I continue to resort to the same headlines – in this case “Keep On Truckin'” – for the third time. I try to be clever, but there seems to be a reoccurring theme as the number of posts continue to add up. This will be the third time that I’ve used it, but in this case it actually refers to trucking rather than the music of the Grateful Dead or the Doo-Dah Man (Post #760 and Post#1603). The truck with our stuff should arrive within a week, the first sign that last night was going to be a good one. The good news phone call came when I was sipping on some Broken Barrel Whiskey as the red hot White Sox were losing the first game of a double header. They often say that good and bad news comes in threes, so after the dispatcher called with the report that our loaded truck would arrive in Tampa on Wednesday, it set off a wave of good fortune that continued through the rest of the night.
Whether or not it continues today I will soon find out. My run was painfully stiff, as soreness continues to rack my body. I’ve been doing exercises to offset the arthritis in my lower back, including the purchase of a body and back massage tool that resembles the hook of a shepherd’s staff at each end. It’s designed to reach those sore muscles and help them relax, recommended by my chiropractor. Today’s results were not encouraging. I go back again on Monday. However, with any sport or exercise there are always good and bad days. After 4,521 consecutive days of running, I should know as well as anyone. Regardless, last night was a great night of watching sports and the buzz was still there when I woke up this morning.
It started with a Cubs victory, as their relief pitching continues to be strong. They’ve needed it since 9 or their last 11 games have been decided by one or two runs. They’ve won six of those for a May record of 8-3, putting them four games behind the first place Cardinals. However, the offense continues to struggle with a run differential of minus 5, compared with the Cards at +26. They play next weekend in St. Louis, the first head-to-head of the young season.
I then turned over to IU soccer and watched the Hoosiers advance to the NCAA Championship in search of their 9th National Title. They edged out a tough Pittsburgh squad who dominated possession time but couldn’t score. The Panthers attempted twice as many shots but the Hoosier defenders prevailed. The Cream & Crimson, ranked #2, will face #10 Marshall in the Monday night finale.
At the same time the soccer game ended, the White Sox won the second game of the Kansas City doubleheader, going 8-2 in their last ten to keep pace with the Indians. The slugging Sox are +64 in run differential this season and just as exciting on the bases. Billy Hamilton has show some speed and promise, filling in for a number of serious injuries that have plagued stars like Jimenez, Robert, and now Abreu, So far, aging Tony La Russa has pushed the right buttons, although criticized for not knowing the newly established rules of doubleheader games. The Sox have so much depth that it doesn’t appear that there will be a La Russa-Pujols reunion in Chicago. I’m particularly impressed with rookie Yermin Mercedes and Oregon State product Nick Madrigal. The Sox are now referred to as the best team in baseball. Hopefully, that will continue.
To summarize the good news, our long delayed stuff is within reach and sports are going my way. The Indy 500 is on the horizon and my wife gets her second vaccine shot today. Both granddaughters celebrate birthdays this month. The future indeed looks sunny and bright here in our new Florida home. Go Sox, Cubs, and IU – and Keep On Truckin’.
We’re staying with friends on Marco Island for a few days. They came to visit us with initial plans of staying at our house, but without furniture this was not possible. As a result, we ended up at their temporary place, a Marriott Vacation Club. This morning I fought the humidity in a miserable attempt to run and ended up walking after two miles. It was one of my worst efforts in some time, with the feeling that my body was totally used up. I’ll know tomorrow if it was just a temporary set-back, or if I’m truly getting too old for this streak that now extends to 4,509 consecutive days.
This getaway to Marco Island was a last minute miracle, considering that only a few days ago we had no options for someone to take care of our schnauzer Tally. My wife met a woman at our neighborhood dog park, looking for advice on a groomer. She directed us to a couple that owns eight schnauzers. As it turned out, they were excited to board Tally for a few days so we could get away. To make matters even better, Tally seemed equally excited to spend time with their dogs, even after the grooming. She ran right into their house when we dropped her off, in sharp contrast to her last few visits to the dog spa in Portland where she shook in fear. My wife was relieved to find a great option for Tally when we travel.
