"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 31, 2007

Garden Views

The snow falls outside, but indoors the gardening season never ends.

Plants currently in bloom:

Red Cyclamen, on kitchen windowsill

Rosemary, on heirloom wooden chest that belonged to Cap'n Billy Porter a century ago

White azalea, on mahogany buffet in dining room

Crown of Thorns, on Cap'n Billy's chest

Sweet Olive, on kitchen counter

The tiny creamy flowers of the above have a surprisingly powerful scent. I reminds me of my childhood home, where great bushes grew beneath the front windows--and still do, though they don't bloom at this time of year.

Office Views

View from my office windows this snowy New Year's Eve.

My mind and heart are full on this last day of a most busy year, which brought so much. Fresh responsibilities, interesting challenges, new-met friends (in person and online and even both), wonderful discoveries, precious journeys, countless words written (never enough!), a third dog. I am grateful for my parents and brother, and the bond of love that overcomes a separation of so many miles. And I'm ever thankful for my husband, with whom I shall quietly ring in this mysterious and promising New Year. By the fireside. With bubbly. And a trio of canines.

Today's accumulation may well match or exceed the monthly record for snowfall. It's apparently the snowiest December because this morning we've overtaken the record that stood since 1876.

Here at the Lodge, we've got 10 inches. Maybe a foot. No wind, and only a few degrees below freezing. I shovelled the steps of the dogs' deck without any difficulty--other than freaking out about the height of some of the snow piles round here!

Reportedly New Year's Day will bring even more...as finished 2007, so begins 2008. May it be a happy, fulfilling, prosperous one for all!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Year-end activities

Yesterday we had some system upgrades here at the Lodge. The girls were gracious--and curious--hostesses to the technician, who was working indoors and out. At one point Jewel noticed he'd left his knit cap on the floor in my office and she picked it up. I pried it from her mouth in time to prevent any destruction!

At church this morning, we had three baptisms! An infant and her much older sisters.

At Christmas our family received a waddling, wing-flapping, clucking mechanical chicken. Its effect on the girls has been fun to watch. Here, Jewel bows down to the power of the chicken.

Lola is bemused as it marches past.

Ruth thinks she's herding it.

In accordance with the superstitions by which I was raised, I had to take down the tree today. It's supposed to be out of the house before New Year's Day, ad since I didn't care to be atop a very tall ladder while the Chap is away tomorrow, I completed the task this afternoon. It only took a couple of hours to remove all the ornaments and lights . . . . We try to get it in place nice and early so we have a good long while to enjoy it. I do notice its absence--somehow the upstairs sitting room seems less large without that enormous green shape and all the colourful decorations.

I repotted my little camellia plant, budding up very nicely. Also a tiny lavender plant grown from a cutting--I've managed to sort of bonsai it by twisting the two main stems together. The lavender cuttings taken at Hampton Court are still in a hopeful condition.

If you're a Patriots fan, all thanks for the momentous victory is due to the residents of the Lodge. We watched a film Once instead of the game. I was thoroughly distracted by all those scenes of Dublin's Grafton Street, and kept erupting with comments like, "Oh, there' s Laura Ashley store where I always shop! Look, Dunnes Stores!" As well as other familiar landmarks: "St. Stephen's Green!" "The Aer Lingus ticketing counter at Dublin airport!" Both the Chap and I grew quite nostalgic, not only for the city by the Liffey, but for our radio station mates.

At bedtime I checked in briefly for a football score. At that stage is was a nerve-wracking 31 to 28. And yet--I turned off the telly and headed for the Land of Nod. It took me a while to get to the Border of Nod, so sometime before midnight I switched the telly on again to determine the outcome. By that time the Post-game Victory show was on.

For the past month, if it's a Thursday or a Sunday, we can brace for a snowstorm. We've got another one on the way, just in time for New Year's Eve Day.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What it's like round here

I'm about to stray into matters political, in a purely observational fashion.

First, world politics. It feels odd to feel so profoundly shocked and deeply saddened by a tragedy that at the same time isn't surprising. The assasination of Benazir Bhutto is a grave misfortune--another trial for a political family and a polarised nation that have suffered countless identically senseless deaths.

