Sunday, November 7, 2010

Outdoor Clotheslines - a Green Technology

(photo - my mother in 1948 at her backyard clothesline)
Back in the 1950s, when I was a child, women washed the family laundry once a week and hung the wash out on a clothesline so Mother Nature could dry and bleach the clothing, imparting a fragrance that's difficult to describe but unforgettable. I'm reminded of Ray Bradbury's description of dandelion wine - "Dandelion Wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered." Bed sheets hung on the line all day in the sun, then gathered in my arms as brightness changed to twilight offered an irresistable urge to bury my nose in the sheets and inhale deeply - "sunlight caught and stoppered." Later that night when I crawled between fresh sheets and lay my head on the clean pillowcase that wonderful fragrance wafted up to my nostrils and sparked my imagination with its suggestion of wind and weather, sun and butterflies, clouds and rain. Like camping without the bugs and chill.

(photo - me in Hallstadt, Germany at the rooftop clothesline)
My mother taught me her notion of clothesline etiquette - hang all the sheets together, then the towels, then the washcloths, a kind of visual symmetry to let the neighbors know you take pride in your laundry. And hang your underwear on the inside lines, hidden from view by the sheets on one line and the blue jeans and dungarees on the other outside line. And to get the most from your clothes pins, overlap the edges of the clothes so that three pins will do the work of four.

(photo - my clothesline in Colorado circa 1973 - long gone.)

It's no longer necessary to hang laundry outside since the advent of the clothes dryer found in every laundry room in America., including laundromats scattered throughout most towns for college students and renters. And the fabrics we use now are wrinkle-free if tossed in a dryer making the iron and ironing board almost obsolete. In fact, hanging your laundry out on a line is considered "tacky." I have to wonder if promoting it as "green technology" or "solar clothes dryer" would bring back the practice, but probably not. Not many would think the inconvenience of hauling a basket of wet laundry out to the yard to hang it piece by piece from a line then return later to take it all down and bring it back to the house would be offset by the sensory pleasure of burying one's nose in the clothes to inhale that wonderful smell of captured sunshine.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Martie and her handmade socks

(photo: Pam Russell and Martie Anderson 2010)

Martie Anderson has been and done a lot of interesting things in her life so don't think for a minute that knitting socks tells her whole story. A Southern California girl of German ancestry, Martie married a Navy SEAL officer and raised four lovely children

on their ranch before even thinking about knitting her first pair of socks. The daughter of a professional baker Martie is known far and wide for her delicious pies made daily in her modern kitchen outfitted with a huge marble slab baking surface. Nowadays she still ranches with her husband, is very active in their community, and is grandmother to eight lively children, yet she finds the time and energy to create these wonderful handmade wool socks that she generously and lovingly presents as gifts to her many friends and extended family.

I have been the fortunate recipient of at least five pair of these beauties and can testify to their comfort, good looks, and perfect fit. I believe Martie made her first pair of socks in 2005 for her husband, Franklin, and to date has created approximately 100 pairs, earning her the beloved title of the "Sock Queen of Allison " in La Plata County, Colorado.

Martie's socks have found homes in places far away like Germany where they warm the feet of cousins, granddaughters, and friends. Quite a few pair have traveled the length of California and ventured up into Washington and Oregon. I just found out that Martie's socks made it up to Montreal, Canada, where Hanna appreciated their warmth and comfort.

Martie has a real knack for matching patterns in her socks, not an easy thing to do. She's always ready to teach her skill and techniques to anyone interested in learning to knit and shares her own experiences in trying new yarns. My favorite is the hand-dyed silk/bamboo/wool yarn that Martie buys from her neighbor

Martie has explained to me that she keeps several pair of socks in the works rather than knitting them one-at-a-time because there are times she can concentrate on the intricacies of making the heel gusset or toe shaping but there are other times when she is multi-tasking and simply wants to repeat the K1, P1 rows in a cuff while attending a meeting or waiting in the doctor's office for her husband.

