A Chester Q&A and my house…

I belong to a facebook group called City Dogs. It’s a great group for adopters who have pit bull mixes from the city kennel. Mostly we show each other our cute pictures of the smooshie faces of the pups and rave over how cute they are. In that vein, they started a Q&A so I filled it out for Chester. It goes like this:

Name: Chester

Nickname: Chester no! No, No Chester! OMG really Chester?

How old are you? 5-7

What’s your favorite human food? cheese sticks. I could be in a coma and wake up if I heard the wrapper.

What are you scared of? the big inflatable snow men that I saw at Christmas. And little white bossy dogs.

Favorite toy or thing to play with? any stuffed animal. it needs tearing up. Especially if it’s a bunny.

What’s something you don’t like? when mom shuts me out of her office because a cat is in there. I sit in the hall and whine. also bunnies. I hate bunnies. Favorite things to do? zoomies in the back yard, especially after a bunny.

Have any other furry siblings? two bad cats but we had a falling out. I thought they were bunnies.

Human siblings? no, just the two little boys that come over sometimes and drop food.

Something you get in trouble for? eating things off the counter. But it’s soooo goood!

Where do you sleep? On the bed of course. I really stretch out.

Do you bark? Yes, I have to let mom and dad know when the UPS guys comes or a dog walks by or somebody is pushing a stroller or a squirrel is getting cheeky.

What is your best attribute? I make the hoomans laugh. Also I never have accidents in the house and I have a cast iron stomach. I like most dogs except for Enzo down the street. He’s evil. My mom says she loves me.

Do you go to the groomer? No I go to the dog wash. But they’ve been closed so I’m kind of dirty. Mom loves me anyway.

Do you like car rides? Yes! Especially to PetSmart!

Do you snore? Yes sometimes!

Pass the time and share about your dogs!

Then we post a bunch of pictures. It was fun, so I wanted to share with you. I’ll share some photos below.

I walked Chester this morning in the rain. I thought it would be a wormapalooza but we only saved one. In fact, I just redirected it since it was heading toward the street. It turned around and I encouraged it to the grass. So in between worms needing saving and raindrops and pee breaks, I thought about my house.

My house is not my house, and if you believe my grandson, it never will be. It’s a little house on the way home from picking them up. It used to have all sorts of stuff in the yard like old bicycle wheels or metal pots or just plain junk. The house itself is adorable. It’s brick in front, on a corner, with a small yard. Apparently someone made the garage into another room, a maneuver that I hate. And, it was really run down.

My grandson and I would play a game and pick one thing to take out of the yard that would improve the looks. Or, it could be something like fixing a door. Or the windows. The house was somewhat in disrepair so this went on for awhile. But a funny thing happened. As we mentally removed things, I began to see some artistic value in the stuff. We changed our game to what we would keep. I began to love the house, junk and all. And I was super curious about the people inside. This went on literally for years.

One day, we noticed that some of the stuff was gone and the lawn mowed. We commented on how nice it looked. Then more stuff disappeared, and brush and trees were cut down. Something was going on. I looked up the address on Zillow and put my investigator skills to work. The house was foreclosed on and I had not noticed. Apparently an artist did live there. I found him on ETSY. The bank owns it now but for much more than it’s worth at this point. I called the bank to see if they were going to put it up for sale. They said maybe in February. I called the realtor who put me on a list. But nothing yet. Once we drove by and a window was left open. I called the bank and told them to get over there and close it. The next day it was closed. I started calling it “my house.” My grandson said it wasn’t my house and never will be. He got sick of hearing about it and told me to drive home the other way. (I didn’t)

The grandson is right. I know that. I’m being totally irrational. I would love to think we could buy it and fix it up. My husband and I don’t have the skill or know-how for that extensive of a project, not to mention the money or time. Shoot, If we did our own house would be in better shape. We don’t need another house that’s for sure. And if we did fix it up, I don’t think I could sell it. What is it about this house? Why does it call to me?  Maybe because an artist lived there and I grew to see the beauty in the junk. Maybe it just looks like a cozy, warm home. I feel good driving by. I don’t know–all I know is that I want it to be happy. I hope it finds a new owner who can fix it up. I hope someone will plant flowers and make the garage a garage again. I hope someone will love it as their first house, a dream come true. When this happens, I will stop driving by.

