New Year’s Eve!

Thursday, December 31, 2009
Full Moon
BLUE MOON
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Snowing!!!
New Year’s Eve

Holy crap, another year, another decade gone. Well, I’m ready for the next one. Oh, and by the way, I don’t have time for the world to end in 2012. I have too much to do, and the Apocalypse will have to make an appointment with me like everyone else! It’s really not going to work out until like 2075 or something, so just chill Horsemen, chill. 😉

I would not want to be in Times Square for anything – can you imagine, no toilets? And they don’t let you out once you’re in? Ick. When I had the apartment a block away and could see the ball drop from my window, it was really cool, but as the years progressed, I couldn’t even give a party, much less get home after my show because the whole Square is in lock-down. I’d have to go OUT — which I hated — until 1 AM. I’m so glad I don’t have to do that any more.

It’s snowing like crasy — looks like someone dumped a truck of powdered sugar all over everything. Lovely, especially since I don’t have to go out in it!

Dashed out early to the grocery store, came back, cooked like a mad woman all morning (hush, I can hear the comments all the way over here), packed things up, and delivered where they needed to be delivered, packed in the fridge what’s needed for today and tomorrow, did the errands for my mom, picked up the rest of the ritual stuff, and was home by about 3 PM. Poured a glass of wine and just could NOT face going in to the kitchen to even heat anything up for dinner. I’d had a huge lunch — because I needed the space in the fridge!

I’ve posted my year-end wrap up on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site. Not happy with my progress, but I feel I learned a lot, and if I apply it moving forward, it will have been worth it.

Forgot to mention I watched the Louisa May Alcott documentary/recreation on PBS the other night. Since Louisa is one of my heroines, and one of the reasons I’m a writer, I had to sit down and watch it. I enjoyed most of it, loved Elizabeth Marvel in it, but felt bad because it was obvious they were on a small budget, and those paper animation thingys just didn’t work for me. I feel bad about not loving the whole thing; after all, I know what it’s like to work on a shoestring production budget.

I ran into one of my best friend at, of all places, the gas station, on my way home from errands. Too funny! We both wanted to top off the tanks to start the new decade with full tanks.

My plans today are to stay home and read and write and do exactly as I please. Ritual tonight (blue moon/full moon, after all). Everything’s ready for that, food just has to be popped into the oven. We’ll toast in the New Year with some champagne, and I have to force down some herring before midnight (not fond of herring, but it’s a family tradition for good luck). Lots of yoga, too. I want it to be a peaceful crossing into the new decade!

If you haven’t downloaded “Just Jump in and Fly”, you only have a few more days. It won’t be available after January 6. If you didn’t get to read “First Feet” last year, it’s still available — a Jain Lazarus Adventure influenced by the first footing custom. It’s below the excerpt from OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, so scroll down a bit. Enjoy!

Have a happy and safe New Year!

Devon

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and COLD!

I’ve got this lovely white rag doll angel that I keep wrapped up all year round in acid-free paper to keep her clean and safe. I put her out for the holidays, and Elsa and Violet INSIST on sleeping on top of her.

Sigh.

I polished the Apocalypse story and sent it off, so, fingers crossed. I think I hit the right balance of fun/creepy/fractured fairy tale at which I aimed. I worked on the other story, due tomorrow. We’ll see what happens with that. I completed the assignment for Confidential Job #1, but lost internet access, so I had to send it from the home office this morning.

I’ve got a piece up on Kemmyrk about the Blue Moon, which is tomorrow night, if you’re interested.

Ideas come in batches, and I’ve been scrambling to scribble down the batch that burst through my brain the past few days. When I’ll actually get to write them completely, who knows, but at least I’m capturing the essence. Change of place is always good to get the creative juices going again.

Must dash — I have to pick up a few things at the various stores for tomorrow and New Year’s Day — both for the food and for the rituals (full/blue moon tomorrow night and the traditional New Year’s Day dawn ritual). I’ve also got to run a few errands for my mom.

Then, it’s back to the page and the other story.

Later!

Devon

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 8:41 am  Comments (4)  
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and bitterly cold

Okay, I’m officially tired. The Holiday Season officially caught up with me and kicked my ass. Hell, the whole damned decade caught up with me and kicked my ass.

For some reason, I have internet access this morning, so I’m posting from the site.

The cats were pretty angry when I got home yesterday to feed them. I dashed home to bring a bunch of stuff home yesterday and today, and will return from the job late tonight.

I was only home for two hours (can you say “even more pissed felines” when I left?) I’m having trouble finding the champagne I need for New Year’s. I need half splits, and can’t find the kind I like.

I worked on the GDR wrap-up for the year, which will post on New Year’s Eve. I’m pretty hard on myself, and blunt about where I failed — which is, basically, everywhere except that I managed to earn a living by my pen all year. But the “how” frustrates me. I thought I was getting all this great work done, and . . .I didn’t. And it’s my own damned fault, most of it due to time mismanagement. Really, I thought I did better than the GDRs reflect. I THOUGHT I was being very productive. Wrong! “Treading water” is just about it. And that’s just not good enough.

