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habits of home :: early mornings

By Thursday, February 13, 2014

When the alarm goes off at 5am I reach up quickly to shut if off and roll out of bed.  The bed is from Lukas's days in college and rests on a futon frame a few inches off the ground.  I feel about 80 years old as I try to coordinate sleep tightened muscles to stand.  If I'm lucky I won't step on one of the many blankets draped on the bed.  In the dark, in the sleep-dazed fog a blanket underfoot on the hardwood floor would be my slippery undoing.  I manage to shuffle feet into slippers and across the floor to the lamp.  I try not to punt the cat that is determined to assassinate me by affectionately standing exactly where I am expecting to place my feet and moving directly into the next spot that I choose in my attempt to avoid him.

"Ready for the light?" I ask Lukas, who is desperately keeping his eyes closed to get a few seconds more sleep.  He mumbles a response and I twist on the light.  There is no romance in the early work day mornings - a most decidedly unromantic time.  Night guards are washed, breakfast eaten, a lunch made, the cat cuddled or played with as he demands.  As Lukas gets ready to leave, he will invariably say, "Let's go to bed early tonight" and of course, I always agree.  Because that sounds so glorious right when I've been pulled from the warm bed and am facing the prospect of a full day.  A little something to look forward to, a relaxing evening , an early bed time, feeling less tired tomorrow.

I say, "Have a good day" to Lukas as he walks out the door.  Or as he exits the car if it was a slow moving morning and a ride to the BART station was required.  And then, with the house to myself and the cat who insists on peering through windows that show nothing but the dark outside, I do my best to avoid the pull of getting back into the bed.  It is hard to ignore and I will often catch myself wondering, "Maybe the bed is still warm under the covers."  Some days, if I'm truthful, I do turn back in; resetting my alarm again and again until I'm rushing out the door and forgetting things that I meant to do before leaving the house for the day.  The extra rest becomes anything but restful.

Some days, though, I don't go back to bed.  Some days I take my time getting ready, I read, and make my lunch.  And most recently, I do the prep work for that night's dinner.  Veggies chopped, spices measured, and meat set to marinate.  My favorite though is that when I finally walk out of the kitchen having done ahead all I can do and I flick off the light, the kitchen has been left all cleaned up.  Instead of my usual 85 percent effort that leaves most of the dishes washed, but food bits still in the sink and some jars put away with others only tucked into the corners of the counter; instead of that, I take the 5 seconds longer that it takes and actually leave things 100 percent complete.

That feels amazing.  Starting dinner in the evening doesn't require cleaning a messy mountain left earlier.  With the prep work done I can relax in cooking without taking all night to get dinner on the table.  The mess from cooking is minimal and I don't struggle to find the effort to get things cleaned up. I'm more inclined not to leave things for the morning and happy again to wake to a clean kitchen.  I marvel every time at what a great idea this was, much like I gush over how great an invention the tortilla press is every time I use it.  If I'm lucky, we'll head to bed early so that maybe the next morning 5am won't feel quite as painful.

done ahead this morning :: pizza dough set to rise

Other little bits of my life...