Today's thoughts

Category: CREATURE FEATURES (Page 1 of 30)

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

Creature Features: Vineyard Dogs #1614

Blue sky today – great for a drive into Oregon wine country – maybe the last time in awhile. The goal was to pick-up the final shipment from Coeur de Terre, our very first club membership, a discovery made early in our Oregon state residency. We met the owners and winemaker on our very first visit, and have been loyal customers ever since, having stopped by over 80 different places during the last seven years. We landed here in Portland on August 11, 2014 and stayed at the same Residence Inn where we’ll spend our final night here before the long drive to Florida. 

The first stop on today’s tour was McDonald’s where we just missed the breakfast deadline and had to settle for cheeseburgers and fish sandwiches. Our schnauzer Tally was thrilled to be out of the house and in the drive-thru regardless of what they were serving. We then stopped at a former work friend’s property to see the progress on their remodeling and construction plans. I miss our once-weekly lunch meetings that were lost in the pandemic panic. Tally got to see some of the neighbors chickens, cows, and horses. Once we finally got to our wine tasting appointment, she also got to hang out with the vineyard dogs.

On our way back home, we made an additional vineyard stop, but Tally had to wait in the car. She did, however, get to visit with some of the neighboring goats and, as it turned out, saw two friendly faces. Oddly enough, when we arrived, I didn’t recognize them even after they gave us a friendly hello because they were wearing masks and sunglasses. We did not have an appointment, but fortunately the guy behind us gave us his tasting spot, so we were able to stay. To thank him for the friendly gesture, we gifted him with a bottle we had purchased at Coeur de Terre. He and his wife both went to school in Evansville, Indiana so this started a good conversation. In the meantime, the other couple had removed their disguises, and we finally figured out that they had lived down the hall from us up until a few months ago. They were glad to see Tally, who would often sneak into their apartment like she lived there.  It was truly a surprise encounter, that happened after too many coincidental circumstances to even mention, with people we thought we’d never see again. 

A nasty highway accident delayed our trip home by more than an hour, but we were content with just reflecting on the enjoyment in simply getting  out of the apartment. Our day in wine country was certainly more thrilling than sitting around watching television. Plus, we came home with about ten more bottles, even after giving one away. The strangest things happen when you’re drinking wine, so it turned out to be a memorable adventure for all of us. Tally slept the whole way home, exhausted from her duties as an apprentice vineyard dog

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Sunshine and Cheers #1608

The sun is actually shining for the first time since Florida, a rare treat here in the Northwest. We call them “sun breaks,” those rare moments when they happen. People flock outside to see this wonder of nature. This morning it stayed out for the full hour I was breathing the fresh air. The rest of the day will be spent near my home office desk, with a couple of dog walks and dinner preparation. There’s not much on the calendar this week except a drive into wine country on Sunday with a forecast that promises partly sunny. 

We concluded the Bridgerton series last night and watched the first half of the movie Chaplin after dinner. Little by little we’re finishing off half-empty bottles and cleaning out the food pantry in preparation for the cross-country move. I’ll soon be removing the pictures on the walls and patching any damage. My wife is also carefully organizing all the essential items we’ll carry in the car, including our dog Tally’s bed and care items. It will be the longest “ride in the car” she’s ever experienced. After a few days, I’m sure the thrill will wear off. She’s already done the route from Portland through Colorado but with her former travel companion Tinker. Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida will all be solo adventures for her. Her total states visited will be 18 by the time we get to our new home, surpassing the well-traveled Tinker.

We’ll finish off Chaplin tonight after I prepare dinner, once again cleaning out some freezer items. My wife continues meatless while I still have some frozen steaks left to finish. I will have to learn how to prepare fish, if I’m to once again cook for both of us, as was my once-a-week retirement pledge. We’ll have to completely restock once we settle in the sunshine. We’re also down to less than 25 bottles of wine after some planned replenishment this weekend – our final membership pick-up. A few of the best bottles will travel with us in the car, but most will be enjoyed or given away in the remaining weeks. Sunshine and Cheers!

