Green space and Three Musketeers

Happy beautiful Sunday! Chester and I walked in Lakeshore Reservation Metropark this week, since it has been just a sensational weather week. In fact, I take credit for this sunshine. I have a cement goose on my front porch. Last weekend when the rain wouldn’t stop I put on the goose’s raincoat. The sun came out and stayed out! Fellow Clevelanders, you’re welcome!

Sometimes when it rains for a long time my eyes feel like they have a veil over them. When we went to the park, the veil was lifted. Everything was green, green, green.

It felt like my eyes were drinking in the green and I couldn’t look away. Sometimes I am starved for color. I just want to disappear into the green. To offset the green, we noticed the bright red and white trees in the parking area.

Lakeshore Reservation has statues resembling a sundial.

I wrote of them in a previous post, but I still enjoy seeing them. Chester likes the doggie statue (not sure if it is supposed to be a dog, but we have called it that for 30 years so it is now!) No he did not pee on it.

Boy, that is a big dog!

We went down a different path and discovered another statue that I didn’t know existed.

I’m not sure what it is if anything. Somewhere someone is probably laughing thinking that they just put a big rock there to confuse people like me.

Chester wants to go swimming in Lake Erie. Unfortunately the steps to the lake were still blocked. Next time…

Speaking of things that we didn’t know about, we went to the Allen Theater in Playhouse Square to see “The Three Musketeers.” If you plan a trip to Cleveland, be sure to check out Playhouse Square.

We decided that we had not been to the Allen before, and it is gorgeous. There is a rotunda in the center of the lobby. If you stand in the middle and talk, it echoes. We did not know that until one of the nice ushers told us then laughed at the look of shock on our faces. We played around a bit, then chuckled as others discovered it. Pretty cool.

In the rotunda

The play was good, much as expected, with a lot of swordfighting. I learned that in theater now there is an “Intimacy Director” position. I had not heard that before, but it makes a lot of sense. The Intimacy Director handles both romance and fighting scenes, making sure the actors know exactly what is going to happen and that they are Ok with it. This play had a lot of both. I was impressed by the over-and-above action scenes, an extensively choreographed undertaking. Yet it moved very quickly. This play was put on by the Cleveland Playhouse, the oldest regional theater company in the United States. We enjoyed ourselves and arrived early so I took pictures and we ate candy.

One Junior Mint escaped in my purse and melted on my lipstick. Ah, summertime! I typically keep chapstick in my car console (and in spots all around the house) just in case of an emergency. I hate chapped lips. I have to remove it from the car in the summer because one time it melted. Eww. Have you ever had anything melt (or freeze) in your car? I had a diet coke can freeze and explode once. That was pretty easy because I just picked up the ice chunks and tossed them outside. One time (and only one time!) I accidentally left fish in the car. It fell out of a grocery bag. Boy did that stink!

Anyway, I have verbally meandered into the dregs of my past there….after talking about the beauty of the greenery and the Allen Theater. Focus on the beauty! And have a wonderful week!

Odds and ends on a rainy Friday

We are at status quo here, so other than one quick rant about the rain, this will be a post of happy odds and ends.

OK, I’m done…

In our relatively small town lies a huge treasure. This pipe organ sits majestically in the Painesville Methodist Church.

I am told they have great organists in the church. This time, a nationally known organist, Tom Trenney, performed a concert last Friday evening. He grew up in the church, then moved on to great success.  The concert was wonderful. It occurred to me that while the organ remains silent for most of its life, it can roar to life when someone is brave enough to ask it to perform. It was hard to believe that a little man sitting at a keyboard could command that power. Kind of like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, except no fakery. I was lucky to hear something like this—extraordinary things can be found in small places.

Another extraordinary thing I noticed was the beauty of tulips this spring.

This is at Perry Methodist Church, where our bell choir plays. Someone went to a lot of work in the fall, and voila, it came to fruition. My husband has a soft spot for tulips, and while we planted a lot, many got displaced or eaten.

Our pretty tulips

I’m not sure how the church ones escaped being digested by neer-to-do-well critters. There’s a certain bit of faith involved in planting bulbs I guess. The people planted them not knowing what would happen or if they would even see the result.  In this case they bloomed into beautiful flowers.

While walking Chester I saw the biggest dandelion pod ever.

Chester was unimpressed

I admire dandelions and other wildflowers. I think they are pretty but many don’t like them. Yet just like squirrels and bird feeders, you can wage war but you will likely lose. Their tenacity causes me to respect the lowly dandelion. Remember putting it by your chin to see if you like butter? Maybe that was an Ohio thing…

I raked out my corner garden, leaving leaves in the grass before my husband mulched them with the lawn mower. Chester decided that he must roll on the grass where they were. Of course, being a true pet parent, my husband pulled out his camera.

Oh, Chester…

 I cringe when thinking of what Chester must smell and be rolling in. He’s a hound. But a happy hound! He was especially happy because our grandson bought him a toy. Or rather, since he is only 4 years old, he told me “I want to buy Chester a toy” and I bought it.

