Friday, September 21, 2018

Dog Thoughts

How does Sherlock (and other dogs) think?

I am sure some animal behaviorist has an answer. 

I know Sherlock thinks. His ball went under the bookcase. He couldn't dig it out.

What did he do next?

He went into the room where the wall backed the bookcase to see if he could get to it that way.

When that didn't work he asked for help. He has different barks for different needs.

Years ago we had a Japanese chin Vixen pup. She was on the bed when we gave her her first chew toy. She wasn't sure what to do with it.

We also had a German Shepherd, Nikki, who was on the rug at the end of the bed.

Vixen jumped down and looked at how Nikki was holding her chew, jumped back on the bed and copied her.

The same pup, when she had a corneal abrasion, woke her mistress in the middle of the night and led her downstairs and went directly to the stand where her eye medicine, which dulled the pain, was. She then jumped up on a nearby chair and tilted her head so she could be treated.

My German Shepherd Kimm, adored my mother-in-law. Whenever we said, "Let's go see Grams" she would run to the door. She reacted the same way if the tone was ordinary and buried in other conversation about what we were planning to do.

But how do animals think without the vocabulary? I know they pick up our words. When Sherlock hears the word "stay" as we are planning to go out, he'll jump up on the couch, sometimes with a sigh, sometimes with a good-I-can-have-a-nap attitude.

Wild animals however are not exposed to human vocabulary yet they have to think things out to survive.

I suppose I could go back to university to study this, but it might be easier just to do some Internet research. I told Sherlock this. He just turned over and went back to sleep. I doubt if he knows anything about universities. Maybe if I still lived in Boston and walked him on the grass of Harvard Medical School like I did my other dogs, he would associate a university with a place to sniff and relieve himself.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


On the Esta form which I need to enter the US, one of the stupider questions I have to answer is
"have you ever been engaged in terrorist activities espionage or genocide." What terrorist in their right mind would ever say yes?

It requires a yes or no answer.

Another time entering the US I was asked if I had helped the Nazis in WWII. I was born in 1942 and lived outside Boston.

I also declared I'd never kidnapped a child.

I wonder about the mentality of the people who dream up these entrance requirements.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


A friend who is a Trump supporter pointed out that Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Brett Kavanaugh of ripping off her clothes as part of an attack when they were high school, made donations to the Democratic Party.

The matter is confusing his nomination to the Supreme Court.

I wonder if my friend would negate the same claims if Ford were a Republican.

The reaction to male aggression is not a party issue.

I find it complicated.

If that is the only example of sexual misconduct in Kavanaugh's background, I would not be concerned. Drunk teenage boys are not known for their good sense. I write this as a leftist feminist. It doesn't make it right, but it happens.

If his misconduct was a regular thing much like Clarence Thomas, that is another issue entirely.

Ford in coming forward was putting herself on the line much like Anita Hill. Not a pretty picture.

I do not want to see Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. I fear for Roe v. Wade. Should he be the swing vote to overturn it hospitals throughout the country would once again have 20-30 beds filled with women who've had botched abortion many of whom will die. Women with more resources will simply leave the country for a legal and safe abortion in Canada, England, etc.

I have a strong belief in the 14th amendment which is the one used to give women, both married and single the right to birth control and abortions. I don't want to go back to the days of coat hangers and knitting needles.

If, and it hasn't been brought up, he was a sexual predator beyond his high school stupidity, than he should not be nominated. Clarence Thomas should have been rejected for that reason.

Throughout my life men have been sexually inappropriate with me. I am not talking about rape or bodily injury just bad behavior leaving me uncomfortable.

I worked in a dry cleaner where the owner constantly told dirty jokes. In three years, only one was funny.

I've known men who are always making sexual innuendos. At best it is boring. In a work place there are power questions.

I never minded a compliment on my appearance as long it was not accompanied by a hand on my breast or ass. Acceptance and job security should never be tied. But Kavanaugh has not been accused of that,

There is supposed perjury committed by Kavanaugh. That strikes me as a reason to reject him not for a stupid act when he was in high school.

I wish Ford luck and commend her bravery for putting herself forward. She will be attacked for it.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


I am chuffed as the Brits would say. picked up my Oped piece "Abortions Can't be Stopped."

Much of my material came from the book I wrote, Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles. The book looks at abortion, especially in the U.S. prior to Roe v. Wade. I spent almost a year on the research and self-published. My daughter helped me mail it to all Supreme Court Justices and every opponent to legalized abortion.

It is available for sale at the lowest possible price. People are free to copy from it.

My objective was to show that throughout time, women found a way to abort a baby that they felt they couldn't have. No matter what laws are passed, nothing will change that. Prostitution has never been stopped by laws. Prohibition was a total failure.

Abortion is not a happy choice for an unwanted pregnancy, but often a woman feels it is her only one.

It is not a decision any person should make for another.

On Facebook there was a photo of a congressional committee on maternal health. The problem? Every member of the committee was male.

