Tues. Jan. 18, 2022: Planets, Cards, Pages

collage by Devon Ellington via pixabay and Canva

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Last Day of the Full Moon

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Uranus DIRECT

Sunny and cold

Uranus goes direct today. Uranus is “the Awakener” energy, so when it’s retrograde, things that need to be shaken up in your life are stymied. It also is about what makes you unique. While having it direct helps you get out of your own way, shaking things up in the already chaotic Venus/Mercury retrogrades isn’t fun. The full moon was in Cancer last night, which meant emotions were heightened.

Friday morning, the two scout crows from my local murder were in the tree outside my office window, telling me the news. They’re very chatty. The squirrels were running around, too, preparing for the storms. They are constantly knocking down the bird feeder, and I keep moving it and trying to figure out where I can put it where it won’t be taken down and dragged all over the balcony, but so far, no luck.

I got some work done early in the morning. Later in the morning, I layered up and did the pre-storm errands: dropped off/picked up library books; mailed bills and cards, and bought stamps; picked up a couple of bottles of wine at the liquor store. We may live in a city, but it often feels like a small town, because people like to chat (masked and at a safe distance).  I always know that if I head out for errands, I’m going to have to talk to people. Which is fine, because they are interesting and nice, and, let’s face it, everyone’s felt so cut off and isolated going onto three years now, they just want to know there’s another human being out there who’s not a complete and utter jerk.

But errands aren’t something I can do if I’m in a rush. I build time to chat into all the errands time. And, even though I’m an introvert instead of an extrovert, I don’t mind. Like I said, the people are nice, and they’re interesting.

I was looking at the artwork on various tarot decks. I don’t need any more decks, goodness knows, but I still love them. Three decks in particular have my attention right now: Ask the Witch Tarot, Tarot de la Nuit, and the Gilded Tarot.

I was scrolling through social media and saw a book cover – that was almost exactly like one of the tarot cards in the Tarot de la Nuit deck, although the blurb had nothing to do with tarot. I pulled up the image of the deck and put it next to the social media post. The only difference was the way the man’s hand wrapped around the sword. Other than that, the cover artist had used the tarot image. Now, maybe the artist had permission. Or bought the image. I don’t know. But I still found that disturbing. The tarot artist’s style on the deck is very distinctive. It’s not like the typical stock Rider Waite image that’s widely available. The tarot image I used for the collage at the top of this post is a typical Rider Waite free image.

Spent some time on the acupressure mat in the afternoon. Wrote up two script coverages and answered some questions on another one. I’m below my nut for this pay period, but that’s the way it is. I’ve just been too exhausted to take on more.

Worked my way through some more contest entries.

Was up until nearly midnight, and then had trouble getting to sleep. Tessa would rather I stay up and play with her, but at least I slept in until after 7 on Saturday.

Mercury has gone retrograde in Aquarius. In my birth chart, Mercury sits in Aquarius. Aquarius is about independent thought, and Mercury is about quick thinking. So when it’s retrograde in the place it sits in my birth chart, no wonder my brain is mushier than usual. Layer pandemic brain over that, and it is not a good thing.

Saturday was sunny, bright, and cold.  I polished the short story and got it out by deadline. I’ll hear by May if it’s what they’re looking for or not. I wrote two book reviews and sent them off. I worked on contest entries.

I made colcannon for dinner, adding leeks, Canadian bacon, and shredded cheese to the traditional cabbage and potatoes. It was wonderful.

Weird dreams lately, set in a city I don’t recognize as knowing in real life, but it’s where I live and work in the dreams. They are busy dreams, not stress dreams, so by the time I wake up, I feel like I’ve put in a full day.

Tessa got me up before 6 on Sunday. I made muffins with cranberries and chocolate chips, refining a recipe on which I’ve been working, and they turned out well. Which is good, because some days I feel like I’ve forgotten to how cook or bake properly.

Worked on contest entries. It was sunny and cold. I’d prepped as much as I could for the incoming storm, so I just rested and worked on the entries. I did take out the garbage, so we wouldn’t be stuck with garbage in the house during bad weather, but that’s as ambitious as I got, as far as going out and about. Read a script.

Charlotte woke me up before 4 AM on Monday. I think the storm upset her. Tessa was in the doorway with her, “You’re up? Do I need to start vocal exercises?”

I got up and fed them, then grabbed the featherbed and moved to the couch, where I fell asleep again. It had snowed quite a bit by then. I woke up a little after 7, and the snow was serious.

Still, people were out with shovels and plows, getting things done. Men shoulder their portion of the work better here than they did on Cape. The Cape was full of white men who would moan that they “couldn’t” shovel or carry groceries or do anything because they had a “bad back” and then immediately go play golf all day.

The past few weeks, I’ve landed in the same place in my dreams, as I mentioned above. I don’t remember much about the dreams, but I do know they take place in the same location. It’s a small city, that I don’t recognize when I’m awake, but is my home city in the dreams, and I’m comfortable. Lots of brick buildings, three and four stories. Coffee shops, restaurants, bookshops, small theatres, museums, a library, etc. No virus, as far as I can tell. The me inhabiting that dream space is a younger me (thirties?), and I’m happy there, with friends and work I like, although I don’t know what my work there is (I suspect it’s similar to what I do here, or I wouldn’t be happy). So far, I only recognize one person in that circle of people from my circle of people on this side of the dream scape, and that’s someone I knew when I first started working on Broadway, and who has since died. The dreams are pleasant, although they are busy, so I always feel as though I’ve put in a full day by the time I wake up. I’d like to try entering the space in lucid dreaming, so I have a better idea of where it is and why I keep visiting.

Eggs Benedict for Monday’s breakfast, because why not on a cold, snowy day?

I’m thinking of investing in Scrivener, after all these years. As long as I can save into .doc, .rtf, PDF, and create script templates, I should be fine. I’m unhappy with Word. I have a 50% off coupon from Nano, so I might as well use it. Not until Mercury goes direct, though, because that’s just asking for trouble.

Spent Monday morning working on The Big Project, and got two sections done.  I need to catch up on the tracking sheets for this piece (I’m now four sections behind) or I will be in trouble moving forward. In the afternoon, I worked on writing up the script coverage for the script I read the night before, and then, in the evening, I read two scripts for which I will write up coverage today.

A Twitter pal and I talked about a tarot reading she did, and the deck she used was so pretty that I ended up ordering it (Mystic Mondays Tarot, in case you’re wondering). I don’t need another tarot deck, goodness knows, but this one called to me.

It might be time to sit down and write my tarot book. I’ve been working with the cards for nearly forty years now.

Had good yoga and meditation sessions this morning. When I make the time to sit for a decent stretch, it starts the day in a more focused, grounded way.

I’m debating whether or not to head over to the college library later this morning. There aren’t a lot of students around, so it seems like a good time to poke around and find the materials I need to develop two different, but art-related projects.

I will do some more work on The Big Project this morning. I have contest scores to enter, script coverages to write up, and a couple of client blog posts to write. I might try to get some LOIs out, too, and I have two more scripts to read.

A friend has a new call for submissions out that got me thinking, although she works in a genre that would be a stretch for me, especially as I don’t read much in it. But I like the premise of the anthology call, and it’s only a 1K piece, so it’s worth thinking about. The deadline is the end of the month, which is do-able, if I find the right story and characters.

Had an idea for another piece in the same general family as The Big Project, only it wouldn’t be as big (The Medium Project as a working title?). The central protagonist and the premise came to me when I was writing in my journal this morning. At first, I thought it could be a spin-off to The Big Project, but it insists that it inhabits its own world, and I need to trust the work.

The power held, and I’m glad the storm wasn’t as severe as predicted. We’re supposed to get another one this coming weekend, so I have to figure out when to go out and about to take care of whatever needs out-and-about-ing, and then hunker back down next weekend.

Which suits me just fine.

Thurs. Jan. 13, 2022: Hoping for Quiet

image courtesy of Myriams-Fotos via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow, and I just don’t have the surge capacity to deal with it.

Post over on Gratitude and Growth about the weather.

Most of the morning was spent on writing the first draft of a short story. Got 2/3 of it done, just over 1700 words, and my brain just stopped. I know what comes next, but couldn’t pull it together to write it. And, I know the ending for which I’m aiming. I’d hoped it would only be 1500 words, but 2.5K is the sweet spot now, with 3K being the max.

Bundled up in so many layers until I could barely walk. Got the garbage out (so much easier to take it across the street to the dumpster than having to drive it to the dump). Once I unloaded garbage, came back, put on the backpack full of library books and the tote bag full of more library books and stomped to the library.

Church Street was hit and miss, as far as clean sidewalks, and I had to be careful. Dropped off the finished books, picked up the ones that have come in, stomped back. I wasn’t that cold, because of all the layers, although the tip of my nose got red and I looked like Rudolph’s understudy by the time I got back.

Made my favorite noodles with Asian peanut sauce for lunch – comfort food.

Could not get it together to write more in the afternoon.

But I finished writing up a coverage, and read another script I will write up today. I have two scripts to read/write up, and two book reviews to write. I started reading another contest entry, too.

Part of the Target order arrived. I am in love with my Pyrex pie plate. There will be pot pies and sweet pies galore with that! And things like garbage bags, shampoo, and an ice tray (although it’s a weird, squishy ice tray). Once the cat litter arrives (today or tomorrow), we will be stocked up until early March for cat and cleaning stuff. Food-wise, we could make it 4-6 weeks if supply chains totally break down, although we’d run out of eggs. I have dry milk and evaporated milk if needed, and plenty of other goods stocked in.

I’m still going to attempt a grocery run (on foot) today, to get in the perishables. Then I’ll decontaminate and start my workday. I’m not washing groceries again, but I’m decontaminating myself whenever I have to go out and interact.

