Ironing Old Linens
Then I love ironing them and use sizing or a heavy starch. I rush to reassure the reader that I really do love the ironing; it is an anachronism in today’s wash and wear world. During my years as a professional, I lived for the label “dry clean” or “block and allow to dry”. In my years as a mother of active children, I lived for permanent press.
I think I may have gone
about 25 years using the
iron only when I sewed
(which was infrequently)
or on my “yearly” ironing of
the few things that seemed to
collect in the ironing basket
until it overflowed. Now, I
find it so quietly rewarding
that I invested in a seriously
high quality iron a few years
My kids always joked that they knew when I was stressed, because I would iron or find some other menial but intense chore to do. For example, a couple of decades ago, our home in Washington State was near a major forest fire. As the flames were attacking homes in pine forests about a mile away, I was busy scrubbing the kitchen sink to a never-before-seen white. Of course, there was some tense, but well-meaning ribbing by the teenagers that the house would be burning down, but our sink would be stain free. Another time, during a very difficult period as my first marriage was abruptly ending without my input, I was found ironing and starching way into the wee hours of the night. Both events could be analyzed without a psychologist: both had the element of something I could control and do something that brought a measure of order when all other events around me seemed out of order and were out of my control.
Today, my ironing takes on more pleasure. I lay the lovely old doilies out and as I iron them gently, I take a long look at the very small crochet thread that was used by some little lady from years ago.
Or I enjoy the colorful embroidery lovingly applied to a simple pillowcase as an artful act of making her home have a pretty touch.
The tatting is even more amazing! The little series of knots and loops that took hours and hours to form into a lace edge or a collar or other trim is indeed beyond the imagination in most women today.
We have traded the time sitting and crocheting for time in front of the computer on the internet or gaming. We have traded the time tatting and talking and listening for watching any one of our 504 channels on the television. We have traded the lovely embroidery for the printed pillowcases from the big box department store. Our homes get redecorated on a whim, and the neighborhood garage sale gets the old décor of last year and our rooms get the “new stuff” that will bore us again in a few months.
Think of the lovely handwork that the many women of years gone by left behind when they left this world. I am saddened at how these wonderful pieces of skill and love were unwanted by their descendants, thus ending up in a thrift store or an estate sale. My mind starts to wonder: just what am I leaving behind that shows I was here? What shows that I loved my home and my family? What will go on to make someone else appreciate any skill I might have had?
It is easy to cram hours of every day into chores and projects and lists of places to go. But what of these activities will leave behind any unique part of me.
I am so blessed to have my 95 year old Mom living with us; I am especially amazed at her spirit and her mind and her artistic talents. At 93 she completed four pieces of exquisite paper cutting called, Scherenschnitt, a Swiss papercutting technique. The framed pieces hang in our formal living room and will be passed down to her great granddaughters some day.
Sometimes, as I am out shopping or driving, I hear a song recorded years ago and being sung today. It has the beauty and clarity as though it was just recorded, but then it strikes me that John Denver has now been gone almost 15 years. Or I hear Karen Carpenter sing with that lovely voice and find it hard to believe that she has been gone for nearly 30 years! How amazing to think that for decades to come, people will enjoy their lovely music. What a legacy to leave—
I am fully aware that our greatest legacy as mothers, is the children that we rear into productive citizens of the world. And I was also blessed to be a teacher for 42 years and I know that is a contribution that my life continues to make as my students have children and those children have children and on and on.
photo thanks to http://www.vitahuset.nl/