Wed. Oct. 20, 2021: Thoughts on Nano, Inner Work, and Daily Life

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Full Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cool

image courtesy of Pexels.com

I wanted to share some NaNoWriMo Tips that have served me well in previous years, and I hope will do so this year:

Prep. Even if you don’t do a formal outline, make notes on the story. That way, when you rip the time out of your day to write, you can drop right into the book where you are and not have to wonder what you meant to do when you stopped the previous day. The work I prep always drafts more smoothly than the work I don’t. Plus, the prepped work needs fewer rounds of revision than the uncharted work, although anything I write in Nano needs much, much more revision that work written outside of it.

Set Daily Goals. To write 50K in 30 Days, you need to hit 1667 words EVERY day. For me to feel comfortable, I like to hit 2K/day; for me to feel really good about the work and leave room for the chaos of life, I try to hit 2.5K/day, especially early on. I know I need days off here and there; I like to have 50K by Thanksgiving. This year? I have no idea, since my writing rhythms have been totally thrown off between COVID and last year’s surgeries and job changes and moving. My reason for doing Nano this year is to both reclaim my writing rhythm and, hopefully, find an even better one, that will sustain me long after November is in my rear-view mirror.

Frontload and bank words. The rush of the start and that initial creative wave feel great. If you can go beyond your daily goal early on (or at any point), do so. That way, WHEN something comes up and you have to skip a day or a few days, you won’t fall behind.

Plan breaks. You’ll need to take a day here and there for a break. Or maybe you have family plans for the whole weekend of American Thanksgiving. Plan for that. Include in the planning, working AHEAD on word count, so that when you hit the day off, you already have that day’s words in the bank. It’s harder to catch up than to work ahead.

Know the Difference Between Asking for Encouragement and Being an Energy Vampire. We all hit hard days during the process, and often hit several of them in a row. Week 2 tends to be the rockiest, because the initial rush has worn off, and it’s down to showing up to do the work. It’s healthy to admit you’re struggling and ask for suggestions or encouragement. But don’t expect/demand people to hurt their own work in order to get you back on track with yours. Every year, there are people who try to make the entire experience about THEM, and, if they start to struggle, they try to derail everyone else around them.

Stick It Out, Even if You Don’t Hit 50K. Using Nano to get into the rhythm of daily writing, and also knowing how to PLAN breaks in that daily writing, will serve you well moving forward.

There are all kinds of tips and daily encouragements in my free book 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS, available for download here.

I’m extremely disturbed to see how many right-wing and religious-based writing groups have taken over the discussion forums. You can’t tell me they’re working on systems of equality and inclusion, especially since most of the LGBTQ forums have locked down for protection. No thread should have to lock down for protection, if the community is actually run on respect and inclusion.

Now, on to my experience on the soul journey workshop I’m in this week.

I was a little worried, on Monday, that it was for newcomers to this type of work, people with less experience than I have. I was disturbed, in the day’s video, by the talk of one’s spiritual life and one’s mundane life being on parallel paths. It’s often true at the beginning, but isn’t part of the point of the work to integrate the two, so one lives one’s path?

I also reminded myself how important it is to go back to basics, and start with fresh eyes, as though it’s the first time, because there’s always something to learn.

I’ve been doing the work, and learning. Some of it is uncomfortable, but that’s okay, because it’s showing me where I’m stuck in patterns that hurt, and how I can break out of them to stumble along a path that heals.

Five days barely scratches the surface, but it’s giving me ideas on how to build this work into my schedule on a regular basis, and where to go from here. I want to keep doing the work, definitely through the Chiron retrograde, because that’s working with the natural energies rather than against them.

I keep hoping maybe January will give me a period of rest. I’m hoping I can adjust the work schedule without losing money, and that I can give myself a bit of a break on inner work and just rest/be for a few weeks.

Monday’s work was good; I decided that the Journey Tarot, which I received in the last Goddess Provisions box, was a good match for this work, and I was right. I did the work, and felt I got a lot out of it. The live chat was a little frustrating, because, as happened during the prep time, the people yelling excuses about not doing the work, and demanding validation for not doing the work are sucking all the energy out of the collective space. The people who are MAKING the time and DOING the work are getting lost in the noise. There’s no space for those of us doing the work to go deeper and safely share that experience with each other. The people not doing the work are trying to siphon off the collective raised group energy without contributing anything to it. That is something that rubs me the wrong way (to say the least). Everyone is on their own journey and has their challenges; but do NOT expect to be validated and steal the collective energy when you refuse to add anything to it.

I did some additional work during meditation Monday night and the Hermit card kept coming up. Which makes a lot of sense in the context.

Tuesday’s video was good, and so was the additional meditation/visualization. It was very helpful in figuring out a few things. During the live chat, I ignored the chat running down the side (with all the energy vampires), and focused on the group leaders and what they had to say. There was something that really resonated. In thinking about one’s “future self”, focus more on how you want your life to FEEL as you live it then, rather than what you DO. Which is a good point. We are groomed to always work for someone else’s profit. Usually receiving far less than our work is worth. If we visualize our future for the type of life we want to enjoy on an experiential level instead of assuming that if we just have a particular job or live in a particular house we’ll feel good – if we work on the emotional landscape we want, then we can create the physical portions that support it and make it possible.

There was also an emphasis on being “all in” – which translated to me as “do the work.” But, as I said, I ignored most of the chat stream, because there were still too many people on it making noisy excuses, and I’m not engaging with that.

Looking forward to seeing what today’s work is about.

This week is definitely a starting point, but it’s giving me useful tools and ideas of where I want to focus this type of work over the next few months.

Chop Wood, Carry Water, and all that Life Stuff

On the life level, I got some work done in the morning, then had to run errands. I’m telling you, the Post Office is the happening place around here. That’s where I go to keep up with local events. I had a stack of cards and letters to drop off (including another letter trying to get my mom’s insurance straightened out), and buy stamps.

Dropped off a bunch of books at the library (and didn’t get the notification that some of my holds were in until I got home. Oh, well).

Headed off to Wild Oats to stock up on a bunch of stuff, like coffee, wine, lentils, and eggs.

Picked up a few things at Stop & Shop that I needed, and probably snagged the last bag of frozen peas in the Berkshires. Those freezer cases are very bare.

Made red lentil soup for lunch (Moosewood Recipe, of course), which was pretty darn good.

Most of the afternoon was taken up with the soul journey class. When that was done, I attempted to pay the next six months’ worth of car insurance (instead of paying monthly). It shouldn’t take 45 minutes to put through an online payment. But it did. And it was wrong. So I had to contact them and get it sorted out. Which, supposedly, it is.

Grrr.

I’d gotten a great promotion for a Wine Advent Calendar and decided I wanted it. So I go to order it, get through the checkout, and then it says it “can’t” ship in my state. Even though the company is located in my state. Then why send the promotion? You know where I live. And hey, having worked for businesses who send out promotional emails, I know that it’s possible to set up email blasts with different parameters based on location, to focus promotions.

It was sloppy marketing and not using email platform functions well. Which pissed me off as a potential customer (this would have been my first purchase from them), and it is highly, highly unlikely I would do business with them in the future. Anytime I see their logo, I’m going to think, “The assholes who sent me a promotion in which I couldn’t actually participate” and move on to a different vendor.

That ate up the time I’d set aside to write up script coverages, which was frustrating. And I still had two scripts to read after dinner.

Got a question from a client, which I honestly answered, but I worried it would mean they no longer wanted to work with me. Instead, they told me the experience makes me more valuable to them. So why do I do this to myself, set myself up with unnecessary worry? Why do I always expect the worst? I need to stop that. Hopefully, this week’s class will give me tools so to do.

Did some percolating on CAST IRON MURDER, but very little was added to the outline. Will have to make up for that today.

Sent off my workshop proposal to the conference that invited me next summer. Decided to go to an outdoor writing event in Lenox over the upcoming weekend.

Reminded myself that the Hermit card cannot be denied, and I need to do all this slowly, slowly, being careful to marshal my energy.

Pork chops smothered in mushroom-tarragon gravy for dinner, with rice and red cabbage. It was good.

Knowledge Unicorns was good, although, again, we had to put off the virtual tours of Venetian museums because of pressing classwork. But discussing ETHAN FROME, Nancy Drew, and the racism in the required reading considered “canon” was a pretty good way to spend time.

I gave myself permission not to read scripts last night, and just relax. Which would have restored me, except that Charlotte started bothering me at 3 AM, and by 3:43, Tessa was in full voice.

To the laundromat early, and got two loads washed, dried, folded. I change my days and times there, because I’m often the only one there, and I don’t want to set myself up for trouble. I never have my back to the doors/room. I’m hyper aware of anyone even walking past. Because as a woman, I have to worry about these things.

But while I was there, I worked more on the outline notes for CAST IRON MURDER. I created the other possible suspects, their backstories, and why they might have killed the murder victim. Some of those “whys” also make my protagonist an even more likely suspect.

So it was time well spent.

My downstairs neighbors decorated the front porch, and it is delightful! We are going to have so much fun in the coming weeks.

Lots to do today. Previous Me would have piled on the work, insisted on trying to attend the Sundance Collab, immediately flip over to Remote Chat, and then try to juggle Remote Chat while doing the live classwork.

