December 31, 2010 — New Year’s Eve

Friday, December 31, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and mild
New Year’s Eve

I can’t believe this year is over, and it’s been quite a roller coaster of a year!

If you’d like to see my evaluation for 2010, which I thought would be depressing, but actually turned out to be quite enlightening (for me), hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions blog, which has been sorely neglected in the past few months.

My back kind of limited a lot of activity yesterday. I had to do a bunch of paperwork dealing with various transitional business — really, most of these companies are staffed by morons. There are enough people looking for work that companies should dump the incompetent and hire the intelligent. Oh, wait, that would mean they had to pay people a fair wage for a fair day’s work and the intelligent might actually question the corporation’s culture of screwing the public, and that would never do!

But the auto insurance kerflamma is sorted out. Turns out they sent the bill BEFORE they checked my driving record, and it’s even less than the original quote, thanks to me being a careful driver in the past (and now I have the pressure to continue)!

Paid a bunch of bills, so I can go into the New Year without bills hanging over my head.

Played with the cats, who wanted attention.

Filled the car to bursting with garbage and recycling and took it all to the dump. 80% of our garbage is recycling — we really generate very little stuff for the landfill, which is good.

Went grocery shopping and spent far more than I intended — I thought when you have a list you stay under budget? Even with a list, I bought more than I thought I would — and I stuck to the list! Also stocked up on some wine for next week. For a state with such tight blue laws, they have a lot of awesome wine shops around here!

I was in so much pain in the morning that I considered a trip to the emergency room. But, again, it would be a lot of money and tests and all they can do is give me a stronger painkiller, which doesn’t solve the problem. Alleve did NOTHING, didn’t even take the edge off, and neither did Excedrin. Spent most of the afternoon lying on the couch reading, with a heating pad on my back.

Yet another customer service person from Verizon told me that they “can’t” do anything to help me unless I buy the blocker. I ignored them, and I think I’ve finagled it so that it’s blocked — I’m not getting messages every 15 seconds any more.

Costume Imp and I are getting next week figured out — it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Saw a lovely rocking chair for sale for a great price on Craigslist – I was hoping to pick it up today, but haven’t heard back from the owner. If I can’t get it today, it’ll have to be next week, and they’ll probably sell it to someone else. Oh, well. I’ll either get it or I won’t.

The appliance repair place called and will come today to fix the washer. I can do laundry here before the New Year! I hate starting the new year with dirty clothes!

I also want to do my hair today — I want to start the New Year with shiny hair AND clean clothes!

My hurricane cylinders arrived yesterday (they weren’t scheduled to arrive until Monday) and this time, the UPS guy HANDED me the box instead of throwing it from the truck. Which is good, since they’re glass. They are beautiful. They fit the candlestands perfectly, although they’re taller than I expected, but look great. I washed them last night, let them dry and they’re up now. It will make things safer.

I’m looking forward to a nice, cozy celebration here at home tonight (I’m not big on New Year’s shindigs, and I don’t have to be banned from my own home until 1 AM, like I was in NYC). Yes, when I lived a block from Times Square, if I left the house after 6 PM, I was not allowed back in until after 1 AM, even though I lived there! Isn’t that awful? I usually had a show on New Year’s Eve (thankfully, most shows now only do a matinee), and then I was forced to go to a party. I don’t like New Year’s Eve — too much forced joviality for me — I like to celebrate quietly at home with one or two people.

Once I moved out of the city and wasn’t working full-time anymore, I refused to accept work for New Year’s. I did a yoga retreat upstate for several years, which was great. After that year where I was on the train when the year turned, I decided no more of other people deciding how I start my year!

So, I’ve got some errands to run today, and the repairman to wait for, and my hair to do, and some shelves to put up in the basement to sort the dishes I don’t need every day, some writing to do, and then enjoy sweeping the old year out of the back door and welcoming the New Year in the front!

I’ve got my bayberry candle for tonight; my bayberry incense for tonight and tomorrow, and the stuff I need for the dawn ceremony I do on New Year’s.

I want a peaceful end to this year and a quiet, fun start to 2011!

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT
Sunny and cold

Drove to Wareham and spent my lovely giftcard at Target. Got a bunch of organizational stuff for the house, plus a new thermal carafe coffee-maker (now I don’t have to wrap a dishtowel around the coffeepot to keep it warm), and, on a frivolous note, a new purple cloche hat. I love cloche hats, and it’s really cute!

While we were there, we nipped in to the Michael’s there (much nicer than the one in Hyannis) and to DSW, just because. I fell in love with a pair of unique Liz Claiborne suede flats, but they were a size 8. I wear 8 1/2-9. Of course, they were the only pair in the store. I figured what the heck, I’ll try them on.

They fit PERFECTLY. And were on the clearance rack. And are very, very comfortable. I can wear them with pretty much everything I own.

Stopped at a garden store on the way back, but they didn’t have anything (on sale) that I wanted; stopped at a well-known fruit market, which had some cool stuff, but $1/apple? Really? Uh, not very often. Especially for common varieties.

Iris gave us a big scare because, for a couple of hours, we couldn’t find her. We called and called and tossed the house upside down. We finally found her asleep in the bottom of the laundry basket, under a quilt I haven’t yet put away. Damn cat! Nearly gave us a heart attack!

They run and hide when the door opens, so it’s a pretty good bet they don’t dash out when we’re unloading the car (plus, I usually close the garage door), but one never knows. They’re quick little things, and if one of them slithered out . . .

The Christmas cactus is bursting into white bloom in my writing room, which is lovely.

