Chester’s ticky adventure and worm heaven

When we went to Clear Lake Cottages in Northern Ontario, my father would make us dig our fishing worms from under the cow pies. He wasn’t trying to be mean, he did it too. He truly thought the worms would gather under the cow poop and digging there was a really good idea. I have no thoughts about this theory that can be expressed in a g-rated blog.

I can testify that the best cow pies were to be found just on one side of the cattle crossing. The cattle were to be kept on one side of the gate so as to keep them from coming into the camp and foraging amongst our garbage…or maybe that was the bears. At any rate, there were bars with openings that apparently cattle shy away from, like vampires and garlic only wholesome. So the cattle would poop a lot on their side of the gate while plotting to overtake the camp. My father in his wisdom named this area “worm heaven.” He would stop the car at the gate and call out “worm heaven” then drive on muttering about no passengers getting on or off the car. This exempts the blackflies and mosquitos of course. They rode for free.

Cattle crossing, not worm heaven. Worm heaven was not paved.

My sister visited us for the last couple days and we have had an experience of nightmarish proportions. Chester walked through some high grass and got a couple ticks. I can hardly type the word…I go into a genuine freak-out mode with ticks. I don’t care if you never saw a tick in your life, you would know what it is. Thank goodness she was here to ground me a little with comments like, “oh I’ve probably had a thousand ticks on me.” She’s a naturalist so ticks are old hat. Seriously though that did help. Plus none of them were embedded thank you God.

We examined every inch of poor Chester, and the couch. I had taken him down Bacon Road which is a known ticky area but usually not this early in the year. And he never had more than one. I had brushed one off of him but either there were more than I saw or this was the magical reappearing tick because I had one on my leg and arm too. EEEEEEEeeeeee. Kim flushed them and we both started feeling a little itchy. But we had identified the area and the time of the attempted hijacking of the dog by the beasts, and we were pretty confident we had them all.

The next day we went to Holden Arboretum to see the stickworks, an art piece made of willow branches. It is very cool. Here is a picture of my sis in stickworks. I may have posted one of these before, if so pretend you didn’t see it, and if you are an older reader you probably forgot anyway, I know I did.

 We had a wonderful walk and got a free Redbud tree for Arbor Day. We came home, dropped off Chester then went to lunch. When we came back, I went to pet Chester and there was another tick! This was a new kind of tick and my sister the naturalist seemed more concerned. Then she found one on herself which got us both feeling buggy again. ARGH!! She took pictures of this one but I won’t torture you with a pic, I would have to block myself. I was on the phone to the vet immediately begging for some Bravecto flea and tick medicine since I tore apart the pet closet and realized I was out. They were most accommodating and we dashed there (as fast as we could while fuming at the stupid 35 mile/hour speed trap in Madison…) got the Bravecto and rushed home. I ran into the house and gave Chester the supposedly dog pleasing flavored pill which he promptly spit out. I covered it with peanut butter. He licked the peanut butter off and spit it out. Honest to Saint John what was wrong with this dog??  I covered it with peanut butter, wrapped bread around it and made him do a trick. That worked; he spit out some but ate most. I repeated the peanut butter prompt and it was successful. I haven’t seen a tick since, so I think we caught them with no harm done. I washed and dried the clothing and vacuumed my car. Again, none were embedded so I didn’t have to deal with that horror. I’m taking the gruesome experience as a warning.

As we were driving home later from another outing, I stopped the car on Bacon Road where I believe we picked up the first of the monsters. I stopped the car and called out, “Tick Heaven.” My sister complimented me on my delivery, and I felt like I had won an academy award.  For just a minute we were kids again, shaking our heads at the thought of visiting worm heaven with shovels and buckets. But this time I didn’t wait long enough for anything to jump in or on or remotely close to the car.

So if you have a dog and live in Ohio, be aware. Do a check after walking in a park and try not to let them into long grass. Check yourself too, before you go in the house. Wear light colors since they will show up better. They don’t take over your house like fleas but they are good at hiding. Flea and tick medication is expensive but it lasts several months and for me is worth every penny.

I’m not terrified of ticks any more. I faced that fear out of necessity and had no choice whether to deal with it or not. Chester’s health was at risk. It seems like once I actually experience and deal with the fear I’m wary but not terrified. Maybe it’s not knowing that creates the fear. My dad could laugh at just about anything and sometimes that’s the only option. I’m not exactly laughing out loud but I can call out “tick heaven” and shake my head.  Meanwhile, we are staying away from long grass.  We won’t be walking there, but I will acknowledge them.  

Below is Chester and his flea-free bunny.

