DUBIOUS – an adjective about which you may hold much conjecturing.

Dubious is an adjective — as in hesitating or doubting — not to be relied upon. It also means suspect as in “extremely dubious assumptions.” Add it that suspicious, untrustworthy, unreliable, questionable and just for kicks, morally suspect.

That would pretty much sum up our government these days. I’ve been assured by others that their government is no less dubious or morally suspect than ours, but I defy any government to be more hugely, gigantically, and outrageously dubious that the current American version. Australia may have lost more than half its governing body because (it turns out) they weren’t actually Australians — and Canada may have significant doubts about what Trudeau is really doing “up there,” but for pure blowhard untrustworthiness and morally suspicious behavior, it would be hard to top The Big Donald.

He sort of has it all wrapped up. When he talks, it’s not merely double-talk. It’s also blatheringly meaningless random words strung together without a subject, object, verb … or an end. Not not to mention illiterate, but I think I can safely say that our president is the most illiterate guy to ever hold high office, at least in the past two or three centuries. He is also suspicious, suspect, untrustworthy, unreliable, questionable and I think we’ve passed “morally suspect” and moved on to degenerate.

Anyone want to argue the point?

So while the rest of the you may indeed be in trouble, I defy any country anywhere to be in worse trouble than we are. Your governments may be crap, but ours is crappier.

Just saying. Among the dubious, we are the most absolutely potentially terrifyingly dubious of all. Yay America!


Since 1987, when I got Truffle, my first real dog (on my own; the family experimented a couple of times when I was a kid, experiments that lasted days, weeks or months) I’ve had upwards of twenty dogs living with me. Not all at once. My upper limit was always six, as defined by law. As soon as I learned that two dogs were less work than one, I always had at least two, and usually three, dogs.

My dogs have all been large dogs from most people’s perspective, usually between 60 and 80 pounds. There are larger dogs, but none of them ever made their way into my life. I don’t think they’re that easy to come by. Only one of my dogs was bought at a pet store and she ended up the saddest dog story of all. Big Puppy was an overbred, over sized, yellow Labrador retriever who killed her adopted mom (Cheyenne T. Wolf) and then tried to kill Lily. These events happened with no provocation, no food involved, no crowding at the door, nothing that normally triggers dogs to scrap. The fights were to the death, too, also very unusual among a pack of dogs and not typical of the Labrador retriever. I had to put her to sleep when she was only two years old. The vet suggested that maybe her mother was also her sister and her dad her brother. “It isn’t uncommon,” he said, “breeders are often in it for the money.” We both cried in that little room at the vets’ office as this beautiful golden dog slipped into death.

The rest were rescues. All of them, though two were adopted from their “mom” it was find a home for the pups or they go to the pound.

I didn’t set out to be a dog rescuer, either. Back in the day, there were no breed rescues or fostering or anything like that. I took in a lot of strays, cleaned them up, neutered them and trained them then took them to the shelter and pretended they were my own dogs and I had to relinquish them. The end result of that was that when I wanted to adopt a dog from the shelter, they wouldn’t let me. I fostered a springer/poodle mix who was happy, bright and loving and quickly found a home. I fostered a pure-bred English spaniel who was adopted while I was signing the papers “relinquishing” her. I fostered other strays, too, and found them homes by walking them at a nearby park with a sign around their necks saying, “Please adopt me.” A well-mannered, leash-trained dog in the company of a happy person is pretty attractive to someone looking for a dog. I always checked up to be sure the homes where the dogs were adopted were legit and the dogs were happy.

There’s no way to keep all the dogs.

I have loved dogs as long as I can remember and wanted one from the time I was born, nearly. I used to put my stuffed dog under my pillow at night hoping the dog fairy would replace it with a real puppy. My mom said I always “pet” things, velvet, fur, the satin edging on my blanket, and she always found it odd, but I think it was like the Dalai Lama who is “recognized” because of what he chooses as a small child. Once I finally had my own dogs I felt more at peace with my life.

And I can’t explain it.

