Today's thoughts

Category: CREATURE FEATURES (Page 1 of 32)

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

Retirement is not without Hassles: Be Our Guest #1685

Life was back to normal yesterday with the Cubs and Sox losing. We went to one of the community pools and spent some time talking to a neighbor we met at the block party last weekend. A child’s birthday party made it noisy and the water was discouraging chilly for being heated, but in my wife’s opinion not as cold as ours. I’m the only one that really gets in it for my morning swim to loosen up from the run. She’s not getting much use out of her pool toys, as the inflatable unicorn spent another lonely afternoon. Our schnauzer Tally will tolerate it as long as it’s not floating in the water. She did have a bit of a fit when the sand cranes showed up and started to strut around in the neighbors back yard pleading for food.

This morning Tally did not seem threatened by the kitty next door, as they peacefully coexisted in their separate lanai cages. My wife went back to bed after announcing she has a slight fever in reaction to the much anticipated second vaccine shot yesterday. We were up most of the night after the smoke alarms went off about 1:30a, three weeks after the first time they rudely awakened us (See Post #1666). They were all replaced by an electrician the next day, but at least this time I had a ladder and was able to remove the batteries and disable the power. Tally is still very upset about the ear piercing noise and electronic voice repeating “fire” that echoes throughout our empty house. I will get someone over here next week to uncover the annoying problem, as we continue to find issues with our new construction.

We are attending a 3rd birthday party this afternoon for my youngest granddaughter. It’s a tea party theme, so we bought her the Disney Beauty and the Beast serving tray on wheels. It features the Mrs. Potts bubbling teapot and a talking Lumiere. We’ll all sing “Be Our Guest” in addition to the birthday song to celebrate this special occasion. It will be the first time I’ve got to go to a grandchild’s birthday party, another benefit of our move to Florida.

“Be our guest! Be our guest!
Put our service to the test
Tie your napkin ’round your neck, cherie
And we’ll provide the rest.”

 

 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Hey Neighbor #1677

Last night was the neighborhood get-together and our first encounter with many of the folks on our block. We call ourselves the Borrego Bunch or Borregorians after our Borrego Street addresses. I’m surprised by the number of New Jersey settlers, since my understanding was that the East Coast people  migrated to the Atlantic side of Florida while the Midwesterners claimed the Gulf. There were at least three couples from Jersey, with New York, Wisconsin, and Minnesota also represented. No one else from Indiana or the West Coast. I think that fourteen homes on our block were in attendance as we simply gathered in a driveway and spilled out on the street. The majority retired – one single woman. Some walked and others arrived on golf carts. It was BYOB. Name tags might have been helpful.

I met some Ohio State fans, as well as Steeler, Red Sox, Patriots, and Viking supporters. Most are newcomers to Florida, and with many homes still under construction on our street there will be many more get-togethers in our first year. One couple lives in the spec home, so they would have been first to stake a claim, but most have put down roots here for just a few months at the most. This gives us an opportunity to meet people before they have established strong friendships. However, there are also several part-timers who have second homes elsewhere. They will come and go. 

It’s very different than living in an apartment where neighbors are heard more than seen. I wrote about this in Post #1345. There’s no more heavy feet above us, but an occasional intrusion of outdoor privacy. All of us now have screened-in lanais and some have backyard pools that are packed too close together.  You want to be friendly but respect your neighbor’s space. Besides this block party, our dogs introduce us to each other, so Dusty, Sherlock, Tito, and Zowie have already gotten to know our schnauzer Tally. She roams the backyard cage and keeps an eye out for intruders, whether they be human, insect, or animal. It’s the exact opposite of the confined lifestyle of an apartment, but we’ve yet to find comfort without our furniture. Hey Neighbor – can we borrow a chair?

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Marco Island #1672

We’re staying with friends on Marco Island for a few days. They came to visit us with initial plans of staying at our house, but without furniture this was not possible. As a result, we ended up at their temporary place, a Marriott Vacation Club. This morning I fought the humidity in a miserable attempt to run and ended up walking after two miles. It was one of my worst efforts in some time, with the feeling that my body was totally used up. I’ll know tomorrow if it was just a temporary set-back, or if I’m truly getting too old for this streak that now extends to 4,509 consecutive days. 

This getaway to Marco Island was a last minute miracle, considering that only a few days ago we had no options for someone to take care of our schnauzer Tally. My wife met a woman at our neighborhood dog park, looking for advice on a groomer. She directed us to a couple that owns eight schnauzers. As it turned out, they were excited to board Tally for a few days so we could get away. To make matters even better, Tally seemed equally excited to spend time with their dogs, even after the grooming. She ran right into their house when we dropped her off, in sharp contrast to her last few visits to the dog spa in Portland where she shook in fear. My wife was relieved to find a great option for Tally when we travel.

We arrived on the island yesterday afternoon and took a walk on the beach. I spotted a tent with the IU Hoosiers logo and met some folks from the Evansville area who owned condos in the adjoining property. It reminded me to monitor the NCAA soccer tournament match against Brooklyn St. Francis later in the afternoon. The Cream & Crimson advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the sixth straight year on penalty kicks.  Hopefully, they can continue on to win their ninth National Championship – next up Marquette. 

