Australian Shepherd


Here’s a sequel I didn’t see coming. Not so soon, at least. And, after all our recent trials and tribulations, it’s nice to write this piece. Remember, it’s day by day. We were just trying to figure out how to say goodbye to Bishop aka Bubba, our beloved Australian Shepherd. That was two days ago.

In our last piece, Bubba was struggling to move around and clearly in lots of pain. We figured it was a combination of  muscle damage and arthritis. He was staying downstairs to avoid the stairs which obviously were too much for him. The vet didn’t have much to say except try to make Bubba as comfortable as possible. It didn’t look good.

Bubba has been getting slow walks outside, to get some air and do his business. He didn’t seem interested in joining the other three dogs in our front yard which is reserved for them.  I cajoled and enticed him to no avail. I even got down on my knees and barked at him. Nothing! He just didn’t want to hang with the other furry kids and bark at things, real and imagined. That was yesterday.


Today, so far, is bright, sunny and warm. A good day to be outside for folks, two and four-legged. I sent the three little kids, Bonnie, Nan and Amber outside to play and closed the doggie door. Marilyn suggested Bubba might be interested. I didn’t think so based on the past two days. But, what the heck, give it a shot, right?

I led Bubba out the downstairs door and out to the driveway. Didn’t expect much. I turned around and he was right on my heels. Wow! I opened the gate to the front yard and, before I could say anything, Bubba raced by me and joined his pals. I couldn’t believe it. The little ones greeted Bubba with cheery barks and they began looping the yard with fresh energy.

I’m not sure how the day will end for Bubba. Marilyn has just suggested I bring him in so he doesn’t overdo things. I’ll do that. But, at least, for one bright April afternoon, our Bubba is doing okay. We’ll take that, One day at a time!



There was a very poignant post on Facebook today showing police officers bidding farewell to one of their own, a K-9 partner. You could see the sadness in the eyes of the otherwise stoic law officers. It struck home.

One of our furry kids is in a bad place. The big dog, the affable enforcer in our canine family which includes a Scottie, a Norwich Terrier and a mini Dachshund. We call him Bubba because of his lovable personality. He’s our big, huggable Australian Shepherd.

Painfully shy when he came to live with us, he has gradually become part of our family, both human and 4-legged. Bubba used to be afraid of his shadow, but Bonnie, our unflappable Scottie — ring-leader of the fur people, took Bubba under her wing. Bonnie made it clear shyness doesn’t get you anywhere in our family. It certainly doesn’t get you attention. More importantly, it doesn’t get you those extra biscuits.

Bubba learned. He learned so well he began showing up in my office as I worked on my first cup of coffee in the morning. Not my best time of day.

Bubba’s finest moment came recently when Marilyn was taking pictures. Bubba wasn’t in the shot, but decided he wanted to be included. He just poked his head into the shot making it clear he wasn’t going to be left out of the festivities. Bubba had arrived!

We have a lot of strong personalities in the house. We’re not camera-shy or modest. Bubba made it clear he wanted billing above the title in our family soap drama.

dogs with bishop and gar

Something went wrong in the last couple of weeks. Bubba, not the most agile of dogs, has taken several tumbles on the stairs. We thought he had shaken them off but we were wrong. Bubba sustained a back injury while simultaneously has been developing his own serious case of arthritis. Arthritis is something of a plague in this household. Quite literally, everyone’s got it.

Now he’s dragging his rear end. The stairs are impossible for him. It’s painful to watch our big guy struggle to move around. Marilyn says big dogs are more prone to this kind of injury than small ones.The vet says there’s nothing to be done for him but to give him pain-killers and make him as comfortable as possible. Maybe he’ll get better. We can hope.


Bubba is now living downstairs with the junior members of our family. He is actually their dog even though we feel he belongs to all of us. Bubba is still eating well and responds quickly to offers of biscuits. But something is different. It’s clear his energy is sapped. He moves slowly. Hard to believe, but we miss his baying at the moon and those furtive three o’clock in the morning shadows.

It’s about quality of life. Some family members are hoping for a miracle. We’ve all been down this road before. It’s not about us or our feelings. Saying goodbye will be difficult and we’ll hold off on it as long as we can. But, in the end, it’s about Bubba.



Bishop, our Australian Shepherd is possibly the most beautiful Aussie I’ve ever seen. From nose to rump (he has no tail) he’s magnificent. Okay, he isn’t necessarily the smartest of his breed but he may be the sweetest. He’s loving. Passionate even.


If you look him in the eyes, all sixty pounds of gigantically furry pooch will be in your lap and licking you to death before you can say “No, Bishop, you’re too BIG!”



Biscuits have arrived. Bonnie getting ready. Note the giant jaws.

Biscuits have arrived. Bonnie getting ready. Note the giant jaws.

I can be accused of many things, but a lack of tenacity or determination? No way. I do not give up. I don’t give up even when it’s obvious I don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell. I don’t give up when I’m bleeding on the floor and the referee is about to say 10. You get the idea. I’m tenacious. Stubborn to the point of stupid.

And so, displaying the gritty determination that has so irritated friends, colleagues and family members throughout the years, I set out to get some better pictures of our two terriers. And any other dog that might amble into the picture because around here, you just never know.

Nan has sniffed the biscuits. This also makes Garry happy.

Nan has sniffed the biscuits. This also makes Garry happy.

I did not get classic canine portraits, but these are the funniest pictures of dogs I’ve ever taken.  It’s also a great example of why I don’t put a lot of time into trying to get great shots of the furry family members. As a note, if I’d turned off the lamp, I wouldn’t have that bright flourescent yellow cast in the picture, but hey … given all the other issues, what’s a bit of yellow, huh?

Tired of being overlooked (and finished with HIS biscuit), Bishop joins the party.

Tired of being overlooked (and finished with HIS biscuit), Bishop joins the party.

Good Morning, Good Morning, To You (And You And You And You)

Every morning, as I limp down the hallway from the bedroom to the kitchen, no matter how stiff I am with arthritis, no matter how poorly I’ve slept, as soon as I get to the kitchen, my heart becomes lighter.


“Good morning, fur children,” I chirp. They woof and growl and gambol and pant. They know it’s cookie time for the canine contingent, but coffee time for me.


I make a brief detour to turn on the coffee pot. Priorities.

Mr. Coffee

There’s no more time to waste. Eager faces surround me as I approach the huge dog biscuit container on the table in the corner. It’s shaped like a giant dog biscuit — lest I forget.  The dogs , with their acute senses of smell, are more than aware of where to find the biscuits. Eyes not required.

They know my hands are the true source of all biscuits, so they watch me with their eyes. Excitement mounts.


Bishop is an Australian Shepherd. Lacking sheep, he stares at me, with the apparent objective of engendering guilt. It works pretty well. He is also Bonnie’s love slave.

Then there’s Nan, the Norwich Terrier. Nan stares, but adds sound effects. Grunts and agonized moans. She’s starving she says. She hasn’t eaten in … minutes. She will repeat this performance whether she is still chewing the biscuit she just got or it’s been a whole night since her last treat.


And last, but not at all least, there’s Bonnie. She bounces up and down, bounds around the kitchen like a mad thing, twirling and spinning, yapping and prancing. She’s young and full of joie de vivre. Shortly, she will be full of biscuits.


They all believe if they don’t remind me, I will forget them and their cookies. These dogs have never missed a treat or a meal in their lives but you’d never guess it.

The sun streaks in through the windows, the smell of coffee fills the room. Joyous gurgling and crunching from the furry ones and I’m off to the office to check my email and see what surprises the night has brought. Another day is begun.

Happy morning to all!

Super Bowl of Dogdom: Westminster, Part II

Its day two, and we are not going to miss a thing. It’s our version of the Superbowl, the Westminster Kennel Club show.

Last night’s results were:

An American Foxhound in the Hound group.

Non-sporting went to a Bichons Frises.

The Affenpinscher as the toy group winner.

 In the Herding Group, the Old English Sheepdog won (yay).

Now for tonight’s winners.

For Sporting Dogs, the winner was one of my favorites and it’s the first time the breed has taken the group. It’s the Pointer (German Wirehaired), a handsome dog with a great face. Not a dog for everyone, it’s one of the dogs that needs a job. Failing a job, they will make their own job … redoing your landscaping, reupholstering your furniture, replacing your wiring.

In the Working group, to many peoples’ surprise, the winner was Portuguese  Water Dog. It that because the President has one? It was a come from behind win … the Doberman Pinscher was favored and I think was really the better dog. But at this level, they are all great dogs.

The Terriers were up next, and we had a lot of fuzzy faces to root for here. Of course we hoped for one of our kids, a Scottie or a Norwich, but it was Smooth Fox Terrier — a fine dog with a lot of attitude. Terriers are the ultimate “attitude” group and are not called “terrorists” for nothing.

