Laughing in the rain…

Did you ever notice that some people laugh alot and others don’t? I don’t mean smile, or nod, but just laugh. What does it take for you to laugh?

I am generally not super serious, but it takes alot to make me laugh. There is a woman i eat lunch with who can do it. I’m not sure why, but she is hilarious. I’m not a generous laugher i guess, but not on purpose. Sometimes though, it hits me. Bad karaoke makes me run away because i will laugh so hard i cry, and that’s just rude. Bad Christmas songs, or good songs done so badly…we have a “Dance Party Christmas” CD that must be some guy sitting with a synthesizer in his basement because they all sound the same. Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, for my musician friends.. Finally, my favorite humorist, Jack Handey. He was on SNL and Deep Thoughts is one of my favorite books. Here is a sample of his offbeat humor:

Maybe in order to understand mankind we have to look at that word itself. MANKIND. Basically, it’s made up of two separate words mank and ind. What do these words mean? It’s a mystery and that’s why so is mankind.

When this girl at the museum asked me who I liked better, Monet or Manet, I said, “I like mayonnaise.” She just stared at me, so I said it again, louder. Then she left. I guess she went to try to find some mayonnaise for me.”

If you’re at a Thanksgiving dinner, but you don’t like the stuffing or the cranberry sauce or anything else, just pretend like you’re eating it, but instead, put it all in your lap and form it into a big mushy ball. Then, later, when you’re out back having cigars with the boys, let out a big fake cough and throw the ball to the ground. Then say, ‘Boy, these are good cigars!”

Yes, that’s what makes me laugh. While I was walking Chester I had a Jack Handey thought. I was thinking about my birthday and that I can say I was born in 59. When I’m a hundred years old, I will have to say i was born in 1959 so they don’t mix it up with 2059. That will be a pain.

I heard it said that for something to be funny, someone has to get hurt. I don’t believe that. the world can be funny, sad and delighful all at the same time. I can’t help seeing the irony or off the wall humor in people. People are weird, including myself! If we can’t laugh at ourselves and the world, we will not make it.

When I was in the Aadams Family musical I grew close to my Aadams clan. We went to the end of season awards show. Our Wednesday won Best Supporting Actress, and our director won, but our musical didn’t win, and Morticia didn’t win, although we felt we deserved it. It was raining, and of course we forgot umbrellas. She and I walked to the cars and talked in the rain for a few minutes. Our Gomez pulled out, almost hitting us. Morticia’s comment? “How romantic.” We realized it was a perfect Aadams night..we lost, we got rained on, and Gomez almost hit us. As Allison/Morticia put it, “a little rain, a little pain,what could be better? “

When life gives you lemons, think like an Aadams. Read some Deep Thoughts. Listen to Jonathan and Darlene. Sometimes you’re the pigeon and sometimes you’re the statue. Stay strong and have a good week! And laugh a little!

the clan
always smiling!

Geauga Lake and memories…

They say that people come and go from our lives, some leaving deeper marks than others. Some are bound by blood, some by choice, and some by a memory of a time or place. Walking Chester at the end of summer inevitably draws my mind to a memory of a place that owned all that summer is, and the adventures of eight random people that worked there.

I was a tutor in a high school during the school year. But in 2005, when my children were old enough to be on their own over summer vacation, I got a job at Geauga Lake Amusement Park. If you grew up around Cleveland, you know Geauga Lake. If not, I’m going to take you there but from the inside. Geauga Lake used to be across a lake from Sea World, and it was a hometown version of Cedar Point or Six Flags. By that I mean it was smaller, fewer rides, not the really high coasters, but essentially all the fun. Truth is, it was one of the nearby places that had seasonal jobs that paid decently. I was only there for two and a half months. In and out, make a few bucks. Little did I know.

When I started, one of the first things they have you do is to get a uniform. The uniform consisted of a white collar shirt with khaki pants. These clothes were not made for women who are short and chubby. It was awful. I had to get pants to fit my waist and hem them about six inches. The shirt was fine but we had to wear it tucked in. Oh, and don’t forget the nice ascot. No matter. Misery loves company and we were all in it together.

My job was in the rides department office. My hours were from 7:00am until 2:30pm. It was about an hour away, so I left home at 6:00. When I pulled in the gigantic parking lot, nobody was there. The rides building was a little yellow and brown squatty building down a sidewalk outside of the park. I’d go through a side gate and there I was. The sidewalk was sandwiched between a big wooden roller coaster and a creek. 7:00 am was early, and I could see the maintenance workers still with their lights on, working on the ride, checking and double checking. Every so often an empty car would careen past being tested. On the other side, I smelled the creek. To this day, I can’t tell you what it smelled like except that if I smell it, it takes me back. The frogs would still be singing when I arrived; rain or shine it seemed. I’d punch in with my badge and it was off to the races.

