"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, July 31, 2010

Wedding on the Lake

There could not have been a more beautiful day for the wedding of our Friend From the North Country and her beloved. Sunshine, clear blue sky, perfect temperature. Oh, what a day! We were delighted to welcome friends old and new to the shores of our bay.

This cottage has sheltered some family honeymooners, but as far as we're aware, no nuptials have ever taken place here. Until today. What a happy additon to the long history of this house.

Married people clasping hands.

The bride is a priest, and presided during the communion service.

The champagne and sparkling cider were chilled and ready.

So was the food.

Ruth seeks a handout from the groom.

She later embarked upon a love affair with the wedding couple's dog, who was secreted in the back bedroom.

The wedding planner and official event photographer with her most unruly assistant, who unfortunately detected the presence of the Other Dog. And in one tense moment, came face to face with him.

After some fellowship and photo ops around the cottage, on the dock, and on the porch, we became a moveable feast and headed up to Wolfeboro for a wedding dinner at El Centenario. Tableside guacamole and salsa, lots of margaritas, many plates of chicken mole, just as many of flan, and a combustible dessert.

Believe it or not, this is ice cream.

It's fried ice cream, flamed with rum and sprinkled with cinnamon. And topped with whipped cream and chocolate.

Driving home through the dusk, the Chap and I were listening to "our" songs, some of which we heard the night we married. The perfect conclusion to a powerfully and profoundly romantic day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Love the Furminator

I own a host of dog-grooming tools, but only one lives up to the hype.

Ruth and Jewel don't have long or thick coats--unlike the 2 huskies or the 2 shelties with whom I've shared my life--nor do they spend much time outdoors in winter. But both have Border collie genes, and we do live in the Northern latitudes. Meaning that we must endure an annual Shedding Season.

They're mostly black dogs, but Jewel in particular has an oddly pale undercoat.

I'm fortunate that the girls love to be groomed. Truly, truly love it--especially Ruth. A few months ago when I bought the Furminator (on major discount at TJ Maxx) I was more afraid of it than they were! It has sharp teeth and is a hefty object. I tend to groom with rather a heavy hand, so I wondered whether I'd need to groom more gently than I do with other devices.

No worries. I can dig in as hard as I want, and the girls still love it.

The fur slides right off the dog, and there's a nifty release button so it drops right off, no need to pull at it.

Jewel doing her impression of a table. You can see she's not fussed about the Furminator.

Wee Ruth wiggles with excitement the moment she sees the Furminator in my hand. She can't get enough...even though she has less of a shedding coat than Jewel does.

Thus, grooming is a fun time for all. So fun, in fact, that when I weary of the task they turn their brown doggie eyes on me and plead, "Please don't stop!" (If only I could train them to pick up and dispose of the fur strewn along the ground beside the house!)

Perhaps I can divert them with a swim in the lake!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday @ the Cottage

The dogs and I arrived on Friday afternoon and the Chap was here by early evening. We're having a perfect weekend by the Big Lake. Reading, walking, swimming, cooking, dining, sleeping like logs.

It was warm and humid yesterday. By late afternoon we took to the water, which is now at 78 degrees, about as high as it goes. All along the shore of our Bay, families were on their docks and floats with their kids, their company, their watercraft, their canines, their toys. We all went swimming except Jewel, who mostly kept busy eating blueberries and huckleberries within reach.

Last night's dinner was the delicious braised monkfish, with cherry tomatoes and tons of fresh basil from my plants here, which are very, very productive.

There was rain in the night, lots of it judging from the width and depth of puddles the girls and I encountered on our morning walk. It's not as humid as yesterday, and breezy. The Chap went to church this morning and will stop at the Lodge for some provisions. While he's away, we're having a very quiet--some might say lazy--morning.

I might resume my knitting. Here's my current project. The last time I worked with this sort of Homespun wool, I found it challenging but now I seem to have got the knack of it.

Ruth reclines on her cushion.

Jewel checks to see whether I've updated her Facebook status.

