"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, January 30, 2008

Going Too Fast?

After intense and instructive debate, the boating speed limit bill on Lake Winnipesaukee passed in the House, 236-111. This legislation imposes a 45 mph. limit during the day and 25 mph. at night, and the law sunsets after two years. Similar bills have, I believe, previously passed in the House but never made it out of the Senate--but there's a very different Senate now.

Never, in my experience, has a bill inspired such volumes of email, in favour and in opposition.

The competing interests, as expressed in emails, are the speed demon boaters who like zipping about the lake at extreme speeds in their high-powered cigarette boats, bass boats, etc. with no regard for anybody else, pitted against the old-timers, the owners of waterfront properties who have been on the lake for generations (guilty!) and hate all the noisy boat traffic and wish the lake could be peaceful and pleasant as it is in their memories, from childhood, or in grandpa's (great- or great-great grandpa's) day.

While there is truth and (perhaps) distortion in the tales told by both sides, the situation has got worse, and at times is quite dangerous. Other states in the Northeast have boating speed limits, have had for quite some time...that's at least partly why all the fast boat people converge on our Big Lake.

As for my instensely personal connection to the lake in question...of course it informs my own vote. That said, I didn't speak in favour, nor did I lobby my colleagues, and I rarely talked about it with anyone. I lived in silent hope. Because during my many years on our narrow, heavily-trafficked Bay, I've witnessed and experienced all the problems that the opposition claim rarely occur. As well as a few truly appalling scenarios that were never even voiced by the bill's supporters.

However, I have a fairly low tolerance for the personal anecdote/personal experience style of debating. At times it can be extremely effective (and indeed it was today, regarding a bill on end-of-life medical directives) but usually it carries very little weight. So I kept my mouth shut.

At the start of the debate, I will confess, there came a moment when I was bursting with--well, amused indignation. My good (and brave) neighbour on the Bay, Mr. Minority Leader, was the first to rise in opposition to the bill. He expressed himself quite effectively and though we feel very differently about a speed limit I respect his position and I well know we share a deep love of that lake and lakeside living.

When discounting any dangers to canoeists, kayakers, and swimmers, he mentioned the fact that he's a rower, and goes out on the waters daily, at all seasons, when ice is out, to scull.

It was that remark that nearly sent me to the podium. I'm too polite to interject a "Gotcha!" question. But here's what I would've asked the honourable gentleman:

"Is it not true, sir, that you do your sculling at five o'clock in the morning? When there's absolutely no motor- or powerboat traffic in the Bay? And thus no hazard to life and limb?"

How do I know this? One day last spring or summer, he came up to me in the Reps Hall anteroom or a corridor and commented, "I never see you out on your dock when I row past."

"If I'm not here, I'm there. When do pass by our place?"

"Five a.m."

I believe him, though I never had visible proof. I did sometimes emerge from the cottage at that hour (though more usually at 6 a.m.), to lead my trio of canines outside for their early morning squat.

I know for sure that I've never seen the honorable gentleman sculling on weekends in July and August. When the boat noise is so loud it makes my dogs bark and the shoreline wake disturbs the (very large) rocks holding the hillside in place and I fret over the neighbour kids on their floats or inner tubes if they venture to far out in the "shipping lanes" and I fume to see show-offs on jet skis deliberately over-running my beloved loon. We definitely have laws against harassing wildlife, but how can you report somebody who isn't even there within a minute of committing the offence?

Sorry. End of my NIMFY (Not in My Front Yard) rant. Clearly I've been keeping my mouth shut too long!

Anyway, the bill next goes to the Senators and I wish them joy of it. They'll get an avalanche of emails, that much I know. Maybe even from me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


My legislative committee met this morning in Executive Session. We "exec'ed" six bills in rapid succession, finishing our task in 70 minutes. Unanimity prevailed, except in one instance when the vote was 13-2.

One of the reporting subcommittees was dealing with permissable caliber of pistol bullets for the taking of game. We had a show and tell with some shell casings, of which the photo below is a reasonable facsimile:

On my way across Main Street, I directed a glance towards the building upon which the Concord web cam is located. It hasn't been operational recently and I don't know why. I've never successfully spotted the webcam.

In the course of my homeward journey I stopped to purchase some upholstery fabric and hard cider. Never fear, I shan't be imbibing and upholstering at the same time. I rely on professionals to make my cushion covers!

I left the big giant red ball in the dogs' play-yard in my absence. While I was out, it moved! This encourages the belief that Somebody played with it. Perhaps two Somebodies!

After catching up on my voluminous legislative email (I predict a sharp decline within 24 hours) I expected to spend the afternoon hard at work. The Gods of the Internets prevented this by invading my browser, altogether disabling my access to the web (horrors!), forcing me to seek a tech support remedy (ha! no such thing). There followed much huffing and cursing and self-troubleshooting followed by an uninstall...resulting in success (ha! ha!).

Now the evening draws nigh. All I've accomplished during a full and free afternoon: solving a problem that prevented my doing what I should've been doing all along.

It happens that the Chap has 2 board meetings back-to-back this evening so I don't have to do a proper meal or be sociable. Perhaps I'll manage some work on the ms. since I couldn't/didn't this afternoon.

I very much fear that there may be another mandolin in my future. Having already discovered I'm not immune to the dreaded Mandolin Acquisition Syndrome (MAS) I had a good chat with my instructor last week. He talked me down, a little bit. But I'm still craving. And I haven't a good history of successfully suppressing my cravings.

