Here I am, up before the s(o)n, so that I can iron out my mind and heart before starting my LAST day of the semester. I’m a terrible ironer. Really. I mean, when is the last time any of you saw me iron anything? I do have a travel steamer for emergencies but ironing. ..? When it comes to that household task, I find I put more wrinkles on the back side of whatever it is I’m trying to clean up out front. Self, I feel a metaphor coming on…
As I tackle a deep crease in my thinking from one side, I’m noticing heavy-handed, starched-in folds on the back of that same thought. I am not smoothing out my troubles these days, but facing them, head-on, only then to hold the residue of my hot and heavy-handed confrontation by feeling guilty or distraught or lost in time about what and when all this work means. I am working so hard to press out the trouble at the shirt-face of my concerns, only to then turn over my work and find a rumbled mess at the back that needs more and more careful pressing. My therapist says I am doing good work. But nobody else would want to wear these shirts, let me tell you.
word of the day: sadiron
“The sad iron in “sadiron or sad iron” is an old word for solid and the name suggests something bigger and heavier than a flat iron.” ~The History of Ironing
I need a sadiron. To get happy, I need something more sad, more solid. And a hotter fire. And a slower hand. The other hot tips I gathered from The History of Ironing is: You need at least two irons on the go together for an effective system: one in use, and one re-heating. At home, ironing traditional fabrics without the benefit of electricity was a hot, arduous job. Irons had to be kept immaculately clean, sand-papered and polished. They must be kept away from burning fuel, and be regularly but lightly greased to avoid rusting. Beeswax prevented irons sticking to starched cloth. Constant care was needed over temperature. Experience would help decide when the iron was hot enough, but not so hot that it would scorch the cloth. A well-known test was spitting on the hot metal, but Charles Dickens describes someone with a more genteel technique in The Old Curiosity Shop. She held “the iron at an alarmingly short distance from her cheek, to test its temperature…”
In the housework of the heart, everything is done by fire. In this diligence, you need emotional back-up for an effective system, you need to “keep clean,” and you need to stay polished. You can’t just think of the thing that you’re working on, you have to also take care of your tools–“constant care.” I have definitely been neglecting my metal, sticking to the fabric, leaving my mark. I’m not just rumpling the underside of my focus but scorching the cloth. Not minding my own beeswax. There’s no way to ultimately do this heavy laundering without first taking care of my sorrow–my sad iron. And then, after holding my sadness at an alarmingly short distance from my cheek, I can test its temperature to make sure I am working with the right heat, the right heaviness–not too much so as to burn or wrankle, but just enough to get the job done and come out smooth, one day, once more. sadiron.
Love to all,