Martie recommends knitting socks to anyone of any age who wants to create wearable art.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sign Art by Pete and Cathy

My longtime friends Pete and Cathy Safiran in Shipshewana, Indiana make colorful, fanciful signs using old license plates and the resulting signs are works of art. They will create custom signs like these two they made for me, "Stagestop 58" which is my ebay ID, and "Mike's Shop" which was a gift to my brother for his workroom, but most of their creations spring from their imaginations and are designed to appeal to a broad market. Before Mr. Obama was elected president they sold a lot of "Hope" and "Change" signs. And there are some cut into the shape of a state with individual plates designating the counties. They market these beauties in several ways: some are placed in retail outlets and art stores, others consigned to upscale shops in the Chicago area, and always for sale at Pete and Cathy's Flea Market booths in Shipshewana, IN and Kane County, IL. Just this month (October 5, 2010) one of their signs was featured in the Chicago Tribune in an article about Andersonville, IL.

They make great gifts and Christmas will be here soon so if you want to order one (or many) of these wonderful signs email Cathy Safiran.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pie Cozy

About 25 years ago a good friend of mine, Carol West, gave me a pie cozy. Carol was a beautician at that time and each Christmas her ladies brought in gifts for their favorite hairdresser. From one of these sweet ladies Carol received a pretty little pie cozy and she gave it to me because I make pies and sometimes take them to parties. I had never seen a pie cozy and immediately loved it. I found another one months later at a thrift shop but it wasn't as pretty as the one Carol gave me. A couple years later my stepmom wrote to say that her sister-in-law was making crafts to sell and sent me a couple of those shelf-sitter wooden toys often found at craft sales. I responded by sending my stepmom my pie cozies on loan so that her sister-in-law could make patterns from them and create new cozies to sell with her other crafts. I sent a letter in the package asking for the cozies back when they were finished making patterns. Years went by. A couple of times I asked about the cozies but never got a response to my question so I decided to drop the subject rather than hurt someone's feelings. My stepmom died last year and when I visited her brother and sister a few months later they gave me the cozies, still in the box I mailed them in and with my letter requesting their return right on top. I was thrilled to get them back and am using them both in my kitchen again.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bumper Crop of Apples

It's autumn here with cool nights and leaves falling from the trees but autumn isn't all about death and dying as some of my friends think. The apple trees are loaded with beautiful red, green and yellow apples, relatively worm free this year despite the fact we don't spray. The biggest, oldest apple tree bears pie apples, those not-too-juicy yellow apples that cook up in a pie without making it watery. Three younger trees bear eating apples, one jonagold, one winesap, and one whose type I can't recall. The seckel pear tree has an ample crop too despite it's age, close to 100 years. A cider press or root cellar would be useful right now but without those options for saving the bounty we'll eat what we can, make a few pies, and feed some to the horses.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Took Down the Genealogy Stuff

After years of having lots and lots of genealogy information about my family on a website, complete with photographs, I've taken most of it down. It's about privacy and safety. We've all heard the stories about identity theft and stalkers, and God only knows what other ways that "bad guys" can use our personal information. With surnames like Smith and Russell I don't concern myself too much with strict privacy but when you have a last name that is unique, shared by only a dozen or fewer people in the world, you (meaning me) should think twice about putting it out there and telling the world all you know about it. Sheesh! Why didn't I think about that years ago? What was it Woody Allen once said, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you?"
So, this is now my main blog, my sounding board. Genealogy is just one of my interests and I'm not giving it up, just not being so public about it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Grandsons With Asthma

I have three grandchildren, two of them boys and both with asthma. I find that strange since no one else in our family has asthma, that I know of. And we have cats, several cats who live in the house. Both grandsons and their dad are allergic to our cats, and therein lies our dilemma. We love our cats and enjoy living with them but don't like the fact that our home is toxic to those we love. So we are looking into air purifiers, taking up the carpet in the only room in the house with carpet, and replacing a couch that has become our cats' favorite roosting place. And I must be more dilligent with my vacuuming and dusting. Housekeeping has never been very important to me and to say I'm a casual house cleaner is putting it nicely but I really must try harder to keep my house as free of dust and cat dander as possible.

Getting Started in 2010

I've decided I need another blog. My genealogy blogs at and are fine as far as they go but I have other interests than genealogy. There's quilting, for example. I love old quilts, love buying them, sleeping under them, photographing them, and imagining who designed and sewed them. And there's photography - not so much taking photographs but using them after they've been created to make calendars or collages. Mostly I love old family photographs. And there's gardening, grandchildren, reading, and so much more. So, here goes.