Adventures in candy wrappers

Upon opening a Dove dark chocolate candy, I realized it had an inspirational saying inside the foil wrapper. The saying said, “A smile is the quickest way to brighten a room.”  It had the name Jessica of South Carolina under it.  “How interesting” I thought as I ate the chocolate faster than Steve McQueen drove through San Francisco.

 Apparently you can submit your favorite saying to Dove and you too could be on the inside of a candy wrapper. The dark chocolate seemed to be offset by the overly sweet saying so I thought I better have another one. Just to see what would happen. The next Dove dark chocolate said, “Throw kindness around like confetti.” I cringed a little wondering if the kindness was bad for the environment like confetti is, but the chocolate was tasty so I thought I better be kind and give Dove another try.

“Book the flight” was just dumb. I’m not booking a flight just because a candy wrapper tells me to. But what if it’s a sign? I’ll have another one and if it says the same thing, aloha Cleveland!

just kidding, this is Cleveland!

Nope. I’m not going anywhere. “When life isn’t going right, go left.” Huh? Better have another one since that must have been written by someone who knows their left from their right. I’m lucky to be able to follow the lady speaking to me from the dashboard of my car.

“Laugh it off.” Yeah, people will think I’ve lost it. Like the laughing in the last song of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I think it’s the last song….maybe another candy will help me remember.

“Always Time for Love,” close to my husband’s favorite book, “Time Enough for Love” by Robert Heinlein. I’ll have to reread that one, but put a pin in it and one more dark chocolate first. “Be(you)tiful.” Since the wrappers are kind of wrinkly I thought it said “Beloultiful.” What the heck is “loultiful”? Is that like being a lout? Surely Dove can’t be advocating that I be a lout! So I smoothed it out and realized Dove is running out of sayings and making them up. How cute.

“If you are reading this you are beautiful and worth it.” Worth what? WHAT AM I WORTH? Kind of like the song, “War…what is it good for, absolutely nothing.” I’m worth a Dove candy I guess. That’s scary.

Finally, I started getting repeats and thought maybe I had absorbed all the positivity I could take. And all the chocolate candy too. I mean either I ate them all or somebody snuck in and grabbed a few without my noticing. Then I found the holy grail of Dove candy wrappers. Take this to heart, people.

“Write a letter to a friend…and send chocolate with it.”

I love you, Alyssa M from Minnesota!!

Weird but just right

Sometimes in my world things are off. No, not me, thank you very much, other things. I realized that while I have been busy rehearsing Decibells and doing things like talking to a local reporter (who seemed to be fixated on how old the songs we are playing are even though they are NOT old unless you consider the Mamas and Papas old, or Willie Nelson or….oh never mind), the world tripped on by, with acts of weirdness blipping on a radar screen. I love this world and I love people because they are weird, and over the top, and just right. Keep in mind that I’m writing this while my husband is watching youtube videos on how to carve a SPAM turkey.

First our crazy weather, warm one day and snow another. Here is Chester, who couldn’t even dry off before lying in front of the fireplace.

Did you ever see such huge snowflakes? In March?

The Model A group travelled to Castle Noel, a tucked away Christmas wonderland in Medina. The good slightly obsessive people at Castle Noel are really into Christmas.

I loved it! So much so that I slid down the big “Ralphie” slide at the end.

Almost all the Model A folks slid down the slide. So much for being old.

We also went into an antique store. My husband said it was stretching it to call the items antiques, that it’s really just old stuff. So I guess it was an old stuff store. These are (guess what?) salt and pepper shakers. Nope, not getting salt and pepper out of a foot. Not gonna do it.

After it snowed one day, it was nice the rest. Chester and I went to a park. He decided to go in the pond. Oh well, such is life. We have muddy paw prints in the house might as well have them in the car too.

We went to the Home Improvement Show and saw the house of the future.

Seriously it is for sale. You too could have this magnificent structure in your neighborhood for only $99,500 plus shipping. How the heck do they ship it???? Oh, right, it flies over like one of the weather balloons. Here is where we are going to place it.

We watched the grandsons for a couple of days, and they got Chester a new toy. It lasted about a half hour so was a success.

My grammie in law took them for the next couple days and got me these flowers. Don’t they look beautiful in the afternoon sunshine?

I had bird seed sitting outside the door in an all purpose Dollar General clear plastic container.  One day the handle was broken off.

Later, my husband said he saw a tail sticking out of the container. I caught the culprit, or so I thought.

