Clotheslines, and Spiders, and Bees! Oh, My!

I suppose I should be elated that we’ve finally gotten a couple of “nice” days wedged in between the ever-present clouds and rain?  As a 100% laundry air-dryer, I pay even greater attention to the weather, always aware of when it is the right time to hang out on the clothesline.  When there is a break in the rain, I’ve been luxuriating in actually being able to hang my laundry outside.  It is something that I’ve waited for all winter (and this year, spring); the ability to let Mother Nature’s sun and wind blow dry my clothes.  I really like the feel and scent of outside-dried laundry.  The scent is absolutely captivating, and changes with the seasons.  And I get very tired of  indoor laundry racks cluttering up the house.

There have been a couple of days this week where it was dry, and even a little bit of sunshine, so I briskly took advantage of the line-drying opportunity.  It is so great to be able to hang it all up in the morning and just leave it out all day.  I don’t have to wait around for clothes to dry in the dryer, I let nature do its thing in its own time.  I swear the laundry just loves being outside too; soaking up the rays and catching a breeze!

However, I have noticed that I now have a bit of competition for my clothesline.  Spiders are building their webs on it, and seemingly millions of teeny tiny spiders are madly scurrying around.  I do like spiders – when they are outside, doing useful things like catching bugs.  I don’t like them in the house – or trying to take up space on my clothesline.  So I have been knocking them webs off.  But just to show I am not entirely heartless, I did leave a web on today – it must have been a very polite spider who built its web at the very end of the clothesline.  I can deal with that.  Tiny spiders crawling in my laundry just doesn’t appeal to me.

Along with spider confrontation, I have noticed a great many buzzing bees around my clothesline.  I do believe there is a hive nearby.  That’s what I get for leaving the dandelions for the bees to feast on!  No, actually I love bees and like to protect and encourage them at all costs.  So I am learning to coexist with them too…as long as I don’t get stung I’m cool with that.

I do have raccoons who live in a tree stump in my side yard.  I’m awaiting their annual summer appearance with their babies.  I don’t mind raccoons either – they keep the vermin population at bay.  And as long as they stay away from the house (and my clothesline), I’m cool with them too.

Here’s to many days of sweet summer drying!

~Marilyn

Rainy Days and Laundry

Take a look at the sky in this picture.  This was just taken today from my backyard and has become a constant sight around here day after day.  Gray, cloudy, rainy weather has gripped us all spring.  Cool temperatures too.  There have been a few days of sunshine, which have been glorious, but the dark clouds always seem to be lurking around the corner.

I really try not to be the complaining sort, especially about things that I have no control over – like the weather.  I do, after all, live in the Pacific Northwest, where moisture is king!  This is good for keeping the landscape nice and green, the air clean, and the skin dewy.  It gets a little trickier for line-drying enthusiasts like myself, when trying to schedule an outdoor drying session though.

After three solid weeks of rain, it was finally a sunny day yesterday.  I hurriedly washed several loads of laundry and loaded up my clothesline.  It was an absolutely ideal drying day; warm temperature and softly blowing breeze.  It was a joy to once again see my laundry waving, doing the clothesline dance in the sun!  Everything dried relatively quickly and since it stayed sunny all day, I could rest easy knowing that the sun could just do its work without interruption.

I am glad that I got the bulk of my laundry done yesterday, as today it is back to the gray clouds and rain.  And probably for the foreseeable future.  It’s looking like it will be a very cool summer around here.  This means that I will have to keep an even greater eye on the sky:  looking for those lurking rain clouds whenever there is a patch of sunlight to hang the laundry in.  I also have my indoor drying racks close at hand.  I use them all winter and was hoping to put them away for the summer.  But to be a successful air-drying enthusiast, the first rule is to be flexible…and patient…and diligent…well, you get the point.  Dry on!