We arrived on the island yesterday afternoon and took a walk on the beach. I spotted a tent with the IU Hoosiers logo and met some folks from the Evansville area who owned condos in the adjoining property. It reminded me to monitor the NCAA soccer tournament match against Brooklyn St. Francis later in the afternoon. The Cream & Crimson advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the sixth straight year on penalty kicks. Hopefully, they can continue on to win their ninth National Championship – next up Marquette.
My wife finally got a good night’s sleep last night, as we both enjoyed the soft beds. It was also refreshing to stay some place with comfortable furniture to sit on. We have one more nights to relax with friends rather than squabble about what needs to be done in our new home. Hopefully, we’ll hear from the moving company this week about a potential delivery date for our stuff. Life is good on Marco Island!
About a year ago, 325 posts in the past, I wrote about Fry Day. (See #1344). We had started our Florida search for our forever home, but spent too much time in the car eating McDonald’s French fries. It had a much different meaning than today when we’re headed to the beach with our Fry Chairs, expecting to roast in the sun and surf. The search is over, construction complete, and we’ve moved in. The only thing missing at this point is our furniture, now two full weeks past due and still stuck in a Portland warehouse. We feel helpless in trying to rescue our possessions since numerous phone calls and conversations have been fruitless.
Today we get a visit from the couple who inspired our retirement home decision. They were friends from our time in Decatur, Illinois but have since moved to Tucson, Arizona. They built a home in a Del Webb residential development that appealed to my wife and I. We have since followed their advise on looking for a resort community that fits our needs. The main difference is that their backyard is filled with cacti and succulents while ours is primarily water and a screened-in lanai. We also wanted to be near the ocean, so Venice became our #1 choice. These friends are traveling cross-country with children in Texas and the Carolinas, so they will stop in to check-out our new home. Sadly, it is like an empty tomb, without rugs, carpeting, artwork, and furniture. Not much to show-off!
We’ll return to Fins tonight for a sunset dinner after French Fries at the ballpark last night. Yesterday, I took the grandkids to the rooftop Tiki Bar to watch the Cubs play on the big screen. Unlike the night before, the struggling Cubbies were able to score some runs and eventually beat the Braves. The sunset was once again beautiful, but the kids a bit rowdy. I hope I can get used to it. Today, it will be the peaceful beach and bright sun. We’ll steer clear of McDonald’s, park our chairs with a Gulf view, and soak in some rays on a Friday Fry Day!
We go back to school today – Pool School – where we learn all about taking care of our new swimming pool. Hopefully, they can set up the fountain to run when we want and properly hook-up the underwater light. The pool also gets converted from chlorine to salt this afternoon. We’ll probably start with a maintenance program until we get the feel for its care. At some point, we’ll probably end up installing a heater, but I’m content with the temperature for my morning laps. I’ve gotten in it every day since we’ve moved in, slowly putting a dent in its cost-per-use.
There’s a lot to learn about our new house, as we’re gradually trained on the use of associated appliances, electronics, and mechanics. We know all about smoke alarms and got our new central vacuum accessories yesterday. We’re ordering rugs and furniture to reduce the hollow echo, as we continue to wait for our lonely furniture that sits in the Portland warehouse. No word from North American Van Lines despite several calls this week. They supposedly continue to refund us $100/day penalty that now amounts to over $1000. Plantation shutters and lanai blinds have been ordered for much needed privacy from the close-by neighbors. I’ve met the people on both sides now, but those across the street seem much friendlier.
New home celebrations continue, as we get settled. Two pictures have been hung on the wall and we own a new ladder. Today is my wife’s eldest daughter turns 40. My son and his wife presented us with a wall hanging of “Happy Together” in honor of our 20th anniversary last week. Two of their three kids have birthdays in May, as we soon flip to our second Florida month. Last night we went to the neighborhood ballpark for dinner, where the sunset was much more entertaining than the game. The Braves, now our home team, drubbed the struggling Cubs 10-0. They took them to school – not Pool School.
