By George, I Think He’s Got It!

Last week I shared about Link, the cat, and his murderous instincts and how focused he is. I talked about how important it is to stay intently focused on our goals, just like the hunting cat.

This week I want to share my observations about Rufus the squirrel. I’ve mentioned him before and how hard he tried to figure out a way to extract sunflower seeds from our bird feeder.

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This “squirrel-proof” feeder works like this: the feeder has a metal casing which fits over a clear plastic tube. On the outside of the metal casing are three bird perches. The genius part of the feeder is this: when something beyond the weight of a bird presses down on the bird perches, it lowers the metal casing, effectively shutting off access to the holes where the seeds are.

Now this system works especially well because I’ve placed the feeder about eighteen inches out from the wall. The drop from the feeder to the ground is about twelve feet. Enough to hurt if a squirrel falls from the feeder.

For the two years that I’ve used this feeder Rufus has repeatedly tried to foil the genius feeder system.

There’s another type of squirrel who covets the sunflower seeds, but he’s way too small to reach the feeder. His method is to climb out on the metal support beam and lower himself onto the top of the feeder. Then he reaches down and tried to pop off the lid. Of course, there’s no lid, just a fused top, so he fails.

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But Rufus has his eyes on those three openings where the tasty seeds sit. This is how I imagine him reasoning out his strategy:

Rufus: “There’s got to be a way. I’ll find a way. I’ve just got to. Hmm, what if I reach out with one paw?

Oops, almost fell. 

How about the other paw. Oops. No, that won’t work either.

Hmm.

Uh oh, there’s that pesky lady, watching me. I’d better keep an eyes on her or she’ll get me with her broom, for sure.

I know, I can hold onto the railing with my back feet and strrrrrrrreeeeeeetttttch all the way to the feeder.

Got it. Ah, tasty, crunchy seeds. This is living.”

ME: I can’t believe my eyes. That smart aleck squirrel has figured out a way to get around the genius squirrel-proof system. By George, he thought that he could do it and indeed he did!

Now, besides helping himself to paw-fuls of seeds, he’s leaving little brown ‘gifts’ all over my bannister. And now, look. He’s got his girlfriend watching him. Of course, she’s not as smart, and apparently squirrels don’t teach each other, so she’s out of luck. And he doesn’t share any of his loot.

And furthermore, while he’s glutting on the bird seeds, no bird will come near. The rat!

I’ve been bested by a grey squirrel.

(This is somewhat on subject: Here I am, walking a trapeze rope bridge. It’s harder than it looks. Walking this feels a little like writing and trying to find the right publisher. A bit scary!)

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Back to Rufus.

But there’s something admirable about that obnoxious and inventive squirrel. He doesn’t give up. And he doesn’t let my intimidating presence stop him, either. He keeps one eye out for danger (me) and experiments again and again. He’s the Edison of squirrels. An Einstein squirrel who can think above and beyond his ken. The Elon Musk of grey squirrels, who plans and strategizes.

I’m impressed. I need to be more liken Rufus. The Rufus who boldly eyes the prize and doesn’t quit even though all the other squirrels have. It took him two years to figure out a solution—and for a squirrel that must be 50 percent of your life—but he kept at it.

I’m kind of thinking God has a life lesson for me here. About not quitting, not listening to others when they say it can’t be done. Of trying all options. Of feeling a bit nervous—like walking the trapeze rope bridge—but persevering.

The lesson came at the right time because the last few months I’ve been feeling sluggish and discouraged about my professional life. Maybe it’s the shut-down. Maybe it’s just me. It’s something writers fight a lot especially since most of our time is spent alone. But Rufus doesn’t let discouragement stop him, and neither should I.

I’m grateful to the Lord for sending Rufus!

Intently Focused

This is Link, my cat. Sometimes called Linky-pooh.

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Link is an indoor cat because outdoor cats around here don’t live very long.

Nevertheless, he is a cat, and cats are intently focused on killing. They are serial killers without the possibility of a conscience. Link is not a man, with moral sense and a spirit that can commune with God. He’s an animal. So it’s okay when he looks at me with the eye of a tiger. It’s a good thing he weighs ten pounds and I weigh 125 pounds because it prevents him from murdering me. Not that he wants to, it’s just that he’s cat, you understand, and he can’t help himself.

