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Hey 21! Phoebe's All Grown Up!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

 I was thinking last evening about how very, very different the weather was on the evening of July 10, 1996. It was cool, cool enough to slow the crickets down and make me stretch one of Bill's great big fleece pullovers over my head and heaving abdomen. I sat heavily in a cedar Adirondack chair, long since rotted away, and submitted to a video interview by Bill, holding a camcorder on his shoulder (remember those?) It was bigger than his head. He was asking me questions about how I thought our baby would be: what she'd look like, whether she'd have long legs like his or short ones like mine.

July 10, 2017. Now THAT is ugly. In the most beautiful way. I was frantically picking wax beans in the garden, trying to get a meal before it hit. I failed. My favorite weather: the leadup to a thunderstorm. I HAVE to be out in it.

At the time I was a bit annoyed, as only a full-term pregnant woman can be, that he would subject me to this interview, and I told him he had to avert the camera while I puffed through the contractions, dammit! I didn't know it then but I was in active labor, and technically probably should have been at the hospital. When I did get to the hospital they checked me and started rushing around like their gowns were on fire, but it was to be another 12 hours of fabulous back labor before Phoebe made the scene. I pretty much knew there was no big rush. There was an herbed chicken with sweet potatoes roasting in the oven, and a pint of ice cream in the freezer that I intended to eat, because my midwife had told me they wouldn't let me eat once I got to the hospital. Well then! I had the hardest 24 hours of work in my life ahead of me, and you have to eat to work like that. We didn't go into town until midnight. Phoebe arrived at 11:41 AM July 11, 1996.

I watch that prenatal interview now and I'm so glad we have it, because so much more than what I hoped for that mystery baby has come true. I couldn't have dreamt a baby like that one has turned out to be.

"Good" doesn't quite capture this light, does it?

We all went out on the deck last night to bask in the after-storm light. I was so overcome I was unable to speak. This is a new thing with me...I stutter when the light is good. I stutter when I see deer doing good things that need to be photographed. When a worm-eating warbler shows up at the studio window, as one just did. I literally cannot form any words. I see Bill and Liam looking at each other and then at me, the way the Jetsons looked at Rosie the Robot when she'd get a short and go on the fritz and throw her metal claws up in the air and spin around in circles like a big clanky phalarope.

I know my brain is changing as I age, and this sudden incapacitation in the face of great beauty is one of the early heads-up I suspect. Or I could call it rapture. Yes. Let's call it rapture. 

All this beauty gave me to contemplate about what can happen in 21 years. One moment, you have a squirmy little girl with a tuft of copper on her head who can't even sit up

so you fake her taking a great balletic leap as she lies on a blanket

 and the next you have a lissome woman at your side, who is not only standing up but walking alone.

Phoebe is both an object of contemplation and a muse.  She is also my friend. As is her brother. At this point, they are giving me far more than I give them (well, if you don't count Bowdoin's spring semester bill gaaaaaackkkk). Together, they plug me in each night, help keep me going.

Playing the Jungle Gym game with a very young Jemima Jay, the kids cracked up when Chet Baker inserted himself into the scene. You have your hands out. Pet me then. Pay no attention to the little bird on the basket. Do not even look at her.

This sustaining love they both receive and give has only grown through the years. 

When she could still outrun him... (October 2014)

and when she no longer could. (June 2017)

When she got back from Panama, the longest time she'd ever been away from Liam, from us, from home. 

That love between them is my favorite thing about these kids. 

On this, Phoebe's 21st birthday, I wanted to celebrate her, and I could easily spend all day posting photos and writing captions. But I thought I'd pick out just two things to celebrate. And those are the love between her and Liam and her maximum bird magic. 

It started early, with Charlie Macaw.  This bird, whose vise-like bill could crack a Brazil nut, decided Phoebe was her baby. And all babies need attention and preening.

Phoebe knows that better than anyone. She is who made Jemima the character she is. As my DOD always said, "Attention makes the pup." It's been borne out again and again. Ask Chet Baker. Ask Jemima. As fate would have it, Phoebe was home during the critical socialization weeks of this jay, giving her the undivided attention that gave her confidence and strength of character.

Did this love and affection cause Jemima to be hopelessly imprinted on humans? Nope. Not by current indications. More on that later. Data is still coming in in great batches.

Can you love a wee little jay and still set her free? Yep. You can. 

Can rehab be fun? Yep. It is (except when it's not.)

 I present Phoebe and the Amazing Inflatable Blue Jay.

On your birthday, Phoebe, I wish you all the happiness in the world. I wish you best friends and delicious food and beautiful days. I wish you the sustaining love of your family and bird magic, every day.

I wish you joy enough to leap for.

Keep those snaps and texts coming, baby. I'm on my way. 


It has been fun watching your chicks grow up and fledge. Phoebe is a beautiful young woman.

Happiness. Love. And yes, the sky before a storm.

Happy Birthday to the bird puffer!

Super sweet. All of it. Her. You. Them, including Jemima and Chet. Very dear.

Since you asked, no, "good' doesn't quite capture that light. In fact, it doesn't even come close! I would call that light "sublime!"

You've given Jemima and Phoebe all the love they need to succeed in life. They will both be just fine.

What a beautiful picture feast of the lovely Phoebe much love in her...Happy Birthday, Phoebe!


Happy Birthday Phoebe from one 7/11-er to another!


What wonderful photos and sentiments. Plucks the strings of this daddy's heart.


So great. Love that ideal word "lissome." Hope this means you're having some mom & daughter time. Kim in PA

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