Today's thoughts

Author: mikeljohnston1 (Page 1 of 167)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Trash Day #1658

Trash Day is back after 18-months in an apartment with a chute and no set pick-up. Early in retirement I stopped using the traditional days of the week and began to name them by activity. Trash Day  originally became the start of the week, replacing Monday. (See Post #987). Bins went out on Sunday nights, as will be the case going forward here in Florida. Our three containers were delivered this morning, after I stealthily added my trash to the neighbors under the cover of darkness last night. The service is part of my HOA fees instead of a separate bill, saving about $35 a month. I also get basic cable service, lawn care, activities, and recreational facilities for my monthly dues. This includes two heated pools, fitness center, dog park, gated security, pickleball/tennis courts, and common areas. It’s like living at a luxury resort. 

This morning I ran the neighborhood streets and did a few laps in my private pool. Our schnauzer Tally has taken a liking to the screened-in outdoor space out back. Our new bed is being delivered this morning that will hopefully help with my aching back from sleeping on an inflatable. This will eventually go in the guest room if our possessions ever arrive from Portland. Right now they are three days past due and still in the mover’s warehouse awaiting a driver. In the meantime, we are improvising or buying fill-in items to serve as places to sit or eat. The folding chairs are getting more and more uncomfortable. 

Tomorrow is our 20th wedding anniversary so I will post a poem about our trials and tribulations in getting to this Florida forever home. We also have reservations at a popular local restaurant called Fins for a sunset view and celebration of love. Hopefully, I won’t have to listen to another rendition of Margaritaville, although certainly appropriate of the setting. It sure beats Cooking Night where I stumble around in the kitchen trying to make dinner. With this in mind, three days of the retirement week have already been established in this new lifestyle  – Beach Day, Cooking Day and Trash Day. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Life’s A Beach II #1657

This is the second time that I selected “Life’s A Beach” as a title for one of my silly blogs (See #1573). In fact, it was the last time I wrote one from Florida, as we were checking on the construction of our new home. Here we are again – months later- with the same sunny thought in mind. Back then, we did go to the beach but our backyard lanai and pool were just starting to take shape. This is the first week of enjoying all the hard work that’s taken place since we decided on Florida as our forever home. 

We spent this morning at the dog beach – a furry of activity! This afternoon it’s relaxing by the pool. I think I just might like this new Florida lifestyle. Last night, we made a repeat visit to Dockside for seafood chowder, crab cakes, shrimp, and key-lime pie. The musician was not too loud and the marina view was awesome. However, please don’t play “Wasted Away Again In Margaritaville” again. We can also now get in and out of our gated community without having to check-in with the guard. It’s already a memorable first weekend in Venice.

My son has been over several times to help hang the few items we had sent here. All of our mail has been forwarded but inconveniently none of our stuff. Our possessions sit in the Portland warehouse awaiting a driver. We bought a bed yesterday after nearly a week of sleeping on the inflatable. My wife also purchased some pool furniture so we would have a few more places to sit besides two folding chairs. A fry daddy, and a cushioned bench that serves as a drop zone for pet and running supplies. These new additions to the house will be delivered in the next few days. We’re missing our clothes, valuables, oriental rugs, electronics, furniture, artwork, cooking supplies, utensils, and collectables. Improvisation is the current state of affairs.

Rain is in the forecast but so far we’ve been greeted with nothing but sunshine. Tally is enjoying the lanai and had a good time at the beach. We’ve left her alone on a few occasions, adapting slowly to the new surroundings. The peaceful sounds of a fountain and the birds have replaced the noisiness of downtown Portland. Today will be my first day in well over a year to go entirely mask-less. We did don them for dinner last night, but it’s easier to maintain safe social distancing unlike our former apartment building. The suntan lines on my face from the mask will soon disappear. I guess I can’t state it enough -Life’s A Beach!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Welcome to Florida #1656

I’m sitting at the kitchen island in a borrowed folding chair, but the sun is shining and I worked up a sweat on this morning’s run.  Still no word on a Portland driver to bring our stuff. It will be nice to have my soft, comfy office chair and desk to do my blogging. There is nothing but a yoga mat in my home office that allows me to do my daily exercises off the hard tile surface. We opted for no carpeting, as is traditional here in Florida, so there’s very little color in our house until the decorative rugs and wall hangings finally arrive. A single fry chair serves as our patio furniture by the pool. 