And felt like a failure when it didn’t work.

Current Me doesn’t do the Collab on Wednesdays (just Mondays and Fridays, when I can). I will do the beginning of Remote Chat, and then give myself a few minutes break before joining my class.

This morning, though, I have to make a quick dash to the library to pick up my books. And get coverages/reading done that didn’t happen yesterday.

Onward. Somehow, it will all come together.

Have a good one.

Tues. Oct. 19, 2021: The Good Work of Writing

image courtesy of Lisa via pexels.com

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Jupiter and Mercury went direct yesterday

Cloudy and cool

Jupiter and Mercury have gone direct, which means maybe we can have some positive forward motion.

You can hop over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site for the mid-month check-in.

The house we lived in on Cape, which was for sale with a pending sale? Back on the market. Not surprising, considering how much over the assessment valued they asked, and that the new owner will need to redo both bathrooms and replace all the windows. But I’m sure the current owners will somehow justify the fallen through sale as my fault. Whatever.

Used the Sundance Lab time on Friday to work on “A Rare Medium.” It was an excellent session. I got six pages done, the next scene, and I’m happy with the work. Although the breakout networking sessions aren’t what I need right now (although, in a professional sense, what I should attend), using the writing time in company can help me get these plays done.

Wrote up three script coverages. Was requested to read a new draft of a script I’d liked and given notes on a few weeks back, so that will be a good way to start the next workweek.

My mom is still a little tired from the COVID booster, but, overall, there were few side effects.

Worked with Charlotte on her bedmaking anxiety. She loves sleeping on my bed, but she gets anxious when I make it in the morning, or when I change the sheets. Most cats I’ve had love to use bedmaking time to play. They “hide” under the covers as I pile them on, and then either meow, and I flip back the covers to let them out, or they slither to the edge of the bed and drop down to the floor.

Charlotte stays under the covers and panics.

So I make sure not to cover her, because she doesn’t know what to do.

What we did, instead, was make the bed very slowly, giving her a chance to hopscotch on top of each sheet or blanket as I pulled it up. It didn’t take that much longer, and it was a fun game for her. When the bed was made, she rolled over, purring, and waving her feet n the air, happy as can be. Which is nice change from the upset she usually has around making the bed, where she growls and cries as I wrestle the covers from her. This game, she understands, and it makes her happy. I can take three extra minutes in the morning to make the bed in a way that doesn’t scare her.

The weather cleared up enough by mid-day on Saturday so that I could go to The Spruces for the Audubon Nature Walk sponsored by my town’s library. It was a small group, and, even though the adults were vaccinated, there was a young child in the group, so we masked without being asked, and without fussing. The people were nice, the walk was interesting, and I learned a lot. I’d hoped to learn more about the history of the actual Spruces community, but that wasn’t the focus. I’m going to have to go to Williamstown and dig for it in the library myself. Which could be a fun project, it’s just scheduling it so I don’t lose income from other assignments.

There’s a book or a play or something related to the history of the Spruces that I need to write, I’m just not sure what yet.

Came home, showered (decontamination protocols, just in case). Fell asleep on the couch for a couple of hours.

This was the first in-person event I’ve attended since the pandemic. Although it was small, fun, safe, and enjoyable, I was still exhausted.

To bed early on Saturday night, which meant up early Sunday morning.

Sunday was spent finishing the short almanac articles, fact-checking, and proofing. If I hadn’t faffed about so much and wasted so much time during the day the last couple of weeks, I wouldn’t have had to work all day. But the time mismanagement is on me, so I did it. I’m actually satisfied with the work. I have the knowledge; I’d put in research and experimentation time. It was a case of writing it up succinctly.

To bed fairly early on Sunday, and even got to sleep until 5 on Monday.

Did a final proofread of the short articles, updated my bio, sent them off to my editor, and they were acknowledged. Much as I loved doing those 25 little pieces, it was an even better feeling to send them off. They are for the 2023 Almanac.

I have to spend some serious time in the coming months working on the Cerridwen Iris Shea website, blog, and putting together some of the older material into small eBooks.

Another Big Project for the winter.

Did my Soul Expedition work. The exercises were extremely useful, and I discovered important roots that need to be dealt with.

Had a good conversation with a Twitter pal about Edith Wharton, and about Tolstoy and his wife. So much on Twitter is “in passing” that it’s nice to have substantial interactions sometimes.

Spent some time on Women Write Change, and on the Nano site. I’m over on WWC almost every day, or, at least, every other day, although I don’t always talk about it. It’s a small group, but a good one. On Nano, I spent time on Enchanted Wordsmiths, and also had a conversation with the Writer-Bakers. I’ve gotten two new challah bread recipe recommendations through them.

I started typing up the notes for CAST IRON MURDER, and expanding/arranging them, for my outline.

When it hit noon, and Sundance Collab time, I felt I “should” switch over to work on “A Rare Medium.” However, the flow was going well on the outline for CAST IRON MURDER. I started to dither and then thought, “Why are you doing this to yourself? It’s not a major decision” and kept working on the outline during the Collab time. Got 4 of the 9 handwritten pages typed up, arranged, and expanded. Printed them out, just in case.

Quite a few people mentioned, on Twitter, how much more energized they felt. Yeah, that’s what having Jupiter (the planet of expansion) and Mercury (we all know those connotations) going direct on the same day will do for you.

Attended the live session of the Soul Expedition and was frustrated. I’ll go into that in more detail tomorrow, when I talk more in depth about that and have some Nano tips.

Made brownies from the Moosewood recipe. It turned out well. Might be my favorite brownie recipe to date.

Ordered a bunch of books from the library. I can take out up to 50 books, but can only put on holds up to 20.  Oh, well.

Paid by a client, so I can pay bills this upcoming week. Might give myself a treat, too.

Read two scripts last night.

Had a good evening meditation session. A couple of “aha” moments in there.

Tessa let me sleep until 5:22 this morning. What a luxury! The usual morning routine (feed the cats, make the coffee, write in the journal, 1st 1K of the day, yoga, meditation, shower, dress). I’m changing up my laundromat routine. Since I’m often the first and only one there in the morning, and it’s a little creepy in the dark, I want to make sure I don’t keep a regular schedule. Because, as a woman, I have to worry about things like that.

Onward to the Soul Expedition work, and then more writing and script coverage. I have to do a post office, library, and grocery run today, too.

Have a good one, friends.

Fri. Oct. 15, 2021: Foggy Weather, Foggy Mind

image courtesy of Tatiana via pexels.com

Friday, October 15, 2021

Waxing Moon

Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Foggy and mild

After a foggy start, it was sunny/cloudy in fits and starts yesterday.

Tessa and Charlotte were impossible during meditation. Thank goodness the audio/video were off on my end. I got less than 5 minutes of quiet time. For once, they weren’t fussing at each other; Tessa was pulling items out of boxes in my office and playing with them. Charlotte was trying to get the attention of the Zoom Room, not understanding they couldn’t see her, and therefore couldn’t tell her she was pretty. Charlotte believes Zoom exists so various humans around the world can see her, appreciate how pretty she is, and tell her.

The internet was wonky, which made everything more difficult, too.

By 9 AM, I pretty much accepted the day would be a wash.

I managed to get one script coverage out. I worked on the other two, but have to finish/send them today.

I tried to read the second book in a mystery series. I’d read the first a few weeks ago. I hadn’t liked the start, but then liked it better, although I figured out the murderer at least 100 pages before the protagonist. With the second, again, I didn’t like the start. I kept at it for about fifty pages, and then decided no, I don’t want any more of this series. I don’t like the protagonist. She’s not an amusing hot mess – she’s insecure and mean. There wasn’t any growth from the first book to this book. She’s back to doing the same old again, and I’m done.

Fortunately, I don’t own this book, and can take it back to the library. But I’m not ordering any more. I have a whole stack of books waiting for me at the library, and I hope I like most of them more than I liked this one!

It does, however, give me information for my own work, especially when it comes to growth in character arcs.

I’m reading a wonderful book by the essayist Vivian Gornick called THE END OF THE NOVEL OF LOVE, that’s sending me back to books like MRS. DALLOWAY to re-read with new perspectives, and to read the work of George Meredith, who, sadly, I have not yet read.

We did the prep for my mom’s COVID booster. I dropped her off at CVS and went next door to Big Y to pick up a few things while she got the shot and waited her 15 minutes. She was fine when she got home; if anything, more energetic than she was before. I was the one with no energy.

I did my Soul Expedition journaling exercise for the day, about boundaries and energy vampires. There are people in the group stating they want others in the group to “hold” them accountable and keep them on track, “remind” them to do the exercises and the work. No, sweetie, we are working on our own journeys, albeit in community. YOU are responsible for keeping yourself on track, not expecting someone else to take time and energy away from their journey and feed it into yours. The daily online sessions are the “reminders” to do the work.

Not within the group, but outside of it, some twenty-something with less than a year in the Craft contacted me via Instagram message stating she was “strongly drawn” to my name, and did I want a tarot reading (for a large fee, or course). I wrote back, “Hon, I was reading the cards before you were born.” I waited until I was sure she’d read it, and then blocked. Charlatan. I have no problem with experienced, trained readers getting paid for their work, but this is not how to get clients. And do a little due diligence.

