Happy Birthday Chester!

Today is Chester’s birthday. According to the information we received when we adopted him, he was born on 1/27.

He is 10 years old today! He will be getting a treat of kong stuffing, which is dog food, peanut butter, cheddar cheese and ham. Oh yes, it is disgusting but not to him.

Ten years old is getting old in dog years. We have had him for about 5 years of his life. When we got him we didn’t know what he would be like. The vet at the kennel said he was a “nice gentleman.” After climbing over the fence the second day we had him we became aware that squirrels were not a commodity to be taken for granted. They were new and unusual to Chester and must be pursued to the ends of the earth.

Picture by the amazing Brittaney. We were both working so she would come over and walk him during the day. He’s so skinny!

We realized that we would have to get to know him, and we’d all have some edges to sand in order to merge as a family.

We learned that he would tear apart boxes, stuffed animals and anything that squeaked. He didn’t eat them, just tore them up. We learned to watch that he didn’t eat the squeaker.

Did I do that??

We learned that he loves to eat. Period.

Please drop something!

We learned that he will go into an active period right before bed, going in and outside in the eternal quest for treats, until he finally crashes.

We learned that we can trust him completely with our grandkids. He loves kids in general.

We learned that while he gets along with most dogs, his mortal enemy is Enzo. Even Enzo lookalikes get the hackles raised. He’s also afraid of some dogs and will want to go the other direction. On the other hand, he wants to go by Zoe’s house every day just to catch a glimpse of her. Cue the music… “on the street where you live…..”

Chester and his friend, Buckley

His excitement for the day is his walk and protecting us from the Amazon, UPS and mail carriers.

I know I heard one of those evil trucks.

In the spring he revels in the mud, and in the winter, the snow.

Always on the lookout for raccoons or cats, he is a sentinel monitoring our backyard.

Keeping the interlopers out of our backyard.

A bunny sends him into a fit of tail wagging and jumping in circles until we let him out (very noisily to let the bunny get away!)

You let me have this blue bunny…but not the brown ones???

Now he is in a routine, just like we are. He sleeps on the couch more but so do I! Chester is such a good dog. We are lucky to have him. I tell him so every day.

We love this old boy and he loves us. He’s funny, quirky, expressive, and smart. I’m so grateful he is still going strong. We are appreciative of each day with our walking partner. Nice gentleman indeed! Happy birthday, sweet buddy.

Getting lost and UT

Yesterday I took my grandson to a parking lot to ride his bike. Today it’s snowing. Ah, well, Cleveland weather. We saw some interesting things around the parking lot and it was nice to get outside.

I just don’t know…

Chester and I went to a park not long ago and got lost. Those who know me are aware of my propensity for lostness. Was it a new park? Nope. Same one we usually go to. In my defense there are two we usually go to, and in both you can park in one parking lot and hike to a second lot. We did this, seeing some cool (literally) waves and ice like this picture.

If you look closely it is ice that looks like broken glass. I’m not sure how it broke into such even pieces. Or if it just formed that way. We hiked to the observation tower but had to hike back to get to the car. This was where I made my crucial mistake. I thought that (like the other park) you could walk back on the road and get to the other parking lot. Sadly I was mistaken. When the road curved around some fields of who knows what and I heard the sweet sounds of dueling banjos in my head, I began to suspect that we were not exactly on point. I could see part of the trail down a steep embankment and thought about bushwhacking but since there was a creek down there somewhere I decided to just retrace our footsteps and catch the trail at the second parking lot. We were fine, but Chester was really tired! When he got home he just crashed on the floor and couch.

Here he is giving me his “quit taking pictures and let me sleep” look.

Ah well, just another day in the life. I did get him a pup cup on the way home so he can’t complain too much!

Speaking of getting lost, we visited the University of Toledo last weekend.

John and I graduated from UT (back then it was TU, they decided UT sounded better I guess). UT has grown a lot since we went there! We wandered around the main area, remembering but not remembering.

There were lots of comments like, “I think the engineering building was there” and “Was that the little building where we (you) had to pay parking fines?” We had a nice day and enjoyed our walk but a lot has changed. University Hall reminded me of a literature prof who broke her leg and would sit and read Chaucer to us. Not my favorite way to spend a summer.

John remembered and identified the jogging path through a neighborhood we used to run. We took a recreation class together; he was a lot faster than I was but it was a good memory.

We debated if the student union was the same until we walked from it to the library. It was so weird, muscle memory took over and our years at UT just flooded back, walking to the library to study and sitting at the student union. Our feet automatically took us to the library. What a warm feeling. It was like coming home.

