Jazz records and a new tattoo

Life is good for Chester.

I was attempting to change the sheets when he decided to take a nap. I got the first two sheets on the bed, then he flopped himself down. I continued with the blanket and comforter, thinking he would move. I was woefully mistaken. He stayed like that until he heard the refrigerator door. Yes, life is good for Chester.

I have restarted a daunting project. My dad collected jazz record albums. When he died, my son asked if we could take the albums. Of course I agreed. I thought the son would eventually take the albums to his house and enjoy them around a fireplace with a cocktail and slippers. What was I thinking??  It seemed like a good idea at the time. You should know however that there are over 900 albums and the son shares a NYC apartment with two other people. If A+B=C, then you can follow the logical conclusion…the albums continue to occupy space in our house. In my clean, clean, clean frenzy, I decided it was time to sell, sell, sell! So it began.

Part of the collection

In 2011, before he moved to NYC, our son and I attempted to document the albums, something my father was never able to accomplish. Plus my dad didn’t really care. We started a spreadsheet and began with the last name of A…We made it through the letter M, then the son moved. So they sat. I decided about a week ago to finish what we started. This entails handling each album, recording the performer, the title, the date, the recording label, and notes like other collaborators. I am halfway through the Ts.

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Milo is supervising. It’s hard to work when he is sitting on the records. Can’t be good for the records. It’s OK, he’s a cool cat.

While searching for the date of the albums, I noticed that the old records (most are from the 1950s-80s) have extensive commentary on the back of the album. The front looks something like this one,

And the backs look similar to this:

Not the same album, obviously…

Sometimes my dad would make notes on the album, like “piano player is good” or “??” I began to read some of the information on the back.

When I was playing cello in an orchestra, during a rehearsal our very dear conductor, Ralph Katz, grew frustrated with the violins. We were playing “March” from the Nutcracker Suite. Now in “March,” if you start out at a proper tempo worthy of John Phillips Sousa, your violinists are going to struggle a bit in the middle. Since we were a community orchestra, they struggled mightily. One rehearsal night Mr. Katz (always Mr. Katz, never Ralph to me) placed his baton firmly on the stand and said “It’s just so much noodling! Quit noodling!” (For the record, cellists are physically incapable of noodling.) Reacting in typical cellist fashion, I thought it hilarious and “noodling” became a staple in our household vocabulary.

Jazz to me was noodling. Just sooo much noodling! I did not appreciate it, figuring that if someone took the time to write a perfectly good melody, why should it be changed? My dad however played jazz non-stop except when hockey games were on tv. I was a jazz rebel, preferring instead the complex musical stylings of “The Archies”. My dad, ever the gentleman, understood somehow that it was part of the kids contract to hate your parents’ music, and didn’t push it. He was happy just to listen himself and why not? He controlled the record player. We had our 8-track tapes, the latest and greatest in musical formats.

Yes, this is a vintage 1977 8-track tape. Remember the “clunk” when it switched sides?

Now that I see and touch these albums, I am starting to appreciate his incredible understanding of the intricacies. I’m finding that I (gasp) want to listen to these records. There was a whole part of my dad that I didn’t know. I wish I could go back and discuss them with him. My son and I were going to document these to sell them. Now I want to listen first. I’ll never listen to all of them, but maybe one per artist. We’ll see. The thing is, jazz was a part of who my dad was. I only knew or realized the other parts. How much more didn’t I know about him?

Changing topics, I got another tattoo! It’s an arrow. I got it because it reminds me of how honored and proud I am to have worked in the best unit in the county, the MUI (Major Unusual Incident) department. I learned so much from them and it makes me happy that we were able to make a difference. The people I see now did not know my work self. I was using a different part of me. The tattoo reminds me of who I was and still am. I guess we all have a lot more layers than we can show.

The wrinkles are from the plastic, not from me being old.

Chester, however, has no layers. His whole being is an open book. This is his “you are eating something I want” look. He does not use this look when I eat yogurt. If the force was with him my hand would slowly and uncontrollably move the bacon to his mouth.

You know I’m here, right??

This is his “I just came in and am one second away from doing zoomies around the house” look. See the wild glint in his eye? Only to be tamed by running full speed and leaping on the couch so it slides across the nice hard wood floor. Wheee!

Hi Mom! Got to run!

 Since no proper Cleveland resident can fail to mention the weather in any conversation, we are above freezing. The snow is starting to melt. Chester has decided that it is a good idea to take his bunny outside and play with it.

He snuck it past me. Then he leaves it there and I have to get it. I tell him to get the bunny and he looks at me like this:

You’ve got to be kidding. It’s cold out there.

Have a wonderful week!

Procrastination and a vet visit

I woke up at 6:00am yesterday with two things to accomplish—starting this post and taking Chester to the vet. Keep in mind that the latest drama on the news was (yawn) snow again here in Cleveland. Gosh, it’s early February and there’s snow? I can’t imagine. Needless to say, after the mega buildup by the weather and news media, including dire warnings to stay off the roads and hundreds of school closings, I awoke to maybe a few inches. They are trying to save the story by saying it’s going to last all day. All day? According to Groundhog Phil it’s going to last 6 more weeks. But one of the things I absolutely love is sitting in my pjs, drinking Peet’s coffee, and watching the snow come down, without having to go anywhere. I get a kind of pleasure out of watching the reporters standing out in the snow to report that it is snowing and we should stay in.

Actually the reporters were right and it snowed all day. Chester rolled in it.

