"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, March 30, 2009

A. C. U.

All Caught Up!

There were any number of tasks that probably should've been performed last week which got dropped. Yesterday and today I've been playing catch-up.

I didn't even make a checklist because I thought it would be too scary. But now that I'm finished, I can list everything I've done. Adding new recipe submissions to the cookbook and editing them before sending them on to the graphic designer. Updates to 4 websites. Completing an on-line evaluation for friend/colleague. Memorising a mandolin piece.

I also tidied the kitchen. There are plenty of other household chores yet to be done, but I've had to focus on responsibilities that involve or affect other people.

Everything's done now...and it's not even 3 p.m. I'm giving myself a day or two off from writing. I need to do some evaluation, some adjusting of my writing schedule and perhaps my daily quota for the next 6 to 8 weeks. Also, I want to delve into this cool book I picked up on Saturday:

It's psychoanalytic approach to character and it'll be both interesting and helpful. So long as I can avoid self-diagnosis, which might be cause for alarm! I tend to build my characters' personality traits and cause-effect and motivations organically, so I'm mostly seeking confirmation that I'm on the right track--but probably the book will provide food for thought.

I forgot to note that on Saturday we spotted the first purple finch--a male--at the feeder. It's our state bird. I'm not sure why we have a migratory species for a state bird rather than a year-round one...but I'm certainly not planning any legislation to alter the status quo. (There's a state dog bill headed our way, I'm so happy!)

As part of my warming-up efforts yesterday, I whipped up Rogan Josh for our supper.

Hadn't made this recipe for a very long while. For one thing, it's time-consuming. Usually when we're in the mood for Indian I cook chicken curry, and when in the mood for lamb I make a Middle Eastern shawarma. I'm wondering if the Rogan Josh is rather too exotic and foreign and highly-spiced to include in our historical association cookbook...here's the cover proof.

I'll spend the rest of the afternoon reading, not writing, a historical novel. I've got an advance copy, for the purpose of providing a pre-publication blurb.

I forgot to mention in my Musical Monday posting that the inclusion of Warren Zevon falls under the category of "artists I've seen in concert."

Musical Monday

Best laid plans...I chose a video (weeks ago) and it was next up in the queue. The quintessential, hiliariously and obviously 80's vintage video of a bitchin' song which I shall not now mention. Because somebody else got there before I did.

So, in order to avoid the appearance of copycat-ism (when in fact it's a case of Great Minds Thinking Alike), I've moved along the queue and made a different selection.

The late, great Warren Zevon performing Splendid Isolation live, with David Sanborn and more. After last week, I'm having a day of splendid isolation and enjoying it immensely.

I'm not as jaded and cynical and selfish as this song's narrator, however. Not yet, that is!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Stroll: The Wetness

Remember this, one of the snow mountains on our big deck?

First thing this morning, it looked like this:

And now it's completely gone!

There's still a bit of snow/slush on the octagon deck, but not for long.

Yesterday we had a Concord outing, enjoying the 55 to 60 degree temperatures. The Chap went shopping for a suit at Jos. A Bank. While he was there, I was in Target, buying a funky new mobile phone, a Ruth-sized dog bed (probably for the cottage), and lots of socks. Everything on sale, big time. Then to Borders to use a 40% off coupon. Then to Margarita's for to use up another free birthday meal coupon. (I usually get 3 coupons and they're good throughout my birthday month.) Considering our many purchases, thrifty me can boast we did not pay full price for anything...so many great bargains to be had!

The rest of the day was occupied with indoor gardening...re-potting some new acquisitions and other plants.

Because it was pouring rain this morning, the first part of my Sunday Stroll took place indoors.

I re-potted this camellia cutting which lives on the kitchen windowsill. And appears to have a bud.

My new Petite Negra fig has a new container.

Several years ago at a garden centre inventory reduction sale, I picked up half a dozen or more wire trellises and topiary frames for 25 cents a piece. I used 2 yesterday.

A ring for my stephanotis.

A tree shape for ivy from Nell Gwyn's forest.

Before heading to church, I checked out my new official licence plate. I picked it up at DMV on Friday, the Chap installed it yesterday.

Crocus buds in the church garden.

