It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Sometimes we do things that cannot be rationally explained. We shrug our shoulders and say, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” This is a story about one such event. 

My husband’s birthday is on Halloween. I think sometimes he liked it, and sometimes not, but it is what it is. In the late 70s/early 80s Saturday Night Live was in its heyday. It was the new, fresh, silly, irreverent show that we older teens loved. Plus, we had to stay up late to get any privacy, so it was a staple. One of the skits was of the adventures and misunderstandings of the “Coneheads.” The coneheads were aliens living on earth. Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman were the coneheads, Beldar, Prymaatt, and daughter Connie.    

I decided to have a surprise party for my then boyfriend, now husband. We were going to surprise him, then go to a haunted house. I invited a bunch of friends and stipulated that it was a costume party. He knew we were dressing up, and probably surmised more, but I don’t remember to be honest. What I do remember is finding the perfect couple’s costume. I was looking through some cheap catalog and saw Conehead wigs! Doesn’t that sound ideal? I quickly ordered them and waited for the package. Remember, there was no such thing as next day delivery unless you drove their yourself.  

Finally, the wigs came, and on Halloween we began to think about dressing up, having just said “cool” when we saw them, then waiting until the last minute to try them on. We went to my house, put them on, and they flopped to the side. OK, minor setback. We decided to stuff them with newspapers to make them stand up. Success! Only…they were so flimsy you could see through them. And they were kind of a yellow color.  

You know the point where you can either forge ahead or abandon the mission? We did not realize that this was that point. I decided that to match my skin at least, and provide a more natural look, we should just put make up on the wigs. We smeared my foundation all over the coneheads, taking care to blend around the wig line. We had to use a lot. This seemed to work, and we took a picture of the outcome.  

We discovered another problem when we tried to get into the car to drive to his parents’ house. The coneheads were too tall. We couldn’t sit in a car. My dad had a sense of humor and drove us in his car. We crouched down in the back seat. When we got out, the top of the car was my skin tone. My dad’s car was a Cover Girl. We didn’t care, we were young and going to a party! Pffffft to dad’s car!  

We went inside and received our accolades from our friends, surprising my husband. He blew out the candles and we had cake, then he opened gifts. Finally it was time to go to the haunted house.  

Of course our parents were not going to drive us, (God, no, how embarrassing) and our friends were a little less willing when we told them how funny it was that the foundation came off on the car. But luckily one friend had a truck! No problem, right? We’d sit in the back of the flatbed and our heads wouldn’t touch anything.  

Weather in Toledo, Ohio is unpredictable. On this particular Halloween it was about 20 below zero, or maybe it just felt like it. We huddled together, wrapped in a thin blanket, blinded by the headlights of the cars behind us. People honked their horns in appreciation (I think) as we cruised down the road to the haunt. Do you know I was so cold when we got there that I don’t even remember the haunted house? All I remember was sitting like a deer in the headlights fully understanding the meaning of wind chill and thinking “it seemed like a good idea at the time”.  

Anyway, that was one of our more memorable Halloweens. As for Chester, I could say the same thing about this year’s costume. I thought that instead of something around his neck, he might tolerate a pumpkin hat. I offered my husband the opportunity to put the hat on Chester. After much struggling, he sat there (we had a Milk Bone as enticement) just long enough for a picture. My husband took pity and removed the offending item. That was it for costumes.  

Chester went with us to the neighbor’s driveway for Halloween and was good as gold. The only thing that freaked him out was an inflatable dinosaur costume. He watched it go down the street and come back, looking worried and confused. He didn’t know whether to try to chase it or run. In the end he sat by us and threatened it with his scary evil eye while it walked down the street. Kind of like he did with this squirrel.  They usually have a stand off until one moves. In the dinosaur’s case, the dino was focused on candy and not Chester. So Chester won, and another Halloween is in the books. 

Have a good week!  

See the source image
Just for fun…

Halloween and Charlie Brown…

It is raining in Cleveland again. This is the third or fourth day in a row and it isn’t letting up. Chester has been giving us the stink eye when we suggest going outside. Here is a picture of his regular activity. Please note that he was snoring.

Here is the look he gave me when I suggested he go outside and go potty. He has been more lethargic on walks too, cutting them short halfway down the street. When Chester decides to go back home, we do. It’s kind of hard not to, when he braces his feet.

Surely you jest.

Before you worry about him though, he is fine. Right now he is flipping out over a guy working in our yard. He is launching himself sideways at the front door. He sounds ferocious. His hackles stand up and he has a very commanding bark. Of course if I let him out he would expect the guy to pet him. What a poser. At least he sounds scary.

