Monday, August 2, 2010

once upon a loon...


Many times it’s the most simplistic of things that makes me smile; that makes me happy. Yet all around me things seem to continually get more and more complicated. Which does not make me smile. It makes me frown.

I do not like to frown.

So I’m doing my best to streamline. Get back to basics. Go back to when things were so much simpler. Or at least my perception of when I thought they were.

I was out walking with my labradoodle Sienna (aka: the best dog ever) and as we strolled the streets on this wonderful summer night; I smiled. I smiled on the outside for all to see and I smiled lots on the inside. The evening was pleasant and warm. A light breeze lifted my spirits and hair seemed to add a little more spring to my step. All was right with the world.

The past several weeks the air has been heavy with humidity that made even breathing laborious. The weather has matched my mood. Dark; heavy and somewhat sad. It was nice, for a change, to feel good. Really good. To forget about what's past and focus on the now. And now is gorgeous.

We turn into Lakewood Park to walk the pedestrian trail that runs around the perimeter of the park along the shore of Lake Erie. It’s nice to be able to finally legally walk my pet in the park. I like to go and see the sign that I sponsor. It has my dogs names on it and houses bags and instructions for others with pets to clean up after them, if needed.

I see this night there are few others in the park walking their dogs. Many residents are still unaware that the law banning dogs from city property has been lifted. At least on a temporary basis until the council is sure that dogs owners are responsible and won’t add their pets dung to that of the Canadian geese on the ball field.

A gal runs up and stops to give me her card and ruffle Sienna's fur. Sienna is looking quite beautiful as she had a day of doggy beauty at the Paws and Effect dog grooming salon, compliments of Jason and Angel that owns and run the place. Sienna loves going to the salon. Somehow she knows she looks and smells good, you can see it in her gait. She almost preens.

She’s a docile dog with a friendly manner and wonderful, soft light brown eyes. People are always drawn to her. This gal tells me she works for American Greetings as an artist but has started doing dog portraits. The thought of her coming over to paint my dogs as they sit on velvet pillows, still and regal, makes me chuckle. I can see hanging this portrait over the mantle in the living room. I smile a little bigger. I’m easily amused.

As we stand there chatting, a few other little kids come by. “Big doggy!” a little boy about two squeals. The mother gives me a look of ‘Is it okay?’. “Yes, she’s very gentle. She loves kids” I tell her.

Once her son has his hands deeply embedded into Sienna's fur, my pup gives him a big lick and he again screeches his delight. Sienna is sitting there on her bum with her legs askew watching as the little boy rolls around on the ground directly in front of her. She places a paw on his stomach and he laughs. A few other kids see this and come over to join in the festivities. Sienna is loving the attention but after a time she gives me a sideways glance of Enough. Can we go now?’ So I take her direction and extricate her from the growing crowd of little kids all trying to get her to lick them next and we continue down the path.

There’s a group of nine adults trying to get a group photo. One person takes a picture, then rejoins the group as another takes the next photo with the previous photographer in it and them not. As I get closer along the path I see them do this particular switch three times. It’s a rather amusing little dance they’re engaged in. My mind sets it to a waltz by Brahms. One and two, one and two, one and two...snap!

“Can I take the photo of all of you?” I ask.

Really?” comes the response, “You would do that?” Her tone is incredulous. Like I've just given them a winning lottery ticket or something of that nature.

“Why sure! It’s really no problem at all.”

So I take all their expensive digital cameras and run away….

That didn’t happen, but the thought also made me chuckle.
And smile even bigger, again. I’m thinking, ‘people must think me a loon’. I arrange them all and one by one take several photos on each of the cameras dangling from my arms.

“Oh…thank you! It’s perfect!” The lady in the back tells me. “Stan, take her photo as well! I want a photo of the nice lady and her dog that stopped to help out.”

I really don’t like to have my photo taken. But I oblige and pose with Sienna so these people can look at the photo one day and say, ‘who the heck is this gal?’

I learn that this group is all in town visiting from Iowa and Washington for a wedding. They are enjoying the fine weather as well. We chat for a few more moments and then Sienna and I are back on the trail. As I walk away I am saddened that this simple act of stopping and helping out this group with a photo drew so much praise. Isn’t that just the right thing to do? Wouldn’t anyone have done that?

I look around me and the park is indeed busy on this beautiful summer night. There’s a couple lounging and canoodling on a blanket, some people unsuccessfully trying to volley a ball over by the sand volleyball court, the tennis courts and playground is filled and many other groups are sitting on the bench swings. There are many walkers, bikers and joggers on the path. I think back and try to remember how many people I passed as I approached this group before I asked them if I could help.

In my minds eye I counted twenty-four.

That’s twenty-four other people that passed this same group, that watched the same switching photographer dance and didn’t bother to change their course and stop to assist.

