The One Correct Way to Wash Dishes

12 12 2008

(Author’s note: Our favorite blogger, Mrs. Blister, is on the mend. Until she gives me her trademark “get your sweaty, shaking hands off my blog” look, I, Mr. Blister, am filling in. So, if you like what you read here, don’t tell her. You know writers and their egos.)

 

Brace yourself Dear Reader. Today I bestow upon you instructions that, used wisely, will change your life forever. Some of you may consider it a duty to humanity to forward a link to this gift of knowledge to everyone you know. You would be right.

The following techniques were developed using my personal life philosophy of “Constructive Laziness”, which is quite different from “Traditional Laziness”, my personal life philosophy from 1994 to 2002.

Constructive Laziness (or CL) essentially harnesses the inner desire to do nothing, also known as Traditional Laziness (TL), in order to make a task as easy as possible. The result is a spirit resigned to its destiny of a lifetime of unwanted effort (like washing dishes), but excited by the possibility of getting the job done with a lot less work.

THE ONE CORRECT WAY TO WASH DISHES

(unless you have a dish washing “machine”, in which case, just fill the thing with dishes and soap, turn it on, and go f**k yourself)

LESSON #1: SORT

The most important step to make dish washing easy is to sort them out as soon as possible. Plates with plates, cups in cups, all the silverware gathered together.

Keep them sorted as they go from sink, to drying rack, to cupboard. This one principle will mean more dishes can soak at once, more dishes can fit into the drying rack at once, and putting them away becomes infinitely faster. Nothing on God’s Green Earth (in the context of washing dishes) feels better than grabbing a handful of spoons and dropping them all at once into their ubiquitous little plastic moulded home. This experience makes the typical method of grabbing a handful of mixed utensils and putting them in place one at a time seem like fork-in-the-eye insanity.

 

LESSON #2: SOAK

Just like a weekly bath, soaking dishes will really help loosen all of the dried-on food, resulting in less effort scrubbing. (And less chaffing, in the case of the weekly bath.)

The key to a correct soak is timing. Scrub too soon and you’re wasting effort. Scrub too late and you’ve lost the warm water and bubbles to a sink of cold, slimy swamp water. Also, avoid soaking wooden things like cutting boards for very long. Especially overnight. Especially with other much scummier dishes. Especially if you don’t want your cutting board to smell like day old water-logged lasagna. (Trust me, you don’t.)

 

LESSON #3: PUT THE TOWEL DOWN

 As my mother-in-law says, “Let God dry the dishes.” 

The only time dish towels are used correctly while washing dishes is to lay it down on the counter beside the drying rack so you can put dishes on it to dry because the drying rack can’t hold everything. The only other time dish towels are used correctly is not in the kitchen and has nothing to do with dishes, wink, wink. As my wife says, “If you can’t find a dish towel, look in the bedroom.”

 

There you have it Dear Reader. Although this list is not exhaustive, it was exhausting. Please feel free to add tips of your own in the comment section. If they are good, I will erase your comment and edit this blog post to incorporate your ideas into mine. I’m just like Sylar from the greatest TV show ever, Heroes. Except I’m killing comments on a blog, not people. And I’m stealing their domestic advice, not their super powers. And I wear glasses to drive and watch TV which I don’t think he does. Other than that, we’re exactly the same.





This is A Call

10 12 2008

When Mrs. Blister is sober ready, she’ll tell you all about the Christmas Holiday Concert we attended yesterday. I was going to tell you myself but The Boss vetoed me to keep the best story ideas for herself we agreed it was best left to her.

I will, however, put my life on the line to say this: Opening a Christmas Holiday Concert with a tone-deaf choir droning singing several unaccompanied verses of “So This is Christmas” unleashes a fierce internal debate about the merits of murder vs suicide vs murder/suicide doesn’t get the crowd as energized as you may think.

Anyway… After re-reading my last post, it seems I may have opened my big fat mouth about things I really don’t know suggested that I have some domestic wisdom to share. Also, I asked you to comment on my posts so that I don’t curl up into a ball of booze soaked self loathing know someone out there cares.

Well, you didn’t comment (Moms excluded) and I’m petty and insecure eager to engage you, the reader, so I’ll make a list of some of my ideas, and you goddamn better well post a comment to tell me which ones you want me to elaborate on.

