New Christmas decorations and Chester testing Santa…

I may have mentioned that for a few years I have wanted white light up deer for a Christmas decoration. I had the chance when our neighbor moved and was selling her deer. She put the kibosh on the sale though when she said “it’s just what to do with them after Christmas that’s the problem.” They put them in the garage attic which has potential for serious spousal injury. It was my golden opportunity and I did not buy them. Instead, I bought a leg lamp.

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The major award in its glory

If you are familiar with the movie “A Christmas Story” (and who isn’t..somehow 24 hours of Ralphie and his bb gun strikes a chord at Christmas) then you will understand the leg lamp. The movie was partially filmed in Cleveland and I remember when they wanted extras. It was in the early 80s and they wanted people to come in winter old fashioned coats for the Higbee’s store and parade scene. It was the middle of summer so I passed. I could have been a star! At least we have a major award to call our own. But I digress…back to the deer.

My husband has inexplicably rejected the notion of the deer. He is a kind and considerate man, however. Last week when I got home he asked me if I came in the front door. I said no. He asked if I looked at the sidewalk. No. He asked if I noticed ANYTHING at all…no. He led me to the front door and showed me three little lighted objects by the sidewalk.

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I wasn’t sure what they were…flames? Spaceships? That’s all I could come up with. He looked very pleased with himself and said “they’re chickens.” I honestly couldn’t do anything  but repeat…chickens? You know how in cozy mysteries or romances, someone always “sputters”? This is the only time in my life I sputtered. He said “I thought they would be bigger.” Three solar powered lighted chickens.  Here is a picture of a chicken unlit.

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It took me a few minutes to wrap my head around the chickens in the front yard but I love them! They are unique in our neighborhood of inflatable Santas and snowmen, and of course light up deer. It was one of my favorite gifts ever! I think they are a reference to the napkins I put in his lunch. I make his lunch on the days he goes into the office, figuring if he has to drive in it’s the least I can do. Plus I have all day to rest up from the effort of making a lunch. Anyway, on the napkin I draw chicken man and his friends/family doing relevant activities.

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a preview of coming chickenman activities

For example, chickens went to the summer Olympics. We had vaulting chicken, balance beam chicken, and flame carrying chicken. This morning chickens were having fun in the snow, making snow angel chickens, snow chickenmen, and throwing snowballs at each other. As you may have guessed we have snow!

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Chester loves the snow. He runs out full speed, launching off the deck like he saw a bunny, and does zoomies around the yard. He buries his face in it and throws the snow in the air with his snoot. He eats the snow off of the deck or licks the ice. He then runs in the house and shakes snow all over. It’s pretty predictable overall. Last night though he was in a mood. He went out and in three times, getting a biscuit after each time. Finally, when he asked to go out again, I said no. I mean come on, enough is enough.

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It’s me again…

Usually when I say no he’s ok with it, jumps on the couch and watches tv, falls asleep or chews his bone. Last night he was not taking no for an answer. He went into the kitchen and brought out anything he could reach off the counter. He brought out kitchen utensils, silverware, baggies, whatever he could grab. He trotted out with the forbidden item and side-eyed us to see if we noticed. One of us said “No, Chester” and took it back to the kitchen. He thinks if we go into the kitchen, he will get a biscuit, so he prances into the kitchen with us. We do not reward this bad behavior but hope springs eternal. Kitchen = biscuit. The last hurrah was when he came out with the stick of butter. I grabbed it, slimy and all, and threw it out. I also said no. Then I washed my hands. Maybe not in that order. It was disgusting. He finally gave up and lay down by the fire, cuddling his long-suffering bunny.

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As you see, he is wasting away to nothing without another biscuit..

He does not understand that Santa is watching. Dog presents are still at the North Pole. They won’t hit our house until the day before Christmas Eve, since someone would be insufferable in his quest to investigate.

Truth is, we could change this behavior, but his attempt at rebellion isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When we first got him he was pretty anxious and worried. My husband said last night that “he has grown into his own Chester skin” and is a true hound. This is true. A little badness is also his attempt at controlling his world, and it shows he is not afraid of us. Shoot, one of our past dogs ate a whole stick of butter AND a half loaf of bread. At least Chester spared the bread!

