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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Salem-Liberty Christmas program was last night, after two reschedulings due to snow. The kids were ready for it, everyone was in high good spirits, and I glowed with pride as Phoebe (the redhead in black velvet) played "Snowflakes Falling" on her plastic recorder, along with her best friends and teammates Jessi and Abbey. In every photo, Phoebe's fingers hug the instrument with grace and economy, as they should. She told me she is one of the few kids who consistently hits low D. I plan to augment that recorder with a pennywhistle soon.

There was a Santa at school, with a decidedly real pelt. I can't believe how big my little boy is now, how lovely my little girl is. I take pictures as if I could preserve them in amber. They're arrows shot from a bow, those kids, and there's nothing we can do to hold them but to treasure every moment with them.
I'm feeling very hollydayish, having spent the entire day wrapping presents. Everything's stuffed into the back shower, which has a magnetized door that's very hard to open, ideal for hiding things. A big sign on the door that says NO, LIAM! (two words that he can read at just six years old) helps, too. What did not help was Chet Baker. Chet Baker's idea of helping me wrap Christmas presents was to sidle up and put a big, usually soggy, toy atop whatever I was wrapping. He'd stand on the
wrapping paper, looking off into space, ears folded back, as if deep in thought. The whole point, for him, was to interrupt the process and make me fling the toy as hard as I could down the hall. That would buy me a few seconds in which to hurriedly slap tape on the package and get it out of his way before he returned for another go at me. My packages look like they were wrapped by a monkey.

I find this 1-year-old Boston so fascinating, because he's as playful as he was at 3 months of age. People tell me that their Bostons act like puppies their whole lives, something I'm looking forward to. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to note that having a critter underfoot that looks a lot like a human baby helps ease the ache when your little girl is too old to whisper to Santa, and your sweet youngest boy is almost too big for his lap. I must get hold of a copy of Jon Katz's book, The New Work of Dogs. I have a feeling that much of this new work will describe Chet Baker's place in my life.

I enjoyed Katz's book, The Dogs of Bedlam Farm. He's as much a psychologist as a dog guy, and he's got people pretty well figured out as he explores the canine-human interface. Working with border collies, he's got some pretty intense dog-human relationships. I don't know if I could take having a herding dog around, staring at me, wanting me to give him a meaningful job to do. I've always been a lousy delegator. So a dog that just pesters me for the sake of pestering me is perfect. There was no question in my mind that I wanted a boy dog--no mystery there, either. I love Liam's boy energy, even as he orbits around me, asking endless questions, wanting to use the computer. The happy upshot? A not-so-empty nest, when my babies are away at school. Thanks, Baker. You do good work.


Hi Julie,
I'm a new fan of your blog and I just decided to go back and start from the very beginning (a very good place to start). I feel like we must be related somehow; long lost book club friends maybe? I loved The Dogs of Bedlam Farm, although I've never owned a dog - but have a cat who sometimes thinks he's one. I also just bought a copy of Letters from Eden and have been rushing through my summer novel since it arrived. I was so excited to see that Sy Montgomery wrote the preface; it makes me happy to know the two of you know of each other. And I imagine you must have read The Good Good Pig, set in my native NH and one of my favorites. Isn't serendipity great.

Hi Jen,

Since there's no other way to contact you I hope you'll check back. Thank you! I'm so glad to have you on board. And I see that I never got hold of The New Work of Dogs--and need to--another friend mentioned it in an email just today. Serendipity makes the world go round. This says I'm posting as Phoebe but it is...


Julie--I've followed your blog for a long time, and just now revisted it after recently enjoying Chet's Facebook page. This beginning of what I call the "Chet-isims" was a delight to go back and read! He is a very special dog, made even more special by your witty and loving observations of him. Thanks so much for sharing with all of us!

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