"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

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Wedding & A Garden

One of the nicest aspects of watching a Church of England marriage service is that it allows the Chap and me to re-live our own ceremony, which was nearly the same. The newly designated Duke and Duchess of Cambridge used the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. We chose 1928 version, not only because it preserves the language of the earlier form, but also for sentimental reasons: the copy of the prayer book used at our service was donated to the parish as a memorial to a member of my family.

We noted that Catherine Elizabeth Middleton did not promise to "obey" her husband. If I seem unevolved by choosing to use the word, which is printed right there in the rite we used, I can only say that I trusted my husband never to remind me of it. He hasn't done.

Yesterday morning I returned to the Lodge yesterday with the dogs. On the way home we stopped at the vet (don't ask!) at the grain store for bird seed, and to pick up a few Royal Wedding treats from Dunkin Donuts to enjoy as our wedding day breakfast. A bit of the icing got rubbed off in transit.

I had mine with a proper (brewed in a teapot!) cup of Berry Bros. & Rudd's English Breakfast tea, which I personally import in vast quantities.

After the wedding festivities concluded and the Chap had departed for his office and I stepped into my sunny garden to record the colourful display.

Columbine (aquilegia)

Daffodils & hyacinths

Daffodils & Snake's Head Fritillary (fritillaria)



Roses (indoors).

My right hand is somewhat incapacitated by a recent accident (don't ask!) Although it's healing more rapidly than I expected (no vet visit for me), unfortunately I cannot manage any garden work on this gorgeous day. Otherwise I'd be outside playing in the dirt. Instead I shall sit on the screened porch and sip elderflower cordial (also imported from Britain though not by me) and study for my role as faculty member for our upcoming diocesan School for Vestries. And possibly catch up my sleep with a nap before beginning dinner prep--a dish we have often consumed in Britain both at friends' homes and in favourite restaurants. It seemed appropriate given the event of the day!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lake Living

After a busy afternoon in Concord, the girls and I transferred from the Lodge to the Big Lake. The weather was damp and grey when we arrived and overnight showers fell (oh, how I love the sound of raindrops on the roof!). But late this morning the sun emerged!



This is, I believe, the earliest-ever move-in, which usually doesn't happen until May.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Day

This happy morning dawned bright and much warmer, melting memories of yesterday's snow. Dressed in our Easter best, we joined our fellow parishioners at church...the Chap read the first lesson and passed the collection plate for the Offertory. I took photographs. Our church was fragrant and colourful, decked with hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, and many white lilies.

Flowers were blooming outdoors as well.

After the service we hastened to the lake cottage for opening-up tasks. I did lots of groundskeeping--raking leaves and pine needles--as well as sweeping the screened porch and arranging its furniture.

By the time we left, the place was ready for human habitation. I was planning to move in with the girls for part of this week... until I saw a long-range weather forecast. Looks rather rainy, not good for being outdoors, so now I'm unsure.

While we were there, the marine patrol passed by. I suppose they were checking to see that we were behaving ourselves!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Eve Surprise

Our assumption that this extremely late Easter weekend would ensure atypically balmy spring weather for the holiday has turned out to be erroneous. We woke to snowfall this morning, which continued till afternoon when it was replaced by light drizzle.

The flowers I planted yesterday--columbines, primroses, anemonies, etc.--are buried under a blanket of white. The blooming daffodils, hyacinths, and crocrus are bravely defying the wintry scene.

The girls were amazed that the Chap had to shovel snow from the deck.

As I type this, he's laying and kindling a fire in the downstairs sitting room.

Tomorrow after church we will open up the cottage for the season. Because the weather is supposed to be considerably warmer and drier.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


The temperatures have done more plunging than soaring lately. Even so, the snow cover is gone here at the Lodge. (People in the North Country may not be done with frozen precipatation! Strong and hardy folk, they are--because they have to be to survive!)

Daffodils and crocus and violas are blooming all round the place, so at least my gardens look like spring even if the air seldom feels like it.

The photo above features the anemones, columbines, and primroses I cut from potted-up plants purchased yesterday. I'll be planting them in the ground sometime this week, along with a flowering almond shrub and a rhododendron. The next batch of bare-root roses--Louise Odier, a Bourbon and Camieux, a gallica, have not yet arrived. The other day I planted York & Lancaster (damask), Souvenir de Malmaison (Bourbon), and Tuscany (gallica).

