Saturday, November 07, 2020


The dog in my life

The good and the bad, and the in between

The good news today, for many of us, is that the election has been called in favor of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. More of our countrymen—and the international community—are rejoicing tonight than not, but I know that there are many who are disappointed, angry, and convinced the world—or America—is going to socialist/communist/whatever hell in a handbasket. To them, I say I’m sorry. I know their disappointment. I felt it sharply four years ago, and I have lived with it ever since then.

But for the rest of us, there is a much-needed sense of joy. Joy has been absent in the current presidency. Many pictures of trump and Melania show a dour-looking couple, bored, unhappy, wishing they were someplace else. Pictures of Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden are filled with laughter, secret smiles shared, gestures of affection—and dogs. Donald Trump has apparently never had a dog and considers pets low-class, at least that’s what I hear he said to the Pences, who have pets. I remember a meme on Facebook that showed trump at the podium saying he would have a dog, but he didn’t have time. Below it was a picture of a small dog in a prayerful position, with the caption, “Thank you, Jesus.” The White House will now have dogs—two big German Shepherds.

This isn’t as insignificant as it seems. You can tell much about a man’s soul by the way he treats animals. Loving an animal, to me, shows an ability to reach out beyond yourself, to have empathy, to care even about the helpless among us. You can tell a lot about a man by his reaction to a dog, but you can tell even more by the dog’s reaction to the man. I have always trusted a dog’s instincts.

There is also something—a whole lot—to be said for a man (or woman) who lives life with joy. I think joy bespeaks a certain comfort in your own skin, again an ability to reach beyond yourself. In this administration, joy has been lacking in the White House—there have been no arts performances such as we’ve seen with previous administrations, few if any state dinners (maybe a few ostensibly welcoming foreign dignitaries), no welcoming people into what is supposed to be the people’s house, no seeming enjoyment of the role of leader of a major nation. A president should bring us more than health and wealth. He (and someday she) should bring us art, literature, music, crafts, the best of man’s creative and imaginative minds. I hope to see that restored.

Our country made history today with the confirmation of the first woman to be vice-president. We are, however, way behind the world. Several countries have women at the helm—Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (who successfully controlled the corona virus in her country), Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. Finland, Denmark, Norway and Taiwan are all led by women. I have great faith that Kamala Harris will one day take her rightful place on that stage and show us that the twenty-first century is the era of women coming into their own.

In the midst of celebrating, I had an “Aha!” moment: that toothache I’ve been nursing is not a toothache at all—I have the shingles. I should have known—the characteristic skin lesion on my chin, the intermittent shooting pains, the fact that pain skittered from throat to mouth to ear. My mom had this in her eighties and was miserable for a month or better. I am grateful that my case seems to be milder. Still it is one of those diseases that caught early can be wiped out by medication. I did not catch it early and am now five or six days in.

Jordan is concerned (that’s a mild word for it) about contagion. Shingles results from having had chicken pox sometime in the past—I did as a child; she never did. The skin lesion is the key to contagion—once it is dry and crusty, you are no longer contagious. So I will stop putting hot cloths on my chin immediately. Still, I am sort of ostracized out here in my cottage. I am, however, optimistic and relieved to know what it is. Also relieved I’m not facing extensive dental work—at least, I hope. I have had the first shingles vaccine several years ago, and I wonder if that is not making mine a milder case.

And the in between: I was looking forward to a writers’ conference tonight, the highly  respected Crime Bake usually held in New England. I signed up for this year’s Zoom version and set aside the hours six to eight for it. But when I tried to “zoom” in, the program told me the host was already hosting another meeting. I think I just hit one of the glitches about Zoom. So I’m reading and waiting for President-Elect Biden to speak

Happy dreams, all. Tonight, may you dream of joy and good times and dogs and health and democracy triumphing.


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