"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Monday, April 30, 2007

"A Three Hour Tour"

Feel free to sing the Gilligan's Island theme song. It was running in my head constantly from 10 a.m. till 1 p.m.

Had to get up very early and cover a lot of territory this morning, driving all the way from the Lodge to the top of the Big Lake. It was bucketing rain, tourist season is a distant mirage, and it was Monday. For the first time ever, I was the only car on Route 11 West--a solitary driver for many, many miles of my journey. "Summer people" would never believe this to be possible.

I was there at 9:15, and the passengers were already boarding.

Yes, it's the same big white boat that regularly passes by my lake cottage. This was the day of its annual "shakedown cruise"--the very first outing of the season. Certain dignitaries and invited guests go along for the ride--and as a legislator serving on one of the three policy committees that attends, I was there. Despite the downright threatening weather. We expected to see the Governor among us, but for whatever reason he didn't make it this year.

We departed from the home port.

The above mixed spellings always make me a bit mental. If you're spelling it it "centre," then shouldn't the second word also be spelt "harbour"? A little consistency, please!

After sampling the breakfast buffet, I headed to the upper decks.

A view of the wheelhouse.

A lovely mountain in the distance, mostly obscured by cloud.

At least it had stopped raining. The air was chilly. We'd been encouraged to wear warm clothes. Inside the boat, it was was downright toasty, so we could nip inside to warm up or grab a cup of coffee.

During our cruise we stopped at only one port.

Heading into The Broads, we found clearer skies.

Out there in the open area we tested the engines and did some reversing. I keep gazing at the bays extending from The Broads, wondering which was mine.

A lunch buffet was served at noontime.

Our wake, as we made for home port.

A couple of loons were at the town docks to welcome us. We arrived exactly at 1 p.m. I headed back down the lake, pausing at the scenic lookout to photograph our cottage and boathouse on the other side.

At the tip of our Bay, I headed up the east side to visit the cottage. I wanted to make sure it had come through the recent storms unscathed. It had, but there were a lot a sticks and branches on the ground--an extensive clean-up is in order!

The front yard.

Drove through spells of sunshine and occasional downpours all the way back to the Lodge. This last day of April was completely typical, every ten minutes the weather was changing. And changing again!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

In Memoriam

Exactly a year ago this weekend, our darling dog Shadow, aged 12, fell sick while at the boarding kennel. The Chap and I were in London. She was rushed to the emergency vet clinic for surgery--every attempt was made to stabilise her until we could be contacted. She had to be euthanised on Sunday, April 30th.

Recalling this sad anniversary, I've been very weepy today. I grieve her loss, as I always shall. I remember her in life--her affectionate nature, her ability to purr, the way her rear legs danced when I tickled her bum, her intent observation of the chipmunks, her perpetually wagging tail, her play-fights with Lola. So similar to the play-fights of Ruth and Jewel.

Watching these young dogs romp . . .

. . . and vie for possession of the biggest, bestest chew bone

. . . and as I constantly cuddle them, I feel so fortunate to have their companionship. Each reminds me of Shadow in specific ways, though they of course possess their own unique personalities.

Tomorrow I'll place daffodils on Shadow's grave.

Before I start to cry again, I offer up a photo from the recent past:

That's the parking area snowpile at the big mall in Portsmouth on March 5th.

Here's what it looked like two days ago:

On Friday I headed east, towards the Seacoast, to meet a friend for brunch. Went shopping afterwards. I didn't find the skirt I needed but bought a fantastic, highly attractive big purse at a major department store that cost--wait for it!--$4.99.

Yesterday I tidied up an entire flower garden (roses and perennials) plus half of another garden plot. And I finally installed my trellises and planted my snow peas, which have been well-watered by the persistent rain.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Rest of the Story

The outcome of last night's excitement isn't too exciting.

I'm positive it was the bear. When I went out to the deck to retrieve my feeders, the dogs sniffed the air like crazy and made those very peculiar moaning noises that indicate they've got a whiff of something, and they aren't entirely sure what the hell it is.

