Roots, syncronicity and Frank Zappa…

Since the weather was beautiful Saturday we took Chester back to Pete’s Pond. Friday had been a turmoil of sadness; not only 9/11 and coronavirus, but I have people in California that I’m worried about and something happened at work that was tragic. Actually a couple things. It felt like the week had been building up, with the world throwing things at us and finally on Friday it came to a head. So Saturday, I had to get out.

I wrote of Pete’s Pond before. The pond has sort of dried, but it was no less beautiful. Chester was such a good boy! He was not reactive at all around the other dogs on the trail. We saw plenty of squirrels and chipmunks and some beautiful dragonflies. I included a picture of one. One of the things I noticed was how a gorge of sorts was cut out alongside the path in the woods. We could see the roots of the trees (hee hee I first typed foots, that would be really cool). No, it was roots, hanging down on the side. Luckily that tree had enough roots deep into the soil to remain standing. We were surrounded by many more that did not have the strength.

Friday was a day of sorrow. I thought of people enduring events that just rock them to the core. I picture the tree standing with half it’s ground missing. But it had deep roots. It may stay there for another 20 years like that, with a wound to its foundation but still providing a perch for birds and a place for squirrels. I know people like that. Some wounds don’t heal but the person finds a way to go on. Maybe they firm up the roots that remain. If someone were to build up the side, it may help. Or, sadly It may not make it, falling like so many of the other trees. I have pretty strong roots. I have a pretty big capacity to absorb sadness and keep going. I hope you are able to weather the events that chip at your foundation and stay standing. If not, reach out to someone, shore up your root system. If so, reach out and shore up someone else’s. Or both.

Switching gears, I may have mentioned my clean out the house mission one or two or fifty times. My two youngest children who have lived in Brooklyn for over 5 years now came back for Labor Day weekend. I think it was mostly to go to our grandson’s birthday party (and it was a wonderful party), but what could be more enjoyable after driving 10 hours than to go through CDs and old clothing? I have planted the CDs are in four separate areas:

  1. Box number one is the CDs that are in their correct cases. About half are mine and half my son’s.
  2. Box number two is the CD cases that have no CDs.
  3. On the spindles are the CDs with no cases, and
  4. On the floor in a pile are the CDs that my son and I and the Riverside High School Bands and Choirs were the artists on. They are mostly his, with different rock or other bands. I was not in a band but wrote a couple musicals so my contribution was less. He has been in about seven bands total, and we have CDs for all. Plus, the high school band and choir CDs.

Surprisingly, he graciously agreed to look at them and tell me what he wanted to keep. He was going through them when I showed him a pile of about 8 Frank Zappa CDs. They were fairly old, with titles like, “Shut up ‘N Play Yer Guitar”, “Burnt Weenie Sandwich,” and of course, “Uncle Meat.” I was a bit flummoxed…I didn’t know he liked Frank Zappa and it was kind of before his time. I asked and he said he bought someone’s CD/record collection and the person was a big Frank Zappa fan. I said oh, then can I give them away or take them to Record Den? He said sure.

While walking Chester a couple nights ago I stopped to talk with our side-fence neighbors. Chester absolutely loves the neighbors, and especially their little girl doggie. So we stopped to chat and while the girl doggie gave Chester the evil eye I mentioned going through CDs. I told them about Frank Zappa and that I was going to sell them to Record Den. The wife said, and I kid you not, that her uncle played with Frank Zappa. Keep in mind I didn’t even know there was a Frank Zappa anything in my house! But yes, her uncle was on a couple of the CDs. So, I happily gave her all of them.  Of course, today I found one more that I had missed.

