"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

Monday, August 31, 2009

Living v. Blogging

It was no contest. I picked living life over blogging about it.

I was busy Saturday and Sunday enjoying life and enjoying our guest. Saturday was chilly and extremely rainy. After a banana French toast brunch, my friend and I just sat around the cottage reading and checking email and chatting and planning (or not) and discussing the book discovery of the year, a massive 1699-page tome by Meta Given. It's part of our cottage's fascinating cookery book collection.

Meta's encyclopedia of cooking (ours is one of seveal 1952 editions but it dates back to the 40's) contains recipes you wouldn't cook in a million years (weird wild critters, for instance.) But she also offers some very good basic dishes of all sorts and fantastic--often amusing--tips on food presentation. From her we learned many important things about being a good cook, a welcoming hostess, and a correctly-sized female. (According to Meta, a woman should weigh 123 lbs. Meaning I'm somewhat under-sized, by her standards. That's okay with me.)

On our way back to the Lodge we stopped to pick up lobstahs, so the Chap could hypnotise them...

...and steam them for our supper.

Thanks to her regular visits, she's become very adept at picking out lobster meat.

Yesterday morning we attended our church's annual outdoor service...

...and potluck picnic.

Back at home, we had a photo session involving people and dogs. My friend took this one.

Then it was time to go to the airport--sigh. My friend and I already have some plans for future get-togethers.

The Chap took me to the big mall and then our fave Mexican restaurant, where I tried to console myself with shopping and eating.

Friday, August 28, 2009

On and Around the Big Lake

This morning the cottage girls got up and out fairly early for our day out--a boat trip and circumnavigation of the lake.

We arrived at the Big White Boat's home port at The Weirs. I'm holding Sparkle my stuffed lizard and carrying a bag of provisions (bananas and trail mix mostly.)

It was the first sailing of the morning and not a very large crowd. Once we boarded, I saw a group of loons floating past.

Once we set out, we could see blue everywhere--lake, sky, mountains.

Up in the wheelhouse. As we all know, I've had the priviledged to "drive" the boat on the shakedown cruise. The weather was lots warmer today than it is the first week in May.

My friend is relaxing.

It was Family Day on the Mount. There was face painting by a clown. And Monty the Mallard, the ship's mascot, was present. He was peddling his "mini-me."

Treasure Island.

A 30-second video of the ship coming into Wolfeboro. If your audio is enabled, you'll hear the ship's horn.

Wolfeboro Town Docks.

I was scanning the crowd for a man with a camera who might be Ron, but I didn't spot him today. He often photographs at that site.

As we leave Wolfeboro Bay, we encounter the Winnipesaukee Belle, a side-wheel charter boat. (Which sometimes come down our bay and past our dock.)

Sparkle ventures out to admire the view of the Ossipee Mountains in the distance.

Two and a half hours after setting out, we return to the home port. It was the perfect cruise!

We stopped in Meredith to shop at Mills Falls Marketplace, then proceeded to the Loon Center in Moultonboro.

This map showed locations of resident loons.

Loon in flight.

From watching the video, we knew that the loons rotate the egg/s every few hours. We also learned the the first chick to hatch is the dominant one. I already knew that a female loon lays two eggs.

The Moultonboro Country Store is must-stop shopping. Items were purchased, including Christmas gifts.

Returning to Wolfeboro--by land this time instead of by water--we browsed on Maine Street but didn't buy. By then we were starving for our favourite Mexican restaurant.

Where they make the guacamole fresh, at tableside.

Our entrees were spectacular.

We completed our circumnavigation 11 and a half hours after departing, arriving at the cottage just as complete darkness fell. The trip odometer on the car read 62 miles. Actual driving time was 2 hours and 6 miinutes.

We have certainly made the most of our two days of dry, bright weather. Tomorrow it's raining. We might go to a movie. Lobsters for dinner back at the Lodge--yum!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Relaxing on the Lake

It's wonderful having my friend here. We've known each other so long and see each other too rarely.

On the way home we stopped at the Chap's office to see the new addition to his building and his new future office. It was being painted at that very moment.

We all went out for a seafood dinner--fried clams and fried oysters and fish and chips.

A shower had passed over and when we came out we saw a rainbow.

Today we came up to the lake cottage. It was a gorgeous day. We arrived in time for lunch on the dock. She really likes these chips!

A glider took advantage of the lovely day.

When I went to check the water temperature--77 degrees--the string tied to the thermometer gave way and it sank down to the bottom of the water.

I decided--egged on by my friend--that I'd better retrieve it. So I changed and prepared myself for a chilly swim.