Today, I predict, will be much like yesterday--swimming, walking, reading, a few easy tasks--except I'm not cooking tonight, we're having Singapore Curry Noodles from Ping's. The Mad Men season premiere is a much-anticipated event.

The wedding that will take place here next Saturday is even more eagerly anticipated and a frequent topic of conversation, and planning our UK trip runs a close second.

Hard to believe July has but one week left. But I'm not sorry because many wonderful things are happening in the first half of August!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Last night at the Lodge, sleep was interrupted by the mad howling of what some folks in these parts call coy dogs, aka coyotes. It was a squealing, screaming pack somewhere in our back woods, not too far out. It's an eeries sound and one we've practically never heard here, definitely once, possibly twice, in 16 1/2 years.

Ruth and Jewel (mostly Jewel) responded instantly, with mad howling and yowling and shrieking of their own. We were under attack by alien canids, and they were ready to protect us.

Unfortunately, one of the coyotes seemed to have got separated from its pack, and ended up in the woodland on the side of our bedroom where the window is. It was yelling to its family to come find it--that's how I interpreted the persistent sharp barking. Jewel was screaming back, warning it that danger dogs inside the house were ready for a fight.

It was funny and frustrating all at once. I climbed down from bed and cradled Jewel in my arms, trying to calm her. She curled up against me, a quivering warm mass of doggy dudgeon. Ruth let out one of her spectacular yowls every now and then...which sound suspiciously like a coyote howl. Are we harbouring the enemy in our midst?

Eventually equilibrium--and blessed silence--were restored.

Up early this morning for a big day, the installation of new granite countertops and kitchen sink, and the receiving of various painting professionals to give estimates on the next phase of work. It was a noisy day of chaps cutting and polishing stone, shifting ppliances out of the way and back, hoovering up stone dust, answering my questions. They were wonderful and efficient workers, and finished before I thought they would.

Our new kitchen work surfaces are now in place, shiny and beautiful. The final plumbing work on sink unit will be done first thing tomorrow. I've gained a most welcome and advantageous additional 14 inches of counter in the course of this home improvement. Mind you, certain areas are still a shambles, and we haven't any running water in the kitchen, meaning the washing up will be done in the guest bath. The admirable results are well worth the temporary disruption and upheaval.

Quite coincidentally and unintentionally, we picked out the exactly same granite my mother has in her kitchen! When I told her the colour/pattern, she said, "Same as mine!" It looks lovely in her house as well.

I would be hovering in the kitchen, admiring the changes and holding up paint chips to determine the perfect colour for the surrounding walls. But last night's lack of sleep is having its way with me, and I'm inclined to have a nap instead!

Friday, July 16, 2010

By the Lake

My Friend From The North Country (FFTNC) arrived yesterday shortly after the girls and I got here, she was bearing delicacies for our supper. We had a pleasant relaxing evening.

This morning we both enjoyed some fresh strawberries for breakfast. Not long after, she was stretched out on the sofa with Jewel & Ruth. I don't think those 2 cups of coffee she'd had were very effective!

We took our lunch down to the dock. In anticipation of an afternoon swim, I checked the water temperature: 77 degrees. Very swimmable!

Photo ops with the dogs.

Lake traffic.

We picked blueberries from the bush growing at the water's edge.

Ruth wandered up the hillside to devour huckleberries. Most of them aren't yet ripe but she seems not to care!

We came back up to the house to plan the wedding that will take place here a fortnight from tomorrow! We started on the porch but a wonderful rainstorm is passing over so we've moved into the sitting room. The rain on the roof sounds wonderful!

Not sure we're going to get that swim, after all. But the showers might blow over. Either way, we're happy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Talk Talk Talk

The latest photo of Terry and me, taken yesterday at lunch by her husband.

Had a nice visit to Portsmouth, dining with the Gerritsens at our fave Italian place, sharing news of family and writing and publishing and travels and growing things.

The drenching overnight rain continued through some of the day, and has really greened up the landscape. We needed the water desperately.

