Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and lovely

Yesterday turned out to be a great day, after a very rocky start.

By rocky start, I mean we were all suffering from, shall we say “gastric distress” in the morning — I believe our water’s contaminated, and even boiling it isn’t helping. I used the pH strips I got for Elsa’s testing — extremely high on the acidic side. Fortunately, most of the time, the cats get bottled water, not boiled tap water. I’d put boiled tap water down for them this morning and they refused to drink it. Then, we got sick, so I switched it all to bottled, and they drank the good stuff and were fine.

So, yeah, basically, although I doubt it would stand up in court, the landlords are poisoning us. Plus, my downstairs neighbor moved out yesterday, which means they will start the renovation torture and it will be impossible to think or breathe or survive as of Monday.

If I COULD move out this week, I would. But people in this neck of the woods won’t rent to an unmarried female freelancer, no matter how reliable or what the law says. Besides, I don’t want to live HERE — I want to relocate. Which I’m trying to do, in spite of obstacles. I need everyone to hook into Diane’s heavy-duty moving vibes, and we’ll get it done. The move itself will cost at least $10K, which isn’t chump change, and it’s a case of having someplace to GO.

Immodium AD is a beautiful thing, and we were able to get on the road only about an hour late. We drove up to Old Saybrook, to my favorite “recycled furniture store”. I bought a set of Japanware cups and saucers for the shoot, a beautiful blue outside with a lovely gold glaze inside. It’s a little more modern than I originally envisioned, but it gives us options. I also found an almost-complete set of silver plate flatware that is monogrammed with my initial AND the pattern complements the William Rogers pattern I use daily. This flatware is by Old Company, but it’s beautiful. I may use some of it in the shoot, too. Everything came to $25, well within my projected budget.

We walked across the street to a warren of antique dealers, and I found a pair of Bond Ware cups and saucers with the rose pattern on the outside I wanted, and even inside, which are perfect for the shoot. $10 for the pair, still within budget.

From Old Saybrook, we hopped back on I-95 and headed up to Mystic, CT, where we wandered around the shopping village (rather than the historical village). I found Mystical Elements, the shop I wanted to visit. Their oil suppller is not one I particularly like, so I skipped the oil, picked up some of the herbs on my list, and stocked up on some much-needed crystals — the price and quality of the crystals are great. Also got some candles.

Headed southward again, to Niantic, to all three locations of the Book Barn. Found some books for my mom by her favorite author (Mary Balogh), but nothing for me. Youo know I’m sick when I walk around thousands of books and don’t buy ANY. I had three black cats accompanying me on my travels around the book sheds. It was hilarious. One led the way, telling me where to go, and the two younger ones trailed behind. I miss having black cats.

The drive back was a bit of a chore, because the traffic was bad. Not as bad as coming north, though — both I-95 and the Merritt Parkway seemed to be backed up all the way from Manhattan to New Haven. I felt sorry for those stuck, and grateful that, although traffic was heavy and moved slowly on our side, at least it moved.

Carefully washed the cups and saucers and pulled some other choices out of the cupboard. Couldn’t find what I wanted — those should NOT be in storage, but I’ll look.

Picked up Chinese food on the way home, had a quiet evening of EUREKA and HAVEN. I’m getting a little ahead of HAVEN, perhaps — each case is caused by something similar — strong emotion. Make the connection already and work on it! EUREKA’s fun, though. The invisible cat just made me howl. I could watch James Callis in every scene — I still think he’s being somewhat under-utilized. They brought him in beautifully, but aren’t using him enough. However, next week are the cross-over episodes with WAREHOUSE 13, and that should be fun.

Today, I’ve got to dig out some more dishes and props from storage, then head to Target for bins and other supplies, and find a pair of matching (or complimentary) blank books for a project. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do the photo shoot today, and then, if I don’t like how it came out, I can do another round of photos tomorrow.

Must also read my friend’s piece and re-read the book just accepted so that I can do the marketing and cover art questionnaires and get them back out — along with the photos — early next week.

Had an excellent first writing session this morning.

Busy, but all good.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I took Elsa to the holistic practitioner yesterday, and we had a good session. Elsa was friendly and cooperative, as usual, and seemed to like the treatments — so much so that she didn’t want to leave! She’s moving better, and she seems more alert and more comfortable. Her nose stopped running. But she’s still not eating enogh. I realize I need to give the treatment a few days to take hold (plus, we have our daily “homework” to do), but I’m still worried. But at least she’s more comfortable, and that’s the most important thing. I really liked the woman doing the work, and we will do another session next week.

She confirmed my original instincts, and arrived at her conclusion without prompting from me — there’s severe chemical stress and environmental toxins. I’m showing exceptionally high levels of the same toxins Elsa shows. In other words, our scumbag landlords are, literally, killing us by using toxic materials. Can we prove it in a court of law? Doubtful. But, with the elderly and pet deaths we’ve had on the rise since they took over the building, it all fits. Not to mention that their intent is to get all the long-term residents out, and they’ve made it clear they don’t care if we’re carried out in pine boxes.

Yet another incentive to leave.

