On vacation

I’m taking a week off to visit my family near St. Louis. This is my first trip since arriving home last Labor Day from Germany and Poland, and obviously a lot less ambitious. But no less fun or rewarding, I’m sure. More trips ahead this summer, likely all on the West Coast. I’ll be back at my desk May 29, with my first expected column May 31. Other than a Memorial Day post that’s all ready to go, don’t expect any posts here.

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A relaxing week off

I had a low-key week away from work, which is pretty much what I had in mind. While improving after my pneumonia, a break for rest, one in which I would not have to think about column topics, was very appealing.

With occasional forays for food or errands, mostly I took it easy around the house. For one thing, I took care of a few long-delayed or -postponed items, the sorts of things that may not take a lot of time but which you can better persuade yourself to do when you have time on your hands as opposed to giving up precious weekend moments for.

Such as? One morning I took all the books off one bookcase, blew the dust off the top of each book, rearranged them and cleared away some clutter at the front of the shelves. The appearance is much improved and the whole thing took under an hour.

By later in the week, I felt more energetic. I took the train to L.A. for my birthday, an outing that will be the subject of Wednesday’s column. I also (gasp) drove to L.A. a couple of days later for lunch with friends.

As with any week off, I went to bed Sunday wishing I had one or two days more to tick a few more items off my pending list. But it was fun returning to work Monday too. While I still have an occasional cough and shortness of breath, I would rate my energy level at about 95 percent of normal.

That week off came at the right time.

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A week off

As mentioned in Sunday’s column, I’m off all week, returning to work March 18.

I had been wanting to travel, at least in Southern California, but decided I wasn’t quite up to that yet, post-pneumonia.

(I’ve mostly recovered but still have an intermittent cough, and I’ve continued to turn in early to ensure I get a full night’s rest. Hiking or hoofing it around a distant city struck me as too ambitious.)

So it’s a staycation, with some travel to LA amid time at home. The break will be nice, I think.

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Make that pneumonia

Did I say flu? On Sunday, after several days of little sleep, much coughing and zero improvement, I began wondering if I might not have pneumonia, as the symptoms — shortness of breath, coughing and fever — matched mine. One visit to the emergency room and one chest X-ray later, my diagnosis was, alas, confirmed. (My bill to myself will be in the mail.)

I’m resting at home with an antibiotic and an inhaler and beginning to gain appetite and strength. Not sure when I will be back at work, but hopefully next week, if not in time for a Sunday column. Wish me well and pine, please, for my return.

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Out with the flu

Readers, I came down with the flu Sunday night and have pretty much been out of commission ever since. Thus, no column Wednesday or Friday, and no Restaurant of the Week or other posts here. That said, I’ve pulled myself together to write a Sunday column, because its topic absolutely had to be covered that day. I hope to be back with a Wednesday column too, after a weekend of taking it easy, but we’ll see.

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Read a book while eating a meal

For those paying attention, my apologies for missing the (semi-) weekly Restaurant of the Week feature here last week.

It wasn’t for a lack of restaurant meals: I had notes on three different places. But after three busy workdays Monday to Wednesday, one of them 12 hours long, I ran out of time to write up a restaurant post. Hopefully none of you starved. Yesterday afternoon I spent an hour writing that post, so we are good to go for Thursday.

Meanwhile, I finished only one (but long and complicated!) book last month and am nearing the end of a second book started in November that I want to count toward that month. Look for my Reading Log post Monday.

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Gustavo and me (and Frida)

Photo by Hugh “Front Row” McBride

My book talk Sunday afternoon in the homey environment of Cafe con Libros in downtown Pomona drew an audience of 15, one more than my launch event at the Pomona Public Library. (If each event for “On Track” draws one more than the previous event, someday I’ll be at Staples!)

Above, Gustavo Arellano┬álistens attentively as I read from my book, which collects the best of my columns from 2001-2005. The longtime journalist and author, best known for his previous gig writing an advice column called “Ask a Mexican,” and now an op-ed columnist in the LA Times, among other gigs, drove up to Pomona from Santa Ana, a generous gesture. He got lost, mistaking Valley Boulevard for Mission Boulevard, but he made it on time.

I didn’t give him away, although when he raised his hand during the question period, I said, “Is this ‘Ask an Anglo’?” “‘Ask a Gabacho,'” he corrected me.

Gustavo, by the way, contributed the flattering blurb for my book’s back cover: “David Allen is the most underrated columnist in Southern California. Anyone who doesn’t buy this book deserves exile to Orange County.” As he likes to say: “HA!”

I’m kicking myself, though, that I didn’t put him on the spot and ask him to do a dramatic reading of his blurb.

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