Today's thoughts

Author: mikeljohnston1 (Page 1 of 194)

Retirement is not without Hassles: How Sweet It Is! #1932

I’ll start my writing this morning, as has been the current tradition, with a historical tidbit from the year corresponding with the number of this post, “Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Republican Pres. Herbert Hoover. The 1932 election was the first held during the Great Depression, and it represented a dramatic shift in the political alignment of the country.” In another 20 posts from now, I will have been born and soon these tidbits will be personal memories. I’m feeling a bit melancholy today with cool temperatures, gray skies, and the chance of rain. A post by one of my high school classmates yesterday is the real reason. Nearly two hundred names of deceased members of the Class of 1969 were listed. For most people, my wife included, this alarming number is much greater than the size of her entire graduating class. I added Grant Balkema and Bob Grove to the list, as other losses of life were added as the day went on. One-fifth of my fellow high school students are gone, some of which I never knew other than a picture in the annual. 

It made me think of life as a lottery, some of us luckier than others. I was fortunate in several related lotteries including adoption and the Viet Nam War. Some of these classmates lost their lives fighting for our country, while I could have ended up at any any other high school if it weren’t for the loving people that made me part of their family and raised me in Elkhart, Indiana. I might not have had a life at all if abortion had been an option. I’m certainly thankful for all I have today.

While I was contemplating life and death, the sweet smell of baked goods led me to the kitchen. My wife’s new neighborhood friend was teaching her how to make Nazook. It’s often spelled nazuk or  nazouk, Armenian Նազուկ, Persian نازوک), an Armenian pastry made from flour, butter, sugar, sour cream, yeast, vanilla extract and eggs, with a filling often made with nuts, and especially walnuts. Nazook is sometimes referred to as gata. After a few bites, my depression went away, even though my waistline was probably starting to swell. How sweet it is!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Vegas Dreams #1931

Two eventful things happened in 1931. First, the Star-Spangled Banner is adopted as the United States national anthem. Secondly, on St. Patrick’s Day, Nevada legalized gambling and the party has never stopped. Vegas has always been a fun break from real life as recounted in Post #350, written back in 2017. I’ve been there only once since (See Post #1220). The Covid threat struck at that time and I’m not so sure that the cough I left with was not related. I certainly didn’t leave with any winnings and the world began to quickly shut down. Our next stop was Arizona as the event cancellations started to take place – No Spring Training, no restaurant dining, no concerts, and no going anywhere without a mask. 

It now seems like a lifetime since we’ve been to Las Vegas, and with Valentine’s Day (See Post #1223) just around the corner, we should be there. It’s where our marriage began nearly 21-years ago in April. There’s a very classy Marriott Vacation Club near the strip that we’ve been anxious to stay at for a short getaway. Flights are always cheap to Vegas but food and gambling is costly. I doubt that we get there this year with friends and family coming to visit and other travel plans in the works. However, I can still dream about Vegas Nights, even though my last memory is a Barry Manilow concert.

My wife wants to see Lady Gaga in Vegas. In October of 2021, after a 652-day Covid hiatus, she returned to the newly minted Dolby Live theater at Park MGM. At the first performance, she’s quoted as saying, “many of you still have your masks on and some of you don’t, and I think it is nice not to judge each other and let’s just try to have some fun … please feel free to take off your masks and dance, just stay six feet away from each other.” The website I just visited listed dates for 2071, but I think that’s a mistake. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta would be 85 with my wife and I  well in our hundreds. Seeing her then may be just as unlikely as getting tickets in the next few years, with performances at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park recently postponed. It’s simply a Las Vegas Dream!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Florida Freeze #1930

“Extra, Extra, Read All About It.”

1930 Major News Stories including first year of the great depression, Prohibition Enforcement is Strengthened, Graf Zeppelin Airship Completes Flight From Germany to Brazil, Mahatma Gandhi begins 200 mile march to the salt beds of Jalalpur to protest British Rule, 1350 banks in the US fail, Smoot-Hawley Tariff bill …”

When the 2030s eventually arrive in eight short years, I will be on the verge of eighty and  most of my savings will be gone. We’ll be living strictly on Social Security and my pension without the luxury of global travel. Hopefully, most of my bucket list will be fulfilled by then and I’ll still be in good health. I will have lost loved-ones in the process as time marches on. It’s hard to think about – I’d rather live in the moment. 

As we were watching Episode Five of Peaky Blinders last night, the stock market had just crashed, in the same time frame as these numbered posts – ninety years ago. Times were as different as they are the same. The Market is on a downward trend again this morning, more family members have mild cases of  Covid, and angry protests continue against government intervention. Needless to say, I did not have a good day yesterday in the World of Sports and the weather is in the 40s – a Florida Freeze. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Let Us Live #1929

“The year 1929 brought with it the end of the Roaring Twenties, and saw the Wall Street Crash which started a worldwide Great Depression. Globally, the Influenza Epidemic reached a large number of people, killing a total of 200,000 in 1929.” 

The repeat of a year like this is what we all lose sleep over. The thought of losing our savings, our health, and our loved ones is disturbing, but happens to our fellow man every day. We need to keep all things in perspective, so I share these words I found on Facebook yesterday:

“I lost a beloved friend today, then I read this.”

“On the day I die a lot will happen.
A lot will change.
The world will be busy.”

“On the day I die, all the important appointments I made will be left unattended.
The many plans I had yet to complete will remain forever undone.
The calendar that ruled so many of my days will now be irrelevant to me.
All the material things I so chased and guarded and treasured will be left in the hands of others to care for or to discard.”

“The words of my critics which so burdened me will cease to sting or capture anymore. They will be unable to touch me.
The arguments I believed I’d won here will not serve me or bring me any satisfaction or solace.
All my noisy incoming notifications and texts and calls will go unanswered. Their great urgency will be quieted.”

“My many nagging regrets will all be resigned to the past, where they should have always been anyway.
Every superficial worry about my body that I ever labored over; about my waistline or hairline or frown lines, will fade away.
My carefully crafted image, the one I worked so hard to shape for others here, will be left to them to complete anyway.
The sterling reputation I once struggled so greatly to maintain will be of little concern for me anymore.”

“All the small and large anxieties that stole sleep from me each night will be rendered powerless.
The deep and towering mysteries about life and death that so consumed my mind will finally be clarified in a way that they could never be before while I lived.
These things will certainly all be true on the day that I die.”

“Yet for as much as will happen on that day, one more thing that will happen.
On the day I die, the few people who really know and truly love me will grieve deeply.
They will feel a void.
They will feel cheated.
They will not feel ready.
They will feel as though a part of them has died as well.
And on that day, more than anything in the world they will want more time with me.
I know this from those I love and grieve over.”

“And so knowing this, while I am still alive I’ll try to remember that my time with them is finite and fleeting and so very precious—and I’ll do my best not to waste a second of it.”

“I’ll try not to squander a priceless moment worrying about all the other things that will happen on the day I die, because many of those things are either not my concern or beyond my control.”

“Friends, those other things have an insidious way of keeping you from living even as you live; vying for your attention, competing for your affections.
They rob you of the joy of this unrepeatable, uncontainable, ever-evaporating Now with those who love you and want only to share it with you.”

“Don’t miss the chance to dance with them while you can.
It’s easy to waste so much daylight in the days before you die.
Don’t let your life be stolen every day by all that you believe matters, because on the day you die, much of it simply won’t.”

“Yes, you and I will die one day.
But before that day comes: let us live.”

Credit goes to John Pavlovitz, American Unitarian pastor and author, known for his progressive social and political writings from a post modern Unitarian Universalist perspective.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Signs #1928

The Spirit of St. Louis flew to Washington, DC in 1928, setting the stage for a new form of transportation. My next flight is not until September, although I’ll be  making several airport pick-ups in the meantime. My wife has a flight to Oakland/San Francisco planned to see her daughter, who is also coming to visit us in a month. She’s also giving my Spring Training friends some extra space when they come to Venice and it becomes a Fraternity House. That was always the joke at the Marc’s Party at Mike’s annual event in Indianapolis when my office friends would take over the pool. There were warning signs saying, “This is not a Fraternity House.”

Another friend gave us a sign for our pool: 

Welcome to OOL No 'P' Funny Pool Sign

It all reminds me of this song by Five Man Electrical  Band:

“Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign”

And the sign said
“Long-haired freaky people
Need not apply”
So I tucked my hair up under my hat
And I went in to ask him why
He said, “You look like a fine upstandin’ young man
I think you’ll do”
So I took off my hat and said, “Imagine that
Huh, me workin’ for you”
Sign, sign
Everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery
Breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign?
And the sign said
“Anybody caught trespassin’
Will be shot on sight”
So I jumped on the fence and I yelled at the house
“Hey! What gives you the right
To put up a fence to keep me out
But to keep Mother Nature in?
If God was here, he’d tell you to your face
‘Man, you’re some kind of sinner'”
Sign, sign
Everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery
Breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign?
Now, hey you, mister, can’t you read?
You got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat
You can’t even watch, no, you can’t eat
You ain’t supposed to be here
The sign said, “You’ve got to have a membership card
To get inside”
And the sign said
“Everybody welcome
Come in, kneel down and pray”
But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all
I didn’t have a penny to pay
So I got me a pen and a paper
And I made up my own little sign
I said, “Thank you, Lord, for thinkin’ ’bout me
I’m alive and doin’ fine”
Sign, sign
Everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery
Breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign?
Sign, sign
Everywhere a sign

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Arthur Thomas
Signs lyrics © Unichappell Music Inc., Galeneye Music

What is right and what is wrong? – Just give me sign!

Old Sport Shorts: Take that, you BIG Bully! #1927

I have been to many IU-Purdue basketball games in my lifetime and have never seen the Hoosiers lose – neither at Mackey Arena or Assembly Hall. Of course, I haven’t gone in many years, especially during this recent streak of 9-straight Boilermaker victories. I would have liked to have been there last night when the Hoosier fans stormed the court, something that Bob Knight would have never have approved of doing. His philosophy was to conduct yourself as if you’re expected to win. However, considering the past five years, I admittedly had no expectations for a win. 

The #4 Boilers have bullied the Hoosiers of late, and Rob Phinisee knows better than anyone, having never beaten them in his four years of school. He grew up a Lafayette kid and raised eyebrows with his decision to go to Bloomington. Last night, for the first time, he felt that he had finally made the right choice. His heroics of “Rocky-like” proportions, ended the Black & Gold domination. “Phin for the win!” It was perhaps even more dramatic than Christian Watford’s dagger against top-rated Kentucky eleven-years ago, but nowhere in comparison to “The Shot” by Keith Smart to win the 1987 National Championship. I was there in New Orleans for that historic moment. 

It was JUST Purdue this time, another BIG Conference victory, but for hungry, deprived  IU basketball fans, it was the sweetest moment ever. It might mean an elusive NCAA Tourney bid for the Hoosiers, regardless of the outcome of the re-match at Purdue, a team that could go on to win it all. After all, the 1981 I.U. National Champs lost at Purdue by two-points, before the 3 was ever a factor, and cruised through the tournament. I’m actually hoping for the same thing to happen for Purdue this year. They are a good enough team to finally hang their own banner. However, let’s take this moment to celebrate. Take that you BIG Bully!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Where Are My Spirits? #1926

On June 19,1926, DeFord Bailey became the first African-American to perform on Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. The Opry house has since moved to Opryland, but the historic Ryman Theater, that housed the Opry acts through 1974, is celebrating its 130th anniversary. It will be part of our summer tour up through the Midwest that also includes Panama City, Tuscaloosa, Indianapolis, Mackinac Island, Cleveland, Canton, Asheville, and Hilton Head. We plan to take the Nash Trash Tour, a comedy show on wheels through the key sights of the city on that Tennessee stop along the way. A night at the famous Grand Hotel is our ultimate destination, and the northernmost point on our drive. Other Michigan city destinations will include Ludington, Petoskey, and Traverse City. 

We just returned from Vanderbilt Beach and Bonita Springs after an overnight stay with Indy friends and lunch with hometown Elkhart acquaintances. My wife is hosting a bridge club this afternoon, while I try to figure out what happened to my whiskey delivery from Flaviar? They report it delivered and signed for two weeks ago. I have video of the delivery person who set off my Ring doorbell and walked away with the box since no one was home. It required a signature, so I’ve been waiting for the second attempt, but Sonic Transportation claims the delivery was made. Someone will probably lose their job over this, but I hope they enjoyed my spirits. 

I probably would have needed that sedative spirit tonight for the I.U. vs. Purdue basketball game, but I have other liquids to ease the pain. I have a bad feeling about this one after nine straight Hoosier losses. It will be tough for the Hoosier big men, TJD, Durr, and Race, to contain the #4-ranked Boiler twin towers of Williams and Edey. The “Good Guys in Crimson” also have Jaden Ivey and Sasha Stefanovic in Black & Gold to contend with on the perimeter. I’m certainly tired of losing to Purdue, and the only hope is that IU has not yet been defeated at home this season. When I most desperately need them – Where are my spirits?

Retirement is not without Hassles: A Good Day #1925

I’m sitting on Vanderbilt Beach this morning where normally I’d be enjoying the solitude of waves lapping on the shore and seagulls chirping. Instead, there’s a couple of guys playing with their giant Tonka Toys, pushing sand from one spot to another and disturbing the peace with their ear-piercing backup warnings. Yesterday, it was window washers, with an equally annoying beep as they moved their hydraulic equipment alongside the condominium buildings. To make matters worse the temperature is in the low 50s, so the piles of sand are reminiscent of snow drifts.

We had big plans last night with our friends to run together and attend a yoga class on the beach. Instead, I put on my mittens and hat for a solo run to the nearby State Park. My wife is taking a hot bath, while the others are trying to work up a yoga sweat with a chilly wind off the Gulf. We’ll be leaving soon for a lunch with other friends, while they are expecting more overnight guests.

We did have a nice afternoon by the pools, protected from the wind, despite the construction going on around us. My wife and I should be used to the lack of quiet with all the building happening in our neighborhood. We thought we might get away from it for the night, but that was not to be. We also enjoyed a grilled salmon dinner, conversation, and games last night, but it’s now time to move along. I took a few minutes to write this after completing my daily 7 Little Words puzzles, before hitting the shower.

We’ll be making a new acquaintance over lunch at nearby Doc’s Beach House in Bonita Springs, just down the road from Coconut Jack’s where we met Illinois friends over the Christmas holidays. The widow of my high school buddy has moved forward and found new love. It’s reassuring to know that she’s happy again after losing her husband of forty years. We spread his ashes at Wrigley Field together in July of 2016. It was my opportunity to say goodbye. Her new friend is from my hometown, so I’m sure we’ll have many folks in common. It’s going to be a good day.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Flashback #1924

As we look back in U.S. history, “the Immigration Act of 1924 is passed and sharply cuts the number of immigrants allowed into the United States. Ellis Island changes from being an entry point into the country to being a detention and deportation point for illegal aliens and those who violated terms of admittance. It starts to go into disuse.” Ninety-eight years later it’s still a humanity issue that divides America.

On a lighter note, we did see two movies yesterday, including a matinee showing of Sing 2 at the theater and an evening performance of Paul is the Walrus at our neighborhood community center. First of all, it’s hard to believe that our annual Regal movie passes have yet to expire after nearly two years. It is very generous on the part of Regal to have extended our purchase long beyond their Covid shut-down period, or they have simply forgotten about us! We’ve gone to a free movie nearly every week since we arrived in Florida 10-months ago. It’s not as convenient as it was in downtown Portland when we could walk to a movie.

The evening theater performance was produced by one of our neighbors and was a sing-a-long play about the rumored death of the Beatles’ Paul McCartney, started back in the late sixties. Mysterious clues were exposed on album covers and by playing recordings backwards. Did he really die in a car crash and was replaced by a double? It was a fun way to engage with all our neighbors before our next get together in early February. Photos and voice recognition before and after the supposed crash loosely validate the conspiracy theory. 

Steam was rolling off the heated pool surface this morning with the temperature in the mid-forties. It was the coolest morning we’ve experienced since the move, so a hat, jacket, and gloves were part of my morning 5k run. We’re headed south about an hour this afternoon to visit friends for the night. It might be a few degrees warmer, but far too nippy for beach yoga as planned.

I had an odd childhood memory this morning when I saw a Juan Marichal baseball card on a Facebook post. It was if I could see myself as a youngster opening a fresh pack of cards with the distinct smell of bubblegum and finding this missing player from my collection. The familiar smell from all those years back was what made this moment a special kind of  flashback. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Welcome Distraction #1923

It is a cloudy “Matinee Monday,” a good afternoon for indoor entertainment. Tomorrow, we head to Vanderbilt Beach, about an hour-and-a-half south of us for a reunion with Indianapolis friends. We got together last year about this time of year, as they take a two-week break from the cold before heading back to WORK. I can barely remember the meaning of that four-letter word. Obviously, they are a bit younger than we are. We’ll spend the night, with Tally staying with a new sitter, a neighbor from the dog park. The folks from “Schnauzerville” where she likes to go are on a cruise, but it’s good to have multiple options for pet care as much as we’d like to travel. On Wednesday morning we’ll drive into nearby Bonita Springs and meet some hometown friends for lunch. She was the wife of a good high school friend who died  several years ago and has been in a new relationship for awhile. I’ve yet to meet him, but soon will, since they too are getting away from the chilly Indiana weather. 

Florida is a great place to renew acquaintances with the Midwest snowbirds. I guess at one time I could have been considered such an animal, but I’m now a full time resident. I was pretty far removed from my Hoosier friends, living both in Austin and Portland for the last dozen years. Only rarely did we have visitors, but I had the good fortune of knowing several Oregon Hoosiers, dating back to high school. I miss hanging out with them, especially “Leadership Meetings” at Buffalo Wild Wings. They’re coming down here for Spring Training, plus I’ll visit them in Portland come September. 

We got some of the fliers out yesterday for the Neighborhood Meet-up in a few weeks and will see a lot of them tonight at the events center for a movie one of them produced. It could be two movies in one day for my wife and I! As a result, I will miss some of the IU basketball game tonight, but have a feeling that this may be a good thing – we have little to gain and a lot to lose. The team has not won a BIG road game in nearly a year, plus Nebraska is last in the conference. If we lose this one – all hope is gone. It will be better to simply monitor the score and keep my comments to myself. Getting together with these new neighbor friends will be a welcome distraction. 

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