Besides, we all know the President wants us to go out and Buy Stuff and is reportedly sending us some $$$ with which to get all spendy. As I haven't got any debts to pay off, I suppose I might oblige him. Time will tell. Knowing me, the purchase will be made long, long before that Government check arrives.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snowy Sunday

I don't remember Mr. Weatherman telling us that it would snow all day. We did watch the forecast last night...though I admit I might have been preoccupied with the South Carolina Dems Primary outcome. Enough flakes had fallen by breakfast time to result in a couple/few inches. It's very dry snow, a broom could brush it away. Total accumulation is around 4 inches or more, and our trusty snowplow operator came by to clean the driveways.

The fresh coating has "prettied up" the landscape.

Once home from church, I continued my mandolin hymn project. This time I used the 1982 Hymnal which has much the same music as the other, older version, but also a few different pieces (700 hymns, plus service music.)

My fingers ache after another 2 & 1/2 to 3 hours of practice. I don't care. I can still type.

A pair of Scentimental rose trees that summered on the big deck are indoors for the winter. I intended for them to go into a guest bedroom with the Sweetheart Rose that winters there but after we returned from London I somehow never got round to moving the huge and heavy pots--I can't manage them on my own and I'm always forgetting to ask the Chap to help me. Now with longer days (!) there's even more sunlight in their very sunny present location. As a result, they're suddenly leafy and leggy and throwing out buds!

A moment ago I was checking out my blogroll and about the time I got to Jim I wound up with 37 pounds of canine in my lap.

I'm not sure whether Jewel wanted to be my co-blogger this afternoon, or whether she was trying to get my attention as suppertime drew near. Possibly she wanted a closer view of the photos of my great- and great-great grandmothers and the aromatherapy vials atop my hard drive.

Hard to know what a dog is thinking.

My last dream of the morning was about dogs. I dreamt we had our three, plus two other very nice black-and-white ones who preferred living in the fenced backyard all the time. About all I remember of the dream was going outside with Lola, Jewel and Ruth, and pleading with the other pair to come on inside.

When I told the Chap about it, he obviously thought it was a nightmare. I had to assure him of my certainty that it wasn't prophetic.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Humming & Hymning

Strange Saturday. Good strange.

Slept late. In the a.m. listened to the radio--Boston's WBUR
cause NHPR was concluding the winter beg-a-thon (and giving away Super Bowl tix). We're paid up members, so leave us alone, already.

During WWDTM I tried to interest the girls in the big giant red ball I bought for them at great expence yesterday. When I first brought it home they were very interested but today they preferred napping to ball-chasing.

Giving up, I next baked a batch of oatmeal/cranberry/chocolate chip cookies for tomorrow's Annual Meeting at our parish. The Vestry is resonsible for goodies and I'm Mrs. Senior Warden--the Chap took care of his contribution all on his own but I'm adding a little something sweet to the mix.

While baking, I listened to Knopfler's amazing Kill to Get Crimson.

I also trimmed up a pair of ivy topiaries, which were sadly misshapen through neglect. A heart-shaped one grew from cuttings I took on the Isle of Man many years ago--I think in the front garden of my friend's house. The cone-shaped one came from cuttings from an acestral churchyard in Suffolk. I then washed the leaves of the other heart-shaped one made from ivy I snipped at Versailles, growing round Marie Antoinette's little summerhouse.

About 2 o'clock I sat down to practice the mandolin. Instead of going through my lesson book, I grabbed a (very dusty) old Hymnal--not the revised, current Hymnal, but the version we used back in the days when I sang in the junior choir.

I went through it hunting up all the favourite hymns, especially ones familiar from my youth that aren't usually sung in our parish. And I played them. I stuck a marker in the place of each one. There are 600 hymns in that Hymnal, not counting the chants and service music, like the Gloria.

Four hours later--yes, really--when I stopped, my fingertips were raw and the Hymnal looked like this.

I used a lot of markers. They sort of blend together in the picture.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Spilling my heart

The tilapia was fabulous...we couldn't have been more pleased. It looked beautiful too, but I was so eager to devour it I didn't pause to take a photo!

I found this at Ms Dee's place and decided to play.


1. What is the color of your shirt? No shirt, I'm still in my bathrobe. It's blue.

2. Honestly, what's on your mind? I'm wishing the space heater was making me warmer.

3. Honestly, what are you doing right now? Typing on the keyboard and listening to Scott on-air in Dublin.

4. Honestly, do you like Britney Spears? Never did. Feel sorry for her.

6. Honestly, have you done something bad today? Not yet. I'm sure I shall.

7. Honestly, do you watch Disney Channel? Only once. The Chap and I checked out High School Musical (the Original) and cackled all the way through.

8. Honestly, who is the last person you talked to on the phone? My neighbour down the road who wanted another neighbour's phone number because her dog wandered up the hill to the house.

9. Honestly, are you jealous of someone right now? 'Course not.

10. Honestly, what makes you mad most of the time? Liars. Cruel people. Arrogant people. Rude, careless drivers. Rudeness in general. Bigotry. Hypocrisy. Oh, and overuse of the word "Honestly" is fairly annoying....

11. Honestly, do you bite your nails? Never did. Don't now.

12. Honestly, I wish I lived...? I'm perfectly satisfied with my location. I spent too many years trying to get here to want to be any other place!

13. Honestly, do you want to see someone this very moment? My parents and brother. They're used to seeing me in my bathrobe, so it's a safe choice.

14. Honestly, do you have a deep dark secret? Far more than one.

15. Honestly, do you have a friend that you really don’t like? I wouldn't call them a friend if I didn't like them.

17. Honestly, do you like/love anyone? Lots of people.


1. What do you do when you get mad? Depends who made me mad. I use a "mad" voice and have been known to throw things but only if they won't break or hit somebody.

2. What's the worst thing you've done when you were mad? Said really, really bad words, I suppose. I can't remember. I am careful to Do No Harm.

