Holly Hobbie (and the need for more homemakers)

Denise Holly Ulinskas (born 1944) is an artist and writer. One who has captured the hearts of many. She goes by the name of Holly Hobbie. In the 1960’s American Greetings bought her paintings that were based off her own children and the charming life of New England in a previous time. The little girl who loved cats and was dressed in blue patchwork didn’t have a name but readers gave her the moniker of her artist, and Holly Hobbie was born.

When I was a child I had a copy of this darling book, Holly Hobbie’s Around the House Book. This book took ordinary household chores and made them beautiful. It gave a new life to homemaking.

Just recently I heard Michele Obama tell a group of children that they can all be lawyers and doctors and teachers! What about homemakers? Doesn’t anyone promote that anymore? Why not?

Even in the 1980’s I fielded questions about why my mother didn’t work. Never mind that there were five children at home. When we all moved out, I was surprised that she did not look for work. I, too, was a little brain washed from the latch-key era. Women are every bit as amazing as men (true), so women should be in the workforce! (Wait, what?)

Women can very nearly get by now in society if they are staying home with children (cost of childcare, etc.), but what happens when the kids move out? There are several housewives in my family tree. I grew up in an old fashioned family where my dad worked and my mom stayed home and tended to children, laundry, cooking, and supported and upheld the family system. There is great honor in that, even when the kids are gone.

I now spend my days quilting and painting, caring for animals, cleaning the house, doing laundry, bringing in wood, meal planning, cooking, growing and preserving food, making herbal remedies, and I probably should do more mending. My business card would read, Creator of Home.

A lot of people equate homemaking with laziness and I can tell you right now that a 9-5 job would be easier! In our society right now, we are collectively concerned about health, obesity, children with disease, lack of activity. We are concerned about where our children are, if they feel secure, and we are trying to raise children who will be ready to take on the role of adulthood. These are not always our own children because the children around us are all of ours. We are concerned about pollution. We are concerned about economics. The myth that it takes two incomes to survive is driven off of a need for things that were never important in a bygone era. Smart phones, cable television, subscriptions, gym memberships, restaurants, fancy gadgets, new clothes…new everything. Homemakers have always contributed some money; selling eggs, or crafts, or the like. A housewife is a powerful source of security in our society. If there were more housewives, we’d have better health, more economic security, happier and more active children, and a simpler life.

What Holly Hobbie did was create a world where folks could see the every day beauty and sacredness of domesticity. I have always carried that in my heart.

Thy Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbors Clothes Line (and how to make fabric softener sheets)

“Ooh, look at that one!” I exclaimed and pointed, my mouth slightly ajar. “I love that one.”

‘Tis true that our walks together over the past eighteen years have included gaping at properties we want, but we just bought our first bit of land this year so my husband replied, “That place is a mess! We just bought our own land!”

“No,” I pointed, “look at that clothes line!” I waved at it. My sign that I love it.

“In the spring,” Doug said.

I can’t wait! Oh, I know the wind has been gusting over 40 miles an hour the past few days and it is a balmy 26 degrees right now (minus windchill), and it is a strange time to be dreaming of clothes lines, but farmers and homesteaders live perpetually in the spring. I know just where I will put it.

This all began a very long time ago when our new (mind you- new) dryer crapped out on us again and smelled like it was going to catch fire. I rigged a makeshift rope across the yard to our very-nearby neighbor’s house in the suburbs. The next house didn’t have a dryer. The next house had the longest, oldest, sturdiest, most beautiful clothes line on the property. I even hand washed clothes on that property. The next one had a beautiful line as well. As did the friend we lived with complete with a buck who stayed near me while I hung clothes. (Rather enchanted place. I will be writing about that on my other blog OwlandWolf.home.blog.) We rigged a clothes line at the last house, but the new puppy pulled the clothes off and ate them. And here I am, in a lovely house- the nicest we’ve had- with a new dryer and longing for pins in my apron pocket. The smell of spring and soil and summer and sun upon the clothes as I hang them quietly in the fresh air, my eyes on the mountain ranges, listening to birds sing, and taking a moment to restore.

Work pre-electricity was a place of meditation, a time of prayer. Beading, sewing, washing, painting, farming, animal care, cooking, and hanging clothes were all ways of being in the moment. Mental health is associated with domestic chores.

In the meantime, I learned a rather good trick. In lieu of commercial fabric softener sheets, dampen a washcloth and sprinkle ten or so drops of lavender essential oil on it. Throw in with your clothes. It works great!

What are your laundry tricks?