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

Waiting to be cast and patience…

I saw a post on facebook that says anyone who doesn’t know what it’s like to wait never waited for a cast list to be put up for a high school musical. So true! I have been on both sides of casting and neither is easy. There is a knot inside and I have honestly peeked at the list with my eyes squinted, almost shut. I have devised a strategy that works for me.

First I audition for anything I can. Or at least I did before COVID. There aren’t many roles for older women to begin with. At least a mask would hide wrinkles, but theater is dark right now. But my thought is that if the odds are not in my favor, I’m going to use the auditions as my means to perform. I have an audience that has to listen to me, right? And they can’t say anything terrible to my face. So I go in and sing my heart out. It makes me strangely happy that they have to listen no matter how bad it is. Now don’t think “oh, I’m sure it was great” because believe me it isn’t. But I do it anyway.

Once I’m done, I tell myself I did not get cast. In all honesty you can sometimes feel it. There was one time I don’t think the pianist was even playing the same song (blame the pianist..). But sometimes you can’t tell. If I was really able to, I wouldn’t think about it but that’s not the way it works. You can’t help but start to think about how you would make the role/person come to life. How would I stand/sit/move to make the person real. Then inevitably, if it’s a decent theater, there is a phone call. If they want you, it’s the best feeling in the world and you won’t sleep; you’ll be busy looking at videos of your part. If you are not cast, they always say or send an email saying thanks and please audition again. I am of course disappointed, but it is amusing that they think they have to encourage me to audition again when I know they are wishing this old lady would just dry up and blow awy. But like the cat, I come back. Again and again and again. It s the stubborn streak in me I guess, I never give up hope. No matter how awful, there is hope.

I think the two candidates for President are standing at this point. One will be elated. One will be profoundly disappointed. One will be cast as the lead in a four year long drama. When the initial feeling wears off, he will have an awful lot of work to do. The idea of being president, like the idea of multiple shows, is daunting. The other will determine whether he has grace and maturity, as will the party leadership. Either way, it’s going to be awhile before the list is posted, and we are going to have to wait.

We are not a nation that likes to wait. We want everything now. When a crime is committed we want to know right away who did it. We aren’t happy with “black Friday” we need to go shopping on Thanksgiving. Patience may be a virtue elsewhere but it takes a certain understanding to be patient and we don’t have time for understanding. We want sound bites, we want everything now. We want a show. Waiting can be agonizing. As I write this someone is “calling” the race. I’m sure everyone wants to be first. I’m not going to celebrate yet; I think I’ll just be patient. I know the gentle good spirit would try to be kind in victory (once determined) but there was a lot of hate in this election. No, I am not the gentle good spirit right now. I want to be and will be in the future. I do think tonight I’ll thaw out some mini cheesecake bites we got from the grandson’s fundraiser and have a private moment of hope and wait for the final cast list.

Meanwhile, here are some photos of my husband’s birthday cake—after Chester pulled it off the counter. I came into the kitchen and he was standing there with his hound snoot buried in the cake. You never saw a happier dog until I took it away. We had a one layer cake instead of two but it was just fine. Honestly.

The doomed cake
Chester’s Halloween Bunny
Chester’s Halloween Bunny post-Halloween

Bob Ross trees and cheeky squirrels…

The rain has been steady here which is expected I guess for the cold, rainy season aka fall. Tuesday morning (it was still dark) Chester saw a bunny in the yard and chased it under the shed. The bunny was perfectly safe under there, in fact the bunny, unlike the hound, was out of the rain. Chester, possibly thinking he could facilitate bonding with bunny, did his best to crawl under the shed from all four sides. He wasn’t satisfied to go around one time, no he spent minimally 15-20 minutes out there running around to the different sides, belly crawling and pushing his snoot under the shed. He looked like a soldier going under barbed wire in basic training. Now stop and think for a minute…about a dog attempting to crawl under a shed when it had rained for awhile and under the shed is mostly mud.

I cannot describe the mud and the smell of the mud that emerged from his little escapade. He stood patiently while I used two beach towels and a bath towel on him. It didn’t work. He still was muddy, smelly and happy as could be. Nothing existed in his world except the joy of the bunny chase. He was really tired too. I tried to redirect him (if you are in social services you know that means drag him into another room while telling him he wants to go there) but he jumped on the bed anyway. Those bunnies exhaust him. They are just the highlight of his day/week/year.

