"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, March 28, 2010

Sunday Stroll: Procession of the Palms

Palm Sunday.

The procession winds its way from the Undercroft...

...to the church doors.

The liturgical color for the Passion is red.

Back at the Lodge, Ruth is ready for her Sunday Stroll with the Chap.

The girls took him on a long, long walk. They opened the little lake swimming season--well, actually the wading season--today and came home with wet underparts and smelling of damp.

Is Jewel sticking out her tongue at the camera, or smiling for it?

We have a dinner party this evening in the next town over, with a few families from church and our rector.

It's bright outside with a brisk wind, and temperature in the 40's. I haven't spotted any interesting rodents today. The garden looks much the same as it did after my intense work session last weekend. Even so, we'll almost certainly have daffodils blooming on Easter!

Thanks for stopping by, to continue strolling head over to Aisling's blog.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wrap-up of the Week

This is how I found Jewel when I came home from my music lesson this afternoon. It was a brisk, 37 degree day, but as you see it was sunny.

I've survived this momentous week. Not only did my manuscript cross over from my laptop to my agent, on Wednesday--the day before Crossover Day in the legislature--the House bills crossed over to the Senate and vice versa. So that was another deadline met. Best of all, we finished our session by mid-afternoon and didn't have to return on Thursday as we'd been doing in recent weeks. Not that I had a totally free day...we had an Evangelism Commission meeting. My FFTNC was there, and we had a shopping excursion after and the Chap met us downtown for Mexican dinner.

I finished knitting my prayer shawl. I'm planning work on a different sort of craft project but I've also started some other knitting projects, too.

This morning after FFTNC and I finished our morning coffee, she returned to the North Country and I headed for the Seacoast to have brunch in Portsmouth with a friend. I'm eagerly awaiting my first great blue heron sighting and thought maybe I'd see one on that side of the state. Maybe the waters are still too cold and/or the small fish aren't running yet. Anyway, I didn't see one but I did see the tide full in. And seagulls flying around.

After brunch I went to Macy's and made use of the $10 birthday gift certificate they sent me. I bought 4 tops for $27, with the combination of store discounts and the coupon. These are spring-summer type tops, so it was an act of faith that the warm weather is on its way back.

I stopped at the Lodge to pick up my mandolin and music book and then went to Concord and then came home to find Jewel contentedly sunbathing. I think Ruth must've been in the dog house at that point.

Since coming home I've updated our parish website (in the nick of time!) for Palm Sunday and Holy Week and Eastertide.

My short fiction project submission is due at the end of the month but I'll probably submit over the weekend. (I so love beating deadlines!) In hours to come or tomorrow I'll finish my 3rd (or is it 4th?) draft edit, at which point I'm done.

I sort of lost count there at the end, but I think my novel manuscript had 7 drafts (or was it 8?), which seems like a lot--even for me.

Hurtling through this week I sort of forgot that there would be a weekend at the end of it. I have absolutely no idea what that Chap and I will be doing...except that there's a Procession of Palms at church on Sunday, and he's the Narrator for the Passion Play.

Other than church services and a music lesson, I don't think there's anything on my schedule next week. Like, nothing. It feels very strange, but I'm quite relieved!

Hope your weekend is a good one!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Finished & Delivered

The major news story of the day is...not what you might think!

As of today, my completed manuscript is now in my agent's possession. What was, at the year's end, a bloated novel of more than 151,000 words is reduced to a sleek 129,800 words (and is still the biggest book I've ever written.) Over a decade has passed since I had the initial idea, and since I began researching and crafting the story in earnest about 4 years have gone by...during which I did a lot more than just write. As any regular blog visitor knows.

Let the celebration begin!


Springtime Duchess

I waited approximately 15 minutes before starting on the next novel.

The other news headline is that I spotted another type of rodent today. I happened to be gazing out the kitchen window towards my front garden when I saw a small furry ball skittering across the ground. A vole! I went out there with my camera but he saw me coming, and being a shy sort slipped down into his vole hole. (I now know where it is and can keep a close watch.)

