Saturday, October 8, 2011

Zen and the Art of Laundry

Lace and Laundry by Carol Apple

So I've been wanting to blog about laundry.

I kept putting it off because well, laundry might not be as thrilling to you as it is to me. I wasn't sure I could express my feelings properly. The ideas weren't flowing.

Then I saw this drawing on my friend Carol's Face Book page, and it totally inspired me.  It embodies everything I feel and want to say about hanging clothes on the line. The wistful look on the girl's face, the beautiful sky and the clothes swaying in the breeze....

It's perfect.  I love this drawing. I love Carol's art.  I want to be the girls in her drawings. There is something about them....

Carol is a writer who "doodles." At least that is what she calls it. But so many
of us have told her this is real ART, that I think she finally got the message. She recently launched her blog Scribbleflowers, where she shows us some of her drawings and chit chats about art, in layman's terms. She brings art to a level we can all understand and maybe believe we can do it too. Or at least try our hand at it and enjoy the process. I hope you will take a minute to go visit her over at Scribbleflowers when you are done here!

So back to laundry. I don't have anything profound to say about it really. The actually process of washing--loading the dirty clothes into the hamper, filling the washer with water and soap, putting the clothes's all very mundane. But somehow satisfying. It's the only chore that sort of does itself while you can go do something else. All you have to do is start it up. Then the washer does the rest. Aren't we lucky we no longer have to use one of THESE?

Okay you say, but you still have to dry and fold. Yea, I know. But if you have a dryer, that's still a machine doing the work for you. And all that folding can be done by those other people who live in your house and need more chores to do.

Back to my original thought...... the clothesline! Do you have one? I know, this sounds like work and we were just talking about letting machines do all the work. But this is a chore I never mind doing. Hanging your wash on the line takes laundry to a whole new level. Instead of a chore, it becomes an act of meditation.

There is something about taking my basket of laundry outside, being in the fresh air, and one by one, pinning each article of clothing up on the line. Clothespins are  just so old fashioned, and I love that. They are so simple and they do the job just the way they are meant to. If they break, you just grab another. No need to send it to a repair shop.

Now, I don't dry all my clothes on the line. In fact, the only ones I do are things that won't wrinkle or get so stiff that you can't wear them. Most of my sons' clothes fall into this category. And bed sheets. Those are my favorite to hang on the line. They dry very quickly, and you just can't beat the wonderful scent of sun and fresh air that lingers on them when you bring them inside. I don't know how sunshine has a scent, but it does.

And if that isn't incentive enough, for those of you who are "green," this is the ultimate way to be good to the environment. Only wind and solar energy required. Good for the environment and good for your pocketbook. It's a win/win situation.

That's all I have to say about laundry. Oh, except if you are going to hang your clothes on the line, make sure it isn't going to rain that day. I have forgotten this rule on several occasions.

The song I leave you with has nothing to do with laundry. I know the obvious song would be "Dirty Laundry" by Don Henley, but honestly, I can't stand that song. And this one by the totally awesome band, The Hollies is actually the song that has been in my head while writing this. Things are not always logical up there. In fact, they rarely are. "The Air That I Breathe" makes perfect sense to me...


  1. Great post! I, too, don't mind doing laundry. I have trained my kids to do their own, however. I don't have a clothes line, but do have lots of drying racks inside my house! I'm pretty picky about how things are folded, too, so only my daughter and myself are allowed to do it (I trained her the right way!)

  2. The clothes line makes sence, especially whenever I use the dryer, it turns all my tee shirts inside-out, and loses one sock.

    Cranky Old Man

  3. When I was growing up we had a summer beach house, no dryer just a washer. The line ran from the house on a pulley to a telephone pole in the corner of our yard. I loved to hang the clothes, they smelled so good. As a teenager I didn't even mind doing the family laundry, amazing huh?

    It became such a preference to the clothes dryer that I did it when I had kids; crazy I know!

    I only got rid of my clothes line when the doctor suggested it wasn't good for everyone's allergies, bummer.

  4. My washer is running as I read your blog! I also have a clothesline that I use often.
    You are so right; there is something so satisfying to have everything "in its place" once the laundry is done.

    My three children all learned, at a very early age, how to wash their own laundry. I remember when I first began with my daughter; she had failed to bring out her hamper (on more than one occasion), or pick up her laundry from the floor for that matter, and came out to me, in an accusatory tone, informing me that she had no clean underwear because I hadn't done her laundry. It was her job from then on...

    The boys learned by jr. high, mainly for their athletic practice clothes that needed to be washed every night. It helped them be more responsible for themselves. Now they live together at college, and I understand that my older son throws whatever he needs washed into the washer and waits for my younger one to wash his clothes. He gets his done by default~

  5. Somehow I just can't quite warm up to freeze-dried clothes. Or hanging out the laundry at 40 below. I have problems enough with the cold water wash when the water comes out of the pipes at 32.5 °F.

  6. I have a magnet on my fridge that says "housework is must be banned". Fortunately, hubby does the vacuuming so our home is squeaky clean.

    Yet, I enjoy doing the laundry and I absolutely LOVE folding towels.

    For years I've kept silent, fearing my addiction was too weird and crazy to be shared, but no more. What a relief to know there are others like me.

    Thank you, Michael Ann. I feel SO much better now! ;-)

  7. Great story! I used to have a clothesline when I lived in the country I loved it.

  8. Thanks so much for your nice words Michael Ann. I am just feeling the warmth all over!And I'm so glad that one of my pictures has gone to work illustrating a story!