1. “The Art of Complaining for Fun and Profit”

2. “There’s Only One Correct Way to Wash Dishes”

3. “Don’t Try to Tell Your Wife She Doesn’t Know How to Wash Dishes”

4.  “Waste Management: 6 Different Garbage Bags to Freedom”

5. “Sweep it up Now, or Pull it Out of the Baby’s Mouth Later”

Now, just in case there’s nothing on this list that piques your interest, you may also post a comment about: how I inspire you to do great things, or how I inspire you to do fewer bad things, or how much you miss Mrs. Blister. You may also ask me a question and I will twist your words and make fun of you strive to answer it.





Back by Popular Demand

8 12 2008

Good morning Dear Reader, my name is Mr. Blister and I will be your substitute blogger.

 

Most of you (hopefully) are wondering, “What happened to the saintly narrator of life in the Blisterdome, the irrepressible Mrs. Blister?” Well, she’s a little repressed. Which isn’t the same as depressed, mind you. Oh no. She is currently being repressed by teeth. Stupid, useless teeth. Between her easy-breezy root canal which resulted in 3 days (and counting) of facial throbbing and Squiggles’ front top teeth threatening to burst forth from her gums which resulted in 6 days (and counting) of near sleeplessness for Squiggles and her walking, talking soother Mrs. Blister, the torch of attempted humour has been passed humourlessly into my shaking, sweaty hands. 

I know, I know. This blog isn’t all about trying to make funnies about our life and times. Mrs. Blister has set a high standard not only for levity, but poignancy. Plus, she makes us laugh and cry.

In any event, I think I’ll take what time I have with you Dear Reader, to impart some of the valuable knowledge I have gleaned from my harrowing adventures as a homemaker. 

Most of you (probably) are wondering “But Mr. Blister, didn’t you already know everything before you switched from bread winner to bread baker?” Well, I thought so too! Turns out there were a few aspects of life I hadn’t quite mastered…

Needless to say, after 6 months on the job, I am now a qualified expert on everything domestic.

So, Dear Reader, feel free to make notes, pass my ideas off as your own to impress your friends, and don’t forget to comment on every one of my posts or else my extremely fragile ego will be hollowed out with a drill and filled with rubber cement…figuratively speaking of course.





Smooth Criminal

27 11 2008

Just when I thought any trace of bad-ass street cred I ever pretended I had was gone, swept away like a million little Goldfish cracker fragments, or so thoroughly diluted by breast milk and apple juice and instant decaf coffee that it was virtually undetectable, along comes a day like today. A day that proves that I still know how to handle myself under pressure, and that my inner criminal is alive and well and just waiting for a chance to exercise her evil genius.

It all began innocently enough. Mr. set off early to go talk to a grade six class about the world of business, as part of his stay-at-home-dad sanity-saving volunteer work. That left Squiggles and I in charge of getting Neener and Roo to school on time and fully clothed. Squiggles, surprisingly enough, was not much help, unless you consider hollering ‘hat!’ and ‘dog!’ and ‘balloooooooon!’ every twelve seconds helpful. I do not. Still, we managed the school drop-off without incident and headed home to have us some coffee and mushed bananas. With a hungry, wiggling, snow-suit clad Squiggles on my hip, I gave the back patio door a yank. But the bastard didn’t budge because the loose little lock mechanism had slipped and locked the door behind us when we left. And it just so happened that I’d locked the front door. And that my key was on my brother’s key ring. And that my brother was at work almost an hour away. And that Mr.’s cell phone was off and he’d be at a school that I did not know the name of for the next three hours. And that even if I could pop off the screens and pry open any of the old, heavy, crummy windows, there was no guarantee that my big arse would fit through. Squiggles, surprisingly enough, was not much help. Unless you consider writhing and twisting and crying helpful, which, at that moment, I did not. november2008-044So, I did what any locked-out-of-the-house-mother-with-a-cranky-baby would do in order to avoid a whole lotta crying from both of us: I whipped out a boob for the baby, and whipped out my phone to call my best friend. So she could laugh hysterically at me from the comfort and safe distance of her home in Toronto. After a good laugh and a quick brainstorm of my very limited options, I did the second thing that any locked-out-of-the-house-mother-with-a-baby-on-boob would do in order to avoid plunging into panic: I called my mother so that she could panic for me from the helpless distance  of her little house in the big woods. By the time I hung up the phone, my mother was on the hunt for the phone number of Mr.’s school and Squiggles was sound asleep. So, I tucked the baby in to the stroller and decided to put my break and enter skills to the test. Skills I have not exercised since my friend Dodie and I were 17, and found ourselves locked out of her house and in desperate need of a bathroom. I won’t tell you exactly how I managed to jimmy open our patio door, for obvious security reasons, and because no proper smooth criminal goes around blabbing her secrets all over the internet. But I will say this: I rock. If you ever need someone to break into your house, I’m your woman. Dodie and Squiggles can vouch for that.