Anyway, I got up at 6:00am, and by 8:00 (am, not pm) I took a shower. Mostly because I was afraid the vet would want Chester earlier due to the prediction of bad roads. What is wrong with Chester you ask? He has a hot spot on his arm just above his paw. It’s been there for two weeks, with no change. We thought it was OK, but it was not really healing so the vet thought she should check it out. I wanted to be dressed at least by 4:00, the appointment time. Vet appointments are precious nowadays and they probably frown on coming in pjs.

After the shower, you would think I’d be ready to write. I thought so too, in fact that’s what I told my husband. “Turn off the Today Show, I’m going on the computer!” But I had to check my email first. This led to a deleting frenzy then to a video game. An hour later I realized I was procrastinating.

Procrastination. I start with good intentions but if the dishes need doing, the birds need to be fed, I wait to see our school district closed on tv (even though I no longer have kids in school…old habits die hard), the laundry needs to be sorted, and the kitty litter scooped, I get sidetracked. If I think I want to get something done, my cousin’s words go through my head, “Your future self will thank you for it.” This is a frequent mantra but my future self also procrastinates so she has not thanked me yet. I don’t want her to feel overwhelmed with the thank yous, so I’m taking it easy.  

I know one solution thanks to a class I took. Eat the Frog.  Someone said that if you eat a frog first thing in the morning it’ll be the worst thing you do all day. This has been linked to Mark Twain but was around in various forms earlier and is not believed to have been uttered by him originally. The point of the quote was to do the hard thing first (hard meaning what you don’t want to do). Well gee whiz, I can’t argue with that froggy logic even if it is a disgusting and awful quote. Of course, if you procrastinate long enough you will die and won’t have to do it at all…. Just another option to explore.

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This frog has the right idea.

A book I read suggested that procrastination could be a fear of closure. People procrastinate because starting is the hardest part. We get comfortable doing what it is, but when we finish, we have to start something else. Or, we don’t want to finish something because then it is over and for some reason we don’t want it to be over. Procrastination can also be a means of control, or a passive aggressive response. Either way, there is a reason we don’t want to do something or finish it. If we discover the reason we can face it. I don’t remember how to face it though. Maybe I should go read that book, let me go look for it…aaarrgh! I’m doing it again! Too late. I found it!

This is an old book, but there’s still good in it.

Writing this blog is not a “frog” to be eaten. Our former beagle, Abbey, would have eaten it. Beagles eat anything. Once she tried to eat something mouse-like but I saw the tail sticking out of her mouth. I rescued the exceptionally lucky critter (it was still alive and quickly ran off). The beagle never forgave me for taking her prize.

I miss you too, sweetheart. You and Chester would have been best buds!

No, a blog is not a frog. I love writing and telling stories. But since I retired I don’t have a boss to assign projects, or a schedule. You would think that is a good thing and usually it is. But I have a hallway needing paint, more pictures to sort (I swear they multiply), and closets to clean that would tell you otherwise. The problem with retirement is that there is a fine line between well-earned relaxation and laziness. The first months I have erred on the side of laziness. I feel lazy. I see the projects I wanted to complete sitting undone, and I feel worse. I think it’s a form of procrastination. So instead of procrastinating I will write about it. Hmm, something is amiss…I’ll have to think about that tomorrow.

I said Chester likes the snow…here is proof. He goes out and before doing anything he buries his face in the snow. Why, Chester, why? I guess dogs can’t drink coffee to wake up!

As for his vet appointment, it was a dog party for Chester! My husband and I sat in the room while the vet took Chester “in the back to see the girls.” We heard laughing and when he finally came back to us he was carrying a squeaky pig (aka bunny) and reportedly had several treats. He is fine. He has to take antibiotics and an antihistamine for the itching. We have to take him back (for more treats) in two weeks. He is most agreeable! Stay warm and have a wonderful weekend!

Snow adventures and a bad movie

Chester and I have continued to walk even after the snowpacalypse of the last week. It has been cold and snowy here. Chester likes the snow except for one thing: he can’t find a place to poop. Before the snow he pooped on the grass. Now, this is all he sees.

Not all grass is created equal either. There are some spots that are waiting for him, but he doesn’t go there. After walking farther than usual, he leaves a deposit on the mushy part of the snow. Not ideal but easy to pick up.

I thought maybe he was getting bored with the same old route and decided to take him to the other side of the tracks, that is across Bacon Road. I made a critical error in thinking. We crossed Bacon to be met with a two-foot snow wall. Obviously the snowplows had been by.

OK, it wasn’t quite this bad…

Cars were coming so I pulled Chester over the wall. Unfortunately, the snow on the other side of the wall was deeper. It had not been touched and was up to my knees and Chester’s chest. He tried to turn around toward the road, but we had to walk at least to the next street because I couldn’t brave the Bacon wall again with the traffic. I wasn’t sure we would emerge intact. So we slogged on to the next road. It was rough going. It was like walking through a ball crawl if the balls weighed several pounds each. I either had to lift my leg above the snow, or scoot through with a wiggle-wiggle squish-squish movement.  Poor Chester would take about three leaps in a beautiful deer imitation, then peer longingly over the snow at Bacon Road. I almost called my husband to pick us up but I never would have lived it down. We plodded on. Finally, we reached the little road that opened to Bacon.

We crossed Bacon, but there are no sidewalks on Bacon Road. Luckily there are driveways. It was wall, driveway, wall, driveway. We stood in the driveway of a house, then in between traffic, we hustled to the next driveway. We would wait there for a break in cars, then do it again. I’m glad I played so much Frogger. Finally we made it back to the development and walked down the middle of the street with pleasure.

I can’t complain since Lake and Cuyahoga Counties do a pretty good job of snow removal. I grew up in Toledo where they just toss some salt on it and call it a day. We are technically in the “snow belt” and lake effect snow is a real thing, so our crews are ready. You may have missed this news gem: Ohio Turnpike decided to name their snowplows. The Turnpike commission asked the public for ideas in a naming contest. The winners were announced. They include Darth Blader, Snow Force One, OH snow you didn’t, Snowbe Wan Kenobi, and Plowy McPlowface. I’m telling you, in Ohio we love our plows! Now kiddies can say “Oh look mommy, there’s Plowy McPlowface!” and “way to go Sir Plows-a-lot!” (Yes, that was another winner.)

Snow More Mr. Ice Guy, named by Sebastian Calo of Cleveland Heights, is at the Boston Maintenance Building 6 in Richfield.
One of Ohio’s finest, Snow More Mr. Ice Guy

With all the snow, there are limited opportunities for entertainment. Our kids went sledding with the grandkids but 1) it’s cold and 2) we’re old. That sounds like our mantra: it’s cold and we’re old. We could ski, but..(repeat mantra.) We could go to a bar or something but we’d have to go outside and..(repeat mantra). So, we watched movies.

There are bad movies, there are baaaad movies, and there are movies so awful that they would have to work to rise to six feet below bad. Such was “Snow White and the Three Stooges.” This movie was not one like “Plan 9 From Outer Space” which many believe is the worst movie ever. Not even close. This made Plan 9 look like an Oscar winner. This was also not bad in the vein of the Three Stooges being bad anyway. Like, what do you expect, it sounds bad from the get go. That doesn’t do this one justice.

A side note, I have yet to find a female who enjoys the Three Stooges. Guys laugh at it like it’s uproariously funny. I don’t get it. Even our daughter, who my husband tried to indoctrinate, thought it was ridiculous and turned away. And she was only four years old.

No, this 1961 movie was literally the worst I have ever seen. It was like a train wreck. We couldn’t look away because we wanted to see the next horror they could pull out. And pull out they did.

The one with the remote won’t change the channel.

The Three Stooges were hardly in the movie. Although this should make me like it more, by the end I was praying that the Stooges would reappear.  Please, please, I’ll never ask again, bring on the Stooges! The movie starred an ice skater, Carol Heiss, who was coming off an Olympic gold medal performance. They tossed in a couple songs thinking a musical number or two would show the sincerity of the plot. If only there was a plot. Neither Ms. Heiss nor Prince Charming could sing. They were dubbed by a singer from the Lawrence Welk Show and some other poor soul.  It was like a lip sync festival.  

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A world of beauty and rollicking fun for everyone! Why is this in black and white? And yes, there was a witch on a broomstick in the movie.

Not being a singer, Ms. Heiss was cast to try to meld her ice-skating fame with that of the Stooges in their final years of dubious popularity. Sure, ice skating/stooges/musical. Skoogical! Sounds like a winner! To capitalize on her skating, they put a dream sequence in the middle of the movie. It was in oranges and yellows with an exceptionally long (or maybe it just felt like that) skating number involving some children sliding around. When the dream was over, it was back to the Stooges plonking each other on the head with assorted cabin items. While Snow White was busy happily cleaning the house (ugh) the Queen’s accomplice turned the Queen into a witch at the Queen’s request with his magic sword that went woo-woo-woo and radiated green and white light. Snow White must have eaten the apple because the next thing we knew the Stooges were mourning over her dead but remarkably lifelike body. Luckily Curly Joe (Stooge fans are groaning) got hold of the sword and saved the day (whew! I was worried!)

Needless to say we watched it to the end. I’m not proud of that. But honestly, I laughed harder than I do at bad karaoke. Granted, some of it was bad karaoke. I highly recommend it to those of you (and you know who you are) who have a warped sense of humor and a couple hours. Well worth it!

I have been posting on Wednesdays, which sort of works for me, but I decided to change it up. I’m going to go back to posting on Fridays. I greatly appreciate you and thought you might have more time to read on the weekend. Meanwhile, here’s a picture of Chester after “The Snow Wall of Bacon” walk. Have a good week!

Eyeglasses and a mysterious person

America’s Best sent me a notice that it’s time for my eye exam. I hate eye exams. Family legend has it that I spilled gasoline in my eyes when I was five years old. Disregarding the obvious question about what a five-year-old me was doing pulling gasoline off a shelf, and what I thought I was going to do with it, the subsequent trauma was enough that it is completely buried in my psyche. I have no memory other than a severe distaste for eye exams, bordering on terror. The antagonist in my eye exam story is the little puff of air they shoot at the victim’s eyeball. Eye drops…forget it. Those are an impossibility. I have learned to ask the Optometrist if I can try to put them in myself but even then it’s a 50/50 proposition. Part of my brain says just do it, and the other part is telling one hand to grab the other and stop. The only two things that motivate me to enter this torture chamber are 1) our insurance pays for one per year and 2) I get new glasses.

America’s Best sent me this. Not sure who Hillary is but two tones are intriguing! I want to live on hipstreet too!

