Squirrels Are Not Messing with These Pots!

This year I selected drought tolerant plants for the panoply of pots I tactically place in the flowerbeds. And I have been carefully tending them – remembering that even Texas succulents need water. (Drought Tolerant) What I don’t get is why some portulacas flourished and some withered. Indeed, why one pot of pentas transplanted into a bed bloomed, and why one shriveled up.

It might have something to do with the squirrel repellent Doug used: fox urine. Success: it looks like the squirrels are not burying any treasures in the pots! And I am giving the backyard a wide berth too on all these hot sunny days – for the critter cure is potent!

Expressing my opinion, sharing another’s links, or hitting the send button too soon is a bit like an enthusiastic use of varmint deterrents – I may succeed in making my point, but I have offended big-time the very people with whom I want to stay in touch! Something may be spot on, funny, or enlightening but its shock value may totally cancel out its message.

Technology makes it too easy for me to offer opinions too quickly I haven’t thought through carefully.

If I’m reluctant to bring up a topic in your living room, should I bring it up in the electronic family room that Facebook is? Should I send an e-mail with TMI?

I can strain these electronic relationships, like I did, several years ago in a conventional living room.

Early in our marriage, Doug and I were invited to dinner at the home of friends he had known before he knew me. Toward the end of the evening as we sat around the hosts’ living room, chitchatting about general concerns, the conversation touched on controversial issues.

I refused to moderate my opinions, even after the host tried to end the conversation, politely.

I knew I was a guest, but I believed I had the right to press my point of view. This was a time before I learned that like Job’s friends, holding my peace might have made me look smart! (Job 13:5) No, I was too full of myself. So ignoring the host’s hint was easy.

I was just getting started with a forthright, heartfelt explication of the more reasonable position — mine, of course, — when I glimpsed my husband’s strangled expression. Finally, I desisted, but the damage was done, and they never invited us back.

That night, I learned one of life’s little lessons, I knew but hadn’t mastered: Freedom of expression in someone else’s living room is not a constitutional right. It is a privilege. A wise guest does not disparage or dismiss out of hand other’s sensibilities. Nor does a friend, a parent, a spouse, or a writer.

This bit of wisdom is still too easy for me to forget when I find link after link that reinforces all my preconceptions! And when I am all fired up and writing what I think will be the world’s best blog about this or that world crisis, I can rattle on and forget to think about how a reader is measuring my words.

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:6)

Using words to change people’s minds is an extraordinary opportunity – speaking or writing so that minds meet, and souls are not repelled, but edified, is not a common talent. I think Jane Austen succeeded; so did Harper Lee.

What author do you admire for getting across hard truths, and keeping the reader’s heart and mind engaged?


How do you keep your audience in mind when speaking or writing?


You might like an older blog piece:

Me and My Big Mouth


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