The ironing

(179:  Wednesday morning at the board of ironing.)

My second favorite household chore is ironing.  My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.

~ Erma Bombeck

I’m not feeling well today.  I don’t think I can manage the heavy housework I ought to be doing, but I’m not unwell enough to spend the day in bed or curled up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, sipping tea, and reading a good book (as tempting as either option happens to be right now).

So I decided I will concentrate on the laundry.  For only two people, M and I manage to accumulate a lot of dirty laundry over a short period of  time.  Just when I think I have caught up with it, another load or two is brought down to the laundry room and somehow, when I’m not looking, it multiplies, breeding vast piles of shirts, socks, towels, and other assorted and sundry items.  I wish there was a way to neuter my laundry so it would stop doing that.

I buried a lot of my ironing in the backyard.

I’m eighteen years behind in my ironing.

~ Phyllis Diller

And then there is the ironing.

Ironing.  Ugh.  I’ve spent a lot of time and voice protesting the ironing.  When I put it on a to-do list, it usually starts as “contemplate the ironing.”  Sometimes contemplating is all I can do when it comes to the ironing.

I walk by, I contemplate, I turn away and find something else to do.

I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “I’d rather clean bathrooms than do the ironing.”  It’s not the truth, but when I say it I think it is the truth.  I put it off, put it off, and put it off.  Like Phyllis Diller, I want to bury the ironing in the backyard (except that digging the hole would be more work than actually doing the ironing!).

There eventually comes a time when I have to stop contemplating ironing and just do it.  That is when I wonder why I put it off.

Ironing is one of those chores that forces me to be here, now.  I can’t go wandering off into the past or the future.  Stress, anger, pain, sadness, happiness, joy, love… whatever I’m feeling at the time comes with me into the ironing.

And somehow, it’s transformed.  It becomes me ironing.  And that’s all.  It’s the scent of hot, steamed cotton.  The feel of the wet heat rising.  The wsssshing sound of the iron as it moves across the soft, hot material of the shirt, the hissing of the steam.  With my feet firmly planted on the floor, my arms and hands are in motion as one hand holds and positions the shirt and the other moves the iron.

Ironing brings me into the right now.  Into my body.  Into my senses.  Allowing my mind to wander off could mean a burnt article of clothing or a burnt hand or finger (something I know from experience).  The meditative quality of ironing permits my busy (monkey) mind to settle down and clear.  All worries effortlessly drift away when I reach the point of being truly present in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong.  Ironing is not about to become my new favorite hobby and I won’t be going into the ironing (or laundry) business.  Today’s appreciation is likely to be tomorrow’s procrastination.  But it is nice, every once in a while, to enjoy the work I do and to take the time to appreciate an aspect of the job I’ve chosen.

(Yesterday’s view of the pond at sunset.)