Chester loved it for all of about 10 minutes until he dissected it, removed the squeaker, and pulled out all the stuffing. I did not take a picture of the mess because I was afraid the grandson would see it and be traumatized.  Needless to say, Chester was a very happy boy.

This weekend is Mother’s Day. I am OK with Mother’s Day. Motherhood is messy, as is fatherhood. I enjoyed having children—the child years were the best of my life. I am loving being a grandma too. Part of me enjoys the independence of not having children rely on me. Another part gets mad when they don’t answer my calls.  Another part sees how hard my daughter in law works and manages the boys; she deserves a day of recognition. (lots of energy in those boys!! ditto for Father’s Day) Another part doesn’t want them to go to any trouble for me. So you see, I am full of parts! I usually just go with the flow because any time they call or we get together I enjoy it. I know my husband is making me eggs because he asked me if I would eat a poached egg. I said no. I’m sure it would be delicious, he’s a good cook. But…still no.

Truth be told, I have pets relying on me and that’s almost like children. People call them “fur babies.” That’s pushing my saccharine level a little high. I cringe but I do get it.  This morning Milo ate some treats then hopped on my lap. He rubbed his treat-smelly face on my chin so I rubbed my chin back on his head. If you have kids, did you ever have one wipe his/her nose on your pants? Even if it wasn’t your kid? Yeah….now it’s a cat. I tried to take a selfie of this expression of cat love but he wouldn’t do it with the camera watching.  Instead he looks all handsome. He’s a hound too. Ignore the messy hair, I’m trying to see if it will curl if I don’t blow it dry. Looks promising.

I guess that’s all of my odds and ends for the week. I am starting a new project and will tell you about it soon. I was hoping for this week, but not yet. Have a wonderful weekend!

Wordle and poison ivy

When everybody likes something, I typically don’t. I am typically wrong. Everybody from Hoda on the Today Show to Scooby Doo (OK maybe not Scooby Doo) raved about Wordle. My sister told me she played it and I poo-poohed it. Mostly because I had looked at the apps and couldn’t figure out if she played “Wordles” or “Wordle!” or another slightly embellished title. Finally I asked her and she said just to go to the New York Times and it’ll pop up. I acted as if I knew that, but a couple days later I did it.

This devilish little game is addicting. It’s really just guessing 5-letter words but there’s a little strategy. I pretend I’m on “The Price is Right” and can change the incorrect letters with Drew Carey cheering me on. I then share my result with my sister. She shares hers back which is almost always better than mine. As a middle child that must make her feel good, since second kids have to try to keep up with someone older who lords it over them and tries to make them feel inferior because they can’t do what the oldest had extra years to practice. Not that I would ever do that.

This morning I woke up at 4:19am. I reported last week that I had poison ivy on my arms. I was cavalier, stating that it wasn’t bad and I have had worse. LIES!! I started noticing that I scratched my arms in my sleep so I started wearing large Band-Aids that make me look like The Mummy. This worked but left my arms with red, Band-Aid sized, raised hive-like welts. I suspect I am either allergic to the Band-Aid, or my skin reacted to the added indignity of me yanking off the Band-Aid. Either way, I was between a rock and a hard place.  The itching has been replaced with pain that even makes me stop eating. The only thing that brings comfort is holding my sad arms under water. I think they are healing now though, they look better today.

Anyway, at 4:19am I awoke with an urge to scratch or cut my arm off. I could not get back to sleep so I went downstairs and did Wordle. The first word I typed in was death. It was all I could think of. Maybe I was being a little dramatic but it wasn’t the worst word to open with. I guessed the Wordle word in three guesses which I thought for sure would crush my sister like the boulder in Indiana Jones. But alas, she also got three. There’s always tomorrow.

At 4:19am there’s not much to do. I hung out with Zeus awhile. He was confused because I wasn’t feeding him.

I watched the news and learned that the Today Show was going to set a world record. For Earth Day (today) they were going to have the most people water a plant at one time. Yes, this is true. There is no current record (really?) so it was pretty much a given. I puttered around, read a few blogs and decided to change the bedroom around, then watched the happy people in the plaza water their plants. There was a group in Cleveland watering plants too. I was not among them obviously but there was a Cleveland Browns mascot or something dancing around. Probably trying to garner some good will since most people here are kind of sour on the Browns.

So what did I learn today? I learned three truths that I will add to my Mom’s List of Advice: 1) coffee is good, 2) don’t dismiss things without trying them (except for the stuff sitting out at the fair, the dips and such. No, No, No.) and 3) …I was going to write wear long sleeves and gloves when gardening but I’ll never do that. So maybe there are only two truths.

Chester is living his best springtime life, tearing around the mud after squirrels and bunnies, both real and imagined.

I’m a happy dog!

On Easter, the other Grammie and Pop-Pop gave him a treat. It wasn’t a bunny, but the next best thing.

He loved it. He ate it in about 3 minutes.

We have not been to a park with him lately but this weekend looks very promising. He did make another friend on a walk, a puppy named Toby (I think…the puppy was running around and the owner was calling her but seemed a little out of breath). Milo is bothering me on the computer. This is the look when he is about to sneeze all over me.

Ahhh…Ahhhh….