Now, national politics--which for me and most in my area, is local. (Don't worry--No endorsements, no campaigning!) The scene here is more peaceable, but very, very active. Our phones ring early and often...pollsters, mostly. We don't usually pick up...unless we hear an identifiable voice on the answerphone. Family or friend, that is. If we hear the voice someone we only recognise from watching C-SPAN, we ignore it. Last night when the Chap did pick up and promptly began answering questions ("Yes" "Yes" "No") and then dropped a name, I learnt for the first time who he's likely voting for in the January 8th primary.

This morning, heading out for my Thursday rounds for the final time this year (next week my schedule changes significantly) I spotted something most unusual--something out-of-staters will probably not understand. When approaching the roundabout in my town, I noticed a new blue-red political sign poking up from the mound of sloppy, darkening snow.


If you're not from here, and perhaps even if you are, you're thinking, "What? Who?

Yes, Virginia, there really is a man called Mark Klein running for President. He's a retired psychiatrist. Meaning Ron Paul isn't the only doctor who'll appear on our ballot.

What makes the Granite State's Presidential Primary unique is the fact that any qualified person--native U.S. citizen meeting the age requirements--willing to plunk down $1000 in our Secretary of State's office can run for President. Don't believe me? Read this. It lists all our 2008 hopefuls.

Aren't you surprised how many such persons exist? I always am.

You might also be surprised to know that people can "run" for Vice President in our primary. I actually know somebody who's doing it: my own state senator.

Before my morning mandolin lesson I stopped at Staples to stock up on memory cards, which I suddenly need a lot of. After my lesson I copied research material at Kinko's. Leaving the shopping area I noted how the huge 4-way intersection was decorated on all sides with Ron Paul political signs. Two volunteers holding very large signs waved vigorously at passing cars, while being pelted with big cold raindrops.

I next braved a shopping mall. It's ringed round with Mike Gravel signs, ginormous ones.

I visted a single store where I promptly off-loaded a tiny portion of my Christmas gift money on snazzy (seriously marked down) new garments in which to start out the next legislative session. Heading home, I spotted a second Mark Klein sign along the highway.

Dropped off a couple of books at the library, where a staffer was cleaning the windows in the Porter Reading Area. Thanks!

On the last leg of my homeward drive the heavy rain turned to sleet which was transformed into snow by the time I reached the road that leads to my road. Several inches are supposed to be coming. That should freshen up the rapidly browning snow mounds along our thoroughfares. They need it!

The Chap is being let out early due to the weather.

Within the past few minutes I've unsubscribed from the emailing lists of the many, many campaigns that auto-added me in recent months. Two weeks from today, this state will quiet down and, as they say on the soaps, "Get on with its life". Between now and then, all eyes--and pollsters' ears--are upon us.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

A favourite memory from this holiday season: driving to church on Christmas Eve under a beautiful full moon.

For me, this is a quiet Boxing Day, as the Chap has returned to his office (sporting the new necktie I got him in London). It's also my brother's birthday (he was my late Christmas gift that year). And a first cousin's birthday. What a family we are for doubling-up on birthdays! (My father-in-law and I share ours.)

It's also the Feast of St. Stephen, the patronal saint of our parish church.

In keeping with Boxing Day traditions, I'll be taking care of some charitable donations today. And on this, the Second Day of Christmas, we'll have our Christmas Pudding (personally imported from the UK).

It's bad form to crow about pressies received. I'll just say that several of mine were surprising or simple or sentimental or all three. From my mum, a hand-me-down Rosenthal rose-patterned cake plate that was my grandmother's. From the chap, myrrh-scented joss sticks, with an aroma very similar to liturgical incense, which I happen to like. A jar of honey from the family hives.

Today I'm re-organising my office a bit. And reading. And writing.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas!

From me and Ruth and Jewel

(on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa)

and Lola

and the Chap.

This morning, the young girls enjoyed their newest toy

and this girl was thrilled to have a fun new shirt

(you've been warned!)

Everyone received more bounty than they felt they deserved, and all are grateful to the givers.

For at least two centuries, and possibly longer, my family members have enjoyed this traditional custard.

Off I go to consume some....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Birthday Party

When our church replaced the old crĂȘche with a finer new one several years ago, the parishioners could choose which figures they wanted to give. The Chap and I donated a sheepdog and a small flock of sheep.

Now that the interiour renovations are finished, the congregation returned to the sanctuary, and the crĂȘche was already set up. After the service I was shooting pictures for the parish website.