Hopefully, I can take what I learned and apply it moving forward. The GDRs for the New Year will post on January 1. January’s To-Do list will post on January 2. The next newsletter SHOULD (famous last words) go out on Twelfth Night. At least I found the cause for the past weeks of restlessness and frustration. Now, let’s hope I can come up with a cure.

I finished the Apocalypse story, and I hope to send it off today. I want to rework the ending a bit — it doesn’t quite have enough punch — but the rest of it, I really love. I kept the original premise, threw out what I’d written, and wrote nearly 5K of new material — ever so much better.

I’ve been having the oddest, most bizarre dreams. Since what you dream during the Twelve Days of Christmas is supposed to come true — let’s say that if I see any of this manifesting, I’m heading the other way!

Lots of work to do, must hop to it!

Devon

Published in: on December 29, 2009 at 9:35 am  Comments (4)  
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Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

So, did you miss me? 😉 I’ve been busy, working on a site job. The internet access is down there, so I couldn’t get back online until I dashed home this morning to feed the cats.

Honestly, i never even turned on the computer on Saturday or Sunday, and (please don’t be offended), didn’t miss it.

Christmas Day was a lot of fun — stockings and lots of food. Pannettone and scrambled eggs for breakfast. I roasted a turkey, made stuffing, we had cranberry sauce (I think it’s illegal for someone born in New England not to — besides, I LOVE cranberry almost-anything), green beans with hollandaise sauce, and mashed potatoes.

We were too stuffed from dinner to have dessert right away, so we put away the leftovers, I cooked the bones and made three large tubs of turkey soup (I’ll add in the noodles as I use each batch), and it was about 8 PM before we are the Buche de Noel. It was really good, although it’s completely different from any other I’ve had before. I’m used to chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. The cake was something really unusual — not your typical yellow cake, but in that family, darker, spicier, with the chocolate ganache. Really outstanding.

I was out of the house early, with a car stuffed to bursting. I dropped my mom off at her gig, headed on out to mine, got slightly unpacked, put on some make-up, and headed back to pick her up. We drove down Greenwich Ave. and were fortunate enough to find a parking spot not too far from the restaurant, where we met our friends (who’d come in from Pennsylvania) for lunch at Meli-Melo, which is a creperie. The food was fabulous, the service is great, and it’s a wonderful place.

It was great to see our friends and catch up. They’re doing well, and we’re all ready for the new decade.

Drove my mom back to where she’s staying, I went back to where I was staying. I got some work done, and even managed to sneak in a nap in the afternoon. No idea what I did in the evening — I think I watched a lot of mindless television that was so mindless I can’t even remember it.

Sunday morning, I slept in, did yoga and the usual routine, got some work done on-site, headed out. I went to Home Depot, which didn’t have what I wanted, and Michael’s, which didn’t have most of what I came for, but, fortunately, I can re-think creations on my feet, and I got other stuff, which I think will work just as well or better. Picked up a few things at the grocery store, and headed back to site.

I worked on the Winter Wreath in the afternoon, which will replace the pine-and-fruit spray currently hanging on the door. I’ll finish it this afternoon. I didn’t have all the materials I needed for the other craft project, which was a little frustrating, but oh well.

I should have worked on the assignment for Confidential Job #1. Instead, I’m reading Christopher Fowler’s WHITE CORRIDOR, which is different and enjoyable.

Cooked a lot: my parsnip-carrot dish and my leek-potato dish, and made a vegetable chili based on a SILVER PALATE recipe that’s outstanding.

Did research for the steampunk novella.

Overslept this morning, so I’m late heading back out to feed the cats. I’ll do some things at home for a couple of hours (like post this) and then head back to site.

I’ve got two ideas for literary fiction novels rolling around in my head, very different from what I’m known to write, but both explore questions of “what if?” that interest me. Both will be rather uncomfortable, both to write and to read, but I want to do them anyway. What’s the good if there’s no challenge involved? One needs to be outlined in advance, because every thing hinges on everything else fitting perfectly. However, that one doesn’t want to let me in on all its secrets yet. The other one — I’ve got the major scenes already in my head, and it’s a case of figuring out how to get from point to point.

I hope you’re enjoying “Just Jump in and Fly.” It’s available here until January 6. What was interesting is that elements of both the Apocalypse story AND the other anthology story on which I’ve been working wove themselves into this one.

Gotta go — there are hungry cats waiting for me.

Don’t forget — New Year’s Eve is a Blue Moon, and I’ve also designated it as a “Wishing Moon.” I’ll post information on Wishing Moons on Kemmyrk in the next day or two.

Devon

Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday, December 25,2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Rainy and cold
Christmas Day

The weather’s lousy here today, and supposed to get worse. I’m glad I don’t have to go anywhere, although I have to leave for the site job tomorrow fairly early. Which means, of course, that today I have to pack. I have three different BIG projects that have to go with me, so that means three different BIG bags and/or crates. And the food. And the yoga paraphernalia. And i have a VW Rabbit! 😉 Hauling all that up and down three flights of stairs will NOT be fun, but, as I finish projects, I hope to bring stuff back over the course of the week when I return to feed the cats.

