Monday, July 29, 2019

The Saga of the Selfish Squirrel

Several months ago, our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter bought us a bird feeder.  It’s quite unique.  It is a solid, plastic plate-like base on which stands a column of bird seed.  (They chose a bird-seed column shaped like an owl!)  Over the top, shielding the entire feeder from rain and unwanted four-legged visitors, is a clear plastic dome.  The entire device hangs from a pole embedded in an open area, away from trees or other small animal hideouts.

They placed it beside our front sidewalk, outside a window where I can watch the bird banquet every day.  It took the birds a while to find it.  A brilliant red cardinal was the first feathered friend to try it out.  He must have passed the word around the bird world because soon he was joined by a dove or two, some sparrows, an occasional woodpecker, and other species we cannot  yet identify.  It’s a delight to watch several birds of different types peacefully eating together.

But trouble was on its way.  I began to notice a squirrel, who normally lives in the trees behind our house, wandering around under the bird feeder picking up the food that had fallen to the ground.  He was gray with a snow white belly and a very long bushy tail that was constantly in motion, and he was FAT.

Apparently he became dissatisfied with eating leftovers and decided he was entitled to eat at the first table.  So this sneaky, selfish four-legged thief began to climb up the near-by shrubs looking for a way to get to the bird feeder itself!  And he found it!

It took several unsuccessful tries, and bone-jarring falls, until he found just the right branch of the near-by shrub to leap from.  At first leap, he only caught the edge of the bird feeder with his front paws with his hindquarters and tail swinging wildly to and fro below the banquet table!  Great was the fall of that would-be thief!

Obviously encouraged by his near-success, he tried again -  and reached his goal in a stable position on his back legs!  He wasted no time in wrapping his left front paw around the neck of the birdseed owl and grabbing huge handfuls of food with his right front paw, stuffing them into his mouth and reaching for another!  Finally, when his mouth could hold no more stolen food, he dropped down to the ground to digest his haul.  Later that afternoon, Bruce cut off the branch of the shrub the squirrel had used as a launching pad!

But the very next morning he was back to his thieving ways.  As I watched I saw that he had discovered an alternative launching branch.  There he was, up in the bird feeder again, almost too fat to fit, greedily stuffing his face with stolen bird food.  That afternoon, the bird feeder was moved to a new location farther away from the shrubs!

Next morning, I watched as that persistent four-legged robber learned how to climb up the support post directly into the bird feeder from below!  Later that morning Bruce made a special trip to the Wild Birds Unlimited store and returned home with a squirrel-stopper device to attach around the post of the oft-robbed bird banquet site!

This morning I almost felt sorry for that persistently selfish squirrel!  That gluttonous, overfed beast had managed somehow to jump or climb to the top of the feeder he had so often robbed.  But he was on the outside of the transparent dome over the birdseed and could not reach it!  All he could do was look and long for another taste!

Now, if there is a moral to this story, I don’t know what it is.  As I sit inside the window limited by my breathing limitations, I have learned a lesson from the antics of this selfish squirrel: No matter how hard you try, how frequently you return to the task, or how creatively you approach the job, there are certain things in life you can’t have!

20 July 2019 - mshr 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Devil's New Disguise

The devil has been around for a long, long time.  Different religious groups picture him differently but the majority consensus is that he is the Supreme Ruler of the powers of evil in our good world.  If we take a serious look at our earth, our environment, and our personal and international relationships, we can clearly see that something keeps them all from goodness and perfection.  For centuries the devil has usually been blamed for all that goes wrong in human life.

One of the most recent images of this Prince of Darkness is as a human-shaped being, bright red in color, who bears two horns on his head, a long pointed tail trailing behind him, and carrying a pitchfork.  But, in the ancient biblical story of Job, a righteous man of the land of Uz, the devil is called Satan and he is part of the heavenly council of God (See Job 1 and 2).  He raises doubts in God’s mind by questioning why Job serves God so faithfully.  God’s response is to give Satan limited permission to destroy Job’s blessings.  After causing Job to lose all his livestock wealth, all his children, and his health, Satan disappears from the story, perhaps to cause evil and suffering in the world in other ways and in other times.

Throughout the Christian scriptures, the devil is consistently portrayed as the power behind evil in the world.  He is called The Tempter, the Father of Lies, the Evil One, the Deceiver and other negative and hateful names.  But he is never depicted as equal in strength or power with Almighty God.

Throughout history, writers have attempted to describe this evil figure.  In the 14th century, Italian poet Dante Alighieri, wrote The Divine Comedy, a lengthy three-part description of “The Inferno” (Hell), “Purgatorio” (Purgatory) and “Paraiso” (Heaven).  He describes Satan as an angel, forced out of heaven when he tried to usurp God’s power.  He is also known as Lucifer and is frozen in ice in the center of the 9th circle of hell, immobile and silent.

Three centuries later, John Milton, an English poet, wrote a ten-volume poem entitled Paradise Lost.  In it he describes Satan (also called Lucifer) as one of several fallen angels who inhabit Pandemonium, the capital city of Hell.  It is the illustrations from this work that picture the devil with wings, a tail, and pitchfork.  Returning to the earth, he disguises himself as a snake and successfully tempts Eve and Adam to eat of the fruit God had forbidden them to use, thus introducing sin into the world.

So, although the Bible does not give us a detailed picture of the devil, it clearly accepts the reality of the evil he causes.  Writers through time, however, have attempted to specifically describe his appearance, his behavior, and his nature.

So, I, too, will offer my image of his new, 21st century disguise.  I think that the devil (the Evil One or whatever you choose to call him) has chopped himself up into millions of tiny pieces.  He has turned many of those tiny bits into cancer cells (or irritants that cause other serious diseases) and has spread those tiny evil cells around, infecting many of my dear and beloved friends as well as many, many strangers!  It seems like every day I hear of another friend or read of someone who has been afflicted by a dreadful disease.  So I can only conclude that “the devil is doing it!”

(ADDENDUM: If the devil has any bits of himself left over after making cancer cells, I’m sure he could sell them to the military industries of many countries.  They could use them as projectile weapons in a new form of germ warfare!)

20 July 2019 - mshr

Thursday, July 18, 2019


A powerful force has invaded my life.
His name is Agent O2.
Invisible, weightless, no odor or taste.
He’s a nuisance, but what can I do?

He’s even changed the way I look,
As a glance in the mirror shows.
A long green tube is attached to my face;
Wherever I go, he goes.

He’s taken control of my schedule, too.
Chopped it up into four hour bits.
When his assistants give me treatments or meds.
Oh, how bitter!  They give me fits.

He’s also cluttered up my house
With a machine and tanks, big and small,
And a tube that stretches from front to back,
Just waiting to cause a fall!

Yes, Agent O2 - my oxygen booster -
Now controls my every minute.
I don’t like him.  But I give thanks for life
And without him, I wouldn’t be in it!