A Chat With the Dog Over Tea

It’s been raining for hours and hours and there are little floods everywhere. I’m thinking nothing should surprise us anymore. Pandemics can do wonders for building our resolve and resistance and since 2020 we have had one long season of extremes. This fact is mostly lost on Yoda. 

For him, it’s been better than usual. Three walks a day, lots of company at home and most recently, snow! As I write this, he has fallen asleep during our chat and is now dreaming up a storm next to me. Twitching paws and then alternating deep and shallow breaths. He actually makes for a good companion in this way. I love feeling him next to me.

It hasn’t been all good for him though. He lost his favorite sidekick this year. As I scroll through years past in my Facebook memories, I come upon photos of them almost daily. It’s been just a little over four months since we lost Gus. His absence remains noticeable and I still expect him to come walking around the corner every morning and climb up my body like a ramp. I miss his purr and the feel of his heart beating against my chest. 

I’ve got a puzzle on the kitchen table, still in the box, and I can’t bear to crack it open. I haven’t been able to have a puzzle here for years. Gus would never allow that. He quietly set the rules about such things and it was never worth the frustration to challenge him. I’ll lift the lid and begin one of these days, just as someday I’ll uncover my water glass and bring home fresh flowers. I think I’ll know when it’s time. Today is not that day. 

Yoda sits with me during the day and quietly goes along with whatever I have chosen to do. He has beds in every room and takes full advantage of every napping opportunity. He tolerates my music and conversations with myself. We have had a news blackout around here that has been in place since early 2017. I turned the TV news off. I won’t bring that negativity into this space. I won’t ignore the world but I won’t indulge it all of its craziness either. My home, my sanctuary.

This actually brings me to one of the reasons I sat down to write today. I have a growing pet peeve and I’d love your feedback. Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the most extreme loss of the country’s collective innocence. Insurrection Day. It gives me chills to even think about and I find myself wanting, not to wallow in it, but to try to understand it. So I go looking for some thoughtful reporting about that day.  And therein lies my dilemma. 

Pay walls. I hate them. 

I’m retired now and looking for ways to shrink my monthly expenses. I recently gave up my subscription to SiriusXM radio in favor of free audiobooks from the library. Libby has saved my life these past couple years and the library has taken on a completely new significance. Did I mention I can listen for free?

Here is my pet peeve about pay walls: If I want thoughtful, accurate, in-depth reporting on the issues, I have to pay. 5 bucks a month won’t break me, but 5 bucks a week is steep. How could I afford that for all the worthy sources? And how do I decide on just one? Actually, the bigger question I have is this: What do the people who most need to hear this kind of reporting, and who can least afford it, do?  Aren’t we creating a really dangerous scenario? 

People who can’t afford to pay for truthful, thoughtful reporting are left to get their news from what’s available to them without cost. If we worry about people getting their news from one source, aren’t we just perpetuating the problem by blocking their access to reporting that might make a meaningful difference? 


Even the likes of CNN has become a circus-like atmosphere for “reporting”. It’s entertainment in the way FOX News has always been entertainment. The news is there if you can survive the “breaking celebrity news” and pop-up ads, but you really have to dig deep. It’s true that sensationalism sells.  I’m not questioning whether or not sites like the NYTimes, WaPo, Atlantic Monthly or WSJ are worth paying for. I think they all are. What I question is whether or not we are creating a system whereas only those with a certain disposal income can get educated news on the stories making headlines today. 

I’ve been moving away from the CNN’s and toward the BBC and REUTERS. I follow my local NPR site and look for documentaries that help me dig deeper into issues, but that doesn’t solve what I see as a bigger problem: ACCESS. 

Yoda is non-plussed by our chat today. He has that same bewildered look as he does when I talk to him about death planning and downsizing. But what about you? Any thoughts? I don’t think our economic circumstance should be the thing that determines whether or not we get meaningful information about what’s happening on the planet, in our country or in our own back yard. 

I’m off to check on the birds. 
Yoda is resting up for an afternoon walk.

Thanks for sharing my cuppa tea this morning. Please do share if you have a thought. You can also follow my blog by email. Just enter your email address into the box on the right. I am excited to learn who my 200th email follower might be!

13 Comments on “A Chat With the Dog Over Tea

  1. The death of the third-party cookie is also helping to create paywalls. Publishers have been able to make money by deploying online tracking technologies to collect your personal information and show a plethora of ads to you during your visit to read “free” content. But with tracking technologies being impacted by privacy laws, that $$ is no longer easy for publishers to reap, so they must put up paywalls. I agree with your point about having the truth accessible to all, but we also need to figure out as a society how to pay the journalists and publishers who do tell the truth. They can’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts and also feed their families. I subscribe to the Seattle Times, which is an independent newspaper, and often allows me to read articles from other newspapers around the country.

    • Of course you are so right. That’s interesting about third party cookies. That seems to be the dilemma of this coming century: how to fairly compensate people in the professions we have come to rely on in this new world. Teachers, journalists, healthcare workers. No easy anwers, but we have to do a better job of access. I like the idea of donating subscriptions for local libraries and schools. Still pondering more ways to help.