I didn’t always wear glasses. When I was a kid I did not, until about 6th grade. My sister got to wear the vogue, stylish cat glasses but they just didn’t look good on me. Instead, I opted for the brown tortoise shell, octagonal, heavy ones that looked SOOO MUCH better. Here is a picture of the happy siblings with our new puppy Socrates and new glasses.

Our parents insisted on using photo Christmas cards…note the styrofoam Santa instead of a wreath. It was the 60s you know!

A side note: I have always preferred fashion to function. I would figure out how to wear something (think 4” heels) to school even if I slid down the hallway like I was an Olympian bobsledder.  

Unfortunately, a friend had gotten similar glasses which truly did not factor into my decision. I never was a fashion follower, preferring to wear what I liked. I had a blue fuzzy sweater that stupid Ricky said made me look like Bigfoot but I didn’t care. And neither did I care that my friend had similar glasses even though she made it clear to the Trilby Elementary sixth grade that “I copied her”. Shoot, about seven other girls had the same glasses. Never mind, in another year I was off to junior high! And I had been introduced to the beauty of changing my appearance instantly!

In Junior High, I quickly took advantage and procured some wire rims for the hippie, John Denver loving me. I still stayed with the oversized frames, maybe trying to hide my face. I guess I was a little introverted.

Take me home….country roads….this was an Orchestra picture, hence the suit.

In high school, I went with slightly thinner wire rims. As you can see, the happy siblings minus one have entered teenage years. We were mad that we had to stand next to each other. You can’t see the glasses that well but they are there if you can get past the scowl.

When I was in college I went for a cool aviator look. This was my one experience with the glasses that darken when you go into the sun. It seemed like a good idea but when I walked into a building I stumbled around a little until they lightened again. It took forever which to me was about a minute. This technology may have improved since then and I escaped relatively unscathed not counting a few bruises from the drinking fountains I walked into. Luckily I was into Dr. Scholl’s footwear and not the heels. The aviators looked good and I didn’t care.

The 80s were all about big hair and big glasses in bright colors. I had two pair, one pink and one blue. I started taking off my glasses for photos, but they looked something like this.

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I also got married, cut my hair like Joan Jett, and had two babies. I’m not sure what happened to that decade but in the 90s I went back to the wire rims, this time black. Since then, I have had multiple fashion flip-flops in glasses…from wire to plastic to color to black. Here is a photo of the last 20 years or so, all my glasses in their various stages of vision and beauty assist.

Yes, I keep them all. I actually still do wear them all. It depends what else I am wearing. The thinner wire rims are more comfortable for outside but aren’t as strong for reading. The newer ones are plastic and hurt my nose but are stronger. I have two computer pair also (not pictured). The heavier, dark blue ones are for when I want to look intelligent. The white ones are the most recent but they hurt my ears. My favorites are the black and white ones but the finish is getting beat up. I never did go for contacts because…well the whole touching my eye thing freaked me out. Plus I need bifocals for reading. None of the glasses are perfect but the next pair will be!

I am excited to go to my appointment. The biggest reason is because they NO LONGER USE THE PUFF OF AIR!!!!!! They have some new machine that takes a picture of your eye. Much better! And I’ll get new glasses😊 Sign me up! What will they look like? I kind of like the two color picture in the America’s Best ad. I may try the darkening ones again! I’ll be sure to post a pic. Whatever they look like will be a nice mid-winter boost. Nobody will recognize me!

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yeah, that’s me. for real. I’m feeling it!

Chester and I went to Lakeshore Reservation for a walk. We were the only ones in the (very cold) park with the wind blowing off the lake. We weren’t there long. Someone pulled in the parking lot with us but didn’t get out of the car. Being a former investigator, I noted the license plate and suspiciously kept checking back mostly to see if they had a dog. It could be Jack the Ripper and I’d still want to talk to them about their dog. The license plate had FLZ so I thought they might have one. (a dog, not flz) We walked around but I was a little hesitant to go deep into the woods with Michael Myers waiting in his car. Plus, if Chester decides he is cold I can’t exactly carry him back.

It was sooo cold!
The woods are lovely, dark and deep…nah, not today.

I feel pretty safe with Chester. He may be kind of a dork but he’s big and can look threatening, at least from a distance if you ignore the tail wag. He wasn’t cooperating with Operation Mean Dog though. He kept sniffing the grass, peeing on the trees, and causing me to stop and wait. This interrupted my confident kick-ass stride designed to let people know I mean business. I learned it while substitute teaching. I used to wear very loud heals and walk forcefully on the tile floor of the hall so the kids would hear me coming and settle. Other than the previously mentioned propensity to bobsled, it worked! If I fell I would have tried to slide into the classroom like I was sliding into second base. That would have been impressive, especially if I poked one of the kids with a heel.

Come on, isn’t this every teacher’s dream?

When we got done sniffing up to the lake and back the person was still in the car. At that point I thought he/she was just a lot smarter than me and Chester. You can look at the lake and not go outside. We were freezing. The sight of Chester pulling me to the car was probably amusing and must have dissuaded Freddy Krueger from his oh-so-likely chainsaw massacre because we never did see hide nor hair of a person.  

I tried to get some nice pics of Chester looking at the lake, but he wasn’t interested in the lake. So, I tried to get a selfie with him. This is what happened. Oh well…who doesn’t love a good dog snoot picture? I think his drool froze into icicles.

Have a good week!!

