Parades and OSU/Michigan

Something weird happened on Thanksgiving. We have our traditions—we clean like crazy and cook a lot on Wednesday then finish cooking and cleaning on Thursday, then have about 11-12 people over for dinner. All of that went swimmingly but I am not sure who actually did it. I don’t think it was me. I think a clone has taken over.

One of the traditions is to watch the Thanksgiving Macy’s Parade. Usually we watch it for about five minutes then groan a few times about the cheesy singing and lip synching (we grew up in the 70s where that was frowned upon) and wait hopefully for a balloon to fly into a lamp post or attack the crowd. The parade started out like always, with a Broadway number. Suddenly out of my snarky lips came “Wow it’s Lea Michele” and I ran into the family room to watch it. I liked it! I liked the Rockettes, the giant Spirit of America crowd dancing to “Run Rudolph, Run”, the women with their heads literally inside of presents, the Lego robots, and the band that played the 1812 Overture.

After each one was another balloon…some of the characters were unknown to me, but “Bluey!!” escaped my lips as my husband shook his head and mopped the floor. What happened? I couldn’t think of a single sarcastic thing to say. I watched the whole freakin parade. Pikachu!!! The singing Christmas tree!!! Delightful!!

So who was this person? In The Addams Family musical there is a song where Wednesday mulls over finding bunnies and birdies “impossibly cute.” That’s what happened! All of a sudden it was like I was replaced with this happy, enthusiastic sugary cookie. Sheesh.

I didn’t care. The replacement me continued on gamely, not concerned about the food being cold (well maybe a little), or forgetting something (I put sticky notes on the table to remind myself of each dish…). I was happy well into the next day.

Chester was being a pain in the butt though, he was in his crate and every time our dear brother stood up he would pitch a barking fit. Honestly, I told him he was going to camp next year. My husband took him for a long walk before dinner and we put his Kong in his crate, but he was determined to make brother’s life miserable. He was fine when brother was sitting but as soon as he got up Chester became Cujo. Good grief.

Now it’s Saturday. Time to put away happy me and get my game face on. You see, today is the Ohio State/Michigan game. We are pariahs in Cleveland. We are…(drum roll please)…Michigan fans. We grew up in Toledo and just like every other child of a certain age, we declared our allegiance. John and I joined the Michigan alliance. It’s a good thing, because we wouldn’t have been able to marry each other if we were of warring factions.

Toledo is split fairly evenly. Supposedly this was due to the ”Toledo War.” From Wikipedia: “The Toledo War (1835–36), also known as the Michigan–Ohio War or the Ohio–Michigan War, was an almost bloodless boundary dispute between the U.S. state of Ohio and the adjoining territory of Michigan over what is now known as the Toledo Strip. Control of the mouth of the Maumee River and the inland shipping opportunities it represented, and the good farmland to the west were seen by both parties as valuable economic assets.”

Basically, Ohio and Michigan both wanted Toledo. I can see why, it’s a great place to live, and I’m not being sarcastic. The Metroparks are fantastic, the restaurant scene is great, and people are moving downtown. We lived about a mile or less from Michigan, which was interesting when in the 1970s the Michigan drinking age was lowered to 18 for a few years while Ohio stayed at 21. No, I didn’t take advantage. Anyway, that is neither here nor there, but to say that the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry was intense in Toledo.

Our son married outside the faith. He married a girl from an Ohio State family. Here in Cleveland, most people are Ohio State fans. In fact, I only know two other Michigan fans which is a pretty sad state of affairs. Her family is delightful but everyone has a few faults. Still, when the grandkids were born, we all agreed not to try to influence them. It’s sometimes like the “no turkey” scene in a Christmas Story…no baby Michigan onesies, no Ohio State burp rags, no Michigan stocking caps, no Ohio State diapers. We decided they can make their choice when they are older at a lavish ceremony. That doesn’t stop us from betting on the game with the in-laws! We decided to bet that whoever loses has to display an ornament of the other’s team on their Christmas tree. Last year the Michigan ornament hung proudly from the in-law tree. What a beautiful tree it was! This year we look to repeat the glory. The war of the ornaments will commence at noon today. I hope to have some positive news for my annual Christmas letter since my Fantasy Football team has yet to win a game. The Killer Tomatoes are dismal.