I grabbed two scripts to read, and then got a note that the due date was changed on one – to three hours from the time I claimed it. I said I couldn’t turn it around that fast, and requested it removed from my queue. I’m worried that it will cost me points with the company, but my on-time record is 100%, and I knew I couldn’t deliver in 3 hours. I had to take care of my mom and run Knowledge Unicorns.

Made Henhouse Pie for dinner (basically, shepherd’s pie, but with chicken). It was good.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine, although we didn’t get to do the virtual tour of a Venetian museum, because we were working on essays that had been assigned in various classes. We will try again on Tuesday night. Read a script.

Went to bed early, exhausted. My mom woke in the night because her arm hurt, and she took some liquid Tylenol and went back to sleep. I was awake every few hours, not because of the cats this time, but because I had a series of weird dreams, filled with people I knew in the dream, but don’t know outside of it.

Woke up exhausted, but at least it was 5 AM and not earlier. Cats, coffee, writing, yoga, meditation. I have a lot to get done today that hasn’t gotten done yet, and I have a feeling I will be working on the articles through the weekend to get them in shape for Monday’s deadline. I have three script coverages due today.

I also want to work on the outline some more for CAST IRON MURDER. I realized that one of my favorite characters hasn’t been woven through the piece enough. I need to go back and do that in the outline. She will also serve as one of the red herrings, which will help solve that problem.

I just am weary, and feel like I could sleep for a week. Which is frustrating, because, basically, in and around typical Mercury retrograde glitches, things are going in the right direction.

One step at a time. I have to keep reminding myself we’re still in a pandemic. I’m also getting sick and tired of this whole “return to normal” fiction. “Normal” wasn’t great in the first place. I want something different. Better. More fulfilling, on multiple levels.

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

Thurs. Oct. 14, 2021: Enchanted Wordsmiths

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

Yesterday was not as productive as I hoped. There was a popular phrase in the 70’s: “My get up and go got up and went.” That was me, yesterday.

Weather-y post over on Gratitude and Growth.

I got through a bunch of emails in the morning.

I took the time to create the above logo for a Writers’ Group I started for Nano, Enchanted Wordsmiths, and chose a header background of maps.

The sun was out for a bit, so I took a walk down to the post office to mail bills and catch up on what’s going on in town, and then headed over to the library to drop off and pick up books. I walked back down Church Street, as I love to do, enjoying the architecture, and, now, the decorating.

Home, read for a bit until lunchtime. Was wiped out, for no good reason.

Remote Chat was fun.

Did my journaling prep for the Soul Expedition. In the online group, there are already people making excuses about not doing the prep. Energy vampires, the lot of them. At least I know who to avoid during the expedition. I’m there to dig deep and replenish energy, not allow strangers to leech it off, because they can’t be bothered to do the work, and want to siphon off the energy from those who do.

Got the deadlined script coverages out, and read another script.

Received a DM on the Twitter account, haranguing me for posting to offer condolences to people grieving, support people struggling, and celebrate people’s triumphs. I was accused of “performative niceness” which doesn’t even make sense. If I can take 90 seconds out of my day to offer comfort to someone who is sad or hurting or struggling, why wouldn’t I? And why wouldn’t I be happy when someone succeeds in their dream? Sharing sorrows and celebrating joys is part of the reason I’m on social media.

It wasn’t worth arguing, so I just blocked the person. Arguing with them is not worth my time. It exasperated me as much as it bothered me. If someone doesn’t like the way I interact, they can choose not to follow me. Or block me. This wasn’t someone I regularly interacted with, anyway.

Did another block this morning, a self-styled “marketing guru” who was being an ass.

The block button takes a lot of stress out of my life.

The friend whose trip up here was cancelled due to Hurricane Ida is rescheduling for Halloween weekend, so that will be fun.

Went to bed early, because I was so exhausted. Pandemic fatigue strikes again.

Tessa woke me up at 3:30 and I discovered Spectrum internet was down. Again. Put in my repair tag, and tried to doze on the couch, but Tessa and Charlotte fussed at each other. I fed everyone at 5:30 and got going on my day.

Meditation group this morning, which I definitely need. I’m going to get my script coverages done this morning, because we have to do the prep for my mom’s COVID booster this afternoon. I’m expecting her down for the count the rest of the day today and then tomorrow, and have adjusted my schedule accordingly.

I need to work on the short articles and do a little more script coverage before the end of the week. I need to devote the weekend to the outline for CAST IRON MURDER, and unpack/decorate some more.

Since my friend is coming to visit, I need to get it done in the next two weeks!

Have a good one.

Wed. Oct. 13, 2021: Outlines, Energy, Supplies

image courtesy of Charlotte May via pexels.com

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Waxing Moon

Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and cool

Yesterday turned into a temperate and gorgeous autumn day.

My initial productivity, writing the outline at the laundromat, sadly, did not transfer into much productivity the rest of the day.

I’m happy with the work on the outline, although it still needs more. I have to type up the notes, and organize some of the paragraphs; I jotted down bits and pieces as I thought of them, not necessarily in the order they need to flow for the story. I need to arrange them now, see where the plot holes are, and fill them with things to at least try in the first draft.

After the laundry was put away, some email dealt with, and some breakfast, I headed off to Wild Oats and to Stop & Shop for a grocery run. Stop & Shop is definitely having supply chain issues, mostly with big brands. It shouldn’t affect me too much, but as they are getting things in that I need (that aren’t perishable), I’m grabbing a couple extra, so that we’ll be all set through the winter. That way, if shelves are empty due to supply chain issues, we are still covered; if it’s just that we can’t get anywhere because of weather, we’re still covered. I will need to do a Target run soon for cleaning supplies. We have about another 4-6 weeks’ still left from what we brought up with us from my pandemic stash; I’m going to stock up to get us through the spring.

I bought more than I planned, at Stop & Shop, because I am doing some of that stocking up on canned goods and staples. There’s still no apple cider vinegar, although I found molasses and bought enough for the holiday baking and some other recipes. Frozen vegetables and pasta were just about wiped out. Frozen vegetables are more of a convenience than anything else; the farmers’ markets and the co-op can keep us supplied with fresh, although we might have to eat things we don’t normally eat. Chance to expand the palate. Eat whatever’s in season. We try to do that anyway, but I usually keep a few bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer for when I’m tired or haven’t had a chance to hit the market. While the Big Box pastas may be out of stock, the local fresh pastas are well stocked in both Wild Oats and Big Y. There don’t seem to be issues with flour and yeast this year, so I should be able to bake bread. Although I’m going to grab another jar or two of yeast in the coming weeks.

We are fortunate that we have so many choices in close proximity. And, as I said, it’s mostly big box brands that aren’t getting restocked. Those are my backup, not my go-to, so I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m keeping an eye on things. We have enough stocked in our pantry to get through a couple of months, and as long as I can replenish as we use things up, we’ll be fine.

But it’s noticeable.

There wouldn’t be supply chain issues if someone wasn’t making a profit from it. It’s being spun as a labor problem, but I think someone’s figured out how to profit and blame labor.

Really weary on multiple levels. I did my Soul Expedition journal work, which was interesting, and then spent some time on the acupressure mat. I’m getting headaches from all the screen time. I need new glasses at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Got out the two script coverages on the tightest deadline. Read two more scripts.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are doing well. They are bright and curious, and this type of learning allows them to actually learn, not just prep for standardized tests. I’m grateful to the Smithsonian, the Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art for all their educational resources. Last night, we took a virtual trip through the Louvre, which was tons of fun, too. I need to do a virtual tour of some Venetian museums, and they thought that was interesting, so that’s on tomorrow’s agenda.

I was assigned my next book for review.

I have an ethical dilemma with one client; that client’s priorities have shifted in a way with which I disagree, and to the point where it may not be a good fit any longer. I’m debating whether to take a break with that particular client or just leave altogether. Usually, I’m all for a clean break, but I also know I’m suffering from burnout and pandemic brain, so I don’t want to make a mistake. I have to ponder this a bit, as I finish off some work for this client.

Stuck on one of the plays. I’m going back to the source material, hoping I can shake free of the stuck. I didn’t write enough notes on the project when the idea originally burbled up, and I’m paying for it now. It’s on deadline, so I don’t have time to faff around.

Hoping it clears up a bit, so that I can walk to the post office and library later. I hope the walk will clear out some of the cobwebs.

I didn’t get any of the short articles done yesterday, so I have to make up for that today, and also do more script coverage. I’m close to what I hoped to earn for the week, so I don’t have to stress.

I got pinged that UPS delivered a package yesterday afternoon. I don’t know where they delivered, but it sure as heck isn’t anywhere around here. I let the shipper know, so it can be either refunded or replaced. This morning, I found the package tucked under the mat, which means it was misdelivered elsewhere in the neighborhood, but, because I have excellent neighbors, someone took the time to drop it off. Because it wasn’t there when I checked at 9 PM last night.

Saturn going direct lifted a huge weight off (even though I’m tired). Having Jupiter and Mercury go direct next week will feel like a new lease on life, I hope.