Chester’s wild and crazy night

While Chester does love snow, he’s not so fond of the cold. My husband and I are perfectly happy to sit in front of the fireplace and binge “Law and Order” but I think Chester is a little bored. His day consists of lying on the couch and watching for squirrels. Lately even the squirrels have been binging “Law and Order” in their nests (they have a mini tv and peanuts), so Chester has been relegated to watching birds. Here is his usual routine, and keep in mind it takes him about 5 minutes to do the whole thing.

First, he notices the bird. It takes some time to decide whether to do anything about it: get up vs go back to sleep. Get up vs sleep. Up vs sleep…About half the time he decides to get up.

Second step is to start to lift that overweight body up. I know the feeling, Chester. He could still turn back. Turn back, Chester!

His third step is the point of no return. He stands with his front half off and his back half on the couch for seriously 2-3 minutes. He stretches his front half then very slowly lowers his back half to the floor, one foot at a time.

He then stands at the door and stares at the bird. Does he go out? Nah. He lies down on the floor in front of the door. The bird flies away and he feels he has done his duty, so he gets back up on the couch and falls asleep again.

Now this is mellow fellow is why we adopted a “senior” dog; he was five years old when we got him. But this is not the energetic pup that the kennel said “never stops moving” and his laziness probably contributes to his weight gain. It’s too cold for long walks although we do make the effort. He walks a little, poops, then turns around and pulls us toward home. Then gets a biscuit and falls asleep.

Yesterday I had to go to the pet store for cat food, drop off stuff at Goodwill, and get an iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts. I took Chester with me. He was a good boy at the pet store (meaning he didn’t pee on the merchandise) until we reached the cash register. Just like the candy at the grocery stores right at kid level, there are bones and rawhides at dog snoot level. He grabbed a rawhide for the road. I didn’t realize it until the cashier said, “Can he have that?” He carried it out to the car. He then got a donut hole at the Dunkin Donuts drive through. “Can your puppy have a treat?” I gave an extra dollar to the tip jar. While this is a nice diversion for Chester, the real treat was yet to come.

My husband had ordered a Bark Box for Chester for Christmas. It contained the infamous Bumble toy I admired in a previous post. What he didn’t realize is that it is one of those monthly subscriptions that you have to cancel. I hate those. He went to war with Bark Box but alas (or yippee, depending who you ask) the box was already en route. It arrived last night.

Chester was happily and peacefully gnawing on his large bone when John opened the box. He pulled out a fuzzy purple thing and squeaked it.  Instantly Chester jumped up and stood laser focused. He pawed at John and sat, gave paw, and lay down (the extent of his tricks) in about 3 seconds. John gave him the fuzzy purple thing (a slipper we figured out) and the Chester party began. He chewed and ran around with it, squeaking it constantly for the next hour. We couldn’t hear “Law and Order” because this thing was so loud. I do mean loud, and if you’ve ever heard a loud squeaky toy nonstop for literally an hour, you understand. He took a break for a few minutes halfway through to get one or two of the treats they sent then bounced back and forth inside and outside a few times. If you can picture someone who is “the life of the party” with a party hat, arms in the air, blowing one of those noise blower things and screaming “Woo hoo”, you can picture Chester.

Don’t even think about taking this bunny!

After a couple hours the purple fuzzy slipper was demolished. He had torn it to bits and found the plastic squeaker. He ran around squeaking the squeaker, then chewed it and spit the remnants on the floor. I love finding pieces of it when I walk barefoot to get coffee…Since the fuzzy slipper was now retired to the pile of has-been bunnies, he turned his attention to destroying the box itself.

The bumble still reigns. He is eating the new bunny.
We are leaving this for further shredding later tonight. He can do better.

Chester didn’t calm down for a good while. My husband commented that the fuzzy slipper was like catnip for cats, and he was probably high. Finally he crashed in the middle of his mess. When he went to bed he left the clean up for me.

The aftermath of hurricane Chester

This morning Chester was back to his place on the couch watching birds. I think despite the party hangover it did him good. He seems more energetic. It’s not so cold today and most of the snow melted. He has been outside chasing squirrels and staring at the trees desperately praying that a squirrel will fall out and land at his feet.

Oh please please please…

We do have one more toy that I hid next to the refrigerator. In Cleveland we’re guaranteed to have another cold spell. For now though it’s good to have him back to his ornery self!

Have a good week!

Chester’s Christmas 2021

Well all I can say is that hell probably froze over during the last week. This will be the Christmas that keeps on giving since the grandkids and I tested positive for COVID on Christmas Eve. Yes, I was vaxxed, boosted, and masked. Go figure. The positive was that it’s just like a bad cold, no worse, and we had Christmas Eve outside around a campfire. I was bemoaning the lack of snow but it turned out to be a good thing. For once Cleveland weather cooperated! (One example of hell freezing over!) We had a very nice visit, maybe one of my favorites. Kind of like the “whos” in Whoville. We didn’t clasp hands and sing (I sang “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” a few times) but we exchanged gifts and enjoyed the time together.

Christmas eve

Unfortunately when I got home I was in a hurry to go to the bathroom and dropped my phone in the toilet. Ewww, yes I did reach in and retrieve it. I dried it off and it worked! No harm done to the phone! I, on the other hand, cringe whenever I touch it. It reminds me of a Seinfeld episode and I think I will have to get a new phone.

On Christmas Eve I got a stuffed hippopotamus which is adorable. I set it on the table next to me. We watched “White Christmas” while marveling that a barn could turn into a huge stage instantly. Chester stared at the hippo with focused intent.

