Pavlov Would Be Proud

We sold our house this week (hooray!) and now we’ve plunged into the bazillion details that go with closing down a household in one place and recreating it a thousand kilometres away.  That has left me with very little brainpower to spare, so my conditioned reflexes are taking over while my conscious mind is occupied.

That isn’t as helpful as you might think.

The strongest reflex is my reaction to the ring of my cell phone.  Before this all started I usually didn’t keep my cell phone with me, and the ringtone was silenced so I rarely noticed even if it did vibrate (much to the annoyance of my text-happy friends).

But for the past three months I’ve had an audible ringtone, and I’m so conditioned to answer it that I twitch even when I hear the same ringtone from someone else’s phone.  I’m afraid to speculate on how long it’ll take to overcome that, since habits tend to stay with me long after they’ve ceased to be relevant.

Take, for instance, my habit of looking into the oven before I turn it on.

‘Waaaaaay back in 1986, my apartment didn’t have a dishwasher.  I had cats and I didn’t always have time to do dishes; and I’d worked hard to train the cats to stay off the kitchen counter.  Part of that process was to never leave out anything tempting.  Dirty dishes are a kitty magnet, so if I was in a hurry I’d load the dishes into my dishpan and put it in the oven before leaving.  I never turned on the oven without first checking to make sure the dishpan wasn’t in it.

Fast-forward 30 years.  I’ve owned a home with a dishwasher since 1990, but I still open the oven before I turn it on.  A couple of years ago I caught myself doing that and resolved to not bother anymore.  After all, the habit had outlived its usefulness by a couple of decades.

But in spite of my new resolution, the next time I was baking I reflexively opened the oven before turning it on… only to discover that Hubby had left some parts in there (don’t ask me why).  That’s it; I’m doomed to open the oven before turning it on for the rest of my life.

I still think I’m seeing cats in my house, too.  Our last beloved cat died 12 years ago, but sometimes I’ll see an out-of-place object from the corner of my eye and think, “Cat!” before I realize what it actually is.  And when we visit cat-owning households, my foot automatically goes out to block feline access to the exterior door when coming and going.

But the worst is my Pavlovian response to the television.  The only times I ever watch TV are for major sporting events like the Grey Cup and Superbowl, or occasionally when Hubby and I watch a movie together.  The sports parties are giant junk-food-fests; and the movies always include hot buttered popcorn.  I start to salivate just walking by the TV.

Yep, Pavlov would be proud.

Anybody else have conditioned reflexes that won’t go away no matter how outdated they are?

60 thoughts on “Pavlov Would Be Proud

  1. That’s some quite funny self analysis there. It made me laugh. Yes, I have some Pavlov moments – like when the home phone rings I answer it and just stand there, like it’s joined to the wall with a curly cord. Like when I get home from food shopping and put the kettle on, even when it’s 36 degrees Celsius. Like when a kid (17 or 19) heads out the door and I still wonder if they’ve gone to the toilet first. Ha ha. (at least I’ve stopped asking!!) Loved your post.


    • Thanks, I’m glad you got a chuckle! Your ‘curly cord’ comment made me laugh – that happened to me when I first got my MP3 player, too. I was in the kitchen and I needed something from the garage. I found myself thinking, “I’ll just wait until this song ends before I go…” Then I remembered I was listening to a tiny portable device in my pocket, not speakers wired into the room!


  2. At least you know to check the oven first. When I was between homes a few years back, I lived with a friend for a couple of weeks. He didn’t tell me that he used his oven for anything OTHER than baking, so I decided to surprise him with dinner one night, and went about the plan, starting preparations. La-di-dah, come to find out AFTER I’ve turned on the oven and it’s begun warming for oh-quite some time – that he stored his tin foil, saran wrap and zip loc bags in there. Looked awful, smelled even worse. Thank heavens it only melted inside of a very browned box. Dinner was take out. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • We had a cobbler boil over in the oven recently. It was a new recipe we hadn’t tried before, and we thought all was well.

        Well, wrong. We were elsewhere in the house at the time, and by the time we smelled the mess, it was ‘way to late to do anything about it. Except to open all the doors and windows, of course, and hope the neighbors would refrain from calling the fire department.

        Just so you know, the self-cleaning feature on gas ranges, even the latest and most highly featured models, just plain sucks. Just an FYI.


