A Chester Q&A and my house…

I belong to a facebook group called City Dogs. It’s a great group for adopters who have pit bull mixes from the city kennel. Mostly we show each other our cute pictures of the smooshie faces of the pups and rave over how cute they are. In that vein, they started a Q&A so I filled it out for Chester. It goes like this:

Name: Chester

Nickname: Chester no! No, No Chester! OMG really Chester?

How old are you? 5-7

What’s your favorite human food? cheese sticks. I could be in a coma and wake up if I heard the wrapper.

What are you scared of? the big inflatable snow men that I saw at Christmas. And little white bossy dogs.

Favorite toy or thing to play with? any stuffed animal. it needs tearing up. Especially if it’s a bunny.

What’s something you don’t like? when mom shuts me out of her office because a cat is in there. I sit in the hall and whine. also bunnies. I hate bunnies. Favorite things to do? zoomies in the back yard, especially after a bunny.

Have any other furry siblings? two bad cats but we had a falling out. I thought they were bunnies.

Human siblings? no, just the two little boys that come over sometimes and drop food.

Something you get in trouble for? eating things off the counter. But it’s soooo goood!

Where do you sleep? On the bed of course. I really stretch out.

Do you bark? Yes, I have to let mom and dad know when the UPS guys comes or a dog walks by or somebody is pushing a stroller or a squirrel is getting cheeky.

What is your best attribute? I make the hoomans laugh. Also I never have accidents in the house and I have a cast iron stomach. I like most dogs except for Enzo down the street. He’s evil. My mom says she loves me.

Do you go to the groomer? No I go to the dog wash. But they’ve been closed so I’m kind of dirty. Mom loves me anyway.

Do you like car rides? Yes! Especially to PetSmart!

Do you snore? Yes sometimes!

Pass the time and share about your dogs!

Then we post a bunch of pictures. It was fun, so I wanted to share with you. I’ll share some photos below.

I walked Chester this morning in the rain. I thought it would be a wormapalooza but we only saved one. In fact, I just redirected it since it was heading toward the street. It turned around and I encouraged it to the grass. So in between worms needing saving and raindrops and pee breaks, I thought about my house.

My house is not my house, and if you believe my grandson, it never will be. It’s a little house on the way home from picking them up. It used to have all sorts of stuff in the yard like old bicycle wheels or metal pots or just plain junk. The house itself is adorable. It’s brick in front, on a corner, with a small yard. Apparently someone made the garage into another room, a maneuver that I hate. And, it was really run down.

My grandson and I would play a game and pick one thing to take out of the yard that would improve the looks. Or, it could be something like fixing a door. Or the windows. The house was somewhat in disrepair so this went on for awhile. But a funny thing happened. As we mentally removed things, I began to see some artistic value in the stuff. We changed our game to what we would keep. I began to love the house, junk and all. And I was super curious about the people inside. This went on literally for years.

One day, we noticed that some of the stuff was gone and the lawn mowed. We commented on how nice it looked. Then more stuff disappeared, and brush and trees were cut down. Something was going on. I looked up the address on Zillow and put my investigator skills to work. The house was foreclosed on and I had not noticed. Apparently an artist did live there. I found him on ETSY. The bank owns it now but for much more than it’s worth at this point. I called the bank to see if they were going to put it up for sale. They said maybe in February. I called the realtor who put me on a list. But nothing yet. Once we drove by and a window was left open. I called the bank and told them to get over there and close it. The next day it was closed. I started calling it “my house.” My grandson said it wasn’t my house and never will be. He got sick of hearing about it and told me to drive home the other way. (I didn’t)

The grandson is right. I know that. I’m being totally irrational. I would love to think we could buy it and fix it up. My husband and I don’t have the skill or know-how for that extensive of a project, not to mention the money or time. Shoot, If we did our own house would be in better shape. We don’t need another house that’s for sure. And if we did fix it up, I don’t think I could sell it. What is it about this house? Why does it call to me?  Maybe because an artist lived there and I grew to see the beauty in the junk. Maybe it just looks like a cozy, warm home. I feel good driving by. I don’t know–all I know is that I want it to be happy. I hope it finds a new owner who can fix it up. I hope someone will plant flowers and make the garage a garage again. I hope someone will love it as their first house, a dream come true. When this happens, I will stop driving by.

