The Bobber Cooler

Every Christmas my sister, brother and their families and us gather at one of our houses for the family Christmas. We used to congregate at my dad’s house, but when he died years ago we started a new tradition. The tradition was tweaked over the years, especially during the pandemic, but I think I can say at this point it is what it is.

Chester is not too happy with the cold weather. Plus I made him wait while I took a picture.

Have you ever played the game where you place a wrapped gift somewhere (usually under a tree or on a table) and someone can pick it? Then you can trade back and forth until finally everybody is all traded out. Theoretically everyone goes home happy. We do that but with the stipulation that the gift should be one our father would likely have purchased.

Dad was a quirky gentleman who bought quirky gifts. He would get pounds and pounds of catalogs (before online shopping) and at one point the mailperson complained. It didn’t matter, he just ordered more. He would keep notes on what he ordered. The problem was (depending on if you think it is a problem) he couldn’t stop. He would see just one more thing for someone and had to purchase it. Then he’d have to purchase something else, and stuff for stockings. Yes, he put up stockings for everyone, and if the gifts overflowed, he would place a paper bag on the hearth and call it the “annex.” His tree was a live one, but small, and stood on a card table with all the gifts underneath.

My dad had good taste, but he enjoyed humorous gifts too. Usually it was appreciated except maybe the egg separator that looked like a nose. The egg whites came out the nostrils. I never used it…I just couldn’t. But we are even—we once got him a little wooden boy that would pee into dad’s pond when you attached the hose just right. He never put it outside. Really? He didn’t mind the snotty egg but drew the line at pee boy? Anyway, when we started our sibs Christmas, we agreed that the gift we purchased should be anonymous, around $30-40, and remind us of Dad.

Dad loved to fish. I have written about his fishing obsession; the fish are breathing/gilling easier now that he’s no longer around to outsmart them (whether he ever was is up for debate).

The great fisherman in younger years, contemplating his prize.

During the winter he would examine his tackle and name the red and white round bobbers…”whatta bobber”, “ali bobber” for example, and write these names on his bobbers with a sharpie.

One of the originals
and sometimes they had faces…

Imagine my delight when I found the perfect Dad gift at Best Buy! It was a cooler that looked like a bobber! I wrapped it up knowing that someone would love this rather large memento. They did, it was a roaring success!

There are quite a few available on ebay for some reason.

The next year, a family member decided to continue the happiness and bought another bobber cooler. Now there were two in the family! How delightful! The next year, I believe someone bought one and filled it up with beer or something, which (hard to believe) actually increased the trading value. At this point there were mumbles coming from the family that the bobber cooler may have possibly outlived it’s appeal. The next few years people actually predicted and avoided the large bobber cooler packages, since everybody (almost) had one. Yes, almost, because I did not have one.

This year, I chose a large package because frankly I’m getting old and forgetful and I had forgotten about the bobber cooler possibility. My brother brought it to the party and he picks…interesting gifts like the cat going Godzilla on the gnomes that I got a couple years ago.

I opened it and to my surprise it was a bobber cooler!

I don’t know if he is concerned about the cooler or what is inside but he isn’t having it.

It was not just a bobber cooler but a bobber cooler full of pork rinds, sweet potato chips, churro chips and pistachios.

My husband has been working on the pistachios and I finished the churro chips already. Not sure what’s going to become of the pork rinds. Chester kind of likes them, as does my husband…but that’s a lot of pork rinds even for a hound. Another surprise was that nobody stole it from me!? I tried to hide it by surreptitiously keeping it in the bag and scooting it behind my legs but nobody even looked my way. Their loss.

At the end we reveal what we purchased so we can thank the person (I wasn’t supposed to know that it was my brother’s but I saw him come in with it so…can’t fool a former investigator!) My sister-in-law exclaimed to my brother, “Did you give away our bobber cooler?” and “I can’t believe you gave away our bobber cooler!” Somebody is in the doghouse…but we are going to take it back for a visit this summer when they host the first official Bobber Cooler Day at their pool. This may be at the end of the “Donut Trail” outing, a trip you can take in Ohio where you visit bakeries and donut shops. Did you ever go to a Krispy Kreme donut shop and watch the glazed donuts go down the assembly ramp? They used to give us a free one and it was still warm. Did you ever want to lay on a Krispy Kreme roller and be coated with glaze? But I digress….Kentucky has their Bourbon Trail, Ohio does donuts!