We spent a quiet afternoon in the air conditioning, letting Elsa’s treatment settle. She slept peacefully, with the other two curled up around her, which hasn’t happened in a very long time. Violet, in particular, is delighted. She missed her best friend. Her sister usually works her last nerve (as sisters sometimes do).

I’m off prop and herb shopping today, up in CT. I have to get everything together and do the photo shoot for the new book this weekend, along with re-reading the manuscript to write pithy blurb copy, putting up the web page, filing out the rest of the required PR and cover art paperwork, outlining the next book for them (it’s not a series, but a set of characters we met in this book going off to have their own adventure), and reading my friend’s manuscript. So, it will be an intense weekend.

I had an excellent writing session this morning on the other WIP, the first book in the Willowspring Grove series. About 1700 words, not too shabby. I could have done more, but I ran out of time. I have to get on the road — many miles and things to do today, in order to get everything done on time. Tomorrow, I’ll have to dig some stuff out of storage, out of my prop boxes, and maybe hit Target. I’d like to do the photo shoot tomorrow, but it may wind up being on Sunday. If I do it tomorrow, and things don’t look good enough, I can reshoot on Sunday. Boy, do I wish I had my lighting equipment still! I gave it all up when I moved out of the city, thinking I wouldn’t need it again.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Hot, humid, rainy

It’s so humid that it feels like I’m trying to breathe underwater. Ick.

Drove to Stamford to use a gift card at the bookstore. That was fun. There was also a lovely farmer’s market in the lot beside the bookstore’s. Got some absolutely wonderful produce, still sun-kissed from the gardens. Which contributed to a delightful lunch with a friend.

Called the acupuncturist recommended to me by the woman in my pottery class. She picked up the phone herself; my acquaintance had talked to her about me, so she was expecting my call. We discussed Elsa for awhile, and she actually has an opening this morning, so, off we go.

Elsa thought we were going immediately, and tried to get into the carrier as soon as I was off the phone!

I really don’t think the new medication is helping her much. So, we’ll see what happens here. At the very least, this practitioner can make her more comfortable, even if there’s not much more we can do for her. And quality of life is more important than length. Of course I want Elsa around for a long, long time, but I also don’t want to torture her. When she’s ready to go, she will let me know. She’s made it pretty darned clear she’s not ready yet — she actually was the dominant cat yesterday, for the first time since we lost Felicia several years ago, bossing the twins around.

Read the second book in that series I’ve been reading. It was much tighter, better plotted, better written. If it wrapped up the story, the first book would have been unnecessary, and it could have all been the second book and been just fine. I read the first chapter of the third book, and it’s not grabbing me. So, we’ll see. If I come across it next time I’m in the bookstore, I might pick it up But I’m in no rush.

I also got Yasmine Galenorn’s newest release, NIGHT MYST, the first book of her new series, and I’m reading that and enjoying it very much.

It’s raining and gross outside. Not the kind of weather I want to haul Elsa around in, especially since the directions don’t really make sense to me, but we’ll see. Somehow, it will all work out. And, if it helps Elsa, it’s worth it.

Good first writing session this morning, about 1200 words. Will try to get a little more done before I have to pack up Elsa and go.

Considered applying for an editing job yesterday, but I don’t want to put that much energy into someone else’s work right now. The business writing and articles are fine, because it’s mine, even if I’m doing it to attract customers to someone else’s work. But working on someone else’s creative work — other than reading the piece for my friend — just not in that headspace right now, and why set myself up for a job I won’t enjoy at this point?

Would like to do some more adaptation on the plays so that I can work on query letters and start pitching them in August.

Well, I’ve been assigned an editor for my new book and sent the paperwork for marketing and cover art — but I’ve not signed the contract, so I’m not yet making any announcements. Guess we’re going forward, though, on what I hope will prove to be an exciting new venture. It also means I have to get started on the next book for them – and re-read this manuscript so that I can come up with blurbs, teasers, etc. I want to get that all turned around in the next few days. And it means the photo shoot needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Today is the 38th anniversary of my father’s death.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

At least it’s not as hot and humid these days as it was.

I was practically crippled by the migraine yesterday. I even had sensitivity to light, which is unusual — usually it’s just sound. Talk about misery.

I dragged myself to the grocery store, and to a thrift shop looking for props. Didn’t find exactly what I was looking for – well, I found a set of gorgeous dishes that were expensive that would work, but the price and the amount were too much for me to invest in — I don’t need service for 12, I need a pair of matching floral teacups. I thought I had some, but they’re not the right kind for this photo shoot. I may go up to my go-to store in Old Saybrook next week.

Went to my friend’s place, did four loads of laundry, and lay on the couch trying to get over the migraine most of the day.

