After Christmas and bobber coolers…

So this is after Christmas, and what have you done…that song takes on a whole new meaning when the answer is eat about 1000 cookies and Hershey kisses, watch 6 feet of snow fall while sitting on the couch eating said cookies, and watching Chester tear up his Christmas toys. Ugh I feel like a blimp. A lazy blimp. Feeling like a blimp is not necessarily motivation enough.

After Christmas is a letdown. The kids are back in New York, the festivities are over, and the High family Christmas has been accomplished virtually. The High family Christmas is my side of the family and is one of my favorite traditions. When my dad died, we decided to exchange gifts that would be ones like my dad would buy. He would get two tons of catalogs in the mail each year and pour over them searching for the perfect gift. He picked out the most interesting gifts for certain, and usually good quality. He had a good eye. That’s what we try to do with varying degrees of success. One of the first years I bought a bobber cooler since he used to name the bobbers with a sharpie; “Ali-baba” and such. The cooler was such a hit that the next year someone else bought one to give. This was met with a round of “huh?” but OK. After the third cooler, we took to NOT choosing boxes shaped anywhere near the size of a bobber cooler. Some people got creative. My husband used a bobber sized box for some tiny electronic product one year. Then my son filled up the bobber with beer one year—that one was pretty popular. This year there was a bobber but I could not believe that it really was a bobber so I chose it. If it quacks like a duck….it’s a bobber. It had a gift certificate to a restaurant in it which someone immediately stole. I left the virtual party bobber-less.

Chester had a doggie’s dream of a Christmas. On Christmas eve there was a bunny in the yard. The bunny ran under the shed, then while Chester got hung up on a pile of brush the bunny exited the front of the shed and ran into the neighbor’s yard. Chester never saw it so ran around trailing the bunny for about a half hour. He came in muddy and tired and got a biscuit.

On Christmas he got a new bed to accommodate his expanding body. He also got two toys which he destroyed, and some Oreo shaped doggie cookies. Gonna need a bigger bed.

On Christmas he also got to see the grandkids. He loves the grandkids. He met our daughter’s fiancée and followed him around monitoring his every move. He also got treats and toys from them, including the mother of all toys.

This toy was a stuffed nutcracker/soldier with three, yes three squeakers, one in the head and one in each foot! It took Chester multiple hours to defeat the evil creature. This was the culmination of weeks of barking at UPS/FedEx/USPS/Amazon delivery people. Bless them.

Anyway, the Christmas blues set in yesterday so I again did nothing. I ate cookies and cheese and candy and sat on the couch. Today I decided to eat cookies and make a list of things to do after Christmas to treat myself since my candy is gone.

  1. Get a pedicure. I love pedicures and since I can’t reach my toes very easily this is a treat.
  2. Get one more peppermint mocha before they’re gone. No further explanation needed.
  3. Try to train Chester not to pull me when he sees Enzo. I’m thinking clicker and treats. He really needs to go on a diet too so not sure how that will work.
  4. Try to keep the bird squirrel feeder filled and potentially build a squirrel obstacle course.
  5. Watch more old movies.

These are just starts but doable. Yes, I can drink Peppermint Mocha and watch old movies!

And now we move on. It’s time for the “best of” and “worst of” lists and hope for a good year ahead. I think maybe hope is the wrong word. I think maybe I will decide to make it a good year. Let’s have a happy New Year and make it happen. We got this!

Control and cute doggie pictures…

I have typed and erased about eight sentences in the past 10 minutes. My thoughts are jumbled and my fingers are just poised while I try to think of how to use words. I have nothing except this…dogs are pretty fantastic. Chester is funny, smart, and worries about us. He loves us and lets us be silly dog owners. He listens to us and I know he is happy. Chester loves to go for walks, hence the name of the blog. Look at this face…this is the face I get to see when I pick up the harness.

Have you ever seen such a sweet face? How can I see that and not smile? He makes me want to do things for him. We have taken advantage of the less common nice days here in northern Ohio and walk somewhere each day. He loves to go down the busiest road (Bacon Road I kid you not) and I try to oblige when it’s a Sunday morning and traffic is light. Along Bacon Road, there are these large rocks in a line. These rocks, to Chester, look like Stonehenge. Who put them there? Must be aliens. Chester has to pee on each and every one. It’s a dog’s delight. I try to control his habit of wildly kicking bits of the lawn behind him after each one. No luck, it’s in a dog’s DNA.

For me, control is in my index cards. I send about 40 Christmas cards with end of year letters. Yes, no eye rolls, Christmas letters, I know. My system for addresses and sent/receive years is index cards. I have everyone’s name on an index card and update them each year. If someone moves I stick the new address in the card box and they get a new card. My husband doesn’t understand why I do this. He is a technological whiz and asked me why I didn’t put them on a spreadsheet? I basically said I just don’t want to.