The park itself was empty of guests at 7:00am, but workers are there 24 hours. Most of the employees are in high school or college. Some are international and come to the US only to work there. These are the ones that work all night, then all day, then sleep for a few hours and do it again. I honestly never saw anyone work as hard as they did. The rides office was a beehive of activity each morning. My job was payroll; entering and fixing errors in ADP. I learn quickly and became good at it. I learned that the lifeguards made the most money. They had the skill and responsibility and were kind of on another plane. The rides operators (and us) considered rides the best department in the park. We were the thrill seekers, the cool ones. There were eight of us in the office. We all had to fill in if we were needed—I usually didn’t have to because, well, people want to get paid. But besides doing payroll, one of my jobs was an hour or so on dispatch.

Dispatch was the heartbeat of the rides. We had a manager, Andre. His code was 201. We had codes for every possible scenario. I don’t remember most of them but I think 18 or 19 was the code for an irate customer holding up a ride line. There was one for a storm and the closing of the rides, one for vomit on a ride, and our favorite, code 37. The script was, “Base to 201, Mr. Hyde’s is 37.” Mr. Hyde’s was a ride that slowly went up, and then dropped passengers down quickly. Mr. Hyde’s was perpetually broken. Did you figure out the code? Yep…37 meant broken. Actually it meant broken without customers on it. 38 was not so lucky. We uttered that phrase probably 3 times an hour. At one point maintenance opened a secondary office at the base of Mr. Hyde’s. One of them was stationed there waiting for the inevitable code 37. At the end of the season we got shirts with the top ten reasons to work in the rides office…Mr. Hyde’s was number 7.

One of my best memories, outside of when the log ride leaked and flooded the midway, was when my kids came to visit after work one day. I was able to get a sizeable discount, and of course I got in free, so it was fine to go in the afternoon. We rode the water ride about ten times since my daughter loved it. We ate fries and junk, and the kids went on the bigger coasters. We ended the evening at the water park. I don’t think they realized how much that night meant to me.

I could go on with stories forever; the lake that must be half full of passenger items from the ferry, the operator who sprayed water on his ride and told Andre it was wet from the rain so he could just sit there (even though the rest of the rides were up and running…nice try),. There were the storms when everyone piled into the office sitting on desks laughing and talking. I could tell you that for the international students who stayed in the dorms, there were midnight movies in the water park, with popcorn and snacks. There were carp as big as dolphins (maybe not, but you get the idea) that we could feed with fish food for 25 cents. Most of all there were people laughing with their families and friends. I used to walk at lunch just to see them. There was an excitement in the air; a fantasy world of fun. I was a part of it.

Geauga Lake closed two years later in 2007. The water park stayed open until 2016 but it’s gone now too. It was bought, and now sits vacant. Last night I watched a video of a drone flying over the now overgrown park. I literally cried. Usually I like abandoned buildings and sites, but not this time. The structure was there without the heart, the people.

I know things change. My elementary school was torn down, and soon my children’s probably will be. Our favorite restaurants change hands, stores come and go. I think what bothers me about Geauga Lake is that some of the coasters are still there. It’s like they are waiting for someone to send a car down to test it…for Mr. Hyde’s to be code 37 again, and for the girl who loved the water ride so much she went on it over and over. One summer it was all mine. I shared it with seven strangers, Katie, Greg, Michelle, Melissa, Jennifer, Patrick, and Carlita. We were rides, we ruled.  Number one on the shirt? Without dispatch the park doesn’t run! Two and a half months can form a lifetime of memories. Sometimes that just has to do.

 

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shirt

Happy birthday to me…

So the big thing has happened. I am now officially old. I turned 60 which really doesn’t seem possible. I always thought 60 was old, and now I am. I’ve been trying to ignore it, but it came anyway. Just like the Grinch and Christmas, it came. You know what? It wasn’t all that bad. I took Chester to the Lake Erie pier near our house for a walk. I took the day off work. We went to Paninis that night for dinner. And, I got my new “compliant” driver’s license. Anyone who has not gotten theirs, take heed..if your name is different on your birth certificate and on your driver’s license, they will ask for a marriage certificate (if it’s due to marriage that is..) I had heard this, and was ready, so it was quick and easy. I look like a convict in the photo, but it’s a license not a billboard. So it was a nice day all around!

Here’s my thought on aging: I don’t like it. I don’t like not being able to do the things I used to because my older body can’t. I don’t like arthritis, or the myriad of other aging related annoyances. But it’s all OK. I’m glad and grateful to be alive and have more days. What good does it do to worry or dwell on it? I figure I have waaay too much to do. So happy birthday to me!

Lately there’s a thing that shows up on facebook or somewhere that says a person is asking you to donate for their birthday. I’m not going to do that; I don’t expect donations unless you want to donate a cookie. Then I’ll take it. What I would like for my birthday is for you to do something fun. I don’t care what, buy some M&M peanuts (my vice), go for a walk, pay something forward, or watch a favorite comedy or movie. Do it for yourself and do it in secret; whatever makes you happy. Start a puzzle, call a friend, buy something online, and then when you feel happy, just smile to yourself and I will psychically know that you are sending me good vibes.  Um… yes, you skeptics, I will!

The pictures i have included are three at the pier, and one of a fruit basket my husband got me. He calls it “fruit cake” Please note the “60” made out of pineapple…

Have a wonderful week!

City Dogs…

Today was the annual City Dog Reunion. City Dogs is a program that promotes and works with “bully breeds” who are frequently not adopted from kennels.  Let’s be honest, most are pit bulls. In Cleveland, as in many areas of the country, pit bulls are prevalent. Yet because they were, and unfortunately still are sometimes used in dog fighting, the breed is looked upon with trepidation. In addition, any injury by a pittie is going to get media attention. Some cities have a ban on pit bulls, others have rules on fence size and insurance.

The City Dog Reunion consisted of maybe 50 or so pit bulls. Some would think that it would be a melee of fighting dogs, but they were the most well behaved dogs I’ve ever seen. Truth is, pit bulls are great dogs, for those that look beyond the outer shell.

Anyway, Chester had a wonderful time at the reunion, and so did we. There were station/tents set up a good distance apart from each other, and a “passport” you could get initialed when you went to the tent. We got lots of freebies, bought some City Dog stuff, and Chester entered the “most expressive ears” and “best smile” contests. He didn’t enter the “biggest head” or “best trick” since his best trick is getting us to give him more treats. He got lots of loving from the people there, and there were multiple baby pools set up for the dogs to drink from or get in, whichever suited them. I did learn that many of the pit bulls love water; not just drinking but playing in it. Chester really doesn’t like to swim, but he drank and watched the others jump around. There were no fights, and it was a feel good kind of day. All of the dogs were exhausted at the end of the three hours judging from the facebook photos. I know Chester was! All in all, it was loads of fun and a super celebration of “pibbies.”  Yes, they played, yes, they sniffed each other’s butts, yes they ignored each other, yes they rolled in the grass, basically they were just like any other breed.

Chester is 25% pit bull and 25% boxer. The rest is a mix. This qualifies him as a City Dog, but he doesn’t look like the typical pit bull. At one point, a lady made a comment that she “forgets that they have other kinds of dogs than pit bulls” at the Cleveland city kennel. She was being nice, there was no offense taken, but it gave me pause. Truth is, I wondered if others thought we were interlopers, if we belonged. The adopters and other owners were very welcoming, don’t get me wrong. I just wonder in the back of their minds if they assume he is not a pit bull based on what he looks like.

Of course since my mind then takes everything to the next step, I thought about how much we all make assumptions based on appearance. I speak with a lot of people on the phone daily, and many I have not met in person. Our company just added photos to the staff directory and it’s freaking me out a little. The first thing I did was go through and look at the pictures of people I talk to a lot. They don’t look anything like I imagined. I had to pause. Does it matter? I know who is kind, who is a good worker, who is quick to respond, who has a wicked sense of humor and who is frankly, not easy to deal with. Does it matter if the guy I speak with has a beard that would rival ZZ Top? What do they think of me? Did they think I was younger, prettier, more composed, or just the opposite?

Part of the problem is time. To build a good relationship, I was taught there are five “must haves”—time, space, positive tone and words, living in another’s shoes, and being connected. (The Good Life)  I want to think on time for a moment; how much time do we give people? Do we have time to get to know them? Or do we make assumptions based on first impression, then move on. Just like people glance at a pit bull and move on. The inside person may be just like me, but I’ll never know unless I make an effort over time.

This world is fast paced. I get it, my job involves quick thinking and analysis of a situation. I listen to calls to an incident hotline and determine if the situation needs investigation based on the rule and a quick assessment. But the investigators I assign the case to–they spend 45 days with the incident. They will know the person much better than I do. In fact when I go back at the end and read how it turned out, I’m often surprised. I don’t have the gift of time. Yet I think that the world would be a much better place, and I would be a better person, if the visual first impression was just that, a first impression. The thing about first impressions is that often there are no second or thirds. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had a second chance? Had time to know you and you, them?

We own a part pit bull. But he’s not like any other doggie, he’s simply Chester. He’s treat motivated, hates bunnies, loves digging squeekers out of toys, likes other dogs, chases cats, and sometimes goes into wild dog mode where he runs through the house at top speed. He’s one of a kind just like you and I are. It’s been a year since we adopted him and it took every bit of that year to get to know him. There are people who we can get to know too, if we take time and have an open mind.

The pictures are Chester at the reunion…he’s tired but happy!  😊

 

Tattoos and memories…

This has been an interesting weekend. Last Wednesday night I got the tattoo I was thinking about. Then Sunday was the Nightingale (my mom’s family) reunion. I stocked up on Advil. FOR THE TATTOO …come on now😊 So how it all began..

When I see dead animals on the side of the road, I become incredibly sad. It’s overwhelming in a way. The problem is, I drive 35 minutes to work, and there are a few guarantees in Cleveland: orange cones/construction, a slow down around MLK Boulevard and Dead Man’s Curve, and dead animals at the side of the road. Like with sad movies (I will NOT be seeing the Art of Racing in the Rain, although the book was excellent) I have to limit what I take in, so I try not to look. One day I was driving and noticed a dead bird. I started to feel bad when it hit me…the bird didn’t know it was going to die. Birds live their lives completely in the moment. That bird was flying along probably at full speed, then boom, gone. There’s no worry or anxious thought about the future. There’s no regret of a lost past. In the moment. That bird made every moment count because the moment is all it had. I knew then I wanted birds in my tattoo to remind me to live the moment. Don’t worry about tomorrow, live today.

The second part of the tattoo is the four seasons. Living in Ohio, we have the most amazing change of seasons. We can go from 92 degrees in summer, to 10 in six months. And in between, we revel in the beauty of spring and fall. I could draw a parallel to our lives, moving in and out of seasons. I want to be like my birds, flying through and over the seasons, experiencing each one. I want to remember the seasons too, because they always change. John F. Kennedy said that there is no present, only the past rushing into the future. To hold on is to be left behind. I agree, but would add that there is only the present, because the rest is past rushing into the future. Live in the moment.

At the Nightingale family reunion, a lot of memories were shared. It was fun to learn about our history. It was also fun to see those we grew up with, and to realize how much they really do mean in our lives.

I always looked up to my cousin, Wes. He was older, and I remember being about 12 years old, at a wedding, and sitting watching the older people dance. I was too shy, and back then, people weren’t as free to just dance alone (I’m so glad that changed!) Wes asked me to dance, and I felt included. I appreciate that gesture, it shows how much little things matter.

His family visited my mom when she was dying. I didn’t know she was dying, or I probably would have been a nicer daughter. I wasn’t awful, just a teenager. But she was really happy when they visited. She glowed. Aunt Florence, her sister, and Wes’ wife at the time visited her hospital room when I was there and gave her two cookbooks. She cherished them, planning the gourmet dishes she would cook when she got better.  I still have them.

Much later, cousin Wes wrote a book. He was a pediatrician, so there was doctor humor in it…get it? Humor? Don’t worry, he will get it. Some verses I laughed at, some elicited groans. Then he wrote another. And another. One was purchased for a television show. That was a novel about his dad, who I remember as a quiet, kind man. It is quite good, and is interesting on its own, even if you didn’t know my uncle.

Wes has ALS. He is not able to write physically and communicates with effort. These books were written before, during and after he became diagnosed. ALS is a roadblock, but only that. He lives in the moment. He was able to write books, for God’s sake, with ALS. What if he had said, “Oh woe is me, I can’t write any more because I can’t type.” At what point did he give up and say, “Oh, I can’t communicate any more so I’m just going to quit? “ Right, he didn’t. He lives for the moment. I’m sure he is writing more as I speak. None of us know how much time we have, whether we have ALS or not. How dare I put off living until tomorrow? I don’t.

It was great to see him and my other cousins and assorted relatives at the reunion. I included a picture because I’m really proud of this wonderful group of people. Each one has a story. Like my birds, they live to the fullest. Nightingales don’t quit. One teaches Zumba, one leads a grief counseling group, one helped design Harry Potter World at Universal, one works at inner city schools as a nurse, one is “the trombone guy”, one owns his own business, one is a very well respected dentist, one is over 90 years old and a pickleball champion, one is a pastor, one is a senior naturalist in a fantastic park system, one is a wrestler, and one has his own albums on spotify. That’s just a few of them, there are so many more! (there were 8 children in my mom’s family, so there’s a lot going on!)

Live your life like the birds. Don’t worry about tomorrow, it will take care of itself. Remember, the seasons come and go. If you are in winter, spring will arrive. Enjoy the beauty of the day!

Nightingales

Psychics and love…

Let me first say I don’t know if there is a heaven. I don’t believe there is in the traditional sense, although I have seen my dog on the other side. That’s another story. Some believe that we are reincarnated and I hope this is true.  I am getting older and have not experienced everything this world has to offer. I want to do it again. Plus, I have learned so much, and I feel like I could be better next time. Be that as it may, I honestly don’t think about it that much, I have enough to think about while I’m alive  Really, what’s the point?

Having said that, I have seen several psychics and mediums with varying outcomes. I don’t know if any or all were graced with this ability, or were just good performers. I am, after all, an investigator at heart, and I believe half of what I see and none of what I hear. Still I want to believe…some of it at least!

The very first psychic reader I saw was in Salem, Massachusetts. She is well known and always holding a dog. I was terrified; I think I was afraid that she would be able to see inside me, and I am not particularly comfortable with that. She invited me in to the back room, and her doggie was on the ornate couch, a fluffy white cute thing (the dog, not the couch). I said, “hello puppy” and reached out to pet the cutie while she was getting things ready. The fluff ball bit me. I jumped back, and she, hearing the growl said “no, no.” She didn’t see him bite me, and he didn’t break the skin, but that wasn’t the best start. I had been nervous, now I was so on edge a puff of air would have blown me over. And, the puff of air came. She laid out the cards and began reading. She said I have two children (I have three) and my husband was going to die soon. He didn’t. (I never told him that, I didn’t want to upset him, and it might freak him out, so hey, John, yeah, news flash). That kind of bothered me, but in all honesty we are all going to die, and who is to say what “soon” means? It’s been about 6 years so I think we’re past the limit. Then she asked me about the cats and I completely lost it. We had just dropped Milo off at our daughter’s and I was beyone sad. I totally broke down, full sobbing fit. Not a pretty sight. She looked at me as if I had three heads. She was probably thinking she needed to get this crazy woman out of there. I was definitely upsetting the vibe. She said Milo was my familiar, and he would be fine, then moved on to how I should try to destress and she gave me some lavender in a sachet. I learned two things about myself during that experience. One, I was probably a cat in my former life, and Two, don’t go to a psychic if you are not emotionally stable.

