Saturday, May 23, 2015

pillowcase talk

I may be alone in this but I have a particular fondness for old sheets, ones that have been washed so many times that their touch is like an instant return to the security of childhood. In those days sheets were washed, hung out on a line to dry, and often ironed before being put away in a cupboard to air. In fact, I learned to iron by practicing on pillowcases and my father's handkerchiefs. I'm not even sure anyone irons anything anymore, or at least not often and even then, probably not sheets and handkerchiefs. Not even me. But I do have some old sheets that I like a lot. A few days ago when I was making the bed I must have tugged a little too hard on the top sheet as I pulled it into place because, before I knew it, a large part of the top band had separated from the rest. Oh dear. While trying to imagine how I might fix that one I got another set of sheets from the cupboard. All went well until I shook one of the pillows into its case and the pillow bounded across the bed while I was left holding the band. Oops. Dammit. I hate it when that happens.

So it turned out to be time to go to the department store, one of those activities that hasn't been that much fun for me these past few/many years, but occasionally necessary. Happily, sheet buying hasn't become any more complicated than I remember - at least not at a still old-fashioned place like Sears. Of course, I could have purchased my sheets online and had them delivered too, but I'd rather see them first. Speaking of online purchasing, did you ever foresee the day you'd be asked to give the book, dvd, or widget you'd ordered a starred and/or written review? It seems this has become such an entertaining activity for bored (or broke) shoppers that there are number of people who have taken up reviewing as a hobby. Sometimes I wonder if the reason for this is that we like to have some input and, since we're more used to being known as consumers these days rather than citizens, it gives us a place to express our frustrations with the system.

Anyway, it's time I begin training two new sets of sheets. Maybe I'll iron them - if I can remember where I stored the iron.

ps: Some very good news I read yesterday is that the government of France has made it a law that all grocery stores must donate unsold food to charity. It's a start.


Tom said...

Ah! It never rains but it pours.......or to put it another way, rain is coming down in 'sheets'!

I agree with your response about donating unsold food to charity. Let us hope that the idea doesn't get kicked into the long grass, as other measures have. We can but hope.

Tom said...

I meant to ask, did you use salt to effect the background 'lift-out' from this wonderful picture, or some other technique?

susan said...

I wonder if there's a difference between rain in sheets and raining 'cats and dogs'?

Yes, I hope what with it being made a law that the food won't continue to be wasted. It amazes me just how much food is likely thrown away by shops.

susan said...

As a matter of fact, yes, I did use sea salt in the background, Tom, followed by some over-painting. The trickiest part was the spiral that had to be scrubbed of its purple layer. The interesting thing about painting in watercolor is in dealing with those situations where the whole thing could easily be lost. I'm glad you like it.

Should Fish More said...

Glad Tom asked the question, I wouldn't have phrased it as well. I found it interesting, almost 'tye-died' in some way.
Susan, I know exactly the feeling you describe...the sheets. That almost thread-bare feeling of smoothness.
It's now Spring here, I'm contemplating my last summer in Montana.

L'Adelaide said...

I laughed out loud at this one-
On "how to avoid huge ships" - The author says:
"I can't tell you how many times this book has saved my skin!"

I'm the same about my sheets and just had the same happen with the top hem ripping off. There was a lovely little hemstitch and it is no more tho I'm still using my sheet! Can't bear tossing it. After 12 yrs, it's just getting good!

Such a lovely painting. The color is gorgeous and she's beautiful ... I've missed seeing the style that is only yours. It's nice to see. Hope you found some great sheets without wanting to iron. I say no to that unless absolutely needed. I need a new iron that doesn't spit rusty water but am too cheap to buy a new one I rarely use. I still use my clothesline and couldn't be without one! We are of a different time, my dear!

Have a lovely Sunday including SUNSHINE!!

marja-leena said...

Lovely watercolour, Susan, and how interesting to learn that you use salt for that effect that I always admire in your pieces.

My mother ironed everything to perfection. She used the kitchen table with a melamine top, remember those? She would fold the sheets and tablecloths to use as a pad upon which she ironed the smaller stuff, even shirts with collars, so by the time she was done, the sheets were perfect. I do iron things like tablecloths and some garments for I prefer natural fibres when possible, but the hamper is always full as I never catch up :-) I love hanging sheets on the line for their fresh scent but that happens only in summer.

