Tues. June 21, 2022: Creativity in Multiple Directions

image courtesy of Chris Martin via pixabay.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)

Cloudy and pleasant

Friday turned out to be an up and down workday. I spent some time working the class I’m teaching in August, preparing both the Topic Workbook for it and the PowerPoint. Some of my examples have not aged well over the past couple of years, so I’m switching them out.

I hopped onto Pages on Stages to do some updates, and it was an absolute mess. The posts page had somehow detached from News & Updates. Most of the time, I got the white screen of death when I tried to get on or switch pages.

I was lucky to land some excellent techs at A2Hosting, and together, we spent a couple of hours sorting it out. I am very grateful, and told them directly, and on social media. Hey, if I’m going to moan on social media when a company is awful, I have the obligation to praise when a company comes through.

I need to put up a media room page on that site eventually, with links to productions.

I did a library run to drop off/pick up books. It started raining when I left (on foot). I almost turned back, but it stopped within two minutes, so I continued.

Turned around a script in the afternoon. My Llewellyn contract came through, so I’m good to go on that article after 4th of July weekend.

I’m playing with a very dark idea for an anthology call edited by a friend. I don’t know if I can pull it off within word count by deadline, but I will try.

Reading an article in THE NEW YORKER about a new production of HAMLET spawned an idea for a new project that mashes up two genres that seem weird, but just might work. I have to finish what I’m working on first, though, before I hie off on anything else. I made some notes, to capture characters and energy, and now that project has to wait its turn.

Tessa started howling at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday. I moved to the sewing room, but she was not mollified. We no longer leave her food down at night for her 2 AM snack, because the others are eating it, and Willa is putting on too much weight. However, Madame Tessa Is Not Amused. She wants her 2 AM snack.

Got the proof done on “Personal Revolution”, fixed a couple of formatting things, and it is out. The re-release happens June 28. Once I get links and stuff, there will be a push for it.

Now, I have to decide what’s the next Digital Delight to come off Smashwords and switch over to D2D. Probably “Severance.” I want a new cover for that, too. Or maybe I’ll take down “Plot Bunnies” and put it up with the next Twinkle Tavern piece that hasn’t yet released, “Labor Intensive.”

Headed to the Farmers’ Market. I didn’t need much, but made the rounds to chat with the vendors; ran into people I knew from other spaces, such as the library, and we were chatting as to how it’s often hard to place people out of context. You know that you know them from somewhere. . .

Quick grocery shop from the store. Didn’t need much. Home, put it all away, lugged 66 pounds of cat litter up the stairs (Chewy delivery).

Then, I spent the rest of the day trying to put together the kitchen island cart I ordered. I wasn’t even close to finishing after 6 hours (it’s supposed to take 2 people 70 minutes). The directions were incomplete, so I had to hunt for another set online. The drawings aren’t detailed enough with some of the pieces, so then I had to find various videos of similar pieces to figure out the details, so I wouldn’t put something on incorrectly and have to take it apart again.  And the design is so poor that, by following the directions, I had no room to maneuver the tools needed to tighten the next thing in the directions. Very frustrating.

If I ever get it put together, I think it will be a decent piece, though.

Used bounty from the Farmers’ Market to make a pasta primavera in Alfredo sauce (and used our own basil for it).

Started reading a biography of Balzac, before I go and re-read some of the novels.

By evening, every damn thing hurt and I went to bed ridiculously early. I slept well, dreaming of various gardens, which was rather nice.

Worked on an ad and other promotional materials for the re-release of “Personal Revolution” on Sunday. Started getting the pre-order buy links. I’m adding them onto the various websites as I get them. The release is holding to June 28.

Played with some other graphic tools to try to get comfortable. Since I can’t seem to do all of what I need with any single tool, I’m learning how to mix and match bits of what I want to do in different programs to get to the whole. It’s actually less irritating that trying to figure out a single program.

Made a logo for the project inspired by the article yesterday. If THAT’s not putting the cart before the horse and all, right? But it gave me an excuse to play with learning something new.

Worked on the newsletter. If you haven’t yet signed up for it, you can do so here. It will go out later this week. And, hint – in the newsletter, I reveal what The Big Project is really all about! So if you’re interested in finding out what I’ve been yapping about for months, calling it “the Big Project” you will find out before the hoi-polloi.

I created a bunch of ads for the Big Project, too, and they are really cool. I’m having way too much fun creating these ads. I’m trying to capture the voice of the piece in the ads.

One of the best things I started doing is opening a new document for the upcoming newsletter and adding information on projects over the course of the quarter. That way, I don’t have to scramble to remember what I did, and what I want to talk about.

Made more vegetable stock. Because buying all these vegetables from the market means I have lots of bits and bobs left over for stock. Not at a zero waste kitchen yet, but working on it.

Most of the day was spent on working on things around The Big Project, which will save me time and effort once it launches in July. It was a lot of fun.

I couldn’t face the kitchen island cart on Sunday. I needed the time away.

Slept well Sunday into Monday. Got caught up on some blogging, and blogged ahead. There’s a post on healing over on the GDR site, if you’re interested.

Planted some of the borage seeds and more cat grass. Got through nearly 400 emails. Sent out two LOIs. Worked on an anthology story.

The Authors Guild is doing a Words, Ideas, and Thinkers Festival this September over in Lenox, which is close by. Well, okay, about an hour, but just about everything is at least an hour away. They sent me an invite to attend, and I accepted. It’s in the calendar. I mean, if the COVID numbers are way up again at that point, I’ll cancel, but I know the venue, and they have good protocols in place. I’m hoping it will be safe to attend. I’m sure I’ll be masked, no matter what.

Since I didn’t have any scripts in my queue, I spent the afternoon on the porch, reading the next book for review. This morning, I will send off the review, and hopefully get assigned the next book before my editor goes on vacation.

Made a sausage pasta for dinner, and it was yummy. We have plenty of leftovers for the week (most of them pasta).

The B plotline has switched with the A plotline in the anthology story. It makes it a quieter story, and I hope the editor doesn’t feel it no longer fits the tone of the overall anthology. We’ll see. It’s for a created world, so it’s not like I could use it anywhere else if it’s rejected, not without major, major re-envisioning. But trying to force it the other way wasn’t working. All I can do is send in the best piece I can to this point, and then get notes on it, and apply them.

The other anthology story I need to get out by the end of the month is percolating in the back of my brain. I’ll be making the bed or chopping onions, sorting through plot possibilities: If I do A, with D work, or should I go with E? That type of thing. Hopefully, once the shared world story is out, I will have figured out enough of the other piece to just sit down and draft.

Slept well last night, although I woke up about every two hours (similar to what I was doing last year at this time). By 3 AM, Charlotte and Tessa were fussing. They woke me from a dream where I was temping at a company. I’d brought in blueberry muffins. Their kitchen/breakroom was stacked high with empty/used takeout containers and dirty dishes. They told me to clean the kitchen. I told them I was there to type, not be the maid. They laughed and said they couldn’t get any of the wives to come in and clean. I told them maybe they should stop being sexist and  learn to clean up after their own damn selves.

That definitely happened to me more than once in my temping years, but I didn’t recognize this company or these people. Something about the dream made me think it took place in Chicago, and I never temped in Chicago. New York, Westchester, San Francisco, Seattle, yeah. Chicago, no.

I moved to the couch. Charlotte settled on top of me, Tessa rummaged. I dozed off and dreamed about more boxes (echoes of the move, no doubt). Willa woke me around 5:30, telling me she was Very Hungry, so I got up and fed them.

Plenty to do today, even without scripts in the queue, although I hope some more show up, so I can make my goal this pay period.

Last year today was the day the movers were supposed to show up and did not. I am glad we are where we are (and that it isn’t as hot as it was at this point last year, either).

I have every intention of enjoying the Summer Solstice, even though it’s supposed to rain.

Have a good one.

