>The Lesson Of The Dirty Dishes

>Dear Dad,

Do you remember how we used to wash dishes by hand while sis and I were growing up?

Do you remember the dishwasher we were never allowed to use except on holiday and…. to stack the dishes we washed by hand in……so they could dry?

I still don’t know what confused me more; the fact we would go through all the trouble of stacking clean wet dishes in a dishwasher so they could dry or the fact that is was green; olive green. Really Dad? Olive green appliances?

I mean sure it was the 70’s and well if there’s three great and tragic losses from that era they are
the death of John Lennon
Elvis Presley and….

all pragmatic and reasonable fashion sense.

Seriously, butterfly collars?
Bell bottoms??
Shag carpets?
The Pinto!!!??

I still have nightmares about bright green, yellow and red polyester, elastic waist, bell bottom pants mom bought me in kindergarten. I think I’m scarred for life.

And color….our house was electric blue Dad….and it was considered NORMAL! (it only took you 20 years to get a single coat of brown paint on it but hey it all counts when you live on a street called “Artistic Circle”.)

But I digress…..we’re talking about dishes and the dish-DRYER machine.

I can’t technically call it a dishWASHER because I think it actually WASHED dishes less than a dozen times in it’s long, pampered life.

Every day we would neatly stack all the dishes in neat little rows and then did we turn the machine on to DRY the dishes?


We propped the machine door open with a bowl to let them AIR dry?

Dad, I need to understand this logic? In the time it took us to go through this dish drying ritual we could have hand dried them and had them all neatly tucked away safe in their cabinets and drawers.

I love you Dad, with all my heart…..but

This was a little odd. But hey I do have to give you some credit here. At least you weren’t as odd as Grandma and you actually had us put dishes in the dishwasher.

And why did she feel the need to use hers as onion and potato storage?

Regardless, every day as I would wash, stack, prop – I secretively swore to myself “Tara one day you’re going to have a dishwasher and you’re going to use it every day, to wash every dish. Never again will you wash dishes by hand……Madge can keep her Palmolive!…. I won’t need it.”

Now I’m all grown up and I’ve always had a dishwasher.

Oh the glory of stacking dirty dishes into that precious machine, filling it with it’s magical soap and the delightful sound of the whirr and hum as the motor kicks in.

I can read a book, paint my nails, lounge on my porch, bake lava cakes; all while this wondrous work horse churns away blasting my dishes clean……and yes it even dries them.

Oh the sweet heaven.

That is until it goes on strike which mine did recently.

The dirty dishes would go in and to my horror dirty dishes would come out.

What is this? Does it not love me anymore? Do I not cherish it enough? Does it love someone else more? Perhaps it’s looking for a career change?

Oddly it was only those on the top rack. The bottom were clean. So being the resourceful daughter you taught me to be I put my head to the problem.
But cleaning the filter did not work.
Flushing the drain did not work.
Offering weekends and holidays off did not work..

I got desperate….I called the repair man.

After a thorough inspection he tells me “You can’t put anything in this middle section on the top shelf. And you can’t put anything down here in this middle section of the bottom shelf. Anything in the middle of the racks will prevent the water from spraying properly and your dishes will not come clean.”

“But..then all the dishes won’t fit.” I declared perplexed, “What about the rest of the dishes?”

Mr. Repair man looks at me and says

“You could always do them by hand.”


I was despaired, dismayed, it was unthinkable; inconceivable. He was kidding right?

Alas he was not and after several more vain attempts at getting them clean in the machine. I had no choice but to pick up a sponge and wash them…..

with my hands.

Well Dad, I have to tell you something…..I’ve come to enjoy it. Weird I know. I don’t even use the dishwasher any longer; I don’t see the point, I’d only have to rewash them anyway.
Dirty dishes start on one counter and always come out spotless on the other.

Oddly the whole process has become therapeutic in this weird way. It’s almost meditative and gives me a little quiet in the evening. Just me, the dishes and warm water.

Besides, I’ve had plenty of experience.

It’s a simple process really; water, soap and a towel. But along the way I’ve found a few friends to help me.

After all this hullabaloo about bad detergents causing problems in the landfills, rivers and ponds, I stick to soap that is natural & biodegradable. Plus this one just looks pretty sitting on my counter. Don’t ya think?

I’m no Bar Keeper but this can of magic likes me anyway. I think it even considers me it’s friend. Don’t tell it but I think I may have a crush on it. What it does to my pretty stainless steel pots and pans is nothing short of a miracle. There’s no gook, gunk, burn or junk that can withstand the awesome power of this can.
They look like new every time.

Then there’s something from nature….

When everything is washed and stacked, this sweet, unassuming little orb of yellow tartness makes my counters and stove sparkle like gold and gets all the smells and stains out of my cutting boards. Plus it makes my hands nice and soft. –
Sorry Madge….

And where might you ask, do I put them to dry? Not in the dishwasher that sits, retired, filling up valuable space under my counter. No they have their own little place to sit and dry, stacked neatly and prettily. They even get a nice view out the fifteen foot windows that face the woods.

These are some very happy dishes.

So Dad, there you are, a lesson learned is one that comes full circle. You always told me don’t discount something forever because you may grow to like it.

I did. I enjoy doing my dishes.

by hand.

But I still don’t like mushrooms.

Now what to do with my unused dishwasher?

I guess I could store potatoes and onions in it.


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