"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

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Stroll--Alternate Location

Today's stroll took place in my present location, the cottage on the Big Lake, and I was accompanied by the dogs.

First we walked down the hill to see the brook--very full and noisy after torrential rains last night and early this morning. It passes under a neighbour's house on its way into the lake.

Foaming water around the boulders.

The delicate flower of the plant sometimes known as wintergreen, also called partridge berry.

The tiniest mushrooms I've ever seen.

After our woodland stroll, we wandered down to the dock to feed the fish. Jewel gobbles up some green blueberries.

The entire crop is not in danger--there are plenty of berries well beyond her reach!

After strolling, Ruth cools down in the lake. A couple of days ago, after two years of refusing to go down the rocks to get into the lake, she decided it was worth doing. Now we can hardly keep her out of the water!

Happy strolls to you. See more of them at A Quiet Country House.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Belle in the Bay

We had a busy and thrilling time of it from the moment Ruth, Jewel and I arrived at the cottage late yesterday. Rain was falling in buckets, but of course we had to take our walk anyway. The brim on my straw hat is so broad and its weave so tight that the top of me doesn't get wet. I always wonder what the neighbours think, if they even notice me tramping about in showery weather. I'm impervious to rain. Must be genetic. If people in Britain and Ireland didn't walk their dogs in the wet, dogs would hardly ever get their exercise!

Jewel was enormously pleased with herself for flushing a mole in the verge. I pulled on her lead the instant I spotted the tiny flat scurrying bit of fur, so no harm to the mole--it vanished under a clump of fallen leaves.

Returning to the house, we went down to the dock to toss some worms to the fish. He swam up to catch each one, as usual.

Our local waters were busy. The mother duck and her nine ducklings, lots bigger than the last time I saw them, paddled past the dock. The loon was calling somewhere out in the Bay. The skies were busy, too--hummingbirds at the feeder. And, much to my joy, blue heron made a fly-over, low enough that it nearly grazed our flagpole! I think it was headed for the shallower waters of the cove every so slightly to the north.

After the rain stopped the air was moist and mist lay heavily over the mountains across the way. But the clouds thinned enough for the sun to peek through. I was keeping an eye on the sky, waiting for the sunset, when I heard the chug of a big boat, a crowd of people, and a couple of loud blasts from a horn.

I headed out to learn the source of the commotion--it was the Belle on a charter party cruise, pulling away from my dock and making a big swing round. It calls at all the before turning south. As it moves down the Bay, it calls at all the docks along the eastern shore.

I'd been regretting that we arrived to late to catch the Big White Boat on her Thursday voyages up and down the Bay. Sighting the Belle is a rare occurrence, and more than made up for what I'd missed.

A short while later I heard the music and laughter--and a couple of horn blasts--and captured the Belle making her way up the Bay. At sunset!

Saturday night is dinner cruise night on the Big White Boat. I'll be striving for a good shot of that. My current camera has all sorts of nifty settings for nighttime shoots.

Humid and hazy today, and hotter. I'm happier being here, plugging away on the manuscript, than in Unity, New Hampshire, this morning. But I'll probably tune in to watch the most exciting thing to happen there since--well, nobody seems to know!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Picnic

I'm wrapping up my guest blogging today. And preparing to change dwellings again. (Back and forth, back and forth, from one body of water to another. No wonder we call ourselves "herons"!)

Rose of the Day: Ispahan A damask of Middle East origin, possibly ancient, which became known before 1832. Its claim to fame is its excellent properties--to this day--for the creation of rose essential oil used to make rose perfumes.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a summer picnic for my legislative committee at a member's summer place on Pleasant Lake, precisely an hour's drive from the Lodge. He also oversees a vast antique automobile collection (Fords) and many buildings of antique and vintage objects of all kinds.

A sampling of what's on view.

It's always fun, visiting other people's lakes and admiring their views. And their loons! This pair settled in right in front of the deck, where we could observe them closely for quite a long time.

Mountain view with loons.

Not a loon.

That's Petey, a committee member's 12-year old Jack Russell terrier. I had no idea that breed has duck ancestry! He was overjoyed to be in the lake, wore himself out paddling around. He swims better than I do.

We had a fab cookout--hot dogs and burgers--many salads and some sweet things. I sampled the strawberry/rhubarb crumble.

My car was parked beside this mountain laurel, laden with blossoms.

It was a gorgeous day for a drive. The perfect New England summer day. I was so enamoured of it that I diverted from the motorway and took the "scenic route" back to the Lodge. Although the motorway route heading towards New London is pretty damn scenic in its own right.

