Bolero, Layla and losing a pet

Yesterday morning I woke with “Bolero” in my head. It was annoying. For those who don’t know, “Bolero”, by Ravel, is a one-movement orchestral piece. Some of you oldsters may remember it from the 1970s movie, “10.” (I hope not but hey…) It’s not a good cello piece. Those of us who play instruments rate songs by our parts. I may say, “Oh, that’s a great one, I love it” while a clarinetist says, “That piece stinks.” In any case, Bolero is not a good cello piece, but I wanted to hear it anyway. I asked Alexa to play it and she said she was having trouble accessing our library. I asked again and got the same results. The third time was the charm (my persistence wore Alexa down I guess) and she played it.

Chester’s opinion of Bolero

Bolero is about 17 minutes long. Apparently the composer was a stickler for tempo, calling out conductors if they sped up. It is literally the same melody repeated over and over. Different instruments enter each time, and it’s been called one long crescendo. It reminds me a little of the Eric Clapton song, “Layla.” At the end of “Layla” the piano part goes on and on until the guitar is tired of protesting and gives in. The piano wears you down.

When I feel sad or anxious or just down, the repetition in both songs helps me to cope. The melody insists that you listen until you are really listening. My mind may flutter back to worry or sadness, but the piano/clarinet says, “no, you aren’t listening yet” and plays it again. By the end, I feel better. I guess it’s like meditation in a way. A few minutes to focus on only the music.

This won’t be exactly a funny post, although Chester is up to his usual antics! Several of my friends have lost furry family members recently. I read a quote that said “Pets don’t live as long as they deserve.” Obviously not as long as we would like. I have lost pets and it hurts more than losing some people (let’s be real here, it does!). Pets are angels on earth.

Before Chester, I had a beagle named Abbey.

Abbey was my sidekick. We walked, cuddled, and played. She had three feet (not sure of the reason) and routinely when we walked someone would stop and tell me, “Your dog’s limping.” I thanked them politely. Truth is, if she didn’t want to walk she would just stop and sit down. I would carry her home. Everyone knew Abbey. If she got out or wiggled under the fence (in the mud usually) the kids in the neighborhood knew where she lived and would drag her back. One girl asked us over and over, “what happened to her foot?” We started off telling her we didn’t know but finally our skateboarding son told her it blew away. That ended that.

Even Frank the Bad Cat loved Abbey.

When Abbey died, I was heartbroken. For whatever reason, I couldn’t get past it. I would cry myself to sleep every night. Finally some deceased ancestor got sick of it and gave me a dream.

I should say here that I have certain dreams that are prescient. Normal dreams I can laugh off, like the ones where I am wandering the halls of the high school and can’t remember my schedule. Or I go into the class and have a test, never having been to class before. Or I have to go to the bathroom and can’t find a toilet. This one is more common as I get older until I finally wake up and go.

No, the prescient dreams are different. They are exceptionally clear and detailed. They started when I was about 10 years old but aren’t frequent. This dream was one of those.

I was walking into a house, led by an unseen figure. It was a white farmhouse with red trim. A door opened to a screened in porch. Through the screen I saw an open field. Abbey and some dogs were chasing each other around at full speed. I opened the screen door and felt something I don’t know the words to describe. I guess it was complete joy and every good emotion you could imagine but more than that.  I called her but I realized she couldn’t hear me. I closed the door, wanting her to stay where she was, knowing she was that happy. I didn’t want her to see me and I sort of snuck out the way I came.  When I woke up I remembered every detail. It has been over 10 years and I am sitting here with tears rolling down my face because stupid me cries when I’m sad AND happy. Sheesh, maybe I should take a new profile picture of me blowing my nose.

I can relate..

I believe this dream to be true. You may not and that’s fine. But if you believe me, and you are one of my friends who lost a pet, know that they aren’t missing you. They are so, so happy. You will miss them of course, but they are better than OK. They are frolicking with the other angels.

That and eating garbage I think…

Sometimes missing them gets to be too much. That’s when to pull out “Bolero” or “Layla.” Better yet, learn to play the “Layla” part on the piano. Then you can play it for as long as you want.  Your family will thank you for it. The sadness won’t go away for good but it may give you a moment of peace.

I was debating all week whether to write something more serious than usual. I felt I had to. But I can’t stay serious for long with Chester around. Good news on the Chester/cat front…Chester can come into Milo’s room and will leave Milo alone IF Milo is on the cat tree and doesn’t move. Hey, baby steps.

Milo staring down Chester
Chester’s reaction…

We went to Holden Arboretum last weekend, and it was a dog party!  We saw big, little, medium dogs, and lots of people who wanted to pet Chester.

this tongue was made for kisses, and that’s just what I’ll do…

We told one couple that he didn’t like he water. He then trotted over to the stream and jumped in. Just like kids at the doctor’s, they make liars out of us!

That’s actually ice…what was he thinking??

Another couple smiled at us taking pictures of Chester. They had a baby, so I think they get it.

I want to see the squirrel who can eat these!!

Hoping the weather will get warm again next week after snowmaggedon predicted this afternoon. Take it with a grain of salt because I did NOT have a dream about snow. Not my fault!! Have a good week and take care of yourselves!

The Aerostar van and a shopping cart

America, especially in suburban areas, is automobile country. We have a pretty big auto show here in Cleveland. The show has been in Cleveland for a couple weeks and runs through this weekend. Whether a person needs, wants or has no plans to purchase a car, everyone goes if only just to look.  