Exhaustion kept me from concentrating well and getting things done yesterday in an efficient manner. I hope to make up for it today.

Tessa woke me at 4:30. I moved to the sofa for a bit, but was up and working by 5:30. She keeps coming into the office and yowling at me, then running around. I think she wants to play. Maybe if I give her a good, dedicated playtime session, she will let me work. Here’s hoping. Charlotte fell asleep during morning meditation and is still zonked out. Willa is busy in the kitchen.

Because, you know, it’s all about the cats.

Tues. Oct. 12, 2021: Am I Really Doing This?

image courtesy of Lisa via pexels.com

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Waxing Moon

Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Saturn went DIRECT on 10/10/2021

Foggy and mild

The weekend turned out quite differently than expected, but I’m doing my work on flow and flexibility, and grateful that my work allows it.

The plan, since it was supposed to be a warm and sunny day, was to go to Holyoke and Hadley (about an hour and a half away) to hit some stores we don’t have around here and stock up on a few things, and check out a few places to see if they’re worth a return visit. It wasn’t that warm, and it alternated between clouds and sun.

But the big thing that jettisoned those plans was that Tessa was limping, badly. Her right front paw was the problem. She wasn’t happy about me checking it, but it wasn’t broken, and she didn’t have anything lodged in it, and it wasn’t an ingrown nail. I figured she landed wrong on one of her jumps, or when she raced up and down the stairs, playing, in the night.

We decided to stay home and watch her, and keep Charlotte away from her, in case I needed to book a vet visit in the next couple of days. She didn’t want me carrying her, and insisted on jumping up and down, even though she still limped. But we managed to keep her quiet most of the day. I stayed next to her on the sofa, and even, sometimes, down on the floor.

Snuck off while she napped to send off my last script coverages for the week, and made my nut and a little over, so I could relax.

Got my book review sent off, but it was too late to get another assignment, so I’m hoping that will come through today. Managed to catch up on a bunch of emails, too, and designed a new ad for Fearless Ink which I will probably launch next week, after both Jupiter and Mercury go retrograde.

Did some research on William Morris Hunt and the female painters and sculptors he trained, in preparation for the steampunk piece.

Over Friday and Saturday, I read WHILE JUSTICE SLEEPS by Stacey Abrams. It’s an excellent legal thriller. If Stacy Abrams can be such a purposeful activist to save democracy and still manage her book deadlines, I can shut up and get back on schedule. I enjoy a good legal thriller, and oh, so many fall short, but this exceeded my expectations. Incredible plotting. Just masterful. Along with characters and storytelling and great settings. Top notch in every way.

Friday night, I set up the sofa bed, brought in Tessa’s food, water, and a litter box, and shut everyone else out of the living room. This way, I could be nearby if Tessa needed something, and could make sure she had uninterrupted rest from the others, so her paw could heal. She was pretty happy about it; Charlotte, not so much.

Slept through then night and got up a little before 5 on Saturday. No howling from Tessa, which proves it’s not about food, it’s about loneliness.

Tessa was much better on Saturday, but it was rainy and yucky, so we didn’t go anywhere. We’d hoped to go to Great Barrington, but that will have to wait for a sunnier day. I finished reading WHILE JUSTICE SLEEPS, and then made vegetable stock, and hunted down the box of Halloween treat bags. I was sure I’d brought it up, but couldn’t find it the last few days, and was worried I’d have to do another storage run between the time Mercury goes direct and Samhain. But I finally found it, so it’s all good.

Unpacked some of the boxes in the sewing room, filling the new dresser with fabric.

Signed up for a weeklong course called “Expedition to the Soul” by The Sisters Enchanted. I figured that would work well with the whole Chiron/healing theme. They give you a workbook to download, and ideas on putting together an “Quest Pack.” At first, I rolled my eyes, but reminded myself that I’m the one who signed up for it, so I should do as they ask, because there are reasons. When I teach a class, one of the rules is that you do all the assignments as asked, even if you decide to never work in that way again. So, as a participant, I need to show the same respect to my instructors.

 Once I started putting it together, I had a lot of fun with it. It contains items from Goddess Provisions and Tamed Wild that didn’t have placements yet, and were just sitting around until I found something for them to do, but they’re perfect for this.

Worked on some notes and background for a couple of writing projects, but nothing too major.

Made a quick mac and cheese lunch from Annie’s Organic in a box. It’s been a few years since I ate it, and I was not impressed. The sauce mix was lumpy and wouldn’t dissolve into the milk and butter, and, overall, it was too salty. In a week or two, I’ll have to make up a big batch of Moosewood’s cheese sauce and do their mac and cheese from scratch, and freeze a few packets. I used a Campbell’s sweet and sour skillet sauce with leftover chicken (and made rice) for dinner. Again, not impressed. Somewhere, I have the really good sweet and sour recipe my mom’s best friend gave me (she grew up in Macao, and we took a Chinese cooking class with her a looong time ago, but I kept all the recipes). Foodwise, Saturday was a bust.

I couldn’t find any photos of my dad for the Ancestor Altar we’re building, which is really frustrating. I was sure the big box with all our photo albums and scrap books went on the truck, but can’t find it. That’s upsetting; it better be in the storage unit and not lost for good.

But I have the box that was sent after my uncle, my father’s younger brother, died. Going through that, I found a great, happy photo of my dad from 1965 in Chicago, so I’ll use that. I also found photos of both his older and younger brothers (both of them were artists in Europe). And found a bunch of letters and ancestry research. Most of it is in that difficult-to-read German script, so it will take some time for my mom and I to interpret it. Most of the letters are typed, so my mom is going to work on the translation.

A Big Project for the Winter.

My mother’s father had done a lot of ancestral research on that side of the family, but I have very little information about my father’s side.

I slept in the living room again with Tessa, and slept through the night until nearly six in the morning. Heaven. By this time, Charlotte’s separation anxiety was in high gear, so it took a couple of hours to get her calmed down.

Tessa was running and playing at top speed, so it was just a bad landing on a jump, and nothing that needs a vet visit. Sometimes she forgets she’s not still a kitten.

Dreary day on Sunday, weather-wise. Spent the morning writing six short almanac articles, which was a lot of fun. Spent some time with the Quest workbook. Unpacked a tiny bit, and found some stuff for the Quest Pack.

In the afternoon, I read three scripts for coverage, which I wrote up on Monday.

Worked on an outline for a piece that is taking shape in my head. Those characters that were in search of a story? Found one for them. I’m starting to think it would make sense to work on it during Nano. Yes, the siren song of Nano calls. On the one hand, it’s a chance to write an entire project in a condensed period of time, and get back into the groove, and to connect with local chapter writers. On the other hand, I have three plays due at the end of the year in New York, and I need to get back on track with the series books, keep up with the script coverage and the copywriting, and other “in progress” things. Also, in previous years, I found those who quit before the end of the month were exhausting. They were always the ones pulling the most energy from everyone else, and then they quit anyway.

I’m worried that if I do Nano, I’m doing it for ego. I realize there’s a certain amount of ego involved in writing any book. But as much as I’m trying to justify that it’s about finding my rhythm again after stalling during the early part of the pandemic and while I was sick, there’s also ego involved.

Because, let’s face it, I regularly write more than 50K in a month, although not necessarily on one project. And I don’t have to interact on forums – in fact, the last time I did Nano, I found the moderators snippy and awful towards professional writers.

And doing Nano simply because of ego is not the right reason for me to start writing a book.

Writing because I’m pulled by the story and characters (which I am, especially if I can craft a tight outline between now and November), and writing a whole book from start to finish (which would spill over past Nano, because this book needs to be at least 70K. I’d need to keep writing it into December, while finishing off the plays. And juggling everything else.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to use that time and put that energy into something that I SHOUILD be working on?

Or would the WANT TO writing fuel the SHOULD?

If it’s the latter, I can work with the ego elements, ignore the energy vampires, and just write.

I don’t know. I’m having an internal debate. Maybe the Soul Expedition will give me some answers.

I know I CAN write 50K on a project in 30 days; it’s just a case of getting back to doing it, and then continuing it past November 30, to get back to my normal rhythm between 1.5-2K/day on whatever is the “primary” project of the moment. Can I use Nano to fuel it, even with a new project? Or will it just become another obstacle?

I wouldn’t mentor this year; Let 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS take care of that. I’m promoting it all over the place.

Of course, the site’s not letting me sign in, so it might be moot anyway! Update: I managed to get in, under my old password (wrote down the new one, just in case). Updated the profile, set up the novel. Switched regions. Looked at the forums, which gave me a headache. I can still always change my mind.

Then I look at my intent for the week and wonder, is Nano a bad habit I have to break, or is the uneven writing rhythm of the past few months the bad habit I have to break?

I don’t have the answer. Yet.

Did some work on the Fearless Ink ad. I might do two ads. I create a tagline and am sourcing the right images, and I found an image and can create a good tagline.

Monday morning, Tessa got me up a little after 4:30, because she was lonely (Charlotte was thrilled I slept back in my own bed and she could snuggle all night).

Good first writing session, good early morning yoga.

