Simple Joys

 it doesn’t take much to make a ferret happy.  They have a sense of play and fun that I wish that I had.  Imagine if we could live our lives just enjoying the day as it comes and enjoying the simple things.  

Life is too complicated sometimes.  We get caught up in daily problems and responsibilities.  Slow down.  Focus in.  Don’t live life by rote.

Enjoy the simple things.

Reminiscing

Today was a beautiful early summer day. The sky was blue. It was warm but not hot and a gentle breeze blew. While out walking, I remembered the halcyon days from my youth. Early summer freedom.

For the most part, summer meant being outside, all day. At one point, I lived in a rural area, surrounded by woods. My friends and I created a world of our own. One day, we were explorers on an unknown planet. Later, we fell through a time hole and ended up in a land of dinosaurs. We were war heroes and park rangers. The days ended by catching fireflies in a jar, only to turn them loose the next night. I had pet frogs and turtles. We played.

When I moved to Oregon, we no longer lived rural. We were in a suburban neighborhood. The games shifted to various versions of tag, hide and seek, water fights, pirates, and bike riding. Parents noticed what we were doing but rarely intervened. One rainy day game was “mice.” Two of my friends had the best rooms. They had a small storage area under the house’s eves with access through doors in their rooms. We used to pretend to be mice, based on the book “Ms. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.” We were mice with enhanced intelligence. We went on “raids” of the kitchen, taking cookbooks, dish towels, and various other odd items. Pat and Debbie’s mother would “track” us back and we’d end up in a pillow fight or sprayed by a water bottle, or play fight with old wrapping paper tubes. Their parents also had a second job cleaning a bowling alley. Sometimes, I went with them. The kids would have small chores, then get to bowl after.

Childhood today seems to be different. The NFL has a program “Play 60” to encourage children to be physically active for an hour a day. It saddens me that our children’s fitness and activity has come down to football players having to tell kids to play. But, then, I notice a virtual absence of children riding bikes or playing in neighbors. The only time I see a kid on a playground, a parent is helicoptering in the background.

We have, sadly, become a nation on fears. Fear of something happening to our children if we dare let them out to play, fear of terrorists, fear of economic collapse, fear of gun violence, fear of not having guns, fear… Fear. It is paralyzing our nation.

Yes, times changed. We are more aware of violence. And also less connected to our neighbors. My parents knew the kids I played with and knew their parents. They watched from their houses as we played. Other adults also paid attention. After a particularly fantastic bike wreck, a neighbor who didn’t have children, came out of her house and helped. We had neighborhood barbecues and other gatherings. We knew who lived there- and who was a stranger. Interestingly, the rate of child abductions by strangers has not grown. It is still a rare occurrence, just as it was when I was a child. Most abductions are parental abductions.

As I continued my walk, I felt sad for our country today and a sense of loss. I felt sadness for children who will never know what it is like to have no cell phone and know when to go home by when the street lights came on. Children growing up harbored indoors.

I turned a corner and heard children laughing. On the street were 5 kids playing an interesting game involving a plastic baseball bat, a whiffle ball, and a garden hose. I never figured out the object of the game. But, that wasn’t important. What mattered was the children having fun. For a moment, I wished I could join them. Laughter.

Interspecies Friendships

Interspecies friendships are fascinating.  One of my ferrets, Kaliyah, is good friends with Brigid, my nine month old Siamese mix.  They play together all evening.  When I first brought Brigid home, I was a little concerned about how the furries would get along.  Brigid was 8 weeks old.  At the time, I had four ferrets; Koda Bear, Taliesin, Kaliyah, and Tosca.  Koda and Taliesin sniffed the kitten.  Taliesin evidently recognized her as a baby.  Obviously, said baby did not belong running wild outside the safety of a den.  To care for her, Taliesin attempted regularly to drag her under the couch or chair.  The kitten was not impressed.  Koda groomed her, then ignored her unless she was being fed.  Then he was in the kitchen with her, looking for a treat.  Kaliyah and Tosca both took the “outsider” baby as a threat to their domain.  They bit her on the ears and generally harassed her.  It was pitiful.  Poor Brigid took some knocks.

As Brigid grew, Taliesin stopped trying to protect her.  I assume he decided that she was “old enough” to play outside.  Brigid and he groomed each other regularly.  As Taliesin’s lymphoma became more advanced, I noticed the kitten (now about 4 months old), grooming the oldster more often.  She also cuddled in a nap with him.  Koda continued his attempts to steal food from her but remained uninterested except a ocassional sniff.  Both the boys passed away to Rainbow Bridge.