Not at the auto show

My husband and I look for different things in a car. He actually reads about the cars and considers how they drive. I see one on the road and say, “that’s a cute one, I want that.” I grudgingly admit that this has backfired a couple times. A few years ago, I thought that I wanted a Jeep Wrangler. They are cute and I could visualize myself tooling around in my khaki shorts, hat and sunglasses like Crocodile Dundee. I had been thinking about one for awhile when, lo and behold, the car lot down the street brought out a new addition.

A Jeep Wrangler, and it was LAVENDER! It was as if the heavens opened up and rained down glitter just for me. In other words,  I really wanted that car. Then I test drove it. This car rode so rough that potholes felt like the Grand Canyon. I could hardly hold onto the wheel I was bouncing around so much. My teeth and bones were never the same. Talk about a buzzkill!

It looked something like this except not as shiny and a lighter purple.

Not to disparage Wranglers, but this car was too much for me. I was still hooked on the dream of a baha through the forests and prairies (so abundant in Cleveland) so we went to the auto show. I found the Jeep section and pushed my way through the crowd to the holy grail dragging my husband behind me. There it was! A brand new Wrangler! It was beautiful! Forget the test drive, who cares? I would look so good in this shiny cutie! As it happened, I couldn’t even get up in it.  I was too short. Instead I bought a Subaru.

Anyway, my favorite car ever was a Chevrolet LeBaron convertible. I was a graduate student in the fall and would drive to Kent State University, through color changing trees and beautiful lakes.  At night I would look up at the sky. Don‘t worry, I looked at the road too, every so often. I had a vision of myself as Isadora Duncan, except without a scarf.  Here is one of the only pictures I have of this lost love. Ignore the sales person, she had to take the picture.

Love at first drive!

That car just molded itself around me. I loved it, but when we had a third child, the car seat wouldn’t fit. So practicality forced me onward. We bought an Aerostar van.

To say that the Aerostar was practical is an understatement. I could transport multiple baseball players, remove the middle seat for large items, and it took us to Utah and back with no issues. The Aerostar wasn’t exactly quiet, especially after the out west trip.

The happy kids on the beginning of the out west trip, inside the Aerostar. The seating arrangement was changed several times by the end.

I was tutoring at a high school and one of my students said they could hear the Aerostar coming. I noticed that when I pulled into the teacher’s parking lot the students would part like the Red Sea. I thought it was out of respect but my student told me it was pure fear. It was the only time the students were afraid of me, so I accepted it as a compliment.

I was driving the Aerostar one evening with kids in the car. For some reason the middle seat was out—we must have bought something large recently and hadn’t put it back. A large grocery store down the street had closed a year prior. Nothing had moved in yet.  We were driving around the back of the store when one of the kids spotted a shopping cart pushed up behind some junk. You know the phrase, “it seemed like a good idea at the time?”  I stopped the van and the boys ran out and grabbed the cart. They put it in the Aerostar and we bugged out. The cart was a little rusty but became very useful sitting in our garage (I’m being sarcastic folks, it took up space and we threw things in it) The boys had fun with the cart. One day I looked outside and one child was pulling the cart down the street with a rope tied to his bicycle. The other child was standing inside the cart holding the other end of the rope and sailing down the street. Keep in mind there are no brakes on a shopping cart. To a mother’s eyes, this cart had become the definition of a rolling contraption of death. I ran outside and yelled at them to stop. That was when I began considering that absconding with the cart may not have been a great idea. The cart sat in the garage full of baseball bats, mitts, basketballs, and other assorted Nerf toys for several more years. I wish I had a picture of it, but I don’t.  I’m not sure where it ended up. I like to think of it serving a good purpose somewhere.

The Aerostar, as fine of a van as ever except for a few mechanical quirks, was sold/given to the second son and his band. They spray painted the “Another Day Gone” logo on the side. It was perfect to load the amps, drums, and band members as long as you didn’t go too fast up hills.

The Aerostar lasted years until he finally sold it with no guarantee it would drive the new owners home. Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

We are not looking for a car currently, thank goodness. I do like the Subaru (all wheel drive!!). We tend to drive the cars until they are just done. We put a lot of mileage on our cars (everyone in Cleveland does) and with Chester, it’s hard to keep them nice. I swear dog hair is the stickiest stuff in the world. It just embeds itself into the fabric! But if I was going to buy another car….a Jeep might be nice. I can see me and Chester going on a trek to a metropark, sunglasses on, khaki shorts and all. He’s a Jeep kind of hound.

Let’s go explore, mom!

Speaking of Chester, his hot spot is pretty much healed. He had a zoomie fit last night, moving his bed then jumping on it. It caused the bed to go skidding across the floor. I think he wanted to snowboard! He is sleeping it off today. We have been walking a lot lately since the snow melted. Yesterday the Great Danes were out and barked at him. He likes that when other dogs bark at him. He struts by proudly and makes it a point to stop and pee in their yard. Why? Because he can.

Too cool for school.

Have a good week!

The ramp in the driveway

One of the top stories of the winter Olympics was the retirement of Shaun White, the “Flying Tomato.” Shaun White is a world class skateboarder and snowboarder, having won pretty much any medal there is over the last couple decades.  He ended up fourth in this, his last snowboarding Olympics.  I cannot snowboard, and never could. It’s not for lack of trying…actually it is. I never tried. I admit it. I tried skiing with less than stellar results. After that debacle I figured that me snowboarding would produce less than less than stellar results.

In the 90s, snowboarding was not a sport in the Olympics. It became a demonstration sport, then official. Like many other kids, our son wanted to try snowboarding. My husband and two sons went to the local ski hill and rented snowboards. According to my husband, he and the snowboard-interested son had less than stellar results. Of course the oldest child (come on, there’s always one) who didn’t particularly care about snowboarding, hopped on and zoomed away. This was the last time my husband went…and the snowboarding son decided to concentrate on skateboarding.

