Today's thoughts

Category: CREATURE FEATURES (Page 1 of 33)

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

Retirement is not without Hassles: Our New State #1755

I’m down to the last month of being in my sixties. I was sorting through some old pictures yesterday, starting with some baby photos. My mom and grandfather were both amateur photographers and I was their constant subject, so I must have hundreds of pictures. The question is what to do with them? Most have already been converted to videotape and DVD, but it’s still hard to just throw them out. I have to at least get them down to a manageable level and not leave them for family to eventually deal with once I’m gone. At this point, I don’t think it’s likely I will ever be famous and collectors will be clamoring over my images. I’ll spend the rest of this week going through them since they were sitting in the hot garage in danger of heat damage. 

It’s another Monday with a visit to the chiropractor the only item on my calendar. It was extremely hot and humid this morning – felt like 93 degrees. I was definitely overheated once I got back to the house, while the pool revived me. Running seems to get harder every day but somehow I keep going…one foot in front of the other in the early morning sunshine. I will be anxious for Friday when I’ll cut back to just a mile before our long drive to Amelia Island. Everyone I’ve talked to have stayed in a luxury resort on the beach, but we’ll settle for a Spring Hill Suites that is dog friendly. Tally would love to stay at the Ritz but they won’t have her. 

It should be slightly cooler five hours north of us and a welcome break from the routine. We’ll see some of the Jacksonville sights and meet the great niece twins. I haven’t spent much time in that area, maybe a pass-through or two, so it’s new territory to explore. We’re doing a good job of wandering Florida, with only the Keys yet to visit. We’ve covered Marco Island to the south, Miami, Orlando, and Pensacola. In the next few weeks we’ll also stay on the Tampa beachfront and enjoy a weekend at Singer Island, directly across the state from us on the Atlantic. Later this year, we’ll get to Titusville and the Kennedy Space Center. With most overseas travel prohibitive, we’ve spent our time getting to know our new state. 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Blood #1751

Days are passing quickly – a blink of the eye and I’m running again. What happened to all that time in between? I seem to be always looking down at my feet hit the pavement, wondering if it will ever end? Today, I give blood, but it will be the only thing that distinguishes it from yesterday. Tomorrow, we go to the ballpark and watch the rookies play for a little variety. However, run…swim…write…watch…sleep is the norm. As Yogi Berra is credited for saying, “it’s deja vu all over again.”

I have a pile of birthday and get well cards on my desk in anticipation of a busy month. I look at the calendar and find that I haven’t torn off a page in more than 10 days. They still pass by whether I rip them off or not. Somehow, the word of the day does not seem as appealing as nature photos or travel sites. I hope my financial advisor goes back to pictures next year. I don’t care about napery, ailurophile, melee, provender, reverie, pyrrhic, mare, sibyl, or amphibology. 

I just received a strange, hand-written letter from the local representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses, an indication that I’m now officially a Florida resident. At least, they’re not knocking on my door, so I’m thankful to live in a gated community. Ironically, it was signed by a guy named Brian. I find this funny considering that I watched a documentary on Monty Python yesterday that included a religious discussion about the movie, “Life of Brian.” He tells me I can find out more by going to JW.org. I’d rather go to a JW Marriott

Tally is back from the dog park and has already taken over my chair. A quick romp with the other dogs and she’s exhausted. I hate to kick her out, but we can’t both spend the afternoon in that chair. She enjoyed her first oyster last night after we put them on the grill. She also devoured a tiny crab that had crawled inside the shell, so her days seem to be filled with more excitement than mine. Strange new creatures to stimulate her curiosity and appetite, while the highlight of my day is to give blood.

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: “Getting Closer to my Home” #1750

I finished my run this morning all wobbly-legged like those competitors you see at the end of the Boston Marathon just before they collapse. It was eighty degrees and 100% humidity with a light mist. I thought to myself: it’s just a leisurely 5k not a frickin’ marathon. What are you …seventy years old? Just yesterday, I still had a lot in the tank for the last mile, but today was a different story. I thought a lot about a friend of mine anticipating prostate surgery, and how lucky I should feel to just have to worry about another day of running. 

There are many familiar markers along the route I take, including a pot hole at the half-mile mark, a Dodge Charger that sits in someone’s driveway, the utility box that sits at one mile, two benches that I think of as benchmarks, and the Venetian bridge at the half-way point. When I pass them all the second time I know “I’m getting closer to my home.” Sometimes, even Grand Funk comes up in the music rotation to perform that very song as I make my way back. I’m a sweaty mess when I finally make my way to the pool – this morning in a light rain. Schnauzer Tally sat under cover rather than perform her normal lifeguard duties.

