Today's thoughts

Category: Tinker (Page 1 of 14)

Our first schnauzer

Creature Features: Yummy Tummy #1440

When our schnauzer Tinker was alive, she always seemed to inspire a poem. Her younger sister Tally all too often got upstaged. Now that she’s an only dog, I thought it only fair to write some words to describe our all-black pup who is often just a dark shadow in photos (unless she poses on a white rug). Tally rarely pays attention to me, but every once in a while she rolls on her back expecting a Tummy Attack!

Yummy Tummy  

We have a pup,
Who likes attention.
All you have to do,
Is subtly mention.

Would you like,
A Tummy Attack?
She’ll roll over,
On her back.

Her paws in the air,
To urge your hand.
Exposing her belly,
To something grand.

“Please don’t stop,”
You can hear her plea.
The smile on her lips,
Expressing glee.

“A little lower,
And to the right.
You can keep rubbing,
All through the night.”

And when she’s hungry,
There’s more magic rhyme.
“Yummy Tummy,”
It’s dinner time.

Backwards, Upside down,
Then comes the look.
She’s got you,
On the Hook.

She’s a black bandit,                                                                        For scraps or Ham Time.                                                              But stealing your heart,                                                                Is her biggest crime.

Those eyes meet yours,
It’s clearly Pet-nosis.
Tally gets what she wants,
She’s Puppy Precocious.

Copyright 2020 johnstonwrites.com

Retirement is not without Hassles: House Guests #1406

We’re lucky to have house guests for the weekend. My wife’s daughter and husband have come for a visit. I feel bad that we don’t have more space to accommodate them, having moved from our house into an apartment. They would have had the entire upstairs and total privacy. Instead, they have an inflatable bed crammed in my office. I’m writing from the living room coffee table this morning and feeding the parking meter out front to allow them garage space. These are both minor disruptions in the world of retirement. We’re glad to have the company in these pandemic times of isolation.

We relieved the stay-at-home boredom yesterday by driving to the quaint Oregon Coast city of Manzanita to meet some friends for wine and food. It was like an extension of our long drive to Glacier National Park along winding scenic, forest roads. After a couple of quick views of the Pacific Ocean and a bite to eat in Cannon Beach, we were soon back home. For some reason, Tally our schnauzer had no interest in being near the roaring waves. We still had a few more preparation duties to take care of in anticipation of our soon to arrive guests. 

Today would normally be a “Leadership” luncheon, but nothing is normal these days. Next week we’ll return to that Friday tradition. Tonight, we’ll grill outside at my wife’s other daughter’s nearby home. It will be the first time that we’ve all gotten together since their wedding 10 months ago, just before the world shifted and spun out of control. At that time, our schnauzer Tinker was still alive and their pup Falco had yet to be adopted. Now, Tally is best friends with Falco, so the patter of little feet will add to the reunion atmosphere. We might even see our fancy grill in action, since they are not allowed in our apartment building. It’s being stored at their house. Someday soon, it will be the focal point of our Florida outdoor kitchen. 

Construction should start soon on this Florida house that will once again allow comfort and privacy for house guests. We’re not anticipating any overnight company in the remaining 6-months of our apartment lease. Most are discouraged by the lack of space and inflatable bed, but family is forgiving. However, they would not be staying here if it weren’t for the fact that the other sister’s house is under construction. They picked the lesser of two evils, and we’re doing our best to be good hosts. My wife loves house guests, especially those tolerant of our limited amenities. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Shut-Ins #1374

This is probably one of the most uneventful Fourth of July weekends I could remember. In fact, I checked my diary dating back for 20 years to find that we always had something going on this weekend. For the first 10-years of our marriage, while still living in the Midwest, we were usually with my wife’s mother watching their home town fireworks. That all changed when we moved to Austin, Texas and I started temporarily working in the retail business. One Fourth of July weekend was all work and no play. We did at least see the fireworks at Zilker Park and Auditorium Shores.

