Today's thoughts


My day-to-day retirement life

Retirement is not without Hassles: Starbucks #1602

The streets and sidewalks were mostly clear today, with a few icy remnants of last week’s storm. Thousands of people are without power, but we remain unaffected. It was hard on my back to run in the concrete parking garage while the streets were impassable. According to experts, concrete is a much harder surface than asphalt and should be avoided. To simplify, you will leave a dent in the asphalt but not in concrete as your feet strike the surface with a force of up to six times your body weight. It’s been good the last few days to get the occasional relief of being back on the streets. Although other sources say that the cushioning of my shoes should make the two surfaces indistinguishable. Psychologically or not, I feel the difference. 

Boredom is the other factor that comes into play when you’re running in parking garage circles. On the other hand (or foot), my regular 3.1 mile course takes me through many different neighborhoods and along the scenic river path. Despite the presence of many homeless and the damage of graffiti, I still find this route to be entertaining. I also take off my mask when I run, being careful to keep my distance from others, so the cold, fresh air is invigorating. I continue to struggle with fogging-up when wearing both a mask and glasses at the same time, so when outside the apartment I often abandon my frames. However, I need them to run. There are just too many uneven surfaces that I need my full vision to navigate as I stumble along.  

I had a rare treat yesterday, a visit from a friend. We talk on the phone, text, and see each other on Zoom calls, but haven’t had the opportunity to get together for nearly three months. A year ago, it was usually once a week or so at a restaurant or get-togethers with our wives. He had an appointment at the neighboring hospital, and we talked briefly on a park bench over coffee. It was also my first visit to a Starbucks in months, after frequenting their stores for a “Grande decaf caramel latte” during the pre-retirement years. It will be nice when we all get our vaccines and companionship returns to a better shade of normal. With some regret, I will have to make all new friends in Florida, but there will always be visitors who need a sunshine fix…or coffee at Starbucks.


Retirement is not without Hassles: Takin’ It to the Streets #1601

“Take this message to my brother
You will find him everywhere
Wherever people live together
Tied in poverty’s despair”

“You, telling me the things you’re gonna do for me
I ain’t blind and I don’t like what I think I see”

“Takin’ it to the streets
Takin’ it to the streets
Takin’ it to the streets
Takin’ it to the streets
Takin’ it to the streets
Takin’ it to the streets
Takin’ it to the streets
Takin’ it to the”

I was thinking of the Doobie Brothers this morning as I returned to the streets after five mornings of running underground. It was good to get back in the fresh air and not run in circles. However, it was a bit precarious with slippery spots, giant piles of snow, and slushy ruts. Tomorrow will be better as temperatures warm. 

There wasn’t much activity on the streets of New Orleans yesterday with record low temperatures affecting the Fat Tuesday celebrations. It was apparently hardly the street party that is typically associated with Mardi Gras. I was there in 1972 – 49 years ago! It was a memorable experience, as is every visit to New Orleans. We haven’t been there for nearly 11 years – Thanksgiving of 2010. Once we move to Florida we’ll be much closer to revisiting Bourbon Street.

Our new street will be Borrego when we get settled in a few months. There will be little chance of seeing snow plows or having to run on icy surfaces. My muscles are stiff and sore after this miserable string of cold Portland days. I’m ready for some warm sunshine to ease my aches and pains. New street – new retirement life. I’m soon takin’ it to the streets of Venice. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Home Stretch #1600

Another writing milestone with this post #1600. With my one-a-day goal since retirement, I’ve more than achieved this standard. Granted, not all of them are good, especially in these times of little to do, but I come up with a gem every once in a while. I’m sure most of you are tired of my running streak updates, TV watching habits, and foiled travel plans. Today, I’ll bore you with some facts about running in the underground parking garage where I’ve spent most of my mornings this past week. The streets are still covered with ice and snow, but the Streak Show must go on! 

45 laps, 130 steps to a mile equals 3.1 miles, navigating around oil spots, concrete poles, trash, and parked or moving cars. A little over 5,800 steps, meaning my stride has now slipped to below a yard in length, as I continue to shuffle along. This was the fifth straight day of this circular madness. I counted up to ten songs on the radio before I even checked my phone for the distance. A few more laps after that I was on my way home, dodging puddles, chunks of ice, and un-shoveled snow. It will be a few more days before it all melts and I can resume my regular route down to the river and back. There’s even some patches of blue sky as  I look out my home office window. At least, we continue to enjoy heat and television, while thousands of area residents struggle without power. There’s plenty of food and wine to get us through this latest inconvenience. Happy Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday!

Two more Hitchcock movies are checked off the list, including Frenzy (1972) and Blackmail (1929). Eighteen down and seven to go, including Paradine Case (1947). Foreign Correspondent (1938), Rebecca (1940), Shadow of Doubt (1943), Strangers on a Train (1951), Psycho (1960), and Notorious (1946). I know I’ve already seen Psycho, Shadow of Doubt, and Notorious during a previous movie-thon quest earlier in my retirement. So far, I would say that Frenzy is my favorite. I’ve also tried to spot all the Hitchcock cameos in the process. Soon, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel will provide some variety, since Your Honor has run its course. 

Everything should be on track for our Florida home. The winter weather makes me long for the warmth of the South. Our final rent payment is due at the end of this month and the movers are scheduled four weeks later. Running will soon move outdoors again and the neighborhood will finally come back to life. Six weeks from now we should be making the long cross-country drive through Indiana and to our new property where we can enjoy the pool. We’re in the home stretch, baby!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Tea Time #1599

I have to call the credit card company today, after they flagged a nineteen cent fraudulent charge to Twining Tea. Was it just a test to see if the card will work on larger orders? Or, did someone really try to charge a cup of tea or maybe a single packet? As a result, I might have to cancel my card and go through the hassle of changing all my automatic charges, some of which still require a mail-in form. It’s funny – my wife just commented yesterday  about a neighborhood tea shop and how they could possibly stay in business. I suggested we call for a tea (tee) time? She thought maybe it was a Mafia front occupying a pricy piece of real estate. There is, in fact, an on-line story about how one of New York City’s last Mafia social clubs has been made over into an upscale shop selling organic tea. 

I suppose that since there’s a coffee shop on every corner there’s probably a market for tea. I don’t really drink either, but since coffee shops offer tea then it’s logical that tea shops sell coffee. There is a Tea Culture in many countries. Afternoon tea is a British custom, while tea ceremonies, tea parties, and tea houses are popular traditions. Apparently, there are also many flavor varieties including white, yellow, green, oolong, black, and dark (post-fermented). There’s also Bubble tea that originated in Taiwan where milk and tapioca balls are added to the mixture. The big question is did Mr. T drink tea?

I checked my Chase account this morning, after making a hot cup of tea, and found no indication of a fraud warning. This raises the potential for a fraudulent fraud alert. However, somebody is phishing for something, after accurately identifying the last four digits of my credit card. In the meantime, I’ll carefully monitor any activity and make some phone calls. I don’t want to cancel anything until I’m absolutely satisfied as to what is going on. The banks are closed today on this Presidential holiday but the criminals are still apparently still working. Could someone please read my tea leaves and tell me what to do?

Retirement is not without Hassles: Backyard Dreams #1598

Valentine’s Day is a time for flowers, poems, and in my case a Limoges Box gift. As my wife and I celebrate our twenty-second, it’s time to look forward to our upcoming Florida retirement life. She was so excited to have palm trees in her new yard that I found a porcelain rendering of a hammock stretched between two palms to commemorate the occasion. My tradition is to insert a special poem inside the hinged box for presentation. 

Backyard Dreams

There are Palm Trees,
On our Venice lot.
Providing shade,
When it is hot.

A hammock swing,
Might be right.
For lazy days,
Soon in sight.

Our Florida home,
Is nearly done.
Where we’ll enjoy,
The setting sun.

A gentle sway,
Will aid your nap.
While hiding under,
A baseball cap.

But unlike being,
Safe in bed.
Keep a lookout,
Watch your head.

While you relax,
And search the sky.
A coconut bomb,
Just might fly.

And down below,
The gators crawl.
So hang on tight,
Don’t slip and fall.

Plus, don’t go out,
In a hurricane.
That might prove,
To be insane.

The pool’s inside,
No worries there.
Enjoy the water,
Without a care.

Backyard dreams,
My Valentine.
I’m sure glad,
That you are mine.

Twenty-two years,
Of being in love.
But the first you’ll own,
Palm Trees above.

Copyright 2021


Retirement is not without Hassles: Hitchcock #1597

It was another winter day that required going underground. I watched several other runners navigate the plowed streets filled with ruts and tire marks. There was a time when I loved to run in the snow, but with balance issues I’m reluctant to risk a misstep. I did the short distance to the parking garage and was the only activity on the lowest level. The Streak continues at 4,430 consecutive days. I’m now in front of the television set waiting for the I.U. game against Ohio State to start. I have an ominous feeling, concerned about another poor shooting performance. 

We continued our Hitchcock marathon last night over a Sorrento’s pizza, the only restaurant open on our block. The snow is at about five inches with several layers of crust underneath. This was supposed to be a big Valentine’s weekend for area dining establishments, as capacity restrictions were loosened. Instead, Mother Nature reared her ugly head. I continue to empathize with the food business in these tough times. Last night’s Hitchcock thriller was The Wrong Man (1956) and the start of Spellbound (1945). We’ve already seen Lifeboat (1944), Dial M for Murder (1954), Suspicion (1941), North By Northwest (1959), The Lady Vanishes (1938), To Catch a Thief (1955), Marnie (1964), Rope (1948), The 39 Steps (1935), Rear Window (1954), Saboteur (1942), Vertigo (1958), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and The Birds (1963) over the last month.

