This week I got three letters in the mail. Yes, three actual hand written letters from friends sent via snail mail. One of the letters actually contained 3 photos and a newspaper clipping. It was so charming to receive hard copies and have letters written in their signature style. I love seeing people’s handwriting, I think you can decipher a lot from it.
Years ago this wouldn’t have been unusual in the least, I used to send and receive letters with great regularity. But now, with the internet, email, Facebook, discussion boards, blogs and websites, I do it in a different manner. To me, it is still the written word though. And I love the written word. I love reading and writing words, no matter the format. There is such permanence in getting the words down. Such finality of the statement of what was being felt at that time.
I have a box of saved love letters sent to me by former beaux; letters of undying love, passion and longing, all there in black and white. I remember receiving the letters in the mail and reading them with heart pounding. Proof! Evidence! For time immemorial!
Sometimes the written word can be too overwhelming for me. I once ceremoniously burned a whole cache of an ex-lover’s letters when he devastatingly betrayed me. It felt really satisfying and vindictive, at the time, to see the letters go up in flame in my fireplace. But now, in hindsight, I really wish I had saved those letters too. My passion takes many forms.
I will always have a love affair with words. Such strength, might and meaning in those silly formations of the alphabet. I am glad for everyone who writes, be it professional writer or avid texter. Getting the words out there takes thought, even if it’s an unintelligible one. It speaks volumes, and I like it.
I have been feeling wistful the last few days, and I think it’s because I’m realizing that summer is starting it’s slow fade into autumn. The days are not as long, and the sun is setting markedly earlier. It is still hot, but not that burning intense mid-summer heat. The leaves are starting to turn on my maple trees, and the blackberries are ripening fast.
I am realizing more and more how much I really love summer. The long days and brilliant light are so treasured! The Pacific Northwest has months and months of unending gray dampness, so the sun is especially welcome. I can dry my clothes outside on the clothesline, I don’t have to turn on the heat, and rarely even turn on the lights. I wear as few clothes as possible and don’t have to worry about layering, socks, and shoes. It is just a simpler lifestyle all around.
But my fashion magazine ‘Fall Fashion Spectacular!’ issues have been arriving at a steady clip, advising me what I absolutely need to be wearing this fall (’80s-style sequined shoulder-padded mini dresses, no thank you…). School schedules and supply lists for my son are coming too. The inevitably of fall is upon me. I don’t know how much more I can live in denial of that fact!
I never been too great at transition points. I always get thrown off for awhile, and a little sad. Once I’m past the delicate tricky part, I can delve into change with great gusto, but I have to go through a little poignancy in the meanwhile. I guess it’s just a part of life of living in a place with four distinct seasons, and me being a more sensitive sort. It pays to just go along with your feelings sometimes.
While I will soon bid the long days of summer adieu, I’ll hold onto and enjoy the last vestiges of light and warmth while it is still here. I actually do enjoy fall in all it’s glory. But let me loll in summertime for a while longer.
I look with bemusement, on the number of people jumping on the frugality bandwagon now that we are in an economic recession. Their ardent, new-found lifestyle is met with amazed declarations like “Wow, you can really save money by making coffee at home!” or “CFL bulbs actually put out just as much light!” Bemusement, why? Because I have always lived this way, and always will. It is seemingly an innate philosophy that is deep within me – I would be leading a disingenuous life if I did otherwise. They are not telling me something that I don’t already know, and live each day.
Believe me, I am happy when others discover the value of thrift…and I do understand the enthusiasm of the newly converted. But the cynic in me wonders whether most of this is a temporary thing, to be shoved aside when the money once again, starts rolling in. I’m sure there are some who feel ‘put upon’ by having to make changes, and can’t wait to get back to their old, excessive lifestyle.
Living frugally, for me, is not a lifestyle of dull austerity. Quite the opposite! To me, it takes more thought and action to actually do things rather than ‘sit back and be entertained’. It is a lifestyle of thinking and doing. And to me, thinking and doing is very fun!
It remains to be seen if more will fall off the wagon once the economy improves. My wish is that more will actually realize the pleasure in remaining thrifty, no matter their income level. I hope this is the case. But I do know that it may be just as hard for some to remain frugal as it would be for me to suddenly become a spendthrift shopaholic!
Fall is right around the corner, and soon we will be bundling up in our sweaters to ward off the chill. I am a real sweater lover. I have stacks and stacks of them in every color, style, fiber, and weight. My personal preference is cashmere, as I can wear it against my sensitive skin. Wool, angora and mohair tend to irritate me, so I wear a layer in between. I also have a fabulous vintage beaded cardigan collection.
