Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Suspicious Minds

Yesterday I drove to a new park in town to hide some of my painted rocks.  It's a small park, and there was a man on a bicycle going in circles staring intently at me.  I went for a walk and looked for places to hide my rocks, and planned to hide them as soon as the nosy man on the bicycle left.  But he wouldn't leave.  He was like a dog circling me trying to sniff my butt.

Then a police cruiser drove past me very slowly while the cop checked me out.  Huh?  It is a public park and I am just taking a walk.  Maybe I was emitting suspicious vibes?  Right after that, a park ranger cruised past me really slowly too.  I stopped to read this ridiculously long list of park rules, and realized that the city is super paranoid about anyone messing with their park.  They probably should have just made it a private park and charged admission.  Next thing I knew, the guy on the bicycle was riding right past me, and looking past me like I didn't exist after all that staring he did.  I said, "Hello!" and he looked at me surprised and greeted me in his wake.  Apparently, being spoken to put him over the top, so he left the park.

Finally!  I could hide my rocks.  I found a spot, pulled a rock out of my pocket, and bent over to hide it.  I moved to another location nearby, and did the same thing.  I began walking away from my hiding spots and ran right into that park ranger on foot.  He had found my behavior to be suspicious enough that he pulled over, got out of his truck, and was watching me.  I greeted him in a friendly manner and said, "Nice park you've got here.  I'm getting to know it."

He said, "Good," and then looked down at the bulge of my pocket where I had other rocks hiding.  Busted.  He didn't say anything, but I worried that he thought I was taking rocks out of the park.  They had some beautiful polished rocks by the entrance, which is right where I bent over to hide one of my painted rocks.  Then I saw the ranger pick up a large rock and move it to a different location.  I thought, "Oh crap, this guy is super persnickety about where everything goes.  He's probably going to find my rocks and throw them in the trash."

I thought the leader of our rock group had gotten permission to use the parks for rock hunting from those who manage the parks.  At least, she gave me that impression by talking about the maintenance people by using their first names.  At any rate, it was time to move on to a different park since I was being stalked by a park ranger at this one.

Things were going well at the second park until this man and woman pushing a stroller showed up.  Previously, no one was there other than the maintenance crew, and I could hide rocks and find rocks to my heart's content without being eyed with suspicion.  I knew the maintenance crew here was in on the rock game, so they knew exactly what I was doing, and they didn't care.

I had planned to start looking in the vegetable garden next, and these two people with the stroller made a bee-line for the vegetable garden.  They had a bag and were pulling things out of it or putting things in it, and they looked like rock hunters.  I didn't want them to find all the rocks hidden in the garden before me, because I rarely have the opportunity to find other people's creations. I started at the opposite end of the garden searching for rocks, thinking maybe at least I'd get to find rocks in half the garden before these other people scooped them all up and ruined my fun.

I heard the woman say, "Why does SHE have to be here?"

Then the man said, "I don't know.  Monkey see, monkey do."

I looked up and he walked right up to me and said hi.  I said hi, and went back to what I was doing, and I swear to God, this man whipped out his cell phone and followed me around holding his cell phone up like he was filming me.  I realized that he was trying to creep me out so that I would go away and he and the woman could have the garden to themselves.  Technically, he was doing what I do to trespassers on my property, only in a more aggressive form and out in public.  I ignored him and continued looking.  The woman headed off to the parking lot.  The man stayed with me.  That was seriously weird, so I decided painted rocks were not worth having this huge man looming over me filming me with who knows what kind of intentions.

I began heading back to my truck, and he followed me.  I could hear his footsteps right behind me.  It was ridiculous.  We had this huge park, and he was right on my heels.  I was in pain and limping slowly, and he wouldn't go around me.  Just when I was about to turn around and say, "May I help you?", I heard his footsteps head off in the direction the women went.  My peace had been shattered, so I left to hide the rest of my rocks and look for other people's rocks in a third park.

Before I could even get out of my truck, a creeper van came along.  I willed it to keep moving, and it did.  It went to a different parking lot.  That was a good thing, because creeper vans and I don't mix.  I would have immediately left if the driver parked in my lot.  When I was in college, I was chased by a man in a ski mask who jumped out of the back of a cargo van and tried to grab me.  Those kind of memories are cell deep.  You never forget them.

I had lost my enthusiasm for taking a stroll in the park at that point, so I just started throwing my rocks under bushes along the walkway, and quickly circled back to my truck.  Before I could even get home to post pictures of the rocks I hid, some lady had already found all the rocks I planted at the second park I went to.  I asked if she was the lady with the stroller, because if she was, I was planning on saying something about me wanting to hide more rocks, but not being given the space and privacy to do so.  It turned out that the lady who found my rocks was not the lady with the stroller, but was an employee at a building next to the park.  She said she always looks for rocks on her breaks.  Since the building was all windows, I also wondered if she had been watching me hide them from her office window and knew exactly where they were.  I can't stand cheaters.

I waited to see if the lady with the stroller was going to post about rocks she hid or found, but there was nothing.  I hit me that she was probably stealing ripe vegetables out of the garden and sticking them in her bag.  That's why the man with her was so aggressive about chasing  me off.

I posted a picture of the one rock I did find, and said that I was challenging myself to find at least one rock painted by each active artist in our group.  One lady told me that she was hiding her rocks at the second park I went to, and if I hurry, I'd be able to add her to my list.  I really didn't want to go back out there, but I'd been looking for this lady's rocks for weeks without any luck, so I had to grab the opportunity.

When I returned to the park, there was an employee from the building taking a walk, and she did seem to be looking for the same rocks that I was looking for, so I searched as fast as I could and found four rocks by this particular artist.  I took pictures of them, and then kept one and re-hid the other three for her or someone else to find.  Then I headed to the local dollar store to buy bags of smooth round river rocks for me to paint.

