Looking Cheeky

Having worked on a college campus, I’m familiar with the “evil minions” created by college students who are missing the family pet. The students are all a soft touch when it comes to the campus animals, most notably the squirrel population. The squirrels have become so habituated to people that they have zero fear. They have been fed scraps from the dining halls to the point that they prefer Little Debbie snack cakes to acorns. This last year has been really hard on them what with the majority of students either attending virtually or spending as little time in public places as possible. The campus squirrels have slimmed down. They’ve rediscovered the bounty of nature. All is well.

However across town on a different college campus, the squirrels have resorted to other strategies. The campus abuts the property of a fast food chain noted for their golden arches and french fries. I usually don’t frequent the establishment but I had a coupon for a free medium fry with a $1 purchase. So I indulged. Because the dining room is closed (still and prudently so) I ordered and then pulled into a parking spot to eat my food (because piping hot fries are best eaten piping hot). No sooner did I park than a squirrel jumped up on the light post and started to stare me down.

At one point he jumped down after making eye contact. I figured he’d left. I was sorely mistaken. He was pacing along side the car and when I looked in the sideview mirror he was sitting up and waving at me. I continued to eat and tried to ignore him. Soon he was back up on the light post and appeared to be praying. (The nearby college is affiliated with the evangelical Christian Missionary Church so it is probably a requirement to remain on campus that you know and say all your prayers.) As I got to the end of my fries I decided to let him have the last too crunchy ones. He was very thankful.

Looking Good, Feeling Better

At the start of the pandemic, before we realized that this was going to last longer than 3 weeks, everyone was starting home improvement projects and reveling in a little “free time” as we were locked down. After reality set in and we understood that this was going to last well into Spring and probably though Summer, there were lots of resources sent out into the world that were meant to be a help in coping with isolation, loneliness, depression, and the general grumpiness of having to reinvent how we worked and interacted with the world.

I was gifted such a thing by the University HR department in conjunction with the Wellness Center. It is a booklet titled “Feeling good: 100 ways to feel better every day”. I have to admit I tossed it in the desk and forgot about it. That is, I hadn’t looked at it until I was rummaging through the desk trying to unearth some important papers for tax purposes. With the prospect of doing the taxes and probably having to shell out a tidy sum to the IRS, I was not feeling very good. When my hands fell on this booklet I immediately thought, “Wow! This might be something to lift my spirits!” With hopeful anticipation I sat at the desk and started reading. The book is designed to introduce one practice each day to allow you to slowly build a routine that improves your ability to cope, reduces your stress, and makes you “feel good”. I got all the way to #54 before I started to laugh hysterically. I know this is long but I couldn’t help it!

