Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sister Dishes

My older sister and me.
Oh, and George.
And part of Dad
And a little bit of Jerry and Blair.
The food had been, as per Mom’s usual standard, delicious.
The conversation had flowed, eddying around such topics as - the day. School. Ranch work. Friends. Town politics.
I was sitting in a contented stupor.
Well fed.
My favourite people in the world around me.
Life was better than fabulous.
“Chris and Diane,” Mom said, smiling at us. “You girls are on dishes tonight.”
And, just like that, my euphoric bubble burst. I could almost hear the ‘snap’ of its passing.
We looked at each other.
“Okay!” Chris said, bouncing to her feet.
Have I mentioned that my older sister is one of those people who is always willing and cheerful?
She is.
Most of the time, I liked it.
Just not tonight.
My reaction to Mom’s announcement was anything but enthusiastic. “Dishes?! Mooom!”
Okay, I admit that my reaction was purely for selfish reasons. I was in the middle of a good book and my plan had been to drop straight back into it after supper.
But Mom’s word was law and I dragged myself to my feet and helped my perky sister scrape and stack the mountain of dishes.
We did fine to that point.
Now here is where the differences between her way of accomplishing the task, and mine, met.
And clashed.
When she washed, Chris liked to leave the tap on just a tiny trickle. Then she could wash, rinse the item by passing it through the stream, and set the dish into the draining board.
I, on the other hand, preferred the ‘turn-the-tap-on’ method.
Wherein one would turn on the tap each time one was ready to rinse.
In my opinion, it wasted less water.
Here is where I admit that Mom simply put some rinse water into the second sink and . . . dipped.
But who wanted to do it Mom’s way?
I was washing. So I got to choose.
Tap on. Rinse. Tap off.
“Why don’t you just leave it on a trickle?” Chris asked. “It saves time.”
Already feeling disgruntled, I mumbled, “I prefer it this way!”
Big sigh from older sister.
Wash. Tap on. Rinse. Tap off.
“Diane, this is really starting to bug me! Just leave the tap on!”
“Fine!” I turned on the tap and let it trickle.
Chris smiled and continued to dry dishes.
I washed something. Then, out of habit, turned the tap, forgetting that it was already on.
“Diane! It’s already on!”
“Oh, right. Sorry.”
Another dish.
“Diane! It’s already on!”
“Right.”
Another dish.
This time, I turned the tap a little more forcefully than usual.
Not a problem if it wasn’t already on.
Which it was.
The water splashed out, soaking every available surface.
And my sister.
“Diane!”
Oops. “Umm . . . sorry?”
“Ugh. Get out of here and just let me do it!” She reached for the wash cloth and, just like that, I was out of a job.
I stood there for a moment and watched her.
Then I shrugged and went to find my book.
Sisters.
Pffff.                                              

22 comments:

  1. Not a bad outcome for you :) How many times did it work? hee hee

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are SUCH a clever girl! Why didn't i think of that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too bad my sister caught on after that . . .

      Delete
  3. As the only girl I was on dish duty more than I care to admit and that is the one chore I actually hate! Moving to SC was the first time I ever had a dishwasher but now I don't even use it. That's mom's contribution I cook, she does dishes and peels the potatoes for the fried potatoes that we eat every single night. Every single night. Oh how the tables have turned!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. There are many joys to living with family. This is obviously one of them! :)

      Delete
  4. That's one way out of dish duty! Wendy and I used to sing--howl, really--while we washed. Old clunkers like "You saw me crying in the chaaaaaaapel...Oooooooooooo!" Believe me, that was sufficient incentive for our parents to stop asking us to do dishes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, man! Genius! And it would work more than just the one time! Where were you when I was drawing dish duty?

      Delete
  5. I liked this sweet memory of doing dishes with your sister. I am sure you treasure it. I didn't have any sisters so I would have loved one.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could let you borrow her. Unfortunately 'borrow' is all I could manage. She's pretty precious!

      Delete
  6. I hated it whenever it was my dish night…and I still hate them to this day. But you were smart---you annoyed your sister enough that she took over the chore for you that night, ha-ha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm nost just another pretty face, you know . . .

      Delete
  7. Such a fun memory. My younger brother and I were usually on dish duty, and before we started he would always claim a bathroom break. I was too impatient to wait for him to get started ... and now I'm wondering if that was his plan all along!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. I tried the bathroom break, too. In fact it was real. I think it had something to do with the running water . . . The trick was wasting time once you closed that door.

      Delete
  8. I one of those few people who enjoy washing dishes, but I've never rinsed anything. Except the baby bottles all those years ago. I don't know anybody who did rinse, we're a dry country and wasting water was frowned upon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm. Why couldn't you have been my sister?

      Delete
  9. I have three sisters, and MANY memories of doing dishes with them. My dad who taught me the trick of drying dishes 2 at a time - and speed was always an important part of the task.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dads (I can't remember my dad ever doing dishes until Mom got sick) seem to have a handle on efficiency. I think it's from all the time spent watching . . .

      Delete

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