Halloween and Charlie Brown…

It is raining in Cleveland again. This is the third or fourth day in a row and it isn’t letting up. Chester has been giving us the stink eye when we suggest going outside. Here is a picture of his regular activity. Please note that he was snoring.

Here is the look he gave me when I suggested he go outside and go potty. He has been more lethargic on walks too, cutting them short halfway down the street. When Chester decides to go back home, we do. It’s kind of hard not to, when he braces his feet.

Surely you jest.

Before you worry about him though, he is fine. Right now he is flipping out over a guy working in our yard. He is launching himself sideways at the front door. He sounds ferocious. His hackles stand up and he has a very commanding bark. Of course if I let him out he would expect the guy to pet him. What a poser. At least he sounds scary.

Look at those hackles! Like a mohawk! Our son had a mohawk in the 90s and kept it up with egg whites. But I digress…

Speaking of scary, Halloween is this weekend! I watched ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on PBS. In the Charlie Brown hierarchy, this one is second to the Charlie Brown Christmas. But after this one, it’s a pool of wanna be Charlie Brown shows. These two are the only ones that count. Why is that? Partly because these have a lot of love in them, even while insulting poor CB. It always touches me when Lucy wakes up in the middle of the night and gets her brother out of the pumpkin patch (where are the parents??) and puts him to bed.  Little brothers are a pain but we love them anyway. The other reason is that for those of us over a certain age these were the only television traditions we could watch. I marvel at how my two sons, born in 84 and 86, only had Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. Our daughter, born in 1993, had an explosion of kids’ tv. As a child I had even less. We had Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny. And Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), followed in 1966 by “It’s the Great Pumpkin”. Later we had Frosty (1969), and a few others but none matched good old CB. Rudolph was made right before CB; in 1964. But CB is the classic. It brings back memories of sitting around the tv with my brother and sister, and later with our kids. Remember, we couldn’t record something. So if we missed it, that was it. I think that made it more special.

Anyway, I wanted to get Chester a Halloween costume. He’s not a fan of dressing up but I found this bandana in the closet. He wouldn’t look at me while it was on, just looked at the floor and panted. Honestly you’d think I was killing him. When I took it off he wagged his tail like he wanted a Milk Bone. Sheesh.

This is the best I could do

Halloween makes me think of times I was scared and what I’m afraid of. There was the time when our cousin/babysitter turned on “The Birds”. I ran into the bathroom and locked the door. No, I wasn’t as young as you might think. Scary movies frighten me but not for long. I revisited “The Birds” a few days ago while walking Chester. We have a huge flock of blackbirds who stop in the spring and in the fall for a few days then move on. They make a horrendously loud sound, just like in The Birds. We look down and keep walking.

This was from last fall, but same birds. The black dots are the birds.

Then there was the time when my brother and I were walking back from a rest stop somewhere in Indiana. I was 22, he was 18. For some stupid reason they put the rest stop way back, not seeable from the parking lot. There was a paved trail winding past some large ponds and rushes. As luck would have it, it was dark. We made it there, but it creeped me out big time. On the way back, my dumb brother said softly “kill her mommy, kill her” (From Friday the 13th, which was the first scary movie I saw). I ran. But he did too! (yes you did, Andy!!) Luckily I was running regularly at that point, and the monster/ghost/bad guy didn’t catch me. It didn’t catch my brother either even if he deserved it. Now I would just wave it on to catch him because no way am I running. Getting old makes you either brave or apathetic.  

As for what I’m afraid of now…not much. I used to be afraid of ghosts. Lately I’ve been feeling pressure on my shoulder, like a hand but wider, when I’m going to sleep. It’s just a warm weight but nothing is there. I think one of our cats who have passed on has been visiting us. I’ve heard noises and felt something brush by my leg. It’s not scary though, it’s very comforting. I don’t sense that it is a person, or one of the dogs, not that I’d be scared of them either. I used to work in a building reputedly haunted by nuns. Unfortunately I never saw one.