The following year, 2011, we went to a wedding in my home town, the last time my family was all together for an event. Three years later both my parents died just after we moved to Portland. In that time span, there was one very memorable Fourth on the beach in Port Aransas, Texas. Tinker was scared to death of the fireworks in the sky above us. The last Fourth with my wife’s mother was four years ago in Indianapolis. Portland was just too far away to run back to Indiana, so we explored Oregon, including a hike and picnic at Punch Bowl Falls and a fabulous weekend at Crater Lake. 

My wife’s mom passed 14 months ago. This ended all trips back to Indiana and allowed for last year’s Fourth at Canada’s Butchart Gardens. Both Tinker and Tally were relieved that there were few outbursts of fireworks once we crossed the border. It was Tinker’s best and last Fourth of July, including an All-American hot dog in the peaceful garden setting. She was a princess in her special stroller and got lots of attention from passers-by. Tally got to smell the flowers in the dog-friendly grounds. Unfortunately, it was their last together. 

Last night, Tally did have company for the noisy night. My wife’s grand-dog Falco stayed with us because the neighborhood where she lives is much louder than ours. In fact, she’d been medicated for days and reluctant to even go outside. On their final outing last night both dogs were freaked out. Falco refused to pee, after not touching her food or water for days. It was quiet once we got back inside, so both dogs slept undisturbed. However, it took a longer walk this morning to get either of them to do their business. We did have our traditional chicken legs and potato salad dinner, while I drank a bit too much wine. Sadly, in these pandemic times, there was little else to do but watch Yellowstone, for me a repeat. For the first time in our marriage, we were stay-at-home Fourth of July shut-ins. 

Creature Features: Shaggy #1331

Everyone in our household is getting a little shaggy. At least, Tally our fuzzy schnauzer gets groomed today. She’s been growing her mustache for three months now in these pandemic times. The spa that we took he to for years, Urban Fauna, has sadly closed its doors for good. We’re taking her this afternoon to Coats and Tails, just down the block. Provided they do a good job, we’ll at least have convenience on our side. Hopefully, Supercuts will reopen soon and I can get rid of my shaggy appearance. 

One of our favorite neighborhood taverns is the Blue Moon. My wife is drawn by their mini-corn dogs called Scooby-Snacks. They’ve been a welcome to-go choice over the past month, after they were closed during the initial stages of the virus. I’ve written about Scooby-Doo recently (See Post #1310), but failed to mention his lazy cartoon companion, Shaggy. As described by Wikipedia, “Shaggy Rogers has a characteristic speech pattern, marked by his frequent use of the filler word “like” and, when startled, his exclamations of “Zoinks!”. His nickname derives from the shaggy style of his sandy-blond hair. He also sports a rough goatee. His signature attire consists of a green v-neck T-shirt and maroon bell-bottom pants, both of which fit loosely.”

Both Scooby and Shaggy are readily bribed with Scooby Snacks due to their mutual large appetites, insisting that ‘being in a constant state of terror makes us constantly hungry!'” I guess they have a lot in common with our family, hoping the Blue Moon Scooby-Snacks can ease our terror of Coronavirus. Casey Kasem, of American Top 40 fame, was the original voice of Shaggy, while Don Messick was Scooby, while also voicing The Jetson’s Dog, Astro. “Ruh-Roh!”

Tally, of course, is a fan of snacks, too! She’s not particular, having enjoyed fortune cookies last night from our Chinese take-out order. They always throw in extras for her! It reminds me of one of my favorite poems that I wrote years ago and have adapted for today’s Creature Feature post:

 

Tally

We have a dog named Tally,

Eats everything in sight.

She wants a treat each morning,

Gets ham most every night.

.

She’s at my feet when dining,

Just waiting for her share.

I simply can’t ignore,

Her impatient stare.

.

When we take her on a walk,

Her nose is on the ground.

Searching every crack,

For a morsel to be found.

.

Ice cream is a favorite,

She licks it off the stick.

And if you want some for yourself,

You better eat it quick.

.

When we order Chinese,

Her tail begins to wag.

And she starts to whimper,

When she sees the bag.

.

She wants her Fortune cookie,

In no mood to chase her ball.