Today, we have to go to the dump and then go grocery shopping. Word from CT is that the grocery store shelves down there are bare (trucks can’t get in because the snow’s not yet cleared away), so we come bearing supplies. And then I have to stop by the insurance broker’s again — there’s yet more kerflamma with the car insurance — we got a statement from a “group” including our new company that has NOTHING to do with what we agreed on, and is nearly $500 more than I was quoted. No. I don’t care about the details. Make that number go away and change the piece of paper to reflect what we discussed. I don’t care about the details. Do it.

Verizon kept at me yesterday, claiming they were trying to “help” me — of course, for a price. I made it very clear that I know part of their responsibility under law is to protect me from harassment — without extorting me for it. Either they step up, or they, too, will be named in the legal complaint filed. I’m not wasting hours on the phone with them; I’m not paying additional fees. Meet your side of the contract, or I file against you.

My contract with Verizon is up in mid-September of 2011. (Remember when my mother’s phone died and they wouldn’t let me replace it without agreeing to a new two year contract? Shysters). Hopefully, I can buy an iPhone then and just switch everything over to AT&T, or switch to some other provider. Not that I think AT&T is all that great either, but Verizon needs to step up service to keep me as a customer (they already lost my business for landline and internet). I’m sure part of this is that the regulated fees, in general, are cheaper in MA, so my monthly bill is slightly less, so they’re trying to get more money out of me in a different way. And I can’t just add a service for a few months and then cancel it — according to them, it would be part of a new contract and mean extending the current contract, which I’m not going to do.

My back is in very bad shape, mostly because I’m just taking pain block instead of dealing with the problem. But certain things need to be done within a certain time frame, and there’s no one else to do them.

I want to get some writing done today, and finish polishing the Plum lectures. Hopefully, I can post the welcome and first lessons for both workshops today or tomorrow. Since I’ll be offline on the 2nd and most of the 3rd, I want to make sure the students have everything they need to start.

I am so ready for this Mercury Retrograde to be over, I can’t even believe it. But at least I got a pair of great chairs and some other much-needed items for the house out of it!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth to see my post about the work I have ahead of me in the garden.

Got some work done in the morning, including correspondence and getting out the material for Confidential Job #1. Then, it was de-icing the driveway a bit, and going out on errands — picking up a few things at Christmas Tree shops, going to Staples, the bank, K-Mart — where I bought some metal shelving for the basement. I had some sort of points, and basically wound up getting one unit for free. As I unpack, I’m setting up shelving to store what I don’t need every day in bins, boxes, etc., so I can get at it when I need to without having to move stacks of boxes. Buying a couple of shelving units at a time won’t break my budget and will allow me to unpack slowly without boxing myself in, so to speak.

Headed to the bookstore, where I used up my gift card getting two new books on Louisa May Alcott and a book on container gardening. When I hit the Book Barn next week with Costume Imp, I’ll scoop up as many good gardening books as I can!

Off to Pet Smart to stock up on cat food and treats, and then to Home Goods, where I picked up a few containers and a set of Calvin Klein towels for Costume Imp’s visit. This way, whenever he comes up, he’s got his own set of stuff.

Did some unpacking and rearranging in the writing room — still too many unpacked boxes, but at least the armchair has its corner and its lamp.

My back is really bothering me, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.

In a big fight with Metro North and Verizon. Metro North is texting me 20-30 times per day, at all hours, with service updates. I don’t live there anymore. I’ve taken myself “off the list” on their site now a half a dozen times and it never takes. I’m emailing then and emailing them and emailing them telling me to stop, and, of course, they ignore it. After all, it took them THREE YEARS to start texting me after I requested it. Anyway, they are using up my message allotment. I shouldn’t have to pay for text messages I don’t want. There’s no way to block the number on my phone. I tried to do it on the Verizon Wireless site, and kept getting the screen telling me that, in order to block calls or messages, I have to add a special program for another $5/month. I shouldn’t have to do that. I sent them some strongly worded messages. Then, I found a site that tells you how to get around it, so I did. But I only have a 5 digit number for the message, and it won’t block without a 10 digit number. I extracted the email address and tried blocking it with that. According to the site, it’s blocked — but the messages keep coming through. Not only is the usage and money a problem, being woken up at all hours of the night is also a problem. If I turn my phone off, I don’t have it for an emergency, and when I turn it on, the mailbox is completely full of messages. And they are duplicates. It’s not like they send a message and the next one is different. They send 15-20, one minute after another, that are identical.

And Verizon, of course, has no interest in helping unless I pay them. Last time I checked, that was called “extortion.”

I hear New York is still in a terrible muddle with unplowed streets and people dying because ambulances can’t get through. Glad to be out of that mess. My drive and walk are still a bit icy, but I’m using ice melt and, as soon as it gets mushy enough to move, I’ll use my regular shovel and clear it. I went to the edge of the drive to meet the mailman yesterday so he wouldn’t risk slipping and HE was worried about ME. They’re so nice here.

According to the mail carriers, I get the most mail of anyone on this route, which I think is pretty funny.

Iris and Violet spent most of yesterday chasing each other around the house, which was pretty funny. They play tag. One chases the other, swats her bottom, then turns and runs away as the other wheels around, chases her, swats her bottom, and they reverse.

At night now, we do “bedtime snacks” (because I got tired of them waking me at 2 AM because they were hungry). I say, “Who wants a bed time snack?” and they sit down in front of me like a pair of puppies (Felicia would be horrified). And I give them some snacks, and up we go to bed. It’s pretty funny.

I think I’m going to make a run to Target today to pick up a few things. I don’t know if I’ll make it to Chatham for that lecture, but I’m not booked and promised, so if I don’t, I don’t. I might just try to get some more unpacking done, polish the lectures, and polish the post that’s due tomorrow.


PS At the bank, the cashier asked me what my New Year’s Resolution was and I said, “Have more fun.”

