Today's thoughts

Retirement is not without Hassles: Little Pink Houses #2400

John Cougar Mellencamp is a fellow Hoosier, from Seymour, Indiana, where my 90-year-old birth mother just passed. I never met her but talked with him at an I.U. basketball game. He wrote these lyrics that always reminds me of our pink Coverdale Lake home (See Post # 2399):

“Aw, but ain’t that America for you and me
Ain’t that America somethin’ to see, baby
Ain’t that America home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses for you and me
Oh yeah, for you and me.”

My parents bought it for themselves, but it ended up in my hands, then my sister’s, before we sold it. One of the first goals was to repaint it and eliminate the pink tiles in the master bathroom. For that matter, it could have been Barbie’s house! I bought gallons of gray paint and rented both a pressure washer and sprayer. The rest of our family taped-off windows, doors, around fixtures, and grabbed paint brushes. We were ready to start the de-pinking process. 

I set up the sprayer just outside the garage and filled it with paint before starting it up. A gasket apparently failed and the machine began to spew paint all over the garage, cars, pavement, and me. It was a total disaster before I finally was able to shut it down. I then quickly grabbed the power washer to rinse-off all the areas covered in the gray paint that was supposed to do away with the pink. Ultimately, it took hours of time and gallons of pressurized water to clean up the mess, while the rest of the family began to paint by hand. Fortunately, nothing was ruined except for my ego, that had devised this quick-fix plan.  By the time I had cleaned-up the mess, returned the faulty sprayer, and took the time to buy more paint, it was no longer an economical or efficient idea. They were nearly done by the time I got back. Painting has never been one of my strengths.

Other improvements that we made to the house, included a wood-burning stove in the basement. A friend built the concrete block flute, and a window opening was adapted to serve as a pass-through for wood. I spent most of my time working on the limestone retaining walls that framed the stairways down to the lake. I would no sooner get one re-built before it once again crumbled from erosion. Friends would come over on weekends, but I was always busy fixing these troublesome walls, enviously watching them play in the water. They would also drink all my beer until I stopped buying brand names and switched to generic BEER. They eventually got the hint and began to bring their own. Lake life was never as I dreamed!

We had several big parties at the house. One was a Halloween party where I built a cardboard chute down the basement stairs as an entrance to the haunted house below. The other was a softball series between the two Federated Media radio stations where I worked. The Ft. Wayne stations, WMEE & WQHK, against my original employer WTRC in Elkhart. Players arrived in motorhomes filled with kegs of beer and camped at the end of our dead-end drive after an afternoon of competitive softball. We roasted a pig and borrowed a pontoon boat that nearly sunk; then got stuck in the narrow, muddy, channel between the lakes. It was a wild scene out of the Jungle Queen!

I worked at a Styrofoam factory, FORMEX, for many years, so I had a fleet of sailboat and catamaran seconds, along with paddleboards, floating lounge chairs, and kick boards. I also had a pinball machine in the basement, plus ping pong and pool tables, so it was the ideal party palace, certainly not what my parents envisioned when they originally bought it. Multiple balconies looked out over the lake and the pier was ideal for sunbathing. No wonder it was a popular weekend retreat for my friends once it was no longer pink. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: The Log #2399

One of my greatest pranks of all time involved my parents. They had bought a second home on Coverdale Lake, just north of the Indiana state line in Michigan. It was a small lake with a narrow channel that led into popular Long Lake. This channel was not deep enough to accommodate speed boats. As a result, Coverdale flotation traffic was limited to slower pontoon boats, sailboats, and fishing boats. The house was painted pink when they bought it with a knotty pine-paneled interior, so they initially had plans for extensive remodeling and to turn it into their retirement retreat. That’s a whole other story! Instead, it eventually became my home that I rented to my sister when my wife and I moved to Ft. Wayne several years later. 