Violet is fascinated with the Advent table, as you can see. Of course, she decided to redesign in — paw on the small plate where an ornament used to be.

Sigh.


Iris if fascinated by the tree.

Yesterday was a good, though fairly quiet day. I got the free holiday story download up, “Just Jump in and Fly”. It’s only available until the 6th of January, so hop over to the Ava Dunne page to read an excerpt and then download it before then, if you want to read it.

I dashed out just before noon to pick up more dishes for the leftovers. The store was packed, the parking lot was packed, everyone looked unhappy and almost in tears or in tears, so I felt bad for them and wished everyone I could a happy holiday.

Heard from some old friends, which was great. Got the most wonderful card from my best friend from college and his wife — they sound good, and we truly will get together in the New Year to catch up. Dropped off the cookie platter to the ex-friend who never called back, but finally called back with a lame excuse a week later — and then seemed disappointed when I refused to get into an argument about it. Sorry you have holiday-related issues; I am not going to aid you in repeating destructive patterns, nor am I your therapist. I’m just trying to have a joyful holiday. If you choose not to, that is YOUR choice, and I choose not to participate in a joy-less holiday. I dashed over to make the drop-off; I was in the middle of food preparation and couldn’t hang out.


Speaking off food, marinating the pork roast for 30 hours worked well. It was tender and succulent and perfect. I better write down the marinade recipe before I forget it — I sort of made it up on the spot.

I gathered together the different recipes I used for this holiday season so I can put together the notes and then put them together in a holiday binder, instead of just the regular binder. I got the idea from a story I’ve been working on called “Christmas Cancellation Project” (which may wind up being next year’s download), where the protag’s godkids want to make the Christmas cookies from her infamous “The Binder.”


Tried a new-to-me recipe for potatoes au gratin — it was pretty good, but I think next time, I’ll put in less milk and keep the cream amount the same. Red cabbage and green peas rounded out the menu, with plum pudding and brandy sauce for dessert.

We had to rest up after putting away the leftovers and doing the dishes. And then it was time for presents. We always open the gifts on the Eve and have the stockings on the Morning. Elsa usually loves opening presents, so I woke her up and brought her into the room. She stalked back to her nap. Iris and Violet had a ball playing with the wrapping and the ribbons and all the rest. Elsa woke up once we were done and wanted to know when we were going to open the presents!

This morning we had the stockings (cats get a stocking, too, and get to unpack it). Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs and panettone. I made the stuffing for the turkey, and it’s in the oven. I’m going to pack now, and sort out the projects that need to go with me, and then enjoy a nice dinner and a calm, family-oriented evening. I’ve adjusted the aromatherapy blend — more pine and clove, less citrus. Now it’s exactly what I want.

Heads up! Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow. Which means travel and computers will go kerplooey, and people will look at you when you talk like you’re speaking an unknown language. But the end-of-year sales will rock!

I wish you all the Merriest of Christmases, and lots of love and good cheer.

Devon

Published in: on December 25, 2009 at 10:33 am  Comments (12)  
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Christmas Eve
Sunny and cold

For the curious, yes, I can celebrate both the Solstice and Christmas if I want, and it doesn’t mean I’m being hypocritical to either. The former is my chosen path in my adult life. The latter is a nod towards happy family traditions and memories, since I am one of those freakish individuals who experienced a decent amount of happiness while growing up. And I will celebrate as many traditions as I wish! So there! 😉

There’s a giftie waiting for you under the virtual tree, but you’ll have to wait until the end of the post to retrieve it.

Wow! Natalie Bahm gave me a Kreativ Blogger Award. I am so honored! Thank you so much! Part of this honor is to thank her, and I do.

Part of this honor is to pay it forward to 7 other bloggers and to write post 7 things others might not know about me.

Okay, choosing only 7 is hard, I read more than that on any given day, but here’s an attempt:

Lori Widmer — Words on the Page — she’s an amazing writer and human being, a dear friend, and one of the most spiritually aware and emotionally grounded people I know. She gives back constantly.

Diane Parkin — another amazing writer and good friend. She gets more done in an hour than I can get done in a week.

Michelle MilesYe Olde Inkwell — terrific balance of blogging between writing and life.

Lara Stauffer Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom. A daily must-read from a good friend whose life is very different from my own!

Colin GalbraithFreedom From the Mundane — another good friend and fellow writer, whose blog is a daily must-read.

Brandy Book Mom — because she loves books and cats.

Margaret FinneganFinnegan Begin Again. I just found this blog the other day, and it is amazing.

Okay, now for 7 things:

1. I developed a deadly allergy to shrimp. I used to love shrimp and now I’m horribly, horribly allergic. As in vomiting-for-18-hours-straight-and-going-to-the-hospital allergic.

2. I don’t trust people who don’t like animals, and I trust them even less if the animals don’t like them back. In my experience, the animals are usually right! 😉

3. Three things on my Must-Learn Someday List are: Learning to play the piano; taking a pottery class; learning to paint.

4. Even though I spent over 20 years in theatre, the period where I wanted to be an actor was very short-lived. I don’t like that much attention focused on me. Although many actors look at playing characters as getting to be someone totally different, for me it was always about bringing forward different aspects of my personality, and I like to choose for whom I do that.