Fri. June 17, 2022: Project Juggling

image courtesy of Theodore Moise via pixabay.com

Friday, June 17, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy, foggy, humid

Meditation was fine yesterday, and Charlotte really enjoyed it, too. Managed to get through some email after breakfast, get out an LOI, and get some other admin work done. Wrote and submitted my book review; got another assignment. Freelance Chat was fun.

“Personal Revolution” is in pretty good shape. There are a couple of formatting things I need to tweak, and then a final proof, and it should be ready to go by the end of the day (or, latest, tomorrow), and release on time on June 28.

Time to turn some attention to the Topic Workbooks, and to the PowerPoint presentation for my class in August.  I’ve also roughed the outline for the Llewellyn almanac article in my head, and I should be able to start writing it just after Independence day. So at least all that is on track.

I need to do a big push to finish and polish the Monthology story this weekend, so I can get it out next week.

There are some red flags coming up on a project; I will fulfill my commitment to it, and then not take on any more.

Since I’m on a bunch of mailing lists around here, so I can keep up with what’s going on and where I want to participate, I’m also starting to get invitations to gala events. The liberation I feel from realizing I never HAVE to attend another one of those again is delightful.

I need to update the Pages on Stages website with the latest information on the radio plays. I hope to get ahead on some blog pieces.

I turned around two scripts yesterday and have one to do today, and then I’m done for the weekend. Hopefully, enough come through next week and the following week, so I can make my earnings goal for the end of June.

Still struggling with the sense memory stress from last year’s move. Lots of emotional flashbacks as to where I was at this point last year. The Pluto/Saturn retrogrades add even more weight to those emotions. I’m acknowledging, releasing, and trying to focus on the reality of where I am now.

There’s some cool stuff going on at MassMOCA this weekend. However, doing the risk assessment, it looks like too many people in too small a space for me to feel comfortable, and too high a risk for me to take right now. I will, regretfully, pass. I already have the Farmers’ Market and grocery shopping on Saturday. They’re fairly low risk, but any interactions around people involve risk.

Today is supposed to be the hottest day for a stretch, but it’s still much cooler than it was last year at this time, and for that I am grateful. I have to do a library run to drop off/pick up books. I didn’t get the borage planted yesterday, so now I have to wait until Sunday, the next planting day. For those wondering what I mean by “planting day”, I have a calendar marking which days are planting days and which days are harvesting days on any given week.

The January 6 hearings were not all that surprising, while still emphasizing just how corrupt and awful that sociopath’s entire administration was and is. The fact that the wife of a Supreme Court Justice is part of it is unacceptable. Even more so that she is getting extra security, paid by my tax dollars. She could afford to finance the coup attempt. Let her pay for her own damn security. Better yet, put her in prison, where she should be.

Keep an eye on the people both-siding through all of this, or telling us we should make more efforts to “understand” and “communicate” with Republicans. I understand them just fine. They want to destroy anyone who doesn’t agree with them. And I also understand that the both siders are those who will stand by and let atrocities happen and then be surprised when it happens to them. Gotta watch your back around both siders even more than the blatantly extremist.

Today is Starhawk’s birthday! I am deeply grateful for all I’ve learned from her over the decades, and for her commitment to education and community building.

Better get going. Lots to get done today, and I also plan on plenty of enjoyment throughout the weekend.

Have a good one, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Wed. June 16, 2022: Work Day

image courtesy of StockSnap via pixabay.com

Wednesday, June 16, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

Yesterday was a reasonably quiet day, especially as to where we were last year at this time. It wasn’t without its disappointments. A grant opportunity landed on my desk, and looked promising. But it’s one of those where they didn’t let the applicant read through the entire application nor did they list all the requirements. So after spending too much time filling out the application, I hit a requirement that was not mentioned in the guidelines that required unpaid labor to create something they would keep for their archives, whether they gave me the grant or not.

No. Just no. That’s exploiting grant applicants.

There’s a post on Creativity is a Business over on Ink-Dipped Advice. The profits that the arts have made, even in the year after the shutdowns, is astonishing. And too damn small a portion goes to the actual artists.

There’s also a post on Gratitude and Growth that goes into more detail about Tuesday’s visit to Berkshire Botanical Garden, and about the other garden stuff happening here.

Had to make another bank deposit, mailed my quarterly taxes (ouch), and attempted, yet again, to check out the new coffee place that opened a couple of blocks away. They were still closed a half hour after their posted opening times. This is the second time this has happened. Just proves that you can’t trust a “business” that only has a Facebook page and not an actual, professional website.

Got some writing done, wasn’t happy about any of it. Handled a bunch of email. I’m still at nearly 500 emails in the inbox, which will have to be addressed today. Turned around a script coverage. The pay period ended yesterday, and I nearly made my goal. Let’s hope I can hit it in the second half of the month.

The guy coordinating the World’s Largest Poem sent me information on a playwrighting workshop offered by a playwright from this year’s Williamstown Theatre  Festival. I took a look, and signed up. I’m feeling a little stuck in the stage play aspect of my career right now, as far as writing, and it would be good to shake that up a little. There are COVID protocols, and it’s at the Berkshire Atheneum down in Pittsfield, a space in which I feel comfortable and know that they have protocols in place, too, so it is a calculated risk that tips in my favor, rather than the virus’s favor.

Spent some time on BookBub. I’m adding authors to follow and recommending books I like. I think I will have to work my way author-by-author, because it takes time. I need to do it slowly.

But that’s how one builds sustainable accounts anyway, slowly and organically.

Had a bad night. First the fire alarm went off, for no discernible reason. I got it quiet, checked everything and double checked it, just to make sure. Had trouble going back to sleep, and then woke up every hour. Charlotte had her paws full, trying to look after me (and she is exhausted this morning). At four, I gave up, and moved to the sewing room, so Tessa could keep an eye on me. Charlotte joined me. Tessa forgot I was in the sewing room, and went back to my bedroom to wake me up, astonished I wasn’t there.

I gave up and fed them a little before 5.

After my first writing session in longhand, I was excited to hit my desk and do my second writing session on the computer. Only Windows11 decided to do one of its long updates, and then I had to “set up” the computer as though I’d never used it before, even though I set it up exactly the way I wanted it when I bought it two years ago. It was a ridiculous waste of time. On top of that, it’s trying to force me to synch with my phone. No. I don’t run my life from my phone, I resent the fact that I’m forced to HAVE a phone, and I don’t want my devices synched to the phone. No.

Not the start for which I’d hoped this morning. But still better than last year at this point, when we were in moving hell, and doing our second round trip to drop off stuff here.

But I have meditation group coming up, and then it’s back to the page. There’s plenty to do, and I need to get it done: working on The Big Project, finishing the anthology story, proofreading “Personal Revolution” so the re-release can happen on time, working on the Topic Workbooks, writing and submitting the book review so I can get my next assignment, turning around a couple of scripts.

Better get going then, huh?

Have a good one, friends.

Tues. June 14, 2022: An Enjoyable Weekend

image courtesy of Rustu Bozkus via pixabayc.om

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Full Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Sunny and warm

Busy weekend, but a good one. Headed down to Pittsfield for a quick jaunt to pick up a few things I couldn’t source elsewhere. Turned around a script coverage. Got showered, dressed, and put on makeup to go to the art opening. It was close enough to walk, and the weather was good enough, so I did, even risking walking in cute shoes. I mean, I couldn’t wear sneakers with the dress. I could, but I didn’t want to.

The opening was artist Conrad Egyir’s solo show, after a year of teaching as an artist-in-residence here at the college. The work is wonderful. The way he captures eyes is compelling. There’s so much life in them. He’s also a really nice guy. We had a good conversation. The exhibit runs until September 1, so I can bring visitors to it.