Tally had a big day at the beach yesterday. We even shared a Chicago dog even though today is technically National Hot Dog Day. The entry to Broward Beach is a dog park with secure fences to protect us all from the alligators that lurk in the surrounding swamp. The exit leads to a wooden walkway and access to the sand. It’s one of two dog-friendly beaches in our area. Tally can sit in the shade of our umbrella or romp with the other dogs, even though many of them actually get in the water. She stays on the fringe area, avoiding the water at all costs, just as she jokingly performs her lifeguard responsibilities with me while swimming in our pool. There was a brief moment where she tried to follow me into warm Gulf, but a wave soon sent her scurrying back to safety. 

We were all tired from a day in the sun, even more reason to get in under the covers at the standard 10 p.m. self-imposed curfew. It’s well past the time when most of our neighbors roll up their sidewalks. There isn’t a bedroom light to be seen when I take Tally for her final outing. Back in Portland, I didn’t have to stay up late to watch sports, but here most games don’t even start until 8 or 9p. I usually check the scores before bed time but typically have to wait until morning for the final results. I uncharacteristically took my phone to bed and happened to check it after doing some reading. The Milwaukee Bucks were about to claim their first NBA title in 50 years, so I stayed up for the celebration, monitoring it on the small screen. At the same time, both the Sox and Cubs were pulling off miracle comebacks. It was the most remarkable half-hour of TV sports I’ve witnessed in a long time. The Cubs scored 6 runs in the ninth to stun the rival Cards, the Sox came back to beat the Twins, and Giannis scored 50 to claim the crown. It made for sweet dreams – Grand Funk!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Dog Days of Summer #1749

I spent most of yesterday in front of the TV, watching classic movies like Chinatown and The French Connection. I’ve seen both of them before but remembered very little – one of the benefits of getting old. My wife went antique shopping, leaving Tally and I to fend for ourselves. I even made my own lunch and used the microwave for the first time. Such a sense of accomplishment! Today, we have plans to go to the beach once I’ve finished my writing and Tally returns from the dog park. Tally needs to work on her tan. We’ll even make a stop at Dog Friendly for a gourmet Chicago dog at the main neighborhood recreational center and eat at the tables by the bocce courts. Tally likes a good dog, and gets a few bites for being a good girl. 

We’ve been checking out things to do with the grandkids. We took them to the Young Frankenstein musical the other night and my wife picked up some discount tickets to the upcoming circus. This week is my son’s 47th birthday and we’ve yet to make a plan around his work schedule. However, he and I are going to see the Braves vs. Rays rookie ball exhibition game on Friday. We all passed on going to this Wednesday’s Cool Today Stadium presentation of The Lion King (2019), since it wasn’t nearly as good as the original and not worth seeing again. This is part of their summer movie nights that will also soon show Tom & Jerry, as well as Jumanji – both worth the price of admission. Keeping busy in  this neighborhood is not difficult, but I still prefer those quiet days of air conditioned comfort here in my home office. 

Hotel arrangements have been made for Amelia Island, our next travel adventure at the end of the month. In the process, we’ll also be meeting my wife’s twin grand nieces in Jacksonville. It’s the beginning of an active month of August, with a Singer Island weekend, White Sox baseball, and my 70th birthday bash with Santana & Earth, Wind, and Fire. Tally gets groomed this Friday in anticipation of all these festivities, some of which she’ll be left behind. It’s the Dog Days of Summer and she needs to beat the heat with a shorter cut and some cool shade. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Activities #1740

It was an overcast morning, with a little relief from the heat. I live in a neighborhood without mature trees so shade is hard to find. My morning run is strictly asphalt and sidewalks with the half-way point being a Venetian bridge that spans the man-made canals that give our neighborhood some character. The Italian influences are numerous with even a night of homemade meatballs, sausage, pasta, and bread that we will participate in for the first time during the upcoming week. We were also at the Cafe Venice last night for dinner. There are times we you might even think you’re in Italy rather than Florida. 

My wife has a first time Yoga class this morning once she gets back from the Dog Park. This is where she got the scoop on Italian Night and met one of the volunteer chefs. We also made arrangements to join a couple of our new friends in the neighborhood. Their schnauzer, Sophie, and our Tally are good playmates. My wife has gotten lots of good advice from these folks including dog sitting, grooming, dining, and home improvement contacts. They have been a valuable resource in our relocation process. The Dog Park is a gold mine for neighborhood gossip and potential new  friendships. 

