"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, May 31, 2008


In this wacky and protrated political primary season, my great addiction has been Andrew Sullivan's blog. Day and night. Night and day. Hourly. Quarter-hourly.

Two of my fave features are "The View from Your Window" and "Face of the Day."

Being such a fangirl--for a whole host of reasons I won't bother to enumerate--and being inordinately proud of one of my own window views, I submitted a picture. Even though I know he probably gets a zillion of these, every minute of every day.

There was a bit of a time lag between the submission and my moment of fame. I suspected my shot had a shot when, within the past 24 hours, somebody from Daily Dish emailed me.

I made the cut! So please, check it out. (Even though you've seen it before!)

The View from Your Window

I heart Andrew Sullivan more than ever now...not to mention his photo editor!

PS If you click on the photo over at Daily Dish, you get a supersized version!
PPS The Chap is way impressed with me!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Breakfast with Turtles

I returned to the Lodge at mid-week in order to carry out some official duties--attending a river flooding geomorphological study presentation (try saying that fast!) Wednesday evening. Yesterday I had a Fish & Game Performance Audit Subcommittee meeting. Everybody else at the Leg. Office Building was serving on one of the House and Senate conference committees.

It was a gorgeous day downtown, State House Plaza and Main Street were hopping. I saw people in shorts. Rugosa roses were blooming already at the corner of Bridge and Main.

The baby painted turtles I found in the garden back in April are still living in their aquarium. I've been waiting for the weather to be consistently warm before releasing them.

They seem quite content. Their large swimming pool contains fresh water from the little lake (their future habitat) and there's a play-yard with moss and earth. They spend most of their time in the water but are starting to bask on the rocks and climb into the yard.

For weeks their diet consisted of leaves and grass and whatever tiny organisms were floating in the water or living in the dirt. And earthworms I tossed in.

Today, while out in my garden doing some light weeding, I had an opportunity to hunt and gather protein.

I noticed some itty bitty green grasshoppers among the herbs, hopping over the lavender stalks, and in the oregano. I captured lots of them and--well, I won't reveal what I did next. Knowing that these young critters would grow into the giant green grasshoppers that chew up my roses, I showed them no mercy.

I delivered several carcasses to the aquarium, with the following results:

Turtle 1
Turtle 2

In my absence, the amaryllis sprouted a flower bud. It's shaped like a bishop's mitre. Highly appropriate, because the plant was a gift from our bishop. Not the present bishop, but his predecessor. It was a thank-you for serving on the Bishop Search and Nomination Committee.

I've had it for five years. It blooms only every other year, but now that I've repotted it, I'm hoping to see flowers on an annual basis.

Also in my absence, the little tree rose on the porch put out a flower.

Everything outdoors looks so lush and green and leafy, the roses are budding like mad. I honestly don't know how, because we've had virtually no rain all month. I think that's about to change soon. I desperately hope so!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where I Am: A Tour

I'm sure in past posts over the years I've shared some of these views. But here's an updated tour of the cottage. (Not quite every room!)

A portion of the main sitting room, added in the 30's. The oldest items and 7 of the 8 chairs (there's a sofa as well) and Persian rugs and so on came from the Porter home in Salem, Massachusetts, and Danvers before that. The Chap's grandparents constructed the fieldstone fireplace, we have old movie film of them in action, as incontrovertible evidence!

Yes, I've been practicing the mandolin while here.

A pair of 19th century ancestors. The Chap's grandmother painted the metal tole-work tray.

The wall panelling was made from the wooden crates in which pianos were shipped. No idea how the Chap's granddad got his hands on so much of it--enough to panel a very, very large room. An example of the Yankee talent for re-using things in wonderful ways!

The resident author's collected works.

I've considered replacing the fading paperbacks with the nicer hardcover editions. But this is a such a laid-back, casual place, I've never bothered.

The dining room. Lace curtains came from Scotland, a gift from my mother. (There are a few Evans artifacts scattered about!) The dining table is downsized at the moment. It has about half-a-dozen leaves, so we can accommodate large groups.

The large and user-friendly kitchen is the original room to which all others were added. (No pics.) It's wonderfully well-stocked with all those vintage utensils and cookware you find in antique shops. We have the usual electrical mod cons--microwave, coffee grinder, oven toaster, and more--but I'm ever thankful that the Porters never threw anything away...instead, they transferred everything here!

The master bedroom is also one of the oldest rooms. No pics, 'cause I've been consolodating the contents of various clothes closets and can't be bothered with art direction, i.e. clearing off the bed and tidying the tops of the bureaus.