When I was young, there were skateboards around. It was a “boy thing” like so many physical activities back then. I did have metal roller skates that clipped onto my shoes. I used to skate around on the driveway and street. I had the “arms out and bent” strategy to deal with the bumps and potholes in the street.

I kind of enjoyed roller skating which was why at the age of 30+ I thought it would be a great idea to take my kids skating at Laura’s Roller Emporium. Laura’s was a roller rink in a squatty little building, with colored lights and loud music and designated skates like “couple skate.”

This is the actual inside of Laura’s which is now under a new owner.

The elementary school would raise money by hosting skating parties for their school. The boys went to a few, so I thought I’d take our much younger daughter with us.  If you have ever tried to skate with a child hanging on to you with their legs flailing like Fred Flinstone trying to start a car, and were able to remain upright, you are a better person than I. I realized this pretty quickly and left the boys to their own devices. The much younger daughter skated around on the carpet. I sat down and watched them while eating M&Ms from the vending machine. I don’t remember any serious injuries. They played a game called the “magic circle” which involved skating to one of five or six circles and sitting down. Right, sitting down on the floor and getting up again on skates? I could barely do the “turn yourself around” part of the hokey pokey. The grand prize for being in the randomly selected circle was a gift pass to come back to Laura’s again. I spent many Hale Road Elementary Skating Parties sitting, eating junk food, and mentally grooving to “Turn the Beat Around” and other gems. But I digress….

I don’t know where it started, but the skateboard inspired son had the brilliant idea of building a skateboard ramp in the driveway. My husband, a “never say die” kind of man, agreed that this would be a great idea. He helped the son build a ramp that took up a large part of the driveway. The oldest son probably helped too, as that is what we oldest kids do.  I was not paying much attention to the project but seemingly overnight we had a skateboard ramp and metal rail in front of our house and garage.

I guess one is the loneliest number, so another one was created…

The son had friends. The friends came over and skated. Frequently. They were good kids, or at least I thought they were. Do parents really know? They took pictures of each other conquering the ramp and rail. We had absolute saints as neighbors. At one point our neighbor came over and very apologetically asked if they could stop skateboarding at 9:30 or 10pm. She was a bus driver and had to get up early. I cringed, realizing that what had become “white noise” to me was quite possibly an inconvenience to others. They did tone it down, and except for one time when they had a backyard rock concert it was quieter at night.

Anyway, seeing Shaun White retire gave me pause. Our son does not snowboard or skateboard anymore (to my knowledge!). I miss the days when something was always happening at our house. The skateboard ramp is long gone and we are quiet neighbors now, boring some might say.

Shaun White expressed admiration for the younger snowboarders and said that what was great back then was nothing compared to what they are doing now. During the last snow, the two grandsons were taking turns snowboarding down a very small hill, and then the slide (I know, thank goodness mommy didn’t see).

Pretty good form for a preschooler!

I wonder if one of them will be the next big thing? It makes me want to belt out “The Circle of Life.” I’m sure their parents would just LOVE a ramp in the driveway! I’ll have to broach the idea…

This is what Chester has been doing.

What?

He has been lazy with a capital L. He goes out, stands on the deck, then comes in again unless he sees a squirrel. The youngest grandson bought him a “bunny” at Petsmart and chewing it up was the most energy he has expended in a few days. I think he has a case of the winter blues.

Keeping new bunny from getting away while he sleeps.

It could be worse though, several years ago we visited our kids in NYC in February. We decided it would be FUN to go to Coney Island. The wind was whipping up and it was NOTFUN. It was kind of cool though (literally) and we did eat hotdogs. I think you can feel it in this picture.

It’s almost March and spring is coming so hang in there and have a good week!

Curling and Mr. Rogers

When I woke this morning I had every intention of writing about the Olympics or the Super Bowl or the Puppy Bowl, all of which are worthy topics. Unfortunately there was water on the floor of the basement which was traced back to the hot water heater. I tried to dry it up but it was soon apparent that we need a new one. They say it’s not what  you know but who you know, and I am lucky to know the owner of Kish Heating and Cooling. They are going to fix us up today (ON A FRIDAY, is that awesome or what???) and are working out details.  I am waiting, as I can’t really do too much housework (what a shame!).

Whenever I have to wait, I think of Mr. Rogers. My kids were huge Mr. Rogers fans, as was I. Back in the 80s, there was not the children’s programming that exploded in the 90s. There were three basic network channels and PBS. Happily, PBS carried Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. My boys were a little afraid of Sesame Street and it irritated me when the “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,NIIIIIINE, 10″ song came on. It was paired with a psychedelic video of a pinball machine that made my oldest run from the room. But Mr. Rogers was a must-see. He was gentle, like the boys, and a great role model. What I didn’t realize was that he was a musician and played the piano for most of the music. One song that stuck with me was “Let’s Think of Something to Do” while we’re waiting. The lyrics are “let’s think of something to do while we’re waiting, while we’re waiting for something new to do” I went back and listened to it on you tube.

I had forgotten the last words of the verse. While we’re waiting…for what? I would just stop singing until I annoyed myself and I had to know what we were waiting for –it was something new to do. But I digress… All that jazz album documenting paid off! If you listen to the link, you’ll hear a jazz pianist, aka Mr. Rogers!  I couldn’t believe it. Mr. Rogers received his Bachelor of Music and played piano since the age of five according to the Wiki page. He put out some recordings of his music. I think I will attempt to add one more record to the collection which is now numbering over 1200. I’ll make it 1201. I think the “something to do” song was the precursor to multitasking. It’s basic time management. So I am writing this post while I’m waiting, while I’m waiting, for something new to do… and as usual it is digressing a little. My other topics didn’t turn out as planned either.