3. Ever made anyone cry when you were mad? Not that I know of. But I've been known to cry when mad.


1. Honestly, when was the last time you cried?
Yesterday driving into the Capitol city, listening to a Dar Williams song. I hadn't heard it in a long time. It's a cheery not a sad song, but I love it so much I got weepy. Just tears, no wild sobbing or anything too histrionic.

2. Ever cried yourself to sleep? A few times. After losing a relative or a dog.

3. Do certain songs make you cry? Oh, yes. Inevitably.

4. What usually makes you cry? Music. Laughing too hard. I do way more crying because of laughter than from being sad.

5. What do you do when you're sad? Get a hug from the Chap. Cuddle a dog or dogs. Read a book.


1. Is there someone right now, that could do something to make you happy?
I feel responsible for my own happiness, so probably not. I'm home alone...if the Chap were around.... A multi-million dollar book contract with a two-year ms. delivery date attached would make me delirious, but my happiness certainly doesn't depend upon it.

2. Who can make you happy? My spouse. My dogs. The presence of other important people in my life. Especially if they're happy and healthy.

3. Does being with your friends make you happy?
Sure. Unless they have a problem, and then I'm sad and empathetic and try to help.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Feeling Fishy

During yesterday's session in the House we got all the way through our calendar of bills (finally) apart from those that were "special ordered"--meaning they'll go onto the next session's calendar, either at the beginning of the day or in their regular place.

One such bill was the boating speed limit bill for Lake Winnipesaukee. At about 4:30 the tv and radio and print reporters and cameramen suddenly re-appeared (they had departed at the end of the Governor's speech). House members got a bit excited...ready for the showdown. But then the Chairman of the Transportation requested that we special order the bill, as a courtesy to certain speakers with an opposing view, who were absent. The media decamped. We voted to special order the bill. (Ensuring, as the Chairman pointed out, that we could look forward to another week of emails from the very interested public!) We adjourned not long afterwards.

I briefly saw the Chap at home before he headed off to the Planning Board.

I was back at the Capitol this morning for committee hearings interspersed with a birthday party. "Granny D" Doris Haddock is celebrating her 98th. A fishy name for a lovely person and a political celebrity.

At midday there was a birthday reception in the State House with cake, munchies, a card to sign, balloons, and the celebrant herself--hatted, as always. She spoke to the assembled crowd, which included at least two former governors, the Sec. of State, photographers, and an admirer who had travelled all the way from AZ to attend.

Before heading back to my committee chamber I encountered one former governor in the ladies' room --our one and only female ex-governor, I hasten to add! Currently she's a candidate for the U.S. Senate, and always a pleasure to talk to--she beams when speaking of her grandchildren. Which is not unusual.

The "official" part of my day was over at 1:30. Before coming home I stopped by the insurance office to say hi to some friends I hadn't seen in a while. Lots of news from them, a daughter's wedding and a son's wife due to give birth at any time. An offer was made to place my political sign on the property later this year when I run for re-election. Their office is just inside my district's line and on a very busy highway.

After dealing with Fish & Game matters today, I suppose it's appropriate--or possibly weird--that we're dining on fish tonight. I'm checking out recipes for tilapia--the Chap special request. Goodness, but there are a lots of ways to cook it! Baked, broiled, pan-fried, poached, grilled. (Just as true for any fish, right?) I'm more accustomed to doing salmon or trout fillets, and we used to have orange roughy regularly but before they were farmed so for ecological reasons we gave it up. I've collected a handful of tilapia recipes and the one on our menu tonight is this. It's not terribly challenging cookery (Also true for any fish!)

Farmed tilapia fishies look something like this:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Big Day in Da House

We heard the Governor's State of the State Address. It was a joint session with the Senate, also attended by the Executive Council, the Chief Justice and some of the Supreme and Superiour Courts, and the Senate "entourage" and staff, which included a dear priest friend of mine, newly apointed as Senate chaplain.

The media were out in force. Here's my picture of the picture-takers.

There were more of them, public and commercial tv, alongside the wall. Those are the ones who'll be responsible if I turn up on the evening news.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bright to Grey

After I whinged about lack of writing progress, almost immediately I got productive.

So I'm going to whinge some more, in hopes that by admitting some truths, my outlook will grow more positive.

Perhaps it's the aftermath of last week's legislative frustrations but today, for the first time in forever--or maybe ever--I wasn't looking forward to my day at the Capitol.

A general ickiness enveloped me like a dark mist. Last night's presidential candidates' debate--the portion I watched--annoyed me. (No more debates--please! Double please with a cherry on top.)

I strained a shoulder muscle this morning and Advil and the application of a heating pad while I read the morning paper wasn't helping much.

In a quirk of timing, given the parlous state of the stock markets worldwide, I was actually selling shares today (a decision made long before these recent economic woes.) With expectations of a massive sell-off at the opening bell, I felt like I was contributing to the problem. And naturally I was concerned that my selling price would be a lot less than I had anticipated.

During my commute my mind shifted to elections--a special election took place in the neighbouring district today. I examined the prospect of getting un-elected next November and my feelings about that. I've committed myself to defending my seat, but today the getting booted scenario had its attractions. Like not having to deal with bad news--revised revenue estimates (downwards) and the Governor's edict for departments to pare down their budgets. At the moment, promoting fiscal responsiblity and ensuring adequate services seem highly incompatible.

On my docket today was a legislative luncheon on a controversial topic--attendance was voluntary. I didn't go for the free lunch so much as clarification on pending legislation. It was an interesting forum, but the info I wanted wasn't delivered by the speakers. It was stuffed into a packet of printed materials.

From there I went to my committee's briefing on the Fish & Game Department Audit. This was, I think, the first of our hearings to be taped. This did not deter me from asking a few questions of the audit team. The audit results are a blessing and a curse...there's a lot of directon provided, legislatively, but the choices are all difficult and even divisive. Not in a partisan way, but from a policy standpoint.