After awhile, I could read a little bit. I’m reading a book that several of my friends absolutely raved about and I don’t get it. I like the premise, I like the research and the way the author’s imagination morphs it. I like some of the humor. There are too many references to clothes and shoes. I think the heroine is kind of an idiot and her learning curve’s not good enough for me, and the hero is a little too cliche romance hero. At the two thirds point, I said to myself, “five more pages and then I’ll put the book down” and it FINALLY picked up a bit so I could continue. I kept getting ahead of it all the time and waiting for the heroine to catch up, and, honestly, a few times, I wished the bad guys would get her because she was working my last nerve so badly. The opening chapter of the second book in the series seems better, so I may read it, but I’m not sure. It just doesn’t grab me, and I don’t see why it’s so popular. The writing’s workman-like, but not riveting; the ideas are interesting, but not brilliant. But I WANT to get it because I can learn from its popularity. There are plenty of other authors (like Yasmine Galenorn and CE Murphy) who cover similar territory and they do it better. So why is this series so popular? I want to figure it out.

I managed to watch a little TV last night: WAREHOUSE 13, which was fun, and I like better this season, and COVERT AFFAIRS, which just isn’t working for me. I’m going to stop watching it, even though I like Kari Matchett and Christopher Gorham (their work in scenes together is especially strong). It’s just not engaging me enough.

Woke up this morning with just residual from the migraine, but it’s starting up again due to the damn workmen and their power tools. I can’t be around repetitive machine noise, especially when it’s high-pitched.

Fortunately, I was up early enough to get in a good 1200 words on a WIP, finishing up a chapter. That helped my attitude for the day.

It still feels like Saturn is kicking my ass, but, oh well. And it’s not even retrograde, it’s just supposed to have moved out of Pisces. I think mine got stuck somehow.

Had a rather uninspiring conversation with someone who wants script coverage. I answered the ad with rates, resumes, samples. The response was, “Well, we can get someone to do that for $15.” And my response was, “And that’s why you keep having to advertise; those of us who are pros at it don’t work for $15/script, and those who work for that rate can’t give you the quality of coverage you need.” Moron.

A friend sent me a piece to critique — I’ve got to get on the ball with it. I love her writing, and I’m good at catching the (very few) inconsistencies that sometimes creep in, so that will be fun.

Anyway, onward. I’m going to try to get Elsa an acupuncture or Reiki appointment today for either later this week or sometime next week. I should get out some more queries and work on the new brochure, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen.


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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Sent out a big batch of queries yesterday on a project. Sent a diplomatic email that will hopefully further contract negotiations in a positive way. It took me four days to word it properly, but, hopefully, it will do some good and we all get what we want. Got a swift response — I think each of us think the other side blinked, but as long as we both get what we want, who cares? We’ll see what the contract says if and when it arrives. I think I’m overly wary because of previous experiences with other digital publishers, where things seemed to be on the up-and-up at first,and then weren’t. I have to remember to keep each experience separate, and learn from each, but not tar a company with another’s brush. Sometimes it’s hard to keep that distance.

Took care of Elsa — she was up and down all day.

Had a massive migraine, mostly due to the idiot workmen using unnecessary power tools outside my window.

Finished the book I was reading on the bus — I only had about five pages. It’s an anthology called WINTER MOON with three lovely pieces in it by Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee, and CE Murphy.

Worked in open studio. I think the pathetic wheel pot never survived the kiln, and a few things on the mask broke/fell off, but I learned from the doing and I can learn from the letting go. It will just make me strive for improvement next time I get to try and make something. It was very crowded, and we were all trying to honor each other’s space, but it wasn’t always easy. It was definitely not the helpful, friendly atmosphere that usually prevails in the place. Probably some special hours should have been set aside just for the beginning class people to work, rather than making them open. But then, maybe I was the only beginner who missed the last class. I picked up the tiny pot and the bottle vase — it’s quite the monstrosity. They look very different than I expect, but kind of cool. At some point, yes, I will post photos.

I need to pick up some props at a thrift shop and do a photo shoot in the very near future to create the icon for a pseudonym that may launch soon.

Finished taking notes on the mystery for the deconstruction seminars. Now, I have to sort everything out into lectures.

I’m spending a good portion of the day today at a friend’s, doing laundry and writing. Also have grocery shopping and have to re-stock the cat food. They’re getting fussy again.

I’m on the second day of a massive migraine, so everything is more difficult than it needs to be.

Elsa’s new medication is helping her a little bit, but, so far, it’s nowhere near the “miracle drug” it’s supposed to be. I need to call those holistic practitioners a few towns over and see if I can get an appointment for her next week.

Trying to gear myself up to feel creative and motivated today. Perhaps another cup of coffee will help.


Published in: on July 27, 2010 at 5:42 am  Comments (6)  
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and lovely

I didn’t go out at all on Saturday, but I hear it wasn’t quite as hot as predicted — 97 instead of 100, 106 heat index instead of 110.

I finished the assignment for Confidential Job #1 and sent it off. Always good to be done. I also finished reading and note-taking on the fantasy romance I’m deconstructing for a seminar in September. Now, I have to sort all the notes into seven lectures. That will be fun — and also challenging, in the best possible way.

I started re-reading and note-taking on the mystery I’m deconstructing in a seminar in late November.

Ran around on Sunday, preparing to leave, doing laundry, tidying up, packing, etc. Gotta leave every place better than you found it, right?