The stocking up has as much to do with weather as the virus. Another storm is coming in tomorrow, and predictions are that it will go down to -31F with wind chill over the weekend. Yet another storm comes through on Monday.

So I won’t be going anywhere for awhile.

But I still have to find a place to get the car fixed.

I decided not to go to the college library this week. Maybe next week, if the virus  numbers go down and there aren’t too many people around. With the public library, I just go in to drop off/pick up; I’m not back to browsing yet. With the college library, I have to dig through the shelves, looking for what I want, and I just don’t feel comfortable being indoors with strangers, even if we’re masked and vaccinated. Nothing I need from that library is on a tight timeline, so I’m okay to wait.

I have meditation this morning, and then I’ll make a run (a waddle, in all my layers) to Big Y with my rolly cart to see how much on my list I can find. Then it’s finishing the short story (it needs to be edited and sent out tomorrow, which is a tighter turnaround than I like, but that’s when I found out about the submission deadline), writing up a script coverage and two reviews, reading two more scripts. I doubt I’ll get to work on The Big Project today, but I’m hoping to get back to it tomorrow and over the weekend, and do some work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY this weekend, too.

Tessa let me sleep until nearly 6. Actually, again, it was Charlotte who woke me, and when Tessa heard us, she chimed in.

Hopefully, the power will stay on.

It’s relatively quiet anyway around here; I’m hoping for a quiet weekend, even with storms happening outside.

Wed. Jan. 12, 2022: Writing In My Head

image courtesy of Chriszwettler via pixabay.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Yesterday was another day that was kind of all over the place. But I got some good stuff done.

Plowed through a bunch of emails, got out an LOI. There were some interesting submission calls in my inbox. One, I really wanted to do, but I don’t have anything suitable. It’s for a one-act play, 30-40 minutes, 4 characters. All my plays of the correct length have more characters; the ones with four or fewer are too short. I started to adapt a short story into a stage play, but that’s going to be too short, too. I don’t have time to write a new play from scratch, and have it in anywhere near decent shape by deadline.

There’s another call for a short story that got my wheels turning. It only needs to be about 1500 words, so if I can actually sit down and do a rough draft today, and it’s strong enough, I could revise it and have it in by deadline. I started writing it in my head. If it goes on the page as well as it’s unfolding in my brain, I’ve got a shot.

We’ll see.

Wrote a little bit on The Big Project. Not as much as I wanted to, but it was a comic scene that had to be properly structured. The joke lands, so I think it will be okay.

Worked on script coverage and on contest entries.

Charlotte sat down on my keyboard, causing all kinds of chaos, but now the “Editor” function is back in Word. Go figure.

Thank goodness there are plenty of leftovers.

Put in the Chewy order for cat litter. Packed away the boxes of holiday decorations. One box was dripping. I opened it—it contained large, outdoor balls I hadn’t used this year. They were full of water. A small hole in the top, where the hanging loop was put in, meant that, being outside, they could accumulate water inside.

I drained them and have left them on the counter to thoroughly dry. Don’t want them getting moldy inside.

That was weird. Just weird.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. Because everyone’s still remote, the kids don’t have to spend most of their day worrying about active shooters and whether the person next to them will expose them to a deadly virus, they can actually learn. Let’s face it, none of this insistence about forcing in-person learning is actually for the well-being of the kids. It’s all about making sure their parents go back out to Die for Their Employers. It’s disgusting.

I woke up on my own around 5:30 this morning, no feline choir. I’m writing this morning. Then, late morning, I will bundle up, load up as many library books as I can carry, and do a drop off/pick up.

Script coverage, book reviews, and contest entries this afternoon.

Onward.

Tues. Jan. 11, 2022: Bitterly Cold

image courtesy of Nicky Pe via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Bitterly cold

It is 1 degree F this morning.

There’s a post over on the GDR site about resolutions being the first step.

The weekend was kind of all over the place. Worked on coverages all the way through. Was honored to be requested by two writers (on two different scripts) to read revisions based on notes I gave them a few weeks ago.

Worked on packing decorations and figuring out where to put everything so we actually have living space for the year. I’m handwashing the holiday fabrics. Some of that is because I don’t want to put the glittery fabric in a commercial machine; also because there’s no way I’m humping it all down to the laundromat in this weather.

The library has cancelled all in-person programs for the month, which is a wise idea. There was a positive test at the co-op, and that staff member and two others who were in close contact are now in quarantine. I hope they are okay.

We’re having the weather we were warned about, so staying home is my only option (especially since the car doesn’t work). Snow and freezing rain all weekend, frigid temperatures today. I have a big stack of books to return to the library, but that will happen later this week. Since the virus numbers keep going up, and the entire country is back in “Die for Your Employer” mode, I’m happy to stay home.

Did some reading for pleasure, because I needed the break. Didn’t work on The Big Project until Monday, which threw off my rhythm for everything else. We’re eating leftovers, which is a good thing to clean out the fridge and not waste food, and because I just don’t have the energy to cook right now. Although I managed a chocolate mousse on Sunday, which was delicious.

Tessa is really angry at me for taking down the big tree that was in the doorway between the sewing room and the living room. She loved to glide under it to go from one room to the other, and also liked to sit under it.

As a joke, I put a small, 15” tree (that was on one of the bookcases) down in the same spot the big tree stood. Tessa glared at me like, “You think I’m stupid?”

Meanwhile, Charlotte walked around it, checking it from all angles, and then looked at me, puzzled, like, “I remember this being bigger last time I was here.”

Willa paid no attention, being her Willa self, and busy with other things.

The dog bed that was once Tessa’s and then became Willa’s is now Willa’s again. It is on top of my mom’s bed (instead of being on top of boxes near the window, where we thought Willa would like it), and she sleeps curled up in it during the day (and curled around my mom at night).

Saturday was sunny, but cold. I ran a few errands on foot, and then dug out the car, so that Friday’s snow wouldn’t freeze down when Sunday’s freezing rain hit. Definitely a good call, because Sunday was miserable. The plows were out all day, scraping down to pavement and then sanding, very conscientious, before Monday’s next snowstorm hit.

Sunday was nasty, freezing rain all day. I was glad to stay in, work on script coverages, and read. And keep working on packing up decorations. I’ve somehow misplaced two boxes – the decorations came OUT of them, so I don’t see how I could misplace them in this finite space.

After 10 years, I had the packing/unpacking down to a system, because of the way it fit into the Christmas Closet in the storage area over the garage. But I have to figure out how it works best here, so it’s a lot of geometry involved, finding out it doesn’t work, and starting over.

It snowed most of Monday. Again, the plows were conscientious about coming around to scrape down to pavement. Once the snow stopped, in the late afternoon, they put down a lot of sand, in preparation for today.

I didn’t get much done yesterday. I couldn’t concentrate. I did work up some notes on The Big Project, finding a way to integrate a new idea into the current outline, and giving it room to create another big arc (if I decide that’s what I want), or maybe even a spin-off.

I plowed through the email that had stacked up. Outlined some specialty blog posts. Spent some time on the acupressure mat. Worked on script coverage. Started on the print books in one of the categories I’m judging. I have to contact my book review editor; for some reason, I can’t find the links to upload the two reviews I just worked on. I also have to get back to the search for someone to fix the car today, so I can set that up for next week or so.

Made a black bean soup from the Moosewood recipe – very good, and easy. That recipe will become a staple recipe in my repertoire.

The Chewy order finally arrived; I felt sorry for the driver. The delay in delivery is not a problem at all – I’d rather the drivers stayed safe. The way Fed Ex lies about the delivery is not okay. Just tell me it’s delayed; don’t keep insisting it’s coming “today” as they did Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Target order – which is five small, but necessary items – is coming in three different boxes. And I’ll have to put in another order with Chewy this week for the cat litter (the one that arrived was for food – we’re good for the next nine weeks). The Goddess Provisions box arrived, filled with good stuff.

I’ve received so many oracle decks in the past few years, between Tamed Wild and Goddess Provisions, that I think, in spring, I’ll give away the ones with which I don’t connect strongly/don’t use. As I’m unpacking stuff and setting up the office/bookcases/ reading nooks, I will put aside the ones I want to give away, and then set it up in spring, when it’s easier to get to the post office.

Once I post here, I’m off to do some work on The Big Project, to try to get back on track with that. I’m way behind where I wanted to be at this point; however, I really like the quality of the writing. Then, I’ll write up the scoring sheets for the entries I read last night, and get back to the script coverage. I have to get a lot read this week if I want to make my nut this pay period (and I’m pretty sure I’ll fall short, but I’m so damn exhausted, and it’s not fair to the writers if I’m not in top form to write up the coverage).

I need to get back on track with THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, too, but that can happen this weekend. And I need to get some LOIs out.

Later this month, I need to get back to working on the new editions of the Topic Workbooks, so they can start re-releasing. I was so thrilled with the new covers, and now I’m having second thoughts that they might be too busy, using photographs instead of line drawings. The original covers are too similar; these new covers are too different, and the tiny logo in the corner doesn’t really tie them together enough. I’ll have to mull that over. Although I’m not going to go for a re-design during a Venus retrograde because that’s simply not wise. But I can think about it and consider options and styles, and how I really want these workbooks to sit in the world. They are my steadiest sellers, so I want them to be both useful and easy on the eye.

Today is bitterly cold. It was supposed to snow all day, but it’s sunny right now. I’m just grateful the power is still on!

Charlotte woke me at 3:33 AM, wanting attention, and the minute Tessa heard her, Tessa started, in full voice. I grabbed the feather bed and moved to the couch, grumpy that I had to leave my cozy fleece sheets, but not wanting Tessa to wake the neighbors at that hour. I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew, it was 7 AM and more snow had fallen. Poor Willa got the short end of the stick this morning – no attention AND late breakfast. I had weird dreams on the couch – busy dreams, not stress dreams, at least. But I still felt like I’d already put in a full day by the time I woke up.

It’s supposed to be a little warmer tomorrow, and cloudy, so the plan (so far) tomorrow late morning is to pack up as many of the library books as I can carry and return them, and pick up the books that have come in. I’ll probably go across the street to the college library in the next few days. I have some digging I need to do in their shelves. Best to do it before classes start up again next week.

I hope the virus numbers go down enough in spring and summer that I can work IN these two libraries a couple of times a week. The spaces are so terrific, I want to utilize them. But not now. Now, I’m isolating as much as possible.

Stay safe and healthy. May you have the energy you need to both get through the day and create.

Tues. Jan. 4, 2022: Back to the Page

imageg courtesy of Nile via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Clear and cold

Happy New Year! I hope yours was everything you wanted it to be.

The car failed inspection on Thursday, but I have 60 days to get it fixed by a registered garage. Now, if only one of them would work on Volkswagens. . .

Finished up script coverages on Thursday afternoon, and was able to take the entire three day weekend off. I stayed off social media, too, although I hopped online a bit when I heard that Betty White had died. What a shame she didn’t make it to 100.

Friday, I did a run to the post office, the library, and the liquor store (on foot). A good friend send a birdfeeder that’s supposed to attach to the window, so one can see the birds. I will try to get it up this week. Kitty TV.

Made roast duck for New Year’s Eve. It was very good. With potatoes and steamed vegetables. We still have plenty of stollen, so we had that for dessert. I’d made our favorite devilled eggs to snack on, and we did the traditional smoked herring before midnight. There was a small party in the house next door, but mostly, it was quiet in the neighborhood.

We watched the ball come down in Times Square online, and toasted in the New Year with prosecco. I let the old year out of the back door a little before midnight, and then the new year in the front door just after. Too bad they don’t have First Footers here. There were some fireworks in the distance, but nothing close and disturbing. Burned the second bayberry candle, for luck and prosperity.

I was very disappointed to see that NYC went ahead with letting people into Times Square, and how irresponsibly people behaved. A good many of them could be dead in the coming few weeks. Will they think this was worth death?

I used to watch the ball come down from my window, in my NYC apartment. I could watch them get the ball ready, too. Then, the years I had Broadway shows on New Year’s Eve night, I couldn’t get home in time for midnight, because it was blocked off, even if you lived there. So I was forced to go to a party or an overpriced restaurant until after the square cleared out. I’m glad I had the experience of seeing it from my window, but don’t miss the chaos. That’s probably why I still always feel so unsettled. That desperate energy of people trying too hard to have a good time.

I’d started taking New Year’s Eve off and leaving the city a few years before I moved out. Sometimes just to be with my mom; sometimes to go to a yoga retreat. Then, shows started cancelling the evening shows and only have matinees, because people couldn’t get to the theatre, or, after, had to go all the way up and cut through Central Park to get anywhere else.

The chaos takes the fun out of it, and it puts too much strain on all the services that have to work that night.

Got to bed a little before one, woke up again at three, and then Tessa woke me at five. I was grumpy and out of sorts. Tried to do the fire and ice ritual, but the ice maker wasn’t working. Then, I realized that the first day of the New Year fell on the dark moon. So the natural dark moon energy of releasing was battling the desire to start fresh we have in the new year.

So I stopped fighting it and read all day. Except when I made lemon mousse, and later, did the baked salmon in the lemon-mustard-brown-sugar-cumin glaze.

Over the weekend, I read THE TWELVE JAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Donna Andrews, laughing out loud at a lot of it. And then I read the second and third of Emily Flynn’s books, DEAD GORGEOUS and END OF THE ROADIE, both of which were excellent: writing, plotting, characters. I really like her work.

Sunday, I did some work on The Big Project, cleaning up what I’ve worked on so far, so I could dive back into it. I’m behind where I want to be, so I need to double down on it in the next few weeks. But I’m happy with the quality, the tone, the plot, the characters.

I was disappointed to learn that 365 Women a Year is not calling for projects for 2022. I hoped to write a play about Marie and Squire Bancroft, well-known Victorian actors, for them this year. There’s no reason I can’t still write it, but pitching it to 365 would have given me momentum.

I’m doing an Excel spreadsheet (oh, horrors) with details of the various scripts ready for submission, so that I can get back on track with it this year. Details on length, characters, production history, etc. I have 21 plays that can go out there and keep earning their keep after their initial readings or productions, and I have a handful I’ve pulled because I’ve outgrown them, and the market is in a different direction. I’ll do another one for the radio plays, and then a third one for the screenplays. I wanted to focus on creating and stockpiling, and that’s what I’ve done. Now, things need a polish, and need to get out into the world to earn their way.

A conversation with author and illustrator Dewi Hargreaves about Hope Clark’s 13-in-Play made me realize I need to get that back up to speed again. 13 pieces out at any given time, so the work earns its keep. The new version of THE WRITERS MARKET arrived, and I will go through it, cover-to-cover, making notes, and then work my way through pitches and/or submissions wherever I think it’s appropriate. Of course, I’ll have to cross check the information with the websites of each place, but that should get me back on track with keeping submissions out there properly, as I create new work. Almost all the new work I have on tap for this year is long form, not short form, and I need to mix it up a bit more.

The first shipment for the contest I’m judging has arrived, and I’m at work on those pieces, too. I have two book reviews to write and submit, and then get my next assignments from that editor.

Monday morning, Tessa got me up around 5:30. I fed the cats, did the usual longhand writing session. Expanded the morning yoga practice by a few more asanas. Extra-long meditation session.

After the shower, I sat down and wrote just over 3100 words on The Big Project, and I liked most of them, which is a good way to start the day, the week, the month, the year.

Headed to the library to pick up/drop off books. It was darn cold. It kept looking like it wanted to snow, but it didn’t smell like snow, and didn’t snow.

In the afternoon, I caught up on email. I sent off a grant proposal. I doubt I’ll land the grant; it’s unlikely they’d give it to a genre writer, thinking they’re “not serious enough” and my work samples were comic noir mystery/fantasy and mystery. But I have zero chance if I don’t try, so it was worth putting it together and sending it off.

Read two scripts. Should have written them up, but was too tired. Too tired to start on the contest entries, too.

But all in all, it was a good start to the day, week, month, year.

The answers to the GDR questions are posted here, if you’re interested, and if you want to post your own.

Back to the page now, to get the day’s quota done on The Big Project. Once I’ve hit that, I can decide how to structure the rest of today. A lot of it will be taken up with script coverage, but I have to run down the street to get eggs from Cumberland Farms, and then maybe take down the decorations out on the front porch. Rather than taking everything down on Thursday, I’m doing the outer rooms, and then getting the big tree, etc., down on the 6th. We have to figure out how we’re going to stash it all until next year, so it doesn’t take up all the closet space and hall space. Geometry. Fun times.

Tessa didn’t wake me this morning; I woke up all on my own, a little after 5:30. Heaven!

Back to the page, and I hope you’re having a good start.

Wed. Dec. 29, 2021: A Day at the Desk

image courtesy of voltamax via pixabay.com

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Waning Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Snowing

Yesterday was kind of a mixed day. I did more admin work than I planned in the morning, which cut into the writing time, but it needed to be done. I need to move admin later in the day, because it siphons off too much creative energy if I do it in the morning.

It cleared up enough mid-morning for me to gather the rolly cart and a few bags and walk to Big Y. It’s not that far, about ¾ of a mile. Because the streets are one-way around here, the necessary curlicues one has to take on the roads make it farther in the car. It’s a pretty straight shot on foot. Plus, I looked in store windows and art spaces and walked by Ramunto’s Pizza, which always smells so wonderful. I haven’t tried them yet; they are on my list.

Picked up my mom’s prescription at CVS, then went next door to Big Y. The carts have wider rims, so the hooks on my rolly cart didn’t work, and I had to stash my cart inside the bigger cart instead of hanging it off the end, like I’ve done in other stores. But I didn’t need much, although I bought more than I planned.

I found a duck, which is exciting, although I think I will cook it for New Year’s Eve, rather than New Year’s Day.  I’ll do the baked salmon on the Day instead, which will balance better with the Eggs Benedict breakfast anyway.

It wasn’t bad hauling everything back in the rolly cart, but I definitely had to take a rest when I got back. Everyone was masked and distancing, so it was less stressful than it might have otherwise been.

I mean, when I lived in NYC, I used the rolly cart all the time to go to the store (even though ALL the grocery stores offered delivery). I had the rolly cart with me in San Francisco, back in the 80s, when I used to have to walk to and from the various stores. I just can’t buy as much as I can when I have the car, and with the pandemic numbers going up, the safety mechanisms being rolled back because all the government cares about is corporate profits, I’m not thrilled with the idea of shopping more often. But needs must, and hopefully, I can get the car fixed in the next few weeks. Once that’s done, I’ll do a couple of major grocery shops to restock long-term supplies,

And the walk is good for me.

Used the ham bone from the Christmas ham, along with kale and navy beans and sundried tomatoes, to make soup. It turned out well. Not a lot of leftovers. Maybe enough for two more meals. But that’s fine. When that’s used up, I’ll make the Moosewood Recipe for Black Bean soup I’ve been wanting to try. I have all the ingredients.

However, I do have leftover kale. Since I am not a big kale fan (although I’m trying to use it more often, because it’s so healthy), I have to figure out what to do with the rest of it. The Berkshires is obsessed with kale, so I’m sure I’ll find a recipe quickly.

Puttered around rather than doing my work, but hey, this was supposed to be my vacation week, and that is what my brain and body want.

