How cold is it?

Don’t ask.

Well, okay, you can ask. When I got up at 6 this morning here in northwest Wisconsin, my phone told me it was twenty below zero. Fortunately, there was no wind chill to make it even worse. My wife was already on her way to the shower. Having just gotten home from the radio station at midnight, I indulged myself in another few minutes in the warm bed. Twenty minutes later, Sue let our dog, Sophie, out for her morning duty. The dog didn’t waste any time.

Some five hours later, it has warmed up, a little:

Upstairs here in the writing room, I’ve cranked up the heat a little bit. The soothing sounds of the Singers & Swing channel on DirecTV are making things a little more pleasant. Sophie is keeping an eye out the window, overlooking Sue’s bird feeders, watching for more squirrels to chase. All that being the case, I really wouldn’t mind it being about 75 degrees warmer outside right now. Down in Arizona, my brother in Gilbert will enjoy a high of 75 today. I know, by the time it gets to 75 here it’ll be into triple digits down there, so I keep that in mind as a means of curbing my wintertime jealousy.

I have been dividing my time between work at the radio station, training at the gym and the pool, running errands, and working here on my next novel. To that end, here’s the cover of The Bronze Leopard:

My cover artist, Tanja G from http://www.bookcoverworld.com, does a great job. This is her fourth cover for me.

I have another pretty full day on tap. Thursdays are days when I spend a few hours doing household chores, while Sue is at her travel agency office, dealing with the never-ending challenges that her industry has faced in the past year. Later this afternoon I’ll be taking the dog to the vet for a check-up and then will get new tires installed on my car, always a pleasant and inexpensive undertaking. (Sarcasm, in case you wondered.)

There is always so much to do, and it might get busier, starting next month. I’m considering an offer by my employer to expand my hours and duties at the radio station. Believe me, when I retired from Federal service 23 months ago, I never envisioned going back to work, in radio (my original profession) or anywhere else, except maybe part-time back at my former office after at least a year of relative leisure. But it quickly became clear that door would not open anytime soon, and the radio station called me to help out with football broadcasts in the fall of 2019. That led to basketball and hockey over the winter, and then an offer to spend about 15-20 hours a week working in the studio. It didn’t take long for me to re-discover my love of radio, which is why I’m still at it and considering taking on even more.

WKRP in Cincinnati aired on TV from 1978-82, and I can tell you that as off-beat and goofy as a lot of its episodes were, they weren’t often too far from real-life radio. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

The most fun part of the job is broadcasting sports, and we’re now in the thick of the high school winter sports playoffs, all of them moved up a couple weeks due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Thankfully, the virus appears to be losing steam here in Wisconsin as inoculations ramp up.) This week I am calling Rice Lake High School hockey, as the lads attempt to get their second straight berth in the state semifinals. Tuesday night, the Warriors came from behind to beat arch-rival Hayward, 3-1, and tomorrow night they host Superior, which has dominated Wisconsin prep hockey since the very first state tournament back in 1971, winning 13 championships in 37 State-level appearances. In Rice Lake’s last ten games against the Spartans, our lads have gone 1-8-1. But the losses were all close, by an average of 2.6 goals. The boys from the far north are very good, but not unbeatable.

The action has always been intense when Rice Lake plays Superior in hockey, and tomorrow night will be even better, with a trip to the state Division 2 semis on the line. (Superior Telegram photo)

I haven’t been following the news much these days, as the new administration in Washington works to undo the policies of its predecessor as quickly as possible. This is typical behavior when power switches from one party to the other, but this time it seems to be a little more ruthless than usual. My concern, though, is how the government, at all levels, is handling the pandemic. It’s been one ham-handed effort after another for nearly a year now, with very few of our leaders showing any real honest-to-God leadership on this issue, but maybe, just maybe, we will succeed in reviving our country in spite of the yahoos we’ve somehow seen fit to send to Washington and Madison.

The Bard was ahead of his time.

My father celebrated his 86th birthday last week, without any of his sons or grandchildren able to see him. He and Mom are quarantined in their new assisted-living facility in Surprise, Ariz., while the staff deals with positive COVID tests that seem to pop up among the staff and residents every time they are ready to lift the quarantine. Since they moved in last October 1st, my dad has not left the building, while my mother, who has been addicted to running errands for years now, still manages to get out every other day. Ordinarily I’d be planning on heading down there in mid-March, after concluding the basketball playoffs up here, to see them and my brother, and take in some spring-training baseball under the warm Arizona sun.

It was March 2019, it was sunny and warm at the Brewers’ spring ballpark in Maryvale, and I’d just picked up something for my grandson Pax. Those were the days.

But I’ll get there, eventually. Sue and I will travel again; sooner or later, the politicians who are keeping borders closed and restricting access to restaurants and churches (although not to protest marches, oh no) will come to their senses and open things up. While the media-darling scientists fell all over themselves for the past year, their colleagues in the labs were keeping their mouths shut and focusing on creating the vaccines that will put an end to all this. They succeeded, where so many others who were supposedly the smart ones failed. To those unsung heroes in the labs who worked so hard and so well, we will owe a big debt.

Great job, guys. We owe you, big time.

So, the day’s chores and errands are calling. Tonight, more work on The Bronze Leopard, bringing the novel close to its conclusion. My protagonist, the White Vixen, has been in some tight spots before, but never one like this. Its been fun to get her into this jam, but now I have to find a way to get her out. She’s fighting not just one, but two dangerous adversaries: a skilled terrorist with nothing to lose, and the tallest mountain in Africa.

It’s tough enough to climb Kilimanjaro, but when someone’s shooting at you, it’s even tougher.

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