Can I Teach You to Love Ironing?

learn to love ironing

Maybe I can; I surely hope I can . . . .

A lot depends upon where your heart is.

Ironing is an art.

I mean, we take the raw material and turn it into a sort of sculpture, don’t we? And it is most beautiful when the shirt is made right, in the first place, so the ironing chore is a joy for the one who irons; the plaids fall naturally into the pleats, the seams fold in the right direction, and the button placket is flat and cooperative. In that way, ironing is like two artists who’ve worked together to send someone out into the world looking finely sculpted.

I’ll tell you, there is something about a man with a fresh haircut, who has groomed his face, and possesses the wealth of freshly ironed shirts to choose from in his closet, that makes him stand out, not only to his employer, but also to me.

I love giving that to my man. And that is the basis of my love for ironing.

The entire foundation for this love lies in the finished product.

  • I love looking at the shirts all lined up in the closet, ready to indulge in.
  • I love slipping into a smooth and lovely fresh-ironed shirt.
  • I love the way I look in the clothing that must be ironed.
  • I love feeling rich, as I do wearing an ironed shirt.
  • I love that my husband goes to work looking totally sharp every day.
  • I love knowing how to iron, and knowing not everyone does know how.

Ironing is probably very much an elitist, self-gratifying thing with me.

After all, I also love when building a tall lasagna that tastes magnificent because we grew the tomatoes, the onions, and even the eggs for making the pasta.

It’s a sort of self-satisfaction with the doing of it, I suppose. However, it also is totally a self-indulgence, quite a bit like rushing to be the first one to dig into the whipped cream carton…

Does that help?

How did I become so nutty?

It all began with my mother. I can remember watching her iron for hours on end, to make some spare cash for our family. It was something she could do and still be available for her babes. (That was me.)

I remember she ironed for a woman who explained in an embarrassed way that she could not do ironing herself, due to arthritis in her hands, which were all gnarly with the devastation. This woman’s husband played an instrument in a dance band in the early 60’s. His white shirts had to be starched and ironed to a specific degree of perfection.

Watching that project taught me a lot about the right and wrong ways to perform with an iron in hand.

I remember she also ironed for a woman who worked outside the home as a nurse. Think white uniform dresses, again totally starched and totally in need of perfection in ironing skills.

My mom was exceptionally skilled at the job, and loved knowing how, teaching me how, and devising new ways to improve.

(She tried re-inventing distilled water for her steam iron, by melting down frost from the refrigerator. Didn’t turn out too well, since the clothing then smelled like fish and bell peppers. :-\ )

Oh, it helps to know how.

One factor that adds to the pleasure is adding a bit of cooked starch to the last rinse water, during the laundry phase, and then hanging the shirts to dry.

After that, spritzing with water to iron makes the work stay , glossy and in place, and makes the work last until you are ready to waste it on yourself.

As I said it is a self-indulgence thing.

And here is the recipe: 1/2 cup corn starch stirred into 2 cups of water, then that mixture stirred into 2 quarts of boiling water. It thickens, some, as you stir, and becomes semi-transparent. Add this hot little mess to a half washer-load of rinse water and then add all the clothing you want to starch, up to about six shirts or so. Agitate and spin on the gentle spin cycle, which leaves a bit more of the liquid in the fabric.

Hang this clothing indoors to dry. That is the secret, and it is worth it, to me. This method keeps spray starch off the walls, floor, ironing board, iron, and everything else. It’s how we who really iron get that really good-looking shirt.

More about hanging clothing to dry, here.

Starching also adds to the longevity of any article of clothing, adding durability and protecting from body oils. It is truly worth every moment of the time it takes.

One small note before you reject every bit of this post: Try starching and ironing your favorite piece made of rayon.

You will be forever hooked.


Wrapped in Nothing But a Bedsheet?

Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery, o/t, ...The powers-that-be have just dragged her from the bed of a man to whom she is not married.

Perhaps all she is wearing is a bedsheet.

Perhaps he is one of the powers-that-be.

Nevertheless, there she stands, exposed, before her authorities. They do not care about her. They do not care about right or wrong. The have stalked her, captured her, and reduced her to the status of rubbish for one purpose: to trick a popular counselor of that day.

“The law demands this woman be stoned to death,” they announce. Then they wait. They are so sure. They have Him this time. The Man of Mercies will have to admit that mercy does not always win.

Or so they think.

He is unperturbed.

He stoops and writes in the dust. A list of their sins? Perhaps.

Do they look around themselves, worriedly, confused? Perhaps.

Meanwhile, the life of a woman hangs over eternity. Perhaps, thrown down to the ground, does she cower? Perhaps.

In a culture that forbids her uncovered state, in a land filled with huge stones, she waits, uncovered, for her stoning.

Finally the Man stands to speak. “And whoever is without sin should throw the first stone.” Then he resumes writing.

Beginning with the eldest–perhaps wisest–each man drops his gleeful attitude, drops his stone, drops his case.

Point taken.

The kind Counselor turns to ask the woman, “Where are they? Who is accusing you?”

The answer, from inside a bedsheet: “No one.”

“Neither do I condemn you.”

Notice He does not say she did not sin, but only that He does not condemn her.

She stands obviously guilty and shamed, but for her, there is now no condemnation.

Stoning is not prevalent in our society, but prostitution is. I want to ask you: How many of us have been there–a blackened past forgiven by the mercies of God?

How many of us throw away that forgiveness?

How many of us hug our sad past close and get it out to look at it and mourn over it, to relive it to its fullest?

