Chester’s Christmas 2021

Well all I can say is that hell probably froze over during the last week. This will be the Christmas that keeps on giving since the grandkids and I tested positive for COVID on Christmas Eve. Yes, I was vaxxed, boosted, and masked. Go figure. The positive was that it’s just like a bad cold, no worse, and we had Christmas Eve outside around a campfire. I was bemoaning the lack of snow but it turned out to be a good thing. For once Cleveland weather cooperated! (One example of hell freezing over!) We had a very nice visit, maybe one of my favorites. Kind of like the “whos” in Whoville. We didn’t clasp hands and sing (I sang “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” a few times) but we exchanged gifts and enjoyed the time together.

Christmas eve

Unfortunately when I got home I was in a hurry to go to the bathroom and dropped my phone in the toilet. Ewww, yes I did reach in and retrieve it. I dried it off and it worked! No harm done to the phone! I, on the other hand, cringe whenever I touch it. It reminds me of a Seinfeld episode and I think I will have to get a new phone.

On Christmas Eve I got a stuffed hippopotamus which is adorable. I set it on the table next to me. We watched “White Christmas” while marveling that a barn could turn into a huge stage instantly. Chester stared at the hippo with focused intent.

I said “no” several times but he was convinced that the hippo was a bunny and should be eaten. His snoot got closer and closer to the hippo. I knew his restraint wouldn’t last forever so I put the hippo in a bedroom and shut the door. Next thing we knew, we heard a crash in the kitchen. Chester had pulled a plate of cookies off the counter. I had made about 700 cookies the day before I tested positive. I couldn’t give them to anyone with a clear conscience. Who would eat them? If they knew that is…. No, even I couldn’t stoop that low. Here, have a plate of cookies and by the way I have COVID. But I did not expect Chester to knock over the Apricot pockets. I think he was mad about the hippo. He ate a few before we got them picked up. Silver lining? I probably didn’t need to eat 700 cookies anyway. Probably.

Chester was lucky that Santa had already left the North Pole when he pulled his cookie shenanigans. Chester received three bunnies this year. He got a red elf/Santa with a big head, a Rudolph, and a white “Bumble” head that looked like a furry softball. He handled the elf pretty quickly. Rudolph took longer to shred. The winner by far is the Bumble! Bumble squeaks with a high pitched shrill scream. It is round and there are no limbs to grab or bite into. He nibbled a little fur to get a toothhold but to no avail. We had been playing “got your bunny” for a few days and while slimy, the Bumble survived. I came down to see this…

It’s as if the Bumble is in the big time wrestling ring having vanquished his stuffed foes. He is looking for round 4 with Chester. Chester is not afraid!

Got your bunny!

On day 4 the Bumble crumbled. Chester pulled out the stuffing to find another toy inside! He revealed a red rubber type ball. Yes, hell almost froze over…4 days is a record for stuffed bunny annihilation.

Another successful Christmas for Chester

Another hopefully successful gift was the orthopedic cat bowl.

Our cat Milo sneezes and vomits frequently due to his cleft palate. He gets a lot of air and water where it shouldn’t be. If this can slow down the vomiting I’ll be happy. When I went to sleep on Christmas Eve Milo threw up on me. Nothing like a warm, wet, smelly spot that seeps through to your leg. Just one more nail in the 2021 Christmas coffin of events. But he can’t help it and he loves me as evidenced by the aforementioned incident.

The cats also got massaging combs. Amazingly they love them! Zeus usually runs when he sees the brush, and he sat still for me to comb him. It’s getting warmer and warmer in hell….

On Christmas we went for a walk in the park. It was warm and nice. I took some pictures of the winter view and Chester sniffed up and down the trail.

When we got home, having been revitalized by nature, I was sitting next to him and looked over…there was a tick crawling on my arm. I guess it was because we haven’t had a lot of cold weather. But really??? I almost lost my positive spirit. I have no silver lining for ticks. It was just one though, and then there were none.

This Christmas was not a Hallmark Christmas but it was our Christmas. Our chickens continue to blaze in the front yard and the Styrofoam Santa rules the family room. Chester is enjoying chasing the FIVE squirrels that I put peanuts out for who seem to think they can open the peanut bucket themselves.  We did get a coating of snow the day after Christmas so I think the fates are finished with their tantrums and are apologizing. I think 2021 wanted to get in all of the last remnants of suckiness that it could but now we can move on. Sometimes you have to let the flowers arrange themselves.

Have a wonderful week and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas

Tomorrow is Christmas. No, not a white Christmas. My NY kids aren’t coming back to Ohio due to COVID. Events are questionable and many cancelled. The local kids and grandkids are going to test for COVID in a bit to see if they can come over. But that will use up all their tests. It reminds me of a Seinfeld episode…is whatever sniffle, cough, or headache testworthy? Sheesh. Bad news is heard on every front–many people are working through grief and struggles. But it’s Christmas nonetheless.

In case you missed it. His 30 seconds of cooperation for the promise of Santa goodies.