Why is it when passing people on the street, many cast their eyes downward? Or away? As if all of a sudden the most interesting of birds was found nesting in a high tree branch. If they met your gaze they would have to acknowledge you. But by being otherwise engaged by the interest of the pavement, or in the trees, or in the cars driving past, they have avoided contact.

I test this scenario over and over and am always amazed by my results. It seems that the majority of people would rather not have contact with a stranger. They would prefer to load their groceries and not greet anyone between their car, the store and back to their car.

I, on the other hand, like to see how many people I can force into saying “Hi” or “Good morning/afternoon/evening” whatever the case may be. I’ll settle for a mere nod or slight smile. Just an acknowledgement of sorts. Maybe I am a loon. But wouldn’t people be less suspicious of others if we all were friendly with one another?

Back to a simpler way? A simpler time? A time when people helped others out?
Even with the simplest of things like taking a photo.

I’m doing my part.
Can you?

In the meantime I’m content to continue in my own fashion. Who knows? Stan and his wife may actually remember my name when they print out my picture and add it to their album. I may have altered some course of action by my little photographer skills and my loon-ish ways.

I suppose in the big picture, it doesn’t really matter all that much.
But it makes me smile.

And that’s all I need.

Sorry I've been gone for several weeks. I put some of my thoughts down on paper, but it was all very caustic. So I just waited for the cloud to pass. I know Carlos would say, welcome to the dark side if I did indeed post my rantings. But maybe sometime. Now isn't that time.

Thanks for your patience.
It's nice to be back.

And thank you to those sending me condolences on my mothers anniversary of her passing. It really means alot. {{{hugsback}}}


  1. Amen. And I always say hello on the street. Promise!


  2. It takes so little effort to be kind, I don't know why so many of us don't act on it. Fear? Or just not wanting to be bothered?

  3. Oh, Nancy, we are SO cut from the same cloth. I, too, will go out of my way to acknowledge another person, offer to take their photos (then actually always act like I'm about to run for it when they hand me the camera!), etc, etc. It makes life SO much more pleasant.

    And I'm sorry about the anniversary of your mother's death. We have a tradition of lighting a memorial candle at home on that date for our loved ones... It burns for 24 hours, and we say some special prayers when we light it. When my kids were little, and it was time to do this for my parents, we would always take the phone off the hook (dating myself) and each of us would talk about some memory of Grandma or Grandpa before we lit the candle.

    If you want one (it's never too late, I say) look in the kosher foods aisle of your supermarket-- they're small and inexpensive, and we've shared this tradition with many of our non-Jewish friends, and they really feel good about it. In any case, my heart goes out to you. It's such a lovely tribute to your mom that her loss affects you so.



  4. Lovely post Nancy. I have been feeling a little blue myself lately. It is getting much harder to find people just randomely doing good things. It is very difficult to just "live simply" - I wear this phrase on a bracelet I wear to remind me. Life can be complicated and we can easily be led down that path. Always important to remember simpler things and stay positive. Hugs to you and blessings - your mom has a very loving and joyful smile. xo

  5. I am very new to your blog, so I didn't know your mom died. You must have been close. Sorry to hear that.

    We all have our ups and downs. I keep my downs to myself mostly, too. I loved this post! It always kind of makes me a little sad when people are so surprised when you hold an elevator, or a door, or return something they dropped...but there are still people who do those things. I've spotted several of the lost species still alive and polite and friendly--hehe! All is not lost.

    Your dog sounds like a sweetheart. And he is probably so kind to the children, also, because he knows you will extricate him when he wants to go. ;)

    Keep smiling!! :):)

  6. You are so right Nancy. I often think i am an odd one out as I do make eye contact and say "Hi" to people... even on the train (shock, horror) It makes me smile.

  7. It's sad isn't it that it seems so difficult for people to just smile, nod, say hello, or even ecknowledge the existence of others these days? I have to say the picture of Sienna made me chuckle.Why? She sits just like my labradoodle, Wylie - sort of leans to one hip! I must say Sienna is a beautiful dog. They really are the sweetest, most gentle, attention-loving breed.

  8. Three things:
    1. I avoid people because I don't suffer fools (except at work, but they pay me there). Forced pleasantries irritate me.

    2. Your dog would bite me.

    3. If you ranted, I'd probably jump out a window. I need your light, Nancy.

  9. I so agree with your thought process in this post. Beautiful actions result in beautiful memories and a smile. So glad you are back :)

    Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  10. That's right. Any time I start questioning my purpose on this planet, I remember that even the slightest action (or inaction) on my part affects the lives of others. And that gives me a renewed sense of purpose in a seemingly purposeless world.

  11. I love when I see I have a post in my reader from you, because I know in the end, it will be another keeper. This post is near the top of my "f8hasit" list. Thank you!

