"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

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Like Living in a Snow Globe

Snow began falling sometime after the dogs had their 7:30 breakfast but before humans officially left their warm bed at--well, I won't say when! It's Ruth's second snowfall. She enjoys tasting snowflakes. Who doesn't?

While standing out on our big deck in my white flannel nightgown and blue fleece bathrobe, waiting for the male cardinal to pose properly, this red-breasted nuthatch arrived at the nearest feeder.

And then I got my cardinal-in-the-snow shot.

I think we'll end up with about 3 inches.

Last evening the Chap and I attended a dinner party given by a pair of friends. It was a lovely gathering attended by people I sort of knew and many I didn't know at all, but it was quite an interesting and talkative group. The meal was outstanding, as usual. One of our hosts is a V.I.P. in my life--as indeed he is in this state and across our nation--and internationally. Our other friend I don't see as often and am always thrilled when I do.

The end-of-year holiday crept up on us...today we've planned menus for upcoming festive meals, and the Chap is heading out into the snowy world to score some champagne and various necessary ingredients.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Many Positive Developments

My extremely busy day began at the church, where I had a brief tutorial by the current parish website administrator, now retiring from that role and handing it off to me. I also bagged the warm socks and knitted scarves and mittens the parishioners donated during the holiday season--they will be dropped off at local welfare offices for those who need them this winter. It's finally turning cold in New England, so I wasted no time making deliveries at two town offices.

Then I headed for the city to drop off something for the Chap at the diocesan office. From there, I walked over to the State House to drop off paperwork of my own. If you want to skip over the cool discovery I made while there, you can jump right down to my incredibly awesome visit to our new library.

At the State House I handed in my signature form as a bill co-sponsor (!!) I'm already legislating--or trying to!

I collected my official nametag from my mail cubbyhole in the lobby of Representatives Hall--eventually it'll be relegated to backup status, because I also placed my order for the upgraded version: shiny, fancy, brass-edged, engraved with the State seal. I ordered business cards, too.

I checked out my assigned seat in Representatives Hall. Didn't get my top choice, but it's in the same geographical area and I like the view and it's convenient to the lobby and almost on the aisle.

That was my impression before my incredible discovery....

During a conversation with the director of the visitors' center (a constituent), I mentioned I'd just inspected my seat. Her colleague (a former Rep) asked my seat number. When I gave it, her eyes widened in recognition. It was an unexpected reaction, and when she reached for a copy of the House Manual to look it up, I started to worry that this particular chair had really bad karma, or a sordid history.

Quite the contrary, it's a most honourable location. Evidently one of its previous occupants was a higly respected Manchester legislator who had a long tenure and did many wonderful things. Consequently I left the State House in a very upbeat mood, determined to maintain my hallowed seat's excellent reputation.

If I can't live up to it, or enhance it, at least I'll try hard not to impair it!


Before going home, I stopped in at the new library. All month long, the books and furniture have been arriving and now everyting is in its place. Last time I was there, the stacks had just been positioned...in the interim there's been quite a transformation.

On my way in, I snapped the the Porter Adult Reading Area--located in the bumped-out front portion of the building.

outside view of the Porter Adult Reading Area

Here it is--part of it.
the Porter Adult Reading Area

I didn't get a view with the long reading table, or the window seats behind the leather chairs.

I sat down in one of the chairs (very comfy!) to examine a couple of books on dog behaviour. I checked out both of them, along with that highly-lauded book about the pig. As well as a history book.

"Our" reading room has a great view towards the historic Town Hall and the hills beyond.

In another reading room, there's a fireplace.

After a few additional errands in the next town over, I returned home in a glorious good mood. I'm glad to see ice forming on our little lake...I'm not accustomed to open water in late December, it doesn't look right.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas & Boxing Day

We had church twice on Christmas Eve--Sunday service (Advent 4) in the morning, and our traditional Christmas Eve service with carol singing, music, and eucharist at night. After we all exchanged The Peace, the Chap rose to make a very exciting announcement: our congregation's Christmas gift is a new priest-in-charge. Check out the big red bow!

After many days of activity and socialising and churching, we spent a quiet Christmas at the Lodge. We slept late, opened our stockings, spoke with my family by phone, opened our presents under the tree. A large part of the fun was the presence of a young dog who finds joy in everything--including her first holiday as part of our family!

What Ruth found in her stocking.

