Do You Ever Get Bored Out There?

2017-08-29 09.03.59A friend asked if I ever get bored living on the ranch. I outright laughed at the question. The day after she called, we were woken by two illegal immigrants who showed up looking for food. After they left, I picked apples and canned apple butter until well after the sun went down. Ron came in yesterday with a crate of pears. Before setting them down, he looked at me apologetically and said, “You probably don’t want to see these right now.” Last night a rattlesnake met at us at the backdoor, and this morning we spent nearly an hour scouring the desert for an abandoned Great Pyrenees. This afternoon I am making peach jam if I can find the Sure Jell among my canning supplies. Tonight I would like to get some school work done. Classes started a week ago.

I can say with certainty that no, I have never been bored out here. But I have been exhausted and I find myself feeling that way more and more. It’s a combination of the demands I put on myself and the feeling that I just can’t seem to get ahead of the work. This isn’t something unique to country living. I look at my friends and family who live in the city, and I don’t know how they do it. Working forty plus hours a week at jobs that many find unsatisfying. Carting kids around town for games, practices, and lessons. Eating on the fly and sleeping five or six hours a night all the while living a stone’s throw from neighbors they are expected to acknowledge and act kind towards even on their worst days.

The CDC states that demanding schedules and sleep deprivation are killing us. Hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity, and even some cancers are linked to our frantic lifestyles, and there are no signs of us slowing down any time soon. Author Mary Mann explores boredom in her new book “Yawn, Adventures in Boredom,” and admits that in our culture it isn’t cool to be bored or boring. That’s okay with me. I’ve never been accused of being cool. I wouldn’t mind a little boredom if it means I get to take a nap.

I thought of my friend this week while in town babysitting our two-year-old granddaughter. I had stepped out onto the front porch in my underwear and a t-shirt at my stepdaughter’s and son-in-law’s house. Minutes passed before I realized I wasn’t at the ranch rather in town surrounded by people. I crept back inside the house praying no one had spotted me. Our granddaughter met me at the door wearing only a diaper, and I thought how lucky she is. I couldn’t wait to go back to the ranch. I may be as busy as everyone else, but at least I get to sit on my front porch in my underwear.

Losing More Than My Mind

StockSnap_7IMNZ3WFWPThis week I managed to lose the clicker for the stereo and one of four stainless steel cat dishes. At some point each day, the need to recover these items nips at me until I give in, tossing my to-do list aside. Crazy thoughts go through my head as I fling couch cushions and check drawers and the refrigerator. (Yes, the refrigerator.)  Who stole the clicker? Did I throw away the kitty dish? Did Ron take the clicker? Why would he do that? Oh my God, I’m losing my mind! Before full-blown panic sets in, something in need of my attention distracts me, and I’m off to grade papers, defrost the freezer, or water trees.

I didn’t lose a thing as a kid. It was an adult malady that I never quite understood. I’d roll my eyes when my mom asked if I’d seen her keys or her purse. A bunch of us moaned when my tenth grade English teacher searched her desk for her glasses, which happened often. A friend nearly died of embarrassment when her mom thought she lost her car in the Kohl’s parking lot only to learn it had been stolen while she shopped the post-Christmas 50% Off Sale. No, this losing thing didn’t start until I had a house and responsibilities of my own. And it’s gotten worse over time. Sometimes I don’t even know I’ve lost something until it shows up. I found a can of soup in my truck that by my estimation had been lodged under the front seat for three months. Last week I found a sweater I forgot I had bought.

Some things are meant to stay lost: a cause, our virginity, our marbles. But most things, like the clicker and the cat dish, are meant to be found. I like to know where my things are. It gives order to my life and provides a sense of stability. I may be wearing mismatched socks, but if I know the book I’m reading is on my nightstand, I’m okay.

It seems the losing things conundrum is tied to multitasking and our obsession with time. I shove the car keys in my pocket as I grab a bag of groceries and a thirty pound box of cat litter from the bed of the truck then rush inside to make dinner because it’s six-fifteen and at seven I have a phone conference with a student. The next day I go for my keys. and they’re not in my purse or on the counter. My first thought? Who stole my keys?

Like prayers or a glass of wine, the lost clicker and cat dish are like talismans sent from a sacred place to remind me to slow down.