Confessions of a People Watcher

Hi, my name is Brandi and I’m a people watcher.

I’m not always good at engaging with people I know but I love to sit back and watch strangers. Festivals and other public events are especially ripe for observing other humans in action and the hot air balloon festival I attended this summer didn’t disappoint.

Here are a few random observations from this day.

Few people bother to carry around cameras these days but those who do always have nice cameras and are pretty intense about what they’re doing. I rely on my phone for walking around pictures and sometimes for photos when there’s weird light because my technique isn’t so great. Taking out my dslr is a real treat. Check out this fellow working with his camera!

Marysville Hot Air Ballon Festival 2019 (337)

Modern fashion often leaves ladies with interesting tan lines. Strappy tops, keyholes and cold shoulder tops probably shouldn’t be worn in harsh sun unless you’re hoping for interesting patterns on your skin. I saw this girl later and she was starting to burn so she probably ending up with a criss crossy tan!

But if she’s happy, I’m happy! And it wasn’t just her. I saw several women with a similar top. Maybe I’m just behind in the times and it’s a thing! I may need one of my younger, cooler friends to weigh in on this matter.

Marysville Hot Air Ballon Festival 2019 (1)

Men are taking a much more hands on approach to parenting than ever before. I’ve been noticing more and more men taking responsibility for feeding and taking care of their kids, even when mom is close by.

At this event, there were a ton of men who appeared to be alone with their kids – whether they’re single dads or just taking their kids out for the day, I couldn’t tell you but it was refreshing to see. It’s especially nice to see guys wiping a wee child’s dirty hands without looking to his wife for help. Nice job fellas!!

Marysville Hot Air Ballon Festival 2019 (212).JPG

On a related note, that last photo illustrates part of the reason why I love being in and near cities. Coming from a rural area, almost everyone looks like me. Pale. We’re pale. And it feels like the bulk of the people here all think alike, worship the same and well, you get the idea.

Get closer to one of Ohio’s cities (or even just go to a college town like nearby Athens) and you’ll find people of all nationalities. You hear lots of accents and languages and see different styles of dress. This makes my heart happy and it was thrilling to find so much diversity at this event. 

Marysville Hot Air Ballon Festival 2019 (356).JPG

People are way too wrapped up in their technology and other distractions. We already know this but I was surprised how many people were talking, texting and taking selfies – too distracted to notice the hot air balloons. The balloons were available for viewing for about a minute after we had all waited for hours to see them so I hate to think about how many folks missed the excitement.

It’s like we’re so hypnotized by the little machines in our pockets that we’ve completely lost interest in what’s actually happening in real life and all around us.

Note: in the picture above – I don’t think there was a balloon in their background. Just a picture of a cute couple.

Marysville Hot Air Ballon Festival 2019 (159)Finally, these little girls appeared to be strangers but that didn’t stop them from dancing and having a good time together. Kids know. They know that it’s a good idea to be nice to others – even if they’re not exactly like us!

People watching is the best. Are you a people watcher? What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen lately? I love a good story!

Lessons From Crazy Horse

Living near a college town has its advantages. One is that there’s usually a concert, lecture or some other event going on. Last week, the university’s Multicultural Center hosted author William Matson and Crazy Horse Family Elder Floyd Clown Sr. for a 90 minute talk.

They were here to discuss and sign their book “Crazy Horse: The Lakota Warrior’s Life and Legacy” which is based on the family’s oral history.

I learned so much from this talk that I don’t even know where to begin.

Mr. Clown spoke a lot about truth, honor and respect. He spoke of the assassination of Crazy Horse and how Crazy Horse had a vision that showed his death fifteen months before it occurred. He spoke of how his family lived in fear and actually kept their connection to the Lakota warrior secret for 124 years.

Grandfather is a term of reverence for an elder male family member. He talked about how his grandfather led by example and encouraged all to do the same by treating others with respect and by walking gently on this earth. In other words, he treated the earth and other people with kindness and honesty.

He also said that all are equal under the eyes of their creator. There is no skin color- just a red heart.

What a beautiful way to express an idea that so many struggle to understand or accept.

I now own a signed copy of the book and look forward to reading their stories. This was their 259th talk about this book but it seemed fresh and they kept me engaged for the full ninety minutes. My only regret is that it didn’t last longer.

Pick up the book or go see them if you have a chance.

This Face

Cute boy.JPG

Who could say no to this face? We humans like to say that we rescue animals but sometimes I wonder just who did the rescuing. I gave Scout a place to live and hopefully a good life – but he has repaid me twofold with more companionship and laughter than you can imagine.

If you have a chance to rescue an animal in need, I suggest you do it. You’ll undoubtedly change both your lives forever.

From Whole 30 To Plant Based Eating

We have discussed the Whole 30 way of eating a few times on this blog. It’s a great means to ditch bad eating habits like a sugar addiction and to learn what foods might be causing your health issues.