My topic last night for the library program was "Water Your Mind," the kick-off for their Adult Summer Reading Program. The event exceeded everybody's wildest expectations, including my own. A large and enthusiastic group, a bit of show and tell, good audience participation with Q&A. Local media presence. Organisers pleased. Cake and brownies and more conversation afterwards. So glad they invited me.

We served on the new library building committee and were major donors (however, the Porter Reading Room was not the location for my talk--we were in the big meeting room!) So my appearance there had special meaning.

With the Chap away, I'm unaccustomed to so much talking--first at lunch, and then all evening long! My throat was tired when I got back to the Lodge.

Busy today, in advance of another another hot and extended period beside the Big Lake. With dogs. And a houseguest. Must remember to pick some flowers to take along.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Busy Bee

I'm seated in my office at the Lodge watching a bumblebee attack the monarda (bee balm) growing outside the window. He's such a huge bee that his weight pulls down the flower stalk. It has been a most enjoyable distraction as I catch up on emails and blogs and things after 48 hours of limited connectivity.

My trusty laptop, that old reliable traveller and frequent flier (if it had a passport, you'd be impressed), finally collapsed--its hard drive failed. Since taking it to the shop, I've used the Chap's laptop, but when he left on a trip to see friends, family, and attend and conference for work I had to paw through our collection of "to be recycled" laptops to find something to take with me to the lake cottage. The "newest"--I use that term advisedly--was an old Gateway running Windows 98. It predates high-speed and wireless! I managed to keep on top of email by activating a dial-up account but internetting was impossible.

Our near neighbours at the lake have a "no television" policy that goes back generations, and which they hope the younger generation will continue. But over the weekend I was told that the younger generation are more concerned by the lack of internet.

To catch you up...

On Saturday I attended a most beautiful memorial service in downtown Concord, at the big church next to the State House. Truly a bittersweet occasion, filled with family and friends and wonderful music--and three bishops participating. We mourned and celebrated a dear man, a faithful priest, and a great scholar--a Fellow at Cambridge, a longtime rector at a Massachusetts parish. In his retirement he sometimes preached in our parish--he lives in the next town over. It was one of those funerals where I didn't, I couldn't cry, it was such a long life and so well-lived. But...the recessional hymn was Jerusalem, as befitted his Anglo sympathies, and that's when I lost it. The swelling organ, the well-pitched voices, William Blakes's poignant words--I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

Later in the day I had a brake light on the Honorable vehicle replaced. I picked up my FFTNC from the airport and we dined at La Carreta before she began her northward journey.

On Sunday morning I loaded the dogs into the car and headed for the lake cottage, arriving in good time for the annual Road Association Meeting. Our place is on the private (unpaved) part of the Private Road, but the discussion on the next phase of re-paving was of abiding interest. I study the road surface very closely 2 and often 3 times a day, when the girls and I are out walking. Met a new neighbour and re-connected with old ones.

During my time beside the water I kept cool by swimming. I ate my well in fresh local blueberries. I walked the girls. I read books. I thought a lot about my talk at the library (tomorrow night!). I began knitting a child-sized scarf to go in the Christmas season winter woollens box at church, to be given out at local welfare offices. I swept and scrubbed and generally tidied up, as I'll be having a houseguest later in the week.

Last night I was glued to the television watching the new TV crime drama, Rizzoli & Isles, helping it achieve the best-ever ratings for a show of its type.

Tomorrow I'm headed for the Seacoast to have lunch with the characters' creator, novelist Tess Gerritsen, aka our friend Terry, and her husband. We'll have lots to celebrate. Wish the Chap could be there. We last saw her last autumn--while we were in Antwerp at the same time and had dinner together. Here we are outside the Italian restaurant in October.

I wish I could attend her appearance at Barnes & Noble, however, I've got a gig of my own at the same exact time!

The weather is warm and humid. I'm afraid this Apothecary Rose (rosa gallica) will be the last of the roses for a while, we've had so little rain.

