The Pitcher Purge…

Scene 1: There is a big lamp box full of old photos and programs from at least 10 years in the bedroom closet of the elderly youthful appearing couple. There is a multitude of photos crammed onto the bookshelf with 10-12 photo albums. The dust has settled on the albums.

Scene 2: The couple’s son and daughter in law give the old lovely young lady cute polka dot boxes to sort photos (circa early 2000 maybe). She uses one, but has a few more.

Scene 3: The second son makes an offhand comment that “the only pictures I have are on my phone.”

It’s a perfect storm! Something must be done! Opening now at the Cleveland Playhouse, “The Pitcher Purge.” Will the couple escape from the clutter that surrounds them? Will the woman make it out of the purge with her mind intact? Come and see!

Finale: The woman fills 3 or 4 photo albums per child. She divides the pictures in the box into the boxes, buys photo albums, makes copies of the pictures (yes, she makes copies of photos she is trying to get rid of…hush)  and agonizes over what year that school photo was from. Finally, all that’s left is the debris and yet more pictures to go through for the couple’s photo albums. (The Pitcher Purge part II coming soon!)

When I was young I had a Brownie camera. I held it with a strap around my neck and looked down through the viewfinder. Of course it took film, and I had to rewind it. Remember putting the film in and lining up the notches? Then hoping it didn’t come off before you got a couple good winds in? Over the years I graduated to other more modern cameras culminating in a nice Pentax. We had the Polaroid instant cameras too, remember “shake it like a polaroid picture?” You would literally shake it to have it come to life. I’m not sure it sped it up, but it was fun and everybody did it! It was magic!

Then technology blew up. It started with the “disposable” cameras you’d drop into the Revco photo box and get them back in a week. Brides would put one on each table so the guests could take pictures of each other dancing hilariously and raising shot glasses. When the wedding was over each camera would contain 12 or 24 of the most precious moments from the wedding. (See uncle Al? Yes that was when he puked on the dance floor! Oh and there’s Aunt Betsy with her wardrobe malfunction!)

We had small cameras, which were better for vacations. It was a long time before our cell phones had cameras. Shoot, it was a long time before we had cell phones. For awhile they were just…(gasp) PHONES!! Now they are better than most “real” cameras. But they will be old news soon too I expect.

What did we take photos of?  You’d be surprised.

There were many, many, many fish pictures. I mean fish that we caught. Most were in Arnstein Ontario. There isn’t that much to do in Arnstein except relax, swim in the lake, read books and fish. We had to–just HAD TO take a picture of Every. Single. Fish. Yes, large and small. Of course if you hold the fish closer to the camera it looks bigger. Remember that trick. Don’t let the photographer get your hand or it looks like you have a giant hand. If it wasn’t a fish picture it was a photo of someone hiking in 90 degree heat and looking absolutely miserable. Usually those were what I took of my sister. She hated that.

she wasn’t holding it close, this really was a big fish
unlike this one…

I have a whole album dedicated to “out west”. The family van trip “out west” is a verified staple in Ohio families. We did it as kids with my parents, and then as adults with our kids. Different perspective but some things never change. Like the kids irritating each other in the back seat. The difference is we were in the VW van so we could lie down. They had to sit and glare at each other. I took an awful lot of pictures at Prairie Dog Town close to the Badlands, Wall Drug, Mt. Rushmore, and the Corn Palace. We didn’t make it to the Grand Canyon or I would have had to get another album I’m sure. Next time.

We didn’t mean to match, it just happened.

There was The Land of Little Ponies. (not out west but still photographed to satisfaction) There was Washington DC, San Francisco, Alcatraz, San Jose with the Winchester Mystery House, and Kentucky. Then there were the local attractions. The Lake County Fair for example. It has the same attractions, yet I had to take a photo each year. Every time our daughter rode the ponies at the fair there was a picture taken. Those ponies must get sick of the paparazzi.

Then there are grandkids…need I say more??

don’t ask…

I think I took so many because I thought I could hang on to that instant with a photo. If I had it in a picture, it would stay forever. I thought that I needed to record the best times of my life so I didn’t forget. In some ways I was right, the photos do spur memories, but in some ways the project made me sad. I began to feel an overwhelming wish to go back and do it again. I love the idea of reincarnation because one life just isn’t long enough. But…I’d probably come back as a slug or something and that would not be fun. Well, actually I don’t know if slugs have fun, maybe they do. They make little slug slime pictures on the rocks and leaves and have an art show. Don’t scoff, you don’t know. Unless you were a slug in a previous life, you can’t throw slime.