And I mean it! 😉

Published in: on December 29, 2010 at 8:36 am  Comments (6)  
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Iris under the covers

Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

It snowed, on and off, for most of the day yesterday. I just stayed in, popping out to shovel the bottom of the driveway so the repairman could get in and, later on, my mom popped out to shovel the end of the driveway of the neighbor who’d dug us out — and he came home from his trip 15 minutes later! Talk about timing!

I didn’t get much writing done; My back hurt a lot while sitting at the computer, and it was difficult to concentrate through that. I managed to get some work done on the workshops.

Wrote thank-you notes post-holiday, straightened out some paperwork. I’d like to know why, if I’m on a monthly plan with Comcast, I’m expected to pay the full monthly price every two weeks? Isn’t that illegal? You better believe I’ll be talking to several of the appropriate authorities about that.

And the silliness with Optimum just continues. I received a copy of their response to the BBB, and they downright LIED. As in not even getting close to what actually happened. The reason these companies get away with this crap is that people can’t be bothered to complain, and that’s what they’re counting on. So we all get screwed.

I read all 300+ pages of material for Confidential Job #1 (which was very enjoyable) and will do my write-up today.

Repairman came — turns out he used to live in the East Village, what ARE all these New Yorkers doing up here? The drain hose broke, and he has to order a new one. So I’m going into the New Year without a working washer and company coming, which doesn’t thrill me.

After over 24 hours of only getting local coverage, we could finally get news from beyond our little area (they didn’t have any of the morning shows like THE TODAY SHOW on yesterday, or WORLD NEWS TONIGHT Sunday night, it was all local coverage, and I felt very cut off from the world). New York got hammered! I kind of knew that, because Metro North texted my cell over 20 times, including ALL NIGHT LONG again (even though I’ve told them numerous times to take me off the list and they didn’t put me on the list until after I moved). I can’t block numbers on my phone, or I’d just block them. But seeing the pictures of New York — wow. Am I ever glad I’m not there and still working on shows, because you know they would have expected me to walk through a blizzard from Westchester to get to the theatre instead of calling someone who lives three blocks away.

It’s very windy here, but the house is sturdy and the car’s safely in the garage, so it’s all good. I think it’s too windy to go to the dump today, but we have to go out and get some cat food. There’s a lecture tomorrow afternoon in Chatham I want to attend — I have to find out if it’s still on. It’s by a colleague of an acquaintance of mine, and I’d like to go to be supportive.

I want to get some writing done, and do more work on the workshops, especially the Plum one — I’m rearranging and editing lectures. One Story, Many Voices is pretty much set — I want to tweak the “house style” rules a bit. There’s still room in both workshops, if you want to participate. And I’ve got a blog post for Savvy Authors to finish and get out today.

Great article in the local paper about how people are writing fewer holiday cards all over the country EXCEPT on Cape Cod, where they’re writing more. I knew this was my kind of place! 😉

I’d like to get a little more unpacking done before the party next week, but I’m limited in what I can lift right now. Sigh.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Snowy and cold

The weekend’s been an adventure, that’s for sure, and the week promises to be just as . . .interesting.

Christmas Eve was great, pretty quiet, nice big meal, opened the presents, read, played with the cats, etc. I was up late waiting for the bayberry candle to “burn to the sprocket” for the tradition of “a bayberry candle burned to the sprocket brings food to the larder and gold to the pocket” on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Well, this was a really, REALLY high quality bayberry candle (from the 1856 shop) and it used every smidge of wax, so it took about six hours to burn down, when I expected it to take one.

Santa came and went, he had a brandy (because let’s face it, you can only have so much milk and cookies), the cats got their new toys and played with them, people came back from midnight mass, and I’m waiting for the candle to burn down . . .

And then I couldn’t sleep. I finally got to sleep a little after three and had to be up by six. We did stockings and ate breakfast and were on the road by 8.

The drive to Maine was smooth, not much traffic. I was going to try a way around Boston so I wouldn’t have to drive through the Big Dig, but I misunderstood the signage and wound up driving through it anyway. It wasn’t so bad; maybe I just have to get used to it.

We made it to Maine in 3 1/2 hours, went straight to my cousin’s farmhouse. It’s a large house, from the mid-1800’s, and he’s restored it himself, keeping the original details, restoring a lot of the things he found on the property and in the barn, but also making things like the kitchen and bathrooms updated and workable, while still fitting within the spirit of the house. It was great. We had 12 or 14 adults at dinner (kids’ table in another room), very nice, lots of fun, lots of actual discussions and laughter.

Left around 2:30, were back by 6. There was more traffic going back, but it still wasn’t bad. I was just tired from all the driving and lack of sleep, so I went to bed pretty early.

Started the laundry as soon as I got up yesterday, baked biscuits, got the newspapers and some supplies from the equivalent of the corner bodega — it’s a local store less than a mile away that has a bit of everything. The weather people said the storm would start at 4 PM, so of course, it was already pretty bad by 8 AM. Stuffed the turkey, got it in the oven, kept turning over the laundry — I figured just because we’re snowed in doesn’t mean we can’t have clean underwear.

I went down to get the last load into the dryer and stepped into about an inch of water covering the basement floor.

Yup, you guessed it, for some reason, the washer threw up, nice, clean, soapy water. I shut it off, shut the valve off, and called the owner. He came over (poor thing was sick),went out to get a pump, and we pumped and then wet-vacc’d the basement. The front line of boxes served as a buffer, so I don’t think I actually lost much (and nothing terribly valuable was in the basement), but I think the old rug still down there may be a loss, unless I can unroll it to air out sooner rather than later, and we’ll see how the edge of the box spring dries out. It’s not enough to put in an insurance claim, and it’s more disruptive than damaging.