I've got lots of other flowers to enjoy, and we're supposed to have storms over the next couple of days...so I should get another decent flush from the re-bloomers in a few weeks.

Seconds ago Ruth's yowl and Jewel's barking alerted me to the arrival of the FedEx man, with my new ultralight, ultraportable laptop (even more ultra than the dead one). So having signed for my parcal, I now sign off here to begin loading software and program files and generally checking out the new equipment.

Friday, July 09, 2010


If you follow the national media--broadcast, print and internet--or you live in the mid-Atlantic region to New England, you've probably heard more than you care to about the heat wave. We're in the 5th day now--or is it the 4th? I suppose it depends where you are. I'm losing track.

As far as I can remember, I returned to the Lodge from the lake house on Tuesday. My mind is sort of mushy, less from the heat than from a packed schedule and so many decisions. Recent days are a blur of paint samples and granite countertop patterns and prices, boxes overflowing with book donations for the local library and items for Goodwill. I'm constantly reaching for my calendar, as some new meeting, appointment, party, memorial service, wedding, fitting, tradesman or repairman visit, out of state guest (yay!!), or other event has to be added. I thought July would be a calm and peaceful, possibly dull month...and now August is shaping up to be rather active also!

The flora are surviving the blazing sun and blasting heat.

The fauna know that the best defense against the hot weather is keeping the blinds down or finding a cool dark cavern!

I certainly hope the climate is more moderate wherever you are.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Sunday Stroll: Foraging

My red, white & blue breakfast. I went down to the dock this morning to pick the blueberries, which are ripening just in time.

It occurs to me that like the Stars and Stripes, the Union Jack is also red, white & blue. I leave you to draw your own conclusions about my divided loyalties. Can't help it, I had relatives on both sides of the long-ago struggle for possession versus independence....

Last night the town at the bottom of the bay held the annual fireworks show. There's a floating bandstand, people come by land and water to watch. We sit here at the lakeside and observe the thick flow traffic down the Bay before the show, and up the Bay immediately afterwards. We spotted Winnipesaukee Belle in the pack, beautifully lit with a live band on board. We could hear the music as it went by the cottage.

New England is entering a heat wave, with temperatures soaring to 90 and above for the entire week. At the moment we're thankful for a cool breeze and cool lake water. The Chap and Ruth went swimming yesterday and I mean to do it today. Jewel isn't so keen, but perhaps she can be tempted.

Wishing my US visitors a most happy 4th of July and a pleasant holiday tomorrow. Have fun and be safe!

To keep strolling, stop by Aisling's blog.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Privacy & Publicity

Busy Thursday...departed the cottage and returned to the Lodge. Rushed to Concord to meet my FFTNC and gave her a lift to the airport, then back to Concord for mandolin lesson. Returned to the Lodge to feed the dogs and take care of a few things.

Driving up the hill I spotted a pair of wild turkeys and their brood. I counted at least 8 poults. Remembering I had the camera, I tried to get some shots as they wandered into the woods. They were trying to maintain their privacy, something I can appreciate.

Around 5 p.m. I made for Concord (again!) to meet my dinner date, the Chap--aka Birthday Boy. I treated him at our new favourite restaurant in town, which boasts a very creative chef who uses locally sourced foods.

(Vegetarians, look away!)

I had the skirt steak topped with garlic scape butter, with mashed sweet potatoes and broccoli.

He had the pork loin with sauce and fingerling potatoes and a funny presentation of a shrimp!

On the way back to the Lodge I paused to photograph this sign. The announcement suddenly sprouted on a major east-west NH highway.

It feels strange, this blatant publicity. (Totally unexpected.) When I was a young actress, I dreamt of seeing my name in lights on a theatre marquee. Now, as a not-so-young writer, I'm seeing it in magnetic letters on the roadside.

The weather here is about to change from unseasonably chilly to sizzling--which is, I suppose, more appropriate to Independence Day.

Have a delightful weekend.