I have to hurry and cover my arms so they don’t have cat germs AND poison ivy.

Have an excellent week!

The Titanic Song

Since I mentioned the Titanic, people have decided I should know this song. Not “My Heart Will Go On” or anything like that. No, my friends have been eager to expose me to an old folk song, sometimes known as “Oh they built the ship Titanic.” It includes the lyrics:

Husbands and wives and little children lost their lives
It was sad when that great ship went down.

In the camp/scouting version this is sung to a cheery tune along with a call and response type chorus:

It was sad (so sad) It was sad (too bad!) It was sad when the great ship went down.

There doesn’t seem to be consensus on when it was written, but it was traced as far back as 1915. The Titanic sunk on April 15, 1912, so they must have decided there should be a song to commemorate it, as if people would forget. In the years since, it has apparently been taught to every girl schout, boy scout, and catholic camp kid, since many friends know it. It was included in the movie “Hud” with Paul Newman. My husband has seen probably every movie with Paul Newman and would likely remember it, but I alas did not. Until my friends decided to reacquaint me with it. Thanks, friends, it is now permanently stuck in my head. If you look it up on you tube you will see multiple performances, all sung with gusto. Delightful, kind of like “Ring Around the Rosie,” sometimes thought to be about the plague (although there is some evidence to the contrary). I know songs are sometimes about grim subjects (think of “Ode to Billy Joe”). I don’t know why exactly, maybe it helps us get through a sad situation if we make light of it. Anyway, I appreciate the sharing generosity that my friends exhibited. It is a little troubling that my friends invariably sing it with maniacal smiles.  I do hang out with some strange people.

The Titanic sunk 110 years ago today. I watched a 2005 video of footage shot of the sunken ship. It is eerie in its stillness. Doesn’t it seem mind blowing that after 110 years so much has disintegrated but the ship waits? Just about everything is gone if it’s underwater for 110 years. I saw some items that were sold that were on the Titanic. Millions of dollars were paid to buy them. The weirdest was a cracker that was in a lifeboat first aid kit. Yum. There were menus, telegraphs sheets, a doll’s face and some jewelry.

Sold for $7900

What will be left of me in 110 years? Probably not much. The doll’s face reminded me of a book I wish I would have bought:

We have referred to this book frequently at our antique shop excursions. We recently won a raffle gift at the antique coop. It’s a Spanish soccer player and soccer card. We aren’t sure if it was us or the grandkids who put the ticket in. In fact we don’t remember putting it in, or even seeing this major award! It must be worth something…

Speaking of excursions, Chester has been fine except for a stomach ache. He was eating grass the day after we went to Dairy Queen. I suspect his stomach didn’t agree with the puppy sized cup of ice cream they gave him. Everywhere we go he gets snacks. He didn’t throw up (thank goodness) and we cut back on the junk food, so he is back to normal. It’s a beautiful day (every day is beautiful!) and he has been getting longer walks. He crashes in his sunbeam or on the tile, depending on how warm he is.

I’m going back to sleep.

Great news on the Zeus and Milo front! For those who have heard me lament that they hate each other, we had an encounter that did NOT end badly! I opened the door to the bedroom and Milo darted out. Zeus was right there. Zeus hissed at Milo and ran in the basement. Milo ignored him! So we are going to leave them together for half a day first, then a whole day, and hopefully by the time we go on vacation, they can have the house together. We are going to feed them separately, because they eat different foods, but time to make friends, boys!!

Hrumph.

I am going to watch the Cleveland Guardians baseball home opener and try to ignore the poison ivy on my arms. I need a cone of shame for my hands to prevent itching. It’s not too bad though, I’ve had worse. Have a wonderful week! Go Guardians!!

The hardware store and jumping on the Titanic

We used to have a hardware store. Not a box store, although we do frequent those. No, this was the old-timey type of store. It had about three or four old guys working there who could find anything, and a couple high school kids. Anything you could ever imagine you would need was in this store. Boxes and bins of nuts, screws, bolts and washers. There was a paint section that I most often used. It had spray paint, wall paint, house paint, and probably finger paint. There was a key shop with fluorescent key guards, different key chains, and keys with Cleveland sports teams on them. It had a plethora of choices in every little nook and cranny.  It was named Major True Value but we just said, “the hardware store”. It was about 3 minutes from our house. I can’t count the number of times we would start a project then realize we needed something and run to True Value (sometimes more than once!) It had been there forever. Then came the strip club.

The strip club was on the right, True Value on the left, same building. Only a wall separated them. If you were looking for a mop you could clearly hear the boompity-boomp music through the wall and imagine the activity. I’m not sure when, but someone must have complained because a couple years later the music was turned down a little. Of course it probably depended on the crowd and who was dancing. I didn’t notice it as much, but I am getting old and hard of hearing so make of that what you will. I don’t know how many people protested the strip club or how vigorous the protesting was…I guess there was some. It didn’t have much of an impact and eventually petered out. The two businesses coexisted with one name change, then it went back to the original name, all taken in stride. The male patrons who were interested probably figured “going to the hardware store” was a truthful destination.  A win-win if you will.