I passed on the opportunity to go to Toy Con in Tampa with my son’s family this morning. I did however make arrangements for him to join me for Rookie ball at the nearby Braves stadium and a trip to Tampa to see the White Sox. This will also be an opportunity to renew another old friendship dating back to my radio days in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I haven’t seen this WMEE-97FM buddy in fourteen years when we also got together for a White Sox game in Chicago. He’s also on my list or next year’s return trip to Bloomington for an IU Football game. We used to be co-season ticket owners for many years, so we’ll have a lot to catch up on. I will call him this afternoon to confirm the Sox game against the Rays later next month, since we’re now both retired Florida residents. 

While I was looking up dates for Braves Rookie ball, I also noticed that there was a concert planned for the neighborhood stadium. A Styxx/Journey cover band called Majesty of Rock will perform the night before I travel to Tampa for the ballgame reunion. The septuagenarian birthday month ahead is bustling with activities including the Santana/Earth Wind Fire concert also in Tampa. We also have plans to travel to Jacksonville and then Singer Island during this August celebration. August is Active with Activities!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Boredom #1739

It’s another non-weekend, a Saturday that was once special now just another day. Or should I say, everyday now feels like a Saturday? The only drawback of retirement that I can ever think of is having to give up weekends and holidays. Maybe we’ll make this one a Date Night? Like every day, it started with a dog outing, run and swim. Now, I’m in my happy place, surrounded by sports nostalgia and sitting at the keyboard with little to write about. 

I’m watching Big Shot on the Disney Channel, with little left that interests me on TV. I even went through the entire Bosch series again out of boredom. I miss the early game starts on the West Coast, while 8 or 9 p.m. is too late to start getting involved. In the evenings, my wife and I have been watching Loki, WandaVision, plus The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, also Disney productions in conjunction with Marvel. Yesterday, we did have a change in the routine with a late lunch with old friends in Punta Gorda at Fisherman’s Village. However, a couple of margaritas resulted in an afternoon nap. 

It’s another beautiful day in paradise, so it’s hard to feel sorry for any boredom I might feel. Tally just came back from her daily visit to the dog park and promptly took my office chair. It’s a game we play every day, vying for that comfortable spot in the corner of my little sanctuary. Chair Wars! I hate to kick her out, but she has a chair of her own. If she could only write.

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Three Little Pigs #1736

My wife, Tally our schnauzer, and I were like the “Three Little Pigs” yesterday, waiting for the Big Bad Wolf. The wolf was in hurricane clothing with a name about as threating as a Disney character – Elsa. However, we weren’t concerned about “Frozen” conditions but rather high winds and rain. At first it came in as a tropical storm but was later upgraded, with 70 mph gusts. It was our first hurricane experience but relatively uneventful. 

The Florida home we built is made of steel reinforced concrete blocks, tile roofing, and further protected with hurricane glass. It’s like a mini fortress designed to withstand winds up to 150 mph. I often thought of straw, sticks, and bricks and the story of the “Three Little Pigs,” during the construction process. We could not hear the curtain of rain that often went sideways or the gusts that bent and battered the trees. In fact, Tally slept through most of the storm and we never lost power. We watched WandaVision on the Disney Channel while Elsa did her thing. 

We had taken down anything hanging outdoors, moved some furniture to the garage, and removed any potential projectiles from the yard. We took every precaution for this our first storm. Today, we’ll move everything back in place until the next warning comes along and it “huffs and puffs to blow our house down.”

Retirement is not without Hassles: Milestone #1699

Tally got to spend time with her schnauzer brothers yesterday, returning home clean and well-groomed. She did not get to go to my oldest granddaughter’s birthday party because she still growls at little kids. This dates back to an incident years ago when a little girl screamed at her in fear – although unprovoked. Since that time, she been leery of little ones and has yet to befriend my youngest granddaughter. We end up locking her in the bedroom when she comes to visit. Hopefully, this behavior will eventually stop. Tally also growled at the sand cranes this morning, but they probably deserved it.