In retrospect, Squiggles and I were very lucky. It was fairly sunny and warm out, and we were well dressed. And if we’d been faced with being locked out for three whole hours, I had a few ideas of where we could go to keep warm and kill some time. But the experience taught me some valuable lessons. Like that I should never leave home without my wallet, so I can at least go buy a coffee if I have to bum around the mall with my kid for a few hours. And that we should have an emergency key hidden outside somewhere. And, I learned something very important about that trace of bad-ass street cred I always pretended I had: apparently I’ve still got it.





Another year wiser

20 11 2008

Yesterday, I celebrated my birthday. I won’t say which birthday, since I’ve been craftily running a misinformation campaign on that for, oh, about 20 years now. The first ten years consisted of adding a few years to the real number, but in recent years, I’ve adopted a slightly different strategy. You may hear the number “32”  bandied about by such unreliable sources as my mother, whose memory is clearly failing, my husband ,who is in obvious denial about his cradle-robberdom, and my children, who are foul mouthed little liars. Anyway, my age is irrelevant. What really matters is that I’ve had some memorable birthdays, and when I reflect back on them, many have taught me a valuable lesson that I carry with me to this day. Here is a brief retrospective of birthdays-gone-by, and some of the wisdom I’ve extracted from my 18-35 odd years on this planet:

The Beginning: The day I was born, I was already 3 weeks late. My mother’s due date was Halloween. When labour induction failed and my mother and I started showing signs of distress, somebody finally realized that something was wrong. Damn placenta was blocking my exit. I was yanked out via an emergency c-section just in the nick of time. From my mother’s regular re-telling of the harrowing story of my birth and her grueling recovery, I learned two very important things: First, that I am a very, very lucky individual. And second, that a great deal of guilt can be leveraged once your child realizes that you almost died giving birth to them.

My 4th Birthday: A massive snow storm. A storm so bad that no one could make it to my party. I proclaimed that to be “The Worst Birthday Ever.” The lesson? You can’t control the weather, not even on your birthday. But you can control your definition of worst.

My 6th Birthday: My first party with my new school friends. Dozens of them. My new best friend gave me a Strawberry Shortcake doll but after all the gifts were opened, decided that she wanted to keep the cute little scented Custard the cat figurine that came with it. When her mom came to pick her up, I watched tearfully as she walked out the door with a party loot bag and the best part of a present that was supposed to be for me. That taught me that sometimes your friends do things that piss you off, but they are still your friends. She gave my Custard the cat back. Eventually.

My 16th Birthday: My then-boyfriend, a 6 foot 3, 115 pound 18 year old with a black studded leather jacket and a mega-mullet, whom I had proclaimed “The Best Boyfriend Ever”, got caught cheating on me with his ex. The lesson I gleaned was that I could not control what other people did. Not even on my birthday. But I could control my definition of the word best.

My 17th Birthday: A misunderstanding morphed into an argument with a girl I thought was my friend. She chased me out of the mall and threatened to beat me with a baseball bat. Which showed me that sometimes your friends do things that frighten the hell out of you, and those people are not really your friends at all.

My 19th Birthday: I did not set foot in a bar or a liquor store until the day I turned 19 because I was terrified of getting ID’d. On my 19th birthday, identification in hand, I did both. And no one asked me to prove how old I was. On one hand, I kicked myself. On the other hand, I was glad I never had to do the ol’ “Oh I forgot my I.D, I’ll be right back” underage booze-buyer dash. The lesson? Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. And I am younger than I look.

