Showing posts with label routine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label routine. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


I came across this quote today.  Obviously written before 2003, because Fred Rogers died in 2003.
Nearly every morning of his life, Mister Rogers has gone swimming, and now, here he is, standing in a locker room, seventy years old and as white as the Easter Bunny, rimed with frost wherever he has hair, gnawed pink in the spots where his dry skin has gone to flaking, slightly wattled at the neck, slightly stooped at the shoulder, slightly sunken in the chest, slightly curvy at the hips, slightly pigeoned at the toes, slightly aswing at the fine bobbing nest of himself... and yet when he speaks, it is in that voice, his voice, the famous one, the unmistakable one, the televised one, the voice dressed in sweater and sneakers, the soft one, the reassuring one, the curious and expository one, the sly voice that sounds adult to the ears of children and childish to the ears of adults, and what he says, in the midst of all his bobbing-nudity, is as understated as it is obvious: "Well, Tom, I guess you've already gotten a deeper glimpse into my daily routine than most people have."
I don't know when this interview (this is just the start of it) was written, but two things struck me.   First was the description of this 70 year old man.  Harumph, 71 year old me wants to say!
But the second thing was the last sentence which led the article writer into talking about Mister Rogers' daily routine

The first time I called Mister Rogers on the telephone, I woke him up from his nap.  He takes a nap every day in the late afternoon--just as he wakes up every morning at five-thirty to read and study and write and pray for the legions who have requested his prayers; just as he goes to bed at nine thirty at night and sleeps eight hours without interruption.
I have been thinking about routines today, and how our lives have changed since Polly entered our lives and essentially put an end to the sporadic fostering of dogs and allowing us to settle into a pretty set routine around here.  Every time I visit my mother she asks "what have you been doing exciting?" and I always tell her "nothing" because unless I'm reviewing a show, pretty much things are routine around here.

I love how the dogs are really very polite.  I end my night of sleep in the recliner.  Sometimes Polly sleeps with me, but mostly she sleeps in Walt's recliner, though with ears erect, waiting for me to wake up.  I confess that I often don't let her know I'm awake for as long as half an hour after I wake up.  The dogs either sleep in the living room or walk outside, but they never bother me. 

The minute I decide to get up, Polly leaps off the chair and gives one sharp bark, which brings Sheila and Lizzie running from wherever they are and all three leap happily, knowing that I will feed them.  Polly sometimes barks until I go into the kitchen, but lately, once she knows I'm standing up, she just acts excited because she knows that the routine is that I will feed her.

When I put down the bowls, Lizzie scarfs hers down instantly, and then goes in to where Polly is eating and sits quietly until Polly has finished, when she eats whatever (if anything) is left.   I love that there are never any fights over food.  Lizzie is the one who eats the leftovers, but she never challenges anybody for food.  She just sits and waits her turn.

The dogs go back outside but when I get up to make toast they can hear it going into the toaster and all return to the house where they stand in front of me begging for toast crust.

beggingtoast.jpg (139579 bytes)

They never fight over the crust.  They know Sheila gets hers first, then Lizzie, then Polly.  I am constantly amazed at how they never try to grab a piece of crust that isn't theirs.  They each get two pieces of crust, after which I put up my hands and say "that's it," whereupon Sheila walks back outside because she knows it's over (the other two haven't figured that out yet and remain ever hopeful).-

When they are outside and start barking, all I have to do is open the sliding glass door (which scrapes on the frame because Lizzie has knocked it slight off the track) and they come racing inside.  One of these days I will get a video of it because it's so cute, but usually even if I sneak to the door with the camera, by the time I get the camera ready, they are already inside.

The time changes each season have kind of done away with the routine they had for awhile, which I loved.  When the end of Jeopardy came, Polly would leap off whichever lap she was on and starts barking, letting the others know it was time for their dinner.  She still barks to let them know about dinner, but it isn't connected with Jeopardy any more.

At night, when we are eating our dinner, they take their positions around me because I'm a bad dog owner and do feed my dogs from the table.   Sheila takes stock of the dinner.  If there is something meaty she knows she will get a sample, if there is no meat she may or may not, so she doesn't commit to the full sit, staring at me.  Instead, she lies down, with her back to me, pretending she doesn't care, but if she senses sounds of food sharing, she can be up in a flash.  Meanwhile Lizzie is staring at me from my right side and Polly is sitting unobtrusively under the table until food is shared, whereupon her nose appears on the chair seat, between my legs.

Starting at about 11:30, when The Daily Show is over, Sheila, who has been sleeping in the living room, starts getting antsy.  She doesn't want to go out, she wants me to go to the couch and sleep.  She checks on me several times, sometimes sleeping under my legs at my desk.  When I finally get up, she is as excited as if I had announced dinner.

She stands behind me and lets me enter the living room first and then waits impatiently for me to make up my bed.  When I lie down, Lizzie jumps up on the table behind the couch, Polly settles in under the blanket on the level of my waist and Sheila first walks down in the left direction from my head, presenting me her backside to pet (not my favorite part to pet) and then turns around and comes back in the other direction so I can scratch her ears and her chest and run my hands over her shoulders.   Then she lies down in front of the couch and we all go to sleep.

