A New Blog in an Old Space; Also, Washing Dishes Like A True Heroine

Well, it’s obvious that this blog in its present format has been more or less squeezed out of my life. I’ve become actually busy, something I thought would never happen to someone like me.

Normally what would happen at this point is that I’d shut the blog down and then months from now when I became especially excercised about some new issue or felt that I’d moved on to a new stage in my life I would open a new blog. I think I’m done with that pattern. Nearly twenty-seven years old is no time to hold on to the flighty habits of youth. Some of you are laughing right now but I assure you I feel almost decrepit. The passing of time and the ebb of my life ‘s tide look back at me every morning from the mirror.

What then to do? Well, I think it’s time for me to alter my style of blogging to fit the new person I’ve become. I think I will begin to think of this blog as a series of letters to my readers. If there are only five of you (in fact, I suspect that is the case) well, writing every morning a letter to five people is hardly a worthless act.

It is almost civilized, in fact.

Dear friends, I wish to speak to you today about dishes.

Not least because, as soon as I had typed the word ‘dishes’ I leapt up at the smell of orange-scented dish soap – that pungent scent which had been prodding the doorbell of my olfactories for the last minute or so and finally broke through – and found my darling, my heart’s own, Johnny, standing at the sink washing a pot I had left to soak. Being the thourough-going soul he is, Johnny, it seems, had felt deeply the necessity of not being parsimonious with the soap. Half a bottle, he must have felt, was no great sacrifice to ensure the volume of bubbles needed to make a success of such a venture.

The entire sink, not to mention the pot, was coated in a thick orange slime that could be seen, however, only momentarily when spraying water directly on any given spot. Doing so, however, only increased the volume of bubbles so I judged cleaning the sink to be a self-defeating measure and came back to my blog and there it sits at this moment. Johnny is now rooting around in our crowded little living room for all the pennies he strew about last night. I am typing and mostly ignoring the mountain of bubbles in the sink. I feel quite smug about it. It’s lovely to let something sit when it doesn’t smell too bad and you have a really good excuse for not attending to it.

What I was originally going to write about was something of the opposite nature – letting things sit when you have absolutely no excuse at all and it smells really awful.

Is there any decent person, you ask, who would do such a thing.


Should I wax philosophical about this and explain how for me dishwashing has long been the symbol of facing my own mortality and The Circle of Despair in which human life is so often entangled? Or should I just confess that I never developed good housekeeping habits and that when I see dirty dishes in the sink I tend to ignore them, knowing that even when I do take courage in hand and wash them all, the same pile will await me again in three days?


Maybe I should just admit that no decent person would ever do what I’ve been doing for the last three years, and that really I’m not all that decent of a person in some ways.

So why I am inflicting on you all, dear readers, the anguish of an aging girl’s self-blame? Aha! I had you fooled. This is not the story of defeat, my friends.

This is the story of one woman’s triumph over the forces of dried cheese and hardened gravy.

 It all started when we moved here to The Fish’s Mouth. (What I call this gray rainy coastline town, partly because it is gray and rainy and partly because when it rains, it smells like lakeweed.)

My dear husband aka Scottie, was worried about the financial and digestive effects of eating at Taco Bell every day, so I agreed to make him a sandwich in the morning and send it with him to work. Whole-grain bread, real cheese, fake cheese, lettuce and mustard and beef and onion – this was my sandwhich. Cutting the onion and lettuce was the most time-consuming part of the process. And when your husband is standing at the door waiting for his sandwhich to be ready you do not want to be digging under a pile of soiled dishes for the cutting board.

One morning I washed the board and the knife and put them back in their places immediately after making the sandwhich. I had not though such a thing possible before, so great was my emotional resistance to dishwashing under any but the most extreme necessity. But we had spent three weeks living in the paradise of Scottie’s grandmother’s well-ordered house, and something of her cheery acceptance of the fact that dishes must be washed rubbed off on me.

For five months I did this – making the sandwhich and then washing the board and knife. There were never any clean bowls or spoons or cups or plates, but I always had what I needed to make the sandwhich.

And then we came, last month, within three weeks of the end of our chatecumenate. Efforts to purify one’s soul can begin to seem hollow when one’s house is in nearly equal need of purification. One day it occurred to me that if I did not have the wherewithal to keep the entire house in order I might at least prevent anything nasty from accumulating in the sink. I began reporting my progress on facebook as, one day after another, I declined to let a single soiled dish rest on the bottom of my shiny white sink.

I am that woman, dammit! I whispered to myself, whirling an applesauce-laden bowl under warm, clear, running water. Take that! I chortled, and brushed breadcrumbs from a plate. This feels good, I said, and Ha Ha Ha! I said, as one dish after another barely touched the bottom of the sink before being whisked off to the dishwasher.

And confronted with that former bane of sanity, the cheesy spoon, I did not scorn the expense but snatched a whole sheet of paper towel and uncheesed the spoon. Pop! it went into the dishwasher. Day after day I laid waste to chaos and unreason and filth.

It has now been nearly four weeks since I let any soiled dish sit in the sink or any clean dish sit in the dishwasher. Dear readers, I am now washing dishes without thinking about it. I am even washing dishes without contemplating The Circle of Despair.  You can talk about your miracles of being freed from the addiction of alchohol and tobacco and drugs, and I will praise the Maker with you any day of the week. But leave a spot open in the choirs of the ransomed for the woman who washed her dishes.


Dear readers, now that I have finished that paean of self-praise I am thinking I should maybe go and clean all the soap out of the sink, and as the dishwasher finished its cycle while I was typing, well, I have business to attend to she said gently but with a gleam of noble purpose in her far-cast eye.

I do hope this reading finds you well and that your Christmas was both holy and lovely. We had family Christmas on the 25th like everyone but still have liturgical Christmas ahead of us, as does Elizabeth in Alaska and a number of others. To the rest of you; Christ is born!


  1. Well Alana, as one of your readers (and I’ve never even met you, and am unlikely to ever meet you – not even in your hemisphere or continent) I am so happy for your progress. I’m taken a similar journey over the last few years, except that I have finally learned to take control of the dishes at the point where I am pregnant with my fifth child. You can imagine the mess that has greeted me each morning over the last few years. My new rule is that dishes must be done before lunch, and again before bed.

    Again, congratulations on your chrismation and I look forward to your letters!


  2. We truly must be related in some way, for dishes have long been my bane. Alas, I have only partially conquered my greatest housekeeping challenge… the dishwasher is run regularly and emptied promptly, but pots and pans tend to sit, soaking on the stove, until they are needed again…

    We are so looking forward to Nativity and saying again, Christ is born!


  3. Your description of ‘cheery acceptance’ may fit my mindset more often than mortal despair when it comes to dish washing, but darn it all, I have had more than my share of pots soaking until the next time they’re needed. Tis a short-lived satisfaction that comes from freshly washed dishes, so on the whole I supposed I’ve always tried not to think about the stuff too much.

    But onward and upward: here’s to continued triumph… for all of us!


  4. I, too, have struggled with dishes – and lots of other piles of things that will be tedious to finish. I think it is terrific that you have reached a certain cheery acceptance at this point in life, while you still have a toddler. I think it took me longer than that. Even now, I sometimes roll my eyes as I keep my rule of ‘finish dishes before bedtime – no mess in the mornings.’

    I once had an idea of holding a ‘dreaded task’ party – I could have it in a big work area, and everyone could bring their piles of things they didn’t want to do. A room full of women working away – but with a certain companionship in suffering that would make the dreaded task an excuse for getting together. I never have put that party together, since organizing parties is a dreaded task for me… what a shame 🙂


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