"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, May 30, 2010

Saturday Sunset, Sunday Stroll

Last night we went to Wolfeboro for dinner with friends. Arrived at the cottage just in time for the golden-red sunset over the mountains and lake...but by the time I found my camera, the sun had dropped behind the hills and it had entered the pink-purple phase.

I'll have many more opportunities to improve upon last night's attempt at sunset photography.

The Big White Boat was on time this morning. I only strolled as far as the wee deck off the screened porch, and waited till it entered the gap between the hemlock branches.

After a busy day yesterday of preparing for and receiving visitors, the dogs and I are having a quiet morning at home. The Chap went to church and visited the Lodge and will return with mail and newspapers and some spuds to go with the steaks we're having tonight.

Wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying this Sunday. For a recent garden stroll, see my Friday entry. To continue strolling, visit Aisling's blog.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Garden @ the Lodge

Left the lake cottage yesterday for some Concord errands and music lesson, and an overnight at the Lodge.

As I was having breakfast, I heard my all-time favourite author interviewed by the BBC. It was such a happy surprise, because she's not at all well known, although her nonfiction work (a biography) received great acclaim. One of her novels changed my life, and over the years I've collected her backlist, all except her volume of poetry. For a very long time I've had fantasies about running into her on the streets of London and falling at her feet in worship...for now I'll simply rejoice at the unexpected radio interview. I just wish the presenter had asked what she's working on now.

No, I'm not telling who she is. Sorry. Some things are meant to stay private.

Also this morning I wandered through my garden.

Lilac and lilac lover.

Purple lupine. (The bumblebee was camera-shy.)

Reliably the first of my roses to bloom, Double Blush Burnet, my favourite Scotch rose.

However, this year it was beaten to the post by Therese Bugnet, a towering rugosa hybrid.

I saw plenty of roses, rugosas and other sorts, round Concord yesterday. Everybody else's lilacs are spent, but mine is a late-blooming species. I cut many many fronds--armfuls, in fact--to scent the cottage. And some of my roses roses and ox-eye daisies, too.

I bought a passiflora to grow on the porch, called "Perfumed Passion." According to the photo on the tag, it's not as luxuriously fringed as my beloved species version at the other house, but I look forward to seeing the flowers it produces. I thought it was good value for money, it's a very mature plant and came with its own little trellis, so its already trained.

When the dogs and I arrived, we went down to the water to feed Walter the fish. The water temperature is up to 68 degrees F. We sat at the end of the dock and I dipped my toes in--the surface water is quite warm, probably in the 70s. We cuddled and enjoyed the lovely view and the peace and quiet of the lake...which will be short-lived, as it's a holiday weekend and lots of weekenders and summer people will be launching their boats and jet skiis.

Looking forward to the Chap's arrival and receiving visitors tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Morning Traffic Report

Traffic = Boat.

Fish Report: Walter has finished his nest and is awaiting his mate.

Weather Report: It was hot at 5 a.m. when I let the dogs out. It was hot at 8.30 a.m. when we went for a walk. And it's getting hotter. There's a breeze coming off the water.

Dog Report: Napping at my feet. Maybe dreaming of a swim.

Productivity Report: Not available. Too hot to write. So I'm reading Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. Immersing myself in descriptions of a Swedish winter is quite refreshing in the midst of a heat wave!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day of Firsts

Yesterday was very pleasant here on our Bay.

Late in the morning I was standing on the porch gazing down at the dock. The lake was still, the sunlight was bright, and the water so clear that even from a distance I could've counted the rocks on the bottom of the lake. I noticed a shadow. Then I realised it was swimming.

It was my first sighting of Walter. My pet fish had returned!

He's a smallmouth bass, and he nests in the same place every year. Last summer I took pictures of him with Mrs. Walter...reproducing.

His missus hasn't turned up yet, but he's getting ready, brushing aside the pebbles to make a circular clearing. The spawn will be deposited in its centre...whenever Mrs. W turns up.

Isn't he handsome?

I jumped into the car and drove up to the little local store to buy live worms. Not to catch Walter...to feed him. He seemed very hungry.

