Bob Ross trees and cheeky squirrels…

The rain has been steady here which is expected I guess for the cold, rainy season aka fall. Tuesday morning (it was still dark) Chester saw a bunny in the yard and chased it under the shed. The bunny was perfectly safe under there, in fact the bunny, unlike the hound, was out of the rain. Chester, possibly thinking he could facilitate bonding with bunny, did his best to crawl under the shed from all four sides. He wasn’t satisfied to go around one time, no he spent minimally 15-20 minutes out there running around to the different sides, belly crawling and pushing his snoot under the shed. He looked like a soldier going under barbed wire in basic training. Now stop and think for a minute…about a dog attempting to crawl under a shed when it had rained for awhile and under the shed is mostly mud.

I cannot describe the mud and the smell of the mud that emerged from his little escapade. He stood patiently while I used two beach towels and a bath towel on him. It didn’t work. He still was muddy, smelly and happy as could be. Nothing existed in his world except the joy of the bunny chase. He was really tired too. I tried to redirect him (if you are in social services you know that means drag him into another room while telling him he wants to go there) but he jumped on the bed anyway. Those bunnies exhaust him. They are just the highlight of his day/week/year.

The squirrels on the other hand are somewhat entertaining but do not intrigue him at the same level. Our neighbor feeds them and they are fat, mostly friendly squirrels. Running away from Chester is the only exercise they get. They go halfway up the tree and cluck at him while he bounces around below. They seem to know just how high he can jump. The neighbor brought over a giant sunflower head for the squirrels. I know what she’s up to…she’s trying to get them to bother us instead of them. The squirrels actually go into their garage and try to open the squirrel feed containers.  They are getting a little cheeky; there is a fat one who’s pretty aggressive. That one’s the ringleader. I picture them in little black leather jackets.

During a break in the rain I was walking Chester, and the color in the leaves was just overwhelming. It occurred to me that it was like Joseph’s amazing technicolor dreamcoat spread out over the land. We performed that musical three times and I still remember the song, red and yellow and green and gold and ochre and peach and ruby and violet and…etc. If these leaves are what the coat was made of, I see why the brothers were jealous!  One of the homes has two significant trees; a maple and a blue spruce. I call them my “Bob Ross Trees”. There’s something about the colors that makes me picture Bob Ross painting them. They do seem to be happy little trees. The pine is blue and when the maple is green it’s nice, and when the leaves are gone it’s OK, but when the leaves are orange/red the blue just pops.

While I am sitting here typing and trying to find words my cat is eating the plant. He will probably puke shortly. But I digress…

When the weather is grey I feel like my eyes are deprived. When I see beautiful colors I just stare to fill them up again. It’s like when we go to the art museum, I feel like I need to fill up on beauty. I stare at the paintings and feel the joy coming in. My ears feel like that too. Sometimes in the fall I listen to fantasy football radio more than usual to try to find the sleeper of the century, and then I turn on music and my ears have to fill up. There’s only so much fantasy I can take when my team, The Killer Tomatoes, is so dreadfully awful. How bad is it? It’s as bad as this joke:

Why don’t helicopters fly in the morning? Twirly.

 I feel myself rambling today and talking about basically nothing. COVID, politics, natural disasters, crime are all swirling around me and I’m talking about squirrels and leaves. I feel like I am in the eye of the hurricane with my mud puppy. It’s calm in my world, at least. Unfocused but calm.  I hope you can feel  peaceful vibes coming your way covered in leaves, smelling better than mud, and as beautiful as Monet. Fill up and have a good weekend!

The sunflower head
just nice color
the Bob Ross trees

Prime Day and the City Dog reunion…

This week included “Prime Day” the day when all that is holy ceases to exist. Not really, that just sounded dramatic so I wrote it. It was prime day, only it was for two days. Someone on the news said that “It’s like Black Friday”. They went on to say “Only it’s for three weekends”. What? I don’t think so. Prime Day was for two days and encourages us to purchase gifts and items from Amazon. Like I need encouragement…

My husband and I used to go Christmas shopping together at Toys R Us. Boy I miss that store. We’d have a glass of wine and then brave the crowds. One year we actually went to Target on Black Friday and it was awful. It was a surreal scene. Everyone’s eyes were glazed over, scanning the aisles for the one bargain item that everyone else wanted too. We witnessed a lady literally grab an item out of my husband’s grasp. We saw pushing and shoving and generally bad behavior. So we left, got some pie or something and went home. That was it for us.

I really miss shopping in person. I struggle with this every year. Every year I say “I’m only going to get gifts from local businesses.” But then I get pressed for time. Online shopping is just so easy. You type in what you want and it appears. No going from store to store, no standing in line, and why is JC Penny’s so dang hot all the time? K-mart used to be the store that I would go in and every muscle would tense up. I think it was the awful music they played.

Online shopping has its own trials though. I had an enormous cat tree in my amazon cart and ordered some sheets. I thought gosh, those sheets cost more than I remember. I didn’t mean to order the cat tree but boy oh boy I did. And, I am so proud that I put it together all by myself. Believe me, for a “directions challenged” person, that is a real feat. It’s solid.

I’m never sure when I buy gifts early where I put them all. I forget that I even buy them. Once I put a bag of gifts  up in the front coat closet. I found them on Christmas day not even wrapped.  I stealthily put them on the front porch and “Oh, wait look what Santa must have dropped!”

