Today's thoughts

Retirement is not without Hassles: Average #1521

I tried to run faster this morning, but it was to no avail. With stiff joints and poor balance, I seem to have only one speed – slow. I do get the job done but it’s never pretty. There was something about the word “average” when it came to my running pace that struck a chord. It’s always been difficult for me to digest. I want to look younger and perform better than just average. I was always a “B” student and on the “B” team, so I’ve never been considered exceptional. There have been some “A” moments in life and rarely a “C,” so my achievement expectations continue  in my race towards seventy. 

The average life span of a white male in 75.3 years, so I certainly hope to be above average in this category.  This means I have at least five good years left or or 1,825 running days. This would put me over 6,000 consecutive days. There was also a point where I was 6 feet tall, but I am quickly shrinking to average height. My weight is slightly over average but that’s not necessarily a good thing. I often wonder how my spindly legs have held up all these years when most of my bulk is in my torso. Yesterday’s Thanksgiving meal certainly didn’t help.

Today, college basketball and football will keep me busy. We’re up to date on Yellowstone with Season 4 not expected until mid-2021. Shameless has a final season airing in a few weeks, so the Suits series is now our primary evening entertainment. There’s also one last episode of Fargo to watch. Only 8 days until we land in Kauai, if all goes well next week with Covid testing. At one point, this Hawaii trip was planned with intentions of following Indiana basketball in the Maui Classic. That event was of course delayed a week to start on Monday and moved to Asheville, North Carolina. I.U. football meets Maryland tomorrow, as the Hoosiers try to hold on to their #12 ranking. They fell short in their comeback effort against #3 Ohio State last weekend. I’m glad to see that I.U. football is no longer considered average. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Turkey Trot #1520

Thanksgiving morning was once a time for recreational runs, but these races are all virtual this year. I’ve run Turkey Trots in Decatur, Austin, and Portland, and my own 5k version on every Thanksgiving Day for the last 12 years. This morning was no exception, even though it was undoubtedly one of the slowest I’ve ever run. It was consecutive day #4,351, carrying a couple extra pumpkin bars around my waistline. The weather was in the mid-40s and there was no precipitation. It’s always good to burn off a few calories before the traditional feast of turkey with green beans au gratin. There will be no family gathering today, as advised by the CDC

Nine days and counting until we’re on a Kauai beach, enjoying that family time we’ll miss today. With next year’s move to Florida, we’ll spend future Thanksgivings with my grandkids by the pool. 2021 will be the beginning of a new tradition. Hopefully by then, there will be a vaccine and life will return to somewhat normal. I’m just thankful today that my family has stayed healthy throughout a difficult 2020. I can still run everyday, continue to stay in touch with friends, and dream of a sunny future. We haven’t gotten to travel as much as we would have liked, but have still ventured to Florida twice, Phoenix, Austin, made a 3,000-mile cross-country drive, visited Glacier National Park, and visited out-of-town family and friends. Hawaii should soon add the crown jewel to our 2020 adventures.

I am discouraged with my running, considering the glacial-like pace, but I’m fortunate to still be able to do it. On the USRSA list of nearly 2,500 active streak runners, I haven’t been able to move-up from position #228. This puts me in the top 10%, with forty-five runners older than my age of 69. It’s encouraging to see these veteran runners continue to maintain their daily streaks. I hope that I can keep going into my 80s, but I can’t imagine how slow my feet will move at that stage of life. It could take all day to run the minimum mile. According to Healthline, the average pace for men my age (65-99) is 13:52 per mile. It’s about the same speed as this Turkey Trotted this morning!


Diary of an Adoptee: Yellowstone #1519

SPOILER ALERT!!! Move over Game of Thrones, there’s now a new adoptee in the world of streaming. Jamie Dutton is surprised to find out he’s adopted, but we still don’t know how this will ultimately affect his life? Will he meet his birth father? It’s not as if he’ll take over the throne, plus he already lives like a King.  He’s not even a bastard child, like in most television scenarios, although his bio-father served prison time for killing his mother.  Bastards Unite! (See Post #745). Jamie has already killed sister Beth’s chances of having children. How will she react to this news?

My parents thankfully told me I was adopted at a very young age. They did not leave it for me to discover by surprise later in life. This was Jamie’s shocking news as went through the legal process of confirming his identity for the position of Montana Attorney General. It apparently never surfaced when he applied for Harvard or received his law degree.  It also never occurred to Kevin Costner’s character, John Dutton, that this information might be important to his “son.” It’s sad that he had to find out from a records clerk, then forced to confront his “father” about why the truth was hidden from him? As a fellow adoptee, I find this particularly disturbing!

I suppose everyone dreams they have a secret identity that they will someday discover. By the same token, there are justifiable reasons for adoption and even abortion. I’m grateful that my birth mother did not choose to end my life before it started. I’m thankful that my loving parents took me in as their own, and gave me everything that I could possibly want. However, I often naturally wonder what life would have been like if I hadn’t been adopted? How would the story of my life have changed? 

I’m sure that Jamie Dutton, born  James Michael Randall, eventually reflects on how his life might have been different if his mother would have lived. Instead, he lived a life of privilege on a massive Montana ranch with no knowledge of his past. Unlike Jamie, I never had to question the love of my adopted parents. They stood by me in good times and bad, so I could have never possibly received greater love. My birth mother apparently doesn’t even want to reacquaint with me. The birth father passed many years ago, but I at least have contact with his children. It also appears that Jamie has at least one sibling, adding a little more drama to the series.

I’m glad my life is not a television soap opera. Stay Tuned!


Retirement is not without Hassles: Happy and Healthy #1518

The run is done for the day, the chocolate chip cookies are gone, and there is nothing planned for the rest of this week. Thanksgiving will just be my wife and I and a batch of pumpkin bars. Restaurants and Bars, along with many neighborhood stores are closed, yet the Dow Jones average just topped 30,000 for the first time in history. I’m glad that others are more optimistic than I am in these pandemic times. Amazon and Walmart seem to be doing well, but the little guys are suffering. The same seemed to be true back in the 10th century as I continue to read Ken Follett’s The Evening and the Morning. 

My mornings are full of activity with the daily run and writing. However, the evenings have been strictly couch time. I don’t expect this to change for the next ten days until we board our flight to Kauai. We have been good about staying home these past few weeks and avoiding the temptation to travel over Thanksgiving that has been a tradition for years. Covid rates in our area have been climbing, yet the airport is still supposed to be busy this weekend. We had intentionally planned the week after to avoid the crowds. We’re also required to take a Covid test before we depart and will be spending our time on the small island where exposure should be limited. 

We should be finalizing financing on the new house before we leave for Hawaii and get an update on construction. We’re 83 days away from the projected closing date and less than 100 from moving. There will be a lot to do to keep us busy in the meantime, but soon we’ll be enjoying the Florida sunshine on a daily basis. Despite the day-to-day boredom, glad to be Happy and Healthy, while hoping that you are too!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Tip-Off Time #1517

Another day of rain here in Portland, with expectations of a few more days. This is typical at this time of year, but much preferable to the snow my friends in Indiana are beginning to experience. In a few short weeks, I hope to feel the warmth of Kauai and in a few months a steady diet of Florida sunshine. We’ll be stuck in front of the T.V. today with mindless episodes of Yellowstone, Big Sky, Fargo, Amazing Race, Shameless, and Gold Rush

It’s “Leaf Pick-Up” Monday, with on-street parking prohibited. I won’t have to worry about slipping on all those wet leaves tomorrow. I was rewarded with finding a dime before it was swept away. With gloves on, I had trouble picking it up, reminiscent of commercials for Playtex Gloves – “so flexible you can pick up a dime.” There was also a lot of interference from pedestrians, traffic, and street cars as I carefully tip-toed through the streets. I also had to avoid a homeless man with his pants down around his ankles, and piles of trash on the sidewalks. As is often the case, my morning runs aren’t very glamorous. 

I’m collecting documents to file with Social Security as they’ve once again raised my monthly Medicare Part B premiums based on past income tax statements. With both my wife and I retired now, my payments should be much lower. However, I have to go through the hassle of submitting all the appropriate forms and supporting paperwork to prove my case. With the local office closed due to Covid, I also have to submit everything on line with little control on when they’ll get through the backlog this time of year. As a result, I’ll probably be paying more the first few months of the year until they finally get to my appeal. On a positive note, it’s at least something to do on a rainy day.

College basketball starts this week, providing a fresh source of live entertainment. I’ll look forward to seeing how the season unfolds with my favorite sport. It’s been eight months since the last game I watched on T.V. and ten months since attending. Most likely, I won’t be allowed to see a game in person this season. However, we’ve come a long way since the BIG tournament was disrupted last March and the NCAA Tournament cancelled. It’s Tip-off Time!


Retirement is not without Hassles: Paranoia #1516

I woke up this morning with all the classic signs of Covid 19: chills, headache, fever, scratchy throat, and congestion. This has happened at least once a week since March when the possibility of catching it was initially discovered. One of the by-products of being a pessimist is also being a hypochondriac – if it’s out there, I’m certainly going to get it! The first thing that comes to mind is that I’m going to end up in the hospital and my 4,347 day running streak will come to an abrupt end. On the other extreme, I’m thinking that I won’t be able to pass the Covid test to get to Hawaii with my family in a couple of weeks.

