12 November 2007


My simple life is changing all the time, just like any healthy process, it's not stagnant. I try to improve what I do so that I get the best results for the time and effort I put in and I'm always thinking about ways to make the more mundane chores pleasant and satisfying.

Ironing has always been a problem for me. I think it stems from when I was a nursing sister. That was way back in the days when nurses wore crisp starched white aprons that crossed over at the back, over a slightly less starched blue uniform. Cuff and collars were almost solid, it always amazed me how stiff they were, and they were attached with removable buttons. All this was held together with a belt that even though it was cotton, was starched to resemble a thin slice of steel. Naturally there were thick black stockings and big clumpy, sensible, lace up shoes. My cap, and later my veil, held enough starch to sink a ship and they were bobby pinned to my head so that movement was almost impossible. I loved that uniform. LOL It's hard to understand why because it was uncomfortable and it took a lot of time to dress, but it symbolised to me and to my patients the long line of tender care I was a part of. But that is totally off the subject.

That uniform was washed, starched and ironed for me. Each week when I picked up my laundry, it was neatly folded and the bundles firmly held with string. When I got those aprons out, they could stand upright without my help. That starch was a powerful force. ; ) I think that level of washing, starching and ironing excellence spoiled me for anything less. I didn't like ironing at all because I didn't use starch and my ironing was always floppy.

Each week when I ironed I tried to make it just another part of a pleasant day. It didn't work. I tried various things, like turning on the TV and listening to the radio, they made no difference. Yesterday I hit the jackpot. I ironed and I enjoyed it.

I think the two key elements to my success where silence and mindfulness. Why didn't I already know this! I decided on silence because I was thinking about something. I was being interviewed by email and I wanted to think about my answers as I ironed. Yes, not being mindful, I know, but let me continue. As I thought about this interview, things fell into place and I was happy with my answers. I continued on with the ironing, still in silence, and started to notice the ironing more. I thought about the clothes, how I would wear them at work, there was a button missing on Hanno's shirt so I got a needle and thread and repaired it while I stood at the ironing board. Each piece of clothing was checked to make sure it was in good repair, ironed and added to a bundle or hung on a hanger. It felt right working bit by bit through the basket, sorting, repairing, ironing and placing items into their own bundle.

When the ironing was finished, I took my bundles to their rightful places. Dishcloths were placed on the kitchen window sill in a wire basket, napkins were folded and placed on the kitchen bench for another week of home cooking. Pillow slips and a table cloth were folded and placed in the linen cupboard. Skirts, dresses, pants and shirts were hung back in our wardrobes. The process of doing this simple task gave me a lot of satisfaction. It was the payoff for the ironing. All items returned, clean and fresh, to their rightful places; order was restored. It felt good. I hope it works again next week. ; )



  1. That is why I pay the extra money for wrinkle free shirts for work. Any time saver in my hectic life is welcomed.

    I dont mind the occasional ironing or dishwashing by hand. It brings me full circle, as a way to remind myself of what I want my life to be.

  2. Oh yes, that way of ironing makes the task so much more enjoyable. I love to care for my husbands shirts and think of how god he is when I iron them. I also love to put everything back clean and pressed.

  3. Hmm... This may be telling, but I wonder -- why iron? It's something I've never been able to get into -- and things often turn out with more wrinkles ironed in than out. So I put things away straight off the line. And get this, one of my pet peeves is -- you guessed it -- wrinkles!

    Anyway, stopped by to check earlier comments and thank you for permission. Thank you.:-)

  4. Oh, and I forgot to mention -- I have a huge admiration for nurses and the job they do. Thank you for that too!

    Just had a discussion about it with someone, in fact!

