Friday, November 15, 2013

Washing the Dishes

First of all, I don't have a dishwasher, and I don't want one. Second, I'm a guy who lives alone, most of the time, and have to fight the slobbiness that goes along with that. Third, the plumbing is old.

The water heater used to be down in the crawl space, where it was dug out deep enough into a mud floor to house it and also a gas furnace.

They're both still down there but I got a new water heater some years back when I looked into the crawl space one day to find out why the water wasn't heating up right and saw orange flames coming up the side of the outside of the thing, because mud had washed into the area gradually since the foundation on this house only goes down three feet, so rainwater just goes under it, and is gradually filling that crawl space up, which is fine with me, although over time it has made the side yard cave down a bit, but who notices? Only me, and the dog, and neither of us care very much.

 I'd just as soon have the crawl space filled right up, so there would be fewer places for the brown spiders to live. The furnace, the last time I saw it, which was years and years ago, had mud almost covering the burners, and quit working and was also replaced with a new appliance up here on the floor of the living.

Well, the result of all that was that the water lines are longer than they should be, since now, the hot water has to go from the water heater to the crawl space and hook into the old line which then comes back upstairs and goes to the kitchen and the bathroom.

The pipes are old and full of lime, too, and the water runs better than a trickle but is not very powerful. The result of all this is that it takes a small eternity for the hot water to get to the kitchen sink.

Because of the lag time, which is only about thirty seconds from cold to hot but seems longer when I am impatient, which is much of the time, I usually let the dishes pile up in the sink and on the counter, since I don't want to go through the thirty-second  wait, and leaving hot water in the pipes  just costs extra money.

Normal people would have a dishwasher and perhaps re-route the water lines. Even more normal people might do the right thing and put in an on-demand water heater close to the sink.

But I shuffle on slowly into the future with my primitive devices for washing dishes, and rather than take this time to do anything to improve the system, I am taking the time to write about what it is like to live with it and what happens to the dish-washing program as a result.
I already mentioned that I leave dishes to pile up. That is not as bad as it sounds, because I only have a few dishes, and that is on purpose. I have four Corelle plates, which are plain white and my favorites.

I have two deep Corelle bowls- at one time I had four, and there may be a third around here somewhere, once I get the place cleaned up one of these days. I have some heavy glazed crockery plates which look nice but are about three-eighths of an inch thick, more than twice as thick as the Corelle plates, and don't stack perfectly either, and they are from Pier 1, I believe, but I didn't buy them.

They were given to me by the neighbor with the attack dog, although the two subjects are unrelated, as far as I know.

 Come to think of it, though, the plates might have been given to me because the neighbor knows that the dog is going to go for me if it ever gets a chance, and if I have one of the Pier 1 plates handy, I will be able to wing it at the dog, or break it over the dog's head. It is the kind of crockery, you see, that is used in movies when someone has to break a plate over some stupid unfaithful cheating lying guy's lying stinking head- you know the type of plate I mean.

Sometimes it might be a vase, of course- that is for the high-class movies, I think, and the cheap plates like mine would be for the B movies. Anyhow, you can tell by the sound they make when they are dropped, it's about the same kind, all right.

I don't much care about the crockery plates, and that has nothing to do with the fact that the dog is out to get me. The plates are not to blame for that. Perhaps the dog believes I stole them from its owner, but I did not. I don't care if those break. If I still had a BB gun I would shoot them for fun, just to get rid of them, because four plates is actually more than enough. I am not running a buffet. Generally I only use one plate, and one bowl, and usually not at the same meal.

Why? Why so Spartan, you may ask? Well, it's not Spartan, anyway- the Spartans probably  just ate out of rabbit skulls or scooped- out frozen cow pies or something; dishes would have been too good for the Spartans, and would have made them soft, and that was the last thing they wanted.

A wise man once said, about a paperweight which he threw away because it needed to be dusted from time to time, that it is best to avoid the beginnings of evil. I think it was about a paperweight, and he threw it out, because "no dust gathers on the grass".

But the evil part, that I remember. The beginnings of evil! What a concept. As we know, or will somehow learn the hard way, the beginnings of evil are often very pleasant, rewarding, and seems like good, but then later, when it has its hooks set in you, it begins to reveal its true nature. But that is a whole other essay, and who wants to read about anything like that?

