This week I was too busy to write but not too busy for pre-thanksgiving fun and food-gathering. A beautiful drive, lunch at Montebello with friends now settled in Connecticut, apple harvest, new turkey recipe with lots left over, a rip-roaring concert and a picture of our grandson at his first homecoming dance made the week memorable. Sneak reading and consultation with an old classmate on his new novel pacified author urges on the side.
1. & 2. Chateau Montebello is a luxury resort on land granted by 17th-century French kings to early settlers of La Nouvelle France, now Quebec province. The hexagonal log structure, built in 1930 out of red cedar from British Columbia, sits on 65,000 acres of forested wildlife sanctuary and 70 lakes on the shore of the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Montreal. It was the perfect place for my husband Tom and me to meet Danny Delmar (a high-tech consultant) and his wife Chris (a lawyer and clergywoman) for a buffet lunch. We caught up on family stories of living in Montreal and skiing at Jay Peak in the fifties and sixties. We discussed the upcoming Canadian and American elections, the trans Pacific trade pact and the school shootings in Oregon. We wondered if anyone thinks about repealing or re-amendeding the second amendment. The right to gun possession is not part of the original Constitution and all other rights in it are not unrestrained, so why should the right to own guns be?
This is a good place to talk politics. In 1801, the land was sold to the family of Joseph Papineau who built a turreted stone mansion, now a summer museum. His son, Louis-Joseph Papineau, (1786 – 1871) led the reformist Patriote movement before the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837–1838.The wealthy, ultra-conservative Catholic clergy wanted the feudalistic, agrarian society to continue. They discouraged economic and political liberalization and thwarted the ambitions of the rising French-Canadian middle-class which spearheaded demands for reform. Papineau had picked up republican ideas from the United States and demanded a boycott of trade with Great Britain. His actions were forerunners of a united Canada with responsible government, later achieved by the British North America Act.
3. Our tree of Haralson winter apples has a crop estimated at 3,000. Most are perfectly round, tart, sweet, crisp, juicy and delicious — just the way apples should be. They will be at their very best when the first frost bites. For weeks, we’ve been raking, filling baskets, packing boxes and giving them away. Do come by and pick your own if you are in the area. We’re very thankful we’ll be able to have an apple a day to keep the doctor away all winter.
4. Our 16-year-old grandson Robert in Pittsburgh dressed up in a navy blue suit with a light blue shirt and shimmering matching tie for his first high school homecoming dance and his dad sent us a picture. We talked via Skype with other close family members too. A family dinner for seven in Aylmer of turkey casserole, made with layers of gravy, freshly roasted turkey breast, stuffing, mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes sprinkled with cheese, was delicious. We celebrated early because we will be away on Thanksgiving Weekend. The recipe produced enough leftovers for two more dinners and a lunch for Tom and me, plus another dinner for two stored in the freezer.
5. Three professional musicians (a baritone, a violinist and a pianist) came back home from performing separately abroad and put on a concert for fun and fundraising at the church nearest to us. The program consisted of twenty selections of romantic, folk and pastoral music but the vibrations of an operatic aria in Italian were strong enough to make the coffee slop out of the cups at Tim Horton’s across the street. With no idea what to expect, pieces I hadn’t heard since I was young, such as Country Gardens, Foggy Foggy Dew, Climb Ev’ry Mountain and Edelweiss, possessed me. It was thrilling to be so close to the artists and instruments. You could see their joy as they hammed things up in order to entertain us. Hilarious trios of Old Mother Hubbard and Humpty Dumpty sung in Handel’s style wound up the event. If Norman Brown, Christian Vachon and Frederic Lacroix return next year for another concert, and you are in the area, I’ll let you know so you don’t miss them.
6. I finished reading Fanny Hill (at 82 I’m old enough to read what the Internet describes as ‘Age of Enlightenment Smut’) as research for a book. Surprisingly, author John Clelland actually ends with a moral lesson and I guess that’s why it’s called a classic. At first I could not understand his archaic writing, but it’s the epitome of brevity and having read it will help me write better.
7. A college friend of mine from sixty-two years back, Arn Bailey, had asked me to give him a critique on his book manuscript. When he said he would send me his manuscript, I envisioned receiving a big envelope plastered with stamps. Instead, he just slipped a small jump drive into a letter-size envelope. Isn’t technology amazing? I read it at night and got back to him on Wednesday. We’re going to co-operate with each other on ideas for finding a publisher. He gave me the link to the Literary Press Group of Canada, which publishes a list. He found my suggestions helpful (I told him he has written a Hamlet of a book) and I think you will all enjoy reading it one of these days.
Putting writing obsessions aside works wonders for inspiration and efficiency — and there’s no better way to try it than a Fall combo of family, nature, travel, music, good meals, discussions, friends and fun.
Happy Reading and Writing from CozyBookBasics!