5. I loathe tabloids and gossip magazines. Having worked with lots of actors over the years and feeling protective of the ones I like and admire, I am enraged to see such lies printed — and 90% of what goes in those rag sheets are lies. They are lies that hurt people, and for the general public to think it’s “fun” to feed into those lies by purchasing the magazines, reading, and even believing the crap makes me sick. Not only that, they are poorly written. If house guests leave one of the mags behind, I literally remove it from the premises with tongs and scrub the place down.

6. I get twitchy if I walk into someone’s house and there aren’t any books around. I try to get out of there as quickly as possible.

7. I am better at crochet than I am at knitting. I’d love to be a better knitter, but I’m awkward and clumsy at it. For some reason, I find crochet easier and more logical.

On to other things. I realized that I don’t have enough dishes for left overs (I’m taking left overs with me to the site), so I have to dash out today and get some more.

Yesterday was fine. I wrote. All day. Over 6K. Until nearly midnight. Edited, polished, et al, this morning.

So, here’s your giftie:

JUST JUMP IN AND FLY: a holiday tale by Ava Dunne.

When two men have an accident with eight no-so-tiny reindeer on her front lawn, Susanna Wright has to balance thinking they’re delusional with keeping in the spirit of the night and getting them back on the road.

The story pulls from a mix of myths and traditions, sprinkled with a few of my own “what ifs”. Although it’s just over 10K, it’s a fast read, and, I hope, a funny one.

To read an excerpt, visit the Ava Dunne page. The download link is also on the site. It downloads as a PDF.

Enjoy!

Devon

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Elsa naps between the Christmas stocking pillow and the soft doll angel

Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I am extremely grateful that I don’t have to travel over these holidays, especially with the weather problems and the fact that airlines aren’t actually interested in providing service for customers, just taking as much money away from them as they can. At this point, most of the major airlines deserve to tank. They’ve been in business for enough years so that when they’re hit with bad weather, they should be able to reshuffle their schedules and planes in order to get people WHO PAID THEM where they’re going in a timely, safe, and pleasant manner. That includes providing food and hotel vouchers in bad weather, or setting up food and shelter areas in the terminals — not expecting people to sleep on the floor and continue to pay outrageous terminal prices to eat during the ordeal. The new legislation limiting time on the tarmac is an improvement, but not enough.

I didn’t have that many errands to do yesterday, but I forgot to to mail my letters at the post office. I walked right BY the post office, but I was so excited about the Buche de Noel I bought that I forgot!

And you gotta watch those clerks at CVS. The one up the street from me is dreadful; the ones a few miles out are fine. But everything I needed to do was in walking distance, so I went to the dreadful one. I bought what I needed, she rings it up, and tells me the total. I hand her a bill and say, “Give me a minute and I’ll get you the change,” and I start counting the change out.

She looks at the bill, sneers at me, and says, “That’s not enough.”

“I SAID I was getting the change.”

She rolls her eyes at me.

No, I did not haul off and bitch slap her, although she deserved it. I kept digging for my change, then looked at the total and said, “That’s not right. You overcharged me.”

She rolls her eyes again. I pull out the item and show her the price on the sticker, which was several dollars less than what she rang up. She rolled her eyes AGAIN. I put my hand in my pocket this time to keep from slugging her and said, “So, you see, now YOU need to give ME my change.”

She voided the price, re-entered it, handed me the change with this “uh!” noise, and I said, “Cut the attitude, chickie, this is your job.” The manager wandered by and asked if there was a problem. I said, “If you won’t hire the competent, at least hire the polite” and walked out.

We all have bad days, but when you are dealing with customers, it is your job not to take it out on them. I’ll always start with politeness, but if you push me, I WILL push back, and if you start something with me — especially when you’re wrong — you WILL be sorry.

Remember when I said I couldn’t remember if a Mars retrograde made me stand firmer or stand down? Obviously, it makes me stand firmer. In other words, do NOT get in my face for the next two months, until it goes direct again! 😉

On the flip side, the staff at the French bakery were absolutely delightful. I walked in, and it was like entering a Wonderland. Turns out all the ex-pat French, French Canadian, and Brits in the area hang out there, so I’ll probably start spending more time on site! Anyway, I get in and see that they’re offering the Buche de Noel by the slice — and they’re lovely. The woman behind the counter asked if she could help me and I asked if I could buy a whole Buche. She said, “But of course!” and proceeded the delicate task of rearranging everything in the glass cabinet so she could get at it, packing it beautifully, and making sure the box was in a convenient bag. I admitted I was buying one because I was too much of a coward to make one, and she said, “And that’s why we’re here.” Totally lovely people. If they had eclairs, I’d be there every day.

I will still frequent the Salzburg Patisserie (which is only two blocks away as opposed to five), because it is wonderful, I’ve gone there for years, and I love their quality. But I will ALSO go to this French bakery.

And yes, I’ve scoped out bakeries in the areas in which I plan to relocate! A good bakery in the area is as vital to me as a good bookstore!

