I can’t remember ever being bored. When I was a child, I must have been bored at least once. Maybe I said the word but didn’t mean it. After all, a lot of people talk about being bored, especially children.

In an interview, the teenage pop-singer songwriter I admire the most even mentioned being bored. I was surprised. How could anyone as talented as her be bored?

Looking for a reason why people get bored, I looked up the definition and the first one I found offered no help. The first definition was “The state of feeling bored.”


I wondered if the person that came up with that one was bored when they wrote it, so I found another one, and Merriam-Webster at least tried to come up with a more interesting one.

“The state of being weary and restless through lack of interest – the boredom of a long car trip.”

I can’t remember ever being bored on a long car trip. My legs and back get stiff. I might get sleepy, but never bored. The scenery grabs my attention. It doesn’t matter if it is in the mountains, desert, farmland, a forest, there is so much to see that I’d rather let someone else drive so I’m free to explore with my eyes, and I always take audiobooks on long car trips and the stories keep me focused and awake because I want to find out what’s happening to the characters in the stories.

The video above mentions one writer who said, “Boredom has historically been an important source of creativity, well-being and our very sense of self.”

After hearing that I thought, maybe I’ve been bored but didn’t know it.

That’s where my overactive imagination comes in. When there is nothing else to do, my imagination fills the empty time with amazing or frightening stuff. Then I have my woodshop with all those tools and the house I’m renovating.

As a child, when I had nothing else to do, instead of sitting around complaining about being bored, I went outside and let my imagination carry me away to other places and times. I literally became a time machine where I could become anyone I wanted to be at any time in history, even the future.

Scientific American says, “There is no universally accepted definition of boredom. But whatever it is, researchers argue, it is not simply another name for depression or apathy. It seems to be a specific mental state that people find unpleasant—a lack of stimulation that leaves them craving relief, with a host of behavioural, medical and social consequences.”

The narrator in the video with this post also said, “People who are often bored are at greater risk of developing anxiety, depression, and drug or alcohol addiction; displaying anger, aggressive behavior and lack of interpersonal skills …”

After reading the last two paragraphs, I was glad I never feel bored.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat veteran with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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The 1.6 Ton Concrete Stairway Procrastination Project

One challenge living in a house built on a steep hillside offers is erosion. From the street to the top of the property, I’ve estimated it’s about seven stories or seventy feet of elevation gain.

The erosion I’m talking about had washed enough dirt away from the southwest foundation of the house over the decades to expose the bottom of the concrete and allow the ivy to grow under the house in addition to letting rats move in too.

The erosion, ivy and rats led to this concrete stairway project on the southwest side of the house that I started on April 10, when I cleared away the thick ivy and ended almost four months later on August 1, 2015, with a 2nd coat of stucco in those areas where there were no steps or sidewalk. To show what I’m talking about, I’ve included nine photographs after the text of this post.

There is a double explanation for adding the word procrastination to the title. One reason is that I’ve known for several years that this job had to be done, and the second was that it was a great excuse to escape Twitter—my experience is that when you spend too much time on Twitter, it squeezes all the energy out of your brain until it refuses to function—and working on the rough draft of my next novel, The Last Sorcerer.  The next image is a working cover for the first book in a planned five-part series.

Book One on July 20 - 2015

In total, I worked on the concrete stairway project for nineteen days and 63 hours for an average of about 3.3 hours on each working day. When I started, I thought I’d be able to work the long 12 to 16 hours days of hard labor I worked when I was age 30 – 40, but I quickly learned that wasn’t going to be the case. At almost 70, when you work this hard, you quickly feel the damage age contributes.

The first damage was to my elbows from swinging a pick and sledge hammer to break up the hard packed clay—clay soil is difficult to work in dry or wet. I solved this later by using a heavy duty hammer drill and a wide chisel bit.

After that first and last 6-hour work day on April 14, I took a two-week break to let both elbows recover. The damage to the right elbow was worse than the left one. On April 15, I couldn’t move that arm or hold a pen to write, and it took the next fourteen days before I felt it was safe to continue working on the project.

Eventually, on May 22, I visited Big-5 and bought two, one-piece neoprene Pro Elbow Support sleeves that dramatically helped speed up the healing process and alleviated the pain so I could get back to work more often. I still don’t know why the elbow supports worked but they did.