Ruth examines the gift from the nice lady who kennels the girls.

Each dog got a nifty green chew. I clown around with Lola's before passing it over to her.

Ruth gives Lola a Christmas kiss, invading her personal space.

Cuddling with Ruth.

After presents, it was time for a light lunch. In the afternoon I delved into a book I received (the biography of my great-aunt, written by her daughter), and took a nap. Later we cooked a festive meal (salmon, shrimp, salad and rice) and spoke with more relatives. Then we settled in the downstairs sitting room to watch a portion of one of the DVDs I received. It's a complete season of Jeeves & Wooster, the adaptation of PG Wodehouse tales, starring Stephen Fry and a young-ish Hugh Laurie. Happy-go-lucky Bertie is a stark contract to Dr Gregory House!

Today all is quieter still. The snow we expected came in the form of rain, so it's rather gloomy. The Chap is nursing a head cold. I'm messing about.

My pressies are nearly all delightful, and fall into two categories: extremely useful or loads of fun. Or both! One, however, is the second worst Xmas gift I've ever received...given to me by the same individual who a decade ago was responsible for the very worst gift ever.

I hope each and every blog visitor is enjoying this festive season, and that the waning days of 2006 will be absolutely delightful. Thanks so much for stopping by--whether intentionally or by chance!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

I've mentioned how unseasonably warm the weather has been, and today is no different...I wore a light jacket to church this morning.

The wildlife is also noticing the strange conditions. Wally the chipmunk climbed up from her burrow at lunchtime. I don't believe we've ever had a December chipmunk sighting. Usually the snow is too deep, and the ground well frozen.

After many, many weeks underground, she was squinting at the bright light. I caught her with her eyes shut!

On a recent evening I shot this photo. I was facing southeast. The sinking sun was behind me, turning the blue sky purple and making the low-hanging clouds pink. I love the silhouette of the tall trees at the edge of our forest.

Nearly every year I manage to capture this same winter scene, which to me seems suitable for a peaceful, expectant Christmas Eve.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


The past few days have been pleasant and busy. The dogs announced the arrival of every package deliveryman, bringing gifts from far-flung places. I've spent plenty of time in the kitchen. On Thursday I made bread.

On Friday morning I baked Christmas cookies, and spent the afternoon preparing for our dinner guests. We had a lovely evening of fun, food, and entertainment, provided by a pair of talented little girls. They had fun playing with Lola and Ruth, who relished all the attention.

In recent days we've spoken on the phone a couple of times with our very dear English friends who live in France and are stuck in Colorado. They'd finished up a spectacular month-long ski holiday and were due to depart from the Denver airport on the very day the blizzard struck and shut down all flights. With the backed up flights, they won't travel to the East Coast till tomorrow, and must now spend their Christmas Day flying on to Blighty, arriving very late in the evening. Surely by then, Heathrow will be unfogged. At least they'll be with their relatives for Boxing Day.

When we lived in Colorado, we experienced numerous holiday blizzards--Thanksgiving, Christmas. One time, only days before Christmas, we endured a storm very similar to the one that hit the mountains and plains this week. Naturally, it was a year when visitors were flying in--my parents and my brother, and the Chap's dad. Luckily, the snow ended just in time, their travel was unaffected, and a picturesque 30 inches covered the ground by the time the company arrived. One of our whitest Christmases ever!

Not so this year. No snow in our forecast. We're having rain all day today. The ground is scarily green and very soggy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Santa, Baby...

...could you please put a copy of this

underneath my tree?

I'm sure it would be extremely useful in the coming year.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Glad Tidings

Lots of them!

Last evening, reading the current Publisher's Weekly, I spotted a blurb about my own cousin in the "Deals" section. Six months prior to publication, his debut novel A Good and Happy Child was just optioned for a film. A scriptwriter is at work. That should definitely enhance his family's Christmas merriment!

Christmas parcels for our relatives are in the hands of the US Postal Service now, headed for such diverse places as the South, the Upper Midwest, and France.

I've given the girls a much-needed holiday manicure. No more click-click-click-click across the floorboards or the Italian tile upstairs.

My Friday night dinner menu is set. Apart from the meat course, it will be a theme meal--all red and green. I didn't start out planning that way, it just happened, so now I'm having fun with it. Did you know the little goldfish snacks come in red and green, specially for Christmas? Now you do!