I don’t take as many pictures as I used to but it’s not for lack of trying. Usually I just forget to take them or I don’t have my phone. Like this very minute—there is a Monarch butterfly that landed right next to me and I don’t have my phone. I came outside to type. I’m not a great photographer. I cut off heads and have a few with my thumb as the star. When my time is up, I hope that’s not what people will see (well they won’t see the heads because they are cut off, right??) I hope they see joy. I am so grateful for the joy.

So after thinking about what my daughter’s middle school teacher called “pitchers” (it annoyed the middle schoolers to no end, the teacher probably did it on purpose which is what I do now because annoying people is what I do best..) I decided to include a few I took over the last weeks.

Chester’s nasty bone
Son and daughter at Bryant Park Manhattan
Chester was so hot after his walk he commandeered the air conditioning vent.
for good luck:)

Finality and Scooter Dawg…

If someone said “Scooter Dog” two days ago I would have expected to see a big brown dog scooting his butt on the white carpet.

No longer. I have found nirvana in the form of a restaurant near our house: Scooter’s World Famous Dawg House. After 30+ years in this area we finally tried Scooter’s. Consider my mind officially blown. Basically you get a hot dog, regular or long (go for the long, trust me) with any odd pairing of toppings you could imagine. I had a macaroni and cheese dog. It was delicious! John had a basic bacon dog but there are Hawaiian dogs, and about 30 other combinations. Then, you get about 100 french fries (that’s a small) with available malt vinegar packets. Be still my heart! Of course the stomach may not be still but that’s a gamble I’m willing to take.

What surprised me is that I had no idea it was there. I guess on Fridays and Saturdays the line stretches out the door. It’s like Weber’s in Ontario. The inside has antique auto memorabilia and they also serve ice cream. How did I miss something so important? It advertises to be the “home of the happy hot dawg.” I don’t know how happy the hot dawg was but we were delighted! How did I not know? Think of all the happy hot dawgs I’ve missed out on.

I guess sometimes good things can fly under the radar.

My mind was blown again this week by a realization I had while I was walking Chester. I had been listening to  Sirius XM which I get for the fantasy football channel, but nothing’s cooking in fantasy right now so I listened to the 60s on 6 station. I had this realization that no matter how hard a band tries, it is literally impossible to write another 60s song.

Let that sink in for a minute. A composer could write a song inspired by the 60s. A singer could sing a song from the 60s. But there are NO MORE 60s songs There never will be.

I’m not used to finality. I’m not used to something hard and fast and irrevocable. I’m very good with ambiguity. I can argue either side of most debates. I can bargain (don’t like to but I can). I like to say anything is possible, and if we try hard we can do whatever we want. Ummm, no we can’t. We cannot write a 60s song.

This realization came on the heels of Scooter Dawg. How can this world be turning and I missed it?? How did I miss writing a song in the 60s? (OK, I was a little young, but the 70s? 80s?) How did I drive by the exit to Scooter Dawg and not see it? I feel like I have been asleep at the switch. How many other things have I missed?

At some point it’s going to be too late for me to do what I want. Finality will throw up a blockade in front of me just like the 70s did to the 60s. It’s a scary thought. I guess I better wake up, get out of my routine a little and experience new things.

On a side note, Chester has a renewed determination to go after squirrels. He has not caught one, but we put up a deck. He sits on the deck like a king surveying his kingdom and eyeballs every corner of the yard daring some four legged moving interloper to show its furry self. The difference is he is now also laser focused. Below are three pictures taken over an hour. Mind you, the squirrel is in the NEIGHBOR’S tree (It’s one of their squirrels I’m sure, although they have had some racoon fights over the squirrel food so I’m not sure their squirrels are too happy. They may relocate to our yard which is probably what Chester is determined to avoid). The squirrels are probably thinking “we’ve lived here 3 years and never new this yard existed.” “our little minds are blown!”

Anyway, he spent an hour first running up and down the FENCE, yes the fence that the squirrel was on the OTHER SIDE of, then sat down and barked. This picture shows him with his mouth open. Imagine the bark.

Next he got a drink and went back to running. He sat down and stared, barking occassionally.

Finally he lay down and watched. The squirrel barked at him saying “ha, ha you dumb scooter dawg” in it’s most sinister accent.

Poor vigilant Chester.

Right now I am sitting on the deck, thinking about finality and thinking that I hate it. Chester just took off to the corner of the yard. There is nothing there. I guess I’ll have to go get him.

