House painting and point of view…

It was the best of times..it was the worst of time. If you have suffered through any home improvement project (and who hasn’t?) you understand. We are having the inside of our house painted. The painters are doing a great job and if anyone in the area needs to know who they are let me know and I can hook you up. Personality-wise, they are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This was one of my favorite movies because it captures how successful relationships seem to work. (Paul Newman and Robert Redford don’t hurt either…) One talks more and has the big ideas, and has a vision. The other is quieter and tends to the details, like excellent painting. Both need each other to balance. If you think about it, most duos work like this.  Both are good at what they do but when separate their greatness is incomplete. For a mental exercise in the 20-degree cold, think of other duos and see if this is true.

Anyway, Butch (not his real name of course) made a comment suggesting that my husband and I have lasted sooo looonng because we are like that. (these youngsters, heh heh) He’s right. We knew this when we read the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” back in high school. If you aren’t familiar with the book, it explores the differences between what the author calls a “romantic” and “classic” view. The author seems to view himself as classic but he may have changed his view later in the book; I don’t know because it was a little boring and I haven’t read it for a very long time. To be honest,  I feel the same way about Monty Python, which my husband loves. I have never made it through Monty Python and the Holy Grail awake while he cracks up at the killer bunnies. On the other hand, he’s not as fond of watching Pride and Prejudice on endless loop. Regardless…my husband actually cares about how cars work. I want to get in, turn on the butt heat and go. I don’t even like scraping ice. I usually brush off the snow, scrape a hole I can see out of and crank up the defrost. By the time I get to the highway it’s clear. He cleans his windshield off completely. Both methods work, although some might argue his is safer. I’ll channel Scarlett O’Hara and think about that tomorrow.  

Not to criticize either philosophical bent– we complement each other.  Butch was right. This summer will be our 40 year anniversary and mostly happy. The times we were not happy was when one or the other did not respect the differences in outlook. But while we have different ideas, when we settle it the outcome is greater.

Back to the house painting. We are having the bottom of the chair rail section painted different than the top. The top is called “cultured pearl.” That is definite. But we are completely stuck between three greys for the bottom and the guys are coming back tomorrow to paint it. We are to the point where we are going to flip a coin; a Spanish doubloon John got from Santa.  Whatever the doubloon says is it. Or we could throw a dart at the wall blindfolded and see which one it lands on. We both see the beauty in all three. Decision, decision…the pressure is on.

By the way…did you hear about the three-legged dog who walked into a bar? He said, “I’m looking for the man who shot my paw.”

Sorry. Chester is just fine paw-wise. He must have lost his fool head going after the squirrel, threw caution to the wind, and stepped on something. He went to Camp Bow-Wow one day last week while the painters were here.  He made some friends at Camp; a black lab kept following him around and they were play-bowing, sniffing and jumping. We have been walking every day even in the bitter cold. We also went out to Lakeshore Reservation (where I made the video in the last post) with the grandkids. Chester is starting to cuddle more (he is probably cold), which is a mixed blessing as he is 70 pounds. A 70 pound lap dog is like a weighted (really weighted) blanket. Nice until you try to get up! Below are some pics from our outings, and a picture of the greys. What would you pick??

Make it warm mom!
Chester watching for the painters
the middle isn’t as dark as it looks and the “background” is the cultured pearl. ???
Watching the ice at Lakeshore Reservation

First jobs and a doggie poem…

For Christmas my son and his family got me a story making program that sends me prompts each week for a year. At the end of the year it creates a book. Cool, right?? The question this week was “How did you get your first job?” I morphed it in my mind to “What was your first job?”  That’s a good one! I had plenty of teenage jobs, did you? Were you good at any of them? If so, you were lucky. I was not exactly a stellar success at my “young me” jobs. For example:

Babysitting of course. Thousands of teen-age girls’ first jobs, including mine. We made about three dollars an hour. I was a terrible babysitter. Once I babysat a two year old and had to change his diaper. I had never changed a diaper. I called my best friend who had younger siblings and she tried to guide me through it. Unfortunately the little worm squiggled away and peed on the floor. I put a paper bag over it. I wasn’t asked back. Another time I wanted to go to Youth Group so I left the kiddo with my mom and took off. It figures that the parents would come home early. I was whittling down the neighborhood babysitting prospects one by one.

Luckily my best friend Suzie knew somebody and asked me to join her on my first non-babysitting job: selling bar tickets at the Toledo Yacht Club on weekends. I sat at a table and watched all the old, rich people drink and smoke. I was pretty good at that actually. But it was only a few weekends in the summer when they had events. Not sustainable for my Archie comic purchases.

I rode the 70s fashion craze and got a job at Spencer Gifts: think bright pink beads, peace signs, tie dye and shag carpeting. That was my bedroom…and Spencer Gifts pre-sluttiness and dark lighting. It was a new store at the time, so none of us knew what we were doing. The third or fourth week a woman brought her little kid in to have her ears pierced. By me? HA! When I got off the floor from laughing so hard, the manager told us to look at a card and follow the directions. That was the training. It started out with how to load the ear piercing gun. I was never good at following directions so I refused. Job over.

Otto’s Variety Store: Otto’s was a family run store I worked at for awhile. Big takeaway was that they sold Penthouse, Playboy and Hustler behind the counter with black/grey covers on them. Who knew? Certainly not me, I mean Otto’s sold literally everything so I shouldn’t be surprised but I was. It was my first experience with that kind of magazine, so of course I peeked. Hmm. “Old Mr. Otto” (as opposed to “Young Mr. Otto”) was about 80 years old and would sit on the corner of the counter with his shotgun. Probably so nobody would steal the penny candy in the open display shelves. Or to keep people from peeking at Hustlers. I didn’t actually get fired from this one, I was pretty busy and the hours didn’t work out. It was a Trilby area landmark though and probably the first job I cared about.

True confession; when I was a preteen before working at Otto’s my best friend and I went behind the library and smoked cigarette butts that people had dropped there. Only once, mind you. I was going home and my breath smelled bad so (hang my head) I stole a piece of penny bubble gum from Ottos. I felt so guilty that years later when I worked there I paid back the money. It had gone up in price to 5 cents but it was worth it. In all honesty this was the only thing I ever stole on purpose. I took a hanger from a hotel once by mistake but that’s it. Oh, and I accidentally picked up the Marriott information folder when I was on a work business trip and put a bunch of notebooks on it. That’s really it. But I digress…

Chester and I have been walking regularly in the cold, rainy, Cleveland area January weather. If we stayed in for bad weather we’d never get out. Once we get out it isn’t that bad. We sing songs and make up (drum roll please….) Doggie Limericks! Yes, Chester and I made up a doggie limerick, or I did while he was drinking out of a mud puddle. It goes like this:

There once was a doggie named Chester,

when we ate our food he would pester.

We told him to stop,

He grabbed his laptop,

And got a job as a food tester.

Yay me! The picture below is Chester walking in the cold. He does this thing where he shakes his head and a white string of drool flips over on his face. I caught him in all his glory before wiping it with a sacrificial poop bag. I now carry tissues for this task. Have a wonderful week, keep walking!

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!