Despite the weather, our eucharist was well-attended and we had a nice gathering after the service. It was wetter and colder when we left the church than when we entered!

Driving back to the Lodge, we had to stop for turkeys crossing the road. I wasn't very swift in picking up the camera, they were almost out of sight by the time I shot these turkey tails.

When we got home, we backed my Honorable Vehicle out of the garage for a car wash courtesy of Mother Nature. It's raining heavily enough to remove some of the mud season mud.

The Chap is busy with stuff round the house. He said if I wanted a fire, I'd have to build and tend it myself.

All right, then!

One of those days for sitting in front of the fireplace with laptop warming my lap and napping dogs spread across the cushions. I've got tons of catching up to do on tasks that could not be performed during the past week of madness.

Thanks for stopping by. To continue strolling, head in this direction.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Question of the Day

"Where, oh where have you been? he asks.

"I'm hungry!

Well, little friend, I haven't been eating regularly myself.

If this was Hell Week in the State House, then yesterday was Hell Day at the end of Hell Week.

My morning started with my testimony before the Senate Finance Committee in favor of an appropriation that would enable a FEMA buyout of some constituents' repeatedly river-flooded homes...and found out late last night that the bill was unanimously approved and moves on to the full Senate for consideration.

And when I returned to Reps Hall, I listened to nearly 3 hours of debate on a significant change in social policy.

I listened to people say things I firmly believe, and things I found utterly appalling. For instance, it was implied--more than implied--that my childless marriage is not a true marriage simply because I could not procreate. (In my exhausted state, I was in the grip of my emotions--the honorable gentleman's assertion sent me fleeing from the Hall, teary-eyed. I didn't stay to hear any other words of wisdom from him.)

On the first vote taken, the marriage bill lost by a single vote. We then had a vote to lay the bill on the table--that failed big time. Next we voted on a motion to kill the bill outright. That failed. So a motion was made to reconsider the bill--i.e. to do a re-vote, which passed by 15 votes. This permitted us to vote on the bill again. It passed by just 7 votes, 186 to 179. Now it moves on to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain...and possibly to the Governor's desk.

During lunch break, the House Majority Office fed us pizza. I ate 2 slices and a lot of cookies!

We returned to the chamber having spent half a day on exactly one bill. There was other controversial stuff on the calendar and much debate. Another afternoon of marathon legislating, but we finished by the deadline to report second committee bills. Darkness was falling by the time I left the State House...got home a few minutes past 8.

Oh, here's what else I did this week:

That's a big chunk of the chapter-in-progress. Now I've got to type it into readable form.

I'm having a quiet morning before a trip to the DMV and a cookbook meeting this afternoon. On a quick stroll through my garden, I found these:

My chipmunk's bowl is now well-filled.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Endurance Test

So far, I've survived this insane week.

Yesterday's House session was full and busy. I kipped out long enough to attend a diocesan deputation meeting (where the photo was taken), including two bishops and 5 clerical and 5 lay deputies. And from there I went straight to the County Delegation public hearing and vote on the next year's county budget. An item related to 2 of my district towns was on the agenda, and I ended up doing spur-of-the moment testimony. The vote was favorable, but it helped that the County Sheriff and Commissioner were on our side!

Very late in the afternoon I very nearly was in 3 places at once...and all within a block or so of one another. I kept thinking of those tigers in the Sambo tale who raced round and round in circles and ended up as a melted pool of butter. I kept imagining a melted pool of red and black (the colours I was wearing) being discovered somewhere between No. State and Centre and Court Streets....

Arrived home at the Lodge after 8, so long past suppertime I was beyond normal hunger(fortunately I had a light restaurant lunch during midday break). So I heated a leftover slice of pizza.

Today's session started at 9:30, with a break to hear the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court give his bi-annual State of the Judiciary address. Then it was back to nonstop legislating. We finished up at 7:30.

During our many hours in Reps Hall we voted to abolish the death penalty, retain our civil unions law, approve medicinal use of marijuana, which will make the headlines tomorrow. We made other decisions that probably will not make news but will affect people's lives--and serve them well, I sincerely hope.