Wrote some notes on a new idea that I hope will be a short story. I haven’t done much writing at all this week, other than my daily 1K. Lots of percolating, though, and resting, which is necessary. I didn’t realize just how worn out I’ve been from Elsa’s illness, fighting with the landlords, fighting with the two companies trying to take advantage of my elderly mother (I won. Did you ever doubt me?), and trying to make a living.

I’m off to the glaze room at the pottery studio today. Hopefully, the pieces I created before I left have been bisque-fired and I can glaze them today. Otherwise, I have to go back later in the week to finish.

Not sure if I can take a pottery class in the fall. I want to, but with the way potential scheduling for other Have-To’s is working out, I might only be able to do the first six classes — out of thirteen. I have to think about it, and see how things shake out over the next couple of weeks. There’s only one class I can take — a Thursday morning one that mixes hand-building and the wheel. And there aren’t many spots, so if I hesitate too long, I’ll lose.

Getting back was an adventure to say the least. Severe thunder storm as I left the apartment in Philly. Fortunately, I got a cab. Waited in the train station until the bus loaded. They were kind and let us on early.

Unfortunately, we got stuck three times in New Jersey, so what should have been a two hour trip took four hours. I read my book, had on my iPod, and tried to ignore my annoying seatmate. I did have one of those intense moments of understanding with three other people on the bus, that one sometimes has with strangers, and it sparked a story idea. I have to play with it a little more.

Got a cab to Grand Central. And that’s when it got stupid. Metro North is the worst train line in the world, from all my travels. Not only was the air off in Grand Central, the platforms were probably around 100 degrees, and they were ten minutes late opening the train. When the lazy conductors finally deigned to STROLL down and let people on, they then discovered the train didn’t work properly. They had AN HOUR to test the train. To test it three minutes before it’s supposed to leave and then to stand around with thumbs up asses because they don’t know what to do is unacceptable. I think you have to pass a test to be incompetent, stupid, and lazy to work for them. The train FINALLY pulled out — late, of course, because Metro North in incapable of doing anything on time, even when the train works.

I finally got home just before 10 at night. After leaving at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Elsa was happy to see me, Iris didn’t care one way or the other, and Violet wouldn’t speak to me — although she’s Velcro kitty this morning.

They woke me just after 5 AM, so I guess we’re back to our normal routine.

Will try to get some writing done this morning, and then — glazing.

It’s much cooler today, thank goodness. Really lovely.


Published in: on July 26, 2010 at 6:55 am  Comments (4)  
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Yesterday was all about lunch with two writer pals. We went to Monk’s Cafe, which is only two blocks from where I’m staying. Excellent on every level — service, food, drink, price. Great place. It will become one of my regular haunts here in Philly.

Our server is a painter who needs the services of a writer. We all exchanged cards!

We had good conversations on a wide variety of topics, which always makes for an entertaining time. Great, great women. I learn a lot from them. One I hadn’t met before in person — just know her from Twitter. The other is a friend of quite a few years now, Lori from Words on the Page. Good times.

Spent the afternoon working on the material for Confidential Job #1. Plan to finish it and get it out today.

Honored the goddesses of the healing wells last night, on their festival day, with a good long soak!

Watched EUREKA. Love that show. It’s so much fun. James Callis is a brilliant addition to the cast. I realize his character arc can’t be unlimited, but I love the work he’s doing. He got a good bit of attention as Gaius on the re-envisioned BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, but since I’m one of the three people on the planet who didn’t watch it, I don’t know his work from it. I recognized him from his work in FLASH FORWARD — I thought he was one of the more interesting supporting characters brought in. I love watching really good actors like Callis get their teeth into very diverse roles, instead of getting trapped in a “type.”

I had a good laugh on HAVEN — an actor with whom I worked on a show in NY several years ago is on it, and he’s getting away with some wardrobe eccentricities we never allowed. They’re more fitting to this character than the previous one, but still — definitely an actor quirk.

Didn’t sleep well, for some reason. Weird dreams. And I have to stand firm in the contract negotiations. Oh, well, if it means walking away, that’s what I need to do. The piece will sell elsewhere.

The lunch made me realize that I’ve been rather unmotivated these past few months. I’ve used Elsa’s illness and the scumbag landlords as excuses, but I’ve really got to get off my duff and do some more aggressive marketing.

It’s supposed to be 110 with heat index today. I don’t plan on going out. I’m going to stay in the air conditioned apartment (praying the power holds), finish the assignment for Confidential Job #1, and write. I’ve certainly got plenty of projects that need attention.

I wrote a few pages of the first book in the new series last week, to get a feel for it, and will write a little more, and then go back to finishing the outline. I’m outlining the major character arcs for the overall series first, and then breaking things down into individual books, a new way of working for me. But this series wants to be done that way, so I’m going to trust the characters, and then figure out the structure.

I head back to NY tomorrow night. I can’t believe how fast this week flew past!