So the sheets and towels are hanging on the rack downstairs, too wet last night to go into the dryer, but I managed to get the clothes dried and put away. The floor is really clean and smells Arm-and-Hammer fresh! 😉

I wrenched my back very badly rescuing the crates of LPs (the only thing that I was really worried about down there). It’s muscular, so I’m keeping it warm and keeping it stretched. I’ll be uncomfortable for a few days, but it is what it is. A doctor would send me for a lot of expensive, unnecessary tests and then give me a pain killer. I can treat it with stretching, hot water bottles, hot baths with proper salts, salves, and some Excedrin if necessary, and that will actually not just treat the pain but the cause. I just can’t do anything very quickly.

Did I mention this is a challenging Mercury Retrograde?

I put in a call to the repair place, who swears 7-day, same day service and has an answering service. I have yet to hear back. Now, with the weather as bad as it was and the basement pumped out, I would have told them not to come out in it yesterday anyway, but I would have at least liked the courtesy of a returned phone call.

I’m reading gardening books and all kinds of other stuff, trying to figure out what to do in spring. I shovelled out the drive and the front walk around sundown last night, using my new little electric snowblower. The lousy cord works my last nerve, but the actual machine does a good job. The ice melt is also keeping the drive and the walk fairly clean (supposedly it’s pet-friendly, car-friendly, and lawn-friendly). I’ll have to go out and do a little tidying up later this morning, and shovel out where the snow plow shoved stuff from the street across my driveway — because it is JUST out of reach of the blower’s cord.

Today, I have a lot of paperwork to catch up on, and I have to take care of some other correspondence, a blog post due at Savvy Authors, work on the Stephanie Plum lectures, and deal with the assignment for Confidential Job #1. Hopefully, the power stays on and the repairman shows up — I have a busy week this week, and next week Costume Imp is here and we have the party, so everything has to be in working order.

Metro North woke me up every two hours all night with text messages telling me they weren’t in service. I could have figured that one out all by myself. When I lived in NY and was desperate for service updates via text message, I never got them. I asked to be put on the list THREE YEARS ago. You know when they started coming? The day I moved into this house. And now they won’t take me off the list.

Sums up Metro North right there. Useless.

Love, love, love the new chairs, and actually, sitting in them is the only place where my back doesn’t hurt. Considering how much unpacking I have to do this week, and now checking the boxes and seeing how much water damage there is and if anything needs to be thrown out, this was a bad time for it to happen.

But the turkey dinner was really good! 😉

Onward — want to get some writing in this morning; I’m playing with a couple of things.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Iris under the tree

Saturday, December 25, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Christmas Day

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and happy weekend to those who don’t.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth if you get a chance — I have a short post for the holiday.

I got my chairs yesterday, and am totally in love with them. I had to struggle up an unplowed road (the car was NOT amused), but we did it — twice — and made two round trips to get both chairs home.

Iris investigates one of the pair of new chairs.

The chairs look nice, they’re comfortable, and the cats are fascinated by them. Maybe they smell of the dog in the house, although the legs look like there was a cat involved at some point. No matter what, they’re fabulous, the price was completely within the budget ($50 for the pair) — a true example of Mercury Retrograde at its best.

Finished the grocery shopping. Mail came early, packages kept coming, including Fed Ex (who doesn’t feel it’s beneath him to leave the truck, unlike UPS). I feel very spoiled this year, and very unapologetic about it! 😉

I’m writing this in the afternoon of the Eve, scheduling it to post. I’ve got the pork roast in the oven. I’ll make my leek-and-potato dish to go with it, and the green beans with Hollandaise. We’ll have plum pudding for dessert. We will try lighting a fire again this evening, and hope I’ve got the flue figured out properly. We’ll know pretty quickly if I don’t. We do our big celebration on the Eve, so we’ll be drinking our good cheer and opening gifts tonight.

We plan to get up very early on the morning of the Day, peek into our stockings, give the cats their toys and treats, bake biscuits, and take a look at the weather to find out if we think we can make it to Maine and back for dinner.

I’ve got a pleasant, relaxing Boxing Day planned for Sunday, complete with a turkey and all the fixings, like potatoes, and my carrot-and-parsnip dish. We have plenty of sweet things with which to indulge, too!

I’ll check back in on Monday, power permitting. We may get another foot of snow on Sunday night. My new little snowblower and I will be very busy!

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!


Violet wishes you a Merry Christmas, too!

Published in: on December 25, 2010 at 1:44 am  Comments (7)  
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold
Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve, people!!! How did that happen?

Yeah, yeah, I know, day follows night follows day follows night and it’s here.

Yesterday was just such a cliched Mercury Retrograde day. On the positive side, I polished and finished all the exercises for the One Story, Many Voices workshop that runs in January. Even though I create the exercises for the workshops when I pitch them and test them before pitching, since each situation is different, I always wind up tweaking them.

On the negative side, I spent all damn day trying to negotiate time and directions to see those chairs. Finally, we got it set up for late afternoon. I get in the car, and fight with the garage door (first it didn’t want to open; then it didn’t want to close). I drove to the bank to get the money and the ATM was empty. I tried to drive to another ATM on the way to Rt. 6, and there were accidents on all the roads and they were closed. It was like the old East Vassalboro, Maine joke: You can’t get there from here.

I felt like the set up to a bad joke or haiku or something.

Called the seller, we rescheduled for 10 this morning, although I think she thinks I’m blowing her off.

Fingers crossed that it all works out.

Lots of mail, more stupidity from United Healthcare regarding my mother’s change of insurance, robo-signed by a moron who pays no attention to what he signs and sends my mom conflicting letters dated the same day. AARP is useless — why do they pimp this company who lobbied against decent health care reform and do business with them, when they are so blatantly unsympathetic to the seniors AARP claims to represent? This is a different dickhead than the one who initially tormented my mother on her state-to-state move, and this one will wish he didn’t have to deal with me, much the way the last one wished.

Nice, quiet night reading with music on and all the lights on, packages arriving. The UPS delivery guy honked his horn and expected me to come out and get my package. Uh, no. UPS is being paid enough to deliver TO THE DOOR. I don’t mind walking out in the afternoon to meet the mail carriers, because around here, they’re really nice and go above and beyond, but UPS is paid enough to actually fulfill the delivery, even at 8:30 at night. BTW, he THREW the package towards the door. And yes, the walkway and driveway were completely clean of snow, and not iced over. Good thing there was nothing fragile in it. I understand this is a busy time of year, but your customers are paying for SERVICE. Otherwise, we will all go back to using the post office, and you can go out of business, thank you very much!

Heard from an old friend with whom I’d lost touch. Absolutely delighted!

Anyway, in about 30 minutes, I’m off to do a chair run. Let’s hope it all works out. The pork roast is marinating. I have to pick up a few things at the store, but we’re going to have a quiet, merry Christmas Eve at home. I told the cats that we have a chimney this year, and our “stockings are hung by the chimney with care”, so Santa might leave them a little something special, too!

The big black-and-white cat sauntered past this morning, sending the Hounds of the Baskervilles into a frenzy. A car drove past the cat on the road, and the cat paused and looked at it like, “You’re in my WAY.” It looks too well-kept to be a stray, but people in the neighborhood are always saying how one can’t let the cats out because it’s too dangerous. Besides, with that ‘tude, the cat would have walked up to the back door, knocked, and said, “You’re between me and the couch. Move.” So I’m assuming Cat has a place to live.

Speaking of dangerous, now that Iris and Violet have conquered the basement, they’ve got their sights set on the garage.

In a word, No.

We all know they’ll win, eventually. They’re cats.

Have a great Christmas, if that’s what you celebrate, and a great weekend no matter what!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tree at the bottom of the drive

Thursday, December 23, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Snowy and cold

Spent far too much time yesterday morning doing annoying paperwork, but at least got a lot done and out, along with party invitations. Then, it was off to Sears to look for the electric snowblowers — which they didn’t have. The guy was very, very nice. He agreed that they’re great and said that a lot of people who bought gas blowers last year are now having problems because the ethanol content has changed in gasoline and is mucking up the engines. And I overheard a woman tell an elderly couple looking at one, “You don’t want to keep too much gas in the engine when you’re not using it, or it might cause a bad accident in the garage.”

Definitely electric.

The sales guy told us to go to Home Depot, we dashed over and got THE LAST ONE. At $100 less than I’d seen it advertised. And the clerk at Home Depot got me set up with the correct cord, and the check out guy got me set up with an extra 2-year replacement warranty for under $12, so now it’s covered for 4 years.

Happy camper, me! 😉

Ran some errands in Osterville, including dealing with a bank error (they fixed it immediately, and, in fact, gave us more than what we asked for — TD has great customer service), and I stopped at the hardware store, where I found a reasonably eco-friendly ice melt for the front walk and driveway. It’s pet, lawn, and car-safe, which is probably as good as it gets. It got the 25 pound bag, because I knew the 50 pound bag would be too hard for me to maneuver, and I designated it its own scoop cup to make it even easier to spread.

Got everything home, picked up the two invites I had to hand deliver, got them off, got back before the snow started up again. Read in the afternoon, met the mail carrier at the bottom of the drive (I’m trying to help them by not making them get out of the truck in bad weather). Some more books arrived — again, happy camper.

Quiet evening watching TV and reading. Think I figured out the fireplace kerflamma, so will try again on Christmas Eve.

The Hounds of the Baskervilles woke me up at 2 AM, just beside themselves with frustration, baying at something. And it sounds like something talked back. Then, I worried that I hadn’t locked the front door properly when I turned off the trees last night. I’m less worried about some sort of animal around the house than people — there have been a lot of burglaries in the area lately.

So, my ritual bogwood axe and I crept down the stairs in the dark. Not that it could cut anything, but it’s heavy, so it might be useful in an emergency. Iris waited half way up the stairs; Violet came with me. The moonlight on the snow reflected so much I didn’t have to turn on any lights. The door was locked properly and I couldn’t see anything amiss, so I went back upstairs.

More fresh tracks around the house this morning, though. I’m pretty sure something is taking shelter under the deck. I don’t mind — I hope it’s not a stray dog or cat, because I’d like to help it, and whatever it is, my worries are twofold — I don’t want it to starve or freeze, and I certainly don’t want it to expire under the deck! The size of the paw tracks makes me wonder if it’s a fox. I like foxes — they’re one of my totems — but I’ve never had to deal with one, so I’d probably just stare at it.

Up early this morning, plugged in the new snowblower. It took a bit of time to get coordinated with the cord, and the cord JUST barely reaches to the end of the driveway (at least I know how long my driveway is now). It works pretty well, although when the wind shifted, most of the snow blew back in my face. I’ll get better with practice. But I have a feeling I’ll go with a gas lawn mower — I don’t think the cord thing would work in the long flat back portion of the yard, and, heaven forbid they have battery-powered mowers! I mean, that would be quieter and logical, so obviously, it can’t happen!

I found a pair of arm chairs on Craigslist that I really want at an excellent, fair price for both of us, so I’m talking with the owner about when to take a look, and, hopefully, pick them up. They’re not quite Victorian wing-backs — a little shorter in the back — but that style. So, hopefully, we’ll get that sorted out today and tomorrow, before the next big storm hits.

I’m going to get some writing done today, hopefully, and tackle the assignment for Confidential Job #1 in the afternoon. I’d like to get a couple more boxes unpacked — even a few a day will make a difference.

It’s still snowing, and supposed to do so until about noon, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed I can do a chair run this afternoon.

Back to the page.


