Day 667: Norms

 Yesterday, as I was jazzily driving through my neighborhood on my way to work, I saw a front lawn that was COVERED with white.

No, it wasn’t the first New England snowfall. It looked more like this:


…. which is a photo I snapped (but did not use in this blog) on the morning of the recent lunar eclipse.

As is my norm, I noticed those strips of toilet paper on that lawn and I had lots of thoughts, including:

Yikes!  Why is that place COVERED with toilet paper? Does that mean those people are being harassed, for some reason, by their neighbors?

And since that was the second time I had noticed that kind of morning decoration at that particular residence, I realized I should probably take some sort of action.

Now, it’s NOT my norm to call the police, but I didn’t know what the norm was, in a situation like this.

It IS my norm, when I’m driving to work in the morning, to be

  • tight for time,
  • encountering road traffic, and
  • hesitant to use my phone

… but I was resolute to do something about the multiple toilet-paper-on-lawn sightings.

Here’s another norm for me, lately: Siri (my alleged iPhone personal assistant) and I have a failure to communicate.  So when I told Siri, in all the ways I could imagine, to

Call the local police

… Siri replied:

I can’t do that, Ann

… in different ways. This is not my norm, but I said some very harsh words to Siri, including labeling her and her abilities in extremely unflattering and negative language. Siri, as is her norm (but not mine), took my insults in a very non-defensive and calm way, responding:

After all I’ve done for you?

… multiple times.

As is my norm, when I realize that somebody is NOT going to be of help to me, I figure out a way to get things done, on my own.  This is the phone conversation I had with the local police:

The Local Police:  Sargent So-And-So. (My norm, when I’m encountering somebody for the first time, is to forget their name.)

Me: Hi. My name is Ann Koplow. I was just driving through my neighborhood and I noticed, for the second time, that somebody had covered somebody’s lawn with toilet paper.  I wasn’t sure what to do about that, so I thought I’d let you know.

The Local Police (sounding as calm and as unflappable as Siri, which may be their norm, too, for all I know): Yes, Ma’am.  Does a high school athlete live there?

Me (taken aback and a little annoyed when I am asked a question I think I could NOT possibly know the answer to, which is another norm of mine):  I really wouldn’t know, officer.  Why? (Another norm of mine: to ask open-ended questions.)

The Local Police:  Because that’s what the kids do around here, Ma’am.  When it’s game time, they cover the homes of the local athletes in toilet paper.

Me (laughing, which is a norm of mine, when I’m relieved): Oh! I didn’t  know that.

After that phone conversation, I knew that “Norms” would be the title of today’s post, because I was thinking about how norms are different, from place to place. And I felt lucky that I was living in a neighborhood where the norm for somebody’s home being covered with toilet paper was benign and playful, rather than sinister, scary, and otherwise dangerous. I also thought about how lucky I am that it’s not my norm, since living in this neighborhood, to call the police for anything. (I’ve had to call the police for more serious matters, in previous neighborhoods I’ve lived.)

As is my norm, once I thought of a post title for this blog, I noticed norms everywhere.


Geese by the side of the road are a norm, around here.


Things of various sizes momentarily blocking my car on the way to work are another norm, these days.


Finding lots of cars needing to be parked — a sure sign that the shuttle bus between my parking lot and the hospital where I work has just left without me on it — is another norm.  However, this norm never affects me, since I walk the mile to work.


Blue skies in the morning are one possible norm around here.


Tour buses parked outside of Boston’s Fenway Park are another norm, although now that baseball season is over, I’m not seeing nearly as many as these.


One of my morning, work-week norms is saluting Carl Yastrzemski, as I walk by the statue honoring him, outside of Fenway. I just broke another one of my norms — misspelling names. I remembered, exactly, how to spell Captain Carl’s.

Blogging norms for me include balancing my needs with other people’s needs, so I need to take a short break here, to check if my son needs any help from me getting out to school this morning.

My son, Aaron, needed a little — but not much — help from me. Since he’s 16 years old, this is a developing norm.

Where was I?  Oh, yes. Photos from yesterday, when I was noticing norms.

As I walked by Fenway Park, on my way to work, a strange man was suddenly in my face, showing me his camera. Since I was wearing my headphones, listening to some music I included in yesterday’s post, I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I could tell, though, from his non-verbal cues, that he wanted me to take a photo of him and his female companion, standing outside of Fenway:


Of course, that’s not the photo I took with his camera.  I took that photo with my phone, after we exchanged words, including:

Strange man: Here!  You just push these buttons!

Me: (as I try to figure out how to take the photo quickly):  You know, I’m on my way to work!

Strange woman: I know!  He didn’t even ask you!

Strange man: That’s Californians for you!

Me: Or guys! *

Strange woman: Yes!  Guys!

Then I noticed another strange guy, who said, “His photo is in post offices, everywhere!” I said, “Hey!  I use that line, too!”  Then I took a quick photo of these three visitors from a strange land called “Long Beach”


…  before I jazzed off to work.

My norm — in taking photos for this blog — is to let people know I’m doing that. A few minutes later, I encountered this gentleman:


He also gave me permission to take his picture, although — as with the visitors from California — I did not get his name.

