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.
“The Streak” continues another day, with 3.1 miles of effortless running behind me this morning. I wish there were more days like those this week where I focus more on writing ideas than counting steps or blocks. Time passes much faster when I’m distracted from the constant pounding. The compression gear keeps my legs warm in the cooler temperatures, while maybe the copper is helping with pain? Regardless, I hope this comfortable feeling lasts, even though my pace was slower today. I also spotted four pennies abandoned on the street, while apparently those eyed yesterday have found homes. Maybe, I’ll get my nickel’s worth tomorrow?
Not only has the running been good, I’ve also been very productive. Vacuuming, dusting, and cooking filled my busy schedule on Oregon election day, although we voted a month ago by mail. I heard a report on the radio that this burst of energy could be a sign of stay-at-home stress, but it’s certainly better than lethargic behavior. I was pleased to also hear that fellow voters approved increasing taxes on personal income and business profits to raise $2.5 billion over the next decade to fight homelessness. I’m reminded of this monumental challenge every morning on my downtown running route.
On the food front, one of our favorite neighborhood Italian restaurants is now open for take-out, so we’re looking forward to something different for “To-Go Night,” other than Chinese, pizza, or sliders. Plus, it’s in the building next door. We’ve maintained “Meatless Monday” throughout this pandemic. I did juicy, Wagyu cheeseburgers last night for balance, but miss our outdoor grill as a consequence of apartment living. I am back to drinking about 3/4 bottle of red wine nightly to make up for a month of abstinence, so these juices are flowing again. Thankfully, I’ve also managed to lose three pounds of the COVID five that were initially gained through stress-snacking.
I’ve had the T.V. on, but haven’t really been watching. This is clearly a positive sign. We did rent the movie, “Capone,” last night, the depressing story of his last year of life. I’m glad he was haunted by his many sins, including 33 murders. The deranged character in my mystery novel project is up to 24 and counting. I wrote several chapters yesterday, in addition to this blog. Even if I may not be good enough to sell any of my work, I certainly do enjoy the mental exercise. Running and writing are a good combination for me, especially when the juices are flowing.
In my work-week of the past, today would have been “Hump Day.” Instead, it’s just another day closer to a vaccine for the Coronavirus. I hope the “open for business” trend continues without any set-backs. The Stock Market is responding positively, approaching the 25,000 level. Plans to move to Florida and build a retirement are still on target, including a scouting visit next month. I’m encouraged that momentum is building, and my travel juices of anticipation are starting to flow.
I got my “three cents worth” on this morning’s run #4,160. I like to call them “Angel Winks,” shiny reminders of those you’ve lost in life. (See Post #183). A few months ago I would have stopped to pick these abandoned pennies off the street, but anymore they may pose a viral health threat by even touching them. I left them lay for someone else, but thought of a cousin that recently passed away. We had a couple trees planted in her honor, and perhaps she was saying “thank you.”? The common phrase has always been, “give your two cents worth,” but anymore you have to adjust for inflation. I did stop the other day when I was walking Tally to pick one up, but it was gleaming in the afternoon sun and seemed safe. I brought it home and dropped it in my collection jar after a thorough scrubbing.
It was a good run that generated some new ideas for my novel, temporarily titled “There’s no ‘A’ in Murder,” about a college student serial killer. My wife suggested I change it to A+, to further emphasize the grade. I think she’s concerned that I’m thinking about murdering her, but the main character doesn’t murder people he loves. There have already been too many times when I’m disgusted with my imagination. In fact, I’m not sure if it’s a very healthy project? However, it’s kept me away from watching excessive T.V., although it’s still on in the background. The extra work has also kept me out of the refrigerator. Instead of just the hour spent every day writing this blog, I’ve dedicated considerably more energy to the book. Much more than three cents worth!
I’ve blended in elements of sports, music, and adoption that are clearly personal, but most of the story is pure, twisted fiction. Every writer probably puts a little bit of themselves in their work, but the concern is always that those close to you will “read” more into your artistry. As I talk to my wife about the plot, she expresses worry over my current state of mind. Maybe she looks at me like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” a frightening victim of cabin fever? Joe Hill or Stephen King I’m NOT, but at least he’s been happily married for almost 50 years. His wife is used to his weirdness, while mine won’t even read this blog for fear of what she might discover about me. This is why I never use her name, just as many authors use a pseudonym to protect their identity.
It’s interesting to note that Stephen King’s son uses the name Joe Hill on his books because he wanted to succeed on his own, without the benefit of his famous father’s recognition. His work is great, and I respect him for this. However, he probably took advantage of the old man’s contacts, while initially getting into the business. Maybe the publisher fought for him to use the name King? I have never sought out a publisher for any of my work – that may very well be unworthy. I do get personal enjoyment out of working on my poems and stories. As a side note, I rarely use foul language on this blog or in my everyday speech, except when watching sports. The book gives me an outlet to express juvenile humor, cuss words, and anatomy references. I heard on the radio that four-letter words starting with “f” was a common attention-getter these days on book covers. “Thank God There’s An Ocean” was my first attempt at a novel 30 years ago. Admittedly, there are common elements in this second effort. Maybe the third time will be the charm, in order to get my “three cents worth.”?
It’s always good to get my run out of the way for the day. Any more, it’s my sole daily accomplishment, now at a consecutive 4,158. There’s at least one point on the route when I don’t think I can make the 3.1 mile distance, but somehow I push through. This morning a golden retriever joined me for the home stretch, keeping proper social distance on the sidewalk, while pulling his reluctant human forward to outrace me. My dog Tally likes to dawdle. She’s more into sniffing than running. I just read an article that claims that the best exercise for your dog is using its nose. Fittingly, Tally takes her time to “decode” a number of doggie messages hidden near fire hydrants, trees, and in bushes. She’s too busy for the actual walk.
I’ve almost finished my cheap “made in China” 1000-piece jig-saw puzzle. The cardboard is so flimsy that they’re difficult to pick-up, plus they tear easily. I’m going to tear out my hair before I finish the “hot air balloons over water” scene. To add to the frustration, all the pieces are cut in the same shape, so it could actually be completed in a hodge-podge of shapes and colors that make no sense. It is so frustrating that it may be the last one I ever do.
I also made some good progress on my murder novel, but I may have psychological problems like the main character by the time it finally gets done. It’s so creepy that I would never attach my real name to the book. Perhaps this is a sign of being stuck at home too long with little or nothing to do? I hate to keep mentioning that we would still be in Bali today if it weren’t for all the virus-related cancellations that keep us safely home. At least, it’s been raining there, with a high of 87 and a low of 76. It’s supposed to be their dry season. We would have arrived to enjoy a full week of sunshine, but the 7-day forecast now calls for rain and overcast skies, similar to Portland. We did save a lot of money by staying home, but they were dollars I would have gladly spent.
Retirement should be filled with travel, seeing all those places that you’ve daydreamed about while trying to work. Stay-at-home restrictions were the last thing I ever expected. Even this is much preferred over being stuck in a hospital bed on a ventilator or worse. I’m grateful for our health, but feel as if we’re all in a rut. As others have joked about on Facebook in reference to the movie Back To The Future, , “whatever you do, Marty, don’t take us to the year 2020.” I would love to see a movie anywhere but in my living room right now. Unfortunately, the Future is Now!
If life was normal, we would have been on a series of planes to Bali this morning. I probably would have also shortened my daily run to a mile to make the early flight. It’s now been two months since I’ve taken a running “break,” meaning less than 3.1 miles. My body seems to have weathered a two-week slump where a break would have probably been in order, but I persisted. The last three days have been relatively easy, as my pace has improved to under 12:30:00, though nothing to brag about. Actually, the average for someone my age is 13:52:00, which is what I was approaching during the slump. In the process, I made several adjustments in support, shoes, surfaces, and style. Compression gear, asphalt, a knee brace, more stretching, and arm motion have all placed a role in the improvement.
Instead of the balmy breezes of Bali, we’ll be stuck in the drizzle of Portland. Unfortunately, rain is back in the forecast after a week of 80-degree warmth. I’m sure this was also a factor in my running attitude after shedding the windbreaker for the first time in six months. Lighter and faster has made for a better experience of late, as day #4152 is now behind me. I’ll have to use my imagination when it comes to tropical sunsets, sandy beaches, and fine dining.
We hosted a Mother’s Day brunch yesterday for my wife’s daughter and her husband. Tally and Falco, got to romp in the nearby dog park. For a few brief hours, life was back to normal. We then tried to bring my car back to life, but the battery refused to cooperate. I’ll call AAA this morning, even though we don’t really need both cars these days. Then, as I sat down to print some tax forms, the printer ran out of ink, so I had to place an order. The cable signal was also starting to break-up. All was so very right for those few brief hours, but suddenly the everyday hassles were back! A Bali break will have to wait.
The hardest part about running this week has been getting all the compression gear off. I’ve got support socks, thigh sleeves, and a knee brace that all stick like glue to my sweaty body. I’ve likened my lower torso to that of a mummy, wrapped for entombment. I pull, tug, and strain to get all this stuff off after my daily jaunt that reached 4,149 consecutive days this morning. The good news is that I haven’t felt the stiffness and heaviness that plagued me for awhile. However, I still feel like my legs are going to give out in the final mile if it weren’t for all the stretchy support supplements.
I’ve gotten a pretty good start on my novel, relieving some of the stay-at-home tension. For years, I’ve threatened to write another, and too much sitting around has inspired me to get started. I’ve always wanted to write a murder mystery but didn’t realize the toll it takes. I’m not necessarily relishing having to think like a murderer and pervert. It’s often embarrassing to see in print some of the evil thoughts that come from my imagination. As part of the process, I’ve done some research on Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy, two modern-era serial psychopaths. It’s disturbing when you try to get inside their twisted minds.
In reality, the only thing I’ve killed this week is my car battery. After several weeks of letting it sit without use in the garage, there was no juice when I turned the ignition key. Apparently I left the trunk slightly cracked after retrieving some groceries last weekend and the light stayed on, slowly draining the power. Sadly, my car has become simply a storage place for our hoarded goods like paper products, water, dog food, and Diet Coke. There’s not much pantry space in our tiny apartment to keep these bulk-purchased items.
We’ll take my wife’s car out to wine country this afternoon, a long-overdue outing. It was already in the 60’s when I ran early this morning and expected to approach eighty by the end of the day. Unfortunately, there will be no wine tasting involved in this excursion. The mission is strictly to pick-up a case as part of our annual membership commitment. Normally, we go on a wine-tasting adventure about every two weeks, but it’s been since Thanksgiving, almost six months ago that we last made the journey. The wineries are only open limited hours for customer service, and like most retailers struggling to stay in business during this COVID-19 crisis. We set-up an appointment, so they will be glad to see us – unless that battery is dead, too!