Today's thoughts


My day-to-day retirement life

Retirement is not without Hassles: Checkered Past #2039

Yesterday was qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, bringing back many memories from years past. I could almost hear the words of Tom Carnegie, long time track announcer who passed ten years ago, “it’s a new track record!” Scott Dixon set a new mark for the pole position at 234.046 mph. I watched on TV from a thousand miles away, closer than the last fifteen years, having not been to the track in 20 years. We’ll celebrate this year with a race party this Sunday, treating our neighbors to the experience that was once a regular part of our lives. 

My interest in racing anymore is Conor Daly, son of Indianapolis friends. His father Derek was a Speedway celebrity back when I was involved in the sport in the mid-1980s. His mother and I worked together at WIBC radio, the voice of the 500. I last saw them in Portland when the race came to town in September of 2018. Conor led 40 laps of last year’s Indy 500 after finally securing a steady ride. He’ll start in the middle of the pack this year. I saw him from a distance at last year’s St. Pete Grand Prix. 

We’ll decorate with race flags, black & white checkered tablecloths, and memorabilia. Then we’ll all gather around the TV to sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” and wait for the “start your engines” command. Sarah Fisher will drive the pace car and the rest of the day will be a blur of brunch and booze. I’ll probably talk about my checkered past!


Retirement is not without Hassles: What’s the Rush? #2037

Another Saturday has gone and come like the snap of two fingers. While time moves fast, I move too slow. The neighborhood is quiet, as many have vacated for the summer to return to their second homes. Thankfully, this is the only one we have left to care for. I’m once again at my computer desk searching for words when life isn’t very busy. I watched Slow Horses yesterday, an Apple TV spy series written by Will Smith. I found this description: “Most of the agents on the team are happy with their jobs and don’t seem to be very ambitious. This also makes them less-than-ideal people, which is why they’re called “slow horses,” which is what they are. The show’s title is what the main group of washed-up agents are called.” We also started the series, The Offer, on Paramount Plus. 

I’m reminded of these song lyrics:

“Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy
Ba da-da da-da da-da, feeling groovy”

“Hello lamppost, what’cha knowing
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t you got no rhymes for me?
Doo-ait-n-doo-doo, feeling groovy
Ba da-da da-da da-da, feeling groovy”

“I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morningtime drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you, all is groovy”

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Paul Simon
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

I’m not sure there’s a slow bone in my body. I rush through life, seemingly anxious to get it over with. I’m not good about smelling the roses or savoring my meals. According to my wife, I also do a half-ass job on any tasks I preform. She claims that I do them poorly so she won’t be tempted to ask me to do them the next time. Maybe she’s right – what’s the rush?

Retirement is not without Hassles: Thunder and Lightning #2036

I started the day with Gatorade and M&Ms after a shortened run due to thunderstorms. It was nice not to have to deal with the heat but you could cut the humidity with a knife.  The dog park will be muddy and tap class has been cancelled so my wife will be restless. As a result, it looks like we’ll be doing some gardening with the overcast skies to protect us from the brutal sun. I’ve started a load of laundry while I write at my desk this morning. There isn’t a single thing on my Friday calendar.

We spent a fun afternoon with our neighbors yesterday to celebrate a 70th birthday. It was a surprise luncheon, although this can be a risky danger to us septuagenarians. We got a free meal out of the deal, despite only having been friends for less than a year. Made in Italy in downtown Venice served the courses and drinks that took a good three hours. I was glad for a quiet evening at home afterwards. These social occasions have a tendency to wear me out.

Tally was reluctant to go outside as I got her up this morning, and tended to hang unusually close to me as the storm passed over. She pawed me for attention and eventually curled up in the safety of my office chair. As soon as I left to run, she scampered back into the bedroom to be near my wife – her best friend. I happened to catch a dry window as I made my way around the block and did not get wet despite the overhead rumblings. I thought of the song by Imagine Dragons, even though I was more likely to spot an alligator!

Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning and the thunder, thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning and the thunder, thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning and the thunder, thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder (never give up, never give up)
Lightning and the thunder, thunder (never give up, never give up)
Thunder, feel the thunder (never give up, never give up)
Lightning and the thunder, thunder (never give up)”

“Thunder, thunder, thun-
Thunder, thun-thun-thunder, thunder
Thunder, thunder, thun-
Thunder, thun-thun-thunder, thunder
Thunder, thunder, thun-
Thunder, thun-thun-thunder, thunder
Thunder, thunder, thun-, thunder
Thun-thun-thunder, thunder”

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Alexander Grant / Dan Reynolds / Daniel Platzman / Jayson Dezuzio / Wayne Sermon / Ben Mckee
Thunder lyrics © Universal Music Corp., Imagine Dragons Publishing, Have A Nice Jay Music, Songs For Kidinakorner, Kidinakorner Music, Kidinakorner2 Publishing, Songs Of Universal Inc.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Vant Blood #2035

I remember the Bookmobile as a kid, a portable library that would come to the neighborhood encouraging kids to read. We have our own library here at the resort center where we live, although I’ve yet to visit it. It’s one of many perks that I don’t take advantage of using. We also have concerts, food vendors, classes, entertainment venues, swimming pools, fitness facilities, fire pits, dog parks, grills, and courts. Today, the blood mobile is coming for a visit and next week it’s what I like to call the cancer bus. I do take advantage of these services. Some people probably never do leave the neighborhood. However, we have a 70th birthday party to attend this afternoon that is in downtown Venice, about 15 miles away. 

Today once again feels like it should be a weekend, but it’s only Thursday. I do remember four-day Thanksgiving weekends that started on Thursday, but they were filled with many family obligations. Four-day weekends were always quite special, but now in retirement we have seven-day weekends leading into other seven-day weekends. The days run together and go by quickly. We even needed a vacation to get away from the daily routine that we naturally fall into. We only know that another week starts when we take out the trash on Sunday nights. 

I’m donating double platelets this morning, a small sacrifice to make. They are tiny cells in your blood that form clots and stop bleeding. We need them to fight cancer, traumatic diseases, and traumatic injuries. I’ll have to wait 112 days before I can do it again, but the mobile center that comes to our neighborhood makes it easy and convenient. In this case, it’s part of the Suncoast Blood Drive, and no vampires are involved. “I vant to suck your blood!”


Retirement is not without Hassles: Stay Home Part 3 #2034

I was in agreement with my wife on deciding to cancel our Viking Alaska/Japan cruise. It was still over 90 days away, so we would retrieve most of the money spent on this elaborate adventure. It just didn’t seem to fit in our current money-saving mode. I could certainly find a less expensive way to get to my 49th out of 50 state bucket list goal. Plus, after the recent experiences of several acquaintances who either couldn’t go on a cruise because of exposure to Covid or tested positive aboard and had to spend their time in quarantine on the lower deck, it was starting to look like a pricy gamble. Staying home suddenly seemed like a good idea!

We contacted our travel agent and explained the situation. It would certainly be a costly hassle for her to change all the plans. Her reply after consulting with Viking officials was “yes, we could cancel but we would have to forego $3500 in travel insurance plus a $100 each cancellation fee.” It seems reasonable enough until they told us that we would also have to give up over $7,000 in vouchers that we had earned from previous Covid cruise cancellations. For some reason, “they could not be reapplied.” Bottom line, we’ve decided to go and take our chances. Over $10k seemed like a lot to give up! Staying home was not an option, so Alaska here we come!

We also next need to rent a car for a month to accommodate our drive up to Northern Michigan in July. Both of our vehicles have too many miles and not enough leg room to make that journey, especially after transporting them here to Florida. We’ve considered selling one of them to either get a golf cart or simply operate with just one car, most likely my wife’s precious Lexus. We would save on license fees, maintenance, and insurance, but would have to schedule around each of our usage needs. It would not result in any gas savings because the Solara does not use premium fuel like the Lexus, even though the idea of scaling back to one car was a reaction to the increase in gas prices.

I usually drive only to go to the Chiropractor, as is the case today, or some other doctor appointment. I’ve also been picking up my grandson at school but that commitment will stop in a few weeks with summer vacation. My wife uses her car for shopping and various classes. We drive together whenever possible. If we get rid of a car and don’t get a golf cart right away, we would have the option of either walking or taking a bike. It would most likely be my ticket to just staying home or at least confined to the neighborhood. As my grandson just mentioned, “Grandpa, should you even be driving?” This was just after I mistakenly pulled into the oncoming turn lane. Maybe, he’s right – I should just stay home!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Searching #2033

I got up about a half-hour earlier this morning after yesterday’s bout with the Florida heat. I nearly collapsed on my run after the first couple miles with little shade or breeze and took the walk of shame the last half-mile back home. It was much more tolerable today with the sun not so high in the sky, and I easily jogged the distance. In the time change, I stole a little extra time under the covers and am now just starting to adjust to the change. It also gives me a little extra time to swim and write before my now 4-year old granddaughter soon arrives. 

