Posts Tagged ‘chores’

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Here’s what I know about laundry, after a decade and a half or so: it’s one of the chores I don’t mind.

Make no mistake: sometimes it’s a pain, especially when I’m not eager to schlep a full hamper down three flights of stairs to the basement and back up again. I also know that it’s easier for me than for many people, thanks to my electric washer and dryer: I don’t have to spend hours scrubbing clothes, or days waiting for them to dry.

That being said, I love a warm, soft pile of clean laundry, heaped onto a bed so I can sort it and put it away. I love a full drawer of patterned cloth napkins, a neatly folded stack of clean sheets. I love emptying the laundry hampers after a trip or a harried week.

As Kathleen Norris has noted, laundry is “one of the very few tasks in life that offers instant results, and this is nothing to sneer at.” Laundry is also one of the ways I take care of myself and my husband, putting a part of our lives to rights, creating (some) order where there was previously chaos. And about once a week these days, you can find me combining laundry with a couple of other rituals: podcasts and scones.

I’m a slow listener to only a couple of podcasts. I love Krista Tippett’s wise, thoughtful, wide-ranging conversations with all sorts of folks on On Being, though I admit I don’t get to them all. And I never miss an episode of All the Books!, which features Liberty and a rotating cast of other women talking about the latest and greatest books they’re reading, or highlighting old favorites. There are frequent digressions to other topics, which is part of the fun, and I love hearing their warm, funny, generous voices in my ear as I putter around the kitchen, washing dishes and wiping counters and watering the thirsty geraniums.

The third part of this ritual is Molly’s scones, which I’ve been eating for breakfast nearly every day for a couple of years now. They’re hearty and delicious and not too sweet, and by now I know the recipe by heart and by hand.

I measure out the flour, whisk in baking powder and salt, grate in a few tablespoons of butter and stir in white sugar and dried cranberries. I can do all these things while I’m listening, and while the laundry spins downstairs. I pop them into the oven and then head downstairs to check on the dryer, or hang up sweaters or corral my husband’s socks. I come back up and pull out the cookie sheet, letting it cool on the counter. And I exhale.

It’s been a fast and full stretch around here lately: change, the only constant of the past few years, has been coming faster than I can keep up with. I’ve found myself scattered and frustrated, more often than I care to admit. But this ritual and a few others, when I can sink into them, help ground me.

As we head into summer – with more change ahead – you can (sometimes) find me in the kitchen, baking and folding and listening.


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Folding My Way Home

Image from the Flickr Commons

Home is where you do your laundry.

I have yet to see this phrase on any of those distressed wooden boards painted with cheery slogans, so ubiquitous in shabby-chic home décor shops. In my homeland of Texas, the signs often say “Home is where you hang your hat,” adorned with a cowboy hat (or boots). I love the variation I saw on a pillow last year: “sweet home sweet,” a four-year-old’s variation on “home sweet home.” And for the last few years, my husband and I have quoted the line from folk band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes: “Home is wherever I’m with you.” We often feel like foreigners in our suburb south of Boston, but we have chosen, and keep choosing, to make a home together, wherever we are.

There are no signs on my walls about laundry, or washing dishes, or my other daily and weekly chores. But after nearly a decade of washing and spinning and hanging clothes to dry, in half a dozen houses on both sides of the Atlantic, I’ve come to believe that laundry is a quiet but essential part of the way I make a home.

I’m back at the the Art House America blog today, musing about laundry and how it helps ground me. Head over there to read more.

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