One of the things Egyir mentioned echoed what the artists in the Open Studios at MassMOCA said: that being here gave them a sense of freedom and liberation to experiment and try new work. They didn’t feel the commercial pressure and expectations they felt at home. People are busy doing and creating here. Instead of putting newcomers through tests to join various inner circles, they open up, include, and encourage, and that’s a nice atmosphere to be around.

Attending these events makes me think more about my own work. How can I take more chances? How can I mix disciplines to tell stronger stories?

Came home, got into comfy clothes, and made dinner, then worked on the next review assignment.

Signed up for a yoga class – again, in walking distance (although I will drive). It’s one of the few studios in the area with strict COVID protocols. I’ll take the class, see if I like the teaching style and feel comfortable at an indoor class, and go from there. It will be my first in-person class in nearly three years. It’s at the end of the month, a special new moon yin class.

Going to the art opening tonight and going to class in a couple of weeks are both calculated risks. If I’m wrong, I’ll pay the price.

Actually slept well on Friday night, although the cats got me up early. I was at the Farmers’ Market just after they opened, and so excited to gather the week’s bounty (and talk to the farmers and other shoppers). Farmers’ Market is as much as social experience as a shopping experience.

After the Farmers’ Market foray, I went to the grocery store and built the week’s meals around what I bought at the market.

When I came home and put things away, I had to make another batch of vegetable stock, because my “odds & ends” bag in the fridge was full. I’ll need to rearrange the freezer as I freeze lots of stock, so that we have it in the winter. I used a lot of cilantro stems in this batch, so the whole house smelled like cilantro (which is a smell I enjoy).

The Goddess Provisions box arrived and it’s wonderful, built around the sun, and summer solstice.  Ellen Byron’s book, BAYOU BOOK THIEF, the first in her new series, arrived. After lunch, and answering some follow-up questions on a script coverage, I started reading it, and finished it on Sunday. It inspired me to see if The Pump Room in Chicago ever put out a cookbook or cocktail book in its heyday. I have one of their drinks carts and some glassware, which an extended family member who worked there gave my parents when the restaurant underwent one of its renovations. I’d like to see what they cooked. One of the later chefs, when it was part of the Ambassador Hotel, has out a cookbook, but I want something from the early days.

It was supposed to rain on Saturday all day, but it didn’t, so people went out and enjoyed the day. In the evening, people had their drinks out on their porches and balconies and called out conversation from safe social distances. It was fun.

A Twitter pal was talking about how there should be magicians at funerals, and now I must write a short story “The Funeral Magician.”

Up early on Sunday, thanks to the cats.

Discussed airlines and airports between LA & NY with Dianne Dotson, in preparation for her upcoming trip. Liana Brooks and her family fly out of Seattle Sunday, to live in Korea for two years.

There’s a lot of transition in the city where I live now, especially among artists coming and going in various residencies. I always lived that way in theatre, too. And it makes me realize how stuck I’d gotten on Cape, not actively pursuing more residencies and opportunities, even before the pandemic made it unsafe to travel. Sometimes it was financial; but other times, it was almost as though I felt I didn’t have the right to it, because I have everything set up the way I want/need it in my home office. There’s got to be a middle ground between living in transient situations and getting overly stuck. I want to be grounded and put down roots and feel like the place I live is my wonderful home. But I also don’t want to feel like I “shouldn’t” go for residencies and other short-term opportunities.

Granted, they’d have to be short, since I am the breadwinner and the caretaker of an elderly parent. But I still should do some of them.  I have a few ideas, for the next couple of years.

I’m not yet comfortable attending conferences in person. Too many people. Too few COVID protocols. But residencies with small groups and protocols in place should be do-able. I’m not yet ready to fly again, with the airlines being irresponsible dickheads turning planes into spreader events, but maybe something in driving distance now and again, until I feel comfortable enough to try, would be a good thing.

There were plenty of things I “should” have done, but I chose rest instead. I did, however, wash the inside of the large kitchen window, and re-set the fun little items along the sill that I took down when we decorated for the winter holidays. The outside of the window needs a good scrub, too, but it was supposed to rain, so I decided to wait.

I read THE SACRED BRIDGE by Anne Hillerman, which was good (although I figured out the murderer the first time the character appeared on the page).

Had a restful afternoon/evening using various products from the Ipsy and Goddess Provisions boxes. Made scallop-and-vegetable pasta for dinner.

Every once in a while, I get sense memory stress from this time last year (the next two weeks could be particularly rough). As I mentioned yesterday, I use meditation techniques to bring myself back into the actual moment, and remind myself I’m not going through that right NOW. That was the past. NOW is different, better, and what’s important.

The TONY Awards were on Sunday night. I was delighted that Matt Doyle won for his work in COMPANY. I worked with him on SPRING AWAKENING, and enjoyed it. Patti LuPone won for her work in COMPANY as well (of course she did, she’s Patti LuPone). I was happy to see Shoshana Bean nominated for MR. SATURDAY NIGHT (we worked together on WICKED). The tribute Bernadette Peters did for Stephen Sondheim was lovely. I’m lucky to have worked with both of them.

Slept well on Sunday into Monday, which was nice. Tessa had a fit because it was nearly 5:45 by the time I got up to feed them.

Got some writing done, caught up on email. Went to re-order checks, and discovered when the account was set up at the bank, they’d mis-spelled the address, even though they copied it from the lease. So I went to change it, and, as usual, it was Big Drama. I am so sick of being treated like a criminal instead of a customer every time there’s something to be addressed. The thought of moving banks again is overwhelming, or I’d do it as soon as my “year” is up in August (here, you can’t switch banks until you’ve been with a bank for a year). NONE of this is about security, as they claim. It’s all about control. None of the systems are to actually serve the customers.

Because it was a beautiful day, I walked to the library to drop off/pick up books, mailed some bills at the Post Office, and stopped at the bank to make a deposit and leave the letter with all the details in writing for the manager. Of course, there was still Big Drama all afternoon, and I am sick of it.

We had squirrel hilarity at lunch (which I will write about in the garden blog on Thursday), and then I took Willa out after lunch in her playpen. Charlotte ran away when I tried to put her in her playpen, so I only took Willa out, and then Charlotte pouted. Her own fault. Tessa would rather be on the front porch, on one of the Adirondack chairs, and not limited by a playpen.

Started reading a book which I sort of like, sort of don’t. It’s set in Cornwall, which I like. The plot reminds me an awful lot of the first season of BROADCHURCH. And the author uses third person omniscient. Not as badly as many authors do, but not all that well, either.

Got the Mystic Mondays booklet of New Moon and Full Moon Spreads – I will use one tonight, for the full moon. Ordered a couple of things online, including putting in a new Chewy order. They’d never contacted me, as I requested, when the cats’ preferred food came in stock. It is now $4/bag more expensive than it was. So we’re sticking to the less expensive food, which they are eating just fine, which is $8/bag less than the original food.

Started a script coverage, but kept getting distracted. I have plenty of time until it’s due, and I grabbed some more for this week, so all is good. Sent off a couple of radio plays to a producer with whom I’ve worked before. They’re darker than he usually uses, so they might not work for the company, but I want to keep everything out there, earning its keep!

The kitchen island I ordered arrived, ready to assemble. I’m sure it will take the rest of the week, but, once it’s done, it will be great. The box was 70 pounds, but I managed to get it up the stairs.

Enjoying the long evenings, where we can sit on the porch or the balcony, reading or just being. Next week is the Summer Solstice, and then the days start getting shorter. So I will enjoy as much as possible. That is one of my goals this summer – to actually enjoy it.

Busy day today, so better get to it. Hope you are well, happy, and having a good one.

Fri. June 10, 2022: At The Desk

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

Friday, June 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy/sunny and pleasant

Boy, did it rain yesterday! We needed it, and hey, no more pollen on the car. But there were intense bands of it.

Meditation was good, and Charlotte was right there with me. Got some admin work done. Did a library run to drop off/pick up books. The librarians are stressed by the unmasked patrons. They’re all still masking.