It’s funny; the years at UT were not dramatic or traumatic or any other tic. I hadn’t thought of them for a long time. But my body, old as it is, remembered and all of a sudden I was back there again. The years there were happy. It seems that we remember the tic years but not the sweet ones. We had another happy day at UT, nothing exciting, just walking around together. We did find the engineering building but wow, the program must have grown because there were several engineering buildings moved across the street. Either that or they figured that engineers were in a league of their own and exiled them! The jury is out. We ended our walk at the bookstore. Believe it or not they do still have used textbooks for sale. The clerk said many of the texts are online now, so they will be revamping the store to reflect the need for fewer books. I remember complaining that we’d spend $50 on a book then return it and get something like $7. I wanted to buy a textbook just to read another person’s notes in the margins but I opted for a shirt instead. Go Rockets!

I started a puzzle I got for Christmas and got the border done so far. I’m thinking that working on it would be a good idea instead of going outside in the windy, snowy, sleety day. Take care and have a nice warm weekend!

The Bobber Cooler

Every Christmas my sister, brother and their families and us gather at one of our houses for the family Christmas. We used to congregate at my dad’s house, but when he died years ago we started a new tradition. The tradition was tweaked over the years, especially during the pandemic, but I think I can say at this point it is what it is.

Chester is not too happy with the cold weather. Plus I made him wait while I took a picture.

Have you ever played the game where you place a wrapped gift somewhere (usually under a tree or on a table) and someone can pick it? Then you can trade back and forth until finally everybody is all traded out. Theoretically everyone goes home happy. We do that but with the stipulation that the gift should be one our father would likely have purchased.

Dad was a quirky gentleman who bought quirky gifts. He would get pounds and pounds of catalogs (before online shopping) and at one point the mailperson complained. It didn’t matter, he just ordered more. He would keep notes on what he ordered. The problem was (depending on if you think it is a problem) he couldn’t stop. He would see just one more thing for someone and had to purchase it. Then he’d have to purchase something else, and stuff for stockings. Yes, he put up stockings for everyone, and if the gifts overflowed, he would place a paper bag on the hearth and call it the “annex.” His tree was a live one, but small, and stood on a card table with all the gifts underneath.

My dad had good taste, but he enjoyed humorous gifts too. Usually it was appreciated except maybe the egg separator that looked like a nose. The egg whites came out the nostrils. I never used it…I just couldn’t. But we are even—we once got him a little wooden boy that would pee into dad’s pond when you attached the hose just right. He never put it outside. Really? He didn’t mind the snotty egg but drew the line at pee boy? Anyway, when we started our sibs Christmas, we agreed that the gift we purchased should be anonymous, around $30-40, and remind us of Dad.

Dad loved to fish. I have written about his fishing obsession; the fish are breathing/gilling easier now that he’s no longer around to outsmart them (whether he ever was is up for debate).

The great fisherman in younger years, contemplating his prize.

During the winter he would examine his tackle and name the red and white round bobbers…”whatta bobber”, “ali bobber” for example, and write these names on his bobbers with a sharpie.

One of the originals
and sometimes they had faces…

Imagine my delight when I found the perfect Dad gift at Best Buy! It was a cooler that looked like a bobber! I wrapped it up knowing that someone would love this rather large memento. They did, it was a roaring success!

There are quite a few available on ebay for some reason.

The next year, a family member decided to continue the happiness and bought another bobber cooler. Now there were two in the family! How delightful! The next year, I believe someone bought one and filled it up with beer or something, which (hard to believe) actually increased the trading value. At this point there were mumbles coming from the family that the bobber cooler may have possibly outlived it’s appeal. The next few years people actually predicted and avoided the large bobber cooler packages, since everybody (almost) had one. Yes, almost, because I did not have one.

This year, I chose a large package because frankly I’m getting old and forgetful and I had forgotten about the bobber cooler possibility. My brother brought it to the party and he picks…interesting gifts like the cat going Godzilla on the gnomes that I got a couple years ago.

I opened it and to my surprise it was a bobber cooler!

I don’t know if he is concerned about the cooler or what is inside but he isn’t having it.

It was not just a bobber cooler but a bobber cooler full of pork rinds, sweet potato chips, churro chips and pistachios.

My husband has been working on the pistachios and I finished the churro chips already. Not sure what’s going to become of the pork rinds. Chester kind of likes them, as does my husband…but that’s a lot of pork rinds even for a hound. Another surprise was that nobody stole it from me!? I tried to hide it by surreptitiously keeping it in the bag and scooting it behind my legs but nobody even looked my way. Their loss.

At the end we reveal what we purchased so we can thank the person (I wasn’t supposed to know that it was my brother’s but I saw him come in with it so…can’t fool a former investigator!) My sister-in-law exclaimed to my brother, “Did you give away our bobber cooler?” and “I can’t believe you gave away our bobber cooler!” Somebody is in the doghouse…but we are going to take it back for a visit this summer when they host the first official Bobber Cooler Day at their pool. This may be at the end of the “Donut Trail” outing, a trip you can take in Ohio where you visit bakeries and donut shops. Did you ever go to a Krispy Kreme donut shop and watch the glazed donuts go down the assembly ramp? They used to give us a free one and it was still warm. Did you ever want to lay on a Krispy Kreme roller and be coated with glaze? But I digress….Kentucky has their Bourbon Trail, Ohio does donuts!