Published in: on December 23, 2010 at 9:07 am  Comments (7)  
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ice-encrusted light fixture by the front door

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Stayed in all day yesterday, except for the few times I went out to brush the snow that fell from the roof right onto the front step (would be good to have a little awning over the door, but that’s not my call). Wrote, read, enjoyed the season.

I’m thoroughly enjoying Alan Bennett’s UNTOLD STORIES. I’m a big fan of his writing anyway, and this book of diaries and essays is fascinating.

Designed, wrote, and delivered the thank you notes to the neighbors for helping me out by digging me out.

Had to redesign the party invite, because the template didn’t work with the notecards I have, but managed to do it. I had to wrestle the printer, though. I love Canon printers, and want to stay with them, but the MX860 is a piece of crap, especially the bottom tray, which is plastic painted to look like metal, and messes up special papers. I’d use the top tray exclusively for special papers, but you can’t always convince the printer to pull from it. I’ve complained to Canon about this model ever since I bought it, and get no solutions. I want my old multi-pass to get fixed and use that again, because it was a warhorse and a workhorse, and maybe just keep this for photo work, but I don’t know if I can still get the ink. I’ve got a stockpile, but still . . .

Anyway, the invitations are very pretty and will go out today.

Didn’t get much writing done, unfortunately.

Tried to light a fire in the fireplace for Yule. The smoke’s going up the chimney, so the flue’s properly open, but it’s also going in the house. Not badly enough to set off the smoke alarms, thank goodness, but enough to notice. I’m not sure if it’s my fire-building skills (probably) or what — the owner said the chimney was cleaned and inspected right before we rented. Costume Imp will have to figure it out when he gets here.

Speaking of Costume Imp, we are finalizing the plans for his week up here, and he’s already packed. We are very much alike in those types of aspects!

I looked at snowblowers online. I may get a small, electric one — yes, I know if the power goes out I’m back to using the shovel. But I need one that fits in the car and that I feel comfortable handling, and a lot of the bigger ones (besides being out of my price range) don’t seem comfortable for me to handle. I’ll have to play with a few today in the store and see what happens.

I also have to stop by my insurance agent’s to drop off the Allstate policy so she can do the official State of MA paperwork telling them to shove it, we’re covered with a better agency. I love that the state has official paperwork for that!

I contacted the Senators and my new Representative to introduce myself and voice a few opinions. Because how can they represent me if they don’t know where I stand on issues? I can’t expect them to be psychic. Anyway, within 24 hours, I heard back from everyone’s offices, very nice, offering to meet and talk to me about anything that’s on my mind, and giving actual responses to the content of my messages, so it wasn’t just robo-response. I was particularly blunt with Senator Brown’s office, saying I expected him to actually listen to his constituency, not goose-step the Republican Party line. He’s stepped out of the box a few times now to vote for things with which I agree, so it gives me some cautious optimism. I’m an independent — I’m an example of the type of voter both parties need to listen to, or they won’t keep their jobs.

MA will lose one congressperson in 2010, and NY two. I hope it’s none of mine! I was counted in NY, because that’s where I lived in April. And now I’m here, where they’re saying population has dropped (which, on levels outside of Federal funding, is just fine with me).

ALICE was rebroadcast last night, and I watched the last two hours. I enjoy that production so much, especially Andrew Lee Potts and Caterina Scorsone. Lots of really good work there. Makes me miss my actors (but not enough to go back).

The Hounds of the Baskervilles woke me up early this morning, baying at who-knows-what. Probably the moon. The full moon was gorgeous over the yard. There are also all kinds of tracks in the yard, including a set that come right up to the windows, skirt the house, and go to the back deck, but not on it. I’m not well versed enough in tracks to know what it is. It might be Imp Dog, it might be a small coyote, it might be a fisher. And there was something in the yard with hooves rather than paws, but I don’t know what. I haven’t seen any deer in the area since I arrived — they mostly stay on conservation land. Maybe a reindeer took a break on a training run! 😉

So, today is about writing, errands, and maybe getting some more unpacking done. We’re supposed to get more snow tonight, and they’re wavering as to whether the weekend’s big storm hits on Saturday or Sunday, so I don’t know if we’ll risk going to Maine. We might be better off tucked in here at home.

Back to the page. I want to play with a few ideas.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Iris stays in bed on cold winter mornings

Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Full Lunar Eclipse
Winter Solstice

Happy Solstice, Peaceful Yule!

It’s truly winter here, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, hop on over to Biblio Paradise, where Diane Parkin talks about her novel NIGHT CRAWLER. Leave a comment, so she’ll know you were there!

Then, hop over to my new gardening blog, GRATITUDE AND GROWTH, for its launch. Most of the time, I’ll post on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but I thought the Solstice on a Full Moon was a good day to start!

Okay, back now?

Yesterday was a good writing day. Finished, polished, and got off the big article on time, and my editors seem pleased with it. Prepped the two blog posts listed above. Caught up on email. Made some notes for a couple of projects — a play and a book — that have February deadlines.

It snowed all day, which was lovely. Mid-afternoon, I shovelled the walk and the driveway. It wasn’t too bad, but either I have to invest in a snowblower or hire someone if the whole winter is like this. I’m simply not strong enough if the snow gets much heavier.

It kept snowing in the night, and, when I went to turn off the outdoor trees at 10 PM, I couldn’t open the door! Not only had enough snow fallen so it blanketed the step above the doorframe, but more had blown against it. I wrestled the door open to get the trees unplugged, and went to bed.

I was awake on and off, hoping to see the lunar eclipse, but didn’t. Everything was that milky pale bright of moonlight.

This morning, the neighbors were up bright and early, with their snow blowers, and cleaned my driveway and walk for me. Isn’t that kind?

