The phrases--“Little foxes spoil the vines” and “the devil is in the details” grabbed my attention this week. Regarding the first one, an author wrote about a pilot who couldn’t fit his tea in the cupholder and turbulence spilled the contents into the control panel, shutting off an engine and consequently cost $300 million to repair---all because a cupholder was too small.  Minor details.  The writer focused his thought around “Little foxes spoil the vines” taken from Song of Solomon where the scripture cautioned lovers to pay careful attention to the finer details of relationship and forgiveness.

“The devil in the details” alludes to a catch or mysterious element hidden in the details including that though something seems/sounds simple when in fact the details are complicated and likely to cause problems" much like that of the spilled tea on the control panel. It comes from an earlier phrase "God is in the details", expressing the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly; that is, details are vitally important.

In adjusting from a two-partner household to a one-person, details have taken on a different hew and importance because Jim--a sensing, hands on person understood, appreciated and enjoyed taking care of physical detail but as I, a strong-in-the-clouds-intuitive, dutifully embrace the mundane, intricate, routine but necessary details.  Each day is full of surprises despite your schedule.

Having dedicated this week to getting IRS figures together, I was eager to begin. Since it’s still dark when I get up, as usual, the first thing I did was flip the switch over the kitchen sink, but no light. So, I quickly commenced removing the bulb, as I had done years ago before Jim left the scene. I took a photo to send to Kay who would be in the area to pick up a replacement. However, another surprise came later that evening when Roger responded to my bulb problem. He was adamant that it was risky for me to have been on the stool. “Why was replacing the bulb such a priority? Couldn’t I have waited for someone else to do that?”  “I never gave that a thought”.  “Mom, is that the only light in your kitchen?” “No, but it’s the one I like.”  He wasn’t moved by my reasoning. “You are the only one there, you could have fallen.” He is right.  “I’ll stay off the stool.”

A few minutes after I removed the bulb, I was eager to get on to my IRS project when I spotted some furry animal moving behind the shed.  “Wonder if that’s a groundhog or a fox”, I said aloud to myself. “No, too furry and way too large for a cat.” I grabbed my phone and cautiously peeked around the shed to discover a raccoon who appeared to be stuck in a metal tomato rack. It was gnawing on a bag of fertilizer and a piece of wood. I took a couple of pictures, then wanted to help it run away. I yelled at it and hit the steel cage with a long stick.  It wasn’t afraid of me, and wasn’t budging.  I took a couple more photos to send to my family. I received several cautions from those who received the photos that I shouldn’t have been that close to a wild animal. “You never know when they’ll attack”, David warned. I didn’t get a passing grade that day.

Then, two days later, details involving a dead car battery gobbled up my writing routine. When a route is closed and the detour determined, those details are usually not met joyfully. I had decided on Details as a subject long before I was subjected to so many. It turns out to have been a good choice.  Again, I’m writing what I need to read. A truck driver/farmer friend submitted his take on details which follows.

There are two tracks regarding details I pursue--one is easy, one is more challenging. The easy track of detail involves established procedures of routine of daily tasks.  In this area, my wife and I are rather neurotic, but we feed off each other so if one is doing one thing, the other is doing another. We do NOT vary and do NOT get behind because the makeup to get ahead is maddening, easy to give up on.

Beds made tight, Floors swept, Trash out, Dishes washed.... immediately, Counters wiped. Blinds up, Thermostat checked, Nightlights off, Dogs fed, Chickens let out. Fire stoked and banked for the day (night); Doors locked. And maybe a dozen or more tasks that must get done every day to run the house in a way that we aren't stressing over.  We like things just so, and because it’s a working farm with lots of dirt, mud and manure, inside is a "sanctuary" and detail is important to us. The challenging details come from new projects or change of season tasks. Woodcutting, grass cutting, coop cleaning, road grading, building new structures or wrecking out old ones, refurbishing, and the like. Many LARGE tasks come as the seasons change or a tree falls on a building or over a lane, etc. The ONLY way we can move forward and keep things running is to address the problem, get it to a working order and "call it good."  An underpinning theme we both follow is ‘It’s not going to get done by itself.’ J

Life is not only a daily series of crises but also consists of one set of details after another. Crises are handled as they occur but details remain on our to-do lists until we take care of them. Details are described: physical, mental, practical, intricate, dumb, stupid, life-savers, time consuming, delicate, delightful, tedious, boring, marvelous and routine.  Add your own. Minute details connect all sizes of events which control and enrich, challenge and lighten. Small details left undone can wreck plans.  Forgetting an ID when flying complicates a vacation and others on both ends.  No one dies, but it’s exasperating. Not as important as one flaw in bridge-building that will one day be revealed. Setting phone call times for sibs and kids enables smooth-moving among myriad details.

Proof-reading emails, another detail many dislike, but time consuming when one has to pole vault over auto-corrections and typos. Forgetting a cell phone with the address of the place of a meeting is a time-consuming detail. Prepared to teach or speak but forgotten glasses and hearing aids jangle emotions.

Flossing – a monotonous detail, but extremely important for our overall health. Removing stitches or staples are not exactly exciting, unless they are ones being removed after surgery. Details are the glue that hold businesses, relationships, projects, medical, entertainment, marriages and families together. My suggestion to Intuitives, especially those who are spontaneous as well, is to count your blessings that you are able to take care of details that don’t seem at the time to be very important but in the long run will make positive contributions to your life and the lives of others

The wise respect the boring details of keeping one’s eye on the gas gauge, speedometer and paying attention to any lit-up icon that a tire is low or the oil light is on. Pianists will agree that playing the scales over and over is boring but exceedingly important just like soloists who chime in with how boring vocalizing is.  Athletes have to be detail-disciplined with weights, exercising, running, etc. A good friend with MS shared that before she can navigate, she has to do many exercises. And teachers and writers acknowledge that filing is last on their list and agree that nothing is more irritating and time consuming than locating a lost file. Check with a financier or bookkeeper about their coping with dozens of details. The end result urges them on. I’ve merely scratched the detail-surface.

The daily shifting of details guarantees that we are engaged in an exciting and challenging journey that is filled with a variety of necessary, interesting, challenging, enjoyable, opportunities to use our initiative, wit, wisdom, expertise and physical ability in the allotted time.

God has given each of us gifts of service, whether rendering kindnesses and helps, technical behind-the-scenes service or one of leadership and/or specialized ability.

14 My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely, 15 Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” The writer addresses the damage done by little foxes that climb over walls and dig out vines in search of grapes…then disappear into the night.  Song of Solomon 2:14-15.

Therefore, stand firm, let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work…because you know your labor in the Lord is not in vain. I Cor. 15:58. (NIV)

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Ecc. 9:10 (NIV)