Look at those hackles! Like a mohawk! Our son had a mohawk in the 90s and kept it up with egg whites. But I digress…

Speaking of scary, Halloween is this weekend! I watched ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on PBS. In the Charlie Brown hierarchy, this one is second to the Charlie Brown Christmas. But after this one, it’s a pool of wanna be Charlie Brown shows. These two are the only ones that count. Why is that? Partly because these have a lot of love in them, even while insulting poor CB. It always touches me when Lucy wakes up in the middle of the night and gets her brother out of the pumpkin patch (where are the parents??) and puts him to bed.  Little brothers are a pain but we love them anyway. The other reason is that for those of us over a certain age these were the only television traditions we could watch. I marvel at how my two sons, born in 84 and 86, only had Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. Our daughter, born in 1993, had an explosion of kids’ tv. As a child I had even less. We had Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny. And Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), followed in 1966 by “It’s the Great Pumpkin”. Later we had Frosty (1969), and a few others but none matched good old CB. Rudolph was made right before CB; in 1964. But CB is the classic. It brings back memories of sitting around the tv with my brother and sister, and later with our kids. Remember, we couldn’t record something. So if we missed it, that was it. I think that made it more special.

Anyway, I wanted to get Chester a Halloween costume. He’s not a fan of dressing up but I found this bandana in the closet. He wouldn’t look at me while it was on, just looked at the floor and panted. Honestly you’d think I was killing him. When I took it off he wagged his tail like he wanted a Milk Bone. Sheesh.

This is the best I could do

Halloween makes me think of times I was scared and what I’m afraid of. There was the time when our cousin/babysitter turned on “The Birds”. I ran into the bathroom and locked the door. No, I wasn’t as young as you might think. Scary movies frighten me but not for long. I revisited “The Birds” a few days ago while walking Chester. We have a huge flock of blackbirds who stop in the spring and in the fall for a few days then move on. They make a horrendously loud sound, just like in The Birds. We look down and keep walking.

This was from last fall, but same birds. The black dots are the birds.

Then there was the time when my brother and I were walking back from a rest stop somewhere in Indiana. I was 22, he was 18. For some stupid reason they put the rest stop way back, not seeable from the parking lot. There was a paved trail winding past some large ponds and rushes. As luck would have it, it was dark. We made it there, but it creeped me out big time. On the way back, my dumb brother said softly “kill her mommy, kill her” (From Friday the 13th, which was the first scary movie I saw). I ran. But he did too! (yes you did, Andy!!) Luckily I was running regularly at that point, and the monster/ghost/bad guy didn’t catch me. It didn’t catch my brother either even if he deserved it. Now I would just wave it on to catch him because no way am I running. Getting old makes you either brave or apathetic.  

As for what I’m afraid of now…not much. I used to be afraid of ghosts. Lately I’ve been feeling pressure on my shoulder, like a hand but wider, when I’m going to sleep. It’s just a warm weight but nothing is there. I think one of our cats who have passed on has been visiting us. I’ve heard noises and felt something brush by my leg. It’s not scary though, it’s very comforting. I don’t sense that it is a person, or one of the dogs, not that I’d be scared of them either. I used to work in a building reputedly haunted by nuns. Unfortunately I never saw one.

What was your favorite costume if you dressed up? Mine was a cat. But my go to is a witch. I usually dress up to pass out candy. I used to sit on the porch. One of our sons got into it for a couple of years. He tied a dollar bill to a fishing line, cast it from his upstairs window and when a kid tried to pick it up he’d pull it away. It worked remarkably well! Another year he pretended to be a Halloween fake prop on the porch in a chair then jumped up and scared the kids. That also worked well. We did have an old cassette tape of scary sounds, you know organ music, groaning, and screaming. We’d have to plug in the cassette player inside and open the window. If it isn’t rainy we get a lot of kids, but unfortunately it looks like this might be an off year.  I will wear the wig even outside though just because I like it. I will also make pumpkin seeds and eat them all within 2 days. Yep, I will probably get sick. I don’t care, it’s that or the Halloween candy. Maybe it’s and/or the Halloween candy…

Anyway, enough musing. Have a Happy Halloween if you celebrate it. Dress up your dogs or cats if you are able. We will be sitting around a fire pit in the neighbor’s driveway passing out candy and eating s’mores. Chester will be in a bandana or a t-shirt like the dog in “Rocky.” We’ll see if he likes that better. I’m positive he will!

Chasing memories and the chipmunk…

Good morning everyone!

Good morning and Happy Wednesday! Chester has been busy, as seen below. In retirement, I too have been busy. What pray tell have I been doing? Trying to find a Styrofoam Santa face.