One of the next times was in New Orleans, at a little table in the French Quarter. She read both my husband (still alive, thank you) and me. She told John he was going to live to be 98. I was going to live to be 102. I am going to party in those four years, let me tell you. She also said he was going to get a new job (he didn’t) and some other stuff that didn’t happen. But I believe her life span prediction, because I want to!

I went to a séance with my sister. This was kind of a mini bucket list for me, and she was game. This gentleman is a medium, and makes it clear that no black magic or bad spirits will be present. He protects the room first and calls on St. Michael. In the séance, with about 15 other people around a table, spirits come and bring messages. Many people had relatives come, and many messages were given, most uplifting. Who did I have? Well, he asked if anyone had a lot of pets buried in the backyard. I tentatively raised my hand. He asked if I felt them around my legs. I did actually feel a small something. He then asked, “How many animals do you have back there?” somewhat in disbelief. I asked if he wants me to count the guinea pigs, fish, rats, hamsters, or just the dogs and cats. He didn’t answer, and they weren’t giving me any message that he could understand.  I think they were probably telling him they wanted Milk Bones, Fancy Feast, carrots, basically a “FEED ME” consensus. That was about it for me that time.

I went back, but it a spirit circle, by the same gentleman, this time with my husband. He said I should pay attention to a cameo pin I have. I said I didn’t think there was anything special about it, but apparently someone in my family said there was. He said some other spirits were there, and had messages, but I don’t remember them. I do remember going to Arabica afterward and eating a brownie thing with my husband.

The most recent time I went alone. The first thing he said was that my parents were there. He said they don’t approve of my plan to get a tattoo next week. He also said they don’t think it’s good that I have so many animals, and I don’t take care of myself. They were concerned because I looked tired. Well, I am old and past getting yelled at by my parents, so I’m not going to give them the chance again until after I get the tattoo. I mean, parents, you know? I say that while I’m twirling my hair and chewing gum and texting. (not really, I don’t have any gum)

I do enjoy going to the spirit circles, because each time it comforted me for some reason. I have some, but very little, ability to feel things, and receive messages, so I do believe in his gift. I feel good afterward, knowing that the people I love are still in my life. Is it real? I don’t know. It works for me. I go and just take it in, trying to remain open. I like to think that what I feel is love coming through. I don’t care so much about any message, just that they are still with me in some way. As for the psychic sessions, I took a Tarot class, and know the basic meanings, but I’d never read for anyone else. I would only give good news and I can do that anyway. I mean who says your husband is going to die soon? Sheesh.

Have a good week.  I will post a picture of the tattoo when I get it. Meanwhile, here’s a picture of Chester having an out of body experience with the sheets while i was trying to change them.😊

sheets

 

Milo, Zeus, and relative peace…

We have two cats. They hate each other. Chester tries to eat both of them; he is a non-discriminatory chaser. They hate him too. We got a five year old dog so that he would be calm and mellow. I think I was looking for one like my beagle. She would sit down in the middle of the street if she was tired. I’d carry her home because what else could I do? Anyway, Chester was with the cat at the shelter for a minute or two and did fine, or at least restrained himself. Not so much with our cats. I was naïve; Abbey got along fine with cats (she just sat on the couch) so I thought all dogs did. He’s five years old for crying out loud! So what does five years old look like to you? To Chester, it means climbing over the couch and onto the kitchen counter to get my husband’s bag of coffee beans. It means standing on his hind legs and pulling the cast iron skillet onto the floor so he can lick it. It means tearing up toilet paper and stuffed animals.  When he tore up the toilet paper, it didn’t matter. I was less than thrilled. But we pick our battles and toilet paper is not high on the list. Right now he is outside the door whining because he can’t come in.

Why can’t he come in? Like I said, we have two cats. At this moment, they are BOTH sitting in the office with me. Yes friends and family, you read that correctly! For at least 6 years we have had cats at war. We are experienced cat owners but nothing prepared us for the cat war of all wars. I update everyone annually in my Christmas letter, and I only have to say, they still hate each other. And now they are looking at each other without hissing or biting! I can’t believe it!

