"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, July 30, 2006

Good Cheap Fun

Last week I had a couple of necessities on my shopping list: a lip-liner to replace the old one that's now relegated to my travel cosmetics kit, and pink nail varnish for my toes.

The lip-liner I normally purchase comes from the department store and costs $21.50. That's a lot for a glorified pencil, I know...but as I explain to my spouse, it lasts a long, long time. Especially when you leave the house as rarely as do I.

As for the perfect pink nail varnish, I was willing to pay almost anything, if I could find that elusive shade of my imaginings.

Costly make-up is part of my life. Always has been, since I stopped borrowing my mum's stuff and let my grandmother enlighten me at the upscale cosmetics counter.

I'm (almost) ashamed to confess that I used to only buy Countess Isserlyn foundation, at $50 a bottle. Until Lancome invented one even more perfect for my complexion and skin type, which happens to be around $15.00 “cheaper”--the shade my husband refers to as “Geisha #2”. So I’m extravagant and pale. He's used to it by now.

He and I were shopping round the supermarket together last week. That in itself is bizarre enough, as he's responsible for nearly all our marketing--and a damn fine job he does of it, too. Once a week, I hand him a list. If I forget to write something down, he usually remembers it anyway.

While shopping, we separate for a few minutes (I had to price the almond butter, a very costly alternative to peanut butter, which I like as a flavour but not as a spread). Going to meet him at the checkstand, I take shortcut through the cosmetics aisle, where I notice some lip-liner pencils with a Frenchified name.

They were 99 cents. And one was my ideal colour--identical to the pencil that costs $21.50. So I grabbed it.

Then I spotted all the nail varnish by the same company. There was a pink one--not absolutely perfect, but not far off. It was $1.99.

Admittedly, I have a long, long way to go before I can call myself thrifty. In that instance, I felt I was being sensible and open-minded.

The lip-liner and the nail varnish are beyond satisfactory, I'm pleased to report. I wore both to church this morning.

We had an outstanding visiting priest, who gave us a splendid sermon. Afterwards, my man headed north to the lake, and dangerously, I headed east for the retail hell surrounding the shopping mall. I needed a birthday card and a gift for someone.

As usually happens, I ended up buying a little something for myself. A very little something. A pink keychain digicam. I've got more cameras than sense--a couple of digitals with good lenses and great zoom capacity, SLR's, a rangefinder, you name it. But having a teeny digicam dangling from my keychain was irresistable, especially at the knockdown price of $7.97, and an extra 10% off with promotional coupon.

I know, you get what you pay for. Still, it's cute and pink (matches my toenails!), light (runs on one battery), and it works (at least for now).

Here's what it can do:

The wall in front of my computer. There's a window a bit to the left, as I face the wall, but it isn't letting in much light at this time of day.

wall in front of my desk

If I glance to the left, I see bookcases along the wall.

And here's an attempt at self-photography. It seems to focus marginally better at close range. And with light.

I didn't tweak the images above at all, except to reduce the dpi for web viewing.

When I tried taking pictures of Ruth and Lola, I discovered that they move around too much for this particular camera. But my fig tree on the porch is still and steady as can be, so it turned out almost okay. I did tweak the pic below, sharpened it a bit.

my fig tree

"You're nuts," is what the Chap will say tonight, when he returns from the Cottage on the Big Lake. Just like he used to say about the $21.50 lip-liner pencil.

But I had a really good reason--besides it being fun and cheap--for getting the teeny, tiny digicam. One that I mustn't reveal.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


An article of mine appeared on the opnion section of today's newspaper. It turned out awfully well, considering how quickly I wrote and submitted it!

There might be a nifty magazine assignment in my future...for a gorgeous glossy nationally distributed lifestyle magazine I absolutely adore. Or so says the editor, who proposed it a few days ago.

I never let myself believe in these things till they actually happen.


My hair was very bad. Emphasis on was. Went to the hairdresser yesterday, resulting in a vastly improved appearance. July was a month of seclusion on the Big Lake or the Little Lake. The dogs and the Chap love me even when my hair is, shall we say, yucky. But August is a busier month, and campaign season is on the horizon, and well…it was time. Maybe past time.

I don’t count the cost when it comes to the hair—although on the average day (or even the special day) the hair probably doesn’t much look like it.

The more interesting part of my excursion was going to the weekly local Farmers’ Market in the square. The lady from the German bakery was there.

Also bad: I bought a soft pretzel to make up for not eating lunch, and a raspberry cream cheese breakfast kuchen for the Chap and me to share. But to compensate for my badness, I also got some awesomely, exquisitely beautiful organic green beans.


At the Lodge, a scene of carnage awaited my return. Wally, our condo-building chipmunk who lives near the front door, was seated on the doorstep eating something.

Something that used to be alive.

Something that used to be a toad.

I never would've imagined that sweet Wally, who eats seeds from my hand, who raised four babies, who's part of our family, is a carnivorous monster..

She was gnawing on the toad's head, eating the brains out. It was fascinating and disgusting at the same time. And a reminder that Nature isn't always pretty.

We freaked out, wondering if the chipmunks were going to turn on us all and start eating our flesh. I was about to telephone Masako, a naturalist at the state university, to report this bizarre incident. But first I grabbed her book about New England wildlife off the shelf. And there it was, in plain print. In addition to seeds and nuts and the usual stuff, chipmunks also eat insects, and "small amphibians and reptiles."

None of ours had ever actually done this right in front of our eyes. And I can understand why they've kept it secret.

Here's Wally, digesting the toad.

This morning the headless, legless trunk lies forlornly on the top step where she abandoned it. I'll have to give it a decent burial.

Today I've filled the seed dish (which I'd neglected to do for a couple of days), in hopes of saving the rest of the toads out there in the world.


Busy afternoon ahead--driving into the city with the Chap for all sorts of activities and appointments. We'll finish up with dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Fauna and Flora

I love the red-spotted newt. It might be my favourite amphibian.

We're quite excited today, having sighted female and/or juvenile evening grosbeaks flying around the treetops and in the shrubs near the house. They used to be regulars at our bird feeders, breeding nearby, but for two or three years we've scarcely spotted them. They are greatly missed. I've put out the feeders they used to like best, well stocked with food.

And we noticed a new robin's nest in the beech tree in front of the house. The grosbeaks and the bluejays like it, because it's so tall and it has green beechnuts. Having so many visitors makes the robins crazy. As we ate breakfast on the deck, we saw the female fly up out of the nest to chase away the intruders.

Rose of the Day

Rosa canina, the "dog rose,". An ancient species of rose, growing wild in Britain and Europe--it's common in English hedgerows. The flowers are pale or blush pink, sweetly scented, and form nice hips that can be used to make a medicinal syrup or wine.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

History and Geography

At the weekend we attended a local historical society meeting, held at a well-known farmstead high on a hill. In fact, it seems to have been the original farm in the town, and naturally has a fascinating history. In the mid-1700's, the farmer's wife was abducted by Indians and taken into Canada and held for ransom. Eventually she was returned to her family. In truth, she found captivity more to her liking than living with her rough spouse, and would have stayed in the North if she hadn't had children who needed her.

The lecturer told us about the various owners and shared his own boyhood memories of helping out with the haying on the place and swinging on the swing (still there!) in the big old barn. Afterwards, we enjoyed an ice cream social and had the chance to wander about.

There were two turkeys in an overgrown field. (One was camera shy!)

I realised, gazing at the distant hills and mountains from our high vantage point, that one was extremely familiar--our Cottage on the Big Lake faces it.

It was like recognising a beloved friend from across the room, only in this instance, we were some twenty miles apart.

At the Big Lake, we've got mountains in the front yard. At the Lodge on the Little Lake, we have a mountain in our backyard. Actually, part of of back yard is the mountain. We own a chunk of it, up to the top.

In the garden, my favourite poppy is in bloom.

And on the deck, so is my banana shrub.

Later today I'm headed to a city. I think I'll be spending a little bit of money, some of it on books, some on clothes, some on dog toys. Last week a nice check arrived for foreign sales. The bulk of it goes into the bank but I'm skimming a little bit off the top for necessities!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Blog Birthday

Today this Blog has been in existence for an entire year.

I can still remember what a reluctant blogger I was. A couple of months before becoming one, I was sitting in a London restaurant with my Chap and a couple of writer chums, saying blithely, "Oh, I don't think I'd like doing it. I can't imagine it."

Good thing I never say never.

A year ago today, I was at the Cottage on the Big Lake and for some reason I took the leap while there.

I had no idea what was in store. I suppose I thought I'd write more about the writing process (and I always tell myself I will) or what I'm reading or listening to. At the outset I didn't plan to post the image of a pornographic cuke (surely you noticed) or so many pictures of my dogs and my flowers. Somehow it happened.

Mostly I seem to use the blog as a journal of activities and events. I don't go in much for the sort of rants against life and/or publishing, and insights about the biz or the process that entertain me on other blogs. Nor do I often air my opinions of the greater world, or expose my biting wit. (Because a newspaper actually pays me to do it? Because of my proclivity for verbal expression of same? Hard to say.)

Perhaps Year 2 will be different. Perhaps not.

As I mark this milestone, I glanced backwards over the year for highlights. I found both of them in the month of October.

Even though my spouse is neither pictured nor named on the blog, he's the most important component in the life reflected here. So in his honour, my tribute to our marriage.

And here's one of my favourite pictures. Shadow and me, after the Blessing of the Animals service conducted in the park beside our church.

It represents all the happy times we shared during Shadow's wonderful life. I miss her cheerful, bouncy presence and her devoted companionship--not in a heartbroken but in a grateful way. I adored her from the moment we met. She adored us and Lola. She was so fortunate to have lived so long and so well.

Not to mention that countless blog posts were written with her stretched out at my feet, either sweetly sleeping or patiently waiting for me to finish so we could romp together.

I'm a creature of habit, and blogging on a regular basis is now a firmly ingrained one.

You've been warned....

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Cucumber Harvest

Our joyful return to the Lodge from the Cottage and our happy reunion with the Chap and Lola was celebrated with the harvesting (and eating) of the Giant Cucumber.

I was delighted to find another of my deliciously scented vintage sweet peas blooming--Painted Lady. She's a bi-colour, dating from the 1730's.

Rose of the Day

C├ęcile Brunner, Sweetheart Rose, Mignon Rose, Maltese Rose. A polyantha rose, with China rose in its pedigree. It has a unique scent.

I've loved this rose all my life. The climbing version grew up the brick wall of my bedroom. In summer, with the windows open, I could see and smell it from the window next to my bed.

It's too tender for New England's climate, so I've planted it in a tub on the big deck. When it goes dormant, I will try and overwinter it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Scenes from the Dock

Narrated by Ruth.

In the morning we walked to the Point and back, our longest walk yet, and swam at the beach. We spent the rest of the day on our dock. I went swimming off the rocks. (I prefer the sandy beach, easier on my little feet.)

That scary storm blew somebody's green chair off their dock. It drifted down the Bay to our dock.

It's waiting for the owners to retrieve it, if they pass by in their boat.

The floatplane was landing and taking off in front of the dock, flying down the Bay. It's kind of loud but fun to watch.

I'm the best guard dog on the Bay. No way are those pesky ducks getting past me!

Hey, isn't it time for supper?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Day after the Tempest

Yesterday brought a breeze--not a cool one, but at least the air was moving.

It was dreadfully hot again...it's no comfort knowing my other home, the UK, has suffered similarly.

Ruth and I had our walk and beach swim later than usual, not till 2 p.m. I was busy at the desktop, revising my chapter revision. She slept the entire morning--probably too hot to do much else.

When we returned, I picked the ripe blueberries down by the waterside--a substantial harvest. The water temperature was a whopping 82 degrees.

Late in the afternoon, the promised rainstorm arrived--rather, the tempest. The winds rose, the sky darkened, and the temperature dropped drastically, from 90-something to low 70's. I got all the primary windows closed in a hurry, adding to Ruth's thunder freak-out by my rushing all around shutting doors and unplugging appliances.

Rain fell in torrents, mixed with hailstones--some of them about 1 inch diameter, as best I could tell. The little wooden rowboat on the dock was blown over, and I feared the historic flagpole would snap.

I sat with the pup on her bed and cuddled while we waited out the storm.

Miraculously, the power stayed on.

Then, fairly soon, the clouds parted and the sun shone.

And I made some banana-blueberry crepes for supper. De-lish!

The air this morning is gloriously cool. The birdies--who had been mostly silent during the heat wave--started their chorus around 6:00. I counted nine different and distinct calls (including the loon's). Not sure how many species that represents, because some can sing more than one tune.

I think it's going to be a good work day. Now that it's only 70-something degrees, I get back the half of my brain that was so much occupied with feeling hot and uncomfortable! And the clear blue sky is ever so much more inspiring than that burry heat haze that was obscuring my mountains all this week.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Two Months

Ruth on the dock

Ruth has been a member of our family for exactly two months.

We celebrated with the usual morning walk and swim.

shaking off after a swim at the beach

It was so insanely hot that I went back into the lake to cool down as soon as we got home. I successfully avoided all radio or television weather reports...I just didn't want to know the temperature. (Or the latest horrible headlines from Israel, Lebanon, and Iraq.) But eventually I caved, and watched a local forecast to learn what's in store for the rest of the week. That's how I found out that the official Lakes Region reporting center on the other side of the lake hit 96 degrees.

My brain didn't seem too scrambled by the heat...it functioned well enough to complete a crucial chapter, now printed out and ready for some late-night editing. All day I didn't want anything to do with food. Ruth slept at my feet, stunned into immobility. Occasionally I grazed on dried fruit and drank lots of liquids. I finally braved the kitchen to make pesto rotini, and ate it cold for supper.

The sun was blazing on our west-facing dock into the evening hours--Ruth and I didn't go down there until eight o'clock. We had a sunset swim to cool off. (After dinner--and no, Mom, I didn't wait twenty minutes before going into the water.) The little dog was hot that I was able to coax her down the rocks and into the water so she could paddle around with me--a first! She much prefers the sandy bottom on the private beach.

tonight's sunset

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sweltering Sunday

Last night, there was a dinner dance cruise on the big white boat that passes up and down our bay. Every Saturday about 9 p.m. it comes by and turns around right in our "front yard." My camera isn't so great with the night shots, but I took one anyway, after it made that broad turn.

This morning we went for a swim at the private beach.

Then planted bright red impatiens in the window boxes.

Ruth and I spent a quiet afternoon. I polished off the the 2-volume fictional bio of Elizabeth, Duchess of Somerset. Although it covers much of the same period as my novel-in-progress, it's quite different in tone and focus. None of the primary (or secondary) people in my book got a mention. The William and Mary years, so crucial to my story, were skipped over entirely. The second half of the second volume took place at Queen Anne's Court.

I also finished a week-old Sunday Times from London.

While I was reading, my wee dog napped.

Intense heat forced me to wear that white cotton thing I mentioned yesterday, which I've had since my high school days.

Right now there's a nice breeze starting up. We're heading to our dock--time for a cooling swim and a refreshing cold cider. Looks like we'll have a splendid sunset...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Heat Wave

Yesterday was a scorcher, and unfortunately we've got several more on the way. The 90+ degree temperatures sent Ruthie and me fleeing back here to the cottage on the Big Lake. Lola and the Chap are keeping each other company at the Lodge.

The drive up here was interspersed with the usual errands--post office, garden center/fruit stand. When we reached the little private beach where we've taken the dogs swimming, I pulled the car over and stopped. Ruth and I both got out and had a quick dip to cool off--we couldn't even wait to get to our own dock!

After bringing in all the food and writing tools (my laptop and Dana) and flowers from my garden (sweetpeas, lavender, Queen Anne's lace, roses), we headed down to the water. The lake temperature was up to 78 degrees, at least five degrees higher than when we departed on Wednesday.

I jumped right in, wearing a 2-piece swimming suit that I've had since--I think--before I was married. It's a cute cotton plaid, with a top that can be worn well with shorts, so I kept it on the rest of the day.

While we sat under the dock umbrella, we saw a sea monster.

Nessie the sea monster

Nessie turned out to be a log floating past, perhaps a loose piece of somebody's crib-type dock. The damage to docks this spring and summer resulted in lots of flotsam and jetsam. Or else it was just driftwood.

The sun was blazing, but at one point some heavy clouds came over. Didn't cool things off, but it did cut down on the glare.

awesome cloud over the sun

Ruth says, "I'm a hot dog today!" If she has a pinkish tinge, it's not sunburn--one of our dock umbrellas is bright red and casts a glow.


Once indoors, I changed into an even older garment, a loose white India cotton thing that is supposedly a swimsuit cover up. It's a bit well-worn (so much so that I'd taken it out of rotation for many years, as my spouse reminded me when he caught me packing it.) But it's the only thing I want when it's this hot.

It brings back memories of sweltering summer days at the Sea Island beach house with my grandparents and cousins. Sitting in my room on lazy afternoons, flushed from the sun and slightly stunned from being knocked about by the waves. With a window air-conditioner blasting as I read a historical novel, any historical novel. Knowing that for supper I'd be eating freshly caught crab and shrimp--so much that I wouldn't want anything for dessert.

the beautiful beach on Sea Island

In other words, wearing it makes me a teenager again.

And then, of course, I chart the long and unexpected journeys of this life...

...from that sun-washed barrier island on the Georgia coast, to a bustling metropolitan area, to London and Oxford and York, to a sprawling and music-obsessed US university town, to a Rocky Mountain State, to countries all over the globe with the man I love...

...and eventually we came to live beside these beloved New England lakes, so clear and cool and refreshing in a heat wave.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bits & Bobs

Here's the raspberry meringue pie I baked as soon as we returned to the Lodge yesterday.

I've been baking all morning, also--two batches of cookies (apricot, chocolate oatmeal) for my meeting tonight. I volunteered for the snacks assignment.

In this morning's newspaper, I found an intriguing listing under "Lost & Found." (This being the same paper where the employment ad for a Bat Trapper appeared.)

FOUND: Cow (brown and white) on Garvin Road (end of road).

There was a telephone number.

I love living in a place where, in the daily newspaper of the second or third largest city (the state capital, in fact,) a center of political and administrative activity, with a burgeoning and increasingly sophisticated cultural scene, and a brand-new Starbucks, you can find an ad for a brown and white cow found wandering down a road in the city limits.

I have no doubt the cow will make it safely home again.

Just the other day, my neighbour at the lake was telling me a similar story--a first hand account, it actually happened to her. She and her husband found a little pig wandering loose on their property. (There aren't any farms on the lake, or nearby.) They called the town animal control officer, and the SPCA hoping it had been reported, to no avail. After a few days, hearing of no owner, they gave it away to a kid who needed it for 4-H. Only then did a man come driving around, asking people if they'd seen a little pig. His little girl had won it in the pig-catching contest at a local fair, and it got out of the car. (Everyone suspects the parents were relieved by the outcome. If they were town people, they might have expected to bring home stuffed toys or cotton candy or maybe a balloon from the fair--not a live piglet!)

In news from much farther away, I heard that roof slates from Lyme Hall in Cheshire are to be sold as souvenirs to help fund restoration of the property. You wouldn't think they'd get much dosh for them--execpt that this was the Pemberley in the BBC's 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice.

That would be the one with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.

Rose of the Day

Shailer's Provence, Gracilis. Described by one authority (whom I trust) as a Boursault rose, named after a French amateur horticulturalist. It took me years to find this out.

I got mine from my mother who got it from--I don't even know. She sent me a 2-branched rooted cutting years ago. While I was planting it, one branch broke off. So I stuck each one in the ground. Both of them took, and now I've got a beautiful cluster of lovely tall bushes--very tall--that bloom profusely in June and July.

It's a type not well known, but it has great merit. "The Boursault roses are very distinct from all other. The shoots are long, flexible, very smooth, in some instances entirely free from thorns...." "They are well adapted for covering arbours, or concealing outbuildings, walls or other disagreeable objects."

Shailer was an English nurseryman who sold my version from 1796 onwards. It might have existed earlier, as Gracilis, but he stuck his name on it.

She's the queen of my garden and I love her dearly.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Parting Shots

Down on the dock last evening, we watched storm clouds hovering over the mountain. Fortunately, they stayed on that side of the lake!

On our side, we basked in sunshine and swam in flat, calm, clear waters. We could see every rock on the bottom of the lake, and every grain of sand. No wind, no chop, no wake--because there were hardly any boats.

Two flocks of ducks passed by, I believe each group had 6 members. The dogs watched them with great interest.

This morning is quiet and peaceful and cool.

We've definitely been living the On Golden Pond life here. There are so many similarities between our lakeside home and habits and scenery and that movie. (We, however, are far, far younger than the couple portrayed by Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda!)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the film's release. As we sipped our morning coffee (him) and tea (me), we listened to a local radio program about the filming of the movie. In between anecdotes and analysis, portions of the soundtrack played. At one point I heard a loon's cry. This happens frequently in the film (we watched it just last week, so my memory is quite fresh.)

Except that loon sound wasn't coming from our radio speakers.

I glanced out towards the water, and there, at the end of our dock, was the loon.

We went down to visit him.

I suppose he turned up to say good-bye.

We're moving back to the Lodge today. The Chap has a meeting tonight, and I've got one tomorrow. I plan to return straightaway, and stay for a good long while. Ruth will probably accompany me, as she did the last time I was here on my own.

I must correct something I reported a couple of days ago. The Chap's sister declares that she does not consume ice cream each night, as the men of the family do. She eats it rarely, and mostly when her raspberries are bearing--like right now.

Speaking of raspberries, we're eating them at every meal. And as an evening snack, with or without ice cream!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


The canines didn't wake the humans for the breakfast feeding until 8 a.m.--that's the latest since Ruth came to live with us.

It was a morning of grey skies and thunder and blowing wind. Soon a blasting thunderstorm had us dashing round the cottage closing windows to keep the rain out. Then it subsided. Then it started up again.

During a break in the rain, I decided to hasten up to the ridge to pick berries. So I did.

The berry farm had been closed since Friday, for ripening.

I had the place to myself, apart from an older couple gathering raspberries for jelly. The working conditions were very pleasant--not hot, no bugs. Once or twice the sun peeked through the clouds. Once or twice I heard thunder rumbling over the mountain--an incentive to pick faster!

The berries were heavy and ripe, screaming to be picked.

They were practically leaping into my punnet, so it didn't take me very long to fill four of them.

On my way home, I paused to watch the storms breaking over the mountains.

This is practically the same shot from yesterday, in precisely the same location.

My Chap was just sitting down to lunch when I returned. We sampled the berries immediately and pronounced them utterly delicious!

Monday, July 10, 2006


Yesterday, between the Federer victory at Wimbledon and the Italy victory in the World Cup, we sandwiched in a walk down to the little beach with the girls. Ruth exhibited her swimming prowess for all of us, and Lola enjoyed getting wet. We all walked part of the way home together, but the Chap veered off down a side lane, to attend the annual Road Association meeting. (Always held the Sunday after July Fourth.)

Here's what the girls did after their morning swim...

Swimming wears us out!

In the mid- afternoon, the big boat passed us by for the second and final Sunday cruise.

heading up the Bay

Later we all went down to the dock, so the humans could have their swim.

I'm in the lake--someone else is holding the camera

I almost never eat ice cream--I sometimes go nearly a year without having any. It's always available, since my Chap has a bowl every damn night, like his grandfather and father before him, and all his siblings. Not a habit of mine (she said virtuously).

And yet--the nieces and nephew left us with these adorable tiny ice cream cones.

Eat Me!

So if it's cute enough, I will actually consume food I normally avoid. Or maybe all the walking and swimming gave me an appetite for a wee serving of mint chocolate chip.

This morning we woke to a quiet lake--all the weekenders had returned to their regular lives. The village was quiet as I passed through on my way to the Lodge, to water the plants and gather some flowers and pick up the recent newspapers. An inter-library loan book was waiting for me in town. I stopped at the bank for some cash. Dropped by the Post Office to collect a big batch of accumulated mail to bring up to the cottage.

Due to floods and late planting, the corn field near the Lodge doesn't look at all like it should in the second week of July. But the recent spell of hot, dry weather has allowed one of my friends to cut his hay, which is consumed by his neighbour's horse. Lots of other fields want mowing--soon!

On the way back, I passed a sign for our favourite raspberry farm, announcing that picking had begun. It was a gorgeous morning, so I made an unplanned detour and drove all the way to the top of the ridge to get some fruit. Of course, the place is "Closed Mondays". But I got a reward anyway, a grand view of the distant mountains!

westward view from the ridge top

Coming down the hill I spotted a handpainted marker in front of one house: 4 Sale--Bunnies and Finches. What sort of finches, I wonder? At the Lodge our feeders are crowded with the wild ones: goldfinches, purple finches, grosbeaks.

At the new supermarket near the roundabout, I picked up some shrimp for tomorrow's supper. On reaching the cottage, I arranged my roses and other flowers.

fresh from the Lodge gardens to the Cottage vases

I've got loads of magazines and newspapers, not to mention a batch of books--the one from the library, and a 2-volume biographical novel about the 17th century Duchess of Somerset, "Countess Carrots" which I'd ordered online just before coming to the Big Lake. Our weatherman predicts thunderstorms later today, and some rain tomorrow, and spending time indoors will enable me to get through the stacks of reading material.

And do some writing!