This is why I don’t want to just pitch the empty CD cases, what if I find a CD and I threw out the case??? How can I throw out the cases?? (You have just peeked into the mindset of a hoarder…) I will probably put all the cases in the newly cleaned out closet. Then after a couple months go through them again and after this recurs about 20 times, then throw them out. I suspect some CDs minus cases are with the Christmas stuff. And the CDs on the spindles, well if I don’t listen to them in a couple months they will go too unless I find another box of CD cases.  But I digress…

The Frank Zappa incident reminded me of my younger years when we listened to “Dark Side of the Moon” and watched “The Wizard of Oz.” If you haven’t done so, do it. It’s an example of synchronicity plus it’s a very good album and a very good movie so it’s a win-win. According to the internet dictionary, the definition of synchronicity is, “synchronism. Coincidence of events that appear meaningfully related but do not seem to be causally connected, taken by Jungian psychoanalytic theory to be evidence of a connection between the mind and material objects.”

Breaking this down, do I have a mental connection to the Frank Zappa CDs? Or maybe to Frank Zappa? Or maybe our neighbor was thinking about it and I was just the conduit.  What made me stop and visit with the neighbors, especially when I looked like six miles of bad road at the time? What on God’s green earth made me mention Frank Zappa? AM I SEVEN STEPS FROM FRANK ZAPPA??? Whoa. As my husband says, some things are unknowable. But the CDs are in the right place now.

Below are three pictures. The first is the tree with roots, and the third is a happy Chester. The second is what I call a dragonfly but could very well be a damselfly. I will rely on my sister to tell me which it is. It’s pretty either way! Have a good week! Shut up ‘N nurture yer roots! 😊

Happy Chester the dog

Happy 2nd Gotcha Day to Chester…

Two years ago today we were on a mission. I had stumbled upon the City Dog website and realized that there were far too many dogs in need of homes. Not exactly news, smarty pants. I knew we couldn’t take them all, and I had avoided going to any kennel or even walking by the cats in the petsmart for many years. I guess it was a weak moment but I took a look at the doggies. Too late, I was sunk. Our kids had moved out and we had dogs before, we knew what we were doing. My husband and I talked, and we agreed that while we couldn’t take them all, we were in a place to help one dog at least.

Side bar alert: our first dog was from a shelter also. We had just moved to Euclid and, looking to make community contacts, I volunteered for a group that tried to place animals with people who called in. I felt hopeful because I had talked with a lady interested in adopting. I tried to match her wants with a couple of dogs I thought she would like. I chose two; a black lab puppy, and what looked like a mini shepherd. When I went to the front desk to ask for their cards I got the lab’s, but the shepherd didn’t have one. The lady at the desk looked him up and said he had been there for a verrry long time but did NOT have a card. I could hear the wheels grinding. Remember, this was 35 years ago, and this was not a no-kill shelter. After a certain amount of time, the animals had to be put down if only because there were so many. It’s pretty unbelievable how many there really are. Until I worked for a shelter I had no idea. But I digress…

The lady didn’t show up to adopt–that bitch! I took the lab’s card back, but now I felt the burden of being a snitch. I had alerted them to a situation that would not result in anything good for this mini shepherd type dog. Yes, you guessed it. I took him home. My husband, bless his heart, bathed him outside with the hose because between fleas and dirt and kennel cough, he was a mess. The dog seemed OK with it. In fact, he seemed OK with everything. He lay in the back yard with his face to the sun looking up and smiling. We named him Pax.  And he was.

Now, 35+ years later, given that we could help a dog, I was looking at the City Dog website and saw a picture of a dog that reminded me of Pax. His name was Roosevelt. He looked about beagle size and looked a little like a mini shepherd/pit bull mix. In fact, the vet at the shelter called him a shepherd mix. It said so right on his form! He was 5 years old and we had agreed that being older ourselves we wanted an older, calmer, not as active dog. My husband chose a few from my list and Roosevelt was one of them.  The city was doing a “Clear the Shelters” week, and I was afraid that the dogs we were interested would be gone, so we went on a Thursday after work to meet the ones we had earmarked.