It's my responsibility to keep her--our regular visitor is a sow--from becoming a nuisance bear, and I take it very seriously.

However, not wanting to cheat my readers a bear photo, I present taken during a benign encounter a couple of years ago.

This was a long, long Thursday. Arrived early at the State House--to avoid some crowds drawn there by controversy. The Senate was voting on the civil unions bill (which passed), as did the minimum wage raise (which I campaigned on).

Then I endured a 4-hour party caucus meeting to discuss the Governor's proposed constitutional amendment on education funding.

The Dungeon cafeteria had closed at 2 pm but my friend and I got there before they locked the doors. I bought two cookies just before they turned off the till, and called it lunch.

This afternoon I had my Big Schmooze, with the Speaker of the House. She's been inviting small groups of freshman (of both parties) to her office for some quality face time.

Got home at 5:00. Fed dogs.

Am about to make supper (spaghetti and calamari).

And bring in those bird feeders!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Shopping and Schmoozing

After my three girls had their supper I took them out back, and they promptly raced to the back of the fence. As usual, the two snowshoe hares immediately hopped off into the woods.

A bit later, from the window, I spotted the bigger one lurking near my honeysuckle trellis. So I grabbed my camera. Then I trapped Ruth and Jewel in our bedroom so they wouldn't run and bark, and slipped through the deck door quietly enough that Lola didn't hear (at 14, her wolf-like ears are not as acute as they once were).

I have the strongest urge to grab him and give him a thorough combing! With a bit of effort, I could transform him into a brown hare faster than Mother Nature will.

If you felt the earth move this afternoon--shuddering strangely, or tilting abruptly on its axis--there's an explanation. There was an almost unpredecented occurrence in the universe.

I purchased a swimsuit.

I know, this really doesn't sound like an extraordinary event. Trust me, it was. I haven't bought a new suit in this millennium. In fact, I haven't bought one since the early 90's.

I've got two lake houses and three swimsuits. Two of the suits are black: a 2-piece and a 1-piece. They travel back and forth from lake to lake. The third is a madras plaid cotton 2-piece that dates from, at my best estimate, the mid-80's. I went a decade and a half without wearing it at all--it lived up at the cottage, forgotten, stuffed way, way at the back of a drawer. Last summer I found it useful, because I can slip shirts and slacks over it quickly and easily when I take the dogs for a walk.

The suit I bought today was a black 1-piece. Radically--for me--it has white straps and a white strip across the body. Accounting for the size inflation that has occurred since my last purchase, I guestimate it's actually same size as the others.

I think I'll keep this one at the cottage.

In a mood for change, I bought a pair of Isaac Mizrahi sunglasses--bigger than the ones I've been using, which came from Québec. And I got a skirt and two tops. Plus a pair of shoes. I've never been much of a shoe-buying fiend, but somehow I've acquired four pair in the past month. If I needed to justify this prodigality, I would cite the need to look sharp in the Legislature. Mostly it's the result of pent-up demand. I spent all last summer and the end-of-season sales searching for the exactly sorts of shoes I'm now able to find so easily.

The schmoozing began during my drive into the capital city--sort of. The Speaker of the House and I encountered each other during our simultaneous commute. Her passenger, whoever it was, waved at me.

My Big Schmooze was a morning meeting with His Excellency the Governor. He invited the freshman of the majority party into the Executive Council chamber to chat. It was a big crowd. He asked how the session was going, what legislation we were most pleased about (the answers varied, but their were repetitions). Then he discussed his education funding plans and asked for feedback--which he received--and support. (Whether he gets as much as he wants remains to be seen.)

Afterwards I was able to speak to him for a few minutes and express gratitude for his recent visit to my town and his tour of the flood damaged areas along the river and elsewhere.

Over in the Legislative Office Building I schmoozed with my own spouse, who was monitoring Senate hearings--and sported his new blue tie. We then had a nice Big Schmooze with the Minority leader who, it turns out, is a near neighbour up at the Big Lake. I didn't realise it, when Ruth and I took our walks around the Point all summer and autumn, we were passing his house. He gave us an update on the state of the roads up there.

