Thursday, November 6, 2014

Doing the dishes

I remember washing dishes with my older brother. We always were a team on dishes. Sometimes I had to wash, sometimes dry. Someone else had to scrape and rinse and stack the dishes in preparation for washing.

Our kitchen was blue. There was a window over the sink and a flourescent light above it. That light was always left on at night. We had a large sink and the counter was too low. As an adult, washing dishes there always gave me a backache.

There were so, so many dishes: six children, two parents, and often guests. My brother frequently (at least that is how I remember it) got out of the dishes because of baseball practice. Man, that pissed me off. (In a twelve year old that's not fair, kind of way.)

But, when he was there, he was funny. We goofed around so much we often got in trouble. The kitchen, during dishes, was the kid's domain. My parents would have retired to the living room, or den, to watch television, or nap, or have a beer. However, if we got too giddy we would get bellowed at from the other room.

I can't remember the dish soap we used, but I remember the Belle Fiore plates,

which were our everyday dishes,


and the Crown Derby,


which was for special occasions.

My Dad always washed the Crown Derby - it was precious. I liked doing dishes with my Dad, usually on Boxing Day, or New Year's, and then afterwards he and I would make turkey sandwiches on my mother's homemade white bread, with lots of mayonnaise and green olives.

I loved how, when the dishes were done, the sinks cleaned (with Comet),



the counters wiped, the cloth rinsed, wrung out and hung to dry, it would all look so tidy.

I still love that - I like doing dishes at home, in campgrounds, at someone else's house. I like the feel of the warm, soapy water, the feeling of accomplishment, the way my hands feel so clean.

I love the camaraderie of doing the dishes with someone - you don't get that loading and unloading a dish-washer. The passing of the plate, the drying, the putting away, the pleasant chatter. After a big, family dinner I like doing the dishes when everyone has gone home and I can reflect on the evening while setting everything, once more, to right.

It is rhythmical and ritualistic right down to the last moment of hanging up the tea towel to dry.

Everything in its place and orderly ready to begin again after the next meal.

Doing the dishes is a ritual that reminds me every day of family, memories, and that part of me that longs to feel safe, and connected.

13 comments:

  1. I like hand washing dishes too, never thought of the whole process and the feelings behind it though.

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    1. I never did either until I chose one of Natalie Goldberg's writing prompts.....then it just flowed out of me.

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  2. Nice memories of a household task with family. xo Laura

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    1. Thank you, it is always interesting how these simple memories can be so powerful.

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  3. There were so many dishes for Dia, 11 people and my little kitchen. There was a parade of guests who took turns in the kitchen doing the dishes. Things were washed after each course just because there was no place to stack. My job was directing where to put things when they were dried. I didn't catch everything and I am still finding things where I didn't expect them. I kind of enjoy that part too, it's a little reminder now and then of the party. But I so agree about after everyone has gone. There was one more load of dessert plates and coffee cups and stray items that were missed. And then the wiping down of surfaces and putting table clothes and napkins in the laundry and finally hanging the damp towel. Yes. It was a quiet time by myself to remember the gathering and to take a deep breath because all the work was done and the wonderful memories were all that remained. Precious.

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  4. I am sure it was busy in your little kitchen! and yes, I know that part of finding all the missing pieces when others have helped. It is like a treasure hunt which adds to the delight of the whole event.

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  5. I have so many memories of washing dishes with my sister and our squabbles. I always washed which meant she could go off and do "fun" things while the dishes dried on their own. Once I was complaining bitterly to my mom while I was smashing dishes into the drainer when I accidentally broke one of the "good" dishes! I won't tell you how that ended but my butt was sore. From that moment on I decided to wait until my sister returned to dry the dry dishes before I'd pour very cold water over each and every one of them!

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    1. Ooooo, good come back on your sister
      (sorry about the sore butt though) ;)

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  6. I wish dishes were warm and fuzzy like that for me. Tell you what...you can have all the family memories you want at my house! Every time I turn away from the sink, there's a fresh batch to do :)

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    1. I hear ya, and I have been there.....if we lived closer I would come and do dishes at your house. No. Really!

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  7. I have fond memories of a broken dishwasher. It stayed that way for nine months and my sons and I washed and dried every night. It was a wonderful time to connect with them.

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  8. Yes, I had a dishwasher too for a few years when the children were very little, but once it broke I returned to the tried and true method and I don't think I will ever go back.

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  9. For a few years we didn't own a dishwasher. Sometimes I found it relaxing to do the dishes. As a kid, we were always expected to chip in at dishwashing time at my grandparents. I didn't mind it. It meant that I got to chat with my grandma.

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