Time to Play

Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota

  • Play is repeated, incompletely functional behavior differing from more serious versions structurally, contextually, or ontogenetically, and initiated voluntarily when the animal is in a relaxed or low stress setting. VanFleet, et al., 2010 p. 7

It has been a discouraging winter here, especially for State employees, what with the oil bust, lowered revenue, and budget cuts. My next door neighbor in the office is an extremely funny woman and we manage to lighten the atmosphere when we can.  We have fun playfully harassing the construction workers who have been our companions for three months. My coworker is pretty impulsive, and I have stopped her just in the nick of time from putting her footprint in wet cement patches the construction guys had put down to plug some holes in the floor. I also convinced her to not draw hearts and smarmy messages on the foreman’s truck windows in red lipstick, after he let us know his wife was a really jealous type. Everyone else at work has been sort of gloomy, until this week.


Throughout the year, the five floors of our agency take turns having fundraisers in aid of the Agency Social Committee.The money helps pay for our annual Christmas party as well as funeral flowers for deceased  relatives. This week, 2nd floor staff raised money (I guess extorting would be a better word) by raiding offices and filling them with a flock of five foot tall, inflatable flamingos. You have to pay $5.00 to have them removed. You can recommend others to get “flocked” once you have been flocked. I had to ride in the elevator a couple of times this week with a flamingo remover, four fully inflated flamingos, and a couple of child clients who believe that our agency is a pretty magical place.

I observe play most days in my work as a play therapist, and much of the time it is pretty grim business. I know it is therapeutic for children to run over abusive parental doll figures with the toy police cars,  but I am exposed to this stuff all the time and it can be dispiriting  to watch on a daily basis.  It was gratifying to see my coworkers start to get out of the doldrums and really play with the flamingos. We know there is only so much levity you can display at an agency that provides addiction and mental health services, but the clients seem to enjoy seeing the flamingos get moved around. By Wednesday my coworkers were giving the flock costumes. My office neighbor and I gave one a head scarf and reading glasses and named her Lena. Another one was dressed in surgical masks and christened “Dr. Who”. Yet another was dressed up like a Ninja Turtle, the purple one whose name I forget.

Play is observable all around us. My terrier is always ready to play, even if it is not the way I would want her to play, as you can see from the photo. How fun! She steals a roll of toilet paper and then mom chases her all over the house!  A flock of crows in the neighborhood starts playing at 5:30 am, chasing and careening and cawing. It serves some purpose, like all play does. I just wish they were quieter. 5th floor denizens at my workplace were giggling over their fundraiser for next month. I wonder how they can top the flamingos. I hope it allows for continued play.


What can top a flamingo?

33 thoughts on “Time to Play”

  1. “Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful flamingo flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he is carrying a beautiful red rose in his beak, and also he is carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you’re very drunk.” Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy

    Liked by 5 people

  2. fake dog poop always tops flamingos. how you incorporate that into a fundraising campaign is going to be interesting. are lunches delivered in or do you go out for the most part appearance and circumstance are key.

    pooper scoopers may be vital

    Liked by 1 person

  3. i have bee a lawn and garden guy for many years and the trade shows we used to do with the hardware stores setting up booths in the way needed to take orders form 1000 hardware store owners was a kick. the pink flamingo stand never ceased to amaze me. everyong bought pink flamingo’s everyone. you could try tastefiul stuff, healthy stuff, expensive stuff cheap stuff but the flamingos always did a bunchbunch bunch of business. pnnguins not really blessed virgin mary nope francis not even close. lawn gnomes had their year but flamingos forever… and dog poop

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I will look forward to learning about some good tricks today. The best one I can think of is a trick my Uncle Horace played on people when he was young. He glued a coin to the surface under a board walk where it could be seen through the gaps in the boards. After he glued down the coin he hide nearby to see what would happen when attempts were made to pick up the coin.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One of our family Christmas celebrations occurred at a time many youngsters fell in that toddler slot of four to seven years. One adult–and I forget which one–gave all of the youngsters the same gift: fart cushions. The kids were astonished and delighted to learn they could make adults laugh by making naughty noises. We always had fun at Christmas, but that was the celebration where adults laughed so much it hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Husband’s family had a history of gag gifts, and it was way more fun than the “real” ones. There were a couple of framed pictures (cut out magazine ads) that made the rounds year after year – one was a sheep baring its teeth like a rabid dog.


  6. Our dog is 14 and will be playing and stealing things until the day she dies. Son says his West Highland Terrier pup unrolled a whole roll of toilet paper the other day, just for fun. He was rewarded with a very long walk to tire him out .

    Our old girl had a grooming appointment yesterday and wants me to let you all know that she looks much better now than she did in her photo with the toilet paper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most people are unaware of the reputations of different dog breeds. People who know dogs really well all agree that terriers are clever but independent. And by “independent,” I really mean “hard to train.” Breeds like Labradors, German shepherds and golden retrievers have a higher drive to please. Those are the breeds you see in demonstrations of highly trained dogs. You never see hounds or terriers presented as showcases of how nicely a dog can be trained.

      If I could keep a dog now I’d be inclined to get a terrier. They are fun companions, even if they aren’t as heavily into pleasing people as some breeds. And I couldn’t hope for a cuter dog than your terrier, Renee!


  7. In the faculty where I taught the longest, people sued to do stings, set people up. for instance, the supt. married a teacher, who became his spy. So one day three of us sat and whispered something not worth explaining. She quickly left the faculty room. Ten minutes later the supt. came down and asked if he could talk to us in the hallway. We were the three union leaders. When we got in the hall, he looked at us, and thought. He asked if he had been set up. We said that his wife had. She quit spying. It did not sour our relationship with him; it improved it.

    Sometimes a person would be set up to make a stupid bet because the person thought they had inside info. (Some of the men liked to make stupid bets.)

    All rather tame. Otherwise I have not much to add to a fun topic. Housecleaning day anyway.


  8. I hope they collected enough $ to cover the cost of the flamingos!

    Husband was part of the MOM committee at his last job – Ministry of Morale. They thought up fun events to have that would have food, games, costumes for those who got into it. I WISH I could post the photo of him and one secretary as Raggedy Ann and Andy.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I read that a group of crows can be called a murder of crows or a storytelling of crows. Our neighbor crows have lots to say every morning. I hope our churlish, dog-hating neighbor gets awakened every morning and has to listen to their spiel.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks, Renee for a fun blog. Your pooch sure is a cutie, and that flamingo flocking scheme sure sounds like fun.

    In view of recent news, my mind flashed an immediate answer to your statement ” the purple one whose name I forget.” Prince! Then I realized there must be a purple Ninja Turtle.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I get most of my humor and laughs from videos I open on Huffington Post. One this week showed a fat cat stuck in a doggie door. The back story was that he was lost for many weeks and had survived by using the dog door on someone’s house miles away from his own home. He filled up daily with dog food in a stranger’s home and got so fat that he couldn’t get through the door anymore. This is how the cat was found, then returned to his owners.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love these pranks.

      During the first two years I attended SIU in Carbondale, it was not unusual to find the canon in front of Old Main freshly decorated. It would be painted in psychedelic colors, sprinkled with glitter, or once even tarred and feathered. Of course, the school didn’t approve of these antics, and much money and work was wasted, no doubt, restoring the canon to its original state. This, of course, only served to clean the surface making it ready for the next “attack.” This had been going on for years before we arrived, but ended rather abruptly in 1969 when Old Main burned to the ground.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Well, nothing tops a flamingo like a tiara…

    I once worked with a guy who was the designer at Clown College.

    Young people starting out in a theatre career tend to be an earnest lot, they don’t want to make mistakes/do the wrong thing through ignorance (it can be a harsh world, at least it was) and he would regularly be asked what color thread to use on the bold plaids that were a big part of the sewing un that shop.

    He would tell them to use the plaid thread. Enough of these poor stressed, sleep deprived kids would go looking for it that he took a bunch of dry-rotted thread (looks just fine but snaps the second you try to use it, hence worthless), some Sharpees and made a box of plaid thread.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. OT: Had hoped to get a blog post in today, but it’s a busy weekend – rehearsal yesterday day for our choral concert this afternoon. If Twin Cities baboons have nothing else to do on this rainy day, it’s 2:00 at Prospect Park United Methodist Church (right next to the Witch’s Tower off University). We’re singing love songs – incl. a lot of Beatles’ music and a PDQ Bach madrigal.

    Liked by 2 people

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