The Importance of Routines

grandparentsI hated routines as a child; probably because they were imposed and because they did not suit my internal clock.

Dishes first thing in the morning as soon as the milking was done. Dust, sweep floors, and then out to the garden to weed, hoe and eventually harvest.

Come in for lunch, take a brief rest, then spend the afternoon peeling, canning or laying stuff out to dry, then back to the barn for milking followed by haying and heavy work that a little girl and a grandma couldn’t accomplish when the rest of the family came home.

How I hated that routine! For me, the saving grace was that as long as I was quiet and stayed within certain bounds I was unsupervised in the afternoons.

That was my time to play, read or write; to slip away from the house and explore our wood lot or swim in the pond.

As an adult, I missed that routine. Modern life doesn’t leave time to wash dishes in the morning (unless you get up well before daylight); and it leaves precious little time or energy for home maintenance in the evening. We have substituted mechanical servants for the tasks we once did by hand.

How did my morning begin today? First off, I slept in. No crack of dawn, up before the birdies beginning for me! I quickly finished up an article begun the night before, and wrote another one that was pretty easy.

Then I gathered up the laundry (a week past due;since there were only two days of school last week, I took advantage of the change to skip a laundry day) to load into the truck.

The weather outside was wonderful! The early spring flowers were gone, but both rose bushes and the hedge had bloomed out. The air was laden with their sweet scent; which was both headier and cleaner than any man made air freshener.

The Laundromat is a short drive from my home, and is located in a small strip of shops. By 10:15 my laundry was swishing away in the machines. While it was washing, I walked over to the nearby Dollar Store and purchased clothesline, two net bags for small items (socks seem to keep going missing), and some clothespins.

Meanwhile, my head was busy with ideas of how to dry flowers and perhaps save some of the wonder perfume that filled the air.

I stopped off at the drugstore and bought a daily pill holder, since I seem to keep forgetting whether for sure or not I took my meds. Being absent-minded (something I have been all my life; there’s a lot of activity inside my head, and external actions are sometimes done automatically, which keeps them from registering in short-term memory), I am in constant dread of forgetting to take the darned pills or accidentally doubling up on them.

While there, I priced a home blood-pressure machine, which turned out to be very reasonable. I made a mental note to get one later in the month after more cash has accrued in the bank.

By the time my dry goods shopping was done for the morning, my laundry was ready to take out of the machines. I considered, as I put it in baskets and took it to the truck, the general economics of laundromat vs. home-owned automatic vs. maybe one of those hand-operated washers from Real Goods. The laundry (one large washer, one small) came to 7.50. It would probably have taken another 3.00 to dry it.

It was necessary to load the clothes in the truck, expend the gas to drive to the laundromat and invest the time. However, I used the time to make needed purchases that might be too heavy to walk to the store and then carry back home. Plus I had not spent money at home on hot water, electricity or a payment on a washing machine.

Back home, I made some quick notes on ideas bubbling up from the trip, then went out to hang up the wet wash. The day was growing warmer; the scent from the flowers thick and sweet as mead. Princess, the porch kitty, came to lie near me in a flower bed.

Ebony and Tilda watched enviously from inside their enclosure. William came out to sit on the cat habitat and survey the world at large.

Birds exchanged greetings in the trees. Filtered sunlight trickled down through the branches of the big maple that dominates the back yard. As I hung the clothes on the line, I sorted them; shirts, pants, paired up socks…(Ok, who around here has three feet? Those mesh bags are very needed!). I breathed the wonderful fresh air, cleaned by yesterday’s storms.

I made mental notes of needed back yard clean up.

Leaving the baskets under the clothes line where they would be handy later when the laundry had dried, I wended my way back inside. I felt happy, filled up with sunshine and fresh air.

As I settle in to a quiet lunch of left-overs (roasted chicken, vegetables and brown rice–all without added salt;sigh;), I concluded there was nothing wrong with my routines.

Grandma was a good woman. She kept her family together and fed. But I am pretty sure I will live longer, be happier and get just as much done with my own routine, rather than regretting or attempting the up-before-daylight home-long-after-dark ideology of my childhood.

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