The events of the day left me feeling a bit deflated. Plus, the sunshine vanished during my hours in the Legislative Office Building, and when I reached the lobby snow flurries were flying outside. There was a legislative reception in the late afternoon...at the Capitol Grille again. Very likely featuring the usual menu. I chose not to go.

What sustained me throughout the afternoon was the prospect of returning home to the Lodge and the jacuzzi, and finding relief for the aching shoulder muscle (driving was rather unpleasant today.) A good long soak and a glass of wine and a book and canine company appealed to me far more than too-familiar free food and the buzz of legislative conversation.

Before I could escape the building, I was waylaid by someone who wanted to discuss the boating speed limit bill. Our conversation was a test of my desire to hear and examine all sides of an issue, even after my mind is made up. Still, it was a positive exchange, partly because I took the opportunity to ask the person some questions related to the audit and garnered some perspective on problems my committee must confront in coming days and weeks.

Arriving at my car, I took note of the gloomy prospect to the east of the House members' parking garage.

Grey sky. Snow. Rush hour approaching. Nothing to improve my flagging spirits.

I'm facing even more complicated legislative stuff this week. At a time when my habitual Pollyanna-ish optimism has fled. Temporarily. (See what I mean about optimism? It's there even when I'm at my most pessimistic!)

My soak did make me feel better, physically. Spiritually, I was refreshed by my reading material: a little book by the bishop of a diocese in which I once lived. He writes quite movingly and impressively about difficulties he had to overcome during his episcopate--the civil rights movement, the prayer book alterations, social changes and their impact on our church. He addresses matters of which I was either oblivious or only vaguely aware (I was young) but which are connected to present-day matters of social and economic justice. My former bishop passed away not long after his book was published. I was so thankful that our paths had crossed a little time before, at a national/international church event, giving me the chance to speak briefly with him. I always admired him, and the more I learn of him the more I find to admire.

I'll close by sharing four Very Good Things.

1. The stock I was selling didn't tank, so no adverse consequence to my decision to unload it today of all days.

2. I've succeded in keeping my one-and-only New Year's resolution. I vowed that I would choose, prepare, and set out my "official" clothes the night before I'm due at the Capitol, to save time and sanity in the mornings. Not only do I select my chosen outfit, but the back-up option--Plan B. So far, this effort has paid enormous benefits. My departure from the Lodge is no longer delayed by the fashion crisis du jour.

3. This morning I saw a beautiful pale hawk soaring over the motorway, at the spot right before the river, crossing from from one wetlands to another.

4. Last week, miraculously, I was standing at an upstairs window when an eagle flew over our woodlands and Lodge. The unmistakable profile was clearly visible, silhouetted against the sky. It's only the second time I've seen an eagle on our property--or rather, in our airspce. My first encounter was nearly fourteen years ago, only a few weeks after we moved into the house. I was sitting on the deck one morning and suddenly an eagle flew over. I hoped it was a common occurrence and ever since then waited for it to happen again.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Match of the Day

You've got a ringside seat as Jewel ("The Mad Chimp") and Ruth ("The Feral Piglet") battle for dominance. Witness the biting, illegal holding, pummelling and snarling as these fierce competitors seek advantage in their latest bout in the ongoing Canine Cross-Breed Wrestling Championship.

Note: The contenders are fairly evenly matched. After a somewhat leisurely and lazy beginning and middle, this bout gets lively at the end!

Today I wrote a lot. And tried to keep warm. Mostly at the same time.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

It Just Never Ends

You would think that after all the NH Primary hoopla that we Granite Staters would be positively sick of politics and politicians and candidates for office.

Not so.

Last night, the Chap and I attended a huge political dinner party. The guest speaker is running for our district's U.S. Senate seat. The meal was awesome. A good time was had by all. There was a little--though not much--reminiscing about the late, great Primary. Some of our neighbours down the road hosted out-of-state Obama volunteers--30 young people under their roof. Neighbours a bit farther down the road hosted a crowd of Obama Youth as well, but I don't know the head count at their address. After a busy week that had my spouse and me in different places day and night, it was like having a dinner date together--albeit in the company of 20 or so politically like-minded friends of ours.

We've next to no plans this weekend, which will allow for some relaxation. It's Saturday, so I must be making ice cream (eggnog again, even though the holidays are over.)

I'm very concerned about my lack of progress on the novel. These long and complicated days are draining, and I've no brainpower left at the end of them...just enough to read through the newspapers and magazines that arrive in the post, or to watch reality tv that I don't even enjoy.

Over the past 24-hours I've considered giving myself permission to not write and not feel guilty about it. I've reviewed my schedule to see where I can fit in the most productive sort of writing time between now and my New York trip. I tried to find volunteer responsibilities I can shed, but the only one I've come up with isn't all that time-consuming. I'm regretting not being more productive from the time of the London trip to the start of the Legislative session. I find myself looking forward to the coming spring and summer, and the cottage, and remembering how energetically I wrote beside the Big Lake.

It probably sounds as if I'm discouraged. I am and I'm not. Every book I've written on spec goes through phases like this. I'm not always a fast writer--especially when writing on spec. It's pointless to beat myself up about it.

In the end, I didn't make the decision to not try to write during this too-busy period. I've recommitted myself to carrying on and I'll strive even harder to make my goal for the 1st quarter of '08.

Like politics in NH, my dedication to this project, and the need to complete it, is unending.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Early to Rise

I was up very, very early (saw the sunrise) to attend a Legislative Breakfast for my county delegation at NHTI. In addition to a lovely meal--several quiches, delivered whole to the tables, fruit, bread--there was a terrific program. The President and the Chancellor thanked us for funding a budget favourable to the Community Colleges and provided updates on developments and the new Health Sciences building project. Then two academic programs and a certification program were highlighted by instructors and students.

