"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

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tartan Day

Today in the House of Representatives we had the annual celebration of the tartan and things Scottish.

So this morning I wrapped myself in the ancient McCallum plaid. I also wore the Highland cow pin I bought in some shop near my ancestral area on the Kintyre Peninsula. He wanted to be a part of the festivities.

On arrival at the State House, my first stop was the Executive Council chamber, where the Governor was hosting a "hearty breakfast buffet" for legislators. Hearty indeed--scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, danish, fresh fruit, orange juice, and coffee. (Items consumed by me are in boldface.)

His Excellency the Governor wandered over to where I chatted with some fellow reps and schmoozed. He asked how things were going in our towns. I said something inane about the roads being muddy and rutted. But maybe it wasn't so lame--I wasn't implying he should be doing something about it. The Executive Branch isn't responsible for maintaining rural unpaved roads. I could've whinged about our Selectmen, who are at each others' throats, as usual, but that's a real downer so I refrained. I did remember to thank him for the hearty breakfast.

We saw him later at our party Caucus (he encouraged us to pass the budget bills) and again when he came into Representatives Hall for the Tartan Day observations (by which time he'd changed his red tie for a tartan one!) Members wearing tartan were asked to stand up. Persons who didn't wear a family tartan (the Speaker, the Clerk, various others) sported our offical state tartan.

Here,waiting in the anteroom, are young dancers from the School of Scottish Arts.

A young bagpiper piped them into the Hall.

They performed a Highland Fling in the aisles.

After they were piped out, it was time for business. Big businesss--voting on the budget for the entire state for the next biennium. We polished off House Bill 1 in an hour and a half, broke for lunch, returned for House Bill 2, the "trailer bill" with the built-in funding. There were 8 floor amendments, but after passing the recommended committee amendment, about half the other ones got shot down and the rest were never brought forward. We then had a bunch of voice votes, plus a roll call on the big Public Works & Transportation Bill (more budget), more voice and roll call and division votes. Then we were finished.

And we had to be, because this was Crossover Day, the deadline to act on all House Bills.

We probably won't have another Session Day this month.

After recessing, we headed en masse to the Historical Society party room (where I saw Senator Obama last week) for a reception hosted by the Automobile Dealers' Association. Like the breakfast, so many hours earlier, it was a "hearty" spread. There was a raffle, too--I'm not sure what they were raffling off, but I assume the prizes weren't cars. That would be a violation of the ethics rules.

It was a huge crowd, very noisy. I'm not terribly good at mingling in such a big group, I prefer real conversations--and managed a few with some of the majority leadership.

I was imbibing straight cranberry juice on the rocks, with a twist of lime, and therefore was perfectly sober when, exiting the hall, I brushed against the big sign perched on an easel and sent it tumbling to the floor. I blame fatigue--it was a long day. Some men hastened to my rescue, righting the easel and replacing the sign. So much for an unobtrusive withdrawal.

From what I observed later, sitting on the front steps chatting with another rep from the far west of the state, and gazing towards the windows all day long, and driving home at half-past six, this was a crisp, sunny, blue-sky day.

Incredibly, not one but two snowstorms are reportedly bearing down upon us. One is due late tonight or tomorrow. (If my Diocesan Council meeting gets cancelled, I won't have to venture out.) The other will arrive Monday or Tuesday.

For some reason, April is delivering March weather. My budding early crocuses are going to get buried again before they have a chance to bloom.

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