2013-01-17 / Columns

From the Heartland

By Allan Burke

After some snow last week, this week should be snow-free. Highs are pegged between 11 and 32 degrees, and lows are supposed to range from -4 to 16 degrees. The heartland escaped the freezing rain that plagued counties to the east.

Sick Bay revisited

I’m not having much luck shaking the pneumonia bug that put me in the hospital over a month ago. The mornings go fairly well, but by mid-afternoon I’m wearing a coat in the house and huddling under a blanket.

Three post-hospital visits to the doctor resulted in a steroid shot, cough medicine and an inhaler. The stuff seems to be helping, but I’m still not ready to shovel snow or walk the dog or even leave the house.

The good news is that I’m feeling better. The bad news is that the steroid injection will bar me from Olympic competition. I hope they don’t take my bicycle away, and I’m glad I don’t play baseball.

Phantom of the Office

I have not been to the offi ce for over two weeks, so I’m getting good at working from home. Thanks to the Internet and remote access to the office computers, I can handle my e-mail and do my other computer work on our home computer or our laptop computer.

If I’m not up to sitting at the desk, I can respond to or route e-mail from the laptop computer while I’m under a blanket in the easy chair.

Much of my work is done over the phone, so that doesn’t make much difference where I am, as long as I have a phone.

I get automatic breaks at home that I would not have at the office. At least twice a day, Daisy T. Cat needs to be scratched. If I try to ignore her, she jumps up onto my lap and meows loudly. Bertram G. “Bert” Retriever needs to go in and out about 412 times a day, so that gets me up out of my chair. Since I wear a coat in the house when I’m dealing with the chills, it is not a problem to open the back door for the pooch. I hold my breath so that I don’t breathe in the cold air.

At noon, Leah brings home stories I have written or edited that need corrections. I make the corrections and e-mail the stories back to the office. When I access my office computer, I can then send the corrected stories to the printer. It’s a little startling to anyone working alone in the office after hours to hear the printer cranking out pages. I guess that makes me the Phantom of the Office.

Pedaling away the pounds

My bride helped me carry the exercise bike up from the basement. It is now set up in Fred’s room, which has a TV. My plan is to pedal a few minutes each day until I build up the stamina to ride at least 30 minutes.

Somewhere we have a set of wireless earphones for the TV, but, of course, I can’t find them now that I am motivated to use the bike.

We did a test run, and, with both bedroom doors shut, Leah should be able to sleep through my early-morning pedaling and news watching.

I have gained weight since contracting pneumonia, so my calculation is that I will have to ride the equivalent of 1,256 miles just to get back to where I was a couple months ago. About 750 miles of that is the peanut brittle, Christmas cookies, fudge and boxed candy I consumed over the holidays. Yup. My New Year’s Resolution is to do a better job of heeding Nancy Reagan’s slogan, “Just say no.”

A place for everything

As Leah has been taking down the Christmas things, I have been lugging the plastic totes to the basement corner where she stores decorations for the various holidays. The built-in shelves can hold about one percent of what we have.

Since I felt a little energy over the weekend, I decided to try to organize the area. That’s about like trying to alphabetize the grains of sand on a beach.

After several hours of re-arranging and sorting, we now have the Easter decorations in one place. The accoutrements of Easter fill two shelves and two big totes. Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July and St. Patrick’s Day things fill up the rest of the shelves.

The Christmas decorations are contained in one huge box (the tree), three large totes, three medium-sized totes and two small totes.

Having decided to stack the Christmas totes seven feet high along the wall, I will be calling our insurance agent to see about avalanche insurance.

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