I have to do an errand for my mom and then pick up the turkey for Christmas Day dinner. I marinated the pork roast this morning, so by the time I put it in the oven tomorrow, it will have marinated for 30 hours. Just perfect.

Excellent writing day yesterday. Really pleased with the progress. The piece I’m working on has hit just the right tone — it’s funny and a little scary and a little sweet. Wish that had happened, like, three weeks ago!

We received the final packages we expected, and got confirmations on all the stuff that’s shipped. One more big box will be delivered to the family in Maine on Christmas Eve. Wolferman’s has been my go-to place for food gifts this year. Their quality is terrific, prices reasonable, and they are completely reliable. Great quality and great customer service means I’ll keep coming back. And no, they didn’t give me anything to say that! 😉 Actually, I’m about to shoot an email to them thanking them for their lovely service.

Guess what? The bookstore in town that was supposed to close in January has been saved. There was such an outcry, it’s staying open. It’s tiny, it’s not very efficient, and it rarely has what I need — but it’s there, and I do use it, so I’m grateful. Christmas miracle, anyone?

Violet says that we have to have play time RIGHT NOW, so I’ll play with her for a bit before going back to the page.

Happy day, all!

Devon

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

This is the Solstice Trifle. It is sooooo good. Very rich, but very good. I made it up myself, and will write down what I did in case I ever want to recreate it. Short version: layer of lemon sponge cake soaked in port, covered with a layer of strawberry mousse (yes, made from scratch because they don’t sell it in packets anymore), covered with a layer of those chocolate/hazelnut/almond cookies that wouldn’t hold their shape and were the inspiration for the trifle, covered with a layer of dark chocolate mousse, topped with whipped cream.

In my new Trifle dish that I found by accident in Pier 1 a few weeks ago!

No hot water this morning. Again. Gee, now there’s a surprise. Guess who’ll be on the phone to the Buildings Department again when they open?

Quiet day yesterday. Writing, a few errands. Back to Michael’s — they know me. Bought some felt and got a nice, hefty coupon to use when I go back to get some other stuff I need for upcoming projects that won’t be on sale!

I’d hoped to find some of the metal candle-holder cups — I want to make a centerpiece and just need the candle cups, not an entire holder. I’d hoped Michael’s carried them, but no luck. I’ll try AI Friedman; otherwise, I’ll have to look online. It’s not for Christmas or New Year’s, it’s for Imbolc, so I have a few weeks, and can order if I need to.

Solstice Ceremony was lovely and I felt a real sense of peace and renewal afterwards.

Dinner was great — scallops with mushrooms and peas in a cream sauce over pasta, and the Trifle for dessert. And a nice, quiet evening. That’s what I need around the holidays — a few days of quiet. It feels weird not to be rushing around, but nice.

I actually set the alarm this morning for 6 AM, because I’ve been sleeping through until 7 lately. I need that hour between 6 & 7 for yoga and meditation, so I can hit the desk by 7. If I don’t hit the desk until 8, I feel time-pressured and not as focused. Of course, in the ideal world, I’d be getting up at 5 and doing TWO hours of yoga and meditation, but I’m not quite there yet! 😉

Good writing session this morning. I realized I’ll be living with Christmas/Yule stories all year, getting those I started this season prepped so they can publish by next season (and probably also the one after — I’ve got a batch).

I want today to be quiet. I have a couple of things to mail, I have a check to deposit at the bank, I want to look in the new French bakery which opened down the street and see if they have an affordable Buche de Noel (because I chickened out and didn’t try to make one). I have to start on the assignment for Confidential Job #1, and finish planning out the New Year’s menus. I’d like to get in an hour or so of rune study.

I came up with a new oil blend for the aromatherapy lamp today — pine, tangerine, and clove. It’s quite lovely. I’ve been burning a combination of fir needle, eucalyptus, and tangerine, which is also lovely, but the pine and the clove are a little heavier and make it feel more traditional Christmas-y than Solstice-y.

Every time I put the lights on the tree, Iris climbs into the chair on one side and Violet climbs into the chair on the other, and they sit there, staring at the tree. It’s hilarious.

Have a good day, all!

Devon

Published in: on December 22, 2009 at 8:37 am  Comments (11)  
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Monday, December 21, 2009


Detail of living room garland

Monday, December 21, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Yule — The Winter Solstice
Sunny and cold

I have to take a minute to rant about yet again about how much 1and1 WebHosting sucks. They forced a mail upgrade RIGHT BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS, a busy, stressful enough time as it is, with no instructions, and I can’t do anything. I had the newsletter all set to go == finally — and can’t add in any of the addresses. I am sick and tired of them taking my money and NOT GIVING ME SERVICE.

I wound up hand-entering every address for the newsletter. Of course, the site boots me off it every 3 minutes, so I couldn’t even get a decent amount of addresses in at any given time — because it won’t let me copy and paste or click and add or anything that it is supposed to do. Tech support’s instructions have nothing to do with what is actually on the screen.

I have GOT to take another iWeb design class as soon as possible to answer my last few questions, get the sites redesigned, and then get them the hell off that host. Right now, FAT COW and GREEN GEEKS are my top contenders.

