"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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Stroll: Cottage Walkaround

Early yesterday morning the Chap flew off to a distant state to visit an ailing relative in hospital. Later in the morning the dogs and I came to the cottage.

I had a very productive afternoon and evening of writing. I achieved more than double my daily quota. My reward was a gorgeous sunset--I was making supper during most of it but managed to step outside in time for this peaceful shot.

We haven't got a garden to stroll round here. The ground is rocky, the tree canopy thick. This late-blooming species lilac was planted some years ago. It scarcely ever blooms. Haven't seen flowers for years, but this year we have lots of buds.

This is my pot of oregano, purchased a few weeks ago, used for salads and pizza.

I keep plants in the windowboxes. This year: red impatiens between this really nice white flowering plant, which has a funny but forgettable name.

Down at the waterside, the blueberries are still blooming and forming fruit.

Rocks going down into the water, Ruth's stepping stones.

I checked the water temperature--58 degrees! Swimming season is still a long way off.

Shingles on the boathouse.

Here's a glance down the Bay. The green tree-covered protrusion is the Point we often walk to, or around.

Looking up the Bay. Our next door neighbours have their boat in the water, but no others. Too early in the season.

I was about to come inside when the Big White Boat came steaming down the Bay, right on time.

Nice day for a cruise!

The stroller's companions.

The girls and I had a good walk earlier, and they're down for an afternoon of napping on the sofa. I'm hoping for another extremely productive writing day.

If you care to stroll on, go here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


A week ago today the high was 92 degrees. That's about 20 degrees above normal.

Today the so-called high was 47. That's about 25 degrees below normal.

Keeping the furnace on, sleeping in flannel jammies, and eating steaming bowls of chili for supper are normally winter habits.

Isn't it almost June?

I believe the weather is about to normal-up around here. I certainly hope so! But it must be said that my heavily budded roses are lapping up all the rain.

Spent the morning at the LOB, nursing along my co-sponsored bill. What we expected to happen, happened--the House Finance Committee retained the bill--and it's cool. There was also some intriguing related news on the Senate Budget front, possibly a cause for optimism. Before leaving, I saw the Chap. He was there for an update on ARRA (aka The Stimulus Package.) Our state is using stiumulus money to the max, we're like #10 of all the states in projects and allocations and stuff. Just last week (when it was 92 degrees) I drove over a highway being re-paved with ARRA money, and it saved a boatload of jobs from becoming layoffs at the paving company.

I test drove that BMW AWD today...in a downpour. The Ultimate Driving Machine indeed.

I really wonder if I can make it through the evening without a fire in the fireplace?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Indoor Day

We returned to the Lodge yesterday around midday. In the afternoon I was in Concord for the continuation of the House Finance subcommittee session on the bill I co-sponsored. A decision was made--a reasonable one, in the circumstances--but the impact on one of my constituents (who was present) is devastating.

I can't imagine this happening in any other state: a member of our delegation whipped out his cellphone, rang the Governor's office, spoke briefly with an assistant. And then we all (3 Reps, 1 State Senator, 1 Police Chief, 3 constituents) crossed over from the LOB to the second floor of the State House to the Executive Council chamber. In five minutes the Governor joined us and sat down to listen to my constituent's exceedingly dire problem. By the time the interview was over, he had committed to making personal contact with out-of-state entities who might be able to alleviate her situation.

This legislative session has been trying at times. Tensions have arisen between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch. But yesterday afternoon I could not have been more thankful for our representative, responsive, and very personal form of government.

Heading east along I-393, I always look over at the watery spot formed by the river where I often see a hawk flying overhead, or a blue heron fishing in the shallows. And I did spot blue herons standing there--five! Every one of them statue-still, and all facing the same direction. An amazing sight!

In the meantime, the Chap had arrived at the Boston airport and arrived home in the evening, after suppertime but before Rescue Me. He was quite pleased with his trip to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and can now boast of having visited every single Canadian province. And, later in the summer, he's got a couple of trips to Montreal...I plan to tag along for one of them!

Today is rainy and chilly. Ruth realises it's an indoor day.

The lovely amaryllis given to me by our retired bishop is now blooming.

Jewel sees something!

It's the first lupine to bloom--earlier than usual.

