DVDs or books for my active but currently convalescent mid-70s father?
December 2, 2014 12:16 AM   Subscribe

My formerly very outdoorsy and active Dad, who will soon be 75, broke his leg. The recovery threatens to be very boring for him, and I'd like to keep him entertained and also keep him from driving his new wife bonkers since he can't do projects. Ideas?

My awesome Dad loves to do activities of all sorts - building amazing wooden rocking horses for my year-old nephew, re-roofing his house in his 70s, photographing otters catching fish while he's hiking, or getting shots of whales bubble net feeding in Alaska. Unfortunately, he broke his leg a few weeks ago and will be house-bound for a few months. He reads voraciously, and I've given him several books of the outdoors flavor (Patrick McManus, as well as some compilations). He recently watched two DVDs about Dick Proenneke and loved them. Any suggestions on other ways to keep him amused while he recuperates? He has a Mac and is fairly Internet-savvy if it helps. He is not a fly fisherman, since many books seem focused on that, but he does hunt ducks and deep sea fish in addition to being an angler. Right now he's not allowed to bear any weight on his foot, so is using crutches.
posted by OneSmartMonkey to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd go into Pinterest - or send him there - and see if there isn't some kind of hobby he can do with his hands while sitting at a desk or table - maybe making miniature rocking horses out of balsa wood - or carving or painting or sculpting with clay or cutting silhouettes or making something. There are many possibilities. I have very limited mobility and I do things like this and never run out of new ideas thanks to Pinterest. One thing he might like is working with gourds - they're not expensive, they're lightweight, and they can be carved or painted or waxed or inlaid with copper or leather. I have a Dremel and a large assortment of small attachments and it makes working with gourds a lot of fun. Wire work is another good one - soldering is easy and inexpensive and there are so many things in that area. There are circuit board kits and airplane kits and radio kits and who knows what all - and he can do all those things while sitting down.

Best of luck - hope he recovers quickly and completely.
posted by aryma at 12:59 AM on December 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

He might've had one, even so, a hard copy of the The Last Whole Catalog would probably be very entertaining for him. Found some here:


Here's to a quick recovery.
posted by rmmcclay at 3:12 AM on December 2, 2014

Along the lines of woodwork he can do while seated: make wooden puzzles for his grandkids. My kids each have a puzzle of their name where each letter is about 3 inches tall and painted bright primary colors. They fit into a frame. When we take the letters out of the frame, there are photos glued underneath of either family or of things starting with that letter.

Put a bird feeder outside his window.

Look at chair exercises to keep his strength and mobility up.

What is that TV show where the guy goes out into the wilderness by himself and shows how he survives? Maybe your dad would like to watch that kind of show.
posted by CathyG at 6:32 AM on December 2, 2014

Is he willing to learn how to knit, crochet or needlepoint?
posted by brujita at 6:34 AM on December 2, 2014

You say he's not interested in fly fishing -- but might he be interested in tying flies? I know non-fisherpeople who do this because they find it challenging and interesting. He could give away the flies as gifts, if he knows people who fish.

I've always thought paracord survival bracelets are cool looking and useful. Here's some instructions for making them: http://www.operationgratitude.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/HowtoMakeaParacordSurvivalBracelet.pdf

The TV show @CathyG is thinking of is probably either Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls or Survivorman with Les Stroud. Man vs. Wild is exciting and interesting, but pretty unrealistic. Survivor Man is more low-key, but still interesting and probably of more interest to someone who actually spends time in the wilderness.

If he has not already read John Krakauer's books, he might enjoy Into the Wild or any of his mountain climbing books. There's also a movie version of Into the Wild, but I didn't think it captured the balance of warmth and ambivalence that made the book compelling.

He might also find a book like Primative Skills and Crafts interesting. I've not read that particular book myself, but something along those lines might appeal to him.
posted by OrangeDisk at 7:21 AM on December 2, 2014

Best answer: If he enjoyed the Dick Proenneke DVDs, he might also find Heimo Korth interesting (there's also a Vice documentary about him online).

I also highly recommend John Haines' book about trapping and homesteading in Alaska, The Stars, The Snow, the Fire - it may be the best book ever written about the Alaskan wilderness.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:59 AM on December 2, 2014

Model trains and their layouts have a tendency to become an obsession. Designing and building a track and layout could keep him occupied for years! I don't mean just connecting the track, I mean designing the scenery the track travels through, and building all the houses, buildings, landscape, etc. It can all be done sitting at a desk. And there's tons of websites, magazines, and books to keep him busy for a long time.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:46 PM on December 2, 2014

Spoon carving?

An Island to Oneself (my outdoorsy husband just read this and loved it)

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that changed the world

posted by biscuits at 1:11 PM on December 2, 2014

Book about tying knots and a piece of string.
Electronics kit.
Photoshop and getting photos printed. Also making picture frames doesn't need much moving. Does need equipment though.
Model building.
Sign him up to Scribd if he likes audiobooks and/or reading on his computer.
He could digitise his records if he has a scanner. In fact, most people have a backlog of paperwork that could do with a sort out.
Does he have somewhere outside he can sit? If not, it could be worth sorting something, being stuck inside can be hellish.
He could make a set of blocks for your son, if someone else could cut them for him. Hand sanding and painting would take awhile.
posted by kjs4 at 7:17 PM on December 2, 2014

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