On Giants' Shoulders

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Strike Against "The Man"

Or at least that's sort of how I see it. Our propane bill suddenly skyrocketed this spring. When you couple that with the increased price of gasoline, the increased price of food... well, a lot of us who aren't oil barons or growers of corn destined for bio fuels are feeling the pinch. This weekend we struck back. My plea to my husband for a clothes line has finally been heard. I now have four beautiful lines hanging from a sturdy wooden frame in my back yard.

Now grant you this means I'm going to have to do some planning. I'm going to have to run several loads on one day (when I know the drying conditions will be good) rather than loads at the last minute. In short, I think I'm going to have to have a washday. It's going to mean carrying laundry baskets out the front door, across the side yard to the backyard (because we don't have a usable back door on the house at the moment (not until the back deck gets built anyway). However, WW's friends, just think about all the activity points I'll rack up carrying laundry baskets all those steps.

I used to have a clothes line when the kids were little (and didn't have a dryer). For years now I've had a dryer and no clothesline. I've missed my clothesline. I've missed the smell of air dried clothes. However, I've also gotten pretty spoiled at being able to dry stuff at the last minute and not having to use drying racks on rainy or wintery days. I've now got to haul the drying racks out of storage and up to the one room on the second floor where I can make space for them. The dryer is going to become something used rarely, not usually. I probably won't make some propane producer in Texas cry, nor will I cut into the profits of the local distributer very much. However, every little bit counts. One real advantage of line drying is that if something is stained, and it doesn't come out in the wash, said stain will no longer be set in by the heat of the dryer. As I recall, line dried clothing is a whole lot less apt to shrink as well. Now, if I can just avoid trapping wasps in anyone's pant legs, this whole thing may be really a boon to all (except the propane people).

My goodness, have I really become an apron wearing, sock knitting, wool spinning, bread baking, cloth dishtowel using, woman who has an actual washday? By, George, I think I have. I think I may be slowly turning into my grandmother, just in time to have grandbabies. (did I mention we're having a wedding this summer????). Now, I think I perhaps should take one more page from her book. Last week our new priest exhorted us to read through the Bible. I actually have done it (twice, if you count one whole time through the 66 book Protestant canon), but I think perhaps it's time to do it again. My Grammy and Grampa Lyon did it every year. I don't want to be exactly like my grandmother (we have very different tastes in reading for the most part, and I'd just as soon be a bit fitter than she was), however, her life teaches lessons about how to survive in economic hard times. I think I'm really ready to learn them.


At 2:58 PM, Blogger tibotmorfenoo said...


I can realte to this post. I too just put in a clothesline. I was anxious to use it so I did laundry this morning...just to give it a try. I had my clothes out drying all morning (after Mass)...only to have to rush to get it in before afternoon rains.

Last week I decided that it was time to take advantage of outside air to dry my cloths. I typically hung my shirts and pants on drying racks in my basement...but too much moisture in my basement - I had to get a clothesline. I cemented the post into a five gallon bucket and buried it on Friday. Seems to be holding up pretty well. What do you think the drying season will be...April through October? This is all sort of new to me...but I am loving it! My wife thinks it is hysterical...but I am having fun with it!

At 4:13 PM, Blogger Liz said...

My mother used to dry clothes outdoors in the winter at least some of the time, but she also had lines in the basment. When the kids were little we lived in a trailer with an addition built onto it. We had a wood stove in the addition and I used to dry my clothes in there on wooden racks. I'm sort of anticipating putting wooden racks in the computer room (or perhaps in my dd's now vacated bedroom -she's getting married soon). I figure that while I'll have to carry baskets upstairs, at least the dry clothes will all be near the bedrooms when they come off the racks.

Yes it's a bit of an adventure, but I'm so sick of feeling like there's nothing we can do to change things in this economy. It's one small blow for freedom.

At 4:53 AM, Blogger mom v many said...

Well, I have never line dried clothes.
My mother did it mostly but after I was about 3yrs old she stopped. We lived in Calif. and the odd part was how bad the clothes smelled if you left them outside. I didn't think about it until my oldest kids went to stay for 2 wks with their other grandparents.She told me she had washed all the clothes for the kids (only 4 back then) and re-packed them. I was very grateful until I opened up the suitcase. The smell from exhaust was so bad I ran to the bathroom to be sick! This was in the early to mid 80's.
It is an interesting thought but I would probably take it all to the laundrymat and get it done in an hour or so. (7 people in my house, lots to do!)Then I'd probably go get some ice cream! LOL!!!

At 5:56 AM, Blogger Liz said...

Oh, but line dried clothes here in Vermont don't smell of exhaust. They smell better than clothes that have been rinsed in fabric softener. There actually are some real benefits to line drying. First there's the financial savings and given how many "small" loads have been getting dried around here I actually bet it's going to be more than some people predict. Secondly, there is the reduction in green house gases that comes with using less energy. Third line drying is actually easier on the clothes themselves (where do you think all that dryer lint comes from). Fourth clothes come off the line without the wrinkles that the dryer sets in if you don't take the clothes out the instant it stops. Fifth there is the increase in physical activity associated with it. Now perhaps as a mom of many you're keeping physically busy enough that you don't need extra physical work, but it makes more sense to me to expend effort at housework than to expend it in "exercises." I've actually found that the sort of stuff that actually accomplishes something (mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, mopping floors) seems to burn more calories than the made up exercises. Sixth, hanging out clothes, like weeding, gives me moments for reflection. When the kids were little I actually composed poems (in my head) while hanging out clothes, and I can remember framing the argument to my husband about why we should homeschool our son while hanging out the laundry.

Anyway, it does make me feel as if I'm doing my part in this whole effort to fight back against our materialist, consumerist, media driven age. Oh, I forgot one more benefit, I'll save money by not buying fabric softener or softener sheets and I'll have one less container to recycle. I'm going to just use vinegar in the rinse water.

Fortunately, we don't live in one of those housing developments that have compacts where you aren't allowed to have a clothesline.

I'm not saying this is some romantic way of doing things, not at all. It's just that I've really been discovering that there are real benefits associated with some practices that modern Americans have abandoned (even while much of the rest of the world has not).

At 6:34 PM, Blogger Kitchen Madonna said...

A clothesline is on my list! I had one at my house in Birmingham: there were two poles with no line in between until after 9/11 when I plowed up my backyard. I figured if the neighbors were mad about the corn, it wouldn't too much more to string a clothesline!

I understand about "The Man," as in the industrial food complex Man. That's who I'm raging against or rather that is who I aim to best.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Liz said...

For me, "The Man" is not just the industrial food complex, but the whole corporate structure thing that has taken local jobs away, is making local farming more and more difficult, and is siphoning local money off to far off places instead of pouring it back into local jobs, local needs, etc. So, the less we use propane or electricity, the better (at least until all our electricity is local cow powered). The more I buy cornmeal that someone here grew the corn for, flour milled in the state, butter from local cows, milk and eggs from my friendly farmer the less I support the huge corporations that care nothing about local economies, local jobs, or individual people.

Of course the upside to all of this is that wool socks are warmer than synthetic ones, the eggs from pasture raised chickens taste better, raw milk has more nutritional value, and homemade food just plain tests better than the stuff cooked up in industrial kitchens. Plus there is creative satisfaction in spinning the wool and knitting the socks, in making the pickles or the bread. Slow food, slow clothing, even slow drying actually adds something to your life that merely going out and putting more on the credit card does not.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home