We had Zeus, a beautiful tuxedo cat, since he was a kitten. He got along fine with our older cat, Max, and our older cat got along with everyone. I was leaving a handbell rehearsal in January, and talking with the bell choir director, and a cat appeared, rubbing up against us. It was cold, the wind was blowing, and there was snow. The director picked up the cat and held him close. He said “Something’s wrong with his eye.” Turns out he doesn’t have one. The director said “He stinks too.” When I say the cat smelled awful, I’m talking worse than when you forget about one onion in the back of the cupboard until it begins to leak and assaults you awful. We were the only two people still there, freezing, but handbell talk is riveting. We looked at each other, both with the same thought. The director immediately said he had dogs, and couldn’t take a cat. Pretty quick thinking, like calling shotgun first. I called my husband, who said “sure, it’s a big house”. He’s a prince, he had no idea what we were in for, but neither did I. I put the cat in the back of the Rav and headed home. We kept him in the garage at first, because he was sneezing a lot and we didn’t want to spread illness. I took him to the vet and after a week we moved him into the guest room. He stopped smelling bad when he ate good food, and once he was on antibiotics he got better. It took a couple rounds because until he yawned and I saw inside his mouth, none of us knew he also has a cleft palate. That means everything he eats or drinks may slip into his nose, and he sneezes all the time. Our house is covered with kittie snot. But, he got better, so after a couple weeks, we introduced him to Max and Zeus.  It didn’t go exactly as planned.

Max, the lover, fought back. He was old and too entrenched on the couch to move for some upstart. Zeus on the other hand, was terrified. Milo, the street cat with one eye, a cleft palate, and about two thirds of Zeus’ size, became the great hunter. He would run after Zeus, who became prey. They would fight like cats and ….cats. The only time I got bit by a cat was trying to pull Milo off Zeus. Milo didn’t realize it was me and clamped down on my hand. I carried him, teeth in hand, up two floors and back into the bedroom. It became infected later, and Milo now has a record at the Lake County Health District because the doctor ratted him out. I had to send in his proof of a rabies vaccine.

Most people would kick Milo to the curb. I couldn’t do it. Milo adored me. He would follow me around and at night, he put one paw on either side of my neck like he was hugging me. Some people believe in familiars; animal spirits who guide you. He was mine. I know because a psychic told me so (and that’s a whole other story). But I knew anyway. I don’t know who sent him but he came to me when I needed him. I don’t even remember why but it was a bad period as far as depression for me. The thing about depression is that there isn’t always a particular reason. Off topic, one of the best songs describing depression is “Settle for Satin” by the Alkeline Trio. Very accurate. In this case, I think it had to do with our daughter going to college, and me feeling kind of useless. Plus it was January in Cleveland. I cried a lot. Milo would lick tears away and purr. But it was rough closing off part of the house and worrying that they would hurt each other. It wasn’t fair to Zeus.

We tried to send him to NYC to live with Izzy, our daughter. She offered, and her roommates liked him, but it didn’t work out well. Milo is high maintenance. She really tried, but we learned that in addition to the cleft palate and one eye, he was allergic to NYC dust mites. He licked literally half of himself bare. So after a few months, the cat came back…and we took him to an animal dermatologist.

John built a gate across the top of our steps out of the white criss-cross plastic sections you put under a porch. He velcroed it and we kept them apart. Max was a trooper, hanging out with either one until he died. But Zeus and Milo could not be in the same room, it was that intense. I used to have dreams that they could.  But I’d wake up sad that it would never be. When we got Chester, someone said maybe they would like each other, like misery loves company. I don’t think it’s because of Chester, when I wasn’t paying attention, when I had given up, something happened. John had accidentally put them in the same room and left for the day. When we got home, they were both still there. I thought it would be two piles of fur, but no, they seemed OK, if not particularly happy. I thought I would build on the experience of not getting killed, and have been slowly bringing them together to visit.

It’s not perfect yet. Yes, they fight, but not viciously. They stop on their own, and nobody gets hurt. Milo is annoying to Zeus, so we don’t leave them alone together yet (on purpose). But I have hope. In another 6 years maybe Chester can be in the same room too. It’s kind of like erosion on the shore of Lake Erie, time wears us all down. Hate takes a lot of energy. I guess they don’t have it any more. Milo and Zeus have bigger, browner, and doggier fish to fry. Celebrate with me, this is a victory! We’re going out for ice cream! Love, or at least tolerance, wins out in time.😊

Zeus
Maxwell the lover
Milo
John and Chester discussing the toilet paper incident.

Advice

Last weekend I spent four hours or so in the ER due to chest pains. It does not appear to be heart related, so while I do intend to follow up, it’s not life and death, probably something like indigestion. I only tell you this because while I was there the thought crossed my mind that I better start passing on all, and I mean all of my years of wisdom to my kids. Yeah, I’m sure that sounds as appealing as a dental visit to them. But, I do have some nuggets worth sharing.

1)Never, and I mean never, eat any of the samples at a fair or festival, especially if it’s summer and they have been there awhile.

2) Always lock your car from the key fob; you’ll never lock your keys in the car. Hands off the lock button on the door.

3) If you carry a purse or bag, zip it before you leave. I have picked up many a lip gloss or pen from the floor after braking.

4) Never send an email on Friday afternoon if you are upset when you wrote it. Sleep on it. Trust me..

5) You can’t control what other people do. You can only control your reaction to it.