They say laughter is a great stress reducer. So to assist you with relaxation, elevate your mood, reduce your stress, I give you some of the suggested “feel good activities”:
#1 – Eat breakfast. They suggest a high fiber smoothie (they are really in favor of fiber – lots of it).
#2 – Cut back on caffeine. I’m decaffeinated already so this didn’t really apply. However, living with a man who MUST have his coffee, I know that my stress level will increase as his coffee consumption decreases!
#4 through 9 – Exercise. Why? To quote the book “exercise will decrease your chances of death from heart disease, stroke, and reduce incidence of diabetes and colon cancer.” Isn’t that uplifting. Increase endorphins with vigorous exercise. Take a walk every day to get a change of scenery. Get an exercise buddy to give you accountability (I suppose that means one of those virtual slave drivers from Biggest Loser?). Do strength training to get stronger (increases stamina for those marathon Zoom meetings).
#10 – Smile. You should smile because it will make everyone around you feel better. When they feel better, you will too. I am acutely aware that this little book was written well before the pandemic. Smile at your partner, coworkers, strangers while wearing a mask?
#12 – Trust your instincts. Listen to your inner voice. (at this point I was chuckling because my inner voice was telling me that this booklet was a bunch of hooey.)
#13 – Rid yourself of one bad habit. The book suggests “talk yourself out of the habit” which sounds pretty sketchy. I mean the chocolate is a much more persuasive speaker than my inner voice which generally chimes agreement with whatever the chocolate suggests – cookies, fudge sundae, s’more?
#15 – Find a doctor you like. They don’t give any guidance. I was wondering at this point if they meant that you should have them fill out a dating profile or if it was based on looks or would it be better to find one with a healthy bank account??
#16 – Do something for others. I was highly amused at this one. I can just imagine the woman working from home attempting to provide meals for the kids, assist with tech issues for online school, deal with the family pet, mollify a cranky spouse (who has not had enough caffeine) and attend yet another Zoom meeting where they are assigned even more tasks! The author was obviously a man.
#17 – Go away. Although it sounds good the practicality is lacking. They did say that a getaway may involve relocating to a little used space to afford some distance from the daily routine. For most mothers, this is a bathroom that has a good solid door and a sturdy lock or perhaps they can sneak into a crawlspace or attic. The only problem is that children can smell chocolate at incredible distances and have hearing acutely tuned to the rustle of a candy wrapper and they will find you.
#18 – Spend time outdoors. I suppose that after you’ve done your walk, you might find that the picnic table on the patio is a nice spot. Unless you are in Indiana in the winter and early spring, where the snow has buried the picnic table, the wind is creating a wind chill of double digit negative numbers… (by this time I was snickering out loud)
#19 – Spend time with your pet. If you don’t have one, they suggest “borrowing” a pet from a friend or neighbor. I seriously doubt that will happen.
#20 – Take a daily vitamin. Because that breakfast smoothie isn’t nutritious enough. My problem is that the adult gummie vitamins are too tasty and I need to make sure I only eat 2!
#21 – Get the calcium you need. So use milk or yogurt in the breakfast smoothie because a little lactose plus all that fiber may cause gas and then people will avoid you… (you might even be able to sneak away and have that candy bar!)
#22 – Get enough sleep. So turn off the computer. Drink some warm milk (gotta get that calcium)…
#23 – Create a community. Turn on the computer and connect virtually with people you have things in common with. Of course that might be hard to do if they are throttling your internet and the kids are all using up the bandwidth anyway. So you’ll have to do this late at night (in a direct contradiction to #22) after you’ve had your warm milk…
#24 – Laugh. They suggested subscribing to a daily joke, watching animal videos, movie bloopers, etc.
#25 through 32 – Nutrition. Eat a balanced diet and don’t over eat! (as if COVID weight gain wasn’t hard to prevent). Avoid snacking between meals. Be a defensive eater by stopping when you are full and having a glass of water and carrot sticks before your meal to reduce your appetite (isn’t that a contradiction because that is the very definition of a snack). And finally lose weight. (easier said than done and the ridiculousness of the suggestions made me guffaw)
#33 – Take a nap. Like that is going to happen when you are supposed to be working and home schooling the kids.
#34 – Be good to your feet. Lose the high heels and wear shoes that fit properly. I personally have to say that with the pandemic I haven’t worn heels or panty hose. Heck, I haven’t even shaved my legs…
#35 – Get help if you have a hearing problem. This one baffled me. If people are losing their hearing it is most likely due to having the speakers on the computer turned to full volume to hear the meeting discussion over the TV and screaming match in the other room. I think the help we need would be for the weather to let up so everyone could be pitched outside without fear of frostbite!
#37 – Avoid work overload. Learn to say no. (hahahaha! I can hear it now – “Sorry Boss, I can’t take on that project. I only have so many hours in the day and they are already filled.” with the nap, walk, cooking, cleaning, laundry, kid’s school work, computer trouble shooting, and my regular work load.) I’m sure the Boss would be fine with that… NOT!
#38 to 44 – Stress. Learn to recognize it. Learn to eliminate it. Help the family manage it. Ask for help when you need it. Get support when you are feeling it. Make a schedule to manage stress. Step away when the pressure builds. Perhaps they should have just said to quit your job and become a surf bum?
#45 through 50 – Be health conscious. Pack healthy lunches. Avoid middle age spread by staying active. Drink water. Take stretch breaks when working at the computer. (this was a rewording of the previous health instructions and a tad redundant and a little offensive since the book mentioned menopausal women as needing to be extra vigilant or they’d turn into lumps of lard – my wording but their meaning).
#51 through 54 – Talk to your teen. Their “feel good” suggestions included having a little heart to heart with your teen concerning alcohol use, sexual activity, drug use, and the one that put me over the edge – wearing a seatbelt. The seatbelt suggestion to “feel good” was, and I quote, “Be a nag about wearing a seatbelt.” It is very obvious that the author has zero experience with teenagers. As I read these I could not imagine any scenario where there was not extreme eye rolling, sullen looks and what may have been a teen in a neutral mood being pulled into the realm of demonic possession. As far feeling good, this is absolutely the opposite not only for the child but also for the parent.

Anyway, after #54 had me gasping for breath I decided that I had had enough #24 and made the decision to donate this gem to Goodwill. Perhaps some working from home parent will get a good laugh out of it!!