In my family, December 23rd was an extremely important day, the traditional start to the seasonal festivities. It was a double-birthday--my grandfather's, and my great-uncle's. No, they weren't twins, they were brothers-in-law. I'm not sure when my grandmother and her sister started throwing the joint Birthday Party for their husbands, I only know it was an annual event before I ever existed.

In my youth, my grandparents lived in Washington, D.C. where my grandfather "worked for the President" which sounds like a euphemism but was very true. They always came back "home" for the Birthday Party and to be around their daughters and grandchildren at Christmas and New Year's.

My great-aunt, because she lived locally, was always the Birthday Party hostess. As I recall, the big event took place on the Saturday or Sunday before Christmas, which sometimes--like this year--was actually the 23rd.

On the Chosen Day, my parents, my younger brother and I would dress up in our best and drive across town, across the river to the rather splendid home of my great-aunt and -uncle. The butler opened the door to us. We were always corrected when we referred to him as "the butler" amongst ourselves and were instructed to always use his first name, which I've unfortunately forgotten.

Inside, the house smelled wonderful and was beautifully decorated. Heedless of our finery, we would fling ourselves at our grandparents--often it was the first time we'd be seeing them since their arrival from D.C. We would gaze upon our glamourous cousin--my mother's first cousin--who was either home from her college or home from her New York life. Sometimes she was working as a model, or a stylist. Our great-uncle had a booming voice but was a very cheery and welcoming soul, who always noticed how much we'd grown since the last time we'd met. Our other great-uncle was there, too (brother to the wives of the birthday boys) with his wife and his two sons (my mother's first cousins, who were not much older than me.) My mother's sister was sometimes there, with her husband, typically without their three young sons who were even younger than my brother and me.

After making nice with all the relatives, we'd pop into the kitchen to say hello and Merry Christmas to the cook. She had a name, too, can't recall it. (I should've phoned my mother for some details before writing all this....)

Kids that we were, we hoped there would be presents under the tree with our names, and were never disappointed. Reassured, we started in on the hors d'oeuvres--cheese biscuits and spicy nuts and candies and other scrummy munchy stuff. We'd play with the white poodle (she was never much fun, and not terribly keen on children, especially as she aged.) We would beg our mother to let us go outside. "Not until after dinner," she would say. "You'll get dirty." She would occasionally caution us to settle down, and quite rightly--we were surrounded by antique furnishings and delicate porcelain adorned every shelf, Christmas cards propped up among them.

We opened presents around the tree. The birthday boys went first, then there was a mini-Christmas for us kids.

After what seemed like way too much eating and drinking and adult conviviality, the festive feast was served in the dining room. Many courses. Plenty of wine. Lots of fiddly gravy boats and jelly spoons. I lived in fear of spilling something on the pristine white damask tablecloth--in all likelihood a family heirloom. Usually it was my brother who made the mess, not me.

We obediently remained in our chairs--fidgeting. Eventually the birthday cake arrived on the scene. My great-aunt baked it herself and had applied the glistening white frosting with exquisite care. We sang "Happy Birthday" to my grandfather ("Archie" short for Archibald, his parents were so unabashedly Scottish) and my great-uncle ("Bill", although none of his names was William or anything remotely like). Candles were blown out, the cake was sliced--a protracted business. We ate as much of it as we had room for, and, if the weather permitted, were sent outdoors.

Behind our great-aunt's house were gardens, and within the gardens were stone-walled canals. With goldfish. They fascinated us as they glided through the cold water--we found out how cold when we reached in to try and catch an elusive shining fish.

There was also a little playhouse, a Wendy house--our glamourous cousin's--fitted up with everything a house required. Someone--either Uncle Bill or the butler--would unlock it for us.

We'd wander back into the house. My brother would play with the boy cousins and whatever toys had been bestowed. I would explore the house, playing princess in my glamourous cousin's elegant bedroom. The grown men were talking about politics and watching whatever football game my great-uncle couldn't miss. The women gossiped about friends and relatives and talked about recipes. As I grew weary, I would curl up near my mother and shamelessly eavesdrop on these conversations.

The party wound down by or before darkness fell. Our family climbed into the car, drove through the night across the river and through the city to our own house.

We'd settle in early, getting in a good night's rest before the next round of merriment on Christmas Eve. Which also had its traditional elements.

Uncle Bill was the first of his generation to pass away--several years after he and my great-aunt had moved into an apartment. Their rather splendid house had been handed over to my glamourous cousin who raised her two daughters there and resides there still. I daresay the goldfish are long gone.

