Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020: Preparation

Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde

Yup, Mercury’s gone retrograde just before I have surgery. On the one hand, it’s not a good time for surgery; on the other hand, Mercury retrograde is about resolving issues hanging on and preventing one from moving forward, and that’s a good definition for what I’m going through, so I’ll work with it. Plus, it’s happening just a few days before the dark moon, so that’s going to help with the blood loss. (The closer to the full moon, the heavier any bleeding, because blood is our interior tide).

Friday morning, as I stated in Friday’s post, I had my pre-op, got some stuff done at the library. I told my book review editor I’d have the other book review for her on Monday, and what was going on; she was very supportive. Even getting in the review yesterday, it was early. Sent off the big article, and told that editor what was going on, and that I could turn edits around early in the week, but otherwise it would have to wait until next week. Haven’t heard anything from her. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, that she took Friday as well as Monday as part of the long holiday weekend, but I’ve gotten the article to her FIVE DAYS EARLY. If she comes at me tomorrow to turn it around — no. It’s the day before my surgery. If I get it today, I could turn it around tonight and send it off tomorrow, but if it comes tomorrow, it has to wait until next week. I busted my ass and used up most of my energy to get it in to her early. (Update: she’s being lovely and supportive, so my worries are for naught — details in tomorrow’s post).

I’ve been working with my book editors on new deadlines — I can’t be in galleys and final revisions right now. We have to adjust. They’re 100% supportive. We’re also talking about whether and/or how to handle the Corona virus in The Nautical Namaste Series. There are several different routes we could take, although I doubt any of them will show up in DAVY JONES DHARMA at this point. We are discussing how what I’m going through now will add some depth to one of the subplots in BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

Went in to my client’s late Friday morning, and we finished the designs for the 2021 collections and sent them to Thailand. She goes next week.

Came home around 1 PM and hit the wall. I slept most of the afternoon, and even the most basic tasks were just too much work.

Ate — I’m making sure I eat, whether I feel like it or not. Watched the last of THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW. Went to bed early.

Had trouble sleeping. Up on Saturday. Had my mom drive to us to the grocery store, so we got a few additional things for the coming week. Made apricot/honey/almond/orange bread. Researched iron-rich foods. Taking too much of the iron supplement makes me sick, so I’m taking slightly less supplement, with more iron-rich foods. Turns out I like a lot of them, and have been craving them anyway.

Worked on the book for review. Napped in the afternoon (and people who know me know I am not a napper). Tessa purred beside me.

Made the sardine/fennel pasta from Dorie Greenspan’s book. It’s yummy. Felt better about a half hour after eating it.

Wasn’t up to watching DVDs, so read instead.

Charlotte and Willa are both worried. They lost their original human to illness, so every time they smell hospital or medicine on me, they worry.

The arm the CT port/IV technician hurt on Wednesday looks AWFUL, is still horribly bruised, and I have trouble using my right arm.

Slept so-so. Didn’t feel up to making the whole wheat bread. The medication I’m on for the moment has side effects, which are starting to get to me, the worst being absolutely ridiculous mood swings. I have to keep reminding myself I’ve lost perspective, and not make long-term decisions until I can think clearly and review all the evidence. I levelled out slightly on Sunday and Monday.

But I was still angry at the paperwork that arrived from the hospital on Saturday, about pre-op prep. I’m responsible for keeping track of my things WHILE I AM UNDER ANESTHESIA IN THE OR or else I should expect everything stolen. Because this hospital is too fucking cheap to have security. There isn’t any. There are signs claiming there are cameras, but no security. Anyone can wander anywhere they want in the hospital at any hour unchallenged. It’s one of the things that has made me uncomfortable every time I’ve had to go there.

I’ll be lucky to have my clothes to return home in.

They can bite me.

I have follow-up tests on the afternoon of the day my landlord wants to have the “home energy assessment.” I told him they can come first thing in the morning, and have to be out of here by 1 PM, or it has to be rescheduled. We HAD this done already. To make us go through a bunch of jackasses stomping through the house again right now is ridiculous. Nothing has changed in the intervening years; everything’s just gotten older. Probably that’s why the landlord is getting it again — because he didn’t do any improvements based on the last one, and is going to pretend it didn’t happen.

Took it easy Sunday. Made arrangements with a friend to pick me up from surgery on Thursday. She’s making it easy-peasy, no drama, which is how it should be. I also specifically asked her because she won’t let the hospital admin bully me on the way out when I’m still trying to get re-oriented after anesthesia, and, based on the pattern of this past week, that’s EXACTLY what they’ll try to do.

Again: bite me.

I was making arrangements with the library the other day, letting them know what was going on, and making sure I get anything back that has holds on it, and extend whatever I need to extend. The librarians wee lovely.

Unfortunately, some random patron eavesdropped and commented, “I can’t stand being around people who are sick. I don’t do sick.”

I turned around and said, “I don’t do assholes, and you aren’t part of my life anyway, so back off.”

Again, since the 2016 Election, people are encourages to be their worst selves. There was no reason that individual had to make ANY comment. The person could have kept her mouth shut or walked away. But no, she had to make a comment, knowing it was inappropriate and hurtful. She deliberately set out to cause harm.

Leaning into my meditation and yoga practices doesn’t mean I’m going to allow people to be deliberately hurtful.

Finished the book for review. Sent off my review yesterday. The next set of books has arrived, and I’m excited to dig into them.

I have a ridiculous amount of books stacked near my recovery area. I ordered more, which I hope will come in by Wednesday — Helene Hanff’s books, which are charming and fun.

Rested and read a lot on Sunday. Roasted a chicken. Noodled with some ideas, but didn’t do any real writing. Got a different, more potent iron supplement that’s already showing me improvement. CVS was selling 30 of the pills for nearly $15. Target had the same one but 180 pills, for $6. Considering I have to take 4 pills/day right now for the next three months, I got it at Target.

Tried to clean up some of the branches that fell from the last storm, but didn’t get too far. Just didn’t have the energy.

Charlotte managed to climb to the top of the big bookcases in my writing room and run around along them. She’s very proud of herself.

Started watching MURDERLAND. The acting is wonderful, but I don’t like the fractured storytelling and repetition from different angles. A little bit is great, but this is too much. From the two points of view? Great. But the same scene from the two points of view repeated six times? No, thanks. Structurally, the storytelling doesn’t work for me.

Woke up about 4:30 on Monday. Didn’t feel too bad. My injured arm is still in bad shape.

Went in to work with my client for a few hours. I can’t afford to miss work. I don’t work, I don’t get paid, and I need money coming in right now.

If I hear one more news “report” about the lack of skilled workers, I will scream. There are plenty of skilled workers. It’s HR that’s useless, only interested in running resumes through algorithms & treating people badly in interviews. They want skilled workers? Don’t insult them with stupid tests and demands for unpaid labor. Want to retain your workers? Pay them fairly and treat them like human beings. It’s not that hard.

I’m playing each work day by ear right now. Working until I get tired, then stopping. Doing a little writing, but not much. A friend sent a draft of her screenplay to read while I recover — can’t wait.

Planning on going in to work with a client for a bit today. Will swing by the library to drop off/pick up books. When I go home, we’re going to vacuum the house and mop floors, so everything is clean. Tomorrow, when I come home, we will set up the living room as my recovery room.

I won’t know when I’m going in on Thursday until late Wednesday.

I have some placeholder posts scheduled, but I don’t expect to post much until sometimes next week (I’ll have something go live tomorrow).

I just have to survive each day, before I worry about the next one.

Fri. Feb. 14, 2020: Keep on Keeping On

valentines-day-3984154_1920
image courtesy of JillWellington via pixabay.com
Friday, February 14, 2020
Waning Moon
Cold & Snowing
Valentine’s Day

Yesterday wasn’t too bad. I made my mom do the driving, with me in the passenger seat giving directions, so she’d get comfortable in the car again and learn her way around. After a few minutes, she seemed to think she’s Speed Racer. She’s used to driving the Autobahn in Germany, so little Cape Cod road speed limits are an adjustment.

It was pretty funny.

But she’s more comfortable in the car again, and I’ll have her do the driving tomorrow when we go grocery shopping.

Got some work done at the library, dropped off books at Sandwich Library, stopped and updated my nurse. The arm that spat out the port is painful. Not discomfort — pain — and looks awful.

The CT results were pretty good, but there was one worrying thing — so my original doctor insists on scheduling another procedure for that as soon as the first surgery done. I keep hoping they can do it in one procedure, but no such luck. They can’t schedule the second until they know how I’ve come out of the first.

The scheduler called to book the surgery — and tried to put me off until March 20. I said no, I was told it had to be next week. She said nothing on the paperwork said so. I told her I SAW the doctor write it on the paperwork — he did it right in front of me, and he actually has nice handwriting. I also told her that my body could not tolerate the problem that caused the need for the surgery for another month, which is why everyone has been rushing me from test to test. I will be dead. The doctors want it done next week. She said, “Well, you’re on medication.” I repeated I am not waiting for a month, and the doctor wanted it done next week. She said, “Well, they don’t understand how this works.”

I was getting ready to contact my nurse when the chastened scheduler called back. The doctor put his foot down. Surgery is scheduled for next Thursday, February 20.

My pre-op was this morning. Easy-peasy, the doctor is going to make sure I’m not battered. The bruised arm looks even worse today and hurts like hell. I have a bunch of follow-up appointments to look forward to (ha) in the coming months, much of which will depend on how the pathology tests come back from surgery. But the doctor is optimistic, and happy that the medication change has made such a big difference so fast.

Worked on the article and finished it around 10:30 last night. I sent it to my editor this morning, with an update on what’s going on. I can turn around revisions early next week, if necessary.

Did a few things at the library, headed in to a client’s to work for a couple of hours and finish a big project. Then, I’m resting for the weekend. I’m wrung out, on every level.

Next week will test my endurance.

Have a lovely weekend!

 

Published in: on February 14, 2020 at 9:57 am  Comments (2)  
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Tues. Fri. 11, 2020: Health Issues Change the Game

Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Waning Moon
Rainy and cool

It’s amazing how your whole life can change in moments. Last week, it seemed to be for the better. Now, I’m facing some new challenges.

We’ll get to that.

I’m not sure why yesterday’s post disappeared instead of going live. My apologies. My intent, however, for the next few weeks is changing.

Busy, busy weekend. But the right kind of busy.

Friday was about gathering quotes for the article and starting to write it in my head. I find that shifting my process a bit to write more in my head means my first draft isn’t just blather. I carry the piece within me, thinking about it as I go through my day, working out phrasing and shaping. It makes it easier when I sit down to write.

Watching the fourth season of THE BEST BRITISH BAKING SHOW. It’s giving me ideas for my own cooking show treatment (not to star me, but something I’m interesting in creating, and also to get used to writing a non-fiction treatment). There are elements I like about the show, but the show I’m craving also does some things differently.

The weather was awful on Friday. Winds 75 mph. Much to my surprise, the power held. But I didn’t work on the computer in the afternoon or evening. I worked in longhand.

That included background notes and the partial outline for the Millie Quinn books. They’ve been part of my “back pocket document” for several years now, but they’re pulling at me. I wanted to get the basics out of my head and on paper, so it didn’t push out the stuff on which I need to be working.

Saturday, I was up early. I experimented with some breakfast pastry, and remembered why I hate working with puff pastry, especially on only one cup of coffee. I realized, as I made the whipped chocolate cream, that it had to be filling added after the baking, not something that could go into the oven (pretty basic common sense). So I basically made pastry for cream puffs, which turned out well. Unfortunately, my pastry tool that was supposed to inject the cream didn’t work. So I sliced the pastry and made sandwich-style cream puffs instead.

I tried doing a variation on a chocolate croissant, using Nutella in the puff pastry. I rolled it a little too tightly, so the pastry didn’t have room to expand in the middle, but it was okay. Not brilliant, but okay. Needs some work.

I had pastry cream in my hair before 9 AM, which gives you an idea of how it went. But that’s part of experimentation and recipe development.

Made a dump run for household garbage, and then another one for recycling. Ran into a couple of friends at recycling, which was pretty funny. It was clear and cold out, and I have my work cut out with me, clearing all the branches that came down in the storm. Friday was the first time; in the ten years we’ve lived in this house, where it didn’t feel secure during a storm.

Scrubbed down when I came home. Most of the Chewy order arrived for the cats. I didn’t expect it until Monday, and was delighted to get it early, because of the toys.

Tessa, Willa, and Charlotte each got a new catnip mouse, and they were delighted. I also got them spring toys, which I waited until Sunday to give them. I did, however, put together the laser toy so they could Chase the Red Dot. Willa and Charlotte were thrilled and ran and jumped and chased as long as I had the energy to hold the wand. Tessa had never seen it before, and had no idea what to do.

Giant load of laundry in as well.

Working on the article, shaping, seeing where I want to fold in the quotes. I had two of them back by Saturday morning, confirmation a third was forthcoming, and the contact info for the fourth. So I’m really only waiting for the quotes from London and Ireland, which should arrive today.

Worked on one of the grant proposals. I have to submit ten pages of work. I’m not sure if I should do 10 pages on a single project, or 5 on two different projects that show more range. I might send an email and ask.

I’m having trouble accessing the other grant’s information, and have to get an email off about that, too.

I want to get both grant proposals and the article out before Mercury turns retrograde on the 17th.

Worked on blog posts for the various blogs. Revised the beginning of the steampunk play, which I will use for one of the grant proposals.

The cats were hilarious. So happy with their new toys. It was the first time all three cats were genuinely happy in the same space since Willa and Charlotte joined the household. I hope this is the beginning of that being the rule, rather than the exception.

Sunday, I wrote 11 pages on one project, not something I should have been working on, of course. Sent off another quote request.

Worked on the article.

Made a smoked salmon brunch tart. Damn thing took over 3 hours. It tasted good, but the look lacked a good look. This weekend reminded me how much I hate making pastry.

Worked on writing and reading, including one of the books for review.

Over the weekend, some serious health issues accelerated. First thing yesterday morning, I went to the doctor. Who was alarmed. Who initially wanted to send me to the ER for a blood transfusion, which I refused. She did some in-office testing, and found that I didn’t really need one. But I had to go to the hospital to have an emergency ultrasound.

I was sent home to be more comfortable at first until the appointment. I used the time to work on the article that needs to get done this week. The hospital was supposed to call me with the time to come in. Hours went by, and nothing. So I called them — now, remember, I have hyperaccussis — talking on the phone is nearly impossible for me, because it causes such pain. Yet I was repeatedly forced to be on the phone because HEALTH CARE PERSONNEL refused to accommodate me.

I called the doctor — and got a third party, who got in contact with the doctor. Meanwhile, the third party told me to schedule the procedure myself. Only the scheduler wouldn’t do it. She said they couldn’t fit me in. I kept telling her that the doctor insisted it was emergency and had to be done today, and she refused. I was headed back to the doctor to find out what to do when the nurse called. She had called the scheduler and the hospital and told them it was an emergency and they had to make it happen.

I had to dash into the car, race across to the next town where the hospital was, not find parking, and then navigate the corridors for the appointment. But once I got there, radiology took me right away. They were very kind for the multiple procedures — some of them unpleasant. But it took multiple technicians at times, and I was there over an hour.

Then, I had to go and get a blood workup done — only the paperwork hadn’t been handled properly up front. So I had to go back to radiology, where they faxed paperwork to reception who then emailed whatever they needed to email back to the blood draw lab — which was across the hall from radiology.

The technician was lovely and kind. She understood my fear of needles, and was quick and gentle. I thanked her for being kind, and she was surprised.

By the time I managed to get back to the car, then nurse called and asked me to come back to the office. Although they were technically off-hours, they wanted me back. They HAD THE RESULTS. None of this waiting for a week. Everything was there by the time I got back across town to the office.

There, they did another round of unpleasant exams — which they did with kindness and gentleness.

The short conclusion is that I have a challenging few weeks and months ahead. In the very near future, I have an emergency specialist appointment coming up, possibly today; a CT scan this week. Fast track surgery. After the surgery, we will re-assess and see if more has to happen, and if so, what the options are. I said if I have a vote, and I will be vocal about it, there are certain things I want to happen sooner rather than later, and she said it might have to happen that way anyway, so it’s a good thing I’m willing to go even consider it. She’s also worried that I’m joking too much and not processing enough.

I shed some tears early on — and the doctor reassured me that it wasn’t my fault and I’d done nothing wrong. Which, of course, I know intellectually, but emotionally is quite different. But what else can I do except joke around with the technicians and try to make it as easy as possible for all of us to get through it? Living in the terror of it all isn’t going to help me. Acknowledging the fear is one thing, but living in it is something else, and I’d rather not live there. I’d rather keep on keeping on, adjusting as needed on the way.

I was put immediately on a medication to get me through until the surgery can happen, and told to watch for certain symptoms. If I have any of them, I am to go to the ER immediately.

Getting the prescription — CVS tried not to use the insurance, and I had to get the insurance re-run, but then it was all affordable. I’m really glad I switched my insurance — had I been on the old insurance, not only would none of this have been covered, but I wouldn’t even have been able to get in to see the doctor. On the old insurance, any time I wanted a doctor visit, I had to wait 3 months. I’m also grateful that I landed with health care

I’m not sure how much I feel comfortable talking about the details of all this, although you can be damn sure I’ll be talking about health care system issues along the way. Some posting might be a bit erratic, and I may pull back on a few blogs , and I apologize in advance. I’m going to try to get ahead on as much as possible.

I’m worried about money. I’m already living too close to the bone, and I was just starting to land opportunities to fix that — I HAVE to, because I have to move later this year, and I may need a new car. If all I’m worried about is money, I won’t have the emotional or financial resources to get well.

