Tuesday, September 24, 2013

random things

Sometimes things catch my eye. And I wonder.

I was driving behind a truck carrying a big bunch of outhouses. I kept my distance (except to take the picture) because I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if that one strap, holding that last outhouse on the edge of the bed (see it hanging over a bit?), snapped. What would happen to me? I assumed (hoped?) they were empty, but they might not have been!  I was thinking about the guy(s) who loaded them on and what they were thinking: "Hey, if we stick this one last one on, hanging off a bit, but roped to the others, we could save ourselves some time. Maybe save us another trip!"

I saw this lunch container one day on the grass. I didn't think much about it. After all, it seemed like something someone might have missed picking up if they'd been sitting on the grass, eating lunch. I thought they would be back to get it when they realized it was missing, so I left it there. The next evening, as I walked to the parking lot to go home, I saw the box, the same one--I could tell by the remnants inside. It was sitting on a retaining wall, right there, obvious, as if it were saying "Look at me! Here I am!" But it was a significant distance from where it had been on the grass. Not really in the same area at all. That's what got me thinking (and stopping to take a picture): why was it so far from where it had been the day before?  I started wondering about the person who'd carried it there. They could have thought: Someone will miss this. If I put it on this wall where it attracts attention, that person will see it and remember and be glad to have found what was lost. (it was a very nice container). But what if that person didn't walk by that corner? The box had originally been left in a spot that allowed for lots of paths going to and from. What the person thinking to pick it up and carry it some distance before leaving it here. Had they really planned to take it home and then thought better of it? 

A bigger wondering is this one: 
 I saw this staged battle between green and brown army guys on the short wall that borders the stairs to lower campus. Someone had obviously arranged the scene for people who passed by. As I stopped to look, and then lingered to take a picture, I couldn't help but wonder: was the person watching to see how people reacted to the display? Was I part of a study or television show or YouTube video? I didn't see anything suspicious, but as I walked away and for many days later, I looked wherever I went to see another display of army guys in battle. After all, the person who put them there had to have more, right? 

So, I am wondering about wondering. I am glad I paused these three times to take a picture of something that made me wonder. Too often, we go through life really fast, not taking time to notice let alone wonder about the world around us. I know I do. I walk fast, thinking of my next destination, my next obligation. I walk with phone in our hands, texting or emailing or facebooking as I walk. Not really in the here and now. Not smelling the smells of the season or seeing the little smile-sights around me. In some ways, maybe the people behind these three shots knew that and wanted to give others a moment to stop, think, and smile. I did. And I am reminded I should do that more often. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

it's that time again

There are signals during the year, sights and sounds and smells that make us recognize the coming of a regular event. I love the sound of Christmas music before Christmas, the pumpkins that dot front porches in autumn, the smell of barbecue that shouts "Summer!"

I've been in a rush lately, so even though at some level I knew it was coming, I had missed the signs that another one of those regular events was upon us. Until I saw this yesterday:

It's the week of the big rivalry game, so, of course, all the statues on campus are wrapped in plastic. It's as much a part of the ritual game as tail-gating and painting faces blue, I think. I don't know if the rival campus has to take similar measures. I hope not, but I know emotions run high at these times. It's both sad and funny. Sad that competition moves some to deface property and funny that we identify SO strongly with an institution that a small group of people from that institution playing a game with a ball and helmets comes to represent the whole. Whoever wins is the best. Let's not mention cancer research or graphic design contests or numbers of students who go on to graduate school or any of the other criteria universities generally use to measure quality. It all comes down to this: pigskin and grunts and tackles and passes and touchdowns.

And a bad part: whoever wins this time has bragging rights for a l-o-n-g time, since the two teams won't meet annually any more. Sad in some ways. But I can look at it this way: we can save a lot of plastic that doesn't have to wrap about Brigham and Carl.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I found this puzzle piece on the sidewalk a while ago. It intrigued me. All by itself. Without its partners or friends or neighbors. I wondered how it came to be there, alone. I wondered what it was part of. I picked it up, carried it to my office, and put it on my desk where I see it everyday.

 And in the days since, I have thought about it. I wondered if I was part of a project. You know. . . drop puzzle pieces around campus and see if people 1) notice them, 2) pick them up, 3) find the other pieces and put the puzzle back together. I have seen other ideas like this. A desk on a city street, with a sign encouraging passersby to sit and write a letter. A brick wall in sad part of town and paint, inviting sharing of six-word memoirs. Am I supposed to be looking for others who have pieces to this puzzle? How would I go about that? And even if I don't ever find the picture that this piece is part of, I still wonder.

What is the big picture? It's hard to tell from my piece. Maybe it's the grass in the background of a picture of a lion. Maybe it's the field behind a small white farmhouse. It could be most anything. By itself. And how is the picture complete without this section of grass or field? I wonder.