Since it may help to know that some things remain the same, Chester seems in fine spirits, chasing squirrels and keeping the hawk away. I was baking cookies when he was outside. He stays out for a long time, and we often can’t get him in even by shaking the Milkbones. So I decided to go about my business. Wrong choice, dog mom. I heard him bark and this is the face I saw at the door.

The marks that look like icicles on him are not…they are snoot marks on the door. You’d think I was killing him.

Of course he has gifts coming…a special box purchased by my husband without my knowledge. He’s a softie. The kitties do too, just what they wanted I’m sure, a new comb, a toy, and some treats. This is what we do for Christmas, spoil the pets.

The Milk Bone box and can of cat food are empty. He took them off the counter and is hoarding them.

Spoiling pets is the one thing we can do no matter what the outside world throws at us. It’s all about paring down the rest of it. Christmas celebrating doesn’t have to be on one particular day…in fact most religious scholars think Jesus’ birth was not on December 25th. Shoot, alot of people have been celebrating since Halloween. We will postpone our visits and gift exchanging. Not sure about the tree. I’d like to leave it up until they come but in a week or two it may a little ragged.

See the source image

As for the actual Christmas? I feel a little weird wishing you a Merry Christmas if the Merry means partying and visits and celebrating. So maybe this year I’ll wish you a gentle Christmas. A peaceful, quiet, Christmas with at least a moment where you are touched by something special. It may only be a moment this year. But that’s OK, we’ll take it! That’s all we need.

Chester hopes his doggie friends have this kind of Christmas and dream of good things like bunnies and squirrels and treats!

The best Christmas contest ever and the squirrel threat…

They say a mother can pick out her baby’s cry from all others. That may be why at 6:30am I woke to Chester barking. It sounded like he was outside. I thought my husband would let him in but the barking continued with urgency. I got up to see if he was OK. My husband was at the door looking at him…out in the yard with a squirrel up the tree. Why on God’s green earth the stupid squirrels have to get up at 6:30am is beyond me.  I was mortified that the neighbors might think we left him out and were bad dog owners or that he would wake them. My husband went to make coffee and didn’t care one bit about the neighbors. He sat down to watch the news while I tried to get the hound in. I shook the Milk Bone box and called to him with excitement. I tried yelling “Kong, kong” over and over. Nope. The squirrel just sat in the tree clucking at Chester. Chester jumped up and down in the mud barking. Did I mention the whole yard is mud? From November to March. I went onto the deck with cat treats but finally went in, figuring that the vision of me in my pajamas yelling “Kong, kong, biscuit” would disturb the neighbors more than him barking.

What we didn’t learn until later is that those squirrels better up their game. They outsmart Chester easily and with glee, but recently we looked outside and saw a more significant threat.

Our new friend the hawk

This hawk has shown up before. My sister the naturalist says “you can tell by the relatively broad tail that this is a Red-tailed Hawk.  They are our largest of Ohio resident buteo (mammal-eating) hawks, so I am not surprised that you commented on its size when we talked on the phone!  The females are regularly larger than the males, so this is likely a female. Your squirrels better watch out! 😊” Oh no! Now I have to worry about the stupid squirrels!

We are having high winds here in Cleveland. My sister gets a certain pleasure from thinking about my little solar powered chickens being fine in the wind while the inflatables blow around the neighborhood. I take no pleasure in my neighbor’s misfortune, but I did take quite a bit of pleasure in the video of the bear attacking the inflatable reindeer. If you look up bear attacking reindeer inflatable you too can live vicariously through the bear. At this point, I’m right on the very thin line of love and hate regarding Christmas. One push and I’m rooting for the bear. That’s when the alcohol needs to come out.

See the source image

I wanted to take this opportunity to share what is one of our family’s favorite Christmas contests ever. It is destined to go down in Whitmer High School history. You see, my father was a high school English teacher for probably 30 years. The principal decided it would be a great idea and spread the holiday spirit if the teachers competed in a door decorating contest. My dad was all in.

My father was a fisherman. He had a mounted huge fish hanging on the wall of the garage. We kids thought it was weird but matter of factly lived with it, for the most part ignoring it. We ignored it for about 15 years when it made its grand appearance on the door of my father’s classroom. He had replaced the eye with a red light to give nod to Christmas. I’m not sure if he cleaned it up otherwise, but it was placed on a festive display of green and red shiny paper on the door of a high school classroom. The red light glowed as if a demon fish came out of the deep shiny green paper to leap into the pages of the English textbook. The ants in the room marched out to view the display of creativity and wonder.

The door did not win. The committee walked by but didn’t stop. My father was rather dismayed after all the hard work he put in with the eye and all. We just shook our heads and went about our day to day school trials, and the fish regained its place in the garage, albeit with a red eye. Ultimately I’m not sure what happened to the fish. It probably disintegrated to scales and cobwebs. But like a Christmas tree, it had its moment of glory. In our minds, our father won.

