It's beginning to look a lot like winter, brrr

Today was the first really cold day of the season, the first day I hated being outside in the cold, the first day I wore a thermal top, the first day I slunk around the house thinking brrr it's cold and dark in here. So I put the heater on and stared out the sunroom window at the washing blowing in the wind. Instead of getting down to my sewing. Because it was too cold. I know I'm being a wuss, Melbourne really isn't that cold, it's just that our house is not exactly sun filled and doesn't have central heating. It's a really good spring and autumn house.

This house on the other hand looks cosy. The dog looks happy inside and there's obviously a little wooden stove going. And you can go skiing. I'd love to go cross country skiing again if ever I was fit or organised enough. And he has his washing hanging out under the house, in the cold, he obviously knows about sublimination. Or maybe he's a she, which would explain everything.
Illustration from Margaret Wise Brown's The Friendly Book, pictures by Garth Williams. Golden Press 1954.

I've been waiting for the cold weather to start before I used this picture. Most washing line illustrations feature sunny days, as if to say that's the only time washing gets done and hung out. Which we all know to be untrue. At least in these parts. We haven't started the inside drying shuffle in earnest yet but I can feel in my bones it won't be long. Sigh. The other day the nappies got soaked in the rain and sat out overnight, shining eerily in the nearly full moonlight against a sky that was almost orange with a mixture of cloud and city lights. I would have taken a picture, but it was too friggin cold. And wet. Which is definitely a good thing. Sighs again. Rain and cold in winter. Yep. Definitely a good thing.

windy winter washing

The last few days have been great drying weather. Dry, sunny, windy and not at all wet. Not even that cold. It's hard to believe that winter starts next week. People are still getting around in t-shirst annd skimpy tops. Sure, it's a bit nippy in the morning and at the end of the day, but we've barely even used our heater yet. So I find myself halfway between worry about whether winter will actually arrive and guiltily enjoying that it hasn't. I'm still trying to get the washing out first thing, which although it provides some lovely photo opportunities isn't really necessary yet.

The other morning I was playing around with my camera. I've finally gotten around to having a go with some of the manual settings, such as increasing the digital version of iso (film speed). It's great for capturing movement, but not so great in low light it seems. I quite like these. I don't think we'll be using many cloth nappies from now on. Grace is often insisting on the disposables and really, I'm not so committed to the cloth that I'm prepared to argue it. And our supply of the outer covers is dwindling fast and I'm avoiding getting more because it means a trip to Highpoint. Indeed I'd be happy to never scrape or fold another nappy ever again. That said, I'm glad we used cloth nappies. If we had another babe, I think I'd go for a modern fitted version of the cloth. Or at least a better version of the outer cover. 

We Help Mommy

More pictures of really helpful children. In one of the pictures not shown, Mommy looks like she is clenching her teeth. Daddy shows up at the end, sans the pipe that featured in nearly every page of We Help Daddy. I guess even in the seventies Daddies didn't smoke pipes while kissing the kids good night, also not shown.  However for your pleasure, here are three of the four laundry related pages in a twenty page picture book that is mostly about kids doing housework. Fun, fun, fun. And no, I am not being sarcastic (well maybe a tinch). 

We Help Mommy, byJean Cushman, pictures by Eloise Wilkin, Golden Press, 1980

Funny thing is, Grace loves helping with the housework. She wiped my desk this afternoon, and wipes up after doing cooking with me. Surprisingly well for a two year old, I might add. Yesterday, she held one end of the laundry basket as we moved from the bedrooms to the laundry, shrieking with laughter and totally involved in stopping to replace items that fell out. We've got her standing next to the sink and getting involved with the dishwashing. And she can nearly take out the compost by herself (although she did resist putting it in the right bay this morning). I'll miss being so involved with all that. Grace likes the Eloise Wilkin books for the bubbies and I guess they are pretty cute. Wouldn't mind seeing daddy doing some housework though. I wonder how Eloise managed, she apparently had three children and took ten years off work to raise them. Even if they were two years apart, she would have at some stage been the working mother of young children. And even if she had a studio at home, and even if she had home help, she was prolific and must have worked hard in her profession. In addition to countless Golden Books, she designed dolls and doll houses. But I don't think there's a book called, Mommy Goes to Work Today. Pity.