Chester’s ticky adventure and worm heaven

When we went to Clear Lake Cottages in Northern Ontario, my father would make us dig our fishing worms from under the cow pies. He wasn’t trying to be mean, he did it too. He truly thought the worms would gather under the cow poop and digging there was a really good idea. I have no thoughts about this theory that can be expressed in a g-rated blog.

I can testify that the best cow pies were to be found just on one side of the cattle crossing. The cattle were to be kept on one side of the gate so as to keep them from coming into the camp and foraging amongst our garbage…or maybe that was the bears. At any rate, there were bars with openings that apparently cattle shy away from, like vampires and garlic only wholesome. So the cattle would poop a lot on their side of the gate while plotting to overtake the camp. My father in his wisdom named this area “worm heaven.” He would stop the car at the gate and call out “worm heaven” then drive on muttering about no passengers getting on or off the car. This exempts the blackflies and mosquitos of course. They rode for free.

Cattle crossing, not worm heaven. Worm heaven was not paved.

My sister visited us for the last couple days and we have had an experience of nightmarish proportions. Chester walked through some high grass and got a couple ticks. I can hardly type the word…I go into a genuine freak-out mode with ticks. I don’t care if you never saw a tick in your life, you would know what it is. Thank goodness she was here to ground me a little with comments like, “oh I’ve probably had a thousand ticks on me.” She’s a naturalist so ticks are old hat. Seriously though that did help. Plus none of them were embedded thank you God.

We examined every inch of poor Chester, and the couch. I had taken him down Bacon Road which is a known ticky area but usually not this early in the year. And he never had more than one. I had brushed one off of him but either there were more than I saw or this was the magical reappearing tick because I had one on my leg and arm too. EEEEEEEeeeeee. Kim flushed them and we both started feeling a little itchy. But we had identified the area and the time of the attempted hijacking of the dog by the beasts, and we were pretty confident we had them all.

The next day we went to Holden Arboretum to see the stickworks, an art piece made of willow branches. It is very cool. Here is a picture of my sis in stickworks. I may have posted one of these before, if so pretend you didn’t see it, and if you are an older reader you probably forgot anyway, I know I did.

 We had a wonderful walk and got a free Redbud tree for Arbor Day. We came home, dropped off Chester then went to lunch. When we came back, I went to pet Chester and there was another tick! This was a new kind of tick and my sister the naturalist seemed more concerned. Then she found one on herself which got us both feeling buggy again. ARGH!! She took pictures of this one but I won’t torture you with a pic, I would have to block myself. I was on the phone to the vet immediately begging for some Bravecto flea and tick medicine since I tore apart the pet closet and realized I was out. They were most accommodating and we dashed there (as fast as we could while fuming at the stupid 35 mile/hour speed trap in Madison…) got the Bravecto and rushed home. I ran into the house and gave Chester the supposedly dog pleasing flavored pill which he promptly spit out. I covered it with peanut butter. He licked the peanut butter off and spit it out. Honest to Saint John what was wrong with this dog??  I covered it with peanut butter, wrapped bread around it and made him do a trick. That worked; he spit out some but ate most. I repeated the peanut butter prompt and it was successful. I haven’t seen a tick since, so I think we caught them with no harm done. I washed and dried the clothing and vacuumed my car. Again, none were embedded so I didn’t have to deal with that horror. I’m taking the gruesome experience as a warning.

As we were driving home later from another outing, I stopped the car on Bacon Road where I believe we picked up the first of the monsters. I stopped the car and called out, “Tick Heaven.” My sister complimented me on my delivery, and I felt like I had won an academy award.  For just a minute we were kids again, shaking our heads at the thought of visiting worm heaven with shovels and buckets. But this time I didn’t wait long enough for anything to jump in or on or remotely close to the car.

So if you have a dog and live in Ohio, be aware. Do a check after walking in a park and try not to let them into long grass. Check yourself too, before you go in the house. Wear light colors since they will show up better. They don’t take over your house like fleas but they are good at hiding. Flea and tick medication is expensive but it lasts several months and for me is worth every penny.

I’m not terrified of ticks any more. I faced that fear out of necessity and had no choice whether to deal with it or not. Chester’s health was at risk. It seems like once I actually experience and deal with the fear I’m wary but not terrified. Maybe it’s not knowing that creates the fear. My dad could laugh at just about anything and sometimes that’s the only option. I’m not exactly laughing out loud but I can call out “tick heaven” and shake my head.  Meanwhile, we are staying away from long grass.  We won’t be walking there, but I will acknowledge them.  