Unpacked and washed the second box of teapots. It feels good to have some of them back, and I’m eager to bring the others back up in autumn.

Freelance Chat was good. Lively conversations, with lots of resource-sharing. I feel very lucky to be a part of the group.

I also enjoy CounterSocial a lot. I’m finding so much kindness and in-depth conversation over there.

I started on a script coverage, then put it aside to negotiate a radio script contract. We came to an agreement, I signed, I did requested revisions on “The Collector” and I was paid before I’d even sent off the revision. That’s the way I like to work! It’s not a ton of money, but it was handled with professionalism and integrity, and I’ll choose that every time. This producer has the first look/licensing option on the next three radio plays (and then I have to finish the dirigible radio play for the other producer).

So this writer has to get busy at the page! Monthology draft first, though.

Started reading the next book for review. I read the first book in this series, and this one is the second. Zero character growth, which is a shame. There was a lot of potential here.

Ellen Byron’s book didn’t get delivered today; now it’s been promised for tomorrow. As long as I have it for the weekend. That’s my treat for finishing my work.

The public hearings about January 6th are powerful. What happened that day is horrifying. Every single insurrectionist needs to be in prison. Those who are elected officials need to go to prison for life, or be exiled from this US and ever allowed to return (or profit).

This is what happens when you allow yahoos to romanticize the Confederate flag for decades, and allow white supremacy to flourish.

 My short story “The Ramsey Chase” has an alternate history future for the US, where the Confederate States seceded again and the US is a series of smaller countries. That doesn’t look far off the horizon right now, even though it was written back more years than I like to think about.

Slept reasonably well, for the first time in a long time.

On today’s agenda: writing, script coverage, a quick trip to Pittsfield for a couple of things. I hope to finish everything by a reasonable hour, so that I can enjoy the start of my weekend.

I will have a journal prompt over on my Ello page later this morning.

I plan to write through the weekend – the Monthology story, work on the Big Project, work on the radio plays – but I also plan to enjoy myself. And, you know, Farmers’ Market tomorrow, which is my big social event of the week!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wed. June 8, 2022: Sometimes Saturn (Retrograde) is Positive

image courtesy of Michael Heck via pixabay.com

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto & Mercury Retrograde

Rainy and cool

I dreaded yesterday for weeks, particularly since I’ve been suffering from sense memory stress from the move last year at this time. But we needed to make a run to the Cape, and yesterday was the right day to do it.

We were up at 4:30 and out of the house by 5:30. The cats Were Not Amused.

The drive went smoothly until we hit a pocket of traffic at Westboro. Once we got on 495 South, the traffic grew steadily heavier, but it was moving. It wasn’t even too much trouble to get over the Bourne Bridge.

We hit some stores where we hoped to find stuff we haven’t yet sourced up here. Weren’t very successful, although I grabbed a couple of jars of beach plum jam (which I love and one can’t get here, because, you know beach plums need the beach). I grabbed a few other things, too, because they were there and at a good price, including a small, tiled plant stand. Also found the perfect fabric in cotton canvas to recover the kitchen chairs, in a cheerful, vintage-y print. The store had VICTORIA magazine in stock, which I haven’t been able to find in print here, so that was a bonus.

We drove past the old house and it looks. . .the same? Sheer pink curtains, the lilac tree is still there, the lawn isn’t mowed and fake greened the way the other lawns on the street are. Hopefully, Che Guevara Chipmunk has been able to re-establish his home there. And I hope the people who bought it are happy there.

Tried to drive past the beach, but they were having an event and the roads were blocked off. So we headed to the storage unit, about an hour and a half later than I’d hoped. The unit was kind of overwhelming. We didn’t find everything we hoped to dig out, but I didn’t want to overstuff the car, either. We got what we could, and headed out, again, over the Bourne Bridge, into the heavy traffic.

But we made it past Worcester just before 2:30 (if you don’t get past Worcester by 2:30, in either direction, you get caught up in the Boston spillover traffic). A little beyond Worcester, we stopped at a rest area to eat the picnic lunch I’d packed, full of farmers’ market goodies, which was a much better choice than getting fast food.

Refreshed, we continued on, and were home a little after 5 PM. Unloaded. Stripped down and decontaminated. Only about 10% of people were masking on Cape, in comparison to 90% here. COVID cases in the state have gone down 20% over the past two weeks, but the tourists will bring more infections. We are still masking.

Had a light snack for dinner, and just crashed on the couch, enjoying VICTORIA magazine. Tessa wouldn’t speak to me. Charlotte complained from a distance, but wouldn’t let me pet her until we settled in to sleep; Willa slept through the whole day and was perfectly happy to join us for supper.

Things are in bloom out there; the lilacs are still out, and the PGM azaleas (those bright red/violet/purply ones) are in full bloom, too. So it was pretty. But the pollen was thick. My blue car was covered in yellow dust. When I showered, as part of the decontamination protocols, I touched my face and realized I had to scrub off a layer of pollen that stuck to the sunscreen.

Fortunately, it’s raining, and one can tell the car is blue again.

I didn’t feel torn apart going back, which is what I expected to feel – not only the sense memory stress, but the full weight of the dream of living on Cape for the rest of my life not being my reality. And I didn’t, which is a good thing. I still have affection for the good memories, and it’s not where I’m supposed to be anymore, at least right now.

And the move is OVER, and we are HERE, which is where we should be right now, in a lovely, light home in a vibrant, artistic community.

So, while the transition last year was tough, and I hope never to move during a Mercury Retrograde again, I am deeply grateful that we’ve landed here. And now I can enjoy the Cape again as a nice place to visit. And maybe build some fresh good memories.

An example of when Saturn Retrograde works positively: a life lesson that doesn’t feel like getting beaten down.

I went to bed ridiculously early and slept until Charlotte and Tessa conspired together to get me up. I’m a little sore from hauling stuff around and spending so much time in the car, but nowhere near how bad I felt last year at this time. Which is part of the healing.

Today, I have writing to do, and three scripts to turn around. I was going to haul over to Carr’s hardware store over by Norad Mill, but I think I’ll wait until tomorrow. I have a list of weird stuff to get there, and I’m sure the clerk will find it highly amusing to help me hunt it all down. They are very nice there.

I also have unpacking and lots of washing to do. Everything comes back sandy because, you know, beaches have sand. And there’s also an oily layer over it, from all the leaf blowers and other machines that vomit oily gases.

It will be a combination of nesting, writing, and script coverage, which is just fine with me.

And feeling better about things, in general.

Fri. June 3, 2022: Re-charging Through Art

image courtesy of Uwe Baumann via pixabay.com

Friday, June 3, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Mercury DIRECT

Cloudy and cool

I’d hoped for a productive day yesterday, and fell far, far short of my own expectations.

I had trouble settling in to meditation, mostly because Charlotte was crawling all over me, and over the desk. But we got there.

After meditation, I made French toast for breakfast, trying to use up the leftover ciabatta. I’m trying to recreate the recipe for the lovely one I had at Pere Antoine’s in New Orleans. Adding in more vanilla helps, but I think there was alcohol involved, too.

The morning fled as I slogged through emails and took care of admin stuff, and then washed the kitchen floor properly from the night before, first with a water/vinegar mixture, then with a water/rosemary mixture.

As soon as it dried, the cats, who all love the scent of rosemary, started rolling around on the floor.

Did some more work on the Topic Workbooks. Had a good Freelance Chat – I had a bunch of questions, as did other people, and it was a lively, fun conversation.

I think, as I prepare my Developing the Series class for this August’s booking from its previous version, that I will simultaneously create the Topic Workbook for it. The students in the class will get a copy of the workbook, and the following week, I will release it for sale.

I got my contract from my Llewellyn editor for the 2024 annual. Of course, she wants the very personal and challenging article I pitched! And it’s due earlier than usual, because of print and shipping delays. But I will sign it and return it today, and start it percolating. I will actually write it once I’ve written and submitted the Monthology piece.