What was your favorite costume if you dressed up? Mine was a cat. But my go to is a witch. I usually dress up to pass out candy. I used to sit on the porch. One of our sons got into it for a couple of years. He tied a dollar bill to a fishing line, cast it from his upstairs window and when a kid tried to pick it up he’d pull it away. It worked remarkably well! Another year he pretended to be a Halloween fake prop on the porch in a chair then jumped up and scared the kids. That also worked well. We did have an old cassette tape of scary sounds, you know organ music, groaning, and screaming. We’d have to plug in the cassette player inside and open the window. If it isn’t rainy we get a lot of kids, but unfortunately it looks like this might be an off year.  I will wear the wig even outside though just because I like it. I will also make pumpkin seeds and eat them all within 2 days. Yep, I will probably get sick. I don’t care, it’s that or the Halloween candy. Maybe it’s and/or the Halloween candy…

Anyway, enough musing. Have a Happy Halloween if you celebrate it. Dress up your dogs or cats if you are able. We will be sitting around a fire pit in the neighbor’s driveway passing out candy and eating s’mores. Chester will be in a bandana or a t-shirt like the dog in “Rocky.” We’ll see if he likes that better. I’m positive he will!

The rules of background music and Dr. Dre…

Wherever I have worked there has inevitably risen the question of background music in a common area. There are two camps…those who can work better with music in the background and those who can’t. I was apathetically mute on the subject for fear of offending someone. It’s amazing what workplace enemies are created over everyday comfort.

Truth is, if I can hear music playing I can’t ignore it. I am unable to tune it out.  I am compelled to play these games in my head, naming the song, the band, the musicians in the band, and the lyrics.  It doesn’t even have to be a real song. Right now there is a Halloween Snoopy solar powered bobblehead nodding in at 110 beats per minute. I know this because I watched the clock and counted. I couldn’t help it. It is close to matching the Target commercial jingle that I heard this morning on the news which is now stuck in my head. A little slower but close. AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!

Anyway, I truly need to firm up the rules of background music. Truly. I was sitting at Scramblers, a restaurant specializing in eggs. (duh) I was a little early (as always, another compulsion) so I sat in the waiting area listening to the music playing a little louder than typical background. More of a party vibe at Scramblers. Something was bothering me…I thought “I know this song” but I couldn’t figure out what it was. The Beatles? No… it was a piano and strings rendition of something but I couldn’t place it. Then it hit me. It was “I Need a Doctor” by Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Skylar Grey. OMG. This is on my favorites playlist. I remember when they performed it on The Grammys …they cleaned it up but every so often a word was beeped out. The performance was electric. The audience of well dressed celebrities was enthusiastic even as Dr. Dre came out and verbally gave them all the middle finger. Somehow I found that verbal gesture appealing. How can “I Need a Doctor” be background music at Scramblers, a diner with chicken and country décor? I rested my head in my hands and waited (prayed) for it to mercifully end. I wanted to stand up and sing along, beeped words and all. I guess I missed my chance of being thrown out of Scramblers.

You went to Scramblers without me…

I looked around to see if anyone else noticed this mind-blowing occurrence. Everyone was devouring their eggs, pancakes and hashbrowns, staring at the person across from them while chewing, nodding occasionally as if to show empathy while really wishing they had more bacon. They didn’t even notice this cataclysmic breach of background music protocol.  When the song came to an end I shook my head, figuring it was just an aberration.

Do you remember the “Henry the Eighth” verse that says “second verse, same as the first”? Remember how I said I loved Harley Quinn and wanted to be her? Well, the song at the end of “Suicide Squad” is also on my playlist. It is “Heathens” by 21 Pilots, a band out of Ohio (yay!). Yes, the strings and piano tore into “Heathens”. Some of the lyrics are “all my friends are heathens, take it slow. Wait for them to ask you who you know. Please don’t make any sudden moves…” and you get the drift.  Although this translated to strings better because there was an actual melody, it’s pretty dark for background music. All I could do was think why, why?  It’s unknowable. I was torn between horror and wanting to buy the cd.

She’s on a rant again…

As the ever-energetic violinist slid into “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns and Roses (yep, another one on my playlist) my friend arrived. She didn’t seem as mortified as I was when I frantically told her of the complete disregard for the rules of background music.

What are the rules you ask? Let me enlighten you grasshopper…

Nothing without a melody. Nothing that is on my playlist. Nothing that Harley Quinn would like. Nothing more recent than 1970. Nothing that was originally rock, rap, or punk. Peter, Paul and Mary is OK. Nothing with lyrics that can’t be sung in front of children or innocent dogs. Finally, nothing that will make me feel old. Now how hard it that??

 The whole music thing is like the dog thing. If someone has or had a dog, they HAVE to pet any dog they see. I plead guilty—we went for about 6 years without a dog and I never passed up a chance to get dog hair on my pants. What is this urge to pet a strange dog? Can it be simply that we love dogs? Can it be that we need love even for a minute? Something to mull over, right?