The home sat high above the lake in a wooded area on a private cul-de-sac with no other homes on either side. The properties across the street were at Long Lake level, so their driveways were steep drops downward. This meant that there were fabulous lake views from both the front and back of our home, in addition to the privacy, so the home had a lot of investment potential, especially once it was de-pinked. There was a stone fireplace in the living room that had a lacquered 4-ft. long log, six-inches in diameter, suspended over the mantle. It had a smooth surface, having been stripped of bark, with a knothole, and the stub of another sawed-off branch. The log must have had some significance to the former owner, but it seemed like an odd way to decorate a living room. At least, it was stained the same color as the pine paneling behind it. My dad hated the look of that log, and it became the first thing that he removed from the home after purchase. We thought about burning it in the fireplace, but for some unknown reason they never used their fireplaces for anything other than decorative displays. The one in their main home had a black, antique grate with white birch logs and never once was used for an actual fire. 

I describe it as a log; however, it was really a severed tree limb. I’ve seen mantles shaped from trees, but I have never seen another log suspended over the mantle, hanging there like a broken branch as a decoration. It sat in the garage for some time before my dad decided to dispose of it. One day, I helped him load it in the back of his station wagon, and he took it to a dump site near a construction project in his neighborhood. For some onery reason, I decided to follow him in my car and retrieved it. You have to understand that my dad was meticulously neat about everything. He did not like things out of place or unorganized and treated his lawn like it was part of the Master’s golf course. My sister and I tried to meet his rigid standards of cross-cutting, recycling the clippings, and properly trimming. I probably failed miserably, being impatiently in a hurry to just get the never-ending job over with. We both feel that we spent most of our high school years mowing and edging his landscaping masterpiece. Heaven forbid that a fallen leaf disrupts its pristine presence. 

Dad would stand at the kitchen window each morning with his cup of coffee and admire this work of art. One morning he discovered something out of place and went out to investigate. That’s when he discovered the abandoned log sitting on his precious lawn. I, of course, had placed it there the night before. This was just the beginning of what would become a family tradition.

My mom thought it was funny, as she observed his reaction and called me to report that he had taken it back to the same dump site. I immediately drove there and retrieved it once again, but stored it for a while in our garage, waiting for the right time to strike again. I guess a few months later I wasn’t being very creative when I pulled the same stunt again. This time my dad kept the log, ready to devise his own stunt. 

It arrived at my office at the radio station in Fort Wayne a few months later via Fed Ex, a long package on my birthday where I was admittedly clueless as to what it contained. Inside, covered in gift wrap and adorned with a bow was this log. My parents were much more creative than I ever was with this delivery. However, the next time they visited Fort Wayne to see me, I booked them at the new Holiday Inn downtown. Knowing the manager, I also arranged for the log to be nestled in their bed. They took it back home with them. By then, my mom had used a wood-burning kit and began to engrave the dates and places where this log showed up unexpectedly. At one point, it stood upright decorated for Christmas. Mom had a ball with it! My sister was the next victim, and she returned the flavor, but over the years the log mysteriously disappeared. In fact, I’m still waiting for it to reappear!


Retirement is not without Hassles: The Run is Done #2398

“The Run is Done,” a simple rhyme that I hear in my earbuds each morning as I strip off my shoes and socks. It’s said by the AI coach that lives in my Nike Run App and keeps track of my miles or provides performance data. I haven’t always used this app to monitor my runs, but it does date back to 2021, two years ago. Before that, I relied on it occasionally but also used a Nike watch, Fit-bit, Apple watch and various written diaries or logs to time and record my runs throughout the years. I’ve averaged just under 2.5 miles every day, although recently I had cut back from a 5k to 2.1 miles in lieu of the Florida heat. 

For many years, I used a transistor radio to keep me entertained. After being in the business, I liked to listen to local radio stations as we traveled and hometown favorites on my everyday jaunts. On many occasions I would listen to talk radio. Sometimes, I just liked the silence with only the sound of my shoes striking the pavement. Nowadays, the Nike app allows me to play my favorite Apple Music downloaded tunes unless the connection goes bad. I’ve written poems in my head as I’ve plodded along, solved the problems of the world, and planned the day ahead, all along wishing to hear the words, “The Run is Done.”

I was hard-wired to the devices that I carried until the technology for wireless earbuds evolved. Prior to this ingenious innovation, there were times when I got entangled and disconnected while running or even nearly decapitated when it caught on the branch of a tree or poorly trimmed bush I was passing. Currently, it’s just me, my phone, and these earbuds that go with me on these daily journeys. I also get notified by the AI coach in my ear every half-mile that I complete and also heard split times before my pace got embarrassingly slow and I shut that feature off. I don’t even want to know anymore but can’t help but sneak a peek after I finish. This morning, my first mile was under 15 minutes, while the second slowed to 17 minutes. Most people walk faster than this, unless they are tethered to a dog or two. Granted, I’m taking it easy after a heart procedure. 