On to Christmas! The weather is beautiful here today so we are going to take advantage and put up our outdoor Christmas lights. There is no roof climbing or anything, and it looks nice. I’ve been listening to Christmas music for about a month. Again, who is this person who took over my body? I usually forbid Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. There is a lot of really bad Christmas music out there but I’m happily letting Sirius get it out there hoping the good stuff is yet to come. I’m sure it is, there’s no such thing as bad Christmas music. I didn’t just type that, my clone did.

Enjoy this nice weekend!

Go Michigan!

Thanksgiving, Michigan, and Chester’s new bff…

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


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

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

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

Just two buddies watching the squirrels

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

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

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

Image result for Michigan Wolverines Memes
this is me at Halloween

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

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

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

Identity crises and scary turkeys…

Our neighborhood suffers from an identity crisis. I thought it was bad when the godawful election signs were up like pimples on a smooth cheek, upping each other in numbers and finally adding flags to the mix. Yes, some of our otherwise reasonable neighbors had flags supporting their candidate. They won the flag war, what else can I say? 

And now we have the weekend before Thanksgiving, a time that is usually 25 degrees and sleeting. Not this weekend however, we are at about …excuse me for a minute, Milo the cat just snozzed on my finger. I have to go wash my hands.

As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted by flying Milo snot, it’s a beautiful fall day here in Cleveland. It’s cool, maybe jacket weather, and by cool I mean about 45. If it was 50 or more it would be t-shirts, and 60 or more we break out the flip flops. This weather abnormality causes our neighbors to go into house-panic mode. Some are busy bagging leaves—I have not heard so many leaf blower motors at one time ever. I couldn’t even hear my husband when he said we needed to put all the patio stuff in the shed. Huh, what was that? I can’t hear you over the leaf blowers.. It didn’t work, we actually accomplished that, at least most of it. I threw a couple ears of corn in our yard for the squirrels hoping that they would take them next door at some point. At least before we have to mow again next year.

But back to the neighbors…they don’t know what to do with this weather. They are confused. Is it Thanksgiving or Christmas? We all can be forgiven for losing track of days and this doesn’t help. Some are blowing leaves with their pumpkins still out and others are blowing leaves and putting up the Christmas decorations. We have one house in its Thanksgiving happiness…and right next door, I swear you not is a house ready for St. Nick…

Still Thanksgiving
Moving on to Christmas

Then there are those who transition gradually or can’t make up their minds…

Something for everyone

I can relate to all of them.

We are still in Thanksgiving mode at our house but it’s a pretty sad Thanksgiving. I’m actually very down about this. Thanksgiving is my jam. Everyone comes to our house and as much as I love the meal, I love the company more. We have Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetable (like green bean only mixed veggies and cheddar cheese) casserole, sweet potato casserole with butter and marshmallows melted on top, pumpkin pie, apple pie brought by the kids, kielbasa made by my brother in law, wine brought by the alternate grandparent universe, and cranberry sauce two ways. One is what my brother brings that falls out of a can and shows the indentation of the can and jiggles and has absolutely no relationship to real cranberries. I’m sorry but real cranberries do not, and I repeat do NOT make that plop sound as they suction themselves out of the can and land on the plate like The Blob. There is also the right kind (I’m a cranberry snob) with orange zest, sugar and fresh, real cranberries that burst when you boil them. I notice that frequently the jiggly stuff disappears and my fresh cranberries are left. Some of my family has no taste.  Oh, and don’t forget the rolls. One year, I burned the rolls. I got so much grief for it that I didn’t make them the next year so my son did. Of course they were perfect. So now the question every Thanksgiving is, “did Jeff make the rolls?”

This year we aren’t having our Thanksgiving, at least not now. Nobody is comfortable when we are in the “purple zone” here, and other states don’t want us around them. I plan to send an invite for a date in June for Thanksgiving. We are going to make a meal, and will talk to everyone, but it’s not the same. And it makes me really sad.

However, that is no excuse to jump into Christmas. I keep telling myself that as the presents pile up. I find a certain solace in purchasing gifts. Shoot, I like buying stuff. It helps ease the Thanksgiving blues. But it’s just not time yet for Christmas lights. Are we giving up EVERY tradition we have? Putting up lights without frostbitten fingers is just unamerican. Or at least not worthy of any true Clevelander!

Don’t feel like I’m criticizing you if you aren’t a true Clevelander. It’s OK, really. Actually if I had to put up the lights by myself I might be doing it now also. But we (I am certainly speaking for my husband) have to draw the line somewhere.

Anyway, taking Chester for a walk today we observed the different decorations in the neighborhood. At one point he would not continue. He was afraid of the birds. By birds, I mean two giant inflatable turkeys on either side of the street. Here is a picture of one of them; they were too big to get them both.

I dragged him past them and they didn’t attack us but it was like walking a gauntlet. I pictured Tippi Hedren in The Birds, running with little Veronica Cartwright (later of Alien fame) while the birds pecked their hair. My hair looks so frizzy during the pandemic I can totally understand. But just imagine these two turkeys (the inflatables not Tippi and Veronica) coming at me and Chester. Scary stuff.

We used to buy tanks and chicken fireworks that you would light and put on the ground and have wars with. Whichever one caught on fire was the loser. It was great fun if you didn’t stand too close. These turkeys looked like they were going to start spitting sparks out of their beaks at each other. We walked a little quicker but we did make it through unscathed.

When Chester doesn’t want to walk somewhere, he just stops. He is over 70 pounds and gives me a look that says “go ahead and try but I’m not moving.” And he doesn’t. We go where he wants to go. Below is a picture of that look. My husband lets him go wherever he wants to go. He figures the walk is for Chester, so he should have some choice. I do not. Phooey on choice. Chester and I go the same way almost every time. I am boring. This time though, he was not having it and no matter how much I tried to drag him, I couldn’t do it. I appreciated his spirit. Only a doting dog owner would take a picture of their doggie engaged in civil disobedience and think it’s cute. But it is! We stood there awhile and then went where he wanted to go.

I hope you have a good Thanksgiving. I plan to get my Christmas letter and cards out. If you would like one, email me and let me know (for those that don’t already get one) otherwise you will be spared. Enjoy your feasts or traditions and do whatever makes you happy. Touch base with someone you love. And let’s be thankful to be alive and well. Take care!

Thanksgiving and Trains…

This morning, yesterday, and the day before that I woke up at 3:15am and couldn’t get back to sleep. My head was full of things to do, anxiety about some upcoming events, and Thanksgiving. None of these usually cause stress for me, but at 3:15am they bombarded my poor half-asleep brain. While I was lying there trying not to hyperventilate, petting the cat who was lying on my head with one paw over my cheek, I heard a train.

When my children were babies, they would, as babies do, wake up in the middle of the night. I would sit and rock them, feeling sorry for myself for having to get up again. Most mothers are sleep deprived, and I was not exactly the picture of the accepting, peaceful mother, swooping her baby up with a small, understanding smile on her face, with a glow to her cheeks as if to say, “It’s all well, little one, mama is here.” I was a grumpy diva. Think Ursula in the Little Mermaid and you get the gist. Anyway, I’d sit there, rocking, feeling like I was the only person who was awake in the entire world and how unfair it was, and I’d hear a train. The sound of the train in the distance was a beacon. It calmed me. It told me that someone else is awake and working. Someone else understands what it’s like to be up when others sleep. I wasn’t alone. After the train faded into the distance, there was peace for about 15 minutes, until the next one.

So at 3:15am, since I couldn’t sleep anyway, I thought about trains. And I thought about them some more while walking Chester. In the book Divergent, one of the groups travels by jumping on and off trains. We all do that…we jump on a train and get off at stops along the way. Some stops are happy, some are sad, all are experiences. We take our time at some—maybe lifetimes. But none of them last forever. We then jump back on the train when it’s right. If we miss a train or two, no matter, another one will be by.  We never forget our stops or the people we meet along the way, but everything has its time, and after that time, we have to board. We may find a time of peace while just moving on the train, but when a stop presents itself, eventually we have to jump off.

John F. Kennedy said “History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be left behind.” We have a past and we have a future. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time because I really loved some of the stops and would like to visit there again. I can visit in photos and memories, but there is only one thing we can’t do on a train–go backward. Our trains just don’t run that way.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving for Americans. I am thankful for the train stops in my life that have made me who I am. I am really excited about some stops coming up. I am thankful for you. Like the train whistle, you reading this shows me I am not alone. We are a community. I’ll see you at 3:15am on the next train. Happy Thanksgiving!