Friday, July 08, 2005

Idiosyncratic Dishwashery

I don’t believe I have any obsessive or compulsive issues; but I do really enjoy doing dishes.

It’s not as if I need to do dishes. If you ask any prior roommate (my brother Jason, for instance) you’ll know that I am not obsessively clean (my friend Teri will attest to this as well) and I’ve been known to leave dishes in the sink for a day or so (usually Alaska means no bugs so I’m safe there. Well, there is a story about bugs in Alaska but I’ll save that for later).

I do enjoy the “job well done” aspect of doing the dishes, though. I also like the look of an empty stainless steel sink. I would probably like the look of any empty sink but stainless steel is the only material that I’ve ever encountered in the world of Alaskan kitchen décor.

I am also intensely distrustful of the ability of dishwasher to thoroughly wash dishes. My parents have a dishwasher that they can set to “pre-clean” and that has a garbage disposal in the drain to chop up relatively small dining debris. This was a post-empty-nest purchase and I’ve rented ever since moving out of my parent’s house, so I’m stuck with 1980’s style dishwashers.

In a quirk which puzzles my wife, I must wash the dishes by hand before loading them into the dishwasher. They are essentially clean when they get into the dishwasher but I use the dishwasher as an autoclave / drying rack.

I also never use the heated drying feature of any dishwasher because: a) I own plenty of plastic-wear which is liable to melt at high temperatures, and b) because I remember the smell of burning wooden spoons from my childhood. There must have been a magnet at the bottom of my parent’s old dishwasher that sucked the wooden spoons to their doom against the heating coils below. When I started buying kitchen utensils of my own I was surprised to discover that wooden spoons did not come from the store with blackened handles.

I enjoy the process of doing the dishes by hand. I have a fairly well thought-out system of using a big dish of water to soak the flatware while I clean the actual dishes. Then I clean the flatware and load it all pointy side up in the flatware container of the dishwasher. Yes, I know that pointy side up is dangerous and yes, I’ve probably stabbed myself with a knife or two along the way, but pointy side up means no spots on the flatware. Spots are not the worst thing in the world but I figure that if I’m going to take the time to wash something, I’d like it to look clean when it’s done.

If you ask me how I keep the spoons from “spooning” and therefore not getting clean, I’ll advise you that I have a system of splaying the ends of the flatware so that the middles are all approximately in the same area but the tops and bottoms are fanned out like a little flower garden of flatware. No, I have never used the phrase “a little flower garden of flatware” before.

I once read that a scientist who focused on theoretical mathematics used to dig holes in his backyard if he ran into a mathematical problem he couldn’t solve while at work. The process of doing a mindless task let his brain work in the problem “in the background” and he often found the solution popping into his head. His yard was also full of ditches and canals. I find that doing the dishes gives me an opportunity to listen to books on tape or just get into my head a bit without getting that bored anxious feeling I get when sitting quietly with a book (which I am almost unable to do these last few years).

In conclusion, I offer this advice (and I’m paraphrasing Jim Morrison): When you’re sad and feeling blue, go out and buy a brand new pair of shoes; or alternatively, do some dishes and listen to a Doors CD or a book on tape and let your brain work on your big problems without you interfering. It can’t hurt (unless you reach into the pointy side up knife section without thinking).


Is it weird I managed to write this whole thing with the first letter of each paragraph starting with an “I” ? Except for the last paragraph, this was not intentional. Oooo-eeeee-ooooo.


Anonymous said...

I must say I love that you like doing the dishes, because I hate it. Thankyou baby. I wonder if anyone will look up the phrase "A little flower garden of Flatware" and find you? Ha Ha!


No_Newz said...

Nope, you don't have obsessive compulsive behaviors. Not even a teeny tiny bit. LOL!
It's cool that you have a job in the house that you enjoy.
Mr. Lane is our super duper pooper scrubbing bubble head. And much like you not using the phrase "A little flower garden of Flatware" I also never used the term "super duper pooper scrubbing bubble head" before either.
Have a great weekend! May your family and friends come over and dirty every dish.
Lois Lane

Anonymous said...

