Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'll Meet You at the Line...(Clothesline that is!)

Okay...so we all know I have a love hate relationship with technology. I love to blog, play on facebook and pintrest and at the same time.....technology hates me. That being said...I am of the mind that maybe technology has sped this world up to an overdrive speed and because of this, we have lost sight of some of the really good things in life.

This last week I spent time at my mother in laws (MIL). She is an oxymoron if there ever was one (and thank you Ada Jaax for that word). She has a really nice new computer....but she refuses to turn it on. She hates facebook and most things technological...although she loves to text. She has a dishwasher that she is also not fond of using and most importantly (in my book anyway) is the fact that she has a brand new clothes dryer and she seldom uses it. Now I am in no way putting her down for her dislike or maybe more accurately her disinterest in modern convenience. Perhaps she is actually onto something or maybe she just understands certain nuances of the world that us techno-slaves have overlooked.

In my life I am crazy most of the time (shut up Steve). I grab for any convenience that is available and maybe those conveniences make us lazy or maybe they just make us lose track of some really great things in life. I remember the first time I went to my MIL's. At the time I don't believe she had central air, she had never owned a dishwasher and although she had a washer and dryer....like now, her dryer seldom saw any action. She lives on three beautiful acres and stretching across her backyard is a phenomenal clothes line. Yes...I said....clothesline! I was in awe. Growing up.....we had clothesline posts in our yard but never in our lifetime had they seen a line. I think the reason for this was that my mother grew up with chores like hanging clothes on the line and she did not find the simpler way of life a very Zen experience....so when she could afford to not have to hang clothes anymore....she jumped ahead and never looked back. So in my childhood....clotheslines and hanging clothes outdoors were just folklore to me. Stories of a time long ago in a place far away.....and nothing more. It was not until I went to MO that first time that I realized that people actually still practiced the art of clothes hanging.

Yes...I called hanging clothes out on a line.....an art. It truly is. There is actually an art to hanging them so that the clothes pins leave no marks and so that the clothes won't rip away from the line if the wind is strong. I was truly enthralled at my first experience and when Tim and I came home, I made him string our currently stringless lines. Once strung I truly loved hanging my clothes out. It was a time of solitude, peace and bonus....it saved on electricity. At the time...I often had four kids running in out and constantly changing clothes. I could easily have kept a dryer going 6-7 hours per day. Hanging clothes out also cut down on laundry time. It takes about 20-25 minutes for a load of laundry to wash. It takes about 30-45 minutes for that same load to dry, but if hung out on the line with a nice breeze...they are often dry within 20 minutes and no electricity is used. 

When first starting out with the whole hanging clothes thing....I did have a few issues with my clothes drying rather stiff out on the line. I quickly learned that adding a good fabric softener to your laundry helps you to avoid the stiffness and also leaves your laundry smelling fresh. Hanging clothes also keeps them from having extra shrinkage in a hot dryer. The bonuses just go on and on....but my favorite part was/is just that time when I am alone with my thoughts. It is time that I could be alone without feeling like I was shirking my family responsibilities. After all....I was working and doing a vital family chore. And you can't rush hanging laundry on the line (at least I can't). You have to turn each piece right side out and hang it so that the pins don't leave marks. Each load I hung was a new plan, a new idea or just alone time in my head. I could plan birthdays, meals and my next chore. Blogs have been born from laundry time along with short stories, poems and conversations I needed to have and schedules I needed to make.

Sadly...the last couple of years have left me in rush mode. Whatever was quickest and took the least amount of my time and energy was what I opted for. With working, taking care of David, Z and the house....along with making cheesecakes, there simply was no time to practice my art nor air dry my clothes. However....after spending time at my MIL's last week, once again I was introduced back into a simpler life. I used my computer maybe once while I was there, I did many dishes by hand....and yes....I hung clothes. Once again I was lost in the peace of it all and the simple joy of working while letting my mind wander. It was heaven. I couldn't have been happier and because of this bliss.....I resolved!

My family (and especially David) once again keeps my washer and dryer on full tilt most of the time. In fact....I am of the mind that my basement is where clothes go to mate and reproduce as I can have piles of laundry accumulate over night. It is really not natural. At any rate though...my feet barely hit home soil before I was out in my yard tightening my clothes line and wiping it down. I hunted up all my clothes pins threw in a load of laundry and I haven't looked back yet. Each load has been a time of thought and self revelation. I have thought about things I have done, things I shouldn't have done and things I would still like to do. I have mentally planned my backyard overhaul and come up with new ways to help David with his physical therapy. I have reminisced about the past and planned (I know...there is that word again) for the future. It has been like opening the door to an old friend and remembering just how much I missed them.

Does it sound a little corny here in this day and age when we can talk to our phones and they can talk back; when we can not only talk to someone thousands of miles away but also see them while we are doing it; and we can keep track of everyone we ever knew on a single website?! Yeah....maybe it is, but also....maybe some of the old things are what helps to keep us centered. Maybe a trip to the clothesline or doing a sink full of dishes while looking out the window is just what the doctor ordered instead of anxiety pills and depression meds?! Okay....so who am I kidding? I don't pretend to know all the answers and maybe convenience will always override nostalgia....but I do know that in the here and now....my clothesline and I have reunited and I see us being pinned and not going off line for a long time to come. ;)


Anonymous said...

A clothesline really? I don't even think I have seen a clothesline in years. Of course I live in an apartment complex with a great laundry room. I have to say though that you make hanging clothes on the line sound therapeutic. Maybe I will have to put a little line on my balcony and get in on some of the therapy! Good blog.

Ang said...

This blog is great. It is inspiring even. I too have unused clothesline poles in my backyard and it sounds like I need to put them to use. Especially with our electric bill climbing throughout the summer. I really love this idea and love this blog. Kudos to your mother in law for holding on to the things that matter.

Anonymous said...

My wife asked me to put up a clothesline and its my next project. I also grow a garden, and with every year it gets a little bigger and the produce that we reap gets a little better.

I love my technology. But I also love to get away from it to. This year we pulled the plug on cable TV. And guess what? We've talked more as a family. I loved getting rid of that stupid bill. Good riddance.

Last year I built a fire pit in the backyard. We use it a lot. S'mores have become a regular part of our evening diet.

It wasn't intentional, but we are finding ways to be together more. And we're saving a lot by simplifying our lives. But the best part is we are laughing more together as a family.

Great Blog!


Mrs. E said...

You've inspired me. I need to paint the poles, tighten and wipe down the lines, and buy pins. I loved hanging clothes with Mom or Grandma when I was a kid. I love the smell of laundry off the line. Thanks for reminding me! (And for reminding me of Ada, too. In my mind, I see her students learning a plethora of words! She was an inspiration for this English teacher.)

Janis J said...

Sounds like your mother in law is afraid of technology. A lot of older people are. It intimidates them therefore they refuse to make the effort. I am amazed that she doesn't like to use a dishwasher and dryer and yet she likes to text. It is the opposite for most older people. They like to use modern conveniences but they are not at all crazy about the whole texting thing. Getting off track here. I like the way you describe the whole clothes line thing. It takes me back to my mother and grandmother hanging clothes on the line and watching them whip in the breeze on a windy day. I never thought of it as a relaxation though. Amazing blog. Loved it as I love all your blogs.


Catherine said...

Wonderful blog as usual. And laundry that is breeze-dried smells so fresh... I still hang sheets! I like your Zen chain of thought and your photo is absolutely beautiful! Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

I too am inspired by this blog. I don't even have the poles but after reading this I think my husband and I will be chatting about getting some. It is funny that something that every yard used to have is now something that is alive only in peoples memories. I love the way you talk about the alone time and just thinking while hanging the clothes. Yes, I think we too will be reverting back to the old ways a bit and another bonus...it is green! Great blog.

MarniJ said...

Great Blog!! I love drying clothes on a line....takes me back to hanging clothes with my grandmother. Now a days, living in an apartment its harder so I use a drying rack...but still get that amazing smell that only clothes dried outside can get. I too opt to not use my dishwasher much. I love washing dishes by hand.....just as you said...time to think!!!! Sometimes new things are great but that doesnt mean you have to totally get rid of the old way of doing things either!!!