The Slow Blink

slow blink

The slow blink, it’s a sign of sleepiness or a medical condition in humans. In cats, however, it’s a form of communication. Some say that slow blinking at or between cats is like sending a kitty kiss and that it signals the slow-blinker as non-threatening. I always thought it was a way to show dominance (wrong) and to force the recipient into submission (also wrong) which is likely why I never received the expected response from my furry friends.

Somehow the silent message sent with the slow blink and the unbroken stare got mixed in my mind, as well as the fact that these techniques should only be used on felines not supervisors or presenters at business meetings.

It was a simple mistake, easily made by anyone who works from home and spends too much time away from people.

Yesterday, I regretfully tried to slow blink a presenter at a meeting in hopes of making him go away. He stood behind a podium reading numbers off of a power point slide which is definitely a presenting no-no, even for a head honcho.

As peon in the back row of the room, I had what I thought to be a secret weapon. I was going to slow blink him into submission and away from the podium. He would slide quietly into his chair while declaring the meeting adjourned, thus releasing his captive audience back to their respective work areas. I was going to be a hero.

I started the slow blink when he looked in my general direction, preparing for the basic and total submission.

Instead, we got nada-nothing-zip-zero response, just a disturbed look of annoyance, and another half hour of numbers and projections in the same monotone voice.

This prompted me to review the slow blink and its effectiveness.

Readers, it really is only meant for cats.

http://www.petsadviser.com/behaviors/cats-blink-slowly-at-you/

http://www.mewsletter.com/ask-fancy/cat-slow-blink

http://cats.about.com/od/amyshojai/a/Cat-Talk-Cat-Eye-Blink.htm

Of course…

Of course it is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn’t meant to be reasonable.

-Kurt Vonnegut

Welcome Back!

sun 3

Greetings Readers!

In the past few weeks, you might have wondered if old Bones wandered off and forgot her blog.

Perhaps you were reminded of the dry spell of early 2013 and started to worry.

Maybe a twinge of panic hit your stomach when you realized how long droughts last.

A desperate question entered your head as you briefly considered that this might be the end of another blog.

Will we ever see another post from Puney?

Worry no longer, dear readers. I am back and here to put your curious minds to rest.

I’ve been spending time in the land of sun and skinny people, California, with the Mister.

The cats stayed behind to watch the house and water the houseplants.

It was a glorious time of hiking, drinking, eating and other adventure that can’t be discussed due to a non-disclosure agreement.

Now, back to reality, rested and recharged.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts that are certain to surprise and delight.

The Path of Least Resistance

trailer

The severe weather warning sounded on my phone. I turned it off without looking down. Distractions were not appreciated as the sky turned dark and heavy rain started to pelt the windshield. I was heading to the safest place in Indiana under the predicted conditions; a trailer nestled in a park with many other trailers.

This was a visit that needed to be done before my vacation. I didn’t have time to wait out the storm or to reschedule for the next week. There was a quote about taking the path of least resistance that came to mind but I couldn’t remember the last part of it.

Anyways, if a tornado were to hit, there wouldn’t be any pesky foundation to stop us from going airborne. So taking the path of least resistance must be a good thing- I imagined if we were in the way of a tornado, we would be lifted up, swirled around and set back down. No bigs, right?

I arrived just as the sky turned an eerie green and the wind died leaving the trailer park silent. The tornado warning siren cut through the air, deafening all of the ears within hearing range.

On further consideration, this home visit was probably not going to have a great ending.

A ferocious honey colored dog greeted me at the screen door, snarling. Its teeth were barred and the fur between its shoulders stood straight up, stegosaurus style. My can of pepper spray was in the car where it could be most helpful to me in an attack/assault type of situation.  I sighed, this was really not going to end well.

Then a woman emerged from within the dwelling with a lit cigarette dangling from her thin lips. She grabbed the dog’s metal choke collar and pulled back with a yank.

She said, “Queenie, this is a good friend. Stop it.”

We had somehow completely skipped the acquaintance stage and gone straight to friends.  At that rate, we would be family by next week and the holidays were about to get very complicated.

“C’mon in and don’t mind our mess.”

Whenever someone says that, I know it means the home is either immaculate or a disaster zone. There is never a happy medium type of situation to back up that statement.

Once again, this proved to be true. I walked in cautiously and looked for a clear space to sit. We had paperwork to complete but the table was covered with Arby’s roastbeef sandwiches, foil, fries, and stacks of papers.

“You caught us in the middle of lunch,” she said stubbing out her smoke.

She picked up a half eaten sandwich to resume where she had last left off. Queenie growled at me from a rug by the door.

“Don’t worry about her. She takes a while to warm up to strangers,” the woman explained which did little to reassure me that Queenie wasn’t about to lunge for my throat.