She’s been known to eat them,

Plastic wrapper and all.

.

On the morning after,

When I went to scoop.

You’ll never guess what I found?

A fortune in her poop.

Copyright 2009 johnstonwrites.com

The original was written for Tally’s sister, Tinker, that we lost five months ago at age 15. She was “The Poopingest Pup on the Planet.” (See Post #33). Tinker, although a schnauzer, reminded me of Disney’s Shaggy Dog. Tally, on the other hand, will no longer be shaggy after this afternoon.

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Change of Pace #1290

It looks like a good day to go for a drive. The sun is shining and gas prices are cheap. It’s at least a safe way to get out of the house and a change of pace. The last time I was in my car was over two weeks ago for a brief shopping excursion. My wife has driven hers once a week, primarily to take our dog, Tally, to visit her daughter’s dog, Falco. They don’t have to practice social distancing, and we keep apologizing to others that they just don’t understand, as they try to get too close. Our handshake & hug world has gone to the dogs. 

I did complete the 1,000-piece jig-saw puzzle my wife bought, my biggest accomplishment yet this month. I’m a little heavier and my hair a bit longer, but otherwise I’m doing fine as a pudgy, unkempt homebody. Funny, I always thought that was un-kept – see, I’m even still learning new tricks, despite being an old dog. I thoughtfully hear from my son and some friends on occasion, but still missing travel, dining out, and “Leadership Meetings.” We’re saving lots of pennies while losing big dollars in the Stock Market (down again this morning). I’m glad that we’re both retired and healthy during these “Dog Days” of isolation. 

HGTV is on in the background, as my wife continues to plan and dream of our Florida forever home. A TV is always on in this apartment, our primary source of entertainment these days. She uses the tub just behind my writing desk every morning with the television volume jacked-up while I try to concentrate. When we were living in our house six months ago, this was not an issue. It’s been an adjustment for both of us, between her retirement and the smaller space we now share. Once she’s done getting ready, I can change the channel while she retreats to the living room to watch Billions. I was disappointed that there wasn’t a new episode of Curse of Oak Island this week and Skinwalker Ranch and Below Deck were both pretty weak in maintaining my undivided attention. After dinner, we’re now watching Killing Eve together. She has trouble sleeping without the bedroom TV on, but at some point in the middle of the night, the timer shuts-off programming for a couple of quiet hours. All-in-all, we’re talking only 5 hours a day without at least one set blaring. Sadly, we’re TV junkies, a habit that began because of our careers in the business. 

There’s not much in the way of light-hearted events to write about during these dark days. I try to divide my posts into categories but there’s been little activity in reporting on sports or travel. Since the passing of Tinker, “the Poopingest Pup on the Planet,” Tally continues to mourn the loss of her older sister. She does like my cooking, especially last night’s pork chops, but Tinker’s appetite was legendary. Input equaled output. Tally’s life is relatively uneventful, and she has a tendency to avoid coming into my office. She’s clearly my wife’s fur baby that relishes their daily walks and “ham time.” I get the less-desirable early and late shifts when it comes to her outings. Furthermore, she is reluctantly forced to sleep next to me every night on “good bed,” precariously situated on the floor where I step-in and out of bed on far too many bladder emergencies. 

Without travel and grooming, we’ll save well over a thousand dollars these next few months in pet-sitting and spa-care expenses. Although she’s a bit shaggy, Tally has had my wife’s full attention, without the sad glares we get when packing bags. Like most dogs, she’s excited to have her humans stuck at home every day. She’ll also enjoy today’s “ride in the car.” In fact, it will be a nice change of pace for all of us, the closest thing to travel that we’ll experience for some time to come.   

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: “Doom and Gloom” #1249

In the words of the Rolling Stones, we’re living in troubled times:

“When all I hear is doom and gloom
And all is darkness in my room
Through the light your face I see
Baby take a chance
Baby won’t you dance with me”

My baby and I are dancin’ off to Phoenix, despite viral threats, stock market woes, earthquakes, and travel advisories. “The Show Must Go On,” although there are rumors that the upcoming Rolling Stones tour could fall victim to COVID-19, as has Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, South by SXSW, Coachella, and the Pearl Jam tour – just to name a few big events. Many of my friends decided not to join us in Arizona, so I’m feeling the risk of leaving home. However, I’m just getting over a terrible cold and the sunshine is what I need. I’ve been foolish before!

