Wednesday, October 04, 2006


1. If I'm going to do boring domestic chores, I might as well do them outside in the air and sun.

2. The cats come around and rub against my legs.

3. The dogs get drag out their balls and bones. Playtime!

4. When I'm finished, the fluttering colors, carefully grouped by size, category and proximity to the sun, feel like my own little work of art.

5. It's a great time to think about my latest writing project.

6. I smile when I open the electric bill.

7. It connects me to my mother and grandmother, both of whom I remember standing in the wind, as they pinned a dazzling white sheet to the line. Nana in her housedress. My mother in the changing fashions of the twentieth century.

8. No need to buy expensive exfoliants! A scratchy line-dryed towel rubs away dead skin and makes the new glow like nothing else.

9.It's good for the environment (but you knew that).

10. Sometimes, like yesterday, I even see a Monarch butterfly fluttering nearby. Ah, it's the simple things...


Meanwhile, the 3rd Day Book Blog, happening right here, has already attracted the kind of members who are sure to make for a great discussion. Anyone who wants to read HALF OF A YELLOW SUN and share their thoughts, please join us.

And if there's any kindhearted, technologically advanced soul out there who can tell me how to make a banner announcing the book blog pick for my sidebar, I desperately want to hear from you.


Vickie said...

Hmm, a Monarch. Haven't seen one of those in awhile. Aren't they moths?

Patry Francis said...

vickie: I could well have named the butterfly incorrectly. Quite possible that it was so stunning, I thought it deserved a regal name. (I am a fiction writer, afte all.) Now you're sending me to Wiki.

Patry Francis said...

Just checked and added a link. I'm pretty convinced it was a Monarch--especially since there were a lot of them in the area.

Kay Cooke said...

I just love the photos you select for your posts.

I am a fan of hanging clothes out on the line too. And for many of the very same reasons as you do!

Anonymous said...

Hallo patry, regarding the banner.

Try this blog, "Blogger Tips and Tricks" at, you may find some info there

Anonymous said...

I love clotheslines, especially in warm weather (come winter, I'm really happy they invented dryers though).

I kept thinking about your bookclub idea last night and today. Then, again, tonight with this post. I so much want to join in! So even though my husband will roll his eyes, and then he'll say that he's entitled to buy a book, too (we'd made a 'no new book-buying' pact when I cut back my hours some, and have been limiting ourselves to the library, and
I have no idea if I'll be able to find the books at the library, [deep breath] I want to try and join in.
I think it's a great idea. I hope the library has it.

(Isn't it the time of year for Monarch's to migrate? That may be why you're seeing them now.)

Anonymous said...

I was once carefree enough to hang the laundry outside, like my grandma did. Now I'm too complicated--what if a bee climbs into a pocket? What if my pillowcase gets steeped in pollen?

God, I miss the old days.


Anonymous said...


Roberta Cantow, an old and good friend of mine, made a documentary called "Clotheslines," which is really wonderful and taps into some of the feelings/ideas you have here in your post--but goes further still. You can see a clip of it if you go to her website (see link below). Once at the site, go to the section called "sample clips" and you'll see Clotheslines at the bottom. The clip is only a couple minutes long.

Btw, I've collected my litter samples and will send you a photo soon.

Patry Francis said...

chiefbiscuit: Thanks for noticing the photos. I actually took a few pictures of my own towels and undies waving in the breeze (complete with cat) but this one was so much prettier. Meanwhile, I will think of you there in New Zealand hanging your clothes today when I go out with mine.

Could it be the start of yet another blog club? The Clothesline Sisterhood...maybe once a month we could all post photos of ourselves doing something that promotes conservation and connects us to the earth in some small way.

Oh god, somebody stop's the red pepper syndrome all over again.

ainelivia: Thank you! I'm going to try that today.

tinker: My husband and I have a similar (unspoken) agreement when it comes to books. If he gets one, I deserve one, too! And vice-versa. Good luck finding the book in the library; and if you end up buying it, maybe your husband could read it too? In any case, so happy you're on board!