We met Stephanie, the counsellor, and saw Roosevelt first. He was bigger than I thought, not exactly beagle size. They had taken the picture of him from standing, so he looked smaller. Kind of like when you are fishing and hold the fish close to the camera, only reversed. He loped out into the little play area and peed on the plastic house thing. How many dogs peed on that house do you think? It boggles the mind. He did acknowledge us, coming up and letting us pet him. He was interested in the dog we saw walking with a volunteer and ran around awhile. He seemed stable. We saw another dog next, but while he was beautiful and happy, he was young and very energetic.  My husband said he liked Roosevelt. Stephanie walked him by the resident cat, and he put on an academy award winning performance by not even lunging. Honestly, he ignored a CAT. He knew what was on the line. Sheesh. After some paperwork, he was a DiLorenzo.

We took him home, renamed him Chester and realized that A) he was not small, B) he was pretty much housetrained, and C) while he seemed OK with Milo at first, within a few minutes he chased him down the stairs. Oh, and D) he was not the mellow oldster we expected! He ran around the house and yard like a rocket ship doing zoomies morning and night. He climbed over the fence the second day we had him. He tore up the garbage the fourth or fifth day when we went back to work. He would rip up any box available (still does). He would take stuffed animal toys, tear out all the stuffing, and shake their limp outsides back and forth vigorously until no innards remained (still does). Then he would tear up the outside. We took him on two long walks a day and got the amazing Brittany to take him during the day (still does😊) Then we took him to Petsmart training. We got Kongs to help with the chewing. We spoiled him to the tune of 15 pounds…mostly milk bones I think. It kept him from climbing the fence at least. Over the weeks and months he got a little better, and a harness worked wonders for walking. Days flowed into years. Time happens. Chester the dog (his full name–to differentiate between him and Chester the cat who is my nephew’s cat) and the two old people got to know each other. He calmed down and now tosses around the throw pillows then lays on them to watch t.v. He gives me his paw to go outside. He will sit nicely while we eat but if he sits too close he will drool on us. He usually gets the last bite but don’t tell the veterinarian. Chester has become part of the family.

Chester my sweet dog, two years have passed. You have gotten me walking and daydreaming. This blog would not be without you.  You have become my laughter and my friend. You keep us on our toes but are happy just to be here. You love your backyard and are doing an excellent job of keeping those terrorist bunnies and squirrels out. The cats…well, we will work on it. There is always hope.

Happy 2nd Gotcha Day my big goofy happy pup. You are truly a good dog and I love you.  

Below are pictures of Chester/Roosevelt when we got him, his Gotcha Day burger which he inhaled (I took off the candles first), and our first baby, Pax. Have a wonderful week!

Roosevelt before he was Chester
Gotcha Day Cheeseburger!
Our beautiful Pax

Why I want to be Harley Quinn and other random thoughts…

I want to be Harley Quinn. I know she’s got more mental health issues than I could shake a stick at but she shakes a baseball bat so whatever. I have some mental health issues too, probably more than one would think. In my outer self I can keep them at bay but my inner self wants to be Harley Quinn. Here’s why, along with some random thoughts I had while walking Chester.

Harley wears her hair in pigtails. I love pigtails. Since the shutdown I decided to let my hair grow as long as it wants to, and turn grey. Part of it is turning grey, part is not. It looks like hell. It’s also hot as hell in August. I can’t handle hair on my neck in August. Usually a ponytail is OK but when it’s really hot nothing beats the pigtails. And, like Harley, my hair is multiple colors. I’m rocking it.