When I write about stuff like that, I almost never read it again, but I save it, in case someone in a generation or two reads it, on a day when a good dose of depressive thinking is the right thing to do; this is one way, and a new way if it's digital, to pass on tradition to the descendants who are not alive until long after you are gone. Send them a happy message, but don't be a liar, is my theory; but really, I am joking, and don't mean a word of any of this.

I just wanted to suggest that even dishes- even nice dishes- could be, sad to say, the beginnings of evil. I have thrown some dishes on the grass myself, as a matter of fact, but ore often, I might set one down in the grass, one with dog food in it, for my little dog, and that doesn't seem evil at all.

But I guess, if you think about the dog food, you could come up with something. However, my dog seems to like it well enough, and one can't have everything perfect everywhere all the time, or it wouldn't be perfect, you see. What we call imperfection may be perfection. Chew on that bit of nonsense for a while. Next: What is up, may actually be down. Next Week: Is water actually wet, or is that just a logical construction based on cultural factors? Coming soon to a mad blog near you.

Anyway, I forgot all about the blasted Spartans for a couple of minutes there, so let us please get swiftly back to them, and dispose of them, although they have all been dead for about a million years.

I contend that it is quite possible that when baby Spartans were left out in the snow or thrown into a pit full of asps, they were not given Tommee Tippee cups, and certainly were not given Corelle bowls or plates. So they would have to grub around for stuff, and hate their rparents, and want to slay all other adults as a result; and so,when they grew up they could go slaughter the Achaeans, or Xerxes, or the Cleopatrans, or the people living on Jersey and wearing skins from the silkies-  whoever it was, they could slay them happily, although the Jersyites were slippery, until you threw a bit of sand on them; and these young Spatans would not feel any pain, nor grief, nor remorse, nor regret,- no more than you or I would, after a bracing walk along a beach on a fine March days with gulls overhead and the smell of seaweed.

 To a Spartan, a beach, and gulls to eat, like  that would be "Mon, I doth died and doth went to Valhalla".
Seagulls were nothing to the Spartans. I mean, they were not scared of them one bit, or of their droppings either. They ate seagulls raw, especially the talking ones, to shut them up- yes, ate them feathrs and all, out of their little skull bowls- yes, even the babies.

But nowadays, everyone has dishes, and cars, and big televisions, and being a Spartan is a lost spart.
And hardly anyone one is drinking out of skulls these days; maybe the soldiers- but otherwise, not too many, and that is probably a good thing.

 A few people do, of course, but it is not widespread, thanks to Corning Glass, and thanks to China. There is no need. We have dishes.

It has gotten to the point where we, I mean the average family, which I am not, has too many dishes, and so requires dishwashers and special chemicals and technicians, and a large coal-fired or nuclear power plant nearby, assisted by hydroelectric  or wind generators perhaps, to wash our dirty dishes.

 The trouble and bother of all of this is enough that the foam plastic and paper dish business is probably at an all-time peak now, and most Americans throw away seven or eight cubic yards of food packaging, which is approximately seven hundred kilos,  every week in the trash.  I mean, on normal, not party weeks.

Well, I don't like it. I say it's spinach, and you know the rest, or should.

So a few dishes is enough for me, and it's made me weak and pitiful enough already, just to have a few.  If I had to sleep out in the snow with only a few garter snake rattles for covering, I don't know if I wold be up to it, having gotten so far out of shape from soft living and washable dishes like little white jewels, that a cave man would kill me for, if he was transported into the present and came over.

I probably should have done it all the Spartan way- I could find possum skulls, or a snapping turtle, and hollow him out, and have a strong and durable dish, but I am instead living the cushy life of a Corelle owner.

 But out of respect for my income I don't want to get a dishwasher.

So because of all this, and more, I let the dishes pile up, but even when they are all piled up, they only fill one sink, and part of the countertop. And I don't leave a lot of rotting food in them. Anything edible goes to the dog or the cat before it goes into the sink. The flies get the rest, or, in season, the ants. It works out and everyone gets a little bit.  But there are always traces, and specks, and things that make your mind say "Ewww".
 And so the dishes get a little bit ripe in a day or two.

I don't like to admit it, but it's a case of procrastination. Some hardcore moralists even believe that  procrastination can make you go blind.

