Retirement and Walking Chester…

I am retired. No, not tired again, although that may be a little more accurate than first thought. No, I am actually retired—my last day of work was yesterday. My coworkers had a great party with cake!!

I didn’t lose it crying (although there were a couple times I had to fight it…those allergies, you know..). I am humbled by the experience and have a lot of thank you notes to write. Luckily one of my thoughtful coworkers gave me some! In all honesty, I have been so blessed. I was doing what I love doing with people I loved. But, there are other things I’d like to do as well.

 I got up this morning (at the same freakin time I do for work, not intentional) and had a cup of coffee and thought now what? What does retirement mean? What should I do with the last 40 years of my life?

I thought that when I see the cat snot on the wall I will have time to wipe it off instead of shaking my head, tsk tsking and getting ready for work. I saw a couple new splotches this morning in fact. Did I wipe it off? Nope. Later…after coffee.

If you remember, one of my New Year resolutions was to blog every week. I fully intend to do that. But not this week because it’s Labor Day weekend and I have to get ready for the fantasy draft. Four packs of teenie weenies in crescent rolls don’t just make themselves you know.

Now that I’m retired I can clean out the basement. Sure I can.

I need to clean out my car. Then Chester will get in and it will be covered in dog hair again, so I’ll just wait until someone is going to ride in it. That is more efficient.

My coworkers know me well, and I got a couple Starbucks gift cards. I can buzz up real good before retrieving the four year old grandson from preschool. That’s something I can accomplish…maybe if I use the cards together I will be energetic enough to hit the basement too. Then again maybe not.

One of my coworkers gave me a gift wrapped in comics from the newspaper. When I was young I used to love reading the paper every morning. In Toledo we had two; the Times in the AM and The Blade in the PM. Remember, we didn’t have internet or even all day news on television. So we used the newspaper for news (gasp!). But I always followed Mary Worth and Peanuts, and later enjoyed Funky Winkerbean and Sally Forth. Maybe I’ll subscribe to the Plain Dealer and read the paper on the deck. Now that is a good use of time! And something I can accomplish.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about…

Chester believes that my being home means more attention and walks for him. I was actually more inspired for this blog when we walked in the morning. When we walk in the afternoon, Instead of thinking of random thoughts great and small I’m consumed with worry that I’m going to melt into the ground, Chester will burn his feet (I make him walk on the grass), or we will be washed away in sweat. Following afternoon walks we walk in the house and he lies down in front of the air conditioner vent on the tile. I go into the family room, turn the overhead fan on and stand there for about 10 minutes. Then we feel human again.

I guess I have some thinking to do. I have ideas but maybe I need to decompress a little first. As for today, the thank you notes await. I will miss my coworkers and my job. I hope to keep in touch, but it’s hard. Still, every chapter requires transition. I’m going to have a second cup of coffee and write my thank yous. I will try to write more often after cleaning the cat snot off the walls.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture I posted on Facebook of Chester watching t.v. My brother expects him to watch educational tv to enrich his mind. I said he prefers Scooby Doo. Doesn’t he look worried? I sure hope those meddling kids get away from the mean farmer with the axe! It’s OK, Chester, Scooby will save the day!

Scooby Dooby Doo!

Also, August 16th was Chester’s third “Gotcha Day.” We gave him chop suey and a shrimp. Usually we make a puppy burger but it didn’t work out that day. It’s difficult to put three candles in chop suey. After three years, he is definitely a loved part of the family. He has his quirks but he is sweet, funny, and such a  good boy! Happy Gotcha Day buddy!

Chester’s Gotcha Day meal

I have two pictures, the first taken when we adopted him, the second taken about a week ago. A little more belly, but not as bad as I feared! I guess he wears off the pounds chasing the same darn squirrel!!

Chester then…
Chester now…still hasn’t caught the squirrel!

Dog Olympics and pop..

