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Things to do in February

It’s a good thing that February is the shortest month of the year, because it comes at a time when, let’s face it, the world is just not at its best. Despite the consistently-warmer-than-average winter, the world is mostly dead, brown, and ugly, a fact that would drive anyone with any sense straight inside to watch back-to-back episodes of “Bones.”

We, of course, eschew television, so we’re stuck rereading Terry Pratchett novels and watching the dog sleep. This is not conducive to good mental health, so we went surfing the internet for ways to pass the time in February. Turns out, that isn’t a good move, either, because we got the following ideas, not a one of which we’re making up.

“Style at Home”magazine, apparently in an attempt to upstage Martha Stewart, had the following suggestions:

1.) Wash the insides of the windows. Really. Fellow citizens, I have never, ever, been that bored.

2.) Read a manual. Remember, I am not making this up. The editors of Style direct us, in ponderous and patronizing tones, to find the manual for that appliance that we’ve never figured out, and read it until we understand how things work.

I have a weather station that I stare at in bewilderment from time to time, but the manual was a single-fold sheet explaining where the battery goes. Let’s move on.

3.) Clean out the medicine cabinet. I don’t have one. I’m not going to come over and clean out yours.

4.) Examine your summer shoe collection. My summer shoe collection consists of an ancient pair of Birkenstocks and a pair of open-toed floral pumps the mere sight of which makes my feet hurt. It will take me about thirty seconds to examine them and a couple of days to understand why I did so. I will have 27 days of February left.

Obviously “Style at Home” is not going to be my solution. I moved on to the maven of to-do lists, Martha herself, to see if she could help me do anything better. Her very first suggestion was, “Clean and organize the potting shed.”

I don’t HAVE a potting shed. I do all my container gardening chores at a bench under the back deck, surrounded by earwigs, spiders, and miscellaneous oddments left over from the rebuilding of the deck itself.

I would clean my trowel, but I can’t find it. I can find my shovel, but it is in the recently flooded basement and has become a haven for spiders. I won’t go near it.

Martha having let me down so horribly, I went looking for anything at all that might ease the pain of the shortest month. I discovered that I won’t be cross-country skiing in Great Brook, Mass. I will not be able to visit a butterfly garden in Chicago, and I most certainly won’t be attending the Authentic Happiness lecture series in St. Louis.

I am not going to learn to knit. If I “have a novel inside” me, it had better have the decency to stay there. I am afraid of the kind of novel I would write in February. I will not organize my socks, learn to make puff pastry, or, Heaven forbid, read stacks of old letters.

No, if I’ve learned anything from this little excursion into avoiding February, it’s that we’re doomed. It’s going to be February all month. Might as well put on the fuzzy socks, get a cup of hot tea, and go find the dog. After I’ve looked at everyone else’s to-do list, watching him sleep seems like the most excitement I’m likely to have.

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