The past two days were ones of commuting, listening, learning, celebrating, laughing, crying, eating, drinking, hugging, puddle-jumping...and more. My birthday was busy beyond belief, as was what my husband, who formerly lived in the Virgin Islands, refers to as "Birthday, Second Day". In the V.I., Boxing Day was called "Christmas, Second Day".
I'm grateful for the many kind birthday wishes left in my comments section.
I received several surprising and some quite useful presents, along with precious gifts of a bontanical nature.
The Chap gave me a shamrock plant.
My mother sent cuttings from her boxwood. The parent plants grow around my parents' home and reportedly were planted about the time I was born. The grandparent plants grew beside the country home of the family friend who was my "third grandmother".
I love "passalong plants," especially with so much history and close connections to people I love.
I intend to root them, using the same method I do for the many yew cuttings I take when in England. Most likely I'll pot up the successes as houseplants. I have got a large boxwood shrub growing here at the Lodge, planted the year we moved in. But it was purchased here in the North, and I worry that my mother's might be a variety too tender for our harsh winters.
Another gift is this slowly opening bud on the smallest of my three tree roses.
So here's what I've been up to.
On a very rainy birthday, I had a morning subcommittee meeting followed by an Executive Session on my committe's remaining House bill. I was the designated Clerk for that session, in the absence of the actual one. I was responsible for recording who made motions and who seconded them and I called the roll and recorded the vote and filled out the necessary paperwork. Not too taxing.
Next was an informational luncheon and film viewing about Darfur genocide, in advance of a vote (yesterday) on a bill that would require our NH retirement system to divest itself of assets based in Sudan. The Devil Came on Horseback was compelling and persuasive.
A gap in my schedule allowed me to run a couple of errands in town and transfer my car from the legislative parking garage to the car park at the diocesan offices, where I had an afternoon diocesan committee meeting. However, when I went inside to check on the status of that meeting I learned it was cancelled due to incoming bad weather, out of concern for folks travelling from Lancaster, Littleton, New London, Tamworth, and elsewhere.
Before I could return to the Legislative Office Building, I was fêted by two of the Bishop's canons--they had secretly organised a surprise birthday party. They presented an amazing triple-chocolate cake and a devilishly hilarious card. My party expanded to include the staff, and a couple of clergy popped in from the conference room, and there was much merriment. I was quite overwhelmed!
Back I went to the LOB to attend a lengthy but important caucus forum on educational adequacy costing and the current version of a constitutional amendment to enable targeting of funds. It lasted till about 5:30.
I arrived home for the birthday celebration here at the Lodge, just me and The Chap and the dogs. As you might imagine, I was rather weary, and happy to be cooked for and have endless glasses of bubbly poured for me. My parents rang me up with birthday wishes.
We also celebrate Ruth's birthday on March 4. I'd considered March 17, St. Patrick's Day, as Jewel's birthday because that's the day she came to live with us, but decided it was easier to remember if we all three had the same day. (It's my father-in-law's birthday as well.) The girls had their cake and whipped cream, too, but we didn't share the raspberries with them.
Yesterday the House was in session, and we seemed to be cursed with our typical Session Day weather disaster. Luckily the conditions were not nearly as dire as predicted, although the drive into town was pretty dicey and extremely slow with so much rain and the roads slushy from heavy sleet.
My party's Caucus met at 9 a.m. The Speaker gavelled the House to order a little bit after 10:00. We began with memorial resolutions for our two departed members, moments of silence and remembrance. Very emotional, and I was thankful I was not within the range of the television cameras.
When we gathered again after our midday break, a colleague gave me a birthday card plus a fortune cookie (I suspect he'd received with his lunch.)
In an amazing coincidence, the Chinese word printed on the slip inside the fortune cookie was "sheng" meaning BIRTHDAY! And the fortune was equally serendipitious:
Is that cool, or what?
The same colleague, as is his habit, also gave me a bunch of dog biscuits for my girls--he knows their names. So I had to tell him about losing Lola over the Winter Break.
In the afternoon we carried on with our calendar of bills--the Sudan divestment bill passed on a voice vote. We got snared in a parliamentary web but got ourselves out of it, voted more bills and special-ordered the remainder to next week. At the close of session there were additional speakers who recognized the contributions and gifts of our departed colleagues (more tears) and we adjourned sometime after 6 p.m.
Calling hours for the family of the Minority Leader took place in the evening at a location across the street from the Capitol. As we emerged, we saw that the line to get inside went all the way down the block. The flags on the State House were flying at half-staff, as they are at all state buildings through today.
Technically I shouldn't refer to my late neighbour as Minority Leader, it's against House protocol to say "minority" in that context (although we do say Majority Leader). His title was party Leader, but I tend not to use any partisan labels on this blog if I can avoid it.
Pausing on Main Street last night to watch all those lowered flags waving in the wind, and seeing the gold dome all lit up, I was very tearful--such a well-deserved tribute to his dedicated service to the House and this state. All day I felt as though I'd been at a funeral.
I'm so gutted that I didn't attend the actual funeral, which is taking place at this very hour. I did think of going, the church is only a few miles from the cottage on the Big Lake.
I think often of our conversations. Never did we chat about matters political. We talked about lake living. Old cars and classic boats, his great passions. Family. People who knew him better than I did characterised him as determinedly unsmiling, and mentioned their efforts to get a grin or a laugh out of him and his efforts to resist. I can remember smiles, and I wasn't even trying!
And of course now I keep remembering things I wanted to tell him, but didn't.
I never got round to experssing my great my admiration (well, to be perfectly frank, my envy) of the wildflower garden in front of his house on the Point. When I walked the girls past it in spring, summer, and autumn, I saw the change of seasons in the succession of native flowers. It was so natural, yet so perfect. Unlike my wildflower "meadow" at the Lodge, all scraggly and ill-defined. The girls and I would stop there, and I would gaze and gaze, and tug on the leashes to keep them away from the flowers. Though I desperately wanted to, I never took photographs. I couldn't bring myself to take pictures of somebody's house and garden, like a stalker--even though we were acquainted, and even though there was usually nobody home in the daytime to see me.
I'm relishing this calm, quiet day after two straight of emotional ups and downs and a lot of exhausting legislative activity. I need this time for reflection. And to take advantage of my "great imagination" by writing a lot.