In the afternoon, I only turned around one script, because I went down a Pixlr rabbit hole, trying to figure out how to use it, and if it does what I need it to do. It’s sort of like a simpler version of GIMP. But lets me work in portrait, not just landscape. GIMP doesn’t let me reorient photos. Or, if it does, I haven’t yet figured out how to do it, because when I put in the dimensions manually, it changes them to whatever it wants.

After I turned around the script coverage, I put on makeup and got dressed to go down to the MassMOCA open studios. They have a dozen or so artists-in-residence at any given time, from all over the world. Once a month in the summer (less frequently in winter), the studios are open to the public, invited in to see works in progress and hear about the artists’ visions.

It was amazing. The breadth and depth of work is astonishing and emotional and so, so strong. I felt so honored to be invited in and see it, and learn about the different processes. There were a lot of really good conversations, with artists and fellow visitors. It turns out that one woman lived on the same block as I did in NYC, around the same time! Small world.

Everyone had to be masked, and no one fussed. There was only one unpleasant incident, when an artist asked that no photographs be taken, because this is work in progress, not an exhibit and a white woman (of course) started screaming at her and stomped out.

Other that that, everyone was excited and respectful and thrilled to be a part of it.

I left a little early, because it was getting crowded, and I was uncomfortable around so many people, even masked. The bulk of the visitors came late, so that they could eat at either the taco truck or one of the several restaurants in the complex (all of whom have outdoor seating).

I walked down, and walked back, about a 3 mile round trip, and it was a couple of miles traipsing around the studios, so I definitely got my exercise! But the pieces gave me a lot to think about, for all the right reasons.

It was a calculated risk to go, with virus numbers rising, but I’m glad I did.

Woke up around 1 AM because of the rain, and had trouble falling back to sleep, due to sense memory stress. I have a feeling this will be a challenging month, on the emotional front.

Mercury turns direct today, thank goodness. Don’t talk to me about the shadow. I’d never get anything damn done if I had to worry about the pre-and-post retrograde shadows. Saturn goes retrograde tomorrow – the planet of life lessons. If I didn’t learn from the move last cycle, I’ll be paying for it this time around.

I have a post about Summer Hours up on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Sadly, I doubt I can stop work at noon today. Since I only turned around one script yesterday, I have at least two do turn around today, and then two tomorrow. Unless I get three done today, which would be a stretch. I need to do a library/co-op market run later this morning, get some writing done, and maybe some editing in the afternoon. This weekend, I need to work on the Monthology story and The Big Project.

Have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Tues. May 31, 2022: Finally, A Good Writing Day

image courtesy of Markus Winkler via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Hazy and hot

We were out of the house before 9 AM on Friday, headed down to Pittsfield. Got some great book deals at their lobby sale, and had a closer look around the Atheneum itself. Again, lots of great reading and working spaces. They even have musical instruments to check out.

A quick stop at Home Goods on the way back to replace the glass that broke this morning. Got a couple of glasses off the clearance shelf that are pretty, and close to the broken one. Swung by Staples to drop off the toner cartridges and get the credit on my account. Did a quick stop into the (reasonably priced) grocery store there to pick up a few final things for the weekend.

We were home before noon, as the traffic started to get heavier. I mean, compared to the Cape in-season, it’s still light, but it’s heavier than it usually is around here.

In the afternoon, we watched the video on the early history of the Spruces. It was interesting, but I had already found all that information in my research.

Read Kellye Garrett’s HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE, which was good.

I’d written and submitted my book review early in the morning, before we left, and was assigned my next book.

Lunch was light: an assortment of cheeses, salami, the trout spread, and a fig/orange spread with crackers.  The two cheeses bought at the overpriced market were mediocre, and the salami, also bought there, was greasy. Fortunately, the trout and the fig/orange were delicious.

Yeah, not shopping at that market again.

Dinner was salmon with sweet Thai chili sauce, rice, and peas. Delicious. I’m so lucky we have a good fish monger here. It’s ironic that I can get Cape-caught fish at a better price than I could on Cape.

I realized, on Friday, that it was exactly a year ago that day when we put down the deposit on this place. Definitely the right move. Although my body is going into sense-memory stress again, and I’m constantly trying to soothe and reset. The next few weeks may be rough, as I teach my body it doesn’t have to go into survival mode all the time, the way it did last year during this stretch.

The Narcissistic Sociopath read the list of names of the children murdered in Uvalde and then DANCED on the stage. The SOB was dancing with glee at the death. He really is sickening, and anyone who supports him is just as bad as he is.

I am so sick and tired of these corrupt, monstrous, disgusting individuals continuing to get away with everything, because Democrats are too weak to get down in the trenches and fight in a way that wins. You cannot take the high road with people determined to kill you. You eliminate them. You destroy them. Or you are exterminated.

The fact that Congress went ahead and took vacation instead of staying in town and getting the work done is further proof that the Dems are weak. We need actual progressive leaders. Or we will all wind up dead, be it from pandemics or gun violence, or every right being removed.

And one of the first things that needs to happen is to take action against those financing the fascists.

Went to bed way too early on Friday, exhausted and broken hearted. Woke up around 2:30 AM, from a dream of being in the NYC subway and seeing a couple of guys carrying guns, so I left. It even smelled like the subway. I realized, when I woke up, that someone was outside, in between the houses, smoking, and the cigarette had that stale nicotine quality that is in the subway.

Dozed off again, and the cats rousted me out of bed a little before five.

Saturday morning was about turning over the closet from winter to summer. That took a long time. I had to rearrange quite a bit, and decide how to pack up a lot of the winter stuff. My closet here is much smaller than the one in the Cape house. I had a walk-in closet there, which meant I didn’t really have to turn over the closet seasonally.

Found a bunch of stuff, got distracted with finding cool stuff. Washed a few things. Have a pile to mend, and a pile to iron.

Sunday was cool enough to cook. So I baked biscuits in the morning, made potato salad, made egg salad, made another batch of vegetable stock, threw pork chops into the slow cooker with honey teriyaki sauce.

Read a lot, and rested as much as I could. I was emotionally exhausted, as much as physically.

Started a new blank book for the handwritten journal on Monday morning. The third of this year. Also wrote 1000 words (before 7 AM, no less) on the piece inspired by the ghost stories/auto accidents.

We had planned to go out on a fun day trip on Monday, but then I checked the event calendars around us, and all the towns were having parades for Memorial Day. We’d have gotten stuck several times on the way down, and not been able to enjoy ourselves. So we’ve rescheduled.

I started putting my Monthology story on paper (well, computer screen). Word dumped the first half page I wrote (because one can’t autosave until one manually autosaves to the cloud, and I DON’T WANT TO SAVE ON THE CLOUD). I couldn’t find it in the recovery file or anywhere else. I’m so sick of Windows11 being awful.

I nearly gave up for the day, but I wanted to get the opening that’s been crowding my head down properly, so I started over, and wrote about 600 words (the opening scene). I had to stop and ask some questions to other contributors so that I can integrate their monsters properly, but I have the next couple of scenes almost ready to write. And I know how it ends, so there’s just a bit to get to the climactic sequence that I have to work out.

Wrote a little over 1000 words on The Big Project. I have a feeling I’ll have to layer multiple edits onto the next draft, so it can go out by deadline.

Took a look at the radio play, “Owe Me” and am completely baffled as to how I get from where I am to where I need to be at the end. That still has to percolate.

Finished the revision of “Personal Revolution.” It needs a proofread, but it should be ready to re-release at the end of June, as planned. Now to get back to new editions of the Topic Workbooks.

Grabbed a script and turned it around. It was a good one, so it was a pleasure. But I am way, way under what I usually make with this company. If this continues, I may have to look elsewhere for coverage work, and add another couple of freelance writing clients to the mix.

