"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, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve to Boxing Day

Above is a collage of our ornaments of birds and fowl. Most are travel souvenirs, from Prague, Bratislava, Warsaw, Paris, London, Bristol, Nottingham, Mexico, and in US the Rocky Mountain West, California, the South, and New England.

The air was frigid when we left the Lodge for the annual Carol Sing and Christmas Eve Eucharist at church.

I've not had a Christmas cactus since the severe ice storm and dangerous freezing weather a few years ago. When we lost power (for 5 days, pre-generator) the Lodge was so cold inside that the water we'd stored in the Jacuzzi tub froze...and quite a few of my houseplants were killed. Including the heirloom Christmas cactus. Some very dear and thoughtful friends recently sent me this vivid pink one, a welcome addition for the holidays.

Christmas morning brought us a beautiful snowfall--flakes drifting down. The Chap called it "Charlie Brown Christmas snow" and I called it "snow globe snow." There was some snow cover on the ground, so in every respect we could call it a White Christmas.

I made Eggnog French toast for our breakfast, and the Chap and I shared a grapefruit and a navel orange from the various boxes sent us from Florida groves.

Then...stockings! One for each human, one for each dog.

They were stuffed with favourite edible treats (for humans and canines) and lots of London-related items and travel accessories. (2012 promises to be a very active travel year!)

When we finished with stockings, Ruth watched Jewel watch the squirrels raiding the bird feeder.

Before opening pressies, we pose in front of the tree for photo op. It can take a few trial shots to get the girls into position.

And then when they're in position, they do funny things. Ruth is half-asleep. Jewel is making a scary face like a dog-goyle. The official photo emailed to family members was similar to this, but this outtake happens to be my favourite of the lot.

The Chap knows how much I like sheep. Soon as I received my new flannels, I put them on. A matching top as well!

There were other items tagged "For Ewe"--matching socks and slippers.

Many other excellent gifts were received. We did the telephone call circuit, ringing far-flung family and friends, or they ringing us. After presents, I make the custard from a treasured family recipe passed down in my family for over 200 years. Or longer.

Our festive feast consisted of roasted Cornish game hens, green bean and mushroom Marsala, wild rice, and a divine vinho verde we'd saved for the occasion. Later, for pudding, we had the boiled custard with freshly baked gingerbread squares and a glass of port.

Our Christmas cactus friends gave me several fun items, including this floating ducky tea infuser. On Boxing Day I've been brewing my favourite Berry Bros. blend.

The girls having "quiet time" in my office this afternoon.

We hope your holiday spirits are bright and your celebrations merry! Cheers!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Girls are Ready!

On Christmas Eve Eve, snow has fallen and continues to drift from the sky. Holiday kerchiefs are tied around furry necks.

At the Lodge, the anticipation is palpable.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On my Tree: Swine

In my world travels, I've managed to add to my collection of piggish tree ornaments. Here are most of them (I believe I missed a couple....) They came from Mexico, London, Bath, Bristol, and various regions of the US.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Closer & Closer

Today is the last Sunday in Advent, though it's "only" 18th December. That's what happens when Christmas Day falls on Sunday!

Most of my recent days have been spent at the Lodge, messing about on a book, researching, enjoying the Christmas decorations, and a little bit of festive cookery. I'm addicted to Ovation channel's "Battle of the Nutcrackers"--I record them on the DVR to avoid the adverts.

When not at the Lodge--an occasional meeting and light shopping.

More ornaments from our tree:

Bruges lace and London's Big Ben.

Comedy/Tragedy masks, a relic of my former life upon the stage.

Characters from a novel of mine.

Today was our annual Nativity Pageant at church. The Chap admirably performed his usual role of Wise Man/King. As usual I was the official event photographer. I also loaned my lamb pupper to one of the shepherds. It was very popular with the other players and the audience. I'm so glad I remember to take it along!

A dinner party and gift exchange at a friend's house...the least sedate of all the parties we've attended so far. And this morning after church, our parish party--the last, I think, of the festive gatherings till after Christmas.

Our stockings are filled--dog stockings, too. Parcels are posted. Each day adds more gifts under our tree. Our Christmas Day menu is set.

The one thing we lack is snow!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

We had a hard freeze overnight and the holly bushes at the front door of our church were artfully frosted.

Yesterday we did the party circuit in the afternoon and evening. It's the annual "all dressed up and posing with the tree" photo op. Given our social schedule, there will doubtless be other versions.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Seasonal Activities

We visited the mountaintop tree farm and chose a tree on Saturday, a gorgeous specimen.

Yesterday I decorated our Christmas Tree-in-the-round.

I finished as dark was falling (the days certainly are getting short!) Then I went to Concord for the annual performance of Handel's Messiah. This year, with different soloists and a different trumpet player. As usual, the enormous church was packed, the musicians were breathtaking, the choristers magnificent (a wall of sound), and the soprano, alto, tenor and based performed magnificently.

The soprano and the alto.

Curtain call.

I've got video, too, which may come later. I'm busy wrapping presents at the moment. My shopping is complete and I'll be glad to get the shipping done soon, too.