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Retirement is not without Hassles: Heat and Humidity #1675

The Florida temperatures are starting to heat up. This morning’s run at 8 a.m. showed the temperature at 81 degrees but felt like 90. The humidity was 95 percent and in this neighborhood there are few mature trees to provide shade. My t-shirt was thoroughly soaked when I finished the 3.1 mile route to the bridge and back. I was drained until I hit the refreshing pool water and did a few laps. It made me think that the Marco Island conditions probably weren’t that much different, but psychologically I wasn’t familiar with the route. Confidence is  everything when it comes to running.

Today, I visit the chiropractor that should greatly  aid my flexibility. My back is stiff and sore but oddly  does not seem to be a factor when I’m running. It is painful bending over but once my posture is erect there is little discomfort. Some of this is just old age but all those recent hours of sitting in the car or sleeping on unfamiliar beds have thrown my hip out of adjustment. As has been the case the past few years, a couple of sessions should do the trick. I should start to feel better tonight, especially after a couple of margaritas. 

Mother’s Day is this Sunday so a couple of upcoming posts will focus on my wonderful mother who passed seven years ago, as well as my bio-mom that has yet to acknowledge my existence. Also, living down in this area of Florida has brought back many childhood memories of my parents and grandparents. For example, on our way back from Marco Island we drove past the Shell Factory and Thomas Edison’s home in Ft. Myers, sites of several family outings while vacationing in nearby Englewood. Life has gone full-circle for me at least geographically. I just have to get used to the Florida heat and humidity. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Cinco de Mayo 21 #1674

The list of May celebrations continue after May Day, the Indy 500 Mini-Marathon, May the 4th be with you, and now Cinco, with Mother’s Day just around the corner. We just returned from Marco Island and it’s good to be home, even despite the fact that there is still no furniture after 3 weeks of being here. A nightstand and rug are being delivered today along with more electronics, but the bulk of our possessions are apparently still in a Portland warehouse. These items are now 19 days overdue as a driver has yet to be found. It seems so odd that a major trucking company cannot find anyone to transport our load, while we continue to buy items to fill-in our empty cavern of a home. 

This morning’s run was pleasant and satisfying. The past two efforts on Marco Island were miserable. I could not catch my breath in the humidity, but two hours north and just off the steamy Gulf has made a big difference. I was able to easily complete my 3.1 mile journey and return to the standard morning routine. No elevators, key cards, or masks to contend with, except for our trip to the doctor this morning, as the kidney stone trauma comes to an end. We’ll honor Cinco de Mayo tomorrow with a family dinner of tacos at the neighborhood tequila bar, Irma’s. At least we can go out to eat, unlike last year (See Post # 1312) when we were stuck in our Portland apartment, suffering from the pandemic like everyone else. 

I will drink from the skull cup tomorrow evening and hopefully take advantage of everyone else’s Cinco de Mayo hangover. The place will be packed tonight in honor of the occasion, but should be quieter for our visit. My grandson needs to be picked up tonight from his mother’s house, my son is working, and several service appointments are scheduled for this afternoon. Plus, my wife will be feeling much better by tomorrow. It only seems appropriate to wait for the celebration. Happy Cinco de Mayo 2021 everyone. Salud!

Retirement is not without Hassles: May The Fourth be with You, Again #1673

We watched the Kentucky Derby a few nights ago, signaling the beginning of another May. My spirits are definitely higher than last year’s post (See #1311) where I first discussed Star Wars Day and all the other important dates this month. However, no force was with me on this morning’s run, a repeat of yesterday’s frustrations with the humidity here on Marco Island. It would probably take me several more days to adapt to these conditions, but we’re headed back to Venice this afternoon where it’s a little more inland and certainly less humid. My lungs and legs have been suffering, as “The Streak” continues.

Nothing says May to me more than the Indy 500, as activities kicked off with the Mini-Marathon. All those memories of long days at the track came flooding back with the loss of Bobby Unser yesterday. It was coincidental that our friends, whose condo we’re staying at this week, mentioned an Arizona neighbor of theirs named Lydia Laughrey who was one of the very first women to own an Indy Car racing team. This was back in 1987 when she secured the necessary sponsorship dollars for driver Steve Chassey. I, too, was very involved in the racing game that year and several more after. We called Lydia last night so I could hear her story since there’s very little about it on-line. It will be interesting to get with her on our next trip to visit these friends in Marana. It might be something to write about. 

