"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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Saturday was undoubtedly the most beautiful day of summer. It was clear and pleasant, hardly a cloud in the perfectly blue sky. Difficult as it was to fathom, given the conditions, we knew Hurricane Irene was on her way. The Chap got the chainsaw out and removed some young trees close to the electrical wires and telephone cables. I took planters off the deck railing and brought some garden statues indoors.

Sunday was rainy and windy and everything one expects of a tropical storm--she'd been downgraded by the time she arrived. The Chap intended to go to church, but I dissuaded him. "It's just a bad storm now...who knows what conditions will be like when you're trying to get home?"

We lost electrical power, as expected. Our generator came on automatically, so we had all major appliances, water pump, satellite tv, internet, radio. It wouldn't have surprised us to go quite a long time without electricity, but it was miraculously restored 5 hours later. The winds were fierce. A very large tub on the deck blew over, but the runner beans and morning glories were unscathed. The gale sheared small branches and twigs and lots of leaves from the trees. Ruth and Jewel were fussy about going outside, which was necessary a few times, and when they came back inside they were soaking, we had to towel them off. That's their favourite part of being wet, the toweling!

Monday was as gorgeous at Saturday, perhaps more so, and Irene was like a brief bad dream--for us. By then we knew that there was major flooding, road destruction, and power outages in other parts of our state and in neighbouring Vermont. People on the Seacoast regarded Irene as a non-event, while inland people were--and are still--suffering greatly.

We checked with neighbours near the cottage on Monday and found out electricity had just returned...it was out for about 24 hours. We drove there--oh, my, big trees knocked down along the highway, reminding me of the tornado a few years back--stopping for lobsters at the market. It was a friend's birthday, we'd planned his party by the lake. That plan was unaffected, and we were glad to host him because he'd been without power.

The chaps went swimming. (Water is down to 70 degrees, so I didn't go in!) My chap put the canoe back in the water. We feasted on our friend's fresh tomatoes in a caprese salad.

After the Chap hypnotised the lobsters, we steamed them. The summer feast also included fresh corn on the cob. After the meal we ate a chocolate cake I'd made...first time using the recipe for cake and frosting, and the combination was a triumph.

We returned to the Lodge later that night. Yesterday (Tuesday) it was back to the office for the Chap, and back-to-back meetings for me.

The lake is calling to me, so I'm returning later today. The silence and peace of it is delightful. All the holiday-makers and weekenders have departed (some will return for the Labor Day weekend). Our summer neighbours are still in residence for a few weeks more, and the year-round folks are returning from their own vacations. (People who live on lakes go other places...chance of scene, change of pace!)

As I enjoy these precious days, I can't help but remember that so many people are isolated due to swollen rivers or ruptured roads, and have no lights or any way to get supplies. My heart goes out to them.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weather Fair & Foul

On Monday the Chap and I were at the lake cottage. We transported our Old Town kevlar canoe, which has lived at the Lodge for many, many years. We weren't using it on the little lake here so decided it would be more useful on the Big Lake. The canoe there is also an Old Town, an antique wooden canoe made in 1912 (we have the original paperwork.) It's gorgeous but heavy to maneuvre.

It was a glorious, breezy day.

The Chap and his brother (in front) take the canoe down the steps.

In its new location beside the dock.

However, with Hurricane Irene on her way, due to arrive this weekend, the canoe will be removed from the water and safely tucked inside the boat house.

We had planned to be at the cottage--which survived the fearsome 1938 hurricane. But it's better to ride out the storm here at the Lodge, where we have a generator in case of power outages, and lots of food and a garage to protect 2/3 of our fleet of cars.

We sharing our habitat with another little deer mouse.

My long absence from blogging is due to a writing project, lots of meetings, preparations for various visitors, other distractions, and scripting for a video in preparation for editing. I look forward to a housebound weekend for pleasure reading and relaxation. What else does one do during a hurricane?

I was driving during Tuesday's earthquake and had no idea it occurred. The Chap was at a meeting in a conference room, and definitely felt the earth waver for several seconds. He was the only one in the group who knew what was happening!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Restless England

Many fellow bloggers and all media outlets on both sides of the Atlanta have covered the rioting in London boroughs and other parts of England. The causes of the unrest have been speculated about endlessly, the reponses debated in every forum.

I've been busy, and busy-ness is comfort. It's also kept me from commenting on these developments in a country that formed me to a great extent and where I return at least once a year. I intend to be there again before the year is out, to see friends and explore family connections.

Historical bloggers are running down the list of English public unrest down the centuries. Americans who haven't set foot in the country for a decade or more are shocked and alarmed. Those familiar with the places wrecked, looted, torched, are outraged.

It's a very small nation crammed with many many people, natives and people from every other land on earth. There is a wide disparity between the classes, and more class distinctions--among immigrants and Britons--than is conceiveable to Americans. It's a potent mix.

I mourn, I rage, I go through all the stages. But I'm not in denial. These eruptions occur--in every generation, under every government. Riots broke out when I was there 8 months ago, the drone of helicopters was omnipresent. Though I hope not, I won't be surprised if it happens next there. It's terrible to see...but to me, based upon my experience, not entirely incomprehensible.

I've seen desperation explode into flames.

Some commentators call it the desperation of the underclass. Some call meanness and yobbishness of modern youth. If only identifying the source of the violence were a means of curing it....

One of the most beautiful and saddest songs Mark Knopfler ever composed describes impotent despair. For me, it sums up how what we think of as social and technological progress is nothing of the kind.

A b&w video of the song performed at RAH. I saw it performed in Montreal last year.

And the lyrics:

A long time ago came a man on a track
Walking thirty miles with a sack on his back
And he put down his load where he thought it was the best
Made a home in the wilderness
Built a cabin and a winter store
And he ploughed up the ground by the cold lake shore
The other travelers came walking down the track
And they never went further, no, they never went back
Then came the churches then came the schools
Then came the lawyers then came the rules
Then came the trains and the trucks with their load
And the dirty old track was the telegraph road

Then came the mines and then came the ore
Then there was the hard times then there was a war
Telegraph sang a song about the world outside
Telegraph road got so deep and so wide
Like a rolling river ...

And my radio says tonight it's gonna freeze
People driving home from the factories
Six lanes of traffic
Three lanes moving slow ...

I used to like to go to work but they shut it down
I got a right to go to work but there's no work here to be found
Yes and they say we're gonna have to pay what's owed
We're gonna have to reap from some seed that's been sowed
And the birds up on the wires and the telegraph poles
They can always fly away from this rain and this cold
You can hear them singing out their telegraph code
All the way down the telegraph road

I'd sooner forget but I remember those nights
Yeah, life was just a bet on a race between the lights
You had your head on my shoulder you had your hand in my hair
Now you act a little colder like you don't seem to care ...
Well just believe in me baby and I'll take you away
From out of this darkness and into the day
From these rivers of headlights these rivers of rain
From the anger that lives on the streets with these names
'cos I've run every red light on memory lane
I've seen desperation explode into flames
And I don't want to see it again ...

From all of these signs saying 'sorry but we're closed'
All the way down the telegraph road

Monday, August 08, 2011

Two Guests

Over a week ago, I adopted another deer mouse. This one was much younger than the previous one.

It slept through the day and ate in the evening. It was such a sound sleeper than I called it Rip, for Rip Van Winkel.

On Thursday my childhood friend (Larry Hamilton knows her real name!) made her annual visit to New Hampshire.

She had her first dinner at La Carreta in Manchester almost as soon as she de-planed.

The next day she and I and the two dogs came to the lake cottage. We stopped along the way at the Pick Your Own fruit farm.

First we picked blueberries.

Then we picked raspberries.

The day after that we went to lunch at El Centenario in Wolfeboro, then shopped at the famous annual Huggins Hospital Fair. After we exited the book tent with our purchases, they announced that everything for sale was half-price. So I got a DKNY merino wool skirt for $2.50 (just marked down from $5.00), and a little purse for the same price and an electric clock AM-FM radio ("tested ok") for only $1! She found some flannel pajamas for $1.50. I hadn't been to the fair for several years (during which we donated stuff but didn't attend) and forgot how amazing it is!

Yesterday we made two pies, they finished baking by the time the Chap arrived from church. (In the photo he took we're wearing the super-cute aprons she bought for us...she brings hers along so we can both wear them while cooking.)

We went to East of Suez for dinner last night. The goat cheese rangoons were everything I hoped, and the Pad Thai was amazing. The Chap and Larry's wife both had Phillipine dishes, pancit noodles and chicken adobo.

Last night the deer mouse seemed to be showing an interest in leaving its temporary habitat. It also became apparent that Rip was a she. So we started calling her Ripa.

This morning we took her to the same place where I released the other mouse.

She climbed up her stick and darted off into a pile of brush.

This was our road trip day, a circumnavigation of Lake Winnipesaukee. (The Chap was dog-sitter and took the girls back home to the Lodge.)

We drove down the Bay and up the other side, arriving at the Tamarack exactly at lunchtime.

We both ordered lobster rolls. It was the most claw meat I've ever had in a single lobster roll!

In Meredith we shopped. And shopped again in Moultonborough at the old Country Store. And lastly in Wolfeboro, where we bought matching t-shirts. When we returned to our dock for adult alcoholic beverages and sunset views, we had a photo op.

For supper we had salmon scrambled eggs with leftovers of the salmon she cooked for me on our first night at the cottage.