Out Of The Doldrums

Ever since April, 2020, Husband has stayed at home, seeing only a few psychotherapy clients a week and filling his time with volunteer work and gardening. He was relieved to be done working on the Reservation. He had his pension and Social Security.

I noticed over the last year, though, that he just didn’t seem to be getting much done at home, and his typically solemn demeanor became even more lugubrious.

Since he was hired at his new, part-time job last week, everything has changed, the world is full of new and exciting possibilities, and I can hardly keep up with him. It is really good to see. He really was deep in the doldrums, and I didn’t realize just how deep. He feels he has a purpose again. A ten hours a week job made a huge difference! His new found exuberance has partly taken the form of cooking, however, and I worry we may need to get a new freezer.

What helps you to feel really happy? What helps to get you out of a funk? What gives you purpose?

37 thoughts on “Out Of The Doldrums”


  1. Music, naturally.
    “There is more happiness in giving than receiving.”
    My bird people are happy receiving what I feed them each day.
    While on my daily walks, I’ve begun bringing along a small bag to pick up trash.
    I keep up with donations to several public radio stations.
    I keep visiting Dad.
    In all these cases, there is little or no recognition.
    None required.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I need a farm in Devon.
    As yesterday, Funny you should ask that Renee. I need to get out of a mini doldrum right now.
    “I need to find the date my father bought his hoe.” It looked a bit silly, once I wrote it down. Later, I was reminded of all the struggles
    some Baboons were having, (compared to somebody’s hoe) and I struggled myself, just to think of one nice thing say to each of them. As you see, I never said them. I’m sorry. I do care,although we hardly know each other.
    I was already aware Jane wasn’t impressed with my detective work. Because she didn’t make a single comment, as I sat all day, looking at the cards on which I’d written cute little memories. Things conflicted more, the more cards I put down. So what was I trying to find out? I was asking things that weren’t in the original brief. What was it I wanted to know, at the end of all this vacant staring and remembering? I defiantly carried on, slowly feeling more silly and deflated. I mean, who cares? Packed up all the cards now. Maybe I’ll try another time. But that’s not the cause of the doldrum, it’s something else that I can’t talk about. Not trying to be tantalising, just accurate. This project took my mind off it for a few hours, but really I need to be busy in my workshop. I’ve been disorganised and not given myself time. I just need to sort myself and go out there mending junk and motorcycles, and I’ll be OK.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This weekend he made two gallons of borscht from our garden beets and cabbage, Italian veal and beef meatloaf with Arrabbiata sauce, a German duck, barley and mushroom soup, and graham buns.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. All the while feverishly searching for a pastitsio recipe for this coming weekend that would use the ground lamb in the freezer as well as an eggplant from the garden. Today he is making sour dough rye bread before he leaves for Bismarck tonight.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Renee, just out of interest, if we run out of freezer space, we have a spare one we can plug in another one. If you ever visit (and you’re certainly welcome), you can always bring a cold bag or two.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. We grow Spanish Giant sweet red peppers, and they are ripening rapidly, and I will stuff them with corn and black beans and bake them this weekend.

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        2. The Spanish peppers are also called Doux D’Espagne pepper. They are rare in the US, but really lovely and huge.

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  4. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    After my recent encounter with pain and immobility, I have a new item to add to my list of things that keep me happy: mobility without pain. Pain and immobility made me very grumpy, beyond that doldrum zone.