Barbara Moore’s THE WIZARD’S TAROT arrived, and it is spectacular. Looking through the deck gave me chills in the right way. I plan to use this deck and her STEAMPUNK TAROT together on Samhain, when I do the year’s monthly action/energy reading. It takes both decks out of regular usage for the upcoming year, but I think I can do a lot of work with them in the coming year with them as that foundational reading.

(This year’s deck were the Pagan Tarot as the action deck and the Sacred Circle tarot as the energy deck. Pretty accurate throughout the year, although not necessarily in the way they were originally interpreted).

Did another pass through the Nano forums. Some very toxic topics like:

–What’s your day job?

–What’s your favorite hobby besides writing?

–Writers are your competition

So, yeah, not participating in those. Whenever “what’s your day job?” comes up on something like Twitter, I respond “writing” and then wait a day or two to block the toxic poster. Or just skip the question and block.

And other writers are NOT my competition. That’s something the industry promotes to keep writers “in their place” and too many of them underpaid, because traditional publishers only have a finite number of slots. But the reality is that you can’t have too many good writers, because humans have an insatiable need for stories.

I admit it; I was tempted to be an asshat and post a snide response. But then I didn’t. Because I’m a grownup, and I don’t have to give in to these impulses. Being snippy is not in the spirit of Nano, which is for everyone to try to find their way to a regular writing rhythm. I can avoid the toxic, the whiny, and the dilettantes, without being mean.

Wrote four more short almanac articles. Wrote up three script coverages. Used the rest of the slow cooker pork to make pork Lo Mein, which was good, but, for some reason, the sauce turned out spicier than I expected. I’ll have to cut back on the red pepper flakes next time I make that sauce. Spent a couple of hours on the prep for the Soul Expedition stuff, using the journal prompts.

Read four scripts last night, which I will cover today.

Tessa let me sleep this morning until just before 5, but she is now insisting that, when I wash her bowl in the morning, I put the food into a WARM bowl. Okay, Tess, whatever you say, you’re the boss.

Headed over to the laundromat first thing, got both loads done and was back by 7:30, which was pretty damn good.

I used my time at the laundromat to work on the outline for CAST IRON MURDER, the working title of this piece. I wrote about 5 pages (I already had jotted about 3 pages of notes). I have the characters (the ones who were in search of the plot a few days ago). I have the situation. I know the murderer. I know why the murderer did it. I even have a couple of red herrings, and some good situations as my characters work to solve the mystery. I need more clues and red herrings, and to tighten it all up, which might not happen until the second draft. I need enough in the outline so I can get the first draft down quickly for Nano, and then, starting next spring or so, massage it and hone it and tone it. I want it to be fairly short – around 70K.

I’m finding I have to do some research, like do persimmons grow in the Berkshires? (They do). And about the casinos in Springfield. I really hope I don’t need to do a research trip, because I loathe casinos.

I feel pretty good about the piece and the prep. What I hope is that the energy used to drive this piece in Nano will spill out to the other pieces on which I’m working, and have a ripple effect. So that I’d work on CAST IRON MURDER first thing in the morning (after the longhand session on the other project, so, well, second thing in the morning), and then, later in the day, work on the plays. Maybe I’ll leverage the Sundance Collaborative writing sessions for that.

Anyway, I need to start my day. I have to do a grocery run in the morning for things like oat milk, eggs, wine, and coffee, and then get back to the almanac articles and the script coverage. I’d hoped to get LOIs out today, but that might have to wait until tomorrow. Working on the ad, too, for Fearless Ink, and the blog for tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice.

So it’s a busy day. Might put off the library and the post office until tomorrow.

Most of the students were away for the weekend, it being a long one, so it was nice and quiet. They’re really not bad, and when there’s noise, it’s for about 20 minutes or so. But there is a difference when they’re not around. I like both ways – the energy when they’re around, and the quiet when they’re not.

Hope you have a good week, friends. Peace.

If you want to grab a copy of the free 30 Tips for 30 Days, you can get the download links here. It’s not on Amazon; they blocked it because they don’t allow free downloads that don’t originate/aren’t exclusive to them. If you need a mobi file, contact me through the website, and we’ll set it up.

Fri. Oct. 8, 2021: Promise of a Lovely Autumn Weekend

image courtesy of Yaroslav Shuraev via pexels.com

Friday, October 8, 2021

Waxing Moon

Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Supposed to be sunny and beautiful, after a cloudy start

Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful, sunny, warm day.

Mediation was great.

Errands in the morning. Took my mom with me to the college library when I dropped off some books. She was curious, and she was so impressed with the beautiful space. When I feel comfortable being indoors with vaccinated, masked strangers for extended periods, I will do some work there.

Headed to the bank to do a deposit. Then to the public library to get our cards updated from “temporary” three-month probation to permanent. The staff is starting to get to know me, which is nice. Took my mom around to all the beautiful rooms in the library; again, when it’s safe to work indoors offsite, I will sometimes work in there. Maybe next spring or summer.

We parked on Main Street to take a walk around. Only a quarter for an hour, which is a good deal. Found the RMV office, so when we finally change over our driver’s licenses and car registration, we know where to go. Checked out a few stores and picked up something from a local bakery to try it.

Nipped around the corner to Bear and Bee Bookshop. I found a copy of Deborah Madison’s LOCAL FLAVORS, recipes built around farmers’ markets, for only fifty cents! Grabbed it. I love her cookbooks. Felt like I couldn’t just spend 50 cents at a local store, so I bought another book, too, a suspense novel.

We came home, ate our bakery treats. They were kind of bland; at the risk of sounding egotistical, my baking is better. I think sometimes businesses scale back on taste because they assume people’s palates are bland.

Looked through the cookbook. I want to try at least 60% of the recipes.

Spent the afternoon writing up script coverages. Got all four done.

Instructions arrived for my mom’s COVID booster next week. Quite a list of prep. More so than the original shots. But then, they’ve learned since they started.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We’re in a groove.

Used leftover BBQ pork from the slow cooker to make pork and black bean enchiladas, which were really good.

Read three scripts last night, which I will write up today, and then I’ve met my nut for the week, and can start the weekend. Once the mist clears, and it’s really as sunny and beautiful as promised, we are going out to enjoy it, so I’m going to get the coverage done earlier, rather than later, and also get my review out.

I may do some article work this weekend, but I want most of it focused on finishing the Samhain decorating and unpacking some more, especially in my office and in the sewing room.

The cats didn’t wake me this morning, but I was woken around 4:30 by college students having noisy sex in a car out front. So the cats were like, well, you’re awake, so. . .so I fed them. I guess it’s the students’ turn to be a cliché at this point in their lives.

I like the extended yoga practice I’ve started. The extra sequencing has some challenging stretches that are a good counterpoint to all the sitting.

I’m on several “alert” lists for copywriting gigs. So it made no sense that I was sent a listing for a bomb technician for the U.S. Navy. Whatever. . .

Have a great weekend, friends, and I’ll catch you on the other side. Holiday Monday, although I plan on working on short articles and script coverage anyway.

Thurs. Oct. 7, 2021: Cat-aversaries

Willa, photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Waxing Moon

Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Foggy and mild

I talk more about foliage and farmer’s markets over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday was a quiet day. I worked through some emails, wrote up four coverages, participated in Remote Chat, sent out some LOIs. Read three more scripts. Steady workday, although not as varied as some.

The longer morning yoga session helped counteract all the sitting, and I did another yoga session before bedtime. I want to get back into doing that. I sleep better when I have that transition time of yoga and the night meditation, especially if I’ve been reading scripts all the way up until bedtime.

I’d bundled the chicken carcass into the fridge because I was tired the previouos night, but made the stock yesterday. That will be good for the rest of the week’s cooking.

Yesterday was Willa’s 3rd anniversary with us, and tomorrow is Charlotte’s 3rd anniversary. Although they are litter mates, and were raised by the same guy, they’d been separated by the time we adopted them. Their original owner got the pair of them as kittens. He had a lot of health problems, and needed a service dog. The cats and the dog didn’t get along, so he had to give up the cats. For eighteen months, they were moved around to different relatives about every two weeks, sometimes together, sometimes separated because they fought (of course they did, they were stressed). By the time we adopted them, they were both very traumatized. It’s been a lot of daily work, but they’ve both shown a lot of improvement. They are healthy, curious, funny, and loving. Willa is the goofier one; Charlotte is more of a princess. Charlotte still has some behavioral issues, especially when it comes to sharing space and humans; she and Tessa have attained peaceful co-existence most of the time, but usually fuss at each other once or twice a day. Willa and Tessa are sort of friends, although they don’t really understand each other. But they hang out together and sort of play in the same space, but at a safe distance from each other. They were six when we got them, so they are about nine now, and Tessa’s going on eleven.

Charlotte, photo by Devon Ellington

We love all three of our furry critters, and are glad they are part of the family.

Tessa let me sleep until 4:46 this morning, which is just perfect. Got up, and had a good morning routine, finally. Coffee, first writing session (which went well), the extended yoga session, a good meditation session. I have meditation with the online group in a little bit.

I have four script coverages to write up today, and two more scripts to read (which I will write up tomorrow), and then I’m done for the week. I have to write up the book review today and send that off, so I can get my next assignment. Errands today: both libraries and the bank.

I hope to catch up on some more email, and get out some more LOIs.

I’m hoping for a few quiet weeks to get settled into a solid remote work routine, and also finish unpacking!

I managed to book my mom’s Covid booster shot for next Thursday, just down the road at the local CVS. They’re so much nicer and, you know, actually work with their customers instead of against them here.

Have a great day, friends!

Wed. Oct. 6, 2021: A Day of Cooking

image courtesy of Polina Tankilevitch via pexels.com

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

New Moon

Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Pluto goes DIRECT this afternoon

Cloudy and cool

Yesterday was a very go-with-the-flow type of day.

As I mentioned in the post, I had three loads of laundry done at the laundromat before 8 AM, which sounds like a good start to the day.

After breakfast, I paid some bills. Then, we headed out, in the rain, to the post office to mail said bills, and then to the TD Bank in Williamstown to close our account. That bank is one of the few places around here that doesn’t require masks. The staff is masked, although our teller wore her mask under her nose. Yeah, glad to be done with them. Our accounts are now officially closed.

There are a couple of bookstores I want to go back and visit in Williamstown at some point.

Got our grocery shopping done at Wild Oats and Stop & Shop. The latter is definitely having supply chain issues, especially on big, national brands. Some empty shelves, and they’ve been out of certain products now for nearly a month. Very little of it is stuff I actually use; we’re still using up stuff I’d stockpiled during the pandemic, and replacing staples and some of the canned goods as we go, so that we’re always ahead of the game and have a full pantry. We did so last year during the pandemic, in case there was ever a real lockdown and we weren’t allowed out more than once a week; we kept stockpiling once we moved here, because we’ve heard winters are harsh and there will be times we can’t go anywhere.

I’m keeping an eye on things, and making sure we’re extra stocked with certain items, so that if there are problems, be it from supply chain issues or storms, we will be okay for a couple of months.

After we came home and put things away, we had to refold the sheets from the laundry. I’d done a lousy job at the laundromat.

Read a cozy mystery where the protagonist who prayed a lot and asked for guidance wasn’t a very nice person (funny how that works, right?) and, frankly, was one of the characters who’s too stupid to live. So I won’t be reading any more in that series.

After lunch, I used up leftover sweet potatoes to make sweet potato soup (a Moosewood recipe). It’s pretty good, although when I heat it up for our lunches over the next few days, I think I will add a little more salt and pepper.

Found a “classic” radio station that was playing songs from the 80’s and 90’s, early in my career, when I had a lot of all nighters in various theatres or out and about, and the songs all hold lots of memories. So I danced around the kitchen while cooking, which was fun.

The soup took longer than I expected, and then I made a spiced apple cake (another Moosewood recipe). That turned out well, although I miss allspice in it. I like allspice in recipes with apples. It has cinnamon and cardamom. Next time I make this, I’m going to put in allspice, but I’m not sure if I will substitute it for the cardamom, or put it in addition to the cardamom.

That took longer than I expected, too, so it was after 5 before I got the chicken into the oven to roast (with potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots), and it was nearly 8 before we sat down to dinner. Late for us.

The cats were very confused.

While it was roasting, we had the Knowledge Unicorns session, which went well. The kids now being homeschooled have adjusted well, and are thriving. The kids who are doing remote learning through their regular schools are having a bit more of a struggle, mostly due to the pressure to go back in person. But we’re doing a lot of supplemental stuff to their various curriculums, as far as virtual museum tours and additional histories/readings and “at home” theatre performances online. They’re definitely learning more and more widely than if they were in-person.

But it also means I didn’t get any script coverages written up. I’m still fine with deadlines, as long as I stay on track today. I also didn’t read, so I have a lot of coverage to write up today, and a pile of scripts to read.

A group of characters arrived in my brain, in search of a plot. I made some notes, and we’ll see.

Although I’m not going into detail every post, I am steadily doing my first 1K of the day in longhand. Sometimes it’s a little more than 1K, sometimes a little less. But it’s happening. There’s just not much to say about it.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me up around 3:30 this morning. I moved to the sewing room and dozed off until about 5, and then got up to feed them, at Tessa’s very loud insistence.

The plot around the characters who showed up yesterday is starting to take shape, so I took more notes.

I’m chained to the computer today, writing up script coverages and working on articles and blog posts and a book review. I plan to take time out for Remote Chat. With the new moon, I upped my daily yoga practice. I lost a lot of progress during the moving months, and I’m of an age where I have to work harder to get it back.

What I’d really like to do is take a nap! Maybe this afternoon, for a half hour or so. At least I have that flexibility.

Have a good one. Pluto goes direct this afternoon, so that eases some of the 7 Retrogrades pressure. We’ll be back down to six. (Eye roll).

Tues. Oct. 5, 2021: That Retrograde Energy

image courtesy of Greg Rakozy via Unsplash.com

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

It was definitely a Mercury Retrograde weekend, both positive and negative aspects.

The Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site has the Questions for 2022 posted.

If you’re doing Nano this year, I have a free download booklet, 30 Tips for 30 Days, that gives you ideas for prep, daily encouragement, and what to do post-nano.

Friday was pretty calm. Got some of the decorating done, but there’s plenty more to do, along with the unpacking that needs to happen this month. Fish & chips for dinner Friday night was fun.

Tessa got me up early on Saturday. I fed them all and tried to go back to bed, but they weren’t having it, so I moved to the couch, she quieted down, I dozed off, and overslept.

But I got back on track just fine. I mean, it’s a weekend, no schedule.

My mom read about a small town in upstate NY that sounded like a lot of fun – farmer’s market, consignment stores, used bookshops, bakery. Since it was supposed to be a fairly nice day, and warm, we decided to go. Most places over the line into NY, over the line in VT, and around here are open on the weekends, and take their weekends on Mondays, Tuesdays, and sometimes Wednesdays. Which makes sense, because they get the day trippers on the weekends. We don’t have to worry about timing crossings on the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges so we aren’t stuck for hours, so we can actually go out and about on weekends again.

We got in the car and followed the directions, which took us over on 2 through Williamstown, then down a bit on 7 until we hit 2 again. I’m still getting used to mountain driving, and a GMC pickup truck riding my tailpipes didn’t help. NY Rt. 7, and then Rt. 22 north took us through lots of farms and a couple of odd little towns to the little town my mom wanted to see.

Which was a bit run down. But hey, everyone’s doing the best they can, right? It was a half hour past time for the farmer’s market to open, but not a single stand had been set up. Couldn’t find any of the stores that advertised in the local paper, and, even if we had, there wasn’t any parking.

On top of that, no one was masked, and there were yard signs around stating, “Unmask and Live Free.”

Yeah, no, not spending money in an anti-mask, pro-Trump town.

We left.

We stopped at a consignment store called The Treasure Hut in Hoosick, NY. It reminded me a bit of my favorite Saybrook Recycled Furniture. It has lots of great pieces at a variety of prices.

I found a wonderful pendulum clock (like a mini grandfather clock) by a silversmith named Wallace. It was only $20, so I grabbed it. I saw a couple of pieces I really liked, including a pale blue, small dresser that would look good in the sewing room, but decided not to buy it just yet.

Looking at the road signs and maps, it made more sense to go back through Bennington than retrace our steps. We went to Bennington, and stopped at Aldi’s, which has been recommended to us, but we’d never visited. Got a few things, but not really impressed.

Drove back home. Much faster drive this way, and also better roads.

We ate the pizza we’d bought at Aldi’s and talked about the dresser, then got back into the car, drove back to the Treasure Hut (via Bennington this time, much shorter) and bought the dresser and a small bookcase. They fit into the VW perfectly.

Drove home, wrestled the pieces out of the car. My lovely downstairs neighbor helped carry the dresser up the stairs. The bookcase was light enough for me to handle by myself.

The dresser fits perfectly next to the vanity table that I’ve repurposed into a sewing table. The pieces look like they were designed together.

The bookcase is ½” too big to fit on top of the dresser, so I put it in the living room, behind one of the wingback chairs, and am still using it for craft supplies and ribbons.

Tufts sent my mom a bill for her insurance premium, even though they dropped her. They can take that bill and shove it right up their collective asses.

Started reading the next book for review. Not thrilled with it. Switched and read the next Wonky Inn book instead, which was fun.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, early. It had a tarot deck included. It’s not a deck I would have chosen for myself, but I like its gentle energy. I look forward to working with it.

I had tried to get information on a sister Women’s March around here, and couldn’t find anything to which I could get to, was uncomfortable with being around that many people in a pandemic when I just spent a year fighting cancer, and angry that no one is funding transportation for people who want to attend these marches, but can’t get there on their own. If the wife of a Supreme Court justice can fund buses to bring insurrectionists to DC to overthrow the government, pro-choice organizations can damn well fund buses to protect Roe. The people most affected by this are the ones who don’t have the resources to get there on their own.

Tessa was at it again on Sunday morning, way too early. Not happy about it.

Changed all the beds (usually a Saturday chore, but we did it on Sunday). Charlotte got shut in the linen cupboard, which could have had tragic results. But Willa was running around, agitated, going in and out of the laundry room, and when I realized I couldn’t find Charlotte, I opened the door, and there she was. She was only in there a few minutes, but still. I need to be more careful. I thought she was asleep on my bed. I should have checked all the shelves before closing the cupboard.