The more I read, the more I think that we were parted in the hospital... :-) I also wash my dishes prior to placing them in the dishwasher, I soak the silver silverware in a glass or pan prior to placement, I do however place steak (sharp) knives tip down. It is funny I have often thought of the dishwasher as an autoclave. The comparisons are truly odd, save the knife thing.

Anonymous said...

The average dishwasher really , truly, is only a sanitizer of dishes. DIshwasher is kind of a poor term.

We have a similar process in my house, but are lucky enough to actually have installed a garbage disposal. Mucking stuff off the plates into a trash can is fairly dangerous since we own a dog. He usually is good about staying out of the trash. But not always.

Compulsive? E? You?

Might I remind you of a certain phobia you have about Zip Loc Baggies?

About the stainless steel sinks.... keep it.
Trust me. We have this expensive artistic ceramic sink, or whatever they are made out of. Porcelein maybe?

If you drop something breakable into stainless steel, they have a tendancy to bounce somewhat.

In my sink, things shatter.

Stainless is also easier to get clean and keep clean. Certain things mar the white finish on my sink, and I can't always get them out.

A little comet and some elbow grease and a stainless steel sink is shiny!

Vive le AutoClave!


PresentStorm said...

lol ..I want the dishwasher with the disposal ....

smussyolay said...


much like never having had an apt. in chicago with a/c (i HATE when people bitch about the heat...i hate winter so, i'm already digressing), i've never had an apt. with a dishwasher except my VERY first apt, and for some reason, i lived with someone who was a WORSE slob than me and would let dishes sit in the sink for WEEEEEKS. why we didn't use the dishwasher is beyond me. i didn't really cook (not much different from now), and so, no real dish use... she did, though...but would never put the dishes in the dishwasher. whole other story there (i hate when i write my own blog entry in someone else's comments!).

anyway... i HATE doing dishes. in part because of a trait we share. the dishes have to be CLEAN before i can wash them. i hate my hands touching food or debris, esp. if i'm actually doing 'real' dishes, like filling up one sink to wash, and then rinsing in the other. then, the dishes have to be pretty much cleaned completely, so that the 'washing' sink is like a cleansing, hot, soapy bath. grr.

anyway. if i had a dishwasher..i'd rinse and make sure big chunks were off and stuff...but you'd better believe i'd let the hot ass water and stuff clean them dishes. for real. i'm not a germophobe. it's the reason i think i don't get sick much.

bring it.

also... flatware is my most HATED thing to wash. you want it to be super clean (directly in mouth), but it's such a fucking pain to make sure and scrub and blah blah blah.


i hate doing dishes. i hate most cleaning, but dishes. suck. ass.

i wish i had a dishwasher. i'm sure i'd eventually get lazy and loading and unloading would get to be a bitch, but it seems like a dream chore to me now.

wow. i should have blogged about this.


Eric said...

K, Ms Lane, and J-bro: Amen.

Presentstorm: thanks for stopping by.

Smuss: Rant away. I feel guilty about riffing all over your blog so feel free to type as much as you want on mine anytime. Also: yes. I feel your pain. There's a famous saying, I think it goes: "I cried because I had no shoes till I met a man who had no rinse cycle."

Lindsey said...

I have to say, I too wash my dishes before I put them into the dishwasher. Not super clean, but pretty darn clean. I use the dishwasher as the sterilizer. Though I do put my flatware pointy side down.......I have a new dishwasher, but not the 2000 dollar kitchenaid types, so I still wash the dishes first.....And I try to aviod spoonage of the flatware by not letting the spoons rest in the same little hole if at all more than two spoons in a slot...but putting them in the drawer thats a whole different story lol. Have fun!!!

john cowart said...

I can tell when it's time to wash dishes... It;s July 10th and we had our morning coffee in the Christmas mugs. Tastes great.

Mindless chores help us think things through; for me, yard work does the trick.

Jaws said...

Come do my dishes!!! I hate dishes. They are a spawn from the devil!

queenofsass said...

So, you are a bit anal when it comes to dishwashers, huh? My hubby is same way about washing the dishes first...we just stopped using the dishwasher. It is more of a kitchen decor item now.

Anyone who likes to do dishes is always welcome in my house.

Hotpants said...

I need to stop abusing the dishwasher and maybe start scrubbing by hand.

I do recall that in the past it helped me think.

Then I got spoiled by an apt. with a dishwasher.