It was a glorious sunset last evening, as the two of us celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. Although we didn’t have our traditional chocolate covered strawberries, we did enjoy a profiterole dessert topped with strawberries and chocolate. It was our first opportunity to watch the Florida sunset in its entirety from our table overlooking the Gulf. Dinner itself did not go smoothly since they ran out of stone crabs and our waitress was initially inattentive. I guess they didn’t want us to forever associate stone crabs and kidney stones on our anniversary. We did devour some Cupid’s Choice oysters that I felt was appropriate for the occasion.
We are in the sunset of our lives. It oddly struck me when Notre Dame and Indiana recently announced a football home-and-home series scheduled for 2030 and 2031. I will be eighty years young when this finally happens. We’ll have been living in this home for ten years at that point and I’m sure it will all go by in the blink of an eye. Maybe our furniture will have arrived from Oregon by then? My wife bought new patio furniture yesterday and a couple of pictures for the living room. At least there will be something hanging on the wall today, but the outdoor stuff won’t arrive for a few months. My son and I will also install a couple of new TVs this morning. Things are coming together.
I expect to hear from North American Van Lines today about our delayed shipment, although I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it will be some time before they get the problem resolved. In the meantime, our stuff will continue to sit in the Portland warehouse while we receive a $100 a day compensation, hardly worth the inconvenience. Portland continues to be a hotbed of unrest as downtown businesses continue to experience fires, picketing, riots, and property defacement. It’s no wonder that no one wants to move there and many want to leave. They simply can’t get trucks and drivers to accommodate this demand. We miss our things with every sunset that goes by.
Our possessions apparently have yet to leave the Portland warehouse, so we’ve got time for extended stay in Indianapolis. Two extra days are now in the plan before we head to Atlanta, one step away from moving into our new home. The troublesome kidney stone was extracted yesterday and my wife is feeling much better. Even though the doctor has cleared her for travel, we decided it’s best to rest for a few days here and reschedule what we missed with Indy friends. Getting back behind the wheel can wait.
It was too rainy yesterday for Tally and I to sit outside and wait for the urologist to complete surgery. Instead of TD Alibi’s as planned, we drove up to a friend’s house in Noblesville. We dropped my wife off at the hospital downtown and spent three hours in waiting. Texts and phone calls kept me up to date on the procedure, since we were not allowed to stay. As she begins to heal, the freedom of retirement allows us the flexibility to adjust our schedule to eventually hook up with the movers, provided my brother-in-law can tolerate my presence for a few extra days. We’re in no rush – at least today, but house guests can begin to stink like dead fish when they overstay their welcome. Glad to have great, tolerant relatives!
I have a Leadership Zoom meeting this afternoon, continuing the once face-to-face Friday lunch tradition started back in Portland years ago. I can still be with my friends despite being thousands of miles away from them. I’ll catch them up on the trials of tribulations of moving to Florida and we’ll certainly discuss the fate of the I.U. basketball program that has been gaining credibility these past few weeks. Xaviar Johnson from Pittsburgh will take Armaan Franklin’s guard position as he moves to Virginia. Dane Fife joins the coaching staff and there’s no one from last year’s IU roster left in the transfer portal. The next step will be finding a big man or two to make us more competitive under the basket. The future of IU basketball has grown from dismal (almost as painful as a kidney stone) to bright in just the past two weeks. I’ll continue to monitor it in the local papers as we’re now in for an Extended Stay.
Today’s Easter leg (not egg or even leg of lamb) of our cross-country trek takes us from Utah into Wyoming with an overnight stop in Burlington, Colorado. My wife continues to battle a painful kidney stone, but made it through her two driving shifts. The scenery through Oregon was spectacular as usual and not as burnt-out in the Eastern section as it was seven years ago when we first crossed the state line. Idaho was short and sweet while Utah had some long stretches of boredom as the day wore on. We did catch a glimpse of the Great Salt Lake just before arriving at our hotel about 9 p.m., despite an hour loss from the Time Zone change.