    Other longer standing items are garden, making art stuff, a little bit of work but not too much, and close friends and a few family members. Some family I would gladly allow to fall away into the No Contact Zone. The social isolation of the pandemic taught me a lot about staying happy and satisfied. While the effects of social isolation are elaborately studied and documented in the world of psychology, the pandemic further emphasized this. Life at home on-line was not enough for me. I needed a lot more social interaction in person than the pre-vaccine pandemic would allow. One of the joys of the summer has been that my Mentor Group of Master Gardeners came together as a group. First we weeded and re-mulched the Extension Service office garden, readying it for replanting after a year and a half of neglect due to a closed office. Touring and sharing our own gardens with each other took six weeks after the Extension Office garden was done. I loved it. My garden tour was Friday. In the rain. So, I was wet but happy. The combination of goals and social contact felt like rehabilitation from social isolation. AHHHH.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I was lucky in the pandemic. Socially, not so much. But I was busy. We weren’t supposed to go anywhere unnecessary. But every day, it was reasonable to drive to my inlaws house in the campo, and speak to them through the gate. Fetch and carry so they could stay home, in safety. While I was out that way, well. May as well drive down the hill and park on our ground a bit further down. And make forays onto the abandoned land all around there, cutting down dangerous, fire-hazard pine trees, and carrying the wood back to our little shed to store for firewood. A public safety service really, that I worked on every evening for an hour or two, with no one else about. I kind of expected to switch off the chainsaw, look up, and get arrested. Or get picked up on drones, which I undoubtedly did. But I’m still here, free. We decided I’d stop, eventually.
      But I stayed busy, safely, through the worst of the lockdown.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Joy:
    Music, golf (on certain days only–on some days I seriously question my sanity regarding that stupid game); my wife’s giggle and the twinkle in her eye; and how young and innocent and beautiful she looks when she’s snuggled up in bed with just her head showing and she’s smiling and saying “Good night, I love you.”; having a complete stranger come up to me at a book signing event and saying “I really enjoyed your book. When’s the next one coming out?”; paddling a glass-calm lake in the BWCAW; sitting around a perfect campfire after said paddle;

    Purpose:
    Writing books and supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters with some of the “profits,” which is a technical term for the day I break even on my writing expenses by generating enough sales. ;-); exercising and eating healthy food so I can live to 100 or more (and be in good health and sound mind of course)–just because I’m curious about what the world will look like in 2056; honoring my parents and my marriage vows and my credo of non-violence and making a positive contribution to my little corner of the world.

    I’m sure I could think of more things in each category but I’m boring myself, which means I’m boring you. Great question, Renee.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I also can tell he is feeling better since he intends to buy a chromatic concertina when we are in Golden , CO next month for a wedding. Buying musical instruments is a sign of high spirits.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I know when I’m whistling that things are OK. When I’m stressed, I don’t whistle.
      Kelly knows, if I come home and I’m whistling when I get out of the car that I’m in a good mood.
      Silence doesn’t automatically mean I’m not, but it’s good when I am.

      Staying busy helps; Twenty years ago I was going through a rough patch. It was late winter and I didn’t have a lot going on so my brain had too much time to sit and think about stuff. And then spring came and I got busy and didn’t have so much time to sit around and worry. That helps.

      Physically as much as mentally / emotionally. Last year, working from home and sitting so much I got cramps in my hamstrings and my shoulders hurt. All summer and home outside doing stuff and working and I had no issues with any of those things. Back at college now and I can feel it coming back in the hamstrings. Gotta make myself get up and move more.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. I’m pretty good at entertaining myself but the open-endedness of the pandemic, plus the responsibility to avoid, where possible, excursions out of the house led to a kind of lassitude due to the daily sameness where nothing had a particular deadline and it was easy to lose track of where you were in the week.

    With all that time that I would have otherwise spent running pointless and unnecessary errands, I was motivated to find some other worthy ways to fill my days.

    In the spring of 2020, I became aware of a citizen volunteer project sponsored by the Newberry Library in Chicago to transcribe their collection of handwritten letters of pioneer families. I signed on and began transcribing the letters to a form that would be not only more readable but searchable. The trouble was, after a dozen or so letters, it became apparent that the letters mostly told about other letters that had come and ones that had been sent to other recipients. There was very little other content.

    That’s when I discovered a similar project at the Boston Public Library where they were making their collection of thousands of letters between abolitionists, American and British, from the 1840s onward, available to volunteers willing to suss out the sometimes almost impenetrable handscripts. These were fascinating and sometimes historically significant. They offered insight into the individual personalities of some well-known figures and provided a challenging puzzle at the same time.
    I was spending 3 to 4 hours each day transcribing and kept at it until the library ran out of letters.