A little backtracking…Christmas is on my mind because apparently all of the gifts I plan to give are in ships sitting in the ocean. Ahh future Christmas memories…waiting for gifts to arrive. Look kids, see that ship over there? That’s where your present is. Use your imagination. When I was your age…

Growing up in the 60s and 70s I was lucky enough to bask in the glow of the shiny aluminum Christmas trees, pink bells, and parties with cocktails. I did not partake of the cocktails but admired the elegance.  I was the chosen coat carrier. I would meet the guests at the door and carry the coats to the bedroom. I think my sister helped too. We also helped decorate. We had large bulb lights and lots of icicles on the tree. My mom was the church choir director, so on Christmas Eve in between the 7:00pm service and the 11pm one she would invite the choir over for a buffet. Not sure if it included cocktails…but if some of the tenors were out of tune it may well have been the Christmas spirit! The house was sparkling inside and out. One of my favorite decorations was a Styrofoam Santa face that we hung on our door. It looked something like this only without the gold beard.

What is with the gold beard anyway? Ours was much happier looking, and the beard was light blue. Actually it didn’t look much like this one at all, but you get the idea. When we had an auction company in after my dad died, the Santa face was hanging in the garage. I almost grabbed it but didn’t. You know how when you sell or give away clothes or other stuff there is always one thing you wish you hadn’t included? That happens to me every time. So in this case, although there were so many nicer things in the house, I wish I had grabbed the Bluebeard Santa.

I have been looking through eBay regularly but have not found the holy grail yet. I may not.  But I have this little part of my brain that as soon as I am interested or remember something I HAVE to know EVERYTHING about it. Then I’m done. For example, I am reading a book about the Miss America Pageant, and I found out Kate Shindle was a Miss America. Kate Shindle was in “Wonderland” on Broadway and sang a song that I used in an audition. So now I am finding out everything I can about Kate Shindle. She was born in Toledo, just like me.  I will probably forget it by next year, but I have to know now.  It’s like that with Styrofoam Santa. I HAVE to find one. Anyway, I digress.

Image result for kate shindle wonderland
Kate as the Mad Hatter in Wonderland. I guess the musical didn’t go very far but I love the costume.

While I am scrolling through the 30-40 vintage Styrofoam Santas on eBay, Chester is waging war with the chipmunk. This is one cheeky chipmunk let me tell you! It comes up on the deck, climbs on my zero gravity chair, and stares at Chester through the door. Chester stares back.

Chester’s at the ready position

The chipmunk knows I keep peanuts in an orange bucket. One day I must not have pushed down on the lid and something was able to get into it and get out again. Since then I have been more careful. If I don’t secure it we may see raccoons, deer, possums and squirrels gathered around the plastic bucket sharing ghost stories and anecdotes over a midnight snack of peanuts.

This chipmunk is driving Chester crazy. After Chester wins the staredown, he demands to go outside and runs over to the air conditioner where apparently the chipmunk resides. He has been digging under the concrete slab. We will have to fill it in at least partially before it falls through and crushes the chipmunk.

Courtesy of my husband: “Guess what?”

This battle wages several times a day. I don’t know what Chester would do if he caught the chipmunk, but I don’t want to know. One of our cats (Frank the Bad Cat) brought a chipmunk in the house alive one time. The chipmunk was running around. We put Frank in another room and caught the munk in a paper bag. We let it out and it was fine except missing a tail. Months later I found the tail in the basement. Frank was hoarding his treasure. So to give the rodents a head start I always knock on the door before letting Chester out. The ritual continues.

Although Chester and I are obsessing over our respective prey, I did take some time to go apple picking. The apples are going quickly this year and many fell on the ground, probably high winds and rain. But we got our share. John made a pie and I am going out to buy corn stalks for the front porch. They mess up the car but they look awesome.

The boys searching for apples

Per request here are a few more pictures from the 9/11 wedding of our daughter—thanks to my co-grammy for the photos. Hopefully the video of me dancing won’t surface anywhere…think of “little kicks” in Seinfeld only faster and more hip action. Let’s just say Groove is in the Heart and ought to stay there. Have a good week!

Serendipity House and lake
Izzy and Tim, the happy couple!
Izzy and our son
My sister and brother
Our brother, nephew and his girlfriend
Our son and family
Izzy and John of course
Groove is in the Heart….

Retirement and Walking Chester…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scooby Dooby Doo!

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

Chester’s Gotcha Day meal

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

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

The Pitcher Purge…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then there are grandkids…need I say more??

don’t ask…

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

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

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

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