I understand that the nature of cats is stamped on them by their Creator: they have their niche as the hunter and culler of small animals. They are wired in every way to respond to a moving stimulus. We’ve all observed  this. They crouch low, tail whipping from side to side, eyes staring at their prey, a rapid “kid, kik, kik” barely audible, vibrating from their throats.

Link sometimes forgets that Rufus, the big, gluttonous grey squirrel is separated from him by a glass wall. Link throws himself against the window with a thunk, lands on his feet and shakes his head as if coming out of a trance.

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Killing, and raising the next generation of killers is Link’s purpose. He’s a strikingly beautiful killer, don’t you think?

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God has given animals their own kind of glory. I think most of them are way more beautiful than humans.

But we humans have a greater glory, the potential to become sons of God through Jesus, the Christ. And when we do, He immediately sends His Spirit to instruct  us about our Kingdom purpose.

Some, like Link, understand God’s mandate immediately. Others, like me, take a while to learn my purpose in His kingdom and to become intently focused.

I’m getting there, I think. Watching the single-mindedness of animals in their munching, grazing, and cud-chewing, of seeking a mate, being watchful of danger, and hunting blood and bone is a daily reminder that I ought, also,  to be about my own business. That of walking like Enoch walked. With God.

Intently.

“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Heb. 12:1,2) 

 

Exciting Times at the Netherton Home

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Being home-bound is not the way it should be for free Americans. But there are two good things about it for Dena Netherton:

  1. Her honey is home. Normally, he’d be traveling all over the country doing audits for suppliers of Lockheed Marten.
  2. She has written a lot!

I’ve written two novels this year, one an action/adventure/suspense, and the second one, a straight romance.

Romance is primarily about this: Will the boy and the girl finally get together?

But I’ve found that you can take the girl (me) out of suspense (in order to write a romance story)  but you can’t take the suspense out of the girl. I guess I’ve got suspense in my very DNA because even my sweet romances are filled with self-doubts, threats of danger, and physical adventure.

My stories always begin with a question like this: What would happen if I lost my ability to do what I’ve alway done well, and, in my struggle to recapture that ability, what would I have to endure and/or encounter? My suspense series, Hunting Haven, is all about this. If you like action adventure and suspense but with an inspiring message, you’ll like this series.

Or, it could be: What would I be willing to do to  achieve my dearest wish? What stands in my way?  My sweet Christian romance, High Country Dilemma, is about this. If you love romance in a small mountain town, you’ll like this one.

My next novel, a suspense (not yet published) involves Zara, a godly young woman with the rare gift of healing. Her story is reminiscent of Jonah and his whale. God wants her to heal people, but she runs from her gift. It’s more than inconvenient to be able to heal. Can you imagine the hoards of people knocking down your doors for a chance of being healed? No sir, this isn’t for Zara. She wants a normal life.

Hopefully, I’ll find an agent who likes this weird story.

And here’s a refreshing photo for you. This waterfall is off of highway 20 in North Cascades, WA.

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And finally….he’s back! Rufus, the grey squirrel.

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Rufus wants to raid my bird feeder, but the feeder is squirrel proof.

Rufus doesn’t believe that for one minute. He tries again and again.

First, the feeder is hung off our wall about eighteen inches out, too far for him to reach. And even if he could reach it, his weight presses the sides of the feeder downward, effectively shutting off the openings where the sunflower seeds are stored.

He’s looking at me and looks none too pleased. As if to express his p…ssed off mood, he leaves little brown ‘gifts’ for me all over the banister.

Seriously, I’d like to feed him, but he’s a complete glutton. He’ll eat till his stomach bulges and he can hardly move. and he’ll happily leave no seeds for the birds.

That’s about the extent of the exciting times in the Netherton household during April.

I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Y’all stay safe and healthy!

 

 

The Way Things Were

 

IMG_2355I’m old, but not that old. However, I have memories of growing up that are probably very different from yours if you were born in the 70s, 80s, or beyond.

Recently, on Facebook a friend posted about how our lives were so different during the fifties and sixties. It got me to thinking about my own childhood and adolescence.

How about the following memories: Can you relate?

