Boredom and a foggy crystal ball

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk

Long ago I learned not to EVER tell my mother I was bored. The consequences were a lot more chores than I cared to do and did nothing to relieve my childhood boredom. I used the same “solution” with my children years later.


Parents conveniently think that “bored” means “I don’t have anything to do.” What it means – and misters Merriam and Webster agree with me – is a lack of interest in one’s current activity.

The pains in the ribs and knee have definitely led to a week-plus of boredom. Add in the complete vacuum of television shows I am interested in watching and the fact that when I do go to the computer to work – like today – my stamina is lacking, both because of the pain and the fact that I am still seeing pretty much out of one eye, having missed my second cataract surgery because of the fall.

What a mess!

Tonight, as soon as I finish Kitchen Table Talk, I have to make the decision whether to leave with my husband on Friday for an eight-day cruise to the southern Caribbean. We have been looking forward to this, having never been to Aruba or Curacao, two of the port stops. Husband, friends and children are hesitant to offer advice, although one is fairly transparent with, “So, you’re going anyway?” and another the same in the other direction, “You won’t heal any slower sitting on a ship’s deck!”

The problem is that my crystal ball is foggy. I do get better every day. I do have a scooter ordered to help me navigate the massive ship. Still, getting to a standing position from a low chair requires immediate assistance from my husband. And the knee is still sore enough – and my fear of falling again strong enough – that I use the walker when I go out of the house.

Some boredom relief came right after my column last week about falling. Carolyn McDonald sent me a link to an archive of Wordle games, a New York Times word game I thoroughly enjoy that has only one puzzle per day. I jumped right in.

Two days later, I went back to the link to find this message: “Thank you for playing the Wordle Archive, and for all your nice compliments and feedback that helped make the site better. Sadly, the New York Times has requested that the Wordle Archive be taken down.”

Sounds like lawyers have been talking to lawyers.

So, back to boredom.

Earlier today I was editing a project paper with my younger son, Brett. We were on a Zoom link when Gardner, my 5-year-old grandson, came into the frame with “Gigi!”

Now there’s a boredom buster! The project got shuffled aside as Gardner took me through the busy, busy life of a kindergartner. He amazed me as he solved math problems his papa asked him. He counted to 100 by fives and then by tens. He named all the shapes. He recited his mother’s phone number. Then he turned the tables on me: “Do you know how to spell my name, Gigi?”

“Yes,” I told him, “I do, because it is my name, too.”

He looked puzzled. “Your name is Gigi,” he said.

I explained that my name was also Sherri Gardner Howell and that he was named after me. Another puzzled look, then he rushed on, “Well, I’ll spell it for you anyway: G-A-R-D-N-E-R.”

The time to get back to work came right after, but the interlude was wonderful while it lasted.

As for the cruise decision: I may just flip a coin. Head, I go. Tails, I wait until tomorrow to decide…

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons. Her newest adventure is as a travel agent with her own company, SGH Go Travel. Email her at sghgotravel@outlook.com.

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