Made turkey burgers for dinner, which were good. Read the next book for review, which was also good. I will write up the review later today, and send it off tomorrow, asking for the next one. Built in some time to work with the Druid Plant Oracle cards.

Up early this morning, after some strange dreams.  Hitting the page first, and then the plans we had yesterday and moved due to parade routes are back in play today. So today is my “holiday” while yesterday was a workday, and a productive one! May I have a string of them. I wrote 1K in longhand, writing my way still into a project, so that was a decent start.

Four more days until Mercury goes direct. The last week usually heaps additional challenges on. The day after Mercury goes direct, Saturn, the planet of life lessons, goes retrograde. Ick.

I did not post on Ko-fi last week, because it felt disrespectful, in light of the shootings. Of course, over Memorial Day weekend, there were 14 more mass shootings in this country. I loathe our politicians.

Hope you had a good weekend, and have a good week.

Fri. May 27, 2022: Shattered

image courtesy of Marcela Bolivar via pixabay.com

Friday, May 27, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Mercury Retrograde

Rainy and warmer

I was awakened just before 5 AM by crashing glass.

And cats running in all directions.

I must have left an empty glass on the table in my reading corner. I’m usually conscientious about putting the glass into the dishwasher as soon as I’ve finished with it, to prevent just such an occurrence. I must have been distracted.

It was 5 AM, so it’s not like I could turn on the vacuum without disturbing the neighbors (wouldn’t’ have had to worry about that in the previous house). So I picked up the larger fragments, and used the dustpan and broom on the room. Then a damp paper towel to get any tiny fragments. Then, I had to catch each of the cats and check/wipe their paws for any glass shards before they licked said paws. There was a good bit of howling and carrying on, but no blood.

So much for not disturbing the neighbors.

But the shattered glass represents how I feel right now.

The almost daily gun violence, on top of the over a million dead in the pandemic, are soul-shattering.

As more and more information about Uvalde comes out, and the incompetence of the police response is brought to light, it gets even worse. When I see the photos, I see white men who are unfit, both physically and psychologically, for a job to “protect and serve.” They use the uniform to bully. Like all bullies, when faced with a situation requiring intelligence, ethics, skill, and courage, they fail.

The mayor’s bloviating to aid in the coverup doesn’t help, either.

Congress continues to fail us. Their holiday weekend is more important than staying in their offices and working on ways to fix this. Except, of course, for Republicans, who are speaking at NRA and right-wing conferences. They’re busy fulfilling the agenda of more death. More blood. Because that is what turns them on.

There is a way to hit the NRA, and that’s through filing a complaint with the IRS that they’ve violating the terms of their status. I’ve posted the link multiple times, but I bet you, dollars to doughnuts, that I’m the only one who actually files the complaint.

I’m just sick of everybody right now.

I wrote and submitted the book review yesterday, and have been assigned another book, which I plan to read over the weekend. No scripts in the queue, so I will look at it as a gift of time. Got out a couple of half-hearted LOIs. Did a trip to the library to drop off/pick up books, and then to the grocery store to shop for the weekend. We do have some plans, although we intend to avoid people (especially unmasked tourists) as much as possible. Much of it depends on the weather.

I took Charlotte out on the back balcony in her playpen. She was very good.

Willa, however, carried on in the kitchen like she’d been abandoned. She screamed and cried at the kitchen window, and then tried to pry the screen out of its frame.

She won, of course. Because the cat always wins.

I went inside, put her in her playpen, and took her out, too. There’s barely room for both playpens, but it was better than the screaming, and she settled down.

Freelance Chat was fun. Some good tips, as usual.

Made a smoked trout spread. By accident, I used a recipe different than the one I usually use (both are in FOOD & WINE cookbooks). It’s good, it just wasn’t what I expected. Cooked pasta for dinner.

Last night was the final meeting of the Knowledge Unicorns, at least in present form. What should have been a joyous time was, instead, one filled with anger and grief. Some of the kids are the same age as those who were slaughtered. Others are going on to college, or taking a gap year, or are in other grades. There has to be another discussion, in July, about whether the parents want to risk sending those still in school back to school next year, or if all of them will switch to homeschooling, for gun violence reasons as much as for virus reasons. But right now, we all need a break. And it’s time for me to step back.

I feel shattered, heartbroken, and out of sorts today. How could I not?

I’m trying to get in a run down to Pittsfield for a few things early this morning, so that we’re home by noon, before people start converging for the holiday weekend. I doubt it will be the chaos that usually happened on Cape – for one thing, there’s no bridge to back up traffic for hours, and multiple roads. But I’d still rather be home, up on my second-floor porch, watching the mountains, and above it all.

I’m not sure if I will rest or try to write this weekend. I do have to turn my closet from winter to summer; that will take some time. But I need time to grieve the destruction of the country in which I was born and where I’ve spent my entire life, that has been taken over by Christofascists who find murder sexually gratifying and lucrative.

I need to give myself time to grieve, and then I can start making practical decisions.

Have a good weekend, friends, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Thurs. May 26, 2022: When The Day Evaporates

image courtesy of Christoph via pixabay.com

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Partly sunny/cloudy and pleasant

There’s a garden update on Gratitude and Growth here.

As I mentioned yesterday, while I was at the laundromat, I did 26 pages of the multi-colored draft on CAST IRON MURDER. Yeah, that will take some time, to clean up the sloppy language. I’m keeping some of it as a cadence choice for a particular character, because it supports/reveals who she is, but will fix it in plenty of other places. So much for being happy with the book!

Had a terrific conversation with my Llewellyn editor about the article I’ll write for them in 2024. Which will be contracted in the next couple of weeks, and due in August. Because almanacs work two years in advance. The material I wrote last year for next year will release in August.

It’s also a reminder to put reworking the Cerridwen iris Shea website into the schedule for this summer, as well as sorting through the twenty-six plus years’ worth of material I’ve written for Llewellyn annuals, where the rights have reverted back to me, and I can publish them elsewhere. That’s kind of a major project, since there were years where I had multiple articles in multiple annuals, which is part of the reason I burned out.

Another thing on the list, right?

And then, the rest of the day just sort of evaporated. Much of it was due to the combination of grief and rage against the elected officials for allowing continued gun violence and refusing to do anything about this. I’m tired of my government’s determination to kill me and those about whom I care (and even those about whom I care, who I don’t know). I’m tired that we are expected to pay to be murdered. It has to change. Part of that is that Democratic leadership has to change. They need to be as ruthless, no, MORE ruthless than Republicans.

I did some research, and found out that one can file a petition with the IRS is a tax-exempt organization has broken the rules. I looked at the checklist, and the NRA has broken many of them. Gathering supporting documentation won’t be difficult. I posted the link multiple times, but I doubt anyone else will do anything. I also worked on a letter to Chuck Schumer demanding Joe Manchin be removed from all committee assignments. Stop pandering to someone who stabs us all in the back at every opportunity. The carrot hasn’t worked. Used the stick and beat the SOB into submission until he’s voted out. I’ve worked with Senator Schumer. I like and respect him a great deal. But he’s not ruthless enough. If McConnell can always get everything he wants, Schumer needs to be just as much of a dirty fighter.

We took Willa out on the back balcony in her playpen in the afternoon. She was fascinated by the sights and smells. So different from being out on the deck on Cape. I will have to take the cats out in the playpens by turns – there isn’t room for all the playpens at once, like there was on our deck. So each day, one of them gets to go out. I have a feeling Tessa won’t like it, but I at least want to give her the option. Charlotte definitely wants to go out. And she’s very good in her playpen.

Put in a Chewy order. The food Tessa likes is out of stock; I’m trying one bag of a similar one, and ordered treats and the cactus scratching post. Because the 100% response to the Twitter poll was that I should get it (like I wasn’t going to, anyway). I had to buy a toy, too, to get it up to the level for free shipping.

I’m trying to look at the lack of script coverage work as a gift of time, to heal from burnout, and enjoy it, rather than worrying.