I planned to write about the Puppy Bowl because I love it but to be honest I’m a little fuzzy on the rules. What is the football? One puppy scored with a pink ball, then another scored with an orange and blue fuzzy thing. Hmmm….a little loose I would say. Almost as if the IOC made the rules… The kitties in the box were doing what most people do in a box at a sporting event…which is not paying one whit of attention to the action on the field. Nonetheless the pups were adorable.  My husband took Chester for a walk so he wouldn’t get jealous and he could avoid my “aww look at that one” comments. I hope they are all winners but puppies usually do pretty well getting homes. Our City Dog Cleveland kennel is full…mostly adult doggies. That’s where we got Chester, the best pup in the world (my humble opinion)! It’s pretty overwhelming. (hint hint, if you are in the market for a pooch…any kennel would love to see your shining face!)

The Super Bowl was a good game. The Olympics chug along with curling, skating drama, bobsled and lots of half pipe stuff. I will come back to the half pipe in a future post but it seems that curling is the big winner. Every time I turn on tv it’s curling. Doesn’t there seem to be a lot of curling?

My favorite curling meme

We in Cleveland have ups and downs with weather. I had left an orange Home Depot bucket on the deck. Snow collected, melted, then froze. My husband turned it over and this is what came out:

Chester is looking for an opponent

It’s a perfect curling stone! I was going to arrange a match with the husband and grandkids but alas, the weather gods of Cleveland weather graced us with a 50 degree day. Here’s what happened:

Picture 1, 8:00am
Picture 2, 2:00pm…Chester is yawning
6:00pm and Chester is not eager to go outside in the rain.

Today it’s snowing again. And the curling stone has curled it’s last. So here I sit thinking of Mr. Rogers and humming “let’s think of something to do while we’re waiting.” Chester is happy about the snow, although he was happy in the mud too. His hot spot hasn’t healed but he got to go to the vet again and get more medication. This time they gave him peanut butter. It looks like it’s starting to come around. Snow or no snow, the days are getting longer. Spring will be here before we know it! Have a great week!

Jazz records and a new tattoo

Life is good for Chester.

I was attempting to change the sheets when he decided to take a nap. I got the first two sheets on the bed, then he flopped himself down. I continued with the blanket and comforter, thinking he would move. I was woefully mistaken. He stayed like that until he heard the refrigerator door. Yes, life is good for Chester.

I have restarted a daunting project. My dad collected jazz record albums. When he died, my son asked if we could take the albums. Of course I agreed. I thought the son would eventually take the albums to his house and enjoy them around a fireplace with a cocktail and slippers. What was I thinking??  It seemed like a good idea at the time. You should know however that there are over 900 albums and the son shares a NYC apartment with two other people. If A+B=C, then you can follow the logical conclusion…the albums continue to occupy space in our house. In my clean, clean, clean frenzy, I decided it was time to sell, sell, sell! So it began.

Part of the collection

In 2011, before he moved to NYC, our son and I attempted to document the albums, something my father was never able to accomplish. Plus my dad didn’t really care. We started a spreadsheet and began with the last name of A…We made it through the letter M, then the son moved. So they sat. I decided about a week ago to finish what we started. This entails handling each album, recording the performer, the title, the date, the recording label, and notes like other collaborators. I am halfway through the Ts.

dog
Milo is supervising. It’s hard to work when he is sitting on the records. Can’t be good for the records. It’s OK, he’s a cool cat.

While searching for the date of the albums, I noticed that the old records (most are from the 1950s-80s) have extensive commentary on the back of the album. The front looks something like this one,

And the backs look similar to this:

Not the same album, obviously…

Sometimes my dad would make notes on the album, like “piano player is good” or “??” I began to read some of the information on the back.

When I was playing cello in an orchestra, during a rehearsal our very dear conductor, Ralph Katz, grew frustrated with the violins. We were playing “March” from the Nutcracker Suite. Now in “March,” if you start out at a proper tempo worthy of John Phillips Sousa, your violinists are going to struggle a bit in the middle. Since we were a community orchestra, they struggled mightily. One rehearsal night Mr. Katz (always Mr. Katz, never Ralph to me) placed his baton firmly on the stand and said “It’s just so much noodling! Quit noodling!” (For the record, cellists are physically incapable of noodling.) Reacting in typical cellist fashion, I thought it hilarious and “noodling” became a staple in our household vocabulary.

Jazz to me was noodling. Just sooo much noodling! I did not appreciate it, figuring that if someone took the time to write a perfectly good melody, why should it be changed? My dad however played jazz non-stop except when hockey games were on tv. I was a jazz rebel, preferring instead the complex musical stylings of “The Archies”. My dad, ever the gentleman, understood somehow that it was part of the kids contract to hate your parents’ music, and didn’t push it. He was happy just to listen himself and why not? He controlled the record player. We had our 8-track tapes, the latest and greatest in musical formats.

Yes, this is a vintage 1977 8-track tape. Remember the “clunk” when it switched sides?

Now that I see and touch these albums, I am starting to appreciate his incredible understanding of the intricacies. I’m finding that I (gasp) want to listen to these records. There was a whole part of my dad that I didn’t know. I wish I could go back and discuss them with him. My son and I were going to document these to sell them. Now I want to listen first. I’ll never listen to all of them, but maybe one per artist. We’ll see. The thing is, jazz was a part of who my dad was. I only knew or realized the other parts. How much more didn’t I know about him?