My 21st Birthday: Well, not technically on the day of my birth, but that year, my birthday provided the excuse my friends and I needed to party recklessly for an entire week. On day three of my birthday bender, I met a guy. Six feet tall, on the skinny side, twinkling green eyes, and a black Motorolla pager. I consumed an ample amount of liquid courage, introduced myself to him, and told my friends that very night that I was going to marry that guy some day. And I did. From that I learned that sometimes it pays to take a chance. And I am smarter than I look.

My 30th Birthday: My sweet Mr. threw me a fantastic party. I was surrounded by amazing people, and surprised by the poetic abilities of my friends, who all wrote poems to commemorate the occasion. We stuffed ourselves with every flavour martini under the sun, and stuffed the kids with a heinous amount of Little Mermaid birthday cake. I woke up at 3 am with a bad case of martini-induced barfies. Roo woke up at 3:15 am with a bad case of blue-icing induced barfies, and I spent the rest of the night ignoring my own rolling stomach and pounding head to tend to my sick child. That birthday taught me to expect the unexpected. And to always keep a barfie bowl or two handy.

My 31st Birthday: Enormously pregnant with baby Squiggles, I was lucky I could walk, let alone celebrate. Eating gave me heartburn. Laughing made me pee in my pants. Sleep was a figment of my hormone-addled imagination. Desperate to get that baby on the move, I drank some castor oil. The only thing that moved was the take-out chinese food I had for my birthday dinner. I learned, yet again, how little control I have over the world. How there are some things that just can not be rushed. And how to engrave  guilt-inducing details into my mind. Details that will later be used to make my kids realize how wonderful I am because of what I went through to bring them into the world.

Now, I hold all of these little lessons in my heart and mind. Looking around at my family, my friends, my life, I know I am extraordinarily lucky, and I try to appreciate each day for what it is because tomorrow is promised to no one. The snow swirling to the ground, and the atrocities swirling through the news don’t rattle me because I know I can’t control anything beyond my own perspective. I have no time for the bullshit of people who are decitful or mean, and I have all the time in the world for the people I love. I take chances only when I know what I’m risking and what I stand to gain. Otherwise I play it safe, take my time, and make the best of what I’ve got.  And last night, as I celebrated with family and friends and food and drink, I listened to the smart little voice inside that said “Go easy on the appletinis, and take the barfie bowl upstairs and leave it on Neener’s bed.” If my age-related misinformation campaign is successful, I may not be getting any older. But I am getting wiser. At least, that’s how I felt at 3 a.m. when I awoke to the words “Mommy, I need to barf.”





Big Love and Little Wonders

14 10 2008

I have much to be thankful for. This weekend, my best friend, aka Second Wife, is visiting from Toronto. The extra pair of maternally inclined hands and eyes around the Blisterdome makes it much easier to do stuff. Fun stuff. Like having a gigantic turkey, apple pie, and mango vodka feast, and playing Rock Band. Or going restauranting. Or piling into our minivan, the inappropriately named Patricia Dishwasher, and going to the Fall Fair. With a 1:1 adult to child ratio, such an adventure is no longer an exercise in death-grip hand squeezing and disciplinary hissing. It’s fun. And fun is something that, in the day-to-day stress of school and schedules, laundry and meals, money-making and money-spending, diapers and dishes, and crisis and meltdowns both global and domestic…well, fun gets put on the back burner with the crusty rice cereal pot and the leftover peas.

But this weekend, our little adventure to the Fall Fair was all fun. We ate cotton candy and homemade fudge and popcorn and sno-cones. We saw dogs doing tricks, pigs running a race, and bunnies just sitting there wiggling their noses and being cute. Roo sat on a tractor and waved at people. Squiggles discovered that animals are more than just pictures on a page or a screen, and that cows really do say Moooo. Neener got head butted by a goat. Three times. Had there been a fourth time, there might have been some trouble because I’m pretty sure drop kicking a goat will get you escorted out of the petting zoo, but I was prepared to take my chances. We went on a Merry-Go-Round. I bought new earrings, and scored some puuuurrrrfect Christmas presents. Nobody cried or hollered or got hurt or got lost or had anything other than a good time. Nothing but fun. Then we headed home for that turkey feast, and the tastiest apple pie I’ve ever made, whole wheat crust and all. This is the wonder of having good family and good friends on hand to celebrate, and I am eternally thankful for that.

