Friday, December 14, 2012

Washing Dishes!

     I was washing dishes in the dishpan tonight and my mind wandered to the history of dish washing in my family. 

     My mother had the dish washing schedule down to a science.  We were divided into groups of two and rotated out weekly by age and sex as well as duties to be done.  We had the tasks broken down in parts divisible by two.  The person who cleared the table and put away the food also washed the dishes.  The person who received the cleared dishes then scraped off the big bits rinsed them and stacked them.  That person ended up drying and putting the dishes away.  The other two got the night off.  There was no reward and no sympathy for the Sunday dinner team.  You worked your shift and got it done.  You still had homework to do.
     There were draw backs.  The person rinsing and stacking ran the water through the entire process.  It just ran down the drain constantly.  The hot water ran out before the dishes were done.  These problems were never addressed or changed.  It was the way it was to be done.
This is not my Gram! (just a reasonable facsimile!)

     My grandmother had another way of doing that had a lot less running water.  She grew up in the era of pumping water at the sink and boiling water on the stove.  We all cleared and scraped our own at her house.  She wiped the dishes with a wet rag to remove as much debris as possible.  In a large farm house type sink she put all the dishes under boiling water and let them soak in the soapy hot water till it cooled enough to turn your hands pink but not so hot it scalded them.  The washing was done, the dishes were set in a drain rack and more boiling water was poured over them to rinse.  They were so hot they dried as the steam rose.
     The fraternal grandmother used nearly the same method but she washed her dishes in a plastic dish pan that lined the sink.  When she washed the dishes, you didn't hear a clink or clunk!  She was raised in the little house on the prairie era with one plate per person so they were handled with great care. 
      Everyone has their own method, but my thoughts tend to lead back to the what-if the end of endless running water actually comes.  All those homes I have cleaned in with their diverse methods of washing the dishes will have to learn to cope without the dishwasher sloshing water around for over an hour to do what takes ten minutes and one-tenth the water by any hand method.  I still look on in wonder at the women who wash their dishes by hand then load them in to the dishwasher to make sure they are really clean.  Really?  Yes.  How will she cope? 
     It causes me to wonder, when the occasional husband wanders through my area and asks if there is any way to cut household expenses.  I tell them unplug those digital equipment chargers unless they are charging something.  I suggest hand washing dishes then putting them away and not washing them twice.  I suggest only washing a full load of clothes.  Three towels is not a full load.  Every time, I am smiled at by the bewildered husband who mumbles something about too much work to make it worth the effort.   Once, I swear I heard the phrase ‘living like hippies’! 
      Maybe living with less of an impact on the environment won’t stop the end of the world as we know it, but will it hasten it?  My power bill is lower because I don’t waste what I have or what I have access to.  
      I then can use the savings to store food or supplies for later and my mind will be ready to cope without the dishwasher.  I will miss running water.  I will cope with grandma’s gathering and boiling method as long as I can get water for it.  
 - Learn how to conserve water when you are washing dishes by hand
     I made a mental note, get more bleach.  

No comments: