Today's thoughts

Category: CREATURE FEATURES (Page 1 of 29)

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! (Plus dogs and cats)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Homebody Habits #1454

The run is done, as the day has begun. It’s time to sit down and write, with little to report. The most dominant news story is the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and who could possibly replace her. It adds more weight to an already stressful year, as another political battle ensues. Stall tactics will try to push the nomination into 2021, with hopes of a different decision maker. As happens every election year, our country is on hold. The stock market is beginning to react in anticipation of the election. The upcoming debates will add to the ugliness. 

My wife’s daughter and husband are trying to balance work/home projects around caring for a broken leg. We’re headed over there today to work in the yard and prepare dinner in an effort to help. Tally can also spend some time with their pup Falco. Yesterday, we tried to introduce Tally to our new neighbor’s big, black lab, Oscar, but they  were cautious of each other. (See Post #1450). There was some growling going on this morning behind closed doors as we walked by their apartment. Apparently Oscar has had some schnauzer friends in the past, so we’ll give them some time to be more friendly. There’s a lot of turnover in our building, so  we’ve experienced some good and bad confrontations with other dogs that have come and gone. 

I’ll spend some more time today on genealogy, as I continue to chart Ban(n)ister World. (See Post #422). I’m adding some clues to my Jerry Banister Family Tree based on a recent y-DNA test. With nearly 30,000 relative connections, the branches are getting very heavy. It’s as close as I can get to actually comparing DNA samples of my bio-parents. I have many links to both of them, proving beyond a doubt that they gave me life. Adoption turned out to be the best course of action for my upbringing. I remain intrigued, building the family I never had, yet grateful for those I ended up knowing. My continuing story in captured in Diary of an Adoptee, a category of this blog. 

My cooking night has been pushed to tomorrow, as the days of the week have again been rearranged. My wife and I are both often confused as to what day it is. I did make arrangements for a “Leadership Meeting” on Friday, returning to that tradition after more than a month off. My wife and I have a lunch and birthday party to attend this weekend to add some more variety to our typically routine homebody habits. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Buckeyes #1453

It’s “Meatless Monday,” our dog Tally’s least favorite day of the week, as we lighten our food intake. She’ll come to the table, as always, but leave disappointed. It’s our way of starting the week with a healthier, lower intake of food. I just completed my morning run #4,285, enjoying the fresh, smoke-free air. There are still many fires burning in the area, as many Oregonians have lost lives and property. We’re lucky to have avoided such tragedy. 

It was another boring weekend, with little to do but grocery shop and watch television. Many people were outside yesterday, soaking in the sunshine and admiring the bright blue skies. Traffic was hectic in our neighborhood, after weeks of little activity. Time to also take-in some of nature’s beauty. I’m surprised at the number of buckeye trees in our area. If it weren’t for Ohio State, I would appreciate them more. The nut is a beautiful mahogany brown with a round tan spot, and this must be the time of the year that they fall to the ground. It brings back memories of my childhood and walks home from Rice Elementary School. There was a huge buckeye tree nearby, and I would fill my pockets with these beautiful droppings. Now, they are just reminders that it’s football season and time for another loss to the Buckeyes. “Sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t.”

While my wife picked up some groceries at Zupan’s Market, I walked Tally over to Washington Park. There were buckeyes everywhere she stopped to sniff, and I was careful to keep her away from the potential poisons. They can be eaten if properly prepared, but why take a chance. Beware of the Buckeye!  Beautiful yet dangerous, like the shiny apple that attracts Snow White. It’s probably why I’ve grown to associate Ohio State with witchcraft. The football Buckeyes have a 24-game winning streak over my I.U. Hoosiers. It used to be that I always looked to basketball season for revenge, but that’s no longer the case. 

Summer is coming to an end in a few days, but its enjoyment has been disrupted by the virus, protests, and fires. Buckeyes dropping from the sky  are a sure sign of Fall. Hopefully, the stock market does not follow suit, although this morning’s activity has not been positive. It’s all a matter of timing. We have to put more money down on the house we’re building in Florida, where there will be a palm tree rather than a buckeye. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Black Dog #1450

It’s another blog milestone with this 1,450th post and consecutive daily run #4282. Somehow, I was able to avoid the rain this morning. The showers are a welcome sight, hopefully cleansing the smokey air that’s lingered in the city all week. I can finally see the top of Forest Hills out my home office window. More is expected today and tomorrow as firefighters continue to fight the 30-plus blazes still threatening lives and property. The Convention Center is filled with evacuees and homeless waiting out this local tragedy. As a family, we’ve been fortunate. 

It’s another Leadershipless Friday as the group fails once again to get together. Buffalo Wild Wings is certainly suffering from our absence. Mid-week whale watching at least got two of us together for a beer. In a few short weeks, we’ll all be picking grapes and celebrating this year’s crop. Last year, mold ruined the harvest so there was no picking, crushing, racking or bottling. Brix levels are pointing to an early October harvest. I finished up the last few bottles of the 2015 Walleye this week in anticipation of adding more 2017 to the “cellar” that is really a stack of cases in my closet. I Will Work For Wine!

I did watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest yesterday afternoon with little recollection of viewing it years ago – probably in a theater. We motored under that same DePoe Bay Bridge as Jack Nicholson, except our boat wasn’t stolen or filled with lunatics. I finished the movie just before seeing the Chicago White Sox claim their first playoff birth in twelve years. It once again proves that Twenty-Twenty is a year of surprises. 

Our schnauzer Tally’s playmate Falco was returned to my wife’s daughter’s home last evening, so dog duty is now back to normal. Tally was surprised this morning to meet her new neighbor nose-to-nose. It’s a big black Labrador with a ferocious deep growl that we had previously heard behind their apartment door. It would have probably liked to eat Tally for breakfast, but there was not a violent confrontation. Tally’s previous nemesis, Moose the Saint Bernard, just moved out a few weeks ago. I did not get to properly meet the owner, with us both hidden behind masks and keeping our distance in the hallway.  Big and little black dogs will surely collide again! 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Smoke Concerns #1447

There are signs that the smokey haze may soon dissipate, considering the humidity in the air and an actual sun-sighting yesterday afternoon. A few pop-up showers have been reported in our area, but substantial rain will probably not happen for a few days. By this weekend, activity will start to return to normal by Covid standards. I still can’t see the tops of the hills outside my home office window, as I look out over a sea of gray. It’s hard to believe I was out there earlier taking-in the smoke-filled air in an effort to keep my running streak alive. 

As I huffed and puffed my way up the three flights of stairs this morning, I realized that six months from now there will be no need to go up and down. Our new home will be on one floor with not even a basement. I wonder how further out of shape my legs will get without this additional exercise? Hopefully, my running will continue, while maybe I’ll get into a sport like Pickle Ball and spend more time in the water? My stride has been reduced to more of a shuffle, with very little leg lift involved. Some of this is intentional to reduce the impact on my aging legs. My 69-year old body is making adjustments to accommodate for my lack of spring and balance. I’m just grateful that I can keep going. 4,279 days and counting. 

I had some work-related nightmares as part of a restless sleep. Silly things like I’ve been on the job for months without making a single sale or have scheduled things in error. At least, I haven’t had any about missing classes or not studying for a test. I then wake-up worried about the growing building costs of our home and other financial concerns. Life is not always carefree in retirement. Sometimes I wish that the home was built and we were already moving in, but that’s essentially giving-up the next six months of life. I’ve always been good at looking ahead rather than savoring the moment. In many ways, the anticipation of a Florida lifestyle is exciting, but I will miss my Oregon friends and family.

Last night was a two-dog night with Falco, Tally’s puppy-niece, visiting for a few days. It keeps both of them entertained, but means some extra work for me. Outings are more difficult as they tend to move in opposite directions with me in tow. It is fun, however, to watch them zoom down the hallways and stairs before I put them on the leash. It’s about the only freedom they truly  have in these smokey, pandemic times. They both slept better than I did last night, and were anxious to get outside this morning, with little concern about the smoke.  



Creature Features: Black Bandit #1441

Our little black schnauzer named Tally must have top-of-mind presence. Yesterday’s poem has led to another. I dutifully let her out to do her business first thing every morning and twice in the evening. It seems she should be grateful, but instead she definitely prefers my wife. She’s even reluctant to sleep in good bed on my side of the bedroom. She’s definitely a Mama’s Girl with many nicknames like “Talligator,” “Gator,” “Tally Monster,” and “Tallster.” It suddenly struck me that she’s more like a “Black Bandit,” lurking around our apartment in anticipation of a treat or meal.

Black Bandit

This Black Bandit,
Doesn’t wear a mask.
When it comes to theft,
She’s up to the task.

She’ll steal your heart,
Take your breath away.
“Would you like a treat?”
Is all you have to say.

She’ll expose her tummy,
Like an open book.
Flash the cutest smile,
Give a welcome look.

She would very much like,
To take you for a walk.
Sometimes you suspect,
She can actually talk.

She’ll bite the leash,
To pull you along.
Like you’re doing it,
Totally wrong.

You try to keep up,
While she leads the way.
Then slowly dawdles,
Until spotting a stray.

Smells are codes,
From canine confidants.
To be doggedly deciphered,
Seeking sense from scents.

With jaws like a gator,
She tears up her toys.
And barks for attention,
From the doggie boys.

She lounges in good bed,
Until supper is served.
Awarding her behavior,
That’s much deserved.

When it comes to bedtime,
Ham Time’s the tradition.
And getting extra servings,
Is Tally’s daily mission.

She’s the Black Bandit,
And sneaky like a crow.
The pink tongue an exception,
In color head to toe.

She’s really not a thief,
Just very persuasive.
But when it comes to me,
She tends to be evasive.

Copyright 2020 


Creature Features: Yummy Tummy #1440

When our schnauzer Tinker was alive, she always seemed to inspire a poem. Her younger sister Tally all too often got upstaged. Now that she’s an only dog, I thought it only fair to write some words to describe our all-black pup who is often just a dark shadow in photos (unless she poses on a white rug). Tally rarely pays attention to me, but every once in a while she rolls on her back expecting a Tummy Attack!

Yummy Tummy  

We have a pup,
Who likes attention.
All you have to do,
Is subtly mention.

Would you like,
A Tummy Attack?
She’ll roll over,
On her back.

Her paws in the air,
To urge your hand.
Exposing her belly,
To something grand.

“Please don’t stop,”
You can hear her plea.
The smile on her lips,
Expressing glee.

“A little lower,
And to the right.
You can keep rubbing,
All through the night.”

And when she’s hungry,
There’s more magic rhyme.
“Yummy Tummy,”
It’s dinner time.

Backwards, Upside down,
Then comes the look.
She’s got you,
On the Hook.

She’s a black bandit,                                                                        For scraps or Ham Time.                                                              But stealing your heart,                                                                Is her biggest crime.

Those eyes meet yours,
It’s clearly Pet-nosis.
Tally gets what she wants,
She’s Puppy Precocious.

Copyright 2020

Retirement is not without Hassles: Company #1409

Company’s come and gone and we’re back to the boring old routine. My wife has gladly cooked and cleaned for days, showing the love for her two daughters. It’s my turn to cook dinner tonight – an easy cheeseburger salad recipe. Our schnauzer Tally can also rest after five grueling days of bone wars with her doggie niece Falco. A quiet day at home is a well-earned reward for all of us.

Our next daughter adventures will take place in San Francisco just over two weeks from now. A weekend at the Ritz Carlton will start our journey to Florida. All of us will then get together for a pre-Holiday getaway to Kauai. Hopefully, the virus will not interfere with our plans. It’s already gotten in the way too many times this year.

Tonight, the Portland Timbers battle Orlando for the MLS is Back championship, perhaps their first since 2015. Maybe the city will get some positive exposure after all the bad press about the never-ending riots? I enjoyed some of the family games we played these past few days, including It was much more exciting than any of the professional games we tried to watch on TV or “Shark Week.” 

Looking back at this past week of activities entertaining company, the time has passed quickly. We’ve done some wine-tasting, sight-seeing, long drives, hikes, dinners, and a picnic. It was the antithesis of stay at home, but a much needed change from isolation. We’ll return to our quiet life together prior to the 2,600-mile cross-country drive next week. There’s plenty of company waiting for us on the road ahead. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: House Guests #1406

We’re lucky to have house guests for the weekend. My wife’s daughter and husband have come for a visit. I feel bad that we don’t have more space to accommodate them, having moved from our house into an apartment. They would have had the entire upstairs and total privacy. Instead, they have an inflatable bed crammed in my office. I’m writing from the living room coffee table this morning and feeding the parking meter out front to allow them garage space. These are both minor disruptions in the world of retirement. We’re glad to have the company in these pandemic times of isolation.

We relieved the stay-at-home boredom yesterday by driving to the quaint Oregon Coast city of Manzanita to meet some friends for wine and food. It was like an extension of our long drive to Glacier National Park along winding scenic, forest roads. After a couple of quick views of the Pacific Ocean and a bite to eat in Cannon Beach, we were soon back home. For some reason, Tally our schnauzer had no interest in being near the roaring waves. We still had a few more preparation duties to take care of in anticipation of our soon to arrive guests. 

Today would normally be a “Leadership” luncheon, but nothing is normal these days. Next week we’ll return to that Friday tradition. Tonight, we’ll grill outside at my wife’s other daughter’s nearby home. It will be the first time that we’ve all gotten together since their wedding 10 months ago, just before the world shifted and spun out of control. At that time, our schnauzer Tinker was still alive and their pup Falco had yet to be adopted. Now, Tally is best friends with Falco, so the patter of little feet will add to the reunion atmosphere. We might even see our fancy grill in action, since they are not allowed in our apartment building. It’s being stored at their house. Someday soon, it will be the focal point of our Florida outdoor kitchen. 

Construction should start soon on this Florida house that will once again allow comfort and privacy for house guests. We’re not anticipating any overnight company in the remaining 6-months of our apartment lease. Most are discouraged by the lack of space and inflatable bed, but family is forgiving. However, they would not be staying here if it weren’t for the fact that the other sister’s house is under construction. They picked the lesser of two evils, and we’re doing our best to be good hosts. My wife loves house guests, especially those tolerant of our limited amenities. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Whew! #1401

Eight nights, seven McDonald’s, six gas stops, five hotels, two-thousand miles, and one small glitch. We were back in our apartment last night with a sense of relief – Whew! All that way to Montana and back – up steep terrain, across mountain passes, and through high desert flat lands without a single complaint until the very end. Despite its age, the trustworthy 2008 Toyota Solara convertible chugged along as planned, starting and stopping where needed. The only problem we’ve ever experienced over the years was a battery problem a few months ago. I had it fully recharged without any further issues. Yesterday, we drove in from Spokane with several stops for food, gas, and at a roadside farmer’s market. In every case, the car started right up, until the very last gas station. 

I had filled the car up with gas, and moved it to a parking spot to use the restroom facilities. As we got ready to make the final leg of the journey, I turned the ignition key and nothing happened. My wife and I were anxious to pick up our dog Tally and finally get home. Instead, we were stranded by The Dalles in ninety degree temperatures. It was not a desperate situation, we had food, several cases of wine, and a Shilo Inn next door. Fortunately, I called AAA, as I had two months ago and waited for a jump. As we sat there waiting, I thought of all the many other remote spots where we could have been inconvenienced during the course of our trip. Whew!

They told us it would be an hour wait, as I continued to get an ear full from my wife about not double-checking the battery before we left. It was going to be a very long hour! Thankfully, it wasn’t even a half hour before we were back on the road again thanks to the prompt assistance of River’s Edge Towing in nearby Hood River. Fortunately, they happened to be in route to service another car and we were in the right place at the right time. AAA to the rescue – it’s such a great service!  I’ll need to call them again tomorrow because the battery failed to recharge during the last hour-and-a-half of highway driving. We’re home and safe, but still in need of a new battery. It could have been much worse – Whew!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Journey of Life #1400

Fourteen hundred articles represents about 44 months of daily blogging. I’ve faithfully adhered to my one-a-day writing pledge from the moment I retired. In the process I’ve also written a sleazy novel and hundreds of poems. Prior to this trip to Glacier National Park, there was little to write about and the frustration showed in my rants about the Portland protests. What had always tended to be a humorous blog turned ugly and sarcastic at times. Hopefully, the time away will get me back on track. I guess you do need vacations, even in retirement. 

We’ve on the last leg of our Montana journey with an overnight stop in Spokane, Washington. We’re back at the historic Davenport Hotel for a last night of luxury. This is a very ornate structure with massive ballrooms. The dance floors are suspended from cables to cushion the feet. We attempted to take a walking tour of the facilities but most rooms were closed due to Covid-19. The same was true of the nearby Bing Crosby childhood home on the now quiet  Gonzaga University campus. Life as we know it has been frozen in time with only brief spurts of activity, like the wedding taking place in our hotel. There are pictures on the walls of lavish masquerade parties, while all of the hotel guests and wedding attendees are masked now. 

We’re five hours from Portland, where we’ll be reunited with our schnauzer Tally after ten days on the road. She’ll miss her doggy buddy, Falco, when she settles back into boring apartment life. I’m ready to get back in the home routine, although we’ll have visitors this week to break up the monotony. Day-trips to wine country and Astoria are on the agenda along with overnight guests for the weekend. With this in mind, the inflatable bed may get some use by my wife’s daughter and husband. We’ll see them again in a few weeks as we begin our cross-country journey to Florida. Overall, it will be a very busy August with stops in San Francisco, Cambria, Desert Springs, Tucson, Marfa, Austin, Mobile, Lake City, and Venice. I’ll be 69-years old and poorer by the time we cross the Florida line. Let the Journey of Life continue!

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