Hang dog days…

The Olympics is over. I had Olympic fever. I freely admit that I watched everything Olympic. When nothing was on except two countries (not USA) playing soccer, I would look for other games. Once we found something called “Dods” aka “death diving.” It is a sport from Norway where people jump off a really tall platform in weird positions, like running man. The points are given partly based on whether they “stick” the landing, which means going in with hands and feet first, like a sitting position with your butt in the air. It was remarkably fun to watch. It was like the skateboarding or ninja warrior type of sport. But I digress….back to the Olympics.

I saw table tennis, rock climbing, marathons, sprints, gymnastics, water polo (way too much of water polo, even a little is a lot), and even synchronized swimming which looks like aliens from under the water.  We watched steeplechase, cycling, skateboarding (not much), three person basketball, wrestling (even less), and baseball/softball. It was to the point where Chester and I would go for a walk and I envisioned Olympic events everywhere. So I decided on some sports that our neighborhood and friend dogs would excel at. This seriously will be a thing, just wait.

Synchronized barking: The two Great Danes have the gold in this one. They were standing next to each other barking in tandem. Their mouths moved at the SAME TIME. Incredible!

Composure in the face of craziness: Norman the basset hound is the calmest dog ever. Chester was jumping around trying to get Norman to play. Norman was pretty stoic so Chester jumped over him. Norman didn’t seem to care! Amazing!

Pee Putting: like shot putting but through the fence and extra points for hitting another dog. Chester and Benson take turns peeing in each others yard through the fence. Sometimes they pee on each other. Who makes it the furthest? That’s why they need judges! Macy, Chester’s girlfriend on the other fence, tries to participate but is at a disadvantage.

Most Drool: need I describe this one? I had a turkey sandwich and not only did Chester drool while I was eating it, but after I was done he went outside and continued the drool. He is a contender but I don’t know, I’ve seen St. Bernards…I used to clean the cages at the Humane Society and we had a St. Bernard who would shake his head and drool would fly everywhere. Luckily he got adopted very quickly!

The sprint to the squirrel (no need to explain).

On your mark, get set…….

The fools gold; he and Enzo are champs. Then there is the most ferocious bark with a top-notch performance by the little white tornado down the street.  Chester would also excel at hearing a cheese stick wrapper at a mile away, throw pillow wrestling, and barking at something he thought he might have dreamed about.  He could lick the most water off the deck, too. Such a hound!

When Chester does something really hound-like, my husband says “you can take the dog out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the dog.” Chester is a city dog and we often remind him that he was living on the mean streets of Cleveland and had to eat garbage instead of milk bones (aka biscuits). He should not destroy throw pillows when he should be grateful he has them. Homeless doggies in Cleveland would love those throw pillows.  We don’t actually know that any of that is true, but he did end up in the kennel, so I’m going to guilt him if I can. He doesn’t understand anyway, just looks at me like, “did you say biscuit?”

Chester and I went for a walk in the park. These little pop-em things are bursting. He would sniff the grass and I would pop some of them. When you touch them, they explode and the seed falls to the ground. I expect naturalists hate them because they do overtake everything. Like Tribbles. But they’re fun!

the little hanging green thing is just irresistible!

I also took a picture of Chester looking at Lake Erie. It was loud and the waves were sizeable. Lake Erie is the shallowest of the great lakes and storms can pop up quickly.  I could not get a good picture to save my life, so here it is.

I know you’re telling me to turn around and look at you…but I’m busy. Thought I saw a squirrel.

Speaking of pop, do you say pop or soda? Our kids said pop until they moved to Brooklyn, NY. Now they are all in on soda and kind of superior about it. Bah humbug. I’m going to get a pop and sit on the deck.

PS: Happy Anniversary to my husband. 40 years of shenanigans! Looking forward to the next adventure!

Fairy doors and The Peach Truck..

2021 will go down in history as the year I experienced The Peach Truck. Last year my daughter-in-law and her mom talked about The Peach Truck. I had never heard of it. It sounded like some fly-by-night enterprise. I had a vision of someone opening the trunk of a car and glancing around under a streetlight. My daughter-in-law pulling out cash for some black market peaches. They came home with a lot of peaches and didn’t get arrested. I was intrigued. This year, I was asked to join the pilgrimage, or at least share in the bounty.

The peaches arrived on a certain date, and when I picked up my half of an order I was surprised. It was a lot of peaches. I mean A LOT of peaches. We ate peaches twice or three times a day. I made peach cobbler. I cut them up with cool whip. Ate them with the flaming turkey wings from last Thanksgiving and with leftover Valentine’s Day candy. We ate them grilled with yogurt. We packed them in lunches. Yes, we ate a lot of peaches. They were delicious actually, and I would like to order again. But the real upshot of this peach extravaganza was a long forgotten song that stuck in my head. Some of you oldsters and even not oldsters may remember the peach song. It goes like this:

Movin to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches…

Movin to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches….

And so on. But I don’t remember any more of it. I have been singing that song constantly. I finally looked it up and found that it’s by a group called The Presidents of the United States of America and it has a debatable meaning. Apparently some people think peaches aren’t what I got from The Peach Truck. It would seem I have quite possibly been singing about something that is a sexual double entendre. Nobody is sure. The video doesn’t help, it’s just weird. Ninjas are fighting with the band in a peach orchard. I’m not sure what that has to do with peaches. Doesn’t matter, I’m still singing it. Chester thinks it’s funny.

hee hee

John and I went to Holden Arboretum to walk Chester.  Holden has this event where the staff (or someone) decorates “fairy doors” and kids try to find them. Victor and Grammie found something like 15. John and Chester and I were hopelessly pathetic. We honestly found none for the first half hour. Then we saw a couple of teens with blue hair and followed them. They found two so we walked behind and took credit for those. Here is one:

Look mom!

The other one, well, it is interesting. I’m not sure if it’s really a door or how the fairies would get into the house except to slide down it. I’m not sure what it is to be honest. See what you think:

Now those of you seeing a fairy door, you are good people. The rest of you…well I will just leave it unsaid.

Speaking of mushrooms, we have a bumper crop. After all, it has rained for 40 days and 40 nights and John is out there building an ark. The mushrooms are beautiful. I took some pictures and I don’t think there is any way anyone can see these as a sexual reference. Who am I kidding, if there is one thing Americans are good at it is making anything a sexual reference. See below:

Lastly while walking Chester I have taken the peach song and tried to make a doggie song. I was wishing I could take Chester back to the office with me. Here it is:

Running round the office, gonna meet a lot of people…

That’s as far as I got. So maybe you’ll get a doggie song next post. Until then, I’ll be hibernating on the couch watching the Olympics. Might have to get some more peaches too. I think the peach truck delivers..  

The Pitcher Purge…

Scene 1: There is a big lamp box full of old photos and programs from at least 10 years in the bedroom closet of the elderly youthful appearing couple. There is a multitude of photos crammed onto the bookshelf with 10-12 photo albums. The dust has settled on the albums.

Scene 2: The couple’s son and daughter in law give the old lovely young lady cute polka dot boxes to sort photos (circa early 2000 maybe). She uses one, but has a few more.

Scene 3: The second son makes an offhand comment that “the only pictures I have are on my phone.”

It’s a perfect storm! Something must be done! Opening now at the Cleveland Playhouse, “The Pitcher Purge.” Will the couple escape from the clutter that surrounds them? Will the woman make it out of the purge with her mind intact? Come and see!

Finale: The woman fills 3 or 4 photo albums per child. She divides the pictures in the box into the boxes, buys photo albums, makes copies of the pictures (yes, she makes copies of photos she is trying to get rid of…hush)  and agonizes over what year that school photo was from. Finally, all that’s left is the debris and yet more pictures to go through for the couple’s photo albums. (The Pitcher Purge part II coming soon!)