The squirrels on the other hand are somewhat entertaining but do not intrigue him at the same level. Our neighbor feeds them and they are fat, mostly friendly squirrels. Running away from Chester is the only exercise they get. They go halfway up the tree and cluck at him while he bounces around below. They seem to know just how high he can jump. The neighbor brought over a giant sunflower head for the squirrels. I know what she’s up to…she’s trying to get them to bother us instead of them. The squirrels actually go into their garage and try to open the squirrel feed containers.  They are getting a little cheeky; there is a fat one who’s pretty aggressive. That one’s the ringleader. I picture them in little black leather jackets.

During a break in the rain I was walking Chester, and the color in the leaves was just overwhelming. It occurred to me that it was like Joseph’s amazing technicolor dreamcoat spread out over the land. We performed that musical three times and I still remember the song, red and yellow and green and gold and ochre and peach and ruby and violet and…etc. If these leaves are what the coat was made of, I see why the brothers were jealous!  One of the homes has two significant trees; a maple and a blue spruce. I call them my “Bob Ross Trees”. There’s something about the colors that makes me picture Bob Ross painting them. They do seem to be happy little trees. The pine is blue and when the maple is green it’s nice, and when the leaves are gone it’s OK, but when the leaves are orange/red the blue just pops.

While I am sitting here typing and trying to find words my cat is eating the plant. He will probably puke shortly. But I digress…

When the weather is grey I feel like my eyes are deprived. When I see beautiful colors I just stare to fill them up again. It’s like when we go to the art museum, I feel like I need to fill up on beauty. I stare at the paintings and feel the joy coming in. My ears feel like that too. Sometimes in the fall I listen to fantasy football radio more than usual to try to find the sleeper of the century, and then I turn on music and my ears have to fill up. There’s only so much fantasy I can take when my team, The Killer Tomatoes, is so dreadfully awful. How bad is it? It’s as bad as this joke:

Why don’t helicopters fly in the morning? Twirly.

 I feel myself rambling today and talking about basically nothing. COVID, politics, natural disasters, crime are all swirling around me and I’m talking about squirrels and leaves. I feel like I am in the eye of the hurricane with my mud puppy. It’s calm in my world, at least. Unfocused but calm.  I hope you can feel  peaceful vibes coming your way covered in leaves, smelling better than mud, and as beautiful as Monet. Fill up and have a good weekend!

The sunflower head
just nice color
the Bob Ross trees

Prime Day and the City Dog reunion…

This week included “Prime Day” the day when all that is holy ceases to exist. Not really, that just sounded dramatic so I wrote it. It was prime day, only it was for two days. Someone on the news said that “It’s like Black Friday”. They went on to say “Only it’s for three weekends”. What? I don’t think so. Prime Day was for two days and encourages us to purchase gifts and items from Amazon. Like I need encouragement…

My husband and I used to go Christmas shopping together at Toys R Us. Boy I miss that store. We’d have a glass of wine and then brave the crowds. One year we actually went to Target on Black Friday and it was awful. It was a surreal scene. Everyone’s eyes were glazed over, scanning the aisles for the one bargain item that everyone else wanted too. We witnessed a lady literally grab an item out of my husband’s grasp. We saw pushing and shoving and generally bad behavior. So we left, got some pie or something and went home. That was it for us.

I really miss shopping in person. I struggle with this every year. Every year I say “I’m only going to get gifts from local businesses.” But then I get pressed for time. Online shopping is just so easy. You type in what you want and it appears. No going from store to store, no standing in line, and why is JC Penny’s so dang hot all the time? K-mart used to be the store that I would go in and every muscle would tense up. I think it was the awful music they played.

Online shopping has its own trials though. I had an enormous cat tree in my amazon cart and ordered some sheets. I thought gosh, those sheets cost more than I remember. I didn’t mean to order the cat tree but boy oh boy I did. And, I am so proud that I put it together all by myself. Believe me, for a “directions challenged” person, that is a real feat. It’s solid.

I’m never sure when I buy gifts early where I put them all. I forget that I even buy them. Once I put a bag of gifts  up in the front coat closet. I found them on Christmas day not even wrapped.  I stealthily put them on the front porch and “Oh, wait look what Santa must have dropped!”

I have bought some gifts from ETSY already. My nephew and his girlfriend have a store on ETSY and I figure it’s a good half-way goal; it’s small business but online. I am going to order some things from local west side shops here in Cleveland. See, we are east siders. It’s about an hour to drive across Cleveland to the west. So I think that’s OK. Oh, and did you notice? It’s still OCTOBER and not even Halloween! I’m going to buy as many local gifts as I can, and I probably will fill in the rest with online stuff, it’s hard to find good gifts when I don’t know where to start. Meanwhile…

Chester’s City Dog reunion is this week. Last night was an ask the trainer session. Tonight is virtual doggie happy hour! The dogs are supposed to take part. We’re all going to sit in front of the computer and try to get our dogs to cooperate and look at each other. I’ll let you know how it goes. We had past City Dog reunions and I wrote about them. I’ll repost a picture (below) of Chester at one. If you want to know what City Dogs is, it’s dogs and their owners who adopted a dog from the Cleveland City Dog Pound/Kennel. It’s a really strong group, lots of encouragement for each other, and good ideas.

