At your house, is the dishwasher a mechanical thing or a human being?
In my grandmother's kitchen there was a sink with a large backsplash that was nestled in the corner of the kitchen. I loved that sink because you could splash all you liked and it did not do any damage. The spigot allowed a hot, cold or warm water setting. Many nights were spent at the sink where we visited as we did the dishes. Usually grandma washed and I dried, but at times my mother took grandma's place. At any rate it was the place where we talked about our day.
Doing the dishes was also when I learned to sing harmony. When I was left alone I sang along with the radio. Instead of singing the melody, I tried to harmonize. That skill came in handy when I joined the chorus at school. I know that it is difficult for many people to sing their part if someone is singing something different.
Since I was a student I talked about what happened at school and what homework I had. My mother was not one to check each and every assignment. By the time I was in high school, I was on my own and that was how it was supposed to be. If I was going on to college I had to become independent.
Since I was an only child there were no arguments about whose turn it was to do the dishes. It was always my turn.
I guess there were dishwashers in grandma's day, but she had no interest in them. Grandma had a very simple kitchen but it was very functional. There were no fancy appliances and no wasted space. She used every little space she had.
Grandma did not mind washing dishes by hand. I feel the same way. I do not generate enough dishes anymore to warrant installing a dishwasher. I even find that I let the dishes accumulate for a day or two to conserve water. Of course, the dishes are always rinsed.
That is another thing about dishwashers. Before dishes can be placed into the dishwasher they must be rinsed. If you are going to do that you might just as well wash them.
When the farm kitchen was revamped grandma bowed to the powers that be. She installed a dishwasher because the designer recommended it. In the years that she used the kitchen you could probably count on your fingers the times that she actually needed a dishwasher. The dishwasher took up valuable storage space as far as I am concerned and as we later discovered the various parts disintegrated from lack of use. When my children moved into the house one of the first things they had to purchase was a new dishwasher.
When I refurbished my kitchen the designer recommended that I install a dishwasher. By that time it was just me in this house so I did not feel it was necessary. She placed a cupboard that would easily interchange with a dishwasher beside the sink so that if I ever changed my mind it would make for a simple installation.
I tried to research the pros and cons of dishwashers, but I could not find anything about energy use or the amount of water that it takes per cycle. All that the reviews of various models said was they were energy efficient. I just do not know what that means.
When I entertain, I usually just stack my dishes until the guests leave. I do not want to waste precious visiting time around the kitchen sink. I have even begun to entertain with paper plates so the children do not feel guilty about leaving me with all of the work.
Back in my growing up years doing the dishes was a social occasion. A lot of decisions were made in the kitchen while we did the dishes. The ladies of the house talked about what needed to be done the next day. Plans and decisions were made to get them done.
While my children were growing up doing the dishes was a social event as well. I washed and usually my daughter dried. The dishes fell to her since my son was at the barn doing chores. She also ended up with the making lunch detail. There were no dishes sitting around to air dry. Everything was always put away after we finished the meal. Even when we fed the hayers, we did the dishes before we turned off the kitchen lights for the evening.
The one exception was during canning season. Canning sessions seemed to extend quite late into the evening. I often left the canner until the next morning because it was too hot to handle before bedtime.
My girls prefer dishwashers. My daughter-in-law grew up with one. My daughter does not have one at this point but when she finishes with her kitchen there will be one installed. I know when you work out of the home and try to maintain a home as well, dishwashers have become one of the necessities of life, but I cannot help but feel that valuable talking time is sacrificed. If you are not conversing over the dishes these days be sure that you find another way to fill that void. It is a very important process in the making of a family.
Authorities have been quoted saying something similar to, "The family that finds time to eat together is a much healthier one."
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.