Good night John-boy

I have a real thing for Little Golden books and as a consequence have quite a few, from the opshop or the trash and treasure mostly. I found this one at the Coburg market a few Sundays ago and I nearly didn't buy it because although The Waltons was one of my favourite TV shows as a child, this book didn't come anywhere close to my memeory of it. Perhaps because it's in colour and I remember the Waltons in black and white, the show was in colour, but our TV wasn't.
The Waltons and the Birthday Present, by Jane Godfrey, Golden Press 1975

The story in the little golden book concerns a missing kitten. And wouldn't you know it, they have washing on the line. It was the Great Depresssion after all. As it's a Saturday, every one is at home and helps to look for the kitten. It's obviously a work day for Mrs Walton though, what with washing out. I thought Monday was wash day? Maybe, it isn't accurate. Maybe the washing is in the picture for effect. To make it look homey and domestic. Which it does.

Peg bags

Quite a while ago I wrote about my Mum and her peg bag. Now it has to be said, I'm not a peg bag user myself. I leave the pegs out on the line and they disintegrate in the weather and tend to get thrown in the garden when they break, which irritates G intensely. Despite this slacktitude (which must change), I find myself terribly drawn to the peg bag as a  domestic article. There's something about the crafting of this article to be used for an everyday, or at least frequent and repetitive, task that speaks of a quiet domestic pride. I know my Mum always makes her peg bags with thought and care, as did my Nan.
This peg bag is the work of Mamajules (found via tinyhappy). Julia is a UK textile artist with an interest in found and remembered articles. This peg bag is a pattern I have seen before, different from the one in my maternal family, but a very popular style I think. In her post about the peg bag, Julia writes that women remembered the peg bag as one of their very first sewing attempts, due to the ease of construction. And that women would embellish the bag, sometimes expressing their thoughts about the task for which it was to be used. Julia's peg bag contains excerpts from the stories from other women, and the text from a domestic manual on how to do the washing. The print has a faded look with oversewn text and stitching. Faded and with layers of meaning. As she says, "a simple metaphor I suppose for fading memories and fading clothes after continuous washes." 

There's something else I want to say and as I keep coming back to my unfinished post in the cracks of the day, this something else eludes me. Something about women's art and feminism and the domestic. The so called "new domesticity" has no appeal for me, there's nothing new about housework and the feminist in me resists the rebranding of the housewife, even if that's what I'd really like to be. Ah, that's where the rub in all this for me is, but I'll have to think some more about this later. There's a linen cupboard that needs to be sorted and bedding oranised for the guests from interstate who will be on our doorstep tommorrow evening after work.

But behold the peg bag, she is a beauty worthy of our admiration.  

Hanging out: a meme?

Cross posted at muppinstuff.

Every day I seem to read something new about how to save water, power, energy and thereby save our world from imminent catastrophe. But there's something that most people here in Australia still do, and that's hang our washing on the line to dry. I love the sight of nappies flapping in the wind and clothes on hangers drying into shape. Really, I do. (Not so keen about folding but that's another story). It's one of those household jobs that gets me out into the garden early in the day and then again just before dusk. Time to savour the sights and smells of the day. A simple task that stretches my body and gives me a moment to think and reflect, or to chat with my little helper.

Nappies at the end of the day, in the autumn light.

I know I have an inane obsession with all things laundry, but I loved reading Toni's beautiful ode to the joys of the washing line. It reminded me that despite my occasional whinging, I really do enjoy that part of our domestic routine. And I like watching the inbetweenness of washing on the line. The work of washing has been done and the task of folding and putting away is yet to come. I find something restful about that, even if I'm quite busy. Toni's also set up a Flickr group for lovers of the clothesline, Beautiful Clotheslines. And beautiful it is. I encourage you all to go on over and contribute, if that is your bent. Following on, Amy posted about resolving to use a clothesline. There is so much I take for granted here.

