Funny About Money wrote a paean to hanging laundry. She correctly realized that the practice is valuable not for the tiny amount of money it saves, but for the priceless stress-relief it provides. I hang laundry now and again, but, living in a high humidity environment means that sometimes items NEVER get dry. When I visit in-laws in California, I delight in hanging laundry. Even wool sweaters dry as if by magic. My in-laws, not fully appreciating the low humidity, do not engage in the practice.
I recall a description of hanging laundry in an even higher humidity place: the Hebrides. There is a wonderful series of books by Lillian Beckwith about her life in the Hebrides, where she went to rest on doctor's orders. I can't locate the exact part I remember, which is about hanging laundry in an environment of almost constant rains, resulting in continual re-rinsing and sun-bleaching of linens until the blessed moment when one can take in the laundry.
The following passage is from Bruach Blend, not the one I am thinking of, but pretty close:
The earth dykes around my croft were draped with sheets bleaching in the sun; newly washed blankets hung from the clothes rope where they responded to the caress of the breeze which, as it dried them, teased their fibres into downy softness and filled them with the good fresh smell of pure Highland air.
Perhaps because sunshine is scarcer in the Hebrides we tended to assess its qualities seriously. Thus May was traditionally the best month for bleaching and blanket washing. The hot summer sun, if and when it came, was welcome for drying the peats, but it turned woollen blankets yellow and hurried the drying of linen. To bleach successfully one needed the slow-drying, spring sunshine. A sheet put out to bleach in June or July would need to be sluiced frequently with clean water to ensure it did not dry too quickly, and as clean water had to be carried from the well it was far too precious a commodity for such ministrations. So we made the most of any good May weather, leaving the spread sheets out over several days and nights to be soaked repeatedly by the abundant May dew and subsequently dried by its benign sunshine. When the time came to gather them in, even the most obstinate stains had disappeared and the sheets were almost eye-dazzling in their whiteness.
Such knowledge I had of course acquired since living and working with the Bruach crofters, for once they realized I was in earnest they were eager enough to teach me not just the essentials I needed to know and practise to survive the crofting life but the simpler more esoteric crofting lore.
I highly recommend Beckwith's books, which are in the genre of city-lady-goes-to-country-and-falls in love with place-and writes about it. Is there a better name for the genre?
What are your small stress relievers of the frugal variety?
P.S. I just checked Amazon and the Beckwith books are in print once more: Try Hills Is Lonely">.