Archive for September, 2007

Wash Day

Elizabeth has left a post about hanging out her laundry with which I whole-heartedly concur. I left a comment there, but I’ll post it here, too, in case there are other Crunchy Cons out there who think the sight and smell of hanging out the laundry to dry is worth the slight extra effort and time.

First, there’s nothing like the smell of line-dried laundry. No fabric softener on earth can duplicate it. Then, there’s a softness to all but the towels that also cannot be duplicated by any fabric softener. (And towels soften up amazingly if, as you take them off the line, you give them a couple of sharp slaps against your legs before folding them. Fluffs them out.) And the sight of clothes dancing on a clothesline in a freshening breeze practically screams HOME! You can almost smell the apple pie cooling in the kitchen. (For the record, I have never baked an apple pie in my life.)

OK, I can practically hear Mimi jumping up and down, shouting, “But what about RAIN?” (Mimi lives in the Pacific Northwest.) This was my chief comment to Elizabeth’s post. I told her to consider the addition of a “utility porch” somewhere on her house. I had one in the back of a house we rented in Massachusetts for two years. It was just heavenly. It was just a back porch with clotheslines strung across the ceiling from side to side — five of ’em, wrapped around hooks that had been screwed into the side supporting beams of the porch roof. Every morning, before leaving for work (I was working at the time), I would wash a load of laundry and hang it out to dry. And in the evening, I’d bring it in off the line, all fresh and soft. One year, it rained for an entire week in the spring, and I washed clothes every day. And every day, I’d bring them in, all fresh and soft — and dry.

My current house does not have a utility porch, and we’ve lived in it for 21 years. I keep toying with the idea. But there’s an awkward bulkhead (door to the cellar) that juts out from the middle of the back of the house, and I cannot design any way around it, short of a trap door — and I really don’t want to go there.

So, in the winter, I dry my “smalls” on racks in the kitchen, which moisturizes the air beautifully. And I take my sheets and towels to the laundromat and suffer with machine-dried laundry. Hanging out laundry in the fresh air is one of the few things I actually like about summer.

An aside here: Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard is not too far from our house. Submarines routinely come in for repair, and the crew are billeted with local families while the ship undergoes repair. One of my friends once hosted a young sailor from California for about six months. They all got along very well, and on his last night before reporting for sea duty, they took him out to a local lobster pound for dinner. As they sat around enjoying Maine “lobstah,” the young fellow thanked them profusely for their hospitality, then added: “There’s just one thing I’ve never understood. What is the significance of this local custom of hanging out clothes in the back yard?”


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My blog is worth $3,387.24.
How much is your blog worth?

Cribbed from s-p, whose blog, according to these yahoos, is worth nothing. I suspect that their monetary value is based on how often one blogs — s-p, having a real life (unlike yours truly), rarely blogs.

In other news, the visit with Father Costin went very well. We got the place tidied up sufficiently to look like civilized folk; he went from room to room, blessing the house (I didn’t open the door to the porch, which is still full of boxes that we are gradually throwing out, and I didn’t let him down into the basement — he just “threw some holy water down there,” as Jim requested), and then we all sat down to lunch. As he was blessing the food, I happened to glance over towards the corner, where I have a small sideboard, and spotted…

…six cans of Campbell’s Soup that Jim had put there and forgotten to put away.

So much for gracious living. 😉

Update to this post: I forgot to note that Father also blessed the outside of the house, something no priest had ever done before (probably because at the time of the usual house blessing, there’s about a foot of snow in the backyard). I wash a load of clothes every day, and on Thursday, I wash my “whites”; and since we don’t have a dryer, being Crunchy Cons, my laundry hangs in the back yard. So there’s Father, traipsing all around the house, including the back yard, and there’s my laundry, keeping time to “When Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord.” At least the underwear was decorously hidden behind the T-shirts.

We had a nice visit, and the food was good. And he left his Trebnik book here, so I guess that subconsciously, he wanted to come back. (But I brought it over to church the next day.)

I can’t help wondering what the nuns next door made of this guy in a black robe sprinkling water all over the place, including on their hedges…

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When my kids were little, they were big on Richard Scarry books. I can’t recall which of the many it was, but one of them featured a minor character named General Nuisance (I seem to recall him saying, “Won’t you please get up, Mr. Soldier?” at reveille. Yeah, right.)

Well, I have the feeling that General Nuisance is about to visit our house, only it isn’t really General Nuisance who’s coming — it’s mild-mannered little Father Costin, who’s coming to bless our house on Thursday. Nothing drastic, this is just his way of introducing himself to his parishioners and getting to know them better, and I think it’s very sweet of him to want to visit everybody outside of the normal visitation cycle at Epiphany.

Here’s the rub: Jim and I don’t do a lot of entertaining, so our really-very-small house gets cluttered easily. All it takes is one or two pieces of paper, and, “Oh, I’ll take care of this later,” and inside of 24 hours, the place looks like a bomb hit it. Now, I cannot clean around a mess — things have to be tidy before I can see the grime — so there’s also quite a bit of, well, grime around.

And Father C. has a reputation for being immaculate.

And Jim learned his cleaning skills in the military, where they did white-glove inspections once a week, and used to strip the floors and re-wax them on a weekly basis.

You see where this is going?!

I am very sure that my mild-mannered little priest would be horrified to think that he was causing so much Uproar in my house, but on the other hand, this is what happens when you get so busy with taking care of an old man’s affairs that you Let Things Go. The kitchen table is still cluttered with various kinds of paperwork, and I remember my in-laws’ house looking very much like ours does now, full of paperwork that they didn’t want to lose track of (these people have never heard of, hello, FILING PAPER?!?!?!), so I shouldn’t be surprised that their son has adopted their crummy habits.

