"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

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We had a pleasant couple of days at the lake cottage, enjoying the brilliant sunsets. And the passing boat...

...and time on the dock with the girls

My homeward journey yesterday lasted 51 minutes. It's not quite 10 minutes more driving time than from the Lodge to the cottage.

Arrangements in some areas of the new house are coming together.

The kitchen, for instance. Very pleased with the granite worktops and the new cabinet colours.

The parlour/dining room is in a finished state, except for curtaining the windows.

The high tent ceiling in the big bedroom is perfect for the fourposter.

The guest quarters are suitably prepared for company. A few remaining items are being installed in various places this week--the electrician comes soon to add new light fixtures and other upgrades.

The latest heat wave subsided, and as usual was immediately followed by drenching rain and threats of flash flooding. We've got used to this pattern. And the English weather has been much the same as ours. I'm sure it will moderate by the time we return.

I look forward to having my bookcases. The mountain of books in my library/office will have to be thoroughly sorted, the categories are all jumbled up. Writing--and royal infant updates--are good distractions from the chaos!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Settling In

I picked the bouquet featured above from my new gardens. The stargazer lilies and blue spiky hostas grew here before I came, but I added the rose bushes. We're having another heat major wave--I believe it's our third since we moved here! I didn't want my flowers to wilt, so I cut some blossoms and brought them inside to enjoy.
The painter has finished. The carpenter is working on my bookshelves, which will be installed in a couple of weeks. Many boxes have been emptied--in fact, we Freecycled about 20 of the best ones and the large wardrobe boxes, and had a lot of takers. We attended one "Welcome to the Neighbourhood" party last week, and there's a rumour of another one to come. A friend who lives not too far away in this city stopped by today with a beautiful Phalaenopsis orchid (something I've always wanted) and a lovely card.
We had days and days of rain, but it didn't impair my enjoyment of the new rose and perennial gardens. Below is my beloved striped gallica Rosa mundi. Turns out I've got two of them, because the damask York and Lancaster I ordered just bloomed today and it's another Rosa mundi. This has happened to me before. I do  understand the confusion--Y&L is partly white and half pink, RM is pink and white stripes--but the Latin names are quite different. I wish the suppliers could get it right! Meanwhile, I've got Y&L back at the Lodge...perhaps I should simply dig it up and transfer it here. That way I'd be sure to have the one I want!
And here's beautiful Eglantyne by David Austin Roses.
And the Huntington Rose, also by David Austin.
The girls are becoming more accustomed to life in the neighbourhood. They still aren't too keen on the passing joggers, bikers, walkers, and many, many dogs. Ruth had a chance to say "hello" up close and personal with the dear young black lab from the house behind us. And I think she'll enjoy the even younger Golden Doodle across the street. But Jewel doesn't want anything to do with any other dog except Ruth.
Over the past couple of days I've been hanging art on the walls, and fitting out the guest quarters.
And I've been bird watching, too! Hummingbirds, chickadees, and nuthatches are the most prevalent. But yesterday I spotted 3 titmice, my first downy woodpecker, and best of all, the parent cardinals and their two offspring. Here's the papa cardinal feeding the young and showing them the best fast food in town--my bird feeders!
My kitchen--the heart of the home, as they say--is a joy. But in weather this uncomfortable I'm not really in the mood to cook much. Popsicles are my usual lunch, and we've had some quick-&-easy suppers. Time to organise another one...and find out what Jewel is barking at!

Saturday, July 06, 2013


Greetings from the lake cottage, where we have--at long last--settled in for some much needed rest and relaxation. And amazing summer sunsets like the one last evening:

Ruth opened our swimming season, on a blistering day of 90-something degrees. The lake was 78 F, quite warm for so early in July.

Eleven days ago, within hours of my return from the novelists' conference, we moved from the Lodge. It was hot, humid, sticky, and uncomfortable when 3 movers and 2 trucks arrived at 9.30 a.m.. Conditions worsened as the day proceeded, and late in the evening when our possessions arrived at the new abode, there was a rainstorm to further test our patience and fortitude. By about 11.30 p.m. (!!!) all was off-loaded and truck vanished into the night. Because our box springs couldn't make it up the curving stairways, we slept on the mattress on the floor for the first few nights.

Once the girls arrived, they seemed to like their new environment.

On a trip back to the Lodge to collect odds and ends that didn't make it onto the removal vans, I cut roses to decorate and scent the new house.

The early days of our residence in the new house required dodging flooring and fitted carpet installers, our wonderful painter, plumbers, granite worktop installers. For various reasons there were delays in the work projects, so nothing was actually finished by the time we moved in except the hard surface floors, and the painting of our master suite. Now everyone is finished except the painter, who was very gracious when Jewel (of course!) stepped into a tray of white ceiling paint for an upstairs bathroom. It took a while to wipe her paws clean--and the hardwood floor in the corridor where she stepped. But now we have only this print, on a carpet scrap, as a souvenir:

We have been warmly welcomed by new neighbours and their dogs. The Chap loves his 2.5 minutes commute to the office. Our .21 acres are attractively landscaped with perennials and overall more easily maintained than the Lodge's 21 acres. My feeders have attracted--so far--hummingbirds, a pair of cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees, a sparrow. And ravenous chipmunks!

We stayed at home through the July 4th holiday, then came to the lake cottage for the duration of the latest heat wave (following an entire month of rain during June!) The move has added perhaps 10 minutes to our drive to the Big Lake, not at all bad. After so much upheaval and disruption, we're thankful to spend some time at our under-used waterside retreat, and intend to return more often now that life has settled down. We currently own 3 (!!!) houses, but not for long, as the Lodge is under contract with a closing scheduled for the end of this month.

I'm mindful of the fact that twenty years ago tomorrow I saw the Lodge for the very first time--the owner's red-white-and-blue bunting was still hanging from the windows that day. I knew as soon as I walked inside that I needed to live their. I returned to this cottage--where we were holidaying--and told the Chap, "I've just seen our future home!" Within a day or so I took him back to see it, and he liked it just as much as I did. We returned to Colorado wondering how on earth we could buy a house that a) wasn't even on the market yet when b) we were still living in the Rocky Mountain West.

It took us 8 months to make our dream of country living come true. And now, after 19 happy years in our own private forest beside our dear little lake, an entirely new dream is our new reality. It all feels so right. Whenever I visit the Lodge, divested of our furnishings, books, dogs, plants, I expect to respond with sadness. But no, I'm simply thankful for the joy of living there, and I hope the next occupants will enjoy the dear place just as much as we did!

Here on the bay, my wild pet fish Walter has moved on to the deeper part of the lake,his eggs hatched and the fry are swimming around our dock. Time passes, changes come, many things endure.