I don’t have a picture of the fish, regrettably. But here’s the next best thing. Chester was such a good boy to leave his antlers on for two minutes. That’s one minute and 30 seconds more than last year!

The reason for this cooperation is this:

Hang in there! Have a good week!

New Christmas decorations and Chester testing Santa…

I may have mentioned that for a few years I have wanted white light up deer for a Christmas decoration. I had the chance when our neighbor moved and was selling her deer. She put the kibosh on the sale though when she said “it’s just what to do with them after Christmas that’s the problem.” They put them in the garage attic which has potential for serious spousal injury. It was my golden opportunity and I did not buy them. Instead, I bought a leg lamp.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is thumbnail_img_2704.jpg
The major award in its glory

If you are familiar with the movie “A Christmas Story” (and who isn’t..somehow 24 hours of Ralphie and his bb gun strikes a chord at Christmas) then you will understand the leg lamp. The movie was partially filmed in Cleveland and I remember when they wanted extras. It was in the early 80s and they wanted people to come in winter old fashioned coats for the Higbee’s store and parade scene. It was the middle of summer so I passed. I could have been a star! At least we have a major award to call our own. But I digress…back to the deer.

My husband has inexplicably rejected the notion of the deer. He is a kind and considerate man, however. Last week when I got home he asked me if I came in the front door. I said no. He asked if I looked at the sidewalk. No. He asked if I noticed ANYTHING at all…no. He led me to the front door and showed me three little lighted objects by the sidewalk.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is thumbnail_img_2700.jpg

I wasn’t sure what they were…flames? Spaceships? That’s all I could come up with. He looked very pleased with himself and said “they’re chickens.” I honestly couldn’t do anything  but repeat…chickens? You know how in cozy mysteries or romances, someone always “sputters”? This is the only time in my life I sputtered. He said “I thought they would be bigger.” Three solar powered lighted chickens.  Here is a picture of a chicken unlit.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is thumbnail_img_2688.jpg

It took me a few minutes to wrap my head around the chickens in the front yard but I love them! They are unique in our neighborhood of inflatable Santas and snowmen, and of course light up deer. It was one of my favorite gifts ever! I think they are a reference to the napkins I put in his lunch. I make his lunch on the days he goes into the office, figuring if he has to drive in it’s the least I can do. Plus I have all day to rest up from the effort of making a lunch. Anyway, on the napkin I draw chicken man and his friends/family doing relevant activities.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is GetAttachmentThumbnail
a preview of coming chickenman activities

For example, chickens went to the summer Olympics. We had vaulting chicken, balance beam chicken, and flame carrying chicken. This morning chickens were having fun in the snow, making snow angel chickens, snow chickenmen, and throwing snowballs at each other. As you may have guessed we have snow!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is thumbnail_img_0044.jpg

Chester loves the snow. He runs out full speed, launching off the deck like he saw a bunny, and does zoomies around the yard. He buries his face in it and throws the snow in the air with his snoot. He eats the snow off of the deck or licks the ice. He then runs in the house and shakes snow all over. It’s pretty predictable overall. Last night though he was in a mood. He went out and in three times, getting a biscuit after each time. Finally, when he asked to go out again, I said no. I mean come on, enough is enough.

Image preview
It’s me again…

Usually when I say no he’s ok with it, jumps on the couch and watches tv, falls asleep or chews his bone. Last night he was not taking no for an answer. He went into the kitchen and brought out anything he could reach off the counter. He brought out kitchen utensils, silverware, baggies, whatever he could grab. He trotted out with the forbidden item and side-eyed us to see if we noticed. One of us said “No, Chester” and took it back to the kitchen. He thinks if we go into the kitchen, he will get a biscuit, so he prances into the kitchen with us. We do not reward this bad behavior but hope springs eternal. Kitchen = biscuit. The last hurrah was when he came out with the stick of butter. I grabbed it, slimy and all, and threw it out. I also said no. Then I washed my hands. Maybe not in that order. It was disgusting. He finally gave up and lay down by the fire, cuddling his long-suffering bunny.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is thumbnail_img_2710.jpg
As you see, he is wasting away to nothing without another biscuit..

He does not understand that Santa is watching. Dog presents are still at the North Pole. They won’t hit our house until the day before Christmas Eve, since someone would be insufferable in his quest to investigate.

Truth is, we could change this behavior, but his attempt at rebellion isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When we first got him he was pretty anxious and worried. My husband said last night that “he has grown into his own Chester skin” and is a true hound. This is true. A little badness is also his attempt at controlling his world, and it shows he is not afraid of us. Shoot, one of our past dogs ate a whole stick of butter AND a half loaf of bread. At least Chester spared the bread!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is thumbnail_img_2499.jpg
Just wait until tomorrow

Time to put the chains on my boots. While our street isn’t bad, I’m paranoid about falling. I’ve fallen twice and Chester didn’t do anything except take the opportunity to look for Enzo or a bunny. I could lie there for days, a lump in the snow, and he would run off and join a gang. The bad dog gang. Good thing he’s cute!

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!