Saturday, February 23, 2019


To all of us, Ollie was a movie dog. 

The world seemed to think so, too.  Everywhere Tracy took him,  people stopped her to exclaim over him . . . over the fact that his coloring was so unique . . . over the fact that he seemed more than just another pet, that he bordered on being a tiny, four-legged person. It didn’t hurt that Ollie never met a human he didn’t like. 

He was a small Cavashon, black and white, peeking out through one black eye. But what set him apart was his way with people. He assumed Rob and I were his relatives, and  behaved as if we needed welcoming on each new occasion.  Miraculously, he knew we’d arrived at Tracy and Paul’s before we quite knew it ourselves.  Even as we approached the front door we could hear him on the other side, whining and yipping, as though to say, Get the door open, please, I need to see you. And true to his loving nature, he wiggled and wagged as we cleared the entrance, soaked up the feel of our hands on his curly-haired body, then rolled over for a last stroking of his belly.

For seven years, he greeted us thus.  We dared not move deeper into the house until we acknowledged that yes, he was our long-lost cousin.  Then he trotted to the couch and snuggled down next to Tracy.   

As far as we could tell, he never cared much for dogs. 

Besides his overflowing enthusiasm, Ollie had tricks. He was clever enough to batter open the plastic ball which contained special treats.  He sat when anyone said “sit,”  he rolled over when ordered to do so, and he lay quite still when someone said, “bang  bang.”

Most of this was in place before Tracy’s Paul arrived.  Once Paul was there for good, we observed the blooming of a new relationship.  Ollie knew a special person when he met one. Before the first month ended, Ollie was following Paul everywhere, upstairs and down, sometimes waiting for attention, but more often expressing his eagerness for their nightly walk.  He’d staked out his time as eight-fifteen, and though we’re fairly sure he never wore a watch, each night from that instant on, he sat on his haunches near Paul, gazing up at him with a look that defined the word “adoration.”  That expression is  how I’ll always remember Ollie.  It turns out he even came to warn Tracy, once, when he thought Paul was in trouble.  

Today, around noon, Ollie died.  We can’t go into detail, but at heart he was a delicate little creature, and it turned out this was a digestive problem gone wrong . . . and all because of a smoked pork bone from a high-end pet store—which we didn’t know was deadly for dogs.   

Ollie’s whole family is devastated.  None of us are dogs, to be sure, but Ollie thought we were.    

Monday, February 18, 2019


For those who might have missed this . . . ! 

Last week, Mike Pence was in Munich for a European Council meeting.  The large audience included heads of state from our most important allies—Germany, France, and others, though not Britain. 

The television news shows Pence arriving at a podium to address the crowd.  With the hint of a smile he says, “I bring you greetings from the President of the United States!”

He pulls back and waits, expecting applause. 

Instead what he gets is silence.  Total silence.  Not a hand raised, not a murmur. It was as though the Europeans had all left—or conspired in advance to snub the president. Rob and I had never seen anything like it.

Without comment, the evening news shifted to another topic. But we learned later that the group gave Vice President Joe Biden a standing ovation. Clearly, America’s current standing in Europe has dropped to zero. 

It made us wonder once more—why did so many Americans accept Trump? Long before he finished campaigning, we all knew what he was: a womanizer (his “pussy” comments), a racist (his earlier refusals to rent to blacks), a lousy businessman (his six bankruptcies), a liar (his easily-checked falsehoods), a narcissist (his focus on himself), a cheat (his earlier failures to pay workers).  The more we learned about him—even from his co-author, Tony Schwartz--the more we knew the truth; the man had no core values.  At heart he believed in nothing . . . except himself.  Except a desperate need to "win." 

Lately, Rob and I have asked ourselves: How DID he get elected?

The answer, we decided, lies with four groups, each with only one, sometimes two, issues:  A) The evangelicals—we’re anti-abortion, anti separation of church and state.  Non-religious himself, Trump professed to stand for both.  B)  The Rich—we want our money and we want still more. As they imagined he might, the prez came through for them. C) The Deep South—we don’t like blacks, and he doesn’t either. Trump’s only clear focus has been to get rid of everything Obama did or stood for.  D) The fly-over states—we’ve been ignored by everyone, and we don’t like non-whites or liberals. Trump keeps reassuring them he’s one of them.  They clap for him and he claps for himself.

With all the support he still gets from these lopsided groups, only a few break-aways  have realized they voted for a hollowed-out man. A man whose insides are empty.

To our amazement, Ann Coulter finally figured it out. Just yesterday she said, “The National Emergency is that our president is an idiot.”