I now wonder what the Nike running coach will think when he (or she) no longer has me to push along? Will they understand the reason that I’ve stopped slogging every morning? Do they secretly laugh at my form and times? What do they do when they’re not watching me and filling my head with praise and encouragement? Furthermore, what will their final words be when I make that last run? Will it be more profound than just “the run is done?”




Old Sport Shorts: Get Hot Now #2397

I’ve done too much whining about my health lately, so I need to change gears and move forward. Sports have always been a great distraction, so my Saturday started with College Gameday. For a first time in years, Alabama doesn’t seem to be much of a factor, much to the dismay of my half-sister. Maybe the BIG Ten Conference will be a factor in determining the national champion. It’s been nine years since Ohio State won it all. They also did it 2002, and Michigan claimed half the title in 1997, while Nebraska was #1 in 1995 and Penn State victorious in 1986, prior to both joining the conference.  The South has prevailed!

IU plays Akron this evening in a must win game to even have a small chance for a Bowl bid. Purdue is equally impotent after a conference loss to Wisconsin last night. Moving to the West, I will enjoy watching the Oregon Ducks battle Colorado in afternoon “Prime Time.” At least the Buffalos have made college football interesting under the influence of Deion Sanders, a man who lacks no confidence. Former IU QB Michael Penix, Jr. is now a Heisman Trophy favorite after transferring to the University of Washington two years ago. Both Oregon and Washington are soon headed to the BIG, with the hope that more member teams will eventually put the conference in the CFP picture, or will the South rise again?

Going South seems to work for baseball and football, where warmer climates mean more outdoor practice time. Fortunately, basketball is an indoor sport, so Indiana still has a chance to return to greatness. Geographical advantages regarding sports do not extend to the Pros, although Tampa Bay and New Orleans has made the South Superbowl proud. As for baseball, Houston and Atlanta are recent World Series winners and current contenders from South of the Mason-Dixon Line. The Cubs could use a little Southern Comfort and Hospitality in Atlanta next week after a slippery September. They are in danger of finishing the season like they started it – poorly (going South). As they say down there, “Ya’ll get hot now, you hear!” 

Retirement is not without Hassles: My Way #2396

It is easier to type without the brace on my wrist, but my hands still shake so the lack of coordination with my fingers leads to many corrections. The two conditions are not related because my puncture wounds from the catheter will heal but the essential tremor is apparently here to stay. I’m feeling better today having completed the familiar two-plus mile route this and keeping my streaking journey alive. In the world of streak running, there are no excused absences. You do your daily mile minimum regardless of the circumstances or fail. I’ve done this now for 5,381 consecutive days, but the finish line is sadly in sight. More testing in the next few weeks will eventually lead to major surgery and the inevitable end of my race. I salute those that will continue on without me. Looking back, I thought I saw the end a few days ago, but here I am still at it!

When I do eventually cross that finish line, there will be relief and sadness but no regrets. I’ve run through ice storms and tropical depressions to get this far, so it will not be easy to stop. My recent posts have been apologetically obsessed with this reality, but writing like this is like personal therapy. Most of my few readers know me and are aware how attached I am to this streak and its bragging rights. As I’m stumbling, bumbling, rumbling along each morning, I try to appreciate the benefits of all this exercise. I think it all paid off when they found my arteries to be clear of any blockages, despite my high cholesterol that also requires medication. 

My way is the highway – miles and miles of wear on my many pairs of shoes throughout these fifteen years. During the course of this streak, I will have logged over 13,000 miles, enough to get from Portland, Oregon to Venice, Florida and back twice! Although a bit dramatic, I can’t help but think of the crooning voice of Frank Sinatra, and the lyrics written by French artists, “And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…I traveled each and every highway, and more, much more than this, I did it My Way!”




Retirement is not without Hassles: He’s Back #2395

I first thought of Jack Nicholson in the movie, The Shining and the “Here’s Johnny” line, but quotable variations of unexpected returns to battle are numerous throughout history. 


Russell CasseIndependence Day

“I’m back.”