Stay cool, stay hydrated.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and hot
Festival of Salacia and Sulis

Yesterday was fun. Different than I expected, but fun. I was out of the apartment early, walked east on Chestnut Street to the historic district. Never made it to Ben Franklin’s grave, although it turns out I was always within a block of it. There are thousands of boy scouts on their way to a jamboree — thousands of ‘em, all over the place. I spent most of the day trying to dodge the large groups. A store proprietor said they’d be at mostly family-friendly places; I hoped to find a tavern to hide in.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re very nice and reasonably well-behaved, in spite of being older teenaged boys. But they ARE teen-aged boys, and there are thousands of them, and there’s only so much of that I can take.

Paid my respects to Betsy Ross, photographed the fountain in her courtyard with the cats. Swung by the Old Quaker Meeting House, and the store at the Visitor’s Center. I wanted to buy some silly gifts, but the store was overpriced, and there wasn’t anything appropriate. And why do the stores in the Bourne Center sell replicas of the Statue of Liberty and postcards of NYC? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Carpenter’s Hall (good bookshop there), swung back around on 2nd St. to the Clay Center. Although it states on the website that the gallery opens at 10, and I was there after 10:30, it was locked and dark. Typical Philadelphia.

Ducked down Elfreth’s Alley, full of tiny little row houses and window boxes, and pre-revolutionary lane that still has people living there. Poor things, the tourists must drive them nuts. And there’s Blanden’s something or other, another little alley leading of Elfreth’s Alley, which would be lovely and peaceful is so many people weren’t crawling around taking photos! I was one of them, but I tried to do it quietly! 😉

Took some lovely photos in the cemetery at Christ’s Church, dodged four troops of boy scouts (for a minute, I thought I’d have to hop over the wall, which, in a dress, would have been an adventure). Walked across to the Society Hill neighborhood, full of restored (expensive) row houses.

There’s an oddly designed red brick building, heading south, called the Center for Living History that “closed permanently” on June 18. That’s a shame. And I wonder what they’ll do with the monstrosity.

The plan was to eat at a pub I’d read about called The Artful Dodger that looked interesting. I thought I’d check it out and write a short article about it. There are plenty of publications who take that type of stuff. I got there about a half hour before they were scheduled to open. I was hot and tired, in spite of carrying water. I wandered around the neighborhood, which is lovely, and spent a good bit of time in the churchyard next to St. Peter’s. I took some interesting photographs — I like old graveyards, they have stories, and they tell them if you listen quietly enough. Also met a woman walking two Wheaton terriers who told me about some interesting graves in the graveyard next door, at cemetery beside Old Pine St. Church, and about some lovely little gardens tucked away between Society Hill and where I’m staying off Rittenhouse Square.

By the time we were done, it was a few minutes after noon. I walked back to the pub, and it was even a few more minutes after noon. Not only was it not yet open, the staff saw me waiting and turned their backs. Not a wave or holding up a hand to indicate five more minutes. Dismissal.

So I left. Not spending my money there.

The service in Philadelphia restaurants sucks more often than it doesn’t anyway, which is a shame, because Philadelphia has a lot of outstanding restaurants. It sucks more than in most other towns I’ve travelled to throughout the world. But the servers seem to think they’re doing you a favor by letting you come in and sit down and pay them to maybe come by your table if they feel like it and can get off their smart phones or be bothered to stop conversing with their colleagues. 98% of the wait staff in Philly couldn’t last a single shift in NY.

Exceptions that I’ve discovered (and to which I keep returning) are Smith’s, on S. 19th St., a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square, and The Black Sheep, on S. 17th St. Hopefully, the place we’re going for lunch to today will also fall into that category.

Walked west on Pine Street, which was lovely. Row houses, Antiques Row (a series of antique stores — if I’d been in shopping mode, I’d have stopped at a few, but I wasn’t). I hoped to find a little cafe to stop and have a bite, but didn’t see anything that particularly struck me.

So I wound up at The Black Sheep, which is close to where I’m staying. I already knew they had great burgers and a nice selection of beers. I sat in the bar. The only person working was the bartender, who was also serving, but she was great. Nice change. I had the fish tacos — a huge platter with delightful condiments including one of the best cilantro sauces I’ve ever had. And a couple of pints of Flying Fish beer, which was very good. All reasonably priced, served promptly and politely, in a good atmosphere. Because The Black Sheep is so close to where I stay, I tend to overlook it, but I won’t anymore.

After lunch, I returned to the apartment and collapsed in the air conditioning. I was pretty wiped out. Didn’t do much of anything for the rest of the day except some percolating and email. I overheated during the day, in spite of drinking a lot of water, so it took me awhile to cool down.

Contract negotiations are not going well. I hope I don’t have to walk away and start the submission process all over again on this project, but if it comes to that, I will. I like this company, but they’re not taking one of the non-negotiables for me seriously and they think I’ll blink. They are sadly mistaken.

I will tell them so politely and firmly, and we’ll see where that leaves us.

Back to the page for awhile this morning, and then it’s off to lunch with some writer pals at a Belgian restaurant only about two blocks away whose menu looks fantastic. Let’s hope the service is up to par.

