Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Tale of Paper Plates and Bassoon Lessons

by Elizabeth

So my dishwasher is broken, which kind of sucks. Oh spoiled woman of the twenty-first century, right? But my life includes a dishwasher, and a lot of dishes, which makes the dishwasher extremely convenient. Sure, I realize it's all new-fangled and that Laura Ingalls Wilder lived her whole life without one, but before you judge me for my dependence on this handy device, recall she also lived probably forty years without the benefit of toilet paper, too. Judge not, right?

Anyway: dishwasher. Generally I run it in the middle of the night (durn thing is a brand famous for its silence but it fails in this, as well as in many of its other supposed merits), and a week or so ago, I got up in the morning to discover the dishes still icky and two inches of brownish water in the bottom of the machine, and no power to the thing at all. A plumber's visit later, it is revealed I'll need a new control board. Which will take two to ten business days to get in. (Really? Two to ten business days? From a plumber!?) Fine, fine. I went out, got paper plates galore, figured I'd wash the silverware by hand and whatever mixing bowls and pots I was forced to use. The microwave would be a closer buddy than usual. I could survive.

Look! My dishes! O I miss you...
It happily took less than ten business days, and Monday morning the plumber came back, installed the new control panel, and: ta! da! Dishwasher still dead. "I'll have to order another part," he said, and you guessed it: two to ten business days.

So here I am over a week later, still no dishwasher, scrubbing the flatware by hand and running low on the paper goods. Standing over the sink with a fistful of suds, it occurred to me that we generate a lot of cleaning. Should I give in and just use plastic forks and spoons? Or give in and not bother washing until every eating utensil in the drawer has landed in the sink? Let it pile up? But no: that would be daunting. Because it does pile up, and fast, and if I wait until even lunchtime, much less until night, to tackle the dirty bowls and knives, my sink and counter are cluttered up with them more rapidly than I can believe.

Which of course, got me thinking about writing. Those yogurt spoons and jam knives and salad forks, little as they are, little as they require to get clean, are something. And a day's worth of them is more than a little something, it gets to be quite a lot. Just as a little word scribbled in the carpool lane, or while waiting for the bassoon lesson to end, add up to quite a lot, too. Sure, a few words here and there are not much, but when compiled over time, even not very much time, they are something.

So tonight I threw away the paper plates and aluminum pan I cooked the potatoes in, ran the soaped up scrub brush over the grill pan and silverware, rinsed off the colander and set it all out to dry, and then I sat down and scrawled a few words in my WIP. Just a little, enough to feel satisfying, I got out what it was I felt moved to write tonight. And even as the pile next to the sink, now dry and back in cupboards and drawers, is dissipating, so the notebook with my current project is fattening up, little by little. It won't be done in two to ten days, nope, but it will be done, bit by bit.

The dishwasher? Man, it had better be fixed soon. Or that plumber is going to...I guess nothing. Or maybe be an unfortunate victim in my book. That'll teach him to misdiagnose my appliances.

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