This is why we always do a kitty headcount before we leave the house.

Chocolate chip brioche for breakfast. It was really good, but store-bought, so I guess I’m learning how to make brioche.

Headed to Lenox. Made a stop at Yankee Candle, to take advantage of their sale and the coupons they sent. Got some great stuff, and, except for bayberry candles for the holidays, I think I’m set until spring.

Then headed down to Chocolate Springs Café, where a local chocolatier creates all kinds of stuff. Bought a few things and ordered hot chocolate to go. All delicious. We will stop there when we are in that area.

On the way back, stopped at The Cook’s Resource, and I was in heaven. I bought a couple of things (including a fish spatula), and signed up for the rewards program. I might start slowly replacing our ancient pans with some top-of-the-line ones.

We were comfortable with the shopping, because masks were required everywhere. And, people were respectful about distancing (not that anything was crowded).

Stopped at a Chinese takeout in Williamstown. It was really good, and we’ll definitely get takeout from them again.

There was a parade down Main Street, which we circumnavigated. While it would have been nice to watch the parade, we’re still not people-ing in a pandemic.

Got everything upstairs, ate. The computer was being cranky.

And then. . .turns out the floats and a lot of the marchers from the parade came down our little street after finishing the parade route. We could sit on the front porch and see them. It was delightful. Floats and marching band and people in costume. So much fun. We got to enjoy the parade without being at risk.

Got the computer going again.

Read four scripts and wrote up a rush coverage on one. Finished reading the book for review, which got better as it continued, but I don’t know how many people will stay with it until it does so.

Monday morning, Tessa started at 3:20 AM. I refused to feed them that early, but I took the feather bed and moved to the couch. She settled down, and I fell asleep again, and overslept.

But I got going, slowly. Day before dark moon is always my lowest energy day of the month.

They fixed the heat in the morning, which was nice. I hadn’t expected it until the end of the week. Takes the damp and the chill out.

Wrote up script coverage, caught up on email, got some LOIs out. Got ahead on some blog posts. Spent a couple of hours scheduling posts for 30 Tips for 30 Days, so that people can find out about it/access it up through the first week of Nano.

Read four scripts.

FB/Instagram/WhatsApp being down didn’t affect me. We lived perfectly well before they were invented. Before people carry on about how WhatsApp is the only way most people have to communicate, my response is, “What the fuck did you think would happen if you let your life be dictated by an app?” People have tried to bully me into using WhatsApp and I DON’T WANT TO. Therefore, I don’t.

Charlotte and Tessa woke up at 2 AM this morning. First, I kicked Charlotte out of the bedroom and brought Tessa in. She settled on the bed, and we were all fine, until Charlotte started banging on the door. Then, Tessa found a ball with a bell in it. Anyone who has a cat knows what a cat finding a toy with a bell in it during the night means. Yup. Suddenly, all she wanted to do was play with the toy with the bell. Kicked her out of the room.

She started howling.

I grabbed the featherbed and settled on the guest bed in the sewing room. Charlotte joined me, and Tessa could see me from the couch, so we settled down and I dozed off again, until the alarm went off at 5, and Tessa started howling for breakfast.

Fed everybody, got the laundry sorted out, and headed to the laundromat. Got three loads of sheets, towels, and dishtowels done in just over an hour.

Today, we have to go to Williamstown and shut down our TD Bank account (finally). I need to pay some bills; we need to get our library cards off the temporary “probation” and into permanent cards; I need to go to the grocery stores. On the way back, we’ll pick up takeout from the Korean restaurant.

I have a lot of script coverage to write up, three more scripts to read, a book review to write, and short articles on which to work.

Later tonight, we have Knowledge Unicorns.

Guess I better get going, huh? Somewhere in there, I have to do more unpacking, especially when it comes to putting fabric in the new dresser.

Have a good one.

Fri. Oct. 1, 2021: It’s a Little Chilly in Here

image courtesy arthouse studio via pexels.com

Friday, October 1, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Foggy, chilly, raw

The photo is what I WISH I was doing right now – hot cocoa by a working fireplace.

If you read the above, add this: the heat’s not working. It was slightly chilly on Wednesday in the house, about 66 degrees, so I thought I’d turn on the heat, test it for the winter, get the chill out.

Nothing.

The thermostat said “heat on” but nothing came through the radiators.

Yesterday, it was down to 63 degrees in here. I called the maintenance guy, figuring there was just another switch somewhere I needed to hit. He said there shouldn’t be, and sent a guy over to check it out. The guy looked at the thermostat, and went down to the basement to check and make sure the pilot was on.

It wasn’t the pilot.

He worked on it for awhile, then had to go away for a bit, so we took the opportunity to run our errands – which set off a whole other set of whatevers, which I will get to in a minute.

At the end of the day, he told us that it was a valve, and the landlord ordered it. It will take a few days to get here.

Fortunately, it’s not that cold yet. I mean, it’s 60 degrees in the apartment this morning, but I’ll be baking, so it will get warmer. And the weekend is supposed to be in the 70’s. So we’ll be okay, at least until early next week. If the part is delayed, then the landlord has to figure out, with us, what to do in the interim.

Again, better to find out now than in the middle of a snowstorm.

We’re all aware of the legalities of the landlord being required by law to provide heat, but that only kicks in as of October 15. If it gets really cold before then, I’m sure he will have a solution. He has an excellent reputation, and has been an all-around good guy thus far.

We’re a little chilly, but we’re in sweater and added blankets and hot water bottles, so it’s not awful.

We’ll see how it goes next week.

As far as the errands went, we went to CVS to see if we could negotiate refills on the medications my mom needs while we try to sort out the insurance issues, since Tufts is being bitchy because we “didn’t ask permission” to move. Um, we don’t need to get the insurance company’s permission to move to a place we can afford.

The pharmacist was lovely and worked some magic to get the two refills immediately needed at a price I can actually afford. Unlike the clerk at the Centerville CVS who offered to sell us the refill before the move under the table for $3/pill. Which would have cost us $300 for a month’s supply, which would have also gone straight into her pocket.

At this CVS, watching how the pharmacists actually listened to and worked with their customers, it made me realize how awful the Centerville CVS was. Anything ever asked there was “no” or “we can’t do that” which included the shots they were supposed to give. There was always an excuse not to give a shot. Remember a few years ago, where they kept scheduling and then refusing to give my mom her shingles shot several times a week for six weeks? And we finally just signed up and got it at a different pharmacy?

They’re giving the Pfizer booster, although I have to sign up online (which, no doubt, will be a magilla), but at least they’re doing it, AND looking after people during the waiting period.

Then, it was off to Wild Oats and Stop & Shop. When we got back, I put a hunk of pork into the crockpot on high, so we’d have a hot dinner.

We got a letter from Medicare stating that my mom has paid her medication deductible and Tufts is supposed to cover the rest of her medication for the year. So THAT’s why Tufts dropped her – not because of the move, but because she fulfilled the deductible. They really are vile.

More information to send over to Elizabeth Warren’s office. Her office is helping sort this insurance mess out.

Kitty drama galore, too. Yesterday morning, Tessa and Charlotte achieved peaceful co-existence on the sofa by having a blanket fort between them. Later in the day, Tessa went into the sewing room and curled up on the guest bed – on Charlotte’s pink blanket (one of her prized possessions, which she brought to the household when we adopted her), after playing with Charlotte’s catnip banana. Tessa has never been on that bed, since we moved in here.

Charlotte was not amused. But that is Tessa’s way of getting back at Charlotte, because sometimes Charlotte sleeps on the guest bed in the third bedroom, near the front porch, (a room we’ve nicknamed “Tessa’s room” because her food dishes are in there), and Charlotte stole Tessa’s catnip banana.

Willa is smart enough to stay out of it.

I played with them again with the laser toy before bed, and they let me sleep until 4:46, so that’s a win for the day.

I didn’t get much work done yesterday, so I have to make up for it today, in and around the decorating. Because it’s October 1, which means it’s decorating day. I’m sure I’ll post photos on Instagram throughout the weekend.

I’m reading M.L. Rio’s IF WE WERE VILLAINS, set at a Shakespeare Conservatory, and, so far, I love it.

I’ll bake an apple cake later, and I’m making fish and chips tonight, so that will keep the oven on a good bit today.

Think warm thoughts for me, have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Wed. Sept. 29, 2021: Disrupted Sleep

image courtesy of pexels

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and cool

Yesterday was a calm, quiet day. I did my script coverages, I read more scripts, I read part of the book for review. I caught up on email. I worked on the novel, and on some notes. I answered necessary emails. I got some unpacking done. Got some research done on a project.

Nothing major, just a day with a nice rhythm to it.

Overnight, now, that wasn’t much fun. Charlotte woke me a little after one. It took a bit to get her settled down. Then Tessa got me up at 10 to 3. If they were quiet, it wouldn’t matter so much, but they are noisy, and I don’t want to disturb the neighbors. I tried putting Tessa in “her” room and shutting the door. Louder howling. I put Charlotte in the sewing room and took Tessa in my room, but Tessa rummaged and lectured and fussed until I gave up at 4:30. I fed them all, and then Tessa and Charlotte fussed at each other. I don’t know what to do to keep them quiet at night. They’re perfectly healthy; they’re not hungry. They’re just awake, and want me awake, too. If we were still in a house, I could just let them yell all night and ignore them, but I can’t do that to the neighbors here. By giving them what they want to shut them up, it gives them permission to keep doing it.