The real change in the relationships were between the female ferrets and Brigid.  Tosca accepted her into the house and stopped picking on her. This is actually fairly common with female ferrets.  As the baby grows toward adolescence or adulthood, they can become part of the business.  It didn’t work out that way for Kaliyah.  Tosca and Kaliyah are both dominant females.  They will constantly squabble for territory.  However, they seemed to have come to an understanding that they must co-exist somewhat peacefully.  They basically ignore each other unless one gets into the way of the other.  I don’t expect them to share a cage.   Tosca and Brigid play together some.  However, it is mostly a greeting and a friendly acceptance of the other.

Brigid and Kaliyah have become great friends.  They play together every evening.  Kaliyah enjoys a good game of chase.  Brigid enjoys “hunting” her.  She chases Kaliyah throughout the house.  Kaliyah dives under chairs and runs through her tunnels.  It is fun to watch them.  All three animals enjoy “ambushing.”  Tosca sneaks up behind Brigid and gently nips her leg.  The cat jumps, then chases the unrepentant ferret.  I know the nip is gentle.  Brigid doesn’t act like it hurts, just startles her.  And Tosca plays the same trick on me and gets a similar response.   Brigid loves to set an ambush after the ferrets get their NBones.  Kaliyah is not a wild ferret.  She hasn’t figured out that you don’t run the same pattern.  Every time she gets an NBone, she runs to hide under the couch and consume her treat.  Brigid figured it out.  Brigid stands hidden from the ferret view in the kitchen behind the counter.   As Kaliyah runs from kitchen to living room, Brigid pounces high.  She lands squarely on top on the ferret.  Kaliyah squirts out from under and continues her mad dash, with Brigid in pursuit.  If she becomes too excited in the game, Brigid face plants into the couch as the ferret disappears under.

The ferrets and cat aren’t worried that they’re different species.  They don’t look at the appearance of their friend.  Or her color, smell, species.  It’s a shame people can’t be more like “animals.”

This video shows the friendship and play between Kaliyah and Brigid.  I hope you enjoy.

To be a superhero

 

                                                                                                                                    

As a child, I often wondered what it would be like to be the Bionic Woman.  Jaime Sommers had strength, speed, and enhanced hearing.  What fun that would be!  Just imagine what one could learn, overhearing conversations.  And to be able to run 50 mph must be a thrill.  Unless you trip.  That would be ugly.  Jaime started out as an adventurous woman.  In the 1970’s, she was a model of what a woman could be.  She was a professional tennis player.  She parachuted from planes.  Even before she became bionic, she was brave, athletic, and in love with Steven Austin.   After her accident, her life was saved and she became bionic.  Her life changed.   She became a school teacher and an OSI agent.   Even her dog, Max, was super-dog.  I spent many days pretending to be Jaime Sommers.  I solved mysteries and saved the world on at least 5 separate occasions.  My friend, Steven Austin (David), helped a few times.    The bionic woman and 6 million dollar man dolls were the only ones I played with.  Except my one Barbie that I cut off her hair and stole one of the uniforms from my brother’s GI Joes.  Yes, the first GI Jane.  She helped Steve and Jaime a few times. 

Imagination is wonderful.  Children use it naturally.  They create worlds.  They solve problems and have adventures.  Sadly, imagination and play are often lost as we become adults.  We’re told that they are signs of immaturity.  Live in the real world.   Many teenagers and some adults channel their imaginative play into role playing games or computer games.  These are fairly acceptable activities.  Although, people who role play are often portrayed as “weird” or “off” in media. 

It’s sad that we’re taught to leave behind our imaginations and play.  The energy and possibilities generated could possibly lead to important discoveries and changes.   Away from the serious world, play and imagination make excellent vacations from reality.  The world can be stressful.  Why not escape to fantasy every once in awhile?

Ah… fantasy.

It was a cold day in April.  Spring had arrived according to the calendar but the weather evidently did not receive the memo.   It was overcast; gray clouds hung over the mountains and threatened snow.    The work day ended and our hero started the long drive home.  A simple social worker, she had no idea her life was about to be changed drastically by the car accident.  At first, the injuries seemed minor.  She was dazed, bruised, and sore.  But, over time, she developed significant concussion symptoms.  The medical professionals explain the heightened hearing and smell as being part of post-concussion syndrome, or TBI.    But, that’s not the truth.   The concussion led to the development of super powers. 

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Well, this is my reality.  The drop of a fork on a plate sounds like an explosion.   My sensitivity to sound, “enhanced hearing,” is a challenge or burden to overcome.    My senses are too sensitive, causing me to overload mentally.  In time, it will get better.  I will return to normal as I heal. 

I don’t want super powers.  But, I do want to be the average person, like Jaime Sommers, who overcomes injuries and becomes someone extraordinary.  Or maybe I’d be happy just to be normal.  And to use my imagination.

This world is but a canvas to our imaginations.”~~ Henry David Thoreau