In Titletown

This morning finds us in the City of Champions — Cleveland.  UJ, Russell and I came up yesterday afternoon to watch an early edition of October baseball as the Tribe beat the Detroit Tigers, 1-0, in a brilliant display of bullpen management by manager Terry Francona.  It was a fantastic nail-biter that ended in triumph.  Then we walked to a nearby pub to learn that, thanks to a well-timed rain delay, we could watch the entirety of Ohio State’s epic beat down of Oklahoma.  

Today we’re going to swing by Octoberfest on Public Square, then it’s off to see if the Browns can resemble a professional football team against the Ravens.  Can we complete the Cleveland-Buckeyes trifecta?  Or will we learn, as Meat Loaf once sang, that two out of three ain’t bad?

On The National Mall With The Joggers

I got up early this morning to walk down to the National Mall.  It’s a favorite place for me, ever since Kish and I lived in Washington, D.C. 35 years ago.  It’s also a favorite spot for joggers.  Why not?  It’s long, and flat, with lots of interesting things to occupy your attention as you trudge along.  And dawn is a good time to visit, too– especially on a day where the high temperature is forecast to hit 96 degrees.

Chair Socks To The Rescue

We have hardwood floors in the upstairs of our home, but it’s a “soft” hardwood — the kind that can get scratched and pockmarked without too much effort.  Sure, that’s part of what gives a house that’s more than a century old some of its charm, but we’d like to hold the dents  to a minimum.

IMG_2653This poses a quandary, because most of the products that are designed to avoid scuffs and scratches are a pain in the butt.  The big problem is chairs, which are, by definition, designed to come into regular contact with those floors.  We’ve tried two approaches to chair leg floor protection, and each has its frustrations.

One product provides a kind of saucer that you place under the chair legs, with a fuzzy surface that it supposed to come into contact with the floor and slide rather than scratch.  The problem with this product is that if you lift the chair legs — to, say, scoot closer to a table or desk — they come off the saucers, and you’re constantly repositioning.  The other option is sticky circles of various sizes, with adhesive on one side and that fuzzy, sliding surface on the other.  The sticky side is supposed to adhere to the chair legs.  The problem with that product occurs with chairs that are moved regularly.  Eventually, the friction loosens the adhesive, or the adhesive dries out, and the circle falls off.  We’re constantly replacing them.

Enter the chair sock.  Kish spotted them at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Gleeful Retiree, found them on the internet, and they work like a charm.  They’re pulled up the chair leg like regular socks, and they slide on the floor like a charm.  No more repositioning, and no more replacing!  The chair socks are a godsend.

Now, if only they don’t get lost in the washer.

Slowing Down

I’m sorry to report that our dog Kasey seems to be slowing down.  That’s OK — it’s what happens to old dogs, and to old people, too.  But it also makes us sad.

We first noticed it because Kasey is now having trouble jumping onto couches and chairs.  In the old days, she could spring onto just about anything from a standing position.  Then, it took a running start, but she made it.  Now, she just puts her front paws on the seat and looks around beseechingly for a friendly face who might give her a lift up to one of her accustomed spots.

IMG_2601There are other signs as well.  She limps from time to time, and she doesn’t seem to like long walks quite as much, and she doesn’t strain at the leash like she used to.  Her head is turning white.  Her eating habits have become more erratic.  She’s more content to sit in the backyard in a cool, quiet spot.  And she’s had a few of those unfortunate “accidents” around the house.

When you notice these kinds of things, the antenna go up and you begin looking for more indications of health problems.  So far, though, we haven’t had to deal with any of those — aside from Kasey’s awful teeth, which seem to be more a product of bad care when she was little than advancing age.

We don’t know how old Kasey is, because she was a fully grown rescue dog when we first met her at the Erie County Humane Society.  We guess that she’s 14 or so, but she’s a smaller dog, and they are supposed to live longer.  We’re hoping that’s true.

In the meantime, Kish is watching Kasey like a hawk, keeping an eye out for gimpiness or apparent bowel problems, so we can get ol’ Kase to the vet at the first sign of trouble.  Kish’s careful observation of Kasey for signs of aging is a bit unnerving, though.  Now that I’ve passed 59, I’m squarely in the zone of scrutiny, too.

