Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ode to my Iron

When I feel scattered, one of my favorite remedies is a combination of ironing clothes while listening to Bach. I think there have been studies of baroque music that "prove" it helps re-order the neural network. I might be making that up. However, it works for me. The precision of the notes and rhythms, the beauty of the melodies, always helps me come back into a place of relative balance. I love Mozart, too.

And yes, I love ironing. I don't expect many people to understand this. Watching the wrinkles disappear is pleasing. I like the sound of the steam, too. That shhhhhhh sound is soothing. It's not rocket science, doesn't require a monumental effort, though it's important to pay attention. It's a simple discipline, time honored. Afterwards, my linen shirts look like a million dollars.

For many years I had an iron I found on the street. It worked perfectly well or so I thought. But after I had to replace all my clothing last summer, I bought a new iron, a ritual offering to honor my brand new clothes. My iron isn't the fanciest, nor the nicest, but OH, what a difference! The new iron is a dream compared to the junk iron I used for so long. I love my iron!

There are a lot of people out there who no longer attend to household chores. Someone else cleans their houses, someone else cooks their meals, takes care of their kids, walks their dogs, does their gardening and ironing, too. I know folks are busy, but I think it's a shame. Tending to simple tasks is an excellent discipline and brings a lovely, personal energy into the home, also into the heart of the person doing the chores. Tending is a way of expressing gratitude for all the wonders and blessings of life.

In every fairy tale, the heroine is the one who does the housework. A mean stepmother makes her cook, clean and tend the fire while her sisters are couch potatoes and may I say, not very nice people. Sitting on the couch all day does not make these stepsisters any nicer. At the end of these tales, the heroine is - of course - much more competent than her sisters. She becomes strong and beautiful through the work, and it is she who ends up with the handsome prince.

Even those with ridiculously busy lives should carve out time to do something - cook a meal every now and then, or clean the bathroom, sweep the floor. I swear we as a society would be calmer if everyone picked up their own dirty socks, dusted the living room, polished the silver. Household chores are a meditation - or - they can be.

Getting ready for Indianapolis has me somewhat scattered, I'll admit. This morning, I decided to listen to Glenn Gould's Bach variations while ironing. It was a lot of fun. I even ironed my cloth napkins. I was really getting into it. Now my head feels clearer, free of wrinkles. This is a good thing.

Laugh at me if you want, I don't mind. Tell me there's a better way to spend a hot summer morning.

I love my iron.


MJM said...

This resonates! I was feeling weird last weekend, so I did a deep clean of my apartment. Full on, down on my hands and knees, scrub brush madness. Mostly, I thought it would be a great way to distract myself, but it really worked! I felt so much better afterward.

Enjoy your trip. I hope it's delightful!

Susan Carpenter Sims said...

I love this perspective on housework; I had never thought about fairy tale heroines that way, but you're so right.

I don't own anything much that needs ironing, but for me, it's washing dishes. I don't ever want a dishwasher.

Reya Mellicker said...

Clean house = clean mind, at least for me.

I'm not compulsive about it, though. You can always find pockets of dirt here. When things are neat and clean, I feel calmer. This is always a good thing.

Susan I used to love washing dishes by hand. I have a dishwasher and use it religiously. But I remember the meditation of dish washing. Soothing!

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks MJM - I'm looking forward to getting out of DC for a few days.

Linda Roberts said...

Ironing! I am with you all the way on this soothing activity (with a bit of a starch habit, to be completely honest). Bach de-frags my mind, too! Happy journey, happy return. Thank you for your thoughts - written and photographic.

Steve Reed said...

Household chores ARE a meditation. Have you heard of a book called "Sweeping Changes" by Gary Thorp? It's all about the Zen of household tasks. You would love it.

We were never an ironing family. I don't think my mom ironed a day in her life. I barely remember ever seeing an iron as a child. Consequently, I never iron now.

I do understand how erasing those wrinkles could be soothing, though. I used to find similar joy in mowing the lawn, making it smooth and uniform. And I still dig vacuuming.

Reya Mellicker said...

I love all those things, too, Steve. And shoveling snow as well.

Linda I'm afraid if I got into the starch there would be no coming back from it. I'm wisely avoiding it.

The Bug said...

My mother loved to iron. She would save it up & do it at night after we all went to bed. She'd watch movies & iron whatever she could get her hands on.

I rarely iron - I'm not very good at it (I often end up ironing wrinkles INTO the clothing instead of out of it). But I'm going to consider this business of housekeeping as a meditation. That just might transform my whole life!

nerima roberts said...

Reya, Before Mr7 came into my life, my Hubbs and I used to iron all our clothes. I remember that satisfying smell of ironing your clothes, and the zip of spray starch. We don't iron anymore. We're too damn tired. However, I find my Zen when I do the laundry. It's calming to fold all my clean clothes into neat piles.

I've been enjoying your floral pics everyday on FB. Thank you for posting them.

Vivian said...

i love to iron, house work and cooking! my kids think i am nuts

ellen abbott said...

I don't really own any clothing that needs to be ironed. Our maid taught me how to iron back when I was a young teen. my mother was a funny person in some ways. the maid was not there for us kids to order around or even make requests of. If I wanted something cooked for lunch or something ironed I was to do it myself. I think that was good in a way, the maid had chores to do and picking up after us kids wasn't on the list. Of course, my mother never ironed a thing in her life. But I agree with you. I think people would be a lot more connected to their lives if they tended to their own lives. no time for being bored when you have a list of things that need doing.

Rose ~ from Oz said...

I iron my linen napkins and anything else I can lay my hands on - crisp ironed pillow cases, bliss!
The very best thing about my new iron (which I love) is its ability to turn itself off after X amount of time if I forget to! Just love that....
And, I do my best thinking when ironing, many a perplexing problem has been solved under the iron.

Reya Mellicker said...

How cool. I am not alone!