When I get up in the middle of the night, nobody moves.  I go to sleep in the reciner and everyone continues wherever they are (except sooner or later Polly will move into the famiy room, to either sleep with me, or to sleep on Walt's recliner) and then in the morning the routine starts all over again.

The thing I like most about our routine is that it's mostly silent.   I'm a quiet person and though I talk to them, I don't talk all that much. We don't yell at them for barking, we just open the back door.  I don't have to call them for meals, they know. I learned how acute their hearing is when I once said "treat time" in a very low tone and the dogs, who were outside, came right in, so I don't call out "treat time!" any more, I just say it in a low tone. They know when I'm thinking about going out and react accordingly (getting ready for a treat, which I always give them when I leave). I try to be aware of dog body language and while I can't be quite as attuned to them as they can be to me, I have gotten much better at reading them over the years. I feel that we five have a real partnership that just works for us, thought it's not every exciting to read about.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Persistence of Memory

Think of the number of things you do every day that you never have to think about.
Making coffee, for instance.  I find the pitcher that I use to fill the coffee maker.  I take it in my right hand and place it under the spigot in the sink.  With my left hand I turn on the water and wait until it fills.  Then I take it to the stove, put it on the flat griddle.  I open the coffee maker with my left hand, pour the water in. 

Before I close the coffee maker, I take out the part that holds the coffee with my left hand, take it to the laundry room and open the garbage can with my right hand and dump the coffee in it.  Then I return it to the maker add a coffee filter from the drawer under the coffee maker, reach up, get the container of coffee beans from off the refrigerator and take out a scoop of beans, putting the open container on the griddle next to the pitcher.  I put the beans in the coffee grinder and grind them, keeping the motor running while I turn the grinder upside down to get the stray bits of ground coffee into the cup.  I pour the now ground coffee into the coffee filter, close the top of the maker, and (if I remember), press the "on" button.

It's all very routine, actions that have been done so many times they are burned into my brain and I could do it in my sleep. 

Or getting a glass of cold water.  Pick up glass in right hand, put it under the spigot of the water cooler, raise the lever with my left hand until the glass is full, then let it go and I have a nice glass of cold water in my right hand.

We learn most of the things we do every day, some of them in our childhood, some of them as necessity demands later in life.

I put on my shoes and socks the same way I have been doing them all my life.  Right sock first, then right shoe; then left sock, then left shoe.   If I'm wearing sandals, I put on both socks first (first right, then left) and then step into the sandals. 

I suspect that if we took a day to become a scientific observer in our own lives we would come up with hundreds of actions that we do every day that we always do in the same way because we have always done them in the same way.   (Ironically, Walt just visited my office to talk about his routine brushing his teeth -- rinse, floss, brush, water pic -- and how discombobulated he becomes if he gets interrupted, unable to remember where in his routine he had been before the interruption ...he was unaware that I was writing this entry.)

But there are two basic things that I am never sure of and have not been sure of for many years:  making the sign of the cross and wiping myself after I go to the bathroom, especially if something more substantial than liquid is involved.  Now this is not meant to sound like some avant garde artistic expression designed to cause controversy, like a crucifix in a jar of urine or something like that.  I'm serious.  I don't remember how to make the sign of the cross or how I learned to wipe myself.

Perhaps I should explain.  (Yes, Beverly, that would be a good thing to do about now!)

I had been making the sign of the cross, probably many times a day, all throughout my 12 years of Catholic school, a lifetime of Masses, and lots and lots of rosaries.  The hand goes to the forehead, then to the chest, and then to each shoulder.

In college we met the man who would later become David's godfather.   Andrij is Ukranian and he came to Mass at the Newman Center in Berkeley.  At some point he invited us to attend a Ukranian Orthodox Mass at a church in San Francisco.

You'd never know it was a church.  It was a regular looking house, but the garage had been converted into a small chapel.  The mass was chanted beautifully and we learned how to sing along with the choir on the chorus... Hospody pomiluj...etc.  Eventually we felt perfectly comfortable at the Eastern rite Mass.

But the thing about the Eastern Orthodox church is that when they make the sign of the cross they do it "backwards" (like the English and Australians drive "on the wrong side of the road" -- silly people think their way is the proper way!).  We attended church there once a month for maybe a year and at the end of that time I couldn't remember which sign of the cross was which.  Is it left shoulder/right shoulder?  or is it right shoulder/left shoulder?  I suppose since I rarely have occasion to make the sign of the cross at all these days, it doesn't really matter, but I am aware whenever I do attempt to do it that there is that moment of hesitation after touching my chest--which way am I supposed to go next?

As for my ablutions, it was all a no brainer for most of my life, up until 2003.  In 2003, I had my bike accident and dislocated my shoulder.  As it would have it, it was my left shoulder, my dominant side.  My left arm was immobilized for several weeks and the first time I went to the bathroom after the accident, I didn't know what to do.  Everything had to be relearned with my right hand.  Even after the immobilizer came off and I could use my left hand again, there was a pain threshold reaching too far back that necessitated making adjustments to what I had been doing all my life.

My pain is long since resolved, but I truly never grab a wad of toilet paper in my hand without feeling that I am somehow doing it "wrong," but not remembering what way is "right" any more!

And yes, my friends, these are the kinds of weird thoughts that flit through my head from time to time!