Today's thoughts

Category: CREATURE FEATURES (Page 1 of 29)

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

Creature Features: Dog and Frog #1511

This is a children’s poem based on our schnauzer, Tally, and a recent encounter with a tiny, harmless thumbnail frog. She actually bit it in half, but this would not have been an appropriate story to tell to an impressionable kid. As a result, I made up a less controversial ending. The dog and the frog are having a conversation in rhyme with the dog speaking in red

Leap of Friendship

This is the story,
Of the dawdling dog,
Who came nose-to-nose,
With a flirtatious frog.

“I like to pause,”
And smell the roses,
And tell me this:
Do frogs have noses?”

“I got a whiff,
Of you, my friend.”
“And with that breath,
You might offend.”

“You stink good, too,
A lot like a fish.
Finding a pal,
Fulfills my wish.”

“A dog and frog,
It makes some sense.
Based on scents.”

“You fear my bark,
Stay out of reach.
I can’t get much closer,
I’m on a leash.”

“You’ve got no Master,
To pull your chain.”
But your croak is a joke,
And my teeth cause pain.”

“You’ve always been,
A puppy dog,
But I was once,
A polliwog.”

“And once had a tail,
Just like you.
Then out of nowhere,
These legs grew.”

“I couldn’t hop,
Once had to swim.
I’m a she,
Are you a him?”

“Well, I can shake,
And even fetch.
I also learned,
To play some catch.”

“But there’s something,
Tickling my nose.
It’s a nuisance,
I suppose.

“I can quickly,
Snatch that fly.
My tongue is quick,
So Say goodbye.”

“You can run fast,
Since you’re a dog.
But you can’t out-swim,
Or out-leap a frog.”

“I’m amphibious,
While you’re grounded.
Why you’re attracted,
Leaves me astounded.”

“Frogs are cool,
Despite no hair.
Your eyes bug out,
When you stare.”

Do you have lips?
Or should we just shake?
Then you can leap,
Back in the lake.

“Though we’re different,
We’ll still be friends.
This story Ends.

copyright 2020



Creature Features: Oscar #1507

Our schnauzer, Tally, had a brief bark-off with the neighbor’s dog, Oscar, this morning, creating a disturbance in our apartment building. The sounds tend to echo off the hallway walls to make the noise much worse. Oscar is a big black Labrador puppy that is harmless – as is Tally for that matter, so these encounters are nothing but harmless territorial squabbles. However, timing is everything and it’s amazing how we typically come out of our doorways at exactly the same time. Otherwise, I rarely see any of my neighbors – only hear them, as I’m sure they also hear Tally’s barking.

We know when our upstairs neighbor does their vacuuming, goes to the toilet, and walks to the kitchen. I’m sure those below us know our habits, as well. The floors are thinner than the walls because we rarely hear anything next door. We’re at least on the end of the hallway, but should have also selected an apartment on the top floor. These are key considerations when living in a residential building. Only three to four months before our Florida home is completed, depending on delays. Hopefully, hurricane Eta has not disrupted construction. We’re counting the days.

I feel sorry for big dogs in small apartments. Lack of space is not so bad for little Tally, but both dogs are not used to regular companionship. They get excited when they see each other, but I will have to watch our timing. It’s out every morning at 7:30 a.m., with last call at 10 p.m, plus 11, 3, and 6 in-between. Our neighbor must need to be at work by 8 a.m., and I certainly don’t want any doggy disturbance complaints. Tally may not get free-reign in the mornings to romp down the hallway, although she does often dawdles, particularly in front of Oscar’s door. Occasionally, I can hear some growls on the other side.

Oscar is not as bad as Moose, the Saint Bernard that recently moved out. Tally is about the size of Moose’s head but still refused to be intimidated. Moose and Tally were on the exact same schedule every day for the first year that we lived here. If we took the stairs, there was Moose. If we chose to ride in the elevator, out would pop Moose’s gigantic head and Tally would go crazy. If we were in the nearby park, there was Moose. Fortunately, they found a house, so Moose now has a backyard to explore, while our apartment lobby is now much quieter. 