The weather has taken a cold, wet turn and will only get worse as the week wears on. I'll be indoors a lot, at the State House.

Mind you, delivering the manuscript is merely the next--and necessary--step in process of creating a book. But it's a major milestone.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Stroll: The Face in the Hole

In the morning if I'm the one to walk down the drive to fetch the paper, I feel as though I'm being watched.

Springtime has definitely arrived...a sure sign is the flying squirrel moving into the bird box to build her nest.

After retrieving the paper I always cross the road to check whether the ice is out yet on the little lake. This morning there's a very very thin film of ice on top. I don't expect it to last the day.

Yesterday we celebrated the first day of spring by tidying the garden (me) and getting the vintage Mercedes out of winter storage and putting her on the road (him). It was sunny and about 70 degrees.

I limited my efforts to the big rose bed in front because that's where most of the bulbs are planted, and they were covered with beech and oak leaves that fell in autumn. When I raked them away, I discovered that the moles and voles had a very busy winter among the roses. But the advantages of their activity far outweighed the disadvantages....My own-root (ungrafted) roses tend to send out an excess of shoots that pop up everywhere, and I must exert a great deal of energy chopping them off or tugging them up. Well, the rodents spent all winter dining on those tender young roots and stems, severing them underground. So mostly I was playing pick-up sticks with what was left of the shoots.

Leaf removal was a long process. Afterwards I trimmed back the lavender. It's really too soon to prune roses, except for the tough early bloomers like my Scotch roses (Stanwell Perpetual and Double Blush Burnet) and the dog roses. So I did them.

At the end of the day I was achey and weary from using long-dormant muscles, but not too bad. The Chap made caipirinhas and we drank them on the back porch.

So, for my morning stroll, actual growing things were visible.
Like lambs' ears.

And my big daffodils. (See the buds!)

And my wee daffidils. (See the buds!)

No, I didn't eradicate every single leaf. By late afternoon the breeze had picked up, which is frustrating when raking because of blow-back. And there's still some snow around, in shady spots at the back of the property and in front where the house casts an afternoon shadow.

This chipmunk must be jealous of my great fondness for the flying squirrel, because after several days' absence it reappeared.

The birdsong is amazing. This morning the juncoes descended, and we have flocks of chickadees, as well as our usual visitors like blue jays and downy and hairy woodpeckers. As for migrants, a female purple finch has been visiting our feeder. And a few times I've heard the red-winged blackbirds chucking over by the edge of the lake.

Thanks very much for stopping by. To continue strolling, head over to Aisling's place!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Oh, such a busy week! With magnificently sunny warm weather to keep me sane throughout all the activity...although mostly being confined to Representatives Hall on the most gorgeous days of the year was frustrating!

With Crossover Day next week, we've been non-stop legislating. The bills are all important, and even the controversial or uber-important ones run together in my mind. There's one standout--the bill to name apple cider as the state's official beverage. The debate was lighthearted (mostly), the 4th graders who had made the suggestion to their representative (the prime sponsor) were present, and it passed overwhelmingly. There were jugs of cider in the members' lounge yesterday morning, a refreshing alternative to coffee, and a good lobbying effort that paid off! When I got home I celebrated with some hard cider (not actually referenced in this legislation.) I hope the Senate and the Governor will uphold the decision of the House!

There was some diocesan stuff on my plate as well, a lunch and a conference call and a meeting. This week our bishop became "the other" openly gay bishop in the Episcopal church, instead of "the only." Unless you further define him as "the only male" because the new one is a woman, or "the only diocesan" because the new one is a suffragan. And based on what I saw of her at the General Convention in Anaheim last summer, her diocese will be blessed by her ministry to and with them.

Crossover isn't the only deadline I'm facing...I've got writing deadlines, too. I'm feeling very comfortable and confident about progress. I'm a bit behind on some other things but hope to remedy it soon.

