The wonderfully random world and the Huron River…

I have not been in a good place to write lately. I am not the type to be stressed. I’m usually calm and have coping strategies. But I have had to stop and breathe now and again. 2021 has thrown me a little. I am not going to discuss it with you, because I’m afraid the bitterness will spill out of me and that’s not fair to dump on you. That’s like vomiting; it doesn’t make anyone happy and you have to clean it up yourself while I go vomit elsewhere.  It reminds me of this picture:

A lot of people have been vomiting words. In my favorite movie “Amadeus” the Emperor praises Mozart but adds a comment. He says, “Too many notes.” Yep, we have had waay too many verbal notes and I have mentally suffered from the incessant voices and drama. But just when I think all is not right with the world, something comes along to knock me back into a better place. This week it was, of all things, an oil change.

I went to the Subaru dealer for an oil change after nine months of being overdue. This has been weighing on me since I squinted at the sticker and realized that not only the date was long past, but the miles were too. How did that happen? I haven’t exactly been driving. But although I really wanted to get an oil change (NOT) I waited until I thought the pandemic would be over. Still waiting. Finally feeling guilty every time I drove to Redi Go for a lottery ticket and having my car stare at me, resigned, made me want to change my bad car ownership habit. So I shuffled off to the Subaru dealer.

The Subaru dealer has two waiting rooms–count them– two totally separate rooms. Nobody was in either one. I sat down in the one with the air purifier (confession time; I thought it was a heater then figured I already contaminated the chair so I had to stay there). After about 10 minutes of playing Gummy Drop on my phone, an elderly (even older than me) lady entered the room. There were four seats, and a whole nother waiting room but she had to sit down next to me. Sigh. I pulled my mask around my face and shifted my weight to the other side. That’s when she started hacking up a lung. I swear I thought she was going to keel over right there. I was tharn, like a rabbit in the headlights, unable to move. I pulled my mask so tight that I think I cut off circulation to my brain which is probably why I stayed sitting there.

Next, she made a phone call. On speaker phone of course. She had to leave a message wanting to meet her friend/relative/I’m an investigator but feel like a failure because I couldn’t figure it out/person for lunch at Yours Truly. The last time I was at Yours Truly it was about 100 degrees inside. Kind of like a Denny’s but a little better and hotter. I mentally questioned her choice but apparently it was the friend’s birthday and she had a gift to give. She left a nice loud message then hung up. She had piqued my curiosity but what happened next…well some things…

She hung up, and a loud blast came from the phone. She pushed some buttons and the blast changed.  Blaring from the phone at rock and roll head-banging volume  was “A Horse With No Name.” She glanced over and asked “Do you mind?” I shook my head weakly. We sat and listened to “A Horse With No Name” at full blast in the waiting room of the Subaru dealer. Finally they called her name, and she stood up, said “I like your coat,” I said “thank you, my son picked it out” and that was that.

In that instant I remembered why I chose a people profession. People can be hateful. They can also be random, the kind of random that makes me shrug my shoulders and smile. Who was she? Who was the friend? What on God’s green earth made her need to hear “A Horse with No Name?” Some things are unknowable. But I needed that kick of randomness to knock me back into my reality. Kind of like a string quartet playing “A Horse with No Name” on the Titanic. That would be awesome.  We are OK, friends. Go ahead and breathe…

Now lest you think I forgot about Chester, we had a superb walk in Huron. We had the family Christmas, and had arranged a meeting point between Cleveland and Toledo to swap gifts. We chose a park that sounded great, so planned to take a walk. It was a bird sanctuary. Some of you in the know are nodding wisely…you guessed it, we arrived to see a big old “No Pets Allowed” sign. Really? I get it, the birds would be scared of Chester. I did wonder what other pets they are referring to…goats? Maybe horses, or alpacas? Anyway, we arranged to meet at the Shell station on Rye Beach Road and see if Google knew of another park. My husband’s British accent lady voice took us through what probably used to be a vacation cottage town and found a very nice park. A very nice PRIVATE park as the sign said. Remember the song “Signs”? The best part of that song was the “ugh” which I totally get now. I too am done with signs!

Back to the British accent lady voice. The third and final park was the jackpot. Huron River Park was just lovely, with a nice walking path and ice in a pond. I guess it may have been the Huron River actually since it’s called the Huron River Park. That just came to me…The ice kept cracking loudly. We freaked out at first thinking it was a Squatch in them there woods. But no, just ice… I think…I hope. That’s what my sister said, and she would know. We walked a couple miles, exchanged the gifts and I am now the proud owner of a cat eating a bunch of gnomes figurine.

Chester was so exhausted he slept in the car and all that night. He was so tired! I am including a couple pictures of him enjoying the day. It was great to get out. Between that and the oil change lady I’m feeling right with the world. It’s a beautiful place!