Below is Chester and his flea-free bunny.

The wrong number and fantasy woe…

It’s not fair…

It is a dark and stormy night. But earlier today it was almost 80 degrees! Yesterday was in the 70s also. However, on April Fools Day it snowed. Yes, it snowed. The people in Cleveland decided to forget how to drive in the snow and there was a pile up on 77. Luckily I was working from home. I don’t think this is going to last though. As we move back into the workplace I am rediscovering little joys I forgot. Like listening to the guru on the Sirius fantasy channel. I have come to the sad conclusion that my fantasy team, The Killer Tomatoes, is just pathetic and in need of a new name. The Cleveland Indians will not be the only team changing names, but I’m going to give the Tomatoes one more year. My problem is that I get sucked into the rookie or sleeper mode. I want to strike it big like in Vegas. But I end up with a bunch of rookies and the sleepers stay asleep. Our league, Cut That Meat, has been together for years and years and I’ve only won once.

Looks scary, right? not so much…

While walking Chester in the snow, I was thinking of new names for my sad fantasy team (suggestions are welcome). The I heard the theme from Harry Potter. That would be my cell phone. I carry it with me in case I fall or something I can call my husband to come get Chester. And he might even get me. Anyway, I looked at who was calling. It was a 330 number which is somewhere near Akron, not that far. It could be someone I know, or from work. So I answered it.


“Yes, you have an ad in the busy beaver?”


“The ad in the busy beaver?”


“I think you have the wrong number I don’t know what the busy beaver is.”

“Umm hold on, is this umm 321-3134?”

“No, it’s not.”

OK about now it was dawning on me that this might be a phone call I might want to get out of. I mean he sounded nice enough, but the longer I stay on the line the longer he has to sell me something, right?

“Ohhhh, I see what I did.”

“OK, thank you.” (and I hung up)

Why on God’s green earth did I thank him? Come on, Martha, what were you thinking? Thanks guy for calling me and interrupting my thoughts of fantasy stardom. I was on the verge of a breakthrough name there. Sheesh.

No really I didn’t care, but as we walked on I wondered what the busy beaver was. It hit me that it may be a sex line, like I’m supposed to talk all hot. I got a chuckle out of that one, because I could talk the talk but I’d be picking up Chester poo at the same time which isn’t exactly walking the walk he’s probably thinking.

I went home and after burrowing under a blanket like a kid after bedtime I looked up the busy beaver. Turns out it’s a home improvement store in Ashtabula which is only 20 miles or so from me. I never heard of it! I looked to see if they were hiring, figuring that must be it, but they weren’t. So what ad is he calling about? I was tempted to call him back and ask him.

“Hey, remember me, the lady who thanked you for calling the wrong number? So what ad is in the Busy Beaver and how do I get the ads? What kind of stuff do they have there? Any good sales going on? Do they have Christmas deer that light up? I mean it is snowing here…what’s the garden section like?”

He’d be thrilled I’m sure to make my acquaintance. Actually I’m going to drag my husband to the Busy Beaver when it’s a nice day. We will take the Model A and drive through Dairy Queen. This must be done after my diabetes blood work is taken tomorrow. But so it shall be written, so it shall be done.


On another note, I am a terrible dog mom. We were on the park side of the fence when who should walk by on the other side but Enzo and his owner. (for the newer readers, Enzo and Chester got into it ONE TIME and ever since are arch enemies) Enzo did absolutely nothing (good dog) but Chester went berserk (bad, bad). Why, Chester, why??? The gate to the park has about a foot in between the rails…it’s for cars not for Chesters. Chester was throwing himself around, I was hanging on for dear life (Enzo’s probably) and Chester was trying to shove his big head through the gate. I did the unthinkable. I dumped some water on his head. He stopped lunging and looked confused. While I had his attention for 2 seconds I told him to “LEAVE IT.” He whined a little but oh my, he left it. Granted it was halfway down the street by now.  I do not advocate this as a training method in any way, in fact it’s probably just one more reason for him to hate Enzo, although that may not be possible. But sometimes we all slip a little and at least he didn’t dislocate my arm. I did buy a clicker and some cat treats (for Chester not the cats) so I can try to continue his PetSmart basic training. He did graduate believe it or not, I have his diploma. He got an extra biscuit because I felt bad. I hope Enzo got one too for having to put up with the Chester display.

I’m a good dog.