Another first occurred after the girls and I had a nice walk. We wandered down to the dock to visit the fish. Jewel, on her leash, was walking the edge and lost her balance and fell in the lake. (Practically on top of Walter!) I dropped the leash and she swam round to the stepping stones and climbed up onto the dock. Ruth, who was off-leash, realised that swimming season was open, and trotted down the rocks and swam a few feet before coming back.

At sunset, the next first--a loon calling in the Bay.

Today has been much the same. Checking on Walter, walking the dogs, Ruth swimming. No loon cries yet, but here's hoping.

It's a very hot day. As the mercury heads towards 90 degrees, I'm tempted to follow Ruth's example and take a plunge in the 59 degree water.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Stroll: Roaming

We left the lake cottage around midday yesterday. I was only away 24 hours before returning. During that time I made an emergency run to the grain store for bird seed and also acquired a tomato plant and some portulaca for the cottage planters.

In the evening we attended a dinner party with a Mediterranean theme, from the starters to the dessert. Our main course was grilled lamb, and with it we had carrots and root vegetables and salad and couscous. We provided the bread, a combination of gyros bread and 2 sorts of pita, plus my own homemade aioli for dunking or spreading. Afterwards it was baklava and Mejul dates with grapes and cinnamon orange slices. What a feast!

This morning we attended Pentecost service. Here's a shub near the church door.

Nearly all the parishioners wore red, and I was one of them.

During church I remembered that I had my christening on Whitsunday, which it also is. On that occasion, I wore white.

Back at the Lodge, I did some gardening tasks. My very first rose has bloomed, the rugosa Therese Bugnet. Usually the Scotch roses are the first...they are almost ready to pop. But that's true of so many other varieties!

I missed out getting a rose photo but here's one of my bleeding hearts.

The yew is showing nearly every shade of green as the new foliage comes in.

A pot of pansies on the deck.

While picking lily of the valley to scent the lake house, I decided to dig up some of the plants to transplant around the cottage. Which concludes a rather circular journey, because my masses of muguet de bois which have taken over the Lodge property (which my permission) were actually purchased in the village where the lake house is located. So essentially I brought the plants back "home." Whether they'll take I do not know, the soil on our ridge is not very conducive to plants but if anything can grow, I suspect l.o.t.v. will.

On our way up, the girls and I stopped at our favourite garden centre to buy colourful flowers to fill our planters here on the lake.

Soon as I finished all my garden tasks, the Big White Boat made its final trip of the day past our dock.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Whose Chair Is It?

It's not just the humans who love sitting on the porch at the lake cottage.

Jewel takes full advantage of the seat and the scenery.

She knows that it's my favourite chair.

I've been here since Thursday, after an after noon of Concord errands which included a reception for a fellow State Rep retiring after 18 terms in the House. (That's 36 years of public service.) A huge turnout of leadership, House colleagues, nonprofit and state agencies, and her family members.

Then I dashed back to the Lodge and the girls and I came up here to enjoy 2 perfect days--sunny, warm, still. The Chap joined us yesterday afternoon. We aren't staying the full weekend due to other commitments but some of us will soon return...

...to the best and comfiest chair on the porch.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Day in the House

I had the text of this post written and when I saved I only got the pictures. So for the second time around I'll have to be more pithy, I've got very few brain cells left.

It was the strangest House session I've ever experienced, including ceremony, hospitality, tension, insults, a challenge to the Senate, and raucous behaviour.

At the start of the day we marked the annual Lafayette Day, the anniversary of the Marquis de Lafayette's last visit to New Hampshire. On that occasion he addressed the Legislature and planted an elm tree on the State House lawn. The tree lived a long time but eventually succumbed to Dutch Elm disease.

Today the Comte de Lafayette, a direct descendant, was with us to mark the 185th annivesary of the visit and the tree-planted. In the morning rain he planted an elm tree hybridised to be disease resistent. And then he addressed the Legislature as his ancestor did.

The Honour Guard.

The most decorated French veteran of World War II. The Comte is behind him.

A historian gave us a descripton of Lafayette's heroism, military feats, and his visits to New Hampshire.

A representative--a former Speaker of the House and son of a Speaker--exhibited a gavel used by him and his father, created from the wood of the elm tree that died.

The Comte was gracious in his remarks about the friendship of our two nations and his pleasure in being here today.

The Speaker presented him with a memento made of NH granite.

We then returned to our business. We concurred with Senate amendments to House bills, or non-concurred and requested committees of conference. We essentially issued a challenge to the Senate and required them to give us an answer by 3 p.m.

Then we had to set aside our differences and smile for the photographer who took our Class Photo.

I was smiling, because I knew we were having our annual Ice Cream Social at dismissal. Which occurred at 2:00.

The Sergeant at Arms, the Majority Leader, and the Governor. I guess he heard about all the craziness in Representatives Hall and came to check on us before we were called to order.

The Senate agreed to our challenge--demands--and agreed to form commmittees of conference to attempt compromise on the budget reduction and revenue enhancement bills.

We adjourned at 6 p.m., just as the 5K Road Race--a fundraiser for the hospital--was staring. All the streets round the Capitol were closed or closing, but I managed to get out and cross the river to meet our FFTNC for a quick supper at Boloco. She's spending the night at the Lodge.

After a day like this, I'm in desperate need of lake time. So I'm headed there tomorrow!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lakeside Monday Morning

We returned to the Lodge with our FFTNC on Friday, in time to whip up a nice dinner for the Chap and ourselves. On Saturday we had a diocesan event for the 6 churches in our convocation. An excellent program, and we saw people we don't often see so a nice chance to catch up. And the food was fantastic!

Back at the Lodge I grabbed some provisions and the dogs and came back to the Big Lake for the rest of the weekend. The weather has been a bit dodgy...cool but sunny. Sunday was tediously windy, but at sunset last night the wind died and all was still. And still is.

After our morning walk, we went down to the dock.

I think I'll let the screened porch serve as my office today.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Reprieve

After a House Session and a shorter than usual Diocesan Council meeting yesterday, our FFTNC and I had seafood dinner and returned to the Lodge where the Chap and the dogs welcomed us with wine and affection. Our celebration for surviving the crazy week involved loading up the car with canines and heading for the cottage on the Big Lake for a peaceful, restful afternoon (not counting our walk to the Point and back, which was energetic and good exercise!)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

From the Maelstrom

Yes, I still exist.

It's a very intense (to put it mildly) week of legislative activity, with some diocesan activity thrown in just to keep me even more on my toes.

When at the Lodge, I occasionally have the pleasure of photographing beautiful and colourful birds, but haven't any time to post the pictures. At present we are hosting hummingbirds, Baltimore orioles (male & female), rose-breasted grosbeaks (male & female), blue jays (male & female, but who can tell the difference?), cardinals (male & female), purple finches (male & female), mourning doves, downy & hairy woodpeckers (male & female). Did I forget anybody? Oh--we think a raptor paid a visit, because a very large dropping was left upon the deck rail.

Chipmunks, too, are very busy, rushing about stealing seed from the feeders and stuffing into their burrows.

Am adjusting to the momentous changes and challenges in British politics, and rather enjoying the show now that all is settled about the coalition, leadership, and policies (at least as far as I can tell.) Will let you know if I notice any differences when I'm over there in a few months' time....

I'm on lunch break from the House and about to be late for the call back to order.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Soggy Anniversary

Sixteen years ago today, after over a decade as seasonal residents, we became year-round residents of this great state. We lived here at the cottage for some weeks, while waiting to take possession of the Lodge. It's a date to celebrate.

Yesterday's gales died out, giving way to heavy rain in the early hours. It has been grey, drippy, and foggy. The girls and I had our first walk of the day at 8.45, and we're about to venture out for our second walk. (Yesterday, when it was sunny, we had 3 walks!)

A perfect day for curling on the sofa with laptop and dogs, sipping hot cocoa, listening to streaming live BBC Radio 4, planning a festive solo meal of hand-made mini whole wheat pizza (tomato, mushrooms, spinach, goat cheese) and wine.