My wife finally got a good night’s sleep last night, as we both enjoyed the soft beds. It was also refreshing to stay some place with comfortable furniture to sit on. We have one more nights to relax with friends rather than squabble about what needs to be done in our new home. Hopefully, we’ll hear from the moving company this week about a potential delivery date for our stuff. Life is good on Marco Island!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Finish The Move #1670

Our black schnauzer Tally gets her first Florida haircut today after yesterday’s romp on the beach. Actually, it was one of our most disorganized, shortest excursions yet. The first thing that happened was I got stopped for speeding on the way there – 40 in a 30. The woman cop was very forgiving and let us off with a simple warning. Welcome to Venice! When we finally arrived at the parking lot we discovered that we left our beach (Fry) chairs back at the house, so it wasn’t really much of a Fry Day. Shaggy Tally was hot, searching for shade we couldn’t provide, so she laid under a towel. The spray can of suntan lotion also failed to work, so we had little UV protection, further reducing our interest in staying for long. Fortunately, with the top down we were at least able to get some sun on the way there and back. Tally got down on the floor and took advantage of the air conditioning. She’s not quite yet a Florida dog, but hopefully a shorter cut will help her deal with the heat. 

There was not much of a sunset at Fins last night with a low cloud cover spoiling the view. It was beautiful though looking out over the Gulf, after fighting for a parking spot.  Our friends were delayed by Friday afternoon traffic getting down I-75. I think they are appreciative of where they chose to live in Tucson where traffic jams are few. It was good to see them again after a full year of pandemic isolation. We were with them in Phoenix last March when everything shut down, including the Spring Training games we were supposed to attend. It was one of the last times that restaurants were fully open and masks were yet the fashion. Here in Florida, I’d say that probably only 25% of the people use them. We wore ours out of habit to enter the restaurant last night, but not at the table.

At the other extreme, back in Portland, where our furniture continues to sit, restaurants have once again been shut down. The contrast between the two states in Covid management is remarkable. The Florida economy appears to be vibrant, but perhaps the liberal mask policies and social distancing restrictions are too loose. Portland also continues to struggle with ugly protests and mayoral death threats as I see on my Facebook feeds. I hope someone is able to rescue our furniture before it somehow gets destroyed. I’m glad to be away from the chaos that threatens what was once a great city. We just need to finish the move!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Alarming #1666

There are just too many 6’s in today’s post – #1666- indicative of last night’s new home trauma. Sometime in the middle of the night, the smoke alarms went off, echoing throughout the walls of our empty rooms. With no furniture – trauma in and of itself – there was nothing to cushion to sound. Our schnauzer Tally ran for cover. I went to the electrical box hoping to find a switch to temporarily disable the detectors. The master bedroom circuit seemed like my best bet, but it didn’t do the job, as shrieks of sound and fire warnings continued to reverberate around me. Tally tried the front bedroom and waited by the front door for relief. The noise must have been overpowering for her sensitive ears. To make matters worse, my wife left her in the car for a few minutes this morning to pick-up the mail and the car alarm inexplicably went off. Poor pup! For me, it’s good to be partially deaf. 

I tried calling the 24-hour hotline for assistance, but the woman on duty insisted that it was not on her list of dire emergencies and we’d have to wait until morning. I pleaded that we couldn’t sleep and the dog was traumatized, but nothing could be done from her perspective. She suggested I call the fire department, but I did not want to dial 911. Of course, I got no answer. Under normal circumstances I would have gotten my ladder and climbed to the 12-foot heights where the detector was located and disabled the culprit. However, our ladder is packed away in a Portland warehouse still awaiting a delivery driver. I searched through all the warranty information that they left me, once again without a solution. The noise stopped for awhile – and then restarted. So, I called the hotline back. In the meantime, the shrieking stopped again but an annoying red light flashed across our bedroom ceiling. I thought I would never get back to sleep or get our pup calmed down. 

This morning I’m on the phone to electrical contractors and the builder trying to resolve the problem. At first, they indicated a two-week wait to get a service appointment, but are currently trying to find someone working in our neighborhood. Certainly, with homes going up all around us, someone will come to our aid. I still don’t understand why shutting off the power didn’t work – maybe they mislabeled the electrical panel? So here we sit helplessly in a new house, with no furniture, and flashing red lights. The alarm could come back on at any minute and no one would hear  our screams. It’s alarming!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Adjustment #1664

While I can certainly use an adjustment on my aching back, the biggest factor is getting used to a new way of life. We’ve come from a tiny Portland apartment crammed with furniture to a spacious home with none. The neighbors are actually further away but seem very close. It was rare when I ran into them each day in the halls and lobby, but now I actually see them out and about in their yards or garages. Some are open and friendly but most prefer to keep their distance. We each have our own routines and we’re now simply a disruption to their lives. Construction goes on around us but the neighborhood is relatively quiet, unlike the noisy hectic streets of Portland where our sleep was often interrupted with early morning garbage collection, busy restaurants, and busses. 