According to Project Laundry List, there are whole housing developments in the US where people are prohibited from erecting clotheslines or hanging their washing outside. Which I'm guessing is for aesthetic reasons. So many people use their dryer for every load of washing, even in summer. Imagine that, every load of washing. No sheets smelling of sunshine, no temporarily scratchy towells, no wistful sights of the washing across the back fence. Now Project Laundry List also promotes National Hanging Out Day on April 19. I'm not sure whether it has much of a following but it's a good idea I think, and I thought maybe us bloggers could do a beautiful laundry meme. So, this is what I thought. Post a picture of some washing on the line, or on a rack and write a little something about the good side of natural drying. (By the way, I'm not for one moment saying that there aren't times in one's lofe when a dryer isn't useful or totally justifiable, of course there are.) Anyway, the washing out to dry could be yours, it could be your mum's, it could be in a backyard, or on holiday or hanging from an apartment building balcony, it could even be a picture from a children's book. Let's celebrate the homey beauty of washing out to dry. Anyone up for it? 

I'm not going to tag, because it's not a tagging sort of meme I don't think. But I'd love to know if anyone decides to take it up. Because clean laundry on the line is beautiful.

Mulga Creek

Found this one today, flipping through one of Grace's books on the kitchen table. I was sure I'd checked this book before, but there it was on the second page. And for some reason, this scene with the clothes line in the background really appeals to me today. Maybe it's the relentless and cliched Australianess, even though it's not a Hills Hoist. Maybe there's a seasonal appeal. The first two pages, " Mulga creek is a peaceful town which lies between the two larger towns of Gumbrae and Wattletree Ridge. Each year it holds an Autumn Festival, to celebrate the harvest. "

Obviously there's no drought in Mulga Creek because it's all rather jolly.
from Welcome to Mulga Creek, Pam Sheldrake, illustrated by Jane Burrell, Dent Australia 1988

Sometimes out there in internetland, I feel as though Australia is backward and somewhat quaint. I mean it's still really common to use clothes lines here. Instead of dryers. Lots of people have dryers too, but I don't know anyone that always uses their dryer instead of the clothesline. Well maybe I do, but it is the norm that we hang our washing outside to dry, even in winter. Blessed (or cursed) with a sunny and reasonably dry climate probably helps. Most houses would have a clothes line, even if it's a fold out tucked down the side of the house so as not to interfere with the landscaping. And I don't think that there would be many (if any) housing estates that ban outdoor lines, although I imagine some blocks of flats might.

Not much else to say really, except that it is autumn and even if we're not having a harvest festival (not a good year in our garden, what with water restrictions and the heat), it just feels right with warm and golden colours. And check out the kangaroo delivering letters. Probably keeps them in his pouch.

the last day of summer, looking back

I forgot about this picture. It was taken a week or so ago, when we were in the backyard, hanging out washing in the afternon, sure it would dry by nightfall. Summer washing thoughts. Or at least G was hanging out the washing and I was lurking round the yard, in the sunlight, with my camera.

I didn't realise at the time that it was the last day of summer; that thought popped into my head yesterday as I found myself re-scheduling the days for doing the washing. And thinking, we really need to get back into the habit of starting the washing machine before breakfast and hanging it out first thing. So it will be dry by night. We've already had that thing where the washing is cold when you bring it in and you think, I really should air this. And then groan, thinking of the months ahead with washing in front of the heater and on coathangers on the rail in the doors, and going through the dryer of despair.

And...  I had to wear shoes today. I dislike wearing shoes and will wear sandals until May if I can. That's not to say that we couldn't have some more warm weather and even some more sandal or good drying weather before winter arrives. I mean it is Melbourne, so anything is possible really. Just that we probably can't count on it anymore. And we have to stop being such slackbutts. 

So here's to the end of summer. May it rain for months and months. Because even though I will whinge about it endlessly, it really would be a good thing if we had a really wet winter.