Thursday, February 23, 2017


In the back room at The Frame Shop where I spend the majority of my day at work, I decorated the walls with a collection of Scott Gustafson's fairy tale prints much to the chagrin of the other girls. They are way too young for someone my age. I need to pretend they are for my granddaughters. But no. They are mine. And I love them.

One of them (above) features Cinderella doing all the work while the birds come and visit her. I once imagined I could be like her. You know. Me, doing all the work and being real pitiful in my martyrdom. And some beautiful birds, inspired by my humility, coming to help me and stuff. And then, one day, BAM! I was indeed like her. Well, I was my sorry-self version of her.

Once Upon a Time in a Far Away Land, on a snowy day, while I was feeling sorry for myself at work, I lamented that if I was home, at least there would be something decent to look at out the window.

Within an hour or two, Dave Roberts, husband-who-likes-me-to-be-at-work, had bought no less than 100 pounds of bird seed and a big metal can to keep it in, as well as a couple feeders. I clapped my hands in delight and spun around the room to soaring music as the sun streamed purple and red from behind a white cloud shaped like a heart.

After that, the next thing I did was go out there in that snow and rig up this complicated mess for the smaller feeder to hang directly outside the window above the work-table where I spend most of my time. I invented what I thought was a spectacularly clever pulley system so my feeder could easily be lowered every single day to refill it because I was just sure I would have a million a birds.

Two or three weeks went by and I was still doing every single bit of the work and still waiting for a bird or two to show up.

One evening, I showed my bird-watching setup to my dear friend Mark Long. Mark is an exceptionally handsome and polite man who fits right in to my fairy tale, so when he said, "Oh. You want to see them really close, don't you?" I looked up at him and we both burst out laughing. Yes. I had interpreted him correctly.

The next day I bought a shepherd's hook and moved my bird feeders about a dozen feet into the yard past the window. Within a few days after that, the birds began to arrive. So did the squirrels.

During the day the birds would eat politely while the squirrels and I developed an increasingly hostile relationship. I'd bang on that window and carry on as long as no one was in the shop, but those squirrels couldn't be routed. I was acting a fool running off squirrels all day... well, running them off a few yards... but each night they would climb that shepherd pole and empty all my feeders. My 100 pounds of bird feed was disappearing quickly.

After our 17-year-old wiener dog, Lucy, passed away in the fall of the same year we put out the feeders, our other wiener dog, Frankie, was so lonely that he started coming to work with me each day. As soon as his new companion was ready to come home with us, we started bringing both dogs to work with us.

This new dog, The Wheeler Byrd, was a wonderful thing. He and Frankie would patrol our back yard here at the shop and keep those squirrels on the run. Our birds didn't mind them much (although the doves who feed on the ground didn't care for them). It was a great system.

Then, when The Byrd was about six months old, I saw him out in the yard with something in his mouth. I ran out to see what he'd gotten. Save us all, it was a bunny rabbit. Later he killed a snake. And after that, another snake.

The Byrd was a killer.

I sense that my fairy tale has derailed. And for the life of me, I can find no moral in this story.

But that's how our tales seems to go. We think we're going in one direction, only to find we're way way way down the road someplace we never even wanted to go.

When I was a little girl, I loved so much all the fairy tales in our collection of Childcraft books. I wanted mostly to be Sleeping Beauty, but even then I understood that that wouldn't be possible for the likes of me. Goldilocks was probably a more likely scenario or maybe even Little Red Riding Hood.

All these decades later... do we really change that much? Don't we still want adventure with safety? Don't we still want goodness to be rewarded and recognized and evil to be either repented of or soundly defeated?

Oh, the grandeur of our dreams when we are young.

And oh, the grandeur of our dreams when we are old.

And oh! For handsome princes who stick around and grow old with us and small little wiener dogs who pull us around by their leashes instead of beautiful white stallions who pull us in a chariot... isn't it a wonderful, magical, beautiful and mysterious world? And oh! For those roads we didn't intend to go down... didn't even know about... what a journey, a magnificent and fabulous journey filled with wonder and awe, prepared for each and every one of us in advance by a loving Father who has his eye even on the sparrow.

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" 1 John 3:1a