 I thought about this question though. Why not? I don’t know, it just feels wrong. A spreadsheet is not out of my comfort zone at all. Nor are labels. I just don’t want to. I’m like Chester digging in when he doesn’t want to move on when there is a good smell on one of the rocks. I want some things in my world to stay the same. I want control. I want to physically pick up that index card and “feel” the person on it. Not in some creepy way, come on now…! I don’t know how to explain it, but it wouldn’t be the same. My life is not in control in any way shape or form except for those darn index cards. The rest is blowing in the wind. Do you have things like that? Things people shake their heads at but you hang on to? I think we all do.

Chester hangs onto his toys. His toys consist of a mangled assortment of ex-bunnies with their heads or body parts torn off. Of course the stuffing is non-existent.  When I dumped his bucket of toys out to try to weed them out, he lay on them and wouldn’t let me take them. I did eventually snag some when he was otherwise occupied but he didn’t even care about the toys until I dumped them out and took a couple. He actually put his head on his paws on top of the toys and fell asleep.  I guess that’s his control.

It’s OK to need to control some things. You can’t control people, or dogs actually. You most certainly can’t control cats. You can’t control any virus or illness in general, even if you live healthy. You can’t control when other people are asses. You can’t control the weather. I could go on and on. But it’s OK to find something that is yours.

Finally I attempted to take a nice Christmas picture of Chester the Reindeer. This was literally the best I got. I guess I can make him do something but any thought of control is misguided. Have a good week!

Anesthesia and white deer…

I know I missed a week in the attempted blogging schedule. I have a good reason. I had a procedure. Now I’m not going to go into it, because I can picture my nephew saying “Jeez, Aunt Martha, I really didn’t want to read this.” But let’s just say it was a multi-day ordeal that came out fine.

I only mention this procedure because I learned something new about anesthesia. In the past, I would pop up after anesthesia and say, “Wow, best sleep I ever had!” This time, I was out of it, and I do mean OUT. As in twilight-loopy for about 4-5 hours. I lay on the couch and listened to the absurd Wednesday afternoon NFL game on my phone. But at some point I drifted off, and that’s when the fun began.

I saw a little red, and it was red as in barn red, not bright red, zombie-type skull on a stick figure body. I was on some kind of platform, and the zombie thing was snapping its little jaws at my legs or the legs of the platform. It looked a little like Gollum but red. I was trying to avoid it when some girl’s arm waved a beautifully manicured finger across it and flowers showered over the zombie, blowing it into pieces. Then the skull kept snapping without a body.

This vision begs many questions. Who was the girl? Did she have a body? Or was it just an arm? If so, where did the arm get the manicure and how did it drive there? The little zombie wasn’t particularly scary—but were there more? Would it regenerate or just bounce around on its little head snapping until it found its way into some teacher’s desk with the snapping teeth?

Unknowable. I will probably have to wait 5 more years to find out. But it’s something to look forward to…sort of.

In the last two weeks, our neighborhood put away its political divisiveness and came together. It appears to be our neighborhood’s goal to use up all the electricity and signal spaceships by seeing who can put up the most Christmas lights. We were out of the contest from day one, we just put some around the windows and ledge/porch area. But this effort has inspired me to greatness. I believe we could rise in the neighborhood estimation if we had a white deer that lifts its head up and down. The other Grammy, in an attempt to lower my expectations (since I have wanted to have one for years and my husband is reluctant to say the least} said they aren’t worth it. She said that they had one and the head or the body lights would go out randomly. She said the whole thing didn’t all light at once for long.

WHOA! HOW COOL IS THAT!!??? If the body didn’t work, the head would look like a discombobulated reindeer head bobbing up and down. If the head didn’t work, it’d be the headless horse, man. The neighbor would probably try to shoot or eat it, and wouldn’t that be funny when they found out it isn’t real?! Now I want one more than ever. I suspect one will find its way into our Christmas closet at the end of the year when the ones that don’t work get returned and are on markdown. That’s my plan.

Chester has been a lucky doggie lately. He decided he likes turkey which is good because we had a 16 pound turkey to eat, and without him it would have been tough. He is a worry-wort though. His latest fixation is on the delivery vehicles that drive down our otherwise quiet cul-de-sac multiple times a day. He lies on the couch and focuses on the door, ready to run to the window and bark at the slightest whiff of a UPS truck. Below is a picture of him at the ready. He has had a couple days where he missed some though, I think he is wearing himself out. The second picture is his attitude about having to guard the house.

I am unashamedly full-on Christmas. We have most of our gifts (I would say all but that would make you feel bad) and I’m putting up the Christmas village today. Watching football and putting up a Christmas village—it doesn’t get any better. I bought new people for my village. They are Mr. Mayor and Mrs. Mayor. They probably have names but the other people haven’t all met them yet so right now it’s Mr. and Mrs. Mayor.  Have a good week!

Chester stands sits lies at attention
Make it stop…

Identity crises and scary turkeys…

Our neighborhood suffers from an identity crisis. I thought it was bad when the godawful election signs were up like pimples on a smooth cheek, upping each other in numbers and finally adding flags to the mix. Yes, some of our otherwise reasonable neighbors had flags supporting their candidate. They won the flag war, what else can I say? 

And now we have the weekend before Thanksgiving, a time that is usually 25 degrees and sleeting. Not this weekend however, we are at about …excuse me for a minute, Milo the cat just snozzed on my finger. I have to go wash my hands.