Unfortunately, Whole 30 doesn’t have a vegetarian plan and instead pushes pescatarian eating. I followed this plan for more than a year, mainly straying off course in restaurants and for special occasions like cake in the lunchroom at work.

But I don’t care that much for seafood and had grown tired of the meal plan. It was time for a change but I wasn’t sure what that change would be.

Ditching the seafood in favor of vegetarian eating sounded favorable but so many vegetarian recipes prominently feature a grain – bread, pasta, rice – along with some kind of cheese and beans.

I hadn’t eaten grains, beans or dairy on any consistent basis since starting the Whole 30. Sure, I would order pizza, a sandwich or pancakes in a restaurant but never brought these things home.

Not even the healthy whole grain stuff.

As I wrestled with food questions, it became increasing clear that my desire to eat vegetarian was at odds with many of the unhealthy recipes the internet provides.

And then I met Dewey, a friend whose health scare caused him to completely overhaul his traditional American diet of basically everything he wanted. Now he eats a plant based diet which also eliminates oils and sugar.

He has cut his cholesterol in half and lost about forty pounds in a season. He now enjoys each day as a new man – energetic and happy.

When I expressed interest in his food habits, he shared the details of his diet – called the Engine 2 plan – and how it has improved his life.

Then he suggested I try it for thirty days.

I said yes because you can do anything for thirty days, right?

As the thirty day marker approaches, I am quite happy with this way of eating. I feel energetic, my skin looks better and I feel better most days.

Honestly, I’m still figuring out what works and what I like, experimenting with new recipes and trying to determine what is right for me.

I don’t expect to have such stunning results as Dewey has enjoyed. For one thing, going from eating mostly seafood and produce to including grains and beans seems like it will make weight loss a little harder.

But I love that I feel clear of mind and have lots of energy. Plus, I’m hopeful that my cholesterol will be a little lower at my next doctor visit.

The biggest challenge to date has been restaurant eating. There’s a road trip on the horizon this fall and restaurants in the towns where I’ll be have limited plant based options. If they have a meatless option, it’s typically grilled cheese or maybe some kind of heavy pasta or a sad little salad.

Restaurant green beans are often cooked with pork in them, giving even the sides section of a menu the feel of a mine field. And I refuse to live off the sad little iceberg lettuce salads that so many places try to pass off as a meal.

There are some fast food options. For example, the Burger King Impossible Whopper is tasty but it’s still heavily processed fast food that should be a treat rather than a dietary staple. Qdoba caters to vegans but I assume they use oils in their cooking. Yet cooking oil on vegetables sounds like a lesser evil than greasy grilled cheese someplace else. Subway preserves their vegetables to the point they taste like plastic so that’s not a viable option either.

The good news is that I’m clearly committed because I’m already considering how to make it work and how much I’m willing to bend on vacation.

Since I’ll be in one hotel for a few days, taking a blender would allow for breakfast smoothies in the room.

I’m thinking there will be pancakes for dinner one night – a comfort food and a luxury at dinner time if there ever was one. That’s a single meal with pancakes made from white flour, eggs and milk with highly processed syrup instead of the pure stuff from home.

What other concessions am I willing to make on vacation? These are not game time decisions because I promise you, I will make the wrong choice when I’m hungry and the pressure is on.

Every. Single. Time.

I don’t want to be so strict that eating becomes a hassle but I do want to find hacks and means for nourishing my body without sacrificing my goals.

That’s not asking too much, right?

Pets, Travel and Separation Anxiety

Scout is about seven months old now and seems comfortable in his role as King of the House. When I planned my summer vacation and arranged for Scout’s care, I thought he would struggle but it never occurred to me that he would be crippled by my absence.

But that’s exactly what happened.

I arranged for my aunt to stay with him for a few days and for my mother to take care of him the remainder of the time. Despite having company and care, Scout was terrified and acted out.

Actually, he was just mean. Viciously mean, in a way that only a terrified pet can be.

When I found Scout, he was about ten weeks old and living on the street. A tiny tyke, he weighed two pounds and had terrible food insecurity issues but was an absolute doll.

Almost immediately, I became his human. He’s nice to other people and happy to play but he’s very quick to come back to me and is even a bit clingy at times. He seems to remember being on his own and to understand that I was his rescuer; he rewards me every day with affection and gratitude.

However, he still gets mad when he’s hungry, scared or feeling somehow insecure so I was apprehensive about leaving.

Turns out I had good reason to be and I feel terrible for the pain he experienced that week and for how mean he was to my family.

Poor little guy. He just missed his mom and didn’t understand.

When I came home he was thrilled to see me, purring and sweet for about ninety seconds. Then he remembered himself and became angry. Another week passed, alternating between being angry and ignoring me before life returned to normal.

I stayed at a friend’s house Monday night and Scout came through like a champ with me being gone for just an overnight. So I’m hopeful that he has figured out that I’ll come home when I leave.

Is it possible future vacations won’t be so scary for him?

Want to read more about Scout? Here’s the story of how I found him and a more recent story about his temperament.