My grandfather died in 2001, about six weeks before the December 23rd that would've been his 100th birthday. A few years later we lost my great-aunt, in her 93rd (I think) year. Her elder sister, my grandmother, died the following year at 96.

I do rejoice at their longevity, and can't help missing them on this memorable date. They live again for me when I reminisce about the Birthday Party, a favourite family tradition that vanished with them--the details of which, in retrospect, seem like something I made up for one of my novels.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Visiting the big, busy world beyond the Lodge yesterday, I found snow mounds more massive than earlier in the week, and a maddening amount of traffic. After my mandolin lesson I dropped off London-purchased Christmas gifts for my two youngest friends (at their dad's office), then picked up some stocking stuffers for the dogs, retrieved my Honorable Mail from my P.O. Box, and unloaded our household mail from our other mailbox (a double load, as the rural carrier couldn't deliver on Thursday because the town plow was so late getting to our area.)

I found numerous Christmas cards from the V.I.P.P.'s (Very Important Political People), and even better, from my best mates of college and grad school years.

A few yards from our mailbox is this view of our little lake. The phenomenon I spotted: mist rising off the snow-covered surface.

The photo doesn't do it justice. I sat and gazed and gazed with the car window down, until I got cold. The light was fading rapidly.

This afternoon a priest friend--or to give him his proper title, a reverend canon friend--and I are seeing Sweeney Todd. I reckon we're the only two people in Christendom who aren't frantically finishing up Christmas shopping--wrapping--baking!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Snow pictures...again

But first--the debut of Holy Toast. Made by me. Last night.

The big deck (aka the Party Deck) this morning.

The lower deck (aka the Octagon).

Ruth and Lola, snow-leaping across their fenced yard.

After romping in the snow, Jewel is ready to come inside for a nap. Ruth...not so much.

It is a most beautiful day! I certainly don't consider this a Bleak Midwinter, but we've definitely seen the "snow on snow on snow...."

Our property was covered with a pristine, perfectly smooth white blanket. But last night a single deer, or multiple deer (aka deers in MEP-speak) traversed it, leaving their trails.

Fun with Statistics: As of last night, December snowfall for Concord (aka the Capital City) equals 28 inches. By this this date in December '06, a mere and nearly nonexistent .2 inches.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Yesterday's snow never quite materialised, by bedtime we had perhaps half-an-inch.

Today we're supposed to get that "4 to 8 to 10" inches. It's been quite white this morning. I was concerned enough about venturing out to re-schedule my mandolin lesson. Living in hill country as we do, one never knows how the local plowmen--the one from the town and the one who cleans up our private road--will keep up with conditions. I suspect I could've got out without much difficulty...it's getting back home on a snow-intense day that's usually the problem.

The Chap emailed to say his office is letting out at 1:30, well in advance of what is likely to be a challenging rush hour.

I'm returning to the tidying and organising project I started yesterday. My first phase involved research materials. A few months ago I acquired some useful organisers for files and for books. I've been making good use of the book one.

Yes, it's already overflowing but even so this system is preferable to the previous one. Because I'd run out of bookshelves as the research library for this novel expanded, I'd created unsteady stacks of volumes which I or the dogs were constantly knocking over. I could never find anything. And when I did, it was always the bottom-most book in the stack.

As for the other organiser, I hadn't done more than dump the files into it. I sort of knew how to find stuff. I resolved to remedy the situation when I returned from London, and now I have done. My research folders are organised by subject and type of information.

The next phase will be a legislative file purge for my Honorable File Cabinet. Now that our next session is about to start, there's no longer any reason to keep materials relating to bills and budgets already passed. Every day my official mailbox is stuffed with communications related to upcoming new bills. I should've finished my clean-out over the summer or autumn, but better late than never. I only intend to save stuff related to bills I co-sponsored, consituent letters, and my press cuttings. My motto is "Be Ruthless". My paper recycling box is going to be very, very full!

My entertainment while performing the task will be the radio show by my friend in Dublin (well, Glenageary).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Yesterday I attended holiday parties #7 and #8, back-to-back events.

Party the Seventh took place at what I refer to as the Legislative Party House, because it's so often a site for festive functions. And meetings.

