Today's thoughts

Category: Poems (page 1 of 21)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Massacre #1224

I was caught in a slot machine massacre, taking the life out of my bank account. On the last night of our week-long Vegas adventure, I tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate my losses with one last flurry of spending. As we were leaving town on Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t help but think about the Mob Museum and the bullet-riddled brick wall that was reassembled to memorialize this famous Chicago shootout. I consequently pulled some information from Wikipedia hoping to learn mire a out this event exactly 91 years later. “The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre was the 1929 Valentine’s Day murder of seven members and associates of Chicago’s North Side Gang. The men were gathered at a Lincoln Park garage on the morning of Valentine’s Day. They were lined up against a wall and shot by four unknown assailants who were dressed like police officers. The incident resulted from the struggle to control organized crime in the city during Prohibition between the Irish North Siders, headed by George “Bugs” Moran, and their Italian South Side rivals led by Al Capone. The perpetrators have never been conclusively identified, but former members of the Egan’s Rats gang working for Capone are suspected of a significant role, as are members of the Chicago Police Department who allegedly wanted revenge for the killing of a police officer’s son.”

The garage at 2122 North Clark Street, now the parking lot of a nursing home, was the site of the 10:30 a.m. shooting. Seven men were murdered by four unidentified killers. “Two of the shooters were dressed as uniformed policemen, while the others wore suits, ties, overcoats, and hats. Witnesses saw the fake police leading the other men at gunpoint out of the garage after the shooting. The victims included five members of George “Bugs” Moran’s North Side Gang. Al Capone was widely assumed to have been responsible for ordering the Massacre.”

“Capone’s lookouts likely mistook one of Moran’s men for Moran himself, probably Albert Weinshank, who was the same height and build. The physical similarity between the two men was enhanced by their dress that morning; both happened to be wearing the same color overcoats and hats. Two of the killers reportedly opened fire with Thompson sub-machine guns, one with a 20-round box magazine and the other a 50-round drum.” Later in the year, these guns and other related items were found in a St. Joseph, Michigan bungalow, although the case has really never been totally solved.


-Brothers Peter and Frank Gusenberg, front-line enforcers for the Moran organizations

-Albert Kachellek (alias “James Clark”), Moran’s second in command

-Adam Heyer, the bookkeeper and business manager of the Moran gang

-Reinhardt Schwimmer, an optician who had abandoned his practice to gamble on horse racing and associate with the gang

-Albert Weinshank, who managed several cleaning and dyeing operations for Moran; his resemblance to Moran is allegedly what set the massacre in motion before Moran arrived, including the clothes that he was wearing.

-John May, an occasional car mechanic for the Moran gang


A heart-felt message,
From Al Capone.
Meet by Lincoln Park,
And don’t come alone.

Bring your whole gang,
Those stealing from me.
Around 10:30 a.m.,
If you’re free?

There’s a garage,
On nearby Clark Street.
If you stop by,
I’ll serve a sweet treat.

Seven showed up,
And died that day.
As guns blazed,
Revenge to pay.

As fate would have it,
“Bugs” was late.
His date with death,
Would have to wait.

A Moran double,
The mistaken aim.
Their hats and coats,
Were both the same.

It was a killing,
Never solved.
Though many theories,
Soon evolved.

A brick wall,
Is all that endures.
Al’s Valentine,
A Massacre.

Copyright 2020

I remain intrigued with this mob mystery and will continue my retirement hobby of visiting related educational sites around the country, including recent visits to Frank Nitti’s Vault below Harry Caray’s in Chicago (See Post #1067), John Dillinger’s capture in downtown Tucson at the Hotel Congress (See Post #845), and the John Gotti Spark’s Steakhouse slaughter in New York City. The common theme is always a nearby Italian restaurant.

Retirement is not without Hassles: My Vegas Valentine #1223

I continue to monitor travel expenditures, knowing that $1000/day continues to be our exorbitant standard. (See Post #320). This is on top of day-to-day living expenses that do not vary much when you’re not at home, with the exception of food. Regardless, of where you are, you still have to eat, and it’s usually more costly on the road. In our case, the $1000/day rule includes transportation (airfare, rental cars, Uber, and gas), lodging, parking, gifts, dog sitting, souvenirs, food/beverage, gifts, side excursions, entertainment admissions, and tips. Our eight-day Las Vegas adventure was no exception, although we got away without airfare (miles), hotels (points), dog sitting (daughter), and parking (public transportation). We even took some of our own wine. At $650 per day including gambling losses, this trip was a relative bargain. However, if we had paid full-price for all these basic elements of travel, it would have added up to $350 daily, or right at that grand-a-day expectation.  

In our upcoming trip to Arizona, I’ve already “paid” for Spring Training tickets/parking, airfare (Alaska points), and 3-nights hotel (Marriott Bonvoy points). Our friends have a car and we’ll stay at their house in Tucson the remaining 4-nights. We’ll still have to pay about $500 a week for pet sitting, but somehow we’ll find a way to get to the $7000, 7-day level through exorbitant dining and shopping, It always seems to work-out to $1,000 a day. Same thing for our split-trips to Dallas (boys only) and Savannah/Hilton Head (girls only). It will easily be $500/day for each of us. Then it will be the two of us together for San Francisco in April and Bali in May, in each case utilizing Marriott Vacation Club timeshares that are “pre-paid” through mortgage and maintenance fees. This is a whole separate part of the travel budget that figures out to be about $540 weekly, whether we are staying at a Marriott property or not. As you can see, traveling is our biggest expense in retirement. But, it’s worth it. 

Traveling together to Las Vegas was our Valentine’s gift to each other this year. Here’s a poem to summarize our fabulous week:

My Vegas Valentine

I left “The Strip,”
Without a buck.
After a week of,
No gambling luck.

We saw the Canyon,
Walked a glass plank.
After I.U. hopes,
Drastically sank.

Michael Jackson,
Came back to life.
We celebrated love,
As husband and wife.

A return to the Chapel,
At the Bellagio,
Before we enjoyed,
Barry Manilow.

Joel’s rolls and,
Joe’s Stone Crabs.
Two dining highlights,
But hefty tabs.

A rose from Hugo’s,
Fremont Street.
Mobsters and Neon,
Made for sore feet.

Bouchon again,
Edge a first.
Two cases from Guy,
To quench your thirst.

Sushi in Paris,
Trevi in Rome,
Palaces and Castles,
It’s “no place like home.”

Elevator kisses,
Walks hand-in-hand.
Joshua Trees,
In dry, dusty land.

Titanic moments,
Annoying sellers.
Escape Artists,
Fortune Tellers.

Nineteen years,
Since vows were said.
“So Happy Together,”
To share a love bed.

Our stay at Westgate,
Did not endear!
A Grand Chateau awaits,
For our twentieth year.

Copyright 2020





Retirement is not without Hassles: It’s A Pisser #1214

“Kidneys are the Coolest” is the slogan for OK, maybe it’s not a real website or lost funding, because the link no longer exists. The point is that it’s a natural thing and certainly worthy of a little toilet humor. I’ve gotten carried away with bladder poetry, but challenged myself to write just one more after the phrase “it’s a pisser” came up in recent conversation with my friends. An unfriendly bladder is undoubtedly my biggest hassle in retirement. As a result, here’s another entry in the “of questionable bad taste” category:

It’s A Pisser

My bladder’s heavy,
I need relief.
Just not AGAIN,
Oh, Good Grief!

Every two hours,
Nature calls.
A little dribble,
Not Niagara Falls.

The shut-off’s missing,
Inside my weenie.
I seem to be taking,
To perpetual pee.

It’s my aging,
Urinary tract.
Non-stop action,
Like a NASCAR track.

Seems more comes OUT,
Than what GOES IN.
Excuse me please,
Need to go AGAIN.

Perhaps a clothespin,
Might stop this leak?
Relief from relief,
Is all I seek.

It’s a Pisser,
Being like me.
To carry around,
This much pee.

It’s a Pisser,
But what to do?
At least it’s not,
Number TWO.

Copyright 2020


Retirement is not without Hassles: Not Again? #1204

I remain healthy in retirement, so it’s not worth complaining about some of the minor issues of old age. I prefer to be humorous when it comes to my weak bladder. Perhaps I’ve been a bit obsessive about writing regarding my frequent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night with the thought “Not Again?” I know you’re also probably saying, “not another poem about pee? Not Again?” I can’t honestly promise this will be my last stab at toilet humor. The first reference to this “problem” was three years ago and has been mentioned in 18 different posts. What I’ve found is that many fellow seniors can relate to this subject so it’s important to make others feel that they’re not alone. It’s worth a chuckle or two.

Senior Curse

I could once sleep ‘til noon,
Without interruption.
But now my bladder,
Is a constant disruption.

What now is a dribble,
Was once a squirt.
Instead it’s a trickle.
No longer a spurt.

Every two hours,
I have to go.
I can feel the urge,
Starting to grow.

I never pass,
A place to pee.
I no longer drink,
Coffee or tea.

Caffeine’s my enemy,
Beer’s even worse.
I’m a sad victim,
Of the Senior Curse.

If I hold it too long,
It might spring a leak.
But despite any strain,
It still comes out weak.

The Force isn’t with me,
As I step to the plate.
Even those times,
When I just can’t wait.

My tank seems full,
But no Tiger’s in there.
Sometimes old age,
Just isn’t fair.

Copyright 2020

Retirement is not without Hassles: Bladder Matter 2 #1196

Last night, I cut-back on my evening fluid intake, hoping that I could reduce the number of overnight bathroom trips. The frustration of the night before fueled a drastic need for change in dealing with my overactive bladder (OAB). I got out of bed at least five times, after several late night cups of tea, two vodka tonics, and multiple Diet Cokes. First, I have to learn to manage or eliminate my caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol urges. Secondly, I’ll also strive to strengthen my pelvic floor through exercise and consciously restrict liquids. Simply cutting-back resulted in a last night’s good sleep, interrupted by only two bladder interruptions, so the goal now becomes a seamless seven hours. 

I once liked getting-up multiple times in the middle of the night. There was never any trouble getting back to sleeps, and it made me feel like I was stretching time before the alarm rang. However, now I’m not working and no longer at the mercy of a wake-up call. I like the idea of a friendlier bladder and less-disruptive sleep. To get there, I’m going to have to make changes without resorting to medication. As I contemplate this matter of the bladder, I leave you with this silly poem that will have to be filed under the category of “in questionable bad taste.”

Bladder Matter 2

Disturbing news,
It’s a bladder matter.
Urinary Incontinence,
There’s nothing sadder.

Toilet Talk,
And discharge jokes.
Uncomfortable jest,
For proper folks.

It’s a touchy topic,
Some shamed to speak.
But the last thing you want,
Is a tell-tale leak.

Input equals output,
No room for doubt.
What goes in,
Must come out.

It’s bladder-related,
Anatomy one-oh-one.
But when it fails,
It’s never fun.

If it’s overactive,
Without control.
You need something,
To plug that Hole.

It might get irritable,
Cause for panic.
Restroom closed?
Don’t get frantic.

In the Overnight hours
When you seek relief.
It can frequently be,
A sleep depriving thief.

And God forbid,
When there’s no stream.
It can make,
A grown man scream.

When the doctor asks,
For you to cough.
There’s no need,
To get pissed off.

What comes before pee,
In the alphabet?
Oooo, so soothing,
No better does it get.

When the bag gets full,
Before you need a mop.
With the urge to go,
You’re forced to stop.

Or Like a race horse,
You start to prance.
My mom called it,
“The Tinkle dance.”

When nature calls,
Don’t dare diddle.
Before you make,
A puddle of piddle.

Politely you ask,
To take care of biz.
But we all know,
You’re taking a whiz.

If you can’t hold it,
Be more than glad.
That you’re wearing,
A Maxi Pad.

As we get older,
Here’s the key:
Never pass,
A place to pee.

Copyright 2010

For more bladder humor see Post #941. Apparently, the topic has been top-of-mind before. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Valentiversary #1191

Those who get married on Valentine’s Day, which is not always advisable, would celebrate what I call a “Valentiversary” every year. The “i” in the middle represents a candle signifies the first anniversary. Year two would add be spelled like this: Valentiiversary, as another candle is added. My wife and I have added an extra celebration to our love life called the “Limogesiversary,” occuring on March 28th of every year. I presented her with her first Limoges box on that date in Bloomington, Indiana where I went to school at I.U. Each year since I’ve tried to add another one to her collection, not to mention other holidays. It’s become the gift of choice though the years, accompanied by a poem hidden inside its hidden hinged compartment.

Christmas this past year was the first time in our relationship that I was instructed not to subsidize her Holiday collection, since the display box was full and we no longer have the storage space.  I also decided to combine Valentine’s Day and the March “Limogesiversary” into one, creating our own first “Valentiversary.” This was because she added a custom necklace to her list of needs. This has become Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and our Wedding Anniversary, with a unique, personalized charm added for each occasion.  The Limoges has suddenly taken a back seat, but she still wants to commemorate each of our trips with a painted porcelain memory. For example, the Sphinx and Great Pyramid are part of our travel plans this year, and both have a Rochard designed box.  Plus, we’re also traveling to Vegas, The Grand Canyon, Arizona, and Bali in the next few months, so she’ll probably be urging me to buy some of the landmarks associated with these locations. 

I was in a bit of a gift conundrum, between the necklace commitment and the Limoges Box tradition. As a result, I bought the low-calorie porcelain Valentine’s Cupcake box that she had her eye on, but will present it in January to honor both annual opportunities to express my love. Here’s the poem that I will include:


We’re cutting back,
To save, my dear.
We’ll double-up,
On gifts this year.

Income has slowed,
We’re both retired.
More traveling for two,
Has us both inspired.

This Valentine Limoges,
Must last two months.
And somehow satisfy,
Month of March wants.

Our Twenty-First annual,
Has been re-titled,
Our first Valentiversary.

Two celebrations,
Are treated as one.
Porcelain cutbacks,
Have officially begun.

This doesn’t mean,
I love you any less.
Marry Me Again?
Please say…yes.

What started with a blanket,
On a Bloomington hill.
Was put on a December hold,
Because you had your fill.

You requested this cupcake,
Then the necklace came along.
I didn’t think you’d mind.
Is combining gifts so wrong?

Vegas with my QDPie,
Is a Valentine bonus.
It’s a winter break.
For just the two of us.

It’s our Honeymoon spot,
Where love is in the air.
It’s when we became,
The Perfect Pair.

We’ll explore the Grand Canyon,
And the Neon Graveyard.
See Manilow and Michael,
Plus play the winning card.

Then it’s off to Arizona,
To soak-up more sunshine.
Leprechauns and baseball,
Rather than a Rochard design.

It’s a matter of priorities,
As we add to your collection.
I’ll focus on travel boxes,
To show my growing affection.

Happy Valentine’s early,
And Anniversary too.
I can’t tell you enough,
How much I Love You.

Copyright 2020


Old Sport Shorts: Ode to Sherm #1189

Poetry comes to me in streaks, and today was one of those days. As I was organizing my collection of memorabilia around the playing career of Sherm Lollar, I was somehow inspired to write this tribute. As I frequently go to baseball card shows, everyone talks about Mickey Mantle or Honus Wagner and how these players are the investment cornerstones of a great collection. Not everyone can afford to collect these gems, so I’m one to encourage starting with those who bring back personal childhood memories. Sherm Lollar was my first baseball hero and I honor this with cards, photos, and memorabilia that probably mean nothing to anybody but me. You don’t always have to make everything a financial investment, if it brings you a sense of joy:

Ode to Sherm

I never knew him,
But saw him play.
Have never forgotten him,
To this very day.