I was monitoring the UCLA vs. Gonzaga NCAA Final Four match-up, hoping to get in front of a TV for the overtime. There were unfortunately too many hassles getting checked-in and hauling all our luggage to the room. As a result, I just missed the Zags buzzer-beater to remain perfect. I still have mixed feelings about their quest to tie the unbeaten 1976 Indiana 32-0 National Championship, but with the fortune of that final bank shot, all they have to do is beat Baylor Monday night. From the beginning of the 2020-21 season, this pairing has been on everyone’s radar since it was cancelled back in December due to the pandemic. We’ll soon have the answer. I did watch the White Sox blow an 8th inning lead against the Angels before I turned in for the night on a sour note.
The Sox have started an ominous 1-2 despite some record breaking performances by Yermin Mercedes – 8 for 8 in his first two games and the first grand slam of 2021 by Jose Abreu. Mercedes has filled in “perfectly” at DH for injured slugger Eloy Jimenez, who could be out of the line up for most of the regular season. Basketball, baseball, and the map app kept me occupied while I navigated 1-84 from Portland to Ogden/Layton. Today, as we cross the Continental Divide, it’s I-80 through Cheyenne, I-25 into Denver, and I-70 to our Burlington bed – the Easter Leg!
A few years ago it was Miller Time (See Post #35), and the Champaign flowed in celebration of I.U.’s new leader. Well, it’s that time again and fans are reasonably skeptical about the hiring of Mike Woodson as the new savior for the good old days of Bob Knight glory. Four failures have happened since his firing over two decades ago. Mike Davis, Kelvin Sampson, Tom Crean, and Archie Miller have each fizzled in his wake. None of them had a Hoosier player legacy to gamble away in addition to their coaching records. Now, it’s Woodson Time! Can basketball at I.U. really get any worse?
Will this be the fifth failure or a welcome relief? I.U. is sadly no longer a blue-blood program and teetering on the edge of disaster. Can two heads replace Knight, as Thad Matta joins the charge in the newly created position of Assistant A.D.? I guess we’ll never know until the two of them consistently win twenty games a season. Up until then, they’ll be under the microscope trying to salvage existing players and recruits. Coach Woodson has NBA contacts that are appealing to up-and-coming players. Thad Motta knows the college basketball wars. I’m not familiar with another arrangement like this where coaching and recruiting are handled separately. The odds of it working are probably not favorable and could be confusing. Two minds are not necessarily better than one.
Scott Dolson took what he could get under the circumstances. Once the student manager of an I.U. basketball National Championship team, he has risen to make one of the biggest decisions in the history of the school. “The Glory of Old I.U.” is tarnished and no longer appealing to the current masters of the game. Brad Stevens, who many feel is a sure bet, flat-out turned it down. Sentiment wanted a Hoosier native who could restore the winning culture dating back for decades. In all fairness, Archie was successful bringing Indiana Mr. Basketballs into the program but it was not enough to win compete. He also had to deal with Covid in the process and clean-up the mess that Sampson and Crean left behind. Fans were impatient, just as they will be with Woodson and Matta.
We’ll have to take advantage of the transfer portal while building for the future. Next year could be a train wreck if players leave the program as they’ve implied. The hiring of assistant coaches is critical, perhaps building on the theme of alumni and in-state ties. I’m not confident we can pull this off to the satisfaction of the disgruntled fanbase. Immediate gratification may not be possible, while Woodson is not a young man and another change may be necessary in the not too distant future. At any rate, it’s Woodson Time!
Life these days continues to revolve around basketball, with my calendar filled almost exclusively with games. Today, it’s the women’s tournament as both Oregon and Indiana play in San Antonio. The NCAA finally responded to their frustration by providing weight room equipment comparable to the men. Equal rights! Sports has always provided a political platform for leveling the playing field, starting with injustice in the Negro Leagues, for example. Owners eventually found a human side and brought change. Separate but Equal was never a good compromise because separate is never equal, as was recently exposed in San Antonio.
