Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Puppy Parties, Puppets, Pupils and Susie Reimer

So much news. So little time.

naamloosThe latest party animal idea – puppy parties. And this isn’t just an idea for the kid who has done everything. Adults can cuddle just as well.

Forget the bouncy house, pool party and cosmic bowling. Think lovable little puppies who are willing to give love for treats. This a therapy session for the most jaded kid or overindulged adult. The worst that can happen is a little piddle on your lap. The best thing that can happen is a lifetime soulmate you take home.

Party idea solved.

It’s time again for the national puppetry festival, where you can learn what it takes to become Big Bird.

Puppeteers are ridiculed, but they are true merchants of mirth. To project an alternative personality through string to a chunk of sculpted wood takes something special – humble chutzpah.

I am surrounded by puppet vilifiers, but I am attracted to those blockheads and styrofoam monsters. How can you hate Mister Moose, Lamb Chop or Elmo? Who wouldn’t be willing to plant a smooch on Kermit?

how-animals-see-the-world-animal-eyesWho would have guessed that the pupils of animal eyes would reveal so much about where an animal falls in the ecological niche? Not me.

Turns out, all eyes aren’t the same. In addition to color, location on the head and size of eyelid, the pupil is a clear marker of where the fits into Darwin’s kingdom. Predators have pupils shaped liked slits that give them a hair-trigger perspective on prey. Prey often has horizontal pupils that give them a panorama view of the world scheming to eat them.

Why do we really care? When we see Jurassic World, we now will expect to see out-of-control dinosuars will the right kind of eyes, not just eyes designed to look menacing.

Susie ReimerThings brings us around to Susie Reimer, who has worked 35 years at a small Southwest Portland diner and has little to show for her effort.

The Oregonian’s George Rede gave us a sensitive portrayal of a woman who isn’t so sure that hard work pays off in the end. Reimer took her divorce settlement at age 27 with two children and bought the Humdinger along Barbour Boulevard. She poured her heart and soul into the diner and turned it into a tidy little business.

But as competition in the fast food space grew and Reimer remained old school, she was lost in a trail of tater tots.

Rede’s touching story evoked questions about whether hard work alone can be trusted to achieve success. Commenters on Rede’s story rebuked Reimer for failing to exercise business sense to modernize, trim her menu and compete. A few saw in her a cautionary tale of the dissipating American Dream.

The weekend, front-page piece left readers with a sense of unease. It also spurred a lot of readers to hop in their cars and drive over to the Humdinger. In a midweek followup, Rede quoted Reimer said he business bumped up 300 percent after the original story appeared. One day, her tips topped $400.

One woman who returned to the Humdinger recalled how as a young girl Reimer pulled her aside and encouraged her to follow a straighter path. The girl followed her advice and told Rede that the girls she was with that day all dropped out of school. Now the woman who as girl Reimer took into arms and gave loving advice plans to help Reimer meet the challenges of advancing age.

Stories like that can compete with a puppy party for pure, unmitigated pleasure.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: