Stories

I’m In Love…With A Dishwasher.

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Mimicry isn’t always the best form of flattery.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, even cute little memes on Facebook are shoving gratefulness down my throught. I’m being told why, what and who I should be grateful for. Not to mention the hundreds of posts sharing what and who other people are thankful for. Every. Single. Day. On Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Television commercials. Billboards. The radio.

Don’t take me wrong. I am grateful. My husband. My kids. Our home. But I say it (or show it) every day, year round. It goes without saying. But it’s the little things that I forget to appreciate. And although I’ve had enough self control to avoid mentioning it online and sounding like a complete and total weirdo (until now)… I love our dishwasher.

No, this isn’t a blog version of Desperate Housewives. I’m not jonesing for some shirtless sexy hired help who washes dishes in our palatial, professionally decorated -yet “middle class”- home. :::Pffffffffffffft::: That would be ridiculous! No, I’m talking about a machine. A dishwashing machine.

And no, I’m not joking.

Over the years, my husband and I had grown accustomed to the convenience of dishwashers and never appreciated it. Our tiny, crappy first apartment had one. When we bought our house in Pleasanton I borrowed money from my grandparents to replace the broken one. When we moved to the apartment downtown, it came with a brand new dishwasher. When we stayed with family, they had one too. It wasn’t until we moved to Rancho Hurtado that we lost that luxury.

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It was such a cute farmhouse kitchen… but lacked a few big appliances.

It was a much bigger adjustment than I had anticipated. Every day (three times a day) I prepped and cooked meals for four adults and two children, which in itself was exhausting. But then the dishes needed to be hand washed, dried and put away. It felt like I was always either cooking or washing dishes. Or hanging laundry on the line (we had a washer but no dryer). Eventually we resolved to take turns doing the dinner dishes so I wouldn’t be up late every night. Still, it was exhausting.

When we finally left Rancho Hurtado a little over a year later, it was to relocate our family to a rural cabin in the mountains. At the cabin we lived completely off the grid. We had a tiny propane fridge, woodburning stove, limited solar power …and no dishwasher (or washing machine, dryer, garbage disposal, functioning water heater or trash pickup).
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One of the rare moments the sink at the cabin wasn’t full of dishes: Thawing a frozen gallon of milk by using slotted spoons to rotate it in cool water…Why? Because it was a hot day and this game kept the boys busy for hours!

In the end, the grind of handwashing dishes became second nature. It was our daily routine. And it would be three long years before a dishwasher became a part of our household again. In fact, I’ll never forget the day that our oldest son (then 4-years-old) discovered dishwashing machines for the first time.

I was nine months pregnant with our daughter and the two hour drive (on a treacherous ungraded road) from the cabin to town was proving a real risk as my due date inched closer. This became especially concerning when repeated snow storms made the road completely inaccessible for weeks at a time. Luckily we were blessed to have a friend who offered us use of their family cabin in town until it was safe to return home. It was there, in “the blue cabin” that Charlie discovered the miracle of dishwashers. I recorded the conversation in a Facebook update:

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And just in case that image isn’t loading, here is the Facebook status typed up:

“***Charlie was watching me loading the dishwasher***

CHARLIE: “Is that a cabinet for dirty dishes?”

ME: “No. It’s actually a machine that washes dirty dishes.”

CHARLIE (skeptical): “Nooooo…stop joking with me. Why you putting dishes in there?!”

ME: “I’m not joking. It’s a ‘dishwasher’ machine. You load it with dirty dishes and put special soap in it and it washes the dishes for you.”

CHARLIE (shocked): “WOW!!!! Like a magic robot!!!!! We should get a ‘dishwasher machine’ for our house too!!!! WOW!!!”

Now he’s walking around talking to himself under his breath: “It washes the dishes *for you*. Wow…”

***Mind. Blown.***”

The five weeks we spent at the blue cabin felt like a luxury vacation. I had forgotten how incredibly convenient modern appliances were. I suddenly found myself with free time and could actually do things besides cooking, cleaning and hanging laundry.

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The “magic robot” itself with JD standing in front of it. Notice the Halloween costume that I sewed in my newly discovered *luxurious* free time.

Eventually we went home to our cabin and quickly adapted back to our routine of dish scrubbing, laundry hanging, wood chopping, fire stoking, bath water boiling and changing nighttime diapers by candlelight. Baby Evie was a year and a half old before our circumstances changed and we fould ourselves relocating again. This time though, things were working in our favor.
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We moved to an apartment! In town! With a dishwasher!!

We’ve been in our apartment for over a year now and not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for the conveniences that we enjoy here. Having our own “magic robot” is a huge part of that equation. Every time I’m feeling too tired or overwhelmed to load (or unload) the dishwasher, I try to remind myself to be grateful I don’t have to handwash everything. I’m just grateful to live in the age of dishwashers in general. I mean three years was a long time to go without one but I can’t imagine the struggles of women throughout history, when their social roles were tied to the household and the constant grind of cooking, cleaning and washing …and dishwashers weren’t even invented yet. No wonder they look so darn happy in all the old photos and advertisements for early dishwasher models!

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I need to keep reminding myself: “At least I don’t have to wear a corset while I load the dishes…”

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…Or heels. At least I don’t have to wear heels!

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…Or a corset AND heels!

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And at least I don’t have to do dishes while wearing a…WOAH! I’m not sure what she’s wearing here. Some kind of giant-haired golden goddess costume? Well, okay. Maybe I’d be willing to wear *that* one.

So yeah, I love my dishwasher. And I’ll especially appreciate it on Thanksgiving when I’m *not* handwashing the pots and pans from a turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, gravy, pie and all the fixings. Not to mention the flatware, plates and glasses from serving the food. It’s probably going to be a two-load holiday. Maybe the husband will even offer to do the dishes for me. And maybe, just maybe, I won’t make him wear the golden goddess costume while he does it. We’ll see.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
From the Milligan Family

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