But the water was at least 7 degrees warmer than the air. So once I was in, it felt really good.


Later in the afternoon we took a long walk, all the way around and over the Point and back.

Tomorrow we're cruising on the Big White Boat!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Beauty of Bugs

All my time at the lake means very little time in my garden. I was outside picking flowers for the Lodge--a guest is arriving this afternoon--and took the opportunity to photograph Charlotte. (All big spiders round here are christened Charlotte.)

She has constructed the most exquisite large web right outside my office window, and it's like having a tv nature documentary unfolding right before my eyes. I cheer her on every time she traps and wraps and devours a grasshopper, of which I have too many at this time of year--always. They are so destructive. I assume she will soon have an egg sac, and sometime this autumn we'll have lots of baby Charlottes to carry on her excellent work.

The other architects out back are the wasps. Near one of my rugosas I was clipping sweet peas and happened to notice this:

It's beautiful.

I returned to the house with loads of heather, sweet peas (the fragrant annual ones and the scentless perennial ones), and even a couple of well-timed roses.

Rose of the Day: Clothilde Soupert A few years ago I transplanted this one from a place where it was very crowded, and am happy to see that she is blooming in her new location.

Busy day in town yesterday. After the seclusion of the lake I find the traffic maddening and Concord was an obstacle course. But I had a nice music lesson and it was lovely seeing my friends. I had dinner with one of them at the Thai restaurant on Main Street because the Chap had a boad meeting at suppertime.

My big excursion for today is driving to the airport to collect my visitor.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Musical Monday & Lake Living

I'm not getting writing done yet...am enjoying quality time with my spouse, who's here till after supper tonight. I predict I'll be burning the midnight oil but that's ok.

We spent yesterday afternoon down at the dock. The girls had a duck encounter.

The Chap had a boat encounter.

Lots more people on the afternoon cruise than the morning one.

"I'm wet 'cause I went swimming too," says wee Ruth.

Jewel stayed out of the lake, high and dry until Ruth shook water all over her.

Today the air feels much nicer, there's a bit of breeze, too. Not many boats on the lake, so it's quieter round here. The Chap had a few errands down in the village.

A while ago I overheard our neighbour say, from his dock, "Do you see the loon?"

Down I went with the camera. And there, the long-awaited sight: a loon in the Bay. I think this might be a juvenile one, it hasn't got the obvious white breast and underside feathers of an adult.

I watched it for a long time, and we still can hear it now and again.

The other noisy juvenile in our life is a hummingbird who isn't quite sure how to use the feeder. I think it's a little shy of us sitting here on the porch watching his efforts. It chirps almost constantly. I love the sound.

The Onion likes to come up with stories set in NH. Here's one about man and dog in a "local" dog park: Dog Humiliated in Front of Entire Park. In the interest of total accuracy, I will tell you that while yes, there is a dog park in Concord (a relatively recent addition) it does not have the name referenced in the article. And I was amused by the mention of "a local post office," because Concord, the Capitol City of NH has but one Post Office located in a shopping center on the inconvenient side of the river for the majority of area residents. We call it the "Disco P.O." for a variety of reasons. It's large, well-lighted, always crowded, and the radio station playing in the sorting area used to be loud enough to hear at the counter.

All the exchanges between the dog owner in the story and Banjo the Border collie mix (I know that breed well!) occur with regularity in the Porter household. But we keep it within our own walls. No dog humiliation in public. Mind you, Ruth and Jewel are about as likely to appear in a dog park as they are to take my new car on a joy-ride.

Here's a Monday video. It's a summery song, with references to thunderstorms, lightning, and a hurricane (we witnessed slight effects from Hurricane Bill, nothing like the coast and Maine and Nova Scotia). Oh, and sugar cane...something we don't really get here in New England.

Lots of activity and fun stuff planned for the week ahead. So excited! I have to be in Concord tomorrow for mandolin lesson and a diocesan meeting. After that--well, you'll see!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Stroll: On the Bay

At the water's edge, there are signs of a seasonal change on its way.

The other sign was the cars, campers and boat trailers leaving Maine yesterday morning, and headed south from the lake yesterday afternoon. In some places school is starting up. Not as many watercraft on the bay as other summer Sundays. Some will be taken out this afternoon, then taken out.

But there's no question that it's still summer...the air is so thick and heavy and humid.

The sunshine was out when the girls and I had our morning walk. We went down to the dock to admire the view.

Down the Bay to the Point.

Up the Bay.

Ruth, still training for doggie Olympics.

She goes in to cool down, or just for fun, and comes out almost immediately, shaking water everywhere. Jewel is looking for blueberries...not many left now.