The first was Animation and Graphic Game Programming. After the instructor gave an overview of the computer games market (it's a $13 billion dollar industry) and career opportunities (game companies in Massachusetts are intensively hiring), a student presented her game project via a Power-Point. Hers was based upon trigonomety and the Pythagoreum theorem--incredible work! It looked ready for market to me, not that I know much about computer games.

We then heard about the teacher certification program for persons who have completed advanced degrees and perhaps entered other careers but always dreamed of someday teaching. They come to teaching as a second career, and due to the needs in math, sciences, and special ed., this program is booming.

The last program presented was Art, a relatively new one. It's estimated that about 400 NHTI students have taken an art class, either as an elective or as part of their degree program.

I'm fairly familiar with NHTI but my knowledge is only general. What a wonderful opportunity for my own continuing ed. about this highly respected and vital institution! I didn't even mind that it was only 6 degrees when I left the Lodge.

On my return home I felt like I was swimming upstream--I passed westbound legislators on their way to committee hearings or whatever in Concord. I'm glad to have a free schedule after Tuesday's committee work and yesterday's lengthy Session Day (10 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.)

Returning to yesterday.... The high-profile bills at the start of session took up a lot of time, so ultimately we didn't get as far down the calendar of bills as we should've done. Good (in my humble opinion)legislation was passed but as the afternoon wore on things got bogged down procedurally. And people got cranky. Even unruly--at one point the Sergeant-at-Arms was positioned next to a certain volatile legislator's seat. The unhappy result was that worthy (imho) environmental/agricultural legislation ended up being tabled. That shouldn't have happened. I was terribly frustrated that the extensive committee and subcommittee work, not to mention the informative discussion on the floor, couldn't reach its natural and desirable (imho) conclusion.

In addition to briefly blogging in my lunch break, I was dealing with various staff round the State House--in Technical Services and in Legislative Services/Legislative Ethics. I'm inevitably impressed with the friendliness, helpfulness, and savvy of the staff. We legislators come and go, but those who support our work deserve a great deal of credit for their dedication.

Following the session there was a reception at the Capitol Grille. I didn't stay as long as last time. I was knackered.

Last night we watched American Idol on the telly. Can't say I'm enjoying it one bit, but I was reading Publishers Weekly and New Yorker and email, so the suckiness passed by me in a blur.

After two days of official duties, this is my day for completing the website transfer to its new server. And catching up on my mandolin practice--sadly neglected these 48-hours. The dogs would probably enjoy some play-time, too. (At the moment napping on the sofa--them, not me--takes priority.)

Here's our little lake as it looked when I got home.

The branches of the shrubs are nicely frosted. I chose not to get out of the car for close-up shots, because it was 12 degrees. Plus I was wearing Good Shoes--not the best for tramping around in snow!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Where I Am


Today I finally got round to networking my laptop with the wireless system.

There's not a lot to blog, really, in this location. Not that it's stopped me from doing so anyway.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Corner of MEP and Main

This was a dawn-to-dusk day of heavy responsibility, on my legislative committee and on a diocesan committee.

With so much serious business pending, I felt the need to do a fun and crazy thing.

Turns out there's a webcam stationed at the corner of Park and Main Streets in downtown Concord, very close to the State House. I didn't even know. My bestest friend, who lives in a distant and far warmer clime, alerted me to it. She said it's addictive. And even though it's a very familiar scene, I discovered the truth of it. When I'm sitting in my secluded forest, I check out the city street in all dayparts and all weathers.

Here a link.

I had this bright idea of standing in the general vicinity of this webcam and phoning my friend and asking, "Can you see me now?"

This morning I left the Lodge a little early. Drove through the sunny, snowy world, parked at Diocesan House (perfectly legal 'cause I had business there later.) Instead of crossing the street to my committee room, I walked the 2 blocks to the corner of Park and Main, positioned myself, and rang up my friend.

"I'm here. Can you see me?"

Well, no. The morning glare blasting across Main St. didn't help visibility. The camera is wonky. It doesn't refresh instantly. The time stamp associated with the webcam image isn't even close to real time. (It's usually off by 10 or 15 minutes.) A constituent of mine walked past and I hoped he'd assume I was on the cellphone because I was doing incredibly important state business that will benefit his life significantly and immeasurably.

Later, after I'd left my post my friend captured this image and emailed it to me. I'm in it!

What followed paled in comparison to the thrill of posing for a webcam. I headed to the Legislative Office Building for a morning of public hearings in my committee and the reporting of the highly anticipated Fish & Game Department Performance Audit, followed by another hearing and adjournment.

I returned to the diocesan offices and three of us from one of my diocesan committees hopped in a Prius and drove up the interstate for a visitation to a church in the Lakes Region. Our other committee colleagues and the congregation's leadership had assembled for what turned out to be a very informative meeting. Enjoyable, too--not just because a well-mannered Bernese Mountain Dog slumbered in a sunshine puddle in the priest's office.

Made it back to the Lodge in time to catch the early p.m. newscast. The F&G audit was featured. I could've sworn I was well out of his range, but the WMUR cameraman has a very wide-angled lens, because I could spot myself in the audience at the hearing.

But being captured by a webcam was far more exciting.

I'll probably do it again.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Apocalypse Snow

Well over a foot fell upon us today. We enjoyed being snowed in together. The Chap's office was closed.

Here's another dog video.

I desperately need simple video editing software. Don't much like the ones I've played with so far but it's not like I've devoted much time to it. So I'm uploading raw .AVI from the camera. Not aesthetically pleasing, and I'd prefer to mix sound instead of rely on live sound because the camera leaves a strange slurpy sucking noise on the soundtrack.