Harley enters new situations boldly with gusto. I don’t. I get very nervous about meeting people and invariably say something incredibly dumb or freeze. Even when I was little I was a shy kid. The first day of kindergarten was torture. I cried the whole half of a day we were there, even during the nap time. Yes, we had half day kindergarten AND nap time. The teacher had a magic wand, and each day someone would be chosen as the magic prince or princess. That lucky sprite was to gently tap each child to wake them. It was marvelous to walk among the children, most of whom were not sleeping and really wanted to get up, knowing that if you were the sprite you had the power to make the ones who were mean to you stay asleep longer. But I digress…

Harley is the life of the party. She’s popular, smart and beautiful. I was a little bit smart but that’s about it. I wasn’t fat but I was a little overweight. In about 5th grade I grew taller, and my dresses became a little short. I remember standing in line when two girls pointed at me and said “oooh, sexy” then exploded with giggles. I wanted to disappear and put on a robe. I never wore that dress again. A year later, some girls were talking in class. The teacher asked them what they were talking about and they said a birthday party they were going to. It was going to have horseback riding. To this day I don’t know why but the teacher turned to me in front of the class and asked me if I was going. I said no. She asked why and I said I wasn’t invited. My face turned red but I didn’t cry. That’s probably the only way I really am like Harley.

The guys love Harley and want her until she hits them with her baseball bat. As a young teen I was a comic book fan, especially Archie, and Betty and Veronica. Betty and Veronica were always competing for Archie’s attention. I remember being so excited to get a new comic book and find out what cool girls were doing to get a boy. My first date was fixed up by my mom and a teacher friend’s’ son. I had won tickets to Ice Capades on the radio call in and had nobody to go with. I think his name was Paul. I wore velvet bell bottoms. He was nice enough but halfway through he went down the rows to visit someone he knew. We spoke about 50 words the whole time and watched the Ice Capades. Our moms were in cahoots but we didn’t go out again. So, I decided to make myself a 15 year old version of sexy. I poured Sun In and lemon juice on my hair, baby oil on my skin and lay out in the sun with my sister for hours. She turned brown, I was a peeling lobster.  I just knew that blonde hair was the way to get a boy.  On me though, the blonde had this orange tint. Not what I planned.

Harley isn’t afraid of violence or hurting people. I am afraid of violence. If i wasn’t, I would have cracked those smirking girls’ heads together. But they wouldn’t have smirked at Harley. And if Harley wasn’t invited to a party, there would be no party. I would probably feel sorry for the stupid teacher or have empathy, my typical response. I can rationalize anything. Check this out…she probably grew up without friends and turned into this prunefaced simpering bully because she had a little power as a teacher and could make the popular girls talk to her when in her day they ignored her just like they ignored me. I’m pretty good at that, right? Truth is, I don’t really want to hurt anyone. I just want them to not hurt me.

Yes, I want to be Harley Quinn. But alas I am too old. Plus she isn’t real, but that’s a minor issue. Isn’t there something in us all though that wants to explode sometimes and just not care? Don’t we all want a bad ass moment or two? I think that’s why I like her; not because I really want to be her in real life, but I’m kind of tired of caring. Doesn’t that sound awful? Don’t worry, my inner Harley is staying in my imagination. Meanwhile…some random thoughts…

CVS was all out of hand soap except for this Yardley lavender kind. OMG it is phenominal. I love it! It’s smooth, silky, and smells divine. Try it!

Chester and I walked a long way this morning. We were able to watch the moon fade and the sun come up. The clouds were lit from the sides like waves. I always wish i had my phone/camera but I never do. It reminded me of a poem I memorized when I was obsessed with the book “The Outsiders” and still remember to this day. It’s called “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost. It goes like this:

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

but only so an hour.

then leaf subsides to leaf.

So, Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Have a beautiful week and here is a pic of Chester just because. He’s been a sort of bad boy because he went after Milo the cat. Milo pushed through the screen in the bedroom and escaped onto the roof. Chester is in the doghouse. But we still love him. He looks like he is sorry. Below that is a cruise in search of barn quilts and covered bridges we went on with our Model A group. We did not win the contest but had alot of (safe and social distancing) fun!

