“So what are your plans for the day,” my wife often asks.
I have to have plans. She does things, which normally consist of going to her friends to have coffee or talking to them on the phone. But I need to have something scheduled for the day or she’s afraid there’s a chance I’ll waste it on the computer or watching TV. Maybe my plans are being on the computer or watching TV, but she never thinks of that.
My wife wants me to get a hobby I can do in the winter. I actually have a hobby: I putter, as in “I’m going out in the backyard to putter around.” I’m not exactly sure what you are supposed to do when you putter. Usually I just stand on the patio staring at our fence, wondering why the heck I came out there. The problem is, I have two doors I have to open and close to get out in the backyard. At my age, the combination of having to turn the doorknobs and make sure the doors are pulled closed behind me taxes my ancient brain cells and doesn’t leave room for the reason I had come outside to begin with. So I don’t do much puttering, whatever that is. I just stand for a while looking stupid, before I walk over and check the birdfeeder—I figure if my neighbors are watching, it will dissuade them from calling the authorities on the poor old man in the neighborhood who wanders around aimlessly in his backyard—before I go back inside to get on the computer or watch TV. After a little bit, I’ll remember I have some serious puttering to do, and again I’ll head for the backyard. But of course there are those two complicated devil doors to go through … It’s a vicious, never-ending cycle.
I have hobbies I do in the summer. I garden, fish, and do things to the yard—most people would call it landscaping, but that has the connotation of some artistic talent of which I have none. I used to have winter hobbies. I snowmobiled and ice fished. I was fanatical about ice fishing. In my garage I have a power auger, two portable fish houses and countless containers of ice fishing lures and equipment, including tiny ice fishing rods that look as if they were made for Munchkins. I can remember sitting on a plastic bucket out on the lake ice in a blizzard. I sat there for hours in near zero temperatures with the wind blowing so hard I couldn’t see more than a few yards through the blowing snow. I didn’t have a clue in which direction the shore was or how I was going to find it, and I kept on fishing until darkness came and made everything even more difficult. And I didn’t do this just once, I did it numerous times. The comedian Stephen Wright once said, “There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore looking like an idiot.” Sometimes in ice fishing that line is completely obliterated.
My wife has suggested we take up cross country skiing as a hobby. Sometimes when she watches the Olympics, the athletes make everything look so easy that she doesn’t realize the muscle pain the next day alone would put people our age in the hospital. Maybe I can talk her into waiting until this summer when it’s not so cold to try cross country skiing. Until then I guess I’ll just keep working on the computer and watching TV and puttering of course. Which reminds me, I need to go out in the backyard and do a little puttering.
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