Changing topics, I got another tattoo! It’s an arrow. I got it because it reminds me of how honored and proud I am to have worked in the best unit in the county, the MUI (Major Unusual Incident) department. I learned so much from them and it makes me happy that we were able to make a difference. The people I see now did not know my work self. I was using a different part of me. The tattoo reminds me of who I was and still am. I guess we all have a lot more layers than we can show.

The wrinkles are from the plastic, not from me being old.

Chester, however, has no layers. His whole being is an open book. This is his “you are eating something I want” look. He does not use this look when I eat yogurt. If the force was with him my hand would slowly and uncontrollably move the bacon to his mouth.

You know I’m here, right??

This is his “I just came in and am one second away from doing zoomies around the house” look. See the wild glint in his eye? Only to be tamed by running full speed and leaping on the couch so it slides across the nice hard wood floor. Wheee!

Hi Mom! Got to run!

 Since no proper Cleveland resident can fail to mention the weather in any conversation, we are above freezing. The snow is starting to melt. Chester has decided that it is a good idea to take his bunny outside and play with it.

He snuck it past me. Then he leaves it there and I have to get it. I tell him to get the bunny and he looks at me like this:

You’ve got to be kidding. It’s cold out there.

Have a wonderful week!

Procrastination and a vet visit

I woke up at 6:00am yesterday with two things to accomplish—starting this post and taking Chester to the vet. Keep in mind that the latest drama on the news was (yawn) snow again here in Cleveland. Gosh, it’s early February and there’s snow? I can’t imagine. Needless to say, after the mega buildup by the weather and news media, including dire warnings to stay off the roads and hundreds of school closings, I awoke to maybe a few inches. They are trying to save the story by saying it’s going to last all day. All day? According to Groundhog Phil it’s going to last 6 more weeks. But one of the things I absolutely love is sitting in my pjs, drinking Peet’s coffee, and watching the snow come down, without having to go anywhere. I get a kind of pleasure out of watching the reporters standing out in the snow to report that it is snowing and we should stay in.

Actually the reporters were right and it snowed all day. Chester rolled in it.

Anyway, I got up at 6:00am, and by 8:00 (am, not pm) I took a shower. Mostly because I was afraid the vet would want Chester earlier due to the prediction of bad roads. What is wrong with Chester you ask? He has a hot spot on his arm just above his paw. It’s been there for two weeks, with no change. We thought it was OK, but it was not really healing so the vet thought she should check it out. I wanted to be dressed at least by 4:00, the appointment time. Vet appointments are precious nowadays and they probably frown on coming in pjs.

After the shower, you would think I’d be ready to write. I thought so too, in fact that’s what I told my husband. “Turn off the Today Show, I’m going on the computer!” But I had to check my email first. This led to a deleting frenzy then to a video game. An hour later I realized I was procrastinating.

Procrastination. I start with good intentions but if the dishes need doing, the birds need to be fed, I wait to see our school district closed on tv (even though I no longer have kids in school…old habits die hard), the laundry needs to be sorted, and the kitty litter scooped, I get sidetracked. If I think I want to get something done, my cousin’s words go through my head, “Your future self will thank you for it.” This is a frequent mantra but my future self also procrastinates so she has not thanked me yet. I don’t want her to feel overwhelmed with the thank yous, so I’m taking it easy.  

I know one solution thanks to a class I took. Eat the Frog.  Someone said that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning it’ll be the worst thing you do all day. This has been linked to Mark Twain but was around in various forms earlier and is not believed to have been uttered by him originally. The point of the quote was to do the hard thing first (hard meaning what you don’t want to do). Well gee whiz, I can’t argue with that froggy logic even if it is a disgusting and awful quote. Of course, if you procrastinate long enough you will die and won’t have to do it at all…. Just another option to explore.

See the source image
This frog has the right idea.

A book I read suggested that procrastination could be a fear of closure. People procrastinate because starting is the hardest part. We get comfortable doing what it is, but when we finish, we have to start something else. Or, we don’t want to finish something because then it is over and for some reason we don’t want it to be over. Procrastination can also be a means of control, or a passive aggressive response. Either way, there is a reason we don’t want to do something or finish it. If we discover the reason we can face it. I don’t remember how to face it though. Maybe I should go read that book, let me go look for it…aaarrgh! I’m doing it again! Too late. I found it!

This is an old book, but there’s still good in it.

Writing this blog is not a “frog” to be eaten. Our former beagle, Abbey, would have eaten it. Beagles eat anything. Once she tried to eat something mouse-like but I saw the tail sticking out of her mouth. I rescued the exceptionally lucky critter (it was still alive and quickly ran off). The beagle never forgave me for taking her prize.

I miss you too, sweetheart. You and Chester would have been best buds!

No, a blog is not a frog. I love writing and telling stories. But since I retired I don’t have a boss to assign projects, or a schedule. You would think that is a good thing and usually it is. But I have a hallway needing paint, more pictures to sort (I swear they multiply), and closets to clean that would tell you otherwise. The problem with retirement is that there is a fine line between well-earned relaxation and laziness. The first months I have erred on the side of laziness. I feel lazy. I see the projects I wanted to complete sitting undone, and I feel worse. I think it’s a form of procrastination. So instead of procrastinating I will write about it. Hmm, something is amiss…I’ll have to think about that tomorrow.

I said Chester likes the snow…here is proof. He goes out and before doing anything he buries his face in the snow. Why, Chester, why? I guess dogs can’t drink coffee to wake up!

As for his vet appointment, it was a dog party for Chester! My husband and I sat in the room while the vet took Chester “in the back to see the girls.” We heard laughing and when he finally came back to us he was carrying a squeaky pig (aka bunny) and reportedly had several treats. He is fine. He has to take antibiotics and an antihistamine for the itching. We have to take him back (for more treats) in two weeks. He is most agreeable! Stay warm and have a wonderful weekend!

