Today's thoughts

Category: CREATURE FEATURES (Page 1 of 35)

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

Creature Features: Time to Rally Tally #1850

It’s another “Tourist Thursday” with a trip to the Sarasota Orchid Show. We try to do something each week to learn more about our new Florida surroundings. It also helps us plan what our guests might enjoy when they visit us. This week, in fact, several once-a-year events are going on including art shows in Venice and on nearby St. Armand’s Island. We’ve also made plans for the upcoming Venice Wine Feast and will also make some stops in Tampa when we go to pick up our next guest at the airport next week. It’s all an attempt to keep my energetic wife happy and busy. 

She’s at the dog park with our schnauzer Tally right now before it rains. Tally is not as active as many of the younger pups but she likes to sit up on a bench and at least watch them romp. As I run by every morning, she barely makes an attempt to acknowledge me. Sometimes I’ll clap my hands and she’ll run away, hoping that the “big dog” gate is open so she can chase me. At least, that’s what my wife claims so I don’t feel bad about the lack of attention. She’s clearly Tally’s favorite, while I’m just an occasional outing and treat source. I take her out first thing every morning, just before dinner, and before we all retire for the night. Otherwise, she could care less about my presence. 

We never know where Tally is going to sleep every night. She has two beds and two favorite chairs or will plop down on our silk couch pillows when they happen to be out for the benefit of guests. She will not get in the bed as long as I am around, but anymore it’s too much of a jump for her aging legs to make the leap anyways. Tally will be 13 in two months, the same age as my oldest granddaughter, but many times still acts like a puppy. We know that she probably only has a few more years with us, so the desire for a companion dog is growing in my wife’s mind. As much as we plan to travel, I feel that we don’t need additional dog sitting charges, let alone the responsibility.

After going to the dog park twice yesterday, including an evening visit for “Yappy Hour,” Tally seemed more than content in her living room bed. It’s the fancy Ginger Bed  she uses when there’s a need to guard the patio sliding doors from intruders. She can also be near us when we’re watching TV in the evening. Many times we’re not sure if she’s tired or just bored, however the double play day surely made it more difficult to get up for her final outing with me. I clapped my hands several times to get her attention with little reaction. Even “Ham Time” didn’t work. Finally, I asked for “Tally to Rally.” She slowly climbed out of her nest, shook her dog tags, and stretched before I had her full attention. It’s my  newest call to action…”Time to Rally Tally!”

Creature Features: Golf Cart Treats #1824

Tally’s day started with an expected treat from a guy in a golf cart. I was about 15 minutes behind schedule, so apparently he drives by almost every day after his gym workout. He stopped and asked if Tally was friendly then offered a treat. I thought it was a fun surprise from her new friend Paul. It goes to prove that just a few minutes change in the routine can make a complete difference in the day. After Tally had her second treat after being a good girl outside, she cuddled up next to her new stuffed elephant and started the long wait until “Mom” takes her to the dog park. In the meantime, I do my daily run as dozens of now familiar dogs pass by on their way to the park. 

It’s the same familiar faces at the dog park every morning and a few of them wave as I run past. My wife and I are on different routes but she will join them all soon, so her car will be missing when I arrive home in a sweat. As I walked in the door, I could tell that Tally was excited that “Mom” was finally up  because she had drug the elephant down the hallway to the garage door. I could almost see her shaking the poor creature in her teeth in anticipation of getting in the car. It must seem like hours to her between that first morning outing and the drive to the park, but the elephant keeps her company. 

Tally spent five days away from this routine last week but went to Schnauzerville or Schnauzerland for care while we were out of town. She apparently has a boyfriend named Jax that also comes for grooming and she enjoyed being around the six, new-born schnauzer puppies. At Camp Schnauzerville there are at times 18 of the same breed playing in the back yard and dog beds laid out all over the house. It’s total chaos at first glance, but Bob & Carol have done this for years, breeding, grooming and boarding schnauzers just like Tally in their home. We were lucky to find them. I doubt she misses us much in this special puppy environment and is often tired and/or depressed when we get back. Then, she’s stuck alone with the elephant and other stuffed toys until the next trip to the dog park when she’s reunited with her friends. There’s always now the dog treat golf cart to look forward to seeing in the mornings, like the ice cream truck when we were kids. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Into The Swing of Things #1814

I did my first yard work in nearly two years this morning, trimming around a tree in front of our house. The HOA is supposed to take care of this but their work is many times spotty. We’ve had a pile of dead branches sitting out by the roadside awaiting pick-up for several weeks now. With all the work we’ve had done on the driveway expansion, the lawn is looking very shoddy with lots of brown, especially around the edges where the sod hasn’t yet settled. I see many of my neighbors working outside, so now they know that I, too, care about the look of our yard even though I’ve yet to own a shovel. In fact, I did my edging with a pair of scissors. 