It’s time for another Indy 500 that I plan to watch this year from the comfort of my living room. I still recall all those years of getting up early on race day and fighting the traffic. During that timeframe, it was blacked out on TV, so as a result radio became my favorite way to follow the event. The race became the backdrop for home improvement projects like painting and building decks. Last year, the much anticipated start didn’t happen until August because of Covid, so the month of May was also not the same. In 2019 we were in Walla-Walla for the first time and in 2018 we were on our way to Oregon wine country while the race was underway. The early morning West Coast start never seemed to put me in front of the TV for the race, but the move to Florida has me back in sync with the traditional singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana” and the call to “Start Your Engines.”

This year’s Memorial Weekend project is more boxes to unpack and pictures to hang. Both cars are now back in the garage, as the “Box Score” nears ten. My wife planted her lanai garden yesterday, so things are really coming into shape. My son is due to come over so we can handle some of the heavier items that need to be organized. We did go to the fireworks last night, but the evening did not go as planned. There’s a meeting tonight to discuss our finances that we are clearly not in agreement about. She and Tally are at the dog park doing their morning routine while I wrap up this last post of the 1600s and move to number 1700, another milestone in this 5-year retirement blog.

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Carnic #1698

The “Box Score” is now down to a manageable fifteen. My car is back from the body shop, so I’m trying to make room for it in the garage, as we continue to unpack, organize, and hang. Dumpster dumping will resume again once it gets dark. Tonight are the Memorial Weekend fireworks at the neighborhood stadium. It will truly represent the land of the free and the home of the (Atlanta) Braves that will have limited seating capacity. We were unable to get tickets but our plan is to do a carnic in the parking lot of wine & fried chicken and watch the festivities from there, although the aerials will easily be visible from our home that’s about a mile away. 

A carnic, of course, is a picnic in the car. In my teen days it was known as “parking,” but my wife insists on packing a basket with food. We don’t even need to tailgate, just put the top down and watch the overhead fireworks show. Our schnauzer Tally will probably hide in the closet at home. It’s not a good night for dogs, but a favorite for my wife. (See Post #585). I’ve tried to keep a log of all our experiences with fireworks, but the last few years have seen cancellations due to forest fires and Covid, so Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyworld was our last recorded viewing about a year-and-a-half ago. It will be good to add our 46th explosive event to the list tonight. 

A special thanks to all those who serve our country and especially those those who have given their lives. It’s been a particularly tough year for law enforcement, so I will keep them in my thoughts this Memorial Weekend, as well – glad to have distanced myself from the nightly unrest in Portland. Personally,  I’ve done nothing but reap the benefits of freedom, as my charmed life has me now living the retirement dream in a new Florida home. However, I feel for those who are less fortunate. We kicked off the weekend with a sunset dinner at the Crow’s Nest last night and are looking  forward to tonight’s carnic. 

 


Creature Features : Yappy Hour #1696

I had a new experience last evening by participating in “Yappy Hour,” an evening ritual at the neighborhood dog park.  My wife and our schnauzer Tally had attended before, but this was my first. I would describe it as a bunch of old people who bring their own booze, sit on benches or lawn chairs, and watch their puppies intermingle. The young pups are always very active, one persistently chasing a frisbee, but the older dogs like Tally who’s now over eleven take a more cautious approach. I was amazed that another schnauzer named Cody was nearly Tally’s twin – same age, size, and black coloring. However, Tally now has a lot of gray in her beard that was purposely thinned out recently by her new groomer. By the time we arrived in Venice, after the long, grueling car trip, it was gnarled and crusty, with long overdue need for attention. Also, Tally still has her full tail while Cody has just a stub and is a male. Otherwise, it’s hard to tell them apart. 

The dog park is the epicenter of what’s happening in our Islandwalk neighborhood. My wife comes home every morning with new gossip about people I’ve yet to meet and places we’ve yet to go. This morning she brought Tally home and turned right around and headed to a water aerobics class. She’s getting into the social life, while I stubbornly resist too much effort. She’s already planning to host the second of our neighborhood block parties in our lanai, a step up from the driveway getaway a month ago. We met a number of residents along with their dogs, but I constantly have to refer to my cheat sheet to refresh my memory. Starting new friendships is an exhausting process, similar to what Tally is going through at the dog park. 

The frisbee chasing Sophie seems to be her best friend. Her doggie mom, Kathleen, has been very helpful in directing us to a groomer and dog sitter. I foresee a get together of spouses soon, as her husband is also a Cubs fan. I will let me wife direct our friendships, since in the past she’s always been forced into mine. I had built-in friends of 50-years when we moved to Portland, while my wife had her daughter and a few work acquaintances. We’ve never had mutual neighborhood friends, but “Yappy Hour” seems to be the first step. 

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