Yep, when we can get out of here tomorrow, I think it’s time for me to invest in a snow blower! It took them maybe 10 minutes to clear the drive and the walkway, so if I had a blower and did it myself, it would take maybe 20. I could hire one of the guys up the street to plow me out, but if we have a severe winter, the blower will earn its keep within a month or so.

And for some reason, the sound of the snow blower is at a different pitch and it doesn’t hurt the way leaf blowers do. (Just a reminder, the sound of a leaf blower causes the physical response in me that could trigger a heart attack, which is one of the MANY reasons I don’t own one. Why would I own a a machine that could kill me simply by turning it on?. The name of this condition is a very long word with lots of consonants).

I stuck my yardstick in a clear part of the yard, and it hit just under 13”. The weather folk keep saying yeah, the Cape got hit harder than expected (they said 2-4”), but we seem to have gotten more than the places they’re measuring.

My mom’s friend is supposed to visit today, but I don’t know if she can get here. After all, they had to close to Bourne Bridge for awhile last night, due to weather. And we’re supposed to get walloped over Christmas weekend with an even more severe storm, so I think we’re not going to make it to Maine for Christmas Day Dinner. Which is fine, I’ll just cook a turkey here (and hope the CO detector doesn’t go off).

I’ve got logs for the Yule ceremony this evening, and a chicken to roast tonight. I may call my favorite hardware store in Osterville and say, “Hey, babe, got a snowblower that fits in a volkswagen?” because why not give him a challenge, right? 🙂 I might as well be his resident eccentric.

I’m going to run the vacuum quickly through the house now (after sprinkling the carpets with lavender and peppermint) just in case my mom’s friend turns up. Then, I’ll get back to the page for awhile. I got very little done on yesterday’s To Do list (yes, I made a list for once), so I want to get a little bit more done today.

Yesterday was productive, and the quality was high, but today I need to add in some more quantity, too!

And I want to come up with something nice to do for the neighbors as a thanks!


Monday, December 20, 2010

View from the front door at 7 AM

Monday, December 20, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
It’s snowing!

Yup, we have about two inches on the ground, and it’s coming down like someone’s emptying a bin of powdered sugar over us. It’s really, really pretty, and I don’t think it will be all that heavy to shovel. I don’t have to go out today, as far as I know, so I can stay tucked in, warm and writing, and watch it come down from the window, which is lovely.

Saturday was busy. Stopped by the garage in Osterville and asked about the plates and inspection. They did it right then and there, we were in and out with new plates, new stickers, all legal, in about 20 minutes. Love that! The RMV got the electronic filing that all is good and we are appropriately stickered, so we’re all set.

We took the remaining 21 bags of leaves to the dump, along with all the recycling. So now, there’s room in the garage.

Ran some errands, looking for a few things, most of which I didn’t find. Unpacked a stack of kitchen boxes from the garage. Slowly, but surely, I’m finding stuff, and what we don’t need for daily use is going in those padded dishware bags and onto shelves in the basement. Sent about three loads of dishes and glassware through the dishwasher, and they are lovely and sparkling. All good.

Stopped at the lake up the road — I think it’s very pretty.

I’m catching up on movies, since I have HBO free for a few months. Might keep it, if it’s cheap enough. Caught up on ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Depp is brillIant) and SHERLOCK HOLMES (disappointing, too much of the director doing extreme close-ups of Downey, instead of just letting him do his thing, which he does very well), and the end of Harry Potter #6. I have the DVD, and tried watching it a few times, but never got past the first 45 minutes. I saw the last 45 minutes on HBO. Now I just have to catch the middle at some point.

Indulged myself with a Boston Cream Cake, which is basically an oversized Boston Cream donut that serves six.

Slept in on Sunday, read the papers, ran some errands, did some more unpacking. Visited Fancy’s Market in Osterville, which has some of the Balsen treats I loved in childhood and haven’t been able to find (mostly because they changed the name to something that has nothing to do with its actual content). Also picked up the plum pudding for the Eve meal, and a version of stollen, which wasn’t really up to par. Too dry, and not really the preferred batter. It was more like a rather dry, sweet bread than a stollen. We are very fussy about stollen (something my mother grew up with, and, therefore, I grew up with). At some point in the winter, I’m going to try the recipe I have for Dresden stollen, and, if that passes muster, I may just start making it myself. Everything else from the market is exquisite, and they have lots of things one can’t get anywhere else.

We checked out some of the antique stores in Buzzards Bay, looking for the pieces we will need, but nothing spoke to us. Things looked old and tired, and I thought, overpriced. I don’t mind stripping and staining or repainting something that needs a little TLC, but if you’re going to charge me a lot just because it’s old, it better be in damned good condition, and these pieces weren’t.

Not much on TV last night, so we sat around with the tree on, the candles lit, and music on, reading. A lovely way to spend a snowy Sunday night.

This morning, I have to finish the article and get it out, get some other paperwork done, talk to a couple of my editors about this and that, work on another article, work on the workshops, post the piece for tomorrow’s BIBLIO PARADISE, get started on the next job for Confidential Job #1, and get some more unpacking done. I got up at the time I like, so I could do yoga and meditation without feeling hurried, and it was a good start to the day.

Tomorrow is the Solstice — I’m all excited — we’ll be using the fireplace in the ceremony.


Published in: on December 20, 2010 at 7:39 am  Comments (7)  
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Imp Dog tootled down the street yesterday as I worked. I went outside to try to call him to me, for fear he’d get hit by a car, but he just shot through the yard to wherever it is he comes from. I’m really worried about him being out on his own, even though he’s a little dickens.

Wrote in the morning and then ran some errands — last of the packages and cards out, bank business handled, checked out the natural foods store near the yoga center. It’s excellent Picked up a few things.