Card Family

This weekend we had a blast up at Put-In-Bay, thanks to the generous hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Gleeful Retiree.  Saturday night eight of us sat down to play a little euchre tournament, with team pairings that changed every five hands.  It was a lot of fun.

luep0gEuchre is a great game for that setting, because each player is dealt only five cards.  As a result, every hand is over quickly, so if you get a crappy hand — which unfortunately happens from time to time — it’s only a matter of a few minutes before you get a new one that hopefully isn’t filled with nines and tens.  And there’s never a gap in table talk, either, because each hand offers opportunities to chat about the cards, the hand just played, the lay-down loner you didn’t get to call, and your run of ridiculous, inexplicable bad luck.

It’s the first time I’ve played euchre in a while, and it brought back a lot of memories.  I come from a card family, and both Mom and Dad’s families were card families, too.  For as long as I can remember, cards were a huge part of the Webner family dynamic.  Kids progressed through the card game difficulty spectrum — starting with war, moving on to hearts, spades, gin rummy, and euchre, and finally getting up to cribbage and bridge.  On  family vacations, there always was a nightly euchre tournament where different combinations of uncles, cousins, and grandparents paired off for some friendly competition and bragging rights, and taunting was the order of the day.  The bad jokes and gibes around the card tables at those euchre tournaments are some treasured memories and helped to make my childhood a little richer.

Some families are card families, some families aren’t.  I’m glad I was from a card family.  Richard and Russell are good card players, and we’ve had some good times playing cards together.  I’m happy they’re carrying on the family tradition.

The Ray Donovan Parenting Standard

Recently Kish and I have been binge-watching Ray Donovan, the Showtime series about a guy who fixes problems for the rich and famous in Hollywood — usually through violence, extortion, and sex.  It’s a very entertaining and well-acted show, and we’ve enjoyed getting caught up to the current episodes.

960I usually come away from the show with a curious reaction:  Ray Donovan makes me feel good about my parenting efforts.  This is because the parenting of Ray and his wife Abby, and of Ray’s ex-con father Mickey, is outlandishly bad, launching generations of seriously messed-up, dysfunctional offspring.

Mickey cheated on his dying wife, robbed banks, allowed his kids to be serially abused by a Catholic priest and beat up Ray when Ray tried to tell him about it, and urged his son Terry to keep boxing until the repeated punches caused him to develop Parkinson’s disease.  Everything Mickey touches turns to mud.  Ray hates his Dad — but he and Abby really aren’t a whole lot better in the parenting department.  Ray doesn’t show up at home for days at a time.  Abby decides to go to Boston leaving her teenage daughter in charge.  Both parents have obvious affairs, leaving the kids at home to fend for themselves.  Not surprisingly, the kids are struggling — they’ve had issues with violent behavior at school, underage drinking, the daughter had an affair with her teacher, and the son has a gun fixation.  It’s not a happy, huggy family.

Parents don’t often have insight into how they’re doing; they don’t usually get see how other people perform in the parenting roles.  TV families at least give us measuring sticks by which to gauge our own efforts.  No doubt there were many parents who strove to be like Ward and June Cleaver but found they couldn’t quite measure up.  For a long time, TV showed us the idealized families, but now we’re getting to see the other end of the parenting spectrum.

If you’re worried about your parenting, watch Ray Donovan.  I promise, you’ll feel better.

Nightingale Oboe Reeds

If you play the oboe, you need reeds.  In fact, you need lots of reeds, because the oboe is a double-reed instrument.

But where to go for high-quality reeds if you are a student learning to play the oboe and find yourself in need of reed?  Fortunately, there is now an answer:  Nightingale Oboe Reeds, where you can get wonderful reeds made by somebody who is an exceptional oboist in her own right.  You can even subscribe and get reeds delivered to your doorstep every month.  (And the reedmaker can give you oboe lessons, too.)

How do the reeds sound, you ask?  Well, listen to this terrific piece by Mozart played by the Yellow Book Project, tune in to the oboe, and see if you don’t think those reeds sound great.