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Chet in Church

Monday, December 22, 2014

In my last post, I demonstrated Dogtography, Mode I, the Fashion Photog mode, where I put the camera right in Chet's highly aware little face, talk to him, coach him and snap away. That's fine for what it is, but Mode II is when the neatest stuff happens. 

That's when I turn off the sound on my iPhone camera so he can't hear the (fake) shutter skazicking, sit back and just let what happens happen. It becomes an exercise in composition, with Chet composing the shots for me. A synergy with this little animal and the place we love that is nothing short of magical. 


On this rare, rare sunny morning the light was pouring in the Waxler Church like honey, and Chet was deciding where to take his sunbath.

Here might be best.

When he finally folded onto the dusty wood floor, he looked like nothing so much as a reverent little lamb.

And yet there was an attentiveness about him that made me think he was listening to something from beyond.

Who knows what a dog thinks about when he's sitting in the sun?

Perhaps nothing at all. Perhaps he's hearing a conversation between spirits. Nose to the wall, ears turned backward, he's hearing something. 

The simple interior of Waxler Church has a timeworn perfection that draws me back again and again. I am so grateful to the people who keep it standing. Who leave it unlocked for the wanderers. I know why they do that. Because otherwise, someone might break in. Lock it, and you're inviting destruction. Leave it open, and they don't have to ruin it to get inside.

 I wish these caretakers could somehow know what this place means to me. How it soothes my soul. How its perfect woodwarm acoustics give my wavery, sometimes thin-in-the-higher-register voice wings. Here, where nobody can hear me, is where I come to sing. And, in my own way, worship. Hosannas to light, one after another.

More slate shingles and part of the belfry siding came off in the last storm, the same one that tore the panes from my greenhouse. I'll do a preemptive strike, and will tape them in place with clear Gorilla Repair Tape tomorrow. According to my Guardian Storm Angel, Christmas Day will bring winds of at least 40 mph, to pluck and pick and tear at the fragile little structures I love and need most. 

  I know that this church will not grace its windswept hilltop forever. I find it more careworn with every visit; the ruffled slate roof rougher, the floor a little more rotted under the old central stovepipe.  I mean to appreciate it while it is here, because all good things seem to come to an end. If passing 50 teaches you anything, it is a full appreciation of ephemerality.


Love old churches. Their fall to neglect is a sadness and shame, a great loss of our history - usually in the most charming of communities whose character is too often lost on so-called progress. Thanks for the photos. Lovely.

Great post. That church looks like a magical place. I think you're right about Chet listening. He has the same look that my cairn terrier, Willy, gets when he's looking out the front window to the empty street.I like to think he's listening to the wind.

Posted by December 22, 2014 at 2:28 PM

"If passing 50 teaches you anything, it is a full appreciation of ephemerality." I'm having the same experience this Christmas season for different reasons--but bless you for your meditation on the subject. Happy holidays to you, Bill, Phoebe, Liam, and of course the one and only Bacon.

Big hug from me to you. Love you and this beautiful piece.

I'm sure the church's caretakers would love to know how you feel about it. Very likely close to how they feel about this church. Why not print out a few of your blog posts on it and put them in one of your illustrated cards and leave it in the church for the caretakers to find. A nice hosanna for them.

Posted by Gail Spratley December 22, 2014 at 6:52 PM

I agree with Gail, above. I'm sure that the caretakers would love to know how much you love the church. A little note to them by the omnipresent flowers that they leave would be a nice gesture. Obviously they love the place enough to take care of it. They would love to hear that someone else loves the place and appreciates what they do.

And I think that old churches like this one are filled with a lot of spirits who loved the place and still visit it. I also think that dogs (who can hear in frequencies that we can't) can possibly hear them. Maybe that is what Chet Baker is listening to: some spirits chuckling over the doggeh who visits them.

Thanks for making the ephemeral eternal.

HI Julie, I just passed on your blog to a young friend who asked which internet sources I use. While most of what I gave her was of the professional-nature (which can represent challenges if not actual struggles, i.e., action alerts of urgent nature), I included your blog for pure happiness, connectedness, and balance. Thank you, Julie. Best wishes to you and your family (which of course includes Chet Baker!) for the holidays and 2015. :)

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