Eavesdropping and “money problems” – a true story

28 April, 2019           Eavesdropping and “money problems” – a true story

I woke up for work before dawn Wednesday, thinking I had “money problems.” I fixed my oatmeal and read an article in the New York Times called Letter of Recommendation: Eavesdropping by a woman named Jeanie Riess. I’ll return to that at the bottom of this post.  

I’d seen a white squirrel or two when I was younger, and we used to see lots of black squirrels too. This is a white squirrel. But it’s not an albino. Much more common is a “white morph” of a gray squirrel. The “morph” in the name is the same morph as in “metamorphosis.” Here’s the one I’ve seen twice this week at Deep Run Park in western Henrico County, VA:

White morph gray squirrel (not an albino)

While I’m posting spectacular images, check out the first rose Evelyn coaxed into bloom in 2019. I took this picture with my phone (!) Thursday (4/24) morning. All I can say is I’m speechless:  

Blaze rose blooming beside our garage this week:

I got pictures of snakes again this week, but it’s the same old northern water snakes on the same old pieces of granite at Deep Run. They’re cool – they’re always cool – but I got a different reptile in better light, and it doesn’t make people cringe as much as snakes do. Check out this five-lined skink I saw Friday:

Mature five-lined skink:

That one is an adult. There were juvenile skinks running around – I am not making that up – and hanging out in the sun. Check out these two:

Two juvenile five-lined skinks, identifiable as juvenile by their blue tails

The Virginia Herpetological Society says this about the youngsters:

The blue tail of juveniles is an antipredator adaptation that serves to attract the predator away from the vulnerable part of the lizard, its body. Juveniles escape potential predators by disappearing into the leaf litter, lashing their tails back and forth above the leaves. The blue tail, contrasting with the brown background, attracts predators (birds and small, lizard-eating snakes) to the less vulnerable appendage. Once broken off, the tail twitches for a period of time, distracting the potential predator further. This increases the probability that a juvenile will survive to maturity. At onset of sexual maturity the tail color changes from blue to a cryptic gray-brown. This change occurs at a time when energy requirements for tail regeneration are also important to the growth and reproductive output of the adult (Vitt and Cooper, 1986c). Tail loss at this time decreases a female’s ability to produce and brood eggs and a male’s ability to win aggressive bouts with other males (and presumably to reproduce with the females in his area).

Always something new to learn.

Speaking of flowers – like the rose posted above – which I still have trouble looking away from. Evelyn guessed and our rose aficionado friend Marion confirmed (btw) that was a “Blaze” rose. Speaking of learning something new. So I googled it – while I was typing this blog post – and learned a Blaze rose is a “Rambler Rose.” According to Wikipedia. The same source goes on to say – again, I’m learning this as I type it – that “’Rambler Roses’, although technically a separate class, are often included in Climbing Roses.” There is, as I’m certain you can imagine, much more to it, but Sundays only last twenty-four hours, so I’ll let it go at that.

I digressed. I’m sure that comes as a shock. Evelyn also had a new dogwood planted in our backyard last year – right next to our redbud – and it’s blooming enthusiastically. In fact I’m a few days past “peak bloom” but I stepped away from my computer after the last paragraph and went out in the  backyard and took this picture of our new dogwood:

Graceful new dogwood in our backyard:

I photographed this azalea without even going outdoors. I opened the window and the screen and leaned out and took this picture:

I just opened the window and leaned out and took this picture:

This one is in the backyard – I actually had to open the door and walk outside to take this picture:

Outdoor azalea – got a little more exercise:

Anyway, I enjoyed writing the story I wrote for the end of the blog post this week. It helped me maintain my equilibrium. Have a great week, come back next week, all best,


Oops – late to this blog post – I had Mackey and Turner and Yuki at the river this morning. This northeastern tip of the park is ~1/2 way on our hike and we like to take a short break there:

Taking a break at the halfway mark

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Eavesdropping and “money problems” – a true story

I’d just gotten an estimate for a car repair that was four times higher than I’d budgeted. I was walking through the Y toward the pool whining – in my head, to myself – about my money problems when I walked past two members having a conversation. In the random second in eternity that I was walking past these two strangers, one was telling the other “she was putting flowers on her son’s grave.” Like an eighth of a second later I turned left into the locker room.

“If you have a problem and you can solve it with money, you don’t really have a problem.” That’s an expression I heard decades ago and after doing pet therapy  with children who died, I know it’s not trite – it is as legitimate an expression as any I’ll ever hear. But I’m human and although I don’t need to be reminded, sometimes I  forget how true it is.

The article I’d read over breakfast that morning – Eavesdropping – mentioned overhearing things not intended for your ears. But when we speak aloud in public, we are – by definition – not private. In her article, Ms. Riess wrote “Being too much in your own body can make you obsessive about your own problems, causing you to lose the ability to understand the scale of your own life compared with the lives of others.” I wasn’t “eavesdropping” – but I overheard a conversation not intended for me. And it made me remember the scale of my own life was the cost of repairing my car. Against the cost of a person putting flowers on their child’s grave.  

This week, I hope your worst problems are the kind you can solve with money.

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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 Birds, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, love, People, Pony Pasture, Rivers, roses, simplify, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Eavesdropping and “money problems” – a true story

  1. pam waaland says:

    Awesome post

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