We’ll get a few more hours of beach time this morning before we hit the road. Although it seems like we’re on a distant tropical island, home now is only two hours away. We’ll be back here many times in the future, as we’ll continue to explore Florida. I will also eventually adapt to the steamy conditions after a few summers in the state. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner last night at The Oyster Society and another comfortable evening surrounded by furnishings. Tonight, it will be back to our empty, hollow home, but Tally will keep us entertained. May the Fourth Be With You, Again!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Marco Island #1672

We’re staying with friends on Marco Island for a few days. They came to visit us with initial plans of staying at our house, but without furniture this was not possible. As a result, we ended up at their temporary place, a Marriott Vacation Club. This morning I fought the humidity in a miserable attempt to run and ended up walking after two miles. It was one of my worst efforts in some time, with the feeling that my body was totally used up. I’ll know tomorrow if it was just a temporary set-back, or if I’m truly getting too old for this streak that now extends to 4,509 consecutive days. 

This getaway to Marco Island was a last minute miracle, considering that only a few days ago we had no options for someone to take care of our schnauzer Tally. My wife met a woman at our neighborhood dog park, looking for advice on a groomer. She directed us to a couple that owns eight schnauzers. As it turned out, they were excited to board Tally for a few days so we could get away. To make matters even better, Tally seemed equally excited to spend time with their dogs, even after the grooming. She ran right into their house when we dropped her off, in sharp contrast to her last few visits to the dog spa in Portland where she shook in fear. My wife was relieved to find a great option for Tally when we travel.

We arrived on the island yesterday afternoon and took a walk on the beach. I spotted a tent with the IU Hoosiers logo and met some folks from the Evansville area who owned condos in the adjoining property. It reminded me to monitor the NCAA soccer tournament match against Brooklyn St. Francis later in the afternoon. The Cream & Crimson advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the sixth straight year on penalty kicks.  Hopefully, they can continue on to win their ninth National Championship – next up Marquette. 

My wife finally got a good night’s sleep last night, as we both enjoyed the soft beds. It was also refreshing to stay some place with comfortable furniture to sit on. We have one more nights to relax with friends rather than squabble about what needs to be done in our new home. Hopefully, we’ll hear from the moving company this week about a potential delivery date for our stuff. Life is good on Marco Island!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Venice Smiles #1671

Limoges Box giving this year has been limited to Valentine’s Day, with all of them now packed up in a Portland warehouse. In the twenty-two years since my wife and I have been together they have always had a place in our home, It only seemed appropriate that I splurge on another, a fitting tribute to our Venice home. Travel has also been restricted this past year, with three years having passed since our memorable visit to Venice, Italy and the famous Rialto Bridge. We then went on to tour the Greek Islands and the city of Greece, our last Viking Cruise. Plans for Bali, Egypt, Barcelona, Kauai, and Russia have all been since cancelled due to the pandemic. 

Most of these lost travel adventures have been invested in our new home in Venice, Florida, where we have daily reminders of the Venice, Italy adventure. We actually often talked of moving to Italy for a year in retirement, so this housing addition of Venice-like bridges near the Gulf of Mexico is likely the closest we’ll probably ever get. The turn-around point of my daily runs is at the crest of one of these neighborhood bridges. They reflect in the numerous canals that give most of the homes in our new neighborhood a water view. 

It occurred to me that the curve of these structures form the shape of a frown, but the reflection on the water’s surface is a happy smile. Perhaps the architects knew this when they designed the famous Italian city, six-thousand miles on the other side of the Atlantic. It’s Florida namesake is now our home town, and a porcelain replica of the Rialto Bridge now sits on our mantle, signifying happy times ahead. I wrote this poetic tribute to the newest addition of our Limoges collection:

Venice Smiles

After thousands of miles,
We’re finally here.
Twenty-two years,
Of lovin’ you dear.

Our forever home,
Is now complete.
Even though,
We’re without a seat.

From Venice to Venice,
Six thousand miles.
Crossing that bridge,
Brings memorable smiles.

I bought for you,
Rialto Bridge.
And a brand new home,
With an extra fridge.

Though empty now,
Yet filled with love.
And blessings from,
The heavens above.

Though North American,
Has let us down.
And bridges can form,
A gloomy frown.

But the water reflects,
A sunny smile.
And gives our addition,
Italian style.

The waterway canal,
Takes that frown.
And turns the curve,
Upside down.