At midday, the Chap and I had lunch together in the Dungeon cafeteria. One of his colleagues joined us. They headed back to the Senate hearing rooms and I escaped to the shops downtown and along my homeward route.

Another Big Schmooze tomorrow but I'm not naming names. (Not that I ever do, I only give the titles.)

Oh, @#$%. Double @#$%. Something's tromping around outside. And I haven't brought my bird feeders in for the night. Better see if it's the black bear paying a visit...has Lola gone so deaf she can't hear that noise?

How's that for a cliffhanger ending?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Colour of April...

... is yellow.

Today's daffodil display is brought to you by the King Alfred variety.

These, and the petite daffodils pictured in my previous posting are lighting up my front garden.

Last night I attended my town's Board of Selectmen's meeting. During the reports by department heads--Health Officer, Welfare Officer, Fire Chief, Police Chief, Road Agent--we heard about the incredible property- and soul-destroying damage throughout the town. FEMA has already made it's initial pass through the area to assess, and the Governor toured the disaster zones over the weekend.

This morning I tore myself away from the garden and drove to the capital--a tree is flowering on the State House lawn!--for a morning Caucus followed by two public hearings in my committee.

Our Chairman is very good about involving all committee members in the process--writing blurbs, drawing up amendments, chairing hearings. Last week he asked whether I wanted to preside over one of today's hearings. I didn't say I didn't want to.

So at 10:45, the time of the second hearing, he ceded his place--and his gavel--to me. I got accustomed to being addressed as "Madam Chair" and concentrated on banging the gavel with authority. The first speaker was a Senator, the primary sponsor, followed by a representative of the Fish & Game Department, then the head of the Audubon Society (a slight acquaintance, the Chap worked with him for a couple of years) and a gentleman from the Nature Conservancy.

In the back of my mind I was wondering--though I never actually asked--when a female last sat in the Fish & Game Committee's chairman's chair. If ever. Last term there were, I believe, 19 men and 1 woman on F&G. This term it's 18 and 2.

After we recessed, we took our wonderful, efficient, hard-working, patient Committee Assistant out to lunch. Lots of people had the fried clams, which were rather good. However, I shall not reveal where we ate so no feelings will be hurt when I say that the place features the worst créme brûlée ever conceived. When my female counterpart on the committee and I heard what flavour it was (we would be sharing one between us), we dithered. It sounded dodgy. Because it really was. It was not of a créme-y consistency, nor was the top the least bit brûlée.

I never actually believed there could be bad créme brûlée. Now I do.

"It's more like a pudding," said my friend just before I laid down my spoon in defeat. Not even a good pudding. I let her finish it off.

On a happier note, this unnamed establishment restaurant was conveniently situated next door to the tire company that services our vehicles. So I left my Saab there while lunching and by the time I walked back to pick it up the snow tires were off and the regular tires were on.

I hope I'm not tempting fate. It's so warm and sunny right now, snowfall is but a dim memory.

Unbelievably, after all the flooding of last week the fire danger is extremely high and brush fires are breaking out around the state.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spring Fever

Early this morning, while I was lying in bed resting my weary muscles, the Chap had an encounter with our resident snowshoe hares. They were in the backyard near the vegetable garden.

One was more camera-friendly than the other.

At my last sighting, both were pure white, scurrying across the snow. With the cange of season, they're turning brown.

Yesterday morning, as we headed off to church, I glanced at my messy front garden and predicted that we'd see daffodils blooming later in the day.

There was a service of Holy Baptism. Everyone was in spring attire, enjoying the warm weather. At the reception afterwards they were passing around the baby, so beautiful and well-behaved.

I'm more accustomed to cuddling dogs, as you know. This little sweetheart weighs less than Ruth and didn't wiggle at all.

Back at home, the Chap and I spent all afternoon outdoors. He messed about with automobiles, washing them till they gleamed and checking batteries and fluids and hauling out the regular tires so I can replace the snow tires.

I was labouring long and hard in my front garden--hot work. Luckily I found a way to keep my drink nice and cool! I stuck the cup--which I've had longer than I've had the Chap--in the Wonder Wall, the last pile of snow in the shadiest spot in front of our house.