Hope your New Year is starting off swimmingly! Chester and the cats are all fine and Chester met a new girlfriend, Zoe, a puppy in the neighborhood. I love it when he makes friends! Have a good week!

Zoe tired him out!

Life fantastic and Christmas on hold

Every year some string of outdoor lights doesn’t work. I’m not sure why…they literally sit in the garage all year without moving. Our weather is not extreme usually so what the heck? But every year it happens. This year it was the lights to the little pine tree next to the garage. We put up the rest and I figured I’d run to the store and get a short string. Sadly, neither CVS nor Dollar General had any lights. I decided to order some online. I ordered a 70 light set of bright pink lights. Why not? When they came, this is the box.

Yes, I did not simply get bright pink lights. I got lights that illuminate my life fantastic! They are LED fairy string lights too! On the back of the box, it says “ These lights will last a long time and you no need to keep on buying new ones year after year. These lights will not overheat and you can leave them on for days.” Wait, days? Despite the dubious reassurance that they won’t burn the house down, and the grammatical error suggesting a job opportunity for a proofreader or interpreter, I am intrigued by the promise that I shall not need to keep buying new ones. That would indeed be a Christmas miracle! They do look beautiful on the little tree!

Unfortunately, here east of Cleveland, Mother Nature decided to give us a white Christmas.

It was just overkill on the white. Our kids were going to drive back from NYC Friday, but since the weather forecast was for the storm of the century and we weren’t feeling well anyway, they decided not to. For once the usually way-too-dramatic weather anchors were spot on. The Ohio turnpike closed for crying out loud and that never happens. We got a fair amount of snow but it was more the blowing and cold that caused whiteout conditions. With being sick and snowed in, we watched Christmas movies and specials.

One of the specials was an “Old Time Radio Christmas.” Oh my gosh it was so bad. How bad was it? Well let me tell you…there was a bad guy named Uncle Barnaby. Alan and Jane were trying to figure out something and Jane sang a song about “I can’t do the sums” where she couldn’t do math. She was quite cheery about it. Ummm…STEM anyone??? No wonder. There was also a girl named Contrary Mary who sang about being contrary. Alan asked her if she would be contrary if he married her. She said yes. You go girl! Might as well lay it out there. They went on some adventure that I honestly couldn’t describe if you paid me. Uncle Barnaby attempted to drown them. There was a commercial about puffed wheat shot from guns. They sang “Toyland.” I think this was actually “Babes in Toyland” because they met Bo Peep along the way. Then we turned it off. I am still confused. I’m not sure what happened to Alan and Jane or Mary, they could be wandering the forest still. Uncle Barnaby went on to greater villain things I’m sure.

The snow also buried two out of three of my solar powered Christmas chickens. But one is blazing away! Chester did not go for walks for a couple days, but he had a great Christmas. He has eaten so many treats I had to loosen his harness.

Zeus and Milo got a pretty plaid blanket to curl up in, and Zeus took it over. They got treats too though and Milo is treat motivated. He is motivated to get more treats.

We haven’t’ had our Christmas yet with the kids and aren’t sure when it will happen. Truth is there are two ways of looking at Christmas. If Christmas for you is about Jesus’ birth, there is one meaningful Christmas Day. This is reassuring because no matter what happens with our family customs or weather (things we can’t control) like they say in The Grinch, couldn’t stop Christmas from coming, it came all the same. No matter where we are or what we are doing, like Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ birth gives pause. (I realize that the actual historical day may not really be on December 25, but that’s when we celebrate it so…)  But, if Christmas to you is about family and friends and goodwill, then Christmas can happen any time, and should probably not have an expiration date. Christmas day may be consistent but the Christmas spirit can roll on as long as you want it to. If Christmas is not something you celebrate, then disregard this last paragraph, it’s just what I am thinking about. I need to get out with Chester more to have deep and random thoughts while attempting not to wipe out in front of the neighbors.

We did get out today since it hit 51 degrees here! A lot of the snow is melting which sends Chester into mega sniff mode. We joked that he is receiving all sorts of messages from his girlfriends. They were buried under the snow, just like my sheet music is buried at the post office. It was a nice walk and the ice on Lake Erie was cool literally. It will likely melt a bit as we are supposed to reach 60 next week! Go figure.

Whatever your holiday traditions I hope you are doing well what with the craziness and weather and illness around. Let’s ring in a new year with hope. Happy New Year!! Be safe!

Children’s Wonderland and Mold-a-Rama delight

Growing up in Toledo, Ohio and being only 3 hours away by car, we would try to get back once a month or so, and definitely at Christmas. When we were first married, we would alternate where we would spend the night between my husband’s family home and mine. They were very different, primarily because my family had three dogs. The first two were good dogs, the third peed in our open suitcase. And on my husband.