Today the Chap will attend his fifth party in as many days. We had the two at the weekend. On Monday his entire office held a party, during which he and his fellow new hires had to sing a song in front of everybody. He won the draw for a poinsettia plant! His floor had their own party on Tuesday. And today, his department is going out for a festive lunch at a restaurant.

I've wrapped all my presents for the Chap and put them under the tree. Our stockings are in place, hanging above the downstairs fireplace. I've filled the ones that are my responsibility.

The best tidings of all:

I have a completely free day for writing.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Biggest Tree Ever

I'm sure like me, everyone has been far too busy to post to their blogs, or to read other people's.

My excuse is our active social life: big parties on Saturday night and Sunday night. Both were delightful. Marvellous food, good company.

At these events we've encountered numerous state and even national politicians. Last night's festive gathering was covered by C-SPAN, thanks to the presence of a 2008 Presidential contender. In addition to all the lovely food and seasonal merriment, we got to dodge television cameramen and photojournalists as they tried to hone in on the Senator.

Last week I had so many meetings that our big giant tree stood undecorated in the upstairs sitting room for 6 whole days. At long last--on Saturday morning--we brought in the extension ladder and arranged the lights, and the Chap placed the angel at the top. I took over from there. But because we were going out that night, and because it's such a huge tree, I couldn't finish up till Sunday afternoon, after church and before last night's party.

On our way out the door, we managed a photo-op.

With the household adornment finished at last, now we're waiting for Santa to arrive...some of us more patiently than others!

No more partying away from home. In the coming days, all our socialising will occur here at the Lodge.

I've got some loose shopping ends to tie up this afternoon, followed by loads of wrappping and boxing and mailing. I met all my writing deadlines, so when I'm not tidying up or planning menus or baking Christmas cookie, I might actually snatch some itme to relax and read. Whatever I'm doing though, Handel's Messiah will the background music!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Gone but not forgotten

In a matter of hours, a dear and familiar landmark was lost forever.

When I head up to our cottage on the big lake, I nearly always travel the slow and scenic route, passing through the town to our small village at the tip of the Bay. Before I get to the really bendy parts of the road, I always glance westward for a glimpse of the Bay View Pavilion.

For decades it has sat there, as evidenced by an image from my collection of old lake-related postcards. It's the building with the red roof and the long porch.

To see a view of the entrance side, take a look at this item available from Ebay. (Maybe I've just started a bidding war...its nostaligia value has suddenly soared.)

During the Big Band era, in its heyday as a dance hall, all the big names played there. I've heard the Chap's dad talk about the fun of going there when he was younger.

Over my two-plus decades on the lake, it was a roller skating rink and a restaurant, and was briefly resurrected as a venue for dances. And my father-in-law, who enjoys dancing and big bands, returned.

This is how I remember it.

Over this past summer and autumn, I studied the progress of construction as it underwent conversion to luxury condominiums.

Very early yesterday morning, due to some undetermined cause, a spark turned into a flame. The fog was so dense that no passers-by were aware of the fire--which went from a one-alarm to a four-alarm over the course of a few hours.

For a more detailed account of what happened, and a very dramatic photograph of the conflagration, go here. As a photographer, I can admire the picture, but it's hard for me to gaze upon.

It's too soon to know what will happen to the site. I'm already hoping the replacement structure will bear some familiar resemblance to what's been lost...that it will be re-developed I have no doubt, given its prime location.

The sprinkler system in the condo units was supposed to be activated today.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Little Me in the Big House

I went to jail today.

I wasn't handcuffed, nor did I have to do the perp walk.

I was touring our county correctional facility, part of my legislator orientation.
My state is known for its very visible and vigorous town government system. And now I'm involved in state government. But the largely unpublicised part of a legislator's responsibility is serving in the county delegation. That is to say, we do double duty.

County administrative departments include the sheriff, county attorney, corrections, nursing home, cooperative extension, and register of deeds.

This morning we gathered as a county delegation, to meet the key departmental staff and elect our officers. We also signed up for subcommittees related to the various departments, whose budget requests we'll be reviewing in the new year.

After partaking of a nice lunch provided by the UNH Cooperative Extension staff, a group of us (several new legislators, the Chair of the County Commission, the Chair of our County Delegation, and our new county Sheriff-Elect) boarded a county nursing home van and drove up-county to tour our correctional facility and the nursing home across the road from it.

