Today's thoughts

Author: mikeljohnston1 (Page 1 of 255)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Neighbor #2544

Continued from Post #2543. Written for an upcoming 70th birthday party:

Seventy times Two!

I attended the 40th,

When we were just kids.

And since that time,

We’ve all hit the skids!


Zoomin’ and Dickeling,

Are now in the past.

These thirty years,

Have gone by fast.


Juneteenth is now,

A National Holiday.

My wife, Denise, born,

The very same day.


The banks are closed,

Or I’d enclose checks.

And today’s your best chance,

To beg for some sex.


Instead, you get,

Another rhyme.

But there won’t be,

A next time.


We know Tim’s got,

And Karen, too!

Tom Walton genes,

But “E,” NOT you!


I’d suggest a shot,

Or two, on a dare.

But that’s not covered,

By Medicare.


The bald truth,

Is under those caps.

Let’s get this over,

And return to our naps.


We’re still neighbors,

Though far away.

Wishing you both,

A Happy Birthday!


Copyright 2024









Retirement is not without Hassles: Write On! #2543

Twenty-one weeks have come to pass since surgery with the only remaining indications being a long scar and some mild tenderness in my chest. The gym is restoring some of my strength, but I miss the ability to simply lace up my tennis shoes and hit the streets. The chiropractor has diagnosed my leg issues as bypass sciatica and the treatments continue. I have been finally able to surpass the mile mark on the treadmill with only mild discomfort. As we prepare to be on the road the next ten days, my home exercise routines will be on hold. I know there’s a gym at the Marriott Vacation Club and workout equipment in Porland, but I’m hoping to get in several miles of walking each day. The benches at Disney World will undoubtedly become my new friend. 

I have a couple of birthday poems that I need to write on the plane ride. One will be an update from this tribute 30-years ago:

“Who’s Zoomin’ Who” became our theme,

“Four Asses,” we were quite a team.

Was wearing tights a real-life scheme?

Or was it just a silly dream?


We once turned on your garden hose,

And dove for Dickel, legend goes.

We Dickeled too much, I suppose,

Cause Doug blew noodles through his nose.


Tim, you’ve picked your friends and foes,

I’ll bet you’ve even picked your nose.

The thing you can’t pick, everyone knows,

Is a relative like Mike, and that fact shows.


To keep in shape you both abide,

But there’s something age can never hide.

Your body’s like a classic ride,

Shiny on the surface but rusted inside.


So here’s to a couple of Birthday boys,

Eat, Drink, Spend, and make some noise.

Cause he who dies with the most toys,

The winning widow still enjoys.


Happy 40th, Mike and Tim

For those of you that don’t know, George Dickel is a whiskey brand, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who, a hit song by Aretha Franklin, and Doug a fellow partier. To really understand, however, you would have had to be there. 

Both Mike and Tim were born on June 19th. It was tough to write at the time, because Mike was a close friend while Tim was only an acquaintance. In fact, I’m not sure that I’ve even seen Tim since then. Mike’s wife, Karen, recently posted a Facebook request to send them both greetings on their upcoming joint 70th birthday. Karen is Tim’s brother. 

Coincidentally, my wife was also born on that Juneteenth day, although a few years younger. In fact, she wasn’t yet my wife thirty years ago. I will craft her poem separately, as part of a traditional Limoges Box gift.

Fortunately, none of us have a widow.  

Write On!








Creature Features: Bad Dog #2542

Most dogs hate the rain, and our new puppy, Fosse, is no exception. The drama queen comes out in her, as she squeals, bucks, and twists with resistance. One of our neighbors across the street heard her high-pitched screams the other morning and thought there might be some abuse going on. Tally, her older sister, just quickly gets it over with anymore, anxious for a toweling afterwards. 

Fosse had already left her bed early, checked out the weather, and promptly pooped in the dining room. Bad Dog! We’ve had to reinvest in Spot Shot, after years of having such a good dog, Tally. At least, Fosse waited to pee in the front yard, after Tally led the way and then quickly ran for cover. I spent the morning sanitizing the rug.

They won’t get to go to the flooded dog park this morning to burn off the excess energy, although Tally typically just sits there in the shade. She’s a fourteen-year-old lady that now has to tolerate a perky puppy. Fosse just lost her first tooth yesterday and goes non-stop except when she’s cuddling on my wife’s lap.

Both dogs are just back from a night at Schnauzerville, a private home where they exclusively breed, groom, and board schnauzers. Despite the training they get there, it takes only one day away from home to get out of their routine. Fosse was born at Schnauzerville and her mom and dad live there, along with some of her siblings, so she naturally gets overexcited to reunite with them, but can’t control her bladder. Bad Dog! Tally has been going there since we moved to Florida and enjoys the run of the house. Good Dog! They don’t know it yet, but they’ll be back at Schnauzerville this weekend for the 10-days that we’ll be traveling. 

Good Dog! Bad Dog! is now the norm in our life, as we’ve doubled up on dogs. Extra food, extra treats, extra walks, extra boarding costs, and extra Spot Shot! I’m just simply trying to tolerate the extra disruptions to our retirement life. Too many times a day now, you’ll hear my frustration as I exclaim to Fosse, “Bad Dog!” She might even think it’s her name!

Old Sport Shorts: Go Cubs Go! #2541

I’ve been to a lot of Cubs games in my lifetime, most at Wrigley Field but some at Sox Park during the Crosstown Classic. I’ve seen them in Phoenix during Spring Training and during Covid had tickets for games that were cancelled. Most importantly, I watched them win a World Series game in the Wrigley stands thanks to my wife and her ticket contacts. Since that time, I rarely got to see them play, living so far away and without access to tickets. Our retirement from the media business has limited our opportunities to see free concerts and games. However, my wife and I have been on a bit of a road winning streak these last few years. 

We saw them win in San Francisco with the entire family in 2017 and again in 2018 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Finally, in 2021 we all went to Pittsburgh for a 9-0 victory. Last night, it all came to an end in the bottom of the 9th against the Rays at Tropicana Stadium. A walk-off 3-run homer by Brandon Lowe sealed the loss, a first for my son in many years to going to Cubs games, even without me. I was privileged last night to watch the game with “Three Generations of Cub Fans,” including my grandson and my wife who bought us a brick with that inscription, embedded in the walkways around Wrigley Field. My grandson isn’t much of a baseball fan and in fact bought a new Rays cap just before that final blow. My son’s wife and two daughters did not join us, so their Cubs victory streak is still intact. 

I followed some other baseball last night while sitting in the stands, gorging myself on hot dogs, pulled pork nachos, and dip-n-dots. As you can see, not all was lost. We had good family bonding time and a 2-0 lead most of the game. Our area, after a persistent draught, has had a deluge of recent rainfall, while heavy showers made it challenging to get to and from St. Pete. I was glad my son was driving. Too many unknowledgeable neighbors and friends asked if the game was rained-out, not realizing that it is a covered stadium. It made for pleasant, dry and airconditioned conditions. In other MLB action, two of my favorite players, former Cub, Kyle Schwarber had two home runs for the Phillies last night, while Shohei Ohtani of the Dodgers also homered. Sadly, my White Sox lost too, their 51st of a season that’s not even half over!

“Take me out to the ballgame,” always makes a game memorable, as we all sang along arm-in-arm. “Root, root, root for the CUBBIES,” drowned out the home-team Rays chant, so a lot of fans went home disappointed thanks to the “L” rather than “W.” There are two games left in the series, but we won’t make the drive again this year, and it will be several more years before the Cubs schedule will allow them to return. Who knows when we’ll see the Cubs play again, but thanks to our Braves Spring Training facility next door, there will be much more baseball in our lives. Go, Cubs, Go!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Back on my Feet #2540

We got a pale and baked version, instead of the much-anticipated fried chicken last night, although my wife, in her cowboy boots, still enjoyed the line dancing. Several of our neighbors were there to join in the false advertising complaints against the homeowner’s association. The caterer, Publix, was apparently to blame. I left, with a bad taste in my mouth, in the middle of a rainstorm to take care of the dogs, taking advantage of the opportunity to get away from the crowded dance floor. 

The rain has continued this morning, while chair yoga has been cancelled because the instructor is not feeling well. I don’t think she was there for last night’s chicken. We are headed to St. Pete tonight for the Cubs game thankful that it’s an indoor stadium. My son bought the tickets, so I’m in charge of food. Maybe they’ll have fried chicken? However, I’m more inclined to Ballpark Franks. The dogs get to go to Schnauzerville, although we are driving back after the game. 

I have a wallet full of cash after yesterday’s successful visit to the coin shop. It was an easy transaction and I got pretty much as expected. Trust me, it will all be gone (and more) after this weekend’s family trip to Disney World, if not at the concession stands tonight. Orlando is the first stop on our way to Portland to visit friends and more family. It will be good to get away from the hot, steamy Florida weather in favor of the cool Northwest. Pizza and wine are on the agenda, as we celebrate my wife’s birthday with her oldest daughter and husband. 

I’m headed to the gym again today, a daily routine that has replaced running. I’ve been there every day religiously for over a month now along with some pool workouts, despite seeing the chiropractor about my painful leg issues. Walking still continues to be a problem, limited to only about twenty minutes. There will be a gym where we’re staying in Orlando, but I’m concerned about being on my feet all day in the Mouse Park. I should also be able to use my son-in-law’s equipment while we’re in Portland. Hopefully, three more visits to the chiropractor this week will help resolve the cramping and Charlie Horses so I can get back on my feet, please!




Retirement is not without Hassles: Face-to-Face #2539

I been to all kinds of parties – beer, pizza, birthday, anniversary, wine tasting, graduation, surprise, garden, cocktail, tea, beach, bonfire, Christmas, bachelor, costume, dinner, farewell, pool, Super Bowl, potluck, karaoke, and dance, to name a few.  Last night, was my first RIP party. No, not a funeral wake!
This is an event where you “rip” open packs of baseball cards. In this case, 12 sealed boxes were involved including Big League Blasters (BL), Chrome Update Blasters, Heritage Blasters, Series 1 Monster, Archive Signature Series, UK Edition Hobby, Heritage High Number Hobby, Update Series, and Bowman Hobby. Each partygoer was randomly assigned a team after paying an entry fee and gets to keep those respective cards. 

Last night’s big winner, or hit, was the Dodgers and a signed/numbered rookie Bowman by Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who just picked up a victory at Yankee Stadium. I drew the Cincinnati Reds and got numerous versions of rookie sensation Elly De La Cruz, who may set a league record for stolen bases. 

I arrived fashionably early at Blue Breaks Card Shop and was surprised to find that I was the only one there. I was anticipating an opportunity to meet the other players, but instead it turned out to be an online event. I had even foolishly taken some cards to trade. It was an indication of my age and old-fashioned expectations of social interaction. Instead, I ended up quietly observing the show from their back office. It reminded me of being in the studio watching a live TV show or newscast, as I often did before retiring from that business. The hosts of the show did all the ripping and staged the effort to make it more exciting. 

For me, after all these years, there’s nothing more thrilling than opening a pack of baseball cards. Once upon a time, it was also the smell of stale bubble gum, and even longer ago tobacco. It was interesting to see all the different types of cards available on the market, when as a kid, Topps was the only brand available for many years and then proceeded to buy up most of their competitors. Now, Topps has a line of various Major League licensed card products like Allen & Gunter, Bowman, Stadium Club, Heritage, etc. 

I was expecting a party where there was more social interaction than simply an online chat. I envisioned us sitting at tables talking about our favorite teams and exchanging stories and duplicates. I was lucky that the let me behind the scenes to watch but felt foolish about my expectations as a member of an older generation that once did everything face-to-face.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Coins #2538

When I was a kid about 10 years old, I became enamored with an older neighbor who collected coins and baseball cards. He showed me a 1910 Lincoln penny and told me about the rarer 1909-S-VDB. I was immediately fascinated and decided to begin a collection of my own. To make a long story short, I’m still collecting baseball cards but haven’t added to my pennies in years and never found a 1909-S-VDB. I’ve searched everywhere and have had several opportunities to buy one. Now, they are worth over a $1,000 and decidedly not worth my investment. In fact, I could just buy a fake one and who would know but me!

As a result of baseball and coins, the number 10 became special to me. In fact, my favorite player, Sherm Lollar, who played in the 1959 World Series, wore #10. I still collect his memorabilia, but coins, even dated 1910, are no longer a fascination. As a result, I’ve decided to sell all my coins and maybe buy more baseball cards. 

I currently have a Lincoln cent collection, Washington Quarters (state editions), and an assortment of change that my mother-in-law gave me. She hoarded Kennedy half-dollars, silver dollars, $2 bills, Susan B. Anthony dollars, and wheat pennies. They were kept in these cloth bank pouches that tie at the top similar to what you see in old time bank robberies. I’ve had these bags in my sock drawer for years. As I’ve searched through them, I’ve also found some Barber and Mercury dimes, Liberty & Franklin halves, a few Sacagawea dollars, Buffalo nickels, foreign currency, and a couple Morgan & Ike dollars. It’s a random assortment of coins that need a new owner. 

There’s a coin shop down the street that I’ll be visiting next week, probably to or from my chiropractor appointments. I’ll be lucky to get $1000, with a face value of $325, unless I’ve missed something during the course of valuation. It kept me busy yesterday, while there’s a sense of satisfactory closure to a childhood chapter of treasure hunting. I’m done hunting and gathering, it’s time to simplify and organize. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Eeyore #2537

The weekend has officially arrived but the kid in me is gone, at least temporarily. With cramps in one leg and a knee brace on the other I struggle to want to “go out and play.” It’s only been five months since I was running every day, but it seems like forever. Being hobbled on one leg apparently put too much stress on the other and consequently led to tenderness in my knee. Right knee…left knee…wee knee. Yes, my prostrate is an issue, too! But, enough about these old age woes. 

Will my upcoming trip to Disney World help find that lost kid within me? Or, will I continue to be like Eeyore? “Eeyore is a fictional character in the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A. A. Milne. He is generally characterized as a pessimistic, gloomy, depressed, anhedonic (pleasureless), old grey stuffed donkey who is a friend of the title character, Winnie-the-Pooh.” Did I just describe myself as an ass? “Grey” is certainly appropriate, “old” is realistic and “pessimistic” fits me well. Picture Eeyore with a brace on his knee, and that’s me, at least for the day. 

In a way, I’m not looking forward to going to the “Happiest Place on Earth!” I can no longer go on the rollercoasters after throwing out my back the last time on the Everest ride. I hate crowds and even loud children. I especially despise waiting in long lines. However, I will enjoy hanging out with my grandkids and seeing some of their favorite characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The massive expense is to celebrate their May birthdays now that school is out. The alternative, I suppose, is staying home and feeling sorry for myself. 

The kids will be in the parks, Disney and Universal, for four, hot days. I will only have to tolerate one. We will also be attending the Bluey musical in Orlando, another of my youngest granddaughter’s cartoon favorites, brought to life on stage.  At least, I can sit in air-conditioned comfort for that one. 

We’ll then be on our way to Portland, once again dealing with long lines at the airport and cramped seats on the plane – at least it’s not Peter Pan’s Flight. It will be good to see friends & family, get together for a “Leadership Meeting” again, and visit our old stomping grounds. I’m not so sure that they are looking forward to seeing Eeyore. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Hopefully, NOT! #2536

The month of June is filled with special observances starting with Flip-A-Coin Day on the first. Mine came up heads. Of course, June 6th is D-Day and a commemorative bottle of beach sand from Normandy sits on my office shelves as a reminder. June 5th was the 55th anniversary of my Elkhart High School graduation, as I was just reminded. However, I’m not able to attend the September class reunion, but will go to my wife’s 50th in August. She celebrates a 68th birthday on June 19th – Juneteenth. Any baseball fanatic like me knows that June 2nd is Lou Gehrig Day. I just bought a baseball card set honoring the occasion. 

A donut and chocolate ice cream are the appropriate ways to honor June 7th, washing down the Applesauce Cake from the day before. Rosé and shot of gin should be included in any toasts to June 8th. My wife and I also celebrate our monthly anniversary on that special day. June 9th is Donald Duck Day, and we’ll honor him as a family with a trip to Disney World the following week. My granddaughters like iced tea and the 10th recognizes that drink’s day of honor along with frosted cookies and perhaps an egg roll or two. 

We’re supposed to call the doctor on June 11th, eat corn on the cobb, and have a slice of German chocolate cake. I’ve already had too many trips to the doctor this year and the scales show too much cake consumption, so I’ll simply pay tribute to our heavenly pets. Then on June 12th, I’ll try to stay away from peanut butter cookies and maybe buy my wife some roses. As you can see, each June day has so many things to honor. The 13th might be unlucky for many of us, but at least it’s not a Friday. Stay away from ax throwing, although it’s a nationally recognized activity on this day. 

The 14th is Flag Day, as we continue to think about those who gave their lives for our country. Donating blood is recommended, but not after a shot of bourbon. I’m a “Dog Dad” to Tally and Fosse, so the 15th is my day, continuing through Father’s Day on the 16th. National Root Beer Day is the 17th, while we pay tribute to sushi on the 18th. Juneteenth calls for a martini, while a milkshake is in order on the 20th. 

Take your dog to work on the 21st, kiss it on the 22nd, and dress it in pink on the 23rd. Swim a lap on the 24th and listen to a Beatles album on the 25th. Chocolate pudding was all they could come up with for the 26th, Bingo for the 27th, and tapioca doesn’t have to share its special day with anyone on the 28th. Finally, we can end the month of June by taking pictures with your camera on the 29th and dining at a food truck on the last day. Will I repeat this silly exercise again in July? Hopefully, NOT. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Recovering…Please Wait #2535

Twenty weeks have now passed since my surgery, and I’m still struggling. Now that the ultrasound has shown no blockages in my lower extremities, the chiropractor feels that I may have a pinched nerve near my spine. Yes, the surgery has proven that I’m not “heartless” or “spineless,” as some may have accused. However, the pain that radiates through my legs have made walking very uncomfortable, a key exercise component in my recovery. The doctor put me on a stretching table, more like the rack used for torture, to relieve some of the pressure on my back and applied electrical massage to the area through a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) device. The soreness was unbearable when he then applied direct pressure with his fingers to the inside of my left thigh. This was not the case on the right side. 

It was obvious that Dr. Frankenstein “had gotten on my nerve” and that more treatments would be needed. The next two days my lower back has been stiff and sore. I’ve continued to go to the gym to use the stationary bike and rowing machine but have had to cut the treadmill time back, with cramping sensations in my left thigh and calf. I’ve tried to make up for it by walking and running in the shallow end of the pool and trying to swim the breaststroke. I’m not yet strong enough to do the laps I once swam, and there’s still some discomfort in my healing chest incisions. I’ve also had a little bit of swelling in that area. 

I’ll go back to the chiropractor next Monday and Wednesday for more treatments and will use the weekend to work out the soreness in my lower back. Sitting and lying down are comfortable, but being on my feet can be painful. It’s hard to believe that I used to run every single day before this surgery. However, the anesthesia, bed rest, medication adjustments, and slow recovery time have changed the game. Admittedly, it’s been much harder than I thought, as I struggle to even put down in words what it’s like to go through all of this. The initial intent of this blog was to be humorous, but please wait!

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