I'd love to be in my gardens, it's 60 degrees, but if I went to work out there I would lose all track of time. Today I've got a music lesson and a dinner party tonight, so I'm being disciplined. But...tomorrow for sure I will deal with the dead leaves and accumulated mess of autumn and winter. The bulbs are springing up fast but are lost in all the clutter.

My bedtime reading this week has been devoted to an old favourite that I've not re-read for quite a long time: Kenneth Graham's The Wind in the Willows. I forgot how lovely are Mole and Rat and Badger and Otter and Toad. Well, Toad is more tiresome than lovely, I suppose, but quite real. We all know a Toad, don't we? And probably more than one. And all of us have a little bit of Toad in us, and that recognition makes us cringe.

Just a few of the reasons I love the story are its celebration of the English landscape--in particular the area round Pangbourne on the Thames (which I've explored)--and of animals (mostly rodents! yay!), and the responsibilities and sacrifices required by friendship, and the necessity of food and drink in fostering relationships, and the feelings inspired by home comforts. It's witty and wise and contains morals. It's pastoral yet has scenes of great excitement, and even violence. And there's lots of messing about with boats on the river.

Presently the mole came tumbling into the room, evidently very pleased with himself. "I've been having such fun!" he began at once; "I've been getting a rise out of the stoats."

I hope the coming weekend brings you fun and friendship and good food!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Great Change

Did I mention that we had 7 inches of rain (or something crazy like that) from Friday to Monday? Flooding all over the state, roads washed out, road closures, trees down. The little seasonal creek that surrounds 3 sides of our property got very, very full. Too much water to flow under the road, so it jumped over the road to get to the lake, right beside our driveway.

The rain kept up until last evening...it stopped right before I headed home from a county delegation meeting at which we (unanimously) voted the county budget for the next fiscal year. Only a .0234% increase over this year--1/4 of 1%--so not bad considering the current economy. Superlative fiscal management by our department heads and county commissioners.

This morning the sun returned. I'd sort of forgotten what that looks and feels like. I had my Chairs & Vice Chairs meeting, then met our parish's former rector for lunch.

It's so warm--almost 60 degrees--that I needed to open up the sunroof to let the fresh air in. Only I couldn't remember how to do it, and had to check the owner's manual!

All the rain and warm weather during the rainfall means the ice is very swiftly receding on the little lake. The ice has completely pulled away from the shore all the way round.

All it would take is another windy day for the ice sheet to sink. However, we've had quite enough wind lately, as this photo shows:

That tree is larger than the photo indicates and only a short distance from the Lodge. I believe it came down sometime Saturday night, which was scary windy. Miraculously it fell into the pasture and not across the private road or the power lines, which would've been a major inconvenience for us and other residents. The thawed ground is so saturated, and below it the ground is still frozen, and this is but one of numerous trees in NH that have toppled over--in very destructive, and in one case deadly--ways.

The best thing about that picture: I raised my camera up through the sunroof to shoot it.

Ruth and Jewel are sunbathing outdoors. I've had the porch door open to let the warmth into our bedroom.

I say "our" bedroom but I'm the only occupant at present. The Chap is down in Washington, D.C. for a conference. Today he had meetings with practically every member of the President's Cabinet, and will bring back information to benefit our state and local governments.

The rest of this week will mostly be devoted to legislating. Crossover Day is getting close, and we have to vote out a ton of bills by the deadline.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What this rainy Monday looks like, from where I sit.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


This post in no way rises to the level of a Sunday Stroll. The weather is partly to blame, but so are my activities and responsibilities.

Yesterday morning, this was all the snow remaining on the large upper deck, aka "the party deck."

It was soon gone. But that wasn't the end of the story...stay tuned!

The Chap left at 10 a.m. for the airport, to catch a noontime flight. But that wasn't the end of the story...stayed tuned!

My Friend From The North Country was returning from Jerusalem (via Virginia, via Baltimore) and I had the happy task of picking her up at the same aiport from which the Chap should've departed at noontime. At one point I expected them to meet up in the corridors of BWI, he arriving, she departing. However, the Baltimore to Manchester flight (i.e. the plane coming to pick him up in NH) was struck by lightning en route and had to return to BWI, and of course it took additional time for the crew and passengers to de-plane and board the new equipment.

