Friday, January 29, 2010

You will be hearing about....

An Irish Country Doctor, and three other tales, An Irish Country Village, An Irish Country Christmas, and An Irish Country Girl, because I just won these books in a giveaway by Nan over at Letters from a Hill Farm. This is the first time I have ever won anything, and I am expecting to enjoy these books a lot. I guess I've been watching too many 1940s movies lately, because the phrase that comes to my mind is: "Gee, this is swell!"

Thanks so much, Nan.

Also, please see Jodi's comment on Cabin Fever Remedies for Children and her hilarious contribution.

What do kids really like best? What items really do fire their imaginations and get them spinning out scenarios? It's an interesting question. But then it's an interesting question as to what a child's mind is like -- the child before they have hit that stage where they are pretty much in the real world, even though they are fledglings. With girls, I always think that they have lost their child mind when the activity of talking is satisfying. I remember being about 9 years old and seeing teenage girls talking and talking and thinking to myself, "All they are doing is talking! Why aren't they bored stiff?"

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cabin Fever Remedies for Children

Christmas Morning by Carl Larsson, 1894

Do you have a passel of elementary school-age children that get rammy and wild indoors during the winter months when it's too cold to throw them outside for too long? For this situation, it's always good to have on hand a lunch-size bag of rubber bands, which you can find here and all kinds of other places.

The lowly rubber band: children's toy par excellence

Here's why I say this.

One winter weekend, my daughter, who was about 8 at the time, and I went up to visit my brother's family, where she loved to play with her two cousins--a boy then 9 years old and a daughter then 4 years old. The kids had a play room where all the toys were kept. For more than two days, the three cousins played there completely engrossed and happy. What were they playing with? A big bag of rubber bands. They created elaborate structures by stringing these things together, roping them around the room, and then playing out action scenarios to go with their architecture, the scenarios also calling for new architectures, and so on. My sister-in-law drew the lesson: "This is so ridiculous! They ask for these expensive toys and you get them, and look what they spend all this time with--rubber bands!"

Of course, be careful that you simply make the bag of rubber bands available. Do not under any circumstances indicate that you expect said rubber bands to be played with.

Other objects that need to be at hand for children this age are old sheets, blankets, and towels. Of course, no adult should suggest that kids make play tents out of these discarded household items. Creating dens and warrens all over a bedroom or playroom or basement often can fire the imagination for hours of play.

These are just two items that I know of that can keep kids happily preoccupied. If you have others, we would love to hear them!

Reason 10 to Hang Out the Wash: Little Children Love It

Pictures of my daughter at age 16 months having a ball running through the laundry.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Romance of Laundry?

My favorite laundry painting: Wash Day, A Back Yard Reminiscence of Brooklyn by William Merritt Chase, 1886.

Artists have been captivated by women doing the washing just as they found the subject of a woman ironing fascinating.

A very romantic vision by Auguste Renoir.

A focus on work: Sheet with Two Women Doing Laundry by Vincent van Gogh

Wash Day by Martha Walter, a member of the Pennsylvania Impressionist School

Washerwoman by Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin, 1733

Peasant Hanging out the Wash by Berthe Morisot, 1881

The laundry landscape:

Hanging Out the Laundry by Berthe Morisot, 1875

Andrew Wyeth's ode to washday: Monday Morning, 1955

The world's most famous laundress:

Mrs. Tiggy Winkle by artist, naturalist, farmer, and storyteller Beatrix Potter

Is the Clothesline an Aesthetic Affront?

Are the local aesthetic police afraid of this?

It turns out that in some localities, hanging out the laundry in the backyard is forbidden by local ordinances.

For instance, according to Reuters wire of November 18, 2009, in Perkasie, Pennsylvania:
Carin Froehlich pegs her laundry to three clotheslines strung between trees outside her 18th-century farmhouse, knowing that her actions annoy local officials who have asked her to stop.... Although there are no formal laws in this southeast Pennsylvania town against drying laundry outside, a town official called Froehlich to ask her to stop drying clothes in the sun. And she received two anonymous notes from neighbors saying they did not want to see her underwear flapping about. "They said it made the place look like trailer trash," she said, in her yard across the street from a row of neat, suburban houses. "They said they didn't want to look at my 'unmentionables.'"
Or for instance, I was shocked to learn that in my own suburban community in Northern Virginia, hanging laundry outside is prohibited even in one's own yard. Prohibiting open air laundry drying seems to fly in the face of the need for energy saving and the romance of laundry.

Here are some reasons to hang out laundry.

1. Drying clothes outside on a line saves energy. Project Laundry List, which Reuters notes is promoting open air clothes drying, claims that dryers account for 10% to 15% of our domestic energy consumption. Clotheslines should be encouraged to reduce energy consumption--a simple proposition.

2. Air drying in the winter brings humidity into the house; air drying outside in the summer means the dryer is not producing more heat inside your home.

3. White laundry brightens up in the sun.

4. The sun sanitizes clothes.

5. Hanging up clothes is a simple pleasure that gives mild exercise.

6. Open-air dried sheets, towels, and pillow cases smell wonderful!

7. The dryer is noisy; air drying is silent or you hear the delicious flapping of sheets in the wind.

8. Suspense -- "Uh oh, looks like rain--will I get home in time to bring in the laundry?"

9. Clothes drying in the breeze are also an aesthetic pleasure--think of The Gates exhibit in Central Park in February 2005 by Christo and Jeanne-Claude!

If The Gates is art, why isn't this:

Tea towels out on the line. Search Flickr Clothesline for an impressive photo parade of clotheslines!