I like being around dogs. Dogs also like being around me. I’ve had several experiences in which a completely unknown dog will see me from several yards away and come running to me with no encouragement at all. It’s pretty freaky when it’s a pit bull, but they’re a happy, enthusiastic and passionate breed and it’s been pit bulls more than once. My first year here my neighbor’s dog — who was tied to a tree 24/7 — broke free and came to my house. Why? He’d seen me walking with my dogs and I’d talked to him. What I’m saying is not that I’m Dr. Doolittle or something, but that it’s not only that I’m attracted to dogs, they’re attracted to me. I think I emanate a, “I love dogs,” pheromone and they sense it.

My mom said they were children replacements. That wasn’t and isn’t true. I’m not their mom and they’re not “fur babies.” My dogs are something else, not quite pets, either. Companions, definitely, but what does that mean? Living with so many dogs has taught me a lot, some of which is inarticulable. I think it’s in “dog” not human language.

So pet? Child surrogate? Friend? I don’t know. But having had not “one” but many dogs during some hard times of my life, and feeling their company was sufficient, has made me think about the canine/human connection.

When my alcoholic brother died, and I learned about it five months after the fact in a strange and unsettling way, I came home from work alone with that knowledge. I remember opening the door to my very cold, very dark house in the mountains, starting a fire, feeding the dogs — at that time five dogs — cooking dinner, all with a numb, sad, cold place inside of me for which I had no words. What do you do, what do you feel, when you learn about your brother’s death five months after it happens? How do you even think about where he might have been when he died? How do you face the questions you will have to ask? How do you even think about finding his remains or what you will do with them? How do you confront the absolute loneliness of that reality? There is no consolation, really. In time you’ll talk to friends, family members will call, there will be sympathy, flowers, even, but that first realization is as lonely and cold as a stone house on a dark night.

There were the huskies, Lily, Cheyenne and Cody. Dusty T. Dog, of course, and Big Puppy? I don’t remember, but I think so. When the initial bustling of a return home was finished, and I sat down to collect my thoughts (which was not possible) I noticed that all of them were there, as near me as they could get. Cody suspended his vendetta against Dusty, and  sat quietly beside me, my Knight in Furry Armor. They were simply THERE. I am not sure that any person could have accomplished that much needed companionable silence. There would have been words and in those moments, there were no words nor should there have been. There was sorrow, dark, purple, bleak, silent, exhausted sorrow.

There have been many times in my life when dogs have been “there for me,” so to speak. I’ve left my house and all my possessions in the care of my dogs during a few dark times, never imagining that there was any better way or any better guardians of our lives. It isn’t really strange. Shepherds trust their life’s fortune to their dogs and have for thousands of years. That I, a single woman, would entrust myself to dogs doesn’t seem that strange to me.

Please comment to original author: DOGS – MARTHA KENNEDY


Share Your World – November 13, 2017 and Thanksgiving draws near

Do you ever sit on a park bench for more than ten minutes?

Unless I’m taking pictures, probably not. But generally, the reason I’m in the park at all is to take pictures, so essentially the two things go together.

I love park benches. I can put my camera bag down. I have someplace convenient to change lenses, and I can take a load off my humorously so-called feet. All good. And lucky me, all the parks here have more than enough benches for the number of people who want them. Plenty of room, no waiting!

When you lose electricity in a storm, do you light the candles, turn on the flashlight or use your cell phone for light?

We have not had (knock on wood) many outages in recent years. We had a relatively long one during the last storm, but it was in the dead of night, so I lit some candles so we could find our way to the bathrooms, and by morning, we were up and running again. Other places were not so lucky.

Lavender candles

I keep small, bright flashlights in “grabbing” distance. I have a mini mag-lite next to my bed, flashlights in the living room and kitchen, too. Plus lots of candles, big and small candles in glass containers. Most important — we have matches. It turns out, you can be very well prepared, but without matches, it all amounts to darkness.

When I smoked, we always had lighters and matches, but that was years ago. The lighters you find around the house these days pretty don’t light. Probably haven’t for years, but no one thought to throw them away. Like all those non-writing pens we seem to keep, even though they have long since run out of ink.