The jail is a couple of years new and state-of-the-art. The nursing home isn't--yet--but a nice big new one is under construction. The progess is admirable, it's ahead of schedule and under budget!

The staff in both facilities were wonderfully welcoming and very informative. The extent of the services provided at each was striking. The superintendant led us around, introducing us to the staff and the corrections officers--one is a constituent of mine, we got to know one another on Election Day, standing outside a polling place with campaign signs.

As we wandered through the intake areas and and the medical and educational and kitchen departments, we saw inmates in their orange garb--many of them so young.

We did less exploring in the nursing home but saw the plans for the new building and spent some quality time with the directors.

A fascinating and eye-opening afternoon, to say the least.

My grandfather (my mother's dad) liked to boast--trying to startle his listeners--of having been "inside every Federal penitentiary in the United States." Not as a criminal. He was there in his official capacity. He worked in Washington, D.C. and throughout many adminstrations--Democrat and Republican--was a Presidential appointee, serving on the U.S. Parole Board and eventually chairing it.

Among the notorious persons he encountered was the Bird Man of Alcatraz--who in real life was a pretty weird dude, apparently, and not as nice to the birds as he was in that movie....

Bless him, my grandfather died 5 years ago, aged 99. Today I was thinking about him a lot.

Because I just know he was smiling down on me, absolutely thrilled that I was hanging out in the county jail.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Take a Deep Breath

The madness began Friday, late in the afternoon. I'd just finished roasting a turkey breast to take to the parish Christmas party when Ruth showed strange symptoms of illness just before she was supposed to have her dinner.

The Chap arrived home in a good mood, eager to display the lovely goodies he'd bought for me at his office's Christmas Crafts Fair and Bake sale. My favourite thing was these chocolate mice. They've got Hershey kisses for the heads, red cherry bodies, cherry stem tails, and sliced almonds as ears.

Ruth spoiled the moment--and our appetite for mice--by being sick again.

Panic set in. Our vet's office had already closed and would remain so till Monday morning. We were down to a single car--due to an untimely tire gone bad on mine.

I thrust the turkey at the Chap, saying, "Take this to the church, now, drop it off, and come back quick as you can. You're driving Ruth and me to the 24-hour emergency clinic in the city."

That's exactly what he did.

The little dog slept in the back seat as we drove through the icy, snowy night. Outwardly she seemed okay, but what was going on inside?

They weighed her (32 pounds), and x-rayed her--2 views. Everything looked normal. She's got the straightest little spine and adorable pelvic bones--seriously, she's as cute inside as out. She charmed the staff utterly, and these are people who see animals 24-hours a day. One of the techs threatened to sneak her out the back door and take her home.

The diagnosis: a tummy bug acquired from eating something unwholesome, probably in the back yard. The vet on duty gave her a jab of antibiotic and re-hydrated her and sent us home with a couple of cans of bland food--"doggie gruel". We were advised to keep a close watch and get in touch if she continued being sick.

In our relief, as soon as we got home we devoured chocolate mice and pieces of cake.

I was the designated dog watcher on Saturday, and that wasn't exactly compatible with the busy agenda for the day. When the Chap finished changing out the bad tire on the big Saab, I issued another edict: "Go to the tree farm and bring back the best tree you can find." Relinquishing control of that process was very uncharacteristic of me, but my concern for Ruth was greater than my desire for The Perfect Tree. I had to trust my husband. After all, we've been choosing trees together for many, many years.

My trust was entirely justified. An hour later, he returned with this:

We assumed last year's tree would hold the record as the "tallest ever." This one now holds that title.

Next on the agenda: an afternoon meeting at the church. We took Ruth along with us. She charmed everyone, as usual.

In the evening, a friend joined us for dinner--crockpot chicken curry with basmati rice. It was his first time at the Lodge. He was appropriately impressed with the size of our tree. Lola and Ruth were excellent hostesses.

On Sunday we felt comfortable leaving Ruth with Lola in the morning while we were at church. We went in separate Saabs, because after the service I headed to the Seacoast to meet two friends for a festive reunion lunch at the Portsmouth Brewery. It was wonderful.

For a while I wandered the galleries and shops near and in Market Square, and found some fun Christmas presents for fellow members of one of my committees. In the boutiques I tried on lots of hip, interesting dresses and skirts with fascinating prices. I suppose I could've indulged myself, thanks to an infusion of $$$ from a recent 2-book sale to Germany. But my wardrobe is exploding already, so I decided not to.