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Just wait until tomorrow

Time to put the chains on my boots. While our street isn’t bad, I’m paranoid about falling. I’ve fallen twice and Chester didn’t do anything except take the opportunity to look for Enzo or a bunny. I could lie there for days, a lump in the snow, and he would run off and join a gang. The bad dog gang. Good thing he’s cute!

Thanksgiving, Michigan, and Chester’s new bff…

Thanksgiving is over. It has taken me almost a whole week to recover! We had 13 people for dinner, which is a nice amount. It was a fun group, good conversation, the food turned out ok except for the gravy (too much flour…when my husband said it looked pale I should have known). But the highlight of Chester’s day was making a new best friend.

Buckley

Buckley came to visit from NYC. When my daughter asked about bringing him, I thought he was a pit bull. I was hesitant until she clarified that no, Buckley is a Chihuahua puppy. Slight difference.  I figured Chester would either be scared of him, eat him, or just tolerate him. What I didn’t expect was that Chester would love him! They ran around the house, first Chester chasing Buckley then Buckley chasing Chester.

After the first night, Chester was exhausted. It’s harder to exhaust a Chihuahua puppy. Buckley kept trying to get Chester to run around again. Chester responded less enthusiastically by ignoring him.

Luckily the grandsons were here on Thanksgiving to throw toys and play tug with Sir Buckley. By the end of his visit we all loved him, and he made himself at home.

Just two buddies watching the squirrels

When he left, Chester gathered up the toys and cat bowls into his bed and fell asleep. We did the same without the cat bowls.

I guess it’s time to take down the cornstalks. I have been very lethargic. I was watching Chester chase the squirrels in the backyard and I realized that they just jump and run from one tree branch to the other. Chester is far below them (praying for a loose branch) but they go from yard to yard. Any dog yapping is left below. I was thinking that I should enter the holidays like that…just go about my business up above and leave yappy people below. I don’t have too many yappy people in my life, being retired and all, but it’s probably a good way to live. Speaking of doing good, I had 102 emails for Giving Tuesday. Why do they make giving Tuesday after cyber-Monday and Black Friday? How dumb. I already spent my money on oil-change Saturday, vet appointment Monday, and paint the kitchen Wednesday. I did find some to give to City Dogs though. If you dig around enough there’s usually some in the couch cushions and the car.

This year I bet the other grandparents on the Michigan/Ohio State game. We are Michigan fans. We were born into it. In Toledo, you declare a team early in life. My husband and I declared Michigan.

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this is me at Halloween

Anyway, other than being OSU fans, the other grandparents are wonderful people with few character flaws. None of us has attempted to sway the grandchildren one way or another. But, we can certainly bet each other. This year we bet that the loser had to put an ornament of the other team on their Christmas tree. OSU has beaten Michigan for the last decade. So they felt pretty comfortable making the bet. But what they didn’t consider is that with this type of rivalry, anything can happen. That game is in a bubble; records don’t matter. Low and behold, miracle of miracles, Michigan won! This will be my only moment of gloating until the Michigan ornament arrives. Then I will take a picture and show you the true beauty of the season.

This is a pretty boring blog post, even now as I reread it. I feel boring. I am ultimately a boring person. As long as I’m being boring though, an update…..

My husband bought me gold-beard styrofoam Santa for the front door! No sign of any light up deer though. Stay tuned…

Austin bats and a double dinner…

We were eating Thanksgiving dinner in 2016 when my sister announced that she wanted to see the bats. I don’t respond to everything weird she says. I learned that as a kid. I figured there was some reason behind it so I waited and ate turkey.

Apparently Austin, Texas has the largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in the world. At that time there were 1.5 million bats roosting under the Congress Avenue Bridge. They migrate there between spring until late October. It’s a maternity colony, so babies are born in June, only one per mama. They leave the bridge every night to fly hundreds of miles to feed on insects, then they fly back and have to find their babies again. Texas is also home to the largest bat colony in the world. My sister knew all this and was fascinated by it.  

