Duke is a pest.

He’s also funny, smart, playful, and ready to run, romp, and generally make a mess of everything. He has two buttons. Asleep and runaround like mad throwing toys, barking, leaping, grabbing more toys, trying to get you to keep throwing toys. Followed by more running, barking, leaping and knocking things off shelves. Stuff is falling all around us and I’m not even sure where it was before it fell down.

Gibbs with The Duke

He is hilarious. He is also a pest because … he is a dog who fetches. Fetching dogs come in two varieties: the occasional fetcher and the obsessed fetcher. He is an obsessed fetcher. If you throw the ball once, you have started a game that will never end. I’m pretty sure this is a dog who, with the addition of a few tennis balls, will never care about anything else again.

Except food.

The nearness of any kind of food turns him into a vibrating wire. He is seriously hungry. All the time. I know it’s his youth, but we’ve had other dogs like this and they did not outgrow the food drive. Even when they were a whole lot bigger than they ought to be, they still wanted more food. More and more and more food. This little dog is food-driven and we are trying to keep at least this dog from becoming obese. Good luck to us!

He is a pest. He is also charming and fun and endearing. Right now he is outside growling and barking at … Gibbs maybe? Sticks and stones? He likes sticks and stones, too.


I have a rash. It itches. Occasionally it hurts, but mostly it itches so much I’m ready to tear my skin off. Cortisone (or chemical equivalents) help, but nothing cures it. What is it?

I don’t know. I’ve had it for my whole life as did my mother before me. More than 20 million people suffer from itching skin rashes of unknown origins. Most, like mine, come and go with no obvious cause. I have found a couple of natural creams that help and corn starch powder with zinc oxide sometimes helps, too. But mostly, medical science has made no significant progress in curing it. Whatever it is.

Until a couple of weeks ago, it only attacked areas of my body that are normally covered by clothing. At least I didn’t have to suffer the indignity of answering the time-worn question: “Oh my God, what’s wrong with you?”

Or, the ever-popular: “What the hell is THAT?”

Thank you for sharing your horror at my condition. Recently, my eczema or dermatitis (take your pick, it’s been called both) spread to my right forearm. I admit it’s not pretty, but it isn’t contagious and it won’t kill me. It may, however, drive me insane with the itching.

If it hurt, I can ignore pain, but itching blocks all other sensations. All you can think about is how much you’d like to scratch. You know if you start scratching, it will get worse, though sometimes that barely seems possible.


  1. Try not to look horrified.
  2. Don’t stare.
  3. Do not let your jaw drop and tongue loll. That is most unattractive.
  4. Do not ask “Doesn’t that bother you?” Of course it bothers him/her/me.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the concern, but if you look sufficiently awestruck at the rash on my arm, I will feel obliged to give you my entire spiel on rashes, the history of how dermatology has made no advances in treating itching skin conditions, and how aggravating people who itch find people acting so alarmed at those of us who do (itch, that is).

Eczema or dermatitis “of unknown origin,” also called “contact dermatitis” (contact with what?) is really common. There is a very good chance that you will — at some point in your life — have a rash that itches. It will be red and ugly. And annoying people will ask you about it.

You will have no idea what caused it. Your doctor will have no better idea than you. Over-the-counter cortisone cream won’t help much. The slightly stronger prescription goop from your doctor will help slightly (but not much) more.

Coal tar soap and ointments may also help to lessen the itching, but it turns everything — towels and wash clothes — black. Which is weird. I’ve also got several kinds of natural creams that include a lots of aloe and other vegetation — and more than a dozen other things including bee pollen. Generally, this works better than anything else, but sometimes, only the doctor’s stuff works. I use whatever works in no particular order and if it is bad enough, I’ll just smear on everything and hope that something works.


It gets better, it gets worse. Washing makes it better or worse and you have to be careful what soap you use — and how hot the water is. Hot water can make it worse. Ice can make it itch less. This is not just me, it’s general rule, but no one knows why it is true.