~Marilyn

Confession: I Cut My Own Hair

I recently saw a profile of famed hairdresser, Frederic Fekkai, on CBS Sunday Morning.  What caught my attention was not his success, fame, family, or debonair handsomeness; it was the fact that he charges $750 for a haircut.  A bloody haircut!  I just had to laugh because despite all the luxurious surroundings in his salon, it all came down to the simple act of cutting human keratin strands with a pair of scissors.  Not really rocket science.

I started cutting my own hair a few years ago out of mere frustration.  I have long, wavy, thick hair that I like to have cut in a blunt cut.  The problem that I was having with any hairdresser was that they always talked me into anything other than a blunt cut.  So, I had a lot of long layers done, and horror upon horror, the hideous dreaded razor trimmed cut.  Long layers do not work for me; I have just enough curl to make the ends flip out weirdly.  And the razor cut is just too devastating!  The fried, frizzled ends certainly are not anything I want to pay good money for and have to live with.

I could take the frazzled ends no longer, and one day I just took my very sharp hair cutting scissors (I’ve been trimming my own bangs for years) and started cutting a clean even slice through the ends of my hair.  Gone were the  crispy, frazzled, layered, razored ends.  What emerged was sharp, thick, blunt ends…and man, did it feel good!  It was actually very empowering; no more dictates from hairdressers, I could do it myself!

When I mention this to people, it’s actually kind of surprising that there are other people who also cut their own hair.  Nobody really broadcasts this too much though.  It is like there is this kind unspoken “rule” in polite society than one must always go to a hairdresser or barber to get their hair cut.  I fell for this “rule” a long time.  Then I finally decided that since I was a do-it-yourselfer in so many other areas of my life, I would add one more experiment to my repertoire.

You can imagine my amazement, after receiving the latest issue of Vogue, I read about an extremely successful woman who actually admitted, yes, in Vogue, that she is her own hairdresser.  Natalie Massenet, who has made $76 million as founder and chairman of Net-a-Porter, not only does her own blow-outs but cuts her own hair.  I found this confession the most incredible thing about the entire article.  And she was proud of it too!  I feel a certain kinship with Natalie; like here we are with this one thing in common, blow-drying and cutting our own hair in our own worlds, hers decidedly more opulent that mine.

I am here to say “go for it!”.  Be brave, pick up those scissors and just cut!  It is not rocket science…and, it will always grow back.

~Marilyn

Wash Day Monday, Ironing Day Tuesday…

HouseworkI washed two loads of laundry this morning as I so often do on a Monday.  I wash on other days of the week too, but maybe somehow it is ingrained in my subconscious to wash on Monday according to homemaking tradition?

Traditionally, there was a certain chore for each day of the week.  As the saying goes it is:

Monday: Wash Day ~ Tuesday: Ironing Day ~ Wednesday: Sewing Day ~ Thursday: Market Day ~ Friday: Cleaning Day ~ Saturday: Baking Day ~ Sunday: Day of Rest.

Of course, in bygone days, each of these tasks took the better part of a day so it was wise to devote an entire day to each.  I admire the regimentation of it all;  I think having a planned schedule of housework would be a big benefit on keeping me on track.  I tend to do most homemaking chores haphazardly, here and there, or when things become so desperate that I can no longer stand it!

Taking a look at the traditional chores for each day, I like the Monday wash day thing.  It is good to start the week out with clean laundry so I can deal with that.  Tuesday looks like a free pass for me as I rarely, if ever, iron!  I hang dry my clothes and they dry quite wrinkle-free.  Wednesday is sewing day; which I don’t do either.  I do mend things, so I think that would be a good day to do it.

Thursday is market day.  Hey, I’m always good for (thrift) shopping!  Oh, I think they mean groceries though.  I will probably have to pass on this too as I usually shop groceries at Trader Joe’s right after church on Sunday.  It’s right next door and it makes it very convenient, even though Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest (a little flexibility is okay, I’m sure)!

Friday is cleaning day.  This sounds good – get the house spic and span for the weekend, so I can loll around.  I tend to be a little lax with the vacuuming and floor mopping, and this sounds good to get on a regular schedule.  Saturday is baking day.  Since I don’t bake much either, I think I’ll take a pass on this too.  Baking every Saturday seems a little excessive (for my waistline too)!