Chester has been a busy boy, with lots of walks. Since it is getting dark earlier here, we had a great view of the full moon. Chester just stared at it and wouldn’t leave the deck to go potty. I had to go down the stairs with him.

Milo and Chester got into it yesterday when Chester bullied his way into the basement. I’ve been cleaning out the basement, removing dead stink bugs and such. There was quite a ruckus but nobody got hurt. It makes me wonder if they actually kind of like the excitement. Milo is a small cute kitty (picture below) but he was growling at Chester and not jumping up to the top of the cat tree. I think Chester may be in trouble.  

Chester better watch out!

The Great Hershey Swamp Meet…

Everyone has a bucket list. Some want to travel, some experience great adventures, some write or read or learn a new language. My husband’s included a visit to the biggest old car swap meet in the country, in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

If you have attended a Midwest swap meet of any kind, you can picture this one. Old car parts, license plates, hub caps, and miscellaneous crap highly valuable items on tables, the ground, or the tail bed of a truck. Now expand your horizon to miles and miles of this. Then throw in old cars for sale, a car show and the Wienermobile and you have Hershey!

Yes, we saw the Wienermobile up close and personal.

On the way there, I had the song “Graceland” in my head. I changed it, and the rest of the trip it was “I’m going to Hershey, Hershey, doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. There is an amusement park there that closed for the weekend just for the swap meet. Apparently they used to have it in a field. My dad called swap meets “swamp meets” and from what I hear, Hershey used to fit that description. It was challenging in the mud. There might still be a couple guys stuck there refusing to admit that the mud won. I fought the mud and the…mud won…

Meanwhile, now they hold it on the cement of the amusement park. It was very appropriate, as I felt like I used to when we went to Cedar Point. When we went to Cedar Point, we would wear good walking shoes, shorts and a cool shirt, and carry nothing but Tylenol and Chapstick (and of course money for Mama Berardi’s fries). Everybody at Hershey had either a wagon, backpack, or some type of carrier. We had our daughter’s old drum carrier. We were ready!

We got there early, which probably wasn’t ideal as it turns out that most of the vendors slept in. It was the fourth day of the show and I guess they just weren’t as eager as we were. But no worries, we walked around and got the lay of the land. We walked for about 7 hours, stopping only for walking tacos and muffins. We did not cover it all. The amount of cars and car parts was mind boggling. There was everything from Model T to an AMC. The cars for sale were not cheap; some were over $200,000. The rusty old parts on the other hand, were reasonable. You could get a whole box of unknowable rusty items for $1.

A little out of our price range…
This is more like it!

My favorite item that I would have left with was a bumper car. I have a thing for amusement parks, and this was actually used in one. It was AWESOME! But, besides the $3000 price tag, we had no way to get it home. Our Subaru trunk isn’t big enough. I’m thinking of taking the couches and desk out of the basement and making it a rec room with old amusement park items. I’ve found a carousel tiger and the bumper car. Now if I could find a used antique car (little one) or a water ride it would be perfect. Sadly, I didn’t take a picture of it, and then couldn’t find it.

We made a friend…

Where was Chester during this mega meet? Well, a lot of people did bring dogs, but we thought he would have more fun at Doggie Day Camp. It was such a lot of walking. Those with dogs had little ones and had a stroller or a wagon with a bed in it or carried them. Chester would have had to walk all that time. But he had a good time too. He was totally exhausted just like us. He was sleeping on the bed while I changed the sheets and wouldn’t move. I gave up and came back later. Next time we may take a wagon with sides and he can ride in it. The biggest challenge would be to keep him from peeing on all the stuff.

My husband mentioned that before the internet this was the only way to find parts. It’s certainly not efficient. But a guy in the hotel was telling us that he comes more to socialize. My brother went to Hershey with my dad. There were father/son combinations of all ages. I think in the past it was “purer” and stuck to car parts and related items. Now some of the tables look like someone cleaned out their attic and threw it all in. Jewelry, old hats and toys were all available. It was still largely car stuff though. I had no idea what most of it was. I almost bought an Elvis doll.

Experiences hold people together. I doubt if the vendors made that much money to be honest. We were there on the last day and they had a lot left. But it’s face to face contact with people and everybody who’s anybody is there. Everyone is searching for the Holy Grail of auto parts. For some, it is sharing a day with someone, like my husband and I did. For some of the older men, it’s a group of friends. Once a year they hang out at Hershey. I liked Hershey. They gave us Hershey kisses when we entered. I’m glad we went. Next time we’ll have to rent a truck to bring home the bumper car.