It’s Curse of Oak Island Day, following an evening of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad. I know what day it is only by the show I’m watching. It’s called boredom, that needs an occasional dose of travel. We have plans to be gone at least a week of every month this upcoming year. This of course is subject to the “doom and gloom” that surrounds us. Can you escape by living your life in a bubble? I’m already in the retirement bubble, enjoying the luxury of not reporting to the office every day. I’ve earned the right to be lazy when I want and adventurous when I’m not a couch potato. 

I fulfilled my cooking obligation last night with a dinner of duck and cream corn. It was simply a matter of baking our Hoosier-state-based Maple Farms favorite that we frequently have shipped. Even I can’t screw that up! I’ll get next week off from what is typically the most stressful thing I do in retirement. After all, I’ve managed to stay out of the kitchen most of my life, so it’s both foreign and intimidating. Wine helps take the edge off before, during, and after the preparation process. It pairs well with duck!

Today will be spent printing boarding passes and packing, along with a couple of follow-up visits with vets. Our schnauzer Tally has a heart murmur and has hopefully fought-off some parasites. Pet.Vet. Debt. She’ll spend the week with a new dog sitter here in the apartment, still adapting to being an only dog after the loss of Tinker a few months ago. She’s now surpassed me in age at 70 dog years, while age naturally leads to more medical bills. Tinker lived to be well over 100 and was a constant drain on the pocketbook. Since canines age faster than we do, seven years for every one of ours, they become a reality check on mortality. I would like to think that I have a lot more to look forward to than “doom and gloom!”

Retirement is not without Hassles: Hot Seat #1236

I’m convinced that my cold has worked its way into my hip joints, and wondered if this was a common occurrence? Research tells me that it’s called Transient synovitis. I could feel the transition as congestion moved slowly from my sinuses to lungs to stomach and eventually into the buttocks area. It seems to have aggravated the nerves and muscles in my right hip, causing stiffness and soreness. It’s taken some time the last few mornings to put any weight on my right leg, as I limp in a hunched-over manner from bed to bathroom. It’s making me feel my age! It eventually loosens up and allows me to run without too much difficulty, but then stiffens-back-up again from inactivity. Cushions and a heating pad eventually allow me to sit comfortably at my desk. I’m on the hot seat right now!

I’ll be spending my tax refund today, as if it hasn’t been already spent. A couple of credit cards will be the benefactor. It always feels good to get those balances down to zero, only to push them back up again. It’s been a life-long cycle, justified by reward points. Somehow a free night or two in a hotel seems more valuable than the interest I end up paying. I love to accumulate those points by making a major purchase and quickly paying it off. However, it doesn’t always work that smoothly. Credit card bills have all too often put me on the hot seat!

I continued my mafia education yesterday by watching the movie Casino. It was “free” on Starz since I recently renewed my subscription to watch the new season of Outlander. Cable and credit cards seem to have much in common, as the fees slowly creep-up over time. When we moved into this apartment, I eliminated most of the premium channels to save money. Now, it’s only $5 more a month for Starz, but before I know it, other impromptu add-ons will have me scrambling for a new deal. It’s the cable hot seat! Sadly, I probably saw Casino when it first came out in the theaters, but didn’t remember a single scene. It was at least an added bonus for buying Outlander.

