Friday, April 16, 2010


What to do when there's nothing to do

What a week. I am not yet at the end of my rope, but there it is, in plain sight. Attic renovations continue, and the house is too noisy and messy to get much done as far as my usual round of contemplative activities goes. That, and our car is in the shop, after stranding us for the very first time ever at these nice people's yard sale. There were many cartons of books at the sale, which is why we stopped - I even ran into one of my favorite antiquarian booksellers there, he stopped too, for the same reason - but the books were uniformly terrible. We called Triple A. And waited. They never arrived. A handy fellow overheard us talking and helped get the car started so we could limp home. We finally got it to the garage yesterday. All that is to say that I am housebound for now, and anxious about what the mechanic will be telling me later today about the state of our vehicle. Ryan is carpooling to work with a friend. It's too cold to paint outside. I'm too tired to go running. I'm stranded in rural Maine. Really the only thing left to do is garden.

It's actually too cold to garden, too, but not to prepare to garden. So this week I've cleaned out the vegetable beds and ripped deeply-buried grass roots out from under the stone that surrounds them. Another week or two and I can start planting. And my big spring project is well underway: expanding the little herb bed into something larger and more attractive. When we moved here it had pressure-treated lumber around it, which was never good-looking in the first place, and has not aged well in the last two years. Yesterday I removed all that ugly stuff, weeded out around it, uprooted a lot of sod to double the size of the bed, and dug a small trench around the edges. Then Ryan and I went for a walk in the woods behind the house, where loads of beautiful old fieldstone reside. Decades ago this house had an ell and a giant barn, both of which had fieldstone foundations. This stone is now scattered around the edges of our acre. We found more than enough to make a stone wall around the herb bed. I can't lift most of them, but I can pry them along, and roll them into place.

It's satisfying work. And what more fitting thing to do right now, than roll stones around like Sisyphus.

I sympathize with you--we're in week 4 of a renovation project. The work is completed and we're slowly putting the contents back together. Disruptive, to say the least. We did leave the state for a few days to really get away from it all, but my work and bookscouting has suffered, my garden is late, and I have no field stones to roll--only weeds to pull as it heats up down here. On the plus side, I discovered and have been reading Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris, which I highly recommend. Hang in there--it will get better and at least YOU'LL have a garden!
Hi Chuck, I do love that Anne Fadiman book. The little Rockwell Kent illustration on the front cover is a particular favorite of mine - it's from a bookplate he designed, I seem to recall?

Yes, I too am hoping to get back to my quiet uneventful life someday soon. When, lord, when.

Thanks for checking in here - I appreciate your comment, as always. Best of luck with the completion of your project...
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