Kind of dismal day but it looks better than it did… It has received a new coat of paint. Unlike the building on the left.

Sadly, someone set the strip club on fire. The guy at the nearby gas station who always is willing to shoot the breeze, said there was a lot of smoke and water damage. That was in 2017 but it seems like a lot longer. The paper said it was arson but I never heard if the person was caught. The True Value was closed (obviously the strip club as well) and the building remained empty. Recently there was some activity spotted, and it looks like there is a baseball facility and fitness center moving in. I hope they do well but I do miss the True Value. A good hardware store is hard to find.

This came to mind over the last couple days because I painted the stair walls and hallway. Chester was getting in the way as usual and my husband asked if he was lying on a wall I just painted. I said no, but somehow he managed to get paint on his back. ??? I don’t know. At least he has some white on his feet so it’s kind of natural looking. I’m trying to get it off but it’s sticky stuff. Oh well.

Oh Chester….

I’m painting now because I am going to be taking part in a production of Titanic the Musical (not related to the movie) so my summer will be busy. There is a charming theater out here that is a theater in a barn. Rabbit Run is the name. Its shows are top notch productions.  I have auditioned there many times to no avail, but I guess this time the part was right. I’m going to be playing Ida Strauss. We have a lot in common; she died when she was one year older than I am, she was married for 40 years (me too) and her husband owned Macy’s (I shop at Macy’s!) To say I’m excited would be a gross understatement. I’m so grateful to be able to take part in this and I am completely humbled by the talent in the show. The director did mention something about wool costumes in July, but he didn’t seem too concerned so I’m not either! If you are in the area, here is the info.

What else has Chester been doing? Drinking water off the deck.

Why??? He has a full water dish. Sometimes I wonder about that dog, maybe it’s spring fever! I guess I’ll take him through the CVS drive through—they’ll give him a biscuit. He stares them down until they weaken!

Yep, this is the stare!

Have a good week!

Handbells and the end of Cheezits

I have been changing the furniture around frequently due to a combination of boredom and a broken spring on a chair. Chester tolerates it pretty well but today I moved the couch while he was outside. I think he is confused because he decided to lay on the hard wood floor where the couch used to be. It’s only a foot away.

I spent Friday and Saturday at the Area 5 Handbell Festival in downtown Cleveland. I have played in a bell choir for almost 30 years. Most of the ringers in our choir went to the festival and had a great time.

The ding-a-lings (I’m so funny, right?)

The festival is split into classes and rehearsals (we are told the music ahead of time and practice on our own) and a guest bell choir performed for us. This time it was the Raleigh Ringers, a professional group who played lots of rock & roll. Honestly, they did…we sang along to Journey, Neil Diamond, and Guns n Roses. This merely pointed out that bell ringers aren’t necessarily singers, and nobody knows the words to “Sweet Caroline”, but everybody knows the “bu bu baaa” part. The Raleigh Ringers are going to perform in Chautauqua, and well worth seeing if you are in New York. We then played our concert Saturday evening. There were about 200 ringers or so. It went well and I’m ready to ring again! So much fun!! Our choir is only four octave so we don’t have the giant bells and chimes, but the Purdue Bells were right in front of us, and they did.

Those chimes were incredible.

We spent money too, on tye-dyed gloves, t-shirts, and other fun stuff.

I wanted Chester to be the hand model but he declined.

We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel attached to Terminal Tower in Cleveland. It was OK except that there were only a few elevators. When 200 ringers who usually go to bed at 9:00 get out of a concert that lasts until 9:45, well, it does not bode well for the maximum weight limit. There was a mile long line to get on them, and I had a box of Cheezits, so my stand mate and I thought we may as well hit the hotel bar and wait there. At dinner I had a peach something or other drink.

I probably drank it way too fast.

We then visited the bar, yada yada yada and I was late to the 8:00am rehearsal the next morning. I didn’t yada over the best part…the peach something was amazingly good. On the other hand, I will never eat another Cheezit. Ever. It is now on my list of banned items along with corn nuts and Bugles.

Outside of that glitch in the well laid plan, and after talking the coffee guy into filling my travel mug with Starbucks for 3 dollars, I won a Cleveland trivia contest. I probably should have disqualified myself being from Cleveland…I suspect the others were from Kentucky, Michigan, or Indiana. I snuck in late and the presenter didn’t ask. Besides, the prize was a cute t-shirt….

Chester did better modeling the shirt.

On the home front, little league baseball started up for grandson 1.  I admit to loving baseball in general, probably genetic. Little league is so nice, sitting outside and taking grandson 2 to the river next to the field now and then. Of course, when it gets hotter the bugs come out and the river doesn’t have the same appeal. We don’t usually take Chester, but we may try it this year. He would want to lick all the kids and would distract them, but he’d love the river.

Chester and I went for a long walk today and only saw one other doggie. It was beautiful outside so I’m not sure why, but we did hear some hounds pitching a fit from inside their houses. When Chester hears a dog barking at him from inside a house he stops and looks at the house. He doesn’t want to keep walking for a few minutes.

This is the look he gives them.

