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26 April 2011


Routines, habits, compulsions or whatever you call them, they are behaviors that make sure we don't forget important things, such as actions (feeding the dog and fish) or actual things (the coffee mug or the cell phone). Everyone has a routine.
Even my dog has a routine for different situations. When we get up in the morning, she waits until both my wife and I are in the kitchen before dragging herself (OK, groggily walking) up the back door to be let out. If she doesn't see a squirrel or rabbit on the fence or in the yard as the case may be (In which case, all bets will be off.), she'll wander along the fence line with her nose working hard to learn who, or more importantly what, intruded into the yard before selecting spots to dump her overnight loads of liquid and solid waste. The only clear area is within about 20 feet of the door. Even she doesn't like to step in the lawn bombs, so she leaves an area of high traffic alone. When she's done, she'll trot up to the back door and give it a knock to let us know she's there. A yip lets us know that her patience is wearing thin. Once we deign to let her in, she'll go by the cupboard door where we keep her treats and sit oh, so patiently for us to get one out for her. The routine is broken by whether we toss her the treat (She'll catch it.), offer it directly (She'll demurely take it in her mouth.), or hold a particularly desirable (read: stinky) one (She'll crouch down for one of those!).
My morning routine when I have to be at work by 07:00 is a bit regimented. If I don't follow it, things I need during the day tend to be forgotten. The clock-radio pops on at 05:30, and I roll over to check with my wife whether she'll be riding her bike that morning. If yes, I'll get up and go around the bed to take her CPAP mask, turn off the machine and give her a kiss. If not, I'll snooze the radio and get up. This kiss will have to wait until she's up and not wearing the mask. Either way, the next stop is the kitchen where I start my coffee and take my before breakfast pills. Then it's time for my turn to remove the night's waste, wash my hands then my teeth. This get some hot water in the pipes so I don't have to wait and waste water to warm up the shower.
Even the shower has a routine. First I prepare and fill a neti pot, rinse my nose, and then I soap up. Next I shave with the suds available (Don't get me wrong, I buy the cheap razors. However, this way each one will last weeks before having to throw it out. Yes, I do shave every day.), wash my hair (That doesn't use much shampoo; I don't have much hair!) and rinse off. Out of the shower, it's a quick towel off, and then deodorant. I'll powder some crevices if I expect to be sweaty that day. Then it's time to collect my clothes and kiss my wife and get her up if she drowsed or meet her in the living room while she works out.
I have to wait until my legs are really dry before I can put on my stockings. Yes, I'm a guy and I said, "my stockings". These are special ones because I have varicose veins from standing and working on concrete floors for thirty years. They won't slide on when I have damp skin and are extremely tight. So, I have breakfast before putting the bottom part of my clothes on, as it saves time and frustration to do so.
Back into the kitchen I go. I pour my coffee, add creamer and set up my wife's decaffeinated brew. My blood sugar needs to be checked before I eat, so I do that next. I pull down a bowl and the cereal, use the scoop in the cereal to measure my ration of Cheerios(R) and add my dollop of milk. When I put the milk back in the refrigerator, a piece of cheese comes back with me. A side trip to the kitchen table gets my breakfast medications and a piece of fruit. Everything but the coffee comes with me to the living room where my pants, socks, stockings, knee braces and shoes await my attention. If you've ever had cold cereal, you know that it must be consumed before it gets soggy. So I shovel it in before it turns to mush, consume my fruit as appropriate, and unwrap and enjoy my cheese. The cheese is a bit of protein needed to moderate my blood sugars during the morning. That way, I'm not famished at 09:00 and can enjoy a more leisurely lunch.
With breakfast out of the way, the stockings can be slipped on, with the more normal socks and the less normal knee braces (darned arthritic knees!) over them. Pants and shoes go on next, but I needn't go in every detail, unless you want me to guide you literally step-by-step. (I can do that; it makes a good party game.)
If I'm lucky, or not distracted by a news article on TV, I'll have time to refresh the computer and log my breakfast in my food diary, check for important (yeah, right) emails or Facebook posts (as if!). If it's Wednesday, I'll gather and take the trash out to the curb.
Now it's decision time for lunch. We brown-bag (OK, grey cooler) lunch to save money and clear out leftovers. My wife (mostly) and I (sometimes) pack soup and casseroles left over from meals into tubs to be frozen for lunches. We're constantly experimenting with often delicious results, but some edible, but unusual side trips (Can you say habanero pea soup?). All this goes in the cooler with a bowl to heat the whatever in more fruit and a snack bar or two.
By now, it's time to leave for work. Here's when routine is real important: Put on the jacket and hat, kiss the wife one last time, gather coffee cup, cooler, cell phone, camera bag, meter bag, reading book and walking stick. Arrange all so that I can maneuver, and head out to the vehicle for work.
That is just the routine before I even make my way to work, but it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Hopefully, a good one.

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