I put a smaller container of birdseed on top thinking I would outsmart him. The next morning the handle of the little container was also torn off. Thinking we have discovered the “Rocky Balboa” of squirrels, I brought the seed container in before going to Dollar General for another one. Lo and behold the next day a raccoon strolled up on the deck and looked in the window. Chester jumped at it but it didn’t look fazed. It ambled off, only to reappear that evening. So bottom line I have maligned the squirrel who it appears is just taking advantage of a beneficial situation. The raccoon was the real culprit. Here is the false arrest and mug shot of the squirrel.

You have to admit he’s pretty cute! Probably is just plotting ways to torment Chester.

We have been on the receiving end of some garbled communication. We swung by Dunkin to get a caramel cold brew (get it! It’s delicious!) and the person taking orders asked us to wait. Then we heard him ask what we wanted but it turned out he was talking to someone else because he then told us to wait again. We heard some sort of conversation then we thought he came back but no, not yet. We left thoroughly confused but in possession of the treasure that is the caramel chocolate frosted cold brew so all’s well. Then we ordered Chinese food and while I was placing the order the guy asked me to hold but didn’t put me on hold so I kept trying to give him my order but I don’t think he heard because finally he said “Go ahead” and I already had gone ahead a few times. Nonetheless, he got our order right which is more than you could say for McDonald’s or Taco Bell.

The church had an Easter egg hunt for the kids today. Since the only place to hide them is a big field it wasn’t eggsactly a challenge but they had fun. The people helping the Easter bunny hide them were just kind of tossing them on the ground. I remember when my dad and uncle would hide eggs and our cousins and my brother and sister and I would become competitive egg hunt Olympians kind of like gladiators in Rome. To this day I still hear about the time my sister saw an egg in a tree (come on, seriously? How does a bunny get into a tree??) and couldn’t reach it. While she pointed to it and my dad was on the way to help her, the evil cousin shimmied up the tree and grabbed it. He kept it too. We were ruthless. We embodied the joy of Easter, right?

I hope to write more often. I’m working on grants and publicity for Decibells and trying to combat self-doubt. When my eyes start falling out of my head like a Looney Tunes character I clean muddy paw prints and do dishes, laundry, and clean kitty puke. But writing this blog is a happy place for me, a time to reflect on the absurdity and imperfection of life. It’s weird…but somehow right.

Have a good week!

Stuck in a Rut and Telemachus

I am in a rut. I’m not sure what a rut is but if this is being stuck in one I enjoy it. I know I am stuck because I am taking basically the same pictures of Chester over and over, mostly lying on the couch. Apparently he is stuck in a rut too. I don’t mind it, it’s a good rut.

I was listening to the radio on the way back from getting bagels and heard Carole King, “It’s Too Late” from the Tapestry album. I sang along with every word. How can I remember that but not where I put my keys? I guess it makes sense as this was the first album I owned and played it so many times I lost count. Growing up in 1971, when the album was released, there were not a lot of women role models in the music business. This album became one of the biggest sellers worldwide, winning 4 grammy awards and spending mega time on the Billboard charts. Not only that but it was one of the albums that defined women in pop music. I still love it!

Did you know this was her cat, named Telemachus? After digging a little I found this picture of Telemachus as a kitten.

In Greek mythology Telemachus was the son of the Greek hero Odysseus and his wife, Penelope. But there is another Telemachus, a monk. According to the church historian Theodoret, bishop ofCyrrhus in Syria, Telemachus had attended gladiator games.

Per Theodoret, “After gazing upon the combat from the amphitheatre, he descended into the arena, and tried to separate the gladiators. The sanguinary spectators, possessed by the demon who delights in the effusion of blood, were irritated at the interruption of their cruel sports, and stoned him who had occasioned the cessation. After being apprised of this circumstance, the admirable emperor numbered him with the victorious martyrs, and abolished these iniquitous spectacles.”

I don’t know which Telemachus the cat is named after but I’m going to try to find out. There are stories about the photo for the album cover but I haven’t found out much about his name. He’s a pretty famous cat. He even has his own t-shirt!

 Anyway, he’s a cute cat (looks a little like Milo) and I thank Carole King for helping me through the often disheartening early teen years. She made me realize that it’s OK to look “normal” (I had the natural long hair too) and take charge of her own music. Love you, Carole!!

So, we had a major breakthrough with our cats, or at least a stalemate. They are now free together overnight. They seem to just ignore each other and so far Chester hasn’t complained that he’s stuck in a bedroom. This is a breakthrough because in the past they would try to kill each other so we kept them separate. I don’t know if they are getting older or just used to each other but it’s a milestone for us!

and Milo….not quite together but coexisting!

We went to another park (here is the rut…a park and cute pics of Chester cute pics of Chester) and some of the spring flowers are just starting to bloom.

It’s early, it has to snow on the daffodils three times before it’s really spring. But it was nice to see. Of course this is what Chester saw on the walk…

Chester is totally hooked on pup cups. He got one at Biggby coffee after our walk, then went to CVS and got a beggin strip. They know him at Biggby now and say, “Hi baby, did you go for a walk? Do you want a pup cup?”  He practically crawls in my lap to give them the big starving eyes.

Pullling up to the Biggby drive through. Ready to give them a show!

They always give him two biscuits in his cup. I think that is more than they give other dogs. Does he look starved? Not hardly.

I’m working on Decibells, our new performance bell choir. We are working hard and planning a concert for 6/3 at 4:00. There is a lot of stuff to do….today I bought a cash box! Honestly, it seems like every fundraiser or show I participate in has that moment when someone wants to donate or pay and the cashbox person isn’t here yet. Right???? I decided that I want the cash box there early in case anyone has the immediate urge to donate. Plus it made me feel legit. I guess if I didn’t win the Powerball (I didn’t) I’ll have to rely on the bake sale. For that we need a cash box!

Enjoy the weekend!

Our Final Christmas (til next December!)

Christmas of 2022 was ridiculous! In a good way, but still…

We visited our kids in Brooklyn NY this past weekend for our third and final Christmas. Between illness and weather, they were not able to come back to Cleveland. It was wonderful to see them. We visited Chamber Street Wines, where our son works.

one of the best in the city!

We went to the Guggenheim Museum which was super cool. The building is in a spiral, and you walk the spiral to see the art.

inside the museum
Alex Katz exhibit…we remember these clothes and hair!
art by Nick Case

We also played Bananagram, a fun scrabble-like game with tiles that look like Chiclets. Of course no NYC trip would be complete without a parking ticket. I’m serious. I double dog dare you to try to drive in NYC and not get a ticket of some kind. It’s not humanly possible.

John was a hero…
The subway was much better!

But it was a nice trip nonetheless. I miss the kids. I don’t know if I will ever be not sad coming home from seeing them in person. They are happy there and I remember being that age and living my life. But I still miss them.  Ah well, whatcha gonna do?

Izzy and Tim at a sweet little cafe with amazing breakfasts

Chester got to spend a few nights at Camp Bow Wow. He does like it there but it sure tires him out. He basically passed out in the car driving home and slept for two days.

He’s getting back to normal, so I’ll take him for a walk later. The weather is not particularly cold…about 37 degrees, which is practically flip flop weather! We’ll go see the lake.

One random complaint about the weather…muddy paw prints. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Milo and Zeus missed us; Milo decided I’m not allowed to stop petting him and is lying on my arm so I can’t type.

OK now on to the Super Bowl and an internal conflict. I like football. Actually, I like fantasy football, but I like to watch too. There is nothing like a Browns game on a Sunday afternoon to prompt a nice nap on the couch.

But it seems a little barbaric at the same time. Are we still watching the gladiators in the arena? I would not want my grandkids to play football. But I still want to watch it. While I watch the game and more importantly the usually underwhelming and over-hyped halftime show and commercials, a small voice in my head says football is not going to be part of our psyche at some point. Something will happen; something to change our viewpoint. I’m not trying to be dramatic, unlike the usually over-dramatic halftime show…just admitting that I’m a hypocrite when it comes to football. However….

NOT THE PUPPY BOWL! I love the puppy bowl and kittie halftime show. I love the corny jokes, the birds and other assorted critters who make guest appearances and the referee. Most of all I love the cause. Our shelters here in Cleveland are overwhelmed. If we could squeeze in one more pet we would, but our house is full up. In NYC everyone seems to have a dog; they were all out walking! Cats aren’t as lucky there, but our kids adopted two spoiled ones.

I understand that there is a bump in adoptions following the puppy bowl, so fingers crossed some of these guys (especially the adults) get a second chance. We are certainly glad we chose Chester (or he chose us) since he has been a great addition to our family. (minus the muddy paw prints!)

It wasn’t me!

Have a great week!