The possibilities of this visit were endless, a dog bite, tornado ride, COPD/lung cancer, and then a new threat ran at top speed into the living room.

A small, dirty, shirtless boy with spikey hair charged out from a backroom with plastic Hulk hands on yelling, “Hulk smash!” as he ran towards a dozing woman sitting on a stained plaid couch.

He jumped onto the cushion next to the woman and started punching her with the gloves.  Surprisingly enough, the woman did not resist the Hulk inspired blows.  In a flat voice, she said, “No, don’t,” and weakly tried to defend herself.

What strange reality is this, I wondered.

An hour later, I left with the paperwork finished and about six Marlboro Red cigarettes smoked secondhand, completely unsure of the number of people who were there as different faces continued to appear and disappear from the backroom.

I was a cloud of smoke as I made my way back to my car, never so grateful for the fresh air.

In the meantime, the storm cleared and I remembered the rest of the quote.

The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.

Or in this case, just a trailer full of smoke.

Reaching through the pine needles/Easter Egg Hunting

pine

For the past few years, I have been part of a highly specialized Easter egg hiding task force. We are a lean crew of three, capable of covering a large area with limited time. It must be admitted that we each experience some degree of joy in possibly hiding the eggs too well. Watching the Littles waddle past a cleverly obscured egg is delight above delights on Easter Sunday and I’m not above admitting it.

I like to hide my share of the eggs with the use of camouflage, a white egg in the end of a drain pipe, a green egg in the grass, a dark purple egg on top of a car tire. It’s all too much fun when they throw their little hands up with a sigh of exasperation. The task force laughs in unison at this point in the hunt and the parents of the Littles start to get upset. We mollify the situation by yelling supportive statements like, “Keep at it,” and “Think like an egg” just so they know we are on the same team.

We don’t give in and help them find the eggs because we are helping in a much bigger way. By making them really search, we boost their endurance and work ethic. Their problem solving and creative thinking skills are tested. We like to think we are cultivating the egg hunters into better people.

This Easter, a key member of our trio took things to the next level. He set a Hunger Games type of challenge for only the bravest of the Littles to try. I didn’t realize the trap was set until I heard the oldest girl cry out in pain. She was on her hands and knees in her Easter dress, slowly making her way under an old pine tree with low branches. I could see her goal, three neon eggs, holding treasures of unimaginable deliciousness.

Each egg rested in its own nest of dried pine needles and was protected by low growing branches. The girl crawled as far as she could go until the branches stopped her.

The taskforce members whispered behind me, “She needs to make a tool.”

This quickly brought to mind a tv special on PBS about chimps using sticks to fish out ants from an anthill for dinner, another good use of a tool.

It didn’t take long before the girl took off her sunglasses and used them as an extension of her arm to catch an egg and roll it towards her. Success! She had it in her hand and dropped it into the bucket that she dragged with her under the tree.
She crawled out from under the tree, backwards over the dried pine needles. The rest of the small-person-gang ran carrying their quickly filling buckets, shrieking like wild animals just released from captivity. They pounced on eggs and each other while the oldest plotted out her approach on the remaining two eggs.

Shuffling around the tree, she moved in for another attempt. She cried out as she crawled over the dry, dead pine needles and reached forward through the sharp, living green needles.

The task force yelled out, “Work through the pain!” excited by her determination and tenacity.

The girl stretched as far as her arm would go and then with her glasses like before – she was learning. Suddenly, she had the two eggs and was standing victorious beside the trees, upright like a human again.

She sat down on the porch steps without looking for anymore eggs which was good as they were mostly found by her siblings.

When they all sat down and started opening the eggs, the oldest girl popped one of the three open to find a piece of chocolate, the next one revealed a quarter, and the last one caused a horrific murder-movie type of scream.

She screamed in the agony of injustice and deflated expectations, “It’s empty!”

The taskforce giggled with delight, “Another life lesson well taught. Two out of three ain’t bad.”

Links on animals using tools:
http://www.pigeon.psy.tufts.edu/psych26/primates.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tool_use_by_animals
http://www.livescience.com/13138-blond-capuchin-monkey-tools-110308.html

Links on Easter egg hunting:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_hunt
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/greedy-parents-battle-kids-easter-egg-hunt-sacramento-article-1.2174533

The April Fool

chains

Freedom doesn’t mean much until it’s gone.

Deb never knew about the danger of healthcare until she started to really use it. Her diabetes got out of control, so she started going to the ER. She became what is called a “frequent flier” and got tagged as a high cost patient. A team was quickly dispatched to figure out what was driving these frequent visits and put a fix to things before the costs rose any higher.

