Today's thoughts

Retirement is not without Hassles: Dirty Money#1332

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. 


Creature Features: Shaggy #1331

Everyone in our household is getting a little shaggy. At least, Tally our fuzzy schnauzer gets groomed today. She’s been growing her mustache for three months now in these pandemic times. The spa that we took he to for years, Urban Fauna, has sadly closed its doors for good. We’re taking her this afternoon to Coats and Tails, just down the block. Provided they do a good job, we’ll at least have convenience on our side. Hopefully, Supercuts will reopen soon and I can get rid of my shaggy appearance. 

One of our favorite neighborhood taverns is the Blue Moon. My wife is drawn by their mini-corn dogs called Scooby-Snacks. They’ve been a welcome to-go choice over the past month, after they were closed during the initial stages of the virus. I’ve written about Scooby-Doo recently (See Post #1310), but failed to mention his lazy cartoon companion, Shaggy. As described by Wikipedia, “Shaggy Rogers has a characteristic speech pattern, marked by his frequent use of the filler word “like” and, when startled, his exclamations of “Zoinks!”. His nickname derives from the shaggy style of his sandy-blond hair. He also sports a rough goatee. His signature attire consists of a green v-neck T-shirt and maroon bell-bottom pants, both of which fit loosely.”

Both Scooby and Shaggy are readily bribed with Scooby Snacks due to their mutual large appetites, insisting that ‘being in a constant state of terror makes us constantly hungry!'” I guess they have a lot in common with our family, hoping the Blue Moon Scooby-Snacks can ease our terror of Coronavirus. Casey Kasem, of American Top 40 fame, was the original voice of Shaggy, while Don Messick was Scooby, while also voicing The Jetson’s Dog, Astro. “Ruh-Roh!”

Tally, of course, is a fan of snacks, too! She’s not particular, having enjoyed fortune cookies last night from our Chinese take-out order. They always throw in extras for her! It reminds me of one of my favorite poems that I wrote years ago and have adapted for today’s Creature Feature post:



We have a dog named Tally,

Eats everything in sight.

She wants a treat each morning,

Gets ham most every night.


She’s at my feet when dining,

Just waiting for her share.

I simply can’t ignore,

Her impatient stare.


When we take her on a walk,

Her nose is on the ground.

Searching every crack,

For a morsel to be found.


Ice cream is a favorite,

She licks it off the stick.

And if you want some for yourself,

You better eat it quick.


When we order Chinese,

Her tail begins to wag.

And she starts to whimper,

When she sees the bag.


She wants her Fortune cookie,

In no mood to chase her ball.

She’s been known to eat them,

Plastic wrapper and all.


On the morning after,

When I went to scoop.

You’ll never guess what I found?

A fortune in her poop.

Copyright 2009

The original was written for Tally’s sister, Tinker, that we lost five months ago at age 15. She was “The Poopingest Pup on the Planet.” (See Post #33). Tinker, although a schnauzer, reminded me of Disney’s Shaggy Dog. Tally, on the other hand, will no longer be shaggy after this afternoon.


Retirement is not without Hassles: Food Calendar #1330

These are the new days of the week at our house in these stay-at home times:

Meatless Monday

Amateur Chef Tuesday 

To-Go Wednesday

Dine-In Thursday

Take-Out Friday

Carry-Out Saturday

Leftover Sunday

This new dining schedule is getting us through these troubled times, as more and more neighborhood restaurants gradually re-open their doors to offer us more variety. It will probably still be another month before we can actually sit and be served in a Portland restaurant. Fortunately, we have a necessary Florida trip planned in three weeks that will get us to the table a little sooner. St. Patrick’s Day was the last time this happened, over two months ago.  

Things have changed dramatically in the last year on how a retiree like me keeps track of the days of the week. Sunday was always “Trash Day” when we lived in our house, but there is no longer a set day in our current apartment life. Saturdays were once “Movie Night,” that evolved into “Matinee Monday” with my wife’s recent retirement. Now, all the movie theaters remain closed. Tuesdays continue to be my night to cook, so this remains consistent, although it was changed to Thursdays for awhile, keeping me confused. Wednesdays were designated “Date Night,” with a different destination every week. Thursdays were typically the day we’d run errands by car, but our vehicles now too often sit idle. Even before the pandemic, downtown living was navigated on foot or by public transportation. Only the brave ride Tri-Met anymore. Fridays were much anticipated “Leadership Meetings,” with a group of good friends. Groups of any kind are currently frowned upon, while drinking is only done at home. I can’t remember the last time I had a beer or raised my glass in a toast.

Things have changed and will continue to evolve. If there’s one thing consistent in life it’s this fact. I’m just having more and more trouble knowing what day it is. As a result, I’ve tried my best to create familiar associations with each day. Lately, life is all about food. The beauty of retirement is that every day is the same, but for some reason it’s important for me to separate one from the next. The Food Calendar is my latest attempt!