I'm in the process of moving a website to a new server, and dealing with related complications.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Calm Before...

Our big event last night was a Capitol Steps performance at the Arts Center downtown. This was the 12th annual Comedy Night fundraiser for the affordable housing nonprofit. The Chap is in his second year as Chairman of their Board of Directors. After resting up for several days, he felt just well enough to make a public appearance.

For an hour and a half before the show there was a reception for sponsors and donors and board members and government officials. I was one of 4 State Reps in attendance, and a Senator was there. The Mayor and his wife (also a State Rep) were expected. The crowd got so big it grew harder to pick people out.

In addition to an awards presentation, there was a silent auction. The travel packages were incredible, the dining ones, too. My spouse had asked me to supply some autographed books, which went into the "Rejuvenation Package" pictured below.

I'm amused at the presumption that my writing can rejuvenate the winning bidder. I forgot to check how high the bids went on that one.

The performance was hilarious, a mix of new routines and familiar ones, with occasional NH Primary references tossed in.

We arrived home thoroughly wrung out from laughter and the social buzz. As a consequence, we didn't make it to church this morning. Didn't expect to, either. Slept extraordinarily late, read the paper, I shot video of the young dogs romping (not yet uploaded), we drank coffee, and listened to my R.E.M. Live cd's, recorded at Dublin's Point--where all my fave bands play.

Today in our Anglican Cycle of Prayer we are invited to pray for the whole entire extensive Anglican Communion. (And other entities.) This realisation sparked a blogpost, or to use Stephen Fry's immortal term "blessay" for blog essay, of I-know-not-how-many hundreds of words in length. It still sits in my blog drafts cache. Not sure why I haven't hit "submit". Over time I've composed articles on this or similar topics for the Living Church, Concord Monitor, Episcopal News...I was encouraged to do a piece for the New York Times but didn't.

I avoid being politically partisan on my blog, and I don't regard myself as a religious or denominational partisan either. It's an overarching topic in my life and such an important and sensitive one. Yet today I find myself holding back. Maybe I'll change my mind. Maybe I won't. Maybe I should. Maybe I shouldn't.

The project of the day isn't terribly taxing: making key lime sorbet. I'm co-habiting with a germy individual and my throat needs soothing.

This is one of those "no way do I believe a massive storm is bearing down upon us" days, aka The Calm Before....On weather maps our Lodge appears to be in the 12-inches snow band. They're preparing us for an all-day event. The Chap might (finally) feel well enough to return to his office tomorrow, but I'm not sure he'll need to! I predict a day of many cancellations.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Recapping the Week

Stuff I didn't have time or fogot to blog.

Sunday: Church. Feast of the Epiphany. Lost the cupholder in my car, probably in the parking lot of the Common Man where I had lunch with my friends.

Monday: Watched/Heard pundits predict outcome of NH Primary. Watched footage of Hillary at Café Espresso in Portsmouth, a place I know well. For the record, it's definitely not a "diner" as some of the press and commentators would lead you to believe. I wonder if she ordered my favourite indulgence, pictured here. It would cheer up anybody!

Tuesday: Retrieved my mandolin at Strings 'n' Things, where it had been re-strung and given a tune-up. Was informed that a short time before my arrival, Hillary had popped into the Dunkin Donuts next door. Went to polling place and voted. Stayed up late viewing poll returns and media meltdown.

Wednesday: Watched/Heard pundits try to explain outcome of NH Primary. The Chap came home early from his office, suffering from a worsening cold.

Thursday: Where to start?

Gorgeous day. The Chap stayed home with the girls. I departed the Lodge and arrived in a timely fashion at the Legislative Office Building for committee hearings on pending bills. We dispatched the first two quite quickly. Testimony was succinct and to the point, no questions from our committee. One bill related to permitting game hunting with a larger caliber handgun, so we got mired in ballistics and velocity and kickback and similar considerations.

The next bill was assigned to our committee by the Speaker's Office, although it was more of an Agriculture and Environment bill. This gave me no end of a thrill, because if I hadn't chosen to be on my committee I'd want to be on that one. (There are various reasons why I probably can't ever be on it, however.) The subject matter was licencing (or not) of breeders of domestic (pet) birds by persons in the "business" of selling them in quantities greater than (? undetermined) as opposed to the home hobbyist. The State Veterinarian testified. A Humane Society lobbyist testified. We got the perspective of someone who breeds dogs. Normally we deal with wildlife birds or game bird issues, so it was novel to be talking about parrots and parakeets!

Several members of my committee headed to the Capital (or Concord) Grille for lunch. I ordered a lunch special--pulled pork quesadilla--which sounds odd but was quite good. Our server was the granddaughter of the legislator who posed with me the picture of me in front of the snow bank. (Illustrative of the fact that if you aren't a legislator yourself, you're probably related to one!) We talked more local politics than national, but it transpired that practically all of the diners had voted Obama on Tuesday. Only 1 or 2 didn't 'fess up.

The afternoon hearing was even more Agricultural and Environmental. It was probably the most complex one, and dealt with the use of drugs on "wildlife". We took testimony from the State Vet and HSUS lobbyist again and heard from elk and deer breeders whose farming operations would be adversely affected. A subcommittee will have to work on this one.

From there I headed to the location of our Diocesan Council meeting, for which I'm the moderator. It was a wonderful meeting, and at the close we were privileged to hear the written words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has provided the forward to a forthcoming book by the individual on whose right hand I sit, freshly just returned from sabbatical.

I asked said person how long it took him to write his book.

"About six weeks."

My eyes widened, my lip quivered. I felt myself going into weepy Hillary mode. "How many words?" I bleated pathetically.

"Not sure. It'll be about 175 pages."

