I am on a writing retreat this weekend. Originally it was a retreat with a friend, but it turned out to be a retreat for just me. (I wish her a good weekend of peace and love tinged with a small amount of appropriate sadness that she is not here.) With only one retreatant to consider, plans have evolved to high levels of flexibility. The place I am staying became available sooner at the last minute, so I started my retreat twelve hours early.
Besides full kitchen and private bath, my quarters come with access to a state of the art kayak and nearby river, accessible bike paths and a slew of bikes to choose from. Anything I could wish for is in walking distance. My picturesque room overlooks a neighbor’s black paper roof in reasonably good condition. Couches in my sitting room are clean and comfortable. I am expected to take out the paper recycling on garbage day and give a one time drink of 1/4 cup of water to a very unpromising bit of green sticks who claim to be an ailing orchid. Presumably I am to do my own dishes, although that wasn’t mentioned. Besides that, I am tasked to sit quietly, write, rest, and eat.
My inaugural retreat meal last night was red pepper humus, cherry tomatoes, extra old cheddar cheese, a fat slice of homemade bread, and some red wine. Preparation: one minute. Clean up: approximately 15 seconds. Perhaps the wine was slowing me down. First deep consideration: How can no one in my family like hummus? First deep conclusion: There should really be more meals like this.
In keeping with good retreat etiquette, I’ll be out of commission and away from the blog until Wednesday, July 1. By that point, half of you will be celebrating Canada Day, which incidentally is much more retreat like than the bombastic chest thumping of the American 4th of July. So here’s to the written word, beauty, truth, the yearning need to create, mental health, rest, re-charging, and Canada. With a nod to them all, I am on retreat.
View from kitchen sink . . .only a month or so away!
We got rid of the dishwasher a few years ago. A friend of mine was anti-dryer and anti-dishwasher. The idea rubbed up against my pioneer worship issues and started making music. The husband put his foot down about the dryer. (I was welcome to hang clothes out all winter for the rest of our lives, but the dryer had to stay he said.) I won on the removal of the dishwasher.
He was right about the dryer. There are months I don’t have the emotional energy to hang clothes. I like doing clothes where it’s warm and toasty, even though the flick of that little dryer start button sends most of Hydro One (local power monopoly) and their extended families to University with our monthly contributions. Our support of Ontario’s economy via the energy sector is no doubt appreciated.
And I was right about the dishwasher. Loading a dishwasher, unloading a dishwasher . . . it’s nothing but rinsing and stacking and irritations about which way the silverware point. Dishes is life with background music. Kid’s doing homework, practicing their instruments, creating plays, and bar room brawls without the drinking. Done together, dishes are the best conversation of any day. Alone, dishes the day’s best thinking. Water, soap, and the things we eat from being taken care of, handled gently, and put away for another day.
I don’t know what I think of renewing wedding vows. I can’t see ever doing it. I think I do it most every day four or five times. These are our dishes, these are our counters. This is our home and we’re taking care of it. It matters because you do, and they do, and I do. Amen.
Not perfection. Not every speck in every corner of the house pristine. Laundry, by edict of God, has never once been finished. Any time you think you’ve done it, is only because you didn’t get low enough to find the dirty underwear under the bed, or think smart enough to find the dirty socks in the sandbox. But stray forks can be done up in seconds. Dishes can be finished – at least for a few hours.
In winter, the yellow gloves come out to save your cracking hands. Spring finds the window looking out on new lambs. Lilacs. Apple blossoms. Wildflowers. Sagging clotheslines. Browning grass and trees. Bare wood. Snow. Repeat. Perhaps if there wasn’t a window over the sink, I’d feel differently, but I don’t think so.
In another life, around kitchen sinks, my mother and I laughed and solved the world’s problems. Here’s to hoping she looks down now and again to see the really good stuff, like Girl two pleased as can be when I put dishes on her job list. Standing on a chair to dry and climbing up the cupboards to put away a bowl if I’m not looking.