Retirement is not without Hassles: BIG Dogs #1595

The last few days have started with two wild and crazy dogs, as Tally’s doggy niece Falco is visiting. There are nine years difference in their ages but Tally always revisits puppyhood in her presence. They are also much braver as a pair, barking in tandem at every other dog in the neighborhood. Falco is always impatient to go outside once I get up, accustomed to living with a younger, working couple used to getting up earlier. I have to alter my routine to accommodate her demands, so push-ups and sit ups have to wait until she’s done her duty. Then, finally, I get a peaceful hour of running, free from any dog responsibilities. This makes my morning trek more of something to look forward to rather than regret. 

As taking care of two dogs takes extra time, so did yesterday’s I.U. basketball overtime victory. They squeaked by a marginal Northwestern team after what looked like certain disaster. The team was getting heavy criticism about a 2-9 record following wins over rated teams, a sure sign of letting down. The surprising home and away upsets over #8 Iowa last weekend had them only slightly favored over the Wildcats yesterday, who had lost nine straight games, so certainly the Hoosiers weren’t underestimating the importance of this road game. Also, Northwestern had already beaten them in December at Assembly Hall. It took double overtime to seal the victory, after Indiana struggled for most of the game, only leading for a total of 14-seconds in regulation and at one point falling 14-points behind, including six straight missed free throws. I.U. didn’t score in the first five-and-a-half minutes and only had seven points in the first thirteen, limping into halftime with a controversial twenty-points after a replay ruled that time had not expired on a fast shot clock violation. 

In games this season, the anemic first half offense has not clicked with only 19 against Texas in the opener and 21 versus Maryland. Without the favorable replay, this would have been the lowest output of the year. The reversal also accounted for Trayce Jackson Davis’ only points in the first half. Plus, just like the Iowa game, I was constantly on the edge of my seat after so many failed opportunities to close out the game.  It took a career scoring high 24-points from Armaan Franklin, a critical three from just out of the doghouse Jerome Hunter, and a 7-0 personal run by Al Durham, including critical free throws, to stop the 2-9 bleeding. 

The edge of the chair awaits again this weekend with a visit to #4 Ohio State. We’ve got to find a way to score, cut down on turnovers, and hit some free throws to have a chance. These are the three factors that have plagued us all season. Two straight victories is the longest streak the Hoosiers have been able to manage this season, with only six match-ups left to play. Covid has prevented road games against both Michigan and Michigan State, but both teams come to Bloomington before this year is over. I still think we’ll be fortunate to go 3-3 in this final stretch for a mediocre 9-9 conference record, as I’ve predicted from the start. I also foresee more Overtime nail-biters in my future. The once dominant Cream & Crimson are going to the BIG dogs!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Cold #1593

I was listening to the song “Cold” on the radio this morning, wondering about the artist. I had to finish my run to Google the answer: Chris Singleton. It seemed appropriate considering the chance of snow in the Portland forecast and a winter fog lingering in the air. As I learned yesterday on my Word of the Day calendar, I was experiencing a pogonip. All I could dream of was next year at this time living in Florida. Despite the chill, running has been very rewarding this week with the discovery of a quarter and two dimes on the downtown streets, nearly enough to buy a stamp. Today, #4426, was fruitless, not even a penny.

I have a bunch of paperwork and a credit card form to fill out for North American Van Lines. They were the winner of the moving lottery, over two other competitors for the honor of moving our stuff across the country. It’s a pricy ordeal, more expensive than buying my first tiny house. The only things they won’t move are our dog Tally, the liquor supply, perishables, and household cleaners. We’re doing our best to finish off these items, especially the wine. Tally will ride with us in our remaining car as we stop to stop friends and family on the 3,000-plus mile journey. Hopefully, it will be the last of cold weather that we will see for awhile.