Essentially, no one knows anything much about this itching rash thing. Since it’s not lethal and non-contagious and the companies that make all the ointments make money making the ointments, I’m betting that there isn’t a vast army of doctors seeking cures for non-specific rashes of indeterminate origins. Meanwhile, the older I get, the more permanent the rash has become. It used to go away for years at a time, but these days, it retreats, but never completely disappears.

If it finally goes away for a while, I know that like General MacArthur, it will return.

The next time someone asks me “What’s that?” I plan to tell them: “Leprosy. Easily controlled by antibiotics.” That should end the conversation fast,


In 1962, Marilyn Monroe was working on her last movie, “Something’s Got to Give”, by 20th Century Fox. One of the producers on that film was a man named Henry Weinstein. He was brought into the production because it was thought that he could relate to and handle the very difficult Marilyn.

Henry was a long time friend of my parents. He was also married to one of my mother’s best friends. Because both my parents were psychologists and practicing therapists, Henry talked to them about Marilyn’s problems and often asked for advice about her.

Marilyn Monroe and Henry Weinstein

At the time, Marilyn was in particularly bad shape psychologically. Henry knew she was mentally very ill and thought she was becoming paranoid as well. She also had extreme stage fright. She cried on Henry’s shoulder often. Henry had already come to her aid after a barbiturate overdose.

Marilyn was creating high drama on Henry’s set. And Henry was tearing his hair out. She showed up late, sometimes very late. Other times, not at all. She couldn’t remember her lines. She was needy, emotional, and had meltdowns on a regular basis. She would walk off the sets in tears. Lonely and alone, Marilyn was allegedly having an affair with the script girl.

Marilyn Monroe on the set of her last movie

None of this was good for Henry’s bottom line. He had to try to get the movie made on time. So he called my mother a lot, asking for help in dealing with Marilyn and her issues. He eventually asked Mom to fly out to L.A. to be Marilyn’s on set therapist. Mom refused.

My Mother believed Marilyn was too emotionally unbalanced to be helped by ordinary therapy. Mom had a delicate ego herself. She didn’t want to be known as the therapist who was called in to rescue Marilyn Monroe — and failed. Mom was also afraid Marilyn was suicidal and terrified she might kill herself on my Mom’s watch.

Henry begged Mom to come to L.A. to help him. She still refused. Henry ended up firing Marilyn in June of 1962 for excessive absenteeism. Two months later, on August 5, 1962, Marilyn died of another barbiturate overdose. Some people think her death was a suicide. Others think it was accidental. Regardless, the film was scrapped.

Who knows whether or not my mother would have made a difference with Marilyn short-term. She might have been able to help her through this specific crisis, but a fatal overdose inevitable — intentional or accidental. I doubt anyone could have saved her from herself.

Marilyn on the set of Henry’s film, shortly before her death

Here is an interesting, unrelated theory about Marilyn Monroe’s death. It has to do with the Kennedys. I read an article that talked about a book dealing with Marilyn and the Kennedy family. Marilyn had affairs with both John and Robert Kennedy. She began to get clingy and demanding. Started discussing going public about the affairs, which had been kept completely under the radar and out of the news. The Kennedy ‘people’ felt Marilyn was becoming a dangerous liability. So they banned her from seeing or communicating with either brother. She was expelled, cold turkey, from the inner circle.

Marilyn Monroe and Bobby Kennedy

This happened just a few months before her death. There are those who believe this expulsion along with the movie firing, significantly contributed to her final downward spiral. As evidence, Marilyn made several phone calls after she took her fatal overdose. One call was to Bobby Kennedy. Why? Maybe she was trying to get back into the Kennedy boys’ good graces.

We’ll never know for sure. It’s part of the mystery that was Marilyn’s life and death.


Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – July 28, 2017

Roaring Dam is part of the Blackstone Valley Historic Corridor park system and there are many walking paths within it. If you take the trails along the river and walk long enough, you’ll discover that all the parks are linked by the river itself.

First, a little history …

Not the best steps if you aren’t light on your feet!

Kaity on the path by the rapids