I returned from my retreat Saturday night. On Palm Sunday the Bishop visited our church, to pray over (bless) the palms and preach and preside at the Eucharist and party with us. All the p's!

Luckily I had a quiet Monday to recover from all that activity and receive contractors giving an estimate on home improvements, followed by a busy Tuesday in Concord, then Manchester, then Concord, and another quiet--but very productive--today at the Lodge.

Because we love gardenias, I bought one for our Easter plant. I'll try to keep it going. My good fortune with "tropical" florist plants has previously failed me with gardenias, but I've got more skilled at indoor horticulture since the last one died on me! My mother's garden has an enormous gardenia bush--there used to be two of them. It's the Chap's favourite flower, which is why my wedding bouquet was entirely gardenias!

The scent from the single open bloom spreads all over the Lodge. Heavenly!

For me this Holy Week is a combination of solitude and socialising, labour and leisure. All the best to those whose faith traditions observe rituals this week.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ice Out & Ice Not Quite Out

The ice went out on our little lake sometime on Wednesday. Now the migrating waterfowl can land on our open water, although I haven't spotted any yet. We've got only a little snow cover left at the edge of the woods and in a shady spot in front of the Lodge, but it's receding very quickly these days.

I took a little road trip today, an overnight jaunt. It took me to the Big Lake. At the bottom tip of our bay the ice is completely out, and well into the middle portion. Beyond that is some remaining ice cover. Then it thins out a lot.

This is what I found when I stopped at the cottage and went down to our dock--our section of the Bay is very nearly ice-free!

Some waterfowl were sitting atop the very thin--rapidly thinning--self of ice. The trio on the left appear to be loons!

The cottage atop the hill.

In the next town I stopped for a cup of coffee. A pair of elderly gentleman were seated at one table near the door, chatting. As I was standing at the counter waiting for my dose of caffeine, I heard one of them say, "That young lady there in the flowered skirt, she'd probably enjoy a tune." (I was indeed wearing a flowery skirt, I was younger than they, besides being the only other customer in the joint.)

One of them whipped out a harmonica and played "When You're Smiling, the Whole World Smiles With You." I stood there grinning. On my way out I thanked him for the concert. He held up his arm, then strapped on a velcro brace. He explained he'd recently had surgery, part of his hip bone was used to rebuild the bone in his left arm.

He grinned up at me. "My doctor says I'm healing perfectly. I'm doing physical therapy, and it's going so well that this morning I was able to play my violin."

"I play the mandolin," I volunteered.

He nodded. "G--D--A--E."

"That's right. Tuned exactly like a fiddle, only eight strings instead of four."

"My mother played the mandolin," the other man told me. "I play the ukele."

I stood there for several minutes, talking music. I learned that there's a local crowd that does music sessions in the next town over, on Tuesday nights. They invited me to come along. Maybe, on some summer night, once I'm back in residence on the Big Lake, I will.

I hopped in my Author-mobile and proceeded to my destination, the undisclosed location where I'll spend a total of 24 hours with a group of about 34 people. Some I know well, some I hardly know, and some I've never met in my life.

This is the view from the balcony outside my room.

The last time I gazed upon those mountains, about two months ago, they were entirely covered with snow and it felt like winter would never end. Having such a fine vista doesn't entirely compensate for a night away from the Chap and the dogs, but it's not bad!

Monday, April 11, 2011

More Grandeur

Nothing about my daily existence inspires me to blog....Now that our temperatures are well into the 60's I'm spending at least 4 hours a day in the gardens. (Headed back in a short while.) In the main front garden the crocuses are in bloom. My late daffodils are going to bloom soon--in advance of my early daffodils. I've already transplanted a rose bush, divided and re-planted shasta daisies, catmint, false sunflower, monarda (bee balm) and lambs' ears. I have 5 bare root roses on their way to me--2 Bourbon roses, 2 gallicas, and 1 damask. Yesterday I planted 2 sorts of daylilies and 2 sorts of Siberian iris and some violas, plenty of purples and blues to contrast with the 3 dozen mostly pink and mauve roses in the main bed. I also applied some top-dressing fertiliser to several of the older roses.

Today I'm going to start tidying and prepping one of the back gardens and maybe do some heavy pruning of rugosas along the dogs' fence. (The garden that most needs work, below the big deck, still has a bit of snow cover.)

None of these areas is quite interesting enough for photos yet, so I shall return to the Washington, DC mansion where we stayed last month.