Tally continues to disrupt our morning routine. Yesterday, it was an upset stomach, the contents of which ended up on my office carpeting. This morning at the dog park she found the odor of a dead snake appealing and rolled in the grass around it, collecting bugs and stink in her fur. My wife dragged her home and gave her a bath in our utility sink. She’s now trying to get up on my chair but I shooed her outside to dry off. Fortunately, we had moved her grooming appointment from yesterday to next week.

It’s “Football Sunday” with our fantasy team once again in action. I plan to join Tally on the lanai to watch the games this afternoon before my evening  Pickle Ball match. It’s the first time I’ll be taking advantage of an HOA activity, having reserved a court near the clubhouse. I have been inside for meetings but haven’t used the fitness facility, joined any clubs, or gone to any game watches since we moved in five months ago. I have at least gone swimming in the pool with my grandkids. Friends are in town for the month, so they intend to teach us the game of Pickle Ball, enjoy a swim in our pool, and join us for dinner. We’re starting to get “into the swing of things” here in our retirement resort community. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Reminder #1813

Tally got very sick last night. I’m not sure which end it came out – maybe both? It was obviously the brisket that we brought home for her from Darrell’s BBQ. Maybe too rich for a puppy but certainly delicious from our perspective. I had the pulled pork and we topped it off with banana pudding. All those things didn’t settle very well this morning when I blindly stepped in a cold pile of Tally’s retching that squished between my toes. It was not a pleasant wake-up call and threw me off my exercise schedule. When I should have been running, I was using Spot Shot and paper towels on the office carpeting. As a result, I shortened day #4654 to slightly over a mile. 

I continue to experience some pain and stiffness in my right hip. It seems to be more muscular than skeletal, but picking up a couple of cases of water at Costco yesterday certainly didn’t help. I needed a day “off” after 8-straight 5k mornings of discomfort. I’ve struggled this month with only 68.5 miles in 25 hot, humid days. When is it ever going to cool off? My wife is headed to her Aqua Fit class while I plan an afternoon of college football. IU does not play until later this evening, so I’ll have trouble staying awake to watch it after a dinner at The Sand Trip with some neighbors. Tomorrow is my very first Pickle Ball match.

We continue to fight the hassles of claim forms. We’re still trying to get resolution on furniture damage from the move, travel insurance on our cancelled Tahoe trip, a deductible refund on an auto accident, and warranty issues on our house. This coupled with cell phone transfer problems, health insurance paperwork, a bank loan, and an upcoming trip to Pittsburg have kept me busy on the computer and phone. As I continue to deal with life’s day-to-day ups and downs, I’m reminded that retirement is not without hassles!


Retirement is not without Hassles: Moving is never Easy #1810

Our activities schedule is heating up with only a week to go before we head to Pittsburgh. It will be good to go anywhere, despite the Spirit Flight and Fairfield accommodations. Only dogs and grandchildren keep us from the luxury hotels and high-end restaurants, while Pittsburgh is hardly a dream destination. I’ve only driven through so I’ll hold my opinions until after the experience. The kids will certainly enjoy the railroad inclines, museums, river walks, and parks. Before we go, we have at least two more dinners with friends and perhaps a first-time Pickle Ball encounter. 

I continue to watch Josh Gates’ Expedition Unknown while waiting on further episodes of Ali, Nine Perfect Strangers, and Only Murders in the Building. The White Sox lost again yesterday afternoon, but Hoosier Soccer was victorious over Northwestern. The Cubs were also losers again but I’ve lost interest. They were initially the whole reason for the Pittsburg trip and we’ll see them against the Pirates as their miserable season finally comes to an end. It will at least be another ballpark to cross off my bucket list. Tally will get to spend a few nights with her schnauzer buddies while we’re gone. Our last night will be in Tampa, so maybe I can treat my wife to a nice dinner and hotel without the rest of my family. 