It’s like he enjoys making the other dogs bark. Maybe they are saying something interesting in dog language. Or maybe he is just taunting them. Not sure.

That was my weekend, and I was pretty tired. I absolutely love the bells so it was worth it. But now, I’m going to give Chester some extra hugs and kisses. And maybe a little ice cream. Did you know today is National Ice Cream Day? Isn’t every day? I would also like to tell him a story about the exploits of a sweet little dog who tolerated the eccentricities of his rather unusual but lovable owner, and was a much more cooperative model. It’s a good story for a good dog. ❤

The ramp in the driveway

One of the top stories of the winter Olympics was the retirement of Shaun White, the “Flying Tomato.” Shaun White is a world class skateboarder and snowboarder, having won pretty much any medal there is over the last couple decades.  He ended up fourth in this, his last snowboarding Olympics.  I cannot snowboard, and never could. It’s not for lack of trying…actually it is. I never tried. I admit it. I tried skiing with less than stellar results. After that debacle I figured that me snowboarding would produce less than less than stellar results.

In the 90s, snowboarding was not a sport in the Olympics. It became a demonstration sport, then official. Like many other kids, our son wanted to try snowboarding. My husband and two sons went to the local ski hill and rented snowboards. According to my husband, he and the snowboard-interested son had less than stellar results. Of course the oldest child (come on, there’s always one) who didn’t particularly care about snowboarding, hopped on and zoomed away. This was the last time my husband went…and the snowboarding son decided to concentrate on skateboarding.

When I was young, there were skateboards around. It was a “boy thing” like so many physical activities back then. I did have metal roller skates that clipped onto my shoes. I used to skate around on the driveway and street. I had the “arms out and bent” strategy to deal with the bumps and potholes in the street.

I kind of enjoyed roller skating which was why at the age of 30+ I thought it would be a great idea to take my kids skating at Laura’s Roller Emporium. Laura’s was a roller rink in a squatty little building, with colored lights and loud music and designated skates like “couple skate.”

This is the actual inside of Laura’s which is now under a new owner.

The elementary school would raise money by hosting skating parties for their school. The boys went to a few, so I thought I’d take our much younger daughter with us.  If you have ever tried to skate with a child hanging on to you with their legs flailing like Fred Flinstone trying to start a car, and were able to remain upright, you are a better person than I. I realized this pretty quickly and left the boys to their own devices. The much younger daughter skated around on the carpet. I sat down and watched them while eating M&Ms from the vending machine. I don’t remember any serious injuries. They played a game called the “magic circle” which involved skating to one of five or six circles and sitting down. Right, sitting down on the floor and getting up again on skates? I could barely do the “turn yourself around” part of the hokey pokey. The grand prize for being in the randomly selected circle was a gift pass to come back to Laura’s again. I spent many Hale Road Elementary Skating Parties sitting, eating junk food, and mentally grooving to “Turn the Beat Around” and other gems. But I digress….

I don’t know where it started, but the skateboard inspired son had the brilliant idea of building a skateboard ramp in the driveway. My husband, a “never say die” kind of man, agreed that this would be a great idea. He helped the son build a ramp that took up a large part of the driveway. The oldest son probably helped too, as that is what we oldest kids do.  I was not paying much attention to the project but seemingly overnight we had a skateboard ramp and metal rail in front of our house and garage.

I guess one is the loneliest number, so another one was created…

The son had friends. The friends came over and skated. Frequently. They were good kids, or at least I thought they were. Do parents really know? They took pictures of each other conquering the ramp and rail. We had absolute saints as neighbors. At one point our neighbor came over and very apologetically asked if they could stop skateboarding at 9:30 or 10pm. She was a bus driver and had to get up early. I cringed, realizing that what had become “white noise” to me was quite possibly an inconvenience to others. They did tone it down, and except for one time when they had a backyard rock concert it was quieter at night.

Anyway, seeing Shaun White retire gave me pause. Our son does not snowboard or skateboard anymore (to my knowledge!). I miss the days when something was always happening at our house. The skateboard ramp is long gone and we are quiet neighbors now, boring some might say.

Shaun White expressed admiration for the younger snowboarders and said that what was great back then was nothing compared to what they are doing now. During the last snow, the two grandsons were taking turns snowboarding down a very small hill, and then the slide (I know, thank goodness mommy didn’t see).

Pretty good form for a preschooler!

I wonder if one of them will be the next big thing? It makes me want to belt out “The Circle of Life.” I’m sure their parents would just LOVE a ramp in the driveway! I’ll have to broach the idea…

This is what Chester has been doing.

What?

He has been lazy with a capital L. He goes out, stands on the deck, then comes in again unless he sees a squirrel. The youngest grandson bought him a “bunny” at Petsmart and chewing it up was the most energy he has expended in a few days. I think he has a case of the winter blues.

Keeping new bunny from getting away while he sleeps.

It could be worse though, several years ago we visited our kids in NYC in February. We decided it would be FUN to go to Coney Island. The wind was whipping up and it was NOTFUN. It was kind of cool though (literally) and we did eat hotdogs. I think you can feel it in this picture.

It’s almost March and spring is coming so hang in there and have a good week!

Jazz records and a new tattoo

Life is good for Chester.

I was attempting to change the sheets when he decided to take a nap. I got the first two sheets on the bed, then he flopped himself down. I continued with the blanket and comforter, thinking he would move. I was woefully mistaken. He stayed like that until he heard the refrigerator door. Yes, life is good for Chester.

I have restarted a daunting project. My dad collected jazz record albums. When he died, my son asked if we could take the albums. Of course I agreed. I thought the son would eventually take the albums to his house and enjoy them around a fireplace with a cocktail and slippers. What was I thinking??  It seemed like a good idea at the time. You should know however that there are over 900 albums and the son shares a NYC apartment with two other people. If A+B=C, then you can follow the logical conclusion…the albums continue to occupy space in our house. In my clean, clean, clean frenzy, I decided it was time to sell, sell, sell! So it began.

Part of the collection

In 2011, before he moved to NYC, our son and I attempted to document the albums, something my father was never able to accomplish. Plus my dad didn’t really care. We started a spreadsheet and began with the last name of A…We made it through the letter M, then the son moved. So they sat. I decided about a week ago to finish what we started. This entails handling each album, recording the performer, the title, the date, the recording label, and notes like other collaborators. I am halfway through the Ts.

dog
Milo is supervising. It’s hard to work when he is sitting on the records. Can’t be good for the records. It’s OK, he’s a cool cat.

While searching for the date of the albums, I noticed that the old records (most are from the 1950s-80s) have extensive commentary on the back of the album. The front looks something like this one,

And the backs look similar to this:

Not the same album, obviously…

Sometimes my dad would make notes on the album, like “piano player is good” or “??” I began to read some of the information on the back.

When I was playing cello in an orchestra, during a rehearsal our very dear conductor, Ralph Katz, grew frustrated with the violins. We were playing “March” from the Nutcracker Suite. Now in “March,” if you start out at a proper tempo worthy of John Phillips Sousa, your violinists are going to struggle a bit in the middle. Since we were a community orchestra, they struggled mightily. One rehearsal night Mr. Katz (always Mr. Katz, never Ralph to me) placed his baton firmly on the stand and said “It’s just so much noodling! Quit noodling!” (For the record, cellists are physically incapable of noodling.) Reacting in typical cellist fashion, I thought it hilarious and “noodling” became a staple in our household vocabulary.

Jazz to me was noodling. Just sooo much noodling! I did not appreciate it, figuring that if someone took the time to write a perfectly good melody, why should it be changed? My dad however played jazz non-stop except when hockey games were on tv. I was a jazz rebel, preferring instead the complex musical stylings of “The Archies”. My dad, ever the gentleman, understood somehow that it was part of the kids contract to hate your parents’ music, and didn’t push it. He was happy just to listen himself and why not? He controlled the record player. We had our 8-track tapes, the latest and greatest in musical formats.

Yes, this is a vintage 1977 8-track tape. Remember the “clunk” when it switched sides?

Now that I see and touch these albums, I am starting to appreciate his incredible understanding of the intricacies. I’m finding that I (gasp) want to listen to these records. There was a whole part of my dad that I didn’t know. I wish I could go back and discuss them with him. My son and I were going to document these to sell them. Now I want to listen first. I’ll never listen to all of them, but maybe one per artist. We’ll see. The thing is, jazz was a part of who my dad was. I only knew or realized the other parts. How much more didn’t I know about him?

Changing topics, I got another tattoo! It’s an arrow. I got it because it reminds me of how honored and proud I am to have worked in the best unit in the county, the MUI (Major Unusual Incident) department. I learned so much from them and it makes me happy that we were able to make a difference. The people I see now did not know my work self. I was using a different part of me. The tattoo reminds me of who I was and still am. I guess we all have a lot more layers than we can show.

The wrinkles are from the plastic, not from me being old.

Chester, however, has no layers. His whole being is an open book. This is his “you are eating something I want” look. He does not use this look when I eat yogurt. If the force was with him my hand would slowly and uncontrollably move the bacon to his mouth.

You know I’m here, right??

This is his “I just came in and am one second away from doing zoomies around the house” look. See the wild glint in his eye? Only to be tamed by running full speed and leaping on the couch so it slides across the nice hard wood floor. Wheee!

Hi Mom! Got to run!

 Since no proper Cleveland resident can fail to mention the weather in any conversation, we are above freezing. The snow is starting to melt. Chester has decided that it is a good idea to take his bunny outside and play with it.

He snuck it past me. Then he leaves it there and I have to get it. I tell him to get the bunny and he looks at me like this:

You’ve got to be kidding. It’s cold out there.

Have a wonderful week!

Procrastination and a vet visit

I woke up at 6:00am yesterday with two things to accomplish—starting this post and taking Chester to the vet. Keep in mind that the latest drama on the news was (yawn) snow again here in Cleveland. Gosh, it’s early February and there’s snow? I can’t imagine. Needless to say, after the mega buildup by the weather and news media, including dire warnings to stay off the roads and hundreds of school closings, I awoke to maybe a few inches. They are trying to save the story by saying it’s going to last all day. All day? According to Groundhog Phil it’s going to last 6 more weeks. But one of the things I absolutely love is sitting in my pjs, drinking Peet’s coffee, and watching the snow come down, without having to go anywhere. I get a kind of pleasure out of watching the reporters standing out in the snow to report that it is snowing and we should stay in.

