Today's thoughts

Retirement is not without Hassles: Be Our Guest #1685

Life was back to normal yesterday with the Cubs and Sox losing. We went to one of the community pools and spent some time talking to a neighbor we met at the block party last weekend. A child’s birthday party made it noisy and the water was discouraging chilly for being heated, but in my wife’s opinion not as cold as ours. I’m the only one that really gets in it for my morning swim to loosen up from the run. She’s not getting much use out of her pool toys, as the inflatable unicorn spent another lonely afternoon. Our schnauzer Tally will tolerate it as long as it’s not floating in the water. She did have a bit of a fit when the sand cranes showed up and started to strut around in the neighbors back yard pleading for food.

This morning Tally did not seem threatened by the kitty next door, as they peacefully coexisted in their separate lanai cages. My wife went back to bed after announcing she has a slight fever in reaction to the much anticipated second vaccine shot yesterday. We were up most of the night after the smoke alarms went off about 1:30a, three weeks after the first time they rudely awakened us (See Post #1666). They were all replaced by an electrician the next day, but at least this time I had a ladder and was able to remove the batteries and disable the power. Tally is still very upset about the ear piercing noise and electronic voice repeating “fire” that echoes throughout our empty house. I will get someone over here next week to uncover the annoying problem, as we continue to find issues with our new construction.

We are attending a 3rd birthday party this afternoon for my youngest granddaughter. It’s a tea party theme, so we bought her the Disney Beauty and the Beast serving tray on wheels. It features the Mrs. Potts bubbling teapot and a talking Lumiere. We’ll all sing “Be Our Guest” in addition to the birthday song to celebrate this special occasion. It will be the first time I’ve got to go to a grandchild’s birthday party, another benefit of our move to Florida.

“Be our guest! Be our guest!
Put our service to the test
Tie your napkin ’round your neck, cherie
And we’ll provide the rest.”





Old Sport Shorts: Keep On Truckin’ 3 #1684

I continue to resort to the same headlines – in this case “Keep On Truckin'” – for the third time. I try to be clever, but there seems to be a reoccurring theme as the number of posts continue to add up. This will be the third time that I’ve used it, but in this case it actually refers to trucking rather than the music of the Grateful Dead or the Doo-Dah Man (Post #760 and Post#1603). The truck with our stuff should arrive within a week, the first sign that last night was going to be a good one. The good news phone call came when I was sipping on some Broken Barrel Whiskey as the red hot White Sox were losing the first game of a double header. They often say that good and bad news comes in threes, so after the dispatcher called with the report that our loaded truck would arrive in Tampa on Wednesday, it set off a wave of good fortune that continued through the rest of the night.

Whether or not it continues today I will soon find out. My run was painfully stiff, as soreness continues to rack my body. I’ve been doing exercises to offset the arthritis in my lower back, including the purchase of a body and back massage tool that resembles the hook of a shepherd’s staff at each end. It’s designed to reach those sore muscles and help them relax, recommended by my chiropractor. Today’s results were not encouraging. I go back again on Monday. However, with any sport or exercise there are always good and bad days. After 4,521 consecutive days of running, I should know as well as anyone. Regardless, last night was a great night of watching sports and the buzz was still there when I woke up this morning. 

It started with a Cubs victory, as their relief pitching continues to be strong. They’ve needed it since 9 or their last 11 games have been decided by one or two runs. They’ve won six of those for a May record of 8-3, putting them four games behind the first place Cardinals. However, the offense continues to struggle with a run differential of minus 5, compared with the Cards at +26. They play next weekend in St. Louis, the first head-to-head of the young season. 

I then turned over to IU soccer and watched the Hoosiers advance to the NCAA Championship in search of their 9th National Title. They edged out a tough Pittsburgh squad who dominated possession time but couldn’t score. The Panthers attempted twice as many shots but the Hoosier defenders prevailed. The Cream & Crimson, ranked #2, will face #10 Marshall in the Monday night finale.

At the same time the soccer game ended, the White Sox won the second game of the Kansas City doubleheader, going 8-2 in their last ten to keep pace with the Indians. The slugging Sox are +64 in run differential this season and just as exciting on the bases. Billy Hamilton has show some speed and promise, filling in for a number of serious injuries that have plagued stars like Jimenez, Robert, and now Abreu, So far, aging Tony La Russa has pushed the right buttons, although criticized for not knowing the newly established rules of doubleheader games. The Sox have so much depth that it doesn’t appear that there will be a La Russa-Pujols reunion in Chicago. I’m particularly impressed with rookie Yermin Mercedes and Oregon State product Nick Madrigal. The Sox are now referred to as the best team in baseball. Hopefully, that will continue.

To summarize the good news, our long delayed stuff  is within reach and sports are going my way. The Indy 500 is on the horizon and my wife gets her second vaccine shot today. Both granddaughters celebrate birthdays this month. The future indeed  looks sunny and bright here in our new Florida home. Go Sox, Cubs, and IU – and Keep On Truckin’.



Retirement is not without Hassles: Pool Dreams #1683

Just nine months ago, we were in the swimming pool at the JW Marriott in Austin, Texas at about the halfway point of our first cross-country drive from Oregon to Florida. While enjoying the sunshine, we were mentally measuring the dimentions of the pool we were building behind our new home. It struck me this morning as I was swimming in it how much has transpired in that timeframe. On that long drive we could only picture what our house would look like and stopped by the design studio and pool supply stores in Sarasota to put the finishing touches on our plan. My wife spent hours selecting floor tile, countertops, cabinet styles, door handles, and paint. We went together to lay out the pool features that we wanted including a shallow sunning level, bench, and waterfall. It has all now finally come together, but it’s still missing one important element – our frickin’ furniture.

We had another tense phone call with the movers yesterday. On a humorous note, at one point he mentioned that there was a bad echo. We shot back that this was because our house was empty and they were not being responsive. Apparently, our furniture is now in the hands of a third party, so we have no idea where it is. This is unacceptable in a world of tracking devices. They should be able to tell us exactly where it is, provide an anticipated delivery schedule, and notify us if there’s another delay. None of this is happening. Instead, it’s now over thirty days overdue and forty-five days since it was originally loaded. Since then, it’s been unpacked, stored in a warehouse, and reloaded on another truck. It will then apparently be delivered to a warehouse in our area and unloaded again. All this inefficiency makes us wonder how much damage there will be when it finally arrives.

In the meantime, we’ve added a few rugs to absorb some of the cavernous echo, had our floor grout sealed, and contracted for the kitchen backsplash. The only area of normalcy is the lanai and pool area where I can enjoy a peaceful morning swim after my run. The water is a bit cold, especially after yesterday’s surprise rain shower, and our schnauzer Tally is afraid of the giant inflatable unicorn that my wife supposedly bought for the grandkids – but really for her. Two sunning lounges sit on the shallow platform at the end of the pool, just as we envisioned in our pool dreams back in Austin.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Classics IV #1682

There are lots of memories over my 70 years of life stored somewhere in my brain. Occasionally, one leaks out and leads to another. This happened this morning as I was running trying to think of the name of the group who did 1960s hits of “Spooky,” “Stormy,” and “Traces.” Suddenly, the name Dennis Yost came to mind and the thought of seeing him live and in concert at perhaps Albion College my freshman year. I couldn’t quite put it all together so I resorted to one of my famous lists. I have an Excel sheet where I’ve attempted to reconstruct my live concert lifetime history. There are 280 groups noted but somehow I missed the Classics IV and a Google search didn’t help. It was back when I saw the likes of Three Dog Night, Gladys Knight & The Pips, and Chicago Transit Authority. It was probably on campus, but all I found was the obituary for Dennis Yost from back in 2007.

Somehow I missed his death and it made me sad, even though I haven’t even thought about him in years. His popular songs are on my Apple Music playlist but only today did I recall the name of Dennis Yost and that concert. Sadly, like “faded photographs” I can’t even prove that I was there or readily find out when it was. There’s no ticket stub in my collection or photos of the show, only the faint memory of saxophones (a favorite instrument at the time) and singing along to the hits in a crowd of people. I’ve added it to my concert list, making it 281 but noticed that the Sturgill Simpson that I must have included last year after buying tickets was cancelled due to the pandemic. I’m still stuck on that last live Barry Manilow show we saw in Las Vegas before all the music stopped. I haven’t yet added the Santana along with Earth, Wind, & Fire show that I’ll hopefully see for my 70th birthday. 

It was 50 years ago when I likely saw the Classics IV. I’m almost sure of it, but why it didn’t stand out as I was preparing my list, I’ll never understand. It was in that timeframe right before concerts became a priority for me in the years to come. Once I got into the radio business, it became a way of life. I’ll continue to try to solve this memory, perhaps I’ll send a note to my roommate back then. Thanks for that look back in time, Dennis – Rest In Peace. In the meantime, just remember, “every day with you…is sweeter than the day before.” 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Projects #1681

A new home means a plethora of projects and we’ve only just begun. Yesterday, it was one contractor after another ringing our doorbell. Personally, I had baseball cards to organize, pool toys to inflate, and cardboard boxes to break down for the dumpster while these guys did the heavy lifting. I did do some dumpster diving once it turned dark, carefully removing any identifying shipping labels that could lead to HOA fines. It seems like the open trash bins should be a privilege for putting up with all the construction around us, but they are very strict about using them for personal use. I unloaded a bunch of tile scraps from the kitchen backsplash mosaic that turned out to be a work of art. This morning he’s back to add the grout and finish this fabulous silver and gold marble accent to our new white cabinets. We decided to hire someone to add a unique touch to the standard options offered by the builder. My wife picked out the tile.

We had expected it to take several months to get this project done, but in serendipitous fashion a craftsman happened to show up yesterday morning to do some caulking and we hired him on the spot. The pattern was however complicated and what he estimated might take three hours will turn into more than ten. However, he was able to save us a full box of tile with a return value of nearly $500. We will make it worth his time. We also contracted a stone mason to expand our driveway of pavers that will cosmetically improve our drainage system, add an elevated platform for the garden hose, and give us a more dramatic winding entryway. With most of the homes in our neighborhood so similar in design, it will instill a more distinctive look – one of the few ways to keep us with the Joneses. 

Steam cleaning and sealing the tile floors starts this morning before my visit to the chiropractor. It’s a bee hive of activity here in Florida as we prepare for the movers and the zillions of upcoming projects associated with organizing our living space. It will be an endless list of unboxing, sorting, and hanging. I’m not looking forward to more projects. Help!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Never A Dull Moment #1680

It’s been a hectic day, so my routine has suffered. I got reprimanded by the neighbor first thing this morning for letting our schnauzer Tally on his lawn. She ran right over there, afraid of a big concrete truck that dumped a load of water in the adjacent lot. Between alligators and construction equipment there are not many safe places to walk her. In fact, my wife drives her down to the dog park every morning. I will stay away from this neighbor in the future, since he’s not very friendly, even though his words were not threatening – just not very thoughtful under the circumstances. There’s always one rotten apple in every batch, while most of those nearby I’ve met are very kind. 

I had just gotten home from my run this morning, still fuming about the confrontation, when the doorbell rang. Two electricians installed our outdoor floodlights, followed by a guy to replace the seal on our front door, and another knock to do some bathroom caulking. Others are coming this afternoon to sell me security electronics and to check on some warranty claims we’ve made. 1-800 Flowers has yet to make an appearance to deliver some fresh flowers and take back a wreath, but are still planning on today after failing to show yesterday.

The tile guy who came to simply do some touch-up caulking in the bathroom ended up staying to install our kitchen backsplash. Tomorrow, it’s a full day of steam cleaning and sealing our floor tiles. Hopefully, we’ll get this done before the moving van shows up. Apparently, the truck is on the road somewhere but we’re not getting any feedback on when it might arrive. In one sense, I’m hoping they come tomorrow and surprise us – it would be great to finally get our stuff back, although I’m not looking forward to the work it will create. I did finally manage to get my short swim in and a shower during this flurry of contractors. Never a Dull Moment.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Busy Weekend #1679

It’s been a busy weekend for us here in Venice. Just so there’s no confusion I’m talking Florida not Italy. We’ve seen a big change from those secluded times in Portland to an active schedule here in the sunshine state. We even went to the Englewood Seafood Festival and actually saw some live music that sounded great after all that pandemic silence. It was perhaps a brave venture into a busy, maskless crowd but we kept our distance. Lobster Mac & Cheese and fried cinnamon donuts were the gourmet highlights. All three of us went to the dog park, fetched the mail, and talked to some of the neighbors we met at Friday night’s block party. My son has us over for dinner on his smoker last night after an afternoon at the beach. Since there’s still no place to sit at home, we might as well be out and about. 

Today, I go back to the chiropractor and have to take my grandson to golf practice. I might even have time for a haircut. We’ve gone for weeks without putting the convertible tops up on either of our cars. This morning I even saw a rainbow during my morning run. Hopefully, this is a sign that our stuff will soon be on the way. I did not bring any casual shorts with me for some reason, so everyone wonders why I’m wearing jeans in this hot weather. Running shorts also serve as swim trunks, and yes I could break down and buy a pair of casual shorts or resort to cut-offs, but it seems to be my little protest to the moving company. 

It was 98% humidity this morning as the sun was coming up. I did not have to jump in the pool to get soaked as I labored through the neighborhood streets. It has yet to have rained since we arrived in the state nearly four weeks ago. I’m not complaining since we got our fill of rain back in Portland where it sometimes seemed like a nonstop event. I’m also not missing apartment life or the downtown streets, although I’m not finding much in the way of loose change on my runs – just a lonely quarter so far. Today is Trash Day, the official start to the week after a busy weekend. 

Diary of an Adoptee: Miss You, Mom #1678

“I want my mommy!” Once the words of a cry baby are now a sincere plea, as I reflect on the memories. She’s been gone for nearly seven years, and I think of her often, a remarkable woman with the kind of heart it takes to adopt someone that the heartless might consider to have been a “mistake.” I’m reading American Baby: A Mother, A Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption by Gabrielle Glaser. It was recommended by a thoughtful friend and certainly appropriate for Mother’s Day, although I’m only through the first few chapters. It sets the stage for the all too common story of a young girl who falls in love but is accused by her parents of being “a bad girl and whore.” “How could you do this to your selfless parents who gave you everything, while throwing away your life and reputation, bringing nothing but shame to your loving family?”

Let me first say that I would not even exist without a young girl like this. I do not yet know the rest of this story nor do I really know my own. What I do know is that there was another young woman and her husband that saved my life and raised me as their own. Thankfully, abortion was not legal and birth control often ineffective or unavailable, while adoption was the only safe option, although not necessarily honorable. I realize that not everyone in my position has a story that ends happily, but mine does, so every Mother’s Day I think about my good fortune. 

My birth mother is still alive at 88-years old. I’ve never met her and probably never will. Many sources in this book claim that a woman never forgets the birth of a child, regardless of the circumstances. It’s a nine-month long bond that never ends, even though my bio-mom claims that it never happened. I fully understand that she was told to forget and to never admit her sinful indiscretion. Sadly, many women have been buried with their “dirty little secrets” while their offspring never know the truth, but with DNA testing and open records there is no longer a way to hide it. I know the truth. I just don’t know the circumstances – only she does. 

At this point in life, I don’t really even care. I’m glad it happened and grateful for my life. I want Edna to  know that she made the right choice, raising four more children who gave her the joy of great grandchildren. More importantly, she gave my mother a gift (hard to think of myself as this) that she wanted more than anything but couldn’t naturally produce.  I only wish that I had given her more in return for the pain and trouble I caused in my teenage years. I was an ungrateful pig, taking advantage of their love and kindness, but somehow she stuck by my side through thick and thin. I express my undying love for my adopted parents today, known exclusively as my mom and dad. No one else qualifies. With tears in my eyes today, I just want to say with endless thanks, “I miss you Mom.”


Retirement is not without Hassles: Hey Neighbor #1677

Last night was the neighborhood get-together and our first encounter with many of the folks on our block. We call ourselves the Borrego Bunch or Borregorians after our Borrego Street addresses. I’m surprised by the number of New Jersey settlers, since my understanding was that the East Coast people  migrated to the Atlantic side of Florida while the Midwesterners claimed the Gulf. There were at least three couples from Jersey, with New York, Wisconsin, and Minnesota also represented. No one else from Indiana or the West Coast. I think that fourteen homes on our block were in attendance as we simply gathered in a driveway and spilled out on the street. The majority retired – one single woman. Some walked and others arrived on golf carts. It was BYOB. Name tags might have been helpful.

I met some Ohio State fans, as well as Steeler, Red Sox, Patriots, and Viking supporters. Most are newcomers to Florida, and with many homes still under construction on our street there will be many more get-togethers in our first year. One couple lives in the spec home, so they would have been first to stake a claim, but most have put down roots here for just a few months at the most. This gives us an opportunity to meet people before they have established strong friendships. However, there are also several part-timers who have second homes elsewhere. They will come and go. 

It’s very different than living in an apartment where neighbors are heard more than seen. I wrote about this in Post #1345. There’s no more heavy feet above us, but an occasional intrusion of outdoor privacy. All of us now have screened-in lanais and some have backyard pools that are packed too close together.  You want to be friendly but respect your neighbor’s space. Besides this block party, our dogs introduce us to each other, so Dusty, Sherlock, Tito, and Zowie have already gotten to know our schnauzer Tally. She roams the backyard cage and keeps an eye out for intruders, whether they be human, insect, or animal. It’s the exact opposite of the confined lifestyle of an apartment, but we’ve yet to find comfort without our furniture. Hey Neighbor – can we borrow a chair?


Retirement is not without Hassles: Running Coach #1676

I had an appointment with a Venice chiropractor yesterday – long overdue. He offered me an article titled “Learn to Walk Before You Run.” Apparently, my posture is bad, twisted to compensate for the pain. One shoulder was lower than the other and my left foot needed support. My soft orthotics are packed away along with my running shoes and still sitting in Portland. Apparently, they have now moved from the warehouse into a truck, so relief might be on the way. I was forced to buy a new pair of Brooks shoes before we left Portland a month ago in order to continue my running streak, at 4.513 consecutive days (12.36 years) as of this morning. Although the stiffness in my lower back did not seem to affect my running, it made it difficult to get out of bed or even bend over. 

Several years ago I had the same problem and sought out a Portland chiropractor, my first experience. Several sessions later I was back on my feet  and no longer had pain shooting down my sciatica nerve. I also used acupuncture to ease the stiffness in my lower back. An occasional adjustment here and there was all that was necessary to keep me going. However, the long car rides and cheap beds along the route from Oregon to Florida have taken its toll, coupled with the delay in delivering our comfortable furniture. After yesterday’s visit I feel like I’m back on the road to recovery. My left arch and big toe are taped together for support. I definitely felt better balanced on my run this morning, however my speed did not improve. 

The article suggests an image of blue helium balloons suspended from my hips, pecs, and head. They are to lift these body parts and keep me from normal slouching. Also, the imaginary buoyancy should allow me to lean forward about 10 degrees to maintain forward momentum. Apparently, my tendency is to rock back on my heels applying the brakes in order to absorb the impact. Obviously, it will take time to make the many adjustments necessary to develop  proper, efficient form. I saw no improvement in my time this morning, but I will continue to give it a chance. My next appointment is Monday with my new chiropractor and running coach.  

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