Optical Illusions

Husband and I were buying groceries when a magazine cover on display near the checkout gave me pause.  It was a magazine tribute to Billy Graham. The way the magazine rack was designed made it look as though the Reverend Graham had payot, those locks of hair  sported by Hasidic men near their ears.  I had to look twice to convince myself I wasn’t seeing what I thought I was seeing.  Whew! That would have really rocked my world had it been true!

I am the sort of person who sees fanciful designs and drawings in floor tiles.  I like administering the Rorschach Inkblot Test because I like to hear all the interesting things people tell me they see.  I know the person is in trouble when not even I can see what they see.

James Thurber writes about his poor vision and the interesting things he thought he saw, like an elderly admiral in dress uniform peddling  a bicycle next to a vehicle Thurber was sitting in.  The admiral wasn’t really there, of course.  Thurber thought it was probably a billboard or starlight shining through the trees.  He also writes of throwing stones at what he thought was a flock of white chickens that had invaded his neighbor’s vegetable garden, only to find they were newspapers placed on top of the plants as protection from frost.

I am going to pay more attention to the magazine racks next time I buy groceries. Who knows what I might see?

When have your eyes played tricks on you?


41 thoughts on “Optical Illusions”

  1. Silly mistakes like that happen to me with increasing frequency. But one stands out in memory. Coming home, I stepped into my living room and saw Pukka, our yellow Labrador, curled on the floor near the piano where she liked to sleep. “Oh,” said the surprised voice in my head, “she’s back.”

    Only she was not. Weeks earlier I took the dogs with me for an early morning jog. Pukka ran into the street. The kid rushing to get to work had no chance to stop. Pukka’s head left a big dent in his grill. Where she went next I cannot say, for no dog has ever returned from there.


    1. Not the same, but I have had three golden retrievers, each wonderful in his or her own way but my firsr, Teddy, is the only one who ever shows up in my dreams.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Lately my eyes and brain have had to rely on my toes to figure out if that spot on the carpet is wet or a shadow. Most have been shadows, but a few have been damp spots. New Little Dog is delightful, but she has left us damp little reminders of her presence here and there. Working out what the triggering behavior is has been like trying to solve an Agatha Christie mystery without the help of Hercule Poirot to point out clues (mostly because we mostly don’t catch her in the act). They tend to appear in clusters (two or three over a period of as many days) and then none for a week or more at a stretch. We suspect Fear of The Cat, but it could be more generalized Fear of All The Things…sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Here’s a story by Brent Olson:

          Lsp1293-dog in the dark
          Independently Speaking
          Publication Date 10-26-17

          I never used to be scared of the dark, but I am now.

          It’s all because of the dog.

          When I get up in the morning, I rarely turn on any lights before I get to my office. I’ve lived in this house since 1975, so I more or less know my way around. Plus, it’s my way of easing into the day. Depending on the season, I get to watch the sun rising over the slough or see stars sparkling over snowy fields in the depths of winter. This morning as the day slowly brightened, my eye was captured by a huge grey hawk perched in the very top of an ancient tree in our grove. We’ve been seeing a slight downturn in the cat inventory and my guess is that this guy is responsible.

          Giving up my pre-dawn ritual would be a serious sacrifice, but I’m not sure if I have any other option, because, you know, the dog.

          We have a new dog. Some of you are familiar with our main dog, a giant Newfoundland with anxiety issues that was found for us by a daughter who has highly developed empathy skills and not a firm attachment to practicality.

          The new auxiliary dog came from the same source, but this time with the assistance of a few grandchildren. She was in a shelter after being taken from an abusive situation. Her days were numbered and my family came across it in a display that a cynical person might describe as a ploy to get the attention of softhearted people. My daughter’s house is fully dogged – two, hundred pound dogs that shed hair on every surface. One more wasn’t an option for them, but they had my wife on speed dial. So, picture this – three grandchildren pleading their case AND photos. I was given a veto opportunity, but I have enough guilt in my life, so I signed off on the deal.

          One of the main qualities of the new dog is that she is only 10% of the big dog. Literally – ten pounds as opposed to one hundred.

          On the other hand, she’s a leaper, with a fondness for the kitchen table and my desk. She is a cat and chicken tormentor, and scratches at the bedroom door around 4:30 in the morning, hoping to be invited in.

          I used to think that she woke me up so I could let her out, but that’s not the case. I open the bedroom door and head upstairs, and she streaks by me and leaps into the middle of the bed.

          So why has this tiny morsel made me scared of the dark? Well, due to the abuse she suffered, she has some difficulty telling the difference between inside and outside. Really, she means well, and hides her head in shame and remorse when caught, but that didn’t help the morning I stepped in something wet in the dining room, cursed, took three more steps toward the hall and stepped in something squishy.

          Not the best way to start a day.

          We’re working our way through this. Luckily, we have no carpet in our house, but all the rugs are rolled up and pushed against the wall, as if a sock hop was going to break out at any moment. There are paper towels and Lysol stashed in strategic places, and the dog can’t take a step without being watched with beady-eyed intensity.

          And, I don’t walk around the house in the dark.

          Copyright 2017 Brent Olson

          Liked by 4 people

  3. I was once horrified by what I thought was a huge cockroach on the floor by the kitchen garbage can, only to find, once I stopped shrieking, that it was half of a large, purple grape.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Me too! I once cleaned a bunch of pheasants in the basement, and afterward some pheasant feathers were drifting about. When I opened the plastic garbage can where we stored dog food, one of those feathers was on top of all the kibbles. I picked the feather up by the stem, which I could see although that part of the basement was dark. The throbbing I felt was my clue to the fact I had picked up a mouse by the tail. I hate when that happens!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. My eyes are so bad I can’t even guess what I am looking at without my glasses

    I used to take pride in having better than 20/20 vision now I am frustrated that my bifocals are not right for arms length reading they are set for horizon view and close up not good for dashboard newspaper or computer. That is an amazing solution… give up the common one so you have a couple other that work good

    Like having an appetizer and desert and forgoing the meal

    Getting old is not for the faint of heart but it helps to have a bad memory. I can’t remember what it was like before it stopped working

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Every once in a while, when the room is not very bright,I think I see my cat on my bed. This is not true (it’s often my pajamas) because I gave him up last summer. But each time my heart gives a little jump of joy, only to come crashing down again.


  6. The big fault of this apartment is the mice running around. See them regularly, darting along the wall, except sometimes they rise in the air and dance before falling back to the floor. And those fly wings drifting through the air. And those chromosomes floating around. Sometime all those mice, and flies, and moths. and make it hard to see, especially against lit screens. Add that to my dry eye issues, and I live in a weird fantasy land.
    What did I just type?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I am adjusting to new glasses frames, bigger than the old ones. I keep thinking I see something in the corner, turn my head, and it turns too – it’s the damn frame. (New lenses also didn’t make right eye vision totally clear because there is a cataract, and can’t be operated on till it’s more advanced… a couple of years down the road probably. Sigh.)


    1. Every time I get new glasses the world turns at the edges of my vision like that. Then after 2-3 days, my brain adjusts and it stops moving.


  8. Sandy’s illusions are odors. I call it her olfactory factory. When she has a brain incident, TIA or small stroke, they reappear. She has aural migraines, which can cause them.


      1. Phantosmia would be a wonderful name for a matronly aunt in Edwardian England. The sort of woman who might be described as amply built and smelling vaguely of lavender (and has strong opinions about How Things Are Done).

        Liked by 5 people

  9. In my mind, phantosmia is the name of a flower that grows to great heights and erupts in a flurry of multicolored petals that have no predictable pattern. Something like tiger lilies or iris plants but far more whimsical.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I remember at dusk looking out from the screen porch in Robbinsdale to the way back yard and thinking: I’m pretty sure there are rabbits back there playing tag, feinting and faking, jumping over each other. Nah…

    But my eyes weren’t playing tricks – I wish I had that on video.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. For many years a good friend of mine had a black and white Jack Russell terrier named JR. A couple of years after he passed, they found a black and white Springer spaniel statue – about the same size as JR was. It sits in the corner of their living room and many times I see it with the corner of my eye and think it’s JR and give myself a start.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh my! Baboons have traveled from Hasidim to pet indiscretions, vermin, word play, and Jack Russell terriers. What a good day!


  13. I misread things a lot. I remember seeing a road sign once when coming into a small Minnesota town. I thought it said Lobster Prairie. Seemed like an odd name for a town, as lobsters and prairie aren’t exactly simpatico. It turned out the town was called Lester Prairie. But sometimes I wish there were a town called Lobster Prairie.

    Liked by 4 people

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