Retirement is not without Hassles: Fingers Crossed #1329

I celebrated the “To-Go only” opening of our neighborhood Italian restaurant with a couple of homemade Tito’s vodka martinis. It was a nice variation from my nightly red wine habit and Chinese take-out. My wife cooks great meals at least three nights a week while I contribute a single feeble recipe attempt, leaving two evenings of carry-out and one of leftovers. It will be nice to actually get a socially distant table in the near future and be waited-on by someone in a mask. Such a setting would have sounded unappealing just months ago, but welcome progress coming soon to Oregon. 

The other positive step we took yesterday was a wine tasting reservation at our favorite Willamette Valley vineyard. It will be the first time we’ve gotten together with friends since St. Patrick’s Day. This is the same group that will join us in a few months when we stop for a night in Walla-Walla on the way to Glacier National Park. We’ll also stay at the Prince Albert Hotel, just over the Canadian border, provided it’s allowed by then. By then, hopefully, we will have been to Florida and made arrangements to build a retirement home. The plan is to make our move next year. Egypt and Hawaii are still scheduled in between. We’re keeping our “fingers crossed” on all these travel plans. 

I thought it might be interesting to include the origin of this strange gesture that I just used to imply good luck:

“The act of crossing one’s fingers dates back to before Christianity. The earliest use of the gesture had two people crossing their index fingers in order to form a cross. The pagans believed that a cross was a symbol of good luck. They believed in “sacred geometry” and believed that benevolent spirits resided in the intersections of crosses. Therefore, once two people made a cross they could make a wish and the spirits would favor them.”

“It is also believed that in the early days of Christianity people used it to signal their belief to others. They were persecuted for being Christian and this was their way of acknowledging each other. The would each form an L with their thumb and index finger and when placed together it would form a cross.”

“With time the gesture evolved to one person being able to do it by themselves. It is rumored to have evolved in the 14th century during the war, when soldiers needed luck and were unable to cross fingers with another soldier.”

“These days people don’t always perform the gesture but simply use the phrase ‘fingers crossed.'”



Old Sport Shorts: Sherm Lollar Guy #1328

In these times of no baseball or other popular sports, it’s important to savor the past and why a silly game has so much personal meaning. I blame it on my dad, taking me to games as a kid. High school basketball in our hometown, Notre Dame football, and occasional trips to Chicago for the Cubs or White Sox were bonding moments for us. I used the same magic on my son. I can remember fiddling with the TV antenna to watch a game with either of them, although we had an electronic rotor by the time I became an adult. It sure beat aluminum foil or climbing up on the roof. My son also got to see NBA and college basketball, NFL football, auto racing, and soccer with me. We still share an interest in baseball cards, but he’s more for the Cubs than my White Sox.

My dad started as a Tigers fan, but eventually became a die-hard Cubs supporter. As a grandfather, he lured my son to the Cubs side. I had no choice but to play along, although my loyalties still lie with the Sox. It all comes down to one man, that I’ve never met, but a childhood memory keeps our relationship strong. In the 1959 World Series in glorious black & white, Sherm Lollar hit a home run against the Dodgers, and even though they lost the war, it was at least a battle won, and a lifelong attraction to the number 10 that he wore on his back. 

Some may joke that I’m still obsessed with this man who has been dead for 43 years. I did see him play with my dad several times at Comiskey Park, and still know the line-up of those White Sox teams of the 60’s. It wasn’t for another 46 years before they got back the World Series and actually won. I was there for two of the games in the sweep of 4. It’s too bad Sherm couldn’t have been around. Cancer took him at the early age of 53. Although, he did get a World Series ring in New York before he joined the Sox, and one more with the Orioles as the bullpen coach. It’s also a shame that more catchers have not been voted as Hall-Of-Famers, because they are the heart & soul leaders of any team. The glory always goes to the pitcher. Unfortunately, I don’t think he will ever get the defensive credit that he’s long overdue. 

I’m not a wealthy man that can spend a lot of money on baseball cards and memorabilia. They were like gold to me growing up, even though I abused a few Yankees on my bicycle spokes. If I had extra money, I would spend it at the neighborhood store on bubble gum packs and trade the duplicates with my friends. As a retiree, I reverted back to childhood and joined a group of collectors, knowing that I couldn’t compete with their high-priced Mickey Mantles or Ty Cobbs. Fortunately, for me Sherm Lollar was not on the Cooperstown wall and therefore his cards were relatively affordable. As it turns out, however, there were hundreds of them made by various manufacturers over his 28 years of playing and coaching, not to mention photos, articles, ticket stubs, yearbooks, score cards, cartoon likenesses, promotional items, and ads. He was even a Trivial Pursuit question, beanie pin, card game, and coin.  Sadly, he never got his own bobble-head or figurine, but there were glasses, plastic cups, mitts, catcher’s masks, and stamps bearing his likeness and/or signature. At the end of his career he owned a bowling alley, and provided a post card for patrons to get his signature. I was able to secure one of these, after his nephew sold some of his personal collection. 

I have Sherm Lollar’s signature on cards, photos, scraps of paper, and baseballs. My rarest find is his uniform #10 from the first four games of 1956. It’s hard to imagine that I’ve spent over $4,000 on items that mean little to anyone but me. I will probably never recover that investment even if he somehow gets into the Hall. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much of a movement on his behalf. I care for his memory and family, but I could have never gathered so much of his past on my limited budget. Granted, there are famous teammates and fellow All-Stars of his on some items, adding to their value. I have him in photos along side of Yogi Berra, Bill Verdon, Al Lopez, Marty Marion, Minnie Minoso, Early Wynn, Frank Hayes, to mention a few. 

Over the past month, with little to do, I’ve added to to my Sherm Lollar collection, that has to be one of the largest in existence. A photo of him with Billy Pierce showing off #10, another with Frank and Brooks Robinson, plus a couple of magazine pictures have been recently added to my bulging notebook. A 1960 ticket stub, a team photo from the 1951 St. Louis Browns, and a couple additional magazine clippings are in the mail. Within reason, I’ve vowed to add whatever I can, because within my circle of fellow collectors, that I have been separated from during months of social distancing,  I’m known as the “Sherm Lollar Guy” and have the t-shirt to prove it!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Juices are Flowing #1327

“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. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Three Cents Worth #1326

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.”?



Retirement is not without Hassles: Mount St. Helens #1325

Forty years ago, nearby Mount St. Helens erupted killing 57  people in a single blast, not to mention animals. By perspective, the Coronavirus has now slowly taken 137 Oregon lives in 11 weeks that seemed like forever. Thankfully, there have been no new reported cases in the last three days. The flattening curve today looks just like a mountain. It’s been a long, exhausting climb the last 60 days, but we can now see the base camp on the way down. I have to ask the question: what’s more terrorizing – a volcano or a pandemic?

I came to Oregon for the first time just after the explosion and saw the city covered in ash. All the scenic vistas that the area is known for weren’t visible for weeks. It left an ugly scar on the landscape, taking 1280 feet off the top and destroying $1.1 billion in property. Last year, my wife and I took a drive up to the top and spent some time at the Monument, museum, and observation center. Shorty after, my wife’s daughter hiked to the crater on top. Travels have also taken us to both Pompeii and Herculaneum to witness the devastation of other historic volcanoes. All of these side-trips have been humbling, especially those in our own back yard. 

We’ve recently been faced with invisible destruction that’s resulted in sickness and death. The toll on lives and the economy will grow far worse, as our state has yet to re-open for business. There was no big blast but rather a silence, as people continue to stay home. Our recent outings have included a couple of drives up to enjoy the five visible peaks that skirt the city of Portland, including Mt. St. Helens. In the future, as I marvel at these mountains, I’ll think of our time here in self-isolation, worried about the graphs that once looked like mountains that would never peak. I’m glad we finally reached the top, beyond the explosion, and now cautiously headed to the safety of flat ground. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: The Future is Now #1324

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!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Nothing-Doing #1323

It was a McMeal of Scooby Snacks, Sliders, and Tater Tots last night while we watched the final episode of “The Handsmaid’s Tale.” In Oregon we have both McDonald’s and McMenamins to satisfy our McCravings. However, salt and caramel ice cream is what we were really after, but Salt & Straw can’t keep it in stock, so we didn’t get dessert. “To-Go” is the main incentive to get us out of the apartment these days. “To-Stay” means little to do but watch TV, play video games, read, write, nap, or assemble a puzzle. We ended the lazy night with the first episode of “Little Fires Everywhere.”

It’s another rainy Portland day, so Tally the schnauzer will join us on a “Nothing-Doing”  Saturday.  She hates getting wet, so her much anticipated walks will be disappointingly short, leaving us all more time to do nothing. There was a time when a down-day like this would have been more than welcome, but instead it’s become dreadfully routine. We could have been doing nothing in the Bali sunshine right now, if circumstances hadn’t changed. At the very least, I should be grateful that we’re healthy, along with 99% of people we know. There is that very small percentage of distance acquaintances that have contracted COVID-19, but fortunately none have been fatal cases or even close to home. 

As we walked to pick up our food last night, my wife did an informal survey of those wearing masks on the street. Ours just arrived in the mail, so I was sporting mine for the first time, while she elected to enjoy the fresh air. Of about 75 people we passed, only about 20 had their nose and mouth covered. I found mine to be uncomfortable because my glasses were steaming up. I’ll have to dig in my ski equipment to find some anti-fog. Speaking of snow, the local ski areas just re-opened today. It’s about an hour drive if I were ambitious. It serves as a reminder that there are things to do if I make the effort. However, I haven’t skied in over a year, even when life was normal and never as late as mid-May. Before we exit Oregon for a Florida home, I’ll need to hit the slopes one last time while I’m still in my sixties. It’s a long way from Tampa to snow for a Septuagenarian, another name for a dinosaur. I guess I better think twice about “Doing Nothing” when a few more years might mean “Nothing Doing!”  

« Older posts

© 2020

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