Friday, September 14, 2018


Sometimes I can be really dumb.

I have had breast cancer twice. The second time they lopped the breast off, which was fine with me. The damn thing wanted to kill me. I needed chemo and a special type of radiation which involved heating the area than zapping it.

Since then, I've had certain medication plus physio from time to time for the discomfort caused by missing lymph nodes.

None of this is a complaint. I am extremely lucky to be living in a time and place with wonderful, affordable medical care.

However, on my last check in Geneva, the doctor frowned at my ectograph. "We'll want to take a look at it in a few months. Nothing to worry about?"

Little did she know the words "nothing to worry about" is the same thing that says "worry, worry, worry."

I pictured myself being biopsied, back in bed, exhausted from chemo with Rick doing all the cooking (someone else cooking is not a bad thing but not for the reason of my total exhaustion from chemo).

Twice, I rose to the situation, making the best out of everything, while accepting the situation, sometimes joking, sometimes gathering the good things that happened to me as if I were picking wild flowers. Could I do it again?

I would have to, not just for me but for my husband. We would need to make the time count.

And the wig store serving bald cancer patients doesn't have white wigs. I would need to order one from the States.

As lovely as the nurses were who came to the house for my blood boosting shots, I would rather see them for a cup of tea at a café.

With these thoughts, I decided not to wait until my November check in Geneva but made an appointment in Argelès for the ectograph. Today was the day.

Dr. Christian listened to my explanation, squeezed cream on my right side and ran the wand over it.
"Nothing is there. Everything is okay," he said in French.

I told him I felt ten years younger. The Echo was cheaper than a face lift. I also told him that my imagination sometimes was over active."

He smiled. "Pour les femmes avec cancer du sein c'est classique."

I paid my 41 Euros, collected the film for my doctor in Geneva and left with my husband, relieved that we could continue with out plans for Madrid, Nova Scotia, Toronto, Geneva, Lucerne, etc.

I guess being dumb about somethings is classic.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Busy summer

Coming back from physio I found my husband making a list. I asked him what he was doing.

"Making a list of all our social contacts this summer."

It turned out between Geneva and Argelès, we've met with 107 people for:
  • Apéros
  • BBQs
  • Breakfasts
  • Coffees
  • Concerts
  • Conversations
  • Dances
  • Dinners
  • Festivals
  • Lunches
  • National celebrations (Switzerland/France)
  • Parades
  • Train rides 
  • Wedding
They are from 20 different countries
  • America
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Catalonia
  • Danish
  • Egypt
  • England
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greek
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Lebanon
  • New Zealand
  • Norwegian
  • Romania
  • Scotland
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Syria
What a rich summer.

We're tired -- but I wouldn't have had it any other way. And we look forward to seeing them again and again.

Rick has a dueling blog at

Monday, September 10, 2018

Needles and consumerism

At university in an early English drama course, We were required to read Gammer Gurton's Needle. It was one of the first plays and although it will never rival productions of things like Les Mis or Virginia Woolf, its story has stuck in my mind over the decades.


The premise is simple. Gammer Gurton stands out in her community because she is in possession of something very valuable -- a needle.

By those standards if existing today, I would be very wealthy. A sewing box, handed down from my grandmother must contain maybe 20 needles. I never counted.

What the play did do, was call attention to how ownership of things help define wealth. Depending on the era and place, compared to most of the people who ever took a breath on this planet, I am a wealthy woman.

Until recently consumerism as it exists today just wasn't. Except for the very wealthy, people made do: they used things up. My grandmother, a New England Yankee in every cell of her body embodied this. A double bed sheet tore? Turn it into twin bed sheets. If they tore, it would become an ironing board cover, a dress for one of my dolls, rags or anything else she could think to use the cloth down to the last thread.

I am not that frugal. I don't mind replacing. But replacing only when it is really needed.

My husband will say, "I want to replace the TV upstairs." He's referring to the studio I bought for my retirement home for cash.

I cringe.

The TV works and until it doesn't work, I see no reason to buy another.

Almost once a day he says, "I want to buy..." I cringe.

We have much too much in our flat as it is.

I will admit I want a dust ruffle for the twin bed in the second bedroom/office. There things under the bed that show, although my first preference would be to reduce those down to the minimum. I will buy books although I prefer to go to the library (as a writer who earns royalties I still would rather someone use a library to read one of my novels than kill trees--I do want people to read me). Don't you dare use a paper towel when a cloth will wipe up a mess.

We did need a new couch. We found one at recycle center along with a coffee table for 104 Euros including delivery. Also it gave work to the people who refinished both. The items didn't end up in the land fill either.

If everyone though as I did, GNP would plummet but maybe by using less the danger to the planet would be reduced. People would not need to work so hard to buy the latest iPhone, gadget or whatever the craze is at the moment. Maybe neighbors would help neighbors, even sharing their sewing needles.