Hope your New Year is starting off swimmingly! Chester and the cats are all fine and Chester met a new girlfriend, Zoe, a puppy in the neighborhood. I love it when he makes friends! Have a good week!

Zoe tired him out!

Life fantastic and Christmas on hold

Every year some string of outdoor lights doesn’t work. I’m not sure why…they literally sit in the garage all year without moving. Our weather is not extreme usually so what the heck? But every year it happens. This year it was the lights to the little pine tree next to the garage. We put up the rest and I figured I’d run to the store and get a short string. Sadly, neither CVS nor Dollar General had any lights. I decided to order some online. I ordered a 70 light set of bright pink lights. Why not? When they came, this is the box.

Yes, I did not simply get bright pink lights. I got lights that illuminate my life fantastic! They are LED fairy string lights too! On the back of the box, it says “ These lights will last a long time and you no need to keep on buying new ones year after year. These lights will not overheat and you can leave them on for days.” Wait, days? Despite the dubious reassurance that they won’t burn the house down, and the grammatical error suggesting a job opportunity for a proofreader or interpreter, I am intrigued by the promise that I shall not need to keep buying new ones. That would indeed be a Christmas miracle! They do look beautiful on the little tree!

Unfortunately, here east of Cleveland, Mother Nature decided to give us a white Christmas.

It was just overkill on the white. Our kids were going to drive back from NYC Friday, but since the weather forecast was for the storm of the century and we weren’t feeling well anyway, they decided not to. For once the usually way-too-dramatic weather anchors were spot on. The Ohio turnpike closed for crying out loud and that never happens. We got a fair amount of snow but it was more the blowing and cold that caused whiteout conditions. With being sick and snowed in, we watched Christmas movies and specials.

One of the specials was an “Old Time Radio Christmas.” Oh my gosh it was so bad. How bad was it? Well let me tell you…there was a bad guy named Uncle Barnaby. Alan and Jane were trying to figure out something and Jane sang a song about “I can’t do the sums” where she couldn’t do math. She was quite cheery about it. Ummm…STEM anyone??? No wonder. There was also a girl named Contrary Mary who sang about being contrary. Alan asked her if she would be contrary if he married her. She said yes. You go girl! Might as well lay it out there. They went on some adventure that I honestly couldn’t describe if you paid me. Uncle Barnaby attempted to drown them. There was a commercial about puffed wheat shot from guns. They sang “Toyland.” I think this was actually “Babes in Toyland” because they met Bo Peep along the way. Then we turned it off. I am still confused. I’m not sure what happened to Alan and Jane or Mary, they could be wandering the forest still. Uncle Barnaby went on to greater villain things I’m sure.

The snow also buried two out of three of my solar powered Christmas chickens. But one is blazing away! Chester did not go for walks for a couple days, but he had a great Christmas. He has eaten so many treats I had to loosen his harness.

Zeus and Milo got a pretty plaid blanket to curl up in, and Zeus took it over. They got treats too though and Milo is treat motivated. He is motivated to get more treats.

We haven’t’ had our Christmas yet with the kids and aren’t sure when it will happen. Truth is there are two ways of looking at Christmas. If Christmas for you is about Jesus’ birth, there is one meaningful Christmas Day. This is reassuring because no matter what happens with our family customs or weather (things we can’t control) like they say in The Grinch, couldn’t stop Christmas from coming, it came all the same. No matter where we are or what we are doing, like Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ birth gives pause. (I realize that the actual historical day may not really be on December 25, but that’s when we celebrate it so…)  But, if Christmas to you is about family and friends and goodwill, then Christmas can happen any time, and should probably not have an expiration date. Christmas day may be consistent but the Christmas spirit can roll on as long as you want it to. If Christmas is not something you celebrate, then disregard this last paragraph, it’s just what I am thinking about. I need to get out with Chester more to have deep and random thoughts while attempting not to wipe out in front of the neighbors.

We did get out today since it hit 51 degrees here! A lot of the snow is melting which sends Chester into mega sniff mode. We joked that he is receiving all sorts of messages from his girlfriends. They were buried under the snow, just like my sheet music is buried at the post office. It was a nice walk and the ice on Lake Erie was cool literally. It will likely melt a bit as we are supposed to reach 60 next week! Go figure.

Whatever your holiday traditions I hope you are doing well what with the craziness and weather and illness around. Let’s ring in a new year with hope. Happy New Year!! Be safe!

Parking and Blair Ridge

My grandsons say I’m a “bad parker.” Since I got my Subaru, which I love, I cannot park correctly to save my life. Still, I argued with them, figuring they were just trying to annoy me. Yesterday I went to CVS and pulled in as usual. No one was around me. Here’s what happened….

I concede. I am a bad parker. I think it’s part of what I call Township life. Our area is semi-rural, in that we have a few homes with chickens and ducks, no Starbucks or Dunkin nearby. Ahh, iced coffee and cream…even the grandkids know how I feel about that. They asked me what I would do without Dunkin around. I said I’d open a Tim Horton’s. We have some, let’s say underdeveloped (rather than seedy) buildings. It’s like until recently, city life jumped over our exit and left us alone. Then a few developments popped up and we are going through growing pains.

This has nothing to do with my parking except that we have lived here for almost 30 years. In that time I have developed bad habits. Why? Because I can! I drive down the middle of the street when nobody’s coming so I don’t accidentally hit a groundhog. I have on occasion rolled over some grass to get from one parking lot to another rather than pulling out and back in again. I drive at a slow, lazy pace (the speed limit or a little over) that makes my grandkids crazy. The youngest has created a list of fast drivers in the family and I’m at the bottom. He is five years old and a back seat driver. He tells me to “pass that truck” and “go faster.”

But never in the left lane!!

I am OK with this and there are a lot of others in this area who drive the same way. But I have to admit, my parking is pretty bad. I can’t see over the hood of the ‘Ru so I never quite know how far up I am. Sometimes I park in the garage and can’t put down the door so I have to get back in and pull up more. My husband volunteered to hang a string and tennis ball from the garage for me to stop when it hits the windshield. I declined out of an undeserved sense of dignity. Sigh.

So what am I going to do? Nothing. Why? Because I’m old and that’s a perk. Everybody thinks old people are bad drivers anyway, so whatever.

Chester and I went to Blair Ridge Park last week. I didn’t know it existed. I actually got lost on the way to another park and thought, “OK, I’ll just try this one.” Have you seen Blair Witch Project? I have and it did cross my mind.

The park was beautiful, primarily a lake we walked around. Chester enjoyed slogging into the lake and scaring the frogs.

We had perfect weather and the flowers were out, pointing their faces to the sun.

We saw another opening and walked through it. (Do you feel the Blair Witch camera jiggling?) This is what we saw:

I read a lot of mysteries. This was a real-life mystery. I looked around to make sure there were no creepy people, but hey, I had Chester with me. Such a guard dog.

I’ll protect you unless they pet me!

When I read the sign, my heart melted. Mr. Storer was blind and had guide dogs. They are buried here with headstones. The headstones say things like, “Good friend and loyal companion” and other loving tributes.

There were about five stones, for Heidi, Jetta, Angel, and more. (I’m sorry, but like the Professor and Mary Ann I can’t remember the last two) It was a lovely place and put my Blair Witch fears to rest. We kept walking. We started down a new road and saw this:

Apparently the Metroparks acquired the land when Mr. Storer died. This clocktower is next to these bells:

They are inscribed with his wife’s name and kind words about her. How sweet is that?!! I guess they used to be in the clocktower. The clocktower is being used, and was locked, but everything looked well cared for. We walked back to the car with no more surprises, stopping for a second at the lake so Chester could scare a few more frogs, and headed out. Chester got a pup cup from DQ, one of the newer businesses in our transitional neighborhood.

pure bliss…

All in all it was a beautiful day. He is such a good boy except for his dogged determination to eat whatever went in the tree.