Instead, I give you the curtains. The fabric is imprinted with old postcard views of New Hampshire. We have a summer bedspread at the Lodge in the same materials.

Also, a collage of photos of many generations enjoying lakeside living. The fourth row, middle picture shows the Chap as a tow-headed infant on his very first visit, seated in the shallow water while his proud grandmother and parents beam at the firstborn son/grandson. The visitor log reports on that date that he "cried when he was taken out of the water." He still loves swimming here.

The newest room, added in the late 50's. I inherited the mahogany spool bed from my own grandparents, who never set foot in New Hampshire. The Chap's late mother acquired the quilt in Appalachia, I think in North Carolina.

Another bedroom. These beds, which at one time were in the master bedroom, came from Salem.

Part of the screened porch, where I live most of the time.

Now, back to my closet capers....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Where He Was

Yet again the Chap spent his Memorial Day holiday weekend across the Border. Last year at this time he headed for Newfoundland to chase icebergs. Then, as now, I retreated to the Big Lake.

This evening he returned from another Candian jaunt. He's been in Saskatchewan, one of two or three provinces he hadn't visited.

He stayed in Saskatoon.

He visited the Provincial Parliament. Nice chamber! (That would be Queen Elizabeth's portrait high upon on the wall.)

He was in Regina.

And in Moose Jaw, he met a massive moose.

First Swim?

The only traffic on the lake this morning:

Our local brown duck population is increased by nine little newbies.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Monday

This morning as I lay late in bed listening to stories of war and sacrifice on NPR, I heard the loon's piercing call somewhere out in the Bay. Haven't yet seen one, though I've been watching the water closely.

Yesterday I was thrilled to spot a kingfisher in the trees along the shore. Heard the rattling loud cry--thought at first it was a pileated woodpecker. In 23 years on this lake, I've never before seen a kingfisher. Much, much bigger than a British kingfisher. And oh, so noisy!

This morning I had a Cinderella-among-the-cinders moment down in the boathouse. Scouring the grunge from the water filter with an old toothbrush, I remembered that a friend of mine spent the weekend at the Hay-on-Wye Festival as a featured speaker and generally being fĂȘted. Envious? Well, I do love Hay. And literary festivals. But here I was on Golden Pond, basking in sunshine. It's my understanding that the rains falling on Hay were Biblical in their magnitude.

Today I walked the dogs' legs off them. We had a very lengthy walk late in the morning. Along the way we saw Camp 1907 head into his drive in his flash car, a bright red vintage Corvette convertible. We met 2 and 1/4 dogs. The 2 were large and on rope leashes and live in Massachusetts and their people own the large compound that straddles both sides of the road. The 1/4 dog was very small and poodle-ish and came from the Point and was being walked off-leash, so we altered our route. Jewel is quite certain that the entire lake belongs to her and doesn't take kindly to intruders.

On our final walk, we noticed many an SUV with lifted hatch, as the holidaymakers stowed their possessions and their dogs, large and small. We felt lucky that we needn't leave the lake for a while yet.

Returning to the cottage, I settled on the porch with a small pitcher of homemade Pimm's.

As I sipped and read about fashion and frivolity in the pages of the current Vogue and W and Tatler, Jewel did this...

...and Ruth did this.

So ended a day that felt almost summery--a foretaste of days to come. The expected rains never materialised in these parts. Not yet, anyway.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Last night's sunset.

It got much more vivid and colourful as the light slipped behind the mountains. I watched the show from the porch but couldn't be bothered to leave my chair. Call it lakeside lassitude. I'm already looking forward to an equally fine display later.

What a glorious day! Sunshine, a slight breeze. Some signs of life on the water but it's rather quiet for a holiday weekend. Motorboats are plying the waters, though not in great number. A party of kayakers just went past. And a couple of canoes.

Here's the Big Boat on its morning cruise down the Bay.

Plenty of passengers on board.

Each of the four times I saw it pass by--down the Bay and back, down the Bay and back--I remember the thrill of holding the ginormous wheel in my own wee hands just a few weeks ago.

Future blueberries.

We're having lots of fun. Can you tell?

Ruth is the smiling-est dog I ever knew. And Jewel the most soulful.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Change of Habitation

Ruth and Jewel and I arrived at the Cottage on the Big Lake at midday--the journey is only about 35 minutes. We made the ritual stop at the garden center for some bright annuals for the windowbox and planters.

The dogs believe the main reason we come here is to take long, long walks to the Point, followed by longer naps.

Soon as I stowed the food in the fridge and planted the bright red verbena and impatiens and fresh oregano ripped from my garden at the Lodge, we went walking.

