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Finding ways to work at home during a pandemic

Like many, I am currently trying to work from home — the one with my pillow -— not the big gold one with columns. I miss the view from my Fourth Avenue NW windows, but the tradeoff is working in socks or slippers most of the day. There are pros and cons about working from the home in which I also sleep. I’m writing this while staring at a solid wall in my kitchen instead of looking through a window into the HHH Peace Garden, which was showing nice signs of spring the last time I was there. Beyond the garden I would typically see a very busy Fourth Avenue and might hear the laughter of children from Wee Learning during their outdoor play time.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, I felt like I was part of a bustling downtown corridor full of commerce and people. Now the once busy streets are quiet and businesses are suffering. Maybe it’s ok that I am not seeing that discouraging view from my window right now.

When George Hormel resided in the house that I call a workplace, he also had a home office. It’s one of my favorite rooms in the house. A small space, it has four large solid wooden doors that lead to other areas of the home. It has a built in cabinet for books and drawers for storage. A desk once belonging to George’s son, Jay, is on display.

I like to imagine the times George spent in his office. Is this the room where he and Jay discussed, in worried tones, the embezzlement by Cy Thomson in 1921? Did Lillian knock softly on the door from the Dining Room to let George know his supper was ready? Did George sit in this room late into the evening making decisions that would impact his employees during the good and bad times?

In his autobiography he wrote, “After the day’s work at the plant was over, my wife and I spent our evenings on paper work. We made price lists on a homemade hectograph… We billed customers, wrote letters, addressed circulars, kept books, and figured payrolls until bedtime.” A home office can be a place to continue the day’s work, but it also makes it hard to separate business from personal life.

The distractions in my home office are now different. My sons, 17 and 19, surface from their basement lair occasionally in search of food or activity. I hear my husband, muted by a closed door and a ceiling, as he works in a room upstairs.  I live in a quiet neighborhood and I should be able to focus intently in my comfortable surroundings, but it’s different. Time passes at a strange pace. My focus is on planning a different future than expected, one that will be changed by our collective pandemic experiences.

I look forward to seeing you all — face to face — as we forge a new normal together.

Upcoming events

April 13-19

Stepping Out for Autism Event-Raising Awareness and Funds

Go to www.hormelhistorichome.org/autism-programming for complete details.