When all the dishes, a dozen or maybe about twelve of them, and forks and spoons, are all groaty, I usually get depressed looking at them and at the countertop with crumbs and spilled coffee on it, and pieces of paper towels, and maybe a few rocks from the decorative rock beds at my kid's apartments, which I couldn't resist pilfering and bringing home, in order to see if they will dissolve in acid or not, as an experiment, since they are a different kind of rocks than we find around here.

Here, with these sea bed rocks, you can dissolve the rocks with vinegar or soda pop, but those Arkansas pebbles are a different kettle of fish,  and will sit in a plastic cup of twenty percent acid and just laugh, with nary a bubble. Throw a piece of local limestone in there, though, and stand back.

Where was I? How are you supposed to know? I am asking myself. Oh, yes. When the dishes are all groaty, I get depressed looking at them, and for the next two to four days, I don't eat very much, unless it is something which doesn't require a dish to eat it out of- a chunk of bread, or an apple, a chocolate bar that weighs a quarter of a pound, the heart of an Aztec, or something, anything,  manageable and dish-free by nature.

Because, you see, I don't want to wait for that hot water, and waste that hot water in the long water pipes, unless I am going to do all the dishes, not just one, and I don't feel like doing all of them yet.

So when I really have to have a dish, I just wipe it out with enough paper towels and rinse it in cold water and wipe it dry, and then use it. It's not so bad, since usually there was only oatmeal in it, or  frozen cherries, and so it's not really so bad.

But I wouldn't do it in front of anyone. I would pretend I was just getting ready to wash all of the dishes, and then actually wash them all with hot water and soap, just like adults would do, and as far as anyone watching would know, I do this every single time, and never use cold water and a series of paper towels, or my T-shirt, to wash and dry my dish.

This has been the pattern for years, while I have tried to deal with problems that matter, instead of this one, which I could live with, permanently it seems now.

I would use the dishes until they were all dirty, and then not use them, because they were all dirty and I was not ready to wash them correctly yet, and so would wipe a dish and cold-rinse it, if I absotively, posilutely had to have one.

But this morning- well, actually, it was past noon- I was washing the dishes, which had piles upas usual, and it is about a ten-minute job to wash all the dishes and clean off the countertop, and it takes four days to get to it, but is fast once I actually try.

But wait a minute, I didn't finish about how soft owning dishes had made me over the decades. I mean, just look at me now. No, don't. Dishes- the ruination of mankind! Not really.  B

ut I can see how soft it has made me, having these Corelle dishes, so glossy and pert as they are, and not having to scavenge for animal skulls or large collanders made of worm-eaten conch shells- or even  Tridacna shells, which don't live around here. Not at our local lake nor in the river. I hope to God they don't.

But a Tridacna would only be used for a big party- to hold the punch, or the chowder, more likely. And I don't have one, and have too much junk around here anyway.

Now that I have mentioned it, though, I suspect that the goddess of great fortune will soon lead me to a garage sale, or an antique shop, which has a Tridacna right there on a table: "$75, oR beSt Offer!".

But I won't be tempted to buy it.

A few years ago, my old friend Steve had a sawfish saw, a real one, and boy was it a nasty thing, and of course I wanted to saw up some firewood with it, or at least see if it would cut across a two-by-four, but that was only an illiterate childish impulse, and I knew better, because sawfish saws are absolutely no good for carpentry.

If they were any good, carpenters would already be using them.Carpenters are practical that way, and not afraid to explore options from time to time.

Maybe they are used in the Maldives or the Marquesas, or  Baffin Land, to carve coconuts, or something like that.  I can't know everything!

 But I wouldn't use one when I have a circular saw and a plug-in. That sawfish thing would have cut worse than my cheap chainsaw, which is not a very good tool: it's only sharp the day it has a new chain, for some reason.

Well, enough about foreigners and their pets.

What I meant to say, was that this morning, a little after noon, I started washing the dishes and when I was almost done with washing them, but they weren't rinsed yet, I looked around and I had only washed one of the four Corelle plates, and I looked up on the shelf, and there were the other three, and I realized that I had actually washed the dishes early, before I had to wash them.

I had washed the dishes when I still had some clean ones left on the shelf.

I don't know what has come over me, to do something so out of character like that.

Anyhow, before I could forget how exciting it was to see those three clean Corelle plates still on the shelf, and me washing the dishes anyway!- I stopped, and ran in here to the computer to write about it.

Now I need to go rinse those things, and eat something, before I faint.

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