Busy and Bored

The home improvement phase continues. The Sherwin Williams Snowbound in the family room is crisp and clean. The Benjamin Moore White Dove in the hallway is a little softer. I’m oddly chuffed about the hall closet. Painting is the easy part, but the prep and the cleaning and the ever-present worry of spilling a bucket of paint or stepping in wet paint adds to the stress, so I’ve toned down my enthusiasm. I’ve paused the painting and spruced up the spaces I’ve painted. An abrasive sponge and some cleaner will pick up the–ahem!–paint splatters from floors and door frames. I moved a small bookcase out of the family room–which opened up the room, natch–turned it on its side, put it on the floor of the closet, and now we have cubbies for shoes. I simply moved a shoe rack from one corner to another, and the hallway seems to flow in a new direction. I used the power screwdriver to install a new hook rack in the closet and to switch the two racks in the hallway. I even used the drill function for the first time. These simple changes yield big results. I walked in the house today and exclaimed, “Well doesn’t this look sharp?” to the dogs.

I haven’t painted the upstairs hallway yet, but I moved a bookcase next to another bookcase, transforming the landing. Now I have a big empty wall that’s going to be a lovely White Dove after the next painting surge, and I’ve started to think about what to do with it. I’m keen on those German schoolhouse botanical charts:



but they’re expensive, so I began shopping around. That led to a latent interest in mushrooms. Would it be too morbid to buy a vintage print of poisonous mushrooms?



It could be educational and metaphorical, as if I’m teaching my children to be wary, especially of beautiful things. Then again, the poster is German, so my kids might see nothing but fungi.

This vintage German poster search somehow led to searches for vintage German home decor. And then I learned a whole lot about midcentury planters, German and otherwise, because it’s time to introduce some plants back into this house. I’m kind of digging the McCoy planter, about which I knew nothing until two days ago.




Maybe it’s occurred to you that I have too much time on my hands. Funny thing is, I don’t. I am working so hard and I’m exhausted. But I’m also so lonely and bored out of my mind. All of this online window shopping seems to be filling a need for a hobby. I need a hobby. I need to rest. I need more time for work.

At work, despite my resolve to ease up on service, I remain involved. I just finished up my second search committee, and now I’m on a third. It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s important work for the university. I am still involved in these new campus initiatives. There’s this committee, that one, that other one, and I initiated the visit of a really interesting speaker to bring to campus. This is all good stuff. I’m getting myself out there. I’m contributing. And I have nothing better to do. I mean, I do. I have to cook and clean and parent and walk the dogs and shop and teach and read and drive and shovel and exercise. But, golly, I’m looking for something else.

A well-designed poster in my building caught my eye, and then I realized that the invited speaker coming to campus next week, in an area outside my own, does the same kind of research my co-author and I are doing. I put the public lecture on my calendar, but the next thing I knew I contacted the Director of the Center that is hosting the speaker to see if I could meet with the speaker one-on-one. She set up a coffee date for us. I used my Amazon Prime to get the speaker’s book delivered, pronto. I’m going to read up, and next week I’ll talk to someone I never thought I would be talking to.

I really don’t have time for this. I came home from work today to find that both toilets were clogged. (My regular toilet paper is out of stock, and the kids seem to just unroll the new toilet paper right into the toilet.) One toilet overflowed, but that was the easy one. In the other, the dogs had taken the toilet paper out, and I found it strewn in various places in my nicely painted hallway, family room, and even on the newly carpeted stairs. I plunged, I soaked up, I mopped, I disinfected. This is what I came home to, right after I remarked on how sharp the place looks. I’m overtaxed. But, oh gosh, I’m so darn bored. I feel like I have time for anything else but this.

After that, I capitulated to boxed veggie burgers from the bakery, because it seemed wrong to chop and saute veggies after spending so much time with toilets. The owner of the bakery rang me up and I expressed embarrassment at my last-minute purchase of vegetarian junk food. “What are you kidding?” he said. “We eat these all the time!” The local producers of food are also very busy, apparently. “Do you have rolls?” he asked. I told him I was just going to use our (local) bread. He ran to the back and came back with some rolls that hadn’t risen properly and couldn’t be served. He put 4 in the bag, and then I think he felt awkward. “Four burgers. Four rolls,” he pointed out, trying not to refer to the mere three people in the family. I assured him that the hungry teenager would make good use of the fourth. “You’re the best,” I said, as I left, and he is. There are all sorts of good people and things out there. I don’t have a lot of time to discover them. But I think I need to.


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