"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

Monday, December 11, 2006

Take a Deep Breath

The madness began Friday, late in the afternoon. I'd just finished roasting a turkey breast to take to the parish Christmas party when Ruth showed strange symptoms of illness just before she was supposed to have her dinner.

The Chap arrived home in a good mood, eager to display the lovely goodies he'd bought for me at his office's Christmas Crafts Fair and Bake sale. My favourite thing was these chocolate mice. They've got Hershey kisses for the heads, red cherry bodies, cherry stem tails, and sliced almonds as ears.

Ruth spoiled the moment--and our appetite for mice--by being sick again.

Panic set in. Our vet's office had already closed and would remain so till Monday morning. We were down to a single car--due to an untimely tire gone bad on mine.

I thrust the turkey at the Chap, saying, "Take this to the church, now, drop it off, and come back quick as you can. You're driving Ruth and me to the 24-hour emergency clinic in the city."

That's exactly what he did.

The little dog slept in the back seat as we drove through the icy, snowy night. Outwardly she seemed okay, but what was going on inside?

They weighed her (32 pounds), and x-rayed her--2 views. Everything looked normal. She's got the straightest little spine and adorable pelvic bones--seriously, she's as cute inside as out. She charmed the staff utterly, and these are people who see animals 24-hours a day. One of the techs threatened to sneak her out the back door and take her home.

The diagnosis: a tummy bug acquired from eating something unwholesome, probably in the back yard. The vet on duty gave her a jab of antibiotic and re-hydrated her and sent us home with a couple of cans of bland food--"doggie gruel". We were advised to keep a close watch and get in touch if she continued being sick.

In our relief, as soon as we got home we devoured chocolate mice and pieces of cake.

I was the designated dog watcher on Saturday, and that wasn't exactly compatible with the busy agenda for the day. When the Chap finished changing out the bad tire on the big Saab, I issued another edict: "Go to the tree farm and bring back the best tree you can find." Relinquishing control of that process was very uncharacteristic of me, but my concern for Ruth was greater than my desire for The Perfect Tree. I had to trust my husband. After all, we've been choosing trees together for many, many years.

My trust was entirely justified. An hour later, he returned with this:

We assumed last year's tree would hold the record as the "tallest ever." This one now holds that title.

Next on the agenda: an afternoon meeting at the church. We took Ruth along with us. She charmed everyone, as usual.

In the evening, a friend joined us for dinner--crockpot chicken curry with basmati rice. It was his first time at the Lodge. He was appropriately impressed with the size of our tree. Lola and Ruth were excellent hostesses.

On Sunday we felt comfortable leaving Ruth with Lola in the morning while we were at church. We went in separate Saabs, because after the service I headed to the Seacoast to meet two friends for a festive reunion lunch at the Portsmouth Brewery. It was wonderful.

For a while I wandered the galleries and shops near and in Market Square, and found some fun Christmas presents for fellow members of one of my committees. In the boutiques I tried on lots of hip, interesting dresses and skirts with fascinating prices. I suppose I could've indulged myself, thanks to an infusion of $$$ from a recent 2-book sale to Germany. But my wardrobe is exploding already, so I decided not to.

Until I found the dark blue blouse. Just last week I was searching every store in the capital region looking for one--navy blue, royal blue. Those colours have apparently been wiped from the fashion palette. The blouse I found in Portsmouth was undoubtedly overpriced, but it wasn't more than I would've paid elsewhere. It's also unique and gorgeous and flattering and absolutely perfect.

As planned, at 5 p.m. I attended a "Come as You Are" eucharist at the smaller of the two Portsmouth Episcopal churches. This was a different and very intimate sort of service, featuring an alternative liturgy and modern music. We began with what I would call "godly breathing" which was exactly what I needed to relax and center myself.

I was home in time for pizza and The Amazing Race finale. The outcome pleased me very much.

I'm doing practically nothing today, just breathing deeply and calmly. It's my quiet day, and I've got a book to read. I've curbed my impatience to decorate the monster tree--no getting up on a ladder unless the Chap's around, and obviously I'll need the tallest of our ladders. My goal is to finish by the end of this week (given his schedule, it could be a protracted process).

Ruth is fully recovered from whatever It was.

P.S. Barack Obama was here this weekend. The excitement level rose "to eleven" among the press and politicos and ordinary citizens. May even "to twelve". Yesterday, he was in Portsmouth while I was there, signing books for the 750 people lucky enough to reserve their free tickets before the cut-off. Later he made an address at the Democratic Victory Party--to which I, of course, had been invited. So many people wanted to be there, they had to change to a larger venue. At least 1500 people showed up. I wasn't one of them because my calendar was already full. Besides, I had the expectation--and hope--that he'll be back, often, providing numerous future opportunities to hang out with him. From the laudatory comments in the morning's papers, I might just get my wish!

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