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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.

Old Sport Shorts: Icing on the Cake #1964

For Indiana basketball this season, no second-half lead ever seems comfortable. It was a 27-point margin at the 13:49 mark after a Jordan Geronimo dunk with the score at 53-36. Minnesota scored an incredible 43-points from that moment on, one every 19.3 seconds, including 6-threes in the last seven minutes. It was nearly another Hoosier collapse, this time at Williams Arena, maybe even greater than against Wisconsin in Madison, except this time they held on for victory. IU even reached the magical sixty mark at 11:55, up by twenty-two. but it all came down to Xavier Johnson free throws for a narrow 84-79 win. The Golden Gophers had cut it to three, a one-possession game, with :05 remaining.

Regardless of the final score, IU got its third conference road win and evened their BIG record at 9-9. Most tournament experts considered them to be one of the last four teams in, with two regular season and at least one BIG tourney game remaining on the schedule. Both IU and Rutgers (10-8), sitting on that scary bubble, would meet in Bloomington next to earn a decisive edge from the selection committee. Michigan at 9-8 was also a factor in the overall scheme of conference opponents that might make the Big Dance. Was there room for nine BIG teams?

I don’t think anybody’s counting on IU to beat Purdue again this season, especially at Mackey on Senior Day with the conference title on the line. Most Indiana fans would be content with simply a win over Rutgers and an elusive invitation to the NCAA Tournament. Maybe we could even get revenge over Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa or Purdue to put some extra icing on the cake. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Much To Lose #1959

In a blink, it’s 1959 and I’m eight years old. President Eisenhower and Nikita Khrushchev sat at a state dinner with their wives that year – could there be world peace? No – Russia is in the news still today, declaring war on the Ukraine. America is growing with the addition of both Alaska and Hawaii as states in 1959. Plus, NASA announced the “Mercury Seven,” as the space race between the two rival countries begins to take form. We’re supposed to visit both Alaska and Russia later this year on a Viking Cruise from Vancouver to Tokyo. Will war somehow jeopardize this trip, as Covid and fires have claimed others?

I signed up for the Wellen Park St. Patrick’s Day 5k, another neighborhood race to further support our community. Tonight is Hippie Fest, a fundraiser for Relay for Life, an additional way to interact with my new neighbors. My wife’s youngest daughter and husband arrives tomorrow evening. We pick them up at the Tampa Airport after I finish my stint babysitting for my granddaughter. On Sunday, I’m headed to St. Petersburg for the Indy Car Grand Prix. It will then be a busy week of family dinners and entertaining guests. 

Tonight is also another make or break game for the Indiana Hoosiers. They face Maryland hoping to break a five-game losing streak. Because of Hippie Fest, I won’t be forced to watch it but will keep an eye on the score. Maryland was the last team that they beat, so there’s little to gain and much to lose. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: There’s Always Next Week #1938

I was up early these last two morning for both an airport run and granddaughter sitting. It meant two straight days of running only the minimum mile and foregoing the swim. Temperatures are starting to warm up after the great Florida Freeze of 2022. Thank you for any concerns about my well being during this difficult cold spell- it will be back in the eighties soon and my routine should return to normal.

I did get to see the sunrise both mornings with these early starts, while Friday, Monday, and Today have been welcome breaks from the standard 5k distance. I have appointments with both the chiropractor and acupuncturist this week to work on my hip pain. Yesterday, was the eye doctor, another professional benefitting from my old age woes – retirement is not without hassles.

Today, the Borrego Boyz have our monthly “Leadership Meeting,” as neighbors get together for food and beer. There is also a “Meet The Neighbors” event this Friday on our busy social calendar. My wife continues with bridge, tap, and water aerobics in an attempt to satisfy her restless nature. We’ve started to watch Ozark Season Four in the evenings, while my bedtime reading is The Paris Detective by James Patterson (not very good).

My oldest granddaughter is off to school this morning, while the youngest has yet to wake. I’ll feed her some cereal before her dad gets back from work in a few hours. We’ve yet to find a slot for “Matinee Monday” in this week’s schedule, so it’s doubtful that we’ll go to a movie, as if there’s something that we’re both burning to see. There’s always next week.

Retirement is not without Hassles: The Sitter #1765

Up at 5 a.m. and out for a short run. Swim. Write. Trying to stay quiet so I don’t wake everyone up. I feel like I should be rushing to catch a flight, but I’m doing this to take a morning shift with the grandkids. Originally, it was going to be a couple of hours but now a half-day. I’m not very good at this – not sure how to keep them entertained? I know it’s just two little girls – how much trouble could that be? In all fairness, having lived so far apart for all these years there’s yet to form a comfortable relationship. It will also be a long day with an evening drive down to Punta Gorda for Date Night at Carmelo’s. Up early…out late…far from routine. 

The other grandparents take their turn – more than their share. Certainly, I’ll get better at this as time goes on because practice makes perfect. The youngest is three and her sister twelve, practically a teenager. I seem to be afraid of kids, reluctant to pick up a new born. However, I did feed my nine-month old great niece last weekend, but she too was wary. I’ve only had one instant bonding moment with a child and that was a great nephew in my role as GUM (Great Uncle Mike). He was drawn to me for some reason, but sadly I won’t probably see him again for years. 

Everything is shorted this morning, including this post. I have to get ready for what will surely be the longest four hours I’ve ever spent. It’s only a twenty minute drive to my son’s house, as I’ll look forward to the drive back, after my sitting duties are complete. Others look forward to time with their grandchildren, but if I’m being completely honest, I’ve yet to get to that point and feel guilty for my current shortcomings as The Sitter. 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Westward Ho #1717

The Westward Ho was the first hotel I ever stayed at in Las Vegas – must have been nearly 45 years ago. It closed 15 years ago. I thought of it this morning as we boarded our Alaska flight to Seattle, apparently the only way to get from Tampa to Oakland. We did enjoy the convenience of walking directly from our Marriott room to the gates along with TSA-Pre boarding. Since construction surrounded the hotel, I used the fitness center to get my quick early morning mile in, extending The Streak to 4,554 consecutive days. It’s the first time I’ve run on a treadmill in years, but sometimes the only option when you’re traveling. There was one other person in the gym at 4:30a. This blog is my other daily discipline that I’m in the process of completing while waiting to board at 6:30a.

It will be a long day of sitting on planes during the ten-hour duration. I’ll pass the time reading the book Fracture, although it’s a two-volume story that I partially already ruined by mistakenly starting on the sequel called Vengeance before realizing the error. My seat naturally is next to two large people with little maneuvering room. It’s only 5 hours of claustrophobia to contend with, while my wife is comfortably across the aisle with an empty middle seat. The joy of flying! 

I hope to meet up with a college friend once we finally reach our final destination of Oakland. My wife will be spending time with her daughter while her husband works from home. After a couple of beers, the four of us will then get together for dinner at their new home. I’m looking forward to uneventful flights. A nap or two would be nice. Wheels up – Westward Ho!

 

Old Sport Shorts: BIG10 worries #1543

With the cancellation of the Bucket Game, I was able to focus on Oregon vs. USC for the Pac12 title. USC may very well be I.U.’s Fiesta Bowl opponent but will now appear in that game without an undefeated record. The Ducks saw to that with a 31-24 victory at the nearly empty LA Coliseum. it will give Oregon an opportunity to extend their season with a 4-2 record. It also ends their two-game losing streak. Coach Mario Cristobal’s had his contract extended prior to the game. USC still has the best record at 5-1 in the conference but the Ducks take the title. 

As a Bucket consolation prize that does at least stay in Bloomington, Indiana basketball won a Crossroads Classic game over state rival Butler this morning. In all fairness, the Bulldogs were riddled by both injuries and Covid. I.U. tried to give them the game with turnovers and poor shooting, but prevailed in the end, as Butler literally ran out of gas. Next up for the Hoosiers is the daunting BIG 10 slate starting with Northwestern. I have my doubts if they are built to handle the bruising conference challenge, considering their lack of size. They were once again 35-30 outrebounded by Butler, as was the case in their first loss of the season against Texas.  After the Wildcats, come the #13 ranked Illini with a huge front line, and then the Nittany Lions to round out 2020. The #15 Hoosier women start their BIG campaign against Nebraska, Minnesota, and Illinois.

The new year for I.U. athletics will start with a bowl game and then basketball against Maryland, #12 Wisconsin, Nebraska, Purdue, #4 Michigan State, #5 Iowa, #19 Rutgers, and #25 Michigan. I.U. will be lucky to end this stretch with a .500 record. Maybe they can at least get a victory over a Top-25 team? I’m much more confident about getting a Hoosier bowl victory. I.U. men’s basketball is in danger of another mediocre BIG10 season and I’m worried!

 

 

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