I’ve already booked dog friendly hotels in Ogden, Utah and Burlington, Colorado for early April. We’ll spend the first night after the move here in Portland, at the Residence Inn where we lived the first couple weeks of our first days in the city. We don’t know how long the loading process will take that day, so we’ll start driving East the next morning. Several days will be spent in Indiana at about the half-way point of our journey. Tally will get to visit with her dog cousins while we’re there. From the point, we’ll head South through Atlanta. We’ll have to time our drive to coordinate with the moving truck’s ultimate arrival at our new Venice, Florida home to supervise the unloading process. 

Instead of cooking tonight, I’ll be heating up leftovers. We continue to try to conserve on expenses, knowing there will be plenty of them once we get to Florida. Plantation shutters, custom built-ins, wine replenishment, bar stools, guest bed, pool chairs, and lighting will be the move-in spending priorities. We’ll need to get set-up quickly in anticipation of visitors, also seeking warm weather. In the meantime, it looks like the possibility of snow during the week ahead. Burrrrrr! It’s Cold!

Retirement is not without Hassles: B.O.A.C. #1570

British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) was the British state-owned airline created in 1939 by the merger of Imperial Airways and British Airways Ltd. It was time to look that up on Wikipedia after landing in Miami and recalling the lyrics of Back in the U.S.S.R by The Beatles, “flew into Miami Beach BOAC.” Why I never before had that curiosity before, I simply can’t explain? We spent our first night in the city under the protection of Mother Marriott at the airport after renting a Buick Encore SUV. It took me back to years of owning Buicks thanks to my advertising client Lochmandy Motors in my hometown of Elkhart, Indiana. I hadn’t thought of Brian Lochmandy in years or the Skylark and Regals he sold me.  I remember that I always wanted a Riviera, but the job led me to another city and another client relationship. Eventually, I got company cars, a perk of being in management. 

When we moved to Austin ten years ago I didn’t even have a car, using my wife’s Lexus sedan on occasion. We soon settled on a used Solara Convertible as a second vehicle once I found a suitable job, and my wife upgraded to a Lexus convertible. We’ve already transported that car to Florida, housed in my son’s garage, and will make a similar cross-country drive in the Solara in a few months. Once we arrive in Florida with that car and schnauzer Tally, it will mean that we are permanent residents. Tally had to stay home with her pet sitter on this particular trip that will take us to our Venice construction site and back to Miami for a restful week on South Beach. 

It was actually American Airlines not B.O.A.C. that took us from Portland, through Dallas, into Miami. I can’t seem to get that song out of my mind. 

“Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC
Didn’t get to bed last night
On the way the paper bag was on my knee
Man, I had an awful flight”

“I’m back in the U.S.S.R.
You don’t know how lucky you are, boy
Back in the U.S.S.R.”

“Been away so long I hardly knew the place
Gee, it’s good to be back home
Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case
Honey, disconnect the phone”

“I’m back in the U.S.S.R.
You don’t know how lucky you are, boy
Back in the U.S.
Back in the U.S.
Back in the U.S.S.R.”

We’re still planning to tour of what’s left of the U.S.S.R. in six months via river cruise. That is if Corona doesn’t once again get in the way, as it has with Bali, Egypt, Hawaii, and St. Kitt’s. At least thankfully Florida is still open to tourism.  

Retirement is not without Hassles: Drowned Rat #1566

I came in from my run this morning looking like a drowned rat. The rain was coming down and the wind was blowing in my face. I tried to dodge the puddles but the passing cars sprayed me with muddy water. It was day #4398 of The Streak and I’m glad to now be sitting in warmth. Next week I’ll be complaining about the Florida heat. Our schnauzer Tally was not happy about the rain either and stalled before getting out of bed. She ran away from me as soon as I tried to put on her coat and took the shortest route possible to do her business. The only thing tolerable about wet weather for her is to be thoroughly toweled-off afterwards. 

I got two new tires yesterday as further preparation for our upcoming cross-country drive to our new house. There was a slow leak in the front right that was easily patched, but I decided to look out for our overall safety. The back two tires were previously replaced, so only and an oil change/tune-up remains to be done before March. That’s when we expect Florida construction to be completed. We’re all looking forward to getting out of this rain when we go down to check on it next week. It will be two much anticipated weeks of sun and surf.

