The decimated dog toy collection lies in ruins, in and out of the house.

When Duke moved in last July, we were fifty-fifty on toys still sort of in one piece, which is to say mostly intact with maybe just an ear or leg missing. At this point, we have probably four or five toys in one piece — all of them by Kong. I remind everyone that Kong toys seem to make toys that even Duke cannot instantly destroy. Unfortunately, all the toys that are in one piece are outside in the leaves and the mud.

Sometimes, Garry or I go out there and with two fingers delicately pick them up, bring them in, rinse them in the sink and throw the yucky things in the dryer. After which the dogs say “Thanks, Pal,” and take them right back out.

Lone survivor in the dog v toys war

Everything that wasn’t a Kong toy is a scrap. Literally a piece of fabric that has some kind of markings on it indicating it was, at one time, a tiger. Or a zebra.

Scraps and remnants

I bought them three new Kong toys for Christmas and it would be nice if they didn’t drag them outside before we fully remove the labels. The tearing and rending? Well, that’s where the fun is and I have done my best to buy the most indestructible toys available. Anything more indestructible fits into the category of “toys in which the dogs have no interest.”

New toys, awaiting their big day!

If you make them hard enough with nothing that makes them want to bite and fight, they’d rather go outside and pull up a baby tree and eat it. They do that, by the way. Duke pulls little trees out of the ground and somehow — no idea how — drags them through the doggy door. Into the living room. He is one tough dude.

Then he eats them. Also, a messy eater, but it’s probably better than the coffee table.


Sometimes, I think we live in the classic small town for this region. We aren’t as fancy as a few small towns have become. This isn’t a wealthy town. Not a lot of rich people here, though I think some people are doing pretty well.

We don’t have the highest taxes or the fanciest schools, but we do have a real fire department with lovely scarlet fire engines. A lot of towns don’t have a genuine fleet of engines –and other towns borrow ours as needed. But all the firefighters are volunteer.

Our town common probably seemed big enough when the town was built. Over time, various pieces of statuary devoted to one or another war (there have been a lot of wars) have reduced its size so you can hardly move from one war memorial before you trip over another.

And of course, the common is surrounded by churches. Aren’t they all?

Fantasy commons on the Solstice

I know this is a small town because you can park in front of the common. No signs preventing it, no laws about it. It only gets crowded when there is a town event taking place on the common or somewhere nearby. Fireworks or a parade or even a pancake breakfast at the firehouse. Speaking of firehouses, we have a brand new one.

Last night, for the first time, the lights were on and you could see the trucks through the huge windows. Very impressive and quite a handsome firehouse, too. It’s just next door to Town Hall where the fire engines always lived before, but in the very old firehouse, the engines had to back out of the house onto Main Street. That made everyone unhappy. Now, the trucks can turn around and come straight out. Much better.

So, this is the Commons. On the winter solstice and Christmas right around the corner. I was amused to notice the crèche. I’m sure it has been there for years. I simply never noticed it. There are so few non-Christians in town, there hasn’t been anyone to object and I wouldn’t in any case. It’s Christmas and most people in town are Christians. If the want a crèche, it harms me not. I’ve got bigger and better things to protest these day.

Merry Christmas! Happy and/or merry anything you celebrate. Have a joyous Yule and Gladsome Solstice! Remember, from now on, the days grow longer. Just a few months and the leaves will be green again.


I was a child in the 1950’s and a teenager in the 1960’s. So I should be well versed in the misogynistic attitudes that were, and in some ways still are, ingrained in the American psyche. But I grew up in a progressive family in New York City. The women we knew were mostly professionals and I was expected to be a professional too. Not just a working woman, but a professional doctor, lawyer, psychologist, or whatever. I apparently missed the sexism and marginalization of women as well as the excessive empowerment of men.

It never occurred to me for a nanosecond that men were better than women in any way. Apparently I’m outside the norm, even today.

I read an article in The Washington Post by Sally Kohn, titled “Sexual Harassment Should Be Treated As A Hate Crime”. The article cites recent studies that show that both men and women have unconscious biases against women. In fact, women hold these biases even more than men do! We are all absorbing the cultural messages that women are inherently inferior. Even further, society is also promoting the view that women should be submissive and subjugated to men and that men should have disproportionate power, privilege and dominance.

