Adventures in Cold Water Washing


I am the ever-practical environmentalist; doing all that I can in my daily life to keep the earth a little greener.  Most notably in my laundry practices.  I’ve been air-drying exclusively now for about four years; ever since my dryer refused to heat.  It makes my life easier (really!), my utility bill is down about 15%,  and I don’t have the added worry of a possible dryer fire.

While I could feel some smug satisfaction with the energy and environmental saving aspects of using a clothesline, I still continued to regularly use warm, and sometimes hot water to wash my laundry.  I think it was a combination of  “it has always been done this way”, and the thought that my clothes would not get clean in cold water.    I think it’s been pounded in our collective brains over the years through advertising, and yes, from mom, that warm and hot water washes are “the way” to go.  You don’t want creepy crawly bacteria or other horrifying creatures crawling on your clothes do you???

This summer I decided to “Go Cold”… all the way, baby!  The temperature setting on my washer is now set on cold, and hasn’t budged.  I wash everything in cold water.  Yes, even sheets, towels, and underwear.  Amazingly, everything comes out extremely clean.  The whites are brilliant, and the colors aren’t faded.  I am almost convinced that there is some kind of super power in cold water!

No heat at all is used in my laundry practices.  Cold water wash, and then straight to the clothesline or drying rack.  I rarely, if ever, iron – so no heat from that either.  Hang-drying leaves clothes perfectly pressed.  The life of my clothes will probably be extended indefinitely!  This is good because I love my clothes, and wear a lot of vintage clothing too.

These days I guess I could feel a bit smugger, knowing I’m about as green as you can get in laundry practices.  But I’m not a smug person.  I do get a feeling of satisfaction and yes, joy, from doing things this way.  Now THAT is a good feeling!


Autumn Blue

autumn vintage 2

The weather is glorious today, and is supposed to continue throughout the week.  My laundry is outside hanging on the line, one of the last weeks I’ll be able to do this I’m sure, before the sunny rays fade and the cool rains set in.  Soon it will be back to drying my laundry inside on a drying rack.  I’ve lived so long without a dryer that it would be weird to use one again.  But the transition from outside drying to inside drying is a bit wistful to me;  I so enjoy the sunshiny contentment of hanging my clothes outside.  Inside drying is fine, but comes with the minor annoyance of finding space for the drying rack, and having wet stuff draped over every drapable fixture in my small house.

I haven’t turned on my furnace yet either.  We’ve had pretty nice days, but cold nights and I’ve been able to resist turning it on by letting the sun shine in the windows all day, and wearing layers.  I have this strange compulsion to see how long I can go into the season without turning the heat on.  I’ve made it to October 5th at least!

Even though the days have been warmish, there is still that cool undercurrent of nip in the air.  I have been wearing socks, shoes, and my beloved cashmere sweaters.  There is just no denying that we can’t hang onto the sunny warm weather forever here in the Pacific Northwest.  It makes me feel sort of blue; poignant and reflective.  My emotions seem to change with the seasons too.

Now comes the time to transition into doing more ‘nesting’ things.  I’m reading more novels, cooking homemade dinners, and plan to start knitting again.  It is time to get in the rhythm of fall; slow down the pace and enjoy the season.


Perchance to Dream

sleeping juneI’ve always been a bit of an insomniac.  Even as a child, I would lay awake at night trying mightily to go to sleep.  I’ve always been envious of people who could fall asleep as soon as their head hit the pillow…simply amazing to me!   The amount of hours that I’ve spent laying in bed trying to go to sleep must be staggering….probably in the thousands.  The cause of my insomnia is just plain thinking.  I think and think and think.   Sometimes I wish I could just turn my brain off at night to allow it to rest.  But yet, when I do fall asleep, I dream wildly.  My brain just does not know how to quit.

I am coming to the realization that perhaps I really don’t need that much sleep.  I read all the articles about the dangers of not getting enough sleep; how we need it to look beautiful, feel terrific, and to even lose weight.  Maybe it’s all a bunch of hype – at least for me?  I function okay, look okay, and am an okay weight, despite never getting enough sleep.  So maybe what I need is to get over is my worry about not sleeping much.  When, on the rare occasions I do sleep for over 8 hours, I usually feel sluggish, even more tired, and slightly hungover.  I feel as though I wasted so much time in repose.

I’ve been taking a number of natural supplements to try to help me get to sleep.  Melatonin, magnesium, GABA, and 5-HTP are good ones that I use in different combinations.  They are helpful in the fact that they help relax me (and my thoughts).   I still don’t sleep that much, but at least they help to calm and take the edge off.

The best part of sleeping is my dreams.  I love to dream.  Wildly realistic, sometimes stressful, but always interesting.  The best part of waking up is remembering my dreams.  A dreaming insomniac am I?  So be it.


The Beauty of the Written Word

lettersThis 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.


The Wistful End of Summer

end of summer

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.


The New Frugality – Fad…or Forever?

coinsI 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!