"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, September 29, 2007

Harvests and Dogs

This morning the Chap had a diocesan meeting in Manchester. I dropped him off at the church and proceeded to a municipal park to photograph the Fall Mushroom Foray, one of several field trips offered by the college where I've been working.

It was a glorious day for being outdoors. Thirty-eight people had registered for the mushroom walk, and nearly all of them turned up. We set out into the woods.

People found mushrooms!

And identified them! Although there was some discussion about the difference between an "inedible" mushroom and a "poisonous" mushroom. The picture of the poisonous ones had a little skull and crossbones.

After I got some fun shots, I headed back to the church to retrieve the Chap. I met the Bishop on his way out and gave him another goodbye hug--the second in two days. (I saw him yesterday, after my lunch date with his Canon to the Ordinary.) He's off on sabbatical, starting Monday.

In the courtyard a Blessing of the Animals service was in progress. So I took photos of that, for the diocesan newspaper.

The dogs were wonderful! So well-behaved. So well-dressed!

We had lunch at our fave Mexican establishment. On the way home, we passed the pumpkin field. We've studied the progress of the crop every time we drive by.

Today, we stopped. Talk about a photo op!

Gunther the dog guards the gourds.

(I sent a Gunther photo to my editor at the local newspaper.)

We chose this one.

I'm always glad to support the agricultural enterprises in my constituency.

In our town, the apple tree beside the Congregational Church was a beautiful sight.
So we stopped again.

On arrival at the Lodge, we took the girls for a walk round our little lake.

They, too, deserved to make the most of this exquisite day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Eye Spy

My eyes are tired. They're really getting a workout these days.

For the past week, off and on, I've been wearing my new contact lens presciption in an initial trial pair (one week's wear). I'm switching to the multifocal type, and I absolutely love them. Tomorrow I'll pick up my second trial pair (one month's wear.)

And today I received my new specs. A very nice frame, different from the last but not too different. My eyes and brain must accustom themselves to this new prescription...so far so good after few hours.

A great improvement! I can make out the rapidly colouring leaves at the very tops of the trees. And the picture on the television looks like it's in 3-D!

Coming home this afternoon, I spotted a pair of deer, a young doe and her offspring--grazing the grass of a neighbour's front yard. I stopped the car to gaze--I could count every hair on their hides with these new specs. Plus, they were quite close to the car, and not very nervous because for quite some time they stood there staring back at me.

I had the camera on the car seat beside me, but was slow to reach for it, knowing any motion would startled them. And because I did, and it did, I captured a rather blurred photo of their retreat up the drive.

Ruth and Jewel are outside barking their heads off behind their fence, I suspect we've got deer in or near our own woods. Possibly the same pair.

The snowshoe hare has been a regular visitor at dusk.

In morning and early evening we hear pileated woodpeckers. Not only here at the Lodge, but up at the cottage as well.

With my awesome new vision, I should have no trouble spotting them among the trees.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Some images of the past several days here on the Big Lake.

The motorship passes by on Sunday morning.

Our freshly painted cottage is a glory to behold.

Autumn has only just arrived--officially--and already the front yard is filling with colour.

The weather has been magical, though excessively windy from Saturday night through Sunday night.

Yesterday the Chap departed, leaving four bitches (I include myself in the total!) in residence to enjoy the view and the solitude. Scarcely a boat passes by.

We returned from our walk a little while ago. As I sat on the porch sipping my wine, a floatplane flew low over the Bay and landed just out of my sight. I had the prospect of a fine shot of sunset with plane taking off--but the sun descends so quickly over the mountain these days that it didn't happen.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Deconstructing Compliments

Recently I attended an event event in my neighbourhood at which Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Presidential candidate John Edwards was a guest. Although I am committed to a different candidate, I admire this woman very much, and the Chap and I took advantage of the opportunity to hear and to meet her.

After her talk, filled with eloquence and detail and humour and pragmatism, she circulated around our friends' sitting room, shaking hands and exchanging comments with the guests--while her handlers waited somewhat impatiently to whisk her away.

