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We have a clothes washer, but not a dryer.

One reason for not owning a dryer is that we prefer clothes that are dried out on the traditional clothesline. The natural way. Sun-dried clothes smell so fresh and good!

Another reason is that our electricity is not wired for 220. Yes, things are primitive out here In The Woods.

Besides, in recent years both James and I seem to have become almost violently allergic to dryer sheets. They stink to high heaven! We can smell them literally a mile away, from our neighbor B.’s house, when the wind is right. It was weird this summer to walk through our pristine meadow and suddenly catch a whiff of….DRYER SHEETS? Out here???

My sister-in-law uses them, as do most people. I did, too, Back In The Day Before I Became An Old Curmudgeon — when I wasn’t so sensitive to chemicals.

Whenever James and I stay at the family compound in Sacramento, in the “Yonder House” (the bungalow which had been built for my parents in their last years) we chafe and itch on the bedsheets.

We’ve talked about suggesting (diplomatically, of course!) that my sister-in-law pour a half-cup of vinegar into the fabric softener compartment of the washer, which effectively softens the clothes without the chemical intrusions of dryer sheets.

Maybe my brother will approve of this, too, because it would save them money. 😉

If this falls upon deaf ears, we plan to bring our OWN sheets to use on that bed from now on. Then we can launder and dry them ourselves.

I stayed at Yonder House this past weekend, and washed some clothes. Unfortunately the wash cycle didn’t finish before I had to rush off to play a concert on Sunday afternoon, so I asked my brother to throw them in the dryer while I was gone, which he was happy to do.

Thanks, bro!

But I forgot to ask him NOT to use dryer sheets. My bad!

So my black sweatshirt and sweatpants (our usual garb In The Woods) were infused with their cloyingly sweet chemical perfume.

I thought I’d try an experiment in which I didn’t tell James about it when I changed into them once I got home, and see if he noticed anything.

I came home and put on the sweatpants and sweatshirt. James immediately said, “Oh my god, those REEK of dryer sheets! Gag me!”

(Or in 21st Century lingo: “GAH!”)

So much for trying to pull the wool over James’ eyes. He doesn’t miss a thing.

The truth is, I couldn’t stand the smell either, and was about to take the offending sweats back off.

Back to drying clothes on the line: for all practical purposes, it is now Winter here In The Woods. The sun’s declination is quite low; it barely skirts above the hills surrounding our property. The sun’s rays don’t peek out from behind the barn where the clothesline is until almost 11 a.m., then it dips behind the southern slope by 1:30 p.m.

This little window of time, combined with freezing temperatures, makes it impossible to dry clothes out on the line in Winter.

So James thought of rigging up a clothesline in the Music Room, near the Franklin stove, which dries the clothes out very nicely in two hours.

He told me later that he could hear his South Georgia grandma Jessie Mae telling him from the grave, “Jimmy, I’m so glad you’re getting back to your roots!”

I took the following pictures a couple of days ago. Along with the clothesline, you’ll see my mother’s legacy to me, her 1906 Steinway grand piano. Its arrival last Saturday shall be the subject of my next post. It’s quite a story!

Now let me tell you about some of the stuff in these pictures:


We use these black dish-towels (a bit faded) instead of paper towels. None of our clothes are white, actually, except for my musician uniform dress shirts (not pictured here).


The chairs were part of my parents’ original diningroom set bought in 1941. James recently re-covered them in black naugahide Volkswagen car upholstery.

Shot from the other side of the room. The diningroom table is also part of the 1941 set. I sit at the end nearest the camera (with my laptop) while James sits on the opposite end with his laptop. Notice the board holding up the clothesline in the middle!

We will eventually finish off the insulation at the top of the far wall — ha ha! I’ve already told you we live in a SHAQUE!

As you can see, our clothes match our decor. This is NO accident, thanks to James the Artist. Also, all the plants are fake. Aren’t they convincing? And we can’t kill ’em.


Two of my most prized family possessions are the grand piano and the black marble French clock. The first from my mother and the second from my father. I’m glad that James combined the two so closely, which has never happened before.

The window coverings are actually sarongs. We wear them during the warmer months. We love multi-functional stuff!


A mix of the Old & the New: my electronic keyboard sits atop the grand piano. The piano stool between the chairs was found by my father at an antique store in Northern Virginia circa 1969. He removed five coats of paint to get down to the natural wood finish!

I bought the gong at a New Age store in Nashville while on tour with Phantom. It has a lovely sound.