Do you see what I see?

By Mir
February 8, 2008

Suffice it to say that it’s very rare that anyone will ask me that question and my answer will be “yes.” I tend to be—in a word—oblivious. Oh, I notice the important stuff… usually… but, for example, the tree adventure from the previous post started with me grilling Otto as to whether or not he was CERTAIN the damage had just occurred that day.

“Of COURSE it did,” he said, looking at me like he’d just caught me sniffing glue. “It’s RIGHT HERE by my car, which I drive EVERY DAY. I would’ve noticed it if it had happened before.”

And he’s right, of course. He would’ve. Me, on the other hand…. Well, the damage is way up there, you know. I probably would’ve noticed it when the tree fell on my car (or, um, on our power lines, you understand, but before then? Not so much.

Anyway, this is all preface to telling you that I looked out the window eleventy hundred times, yesterday, peeking at the tree, to see if there was any change. I didn’t need to, of course, because the camera was snapping away. But I kept looking, anyway.

Otto came home from work and made a movie of the pictures. Because he’s just that cool.

Did you watch the movie? Wasn’t it RIVETING? Didn’t it explain EVERYTHING?

No? Oh. Yeah. Unless it was the SHADOWS that ate the tree, we’re still mystified.

But the movie is really not the point here. No. The point here is my incredible powers of observation. I mean, I decided to try to catch the tree-nibbler in action, and I keep looking outside, and I saw nothing. The camera revealed that there was… nothing. I was feeling pretty good.

And then I ran the kids around yesterday afternoon and came home and Otto said to me, “Hey, Crazy Neighbor Lady must’ve sold her house.”

“Really?” I said, unloading groceries. Otto gave me A Look. “What??”

“Um,” he began, slowly, “the sign in her yard is gone. And HER HOUSE IS EMPTY.”

I went and looked. Her garage—usually jam-packed with detritus—was still open, but empty. Her car was gone. Garbage bags were heaped up at the curb, and no lights were on inside.

That tree? The one I’d been looking at all day? Right in our sight line to her driveway and garage.

I did an awesome job of noticing that nothing happened to the tree. I apparently just completely missed the moving truck that must’ve been parked right behind it for the better part of the day.


  1. Megan

    Perhaps the tree was just an appetizer and Whatever It Was then moved on to the contents of the crazy neighbor lady’s house? I admit I’m a little stumped about the garbage bags though…

  2. All Adither

    She saw the camera, thought it was pointed at her, freaked and fled. In a very organized fashion.

  3. Leandra

    I think Megan is on to something but I think the garbage bags were for whatever the monster didn’t feel like eating. Like the crusts of crazy neighbor lady sandwiches. Or something.

  4. prophet

    I’m liking the incredible powers of observation being demonstrated here, upon the chosen thing being observed. . . . Wow. That’s some serious concentration!

    I mean it’s gotta count for something. It just all depends on just what it is you’re lookin’ at, eh?

    Seriously – I think it’s what I like most about you. [grin]

  5. Astrogirl

    Hey, there’s some things even a Whatever It Was will not eat – How neighborly of It to package it all up in tidy bags for garbage day.

  6. Chewie

    I’m totally the same way, Mir. Many many times my precious dh has said to me I’m like a bull dog pushing a rock across the ground…”pushin’ a rock…pushin’ a rock….pushin’ a rock…” I think he saw it on some video show and decided THAT WAS ME..and he is right. I just somehow miss the forest for the trees sometimes….most of the time…so I feel ya, Mir.

    You can turn this around…I have learned the skill…and just say “I’m not incredibly NOSEY like SOME people…” thereby making it seem as if you are noble instead of oblivious. It sort of works sometimes. *shrug*

  7. Not the Mama

    Hilarious. I still want to know what happened to the tree.

    Also, no need to panic, I don’t think you are all that alone is your (missing) powers of observation. Have you ever heard of the gorilla experiment? Viewers were asked to watch a clip of a students tossing basketballs to each other and count the number of times the the ball was passed from one team to another. The instructions were pretty detailed, so viewers had to watch carefully to make sure they were only counting certain passes. In the middle of the video, a woman in a gorilla suit walks slowly right through the game. Nearly half the viewers failed to notice the gorilla.