My wife is completing the last of her “Welcome To Medicare” preventative exams today, but my schedule is relatively free. I was hoping for some sunshine by the pool but instead it’s overcast and spitting rain. At least it’s not raining hard enough to prevent Tally from going to the dog park for her daily romp. In the meantime, we await responses from the furniture repair company and our former apartment landlord on compensation for damages incurred in the move from Portland to Florida. Neither has been very cooperative with timely answers in resolving the final hassles of relocating. I’ll try contacting them again today. It’s been six months – Moving is never easy. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Junk #1803

Another day of nothing to do but what I want to do. I can bang on my drum all day if I so desire. I can sit here in my office or on the new patio furniture out back or go back to bed for that matter. I do have an appointment at the chiropractor on my busy schedule, but otherwise the day is clear. It might be a good afternoon to go to the beach with no rain in the forecast until later tonight. We had quite the gully-washer last night, as has been the case most evenings this past week. Poor Tally, our schnauzer, has been a mess from all the lightening and thunder. She has even hidden in the closet where it is quiet and dark. Sometimes we just move her bed in there. 

Tally also has a preference for my office chair. With only one window, it’s in another interior room sheltered from outside disturbances.  She feels safe, but we’re always fighting for that chair. I use it to watch TV, but anytime I abandon it, even for just for a few minutes, she’s back in it, curled up on the blanket that we use to protect the soft, suede material. It’s a better look than the plastic covering that you find in other old people’s homes. 

I’m nearly finished sorting baseball cards, a project perfectly suited for retirement. There’s still some work to do on personal photos, but otherwise my stuff is in order. I sometimes worry about the mess I might leave behind for others if I don’t get everything properly organized. There’s not much value in all of this to anyone but myself, so now is the time to enjoy it – sorting is very therapeutic, just like writing. It will probably all just get thrown away in the end – one man’s treasure is another man’s junk. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Senility at Seventy? #1786

Was it a Senior moment to start my 70th year? I must have checked those Santana tickets a thousand times since they hit my mail box back in March -seventeen  months ago. The concert was originally scheduled for August 29, 2020 but the tour was pushed back a year due to the dreaded Covid. It seemed like a long time to hold on to my money that was initially spent on 2020 Spring Training tickets back in 2019. I was issued credits for the cancellation, but there were no events to use them for, particularly in the Northwest. With our move to Florida, I saw this concert and used the credits before they expired. Then, I got notice that it was again moved to the 27th. A perfect way to celebrate my 70th birthday, so I thought!

We booked a room in Tampa and made arrangements for Tally to stay at “Schnauzerville.” On the drive up to Tampa yesterday we stopped at the Ringling Art Museum. My wife drove so I could return birthday calls and texts. In the words of Santana, “Everything was Coming our way,” as even McDonald’s extended its breakfast hours to make us Egg McMuffins and Hash Browns. Then, a rainstorm came through, making the remainder of the drive challenging as we crossed the Bay bridges into downtown Tampa. We checked into the Westin (a Marriott property of course) where I got the Happy Birthday song from the front desk and extra treats for the room. I returned more phone calls and tried to answer Facebook outpourings. We soon enjoyed an early dinner of oysters and sushi at Jackson’s overlooking the marina as the skies began to clear. A free slice of chocolate cake with candles finished off the meal with a flourish.

It was a twenty minute drive to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater for the show. I had a parking pass and there was oddly no traffic. When I asked the toothless attendant where to park, he told us there was no show scheduled. I looked at our tickets in shock to find that the date was for 2022! Another year to wait, if the aging band members are still capable – or me, for that matter! I guess I now know what I’m doing for my 71st – a re-do! Had senility finally hit me? On the other hand, I’ve never held a ticket for anything more than a year in advance. These are interesting times we live in. Tickets I paid for nearly two years ago will not be fulfilled for yet another year. We went to the Hard Rock Casino, across the street, instead and lost a couple hundred bucks – so much for Birthday luck. A disappointing but certainly memorable day!


Retirement is not without Hassles: Day One #1785

It’s not saying much, but the first run of my seventies was faster than the last run of my sixties.  Today was 4,625 straight days without missing a single run. If all goes well this next decade, I will hit the 5,000, 6,000, and 7,000 consecutive day marks. If not, I’ll be doing something else to try and stay fit. I could feel some aches and pains in my knees, so I continued to switch sides of the road and surface types to lessen the impact. The sun was out this morning and the humidity level back at 100 percent, so I didn’t get any wetter jumping in the pool when I finished the 5k course. Now, it’s time to pack my bags for Tampa.