Went to Country Garden in Hyannis, which is just an enchanted place. Lovely, lovely, lovely, and everyone is very nice. Even though one of our Christmas cacti has started to bloom, the ones they have were so pretty, we bought a small one,filled with blossoms. It’s in the window of my office now, ready to go. We also picked up some lovely ornaments for the big tree. They’ve got some gazing balls and garden statuary there, and the prices are better than some of the other places around, so I will go back in spring. I want a gazing ball, a Buddha, and a gargoyle for the back, at least to start, and I’m not yet sure what for the front. The twin oaks in front need some ornamentation.

Had lunch, read the papers. In the afternoon, we had an appointment with a local insurance person (not sure if her designation is “broker” or “agent” — Lori would know). Anyway, within an hour, we had the car insurance and the renters’ insurance sorted out. We took the paperwork to the RMV, and walked out, ten minutes later, with our new registration and new plates. Now, I’ve got to go to the place I picked out for the inspection and plate swap and get that done in the next couple of days, and I am legal in the state of MA. Bite me, Allstate. She agreed it was vital to file with the Commissioner of Insurance here in MA and the Attorney General in NY, because almost everything every person I spoke with at Allstate during this debacle is both incorrect and illegal. Since MA is very strict about what companies can and can’t get away with, they’ve got to know to make sure it doesn’t happen again. She said the three big companies who were recently granted rights to operate in the state have done nothing but ignore the law and get their customers into trouble, so it’s important to keep filing. Our new car insurance is with a company based in NH who covers New England and has a great reputation. I’m still not sure, exactly, about where the renters’ insurance is based.

The registration document stays in the car, and we don’t need an insurance card in the car, because all cars are required to have insurance (the health care law in MA was based on the auto insurance law). In NY, one had to keep the insurance card in the glove compartment, but the actual driver had to carry the registration card on his person. For instance, if I was travelling with my friend Joe, and we switched off driving in the state of NY because I was tired or whatever, I’d have to hand him the registration card. If we got stopped, he couldn’t turn to me and ask for it without getting a fine or a warning (if the cop was in a generous mood). In MA, the registration is kept in the glove compartment, because you can’t get a registration without insurance. So one doesn’t have to carry it on one’s person.

Anyway, enough about all that. I feel like a huge burden’s been lifted. Now, I just have to tell Allstate where to stick the phantom policy they were supposed to Fed Ex me ten days ago and never did and get my money back (which I am sure will be another fight).

On today’s agenda — stopping by the garage to make the appointment for inspection/plate change, at least three trips to the dump to get rid of the rest of the leaves and the recycling that’s built up, unpack some more kitchen boxes, vaccuum everything (a friend of my mom’s said she’d be in town today, but hasn’t given us an ETA, and we can’t sit around and wait all day).

I want to finish the article and let it sit for a few hours, then go over it one last time tomorrow before sending it off. I also want to get going on the mystery due in February.

And unpacking some more boxes in my office and bedroom would be nice, too. Never ends, does it?


Published in: on December 18, 2010 at 8:32 am  Comments (4)  
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

We had a few snow flurries yesterday. Nothing major, but it was very pretty, and it happened in full sunshine.

I’ve discovered that it is always sunny over Sandwich. Doesn’t matter what’s going on anywhere else, I drive to Sandwich, and the sun is out. Kind of cool.

Got some writing done (but not enough), did some more work on the workshops, ran some errands (which took far longer than expected). One was a wild goose chase looking for some small tables and lamps. Y’know, shopping for small/antique items is supposed to be great during Mercury Retrograde,and, usually it is, but not this time around.

So I guess the “go shopping” part of my Mercury Retrograde mantra (stay low, stay quiet, go shopping) doesn’t really work this time around.

Got out a bunch more packages and what I thought were the last of the cards (until I got some cards from people I haven’t heard from in a long time and had to write back). I have two more packages to get out today, and then I am done! A week later than I’d hoped, but it’s done and I’m not scrambling.

One of the things I like about the holiday card tradition is that, with some people, it’s the one time of year we actually all sit down and catch up. I love to hear what people have been up to!

Got my next assignment for Confidential Job #1, due just before the end of the year. It looks really interesting, and I plan to dig into it over the weekend.

Decided that, while I’ll probably let an anthology call due Jan. 1 go, because I’m just not feeling it (and I can let it go because there’s no signed contract), I am inspired to answer a contest call due at the end of February. The opening is coming clear, the characters are introducing themselves to me. I made a few pages of notes this morning, sorting out what’s been whirling in my head, and we’ll see how it goes. I also need to get back to THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and POWER OF WORDS is pulling at me again. When I last left them, they were filming the pilot of the show on .. .Cape Cod!

Hopefully, I can get the insurance stuff finally sorted today, and tomorrow I’ll get in some supplies — they’re saying Sunday’s snow storm might last until Wednesday. We might not get up to Maine for Christmas Day after all, so I’m going to have Plan A and Plan B ready, and whichever way the weather goes, we’re ready.

I’ve also got to find time to get the old mantel clock and the 400 Days clock to a local clockmaker and get them fixed. I have several clocks that need fixing, but those are the most important. I’m a clock person, and we haven’t unpacked our clocks. I don’t like relying on the cell phone to tell me what time it is. I want CLOCKS up in the various rooms.

I was working on an assignment for a client the other day and realized, “I don’t want to do this.” Of course, I did it — it was contracted, there’s nothing wrong with the client, perfectly nice, pays on time, etc. I simply don’t want to focus on that element of the business. So I have to re-think things a bit, how I can gracefully withdraw from that type of writing and replace it with paid work that I WANT to do.

Not only do we have a full moon on the Solstice (Tuesday) but there’s a full lunar eclipse at 3:17 in the morning. I love how the local weather folk here get so excited by things like eclipses.

Eek, it’s after 9 AM, I better get going, or I’ll be behind all day. Again.


Published in: on December 17, 2010 at 9:15 am  Comments (4)  
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