There are some stores in the Vancouver area that have unsold foods especially perishables, picked up and taken to food banks and services for homeless. I'm sure that's still a drop in the great waste bucket when you hear about about the waste in homes. Our mothers never wasted a leaf and made a lot of soup.

susan said...

Yes, Mike, I agree there's nothing as soft as a set of old sheets.

I hope it's a very long and beautiful summer.

susan said...

It's pretty cool that there are some places on the web where people indulge in humor contests. One of my favorites was under the 'Uranium Ore' when a reviewer said: "I left this product next to my pet lizard, unfortunately now he's 350ft tall now and is currently destroying Tokyo, Japan."

I know what you mean about wanting to keep your fine old sheet once its fine stitched top hem has gone. I did too but it wasn't going to work once the sheet was 5 inches shorter :) It's funny you should mention your old iron spitting rusty water. I wound up replacing one only to find out a circuit breaker in the kitchen had tripped. By then my old iron was deep in a dumpster.

I'm glad you like the painting. They seem to be taking much longer to appear these days.

But, yes, the sun shines!

susan said...

It's always nice to know you've enjoyed seeing one of my pictures, Marja-Leena. Salt effects can be next to impossible to control (and change the pH of the paper) so I prefer not to use it too often - usually just in those pictures that are painted fast.

I do remember a fine old kitchen table made with a formica top and chrome surround. I was sad when my mother decided to replace it with a wooden table and chairs. That was clever of your mother to use the sheets and tablecloths as padding for the other items she was to iron. We had an ironing board that was thickly covered by even older sheets. Remember they were always white and there were no fitted ones? Except for very rare times, or when I'm sewing, I don't iron much and dry clean even less. Natural fibres made into denim and khaki clothing, and knitted shirts seem to work pretty well for both of us.

I don't think I ever really paid attention to the sheer bulk of perishable food until we began shopping at a Whole Foods store in Portland - locally known there as Food Porn or Whole Paycheque. I don't know what they do with the extra food in stores here, but I do know we throw very little away. It's very sad to see stuff wasted.

clairesgarden said...

i used to like , when going away , to make up the bed and have it ready to get into on returning home, a nice comfort... but not so homely with new sheets I noticed. its always nice to wash and wear and get them good and homely again.

susan said...

That's a nice habit to have, Claire. There's nothing nicer after a journey than a return to one's own bed - especially one with clean well-worn sheets.

okjimm said...

I like sheets...especially three sheets to the wind. Or .... getting sheet-faced at the pub.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan
The longer life sheets (those with a higher tensile strength) used to be popular and I remember as a child that fresh clean smell of ironed sheets. So I guess there was a certain reassuring feel and it’s easy for me to conjure up in that image in the mind those days which conceivably might also be present in the mysterious thoughts of the one encapsulated in your lovely picture. Even so I would suggest some hotels still have all their linen ironed by industrial laundries or facilities in house. As you know you can buy the so called “fitted sheets” which are easy to iron and feel okay.
I was interested and surprised to read about that the laws to ensure waste food is donated to charity in France . I have often bought items severely marked down because their close to use by date. So there is little waste here in grocery stores as such items are quickly sold, just as is the case in large markets as store holders drop prices to ensure nothing is ever wasted.
Other agencies calling on grocery outlets snap up what’s left for either composting , recycling or redistributing for that now makes far more commercial sense for grocery outlets than having it all binned.
Best wishes

susan said...

When it come to plays on words I'm bedding you got not sham.

susan said...

Hi Lindsay
I think you're right that a number of hotels still make their beds with ironed sheets. There's something undeniably comfortable and soothing about them at the end of a long day. Yes, I do recall that long ago all sheets were flat (and white) - making them much easier to fold (and iron if you wanted).
It's good to hear there's a lot less food wasted in Australia than there is here and in many other countries. I can only think of one grocery store around here where they routinely sort out perishables to sell them cheaper.
I'm glad you enjoyed seeing the new painting.
All the best

okjimm said...

I can't play on words....the vowels are to sharp ...the pain becomes consonant.

susan said...

In other words, sentenced to syntax.