Would you rather be given $10,000 for your own use or $100,000 to give anonymously to strangers?

We are way too poor to go for anonymous giving to strangers. I really need to do something about the bathrooms and it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have a little money in the bank for emergencies. Right now, there’s a big, fat nothing in the emergency fund.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

Pissed off that Duke got shot. Felt better it wasn’t worse. Got the chair and railing, but have to wait a few days for installation. Hope I never need a new appliance because it will block the staircase and NO ONE will get anything huge up those stairs again.

There’s always something that diminishes the luster of achievement, isn’t there?


I swear to God, I actually made my first husband, Larry, go with my mom to couples’ counseling. They were driving me crazy. They fought with each other. They each talked to me against the other. They both tried to get me to ‘side’ with them against the other. They each thought the other was bad for me.

Me, Mom and Larry in around 1979, about 5 years into our marriage

They were both very controlling. Each wanted to get me to do what they wanted, which was usually the opposite of what the other wanted. For example, one major issue was the amount of time we spent with my mom. Mom obviously wanted us to spend more time and Larry wanted us to spend less. After my father died, in 1981, my mother asked us to spend Saturday nights with her so she wouldn’t have to be alone. Larry wanted Saturday night as ‘date night’, and a night to see friends. I negotiated a settlement on this issue – we saw Mom on Friday or Sunday but Saturday was for Larry and me as a couple.

Other issues were not as easy to resolve. I often felt like a wish bone being pulled apart by Mom and Larry. The hostility level between them was off the charts. So was my stress level.

Me, Mom and Larry in 1984, when I was pregnant with our second child

I got really desperate at one point and consulted a family therapist. I explained the situation to him and he agreed to see my mom and Larry in couples’ therapy. He first met with all three of us, together. Then he met with each of us alone. Only then did he meet with Larry and Mom together. After two or three of their joint sessions, he called me.

He told me that there was no point wasting his time and my money on a lost cause. He said I had to give up the idea that either Mom or Larry would ever change – it wasn’t going to happen.

The doctor explained that Larry and Mom were both narcissists and borderline personalities. There is no reliable treatment or cure for either syndrome. In fact, a symptom of both is a total lack of self-awareness. Apparently Larry could see Mom’s issues very clearly and Mom could see Larry’s equally well. Their insight was 20/20 when it came to the other’s faults. But they were innocent victims in their own eyes. To each, I was being manipulated by the other and they were just trying to save me.

Me, Mom and Larry in 1987

I remember sitting on the floor of my bathroom with the door closed, crying on the phone with the doctor. I begged him to try again. But he insisted that I face reality. He was right.

Nothing changed through 25 years of marriage. But here’s the irony. After Larry and I separated and later divorced, Larry and Mom got along famously! They actually had a lot in common. In some ways, they had more in common with each other than either had with me. These similarities suddenly came to the fore once I was out of the picture.

All those years, they were obviously fighting over who would have the most influence and control over me. I’m amazed I survived, relatively intact. One other thing the therapist told me was that I could never be my own person and live my own life until both Larry AND Mom were out of my life. Hard to hear. But he was right about that too.

I separated from Larry in 1998. I met my current husband, Tom, in 1999. Mom died in 2002, a few months before Tom and I married. Since then, I have become a different person. I am more confident, more self-assured, more independent and more relaxed. Also happier.

I’m also sad to realize that two people I loved so dearly were so destructive to me for so long. That’s a very hard pill to swallow.


It’s getting cold. It stayed summer through most of October and has been warm even through last weekend, but it’s definitely chilly now. Especially at night. There has been snow in the Berkshires. It’s not here … yet … but it’s a warning. I was cruising through photographs from this year and found the month of July.

We took quite a few pictures during the summer and for some reason, have done very little with them. I went back and processed a few favorites. As winter approaches, maybe what we all need are memories of summertime.

The deep green of the trees and the quiet shine of the river. The reflections of the sky and the trees. Kids and their fishing poles.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

The oil truck came yesterday. Soon it will time for heat, but for now, just memories of warmer days.