Actually the reporters were right and it snowed all day. Chester rolled in it.

Anyway, I got up at 6:00am, and by 8:00 (am, not pm) I took a shower. Mostly because I was afraid the vet would want Chester earlier due to the prediction of bad roads. What is wrong with Chester you ask? He has a hot spot on his arm just above his paw. It’s been there for two weeks, with no change. We thought it was OK, but it was not really healing so the vet thought she should check it out. I wanted to be dressed at least by 4:00, the appointment time. Vet appointments are precious nowadays and they probably frown on coming in pjs.

After the shower, you would think I’d be ready to write. I thought so too, in fact that’s what I told my husband. “Turn off the Today Show, I’m going on the computer!” But I had to check my email first. This led to a deleting frenzy then to a video game. An hour later I realized I was procrastinating.

Procrastination. I start with good intentions but if the dishes need doing, the birds need to be fed, I wait to see our school district closed on tv (even though I no longer have kids in school…old habits die hard), the laundry needs to be sorted, and the kitty litter scooped, I get sidetracked. If I think I want to get something done, my cousin’s words go through my head, “Your future self will thank you for it.” This is a frequent mantra but my future self also procrastinates so she has not thanked me yet. I don’t want her to feel overwhelmed with the thank yous, so I’m taking it easy.  

I know one solution thanks to a class I took. Eat the Frog.  Someone said that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning it’ll be the worst thing you do all day. This has been linked to Mark Twain but was around in various forms earlier and is not believed to have been uttered by him originally. The point of the quote was to do the hard thing first (hard meaning what you don’t want to do). Well gee whiz, I can’t argue with that froggy logic even if it is a disgusting and awful quote. Of course, if you procrastinate long enough you will die and won’t have to do it at all…. Just another option to explore.

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This frog has the right idea.

A book I read suggested that procrastination could be a fear of closure. People procrastinate because starting is the hardest part. We get comfortable doing what it is, but when we finish, we have to start something else. Or, we don’t want to finish something because then it is over and for some reason we don’t want it to be over. Procrastination can also be a means of control, or a passive aggressive response. Either way, there is a reason we don’t want to do something or finish it. If we discover the reason we can face it. I don’t remember how to face it though. Maybe I should go read that book, let me go look for it…aaarrgh! I’m doing it again! Too late. I found it!

This is an old book, but there’s still good in it.

Writing this blog is not a “frog” to be eaten. Our former beagle, Abbey, would have eaten it. Beagles eat anything. Once she tried to eat something mouse-like but I saw the tail sticking out of her mouth. I rescued the exceptionally lucky critter (it was still alive and quickly ran off). The beagle never forgave me for taking her prize.

I miss you too, sweetheart. You and Chester would have been best buds!

No, a blog is not a frog. I love writing and telling stories. But since I retired I don’t have a boss to assign projects, or a schedule. You would think that is a good thing and usually it is. But I have a hallway needing paint, more pictures to sort (I swear they multiply), and closets to clean that would tell you otherwise. The problem with retirement is that there is a fine line between well-earned relaxation and laziness. The first months I have erred on the side of laziness. I feel lazy. I see the projects I wanted to complete sitting undone, and I feel worse. I think it’s a form of procrastination. So instead of procrastinating I will write about it. Hmm, something is amiss…I’ll have to think about that tomorrow.

I said Chester likes the snow…here is proof. He goes out and before doing anything he buries his face in the snow. Why, Chester, why? I guess dogs can’t drink coffee to wake up!

As for his vet appointment, it was a dog party for Chester! My husband and I sat in the room while the vet took Chester “in the back to see the girls.” We heard laughing and when he finally came back to us he was carrying a squeaky pig (aka bunny) and reportedly had several treats. He is fine. He has to take antibiotics and an antihistamine for the itching. We have to take him back (for more treats) in two weeks. He is most agreeable! Stay warm and have a wonderful weekend!

Snow adventures and a bad movie

Chester and I have continued to walk even after the snowpacalypse of the last week. It has been cold and snowy here. Chester likes the snow except for one thing: he can’t find a place to poop. Before the snow he pooped on the grass. Now, this is all he sees.

Not all grass is created equal either. There are some spots that are waiting for him, but he doesn’t go there. After walking farther than usual, he leaves a deposit on the mushy part of the snow. Not ideal but easy to pick up.

I thought maybe he was getting bored with the same old route and decided to take him to the other side of the tracks, that is across Bacon Road. I made a critical error in thinking. We crossed Bacon to be met with a two-foot snow wall. Obviously the snowplows had been by.