Despite what the sign says, we move pretty fast.

This is a signal but we don't know what it means.

"Camp" is the local/regional vernacular for "lake cottage," and is usually preceded by the world "old" or "fishing" or both. This impressive boulder marks a neighbour's drive.

We, too, call our cottage "Camp." Probably ours wasn't built as early as 1907, but we aren't absolutely sure. It definitely started its life as a fishing camp. And it's certainly old.

Somewhere in our neighbourhood, a pirate is running around without his hat!

Ruth and Jewel waste no time opening the swimming season.

When we return home, we head down to the dock.

While I enjoy the view of the "front yard," they wonder why there are little flowers where last summer's blueberries used to be.

The cottage smells of lily-of-the-valley, because I brought along the loads I picked this morning. While doing so, I spotted the very first rose bud!

Friday, May 23, 2008


Sweet woodruff runs rampant along the front of the Lodge, having spilled out of a shady garden. And I let it run around freely, because it's so pretty, and so useful.

I've picked some sprigs so I can concoct May Wine, or Maibowle. Like feasting on white asparagus--to which I have no access--it's a European tradition in the midst of springtime.

The harvest--

Ideally, May Wine is made with a sweet white wine--a German Rhine wine like Liebfraumilch or something. A young wine is recommended, as presumably the grass-like woodruff infuses it better.

Here's a proper recipe:

Choose a light German white wine, the younger the better. Pour into a bowl. Add a half-ounce of dried sweet woodruff (or four or five freshly dried sprigs) and a couple of tablespoons of sugar, if you like. Cover it. Let it rest in the refrigerator overnight so the wine is infused with the herb's essence. Strain out the herb. Place the wine in a punch bowl, add strawberries and serve cold.

Here's what I did:

I chucked my generous handful of fresh (not dried) herbage (flowers and all) into a vat of whatever white wine the Chap was keeping in the fridge. I didn't even look at the label, but I know it's something dry. (He doesn't like sweet wines; I was practically weaned on them, 'cause my dad lived several years in Germany). I also poured in a little of the blush wine we keep on hand for my personal consumption. When I'm next in the kitchen, I'll throw in some superfine sugar. Haven't got any strawberries, they aren't in yet, and in my opinion they aren't necessary (unless serving guests--the berries lend a festive note.)

My Maibowle will rest throughout the day so it'll be ready tonight. I plan to sip it while sitting on the porch, listening to the birdsong and planning my weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Go-to Granite Stater

Today my friend Susie, famous Internet Mum and generally fun and funny person (from a fun and funny family whose members write lotsa novels and a brilliant debut novel and perform on NPR radio shows) hit me up for an "official" response to a recent criminal incident on the Seacoast. (Which, coincidentally, most likely occurred while I was cruising the Portsmouth Harbor....)

You'll find me over here.

Rodents & More

I got a pic of one of our two resident snowshoe hares the other evening. One or both can been seen at about the same time, late in the day, enjoying their supper.

Vincent, my special chipmunk friend, who earned his name because at least half of his right ear is missing.

When not scoping out the bird feeders, he sometimes explores the plant table on the big deck.

My fourth mandolin. It's a brooch, and comes in the cutest little mandolin case.

A friend made these earrings for me.

Last night we ate our first fiddleheads of the season.

Had a long day in the House yesterday, concurring--or not--with Senate amendments to various bills.

Last night we were happily surprised--I more than the Chap--by the outcome of American Idol last night. Our guy won!

Today I'm enjoying a quiet day at the Lodge. We had a bit of rain last night. I'm hoping for more today!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Birds of Colour

The many-hued visitors at the feeders over the past 45 minutes.




Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Purple Finch

Blue Jay


Monday, May 19, 2008

In the Garden

No garden tasks today, apart from gathering cut flowers to adorn the Lodge. Conditions are conducive to outdoor labour, but I must focus on housekeeping, not groundskeeping. It's unseasonably cool, about 56 degrees. Alternately bright and dull. Quite breezy. Not a black fly in sight!

My chipmunk friends are out and about. Here's one of them pretending to be a garden statue.

I love all my tulips, but probably prefer the parrot tulips.

I'm extremely fond of this full-bodied tulip, with peony-like shape.

The bergenia starts out white before turning pink.

I've got two bleeding heart plants. The smaller one--smaller being a relative term--was divided from the mother plant several years ago. A precocious child, it's the first to bloom.

The fringed bleeding heart plants (I have many because they self-sow like crazy) are laden with blossoms.