Monday, October 11, 2010

What I Noticed

Barbara:Today is Thanksgiving in Canada, but the thought of writing a post about all the things I’m grateful for—while very worthwhile (I am a huge fan of gratitude, HUGE)—felt kinda, how do I say … uninspiring. As a wholehearted devotee of the emotion, gratitude is something I try to revel in daily, not just over turkey and mashed potatoes.

But as a somewhat beleaguered possessor of an always-churning, usually-racing, problem-solving, conundrum-facing, event-replaying, needless-worrying, very busy mind, I thought I would use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to shut the ol’ blabbermouth of a noggin up and just plain notice stuff. Little stuff. So I took my dog for a walk through the urban residential area where we live and I opened my eyes.

I noticed that on a beautiful warm autumn day a lot of men like to wash their cars. But not one woman seems to.

I noticed that swarms of gnats can suddenly appear out of nowhere and enshroud your head, getting stuck in your eyelashes and down your mouth. I noticed how really gross that is.

I noticed that if several bright red splotches on the ground appear in my peripheral vision, I will immediately and without doubt assume there was some horrible crime for which these splotches of fresh blood are the only remaining evidence. But then on closer look, I noticed that sometimes fallen maple leaves can turn so vividly red, they look exactly like splotches of fresh blood. I also noticed that I can feel quite embarrassed at my ridiculous assumptions even if no one else is privy.

I noticed that a lot of cyclists like to wear the Lycra outfits favoured by Tour de France athletes. I wonder why. I noticed not everyone looks very good in skin-tight Lycra. But then they’re exercising, so good for them.

Down by the lake, I noticed that when swans tip their heads and upper bodies over to troll for food, their white elliptical butts look exactly like elegant vases bobbing on the water.

I noticed that a woman’s perfume can waft across the air from quite a distance, even if it is very delicate. I noticed how much I like the scent of delicate perfume.

I noticed that most people when they pass you will not look at you, but if they do and you smile at them, they will usually (but not always) smile back. One older woman’s face went from dour and angry to the most angelically beautiful smile I’d ever seen. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. I noticed how I didn’t like the people who didn’t smile back.

I noticed the house by the lake that’s been abandoned for the thirteen years we’ve lived here has its garage door open and its years of ruined contents spilling out. Maybe someone will finally fix the place up. I noticed an old pillow by the gate on the grass; it still had its pillowcase on and was spattered with grime and dust. It looked like a nap by the gate had been intended then abandoned many years ago. I noticed that the house still looks like it’s haunted. And maybe the house is haunted because nothing except the pillow and garage have changed in all these years, even though the house is on a beautiful property with a primo spot by the lake.

I noticed that when two young brothers play in the leaves together, even if they are talking about monkeys flying in the sky, they can still have unabashed, unconditional love pouring from their eyes. The kind of unrestrained expression you almost never see pouring from grown-up people’s eyes.

I noticed how good it feels to shut my brain up for a few glorious minutes to notice things. Especially after turkey and mashed potatoes and a serious helping of gratitude.

Have you noticed something interesting today?

Deb: I noticed when I was reading this that my puppy was whining. I noticed my husband’s top lip pushes out when he dresses a turkey and in that moment I took time to notice how much I love him. And not just because he is doing the turkey. I noticed that the pilot light on the fireplace behind my head makes the sound of a tiny roaring fire when not on. Kinda like a fireplace in a mouse’s hole. I noticed that the birds outside who are scavenging the last of the apple berries on our tree all have different personalities, except for the ones that don’t. I noticed that when I hold in my pee while I am completing a task I am really proud of myself, even though someone said it isn’t good to do that. I noticed that when the sun hits our green and white variegated leafed bush just right, it looks like snow. I noticed that my camera charge light is on, which means I can take some pictures at our goddaughter’s birthday today. I noticed that her gift is wrapped but I haven’t yet signed the card. I noticed in the sunlight that the grey jacket I wore today does not match the plaid colours in my new pants. What I thought was a grey stripe, is pale yellow. I further noticed that I don’t care. And I certainly noticed that Thanksgiving ROCKS. Gorgeous warm weather, sunlight, and a smattering of cloud, the leaves giving off glorious colours, the smell of turkey and a beautiful table. And plenty to be thankful for. And thanks to Barb for inspiring me to notice too. I watched the wee Bairn chase a red leaf today on our walk and noticed that I was laughing out loud.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our Canadian and British friends! Gobble Gobble. Or Tofu Tofu!!!

And in a Thanksgiving-inspired homage to “the bird”, here’s a truly amazing bird for us all to admire (you have to watch to the end––it's astounding) (PS thanks, Cheryl, for sharing it with us!)


  1. I noticed that I really enjoyed your observations on this lovely day. For that I am grateful. Happy thanksgiving!

  2. I noticed a beautiful smile too. But for that you need to hop across to my blog!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Okay, just took another walk and noticed a squirrel using a crosswalk to cross a very busy 4-lane street. Don't know how he did it, but the light turned, the cars stopped, squirrel crossed. Unbelievable!!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. I noticed how I have always got so much family and friends around me and I noticed that I am very blessed for that.

    Happy ThanksGiving. It's always a wounderful day.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving ladies!
    I loved the things you noticed today.
    I would have been one of the people smiling back at you, or maybe chasing a leaf.


  6. How amazing is that bird!!

    Also: "I noticed that when I hold in my pee while I am completing a task I am really proud of myself, even though someone said it isn’t good to do that."

    The things I learn on this site!

    Happy Day Off, people.

  7. Thanks everyone as always for the great feedback. Yeah Katrinka, someone said that it is not good and here I thought that holding it was like training in the vein of the kegel. Asked my doctor, she said "not good".

  8. Great post!! I noticed that reading this post made me realize how little I notice all the wonderful things around me. Thanks for giving me a smack in the head!

  9. Lovely post. It's wonderful to be reminded in such detail. It's like a mindfulness meditation. I would have been one of those, along with Hollye, who would have smiled back. Thank you for your observations and this beautiful blog. As a photographer, I always look and try to SEE. Happy Thanksgiving. Cheryl from

  10. Fabulous observations! I love that your imagination is diving to murder with the red leaves! HA! I guess that is the price for a writer's brain, eh?

    That bird was amazing! In Eugene where I went to college there was a 2nd hand store I used to frequent with a Cockatoo and that bird meowed like a cat and made a perfect bell sound like the door to the store. Love the imitators (who have to of course, OBSERVE.)

  11. Since taking up photography a little over 2 years ago, I notice things I never would've before. It's like I got embued with some sort of substandard superpowers that kind of enhanced my eyes but not enough to, you know, save the world, see through David Tennant's clothes, or anything. And, thank goodness, those powers came from a camera and not a radioactive spider.

    Anyway, the most marked change to what I notice is that I've developed a fascination with small pieces of bigger things. Give me a macro over a scenic anyday. There is beauty to be found in things that, on full scale, may seem broken and ugly. I like to photograph small parts of crumbling, old buildings. And, oh my gosh, piles of broken bricks have the BEST texture! My camera is also addicted to old, broken neon signs from businesses that closed decades ago. And, the holy grail for this camera toting history buff is ghost signs --- you know, the old, faded remains of signs painted on the sides of buildings back in the first half of the 20th century? They are my photographic bliss.

    I may see a statue. But, what I'll notice is the lines of how the sculptor carved the knuckles on the fingers of the statue's hands. I'll see a stream, but what I'll notice is the pretty swirling of bubbles in an eddy between stones.

    So, anyway, my eyes have learned to feast on beautiful decay, shadowy remnants of history, textures, and tiny pieces. There's something redemptive about learning to notice small lovelies in the midst of big uglies.

    And, Happy Thanksgiving to all of the Canadians. We in the US get our dessert (Halloween candy) before our meal (Thanksgiving turkey). ;) And, for Canadian Thanksgiving, I will say that I am thankful for Canadians Barabara and Deb.

    And, Barbara, bless your heart, you need to come to the South. Walking by rates a smile, a nod of the head, a small wave, a "Hey", or some such acknowledgement. Otherwise is tacky, and your mama didn't raise you right. ;)

  12. Thanks for the beautiful observations (and Hart's wise one about the writer's imagination).

    Rigel, it's so true about the photographer's eye. My younger daughter teaches me this whenever she takes out her camera.

  13. Hello to all you up there in the Great Frozen North. That Lyre bird video was truly amazing. Thank you for posting it.

  14. Love the bird video. It was so beautiful. It was very amazing to see and hear.

  15. Welcome, Walter! And you're welcome!

  16. This was a treat to read! I noticed that my husband's chest hairs go from almost white at the top of his chest medium gray in the middle to very dark brown on his tummy. It's like that yarn with the gradients of color.

  17. I noticed that we don't have Thanksgiving on my side of the world. Apparently we're not very thankful :-(


  18. Ha! Thanks for the laugh, Elle! And, Lisa -- love the chest-hair/yarn comparison.

  19. I noticed that I forgot to read this blog and wish you ladies happy Thanksgiving yesterday. I also noticed that the air here has just a touch of cool in it that lets me know a front is coming in from the north.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.