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!

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!