Putting away

I had a lovely day at home with Grace today. G was working and I revisted the time when Grace and I used to have whole chunks of the week just the two of us. Now, before I go all rosy and sentimental, it must be said that, just like back then, I was pretty pleased to have G home at the end of the day and to have a wee break from the intensity of a tired and hungry toddler. 

Wednesday is the major housework day here and of late, we've been doing it together. Obviously that's not going to work when I go back to work nearly full time in a couple of months. So it was good to re-visit how it feels to be the one at home. I am definitely going to need to work on being a bit more connected when I first come home. A challenge when your job has a high volume of intense interactions.

I've been thinking about this picture, and some like it, quite alot recently. It's from Baby Dear by Esther Wilkin, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin, a Little Golden Book, 1962. Eloise Wilkin has become one of my favourite Golden Book illustrators. I think she had quite a romantic old fashioned style and so far, in the books I've seen, gender roles are very traditional. Which is probably part of the attraction. Dare I say a fatal attraction?
I particularly like that she's captured the putting away of washing to illustrate. It all seems so calm and ordered. No speed folding. No cramming hastily folded clothes into inadequate hanging shelves with your two year old assistant just as intent on pulling more clothes out.  This child of course has a baby sister to cuddle, while her doll lies on the floor. A lot of this book is about the little girl mothering her doll as her mother looks after a new baby. Apart from the one scene where mummy and daddy arrive home with the new baby, it is just mummy, little girl and baby. Calm and ordered, but maybe also a little lonely? 

yet more bitching about the folding

We did a very big wash on Friday. Which my mum helped me hang out before we went to see Betty in hospital. With direction from me as to what sections of the line to hang the various bits of washing in. To make bringing it in easier, so I have a layered basket that I don't have to sort before I fold. Mind you, G hung the nappies wherever he could find the space which meant that in order to maintain my compulsive stratification of the washing basket some running sround the line in the first part of the bringing in was necessary. Interupted by calls to come and inspect and consult on his latest project, the restoration of my mum's childhood dollshouse. I am so in demand.
As I slept in this morning and there was shopping to be done, and I needed a walk, this mountain was still staring me in the face at 6.20pm. The chances of getting through it in time to watch Gardening Australia at 6.30pm were slim, even with the assistance of my little helper. So I listened on the big sound and folded fast. Remembering holidays in Port Moresby when I was at high school and the clean washing would arrive from the laundry underneath the house to be placed in neat folded piles on our beds. How my mother must have loved having household staff. Even if there was something dodgy about it. Not that it's bad to pay others to do your housework. I'm thinking more about class, race and issues of post colonialism. About a town where working for an expat could mean sending your child to school and having somewhere to live. 

I suggested to G that we abandoned folding as a task and just kept our clothing in big baskets. He thought that was a great idea. But the idea of not having matching socks or have having to fold a nappy and deal with a writhing poopy two year old is just too much to bear. I like my washing folded and put away. It makes me feel in control of things when it's done. I'm wondering how long before Grace will be able to take over?

Oh I know, probably not until she's all grown up and ready to leave home. Sigh.

Let go and breathe

So, I come back from a lovely weekend away and the washing I took off the line on Thursday night is still on the sunroom table. Under the piles of washing that have come off the line since. I'm supposed to be feeding the child because I haven't really her seen her since Friday lunch time except for at breakfast today and a quick snatched cuddle when I got home. But I can't relax. I'm wearing the tension of an understaffed and busy day at work. I've been snarled at, argued with, buttered up and ignored. So I snap, you know doing the washing is only the first half of the job, I say. And if you don't sort it when it comes off the line, it lies around with wet patches and has to be washed again. You have to keep on top of it, keep moving it through, fold every day. He says, but nobody ever taught me how to do the folding, you're better at it than I am. I say, well, I'm telling you now.

I'm flying, I'm multitasking and I'm mad. I really need to breathe.
You see, he's done well. Grace is happy. The house isn't wrecked. I got to go away relatively guilt free and I had a lovely time. Lots of time to talk and think and crochet on the couch. There was very little domestic activity on my part. Just one meal and one set of dishes. And an empty clothes line, with pegs casting shadows in the pale morning sun. 

But the folding gets me every time. I planned to do it before I went, but the day just ran out of hours. So I left it. Hoping that it would be done and dusted on my return. Maybe next time?