Thinking about Dishes—owning, using, washing, incorporating them into peaceful living

Joanne Lopers:

I love dishes. Fifteen years and no dishwasher. I might have loved them a little more before I started working but even after a long day they don't make me angry. I think I did a lot of contemplating at the dish station. I love that my house can be a disaster and I can still be at peace.

An unschooling mom living in the bush in the Yukon wrote wrote:
I need to breathe and ... get my priorities a bit straight in some areas again. Like, there's no point in letting the dishes pile up to try to make a point. What point? Who cares?
Because it was part of discussion of the house being a big happy mess, but the moms seemed somewhat stressed, some discussion of dishwashing came along. Glenda/wtexans:
I like the kitchen clean before I go to bed, so I load and start the dishwasher if that's needed....

I don't expect my kiddo to do any housework. As a result of not having that expectation, it's a lovely gift to me when he totes his dirty clothes to the laundry hamper, and when he takes his dirty dishes to the kitchen before he goes to bed, and when he declutters his floor so I can walk through the room. Likewise, I consider it a gift to him when I make sure I have all the dirty clothes or dishes where they need to be to get clean, and when I declutter his floor so *he* can walk through it more easily.

If the dishes piling up is a bone of contention for you, what can you do to ease that? Maybe use disposable plates, utensils, and cups. Have more one-pot meals. Consider no-cook / low-cook options: sandwiches; hot dogs (the weiners can be grilled outdoors or broiled indoors on foil); crackers + cheese + fruit; cereal + fruit/juice + boiled eggs(you can boil a bunch one day then stash them in the fridge to grab as needed throughout the week) + heat-n-serve bacon; etc.

One of my kiddo's favorite late-night meals is nachos that I make in the toaster oven: piece of foil with tortilla chips on it, which I sprinkle generously with pre-shredded cheese -- takes 5 or 6 minutes, there's no clean-up, and it's filling. If I'm heading to bed, I don't mind making those for him on my way. He and I have come up with several late-night meals that I can make quick-n-easy for him when I'm headed to bed, that require no clean-up.


Sandra Dodd:

-=-Maybe use disposable plates, utensils, and cups. Have more one-pot meals. Consider no-cook / low-cook options: sandwiches; hot dogs...-=-
We have a paper bag near the trash all the time for greasy paper, so if someone microwaves a hot dog, or drains bacon on paper towels, that paper towel will be used to light a fire (fireplace or hot-tub stove). Paper plates that were used in the microwave, too.

Finding ways not to be grumpy about dishes is a good model and practice field for other choices in life. We use melamine plates most of the time. The heavy, breakable plates only come out occasionally. Four of the melamine plates fit in the same space as one of the "real" dinner plates. They're lighter and they stack.

We get our dishes from thrift stores, mostly. If one of them bugs me, it can go back to the thrift store.

Sometimes when a mom is really frustrated with doing the dishes, it can help to get rid of dishes with bad memories and connections, or put them in storage for a while. Happy, fun dishes with pleasant associations are easier to wash.


Deb Lewis expanded on that last idea:
Some of our dishes came from junk stores and flea markets, handmade pottery, old and funky. Some I made. Some my dad bought for me the last year he was sick. He wanted to thank me for getting him to radiation therapy and he did it with pretty Franciscan Ware. 🙂

I like washing those. I think about where they came from or when I made them. I think about what we were doing when we found them. A couple pieces we bought in a junk store in Palmer, Alaska the winter I was pregnant with Dylan. I have a bowl and pitcher from the Renaissance Fair in Anchorage. I think about my dad and how he used to start telling a funny story and laugh so hard he couldn't finish it.

I sometimes wash just what we'll need. If I'm going to work I make sure whoever's home will have what they need, clean and ready. I use paper plates during really busy times. I don't like the waste of disposable stuff and I don't believe the peace and love in my family will magically make up for too much garbage so mostly I wash the dishes we have, glad to have them, glad to have hot water enough to spend on getting pretty dishes clean.

Get a dishwasher. If you could buy happiness for a couple hundred dollars, a dishwasher might be it. You have a place to stash dirty dishes to get them out of your way (I use my oven) and you have a button to push when you want the dishes clean. Do that instead of feeling resentful or being tired. My dream is to someday have a dishwasher.🙂

We lived in Knik, Alaska. We had no plumbing. I heated water on the wood stove. It was a big deal to get a pile of dishes clean. I think of that now when I'm facing a stack of dishes. I can turn a knob and have hot water, pull a plug and let the water out the drain. It's so dang fancy! 🙂

Deb Lewis

Mentioned in that discussion; needs explanation:

Cucumber boat:

I read several people's directions to report on this. Scrape out some of a half a cucumber. Maybe cut the bottom flat so it will stay, maybe not. Maybe cut it in sections, maybe not. Put some other food inside it.