By the end of the afternoon, I had tidied up all six quadrants of the front garden. Yes, I know, six quadrants is impossible...I'm being silly. Actually there are four very large sections and two smaller, triangle-shaped ones. All were littered with oak and beech leaves, which I cleared away--exposing all sorts of spring bulbs. Including the daffodils, which bloomed exactly as I prophesied.

I trimmed the all the lavender and my heather, which survived last year's transplanting.

So did my peonies. The one fact I know about peonies is that they hate, hate, hate to be moved. So it was with some trepidation last autumn that I decided I'd sited mine in the wrong place. Over the years the white one has reliably thrown out a couple of blossoms but hasn't enlarged; I've never seen a bloom on the red one since the day I put it in the ground. Their survival is the first achievement. If they actually bud I'll be over the moon!

One big job was pruning all 25 rose bushes in the big front garden. That's not even a third of the total collection, so there's much more pruning ahead.

The antique varieties were terribly overgrown and out of bounds--especially Double Blush Burnet (the earliest bloomer) and my three beloved gallicas, Charles de Mills, Rosa Mundi, and the Velvet Rose. I shaped them very nicely, if I do say so myself, and popped out lots of deadwood at the base of each plant--which should've been removed long ago.

Lastly, and most importantly, I installed the mesh deer barrier around the entire front garden. During autumn, I didn't dismantle it properly, which requires the painstaking removal of the mesh from the stakes. I simply pulled up the stakes and rolled the whole thing up and stored it in the garage intact. I expected much difficulty as a result of my laziness, but in fact the process of putting it back in place was quite easy--far easier than I probably deserved. My only frustration came when I whacked my left forefinger with the big mallet, not very hard. It barely broke the skin. The Chap was standing nearby, distracting me with an offer to do the job himself. He should know better.

Today's it's even warmer, and slightly breezy. Lola, Ruth, and Jewel spent all morning on the big deck, napping or watching chipmunks and squirrels till the sun reduced the size of the cool shadow pool they were lying in.

I'll probably work on another section of garden this afternoon--more leave removal, half-a-dozen more roses to prune. And now that the snow has completed receded from the back portion of the yard, plant the snow peas (mange-tout) I purchased on Saturday.

My next prediction of bloom is the forsythia: any day now. When the flowers fall off, I'll undertake a pruning project that involves a very, very tall ladder. The tiny shrub I put in the ground years ago is an immense tree!

A Governor's Office staffer just phoned to request my presence at a meeting this week. His Excellency is seeking my support for his education proposal--I'm still on the fence and may sit there for a while longer.

My arms should be well-muscled from all the raking, digging, and pruning and strong enough to withstand any twisting that might occur.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Where the Wild Things Are

This was Discover Wild NH Day, sponsored by the Fish & Game Department. I do believe half the people in the state were there, with their kids. The Chap took me.

The weather was spectacular--sunny and in the 70's. Everyone was so excited to be outdoors!

I wasn't the only celebrity in attendance.

I got up close and personal with a live falcon.

At the Falconers' display booth, I saw many, many more of these majestic birds, and their handlers.

This dog wears a badge because he's a department Search and Rescue dog.

We visited the Discovery Room to see the moose.

The Trappers Association had set up a wonderful outdoor woodland display of native furbearers.

A fisher and a black bear.

A red and a grey fox. I love that the taxidermist put smiles on their faces!

An ermine in a tree.

Also featured were an opossum, a beaver, a coyote, a bobcat, a raccoon, an otter, a pine marten. I took pictures of those, also.

As we wandered the grounds, we ran into some of my fellow legislators and committee members. I saw several of the people from the department and various wildlife or conservation or hunting or trapping groups who have testified before my committee.

We drove to the other side of town for lunch. I have now consumed the certified Best Roast Beef Sandwich in the State (2006) and the Best Onion Rings (2005).

Returning to our own habitat, we encountered other forms of wildlife.