As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted by flying Milo snot, it’s a beautiful fall day here in Cleveland. It’s cool, maybe jacket weather, and by cool I mean about 45. If it was 50 or more it would be t-shirts, and 60 or more we break out the flip flops. This weather abnormality causes our neighbors to go into house-panic mode. Some are busy bagging leaves—I have not heard so many leaf blower motors at one time ever. I couldn’t even hear my husband when he said we needed to put all the patio stuff in the shed. Huh, what was that? I can’t hear you over the leaf blowers.. It didn’t work, we actually accomplished that, at least most of it. I threw a couple ears of corn in our yard for the squirrels hoping that they would take them next door at some point. At least before we have to mow again next year.

But back to the neighbors…they don’t know what to do with this weather. They are confused. Is it Thanksgiving or Christmas? We all can be forgiven for losing track of days and this doesn’t help. Some are blowing leaves with their pumpkins still out and others are blowing leaves and putting up the Christmas decorations. We have one house in its Thanksgiving happiness…and right next door, I swear you not is a house ready for St. Nick…

Still Thanksgiving
Moving on to Christmas

Then there are those who transition gradually or can’t make up their minds…

Something for everyone

I can relate to all of them.

We are still in Thanksgiving mode at our house but it’s a pretty sad Thanksgiving. I’m actually very down about this. Thanksgiving is my jam. Everyone comes to our house and as much as I love the meal, I love the company more. We have Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetable (like green bean only mixed veggies and cheddar cheese) casserole, sweet potato casserole with butter and marshmallows melted on top, pumpkin pie, apple pie brought by the kids, kielbasa made by my brother in law, wine brought by the alternate grandparent universe, and cranberry sauce two ways. One is what my brother brings that falls out of a can and shows the indentation of the can and jiggles and has absolutely no relationship to real cranberries. I’m sorry but real cranberries do not, and I repeat do NOT make that plop sound as they suction themselves out of the can and land on the plate like The Blob. There is also the right kind (I’m a cranberry snob) with orange zest, sugar and fresh, real cranberries that burst when you boil them. I notice that frequently the jiggly stuff disappears and my fresh cranberries are left. Some of my family has no taste.  Oh, and don’t forget the rolls. One year, I burned the rolls. I got so much grief for it that I didn’t make them the next year so my son did. Of course they were perfect. So now the question every Thanksgiving is, “did Jeff make the rolls?”

This year we aren’t having our Thanksgiving, at least not now. Nobody is comfortable when we are in the “purple zone” here, and other states don’t want us around them. I plan to send an invite for a date in June for Thanksgiving. We are going to make a meal, and will talk to everyone, but it’s not the same. And it makes me really sad.

However, that is no excuse to jump into Christmas. I keep telling myself that as the presents pile up. I find a certain solace in purchasing gifts. Shoot, I like buying stuff. It helps ease the Thanksgiving blues. But it’s just not time yet for Christmas lights. Are we giving up EVERY tradition we have? Putting up lights without frostbitten fingers is just unamerican. Or at least not worthy of any true Clevelander!

Don’t feel like I’m criticizing you if you aren’t a true Clevelander. It’s OK, really. Actually if I had to put up the lights by myself I might be doing it now also. But we (I am certainly speaking for my husband) have to draw the line somewhere.

Anyway, taking Chester for a walk today we observed the different decorations in the neighborhood. At one point he would not continue. He was afraid of the birds. By birds, I mean two giant inflatable turkeys on either side of the street. Here is a picture of one of them; they were too big to get them both.

I dragged him past them and they didn’t attack us but it was like walking a gauntlet. I pictured Tippi Hedren in The Birds, running with little Veronica Cartwright (later of Alien fame) while the birds pecked their hair. My hair looks so frizzy during the pandemic I can totally understand. But just imagine these two turkeys (the inflatables not Tippi and Veronica) coming at me and Chester. Scary stuff.

We used to buy tanks and chicken fireworks that you would light and put on the ground and have wars with. Whichever one caught on fire was the loser. It was great fun if you didn’t stand too close. These turkeys looked like they were going to start spitting sparks out of their beaks at each other. We walked a little quicker but we did make it through unscathed.

When Chester doesn’t want to walk somewhere, he just stops. He is over 70 pounds and gives me a look that says “go ahead and try but I’m not moving.” And he doesn’t. We go where he wants to go. Below is a picture of that look. My husband lets him go wherever he wants to go. He figures the walk is for Chester, so he should have some choice. I do not. Phooey on choice. Chester and I go the same way almost every time. I am boring. This time though, he was not having it and no matter how much I tried to drag him, I couldn’t do it. I appreciated his spirit. Only a doting dog owner would take a picture of their doggie engaged in civil disobedience and think it’s cute. But it is! We stood there awhile and then went where he wanted to go.

I hope you have a good Thanksgiving. I plan to get my Christmas letter and cards out. If you would like one, email me and let me know (for those that don’t already get one) otherwise you will be spared. Enjoy your feasts or traditions and do whatever makes you happy. Touch base with someone you love. And let’s be thankful to be alive and well. Take care!