It was long gone through the network of trees but he stayed out there for at least an hour. A tired Chester is good sometimes…

Have a good week!

Green space and Three Musketeers

Happy beautiful Sunday! Chester and I walked in Lakeshore Reservation Metropark this week, since it has been just a sensational weather week. In fact, I take credit for this sunshine. I have a cement goose on my front porch. Last weekend when the rain wouldn’t stop I put on the goose’s raincoat. The sun came out and stayed out! Fellow Clevelanders, you’re welcome!

Sometimes when it rains for a long time my eyes feel like they have a veil over them. When we went to the park, the veil was lifted. Everything was green, green, green.

It felt like my eyes were drinking in the green and I couldn’t look away. Sometimes I am starved for color. I just want to disappear into the green. To offset the green, we noticed the bright red and white trees in the parking area.

Lakeshore Reservation has statues resembling a sundial.

I wrote of them in a previous post, but I still enjoy seeing them. Chester likes the doggie statue (not sure if it is supposed to be a dog, but we have called it that for 30 years so it is now!) No he did not pee on it.

Boy, that is a big dog!

We went down a different path and discovered another statue that I didn’t know existed.

I’m not sure what it is if anything. Somewhere someone is probably laughing thinking that they just put a big rock there to confuse people like me.

Chester wants to go swimming in Lake Erie. Unfortunately the steps to the lake were still blocked. Next time…

Speaking of things that we didn’t know about, we went to the Allen Theater in Playhouse Square to see “The Three Musketeers.” If you plan a trip to Cleveland, be sure to check out Playhouse Square.

We decided that we had not been to the Allen before, and it is gorgeous. There is a rotunda in the center of the lobby. If you stand in the middle and talk, it echoes. We did not know that until one of the nice ushers told us then laughed at the look of shock on our faces. We played around a bit, then chuckled as others discovered it. Pretty cool.

In the rotunda

The play was good, much as expected, with a lot of swordfighting. I learned that in theater now there is an “Intimacy Director” position. I had not heard that before, but it makes a lot of sense. The Intimacy Director handles both romance and fighting scenes, making sure the actors know exactly what is going to happen and that they are Ok with it. This play had a lot of both. I was impressed by the over-and-above action scenes, an extensively choreographed undertaking. Yet it moved very quickly. This play was put on by the Cleveland Playhouse, the oldest regional theater company in the United States. We enjoyed ourselves and arrived early so I took pictures and we ate candy.

One Junior Mint escaped in my purse and melted on my lipstick. Ah, summertime! I typically keep chapstick in my car console (and in spots all around the house) just in case of an emergency. I hate chapped lips. I have to remove it from the car in the summer because one time it melted. Eww. Have you ever had anything melt (or freeze) in your car? I had a diet coke can freeze and explode once. That was pretty easy because I just picked up the ice chunks and tossed them outside. One time (and only one time!) I accidentally left fish in the car. It fell out of a grocery bag. Boy did that stink!

Anyway, I have verbally meandered into the dregs of my past there….after talking about the beauty of the greenery and the Allen Theater. Focus on the beauty! And have a wonderful week!

The hardware store and jumping on the Titanic

We used to have a hardware store. Not a box store, although we do frequent those. No, this was the old-timey type of store. It had about three or four old guys working there who could find anything, and a couple high school kids. Anything you could ever imagine you would need was in this store. Boxes and bins of nuts, screws, bolts and washers. There was a paint section that I most often used. It had spray paint, wall paint, house paint, and probably finger paint. There was a key shop with fluorescent key guards, different key chains, and keys with Cleveland sports teams on them. It had a plethora of choices in every little nook and cranny.  It was named Major True Value but we just said, “the hardware store”. It was about 3 minutes from our house. I can’t count the number of times we would start a project then realize we needed something and run to True Value (sometimes more than once!) It had been there forever. Then came the strip club.