So, when I arrived at MHT to pick up FFTNC, the Chap was still waiting at his gate for his departing flight. Not that I saw him...I didn't learn this until he rang me on arrival.

Here's our glowing girl, returned from her Jerusalem pilgrimage of discovery.

She was bearing gifts...lovely and thoughtful and meaningful gifts.

I drove her as far as Tilton and at Starbucks we met up with her ride back to the North Country.

By the time I returned to the Lodge, it was snowing. So we had no snow on the deck only for a matter of hours. The wind roared and the rain poured all night long but not quite with the same force as during the recent Terrible Windstorm. This morning there was a weird slushy substance coating the decks and steps, and underneath was water. Basically the ground was covered with slushy stuff.

I went to church, where we had a visiting priest--my dear friend who also happens to be one of the Bishop's canons. He presided at the Eucharist and preached.

After the service we had our usual book study forum. We are reading Monk Habits for Everyday People, about implementing monastic life rule into our daily lives. And our visitor was a monk who lived in a monastery for three years, and from him we gained all sorts of insights into the real life and habits and spirituality of monks.

The rain continues to fall. Doesn't matter. It's an afternoon for couch potato-ing with the dogs and lap-topping.

So much cool stuff is happening in my life and other lives. So even though it's such a grey, drippy day, my mood couldn't be better.

Things are so very interesting and exciting that I'm not jealous (much) of the Chap, who is in Washington, D.C. and staying somewhere utterly fantastic where I've often stayed myself.

Thanks for stopping by...hope your weekend is a drier!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What Day Is It?

Sorry I haven't been able to provide any "content" in this space. My time is ruled primarily by a fairly intense legislative calendar as the House of Representatives debates its way towards Crossover Day, so there's not much "content" to my real life. And whatever hours I did have to myself were devoted to the manuscript, which doesn't make for interesting blogging...but did move me past another milestone which I shall report on very soon.

My Friend From The North Country has concluded her three weeks in the Holy Land. There's a sidebar link to her blog but I'm posting one here, because her experiences and perceptions are so interesting, as well as so beautifully and sensitively written and illustrated, that they deserve to be pointed out.

White Mountain Musings

And I shall return in the very near future. Like maybe tomorrow!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sunday Stroll: Saturday Drive

We're basking in a sunny, 50 F degrees weekend. Plenty of melting happening, and a bad case of spring fever for yours truly. I'm able to reach my front rose garden now, and most mornings I visit it. Only part of it is still blanketed by snow. And not for long, I think!

Yesterday we followed our MEP birthday week tradition and headed up to the lake cottage.

Ruth was on her best behaviour because we travelled in my car.

And Jewel was also well-behaved.

Soon as we arrived, they insisted upon their walk--it's what we always do first.

Much to our surprise, we discovered a construction project on our road. A foundation for a new house on a property where the existing house dates from 1907.

After we check out the inside of the cottage, we head down to the dock. The sky was gorgeous.

The ice fishermen's bob houses are gone from our Bay already.

We're very happy to be back on the Big Lake.

Nice backdrop!

Our hillside looks quite bare at this season before leaf-out, we can see most of the cottage from the waterside.

A parting shot of our front yard.

On our way home we picked up Singapore Curry Noodles from Ping's. After supper we watched Wordplay, the awesome and entertaining documentary about the Crossword Puzzle Championships.

After church this morning we washed the Honourable Motorcar. I've named my brown bunny Biff. He goes everywhere with me.

And in the "front yard" of the Lodge--ice fishermen!

They're here every weekend. Makes me nervous, because our ice is beginning to go out!

Thanks for stopping by. To continue strolling, head over to Aisling's blog.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Birthday Baby

March 4 - Pisces Birthday
YOUR SIGN - Pisces
(as seen above, water is definitely my element!
YOUR RULERS - Neptune, Moon.

