"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

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Monday Meanderings

At the Shepherd Tavern, on Sunday night.

Draught Cider by: Strongbow
Face by: Lancome.
Lips by: M.A.C.
Hair by: London Underground's very windy subterranean tunnels

On Monday I woke (with a perfectly clear head, I might add) and strolled with the Chap through the drizzle to the British Library. He wanted to see the London Maps exhibit, and I had a few reserved items to examine. Emerging three hours later, I discovered the sun was out and the sky blue. Rejoined my man back at the hotel, and we headed out for our excursion to Westminster.

Not just the Borough Of. I mean, The Abbey itself.

In Parliament Square, I took this nice shot of Big Ben. A security detail stopped traffic for Somebody Important as they departed the Houses and Parliament and drove across Westminster Bridge.

Approaching the Abbey.

This was another of my pilgrimages. The duke in my novel is buried here, as is his royal father and bastard brothers and kingly and queenly cousins, and his supremely noble father-in-law. His Grace's remains were deposited under the floor somewhere "behind the old Duke and Duchess of Newcastle's monument". Unfortunately, from my point of view, the family of Lord and Lady Montrath decided that exact spot would be a splendid place to erect a vast monument to their forbears. As a result, the ducal slab is entirely covered. I inserted my foot in a tiny space between the Montrath and Newcastle sarcophagi, my way of saying "I'm here, how are you down there?"

We dutifully examined the Coronation Chair and breezed through Poets' Corner, visited Queen Elizabeth I's monument, and so on. It is a magnificent place--as with Windsor Castle, I hadn't been inside since my student days.

In the same chapel where Mary, Queen of Scots was buried (yes, we quoted Monty Python), I found monarchs far more important to me personally, as they feature in the novel: Charles II, William III and Mary II, and Queen Anne. We also visited the museum to see their hansomely robed wax effigies, which are as fascinating and weird as I remembered. Even more fascinating to me now that I've been writing about them all.

We paused at Downing Street--we were forced to, because the security gate was opening and more Very Important People were being driven out in quite a nice Jaguar. (No, not Tony Blair.) Farther along Whitehall we stopped to watch an end-of-day ceremony by the Horse Guards on duty. Did people know we were in the neighbourhood, were they putting on the show for our benefit?

Next stop was the Banqueting House, the last remnant of Whitehall Palace which was consumed by a conflagration in 1698 and was never rebuilt. It's also the site of Charles I's execution. Here I am, sizing up the throne. Just right for me!

Taking the Tube from Westminster, we traversed St. James's and Green Park from underground, surfacing at Green Park Station. Back at Shepherd's Market, we popped into Ye Grapes, my other favourite pub, which I first entered over twenty years ago. Despite many an update to the decor, the same stuffed game birds and animal heads and old dead fish still adorn the walls.

Like this one. I always liked it the best.

After the requisite pint for each of us, we wandered a few blocks to El Pirata, our much-loved tapas restaurant, which provided the usual excellent meal. Down Street was lined with police vans, overflowing with officers.

When we returned to the hotel and switched on the news, we heard that "an office in Down Street" was being examined for polonium contamination. The ex-Russian spy died a few days ago...since then an increasing number of locations are being swept by the police and various detection units. We just happened to be dining only a few doors from one of those locations--which popped up on the television screen.

As far as we're aware, poor poisoned Alexander Litvinenko preferred sushi to tapas. We certainly hope so....

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday Sights

Sunday was a day for culture-cramming and sundry wanderings.

We visited the National Gallery for the Velasquez exhibition--masterpieces from all periods of his career, visiting from the Prado. There was also a Cezanne in England special exhibit--many of the artist's works culled from collections across the land. And naturally we re-visited and re-gazed upon the paintings we love best. A quick bite at Pret a Manger across the road before popping into the National Portrait Gallery, where the Chap saw the Hockney exhibit and I revisited old friends from the 17th and 18th centuries, and special ordered prints of characters who feature in my novel.

We enjoyed a pleasant stroll through St. James's Park, admiring the waterfowl and the views from the bridge, from which location this picture was shoot.

Looking the other way, towards Buckingham Palace. The light was creating amazing effects!

We traversed the festively adorned Piccadilly Arcade, on our way to Fortnum's and Hatchards, where I made purchases--filling their coffers most lavishly.