We caught up on the latest episodes of Your Honor and Shameless yesterday. and I watched The Tide Roll over the Buckeyes for the National Title. My entire focus will now be on basketball starting with the Indiana vs. Purdue match-up Thursday night. Tomorrow evening we agreed to go to a friend’s house for dinner. It’s the first time we’ve dined out for months and the first time in ten months that we’ve broken bread with anyone other than family.  Once we get to Florida, the restaurants will be open and we’ll not be cooking. It’s my turn to prepare tonight’s meal. Hopefully, I will have dried out by then with only faint memories of the splash I made this morning, running like a drowned rat!

Creature Features: Gastro Delight #1550

Our schnauzer Tally isn’t the garbage hound that her sister Tinker used to be. There was never a crumb to be found when Tinker ruled the house. Dropped scraps of food were often gone before they ever hit the floor. Tally is polite around the dinner table and gently accepts any offerings, whereas Tinker might very well have taken your fingers off. With all our dogs through the years, “Ham Time” continues to be a tradition with a bedtime snack of honey glazed ham or healthier turkey slices. (See Post #699). Gastro Delight!

The one drawback with Tally is often her breath. She got into something outside last night that made her repulsive. It’s often hard in the dark to see what she grabs, especially while wearing a mask that makes my glasses fog up. I tried some Crest toothpaste as a desperate resort. Nevertheless, she was not allowed to sit anywhere near us. I even wore my mask indoors this morning to give her a “Tummy Attack,” (See Post #648) while avoiding that furry, foul mouth. 

She can also be adorable, using her eyes to hypnotize us into giving her more attention or food. We call it pet-nosis. (See Post #1440). It makes us give her things against our better judgement. I wrote this poem a few days ago when she was in favor and not so stinky:

Gastro Delight 

She nibbles on kibbles,
And packs in the snacks.
Or rolls on her back,
For tummy attacks.

Her lips make a smack,
At the thought of a treat.
And wants a sample,
Of every bite we eat.

The ears perk up,
Those eyes grow big.
She makes a few grunts,
Like a hungry pig.

But she doesn’t get up,
Just waits to be served.
Whatever you give her,
Is greatly deserved.

Then she will bug you,
To go on her stroll.
With eyes that beg,
As black as coal.

In the afternoon,
She sits on a chair.
Wanting a walk,
Again with a stare.

Once she gets home,
Walks through the door.
Kibble ball nuggets,
Roll over the floor.

They crunch under foot,
With each step we take.
Or hurt our bare toes,
While still not awake.

She’s no Hoover,
Crumbs not her thing.
She’d rather have,
The entire chicken wing.

At the dinner table,
She sits closely by.
And uses pet-nosis,
It’s hard to deny.

Patiently waiting,
For food on our plate.
Then a wag of her tail,
Tells us “It’s Great!”

A chew every morning.
“Ham Time” each night.
Our schnauzer Tally.
Is a gastro delight.

copyright 2020 johnstonwrites.com

Retirement is not without Hassles: Christmas Star #1549

My wife’s Christmas Limoges this year is in honor of our upcoming move to Florida. It’s a miniature picnic basket with plates inside and is topped with a porcelain Starfish. It’s perfect for a romantic lunch on the beach or filled with burgers, fries, and a pup-cup for our schnauzer, Tally, from nearby Freddys. Our new home will be near Casey Key and the grandkids. Here’s wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Christmas Star

This star is not,
On the Christmas tree.
It comes this year,
From the sea.

Florida or bust,
Our move is soon.
We’ll next be singing,
A Sunny tune.

We’ll have our picnic,
Near Casey Key.
As soon as we,
Are Covid free.

A basket full,
Of tasty eats.
While Tally gets,
Some doggie treats.

We’ll fill our plates,
And raise a toast.
To our new house,
On the Gulf Coast.

Or we’ll stay home,
Enjoy the pool.
While the grandkids,
Are off at school.

