Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Tom Selleck-Thanksgiving Connection

Now that it's Christmas Eve, I'm finally posting my thoughts about Thanksgiving. Like another of my recent posts, it took washing dishes to stir up those auld lang syne memories.

My Carp friends may have recognized through my comments about the "Over the River..." poem that I was a bit apprehensive of Thanksgiving this year. It was my first to not be celebrated in the home in which I grew up; my sister Jean and her husband Elias hosted the mob this year. I hadn't thought this relatively unimportant change would make me think so much. As it turns out, this was, possibly, the best Thanksgiving ever. And all because I picked a chair from which I couldn't escape without passing the kitchen sink and pitching in with the dish washing. I wound up rinsing the remains of mashed potatoes and uneaten turkey and gravy from the plates, pans, and other assorted utensils, which I passed along to my sister Donna to be washed. This is where the memories and the joy of the day came to me.

Donna is about ten years older than me; I can remember that because she graduate from Maine West High School in 1980 and I graduated in 1990. For some reason graduation dates stick in my head. Anyway...
At some point in growing up, I was the last in my house to go to Monday night Awana (Pals & Chums) and Donna was the only one who wasn't in Thursday night Awana (Pioneers & Guards) or at a job somewhere. So the two of us were home alone on Thursday night. I'm sure it was probably only for one year, but it seems like the two of us shared those Thursday nights for a long time. Being the only two home, it was our job to get the dishes done, after which we watched Magnum, PI and Simon and Simon. Unless the Cubs were on, that is. Donna was a big fan of Jody Davis (can't you hear Harry singing, "Jody, Jody Davis" to that Davy Crockett tune?). I remember once running out to the kitchen from the back room we called "the edition," probably when I should have been helping with the dishes, to tell her Jody had just hit a huge home run against the Pirates. I was so excited and she thought I was kidding.

I haven't thought of a good way to wrap up this post, so I'll finish it by saying I can recall those Thursday nights, and that long home run sailing over the left field wall at Three Rivers Stadium, so well, probably because Donna was (is) the type of sister you like to get stuck doing dishes with. On the Nice and Good scale, I can't think of anyone with a higher score.
Washing dishes is good for the soul.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Blue Ball

Tiffany and I have an agreement about the dinner chores in our home - when one cooks, the other washes dishes. I'm not a bad cook. In fact, I do fairly well in the kitchen. The problem is I can only focus on one thing at a time, so if I were to make dinner, we'd have to eat each course as it was cooked or else it would all be cold. Or burnt. So, our arrangement has always been Tiff cooks and I do dishes.

Anyway...All that just to say, I realized a few days ago that a night washing dishes never passes that I don't think of my dad. I knew I was thinking of him, but I never realized that I did it every night. Actually, it's when I'm done washing the dishes and it's time to wring the water out of the rag.
My family had a cottage in Townshend, WI. For the most part, that's where our vacations were spent. The nearest beach was Bass Lake, located somewhere in the middle of the triangle formed by the towns of Lakewood, White Lake, and Mountain. We had an old squishy blue foam ball, kind of like a nerf ball but without the coated shell, that we took to the beach. The ball, so light because it was just foam, couldn't really be used for much. We played with it anyway. It soaked up so much that when you threw it it was like throwing a handful of water. If it was dry, it went nowhere. If it was wet, you just sprayed water when you threw it.
My dad was a carpenter until about the time I was born. His hands were strong. When we would go swimming at Bass Lake, he used to tell me to wring all the water out of the blue ball. I would twist the ball until I thought my fingers would snap. Proud of myself, I'd hand the ball to him. Somehow, though, he always managed to twist a few drops out of the ball that I had not been strong enough to extract. It never failed. I never could wring the blue ball dry.
Now, every night, when I finish washing dishes, I twist the dishrag 'til it just won't let out another drop. I'm sure, though, that my dad could squeeze out a bit more.

It's funny. After all these years, I finally realized why I do it.