Model A line

Familiar places and a doggie song…

It is beastly hot here. Now those of you in Florida or Georgia or Alabama or any other traditionally hot zone can stop rolling your eyes and scoffing. Yes, I heard you scoff. Granted, Ohio is not unbearable except for the humidity. But it was hot enough to be less than enthusiastic about a long walk in the sun with Chester. So we took him to Lakeshore Reservation. I have posted pictures of this park before; it’s on Lake Erie and has a paved trail. It has the rock sculptures and used to have a wooden swing-type bridge but that was taken down. Now it’s roped off with emergency tape. Maybe someone broke through while they were jumping up and down on it. Anyway, we had made sort of a decision to try every park in the system, a new park each week. Somehow though with all the change in the world we just wanted to go “where everybody knows our name” or something like that.

We went for a nice walk and it was just right. Everything was green except for a few flowers which made the green even greener and popped up like little gemstones. I had no thoughts except that it was so beautiful. I felt like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, just overwhelmed by happiness. It didn’t matter what happened before or after, it was Just. So. Beautiful. Of course when I tried to take a picture of a path that struck me as lovely, Chester photobombed it (see below). No matter, a dog’s got to do what a dog’s got to do.

I know I haven’t posted for awhile. I’m not sure why except the weeks just got away from me. I thought you deserved a doggie song for waiting. The song is about the Stuffing of the Kong Ritual. For the uninitiated, a kong is a rubber thing in the shape of a snowman. There are holes at each end and the idea is to stuff it with treats like peanut butter, little biscuits, then we stick half a milk bone in the hole and freeze it. He gets it after the morning walk and it takes a good amount of time to lick the frozen concoction. Or it used to. Now he just lets it sit for 15-20 minutes until it thaws a little then eats it. We have been outsmarted by the hound. The song is to the tune of Yellow Submarine:

It’s the stuf-fing of the Kong

Peanut butter, can’t go wrong,

And some pump-kin makes him drool

Then it’s frozen, nice and cool

(Chorus, nice and loud now!) We all love the stuffing of the Kong,

The stuffing of the kong

The stuffing of the kong

We all love the stuffing of the kong,

The stuffing  (you get the drift)

It’s not my best work but want to guess what will be going through your head for a couple hours? Go ahead and hate me haters.

Have a good week. I will try to post more often. Happy late Father’s Day to all you fathers, and happy late 4th of July to the Americans. Happy late Canada Day to Canadians, and I hope that everyone had a nice summer solstice (also late).  Should I say Merry Christmas now so I’m not late?

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A particularly lovely path.

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Chester just decided he was done. Doesn’t he have an exceptionally long tongue?

Hoarders and letting go…

I may have mentioned before that I have watched an episode or two of the television show, “Hoarders” and the more disgusting variation, “Hoarding: Buried Alive” otherwise known as cockroaches, poop, mold, and gross things. I watch people recoil at the moldy food in the oozing refrigerator and smugly sit on the couch thinking, “I would never let my house get like that.” Well, lah dee dah, missy. No, I recognize my hoarding tendencies. I have always had a difficult time letting go of things. I look at the paper box that my son made in first or second grade that says I love you mom and there is no way that’s going in the garbage. Instead I put it in a box and shove the box into the attic. Or at least I did. Heads up people, I have changed. I have had the breakthrough of a half century. The shutdown has led to a massive cleaning in our house. Hoarders helped. I started to actually listen to the counsellors on the show and take it to heart. Here’s what I discovered.

  1. I like my things. I can’t just get rid of only the things I don’t like because I do like them all. If I didn’t like them I wouldn’t have them. But I have to get rid of things I like because it’s just too much. It’s like Bruce and the chocolate cake in Matilda. The psychologists on Hoarders ask do you use it? Does it fit your life right now? I guess if I didn’t know it was there until I uncovered it in the attic, well no.
  2. Many of the things were gifts and have memories attached. I’ve always been afraid of forgetting things. I’m afraid I will forget without things to bring the memories back. I guess this is true, I may forget. But for me there is a real danger of living in the past. I hold the baby clothing and remember how precious and adorable they were. (I’m talking about my kids, all over 26 years old, still precious and adorable).
  3. Something about my kids’ artwork just screams “Keep Me!” Especially the self-portraits. It doesn’t help that they are good…that’s not what makes it tough. I told my husband if I throw out a self-portrait it feels like I am throwing out a piece of the kid. It’s like Voldemort in Harry Potter—each self-portrait is kind of like a horcrux. But my kids did not leave pieces of themselves in paintings in the closet.

