“Stiffed Starched Shirts Hanging on a Clothesline”

As I traveled South today with my laptop and looking out my windows upon cotton fields and clotheslines among the decorations of October Pumpkins and the beginnings of Fall Wonders, I see clothes, laundry, personal items hanging outside of one’s home on their clothesline.

My friend of the South and her family hanging out on a clothesline being peeved for the local folks to see.

Have you ever had a peeved friend but you don’t know why and they say they are not peeved? Their family and friends don’t know why and then you talk with others to ask why and try to find out why and they don’t know why.

Well then how do you know your friend is peeved? Why don’t you call and ask her?
How are you?
“ I’M FINE! Just FINE!”
How is your husband?
“He’s fine!”
How are your children?
“They are just fine! Great, everybody is fine. Yes, just fine!”

Then the peeved friend starts telling you all about the backyard fence clothesline secrets of the neighbors, the church people, the cousins and every other distant relative while saying; “but me and my little family are all just fine.”

And my mind whispers, “Stiffed Starched Shirts Hanging on a Clothesline.”
Peeved for P—ed Off! “I’m Fine”! “Stiff Starched Shirts hanging on a line”. A word picture of mine for a friend that is peeved at the world but they are all just fine. Just Fine!

Dante (1265-1321) an Italian Poet wrote “The Divine Comedy” (1309-’20) an epic poem that describes his spiritual journey through Hell and Purgatory and finally to Paradise. In many ways this describes being peeved and other related issues in one’s life while trying to find the perfect friend or the perfect day or the perfect family or the perfect lover or whatever one is on a journey for before they find perfect bliss in themselves and their perfect belief system.

Now I know some of us have seen this in person or a photo or painting while drawing up a memory in the heart of emotion. I assume the family of the home wears these clothes each and every day. Maybe even to work or church and if I go there and see them or even see one of them in the grocery store, I won’t have to wonder are they wearing boxers or briefs? I know!!! I saw them hanging out on a clothesline just outside their home amidst and among the cotton fields back home.

My word picture tells me when the girl from the South is peeved she hangs her clothes out on the line for all too see. I’m not sure if the wind or sun or maybe the “ day soap” products they use sometimes makes those nice white Sunday Shirts look stiff as a board hanging out on a line. When I see a stiff lipped friend begin to hang out the “I’m fine” on the line I know then and there this starched stiffed shirt will chafe the neck if worn to long.

I haven’t found anyone yet that can explain why we have “stiff starched families hanging out on the clothesline.” I know that if they are living they must have something happening and if they are not living any longer on this earth then I believe something is really happening. So what is the use of hanging your family out on a clothesline for all to see? Show and Tell or Tell and Show what you want others to believe rather than just who they Be.

I wondered how could my peeved friend get off the clothesline, and I found a journey in my mind that just might bring the clothes all in. When a man wears a nice heavy starched shirt for the day and your eye focuses on the man and his shirt, you see his misery and give relief. You see his success and give rewards! You take joy in all he is and your journey for the day may just end in heavenly bliss.

Where are you today on your spiritual journey?

To hell? To Purgatory? Or have you found Paradise through being just who you are and knowing yourself and happy with just who you are and happy with those who wear the fabric of your family?


  1. Stiff starch shirts yes I do know of these and some people add even more spray starch! (they dont even realize how stuck-up they look). I enjoy reading your very colorful writings..and seeing your photos, they really help the reader to be there ,,middleburg va.

  2. Seems like a stiff shirt is someone two-faced who knows plenty of ‘stuff’ worthy of plenty of gossip about their own families which is why they are experts at gossiping about others. But they hide their family ‘secrets’ they are enjoying with a defense mechanism like being peeved or angry at those they never want to know this. A skunk has a good defense mechanism too…you never want to get too close.

  3. I have thought long and hard on this one. This concept makes me think of two types of people.
    First, there are those people who do not want to “burden” others with their problems and find relief in airing other’s issues. Some people feel relief in thinking that other’s are in a worse position spiritually,physically,emotionally, financially then they are.
    The second type of stiff shirt is a person who wants the attention of others. They have some sort of void (spirit, companionship, etc) and need people to ask the “what’s wrong” question. It seems that it’s a front to feel a sense of belonging.
    Stiff shirts, either way, need to soften. They need to air the laundry of good happenings and positive thoughts or at some point their line will break.

    1. Stacie
      You are now making me think long and hard. This is very insightful and a very heathy and interesting prognosis.

    2. Thanks Stacie, I pondered your words in my heart, tried to keep my mind and heart open to others needs in a different way and have seen the ‘stiff starched shirts’ soften in some hard situations.

      Thanks for taking time to give us this wisdom. As you can see months later I have posted an article, “Set My Spirit Free”. I took the dive to touch another from your comments and it worked.

  4. Dorothy sent a communique just the other day that reminded us to revisit STIFF STUFFED SHIRTS on “” It’s amazing how new and refreshing and what new insights I received from re-reading it. Thanks for the refreshing, Sara. And, thanks for the reminder Dorothy. Amazing!!!

    1. Yes, thanks, this is an answer to one of my prayers. We have a responsibility to be alert in all these areas.

      I believe this is the email that came from Rena’s sister Connie. I will post for our edification.

      The Clothesline :

      For all of us that are older, this will really bring memories.
      For those of you who are younger It will add some thoughts.

      1. You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes.
      Walk the length of each line with a damp cloth around the line.

      2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order and always hang
      whites with whites and hang them first.

      3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail… what
      would the neighbors think?


      A clothesline was a news forecast
      To neighbors passing by.
      There were no secrets you could keep
      When clothes were hung to dry.

      It also was a friendly link
      For neighbors always knew
      If company had stopped on by
      To spend a night or two.

      For then you’d see the fancy sheets
      And towels upon the line;
      You’d see the company table clothes
      With intricate design.

      The line announced a baby’s birth
      To folks who lived inside
      As brand new infant clothes were hung
      So carefully with pride.

      The ages of the children could
      So readily be known
      By watching how the sizes changed
      You’d know how much they’d grown.

      It also told when illness struck,
      As extra sheets were hung;
      Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
      Haphazardly were strung.

      It said, “Gone on vacation now”
      When lines hung limp and bare.
      It told, “We’re back!” when full lines sagged
      With not an inch to spare.

      New folks in town were scorned upon
      If wash was dingy gray,
      As neighbors raised their brows,
      And looked disgustedly away.

      But clotheslines now are of the past
      For dryers make work less.
      Now what goes on inside a home
      Is anybody’s guess.

      I really miss that way of life.
      It was a friendly sign
      When neighbors knew each other best
      By what hung on the line!

      Author unknown
      Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
      Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
      Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
      Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
      Every moment, THANK GOD.

  5. There is a message sent to me that is appropos to this particular blog. It is especially significant to verse 9 of the above poem.

    The Window Through Which We Look

    A young couple moved into a new neighborhood

    The next morning while they were eating breakfast,

    The young woman saw her neighbour hanging the wash outside.

    ‘That laundry is not very clean,’ she said.

    ‘She doesn’t know how to wash correctly.

    Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.’

    Her husband looked on, but remained silent.

    Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry,

    The young woman would make the same comments.

    About one month later, the woman was surprised to see

    a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband:

    ‘Look, she has learned how to wash correctly.

    I wonder who taught her this.’

    The husband said, ‘I got up early this morning and

    Cleaned our windows.’

    And so it is with life.

    What we see when watching others

    depends on the window through which we look.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: