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 johnstonwrites.com
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!”