Have a good weekend, and send me some fantasy name ideas. I will give you naming rights in the fantasy stadium.

By the way, I’m glad they are going to change the Indians name. It’s overdue. Just please not the Spiders…the mascot for the New School in NYC is the Narwhal. What about that???

Take care.

Fish Heads and aging gracefully…

Recently I had the urge to revisit a song. Happily there was a video as well.  Some songs are just so awful they are brilliant. This is one such song. It’s called “Fish Heads” and it is done by a group called Barnes & Barnes. Apparently it was shown in 1980 on SNL, which explains where we likely saw it, as we didn’t have kids yet and could stay up and watch SNL without passing out during the opening monologue. We used to sing this song all the time even when we didn’t want to. Talk about ear worms, this is the night crawler of earworms. This is the king cobra of earworms. The lyrics are simply about fish heads doing things that fish heads oughtn’t do. This doesn’t sound bad but believe me, it is. SOOO bad. In fact, it has sunk through the hole at the bottom of the toilet of badness and returned to claim its place in the sun like the victims of Motel Hell.

Anyway, I had the urge to watch “Fish Heads” again, and to my delight I still enjoyed it. It has aged well. It’s just as bad/good now as it was in 1980. Then, while walking Chester, I thought about things that age well and things that don’t.

Well: peeps. According to my husband they actually improve with age.

Not well: a container of something that I left in my car for a whole year during the pandemic. I recently fished it out..sing it everybody…fish heads, fish heads…

did not age well…not sure what it was

I want to age well. I have another 30 years or so according to the psychic in New Orleans, so I have to start thinking about it in another ten years or so. Seriously though it’s not like I don’t have any good role models. My mom died when I was young and impervious to aging. But my Aunt Alice lived a nice long life and was the epitome of aging well. She was royaler than a queen to me. She played the piano her whole life and held herself with grace and kindness.

Grace and kindness…I want to be these things. I am not. I am generally kind but my thoughts vacillate between “I understand” to “What on God’s green earth were you thinking?” I used to not feel bad about it, I just figured it was my lot in life to be a smart ass. Then I attended this class where they told us to look (not really look but pretend) at ourselves and ask “would I want to be this person’s friend?”

That threw me. Now, every time I have a sarcastic comment or put down I feel like a bad person. No, I would definitely not want to be that mean girl’s friend! Sigh… what a complete pain in the butt. How am I supposed to age gracefully when I have literally no practice. What can I do? I want my kids to be proud of me, and better yet, I want my grandkids to be proud of me (it’s too late for the kids). I don’t want people to avoid me because I’m a jerk. I want people to call and see if I can go out for coffee. Well, most of the time I want that, the rest of the time I want to sit and watch the British Baking Show.

Is the British Baking Show on yet? Are they making cakes today? Remember the cake I ate, haw haw that was fun!

It’s going to be a long 30 years. I figure the best hope I have is to forget about it and think about something else. So while Chester and I were walking I thought of what I want to accomplish.

I want to learn Spanish. I’d like to learn the program Finale. I want to read about Anne Reinking and Gypsy Rose Lee. I’d like to learn something about Czechoslovakia.

I want to say the right thing without putting my foot in it. I want to be able to talk about something interesting for once. I want to remember somebody, anybody’s birthday in time to get a card to them. Thank God for facebook on that score but it’s not enough time. I’d have to remember to look ahead and that isn’t feasible.

I want to be fearless. If I want to zipline I will (I don’t but could be talked into it). I want to write a book and submit it until I don’t feel like it, regardless of rejections. I think I’ll get another tattoo that says fearless so I don’t forget. Then try to live up to it. Suck it up buttercup.

Speaking of buttercups, our crocuses have literally exploded into bloom. OK, maybe not literally, exploding crocuses would be awesome though. They seem to have tripled in number. I see the squirrels have been busy too, moving around the bulbs. Some must have been buried in my Hosta garden because I didn’t plant them there. Spring has arrived in Cleveland. It’s a beautiful thing. It’ll probably snow this weekend but hey, it has to snow on the daffodils 3 times before winter is over. Then we can move on!

Chester has become insistent at the CVS drive-through. They always give him a biscuit. (remember, Milk Bones = doggie crack) The last time he was boring into her face with his eyes until she looked at him. “Does he want a biscuit?” she asked.

Gaaaah…….no he wants to eat you, stick your hand in here just a little further…

“Yes thank you. He would love one.” Maybe I’m learning to age gracefully just a little.