Groundhog Day…

Happy Groundhog Day! This is a reblog in honor of the great Phil! Apparently we have 6 more weeks of winter which is no surprise, I could have predicted that. It’s also in honor of my wonderful sister who has my admiration and love! This will always go down as the best Groundhog Day ever!

Walking Chester

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…

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Snow adventures and a bad movie

Chester and I have continued to walk even after the snowpacalypse of the last week. It has been cold and snowy here. Chester likes the snow except for one thing: he can’t find a place to poop. Before the snow he pooped on the grass. Now, this is all he sees.

Not all grass is created equal either. There are some spots that are waiting for him, but he doesn’t go there. After walking farther than usual, he leaves a deposit on the mushy part of the snow. Not ideal but easy to pick up.

I thought maybe he was getting bored with the same old route and decided to take him to the other side of the tracks, that is across Bacon Road. I made a critical error in thinking. We crossed Bacon to be met with a two-foot snow wall. Obviously the snowplows had been by.

OK, it wasn’t quite this bad…

Cars were coming so I pulled Chester over the wall. Unfortunately, the snow on the other side of the wall was deeper. It had not been touched and was up to my knees and Chester’s chest. He tried to turn around toward the road, but we had to walk at least to the next street because I couldn’t brave the Bacon wall again with the traffic. I wasn’t sure we would emerge intact. So we slogged on to the next road. It was rough going. It was like walking through a ball crawl if the balls weighed several pounds each. I either had to lift my leg above the snow, or scoot through with a wiggle-wiggle squish-squish movement.  Poor Chester would take about three leaps in a beautiful deer imitation, then peer longingly over the snow at Bacon Road. I almost called my husband to pick us up but I never would have lived it down. We plodded on. Finally, we reached the little road that opened to Bacon.

We crossed Bacon, but there are no sidewalks on Bacon Road. Luckily there are driveways. It was wall, driveway, wall, driveway. We stood in the driveway of a house, then in between traffic, we hustled to the next driveway. We would wait there for a break in cars, then do it again. I’m glad I played so much Frogger. Finally we made it back to the development and walked down the middle of the street with pleasure.

I can’t complain since Lake and Cuyahoga Counties do a pretty good job of snow removal. I grew up in Toledo where they just toss some salt on it and call it a day. We are technically in the “snow belt” and lake effect snow is a real thing, so our crews are ready. You may have missed this news gem: Ohio Turnpike decided to name their snowplows. The Turnpike commission asked the public for ideas in a naming contest. The winners were announced. They include Darth Blader, Snow Force One, OH snow you didn’t, Snowbe Wan Kenobi, and Plowy McPlowface. I’m telling you, in Ohio we love our plows! Now kiddies can say “Oh look mommy, there’s Plowy McPlowface!” and “way to go Sir Plows-a-lot!” (Yes, that was another winner.)

Snow More Mr. Ice Guy, named by Sebastian Calo of Cleveland Heights, is at the Boston Maintenance Building 6 in Richfield.
One of Ohio’s finest, Snow More Mr. Ice Guy

With all the snow, there are limited opportunities for entertainment. Our kids went sledding with the grandkids but 1) it’s cold and 2) we’re old. That sounds like our mantra: it’s cold and we’re old. We could ski, but..(repeat mantra.) We could go to a bar or something but we’d have to go outside and..(repeat mantra). So, we watched movies.

There are bad movies, there are baaaad movies, and there are movies so awful that they would have to work to rise to six feet below bad. Such was “Snow White and the Three Stooges.” This movie was not one like “Plan 9 From Outer Space” which many believe is the worst movie ever. Not even close. This made Plan 9 look like an Oscar winner. This was also not bad in the vein of the Three Stooges being bad anyway. Like, what do you expect, it sounds bad from the get go. That doesn’t do this one justice.

A side note, I have yet to find a female who enjoys the Three Stooges. Guys laugh at it like it’s uproariously funny. I don’t get it. Even our daughter, who my husband tried to indoctrinate, thought it was ridiculous and turned away. And she was only four years old.

No, this 1961 movie was literally the worst I have ever seen. It was like a train wreck. We couldn’t look away because we wanted to see the next horror they could pull out. And pull out they did.

The one with the remote won’t change the channel.

The Three Stooges were hardly in the movie. Although this should make me like it more, by the end I was praying that the Stooges would reappear.  Please, please, I’ll never ask again, bring on the Stooges! The movie starred an ice skater, Carol Heiss, who was coming off an Olympic gold medal performance. They tossed in a couple songs thinking a musical number or two would show the sincerity of the plot. If only there was a plot. Neither Ms. Heiss nor Prince Charming could sing. They were dubbed by a singer from the Lawrence Welk Show and some other poor soul.  It was like a lip sync festival.  

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A world of beauty and rollicking fun for everyone! Why is this in black and white? And yes, there was a witch on a broomstick in the movie.

Not being a singer, Ms. Heiss was cast to try to meld her ice-skating fame with that of the Stooges in their final years of dubious popularity. Sure, ice skating/stooges/musical. Skoogical! Sounds like a winner! To capitalize on her skating, they put a dream sequence in the middle of the movie. It was in oranges and yellows with an exceptionally long (or maybe it just felt like that) skating number involving some children sliding around. When the dream was over, it was back to the Stooges plonking each other on the head with assorted cabin items. While Snow White was busy happily cleaning the house (ugh) the Queen’s accomplice turned the Queen into a witch at the Queen’s request with his magic sword that went woo-woo-woo and radiated green and white light. Snow White must have eaten the apple because the next thing we knew the Stooges were mourning over her dead but remarkably lifelike body. Luckily Curly Joe (Stooge fans are groaning) got hold of the sword and saved the day (whew! I was worried!)