I could feel the tensions influenced by the bone crusher square, and, being aware of that, made me aware of CHOOSING to be less reactive to tensions and frustrations. More of a sense of “Okay, this is bugging me, but it’s not that big a deal and not worth an argument, so why don’t I make that choice instead? It avoids a fight, but I’m also not rolling over.” Knowing the tensions in the square make poor choices/rash reactions likely, I can take a breath and choose not to react that way. That’s what meant about using astrology as a tool, rather than an excuse. I could have behaved like a jerk and just used the bone crusher square as an excuse. Instead, I was aware of the way it negatively influences, and made choices that were better in the larger context instead.

You know, the whole acting-like-a-grownup thing. Only understanding why certain tensions and pressures are stronger on a particular day.

Got my script coverage done and read another script, which I will write up today. I need to read/write up two scripts today/tomorrow and one more tomorrow in order to finish and take New Year’s weekend off. I planned only the remaining two, but I was requested for a coverage. That’s always an honor, so of course I said yes. In the information notes, the writer said my notes on two previous scripts had given this writer “a lot of strength to keep writing” which is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.  I sometimes wonder if I care too much about each script, but notes like this make it worthwhile, because it means my suggestions are genuinely helpful to the writer. And that’s the point of this – helping them with their craft, so they can share wonderful stories with the world.

I heard, last night, that City Ballet in NYC cancelled the rest of the NUTCRACKER run, due to COVID. They usually end on New Year’s Eve anyway, so it’s not that much earlier, but still disturbing, especially since one of my best friends works there. I contacted him; his last test on Tuesday was negative, so fingers crossed he hasn’t caught a breakthrough case.

Will finish “Dawn and Dorothy” today, and, hopefully, send it off tomorrow. It’s snowing again right now, so I will put off going to get the car inspected until it clears up later this morning. I’m grateful to have the flexibility.

Angry at the CDC for rolling back isolation time because corporations want to force people back to work. Yes, the science grows and changes as more is learned about how the variants mutate. But CEOs should not be dictating this. If anything, people need MORE time off, not less, and it must be paid. All of this talk about how Biden’s economy is booming – too many people are being sacrificed for it. It’s disgusting.

It was very discouraging to see so many people who should know better post photos of their irresponsible holiday behavior. No wonder we can’t get this under control.

Someone on Twitter talked about instead of party spaces, having library spaces where one can read all day in comfy chairs, and waiters pass canapes. A Reading Resort! Sounds wonderful to me.

Back to the page. I won’t get anything done on the Big Project today, but maybe tomorrow or Friday, I can get back to it. I’m behind where I want to be, but the foundational work I’ve done is vital to being able to write it smoothly when I go back to it.

Have a good one, people. Mask up, distance, stay safe.

Tues. Dec. 28, 2021: Post-Holiday Errands

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Waning Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Rainy and cold

I hope everyone had a good weekend, whether or not you celebrated the Christmas holiday.

Ours was fine: lots of food, lots of books. We were tired of the foods we “traditionally” had for the Christmas Eve and Day meals. So for the Eve, it was baked trout, baked whipped potatoes with garlic and herbs, and spinach. For the day, it was a baked ham with a bourbon-molasses glaze. We don’t eat much pork anymore, but my mom wanted ham, so we had ham. I didn’t feel all that great afterwards, but not too bad.

Desserts were stollen on the Eve and chocolate mousse on the day, and that was all good.

We usually do presents on the Eve and stockings on the Day, but, again, my mom wanted to wait and do everything on the Day, so that’s what we did.

We had fun opening things. Tessa “helped.” Charlotte and Willa watched from a safe distance. Tessa adored her present – a catnip toy that looks like a gift. Willa and Charlotte didn’t know what to do with theirs. Charlotte figured it out, and then she was afraid someone would take it away.

But most of the time, we just relaxed.

It was perfectly pleasant, although I felt somewhat unsettled the entire time.

I checked in regularly with my friend, who lost her mother the day before Christmas Eve. There’s not much I can do, except give her as much support as possible. The whole world shifts, and it’s painful.

Sunday, I puttered around with paperwork, and getting my email inbox down to 13 emails for a brief, shining moment, before it filled up again. Worked on the blog schedule for some of the blogs, and tried to get ahead a bit on ones that don’t rely on being in the moment. Researched some companies and added them to the list that will get the postcard mailing in January. Looked through some article guidelines. I’m going to work up some pitches this week, although I won’t send them until the New Year, because it’s just tacky and thoughtless to send them out now. Dived back into the research for “Dawn and Dorothy.” I made a loose writing plan for 2022, which, no doubt, will change by the middle of January. But at least it’s a starting point.

Yesterday, I went to the laundromat. I like to change up my days, but Monday is not a good day. People. The last thing I want, when the virus numbers are back up again, is to be around any more people than necessary. But things got done. Using the rolly cart to go to and from the laundromat is actually easier than getting everything down to the parking lot, loading the car, driving to the laundromat, unloading, reloading, driving back, etc. I just roll the cart down the block, around the corner, down another half a block, and there I am. Plus, yesterday, their parking lot was like a skating rink. I could have fallen and gotten seriously hurt. The sidewalk was clear. Much easier.

While the laundry was going, I make some organizing lists, and worked on a couple of arcs for The Big Project. There are three major arcs that have to be resolved, one after the other, along with less-important, longer-reaching arcs.

A little more than half the neighbors took down all their holiday decorations already. We are keeping ours up until Twelfth Night. That is a tradition we intend to uphold this year.

We never did put a tree topper on our tree this year. None of the ones we have looked right. And the tree looks just fine without it.

Read Colleen Cambridge’s MURDER AT MALLOWAN HALL and loved it. Stayed up until nearly midnight to finish it (I think that was on Christmas Day). I hope there are more books in the series.

Read a book by a new-to-me author set in Venice, which I liked. Put aside another book I started, also set in Venice, that just wasn’t doing it for me.

Started reading Sally Wright’s PURSUIT AND PERSUASION, which I’m enjoying.

Did my errands on foot. My mom won $20 on a scratch ticket that was in her stocking, so I picked that up for her. Mailed thank you notes and birthday cards at the post office. Dropped off and picked up a stack of books at the library. It was pretty cold and windy, but still nice to be out.

Got irritated by an author on Twitter. He’d followed; I followed back, as I do with most authors. The first interaction was a long DM from his “publicist” asking me to read and review the guy’s book. It was a long, involved DM, with a tone making it clear that they were doing me a favor. The publicist is male, of course, and the DM was typical male mansplaining privilege.

Okay, wrong on so many levels. First of all, I’m a paid reviewer by publications. Occasionally, when it doesn’t violate my contract terms, I can review a book for free, usually by someone I know, because the publications that pay me don’t want me reviewing books by people I know. But it is work. It relates to my job, and is therefore unpaid labor. I’m not doing unpaid labor for a stranger. Second of all, how often have I publicly stated that if the first interaction from a new mutual follow is a DM trying to sell me something (or ask for free labor), that’s an immediate unfollow, and often a block? Often. If the idiot can’t be bothered to do due diligence, not someone I want to deal with. Third, a professional publicist would know better than to pull crap like that, because that’s negative public relations, not positive public relations. So either the guy’s amateur hour (which means I hope the author’s not paying him much) or it’s the author using a pseudonym as a publicist. Fourth, if the social media is set to “automatically” DM any new mutual followers marketing crap, again, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, and are not someone with whom I wish to interact on any level. Fifth, don’t ask someone to work in the week between the holidays, unless you’ve done your due diligence and know that they are actually working. It’s rude.

That author also goes on my “do not ever buy or read” list.

Caught up with my lovely postman so I could give him his cookie packet. He was pleased.

Read a script, which I will write up today. Grabbed some more scripts to read the next few days. I’m reading less this week, but I need to read something.

Had Doordash deliver Chinese from my favorite place in Williamstown. One order for last night’s dinner (their duck lo mein is one of my favorites), and a chicken pad thai for today (yes, I know the latter is not Chinese food, but it’s from the same restaurant).

It’s clearing up, so I will bundle up, get the rolly cart, and head to CVS to pick up my mom’s prescription, and Big Y to pick up a few things I need for the meals over New Year’s. It’s a bit of a hike, but I’m trying to preserve the car until I can get it looked at.

Today, the “bonecrusher” square supposedly ends, and Jupiter goes into Pisces tonight/tomorrow, which, in my chart anyway, is supposed to be a good thing. I could use a break, and I’ll take any support from the stars I can get!  😉

On the agenda today, after I get back from the grocery store, is writing up the script coverage, and then finishing the short version of “Dawn and Dorothy.” I hope to get some work done on The Big Project, but we’ll see. This is supposed to be a week of more rest than work for me, but there’s always work to do.

Debating whether I’ll do a mini retreat over New Year’s. New Year’s is usually a tough few days for me, on multiple levels, and I want to be as gentle with myself as possible.

Jeremy Rock Smith is teaching an online cooking session on the 4th; seriously considering taking it, because I love learning from him. He’s a wonderful teacher, in addition to being a quality human being.

That’s the latest; off to the store now. Since I can only buy what I can carry, I have to stick to my list!

Hope your weekend was great, and that the days between the holidays are peaceful.

Wed. Dec. 22, 2021: Recovering From a Mac & Cheese Coma

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Waning Moon

Chiron Direct (as of 12/21)

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Rainy and raw

image courtesy of SocialButterflyMMG via pixabay.com

Usually, Tuesday is the long post. This week, it’s Wednesday, because yesterday was the Winter Solstice, my big holiday, and I decided to enjoy my holiday.

So today’s our day to sit down and have a catching up natter.

Friday was a beautiful day, weather-wise. A little windy, but warm enough to keep the door from the porch into the house open.

I drafted the first half of the Marie Collier play, and then walked down to the post office to mail some letters, and picked up wine on my way back. It was lovely to enjoy the good weather, knowing that a storm was coming in.