With all of these mental roadblocks, I have still cleaned out about six moving boxes worth of stuff. I have thrown out artwork. I gave away baby clothing. What happened? Simple, my son and daughter-in-law bought a bounce house.

My grandsons are six and almost three years old. With the COVID shutdown their activities have been curtailed aka non-existent. Of course I had some ideas of what they should do, but before I even thought to offer my keen insight, or at least much keen insight, they bought a bounce house. Yes, a bounce house! The kids absolutely love it and the six year old can connect it to air and fill it up. It’s wonderful! Even more wonderful is that it is something I never would have thought of!

Here’s what I realized in two nutshells: they are creating their own memories. The boys will grow up and say, “Remember when we had that bounce house? That was so much fun!” I had the chance to create memories with my kids. I don’t need to keep every game, every toy, every book for the grandkids because they have things of their own. Honestly, I don’t think I was keeping it for them anyway. I was keeping it because I had such a good time with my own kids I thought we could have the same time with the grandkids. I wanted to relive it. But it wasn’t for them it was for me. I just didn’t realize it.

My kids are making memories. They are good at it. I don’t have to worry. I’m giving away all the stuff I have hung on to for so long. They have the right to create their own remembrances. I don’t have to pass mine on. The best things in life are ephemeral anyway. When I used to play something on the cello and it went really well (not that often but even I got lucky sometimes) it was magical. But we didn’t have cell phones with recording and when I was done it was gone. Even now recorded music can never have the same feeling as the live moment. The moment is loved and enjoyed then it’s gone but that doesn’t mean it was nothing. My kids’ art is sort of similar; it reflects a moment in time or a person in a moment in time. Keeping it won’t bring that moment back. The kids moved on to more moments. I need to as well.

The other nutshell holds this thought: stuff can really weigh you down both physically and mentally. I don’t want to walk from room to messy room. I can’t clean the ever present dog hair or cat snot off of stuff. It’s bad enough to vacuum the floors every day and wipe down the bathroom mirror so people won’t think I’m a snot face. I don’t want to clean dog hair and cat snot off all the shells I picked up from the beach or the stuffed soft kitty, or the kid’s paper box that says I love you mom. I can’t solve the world’s problems if I’m busy moving stuff around. I have to clear out my head and my home.

Not that it’s easy. When I have a difficult time my husband knows now…he switches the tv to Hoarders. It’s always on, I swear. I watch the lady with the mansion—9000 square feet of hoard. I tsk, tsk, shake my head, then I’m back. The counsellors say you have to live with the discomfort. I can live with the discomfort and let it go anyway. It’s OK. I am brave.

We have reached a milestone as of last weekend. Our attic is totally cleaned out. And no, I didn’t just move it to the garage, I know what you’re thinking! Well, I did move one thing, but only one and it will be gone soon. My dear husband has made full car after full car trips to Goodwill or Salvation Army, and our dumpster was overfull today. In fact I put a white plastic bent drawer thing out for the trash and someone took it!

I know this post isn’t about Chester, but Chester has been a lazy boy lately. He has only wanted to go for short walks and when Brittany comes he just lays on his back so she can scratch his tummy. She knows his tricks though and usually can get him outside. While I clean, he watches. Good news–he has conquered his fear/outrage at the lawn mower. John can mow and he ignores it. He does like to pee on my new plants, which can’t be good.  I included a picture of him just because he’s so darn cute. Now if you’ll excuse me I must go clean something.