The wrong number and fantasy woe…

It’s not fair…

It is a dark and stormy night. But earlier today it was almost 80 degrees! Yesterday was in the 70s also. However, on April Fools Day it snowed. Yes, it snowed. The people in Cleveland decided to forget how to drive in the snow and there was a pile up on 77. Luckily I was working from home. I don’t think this is going to last though. As we move back into the workplace I am rediscovering little joys I forgot. Like listening to the guru on the Sirius fantasy channel. I have come to the sad conclusion that my fantasy team, The Killer Tomatoes, is just pathetic and in need of a new name. The Cleveland Indians will not be the only team changing names, but I’m going to give the Tomatoes one more year. My problem is that I get sucked into the rookie or sleeper mode. I want to strike it big like in Vegas. But I end up with a bunch of rookies and the sleepers stay asleep. Our league, Cut That Meat, has been together for years and years and I’ve only won once.

Looks scary, right? not so much…

While walking Chester in the snow, I was thinking of new names for my sad fantasy team (suggestions are welcome). The I heard the theme from Harry Potter. That would be my cell phone. I carry it with me in case I fall or something I can call my husband to come get Chester. And he might even get me. Anyway, I looked at who was calling. It was a 330 number which is somewhere near Akron, not that far. It could be someone I know, or from work. So I answered it.

“Hello”

“Yes, you have an ad in the busy beaver?”

“What?”

“The ad in the busy beaver?”

(silence)

“I think you have the wrong number I don’t know what the busy beaver is.”

“Umm hold on, is this umm 321-3134?”

“No, it’s not.”

OK about now it was dawning on me that this might be a phone call I might want to get out of. I mean he sounded nice enough, but the longer I stay on the line the longer he has to sell me something, right?

“Ohhhh, I see what I did.”

“OK, thank you.” (and I hung up)

Why on God’s green earth did I thank him? Come on, Martha, what were you thinking? Thanks guy for calling me and interrupting my thoughts of fantasy stardom. I was on the verge of a breakthrough name there. Sheesh.

No really I didn’t care, but as we walked on I wondered what the busy beaver was. It hit me that it may be a sex line, like I’m supposed to talk all hot. I got a chuckle out of that one, because I could talk the talk but I’d be picking up Chester poo at the same time which isn’t exactly walking the walk he’s probably thinking.

I went home and after burrowing under a blanket like a kid after bedtime I looked up the busy beaver. Turns out it’s a home improvement store in Ashtabula which is only 20 miles or so from me. I never heard of it! I looked to see if they were hiring, figuring that must be it, but they weren’t. So what ad is he calling about? I was tempted to call him back and ask him.

“Hey, remember me, the lady who thanked you for calling the wrong number? So what ad is in the Busy Beaver and how do I get the ads? What kind of stuff do they have there? Any good sales going on? Do they have Christmas deer that light up? I mean it is snowing here…what’s the garden section like?”

He’d be thrilled I’m sure to make my acquaintance. Actually I’m going to drag my husband to the Busy Beaver when it’s a nice day. We will take the Model A and drive through Dairy Queen. This must be done after my diabetes blood work is taken tomorrow. But so it shall be written, so it shall be done.

THIS IS IT!

On another note, I am a terrible dog mom. We were on the park side of the fence when who should walk by on the other side but Enzo and his owner. (for the newer readers, Enzo and Chester got into it ONE TIME and ever since are arch enemies) Enzo did absolutely nothing (good dog) but Chester went berserk (bad, bad). Why, Chester, why??? The gate to the park has about a foot in between the rails…it’s for cars not for Chesters. Chester was throwing himself around, I was hanging on for dear life (Enzo’s probably) and Chester was trying to shove his big head through the gate. I did the unthinkable. I dumped some water on his head. He stopped lunging and looked confused. While I had his attention for 2 seconds I told him to “LEAVE IT.” He whined a little but oh my, he left it. Granted it was halfway down the street by now.  I do not advocate this as a training method in any way, in fact it’s probably just one more reason for him to hate Enzo, although that may not be possible. But sometimes we all slip a little and at least he didn’t dislocate my arm. I did buy a clicker and some cat treats (for Chester not the cats) so I can try to continue his PetSmart basic training. He did graduate believe it or not, I have his diploma. He got an extra biscuit because I felt bad. I hope Enzo got one too for having to put up with the Chester display.

I’m a good dog.

Have a good weekend, and send me some fantasy name ideas. I will give you naming rights in the fantasy stadium.

By the way, I’m glad they are going to change the Indians name. It’s overdue. Just please not the Spiders…the mascot for the New School in NYC is the Narwhal. What about that???

Take care.

Squirrel Shenanigans and a Great Dane Adventure..