We took on the three grandkids yesterday – a major adjustment in our lives. It was an exhausting endeavor with each of us getting used to the other. We swam in our pool for awhile and then went to the warmer clubhouse setting. Noodles were flailed and warnings issued. We were the only family with kids, but fortunately the kiddos were mostly well behaved. My wife then took the soon to be 3-year old to the playground where she proceeded to show-off her daring self. Finally, it was pizza shared in our empty living room where even a chair is hard to find. We were more than ready for their dad to pick them up, so we could once again return to our peaceful existence. Our dog was kept locked in the bedroom, not quite ready to deal with the trio of new faces. 

It was another restless night, each of us with our aches and pains, trying to get used to a new bed and TV that somehow turned itself back on in the middle of the night. Everything is strange, but mostly the hollow echo of an empty house. Voices ricochet off the walls, plus it’s difficult to get comfortable. Hopefully, we’ll get a status update next week on our belongings – still stuck in the Portland warehouse. Today is be nice to Tally day, so maybe another trip to the dog beach is in order – anything to distract from the unsettling feelings of being separated from your stuff. Tally surely misses her chair to curl up in, the familiarity of the apartment, and the cozy feeling of rugs to stretch out on rather than cold, hard tile floors. All in all, our Florida lives are now just one big adjustment. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Stints and Stones #1659

Some might celebrate today as national Pot Day, but for us it’s twenty years of marriage. 20 years on the 20th – the only time this will ever happen – another reason to mark the occasion. The last month, however, has not been easy with packing, loading, closing  on a new house, kidney stone pain, driving 3,500 miles, and the most recent stress of not having our possessions.  The chandelier that we bought to honor our china anniversary is somewhere in a warehouse. The purchase was a far cry from our original plan of traveling to China. Only domestic excursions have been possible during this year-long pandemic. 

Here we are in Venice, Florida with a new bed after six restless nights of sleeping on the inflatable. My back feels better already. At least we’re done with hauling our bulky, heavy luggage and boxes in and out of hotel obstacle courses consisting of stairways, elevators, and parking valets. Portland, Ogden, Burlington and St. Louis were all overnight hotel stays, followed by five nights in Indy with my wife’s sister and her family from Indianapolis to Atlanta. This provided the opportunity to rest from out-patient surgery and the insertion of a stint. We also got a little more time to visit with friends since we weren’t rushing to beat the moving company. They have yet to find a plan to get our things to us – and we’re getting nervous. 

Tally watched me swim this morning. Hopefully, the drier, sunny weather will keep her feet from smelling like Frito’s Corn Chips (scientifically known as Brevibacterium) thanks to the dampness of seven years in Portland. All of us are done with long car rides and fast food stops, with plans to stay home as much as possible, despite the relatively empty living space. I wrote this poem as a tribute to our cross-country journey and twenty years of marriage that started with an impromptu date at Eddy’s restaurant. There were no sticks, stones, or broken bones – just stints and kidney stones. 

Stints and Stones

Twenty-years of marriage,
Went by in a snap.
But these last few weeks,
Have been full of crap.

Paperwork to sign,
Notary to hire.
The woman I love,
To further admire.

Boxing and loading,
Took its toll.
Venice, Florida,
Our retirement goal.

I got new shoes,
Packed by mistake.
And ear buds once lost.
As your back began to ache.

A chandelier not China,
Our anniversary treat.
Anxious to leave rain,
For sunshine and heat.

Little did we know,
That all that we own.
Would sit in Portland,
For how long? – unknown.

From kidney stones,
To our missing stuff.
Crossing the country,
Was more than rough.

Though not like the Donners,
We had Freddy’s to eat.
McDonald’s and Arby’s,
Tally’s Frito Feet.

She was a trooper,
Bored with the ride.
Anxious for stops,
And to go outside.

First night Ogden,
Second Burlington.
Where hospital visits
Had just begun.

Closing by mail,
But no close Chase.
Six-hour drive,
Open Kansas space.

St. Louis stairs,
Atlanta even more.
Cumbersome carryalls,
And baggage galore.

Missed out on Amanda,
But found some “green.”
As we checked out,
The Hot-lanta scene.

In-between surgery,
Debsie’s to heal.
Meeting with Susan,
MZD gals meal.

Cole’s 3rd birthday,
He meets his GUM.
Murphy’s tenderloin,
Tom gets me numb.

French Lick puzzle,
Stint for a stone.
A custom home,
Now ours to own.

Together with Peter,
Elliott and Berry.
Tally found this adventure,
To be quite scary.

From Nampa thru Tampa,
The Solara led the way.
Memories of Eddy’s,
That flashback in play.

Who would have guessed,
Where this would all lead?
As we picked up our “keys,”
And the Warranty Deed.

Happy 20th Sweetie Pie,
A kiss on the threshold.
I’ll love you forever,
It will never grow old!

Copyright 2021 johnstonwrites.com 

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: 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! 

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