Here are a few more local norms I observed, on my way to work, yesterday morning:

IMG_1465 IMG_1468 IMG_1470 IMG_1472 IMG_1474 IMG_1482

Later in the day, I observed a common norm at the hospital where I work, as I took a Starbucks break. I saw some unfamiliar faces there, including Kate:


and some familiar ones, including Alex and Jeannette:

IMG_1485 IMG_1486

Because Kate and I just met yesterday, she spelled my name wrong:


But, despite our unfamiliarity with each other, Kate and I bonded over music, like so:

Me: (thinking Ella Fitzgerald’s voice is singing in the background at Starbucks): Who is that singing, right now?  Is that Ella Fitzgerald?

Kate: I think that is definitely Ella. She has such a great voice.

Regular readers of this blog know I like to include music I love here. While I couldn’t find a YouTube video of the song I heard Ella singing in Starbuck’s yesterday, I did find this:

(Ella Fitzgerald scattin’ some Jazz found here on YouTube)

Before I end this post, I’ll point out another one of my blogging norms: I’ve linked, within this post, to past posts and Wikipedia (and other reference) pages.

What norms do you have (related to blogs and other things)?

One more norm for me to take care of, this morning, before I leave for work.

Oh, wait!  Before I end this post, here are some photos I took yesterday, after work, that I wanted to show you.  Do you notice any norms, here?

IMG_1491 IMG_1492 IMG_1494 IMG_1496 IMG_1497 IMG_1501IMG_1498 IMG_1503 IMG_1505 IMG_1506

Okay!  Here’s my final blogging norm, for today:


* The two guys I live with have pointed out, several times, that sexist comments like that are yet another one of my norms.

For those of my readers who were expecting some sort of visual pun in this post, here you go:

norm 1-norm-cheers

Categories: inspiration, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “Day 667: Norms

  1. Fun again today, Ann. I have never thought much about the norms in my life but now I will. Ones I love are hearing braying donkeys in the morning, and the other is the sound of the train passing by. Though that train is in another country, its beautiful sound belongs to me anyway.

  2. Funny tradition about the toiletpaper in the garden…… Obviously many don’t know about it. 😃

    • I’m with you, Ute. I certainly didn’t know about this funny tradition before today. It looks like at least one of my readers was familiar it.

      And whenever you drop by, the norm here gets better!

  3. So, I have to ask, why do people engage in the ‘norm’ of covering gardens in toilet-paper if a high school athlete lives there and how did that norm get started? And, um…. if it’s an injustice if an athlete doesn’t live there, what makes it okay because he/she does? And is it for both she’s and he’s or are toilet-paper hangers more discriminating and who picks the hangers?

    Oh my! So many questions about a norm! 🙂

    • So many great questions, Louise. Here’s another norm for me: When I say, “What a great question!” that means, “I don’t know the answer.”

  4. LOL, I couldn’t figure out why you were so upset over the house that had been TP’d! Once you shared it wasn’t your norm, then it made more sense! I grew up with – and now Mr. T has grown up with – events like that happening, everyone here just looks at each other and goes “Thank goodness we don’t have to clean that up!”

    • “Thank goodness I don’t have to clean that up!” is another saying that’s a norm for me these days, Kate. Thank goodness for your visits!

  5. My norm for TP is different than in your neighborhood, and it has nothing to do with trees and yards, Ann. I always want to hang it ‘under,’ but my dear wife Karen always seems to hang it ‘over.’ No police called, yet.

    Nice for you that the new Starbucks worker knows Ella. Yay, and so young!

    Good work with the two visual Norm puns. Ha! Very Boston.

    • What is it with guys wanting TP hanging ‘under’ and non-guys wanting it hanging ‘over,’ Mark?

      Uh-oh. Another sexist comment from me. Don’t tell my two guys, Aaron and Michael.

      (I wonder if the two Norms do the same as you?)

  6. You will always be a glorious exception to me Ann 🙂
    Lots of smiles today 🙂
    Thank you!

    • Thank you for the glorious, smiley visit, Val. (My norm, I believe, is to thank somebody back, instead of saying “You’re welcome.”)

  7. Your blog is always outside the norm, Ann.

  8. Some really happy stories her, I’m glad that’s the norm.

  9. Pingback: Day 670: Disguised | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  10. You gave me quite a laugh! I live near Long Beach and I have two friends with Boston connections who have regaled me with comments about “Californians” in Boston. My Southern California friend now living in Boston said it took her two years to figure out why people stared at her on the bus…she smiled and talked to strangers. They thought she was a little odd. LOL! And my born-and-raised in Boston friend who now lives here in SoCal corroborates that fact and says she still doesn’t trust the way strangers talk to each other here. Norms! What a great conversation, Ann. And tee-peeing houses is a “norm” here, too. It’s a sign of teenaged popularity if your house is targeted!

    • I love the norm you create — acceptance of differences, lightness, helpful information, humor, laughter, appreciation, and more — whenever you visit here. Many thanks!

  11. Pingback: Day 681: Not love | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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