I found out that my former local UK constituency went strongly Lib Dem in the election, something of an anomaly, although a fortnight ago such a result was expected in many constituencies other than Bristol West. It's been very interesting listening to the post-election analysis. Whoever has the privilege and responsibility of forming a government has a tough road ahead. I see pros and cons to all the possibilities. I long ago lost patience with Labour, collectively and individually, so I'm not bemoaning their losses. The Tories are far, far better on rural and countryside issues, which are vastly important to me; at heart I'm fiscally conservative, plus I'm a recovering Euro-skeptic. But...I've got areas of disagreement there, too. The Lib Dems made things a bit more exciting for a little while, Proportional Representation sounds fairer than the present method of allocating Parliamentary seats, but I seriously doubt they'll be getting their way on that point.

So, like Her Majesty, I simply await events, and will assess the outcome when there is one.

Down by our dock, the blueberries are in bloom.

And the girls are wondering what happened to all those mountains on the other side of our bay!

I have several options for tomorrow's activities. All good.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The First Home

Had a busy Tuesday with weekly Chairs & Vice Chairs meeting, followed by lunch with FFTNC and her visitor, followed by some shopping. Yesterday the House was in session, we worked through our usual lunch break and finished up a bit after 2 p.m. as I recall. The most impressive vote was on establishing a permanent speed limit for Lake Winnipesaukee...which I am gazing upon at this moment...269 for, 78 against.

I can count remaining sessions on one hand now, I think. But the decisions ahead will be difficult and painful.

It's very nearly the 16th anniversary of our becoming year-round residents of this state, and I've returned to my first home in NH, where we lived for some time before moving into the Lodge.

Nine days earlier than last year, I've moved into the cottage on the Big Lake. The girls are with me. They waited patiently while I stopped at the supermarket for provisions. On arrival our first order of business, of course, was a vigorous walk--in the drizzle--but then a breeze came up and blew the clouds and rains away. It's not exactly warm enough to be porch weather but I have no complaint about the view from my "office" window.

I bought a Spanish lavender plant and placed it in the old family bean pot.

The Chap will be passing by this afternoon, on his way home from a conference in North Conway. He'll stop in for some supper, and to trade vehicles with me.

Listening to live streaming BBC 4 on Election Day in Britain, and I'm eager to know the results. I've got very mixed feelings, even more so than last time. But lately, I have mixed feelings about most everything!

My projects while in residence are re-stringing the mandolin that lives here and practising a current (and challenging!) tune, working on the next novel, and starting another baby sock monkey, even smaller than the one I made a few weeks ago.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Sunday Stroll: Journey

Parting shots from Montreal as we waited for the valet to bring round our car....A hockey tournament was taking place and our hotel was filled to the rafters with participants. Hockey isn't a sport north of the border, its a religion. So we saw lots of hockey gear.

And lots of dudes doing things like this.

We stopped at our usual Tim Horton's on the motorway for a boite of Timbits and some sandwiches for a picnic later. I never can resist photographing this sign...this time I have evidence that people are obeying the injunction!

We paused briefly in Errol. Some local colour.

Following the broad and beautiful Androscoggin River, we were on alert for moose--the signage leads one to believe the territory is swarming with them. Not yesterday.

We arrived at our destination in good time. Did a bit of exploring in the neighbourhood.

At our lodgings, our hostess's cat offered a friendly welcome.

But he looked a bit nervous on seeing all the luggage we pulled out of the car boot.

In the evening, thanks to our FFTNC, we attended a biannual fundraiser for the Randolph Mountain Club at the utterly awesome Libby's Bistro. Some of the best food we've ever eaten! It was an incredibly warm evening, but last week's very deep snowfall was a popular topic of conversation.

This morning we attended our friend's church. Delightful service with fantastic music and such friendly parishioners who made us feel very welcome.

We drove on to Gorham for lunch with our FFTNC at The Moonbeam, a fun cafe. The Chap took this photo of us.

She was headed off on a journey of her own, and we were bound for the Lodge with some stops along the way.

Entrance to the Mt. Washington Auto Road. Even in the highest of our high country, it was hot and humid. Just last week, 21 inches of snow fell on top of the peak. Lots of it had melted already.

Adjacent peaks.

We stopped in North Conway to pick up some amazing bargains at the Woolrich outlet. Next stop was the cottage on the Big Lake. It was too hot to do many chores and there really weren't any left.

As soon as we got home, I installed my new bird bath from Quebec.

Thanks for following along on my drive--I was rolling, not strolling today! To continue, visit Aisling's blog.