We’re just grateful to be here safely in lieu of my wife’s kidney stone issues. The reliable old Solara made the drive without a single hiccup. Yesterday, I drove it with the top down, soaking in the sunshine. To reward its juggernaut cross-country efforts, I made an appointment to get it’s dented body repaired. It will eventually look like a collector’s showpiece in the new garage with the fancy epoxy floor. The surface was a bonus from our project manager to cover-up some flaws in the concrete. My wife’s Lexus was reunited with the Solara for the first time in six months yesterday, having each completed the 3,000-plus mile journey. We drove the Lexus down last summer and stored it at my son’s house. Now, they’re side-by-side for the first time in our new garage. 

It’s our first weekend of living in Florida and we’d love to go to the nearby beach, but my wife’s swimsuits are still in Portland storage along with everything else. She’s ordered a new one, in addition to the bed that we bought yesterday. We need one anyway for the guest room and are tired of sleeping on the inflatable. With a new bed and swimsuit, I’m sure my wife will start to feel better, considering all the stress and discomfort surrounding our missing belongings. She also gets her first vaccine shot today, something we weren’t able to get accomplished in Oregon. Welcome to Florida. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Mass Evacuation #1655

Where’s our stuff? This is the question I asked numerous employees of North American Van Lines all day long.  Today was the end of their delivery window for our cross-country move from Portland to Venice.  All of our belongings were to be here now at the very latest according to the contract. They face giving me a measly discount of $100 per day while we live with no furniture and only the clothing we brought with us. Our valuable possessions continue to sit in their Portland warehouse while we’re forced to buy the basics to live in a new home that are often duplicates of what is crammed on that truck. The only explanation is that people on the West Coast, especially Portland, are exiting in mass. 

Apparently there are no pods, rental trucks, or semi drivers to accommodate the needs of this mobile migration. The only benefit of Covid is the fact that the workforce is allowed to function from home and live anywhere…anywhere but Portland seems to be the majority rule. It’s been two weeks since our apartment was cleared out by the movers. We thought we would be racing them to Florida. Instead, we’re still waiting in limbo, along with many others. The unrest in the city certainly didn’t help the situation with the destruction of downtown and the adverse national reputation this has caused. Representatives from the moving industry claim to have never seen anything like this. We’re stuck in the middle. 

Another good chunk of my day was spent dealing with no power. I had called Florida Power and Light in a timely manner and arranged for service. I was even given an account number, but once the lights went out there was no record of me, my social security ID, or any other number. Supposedly, our street name was entered improperly and they called someone at that incorrect address who indicated that the account was in the wrong name and should be disconnected. It was another moving hassle that I didn’t need, having to resubmit my request and start all over. Fortunately, they responded quickly, but we were due to watch the grandkids. There was no time for a shower or breakfast to make it on time. It was a rough way to start the day followed by the trauma of trying to find our stuff. Fellow Portlandians beware – if you want to leave the city you can’t! There’s a mass evacuation in the works.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Made It #1654

It’s like losing your luggage on a trip – except this is an entire semi-load. We’re in the house but missing all our stuff. The cable guy is coming this afternoon but we have no TVs. We do at least have an inflatable bed, dog bed, beach chair, and our toothbrushes, although mine is manually powered. Nonetheless, it does feel good to have arrived – we’ve made it!

This morning’s run was through the new neighborhood – flat, quiet, and sunny. I did not have to dodge a single car, avoid any homeless souls, or wear my rain gear. We’re securely behind gates with no stairs to climb, elevators to navigate, nor the hassle of hydraulic parking. It’s a home, baby, with plenty of space and a pool. My home office no longer looks out over the roof of a sausage factory. However, I have no desk (sitting on the floor), chair, wi-fi, or internet. We do have a fully equipped laundry room (but few clothes) and two refrigerators filled with bottles that should be in our missing wine cooler.