For lunch I ate light--yogurt and a clementine. I walked around a lot, did a staircase workout (4 flights in the LOB twice, 3 flights in the State House twice). At mid-afternoon I slipped upstairs (1 flight, with return) to the Majority Office for celery stick (virtuous), a handful of animal crackers (comfort food), a couple of mini Kit Kats and a few peanut butter cups (medicinal--necessary to maintaining my blood sugar levels!)

Energy was seriously fading as the afternoon wore on. I was fairly perky after my long yesterday/last night. But today I lacked stamina. Home at 8, threw together a spinach-mushroom-feta omelet, ate it. At least I think I did. It disappeared, that much I know.

Magazines are stacking up, unread. Newspapers, too. Not a priority just now.

My dogs still recognise me, so that's good. The Chap is having a busy week, too, but makes it home in time to feed the beasts. I never know when I'm getting home....

I'm getting emails by the hundreds from people all around the State pleading with me to vote a particular way on a specific bill.

The final leg of this legislative marathon comes tomorrow. The morning promises to be very highly charged due to the big, big bill at the top of our docket. Simultaneously I'm supposed to be testifying on the Senate bill I'm co-sponsoring. I've prepared written testimony, which I'll present in person only if it doesn't prevent my being present for the Big Vote everyone's emailing me about. Luckily the Senate hearing room is in the State House and not over at the LOB, which makes things logistically easier--though still challenging in terms of the clock.

Am I getting any writing done this week? you might wonder. Yes. Yes, I am. In longhand. During some of the, shall we say, less thrilling debates.

When I fall into bed at night I shut off the brain and sleep like a rock...a very comatose rock. For two nights in a row I've slept so deeply that I woke in exactly the same position in which I dropped off to sleep! None of the typical tossing and turning.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More from Roy

The header quote I recently added atop my blog came out of the latest Authors Guild Bulletin. I've been a card-carrying (really, it's tucked in my wallet!) member of that organisation for exactly 22 years, dating from the moment I signed my first book contract as a shockingly young and ecstatic and optimistic dewy-eyed newbie.

Roy Blount, Jr. is our current President. (I'd gladly elect him President for Life, but I think there are term limits.)

I've been his fan and admirer for so many years, love every book of his I've read, spent a fair few years in his hometown of Decatur, GA, and am over the moon whenever he turns up as panelist on my fave radio show, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on PBS. (Check your local listings!)

Roy provided additional gems in his "From the President" letter. His essay's overarching theme was author cussedness and the randomness of our income stream and the challenges of this economic era.

Selected quotes:

"Every day, whatever the state of the nation's economy, we are reminded how imprudent we authors are. But rather than compound that imprudence by putting our unlikely earnings at risk, we must resolve to protect those earnings, as a dog growls over the odorous bone independently dug up in the woods."

"For 33 years I have been a freelance writer, literally never knowing where my next dollar is coming from, even when I knew from whence it was supposed to have come three or four months ago."

"I want money to support me, my family, and my habit. For me empowerment, by which I mean relative freedom, resides in real estate, that I live in, and liquidity."

Amen to that, Brother Roy.

In a week in which I won't have much--if any--time to do stuff other than legislate, I'm glad to mull over any aspects of being an author--even the boring but meaningful financial one.

The House is in session 3 days straight. Our weekly calendar contains the most controversial and contentious bills of the year. We're staring down a merciless deadline, and it's not blinking.

Some of these days will most likely stretch into the night. There are even times, like tomorrow at 5:30, when I'm somehow supposed to be in 2 places at once--down from 3. And again on Thursday morning when duty requires that I be in Representatives Hall voting on bills, and also testifying on a Senate bill for which I'm a co-sponsor, on behalf of a specific group of constitutents.

Added to that pungent mix, it's unseasonably cold, it's windy, it's mud season. A lot of people are already cranky and impatient. Shut 400 or so into one big room together...well, you get the idea.

I'm surprisingly unanxious about it all. Fretting isn't going to me any good. I'll get through these brambles...I always do.

And yet...in the long hours ahead the stresses and frustrations and uncertainties of being an author will seem preferable to the hard tasks and edgy voices and difficult decisions at hand. I will miss my imagination-feeding solitude amidst dogs and birds and chipmunks and endless cups of tea. And, um, occasional forays into Facebook.

Roy's reminder about the contradictory pragmatism and imprudence of authors seems so timely. Because the same is true of this particular state legislator!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Musical Monday: Double Dose of Poe

A trip to the dark side, courtesy of Poe. Driving about the Granite State of late, I've been listening to her cd Hello, a longtime favourite. I love her voice, her eerie and fully textured melodies. And the the way she sometimes sings with an angel's sweetness about evil events and evil intents.

Here's a film video of Angry Johnny. I prefer listening to the album without the distraction of the images. By the end of this hypnotic little ditty, I'm always ready to help her kill him.

And Trigger Happy Jack, without full-motion video.

She's absolutely right. You can't talked to a psycho like a normal human being. I've tried it. Doesn't work.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Stroll: Lake Fever

As signs of spring increase, my case of lake fever grows more intense. The best remedy is actually seeing the lake--the Big Lake, I mean. Fortunately, I had an all-day training on Saturday in the Lakes Region. Our dioscean Stewardship Institute took place at the Opechee Lodge and Spa...in the conference centre, I hasten to add, not actually at the spa!

Lake Opechee.

We finished up on time, around 3:30, and the organiser and some presenters and I headed to a local watering hole for a de-briefing. All along I'd intended to drive over to the lake cottage, and even though I finished up later than I expected, due to my own desire for fellowship, I had plenty of light left in the day. And it was sort of on the way home.

So I left Lakeport, driving south on Route 11 with the lake--and eventually our Bay, to the left of me. The lake was one sheet of white...no sign of a snowmobile or bob house...until I reached the other side--our side--of the Bay.

A cluster of bob houses just south of the Point, surrounded by snowmobiles.

There was more snow than at the Lodge but also plenty of melting, especially on our hillside of blueberry and huckleberry bushes. The sun was lighting the cottage on its perch atop the ridge.

The dock--open water all around and thin, almost translucent springtime ice cover.

Our front yard.

This little trip made me very eager to open up, but that's not happening until ice is out and the nights grow warmer. (We're having a very cold spell this week.) I'm hoping to be somewhat moved in by mid-May, give or take.

Returned to the Lodge to customise a fresh pizza. We finished watching the first season of Ricky Gervais's Extras. The DVD extras on Extras made me laugh till I cried. Or perhaps it was the effects of 2 bottles of cider after a long day, combined with the residual giddiness from actually hanging out beside the Big Lake. Even if only for a little while!

It seems my my time there might have increased rather than cured my lake fever...but to everything there is a season, and the season of lake living isn't quite here.

To continue strolling, hop over here! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Beauty Counter Breakdown

While the Chap's been away all week hobnobbing with the important, I've been mostly housebound and happy to be so. I expected to regret not accompanying him to Washington, but I've used this time too well for that. Even though he's staying in our favorite house without me. Even though he dined once at this favourite restaurant and twice at this one.

I've been eating well myself. Here's a spinach-feta-anchovy pizza, a thing of beauty I concocted the other night. It was delish, and the girls polished off the leftover crusts.

I've been writing like a demon, much of the day and well into the night, and sleeping late to make up for it and dining at odd hours. My biorythms are totally out of whack. I suspect by now my body is actually living on London time.

I made a tiny effort at spring cleaning this morning. Cleared some surfaces, laundered sofa covers, blasted through a good week's worth of USAToday and added them to the recycling stack. Nothing too strenuous, or too distracting from the manuscript.

Tuesday was my day out. Chairs and Vice Chairs meeting in the morning--even though we had no House Session this week. Came home for a few hours, then back to town for my mandolin lesson. On the second trip home, I stopped at the shopping mall, fully prepared to open my checkbook and stimulate the local economy at the cosmetics counter.

Lancome is running a gift-with-purchase promotion, which sometimes tempts me to stock up on necessities. Especially this time, because I had a 20% off coupon for donating clothing to Goodwill, and the coupon could be used for a discount in the Cosmetics Department. (Unprecedented!)

So I decided to pick up a bottle of foundation, the same one I've been wearing for years, and switched to when they discontinued my former favourite. The Chap's name for it, by the way, is Geisha #1. Because I'm such a pale face.

I scanned the shelves looking for the familiar package. It wasn't there. I went to the tester display and hunted for my formulation. I found a similar name, in similar shades--that's when I realised my old reliable had been (gasp!) discontinued.

I skulked about, passing through denial, anger, frustration, resignation--impatience, because the Lancome lady had gone missing. Eventually a non-Lancome saleslady wandered over to help me. She recommended a shade...I wasn't sure it was the right one, but my dejection was such that I didn't protest. I hated the new pump-top dispenser. The consistency didn't feel quite the same.

I tried to cheer myself up by purchasing a severely over-priced lipstick (I had another 20% coupon) from the new colour range. It was out of stock.

So I wrote my check and took my gift and thanked the woman for coming over to assist me.

I have a lifelong love-hate relationship with cosmetics. From the age of 10 I've been plastering pancake on my face--theatrical make-up--and all the rest of it. So by the time I was in my teens it was fairly unexciting and I wasn't that interested in wearing it in my offstage life. Until peer pressure intervened.

The first time I wore mascara to school a teacher stopped me in the hallway and asked if I was wearing false eyelashes. (My lashes happen to be fairly long and naturally black, and mascara turned up the volume to 11.)

But I'll admit the truth (no secret to those who regularly see me) I love, love, love red lipstick.

I've had the same so-called beauty regime for longer than I can remember. It's pretty simple. I'm a creature of habit--same face soap (only available for purchase in London), same daily moisturiser (Neutrogena, high SPF), same night cream (by prescription from demotologist.) I've used the same Lancome foundation (till now, that is), powder, blush, eyeliner, mascara since I don't know when. In summer I use a Lancome tinted moisturiser (high SPF) instead of regular foundation. (Not to self--stock up, in case it's also on the "discontinued" list.)

I regard facial preparation as a public service. The world is better off not viewing me in a completely natural state. I don't think I've ever left the house without some form of cosmetics. But I'm selective, according to circumstances, as seen in these 3 permutations:

1. Quick local errand, informal meeting = dusting of face powder, lip gloss, eyes (mascara and liner). 1 minute.

2. Summer outing, church, meetings = tinted moisturiser, blush, powder, lipstick, eyes. 3 minutes.

3. Everything else = concealer, foundation, blush, powder, lipstick, eyes. 6 minutes.

When working in the garden, or when at the lake cottage, I wear only sunscreen. Not a bit of slap, although if company's coming to the cottage I'll reach for the tinted moisturiser and lipstick.

Speaking of my garden, it becomes more visible by the day. I can't actually reach it, not by climbing over a remaining snow wall, or slogging through ankle-deep mud. I want to make more progress on the book before heading Outdoors...but the day will soon arrive when I get out my wellies and garden jacket and garden fork to pull leaves away from my bulbs. They want attention, as you see in this shot taken from the deck.

Blogging was briefly interrupted when the postman arrived bearing plants! They were ordered way, way back as a reaction to the deepest of deep freezes, probably in January. Shipping had to wait for milder weather.

Here's my new miniature fig tree:

I decided I needed another out of fear that I'd killed my giant one by intensive pruning. In fact, the big big fig is sending out green branch buds at this very moment, so it's perfectly fine.

I also bought this stephanotis. Just Because I Wanted It. (My mother's wedding bouquet was stephanotis and tuberoses.) I love the scent of the flowers.

Jumping to current events...

Major controversial bills coming to the floor of the House next week. My honorable email cache reflects the passion of opponents and supporters. It reflects other things, too, which I will keep to myself.

I can scarcely express my sadness at the sudden loss of that golden girl of stage and screen, Natasha Richardson.

I'm not sure I can muster the emotional energy needed for the proper apprecation of a royal wedding this summer. I'm happy for Wills and Kate if they feel ready, but also pity them in advance of the inevitable furor.

On the other hand, I can't help but approve the continued dilution of the monarchy's Germanic genes. Prince William's granny, his mum, and now his presumptive future bride will all be English/British. Being so steeped in Stuart history at the moment, I'm mindful of the fact that from 1714 until well into the 20th century, the royal family has been almost completely Teutonic. The German Occupation everyone desperately feared during World War II had in fact occurred two-and-a-quarter centuries earlier with the arrival of George I from Hanover.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Dog

Two years ago today I drove to Windham--in the aftermath of an ice storm--to meet the doggie transport from Tennessee that brought Jewel to us. Here she is, headed down the gangplank leading to her new life.