I will admit that one of my biggest pet peeves is the dry cleaning of sweaters! Please do not, I repeat, do not dry clean sweaters!
Dry cleaning leaves the fibers stiff and flat. The natural fibers were never meant to be chemically cleaned. When was the last time you saw a sheep, goat, or angora rabbit being run through a dry cleaning process? No; they are out in the elements. Water is certainly not going to hurt! In fact, a gentle hand washing in cool water and gentle cleanser will bring out the natural beauty of the fiber. It plumps and fluffs up the yarn and brings out incredible softness.
I air-dry the sweaters on special flat sweater dryers. These are good because you can shape and block the sweater before it dries. They are mesh, so both sides dry evenly without turning.
Vintage sweaters have always turned out well for me being hand-washed. Even delicate beaded sweaters flourish. I wash them all! In fact, I have a stack of sweaters waiting to be freshly washed for the cooler temps, so I must heed my own advice soon.
So even if you see the dreaded ‘Dry Clean Only’ label…ignore it. Tell ’em Marilyn said you could hand wash!
Get ready to wear those fabulously sexy sweaters, girls!
I air-dry all of my laundry, so I’m a bit biased, but I believe that the clothesline is the best way to care for clothing, especially vintage clothing. When you think about it, the dryer is a quite recent invention, coming into wide usage in the 1950s and 60s. Before that time all drying was done the “natural” way; usually on a clothesline of some sort. Everyone had a clothesline, be it in the city, country, or suburbs. Clothes were strung up and no one gave it a second thought – it’s just the way it was done. It was the only way it was done.
So especially if you own and wear vintage clothing, this is the manner in which they were originally meant to be dried. Not tumbled in high temperatures, being coated with a film of softener from a dryer sheet. Dryers are hard on clothes, wearing them out prematurely. Just take a look at the lint generated after one dryer load – that is fiber from your clothes being worn off. Air drying preserves the fibers so your clothes last longer.
I wash in cold water, a gentle environmentally safe detergent, and then hang dry. I don’t use fabric softeners of any kind; they leave a film coating that attracts dirt and eventually wears your clothes out faster. Clothes love being dried out in the fresh air and sunshine – I’m convinced! Usually there is no need for ironing, they dry crisp and quite wrinkle-free. I can’t remember the last time I used my iron, it is gathering dust in the closet. Then there is the fresh outdoor linen scent on dried laundry that only nature can produce…heavenly.
Don’t be afraid to wash your vintage clothes – they can take it. Do not, I repeat, do not use a dryer! Air-drying is the time-honored way to dry laundry that has been done for centuries. It saves energy, money, and extends the life of your clothes. It can also be your own personal contribution to making the earth a little greener in this modern world!
I have been using a neti pot for about a year and a half now. Practically every day without fail, I prepare the simple solution of non-iodized salt and warm water in my neti pot. Then I perform the cleansing rinse of the nasal passages by pouring the solution in one nostril and out the other. It’s weird, to be sure, but I soon got used to it and now I actually look forward to it. I like having allergens and gunk actually being washed away.
Being a long time sufferer of sinus troubles and allergies, I had been aware of the neti pot for years. Being pre-internet, and before Oprah and Dr. Oz got on the neti pot bandwagon, I for the life of me couldn’t figure out how to use a neti pot from a book! So I suffered from chronic sinus infections and terrible allergies come spring and fall. Dousing myself with allergy medications and trips to the doctor for antibiotics when a sinus infection set in. Well, thank goodness, there was a resurgence of the neti pot about two years ago. Dr. Oz demonstrated how to actually use it on the Oprah show. YouTube videos on it’s use also abounded. So I purchased one, started using it, and never quit!
The neti pot is actually a Yoga practice that has been around for 5,000 years. I figure that anything that’s been around that long without negative effects is worth a try. Not only does it help my allergies immensely, it seems to have a calming effect and I definitely feel cleansed. I still have my allergies, but I’d say my allergy medication use is down about 75%. My sinus problems have almost entirely cleared up, with only an occasional sinus headache.
There is a humorous side effect of neti pot use. Sometimes, hours after using it, when I bend over a flood of water will come rushing out of my nose. Where has this water been all this time? In some recess of my brain? I do have to remember to now, after using it, to bend over and blow all excess solution out of my nose to avoid this. It happened once when I was at the library bending over to get a book on the shelf…I was madly grabbing for tissue, anything, to stop the flood!
It’s definitely worth spending a few minutes a day performing this age-old practice. Practically free too. Incredibly effective…can’t beat that!