    I rarely hang laundry outside because it's so often humid where I live, and in the summer there are long stretches of time you just cannot rely on it not to rain, no matter what the weather man says. Sometimes we hang large items out in the deck rails. But I love the idea of the wind and sun supplying power for free for something!

  9. Great post Michael Ann. If I was able to I'd love to hang everything outside - laundry is so much fresher isn't it? A lovely idea to have Carol's drawing on here also and share about her. Excellent.

  10. I was raised a country girl, but when I grew up I moved to town (what were you thinking, stupid?). In the country my mom had a close line that went for miles (okay, that's what it looked like from a child's perspective). I loved air dried scented clothes. Today, since I live in town and I don't have a big enough yard for a clothes line, I use a portable clothes rack. One of those that is suppose to be used for drying sweaters and delicate items. I often set it up on my back deck to dry some of my clothes.
    Great read!!

  11. Totally get it, hanging out the laundry is my favourite household chore and whenever I am stuck writing my novel, I find this act always unblocks and opens the way forward.

    On a sunny day, I even fold it outside, because that's not someting I enjoy so much inside, but outdoors, it is indeed a pleasurable mindful meditation.

  12. I do love that smell of sunshine, wind and air in clothesline dried clothes. I haven't often had the opportunity to do it (living in a city and an apartment), but it is meditative, isn't it? Like taking down life to the bare basics, a simplicity that can be very calming and soothing.

    On my way to look at your friend's art. Love the piece you posted.

  13. All your comments are so heartwarming! Yes, I suppose many of you live in climates where hanging laundry on the line isn't always an option. I am spoiled, for sure. Kat, you said it just right, "taking life to the bar basics." THAT sums it up about why I love it! :-)

  14. I am with you, I love to hang my clothes outside. All but towels because they get so stiff. I did find a few good shakes tends to get rid of some of the stiffness.


  15. I loved hanging clothes and did it till only a year and a half ago when my stupid feet got worse and really I can't do it anymore.My family hung clothes all my childhood and my grandmother didnt get a dryer like me till she couldnt physically walk to do it anymore. Seeing the sheets on the line were the best, there is a zen to it-something about it, but I cant tell you what exactly! lol

  16. I wish I had room for a clothesline. It's what my mother used. I used to love the fresh air scent the clothes got by being dried this way. But I live in a condo and they don't allow that sort of thing in our patio. :(

  17. I am completely and totally dedicated to my clothesline and drying racks. I love the way the clothes smell afterward, and I also love not wasting the gas to use my dryer. Love it!

  18. After reading your post and then all the comments I'm am ashamed to admit laundry is not my favorite household chore, but what I do love is the smell of fresh linnens, dried in the cold, cold weather.

  19. Makes me want to go do some laundry right this minute. Except it's dark, and I can't hang clothes on the line now.

    Clothes dryers are a beautiful thing. I live in an apartment, and while my exercise bras on the line are one thing... not into my cotton grannies out there in all their glory.

    I'd forgotten that song by the Hollies - here comes another download!

  20. What? I hate laundry! But maybe this is because I never get to hang clothes outside? (Boo, Seattle, boo.) No, I think I would still hate laundry. (But the drawing IS lovely.)

  21. I also love doing laundry. It's the one chore I never mind. I might consider a line, but my sister definitely would not. She lived in Italy for a year, and had to hang all of her clothes on a line. The problem was that she lived there in the winter, and it rained, almost every day. So her clothes remained soggy for days and days, and she often put them on half-wet. Sometimes they were wet so long, they grew mold and had to be re-washed.

  22. I dislike chores of any kind and wish everyday Tinker Bell lived in my house so I could magic away domestic non-bliss. Yes, I agree sheets smell fresh if you live in the middle of corn fields somewhere in middle American, but here in the City, I opt for a bounce sheet thrown in my heavy duty Sears and Roebuck. Aside from my whining, loved the post and Carol's art works if fabulous.

  23. This is a lot of people gathered in one place who love to do laundry! I love your friend Carol's drawings. So vibrant and wistful, like you said.

    Thanks for your kind words at Laura's blog on my guest post today.

  24. new follower from It's great to find new blogs to read looking forward to getting to read more. Would love a follow back.

  25. Michael Ann, I will defintely stop by Carol's blog! On the subject of laundry, I love that you get to hang up your clothes on the line. Our dryer has been broken for the past two years and I've been hanging mine on any surface that will hold wet clothes. At this point I want to think I've developed a system. I even wrote a blog post about it! So yeah, I wish I had fresh air to dry my clothes, but alas, it's the indoors who dries our wear!

  26. Oh laundry. Mmmm I have a love hate relationship with it. I DO NOT like putting it away!! But I agree that hanging it out can be theraputic...thanks for your emails, sorry I had not responded as yet (busy doing laundry!) But it's nice to meet you too!! And no I haven't climbed a tree lately but used to as a kid :) Have a great day!

  27. Great post, Michael Ann. I have to say that I don't mind doing laundry at all, and at one time I had 6 kids at home, so that was a lot of laundry.
    Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I'm so excited to hear that you are going to write down your dreams!!! Keep me posted!
    PS I love your friend's artwork. I visited her blog and followed her.

  28. I love that you dry some of your laundry on the line - it seems so sweet and old fashioned!

  29. I would love to have a line outdoors for drying laundry. When my two boys were growing up it seemed the laundry would never end. Now it's pretty simple!

  30. I never thought a post about laundry would elicit so many comments! Must be the fabulous art work :-) Thank you all so much!


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