"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, February 28, 2010

Sunday Stroll: Situation Unchanged

We are coping. We say prayers of thanks for our humming generator and the very, very large propane tank that fuels it.

A little more snow overnight.

It left snowy blossoms on the tree in front of our church.

We participated in the Lenten book study.

The Chap took the girls for a walk while I updated the church website and Instant Messaged with FFTNC, still in Jerusalem but soon headed for Galilee.

Not much of a stroll, I know. You'll probably find better ones at Aisling's blog!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Return of Snow

Did we really need a dose of snow on top of everything else going on in our state? Well, we got it. We hope it won't hamper the power company crews...those here in NH and the ones from MD, MI, and Canada coming to help us out. Latest word is that it will be "multiple days" before power is restored and we assume that means us specifically as well as the state in general, and the other 273,000, some of whom are taking refuge in shelters or with family or friends.

For much of yesterday we did have a working landline, but no longer. So now we have cell phones only, and since we have generator-generated electricity we can keep them charged.

Ruth and Jewel assess the morning accumulation. We got about 4 or 5 inches...it's still falling.

And it's sticking. In interesting ways.

It's lovely to look at, too.

The Chap and I had a diocesan stewardship institute today in Concord. Our local roads were a little icy and snowy...

...but the main roads were just wet.

The Capitol Dome, which also appears in the writing project I just completed.

In the city the snow had stopped by the time we finished our meeting, shortly after lunchtime. It was great morning. And we prayed for the people of Chile...and a young lady from NH who is there and whose family are anxiously awaiting contact from her.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Return of Power Outage

Yesterday had it's good moment--I finished my short fiction project. It was pretty much downhill from there, culminating in a massive windstorm that brought hurricane like rains and 68 mph winds to the capitol region. The wind speed was double that on top of Mount Washington, and up-state they got snow instead of rain.

Our power flickered for hours and we lost it at about 10.30 p.m. We are among the 300,000 NH residents without electricity. We are also among the permanently scarred '08 Ice Storm veterans who decided to install a generator.

Therefore, the Lodge has light, heat, hot water, flushing loos, several major appliances, satellite tv and internet.

I didn't sleep particularly well--not so much because of the generator's constant hum, but because it's not very restful when 70 mph. winds are battering your house. Sort of terrifying, actually.

Power company estimate: this outage could continue for at least a couple of days, possibly more. We have no downed trees or limbs, just twigs. First thing this morning we knew our private road was passable because our newspapers were delivered as usual. This is not the case elsewhere in the state...many roads are blocked by fallen trees. Hundreds of them.

I'm feeling truly blessed but am concerned for the many who are inconvenienced by the storm. And that includes the states to our south which received the storm in blizzard form.

A great deal of snow got washed away...and we still have plenty left on the ground.

On a morning like this, the sight of a couple of snowdrops in the front garden is a rare and wonderful and timely gift.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Return of Snow

Not so long ago we got 10 inches, yet they're surprisingly suprised by the 5 inches received this morning.

As it opens more fully, my camellia looks lovelier every day.

Busy day at the bird feeders, as you might imagine. Not so busy in the downstairs sitting room, where my fingers on the keyboard are the only thing moving. Ruth and Jewel are soundly sleeping here on the sofa. The result of vigorous snow romping.

And my chipmunk has no doubt retreated deep into his burrow, until the next warm spell.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Return of the Chipmunk

After strolling yesterday I met my Friend From The North Country in Concord and drove her to Manchester Airport.

And I did a lot of this.

Because she was embarking on the first leg of her journey to the Holy Land.

Even though we've never been there, and she's an experienced international traveller herself, the Chap and I did a fair amount of travel consulting in recent days.

Speaking of the spouse, he returns later today after his Boston weekend. During his absence I've worked on the novel and the new project.

The 40+ degree temperatures are having their way with the landscape. The ice fishermen were out on the little lake all weekend, so the surface must still be safe. But the snow is gradually receding.

Look--open ground!

The result of open ground is the return of the chipmunk! I saw my first one of the year a little while ago. After all that time in hibernation, he needed a good stretch.

"I'm hungry. Can you help?"