    From there, I began signing up for free online classes. Those were something of a mixed bag and a little unsatisfying in that they were structured so that it was nearly impossible to fail (multiple choice tests and you get three tries) and there was no real opportunity to interact substantively with the instructors or other students. I took courses in the history of photography from the Museum of Modern Art, a course pertaining to Japanese art and the inscriptions that frequently accompany the graphic, traditional methods of divination, and a course on discerning history from the physical properties of nineteenth century books. The best course was one offered by Harvard called something like Tangible Objects and it was about perceiving history through artifacts. The course included numerous specific cases and required written responses and expositions that I found engaging. My biggest disappointment was that there was no interaction with the presenters or teaching assistants and, although the course was designed to enable interaction between the participants, very little of that happened, even when I suggested something in my comments that should have been provocative.

    I sort of ran out of online classes that caught my fancy, most of them being aimed at advancing one’s career skills. Next, I decided to catalog some of my books, particularly the mid-nineteenth century humor, so as to make my holdings in that area communicable. Then I put mylar covers on a couple hundred of my most prized books.

    Last fall I rebuilt a cramped back stairway into an expansive mini deck. I have many more house projects I could undertake but some of that lassitude persists.

    When the pandemic truly retreats, I’d like to resume some of our spontaneous one or two day trips and perhaps a couple of larger ones.

    Liked by 7 people

  8. The question suggests there are conditions that make us feel good or bad. Much of my life has been based on that assumption. Now I think that is an illusion. Happiness happens when things go better than usual or better than I expected. Dismay and gloom happen when things go worse. It is all relative. Sometimes happiness fills my heart when I can visit the bathroom without experiencing pain. Sometimes I can go a week without a direct conversation with anyone, but then I am given a two-hour visit with my daughter. Nothing is absolute.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. A little bit OT but it made me think of this speech that was going around for a while:

    [Spoken: Lee Perry]
    Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’97:

    Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now

    Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; or never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine

    Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
    Bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
    Never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday

    Do one thing every day that scares you

    Sing

    Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts; don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours

    Floss

    Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself

    Remember the compliments you receive; forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how

    Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements

    Stretch

    Liked by 6 people

  10. Reading, cooking, thinking, listening to music, writing, interacting with people I care about, and helping out where I can. All pretty low key, and that’s just fine with me.

    Last week I read Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It. What a marvelous little book. Right now I’m half-way through Pico Iyer’s Autumn Light, and delightful read that I’m enjoying immensely. Lots of food for thought in Autumn Light. It’s set in Japan, and I’m thinking it might be a book Robin would enjoy, not that the rest of you wouldn’t.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Autumn Lightlooks good. I’d like to read it too. I’ll have to ask Robin if she has read any Iyer.

      In the last week I’ve read Michael Perry’s Montaigne in Barn Boots and a book by the travel writer Jan Morris about Lincoln, which was decidedly not a hagiography. I would recommend both of them.

      In the last year and a half my reading has taken me down some formidable rabbit holes but I don’t really expect the Baboons would share my interests.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. Unlike you, I don’t keep a list and probably couldn’t recall every book but I guarantee that it would be a long and idiosyncratic reconstruction.

          Liked by 3 people

  11. I find that I feel a little refreshed after I’ve been to the gym. I don’t work very hard, I just do the stationary bicycle and read but it feels good to get out of the house and the fresh air once I get out of the gym is always nice as well.

    And of course this time of year State Fair seriously gets me out of the doldrums. YA and I have spent a planning session now with a map and the coupon booklet to make sure we don’t miss any of our favorites or new things that we want to try.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Just a heads up. My laptop is giving me warning that my battery is about to give out. The earliest appointment to get it fixed is on Friday afternoon. If you don’t hear from me, it’s because I’m out of juice. Hopefully I’ll see you on the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A laptop’s first task is power management, so if the battery is going bad, it can get hung up on figuring out what’s wrong with the battery, and fail to start up. But if you remove the faulty battery completely, the laptop should draw power from the power cord to boot up, bypassing the battery altogether..

      Liked by 2 people

      1. So far it’s starting up just fine, but the warnings are ever more urgent that the battery is on its last juice. I have no idea how to remove the battery, it would involve removing at whole bunch of tiny screws, and I don’t think I’m up for that. But thanks for the tip. I think I’ll try to figure out how to use Hans’ iPad in the interim.

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