Friday, June 29

Lock Down

The squirrels and chipmunks seem to be back to their unaddicted selves and are not staring glassy-eyed into the house any more, shaking their little fists in the air demanding sunflower seeds. That was an ugly period and I think we are all breathing a little easier.

The raccoons, however are another story. They are tenacious in their pursuit of said seed. I imagine them in a circle around a campfire, drawing elaborate plans in the dirt with a stick, plotting their nightly assaults on the shiny trash can where the ambrosia is securely locked down.

I left you, dear readers, with an image of bungee cords in an intricate web of bondage securing the lid to the top of the can. I was certain there was no way the bandits could get in and slept soundly knowing the sunflower seeds were safe.

Again, I was mistaken! When I returned the next day, I found that rather than chew through the thick rubber bungees, they simply unhooked them from one side of the can, artistically draped them across the top, lifted the lid and had their fill of sunflower seeds. The lid was perched jauntily on the edge of the can like a beret on the head of a Frenchman. My mouth was agape in astonishment. It had taken all my upper body strength to stretch those cords across the lid and hook them to the can. Now I know, raccoons have superior upper body strength to least this human.

There was only one thing left to do...replace the bungee cords with a metal chain. Down to the basement I went and eureka!, I found exactly what was needed and it had a hook no raccoon could master.

Now in our second week of using the metal chain (and isn't it lovely and shiny like the can?) I can happily report that indeed the lid remains securely in place. Not to be outdone, I stopped by the other day and apparently, had not pulled the chain as tight as I could have. The lid was ajar, but only by an inch! I pictured a raccoon with its nose stuck into the opening, huffing sunflower seed aroma and sulking away with an empty stomach.

Yes, all is right with the world. The sunflower seeds are secure but I would swear just yesterday as I walked past the dining room window, I saw a raccoon on its hind legs, banging its little fists on the glass.

Monday, June 18

A Beautiful Awakening

I was gently pulled into consciousness this morning by a soft, steady rain. Rain...Rain! We've been without it for so long, I had nearly forgotten what beautiful music it makes. I bounded outdoors, standing with arms outstretched and face lifted to the heavens filled with pregnant clouds and soaked in every drop. Mocha too welcomed the rain like a long lost playmate, standing in the yard, raising her head and smelling the air, filled with the earthy scent of rain, mixed with dust and parched vegetation.

Sitting now in my comfy chair, birdsong is wafting through an open window along with a cool breeze. First, the distinct cooing of a mourning dove, then more bird voices join in, accompanied by the singing leaves of thirsty trees. Tires on wet pavement, the bark of a surprised chipmunk, the metallic drip off the eaves of the house as gravity beckons the rain home.

The rain is beginning to slow and soon will stop. I hope cool breezes remain as we take a cleansing breath, laden with moisture, deep into our core. I am grateful for the gentle awakening, to not have missed this early morning respite from the heat and drought, this communion with creation.

Saturday, June 16

It Doesn't End Here

Behold! A well thought out plan to nourish our fine-feathered friends and invoke prohibition on sunflower seed consumption in Cheatham County (at least by squirrels and chipmunks.)

This would appear to be a perfect setup, correct?

Not so much.

Do kindly read on...

Not two days later, I sauntered around the corner to find that the bungee cord had in GONE! I eventually found a 2-inch piece on the deck with the hook attached. Upon close inspection, there was a clean, even cut across the rubber, as if severed by a knife or very large, very sharp teeth. The lid was still snugly atop the can, so a new bungee cord was fastened in place and I skipped off without a care in the world.

Several days pass and I haven't given a single thought to a squirrel, chipmunk, sunflower seed or bungee cord. Passing by later in the week, I stop in to see if the feeders need to be filled. Imagine my utter dismay, when I walk up the path and around the corner to find the lid to the trash can on the deck, a significant amount of sunflower seeds missing in the can and the presence of what I can only guess were deposits of raccoon poo at the base of the can. Bungee cord...nowhere in sight. the squirrels and chipmunks have hired Rocky Raccoon, notorious bandit, to break into crack heaven. I'm sure you've seen his picture at every rest stop in every national park on your cross country vacation. Now I know what I'm dealing with...a skilled thief that demonstrates amazing feats of dexterity with his little paws.

