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Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Day the Music Died

Well my dishwasher died today. I am not surprised as it has been making a funny noise and the last time I had the repair man out he told me not to call him anymore but to let nature take its course next time....

The reason I am not upset about this is because a serious kitchen remodel is looming on my horizon and the more "dead" appliances I have out of the way the better to make room for all the bright shiny new ones right?

Ever look at how you react to an event in your life and compare it to a time in the past when the same type of event occurred? Ever happen to notice that your current reaction is more tempered and steady than your younger self would have reacted? I guess that is one way to tell that we are not static in our own lives isn't it?

Like a litmus test of adaptability to the changing circumstances we find ourselves in.

When my first dishwasher died I was a veritable wreck. If I had known about blogging then I'm sure I would have blogged on for days about it. As it was I still wrote about it.

As a fitting memorial service for this currently demised dishwasher I thought I would post the story of my first brush with dishwasher death and the profound effect it had on me then, versus my grief less self of today. What a difference a few years makes!

Be back later - I'm off to look at dishwashers!

The Day the Music Died
written in 2000

I am having a love affair.

It is with my dishwasher.

I admit it. It is my favorite appliance! Sure, a microwave "nukes" and a dryer "dries", but my dishwasher?

It must go back to my small town southern upbringing. On warm summer nights after dinner, I would be busily engaged trying to catch fireflies in an old pickle jar and the call would come......"time to do the dishes...." Ugh! Mountains of cold greasy dishes.

Eventually my family bought a dishwasher that was stored by the washer and dryer and then grandly rolled to center stage in front of the kitchen sink each night. I would load it and hook its tubes to the kitchen faucet and Viola! It would actually wash dishes. Later I would unload it and roll it back out of the way into the laundry room where it would spend its day as a handy folding counter. As an adult, both of my homes, first a mobile home and later a vintage farmhouse did not include, guess what? Many nights I washed dishes with babies sitting around my ankles while I threw them bubbles. Later pouting teenagers glared at each other over "their night" to wash and dry. Still later my husband and I glared at each other over the dishes while growing kids were out stretching curfews!

So it was with my obvious delight that for our 18th anniversary my husband ripped out a kitchen cabinet to make room and Sears installed a BEAUTIFUL dishwasher. Total instant love! With only two kids left at home now I had gone back to work and the days had a rhythm. Come home, fix dinner, help with homework, return phone calls, hectic evening. Kiss kids good night, flip off lights, sort mail, load dishwasher, take a shower- get out, start dishwasher, hmm......that sound of rain in a box.

Quiet house,day over. A mug of tea or a glass of wine. The dishwashers OM became my mantra for "end of day". Shutting the door and hearing the whoosh - water running in - every muscle relaxed, my bones jellied. The perfect ending of a day.

Then one ordinary and horrible day, my "alter" I mean "dishwasher," BROKE! If I started it? Water poured on to the kitchen tile. My husband in his ultimate wisdom said "Don't use it for now."

For now?

Monday night basketball practice, working late, pick up kids, pasta for dinner, kitchen a mess......OK! Bite the bullet; you can do this I tell remember how. I plug the drain. Fill the sink with hot water and squeeze in soap. Pile in dishes....I cant believe I've come to this.

Quiet kitchen, of course not one member of my family would come in here now!

I'd forgotten all about looking out the window over the sink at dusk. You cant do that when your bent over a dishwasher. I see an inky blue sky with a smattering of early stars. The rough familiar outline of trees in the backyard. Our yellow lab turns a tight circle three times and lays down with a soft heave, head on paws she looks in the window at me. I smile back. Pulling clean forks out of hot soapy water my mind drifts to when I was ten and my job was to put the clean silverware away. I always pretended the silverware drawer with its divided slots was a cash register. I would sort the forks knives and spoons into their respective spots pretending they were money and I ran the cash register at some really cool place - like McDonald's....

Now, I let the warm soapy water soothe my tired hands. I had forgotten how it feels to stand on the soft rug at the kitchen sink, my hands and wrists plunged in warm water. It warms the back of my neck. Peace creeps up my fingers to my elbows, my shoulders....

I catch myself looking soft in the now darkened glass of the kitchen window. I swirl my hand through the water, no more dishes. Just a clean shiny stack of plates and glasses, drying on the counter.

I pull the plug, listen to the soft sucking gurgle and feel....relaxed.

I used to keep hand lotion near the sink. Now I go find it. My hands are unbelievably pink, soft and supple. I rub the lotion in. It feels wonderful.

I go into the den to say goodnight to my son, hunched over the computer. I touch his face with the back of my fingers. "Don't stay up late sweetie" I say and stifling a yawn I turn away. "Your hands feel nice Mom" he says distractedly without looking up. I smile. He is right. My hands do feel nice. My attitude feels nice.

We will get the dishwasher fixed, but there's no hurry.


  1. Hi Indie-
    I liked how you took us back to the simple days again. This time it is enjoying washing dishes and looking out to see everything in it's place and how soothing it is. that was a nice picture.
    dishwashers: I can take 'em or leave 'em. That's all there is to my story. But yours came alive with memories. Loved it!

  2. Ah, Indie, you nailed it with your thoughts running while you wash those dishes! it's been over 13 years since i had my own dishwasher. our kitchen isn't very big and we won't sacrifice cupboard space.

    i actually like doing dishes for all the reasons you outlined. of course, my view from the kitchen window is completely different being as i live in a city, but i like to keep an eye on things. there's usually always something going on out there.

    at around new year there will be youngsters running around with fireworks which is of course incredibly dangerous, yet allowed. i'll watch them while doing dishes.

    across the road there is a Turkish men's club. this isn't disruptive at all as there's no alcohol. the gents who come and go drink their tea and, as far as i can tell, watch television which i would believe is satellited in from their native country. i think they also drink tea and partake of snacks and TALK. discussions go on until early morning — i've sometimes seen they're there at 5 a.m.

    the other thing to watch while washing my dishes is the parade of folks going next door 5 times a day from sunrise to sunset, for next door is a mosque — handy for the men's club, eh?

    there's always something going on there. a couple of weeks ago there was an event which brought some beautifully and colourfully dressed folk in a traditional carriage drawn by two horses. this gave the children immense joy as they determined to run along the road after. i even had to leave my dishes and follow through my flat to peer out of another window overlooking the mosque backyard. i returned to my dishes and got to see a steam of more people going next door.

    looking through the kitchen window while doing dishes through all kinds of weather gives me a chance for my thoughts to really wander. i'm not sure that even if there were to be space magically appearing in the future i'd bother with a dishwasher.

    and then there is the idea of saving the planet, isn't there? i'm sure there'll be statistics somewhere telling how dishwashers will be the living end of us all and we're all doomed. i'm not sure how your one little dishwasher will bring the planet to a grinding halt, but you can rely on getting someone knowledgeble to impart what you are personally doing toward our destruction.

    so i leave it in your soapy hands to muse upon the necessity of a new machine while i clear up after breakfast.

    thank your so much for today's blog which prompted a torrent of an overabundance of verbiage from myself this fine morning here in Hamburg, Germany. :)

  3. Oh, i'm not annonymous at all — i get stressed out trying to figure out what this blog set-up wants from me and find it hard to be posted as Floh!

    perhaps i have too many soap bubbles in my head . . .

  4. I'm determined this won't beat me! i plunged my hands into oapy water and hope it's worked its magic.

  5. hello floh, thank you for giving us your observations from your kitchen window. very intriguing. i think the word that decribes how i felt reading about all the going's on from outside your window is mesmerizing. you brought us a taste of a world whose pace seems slower and easier than ours here in the u.s. keep on writing. thanks

  6. Thanks, marmie!

    today is a slow day outside as it's a national holiday called Pfingstmontag or Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday (also known as Monday of the Holy Spirit) — i copied that from Wikipedea, ha!

    but the club is still open — the members appreciate a holiday as much as the next person. i often wonder if they've been given leave by their wives to abandon house an home to spend their free time with their bloke friends, or if they just simply take what they want with no question? of course, it may be all club members are single, but i don't think so.

    next door outside our other window to the Mosque back yard, there's a team fixing up some shelves and furniture in the yard on this free day. doing some repairs, it would seem. and a fair few children at play.

    when i first moved here the building housed a steak restaurant and a sun studio. it hasn't always been a Mosque. there is no call to prayer 5 times a day (or even once) as opposed to the chimes of the church opposite. i wonder if that will change in the future? the church is well loud. i like it.