Separate drinking fountains, entrances, and accommodations was where this all originated. At least, it was a step up from the cruelty of slavery. The Indians were among the first victims that also included other people of color and women throughout history. Sadly, it still exists today, but inroads are being made. The business of sports has existed as a microcosm of this segregation madness. For too many years, we saw the stubborn refusal to pass the ball to blacks and women. Slowly, females are beginning to prove that they belong on the same field as males, coming together as players, officials, and executives. The world can learn from this transformation, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Providing athletes, regardless of sex or color, equal facilities and opportunities is part of this equation. Too often, the simple things like equipment are overlooked. If everyone is given the same chance to compete with no ceilings then the best athletes will eventually rise to the top. If the world of sports can practice equality, then so can the rest of us. Break down the barriers and make the entire world a better place to live.
I’m back home again from Indy with a busted bracket, hangover, and little sleep. Not quite as bad as the 1987 Final Four in New Orleans, but 34 years older and out of drinking shape. O’Reilly’s Irish Pub turned out to be our rendezvous spot between games. My friend who secured the hard-to-get tickets was following Illinois to their disastrous end, while my Indy buddy and I saw an assortment of teams live at both Lucas Oil Stadium and Banker’s Life. Purdue failed to please, falling to The Mean Green, as the sole representative of the state’s once-renowned round-ball heritage. IU stumbled once again and missed the Big Dance altogether. Oregon’s opponent was eliminated by Covid and the only other Beavs fan I met was due to a rest room break at a bar appropriately called The Wild Beaver. I was wearing my Oregon State baseball shirt.
The three flights in from Portland to Indianapolis went relatively smoothly but sleep was hard to come by. A 5:30 a.m. run through a nearly abandoned terminal at O’Hare got me through the night – that’s 2:30 a.m. Portland time! The first stop after the airport was The World of Beer where I enjoyed my first cold one. Former IU star Dan Dakich hosted a live radio show that was organized by another friend of mine. I tried my best to work in some of my oldest media pals into our fast paced schedule while I was in town, while grabbing some BBQ wings. The Day 2 lunch was at the Workingman’s Friend with other dudes from my past. Next, on the agenda were stops at The Yardhouse, Slippery Noodle, Harry & Izzy’s, and 10 West. For me, it was an exhausting trip down memory lane in the town where I spent 15 years of my life. I was proud that the Hoosier State could pull off this basketball extravaganza, but without the packed arenas and screaming crowds these efforts were futile.
Over the two night span, I got together with 7 fellow basketball buds and made a few phone calls to those who couldn’t be there. Everyone was curious about the unprecedented experience of all these games in central Indiana, but the crowds were disappointing and the venues seemingly empty thanks to Covid. Zip ties were used to disable seats that were strategically socially distanced. At first, it looked like you could move down to empty chairs closer to the courts, but you couldn’t sit in them. Entire sections were blocked off and the atmosphere was sadly sterile. Plus, the mask patrol was monitoring everyone on cameras and warning us of ejection. I’m sure the players were glad to have live supporters, but their voices were lost in the cavernous void. It was better to stay home and watch the action on TV, because the party crowds on the street or in the stands were sorely missing. A year ago downtown Indy was bustling with activity even on a normal day, but the tourney came off as a ghost town despite all these teams and fans in attendance.
One of my highlights of being back home again in Indiana was a bacon and maple cream long john, made by a popular donut spot. This was a late night surprise left on the doorstep of my good friend’s condo. His place is a bit far from the downtown action, so he did a lot of shuttling us around. We had a great time as always, bemusing about the miserable IU season and speculating on a new coach. March MADness took on new meaning with the anger we expressed in both 2020 and 2021. I’m home and back in the blog business, with lots of good weekend memories.