The Land Without Dishwashers*

When we first wandered through the house that was to become our permanent home, a few things stood out to me. One of them was the green linoleum in the kitchen. Another was the charming archways between the downstairs living areas. Another was the unfortunate bathroom situation upstairs—a bathtub less than four inches from the front of the toilet bowl, for example, making it impossible to, well, sit on the toilet.

What I don’t remember is whether it struck us, during that first walk-through, or the second, or the third, that the kitchen did not have a dishwasher.

Maybe we noticed at the time and decided it didn’t matter. Maybe we thought we’d remodel the kitchen someday and be able to squeeze one in. Maybe.

Regardless, our little, green-lineoleumed, oddly-shaped kitchen does not have a dishwasher or room to add one. As a result, one of us spends a great deal of time in front of the sink, washing dishes, and the truth is that it’s rarely me. (This qualifies as yet another reason why my husband is awesome.)

If you’re wondering what the heck this has to do with community, bear with me.

You see, not having a dishwasher has caused some confusion at our monthly potlucks over the last year, though it’s finally getting a bit better. We’ve learned to fill the sink with soapy water before the potluck starts, clear out the drying rack, and encourage people to wash their own dishes. Easy, right?

No, not so easy.

Every month there is always a bit of confusion as to how one washes dishes: whether to use the sponge or the washcloth, when the water is in need of draining, where one scrapes the food from the plates–if one scrapes the food at all–whether the dishes need to be dried and put away.

Usually, by the end, someone just jumps in and washes the growing, unclaimed pile beside (or in) the sink, while I try to stay out of the way as long as possible.

My own frustration at this confusion over how to wash dishes (I’m petty, I know) has gotten me to thinking, though, and I’ve realized a handful of reasons how not having a dishwasher can actually teach us a lot about community.

And that, my friends, sure sounds like the beginning of a blog series.

* The Land Without Dishwashers blog series first appeared 
here at Texas Schmexas in December of 2011. Enjoy!


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