After an energetic walk round the lake, I planted the pansies ("Persian Mixture") I'd bought on our way home. We settled on the screened porch for a beer (him) and cider (me), read the papers and the mail and listened to a trilling goldfinch and a chuckling robin attempt to converse. We don't know whether they understood one another, but it was wonderful music!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Better to Look Good....

I'm running out of time to comment on the race for President of France--Round 1 in the election is Sunday. While in general, I refrain from supporting candidates solely because of their gender, I do believe that's why I favour Ségolène Royal. I think she's cool. Unlike her, I'm no Socialist--not technically an option in my state. But we're talking about France, after all.

Being a fabulous babe doesn't qualify one to hold high office, but it definitely shouldn't be a bar. And because we're talking about France, remember, it doesn't matter if you co-habit with a man and have borne four children.

Since none of this affects me greatly, I can (and will) maintain as frivolous an attitude as I please. And whether or not I still hold political office then, I hope I look at least half as fab when I'm her age! She's, like, fifty-three.

Ségo is currently the president of Poitou-Charentes. As French régions go, it seems a fairly uncomplicated one to run. (Easy for me to say.) I last visited before she became its lovely leader, but my resident informants haven't indicated that she's wrecked the place.

Domicile of said informants.

I eagerly await the result of the balloting.

Here at the Lodge, wee Ruth is suffering a lack of companionship. The chipmunks are out and about, very active, probably hungry, so I've set up the feeding station. Jewel is now completely obsessed with the creatures, she will not take her eyes away from them. Won't play, can't nap, ignores me (unprecedented). Ruth seeks consolation from Lola, who just wants to sleep the day away, so I'm giving lots of cuddles.

This morning I heard the redwing blackbirds chattering from the edge of the lake. Sounds of springtime.

Busy few days ahead, which will include: dinner party, wild animals and fish, a baptism with celebration, putting a third vehicle on the road (the one that hibernates all winter because it's a pig in snow), walking the dogs round the lake, and as much gardening as I can fit into this hectic schedule.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Studies in Black and White



This morning's sunshine does a world of good. Not only has it teased open the crocus, it warms my soul. The news is no better, but my mood is bright.

I'm struggling to master my overwhelming urge to play outside, tidying gardens and getting my hands dirty. Why not? Because I've got an article to edit and a novel to write.... If I make good progress today, then I can indulge my competing desire tomorrow and all weekend long, if I wish.

But I shall take my laptop into the sunroom.


News Flash!

To stick with the colour theme of this post: What do you get if you mix black and white?

I've just seen the swift grey flash of a phoebe. It perched briefly on the fence post outside my office window, flicking "hello" with its tail.

Then I spotted another.

The male and female--perhaps our perennial nest-builders?

Checking my notes I find that in six out of the past twelve years, they've returned to us in this very week. I love their consistency!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wednesday's Child

Yes, I was born on a Wednesday. I've spent my lifetime living it down, turning my back on despair, embracing optimism, in contradiction of the rhyme proclaiming, "Wednesday's Child is full of woe." Yes, there's a more consoling, cheerful version, "Wednesday's Child knows no woe." But Wednesday's Children are all too aware that it's not the original, doleful version.

I've had an uncharacteristic and inconvenient attack of the Glooms today. Gloomy weather--grey and drizzly. Gloomy news--from Baghdad to Blacksburg, and within on a few miles of our Lodge. Gloomy pictures--our local disaster zone is all over the newspapers (which, with the repair to our road, have been delivered) and on the television.

The three towns of my legislative district are strung along a river, and anybody living near its banks was extremely vulnerable to a deluge like the one we've just experienced. This morning's paper is covered with graphic, full-colour photographs of places most people can't access or easily see. Rising water displaced many residents, caused property damage, forced evacuations. Some families were still repairing or rebuilding, or had just completed the process, from last year's Mother's Day Storm--and the damage from this one is even worse.

In one of "my" towns, the one in which I worship every Sunday, 60 people placed 9,000 sandbags around the riverdam--saving a business and residential district.

The state highway that carries us to the Big Lake is broken up in bits and chunks. We'd planned to check on our cottage this weekend, but that may not be possible.