Scant comfort. Council members started patting my shoulder sympathetically.

"A lot of it was already written," the fledgling author told me kindly. "Speeches and sermons I've given."

I know from experience nonfiction is different from novels--especially the kind like mine which take years to research and write. I will not be jealous (much).

Friday: Rainstorms. Ailing Chap stayed home again. Mandolin lesson. Fielded phone calls and emails from citizens expressing opinions of legislation that would impose a boating speed limit on the Big Lake. My Big Lake.

Today: I'm uploading favourite photos to this nifty digital photo keychain, a Christmas gift from the uber-techie member of our extended family. If I get bored during our upcoming monster session of the legislature, I can watch a slide show of my roses and my dogs and my travels. Also, I made another dog video. Lola was ready for her close-up this morning. I'll post it someday when I haven't as many words in my head as I obviously have right now.

We're lifting the Chap's quarrantine for an exciting, can't-miss event. I look forward to Dressing Up.

Oh--and between now and then I'll be working on my book.

There may be a Nor'easter in our future. A lot of snow has melted, but there's still plenty around. It wants freshening up, in my opinion.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Hunger

Oh, such a busy day. From 10 a.m. till 6:30 p.m. I was involved in activities legislative or diocesan. Without a break of any sort.

Here, for your--um--enjoyment?--amusement?--edification? is my debut YouTube video. Please bear in mind while watching this gem that it was created by someone with an M.A. in Radio-TV-Film. Who got paid for making movies. (You'll find it hard to believe, I'm sure. Or more likely, entirely unbelieveable.)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

And the winner in a landslide...Marty!!!


See polling results here

Watch the candidates in action

MEP's post-election analysis: Marty's substantial victory is largely due to the thickness of his coat. Voters want a cat who won't freeze to death at that altitude. Or, as our weathermen inevitably say during their forecasts, "High atop Mount Washington." More mascot primary result analysis here.

Fascinating fact of the day: The woman who asked Senator Clinton the question that made her almost cry subsequently attended an Obama rally. And voted for him yesterday.

The political circus has indeed moved on. Listening to endless discussions of last night's surprises, I perceive that the mania and spin and hype endure.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


The mercury is zooming upwards, it's now nearly 50 degrees. The snowscape all around is evaporating.

I could weave analogies about how the frenzied attention directed towards our state's voters will evaporate the instant our Primary results are known. But I haven't time to wax literary...I'm off to my polling place!

Monday, January 07, 2008


When I came in from nourishing our birds--adding a new suet block to the feeder, flinging cracked corn and safflower seeds and breadcrumbs onto the mountain left behind by the snowplow--I happened to ring the Chap about an unrelated matter.

"Outside smells of melting snow," I reported.

"What does that mean?"

"Rainy. Sort of. Only more."

It's 48 degrees. Now I can hear the melting, too.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

What's Going On

Behold a rare piece of NH landscape unadorned by campaign signs.

For as long as I remember, whenever someone has handed me a campaign pin, or a bumper sticker, I've accepted with a smile and warm thanks--and placed it in my pocket or my purse. Never to be worn.

"My body is not a billboard," I'm fond of saying. "Neither is my car."

Yesterday, probably for the first and only time in my life, I stuck a campaign pin onto my sweater before heading out into the world. I wore it during my mandolin lesson in Concord. I wore it at the department store and in the restaurant in Manchester.

We spent this weekend out and about. I saw countless candidate signs rising up from filthy, rapidly melting snowbanks. I've been hunting for a spot where I could shot a blog pic of the full array, Republican and Democrat. I wanted a single photo in which all or most of our distinguished visitors, the Presidential wannabes, were represented. Unfortunately, whenever I spotted this phenomenon, it was typically in the median of a highly-trafficked two- or four-lane highway with a speed limit of 45 mph or higher. Or a four-way intersection. Neither are the best vantages for attempting dashboard photography, much less jumping out to take a quick shot.

One must fight the urge to derive metaphors or prognostications from the drooping or fallen signs of certain candidates. Or to assume that the number of signs for an individual corresponds to their chances of winning. There's often an inverse relationship to the number of signs on view and the candidate's place in the latest polls.

We can set clocks by the release of poll results. Ten minutes before the 6:00 newscast seems to be the favoured time.

Phone calls to the Lodge come early and often--pollsters, mostly. We've started picking up and answering, as a public service. If we vent our intentions, then the odds of people being startled by Tuesday's results might be lessened. We're also receiving calls from friends and family around the country, across the political spectrum, asking us to handicap the race. "How's it going there? What's NH going to do?"

If anyone doubted that politics--and politicians--are close to the people round here, in or out of Primary Season, here are a few illustrations.

On Friday I was fueling my car, hands thrust into my coat pocket, humming a tune. A man who had already finished filling the tank of his pickup--on the other side of the island from me--walked over. Before he opened his mouth, I surmised that he'd spotted my State Rep licence plate.

He had a question about a specific bill. "Is there a place where someone can find out when there's a hearing on a bill?"

I asked if he had internet access and told him about our state government website with all the bills listed, their sponsors and status and committee recommendation, plus the legislative calendar with info on when it comes before the House and Senate."

"That's great, thanks."

"Which bill are you interested in?" I asked. He told me the subject matter--it's a high-profile one. "Oh, that was retained from last seesion and the committee reported out a couple of months ago. It's on the House Calendar for January 16th, when we'll vote on it."

"Oh, okay." He thanked me again.

He turned to go. There was a long line of cars behind him, coveting his place at the pump. I didn't want to extend the delay, but I had to ask....

"What do you think about that bill?" I called after him.

He'd already opened the door of his truck and had a foot on the running board. He turned around, walked back towards me--walked right up to me till we were face to face. I almost regretted asking.

