Tuesdays with Ana: On washing the dishes and kitchen friendships

I’m a total slacker when it comes to washing dishes. I don’t mind doing them, but I never think it’s worth my time to wash one fork, one plate, or one cup. Then, as soon as I turn my back, my sink erupts into Mount Saint Dishuvius, and I can’t even get *to* my sink to wash the dirty dishes.

At the same time, sometimes when I wash up the dishes I think, “I wish I could wash all these and keep going.” You know, pre-wash dishes so I could accumulate a clean debt that would be paid back later. I’ll wash extra dishes today to skip them tomorrow.

Well, we can skip washing dishes tomorrow, but we’ll pay the price eventually.

As I was scrubbing crust off my bread loaf pans this morning (sigh, an overnight soaking hadn’t been enough), I had one of those epiphanies that seem brilliant or at least justifying of the menial work that produced it.

All the worries going on, and there seems to be more than a fair share going around these days, are not going to change by worrying. We can’t anticipate and pre-wash our worry dishes today. We can, however, make sure we are prepared by stocking dish soap, clean dish cloths, dish towels, and keeping our sink and drainer clean.

Sometimes the drudgery of one-foot-forward-at-a-time seems interminable, but what is our other option?

I love to put my phone on speaker mode, call up a friend, and chat while scrubbing. Sometimes dishwashing becomes the informal community center, with jokes and laughter flying back and forth along with the soap suds. Dish towels get snapped, perhaps a wooden spoon or two gets used in an unorthodox way (and has to be re-washed), and enjoy the fellowship of a good meal.

Almost all of my adult friendships have formed in a kitchen. Often, the test of compatibility has been trying to cook together. For my friends who don’t cook, will they wash up, leave me in peace, and/or ooh and ahh over the meal? For my friends who do cook, is there a kitchen big enough for two chefs? Sometimes there isn’t. ๐Ÿ˜€ Even my bossiest cook friends, however, are willing to take turns being bossy. In my kitchen, my rules go. In my friends’ kitchen, they’re the boss. Or else whoever knows the recipe better gets to be the boss.

My mom never liked to cook. She did it, but she followed measurements exactly and hated any deviation. (If you hadn’t noticed from my “recipes” here, I believe in deviation. Deviant deviation!) So I didn’t learn proper cooking (and by “proper,” I mean using real, fresh ingredients instead of dumping together various cans of processed vegetables and soups) until I left home. I didn’t even know garlic came in bulbs and cloves (instead of a sprinkle can of powder).

Even as I grumbled scrubbing the stubborn loaf pans today (and finally set them to soak a second time), I smiled thinking of the quilting grannies who enjoyed the bread yesterday (one loaf of sesame, the other onion) and asked for extra slices to share with husbands and family.

I came home with less than a quarter of one loaf, and I could have grinned from ear to ear. Nothing is sadder than stale baked goods that have to be thrown away. I’ll never forget baking someone a birthday cake (she of the perpetual diet), only for it to get thrown away a week after the obligatory tasting. Providing food is providing love, after all. ๐Ÿ™‚

For me, annoying endless chore as it might be, washing dishes reminds me that I am part of a community. It reminds me of all the years of friendships formed around dirtying and cleaning dishes, and it reminds me how lucky I’ve been.

I’ll have to wash the blasted dishes again tomorrow, but I’ll smile while doing it.

How about you? How do you feel about washing dishes?


20 thoughts on “Tuesdays with Ana: On washing the dishes and kitchen friendships

  1. pao says:

    Yay! Another post with the mention of food ๐Ÿ™‚ I feel like a cockroach, or an ant sensing that food is around! A loaf with onion (do you call it onion bread?)…I’ve never tasted anything like that…

    As for dishes, I like cleaning them. I’ll even polish the cutlery. And clean the kitchen after each use. Mostly because I can’t tolerate greasy surfaces and clutter in the kitchen. I would gladly do the washing and cleaning up if I was a guest at someone’s home. I’ll be your kitchen hand but I will not ever bother the person cooking.


  2. hollawrites says:

    I hate washing dishes and I am very lucky to have a husband who does it for me. He cleans the bathrooms too. I do these things now and then, but when I had surgery years ago, he took over those tasks and never gave them up. Plus he’s a somewhat of a freak and whenever I do dishes he inspects the silverware to be sure I did a good job. I feel like if he doesn’t trust me to do the job, then he should do it.
    Loved your post, by the way. The kitchen is headquarters at our house.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Oh, lucky you! Not to have surgery, but to have someone to help you out. I agree that if someone is picky about a job, he or she should do it personally.