This means war! Armed with two bungee cords, I put that lid into a state of bondage that would make you blush...

Wednesday, June 13

Now, I'm Baffled

Mr. Squirrel chillin' after rehab

Where were we...oh yes! Our furry friends have just returned from rehab, clean and sober. I'm sensitive to their needs, they forgive me for dosing out the tough love and all is right with the world. I'm so sensitive in fact, it occurs to me that the sunflower seeds need to be moved from the Main Retreat House to the Dorothy Day Cottage in the woods, where a brand new bird feeder has been installed, complete with one made especially for sunflower seeds.

A wonderful volunteer carts the new shiny metal trash can, sunflower seeds and sturdy bungee cord to the cottage. On my daily walk to the lake, I stop by the cottage to check on the new set up. Triumph! The trash can is in its place, bungee cord undisturbed. Chalk one up for the human! But wait a minute, what's this...the bird feeder is askew on the pole, as if it's been spun around like a square dance Pauline in petticoats. Needless to say, the feeder is empty of the two and half pounds of sunflower seeds that had been there the day before.


Hmmm...what to do? Purchase a squirrel baffle. Yes, there is such a thing and it's designed to keep the squirrels from climbing the pole and eating all the birdseed. to the store to purchase a squirrel baffle, install it and all our problems will be solved. Right?
Not so fast...

Tuesday, June 12

Thinkin' Like a Squirrel Can Make You Nuts

It all started 6 weeks ago. Squirrels chewed a hole in the top of the plastic trash can that holds the birdseed. I covered the hole, they chewed another hole, this time bigger. Some loudmouth told the chipmunks and they started a parade, night and day, to the trash can. I covered the bigger hole, every squirrel and chipmunk in Cheatham County lined up in the night and made plastic mulch out of the remains of the trash can lid.

I'm human...I can outsmart squirrels and chipmunks...yes?

Enter two shiny new metal trash cans with heavy lids that fit snugly and a bungee cord...just for good measure or to add insult to decide.

The little sunflower crackheads went crazy. Literally making their daily pilgrimage to the site of the previous trash can, only to find themselves cut off from the gravy train. So what did they do you ask? Sat there, barking, staring at the shiny new trash can. Some pulled little squirrel slide rules out of their backpacks and began calculating exactly how much pressure per inch it would take to release said bungee cord and pop the lid to crack heaven.

They went away...for a day. Then they returned, sweaty, nervous, pacing up and down the hand rail outside the dining room window. I'd walk by and they'd just be sitting there, staring into the window, begging me to hook them up. I threw my head back, letting loose the superior laugh of one with opposable thumbs.

Sitting at my desk working away the next morning, I hear a loud THUD and the sound of little squirrel toenails sliding down the window, like nails on a chalkboard. The little bastards were THROWING THEMSELVES AT THE HOUSE!

I carted the little critters off to detox (about the same time as Britney) and life pretty much returned to normal at the retreat center.

or so I thought....

Tuesday, June 5

This is Why I Sing

I sing with this amazing group of people. We are a family...complete with family dynamics, but when one of us goes down, we rally. This year, not one but two members of the Alto Section were diagnosed with breast cancer.

They've been through treatment and last Sunday, were both back singing with the Chorus. The Alto Section is whole again, minus a breast and sporting some wicked radiation burns, but again whole.

When you shoot radiation into the body, it can't be contained to the cancer cells alone. Like a pervasive weed, it spreads and weakens the landscape around it. Take lungs for example. When you shoot a breast full of radiation, it weakens the lungs, aggravates all the tissue holding the ribs and sternum together. End result, it hurts like hell to breathe. Breathing is important when you's the foundation from which music is born.

Imagine then, radiated lungs and a desire to sing, two rehearsals remaining before the season finale concert and a strong-willed Alto. She wants to sing...she wants to live...we want that for her too.

How can this be done? Simple...we rally around her, sing to her, teach her the music until she's strong enough to sing it herself, standing on her two very determined feet.

This is why we sing, why we lift our voice, why we stand as one in harmony.
This is why we sing, why we lift our voice, take my hand and sing with me.
Join us at 7:30 PM on June 23rd for our Change the World Season Finale Concert and witness for yourself the healing joy music can bring to one person, one community and the world.

Scraps of Wisdom.15

"People have to choose for themselves how they will be in the world."