Tish: LOL. All of your fears have happened on my clothesline--and then some. Right now I'm engaged in a battle of wills with a furry white centipede, the likes of which I've never seen before. It glommed onto one of my hand towels three days ago, and refuses to leave.

Patry Francis said...

susan: (x-posted) How fascinating! I'm off to check out your friend's documentary. Meanwhile, can't wait to see your litter! And if you want to write a little guest post to go with it, that would be great, too!

Fred Garber said...

When I left the house this morning at 7 am it was 41 degrees. My neighbor lady already had her clothesline full of sheets and clothes.

The Curmudgeon said...

We could feel the disapproval from the neighborhood when we put up our clotheslines... and, no, not in the front yard either.

It's too bad for them; we still use them -- but 41°? No, I think fred's neighbor has taken it to an extreme. There's a crisp, almost starchy feeling that line-dried clothes have -- frozen in place is not the same thing.

Left-handed Trees... said...

I will go ahead and jump into the "Half of a Yellow Sun"--even though I have books delivered to me every day and I'm always behind(book reviewer for a family mag, did I mention that?)...b/c these are not the kinds of books I usually get to review. So, yes...reading for enlightenment and discussion.

I LOVE the laundry on the line as well, though I admit I don't have one anymore. Maybe next year...

robin andrea said...

I think when we finish shingling the house, and we're definitely getting close, I'll ask Roger to put up a clothesline. There really isn't anything like feel of cloth when it has dried in the sun and wind. Nice reminder, Patry.

MB said...

You didn't mention my number one reason: they smell so good afterward!

Anonymous said...

If I did that, my clothes would have even MORE golden retriever fur all over them....

Patry Francis said...

fred: The only time my clothes are out at 7 a.m. are if I put them there the day before. Hats off to your neighbor!

curmudgeon: My mother encountered the same problem when she moved into her neighborhood. She still does a great imitation of one of her neighbors, as he complained in his elegant diction about the unpleasant sight of her "luawn-dry on the loyne." (Or something like that; I think you'd have to hear it.) And like you she continues to use the sun and wind to dry her clothes.

left-handed: I would so much love to hear your insights on this book! Yes!!!

robin andrea: In your climate, you could probably use the line year round.

mb: You are absolutely right! How did I ever forget that?

donna: That is one real advantage of the dryer. It removes the fur, hair and lint from black clothes. p.s. Love those goldens. We have a black lab mix & a jack russell.

Anonymous said...

Just a few of the reasons I don’t think it would be a good idea to hang my clothes out on a line:
--I wouldn’t want to see any phone lines catching fire with people calling the Homeowners Association.
--Sunny breezes leave clothes smelling fresh, but I’m guessing that the muddy dog prints of an animal whose greatest wish is to smell like essence of carcass would not. And that’s not even to mention the tug of war potential inherent in a nice stretchy sweater.
--Hanging clothes on the clothesline would cause the horror-chore that is laundry to involve even more hauling, time, and, well, time. And hauling. I’m aiming for less in these categories. Think disposable clothing. Think edible clothing. Think spray paint. Spray paint comes in textures now, you know. It could work.

It would, however, be fun to buy an assortment of humongous footy pajamas with the little backdoor panels and make a free-flowing privacy fence. Yep, I think that would get interesting in short order.

Though if I could be one of those white shirts right now, I think I would be. :~)

Thanks, Patry. You made it sound worth it for a minute there.

LOL. I didn't read through all the responses before I wrote this. I didn't even think of bees and other creepy-crawlies. Yikes.

Lorna said...

A. I want to book-club

B. hanging out the wash is a reminder to me of the time when I had no dryer, and either hung my clothes over the railings and bed fixtures to dry, or put them in a little red wagon, dressed up my kids and took them to the laundromat where they got to play with Bounce sheets---then it got worse. My soon-to-be-ex husband showed up in a pickup truck with a dryer in it---I just stared at it in horror every time I went past it, thinking he'd put an invisible chain around my ankle linking me to him and the dryer. Then it got worse, I found out he'd put the dryer on my Sears account. Then it got better; I honoured the dryer for its amazing ability to dry clothes and heat half the apartment, and I still love getting my warm, lavender-smelling clothes out of the dryer downstairs in the building laundry room ( in which I have no emotional reaction to the machines) and folding them before they get those tumbled-in-a-basket creases.

