The Autumn Clothesline Switcharoo

When you’re a 100% year-round air dryer/clothesline user like myself,  one must pay much more attention to the ever-changing weather conditions.   Good thing that I’m a bit of a weather geek;  I actually like tracking the weather!  This comes in handy for determining the ideal conditions and placement of drying the laundry outside, or whether to dry it inside.

Autumn weather gets tricky; the days are shorter,and it gets colder and rainier.  Even if it is sunny, it can lull me into a false sense of drying expectation when I hang the clothes on the line.  It just has that nip in the air, the sun is lower, and there is enough humidity (at least here in the Pacific Northwest) to delay the drying a great deal.  I can hang laundry on my backyard line early in the morning, and late in the afternoon it is still damp.  Thus begins the ol’ clothesline switcharoo.  I have to take down all the laundry from the clothesline and then put it on drying racks inside the house.  Which is kind of a hassle, I must admit.

Even though it is a bit more work, one advantage is that the laundry has spent the day soaking up all that deliciously heady autumn air smell outside.  When I place it on the racks inside to finish drying, the poignant smell fills the air.  There is just something so wonderful about the outside-dried smell.  It changes with the seasons too.  Autumn smells different than summer, which smells different than spring or winter.  No man-made chemical scent could ever top Mother Nature’s!

I’m still trying to hold onto outside drying as much as I can, even though the attempt is futile at times.  Soon I will be drying inside full-time for the winter;  drying racks will be filling my kitchen once more.  But that too, is kind of charming in it’s own way.  One must definitely be adaptable to be an air-dryer!

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” – George Eliot


Sprouting Gutters? Time to Clean!

I tend not to pay attention to my roof gutters most of the time; deliberately ignoring most of the evils that lie within their depths.  But living in a house surrounded by tall trees does eventually force me to face the fact that most of the foliage ends up on the roof and in the gutter.  You see, when plants and weeds start sprouting from the gutter, it is quite difficult to ignore this fact any longer!  I can “la di da – I can’t see it” all I want but when neighbors start commenting on my gutter garden,  I know it’s time to clean.

When the gutters get so full of gunk it also clogs up the downspouts.  Rain, with nowhere to go, just pours over the gutter.  This is also another fact that is difficult to ignore; I live in the very rainy Pacific Northwest.  Dodging and dashing through the gutter deluge becomes an active sport.

Luckily (because I am frugal and hate to hire out), I have a nimble teenage son who loves the chance to go on the roof.  He doesn’t really mind cleaning gutters either – in fact, he scoops out all the muck with his bare hands!  So after borrowing my neighbor’s ladder, and a quick lesson on ladder adjusting, my son was up on the roof.  He deftly bends over the gutter scooping out and then flinging the gunk to the ground.  I had to clean up the ground gunk, but glad I wasn’t up on the roof!  I was doing enough fretting and directing from the ground.

The gutters are now spanking clean, and just in time.  We had massive rainstorms the next couple of days, and all the rain ran into the gutter and down the spout brilliantly!  It was nice to have them working again.  The one slight irritation is the sound of water going down the downspout; I had almost forgotten what that sounded like.  As luck would have it, I have a downspout right outside my bedroom window; so all night long – gurgle, gurgle, whoosh, whoosh! But actually it was kind of soothing… the sound of a job well done.

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” –Oscar Wilde


‘Tis the Season for Homemade Soup!

With the Autumn change to cooler weather and shorter days, I always get a hankering to make soup.  No, not from the can that I usually eat most of the year, but good old-fashioned made-from-scratch soup.  I especially like the heartier bean and legume varieties.   There is just something so satisfying about the process of  washing and soaking the dried beans, then adding all the ingredients and letting it simmer on the stove for hours.

Yesterday was a good crisp soup-making kind of day, so I decided to make split pea soup.  It only took about an hour to cook, maybe because the peas are small.  Anyhow, I was totally amazed at how such a relatively small package of dried peas could make a huge vat of soup.  It turned out really well; even my picky teenage son thought it smelled good while cooking and devoured a huge bowlful!  This always warms my heart.

My tried and true handmade soup is the 15-Bean variety.  This incredible soup absolutely defies any law of physics.  It expands to an immense amount after soaking and cooking, and is the most filling soup you will ever want to eat.  The only problem is that it makes so much!  I end up eating it for weeks afterward and usually get very tired of eating it.  And really, 15 bean varieties?  To me, that is about 13 or 14 bean varieties too many!  I need to find a recipe for a delicious one or two bean soup.  A little bean goes a long way!

Homemade soups are hearty, wholesome, and cheap to make.  It  does take longer to cook, but nothing is more comfy than aromatic soup simmering on the stove on a cold day.  Soup’s on!

“Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.”  -Marge Kennedy


Sweater Season is Here!

It’s this time of year when the days shorten, the temperatures cool, and the leaves start to fall, that I start my whole routine of hauling out those good old sweaters.  I really, really love sweaters so this is always a bit of a joy for me; even if it means putting up with brisker weather and loss of sunlight.  Perhaps it is in my Finnish Lapland blood that I don’t mind it so much.  It must be inbred in me to at least somewhat tolerate Arctic Circle conditions.

The great thing about most sweaters is that they seem to last forever.  I am talking about natural fibers here.  Cashmere, wool, mohair, and angora  are my faves; not so much acrylics and cotton.  They will last a long time if you care for them (yes, you can gently hand wash all natural fibers).   Just don’t overdo the washing.  A sweater can be worn many times without it getting dirty, and it’s good for the fibers not to be washed so much.  And please, do NOT dry clean sweaters…no, no, no!

Another fab thing about sweaters is that they usually stay in fashion forever, year after year, if you choose a classic style.  I wear a lot of vintage sweaters and I love cashmere.  Vintage cashmere is super thick and soft, especially the sweaters made in Scotland.  I love wrapping myself up in a comfy cashmere sweater because it’s the only natural fiber that I can wear next to my skin.  Cashmere keeps me warm without much bulk which is always good for looking a bit sleeker.   I mean, I like heavy wool sweaters but I have to wear a layer underneath and I end up looking like a linebacker!

So out come my favorite cashmere sweaters, I’ve kind of missed them.  It is actually kind of sensuous and sexy to wear them; a bit of the old vintage sweater girl aura.   My heavy wool sweaters will come out eventually, when icy cold winter rolls around.   But I only save the big guns for the fiercest weather… girl’s gotta have her fashion priorities!

She wore a short skirt and a tight sweater and her figure described a set of parabolas that could cause a cardiac arrest in a yak.”  ~Woody Allen



Get it in Handwriting

These days, I do most of my writing via keyboard.  So much so that it feels weird to actually take pen in hand and write; I keep expecting spell check to occur!  Oh I do jot notes on sticky pads, write the occasional check, and make shopping lists, but the bulk of my writing is done on the computer.

But recently I have felt a yearning to actually put (literal) pen to (literal) paper and write out my thoughts in longhand.  I figure that everything shouldn’t be written on the computer, and I should get back to the time-honored method of putting down thoughts in an old-fashioned diary form.

One thing that I have been doing is writing out my thoughts of the day right before bed.  I have a pretty active mind that is always thinking, it seems, so it puts kind of a finality to the thoughts to get them down on paper.  I just go through my day and write down my ideas, inspirations, frustrations, and emotions that I dealt with.  The physical act of just letting the pen flow is really quite soothing.  And it calms my mind to let go, and get more restful sleep.

Another good trick is to write out your prayers.  If you are like me, my praying tends to be all over the place!  My wise pastor and counselor advised me to do this when I was going through a particularly tumultuous time in my life, when I could not focus on anything, much less praying.  He said to write out a list of my prayers and concerns and then pray about it, and check them off the list as I prayed.  Simple, yet incredibly effective!  It really does work.

So I intend to actually hand write more.  It’s kind of interesting to see what my handwriting looks like now.  If only I could read it!

“Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.”  ~Carol Burnett


A Bit of Mystery is a Good Thing

I blog, I write, I am active on several discussion boards, and on Facebook.   I am relatively ‘out there’ on the internet, and feel it is important to do so.  For the most part, I really enjoy it.  But there is a part of me that guardedly remains secretive.  I have somewhat of a public persona and a (very) private persona.  I just don’t feel comfortable, for the most part, broadcasting things about my personal life, or my deepest thoughts and feelings for just anyone to hear.

Perhaps there is a bit of the Victorian in me.  Where being a bit mysterious and unwilling to easily yield secrets is appealing?  It’s not like I keep it all to myself.  If I have built up trust with a person, I am willing to share my thoughts more freely.  I just don’t like throwing stuff out there and not knowing what people are going to do with the information.

I think people with a bit of mystery are definitely more alluring.  Where you have to slowly uncover pieces to get to know them.  And it takes time and patience, which in this world of tweets and status updates is almost like living in the stone age.  But it gets you below the surface, and into a deeper level of intimacy.

So yes, I do reveal a good deal about myself publicly. But sorry…if you really want to know my innermost thoughts and feelings, you are just going to have to get to know me a little better.  Well, a LOT better.  This girl just doesn’t give up her secrets so easily!

“Secret thoughts and open countenance will go safely over the whole world.” ~ Scipione Alberti   (right on!)