It also means sorting through all the mail and pulling the files, which is a huge job( since I have to get and file approximately 500 emails per day pertaining to various projects), and something I haven’t had the time to complete, which is why it’s taken me so long to dump this awful web host.

Other than that, it was a decent day. I dug out the car — the snow was light and powdery, so it was no big deal. I took it easy, because I’m tired — a little writing, a little reading.

I must be dreaming about Christmas at night, because for the past three mornings, I woke up thinking it was Christmas Day. And, on Sunday morning, I woke up at 2 AM, absolutely convinced I forgot to put the turkey into the oven. I dashed into the kitchen with Elsa faithfully following behind me (Violet glanced up and said, “You’re kidding, right? I’m not getting up at 2 AM”). When I saw there was no turkey in the fridge to go into the oven, I realized I must have been dreaming!

I have a contract to sign and get back in the mail. The rights on the PERFECTLY PLUM anthology are expanding to include digital, so they sent me an addendum — seems perfectly fair, and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a go.

I’ve got to run to the store today to get some more heavy cream for the trifle, and a few other things, but, for the most part, I want to concentrate on getting back into the writing groove today and work on the stories due in (gulp) less than two weeks.

As I look over the projects and deadlines and ideas for 2010, I realize that, not only do I have to up my quality, I have to seriously up my quantity. That’s always a tricky tightrope — the bulk of the writers who swear they can write four articles in an hour for mill content sites (thereby selling work for $15/article, (when if they put in a few more minutes, they could sell it for 10X that much in legitimate publications AND retain reprint rights) focus on quantity. They have to — they can’t earn anything if they’re not turning out bulk content. And they’ll burn out pretty damn fast — no one can retain that kind of pace for long and keep up a high quality. In fact, of the writing I’ve read by some of the loudest defenders of the content mills — bluntly, their quality is non-existent, and there’s a reason they’re not hired by higher paying publications. I see why some of my clients have come to me begging me to clean up mess created by mill content writers. I do it, but the price is high. By “clean up”, I don’t mean revise — I mean I throw it all out, start from scratch, and create a piece of solid writing that draws in customers for my clients. The “clean up” part comes because the previous writer not only turned in poor quality, but turned it in late, which means I’m working on a truncated deadline. And there’s a price on that.

Quality is always the most important, but, in order to both achieve what I want to achieve and earn the money I need to earn to make a living at this, I have to up the ante in every possible way. I have to find a way to up the quantity, retain (and improve) the quality (because if you don’t at least strive to make every piece you do better than the last, you are doing a disservice to yourself AND the writing), and not burn out. I have to be much more focused and disciplined with my time than I’ve been the past couple of months. This year, in general, I’ve gotten way behind on a couple of things, and there is simply no excuse. Either I want it enough to do what needs to be done, or I shouldn’t be in the business. Period. We all have twenty four hours in every day. It’s how we choose to use them that defines us. Since I choose to define myself as “writer”, I damn well have to make some changes in how I structure my day.

I leave for a site job the day after Christmas Day, so I have to be packed and organized for that, too, by Christmas. AND friends are coming into town just for a few hours that day, so I’m trying to coordinate at quick visit. I’ve also got to get New Year’s sorted — New Year’s Eve will be stressful because I have to be on the road at night (hopefully I can get going early enough to avoid the bulk of the drunks), but New Year’s Day should be a pretty wonderful start to the year.

I’m ready to start a new decade. This one’s certainly been a challenge! Lots of wonderful things in it, too, but I’m ready to attack the next decade with vigor!

Back to the page.

Devon

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Adding in some real greenery

Sunday, December 20, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snow!

It didn’t even start snowing until 7 PM last night, but I’d say we received about a foot of it. It looks gorgeous, and supposedly it’s powdery, so it shouldn’t ‘be too bad to shovel out the car this afternoon. Oh, to have a garage someday!

Yesterday I worked on tidying stuff up and doing some more decorating, etc. Losing that week right after Thanksgiving due to the furniture swap really got me behind. There are islands of organization, but still far too much upheaval. The table’s finally done, and that looks lovely.

I ran out to mail some last few cards and went to CVS to pick up some pens (my pens seem to have vanished), and, of course, bought a bunch of extra cute stuff for the stockings. I love finding things for the Christmas morning stockings. It’s such fun!

Got some writing done. Confidential Job #1 sent me the next assignment, which they want by the 29th, so I have to get going on that, too. But it was a pretty quiet day. The “friend” still hasn’t called and I just can’t let it bother me too much. Clear message, that’s all I have to say. I don’t let people treat me like that. If you need to change plans, let me know. If you flake out, call as soon as you realize it and fix it. Don’t just ignore it.

I had a program on about dogs last night and Elsa got all excited. (Elsa loves dogs). She kept swatting at me, and rubbing against the screen and purring. I said, “No, Elsa, you can’t have a mastiff. When we get a house, you can have a DACHSHUND of your very own Not a MASTIFF!”

She does love dachshunds, but she really liked those mastiffs.