Michael Jordan

My return to the pavement is hardly noteworthy to most people, but yesterday I was certain was the last day of my Running Streak. I was envisioning the private celebrations of fellow streakers about to move ahead of me in this imaginary race that would hopefully never end. I had worked my way up to the Top 200 positions in the world, only to discover that as word spread on who had accomplished what, I now stand at #226 of the active longest running streaks in the world. No one ever seems to drop out. It’s a stubborn group of disciplined runners that somehow just keep going despite any adversity. I only know a couple of these warriors out of the thousands that are listed on the registry.

With a brace on my right wrist where the catheter was inserted yesterday at the hospital, I was able to convince my cardiologist to run the minimum mile to maintain my place in the race. Fortunately, he found no blockages. Although I couldn’t do the usual 88 warm-up push-ups, today was day #5,380 of running every day, dating back to 2008. It hardly compares to the leader’s start date of 1969. A Massachusetts woman is tied with me but she’s 23-years younger. Most everyone is younger, with the exception of about 35 individuals that continue to stay in front of me. Some are so far ahead that I will never catch them in my lifetime even if they’ve already dropped out of the race. 

In two more weeks, I will have a second heart procedure, a (TEE) Transesophageal Echocardiograph that could pose another threat to my Streak.  Of course, other unpredictable factors like injury, weather, or worse could put a quick stop to it at any time. I’ve been fortunate through the years to avoid any such setbacks. Eventually, this is going to lead to surgery to repair the aneurism that has existed in my aorta for years, posing a threat to more than just the end of a silly Streak. He’s back….for now!



Retirement is not without Hassles: The End of an Era #2394

I’m up early this morning in anticipation of upcoming heart procedures and hungry from fasting. I’ll be at the hospital in an hour or so after scrubbing my body with antibacterial soup. I’m still not sure what to expect but from what all I’ve read about a catheterization the doctors are probably not going to want me to run tomorrow. I ran a mile plus this morning with thoughts of it being my last for a while, the Streak ending at 5,379 days. However, I’m stubborn so if I am able to get on my feet tomorrow, I will undoubtedly try. 

I would be surprised if they didn’t find some blockage in addition to the aneurism. I have really been struggling with my breathing and stamina of late. The run this morning was awkward and uncomfortable even though I tried my best to relish the moment and recount my accomplishment of nearly fifteen years. If I’m not able to run tomorrow, it will be only a matter of time before the surgery ultimately puts a stop to it. I’ll be like an addict with an itch to scratch and the period of withdrawal will certainly be miserable. I can start again, but who really wants to run when it’s such a bad experience fighting balance, stiffness, and coordination issues. I’ll be better off finding an alternative and my knees and hips will probably thank me. It’s the end of an era – “That’s All Folks!”



Retirement is not without Hassles: Co Pay #2393

In the past week alone, I’ve had to fast twice for blood tests, had an EKG, gave blood, took a flu shot, endured numerous medical consultations, set up a urology appointment, picked up several prescriptions, went to both the dentist and chiropractor, and took my wife to the eye doctor. She also had a blood test and flu shot. Tomorrow I will experience my first heart catheterization, hardly the thrill of a rollercoaster ride. We’re stuck in Co-Pay Purgatory. Fortunately, not all of these medical services require a payment up front, but then bills usually follow. Then, there’s the dog medications!

Obviously, this is all better than paying the full price thanks to Medicare and Blue Cross. Plus, I’m supposedly healthy for my age or at least work hard trying to be. I can’t imagine what other seniors go through physically and financially. I’m off to a chair yoga class that will hopefully teach me how to breathe more efficiently. The stress of tests and payments have taken a psychological toll. We’re going out for a big lunch with friends this afternoon before the fasting starts again. Yesterday, it wasn’t until mid-afternoon that we finally got to eat and drink. Then, we gorged ourselves on bread and pizza at Angelo’s Italian Market and Restaurant. 