Feels strange not having a House Session today--a good strange! I'm using the day for writing, visiting the hairdresser, doing laundry--and, at long last, having dinner with my husband!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Musical Monday: Ice Cream

Here on the Big Lake there's an ice cream boat. Last night it zipped down the Bay and vanished into the cove on the north side of the Point. I assume someone from a dock had waved it over. When it emerged again, it was hailed by one of the motorboats in the Bay. I photographed the transaction--the ice cream boat has the umbrella.

Last night's supper: Greek-style salad with spinach and feta and sliced grape tomatoes and anchovies, broiled feta-stuffed tomatoes, and pan-fried calamari rings. With hard cider.

My dessert was an ice cream sandwich--not from the ice cream boat, but from my own freezer.

I'm sending out this clip to my beloved globe-trotter, at this moment completing another travel quest north of the Border. Thus, a Canadian songbird referencing his favourite dessert. There's a bit of chat before Sarah gets to the song but it's worth the wait.

If you're in the States enjoying a holiday, or anywhere else, I hope the day is a good one, with or without ice cream!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Stroll: Road Trip

Right after breakfast this morning the dogs and I drove down to the Lodge. A quick trip to pick up and bring back accumulated mail and newspapers (me), re-fill bird feeders (me), race around the back yard like maniacs (them), bark at neighbours walking along the little lake road (them), admire the gardens (me), and take advantage of the power shower (me).

One of the last remaining tulips is my favourite.

Graceful arch of bleeding heart.

Fringed bleeding heart.

Lilies of the field.

Lilies in my hand.

I have masses of lily of the valley. It would have taken me hours to pick them all--if I'd had hours, I probably would've done! However, I was satisfied with the bouquet you see above.

A flower with a very different aroma: chives.

The pink shrub whose name I never remember.



Always the first of my roses to bloom, Double Blush Burnet is ready to do her thing.

"If I pretend to be a rosebud, maybe she won't notice me...

...and I can make my escape!"

After reassuring myself that the garden was thriving without me, I had a quick cup of tea. Then we drove back to the cottage, through a rain shower. Very convenient, it washed most of the yellow-green pine pollen from my black car.

I brought that giant bouquet of lily-of-the-valley with me. Divided it in half and placed vases in the main sitting room and in the bedroom. The place smells heavenly!

The sunshine is back.

By leaving the Big Lake this morning, I thought we'd missed the inaugural voyage of the Big White Boat past our dock. Because of economic factors, the motorship company has cut the schedule.

But just now, as I typed this, I heard the chugging of the engines, and left the laptop long enough to capture this moment:

I appreciate your stopping by. To see who else is strolling today, head this way.

Friday, May 22, 2009

From the Cottagers

Wishing all a very happy, safe, and delicious holiday weekend, with thanks to those we remember for their service.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Right Place, Right Time

After a week like this one, I'm in the right place for relaxation, inspiration, recovery. Took that pic just moments ago.

What have I been up to? Been busy with the usual activities that have filled recent weeks. Attended another Finance Committee work session on a bill I co-sponsored. Mandolin lesson. Found myself featured in the huge and wonderful newspaper article about the cookbook project. (The reporter erroneously reported that I'm the author of 19 books--not yet! Unless I can count the ones in a state of incompletion. Depending how I count--fiction, nonfiction, novella--I can maybe make a case for 13.)

The House session on Wed. provided unexpected twists. I could get an entire novel out of the saga that is House Bill 436. Amendment language requested by the Governor as a requirement for his signature must now go to a Committee of Conference, stretching the suspense shadowing this bill's ulitmate fate for another fortnight.

I've got a chunk of cookbook galleys to proof.

My spouse departed for a foreign but not too distant country.

I spent today in Exeter, on a political junket to this location. I know--me, in a gun factory, a shooting range, and a security training centre? Well, yes. My committee had a field trip, and one of the best ever. We saw many amazing and impressive things. Practically all the Federal agencies that look out for us (Homeland Security, U.S. Air Marshals, Secret Service, and more) use weapons manufactured by Sig, and are trained there. I had a blast, though not literally. I was given a pistol to examine--one of my colleagues whipped out his phone cam and took my picture holding it. But we didn't do any shooting.

After a Power Point presentation, a tour of the factory, and some Q&A, we headed over to the Academy to tour the training centre and a drive by all the shooting ranges--here's one.

Some of the practice targets.

By the time I got home I was melting. Today's temperature was 92, and the AC in my Saab decided this week it would stop working. I predicted that the car would turn on me once I started car shopping in earnest, and I was correct. Once I got to the Lodge I showered, threw some necessities into the car, ditto the dogs, and made for the lake cottage. An early start to a holiday weekend. I brought work, as usual, but it never seems as onerous here, with the Bay spread out before me.

I'm starting to cool down. Gorgeous night. And the temperature, I hear, won't be so ghastly in the coming days.

I have to laugh when I remember that I fled on Sunday and didn't stay here longer because it was too damn cold! When I entered the house I recoiled at the sight of the space heater by my chair and the woollen blankets covering the bed! What a difference a few days make!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Musical Monday: Johnny Clegg & Savuka

I hadn't seen this video for many years. Viewing it again, and considering the many awful world events that have occurred since this song was new--a song written by a father to a very young son--I felt overwhelmed. It's too prescient for comfort. But I'm more convinced than ever that Cruel, Crazy Beautiful World is a magnificent and meaningful tune. Perhaps more so now than before....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saturday Dinner & Sunday Stroll

Confession: I ate a dessert for dinner last night, a Continental-style puff pancake. It bakes in the oven instead of cooking on the stovetop. Similar to Yorkshire pudding only sweet and not so dense. When baked, the inside consistency is a bit like bread pudding.

Anyway, I didn't have a recipe with me, except in my head. Plus I downsized it, because I wanted to cook a small puff in the tiny little iron skillet that lives here in the cottage.

Here's what it looks like when partly cooked:

After it was firmed up enough to support an addition, I broke up some Hershey bar chunks and placed them on top, to melt during the final stage of baking.

Once it came out of the oven it sank, as usual, and sank even more when plated. But it was delicious. I didn't feel at all decadent, it was a worthy reward for writing a lot yesterday, taking 2 long walks with the girls, and Rachel Alexandra's win in the Preakness.

This morning the girls and I took a brisk walk. It was no leisurely stroll, too raw and windy and cold for that. (At least the downpour had stopped.) After we returned I went down to the dock to take some photos.

Future blueberries:

Flowering tree:

Pine branch:

New maple leaves:

And on my way back up the hillside, the usual view.

Soon as I sat down here at my laptop desk to record the stroll, the Crow came to the suet feeder.

It's either a fish crow or an American crow. Not large enough and head too smooth to be a raven, although he's definitely big. He might be an immature raven, but I don't think so.

The activity at the feeders is very limited compared to the Lodge--only hummingbird and crow--but still interesting and entertaining.

We expect the Chap at any moment. He offered to start the furance for me--the temperatures may descend to the 30's tonight--but I'll probably return to the comforts of the Lodge.

Thanks for stopping by. As usual you'll find other strollers over here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Land of Lake

"What? You're eating breakfast before our walk to the Point? How long will that take?"

I reminded Jewel that when she woke me up at 6:00 a.m. I obligingly fed her and Ruth their breakfast. So they can just wait.

Even at that early hour, there were boats on the lake. It's the weekend of the Lake Winnipesaukee Fishing Derby, and the fishermen were headed up the Bay to register or to begin fishing. The Vice Chair of Fish & Game & Marine Resources wished them well, then returned to bed.

Once I was up and moving, I took a morning lake photo.

I had my breakfast on the porch. With the hummingbird.

Despite the yawn, this dog had plenty of rest. We didn't officially leave our beds till almost 9:30!

After I finished my yogurt and drank a cup of tea, we walked all the way to the top of the Point and back. Yesterday we had 2 walks, and today will probably be the same.

Remember the antique table/desk I purchased a fortnight ago? It's now installed. I played Goldilocks, trying to find just the right chair--this one matches and is the ideal height. Perfection!

So now I can sit here looking out at the lake and mountains and watching the hummingbird and suet feeders and listening to the warblers who rarely show themselves but make beautiful music.

I needed a break from projects and pending legislation and plumbers who don't show up when they're supposed to. And car shopping. (The leading contender, the Mercedes 4-Matic, was eclipsed in my affections by a BMW AWD. On Thursday I crawled inside and inspected one briefly; the Chap may test drive it for me today.)

I've got a novel to write, which is a peaceful endeavour, and an excellent one to re-read. And our Chap joins us tomorrow.

Hope your weekend is restful also.