Needless to say we watched it to the end. I’m not proud of that. But honestly, I laughed harder than I do at bad karaoke. Granted, some of it was bad karaoke. I highly recommend it to those of you (and you know who you are) who have a warped sense of humor and a couple hours. Well worth it!

I have been posting on Wednesdays, which sort of works for me, but I decided to change it up. I’m going to go back to posting on Fridays. I greatly appreciate you and thought you might have more time to read on the weekend. Meanwhile, here’s a picture of Chester after “The Snow Wall of Bacon” walk. Have a good week!

Eyeglasses and a mysterious person

America’s Best sent me a notice that it’s time for my eye exam. I hate eye exams. Family legend has it that I spilled gasoline in my eyes when I was five years old. Disregarding the obvious question about what a five-year-old me was doing pulling gasoline off a shelf, and what I thought I was going to do with it, the subsequent trauma was enough that it is completely buried in my psyche. I have no memory other than a severe distaste for eye exams, bordering on terror. The antagonist in my eye exam story is the little puff of air they shoot at the victim’s eyeball. Eye drops…forget it. Those are an impossibility. I have learned to ask the Optometrist if I can try to put them in myself but even then it’s a 50/50 proposition. Part of my brain says just do it, and the other part is telling one hand to grab the other and stop. The only two things that motivate me to enter this torture chamber are 1) our insurance pays for one per year and 2) I get new glasses.

America’s Best sent me this. Not sure who Hillary is but two tones are intriguing! I want to live on hipstreet too!

I didn’t always wear glasses. When I was a kid I did not, until about 6th grade. My sister got to wear the vogue, stylish cat glasses but they just didn’t look good on me. Instead, I opted for the brown tortoise shell, octagonal, heavy ones that looked SOOO MUCH better. Here is a picture of the happy siblings with our new puppy Socrates and new glasses.

Our parents insisted on using photo Christmas cards…note the styrofoam Santa instead of a wreath. It was the 60s you know!

A side note: I have always preferred fashion to function. I would figure out how to wear something (think 4” heels) to school even if I slid down the hallway like I was an Olympian bobsledder.  

Unfortunately, a friend had gotten similar glasses which truly did not factor into my decision. I never was a fashion follower, preferring to wear what I liked. I had a blue fuzzy sweater that stupid Ricky said made me look like Bigfoot but I didn’t care. And neither did I care that my friend had similar glasses even though she made it clear to the Trilby Elementary sixth grade that “I copied her”. Shoot, about seven other girls had the same glasses. Never mind, in another year I was off to junior high! And I had been introduced to the beauty of changing my appearance instantly!

In Junior High, I quickly took advantage and procured some wire rims for the hippie, John Denver loving me. I still stayed with the oversized frames, maybe trying to hide my face. I guess I was a little introverted.

Take me home….country roads….this was an Orchestra picture, hence the suit.

In high school, I went with slightly thinner wire rims. As you can see, the happy siblings minus one have entered teenage years. We were mad that we had to stand next to each other. You can’t see the glasses that well but they are there if you can get past the scowl.

When I was in college I went for a cool aviator look. This was my one experience with the glasses that darken when you go into the sun. It seemed like a good idea but when I walked into a building I stumbled around a little until they lightened again. It took forever which to me was about a minute. This technology may have improved since then and I escaped relatively unscathed not counting a few bruises from the drinking fountains I walked into. Luckily I was into Dr. Scholl’s footwear and not the heels. The aviators looked good and I didn’t care.

The 80s were all about big hair and big glasses in bright colors. I had two pair, one pink and one blue. I started taking off my glasses for photos, but they looked something like this.

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I also got married, cut my hair like Joan Jett, and had two babies. I’m not sure what happened to that decade but in the 90s I went back to the wire rims, this time black. Since then, I have had multiple fashion flip-flops in glasses…from wire to plastic to color to black. Here is a photo of the last 20 years or so, all my glasses in their various stages of vision and beauty assist.

Yes, I keep them all. I actually still do wear them all. It depends what else I am wearing. The thinner wire rims are more comfortable for outside but aren’t as strong for reading. The newer ones are plastic and hurt my nose but are stronger. I have two computer pair also (not pictured). The heavier, dark blue ones are for when I want to look intelligent. The white ones are the most recent but they hurt my ears. My favorites are the black and white ones but the finish is getting beat up. I never did go for contacts because…well the whole touching my eye thing freaked me out. Plus I need bifocals for reading. None of the glasses are perfect but the next pair will be!

I am excited to go to my appointment. The biggest reason is because they NO LONGER USE THE PUFF OF AIR!!!!!! They have some new machine that takes a picture of your eye. Much better! And I’ll get new glasses😊 Sign me up! What will they look like? I kind of like the two color picture in the America’s Best ad. I may try the darkening ones again! I’ll be sure to post a pic. Whatever they look like will be a nice mid-winter boost. Nobody will recognize me!

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yeah, that’s me. for real. I’m feeling it!

Chester and I went to Lakeshore Reservation for a walk. We were the only ones in the (very cold) park with the wind blowing off the lake. We weren’t there long. Someone pulled in the parking lot with us but didn’t get out of the car. Being a former investigator, I noted the license plate and suspiciously kept checking back mostly to see if they had a dog. It could be Jack the Ripper and I’d still want to talk to them about their dog. The license plate had FLZ so I thought they might have one. (a dog, not flz) We walked around but I was a little hesitant to go deep into the woods with Michael Myers waiting in his car. Plus, if Chester decides he is cold I can’t exactly carry him back.

It was sooo cold!
The woods are lovely, dark and deep…nah, not today.