Our turn came. As she shook my hand, I introduced myself as a member of the NH House of Representatives, and introduced the Chap. As she held my hand, she cried, "Oh, you're so pretty! And you have such wonderful skin."

I had three reactions.

1. I was disconcerted that her perception of my looks trumped my belief that we met on common ground, as two women involved in the political process and mutually dedicated to improving social policy.

2. I was flattered. I mean, I'm human. I'm female. 'Nuff said.

3. Here was proof--not that I needed any--that she's a Southerner. There we stood in a room full of undemonstrative New Englanders, and we're complimenting each other on how we look, not on what we've accomplished.

I spent many years Down South in a culture that placed a high premium on how a woman looks, what she's wearing, who does her hair, which cosmetics she uses. I'm not saying these aren't universal issues. But when I think about the past, I am swamped by memories of being constantly scrutinised, commented upon, criticised, and improved. By Southern women.

I'm also reminded of my years on the stage playing some of the great ingenue roles in dramatic literature. I'd put heart and soul and much study into the part, for weeks on end, until during dress rehearsal week, my appearance seemingly became more important than my performance.

I'd stand there under the lights while the director and costumer eyeballed me and exchanged opinions. About me. (Is it any wonder I'm so painfully self-conscious?)

"What colour is her hair?"

This was a perennial question coming from the other side of the footlights and as far as I could tell, the answer was always, "The wrong colour"--either too dark, too light, or not quite red enough. Could I dye it black, would I henna it? Yes. I dyed it black for the Court of Siam. (I acquired a boyfriend during the run of the show who, for some weeks had no idea that my natural colour was something very different.) I applied henna to impersonate a fiery redhead (think Katherine Hepburn.) I would do anything as long as it was semi-permanent and would wash away. But when cast as Cinderella, I flatly refused to go blonde. I was a Rogers and Hammerstein (Lesley Anne Warren) sort of Cinderella, not a Walt Disney one.

I never say never, but my very early experience with hair colour might be responsible for my lack of interest in concealing any strands of grey that might sprout in the coming years.

For another role I had high-waisted Regency gowns--and I needed to look a lot more bosomy than I was. So my director insisted that I wear falsies. (A woman director. I've never forgiven her.)

Incidents like the abovementioned were partly responsible for my desire to abandon the theatre--where people told me where to stand, how to speak, and what colour to dye my hair--for film and television production. Where I was ensured of at least some measure of authority and control. Ditto for my eventual writing career.

Here are some thoughts on compliments.

If anyone expresses a positive opinion of one of my novels, or say it was an enjoyable/entertaining/good read, I'm delighted. I put a lot of hard work--years of it, in some cases--into creating and refining the product. If I give a workshop and a participant tells me it was valuable, I'm glad and glad to hear it. Again, this is the result of significant planning and effort on my part.

But when somebody compliments my looks, I find myself at a loss. I do, of course, promptly say "thank you" as my mother taught me to. I'm glad my appearance doesn't offend--especially after all those years of intense scrutiny. But for the most part when preparing to meet the world I do no more than clip my hair back and put on some make-up, which efforts I regard as a public service.

It was pounded into my brain from an early age that "Pretty is as pretty does"--by people who seemed to expect me to look really, really wonderful.

Since then I've found that it's a lot more productive and rewarding to focus on the "doing pretty," which I can control, more than the "being pretty," which--basic grooming aside--is purely the result of genetics.

When I was in my teens, and had to get all spiffed up for a party or a formal occasion (a debutante ball, a military ball, a hunt ball), and I presented myself to the parents for inspection, my father always offered the same compliment: "You look just like Hedy Lamarr." It was the pinnacle of commendation.

Back then, I knew only that Hedy Lamarr was a movie actress who had clearly impressed my dad. He definitely has a thing for beautiful brunettes with large, dark eyes and delicate features. Hedy took second place in his heart on the December night his appreciative eye fell on my mother.