      I agree about the headquarters.

      Thank you so much for stopping by!


  3. Katie says:

    Nice post! Hope that pan stopped giving you all that trouble after the second soaking, Ana! ๐Ÿ™‚ Around here I do most of the dishes and clean up from cooking. If we have people over Rob tends to cook most of the meal and I clean up after. I really don’t mind usually. Put on some tunes or the tele and work away. It goes pretty fast.

    We always tend to gather in the kitchen when we have family and friends over. Food does that to you. That whole breaking bread together thing is pretty nice I say! Enjoy! Many hugs,

    โค Katie


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      It was still a pain to scrub after the second soaking, but the bread was worth it. This time, though, I hope the bread doesn’t stick as much. And yes, breaking bread together is a wonderful way to make friendships.


  4. laurellasky says:

    I love to cook and now I wish I could wash some dishes but I fell on the tennis court and broke my wrist. The cast goes up to my elbow. The fun thing about it is my husband has to hook and unhook my bra. Right now he is washing the dishes. When life gives you lemons,
    make lemonade. LOL


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Ouch! We need our wrists for so many activities that I can’t imagine a broken one. I hope you heal very fast and get to enjoy washing dishes. ๐Ÿ™‚ Try not to get too naughty!

      Oh, and add a bit of sugar to your lemonade. Yum.


  5. Roz says:

    Hi Ana, I’m sorry I have missed some previous posts. I am horribly behind in blogland at the moment and trying to catch up.

    I love this. Ah yes, so many friendships formed and conversations in the kitchen. My OCD won’t allow me to ignore dirty dishes lol. I always have to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen straight away.



  6. Penelope says:

    Great post, Ana. I love the way you express profound things and weave them into the everyday. Such a sweet way of thinking about washing dishes ๐Ÿ™‚

    My attitude towards washing up depends on circumstances. When time is tight and things are stressful itโ€™s a pain. But other times itโ€™s quite a relaxing task… something to switch your brain off while doing.

    I very often do the previous nightโ€™s dishes when I get home from work, prior to making dinner. Itโ€™s possibly a stretch to say that I enjoy it, but it does satisfy something inside me and it acts as a kind of transition between work and off-time. It doesnโ€™t feel quite right when someone else takes the task off me.

    And itโ€™s kind of a fallback thing, an internal maxim… โ€˜if in doubt, do the washing upโ€™ ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Especially when times are difficult, mundane tasks ground us in life. In living. We need that reminder sometimes, don’t we?

      I never have an empty sink, ever. Not even after washing dishes. I always find something else that needed washing.

      I agree about the fallback thing. When life gets overwhelming and we don’t know what to do, we can always wash dishes. ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. catrouble says:

    LOL Ana…I loved reading the comments almost as much as I loved reading your post. I don’t like washing dishes but I don’t like having dirty dishes pile up either…I definitely need a house elf! LOL

    Oh and trashing stale baked goods = blasphemy! You can take old bread, cube it, mix with a bit of olive and and spices to make croutons. There are other things you can make with leftover cake also. Just let me know what flavor cake and if it is iced and I will give you some ideas. I can get very creative. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Hugs and Blessings…


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Ah well, *she* threw the cake away. Not me. I believe it was a cherry version. Many years ago. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I don’t like day-old cookies, and after that, forget it. That’s why I give goodies away.

      Thank you for the brownie removal suggestions today! ๐Ÿ™‚ I got a lot of compliments on them, and no one minded the odd shapes. We really do have nice quilting grannies. Hehe.


      • catrouble says:

        Hey Silly…you can warm cookies up in the oven, toaster oven or even microwave and they will taste fresh baked! I do the same with chips that are getting a bit stale. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Oh and you are very welcome…happy I could help. Your quilting grannies sound so lovely!


        • Anastasia Vitsky says:

          *shudder* Day old cookies. I’d rather make a fresh batch. This is why my friends are not always thrilled to have me visit…I’m very good at fattening them up. ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ve also learned to make smaller batches at a time so they’re more likely to get eaten up in a day or two. Nothing tastes fresh baked except for fresh baked! I wasn’t thrilled about baking the brownies last night instead of this morning, but I was worried I wouldn’t have enough time today.

          And yes, lovely. ๐Ÿ˜€ Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the jello shots. LOL.


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