I read the next book for review, and will write up/submit that today, and hopefully get assigned a new one before the holiday.

Meditation this morning, then some work on the Big Project. I have to do a library and grocery run, and then it’s back to the page to work on the Monthology story, some more edits on CAST IRON MURDER, and the radio plays.

There’s plenty to do, I just have to stop frittering away time.

Have a good one!

Published in: on May 26, 2022 at 6:23 am  Comments Off on Thurs. May 26, 2022: When The Day Evaporates  
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Wed. May 25, 2022: Roadtrip!

image courtesy of 453169 via pixabay.com

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was road trip day. We travelled over to Lake George, a day trip to make sure the car was working, and to get a few things out that way we couldn’t source around here.

We drove Rt. 2 across to Troy (New York), which was pretty, but the curvy mountain roads required intense concentration, especially since I haven’t driven much since December, and I’m not used to the mountain roads yet. I mean, they’re not the Alps, but still have challenges (mostly yahoos in rusty pickups who want to speed).

Troy is an interesting, historic city, and we picked up Rt. 9 North from there. Once we got around Saratoga Springs, I was back in familiar territory, although I hadn’t been out that way since before we moved to the Cape a little over a decade ago. It’s gotten more built up, of course, but it was still good to see familiar places with happy memories.

Somehow, we got sidetracked onto Rt. 9N north, instead of N, and took the roundabout way to Lake George which was . . .kind of retro kitschy? Very built up with games and “fun” parks and stuff, and one can barely see the lake for the tourist stuff. We’d hoped to grab some takeout and picnic near the lake, but there wasn’t anything we wanted to eat, and a plethora of school field trips, so we decided not to.

We stopped at the Timberland outlet and I got new walking shoes – black with purply-pink trim. I had my last Timberland walking shoes for nearly 15 years before they fell apart during the move last year. These feel great, and will be terrific for running errands. I doubt they’ll last as long as the others, between concrete city streets and hiking trails, but I have every intention of enjoying them. We stopped at a couple of other stores, too, and bought a few things, but mostly didn’t, and didn’t stay in stores where people weren’t masking. We, of course, stayed masked.

We picked up I-87 and dropped down to Albany, then went across on the Pike, and came back up through Lee and Lenox. We stopped at the kitchen store in Lenox; I hadn’t had a chance to do my birthday shopping there in March. One of the (unmasked) cashiers was walking around on her cell phone, talking about how she was “recovering” from COVID and how much she loved the anti-viral drugs. I grabbed two pretty blue bowls, went to the other cashier, and we got the heck out of there ASAP, sanitizing like crazy. Bitch should have still been home, or, at the very least, masked in the store, instead of spewing germs everywhere.

We stopped at a food market that advertises all over the place and is always crowded (90% were masked, thank goodness)). I’d heard so much about it. I found them overpriced. Their prices are $2-$4 higher than the food co-op and $3-$5 higher than the other grocery stores in the area, for the same brands.

I bought some of their own brand to try it. The take-and-bake pizza had no taste. Not even a cardboardy taste. Completely bland, until I put some of the fresh basil from the garden on it. That brought out the cheese and tomato flavors, but the crust was still bland. The organic chocolates were flat, too. The texture was okay, but they lacked taste. This morning’s chocolate croissants were okay, but not brilliant. Let’s hope the rest of the stuff I bought there has more flavor, or I am going to be Annoyed.

Doubtful I’ll shop there again, unless the cheese I bought from the cheese monger is terrific.

But at least we know it’s hype without substance, and don’t have to shop there again.

We did full decontamination protocols on ourselves and everything we brought into the house, just in case.

Charlotte and Willa had missed us, and were glad we were home. Tessa had ensconced herself on the porch, and was like, “Eh, you’re home earlier than you said.”

Read in the evening, still reading DISORIENTED, which is such a strong book. Definitely has a lot of ha-ha-ow! to the satire.

Tried to re-order the cat food, but they are out of stock for the only food Tessa will eat. We still have a few weeks’ worth, which is why I usually order early. I can wait a few days before figuring out something else.

Was heartbroken and enraged by yet another school shooting in Texas. Every politician who blocks gun control and removing the filibuster is personally responsible for these daily killings, and should be charges as accessories to the homicides.

Up early this morning, confronted by a very angry Tessa. When we refilled her bowl before bedtime, we left it on the kitchen counter. She did not get her 2 AM snack, and she was enraged. For once, she didn’t even care that I was headed to the laundromat. Her attitude was, “Just go! You’ve done enough!”

Laundromat was fine. Lots of laundry, but got it done in a reasonable amount of time. I drove, because there was so much, and refilled the gas on the way back. I’d only had to fill the car once before since January, so I feel like I have no right to gripe about gas prices. Besides, it’s still cheaper here than, say, in the UK, where they pay for a litre what we pay for a gallon.

I haven’t had any scripts in my queue since Saturday, and am trying not to panic. I am way under my nut for this pay period. I’m still okay, but I’m trying to get ahead, not just stay afloat. I have some other paid work to do, fortunately, this week, but it irritates me that they gave us this big song-and-dance about wanting us to take on more work and put more of our focus on them, but then they can’t give us enough to meet our needs.

Time to add a few more clients into the mix. Another editor wants to know if I want to work with her again (it would be for a project coming out in 2024, although it would be due this August and paid next October, which is the way it works for the almanac). I’m going to say yes. I have a book to read for review, and radio scripts to do for producers. Plus, the Big Project, the monthology story, revising “Personal Revolution” and the Topic Workbooks, and the next edit on CAST IRON MURDER.

Speaking of CAST IRON MURDER, I started the multi-colored draft at the laundromat, and wow, is there a lot of sloppy language in it. It’s part of one character’s cadence, but I’m going to clean up the rest of it. Yikes.

If you’re not familiar with my multi-colored draft, my article on the layered editing process is here.

Back to the page. I have a headache from the driving yesterday, but there’s too much to do today to take another day off.

Have a good one.

Tues. May 24, 2022: Writing, Reading, Research

omage courtesy of congerdesign via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Partly sunny and cool

Friday wound up being a lovely day. It was sunny and warm. I started at the library to drop off and pick up books (there were 10 waiting for me).

I headed over to Williamstown, looking for the Historical Museum, and couldn’t find it. I did find the public library, which is sleek and beautiful, with a garden full of blooming lilacs. The staff is lovely, and gave me detailed directions with landmarks. I scoped out the library – it’s definitely a place where I want to spend more time. Lovely, light reading areas, and a sleek work area.

And people are still masking. By choice. Which is great.

The Museum was much farther from the college/town center than it seemed on the map, but I found it. It’s a lovely building. The person staffing it is new, so we had to figure out where things were.

I looked at the exhibit, and found information about a Williamstown resident’s untimely demise that had been told to me as happening up the street from me here in North Adams, which resulted in a ghost in the building that is now the Mason Hall, so I will have to do more research. I also found information on a pair of sisters who farmed around the turn of the century, and want to know more about them.

The staff person found the file (somewhere neither of us would have thought to look), and I settled in. Much of the information was more recent, about the flood that finally wiped out the Spruces, and the rent battles the tenants had with the town leading up to it.

But there was some of the earlier information. I found contradictions and sanitization of information I’d found from other sources, which I found very interesting. It has set off ideas on how I want to build the character who heads the fictional community, and how I want to put him in competition with the real-life guy. Al Bachand, who was the actual visionary behind The Spruces, reminds me, in a lot of ways of David Belasco. My theatre pals will understand the reference. For anyone who doesn’t, I suggest looking up both names in your search engine, and reading some of the biographical information, and you’ll see what I mean.