The girls and I will be heading back to our own mountain and lake view and our loon on the Bay later. Our loon here on the little lake has been regularly sending out its loony call. Some workmen are here working under the screened porch, so I'm staying to referee and wrap up loose ends and field telephone calls.

My Health Coach just phoned in to see how I was doing with my exercise regimen, how close I might be to achieving my goals. I've met my exercise goal. I've exceeded my weight loss goal. My goal was to lose 5 pounds. Talk about low expectations! (I've been harbouring the mistaken impression that I'd set a 7 pound goal. Not even.)

I've already lost 11 pounds. So I've set a whole new goal.

Still haven't got round to blogging the whys and wherefores of this but eventually I shall.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Wednesday Wench

I'm making a rare appearance as guest blogger at Word Wenches. My topic is theatrical history. So if you are interested, or curious, do stop by.

That's me to the left. Whenever I look at that photo, I still smell Aqua Net hairspray, which is how I kept my elegant French coiffure intact! If Liz F stops in today, she'll recognise the costume. It was made for me, but I'm fairly certain she wore it in a later production.

Rose of the Day: Blanc Double de Coubert Another rugosa, extremely fragrant, dating from the 1890's. This one was polinated from the simple white rugosa, which I grow also.

Keeping with the white theme, here's Alba Semi-Plena. Believed to be 16th century or earlier. Two years ago I moved this one from its original location. Not only did it survive transplantations, it's thriving!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fish Tales

Since Sunday we've enjoyed a pleasant quiet time on the Big Lake. June has been extremely busy, socially speaking--as an example, we attended a dinner party on Friday night and another on Saturday night and tomorrow I've got a lakeside picnic. (Different lake!) But after that, life should calm down considerably, allowing even more time here on the Bay. And more time for writing. During this stay, I had my nose in a book almost the entire time and it was heavenly!

My fish's spawn are hatched. The small fry congregate around the dock.

The proud parent is still on guard duty. And I fling worms to him. My worm supply is running out. One of today's several errands is buying more worms.

We had rain yesterday morning and storms all afternoon. During a very brief lull, the Chap made a timely dash down to the Lodge, and so missed this splendid show.

Ruth, Jewel and I head for the other home shortly, after our walk. It's a nice morning so far--hazy sky, but soft sunshine. I look forward to seeing which roses have bloomed in my absence!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

See Who's Strolling

I strolled before church. Later in the morning I met other strollers...pictured after the flowers....

Rose of the Day: Celsiana, damask rose, prior to 1750. How I love this rose! Usually the first of my damasks to blossom.

Clothilde Soupert is a small pale, pale pink flower with many petals tighly arranged, on the tiniest little bush imaginable. She's a polyantha.

Therese Bugnet, one of many rugosa hybrids in my gardens, is a big blowsy girl, massively fragrant, on a shrub taller than I am.

My beloved gallica, Rosa Mundi.

A new rose this season, of the pimpinellifolia species, William III. I got it because King William is a character in my novel.

For a change, something not a rose: foxglove.

Driving to church I met a pair of Sunday strollers in the meadow nearby, a pair of deer. Probably the same pair we met at dusk last night, coming home from a dinner party. By the time I grabbed the camera and switched it on, they had spotted me and the first one had headed into the wood.

Coming home from church, I met a mother ruffed grouse leading her chicks, about half-a-dozen, across the road. My reaction time was a little better, but most of the chicks had already crossed the road ahead of mum.

She wasn't too keen on my vehicle. She "ruffed up" her neck feathers.

Happy strolling to you, wherever your strolls may take you! I'm about to load beasts and food into the car to join the Chap at the Big Lake...my next stroll will be with him and Ruth and Jewel.

For more links to other strollers, visit Aisling.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thank you, Tasha

Yesterday I lost--and by losing, found again--someone important in my life. Author and illustrator Tasha Tudor passed away, aged 92, in Vermont. For us in New Hampshire, she has always been a neighbour and is claimed as a local celebrity, having spent many years in Webster. (She settled in Vermont in 1972.) Her daughter Efner--also an author--lives locally.

I've occasionally driven by her former home, a wonderful farmhouse--a friend lives in the area--and I know who presently inhabits it.

When I was little, Tasha's illustrations brought to life the things I loved most--roses, dolls, and animals. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was my favourite book, closely followed by A Little Princess.

I also read stories about dolls. Some she wrote, like The Dolls' Christmas.
Some she illustrated, like the English ones by Rumer Godden: The Dolls' House. I didn't own that one, but often checked it out of the local library.