Patry Francis said...

robin: Still laughing here. Between you and Tish, I think you wrote a pretty damn good 10 reasons NOT to.... The time and the hauling did turn me into a dryer person for a while. But since I seem to do my best thinking while I'm hanging the clothes, I decided it wasn't such a waste after all. Those homeowner associations could make a pretty persuasive argument though.

lorna: A. Welcome, welcome to the book club. I'm going to have to tally up our members.

And B. You brought back a lot of memories with your laundry recollections. Bottom line: it got better for me, too.

Patry Francis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Zhoen said...

I used to help Aunt Evelyn hang out her laundry. I loved the feel of wet sheets slapping against my body in the cool air.

Melly said...

Patry, sorry to be straight to the point, but I seem to have lost your email (I'm pretty sure I had it at some point) and can't find it anywhere now.
Anyways, re banner. If you need hlep, email me:

Vickie said...

I stand corrected. My memory gets faulty with I do like your ideas though. I hadn't thought of Monarchs for years. We used to catch them as kids. I just don't see too many of them any more.

Patry Francis said...

zhoen: Aunt Evelyn sounds like my kind of woman.

melly: I'm emailing!

vickie: I'm glad you asked me about it, becuase it challenged me to look them up and learn something. Their migration is a wonder to behold.

rdl said...

I saw one yesterday day too. I have memories of you hanging your laundry while we yacked. :D

Anonymous said...

Me too! I love to hang clothes and see them flapping in the open air. You don't need fabric softener either! Clothesline are like folk art to me!

Patry Francis said...

r: That could be the 11th reason. It's a great time to yak (how do you spell that damn word anyway?) with friends.

colleen: And a prize winning reason # 12--it's a form of folk art!

Mary said...

One of the things I have promised myself when I move is an outdoor clothes line... maybe that is really my main reason for moving???

Beautiful photo Patry. Brought back memories ..

Patry Francis said...

Mary: I look forward to seeing photos of your clothesline once you get settled!

Anonymous said...

Yes, as your adorable link confirms (love that graphic so much!), a monarch is a butterfly, not a moth. It is one of a whole type of butterflies referred to as "fritillaries." Fritillary butterflies are those very large butterflies with the wings that look like Art Nouveau stained glass, in black, yellows and oranges. They are very, very fond of buddleia (butterfly bushes, aka summer lilacs). When I have grown buddleia, I have had them in my yard right up until the first serious frost came along each year and killed off all the blossoms; these flowers also attracted beautiful white moths at night.

As for doing laundry outside, when I was in my twenties, lived alone (but for the cats) and had no money, sometimes really not even a single quarter, I would wash my laundry in the bathtub using the cheapest dish detergent I could find (Crystal Octagon, lemon scent; I used it for shampoo, too, when I was poor enough). Then I would hang each garment (or sheet or towel) on a plastic hanger from the gutters of the converted garage I rented. It was a lot of work, but as long as it didn't rain on them, my clothing always smelled very nice -- and my house always looked ridiculous. A clothesline would have been a serious improvement.

herhimnbryn said...

Oh, this rings so true with me. To hang your washing out in the sun and breeze is one of the small joys of life! That is now I have the TIME to enjoy it and don't have to rush out to a 9-5 job etc.
In Australia, the sky is so blue, so high. The Magpies and Kookaburras warble and laugh. The Eucalypts smell divine and our Dog will always jump up and let me know when the washing machine has finished and 'WE' must hang the washing out!
And sun dried laundry just begs you to push your nose in it and inhale!

Anonymous said...

And not to forget the heavenly fragrance of the fresh air that lingers long after on the cottons and wools