Today, we’ll get our mailbox keys to see if things have been properly forwarded from our Portland address. We’ll also learn all about the HOA that we’ll pay for and tour the clubhouse/recreational facilities that are part of those fees. However, my checkbook and paperwork also were mistakenly packed in the flurry to get things to the warehouse where they still sit. We’ve made it to Florida but most of our worldly possessions have not!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Green #1653

Our schnauzer pup Tally is not fond of the tough southern fauna, as opposed to the soft Oregon grass where she’s used to doing her business. The blades are thick and pokey in Florida, so it will take some getting used to in our move. We did finally arrive in Venice with no further delays. I thought of many things that could go wrong on our cross-country journey but never once kidney boulders. To be honest, I did imagine car break-downs, accidents, speeding tickets, flat tires, credit card problems, theft, and even snow. However, we were lucky to avoid them all.

There were many scary moments of pain for my wife along the way, but one funny story emerged from the adventure. She innocently asked the parking valet at our downtown Atlanta hotel last night where she could find some “green.” She of course meant a grassy area for Tally to pee, seeing nothing but asphalt and concrete surrounding us. He noticed our Oregon license plates and commented, “you have access to the good stuff back home, but I can hook-you-up if you want.” She chuckled and didn’t know quite what to say, but clarified by asking for directions to the nearest park. Far from what he was thinking!  I did see that same valet later that evening sharing a joint with a buddy down the street. I guess we’re lucky to have been reunited with our car this morning, worried that he might have rummaged through the dirty laundry bags in the trunk looking for our stash. After all, we were looking for grass!

Tally is still looking for the “green,” scared by the loud clomping sounds of a horse pulling passengers along the brick street in front of our hotel last night. She was absolutely petrified! She then refused to lift a leg, tugging frantically on the leash to get inside and away from the scary downtown noises. I eventually had to lift her up into an elevated planter so she could ultimately do her business. She’s a worried puppy thirteen states from home and confused about the long car rides that used to be fun. Tomorrow, we’ll get her settled into a new home, but it will take some time to adapt, especially in anticipation of the further  disruption associated with unpacking and new faces. Hopefully, she’ll find green pastures again! 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Dog Days of Travel #1652

We’re about to cross the Georgia-Florida line, as my wife takes over the driving responsibilities. It looks certain that we’ll arrive in Venice before our stuff, delayed because of the unavailability of drivers. North American Van Lines faces monetary penalties for not delivering according to the contract, while we will undoubtedly spend the first nights on our inflatable bed. Is this too all Covid related? Fortunately, we had the foresight to bring the blow-up on our last Florida flight a few months ago. It was the last live look at the construction progress that has since been solely through  Facetime or photos. Tomorrow we move in!

Our schnauzer Tally does not yet realize that this will be her last full day in the car. Last night was an absolute hassle, staying at the downtown Residence Inn. We tried yo get a dog-friendly hotel near the home of my wife’s niece. With our ER and medical delays, we arrived at a time that interfered with her evening Asian conference call, so she was unavailable to visit. We spent most of our hotel stay arranging for valet parking and hauling our valuables up to the 20th floor. First, we had to navigate the uneven brick sidewalk and then lug our numerous boxes and bags up a set of stairs to get to the elevator. All this coupled with Tally’s dog bed and overnight supplies. Mother Marriott should have been paying us rather than an outrageous $100 pet charge and $50 for parking, plus tips for very little help. Hardly – dog friendly or even handicap compliant.

We won’t get to our new Venice address until after the gates are locked this evening and the office where we pick-up our keys was closed. This means another night in a hotel with more luggage hauling and pet fees, not to mention forking out inflated Spring Break rates for the crappy room. The bath towels will probably be like tattered sweat rags, and the neighboring Cracker Barrel will have to suffice for take-out since dogs are not allowed. The good news is that this is one Florida vacation where we will never make the return drive. Yes Tally – the dog days of long distance travel will soon be over!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Georgia on my Mind #1651

Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida are the last 5 states on our 13-state cross-country journey that started in Oregon. Atlanta, Georgia is tonight’s goal, as Tally continues to wonder where we are going? She looks content in the back seat bed, but it’s really boredom. She isn’t getting her long walks and has so little room to stretch. Occasionally, she’ll ride on my wife’s lap. We drive in 3-hour shifts between food and gas stops, putting more and more miles in the rearview mirror. This is her first day of not experiencing pain, following the kidney stone surgery in Indianapolis. I’m sure that’s a huge relief for her.