  3. I have to knock every time I lock my door, Diane, otherwise I cannot remember whether I’ve done it or not. I have to tell myself at least five times that I’ve unplugged the iron to make sure it sinks in, otherwise a few hours later I panic thinking I’ve left it on (although sometimes I still do no matter how many times I’d told myself) I don’t think I’m conditioned to do these things, but I’m definitely conditioned to forget whether I’ve done them or not. Or maybe it’s just age now…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Every time I put a load of washing in the machine I have to check where are two cats are first. When one of them was a kitten, my daughter put a load in the machine, and – as such tasks were a bit of a novelty to her at the time – watched through the little viewing window as it started to go round. Curious, she thought, I didn’t think I’d put anything black in with my whites…. Eek! New black kitten had climbed in to explore! Cue panic while machine gets turned off at the wall and the agonising wait till the door can be opened. Luckily all ended well before kitten got scalded and washed, and he’s still going strong today.

    Sounds like your new house needs a new cat (or two)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ay-yi-yi!! That was my worst nightmare when we had cats. I once caught one hiding in the dryer moments before I turned it on, and the thought of what might have happened gave me the creeps for weeks.

      We might be due for some new feline friends once we get out there – it’s been a long time! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to go to the mall fairly often when my kids were in middle school – their afternoon sessions were quite short, so I did housework in the mornings and an-errand-a-day in the afternoons. Fast forward a few years, one child still at home, and doing school part-time, so I drove her. More than once, I headed for the mall instead of the school. I also ended up at the mall once when I was due at the garage to have my car worked on. I don’t even LIKE the mall – it just seems to be a gigantic magnet for my car …

    So happy for you that your house sold! You can sit on your furniture again! But only until the moving van comes !! Good luck with the move 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! We’re scrambling to pack all the things we’ll need in the next few months, while still keeping things relatively organized for the movers to pack. While they’re doing their thing, we’ll probably camp at our friends’ place, and then we’ll be ready for our big drive across the mountains to the coast. We’ll be sitting on other people’s furniture for the next few months.

      That’s so funny about the car-magnet mall! My car tends to want to turn toward the gym and/or the physiotherapist’s – they’re right across the street from each other so I’m usually heading in that direction for one reason or another.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I didn’t think I had any Pavlovian habits until I read everyone’s comments.

    Before I owned my Minneapolis home, I lived in an apartment just a block or two into St Paul in an area where the two cities are not divided by the Mississippi River. My best friend lives on the far side of St Paul from me. One night we went out to a place I hadn’t been for years – certainly not since moving five or more years previously. After the entertainment I offered to have her come to my place for a dessert or a beverage or something, and then I started driving towards St Paul, until my friend asked me if I was lost or had forgotten my invitation. I had forgotten that I no longer lived in St Paul. Embarrassing and worrying since nearly all my mother’s side got Alzheimer’s disease. It also disproves the idea that habits are broken in a few weeks.

    On Monday I also told my investment advisor that I am 62, so I have another 8 years before I must begin withdrawing from my IRA account. That night I woke up realizing I had inadvertently lied to him about my age. As hard as it is to realize or believe that I’m actually THAT OLD, I am actually a year older than I claimed. It seems like the shock of moving into my sixth decade was only a year ago.

    I echo others in congratulating you on your sale and offering best wishes on a smooth move and transition period into your new home, once it is finished.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, el Tea! The age thing always trips me up, too. I have to go back and do the math every time. “Let’s see, I was born in 1964 so that makes me…” God help me if I ever get hospitalized and they ask me those orientation questions:
      “How old are you?”
      “What day is it?”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Beth,
        I live within the city limits of Minneapolis but I teach out in Eagan and Bloomington and have no particular area I’m afraid of as some folks from the Minneapolis side seem to fear going to the St Paul side and vice versa. I’ve worked all over both sides of the metro area. I did note you and I share turf when you first introduced yourself to Diane’s blog world. Welcome, neighbor!

        Liked by 2 people

  7. I think we need to get you a drool cup. I am glad you sold the house so the moving adventure will give you plenty of fodder for the blog.
    It took years for me to stop brushing my hair out of my eyes. I’ll bet it had been gone for five or six years before I stopped doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right, I’d forgotten about the phantom hair! I’ve had long hair most of my life but a couple of times I cut it short… and promptly tried to brush it back umpteen times a day. (Plus my ears got cold – I hate that! Just one of many reasons why I wear my hair long.) 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • How could I have forgotten the hair? My hair was to my butt and when I was 24 I had it cut to my shoulders. I found out quickly that I had the habit of tossing my hair to the side when about to sit on the toilet seat. LOLOL The first few times I was in a public (narrow stall) restroom and did the head toss, I almost knocked myself in the head! And this is besides the other habit I had of grabbing the ends like worry beads. When the hair is not there, all of a sudden what you’re grabbing is your own butt! In public!!!! Very embarrassing. lol