I received a couple of e-bay shipments today containing sports collectables. One was postage due and did not include an item presented in the offer. I’m in a sour mood on dealing with this after a poor I.U. half of turnovers, shot clock violations, and missed bunnies. I hope the day gets better. At least I have heat unlike some of my friends. There would be nothing worse during this pandemic than no TV or heat to go with it. Although, I wouldn’t have to watch this game or look for Hitchcock cameos.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Garage Run #1596

Ice and snow overnight made the streets and sidewalks slippery this morning. For the sake of caution, I took my running game indoors, down in the bowels of the Good Samaritan Hospital parking garage. It was sheltered and dry with very little activity, about fifteen laps to a mile. Without a functioning I-Watch, I have no idea how far I ran in forty-five minutes, but my legs ache from the concrete. Asphalt is always a better alternative but necessity prevailed and day #4429 now history. More snow will continue to fall throughout the day, making the upcoming move to Florida even more appealing. 

I was forced to do the same thing last year during the annual winter storm here in Portland. It’s usually just a dusting, but this is a little more treacherous. At least we no longer live on an icy hill that required crampons to navigate safely. You took your life in your hands going down our former  driveway. I remember being dragged down it by the dogs a few years ago. It’s flat downtown and we really don’t need a car to get supplies, so we’ll simply wait this one out. This morning, I had memories of Austin, Texas and the torrential downpours that would lead me to a nearby parking garage. It was much smaller, just one level and twenty-five laps to a mile, but kept me dry on those rainy days. It was not as confined as the Root Beer Barrel overhang that I once ran under in a Rochester, Indiana rainstorm that was more like forty laps to a mile.  Having a treadmill, solved this problem on other inclimate days, but I prefer to be outside whenever possible. Overall, running everyday requires some innovation on occasion. 

I’m looking forward to the Zoom Leadership luncheon meeting today. We’ve been texting back and forth during basketball games this week, but it will be good to see some smiling faces. I bought a 16-oz Coors Light for the occasion, when we’ll share progress reports on our home projects. I spoke with our project manager down in Florida yesterday, and the first coats of paint are going on the interior walls. He did not expect any more delays going forward, so we’re still anticipating a March 23rd completion date. With a fitness center in our new community, parking garage runs will be strictly a travel necessity in the future. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: BIG Dogs #1595

The last few days have started with two wild and crazy dogs, as Tally’s doggy niece Falco is visiting. There are nine years difference in their ages but Tally always revisits puppyhood in her presence. They are also much braver as a pair, barking in tandem at every other dog in the neighborhood. Falco is always impatient to go outside once I get up, accustomed to living with a younger, working couple used to getting up earlier. I have to alter my routine to accommodate her demands, so push-ups and sit ups have to wait until she’s done her duty. Then, finally, I get a peaceful hour of running, free from any dog responsibilities. This makes my morning trek more of something to look forward to rather than regret. 

As taking care of two dogs takes extra time, so did yesterday’s I.U. basketball overtime victory. They squeaked by a marginal Northwestern team after what looked like certain disaster. The team was getting heavy criticism about a 2-9 record following wins over rated teams, a sure sign of letting down. The surprising home and away upsets over #8 Iowa last weekend had them only slightly favored over the Wildcats yesterday, who had lost nine straight games, so certainly the Hoosiers weren’t underestimating the importance of this road game. Also, Northwestern had already beaten them in December at Assembly Hall. It took double overtime to seal the victory, after Indiana struggled for most of the game, only leading for a total of 14-seconds in regulation and at one point falling 14-points behind, including six straight missed free throws. I.U. didn’t score in the first five-and-a-half minutes and only had seven points in the first thirteen, limping into halftime with a controversial twenty-points after a replay ruled that time had not expired on a fast shot clock violation. 

In games this season, the anemic first half offense has not clicked with only 19 against Texas in the opener and 21 versus Maryland. Without the favorable replay, this would have been the lowest output of the year. The reversal also accounted for Trayce Jackson Davis’ only points in the first half. Plus, just like the Iowa game, I was constantly on the edge of my seat after so many failed opportunities to close out the game.  It took a career scoring high 24-points from Armaan Franklin, a critical three from just out of the doghouse Jerome Hunter, and a 7-0 personal run by Al Durham, including critical free throws, to stop the 2-9 bleeding. 

The edge of the chair awaits again this weekend with a visit to #4 Ohio State. We’ve got to find a way to score, cut down on turnovers, and hit some free throws to have a chance. These are the three factors that have plagued us all season. Two straight victories is the longest streak the Hoosiers have been able to manage this season, with only six match-ups left to play. Covid has prevented road games against both Michigan and Michigan State, but both teams come to Bloomington before this year is over. I still think we’ll be fortunate to go 3-3 in this final stretch for a mediocre 9-9 conference record, as I’ve predicted from the start. I also foresee more Overtime nail-biters in my future. The once dominant Cream & Crimson are going to the BIG dogs!


Retirement is not without Hassles: Quarters from Heaven #1594

Another quarter for the change kitty found this morning, the second of this week. It seems appropriate during the week of what would have been my parent’s 100th birthday. Finding quarters has been rare after searching the streets for nearly twelve years of streak running. Pennies used to be my goal before the pandemic struck, feeling they are no longer worth the health risk of picking them out of the dirt. (See Post #183). I simply acknowledge them as a wink from a guardian angel when I pass and now only stop for silver coins. I’ve only found paper money on a couple of occasions and have yet to find a debit card. If pennies are supposedly such a valuable heavenly find, then what are quarters worth?

Finding coins on the street is usually considered a sign of good fortune and foretells something good happening soon in the life of the finder. Due to this belief, many people consider coins as their good luck charms and believe that they bring them luck in various life situations.”

As a coin collector, here are some hard to find quarters really worth (ranging up to $20,000) looking for:

  • 1796 Draped Bust Quarter, Small Eagle Reverse.

  • 1804 Draped Bust Quarter, Heraldic Eagle Reverse. 

  • 1823 3 Over 2 Capped Bust Quarter.

  • 1870-CC Liberty Seated Quarter. 

  • 1871-CC Liberty Seated Quarter. 

  • 1872-CC Liberty Seated Quarter. 

  • 1872-S Liberty Seated Quarter. 

  • 1896-S Barber Quarter

Pennies are not always a daily find and quarters quite rare, so I always appreciate the moment, regardless of the value, and think of those lost in life. However, to find something worth at least twenty-five times in worth makes up for all those unfruitful days. As an interesting twist, I also found this perspective: “In some contemporary cultures, finding a coin on the ground is seen as a symbol of good luck. But, that is often restricted to coins that are heads up. Coins that are tails up can bring bad luck.” I believe mine was a heads-up quarter this morning, but I don’t typically pay much attention, especially after going to the trouble to bend down to pick it up. It interrupts the flow of my run, so I’m never going to that trouble without at least flipping it over to the right side. It’s been a week of Quarters from Heaven – thanks Mom and Dad!


Retirement is not without Hassles: Cold #1593

I was listening to the song “Cold” on the radio this morning, wondering about the artist. I had to finish my run to Google the answer: Chris Singleton. It seemed appropriate considering the chance of snow in the Portland forecast and a winter fog lingering in the air. As I learned yesterday on my Word of the Day calendar, I was experiencing a pogonip. All I could dream of was next year at this time living in Florida. Despite the chill, running has been very rewarding this week with the discovery of a quarter and two dimes on the downtown streets, nearly enough to buy a stamp. Today, #4426, was fruitless, not even a penny.

I have a bunch of paperwork and a credit card form to fill out for North American Van Lines. They were the winner of the moving lottery, over two other competitors for the honor of moving our stuff across the country. It’s a pricy ordeal, more expensive than buying my first tiny house. The only things they won’t move are our dog Tally, the liquor supply, perishables, and household cleaners. We’re doing our best to finish off these items, especially the wine. Tally will ride with us in our remaining car as we stop to stop friends and family on the 3,000-plus mile journey. Hopefully, it will be the last of cold weather that we will see for awhile.

I’ve already booked dog friendly hotels in Ogden, Utah and Burlington, Colorado for early April. We’ll spend the first night after the move here in Portland, at the Residence Inn where we lived the first couple weeks of our first days in the city. We don’t know how long the loading process will take that day, so we’ll start driving East the next morning. Several days will be spent in Indiana at about the half-way point of our journey. Tally will get to visit with her dog cousins while we’re there. From the point, we’ll head South through Atlanta. We’ll have to time our drive to coordinate with the moving truck’s ultimate arrival at our new Venice, Florida home to supervise the unloading process. 

Instead of cooking tonight, I’ll be heating up leftovers. We continue to try to conserve on expenses, knowing there will be plenty of them once we get to Florida. Plantation shutters, custom built-ins, wine replenishment, bar stools, guest bed, pool chairs, and lighting will be the move-in spending priorities. We’ll need to get set-up quickly in anticipation of visitors, also seeking warm weather. In the meantime, it looks like the possibility of snow during the week ahead. Burrrrrr! It’s Cold!

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