  2. It’s been about 20 years since we’ve had a TV. I scan BBC and NPR websites for snippets of news and subscribe to the NYT daily email. If I want to read a NYT, Seattle Times or Kitsap Sun article I access it online through the Research Section of the Kitsap Library. NYT and other news sources are also available from the Seattle Public Library: https://www.spl.org/online-resources/magazines-and-newspapers

    The public library is my source for digital books, audio books, news, magazine as well as movies using Hoopla or Kanapoy. I tithe to the public library, I love them!

    • Great ideas ! I obviously need to further explore what all the library can offer. I feel good about ditching TV news, but I’m not sure I live happily ever after, without my mind-numbing television entertainment. All things have their use, I suppose. Most everyone commenting mentioned “scanning or snippets” when it comes to the news. I fear we have been trained well not to be thorough. A full (albeit long) article can replace a chapter in a book some nights. I fall asleep smarter than when I woke up and that’s something.

  3. “White pet jackpot” for sure. We decided to give our money to WaPo, Atlantic, and recently New Yorker, which my dad subscribed us to for many many many years, but eventually they just started piling up. I think it all comes down to where your money priorities are. After reading Washington Post for years, we thought that giving them our money was only right. Writers can’t always work for free, and there are costs involved to put out the news. There are plenty of people who choose to put a lot of money into buying lots of cable stations, and watching news there, whether it’s Fox or CNN or MSNBC. But I’d rather direct my money elsewhere, and we have no TV. NPR is free (though we donate there too), and BBC – I’m not sure, I guess I get it through NPR or on SiriusXM. I follow several newsy people on Twitter, like Heather Cox Richardson or Preet Bharara, Neal Katyal, Joyce Vance, David Frum, there are many. It often isn’t in depth, but I have less and less time or energy for that anyway. I’m a skimmer. A slim diet of headlines often keeps me well fed with an occasional deeper splurge on the fatty stuff.

    • Thanks for a few ideas. I’m happy to know that the people who are able to choose, to donate, do so. It just feels like a backward ideal. Maybe instead, people should have to pay for the non-researched articles and “fake news” instead of requiring that we pay if we want truth. Something feels very wrong about this system and gives those who hate elitists, one more thing to point to, when it comes to privilege and resources to choose. I love HCR and a few others, but they don’t always have a broad enough, or local enough perspective. Off to the library am I …

  4. I don’t pay for the news. I find it horrible enough even for free. Luckily, the internet contains the world and the world will tell you all you need to know for free. Journalism is basically dead, and as a daughter of a journalist and a journalism student myself I find it the saddest thing. They used to do it for free, now you need to pay to be controlled.

    I love your conversation and images. 🙂 Such a sweet description of how it goes, and how they answer back. (I sent you FB request but no pressure.)

    • Boy, don’t I know it. Pay for bad news ? No thanks. I have the.luxury of exploring many options, but I’m more concerned about those who don’t. I still believe good journslism is valuable and very much alive … albeit behind a paywall 🙄

      • In Slovenia it’s really bad right now. Right-wing politicians are having a ball destroying the last threads of democracy. I can see how culture and quality are being swept away. It’s ugly. 🙁 And yes, those who don’t have the options can only go for what is free, and that is crap.

  5. I pay for two daily news sources, digitally: the Washington Post and the New York Times… The Post costs me $9.99 a year, and the Times, $4 a month. For what is to my mind and heart, a STEAL for the best coverage of news, arts, human interest, culture etc. And I have access to everything those two papers have to offer. And we all know what we like to tune into and out of. I can only take so much misery and foreboding, but I love that it is all there, every morning, ready for me to tiptoe thru whatever it has to offer.

    And I also very much miss Mr Gus…* His absence is palpable, even across the miles. And his memory is a comfort…*

    • I get it, yes. It’s worth every penny and valuable. No argument there. I’m just questioning the rationale a little. It’s from a place of privilege that I even have the luxury of choice. I just think we could do better on the point of access. And yes, those two lovebugs of mine are the dream team. We miss him so much.

  6. Oh Yoda. Oh Gus. You hit the white pet jackpot with those two. I watched a lot of MSNBC two years ago, and again a year ago. I think it’s a good news source, but like you, I get weary of the sensationalism and the hyper excitement level. It’s FOX news at the other end of the spectrum. I don’t watch the news anymore; I don’t need the added anxiety. I don’t read much either other than to know what’s going on. A lot of paywalls came down during the pandemic and now include more free news than just Covid. What is sad to me, is that the people who most need thoughtful, unbiased reporting, like Heather Cox Richardson, aren’t looking for it. And I will say, the printed good news sources are too long. Even I don’t have the bandwidth most of the time. Sad but true.

    • Yeah, I get that. I have been surprised by the length of some articles I have been able to read. Still, it’s thorough. A lost art, methinks. And my white-pet jackpot, yes Yes YES. Nothing but love for them both.

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