At a SNAIL’s pace!

5 May, 2013     At a SNAIL’s pace!

Since I’ve been so slow since my last blog post I thought this would be the perfect picture to start this post. I took it at Pony Pasture earlier this week:

Pony Pasture snail

Pony Pasture snail

If I’d ever thought about taking a picture of a snail before, I’m sure I would have thought hey, how hard can that be? I mean, it’s a snail. They move so slow it’s almost as easy as taking a picture of pavement. But I almost never see an actual live, moving snail, or not in a place with decent light. But there this guy was. Unless he’s a she. In any event, I enjoyed the picture. I hope you do.

I got another picture I enjoyed recently, an image of a green heron. Look at that background – doesn’t it look primitive? Like it’s in some jungle somewhere? Hard to believe that’s inside the city limits of the capital of the twelfth largest state in the country. Pony Pasture, of course:

Green heron at Pony Pasture

Green heron at Pony Pasture

I also got some decent moon pictures since my last post. That was on April 16. So you can see the progression, I’ll post the first one I took, on April 13. All of the pictures were taken at around the same time each night, roughly between 9:30 and 10:00. The first is on the evening of April 13, then 4/16, 4/17, 4/18, 4/21, 4/23 and 4/25. The precise full moon for this April was on Thursday the 25th at 3:58 PM.

4/13 - 12% full

4/13 – 12% full

36% full

4/16 – 36% full

4/17 - 45% full

4/17 – 45% full

4/18 - 55% full

4/18 – 55% full

4/21 - 83% full

4/21 – 83% full

4/23 - 96% full

4/23 – 96% full

4/25 - 100% full

4/25 – 100% full

I’ve had flowers on the last few blog posts. But they’re still so nice. My lilacs still smell and look stunning. If I closed my eyes and stuck my face in one or the other, I don’t know if I’d be able to tell the difference between a white lilac or a purple lilac. They both look and smell heavenly:

Spectacularly fragrant and spectacularly beautiful white lilac

Spectacularly fragrant and spectacularly beautiful white lilac

Equally spectacular purple lilac

Equally spectacular purple lilac

Pictures I found while working on this post – a buddy took this one at PP:

Brown lizard on a log at PP

Brown lizard on a log at PP

These cormorants and turtles were swarming a mid-river rock:

Cormorants and turtles at mid-river

Cormorants and turtles at mid-river

As I’m posting I’m realizing – the lizard, the turtles, the cormorants – all taken on the day that full moon was rising. I took this picture the same day:

All that bug could see was purple

All that bug could see was purple

Well, this post is already far too large. But I haven’t put up pictures of Mackey and Turner lately. Most pictures with them are at the river. Here are two en route:

Dog is my copilot #1: Mackey

Dog is my copilot #1: Mackey

Dog is my copilot #2: Turner

Dog is my copilot #2: Turner

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I’m always gratified to see the effect of music on the people I spend time with. The first person I ever began to work with around twenty years ago had a slight developmental delay that caused him to struggle with some challenges at work. He fell into a depression and his family asked me to spend some time with him. One of the things we did together was go to a music therapist his family knew. I just looked at my notes from spending time with him in 1994. Hard to believe that was nineteen years ago. We were in the living room at this woman’s house, the music therapist, and the two of them sat on the bench at the piano:

“Jesus loves me

This I know

For the Bible

Tells me so

God is so good

God is so good

God is so good

Is so good to me”

His depression gradually resolved. We hung out for years and years. We don’t get together regularly but I just spoke with him last week. He’s doing great.

Soon I was spending time with a buddy with CP. He can’t walk or talk. But he loved to ride in his van and listen to music and kiss every girl he saw. Teachers, therapists, doctors, nurses, toll booth attendants, they were all the same to him. The song Kiss by (the artist known at that time as) “Prince” came on the radio and my buddy with CP would sit there in his wheelchair kissing along with enthusiasm. I’ll put a link to a video of it here; listen quick if you want to hear it – Prince doesn’t leave videos on the web long: Kiss. If the video’s gone by the time you click that link, or if you just want to see the wikipedia take on it, look here: Kiss. I spent a few days each week with that guy from 1995 until 2009 when he moved to NC. He was in Richmond visiting a week ago and we got to hang out a couple of times. If anything he’s become more charming. He was fifteen when I first met him and he’s thirty-four now. I know a lot of people but I don’t know any with as many girlfriends as he has.

That guy has a hard time talking but he can say “Hi!” very clearly and cheerfully. There was a song by Tone Loc called Funky Cold Medina and in one verse the singer meets a girl (he thinks she’s a girl) who says “Hi, my name is Sheena.” Every time we’d hear that song and she’s say “Hi” my buddy would say “Hi!” as if she was standing right there.

In 2000 I began spending time with a person with autism. We’ve been together ever since. He doesn’t talk but he also loves music. He likes things to be predictable and he is particularly fond of Paul Simon. We listen to the album  Negotiations and Love Songs every week. Fortunately I’m fond of it too – I now know every track by heart.