Which leaves Sunday, day of rest.  I really like the now-forgotten tradition of resting on Sunday.  But quite often Sundays turn out to be as busy as the rest of the week.  For several years now, I have been consciously trying to keep Sunday at more of a restful state.  It is hard though, when you work at home like I do.  Work is always staring me in the face; there is no distinct separation.  So I try to mentally remove myself and get engrossed in some other activity.

Maybe this will help me up my homemaking game!  I must admit it feels good to have things clean and somewhat orderly, and getting back to a quasi-schedule just might be the ticket.  Wish me luck!

~Marilyn

Let’s Hang Out – National Hanging Out Day is Today!

Today is National Hanging Out Day; a day that was created to show how it is possible to save money and energy by using a clothesline.  I’ve washed two loads of laundry already this morning, and they are hanging out on the clothesline.  Thankfully it’s a warm sunny day and the rain showers are not expected until late this afternoon.  Hopefully the laundry will be dry by then.  Always having one eye on the weather conditions is key when you use a clothesline!

Being a year-round clothesline/drying rack user this is nothing new to me, but I always like to encourage people to at least try air-drying once in awhile.  Even if it is only one day a year.  So today is ‘officially’ that day.  Why don’t you give it a try?  You might even find it refreshingly delightful, as I do. 🙂

~Marilyn

Allergies: A Rite of Spring

BlossomDue to the lack of winter here, allergy season started early this year in the Pacific Northwest.  Trees and daffodils started blooming as early as January, and the grass started growing fast and never quit!  While it’s pleasant to have nice weather, it comes with a price.  And that price for many, myself included, is those annoying springtime allergies.  This year is especially fierce; not only here, but in most areas of the country.

Since I suffer from allergies the hardest during springtime,  I decided to take a more proactive approach this year.  The spring allergy season was going to be a long one, so I planned my attack.  I didn’t want to spend any more time than I had to suffering from debilitating allergy symptoms, like in previous years.  This year was going to be different!

First up, I was going to take a 24 hour non-drowsy allergy medication every single day. I picked out Claritin, actually the store-brand equivalent ( a LOT cheaper), and started taking one pill a day.  This had little or no effect.  I posted my allergy woes on my Facebook status update, and got several really good suggestions.   Facebook can be so helpful in many ways!   One friend who is a nurse, suggested I take two tablets a day to get the dosage up to prescription strength.  I looked on the package, and sure enough, the one-pill dosage was the same for a six-year-old as for an adult.  So I started taking two a day, and after a couple of  days it seemed to kick in, and kick butt!

I am also continuing with my daily neti pot rinses, as I do year-round.   I do this later in the day, after the buildup of allergins.  The warm saline water poured through the nasal passages is so soothing and cleansing.  A lot of times I’m pretty congested and not much water gets through.  But even getting just a little bit up the nose seems to help dig through the congestion and help clear the airways.  One trick I’ve learned recently is after you rinse with the neti pot, bend over in front and blow your nose.  Turn your head sideways and blow too.  One crazy thing about using a neti pot is that the saline solution will quite often pool up somewhere in the recesses of your sinuses, and then come rushing out hours later when you bend over.  This most likely happens in a public place, of course!  Doing the bend-over nose blow will prevent this embarrassing occurrence.

Doing these two things have helped immensely!  The combination of medication, and the neti pot rinse really packs a punch for me.  I am Rite of Springable to continue my daily outdoor walks, and just generally go about life.  I also do other things to help keep allergies at bay: eat healthily, drink lots of water, take many vitamins and supplements, and use saline nasal spray.  While I’m not completely symptom free, it is so much better than in springs past.  It almost makes me feel like dancing ‘The Rite of Spring’.  On second thought, I think I’ll pass on that.  That ballet was about a pagan ritual where a girl dances herself to death.  Maybe a few springtime allergies don’t sound so bad after all!

~Marilyn