Today's thoughts

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Retirement is not without Hassles: Mt. Everest #1567

Yesterday, I climbed Mount Everest and even just watching from the couch left me cold and exhausted. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, yet never will. My knees shake from going up a ladder, let alone one perched above a bottomless crevasse. I’ve never been one to shy from a physical challenge but not one that requires you to step over frozen bodies to get to the top. You can feel the frostbite in your extremities and see the danger of each death defying step. It’s also odd to consider that one of the biggest dangers is being stuck in a line for hours trying to withstand forty below conditions because of the bottleneck of climbers trying to get to the peak. I hate lines!

Expedition Everest at Walt Disney World is the closest I’ll ever get to the real thing. It’s enough terror for this old man, plus it’s somewhat cheaper than the $40,000 price tag of paying a mountain guide. Besides, I would prefer sweat over numb while waiting in line for hours. Also, the only Yeti I’ll ever see outside a theme park is the cooler we own. There are still two more seasons to watch of Everest: Beyond the Limit that will further convince me to stay as far away as possible. At least, it’s something new to watch on afternoon TV.

In the evenings, we continue to explore the Hitchcock movies. We started with 39 Steps, followed by Rear Window and Dial M For Murder. Tonight, we have dinner at a friend’s house in the interest of variety that will keep us out of the living room. Soon, we’ll be on that plane to Florida and far away from these cold, damp conditions. We’ll also be on safe flat land rather than a dangerous icy mountain, worried about sharks rather than Abominable Snowmen, and sunburn instead of frostbite. We’re off to the Everglades – not Everest!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Drowned Rat #1566

I came in from my run this morning looking like a drowned rat. The rain was coming down and the wind was blowing in my face. I tried to dodge the puddles but the passing cars sprayed me with muddy water. It was day #4398 of The Streak and I’m glad to now be sitting in warmth. Next week I’ll be complaining about the Florida heat. Our schnauzer Tally was not happy about the rain either and stalled before getting out of bed. She ran away from me as soon as I tried to put on her coat and took the shortest route possible to do her business. The only thing tolerable about wet weather for her is to be thoroughly toweled-off afterwards. 

I got two new tires yesterday as further preparation for our upcoming cross-country drive to our new house. There was a slow leak in the front right that was easily patched, but I decided to look out for our overall safety. The back two tires were previously replaced, so only and an oil change/tune-up remains to be done before March. That’s when we expect Florida construction to be completed. We’re all looking forward to getting out of this rain when we go down to check on it next week. It will be two much anticipated weeks of sun and surf.

We caught up on the latest episodes of Your Honor and Shameless yesterday. and I watched The Tide Roll over the Buckeyes for the National Title. My entire focus will now be on basketball starting with the Indiana vs. Purdue match-up Thursday night. Tomorrow evening we agreed to go to a friend’s house for dinner. It’s the first time we’ve dined out for months and the first time in ten months that we’ve broken bread with anyone other than family.  Once we get to Florida, the restaurants will be open and we’ll not be cooking. It’s my turn to prepare tonight’s meal. Hopefully, I will have dried out by then with only faint memories of the splash I made this morning, running like a drowned rat!

Retirement is not without Hassles: North Bay Drive #1565

1565 North Bay Drive was my second childhood home, having moved there between the fifth and sixth grades. When I reached post #1001, I wrote about the other house. (See Post #1001). I’ve been trying to dig deep in my memory bank about these early days of my life, as I continue to work on my latest novel attempt now re-titled “The Table of Dope,” based on a true story. I’ve shared sections of the book with close friends and am encouraged to continue. I just added a chapter that describes how difficult it was to move away from friends, neighbors, and classmates to start at a new school. Although, it was just across town, it was still a traumatic yet valuable experience that I really put much thought into – until now.

There was a period of loneliness in this transition where I learned to develop my imagination, playing games by myself in the isolation of the basement. As I sit here at my writing desk in a similar state of withdrawal, I’m about to make another move, this time to Florida, that will require making new acquaintances. It’s the 32nd time I’ve changed living arrangements, starting with college and extending into two marriages. I feel no sense of trepidation whatsoever considering all the changes I’ve made in life. Hopefully, this will be the final step, barring assisted living. I did apparently spend the first month of my life in an adoption home. However, the move from 1001 to 1565 was the first that was memorable and forced me to accept change no matter how uncomfortable it may seem in the beginning. 