How many of us labor with all our might to get out from under sin that no longer is over us?

How many of us, on stormy days, add to the bad past by letting it create for us bad choices, bad attitudes, bad excuses?

A bad present? Even a bad future?

Jesus asked only one thing from that woman, that day, and asks it of us, too: “Go, and sin no more.”


Image via Wikipedia

For the Rest of Your Life…

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. Matthew 6:10

Rest and relaxationI used to feel a little guilty pulling that one out. I mean, there are plenty of Christians who pull Bible verses out of context, just to get what they want! Don’t need more of them!

But isn’t it true that quite often, we moms just would love a nap? Yep. And when Mr. Sandman is beating you around the head and shoulders with his sandbag, Bible verses about rest just seem so true!

So, pull, I would. I remember the first time I realized Jesus was telling his men to take a nap. Arrgh! I never wanted to be part of any Bible story more than that one. Well, unless it was walking on water . . .

But even that would definitely have to be after a nap!

Then one day I realized something about that verse. I realized it is a command . . . and OH, MY! did it work on my sense of self-worth!

The way the story goes, Jesus called his men aside and told them to rest because they’d not even had time to eat.

Yet the questions always come: How!  And will they let you?

Can you relate?! I sure can!

Those hectic days when everything piles on top of everything else are exactly when we need to remember the command is to back off.  Of course, we cannot leave little ones unsupervised while we take a nap, but it is possible to slip into a restful mode and feel the refreshing that can get us through ’til the end of the work day.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. R is for RETREAT. No one will take you seriously if you keep on puttering in the kitchen or shuffling papers. If you don’t quit, you will never get there! Find an easy chair or couch or even a bed and make it look like you mean business.
  2. E is for ENJOY. No fair feeling guilty! Besides, a guilt trip is not restful. Tell yourself you need this and so do they. Smile and close your eyes. Sip a favorite drink. Get to another place in your imagination, if only for a few minutes.
  3. S is for SET A TIMER. Your appointment with rest is important. Make it a good fifteen minutes and make it inviolable time, too. Turn the phone off, give interrupters that blank look, and hush anyone who forgets this is your set time. The timer also assures you won’t over-do it.
  4. T is for THANKFUL. Tell your heart this is a God thing. Every minute is worth cherishing. That lovely feeling of having rested will take you through the rest of the day and even prolong the rest of your life. This is so good; love it for what it is worth.

It may not seem do-able, but you can do it.

Even taking a few moments out, just closing a door for one or two minutes, can make a difference in how we perceive things and how we respond.

It’s a command . . . Okay to obey!

Feeling Called to Fostering…?

Join me today as I’m guesting for Arkansas Women Bloggers, where I tell a tale of two fostering events.

You’ll understand more about the risks, once you’ve read it. <3

Pink Toilet Paper Is for Boys.

Pink Toilet PaperI managed a house full of boys most of my life. With one girlie sandwiched in between them all.

I know boys and toilets.

There’s a lot about boys and toilets ya’ can’t help. Due to their being boys and mom’s being a girl, they tend to object about being checked on very much. Although I would barge in on them if I thought it necessary, and they knew I would.

And sometimes it was plumb necessary. No pun.

When you find incriminating puddles and sprays all over the bathroom they use—well, let’s just say it wasn’t their sister’s doings. Nope.

They might even all deny it, but they all knew I knew one of them did it. Or two.

If I tried drawing their dad into the debates about who would clean up all that mess, he’d chuckle and tell them to mind their mom. Not too convincing, he.

Usually, I made them clean it up, and then maybe made them go back over it because it wasn’t clean enough, and then when they were not looking, I’d get in there and get it clean. I mean, what’s a mom for, if she cannot tell the difference between boy-clean, and clean?

Most of the time, these guys were pretty good. Really. They hung up their towels and draped their wet bath mat over the tub to air out, and flushed when necessary. Not bad for a small herd of ‘em.

There was one thing, though, that they seemed unable to do: They never let me know when their bathroom was almost out of toilet paper, so I could buy more, so the whole house could have enough.

Mind you, they understood the concept of helping keep the grocery list up to date. They never failed to let me know when the cold cereal was low, for instance, and eventually they learned to let me know when their deodorant was low. They actually wrote these entries on the list, themselves.

But toilet paper? Nah. Not so much. Not at all, in fact. How many times does a kid have to humble himself by hobbling over to the door half-clothed, like a ghetto wardrobe gone berserk, and hollering downstairs for someone to please raid the master bath for a roll just for him?

Seemingly an endless number of times.

It is twelve steps up to that level, and down again on the return trip. I know. But I fixed those guys. Yes I did, because I was growing tired of it, if they were not.

I bought a package of pink toilet paper. When they were not looking, I put one roll on the bottom of the stack in their bathroom closet. And I waited.

At first, they did not notice, since the bottom roll in that stack was obscured by a stack of wash cloths. Eventually, though, the rosy truth came to light and the questions began. Why is there pink toilet paper in our bathroom closet? (Of course, their sister did not mind at all, although she also used that room.) How come we have to have pink? And on it went.

I offered the meager answer: They did not have to use it, if they did not want to. I let them puzzle on that one awhile.

And sure enough, when the pink roll was all there was left, they caught on: Tell Mom we’re out of paper. Of course! Do it!

Didn’t take very many applications of that lesson.

In fact, as soon as more white paper appeared in the house, the pink was returned to its guard post behind the wash cloths, never, to my knowledge, to reappear.