I spent some time in Ban(n)ister World yesterday, adding a few more names to the Jerry Bannister Family Tree on Ancestry. There was a whole nest of Texas/New Mexico descendants that I tried to sort out, including the author of the William Lawrence Banister 1833-1898 Facebook site. There are several personal DNA links on this side of the family. I was probably inspired by the Harlan Coben book, The Match, that uses some creative ways to search for missing relatives. Genealogical sites often try to protect identity by hiding the details of the living while focusing on obituaries. When you couple this with DNA donors that provide false information about themselves and their whereabouts, it adds to the many mysteries in building a family tree. 

People die with their secrets, as will eventually be the case with my unsolved mystery of life. (See Post #2032). I continue to work with the DNA puzzle of the Ban(n)ister family, knowing that any answers probably won’t change my life. It’s simply a strong curiosity that drives me to search for answers. Perhaps, it’s my animal instincts that have given me a taste of my own blood, something that was missing from my years of living with an adopted family. Even our own dog Tally seems to be attracted to other dogs of the same schnauzer breed. Surely, this is what I’m searching for!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Covid is Cruel #2031

Covid is cruel even though now it’s more of an annoyance than a death threat. At least we were not a statistic like the one million unfortunate soles who have died from exposure to the disease. My problems are comparatively minimal and maybe even be selfish. However, it has once again changed our plans with friends, as they are unable to visit this weekend because of symptoms and a positive test. Thankfully, they were forthcoming about it, rather than discounting the hacking to be simply allergies, as too many people unfortunately do. We will miss their company, while feeling sorry that they also had to forego a much anticipated Disney family cruise because one of their grandchildren came down with it. As a result, 15 people couldn’t go and we have a refrigerator full of food in anticipation of their visit. Ours is a minor inconvenience compared to their ordeal and no one has been hospitalized. 

I did arrange for my second Covid booster last week. The spread of new strains makes me wonder if our September cruise to Alaska and Japan will ever happen. The Ukraine situation has already altered the original plan for our ship to dock in Russia. In the last year, we’ve already lost trips to Bali, St. Kitts, Spain, Russia, and Hawaii due to Covid, plus a week in Tahoe because of fires. Our Nile River cruise was also postponed until next year because of the virus. What was going to be a busy retirement flurry of travel has turned into shorter Florida getaways. We’ve done Amelia Island, Singer Island, the Keys, South Beach, Orlando, Vanderbilt Beach, and Marco Island instead. It’s good to have these beautiful resort areas nearby.

Without company this weekend, we will keep tonight’s dinner reservation and enjoy our pool. Some of the dollars we saved on these lost trips paid for the pool and lanai that we now use all the time. At least we have something to show for the money that would have been spent on strictly creating memories. Only time will tell if there will be more disappointment on the travel front, as I’m sure everyone has had their share of Covid cruelty.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Running the World #2030

By the year 2030, I could be 79 years old, and have a running streak of 22 years, as unlikely as it seems. Right now, I stand at 4,885 days or 13.37 years and sputtering. I keep a diary that goes back twenty-two years, so I can tell you when, where, and how long I’ve run on most of these days. The Streak started in Austin, Texas after a challenge by a new friend. He told me about the United States Running Streak Association and the website that lists other “streaker kooks” like myself. I’ve since lived in Oregon as well as Florida and haven’t missed a day since it all began on December 29, 2008. I did run before the streak began, but never put together more than a couple months straight of consistent daily practice. Even when I was training for marathons, I usually took at least a day or two off every week to give my body a chance to recover. My first such endeavor at this distance was October 14, 1979 in Detroit, Michigan. 

I can remember a family reunion sometime in the mid-1970s when it was suggested that I had “put on a few pounds.” The very next day, I was out running on the path through the woods behind our lake home to lose those apparently noticeable pounds. I was too embarrassed to have anybody see me doing it, although eventually it led to many races, including the crowning marathon. There were also events in Elkhart, South Bend, Plymouth, Saugatuck, Dowagiac, Bristol, Goshen, Indianapolis, Ft. Wayne, and even Chicago where I would travel to earn a ribbon or t-shirt for going the distance. 

I’ve run in at least 26 of the 48 states I’ve visited so far (41 with my  current wife) and 11 different countries. I plan to add runs this summer in Nashville, Tennessee; Asheville, North Carolina; Hilton Head, South Carolina; Alaska, and Japan. Next year, I’ll make it to Maine, my 50th state, and add that run to my total, along with Egypt. For some reason, I have not run in Kentucky, West Virginia, Delaware, Virginia, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Mexico, Mississippi, North or South Dakota, Vermont, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Maybe I can work some of these in on next year’s excursion to Maine? I have a lot more spots to cover around the world, but realistically I’m never going to get to them all, as I continue to try to run the world. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Luck #2029

It’s Friday the 13th and I’m hoping for a little luck. “On Friday, October 13, 1307, the French rounded up thousands of Knights Templars and tortured them as heretics. Some believe the date of this massacre sparked our modern-day association of Friday the 13th with bad luck.” I’ve learned all about the Knights Templars from the History Channel series, Curse of Oak Island. The Lagina brothers haven’t had much luck in their quest to find the supposed treasure buried on the island. Nine seasons have now passed with preparations for Season Ten. In the meantime, shows like Lost Gold of the Aztecs and Skinwalker Ranch try to capture my attention without much luck. 

If it wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have no luck at all” is the key lyric behind the song “Born Under A Bad Sign.” The words were written by Stax Records rhythm and blues singer William Bell with music by Stax bandleader Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. & the M.G.’s). Bell recalled, “We needed a blues song for Albert King … I had this idea in the back of my mind that I was gonna do myself. Astrology and all that stuff was pretty big then. I got this idea that [it] might work.” The lyrics describe “hard luck and trouble” tempered by “wine and women”, with wordplay in the chorus in the turnaround:

Born under a bad sign, been down since I began to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all

Lightnin’ Slim’s 1954 swamp blues song “Bad Luck Blues” contains some similar lyrics:

Lord, if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all (2×)
You know bad luck has been followin’ poor Lightnin’, ever since I began to crawl

“Born Under a Bad Sign” reached number 49 on Billboard magazine’s Top Selling R&B singles chart. It was later included on his first album for Stax, also titled Born Under a Bad Sign. The album’s cover depicts images of “bad luck signs” or common superstitions, including a black cat, a Friday the 13th calendar page, skull and crossbones, ace of spades, and snake eyes. 

British rock group Cream recorded “Born Under a Bad Sign” for their third album, Wheels of Fire (1968). The group’s record company, which also distributed Stax records, requested that they record it, according to guitarist Eric Clapton. Cream’s rendition follows Albert King’s, except for bassist and singer Jack Bruce combining two verses into “I’ve been down ever since I was ten” and an extended guitar solo by Clapton. Musicologist Robert Palmer described Clapton’s playing as “practically Albert King parodies”.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – have a Lucky Friday!


Retirement is not without Hassles: See You Later #2028

Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in a time warp where day after day is exactly the same. This is especially true in the mornings since I schedule most of my appointments during the afternoon. I get up at the same time, follow the exact same sequence of preparations for my run including stretching and push-ups, take Tally outside where I often see the same neighbors day after day, go for my run along the same route, take a short swim in the pool to cool down from the run, sit at my desk to write, and eat the lunch that my wife comes home to fix us.  It’s almost like I’m sleepwalking through life. 

This is why it was good to get away the last two weeks, even though the morning routine was similar. At least it was all done in a different setting with the beach as the focal point.  I also didn’t have to deal with the barrage of contractors, house guests, errands, and doctors that I see most afternoons. In addition, evenings are very predictable anymore. We don’t go out as often as we did while working, trying to stay on a retirement budget. My wife cooks dinner, we dine together usually on the back lanai around sunset, and we sit in front of the TV watching series after series.  Bedtime is usually 10 p.m. that involves taking Tally out for her final outing and a couple chapters of a book before sleep comes. 

My wife takes Tally to the dog park every morning, enjoys an aqua-fit class every other day, and a tap class twice a week, plus bridge and book club meetings in between. She takes advantage of the vegetable and fish guys that come once a week and does most of the shopping by herself with the exception of our joint trip to Costco once a month to stock-up. She sees her life as camp, filled with activities and friendship. I’m much more of a loner since none of my routine involves a group setting. Once a month, there’s usually a Borrego Boyz luncheon that I attend and a “Meet the Neighbors” mixer that we organize. Many of our “snowbird” neighbors are now headed back to their lake cottages up north for the summer and won’t be back until September. Us full-timers, without the responsibilities of a second home, will stick together and brave the heat. See you later alligator! 

“See you later alligator, after ‘while crocodile
See you later alligator, after ‘while crocodile
Can’t you see you’re in my way now
Don’t you know you cramp my style”

“See you later alligator, after ‘while crocodile
See you later alligator, so long, that’s all, goodbye”

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Robert Charles Guidry

See You Later, Alligator (Bonus Track) lyrics © Royalty Network

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