Went through some jewelry of mine, looking for something specific, a certain type of chain that I want to use for a talisman necklace I’m making. Couldn’t find it, so I’ll keep looking in thrift stores. There’s no deadline. I’d rather wait and get the right thing than any old thing.

The last charm for the talisman necklace arrived, along with another pieced I’d ordered, from An Enchanted Creature, on ETSY. I’d had a good experience ordering before. I hadn’t expected these pieces to arrive until the 27th of December, so it was a pleasant surprise to get them a full 10 days earlier.

Saturday was supposed to snow all day, so that’s how I planned. They were out in force in the morning, sanding streets and sidewalks, which is a good thing. The sky made a few half-hearted attempts with some snowflakes in the morning, but it wasn’t until lunchtime that it got serious about it. But it only snowed for a couple of hours before it switched over to rain.

We put up the rest of the ornaments on the tree, and put up the Santas on a shelf unit we moved into the front hall. They don’t look right there.

Did some reading, diving back into the Dorothy Parker/Dawn Powell research, so I can finish the third and final play of the year.

Sunday was a gray, gloomy day. We moved the Santa collection into the living room, rearranging a few things, and it looks better there. Plus, we can enjoy it.

I finished the draft of the Marie Corelli play. It took some fun turns, and all four characters are for actresses over 40. It can sit for a few days before revision, and I’ll get it out before the end of the week (today or tomorrow, most likely).

The fruit peel arrived, from Fleet Farm! That was quick. I didn’t expect it until around New Year’s. So there will be stollen for Christmas. I’ll make it either today or tomorrow.

I made the molasses spice cookies. Wound up being around 10 dozen molasses spice, which I did not expect. I also used one of the packs of fruit peel to make fruitcake cookies, which turned out well, and are a nice contrast to the other cookies on the platter.

I’m going to make the apricot sage cookies for us, a small batch, to test them. If they work, and I can make enough of them quickly, I’ll add them in to the platters next year.

Was too tired to cook, so ordered Chinese from the local place, and watched DoorDash drive it the six blocks over. It’s just far enough that it’s too far for me to walk and keep it hot.

The food was good. We put on the lights and candles and enjoyed the Fourth of Advent.

With Venus going retrograde, I’m trying to be quiet and careful. We’ve got the “bonecrusher” square, which I do not have the energy to deal with this week. Uranus is still retrograde. And then Mercury goes retrograde early in February. So basically, from now until February 3, I want to stay as quiet and hermit-like as possible.

Monday morning, I got up to discover that some of the battery-operated candles in the windows had turned themselves back on overnight.

Around here, the post office does an early morning package delivery run, about 7 AM. Two packages were dropped off: one from a friend (the one that had gone from NYC to Puerto Rico to Akron), and the next two books for review.

Tessa was fascinated by the packages. Willa was more interested in the postman. Charlotte ran around in circles at the top of the stairs. It was a very exciting start to their day.

I struggled to clear the ice off the car, and then we headed to the RMV to update the car registration and our licenses. I had been going back and forth about the appointment with the main RMV administration; they kept saying that we could not do it in one appointment, we could not go together (my mom is 97, it’s not like she can do this on her own), and so on and so forth.

We showed up for the appointment. Everyone was very nice. We got everything done. We don’t even need to get a new registration document, since it’s all updated in the system. When the registration has to be renewed next year, the right info will be there. Instead of issuing us new physical licenses, they told us to write the new address on the back; it’s in the system, and since it’s a real ID, no problem.

So all that stress was for nothing.

But I’m grateful they were so helpful, and that it’s done.

Then, it was off to CVS and to Big Y, to get the rest of what I needed for the Solstice dinner, Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day dinner. Got everything I needed.

We made it home. There are still dashboard lights going on that need to be dealt with. I’m going to contact the garage in Williamstown next week to see if I can get an appointment the first week of the new year.

I realized I’d forgotten a couple of errands, so headed back out on foot to the post office and the bank.

By then, I was wiped out, as much from stress as anything else.

But I rallied, in the late afternoon, to do the script coverage.

Slept in on Tuesday morning. It was Winter Solstice. Chocolate panettone for breakfast, which was fun. I prepped two cookie platters for the libraries, and delivered them on foot: one across the street, to the college library, and one down the street to the public library. I’d sealed each cookie separately in a cookie sleeve, for maximum safety so the platter could be out in the break room, and people could sort through cookies to find what they like.

Both libraries were delighted.

The weather was gorgeous, and it was nice to be out, knowing that storms are coming in for the next few weeks. The weather is so changeable here.

Came home, finished up some script coverage I hadn’t finished the previous day. Changed from flannel sheets to fleece sheets.

Prepped the cookie platters for the neighbors and delivered them. They were pleased.

This year’s platters have chocolate chip cookies, orange cranberry cookies, currant oatmeal cookies, molasses spice cookies, and fruitcake cookies. It’s a nice variety.

Baked the honey spice cake. It was a little underbaked, even though the toothpick put in the center came up clear. It’s still good, but I wanted great. Maybe I should have put a chocolate silk glaze over it. Because chocolate can fix almost anything.

For dinner, I made Moosewood’s recipe for macaroni and cheese, from scratch. I cheated a little and added bacon into the mac & cheese. But it was a lot of dairy. The cheese sauce had four cups of milk and 10 oz. of various cheddars; there were breadcrumbs and then more cheddar over it, before it was baked. It’s really good, and we have a lot of leftovers, but it’s a lot of dairy.

Did the Solstice ritual of waiting for it to get dark, then, starting in the north, lighting all the candles and holiday lights, clockwise around the house, until it’s all lit up with candles and twinkle lights. I spilled red wax on the white windowsill in the kitchen – that will be not much fun to fix. But it was so pretty, and we sat without electric lights on (except for the holiday twinkle lights) all evening.

Since we no longer have a working fireplace, I took the big cauldron out on the back balcony and burned last year’s greens, slowly, one small branch at a time, so I wouldn’t worry the neighbors. It was a good way to let last year, and the Cape life, go.

Left the battery-operated candles on all night, to light the longest night of the year.

I was up earlier than Tessa this morning! I couldn’t find her and was frantic. She was still asleep, in her favorite red chair with Panda, and was very confused as to why I was awake before she was. The fleece sheets were too hot. I kept kicking off the covers in the night. Quite a difference from the other house, where upstairs was never warm after about September, no matter how high the heat was cranked.

The plan was to go to the laundromat, but it was raining, so I decided not to. I’ll go tomorrow or next week.

I’m going to do some work on the Big Project, and maybe THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. Then, I have to polish the Marie Corelli play and get it out the door. Then, it’s more script coverage. I have coverage work today and tomorrow, and then I’m off until Monday, and I hope next week will be a light week, coverage-wise. I want to dig into The Big Project and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

I also want to finish up a bunch of admin work before the end of the year.

I’m preparing to hunker down for the winter, only going to the grocery store, the post office, and the library, both due to weather and the pandemic. I’m frustrated that the Dems aren’t doing what needs to be done to curb the pandemic, or the right-wing extremists. People worked like crazy during a pandemic to get them elected. They need to deliver. No matter what corporate sellouts like Manchin and Sinema do.

Anyway, I have to get back to the page and get some work done. Books don’t write themselves, and I still have a living to earn.

Have a good one!

Fri. Dec. 17, 2021: Snow Coming In!

image courtesy of Stijn Dijkstra via pexels.com

Friday, December 17, 2021

First Day of Full Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was challenging, to say the least.

I managed to do a grocery run, although the car is not happy. I’d gone to a store I don’t really like, but it’s close, and they claimed to have the fruit peel. Of course, they didn’t, but I stocked up on a bunch of stuff, since I was there.

Came home, unpacked. Went on Nuts.com, which had been recommended. The fruit peel was about double what I pay in the store for the same amount, but I figured, well, online. They promised free shipping over a certain amount (which I easily hit) if I signed up for their mailing list. Only they wouldn’t put the free shipping through because “It’s only for new customers.” Well, that would be me, since I’ve never ordered from them before.

So I cancelled the order. And unsubscribed from their list.

I went on the Fleet Farm website. They had the brand of fruit peel I like, at the same price I paid in the store. I ordered my several pounds of it, the shipping was reasonable, and it was still half of what I would have paid at Nuts.com, even with the free shipping.

They said there were shipping delays, so I figured okay, it’ll probably get here around New Year’s or a little after. We’ll just have our stollen late this year, and eat it into February.

They shipped it within two hours.

Yeah, worthwhile company.

I lost too many hours in the afternoon trying to get the paperwork I need from the insurance for the RMV appointment to update the title on the car with the new address. Can’t get it inspected without it, and have to do that by the end of the year. Each wouldn’t give me what I needed without something from the other, who wouldn’t give it to me until I had the thing from the other that they wouldn’t give me without what they wouldn’t give me. Nightmare.  As, no doubt, the RMV appointment will be on Monday.

After all that chaos, I still managed to bake 8 dozen orange cranberry cookies and 6 dozen oatmeal currant lace cookies. They came out well, which helped me regain some of my lost baking confidence after the bread went all cattywampus the other day.

Worked on the shape of the Marie Corelli play. I hope to sit down and write the first draft today.

I’d made red lentil chili in the crockpot. It was spicier than I expected, but really good.

The Knowledge Unicorns did their Winter Holiday pageant for the parents last night. Via Zoom. The kids had brainstormed, written, designed, costumed their various spaces, rehearsed, and put it together via Zoom. It was a parody of every bad holiday pageant you’ve ever witnessed or imagined, along with sharply pointed satire at politicians, book banning/censoring, women’s rights, anti-vaxxers, and gun violence. It was brilliant. The parents and I were all so proud of them. They basically took all the stresses and fears and enraging politicking since the pandemic started and turned it into something creative, wonderful, and cathartic. That kids like that exist gives me hope for the future.

Charlotte now sits on my lap while I work at the computer, for a good portion of the day, whether Zoom is on or not. It’s pretty funny. She’s also made a lot of progress with the bed-making. It used to terrify her. We’ve now turned it into a game, with plenty of belly rubs and head scratches and cuddles. Yes, it takes longer, but now she’s not afraid of moving blankets anymore, so it’s worth it.

Astrologically, we have a full moon in Gemini coming up tomorrow. And then a square of several planets known as “the Bonecrusher” which I am totally not up for. But the planets are gonna do what they do, and I just have to understand the possibilities and make smarter choices. Somehow, an RMV appointment during a Bonecrusher square does not hit me as the best choice, but needs must.

There are rumors that the new virus variant is so transmissible, there will need to be shutdowns over the winter. Gov. Baker didn’t have the balls to do a full shutdown the first time around (it was a “stay-at-home”, for all people bitched they were quarantined — people who obviously don’t understand what a quarantine entails), so I doubt he will this time. But we’re pretty much isolating anyway, except for a couple of ventures out for groceries, books, and wine, so we’ll deal with whatever. But Biden needs to cancel student debt AND we need another stimulus payment. No matter what.

Back to the page. I want to work on the Marie Corelli play and the Big Project. I have to make the dough for the molasses spice cookies, so I can bake them later. Not sure if I’ll attempt the apricot sage cookies today or tomorrow. They are a new-to-me cookie, and I’m not sure I can make enough of them for the platters, but we’ll see.

I have to walk down to the wine store for a few things, and mail some cards in response to unexpected cards I received. It’s supposed to snow all weekend, so any errands need to happen today, or wait until Monday. And Monday is stacked to the gills as it is, so that I can take Tuesday off for the Winter Solstice.

I also have two scripts to cover today, and I’ll see what else is in the queue. I probably have to work on coverage all weekend, so I can take the Solstice and then next weekend off.

Still have some ornaments to put up. It’ll get done. Somehow.

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

Wed. Dec. 15, 2021: A Quiet Day

image by DGlodawksa via pixabay.com

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and mild

Short post today (is that a sigh of relief I hear? 😊)

Yesterday was about getting the review out, invoicing (and I was immediately paid, and even got a year-end bonus, which was lovely). My next two books for review are being sent out.

Slogged through over 500 emails, after which I rewarded myself with a couple of chocolate chip cookies. But at least I’m almost caught up. I hate starting the New Year with a backlog of emails. And having 800 emails stack up over a weekend is a lot. Most of them were quickly dealt with; a few needed more attention and got it. I’m careful to keep up with email on regular business days, so it’s not like anything was falling by the wayside.

It was a lovely day, so I ran some errands on foot: mailed a bill, took some checks to the bank, walked up a delightful street I hadn’t yet explored on my way to the library. Yesterday was big leaf clean up here – they went down our block and got all the leaves (which meant leaf-blowing, but it’s not a daily thing here, so I can cope). The little street I explored was also having their leaf clean up. I asked the guy in the truck – the whole street gets together and hires the landscaper, who works his way down the street and removes all the leaves from the yards.

Unlike on Cape, where they leaf blow every day into a pile that the wind then redistributes, and I was the only one on my street who ever actually raked up all the leaves and took them to the dump. In other words, I did the leaf removal for the whole street. Unpaid. Because, eventually, all those leaves ended up in my yard.

Not my problem anymore.

Had a nice chat with the librarians, and a nice walk back.

Finished reading ONE LAST CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, which was a lovely holiday read. The author is a little overly fond of exclamation points in narrative, but the rest of it so lovely that I could deal with it. (I find too many exclamation points in narrative rather than dialogue exhausting. In dialogue, they indicate cadence and reveal character).

Got some work done on script coverage, but was too exhausted to really focus on it. The writer deserves my strong attention, not me pushing through when I’m overtired.

Instead, I put some of the decorations up on the big tree. The advice is to do it with the lights on, but the lights are rather bright, and it was difficult to see. Now, in daylight, I will have to move a few things as I add more! But every ornament has a story, and it’s fun to relive the memories each year when we decorate the tree.

Also figuring out where to put ornaments and things that don’t go on the tree. Since the space is new to us, and we’re trying to figure out how to make things work in it. Which is fun.

Didn’t feel like cooking, so ordered in from a restaurant I’d previously liked. This choice was not good – it was heavy and not prepared the way I liked it. Also, I’d been craving red meat, which I rarely eat any more, and that’s what I ordered. Since it wasn’t prepared properly, it was even more of a mistake than it would be otherwise. Shoe leather with sour cream, anyone?

It felt like a lump in my stomach, and I countered it with ginger tea, but overall, my body handled it better than expected, so there must have been something it needed.

Knowledge Unicorns was fun. Some of them had made Santa Lucia wreaths to wear on the 13th, with battery-operated candles instead of real ones, so that they didn’t set themselves or their houses on fire. They had fun adding that festival into their holiday calendar. Tomorrow is the Winter Holiday pageant they’ve written and rehearsed and will perform online together. I can’t wait.

Slept reasonably well; up once around 4 because I wasn’t feeling great, but the cats remained asleep, and didn’t get me up until a little after 6.

Did my first longhand writing session of the day and yoga and all that. Got some bread on the first rise. I will do some work on The Big Project, and then work on script coverages today.

This afternoon is the final Remote Chat. I’m sad the group is ending; it got me through a lot. I met great people there, and I hope I will stay in touch with at least some of them.

I might get some more baking done today, but I doubt it. oOther than the bread. I’ll have to get a lot done tomorrow and Friday instead. I’ll probably deliver to the neighbors over the weekend, and then to the libraries, post office, etc., on Monday. I have a bunch of admin stuff to finish up this week, too.

Back to the page.

Tues. Dec. 14, 2021: A Twisty Weekend

image courtesy of WaldNob via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and mild

Well, let’s just say, it’s been quite the few days.

Friday, I decided to do a hail Mary pass on the car and see if putting in a new battery solved the issues with the EPC light coming on, which my research indicated was sometimes the case. I joined AAA at the tier which promises roadside battery replacement back in November. Not that they’ve sent me my membership card. I’m still carrying around a printout of the email.

So I jump through all the ridiculous hoops on the AAA website to get the quote, to approve the quote, to get them to email me the quote, and to put through the request.

The guy shows up in 20 minutes.

To jumpstart the car.

“They no longer do” battery replacement in the Berkshires.

Then WHY DID I HAVE TO DO ALL THAT FUCKING PAPERWORK?  And why was not told this when I specifically chose the AAA tier that included the promise of this service?

The way companies based outside the Berkshires take money from us without providing the services for which we pay around here is appalling.

The guy didn’t even need to give me a jump. The car started.

I took it down the street to the mechanic I trust. Turns out my battery is fine. They ran a diagnostic. Didn’t find anything wrong with it. So the dealer in Pittsfield strung me along for weeks, and I’ve been without a car for WEEKS for no damn reason.

In case the light goes on again, I now have the information of a local guy who specializes in foreign cars.

Because I’m not taking it to the dealer in Pittsfield unless there’s no other choice.

Came home exhausted.

But got back to work in the afternoon, with script coverages, catching up on emails, getting out some LOIs, and the like.

Sendinblue has flagged my entire mailing list for the newsletter. They said there were too many bounces, and it had 0% opening rate. You know when they flagged it? THREE MINUTES after it was sent. I don’t know about you, but it’s often a week or more before I open and read newsletters. According to the dashboard, no one opened the newsletter. Yet I was hearing on social media and via email from a good portion of the list how glad they were the newsletter was up and running again. Also, what my dashboard shows as bounces (which I can either delete or research for updated emails) and what they’re telling me bounced don’t match. At all.

And they won’t let me just fix the bounces. They 86’d the entire list. Including the people who signed up via their contact form on my website.

It’s ridiculous.

I’ve worked with several email platforms over the years, both for myself and for clients. None of them have ever pulled this crap. Sendinblue’s response is they “can’t” only flag the bounced emails. If a certain number (and their number is higher than what shows up on my dashboard) bounce, the whole list is gone.

So I signed up for MailerLite (after several conversation with them), exported the whole list, ditched the Sendinblue contact form on my website and put in the MailerLite, and it looks like we’re good to go. I’m not sure if I should re-send the newsletter – Sendinblue claimed they only allowed it to go to a “sample” before 86-ing the entire list, but they won’t tell me to which addresses. I might do a “Take 2” with new information on the top, and tell people where they can stop reading if they already got the list.

Let’s hope MailerLite actually does what they claim to do.

So that puts MooSend and Sendinblue on my “no way do I want anything to do with them ever again.”

I mean, I do a quarterly newsletter. It’s not like it’s a big strain on any platform. Which was another problem with Sendinblue – quarterly wasn’t going to be enough for them. The list would have been flagged for inactivity after a month– and needed to be deleted and re-entered yet again.

No, thanks.

The company is not willing or able to meet my needs, so I will find someone else who can.

Saturday was a rainy, yucky day. Cold and raw. The storm let up for about a half hour, and I did a run over to Big Y and did a big grocery shop, including what I need for the baking, except for the candied peel, which I’m still struggling to find.

Got everything home and unpacked. Read a bit in the afternoon. Worked on script coverages.

Totally enjoyed PAYBACK’S A WITCH by Lara Harper. Very well done.

A little squirrel came up on the back porch, climbed up onto the bench and knocked on the window. He wanted our apples. No, I didn’t feed the squirrel. I don’t want it to go out on the Squirrel Collective Mind that I feel squirrels, or we’ll be overrun.

Sunday was mild and sunny. Got some script coverage done in the morning. We headed out with the last of the cards, dropped off some library books. The dashboard lights came on again in the car, and it gave a bit of a hiccough. I was worried it would stall out, but it smoothed out again. We went to Colonial Alpaca in Williamstown, so my mom could buy a gift for her friend. Then, it was off to Wild Oats to stock up.