    we've been concentrating on inside work today although the weather outside is warm. 25°C/77°F. the 400 litre (105,66882 US gallon) fish tank needed attention and our 11 (or 12, one may be hiding) different sweet water tropical fish needed a clean out.

    right now SO is trying his hand at making bread, bless. he's already asked me for instructions on how to use my prized KitchenAid. i hope he gets on with the rest of it by himself because it will be good for him. but woe betide him if he breaks my valued machine. :)

    i hope Indie returns to read out scribbles. :D

  7. We have many more than 11 or 12 fish! 11 or 12 species, i meant. :D

  8. Just to add, there's a lot to be said about shoe shelves, which is what i'm seeing as the shoe shelves which are being fixed up next door. of course, shoes are discarded on entering a mosque, which is what the shelves are. i'd like some of those shoe shelves myself, as it happens.

    as neighbours we're invited, once a year, to attend the mosque open evening. the evening always provides the most gorgeous morsels and amply appreciable food for guests. how lucky we are.

  9. Hi Floh,

    Nice to see you here! Thank you for trying so hard to log in and post your comments. I love, love, love, hearing about your Bavarian world. It all sounds so far removed from what I know and am familiar with.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I hope you will return to paint your beautiful word pictures often!


  10. Be careful — the Northern Germans would be horrified to hear themselves lumped in with Bavarians, whom they claim are not German at all, lol!

    looking very much forward to more words from you on your beautiful blog.

  11. I love Germany. It was a German company that helped us go from a consulting firm to a manufacturing company many years ago. We had just introduced our first electronic pipeline instrument to the market when we got a call from them. It had been a huge struggle for us to get that far because we could not design products for our old clients since there might be a conflict of interest. And we were so small. The company wanted us to design an instrument that they needed badly because their current equipment was so out dated. Then they wanted us to build it for them exclusively and we would retain the rights to it but would not sell it to their competitors as long as they purchased a set number of units per year. It was a huge opportunity for us.

    Our son, Jason, went to Germany to negotiate the terms of the agreement and the technical requirements. Every time he called home he complained about the administrator, Thomas, who was unyielding and unreasonable. But the technical people kept pushing for the project because they needed it so badly. Jason came home and we had serious doubts that we would be able to do the project because of Thomas. He sent us a contract, the size of a Sears Christmas catalog. I read it and just as Jason had said much of it was unreasonable. I marked the provisions that I would not agree to and returned it. He sent a new one. I marked it and returned it. Back and forth, back and forth. Finally, Thomas and three engineers made a trip to Oklahoma to work out the contract.

    For days we worked on the contract and Thomas and I could not agree on the terms. I was not liking working with this man! On about the 3rd day I reported to the conference room for that day’s contract hassle pushing a cart of every type of drink that anyone of us might want for the day. Cokes, water, Ice tea, even the cokes with orange juice to mix with it. I asked Thomas, “What would you like?” Then he said, “hot tea.” It was the one thing that I did not have! I did the most unprofessional thing! I stomped my foot at the man and said, “Leave it to you to want the ONE thing that I do not have. Just make a selection from what is on the cart.” A big smile came on Thomas’ face. After that, he was good to work with.

    We worked on the contract for another half day without resolving some of the minor issues. Finally I said, “ Look, Thomas, a purchase order is a legal contract. Why don’t you issue a PO with the provisions that we have agreed to on it and we will do this deal with a handshake.” We agreed and the technical people were relieved. Over the course of the next few years the Germans did exactly what they said they would do and we did, too, and the project was a success for both of us.

    When Thomas got home he called me. He said he knew we were small and new to manufacturing and would have to hire and train a lot of people. He said to send him an invoice for 25% of each order that they placed with us and he would pay it up front.
    When I learned that he liked to cook I sent him an Oklahoma Indian cookbook and he sent me a cookbook from his region in Germany. Stutensee. We exchanged Christmas traditions and recipes. I miss Thomas. We lost touch when his company was sold and then sold again and he moved out of the industry. They are still a customer today, but are a part of General Electric.

  12. Surely as the city Thomas came from is a part of Baden-Württemberg the cookbook will contain my favourite "Swabian speciality" Spätzle!ätzle

  13. Yes, several recipes are in the book. The one he sent me is Swabia, a culinary tour. In the back of the book I have the note that he sent. He suggested that I try the Kasespatzie, but I have not.

  14. Oh but you must! absolutely delicious. i think, anyway. {big smile of encouragement!}