This and That and no Corona…

Chester chased another bunny. This time he didn’t catch it, and it went under the fence before the hound from hell ate it. I purchased a plastic muzzle, size large, which was just too big. Apparently his body is larger than his snoot. I went back and tried a mesh one, hopeful that this would be the end of the great bunny massacre of 2020. I adjusted it and got it on him by straddling him and holding his mouth shut which was no small feat. He was shaking his head but I just kind of bumped him outside and figured he’d get past it. He stood with his legs splayed on the patio and looked up at me with horror so I shut the door. When I peeked out again he was still in the same spot on the patio. I took pity on him and took it off thinking that if there was a bunny out there, he would have chased it already. We did this for a couple days, then today I let him out with the muzzle on and he ran out into the yard, not just the patio. Feeling righteous I went back to the kitchen to make another cup of coffee. I glanced out the window at the sun shining on Chester. Chester with his muzzle hanging around his neck and his tongue flapping in the breeze. He was running around peeing on everything and the muzzle was waving like a scarf. Heavy sigh. Chester 1, me 0. Stay tuned.

Chester and I went for a walk today down a street we usually don’t go. There was a little white yappy dog tearing around the yard like a miniature teeth-filled tornado. It was barking the whole time. Pretty impressive, running and barking. I don’t think I could do that. When I say it was ¼ of Chester’s size that’s giving it the benefit of the doubt. Chester stopped, looked at the dog, turned around and pulled me back the way we came. He was not having it. We walked home and he got a biscuit which made him feel better.

A couple days ago it had just rained and while walking Chester I saw a worm the size of a garter snake. You have to respect a worm that big. Of course I tossed it into the grass. I’m still kind of humbled by such a kingly worm. Seriously impressive. That must be like Grandpa Worm. This inspired not a doggie song but a worm song…it goes like “Baby Shark” but substitute worm. And you wiggle instead of making shark mouths with your hands. And, since worms typically don’t hunt, although this one could have hunted the little yappy dog successfully, I substituted “Let’s go dig.” It kind of works.

I was playing baseball with my grandsons and I got a little tired. The six year old never gets tired of baseball, but the two year old is usually up for anything so I called out “dance break” and started doing the chicken dance. Then I did the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song. After that I just yelled “dance break” every time I was tired. The six year old was generally offended and yelled “NOOO”, but the two year old kind of got into it, especially when we sang “Baby Shark.” He can’t resist Baby Shark but really, who can? I now will have to teach him “Baby Worm.”

Have you heard of this thing called Corona Virus? Me neither. I did however hear a good joke courtesy of my co-grammy: What goes with the Corona virus? Lyme disease. I’m not necessarily taking it lightly but me talking about it isn’t going to do any good. So I went with a “this and that” post today. Yes, I wash my hands. Yes, I maintain social distance when I can, but I’ll be damned if I don’t give someone a hug if they need one (after asking of course). Below is a picture of Chester waiting out the Corona virus and thinking about the atrocity that is the muzzle. Except for the muzzle, that’s pretty much what I have planned too.

Check in on each other now and then, and I’ll be walking Chester.  We are going to make up a Corona virus song…something like “My My My My Myyy Corona” Take care of yourselves! 

Lazing on a Sunday afternoon

Chester and reality…

Last summer there was a dead rabbit in our yard and Chester was carrying it around. I told myself that it had died of natural causes and he just found it. I guess I have to rethink that theory because unfortunately, he killed another. It’s the downside of dog ownership; I know these things happen. But it’s sad. I love the bunnies. The truth is,  bunnies have been Chester’s arch-nemeses since we brought him home. He is halfhearted now about squirrels, but something about a bunny sets him off. How could he not love little furry cute bunnies? Because the Reality is, Chester is a dog.

He had no regret for his misdeed. He was pretty proud of himself and looked mighty happy. He went out the next morning and revisited the scene of the crime, sniffing around at who knows what (I know what, just don’t want to think about what) The cats have killed mice, voles, and taken the tail off of a chipmunk. The chipmunk was perfectly fine, just tail-less. I found the tail in the basement. Chester is bigger, but it’s still the food chain. He had to survive the mean streets of Cleveland somehow. It’s not warm and fuzzy, but it’s the reality of being a dog.

At work we have to do some mental exercises that may help in alleviating stress. Each day we are to apply certain strategies to manage a stressful situation. The task this week was to take a negative situation and try to reframe it to make it positive. Like making lemonade out of lemons. It irritates me to no end because I think it focuses on the wrong thing. The cause of the stress isn’t the situation. The real problem is in expectations. We use the word “should” like it’s the norm. I think that word should (😊) be banned. Why do we think we are so special that we should be happy and that it’s all about us? It’s not about should, it’s about is. It is what it is. If we always think people are only good, and we deserve only good, and people should be good to us, then we aren’t looking at reality.

Reality is facing the world head on with clear vision. We are all animals, good and bad, we pick on each other, we fly off the handle, kill each other, make mistakes and hurt each other just because we are not perfect. We are part of the food chain too. But, and this is a big but (I like big buts and I cannot lie…but I digress), if we accept this, it’s less stressful because there is no expectation or entitlement. Instead of “why me” it’s “why not me”. Not to say it isn’t difficult, but asking with these words is not as personal, it’s more about the inevitability of the situation due to being human. I don’t want to make the situation positive– It’s not. That fails to acknowledge that it happened. I want to say it is what it is. It may never be better but it happened because we are all perfectly imperfect. We have ups and downs. I’m not going to reframe the negative situation to try to make it positive–that’s not honest.

Back to Chester…is it weird that I don’t want him to lick me? Ew. I’m considering a loose muzzle for the springtime morning and evening backyard excursions. Enough is enough. I want to be able to feed the birds and enjoy the bunnies and squirrels. If he wants to chase them, he can go for it, but no more of this food chain stuff in my backyard. We spend way too much on dog food for that. So, I’ll be braving the pet store with the grandsons, which pretty much doubles my purchases. They like to get treats for Chester and the cats, decorations for the aquarium and an occasional tennis ball for themselves. We have a delightful outing and I enjoy their enthusiasm and questions. This is reality too. Knowing both realities make the sweet ones so much better.  

Chester monitoring the perimeter for bunnies.

Bagels, spring, and Elvis Costello…

Last Thursday morning I needed to mail some cards at the post office, so I drove to Painesville via the side roads. I was apprehensive, since we were in the middle of the third or fourth “blizzard of the century” according to the weather people. The schools were closed so I thought I’d be slipping and sliding. BUT

Some days things go my way! There was very little snow on the road, and I dropped the cards into the box, then realized that Dunkin Donuts was on the way to the highway. (I kind of planned this, let’s be honest)  Guess what? There was nobody in line at the drive through! It’s normally a wait, so  I decided to celebrate and live a little. I got a large iced coffee with cream instead of a medium, and a toasted sesame bagel with…get this….garden veggie cream cheese instead of regular! I was a risk-taking daredevil! I made a couple discoveries

1) A large coffee is a lot of coffee

2) Garden veggie cream cheese is tasty but messier than regular cream cheese

3) It’s kind of disconcerting to feel a chunk of something solid in your mouth when you’re eating cream cheese.

That was Thursday. Today is Sunday, March 1st. What a difference three days makes! It’s 47 degrees, aka flip-flop weather in Cleveland. Chester and I went to Lake Erie Bluffs for a long walk. Of course the snow had melted, and it was pretty muddy. So we went around the meadow trail—still muddy but a little higher ground. Below are some pictures. I discovered that mud, while not good for my tennies, is great for heel spurs. My foot didn’t hurt at all, so I had lots of time to think. This time, I thought about Elvis Costello.

When he was in high school, almost 20 years ago, my son created a portrait of Elvis Costello using round circles. I always liked Elvis Costello when I was younger. I thought he was the essence of honest cool. I did find out that he was born 5 years and 5 days before me, a meaningless but interesting fact. I thought, and still do, that he puts his heart in his music. Of course my theme song is “Watching the Detectives” since that’s basically what I do. So I thought about the Elvis Costello artwork and decided I should frame it and hang it up.

Why is it that some things on our to-do lists that seem so small are harder than they should be? I was happy that it was already matted. But Milo the cat had sneezed snot all over the matting, not so much the picture. I had a frame, and thought, hey why not just take off the matte and frame it? Sigh. The picture just didn’t look the same. So I tried a bigger frame, a different matte, and so on and so on. It’s still crooked. ARGH! Elvis is watching me type and looking like he’s disappointed in me. Not hung up yet but framed.

