Why Do You Wash the Dishes?

I only have one rule for the dishwasher: anything I REALLY LIKE doesn’t go in.

Eeveryone tells me that’s weird, especially company who are helping to load said dishwasher, when I keep instructing them, No, no, not that. They usually retort, with much quiet (or loud) pride, I put EVERYTHING in MY dishwasher.

The only person who ever understood was a friend who meditated regularly. Her standard line when there was a mob of us over and people were offering to help was: “Do you want to do the dishes to do the dishes, or do you want to do the dishes to get them done?” And if you wanted to do the dishes to get them done, you had to leave the kitchen and go amuse yourself otherwise.

So this is what my dishwasher looks like for long stretches of time, half-empty, waiting to be full enough to run:

And here’s why:

This is a portrait of some of my many dishwasher “no-no’s”:

There are the kolsch glasses that were hand-carried by friends from Cologne; they’re decorated for the 750th anniversary of the laying of the foundation of the Dom Cathedral. That’s the traditional slim 20 ml shape for kolsch glasses (don’t scoff, the beer’s always cold that way).  Kolsch can only be called by that name if it’s actually made within the city precincts of Cologne, so what we drink at home in our fragile glasses isn’t authentic, but it certainly tastes better for the shape and the memories.

There’s hand-made pottery from France and Japan, which are always a great pleasure to handle, and each one comes with its own story of where it was bought, with whom, made by whom — and as I wash them, I remember.

And the non-hand-made egg cups which look like they come from Deruta (although I don’t think they do), well, they’re just plain cute. And they’re so little, they’d get lost in a great big machine, don’t you think?

And the knife. That’s my very particular love, that Shun knife. There’s a watered silk moiré pattern on the Japanese steel, and I keep it really really sharp.  No one messes around with that knife. I’m the only one allowed to be intimate with it. Do you seriously think I would trust my beloved Shun knife to a DISHWASHER? You’ve got to be kidding.

What’s in the dishwasher, then, is just there to get them done. But these other things, the pottery and the glasses and the knife and such — they are affairs of the heart. They are the dishes I do to do the dishes, and savor every minute of it.

Actually, I guess it is pretty weird. But it works for me.

(I’ve borrowed shamelessly from my friend Stef’s wonderful blog, Smile Kiddo. But, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, here’s my take, with thanks to Stef.)

This entry was posted in Etcetera, Home, Personal Essay, Zen and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why Do You Wash the Dishes?

  1. pauline says:

    I’ve never had a dishwasher (well, technically speaking there was one in a kitchen I inhabited but I never used the thing). I prefer to wash my dishes by hand for several reasons: 1) I get to gaze out the kitchen window without appearing to be wasting my time gazing out the kitchen window (less important now that I’m older but the Puritan work ethic was strong in my childhood and wasting time gazing was considered… well, wasteful). 2) If I’m going to have to pre-rinse dishes anyhow, why not use the same water to really scrub them? 3) Like you, I have dishes that I love to handle and that should never, ever be subjected to the rigors (or ignominy) of a dishwasher. 4) The hot water does wonderful things to my increasingly arthritic knuckles.

    I have wonderful memories of doing dishes with my mother and sisters. We’d sing rounds or be silly or have contests to see who could get their part of the chore done most efficiently. Now I shall have to go off and post about this!


    • Touch2Touch says:

      Glad we’re kindred souls partway along this road — especially about beloved objects.
      But the other stuff, the stuff that can go in the dishwasher? Well, Pauline, I do it!
      I love all your reasons though.


  2. Stef says:

    Aw, I *am* flattered by this post – thank you! My knives also never enter the dishwasher – they need to stay sharp, and the dishwasher would dull them horribly. I don’t have amazing pottery or glasses like you do;but if I did, they would get the special hand-washing treatment, too. 🙂


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