By the time I left for the laundromat, I was already exhausted. But I was the first and only one there, and got my laundry done quickly. It’s a little creepy at first, but I stay alert and am ready to bring out the New York if necessary.

Script coverage today, some LOIs, some short articles. I might run some errands, or I might wait until tomorrow.

Nothing earth-shattering on the home front (other than not getting enough sleep). They got used to being up with me when I woke up in the middle of the night to worry for all those months. Now that I want to sleep through the night, it’s no longer their routine. So I somehow have to gentle them into that kind of routine again.

I like having quiet days, where I can work at my own pace and not feel rushed or overly stressed. Now, if I could only get enough sleep. . .

Published in: on September 29, 2021 at 7:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tues. Sept. 28, 2021: Goldenrod Season (Achoo)!

image courtesy of MrGajowy3 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and cool

Yup, Mercury went retrograde yesterday, and will go direct on October 18. So buckle up, buttercups, we have seven retrogrades until October 6, when the planets start turning direct again, and we get some relief.

Yesterday’s post on the GDR site is about how I’m trying to form a better perspective on things.

The weekend was pretty good. I had to finish one last script coverage early Saturday morning. Once that was done, I attempted to put together the shelving unit. But that was defective, too. So I returned those units. Only got a partial refund, because they’d given me a gift card as part of the last purchase. I offered to return the gift card, but that was “too hard.” So, in other words, I paid for the gift card. To a store in which I don’t shop often.

Headed to a thrift store nearby, just in case, to see if they had shelving. They didn’t, but they did have a train case. In blue. It’s a Featherlite, sold by Sears back in the day. I have wanted one of these for decades. It was only $7. Because they were having a sale on certain items, it was only a little under $4.

The same style of case sells for $58 on eBay.

It’s a lovely condition. I was so happy, and it more than made up for the shelving issues.

I went through some of the art books from the college library. There was more good Canaletto information; I may be done with the play about his sisters, but I’m interested in writing something about his family and the Bibiena family and their stage designs.

I paged through a volume of AMERICANS IN FLORENCE, about the ex-pat artists community in Florence around the time of the Impressionists. That got me going on a few different ideas: the Fabbri family interests me, and I might pitch a play about Ernestine and Cora to 365 Women at some point. I was also interested in William Morris Hunt, and the female students he took on, called “Huntites.” That gave me an idea for a steampunk piece, and I spent some time writing a few pages of notes.

While I was doing that, an idea that’s been niggling at me for quite a few years decided it was time to spew forth enough information for a few pages of notes on that, too. It takes place starting after WWII, and running as long as it wants to run, about a couple who marries right after the war, the husband remaining in the military, and how they have to navigate their relationship through the huge changes that came after the war. Originally, I was going to have the wife be a quiet, smart, dedicated homebody, making her home a work of art wherever they live. I’m keep those aspects, but adding in that she was a ferry girl during the war, flying planes within the US. And that she misses flying.

A chance sentence in a book inspired an idea for a short story set in the afterlife. Made a few notes on that, too.

It feels good to be creative again. It’s nice that the Idea Fountain is turned back on again.

I needed to relax, so in the afternoon, I started reading CASE HISTORIES by Kate Atkinson, which was recommended to me. It’s a very different type of mystery, stylistically, and I enjoyed it, because it was so different.

Puttered around and managed to put away some more Winter Holiday decorations. I need the shelves in place before I can really rearrange things. But I also have to take my time and find the right shelves. Or, possibly, build them, if I can get the lumber at a reasonable price.

I’m getting a little tired of the cats getting me up at 4. 5 is fine, I like starting my day at 5, but 4 is just too damn early.

But I was up way too damn early on Sunday. I got in an excellent first writing session the novel. Saturday’s was okay, steady progress, but Sunday’s was actually good.

Cooked a salmon Eggs Benedict for breakfast.

I opened the train case to give it a good clean, inside and out. To my surprise, I discovered three decks of cards and a hunk of modelling clay inside it. All of which had price tags on it. I wondered if someone had put everything together and meant to come back for it. But wouldn’t they have left the case behind the cashier’s desk?

I went through the decks of cards. One deck has all but one card; but there are several cards that have been marked, so that deck was used, somewhere, to cheat. The other two decks were intact.

The modelling clay was something I had planned on buying over the next few weeks, so it made sense.

I contacted the store, when it opened, to tell them what I found and offer to pay, but they said it was their mistake for not checking when I paid, and I shouldn’t worry about it. Which was kind of them.

I gave the case a good cleaning, and am using it to store the extra Ipsy bags I’ve accumulated. When I travel, you can be darned sure I will use it; and I’m sure it will turn up in some of my writing.

I decided to pack away the summer dresses and shirts from my closet, so that I had some room for fall/winter stuff. I ended up unpacking six boxes still in my room. I found a bunch of stuff, including winter shoes and boots.

In other words, I don’t need to shop for clothes this autumn. Which is a good thing, considering how many carloads of stuff I donated before the move. I have plenty of pieces I like, that look good on me, in which I feel comfortable.

I rearranged some stuff in my room, too. I’m keeping some of my summer shoes in the moving boxes, until I can either bring up the shoe rack, or find a pretty bin for them. I still have two boxes of stuff to unpack, and then the bedroom is basically unpacked. I still have to figure out how to fit two more large suitcases in the room. They were in the closet in the sewing room, but I removed them so I could put in the decorations, and now I need to figure out where to stash them.

I’m adding one Samhain decoration to the porch/living room windows every day this week; then, on Friday, October 1, I’ll do the big decoration for the season.

I’ve been having a terrible time getting my tablet to charge. It’s my preferred way to read the scripts for coverage, because it’s easy to enlarge the font; with the amount of reading I’m doing at the moment, my eyes get tired. But the tablet wasn’t charging beyond 53%, even when I had it plugged in all day.

Just for the heck of it, I plugged it into my phone charger, and it charged. We’ll see how long that lasts, but every day helps. Never buy a Linsey tablet; it’s crap.

Yesterday, I was up again, way too early. I couldn’t get as much done as I wanted on the novel, because I have to do some research that will directly affect the structure and information in the scene. Can’t use placeholders.

The coffeemaker had a hissy fit. Every Mercury Retrograde, there’s an issue with the coffeemaker. Maybe I’ll stick to the French press during the retrograde.

I had to go to the college library across the street to drop off books. I looked for information on William Morris Hunt, but didn’t see anything. I did get a book of some of Bernard Berenson’s diaries, which should be interesting. My allergies were acting up, so I didn’t stay to search the academic network library catalogues.

I went to the public library to drop off/pick up a book. The book came highly recommended, but it’s in present tense, so it goes back unread. I loathe present tense in novels, and will only force myself to read it if I’m being paid so to do.

Contacted Berkshire Health Systems to see if I could take my mom up the street for her Pfizer booster. The woman I spoke to was very nice; they were having their meeting that day to figure out how to manage the boosters along with the regular vaccinations. She asked me to call back by the end of the week. I thanked her and said I would; she was surprised that I didn’t argue. Why argue? They’re doing the best they can.

By this time, my allergies were out of control. I’m not usually a mucus machine, but this was bad. For a few minutes, I wondered if I had a cold, or, heaven forbid, the plague (COVID). But I could smell and taste, and, if anything, my appetite had increased, so I figured I was okay.

I took some Benadryl (that I bought in Europe, not any of the milquetoast US stuff). It started drying me up. I wrote up the two script coverages due, and went back to reading the book for review before the Benadryl knocked me out. I took a nap for about an hour and a half, then staggered into the kitchen to reheat some pasta. I felt dopey from the nap, but definitely better.

The Tamed Wild box arrived, and it’s lovely. It also has a booklet of herbs used in medicine, which is good, since all my herbals are still packed in storage.

Read two scripts after dinner, then went to bed early. Slept through the night, although Tessa woke me at 4 again. Fed them all, tried to go back to bed, but they weren’t having it, so I took the featherbed and moved to the couch, and everybody settled down.

By breakfast, Tessa and Charlotte were both on the couch, buffered by the featherbed, in temporary peaceful co-existence.

We’ve started closing the door to the porch, so it doesn’t get so cold at night. Pretty soon, we’ll have to put on the heat.

Decent morning’s writing session on the novel. I realized I hadn’t done the research I needed to do for the next scene, but the conversation took an unexpected turn, so I bought myself some time (even if I cut that conversation in a future draft).

Lots to do today, especially since I’m behind on emails, and on the short articles. The allergies are starting to act up again; let’s hope it’s not as bad as yesterday. Benadryl knocks me out, and I can’t afford to lose a few workday hours again.

I had planned to do laundry this morning, but didn’t feel up to going to the laundromat, so that’s been pushed off until tomorrow. I’m hoping to play a little with ideas on the short story, too.

Have a good one!