Anyway, once we had children, we wanted to take them somewhere and learned that “Children’s Wonderland” was at the rec center. Children’s Wonderland was (and still is I believe) an animatronic and moving figures fake snow glitter blinking lights Christmas destination. There were pretend skaters, raccoons around a campfire, Santa’s house, and for real Santa!

Visiting Wonderland quickly became an annual tradition even when the kids were a little old for it.

Why did we keep going you ask? Well, the holy grail of grails was at the end of the dream adventure into wonderland. The exit lead us into a cafeteria. They had two-dollar hot dogs and chips and pop. As good as the two-dollar hot dogs were after steaming on a moving steamer for a couple hours, that alone would not have lured us into the transformed rec center with teenagers (I think I enjoyed it more than they did but they had to go with us even though they probably would have rather watched “The Price is Right” with Grandma.) No, there were treasures in that cafeteria that put the two-dollar hot dogs to shame. You see, against the walls were about ten “Mold-a-Rama” injection molding machines. For only a dollar (or so) you, yes you, could have a plastic memento of Christmas!

This was accomplished by putting money into the machine of your choice to get either the reindeer, the angel, a snowman, Santa, a train or some other Christmas symbol. Sadly (or not) none of the machines formed a baby Jesus into a plastic tchotchke.

Apparently the Mold-a-Rama machines are found at zoos and other “tourist attractions” like Children’s Wonderland. I looked into it a bit and found this alligator wrestler one at Gatorland in Florida.

The best thing about the machines is that when the item dropped out, it was HOT. And it smelled like burnt plastic. Well, duh, how did you think they made them? Christmas magic? We would toss the plastic hot potato back and forth in our hands until it cooled. If we dropped them a dent may form in the angel’s wing or omething. Then we took them home, hoping that they would hold up. One year we tried to paint them but when we put the Christmas stuff in the attic the paint all cracked. It was too much, and we never again messed with the naked beauty of injection molded cheesiness.

Similar to the crushed penny machines, these machines needed maintenance now and again. One year we happened to arrive when the owner/maintenance/injection molding cheerleader and self-appointed crusader was working on a machine. He told us all about the life of an owner/maintenance etc person and how much fun Mold-a-Rama injection machines were. Apparently his father did it before him so he grew up in the business and took it pretty seriously. He told us that he services from Ohio to Florida. He then invited us out to his van to see something.

Don’t worry! This was back in the 80s, and he didn’t offer us candy so it was OK! He opened his van where he had random injection molds representing the various nuances of Christmas in other states. One such mold was a stingray from a Florida machine.

He gave the boys the blue stingray so they could experience diverse Christmas culture because apparently stingrays pull the sled in Florida. We never saw him again, but we knew that we could rely on the very best in injection molding support. Our family continued to go to Children’s Wonderland until they closed for a few years. Now they are open with limited hours.   I noticed they have a new machine…a polar bear! I might have to make a quick trip to Toledo!

I feel the need to mention the ugly sweater parties and such…I have just spent six hundred or so words being snarky. But I never snark about sweaters. I just feel like when we make fun of what people wear we are not being kind. All sweaters are beautiful in the eyes of the wearer so far be it for me to criticize what anyone wear. If someone’s vision of beauty is a little over the top for me to wear, who cares? OK I’m off the soapbox.

As for Chester, he is happy even though there is no snow yet. I’ve been giving him these fish oil and other mysterious stuff tablets designed to fight stiffness. He’s just a little stiff now, groans a little, kind of like we do when we try to get up out of a chair or off the floor after putting water in the Christmas tree stand. He still enjoys his walks and trips to Bigby’s coffee drive through where they gave him a pup cup of whipped cream.

Honestly, spoiled rotten. Have a good week and may injection mold machines pop up in your neck of the woods!

Parades and OSU/Michigan

Something weird happened on Thanksgiving. We have our traditions—we clean like crazy and cook a lot on Wednesday then finish cooking and cleaning on Thursday, then have about 11-12 people over for dinner. All of that went swimmingly but I am not sure who actually did it. I don’t think it was me. I think a clone has taken over.

One of the traditions is to watch the Thanksgiving Macy’s Parade. Usually we watch it for about five minutes then groan a few times about the cheesy singing and lip synching (we grew up in the 70s where that was frowned upon) and wait hopefully for a balloon to fly into a lamp post or attack the crowd. The parade started out like always, with a Broadway number. Suddenly out of my snarky lips came “Wow it’s Lea Michele” and I ran into the family room to watch it. I liked it! I liked the Rockettes, the giant Spirit of America crowd dancing to “Run Rudolph, Run”, the women with their heads literally inside of presents, the Lego robots, and the band that played the 1812 Overture.

After each one was another balloon…some of the characters were unknown to me, but “Bluey!!” escaped my lips as my husband shook his head and mopped the floor. What happened? I couldn’t think of a single sarcastic thing to say. I watched the whole freakin parade. Pikachu!!! The singing Christmas tree!!! Delightful!!