The magic of Venice,
In our neighborhood.
Where love is strong,
And life is good.

copyright 2021 johnstonwrites.com

Retirement is not without Hassles: Finish The Move #1670

Our black schnauzer Tally gets her first Florida haircut today after yesterday’s romp on the beach. Actually, it was one of our most disorganized, shortest excursions yet. The first thing that happened was I got stopped for speeding on the way there – 40 in a 30. The woman cop was very forgiving and let us off with a simple warning. Welcome to Venice! When we finally arrived at the parking lot we discovered that we left our beach (Fry) chairs back at the house, so it wasn’t really much of a Fry Day. Shaggy Tally was hot, searching for shade we couldn’t provide, so she laid under a towel. The spray can of suntan lotion also failed to work, so we had little UV protection, further reducing our interest in staying for long. Fortunately, with the top down we were at least able to get some sun on the way there and back. Tally got down on the floor and took advantage of the air conditioning. She’s not quite yet a Florida dog, but hopefully a shorter cut will help her deal with the heat. 

There was not much of a sunset at Fins last night with a low cloud cover spoiling the view. It was beautiful though looking out over the Gulf, after fighting for a parking spot.  Our friends were delayed by Friday afternoon traffic getting down I-75. I think they are appreciative of where they chose to live in Tucson where traffic jams are few. It was good to see them again after a full year of pandemic isolation. We were with them in Phoenix last March when everything shut down, including the Spring Training games we were supposed to attend. It was one of the last times that restaurants were fully open and masks were yet the fashion. Here in Florida, I’d say that probably only 25% of the people use them. We wore ours out of habit to enter the restaurant last night, but not at the table.

At the other extreme, back in Portland, where our furniture continues to sit, restaurants have once again been shut down. The contrast between the two states in Covid management is remarkable. The Florida economy appears to be vibrant, but perhaps the liberal mask policies and social distancing restrictions are too loose. Portland also continues to struggle with ugly protests and mayoral death threats as I see on my Facebook feeds. I hope someone is able to rescue our furniture before it somehow gets destroyed. I’m glad to be away from the chaos that threatens what was once a great city. We just need to finish the move!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Fry Day II #1669

About a year ago, 325 posts in the past, I wrote about Fry Day. (See #1344). We had started our Florida search for our forever home, but spent too much time in the car eating McDonald’s French fries. It had a much different meaning than today when we’re headed to the beach with our Fry Chairs, expecting to roast in the sun and surf. The search is over, construction complete, and we’ve moved in. The only thing missing at this point is our furniture, now two full weeks past due and still stuck in a Portland warehouse. We feel helpless in trying to rescue our possessions since numerous phone calls and conversations have been fruitless. 

Today we get a visit from the couple who inspired our retirement home decision. They were friends from our time in Decatur, Illinois but have since moved to Tucson, Arizona. They built a home in a Del Webb residential development that appealed to my wife and I. We have since followed their advise on looking for a resort community that fits our needs. The main difference is that their backyard is filled with cacti and succulents while ours is primarily water and a screened-in lanai. We also wanted to be near the ocean, so Venice became our #1 choice. These friends are traveling cross-country with children in Texas and the Carolinas, so they will stop in to check-out our new home. Sadly, it is like an empty tomb, without rugs, carpeting, artwork, and furniture. Not much to show-off!

We’ll return to Fins tonight for a sunset dinner after French Fries at the ballpark last night. Yesterday, I took the grandkids to the rooftop Tiki Bar to watch the Cubs play on the big screen. Unlike the night before, the struggling Cubbies were able to score some runs and eventually beat the Braves. The sunset was once again beautiful, but the kids a bit rowdy. I hope I can get used to it. Today, it will be the peaceful beach and bright sun. We’ll steer clear of McDonald’s, park our chairs with a Gulf view, and soak in some rays on a Friday Fry Day!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Pool School #1668

We go back to school today – Pool School – where we learn all about taking care of our new swimming pool. Hopefully, they can set up the fountain to run when we want and properly hook-up the underwater light. The pool also gets converted from chlorine to salt this afternoon. We’ll probably start with a maintenance program until we get the feel for its care. At some point, we’ll probably end up installing a heater, but I’m content with the temperature for my morning laps. I’ve gotten in it every day since we’ve moved in, slowly putting a dent in its cost-per-use. 

There’s a lot to learn about our new house, as we’re gradually trained on the use of associated appliances, electronics, and mechanics. We know all about smoke alarms and got our new central vacuum accessories yesterday. We’re ordering rugs and furniture to reduce the hollow echo, as we continue to wait for our lonely furniture that sits in the Portland warehouse. No word from North American Van Lines despite several calls this week. They supposedly continue to refund us $100/day penalty that now amounts to over $1000. Plantation shutters and lanai blinds have been ordered for much needed privacy from the close-by neighbors. I’ve met the people on both sides now, but those across the street seem much friendlier. 