So we will get our house in sufficient order that a civilized person can enter it and not run screaming to the Board of Health that he’s about to come down with MRSA as a result of having set foot in our house. And it will promptly get as cluttered and grotty as it was before we cleaned it.


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Yes, that’s himself over there, doing his Nathan Fillion imitation (for those of you familiar with the defunct Fox Channel TV show “Firefly”). He says that the one on his left is very left-wing, and the one on his right is into Wicca, and all the rest are married. But I love the look on his face, so this is my current favorite Chris photo.

That’s not what I’m blogging about, however. This note from him just came into my inbox:

BLET-backed bill would create rail expansion in New Hampshire

CLEVELAND, August 1 — The governor of New Hampshire signed a BLET-backed measure on July 27 that will help create railroad jobs and revitalize freight and passenger rail service in the state.

Governor Lynch’s signing of New Hampshire Senate Bill 75 at Nashua City Hall in Nashua, N.H., establishes the New Hampshire Rail Authority Board, which will make it easier for railroad companies to make inroads in New Hampshire while creating new job opportunities for BLET members.

Establishing viable railroads would help spur economic growth in the state, Governor Lynch said. Also, “It will help reduce congestion on our roads, improving public safety and reducing air pollution.”

The measure establishes a New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority that will have responsibility for developing and providing commuter rail and related rail transportation services in New Hampshire. The measure should help state lawmakers achieve a major rail transportation goal, which is the establishment of a high speed rail corridor between Boston and Montreal, via New Hampshire and Vermont.

According to William Remington, Legislative Representative of BLET Division 191 in Lunenburg, Mass., rail service in New Hampshire — with the exception of two Amtrak trains the Downeaster and Vermonter — is currently limited to tourist trains and a few shortline railroads.

“It was time for a change and we pushed for it,” said Remington, who is also 3rd Vice Chairman of the Massachusetts State Legislative Board.

The BLET, in conjunction with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, worked for months to secure passage of the measure through the New Hampshire legislature.

The Senate bill, SB-75 (New Hampshire Rail Authority Board), passed by a vote of 189-120 and was signed by Governor Lynch on July 27, 2007. It became effective the same day. The House bill, HB-311 (Committee to Review Liability Issues for Commuter Rail Operations), was passed by a vote of 17-0.

Also, as part of the bill, Governor Lynch will appoint three board members — with rail experience — to the Rail Transit Authority. Their job will be to seek funding and open corridors that would bring commuter rail into the state, while protecting the interest of existing communities.

Dan Lauzon, 1st Vice Chairman of the Massachusetts State Legislative Board, and Wayne Gagne, a member of BLET Division 57 (Boston), played key rolls in testifying and furthering the legislation. Brother Remington said that George Newman, Chairman of the Massachusetts State Legislative Board, and Mike Twombly, Springfield Terminal-Delaware & Hudson General Chairman, were also extremely supportive and continually lent assistance throughout the process.

Also playing a large role was Dennis Caza, a D.R.I.V.E. Field Representative from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and a member of Teamsters Local 633.

“It is a great experience working with Brother Caza and look forward in working with him and the Teamsters again,” Brother Remington said.

Brother Gagne also serves as Chairman of the New Hampshire Commuter Rail Advisory Committee. Brother Remington is the founder and first president of the New Hampshire Railroad Revitalization Association. He is also Legislative Representative of the New Hampshire Commuter Rail Advisory Committee and committee member of the New Hampshire Operation Life Saver.


Now, I have no idea what BLET is, and as you may be able to deduce from all the “Brother”s in this post, it’s from a union newsletter. However, this is great news for this household — not only does it mean that Chris might eventually be able to find work even a bit closer to home (though compared to Philly, Enfield is heaven), but also — we’ve been great fans of rail travel for a very long time. It worked for us as subway commuters in NYC, it worked for us whenever we wanted to go places in Germany, and it has worked for us ever since Amtrak’s Downeaster inaugurated service from Portland, ME to Boston, MA in 2000. Every time we travelled to Philly to visit Chris, we took the train, and it’s been a major annoyance not to be able to rely on mass transit to get places around NH.

I hope, I hope, I hope that is about to change.

Happy dancing in Rottenchester tonight!!

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As usual, I have been up to no good. This past Tuesday, the fall semester at the University started, and I am repeating third-year Russian, not because I failed it, but because I found this past summer that I was actually able to use it, and now I want to refine it. Also, as the Russians say, “Repetition is the mother of learning” (повторение мать учение).

Then, this past Thursday, my priest, his wife, two ladies from church, and I travelled to Boston to hear the Sretensky Monastery Choir. WHOA. The best way to describe it was that it was a completely Russian experience. I heard more Russian on Thursday night than I hear in a whole year of Russian classes. The music wasn’t all sacred — lots of folk songs — and after each and every one, either somebody would whistle, or this lady a couple of seats away from us would yell out, “Bravo, BRA-vo!” And the encore…well…they had translations for everything else they sang, but not the encore, so my Russian came in particular use then. Otherwise I would never have understood this:

“Russia was always holy, because it was always an Orthodox nation. Russia is holy, because it is an Orthodox nation. Holy Russia will always be an Orthodox nation!” Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Billy Graham!!

Finally, on a much lighter note, there’s this:

You Scored an A

You got 10/10 questions correct.

It’s pretty obvious that you don’t make basic grammatical errors.

If anything, you’re annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.

As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they’re only human.

And it’s humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.

Yep. That’s me. The Grammar Nazi. Now you know why it matters so much to me that I get Russian grammar right.

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