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I’m not afraid of bats— I have encountered bats and they are just animals. If you open a window they fly out. I think they are cool and kind of cute. So I said “Sure, I’ll go!” Why not? Austin weather is nice, so we figured it’d be a fun sister bucket list trip. If you remember my earlier blogs, previous bucket lists included Punxsutawney, PA for groundhog day, and to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in Toledo. We were due for another trip. We decided to fly into Dallas, spend the night, then drive to Austin. On the way back, we would pop in on my cousin Sara and visit. We expected bats, a vibrant city, and good weather. We got two out of three…

We flew to Dallas in August of 2017. My sister touted the benefits of the cheap, measured carry on airline. I brought a small suitcase. She did too, but had too much stuffed in so she wore many, many layers. We stopped at a small restaurant in the airport and she had to unpack a little to find something or other. When we left, she forgot her sandals on the seat. “Ugh, hopefully this wasn’t an omen”, we thought.

Yes, I took a picture from the plane..

We arrived in Dallas, and we rented a car to get to the hotel. She drove the car and I navigated. It was a bit hairy. It was dark, she wasn’t familiar with the car or the highways around the Dallas airport, and there was the phone issue. See, I have a ringtone of screaming goats that I find hilarious. You can look up screaming goats on the internet and you will love it too, I’m sure. It sounds like a person screaming, but the goat looks so funny just standing there, then this big scream comes out. So every so often, I would get a call and the screaming goat ringtone would go off. My sister did not love the goats as much as I did. At one point she said irritably, “can’t you stop that thing?” Being the older sister, I probably laughed. I’m not proud of that. My navigation skills were fine but who knew there were two of the same type of hotel in Dallas? Obviously not me. I navigated us to one…the wrong one. So after the kind desk clerk told us where to go we piled back into the car and found the other one. So far so good!

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We drove to Austin on Friday. We had heard that there was some kind of storm coming and it may hit Austin. We had made reservations for the bat boat for Friday night. I hoped and hoped that we could see the bats. I was a little anxious during the day. You know the feeling that you HAVE to do something and this is your only chance? I had psyched myself into a be all and end all moment with the bats. We talked about trying to postpone it, but the sky cleared and the viewing was full steam ahead. We ate a good meal and Friday evening found our way to the bats.

Lady Bird Lake
This photo isn’t grainy, those are all little bats.

What can I say? The bats were amazing. So many, just bat after bat emerging from the boat at twilight. We were in the boat out on the lake with a perfect view. There was no rain, and we watched in awe as these beautiful little mamas flew to get their fill of insects. The guide mentioned that she hoped the weather south of Austin was OK and they would make it back. It is overwhelming to think that they do this every single night. Everyone on the boat was quiet as masses of bats exited the bridge. We had our moment then went into Austin for a drink. It was a lovely evening.

Causing trouble in Austin

Saturday it rained. My sister tends to worry more than I do, and we were hearing news of not just a storm, but something more substantial. Hurricane Harvey. We began to see people with blankets and a dog in the hotel area. It still was not terrible weather in Austin though, so I got a tattoo. Our kitty had passed away, and I wanted a tangible reminder of him. I got paw prints on my wrist.

I call it my cat tatt

It rained more steadily so we went back to the hotel and watched some stupid movie. My sister was in full blown worry mode, and kind of freaking out over the hurricane. I was blithely going the opposite direction, kind of a “meh” to the hurricane. Hurricane Shmuricane. She was thinking we should leave and drive north Saturday night but I was in denial. We awoke to the catastrophe response unit in the parking lot.

We left Sunday morning and drove north. As it turned out, we were fine, and one day ahead of the rain. Harvey dumped 8-10 inches of rain on Austin, and a whole lot more in other cities. There was widespread flooding. We on the other hand had a very nice visit with our cousin and her family. We ate dinner at “Whataburger” even though we didn’t really like burgers because, well, Whataburger! We flew back without difficulty. As we walked by the restaurant where my sister left her sandals, she said “I think I’ll ask them if they have it.” I scoffed. She asked and sure enough, someone turned them in to the lost and found! Go figure! A fortuitous trip all around.

Yes I took a picture of the Whataburger.

Jumping to the present, in February 2021 there was an unexpected snowstorm and freeze in Austin. A large percentage of the bats were killed. There is a bat refuge that saved a lot, but a lot died too. It’s a sad point in bat history but hopefully they will come back and multiply again. It’s a helpless feeling when we care so much, but  control so little.

Now on to Chester and his double dinner…John and I split days, so that whoever walks him does not feed him. It’s flexible though. I decided to walk him a little early, since I had to leave. I did, and when we got back he was really hungry. We know when he’s hungry because he wants to go outside. He goes out, stands on the deck, then comes back in. He trots over to John who gets him a Milk Bone. He did that to me right after the walk so I fed him his dinner. Unfortunately our communication was a little lax.  I left, and when I came home, John asked if I fed Chester. I said yes, and he said he did too. That dog didn’t waste time in eating his two dinners. Both were gobbled up quickly. We reprimanded Chester for not telling John he was fed already. Chester promised us that in the future he will tell us. I think he had his paws crossed behind his back though. Chester is getting a bit pudgy. My friend calls it his “winter weight.” The squirrels have noticed. This one has decided that he can come up on the deck and Chester’s too lazy to get off the couch. He had no ill effects from the double dinner and still attempted to get a Milk Bone. He’s pretty happy with himself.

Wide load
Chester just watched him…

I think the good weather may be over. Yesterday I cut the roses back. While I hate to see the summer and fall move along, that’s something else I can’t control so might as well go with it! Have a wonderful week!

The overlook and a post about nothing…

Good morning and Happy Wednesday! Chester, the other Grammy and I went walking to the Overlook on Girdled Road. We were hoping for a little more fall color, but the weather has been so warm the color seems to have been delayed. We still had a nice time. Chester saw several other doggies and was good as gold, no freak outs! When we got to the overlook, there were two Adirondack chairs there waiting for us.

Also there was a small group of older citizens. Now I know I’m getting to be an older citizen, so it’s not a negative label, just descriptive. They’re probably saying the same thing about the two old ladies and the dog. One of the citizens started a conversation about her son’s dog who apparently looks like Chester but not as much white on his feet. I engaged, and it was quite pleasant.

the overlook

Dogs have a way of starting conversations. They are great ice breakers! Even if someone doesn’t’ have a dog, we have had them say they love dogs and start talking. Are dog people friendlier anyway? This isn’t a pandemic thing (like everything else seems to be now…). It was always like that. Around the neighborhood, we have gone from not really knowing anyone to smiling and waving, knowing them at least by dog ownership. We are Chester’s parents. We know Cody’s parents, the Pitbull’s parents, Sparkles’ mom, Brutus and Jackson’s family, and so on.

I think only in your younger years does anyone know your name. If you have a child, you become “(your child’s) mom.” Then when they grow up, it’s “(your grandchild’s) grandma.” If you have a dog, it’s the same as a child. It’s good for me because I don’t like my name, but I feel sorry for a person who does like their name and never hears it. I think my life would have been different if I was a “Linda” or a “Sue.” I can’t tell you how many times I heard “Martha, Martha, Martha” like in the Brady Bunch only not even correct. Sheesh people, give me a break.  I thought about changing my name some years ago but I thought it would hurt my dad’s feelings. Now I’m older and it would be silly. One of my work friends used to call me “Marty.” He was the only one who did, but it was kind of nice. Then I met a cellist named Martha in the Cleveland Orchestra. And Martha Stewart became cool again. So I guess I can live with it. I’m not Martha anyway, I’m Chester’s mom!

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I began playing the piano for Chester. I can read music but not play while looking at the music so I started playing easy songs with only a few chords. Most of them are hymns, like “Just as I am” or “How Great Thou Art.” I quickly exhausted my hymn repertoire, so played songs Chester could relate to. He seemed to enjoy “Bingo” but wasn’t as fond of “How Much is that Doggie in the Window.” He stared at me lovingly (or longingly, since he probably wanted a biscuit).

Doggie for sale??? Whaaatttt??