When I was young I had a Brownie camera. I held it with a strap around my neck and looked down through the viewfinder. Of course it took film, and I had to rewind it. Remember putting the film in and lining up the notches? Then hoping it didn’t come off before you got a couple good winds in? Over the years I graduated to other more modern cameras culminating in a nice Pentax. We had the Polaroid instant cameras too, remember “shake it like a polaroid picture?” You would literally shake it to have it come to life. I’m not sure it sped it up, but it was fun and everybody did it! It was magic!

Then technology blew up. It started with the “disposable” cameras you’d drop into the Revco photo box and get them back in a week. Brides would put one on each table so the guests could take pictures of each other dancing hilariously and raising shot glasses. When the wedding was over each camera would contain 12 or 24 of the most precious moments from the wedding. (See uncle Al? Yes that was when he puked on the dance floor! Oh and there’s Aunt Betsy with her wardrobe malfunction!)

We had small cameras, which were better for vacations. It was a long time before our cell phones had cameras. Shoot, it was a long time before we had cell phones. For awhile they were just…(gasp) PHONES!! Now they are better than most “real” cameras. But they will be old news soon too I expect.

What did we take photos of?  You’d be surprised.

There were many, many, many fish pictures. I mean fish that we caught. Most were in Arnstein Ontario. There isn’t that much to do in Arnstein except relax, swim in the lake, read books and fish. We had to–just HAD TO take a picture of Every. Single. Fish. Yes, large and small. Of course if you hold the fish closer to the camera it looks bigger. Remember that trick. Don’t let the photographer get your hand or it looks like you have a giant hand. If it wasn’t a fish picture it was a photo of someone hiking in 90 degree heat and looking absolutely miserable. Usually those were what I took of my sister. She hated that.

she wasn’t holding it close, this really was a big fish
unlike this one…

I have a whole album dedicated to “out west”. The family van trip “out west” is a verified staple in Ohio families. We did it as kids with my parents, and then as adults with our kids. Different perspective but some things never change. Like the kids irritating each other in the back seat. The difference is we were in the VW van so we could lie down. They had to sit and glare at each other. I took an awful lot of pictures at Prairie Dog Town close to the Badlands, Wall Drug, Mt. Rushmore, and the Corn Palace. We didn’t make it to the Grand Canyon or I would have had to get another album I’m sure. Next time.

We didn’t mean to match, it just happened.

There was The Land of Little Ponies. (not out west but still photographed to satisfaction) There was Washington DC, San Francisco, Alcatraz, San Jose with the Winchester Mystery House, and Kentucky. Then there were the local attractions. The Lake County Fair for example. It has the same attractions, yet I had to take a photo each year. Every time our daughter rode the ponies at the fair there was a picture taken. Those ponies must get sick of the paparazzi.

Then there are grandkids…need I say more??

don’t ask…

I think I took so many because I thought I could hang on to that instant with a photo. If I had it in a picture, it would stay forever. I thought that I needed to record the best times of my life so I didn’t forget. In some ways I was right, the photos do spur memories, but in some ways the project made me sad. I began to feel an overwhelming wish to go back and do it again. I love the idea of reincarnation because one life just isn’t long enough. But…I’d probably come back as a slug or something and that would not be fun. Well, actually I don’t know if slugs have fun, maybe they do. They make little slug slime pictures on the rocks and leaves and have an art show. Don’t scoff, you don’t know. Unless you were a slug in a previous life, you can’t throw slime.

I don’t take as many pictures as I used to but it’s not for lack of trying. Usually I just forget to take them or I don’t have my phone. Like this very minute—there is a Monarch butterfly that landed right next to me and I don’t have my phone. I came outside to type. I’m not a great photographer. I cut off heads and have a few with my thumb as the star. When my time is up, I hope that’s not what people will see (well they won’t see the heads because they are cut off, right??) I hope they see joy. I am so grateful for the joy.