So who was this person? In The Addams Family musical there is a song where Wednesday mulls over finding bunnies and birdies “impossibly cute.” That’s what happened! All of a sudden it was like I was replaced with this happy, enthusiastic sugary cookie. Sheesh.

I didn’t care. The replacement me continued on gamely, not concerned about the food being cold (well maybe a little), or forgetting something (I put sticky notes on the table to remind myself of each dish…). I was happy well into the next day.

Chester was being a pain in the butt though, he was in his crate and every time our dear brother stood up he would pitch a barking fit. Honestly, I told him he was going to camp next year. My husband took him for a long walk before dinner and we put his Kong in his crate, but he was determined to make brother’s life miserable. He was fine when brother was sitting but as soon as he got up Chester became Cujo. Good grief.

Now it’s Saturday. Time to put away happy me and get my game face on. You see, today is the Ohio State/Michigan game. We are pariahs in Cleveland. We are…(drum roll please)…Michigan fans. We grew up in Toledo and just like every other child of a certain age, we declared our allegiance. John and I joined the Michigan alliance. It’s a good thing, because we wouldn’t have been able to marry each other if we were of warring factions.

Toledo is split fairly evenly. Supposedly this was due to the ”Toledo War.” From Wikipedia: “The Toledo War (1835–36), also known as the Michigan–Ohio War or the Ohio–Michigan War, was an almost bloodless boundary dispute between the U.S. state of Ohio and the adjoining territory of Michigan over what is now known as the Toledo Strip. Control of the mouth of the Maumee River and the inland shipping opportunities it represented, and the good farmland to the west were seen by both parties as valuable economic assets.”

Basically, Ohio and Michigan both wanted Toledo. I can see why, it’s a great place to live, and I’m not being sarcastic. The Metroparks are fantastic, the restaurant scene is great, and people are moving downtown. We lived about a mile or less from Michigan, which was interesting when in the 1970s the Michigan drinking age was lowered to 18 for a few years while Ohio stayed at 21. No, I didn’t take advantage. Anyway, that is neither here nor there, but to say that the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry was intense in Toledo.

Our son married outside the faith. He married a girl from an Ohio State family. Here in Cleveland, most people are Ohio State fans. In fact, I only know two other Michigan fans which is a pretty sad state of affairs. Her family is delightful but everyone has a few faults. Still, when the grandkids were born, we all agreed not to try to influence them. It’s sometimes like the “no turkey” scene in a Christmas Story…no baby Michigan onesies, no Ohio State burp rags, no Michigan stocking caps, no Ohio State diapers. We decided they can make their choice when they are older at a lavish ceremony. That doesn’t stop us from betting on the game with the in-laws! We decided to bet that whoever loses has to display an ornament of the other’s team on their Christmas tree. Last year the Michigan ornament hung proudly from the in-law tree. What a beautiful tree it was! This year we look to repeat the glory. The war of the ornaments will commence at noon today. I hope to have some positive news for my annual Christmas letter since my Fantasy Football team has yet to win a game. The Killer Tomatoes are dismal.

On to Christmas! The weather is beautiful here today so we are going to take advantage and put up our outdoor Christmas lights. There is no roof climbing or anything, and it looks nice. I’ve been listening to Christmas music for about a month. Again, who is this person who took over my body? I usually forbid Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. There is a lot of really bad Christmas music out there but I’m happily letting Sirius get it out there hoping the good stuff is yet to come. I’m sure it is, there’s no such thing as bad Christmas music. I didn’t just type that, my clone did.

Enjoy this nice weekend!

Go Michigan!

Puddles Pity Party and ketchup

I am generally a pretty happy person. I enjoy life and am positive. But every so often a cloud will form and I end up down in the dumps. Last week I had a couple days like that…little things kept adding up, like my prescription being messed up, McDonalds not giving us ketchup, being sick with some stupid viral thing, and the bell choir really needing ringers which I was not delivering. All of these are manageable, but sometimes I end up in a mode where I look at everything with a glass half empty view. That’s depression.

There’s a line in a song called “Settle for Satin” by Alkaline Trio that says “It’s not so much a storm but just a cloud that lingers over me, it doesn’t scare so easily but when it wakes it goes the distance.” I think that is one of the best lines to describe depression. It’s hard to pull out of . I have been on antidepressants for more than 20 years and am aware of what to expect when I start to spiral down. I can do things to try to halt it early. What I’ve learned is that I have to recognize and address it. My strategy? When I start to feel sad, I listen to sad songs.

Doesn’t make sense? It does, because I have to acknowledge the cloud before I can put it to rest and move on. This is in no way a recommendation for you, but it works for me. Luckily, my awesome husband discovered Puddles Pity Party in the nick of time!