White sand beaches,
Bright blue skies.
Where we can feast,
On Freddy’s fries.

We’ll travel again,
Beyond the Keys.
And in retirement,
Do as we please.

I hope you get,
Every Christmas wish.
But our star this year,
Is really a fish.

Copyright 2020 johnstonwrites.com

Retirement is not without Hassles: Puddles #1544

I was out splashing in the puddles this morning, as high water covered the sidewalks and pathways of my run. It was also dark as I started, as we approach the shortest day of the year. I threw everything into the dryer of a neighboring vacant apartment, since we’re still waiting for the repair of ours. I’m glad some people are still busy. Our schnauzer, Tally, hates the rain but loves to be toweled off, so she reluctantly agreed to go outside. For my wife and I, today is Christmas having invested a small fortune in a beef tenderloin that we’re sharing with her daughter and husband before we unwrap presents. The dogs will get their share of beef and gifts, as well. A festive table has been set.

This will be the first time that my wife has strayed from her meatless diet for months. After all, it is a special occasion. She claims to feel better by abstaining, so I wonder how she’ll find the taste? The rest of us will undoubtedly find it to be wonderful! Only 11 days left until the end of a troublesome 2020. We’ve yet to determine what we’ll do to celebrate. I’ll be glad to get into a new tax year, so we can cash in some more of our retirement savings to pay off mounting credit card bills and finalize funding of our new Florida home. There’s been no indication of whether or not they’re on schedule for completion. I’m still working out closing details. 

I sent a first copy of my latest novel attempt, Tribulations and Trial, to a friend for some feedback. In the meantime, I’ll continue to add details to the story. If nothing else, it’s been a constructive way to spend all this alone time. Writing anything for me is always therapeutic and rewarding, regardless of any readership appeal. I sit here in the warmth of my home office, watching the puddles form on the rooftops next door, while putting words on pages. Other friends around the country are seeing snowfall at this time of year, but I would rather deal with puddles.   

Retirement is not without Hassles: Bond Revisted #1531

I could have been waking up to the sounds of waves crashing against the beach, but instead it’s the roar of leaf blowers as they clean the downtown streets of Portland. The good news is that it’s a Monday and I’m not working and haven’t for nearly four years. Retirement has definitely made these viral times easier to tolerate, but the inability to travel has taken away one of its greatest joys. I could have crossed off Bali, Egypt, and Kauai on my bucket list. Will this continue through 2021? At least, we will be able to get to the Florida beaches once we’re settled there permanently in the Spring. 

We hope to get all the paperwork finalized this week to secure financing approval. It’s been a long process selecting the site, picking the options we want, and working with the mortgage company. We anticipate closing in less than two months and moving there in three. There should be some more pictures from our project manager coming soon, with maybe a few more walls and the start of a roof. It certainly gives us something to look forward to, when there’s little to do around our apartment these days. 

We visited my wife’s daughter yesterday, delivered a birthday gift to her husband, and took their dog Falco for a walk. They were supposed to join us in Kauai this week along with her other daughter and husband. Going for a short drive like this is about as exciting as it gets. Our schnauzer Tally also needs a break from her routine and it gives the two pups a chance to romp together. Tally loves to ride in the car, or just get out the door for that matter. We’re all suffering from cabin fever after about 90 days of going nowhere but on a run, walk, or to the grocery store. I did get Christmas presents ordered for the grandkids last night and the cards are ready to go out.  

The eleventh and final season of Shameless starts streaming today. I also found free access to many of the James Bond movies that I want to watch. Apparently, with Sean Connery’s recent death they are now available. Last week, I sat through License to Kill (#17 1989), Doctor No (#1 1962), From Russia with Love (#2 1963), and Goldfinger (#3 1964). I want to revisit all 24 of them on my list that started with A View to Kill (#15 1985), Goldeneye (#18 1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (#19 1987), and Die Another Day (#21 2002). (See Post #888) It will be a busy week getting through all of these 007 classics. Bond…James Bond, not to mention Honey Rider portrayed by Ursula Andress. 

 

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