Boy, am I spoiled with my Optimum internet service at home. Comcast sucks — it’s hard to get anything done efficiently. Pages take about 3-1/2 minutes to load — when they can be bothered to load at all. I hope they are not my only option when I relocate.

Today is the festival of the goddesses of mineral springs, salt water, and healing waters. I will honor them tonight by a good soak in the tub with salts!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and hot

I found out Reading Terminal Market opened earlier than I thought, so I got out the door early yesterday morning. Unfortunately, I hadn’t gotten two blocks (just hit Walnut St.) when my shoe broke and I had to turn back. Better two blocks than twelve, right?

I can fix it when I’m home with my wardrobe kit, but not here. Changed shoes, tried again. Made it this time, although I had to climb over a film crew. Nice to see so much shooting in Philly in the past year or so. Was tempted to swing by the wardrobe truck to borrow some barge to fix the shoe.

Market was fine. Didn’t buy much — herbs, spices, coffees, some pastry. Headed back and hit CVS for a few things missing from the premises, and to get gel insoles for my Timberland sneakers. Bless ‘em, they’re four years old now and I wear them constantly. They’re still great, but the inner supports have worn down.

Back in for the day a little after 10, because, with the heat index, it was around 97 and felt every bit of it!

Worked on the material for Confidential Job #1. The undercurrent of sexism in it is pissing me off, and will go in my write up.

Skimmed through a book on the premises — one of those enlightenment tomes Oprah stumped for a few years back. Of course, it’s easy to talk about enlightenment when you’re a billionaire. Anyway, I thought the book was crap. Very presentational, found a factual error on p. 4, and not a bit of practical application. Glad I didn’t pay for it — I’d have asked for my money back!

Rested quite a bit; trying to get my energy back after months of taking care of Elsa round the clock. She seems to be responding well to the new medicine (it finally arrived on Monday night). I can’t believe how much I miss her, but I’m glad she’s doing well at home.

Little bit of writing done, nothing major. Playing with a few different things. Got out some article pitches, did some negotiations for more workshops. Can’t get into the Savvy Authors site, which is going to be an issue when I’m teaching the deconstruction seminars in fall. Hopefully, we can get it sorted. It’s been re-set twice, now, by the admin, and the site still tells me I don’t exist, whether I use Safari or Firefox.

Of course, since I said I didn’t want to work on POWER OF WORDS all week, the ideas are flowing fast and furiously. Go figure!

I’m out of the house early today. The cleaner is coming this morning, so I’m off to the Clay Center here in Philly, then to the cemetery where Ben Franklin is buried (it’s only open in summer; last time I was here in the summer it was closed for renovation or something weird), and I have to pick up some info at the Visitor Center near the Liberty Bell.

By then, I’ll be ready for a nice cold beer at a pub before heading back. Hopefully, I can finish off Confidential Job #1 this afternoon and get a few exercises done on the booklet.

It’s another hot one today. Now they’re saying 97 tomorrow and over 100 for Saturday. ick. Pray the power grid holds.


Published in: on July 22, 2010 at 7:15 am  Comments (4)  
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Greetings from Philadelphia! Yes, I’m here. It’s hot and expected to get all the way up to 99 by Saturday. Ick.

Trip down was fine. Our Megabus left a few minutes late because the previous bus, headed to DC, was filled with morons who couldn’t seem to get on the bus. Honestly, the guy in charge was far too nice. He should have left them to wait for the next one, after the THIRD time he told them they had to board so the bus could leave.

Our bus boarded in about five minutes, and it was all good. At first, I had two seats to myself, but once we cleared the tunnel and were in NJ, a young guy asked if he could join me; his seatmate was freaking him out, in addition to reading what he worked on and commenting on it. What’s one of the universe’s little jokes is that, as people were boarding (I was third in line and had my pick of seats), this guy was the ONE person I thought, “Oh, if I have to have someone next to me, he’s the one I can deal with.”

We had a perfectly companionable time, chatting a little, but mostly he was working on his Macbook, and I was reading the material for Confidential Job #1. They paid me earlier than expected, so they have a temporary reprieve! 😉

Headed to the apartment in Philly. Dropped my stuff off. Grabbed my shopping bags. Headed nearly all the back back to he train station to Trader Joe’s. Did some grocery shopping. Stopped at the wine store. Stopped at Metropolitan Bakery. My usual settling-in routine. It rained a bit on my travels, but nothing major.

However, I got back to discover the corkscrew was gone. So, I headed across the street to the kitchen store to buy wine opener (the kind that looks like it has little arms that raise and you lower them and pop out the cork; it’s the only one I can use), and a wooden spoon. I stay at so many places, and I’m sick of having to hunt down what I need or do without; I’m putting together a “site kit” with a corkscrew, a set of wooden or bamboo spoons, a bath plug, etc. I already carry my French press along with me most of the time. It’s just easier to have a set of stuff that can get tossed into my bag when I travel, and then I don’t have to worry.

Had a late lunch; read and relaxed in the afternoon; got settled. Made a chicken biriyani for dinner. Watched a little TV, but went to bed early.

I hear Elsa is doing well, which is a relief. But I can’t believe how much I miss her! I miss the twins, too, but especially Elsa.

I’m headed to Reading Terminal Market this morning. It’s supposed to be 90 by noon and 94 by 3 PM, so I want to be back here and tucked away by noon. I hope to write this afternoon — I want to work on the new booklet and do some more planning on the new series.

I’m specifically not working on POWER OF WORDS this week, because I want it to percolate.

According to the astrologer, Saturn leaves Pisces today — thank goodness! I could use the break.

I’m forced to use Comcast while I’m here and it’s so damn slow! It’s like having dial-up again. Urgh.


Published in: on July 21, 2010 at 6:55 am  Comments (2)  
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Tuesday, July 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Hot & humid

Yesterday morning, we had a brilliant storm — Boomers of thunder, lots of lightening, pouring rain. Loved it. Iris & Violet hated it, although it didn’t seem to bother Elsa.

Cleared up, I went off to run errands, and was caught in the next deluge. What was weird was that, although I was walking upright through the rain, only my front got wet. Doesn’t make any sense.

Ran a bunch of errands, finished packing. My sunglasses broke, and the only place I can get replacements is the Mass Turnpike, so I am SOL for now. I can only use very specific ones.

I am off to Philly. Wish me a CALM journey and I’ll check back in tomorrow.


Published in: on July 20, 2010 at 1:26 am  Comments (5)  

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and hot

I seem to have a perpetual heat exhaustion headache. Ick.

Anyway, Saturday was good. I got some stuff done in the morning, cooled down the bedroom with the air conditioning for the cats, and headed off to open studio hours in the afternoon.

I made six little objects: three pinch pots, one raised round disk on square feet that I think will be a candle holder (for pillars), a slab-rolled cut-out leaf design that’s too open to be a bowl, so I think it will hold one of my crystal balls, and a small tray.

I’d stopped at Michael’s to buy a package of loose leaves (like autumn leaves, not tea leaves), because I wanted to try the slab leaf projects a teacher showed us on Wednesday. But these leaves didn’t have deep enough ribs, so, when I tried to roll them onto the slab (using a rolling pin — it’s amazing how useful kitchen tools are in ceramics) it didn’t make a deep enough design. The larger leaves have the clearly defined ribs and work better. So, instead, I used the leaf as a pattern to trace into the slab/tray bottom with my needle tool, and then I drew in the leaves. I rolled, cut, measured, and attached the sides of the tray, putting in extra clay for shrinkage, and hoping it won’t separate once it dries.

There were three other people working in open studio, all on the wheel. We wound up putting out our pieces to dry in the parking lot in the sun (talk about old style) because it was more efficient than just sitting it in front of the fan.

I was there for the whole open studio time — and STILL have clay left over! 😉

But I had a blast. I love, love, love handbuilding and slab work. If there’s a class for that which is for a beginner in the fall, that’s what I want to take. I feel like I should tackle the stuff I’m not good at, but I want it to stay fun. A mixed class would probably be best, but if there’s just a handbuilding class that’s not too advanced, I have a feeling I’ll take that instead. I love rolling the clay (between two cloths) through the slab roller. I love checking it and using the needle tool to remove air bubbles, then sliding it through again a few times. I love figuring out how to cut and shape and playing with tools and texture. It made me happy.

One of the other women there has been taking class for two years. She said that, for the first eighteen months, she couldn’t get the feel of the wheel at all. Then, suddenly, she had a breakthrough, and now she’s obsessed.

Hopefully, I’ll hit a point where I can do wheel as well, but right now, it just discourages and intimidates me. Maybe, once I’ve moved, I’ll take a few private lessons (if I can find a really good teacher), who can baby-step me through both the theoretical and the experiential. Because so much of wheel work is understanding the feel of the clay.

My morning glory somehow managed to grow through the screen and is trailing down the side of the building. Oops!

I go this from Brandy, who got this from Dru . . .

Five things always in my purse: lipstick, pens, small screwdriver for my glasses, a couple of crystals, a Susan B. Anthony dollar (for luck, not to spend)

Five things always in my wallet: driver’s license, bank card, store discount cards (actually, at this point, only Costco, Borders, and Staples Rewards — all the rest are in their own wallet), too many receipts, National Wildlife Federation card.

Five things always in my refrigerator: milk, wine, eggs, cranberry juice, lemons and limes.

Five things always in my closet: Well, my closet is kind of like the one in THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE — it looks small, but I keep putting things into it and it expands to meet need. When I empty it to move, I may find Jimmy Hoffa and a trail to another country in there. At this point, stuff in there includes clothes, my childhood sled, offseason shoes (on-season are on a shoe rack in the bedroom or in the front hall for easy access), boxes of fabric, childhood ballet costumes.

Five things always on my desk: Printer (computer is a laptop, so it travels), gargoyle, crystals, Ganesh statue, too many projects (not that I’m complaining — it means the work is going well).

Sunday was pretty quiet. I got some work done in the morning. I packed up the baking materials and went to my friend’s place, where I baked brownies all afternoon and worked on notes for a new series while the brownies were in the oven and cooling. It was a nice, quiet workspace, both the oven and the airconditioning worked, and I got a lot done.

