Posts Tagged ‘lavender’

I took my mother to the Dutch and Flemish masters exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum yesterday. She loved it and was reminded of many things from her life as a young girl in Germany.

I visited the exhibit in a hurry last week but yesterday I was able to spend a relaxed series of breaths with the paintings and I could love the ones I love for a wee bit more time. The rooms were more crowded, too, and it was fun to listen to people talk about the paintings. I liked observing and participating in this little expression of human nature. What struck me as funny was how people have a lot to say about art and what they are seeing, have lots of ideas and feelings and impressions; but as there seems to be an unspoken pressure to be right about art (as if there is some objective truth beyond each person’s interpretation), a lot of folks tended to clam up. Then again, to give the patrons the benefit of the doubt, maybe silence helps most people take in the visual, and verbal commentary detracts from this pleasure–?. Being on the verbose side myself, I thought the funnest folks were the ones who were willing to say things out loud, to ask silly questions, and to engage with their fellows and fellowines (okay I know that’s not a word, but shouldn’t it be?).

My mom and I ate lunch out, ate dinner out, walked on the beach in Gloucester, and drove around in circles at various points on our journey because I no longer use a map (thanks GPS) and because the British-voiced GPS Lady is sort of !@#$ ed sometimes in her satellite-induced calculations. I used to be a champion map-reader, but not any more, and what does it matter because, map or GPS, when you get lost in a place and come back again some day, you’ve got a better lay of the land than if you hadn’t gotten lost at all.

Thankful for yesterday with mum, then.

Thankful for this beautiful herb drying rack which I ordered on etsy a few days ago (first ever etsy purchase):

You can see that I’ve been gathering lavender and bundling it to dry; cutting a few other herbs as well to see how they’ll fare. This is something I love–the flowers and herbs in my garden. I imagine how wonderful it would be to make those lavender bundles like you see in France or in fancy, expensive gift shops all over small WASPy and affluent towns in America. How do they get the lavender to stay darkly-colored and fresh for years? I think it has something to do with boric acid and that’s a step too far for me, so my lavender eventually dries out and sort of shreds away. Like the motif of fleeting time and mortality one finds in paintings from the Golden Age of Dutch art.

Here are a few of my fave paintings, at least ones of which I could find images:

Here’s one which didn’t have any commentary attached to it, as many of the pieces did. I love it. Of all of the paintings, I think it is the most pornographic in nature (there was one other, too, a dandy man in the early stages of disrobing in his dressing room, painted in shades of ochre). It is called “Young Girl Eating Sweets.” And so she is and wouldn’t I like some of what she has? But I don’t think she plans on sharing.

And this:

Isn’t she beautiful? I think I am in love with her.

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Disclaimer: The following is my longest post to date. I have a sort of unwritten commitment not to do terribly long posts because I know how busy you are and I know how bored I become with overly-indulgent blogs. But I tried. This is edited down to a nubbin, really. For this is my passion. One of my favorite phrases, when I was absolutely in the throes of new motherhood and PPD was, “I feel like I’ve been run through a wringer washer.” And so it goes. I hope this post leaves you feeling fresh and new. Or like someone has injected you with a Clean Burst of something; what I don’t know, but something.

I love the laundry. I love doing the laundry. I love dirty clothes because I can have my way with them. I wear a gilded crown, for I am the Laundry Queen.

I love sorting the laundry. Darks. Delicate darks. Lights. Whites. Delicate lights. Mixed colors.

Whites–hot. Darks–medium. Delicates–cold.

I received a fancy washing machine for my birthday in 2009.

I bought a fancy dryer for my birthday in 2010.

I am not frivolous–both of my older machines had gone on the fritz (fritzes?). I only upgraded to new and fancy out of necessity.

There are still things I miss about my old machines. The simplicity of the non-digital controls. Whatever the hell temperature I want on the rinse cycle, for instance, instead of the absurd preset on my new washer. My old Maytag allowed me to apply any combination of settings: cold and delicate; hot and delicate; hot rinse, if I dared to be so bold. Who the hell cares but me, after all? The Commies who made my new machine think that clothes should only be rinsed in cold water. Why wasn’t I consulted by the engineers who designed this machine? Because they are Commies and they are stupid and no doubt they are male, that’s why.

In spite of some minor engineering mishaps, I do love my washer. It even has a window. Sometimes while the water is filling, I put my hand on the window to see if I can detect the water temperature, but it is always simply cool and smooth, like glass.

My dryer is fancy, too, with all sorts of preset digital possibilities, like a rainbow, like the promise of order, control, and peace. Again, the old Maytag was balls-to-the-wall in the simplicity department. The door to this machine, however, is sort of a blush gold color with a diamond sheen to boot and that almost makes up for its complex settings. It feels really good, too. Just the way the door opens and closes. It’s solid, not as solid as something made in America in the ’40s or ’50s or ’60s, but solid enough. It is a “smart” machine, supposedly, meaning it can detect when the load is dry and so it adjusts its timing either to keep drying a load or to end it before the time-set. It sounds really good, doesn’t it? Environmentally responsible and all and I am all for environmental responsibility. But, 9 times out of 10, I pull those clothes out and they are still damp damp damp dammit!

