Friday, August 24, 2012

Never Do a Dish Before its Time

My mother was a stickler when it came to housework - she liked to make sure her children were doing a good job of it.

Whenever my siblings get together these days, each of us tries to outdo the others with our stories of waxing floors, doing laundry and being the indentured servants working our way to adulthood and freedom.  And although I often join in with exclamations of "yeah but I had to do three days' worth of dishes every morning!", I am actually grateful to my mother for being so gracious as to delegate these menial household chores. 

I am grateful, foremost, because I learned a lot. Unlike an entire generation that came after me, I know how to wash dishes by hand.  I still hate it, and I still make the job last far too long by instituting a strict and unchangeable algorithm for dish washing designed to ensure the cleanliness and greaselessness of every glass, pan and lowly spoon. I realize also why I never actually finished doing dishes then and why I still almost never have them completely done.  I hate doing the silverware but even more, I hate pots and pans.  I usually get as far as the silverware these days, but I always have a few pots left over to "soak" until a bit later.  Then later, when there are more dishes to do, I take the soaking pots out of the sink and start washing the dishes in order again - plates, bowls, glasses, silverware - until it's time to put the pots back into soak.

I get further these days because, well, we use many fewer dishes in my small family than we did in my mother's house with five children.  And I don't "scald" the dishes anymore (although I sometimes entertain the thought).  Scalding the dishes was my mother's way of eradicating any nasty germs that might have survived the washing and rinsing process.  She'd heat a kettle full of water on the stove until it was boiling and pour it over the newly washed dishes.  My mother was always good at adding one step to any already too long task.

I have to get back to the kitchen, now.  I have the pot from yesterday's beef stew soaking in the sink.  Oh, I am not going to wash it just yet.  I am going to get a cup of coffee.  We'll just let that pot soak a wee bit longer.  It may be ready to wash tomorrow.

No comments: