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Category: RETIREMENT IS NOT WITHOUT HASSLES (Page 1 of 203)

My day-to-day retirement life

Retirement is not without Hassles: Neighbor #2544

Continued from Post #2543. Written for an upcoming 70th birthday party:

Seventy times Two!

I attended the 40th,

When we were just kids.

And since that time,

We’ve all hit the skids!

 

Zoomin’ and Dickeling,

Are now in the past.

These thirty years,

Have gone by fast.

 

Juneteenth is now,

A National Holiday.

My wife, Denise, born,

The very same day.

 

The banks are closed,

Or I’d enclose checks.

And today’s your best chance,

To beg for some sex.

 

Instead, you get,

Another rhyme.

But there won’t be,

A next time.

 

We know Tim’s got,

And Karen, too!

Tom Walton genes,

But “E,” NOT you!

 

I’d suggest a shot,

Or two, on a dare.

But that’s not covered,

By Medicare.

 

The bald truth,

Is under those caps.

Let’s get this over,

And return to our naps.

 

We’re still neighbors,

Though far away.

Wishing you both,

A Happy Birthday!

 

Copyright 2024 Johnstonwrites.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Write On! #2543

Twenty-one weeks have come to pass since surgery with the only remaining indications being a long scar and some mild tenderness in my chest. The gym is restoring some of my strength, but I miss the ability to simply lace up my tennis shoes and hit the streets. The chiropractor has diagnosed my leg issues as bypass sciatica and the treatments continue. I have been finally able to surpass the mile mark on the treadmill with only mild discomfort. As we prepare to be on the road the next ten days, my home exercise routines will be on hold. I know there’s a gym at the Marriott Vacation Club and workout equipment in Porland, but I’m hoping to get in several miles of walking each day. The benches at Disney World will undoubtedly become my new friend. 

I have a couple of birthday poems that I need to write on the plane ride. One will be an update from this tribute 30-years ago:

“Who’s Zoomin’ Who” became our theme,

“Four Asses,” we were quite a team.

Was wearing tights a real-life scheme?

Or was it just a silly dream?

 

We once turned on your garden hose,

And dove for Dickel, legend goes.

We Dickeled too much, I suppose,

Cause Doug blew noodles through his nose.

 

Tim, you’ve picked your friends and foes,

I’ll bet you’ve even picked your nose.

The thing you can’t pick, everyone knows,

Is a relative like Mike, and that fact shows.

 

To keep in shape you both abide,

But there’s something age can never hide.

Your body’s like a classic ride,

Shiny on the surface but rusted inside.

 

So here’s to a couple of Birthday boys,

Eat, Drink, Spend, and make some noise.

Cause he who dies with the most toys,

The winning widow still enjoys.

 

Happy 40th, Mike and Tim

For those of you that don’t know, George Dickel is a whiskey brand, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who, a hit song by Aretha Franklin, and Doug a fellow partier. To really understand, however, you would have had to be there. 

Both Mike and Tim were born on June 19th. It was tough to write at the time, because Mike was a close friend while Tim was only an acquaintance. In fact, I’m not sure that I’ve even seen Tim since then. Mike’s wife, Karen, recently posted a Facebook request to send them both greetings on their upcoming joint 70th birthday. Karen is Tim’s brother. 

Coincidentally, my wife was also born on that Juneteenth day, although a few years younger. In fact, she wasn’t yet my wife thirty years ago. I will craft her poem separately, as part of a traditional Limoges Box gift.

Fortunately, none of us have a widow.  

Write On!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Back on my Feet #2540

We got a pale and baked version, instead of the much-anticipated fried chicken last night, although my wife, in her cowboy boots, still enjoyed the line dancing. Several of our neighbors were there to join in the false advertising complaints against the homeowner’s association. The caterer, Publix, was apparently to blame. I left, with a bad taste in my mouth, in the middle of a rainstorm to take care of the dogs, taking advantage of the opportunity to get away from the crowded dance floor. 

The rain has continued this morning, while chair yoga has been cancelled because the instructor is not feeling well. I don’t think she was there for last night’s chicken. We are headed to St. Pete tonight for the Cubs game thankful that it’s an indoor stadium. My son bought the tickets, so I’m in charge of food. Maybe they’ll have fried chicken? However, I’m more inclined to Ballpark Franks. The dogs get to go to Schnauzerville, although we are driving back after the game. 

I have a wallet full of cash after yesterday’s successful visit to the coin shop. It was an easy transaction and I got pretty much as expected. Trust me, it will all be gone (and more) after this weekend’s family trip to Disney World, if not at the concession stands tonight. Orlando is the first stop on our way to Portland to visit friends and more family. It will be good to get away from the hot, steamy Florida weather in favor of the cool Northwest. Pizza and wine are on the agenda, as we celebrate my wife’s birthday with her oldest daughter and husband. 

I’m headed to the gym again today, a daily routine that has replaced running. I’ve been there every day religiously for over a month now along with some pool workouts, despite seeing the chiropractor about my painful leg issues. Walking still continues to be a problem, limited to only about twenty minutes. There will be a gym where we’re staying in Orlando, but I’m concerned about being on my feet all day in the Mouse Park. I should also be able to use my son-in-law’s equipment while we’re in Portland. Hopefully, three more visits to the chiropractor this week will help resolve the cramping and Charlie Horses so I can get back on my feet, please!

 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Coins #2538

When I was a kid about 10 years old, I became enamored with an older neighbor who collected coins and baseball cards. He showed me a 1910 Lincoln penny and told me about the rarer 1909-S-VDB. I was immediately fascinated and decided to begin a collection of my own. To make a long story short, I’m still collecting baseball cards but haven’t added to my pennies in years and never found a 1909-S-VDB. I’ve searched everywhere and have had several opportunities to buy one. Now, they are worth over a $1,000 and decidedly not worth my investment. In fact, I could just buy a fake one and who would know but me!

As a result of baseball and coins, the number 10 became special to me. In fact, my favorite player, Sherm Lollar, who played in the 1959 World Series, wore #10. I still collect his memorabilia, but coins, even dated 1910, are no longer a fascination. As a result, I’ve decided to sell all my coins and maybe buy more baseball cards. 

I currently have a Lincoln cent collection, Washington Quarters (state editions), and an assortment of change that my mother-in-law gave me. She hoarded Kennedy half-dollars, silver dollars, $2 bills, Susan B. Anthony dollars, and wheat pennies. They were kept in these cloth bank pouches that tie at the top similar to what you see in old time bank robberies. I’ve had these bags in my sock drawer for years. As I’ve searched through them, I’ve also found some Barber and Mercury dimes, Liberty & Franklin halves, a few Sacagawea dollars, Buffalo nickels, foreign currency, and a couple Morgan & Ike dollars. It’s a random assortment of coins that need a new owner. 

There’s a coin shop down the street that I’ll be visiting next week, probably to or from my chiropractor appointments. I’ll be lucky to get $1000, with a face value of $325, unless I’ve missed something during the course of valuation. It kept me busy yesterday, while there’s a sense of satisfactory closure to a childhood chapter of treasure hunting. I’m done hunting and gathering, it’s time to simplify and organize. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Eeyore #2537

The weekend has officially arrived but the kid in me is gone, at least temporarily. With cramps in one leg and a knee brace on the other I struggle to want to “go out and play.” It’s only been five months since I was running every day, but it seems like forever. Being hobbled on one leg apparently put too much stress on the other and consequently led to tenderness in my knee. Right knee…left knee…wee knee. Yes, my prostrate is an issue, too! But, enough about these old age woes. 

Will my upcoming trip to Disney World help find that lost kid within me? Or, will I continue to be like Eeyore? “Eeyore is a fictional character in the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A. A. Milne. He is generally characterized as a pessimistic, gloomy, depressed, anhedonic (pleasureless), old grey stuffed donkey who is a friend of the title character, Winnie-the-Pooh.” Did I just describe myself as an ass? “Grey” is certainly appropriate, “old” is realistic and “pessimistic” fits me well. Picture Eeyore with a brace on his knee, and that’s me, at least for the day. 

In a way, I’m not looking forward to going to the “Happiest Place on Earth!” I can no longer go on the rollercoasters after throwing out my back the last time on the Everest ride. I hate crowds and even loud children. I especially despise waiting in long lines. However, I will enjoy hanging out with my grandkids and seeing some of their favorite characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The massive expense is to celebrate their May birthdays now that school is out. The alternative, I suppose, is staying home and feeling sorry for myself. 

The kids will be in the parks, Disney and Universal, for four, hot days. I will only have to tolerate one. We will also be attending the Bluey musical in Orlando, another of my youngest granddaughter’s cartoon favorites, brought to life on stage.  At least, I can sit in air-conditioned comfort for that one. 

We’ll then be on our way to Portland, once again dealing with long lines at the airport and cramped seats on the plane – at least it’s not Peter Pan’s Flight. It will be good to see friends & family, get together for a “Leadership Meeting” again, and visit our old stomping grounds. I’m not so sure that they are looking forward to seeing Eeyore. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Hopefully, NOT! #2536

The month of June is filled with special observances starting with Flip-A-Coin Day on the first. Mine came up heads. Of course, June 6th is D-Day and a commemorative bottle of beach sand from Normandy sits on my office shelves as a reminder. June 5th was the 55th anniversary of my Elkhart High School graduation, as I was just reminded. However, I’m not able to attend the September class reunion, but will go to my wife’s 50th in August. She celebrates a 68th birthday on June 19th – Juneteenth. Any baseball fanatic like me knows that June 2nd is Lou Gehrig Day. I just bought a baseball card set honoring the occasion. 

A donut and chocolate ice cream are the appropriate ways to honor June 7th, washing down the Applesauce Cake from the day before. Rosé and shot of gin should be included in any toasts to June 8th. My wife and I also celebrate our monthly anniversary on that special day. June 9th is Donald Duck Day, and we’ll honor him as a family with a trip to Disney World the following week. My granddaughters like iced tea and the 10th recognizes that drink’s day of honor along with frosted cookies and perhaps an egg roll or two. 

We’re supposed to call the doctor on June 11th, eat corn on the cobb, and have a slice of German chocolate cake. I’ve already had too many trips to the doctor this year and the scales show too much cake consumption, so I’ll simply pay tribute to our heavenly pets. Then on June 12th, I’ll try to stay away from peanut butter cookies and maybe buy my wife some roses. As you can see, each June day has so many things to honor. The 13th might be unlucky for many of us, but at least it’s not a Friday. Stay away from ax throwing, although it’s a nationally recognized activity on this day. 

The 14th is Flag Day, as we continue to think about those who gave their lives for our country. Donating blood is recommended, but not after a shot of bourbon. I’m a “Dog Dad” to Tally and Fosse, so the 15th is my day, continuing through Father’s Day on the 16th. National Root Beer Day is the 17th, while we pay tribute to sushi on the 18th. Juneteenth calls for a martini, while a milkshake is in order on the 20th. 

Take your dog to work on the 21st, kiss it on the 22nd, and dress it in pink on the 23rd. Swim a lap on the 24th and listen to a Beatles album on the 25th. Chocolate pudding was all they could come up with for the 26th, Bingo for the 27th, and tapioca doesn’t have to share its special day with anyone on the 28th. Finally, we can end the month of June by taking pictures with your camera on the 29th and dining at a food truck on the last day. Will I repeat this silly exercise again in July? Hopefully, NOT. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Recovering…Please Wait #2535

Twenty weeks have now passed since my surgery, and I’m still struggling. Now that the ultrasound has shown no blockages in my lower extremities, the chiropractor feels that I may have a pinched nerve near my spine. Yes, the surgery has proven that I’m not “heartless” or “spineless,” as some may have accused. However, the pain that radiates through my legs have made walking very uncomfortable, a key exercise component in my recovery. The doctor put me on a stretching table, more like the rack used for torture, to relieve some of the pressure on my back and applied electrical massage to the area through a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) device. The soreness was unbearable when he then applied direct pressure with his fingers to the inside of my left thigh. This was not the case on the right side. 

It was obvious that Dr. Frankenstein “had gotten on my nerve” and that more treatments would be needed. The next two days my lower back has been stiff and sore. I’ve continued to go to the gym to use the stationary bike and rowing machine but have had to cut the treadmill time back, with cramping sensations in my left thigh and calf. I’ve tried to make up for it by walking and running in the shallow end of the pool and trying to swim the breaststroke. I’m not yet strong enough to do the laps I once swam, and there’s still some discomfort in my healing chest incisions. I’ve also had a little bit of swelling in that area. 

I’ll go back to the chiropractor next Monday and Wednesday for more treatments and will use the weekend to work out the soreness in my lower back. Sitting and lying down are comfortable, but being on my feet can be painful. It’s hard to believe that I used to run every single day before this surgery. However, the anesthesia, bed rest, medication adjustments, and slow recovery time have changed the game. Admittedly, it’s been much harder than I thought, as I struggle to even put down in words what it’s like to go through all of this. The initial intent of this blog was to be humorous, but please wait!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Costco #2534

It’s Opening Day – not baseball or football, but Costco, big news in our neighborhood. I’ve been getting gas there the past few weeks, but the store itself, or should I say warehouse, is opening today. It’s only a mile from our house, so we no longer have to drive up to Sarasota to stock up. I’m getting some pictures from neighbors of the massive line to get in, a crowd that I will avoid. However, my wife will soon be on her way, curiously anxious to see the new store and undoubtedly vulnerable to buying some things that we either won’t need or will sit on our pantry shelves or in the garage for months unused. Once there was Woodstock, now it’s Stock Up at Costco.  Fortunately, we don’t have more than two small freezers. 

Chicken pot pies, toilet paper, paper towels, wine, bottled water, Advil, and Rotisserie Chicken are the main attractions. Even on a normal day, it’s usually a zoo! They wisely waited for the new roundabout on U.S. 41 to be completed to handle the traffic. This delayed the opening for several weeks. We can get there via the back roads from our back gate, avoiding at least this hassle. It’s right across the street from where my wife substitute teaches, but she’s on summer break. Believe it or not, her dream job would be to hand out samples at Costco. We’ll find out if she actually pursues this dream.

The school and Costco may be good reason to spend the money to make our golf cart street legal. Right now, we can only drive it to the gate, but have illegally ventured further through the many new neighborhoods, golf courses, and clubhouses that have popped up around Downtown Wellen and Cool Today Park. Baseball is limited to high school, college, and Minor League use now that the Atlanta Braves have completed their Spring Training activities. A Tiki Bar is open daily between concerts and outdoor movies. The downtown area provides even more live music along with restaurants, food trucks, and retail, all situated around the lake. It would be nice to eventually expand the use of our golf cart to this area. 

Retirement dreams like this are now the sole motivation in life as we start to limit our world travels. It’s great to just stay at home and take advantage of the resort pool activities, concerts, courts, and fitness centers all currently accessible by foot or golf cart. In a few weeks, however, we’ll entertain the kids at Disney World and head to Portland for a week. Later this summer, we’ll rent a car and drive through Indiana, New York, and Maine to visit friends and family. I’ll stake my banner in Maine, claiming it as my 50th state to visit. Meanwhile, we now have Costco to entertain us.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Cartophily #2533

As I was busy curating “my sports museum” (See Post #2532), I stumbled across a set of oddball cards that I was never able to identify until just yesterday. I got them years before as part of a baseball collectors club Spring Training event that I would attend every year. The host would give us each a grab bag filled with unusual memorabilia. The backs of these cards were virtually unreadable, and I always wondered why they were included in my gift bag. The lithographs on the front, that had nothing to do with baseball, were also badly worn and required a magnifying glass to make out the words. I set them aside for a “rainy day,” that finally arrived out of boredom. It was obvious that they were very old, so I did a number of searches to determine their origin and value. The cards measure 1-7/16″ x 2-5/8″ which is considered by many collectors to be the standard tobacco card size. 

One of these cards is definitely from the N85 Duke Tobacco Postage Stamps set issued in the late 1880’s. The card stock includes an open white space where stamps of the day could be glued in place. It may very well be the oldest thing that I own, but not very valuable. There are also two other cards from the series “Types of all Nations” including China and West Indies, plus a final Duke brand titled “Barbed Loach.” These types of cards predated the popularity of baseball players. 

The letter-followed-by-number refers to the catalog designation assigned by Jefferson Burdick in his book The American Card Catalog. I have at least seven other cards in my collection from various American Tobacco Companies. The T206 is known as the “White Border” set due to the distinctive white borders surrounding the lithographs on each card. They date beginning in 1911 and considered to be the landmark set that features some of the most expensive baseball cards in history like Honus Wagner, Eddie Plank and the error cards of Larry Doyle and Sherry Magee.

Most card nuts such as me can recite the legendary story of Honus Wagner and his aversion to tobacco. He demanded that his likeness not be associated with the product, so his cards were destroyed, leaving only about 50 remaining in circulation. Supply and demand dictates that owning one is like possessing the crown jewel. 

The T205 (gold borders) was the first in the series of these baseball cards (1909 to 1911) distributed through cigarette and loose tobacco packs in 16 different brands. I also have a T207 (brown background) that started distribution in 1912 and consisted of 200 unnumbered cards, plus several variations. Finally, I own an M 101-5 from the 1916 Sporting News series. 

I then found an article written by British author, Ben Johnson, identifying this hobby of collecting cigarette cards as “Cartophily.” “They were originally given away in cigarette packets as a marketing gimmick, primarily to encourage people to buy more cigarettes. They eventually evolved however, into miniature reference books with fine illustrations and detailed texts that captured snapshots of the social history of the day.”

The origins of these cards can be traced back to 1880’s America, when blank cards known as ‘stiffeners’ were put into paper packets in order to stiffen the packaging and protect the cigarettes from being crushed and bent. Shortly after this, some bright spark had the idea of using the cards for advertising purposes by printing pictures and words onto them.”

“In 1888 W.D.& H.O. Wills became the first British cigarette manufacturer to include cards, again originally for advertising purposes; however, in 1895 they issued their first general interest set titled Ships & Soldiers. This no doubt represented the target market for their product.”

At a time when most common folk were barely literate, these beautifully produced full color cards quickly established a popular following. Cards were organised in sets, usually of between 25 – 50 cards, featuring a common topic or theme and were designed to be collected as a set.”

“The W.D.& H.O.Wills, Kings & Queens set issued in 1897, was the first to have short notes on the back to give some background of the featured monarch.”

“Other early sets include those from John Player & Sons and Ogdens cigarettes, which appeared around 1900. Subsequent sets were produced on subjects as diverse as weapons, transport, racehorses, sportsmen, etc.”

“By the early 1900’s cigarette cards had established an almost fanatical following with thousands of different sets being issued by more than 300 cigarette manufacturers, all competing with each other to sell their products and establish brand loyalty. In those days it was a common sight to see children standing outside a shop asking ‘can I have your fag card Mister’.” 

In 1917 due to a shortage of materials caused by the First World War, production of cards ceased, and they did not reappear again until 1922. Sets issued throughout the 1920’s and 30’s represented the Golden Age of card collecting, and covered almost all aspects of nature, transport, sport, etc. 

“The subjects of the cards could also reflect the moods and concerns of the times: for example, during the run up to World War II, sets were issued such as Air Raid Precautions. In contrast, other sets such as those bearing pictures and specifications of aircraft were banned by the government, presumably to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.”

“In 1940 the British wartime government again banned cigarette cards citing them as “a waste of vital raw materials”. In the aftermath of the war any hope of a return to the Golden Age of cigarette cards were dashed by rationing and the high cost of raw materials.”

In the U.S., card collecting shifted from tobacco to candy and gum, but has seen a modern resurgence in commercial distribution. Interesting enough, my observation is that the only series that seemed to lead to prosperity on the part of any cartophilist is baseball. Otherwise, it’s simply an entertaining past time. 

 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Admission is Free #2532

I’ve spent the last week reorganizing the Mike Museum. There’s now a small, framed painting of Emmett Kelly, the famous clown, done by my grandmother 50-some-years ago. I’ve also been watching the Bill Walton 30-for-30 documentary, “The Luckiest Guy in the World,” so I got down the Trailblazers basketball, wondering if it had his signature – no. It’s actually from the 2007-2008 season, long after their 1977 ABA Championship. All the Indy 500 memorabilia is back in place after last week’s race brunch. The home office is now a hodge podge of these items that I call “my museum.”

There are actually very few personal things of mine on display. Most are hidden away in binders, but there are a few sales and Toastmasters awards on the shelf, along with some of my dad’s. My pledge father’s Sigma Chi fraternity paddle is hung on the wall next to my wife’s Pi Beta Phi sorority paddle. The brass 1919 National Cash register, a reward from my first job, is not filled with money but rather dog tags, wrist bands, wine corks, playing cards, batteries, bottle openers, and other silly memories. Yes, I’m a hoarder, but everything is somewhat organized. Thousands of ticket stubs are encased behind glass. Books fill the spaces between models and bobbleheads, signed by their authors. A world globe reminds me of our travels. Jerseys, photos, and autographs are framed on the walls, even a Portland Timbers championship scarf carefully hung, plus baseball bats and balls housed in plexiglass cases. All my first-name heroes like Sherm, Reggie, Walter, Yogi, Ernie, Bobby and Babe line the walls and shelves. My favorite teams like the White Sox, Cubs, Hoosiers, Blazers, Ducks, Beavers, Boilers, Bears, and Pacers are all represented around me, as well as the venues where they played such as Comiskey Park and Assembly Hall.

The most important things, however, are mostly in binders, hidden away from view. There are thousands of sports cards, press passes, pennants, pins, photos, clippings, magazines, and posters. To many people this would all be junk, but to me it’s a lifetime. I spend many fulfilling hours keeping this stuff in order, as the museum curator. The Sherm Lollar collection, for example, includes over 300 objects from 1945 to present. It may very well be the largest in the world, but no one probably cares but me. Few people know who he is, and the baseball Hall of Fame has certainly forgotten his catching accomplishments. Today’s sport fans certainly know of Shohei Ohtani. His collection in my museum now includes in excess of 200 baseball cards. “Excess” is probably a good word to describe my hobby and Mike’s Museum, where admission is free. 

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