  8. Heather

    Actually, there’s a ton of studies like the one Not the Mama mentioned :-) The videos are really amazing to watch – and even when you KNOW you are looking for something else, it’s possible to miss it entirely. It’s really cool and interesting from a psychological perspective! (Psych dork. Hi!) You can see some of the videos here, if you like:
    Oh, and the time elapsed video? So cool. You rule, Otto, P.I.

  9. balconygal

    I would have missed the tree, too. The neighbor? I would have been counting the days! But that’s just me. Then I’d probably be ticked about the garbage bags because, in my neighborhood, it wouldn’t be garbage day and they’d be out there for a week and then whatever ate the tree would attack the bags and then I’d have to do the clean up otherwise all the trash would end up in my yard anyway and…oh…how did you manage to get me on that train of thought? Ha, all I meant to say is you are not alone in the dear world of oblivion.

  10. Laura

    You just couldn’t see the movers for the trees.

  11. LyndaL

    There’s an art house cinema here in Auld Reekie that I’m sure would pay good money to screen that film. And host a discussion afterwards about its deeper meaning.

  12. Jamie AZ

    I saw her car leave at 0:44 into the video! Not sure I would have noticed it though if I wasn’t looking for it. Bummer the tree eater didn’t show up – maybe it comes out at night. Can Otto put night-vision goggles on that big lens of his? :) Love the time lapse video, though! I’m going to have to see if I can program my camera to take a picture every “X” amount of time – fun!

  13. The Mom Bomb

    I have the same affliction! Which probably explains why I drove our car straight into the 4-ft high pile of gravel our neighbor’s work crew had left in the road. Their contractor was like, “Lady! Didn’t you see it? It was right in front of you!” I was too embarrassed to tell him I was on my way to get my roots done and thinking about a color change.

    Wait. That’s not your problem. That’s just ditziness, pure and simple.

  14. Nancy R

    I watched the video a second time to see the car leave and then something appear at the right of the screen.

    You’re just practiced at NOT paying attention to the weird neighbor, that’s all.

  15. Stacia

    Don’t feel bad. I went to pick up my husband from the airport and he walked right by me. Like, within a foot of me, and he even looked at me. I think he’s more oblivious than you, so you’re ok.

  16. Morgaine

    I have nothing to say about the neighbor lady (except yay? maybe? Less crazy in a neighborhood is always a good thing.) I just want to recommend putting the movie to sound. It went well with Mogwai’s Christmas Steps off of Come on Die Young.

    I’m just sayin’.

  17. The Other Leanne

    Does anybody else see the Face Of Jesus in that tree scar? I’m thinking you’ve got a money-making tourist attraction, Mir.

  18. Tink

    Did _anyone_ happen to notice the clear image of a bearded man’s face revealed by the damage done to the tree by The Thing?

  19. jennielynn

    I asked for a picture and got a movie! Y’all are awesome.

  20. jennielynn

    Yes, I know the movie wasn’t for me, exclusively. I am not quite that self-centered.

  21. Vane

    That video is soooo cool … I would love to have cool photo equipment like Otto.

  22. Shalee

    Hey, don’t feel badly about missing stuff. Early in our marriage, I came home from school dead-tired. I fell asleep on the couch for a nap (A NAP! I almost never can take a nap!). Anyway, when I woke up 2 hours later, the house across the street had been demolished by big machines. It was completely standing when I had laid down. I even looked at it as I was heading towards the couch – which was by the window that was near the demolished house.

    Nope I didn’t hear a thing. But boy did I have a really good sleep.

  23. elizabeth

    I so love Otto. a geek after my own heart – I’m now wondering if I can get my camera to take that time lapse. and to make it a movie, I swoon.

    as far as not registering things like neighbors and random tree attacks, gotta say me too. I blame it on The Evil Elves that move and hide things. doesn’t get me very far in most situations, but every now and then….