The eggnog cheesecake is amazing. Definitely a keeper recipe (thank you, MARTHA STEWART). I made maple-walnut muffins this morning (they also have oats and dates in them). They are awesome, too, although chopping dates at 7 AM on a Sunday morning does not rate high on my list of favorite tasks. They don’t use any sugar – the maple syrup and the heavy cream keep them sweet. That recipe is from the SILVER PALATE GOOD TIMES Cookbook, another of my favorites, and perfect for a snowy winter morning.

I’m staying in today, decorating, writing, and working on a few other things. Around 2 or so, weather-permitting, I’ll go dig out the car. It’s just started snowing again, so going out now would be a waste of time!

Have a great Sunday!

Devon

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009
Waxing Moon
About to snow like a mother!

Originally, they predicted 3-6 inches for this area. Now they’re saying 16+ inches, with blizzard conditions.

Yesterday was a mixed bag. The Buildings Dept. got the hot water back on, but who knows how long that will last? Got out the door, to the post office. Thank goodness I only had to mail letters, not buy anything — the line wrapped around the inside of the building twice and spilled into the street. Paid bills. Drove to Costco. THAT was interesting.

Costco is behind a big shopping complex one town over. It has its own parking lot that’s about the same size as the store. The traffic to get to Costco ran for about a mile up the street.

I finally get the parking lot, and I’m looking for a spot and witnessed a case of Karma being an even bigger bitch than I am: This couple, probably in their late 40s or early 50s, were pushing their cart down the aisle in the parking lot. They were right in front of my bumper. Instead of moving to the side so I could pass, they intentionally weaved back and forth in front of the car. I couldn’t back up because there were other cars behind me, and, every time I tried to maneuver around them, they jumped in front of my car, laughing their heads off. I was not amused, but, short of running them over and getting in trouble myself, there wasn’t anything I could do.

Finally, they reach their own car — and they have a flat tire!

Costco was out of my needed ink. That’s the gamble — when something’s in stock, you better buy a lot of it, because it might never be there again. So I got into the car, and, with dread, drove to the local Staples, the one that usually doesn’t have anything I need. I got the last cartridges of the ink I needed that they had in stock — and it was THIRTY FIVE DOLLARS more than at Costco. That’s a huge difference, at least to me.

I could have bought another pair of boots on clearance at DSW for that! 😉

Dashed in to the liquor store. Got another bottle of wine — don’t want to be snowed in without wine — and the tawny port in which I will soak the lemon sponge cake for the Trifle.

Overheard in the Staples parking lot: “It’s the season of peace and good will, you fucking moron!”

Even though the sky was clear, it was really cold, and I could feel the storm — my “pre-storm headache.” It’s not sinus — it’s more like a giant grabs the top of my head and squeezes. Once the storm starts, it goes away, but in the hours leading up to the storm . . .

Elsa moved the decorations on the coffee table so that she can sleep tucked against the greenery basket. Guess she likes to pretend she’s sleeping under a real tree — the artificial tree holds no interest for her. When I had real trees, the first day I had to leave it up without any decorations, because Elsa would climb it. The tree would shake and the little tortoiseshell head would pop out at the top. She was always so proud of herself for climbing the tree. And then I had to get her down.

My shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped, all is good.

The friend I’ve been trying to reach to deliver the last platter FINALLY called back and suggested we get together last night. He said he’d call to set a time — and never did. Good thing I have a strict no-waiting-by-the-phone policy. I understand that things come up, but at least have the respect to call and let me know. Maybe I should rethink whether or not this person actually fits into the “friend” category. There’s just been too much unreliability in the past few months.

Baked the lemon sponge cake for the Trifle (it’s really good — I hope I don’t snack on so much of it that there’s not much left for the Trifle) and an eggnog cheesecake. I had to use brandy extract in the cheesecake, because I couldn’t find real brandy in my cabinet — ironic, since a Mormon friend of mine just had to go out and buy real brandy because she couldn’t get her hands on any extract! I meant to bake maple-walnut-date muffins this morning for breakfast, but just couldn’t face any more baking. They’ll be good tomorrow, when we’re snowed in.

I’ve got to print some photos and send off another couple of cards — must do that immediately — it’s just started to snow. I want to stay tucked in and warm. I look forward to working on the decorating and getting some writing and reading done.

Devon

Published in: on December 19, 2009 at 9:10 am  Comments (5)  
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Do you realize that we have a Blue Moon on New Year’s Eve? The second full moon to fall within a calendar month? That’s kind of cool.

So, we’re supposed to get 6-12 inches of snow tomorrow and guess what? No hot water. Again. Guess who’s going to call the Buildings Department yet again when they open this morning?

I don’t care WHY there’s no hot water. They are legally obligated to provide hot water 24/7 and they better damn do it. it’s bad enough that they turn off the heat at 9 AM and don’t turn it on again until after 5 PM because “everybody” works from 9-5 (at least 1/3 of the tenants don’t). There’s a reason I live in the 21st century in a first world country, and a big part of that is HOT WATER. Also, I expect to get what I pay for, and hot water is one of the things covered under the lease agreement.

Yesterday, I picked up the final present for my mom. I am officially DONE with the shopping. I ordered a couple of things online for us to enjoy (it was the big free shipping day) — they weren’t have-to’s, but they were there, so . . .

And I bought I pair of Liz Claiborne grey suede half-shoe/half-boot. They’re not exactly what I was looking for in a grey boot, but they look terrific with either pants or dresses AND they are extraordinarily comfortable. Square toe (plenty of room for my long toes), block heels, very cool. On clearance.

Went grocery shopping. Shopped a lot more than I planned. But now, the only thing I have to pick up the day before Christmas is the turkey for Christmas Day. Because there is no way in hell a cracker can fit in the fridge right now, much less a turkey!

I was in one of the aisles when a little kid carrying an oversize candy cane walked up to me and said, “Hi! I”m Abe. Like Lincoln, only I’m shorter.”

That’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard in my life. I was howling with laughter. His mom thought it was pretty funny, too, when she caught up with us.

Worked on cards all afternoon. Except for a few addresses I still have to track down, they are DONE. This batch goes out, and, if I have to, I will tromp out in the snow to mail the last few cards. There are a few people where I don’t have current addresses OR emails, so I’m hoping they write me first, so I can write back!

I’m actually looking forward to the snow — provided we have hot water — because I can stay in and finish the decorations.

This morning, I’m going to the post office, I’ll pay a few bills, and then I have to dash to Costco to get ink for the big printer — I have a feeling I’m about to run out, and that’s all I need in the middle of a snow storm.

I look forward to repairing ornaments and writing this afternoon. And filing paperwork to get after the scumbags for continuing to deny us hot water!

Devon

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Detail of the cat garland over the doorway to the kitchen

Thursday, December 17, 2009
New Moon
Sunny and cold

The platters are delivered! Woo-hoo! Three hours to assemble, five hours to deliver. I have one platter and two tins to deliver in the building — but since they’ve changed the locks on everything, I can’t just slip into other sections and drop them at the door, the way I used to, so it’s gotten a little more complicated.

Thank goodness for hats, because after 5 days with no hot water and having to pour kettles of warmed water over my head to wash my hair, I was not a pretty girl.

I picked up some Chinese food on the way home, because there was no way in heck I was going to COOK after all that. Still no hot water. So I called the Health Department again, and they told me to call the city’s Buildings Dept. I haven’t been too happy with them in the past dealings, but what the heck. I got a really nice woman on the phone, explained the situation — five days without hot water — and she said she’d give the owners a call. Fifteen minutes later, she got back to me– they claim they’re “waiting for a part” and hope to have the boiler fixed tonight. I said, “Haven’t they ever heard of overnight delivery? Even the Post office does that.” And she said, “Yeah, I pointed that out.” But now it’s officially on the record, and they can ride the owners.

I get off the phone and the heat’s shut off. It’s 35 degrees outside. Typical — someone complains, so they punish us. The cats climbed under the featherbed and I prepared some hot water bottles. A friend had offered her shower once she got home for work, so I packed a bag in preparation.

About 3 hours later or so, the heat and the hot water came on. I took a long, hot, ecologically unfriendly shower and no longer smell like a sweaty sugar cookie sprinkled with orange zest.

And I had a big glass of wine and dipped into some of the goodies friends sent over for the holidays. I love all those packages of little goodies like cheeses and summer sausage and the like. They’re so much fun!

I tackled the cards and they won, so I’ll have to get back to them today. Had a really good yoga session and a really good writing session this morning. I’ve got to pick up one more gift for my mom and then do the rest of the grocery shopping for next week.

I think I’ve got everything I need for the Solstice Dinner on Monday. I may do the Trifle for the Solstice. I’ve got a plum pudding for Christmas Eve, and a pannetone for Christmas Day. I’m not going to deal with New Year’s until after I make it through this set of holidays!

I’m not a big New Year’s fan anyway — too much enforced, desperate joviality. When I lived overlooking Times Square and the big ball in NYC for all those years, I gave a huge party every year and we’d watch the ball drop. As the years progressed, it got to the point where, if you didn’t get there by 6 PM, you couldn’t get in, and I wasn’t allowed home after a show, even though I lived there. So I had to make other arrangements after whatever show I worked, because I couldn’t get home until at least 1 AM.

After a few years of working as a swing (substitute), I stopped accepting work on New Year’s Eve — just too insane. A lot of shows no longer have performances at night — it’s too hard for the audience to get there, not to mention actors and crew.

For several years I did a yoga retreat, and, occasionally, I’ll go to a small gathering out here. This year, I’m either going to do another retreat (this time in CT rather than upstate NY) or go to a friend’s, where there will be just a handful of us. And yes, of course, I’m in charge of the food, always! 😉

Better get gong – I need to eat something (I skipped lunch yesterday and that was really stupid — I was ready to gnaw on the steering wheel by the time I got home). And then it’s off to the store and back to writing cards. If I can get those done this morning, I’ll set up Ornament Hospital this afternoon, and maybe get some more decorating done.

And some more writing. It’s hard to write about the impending Apocalypse during the holidays!

Devon

Published in: on December 17, 2009 at 8:33 am  Comments (10)  
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