The team sent her for testing and to specialists for this and that, they reviewed her medications and medical records and came to a conclusion. She was a slow learner with a poor memory and should no longer work, live by herself, handle her own medications or finances.

Wow, what an amazing conclusion made by the team. She should be made an inmate in someone’s home, better yet, maybe have her arrested and taken to prison for being too much trouble, medically speaking.
The team looked around the office once they reached their conclusion for someone to give Deb the good news. Her problems were over. The team had figured everything out.

“There’s really no point in explaining the tests to her, it’s not like she’ll remember.” One team member said to the uproarious laughter of his colleagues.

“You are always good for a laugh,” one woman in scrubs said, red in the face from the funny joke.

They put their heads together in a huddle, like a team preparing to take the field, and came out of it with a plan.

They chanted, “Send in the social worker, send in the social worker, send in the social worker.”

I nodded and straightened up my shoulders, stood a little taller and prepared to take the invisible chains of future bondage into Deb. The team lined up and patted my backside as I walked past them and said encouraging things, like “Go get ‘em” and “Keep your head up.”

There was no time for stretching or to run a few plays first, I had to get to Deb before they did.

I knew what to do.

I walked into the room and closed the door. Deb sat on a chair with a massive purse overflowing with Kleenex’s and crumpled papers on the chair next to her. I stood in front of her and put my hands on her shoulders.

In my most serious voice, I whispered, “You need to leave right now and never come back. Go as far as you can and then keep going. Don’t answer any calls or sign paperwork from these people; they want to take your freedom from you. They want to take your life.”

She cocked her head to one side and looked blankly at me for a minute. Then she started laughing showing her strong white teeth. It was a big, hearty laugh that surprised the team, waiting outside, listening with a cup to the door.

“You people are always joking in here. April’s Fool’s Day, I get it. How much longer is the wait?”

I shook my head, “For you, not much longer. Your troubles are just about to be over.”

Working from home

lightning
Each time I hear a roll of thunder, I hold out hope that a bolt of lightning will strike the bulldozer outside of my window.

I whisper a secret prayer that it kills the machine dead in its destructive tracks at it tears up the road in front of our house. The noise is growing close to insufferable with the grinding of gears, the scooping and dumping, and the voices of the men in charge of the operation.

Now, the storm has passed.

The thunder stopped, lightning never struck, and the road work continues.

I curse the sky.

There is no justice in this world.

Velvet handcuffs

Invisible and binding

growing tighter as I shrink

Cut past flesh and bone

These bonds

oppressive and unbearable

serve as

Constant reminders of my price

Oliver Street: lost and found

o st

She met me at the door as soon as I lifted my fist to knock.

She had insisted on a home visit, claiming that she couldn’t hear on the phone yet she never asked me to repeat myself or speak up. I knew it was her as soon as her pinched little face appeared from inside of the darkened house. Somehow her eager loneliness, flowered turtle neck and perfect hearing gave her away.

A gust of wind rushed in and caught the curl of grey hair on her forehead, lifting it away from her wizened face. Suddenly, I thought of my own granny and that I owed her a thank you card from my birthday present.

We’ll call this little turtle neck wearing lady, “Notmygranny”, for no reason other than to encourage my thank you note writing.

“Come in, come in,” she said and ushered me into a shag carpeted living room.

With each home I enter, I say a prayer of protection to any high power that might be listening and inclined to show mercy. It goes something like, please don’t let this be where I die. I think there is some merit in keeping it short and simple – so as not to overload the existential request line.

I cautiously padded through the room and wondered if I had fallen into some type of alternative reality. On top of the brown shag, there were two small upholstered recliners from a period before the Big Mac and Whopper. Both of the chairs were filled with the oversized bottoms of her adult grandchildren.

The two stared ahead with matching dead eyes at a tv screen of static. It was completely without interest that they watched me follow their granny to the kitchen table to get help paying for medications. The movement only briefly caught their attention before they returned to watching their “show”.

“Notmygranny” and I spoke to a nice man named Oliver with the medication program only after we applied three times online for help. As it turned out, “Notmygranny” forgot her social security number and once she remembered that, she forgot her birthday. I began to wonder if we should involve her family in completing the application.

Then I remembered TweedleDee and TweedleDum in the next room so clearly unconcerned with the situation, and we continued with our work.

Once we finished up, I bid everyone in the household farewell and the Dud twins wordlessly raised their hands in a show of solidarity. I sped off in the wrong direction and found myself quickly lost on Oliver Street, of all the places to be lost in the entire world after meeting with a lady who was not my granny and talking to a man named Oliver.

After a full day of wrong turns and seemingly wasted time, I realized something and stopped rushing.

I was exactly where I needed to be.
Lost on Oliver Street.

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