I first heard number 5 at a mother’s group when my kids were young. It was said in the context of don’t you get out of control just because the kids are. I have followed it ever since, and the older I get the more it rings true. It’s all about control, and if I could give one piece of wisdom, that would be it. (the no food at fairs comes in second…)

We successfully control what we do to a certain extent. We make decisions that define our lives. But we live with others and their decisions, which affect us too. Here’s the thing; we can’t control others. So how much control do we have? Do we shrug our shoulders and let ourselves blow in the wind?

As it turns out we have tons of control. We can control how we react. Let me give an example: when I was in high school, I auditioned for a play. I thought I rocked the audition. I didn’t get the part. Instead, this senior girl named Diana got the part. She was gorgeous, and just perfect. I was upset, sitting alone, when Diana came over. She said that she has been to lots of auditions and not gotten parts. She said one time she and a friend went to an audition in the middle of a snowstorm. They thought the auditions would be cancelled but they weren’t. She was excited to learn that she and the friend were the only ones to show up! That’s an auditioner’s dream!  She assumed they would get the parts, of course. They didn’t. The director rescheduled the auditions and cast someone else. He said they just weren’t who he had in mind. That hit me in the head. First that Diana would talk to me, but also that she wouldn’t get any part she wanted. We don’t know what they wanted, but it probably wasn’t personal. The thing is, she reacted by laughing about it, and while disappointed, it didn’t stop her from auditioning for other plays.

Now granted, some things we can’t laugh about. Some circumstances are not funny, not in the slightest. If you care for others, you are opening yourself up to pain, and sometimes this world sucks. If you are feeling that, I am truly sorry. I have felt it, so I’m not minimizing it. But you still have control. Your mind can go where you take it. You can choose your reaction. Are you going to choose to care again? Or close yourself off? Your choice; I suggest that maybe part of the pain is that you didn’t have control and that hurts too. I suggest choosing to care again. It may be a lot harder—but keep trying.

My advice is this: as you go through life, you will want things that you won’t get. You will be hurt and tested by people and by time, illness, disasters, and any number of circumstances. Be resilient. You will fall—feel sad then get back up. Life isn’t easy. Find your way through your own beliefs and actions. You may not have all the control you want in life but you will have the ability to hold your head up and move on. You can know in your heart that you stayed true to you. Think of two or three solid values that define you, that you really believe in. Keep your focus and let go of what you can’t control. Don’t worry about what others do or think; if you react from the heart, you will be fine.

OK, let’s move on…

6) Limit screen time except for this blog. It’s a life suck.  

7) Don’t make big decisions when Mercury is in retrograde. Ugh. (coming up July 7-31, heads up) I’m serious, in my work I see a huge jump in incidents. Everything becomes emotionally topsy-turvy. Keep your wits about you!

8) If your child says he/she feels sick, believe it. Especially if you are in a car.

Today we went to Erie Bluffs Park with Chester. Again it’s right on Lake Erie, and it was a beautiful day. I took a picture and Chester moved his head. Then he lay down while I was trying to get a better one. (sigh) Allegedly there are bald eagles there. Every person in Lake County either has seen them or is in on the plot to scam us. It reminds me of when we would go to Arnstein and say “there’s no fish in this lake” to try and taunt them into jumping in the boat. It didn’t work then and it didn’t work today. Guess I’ll have to yell louder next time. Have a good week!

Erie Bluffs. do you see a bald eagle? me neither.

This and that and a recipe…

Father’s Day is past, but I want to share some dad jokes courtesy of my husband, who is seriously the best dad ever.

The termite and the ant went into a bar. The termite asked “is the bartender here?”

What did the father buffalo say to the baby buffalo? Bison…

Yep, that was my reaction too. I just got done talking with Mitch at WordPress and he said I should put a recipe up. Ok, Mitch this is for you, and for anyone else who needs a good all around casserole. It’s the “Church Potluck Casserole” passed down from my mom.

Boil a bag of frozen vegetables–the corn, peas, and carrots work the best. Take them out of the plastic bag first (that was in memory of my dad, who baked biscuits in the plastic. we thought it was hilarious. he did not, nor did the oven) Put the boiled veggies in a casserole dish.

Cut up a good sized chunk of cheddar cheese, monteray jack, or something similar. Cut into small chunks, not shredded. Put the cheese on the veggies.

Open one or two cans of cream of mushroom soup, and cover the veggies and cheese. Spread it out. I like two cans or one large can. You can thin it with a little milk if you want.

Bake at anywhere from 350 – 400 degrees for about 1/2 hour. It should be kind of bubbly. Take out, and cover with French fried onion rings. (the more the better) Put back in for about 5-7 minutes. Take out and let cool just a little. Eat up!

That’s all folks! Super easy and super good. Kind of like green bean casserole but better because of the cheese. Enjoy, Mitch, and anyone else who wants to try it.