The port-a-potty was not for sale. I guess it was for the convenience of the visitors.

It warrants mention that we ate dinner at Harrisburg, at a place called Cork and Fork. It was downtown with a view of the state capitol building. It was probably one of the top three restaurants I have ever been to. It was a perfect ending to a long day. I do have to admit that on the way back to the hotel we stopped at Sheetz and got junk food. I’m still recovering.

Have a good week!

The great stink and Facebook…

I thought I had it all. The last time Chester rolled in that which shall not be named I walked around and found the offending splat. I pulled out grass and picked it up until nothing remained. Then yesterday he did it again. He was lying on the couch and a familiar scent wafted toward me. After groaning and ensuring that the spinach and almond butter smoothie was chased by a jolt of black coffee, I dragged him outside. I placed the accessories to the bath on the deck and pulled him toward the hose. He would not comply but braced his front legs and stared at me. Defiance thy name is Chester. He then slipped his collar and ran onto the deck. After several attempts, I figured if you can’t beat them join them, and pulled the hose onto the deck. I got him to drink out of the hose and poured cat shampoo on him. The label says “I smell purrty”. That was not incentive enough for Chester and he pulled away again. I repeated the process until the purrty shampoo was finally on the unpurrty dog. A few more rubs and he was clean.  I had to take his collar off and wash it too since it had easily identifiable brown spots. He ran around naked as a jaybird. He was not happy with me.

Nope not having it.

I tried to find the culprit in the yard but there was nothing there. I walked around so much I thought I was walking a labyrinth. I could have used a meditative walk, but I was on an ultimately failed mission.

This is either a backyard labyrinth or the groundhogs are at it again.

Sometimes a dawg has to be a dawg. I can’t eliminate every element of scat from the yard forever. Sometimes you just have to clean up the mess on the dog. Just an aside, a cat would never roll in poo. A cat would get between the screen and the window and try to catch and eat a fly, but no, would not roll in poo.

Yes, that’s a Ninja Turtle sticker on the window. Milo doesn’t care. He spent a half hour trying to catch the fly.

Thinking about the poo in the back yard reminded me of Facebook. I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook and social media in general. For those who don’t use it, Facebook was out of commission for many hours having users believe they were mistakenly entering another galaxy like in Men in Black when the coroner stares at the galaxy in Orion’s collar. At the same time, there is whistleblower testimony going on that Facebook knew of dangers/incorrect information on the site and didn’t do anything. Since I usually weigh in, here is my pretend testimony…warning, feisty alert!

Get real people. Facebook is a business. Businesses sell lots of things that are harmful to children’s self esteem and health in general, as well as adult health and welfare. Facebook doesn’t care about me and I am OK with that. I struggle with my feelings about using Facebook. I use it and enjoy it; I like the pictures and updates, and it’s a good way to connect with friends (and remember birthdays!)

But I don’t like that I like it.

I know it’s not good information and it does make me feel a little used when I see ads for just what I was looking up minutes earlier. But it is what it is and no more.  For me, social media in general is addicting and not a boost to my mental health. I met one of my Facebook “friends” in person and she didn’t even know me. I had to tell her we were friends. Sad, isn’t it?! But I’m still on it and I hate myself for not being able to just go off it. I’m such a hypocrite…I criticize but post my blog on it!

Here’s the thing; it’s easier for me to blame Facebook than to blame myself.

That’s what I think is happening here. People are trying to blame Facebook because it’s a lot easier than facing up to something they don’t like about themselves. I wish Facebook could fix the issues that we all face, especially children.  I don’t think we can count on businesses to protect us from ourselves though. That’s just not what they do. I guess all we can do is muddle through and try to keep perspective.  

I am going to waste away to nothing without some Milk Bones…

Anyway, Chester survived his ordeal. He dried out by sleeping on the couch in his sunbeam. He is accepting all the “I’m sorry” treats I am giving him. I’m going to have to pick up some dog shampoo though. He told me in no uncertain terms that he does not want to use cat shampoo. We usually take him to the pet store for a bath but no way is he going in my car and stinking it up. Poor Chester. Well, time for lunch. I’m thinking smoothie…

Have a good week!

Chasing memories and the chipmunk…

Good morning everyone!