  5. Thanks Rhonda, your post brought back fond memories. There was something about my nurses uniform and getting them laundered and picking them up so perfectly folded in string. The ladies in the laundry were like our mothers and I think as young nurses who were in a sense expected to mother or care for so many others the laundry ladies were our little support.They would measure us and do all readjustments to our uniforms and ensure that no petticoat (compulsory) would show and that the length of the uniform was a precise length above the knee. They even seemed to know our names and of course, as nurses we were addressed by our surname. I got to experience the starched cap and then travelled along the upheavals in nursing of designing and co-ordinating what we would wear as nurses. I do as little ironing as possible and not fussed if my clothes are crinkled for home use. I never have used starch or sprays, never liked chemicals. Bella

  6. Oh yes I recall many school holidays starching doiles, tablecloths and aprons with my mum and grandma and it was a special treat in those days even though my mum worked full time! I actually never mind ironing once I start and find its my thinking time too. When at uni I used to iron when I was stumped for my next essay paragraph and voila, it would soon formulate, make sense and be just what the Dr ordered! Now I often end up writing lists and planning gift ideas! Strange how the mind ticks! I also get a lot of satisfaction seeing the full basket formulate into neat piles ready to be put away! Sometimes I even pray for the person who wears the article of clothing as I go along and it makes it more personal to me. Let's be thankful we even have items to wash, wear and use! No matter how old or new they are! Lynette from Adelaide

  7. Love the insight into nurses uniforms from years past. My hubby was a policeman for 30 years, I remember trying to get the sleeves with a nice crisp crease, but the rotten badges and stripes used to muck it up a bit ! Rhonda, while you are in an ironing mood, lucky I live a long way away, or you might find yourself with my ironing basket left at your door LOL !!!

  8. nice try Rhonda! I'm a non-reconstructed ironing hater...lol x

  9. I hope I misread this, you iron your dishcloths?? Why??
    It does bring back memories of my Mum teaching me to iron using tea towels. She still irons tea towels, I'll never understand why.
    I quite enjoy ironing, it is like a metaphor for ironing the wrinkles out of your life. It gives me a valid reason to just stand still ponder on things.

  10. Hi Rhonda Jean :) What a delightful post! I love the snippets of the adventures of your past that you tuck in sometimes. It is a joy to read of your working to enjoy the many parts of your life. That is a great encouragement!

    I have always loved to iron. My sweet mother taught me, and it was something she enjoyed - so I guess her enthusiasm was passed along, too. Have a lovely week! Love, Q

    By the way, your precious Rosie is adorable!! She has such a cutie face :)

  11. If I was to bother ironing routinely then I think I would iron every tea towel and dishcloth in sight too. I think they would certainly stack together much more neatly if I did this, compared to the present site.

    I've reached a stage of almost non-ironing perfection, virtually out of need (small children and a husband working away mean too little time). I constantly adjust the spin speed of my washing machine to the weather outside that day so that I can achieve the least wrinkles possible in my dry washing! As you well know Rhonda, in north Qld clothes dry TOO quickly, and crunchy too. So I try to get them to dry slowly by hanging them out wetter (lower spin speed) so that the weight helps reduce the wrinkles ;-) I'm trying to perfect the art of pegginig too so that I can minimise peg marks and clothes drying at funny angles due to being hung out in an odd way.

    I would happily do anyone else's ironing but I have never been keen to do my own. It's an odd phenomenon!

  12. I used to loath ironing. Before my husband and I were married he already knew that I didn't iron. He daily must wear casual slacks and a button up shirt so this paved the way for much ironing. Last year I became convicted about this issue. I wondered why I disliked it so much. I felt saddened by the fact that my husband works hard so I can keep house and yet I wouldn't iron?

    Over the last year I have ironed continually...normally once a week but as of late have been doing it more frequently. About 4 weeks ago as I was ironing my attitude was different. It wasn't as though I had set out to enjoy ironing, I just suddenly did. Each shirt that I placed on a hanger made me smile. I found myself thankful for these shirts and pants of not only my husband but also my sons. You see, they belonged to those that I love. Each article of clothing, each napkin that I ironed continue to bring satisfaction, comfort, joy and peace for while I am ironing I rest in the knowledge that I have others that fill my heart so completely.

  13. Rhonda-the differences in uniforms between your day and what my daughter wears is amazing. She is finishing up her BS in Nursing and the uniform she wears is wash and wear-never ironed. She just throws on a top and pants and wears her Berks or Crocs. I can't believe how sloppy these new uniforms look. They are easy to take care of- but,they only last about 6 months and after a wash or two they already look ratty! Times change, sometimes not for the better. BTW Rosie is a cutie! Sharon

  14. Tonight I set up my ironing board so I could press all the seams before I sew my apron for the swap. I thought of your post as I ironed and I realised as I stood there that I too like Lynette use it as thinking time. It is amazing the thoughts that passed through my head and the planning I did for the week ahead. I am looking forward to sewing my apron later in the week.