Fame and becoming a hermit…

I feel guilty saying it, because there are so many people who don’t have this luxury, but for me one of the side effects of COVID is boredom. GAH I am so bored I watched Sharknado 2 and was worried that the Sharks would eat everyone. Spoiler alert; they don’t but I wish they had.  I played Gummy Drop and Magic Puzzle until my phone is practically dead. I still have to walk Chester but it’s cold so I procrastinated by surfing the web. While flipping around learning about the cast of Sharknado, I read about celebrities who tested positive for COVID.  What? How is that possible?

Fame is a funny thing. Someone becomes very good at something and through a lucky break or deserved acclaim that person becomes famous. We all know who he or she is. Once this happens, we can’t shower enough praise or notoriety on the person to the point where he or she isn’t a person anymore. They are now legends, kings, best of whatever.

Then, once we run out of superlatives, we start to generalize. If someone is great at acting/sports/singing/whatever, then the person is great at everything. The person becomes familiar to us and becomes a role model. “Oh I love her.” Back about 7-8 years ago Charles Barkley said he was not a role model, that parents should be role models. He said that entertainers and jocks shouldn’t be the only role models, that doctors, lawyers, engineers and parents should be too. I think he hit it on the head but it started some controversy. I think kids, and adults, too often look up to people without knowing anything about that person except that he/she does really well at something. A good singer is not necessarily a good person.

Because the famous person is now a non-person, but is an image, when he or she does something shady or just makes a really bad decision, we are shocked. We blast the person off the pedestal that we created. Truth is, they are people. They aren’t perfect and we have no right to expect it. We aren’t perfect either.

So now celebrities are getting COVID. The virus doesn’t discriminate. Some of the people in the online clip didn’t reveal it until after it was basically over. Hey, they don’t have to. They don’t owe us every little detail of their lives.  If I wasn’t so bored I wouldn’t have flipped through it because I don’t really care. They may be fine people but I don’t know them.

If there is one thing this virus has done, it has slowed us down, at least those of us not in the health care field. All sorts of businesses are offering stuff online but strangely I don’t partake much. I am becoming a hermit I guess. I realized I want to see my family and good friends, but the rest is ephemeral. I want to slow down and take things in. I want to find out what is real to me, and what is important. I’m pulling back and finding that I can let some things go and it’s actually a pretty nice feeling.

So yesterday I went for a walk with Chester and saw this yellow flower by the road. I don’t know what it is so am sending a photo to my sister. But thought I’d post it here too. The other picture is Chester and his “mastodon bone.” I went to the pet store and stocked up, and wanted to get Chester a bone that would keep him busy for awhile. I think I overestimated a little.  

Unknown yellow flower
Chester’s giant mastodon bone

Communication and birds…

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.” That is a line from my husband’s favorite movie, “Cool Hand Luke.” This pretty much sums up the state of the world right now. But that’s not what made me think of it.

I was watching an old movie about the “Ziegfeld girl” which incidentally was the name of the movie. Creativity at its best. Anyway, the movie ended and another one came on that I don’t know the title to, but it was Fred Astaire dancing on a Navy ship. Anyway, since I don’t know who the people were in the movie I am not sure of the story, but a woman went all out because her (husband? fiancé? boyfriend?) was coming home. She had a huge ship on the table in the middle of a spread of food by candlelight. This has nothing to do with communication, I just thought the huge ship was cool. But during her preparations the phone rang. She was in the kitchen and didn’t hear it at first, so it rang and rang and rang. This struck me, and I thought about Cool Hand Luke’s infamous line.

Those of you younger than me, which is probably most of you, may not remember life without answering machines. We didn’t always have one—the phone would ring and if you were there you got it, if not it just kept ringing til the person hung up. We didn’t have caller ID either. Sometimes we would have a “code” like ring once then hang up to let someone know we were home safely. No texting of course, and no cell phones. Did we have a failure to communicate? Maybe we didn’t communicate as much, so we had a failure of meaningless constant overwhelming talk that people call communication. But we actually communicated better in some ways.