"If I had my way," he said firmly, "I run them (the operators of a particular enterprise facing new and onerous regulations) right out of the state!"

He was so vehement I hardly knew what to say at first. Then I said, "You're not alone in your opinion. Thanks for sharing it."

Being accosted by a stranger at the petrol pump has happened before. And probably will again.

Today I lunched with two girlfriends downtown. On the way I stopped at a supermarket to purchase groceries--not for my household. Soon as I walked into the restaurant, I came face-to-face with a fellow legislatrix. Two of us under the same roof. Possibly more, for all I know.

After lunch--the conversation was mostly devoted to the Primary and the candidates--I drove a few blocks to the field office of the candidate I'm supporting. I took the groceries inside. The place was packed with volunteers of both genders, many generations, and various ethnicities, all manning the phones.

A supervisor came forward. I introduced myself, asked for a person I knew, who at that moment was actually out "in the field."

I presented my shopping bags, bursting with bags of ginger snaps, tubes of Pringles. "Some snack food to keep you folks going." Then I handed over the box of clemintines. "And some healthy stuff, too."

His delight with the citrus indicated that their break room was filled with junk. I probably should brought nothing but clementines! A trunkload of 'em.

After my errand of mercy, I made my way to Main Street. I'm not positive, but I saw a gentleman in a black winter overcoat in front of a convenience store, chatting up a handful of passers-by. He had on glasses, or sunglasses. It might have been Duncan Hunter. Or even Bill Clinton, who's said to be roaming the state. But no doubt the ex-Prez would've drawn more than half-a-dozen people--his Secret Service must be at least that many. Anyway, it was a Someone. I'll have to study a line-up of faces to work out which one.

On the way home, I stopped by a suburban mall for a quick purchase--and immediately encountered yet another legislator.

I don't consider myself a politician. Really, I don't. I can't, the notion is ludicrous, I start to giggle if someone even suggests such a thing. But I do get a kick out of big-P Politics. And right now, it surrounds me and envelopes me and involves me. In general, it's highly entertaining. Occasionally it's frustrating. And right now, it's truly exciting and exhilarating. (Never more so when it's known to be an intense and short-lived period of thrills. And when pundits bandy about words like "history-making" and "unprecedented".)

And while I never fail to take my own responsibilities seriously, as a representative and as a voter, there's no denying that these days, it's a whole helluva a lot of fun!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Iowa! IO-WOW!

Thanks, Iowa Caucus voters! You've set the scene for what promises to be the most fascinating, invigorating, thrilling New Hampshire Primary (for both parties) in my experience. Congratulations to Senator Obama and Governor Huckabee on their impressive victories. Welcome back to the Granite State!
(photo of Blogger overwhelmed by a 2007 encounter with one of last night's winners.)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

This Shiny White New Year

Pink sunset clouds on New Year's Eve.

And a few hours later, glasses of champagne and a warm fire.

On New Year's Day we recieved another 10 inches or so. The amount of snow surrounding our Lodge is truly dramatic!

Thanks to the hardworking crews, our drives and the private road and town roads were cleared by morning. A very good thing, as the Chap returned to his office and I needed to be at the State House.

By statute, the General Court (Legislature) must convene on the 2nd of January in the second year of the biennium. Whatever the weather.

Here's what the first portion of my commute was like.

I gave a lift to a fellow representative, so I had company during the drive. The traffic was heavy and slow. I've never seen such massive snow mountains in the Capitol City. State House Plaza was surrounded and enveloped by snow! The sidewalks were tunnels.

Here we are, posing beside a particularly steep white mountain.

We arrived as the majority party Caucus was beginning, around 8:45. At 9:30 we adjourned and went into the Executive Council chamber, where there was a breakfast reception honouring all former Speakers of the House. Well, not every single one going back to 1684...the nine who are living and breathing. (Not counting our present Speaker.) Eight were men, one is a woman. (Our present Speaker is the second women.)

The session began at 11 with a formal recognition of the honourees. Our Speaker introduced each of her predecessors. The institutional memory these individuals displayed in their addresses, the history, and the pride in their careers in the House--as members and as occupants of the Chair--was moving and inspiring. Some of the memories were hilarious. Designated persons read the brief comments of the two absentees.

A recently elected House member was introduced. (He sits directly behind me.) A letter of resignation was read from another. We heard memorial resolutions for two members who recently passed away.

After the ceremonial activities, we took up our business, which shouldn't have taken very long because we were only dealing with a request from the Senate for concurrence, and voting our Consent Calendar. The latter is an omnibus of many, many bills with unanimous commmittee recommendations, which we can enact quite swiftly on a voice vote. But 7 bills were pulled off the calendar for debate (lengthy debate), often resulting in roll calls and division votes. One of those bills was from my committee. We didn't even get a lunch break--on the assumption that we'd finish up sooner than later. But it was definitely later. And in the end, we voted exactly as the committees recommended anyway. That's the way it goes sometimes.

We adjourned at 3 p.m., starving, and emerged into the snowy white wonderland, hastening to an opening day reception.

The food at the reception was wonderful and we stuffed ourselves with abandon and I played catch-up with friends and colleauges in my usual bipartisan fashion. I lingered.

I was home by 6 and not hungry so the Chap had supper on his own. I did, however, partake of our amazing homemade Egg Nog ice cream!

All day I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for results of tonight's Iowa Caucus, likely to have an enormous but unknown impact upon the New Hampshire Primary 5 days hence.

We're having a severe cold snap--it's 3 degrees right now and breezy, wind chills tonight are expected to be minus 15 or 20. But on Primary Day, we should be enjoying 50 degree temperatures, which would mean--perhaps--historic voter turn-out. If only we can make it to the polling places through what promises to be a massive snow melt!