Later, when I was in college, spending time with hard core movie fans (not fans of hard core movies, I hasten to add), hanging out at the funky downtown vintage movie cinema, I discovered that Hedy Lamarr's early fame derived from her appearance in Ecstasy, a German film, in which she appears nude--the most notoriously erotic film of its day. As a graduate student studying film, I had to watch Ecstasy.

A few years after that, as a novelist working from home, I sometimes spent my writing breaks watching old movies on the Turner Classics channel. At that time, and sometimes still, TCM celebrated an actor's or actress's birthday by screening several or many of their films in a row.

Whenever Hedy came up in the rotation, I lost an entire working day.

Previously I had regarded Vivien Leigh as the most beautiful female in filmdom. I knew everything there was to know about her. I needed to know more about the sublimely glamourous Hedy, my dad's favourite film star.

(Who looks not at all like me.)

I discovered she was incisively witty. Her most famous quote resonated with me: "Any girl can be glamorous, all you have to do is stand still and look stupid." (I would only add, "And wear falsies and dye your hair.")

Pursuing biographical facts, I learned that she was positively brilliant. She was a co-inventor of the frequency-hopping spread spectrum, and made it available to the government in order to defeat Hitler.

She was a co-patentee for her discovery, utilised by the military for warfare applications. It even enabled Bluetooth technology. (Don't ask me how.)

She was a humanitarian and visionary.

Hedy became my heroine for reasons that had nothing to do with the way she looked.

Whenever the Chap and I are getting ready to go out and I ask him how I look, he never invokes Hedy Lamarr. He always says, "You look cute."

Cute? Puppies with floppy ears are cute. Shirley Temple is cute. Kittens dressed in doll clothes are cute. I own shoes that are cute. After (mumble mumble) years of wedlock, I'm finally learning not to even ask.

It's incongruous, thinking about beauty and cuteness and female objectification as I sit here beside the Big Lake, my hair in a tangle and my face bare of cosmetics. I wish the misguided folk who have, over the years, referred to me as a "Georgia Peach" or an "English Rose" can't could see me now!

I'm spending this day dressed like a hobo, reading and writing and generally striving to "do pretty" instead of be pretty. That way lies all hope of happiness and contentment.

Hedy would understand.

And so, I could tell, does Elizabeth Edwards.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pirate Talk

That's meant to be Johnny Depp, in cookie form. A work of art, eh, me hearties?

Yesterday in morning and evening when the Chap and I were together--when we remembered to--we sort of observed Talk Like a Pirate Day. Life at present is so impossibly hectic that such silliness is very welcome.

To celebrate, we enjoyed the odd yet tasty pirate cookies that I'd purchased in advance, as a surprise.

Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum.

A bottle of anything sounds tempting at the moment but I'm not able to imbibe. In the early morn I'm having one of those blood tests for which they make you stop eating and drinking after 9 p.m. Having blood drawn, whether from a finger prick or a vein in my arm used to make me faint, but in my maturity I've got quite stoic and oh, so brave.

Just like a pirate.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Got it! Love it!

I arrived at Borders bright and early this morning--9:15. The disc was on sale, plus I used my $5 off Rewards certificate, so got major savings on what was already an auto-buy.

It's terrific. A continuation of his journey through roots-y folky territory. His rockin' days appear to be behind him, but I've got the entire Dire Straits catalogue and all his solo stuff, so I know where to find the heavy duty stuff when I want it.

The tune Madam Geveva's pushed all my buttons. I could swear I recognise it from years of studying 17th and 18th-century street ballads...but apparently not, as all the songs are MK originals. Well done!

Within a one hour interval today I had occasion to drive three of our four motorcars. This feat was neither normal, nor natural, but rather so extremely weird that I felt it worth mentioning.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Gifts and an award

Yesterday--so clear, so bright, so crisp--was truly a gift, an award in and of itself. And it was a gift that I could spend so much of the perfect day on and around the Big Lake.

I'd been invited to attend an annual business meeting of an organisation that interacts with the Fish and Game Committee, held at Owl Brook in Holderness, near the Squam Lakes.