Even though I've been having a holiday from matters political, politics does sometimes obtrude, even in so posh a district as St. James's:

We ended up in our old neighbourhood. After a much-needed pint at my favourite Shepherd's Market pub (formerly our local) we dined at our fave French restaurant. Magnifique!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


No, I wasn't the Thanksgiving sort of pilgrim, more the "visiting a sacred shrine" sort.

Yesterday I paid homage to the main characters in my novels, who lived at Windsor--in close proximity to the monarch.

On arrival we were greeted by this regal moggie.

Not yet ready for my close-up. It was a breezy day.

After wandering some very grand corridors and chambers that would have been familiar to my duke and duchess, I visited the chapel in which she is interred. Then, after some initial difficulties, I successfully located the stall plate in the ancient choir with the duke's arms emblazoned upon it. It has been there since his installation as a Knight of the Garter. And the chapel steward very kindly unclipped the velvet rope and let me ascend to the actual spot, to view it close up.

It was an exciting and emotional afternoon. At times I became misty-eyed. When at last I emerged from the chapel, I was all smiles.

The next stop was the location of the mansion in which the couple lived. The building no longer exists, it was sold to King George III in the 18th century, and he converted to various uses. The Queen now stables her horses on the site, which is also the location of an education centre.

In future I'll be sharing much more of this journey.

Very early this morning my Chap departed for Dublin, where he had a meeting today. I returned to the library. Conveniently, there's a timely and newly-opened (as in yesterday) exhibition of London maps through the ages, enabling me to gaze upon and take notes from the giant Morgan map of 1682. Fantastic!

The intrepid traveller is due back in good time for dinner. But I'm off to keep company with a pint of cider as I await his return.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Day

There's so much for which I'm thankful today. One of those things is sunshine.

The Chap managed to eat turkey today--a turkey sandwich at lunchtime.

I spent my day inside this building.

All day my nose was buried in books three centuries old and didn't emerge till dinnertime. I had a list of places where one could partake of a "Thanksgiving Menu".

However, we decided we could be content to follow the local custom. Behold, our festive Thanksgiving meal: Bindi Bahji, Lamb Tikka Masala, and Chicken Makhni.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Rooms with a View

We assumed--wrongly, as it turned out--that I might require a post-election pick-me-up around Thanksgiving. I was victorious, so we altered our plan by referring to it as a "celebration" rather than a "consolation."

Here's view #1.

And view #2.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What season is this?

Lest anybody assume I was exaggerating the past week's unseasonally warm temperatures, I submit this photo as proof:

Yes, it's a flowering forsythia. On November 21. Sometimes this sort of thing happens to forsythia during confusing out-of-season weather. Our current cold snap will shortly put my giant, overgrown shrub to sleep. (And the roses, some of which are nicely budded.) A little while ago when I checked the thermometer, it was 32 degrees cold.

We've got a semblance of springtime indoors as well--my beloved white azalea.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Me on TV

Not all of me. Just my name.

Last night, while reviewing some accumulated television programs on videotape, we belatedly discovered that the VCR had been rolling during local election coverage. I froze the frame to stop the lower screen crawl at just the right moment, pointed my digicam at the telly for this immortal shot:

I've been popping up on television almost all my life. But never like this!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Capitol Capers

A bright Saturday morning for driving into the city for our party Caucus Day.

On leaving the Legislative parking lot, I snapped this picture of Eagle Square. For a couple of years the Chap worked at an office in one of the taller buildings.

Conditions were excellent for capturing our State House. That's Daniel Webster's statue in front.

I've downsized the above image to a tiny icon, which I will try to remember to use for my State House related blogging. Watch for it! I plan to isolate political reportage, so it can easily be skipped. I'm not even sure how much of that sort of blogging I'll do. At the moment, everything about this gig seems new and fun and exciting. But all too soon we'll tackle the hard work the people sent us to do--and it could make for some awfully dull reading.

In the afternoon I went to the historical museum (I pass right by on my way to our parking lot) to view the current exhibit on White Mountain artists of the 19th century. Most of the painters who immortalised our peaks and valleys did so in autumn--lovely works, and yet there's a certain sameness to the colour schemes. Probably for that reason, I especially liked this one of Mount LaFayette in the wintertime.