I’ve learned to embrace change and look forward to new opportunities. I’m not excited about the hassles of packing and unpacking, but a brand new home that we had a role in designing is a first. Everything should be just they way we want it based on all the different places where we’ve each lived. It incorporates the custom elements of indoor & outdoor cooking, gourmet kitchen, comfortable space for guests, plenty of storage, a pond, pool, privacy, recreational access, and carefree maintenance. Two months and counting until this all takes place and the new address becomes 13083 Borrego St – a long way from 1565 North Bay Drive. 



Retirement is not without Hassles: Baseball Cards #1564

I failed to write a post yesterday for the first time since I can remember.  This used to happen on occasion when I was traveling, but like running it’s usually a daily priority. I did get a short run in first thing yesterday, ending a long stretch of 5ks. One mile is the minimum distance to maintain my running streak that is now at 4,396 consecutive days, without fail. I just didn’t have time to sit down and write afterwards, anxious to make a 9 a.m. meeting. A small group of baseball card collectors typically gets together once of month at Target prior to the card show inside Mall 205. It had been months since I had attended due to Covid shutdowns and other obligations. Yesterday morning, I was on time to grab a caramel latte at Starbuck’s only to notice that the dining area where we meet was closed down. I should have known! None of my friends were anywhere to be seen. 

I tried to reach them by phone, but got no answer. After waiting for fifteen minutes, I decided to get back in my car and drive to the rear entrance of the Mall where the exhibitors can enter before the doors officially open to the public. It was difficult to recognize anyone considering the masks, beard growth, and extra pounds, but eventually I found some familiar faces. I then spent about 2 hours going through boxes of baseball cards from 1958 and 1959, selecting a few for my collection. I also got a couple of unexpected gifts – items they had found at other shows that I might treasure. It was a fun morning that took me away from the normal running, writing, and sitting routine. 

After we had tired of the show, two of us tried to find an open restaurant for lunch. The main goal was beer, while take-out was the only available option. We settled on Stark Street Pizza and ended up paying $21 for a six-pack, preferring to support this local business rather than the 7-Eleven down the street. Oregon is now allowing liquor take-out to supplement food sales for these struggling dining spots. We took our pizza and beer to a nearby park, selecting a table to enjoy what we joked to be “a romantic picnic.” I mentioned to him that my wife would love an impromptu rendezvous like this,  but here we were sitting together in natural surroundings as two desperate dudes. It was too windy to relish the cold beer but the pizza box warmed our hands. The biggest problem, however, was there were no rest rooms. We chugged the last beer in the comfort of the car and drove separately to the nearest gas station only to find the facilities closed due once again to health concerns. I soon pulled behind his parked car near an isolated construction site to empty my aching bladder.

The low-air warning light suddenly flashed on my dashboard, so on the way back home I stopped at the neighborhood tire store. My wife’s daughter and their dog Falco was at the apartment when I arrived, so I got tied up in conversation, further delaying my time on the computer keyboard. Opening the mail, dinner, book editing, football, dog walks, and Hitchcock movies ended the day without the thought of sitting down to write. When I went to write today’s blog, I realized that baseball cards had distracted me from doing this daily duty, so I may write twice today to make up for this tragic oversight. Did you miss me? HA!



Retirement is not without Hassles: Home Inspection #1563

This morning was about as exciting as it gets these days. The money was deposited in our savings account to cover all the closing costs on our new Florida home and the builder took us on a detailed tour of the exposed wiring, plumbing, and structure. Our new home is slowly coming together based on the model we selected and the modifications that we arranged. Ten-foot ceilings, eight-foot doorways, a larger garage, upgraded appliances, and a pool are gradually becoming reality. I will share the floor plan and some photos with my friends shortly in a Zoom “Leadership Meeting.”

This afternoon, I will then put together a plan for to tomorrow’s baseball card show. I want to fill in some lineups for the 1954-1972 White Sox teams. I also added some photos to my Sherm Lollar collection this past week with some E-Bay purchases. Switching back and forth between hobbies keeps things from getting too routine. Card collecting, genealogy, and writing have been the mainstays of retirement. It’s been frustrating not being able to travel, as well, but at least a trip to Florida is only a week away. We’ll check out the house in person, visit with friends & family, drive down through The Keys, and spend a week in Miami. Florida is the one place that has been consistently open this past year, so we’ve managed three visits, including the cross-country drive. 

