Thursday, January 28, 2010

Being There

One difference between our old house and our new house is that we no longer have a dishwasher. Or rather, Hux and I are the dishwashers (mostly Hux - I do the cooking). Right after moving in, we hated it. It takes longer. Drying dishes take up all our counter space. It's more work in general.

A few weeks back, she turned from the sink and told me how much she enjoys dishwashing. "It's relaxing," she said.

Next time I did dishes, those words came back to me, and I realized she's right. Yeah, it takes longer. But there's something to be said for not putting distance between you and the thing you're doing. If your dishes need to be cleaned, you clean them, you don't prepare them to be cleaned by a device. You are more aware of the thing you are doing. You soap up the dishes. You scrub off the food. When they are clean, you set them down to dry. Nothing in the way. You do what you do.

Hux dries our clothes on a clothesline too. No dryer in the way. She puts up the wet clothes. She takes down the dry clothes. And when we wear them, we don't smell lint and fabric softener. We smell the wind, the pollen, the dew, whatever particular weather that was going on while they were drying. We are aware of the weather, aware of our clothes.

Admittedly, this is being said by a man who calls himself a writer, but almost never puts an actual pen to an actual piece of paper. The only time I handle paper is to put it in the printer. But I'm learning. I'm learning from Hux.

Thanks, Hux.

23 comments:

Eric said...

I feel the same way about tasks like that. What would happen to us the day that we had a machine for everything? We might be close to that, but I don't think very. I wouldn't feel bad about the paper thing, either. I wouldn't be done writing the first one if I had to do it by hand.

On another note, Jo has resurfaced. Look at my profile for one of the latest people I've friended on Facebook.

A. Rue said...

I get that sense of peace from dishwashing as well. Back when I used to work service jobs, it was always my favorite part of the night: closing the store down, submerging my hands in hot water, and cleaning. There's something satisfying about being able to see your progress and know you're making a difference. Personally, I'd take that any day over convenience.

In truth, I have a dishwasher, but it functions more often as a dish-drying rack than anything else.

Hilary said...

This is true. I only had a dishwasher for about 6 months while I lived in an apartment. I rarely used ti and have never felt the need for one. I do have the same counter space issues though.

Laurita said...

You really have a point here. There is something theraputic about standing at the sink with your hands in warm soapy water. Just the same can be said about taking pen in hand and scribbling out all your thoughts.

You've given me food for thought.

Dominic Rivron said...

We have no dishwasher. Washing up isn't that bad -and it would just be another drain on our resources. Another machine to have to afford, mend, replace...

meno said...

Soapy togetherness. A great way to end the day.

But i'm still not going to give up my clothes washer!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jeff, for this post. You are fabulous writer, father and husband!

Love, your wife!

ArtSparker said...

Dishwashing is one of the few household tasks that yields proportionate satisfaction to the effort expended.

Noel said...

This took my breath away. So simply beautiful and honest. In part, I feel like I am learning from you.

Clowncar said...

Eric, thanks for letting me know about Jo. So nice to see her in the cyberworld again.

Yep, Ms. Rue. A dish at a time, and a feeling of accomplishment with each dish. I used to wash dishes at a steak restaurant. My primary memory is of finishing people's half-eaten steaks when the dishes were bussed. Disgusting, but I was a poor college student. and the steaks tasted great.

Hil, the counter space really is the issue. Dsihwashers don't save much time, but they are great at saving space.

You are quite right, Laurita. Writing and dishwashing by hand both give you that feeling of having done something directly, with no extraneous crap in the way.

Dominic, thanks for stopping by. Yes, it's just one more thing between you and the real world.

Meno, drying clothes by hand is much harder, than dish washing by hand, but the Hux insists on it, and we are grateful.

Hey Hux, you commented! I'm giddy! Thanks for the role modeling. And the dishes. And the clothes. And everything else....

Yes, Art, it's one of those simpler, easy to satisfy pleasures.

Thanks you for such kind words, Noel. Actually, I learned that from my wife, so you are learning from her.

gaelikaa said...

You make me think. I'm a writer but I never put pen to paper. Yeah! Weird isn't it? Congrats on POTW mention...

slommler said...

I love the process of washing the dishes by hand. It also feels so wonderful...the very warm water on a cold winters' day. Ah! So soothing! Thanks for the visual poetry of words! Congrats on your POTW award!
Hugs
SueAnn

Alix said...

Would that we were all a little more Hux-like in the way we see ordinary things.

Dishes and utensils usually get slung in the dishwasher at my house, but all the good stuff gets "done" by hand. The cookware, knives, wine glasses. It's a law at Casa Hice that nothing ever collects in the sink. I like that. There's something satisfying about cooking meals in things and then shining those things back up by hand and putting them away clean ready for the next adventure. Oh, and there's nothing sweeter than the scent of air dried laundry. You totally have it going on.

Congratulations on your Post Of The Week recognition from Hilary.

Cricket said...

Amen. Well said. I also feel that way about sweeping. One day I realized I was using the electric broom, then going back to sweep everything that it didn't pick up. Decided then and there to "cut out the middleman" and have never looked back. Less noisy, too.

Congratulations on the potw.

lailani said...

I too, find some enjoyment in washing dishes. I no longer have a clothesline, but I did find enjoyment hangin out the clothes. Now if I could only find enjoyment in ironing clothes!!

Daryl said...

Congrats on POTW mention from Hilary

LadyFi said...

A sense of peace from washing the dishes... and clothes do smell better when dried by the weather.

big hair envy said...

While I don't relish the thought of having to go for long without a dishwasher, your words ring true. We had a house full of family and friends at Thanksgiving. That night, when everyone else was in bed, I finished washing up the dishes and used the time to reflect on the wonderful day! A mindless task allows your mind to wander...;)

Kelly H-Y said...

Very nice post ... and congrats on your POTW mention from Hilary!

tattytiara said...

I understand completely. This place had a dishwasher when I moved in. A decade later it's never been used.

Fragrant Liar said...

Does this mean you're giving up your printer? That's gonna take a lotta ink!

Good story, though, and you're right. However, my dishes are going straight into the dishwasher and my laundry is going straight into the washing machine because I have to leave the house and go sit at a computer far far away where I will be happy to print that stuff out on a big printer instead of drawing it all freehand myself.

Grayquill said...

Well you didn't sell me but your wife's comment sure did. I think she like you...from one guy to another, don't make a tacical error now.
Hilary sent me your way...Nice post!

Clowncar said...

Thanks for the kind comments from everyone who teleported over here from Hilary's site. I rarely receive this much attention in the comments area. I'm giddy! Thanks, Hil.