On the way there, I stopped at the cottage on the Big Lake. As I came to the tip of our Bay, I spotted the big white boat heading to its dock.

I went to the cottage to check on the progress of the house painting. All of the outside is finished--siding, doors, window frames--with only the porch and window screens and screened doors to be completed. The entire job should be finished by week's end, meaning the girls and I can move back in, and the Chap can join us at weekends, as we did most of the summer.

I love all that shiny new paint! The place was gleaming in the sun!

While I was lunching on yogurt on our temporarily screenless porch, the big white boat passed by, heading north. So of course I raced down to the dock to get the iconic photograph.

When I finished admiring all that fresh paint, I made my merry way up the west side of the lake. Lots of sailboats just off the shore. On my approach to Meredith Bay I realised that the big white boat and I were in a race. I shot this photo just before overtaking it.

I won--reached Meredith first--and continued past Squam Lake to Holderness and Owl Brook.

The meeting was very interesting. I saw people I'd met during the legislative session, heard about legislation the NHTA will be pursuing, their plans for the annual banquet, and other business.

Then they had an awards presentation. Greatly to my astonishment, I received an award placque for "dedication to the scientific management of furbearing animals and the support of our trapping heritage." Don't know that I'm deserving of the recognition, but I'm certainly greatly honoured and grateful.

One of the nicest aspects of my day near the water was the near absence of traffic on a Sunday afternoon. Summer's over, plus it was a NASCAR race weekend and everyone was either at the Speedway or glued to their telly, and it's early for leaf-peeping. (The foliage up there was less advanced than I expected. But the prognosticators are predicting an extremely colourful season.)

There's a spot on Route 3 descending a hill, almost at Paugus Bay in Meredith, where, for a few seconds, the most amazing vista of blue water, green islands and mountains, blue skies and white clouds opens up. Spectacular. And within an instant, it's gone.

I pulled over at the Scenic View point directly across from our house.

Spotting the flag atop our boathouse, I zoomed in.

When I arrived home, I showed the Chap and the girls my very impressive acquisition.

After a delicious caipirihna (Brazil) I made gratin dauphinoise (France) which turned out very well indeed, and we ate it with sliced giant tomatoes (New Hampshire), gifts from our priest's garden.

Today is an exact copy of yesterday. I'll spend my afternoon on the screened porch here at the Lodge, writing.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Restorations and an Acquisition

Early in the summer, I delivered two beloved family heirlooms to the furniture upholsterer-refinisher: a small rocking chair that belonged to a great-great grandmother, and a footstool that was also hers. Or her mother's. Or a different great-great grandmother. (Obviously I need a more detailed provenance.)

The rocker has particular historic significance and is destined for the offical Museum of MEP, in the highly unlikely event that one is ever established.

When I was a newborn, my mother nursed and rocked me in it. After it ceased to be useful, it languished in my family's barn and was passed along to me during my grad school years when I needed to furnish an apartment. It accompanied me on subsequent cross-country moves--to Colorado, to New Hampshire--despite being banged-up and dog-chewed with severe upholstery issues. It was inevitably consigned to the attic or cellar, kept out of sight. But I wasn't about to get rid of it.

A couple of years ago when the footstool was offered to me--in a parlous state of decay--I eagerly adopted it.

I had a Vision.

Yesterday, when I picked up both items, and saw my vision made real, I was nearly moved to tears.

Oh, the magnificence!

The rocker was made for tiny, small-boned Victorian women. I'm not as little as my great-great grandmother, but her chair is perfectly sized for me, and is more comfortable than ever. The perfect laptop writing chair.

I expect to soon be doing something else in my refurbished rocking chair....

I used to be a musician. Instruments I've played in the very distant past include: the recorder, the violin, the dulcimer, the autoharp, the piano, the 6-string guitar, and 12-string guitar. For a very long time, I haven't played anything, though I do still have the dulcimer and the 12-string guitar.

For several years I've said I wanted to learn the mandolin. I'm now about to make good on that threat.

This arrived yesterday:

It's a super-cheapo A-style mandolin, suitable for a beginner.

I've found an instructor and plan to start lessons next month, as soon as my temporary part-time employment at the college concludes.

The Program Director has already begun interviewing for her new staffer...a most welcome development.

Excuse me while I leave the computer for a soothing session of chair rocking....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I know, it's been a blog-less week so far, and not by choice.

On Sunday we were entertaining up at the cottage on the Big Lake. It was a grey, damp, drizzly sort of day, but the magnificent feast that accompanied the grilled salmon steaks warmed us. As did all the company.

One of the many photographers in the family caught me hugging the grillmeister.

I spent Monday trapped at the Lodge with workmen: two new furnace installers, one old furnace removal assistant, and two water filtration system servicemen. Amazingly, I got some writing done but nothing terribly literary or novelistic, just a couple of articles.

My legislative committee met on Tuesday morning for an extensive, fascinating, and informative presentation (Power Point) on Search and Rescue Teams and their work. We heard about good outcomes, and sad ones. After lunch break we reviewed two retained bills. An Executive Session will be convened to dispose of them in coming weeks.

At mid-afternoon I raced through the rain to my college office, where class registration is in full swing. I worked till after 6 p.m.

In my car this week I'm listening to Mark Knopfler's last album, Shangri La, which helps me cope with the almost unbearable anticipation of his next, due in stores on Tuesday.

I had no time to dwell on the September 11 anniversary, except in the morning when I was a bit weepy. The second worst day of my life. Read all about it here because I blogged it last year. (I can't actually remember the very worst day of my life, only the incidents afterwards, I was very young.)

Today's weather was eerily 9/11/01-ish. So clear, sky so blue and cloudless, air a bit crisp. Spent all day at the office, left at 5 p.m., ran errands and was home at 6:30. The Chap had already left for his Planning Board meeint.

Arrived to find my ludicrously expensive special order perfume waiting, the one I discovered on the scented magazine insert a couple of weeks ago. Is it worth the price? I'm so enraptured, I don't care. For decales I've been sticking with my British favourites (from Floris, from Penhaligon's), so it's nice having something new. Nowadays so many people are allergic to scents that I hardly ever wear any when out in public. It may serve as a private indulgence. Mostly.

Speaking of ludicrous, must share this classified ad from a local newspaper.

Free to good home, extremely loving and affectionate 6 year old male black Irish wolfhound/Terrier mix, great with other dogs.

I'm not seeking a fourth dog (seriously!). But I have enjoyed speculating on how its parents got together. Wolfhound and terrier? They're at opposite ends of the dog size spectrum.

Ah, romance. It has the power to overcome all obstacles. To transcend differences in breed. And physique.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sixteen Wheels

That's how many we've got now.

Not counting a set of winter snow tires with rims for my car, which increases the whopping total to twenty wheels!

No wait--with each spare tire, that means twenty-four wheels!

Because the Chap bought another car this afternoon, a Subaru with All Wheel Drive. Our two Saabs are front-wheel drive, my Saab does better than his does in wintry weather (not only because of the snow tires). So, to better enable his commute to the office, he wanted AWD.

The acquisition of said vechicle took us to a part of the state we rarely visit--practically never. Maybe once or twice before. We were last there about fifteen years ago, to decide whether we'd like living in that area. But it's a lot farther from the Big Lake than the Lodge is.

Still, it's perfectly nice--open spaces and woodlands, lots of farmland--right now they are very dry cornfields, farms of wilting vegetables, ripening pumpkin fields, and dusty corn mazes. Also rivers (without much water at the moment)and some pleasant hilly country with shady lanes on ridge tops.

The people from whom we bought the car have a lovely circa 1760 house in an extremely pleasant location. We were all simpatico, they know one of my fellow freshmen legislators.

Each in our own vehicle, the Chap and I came home along the back byways ... interesting, dark names on some of the road signs, right out of Stephen King. Purgatory Hill. Blood Road. We didn't dare follow those.

Just now I phoned my parents to say and sing "Happy Anniversary!" It's their 51st. I was not born till they had been married for a while.

One of my friends in the House of Representatives greeted me on Thursday by asking, "How are my friends Lola and Ruth and Jewel?" I like people who know my dogs by name, even if they've never met. He asked me if we wanted a fourth dog, and described a tempting one--black and white male, 2 years old--at his local ASPCA shelter.

"If I adopted a fourth dog," I answered, "I'd lose one husband."

The Representative laughed, then handed me a plastic bag filled with dog bones.

The girls are thrilled to have the treats--a different brand than we serve at home.

Lola proves that they're good to the last crumb!

My Chap has drawn the line at three dogs. But I'm letting him have four cars.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

In Which I Cause a Capital City Scandal

Another half-day at the State House for some partisan, majority party activity: a presentation by a pollster on the advantages and challenges facing our party, an agenda-setting session, lunch.

I couldn't stay for the full menu of activities. My office was hosting its third and final Fall Preview of courses, and I needed to be there with my camera and the rest of me. So I left the Legislative Office Building right after the lunch.

It's about ten minutes from the Capital to the college, depending on how the traffic lights play out. At a major intersection where I was turning left at the light, I spotted a familiar car on the other side of the intersection, about to turn right.

The car lives in my garage. The driver was my spouse.

We ended up in parallel lanes, heading in the same direction. I tapped my horn several times as I navigated my way beside him, then waved and smiled. We proceeded to the next big intersection, on the other side of the interstate overpass.

We had to stop for a red light. There was lots of traffic, but we were still in view of each other.

My destination was just over the hill. He was turning left, taking his favourite short cut to his office.

Succumbing to impulse, I lowered my window and stuck out my head and started blowing kisses at him. A lot of kisses. Repeatedly.

The light changed. We both drove continued in our respective directions.

I came to a place where two lanes merged and glanced in my rearview mirror to check whether the car behind was about to squeeze in ahead of me.

Its occupants were laughing. Probably at me--at the spectacle they'd just witnessed. I'm guessing lots of other drivers noticed, too.

That's when I remembered that my car has special House member licence plates, imprinted with my seat number in Representatives Hall. I have no anonymity.

I'm not exactly expecting to see the headline State Rep Spotted Blowing Kisses at Motorists in the morning paper. Those Capital Beat reporters work their territory quite diligently but it's unlikely they were hanging out on Manchester Street this afternoon, on the off chance that a passing office-holder would make a spectacle of herself.

We had very good attendance at the Fall Preview for the upcoming semester. There was loads to do afterwards, so I stayed at the office till 6:00. When I got home, the Chap had everything ready for me to make green chile chicken burritos. Which were fantastic, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

My 20-hour Disease

On Friday I had a routine annual medical test. The results, which of course I hoped to be an "all clear" were expected sometime this week, by letter. This being a week with a Monday holiday, I tried not to obsess.

Yesterday was hectic. Busy day at my temporary office job. Later, at a diocesan committee meeting, where we mourned the sad, sudden loss of our friend and fellow committee member, the fine and inspiring priest who died so very recently.

I returned home at 6 p.m. The Chap said there was a message from the medical office. I was supposed to call them. Late as it was, I tried. Someone was there, but not the person who called me. I left a voice mail saying when I could be reached at home this morning.

Being cursed with an imagination, my brain went into overdrive. Tests Friday, phone call Tuesday--as soon as the tests were read. Something had to be Very Wrong.

I could hardly taste my supper. I tried to distract myself with a light novel and a grim television show. It was almost impossible to focus. I was preparing myself for a Different sort of life, one that incorporated a Disease.

I've been blessed with good health. Every couple of years I get a cold. I've only had the flu once as an adult, and once as a teenager. As for surgery, I'm a stranger to it, apart from a series of plastic surgeries when I was two, three years old. (Therefore I must answer "Yes" if ever anybody should ask if I've had "work done". I got it out of the way early, and trust me, it wasn't voluntary.) I've got all my useless parts--tonsils, appendix. The only thing missing is four wisdom teeth.

