Monday, May 2, 2016

Method Dishwashing

"How come you're just getting started?" she said, picking up a dishtowel. "I thought you'd be half done by now!"

The leftovers were put away and the dirty dishes were stacked next to the sink, which was full of soapy hot water, cutlery and cooking utensils. The table, counters, stove and fridge handle were wiped down, and the kitchen floor may even have been swept. I had just plunged my hands into the suds, and Shelly had left whatever she'd been doing with our friend Cathy, with whose family in rural Manitoba we'd just had a splendid meal, and come to help.

"Just doing it the way my mother taught me," I replied. My friend had been five when her mother died of breast cancer, and had probably had to find her own way through housework. The bulk of it had very likely fallen on her and her sister, the two youngest in a farm family with four older boys.

It wasn't till quite some time later that I remembered it wasn't Mom who taught me how to do dishes. I learned my method in the 4-H Club that I joined at age nine in our little village of Margo. The club was a going concern back then; probably every kid in the community was a member. My first two years were in the cooking courses, and doing dishes in a practical way was part of the first year's lessons.

The method, you ask? As if everyone doesn't follow the same one! Well, do you?

Clear the table and clean the kitchen first, so you have wiped your counters and table, etc., with a cloth soaked in hot soapy water and you have a pleasant place to do your work.
Then wash the silverware, followed by the glassware. All this while the water is hottest and cleanest. Then the plastics, before the water gets greasy. Then the pots and pans. Voila, tout fini.

Just this morning as my coffee brewed, I washed, dried and put away the few dishes Scott had left in the sink last night. For me, one secret to enjoying this duty rather than finding it endless drudgery is to wash dishes often, while there aren't many, instead of in one big production. The other secret is not to hurry while thinking of other things I want to do instead. It also helps to be listening to some good radio or some music I like, but nowadays I just open the window and listen to the frogs and birds. It sounds like a jungle around our yard.

"Why does the dog get these nice dishes!" she exclaimed.
And to this same friend, my dear Shelly, I replied, "Because I have to see the dog dishes every day."
This is my way of handling the fact that the alternatives would be ugly. Old plastic bowls are ugly and so are discarded pots that we might otherwise use to feed our pups, and the commercial pet food bowls that people buy are not anything to swoon over, either.
If I have to see something every day, let it please my eye.
There's a matching platter still in the cupboard, rarely used. I've had them for more than 25 years.

I didn't say, "If you want them, take them," which, since she seemed to think they were such nice dishes, I would have if I'd thought of it.
I didn't think of it because you could sanitize them 10 times over in industrial-strength liquid and I'd still not eat off them after a dog has.

Of course I know that many people let their dogs eat off the dishes that come off their dining room table, or out of the roasters they've cooked their meat or casseroles in, and they wash these in hot water afterward and a dog's germs won't kill ya, so what's the big deal? No doubt I've eaten off the same dishes as a family pet many times while visiting people's homes. I'm just glad no one has reminded me of that while I was chowing down on the delicious meal they've served me, as it would ruin my appetite. Dogs eat cat shit if they can get it and lick each other's asses and their own genitals. I don't want to eat from the same dishes they do; I don't care how well the items have been sanitized. Just one of my funny little quirks. And I have a few.

Another is that I don't like it when dogs lick my skin.
"Their germs won't hurt you," say those who allow dogs to wash their faces for them or lick their mouths, and even encourage it. Yuk.
Here's the thing: I wouldn't like it if a human licked my face either.