So, we keep pitching a mildly polygamist arrangement to Second Wife. I think if I had a husband and a wife, things could really run a lot smoother around here. And this blog would certainly be a little more interesting! Second wife could come and go as she pleases. We’d feed her all the apple pie and turkey and tea and pancakes she could handle. We’d pay her admission to all seasons of fair. Every adventure – and there would be plenty – would be covered. She could have the entire basement to herself, with or without the kiddie tent in the middle of the floor and the heap of stuffies on the bed. Heat, lights, cable, internet and food included. For $300 a month. And we’d pay her even more as soon as we could. She’d be worth it.





May the Fork Be With You

9 10 2008

When Roo was a baby, her occupational therapist gave us some good advice: let her play with her food. Let her finger paint with pudding. Let her feed herself with her hands. Let her touch and squish and poke and prod and practice getting food in her mouth with her own two hands.  So we did just that, with her and Neener too. And it worked beautifully. It helped them develop better fine and gross motor control, encouraged a sense of independence, and may have spurred their creativity. By the age of two, these kids could turn a pile of mashed potatoes, green beans and tomatoes into a three dimensional crab scuttling through sandy sea grass. I kid you not. And while it was great for all these important skills, our little Fun With Food therapeutic approach to mealtimes did diddly squat for their table etiquette. I’ll never forget the look on my poor mother-in-law’s face the first time she saw them dig into a meal with their fat little, tremendously dexterous toddler fingers. She was appalled. I could tell she was appalled by her gigantic ear to ear grin. And by the way she asked in a high-pitched, sing songy, sugar-laden voice, ” So…when will they start using utensils?” The answer, three years later, is “Soon. I hope.”

Yes, my five and a half year olds can write and illustrate their own comics, but they still struggle with using utensils. For Neener, it’s a matter of reminding her to do it. And now that we’ve shown her how to hold and handle a fork or spoon so that food actually gets into her mouth, she’s really getting the hang on it. But for Roo, it’s tougher. While her fine motor control is great with a marker or pencil, she still struggles with one-handed manipulation of objects. Especially long, thin utensil shaped objects. Especially long, thin utensil shaped objects that must be held a certain way, and maneuvered a certain way, and kept steady enough to pick up other uncooperative objects of various sizes and consistencies. Especially when all she wants to do is fling that long, thin utensil shaped object across the room, so she can pick up those uncooperative but delicious looking other objects of various sizes and consistencies with her hands, and shove them in her mouth because she’s starving, dammit! And did I mention that Roo is not the most patient child in the world? And that sometimes you have to ask and remind her several dozen times to get her to do something? And that she really hates to be nagged? And that she loves to use her hands to get things – delicious or not -into her mouth? Clearly, this is going to require some strategic parenting, lest someone ends up with a long, thin utensil shaped object in their eye. And by someone, I mean me.

So, I’m thinking I’ll start simple, by introducing something called “Fancy Manners.” “Fancy Manners” consists, for the time being, of not touching your food with your hands. When I see an opportunity, we will practice “Fancy Manners” at home, which may or may not entail wearing fancy hats and speaking with fancy British accents. “Fancy Manners” will be in effect when we go out to a restaurant, or when we have company over for dinner. The rest of the time, we’ll encourage utensil use for Neener and Roo, but we won’t harp on it. We’ll harp on before-and-after-eating hand washing instead. Chances are, by the time they are adults, their “Fancy Manners” will be well honed enough to save them from any public embarrassment. I’m a firm believer that the ambiance of family meals affects how you eat, and how you relate to your family. If a child’s meal times are full of constant corrections and directions on how to consume their food, you can bet that the kid will eat as fast as possible to escape the stress and unpleasantness of having a parent nag the shit out of them about table manners. Meals are a time to enjoy food, and enjoy each others company. It’s great if they can work on their manners at the family table, and I’ll make sure they understand the importance of using those manners in the company of others, but I’m not going to get all Darth Vader-ish about it. No menacing threats or demands or heavy breathing. In fact, I’m going to take the opposite approach. The Obi-Wan Kenobi approach. The gentle Jedi coaching. The loving guidance of a whispered reminder when it really counts.“Use the fork, Roo. Use the fork.”