Our upstairs bedroom suite is located on this corridor. In fact, The open door beside the giant blue vase opens onto our foyer.

On a lower floor is the magnificent tapestry hall.

From the tapestry hall you enter the dining room. The last time I dined here was at an anniversary luncheon. I sat in this general area, beneath the chandelier.

One of the parlours.

Also from the tapestry hall is access to the balcony of the ballroom.

The ballroom from below. It's much livelier and more colourful during an actual ball!

On one side the ballroom doors open onto the Winter Garden. We used to have our breakfast here.

The wall murals feature a summer view of the Boston-area gardens created by the owners/builders of the mansion.

This is Anna, their parrot. She appears in several family portraits and was a beloved member of the household.

Today the Chap will contact the contractor about the refurbishment of our guest bath. On Saturday we picked out the granite-topped vanity and taps and the floor tile. Now we need to arrange the work. I'm looking forward to this project...it will result in a vast improvement, but not grandeur. The decor appropriate to a Connecticut Ave. mansion in DC wouldn't work well in a New England country house!

Friday, April 01, 2011

My $100 Car Wash

No, that's not an April Fool's Day joke.

Yesterday didn't exactly turn out as expected. It started out properly, with a drive to a church in a village west of Concord for a conference call. After a couple of hours, I hopped in my car and headed for Concord to photograph the big Anti-Budget Bill rally at the State House. All along the way, the Author-mobile was making a strange noise, which increased in volume if I accelerated to 40 or above. By some miracle I'd decided not to take the Interstate, because I wanted to avoid the closed streets and traffic glitches around the capitol. That turned out to be a good decision, because the speed limit on the back road was no more than 40--which is all I could comfortably do.

I knew the Chap was attending a Senate hearing. So I headed for the Diocesan office and parked there--not realising that it was reserved parking for clergy attending the rally. But there was nowhere else for me to go. I left phone messages on all the Chap's phones and emailed him. When his hearing ended he came over to the office and we figured out that I should phone Mercedes dealer (which I'd done) and Roadside Assistance for towing to Manchester. We further decided that I should accompany the Author-mobile because the dealership said they'd give me a loaner. The Chap headed for his office, and I waited for the flatbed--reading Reps Hall Tweets on the budget debate and from the rally only a block and a half away from where I sat.

The truck arrived about the time the scheduled speakers at the rally had finished.

I learned that cars will make way for a big flatbed truck, even in the middle of a massive traffic jam. Nonetheless, it took quite some time to work our way through the jam of cars and pedestrians to the highway.

Here are some the photos I managed to shoot--from the cab of the big truck.

An amazing number of citizens made a huge effort to participate in the rally, presenting themselves as living, still-breathing representatives of those will suffer the draconian changes.

Why so many wheelchairs? The budget makes severe (and in the view of many, morally unjustifiable) cuts to the social services for the disabled, the impoverished, the mentally ill, and so many other segments of our population who simply have nowhere else to turn. Also, it eliminates the Council on the Arts (which receives very little funding at all) and the Consumer Protection Bureau, de-funds Public Television, and virtually abolishes union rights, and heaven only knows what else. The Governor denounced it, and hopes to work with the Senate to restore as many of the cuts as possible. Fingers crossed wiser, more pragmatic heads will prevail. Because the inevitable downshifting of costs to the local taxpayers means nobody will gain by the House's deplorable actions.

Back to my adventure. The truck driver was nice, he delivered me and my auto to the dealership service department without incident. They were able to deal with my vehicle pretty quickly. I had my laptop, so settled down in the luxe customer lounge to keep up with tweets and live bloggers. (The unofficial part of the rally--and the budget debate--was ongoing.)

The best mechanic hooked up my car to his diagnostic computers, and eventually it received a completely clean bill of health. No problems. I paid my $100 and considered it worthwhile because I not only had peace of mind, I also had a brilliantly clean vehicle. As usual, they gave it a good wash. Probably because they were afraid to touch it in it's natural filthy state, this being mud season and all.)

Thus my $100 car wash.

I was home in good time to watch television coverage of the State House events. There were between 5000 and 6000 at the rally, according to city officials.

Twenty-four hours ago, this is the amount of snow we had on the big deck.

Today, it looks like this.

That's no April Fool's joke either. We're having an honest-to-goodness spring Nor'easter today. I cancelled brunch with a Seacoast friend and stayed inside watching snow fall. In April!

An active weekend will make up for being Lodge-bound today.