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Pillow Cases

March 13, 2012

When you are putting on a clean pillow case …

do you hold the pillow under your chin and slide on the case?

Clench the pillow in your teeth?

Lay the pillow on the bed, sneak up and slide it on?


–Quiet down.  You don’t want to wake up the dust bunnies under the bed.  They are vicious and mean.  They attack bare toes mostly, but you don’t want to risk them getting angry do you?  Who knows what they would do then?  Shhh.  Come in here and sit down with me on the bed.  Help me fold this laundry so we can get out of here safely.  Hurry up.  The clothes won’t fold themselves.

Laundry day at my Mom’s home was any day.  She scrupulously avoided purchasing too many “lights” which would have required a special wash cycle by themselves.  She rather worked under the philosophy that just getting the laundry done and keeping caught up with it was more important than saving stacks of laundry in a hamper so that a whole day could be wasted on the chore later on, just for the sake of having enough “whites” to do.  The washing machine was her hamper, in essence; when the wash barrel was full, you added the soap and turned it to the ‘on’ position.

When we moved from the trailer home to the house, we discovered a light blue laundry basket on the floor of her closet, filled with lovely cotton shirts.  Period pieces, by the look of them.  The late 1960s as best we could tell.  Paisley patterns; plaids; polka dots.  The shirts came in three sizes:  hers, Dad’s and my older brother’s, all from when they were several years younger.  –Mom, what are all these shirts here in the basket?  –Oh, those, they are still being ironed and pressed.  –By who?  –Well, if they ever expect to get worn by us again, they had better be pressing themselves.  I am not doing it.  Trust me, the iron that was gifted to my mother at the time of her wedding will never wear out from over use.  Mom diligently bought shirts which were ‘permanent press’ just to escape the task of having to stand by her ironing board for hours to get foolish looking wrinkles out of shirts.  (I saw those shirts again when I was cleaning up a few things in January.  The rebellious shirts were at the bottom of a different closet this time.  They seemingly had not learned to press themselves yet, so I donated them to a local charity.  I hate defiant shirts.  It serves them right.  By now, they will be sold as ‘vintage’ clothing; one has to hope that they will behave better for their next unfortunate owner.)

Changing the bed on laundry day was serious business too.  Flip the mattress from time to time.  Spin it if necessary.  Pull out the clean sheets while the old ones washed.  –Come on now.  Smooth out those wrinkles in the fitted sheet.  No one wants to feel lumps under their feet all night for the next week.  Nice and smooth.  That’s it.  The top sheet and blankets got the same care.  At least for the first night of the new wash cycle, things were going to be nice and comfy.  –Grab a pillow case.  Hold it with one hand while you pick up the pillow with the other.  Tuck the pillow under your chin.  Hold down on it so it doesn’t slide.  Oops.  Flip the pillow around so that the tags will go in to the case first.  Who wants to feel the tags hanging out all week?  Now bring the pillow case up to the bottom of the pillow and let the pillow slide in.  Got a good start on it?  Shake it if you have to… That’s right.  It will slip right into position that way.  Good job.  Now just give the pillow a fluff or two and put it on the bed.

For years, after I had gone off to college, I missed laundry day at home.  No one likes to laundry; it’s even worse when you have to do it alone.  What I am saying is that I missed the time that Mom and I could spend together just doing some meaningless task that meant a great deal only when completed.  A sense of community and satisfaction.  In later years, when I was home on vacations, we’d sit on her bed together and chat and laugh as we folded clothes.  I could have stood bedside and things would have gone faster probably, but Mom’s arthritis was pretty bad then.  So, just like when we sat on the bed to avoid rogue dust bunnies, we would sit on her bed and chat up the events of the day.

As Mom jokingly chided me for being a bit too anal-retentive about the neatness in my house, where her’s had that “lived in look”, as she called it, I would remind her of all the lessons I had received.  How to make the bed just right.  How to fold the sheets just right.  How to fold towels just right, and hang clothes in the closet so that all the hangers faced the same direction—in case you had to grad and go in a fire.  I suggested that perhaps my freakishly neat home was in fact the by-product of being expected to do things ‘just right’ all the time.  The idea was of course resoundingly dismissed.  My “neat-nook tendencies” could not and should not be blamed on her.  She already took the blame for so many other issues that she wasn’t willing to let another be piled on to her plate.  We decided then that my being a neat-nook had to be related to how I got used to doing things while in college when time was at a premium.  If you never let things get messy, you never have to waste time cleaning it up.  I was already counting my night’s sleep in quarter hours:  “Wow!  I slept sixteen quarter hours last night.  I feel so lazy.”

It is hard to say what brings all this to mind today.  Laundry day is any day in my house, and the bed gets changed without exception on Wednesdays.  The machine was empty this morning and it’s Monday.  I guess I was just wishing for some more sit and chat time.  Give me a call the next time you are getting your laundry done.  Laundry day is always a good day for a laugh.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mindy permalink
    March 13, 2012 2:03 am

    What a great memory! I am not ashamed to admit, doing laundry is one of my favorite chores.

    Did your mom make the framed pillow case?

  2. Laurie Campbell McKinnis permalink
    March 13, 2012 3:03 am

    James I could read your stories all day long!! You make me feel like I’m right there in your house!! I hope things are going well for you! 🙂

  3. Monica Hale permalink
    March 24, 2012 3:15 pm

    I go to the laundromat. My stories are not so heart-warming: sexual acts performed in the bathroom (I should clarify–not by me), guy being chased by police running through and throwing drugs in the washer, guy taking pictures of a woman in lingerie posing provocatively against the dryer door (really classy!), homeless people washing in the sink, an so on. I don’t mind doing laundry; I just don’t like being involved in the freak show sometimes. Plus, most of my clothes come out with more stains than when they went in. Iron? I convince myself that people will think I got disheveled by the seat belt, from my backpack, or riding my bike; I’m sure I’m not fooling anyone.

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