I once took a class about communication. The instructor said if you really want to communicate with someone, you should figure out how they like to communicate. In the old days we had two methods—telephone or writing letters. Now we have multiple avenues. Young people don’t seem to answer their phones much, so I text. I call my sister, who doesn’t do so well with texting, or didn’t until she got a smart phone and got on facebook. At work I often use email, since I usually don’t need the information that quickly, and I know people are pretty busy with meetings and such.

Yet sometimes, more and more it seems, we just don’t communicate. People don’t really talk. I guess each mode of communication has its downside. In some ways, it’s like we want to talk and reply so quickly that we aren’t really listening to each other. I recently sent an email asking a question that the person had just answered in another email that I had read TWO MINUTES AGO. Annoying, right? We have a failure to communicate. We talk, they talk. But does anyone remember anything that was said?

I went for a walk with Chester around sunrise. The birds are pretty vocal then. There was one particularly loud bird. I didn’t know what kind it was, but my sister is a master naturalist and has a phone line for questions. I recorded the bird and sent it to her. It is a male robin looking for a mate. Oh, and there was no failure to communicate there, that was one loud robin. Birds can communicate without phones, letters, social media, texts, or anything but their songs. We can too. The difference between us and birds is that we try to communicate on a grand scale. We hear about everything that happens in the world and sometimes it gets overwhelming. When something is said that actually has substance, it’s lost in the chatter. It’s a little frustrating.

I’m going to take a break. Listen to the birds. Let the sounds of nature relax me. People can talk. Meanwhile, I’m going to check out the crocuses in the front yard. Here is a picture of them. The squirrels move them from yard to yard, and I think we got a few of our neighbor’s this year; we have a nice crop. It’s OK, they got some of ours in the past. Also, squirrels don’t seem to like purple crocuses. They eat the other ones but that’s OK too. I like squirrels and crocuses so I can share. Take care of yourselves.

Working from home and the muzzle war…

Like many others I have been working from home. I’m lucky that my job is largely computer, so I can still work. Monday and Tuesday I resisted and went into the office anyway. We were allowed to if we needed to, and on Mondays I am usually too busy to work with one computer screen. Wednesday slowed down, as usual, and I moved into my home office.

I am beginning to notice some little changes in my routine–things that are sobering in a way. For example, I put my travel mug up in the cabinet, not knowing when I’ll need it next. Our cupboard is full of Tupperware because I haven’t been taking my lunch. I gathered some must haves to keep handy; Burt’s Bees Hemp lip balm, a nail file, my little container of “dream cream” hand lotion. With each one moving to my desk I had the heavy feeling that I’m not going back and even if I do go back, it won’t be the same. Things have weirdly changed.

After ballet, while at college, I took a phys ed credit of modern dance. I tried, but to think that I could do modern dance with a background in ballet is like saying I could play the trumpet with a background in cello. They are both types of dance, but I didn’t realize how different they were, and I couldn’t see or feel modern dance AT ALL. I kept trying to squeeze some ballet moves in and react to the music. Those modern dancers don’t even care about the music! After I had the “final exam” which was to perform a dance I created, the teacher asked me what changed during the dance. I said nothing. She said that the expression of something changes it. Whether for good or bad, once you recognize something, it is changed. At the time I thought she was just being a snooty dance teacher. Maybe she was snooty but she may have had a point.

 I acknowledged the virus’ power 1) by working from home and 2) by making it a functional office. I guess I’m past denial now. I don’t know what the virus will do and I’m a little overwhelmed.  I’m also angry. I generally refuse to get sick. I believe in the power of the mind. I am not sick now, but if the odds are not in my favor, and they don’t seem to be, I probably will be at some point and so will you. I am strong but by acknowledging that I can’t go about my routines, I don’t feel so strong. I guess in this case, with my simple expression of working from home, what changed is me.

Today was better. My husband and I are falling into a new routine. I am learning to live with one tiny computer screen instead of two extra large ones. I still don’t like it, but I am past feeling sad and am moving on. I am renewing my pet integration project by bringing the two cats together. They hissed a couple times today but that was it. We’re making progress! I can do that because I’m working from home. I can sleep in a half hour longer. I go down and make a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon and to be honest have a girl scout cookie with it. I play music without headphones. All in all it’s OK. I’m OK.

