I went penniless on this morning’s run with moments of gratitude that I’m able to do this every single morning without fail. I’m suffering from what I think is a stress fracture or possibly shin splints on top of my left foot and have switched to the other side of the road crown to relieve some of the impact. Ice before and after seems to help, while the fresh air revives my spirits. It’s tough being stuck inside all day, so the forty-five minute stretch of exercise is essential to my mental health. I’m fortunate that my foot injury is not getting any worse. Aging leads to lots of new aches and pains, and hopefully this too shall pass.
My wife and I finally finished House of Cards and have moved on to Yellowstone. It’s my second time to watch the Kevin Costner production, but wanted a refresher on the first two seasons before investing in the third. It’s good that we find something to watch together every evening since the rest of the day we’re often on different paths. I have finished my A Killer novel at 80,000 words and will hopefully find a couple volunteer readers before I do any more refining. This has kept me from going insane from the pandemic isolation, but has also exposed a degree of hidden personal insanity through the characters.
Speaking of insanity, I heard an alarming story on the radio this morning. There are rumors of COVID-19 parties down in Alabama. It’s the modern version of Russian Roulette, with the virus substituted for a gun. To play, you invite a group of friends over to your house, along with people who have tested positive. There’s a cash reward for anyone who catches it! “I wanna party with you,” if you’ve ever seen the movie Stripes? These folks are just as insane as I am, trying to maintain a silly personal streak that’s been part of my life for the last 11 1/2 years.
From another perspective, Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Some people might say that if your foot hurts, why not rest it for a few days and allow it too heal. Why expect it to heal by repeating the same action that caused it? Granted, running with pain is insane, but I would counter by saying that not running just might drive me crazy. I wouldn’t expect anyone to understand why 4,204 consecutive days is important to me. Maybe insanity all starts with running every day?
This morning I reached the 4,200 consecutive day mark of my 11 1/2 year running streak. It’s daunting to think that it will take another 2-years and 2-months to reach 5,000. On September 6, 2022, 10 days after my 71st birthday, I will get there. When I look at the current active list on the runeverday.com website, 147 people have already achieved that mark. I stopped to pick-up a dirty dime in celebration, a coin I had passed many times this week. Not a day has gone by of late when I haven’t found at least a few pennies abandoned on the streets. My new rule is that if they’re still there after a few days, I’m going to give them a home.
This is actually an indication that I’m getting a little more comfortable with the germs around me. There was a time when I wouldn’t have thought twice about picking up a homeless penny. However, after months now of hand scrubbing, social distancing, mask wearing, and passing by dirty money, I’ve loosened my standards on abandoned coins, especially if they’re silver. The dime qualified! I brought it home, sanitized its surface, and deposited it in the coin jar for a rainy day. I know this is living dangerously, but a game worth playing. If I had a put a dime in the jar for every run so far, I’d be $420 richer. Even a penny a day would be a $42 bonus. Pennies may still not be worth the germ risk, even if you consider them to be a wink from an angel. (See Post #183).
As I look forward to the next 800 days, it’s really one day at a time. There’s 26 days until we drive to Walla-Walla and into Glacier National Park. We decided not to risk the now inaccessible Canadian border in favor of a U.S. hotel. It’s another 37 days until we start our trek to Florida. Add 41 more days and we’ll be in Egypt, tack-on 60 for Hawaii, and suddenly the year is over. The new year will start in Florida, with a side-trip for my wife to St. Kitts, followed with our move and a journey to Spain. It will take a lot of dimes to get all of this done. One thin dime at a time!
A few days ago, I had an “Ear Worm,” a song that I couldn’t get out of my head – probably best described in a poem that I once wrote. (See Post #607). It’s still in there – I know – but I don’t remember what it was, so I’ve been anxious for it to come on the radio again. I find it funny that something that kept replaying in my mind is suddenly forgotten. Maybe my worm got stuck in the bottom of a bottle of tequila?
I’ve had a very good running attitude these past few weeks. I’m approaching the 11 1/2 year mark of “The Streak,” and will soon pass the 4,200 day mark. A month ago, I was struggling with concrete body parts (See Post #1294). My feet, thighs, and legs felt heavy, while every step was cumbersome. Lately, I’ve been in a much better rhythm, so my daily journeys have been much more pleasurable. As I was trying to get out of this former funk, I changed shoes, surfaces, knee support, medication, and added compression gear. One or more of these adjustments has worked. I’m feeling better than I have in some time.