        Liked by 1 person

        • Bahahaha!!! Yep, nothing like making questionable gestures in public! When I was trying to push up my phantom glasses, I think people wondered if I was about to flip them the bird. The finger rises rapidly to face level… 😉

          Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Visions or hallucinations might be an entertaining change from our current reality, but you’re right; they probably wouldn’t do much for my peace of mind. We’ll skip the hallucinogens for now… at least until we get to BC. *wink*

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Congratulations! I can feel your relief all the way down here, I think. That’s excellent news.

    And you’re patht the fifty-perthent plathe on the progreth bar for your nexth marvelouth epithode! You tho rock!

    Pavlovian behaviors? Yep, here’s one. My wife parks her car in the right-hand side of the garage. That way, she can just pull straight in when she arrives and back straight out when she leaves. Since our garage is a pretty tight fit for two vehicles (the proud banner of TWO CAR GARAGE on the realtor’s propaganda should be taken with a grain of salt, but we’ve had that conversation before), I back my ride into the garage on the left side. Precision is required if we are both to be able to exit our vehicles without hammering our doors against the other vehicle. Again, two full-sized vehicles are a snug fit.

    So, quite naturally, when I’m driving my wife’s ride, I invariably stop in front of the house and back into the driveway on the left side of the garage. My wife just sits there to see how long it takes me to come to my senses.

    The short answer is that it varies. 🙂

    What does she do when she’s driving my pickup, you ask? Why, nothing at all. She leaves it in the driveway, of course, to let me deal with it.

    That would be *her* Pavlovian reaction. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm, I dunno whether that’s Pavlovian or merely cleverly planned. 😉 We’ve got one of those ‘garage-with-shoehorn-required’ situations in our current house, too. The new place? Planning a 4-bay garage PLUS a workshop. We’re still waiting to see whether the budget will allow it, but we’re hoping!

      And thankth for the encouragement! I’m itching to get back to Book 12, but every waking moment has been consumed with move details since our sale became final on the weekend. The movers arrive next week, so I’m hoping I’ll get some quality writing time when the dust settles. Fingerth croththed!

      Liked by 1 person

          • Congratulations on a such a quick sale in Calgary’s sluggish market!

            My coInditioned response story involves my every three week drive to Saskatchewan. I was heading back to Calgary, stopped for gas in Dunmore and got back on the road, thinking about my grandkids. I was cruising along, thinking I must almost be at Suffield when the sign “Welcome to Saskatchewan” appeared! Sheesh!

            Give Carolynne my congrats on your quick sale!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks, Lori! That’s such a funny story – I can totally identify with it! I’ve driven that road back and forth so many times, and every time I stop for gas I think, “Okay, make sure you turn in the right direction…”

              I know most people would think I’m crazy, but I’m feeling sad that I likely won’t make that drive too many more times because flying from the coast is so much more efficient. I always enjoyed my drives across the open prairies. Well, except when there was a blizzard… or hail… or torrential rain… or a howling crosswind… Okay, I enjoyed the drive on the rare occasions when the weather was beautiful all the way through. 😉


        • Diane, It sounds like the view from the driveway at your new home will be a garage with a little bit of living space attached or nearby.

          I have friends who have done the same, but in the style of granola munchers in the city, as opposed to suburbanites with too many boats and ATVs. They and a single woman co-own a three-storey duplex with a full basement, and the back yard includes an underground fur storage facility that is about thirty or fourth feet by sixty feet. The previous owner was a furrier so the fur locker is all storage now. They recently bought a small property adjoining their property on the alley and built a six bay two-storey garage, configured three facing one way and the rest facing opposite, and one bay with an extra tall door so that when the camper is atop the pickup trucks they can still drive right in. Two bays are workspace of woodworking type rather than automotive type and the upper level is all storage. Who knows how much junk they have to store! The house is a bit like one of those hoarder’s houses even with the garage and fur locker. And they still have to park one car in the driveway. It’s the commuter car used when the pickup is too much vehicle for the trip. And the household has only three people.

          It sounds like you are able to spread out on your new property. I wonder of you have been the kinda trashy neighbors who have so many vehicles that you almost resort to parking cars on the grass when the driveway is full. I bet all the neighbors always have all their vehicles inside garages. Hee-hee. Is Aydan living your life of fascination with antique cars and her garage is your dream garage?