Good morning and Happy Wednesday! Chester has been busy, as seen below. In retirement, I too have been busy. What pray tell have I been doing? Trying to find a Styrofoam Santa face.

A little backtracking…Christmas is on my mind because apparently all of the gifts I plan to give are in ships sitting in the ocean. Ahh future Christmas memories…waiting for gifts to arrive. Look kids, see that ship over there? That’s where your present is. Use your imagination. When I was your age…

Growing up in the 60s and 70s I was lucky enough to bask in the glow of the shiny aluminum Christmas trees, pink bells, and parties with cocktails. I did not partake of the cocktails but admired the elegance.  I was the chosen coat carrier. I would meet the guests at the door and carry the coats to the bedroom. I think my sister helped too. We also helped decorate. We had large bulb lights and lots of icicles on the tree. My mom was the church choir director, so on Christmas Eve in between the 7:00pm service and the 11pm one she would invite the choir over for a buffet. Not sure if it included cocktails…but if some of the tenors were out of tune it may well have been the Christmas spirit! The house was sparkling inside and out. One of my favorite decorations was a Styrofoam Santa face that we hung on our door. It looked something like this only without the gold beard.

What is with the gold beard anyway? Ours was much happier looking, and the beard was light blue. Actually it didn’t look much like this one at all, but you get the idea. When we had an auction company in after my dad died, the Santa face was hanging in the garage. I almost grabbed it but didn’t. You know how when you sell or give away clothes or other stuff there is always one thing you wish you hadn’t included? That happens to me every time. So in this case, although there were so many nicer things in the house, I wish I had grabbed the Bluebeard Santa.

I have been looking through eBay regularly but have not found the holy grail yet. I may not.  But I have this little part of my brain that as soon as I am interested or remember something I HAVE to know EVERYTHING about it. Then I’m done. For example, I am reading a book about the Miss America Pageant, and I found out Kate Shindle was a Miss America. Kate Shindle was in “Wonderland” on Broadway and sang a song that I used in an audition. So now I am finding out everything I can about Kate Shindle. She was born in Toledo, just like me.  I will probably forget it by next year, but I have to know now.  It’s like that with Styrofoam Santa. I HAVE to find one. Anyway, I digress.

Image result for kate shindle wonderland
Kate as the Mad Hatter in Wonderland. I guess the musical didn’t go very far but I love the costume.

While I am scrolling through the 30-40 vintage Styrofoam Santas on eBay, Chester is waging war with the chipmunk. This is one cheeky chipmunk let me tell you! It comes up on the deck, climbs on my zero gravity chair, and stares at Chester through the door. Chester stares back.

Chester’s at the ready position

The chipmunk knows I keep peanuts in an orange bucket. One day I must not have pushed down on the lid and something was able to get into it and get out again. Since then I have been more careful. If I don’t secure it we may see raccoons, deer, possums and squirrels gathered around the plastic bucket sharing ghost stories and anecdotes over a midnight snack of peanuts.

This chipmunk is driving Chester crazy. After Chester wins the staredown, he demands to go outside and runs over to the air conditioner where apparently the chipmunk resides. He has been digging under the concrete slab. We will have to fill it in at least partially before it falls through and crushes the chipmunk.

Courtesy of my husband: “Guess what?”

This battle wages several times a day. I don’t know what Chester would do if he caught the chipmunk, but I don’t want to know. One of our cats (Frank the Bad Cat) brought a chipmunk in the house alive one time. The chipmunk was running around. We put Frank in another room and caught the munk in a paper bag. We let it out and it was fine except missing a tail. Months later I found the tail in the basement. Frank was hoarding his treasure. So to give the rodents a head start I always knock on the door before letting Chester out. The ritual continues.

Although Chester and I are obsessing over our respective prey, I did take some time to go apple picking. The apples are going quickly this year and many fell on the ground, probably high winds and rain. But we got our share. John made a pie and I am going out to buy corn stalks for the front porch. They mess up the car but they look awesome.

The boys searching for apples

Per request here are a few more pictures from the 9/11 wedding of our daughter—thanks to my co-grammy for the photos. Hopefully the video of me dancing won’t surface anywhere…think of “little kicks” in Seinfeld only faster and more hip action. Let’s just say Groove is in the Heart and ought to stay there. Have a good week!

Serendipity House and lake
Izzy and Tim, the happy couple!
Izzy and our son
My sister and brother
Our brother, nephew and his girlfriend
Our son and family
Izzy and John of course
Groove is in the Heart….