I’m not as tired as I was yesterday, so maybe the flu shot did bring on some mild symptoms. Another Covid booster is next. I’ve also been fighting congestion and sleeplessness. My arm is dotted with needle tracks, after being prodded and stabbed too many times recently. At least, running was more comfortable this morning with a light mist bringing down the heat. Thankfully, I should get a Social Security deposit today, so I can make more co-payments tomorrow!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Keeping the Doctor Away #2392

I honestly believed that “a 5k a day would keep the doctor away.” Why else would I torture myself first thing every morning? In the past, I would go in for my annual checkup and this was the only exposure I had to white coats. However, in the last few years this has increased to probably one a month – blood tests, preventative shots, neurologists, urologists, physicians, cardiologists, chiropractors, PAs, nurses. I also have a special glow about myself after cat scans, x-rays, and now an upcoming heart catheterization. My “best shot” anymore is solely related to flu, covid, shingles, and pneumonia! More importantly, I’m learning how to properly spell and even pronounce all these medical terms. 

Running might be keeping some weight off, so I look good on the outside, but my insides are a mess. Like any addiction, good or bad, I know that if I stop, I may never be able to start again. I feel threatened that my running streak of now 5,376 consecutive days may be jeopardized by upcoming surgery. Then, my only streak would be Wordle, now at 145 straight solves. In a sense, this is a relief, knowing that I would not have to wake up with a feeling of regret, followed by sweat, strain, and breathlessness. I would finally make it to the finish line, without the next day to worry about. 

Running has been my primary motivation for getting up in the morning for the last 15-years. Before that, it was races, marathons, serious training, and topping personal bests. With the streak, it was all about just doing it every day – time, speed, and distance supposedly didn’t matter. However, I was all too conscious, even embarrassed, that I couldn’t go faster and farther anymore. Plus, the Florida heat started to bother me, so 5k has become 2.1 miles. Fast walkers were starting to pass me and good runners left me in the dust. I was simply going through the motions. 

Like everything else in life, if the streak ends, I will deal with it and probably find a better alternative. I salute those that have somehow fought off all adversity and made it to fifty years, forty, thirty, and even twenty years of running every day. It’s also a major accomplishment to do it that first full year! As a lifetime member of the United States Streak Running Association, I read the articles about these phenomenal achievements and also the stories about injuries, surgeries, travel, weather, and even forgetfulness that prevent a streak from continuing. There are sadly those that don’t get up the next morning and many that have simply started a new streak. I’m just not sure at my age that I want to, especially since, like a bad apple, it’s no longer keeping the doctor away. 

Old Sport Shorts: Relevant No More #2391

I’ve only managed 41 posts in the last 90 days, less than once every two days and far from my initial daily retirement commitment. I’m definitely slowing down in old age with little eventful to write about and a lack of motivation. The Georgia Southern vs. Wisconsin football game is apparently more important to the BTN viewers than the IU vs. Louisville match-up. Another slap in the face to Hoosier football, as I’m forced to watch the stats on the app, as was the case with IU soccer last night in their BIG opener against Wisconsin. I didn’t miss much since the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Plus, IU has yet to sign a player for next year in basketball, as top recruits continue to visit the facilities, but no one as yet committed. Am I worried yet? The first of the targets, Jaedan Mustaf, just signed with Georgia Tech.

Shohei Ohtani has just cleaned out his locker in Anaheim and is headed back to Japan- his season over and future in question. I have one more card coming in the mail, touting his stolen base and home run achievements, but injuries have not allowed him to fulfill record expectations. Will he have surgery and land with another team next year? Is his 2023 MVP crown now in jeopardy?

Can the Cubs hang on to the Wildcard and somehow make one last run against the Brewers for the division crown? The Brew Crew has gone 7-3 in the last 10 games while the Cubbies, while I’ve been paying attention, have slipped to 4-6. I should probably shift my allegiance to Milwaukee to put the jinx on them. My fortunes in sports continue to lead to disappointment. The poor play of Da Bears and reduced expectations only adds to this despair. Fantasy team injuries could jeopardize this week’s match-up with “Listed as Questionable,” a team name synonymous with my lack of luck. I need some good news to pick up my spirits that are bogged down with medical concerns and restless nights. 

I had another rough night’s sleep between many trips to the john and fears of my computer/phone being hacked. MonopolyGO continues to be a welcome distraction. This evening I’m spending with a group of satisfied UConn fans, defending NCAA Basketball Champs. It’s been 36-years since I’ve had that glow about me. At least, the Patriots are struggling this year, to keep them somewhat humble. My lineup of teams don’t seem to be relevant anymore!

« Older posts

© 2023

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