I'm acknowleding these woes but will not wallow in them.

As a diversion for myself, to inform and enlighten others, I shall share a few positive and/or fun and/or hopeful things.

After last month's glowing, starred review of my cousin's debut novel, Publishers Weekly last week published a Q&A interview with the up-and-coming literary giant. It contains a slight inaccuracy: he didn't grow up in "West Virginia," rather "western Virginia".

When the local and national news is so heartbreaking, it's worth visiting Cheddarvision, direct from Shepton Mallet in Somerset. What's more calming--or hiliarious--or weird--than watching a hunk of cheese mature?

Melinda Doolittle was fun and feisty and utterly fantastic on last night's American Idol.

Stepping into my garden a few minutes ago, I confronted a tangible symbol of survival, a true sign of hope and promise and life.

If we get our predicted sunshine and warmth this weekend, my snow-battered, rain-drenched ever-reliable Early White Crocus will open! The pointy green fingers of late crocus are pushing up, my Thalia narcissus is budded to the max, and the tulips are now showing their leaves.

As comforts go, what's happening in my garden is a simple, small one. But I welcome it and am thankful.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Adventures in the Flood Zone

We received at least five inches of rainfall yesterday.

Our woods in the afternoon.

The Lodge is surrounded by a three-sided moat--four-sided, if you count the lake across the road. Water encroached, as it does during heavy spring rains, and though it came closer than ever before, it never got near the house.

About 8:30 last night we abruptly lost power. We assumed it was turned off by the public service company, because there was a report of a downed tree on some cables a few miles from here. After only half an hour of torch and candlelight, electricity was restored--two minutes before 24 started. We felt guilty about feeling so glad about the timing.

Because conditions elsewhere are dire. All around the state, tens of thousands are power-less, and will be for days. State highways have been closed.

This morning the Chap made it to his office and phoned a warning about hazards encountered en route. I needed to know--I was heading for the city myself, to testify at a public hearing for a bill I'm co-sponsoring.

Our little lake this morning, as I left the forest--my first view since the ice went out completely (sometime on Sunday.)

It's many, many feet above normal level, and our little beach is submerged. An improvement over yesterday, when it completely crossed over the entire road.

Farther on, I came to the places where half the roadbed washed away.

As I was leaving, a road crew was just beginning to shore up an even scarier section on the hill's decline.

The big 4-way intersection. Good thing I wasn't planning to go straight.

All across our little town, residents are stranded. The flow of water compromised at least two dams, destroying roadsbeds. Other tributaries of our local river jumped their banks, flowed over roadways, washed them out. The school is closed for a second day--the access road was closed yesterday, and the building is taking in water.

My public hearing was brief. Only three people testified--the primary sponsor of the bill, me (co-sponsor), and the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. (Who was having a crazy day, I'm sure, given the state of the state highways.) The bill, which already passed the Senate, is to name a traffic circle after two police officers killed on duty, as a memorial. One of these tragic incidents occurred in my own town, some years ago. The victim of the more recent tragedy, who left a wife and sons, was a native of my town--his parents and siblings live here and are my constituents. I had expected a few family members to appear. Those living in my area might not be able to get anywhere.

After a brief stop at the diocesan offices to play with one canon's puppy and eat another canon's birthday cake, I returned home.

All along the way I was awed by the dreadful majesty of the Merrimack and the Suncook Rivers. Crossing each bridge, I prayed it would hold firm.

By the time I reached my road, the work crew had repaired much of the gash pictured above.

I spotted a venerable tree, ripped in half by the high winds.

At the lake, where the little beach used to be, I met an oncoming car. My Good Samaritan instinct kicked in, and I pulled aside so it could first ford the stream flowing out of the lake.

After the other car passed by and I hit the gas pedal, I realised my front right tire was hopelessly mired in the soft mud at the edge of the badly compromised road. I was stuck. Shallow water was rushing on both sides of my vehicle--there was absolutely no danger, but the sound was worrying. It was raining and snowing at once.

