The neverending mud and Ohiospeak…

Chester loves the mud. He’s a mudder. I am not. I am so sick of wiping those (used to be white) paws after he goes out. He has decided that the chipmunk under the patio should be dug up. Not just the chipmunk but the bunny under the shed, the cat in the wayback yard, and by the gate. He is digging a hole all the way to the center of the earth as we speak. Now the center of the earth might sound dangerous but it would not be overly hot because of the wet mud that permeates the entire Ohio universe. In Ohio aka Cleveland aka our backyard the everpresent mud is everypresentwhere. Oh, and I mean everywhere. It’s on our carpet, our rug, our floor, our couch, the bedspread (I don’t know why because he NEVER goes on the bed…) my shoes, my husband’s shoes, my slippers, the side of the chair from when he shook, the counter. It’s also on him. This is not ordinary mud, no no. It stinks. Maybe ordinary mud stinks too, I’m not sure. I don’t see how it could. I cannot describe to you the smell of this mud. I sat on the couch and kept smelling it but didn’t see where it was coming from. I got on my hands and knees and sure enough, just like a fish in the car trunk for a few days (been there done that) there was a chunk of it that had come to fruition. I was able to remove the offending odor. Unfortunately if A =stinky mud and B=muddy dog then A+B=stinky, muddy dog. It’s destiny, me and the mud. Ugh.

Due to A + B above, we have been trying to take Chester for walks more. I took him yesterday or the day before, or shoot, could be last week, who the heck knows, and he peed on a fire plug. I started to think of words that we use here in Ohio that may or may not be the same as all over. Our mud is special, maybe our language is too. Take the word fire plug. Is that what you call it? or is it a fire hydrant?

Maybe it’s just my family. Families and friends make up words and phrases that have meanings that others don’t understand. I read once where a long time friend died, and the survivor said the thing they missed the most was not having anyone to understand the references and appreciate them. I think that will be difficult when it happens. My husband and I can quote almost any line from Seinfeld in any circumstance. But we’ve been married almost 40 years, there are alot of references.

Some other words—treelawn is the area between your sidewalk and street, if you have a sidewalk. We do not unfortunately. The Wayback is the, well, way back of a station wagon. We did have a station wagon…several in fact. When my husband first met me back in high school my parents had two Volare station wagons. One had a hole in the floor where my sister’s heel went through. My dad wouldn’t get a new car until the old one literally died on the street. 

When my family first got a television, it was a little black and white one, and there was no such thing as a remote control. The first remote control was dubbed the “clicker.” Not to be confused with the “clapper” which we also had. (clap on, clap off, etc) We say “pop” here in Cleveland, while two of our kids say “soda” having moved to NYC. Drives me crazy. A soda is an ice cream float type of thing at DQ. Speaking of DQ I’m hooked on the oreo-cheesecake blizzard. Or the chocolate brownie blizzard. Or just a SODA. But I digress…

I work in words for my job and can write professionally. When I speak I can go either way. My coworkers say we can make entire sentences out of abbreviated words and acronyms. Every field has its own lexicon. Families too; when our families are together we all lapse into the casual speech we grew up with. I sound something like, well, you know, OK, right? Shut up, seriously? Yeah? Get out. It’s delightful I’m sure.

With our social distancing I have been reading more blogs. I appreciate the writers who keep on keeping on. I like reading about other people and their traditions, customs, activities, and yes, pets! If the speech and words are a little different than mine it makes it that much more fun. I almost said funner. But I didn’t! (I might have if I was talking though)  Thank you bloggers for your time and thank you readers for yours. Read on, reader…

and just because, here is a picture of Chester and the fire plug he just peed on. Also one of my new supervisor at work (at home), Zeus. Okey dokie artichoke?

Mom’s proud of me:)
Get back to work!

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