As a March 4 Pisces you might well have found that from a very early age you were attracted by religion, by ritual, and aspects of great beauty. All of these interests tend to lift a person out of the ordinary and into the inspirational.

This is accurate.

You desire to comprehend that which is unseen and to generate, through your creative imagination and particular skills, works that are in some way representative of the more subtle reality that is so much a part of your nature.

The creative imagination part is very true. What's "subtle reality"?

By nature, as a March 4 Pisces, you generally tend to look for and see the best in people with result that you can at times be extremely disappointed when they fail to live up to your expectations.


I wonder what the next year has in store, according to the stars?

The Sun in harmonious aspect to the Moon in your Solar Return chart is a pleasant aspect, suggesting that your domestic and career needs are not in competition with one another this year.


Your inner needs tend to be mirrored by external events, and vice versa. You are likely to be on top of your game this year for the most part, and positive connections with others can be made fairly easily.

Double yay! I'd like to be on top of my game. What game is that, specifically?

A comfortable level of personal popularity helps keep conflict to a minimum.

Personal popularity = wearing really cute skirts. This I can do.

With the ability to handle your emotions successfully, there will be less stress on both your mind and body.

Makes sense.

The Sun conjuncts Jupiter in your Solar Return chart, bringing more awareness of moral issues and long-term goals, as well as a stronger than usual desire to improve and learn this year.

You read my mind!

Optimism and confidence are with you, and you are able to attract fortunate circumstances into your life as a result.

I'm feeling more confident already!

Problems are easier to resolve this year.

Uh oh. What problems? Guess it doesn't matter if they get resolved easily.

You are more sociable and might meet especially helpful people during this period.

I like people. Especially helpful ones.

Travel opportunities are more likely.

More likely? More like inevitable!

Your broader perspective on matters this year keeps you from getting lost in details or overly frustrated by everyday stresses and strains.

This would be a first.

With the Sun also in dynamic aspect to Mars, you certainly have the drive to accomplish much, but be careful not to be too impatient or hasty or you will be simply spinning your wheels.


Pleasant sexual tension and healthy and friendly competitiveness is likely this year. Your magnetic appeal is very strong this year! Creative projects should fare well.

I like that last part the best.

With the Sun and the Moon in harmony as well as Venus and Mars harmonizing with one another, relationships are likely to be satisfying overall. Your cooperative and friendly manner attracts positive experiences into your life. Mars harmonizes with Saturn around the the time of your birthday this year, helping to ground you. Much can be accomplished this year, especially if you move ahead methodically. Work is solid this year, and you can see results from your efforts, or at least foresee success down the road. This gives you a sense of responsibility and a feeling of directedness and purposefulness. Traditional methods work, and thoroughness brings rewards. Practice or refining a technique is favored this year. The approach that seems to work best with this aspect is a step-by-step one, with modest ambitions and the appreciation of slow but steady progress.

That's a lot to take in.

Mercury sextiles (sounds like a terribly naughty word!) Pluto around the time of your birthday this year. You may gain some perhaps profound new insights into your life.

Hasn't happened yet, but it's only 9:00.

You can be especially persuasive and convincing in your communications, whether written or oral, and your perceptions are especially acute. You are inclined to do a lot of "digging", researching, analyzing, investigating, and getting to the bottom of things.

Well I am a writer/historian/communicator.

Increased psychological awareness of yourself and others can benefit you greatly, and employing strategy in your decision making is easier than usual this year. Relationships with younger people may be especially rewarding and meaningful.

At this point, practically everybody is younger than me.

Saturn is square Pluto in your Solar Return chart. This suggests a need for you to come to terms with your own powers of authority and your effectiveness. Power struggles, frustration, and manipulation are possible themes this year. You may desire change, but feel blocked by others or by circumstances. Alternatively, you may be attempting to resist change that is inevitable. Persistence will pay off in the end, and the need to adjust your expectations becomes obvious.

Don't like conflict. Do like change.

With Jupiter sextile (naughty word again!) Pluto, initiatives involving business, the law, and commerce are likely to improve for you this year due to increased personal influence, faith, and insight.

Can't wait!

Personal confidence and hopefulness run high this year. Work is solid and brings slow but steady rewards. Even so, you are especially imaginative and creative, and channeling this energy into something productive can bring rewards. You benefit from practice and formal studies this year, if possible. Romantic relationships are likely to be changeful and exciting this year, and your personal magnetism runs high.

I can live with that.

This morning before the Chap left for his office we had a little birthday party, opening pressies and cards.

He gave me an amazing Calandiva plant. Cousin of the kalanchoe--on steroids!

The traditional--and very necessary--pot of birthday daffodils.

Here's the boxwood bonsai I made on Tuesday. Just looking at it makes me feel peaceful.

Now a bonsai purist would rightly say that it isn't really a bonsai--yet. It's a tiny shrub with pruned roots and foliage growing in a bonsai pot. The trunk hasn't matured. It's really just a starter bonsai. The Chap likes it so much he asked if I could make one for his office windowsill. I can and I will.

More festivities later in Concord. I'm enjoying a quiet and solitary birthday morning at home. (Especially since the House of Representatives didn't adjourn till about 7:00 last night.)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Back on the Grid & Projects

Our electricity was restored sometime early yesterday morning. The outage lasted 3 and a half days. We were among the last to get back service, but there are still thousands without. I saw a few of them this morning today at my Chairs and Vice Chairs meeting.

I could write a love letter to our generator and our fuel tank. Our experience in generating electricity provided good information on the fuel-to-generation ratio. (We could've managed several more days without getting a re-fill.) Our investment in a top-of-the-line model really paid off during the Second Worst Electrical Outage in State History. (The first being the '08 Ice Storm...a mere 14 months ago.) The generator's constant hum was part of my life for so long that I missed the fact of it (if not the noise) after we no longer needed it. My love affair with it is such that I can't, won't complain about the sound when it runs--because it's doing its job!

As the Chap keeps saying, "The best home improvement, ever!" And we've had a few.

Yesterday was my last day of legislative break, and it's no exaggeration to say it was by far the most productive. (Last week was no break at all...I had many non-legislative meetings, medical procedure, and a power outage to contend with.)

Here's how I spent my final day of "freedom" from the House of Representatives (in no particular order):

--practised mandolin

--decided on specific dates, locations, hotels, car hire, research and social activities for next UK trip and sought Chap's opinion of same.

--checked in on our loved ones living in France (at present visiting Britain) to find out whether their house in Poitou-Charentes was damaged in the windstorms attacking the other side of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, it was.

--made progress on revisions of current novel

--messed about with some research/work on next novel

--completed 2 loads of laundry

--didn't use any curse words

--cooked lamb rogan josh (in the slow cooker, but I had to get it started and it's a complex recipe with many ingredients)

--knitted, which involved successfully adding on a new skein of yarn. My project is this shawl.

The needles are longer and thicker and slippery-er than the ones I used last time. But the shawl is basically just a fatter scarf. So even though my knitting mentor is touring places like Jerusalem and Bethlehem and the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee and the desert where Jesus spent 40 days inventing Lent...I feel I'm living up to her high expectations.

Compared to all that, today I'm just a slacker. I attended my Chairs and Vice Chairs meeting, got my car inspected (revised ms. in the waiting room), and put away the laundry.

In between the meeting and the inspection I stopped at the garden centre and bought this little bonsai pot.

I've got a houseful of little boxwood trees, grown from cuttings taken from my mother's boxwoods, which were themselves grown from cuttings taken from a family friend's boxwoods. I've decided to bonsai one of them. So in addition to today's aforementioned unimpressive activities, I'll be mixing soil and planting and pruning a tiny tree, my latest horticultural project.

The garden centre had many prepared bonsai--for instant gratification types--which were quite inspiring to see. While I'm often in favour of instant gratification, I'm not about to lay out $$$ on another houseplant.

Because I have a hunch that I might just receive a plant from the Chap this week...special occasion coming up!