  12. Aw. You should come to Texas and walk your dog in one of our parks. Everyone says hello.

    Good for you taking the photo. I would have thought, "Don't they know how to use the timer?"

  13. Ah, those ol' summertime blues. So glad they have passed. And Sienna is so cute!

  14. This post made me smile, Nancy... it looks like you spread smiles and good vibes not only while you're walking Sienna in the park, but even via your blog! Thank you for that! Big hugs.

  15. ive always offered to take peoples pics and i too have always wodnered why people pass others and give them such wierd looks when trying to take a group picture. its just a human thing to do to help others.

  16. Very nice thing to do-I think because there are so many bad things in the world, that's all people can see.

    Oh well.

    (I like to wave to people and see who waves back. :))

  17. Sounds as if you encountered a big cast of characters out on that walk. Funny how dogs just seem to make it easier to break the ice. She looks like such a pretty dog, I'd have a hard time not walking up to chit chat.

  18. I'm really glad you're back. I was just thinking a couple of days ago how I've missed reading your posts.

    What a great evening. And you're right. Helping someone out, even if it's just a tiny little thing, is the best feeling in the world. You made that group's day (night?), and they'll have happy memories of their trip because of you.

  19. You know that old saying? Smile - it makes people wonder what you're up to! I smile all the time at people and say hi. I talk to strangers and I know, one of these days, it will get me in trouble. I ALWAYS offer to take a picture for strangers. After 9/11 happened, didn't it seem that people were kinder and gentler? Everyone said hello, tried to help each other out, etc? That sure didn't last long. How sad.

  20. It's good to have you back. Your post got me thinking how easy to is to brighten someone's day with just a simple smile. I have to admit that I have days where I am the one looking down and avoiding eye contact because maybe I'm just not in the place to be nice and smiley but I certainly try to smile most of the time and I get some pretty odd reactions to that. It's like people aren't used to friendly anymore.

  21. This is my first visit to your blog, but I will surely be back! Thanks for a great reminder today!

  22. Firstly, I love your dog! We're looking to get our first family dog. Either a Labradoodle or a cavoodle. I have such disasters with pets. hope everything goes OK.

    You're right when you say most people look at you funny if you do something nice. It is kind of sad. But I think most people do recognise kindness and appreciate it. Hopefully they also pass it along at some point.

    Thanks as always for a great read.

  23. Just having a friendly (and very good looking) doggy play gently with the little kids seems to be a ... miracle in its own these days of ... people hell-bent on tearing the fun out of everything and anything.

    I don't know if I would have volunteered to photograph that large-ish (for me) group - I certainly would have if asked (reasonably nicely).

    I hope the storm clouds and the bleakness have left you - some days are diamonds... and somedays are stone...

  24. I live on the West coast, but have family on the East coast and in Seattle. It was like a phenomonon to me, to see people coming out like crazy to enjoy good weather. We to tend to take things for granted. It's sad that being thoughtful to others seems like an are not a are just living your life and participating in the lives of others. Good for you. The world has a chance.

    P.S. I am beginning to believe that behind our backs, the poodles have inseminated every breed of dog there is. I love my doggies too...a ShihTsu-Poo and a Malti-Poo. Those poos are everywhere. Well, poo to the people who didn't think to stop and take a picture of that family.

  25. Poo's are the best because they don't shed. I don't know why more people can't take steps to show simple kindness to others. The world would be such a better place!!

  26. I was just out on my evening walk and I am a waver. If a car passes, I wave. The percentage of folks that actually wave back and don't look at me like I am crazy, is very low. But I will continue to wave, no matter what.

  27. good for you! i too often ask groups (or couples) when i seen them taking pics of each other if i can help out - 99% of the time they are pleased as punch, but not everyone is as comfortable approaching 'strangers' as you and i in these situations. (furthermore, not everyone can hold a camera still and get a pic in focus! so sometimes it's okay if help isn't offered, if you know what i mean...ha ha)

    i'll have to go to the park and check out the sign you sponsor - that is waaay cool!! thanks!

  28. such a story filled with light! yes, we are prone to walk about detached from all that has not invited us - BUT you have reminded me that the mere fact that we are alive and sharing this space with us IS an invitation to laugh, share and enjoy.

    for what it is worth - you made me smile today!

  29. Wonderful post, funny I just posted on kindness and Maureen over @ Island Roar posted on kindness and losing her father.
    Peace and Love be with you is a tired expression but it fits right now.

  30. This is really lovely. Positive interactions with people I don't know and may never meet again consistently fill me with a warmth that comes from no other place. I'm not always one to initiate, and sometimes I do the downward glance thing, but when the stars are aligned for an exchange between strangers, it's generally quite heartening.


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