At home:

Our bedtime was 8:00 pm, strictly enforced. In high school, it was 9:00.

We almost never ate out. It was oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich and an apple or banana for lunch, and a hamburger patty and a green salad for dinner. We rarely had dessert, either.

We watched TV, three channels, black and white, and the programs were almost always westerns and a few variety shows.

We had one phone, a rotary type.

One typewriter. My dad’s. (I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when IBM made the Selectrix in the 70s.

My mother was progressive: we ate whole wheat bread.

My mother made us  hand-write thank you notes, cursive, of course.

We never, and I mean never, sassed our parents. That was unthinkable.

My dad was progressive: he taught me how to make Mulligan Stew, and he made Saturday morning breakfasts.

My family was fairly secular, but we occasionally went to church.

I had to practice my piano for one hour each day, and every piece had to be memorized.

At school:

Our teachers were deeply respected, even feared.

We had PE every day. Yes, every day.

We had penmanship classes. And typing classes in high school.

We always said the pledge of allegiance first class of the day.

In the sixties, we frequently practiced ‘duck and cover.’

No one thought dodge ball was child abuse.

Girls were encouraged to become nurses or secretaries. Boys could be anything they wanted, but if they didn’t do too well in their IQ tests, they were  steered toward a technical college after graduation. Also, when the ice cream joint, Baskin and Robbins first opened, girls weren’t hired because scooping ice cream was considered too strenuous.

College men were paid more for doing the exact same job I performed.  I answered phones and got paid 1.60 per hour. Men got 1.80 for the same job. When I worked in the cafeteria, the supervisor frequently slapped me on the fanny with a plate as he passed my work station.

Bullying did happen, but not nearly like today.

Up until my junior year in high school, girls had to wear dresses. After that, school districts allowed girls to wear slacks, but not jeans.

I could go on an on but I’ll bet you could, too. What do you remember from those days?

 

 

 

The Crazy Lady and the Sales Lady

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Occasionally, I like to check out resale shops for surprise treasures. Today I went to my local shop, looking for a certain type of Asian bowl to replace the one at home that has a big chip in it. Nothing of that sort sat on the stores’s housewares shelf, so I turned to inspect some of the clothing aisles. Just then, a woman’s loud voice made everyone’s heads turn.

There were at least twenty other shoppers in the store—all women— and we all tried to watch but not watch. The angry woman at the check-out counter was berating the clerk and using terrible language, too. I wouldn’t have been more scared if the woman had been replaced by a bison!

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I kept peeking out from behind displays to see if the woman would become violent, praying she didn’t have a weapon. She was right by the only exit I could see and I’m sure none of us wanted to try to slip by her during this altercation. The sales lady informed the woman that the police had been called, which prompted more angry gestures and even worse language. The woman’s two companions tried to steer her out the door, but she was having none of it.

All the shoppers huddled behind displays near the back of the store. And it wasn’t until a police SUV pulled up and the crazy lady, still ranting about her supposed bad treatment, met him in the parking lot. Before I left, I approached the poor sales lady, who had kept a professional demeanor the entire time, and told her how sorry I was that she had to experience that.

I hopped into my car and pulled slowly around the trouble-maker and her two companions still standing in the parking lot, while she gestured and shouted at the policeman.

In retrospect, I hadn’t seen anything that would have made the lady go ballistic. But she was sure she had been singled out for special scrutiny, and it wasn’t fair, and she had always paid for anything she bought in this store and so on. Later, during her harangue, she said she’d never been in this store and why was everybody watching her.

The day before, I had attended an inservice at the Pregnancy Clinic where we had our annual go-through-all-the-government-procedures-and-policies class. One of our sessions covered what to do if a dangerous or angry person comes into the Clinic.

I have to say, the sales lady did everything right. She singled for another clerk in the back to call the police, kept her voice and body language low-key, listened, and spoke respectfully. She stayed behind the counter while gently informing the angry lady that the police would arrive soon.

Good job, Mrs. Sales Lady, I think we could all take lessons from you.

There are two quotations that spring to mind: “Speak softly but carry a big stick (the police).”

The other is from Proverbs: “Angry words stir up strife, but a soft answer turns away wrath.”

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Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts

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