Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

The last day of August, can you believe it?

My article “Travers Triumphant” is up on FemmeFan. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with the link, so you have to go to the home page of Femmefan,

and then scroll down until you see “Travers Triumphant”. Sorry.

I had a great, busy, couple of days.

And I did it again, what I always do when I go to Philadelphia.

I bought shoes.

Last year, I bought three pairs and had to haul them back up to NY. This year, I bought only two. Both are lovely suede flats, one in brown, and one in a red that goes with the new fall purse.

Hello, my name is Devon and I’m a Shoe-A-Holic.

Only I don’t want to be cured.

There’s the old joke: How many pairs of shoes should a woman own?

Answer: One more pair than she already has.

Tuesday, work was okay. I like most of the people, but the situation is no longer for me, and if I don’t cut the cord and do without it as my safety net, I’ll never move forward. I kept telling myself I was hanging in there to make insurance, but our union’s screwed us so badly insurance-wise that I’m not going to make it anyway, so why stay in a situation that’s no longer supporting any part of my life?

One of my colleagues was about to fly to London that night. He landed the job as the assistant designer for a show that’s coming to Broadway from the National in London, and off he goes to learn the show, work with the designer, etc. Good for him! I love it when something like that comes together so quickly! He’s very talented and deserves it. He text-messaged me yesterday to let me know it was great over there. The National’s a wonderful place – everyone is so nice and the facility is outstanding. He’ll have a blast.

Shot out of work and down to Port Authority. The 4 o’clock bus was still loading when I got there, so I thought maybe I could get on that, but they ran out of seats. Then, they put us through so-called security checks – poorest excuse for a security check I’ve ever seen.

They pulled up another bus, and I ended up on one that left at 4:37 instead of 5:00, which worked for me.

The ride was fine, although the bus was full. People were just tired, and most of them slept on the bus –except for the guy in the seat ahead of me who sung tunelessly to himself the whole time, until I was ready to hurt him. So I put on my MP3 Player instead, which seemed like a much more equitable solution.

I tried to read on the bus, but was so disappointed with the book. I felt almost guilty not liking it, because the writer’s gotten a lot of praise and won quite a few awards. But I don’t like the characters and the story’s not told engagingly enough to keep me focused. So that book is going into the Book Mooch pile.

Arrived in Philly a little before 7, grabbed a cab, got to my friend’s place, dumped my stuff. We went across the street to a really cute pub called The Black Sheep. They’re very nice there and the food is good. I had my first hamburger in ages (topped with roasted red peppers and garlic spinach), and a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat Ale. I’d never had that before, and it was quite good – doesn’t taste like beer. But I eat red meat so rarely now that I felt like I was walking around with a lump of lead in my stomach for the rest of the night.

Hung out with my friends, did some crocheting, but went to bed pretty early. Slept well, up early, yoga. I felt separation anxiety since I left my mat at home, but they had wall-to-wall carpeting. Their cat had never seen yoga before and was both freaked out and fascinated.

Brought breakfast in from Miel Bakery. We walked down to Trader Joe’s and did some grocery shopping. On the way back, we hung out in Rittenhouse Square for awhile. It’s so beautiful. I’d love to set a story in that area.

I met my friend L. for lunch at Susanna Foo’s. The food was exquisite (I had curried chicken dumplings, the crabmeat Egg Foo Yong, and a glass of pinot noir) and the service was excellent – a rarity in Philadelphia, in my experience. My friend and I had a great catch-up time, and then walked the half a block to Lush, where we treated ourselves to organic soaps and creams.

Later that afternoon, I dropped by one of the theatres to catch up with some old friends (missed them), and, on the way back, bought shoes.

Cooked dinner for my friends, hung out with other friends. Didn’t sleep well – I dreamed I was moving furniture all night, and woke up exhausted.

I hoped to get some writing done in Rittenhouse Square, but they had it sealed off to shoot a movie – I think it was the same M. Night Shyamalan movie that shot near my friend’s place last week. As I passed the wardrobe truck, I kidded with the crew, “Can’t I ever get away from work?”

I cooked a big salmon lunch for my friends, and then decided to take a 2 PM bus instead of a 4 PM bus back to New York. I got on, no problem, and read Yasmine Galenorn’s Witchling on the way home. It’s great – if you haven’t read her Sisters of the Moon series, go out and get them right now!!!

Hauled my luggage across from Port Authority to Grand Central, cursing out the tourists all the way. New Yorkers aren’t rude, tourists are. They also act like the biggest, sloppiest pigs ever. It’s disgusting, and I wish the cops would start ticketing again for litter (as if they don’t have enough to do).

Caught the 4:49 express and was back home by 5:45. The cats were so happy!

Chilled out and played with the cats.

Did not have a good start to the morning. Was jolted out of bed at 6:25 AM when, two buildings down, they started in with the leaf blowers. We have an ordinance in town that says they can’t start until 7 AM weekdays and 9 AM on Sundays. So I went down to tell them to stop and they started with the bullshit, “No speak English.” Amazing how quickly they found it when the cops showed up. One guy said something demeaning towards women as the cops wrote them up and I asked him if he wanted me to cut his dick off and feed it to him. Anyway, the building owners are being fined and so is the landscaping company.

Unfortunately, the noise also woke up the crazy downstairs neighbor who turned on his television full blast and then decided to “sing” – which is basically a cross between yodeling and a cat being tortured.

Like I said, not a good way to start the day.

I still have to finish and send off two articles today. I had a good morning’s work on Good Names. Finished the confrontation –with-the-killer chapter. It’s a little odd – I’ve never read a scene quite like it, but I think it’s fun, and hope it gets to stay in the book. I have about two more chapters and then this draft is DONE!

Off to do some errands, check the job boards (but without much hope – bad week on the job boards), and finish those articles. I’d like to do some more work on Good Names later today – it would be great if I could finish the draft before I leave for my next gig on Sunday.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Devon

Good Names
– 70,632 words out of est. 75,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

70 / 100
(70.0%)

March 29, 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

I’m a little better. Usually, I have 24-36 hours where I know I’m not going to die, but I wish I would so I’d feel better, and then a few days of weakness. This time, the sickness is just not letting go. I’m finally sort of up and I have to meet a few deadlines – one, in particular, needs to be met today. Part of it, I think, is because I was still trying to get my energy back from being sick in February, and then dealing with the flood and the car and all that, just wore down my resistance.

But I’m well enough to be cranky, so I must be on the road to recovery! 😉

A shame, really, because on Sunday, I’d gotten some work done on an idea which really excites me.

I didn’t work on what I was supposed to work on; instead, I did an outline for a new piece, set around the turn of the 20th century. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start it in 1902 or in 1906. I did some research, and decided that it would start in 1903 – there are a few things that happened in 1902, according to a timeline I found (which I will double-check with other sources) that I need to have already happened when the story starts. Among them are the beginning of the Twentieth Century Limited and Broadway Express luxury train lines between New York and Chicago, the opening of the Algonquin Hotel in New York, and both the first Model T rolling off the line and the creation of the Studebaker. I’ve got about the first third outlined, practically scene-by-scene. I think I will change my process yet again for this and research as I write each section.

If the time frame of the book stretches as far as 1911, I will, of course, work the Triangle Factory Fire into it, as I do with anything set in that year. I don’t think one can revisit that tragedy often enough, especially not if you’re a woman or, basically, care about human beings. My own Triangle Factory Fire book has been percolating for several years – I have a feeling I will have to actually write it on a retreat one of these years. I will need completely uninterrupted work time to do it. And the writing of it will take a huge toll.

It felt good to start work again – even with other deadlines hovering over me. I’ve now got three strong outlines for pieces, dealing with both human psychology and social issues – hopefully not hitting the audience over the head with the latter. It needs to be woven it so it’s intricate to the stories, not a club brought in to whack the reader upside the head. The shriller the tone, the fewer who will listen.

I have to run some errands today, including returning the wet food to Trader Joe’s. According to vets, the problem with food made by Menu Foods is much more far-reaching than the FDA statistics, and I just can’t risk it. The cats are having a fit about the lack of wet food – so I’m giving them baby food in place of wet food in the morning and their usual dry food later in the day in the interim. I tried dry food twice a day and they are NOT amused, NOT having it, and screamed the house down. THE NEW NATURAL CAT arrived – and it’s not the wonderful book I remembered. So I wonder if the book with all the great recipes in it was something else, and I only remembered it as THE NATURAL CAT. This book is downright scary! So I’m off in search of home-made, nutritious, and SAFE cat food recipes.

This weekend, I have to work on my taxes, do the next assignment for the Confidential Job, work on The Project, and catch up on everything else that’s fallen by the wayside over the past few weeks. I’m just going to do as much as I can each day without making myself crazy. April’s already shaping up to be a busy, active month. I need to have some energy put aside for it.

And, because I haven’t hustled for work for the past week and change, I have to get back to that, too. I have a stack of queries that need to go out, and some other submissions as well. But all I can do is as much as I can do – if I push too hard too soon, I’ll just have a relapse, and it’ll take longer to get back to what passes for normal.

Devon

Published in: on March 29, 2007 at 8:39 am  Comments (13)  

March 25, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was difficult. As anyone who’s cared for an ill, elderly parent knows, it’s not easy. Things looked pretty grim until about mid-afternoon, when everything took a turn for the better, and she finally got some sleep. Elsa was great, staying right there all the time. She (my mom, not the cat) is better today, but still a little wobbly.

In between taking care of my mom, I worked on the various letters in reference to the pet food recall. Let me just say that the more research I did, the more appalled I am by the entire industry. And I didn’t like what I heard from Trader Joe’s – although I’m grateful they got back to me so quickly. Although their food is NOT on the recall list, it IS prepared at Menu Foods, and they’ve pulled it all to run their own tests. They suggested I return everything I have to the local store for a refund. Which I will definitely do.

According to Amelia’s comment yesterday, she’d heard from CNN that the additional animals who died did so at the same time while they were testing foods at Menu; the information I had from NBC was that they tested the tainted food on animals when the complaints began coming in. I’ve asked NBC to clarify.

Purina only outsourced one brand of pouched dog food in the recall – the rest is manufactured at their own plants, so it seems (I’m waiting for a confirmation). However, I don’t know if I entirely trust their wet food, either.

None of the pet stores or book stores around here carry THE NATURAL CAT, and most of them claim they can’t even order it (hey, it’s on Amazon, why can’t they order it?). I ordered a copy through Strand (hopefully they’ll pull it before someone gets to it) and I’m giving the girls baby food for the next few days until I decide what to do. Yes, I could JUST give them dry food, but they’ll tear the house down. Their routine is wet food in the morning, dry food later on. And you don’t mess with their routine! Not without serious consequences, anyway!

If you ever read the wonderful book by a New York City vet called ALL OF MY PATIENTS ARE UNDER THE BED, he states that baby beef is perfectly all right to feed cats. Of course, I also give mine baby turkey, baby ham, etc. And it has to be Gerber’s Stage 2. They hate all other brands, and Stage 1 is too mushy. I have a few jars, but I’ll get some more tomorrow when I pick up the newspaper. Generally, I only give them baby food if they have an upset stomach, but in the circumstances, I think it’s safer than anything else out there, at least in the short term.

Just in case, I checked the Gerber site to see if there were any recalls.

And you really want to get angry? Check out www.iamscruelty.com.

By the way, Iams and Eukanuba are basically the same company, under two different brand names.

I finished Susan Cheever’s lovely book American Bloomsbury, about Alcott, Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, and Hawthorne. It’s a personal book as well as an historical one. I highly recommend it. I also recently read Mary Poppins, She Wrote, which an excellent biography of PL Travers, and Mia King’s Good Things.

I loved Good Things. You can visit Mia’s blog on my list to the right (Mia Musings) to find out more about the book. Her main character is someone I feel I could be friends with, and she avoids the genre traps of overly neurotic protagonists. It’s a warm, lovely book which has enough surprises so the reader never gets complacent. Go read it.

Once I finished American Bloomsbury, I started on the first volume of LM Montgomery’s Journals. They are fascinating. I love her books anyway, above and beyond the Anne of Green Gables books. And her journals! I also love the way she refers to herself as a “book drunkard”. I know exactly what she means.

Hopefully, my mom will continue to improve today AND I’ll be a bit more all-around productive. The less time I make to write, the more fractured I feel. Now that I’ve tasted the non-writing life for a few weeks – it’s not for me.

Devon

March 24, 2007

Saturday, March 24, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

The plan today was to work on recipes; however, my mother came down with a terrible flu in the night, so I’m going to take care of her instead. I went to the local 24-hour store and got in supplies: Powerade, water, saltines, the kind of soup we always have for a stomach problem – and I’ve been giving her ginger tea and water, and letting her doze on and off all morning while I did the laundry, the cleaning, etc.

I might get a little writing done, but I’m not going to count on it. I’ll just take the day as it comes.

Elsa is the best cat to have around when not feeling well – she stays right with you, purring and being quiet and loving. She’s such a sweetheart. The twins get anxious, but they’ve calmed down a bit.

Spooky came up to have his breakfast this morning and visit. He decided he really likes a bright pink catnip mouse, so now that’s “his”. I’ve put it in a bag separate from the girls’ toys until I know everyone’s shots are all updated. I’ll have to buy the girls a new pink catnip mouse, but that’s the way it goes.

There are several things about the Pet Food recall that infuriate me. That it happened in the first place is completely unacceptable. That Menu Foods tested it on animals when the complaints started coming in is also unacceptable, and that those animals suffered and died. What did they do? Get them from shelters and murder them? If they were going to test it on a living thing, it should have been on their damn executives who switched suppliers without checking quality control first. AND, since it was the NY State Agriculture Department who managed to isolate and find out that it was rat poison, there was no need to kill even more animals with their “testing.”

Also, the brands are just as culpable as Menu Foods. If I’m paying the premium price for Iams or Eukenuba, I expect and DEMAND that they have their own plants and strict quality controls. That’s what I’m paying for. To discover that it’s the same stuff as Wal-Mart brand – or any other store brand – is a slap in the face to consumers. And the brand companies are just as responsible for this as Menu Foods. Why are they allowing their supposedly top-line food to be processed without keeping their own quality controls? This is NOT acceptable.

You’ll notice the brand companies have said nothing, but both Iams and Eukenuba have pulled their advertising, as well they should. They should also issue apologies and try to help Menu Foods make it right. No wonder my girls always hated Iams! THEY knew. And wouldn’t eat it.

They eat the Trader Joe’s organic wet food – I switched because it has 0% ash content, and if you use a food with the usual ash content, which is 4%, you are setting your animal up for problems later in life – and no wheat gluten. But I still contacted them wanting to know where the food is prepared and what quality controls they use. I will let you know what they tell me.

I may well go out and buy another copy of The Natural Cat (my copy’s in storage) and start making their food from scratch again.

Unless each and every one of us who is angry about this makes our displeasure known to these companies – not just Menu Foods, but the brand names – this will continue. What are YOU willing to do to keep your pets safe? Apathy = condonement. If you do nothing, you condone what happened.

Devon

February 1, 2007

Thursday, February 1, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

There will be about Imbolc over on Kemmyrk later this afternoon.

There’s a bit of poetry news over on Circadian also later this afternoon.

I was furious with my web host yesterday – server problems kept me from accessing my site or my mail, which meant a document sent late the previous night which I needed to turn around that morning for a job was stuck in limbo. I finally pulled it through another site, but it was frustrating. When I finally got someone on the phone, the response was, “Yeah, I guess we’re having issues. They’re working on it. Try again in a few hours.”

Remind me why I’m paying them again?

I understand that every site has problems once in awhile. But this is just too often. I thought Yahoo was a bad site host, but . . .

However, I doubt I’ll ever find another template as perfect as the one for Cerridwen’s Cottage, so there’s that, too.

A new issue of Devon’s Random Newsletter goes out today. I know, I know, two months in a row, don’t faint. If you didn’t get yours or haven’t signed up, send me an email asking to subscribe here.

Worked on the Barbaro article; started the next column for SDR. Didn’t get through enough of the piles on my desk.

Some errands today, but I need to focus on getting it all done before I leave town on Monday.

What can I say? Yesterday, I just didn’t wanna!

This morning, the whole routine was thrown into a tizzy because of the meteorologists saying a snow storm was on the way to dump four inches of snow, starting at 2 PM. So, my choices were: Be stubborn, write first and drive around in bad weather OR get over my damn self and get the errands done and then come back to write.

For once in my life, I decided to be an adult. I shot out the door before 9 AM, went to the bank, drove to White Plains, hit up Target. Target, of course, didn’t have what I drove all the way to White Plains to get and God forbid someone being paid to work there should actually be bothered to stop conversing with another employee and check in the back, and God forbid that I should go to customer dis-service and they could be bothered to do anything but tell me they can’t look up anything without an Item Number. Which I happen to know is complete and utter bullshit, because every other Target in the country can do so.

However, I filled my cart with a whole bunch of stuff on which I hadn’t planned, but definitely needed, so I checked out, then ordered online what I needed – which, since they offered free shipping, ended up being cheaper than if I’d bought it in the store – some tax thing.

So it was all good, in spite of the crappy customer service. Which was a surprise, because usually Target’s pretty good – except in the White Plains store, where you might as well not ask where anything is because not only do none of the employees know, most of them could care less and just give you wrong information anyway.

Off to Trader Joe’s to stock up on cat food, so my mom has plenty to feed them while I’m gone – and stocked up on other stuff, so I can cook in advance for my mom and all she has to do is heat it up. Off to the other grocery store to get the rest of the stuff, the wine shop, etc.

Came home and the meteorologists were now saying the storm won’t start until 4 in the morning. I think they’re wrong – my head’s about to explode with the pre-storm headache (I seem to be a human barometer).

Yes, Dru Ann, the Merry will go out somewhere else – or I might work on the novel length version – I have two possible publishers for that.

Tammy – the list is part of the Goals, Dreams and Resolutions a group of us work on every year – I’d be happy to email the questions to you if you’d like, and the to-do and wrap-up lists are born from that.

I found an exciting anthology and sent a pitch last night and got more info this morning – I only have until March 30 to come up with 10-25K, but I think I can do it, especially since the topic excites me. So, off to do some more research for that, send them more info to see if it’s along the lines of what they need, and then – clean off more desk stuff and get down to work! AND, the anthology editor sent me guidelines for a new imprint she thought would be a good fit with me. All good!

Back to the desk, and then to the page.

Devon

February 2007 To-Do List

13-in-Play

Kristen King’s 2007 Query Challenge – 3-5 pitches per week

Biblio Paradise Newsletter Out

Finish next “Literary Athlete” column

Work on revisions for Assumption of Right

Circadian Poems

Kemmyrk

Work on Real

Work on Fix-It Girl

Work on typing Shallid

Finish typing Token and Affections

Finish Chasing the Changeling

Catch up/restructure 13 Traveling Journals

2 full weeks on the show

Get Dixie Dust Rumors queries out

Finish Tumble revision

Work on the “Illuminated Nude”

Work on “The Man on the Yoga Mat”

4 Dog Blogs