          SRG, it sounds like you are a bit envious of Diane’s dream garage. Is it the siren song of automotive restoration, the plentiful indoor parking and storage, or the luxury of workshop space, or all of it?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Years ago, some friends moved back to near where we lived at the time. They’d been quite successful in business, then sold out profitably and moved back. Bought a largish farm with row-crop acreage as well as pasture. They rented out the crop land and kept the pasture for their horses that they loved. He built a huge, nice-looking barn first for storage and shop space and built in some living quarters in the barn to tide them over until their big nice home that they’d always wanted could be planned and built. Soon, they discovered that they liked living in their big, nice barn well enough that they decked out their existing living quarters and just stayed in the barn. We visited them several times before we moved away, and it all worked so well that I’ve wanted to do the same thing ever since.

            My wife? Not so much.

            So we compromised and did it her way. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yeah, my dad had to make the same compromise. He was in love with the Rocky Mountains. He was in Colorado on business one summer and came home with the deed to a heavily wooded tract of land out in the wilderness many miles from neighbors or hints of civilization. It had a dirt road that got you to the property, but that’s all. It cost only five grand- just imagine the potential! Mom said NO. No cooking at elevation, no leaving her garden, her church, her children, just No! Thirty or more years have passed, and they are both gone, and the property is still as it was and has been for eons. It is little wonder. The land would be difficult to build on, the roads inaccessible more months than they would be accessible and even then the roads are often washed away in spring thaws and flooding. There are no utility services available and although most who choose to live out there are off the grid using bottled gas for light, hot water, cooking, and as backup home heating. One would pray that they don’t run out of gas before the roads are once again drivable. Since no one else lives on any of the four or five roads off the nearest major road, if you want plowed roads you need to plow them yourself or pay someone else to do it for you. I don’t know how else you could keep enough food to stay over the winter and spring months if you can’t get to town for half or more of the year. Arraignments can be made to truck in water in summer months at some cost, but most people drill wells. I’m sure there are still no cellular towers within range, and it would cost a fortune to run a landline in.

              I had a friend who lived just a quarter mile from electric and phone lines and it cost many thousands of dollars to bring those cables up to her house.

              My mom was wise to say no. I don’t think very many people could endure total isolation and the worries that go with being so close to terror of death if any number of calamities befell during their winter and spring months. If anyone had the skills to do so it was my parents, but I don’t think Dad thought about all the practical aspects of living year-round in the wilderness.

              I sold that property – never any of us except Dad seeing it except by satellite images for a thousand dollars more than the purchase price. I doubt we covers a third of the property taxes paid over the years. The buyer wanted it for private hunting grounds.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Satellite phone is the usual answer to the absence of communication. The rest of the downside would take money, hardiness, determination, skill, and did I mention money? Considered precisely the same thing thirty or forty years ago. Had everything except the money. Understand completely.

                Liked by 1 person

                • I would have been all set to do that 20 years ago. Now, not so much. Our new place is out in the country, but “the country” is only ten minutes’ drive on pavement to town and the fire hall is only 5 minutes away. Yep, we’re really roughing it…

                  Liked by 1 person

              • Come to think of it, el Tea, my wife’s granddad did something like that many, many years ago, except it was with a patch of meadow pasture land in Colorado. I’ve never been to it–don’t even know where it was–only heard bits and pieces of the story about it from her dad and aunt and uncles. What I gleaned from it all that ‘outsiders’ should do *all* their homework before buying rural land there. Something called ‘riparian rights’ is (or was, at least) used to, er, entice, uh, unsuspecting potential clientele into throwing money away.

                In Texas, if one buys, say, a farm, then the water rights, both above ground and underground, are conveyed with the title to the land, part and parcel. Not so in Colorado, from what I understand. After the transaction closed, Grandad started proceedings to get water wells drilled for cattle water and irrigation. That was when the parties involved informed him that he, in fact, owned no rights to any underground water at all, nor were they available at any price. To make a long–and rather interesting, from what Grandad’s kids said, and especially what they did NOT say–story short, Grandad declined the generous offer to sell the land back to those involved–at a loss–and kept the land.

                He did considerable research on his own and hired a bunch more done. I still don’t know what all was involved, but the bunch that tried to swindle him did not profit from their efforts at all. Quite the opposite, from what I understand, which is not much.