New home celebrations continue, as we get settled. Two pictures have been hung on the wall and we own a new ladder. Today is my wife’s eldest daughter turns 40. My son and his wife presented us with a wall hanging of “Happy Together” in honor of our 20th anniversary last week. Two of their three kids have birthdays in May, as we soon flip to our second Florida month. Last night we went to the neighborhood ballpark for dinner, where the sunset was much more entertaining than the game. The Braves, now our home team, drubbed the struggling Cubs 10-0. They took them to school – not Pool School. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Bay Palms #1667

It was nearly 17 years ago when my wife and I found Bay Palms Trailer & RV Park, upgraded from just a Trailer Park where my grandparents once kept one of their home-away-from-homes. Their permanent home was in Elwood, Indiana, with trailers at Corey Lake, Michigan and Bay Palms –  Englewood, Florida. Depending on the time of year, our family would spend weekends in Michigan and vacations in Florida. My sister and I shared these cherished memories of growing up when she visited yesterday. We went to the beach together for lunch where we once hunted for shark’s teeth and drove down the Gulf Coast in search of the park that was once the home of Pelican Pete. 

My wife and I had recently driven that route only to discover no signs of my grandparent’s park. I remembered only a marina next door but couldn’t pinpoint the spot. Yesterday, my sister and I persisted, asking strangers about the location and driving through a few trailer settlements along Englewood’s Lemon Bay. After 50 years, nothing seemed familiar but we pulled into a newly developed park that I believed was the former site. It was called Lemon Bay Sunset Rotary Park and I pointed out what I recalled to be the site of our once beloved vacation spot. Mr. Coffman was Pelican Pete’s caretaker, once removing a fishing hook from his beak, and his mobile home was the best in the park, occupying the scenic waterfront corner across from the Marina. My sister was not fully convinced, so we searched several other areas before returning unsatisfied to our house. 

I Googled the park, still believing my theory was correct. Sure enough I found an article from the Englewood Sun newspaper with the headline: “Property transforms from Trailer Park to Community Park:”

“For many years, it was a small community of people living in mobile home by the bay. For eight years, it was abandoned. Now it’s an attractive, well-used park in the heart of Englewood.

“It’s gone from being a trailer park to a beautiful community park,” Charlotte County Commissioner Bill Truex said Wednesday at the dedication ceremony for the Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Park and its new clock.

The park, which has a boat ramp, a floating dock and canoe and kayak launches, clean new picnic areas, restrooms and a brand-new playground, is finally finished. Giant live oak trees shade much of the park.”

The Rotary donated clock now marks the spot where my sister and I first experienced Florida. Ironically, she has bought her own second home in the Leesburg area while our new home is just north of Englewood. There are still several palms in the park by the bay but no longer a Bay Palms.

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Alarming #1666

There are just too many 6’s in today’s post – #1666- indicative of last night’s new home trauma. Sometime in the middle of the night, the smoke alarms went off, echoing throughout the walls of our empty rooms. With no furniture – trauma in and of itself – there was nothing to cushion to sound. Our schnauzer Tally ran for cover. I went to the electrical box hoping to find a switch to temporarily disable the detectors. The master bedroom circuit seemed like my best bet, but it didn’t do the job, as shrieks of sound and fire warnings continued to reverberate around me. Tally tried the front bedroom and waited by the front door for relief. The noise must have been overpowering for her sensitive ears. To make matters worse, my wife left her in the car for a few minutes this morning to pick-up the mail and the car alarm inexplicably went off. Poor pup! For me, it’s good to be partially deaf. 

I tried calling the 24-hour hotline for assistance, but the woman on duty insisted that it was not on her list of dire emergencies and we’d have to wait until morning. I pleaded that we couldn’t sleep and the dog was traumatized, but nothing could be done from her perspective. She suggested I call the fire department, but I did not want to dial 911. Of course, I got no answer. Under normal circumstances I would have gotten my ladder and climbed to the 12-foot heights where the detector was located and disabled the culprit. However, our ladder is packed away in a Portland warehouse still awaiting a delivery driver. I searched through all the warranty information that they left me, once again without a solution. The noise stopped for awhile – and then restarted. So, I called the hotline back. In the meantime, the shrieking stopped again but an annoying red light flashed across our bedroom ceiling. I thought I would never get back to sleep or get our pup calmed down. 

This morning I’m on the phone to electrical contractors and the builder trying to resolve the problem. At first, they indicated a two-week wait to get a service appointment, but are currently trying to find someone working in our neighborhood. Certainly, with homes going up all around us, someone will come to our aid. I still don’t understand why shutting off the power didn’t work – maybe they mislabeled the electrical panel? So here we sit helplessly in a new house, with no furniture, and flashing red lights. The alarm could come back on at any minute and no one would hear  our screams. It’s alarming!

 

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