We came inside for a elevenses--a cup of tea (me), a nap (them.) Then I heard the chug of the motorship in the distance--a few minutes early today--and hurried back down to dock to take a picture.

Soon as I got there with my camera, the captain sounded the horn. I'm quite sure he was doing it as a special greeting to me. (No other boats or people on the Bay at that moment.) Normally the horn doesn't go until he passes by the Point. And a couple of minutes later, it did.

The Chap just rang...he was at church this morning and is now on his way to join us. Will he make it by the time the big white boat passes up the Bay?

Whenever I look out over the water, I hope to spot an eagle like the ones on the river on Friday. However, the only birds round here are inland gulls and low-flying ducks. And the hummingbirds!

We're supposed to have afternoon storms, but I hope we get a swim in before they come.

For more strolls, stop by at Aisling's blog.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Endless Eagles

I know--that's no eagle. It's the turkey who crossed the road barely a mile from the Lodge this morning. The Vice Chair of Fish & Game & Marine Resources always brakes for turkeys. More turkey news at the conclusion of this post.

I was on my way to the coast. At Portsmouth I crossed the bridge over the Piscataqua River to Maine.

I was headed for one of the coastal towns just north of Brunswick. I made really good time and checked into my Freeport hotel late in the morning. Settled in, rang the Chap to say I'd arrived safely and departed for my author friend's house.

It was a busy day for them--having a summer house in Maine means plenty of family and friends drop by. They had planned a boat ride on the Kennebec River, and after phone consulation with the boatman it was decided that we would not be deterred by grey skies.

So we drove down to the marina.

That's our yellow boat and yellow-shirted boatman.

There were six passengers altogether--my friend and her husband, their two boys and a friend of the elder son, and me. We all had cameras.

Setting out.

We passed by the Iron Works, where a ship was being fitted out.

During our journey we saw plenty of man-made platforms for osprey nests--but some birds like to pick out their own nesting sites.

This property has it all: dwelling, boat house, and its own little lighthouse.

We were eagle- and osprey- and heron-watching all the way down river. And we saw seals. We discussed whether eagles were "cuddly" or not. My friend and I chatted about writing books and reading them.

As we neared the ocean, the fog grew ever thicker. When the boatman's visibility was down to only 2 feet (!) he decided to turn back. He has electronic equipement and could've carried on, but he said other boats might not, which would be dangerous.

A view through the mist.

I sort of lost count of how many eagles we saw. This was the first one.

A juvenile. Probably the offspring of Eagle 1--they seem drawn to the same perch!

One juvenile flew down to the water right in front of us and picked up something in its claws. We thought it was a fish, but when it perched in a tree we realised it was actually an eel--which you can see dangling down from where his feet are perched.

The captain stopped the boat so we could watch the eagle eating.

This was the fourth eagle we saw.

And away he goes.

My camera was giving me a "low batteries" message so I didn't take any seal pictures. The light wasn't advantageous for shooting objects in the water, and by the time we'd spotted a seal, it would duck under the surface. I skipped photographing at least one eagle. Maybe two.

There are two eagles in this shot. One by the nest, to the left, and the mate is to the right. I think these are 6 & 7.

The one not on the nest went soaring away.

We saw more eagles, ospreys, ducks, blue herons, and Canada geese.

After the wonderful boat ride we went back to the house. My friend and I had a nice stroll through her neighbourhood and to downtown for an iced coffee. All the fellows had scattered, and they returned with dire weather news--tornado warnings and fierce thunderstorms from NH to inland and coastal counties of Maine. I decided it was time to head back to Freeport, and with heartfelt thanks for a wonderful, memorable afternoon, off I went.

On my brief drive south, the skies were the clearest I'd seen all day, with even a hint of blue seaward. The gathering clouds were very distant and well to the west. So I decided to stop here and shop a bit.

I spent more time in the dog department than anywhere.

I bought a little something for the Chap and crossed the street to another favourite shop. When I exited, the biggest blackest thundercloud I'd ever seen was hovering over Bean's. I thought I was hearing the dreaded "freight train" tornado sound, till I realised it was just heavy Friday traffic from nearby I-295, behind the store. On my way out of town I grabbed some food. Made it back to the hotel as the first drops were falling. I never even got wet, but now there's a downpour. Nothing too severe, though, despite all the warnings.

Back in the Granite State, the Chap was having dinner with relatives. He ordered the turkey plate...which brings me back to the wild turkey you met at the start of this post.

My green stuffed lizard Sparkle, who made her blog debut in Montreal, came along for this trip, too. But with all those eagles and raptors in the sky, looking for prey, I decided she'd be safer in my bag.