My husband has become a connoisseur of you tube videos. I think he started watching them while working on an old hit and miss engine that theoretically will make ice cream. He says we will have ice cream next summer. The neighbors are holding him to it. I think we’ll need a music box that plays one of the inane ice cream truck songs over and over and over. When the ice cream truck stops it reminds me of when our boat in the “Small World” Disney ride got stopped for about 10 minutes. It was delightful to hear that song repeated and see the happy little animatrons merrily cavorting, everybody singing together even if we are all strapped in a boat with no chance of escaping the infernal happiness. I think a song like that will encourage the children on the street to partake of the frozen delights. I’ll have to run that past him. He has put a couple videos of his engine on You Tube, a feat which impresses the heck out of me. I can’t even take a good picture of Chester.

Anyway, we watch mostly funny pets and kids, or the “First We Feast” hot sauce interviews. But sometimes he finds things that are a little… off. I’m not sure what prompted him to click on “America’s Got Talent” Puddles Pity Party. I looked up from reading the latest Andy Carpenter mystery and there was my new hero. Puddles Pity Party is a sad clown. He doesn’t talk. Simon was giving his snarky half-smirk, etc, when Puddles came onstage. Puddles sang a song, “Chandelier” by Sia and I was hooked.

I get Puddles. Apparently a lot of other people did too, and what rock have I been under that I didn’t know about him until now?? The show was in 2017. So in my downward slide, I became immersed in Puddles songs. I watched videos of “I Want to Know What Love Is”, “All by Myself” and gosh, about 5 more, even a Pink Floyd one until finally wallowing in “Everybody Hurts.” Guess what? It worked. Something about Puddles got through. So any of you who also are clawing your way back out of a valley or just enjoy something unique, check it out! Honestly, it’s not a parody, I think he really cares about people. If not, it’s a good act and I don’t mind.

Now let’s just talk about McDonald’s for a minute, shall we? Every Thursday I take the grandkid to Adrenaline Monkey so he can become an American Ninja Warrior or at least work off some energy. Littler grandkid goes too so that mommy and daddy can breathe for a hot minute. Littler grandkid and I have a tradition of going to McDonald’s while bigger grandkid is in Adrenaline Monkey running up warped walls and flying from ring to ring. Who do you think has the better deal..? Anyway, this must be the world’s worst McDonald’s. We have gone there for about 6 weeks and every single week we ask for extra ketchup. The grandkids want nothing but ketchup on their food. They order cheeseburgers with only ketchup, and large fries with ketchup, and chicken nuggets with “no sauce, only ketchup.” I picture the workers laughing when we say this because for 5 out of 6 weeks we get…NO KETCHUP. NOT A SINGLE FREAKIN PACKET!! We are lucky to get the apple slices in the happy meal, we are batting about 500 there. One week I was driving and bigger grandson started to gag and cough. I panicked, asking him if he was OK, and all he could choke out was “a pickle.” So apparently they do have pickles because they put one on his burger. But ketchup? Nada. Why do we still go there? As Tevye says, “Tradition!”

Tonight is another McDonald’s night. This time I am ready for them. I was putting flyers up for Decibells and the Convenient store was packed with Powerball players. They were busy so I wandered around, and seeing no bulletin board I started toward the door when I noticed bins with packets of ketchup, mustard, and mayo. God help my soul, but I grabbed a handful of the ketchups and ran for the door. Chester and I floored the Subaru and I am now ready to shake a handful of the packets at the McDonald’s window and laugh maniacally. I can’t wait.

I didn’t include much about Chester today, but it has been absolutely beautiful here. It could stay like this forever and I’d be OK. We have noticed that there is a plethora of acorns and giant leaves this year.

The acorns are pretty aggressive too, you could be seriously injured by some of the big ones! Here are some of our highlights! Take care and hang in there!

Halloween and other random ghosts

Happy Halloween! I have lots of ghosts and goblins swirling in my head today so I may seem discombobulated. That’s my grandson’s favorite word right now. I may jump from one topic to another. But the veil is thin between the spirit world and ours today, so maybe my ancestors are arguing about what I should write about, and I am feeling like a rope in a tug-of-war. So let’s just get started, shall we?

Speaking of arguing, the weather here in Cleveland can’t decide what it wants to be. We have had days like this:

And days like this.

Yesterday I was outside burning sticks in the chiminea in a t-shirt. Today it’s rainy and cold. Go figure. Chester and I have had some beautiful walks though, in Holden Arboretum and the Lake Metroparks. The leaf colors have been breathtaking.

Chester doesn’t care for Halloween. We don’t give him candy, and he has to dress up. Granted it’s only for a few minutes while I take his picture.

Doesn’t he look happy? Hey, we spoil this dog every day of the year, so for one day (ok maybe two, I put antlers on him at Christmas) he can glare at me. Honestly, it was two minutes. You’d think he was suffering. At least I didn’t put the rest of the costume on him.