Never rest your head on throw pillows

The squirrels are up to no good. You know I like squirrels and you know Chester does not. They have decided in their small-brain wisdom that it’s fun to play in our backyard. We started knocking on the door before letting him out, but they are getting bold and don’t even care. Especially when I have just put out a cylinder in the bird feeder. Note I said bird, not squirrel feeder.

In my quest to support small businesses I go to the Willoughby Wild Bird store. I buy these cylinders of bird food. Because I am physically and spiritually unable go into a store and come out with only what I went in for, I have obtained a bag of peanuts and ears of corn. The peanuts are for the blue jays who literally sit outside the window and squawk until I throw some out. The corn cobs are for the squirrels. I don’t understand why they ravish the cobs but ignore the already removed corn on the patio. I guess they don’t like that the corn has touched some other bird food. Like my grandkids.

this has been there at least a week

Anyway, I toss out an ear of corn and one minute it’s there, the next it isn’t. Where do the cobs go? My husband has found a couple while mowing the lawn, but I blame the neighbor’s squirrels. I suspect the neighbors pay them. A couple days ago I tossed one out and it was gone in an hour. I thought maybe a fox or racoon took it, but then I saw something in the tree. I couldn’t figure it out. It was yellow. Guess what?

Yep, somebody put the corn in the tree. I guess sharing is not a concept squirrels embrace.

Chester and I had quite the adventure! We were enjoying the nice day on our usual walk when I heard a kid yelling. I couldn’t figure out what it was, but when we walked by the Great Danes’ house I saw one of the Danes out in the yard jumping around. When you have dogs, your house is known as  “the grey dog’s house” or “Jackson and Brutus’ House” or “Macy’s House” or “Chester’s House.”   The Great Dane’s live on our usual route. I stopped because something seemed off. They are usually extremely well behaved. Then I realized the Dane had a racoon trapped and I went into action mode. You know the fight or flight reflex? And moms lifting cars off of kids? I get it! I have never met the two Great Danes in person, but a dog is a dog. I took Chester up on the patio and asked the kid if he needed help. He explained that the Great Dane, Ozzie, had slipped out of his collar in his quest for the racoon.  I called Ozzie, thinking he’d want to see Chester. He didn’t care about Chester. Chester was too busy sniffing their grill to be much help. I got excited and in my best “oh boy isn’t this great” voice, like Flounder in Animal House I started calling Ozzie and clapping.

The racoon was hissing and spitting. Ozzie looked up like he was interested, came toward me, but when the racoon tried to leave he decided it would be more fun to chase it. He was play bowing, lunging and happily dancing around. The poor racoon couldn’t catch a break. The kid asked me “should I get treats?” and I responded “YES.” Meanwhile Chester was enjoying the patio smells.

When the racoon decided to play dead for a minute, I called Ozzie in my mom voice. You know the one. He didn’t have a choice when he heard that. “Ozzie, come.” He came, tongue hanging out and I swear he was smiling. He looked so happy to have played with the fluffy thing. He glanced at Chester who was still mesmerized by the grill. I kind of laid across Ozzie and held on. I didn’t have to bend over much. The kid opened the door and offered treats, wisely backing into the house with each one. Apparently Ozzie is food motivated like Chester because he didn’t hesitate. It was like Hansel and Gretl dropping pieces of bread.  Ozzie couldn’t resist. Once the door was shut, Chester and I left, Chester oblivious to the racoon. As we started home, I watched the racoon for a minute to make sure it was OK. (what was I going to do if it wasn’t? sheesh) It seemed ok, just scared, and kind of shocked. I felt bad but Chester and I continued our walk. Now whenever we walk by there he slows down to see what’s going on. So far, nothing else, but I really want to know what they grilled! It must have been spectacular!

Before any of you dear people lecture me on dangers, I am a grown-ass woman (as my friend says) and I know the risks. But when an animal is likely to get hurt, I just automatically act. Internally I knew what to do, I mean I didn’t grab the racoon!  It comes from years of dog ownership. You would have done the same thing.

It’s funny, my husband has quick reflexes, much quicker than mine. Once we were somewhere with the boys when they were little, maybe 3 and 5. They started to get up in this fake covered wagon. My husband leapt up the step and grabbed them, pulling them out. There were wasps inside the wagon. I didn’t even see them and stood there like a log while he was a hero. I don’t have quick reflexes but I guess I’m better at it than I thought at least when it comes to dogs.

ready to go!

I haven’t seen Ozzie since, but I’d like to, he was a nice boy. Chester was a wonderful boy! He thought it was an adventure too, new smells galore. We are going to take him to a new (for him) park today and let him explore the Grand River. No grill to sniff but maybe he’ll catch a fish! Have a great week!

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!