Happy 4th of July!

Here’s a 4th of July novel that you might have read; if not you might enjoy it —

Do you recognize this? Ninth Daughter is the first of the historical mystery by Barbara Hambly, writing as “Barbara Hamilton,” that features Abigail Adams as the protagonist and therefore lost of historical figures as secondary characters.

1773: The Massachusetts colony is torn between patriots who want independence from British rule and loyalists who support the King. At the center is the educated and beautiful Abigail Adams-wife of John Adams, a leader of the Sons of Liberty, the secret organization opposing the Crown. And when her husband is accused of murder, she must work to clear his name.

It’s only got a 4.1 star average, which I think is fair because as a mystery … let’s say that I thought the killer was pretty obvious before we got there. However, Hambly’s great strength as a writer is setting. It’s 1773 and You Are There. This is a brilliant story to bring the era to life. I enjoyed it a lot, especially since Hambly’s other great strength as a writer is characterization, and her third great strength is sentence-level craft. I do regret that she only wrote three books in this series. I would have been happy to read more.


Since I’ve been posting poetry on Thursday, let me do that today as well. Here is possibly the single most famous poem by Whitman:

I Hear America Singing

Walt Whitman

1819 – 1892

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.


Enjoy the fireworks tonight!


Image from Pixabey

And let’s all keep in mind that as a general rule, children, but not dogs, belong at fireworks displays. I have personally snagged the occasional panicked dog during a fireworks display, then returned the dog to whomever turned up fifteen minutes later calling, “Trixie! Trixie!” in a hopeless tone. They were darn lucky I was there, with a leash probably, just in case. A friend of mine, also a dog person, also brings a leash when she attends 4th of July fireworks displays just in case a terrified dog dashes past and can be caught. And yes, she has also caught one now and then. The obvious way to avoid depending on strangers to catch your panicked dog is not to bring your dog to a fireworks display.

However, in case anybody has a puppy right this minute, here is how to desensitize puppies to noise, including fireworks, thunder, and guns:

Seize the opportunity of the first thunderstorm or the chance that your neighbors are setting off fireworks on the third to teach your puppy that noise is fine. Be prepared with a very generous number of exceedingly tasty, nutritious treats, such as those dried chicken treats cut up small. When the noise starts, have a rapid-fire, fun-filled, highly positive training session. Practice rapid sit/down/stand position changes. Teach your dog to jump through a hoop over on and off the couch or over a broomstick. Practice fast heeling with lots of direction changes. Everything fun! No corrections other than saying, “Oh, too bad, try again!” occasionally, but make the session challenging so you both have to concentrate. Use LOTS of treats.

After fifteen minutes, if the noise is ongoing — which is great for this purpose — turn on some nice music, something soothing, possibly Ode to Joy or whatever. Settle down in the bedroom for a nap. I mean you, pretend to take a nap, with your puppy cuddled up near you. Or read a story aloud to your puppy. A soothing, nice story. If the thunder booms, glance up and say, “Wow, that was loud, huh?” and go on with the story. Ten gold stars if you have adult dogs sleeping on the bed with you and the puppy while the storm is raging. There’s nothing better than a bored adult dog to demonstrate to a puppy that thunder is fine. The only thing that comes close is you demonstrating boredom and unconcern yourself.

Storms make you tense yourself? Then cheat: Suck on a peppermint. This, it is said, disguises YOUR tension from the dog and helps the dog believe your performance of a bored, sleepy, unconcerned human. By the way, I have used the peppermint trick to help get a dog through anxiety-induced carsickness and I think it works. I mean peppermint plus a bored attitude, not peppermint alone. I hate peppermint, as it happens, so this was very much a specific adjunct to classical conditioning.

Gun shyness is created by poor handling of the puppy pretty nearly 100% of the time. Don’t shoot guns right over the top of the puppy’s head to see what will happen. I’m trying to avoid vehement language here, so I will just note that this is a great way to create gun shyness even if the puppy is not genetically sensitive to sound. Get someone else to shoot at tin cans or something at a considerable distance and gradually come closer. Take a week to get a puppy used to gunfire and you guarantee the puppy will not be gun shy. I realize that’s not relevant unless you want, for example, to take your Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy goose hunting. If you do, then for heaven’s sake take a few days or a week to make sure your puppy will enjoy that and will not be worried by gunfire.

Joy is not at all bothered by noise. We had lots of thunderstorms in early summer, so she had plenty of chances to see that the older dogs aren’t worried by thunder. That sure makes my job easier.

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1 thought on “Happy 4th of July!”

  1. Happy 4th of July for those who celebrate, and even for me though I’m not from the USA: I just discovered there’s another new Penric story available!
    *Penric and the bandit* was released on June 30th for Kindle.

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