The strip club was on the right, True Value on the left, same building. Only a wall separated them. If you were looking for a mop you could clearly hear the boompity-boomp music through the wall and imagine the activity. I’m not sure when, but someone must have complained because a couple years later the music was turned down a little. Of course it probably depended on the crowd and who was dancing. I didn’t notice it as much, but I am getting old and hard of hearing so make of that what you will. I don’t know how many people protested the strip club or how vigorous the protesting was…I guess there was some. It didn’t have much of an impact and eventually petered out. The two businesses coexisted with one name change, then it went back to the original name, all taken in stride. The male patrons who were interested probably figured “going to the hardware store” was a truthful destination.  A win-win if you will.

Kind of dismal day but it looks better than it did… It has received a new coat of paint. Unlike the building on the left.

Sadly, someone set the strip club on fire. The guy at the nearby gas station who always is willing to shoot the breeze, said there was a lot of smoke and water damage. That was in 2017 but it seems like a lot longer. The paper said it was arson but I never heard if the person was caught. The True Value was closed (obviously the strip club as well) and the building remained empty. Recently there was some activity spotted, and it looks like there is a baseball facility and fitness center moving in. I hope they do well but I do miss the True Value. A good hardware store is hard to find.

This came to mind over the last couple days because I painted the stair walls and hallway. Chester was getting in the way as usual and my husband asked if he was lying on a wall I just painted. I said no, but somehow he managed to get paint on his back. ??? I don’t know. At least he has some white on his feet so it’s kind of natural looking. I’m trying to get it off but it’s sticky stuff. Oh well.

Oh Chester….

I’m painting now because I am going to be taking part in a production of Titanic the Musical (not related to the movie) so my summer will be busy. There is a charming theater out here that is a theater in a barn. Rabbit Run is the name. Its shows are top notch productions.  I have auditioned there many times to no avail, but I guess this time the part was right. I’m going to be playing Ida Strauss. We have a lot in common; she died when she was one year older than I am, she was married for 40 years (me too) and her husband owned Macy’s (I shop at Macy’s!) To say I’m excited would be a gross understatement. I’m so grateful to be able to take part in this and I am completely humbled by the talent in the show. The director did mention something about wool costumes in July, but he didn’t seem too concerned so I’m not either! If you are in the area, here is the info.

What else has Chester been doing? Drinking water off the deck.

Why??? He has a full water dish. Sometimes I wonder about that dog, maybe it’s spring fever! I guess I’ll take him through the CVS drive through—they’ll give him a biscuit. He stares them down until they weaken!

Yep, this is the stare!

Have a good week!

The Aerostar van and a shopping cart

America, especially in suburban areas, is automobile country. We have a pretty big auto show here in Cleveland. The show has been in Cleveland for a couple weeks and runs through this weekend. Whether a person needs, wants or has no plans to purchase a car, everyone goes if only just to look.  

Not at the auto show

My husband and I look for different things in a car. He actually reads about the cars and considers how they drive. I see one on the road and say, “that’s a cute one, I want that.” I grudgingly admit that this has backfired a couple times. A few years ago, I thought that I wanted a Jeep Wrangler. They are cute and I could visualize myself tooling around in my khaki shorts, hat and sunglasses like Crocodile Dundee. I had been thinking about one for awhile when, lo and behold, the car lot down the street brought out a new addition.

A Jeep Wrangler, and it was LAVENDER! It was as if the heavens opened up and rained down glitter just for me. In other words,  I really wanted that car. Then I test drove it. This car rode so rough that potholes felt like the Grand Canyon. I could hardly hold onto the wheel I was bouncing around so much. My teeth and bones were never the same. Talk about a buzzkill!

It looked something like this except not as shiny and a lighter purple.

