Ironing is a four letter word as far as I’m concerned. Had I a place to leave the ironing board up I might be more inclined to do it oftener, but half the time I don’t even know where the board is because there’s nowhere convenient to keep it. But starting Saturday I hauled out my old wooden ironing board and have been ironing the curtains and dresser scarves we have washed as we clean up for Spring. Ironing gives me a chance to ruminate.
Another thing I like is hand embroidered linens. I inherited pillowcases that my mother had done for her Hope Chest—do girls still have such a thing? No, they just register a Bed, Bath and Beyond and instead of things made by their mothers, aunties or their own hands, they have things sewn in China (and don’t attempt to get things properly monogrammed—I did and Latin letters and the order they should be in are beyond their understanding over there). The linens my mother decorated seventy years ago have been worn out for some time. When I was a stay at home mom in the 1970s I embroidered myself, but never as well as my mother. Now I rely on others, scavenging thrift stores, bazaars’, crafters’ malls and senior centers. I love embroidered pillowcases, tea towels, and dresser scarves even though I didn’t do the work myself and don’t know who did.
I don’t mean to stereotype, but I do believe that in general women seem to be better equipped to make a pleasant home. I would not go back to the bad old days when women could not vote or work and I know that they still are not paid on a parity with men, but I think we’ve lost something having so many women out of the home and I eagerly await the time when I can afford to do more around the house on a daily basis instead of throwing all of my energy into tasks on the weekends only.
As I’ve been ironing linens that someone used their talent and time to decorate with flowers and birds and crochet edging for I wonder about the life of each woman who did the work—her likes and dislikes, her hopes and dreams. As they worked they embroidered their lives and that of their families. It is sad that their work was cared for so little by those around her that it was relegated to a thrift store, but good for me. I am in the process of paring down my pile of books because I know very well that my children will not care two straws about them regardless of how much I do, but the linens I intend to wash and iron and love until like me, they wear out.