Since You Asked–Responses to Reader’s Questions

Reader Mailbag

I am a horrible correspondent.  It’s not that I don’t respond—eventually, I do, and I never know whether it will be with a brief squirt of syllables or a fire hose of verbiage.  Here, I will try to briefly answer some questions that have been emailed me by readers (

How long have you and Sam (is a dog) been together?  What happened to Lucy?

 Sam (is a dog) and I have been together since the beginning of August.  Before this, he had been raised by a delightful young woman, Annie Morrall of Hopkinton, who taught him basic commands, slept with him every night, and helped him become a truly loveable dog with a great temperament.. Annie’s mom, Sherry, runs an organization called Puppy Angels, which helps placed orphaned, discarded or unwanted dogs. I will admit when I first heard the name Puppy Angels, I thought of the Angel of Death, and assumed Sherry practiced canine euthanasia.. Just the opposite, as is often the case with my first impression.

As for Lucy the Wonder Dog, the great Dutch Shepherd who shared me life for five years, she is doing wonderfully and living with two of my daughters, Libby and Becca, in Manchester.  Libby watched Lucy for a couple of weeks a year ago when Becca and I were travelling in the Southwest, and the two of them bonded and have been together since.  If I lived in a Medium White Box, I would likely kidnap Lucy and tell Libby I’d placed her on a farm out west.  I don’t, so I won’t.

What’s been the hardest thing to get used to in the Tiny White Box?

Almost every single person who asks this question is waiting to see what euphemism I’ll choose for pooping and peeing.  Each of them is disappointed, because disposing of waste is easy.  I pee in a jar and I poop in an outhouse. Easy.  So far.. But it hasn’t gotten cold yet.

The second guess is that showering outdoors would be a challenge.  It’s inconvenient, but warming up the Tiny White Box to a just-past-uncomfortable temperature before taking the shower makes it possible to get through the 90 seconds of scampering from the shower to the hot box to dry off.

The third guess is claustrophobia.  Nope.  While I’ve got diagnosed and undiagnosable mental illnesses to beat the band, discomfort in tight spaces isn’t one of them.  When you spend as much time in your own head as I do, the box containing that head is not all that important.

Washing dishes, on the other hand, is a drag.  Because it’s a chore, I have to build up enough dirty dishes to make the task worthwhile—readers can pronounce the word “worthwhile” as “an overwhelming pain in the ass.”  By the time I’ve boiled water for washing, taken soapy dishes to the outdoor shower to rinse the soap off them, boiled more water for a final rinse—just in case—I’m covered with soaked spots separated by dampness.. For the next day or so, I become very judicious indeed in using any clean dish.

Are you growing a beard?

 Absolutely not!  I’ve tried many times to grow one, and determined I’m not capable of developing a fully-formed man-beard.  Instead, I am not shaving and now have an 18-day shadow.

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