Until I found the dark blue blouse. Just last week I was searching every store in the capital region looking for one--navy blue, royal blue. Those colours have apparently been wiped from the fashion palette. The blouse I found in Portsmouth was undoubtedly overpriced, but it wasn't more than I would've paid elsewhere. It's also unique and gorgeous and flattering and absolutely perfect.

As planned, at 5 p.m. I attended a "Come as You Are" eucharist at the smaller of the two Portsmouth Episcopal churches. This was a different and very intimate sort of service, featuring an alternative liturgy and modern music. We began with what I would call "godly breathing" which was exactly what I needed to relax and center myself.

I was home in time for pizza and The Amazing Race finale. The outcome pleased me very much.

I'm doing practically nothing today, just breathing deeply and calmly. It's my quiet day, and I've got a book to read. I've curbed my impatience to decorate the monster tree--no getting up on a ladder unless the Chap's around, and obviously I'll need the tallest of our ladders. My goal is to finish by the end of this week (given his schedule, it could be a protracted process).

Ruth is fully recovered from whatever It was.

P.S. Barack Obama was here this weekend. The excitement level rose "to eleven" among the press and politicos and ordinary citizens. May even "to twelve". Yesterday, he was in Portsmouth while I was there, signing books for the 750 people lucky enough to reserve their free tickets before the cut-off. Later he made an address at the Democratic Victory Party--to which I, of course, had been invited. So many people wanted to be there, they had to change to a larger venue. At least 1500 people showed up. I wasn't one of them because my calendar was already full. Besides, I had the expectation--and hope--that he'll be back, often, providing numerous future opportunities to hang out with him. From the laudatory comments in the morning's papers, I might just get my wish!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

Ruth's First Snow

This morning we awoke to a white and chilly world.

Accumulation: 2 inches. Temperature: 15 degrees (with severe windchill due to extremely blustery condidions.)

Ruth wonders, "Where did this white stuff come from? What's this bizarre long-handled implement?"

The experienced Lola observes Ruth's explorations.

While I shoveled snow off the back deck stairs, a doggie snow-romping session took place in the yard below.

Our forest.

Ruth understands how to spend a snowy day.

This lovely white frosting on the ground is more suitable to the season than Thursday's 54 degrees!

My foray into the city was highly successful: 65% of the Christmas shopping is finished, in one great burst. I was busy last evening as well: 98% of our Christmas cards went out in today's post. This morning I've already wrestled into place the great garland that frames the downstairs sitting room fireplace. I've begun work in the upstairs sitting room.

At a large pet emporium I bought a new toy for Ruth--a red rubber ball made by Kong. It claims to be puncture proof--so far so good--meaning it should last longer than any of its predecessors. The size will (I hope and pray) prevent it rolling under furniture and other stuff and getting lost, like all the other ones. The beastie has got better about fetching, but human participation isn't necessary for her enjoyment. She can amuse herself quite independently--rolling it around the floor and chasing after it, dropping it to make it bounce. It even bounces on the carpeting, which is lots of fun. For everybody!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Day After the Big Day

The answer to Ron's question about whether I'll have an office at the State House: no, indeed. Senators have one, and the House leadership do, but not ordinary Representatives. I am, however, entitled to a locker--either in the State House or in the Legislative Office Building, where the committees have their meetings. I opted for the latter. I also have a mailbox in the lobby outside the chamber.

On Tuesday afternoon before my meetings with the Bishop and his Canon and others, I walked the two blocks to the State House to drop off paperwork. The building was very, very quiet and empty, except for the workers setting up the platform for television cameras in Representatives Hall. The calm before the storm was palpable! I went into the Hall and played Goldilocks, trying out specific seats so I could fill in and submit my seating choice. I made my selection based on the view from the window, and proximity to the rear exit.

Here's the little capitol icon, indicating a report of my State House activities. In future they're unlikely to be so detailed.

I arrived at the State House at 10 AM for our Party Caucus and took my pre-assigned seat in Representatives Hall. (The assignment was specific to Organization Day...seats for the session haven't been assigned yet.) We listened to pitches from the three candidates for State Treasurer. The Governor stopped by to say hello and congratulations--as he always does. Our presumptive Speaker-elect gave us a preview of the schedule for the day. I was sandwiched between two veteran legislators, and both were helpful and informative. Lots of the party leadership were in our division (seating section).

We broke for lunch--and to allow staff to make necessary preparations for the afternoon session. The four Reps from my district crossed the street to the Barley House, along with almost everybody else!

On my way back to the Hall, I saw one of the Chap's colleagues--a group from his office was there and so was he. Just before the festivities began, I spied him up in the Gallery.

Everyone was so friendly and welcoming--even members of the minority party. I had a chance to chat with a member of a committee at the top of my list of choices.

At 1 PM we assembled in Representatives Hall for Organization Day. By "we" I mean all the State Representatives from both parties--my first time seeing the chamber when it is entirely filled. The Clerk presided, and began with the Call of the Roll. We'd been warned that this takes about 20 minutes--there are 400 of us, after all!--and that estimate proved true.

The Governor returned with the five-member Executive Council--the current Council, because its new members won't be sworn in till Inauguration Day in January.

The Governor administered the Representatives' Oath of Office, and we responded as a body. The Oath dates from 1784. Then he and the Council withdrew, and we elected the Speaker (a foregone conclusion; female). Then we elected the House Clerk (ditto; unopposed incumbent; female). Then we elected our Sergeant-at-Arms (ditto; ditto; ditto). They were duly sworn in.

The 24 members of the State Senate were admitted for a joint session to elect two state office holders. The President of the Senate (female) joined the Speaker on her perch.

Next came nominations and the election of the Secretary of State (unopposed incumbent; male).

We heard nomination and seconding speeches for the State Treasurer--three candidates, 1 female, 2 male. This was a vote by ballot, so all 400 of us and the Senators had to fill in a paper ballot and drop it into one of the ballot boxes, organised by alphabet. Needless to say, this took some time. After voting I stepped out for a drink of water and ran into the Chap. I also spotted some of my acquaintances in the press.

We now have a female State Treasurer, she garnered an impressive majority. Chicks totally rule!

The Senate withdrew to their Chamber, which adjoins ours. We conducted some House business. Members made annoucements, mostly about County Delegation meetings.

The session ended about 5 PM--it was dark outside. With one of my district colleagues, I attended a reception at the Capitol Grille but we didn't linger. It had been a very long day.

We meet again on January 3rd for the first official day of the session, and on January 4th for Inauguration Day (Governor and Executive Council). On those days we also receive our special licence plates, transponders for passing through tollbooths, and our Photo ID's.

Next week: my first County Delegation Meeting.


I arrived at the Lodge only a few minutes after the Chap did. We hastened to the church where he had a meeting and I assembled photos of our parishioners on display boards.

As soon as we returned home, I poured a glass of wine, curled up on the sofa with Ruth sprawled across my lap and Lola napping on the carpet. The Chap and I shared our impressions of this momentous day. I was exhausted but exhilarated.

For the time being, matters seasonal rather than policital will be my focus. Christmas is coming! Cards will go out this weekend. We'll go to the tree farm to cut our tree. I'm eager to decorate the house. I need to plan menus--we're doing some light entertaining over the next fortnight. (Our schedules are too complex for throwing a large holiday party, as we used to do).

Today I'll head to the city to for a bit of shopping. I was planning to stay home and luxuriate in the silence and solitude of the Lodge--after spending most of yesterday with at least 600 people (the total includes the Reps, the Senators, the staff, witnesses in the gallery, the press, the lobbyists....)

However, the weather is taking a turn for the worse later today--precipitation and frigid temperatures. Tonight and tomorrow the wind chill is supposed to be -10 degrees. I find that hard to believe. Nontheless, I've decided tomorrow is the better day for staying home and slacking off and curling up with a good book!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Full Cold Moon

Taken last evening as it rose behind the trees.

Last week we had record-breaking temperatures for November: mid-60's!

This week, a plunge to the 30's. Down into the teens overnight.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Still lagging about. Despite the consumption of those embarrassingly unsaleable chocolate cookies, I'm enervated.

In my previous posting, I meant to say "Polonium 210", not 120. Naturally I blame persistent jet lag for my number dyslexia.

On Saturday and Sunday night, I stretched out in the downstairs sitting room, like an invalid, and watched the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship dog show on Animal Planet. In this Border Collie and Husky household, we cheer on the Herding dogs and the Working dogs. Wee Ruth curled up at the far end of the sofa--on her mended LL Bean bed--and watched the dogs inside the tv with great interest. When she wasn't sleeping.

