AIN’T NO UNDER-DOGS IN THIS PACK!

We ain’t got no underdogs in this house! All three dogs are over-dogs, to us anyway.

Well, okay. I suppose in polling the three dog pack, Bonnie heads the list as top dog. She has been top dog since she got here at 10 weeks old. It’s something in her personality and every other dogs acknowledges her position. And they are fine about it. She is the leader, but a very good-tempered, charming leader. The kind of boss you wish you’d had.

Duke is in the middle. He wants to be on top, but that’s not something you choose. I think nature chooses for each dog. Gibbs has chosen the bottom of the little pecking order and has never shown any enthusiasm to be anywhere but where he is. We treat them the same — mostly. They eat the same food and get the same treats with as much love as they a willing to accept.

Bonnie
Bonnie

Bonnie is the most independent of our pooches. She will join you on the sofa — for a while — but she has her own stuff going on. She doesn’t want to hang out for long petting sessions. She drops by for a visit, plays a while, then goes off and does her thing. Gibbs is our protector. If he senses a stranger somewhere nearby, he’s out barking at it. He’s a good barker. Sounds much bigger than he is, although he is also bigger than he appears. And has quite the set of jaws on him.

The Duke

Duke is busy, busy, busy. A classic middle kid, he has to make sure everyone is doing what they should be doing and apparently, he knows what that is. He certainly knows when play time and ball throwing time has come. He rounds everyone up, jumps up on each person to make sure they are in one piece — which he does by sniffing each piece of you, with a special stop at your ears. He does love sniffing ears, which makes me giggle.

Gibbs

Gibbs looks like an underdog, though. He is the saddest looking dog in the world. He looks sad while he eats a treat and not every dog can do that!

United, they are our pack. When we get up in the morning, it feels like we have at least a hundred of them, all swirling and woofing and huffing and chuffing. Circling around you as you carefully move towards the kitchen, trying to avoid stepping on — or being stepped on — by one of the pack.

Our dogs. Our gang.

THINGS WORTH FIGHTING FOR – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My first marriage was not what you would call good. My ex, Larry, was bipolar. He would have periods of ‘normalcy’ followed by periods of worse and worse paranoia, hair-trigger anger, irrationality plus erratic and hostile behavior. In this state, he was excessively critical and demeaning to me and to the kids. I was told by psychiatric professionals that I was an abused spouse.

One of our few wedding photos (don’t ask!)

Thirteen years after we were married, Larry was diagnosed as bipolar and put on Lithium. It worked well and gave us a year or two at a time of calm and predictability. But then Larry would stop taking his medication and would devolve again into a volatile, irritable manic state. This would also last a year or so before we could get him back on his meds.

Larry and me the year he was diagnosed

But you know the saying “When it was good, it was very, very good, but when it was bad, it was awful”. That was my marriage. I stayed for twenty-five years because the good times were really good between us. I lived in hope that Larry would stay on his medication and banish the bad times forever. Unfortunately, that never happened.

Larry and I had crazy chemistry. Off the charts. We had a serious connection – one that even survived divorce. Even while we were negotiating the terms of our divorce, our divorce lawyer believed that Larry still had ‘Svengali like’ influence over me. He said that it was clear that we were still bonded in some way.

Larry and me in 1994

We would tease each other and banter like in Cary Grant movies. Or like Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. We were always holding hands or had our arms around each other. We always slept holding each other, even when we were fighting.

Larry wanted to be with me as much as possible. He took me on his frequent business trips as often as possible. After we had kids, we took the kids along so we could be together.

Skiing on a frequent business trip

Something odd happened to us late in our marriage that illustrates our positive connection. It was Mother’s Day, 1998, three months before Larry left me in a manic rage for the last time. Larry had left me twice before and I had taken him back. Not this time. The kids and I just couldn’t go through these ups and downs any more.

We were in a New York City furniture store, doing a major shopping. We had to buy furniture for Larry’s small New York apartment and there was a big Mother’s Day sale. We spent four hours in the store, working with a salesman, let’s call him James. Larry was always very involved with every decorating decision throughout our marriage. We designed our house in Connecticut together (with the help of an architect) and we did all our decorating together.

Larry and me eight months before we split up

As usual, Larry wanted to buy high price items (spending lots of money can be part of the manic phase of bipolar disorder). I was trying to get him to focus on more reasonable choices. We cajoled, we teased, we persuaded, we argued. But all in good humor. I ended up letting Larry get one pricey chair (which became the dog’s chair, of course!) and he compromised on other items. It was a productive day.

When we were sitting with James getting ready to pay the bill, James said something that blew us away. He said “I’ve been doing this job for twenty years. I work with couples all day, every day. And I’ve got to say, I’ve rarely seen a couple who get along as well as you do and who work together as well as you do.”

Larry and me in 1996

Larry and I looked at each other and laughed. Larry was in one of his up and down periods and all was not well. But we also realized that James was right; we did have something special. And we were about to throw it all away.

This story is bittersweet for me. It confirms objectively something our close friends already knew – that Larry and I could be very good together. But it also points up how sad it was that this relationship was destroyed by mental illness. I stayed for twenty-five years because there really were things worth fighting for.

BATTLING BEER AND BOOZE

Garry has an undying devotion to some really awful old television series. Among many others, he really likes “The Untouchables.” That would be the version with Robert Stack as Elliott Ness. It’s the original, where our chief G-man and his “guys” fight (are you ready?) for The Volstead Act. Prohibition! That’s right. Prohibition. Booze, or more accurately, the lack thereof. Fighting for the right to have people NOT drink booze.

I’m not a boozer. I don’t drink now and I never drank much, not even when I was much younger, but I can’t imagine going to war to make booze disappear. War doesn’t work, not even when it’s a war against drugs or booze or your neighbor or their neighbor.  War (which is not the same as protection) is an ineffective tool that does more damage than good. I grant you there have been a few exceptions, but ironically, most “good wars” were fought because of bad deals made following previous bad wars. But what do I know, right?

Anyway, back to “The Untouchables.”

What a great show. When the cops are pissed off with you, they can beat the living crap out of you. If that doesn’t get you to spill your guts, they’ll toss you off the train. A moving train. You have a problem with that? You too are disposable.

Ready to blow it up? You betcha!

This version of the FBI is unconcerned with your rights. They don’t believe you have any rights. First amendment? What’s that? You are dirt under their feet and they treat you accordingly, as if you are dirt under their feet. This is a show that never made the slightest apology for being racist. They never pretended to be fair or worried much about legalities.

They said “We are G-men. You will obey!” And everyone did. It is the FBI at its purest. These men (there are no women other than an occasional secretary) are not merely above the law. They are the law.

Early terrorist attack (1920s) – Wall Street

My favorite moment in tonight’s show was when the boys, ignoring even a nod to international law, take the FBI bus into Mexico to track down the guys who kidnapped their witness.

“The bus broke down three times and the trip took 10 hours,” said the stentorian voice of the narrator.

“So what?” I said to Garry. “We live in the country. That could describe my last trip to the grocery store.”

Since the FBI took over enforcing Prohibition — that is, The Volstead Act — no one has had a drink. Not one person. These guys were so good at battling against beer and booze, the alcohol problem was permanently solved. Some might call this denial. I call it faith. If you believe, it must be true.

I’m trying to get into our current national spirit. How am I doing?

DIRECTION: WHERE AM I GOING? – A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE

A Photo a Week Challenge: Directional


In the end, we will still lose our way. Because we are deeply, phenomenally, directionally-challenged. With a GPS, maps and printed directions, it’s still no better than 50-50 we’ll actually get there.