He looked so nice in the morning sun! Especially since this is his usual position:

This isn’t a post about much. I’m just enjoying the beautiful almost 60 degree day. Usually I write about what I was thinking about while walking Chester, but Grammy and I talked too much and I didn’t think anything. I can’t write about what I don’t think. Or maybe I can, a post about nothing? Anyway, have a great week, I’m sure this laid-back lull won’t last!

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Sorry, couldn’t resist. Hmmm…time for a Starbucks run!

It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Sometimes we do things that cannot be rationally explained. We shrug our shoulders and say, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” This is a story about one such event. 

My husband’s birthday is on Halloween. I think sometimes he liked it, and sometimes not, but it is what it is. In the late 70s/early 80s Saturday Night Live was in its heyday. It was the new, fresh, silly, irreverent show that we older teens loved. Plus, we had to stay up late to get any privacy, so it was a staple. One of the skits was of the adventures and misunderstandings of the “Coneheads.” The coneheads were aliens living on earth. Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman were the coneheads, Beldar, Prymaatt, and daughter Connie.    

I decided to have a surprise party for my then boyfriend, now husband. We were going to surprise him, then go to a haunted house. I invited a bunch of friends and stipulated that it was a costume party. He knew we were dressing up, and probably surmised more, but I don’t remember to be honest. What I do remember is finding the perfect couple’s costume. I was looking through some cheap catalog and saw Conehead wigs! Doesn’t that sound ideal? I quickly ordered them and waited for the package. Remember, there was no such thing as next day delivery unless you drove their yourself.  

Finally, the wigs came, and on Halloween we began to think about dressing up, having just said “cool” when we saw them, then waiting until the last minute to try them on. We went to my house, put them on, and they flopped to the side. OK, minor setback. We decided to stuff them with newspapers to make them stand up. Success! Only…they were so flimsy you could see through them. And they were kind of a yellow color.  

You know the point where you can either forge ahead or abandon the mission? We did not realize that this was that point. I decided that to match my skin at least, and provide a more natural look, we should just put make up on the wigs. We smeared my foundation all over the coneheads, taking care to blend around the wig line. We had to use a lot. This seemed to work, and we took a picture of the outcome.  

We discovered another problem when we tried to get into the car to drive to his parents’ house. The coneheads were too tall. We couldn’t sit in a car. My dad had a sense of humor and drove us in his car. We crouched down in the back seat. When we got out, the top of the car was my skin tone. My dad’s car was a Cover Girl. We didn’t care, we were young and going to a party! Pffffft to dad’s car!  

We went inside and received our accolades from our friends, surprising my husband. He blew out the candles and we had cake, then he opened gifts. Finally it was time to go to the haunted house.  

Of course our parents were not going to drive us, (God, no, how embarrassing) and our friends were a little less willing when we told them how funny it was that the foundation came off on the car. But luckily one friend had a truck! No problem, right? We’d sit in the back of the flatbed and our heads wouldn’t touch anything.  

Weather in Toledo, Ohio is unpredictable. On this particular Halloween it was about 20 below zero, or maybe it just felt like it. We huddled together, wrapped in a thin blanket, blinded by the headlights of the cars behind us. People honked their horns in appreciation (I think) as we cruised down the road to the haunt. Do you know I was so cold when we got there that I don’t even remember the haunted house? All I remember was sitting like a deer in the headlights fully understanding the meaning of wind chill and thinking “it seemed like a good idea at the time”.  

Anyway, that was one of our more memorable Halloweens. As for Chester, I could say the same thing about this year’s costume. I thought that instead of something around his neck, he might tolerate a pumpkin hat. I offered my husband the opportunity to put the hat on Chester. After much struggling, he sat there (we had a Milk Bone as enticement) just long enough for a picture. My husband took pity and removed the offending item. That was it for costumes.  

Chester went with us to the neighbor’s driveway for Halloween and was good as gold. The only thing that freaked him out was an inflatable dinosaur costume. He watched it go down the street and come back, looking worried and confused. He didn’t know whether to try to chase it or run. In the end he sat by us and threatened it with his scary evil eye while it walked down the street. Kind of like he did with this squirrel.  They usually have a stand off until one moves. In the dinosaur’s case, the dino was focused on candy and not Chester. So Chester won, and another Halloween is in the books. 

Have a good week!  

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Just for fun…