As of yesterday it's Advent, so my head is filled with the hymns of the season. Our church made a ton of $$$ from the fair, and after the service we added to the takings by purchasing some delicious discounted baked goods, including a most excellent loaf of fresh bread. It makes lovely toast, perfect for spreading with butter and the Gentlemen's Relish I purchased at Fortnum's the other day.

Forgot to mention that just before we departed London, David Starkey's Monarchy programme featured the monarchs in my novel--William III and Mary II, and Queen Anne--which from my perspective was well-timed. I didn't learn anything I didn't already know, but Starkey made a fine job of it. I'd been spouting most of these facts to the Chap for days on end, as we traipsed about royal sites, so he had to hear it all again.

Before the trip I bought the new cd by Yusuf, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens. It's been a mere three decades since his last studio album. On An Other Cup he still sounds just like Cat, vocally and in his production techniques. The tunes are mellow enough to suit me in this lagging state.

The next two days are crazy busy--meeting with the Bishop, meeting with a Bishop's Canon, Party Caucus meeting, getting sworn in as a Legislator, swearing-in after-party--so I won't feel guilty for being a slug all of today. I've accomplished some writing tasks, but nothing terribly taxing. Or impressive.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Return to the Lodge

We departed London in an aeroplane uncontaminated by Polonium 120 (we trust) and enjoyed a smooth and pleasant flight into Boston.

For me, the homeward journey was made particularly enjoyable by this new novel:

It's smashing debut fiction by Harriet (no relation) Evans. In addition to an appropriate title for my situation and state of mind, it had many charming and/or hilarious overtones of my experiences in the UK. Perhaps Harpercollins will eventually publish it on this side of the Pond, for the benefit of the US readership.

In the evening we collected our darling dogs. Both were overjoyed to see us, and we felt the same. Until the trip, I'd not been apart from Ruth a single night since she came to us in May. Reportedly she was a "sweetheart" during her first kennel stay, although she started to chew on her LL Bean bed out of boredom and it had to be taken away. (I predicted this...unfortunately I was correct.) She and Lola had a blast in the play yard.

My schedule offered me no time or opportunity to recover from jet lag.

Early on the morning after our return it was off to the Legislative Office Building and the State House for Day 2 of New Legislator School, aka Orientation for New Representatives. (I missed Day 1, due to being in transit.)

We had sessions on professionalism, protocols, leadership, staff relations, as well as tours and lunch (sandwiches and green spinach wraps!). I made a wonderful new friend from the North Country. In the evening there was a mixer at a local restaurant...I made a pig of myself among the delicious hors d'oeuvres. My jet-lagged body assumed it had missed some meals along the way.

Just as early the morning of Day 3 (my Day 2), on my way across the State House lawn, I crossed paths with my chum the Senate chaplain. I hope he'll pray hard for me, I can tell I'm going to need it. The day began with a mock joint session of the Legislature in Representatives Hall, followed by another informational session with leadership and staff. Then our Caucus sponsored a celebratory lunch--sandwiches and wraps (no green ones, alas, but there was a roll-up with turkey and cranberry goop which sort of made up for missing it on Thanksgiving). I was more restrained in my eating. I stayed for the cutting of the cake but didn't have any.

The Governor joined us and made some remarks.

There was another party that night, but I had to pass. The Chap and I participated in a meeting at the new library, to plan the transition phase, finishing touches, and most importantly, the dedication.

I'm knocked flat by so much frantic activity. This is my much-needed quiet day at home with the girls. Here they are, watching me helplessly (and messily) stack newly-acquired books and papers and cd's and maps in my office. To be sorted later. Or not.

The Chap is away helping out with the church's St. Nicholas Fair. Last night I made chocolate cookies for the bake sale fundraiser, only they didn't turn out at all well. (Can I still blame jet lag? What's the statute of limitations on that?) If I don't come up with anything else to have for our dinner, we've got plenty of "not quite good enough to offer for public sale" cookies.

I've made a website travelogue of our time in London and environs. The links are over on the sidebar > > >. Start at Windsor and follow the entire tour page-by-linked-page, or choose from the individual page links listed. A few of the pics showed up on the blog, but mostly they're different ones.