OK, it wasn’t quite this bad…

Cars were coming so I pulled Chester over the wall. Unfortunately, the snow on the other side of the wall was deeper. It had not been touched and was up to my knees and Chester’s chest. He tried to turn around toward the road, but we had to walk at least to the next street because I couldn’t brave the Bacon wall again with the traffic. I wasn’t sure we would emerge intact. So we slogged on to the next road. It was rough going. It was like walking through a ball crawl if the balls weighed several pounds each. I either had to lift my leg above the snow, or scoot through with a wiggle-wiggle squish-squish movement.  Poor Chester would take about three leaps in a beautiful deer imitation, then peer longingly over the snow at Bacon Road. I almost called my husband to pick us up but I never would have lived it down. We plodded on. Finally, we reached the little road that opened to Bacon.

We crossed Bacon, but there are no sidewalks on Bacon Road. Luckily there are driveways. It was wall, driveway, wall, driveway. We stood in the driveway of a house, then in between traffic, we hustled to the next driveway. We would wait there for a break in cars, then do it again. I’m glad I played so much Frogger. Finally we made it back to the development and walked down the middle of the street with pleasure.

I can’t complain since Lake and Cuyahoga Counties do a pretty good job of snow removal. I grew up in Toledo where they just toss some salt on it and call it a day. We are technically in the “snow belt” and lake effect snow is a real thing, so our crews are ready. You may have missed this news gem: Ohio Turnpike decided to name their snowplows. The Turnpike commission asked the public for ideas in a naming contest. The winners were announced. They include Darth Blader, Snow Force One, OH snow you didn’t, Snowbe Wan Kenobi, and Plowy McPlowface. I’m telling you, in Ohio we love our plows! Now kiddies can say “Oh look mommy, there’s Plowy McPlowface!” and “way to go Sir Plows-a-lot!” (Yes, that was another winner.)

Snow More Mr. Ice Guy, named by Sebastian Calo of Cleveland Heights, is at the Boston Maintenance Building 6 in Richfield.
One of Ohio’s finest, Snow More Mr. Ice Guy

With all the snow, there are limited opportunities for entertainment. Our kids went sledding with the grandkids but 1) it’s cold and 2) we’re old. That sounds like our mantra: it’s cold and we’re old. We could ski, but..(repeat mantra.) We could go to a bar or something but we’d have to go outside and..(repeat mantra). So, we watched movies.

There are bad movies, there are baaaad movies, and there are movies so awful that they would have to work to rise to six feet below bad. Such was “Snow White and the Three Stooges.” This movie was not one like “Plan 9 From Outer Space” which many believe is the worst movie ever. Not even close. This made Plan 9 look like an Oscar winner. This was also not bad in the vein of the Three Stooges being bad anyway. Like, what do you expect, it sounds bad from the get go. That doesn’t do this one justice.

A side note, I have yet to find a female who enjoys the Three Stooges. Guys laugh at it like it’s uproariously funny. I don’t get it. Even our daughter, who my husband tried to indoctrinate, thought it was ridiculous and turned away. And she was only four years old.

No, this 1961 movie was literally the worst I have ever seen. It was like a train wreck. We couldn’t look away because we wanted to see the next horror they could pull out. And pull out they did.

The one with the remote won’t change the channel.

The Three Stooges were hardly in the movie. Although this should make me like it more, by the end I was praying that the Stooges would reappear.  Please, please, I’ll never ask again, bring on the Stooges! The movie starred an ice skater, Carol Heiss, who was coming off an Olympic gold medal performance. They tossed in a couple songs thinking a musical number or two would show the sincerity of the plot. If only there was a plot. Neither Ms. Heiss nor Prince Charming could sing. They were dubbed by a singer from the Lawrence Welk Show and some other poor soul.  It was like a lip sync festival.  

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A world of beauty and rollicking fun for everyone! Why is this in black and white? And yes, there was a witch on a broomstick in the movie.

Not being a singer, Ms. Heiss was cast to try to meld her ice-skating fame with that of the Stooges in their final years of dubious popularity. Sure, ice skating/stooges/musical. Skoogical! Sounds like a winner! To capitalize on her skating, they put a dream sequence in the middle of the movie. It was in oranges and yellows with an exceptionally long (or maybe it just felt like that) skating number involving some children sliding around. When the dream was over, it was back to the Stooges plonking each other on the head with assorted cabin items. While Snow White was busy happily cleaning the house (ugh) the Queen’s accomplice turned the Queen into a witch at the Queen’s request with his magic sword that went woo-woo-woo and radiated green and white light. Snow White must have eaten the apple because the next thing we knew the Stooges were mourning over her dead but remarkably lifelike body. Luckily Curly Joe (Stooge fans are groaning) got hold of the sword and saved the day (whew! I was worried!)

Needless to say we watched it to the end. I’m not proud of that. But honestly, I laughed harder than I do at bad karaoke. Granted, some of it was bad karaoke. I highly recommend it to those of you (and you know who you are) who have a warped sense of humor and a couple hours. Well worth it!

I have been posting on Wednesdays, which sort of works for me, but I decided to change it up. I’m going to go back to posting on Fridays. I greatly appreciate you and thought you might have more time to read on the weekend. Meanwhile, here’s a picture of Chester after “The Snow Wall of Bacon” walk. Have a good week!