From the exhibition hall there's a very steep metal stair up to a simulated fire tower, from which one has a view of the tops of buildings, and the ridges around the city. And the gold dome of the Capitol.

I shopped in the gift shop before returning to the Lodge, where Ruth and Lola greeted me with great joy.

Today marked my first "official" act as a Representative, even though I'm not yet sworn in.

Coffee and muffins were served in the anteroom. The session began at 10. After the moderator called us to order, the Governor stepped in to greet us (as he did on Wednesday.) He'd participated in a Christmas parade earlier in the morning, which explains the cheery red attire. The party chairman is introducing him--as if she needed to!

The vast number of his fellow party members assembled in Representatives Hall explains the huge, happy smile.

There was an amendment to one of the rules, which slowed things down a bit, but eventually it was tabled. Our primary task was choosing our candidate for Speaker of the House (secret ballot), Clerk of the House (uncontested), and Sergeant-at-Arms (secret ballot). Here's my take on the results: Chicks Rule! Each position will be filled by a female.

Standing ovations happen a lot. Up and down, up and down. But when you're sitting in a chair for 4+ hours, any kind of exercise is good, so I didn't mind.

The chairs in the chamber are perfectly comfortable, upholstered in leather. I like the seat pitch, and the amount of leg room.

It's a very attractive space in which to conduct business, or spend a major portion of the day. Behind the well are enormous portraits of political luminaries: John P. Hale (ardent abolitionist and U.S. Senator from this state), Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Pierce (our one and only native U.S. President), Daniel Webster.

The chamber was renovated in the Summer of 2004. It has what I would call a barrel-vaulted ceiling, nicely painted. It's well-lit, and the shades can be moved to let in the natural light. A window was opened slightly to let in cool fresh air. I'm guessing it can get a bit toasty at times. The acoustics are good.

Anyone who wants to see what the place looks like should check out Ron's pictures. The second image on that page is a terrific view taken from the gallery above.

Turns out I won't be co-sponsoring a bill after all. A similar bill was presented a couple of years ago (and failed.) The originator of the new bill wants to buddy up with the sponsor of the previous one.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Only One?

There's some concern here at the Lodge about China's recently announced one-dog policy.

Ruth and Lola ponder this development. What if it happened here?

Ruth: Pick me! I'm really cute and extremely well educated. I don't take up much space. And I eat a lot less than she does.

Lola: Get over yourself! I'm beautiful and graceful and a superior guard dog. I'm 14 years young, and I've lived here a dozen years.

I told them not to worry.

Just received an email from a British Library staffer addressed "Dear Colleague," containing exactly the news I hoped for. My anxiety is eased. I am content. My love for the BL knows no bounds.

Something I forgot to mention: on Wednesday, I agreed to co-sponsor a House bill.

Yesterday I was contacted by a newspaper reporter and gave quote on the race for House Speaker. A breaking development probably made my comments irrelevent, because today's edition is an MEP-free zone.

Last night was so hot and muggy and humid and rainy, it felt like summer. Big, big change coming....later today.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Babe & A Saint

All right, I'll confess. Walking across the State House plaza yesterday for the first time as Representative (elect), made me a bit emotional. It was awe-some in the true, not the trivial, sense of the word. Soon as I went inside, I was all business, wandering from office to office, dropping off paperwork, being greeted warmly by everyone. Our incumbent was there to lead me around.

Before the forum began in Representatives Hall, the Governor came in to greet us all. He seemed especially glad to see all the newcomers. All the leadership were in a good mood--and still gobsmacked by the enormity of the party's victory on Tuesday last.

For two hours we listened to the candidates for Speaker of the House. During that time, I learned a lot about the way the House goes about its work. For me, it was like a pre-orientation.

I saw some people I knew. And a lot more people I don't yet know.

Afterwards, when I reached to the legislators' parking garage, I ran into a cluster of people milling about and chatting. One of them was our district's incumbent. A stranger stuck out his hand, shook mine firmly, greeted me with enthusiasm.

"How did you know my name?" I wondered.

"Oh, I was just asking the representative here, 'Who's the babe?'"

That wasn't the only thing he said that made me laugh.

I then drove off to Favourite Skirt Store 1 (not the real name), where I bought a skirt, and another fave store, where I bought a dressy blouse. At both places, I studied "professional girl" suits--jacket and skirt combos. Not exactly my style. I have plenty of appropriate clothes that do suit my style, so I don't really need to buy anything.

The weather is too bizarre. It was 55 degrees when I left the city at 7 p.m. last night. Trust me, that's not typical November weather. It has been damp and/or grey and/or rainy for days on end...I feel like I'm already back in Blighty. Today and tomorrow more rain is coming, enough of it for floood watches.

Today happens to be my Saint's Day. I've always had an affinity for St. Margaret of Scotland. She's the lesser Patron Saint of Scotland (home of many of my ancestors.) She was the niece of a Saint, and the mother of one. A queen, a parent, a doer of Good Deeds for the impoverished--quite the multi-tasker, I'd say!

Dear Saint Margaret, I need your help.

The British Library is an amazing place, with a helpful staff and state of the art facilities. (Although part of me will forever miss the Reading Room at the former British Museum site.) Over the years, in my dealings with that august and most wonderful institution, I've got accustomed to its, erm, officiousness. I understand it. I expect it. And I'll endure anything to maintain my access to their collection.

Yet again, they're making me a little bit anxious. More than a little bit. Which is why I implore Margaret of Scotland, a patron saint of learning, to smooth my path. And help me keep my cool.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Scenes from the Lodge

An ecclesiastical picture: a monk and a cardinal.

Ruth to Lola: "Need help licking yourself?"

Whispering a secret in Lola's ear.

Went to the city yesterday for a diocesan committee meeting--my favourite committee. Good fun, good fun, a rewarding responsibility.

Because the Chap had been delegated by his co-workers to attend a public forum on education funding, I teased him that he'd "beat me to the State House." Although technically, he was in the Legislative Office Building. Knowing he'd parked near the diocesan offices, I suggested he stop in before heading back to his place of work. We had a brief encounter in the mailroom.

Are we turning into a governmental Power Couple, or what?

Official mail has been flowing in. The paperwork connected with being a legislator isn't complicated, but there are plenty of forms to fill in. I'm supposed to make 3 choices for my committee assignment preferences, I'm asked to pick out a seat in Representatives Hall, I must send in a bio and a photo for a publication, I had to decide what type of mileage reimbursement I want and whether to take advantage of direct deposit to my bank account. Plus other stuff.

I'm heading to the House later today--there's a forum for meeting/hearing candidates for Speaker. (The actual vote will be held on Saturday.) It's my chance to play Goldilocks, and try out some of the hundreds of seats in Representatives Hall. Too much choice is never a good thing for me. I sort of wish they'd simply pre-assigned the seat!

The Lodge occupants will require a different type of household calendar for 2007--one with really big blocks to accommodate our many commitments. I might begin the search this afternoon.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I'm enjoying a peaceful and quiet Monday after a most hectic weekend.

All of Saturday was devoted to the diocesan convention--a business meeting inside a wrap-around Eucharist. A surprising number of people were aware of my election result, even before the Bishop unexpectedly made an annoucement to the entire convention. (And asked me to stand up in front of the 300+ people assembled there.)

When I think back to how few attendees I knew at convention in the first years I was a delegate, I marvel at the change. My integration into the wider diocesan family is greater than I ever imagined. It was a lovely day, discussions were respectful and productive. And we got out early!

No green spinach wraps after all. Bringing home some takeaway for supper--Spicy Singapore Noodles--helped me over the disappointment.

Yesterday our small parish celebrated the 6-year ministry of our Rector as he departs to serve a much larger congregation. The outpouring of affection was so moving. It was a very large crowd at the service and for the reception afterwards. (We had plenty of food, but not enough chairs!) This is a wonderful change for him, and though we will miss him so much, we can rejoice that his pastoral leadership led us to a place beyond our imaginings.

Another change noted yesterday was my friend the rabbit who lives in the forest. I hadn't seen him for quite a long time and was overjoyed when he emerged from the undergrowth. But at first, I almost didn't recognise him! Since our last meeting, he's changed. His fur is thicker, his coat lighter--especially on his chest--and his ears and underneath parts are increasingly white.

Here's a comparison. August on top, yesterday on bottom.

I'm afraid the changes aren't as evident in the lower picture as they were to me. The light was low, it was bucketing rain, and I shot him from a great distance. But when he rose on his hind legs to nibble a hemlock branch, I could detect the whiteness in places it hadn't been before, and places where his fur was lighter than before. And the backs of his ears have gone grey.

I'd never accurately identified his type. His tail and ears seemed wrong for a cottontail. His size seemed right for a snowshoe hare, but I wasn't fully convinced.

But, as the showshoe is the one that turns white in winter, I'm now satisfied with that identification. I hope he returns throughout the winter--he'll be lovely in the snow!

Late yesterday I attended a focus group session about an hour away. I was expecting a political discussion--and for a brief time we rated and talked about potential Presidential candidates. It was mostly consumer research related to a mass retailer whose employment policies are getting a lot of criticism. It was very interesting.

I was paid $100. In three hours, I earned the same money I'll get for one year as a State Representative!

And speaking of that, in transit I was able to make use of one of the perks of my high office. In the mail I received a paper that allows me to pass through all the state tollbooths without paying the toll! This was a pleasant surprise. It's like having my very own E-Z Pass, only I won't get billed for it. All I did was show it to the booth attendant, and I got the green light. It saved me $1.50 (75 cents in each direction).

Last night we watched Prime Suspect. Jane Tennison is one of the most fascinatingly flawed characters in television (Dr. Gregory House also fits that description, for similar reasons). I already know far too much about this final series, which was broadcast in the UK already. Even so it's wonderfully gritty and gripping.

I'll mention one other change: my calendar. It's filling up really, really fast with events and gatherings at the State House.

Please excuse me now, I've got a book to write...must make the most of this un-busy day!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Peace--Quiet not Included

Yesterday and today are positively spring-like. Balmy, sunny. I half expect to see daffodils or tulips springing up in the gardens....

A quiet day here at the Lodge--except for the occasional bashing and banging of the roof & gutter repairman. Lola feels the need to bark sometimes, to let him know she's alert to his presence. The noise makes Ruth little nervous, so she's keeping close by me.

I'm finishing up a few tasks...some more fun than others. I might be a representative-elect, but like ordinary people I need to hoover my floor and scrub my loos and dust all the surfaces. Till today I've been too distracted or hadn't the time. At least one local legislator has a cleaning lady, but I'm not leveraging my new status to avoid household drudgery. There's something about dwelling in a forest that just doesn't jive with having a cleaner come in. And writing is a messy, messy business--any self-respecting cleaning lady would take one look at the typical chaos of my office and my library, and flee.

At yesterday's Diocesan Council meeting, the Bishop announced my election. People were either pleased, or suprised, or both.

I raced from that location to a wonderful event sponsorted by the affordable housing nonprofit in our area. The Chap is the Chairman of their Board. I arrived just in time to hear his welcome speech. The Executive Director, in her remarks, mentioned my election. Surprise, pleasure, so on. (I'm getting used to it now!)

On my entrance I encountered a blogger I'd met at Blog Free or Die, last month's statewide bloggers confab. He was there in his capacity as radio programmer/reporter, covering the gathering. Great to see you again, Tony!

Because we were the last to leave, the Chap and I had a share of the leftover food--catered by The Common Man. And wine.

Consequently, a little while ago I had a huge wedge of brie en croute for elevenses. Not my typical fare! Tonight we'll get into the wine.

It occurred to me, whlle loitering in the kitchen, that our fridge is fetishistic. As can be seen along the top of the freezer section, there's definitely some state-worship going on here--appropriate for a freshman legislator.

It exposes quite blatantly the extent to which we travel, regionally, domestically but mostly internationally. The fridge magnets we've acquired in foreign lands are usually much nicer than the cheesy rubber ones. But we love those, and can't seem to stop collecting them.

Our bigger, better fridge up at the cottage has mostly family-related stuff stuck to it.

Diocesan Convention is all day tomorrow. This year, unlike last, I haven't got any major responsibility. I can just sit with my delegation, instead of bobbing up and heading for the podium. Plus, it's only one day...last year there were events spread across three days, and I was somehow involved in all of them. I regard it as a big reunion, a chance to see people I know from all around the state. I look forward to the lunch--having been assured that some of our choices feature the very green spinach wraps I got so excited about not long ago, at the Anti-Racism training.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lots of non-political animals--and Me

Before yesterday, the description above could've described me. Maybe not now.

First, many thanks to my blog readers and those who emailed privately. Such an outpouring of congratulations enhances the total awesomeness of what happened to me. My comments section is exploding!

This is not at all the sort of day-after-the-election I anticipated, on every level. The morning began with putting together a "thanks for your vote" ad to go in the local papers, from our candidate group. While working on it, I was calling or emailing people who helped me/us along the way. I received numerous telephone calls from veteran House members and various friends. I've had emails from all over the globe.

There are plenty of people who didn't even know I was running for elected office, a category that included my literary agent--proof of my extremely low expectations of winning! I told her today, because so many fellow writers, several of whom are also her clients, were cheering me on. I didn't want her to hear it from somebody else first!

Some persons within the Porter inner circle (non-blog-reading category) didn't even know I was on the ballot yesterday. And some still don't know, because they're travelling or otherwise unreachable. Needless to say, they're in for a huge surprise.

Let me repeat, for I can't stress this enough, I didn't expect to win. My devoted husband, who loves me dearly and was supportive of me in this seemingly mad quest, did not expect me to win. Why go around for 6 months announcing to all and sundry, "I'm in this election but I know I'm going down in flames." I was very selective about who to tell and who not to.

This morning's paper quoted me accurately. Here's hoping for the same tomorrow (did it help that I'm a sometime columnist for said paper?). This afternoon I spent a good 15 minutes on the phone with a colleague of last night's reporter, assigned an article on the political sea change. She was interviewing new House members in the area as well as analysts and pundits. Nobody really knows what it all means, or the impact.

I can say with certainty that a bi-partisan effort will be necessary to meet the challenges of the coming legislative session.

The outcome in our state reflects the national trend, only more so. Every chamber, every power position will be held by the same political party, and not the one we're all accustomed to. It's truly unprecedented.

I did encounter a few real obstacles on my road to victory. As I set out for my first polling place, in the next town, a pair of deer blocked my driveway. I soon discovered there were two more lurking at the edge of the wood.

Wish I'd got a shot of the foursome, but I had to be somewhere!

Driving home from polling place #1 for a quick lunch and a hot cuppa, I had to stop for a flock of wild turkeys crossing the road.

The flock was about twice as large as that photo. My lens isn't wide enough to include so many turkeys.

Passing the pasture nearest my house, I saw the neighbours' horses grazing. They formed a picturesque silhouette up there on the ridge.

Today's victory lap around the district consisted of removing my campaign signs in the rain. Prior to last night, it loomed as a very dreary but necessary chore. But because I did it while imbued with the thrill of victory, rather than depressed by the agony of defeat, it was painless. And I didn't get too wet.

This remains an alarmingly busy week. I thought so much activity would be a distraction from not winning. Now my overwhelmed brain struggles to cope with all the other stuff that's going on, and tasks to accomplish, between now and Monday morning.

How will this new responsibility affect my writing career? I can't say yet, but probably not much. The Legislature meets from January till about June, but not every day. Fortunately, some of my current volunteer commitments are ending soon, or, like the new library, reaching completion, or simply entering a new phase that doesn't include me. I've developed really good multi-tasking muscles.

Admittedly, I'm never making as much progress on the novel as I'd like, and that's not likely to change. I should be able to get lots done before and after my next London trip, and up to the end of this year. There are some really positive recent developments--although they won't make me write any faster, the book is becoming even more a labour of love. And that's saying a lot.

I found out the dates for House of Representatives new member orientation. The swearing-in will be December 6, sooner than I thought.

After that, I'll be The Honorable Margaret Porter. (Must remember to spell it US style in this context.) I've said repeatedly today, this leaves me very little time to be dis-honourable so I mean to make the most of it while I can!

Last night I missed several victory parties. I was exactly where I most wanted to be--here at the Lodge with the Chap, Lola, and Ruth. The dogs slept peacefully on carpet (Lola) and sofa (Ruth). He stared at the tv, tracking results, and pumping his fist whenever my name and vote totals crawled across the screen. I mostly freaked out--loudly--about getting elected.

Again, thanks for all the warm wishes. And your faith in me!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Night Report

I won.

Not only that, our entire 4-person candidate group won.

Not sure what's happening in the rest of the nation, but in my 3-town district, it can accurately be described as a tsunami. And it's looking that way around the state, also.

I'll be back...when I recover my equilibrium. This is so unexpected.

Never fear, this won't become a political blog. It's a blog about stuff I do.

And today, what I did was get myself elected to the State Legislature.

Oh--and I just got off the phone with a newspaper reporter.

Election Day

Six months ago, when I carried my eight quarters ($2) to the town office to file as a candidate for our State Legislature, this day seemed very distant.

I'll be heading off to the polls in a little while. My candidate group divided up the polling places in our 3-town district, and one or more of us will stand outside holding signs and passing out flyers.

Fortunately, the weather is dry. A bit grey, but not cold. And the rains aren't due to arrive till after the polls close tonight.

This morning our newspaper featured a Washington Post article about how physical appearance affects a candidate's chances of success. There's not much I can do to improve mine, beyond makeup and my new hairstyle, and a snazzy, well-coordinated outfit. I suppose I could follow the example of Georgiana, the giddy and glamourous 18th century Duchess of Devonshire, and offer kisses in exchange for votes. (She wasn't running, she was trying to convince Londoners to vote for her family's favourite House of Commons candidate.) But that might mess up my exquisitely applied lipstick. Or cost me the votes of any wives who accompany their husbands. Or I might get turned down! So I'll refrain.

I wish I could take Ruth and Lola. A cute, friendly little dog and a gorgeous, stately large dog would serve me well, and I'd have somebody to talk to!

Bottled water--check
Campaign sign--check
Comfy (but attractive) shoes--check
Driving licence and car keys--check

I honestly don't think I'm going to win. And I won't be disappointed if I don't, as long as we get our incumbent re-elected, plus one more from our candidate group. It doesn't need to be me.

One thing keeps occurring to me....In this country, women have had the vote for a bit less than 100 years. And here am I, one of 3 women in my district running for the Legislature...in a state that has a very high percentage of female legislators. That's cool. It truly is an honour to play a small part in this process. I've already won!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gilbert Returns

And what a joyful reunion! We'd just come home from church when I spotted him near the empty chipmunk feeding dish. Then he raced around the deck railing and started to climb on bird feeders. So I went out to fill the chipmunks' dish. He darted down the stair, peered out at me through the lattice, and made little squeaks.

Seriously--he spoke to me! Thanking me for the food, no doubt.

He filled his cheeks with safflower seeds and ran off towards the front yard. (Not where we'd released him, but in the general area where I'd found him.)

He was instantly recognisable due to his youthful smallness, thin tail, pointy little nose, and the way he held his front right paw when he scampered. My husband, called in to verify the identification, took one look and said, "That's definitely him."

Gilbert had better stock up on food, and fast, because yesterday we had snow flurries. Not for long, but the flakes were falling.

We've just stored our canoe for the (ouch) coming winter. Ditto for one of our motorcars.

Going out for dinner last night--at our fave Mexican joint--with the canon-who-used-to-be-a-monk was great fun. He acknolwedged that the place lived up to my most enthusiastic description.

Oh, what a week this will be! In the next 48 hours some shopping, a meeting and an election, followed on Wednesday by campaign sign retrieval, another diocesan meeting on Thursday, our annual Diocesan Convention on Saturday. Then on Sunday at church is giving a celebration of ministry and a farewell reception for our beloved parish priest of the past 6 years.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November....In honour of Guy Fawkes's Day, we'll be grilling our dinner outdoors tonight. I think we need to have a wood fire as well, and not only because it's Bonfire Night. Well, in the UK it is, and we tend to mark these occasions.

But for now, I'm off to see Gilbert again.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Capitol Suspense

There was rain yesterday, no sleet, and the afternoon was sparkling bright. I drove to the capital city, to the State Capitol itself, to meet one of my (many) priest friends. Recently retired, he's the chaplain to our State Senate.

While walking the two blocks from the parking lot of the diocesan offices (where I had business), I made use of my camera. As the historical marker indicates, this building is historic. Those brick facades in the background are part of the equally historic Main Street.

In addition to being so long-used, the structure also houses the 3rd largest legislative body in the entire world. The other two are Britain's House of Commons, and U.S. House of Representatives.

The light wasn't so good for shooting from the front lawn, but here's a view from the back. I think it looks lovely from any vantage point.