Quiet night reading and playing with the cats. In the morning, Elsa scooped a blueberry right out of my bowl and started playing with it on the floor, so at least she felt well enough to play.

Hopefully, her medicine arrives today, so we can start it before I leave. I’ve got to do a lot of last minute running around — a bit of bill paying, getting my tickets and money sorted, finish packing, return my friend’s key.

I should have internet in Philly (famous last words), and, for some reason, I’ve decided I want tea towels with Ben Franklin and/or the Liberty Bell on them. Yeah, I don’t get it, either. I’m building up my stock of tea towels/kitchen towels, and am on a novelty tea towel kick.

I’m trying to limit the projects I’m taking, because it will be a busy week: the work for Confidential Job #1, notebooks for two projects, the new booklet, the books on which I’m lecturing, and a couple of other books just to read for fun. That, along with what I’m doing while down there,should give me a productive week.

I do plan to blog all week, internet- permitting, and I hope to get the last bit of the potential contract sorted out, so that I’ll have good news by next week. Here’s hoping.

In the 90’s+ all week in New York, which means it will be even hotter in Philly. I have to mentally gear myself up for a lot of running around hauling luggage in hot weather tomorrow.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

It is so humid in here that when I walk across the livingroom carpet, I squish moisture out of it. Disgusting. Thank goodness there’s an air conditioner in the bedroom.

Got out a stack of correspondence, headed to the post office. Ran into a neighbor and caught up. Just walking six blocks in the heat nearly killed me. Could have run into another neighbor who is supposedly heading the tenants’ organization, but he’s been so useless and uncommunicative for so long, that I chose to avoid him rather than get into it with him. I don’t want excuses — I want follow-through and some cojones.

I’m re-reading some books that I’ve recommended to someone who’s taking a private course of study with me, so that we can discuss them. It’s been five or six years since I read them, so I figured I needed to refresh my memory.

A few short stories are swirling around my head, and I hope to get them down in the next few days, if I don’t pass out from heat exhaustion. I keep hearing or reading something, and the short story wheels start to whir. Character voices are coming through loud and clear, and I want to get them down before they float away. Muses don’t come when you call — they come when it’s time to write. If you ignore them, they leave you and don’t necessarily come back (they hate disrespect). And on the days they don’t feel like showing up, you have to lean on craft and the notes you took when they were around.

It was too humid to go into the studio and work yesterday — nothing would have dried enough to write up and put on the greenware shelf for firing. So I’m making another attempt to go today. This is really my last shot. Also, the large wheel-throwing class met yesterday before open studio, and, from what I’ve heard, most of the class continues to work through studio hours, so it would have been crowded.

One thing I love about the place is that everyone is nice, and everyone helps everyone.

If I can get in there, I want to work on a couple of pinch pots and do something on the slab.

I picked up the keys to my friend’s place yesterday afternoon, so that I can bake over there tomorrow. I have to pick up a few things at the store when I’m done at the studio in order to do that, and I’ll bring some writing along to work on while the stuff’s actually in the oven and then cooling.

Elsa’s hanging in there. Her medicine still isn’t here (and no one has an answer for me on that — hmm, let’s see, how about sending me another shipment, then?) and still no word from the vet.

Haven’t heard back yet re: the contract negotiations. Hopefully, there will be someone else at the company with whom I can talk in the coming week.

Lori, always happy to brainstorm with you. Always have time.

Brandy, hmm, online writing classes for teens. Try checking with — email them via the “contact us” feature if you don’t see anything offered and suggest it — I bet they’d bring in someone to teach. Their yearly fee is reasonable, and once you’re a member, some classes are free or at least have even more of a discount. Even if you’re not a member, the fees are reasonable. National Novel Writing Month, in November, has a section for teens, complete with mentors. That’s completely free, although they always need donations, so if you donate $10 or $20 bucks or buy a mug or a tee shirt, it helps. Have you checked the Y? I’ve taught at a lot of Y’s, and the prices are usually reasonable, and I also teach at Continuing Ed programs of both high schools, colleges, and community colleges, which often have classes for teens. Let me also ask on the Muse Online loop — I bet someone there would know. I don’t think Muse, where I teach every October, has teen-focused classes, although I’ve had teens in my workshops along with adults. Again, the Muse conference is free — but you have to sign up by August. You could talk to Lea, who runs it, and ask what would be appropriate for your daughter to sit in on. It’s a wonderful week, and it might give her a taste of lots of different things so she can decide in which direction to proceed next. is the link, and Lea’s email is at the bottom. We’ll find something good!

I’m trying to figure out what to make as Christmas/Yule/Holiday gifts this year. My mom hoped I could make little pots for everyone, but I just won’t be that good that fast. So I’m exploring other options. I need to get started in August and make things in August and September, because October through December will be wild months.

Okay, must shower, I’m way too sticky for this hour of the morning, and then it’s back to the page for a few hours, before heading back to the studio.

Have a great weekend. Stay cool and hydrated!