I met another guy with autism a few years later and spent a lot of time with him. His name was Lou and he was a huge James Taylor fan. That may not be completely accurate; he’s a huge fan of the James Taylor song How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You. We’d listen to that song over and over again. I started singing very loudly “How sweet it is to be loved by LOU!!!” whenever it was on. Which it always was. He was in elementary school and I’d pick him up after school once each week. As soon as he’d get in the car he wouldn’t say hello – he’d shout “How sweet it is to be loved by LOU!!!” My signal to start the music.

I worked with a girl for a few years who had an unusual variant of autism. She was chatty and friendly and could say hello in every language I ever heard. If she didn’t know how, she’d ask the person. She was fascinated with dogs but barking caused her a great deal of anxiety. There’s a song called Been Caught Stealing by Jane’s Addiction and at the beginning you can hear dogs barking – presumably chasing thieves. She wanted to hear the barking part over and over and over again. Since it was contained and she could turn it up or down or off and control the condition – which you can’t with a dog.

I’ve got another buddy with autism. We’ve been hanging out regularly for several years. He can’t tell you this in these words, but he understands that, through youtube, my iphone can play every song ever sung. So we’ll be driving along very quietly and he’ll suddenly say (to cite one example) “Jay, do you have ‘Mike and the Mechanics’?” Or whatever comes into his head that day. The song he wants to hear when he’s talking about Mike and the Mechanics is In The Living Years. Insert any artist. He’s very fond of the theme song from Mister Rogers Neighborhood and likes to say “Hi neighbor!” at the end. Earlier in this post I mentioned another buddy enjoying a song by Prince. Last week I was eating lunch at Martins with this guy who loves music so much. 1999 by Prince came on while we were eating. He immediately said “Prince is a MAN!” I’ve jotted down a selection of his favorites over the years. I have no idea where he comes up with this stuff. Check out his playlist –

Mike and the Mechanics – In the Living Years

T Rex – Bang a Gong

The Chiffons – He’s So Fine

The Band – The Weight

Men Without Hats – Safety Dance

Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walking

Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall

Captain and Tennille – Love Will Keep Us Together

Electric Light Orchestra – Hold On Tight

Huey Lewis – Do You Believe in Love?

Carl Douglas – Kung Fu Fighting

Johnny Rivers – Secret Agent Man

John Cougar Mellencamp – Hurts So Good

Phil Collins – Susudio

Don Henley – Dirty Laundry

Jerry Lee Lewis – Great Balls of Fire

Robbin Thompson – Sweet Virginia Breeze

I spend time with another guy who is pretty anxious. He likes to listen to REM so he has his own playlist. It helps him stay calm. I think that’s what I like about music too.

All best,


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About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Dogs, Flowers, Fun, People, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!). Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to At a SNAIL’s pace!

  1. Jenny says:

    Great post, Jay. I really enjoyed the green heron, as well as some of the music, including Kiss.

    • Hi Jenny! Glad you enjoyed the post. I got lucky on the green heron shot but I too was pleased with the way it turned out. The music was really fun. Jeff should do some research! It has an across-the-board positive effect, with every group I spend time with. The Kiss/Prince experience was particularly fun and memorable. Thanks for the note and have a great day,


  2. Barbara Mann says:

    Enjoyed your blog so much– great pics and varieties of delightful stories! Showed your photoes to my sister, who is vice-president of the Camera Club of Richmond. Impressed!!! She wanted me to send you the website for the club just in case you are interested in the lectures, workshops, field trips and professional evaluations. Members of the club range from camera newbies up to professionals. Dues are very low too! Go to

    FYI– am making great progress in recovering from brian tujmor surgery and gamma knife radiation. Am currently staying for the week in Hatteras with my sister and brother in-law soaking in the healing sights and sounds of the ocean!

    More to come….

    Barbara/aka Butterfly McPeace

    • Hi Barbara/aka Butterfly McPeace!
      I’m glad you enjoyed the blog and the pictures and the stories! And thanks for showing them to your sister – I’m glad she liked them too. I’ll look over the camera club info – it sounds promising.

      Glad to hear your recovery is progressing well. Hatteras is a great place to relax! Maybe when you get back, if you’re up to it, we could both go over and visit our buddy across the river. Could you stand riding in the car with Mackey and Turner?

      Anyway, enjoy your time at the ocean and I’ll talk with you soon,


  3. Clare T says:

    Music! What a miracle drug! 🙂 when my youngest daughter was very small, she had trouble spelling her name – so I made up a song to sing, which included spelling her name – and bingo! it worked 🙂

    thank you as always for your fantastic service work to mankind. and for stimulating our eyes with such amazing photographs.

    got a new pup – smaller than i’m used to – but he was just sitting there…….right now he’s terrorizing the cats and demanding constant attention – so we shall see……going to try to take him & zoe to his first Pony Pasture experience in the a.m.


  4. Pingback: PP Fauna | NEWFAZE

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