There’s a wonderful show on Amazon called “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. It is wildly funny and entertaining and totally binge worthy. We binge watched it and got a crash course in the social position of women in the 1950’s. I only watched one season of “Mad Men” so this was an eye opener for me. It may have hit home for me because the main character, Midge, like me, grew up in an upper middle class, Jewish family in New York City in the 1950’s. The high ceilings in the luxurious apartments, the doormen and the maids, the overly involved parents, all rang true to me.

Midge was brought up believing that she should get married right after college, have children and stay home to take care of them and her husband. Period. She took her role in life seriously. Particularly the part about keeping your ‘man’ happy and pampered.

Midge’s wedding in the show

Midge went to bed with her hair and makeup still beautifully done. She waited for her husband to fall asleep and only then did she get up to put curlers in her hair, take off her makeup and put cream on her face. To add insult to injury, she also set her alarm to wake her before her husband got up. Then she could take the curlers out, do her hair and put on her makeup, get back into bed and pretend to be asleep when her husband woke up. So he never knew about Midge’s frenzied and exhausting ritual of female submission. All to keep her husband from seeing her in anything but the best and most flattering light!

Midge also admits to her husband, after they are separated, that when she knew they were going to have sex, she would undo half of the hooks on her complex, corset like bra. She did that so he would have an easy time getting it off of her in the heat of the moment. She thought it was part of her job to make everything as easy as possible for her husband.

Midge would also obsessively measure every part of her body with a tape measure and record the numbers to make sure that she was maintaining her girlish figure. She seemed to believe that her world would fall apart if she wasn’t perfect for her spouse 24/7, in all ways. What a terrible way to live! And what a one sided relationship!

All of this appalled me. My mother always wore makeup and nice clothes during the day, even on weekends when we all stayed home. But she did wear curlers and cream to bed. I don’t know how many women went to the lengths Midge did to be a ‘good wife’ and keep her husband interested. But the fact that there were any, makes me truly sick. And Midge was an intelligent, college graduate with a strong personality and a lot of self-confidence.

As part of the plot, Midge is discouraged from working, even after her husband leaves her, but she gets a job anyway. She is also discouraged from pursuing stand up comedy because that is a ‘man’s field’. She does this anyway too. So she’s not totally passive or without backbone and ambition. This makes her subservient behavior even more egregious.

Midge doing stand up

In some ways, things haven’t changed that much in America. We recently had an election in Alabama in which large numbers of women (as well as men) voted for a man who openly said that women should not vote or hold office. He was also accused, by multiple women, of sexually harassing teenagers as young as 14! How could any woman vote for someone like that? How could ANYONE vote for someone like that in 2017?

I guess there are people, including women, who still believe that men are superior and should control everything, in public life as well as private. They are also people who will believe a man’s lame denials of sexual abuse over multiple women risking a lot to come out and accuse him. Or maybe it’s even worse. Maybe sexually abusing women is okay in these people’s moral universe. Maybe it’s considered men’s right, or somehow the women’s fault.

It’s sad to see that while women have made so much progress in so many ways, we are still in the dark ages in other ways. We’ve come a long way, baby! But there’s still a really long way to go as well.


As long as I can remember, I’ve hated watching people make fools of themselves. I was 6 when I found myself running out of the room during an episodes of “Lucy” in which she humiliates herself. It was too painful to watch. Rather than finding it funny, I feel humiliated myself. I can’t help but think how awful I’d feel if it were me.

Humiliation is a horrible feeling. It’s almost impossible to get past it, no matter how many years pass.


Humor that depends on making fun of people does not make me laugh. I love witty dialogue, literary allusion, puns. I love parody and cleverness. Except for some particularly loathsome villains who deserve whatever they get, I never want to see anyone humiliated. I hate cruelty, mental or physical and cannot watch it.

Not surprisingly, I was one of the kids who got teased and bullied. I was way too sensitive. 60 years later, I’m still too sensitive. Some things never change.

This hatred of seeing people humiliated is probably one of the reasons I so intensely dislike our so-called president. I have watched him deride and humiliate reporters, parents of deceased children, disabled people, women, senators, other politicians. It makes my stomach turn. I cannot begin to tell you how, even if he did nothing else I disliked, this behavior alone would make me loathe him.

I need decency and caring from people who are supposed to be running my country. I expect them to show dignity. I expect them to be able to speak our language properly. I expect them to have read a few books and understand the world of which they are supposedly in charge. I expect them to be people for whom I can show respect and maybe — imagine that — look up to.