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Quote of the Day: Robyn Griggs Lawrence

August 25th, 2013

“I know we’d be nuts to patently give up the machines that permeate our homes and make our lives so much easier. But what if, everyone in a while – especially when the world around us seems crazy and uncontrollable – we submerge our hands into warm, soapy water and hand a towel to our significant other. Or we take ten minutes to sweep the floor, focusing all our attention on that simple task with its ancient symbolic reference to sweeping away the bad spirits and the stale energy that may be lurking in the corners. What if?”

Robyn Griggs Lawrence (The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty)

My dishwasher died many years ago and I’ve been washing dishes by hand ever since. It forces me to slow down and enjoy the moment, to think about what I see outside my window, to appreciate the things I have, to cultivate simplicity. Sometimes doing our chores the old fashioned way helps us cultivate mindfulness and it can help us appreciate what we have.

What is one chore you like to do by hand?

15 Comments to “Quote of the Day: Robyn Griggs Lawrence”
  1. Joan on August 25, 2013 at 5:40 am

    I like to use a scythe. My son and husband like the power tools like the lawn mower and a weed wacker but I like the quiet solitude and rhythmic motion of my scythe.

    Reply to Joan's comment

  2. Jenn on August 25, 2013 at 6:34 am

    I have ME so I only use hand tools if I find they conserve more of my energy for other things than using a power tool/appliance.

    I use a broom because it’s lighter than a vacuum, and I use hand hedge trimmers because they are so much lighter I can trim much more hedge than using our petrol one which I can barely raise above my head.

    Our dishwasher packed up last week – I ordered a new one the same day ;)

    Reply to Jenn's comment

  3. Kathy Patton on August 25, 2013 at 7:53 am

    I have been washing dishes by hand for a couple of months now. I love the feeling when everything is put away and the kitchen is clean. I remember staying at my Grandma Brandon’s house as a child and seeing her mop her kitchen floor at the end of everyday. I am not quite sure why but that always gave me a feeling of comfort. It was like she was quietly announcing the day had come to an end.

    Reply to Kathy Patton's comment

  4. Nebraska Dave on August 25, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Susy & Brian, my hand tool spot would be the garden. If I’m going to till the soil, I use a shovel and not a power tiller. If I want to get rid of weeds, I use either bare hands or a hoe. Currently I’m building a fence and the Quickcrete for the posts is mixed with a shovel in a wheel barrow. When I dig a post hole, I dig it with a hand post hole digger.

    I think you are right, Susy. When a slower pace is followed and more labor is involved, there’s a stronger connection to the task that just seems more satisfying when it’s done.

    Have a great pre fall day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  5. whit on August 25, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Seems like I do everything the manual way (besides vacuuming carpet…if only I could find a way to put up kitty litter without the aid of suction.). This year, I had read that cancer patients should wash dishes by hand with natural soap, so we started doing that since I am still in watching mode. Surprised that I actually enjoy the task. Better than loading and unloading a dishwasher.

    I really enjoy writing letters to family and friends without email too. That is something that I wish would never have gone out of style. Email just isn’t the same.

    Reply to whit's comment

  6. carol on August 25, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I love to wash dishes by hand even though my dishwasher is not broken. I have solved the problems of the world while washing dishes!It’s the one kitchen chore I never tire of.

    Reply to carol's comment

  7. Lemongrass on August 25, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I sweep the floors with a broom, wash my dishes by hand, do my laundry by hand……… husband is working of a diy washing machine, which will be operated by hand. i do not keep a lawn therefore i do not need a mower. i do my diging, raking, forking by hand. at the end of the day i read a book the old fashion way or listen to some music or Piano Jazz on the internet then fall a sleep. I do use a blender for smoothies and ice cream and for making coconut milk.
    doing my chores the old fashioned way helps me cultivate mindfulness and it can help me appreciate what i have, ALWAYS.

    Reply to Lemongrass's comment

  8. kristin @ going country on August 25, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Not dishes; we produce a crazy amount of them, with more all the time as the kids get older and there are five people eating all day long.


    I made coleslaw the other day and grated everything by hand, rather than getting out the food processor. I also whisked everything by hand for the zucchini bread I made yesterday, rather than mess around with the electric mixer. I do a lot of things in the kitchen to get around having to haul out and then clean the electric stuff. Though maybe if I had that dishwasher, I wouldn’t be so motivated to avoid those things . . .

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  9. Colleen on August 25, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    The dishwasher does the bulk of the dishes, but some items must be handwashed. Dish time has become an after dinner ritual. We take turns washing, drying and putting away. It gets the task done as well as allowing us more time to talk.

    Folding laundry and weeding the gardens are two other chores that I like to do. Those chores don’t take much extra thought or concentration, leaving me quiet time to think about other things, or enjoy a podcast, like Cultivate Simple.

    Reply to Colleen's comment

  10. Megan on August 25, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Hanging laundry to dry. It’s calming.

    Reply to Megan's comment

    • Susy on August 25, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      That’s one I love too, nothing better!

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • kathi Cook on August 25, 2013 at 6:06 pm

        me three! my favorite task!

        to kathi Cook's comment

  11. stella novack on August 25, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    I wash dishes by hand while enjoying the view of our garden in the backyard. I do a lot of chopping by hand and I recently got rid of my heavy Kirby vacuum cleaner and now sweep all my floors (including one room with carpet) with a broom. I also hang clothes out to dry in nice weather. Oh, and I use a manual hand mixer for many recipes. I’m so used to doing all this, that I almost forget that there are other ways.

    Reply to stella novack's comment

  12. Michelle on September 2, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    My husband only recently fixed our dishwasher after it being broken for over a year. I asked him to since I’ve recently gone back to work full time. It’s helpful…but I still wash a lot by hand. And I have a feeling once the boys are grown and gone I’ll wash by hand more often…

    Reply to Michelle's comment

  13. Kathy Hoey on May 2, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I’m a late-comer to this blog, but just found this post. Last year I gave up my tiller and ordered a Vashon Broadfork. I wish I had done it years ago. It is more physically satisfying than using a rototiller, and the chickens are always right there–ready to pick out the worms and insects and seeds living in the soil as I fork it. I am trying to use permanent beds, so I don’t have to rework the beds every year–just clean them up and loosen the soil. I have a problem with quack grass, and find that it is less of a problem with the broadfork–the tiller just broke up the roots and spread it all over the garden. It is much easier to remove the roots and discard them with the broadfork. On a side note, my dishwasher died last year as well, and I find that I enjoy dish washing much more than I did as a teen.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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