I did get my hair cut yesterday, and my weight is down thanks to my wife’s modified Weight Watchers program. The loss of all those heavy curls also probably helped. (See Post #1362). It was another unusual experience in these viral times. Face masks, thermometers, appointments, waiting outside, keeping distance, and sterilization make conducting business awkward. Today, I’m headed to the hospital for some tests. This will also be an uncomfortable, stressful situation.
Mandatory mask wearing went into state-wide effect today. I will respect the indoor rules, but I won’t wear a mask when I run or take the dog out. I feel like I can keep enough distance from other pedestrians even though many will consider my actions to be irresponsible and selfish. I still can’t imagine working out in a gym with a face mask. Deep breaths are what exercise is all about. I’m glad that jogging, or slogging in my case, is primarily an outside activity and that I can outrun the virus. I go faster when I imagine it chasing me. Just kidding! Who is that masked man?
The running streak now stands at 4,188 consecutive days, with little other activity throughout the week. I’m now finding that masks are now the most common litter found on the street. There are also more and more boarded up business fronts. These are signs of the times. We’re currently in self-quarantine after a week of travel and once our dog Tally spends time at the groomer this afternoon, I’ll be the only shaggy dog left in the family. Long hair with touches of gray – another sign of the times.
We continue to watch House of Cards, having now surpassed the episodes we saw years ago. The two of us really miss our movie matinees and dining out. Trips to the grocery stores are my wife’s main source of entertainment. She has a birthday coming up in a few days, but it will not be the scope of past celebrations. Flowers are on order and a gift is in the mail. She wants to go to Nonna Emelia for Italian comfort food, a very conservative choice for her. A lot of money has been saved these past few months after cancelling trips, using points, and being limited to carry-out food options – all signs of the times.
Through the end of this month we’ll try to stay at home as much as possible, with respect to limiting any exposure to others. I can still easily keep my distance while running and airing Tally. The next travel plan is 39 days away – the next flight about 80 days off. It could all change quickly with the times, but it’s good to have something more than Netflix to look forward to in the future. Uncertainty continues to be the biggest sign of the times.
I’ve reached another blogging milestone- Post #1150 on day #4183 of the running streak. All these numbers are my way of keeping track of the quickly passing days of my life. This past week has gone particularly fast with all our hard work in finding a permanent retirement resting spot. The location represents the final leg of our lives that in some ways have gone full-circle. We will live within ten minutes from my son. This hasn’t hasn’t happened in about 45 years when he was still living in my house. He tried to originally escape from me during college but here were are in Florida just miles apart, starting in March of next year. Coincidentally, I will be living just miles from where my grandparents retired in Englewood, and going to the same beaches I did as a child.
To celebrate, I played golf this afternoon with my son and grandson on what was essentially a Par-3 cow pasture but certainly good enough for my skills. There were no cow pies to dodge. My wife gladly went to the beach just a few miles from where we settled on soon building our retirement home. My two granddaughters and their mother joined us for fun in the hotel pool yesterday afternoon. Before this we had only enough time for a couple of evening meals with them as we combed resort-style properties from north of Tampa to Venice. We’re flying in and out of Orlando so we’ve gotten a good cross-section of the Sunshine State with barely time enough for fast-food breakfast or lunch. In all, we visited twelve different communities. Each night we discussed the pros and cons without that “this is it” feeling. In the back of our minds, we were holding out for the last stop, believing on paper that it might be the best fit. It could have also turned out to be a big disappointment, forcing us return in a few months with a new plan.
After debating proximity to airport, closeness to family, home styles, builders, near-by food options, lot locations, availability, construction timetables, and beach access, we think we’ve found our pot of gold. It’s a beautiful property with landscaped paths over Venetian-style bridges. Our lot would back up to a small pond with no other homes in the sight path. No one will be able to build in the preserve across the street and our private road ends in a cul-de-sac. Three blocks away they are building a direct access road to the nearby beaches. However, what really sold me is the Atlanta Braves Spring Training facility just outside our gates. We’ll be able to operate with one car and a golf cart, with easy access to the supermarket, restaurants, clubhouse, pools, recreation centers, dog park, and ball park. There’s something for each of us to the point that we never needed to discuss it before saying “yes.” Hopefully, we can get through the financing and building processes without too many hassles. It will truly be a year-round vacation home – the pot of gold we’re sure we’ve found!
In this brutal Florida heat and humidity, I now have two reasons to stay away from people. First, is the possibility of spreading the virus. A mask certainly aids in prevention, plus helps contain bad breath. I haven’t been close enough to smell garlic on anyone in months. My wife and I stay away from it even at the risk of vampires. Some people just reek of it! The second reason for keeping my distance is the threat of my own body odor after sweating profusely. I would not want to expose anyone to that unpleasantness. I’ve come back to my room every morning after running absolutely soaked from perspiration. It then takes days to dry properly. I will probably need three outfits tomorrow if we play golf.
We got only about 5 minutes to enjoy the beach yesterday between tours of housing communities. It’s odd to be in Florida and not have time for beach play. We grabbed lunch between meetings and only had time to check-in to our hotel room before rushing to dinner. It was by far the most active day I’ve had since retiring over three years ago. The beach excursion was actually part of our research to see exactly how far it might be from house to beach. It took about 8 minutes. Proximity to the sand is one of the most important factors in selecting our community.
We do not necessarily want to live on the ocean because comfortable square footage for everyday living is not affordable. Our goal is travel and we can’t do both on our life-savings. The Marriott Vacation Club ownership will allow us to stay directly on a fabulous beach anytime we want. All the resort-style communities we are looking at will be affordable enough for us to have a private pool and easy access to a recreation center. They are also in areas not nearly as isolated from restaurants, movie theaters, and retailers as the beach. We may have to dip into our savings a bit deeper than we originally hoped, but at least we’ll have a solid investment to show for it. By tomorrow, we should have a decision on where we’ll spend the rest of our lives.
Running here in Florida is like taking a steam bath with your clothes on. It was only 80 degrees with a slight mist off the waterfront; enough to thoroughly soak my shirt. In Portland, the same distance barely breaks a sweat. The perspiration makes you feel like you got a better workout. Also, nothing ever dries so you can’t wear anything more than a day unless you exercise in air conditioning. However, the real sweating on my part came when decisions were being made on our final dwelling, with the exception of maybe a Nursing Home.
The search continues down the Gulf Coast. We’ve covered ground from north of Tampa to Venice, with a few more stops just south of here. All of our hotel stays have been courtesy of Marriott Rewards points and the flights discounted through Alaska Air. $300 for dog sitting, $500 in meals with the grand kids, and $50 in airport parking our only expenses, plus excessive tipping under the circumstances. That’s nearly a full week under $1000, well below the $1,000/day norm for the two of us. This, of course, is not a vacation but rather all business, visiting 13 potential building sites. It’s been McDonald’s for breakfast, Arby’s for lunch, and family dinners of pizza, sushi, or Cracker Barrel. Nothing fancy and no souvenirs, a travel record in frugal spending!
The sweat drips due to the morning 3.1 miles runs and the budget considerations of design costs. We’re pricing out models, elevations, location, pools, gourmet kitchens, tile, paint, windows, doors, and lanais – just for starters. We will soon sweat it out with mortgage brokers and financial advisors. Will we ultimately pick an established community or one just getting started? How much will this investment eat into our future travel plans? Will I need more deodorant to get through this all? We will get through this life changing process for the better. As it continues, I have to keep in mind that there is only a single vowel difference between Sweet and Sweat!
“The real McCoy,” according to Wikipedia, “is an idiom and metaphor used to mean “the real thing” or “the genuine article.” The source also adds that “during Prohibition, Florida rumrunner Bill McCoy was known for selling the good stuff. In other words, he never watered down his booze (the way most bootleggers did back then) to increase product. When his customers wanted the best rum, they may have requested it by his name. Or, the phrase might apply to inventor Elijah McCoy,born in Canada in 1844. He had many different inventions including an ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. In fact, there are so many different false or contrived etymologies that no one really knows the “Real McCoy.”
I thought of the phrase this morning when I was out running. The temperature and conditions were pleasant enough on day #4,176, but I felt like an old man. Walter Brennan came to mind for some odd reason. He was actually about 5 years younger than I am now when he starred as Grandpa Amos McCoy on The Real McCoys, a sitcom about a poor West Virginia family that relocated to a farm in Southern California. It was a hit, ran from 1957 to 1963, and obviously made a big impression on me as a 6-12-year old. The show apparently defined for me what an “old man” should look and act like. Well, now I’m five years older than an “old man.” It shows when I run.
In preparing for another role, a friend suggested that he put a rock in his shoe to create a limp. Brennan did so and that is how he learned his rather genuine-looking fake limp. This is the reason why I thought of him this morning, as I plodded along like Grandpa McCoy. I don’t think I was limping, but it sure felt like there was a rock in my shoe. Anymore, I guess I’m more of a limper than a sprinter. And to think, even that trademark Walter Brennan limp wasn’t “The Real McCoy.”
Some people will do anything to get away from this virus. Yesterday, Elon Musk owned SpaceX launched two astronauts into orbit for the first time in nearly a decade. Hopefully, Coronavirus does not spread to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, earth people seem to have nothing to do but riot. I spotted a broken window in a downtown business this morning on my run. It’s quite a contrast when you compare the two extremes. One a great achievement and the other a waste of time and resources. Both had large crowds that gathered, many hiding behind masks for protection, while others used them to disguise their actions.
Today was the 80th straight 5k that I’ve run, dating back to our last airline trip. I’ll get in five more before next Saturday’s early morning flight to Florida will shorten the effort to the minimum mile. Regardless of the distance, it’s now been 4,172 consecutive days and counting since I started “The Streak” nearly 11 1/2 years ago. Speaking of streaks, it’s also been 72 stay-at-home nights of self-quarantine. There is optimism, with some of the adjacent counties finally open for business, we’re ready to escape for an afternoon of wine-tasting. We’ll also have a sit-down meal in a restaurant for the first time in two-and-a-half months.
Florida has been open for over a month, while our home county of Multnomah is still at least two weeks away. Once we get to the Sunshine State we’ll be able to give up our to-go ways and actually get a haircut. We’re on a new home quest that can’t wait any longer. As a result, we’re willing to take a health risk on planes and in airports. I hope we’re doing the right thing. It will also be great to see my family, including the two recent birthday girls. It’s Florida or Bust!
I purposely passed-up a dime and a penny on this morning’s run – #4,165. In 11.4 years I’ve never missed a day. There was a time when I wouldn’t have thought twice about picking up “dirty money.” Anymore, I just leave it on the ground for someone else to spend. My wife knows I’m always looking for lost change, and so occasionally she’ll come back from her dog walks with a gift for me. The other day it was that nickel I was looking for, after running by four pennies the day before. The nickel was nearly unrecognizable, but I have it soaking in Diet Coke to remove the tarnish. It’s the same Diet Coke that probably eats away at my stomach lining every day, another of my daily habits.
The run itself was not smooth going. I even tripped at one point. My skinny legs are still wrapped in compression gear and seem unsure of themselves. There had been some improvement earlier this week, but they were stiff and sore today. I was surpassed by some young women in the park that made me look like I was standing still. I just kept plugging along, slogging as I like to call it. It felt like a really slow pace, but my finishing time was normal. Needless to say, it was not a memorable Memorial Day experience.
Now that the run is behind me, I can concentrate on writing. My book attempt is really stretching my imagination. Blogging has been challenging, with little to write about these days. We had pizza again for dinner last night, at least from a new place. Our big outings yesterday were taking our dog Tally to and from the groomer and picking-up some ice cream pints from Salt & Straw. TV night was another episode of Homecoming. The pizza pick-up was just across the street, and I responsibly disinfected the dirty money with a Clorox wipe.
Today will not be any more creative. It’s a different day with the same old snacks. Lucky Tally is feeling spry with her new haircut, while the rest of us remain shaggy. There are some signs of blue sky, as I bemoan the fact that there will be no Indy 500 to watch until maybe August. Other than today, it’s memorable to note that the only other times the race was cancelled since its inception in 1911 were during the 5 war years. It’s a different kind of war these days. The dirty money is on the Chinese.