Sometime on Tuesday night, I'll find out whether I will become one of the 424 state representatives, and receive the lavish stipend of $200 per 2-year session--a whopping $100 per year.

The cafeteria is located in the basement, where the halls of power are dim, warren-like, with electrical and furnace apparatus and rows of metal lockers reminiscent of a high school.

My friend and I enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation, touching on family and work, the connection between spirituality and philanthropy, bi-partisanship (my mantra), the tensions and taunts that characterise this campaign season, what changes Tuesday's election might bring--in our state and nationally.

He and I share the ambition to view the city vista from the cupola atop that glistening gold dome. I'm surprised, given his position, that he hasn't ever been up there. He's going to work his connections and make the necessary arrangements for access.

I can almost remember the first time I spotted the dome. It would've been over 20 years ago as we raced along the interstate, intent on getting to the cottage. Wherever I am in the city, it's a magnet for my eyes.

Today, I'm casting off political thoughts to focus on self-improvement and career matters. I've got a hairdresser appointment, and there's a promising development on the novel-writing front I must deal with in the afternoon.

Tomorrow night the Chap and I are having dinner with a different priest friend (a former monk). No, not everybody I hang out with is ordained, but this week it seems so!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

More Scary Stuff

We had no visitors for trick-or-treat last night. Today I'm generously treating myself to the leftover candy.

Halloween may be past, and All Saints Day here, but I'm finding creepy, scary stuff--the weird and the wonderful--everywhere I look.

Here's the cover for my first cousin's first novel, A Good and Happy Child from the Shaye Areheart imprint at Random House. Scary, isn't it? Appropriately so, as the novel deals with possible demonic possession.

Here's a condensed blurb about him and it:

A GOOD AND HAPPY CHILD is part thriller, part mystery, with a supernatural element. It opens in a New York therapist’s office, where 30-year-old George Davies is seeking help for a unique problem: He can’t bring himself to hold his newborn son...He's forced to question exactly what happened in his small Southern university hometown twenty years before when, in the wake of his father’s mysterious and unexpected death, he began to experience ominous visions...Were these visions just the product of a grief-stricken child’s overactive imagination? Symptoms of mental illness? Or was George possessed by a darker, more malevolent force? Smart, suspenseful, and darkly beautiful, A GOOD AND HAPPY CHILD is a literary novel in the spirit of books by Donna Tartt and Carol Goodman.

Justin Evans, once a film scout for Paramount Pictures, is now a strategy executive at the media giant VNU, and has previously worked in business development at the New York Times. This is his first novel.

I'm very excited for him, and oh, so proud. His wife is a NY literary agent, his parents are authors. His cousin (me!) is an author. My dad's first cousin is publishing a biography this month. Two members of my immediate family are at work on novels. Not too shabby. There's no mistaking what we mean by "the family business"!

The next occurence sounds scary, but really isn't. This morning I was in the sunroom with the girls when I noticed a wee something scurrying along the side of the house--not a chipmunk! A small rat. A pretty little rat, with pale grey-brown fur and a dear little furred tail. (I'm rather fond of rodents, as evidenced by my inviting any chance-met chipmunk in peril to move into my abode for rehabilitation.) Some years ago we spied a creature that our local wildlife biologist described as "a rare native rat"--we were dead chuffed but never saw one again. According to my research, this is another Eastern wood rat.

If one has a resident rat, far better that it should be rare and native. None of your Norway or black rats for me, thank you very much!

A short while later, I noticed this interesting excavation in one of my gardens. Presumably it's a rat hole. The chipmunks don't usually go in for this type of massive construction. I love the little trail to the hole opening.

The next thing isn't scary, but it's devilishly red--a dragonfly.

Perhaps not scary, I expected it, but it was definitely weird waking up to find myself all over today's papers--in our candidate team ad, my individual profile in the Voters' Guide, and in the local weekly, too.

Not the least scary, our weather is blissfully warm and sunny. We're having some repairs made to the facade of the Lodge, and the contractor delivered a very long board--I can't remember the correct name. Because the Chap is now working in an office environment, and I'm the homebody, and it's such a perfect day for it, I volunteered to paint said board. My painting technique is doubtless not the finest, but the long white board is now Porter green. And I'm not.

But there's a big, looming scary thing--an abrupt change in the weather. Tomorrow brings cold and rain--and sleet.