By the time I finished the project, I had poured 19 bags of gravel that weighed a total of 950 pounds and mixed 41-bags of concrete (2,260 pounds based on dry weight). I have no idea how much that concrete weighed once it was wet, but I carried it up the hill in buckets from the mixing pan.

The receipts for the project reveal that I made thirteen supply runs, and I did not add in the hours spent driving to Home Depot to buy the material necessary to finish the work. If each supply run took 2.5 hours (a guestimate), then that added another 32.5 hours bringing the total to almost 96 hours.

Here are the nine photographs that show several stages of the project from near the beginning to the end, and writing this post gave me another excuse to avoid working on the last chapter in the first novel of The Last Sorcerer series.

Stairway Project One

Stairway Project Two

Stairway Project Three

Stairway Project Five

Stairway Project Six

Stairway Project Seven

Stairway Project Eight

Stairway Project Nine Stairway Project Ten


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal . His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

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A Writer’s Cave—Here’s mine

On a recent Wednesday night near sunset, I looked out my writer’s cave window and saw this scene. The front of the house faces the sunset, and I ran outside and snapped off four shots with a borrowed smart phone.


Then I asked myself, why not do a post showing where I write—the clutter, the mess. A digital camera made this silly idea easy.

The first shot is toward the north, the second shot east, and the third faces south. The last one faces west from inside the house toward my desk and the window.








I built all the bookshelves and drawers. Did you notice the wood carving of a fight scene from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms? There’s a story behind that wood sculpture to share one day.

This post was written to avoid editing and revising a manuscript. I spend a lot of time in this ninety-square-foot room facing the sunset. It’s amazing how much space we actually use most of the time.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Watering the Backyard or Exercise – as if I have a choice

If given a choice between watering the backyard and regular exercise, I’d rather lift weights and do cardio exercises for an hour and then take a one-mile walk on nearby streets.

Heck, to avoid watering the yard, I’d walk two miles a day.

The reason is simple: watering the backyard is exercise that involves a lot of climbing.  We live on a hillside. Our house is surrounded by HUGE oak trees and the largest one behind the house is about 400 years old.  The circumference of this ancient oak tree is twenty feet.

below the tree from the house

Imagine what would happen to a raw egg if you stepped on it with all your weight. If that old oak tree decides to fall on the house, the house would be that egg. Don’t get me wrong. That tree is majestic. It is breathtaking to see, and the wild bees that live in some of its hollow limbs love it too.

Besides, where we live, the law says, “No person shall cut down, destroy or remove any tree(s) growing within the City limits from any property without a tree removal permit, except as provided herein.”

I don’t want to go into detail about what it takes to get a permit to cut down a four hundred year old oak tree like the old goat in our backyard. However, the fine for cutting (what the city calls a Civil Penalty) that tree down without permission would be about $43,000 and that might include six months in jail. In other words, it is okay for that tree to crush our house and us in it, but it is not okay for us to cut down that tree.

from street to driveway – top > down

Back to climbing stairs—there are four flights of stairs leading from the street to the top of backyard for a total of ninety-nine steps.

from driveway to second story front door – top > down

The one stairway inside the house from the ground floor to the second story has thirteen steps. Using that stairway to represent one story means that climbing from the street to the top of the backyard equals climbing a seven-and-a-half-story building that does not have an elevator or escalator.

stairway inside house – top > down

Why all the effort to water a yard? Because the yard has an elaborate drip system with five valves scattered around the slope.  To water the yard takes about three hours and five trips to turn the valves on and another five trips to turn the valves off.

first flight of stairs behind house – bottom > up

However, only fifty-three steps are used during watering, which means climbing 530 steps—equal to climbing the stairs of a forty-story building.

second flight of stairs behind house – top > down (the last one)

Then there is putting out the trash. To do that requires climbing another 50 steps or about four stories.

Today I put out the trash and watered the yard, so I climbed a forty-four story building. I’d rather lift weights but if I let the plants in the yard die, well, I’d never hear the end of it.

Am I complaining?  Yes!

Should I be? No!

Anyway, enough procrastination (about four hours worth – maybe more). I have to get back to work editing and revising my next novel.

Discover the Sunday Hike (within walking distance of this backyard)


Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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