And then finally, it’s time for best in show. For those of you that love dogs and haven’t seen the movie, “Best In Show,” see it. It’s funny and it hits the nail on the head. The crazy, hyper competitive world of dogs. Showing dogs is a sport, something that people forget, and those that compete in it are as competitive as players in any other sport. The dogs are competitors too. Don’t believe for a moment that you force a dog to be a good show dog. A dog that doesn’t like being shown, that doesn’t play to the judge and the crowd is not going to do well. These dogs are having a grand time.

And it’s Banana Joe (GCH Slyfox Sneak’s A Peek), the Affenpinscher who clearly does not consider himself a small dog. Lots of attitude, with Bugaboo’s Picture Perfect, the Old English Sheepdog as reserve winner (the first time they’ve had a reserve winner at Westminster). They were clearly the crowd’s two favorites and apparently the judge agreed.

And that’s it for another year. Time to give a few biscuits to our kids because they are Best in Show around here!

Super Bowl of Dogdom: Westminster, Part I

Our version of the Superbowl, tonight is the first night of the Westminster Kennel Club show. This is our event. I’ve been watching Westminster since I was a kid and except for years when I lived overseas, I’ve never missed it.

And the first night’s results are in.

It was an American Foxhound in the Hound group. It may have surprised others, but I thought that it was about time of one of the smooth coated pack hounds won, though in my heart, I was rooting for the PBGV because I love the breed. They slid in at number three in the group, which is okay.

Non-sporting went to a Bichons Frises, which was no surprise. I didn’t even have to see the group to figure a Bichon or Standard Poodle would probably win. One of the two usually do. They are flashy and as a friend of mine said, it is so often all about the coat.

I liked the Affenpinscher as the toy group winner. I was very glad it wasn’t another Peke. I admit I am not particularly fond of them. I prefer dogs who can actually move. 

In the Herding Group, I always hope one of the big, solid hard-working dogs like a Bouvier or one of the Belgians will win because although they aren’t flashy, they work for a living. The herding group are all workers.

These are the dogs who guard our homes, manage and protect flocks of cattle and sheep, find buried people, work with police and are among the most loyal dogs. My husband was especially happy with the winner, the Old English Sheepdog. It’s among his favorite dogs. As soon as I saw the look on the judges face when he looked at the dog, I knew it was going to be him. The judge clearly liked that dog. He had an “awww” look. So did we.

Tomorrow will be our favorite group, the Terriers as well as the Working and Sporting dogs and of course, Best In Show. And we will be firmly ensconced in front of the television, surrounded by our spoiled dogs, rooting for our favorites.

Pass the popcorn, please.


Does it really suck?

Buying a vacuum cleaner when you own pets, especially long-haired dogs or cats, is a big deal. Normal people go to a store and buy a vacuum cleaner.  Almost any reasonably good machine will do the job and last for years.

NanFor pet owners and especially for those of us who have more than a few pets, in our case dogs, buying a vacuum cleaner is a major life event, potentially a life-altering event. For us, pet hair is not a sidebar: it’s the central theme of life. During shedding season, which for long-haired breeds is all year — though much worse from late summer through autumn — the house looks like someone slashed open a cushion and spread the stuffing everywhere. Vacuuming is a massive undertaking performed daily. Failing to vacuum for a couple of days might make the house a candidate for condemnation and/or a Hazmat team.

When our Australian Shepherd is blowing his coat, no amount of vacuuming is enough. Everything is covered in fur. Note the main difference between purebred and mixed breed dogs is that purebreds “blow their coats” while mixed breeds simply “shed.” The results are identical, but it sounds classier for purebreds.

Nov 2012

Many long-haired breeds are bred to have huge coats and most owners who aren’t showing their dogs clip them.  Even clipped, there’s still an awful lot of fur. We adopted our Aussie; he had been a show dog … and the absolutely heaviest coated Aussie I’ve ever seen. All of that coat falls out annually. You can comb and brush him daily; there’s always more. The volume is astonishing. No mixed breed dog could generate such a gigantic mess. I always swore I would never own a dog with that much fur. I’ve turned down free pups and full-grown show dogs because they had too much fur. I had a breeder beg me to take one of her Samoyeds. He was gorgeous and a champion, only 8 months old … if I was willing to bathe and groom him myself.

I was young and hardy then. But I looked at him and I said, NO. A large (he was bigger than most Samoyeds), snow-white dog with a coat designed to withstand an arctic winter? I love dogs, but not that much. Yet despite more than forty years of dodging that particular bullet, I still wound up with a dog that sheds enough fur to carpet the world in hair. Somehow, I lost focus long enough to adopt him … and here we are, up to our eyeballs in fur.

If you happen to own (for example) a Great Pyrenees, a Sheltie, an Australian Shepherd (think Collie without a tail), anything that looks like Lassie, a sled dog (any sled dog including mixes), an Old English Sheepdog (possibly THE worst of all, being triple-coated), a long-haired St. Bernard  (the list goes on), you are permanently in search of a better vacuum cleaner. It’s a mission.  

Thus the purchase is an event requiring consultation, discussion and complex negotiations. What are the parameters? First and foremost, that baby has to suck. You want a machine that will pull the wall to wall carpeting off the floor, pull the cushions off the sofa and try to eat the draperies.

You have to balance the percent of carpeting versus hardwood flooring, number of stairs, weight, portability, how hard is it to clean it out because pet hair really clogs the works and finally, price. If you don’t keep clearing it, no vacuum will survive long. You quickly learn that small, light machines are a waste of money. If it doesn’t have a bag, anything other than a small hand vac will die in short order. You need power. You need a bag. You need strength of character, the understanding that you are going to have to deal with filth and lots of it. You need amperage, determination and above all, you need sucking power. Nothing can be too powerful. Your budget determines the limit, so within what you can manage, you try to get the best sucker available.

Bagless machines are weenies. We multiple pet owners need bags. Big ones.

The terriers don’t shed much. The short-haired dachshund doesn’t shed much. The Aussie sheds enough for 10 normal dogs and in the fall, it’s indescribably awful. Every morning, the house is covered in fur, great gobs of is. Huge piles of it cover the rugs, floor, and sofas. It infests the upholstery, adheres to the drapes, forms giant cobwebs that make your house look like the Adams family redux.

We’ve burned out two vacuum cleaners in less than a year, both bagless. This time, we bought a Hoover Commercial Portapower Vacuum Cleaner, 8.3 Lbs, Black. Typical five-star reviews say stuff like “This little commercial vacuum cleaner is one of the best buys out there. I can clean up Great Pyrenees hair with ease and empty out the bag and start over again without clogging up the vacuum like other machines I have killed with dog hair.” This customer understands our needs.

AmberWill will also need an upright to deal with rugs? Probably, but affording ONE machine was hard enough. A second will have to wait until next month at the very least.

I really hope this machine seriously sucks.

Just Another Day

I have a morning routine that rarely varies except for an early appointment, something I try hard to avoid.

I wake up. I lay there a while, contemplating if there’s any chance I can go back to sleep. I can’t. I never can, so I don’t know why I keep trying. Hope springs eternal.

I brush my teeth, throw some clothing on. Grabbing the telephone and cell, I cross the hall to my office put the phones on the desk, look to see if anything needs to go to the kitchen. I gather yesterday’s coffee mug and any dishes and head to the kitchen. Down the hallway, I open the gate that keeps the dogs out of places I don’t want them going unsupervised. They greet me. I greet them. They are extremely glad to see me, and act like they haven’t seen me for years rather than a few hours. A biscuit is coming, oh boy, a biscuit and if they can manage to be extra cute, maybe two. They know my routine better than I do and can hear me as soon as I stir in the bedroom.

Mistress of perversity that I am, I make them wait. I go to the sink, put mugs, dishes, glasses, etc. and wash them. The dogs are going nuts by now. I push the button on the coffee machine. The reassuring sound of coffee beginning its drip through the coffee into the canister begins.

“You want biscuits? You want biscuits, do you?”

Pant pant moan yip grumble. Woof. Yowl. Grrrumble.

Each dog has his or her own special little sound to indicate how very much a biscuit would improve their morning and how starving they all are. Bishop, an Australian Shepherd who lacks a tail, wags his entire rump with excitement, tongue lolling. Bonnie hops around like a messy black pogo stick and Nan grumbles loudly and tries to eat my fingers. I give a medium-size tasteless dry biscuit to Bishop and a tiny one to each of the terriers. They are ecstatic. I, like most dog owners, have tasted a bit of one of these biscuits and they are completely tasteless and incredibly dry. But the dogs act like it’s caviar. They will perform tricks for them, and if it makes them happy, who am I to argue?

Is there enough coffee yet ? Nope, not yet. When I turn around, I am engulfed by dogs. I’m just a stupid human and probably don’t remember that I already gave them biscuits. I discuss the issue with them at some length, and sometimes, they wangle a second biscuit … not that they really need one, but they are awfully cute.

I get a clean mug, put sweetener and half-and-half in it, and go look in the living room to see just how much of a mess they’ve made. Usually the entire room is covered with Bishop’s fur. He’s blowing his coat now, so it’s worse than usual, but it’s always bad. He has a heavy coat and seems to lose an amount of fur equivalent to one small dog per day this time of year. The rest of the year, it’s only half that much. If it’s really horrendous, I grab the special pet hair vacuums in which I invested not long ago and try to clean up a bit so Garry won’t have to do it when he finally gets up.

By then, coffee is done. Into a cup, off to the office, followed by a parade of dogs. I never go anywhere unaccompanied. I am always leading a parade of canines who feel I shouldn’t be allowed to go to the bathroom without supervision.

It was such a pretty morning. The sun was up and it was that yellow amber you see only in the middle of October in New England. It makes everything glow … barring rain. No rain this morning. Nice. We have had a lot of rain recently. So, instead of pouring myself that cup of coffee, I go back to the office and grab the camera. I love the way the light looks as it comes into the windows in the morning so I have to take a few pictures, even though  they will probably look identical to all the other pictures I’ve taken of the same windows. No matter. You never know when you just might strike gold and one of them will be something special. Then I hobble down the stairs to the front yard. My arthritis doesn’t begin to loosen up for an hour or two after I get up, but the light is not going to wait.

The woods on our property is usually uninteresting — even in October — consisting mostly of bronze oak trees. This year for some reason, many oaks have turned brilliant yellow and some have sections of scarlet … most unusual. I roam the northern edge of our property, then into the back yard shooting east toward the morning sun. I’ve been trying to capture a particular quality of light as it filters through the leaves. I’ve been trying to capture this for more than 40 years. I’m still at it. Maybe you can’t capture it except with your eyes. I’ll never give up trying.

Back into the house and out to the deck, where I have a higher angle to work from and can also shoot south and high up into the east woods.

Down from the deck, through the yard, in through the front door … and three of the fur children are waiting at the top of the stairs, completely blocking my path. They love doing this because their heads and mine are at the same level as I come upstairs. They think this is the best game in the world and get crazed with excitement anytime anyone comes up from the lower level. This happens quite a few times on any given day, but for them, it never gets old. I take a few pictures. Blurry, of course, because they are in motion, but maybe one or two won’t be useless. I’d use flash, but they hate it and will instantly vanish if I use it. Worse, they actually know when I pop the flash up and will run before I fire off a single shot.

That’s the story of today’s picture gallery and a snapshot of my world.

There are too many pictures to use them all today, but over time, I’ll probably post all of them. Every photograph was taken no more than a few yards from the house, and all on our own property.

The sun went behind clouds just a few moments after I finished shooting, so it’s just as well I didn’t wait.

Coffee time! And photo editing time, too. Another day has begun.

Dawgz and Treez

October and even our own trees are bright with the glow of autumn. If only I could get the dogs to stay still and not stick their noses into the lens. Oh well. I got two out of three: Nan, Bonnie (the black mop) and Bishop, the big furball Aussie.

Danger Dogs

We spent Labor Day quietly. Both son and daughter-in-law were working, and The Granddaughter had her own friends over. At 16, they have their own social lives, and probably that’s the way it ought to be. So youngest generation had their own barbecue and they would have cooked for the Old People, but it was too early for me and Garry. I cooked our food later. No problem.

Terriers on duty. Nan and Bonnie stand guard.

Without communal festivities, I was left with time on my hand. It was a nice day. Too nice to not least venture outside and give my camera a bit of exercise. I decided, against all logic and reason, to try getting some pictures of the dogs.

Bishop on guard!

You’d think, with four dogs I’d be able to catch a few good pictures, but my dogs have a sixth sense. The moment I turn the camera on, they are all over me, licking and jumping. If they would stay back far enough so I could at least focus, I might get a few pictures that look like dogs, but all I get are nose smudges as they press their big black noses against the front of the lens or  great shots of the rear ends of the retreating canines.

Nan guards house and home.

And people ask me why I use a filter to protect my lens! Welcome to my world.

Bonnie the Bold

With nothing to lose, I tried something new: shooting through the front gate.

See our dangerous dogs? Beware. Do not carry hamburgers in the presence of canines!

Meet our pack of Dangerous Dogs, shown here in their natural habitat. If their obvious fierceness fails to intimidate you, be careful. You never know what they’ll do if they smell cheeseburger on your breath.

I don’t care what you say. I’m damned proud to be…

 I have to preface this with a story. It has absolutely nothing to do with the intent of this post, but it’s true and I wish I’d had the wit to record it. In this post, I have included two hymns I love: Simple Gifts and Amazing Grace. I was just about to call it a night and toddle off to bed  (it’s after 2AM), but decided to play Amazing Grace one more time. I couldn’t resist the chance to sing along. The moment I began to sing, all four of my dogs began to sing with me. Trust me, there is nothing quite like a chorus consisting of Judy Collins and her chorus, me, and four dogs: one dachshund, a large shaggy Australian Shepherd, a Scottie, and one puzzled Norwich Terrier who is just discovering her voice — I believe this is the first time she has joined the choir. In addition to being deafening, it was absolutely hilarious, a perfect commentary from my very own furry peanut gallery. If I was feeling excessively proud of my literary efforts, the dogs put me firmly in my place!

Pride is not a virtue. It also makes you stupid.

If you are proud to be a Christian, proud to be an American, proud of being righteous, you are a contradiction in terms and a sinner to boot. So there.

I’m not sure I believe in sin, but I do believe in right and wrong, good and evil. Is pride sinful? If you believe in sin, yes it is. But even if you don’t, pride confers a sense of privilege and superiority that is never justified.

Thrown out of Heaven for the sin of pride. Oops. That first step was a long one.

Pride evaporates free will. Proud people are poor listeners and make bad decisions for the wrong reasons.

Pride makes you think you are in control of your world when you’re not. I’ve said it before: We are passengers on the bus, not the driver. We control nothing but our pride makes us believe we are in control … so long as the bus is traveling where we want to go. When it veers off in another direction, we are devastated.

Being on the bus that is life gives us a choice: we can enjoy the ride and the company of other passengers, or shout imprecations at the driver for failing to take us where we planned to go. Trust me. It won’t help. Your world will be better if you sit back and relax. It may not be the trip you planned, but it’s the only one you’ve got.

How can something that feels so good be wrong? Damn, but pride feels great.

It brings down kings and emperors. It has caused the collapse of corporations, nations, and empires. It caused Lucifer to be ejected from Heaven. Pride got human beings kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Rather more recently, it brought down Roger Clemens and Richard Nixon. All they had to do was own up to their bad behavior, but they were too proud and down they went.

Pride keeps nations in wars they can’t win for decades, destroying entire cultures and costing tens of thousands of lives. Pride blinds you to the truth about yourself, your country, your leaders.

Pride of country, pride of family, pride in ones importance, talents and abilities: In what ways do these improve the world or your life? The prouder you are, the harder you’ll fight to keep that pride intact, defying logic and reason. Pride makes you misjudge situations and people, distorts your ability to distinguish right from wrong, and muffles the voice of your conscience. It makes you greedy, arrogant, easy to manipulate, and self-destructive. It has the same effect on nations.

Medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas called Pride “inordinate self-love (that) is the cause of every sin (1,77) … the root of pride is found to consist in man not being … subject to God and His rule.”

Are you still standing proud?

Pride is defined as an excessive belief  in one’s own abilities and by extension, in the righteousness of ones causes, the rightness of ones country, the value of ones self or work, the importance of ones family. It interferes with our ability to recognize the grace of God. When Jesus said “the meek shall inherit the Earth,” he meant what he said. He didn’t make any exceptions for patriots, rich folk, or Republicans.

Pride is insidious, the sin from which all others arise. Unlike other sins which are obviously wicked or downright icky, pride feels so right, so good, so true. If you are proudly defending your country, you are already in trouble. By definition.

One afternoon when I was living in Jerusalem, a friend of mine and I climbed up on the parapets of the ruins of a Crusader castle on the southern edge of the city. It offered a fabulous view of the old Roman road that winds up the mountain past Hadassah Hospital.

I said to my friend: “They built these castles and they are just piles of stone. Where are the Romans, the Crusaders now?”

“Oh,” she said, “You know where they are. They are exactly where we will be in a few centuries. Dead and forgotten.”

I rest my case.