I said “no” several times but he was convinced that the hippo was a bunny and should be eaten. His snoot got closer and closer to the hippo. I knew his restraint wouldn’t last forever so I put the hippo in a bedroom and shut the door. Next thing we knew, we heard a crash in the kitchen. Chester had pulled a plate of cookies off the counter. I had made about 700 cookies the day before I tested positive. I couldn’t give them to anyone with a clear conscience. Who would eat them? If they knew that is…. No, even I couldn’t stoop that low. Here, have a plate of cookies and by the way I have COVID. But I did not expect Chester to knock over the Apricot pockets. I think he was mad about the hippo. He ate a few before we got them picked up. Silver lining? I probably didn’t need to eat 700 cookies anyway. Probably.

Chester was lucky that Santa had already left the North Pole when he pulled his cookie shenanigans. Chester received three bunnies this year. He got a red elf/Santa with a big head, a Rudolph, and a white “Bumble” head that looked like a furry softball. He handled the elf pretty quickly. Rudolph took longer to shred. The winner by far is the Bumble! Bumble squeaks with a high pitched shrill scream. It is round and there are no limbs to grab or bite into. He nibbled a little fur to get a toothhold but to no avail. We had been playing “got your bunny” for a few days and while slimy, the Bumble survived. I came down to see this…

It’s as if the Bumble is in the big time wrestling ring having vanquished his stuffed foes. He is looking for round 4 with Chester. Chester is not afraid!

Got your bunny!

On day 4 the Bumble crumbled. Chester pulled out the stuffing to find another toy inside! He revealed a red rubber type ball. Yes, hell almost froze over…4 days is a record for stuffed bunny annihilation.

Another successful Christmas for Chester

Another hopefully successful gift was the orthopedic cat bowl.

Our cat Milo sneezes and vomits frequently due to his cleft palate. He gets a lot of air and water where it shouldn’t be. If this can slow down the vomiting I’ll be happy. When I went to sleep on Christmas Eve Milo threw up on me. Nothing like a warm, wet, smelly spot that seeps through to your leg. Just one more nail in the 2021 Christmas coffin of events. But he can’t help it and he loves me as evidenced by the aforementioned incident.

The cats also got massaging combs. Amazingly they love them! Zeus usually runs when he sees the brush, and he sat still for me to comb him. It’s getting warmer and warmer in hell….

On Christmas we went for a walk in the park. It was warm and nice. I took some pictures of the winter view and Chester sniffed up and down the trail.

When we got home, having been revitalized by nature, I was sitting next to him and looked over…there was a tick crawling on my arm. I guess it was because we haven’t had a lot of cold weather. But really??? I almost lost my positive spirit. I have no silver lining for ticks. It was just one though, and then there were none.

This Christmas was not a Hallmark Christmas but it was our Christmas. Our chickens continue to blaze in the front yard and the Styrofoam Santa rules the family room. Chester is enjoying chasing the FIVE squirrels that I put peanuts out for who seem to think they can open the peanut bucket themselves.  We did get a coating of snow the day after Christmas so I think the fates are finished with their tantrums and are apologizing. I think 2021 wanted to get in all of the last remnants of suckiness that it could but now we can move on. Sometimes you have to let the flowers arrange themselves.

Have a wonderful week and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas

Tomorrow is Christmas. No, not a white Christmas. My NY kids aren’t coming back to Ohio due to COVID. Events are questionable and many cancelled. The local kids and grandkids are going to test for COVID in a bit to see if they can come over. But that will use up all their tests. It reminds me of a Seinfeld episode…is whatever sniffle, cough, or headache testworthy? Sheesh. Bad news is heard on every front–many people are working through grief and struggles. But it’s Christmas nonetheless.

In case you missed it. His 30 seconds of cooperation for the promise of Santa goodies.

Since it may help to know that some things remain the same, Chester seems in fine spirits, chasing squirrels and keeping the hawk away. I was baking cookies when he was outside. He stays out for a long time, and we often can’t get him in even by shaking the Milkbones. So I decided to go about my business. Wrong choice, dog mom. I heard him bark and this is the face I saw at the door.

The marks that look like icicles on him are not…they are snoot marks on the door. You’d think I was killing him.

Of course he has gifts coming…a special box purchased by my husband without my knowledge. He’s a softie. The kitties do too, just what they wanted I’m sure, a new comb, a toy, and some treats. This is what we do for Christmas, spoil the pets.

The Milk Bone box and can of cat food are empty. He took them off the counter and is hoarding them.

Spoiling pets is the one thing we can do no matter what the outside world throws at us. It’s all about paring down the rest of it. Christmas celebrating doesn’t have to be on one particular day…in fact most religious scholars think Jesus’ birth was not on December 25th. Shoot, alot of people have been celebrating since Halloween. We will postpone our visits and gift exchanging. Not sure about the tree. I’d like to leave it up until they come but in a week or two it may a little ragged.

See the source image

As for the actual Christmas? I feel a little weird wishing you a Merry Christmas if the Merry means partying and visits and celebrating. So maybe this year I’ll wish you a gentle Christmas. A peaceful, quiet, Christmas with at least a moment where you are touched by something special. It may only be a moment this year. But that’s OK, we’ll take it! That’s all we need.

Chester hopes his doggie friends have this kind of Christmas and dream of good things like bunnies and squirrels and treats!

The best Christmas contest ever and the squirrel threat…

They say a mother can pick out her baby’s cry from all others. That may be why at 6:30am I woke to Chester barking. It sounded like he was outside. I thought my husband would let him in but the barking continued with urgency. I got up to see if he was OK. My husband was at the door looking at him…out in the yard with a squirrel up the tree. Why on God’s green earth the stupid squirrels have to get up at 6:30am is beyond me.  I was mortified that the neighbors might think we left him out and were bad dog owners or that he would wake them. My husband went to make coffee and didn’t care one bit about the neighbors. He sat down to watch the news while I tried to get the hound in. I shook the Milk Bone box and called to him with excitement. I tried yelling “Kong, kong” over and over. Nope. The squirrel just sat in the tree clucking at Chester. Chester jumped up and down in the mud barking. Did I mention the whole yard is mud? From November to March. I went onto the deck with cat treats but finally went in, figuring that the vision of me in my pajamas yelling “Kong, kong, biscuit” would disturb the neighbors more than him barking.

What we didn’t learn until later is that those squirrels better up their game. They outsmart Chester easily and with glee, but recently we looked outside and saw a more significant threat.

Our new friend the hawk

This hawk has shown up before. My sister the naturalist says “you can tell by the relatively broad tail that this is a Red-tailed Hawk.  They are our largest of Ohio resident buteo (mammal-eating) hawks, so I am not surprised that you commented on its size when we talked on the phone!  The females are regularly larger than the males, so this is likely a female. Your squirrels better watch out! 😊” Oh no! Now I have to worry about the stupid squirrels!

We are having high winds here in Cleveland. My sister gets a certain pleasure from thinking about my little solar powered chickens being fine in the wind while the inflatables blow around the neighborhood. I take no pleasure in my neighbor’s misfortune, but I did take quite a bit of pleasure in the video of the bear attacking the inflatable reindeer. If you look up bear attacking reindeer inflatable you too can live vicariously through the bear. At this point, I’m right on the very thin line of love and hate regarding Christmas. One push and I’m rooting for the bear. That’s when the alcohol needs to come out.

See the source image

I wanted to take this opportunity to share what is one of our family’s favorite Christmas contests ever. It is destined to go down in Whitmer High School history. You see, my father was a high school English teacher for probably 30 years. The principal decided it would be a great idea and spread the holiday spirit if the teachers competed in a door decorating contest. My dad was all in.

My father was a fisherman. He had a mounted huge fish hanging on the wall of the garage. We kids thought it was weird but matter of factly lived with it, for the most part ignoring it. We ignored it for about 15 years when it made its grand appearance on the door of my father’s classroom. He had replaced the eye with a red light to give nod to Christmas. I’m not sure if he cleaned it up otherwise, but it was placed on a festive display of green and red shiny paper on the door of a high school classroom. The red light glowed as if a demon fish came out of the deep shiny green paper to leap into the pages of the English textbook. The ants in the room marched out to view the display of creativity and wonder.

The door did not win. The committee walked by but didn’t stop. My father was rather dismayed after all the hard work he put in with the eye and all. We just shook our heads and went about our day to day school trials, and the fish regained its place in the garage, albeit with a red eye. Ultimately I’m not sure what happened to the fish. It probably disintegrated to scales and cobwebs. But like a Christmas tree, it had its moment of glory. In our minds, our father won.

I don’t have a picture of the fish, regrettably. But here’s the next best thing. Chester was such a good boy to leave his antlers on for two minutes. That’s one minute and 30 seconds more than last year!

The reason for this cooperation is this:

Hang in there! Have a good week!

New Christmas decorations and Chester testing Santa…

I may have mentioned that for a few years I have wanted white light up deer for a Christmas decoration. I had the chance when our neighbor moved and was selling her deer. She put the kibosh on the sale though when she said “it’s just what to do with them after Christmas that’s the problem.” They put them in the garage attic which has potential for serious spousal injury. It was my golden opportunity and I did not buy them. Instead, I bought a leg lamp.

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The major award in its glory

If you are familiar with the movie “A Christmas Story” (and who isn’t..somehow 24 hours of Ralphie and his bb gun strikes a chord at Christmas) then you will understand the leg lamp. The movie was partially filmed in Cleveland and I remember when they wanted extras. It was in the early 80s and they wanted people to come in winter old fashioned coats for the Higbee’s store and parade scene. It was the middle of summer so I passed. I could have been a star! At least we have a major award to call our own. But I digress…back to the deer.

My husband has inexplicably rejected the notion of the deer. He is a kind and considerate man, however. Last week when I got home he asked me if I came in the front door. I said no. He asked if I looked at the sidewalk. No. He asked if I noticed ANYTHING at all…no. He led me to the front door and showed me three little lighted objects by the sidewalk.

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I wasn’t sure what they were…flames? Spaceships? That’s all I could come up with. He looked very pleased with himself and said “they’re chickens.” I honestly couldn’t do anything  but repeat…chickens? You know how in cozy mysteries or romances, someone always “sputters”? This is the only time in my life I sputtered. He said “I thought they would be bigger.” Three solar powered lighted chickens.  Here is a picture of a chicken unlit.

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It took me a few minutes to wrap my head around the chickens in the front yard but I love them! They are unique in our neighborhood of inflatable Santas and snowmen, and of course light up deer. It was one of my favorite gifts ever! I think they are a reference to the napkins I put in his lunch. I make his lunch on the days he goes into the office, figuring if he has to drive in it’s the least I can do. Plus I have all day to rest up from the effort of making a lunch. Anyway, on the napkin I draw chicken man and his friends/family doing relevant activities.

