Our kitchen is finished, down to the last piece of quarter-round trim. It is a pleasant, well-appointed room, easy to work in. I revel in space and countertops and enclosed storage.
The wood top is on my desk. Above it are three shelves on decorative metal brackets my mom bought me. Here I keep writing and reference books, old journals, art books, and my dad’s paint brushes. Maybe it is not ideal to have your writing desk in the kitchen, but the arrangement works well for me; I am in the kitchen so often anyway, I might as well write there.
My desk has two hanging-file drawers. One holds household stuff, including warranty information and instruction manuals for our appliances. The other contains information pertaining to my writing, including many folders for reference materials. The file tabs are as follows: Head Injuries, North Carolina, Starship Navigation, Mining, Clan System, Feudalism/Manorialism, Appalachian Geography, Population Growth, Catholicism, House Plans, Heat Stroke, and General Interest. The labels get weirder after that, with files specific to my fantasy novels.
The vintage 1950’s double sink with drainboards, which I wrote about in an earlier blog entry, looks beautiful along one long wall, right in between the two dishwashers.
Wait, you say. Two dishwashers? Well, yes. A few years ago, I visited my friend Cathy in her beautiful, newly built home. While planning her house, she’d asked a lady who, like herself, had many ministry commitments, “If you could build your house over again, what would you do differently?” The lady replied, “I would install two dishwashers.” Cathy took the advice to heart, and so did I.
So I use a clothesline for my laundry, but I have two dishwashers in my kitchen. Dishwashers are relatively energy-efficient appliances, especially considered in proportion to the time they save. In The Tightwad Gazette III, published in 1996, Amy Dacyczyn calculated that in her case, buying, maintaining, and operating a dishwasher, instead of washing dishes by hand, would cost her $116.75 annually. Because she spent an estimated 182 ½ hours per year hand-washing dishes, her hourly wage at this particular money-saving activity worked out to about 64 cents. My hourly wage writing short stories beats that all hollow, even allowing generously for inflation, so having a dishwasher makes sense for me. And while two dishwashers cost more initially, each should theoretically last twice as long as one dishwasher doing the same amount of work. Plus—and this is the real kicker—I don’t have dishes waiting in the sink while the dishwasher runs. We almost never have a dishwasher sitting idle and empty; as soon as one is filled and running, we start loading the other one. We are home a lot, and we cook and eat food, and we use many dishes over the course of a day.
Earlier I made a comparison between the dishwasher and a clothes dryer, but as it happens, we now own a dryer as well, and a new washer. My mom won them in a drawing and passed them on to me. They are front-loaders, made by Samsung, and my, are they spiffy, with digital displays and moisture-sensing capabilities and probably other features that I know not of. As the washer gears up to run, it makes a noise like a little spaceship preparing to launch, a really quiet spaceship a long way off. When it is finished, it plays a little tune.
Once we started using this washer, we realized our old washer had not been doing a good job rinsing or spinning our clothes. Our line-dried clothes come out much softer now. We haven’t yet fully hooked up the dryer, but we will. We plan to keep using the clothesline, but we’ll be glad to have an electric dryer for those rare occasions when a) it rains for days on end, b) the entire family is sick, or c) someone just forgets to hang laundry.