Chester looking for Bigfoot

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…

Drinking, Packo’s and yet another bunny…

Well, I missed my Friday post. What happened is that my husband made me drink a holiday ale from Great Lakes Brewing. I’m not sure if it was Octoberfest or a Christmas ale but it was good enough to drink way too quickly. Now two things can happen when I drink just about any alcohol; I fall asleep or I get a headache. Whichever happens first is 50/50. Friday night was the headache. I can do some things while waiting for the Tylenol/Aleve/Advil to take effect but posting a blog isn’t one of them. Going to bed however, is.

Did you notice I said “just about any” alcohol? There is one drink I happened upon years ago that doesn’t give me a headache, make me tired, or really have much of an effect at all, and that is Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey. We went to Lynchburg, Tennessee to a Jack Daniels tour of the distillery. It was fascinating, and it’s a beautiful area. At the end of the tour the guide told us to put one hand on the barrel and raise the other and vow never to drink anything else, and not to add stuff to the whiskey. We all chuckled and took the vow but a vow is a vow and I have never mixed it. Lynchburg is in a dry county, so we couldn’t buy Jack there, but just outside of the county is a liquor store. We stocked up and went to the next stop. That night we drank some whiskey and played poker with our kids in the hotel room. I found that I felt simply fine, no headache, no sleepiness, nothing. Ever since then, Jack has been my go-to at weddings, funerals, church, all staff meetings, and other events where I should not fall asleep. (I’m kidding about the all-staff meetings, really!!) 😊

I have not kept my vow completely. I drink Amaretto, beer, Bailey’s, and a little wine. Only white wine though because red wine makes my feet itch. That is truly miserable. The doctor said it was the tannins in red wine, so if you have that problem, there you go.  I can’t drink much anymore because my stomach is way more sensitive than it used to be. But now and again I’ll try a cocktail at a restaurant or have a small amount.

I have never had a problem with overusing alcohol, except maybe a couple times on New Year’s Eve, but things were different growing up. My parents loved to go to this little place in Toledo called “Tony Packo’s”. It’s somewhat famous because Jamie Farr was from there. For anyone young, Jamie Farr was on a show called “MASH”. At Packo’s, celebrities signed hot dog buns and they put them on the wall. They must have sprayed something on them because the same ones were there for years and never got moldy. Of course, Twinkies never get moldy either (Zombieland is proof). They can stick around forever. When I think about what must go into a Twinkie I wonder. If you ever want to stop eating forever, watch some of the videos about how food is made. The first one I ever saw was on Mr. Rogers at the graham cracker factory and I did not eat graham crackers for a good bit of time.   

Saturday night was when the Cakewalkin’ Jass Band would play Packo’s. My dad loved the music but there was a fair amount of beer flowing as well. They still play in Toledo as far as I know. The highlight of the night was when they would play “When the Saints Go Marching In” and they would parade into the women’s restroom. That was usually late in the night and everybody was feeling rather rowdy. We looked forward to it and knew not to go in there no matter how much we had to pee. The point is, we kids didn’t drink (I did get a Shirley Temple and pretended I was drinking a cocktail) but we probably could have gotten the real thing back then. Times were different. I remember going out after play rehearsal one day and got a pitcher of beer. None of us were even 18 then, but nobody cared. I poured the beer and remember one of the guys’ admiration because I knew how to pour it. All that studious observation at Tony Packo’s came through!

So back to Friday night…I can usually handle one beer unless I’m in Canada, then I can drink like a lumberjack. But Fridays are my “tied up in knots from the week” days, and it was Friday the 13th. If there had been a full moon it would have been worse. Anyway, I apologize for the late entry.

Chester….oh that dog. He was on a roll this week. Thursday morning, he chased a bunny in the back yard. There were leaves covering the usual Great Bunny Escape Hole in the fence and the bunny didn’t have time to stop and shuffle through leaves, so it ran under the shed. This is ideal for bunny but frustrating for Chester. He spent literally a half hour running around the shed trying to get the bunny who was probably sitting right in the middle smoking a cigarette. When Chester started to bark, I decided to try to get him in; it was 6:30am and the neighbors like Chester, but not that much. I shook the Milk Bones box, no success. I went out and tried to grab him, and he would just run around the corner of the shed with a gleam in his eye. My husband and I both had to go into work and were ready to go, so we went out together to tag team him. The first couple times he just put his head down and barreled past us, knocking us out of the way like bowling pins. Finally we blocked him in and my husband grabbed him. He was so happy about his escapade. Not too muddy either for once unlike my poor work shoes. The bunny left the shed at some point. Chester, I’m sure, slept all day dreaming of bunnies. His legs were probably twitching.

Below is a picture of a nice sunset Chester and I saw while walking. At least I saw it, Chester usually has his head down to smell the other dogs smells. I wish the colors came out better, but you will get the idea. Also is a pic of Chester and his new bunny or what’s left of it. He didn’t get the outside one, but he has made a mess with the inside one. This is not the Halloween bunny, this is a new one and this mess was made in one day! Everybody has a talent I guess. The cat food cans are his treasure. He gets to lick them. Have a wonderful week, stay warm if you’re here in northern Ohio. Go Browns!

Sunset at the end of our street
Chester’s latest bunny destruction