I have bought some gifts from ETSY already. My nephew and his girlfriend have a store on ETSY and I figure it’s a good half-way goal; it’s small business but online. I am going to order some things from local west side shops here in Cleveland. See, we are east siders. It’s about an hour to drive across Cleveland to the west. So I think that’s OK. Oh, and did you notice? It’s still OCTOBER and not even Halloween! I’m going to buy as many local gifts as I can, and I probably will fill in the rest with online stuff, it’s hard to find good gifts when I don’t know where to start. Meanwhile…

Chester’s City Dog reunion is this week. Last night was an ask the trainer session. Tonight is virtual doggie happy hour! The dogs are supposed to take part. We’re all going to sit in front of the computer and try to get our dogs to cooperate and look at each other. I’ll let you know how it goes. We had past City Dog reunions and I wrote about them. I’ll repost a picture (below) of Chester at one. If you want to know what City Dogs is, it’s dogs and their owners who adopted a dog from the Cleveland City Dog Pound/Kennel. It’s a really strong group, lots of encouragement for each other, and good ideas.

This is my first Friday post, my weekend goal. I also tried to make it a little shorter. That probably won’t last long though, I do like to go on a bit. I will try to stick to Fridays so you have some weekend reading. Think of this as a letter from a friend/grandma/mom/aunt/whatever. Have a good week, and if you bought out the store on Prime Day don’t tell me!

Skiing and a doggie song…

Chester is exhausted. Yesterday he spent the day at doggie day camp playing with about 15 other dogs. He thinks it’s his job to make sure everyone is behaving. I was watching on camper cam and he was barking at two dogs that were play wrestling. I could tell because his mouth was moving. Luckily there is not sound on the camper cams because 8 hours straight of barking would be torture. 

Speaking of torture, apparently two prison guards were punishing inmates by playing the song “Baby Shark” over and over. Now if you have not heard Baby Shark, stop reading right now and listen to this link: 

Now you understand. Yes, we as in grandkids and anyone remotely connected, are part of the Baby Shark universe. It is truly a universe, there are many videos and Nickelodeon is reportedly making a tv show. Grandson is going to be daddy shark for Halloween because hey, he’s three, he’s not a baby anymore. I start singing it if you even use the words baby and shark in the same paragraph.  Anyway, I heard the news story about the prisoners being tortured with it right before walking Chester. So Chester was the first one to hear the new doggie song! 

Puppy shark do do do do do do, Puppy shark do do do do do do, Puppy shark do do do do do do

Puppy shark. 

Doggie shark do do do do do do, Doggie shark do do do do do do , Doggie shark do do do do do do  

Doggie shark. 

That’s all I have so far, the lyrics are complicated and require nuance. I fully expect to go global.  

While I was walking Chester for some strange reason I thought about skiing. Water or snow? Doesn’t matter. I have been water skiing once and snow skiing twice. I have the same trouble with each. I was able to “get up” in water skiing, and was able to control myself going down the snow hill (granted it was a bunny hill, which might have been why I started thinking about it…bunnies) Then I got tired. At some point I realized that I was going to have to stop. I didn’t know how. Both times I let myself fall, and it worked out; at least I was uninjured.  I just let go of the rope and sank into the water, and on the snow hill I just sort of slowed down and fell to the side. Believe me, that wasn’t the only problem with skiing but I clearly remember water skiing and thinking, “now what am I going to do?” as I waved at everyone while going around the pond, adjusting my sparkling tu-tu bathing suit and making sure my lipstick was fresh like this..  

Yes, just like that! I was legendary. People came from near and far to see me work my magic on skis.  

I have used the let myself fall method for other experiences too. For example, when the COVID shutdown hit I went from full speed to nothing. I enjoyed it because instead of being too frustrated I let myself fall off the roller coaster. It was a needed rest. Now I’m reluctant to get on again. I’m in limbo. It’s like when I was trying to go back up the snow hill by holding the rope and my hands lost strength. I was stuck with the rope going through my hands holding everyone else up. A guard came up behind me and pushed me up the hill.  

The world seems to have moved on…sort of. People love the phrase “this is the new normal” but if they think there is ever or ever was a normal, they are mistaken. There is no universal “normal” any more than there is a universal favorite ice cream. I have a quote by John F. Kennedy at my office. It says, “History is a relentless master. It has no present only the past rushing in to the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.” 

My skiing days are through (actually never really started so that’s cavalier). First I am old and not athletic. Second, I can’t seem to get up the hill…when we tried the second time we went up the chair lift and I fell getting off, lying there like a slug in the snow while people cursed at me.  Maybe I need a guard who will come along and push me up. Then I’ll get back on a milder roller coaster. Right now I’m OK being swept aside for a bit.  

My sister called and inquired about a post because I have been slacking. Maybe that was the “guard push” I needed! I’m going to try to write every Friday since you’d have time to read over the weekend theoretically.  

Also, this morning we took Chester to Holden Arboretum. It was so amazing I would hold up Ohio’s fall beauty against anywhere. Below are some pictures of our boy who would not cooperate in posing for photos. He was too busy sniffing. Have a wonderful week! 

What are these?
Beautiful Ohio!
Oh Chester…

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