This is my first Friday post, my weekend goal. I also tried to make it a little shorter. That probably won’t last long though, I do like to go on a bit. I will try to stick to Fridays so you have some weekend reading. Think of this as a letter from a friend/grandma/mom/aunt/whatever. Have a good week, and if you bought out the store on Prime Day don’t tell me!

Skiing and a doggie song…

Chester is exhausted. Yesterday he spent the day at doggie day camp playing with about 15 other dogs. He thinks it’s his job to make sure everyone is behaving. I was watching on camper cam and he was barking at two dogs that were play wrestling. I could tell because his mouth was moving. Luckily there is not sound on the camper cams because 8 hours straight of barking would be torture. 

Speaking of torture, apparently two prison guards were punishing inmates by playing the song “Baby Shark” over and over. Now if you have not heard Baby Shark, stop reading right now and listen to this link: 

Now you understand. Yes, we as in grandkids and anyone remotely connected, are part of the Baby Shark universe. It is truly a universe, there are many videos and Nickelodeon is reportedly making a tv show. Grandson is going to be daddy shark for Halloween because hey, he’s three, he’s not a baby anymore. I start singing it if you even use the words baby and shark in the same paragraph.  Anyway, I heard the news story about the prisoners being tortured with it right before walking Chester. So Chester was the first one to hear the new doggie song! 

Puppy shark do do do do do do, Puppy shark do do do do do do, Puppy shark do do do do do do

Puppy shark. 

Doggie shark do do do do do do, Doggie shark do do do do do do , Doggie shark do do do do do do  

Doggie shark. 

That’s all I have so far, the lyrics are complicated and require nuance. I fully expect to go global.  

While I was walking Chester for some strange reason I thought about skiing. Water or snow? Doesn’t matter. I have been water skiing once and snow skiing twice. I have the same trouble with each. I was able to “get up” in water skiing, and was able to control myself going down the snow hill (granted it was a bunny hill, which might have been why I started thinking about it…bunnies) Then I got tired. At some point I realized that I was going to have to stop. I didn’t know how. Both times I let myself fall, and it worked out; at least I was uninjured.  I just let go of the rope and sank into the water, and on the snow hill I just sort of slowed down and fell to the side. Believe me, that wasn’t the only problem with skiing but I clearly remember water skiing and thinking, “now what am I going to do?” as I waved at everyone while going around the pond, adjusting my sparkling tu-tu bathing suit and making sure my lipstick was fresh like this..  

Yes, just like that! I was legendary. People came from near and far to see me work my magic on skis.  

I have used the let myself fall method for other experiences too. For example, when the COVID shutdown hit I went from full speed to nothing. I enjoyed it because instead of being too frustrated I let myself fall off the roller coaster. It was a needed rest. Now I’m reluctant to get on again. I’m in limbo. It’s like when I was trying to go back up the snow hill by holding the rope and my hands lost strength. I was stuck with the rope going through my hands holding everyone else up. A guard came up behind me and pushed me up the hill.  

The world seems to have moved on…sort of. People love the phrase “this is the new normal” but if they think there is ever or ever was a normal, they are mistaken. There is no universal “normal” any more than there is a universal favorite ice cream. I have a quote by John F. Kennedy at my office. It says, “History is a relentless master. It has no present only the past rushing in to the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.” 

My skiing days are through (actually never really started so that’s cavalier). First I am old and not athletic. Second, I can’t seem to get up the hill…when we tried the second time we went up the chair lift and I fell getting off, lying there like a slug in the snow while people cursed at me.  Maybe I need a guard who will come along and push me up. Then I’ll get back on a milder roller coaster. Right now I’m OK being swept aside for a bit.  

My sister called and inquired about a post because I have been slacking. Maybe that was the “guard push” I needed! I’m going to try to write every Friday since you’d have time to read over the weekend theoretically.  

Also, this morning we took Chester to Holden Arboretum. It was so amazing I would hold up Ohio’s fall beauty against anywhere. Below are some pictures of our boy who would not cooperate in posing for photos. He was too busy sniffing. Have a wonderful week! 

What are these?
Beautiful Ohio!
Oh Chester…