  15. "As you well know Rhonda, in north Qld clothes dry TOO quickly, and crunchy too. So I try to get them to dry slowly by hanging them out wetter (lower spin speed) so that the weight helps reduce the wrinkles ;-)"

    Clipped from Deborah! Ah, now I see... (the reason for needed ironing!) I never would have thought of this -- I live in a much different sort of climate where sometimes it may take a day or more for clothes to dry on the line inside.

    Learn something new everyday!

  16. Being mindful...reminds me of how the Amish view their tasks (I'm not Amish but my extended family are Amish and Mennonite on my Mother's side). There is nothing that is unimportant. Their thoughts aren't rushing all around a zillion places but are right there caring for each task. I struggle with the hurry, hurry always thinking of the next thing. It helps me to remember to offer each moment to God - but sometimes I even forget to do that! :-)

  17. I loved the nurse uniform description. I find those details so interesting. I'm not a huge ironing fan, usually end up putting on a dvd, I don't have a great deal of ironing to do usually.
    Did you try the chili? What's your version of Chili?

  18. there are certain things i LOVE to iron....our napkins, pillow cases, danny's and the boys dress shirts.
    the pillow cases, after i iron them, feel positively luxurious to me, the napkins just look pretty, and ironing the dress shirts makes me feel that i'm doing something special for my menfolk.
    i cannot imagine what life was like, though, for my mother and grandmother in the days before perma press fabrics! eek! i would have to set aside two entire days, just to iron our duds!

  19. Well, this was never a problem for me. Ironing happens to be one of my favorite household tasks. Now, if only I could find something to help me enjoy washing the dishes... ;)

  20. I'm with you, Anna - I could iron all day long but can put off doing dishes until...well, TOO long! LOL!! I don't iron hardly anything these day, & I miss it. I remember learning to iron with the 'flat things' - pillowcases, napkins, my Dad's hankies...

    Nowadays, when I think I might want to iron something, I start thinking about the electricity I will use and end up 'hand-pressing' and folding very nicely. (sigh)

    I might just get out that ironing board this week!
    Carla in Idaho

  21. I really enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts on ironing. It's such an ordinary thing but as Julia said, there is nothing that is unimportant.

    Michelle, I don't iron the discloths, they were all in my basket so I just folded them when I ironed the napkins and put them all away together. : )

    Lisa beware. My subliminal messages are aimed right at you. LOL

  22. As a teenager I couldn't stand ironing but I had a best friend who LOVED ironing. REALLY loved ironing. If there was anything I needed ironed for a special occasion she would just have me bring it along with me when I came to visit her. She, in turn, didn't like to bake but I did. So I would sometimes bring along baked goodies or make some while she was ironing. It was quite a nice little arrangement. That friend has long moved away now and I don't bake as much as I used to. I don't mind ironing so much anymore either though. :)

  23. I should put in a word here for the wonderful washing aid that is starch. Starch wasn't only used to provide a masochistic degree of stiffness, but because it draws dirt and general detritus away from the material itself, so that the dirt ends up washing away with the starch.

    I always launder with starch, then iron just before the clothes are fully dry; it makes the job comparatively easy. Air the clothes properly before putting away, then you find they are crease-resistant almost for ever.

  24. i use ironing for an income as i am a retired widow. it keeps me playing golf [good exercise] and a chance to listen to some good books which i borrow from the library.

  25. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I haven't posted before, just found you a wk ago, am reading from the start. I am loving your blog, seeing life on the other side of the world is so interesting. I live in Vermont, USA, so your gardening and outdoor living sounds like heaven. I had to post finally, the ironing subject made me laugh. I have always loved ironing, always do my pillowcases, love how crisp and cool they feel. Many years ago when I had a roommate, we swapped jobs as I HATE doing the bath, but loved ironing. She did our bath the whole time we lived together and I did her ironing. What a bargain swap that was. I miss that.
    Well, have to go, actually do have ironing to do today, first, have to put bread on to rise. Thanks for your wonderful read! Dale


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