Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BB Gun Stand-Off

"Oh, aren't they adorable?" I asked Spouse just yesterday as we stood in our front yard observing the new crop of baby squirrels that appear every spring about this time.

Carefree little furry rodents chased each other around our big oak tree, scurrying up to perch on low, spreading limbs to peer at us peering back.

At that moment, a shadow passed over us as a red-tailed hawk circled overhead, casing the joint for lunch. The clueless baby squirrels were easy prey and more than once I'd watched helplessly as a hawk swooped down to skewer one of "my" babies with its razor sharp talons.

The evil beasties won't even release the poor squealing squirrel when I throw whatever is handy, or even if I run screaming right at them.

"I'm really going to get a BB gun this year," I threatened for the 100th time. I say that every year but Spouse convinces me that I'd end up in the slammer for one reason or another if I start messing with guns. No doubt he's right.

So this morning on my neighborhood walk, I come upon one of my neighbors traipsing around his yard with a BB gun, looking up into the tree branches. Aha! Now this guy's got the right idea!

Before I can open my mouth to commend him and ask if I can borrow it for the horrible hawk infestation on my street, he points the gun upward and fires. AT A SQUIRREL!

"What are you doing?" I cry, when I really want to say, "That's not a hawk - is your eyesight really that bad or are you just an idiot?"

"Gotta get rid of these pesky squirrels," he says, like he deserves a medal or something. "They're wrecking my pool enclosure and stipping my blueberry bushes. We need to import more hawks to get rid of them."

All I could do was stand there with my mouth hanging open.

It reminded me of my tennis buddy who disagrees with me on every single social or moral issue right down the line. She's hardline liberal and I'm hardline conservative and never the twain shall meet. Yet we consider each other friends and enjoy playing tennis together often. How? We agree to disagree and leave politics off the court.

I guess sometimes neighbors have to agree to disagree. That or give everybody BB guns and let them shoot it out until there are no squirrels or hawks or even people left and although everybody wins, nobody wins.

As they say, there are always two sides to every issue, and if we're emotionally involved, it's tremendously hard to see the other side.

Kind of like the two sides of the aligator issue. We Floridians have learned to live with gators and respect their habits and habitats. After all, they were here first. They can't help who they are - we have to just accept that they devour fluffy little dogs that come near them and keep our dogs away. And during mating season, they get aggressive, so we give them extra space. LOTS of space.

But some northerners don't get it and think they should be wiped out completely - why tolerate a killer species that serves mankind no useful purpose? (That point is certainly debatable.)

During my conversation with such a person, I found it difficult to see his side until I realized he was speaking from fear. Fear of the unnknown and fear born of ignorance. He knew very little about gators except all the bad stuff he read in the newspaper on the rare occasion when someone is killed by one. So his opinion was formed by unbalanced data. Information weighted to one side of the issue, with nothing for counter-balance.

Which means, I suppose, that we must take it upon ourselves to become educated about both sides of an issue before we stake our position. Or break out the BB guns and be the last one standing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chillin' with Your Peeps

What a fun girls night out!

A group of us neighborhood girlfriends put on the ritz and strutted our bling at a stage play performance at our local Performing Arts Center. Boy were we stylin' - even though someone told me I looked a bit gangsta in my new $7 pinstiped suit (YAY for consignment shops!).

No matter. Nothing was going to spoil the night. I can do Bonnie and Clyde if it means chillin' with my peeps.

It's so important for women to make girlfriend time a priority, but it's not something most of us do on a regular basis. Pity. We miss so much when we don't spread our wings with the flock.

Girlfriends are our link to levity when reality becomes too intense, our safety nets when we're freefalling. They're the distributors of grace when we're fragile, tears when we're broken, and warm hugs to begin fitting the pieces back together. (Excerpted from my upcoming book, More Beauty, Less Beast).

Aristotle said, "The anecdote for fifty enemies is one friend."

Just think what six friends can do for you! These gals are actually part of our neighborhood Bible Study group that meets every Friday at rorating houses. We average ten and although we started meeting for an hour at our inception two years ago, we can barely stop after two hours now.

I think that's because everyone needs a soul sister, a kindred spirit who offers unconditional love and acceptance. A safe place where we can store our secrets and be sure they won't leak. What a blessed bonus if you're dedicated to studying and applying scripture together! Too cool. Someone to travel the life road with - speed humps, potholes, sharp turns and all.

Did you know that fun is actually contagious? A British medical journal concluded from social experiments that happiness transferred between people can last up to a year. A year! So it's true - when you smile, the whole world really does smile with you!

So who are your peeps? Do you have a soul sister or a possibly a group of kindred spirits? If not, how about starting one?

Trust me, you'll never regret it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Irradicating Vultures (Part 2)

On my last posting, I mentioned that my unfortunate neighbors have an infestation of vultures lurking on their roof.

I rode my bike over to snap this picture and although there was a whole line-up of taloned criminals when I arrived, only four were willing to hang around for the mug shot. Note the happy bird roosting in the chimney. Looks like the gang plans to hole up for a while.

My previous point was - and is - why would carnivores hang around unless there was plenty to eat? I'm talking dead stuff. Carrion. Rotting meat.

In a human sense, not unlike some of the dearly departed plans I've never followed through on, or discarded projects, or spiritual good intentions gasping their last breaths. Deceased, all, and ready to be devoured by those nasty vultures hanging out on my roof. Well fed critters, my vultures.

So how do I rid myself of these death mauraders whose shadow lurking over my head makes me feel that just another failure is inevitable?

I got a clue in trying to get close enough to snap these photos. When I first rode up on the street, they generally ignored me. With my first step into the yard, the first vulture took off. With each subsequent step bringing me closer - although they were twenty feet over my head on the roof and I was no actual threat - more and more of them flew away. The closer a living, breathing, powerful force got to them, the faster they took flight. By the time I was beneath the eaves, not one bird remained.

Vultures aren't intimidated one bit by defunct, lifeless, decaying debris, but pit them against a vibrant life force and they're overwhelmed. They're intimidated. They're out of there. Gone like an Egyptian dictator. (But that's another story.)

So it occurred to me - maybe that's how I can get rid of the debilitating vultures looming in my own life: ask for help from the biggest, most powerful life force there is. Those unseen spiritual vultures bringing me down - defeat, depression, disillusionment - can't remain in His presence.

And that's spiritual warfare in a nutshell.

Bye bye birdie.