Squirrel Shenanigans and a Great Dane Adventure..

Never rest your head on throw pillows

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

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

this has been there at least a week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ready to go!

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

House painting and point of view…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First jobs and a doggie poem…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There once was a doggie named Chester,

when we ate our food he would pester.

We told him to stop,

He grabbed his laptop,

And got a job as a food tester.

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

The wonderfully random world and the Huron River…

I have not been in a good place to write lately. I am not the type to be stressed. I’m usually calm and have coping strategies. But I have had to stop and breathe now and again. 2021 has thrown me a little. I am not going to discuss it with you, because I’m afraid the bitterness will spill out of me and that’s not fair to dump on you. That’s like vomiting; it doesn’t make anyone happy and you have to clean it up yourself while I go vomit elsewhere.  It reminds me of this picture:

A lot of people have been vomiting words. In my favorite movie “Amadeus” the Emperor praises Mozart but adds a comment. He says, “Too many notes.” Yep, we have had waay too many verbal notes and I have mentally suffered from the incessant voices and drama. But just when I think all is not right with the world, something comes along to knock me back into a better place. This week it was, of all things, an oil change.

I went to the Subaru dealer for an oil change after nine months of being overdue. This has been weighing on me since I squinted at the sticker and realized that not only the date was long past, but the miles were too. How did that happen? I haven’t exactly been driving. But although I really wanted to get an oil change (NOT) I waited until I thought the pandemic would be over. Still waiting. Finally feeling guilty every time I drove to Redi Go for a lottery ticket and having my car stare at me, resigned, made me want to change my bad car ownership habit. So I shuffled off to the Subaru dealer.

The Subaru dealer has two waiting rooms–count them– two totally separate rooms. Nobody was in either one. I sat down in the one with the air purifier (confession time; I thought it was a heater then figured I already contaminated the chair so I had to stay there). After about 10 minutes of playing Gummy Drop on my phone, an elderly (even older than me) lady entered the room. There were four seats, and a whole nother waiting room but she had to sit down next to me. Sigh. I pulled my mask around my face and shifted my weight to the other side. That’s when she started hacking up a lung. I swear I thought she was going to keel over right there. I was tharn, like a rabbit in the headlights, unable to move. I pulled my mask so tight that I think I cut off circulation to my brain which is probably why I stayed sitting there.

Next, she made a phone call. On speaker phone of course. She had to leave a message wanting to meet her friend/relative/I’m an investigator but feel like a failure because I couldn’t figure it out/person for lunch at Yours Truly. The last time I was at Yours Truly it was about 100 degrees inside. Kind of like a Denny’s but a little better and hotter. I mentally questioned her choice but apparently it was the friend’s birthday and she had a gift to give. She left a nice loud message then hung up. She had piqued my curiosity but what happened next…well some things…

She hung up, and a loud blast came from the phone. She pushed some buttons and the blast changed.  Blaring from the phone at rock and roll head-banging volume  was “A Horse With No Name.” She glanced over and asked “Do you mind?” I shook my head weakly. We sat and listened to “A Horse With No Name” at full blast in the waiting room of the Subaru dealer. Finally they called her name, and she stood up, said “I like your coat,” I said “thank you, my son picked it out” and that was that.

In that instant I remembered why I chose a people profession. People can be hateful. They can also be random, the kind of random that makes me shrug my shoulders and smile. Who was she? Who was the friend? What on God’s green earth made her need to hear “A Horse with No Name?” Some things are unknowable. But I needed that kick of randomness to knock me back into my reality. Kind of like a string quartet playing “A Horse with No Name” on the Titanic. That would be awesome.  We are OK, friends. Go ahead and breathe…

Now lest you think I forgot about Chester, we had a superb walk in Huron. We had the family Christmas, and had arranged a meeting point between Cleveland and Toledo to swap gifts. We chose a park that sounded great, so planned to take a walk. It was a bird sanctuary. Some of you in the know are nodding wisely…you guessed it, we arrived to see a big old “No Pets Allowed” sign. Really? I get it, the birds would be scared of Chester. I did wonder what other pets they are referring to…goats? Maybe horses, or alpacas? Anyway, we arranged to meet at the Shell station on Rye Beach Road and see if Google knew of another park. My husband’s British accent lady voice took us through what probably used to be a vacation cottage town and found a very nice park. A very nice PRIVATE park as the sign said. Remember the song “Signs”? The best part of that song was the “ugh” which I totally get now. I too am done with signs!

Back to the British accent lady voice. The third and final park was the jackpot. Huron River Park was just lovely, with a nice walking path and ice in a pond. I guess it may have been the Huron River actually since it’s called the Huron River Park. That just came to me…The ice kept cracking loudly. We freaked out at first thinking it was a Squatch in them there woods. But no, just ice… I think…I hope. That’s what my sister said, and she would know. We walked a couple miles, exchanged the gifts and I am now the proud owner of a cat eating a bunch of gnomes figurine.

Chester was so exhausted he slept in the car and all that night. He was so tired! I am including a couple pictures of him enjoying the day. It was great to get out. Between that and the oil change lady I’m feeling right with the world. It’s a beautiful place!

Chester looking for Bigfoot

After Christmas and bobber coolers…

So this is after Christmas, and what have you done…that song takes on a whole new meaning when the answer is eat about 1000 cookies and Hershey kisses, watch 6 feet of snow fall while sitting on the couch eating said cookies, and watching Chester tear up his Christmas toys. Ugh I feel like a blimp. A lazy blimp. Feeling like a blimp is not necessarily motivation enough.

After Christmas is a letdown. The kids are back in New York, the festivities are over, and the High family Christmas has been accomplished virtually. The High family Christmas is my side of the family and is one of my favorite traditions. When my dad died, we decided to exchange gifts that would be ones like my dad would buy. He would get two tons of catalogs in the mail each year and pour over them searching for the perfect gift. He picked out the most interesting gifts for certain, and usually good quality. He had a good eye. That’s what we try to do with varying degrees of success. One of the first years I bought a bobber cooler since he used to name the bobbers with a sharpie; “Ali-baba” and such. The cooler was such a hit that the next year someone else bought one to give. This was met with a round of “huh?” but OK. After the third cooler, we took to NOT choosing boxes shaped anywhere near the size of a bobber cooler. Some people got creative. My husband used a bobber sized box for some tiny electronic product one year. Then my son filled up the bobber with beer one year—that one was pretty popular. This year there was a bobber but I could not believe that it really was a bobber so I chose it. If it quacks like a duck….it’s a bobber. It had a gift certificate to a restaurant in it which someone immediately stole. I left the virtual party bobber-less.

Chester had a doggie’s dream of a Christmas. On Christmas eve there was a bunny in the yard. The bunny ran under the shed, then while Chester got hung up on a pile of brush the bunny exited the front of the shed and ran into the neighbor’s yard. Chester never saw it so ran around trailing the bunny for about a half hour. He came in muddy and tired and got a biscuit.

On Christmas he got a new bed to accommodate his expanding body. He also got two toys which he destroyed, and some Oreo shaped doggie cookies. Gonna need a bigger bed.

On Christmas he also got to see the grandkids. He loves the grandkids. He met our daughter’s fiancée and followed him around monitoring his every move. He also got treats and toys from them, including the mother of all toys.

This toy was a stuffed nutcracker/soldier with three, yes three squeakers, one in the head and one in each foot! It took Chester multiple hours to defeat the evil creature. This was the culmination of weeks of barking at UPS/FedEx/USPS/Amazon delivery people. Bless them.

Anyway, the Christmas blues set in yesterday so I again did nothing. I ate cookies and cheese and candy and sat on the couch. Today I decided to eat cookies and make a list of things to do after Christmas to treat myself since my candy is gone.

  1. Get a pedicure. I love pedicures and since I can’t reach my toes very easily this is a treat.
  2. Get one more peppermint mocha before they’re gone. No further explanation needed.
  3. Try to train Chester not to pull me when he sees Enzo. I’m thinking clicker and treats. He really needs to go on a diet too so not sure how that will work.
  4. Try to keep the bird squirrel feeder filled and potentially build a squirrel obstacle course.
  5. Watch more old movies.

These are just starts but doable. Yes, I can drink Peppermint Mocha and watch old movies!

And now we move on. It’s time for the “best of” and “worst of” lists and hope for a good year ahead. I think maybe hope is the wrong word. I think maybe I will decide to make it a good year. Let’s have a happy New Year and make it happen. We got this!