The Warped Joy of Cleaning the Stove: Everyday Magic, Day 538

Every so often I do the dishes, which leads me to scour the sinks, and then — scrubbie in hand (crocheted by my colleague, the magnificent Grandma Jim) — I aim myself toward the counter near the stove. In no time at all, I’m cleaning the length of that counter and, if I’m ambitious, caffeinated or insomniac enough, the white microwave, and then the opposite counter. Which leads me to the mother of all appliances that need power cleaning: the stove.

I chose a white stove several years ago when the third of a series of used stoves we bought, hauled in, and used for a while joined that great appliance junkyard in the sky. I thought the color would inspire me to clean it more, which isn’t actually true. If I’m depressed, and transforming the muck of the counters into gleaming, blue landing pads for future dishes hasn’t snapped me out of it, I will turn my back and go check facebook. If I’m really out of it, I wouldn’t have begun the dishes in the first place. But if I’m in a reasonably hopeful mood (Obama hopeful), I will aim the scrubbie, some hot water, and bleach (I actually pour it from the jug into the stove) and all the power in my arms toward that stove.

Amazing things then happen.

Okay, the miracle of a stove that has gone through such a transformational journey is in exact proportion to how much gunk (dried rice, burnt beans, small carcasses of vegetables and nibbles of meat that didn’t make it from pan to plate) is embedded under those burners. So in this case, being slobs who tend not to clean the stove works to our advantage.

Yet when my stove cleaned, I feel that I’ve accomplished something noble that cleans the slate of my life and allows me to begin again. I’ve resurrected something dazzling to behold. I also know it won’t last, but in this case, I take a picture, and remind myself that what’s messed up beyond recognition can sometimes be beaten, scrubbed and bleached into beauty again.