Not long after our family moved into our newly-built home, our dishwasher broke. That was seven years ago and we never did get it fixed. That means dishes get done by hand around here and, since I'm the only one that really cares if the smells of rotting food and plugged drains are ousted from the place, I'm the one that scrubs them up.
Day after day after hungry-kid day, I wash those dishes and painstakingly organize them in the dish rack. We're a family of five, so the stacks of plates and bowls pile up. My determination to fit every last dish in the sink-side rack is undaunting. It's also lacking in good judgment. Having sent dozens of ceramic coffee cups and cereal bowls crashing to the floor, you might assume that I'd catch on to the concept of drying-as-I-go.
You'd be wrong in that assumption. Drying the dishes isn't my job. I wash. The kids dry. Not wanting to nag and bother, I just keep on trying to stack that rack a little bit higher, knowing that a little air dry will work just fine and that things will find their way to their rightful cupboards when I'm done...or whenever said "kid" gets around to slotting them away.
The two impracticalities (my unwillingness to holler for help, and my focused determination to contain all of that glass, metal, stainless steel, and plastic in one, tidy, albeit massive, heap) combine to create what amounts to a treacherous, and fairly infuriating, game of Pick-up Sticks: one wrong pull on a misaligned Ziploc container and you'll find a landslide of dinneware cascading directly toward your feet.
Yesterday was no exception. Cup upon tottering little bowl atop wobbling bigger bowl, I'd balanced what looked to be every usable dish in our kitchen onto one wired dish tray. My boy dutifully set to the task of dismantling the thing and putting stuff in it's rightful place. Then, without warning, the shattering THUD-smash-tinkle...tinkle...tinkle of, you know it, the eight-cup Pyrex measuring bowl.
Pyrex don't just break, they explode (I learned this dramatically one evening when I attempted to broil pork chops in a Pyrex. They respond violently to extreme temperatures. Do not try that at home!). Teensy tiny shards of glass were fired in every direction and my best baking bowl lay in a ruin of my-own-fault making.
I got snippy. My son got defensive. And then we got to work hustling dogs out of harm's way and tossing glass into the recycling bin.
Like you, I'm a little introspective looking ahead into the New Year. Like you, I can already see that there's a whole lot coming that will need our attention, our devotion, our affection, our dutiful labor. Our dish racks are full. We have the occasional luxury of starting out with an empty tray -- not a lot going on. Not too many demands or dreams or things-on-the-go. But most of the time it feels like if we attempt to add even one more coffee mug to our already teetering heap, the whole carefully-balanced lot will come crashing down around our toes.
We could learn from the demise of my Pyrex, though? We could empty the dish tray a little, as needed, or ask for a little back-up with the tasks at hand? We could avoid calamity and inevitable collapse by just working a little smarter.
I know I've learned my lesson. Directly behind me sits my latest achievement: An, I think, extraordinarily well organized mound of cooking utensils and pots and containers and cutlery. No chance that tomorrow will be a re-play of yesterday. I don't have any Pyrex left to shatter.