  24. tori

    I am EXACTLY the same as you in this. It is frustrating for my husband.

  25. Lady M

    I’ve done the same thing (or not done, as the case might be for not noticing something) many a time.

    Hey, maybe you’d be like one of my colleagues that didn’t notice I’m pregnant until NOW.

  26. Flea

    Twins separated at birth. That’s us. Yep. I’ll ask my mom, just to make sure.

  27. arduous

    I have the SAME exact observational problems so I totally hear you on this one!

  28. Kristi

    I enjoyed the video muchly, actually. Definitely, the shadows are to blame.

  29. Zuska

    Drat – I wanted to be the first one to point out the Face of Jesus!!

    For some reason, that video was fascinating!!! And fwiw, I’d probably miss the whole move thing too…

  30. The Over-Thinker

    I saw the car leave and wondered why the driver didn’t close their garage door–I lost focus for a bit. It’ll be interesting to see how many hits “Tree Watching by Otto” gets on You Tube. I smell a Golden Globe for the Documentary category!

  31. The Over-Thinker

    And I agree–totally a Jesus Face. Actually, it looks like Jesus whistling.

  32. chris

    Did I really just sit here and watch it? Twice?

  33. Chewie


    it IS Jesus whistling…

    and the care DOES leave at 44 seconds…

    Wow…it is nice to have the helpers when you are Oblivious.

  34. Amy-Go

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH *gasp* *snort* that was totally worth watching the video.

  35. Jenny

    I’m irrationally bothered by the fact that the car doesn’t come back. That is some masterful plotting.

    And I guess we finally know what Jesus would do.

  36. June

    I once drove home from work in the evening, parked my car in the garage and walked inside. My husband said “did you see what I did this afternoon?” and I was all “huh?” He had spent the afternoon covering our house in Christmas lights (for the first time – we just moved in a few months ago) and I didn’t even notice! How do you miss when your house is blazing with bright white lights?!

  37. Amy S.

    We’ve had a huge tree limb (talking LIMB, not branch), fall on our lawn and I didn’t notice it for three days until my five year old pointed it out.

  38. Karate Mom

    Love the movie, even though it’s just shadows. I kept expecting a goblin to pop up and scream, just to scare the whoof-whoof out of us!

  39. LuAnn

    I think I saw ELVIS in those shadows!

  40. becky

    i have great powers of concentration, and sometimes observation. at the same time? if i’m lucky.

  41. D

    Not much related, but we had a number of trees here have their barks split, crack, peal, and whatever else due to sunburn. Didn’t know trees could get it, but it hit a slew of trees in our area. It literally did happen overnight – rather weird.

    June – my husband did the same thing – and I wondered the same question. He was intent on driving home and watching for people crossing the street, not looking at the house per say. :-)

  42. Tina

    Don’t feel bad, Mir. Once my bike was stolen for 2 weeks before I noticed. Bad part? I kept my bike in the garage – about 3 feet in front of where I parked my car. Yep, that means that every day when I pulled my car into the garage I was look right at the spot where my bike should have been.

  43. Jessica (aka Rose)

    That may not have been illuminating, but it was a damn cool video nonetheless.

  44. carson

    Dunno, but I thought it was Mary Mother of Jesus.

  45. Mother Chaos

    Oh Lord. Well, don’t feel bad, you are hardly alone. I combine utter oblivion with noticing really, really tiny changes.

    Because, you know. Otherwise, I wouldn’t keep my family guessing.

  46. EmmaC

    My favorite part? Is when the Big Tree Shadow? Marches across the Intrepid Little Tree Being Observed? Around the 38 second mark? So OMINOUS. Yup.

  47. Cele

    Having no idea about the time lapse over time, but the marching shadows tell me all day. The car leaves and does return at least twice before gone all together, the garage appears empty at the beginning of the time lapse, what is the yellow/white thing in the bottom right hand corner?

    Jesus whistling? I’m going to have to watch again.

    BTW Otto how did you do this?

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest