Today's thoughts

Category: RETIREMENT IS NOT WITHOUT HASSLES (Page 1 of 137)

My day-to-day retirement life

Retirement is not without Hassles: Regal Moment #1756

I was looking for an excuse to shorten my run and found it this morning with some thunderstorms. In my limited experience with Florida weather, it’s been rare to see early morning showers, mostly the afternoon variety. I dropped back to the minimum mile, thinking that if Simone Biles can take a day “off” then so can I. I was soaked from rainfall not sweat for once, although it was still 15-minutes of exercise. Will I be playing golf this afternoon with my granddaughter as planned? I’ll have another shorter run on Friday so we can get an earlier start on Friday for Amelia Island as The Streak continues.

My wife and I made our way back to the Big Screen yesterday afternoon at the nearby Regal Theater. It’s certainly not as convenient as walking as we did in Portland, but I’m not sure the theatres there have even opened for business. We bought an annual pass just before the pandemic struck and were pleased to see that the expiration dates have been extended. As a result, free Matinee Mondays are now back on the calendar. We saw the Black Widow yesterday and have our sights set on Jungle Cruise next Monday. It was great to once again sit in a comfy chair in the back row of a huge, dark theatre. The last time was early February of 2020 when we saw Uncut Gems, so it’s been over seventeen months. It looks like the giant screen is now back in our lives. However, we’re still not sure what the expiration date is on our passes. 

We finished the PBS Hemingway series last night and I’ve started to read For Whom The Bell Tolls. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve had limited exposure to his writing – maybe The Sun Also Rises? I’m curious to examine his style, having spent the last five years trying to write myself. Another friend has agreed to read The Table of Dope, my most recent attempt at a novel. He was part of my Bloomington college life when this whole thing took place. I’m hoping he can provide some input and rekindle my interest in finishing it. Trust me, it will never be worthy of a Regal moment. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Our New State #1755

I’m down to the last month of being in my sixties. I was sorting through some old pictures yesterday, starting with some baby photos. My mom and grandfather were both amateur photographers and I was their constant subject, so I must have hundreds of pictures. The question is what to do with them? Most have already been converted to videotape and DVD, but it’s still hard to just throw them out. I have to at least get them down to a manageable level and not leave them for family to eventually deal with once I’m gone. At this point, I don’t think it’s likely I will ever be famous and collectors will be clamoring over my images. I’ll spend the rest of this week going through them since they were sitting in the hot garage in danger of heat damage. 

It’s another Monday with a visit to the chiropractor the only item on my calendar. It was extremely hot and humid this morning – felt like 93 degrees. I was definitely overheated once I got back to the house, while the pool revived me. Running seems to get harder every day but somehow I keep going…one foot in front of the other in the early morning sunshine. I will be anxious for Friday when I’ll cut back to just a mile before our long drive to Amelia Island. Everyone I’ve talked to have stayed in a luxury resort on the beach, but we’ll settle for a Spring Hill Suites that is dog friendly. Tally would love to stay at the Ritz but they won’t have her. 

It should be slightly cooler five hours north of us and a welcome break from the routine. We’ll see some of the Jacksonville sights and meet the great niece twins. I haven’t spent much time in that area, maybe a pass-through or two, so it’s new territory to explore. We’re doing a good job of wandering Florida, with only the Keys yet to visit. We’ve covered Marco Island to the south, Miami, Orlando, and Pensacola. In the next few weeks we’ll also stay on the Tampa beachfront and enjoy a weekend at Singer Island, directly across the state from us on the Atlantic. Later this year, we’ll get to Titusville and the Kennedy Space Center. With most overseas travel prohibitive, we’ve spent our time getting to know our new state. 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Jury Duty #1754

I got a summons here at our Florida home to appear on an Oregon jury. I saw the official letterhead and initially thought it was something much worse. I wouldn’t think that they would make me come cross-country to appear, so I immediately sent an e-mail requesting to be deferred. I did learn that if you’re over 70 or breastfeeding, you can automatically be dismissed. I will be 9 days short of my 70th birthday when this duty is requested. Seven years in Portland and I somehow escaped being selected until just after leaving town. I have served on one jury in my lifetime and that was back in Indiana – a drug case. 

I am watching an interview with the first USA gold medal winner after our team was uncharacteristically shut out on the first day of competition. More scull races and beach volleyball are live this morning, considering the 13-hour time difference. It’s odd once again seeing no fans in the stands with the recent uptick in Japanese Covid cases. I hope that local events do not revert back to this level now that attendance is at full capacity and masks optional. Regardless, I’m just glad to have live sports to watch in the morning, having lost that benefit in moving to the Eastern Time zone. 

We’ve remained at home most of the month of July, so TV continues to be the main form of entertainment. Afternoon Florida showers have limited our options for outdoor activities. We’ll probably go back to the dog beach on Tuesday since that worked out well last week. We’re anxious for a new Jimmy John’s to open down the road for picnic food to pick up on the way. We’re still trying to familiarize ourselves with the area, including the best beach spots, where the jury is still out. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Hordes #1752

Giving a pint of blood less than nineteen hours ago certainly didn’t help my endurance this morning. My times were slow and my legs rubbery. When I got to the pool afterwards, my legs were too  weak to push off. After the fact, I can no longer feel the strain that nearly caused me to quit. Yet, I managed to push on and finish the 3.1 mile trek that jump starts my day – every day. Today I’m proud to say was 4,590 consecutive efforts, without a miss. The temperature was eighty degrees with 94% humidity to add to the challenge. 

I’m watching the opening ceremonies of the 2020 Olympics from Tokyo – a year late due to the pandemic. I can only imagine the disappointment these athletes felt in facing this delay. They were mentally and physically prepared a year ago yet persevered through rigorous training for another year to finally get to this day. Some of their teammates failed while others got a renewed opportunity with more time to train. I was fortunate to see some of them qualify at the University of Oregon in the track and field events a month ago. 

We’re having our guest room bed delivered this morning in anticipation of upcoming visitors. The vanity is still under repair from the move and we’ve been reimbursed for the broken lamps. Soon, the room will be ready for company. We’ll treat them to events like I’m headed to this afternoon at the neighborhood stadium – Braves vs. Rays rookie ball or a day at the beach. We’re nearly ready – bring on the hordes!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Blood #1751

Days are passing quickly – a blink of the eye and I’m running again. What happened to all that time in between? I seem to be always looking down at my feet hit the pavement, wondering if it will ever end? Today, I give blood, but it will be the only thing that distinguishes it from yesterday. Tomorrow, we go to the ballpark and watch the rookies play for a little variety. However, run…swim…write…watch…sleep is the norm. As Yogi Berra is credited for saying, “it’s deja vu all over again.”

I have a pile of birthday and get well cards on my desk in anticipation of a busy month. I look at the calendar and find that I haven’t torn off a page in more than 10 days. They still pass by whether I rip them off or not. Somehow, the word of the day does not seem as appealing as nature photos or travel sites. I hope my financial advisor goes back to pictures next year. I don’t care about napery, ailurophile, melee, provender, reverie, pyrrhic, mare, sibyl, or amphibology. 

I just received a strange, hand-written letter from the local representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses, an indication that I’m now officially a Florida resident. At least, they’re not knocking on my door, so I’m thankful to live in a gated community. Ironically, it was signed by a guy named Brian. I find this funny considering that I watched a documentary on Monty Python yesterday that included a religious discussion about the movie, “Life of Brian.” He tells me I can find out more by going to JW.org. I’d rather go to a JW Marriott

Tally is back from the dog park and has already taken over my chair. A quick romp with the other dogs and she’s exhausted. I hate to kick her out, but we can’t both spend the afternoon in that chair. She enjoyed her first oyster last night after we put them on the grill. She also devoured a tiny crab that had crawled inside the shell, so her days seem to be filled with more excitement than mine. Strange new creatures to stimulate her curiosity and appetite, while the highlight of my day is to give blood.

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: “Getting Closer to my Home” #1750

I finished my run this morning all wobbly-legged like those competitors you see at the end of the Boston Marathon just before they collapse. It was eighty degrees and 100% humidity with a light mist. I thought to myself: it’s just a leisurely 5k not a frickin’ marathon. What are you …seventy years old? Just yesterday, I still had a lot in the tank for the last mile, but today was a different story. I thought a lot about a friend of mine anticipating prostate surgery, and how lucky I should feel to just have to worry about another day of running. 

There are many familiar markers along the route I take, including a pot hole at the half-mile mark, a Dodge Charger that sits in someone’s driveway, the utility box that sits at one mile, two benches that I think of as benchmarks, and the Venetian bridge at the half-way point. When I pass them all the second time I know “I’m getting closer to my home.” Sometimes, even Grand Funk comes up in the music rotation to perform that very song as I make my way back. I’m a sweaty mess when I finally make my way to the pool – this morning in a light rain. Schnauzer Tally sat under cover rather than perform her normal lifeguard duties.

Tally had a big day at the beach yesterday. We even shared a Chicago dog even though today is technically National Hot Dog Day. The entry to Broward Beach is a dog park with secure fences to protect us all from the alligators that lurk in the surrounding swamp. The exit leads to a wooden walkway and access to the sand. It’s one of two dog-friendly beaches in our area. Tally can sit in the shade of our umbrella or romp with the other dogs, even though many of them actually get in the water. She stays on the fringe area, avoiding the water at all costs, just as she jokingly performs her lifeguard responsibilities with me while swimming in our pool. There was a brief moment where she tried to follow me into warm Gulf, but a wave soon sent her scurrying back to safety. 

We were all tired from a day in the sun, even more reason to get in under the covers at the standard 10 p.m. self-imposed curfew. It’s well past the time when most of our neighbors roll up their sidewalks. There isn’t a bedroom light to be seen when I take Tally for her final outing. Back in Portland, I didn’t have to stay up late to watch sports, but here most games don’t even start until 8 or 9p. I usually check the scores before bed time but typically have to wait until morning for the final results. I uncharacteristically took my phone to bed and happened to check it after doing some reading. The Milwaukee Bucks were about to claim their first NBA title in 50 years, so I stayed up for the celebration, monitoring it on the small screen. At the same time, both the Sox and Cubs were pulling off miracle comebacks. It was the most remarkable half-hour of TV sports I’ve witnessed in a long time. The Cubs scored 6 runs in the ninth to stun the rival Cards, the Sox came back to beat the Twins, and Giannis scored 50 to claim the crown. It made for sweet dreams – Grand Funk!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Dog Days of Summer #1749

I spent most of yesterday in front of the TV, watching classic movies like Chinatown and The French Connection. I’ve seen both of them before but remembered very little – one of the benefits of getting old. My wife went antique shopping, leaving Tally and I to fend for ourselves. I even made my own lunch and used the microwave for the first time. Such a sense of accomplishment! Today, we have plans to go to the beach once I’ve finished my writing and Tally returns from the dog park. Tally needs to work on her tan. We’ll even make a stop at Dog Friendly for a gourmet Chicago dog at the main neighborhood recreational center and eat at the tables by the bocce courts. Tally likes a good dog, and gets a few bites for being a good girl. 

We’ve been checking out things to do with the grandkids. We took them to the Young Frankenstein musical the other night and my wife picked up some discount tickets to the upcoming circus. This week is my son’s 47th birthday and we’ve yet to make a plan around his work schedule. However, he and I are going to see the Braves vs. Rays rookie ball exhibition game on Friday. We all passed on going to this Wednesday’s Cool Today Stadium presentation of The Lion King (2019), since it wasn’t nearly as good as the original and not worth seeing again. This is part of their summer movie nights that will also soon show Tom & Jerry, as well as Jumanji – both worth the price of admission. Keeping busy in  this neighborhood is not difficult, but I still prefer those quiet days of air conditioned comfort here in my home office. 

Hotel arrangements have been made for Amelia Island, our next travel adventure at the end of the month. In the process, we’ll also be meeting my wife’s twin grand nieces in Jacksonville. It’s the beginning of an active month of August, with a Singer Island weekend, White Sox baseball, and my 70th birthday bash with Santana & Earth, Wind, and Fire. Tally gets groomed this Friday in anticipation of all these festivities, some of which she’ll be left behind. It’s the Dog Days of Summer and she needs to beat the heat with a shorter cut and some cool shade. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Pappygate #1748

I am a member of the whiskey club, Flaviar, but I’ve yet to get caught up in spirits fever – or maybe you could say I did by joining. Like fine wines, my taste buds simply aren’t sophisticated enough to distinguish the subtleness of aging. I have a bottle of Jefferson’s Very Small Batch on my desk that was this month’s featured brand and can grasp the concept of supply and demand: the less there is…the more it costs. This is the case with Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, a product of the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Franklin, Kentucky.

Meet the Maker: “Julian P. Van Winkle III, the grandson of Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr., who opened the Stitzel-Weller Distillery just outside Louisville on Derby Day in 1935 and produced various brands until he died in 1965. Now made in partnership with Buffalo Trace, his Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is a grandson’s liquid tribute to his ancestors.” As a tribute to his whiskey stardom, Julian III is even known today as the “Booze Yoda.” For the full story, check out the book, “Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last” by Wright Thompson.

The brand’s lengthy 15 to 23 year aging process and limited supply sells retail for about $120 a bottle – if you can get it. A shot commands about $75 and collectors price it as much as $5,000 a bottle. I have a good friend who was the first to treat me to a shot of Pappy while we were sitting in an Austin restaurant. In repayment, the closest thing we’ve ever found was a box of Pappy Van Winkle chocolates that we gave him for Christmas one year. He sends me articles and keeps me updated on his quest to satisfy an undying thirst for this precious golden distill. He’s one of many that would pay anything to sip this legendary liquid of the gods – or rather Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle III.

Yesterday, I watched on Netflix the new series, Heist, including an episode titled, The Bourbon King. It was a story that I could personally relate to given my college days run-in with the law. It was about some small town folks that worked for the Buffalo Trace Distillery and got caught up in a criminal ring that was dubbed “Pappygate.” It started with simple employee theft that led to greed. It wasn’t as much about the money as it was about satisfying the needs of friends and the popularity achieved in having access to the goods. Eventually, it destroyed friendships and families, in knowing a guy that knows a guy…that knows a guy…that can get you a bottle of this precious Pappy. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Young Frankenstein #1747

We took the grandkids to dinner and a show last night, out later than since I can remember. Bedtime was midnight, as the big Saturday night came to a conclusion. There’s nothing like a Mel Brooks comedy to get the laughter juices flowing. The fact that it was a musical made it even funnier. Young Frankenstein, or should I say Franc-in steen, is a bit racy for a couple of pre-teens, but I had the feeling they understood more than they let on. At any rate, it’s an anatomy lesson set to music with a “happy ending.” Dinner was at Panera Bread with a driving rain as the backdrop. It was a breath-taking drive down Highway 41, dodging massive puddles and hoping that we didn’t float away. Although it did keep the speeds down as cars kept their distance, which is unusual for Highway 41. (See Post #1746). When we picked up our tickets at the box office, it was the first actual stub that I could add to my collection box in a year-and-a-half. In that pandemic timeframe, the few events we’ve attended have been digital tickets only. 

The 2021 Tour de France is coming to a dramatic conclusion, as I await the sprint through Paris and the Champs-Elysees finish near the last hotel where we stayed. It’s another major event that was delayed due to the pandemic. A Slovenian, Tadej Pogacar, won the 2020 title for the first time, and is leading through the first 20 stages this year. The other story is British comeback cyclist, Mark Cavendish, who can surpass the legendary Eddy Merckx with another stage victory. On the NBA basketball front, the Milwaukee Bucks are on the verge of claiming their first championship title in 50 years. I actually went to see them play that year in Milwaukee at Mecca Arena with some college friends – my first and only Bucks game. I saw some true legends in that game, including Kareem (then known as Lew Alcindor), Oscar, Bob Dandridge, and Hoosier star Jon McGlocklin. 

While I was enjoying the Venice Theatre performance last night, the Cubs and White Sox both pulled off victories. However, I was not focused on these games because the youth performance was great. “Walk this Way,” I urged my grandchildren as we left the building, while dragging my leg to imitate Igor. This character is always my favorite, especially the singing and dancing version. I’m sure we’ll enjoy many more performances like Young Frankenstein at our new community theater. “This Way!”

Retirement is not without Hassles: Highway 41 Blues #1746

We went for a drive yesterday, up and down Highway 41. What a mess – and it’s not even tourist season.  My wife mentioned something about a song she heard on the radio and thought maybe I could do better. I might just have to collaborate with the neighborhood band – Paradise Pickers.

Highway 41 Blues

Stop and go,
Construction cones.
Distracted drivers,
On cell phones.

Another stop sign,
Right lane closed.
Sunday drivers,
Nothing flows.

Expecting to get there,
Well, I’ve got news.
Start Singing the Highway,
Forty-One blues.

It gets even worse,
When the snowbirds arrive.
Sitting on phone books,
Trying to drive.

The line of cars,
Is like a parade.
When these part-timers,
Start to invade.

Jacked-up trucks,
With Confederate flags.
Souped-up golf carts,
Equipped for the drags.

Like the Daytona 500,
Some make it a race.
While others crawl along,
At a sea turtle’s pace.

Pale-skinned families,
Put their toes in the sand.
And suffer from red necks,
Instead of getting tanned.

Down the Gulf Coast,
They come in droves.
With their beach chairs,
And Jimmy Buffet clothes.

Fireworks and booze,
Are bought along the way.
And it’s best us residents,
Stay out of their way.

Think this traffic,
Is perhaps over-hyped?
After a month in town,
I got side-swiped.

Start spreading sunscreen,
And the bumper car news.
By singing these Highway,
Forty-One Blues.

copyright 2021 johnstonwrites.com

As you can see, I’m starting to think like the natives in making the switch from tourist to resident. I did, however, just get my car back from the body shop after my Highway 41 incident. Be careful out there!

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