So after thinking about what my daughter’s middle school teacher called “pitchers” (it annoyed the middle schoolers to no end, the teacher probably did it on purpose which is what I do now because annoying people is what I do best..) I decided to include a few I took over the last weeks.

Chester’s nasty bone
Son and daughter at Bryant Park Manhattan
Chester was so hot after his walk he commandeered the air conditioning vent.
for good luck:)

Finality and Scooter Dawg…

If someone said “Scooter Dog” two days ago I would have expected to see a big brown dog scooting his butt on the white carpet.

No longer. I have found nirvana in the form of a restaurant near our house: Scooter’s World Famous Dawg House. After 30+ years in this area we finally tried Scooter’s. Consider my mind officially blown. Basically you get a hot dog, regular or long (go for the long, trust me) with any odd pairing of toppings you could imagine. I had a macaroni and cheese dog. It was delicious! John had a basic bacon dog but there are Hawaiian dogs, and about 30 other combinations. Then, you get about 100 french fries (that’s a small) with available malt vinegar packets. Be still my heart! Of course the stomach may not be still but that’s a gamble I’m willing to take.

What surprised me is that I had no idea it was there. I guess on Fridays and Saturdays the line stretches out the door. It’s like Weber’s in Ontario. The inside has antique auto memorabilia and they also serve ice cream. How did I miss something so important? It advertises to be the “home of the happy hot dawg.” I don’t know how happy the hot dawg was but we were delighted! How did I not know? Think of all the happy hot dawgs I’ve missed out on.

I guess sometimes good things can fly under the radar.

My mind was blown again this week by a realization I had while I was walking Chester. I had been listening to  Sirius XM which I get for the fantasy football channel, but nothing’s cooking in fantasy right now so I listened to the 60s on 6 station. I had this realization that no matter how hard a band tries, it is literally impossible to write another 60s song.

Let that sink in for a minute. A composer could write a song inspired by the 60s. A singer could sing a song from the 60s. But there are NO MORE 60s songs There never will be.

I’m not used to finality. I’m not used to something hard and fast and irrevocable. I’m very good with ambiguity. I can argue either side of most debates. I can bargain (don’t like to but I can). I like to say anything is possible, and if we try hard we can do whatever we want. Ummm, no we can’t. We cannot write a 60s song.

This realization came on the heels of Scooter Dawg. How can this world be turning and I missed it?? How did I miss writing a song in the 60s? (OK, I was a little young, but the 70s? 80s?) How did I drive by the exit to Scooter Dawg and not see it? I feel like I have been asleep at the switch. How many other things have I missed?

At some point it’s going to be too late for me to do what I want. Finality will throw up a blockade in front of me just like the 70s did to the 60s. It’s a scary thought. I guess I better wake up, get out of my routine a little and experience new things.

On a side note, Chester has a renewed determination to go after squirrels. He has not caught one, but we put up a deck. He sits on the deck like a king surveying his kingdom and eyeballs every corner of the yard daring some four legged moving interloper to show its furry self. The difference is he is now also laser focused. Below are three pictures taken over an hour. Mind you, the squirrel is in the NEIGHBOR’S tree (It’s one of their squirrels I’m sure, although they have had some racoon fights over the squirrel food so I’m not sure their squirrels are too happy. They may relocate to our yard which is probably what Chester is determined to avoid). The squirrels are probably thinking “we’ve lived here 3 years and never new this yard existed.” “our little minds are blown!”

Anyway, he spent an hour first running up and down the FENCE, yes the fence that the squirrel was on the OTHER SIDE of, then sat down and barked. This picture shows him with his mouth open. Imagine the bark.

Next he got a drink and went back to running. He sat down and stared, barking occassionally.

Finally he lay down and watched. The squirrel barked at him saying “ha, ha you dumb scooter dawg” in it’s most sinister accent.

Poor vigilant Chester.

Right now I am sitting on the deck, thinking about finality and thinking that I hate it. Chester just took off to the corner of the yard. There is nothing there. I guess I’ll have to go get him.