Chester got “skunked” last week so we gave him his first bath in the bathtub. We usually take him to the pet store where they have a dog wash station but it was late at night. He didn’t seem to mind it that much, not as much as having to wear a pumpkin hat. It was  “second hand skunked” — he didn’t get the full force. When we lived in Euclid our neighbor’s dog got sprayed between our houses and the curtains, couch and everything smelled for days. This wasn’t that bad. This one may have even been a roll-through skunk.

Our Model A club went on a tour, and we stopped at a store in Amish country. I thought this made a nice picture. I should have bought a pumpkin then but I did not. Alas, this morning I went to four places and they were ALL OUT of pumpkins. I have a warty pumpkin, just not a Jack-o-lantern.

I came home and drowned my disappointment in little candy bars.

I’ve been starting a community handbell choir named Decibells. I may have mentioned it. We want to combine theater/performance with handbells and take bells to the community. We are able to borrow bells from a church temporarily but would like to buy our own. We can’t take the church bells out of the church, and we want to do outreach activities in senior centers, schools, etc. Even used bells can cost $15000 or more. Sheesh, right?

Nobody under 40 will understand this because computer stuff is part of their DNA, but I am so proud that I figured out how to get Zelle for the Decibells account. I linked it to the email so we can receive donations. If any of you have even 5 dollars floating around screaming “I wish I could be used for something that will bring people joy” and you’d consider donating, we are a legit, tax-exempt non-profit and 100% will go to purchasing the bells, music, and accessories. The email is Decibellslake@gmail.com . If you are thinking, “ahh she worked in a sales pitch” I am sorry. I would never want anybody to donate who couldn’t afford it, so no worries.

Like in Harry Potter, as I express these ideas and thoughts, they seem to be flowing out of my ear and clearing out my brain. Pretty soon I’ll be brainless.

Isn’t that pretty? It’s called a “Mumkin.” It was a fundraiser for the grandson.

Chester got a new toy from our grandson. It is, or was, a stuffed Mr. Bill that said “Oh nooooo” over and over and over and over….. Chester mercifully disassembled the sound module then went to work on the body of poor Mr. Bill. He made it this far last night.

Did you ever hang up a sweater over a shirt then forget you owned the shirt? I found one of my formerly favorite shirts this morning when I reached for a black sweater. It’s like getting something new! Or used, as this one was originally from Goodwill. So kind of a triple used from it’s original birth. Or maybe more, depending if the previous owner got it new. It’s mind blowing, right? But in a good way.

Have a lovely Halloween, and make sure your doggies and kitties don’t get out. We have trick-or-treating from 6-8:00 and it’s pretty dark by then. Tomorrow is November 1st, unbelievable. Let’s hope for a few more nice days! Have a good week!

Autographs and City Dogs

I don’t usually care about autographs. I do have a few but it was more interesting meeting the person than the autograph. It doesn’t make sense to me to covet a signature when the person doesn’t even know you. There aren’t that many people I would want to meet either. Yet Saturday I drove an hour to hear author Amanda Flower.

Jethro the pig

Amanda writes cozy mysteries; the stories are great, just not so much sex or violence. It’s like you are drawn into a community and something happens. Then the protagonist must find out what it was and solve the mystery. I enjoy her books and have read almost all of them. My favorite character is Jethro the pig (yes, a pet pig, but almost the rest of the characters are people!) If Amanda ever sold stuffed Jethro pigs, I’d have Christmas shopping done for everyone! Well, when I heard she was speaking at the Twinsburg, Ohio library, I decided to go. She was there to promote a new book, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” a mystery (not really a cozy, more a full fledged mystery) involving Emily Dickenson. She would autograph the books, and the library said there would be tea and baked goods.

Tea? Baked goods? I’m there! I scored a cupcake and water and turned off my phone, chatting with the lady next to me. My ringtone is goats making screaming noises so I didn’t want the goats to disturb anyone especially around Halloween. No goats were harmed. I listened to her talk and learned some things I did not know about Emily Dickenson. Actually, there’s a lot I don’t know about Emily Dickenson so that’s not a surprise. But it was very interesting. I bought the book. I took my place in line, chatting with the lady behind me. Amanda had this camera thing, kind of like the old Polaroid instant cameras only white and much more modern. I was talking and musing about how it worked when suddenly it was my turn.

You know, sometimes I need to just be quiet. When I meet someone I admire I turn into a babbling doofus. I began stammering about how we met a long time ago, and I ended up writing this blog, and she was my inspiration and yada yada blah blah blah. Then I asked if I could take a picture. She kindly said yes. I pulled out my phone. Lo and behold, I hadn’t turned it back on. Well, no way was I not getting a picture so I fumbled around and turned it on, waiting and willing the little apple logo to show up. Then it wanted my password, and I had to find the camera icon, and all along I’m sure the other people in line were shooting visual daggers at me. It was kind of like a person with a bunch of coupons in the speedy lane at the grocery store. Amanda was more than gracious, and I was finally ready, smiled, and took the picture. My hands were shaking but it turned out ok. Whew!