The prettiest pictures had copyrights noted, but if you follow this link you should get to see lots of pictures of variants on that. cucumber boat images

Lisa W. wrote:

We make zucchini boats—carve a trough down the middle, fill with misc. veggies, mushrooms, cheese, spices, bake till tender. YUM—this takes the big zucchinis from a garden. Most of the ones at the store are too small in diameter.

Ants on a log:

Celery, cut in short sections, filled with peanut butter, with raisins stuck on. If you're worried about peanut butter, try cream cheese. If you live where neither one is available, use something soft that kids like.

Eggo waffle:
Frozen waffles to be heated in the toaster. images here

I do love my dishes. I could tell a story about each thing in there. Full of memories and stories.

Sandra Dodd, facebook, October 17, 2017

Accidental art, seeing the beauty in randomness this morning, in the dishes I carried to the kitchen and set to soaking overnight.
All I moved was a pan handle that was in the way (turned it into the other sink) and a paper label that was set aside to throw away. Otherwise, candid art. 🙂
I like that there's one utensil in each dish, and they're all different directions.

This poem is by Zann Carter, one of the first other unschooling moms I met. More of her writing is here: Zann Carter

Zen Dishwashing

             by Zann Carter

Squeezing soap
into the steamy stream
of hot water, she dissolves
over the drifting sculpture
of white foam.
Her hands alone
keep the memory
of ritual-- she is absorbed
in an absence of thought
that frees her
to think.

In becoming
the task, she becomes
truly herself
and more.
Alive all at once,
full in the moment,
she breathes
without effort
in rhythms of wash
and rinse, detached
from casseroles past
and future.

Here in now,
she is the music
in the bells of the cups,
the silver shifting restlessly
in the sink.
She is the desire
of the cloth
for usefulness,
and knows the delight
of bubbles surprised
at their own existence.
Their whispery cries,
their vanishing,
are also her own.

On the windowsill,
frozen in mid-motion,
spun-glass creatures
pause endlessly
before the green view
of her contemplation,
a longing met
at last.
The tree out there,
growing always
despite the tangled disorder
of its branches and roots
moves her
from despair.

In no-time,
timeless time,
these dishes are done
that are never done
and greasy water
slides away,
She leans now to read
the random lay of debrix,
a prophecy spelled out
in bits of carrot
and rice,
the chance arrangement
of three peas
in the strainer.

—Zann Carter, ©1990

On November 7, 2018, Zann posted this to her facebook page. You can click the facebook icon on the video to go there, if you want to.
an accidental thing that happened when I was doing dishes. I discovered it was repeatable, and it intrigued me. I share it here in hopes that you, too, might find it intriguing.

I wrote a poem about dishwashing that had a line '..The music in the bells of the cups...'
Here is the beat in the bell of the ladle.

#sinkmusic #doingdishes #play #improvisation #serendipity

You Can Even Eat the Dishes

Hand-held foods:

  • sandwich
  • quesadilla (cheese melted between tortillas)
  • bell peppers
  • baked potato
  • mushrooms
  • zucchini
  • cantaloupe
  • celery
  • cabbage leaves (cabbage rolls)
  • bread bowls
  • naan
  • hot dog buns
  • corn tortillas / corn chips
  • pastry crust (like for spanakopita, or pie)
  • eggrolls
  • springrolls
  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • kabobs
  • popsicle
  • corn dog
  • pita bread
  • Eggo waffle
  • blintzes
  • blinis
  • crepes
  • crackers
  • ice cream cone
  • cookies to make ice cream sandwiches
  • deviled eggs
  • pizza
  • Chinese dumplings
  • sushi
  • pasties/meat pies
  • quiche
  • tarts
  • avocado (put fresh pico de gallo in the pit pocket and eat with chips)
  • chocolate covered cherries
  • chocolate covered strawberries (on sticks)
  • roasted chicken
  • bread bowl (with soup or dip)
  • little sausages on pretzel sticks
  • lettuce leaf with food rolled up in it
  • Tacos / taco salad
  • Pot pies -- make them in muffin tins and they become finger foods
  • Nori rolls
  • Collard green wraps
  • monkey platter [MANY ideas here]

thanks to Deb Lewis, Katherine Anderson, Joyce Fetteroll, Jenny Cyphers, Alex Polikowsky and kiabrice for most of these ideas

Monkey Platters (many people eat from one dish!)


"...as a gift"

Unschooling in Peace

"Laundry is love"

The section of The Big Book of Unschooling about washing dishes