Now, of course, I can't imagine life without her. She and Ruth are amazing, together and individually.

She is a capital-F Fun dog. With a wonderful disposition.

For me, the miracle of Jewel is that she survived at all. Her backstory is pretty grim. WARNING--not for the squeamish!

Jewel's birth mother in Tennessee bore an unwanted litter. Her owner was a horrible person who got drunk one night and decided to eliminate the pups one by one, bashing them on the head with a beer bottle. The neighbours heard the yelps and intervened. Two pups were rescued, only a few weeks old. They were taken in by a woman who fostered dogs. She named one pup Jasmine and the other Jewel. Eventually both were put up for adoption through Petfinder.

As Lola aged, young Ruth needed a playmate. When I spotted Jewel on the website, her resemblance to the late, great Shadow and her profile convinced me that she was our next dream dog.

On this St. Patrick's Day, as well as acknowledging the arrival of our Jewel of a dog, I also honour my many Irish forbears. I admire my birthday shamrocks. I crave of Bewley's tea. I dream of swilling Bulmer's cider in the snug at Dick Mac's or imbibing Manger's in a B&B in Kinsale. I remember crying throughout a London to Shannon flight after learning that dear Shadow had died suddenly, and holding her wake in a pub as soon as we landed. I can't help but consider a return to Eire next time we cross the Pond just so I can offer up special prayer at a favourite Holy Well way out West...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Musical Monday: Many Mandolins

Changed my sidebar photo this weekend. As it now features my mandolin, I thought I'd keep the theme going today with Vivaldi's mandolin concerto. The first movement will be familiar, the other two probably not.

First Movement

Second Movement

Third Movement

No, I've not reach this level of skill yet. Not even close. At some point today I'll be taking a break from writing to practise my current piece, St. Anne's Reel.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Saturday Roll and Sunday Stroll

Early Saturday the Chap and I went Over to Dover, in separate cars. We had to attend a diocesan training for re-certification. He was leaving for the airport afterwards.

It was a gorgeous morning for a drive. On lakes and ponds bob houses are still in evidence...as are ice fishermen and snowmobiles--I saw them all. I also saw a bob house that had been removed, being driven along the highway in the back of a big pickup truck. A very happy sight!

Returning to our own lake, I found open water.

This morning, one of the herd of chipmunks crosses the snow--nervously. He knows how visible he is to predators.

Snow is melting around the mermaid birdbath. She's already working on her tan--it's over 55 degrees today!

The horse head is also enjoying the sunshine. Enough snow melted on the octagon deck for me to shoot it from this side.

Still plenty of snow behind the house.

In the drive, leaves encased in ice. (And the tip of the Chap's gumboot, which I was wearing.)

A snow sculpture in a snowplow hill.

Gazing down the side of the octagon deck. Still a lot of snow...but at least it's pulling away.

Strolling through the Sunday newspaper I encounter an example of "stimulus advertising." Not sure this is what the President had in mind!

My own Mr. NH Stimulus is in Washington now. His stay has abruptly been extended by a day so he can attend an event at a lovely large residence located on Pennsylvania Avenue. It has the initials W.H. and its occupant is someone I enountered in NH a couple of times. Am I wishing now that I'd tagged along? Maybe!

To keep strolling, head over to Aisling's blog.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Return of the Rodents

A quiet morning at the Lodge--rare for me--and a prelude to a very busy afternoon of diocesan business.

Surrounded by snow, a garden statue waits patiently for melting to free her.

A woodpecker breakfasts on suet.

A mourning dove explores recently open ground under the hemlocks.

The male cardinal waits his turn at the seed feeder.

Outside, all is peaceful.

Inside the Lodge--panic!

Says Jewel, "They're back! I saw one. No, two! Three! Maybe four!"

Ruth is worried. "We're outnumbered! What should we do?"

The cause of all this consternation?


They're everywhere. Rising up from the ground in great numbers, scampering all over the property.

I've put out food specially for them. I'm afraid if I don't, they'll storm the Lodge and take it by force! They're awfully hungry.