Not to disparage Wranglers, but this car was too much for me. I was still hooked on the dream of a baha through the forests and prairies (so abundant in Cleveland) so we went to the auto show. I found the Jeep section and pushed my way through the crowd to the holy grail dragging my husband behind me. There it was! A brand new Wrangler! It was beautiful! Forget the test drive, who cares? I would look so good in this shiny cutie! As it happened, I couldn’t even get up in it.  I was too short. Instead I bought a Subaru.

Anyway, my favorite car ever was a Chevrolet LeBaron convertible. I was a graduate student in the fall and would drive to Kent State University, through color changing trees and beautiful lakes.  At night I would look up at the sky. Don‘t worry, I looked at the road too, every so often. I had a vision of myself as Isadora Duncan, except without a scarf.  Here is one of the only pictures I have of this lost love. Ignore the sales person, she had to take the picture.

Love at first drive!

That car just molded itself around me. I loved it, but when we had a third child, the car seat wouldn’t fit. So practicality forced me onward. We bought an Aerostar van.

To say that the Aerostar was practical is an understatement. I could transport multiple baseball players, remove the middle seat for large items, and it took us to Utah and back with no issues. The Aerostar wasn’t exactly quiet, especially after the out west trip.

The happy kids on the beginning of the out west trip, inside the Aerostar. The seating arrangement was changed several times by the end.

I was tutoring at a high school and one of my students said they could hear the Aerostar coming. I noticed that when I pulled into the teacher’s parking lot the students would part like the Red Sea. I thought it was out of respect but my student told me it was pure fear. It was the only time the students were afraid of me, so I accepted it as a compliment.

I was driving the Aerostar one evening with kids in the car. For some reason the middle seat was out—we must have bought something large recently and hadn’t put it back. A large grocery store down the street had closed a year prior. Nothing had moved in yet.  We were driving around the back of the store when one of the kids spotted a shopping cart pushed up behind some junk. You know the phrase, “it seemed like a good idea at the time?”  I stopped the van and the boys ran out and grabbed the cart. They put it in the Aerostar and we bugged out. The cart was a little rusty but became very useful sitting in our garage (I’m being sarcastic folks, it took up space and we threw things in it) The boys had fun with the cart. One day I looked outside and one child was pulling the cart down the street with a rope tied to his bicycle. The other child was standing inside the cart holding the other end of the rope and sailing down the street. Keep in mind there are no brakes on a shopping cart. To a mother’s eyes, this cart had become the definition of a rolling contraption of death. I ran outside and yelled at them to stop. That was when I began considering that absconding with the cart may not have been a great idea. The cart sat in the garage full of baseball bats, mitts, basketballs, and other assorted Nerf toys for several more years. I wish I had a picture of it, but I don’t.  I’m not sure where it ended up. I like to think of it serving a good purpose somewhere.

The Aerostar, as fine of a van as ever except for a few mechanical quirks, was sold/given to the second son and his band. They spray painted the “Another Day Gone” logo on the side. It was perfect to load the amps, drums, and band members as long as you didn’t go too fast up hills.

The Aerostar lasted years until he finally sold it with no guarantee it would drive the new owners home. Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

We are not looking for a car currently, thank goodness. I do like the Subaru (all wheel drive!!). We tend to drive the cars until they are just done. We put a lot of mileage on our cars (everyone in Cleveland does) and with Chester, it’s hard to keep them nice. I swear dog hair is the stickiest stuff in the world. It just embeds itself into the fabric! But if I was going to buy another car….a Jeep might be nice. I can see me and Chester going on a trek to a metropark, sunglasses on, khaki shorts and all. He’s a Jeep kind of hound.

Let’s go explore, mom!

Speaking of Chester, his hot spot is pretty much healed. He had a zoomie fit last night, moving his bed then jumping on it. It caused the bed to go skidding across the floor. I think he wanted to snowboard! He is sleeping it off today. We have been walking a lot lately since the snow melted. Yesterday the Great Danes were out and barked at him. He likes that when other dogs bark at him. He struts by proudly and makes it a point to stop and pee in their yard. Why? Because he can.

Too cool for school.

Have a good 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.

See the source image
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!

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.

Image result for 1980s fashion eyeglasses

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!

Image result for eyeglasses history
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!