He was a catcher,
Wore number 10.
A perennial general,
Of the bull-pen.

He played with Nellie,
Luis, and Minnie.
Golden Gloves,
He earned many.

In the World Series,
Nineteen Fifty-Nine.
He hit a home run,
Became a hero of mine.

I watched on TV,
In black and white.
But the Sox fell short,
Of the Dodger might.

I wore his number,
It was lucky for me.
But the Hall of Fame,
unlikely to be.

Defense was his game,
A leader behind the plate.
But overshadowed,
By Yankees’ Number 8.

Not every team player,
Can be in the spotlight.
But some are admired,
For the things they do right.

He played in Chicago,
For eleven years.
And like me,
He had big ears.

I’ve written Cooperstown,
On behalf of him.
But hitting .264,
His chances are slim.

Over seventeen years,
Sherm’s glove was his force.
When it came to fielding,
None better, of course.

I maintain a collection,
Of his photos and cards.
I have his Rawling’s mask,
But no shin guards.

I can’t always afford,
To dabble in Honus.
But with Sherm Lollar,
The memories are bonus.

Copyright 2020


Retirement is not without Hassles: A Day at Disney #1188

My mind has been bubbling with thoughts of Disney World and all that time I spent in line last week. In fact, I was inspired to write this poem, my first of the new year:

A Day at Disney

There’s a line!
Another long wait.
One of those things,
That most people hate.

Instant gratification,
Is what I seek.
I need it now,
Not next week.

Impatience is,
My greatest foe.
The final score,
I long to know.

Quick rewards,
Are all I want.
I’m dying to,
Be up front.

I’m standing here,
Wasting the day.
All these people,
Are in my way.

Another hour of life,
Has idly passed.
When will I get,
On this ride, at last.

It’s not moving,
I’m going nowhere.
Could someone please,
Get me a chair.

Time is ticking,
I’m seeing Red!
There must be a way,
To get ahead.

My feet are sore
I‘m starting to tire.
Maybe I should,
Start screaming “fire!”

Copyright 2020

Retirement is not without Hassles: A.O.Y.B. #1165

I found a couple of internet references to the words “Angels On Your Body.” It’s a cute little love phrase that my wife and I often exchange, especially if we’re traveling separate ways. Today, we had it inscribed on a gold necklace charm that will be her Christmas this year. I hadn’t heard the reference before, so I thought it might be something original – is anything anymore? Nonetheless, it’s now forever part of our secret love code, along with LM, “carrots or karats,” and QDPie (or with symbol). Adding to the necklace will be part of several special occasions in the upcoming  year.

When I Googled “Angels On Your Body,” I discovered at least two sources, including the title of a Belgium music group called Fence collection, and an old episode of Louis Thoroux. where the receptionist at an evangelical fundie TV studio in Texas closes telephone calls with the heavenly inspired words. In both cases, I think we’re talking about a lot more serious religious significance than when we utter those four little words or letters A.O.Y.B. I’ve written a little poem to accompany the jewelry gift that comes with a pricey gold chain designed to hold many more. 


My angel has a body,
Not the topper of our tree,
Or a messenger from God,
She’s the only girl for me.

She’s clearly seen by others,
But not in the same light.
She doesn’t have a halo,
But is a heavenly sight.

When she’s at my side,
All in the world is right.
But when she’s far away,
Life is not so bright.

She doesn’t have wings,
Or always dress in white.
She can’t play the harp,
But keeps me warm at night.

She’s the very reason,
To see tomorrow come.
When I add it up,
She’s the Total Sum.

So when she’s not around,
I begin to wish she was.
I know that I am grateful,
For everything she does.

My angel is adorable,
And I love her so.
I try to write her poems,
So she will always know.

I count on other angels,
To protect her when I’m not.
And they know she’s special,
A sunbeam that I’ve caught.

Whenever we’re apart,
We use these words of love:
“Angels On Your body,”
Safeguard us from above.

If need to keep it short,
When you’re not next to me.
I quickly spell it out,
As simply A.O.Y.B.

Copyright 2019

Retirement is not without Hassles: Return to the Routine #1146

It’s been a busy week of traveling and entertaining. We just finished a trip to the airport and returned a rental car. This immediately reduced the number of keys in my sagging pockets. I still have two other sets in my possession that allows access to our apartment and cars. We needed the extra space of an S.U.V. to haul passengers and wine boxes from vineyard to vineyard. It was great fun with good friends who are now on their way back to Tucson. We talked, toasted, and tasted for 6 days, spending two of those nights in a cozy McMinnville boutique hotel. They were with other friends for the prior 3 nights, so I’m sure they’re anxious to get home. However, three days later they are headed to Maui. We envy their travel schedule, and are always happy to hear the stories of their many adventures. 

The next time that we’ll see them will be four months from now in Phoenix for Spring Training. We bought tickets for the warm-weather version of the Crosstown Classic, as the Chicago White Sox battle the Cubs. We’ll combine that with a few more games, other friends, shopping, dining, and side-trips, then ride back with them to their Tucson home for a few more days of sunshine. I don’t think they were impressed with our chilly Portland weather, but at least the rain stayed away. By that time of year when we reunite, we’ll be glad to escape from the Portland gloom. We’ll also be in Florida and Las Vegas during this year’s rainy season. I will definitely not need large doses of Vitamin B or my Happy Lamp to get through the winter months next year. 

We hope to visit the Grand Canyon during our “too long” Vegas stay. A snafu in Marriott Vacation Club points made it necessary to use a week of lodging, when three days is more than enough in “Sin City.” It was where we were married 19 years ago and haven’t been back for a few years. Most of our travel there centered around business conventions, including the timing of our ceremony at the Bellagio. I wish we were staying in their luxurious accommodations, but instead we’re “slightly” off The Strip. On this stay, we’ll sacrifice convenience and comfort for practicality. It will probably not be the romantic experience that we shared on our wedding weekend. However, we always have a good time.

On a sad note, tonight will be our 15-year old schnauzer’s last meal. Tinker still has an appetite despite losing a lot of her mobility in recent days. (See Post #1145). She’ll be put to rest tomorrow after a long and happy life with our family. It will be a tough day of tears and memories.

Despite our concerns about leaving Tinker at home with failing health, it was still an enjoyable weekend in wine country. As a distraction, I was able to watch bits and pieces of I.U.’s Bucket Game football victory and a basketball win. It was also “Rivalry Week” for most conference opponents with lots of surprises. Unfortunately, I.U. Soccer was the victim of an upset in the Sweet 16, a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in double overtime to U.C.S.B. Tonight, the Hoosiers will play Florida State in basketball, their first real test of the season. It will be an evening version of our weekly “Leadership Meeting” at Buffalo Wild Wings as I get back together with my Portland friends. It also marks the return to my normal, boring retirement routine, after such a busy week of entertaining. 

Six days together,
Not one “Five-Peak” day.
Glad we were part of,
Your Portland stay.

Hydraulic parking,
Too many keys.
A lobby filled,
With Cheesy trees.

The cramped quarters,
Of big city living.
But near Urban Farmer,
To celebrate Friendsgiving.

Streetcar stop,
Just next door.
Homeless problem,
Hard to ignore.

We each bought Knives,
And saw Them “Out.”
Learned what McMinnville,
Was all about.

Diet Coke stops,
Along the way.
Visited wineries,
Like Ponzi and Shea.

To welcome us,
They held a parade.
We guzzled Pinot,
Like Kool-Aid.

Atticus weekend,
Twinkly lights.
Red Hills’ breakfasts,
Chilly nights.

They had beds,
With two sides.
And day reminders,
On elevator rides.

Sazerac, Absinthe,
And gourmet grub.
From the Driftwood bar,
To the Country Club.

Thaw-out in Maui,
We’ll see you come Spring.
Once you run out,
More wine we’ll bring.

Wild Turkey,
Spruce Goose.
Make Walla-Walla,
Next year’s excuse.

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