I have a long list of things like this that I want to do but each one takes forever. Maybe that is what retirement will be…all the little things. I let go of the little things when I am busy. But often the little things are what matter. I do like Elvis. I’m going to get some wire, and fix the matte so it’s not crooked, and hang it up. That should only take me another day, or year. Then I’ll move on to the next project. Have a good week, and if you are lucky enough, enjoy the spring weather. Chester and I did😊

Chester enjoying the high road
Lake Erie Bluffs
Elvis, almost ready.

A Halloween walk…

Stop pulling, Chester. Wait! Bags? Check. Flashlight? Check. Dog? Hee hee I amuse myself.

Ooh, look at the stars! There’s Orion’s Belt. Is that the big dipper? No, can’t be certain. They seem to be fading. Must be a cloud. What do you see, Chester? Up there by Julius’ house? Is it a bunny? I don’t see anything, crazy dog.

Boy is it quiet this morning. I don’t see lights on in any of the houses. That’s weird, usually someone is up and about. Maybe everyone decided to sleep in on Halloween. I don’t get it, every house is pitch dark. What do you see now Chester? Quit pulling! Hey, I can’t hear the highway. As a matter of fact I don’t hear anything at all. The train usually comes by about now. Or at least the crickets or cicadas are chirping. Maybe it’s too early. Dead silence.

This is getting kind of creepy. It’s like I’m alone in the world. What would I do if something happened? What was that? I feel a chill. Sheesh, Martha, quit psyching yourself out. There is nothing here. It’s like every other walk every other day. Just keep walking.

I feel something. It’s colder than I thought it would be. It seems like it dropped 10 degrees in a few minutes. Brr. I hear something in the leaves behind us. Walk faster. Don’t turn around. No turn around and stand up real tall and straight. See what it is. No, walk faster. If there was something behind us, Chester would act different. Don’t look.

Something is definitely following us. Turn around you scaredy cat. You are supposed to be fearless. This is your neighborhood, get tough. Turn around NOW. Oh, it’s nothing. There’s nothing there. Hee hee you’re a mess Martha. Now go home, Chester wants his Kong. And you need coffee.

Wow, it’s dark. I can’t see a darn thing. Good thing I know the route. Oh shoot, Chester has to poop. Get the flashlight. No I want to go home. Just pick up as much as you can see and get out. Something moved past the window of that house. Is it on the outside or inside? Hurry up Chester. Keep going, you’re almost home.

Ok, something is following me. Walk faster, one two three four, count the steps. Oh my God, I saw a shadow. Breathe, in, out, in out. Don’t run, if it’s an animal it’ll chase you. Did someone clear their throat? Something is behind me. Doesn’t sound like an animal. Glance over your shoulder, see if it’s a coyote. Go on, DO IT. Better to know. OK, on the count of three, one, two, three, now LOOK!

What? Nothing there. I’m alone. What is that? Is it a reflection in Chester’s eyes, are the street lights on? No, must be my imagination, it’s still dark. You are a basket case, Martha, just Halloween getting to you. Come on Chester, hurry up. Whew there’s the house. Where are the high school kids at the bus stop? My spine is prickly.

Wait, something is wrong. What is it? I don’t know but it’s wrong, screaming wrong. The house is dark too. We will cut through the yard. Come on, Chester, why did you stop? What is wrong with you? Let’s go inside. No, wait, I left the lights on. No, no, no, what is that on the porch?

Help, turn around! Chester…Chester…run away. Go, run! Go! No, what are you doing? Don’t go that way, get out! What’s wrong with your eyes? What is that behind you? How many eyes are there…all I see is red eyes. I’m confused, are they all dogs? What is that sound? It’s a low growl. Chester, don’t go to the thing on the porch! Run! Did it just say good dog?

Whaaat…I’m surrounded. The growl is getting louder. Chester, come! I knew you would help me, come, hurry. What’s that? Are your lips moving? I can’t make a sound. My nose is growing. I’m shrinking. I’m screaming but I can’t. I hear barking.  Is that me? I’m covered in fur, I can’t stand up straight. Chester, help me!

Ohh…I can’t get up. Why can’t I speak?  What is that barking..is it me?Who are you? Lori? Oh am I glad to see you! I love your haircut. The bow is falling out though. What Chester? If you could speak why didn’t you before? What do you mean I didn’t give you enough treats? Where’s John? Oh, I see him, the Shepherd. I’d recognize that mustache anywhere. Listen, our pack leader on the porch is talking. He has such beautiful red eyes like us, and a long tail. What do you think he….OW! He poked me with that pitchfork. If I had that pitchfork I’d …

Happy Halloween!

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