Nonetheless, I got out of bed and made the 3.1 mile run, at first thinking I would just do the minimum mile in my frail state of health. As I got going, all the symptoms seemed to disappear, as often is the case when I’m either not feeling well or hung over. It would have been easy to get up this morning if I.U. would have pulled off the upset yesterday against Ohio State. All that adrenaline would have still been flowing through my veins. Instead, I was a bit depressed when the Hoosiers fell short. Of course, no true pessimist would have expected them to win anyway, so I got what I imagined! It looks like the loss has literally made me sick, or at least pretend sick.

I hope we can get to the island in early December. The boredom of sitting in an apartment all day is getting to me. I don’t have the yard chores or outdoor home projects that keep my friends busy. All I have is my running, writing, dog outings, and T.V. watching. The snacks in between are also a problem, like the chocolate chip cookies my wife baked for me yesterday. Live sports at least adds some excitement to the day, even if its not always the desired outcome. My half-sister sent me photos of her at the Alabama vs. Kentucky game yesterday to rub it in. I haven’t been to a game of any game since January, as is the case with most of American fans.

Yes, I’m paranoid that something will prevent us from traveling to Hawaii, as has been the case with Bali and Egypt this year. Retirement is supposed to be all about exploring the world, but just not going to work is certainly adequate reward, just as long as we stay healthy. Unfortunately, I can’t keep my mind from dwelling on the things that could go wrong. It’s a defense mechanism that I adopted early in life and protects me from disappointment. I believe that if you think of all the things that could possibly go wrong, it rarely does. However, paranoia like this  does have it’s price! 

Old Sport Shorts: Nuts #1515

There’s been a lot of hype this week about I.U. football after unprecedented victories over both Penn State and Michigan. Could they possibly also add the Ohio State Buckeyes to this list, despite 25 straight losses? After watching the first couple plays, my doubt is growing. This same Indiana team lost at home to the Buckeyes last year 51-10, so my expectations aren’t great. In fact, we look like I.U. football of the past in the first few series, including a hike over the head of the quarterback and several dropped passes. Ohio State scored early on two passes – too easy! 

We are clearly intimidated on the field, particularly on offense. The defense has grabbed two interceptions but we haven’t been able to capitalize.  We’re lucky to be down only 7-0 in the first quarter. The Buckeye ground game has been effective, while I.U.’s has not. However, a long pass has just allowed us to tie the game. It’s almost unbelievable that we’re still in the game. Then, suddenly we’re behind again, giving up another big play on the ground. As we overplay on the pass, it’s creating big holes for the running backs. 

I.U. has not been able to convert the third downs that allowed us to beat Penn State and Michigan. However, since then, those teams have shown to be not as traditionally strong. This is really the Hoosier’s biggest test, and so far they are failing. They needed a time out to make some defensive corrections to stop the rush. Missed tackles now seem to be an issue. 21-7. Hopes are fading, as they’re starting to look like the #3 team in the country!

We counter with a 51-yard pass, but an injury to an official destroys our momentum, followed by a fumble. It’s another comedy of errors for I.U. football, with tragic results. Dam* refs – one limps off and the other gets in the way! We can’t hold on to the football or their running backs, as they get in scoring position with time running out in the half. Plus, they get the ball to start the second half. 28-7. This was what I was afraid of all week in anticipation of this game. Overrated!

The BIG doesn’t have much this year. It’s Ohio State followed by the rest of the conference, without even the usual three contenders. The Hoosiers are proving to be pretenders and on the verge of embarrassment. Ohio State has 168 yards rushing so far, with IU at minus 6. People were “NUTS” if they thought we could beat the Buckeyes. S.O.S.! Thankfully, basketball season starts this week!




Retirement is not without Hassles: Nothing is Normal #1515

This morning’s run was uneventful – not a single blinking dashboard light to count or coin on the pavement to pocket. There was frost on the windows and the city did a clean-up of one of the homeless camps. Traffic continues to be light and wet leaves cover the streets. I feel sorry for all the restaurants that added outdoor seating and tents for patrons. We’re back to carry-out only, another blow to the dining business. This will continue through the holidays, and could possibly affect our travel to Kauai.

Thanksgiving and Christmas will be celebrated with just my wife and I. The trip to Hawaii is between the two holidays and our only chance to have our traditional get togethers with my wife’s two daughters and their husbands. We all have to do Covid screenings to get on the island, so we feel safe meeting as a family.   It’s our final trip of 2020. Tonight, it’s take-out food, plus I continue my alcohol-free streak that’s only been a week-long, but seems like forever. 

We’ve been enjoying the T.V. series Upload, but it’s only one season. Sadly, I don’t have a single thing on my calendar but sports. The three short dog walks that I do every day are the only times I’m outside of the apartment, once the morning run is over. Last night, on the final outing, I noticed a letter out on the big lighted sign over GOOD SAMARATIN hospital, one of our neighbors. I looked-up in the darkness and saw GOD. This is an indication of how boring life is right now. Anything different really stands out, regardless of how silly. The nighttime skies have been too overcast to observe the Leonid meteor showers. 

At least, there’s a break in the rain, and I can see blue skies this morning for a change. If I look beyond the rooftop compressors next door, there are still some beautiful fall colors, plus a clear view of the homes on the distant hills. Downtown living hasn’t paid off, with too many places shut down and public transportation a risk. Covid has taken all the fun of our convenient location. Normally, there would be a Friday “Leadership Meeting” today, but nothing is normal anymore. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Credit Check #1514

Credit checks aren’t quite the hassle they used to be with the ability to download documents and provide access to banking records. Also, I now have daily access to my credit score. Today we have a conference call with our builder to hopefully secure the funds we need to secure a mortgage on our Florida home. It better not be a problem, considering the down payments we’ve already made. However, there is still some trepidation in the process, as essentially strangers judge our ability to make payments. 

This will be the ninth time I’ve gone through this exercise in my lifetime. It should also be the final time, and the first time I plan to live in a home longer than ten years. It’s semi-custom, meaning we’ve selected everything from the elevation level to the fixtures from a number of different plans available. My wife has spent many hours looking at options and making decisions. It should be everything we would ever want in a home, once we add some special touches. As a pessimist, I’m just looking forward to getting through this credit check scrutiny, despite the fact that there shouldn’t be a problem. 

We’re just three months away from expected closing, so the reality of the move is setting in. The hassles of hiring movers, changing addresses, and setting up our new home is growing near. It will be a relief to get out of this apartment and into move space. We’re also looking forward to the warmer weather. We will certainly miss the friends and family in this area, but will be nearer my grandchildren in a neighborhood prime for meeting new people. It will be a fresh retirement start, leaving the big city behind for the beach. 

We’ve gotten most of our paperwork together for today’s meeting, but there will undoubtedly be more to gather. We’ll have to go back through our credit history to be able to move forward. There have been a few bumps along the way, but nothing that should harm our ability to buy this home. However, it’s a formality that I’m not looking forward to, like going to the doctor when you’re feeling perfectly fine and hoping that they don’t find a problem. I hate credit checks as much as a prostrate exam! 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Hoosier Hysteria #1513

I’m making an effort to be a little more constructive than counting blinking lights, picking up lost coins, and watching T.V. I did make Italian Beef for dinner last night and had a couple of friendly phone conversations. Most importantly, over the past two weeks, I’ve started writing another book. This one a sequel of the unpublished “Blueberry Hill,” a project I worked on 30-years ago. So far, there’s been no attempt on my part to publish any of my writing, including the hundreds of poems I’ve offered in this blog. 

A+ Killer,” my recent fictional attempt to create a serial monster, was not received favorably by some close friends, but it did keep me constructively entertained many hours during this pandemic. As I continue to experiment with content ideas, eventually I’ll produce something worthy. “Tribulations and Trials,” the working title of this latest attempt, is about the early 1970s “War on Drugs,” through the eyes of a college student. It’s based on a true story. I’m also currently reading Michael Connelly’s, The Law of Innocence, his latest novel. All authors are heroes of mine and maybe someday I will become one myself. 

Tonight, Indiana University basketball finally returns with a virtual Hoosier Hysteria, the annual exhibition to start the season. The Hoosiers were one of few teams to finish the basketball 2019-2020 year with a tournament victory. However, their next game was cancelled, like so many others due to the onset of Coronavirus. In a recent conversation, I talked to a friend who was at that BIG 10 tourney game in Indianapolis, when the crowd booed the announcements that any games going forward would be played without fans. Next came the total shut-down of the event, and the end of the season. I felt the same disappointment after plans to attend baseball Spring Training games in Arizona were cancelled on the same day. This was almost exactly eight months ago. 

For 2021, the NCAA just announced that all March Madness tournament games will be played in Indianapolis. This 2020-21 season will start with some other unusual twists like The Maui Classic being played in Asheville, but all indications are that it will at least start. Any questions regarding fans in attendance will be a factor of when a vaccine can be distributed. Hoosier Hysteria will go on tonight for the first time ever without a live audience. Fans can watch via a Facebook feed, another first. IU basketball is back, after eight long months, the longest I’ve ever had to wait between games. Go Hoosiers!


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