Bachand was quite a character, a man of many talents and appetites. I want to build the fictional counterpart, who is in deep rivalry with him, to be even more over-the-top. Most of that is because it will suit the story I want to tell better. Part of it is because members of Bachand’s immediate family are still alive, and it would be disrespectful to use him in the series the way I want and need to use the visionary behind my fictional park. So I’m building a character that is somewhat inspired by him, but also very different from what I’m researching on the man, AND a character who is obsessed with the idea of besting Bachand (but can’t ever really do it). I also want to build the geography of my fictional park a little differently than the real Spruces was built, so it can serve the needs to the series.

In order to do this, I’m doing something I call “stretching geography.” By that, I mean creating fictional places and integrating them with real ones. I do that in CAST IRON MURDER, where I created the fictional Berkshires town of Persimmon. It’s got elements of Cheshire and Dalton and Clarksburg in it. While I’m vague about exactly WHERE it is (I talk about neighboring towns, including North Adams), it’s sort of stuffed between Cheshire and Adams, in my mind. I have to figure out the name of the town I want to put in competition with Williamstown and the Spruces community, and where I’m going to shove it. I want it close enough so that there can be actual competition between the two communities. That won’t come up in the series arc in action until several books in, but I’m going to seed the tension from the first book.

Anyway, there were notes in the research file that will lead me to other sources that I will go back and poke around in on another day.

I may have to buy another sketchbook just to draw the maps of my new community! The one I bought recently is dedicated to the maps I need to draw for The Big Project.

The lilacs are in bloom here, and it does my heart good to see and smell them. I still miss the ones I nurtured for a decade, but being around lilacs makes me happy.

On the way home from the museum, I stopped at Korean Garden and picked up chicken tangsooyuk, which was delicious.

There were no scripts in the queue, but I’d sent off my review and the invoice before I left for the museum, and was paid and had my next book assigned by the time I got back, so I decided not to panic.

Instead, I started reading UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR by TJ Klune, which is so beautifully written.

Meanwhile, in the back of my mind, I let the Retro Mystery percolate, and the monthology story percolate.

I prepared a big batch of black currant tea and put it in jars in the fridge, so I’d have something cool to drink over the very hot weekend.

I put up a one-card reading with the Herbal Tarot up over on my Ko-Fi page.

Saturday was World Meditation Day. I’d been invited to several all-day online sessions. While I was tempted, I was more drawn to not being online all day, and being quiet and internal instead.

I did some more research on the building here in North Adams. Turns out that there was a similar accident within a year of the one mentioned in the museum in Williamstown. Two different women, in similar family situations, killed in automobile accidents, about a year apart. I dug and did more research on both women, their families, and the accidents. I found some papers on them at Academia.edu, which is great, only now they email me multiple times a day with ideas on other stuff.

It also led me to research on Alice Ramsey, who drove across the country in 1909, and I put aside some information on that, because that sounds like fun inspiration.

I finished reading UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR, which is a beautiful, beautiful book. I started reading UNDER SKELETON LOCK AND KEY by Gigi Pandian, which is a delight.

It got quite hot on Saturday. Not unbearable, but hot enough so that I spend the hottest part of the day supine, reading. And letting things percolate.

I turned a script around on Saturday, too, because I was able to grab one. I typed up and revised the flash fiction, “Discoveries” that will go up on Ko-Fi this week. I put up a one-card reading with the Herbal tarot on Ko-Fi here.

Sunday was also hot, and much more humid. I had computer problems again; the computer took an hour to get up and running again, with screen freezes and all the rest. I hate Windows11.

But before that, I had a good day writing, in longhand, on the front porch. I’m going to need a new journal book before the end of the month, my third this year. I also wrote six pages on the idea spawned by the information about the two young women who died in automobile accidents up in Pownal, that I’d been researching. I’m writing my way into it. The plot is taking shape, and, once I’ve written my way into it a little more, I will stop and do an outline, if it’s viable. I figured out a way to connect the two women. It’s fiction, inspired by the real Elizabeth Botsford and the real Mary Houghton, but it’s definitely fiction.

The Houghton graves – and that of the chauffer who killed himself after Mary’s death – are up the street in Southview cemetery. I may go up there and look around, one day when it’s cooler.

Preakness Day was on Saturday afternoon. They should have cancelled, due to heat, and no one in the stands was taking any Covid precautions, which was rather disheartening. I wanted the filly, Secret Oath, to wipe the track with the boys, but she came in fourth, which is still pretty good. Early Voting won, and my baby Epicenter came in second.

I finished reading UNDER LOCK AND SKELETON KEY, which was so much fun. I also read A DEADLY BONE TO PICK by Peggy Rothschild, which was also very good.

I was assigned the word with which to start my poem for the World’s Longest Poem. I figured out the first two lines, and played with them, rhythmically, until they worked. But then I couldn’t figure out where to go with it.

Fortunately, it percolated overnight, and I woke up with the third and final line. We can have up to five lines, but I’m saying what I want to say in three, so there’s no need to witter on.

I worked the final line until it fit the rhythm, so I could send it off by noon. Also wrote two pages on the ghost story, and 1200 words on The Big Project.

More computer problems, especially with the keyboard, which is very frustrating. In case I haven’t said it often enough, I hate Windows11.

This computer is only two years old and has been babied as though it was made of Swarovski crystal. There is no reason for it not to run perfectly.

I’m also sick of people who tell me I should have a “backup computer.” Who can afford that? The computer which I PAID FOR INCLUDING AN EXTENDED WARRANTY should do the job it’s supposed to do, for more than the first couple of months, especially because I take care of it.

Sent off my bit of the poem, which is both exciting and terrifying.

I walked to the library to drop off and pick up books. I was delighted to literally stop and smell the lilacs several times along the way. I took some photos of the Houghton Mansion that I will use in my research, although my fictional mansion will be set up a little differently. I’m not going to have the added-on bulk of the masonic hall, which looks as though it should house a swimming pool. I may have that portion of the house be a ballroom instead. I’d written two more pages on that piece in the early morning writing session. The story is coming out a little differently than I expected, but I like what it’s doing. At least, so far. And I’ve figured out how to tie the two women’s deaths together in fiction, although they were only tied together by location and type of accident in real life.

Went down a research rabbit hole about Mary’s friend, Sybil. The birth, death, and marriage records point out where a lot of the sensational stories appearing on the various haunted house websites bent the truth. Probably through a lack of careful research, but still. It also took a bit of digging to find out what happened to her mother, Cordelia, after the deaths of her husband and daughter, but I found some information from reliable sources. Her two other daughters helped care for her, until she died, several years later. I’m changing that in the novel; the character based on her remarries and starts a new life, and that is tied to the deaths not only of Mary and Sybil, but Elizabeth, in a way that simply does not have evidence that happened in real life.

 Then, I went back to searching a particular record I want in relation to the Retro Mystery, but couldn’t find it. Could find records around it, but not that one. It’s a specific marriage record, and it makes me wonder if that marriage took place out of the county, such as at Niagara Falls or somewhere else. I found out that one of the inspirations for a character in the story is still alive and living in this town, so I have to make even more certain that her fictional counterpart is very different. However, my intent for her is to be a positive, dynamic character in the series.

Finding the facts, and then deciding how I’m going to change things so it works for fiction, and do so in a way that honors the real-life inspirations, is an interesting process.

Knowledge Unicorns was a lot of fun. Finals are done; it’s mostly about field trips and running out the clock. And our last session is on Thursday. It’s bizarre to think that we’re done, after more than two years. But they’ve built a strong support system amongst each other, so whatever comes next, they can handle it together, and I can step back.

I’m reading DISORIENTED by Elaine Hsieh Chou, which is by turns, funny and disturbing. The writing is beautiful.

Charlotte woke me up at 4:20, and Tessa rousted me out of bed by 5. So another too-early morning. Got some writing done, and fussed over the plants.

We have Some Plans for today, which hopefully will go well, and I’ll have a lot of fun stuff to share tomorrow.

Peace, friends, and have a good day. We’re headed to a long holiday weekend, and I am ready for it!