Chester says hello; we were on vacation and he had to stay at the vet’s kennel. He did not approve. He was soo tired. He didn’t even want to walk. I’ll post soon, but I have a casserole in the oven and the timer is about to go off. Take care of yourselves and those you love! Talk soon…

Memorial Day and love…

Lately I’ve been seeing posts about Memorial Day being for those who died in the war, and not for veterans or those veterans who have passed. While I am completely respectful of those who died in battle, and humbled by their sacrifice, today I am remembering my grandfather. He didn’t die in battle, but he served. I feel like this day it’s OK to remember. I hope you understand.

My grandfather played baseball. Let’s get that out of the way first. He played for the St. Louis Cardinals in the late 1920s and early 30s. He played in three World Series, 1928, 30, and 31. If you look up Andy High baseball on the internet you can get his stats and other memorabilia. After playing, he scouted for the Brooklyn Dodgers and other stuff.

If I seem a little dismissive of the “baseball stuff” it’s because by the time I was born, he was basically retired. The grandpa I knew was into baseball, but I knew him differently. This is the grandpa I knew and loved.

I loved Grandpa High. He and Grandma lived in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis Missouri. I grew up drinking Dr. Pepper on the front porch (before it was sold in Ohio) because there was no air conditioning. We would visit their home several times a year, usually Thanksgiving, and at least once in the summer. We would drive it in one trip, and arrive around 2:00am. We would pile out of the car, and even at 2:00am it was hot. Grandpa planted tomato plants all along the driveway and I remember the first thing I did was to bury my face in them. The smell of tomato plants is such a summer smell, especially when there are bunches of them. We would wander upstairs to the bedroom, and the window was open. I could hear the clock in the Masonic Hall chime the hour. There were flickering lights from outside, just enough to put me to sleep.

Grandpa liked birds and fed them daily. He would feed them sunflower seeds, and peanuts for the squirrels. This was my job, to help him feed the birds. He especially liked the Blue Jays; he admired their brash attitude. I think maybe they reminded him of himself and his baseball friends. He would walk with us down to the “Monday Club” building and back, and we would sit on the front porch. If a cat came by, Grandpa would toss a rock at it because he didn’t want to see his birds hurt. I told him that wasn’t nice so he wouldn’t do it as much when we were there.

Grandpa and Grandma visited us in Toledo Ohio also. He and I would walk down to Otto’s Variety Store and he would smoke cigars on the way. I think that may be because my mom put the kibosh on him smoking inside after he burned a hole in the carpet with the ash.  But I didn’t care, to me the cigars smelled good. As I grew older, he and I would argue about things, we were both pretty stubborn and thought we were always right. When I went to college, he wrote me letters, and I wrote back. I asked for advice, and sometimes he would give it, but sometimes not. Sometimes he would just say he didn’t know what I should do, but that he loved me.

Here’s the thing, my Grandpa wore his heart on his sleeve. He called me his “blue-eyed granddaughter” and signed his letters “YDOG” meaning your dear old grandpa. I knew he loved me, and I think he knew I loved him.

One day my sister and I were home, doing nothing much, when the phone rang. I answered it and there was silence, just breathing. Now keep in mind this was before cell phones or caller ID, and we had only one phone line. Normally I would have hung up. I didn’t. I knew it was Grandpa. I don’t know how I knew, he didn’t speak. I knew something was wrong. I told my sister to go two doors down and call Grandpa’s next door neighbor. She did. I guess Grandpa had a stroke, because she went to check on him and called the ambulance. He recovered, but ultimately came to live with us.

Grandpa High was in a rehab place in Toledo, and the day before he was supposed to come back home with us, I answered the call from the hospital that he had died. His funeral was in St. Louis, and a lot of big name baseball people were there. I remember going out to the car and sobbing my heart out. I didn’t care so much about the baseball stuff, I missed him.

Grandpa played baseball. But he often told me that he was “in three world series and two world wars” and was “proudest of the world wars”. He served in both World War I and World War II. He was in the Navy—a Seabee. In 1943 he enlisted, leaving my Grandma and Dad, who was about 12 years old. Grandpa was 47. We have letters addressed to “my sweethearts”, and at the end of all of them, he says “I love you Milly and Bunny Duck”. That was my dad’s nickname. Grandpa wrote a whole two pages in one letter, addressed to my dad, about coconuts. He said he had a Masters Degree in Coconutology. He was stationed in the South Pacific somewhere; they couldn’t say where because the letters were read by a censor before delivery to maintain security. Some of the letters have little sections cut out; apparently they said something that would give a location or something else the censor didn’t like. At the end of some of the letters, he would write 20+ XOXOXOXOs. Like I said he wore his heart on his sleeve. In one letter, he said that he was sad to leave the country, but he would be back home, and it would be even better, because the country and home is more secure by him leaving.  

Grandpa was an honorable man. He faced the world head on. He was so proud of serving this country; he carved the places he served and dates onto a cane that I have. I hope this Memorial Day is a good one for you. I hope your memories of your service men and women bring you pride and gratitude.

Oh, and Chester? He played outside and then curled up on the couch. But I do want to give a shout out to the canine soldiers who gave their lives in conflicts. They are special dogs, and we are grateful to them also.

Lots of love
Christmas wishes from the South Pacific