A little tanka to fulfill Calmkate’s Friday Fun challenge – streaks:

Laughing tears streak face
Mascara streaks cheek to chin
Streaker causes mirth
Seeing what little is left
To the imagination

Looking at An Angry Old Man

Sparky has been putting out geocaches since we’ve found nearly all the ones in our area. Because we needed to find caches to fill in our calendar grid, he’s been working hard to make them clever and fun. Just before Christmas he placed 6 new caches that were approved by the reviewer. You see caches have to follow several rules among them you need to get permission from a land owner if you want to place them on private property, you need permission from a business if you are placing it on their property, and you need to be aware of safety (for parking and walking). Sparky is very careful not to cause any issues.

So you ask, where does an angry old man come into the story? Ah. Yes the angry old man. Sparky hid a very nicely camouflaged pill bottle in a pine tree. The tree was one of many that lined a fence along the right away on a road next to a very large grocery that we frequent. The road is a seldom traveled one and so pulling off to the side is not an issue. Anyway, as the cache owner he received an email from a fellow cacher saying that when she was searching an angry old man came out of the house across the street and started yelling at her to get off his property. He informed her that all the land on that side belonged to him. He also called her some very vile names (a true misogynist) and then threatened to call the police all the while taking photos of her car and license plate! She was completely intimidated and shaken. Well Sparky was very confused. He investigated and searched the county plats to determine the owner of the disputed land – which turns out to be the grocery store located on the other side of the fence. Of course he has permission to place the cache. He determined that he would be better off relocating the cache container further down the street.

He disabled the cache. Due to the winter snow and cold he waited until the weather was more cooperative before trying to investigate the problem. He went to retrieve the cache. He was met by the same very belligerent old man who threatened him, took photos of his car, and aimed foul language at him. He left the angry old man and drove a goodly distance down the street to a likely spot. Upon exiting his car and using his GPS to get the new coordinates, a woman exited her home to ask just what he thought he was doing! Seems the angry old man has notified all his neighbors that there are miscreants and probably heinous Biden supporters lurking in the trees – no doubt intent on setting up some sort of nefarious mind control network… Needless to say that cache will be relocated to the other side of the fence and likely a good distance away from the fence – just in case any cachers get too close to the other side! Good grief!

Looking Quirky

Question my sanity or decorum
Undo status quo humdrum
I resist conformity I won’t succumb
Release the whimsy I overcome
Kick out mediocrity and the hohum
Yes to flamboyant, fun I become!

I received several gifts at Christmas that made me happy on a cellular level. One was a bunny mask. This sent me into peals of laughter and every time I wear it and look in a reflective surface I giggle. I’ve been wearing it with my bunny hat. I’ve gotten compliments and that is nice but what really sends me are the looks. You know the ones, the side-eye, the pulling the kids closer just in case I’m some deranged monster… I am tickled.

The other gift was a hat. Not just any hat mind you – a FOX hat! Yes, with fox ears! I love the hat. I wear the hat. How cute is it? I entered a store and as I was walking past the checkout there was an ear piercing scream. It stopped me dead in my tracks and I looked around to find where the axe murderer was wailing on a victim (since the screaming continued at a slightly reduced volume). What I encountered made me laugh for several hours (and repeating it here makes me smile again). A woman finishing her transaction had seen me and was so moved that she started shrieking. As she pocketed her change, the screams continued with her waving her arms and pointing to me. I was rooted in wonder and a little fear at her behavior. She rushed up to me and gushed that she LOVED my hat. She offered me money to part with it. I turned her down. For a brief moment I thought she might snatch it from my head.

For those new to my blog I have to confess a proclivity for fun (and funny) hats. I have a bunny, bear, cat, tiger, jester’s cap complete with bells, one with lightning bolts, a Russian hat (not unlike the one Melania wore but I always look happier),

a trapper hat, a Swiss army hat, a blaze orange fleece geocaching hat (with the official logo), a Boonie hat, a fisherman’s hat to keep the rain off my back, a not quite raspberry beret, an Irish flat cap, a bucket hat, and an assortment of sun hats, baseball caps, beanies, and tams.

Looking at Robins

Calmkate asked us to post about ambiance. So this little slice of life in my corner of the world hopefully will bring you into the atmosphere and mood, not to mention the feel and climate of Northern Indiana, USA.

It is March already! I’m excited that perhaps, maybe, possibly, fingers crossed, we will have an early Spring. Maybe. Of course living in Northern Indiana means we have had lots of cold and snow this winter.
Sometimes the snow is beautiful

And we are probably going to have at least a couple more good snows. But I saw robins today. Those birds are stupid to return, again. There is no food, lots of cold winds, and precipitation and there will be some fatalities among their throng – yet they have arrived. Perhaps in another life I was a robin. Seems likely since I too have irrepressible optimism. There is no tangible evidence that Spring is eminent but I’m thinking about warm weather. I mostly refrained from writing about winter. There were so many other things going on that there wasn’t time to dwell on it. I feel in my bones that there is a Spring waiting for me.