It was another frustrating finish for I.U. basketball last night. A chance to beat Wisconsin in Madison for the first time in 23 years fell short in double overtime. We were on the verge of winning in regulation and overtime, but the second extended period was all Badgers. The next game is Sunday at Nebraska, with must-win expectations. The new year has not been kind to the Hoosiers with key losses in both football and basketball. At least, I have a new home to look forward to in March since Madness may not happen again for this very average BIG team. Today’s home inspection, however, has lifted my spirits about the future. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Little to Report #1562

It was a rare, dry morning as a ran the streets of Portland. Our city seems so quiet for once compared to the pandemonium in Washington. It’s sad to see all the disrespect for people and property. I’m glad I have no place to go today and nothing to do. It is, however, Game Day, so there’s something to look forward to this evening. We finished The Crown and started a new Showtime series with Bryan Cranston called Your Honor. My wife and I also did a short road trip yesterday to get my hair chopped off, go to the bank, and have lunch at Panera Bread. It was indeed another big day of little significance, especially after watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Hangover.

I continue to work on Tribulations & Trial, my latest novel project. I’ve already gotten some positive feedback from the same friends that panned A+ Killer. This one has a lot more potential but needs an extensive character development make-over. Both writing efforts have been fun exercises in these times of extreme isolation. It’s much more constructive than sitting around watching TV, although I tend to do both at once. I always wanted to publish something worthy but have consistently fallen short. However, even writing without monetary reward is good therapy and personally satisfying. 

It’s now words instead of days on the 2021 calendar. “Watershed,” “empyreal,” and “erne” have crossed my desk already this week. My weekly chef duties were fulfilled last night, although it was simply reheating the cabbage & carrots from New Year’s Day and the Italian Beef from my last crock pot go-around. Stinky Tally is headed to the doggie spa this morning, and we still await the construction photos of our new house. It’s another quiet, uneventful day in the neighborhood, with little to report. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Mind Games #1561

I’m pretty sure I set a Guinness Book of World Records mark this morning. It was for spotting the most blinking dashboard security lights during the course of a 3.1 mile run after an ongoing streak of 4,392 consecutive days. This is how absurd some of these records get, especially when undocumented. The blinking light game has become a regular distraction from the boredom of taking step-after-step-day-after-day. Most mornings, I’m lucky to find ten blinkers, but today it was twenty-three – the first time I’ve ever even broken twenty. On one occasion, I didn’t see a single one. Today, I was so focused on this game that I forgot about the stretch of Bs from Beauty to Bantam or the A to Z challenge. This is what happens when you’re forced to run the same route every day and need to fight off the monotony. At least, it wasn’t raining this morning, just puddles to avoid. 

Some days, I actually do constructive things with my mind when I run, like make-up stories or write poems. If I’m lucky, I get distracted with a problem that needs to be solved or hear a familiar song and struggle for some time to recall the artist. Dodging leaves, traffic, puddles, potholes, and cracks also keep my mind engaged. On a good day, I even come home with an idea about what to write about in this blog. With little on the calendar these days, however, it’s too often freestyle ramblings that land on these pages.  Despite the aches and pains, the run always gets my blood flowing and makes me feel better, especially after a restless night. 

Once I get out of bed every morning, the first constructive steps are always stretching, sit-ups, and push-ups. This is followed by a short dog walk and final preparations for facing the elements. It’s always a relief to get all these responsibilities out of the way so I can simply put one step in front of the other for forty minutes plus. It’s a routine that doesn’t change much from day to day, except what I wear and where the street and sidewalk detours sometimes take me. By this time next year in Florida, it will certainly be dryer and warmer conditions with less traffic. I’ll come back drenched in sweat rather than soaked with rain, and maybe go for a dip in the pool? There will not be the homeless camps, street cars, busses, noise, and trash of downtown Portland. I’ll be playing different mind games without the blinking lights, shops, underpasses, and traffic signs that currently mark my way every day. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Rest in Peace #1560

We finalized the arrangements for the Florida home down payment yesterday, so expect the Stock Market to go up today and in the near future. We also got a call from the builder, promising to send photos this week and scheduling a video inspection with us this Friday. Things are slowly coming together for our cross country move. I naturally made a detailed list of things that need to be done. In addition, our trip plans for Russia were completed this morning with a small deposit refund coming our way. So far, it’s been a good week, with even a basketball victory last night.

I need to get out the apartment in the next few days for a haircut and to work with a notary on some financial paperwork. The move to Florida will save considerably on state taxes with these recent stock transactions, but we need to arrange for long distance signatures. On the fun side, a Zoom Leadership Meeting is on my agenda for Friday noon just after the builder meeting. This is our only option these days instead of traditional lunch beers together at Buffalo Wild Wings.  At least, as my friend noted, we won’t need to wear pants.

Sadly, my baseball buddy was in touch last night with news of the death of Vince Pesky at age 99. We were at his last two birthday parties before Covid interrupted this past year’s celebration. All three of us were a week apart in birth dates, but generations apart in age (99, 69, 52). Vince’s brother, Johnny, is famous for the Pesky Pole at Boston’s Fenway Park. The family is from Portland and Vince was the last living sibling. I also lost an 81-year old cousin in the last few weeks while his funeral was yesterday, so not all news has been good. He passed on Christmas Day. However, it’s a good life if you reach eighty, let alone nearly one hundred. Rest in Peace, my friends. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Retirement Sidelines #1559

It’s the first business day of the New Year and the Dow Index is not reacting favorably, considering the year ended at record highs. It’s officially dropped below the 30,000 mark, wiping out last week’s gains. Today, of course, is when I planned to sell in preparation for closing on our new Florida house. If there’s ever an indication that the market will go down, it’s because I’m involved in a transaction. But investors should take heart in knowing that tomorrow will certainly see an uptick – unless I decide not to sell. It is also a dark, gloomy day here in Portland and my shoes were thoroughly soaked after this morning’s run. 

Today’s calendar word is apercu, with a curly-cue under the c, meaning a brief survey or sketch, outline, or immediate impression. I don’t see it being remembered or used in my limited vocabulary. In fact, it was so much better to have pictures to look at each morning. These often inspired something to write about. Instead, there’s little else to report. Hopefully, this week we’ll get pictures of the construction progress at the new house and go through the first stages of inspection to assure that outlets and upgrades have been properly added. It will also give us a clearer picture on when the project will be completed. 

TV viewing habits changed last night with the long overdue ending of the Suits series. There were some good seasons but soon became too predictable. At last, we’ve moved on to the fourth season of The Crown and the first appearances of Princess Di. I also finished Rocky II in between watching Sunday football highlights on the Red Zone. Next on the agenda will be I’m Your Woman and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. As far as reading, I just finished the House of Kennedy by James Patterson. It was hard to keep all of them straight, as the book jumped from tragedy to tragedy. 

Although there’s a lot to look forward to in 2021, we’ll be in a holding pattern these next two weeks. There is little planned before we head to Miami for a much anticipated two weeks in the sun. It will be good to get away from my office desk and the television screen, not to mention the rainy conditions. America is back to business in a new year, while I continue to sit on the retirement sidelines and gladly watch the action. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Give Me Sunshine #1558

A lot of people were out this morning finally getting an opportunity to begin their New Year’s resolution of getting more exercise. Skies were clear for once with a break in the rain. My running shoes were still a bit damp from yesterday’s puddle dodging. The warm Florida temperatures were certainly tempting my imagination in thinking ahead to next year at this time. Instead, it was a stuck inside kind of day with two bowl game disappointments and the first of a Rocky marathon. I’ve enjoyed watching some of these old movies, starting the new year with the traditional Planes, Trains, & Automobiles and completing The Godfather trilogy. It’s hard to believe how little I remember from watching years ago. I’ve also got at least four more Rocky features to get through.

I flipped over the first page of the new 2021 word calendar to find definitions for “homage” and “oblivion,” so certainly not serving to expand my vocabulary so far. Today is Bears Sunday football that will certainly be frustrating. Scotch will hopefully take the edge off. In addition to the boxing movies, I’ll continue to proof my first draft of Tribulations and Trials for a friend to review next week. It’s only about 175 pages, 40,000 words at this point, with lots of tedious work ahead. The story is about my personal involvement in a 1971 drug bust. If I can’t even remember popular movies, I probably don’t have much accurate recollection of events that happened fifty years ago. 

I tried my best yesterday to cut back on the heavy food consumption casualties from celebrating the new year. I naturally like to do some January cleansing to help counter the extra weight gained over the holidays. I could certainly stand to lose ten pounds as we head to sunny Florida in a few weeks, hoping to avoid being mistaken for a beached whale. My extra layer of fat and pale white skin will not be an attractive sight, but a common look for the thousands of snowbirds that head to the Gulf every winter. By this time next year, I should once again have a decent native tan. Missing out on Bali, Hawaii, and St. Kitts this year certainly didn’t help my current lack of color. The upcoming week on South Beach  and The Keys will help get me started. Give Me Sunshine!

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