Blowing In The Wind

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English: Clothespin in place. Oregon, USA Fran...

Today is an all time first for me, the daughter of the original Queen of Clean. My mother, the promoter of laundry line purity in our neighbourhood when I was growing up, would not be impressed. I hung out a line full of freshly laundered bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, and panties and instead of the whites coming in even whiter, by virtue of the wonderful bleaching capacity of ultra violet rays (something to ponder when you neglect to wear your sunglasses) they came in dirtier than when they went out. They did, however,come back in with much more “spring freshness” than Downy fabric softener could ever provide, and by a much greener, much more environmentally friendly method too. Unfortunately in this case green turned out to be yellow.

Speaking of Downy, and colour, did you know that men are actually using the Downy April Fresh— that’s the kind that is sold with the pink caps, to grow hair back on their balding heads? I’m not kidding! I just read that this is all the rage, and some people swear by it, although I’m sure that putting glops of the stuff on your head would likely be a health hazard. No matter who started this, I imagine that Downy sales have gone up dramatically ever since. If the stuff really is a hair growth agent, I think I’d be a little wary of wearing clothing that are permeated with it. Some of our clothes cover parts of us that we’d rather not be hairy. But then Merck and Co. couldn’t possibly have any connection to Church & Dwight, the manufacturers of Nair now, could they?

Sorry, I just started off on a rantle there; I just made this word up because I realized that I was both rambling and ranting at the same time.  I wanted to tell you all how clever I was to invent the word “rantle” but then I decided that I’d better check it out on google to see if it already existed. I was really ticked off that somebody beat me to it in 2010. He is slightly ignorant and his blog is a site on WordPress where I publish from too— apparently the place where all the smart wordies hang out! I just realized that I didn’t clarify that the site is called “slightly ignorant”—not the man, although he may be too. I haven’t had time to check that out yet.

Sorry, I know I sometimes interrupt my flow of communication on one particular topic to interject other peripheral thoughts on another, worse than a mom with three preschoolers trying to telemarket from home. Back to the yellow laundry…

It was breezy out today, so it seemed a good day to wash and hang out to dry. Even those who are not as eco-friendly as we are, are now forced to line dry or go broke, because here in Ontario we now have the highest rates for electricity anywhere in North America. This is because our government wants to adopt measures to give us cleaner power. The cost so far has been huge to install wind and solar alternatives. As a consequence we may be getting greener, but a good part of that is because people can’t afford to use nearly as much power. For most folks there are now Time of Use meters which track our consumption and Hydro One charges almost double in the week- day peak times. Folks who need to use the dryer, because of rainy weather or cold winter days, or because they have no access to a clothes line are having difficulties. Those who have electric ranges, who still like to can, or blanch vegetables, or cook up a storm to stock the freezer, or prepare for a crowd, are now fighting sleep deprivation.Starting tasks after supper and staying up until the middle of the night to complete them is exhausting, but obviously, not everybody can schedule these things for the weekends.

The rates right now are as follows:

6.7 per kWh from 7pm to 7am or on weekends

10.4 per kWh hr. from 7am to 11 am, or 5pm to 7pm week days

12.4 per kWh from 11am to 5pm. week days

Worse yet, electricity costs are projected to nearly double in the next five years. Its scary enough to make you pee your pants!  More yellow laundry!

And now, for the rest of my story: Because it was so beautiful outside, I chose not to sort out the wet items in the laundry room into their particular categories. By item, colour, size, and weight, I usually establish the order that I want things to go on the line. This is a habit that I normally stick to because I like laundry to look orderly, like a well-organized train all linked together. The heaviest items get rolled out first because those are the ones that will roll in last, and that works out well because they are usually not dry as soon as everything else. That way they aren’t in the way of  me bringing in all the rest in case I need to hang out another load.

For the last few weeks we have had a little grey fold- out table on the upper deck where the clothes line runs from, so I started taking items out of the basket and making my stacks— like things with like. When all done sorting, except for the pile of  white socks which I threw off  to one corner of the table, I put all my stacks back into the basket— one on top of the other, and carried it over to the railing. I started pinning everything out, but as I neared the end of the job I had fumbled and dropped so many pins to the rock garden below that I needed to run down the steps to get them.When I looked up from there, at the backside of my laundry all flapping in the breeze I noticed that every fourth or fifth item— bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths, under pants, and so on, every item from the bottom of each of my pancake stacks was heavily mottled in mustard yellow. I was so surprised that:

I dropped all the pins to the rocks with a clatter

And sprang from the flower bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the clothes line I flew like a flash,

Tore down yellow wash cloths that would give you a rash,

Rolled in all those hand towels—more yellow than blue,

And tore down those panties of mustard-like hue.

A view of the table top made me feel sick.

If only I’d seen all that pollen so thick!

Like corn meal it dusted the table below

All the socks lying there like a late drift of snow.

Which suddenly turned into boa constrictors—

All yellow and white, like a dress of my sister’s,

When grabbed from the pile like snakes from their nest!

Did I somehow, just now, insult how she dressed?

By saying her dress somehow looked like a snake?

I have to be cautious of errors I make.

Errors I make when I hurry to write

Are clearly not meanness, just plain oversight.

“There’s nothing to fear now, your Mom taught you right;

You can bleach all this stuff and dry it tonight.

The rates change at seven; just watch the late show.

Does bleach get out pollen? Mom ought to know.

Slow down! Have a coffee and give her a call.”

Then I tripped on the step and flew into a sprawl

When I got to my feet I was mad as a cow.

“Dash it all! Dash it all! Dash it all now!”

You know I never promised you a great piece of literature today so the verse is just a bonus. Something Scrooge might bestow upon you, but a bonus nevertheless!

Just in case you think  that I am exaggerating about the laundry, I need to tell you about the glass top on the patio table on our lower deck at the back of the house. It was even more laden with pollen from all the flowering trees and shrubs, and the mixed deciduous and evergreens on the property, and also from the wind- break tree lines of spruce and pine that surround us on three sides. It looked like we had dusted fine corn meal quite heavily all over it, like we had been making corn meal biscuits. That brought to mind a few recipes I had seen in a book on harvesting from the wild. I’ll include two of them here today; supposedly, they are delicious, although I have never actually tried them. Good luck!

The best time to make them is in late May or early June, when the staminate, upper portions of the cattail heads  are ready to shed their golden pollen. The pollen is shaken into a bowl or clean cloth and substituted for up to half of the flour called for in most recipes.

 Cattail Pollen Biscuits 

1 cup white flour
1 cup cattail pollen
¼ cup butter
1 Tbsp honey or sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¾ cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 450 °.
2. Put flour, cattail pollen, salt and baking powder, and butter in a food processor and run on high until you have a course mixture, or cut with a fork or pastry cutter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
3. Add honey or sugar plus the milk and mix just until the dough forms a lump. Do not overmix!
4. Shape into biscuits and bake on ungreased cookie sheet 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
You can make drop biscuits by increasing the milk to 1 cup and dropping by large spoonfuls until a cookie sheet.

Cattail Pollen Pancakes

1 cup white flour

1 cup cattail pollen
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
½ cup honey
¼ cup oil
2 cups milk

1. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Add eggs, honey, oil and milk and mix thoroughly.
3. If the batter seems too thick to pour, add more milk until it has a good pancake batter consistency.
4. Cook on a hot griddle until golden brown

Happy baking! Don’t stay up too late!

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