I was a college student back in the day when my university had a live cougar as the mascot. I arrived in the dorms not like most people on Sunday afternoon, but on Saturday so I could get adjusted. I met my suite-mate Carolyn who invited me to a Cougar Guard party. The Cougar Guard was NOT a dance team. This was the crazy group of people that took care of 2 live cougars, Shasta III and IV. III was kinda mellow, but IV was known to be a biter. She almost bit the foot off another Carolyn. That Carolyn was on crutches for a long time as her leg healed from her cougar bite injuries.
(Note: I do not condone using wild animals on a college campus. I am simply retelling a story that occurred while I was a student years ago. The university stopped keeping a live cougar in the 1980’s. I think most of us students would have preferred the cougars to be set free. We didn’t make the decision to have live cougars there, it was simply our job to care for them, and we did the best we could. All of us were there because we were animal lovers.)
Now let me say, I don’t think cougars belong at university; they belong in the wild far from me. But this was long ago when the world wasn’t so politically correct. (They no longer have a live cougar.) So we took turns putting the collar on the cougars every day so we could take them for a walk. That’s right, we took them all over the campus, using two leads to keep them away from people they might attack; you heard correctly they are wild animals and you cannot tame wild animals. I remember being kicked out of the library one day because someone said that animals weren’t allowed in there.
So one day I was told it was my turn to go in the cage and collar III. What? I thought I was there for my fun antics and amusing story telling skills, and to pick up the cougar poop of course.
After much stalling, I walked into the cage with a leather collar in my hand and shut the door. I was in a cage alone (unarmed) with a wild cougar. Did you catch that part? In a cage with a live, wild cougar, capable of ripping me into bite-size pieces.
This is not something I would even consider doing now. I wonder if I had to sign something saying my parents wouldn’t sue the school if I was mauled to death. I am pretty sure I told my parents what I was doing. And yet I don’t remember them ever saying, “This is dumb. Are you flippin’ crazy?” I don’t recall any concern about my safety. I think my dad may have looked up from his paper, and said, “Oh that’s nice Dear, I’m glad you’re getting involved in your school.” If my kid said, “Hey mom, I’m going to hang out with a wild cougar in a small confided space,” I would say, “Are you CRAZY? Of course you aren’t going to spend time with a wild animal that could kill you.” Go to your room! I know you are 19, but clearly you need to go rethink your decisions.Don’t come out until I tell you to!!”
I do remember being very nervous as Shasta paced back and forth. I walked beside her, holding the collar over her head, waiting for just the right moment to slip it over her head and tighten it up. The problem was that she would try to bite you as you slid it over her head. I just cringe when I think about it now. She snapped at me a couple of times as we walked together back and forth. My hands got sweaty and the leather collar began to slip. Finally I got it on, without incident. I may have been a little light headed as I walked out of the cage.
So why did I go into a cage with a live cougar? Because I was going along with the crowd, to fit in. I didn’t feel like I could say no.
Don’t do that.
With design we sometimes feel we have to do something because everyone else is doing it, and we feel pressure to fit in. That’s fine if you like the trend, but if you don’t, then let it go. Good design has an element of uniqueness to it. Sure it’s great to get inspiration from others; I do that all the time. But try to insert something that is unique to you. Do what you love, not what you feel like you should be doing.
For example, let’s talk about my dining room table here. Ironstone is something many people have, and cloches are also widely used. I like them, so I am going to incorporate them. But I tried to add some unusual elements here with two vintage hand-painted creamers, and a silhouette tag. The tag is a wooden one that I painted white. Then I used a stamp to add the black silhouette. The trophy is vintage. The sacred heart (I love them!) is available in my shop. The tablecloth is vintage linen.