Tally is off to the beauty parlor this morning, while poor Oscar is stuck inside. I don’t think he gets out of jail until after work. I’ve yet to run into them in the evening, but need to show caution around every corner. There are several other dogs in the building, including Mary Sue, a pit bull mutt, that draws a growl or two from Tally when they come nose-to-nose. The neighbor downstairs has a playful Golden puppy that Tally seems to like. Grace, as she’s called, is a little aggressive with her impressive vertical leaps and big paws. There’s also a few new-to-the-building pups that we’ve yet to meet, but right now Oscar is Tally’s biggest nemesis. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Election Day #1498

It’s Election Day and the contractors are busy putting up extra plywood over windows in downtown Portland. I’ve only been doing this blog for a little over three years, so this is the first Presidential race in my daily ramblings. I do not expect a decision tonight, especially considering all the early voting and the cumbersome tabulation responsibilities, but I do expect Joe Biden to jump out to an early lead. Whether he holds it or not will be the question. Thankfully, I do not have the hassle of voting today, having cast my ballot several weeks ago by mail. I will do nothing more today than sit back and watch the results come in. The Dow Index is reacting favorably, my biggest concern in this whole process. 

I’m slowly adapting to the time change, shifting darkness from morning to evening. Our schnauzer Tally is still confused, expecting walks and dinner an hour earlier. I’ve simply started Happy Hour at 4 p.m. Tonight, we’re “Meals on Wheels,” with my wife preparing dinner for her healing daughter. Tally will also get to romp with her doggy-niece, Falco, so it will not be a typical stay-at-home-and-do-nothing kind of day. We’ll walk the pups, do some light chores, and talk about Kauai – now only 5-weeks away. 

We started watching Queen’s Gambit last night on Netflix, while waiting for another episode of Fargo to air. This is all part of a normal, boring day of television viewing. We did walk over to Kitchen Kaboodle yesterday afternoon to provide some variety, taking advantage of neighborhood convenience. They were closed, but still in business, unlike some of the empty storefronts we saw. Everyone was wearing a mask and traffic was heavy. Walking to the shops and restaurants were why we originally moved to this area, but all has been disrupted by Covid. I’m looking forward to getting this election behind us and moving to Florida. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Paradise #1487

I’m feeling that glow of satisfaction following this morning’s run #4,317. It’s more than just the miles – it’s that Friday feeling! The day itself doesn’t mean much any more, but years of work always made it special. This has yet to go away after four-years of retirement. There’s an energy in the air from those who sense the end of another week and a weekend of job freedom. It’s their brief sense of retirement that sometimes stretches to three-days off or even a two-week vacation. I can recall standing in the shower before the workday began and wishing I just had ten days off. That thought still comes to mind out of habit, then I remind myself that I do have ten-days off – even more! It’s like pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. 

What will I do with today? I’ll watch the end of the Mars series on Netflix, game 3 of the World Series, get dinner to go, walk the dog, drink some wine, and end the day with another episode of Fargo. Certainly nothing eventful or world-changing. Those headed to work would relish a day like this, that’s simply routine for me. There will be little interaction with anyone with the exception of my wife, who will be in the other room experiencing her own little world. She misses travel more than I do and is wrapped up in past year episodes of The Amazing Race. We’ll get together in the kitchen for lunch and dinner, but it’s like the old days where we each went our separate ways to the office. Now, we’re just down the hall from each other. 

Tally gets excited for her long walks with my wife every morning and afternoon. Our 11-year old pup is also known as “Barky von Schnauzer.” She can’t help but snarl at other dogs and disturbing noises. It’s an annoying habit, but she’s only trying to be protective. It’s amazing how fierce small dogs can be, with little fear for anything bigger. Fortunately, it’s all bark and no bite in her noisy attempts to get attention. Once her “enemy” gets nose-to-nose or nose-to-butt, it’s like they’re lifetime pals anxious to play. I know she gets lonely, especially since her sister Tinker passed away a year ago. She often gets together with Falco, our daughter’s terrier-mix, to expend some energy. 

Daily life will be very different for all of us once we get to Florida in the spring. We’ll have access to swimming pools, pickle ball, the beach, exercise classes, and a nearby dog park to keep us all busy. There will be more interaction with our neighbors with more sunshine to absorb. We’ll also have twice the square footage to spread out from each other, and a lanai for Tally to get plenty of fresh air or bark at passers-by. Construction has started, while a phone meeting with our project manager is scheduled for next week. Paradise is now just five-months and 2,500 miles away. It will be here before we know it. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Boredom #1467

A late start on writing today with a mid-morning commitment to picking grapes. The crop did not flourish this year due to heat and smoke, so the output was somewhat disappointing. It was still a step-up from last year’s lost  harvest due to heavy rain and mold. I did get my ritualistic run in prior to the drive to my friend’s hobby vineyard in Tualatin, but having access to only one car came to haunt us. My wife’s daughter, struggling with rehab on her broken leg, needed my wife’s help while I had our car miles away. She ended up calling an Uber. I arrived a couple of hours later to take care of Tally’s afternoon walk. This was the second time in the past month that we’ve both needed a car on the same day. Our second vehicle in parked in Florida, waiting for our eventual move. 

The was no baseball to watch today, while college football has already lost its appeal. The BIG 10 and Pac 12 teams don’t start until the end of the month, as Alabama and Clemson continue to dominate the national ratings. I still have to wait two months for college basketball to start. It seems like forever since March Madness was canceled due to Coronavirus, although it’s really only been six months, as that term is now rarely used in favor of simply Covid. Even Cam Newton and The President have now caught the bug. 

I did gather with a number of “strangers” today, straying outside our normal social bubble. We were outdoors able to practice social distancing while wearing masks. Our job was to cut the grapes off the vine, strip off any weeds, and feed them into a machine that separated the stems. The juices will sit for about ten days before we crush, strain and store them in a wooden cask to ferment. I’m currently drinking the 2017 vintage, and picked up a case of 2018 as compensation for my hard work. It’s interesting to be involved in the process from picking to drinking, without the tough responsibilities of growing, maintaining, and managing. It’s a risk-reward business, as I commiserate with the professional growers about the lack of plump, juicy grapes in 2020. Supplies will be limited at higher prices. It will be a game of quality vs. quantity. 

I scheduled a flu vaccine for next week and will need to get a haircut. Sadly, these are the only things on my to-do calendar. Boredom persists! We would have been flying to Egypt this weekend, but the Nile river cruise was cancelled. Travel, dining out, gathering with friends, and movies continue to no longer be routine luxuries. Retirement has become a stay-at-home, uneventful pattern of simply trying to stay healthy.  Running and dog walking are typically the only times I leave the comfort of my home office for the great outdoors. There would be little to look forward to without our plans to build in Florida. Initial steps should be underway already. Otherwise, BOREDOM.


Retirement is not without Hassles: Monopoly Mutt #1464

My wife was out walking our schnauzer, Tally, the other day, when I guy on a skateboard went out of his way to say hi. “Your dog reminds me of my favorite Monopoly piece,” he remarked. She didn’t have the heart to tell him that the Monopoly dog is actually a Scottish Terrier, but there is a resemblance. It gave her a bit of a chuckle, even though her first thought was that he was going to rob her. Thankfully, first impressions are often wrong. My fancy Monopoly set that I bought years ago on a whim, was then coincidentally one of the conversations that I had with our moving estimator yesterday. The mahogany board with a swivel base, gold hotels, silver houses, and built-in cash drawers reminded me of our Monopoly Mutt. 

With a lack of space in our two-bedroom apartment, we have stuff crammed in every nook and cranny. The Monopoly set is currently stored under our bed, along with dozens of framed pictures. It all needed to be accounted for in our estimate, and served as a reminder of how daunting and expensive this cross-country move will be. There will apparently be two days of packing, another to load, and a week or more to get it to Florida.  At this point, we don’t know exactly when it will all take place, pending construction on the new house. Plus, we’re trying to work in a cruise from Barcelona, Spain, once we get everything somewhat organized. This trip is at the mercy of Covid restrictions that have cancelled most of our other travel plans. It’s much more pleasant to look forward to the cruise than the stressful move.

The Moving Company rep interrupted my day of baseball, that turned out to be a major league disappointment.  Both the Cubs and Sox are now facing elimination today. In addition, the Twins lost their record 18th consecutive playoff game, after surpassing the Sox for the American League Central division championship in the final days of the regular season. The Indians also sneaked by the Sox in the standings, once the Cubs took two of three from their faltering Chicago rival to claim the top spot in National League Central. It will take much more than lucky socks to assure that today is not the end of the (Red) line for both of my Chicago teams. 

One of the punishments in the game of Monopoly is drawing a card that states, “do not pass GO and do not collect $200.” It was the only card that I was dealt yesterday, hoping that someone unexpected wins this season of Covid challenges. I naturally found myself rooting against the perennial favorites like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Cardinals, but they were all winners, while my teams are beginning to go “bankrupt.” By this evening, I will know the fate of the Cubs and Sox in their quests to somehow pass GO. Maybe my newly-dubbed Monopoly Mutt has the answer?


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.  



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