It was not a routine morning, since we dropped off Tally in “Schnauzerland” last evening. I actually missed taking her out last night and first thing this morning. She’ll spend two days with 18 other pups, including five that are just a week old. I got to hold their tiny little black bodies in my arms, as Tally ran off to join her friends. She’ll be groomed tomorrow before we pick her up. I’ll spend most of today  responding to birthday well-wishers on Facebook and talking to friends on the phone while we make the drive north. We intend to stop by the Ringling Art Museum, taking advantage of our new membership, on the way there, have lunch, and check into the Westin Waterfront before we head to the concert. 

I’m keeping it short this morning, with little news to report other than Day One of my seventies. Hopefully, every decade of life will continue to get better as has been my fortunate experience. The decade should be filled with world travel, friends, and family. The goal is to stay healthy, while daily running has been the best medicine so far. Word puzzles, movies, TV, collecting, sports, and writing round out my days. Here’s to Day One!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Countdown to Seventy #1780

Elements of our overhead lighting will be installed this afternoon, including kitchen counter canisters and the dining room chandelier that we brought with us from Portland. It actually turned out to be our 20th wedding anniversary gift, as part of the move to Florida. Yesterday, we made good use of our new location with a trip to the beach about 20 minutes away. Tally had to stay home this time with the temperatures still in the nineties. The heat is a constant drain on my energy, but the Gulf breezes are revitalizing. As I sit in the sun, it’s as if my cells are recharging.

Tonight is the stadium concert, Majesty of Rock, taking  us back to our 70s musical roots. They will perform the songs of Styx and Journey while we sing along. Hopefully, it won’t storm like it has most evenings this week. It’s part of the countdown to my 70th birthday in just six days, culminating with a night in Tampa with Santana and Earth, Wind, Fire. Thankfully, the funeral for my ex-step-mother-in-law has been cancelled. One of the family members has tested positive for Covid, so I’m glad that my son doesn’t have to make the long drive back to Indiana. He’ll be able to join me now for the Fantasy Football draft that he got me involved in doing. At least, it’s a visit to Buffalo Wild Wings, a place I used to call home. I will once again enjoy their wings and a beer. 

Tomorrow morning, my son and I will make the drive to Tampa for the White Sox vs. Rays game. I’m also reuniting with a friend from my WMEE radio days back in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. We haven’t been to a Sox game together since May of 2007, fourteen years ago. We also were joint season ticket holders for IU football for many years, but that ended over 20 years ago. He moved to Tampa several years ago when the opportunity presented itself to do his radio production work from home. It will be good to see him again, reminiscing about radio, softball, and sports, while spending the day with my son. The Countdown to 70 continues…..



Retirement is not without Hassles: Ring Ring #1775

I’ve screwed up Matinee Monday with a mid-afternoon Leadership Zoom, although we are back home from our Singer Island retreat and somewhat back to a routine schedule. We do have our cleaning crew that will also disrupt a typical Monday, so we’ll do some Costco shopping to stay out of their way. Everything has been put back in the lanai since Fred has veered off course and Grace also appears to no longer be a Florida issue. Henri (ahn-REE) has yet to show its ugly face.

I met a fellow runner this morning, a guy that I’ve seen in the neighborhood on several occasions but never stopped to talk with until a few hours ago. His name is Chuck and he’s run 15 Boston Marathons, so obviously much more accomplished than me. He also runs faster and mixes up his exercise routine with some biking. As a longtime Naples resident and head of their running club, I’m sure he knows fellow streaker Samuel F. Johnston, who just surpassed 16,000 consecutive days (43.98 years) and is ranked #14 in the world. Another Neapolitan, John King will soon hit the 5,000 day mark, also ahead of my 4,614 achievement. At least 11 other Floridians are ahead of me in this OCD “race” with no finish line. 

Tally was back at the dog park this morning after a weekend with her schnauzer brethren. We picked her up last night from the sitter to return to her seemingly boring life with us after the exhaustion of playing with at least seven other dogs for three straight days. At eleven years old, she’s no longer a puppy but acts like one is the company of fuzzy companionship. 

I installed a Ring doorbell last evening. Nothing is easy for me any more with my shaky hands. I thought I lost a screw that supposedly fell in a plant pot but after fruitlessly digging through the soil discovered that it had simply adhered to a magnet. I also had trouble attaching the tiny wires and stripping them properly, so the chimes are not properly set-up. It was two hours of frustration that should have taken fifteen minutes. Ring…Ring…not yet.

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