The Majority Party sponsored the event, so the Speaker of the House was present, the Majority Leader, the Assistant M.L.'s, other members of leadership and staff, out-of-town representatives who'd had business at the Capitol that day, and those of us who live an easy driving distance from the city. There was a good crowd and lots of chatter. I drank cider and eggnogg and managed to nibble a brownie-type thing and piece of cheese on a cracker.

Oh, and the Governor stopped in. He approached me in his friendly way at the very moment my committee chairman was desperately trying to convince me to accept an appointment he has in mind for me. He actually enlisted the Governor's support--an unfair tactic? I think so.

Party the Eighth was also political but because it was a potluck there was more sustaining food. The Governor wasn't able to attend, so our "political celebrity guest" was the State Party Chairman, with whom I had a somewhat lengthy chin-wag before he departed into that chilly night.

Everybody is obsessed with our looming Primary. We eat, sleep, and breathe polls, pundits, and politicos.

I personally was polled three times in a 12-hour period. Two of them were automated push-polls. The other included an invitation to chat on Fox News with Hannity and Colmes on the eve of our NH Primary.

One of the screening questions: Am I "Extremely Talkative" or "Very Talkative" or "Somewhat" or "Not at All"? I was tempted to say my answer depended on whether I was first given a glass of wine.

Back to last night...I beat the Chap back to the Lodge--he'd had a nonprofit Board meeting. After watching the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol,, we caught an episode of Twister Sisters. Watching people chase twisters was a bit too repetitive for me, so I messed about on my laptop and read newspapers. Having spent some of my formative years not very far from a Tornado Alley, I was experienced that familiar queasy feeling at the sight of those tumultuous skies and dangling funnels.

Until yesterday afternoon I hadn't left the Lodge since Saturday, and I was amazed by the size and height of the plowed snow mounds along the roadsides--at the roundabout in my town--at city intersections. I don't understand why they haven't been sliced down during the two days of bright dry weather, in preparation for the inevitable next round.

Yes, there's more snow in our future: another blast is headed our way this evening. We're in the "4 to 8 inches" band. And it's supposed to snow tomorrow, too.

No more parties on the horizon. I tried to work out whether I/we had more invitations this year as a result of my "official" status, and reckon that only yesterday's two were additions. All the others were ones we've always attended.

It's my assumption that for everyone else I know, in my real life and my cyber life, the seasonal intensity is increasing, while we've wound down towards a very quiet and peaceful (and white!) Christmas holiday. Our social calendar appears to be closed for 2007. It's possible that we might get together quietly and peacefully (and whitely) with friends this weekend. And I hope to see the new Sweeney Todd film with a pal. But no partying will occur.

Tonight for supper, we return to healthful, substantial fare. Green chile chicken burritos. With side salad.

But because someone has given me the recipe for these, my new favourite treats...

...and the Chap promised to pick up necessary ingredients (rice chex, chocolate chips, peanut butter) tonight when he stops at the market to do our big Holiday Shop...

...I am swirling around in a twister of foreboding. I've got no willpower when it comes to sweet stuff. We hardly ever have any in the house, except at this time of year.

That reminds me. I left a box of sugar cookies with Christmas-y white and green icing on our kitchen counter.

Isn't it about lunchtime?

And don't Christmas cookies = lunch?

Today, I think, they definitely do.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday Snow & Tree Triumph

Knowing a Nor'easter was headed our way, the Chap and I dined at our fave Mexican place on Saturday and braved the Manchester traffic to visit a store where we didn't actually purchase much but had fun looking.

The harsh weather on Sunday morning resulted in cancellation of our church service. By mid-morning we had 5 inches or so on top of the however many I said we got on Thursday.

The Chap shovelled in the morning...

...and in the afternoon...and late at night he went outside again to tidy up around the garage doors after the snowplow made its second visit. Altogether we got 8 to 10 inches. It's difficult to be sure because the wind was so fierce all day, causing white-outs and blowing snow everywhere.

I spent my morning and early afternoon completing the most protracted tree-trimming effort ever known. Seven days from start to finish.

The dogs had an interesting day.

Lola: "Wolf Mountain has got so big now that I can't jump over it!"

Ruth: "I'm the littlest dog, and this huge tree makes me feel even smaller!"

Jewel: "What if I don't want to be a reindeer?"

This Monday is gloriously sunny, the fresh snow is deep and glistening. The temperature is only 17 degrees!

