"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Lucky Find

In my racing about on Tuesday, I stopped at the library to pick up a book from Inter-library loan. I expected it to have helpful information about the 17th century portrait painter who immortalised my heroine on canvas--at least three times that I'm aware of.

What I didn't expect to find was the image of a portrait I knew existed, from her household accounts, but had never--or so I thought--been reproduced. Imagine my glee! It shows her aged about 7, and is a dual portrait with her younger sister (whose parentage is highly suspect.) And I'm just as gleeful to see that the girls look absolutely nothing alike. Nor does the sister resemble either of their parents in the slightest.

She does, however, look quite like a gentleman who in 1680 paid frequent visits to their mother, very free with her favours both before and after her marriage. She gave birth to her second daughter in 1681. Sounds about right to me.

Here's my protagonist as a little girl:

And here's she is in her teen years.

Same artist. And, from the look of those sleeves, virtually the same costume! Styles of pseudo-classical drapery didn't change greatly through the years.

My recent activities kept me away from the manuscript, and I've fallen behind. Look forward to making better progress over the next four days.

Forgot to mention that Sunday, driving to church, I spotted the biggest flock of turkeys I've ever seen in my life. It had to be more than one flock, because there were several adult-sized birds mixed among the juveniles. I stopped the car to count, and know that their number exceeded two dozen. Some were marching up a steep driveway, but they had fanned out across the hillside.

The Chap, who had an early meeting at the church and went on his own that morning, also reported spotting a massive number of turkeys earlier than my sighting--but on a different part of the road. We can't work out whether we saw the same enormous flock, or whether two separate ones were on the move within an hour of one another.

This morning the furnace man came to inspect and clean our equipment. A reminder that someday this pleasant, spring-like weather will give way to chilly autumn temperatures. Here and there, the maple leaves are changing colour.

My rugosas have made masses of rose hips--is that a sign of a harsh winter ahead? I'm not supposed to harvest them till after the first frost, and whenever it arrives I hope I won't be too busy to pick the hips and make some jelly or jam. I've done it before, but it all depends on timing.

I'm waiting on a phone call from the editor of a glossy lifestyle magazine, to work out details of my assignment. I was out when she rang me up earlier in the week.

And I'm intermittently following the furor over Tony Blair, and tracking developments in the move to oust him as leader of the Labour Party. We were in Britain for the fall of Margaret Thatcher, and the final descent of John Major...rather sorry to miss this particular sideshow. Although there's no saying how long the stubborn Blair will hang on--another year, he hopes! Poor Mr. Brown, will he ever get his long-desired, endlessly-promised carrot on the stick?

Are my parents--in Scotland--paying attention to news of this political turmoil? Probably not. I like to think they're blissfully strolling through the heather and bird-watching and such. I remember how awfully far away London seems when you're on the Kintyre peninsula.

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