Looking for something to eat.

"Gotta go!"

I'm such a soft touch when it comes to pleading rodents. I put some safflower seeds in a little dish and set it out. Waiting for him to find it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Stroll: Gardens, Indoors & Out

The 10 inches of snow we received on Tuesday is melted now, after a series of sunny, over-40 degree days. There's still snow cover, of course, and the breeze is incessant. But the maple sugar houses are cranking out the product, a sure sign of "late" winter! In case we couldn't tell that from the calendar.

I have a pair of pink camellia shrubs growing indoors, a large one I ordered from Logee's Greenhouse, and a smaller one rooted from a cutting. The big one has never bloomed. The little, home-made one just did.

I've had this azalea for over a decade, at least. An amazingly reliable houseplant.

The Crown of Thorns.

Every autumn my passion flower dies all the way back but around the first of the year it sends up fresh young shoots. I've snipped back the new growth to encourage branching, and now it's twining nicely around the tuteur.

Another reliable old-timer, the red cyclamen.

The Chap received this ivy as a welcome gift when he started his job over 3 years ago. It was in a faltering state of health by the time he moved into his new office last autumn so he brought it home for triage. I've brought it back from the brink and it's looking much better.

Scented geranium leaves.

The Chap is also an indoor gardener--or rather, farmer. These are his sprouts.

Outdoor, the naked mermaid is sunbathing, and probably glad that the snow has receded.

Elsewhere, another garden statue is still buried in snow and caged by rose canes and dead stalks of bergamot.

I hope your strolls take you to pleasant places today. To continue strolling, visit Aisling's blog. And thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Break

After a hectic and demanding few weeks--often in pleasant ways--I'm on break.

We received about 10 inches of snow, very beautiful and it has freshened up the landscape. I took pictures yesterday morning. However because I'm on break I'm too lazy to fetch the digi-card from my camera and upload them.

Yesterday's drive to the State House couldn't have been easier. Despite all the accumulation it was surprisingly light snow and the plows pushed it all out of the way. I was on time for our Caucus. The Governor joined us for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, then we got down to business. It was a slow start.

Because it promised to be a long and difficult day, to cheer myself up I wore my newest skirt, black with a hem decorated with b-i-g appliqueed flowers in purple and burgundy and violet, and a top I have that exactly matches the colour of 2 of the flowers. Rave reviews! I've never in my life received so many positive comments on a garment. Even the Associated Press photographer was raving. (I wondered if my frivolous flowery skirt would wind up on the front page of today's paper! But it didn't.)

I know, you want a picture. You'll get one eventually. I will certainly wear it again, possibly soon.

At lunch break I headed to the diocesan office. Several of the staff were wearing their ashes on their foreheads. I'd hoped to attend one of the Ash Wednesday services at the church beside the State House...I missed the 7.30 a.m. one and forgot about the 12:10 one (we were still in session anyway.) But...the Speaker thought we would finish up at 5 or 5.30, raising my hopes of attending the service at my own parish with the Chap.

At mid-afternoon my committee's 2 bills came to the floor. The first one and its amendment passed surprisingly quickly. The second one had 3 speakers against and 3 speakers in favour (all from our committee, which unanimously voted against it) and I was one of those. Originally I hadn't wanted to speak on this bill because I made a similar address 3 years ago...been there, done that. But the Chairman, and some others, wanted me to. Seemed to go really well--probably less because of my arguments than because people were stunned into submission by my adorable skirt. Our side prevailed and by a much larger margin than last time.

Lastly, we dealt with 2 bills attempting to repeal our new marriage equality law. There was a re-run of the debate we heard last spring. Both were defeated rather significantly.

Because we didn't finish until maybe 6 or a little later and I gave a colleague a ride home, I missed out going to church with the Chap. When he got home he let me rub some of his ashes on my forehead. And my priest friend phoned in a Lenten benediction and left one on my Facebook wall.

For Lent I've given up swear words and bad 4-letter words. I've done this before, and it really does cure me of swearing well beyond Lent. But not forever, otherwise I wouldn't have to repeat the effort. Believe me, you don't wake up on Easter morning saying "Oh joy, Lent is over, I can say @#$! and $%@# again!" No. You say, "Wow, I went 40 days without using them, I'm going to try and keep it up."