                The final outcome was that Grandad’s heirs finally just deeded the land back to the state for taxes after his passing. At the time, land prices were greatly depressed, and ‘landlocked’ ground with attached no water rights was practically worthless. Granted, the parcel was not large, and the initial amount of money wasn’t either, so it wasn’t a huge deal either way.

                But some lowlifes might have learned a lesson in the process. That in itself makes it worthwhile as I see it.

                Liked by 1 person

          • el Tea, I promise we have never been the trashy neighbours parking on the grass… but only because we have a corner lot where we can easily park 8 vehicles if necessary. (It’s never been necessary – the most we’ve ever had is 6, and one was a motorcycle so it didn’t really count. Right?) The thought of your friends’ place makes me shudder – I feel as though we’ve got far too much stuff already, and more would be overwhelming! But then again, I’m a thrower-outer. Hubby-the-packrat would probably be thrilled. 😉

            Aydan and Hubby and I all share the dream of the big garage and the love of antique cars. Maybe someday I’ll get to do a blog post about finishing my ’53 Chevy, but I’m not holding my breath. There’s a lot of budget between now and then!

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Congrats on selling your house!! That was fast, yay!

    Oh, boy. Conditioned responses, yep. I used to think it was funny as a young adult when my mom would automatically put her arm out to brace me when we’d be driving and come up on a stop. Imagine my surprise when I did it to my own grown kids! LOL It’s a generational conditioned response, good grief!

    I’ve done the wrong turn at work after my desk got moved. The all too familiar writing of the previous year during the first couple of months of each new year.

    I currently work from home most of the time and so I don’t need to wear makeup every day. It took weeks for me to stop checking my face throughout the day, wiping under my eyes, etc. Now I have the other problem. I’m so used to not wearing makeup that I sometimes go places looking like I just got up. Egads!!

    Supposedly, it only takes 4 weeks for something to become a habit. How many years to break one?

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! That’s hilarious! And I don’t know about that ‘4 weeks’ thing – it seems as though good habits take a lot longer to form, and bad habits are virtually instantaneous. 😉

      I’ve done the ‘wrong turn for the desk’ thing, too. And how about ‘pushing up invisible glasses’? When I had LASIK surgery it took years for me to stop pushing up my non-existent glasses. Now that I wear reading glasses for the computer, I’m starting to do it all over again!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Our old cat passed on about 8 years ago, but still I call “Puss” whenever I open a can of salmon. She loved to lap up the juice after I drained it into her dish. Old habits die hard. Glad to hear you sold your house!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sandy – we’re relieved that it’s over! Now we’re eager to get out of the snow and cold… but it turns out they’re having freakish weather on the Island and it’s snowing out there. Go figure.

      It’s hard to break those cat-related habits, isn’t it? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. My human’s friend had the ultimate Pavlovian experience (or so he says)
    He got up in his wife and his new home to relieve his aging bladder, made his customary trip through his bedroom door, turned right to the bathroom, went inside and washed down the rug in their new walk in closet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yikes! I’m laughing and wincing at the same time! I’m afraid something like that might happen to us when we move – our new bathroom will be on the opposite side of the room to where we expect it, and our new closet is where our current bathroom is. Uh-oh…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Years and years ago, number one son was probably about four or so. We lived in a two storey house at the time. The kids’ bedrooms were upstairs, and the master bedroom and master bath were downstairs. Thuh Missus had a piano at the time that was parked in the living room, also on the bottom floor and down a short hallway from our bedroom.

      Both boys were housebroken by then, but we heard number one son padding downstairs late one night.

      “Hm,” we thought. “That’s odd.”

      He walked from the foot of the stairs through the master bath, passed by our open bedroom door, then down the hall to the living room. We had no clue what he was doing, so my wife got up to investigate.

      A moment later I hear her exclaim, “Oh, no! Hold it! Hold it, hold it hold it!

      He’d pulled her piano bench away from the piano, lifted the lid on the bench, and proceeded to drop his drawers. That’s when my wife snatched him up, rapidly hauled him into the bathroom, and stood him in front of the commode.

      Yep, he was dead asleep.

      Afterward, she watched as he flushed the toilet, pulled up his underwear and PJs, padded back upstairs, navigated his way through the furniture in the sitting area at the head of the stairs, went back into his room, and crawled back into bed. Still dead asleep.

      New carpet, I’d think, would be easier to deal with under such circumstances than a piano bench full of sheet music. Especially since the bench would not hold, er, water, and it, too, was sitting on new carpet. In the living room. Pavlov notwithstanding, of course. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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