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Coping with cabin fever

By Staff | Jan 19, 2008

Friday I bundled up and headed over to Swea City to teach a class on the ICN for Iowa Lakes Community College. Silly me, I should have listened to the radio because I arrived a few minutes before class was to start only to find the doors locked.

Imagining my students’ laughter had they seen me, I trudged back through the gathering drifts to my car and came back to Estherville. Having driven through more than my share of raging blizzards, I had absolutely no idea that school would be cancelled. And those that weren’t cancelled had late starts.

So I came back and prepared to follow through with some stories for today’s paper. Since classes were cancelled at Armstrong-Ringsted, one of those stories bit the dust, of course. The same went for an ELC School Board meeting.

So if you’re wondering why I’m writing this, now you know. If you’re like a lot of people, you were probably sitting home Friday twiddling your thumbs, wondering what to do.

Well, here’s some helpful suggestions on how to avoid cabin fever.

n Read a book that has absolutely nothing to do with your job or schoolwork. The one I’m reading now is Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth.” It’s a mammoth, 900-plus page novel that keeps you riveted. I’m only on about page 400 now, so I have a ways to go, but I’ll guarantee you I’ll finish it.

n Get organized. This can be a tough one, but one helpful suggestion is to do it, file it or throw it away. I find that bookcases and file folders help a lot.

n Make a home-cooked meal. With the Super Bowl coming at us, it’s that time of year when we want to be perfecting our chili recipes. Here’s mine: One large can of dark red kidney beans, one large can of tomatoes, one large can of tomato sauce, one-half onion, two pounds of lean hamburger, use Carol Shelby’s (yes, the same guy that invented the Shelby Mustang) chili powder to taste, one tablespoon dark brown sugar, ground beef seasoning to taste and, optional, four crushed dried cayenne peppers if you like a little zip. Brown the hamburger and add the other ingredients then top with grated cheese and sour cream (avoid the low-calorie sour cream because it tastes like plastic). If you want to eat a low-calorie chili, this probably isn’t for you. Just eat less of it and you won’t gain so much weight.

n After eating all that chili, maybe you want to start an exercise regimen. A good home gym would include an exercise bike and weight set. If you want a good deal on these, just pick them up at a garage sale sometime next summer when people will just about pay you to take them away.

n Organize your videos or music collection. You’ll find yourself watching or listening to something that you haven’t experienced for a long time. Get ready for a flood of memories from the past.

n Plan your vacation. Pull out the road atlas or go to mapquest.com and figure out where you want to go. If you aren’t sure, throw a dart at a map of the U.S. Or, if you want to get really adventurous (and spendy), get an old world globe that isn’t much good and spin it and close your eyes and stop it with your finger.

n Open that seed catalogue and plan your garden. There’s a very good reason that seed catalogues are traditionally sent out in January. People have cabin fever and they’re looking for something to do. Go to gurneys.com and shop on-line or order a free catalogue. I like Gurney’s because I have fond memories of going into their store and eating the free popcorn after work every day when I was attending graduate school.

n Write a letter to someone that you haven’t written to in a while. And I don’t mean email, either. Sit down with a real pen and real paper and compose a message.

n Sort through your photos and catalogue them in a scrapbook.

Contact Michael Tidemann at (712) 362-2622 or mtidemann@esthervilledailynews.com and visit our photo sharing Web site at cu.esthervilledailynews.com