I feel pretty safe with Chester. He may be kind of a dork but he’s big and can look threatening, at least from a distance if you ignore the tail wag. He wasn’t cooperating with Operation Mean Dog though. He kept sniffing the grass, peeing on the trees, and causing me to stop and wait. This interrupted my confident kick-ass stride designed to let people know I mean business. I learned it while substitute teaching. I used to wear very loud heals and walk forcefully on the tile floor of the hall so the kids would hear me coming and settle. Other than the previously mentioned propensity to bobsled, it worked! If I fell I would have tried to slide into the classroom like I was sliding into second base. That would have been impressive, especially if I poked one of the kids with a heel.

Come on, isn’t this every teacher’s dream?

When we got done sniffing up to the lake and back the person was still in the car. At that point I thought he/she was just a lot smarter than me and Chester. You can look at the lake and not go outside. We were freezing. The sight of Chester pulling me to the car was probably amusing and must have dissuaded Freddy Krueger from his oh-so-likely chainsaw massacre because we never did see hide nor hair of a person.  

I tried to get some nice pics of Chester looking at the lake, but he wasn’t interested in the lake. So, I tried to get a selfie with him. This is what happened. Oh well…who doesn’t love a good dog snoot picture? I think his drool froze into icicles.

Have a good week!!

Chester’s wild and crazy night

While Chester does love snow, he’s not so fond of the cold. My husband and I are perfectly happy to sit in front of the fireplace and binge “Law and Order” but I think Chester is a little bored. His day consists of lying on the couch and watching for squirrels. Lately even the squirrels have been binging “Law and Order” in their nests (they have a mini tv and peanuts), so Chester has been relegated to watching birds. Here is his usual routine, and keep in mind it takes him about 5 minutes to do the whole thing.

First, he notices the bird. It takes some time to decide whether to do anything about it: get up vs go back to sleep. Get up vs sleep. Up vs sleep…About half the time he decides to get up.

Second step is to start to lift that overweight body up. I know the feeling, Chester. He could still turn back. Turn back, Chester!

His third step is the point of no return. He stands with his front half off and his back half on the couch for seriously 2-3 minutes. He stretches his front half then very slowly lowers his back half to the floor, one foot at a time.

He then stands at the door and stares at the bird. Does he go out? Nah. He lies down on the floor in front of the door. The bird flies away and he feels he has done his duty, so he gets back up on the couch and falls asleep again.

Now this is mellow fellow is why we adopted a “senior” dog; he was five years old when we got him. But this is not the energetic pup that the kennel said “never stops moving” and his laziness probably contributes to his weight gain. It’s too cold for long walks although we do make the effort. He walks a little, poops, then turns around and pulls us toward home. Then gets a biscuit and falls asleep.

Yesterday I had to go to the pet store for cat food, drop off stuff at Goodwill, and get an iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts. I took Chester with me. He was a good boy at the pet store (meaning he didn’t pee on the merchandise) until we reached the cash register. Just like the candy at the grocery stores right at kid level, there are bones and rawhides at dog snoot level. He grabbed a rawhide for the road. I didn’t realize it until the cashier said, “Can he have that?” He carried it out to the car. He then got a donut hole at the Dunkin Donuts drive through. “Can your puppy have a treat?” I gave an extra dollar to the tip jar. While this is a nice diversion for Chester, the real treat was yet to come.

My husband had ordered a Bark Box for Chester for Christmas. It contained the infamous Bumble toy I admired in a previous post. What he didn’t realize is that it is one of those monthly subscriptions that you have to cancel. I hate those. He went to war with Bark Box but alas (or yippee, depending who you ask) the box was already en route. It arrived last night.

Chester was happily and peacefully gnawing on his large bone when John opened the box. He pulled out a fuzzy purple thing and squeaked it.  Instantly Chester jumped up and stood laser focused. He pawed at John and sat, gave paw, and lay down (the extent of his tricks) in about 3 seconds. John gave him the fuzzy purple thing (a slipper we figured out) and the Chester party began. He chewed and ran around with it, squeaking it constantly for the next hour. We couldn’t hear “Law and Order” because this thing was so loud. I do mean loud, and if you’ve ever heard a loud squeaky toy nonstop for literally an hour, you understand. He took a break for a few minutes halfway through to get one or two of the treats they sent then bounced back and forth inside and outside a few times. If you can picture someone who is “the life of the party” with a party hat, arms in the air, blowing one of those noise blower things and screaming “Woo hoo”, you can picture Chester.

Don’t even think about taking this bunny!

After a couple hours the purple fuzzy slipper was demolished. He had torn it to bits and found the plastic squeaker. He ran around squeaking the squeaker, then chewed it and spit the remnants on the floor. I love finding pieces of it when I walk barefoot to get coffee…Since the fuzzy slipper was now retired to the pile of has-been bunnies, he turned his attention to destroying the box itself.

The bumble still reigns. He is eating the new bunny.
We are leaving this for further shredding later tonight. He can do better.

Chester didn’t calm down for a good while. My husband commented that the fuzzy slipper was like catnip for cats, and he was probably high. Finally he crashed in the middle of his mess. When he went to bed he left the clean up for me.

The aftermath of hurricane Chester

This morning Chester was back to his place on the couch watching birds. I think despite the party hangover it did him good. He seems more energetic. It’s not so cold today and most of the snow melted. He has been outside chasing squirrels and staring at the trees desperately praying that a squirrel will fall out and land at his feet.

Oh please please please…

We do have one more toy that I hid next to the refrigerator. In Cleveland we’re guaranteed to have another cold spell. For now though it’s good to have him back to his ornery self!

Have a good week!