We continue to look forward to seeing our new home and addressing any unfinished business. At least two more nights of hotel living now stand in the way. We can pick up the keys on Wednesday morning, but still have now idea where are possessions are sitting. Presumably, they are still in the Portland warehouse awaiting a driver. At least, it’s not a frantic race to the finish line. We might even have a few days to get organized before the unpacking process begins. Plus, it’s another blue sky day for driving.

I got to visit with all my Indy friends and enjoy time with my wife’s family. They were very gracious about our extended stay, giving two sisters a chance to catch-up after almost two years of separation. It also gave me a chance to play my newest role of GUM -Great Uncle Mike. It was a good visit for all of us -long overdue. Back home again in Indiana with Georgia on my Mind.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Maskless #1650

We start the final 1000 mile drive tomorrow morning after a few extra days in Indy. My wife and I are headed to two separate restaurants this morning to meet friends – Wolfie’s and Izzy’s. It’s the final day of farewells before we hit Atlanta tomorrow evening – another eight hours behind the wheel. All of our travel days have been under blue skies, however yesterday it poured buckets as we tried to navigate the local streets. Last night, we dined at Murphy’s where my wife had the traditional Hoosier Tenderloin sandwich. I settled for a steak and two XXX martinis – a drink favorite I haven’t enjoyed in a bar setting for some time. Masks were still required although the state has made them a personal choice outside of Marion County. 

The further south we travel, the more maskless individuals we’ll encounter. This will be a challenge for my wife who has yet to become eligible for the vaccine. We’ll finally get this taken care of in Florida, after going to a maskless birthday party for a 3-year old yesterday here in town. My wife wore hers, especially after just getting out of the hospital, but no one else did. Plus, we were all stuck inside an apartment with the downpour. It was an odd experience for us, and hopefully there will be no consequences. All of the young parents in attendance had already been vaccinated, indicating once again how far behind the curve we are in Oregon getting the vaccine in arms. 

Mandatory mask use in Indiana was abolished effective yesterday and people were out in masses. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for business owners and the protection of their employees or customers. If you’re already vaccinated, a mask is no longer supposedly necessary to protect you. However, you can still spread the virus to others – so we still need to mask-up for folks like my wife that remain vulnerable. It all comes down to being polite – but that won’t go far without the law behind it. Please don’t go maskless!



Retirement is not without Hassles: Indy #1649

We should have been back on the road today headed south. Instead, we’re taking a prolonged pit stop in Indianapolis, a month ahead of the “Greatest Spectacle.” The focus of the city has changed from basketball to Indy car with plans for fans in the stands. There were cars on the track these past few days as preparations begin for the Month of May. By then, we’ll be in our new Florida home watching the quals and race on TV, knowing we were just there. In fact, it’s my second trip into town during the past few weeks.

My wife is healing from her kidney stone battle and we’re good to go on Monday, following a birthday party and several bar meetings with friends. The surprise surgery only delayed us two days before we meet the moving truck in Venice. Fortunately, they have also been delayed getting out of Portland. We’re supposed to pick up the keys to our forever home on Tuesday and start the unloading process. However, we’ve yet to get an update on the van driver and his or her cross-country plans.  If we arrive before they do, it could mean several nights on an inflatable bed, living out of our suitcases. Atlanta is our next stop. All of us are grateful to have had an extended break from the road. 

Florida is calling and I’m getting itchy to start our new life there. It’s been so strenuous this past month getting ready for the move. At this point, I just want to get the entire ordeal behind us. By tomorrow, I’ll be really anxious to hit the road despite other engagements to keep me here in town. It’s always good to be back in Indy, but also time to get those last one thousand miles behind us. I don’t know when we’ll be back again in our once Indy home?


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