GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL!

Uxbridge’s jail is part of the old city hall and in this century, it’s a storage area. At home, we have our own prisoners. Four furry internees.

dog prisoners in garden

I would let them run free if it weren’t for nasty old Rt. 98 at the top of the driveway. There isn’t a  LOT of traffic, but cars come around our blind (and reverse-banked) curve too fast. We have more fatal accident on our little stretch of road than anywhere else in the area … known as “death alley” to the cops. Motorcycles, cars, and once Garry nearly bought the farm when he and a telephone pole got too intimate. What chance does a dog stand?

I don’t know why they never run the OTHER way, into the woods where there are 75+ acres of trees and meadow — and no motor vehicles. But they always head for the road.

The “Beware of Dog” sign isn’t because they are dangerous, but because the world is dangerous to them. It’s to prevent delivery people from opening the gate thus letting free the incarcerated doggies.

They are getting older and aren’t as frisky or fast as they were. But even old Nan can hit the driveway running in a mad sprint of death. It’s not good for my heart. If I chase them (which in any case, I can’t do), they run away because “chase me” is a classic doggy game and they love it! I have to stay calm, call them back with biscuits — before they become road kill.

My heart is in my mouth the entire time they are loose, so they will remain prisoners of love. Not so terrible. Not such a cruel life, with their 24/7 doggy door and sofas for beds … and far too many biscuits.

CHRISTMAS FROM THE OUTSIDE

Being a non-observant Jew is effectively no religion. It isn’t like being an atheist because it doesn’t imply a belief in no god. My mother was an atheist. I understand what it means. To me, atheism requires as much certainty as any other faith. You have to know something you can’t really know. It’s faith, even if it’s faith in nothingness.

75-PosterCommons_091

Given my upbringing and personal preferences, I’m mildly uncomfortable celebrating all religious holidays, including Jewish ones. I feel as if I’m wearing someone else’s clothing. Even when they fit well and look good, I know they aren’t mine. Every year when Christmas rolls through town flattening everything and everyone in its path, I bow to its power and supremacy. I enjoy the lights, music,  gifts and season while remaining aware it isn’t my holiday. When everyone is sharing their warm fuzzy memories of Christmas as a child, I have no equivalent memories to share. Not of Christmas or any holiday because my mother, atheist that she was, celebrated nothing. As a kid, I yearned to be part of Christmas. All my friends had trees and got a zillion presents. I would wander around to my various friends’ houses, stay a little while, aware I wasn’t really welcome. Then I would go home. I felt so left out.

When I married my first husband, his family was almost as religious as mine. They were pretty sure they had been — at some point in the past — something, but they weren’t sure what. They celebrated Christmas with enormous energy and enthusiasm, without any bothersome religious overtones. It was an alcoholic’s dream holiday featuring eggnog that might actually kill you. And very tree-ish. My father-in-law hauled in the biggest trees I’ve ever seen in a private home. Paul Bunyan would have been impressed.

That first Christmas (1965), they pulled out all the stops. They had a Jew to entertain. How exciting. A new audience. Jeff passed away twenty years ago, but his mother — she will be 104 in February — still sends a Christmas present. I have one in the living room right now waiting to be unwrapped.

The nine years I lived in Israel gave me perspective. There was no evidence of Christmas. Chanukah was a holiday, but not like Christmas. Passover and Sukkot were big festivals. It was comfortable to be a Jew in Israel. That sounds redundant, but the freedom to live by a Jewish calendar was no small thing. Even if you were entirely non-religious, you didn’t feel the pressure to be involved in what is — theoretically — a Christian holiday, but is — as practiced — Pagan. I like the Pagan part.

Basically, I have no religious affiliation. Jewish by ethnicity and history. And I know a lot about Judaism, admire it, but I don’t practice it and never have. I thought seriously about practicing it but it didn’t fit better than anything else. I’m skeptical of everything, certain of nothing. I have no answers.

So to all of you, Merry Christmas. Have a cool Yule and a grand Solstice. Whatever you celebrate, please — enjoy it! I’ll sing along because I know all the words.

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: SATURATED – GARDENS

Nothing says color like flowers. From wild to cultivated to hothouse, every color of the rainbow and many the rainbow never thought of are captured in flowers. Rich in scent, evocative, alive.

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: SATURATED – RED ON WHITE

Red Barn White Snow

As bright as is the autumn, winter is intensely white. A monochromatic world where the intensity of the whiteness makes any other color jump out at you. As does this red barn on a fresh white snowy field. Hadley, Massachusetts.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus – Tall, high and far away