They had a small Dresden stollen, so if I can’t get my hands on candied peel and make my own, at least we can have a little stollen. They also had the Nuremberg Gingerbread that I absolutely love. And it was fresh, not stale and left over from years before.

Got home, and we put up the big tree in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. It looks like a normal-sized tree in this house. It always dominated the Cape house. But it’s just. . .nice here. The stand, as always, was a pain in the ass to put together. I have to see if I can find a stand that works for artificial trees that isn’t so awful.

But it’s much sturdier here than it was on the floor back on Cape, and I might not even need to tie off.

We only got the tree up and the lights on, and lights up on the mantel and the front windows. That was as much as we could get done.

Besides, it gives the cats a chance to get used to the tree. We’re lucky; they’ve always been good with it. I mean, they check it out and they sit under it, but they haven’t been destructive, at least not yet. We let them hang out and “help” when we unpack the decorations, and their special Yuletide toys come out and go under the tree, and we have stuffed ornaments for the bottom branches, so it all works out.

Read two scripts, and most of the next book for review.

Tessa actually let me sleep on Monday morning, until after 6. Progress.

Reshuffled my morning yoga sequence. It didn’t work in the way I expanded it, so I put some of the new sequence at the front of the session, and it works better than sticking them on the end.

I had an excellent morning meditation session. Did not want to get up. Could have sat much longer, instead of 30 minutes.

Got blogs up for the Intent for the Week, for the GDR blog, and for tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice.

Found over 800 emails in my inbox, which is not the way I wanted to start my Monday. I got a couple of “we invite you to apply” emails from companies I’ve never heard of. I will have to see what that’s about. How about, if you like my website so much, we have a conversation about what you’re looking for, and whether we’re a good fit? Instead of “invite to apply.” Which, sent out on a Saturday night, sends off warning bells.

Found a couple of things that should have gone into a friend’s holiday package where Willa “helped” pack it – and she swiped those two things and put them in her stash. I retrieved them, wrapped them, and packed them. My mom packed the gift for her friend. I headed down to the post office (on foot) to send them off. Huge line, but moved fast. Told the clerk how grateful I was that the packages mailed last Thursday were already arriving. She was delighted.

Whenever there’s a line, everyone starts chatting with everyone. Like I said, the post office is the happening place around here. Where you go to find out what’s going on. In Lee, it’s Joe’s Diner. Here, it’s the post office.

Home, and back to work. Wrote up some blog posts. Worked on the tracking sheets for The Big Project. Wrote up two script coverages. Started doing some planning and scheduling for blog posts on various blogs for the new year. I need to start batch blogging for some of the blogs (not this one or Gratitude and Growth, which are dependent on the moment) and work ahead.

In the afternoon, I baked 10 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the holiday baking. Much easier and less stressful in this kitchen than it was on Cape, for some reason. Also, because I’m not doing all-day baking marathons, I think that eases up some of the stress, too. And my feet don’t hurt as much working in this kitchen.

I did use up most of the tins I brought up. I thought I’d brought up another box of them, but maybe not.

On the list for spring’s storage run: More tins for the cookies.

I miss my special china and the snowflake cups/plates/pot I got last year. Oh, well, I’ll get it on one of the summer or fall trips to storage, and we’ll have it for next year.

Read the script for which I’d been requested; it was veery good. It will be a pleasure to write it up. Finished reading the book for review. Will write the review, send it and the invoice off today. Ordered a couple of things off Etsy, from an artisan whose work I like, for something I’m working on for the new year.

Started reading Trisha Ashley’s ONE MORE CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, which Deborah Blake recommended. Thoroughly enjoying it. I wonder if this is the book that will convince my mom to read some of the books she likes on Kindle? She’d love this. I stayed up way too late reading.

Tessa let me sleep until 6:39 this morning. Fed everyone, and curled back up on the couch with the book, instead of doing what I should be doing.

Got through a little over 500 emails. I have to hope the car holds up to do an errand, and then get back to work on the review and the script coverage. Or maybe I’ll do the review/invoice first, and then attempt my errand.

I need to write up a long, complicated report on the script I read last night. On this afternoon’s agenda are the orange-cranberry cookies and the oatmeal lace currant cookies. Then, it’s two more scripts to read.

Those emails “inviting me to apply” that I received over the weekend? Bogus. Had nothing to do with anyone actually paying any attention to what I do or my skills. It was a series of automated emails from several different “recruiters” who are just looking to bump their numbers, not actually looking at actual talent to fill roles. Waste of my time to even open the emails.

Off to attempt productivity, when all I want to do is read that book!

At least my work for copyediting clients is done for the year. It’s only script coverage and the last two plays on deadline, both of which I’m writing in my head a good deal before I try to put anything on the page. The Marie Collier play is only a ten-minute play, so once I sort out some more possibilities in my head, I can just sit down and write it. I’m still working on some Dawn-and-Dorothy arcs, and I need to go back into the research materials a bit. Because the latter is so specifically stylized, it’s harder to pull off.

Have a good one.

Wed. Dec. 8, 2021: The Card Writing Process

image courtesy of pinwhalestock via pixabay.com

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Snowing

Yesterday was a frustrating day, on multiple levels.

I STILL can’t get a mechanic to answer me about the car. INCLUDING THE FUCKING DEALER. What the hell is WRONG with these people? If they’re too incompetent, disorganized, and unethical to give me a written estimate, why would I believe they were even capable of fixing the car? No wonder this area is economically depressed, with that level of unprofessionalism.

However, getting the laundry done wasn’t tough at all. That little upright cart is wonderful.

When I got back, I unloaded and put things away; after breakfast, it looked ominous, so off I trundled to CVS to pick up what needed picking up there, and mail some bills at the post office. It wasn’t bad at all – about a mile and a half round trip, and what I had to carry wasn’t heavy.

Got through a ton of email, and got out a few LOIs. Then found out that the Fearless Ink site was glitching. Of course it was, since that was the one I needed up and working for the LOIs. But my lovely host helped me get it fixed.

Worked on the newsletter. I hope to get a test out later today, and then send out the newsletter either tomorrow or Friday. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here.

I’d gotten a good bit of work done on the outline for The Big Project (at least the details of the first third’s arc; the piece has three major arcs, leading into each other, not in tandem). But I hadn’t gotten any actual writing done on it, or on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. By lunchtime, I accepted the fact it just wasn’t going to happen yesterday.

I spent the afternoon, instead, writing the domestic cards, and got them done. I’ve put aside the cards that go in with the packages. I’ll wrap packages today. I want to get everything out to the post office tomorrow. I still have a couple of things to pick up, which I haven’t been able to do because of the lack of a car. Two gifts, I think I can just walk up to the place where I want to get them, so that’s not an issue, but the other is in Williamstown, and I have to drive.

I enjoy writing cards, but I handwrite everything, and every card has something different written in it, because my relationship with each person is different, so it takes awhile. There weren’t that many cards this year – just over 50. I remember years when I had closer to 500, years when I’d worked on multiple shows and was sending cards to everyone on the contact lists.

There’s choosing the right card for the person (I like to buy a bunch of different boxes of cards), there’s writing it, there’s addressing it, there’s putting the holiday stamp on it. Yes, I’m big on choosing specific stamps. It’s quite the process.

As part of my “letting go of the past” process, there were a bunch of names dropped from this year’s list; people to whom I’ve written cards for years, and never heard back, either by mail or email. Some of them are just people with an “I don’t write cards” policy, which is perfectly valid; however, it’s time for me to stop putting my energy there.

There are a bunch of people who stay on the list, because the winter holidays are the only time we’re in touch, but we’re in touch, and it’s a nice catch up.

Holiday cards are a Big Deal for me. Can you tell?

But they’re done, and there’s a nice big stack on the hall table, ready to go out. I thought of a couple more to write this morning. I still have some holiday stamps left over, so it’s all good.

They’re filming something over at the college across the street. I recognized the production trailers. That’s probably why the clock hasn’t been chiming the last few days – can’t have the clock chime interrupting the take!

Part of me was tempted to wander over and see what was going on, and then I realized how disrespectful that was. These people are WORKING. Having spent enough time on sets, where there’s never enough time to get everything done, the last thing they need is some rando demanding attention, even if said rando is me and I used to work in the business.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. There’d been some talk amongst us, now that the adults and teens are vaxxed and boosted, and the younger kids are getting vaxxed, about some of them going back to in-person learning after the winter holidays. But with the numbers going back up (they doubled in this state in the past week), we’re not. The kids are doing well in their studies, they’re learning more and more widely than they would in school, and, as one of them pointed out, they don’t have to worry they’ll be shot. So, the consensus is everyone stays out of the school buildings this year. The ones who live where online learning is not an option, because they’re trying to force the kids back into school (and then act surprised when people are getting sick) have switched to being home schooled.

I see parents on social media talking about how “angry” they are when they send their kid to school and the kid gets sick. What the hell did they think would happen? Come on, people. Have a little bit of common sense.

Several of the parents are switching off days going in to work, so that one parent is home any given day. Other parents are in situations that have allowed them to continue working remotely. Still other parents have changed jobs, because, in a case where they have to choose between their employer and their child, they choose their child, and they have the skills that allow them so to do.

After Knowledge Unicorns was done for the night, I switched Zooms over to the Annual meeting for the food co-op. They’re really well run, with an outstanding general manager and an engaged, active board. Not a lot of people showed up at the virtual meeting, which I thought showed a lack of responsibility on the membership, but I was glad I was there. And Charlotte, who loves Zoom, had a great time.

I’m really pleased I found them, and it’s an honor to be a part of this organization, that’s active not just within the four walls of the business, but actively trying to make life better in the community.

Tessa let me sleep until nearly 6 this morning. I sent another frustrated email to the dealer, and actually got an automated response back, so maybe, maybe this time someone will actually respond and I can get the damn car fixed.

In the meantime, it’s snowing like crazy. I think it will be more than the predicted 2 inches.

I have writing to do today, and script coverage, and some other client work. And there’s Remote Chat. The group is ending in two weeks, which makes me sad. They’ve helped me get through the week for the last few years, and through some tough times. But things change, and I’m grateful for the time I had in it.

In the meantime, in between tasks, I will enjoy watching the snow fall!

Have a good one.

Tues. December 7, 2021: Maybe Your Business is Struggling Because You’re Unprofessional

image courtesy of Matryx via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold; incoming snow

The past few days have been up and down.

I lost far too much of Friday. I tried to find a mechanic to fix the car – no one would get back to me with a response and an estimate, including the dealer. What kind of business model is that?

According to AAA, the nearest of their certified mechanics is in Bennington, VT. I shouldn’t have to cross state lines to get my damn car fixed.

On top of that, I was trying to integrate MooSend, the platform to which I’d exported my mailing list, to my website, so people can easily subscribe on the website, it goes over to the MooSend mailing list, and they get the next newsletter. Only it wouldn’t integrate. I asked tech support for help, and they sent me links to articles where the steps in the article didn’t match what was coming up on my screen. I went into their Live Chat. The guy sent me the same articles. I told him that I’d tried all that already, and that’s why I was on Live Chat. Because it wasn’t working. He kept telling me to do stuff that didn’t come up on my screen. I’d send him screen shots to show him what was on my screen and what I should do with what was actually coming up, and it just went round and round for hours. He walked away from the chat after a couple of hours. Some other guy came on, a few minutes later – and sent me the article. Hadn’t read any of the notes or looked at the screen shots. I told him to forget it, I was going to a competitor.

In meantime, on the website, I got a flash of something that needed to be updated. I tried to update, and it didn’t work. I contacted my host, A2, and asked for the steps, since clicking the update didn’t work. The tech asked permission to enter the account, I gave it, and the glitch was fixed in less than five minutes.

I thought maybe the MooSend integration would then work, but nope. Still the same issues. So I disconnected all the MooSend plug-ins.

I did some research on other platforms. I knew I didn’t want Constant Contact or Robly. I considered MailChimp, and sent them some questions, which were ignored. They weren’t top of my list anyway, so that was no big deal.

So I looked at Sendinblue, and that seemed to have what I needed. I set up an account, which was easy as could be. I imported my contact list, easy as could be. I downloaded the plug-in to the website. Easy as could be. Activated it, set up the new form, and it seems to work.

I’ve written most of the text for the newsletter, and played with templates. Starting from scratch and building it myself seems to work the best for me, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ll play with it some more, send a test to myself. If that works, the newsletter will go out this week, and the quarterly deliveries will start up again, with occasional special announcements in between.

If you haven’t signed up, and you’d like to, you can do so here.

Getting everything set up on Sendinblue took about 30-40 minutes, including all verifications, API keys, plug-ins, etc. Meanwhile, I’d lost three hours with MooSend’s useless “support.”

Hopefully, I’ll remain happy at Sendinblue, at least for a while.

I was grumpy and exhausted by the end of it all. I hadn’t had time to get the promotions for the holiday shorts “Just Jump in and Fly” and “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall” up. I did manage to do some work on the notes for The Big Project and for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

I did my script coverages. I read the next book for review, which was charming and delightful, and got a good review.

After my pity party, I sat down with Cherie Priest’s GRAVE RESERVATIONS, her newest release. I sat and read until after midnight. I loved it, and did not want to put it down.

Tessa got me up on Saturday around 5:30-ish, which is acceptable. Once I’d fed everyone and they were settled again, I sat on the couch and finished GRAVE RESERVATIONS. Loved it so much. I hope she writes more with these characters, because they are a delight.

I let her know, via tweet, how much I loved the book.

Then, it was time to buckle down to my own work. I did some more work on the outline for The Big Project, and did the first draft of the first chapter, which came in at 1282 words. I’m looking for the chapters to be between 1-1.5K and not more than 2K on any given chapter, and, on this particular project, the structure has to be impeccable, or it will all fall apart. Because it’s complex, I have to keep a careful set of tracking sheets, updating it preferably every chapter, but not more than every three. Or I will get myself into a tangle.

I had a ton of fun writing the chapter, although I had to stop and make decisions on the way about details. They can’t be layered in later, because they are vital to the way the piece builds. Details can be polished or cut or moved in edits, but the first draft has to be what a usual third draft for me usually is.

Still, it was a good feeling to get it done.

The sky looked rather ominous by the time I was finished. I wrapped up for the weather and walked down to the wine store for a couple of bottles of wine, and stopped at Cumberland Farms at the end of the street for eggs and coffee. You know, the essentials: eggs, wine, coffee.

The whole thing was a little over a mile on foot, round trip, and nothing was very heavy. But I’m still not up to full strength after the vaccine booster, and was pretty shaky by the time I got home.

Does not bode well if I have to walk to Big Y and back for a big grocery shop, even with my little upright rolling cart. That round trip would be a little over three miles. Might consider taking a taxi back.

After lunch, I spent some time on the acupressure mat, which I hadn’t done all week. Once I was realigned there, I got up and wrote up the script coverage I had to do.

Leftovers for dinner, and then I did the revision on “A Rare Medium.”

Read some of the Marie Corelli research, but fell asleep fairly early.

Slept through the night, and Tessa didn’t wake me until nearly 6:30 on Sunday. After I fed them, I tried a new banana bread recipe, and, when I didn’t like the way it was turning out, tossed in some chocolate chips, which saved it. Still, not a recipe I’d use again.

I wrote the second chapter of The Big Project, which came in longer than I’d hoped (a little over 2K), but that’s what it needed to be. Felt good. Had lots of fun with it.

Switched over to decorating. We put up some of the Command hooks and put decorations on all the doors. We put multiple garlands on the bannisters, and threaded them through with lights. We put the lights up on the front porch, along with the small tree decorated in silver and blue, that used to be in my office at the other house. I put some battery-operated tall candles in the windows, although I don’t yet have the batteries for them.

It looks really pretty.

I admit, on Friday night, I considered not doing any more decorating this year. No trees, nothing. It all felt like too much.

But then I thought, I’m the one who loves all the decorations, and it’s a form of self-punishment not to put them up. And putting them up on Sunday made me happy, both the actual doing it, and then enjoying it.

It was the Second of Advent, so we lit the two candles. Plus our big, scented Christmas candle. And it was St. Nicholas night – time to put out the shoe, so it can be filled with candy!

Which made for a happy wakeup on Monday.

Charlotte started bothering me at 4:30, but Tessa let me sleep until just after 5.

Morning longhand writing session in, then yoga and meditation. Those practices suffered last week when I was so laid out from the booster, and I suffered as a result. So back to yoga, and I’m slowly expanding my morning practice.

Wrote the third chapter on The Big Project, and had a blast with it. It came in at just under 1800 words, pretty good. Then, I switched over and did just over 1300 words on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and had fun with that. It’s weird, not working in full chapters with that, but there’s only so much I can do.

In and around those two projects, I was still trying to find a fucking mechanic to fix the fucking car. What the hell is wrong with these “businesses”? Can’t respond or give an estimate. Finally got a response from one – who can’t fix a VW. That mechanic recommended another one, whom I contacted and – no response.

After THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, I put in the revisions on “A Rare Medium”, found a few more things to fix, formatted it properly, got in the needed information, saved as PDF, and got it out the door. Ahead of schedule.

Phew.

I’d forgotten to turn on the crockpot, so it had to be on high all afternoon.

Did my script coverage, and got out a book review. Dinner was great; the recipe worked well. After dinner, I did more Marie Corelli research. I have a good sense of the character; now I need the incident in her life to dramatize.

The lovely chiming tower clock over at the college stopped around mid-morning. I miss it. I didn’t realize how much I used it to keep track of my day, and how much joy it brought me.

Went through the materials for tonight’s Wild Oats Board Meeting.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and it’s delightful. I love it when they include fuzzy socks, and these have little hour glasses embroidered on them.

Sorted the laundry before bedtime. Got up at 5 (Tessa was just doing her warmup scales). Got everyone fed, got myself dressed and the first writing session done. Then piled the laundry and the washing materials and my work bag into the little upright rolling cart that’s been in the family since 1969 and rolled the laundry down the street to the laundromat.

As usual, I was the only one there, but it wasn’t creepy. Got the laundry loaded up, then sat down and worked on tightening the point-by-point notes for The Big Project, so that I don’t go off on tangents. Realized I have to do an insert to the second days’ work, in order to keep one of the running jokes going. There has to be a reference in every chapter. The Big Project relies on impeccable structure, along with engaging characters, quick dialogue, and a rip- roaring plot. So taking the time to polish the outline saves me a lot of pain and time later in the process.

After breakfast, I need to do a run to CVS for a couple of things. Fortunately, it’s in walking distance, but it’ll be about an hour round trip. Debating whether or not I should stop by the library while I’m in that direction, or wait until Thursday.

We have a storm coming in today, and snow tomorrow. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a mechanic today and schedule the repair for Thursday or Friday. This is ridiculous. If I can’t trust someone to be capable of the technology of answering an email and/or giving me an estimate, why would I think they have the skills to repair my car?

Once I get back, it’s back to work on today’s words for The Big Project and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. I have to get the ads going for the two holiday shorts, and finish the newsletter.

Then, it’s back to script coverage and client work. With any luck, I’ll get out a few LOIs, too.

But, for the moment, I’m back on the pavement, getting my errands done. We’re definitely getting a storm; pre-storm headache in full force.