There was something about her drawings, a grace and charm, that--at least in my view--kept them from being twee. Meaning I can look at them now, as an adult, and still be as delighted with them as I was so many years ago.

It wasn't till much later that I discovered that the imaginary world Tasha had drawn for me, were to her and her offspring quite real and tangible. She dressed, kept house, gardened, and raised her family as a woman of the 1830's--first in the New Hampshire farmhouse, then on her Vermont property. No electricity. Virtually no mod cons. To some it might seem an eccentric choice. To me, it was a fascinating one.

Her stories inspired me to collect dolls, from a young age. Not just any dolls--the sort of old-fashioned dolls she drew so prettily:

Here's one of mine.

So, for Tasha, and in memory of her, here is this morning's bouquet of Shailer's Provence, also known as Gracilis, a rose dating from 1796.

In this season of roses--and robins, though mine look very different than Mary Lennox's friend--I feel a need to take A Secret Garden down from the shelf again. At a meeting last night I met a Yorkshireman. Talking to him at length I was reminded of my days roaming the moors, to which I was first introduced by Burnett's story.

To any Tasha Tudor friends out there, what was your favourite book, written or illustrated by her?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Roses and More

I hadn't intended to blog today. But when I wandered through my garden a little while ago, I just had to share!

Stepping out onto the deck, I was greeted by this chipmunk. Clearly an old timer, accustomed to being hand-fed--because he rushed at me expectantly. And I just happened to have some safflower seed.

Chipmunks have been rather scarce lately, but now the yard is blooming with young 'uns. This new generation runs and hops and chases each other around and are generally underfoot.

Here are the statues I brought home on Saturday.

In past summers I've offered a Rose of the Day. Sometimes it's a favourite rose, sometimes it's the best photo.

Rose of the Day: Stanwell Perpetual

The first blossom of the season is always the biggest and the best. I've been growing this lovely thing for many years. It doesn't exactly perpetuate for me. Perhaps now that it's featured it as Rose of the Day it will feel the love and produce flowers all season!

It's of the pimpinellifolia species, and has an interesting history, being "An accidental hybrid found in Mrs. Lee's garden at Stanwell" sometime before 1836. She was the wife of the famous English nursery gardener and hybridist. In olden days it was described as "Medium-sized, full, cupped, white with a light blush."

Other roses in bloom...

Rose de Rescht, a Portland rose.

Henry Kelsey, a scarlet Candadian climber

Snowdon, my towering white rugosa

Mist rising at the edge of the woods.

I made a nosegay from my gleanings: roses (Henry Kelsey, Rose de Rescht, Shailers Provence, Four Seasons Rose), catmint, perennial sweetpea (lathyrus latifolius), ox-eye daisy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Beasts, Brattleboro, & Bridges

We started off our weekend with a lobster feast. After roaming the State House, my friend and I picked up three live chicken lobsters (approx. 1 & 1/4 pounds each, on special!) at the supermarket.

I had my usual fun teasing dogs with crustaceans. Was Ruth frightened of the lobster, or concerned about my mental state?

It was a lovely feast!

On Saturday morning, we took a road trip. Our first stop was Brattleboro, Vermont, just across the Connecticut River. I'm shopping for a mandolin upgrade--Number Four--and knew about a fantastic music store with lots of mandolins in stock.

With lots of advice and assistance from the extremely knowledgeable clerk (a very skilled mandolin player!), I tried out my hot prospect--the oval hole--and the runner-up.

And I tried out a whole lot more.

While I was test driving the inventory, H.H. took this awesome picture of the guitars.

When my fingers were tired, we asked one of the staff where we could get some lunch. Having just come from there, he directed us to Amy's Bakery Arts Café. Perfect! Highly recommeded!

From our table in Vermont, we had a lovely view of a New Hampshire mountain.

We crossed the Connecticut River again. Picked up wine at the NH State Liquor Store. Followed the Asheulot River. As we rode along in the direction of Swanzey, I had a feeling we might find a good place to shop for lawnware. A mile after voicing this thought, we passed a garden shop--oh, my goodness! When we left it, the car boot held an almost life-sized concrete fawn statue, a hedgehog, and a wee lady mouse dressed in clothing, who looks just like a Beatrix Potter character. All for only $30!!

The Chap, so excellent with navigation and maps, took us round the circuit of covered bridges in the area. Here's Bridge No. 1.

We explored five bridges in all. I've got so many photos that I'm plan to throw my best ones into a Facebook album. When I do, I'll post the link.

After seeing the bridges, we stopped at Keene for some shopping but no purchasing. When we got back to the Lodge, we had a home-cooked deli pizza for supper. Ruth and Jewel love pizza crusts!