I only had one slip-up so far. Early yesterday morning...before I remembered that Lent had begun.

I think this means I also have to give up typing WTF? too. But I don't do that terribly often.

Here's what being on break looks like.

Today = mandolin lesson, followed by coffee with Friend From The North Country whose in Concord for a Clergy Lenten Quiet Day with our Bishop. I'm cooking veal parm for the Chap tonight. Tomorrow = an evening dinner party. Saturday & Sunday = Dogs and I are on our own all weekend, he's going to Boston to hang with an old college buddy and attend an annual luncheon at which he'll feast well and drink wicked potent punch made from a truly dangerous 18th century recipe. On Sunday I drive my FFTNC to the airport--she's travelling to Israel to take a course on "The Palestine of Jesus."

Not much on next week's calendar. Loads of writing time, so I expect to make great progress on my next-to-last stage of revisions.

I've just unexpectedly acquired an exciting new writing project...but I'm not ready to share! All in good time. So I'll just say it's quite different and challenging and comes with practically a guarantee of publication and interesting publicity. Although being me I'm certainly not taking anything for granted at this early stage.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Best In Snow

We've been watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

And we played along. We had a tie for Best On Couch. And another tie for Best In Snow.

We've got over half a foot of snow...maybe the predicted 8 or 9 inches. Could be a rough commute to the State House tomorrow.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Meander

"I want to see the sea," I told him when he asked how we should spend this holiday. "And shop."

So we headed east....

past Wagon Hill Farm.

We crossed the river (aka the Border) into Maine.

We shopped at Kittery Outlets and the Kittery Trading Post. At Orvis I bought this rabbit. Technically it's a dog toy, but my dogs will never be allowed anywhere near it. I'm thinking of keeping it in my car.

Crossing back into Portsmouth, we ate lunch at the Friendly Toast. I had scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and fresh dill and needless to say it was delicious. As were the onion rings.

I hadn't found any garments worthy of purchase in Maine. So I popped into my favourite vintage clothing store and found the cutest skirt. On sale. For $11! I might even wear it on Wednesday for the floor debate.

Leaving Portsmouth we followed Route 1-A south, along the coast. On the right side, marsh.

On the other side, the sea. We stopped for some photos at Wallis Sands. It was such a clear day, the water and sky so blue, and the Isles of Shoals clearly visible on the horizon.

A breaker.

Our next stop was North Hampton Beach.

Love on the beach.

Nice afternoon for a stroll, as long as you don't mind a heavy sea breeze.

We continued to Hampton. Thomas Chase, nn ancestor of mine landed there in the late 1630's. "Wish he'd held onto some seafront property," I sighed before we turned westward for the drive back to the Lodge. "But then," I added, "Nowadays I'm more a living-on-the-lake person than a living-by-the-beach person."

Now that my "seeing the sea" wish has been fulfilled, our next weekend road trip will probably be to the cottage on the Big Lake!

I've a favour to ask. Please, please leave me a comment! I need to know that the new widget is working for people other than me. Post anonymously if it lets you. Or not. Just say something! Anything!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dog Attack, Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras

It's a Sunday Stroll day but my camera batteries croaked before I had a chance to stroll after church. So I'm posting pics from yesterday and before church this morning.

As previously mentioned our Friend from the North Country, also known all last week as Birthday Girl, was using the Lodge as her base late in the week. Yesterday before she and I headed out on a shopping trip, she was saying goodbye to Ruth and Jewel (and trying to explain to them that because she's soon headed to the Holy Land it will be a month or more before she sees them again.)

They all posed for pictures.

Then the girls mauled her with affection.

First thing this morning the Chap and I exchanged Valentine's cards--some home-made, some store bought--this morning, and opened gifts, which included a dog book, a fave DVD, a music cd (the new Sade album), and cholocate candy and cookies.

At church we were having our Mardi Gras celebration (two days early). I was able to wear my groovy and colourful new sweater and found some actual Mardi Gras beads that matched nicely. The Chap acquired the beads during a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade, approximately a month before we first met.

In response to a request for a scarf photo, here's the finished product. I chose the yarn because it goes so nicely with this winter jacket (and other clothes I've got.)

Oh, I was wearing some festive Mardi Gras shoes, also.

Last night while watching Olympics I started my next knitting project--a prayer shawl. I'm using Homespun (that's the brand name) yarn, which has a crimp in it, and a Beginner level pattern. The shawl is really just a bigger, wider scarf. We have an active Prayer Shawl Ministry at our parish.

Tomorrow the Chap has a day off and we're heading for the Seacoast for food and frolic. So it will be a Monday Stroll this week.

I think I'm about to bite the bullet and install the upgrade of the Haloscan software that I dislike so much. Also I'm adding a couple of new blogs to the sidebar--two friends of mine started blogging recently--and deleting any that are shut down or so dormant they might as well have done.

And then I'll compose the speech I'll be giving in the House of Reps on Wednesday.

Friday, February 12, 2010


It's indicative of this week that the only time for blogging is now, as I wait for my Mercedes to be serviced. The customer lounge here at the dealership is one of the perks of having a posh car. Wifi, coffee on demand with a Keurig machine, comfy leather chairs, wall-mounted flat-screen tv. All I lack are some cuddly dogs!

Tuesday was incredibly hectic. Chairs & Vice Chairs at 8:30. From there I raced to the Fish & Game Department in the State Office Complex for some presentations on Search & Rescue and non-game wildlife management programs. Headed back to the State House block for a delicious and informative luncheon hosted by the county Farm Bureau. After that the F&G committee held an executive session on our 3 remaining (and most controversial) bills, all of which we killed. Returning home I made sure the pups were fed, then the Chap and I headed out for planning meeting with clergy and lay folks in our convocation (pizza supper!) followed by the convocation meeting itself. Home by 9:30 and my head was spinning.

The Wednesday House of Reps session will go down in the annals as one of the strangest and most frustrating. It was long, but could've been longer. I won't go into all the details. If you're inclined, you can read about it here. I suppose it's not a bad thing that the public becomes aware of the Consent Calendar and how it works, although some seem not to understand the necessity or desirability. I felt like a hostage until we adjourned a bit after 5 p.m.

That night we had company and celebrated a special occasion.

Yesterday afternoon was a Concord day. My Friend from the North Country is spending a few days with us, and we each had meetings and I had my lesson and we had lunch together and eventually there was a Diocesan Council meeting and we got home in time to make shawarma for dinner. She showed me how to cast off, so my super-long scarf is now finished and in fact I am wearing it at this very moment because it beautifully matches my top as well as my jacket.

On the way home I'll pick up some new yarn to stat another project.

Revising happens at times.

This weekend is the Audubon Society's annual Backyard Bird Count, so I've got my form ready to fill out and will be making my observations throughout the weekend. Hope all the cool birdies show up to be counted!

The weather has been amazing...bright and dry, though we had a trickle of non-accumulating snow on Wednesday. All the snow is to our south, and it's so very strange. The sled dog championship races have been cancelled or at least postponed, the snowmobile registrations are down, our overall economy is adversely affected by the lack of snow. Meanwhile, it piles up in places where people are not accustomed to dealing with it! And poor Vancouver could use some, too, with the Winter Olympics starting up.

I haven't had a great deal of time to think about Valentine's Day. Until now!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sunday Stroll: Ice, Ice Baby!

The heavy snowfall far to or south is more typical of what our state expects in February. We are caught in a hard freeze, and the wind can be brisk. But sunshine and blue skies reign...at least for the time being.

After church the Chap and I took a little excursion. We were headed for a retail outlet mecca not terribly far away. Our loopy sort of circular route there and back to the Lodge took us through pretty country--rolling hills, distant white-capped mountains. And past lots and lots of ice.

Bog ice.

Lake ice.

River ice.

A bit of open water in the river.

Field ice.

Deserted beaver pond ice.

Home ice. Our little lake.

Hope your strolls took you to interesting places. To continue strolling stop over at Aisling's blog.