I marched home (not a very long walk) to telephone the neighbour with the biggest truck--our snowplow man. He'd already seen my abandoned car because he was bringing in a load of rock to repair a place farther along the road where water had made a big, deep hole. And he knew I'm the one who got stuck because of my special State Rep plates. (When driving, I have no anonymity whatsoever.) He didn't seemed surprised by the call!

Quickly changing my Legislatrix attire for jeans, sweater, scarf, gloves, I walked back to the car where my local hero and his helper met me--not only with a pickup, but a big giant super huge truck. They attached a chain under my rear bumper and in 2 seconds I was out of the slop.

The heartbreaking situation at Virginia Tech (which I used to know as V.P.I.), in an area familiar to me, is utterly shocking. A sad background to these less deadly troubles closer to home.

And the rain is still falling.

Monday, April 16, 2007

From the Eye of the Storm

My title probably isn't at all accurate, isn't it calm within the storm's eye? Here, I'm surrounded by a mighty rage.

Yesterday we had morning rain and afternoon snow. The Chap took this photo of our pair of cardinals, who seldom strayed from the feeder.

As usual the girls had a blast, racing round their yard and play-fighting.

"Let's chase Lola!

About 4 inches of snow piled up before the rain and the powerful wind arrived, after dark. Nearly all the white stuff has washed away. Amazingly, no power outages here at the Lodge...yet. A few flickers this morning. A lot of scary gusts. Reportedly the gusts could be 50 or 60 mph.

The Chap arrived at his place of work right after an outage occurred all over the city. So they've sent him back home again. He should arrive at any moment.

I suppose I'll watch the Boston Marathon on telly, unless it's too unbearable seeing all those poor souls trudging through what looks and feels like a hurricane!

Hope you other bloggers in our Northeast region are all right thi morning--warm and safe and dry. And anybody else who was in this storm's long path.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Goats are Grand

Taking advantage of the wonderful weather, we attended the Open House at Jenness Farm.

I love goats.

Goats love me.

I think they must've sensed my experience with their kind. I had the privilege and pleasure of milking a pair of Nubian dairy goats twice a day--morning and evening--for several years. Their names were Marilyn and Suzie, and they were the dearest creatures. My family drank the milk, and we made cheese from it.

This one wanted to kiss me, too.

The sound of a quarter dropping into the goat chow machine brings the entire herd charging over.

Not sure why these guys were banished to the bog.

Isn't this a lovely goat? Hasn't she been busy? Check out the side of that barn.

The above specimen appears to be one of the rare Arapawa goats--the ones Captain Cook let loose in New Zealand. (If I saw them when I travelled there, I don't remember.)

Not a goat.

We went inside the shop, where a vast array of goat milk products and other items were on offer. Scented soaps, facial scrubs, insect repellent, goat cheese, jams, bath bombs, scented creams, lavender spray to freshen linens. (Items in boldface were purchased or tasted or sampled by me.)

The proprietor had to leave her till from time to time to check on a white nanny goat in labour in the barn. We saw the kids inside her, moving and kicking. But they hadn't pushed their way out by the time we departed, laden with goat products.

The afternoon was so sunny, warm, and mild that we kept driving. And shopping. We stopped at Red's Shoe Barn in Dover, where I bought a pair of white summer shoes and a pair of black sandals that will be extremely useful during the impending Nor'easter and blizzard/windstorm/flood due to arrive tomorrow. I found them on the clearance table, marked way, way down. And at check-out they took off an extra $5 per pair. Screamin' deal.

We continued our journey all the way into Berwick, Maine. Returning to the Granite State about fifteen minutes later, we fetched up at Newick's on Dover Point for fried clams, crabcakes, and onion rings. It was low tide, Great Bay was calm, the lobster buoys hardly moving.

Our final stop was the supermarket. We stocked up on fresh fruit and veg, plus stuff we can cook on the burners of the gas range if the wind knocks our electricity out.

At sunset the sky was pink and lilac.

After such a peaceful, gorgeous day, I can't believe what's about to happen, but we're taking all the dire warnings seriously. Filling the jacuzzi tub, filling plastic water jugs. Digging out the battery-operated radio. Keeping the flashlights close by.