"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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Music, Words, & Pictures

As you can see, I've created my blog title banner with the "pearly" typewriter I spotted in a Curzon Street gallery a fortnight ago. There might be more tweaking before I get it exactly the way I want it, or I might leave it alone.

In London, we got by with only frigid temperatures and occasional flurries, when the rest of the country was blanketed with snow. So it is in New Hampshire. The ground around the Lodge is still bare of snow, although we've sometimes seen light flakes falling. Last night the mercury dropped to a single digit--I don't know exactly which one and don't much care to know! Meanwhile, the North Country is setting up for a very White Christmas. With 10 days to go, our hopes remain alive...typically by this time we've had significant snowfall.

Indoors it's plenty Christmas-y. Earlier this week, all gift-giving preparations were completed: purchasing, wrapping, shipping for all family and friends, domestic and overseas. The cards are in the post. Here I sit, a lady of leisure, stirring myself only for the intense schedule of holiday parties (3 in a row last Thurs., Sat., Sun. and more ahead!) For a time we considered resuming our defunct holiday party, but now we have these annual affairs crowding the calendar and no room for one of our own. That's all right, we're perfectly content to be Summer Party People!

With the novel on my mind, I'm immersed in 18th century England. I've got plenty of classical and even popular Georgian Christmas music, but this new acquisition is a wonderful compilation.

As for reading material, I find myself often delving into this recent purchase, Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915.

Large-format and richly illustrated, it shows garments in their entirety and detailed close-up views of the fabrics and decorations and accessories. The sumptuous, vibrant colours worn by men and women leap off the page. Published just a few months ago, it's my favourite fashion reference book find of the year!

The novel I read most recently took me back to the 17th century, to the courts of Louis XIV and Charles II. I picked up The Empress of Ice Cream at Hatchards in London...it doesn't seem to be available in the US which is a great shame for lovers of fact-based historical fiction. The chief characters are an Italian confectioner and ice-maker and his patroness, Louise de Keroualle, the English King's French mistress.

I'm doing my annual holiday reading as well. Having polished off Nancy Mitford's hilarious Christmas Pudding, I'm presently re-reading--and giggling my way through--Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. NPR listeners are familiar with "Santaland Diaries," his tale of slaving away as a Macy's Christmas Elf, but there's so much more to enjoy in this collection of wry, humourous, cynical essays.

Our first holiday visitor was a titmouse who flew into one of the Lodge's glass windows and stunned itself. I scooped it up, brought it inside to recover its senses--which it did--and inadvertently set it free inside the house. It flew about round our high ceilings...curiously, it never once landed on the Christmas tree! Here it is in the kitchen.

Eventually I was able to catch it in my hand and release it onto the deck. A few short hops, and off it flew, none the worse for the experience. I've since seen it and its mate at the bird feeders. We only have the 1 resident pair, so I'm confident it's the same one and it's in good health.

This morning I adorned Ruth & Jewel in their holiday kerchiefs for a photo session. First they had to do their "Rompin' around the Christmas tree" thing--

--but a short time later they were perfectly happy to pose.

I'm sipping my tea and watching the Berlin State Ballet's version of The Nutcracker on the Ovation channel--part of their "Battle of the Nutcrackers" series. It will be another afternoon with my head in the 18th century and my dogs napping on the sofa beside me.

Who's the working breed round here?

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