Groundhog Day revisited

I wrote this post in 2019. Believe me it seems like yesterday! Some things have changed…apparently Phil wrote a nice little poem to predict 6 more weeks of winter. And, he didn’t bite his handler. I was kind of rooting for that but Phil was on his best behavior. Anyway, I wrote this after the best Groundhog Day and sister trip to Punxsutawney, PA. If you’ve been a reader here for long, you may have seen it, but I added some pictures to spice it up. (no, not that way….) This is my way of telling my sister she’s loved no matter what shenanigans she gets me into! Enjoy!

Welcome to Punxsutawney!!

When I was two years and 19 days old my sister was born. From that day on it was my job to torment her. When we were teens, we fought over clothing, the phone, and everything else. I realized recently that the problem wasn’t that I didn’t like my sister, it’s that I wished I was more like her. She had all the traits in high school that I envied. She had friends that laughed, partied, and probably a lot more that I wouldn’t know about. She had cool clothes and long, curly hair. In college, when I talked her into going through sorority rush, she had the Pi Phis attention. The Pi Phis wouldn’t look at me. I was quieter, and not as confident. But we all grow and change. Somewhere in our metamorphosis into decent adults, the idea of Bucket List Adventures was born.

It all began a few years back, I think at Christmas, when my sister said she wanted to go to Groundhog Day in Punxsuatawney, PA. She said it was on her bucket list. I’m not sure why, but I wanted to go too.  We set the hotel alarm for 12:30am and drove to Punxsuatawney. That is quite a drive in the middle of the night, hilly, winding, and dark. We sat in the Walmart parking lot until the bus to Gobbler’s Knob came at 2:50am. We put on our groundhog hats, hopped on, and were right up front by 3:00.

3:00am and we are pumped!!

Keep in mind that Phil doesn’t come out and give his prediction until 7:20 or so.  We nailed a spot right next to the camera stand; with a perfect view of the dj and people dressed up like groundhogs giving high fives. For four hours and twenty minutes we stood in slight drizzle and listened to the band, cheered on the high school dance team, and groaned at bad jokes. We jumped up and down to “Wake Me Up” and yelled “Winner, winner chicken dinner” with the crowd. When at about 6am they started throwing around beach balls, the balls became covered in mud. We didn’t want to get muddy, so whenever a mudball would come at us we would stuff it under the camera stand. We put three or four out of commission that way.  We reached a feverish pitch when the fireworks exploded. Finally, with about 14,000 people behind us, it was time.  Phil emerged, with the assistance of a man who didn’t even seem to mind that he got bit.  Phil was lifted to the fireworks-hazy sky as a king. Right when he was about to make his prediction some stupid lady behind us fainted. People were calling for the medics and to stop the show. Ha! Silly people, nothing stops the groundhog. She should have toughed it out like we did. What a wimp. No matter. The top hat clad men of the inner circle put two scrolls on a surface about two feet apart, and Phil waddled to one of them, sniffing it. That’s how he made his prediction.

The blurry grey thing on the right is Phil. This was at 7:something AM mind you.

It was then that my sister lost it. She is a naturalist and thought there was more scientific process behind the Phil pick. There was no sunlight to see his shadow; it was still dark, and with the firework haze nothing could shine through anyway. She was crushed and appalled that it was so random. We and the crowd of 14,000 walked through the mud that would take us to the buses that would take us back down the hill to the town. We walked our muddy selves to the Walmart parking lot and drove away looking for coffee. Keep in mind that we had not had coffee that morning because we wouldn’t be able to go to the bathroom and it was raining. We were cold and wet. My sister was still peeved about the lack of reputable weather skill exhibited by the great Phil. I was just tired. We needed coffee. By the way, he predicted 6 more weeks of winter which is actually a no-brainer around here. I could have predicted that and I’m not even a groundhog.

We arrived at some Denny’s like restaurant and were seated, then ignored. I noticed that table after table got coffee and we didn’t. Finally our waitress made the rounds. She stopped at the table next to us and made a comment about “these groundhog people” making it slow. Now I was both tired and peeved. When she came to us, I loudly told her that we ARE those groundhog people, and if she didn’t want us there we would leave. I even started to stand up. Of course she backpedaled, apologized and got us the coffee. Damn right. My sister stared at me like I grew three heads. What she doesn’t know is that I will always stand up for her. Nobody is going to deny my sister coffee just because she is a groundhog person. She is my little sister after all, and I love her. I can torment her the rest of the year.

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!