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a preview of coming chickenman activities

For example, chickens went to the summer Olympics. We had vaulting chicken, balance beam chicken, and flame carrying chicken. This morning chickens were having fun in the snow, making snow angel chickens, snow chickenmen, and throwing snowballs at each other. As you may have guessed we have snow!

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Chester loves the snow. He runs out full speed, launching off the deck like he saw a bunny, and does zoomies around the yard. He buries his face in it and throws the snow in the air with his snoot. He eats the snow off of the deck or licks the ice. He then runs in the house and shakes snow all over. It’s pretty predictable overall. Last night though he was in a mood. He went out and in three times, getting a biscuit after each time. Finally, when he asked to go out again, I said no. I mean come on, enough is enough.

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It’s me again…

Usually when I say no he’s ok with it, jumps on the couch and watches tv, falls asleep or chews his bone. Last night he was not taking no for an answer. He went into the kitchen and brought out anything he could reach off the counter. He brought out kitchen utensils, silverware, baggies, whatever he could grab. He trotted out with the forbidden item and side-eyed us to see if we noticed. One of us said “No, Chester” and took it back to the kitchen. He thinks if we go into the kitchen, he will get a biscuit, so he prances into the kitchen with us. We do not reward this bad behavior but hope springs eternal. Kitchen = biscuit. The last hurrah was when he came out with the stick of butter. I grabbed it, slimy and all, and threw it out. I also said no. Then I washed my hands. Maybe not in that order. It was disgusting. He finally gave up and lay down by the fire, cuddling his long-suffering bunny.

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As you see, he is wasting away to nothing without another biscuit..

He does not understand that Santa is watching. Dog presents are still at the North Pole. They won’t hit our house until the day before Christmas Eve, since someone would be insufferable in his quest to investigate.

Truth is, we could change this behavior, but his attempt at rebellion isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When we first got him he was pretty anxious and worried. My husband said last night that “he has grown into his own Chester skin” and is a true hound. This is true. A little badness is also his attempt at controlling his world, and it shows he is not afraid of us. Shoot, one of our past dogs ate a whole stick of butter AND a half loaf of bread. At least Chester spared the bread!

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Just wait until tomorrow

Time to put the chains on my boots. While our street isn’t bad, I’m paranoid about falling. I’ve fallen twice and Chester didn’t do anything except take the opportunity to look for Enzo or a bunny. I could lie there for days, a lump in the snow, and he would run off and join a gang. The bad dog gang. Good thing he’s cute!

Thanksgiving, Michigan, and Chester’s new bff…

Thanksgiving is over. It has taken me almost a whole week to recover! We had 13 people for dinner, which is a nice amount. It was a fun group, good conversation, the food turned out ok except for the gravy (too much flour…when my husband said it looked pale I should have known). But the highlight of Chester’s day was making a new best friend.

Buckley

Buckley came to visit from NYC. When my daughter asked about bringing him, I thought he was a pit bull. I was hesitant until she clarified that no, Buckley is a Chihuahua puppy. Slight difference.  I figured Chester would either be scared of him, eat him, or just tolerate him. What I didn’t expect was that Chester would love him! They ran around the house, first Chester chasing Buckley then Buckley chasing Chester.

After the first night, Chester was exhausted. It’s harder to exhaust a Chihuahua puppy. Buckley kept trying to get Chester to run around again. Chester responded less enthusiastically by ignoring him.

Luckily the grandsons were here on Thanksgiving to throw toys and play tug with Sir Buckley. By the end of his visit we all loved him, and he made himself at home.

Just two buddies watching the squirrels

When he left, Chester gathered up the toys and cat bowls into his bed and fell asleep. We did the same without the cat bowls.

I guess it’s time to take down the cornstalks. I have been very lethargic. I was watching Chester chase the squirrels in the backyard and I realized that they just jump and run from one tree branch to the other. Chester is far below them (praying for a loose branch) but they go from yard to yard. Any dog yapping is left below. I was thinking that I should enter the holidays like that…just go about my business up above and leave yappy people below. I don’t have too many yappy people in my life, being retired and all, but it’s probably a good way to live. Speaking of doing good, I had 102 emails for Giving Tuesday. Why do they make giving Tuesday after cyber-Monday and Black Friday? How dumb. I already spent my money on oil-change Saturday, vet appointment Monday, and paint the kitchen Wednesday. I did find some to give to City Dogs though. If you dig around enough there’s usually some in the couch cushions and the car.

This year I bet the other grandparents on the Michigan/Ohio State game. We are Michigan fans. We were born into it. In Toledo, you declare a team early in life. My husband and I declared Michigan.

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this is me at Halloween

Anyway, other than being OSU fans, the other grandparents are wonderful people with few character flaws. None of us has attempted to sway the grandchildren one way or another. But, we can certainly bet each other. This year we bet that the loser had to put an ornament of the other team on their Christmas tree. OSU has beaten Michigan for the last decade. So they felt pretty comfortable making the bet. But what they didn’t consider is that with this type of rivalry, anything can happen. That game is in a bubble; records don’t matter. Low and behold, miracle of miracles, Michigan won! This will be my only moment of gloating until the Michigan ornament arrives. Then I will take a picture and show you the true beauty of the season.

This is a pretty boring blog post, even now as I reread it. I feel boring. I am ultimately a boring person. As long as I’m being boring though, an update…..

My husband bought me gold-beard styrofoam Santa for the front door! No sign of any light up deer though. Stay tuned…