Now, on to Chester and the muzzle war. I told you that the first try resulted in Chester running in with it hanging from his neck. I tightened it a little and tried again. The next morning, he was running around the yard but when he came in….no muzzle at all! I had to go out and find it. Muzzle-0, Chester-2. The third time I tried again, tightening it even a little more. Don’t worry, he can still breathe, he’s fine. He came in…and voila! The muzzle was still on! So he may be getting used to it😊 No more dead bunnies. Speaking of bunnies though, we went for a walk this morning and Chester stopped suddenly, staring straight ahead in his “I see a rabbit” pose. Then he backed up a little like he was scared. Below is a picture of what he saw. Oh Chester…

the muzzle

This and That and no Corona…

Chester chased another bunny. This time he didn’t catch it, and it went under the fence before the hound from hell ate it. I purchased a plastic muzzle, size large, which was just too big. Apparently his body is larger than his snoot. I went back and tried a mesh one, hopeful that this would be the end of the great bunny massacre of 2020. I adjusted it and got it on him by straddling him and holding his mouth shut which was no small feat. He was shaking his head but I just kind of bumped him outside and figured he’d get past it. He stood with his legs splayed on the patio and looked up at me with horror so I shut the door. When I peeked out again he was still in the same spot on the patio. I took pity on him and took it off thinking that if there was a bunny out there, he would have chased it already. We did this for a couple days, then today I let him out with the muzzle on and he ran out into the yard, not just the patio. Feeling righteous I went back to the kitchen to make another cup of coffee. I glanced out the window at the sun shining on Chester. Chester with his muzzle hanging around his neck and his tongue flapping in the breeze. He was running around peeing on everything and the muzzle was waving like a scarf. Heavy sigh. Chester 1, me 0. Stay tuned.

Chester and I went for a walk today down a street we usually don’t go. There was a little white yappy dog tearing around the yard like a miniature teeth-filled tornado. It was barking the whole time. Pretty impressive, running and barking. I don’t think I could do that. When I say it was ¼ of Chester’s size that’s giving it the benefit of the doubt. Chester stopped, looked at the dog, turned around and pulled me back the way we came. He was not having it. We walked home and he got a biscuit which made him feel better.

A couple days ago it had just rained and while walking Chester I saw a worm the size of a garter snake. You have to respect a worm that big. Of course I tossed it into the grass. I’m still kind of humbled by such a kingly worm. Seriously impressive. That must be like Grandpa Worm. This inspired not a doggie song but a worm song…it goes like “Baby Shark” but substitute worm. And you wiggle instead of making shark mouths with your hands. And, since worms typically don’t hunt, although this one could have hunted the little yappy dog successfully, I substituted “Let’s go dig.” It kind of works.

I was playing baseball with my grandsons and I got a little tired. The six year old never gets tired of baseball, but the two year old is usually up for anything so I called out “dance break” and started doing the chicken dance. Then I did the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song. After that I just yelled “dance break” every time I was tired. The six year old was generally offended and yelled “NOOO”, but the two year old kind of got into it, especially when we sang “Baby Shark.” He can’t resist Baby Shark but really, who can? I now will have to teach him “Baby Worm.”

Have you heard of this thing called Corona Virus? Me neither. I did however hear a good joke courtesy of my co-grammy: What goes with the Corona virus? Lyme disease. I’m not necessarily taking it lightly but me talking about it isn’t going to do any good. So I went with a “this and that” post today. Yes, I wash my hands. Yes, I maintain social distance when I can, but I’ll be damned if I don’t give someone a hug if they need one (after asking of course). Below is a picture of Chester waiting out the Corona virus and thinking about the atrocity that is the muzzle. Except for the muzzle, that’s pretty much what I have planned too.

Check in on each other now and then, and I’ll be walking Chester.  We are going to make up a Corona virus song…something like “My My My My Myyy Corona” Take care of yourselves! 

Lazing on a Sunday afternoon