I took my first solo streetcar adventure yesterday to go to the dentist. Normally, my wife is the route guide but she had to take our pup to the vet. Pet. Vet. Debt. (See Post #351). Our schnauzer has been diagnosed with a heart murmur on top of a parasite. Tally’s been such a low maintenance companion, especially compared to her older sister Tinker. Unfortunately, just like me, as the years add up, so do the medical bills. I’ve got to go back to the dentist for a crown, and should probably see a chiropractor for my aching back. However, Tally is eating up all the funds, so I’ll continue to sit on the Hot Seat!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Quiet and Bored #1227

It was another welcome routine run this morning, day #4,069 – same distance, same route, same time. It’s always easier when you don’t have to think about it. This opposed to getting up in a strange hotel room, trying to find your running clothes in the dark, and navigating an unfamiliar location. I tend to check my watch more and relax less when I’m traveling. It’s funny how the same distance seems so much longer some days. I enjoy getting it out of the way first thing in the morning, and settling in front of the keyboard. However, there isn’t as much to write about on a routine day, in contrast to new sights and sounds when I’m on an adventure. Boredom is often a welcome luxury.

Today, Falco, my step-daughter’s puppy, is visiting for the day. She dropped her off before I left for my run, giving our schnauzer Tally something to do before my wife got out of bed. Normally, Tally just goes back to sleep out of boredom. She spent last week with Falco and seemed a bit depressed from separation once we brought her back home. She’s also still getting over the loss of her long-time companion, Tinker. It’s fun to watch the much younger Falco and Tally romp through the halls of our apartment building. The energetic twosome breaks up the monotony of our quiet retirement life. 

My wife’s foot injury has healed and the weather is starting to cooperate, allowing her to spend more time outside. One of the reasons that we liked this neighborhood is the convenience of nearby retail shops, movie theaters, and restaurants. The other day she even hauled the cart that was partially responsible for her injury to the grocery store, carefully navigating it over the uneven sidewalks. I too have to be aware of these potential hazards when I run, in addition to the downtown traffic. So far, I’ve only tripped once, resulting in only a skinned-up knee. I’m lucky it wasn’t worse!

I’ll continue watching the Washington mini-series on the History Channel in an attempt to prevent my retired mind from going to waste. There’s been too much science fiction and not enough educational balance in my T.V. diet. I miss the Ken Burns’ documentaries that always seem to satisfy my cravings for knowledge. They are also promoting an upcoming series on U.S. Grant that peaked my interest. I do still enjoy Curse of Oak Island, but another season is coming to a close, and they never seem to find much of anything. There’s really nothing at the movies that has captured my attention, but Call of The Wild starts later this week. We also need to see Parasite that received so much acclaim, but I’m not excited about the subtitles. My reading has been limited to bedtime, but I have been chipping away at a history of the American Mafia – Inside Al Capone’s Empire that my wife bought to enhance our recent visit to the Las Vegas Mob Museum. It’s sometimes good to be quiet and bored. 

 

 

 

Creature Features: Pet Orientation #1193

Our schnauzer pup Tally is slowly getting oriented to being an “only child.” She had always had Tinker to keep her company, as well as other siblings before we adopted her just before her first birthday. Her 10th is a week away and we need a plan to celebrate. Since Tinker passed away a month and a half ago, Tally has spent 15 days with pet sitters, 2 days at the dog spa, and a week with her niece Falco as a playmate. We’re trying to keep her from being lonely, but you can tell that she misses Tinker, as do my wife and I. Falco is my wife’s oldest daughter’s new pup that is also a rescue. She’s fattened up a bit since we first met three months ago, after the trauma of a hurricane and giving birth. 

Falco and Tally love to run and frolic about the carpeted hallways outside of our apartment. It’s about the only real freedom they get, as our actual living space is restrictive of playful activity. They also get to run up and down the stairs before and after we take them outside. I like to use the back stairway that exits directly to the sidewalk, rather than the main way out into the lobby. With this preferable egress, before they can actually get outside, there are two doors that when closed form a small “airlock” that contains them while I put-on their flashing collars and raincoats. There’s also less chance of running into other dogs and the related commotion that often happens in the marble lobby. The third way out is the elevator to take them up and down, but it too empties into the lobby. We don’t use this option as much anymore without the need for Tinker’s stroller. It’s also more fun to watch the dogs navigate the stairs and better exercise for all of us. 