Confronted with a possible fearsome change in my health history, I tried to be calm. No, I forced myself to be. Whatever happened, I could deal with it. My parents had raised me to be strong and brave. My husband would support me. My dogs needed me.

I actually slept the night through. Woke up once or twice, but went back to sleep after the necessary worry session.

As soon as the medical office opened, I rang the person who'd phoned yesterday. She explained the purpose of her call, said I needed a follow-up. I asked if an appointment might be available today. She had a one o'clock.

Bizarrely, in the midst of this angst, I had to attend a rare out-of-session Legislative session to deal with the governor's vetoes and a technical correction to the state budget. On the one hand, I wasn't in the mood. And yet I didn't really mind having someplace to go, something to do.

The session was the strangest one yet. We sustained one veto and waited, waited, waited for the Senate to do something. The Speaker dismissed us for lunch. I left the chamber, knowing I wouldn't be able to return because of my appointment.

In the medical office waiting room, I was speed-reading home decorating magazines and wishing the music they played could drown out the thump-thump of my heart.

When they called me into the exam room, I was only shaking on the inside. I was funny--made the technician laugh several times.

The second tests were done and I awaited my fate while reading another home decorating magazine. Then Oprah's magazine.

By the time the tech returned, I'd made my mental list: update my will, finish my novel, tell my husband how much I love him, phone my parents.

"You're fine. Everything's normal." She handed me a paper and showed me where those latter two words were printed.

It was 2:00. My disease was cured. (The one that had only existed in my head.)

In the car, I babbled some incoherent thankful prayers. I wrapped my hands around the steering wheel, and wondered for a moment if I'd be able to drive. I was weak with relief. At some point I remembered to phone the Chap's cell phone.

Driving out of the vast medical complex, I was preoccupied with two things.

First, I vowed to fulfill my mental list anyway, because everything on it was so important: update my will, finish my novel, tell my husband how much I love him, phone my parents (not to break bad news!)

Second, I thought about all the unknown people who would receive confirmation of their disease on this same day. Oh, how I prayed for them--prayers of support, for strength, for successful treatments and outcomes.

Next thing I knew I was pulling into the car park of the college where my office is located. I entered the building. I sat down at my desk. I resumed my work.

Friends, if you feel inclined to say to me, "So glad you had good news!" or "Gosh, how lucky you are!" or anything in that vein, I ask that you join me in thinking good thoughts on behalf of all those people who weren't me today.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Dog Lover

On Saturday the Chap and I went to the airport and picked up my sisters-in-law. Then we made them eat Mexican food at our favourite restaurant. (We didn't have to force them, they were perfectly willing.)

On Sunday, we went to church, came home, loaded the car with dogs, dog toys, a comfy bed for Lola, a few bratwurst, several beers and a couple of hard ciders and drove to the cottage on the Big Lake.

Nancy is a dog lover. She borrowed my camera to photograph Lola...

...and Jewel, whose new kerchief came from Qu├ębec and features the Canadian $1000 note. It has the Queen's head all over it. that's why her pose is so regal and queenly.

Nancy also gave Ruth flying lessons in the kitchen.

It was a gorgeous day and we had a wonderful cookout--grilled vegetables (potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, portobello mushrooms), bratwurst (meaty ones and vegetarian ones), asparagus, fresh sliced tomatoes, and carrot cake (icing made by me).

All night long the Chap and his sister played a dice game while Nancy and I cuddled young dogs on the sofa and Lola watched from her cushion-y bed.

Today, as gorgeous as yesterday, we spent at the Lodge. I finished re-reading an old novel I hadn't read since I was a teenager--one of those very influential books that, years ago, convinced me that I wanted to be a writer of historical novels (and other things).

How did it hold up, after all these years?

I'm am utterly humbled. But oh, so inspired--all over again.