Pursuing the poetical, paradoxical, metaphorical, lyrical, artistical, majestical, and mystical.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ironing the Wrinkles Out

Advertising couldn't convince mom we needed a toy ironing board and iron that wouldn't work. We couldn't afford to waste money on an Easy Bake Oven. We used her real tools of the trade. I'm thankful for this.

Mom had a huge pile of unending ironing. It was before permanent press and wrinkles don't go away when clothes are hung on a line. When she got the courage to face that mound, I loved watching her sprinkle each piece by flicking water with her hand, then rolling them up to keep the moisture in until she was ready to iron it. If the budget allowed her the luxury, a can of spray starch was sparingly used.



The best part was when the last piece was hung up in the door frame and she put the ironing board down to its lowest notch just right for my height. Dad's white hankies were mine to finish. If there was spray starch left for me to crisp them it was heaven. It was serious work. Important work. Loving work. It seemed necessary and I was chosen and entrusted with it. I found great pleasure in it.

I don't remember any catastrophes. I do remember hours of playing house with the real stuff of life.

When I want to take it down a notch and let my mind have a complete rest, I plug in the iron and pull out the ironing board. It feels like recess, not a chore. I find a pile of clean vintage napkins, aprons, or hankies, a hot iron, and a $1.89 bottle of spray starch. The spray starch still feels like an extravagance....



The wrinkles in my head are smoothed with each finished piece. My brain becomes more orderly as the stack of folded pieces gets higher. It's like my mind becomes a kaleidoscope of new visions and colorful thoughts. When I do this peaceful activity, it feels like I have the freedom, authority, and permission to rename things ~ like I could be chosen next time to give paint and crayons their colorful names.

10 comments:

Laurie said...

You stir them every time. Memories! As sweet as an ear of corn picked fresh, boiled slight, finished lavishly with butter, the real kind. Thank you -- I love you!

Anonymous said...

It stirs many happy memories of when you were little , my pile of ironing not so happy, It almost makes me want to iron a few things tomorrow to see if I remember. But that is how you girls learned to do tarts using my left over crust to roll and roll and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
Love
Mom

Anonymous said...

Oops, I know tarts and ironing do not go together, as you must realize I meant how children learn by doing what parents are doing.

Kathleen Overby said...

Mom, actually - tarts and ironing do go together. My creative and artful life endeavors got started with these small yet profound practicing moments.Thank you.

Louise Gallagher said...

What a beautiful post Kathleen.

I too loved to help my mom with the ironing -- and then, as play and friends and so many better things to do interferred, I resented having to do the ironing...

I actually broke my nose doing ironing.... fortunately, when the iron fell off the board with my head underneath it digging for laundry to press in the basket I'd placed in the wrong spot, it wasn't turned on!

I love your analogy of ironing out your thinking -- beautiful.

Susan said...

Ah yes... this brings back memories. I, too, was allowed to iron my dad's handkerchiefs. (He still using them, btw!)

Maureen said...

Lovely reminiscence, Kathleen.

I have to admit I do not iron unless absolutely necessarily. My dislike of the activity, I think, has to do with growing up in a very large family.

Kathleen Overby said...

Trust me, I don't like to iron clothes as much. In fact we do everything possible to keep from needing to. :) Thankful for permanent press and the fluff cycle and dryers.....

Grandma Pam said...

I loved ironing for my grandma - her hankies!! She had a silver 4 inch high container, with a rubber stopper.top with sprinkle holes in it. I can close my eyes and see it,feel it and smell it -- I can remember tipping it into my mouth for water! I so wish I had that "sprinker". When I iron andd spray starch fabric for quilts - my favorite thig is still the smell and the touch of the freshly starched fabric.

S. Etole said...

Ironing is becoming a lost art ... one which I very much enjoy.