Falco is gradually getting oriented to visiting us regularly and playing with Tally. Soon, Tally will be spending reciprocal time at Falco’s house, and hopefully she’ll be more mature around the two cats that once lived with us. Tally loved to taunt Jimmy and Zelda, and never learned to befriend them like Tinker. We’re hoping that all of them will get along better, so we can take advantage of sharing pet-sitting responsibilities and costs. The first experiment will be in a few weeks when we go to Las Vegas. In the meantime, the trials and tribulation of pet orientation will continue. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Tradition #1183

After 15 days away from home, I’m finally back in a comfortable routine. Yesterday was spent unpacking, sorting the mail, putting away Holiday decorations, and doing piles of laundry, followed by an evening of Fiddler On The Roof at the Keller Auditorium. Unfortunately, both my wife and I were a bit jet-lagged and still adjusting to the three-hour difference in time zones, so we only made it to intermission of the lengthy production. We had both seen it several times before and it’s still enjoyable, humorous, and thought provoking, even when cut in half. It was our first Portland Broadway Series show where we got there by public transportation. I was about to boast that we didn’t have to pay for parking either, but my wife once worked in the building next door and could use her parking space for concerts, plays, and musicals that we would attend. 

We had frugally taken the MAX and Portland Streetcar from the airport upon our return three days ago to avoid paying for for two weeks of parking. Although living downtown is relatively pricey, we are saving bits-and-pieces by walking and commuting rather than using our cars. My car is parked over at my step-daughter’s house that we will need to retrieve today, along with Falco her puppy that we’ll be dog-sitting for the weekend. Tally, our ten-year old schnauzer, will be glad to have a companion, as she still seems to be mourning the loss of big sister Tinker. She’s also been in the hands of a sitter while we were traveling, and hopefully missed us too! We lazily took my wife’s car to get groceries yesterday to give it a little action after sitting underground while we were gone. We could have walked and pulled our cart as we usually do, but once again our aging bodies were dragging from the two-week adventure of Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Shuttles, Boats, and Roller-coasters.

We might go to a movie this afternoon that has recently become a bi-weekly tradition with our annual passes. There will be no traditional “Leadership Meeting” today because we’ll all get together tomorrow for the annual Old Timer’s Baseball Banquet. I also have a baseball card luncheon tomorrow that is now a bi-annual tradition. My wife will take Tally on her traditional daily walk through the neighborhood while I write, a ritualistic morning tradition that has been interrupted as we frequently moved hotel rooms these past two weeks. Finally, I’ve returned to the traditional downtown Portland running route and radio station after fifteen days of different routes and distances that make maintaining “The Streak” of now 4,030 days even more of a challenge. Yes, traditions and routines are important in making life easier. 

Fiddler On The Roof was all about tradition, as its popular opening musical/dance number emphasizes. Here’s a family built-on the tradition of the father determining the marital fate of each of his daughters, that is eventually uprooted and split apart because of their religious beliefs. Tradition and routine gives each of us an important sense of order and comfort in dealing with the hassles and uncertainties of life. While they can become predictable and boring, it often takes a break from doing them to restore the sense of appreciation they play in our existence.  Two weeks of different cities and beds, coupled with strict schedules and entertaining grandchildren make coming home a welcome treat. I’ve gladly returned to the familiar, but will soon be ready for another travel challenge and less routine tradition:

Tradition, tradition! Tradition!
Tradition, tradition! Tradition!

Who, day and night, must scramble for a living,
Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers?
And who has the right, as master of the house,
To have the final word at home?

The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.
The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.

Who must know the way to make a proper home,
A quiet home, a kosher home?
Who must raise the family and run the home,
So Papa’s free to read the holy book?

The Mama, the Mama! Tradition!
The Mama, the Mama! Tradition!

At three, I started Hebrew school. At ten, I learned a trade.
I hear they’ve picked a bride for me. I hope she’s pretty.

The sons, the sons! Tradition!
The sons, the sons! Tradition!

And who does Mama teach to mend and tend and fix,
Preparing me to marry whoever Papa picks?

The daughters, the daughters! Tradition!
The daughters, the daughters! Tradition!

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: SHELDON HARNICK / Jerrold Lewis Bock

Tradition lyrics © Trio Music Company

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