Friday Party

On Friday evening, we attended a party at a friend's farmhouse. It was a lovely drive through the dark and the snow, along winding roads. On arrival, we found our festive host, lovely decorations, delicious food and drink, and a roaring fire. More friends arrived. We were 19 persons in all.

Including Rudolph!

After we'd eaten and chatted for a nice long while, we started the "Yankee Swop". I'm not altogether sure we were following the proper rules--they changed a bit in progress--but it was great fun.

I didn't open a present myself, I took one somebody else had opened. She didn't want it. I thought it was hilarious.

It's a photograph of a not-terribly-famous and mostly unknown religious personage. I won't attempt to explain the significance.

As the evening wore on an angelic infant was decorated with devil horns. But we were surrounded by priests--6 or 7--therefore felt we were in no danger.

With so many ordained persons about, most of the gift items had a religious flavour. The Chap ended up with this one:

We can make toast imprinted with the Virgin Mary's image, and auction it on Ebay!

I thoroughly enjoyed Holiday Party #6. This week I've got #7 and #8, after which I shall close my social calendar!

Friday, December 14, 2007

White and Bright

My meeting was cancelled--because I cancelled it, in consultation with a diocesan staffer. So after returning home from my mandolin lesson I spent the snowy afternoon and evening with my Christmas three and my cd of Handel's Messiah. The Chap was let out of work early because of the weather.

We received maybe half-a-foot in accumulation, to top up the several inches remaning from the previous blast.

Now we await whatever Sunday has in store. It's supposed to be a significant snow event, so my festive lunch with girlfriends is postponed.

One of our drives as it appeared this morning when I went out to feed the birds.

Lola and Jewel check the front garden for critters.

Ruth imitates a snowplow.

The tree is only 50% decorated. I seem to have other stuff on my plate this Friday, so I probably won't finish till tomorrow.

Yesterday morning the Chap spirited away the Christmas parcels and took them to the Post Office himself. What a hero!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Making laws is only one part of my work in the Legislature. Another part is constituent service. People contact me about issues of concern, tell me their opinions of pending legislation or government policy. And they ask me for help resolving problems--local troubles, dealing with agencies, you name it.

Lately, in dealing with one particular situtation, I've learned a lot about access, and the power of a title. I don't know whether I've been helpful--yet--but I'm making every effort. Directors of agencies return my calls. They put me in touch with the person in charge.

I wish the people I'm trying to help enjoyed the same degree of access and immediacy of response. With complex issues, I have a lot of learning and info-gathering to do, I ask questions, make records of conversations, try to keep the facts straight. I'm so afraid of overlooking some crucial little detail.

And sometimes, like this week, there is an emotional toll. I regard myself as an optimistic person, but getting tangled in enough red tape and interacting with by-the-book people can dampen my spirits if not my hopes.

In the midst of these investigations, I've wrapped all the gifts--often re-tracing my London steps in my mind as I did so. And I imagine the reaction when the paper is pulled away. And I wish I could be there in person to see.

All the while I was listening to a Dublin friend hosting his radio show . . . all the way from Glenageary, thanks to the miracle of streaming audio.

Here's another of the Chap's photos: what I refer to as the "Smoochie Statue" at the newly renovated St Pancras station.

It's officially called, The Meeting Place. For an entirely different view (!) go here. When in London, one evening we watched a very interesting television programme about its creation and placement.

I'm waiting for things to calm down a bit, but the calendar keeps expanding. I've got back-to-back events this evening, an appearance at the State Employees Association holiday party (lots of SEA folks in my district) followed by an Environmental Services forum on the Rivers Study, related to flooding around the state. Because my district suffered greatly from the floods, I show up for any and all such gatherings.

We're expecting Strike Two in a one-two-three punch of winter weather. I drove through Strike One (sleet) last night after a diocesan meeting. Strike Two will be a snow event later tomorrow--I'll be battling it on my way home from another diocesan meeting. Strike Three is expected Saturday into Sunday, they say it could be big...I hope it won't hamper my planned festive lunch in the Capital City with friends.

I'm embarrassed to report that my beauteous tree--acquired on Saturday--is still devoid of any decoration but lights and an angel. Due to the crammed calendar and the wrapping/packing/posting extravaganza, the parties, the meetings and forums. Soon!

Monday, December 10, 2007

More photos from Over There

I had custody of the Chap's camera during this weekend of partying, and when downloading some shots of mine I finally had the chance to see London and environs through his camera lens.

I don't recall what I was doing the day he headed for Greenwich...there was a reason I couldn't tag along. Anyway, here are his feet, straddling the Prime Meridian:

I do know that I was wandering the Victoria and Albert Museum during his trip down Memory Lane in Lexham Gardens (he's taken me there in the past.) Here's the house in which he lived:

It's the one with the potted trees flanking the doorway. Nowadays, I believe, it's a home for Decayed Gentlewomen or Delicate Elderly Ladies or Aged Frail Females or something like.

We survived the four parties in 48 hours. Next round starts Friday.

My ginormous tree is lighted--lit--strung with lights--and I placed the angel on her perch. The rest of the ornaments will follow at my convenince.

Snow is drifting down from a cloudy grey sky this morning, but I don't expect much accumulation to add to the vast amount still on the ground. It would be a perfect writing day, if not for some "official duties" and a Post Office run.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

It's Tree Time!

Over this weekend, within a 48-hour span, we will have attended four Christmas parties.

This morning I went from this...

...to a very busy and crowded shopping mall. (Not as bad as I expected, though.) There, I'm thrilled to say, I completed my Christmas shopping. All done! Wrapping ensues Monday morning, Christmas cards go into the post that afternoon. With luck parcels will begin their journey to family and friends by Tuesday afternoon. Thursday at the latest.

Then what? Um...writing a novel. More holiday parties. Imbibing eggnog.

Late yesterday after a panicked glance at our calendar, it suddenly occurred to me that we had a very small window of time--a couple of hours this afternoon--to acquire a tree.

The tree farm where we usually cut our tree isn't open for business this year, so we went to the other one, atop the mountain. Where it was oh, so windy.

Look! The Claus family was also tree-shopping this afternoon!

Oh, holy tree...

The Chosen One.

I step aside and let my woodsman do his thing.

I believe the tree grew several feet on its journey from the mountaintop to the Lodge. It is now installed in our upstairs sitting room, practically brushing the ceiling, and sending out a wonderful scent of fresh green needles. I can't predict when the ornaments and lights will be put in place. For now, I'm content with its lovely greenness.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Light on White, White on Red


After three days of grey skies and intermittent snowfall, the sun has broken through the clouds. My world is glistening this morning.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How I Ensured a Patriots' Win

I watch professional football practically never. If the New England Patriots are in the Super Bowl (which they usually are), I might tune in for the incredibly costly and occasionally interesting advertisements. I prefer the ones featuring animals.

We've not watched the Patriots games at all this season, unless tuning in to a post-game show for the final score counts as "watching".

With a dearth of entertainment, or even info-tainment on telly last night, we were desperate. After the Chap gave up on Top Gear (Clarkson being an acquired taste), he suggested we "check in" on the Pats' game.

We hadn't been watching five minutes when the Ravens scored a touchdown.

Not being one to mess about with an unbroken string of victories, I got nervous.

"We'd better bail," I said. "Right now. All season long, we haven't watched the Patriots, and they keep winning. We watched only a few minutes, and we jinx them."

So we tuned out.

I sneaked a check at the score before going to bed, and it looked like the Ravens were going to break that streak without our help.

But apparently the Pats won it.

I'm fed up to here (imagine my hand indicating a position somewhat north of my head) with political candidates. Yes, I worship the NH Primary. I'm thrilled about having heard and/or met personally all the candidates of one party--some more than once--and often breathing the same hallowed NH air of all candidates of the another party when they're within our state's borders.

But I'm not inclined to join 11,000 people--and Oprah, and Barack (whom I've met personally) in a sports arena for a rally. I've got two, count 'em, two Christmas parties on the same day as the Oprah-Obama fest, for which I've got a standing invitation.

I'll direct you towards an acquaintance who composed something very amusing about politics. It's Part I. Part II should appear at the start of next week.

Overnight a fresh couple of inches covered the 8 or whatever that we got yesterday. It has snowed off and on today. So lovely! The dogs appear to be jaded...or else they're worn out from yesterday's romping.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Snow Day

Our forest, early this morning.

Ruth jumps for joy when she sees how much snow has piled up.

Tracking the red squirrel who raids the bird feeders.

Ruth and Jewel chased each other around their fence yard in the snow, a blur of black and white. Now they're napping soundly.

The snow keeps falling--sometimes heavily, sometimes lightly. We probably have 6 inches on the ground, I expect at least an inch or two more by the end of the day.