This male store employee kept following me around like he was expecting me to shoplift.  He finally interrupted my train of thought by asking what I was looking for after trailing me through half the store.  I knew this would come back to bite me in the butt, but I told him I was looking for a bag of rocks.  The guy looked at me funny.  He started to shake his head to tell me that they don't carry something like that, which I knew was wrong because someone had told me that they just bought bags of rocks to paint at this store.  A light bulb went off in his eyes, and he led me up an aisle to the transparent colored decorative rocks that you would put in a fake flower or plant planter or a fish aquarium.  He handed me a bag, which I refused to take from him.  I said, "No, that's not what I'm looking for.  I need actual rocks that are much larger."

He shook his head and said, "We don't have that."

As he walked off, I saw exactly what I needed right next to where he had been looking, but I hadn't seen it because he was blocking my view.  As I was reaching for it, he whipped around and saw it at the same time, and grabbed a bag to hand to me.  I was annoyed, because I wanted to select the bags with the biggest rocks.  I didn't want him picking out which rocks I was going to buy.  Right then, something else started to fall off the shelf, and he dropped the bag of rocks into my hands in order to catch what was falling, only he missed my hands and the rocks fell to the floor and actually shattered.  Oh my God.  I just wanted this man to go away and let me take care of myself.

I told him I was fine shopping without him, so he left, only to buzz up to me 30 seconds later, stand over my shoulder, leave, and then return with a shopping basket for me.  I thanked him, but made it clear with the look I gave him that I needed some space.  He finally got it and left me alone.  I'm seriously considering making myself a T-shirt that says, "I have bad B.O.  Keep your distance."

I enjoy painting rocks, but this whole process of hiding and finding them is getting to be a drag thanks to the suspicions of people around me.  One time I had some nosy people call security on me when I was looking for a geocache in the parking lot of the zoo.  I've lost count of how many times I've been looking for painted rocks or geocaches only to have someone drive right up to me, park, and stare at me from the driver's seat of their car.  After a while, I get tired of having to abort my missions because of nosy people interfering.

I might just paint the rocks and then deliver them to someone else in the group to hide for me, and then I'll stick to getting my exercise out in the desert away from civilization.  The snakes and coyotes can watch me all they want, and it won't bother me.  I don't hide rocks along the bridle paths and hiking trails because I suspect that people who go out there are like me in that they love nature and want to be alone.  Seeing a rock that someone painted would probably bother them, which is why I stick to city parks when it comes to hiding my rocks.  There, the rocks are viewed more as treasures.

Our temps never reached 100, and yesterday was actually a pretty nice day.  I kind of ruined it for myself, though, because I keep forgetting to take my anti-inflammatory medication, which messes me up for several days.  In order for its effects to stay active, I have to take it every 12 hours.  If I'm so much as an hour late in taking one pill, I will be in pain for the next two days.  I forgot to take two pills in a row, and the pain kept me up all night.  It takes a while to be able to walk steady again after a flare-up, so I've been practicing walking while hiding and finding rocks.  I operate by the knowledge that a body at rest stays at rest, while a body in motion stays in motion.  Once I can walk without too much pain, then I can start riding horses again without the fear of not being able to dismount.

The seller of the house next door got fed up with the buyer's endless demands and told him to take a walk.  The sale of that house has been on again off again so many times this month.  The buyers and sellers are like oil and water.  Since the house is still on the market, I told the sellers I'd help them out by doing small tasks like closing gates and turning off lights, but I wasn't going to do any physical labor nor handle their home maintenance appointments.  We'll see how that goes.  They have recently respected my boundaries when I've said I won't do anything at all for them, which makes me more willing to help them out.  Previously, they were treating me like I was their full-time employee and they owned me, so this time I will not accept any money from them.  I want to help them, but I also want to be in control of my own schedule, and I don't want to do anything that will exacerbate my inflammation problems.  Previously, I kept losing horseback riding time to recover from things like climbing around on their roof, sweeping and oiling their floors, and lifting heavy metal statues.  I need to be well when the weather is nice, so that I can ride my horses.

While I was working in the barn this morning, there was a mama round-tailed ground squirrel running around with two babies, teaching them how to steal grain that falls from the horses' mouths.  It was so cute.  I went back in my house to fetch the camera, and they suddenly became aware of me and started avoiding me.  It was difficult to get good pictures.  I knew how they felt after having that guy following me around with his camera yesterday.  Anyway, it was interesting watching the mother roll her babies up into balls and trying to carry them off in her mouth.  She couldn't carry them very far, because they are getting too big for that.

Skinny baby

Fat mama

Mama carrying baby

Mama dropping baby


TeresaA said...

I'm not sure I understand about the painted rocks but you must look shifty 😉

Brenda Lacy said...

Great photos! The little ground squirrels are so cute.

Brenda (same as tctr45 but google messed up my account and my blog life in the desert is inaccessible now)

Linda said...

Wow, it's so difficult to hide rocks in your area. I am also cautious of creepy vans. It seems like I'm always running into them, too. Giving them to someone else to hide sounds like a good plan.

Hope you're back in the saddle soon.

Crystal said...

Sometimes people are such a nuisance, I don't understand them at all

Camryn said...

Love the pix. They do the rocks around here as well. I've never gotten into it, though Lincoln would be thrilled if we did.

Cheryl Ann said...

What kind of rocks do you hide? Do you paint them? Do you Mod Podge them? That sounds like fun, but I can understand your frustration!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Cheryl Ann - I hide smooth rocks or rocks with interesting shapes that are usually bought. I don't take rocks off land that doesn't belong to me. Yes, I paint them and use Mod Podge to put labels on them, and then seal them.