everyone I could about it, hoping for assistance, or a solution.

There were times I refused help out of embarrassment for the mess I’d gotten myself into.

My sisters, Brenda and Cheryl, came for a visit in September. “Let’s make a project of it,” they suggested. It was tempting. Brenda and Cheryl get things done! Neither one would live with an issue like that for weeks on end. We always could find the fun in tackling major repairs and dirty jobs. It might have been a blast. Or it might have occupied all of their vacation in the most frustrating way. Or I might have never lived down the shame of having them see the disaster I had created, and was living with.

I declined.

Let me tell you, hanging clothes on the line loses a lot of its charm in the cold, rainy days of Autumn! Many weeks, the rain started as soon as I finished hanging things out, and didn’t let up until – several days later – I hauled them in, soaking wet, to dry by the heater.

Spending my only day off in the laundromat seemed like cruel and unusual punishment.

When I took my aunt to visit her doctor on the mainland two weeks ago, I went shopping for new appliances. I arranged to have them shipped across on the ferry boat two weeks later. I needed time to arrange for delivery from the boat dock to my house. I had to find someone who would come out and hook up the new washer and dryer for me. And I needed to finish dealing with the floor.

I had my day off planned.

First, unhook the washer and move it out of the house. I had bought a new wrench that I was certain was going to enable me, finally, to undo the hoses that kept the machine attached to the wall. I had moved the dryer out on my own, and had been sliding the washer around for months; I felt sure that I could handle it.

Second, take my new Multi-Max tool with its oscillating blade and cut through the OSB board around the perimeter of the room. Then, use hammer and chisel and crowbar to remove the rest of the floor.

Third, measure the space. Take the measurement to the lumberyard and have a piece of chipboard – in the correct thickness – cut to the exact size. Bring it home, drop it into place and secure it.

Congratulations to me, pat myself on the back, pour a glass of wine to celebrate.

Two nights before that planned day off, my friend Vince came over to join me for a supper of soup and bread. When he saw the mess the laundry room was in, he was flabbergasted.

“You should have asked me to help!” he said.

Actually, I did. Or I at least strongly hinted at it. Unfortunately, my desperate cries for help too often sound like murmurs of, “It’s really no big deal,” or “No, I’m fine,” or even sometimes like an amusing anecdote. The despair I feel does not often come through in my words. Combine that with a summer season that was busy for all of us, and that had Vince taking on a challenging new position, it is no wonder he didn’t realize my dire need for assistance.

In any case, he stepped up, and offered to come Tuesday, on my day off, to help.

I couldn’t be any more thankful that he did!

First of all, even with my new wrench, I could not get the hoses unhooked.

I needed help to move the washing machine over the hearth and past the cobblestone walkway.

My Multi Max tool was missing the hex key that would tighten the necessary blade and – even after Vince used his hex key to tighten it – it wouldn’t cut through the boards.

All but one of the 1″ x2″ boards had to be cut, removed and replaced as well. I hadn’t even considered that!

The nails that held the boards into the cement were impossible for me to pull.

Finally, every one of the three walls were at least 3/4 of an inch out of square, from one end to the other. If I had – by some miracle – made it to that point in the job on my own, I would have come home with a piece of OSB that wouldn’t have fit into the space.

At that point, I would have broken out the wine that was planned to celebrate my success, and used it instead to drown my sorrows.

Vince saved the day!

My floor is down, new appliances will arrive this week and I’m retiring my clothesline until Springtime!

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.

Zoom!

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Today is an overcast, drizzly day here on Beaver Island.

This is exactly what I need!

I’ve been putting  many hours into getting my garden ready for Spring. My hands are dry and wrinkled from spending so much time in the soil. My joints are achy and my back is complaining, too, from shoveling dirt, forking compost and moving rocks.

There is progress. I have given away raspberry plants and strawberry plants that were taking over pathways. I thinned poppy beds and iris beds, and sent the extras home with happy visitors. Day-lilies left with everyone who would take them.

I have staked out my central flower bed, and am working my way down the row.

I first dig out the soil, to a depth of about twelve inches. I sift the weeds out as I’m digging, and have a bucket standing by for them. The next step is to rake the surface smooth, then roll out the weed shield and cover that with a thin layer of soil mixed with compost. Now I’m ready to move some plants. I dig up a clump of day-lilies, pull all grasses and weeds away, separate the plants, then settle arrange them randomly in the new bed. I want them to have distance between them so that they have room to grow, and enough nourishment to make the move without trauma. I do not want them to look  like I’ve placed them in regular rows. I want the tallest specimens mainly down the center of the bed, and the shorter  varieties nearer the stone border. I  cover them over with the rest of the dirt that I dug out, and border that section with rocks.Image

It’s coming along, but is still  only about one-third of the way done. This new bed runs right through space that last year had a 4’x5′ strawberry bed and – at the very front – a peony bed. Before I called it a day yesterday, I finished digging up the rest of the strawberry plants that were in my way. They seem fine, this morning, in their temporary home: a tub lined with soil and stored under the picnic table, out of the sun.Image

Today! Today, with the dampness outside, I will concentrate inside.

There is the usual, of course: rugs to vacuum, floors to sweep and sinks to clean. Every single horizontal surface in the house needs to be cleared of what doesn’t belong on it. Laundry to be done, houseplants to water.

In my studio, should I find time to spend there, I have twenty metal frames to assemble and fill with twenty sheets of plexiglass and twenty finished collages. I have four small paintings to frame and three others to order frames for. I have two large paintings underway and a dozen collages in various stages of completion. The studio could use a good cleaning, too!

I have committed to teaching an after-school art class to high-school students through five weeks in May. Today I need to complete that class plan to turn in to the program director here, and a materials list to send  to the Arts Council for dispensation.

Tomorrow I’ll be back at my regular job, so today I want to make a pot of soup so that I’ll have it to pack for my lunches, or to warm up for dinner if I don’t feel like cooking. As long as it’s drizzly, as long as I’m going to have soup bubbling on the stove, I’d might as well make bread, too! That sounds like it will warm the house up,  doesn’t it?