Why do I get so flustered? I hustled out of the library (grabbing another baked good on the way) and made it to the car unscathed. I then went back in to use the restroom. Overall it was a delightful outing. I recommend the book, and if you like mysteries, look hers up. She’s from Ohio too, another plus!

On Sunday, we had a reunion to attend! Chester had his “City Dog Reunion”.

Chester is ready to go!

He was adopted from the Cleveland City Kennel which makes him a City Dog. All the City Dogs who are able get together and converse among themselves via lots of butt sniffing and barking.

The owners converse also, admiring the other pups. I got a sweatshirt and a glass, and we got a goodie bag with a cookie for Chester. He is good with other dogs so we all had a great time. The weather was kind of cold and windy but we do look forward to meeting new friends.  Chester met Harley, Mina, Luna, all beautiful girl dogs. He’s kind of a flirt.

Edgewater Park

When we got home, Chester was exhausted so he slept while we…well we slept too. But we had the tv on so we could pretend we were just resting our eyes.

On the way home

Oh, one fast fact about Emily Dickenson is that she didn’t like cats. Now, really? Milo and Zeus are launching a protest.

You woke me up for that?

It’s a good thing they can’t make protest signs. When I told Chester that he just smiled.

hee hee hee

I think I’ll read him some Emily Dickenson poems. Have a good week!

Parking and Blair Ridge

My grandsons say I’m a “bad parker.” Since I got my Subaru, which I love, I cannot park correctly to save my life. Still, I argued with them, figuring they were just trying to annoy me. Yesterday I went to CVS and pulled in as usual. No one was around me. Here’s what happened….

I concede. I am a bad parker. I think it’s part of what I call Township life. Our area is semi-rural, in that we have a few homes with chickens and ducks, no Starbucks or Dunkin nearby. Ahh, iced coffee and cream…even the grandkids know how I feel about that. They asked me what I would do without Dunkin around. I said I’d open a Tim Horton’s. We have some, let’s say underdeveloped (rather than seedy) buildings. It’s like until recently, city life jumped over our exit and left us alone. Then a few developments popped up and we are going through growing pains.

This has nothing to do with my parking except that we have lived here for almost 30 years. In that time I have developed bad habits. Why? Because I can! I drive down the middle of the street when nobody’s coming so I don’t accidentally hit a groundhog. I have on occasion rolled over some grass to get from one parking lot to another rather than pulling out and back in again. I drive at a slow, lazy pace (the speed limit or a little over) that makes my grandkids crazy. The youngest has created a list of fast drivers in the family and I’m at the bottom. He is five years old and a back seat driver. He tells me to “pass that truck” and “go faster.”

But never in the left lane!!

I am OK with this and there are a lot of others in this area who drive the same way. But I have to admit, my parking is pretty bad. I can’t see over the hood of the ‘Ru so I never quite know how far up I am. Sometimes I park in the garage and can’t put down the door so I have to get back in and pull up more. My husband volunteered to hang a string and tennis ball from the garage for me to stop when it hits the windshield. I declined out of an undeserved sense of dignity. Sigh.

So what am I going to do? Nothing. Why? Because I’m old and that’s a perk. Everybody thinks old people are bad drivers anyway, so whatever.

Chester and I went to Blair Ridge Park last week. I didn’t know it existed. I actually got lost on the way to another park and thought, “OK, I’ll just try this one.” Have you seen Blair Witch Project? I have and it did cross my mind.

The park was beautiful, primarily a lake we walked around. Chester enjoyed slogging into the lake and scaring the frogs.

We had perfect weather and the flowers were out, pointing their faces to the sun.

We saw another opening and walked through it. (Do you feel the Blair Witch camera jiggling?) This is what we saw:

I read a lot of mysteries. This was a real-life mystery. I looked around to make sure there were no creepy people, but hey, I had Chester with me. Such a guard dog.

I’ll protect you unless they pet me!

When I read the sign, my heart melted. Mr. Storer was blind and had guide dogs. They are buried here with headstones. The headstones say things like, “Good friend and loyal companion” and other loving tributes.

There were about five stones, for Heidi, Jetta, Angel, and more. (I’m sorry, but like the Professor and Mary Ann I can’t remember the last two) It was a lovely place and put my Blair Witch fears to rest. We kept walking. We started down a new road and saw this:

Apparently the Metroparks acquired the land when Mr. Storer died. This clocktower is next to these bells:

They are inscribed with his wife’s name and kind words about her. How sweet is that?!! I guess they used to be in the clocktower. The clocktower is being used, and was locked, but everything looked well cared for. We walked back to the car with no more surprises, stopping for a second at the lake so Chester could scare a few more frogs, and headed out. Chester got a pup cup from DQ, one of the newer businesses in our transitional neighborhood.

pure bliss…

All in all it was a beautiful day. He is such a good boy except for his dogged determination to eat whatever went in the tree.

It was long gone through the network of trees but he stayed out there for at least an hour. A tired Chester is good sometimes…

Have a good week!