The dryer also has an interior light and this is up there in the Most Frivolous Features Department. Because only a wimp is afraid of the dark interior of a clothing dryer. But more on the interior light in a moment.

The topper on the Worst Things list for my new dryer is the location of the lint filter. I looked at so many dryers. This one was so pretty, so shiny, so much the last floor model of a discontinued line at such a reduced price. What could I do? Not many dryers have the lint filter low down any more. What dickhead decided to put it ON TOP of the machine? The linty dust goes all over the place, high and low, instead of just low. Oh well. It’s still a beauty. Did I mention that it has a window, too? Yes. This is the only reason to have an interior light on a dryer. To watch the laundry tumbling around in all of its magnificent rising and falling glory.

Folding and hanging to dry. This is perhaps the part of the laundry that I never seem to have the time for, but it is one of the most satisfying. I attribute my stellar folding skills to having a German mother. You should see my mother’s linens. You should see my mother’s kitchen towels. If you open a linen cupboard in my aunt’s house, you’ll see that it is identical to my mother’s.

When I was in college and washed my clothes in the dorms, I would iron my damp linens and hang them to dry, no kidding. What lunacy, and yet, I get it. It is like Susun Weed says about the flowering part of the violet–it is just for show. The real flower, the sexually-reproducing part, appears closer to the ground, hidden and mysterious. But who doesn’t love the violet flower that we see, the showy, the frivolous, the part that attracts, nonetheless, with its fragrance and color?  This is what ironing sheets and linens is to me. I gave it up long ago, but I get it. It’s sexy and it’s attractive and it’s just for turning us on. By the way, like so many of the holy triumvirates that secretly hold the world in place, the tri-fold rules in most applications for the folding of the laundry.

Detergent. People, please. Stop with the scented crap. It’s really, really, really bad for you, for me, for the environment. Really. The birds and bees outside smell your dryer sheets. They don’t like it and it confuses the complex network of their superior odor-collecting senses. When I am driving your children in my carpool, I don’t want them to smell like fake flowers and bullshit chemicals. This is like plastic surgery for clothing. Just stop it. I get headaches from bad detergent scents. They smell fake and crappy, and produce chemically-induced headaches and allergic reactions. Here are some of the fragrances, most of which sound like names of strippers (and my head rings with Tom Waits: “all the donuts have names that sound like prostitutes”), by which you may be tempted: Fresh Water Sparkle; Floral Fusion; Apple Mango Tango; Peony Blossom; Mountain Fresh; Renewing Rain; Hawaiian Aloha.

If you really must use scented detergent, there are a few brands whose fragrances are truly natural, but twinkly here cannot do your research for you. I even find that Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products give me a headache. For supposedly being “all natural,” the fragrances are suspiciously overpowering and chemical-smelling to me. Being a masseuse for so long, I have been using essential oils for nigh 20 years. A drop or two of lavender (a word which, btw, may or may not have its etymological roots in the Latin lavare: http://thewordguy.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/lavender-laev%C9%AAn%CB%8Cd%C9%99/  ) is all I really need if I’m jonesing for scent. Then I know what I’m getting and from where.

You know, etymologically speaking, there is also some contention that “laundress” and “washerwoman” are related to the words for “prostitute, whore; camp follower.” Well, I can assure you that I am no camp follower! There’s also this bit of goddess/whore lore: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bean_nighe

I did find this, if any of you are industrious enough:


Now I know you good environmentalists can chide me and edumacate me about why I don’t need a dryer at all. I know all about the beauty and virtue of clotheslines. But I also gave one up when I moved to Western MA 11 years ago. I have always meant to put one up, but I never got around to it. I do use three different drying racks in the laundry area of my basement. I use these all the time. But I don’t hang towels, jeans, most of Hubby’s shirts, and sheets. I use my dryer for these because I cannot tolerate the stiffness otherwise.

One of the best films I have ever seen was a short, 16mm-documentary called “Clotheslines” by Roberta Cantow. I am not sure if it is still shown anywhere. This was 20 years ago when even a state university in Ohio had a film program and film department. I think of that movie all the time. It is much better than this post and you should look it up and try to get hold of it, absolutely.

Recently, someone said she should pay me to do her laundry. It is true: I should be paid to do people’s wash, I love it so much. But Celebrity Bucks, not dimes, nickels or quarters. Or even more: CEO of Corporation bucks with compensation, year-end mega-bonus, corporate Washing Jet, and Washing Machine Island vacations, thrown in for good measure.

She doesn’t look too happy, does she? Sort of constipated, a forced smile. Still, I like it.

When I did massage, 20 years ago, at The Akron Jewish Center in Ohio, one of my weekly regulars was a woman, 79-years old, named Jeanne Glauberman. Jeanne would say to me, in a thick Yiddish brogue, “If she vants to be a vashervoman, she should be a vashervoman.” And so it is true. She vants to be a vashervoman and so she is.

Hey, did anyone get the title reference? Just vondering.

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