Saturday, January 15, 2011

Breaking Up

Ladies and gentlemen, I regret that I must inform you of a break up. The relationship had been tenuous for some time, and I've made all the concessions and accommodations that I am willing to make for the alleged benefits provided by my ex-mate. It just isn't worth it anymore.

Wait, that sounds terrible. But it's not my husband I'm talking about--or any other human. I'm done with that mechanical kitchen mate, the dishwasher.

 Sorry, but this is goodbye.

I wasn't going to have one anyway. (Remember my rant about how I didn't want to include a dishwasher in the house we thought we were going to build? ) Then we moved into our barn where a dishwasher had already been installed. So I used it because...well, it was there, and it seemed wasteful not to do so. And I also liked loading and unloading it.

That patterned cycle was the only part of the dishwasher relationship that I did enjoy. (I just love tasks that make tidy circles.) I welcomed the challenge of fitting it all in, which can be sometimes miraculously accomplished by careful rearranging. Oh, and I am just the woman for that. (But I'm not obessessive. Not at all. Really. I just like patterns. Don't you? Oh... Well. Moving on then.)

Unfortunately, there came to be many things to not like about using the dishwasher. Like the horrid mineral film left by our apparently super-hard water on what used to be clear drinking glasses.

Behold the nastiness.

A similar negative transformation was experienced by dark plastic utensils, too.

Then, as I said before, there are so many things that aren't dishwasher safe regardless of water chemistry: wooden spoons, non-stick and cast iron skillets, my beloved and constantly used commercial sheet and loaf pans. I still regret the damage caused to one of the former after a trip through a friend's machine and one of the latter after a trip through the mother-in-law's. Goodbye forever, beneficially shiny surfaces.

Before I knew it, the quantity of items that I banned from the dishwasher for their protection had ballooned to the point that I had 20 minutes of hand washing even with the dishwasher's alleged convenience in play. With that much time demanded, what would be the extra work of a few plates and bowls? The cereal bowls, if not rinsed carefully, came out with grainy speckles still on them, anyway. Frankly, the labor saving device was saving me little of it and doing a worse job at even what it could handle safely. After six months of such disapointments, I realized that it was time to end this partnership, for we were unequally yoked.

Since I've made that decision, my bright husband has reinstated the use of a convenience tool I'd forgotten we owned, one that we used to great advantage back in our previous dishwasher-less days and one I do heartily endorse--the dish wand. Well, that's what I call those sponge-headed, hollow-handled quick cleaners that can handle a few dishes at a time, eliminating the all-day dish pile up that is a little daunting without a machine or a drying partner. He was very fond of this little tool back when he was the dishwasher. Perhaps that's why he reconnected with it first. Whatever the reason, we're all buddies again now.

Mother's little helper
After weeks of DIY dishes, I have not yet regretted my decision. I'm slowly working on rehabbing my most damaged glasses, which may require a strong solvent, and re-adapting to sponge bathing breakfast dishes and stray take-out pizza night plates as we go.

My only real problem with hand washing in our current location was that I had no dish rack and no modern standard double sink, a bowl of which makes a handy place to discretely hide the plastic coated homeliness of the basic variety. But our traditional New Year's Eve trip to the city solved that problem. I found a low profile number at Target, designed by Michael Graves, that I can stand to look at on my grandma sink's highly visible drain board. (The big red bull's eye didn't let me down.)

There are dish-pile moments when I wish the appliance had lived up to its promise of conveniently sparkling dishes. I did appreciate the neatness of having somewhere out of sight to put those dirty ones, and an article I read last week claimed that dishwashers use less water than hand washing (although I try to be stingy with the water, and they didn't discuss the electricity use). But I can't abide the damage factor caused by the hardest water I've ever encountered, and I'm not convinced that convenience is always the best thing for me anyway. Maybe I'll burn a few more calories while I swab and rinse the old fashioned way, which is probably just about perfect for this rustic place anyway. 


Samantha Roberson said...

I have been without a dishwasher since our move to St. Louis. I say I rather than we because Eli is barred from washing dishes for both our sakes. (It is an issue of time rather than ability- my methodical husband could spend HOURS washing dishes, which is beyond my limits of acceptance.) I was not thrilled about the lack of dishwasher, and we still discuss ultimately purchasing one, but honestly at this point it is more about re-sale value than personal need. I have gotten used to the chore, and while I don't LOVE it, I agree with your assessment of the dishwasher. Oh, and we also love the dish wand!

Ann said...

Good to hear from you Sam. Dish wand users unite!

Jeffrey Smith said...

Oh, thank you. I thought I was the only living American who hates dishwashers. I'd much rather wash them as I use them.

Ann said...

No Jeffrey, you are not alone. It's just better closure, don't you think?

Mel C said...

Our dishwasher was broken here at the house (dishes for 12 by hand becomes an hour long job without talking about the pots and pans) for a while and we used it as a dish drier. We would open it up, put the dishes on the racks and then let them sit there and drip dry while others where being washed. It was a handy use for a broken appliance. Now the machine is fixed and the ladies had a small celebration of it's return to our lives. Sorry that we can't join you in being dishwasher free :)

Ann said...

Touche, mon amie. The carnage for 2.5 people I can handle. Dishes for twelve might drive me to a mechanical aide, too. Dare we even imagine RAB with no dish machine?