The medication started working right away. If they had started me on it earlier in the day, the day might have not been quite so traumatizing. I do want to emphasize how kind everyone except a couple of admin people were along the way. Plus, for the first time in my life, I feel like I have medical professionals that are on my side.

My client told me not to come in today, but I want to go in early and get ahead on a few things.

I wrote the review and sent it out; went to the office. I am waiting to find out when my specialist appointment is today.

I would appreciate any good thoughts you could send my way. I don’t have the support system here that I had in the Broadway community, and being without them scares me — although some of them will support me every step of the way from wherever they are.

Peace.

Published in: on February 11, 2020 at 10:20 am  Comments (2)  
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Fri. Feb. 7, 2020: Focus on The Work

Friday, February 7, 2020
Waxing Moon
Foggy and cooler

I’ve got a short post aboutMotive up on Affairs of the Pen.

I did an enormous grocery shop yesterday morning. I turned around the contract for the article and got out my requests for quotes. I have a good portion of the article already written in my head, and now am working on getting it on paper, and then adding in the quotes as I get them, and tweaking as needed. I’d like to get it to my editor a few days early, since it’s the first time we’re working together, and I want to give us enough time in case she requests revisions.

Started prepping for the grant proposals. I want to do at least one more revision on the actual material that will get the grant committee’s attention. I’m not sure, for one, if I should submit something in radio play format, which I know works, or something in novel format, which is what I’d actually use the grant money on, for one of them.

For the other proposal, I need to look at a project I put aside last year. It’s a project I’d used for a residency application, and put aside when I didn’t get the residency (they decided not to accept Americans that year).

I tweaked a recipe yesterday afternoon and made a honey/almond/orange cake. I was worried I made too many changes all at once, but it really, really worked. It amazes me how much I like substituting honey for sugar, and how much better I feel eating it

I answered someone’s question on social media and someone else jumped into the conversation to argue with me about not signing a detrimental contract because my lawyer agreed that it was not in my best interest. I’m not arguing. My lawyer is a professional; I get to decide what contracts to sign and not sign. I don’t care how many other people choose to sign it. And if Chickie-poo “doesn’t know anyone” who refused the contract, she must not know many professional writers, because I know plenty who won’t sign that particular contract, especially since we are all expected to sign a boiler plate.

The contract you receive with a publishing offer is the START of negotiations. If a “publisher” is not willing to negotiate contract clauses, it’s not a “publisher” with whom I want to associate.

I get to make that choice. Not be attacked by someone who made a different choice.

The stupidity on social media gets to me sometimes. There’s plenty I scroll past, but it annoys me when I answer someone’s question with my experience and someone else jumps all over me – and the person who asked the question SAYS NOTHING. That’s irresponsible. If you let trolling happen on your feed and ignore it, you’re not someone worth my time. Buh-bye.

Got my Chewy order in. Had to order cat toys to get it up for the free shipping. “Had to.” Riiiight. I’ll own it – that was how I chose to get up to the amount needed for free shipping. I think the cats will enjoy some fresh stimulation, especially Willa. I’m trying to teach Charlotte how to play, and Tessa needs some new toys. Busy cats are happy cats!

This weekend is about writing, purging boxes in the basement, and baking. I have a LOT to get done, and I can’t waste my time on people or situations who aren’t worth it.

Have a great weekend! I’m going back to the page.

Thurs. Feb. 6, 2020: Up, Down, Frustration, Joy

Thursday, February 6, 2020
Waxing Moon
Raining and mild for February

Well, it’s been an interesting few days, that’s for sure. And I use “interesting” in multiple connotations.

First, I have a quick post on Gratitude and Growth about my concerns that it’s not cold enough this winter.

Back? Okay, let’s settle in and talk.

I didn’t write about Tuesday evening’s meeting, because I needed to think about it and get over my anger by the end of it. Although the conversation went well, and I enjoyed the person with whom I spoke, there were red flags: a 12-hour day instead of an 8-hour day (but at 8-hour rates), no mention of a relocation package, it not being the position or the organization I expected the meeting was about. Then came the “next steps” part of it. Testing, which I don’t do for free. I understand needing to check someone’s proofreading skills, but you’re going to pay me for my time. Typing? Excuse me? I’m not 20 looking for my first job. Plus, typing accuracy is not necessary on a computer, because you fix your mistakes otherwise. Again, since it’s uncompensated labor, no.

But the deal breaker, for me, was the insistence on taking a DISC personality test — again, unpaid time. Above and beyond the unpaid time, any organization that uses a “personality test” as part of the interview process is not a place with which I want to be associated. Of course, it was presented as a “way to look at communication skills” — which isn’t what DISC or any of these other “personality tests” are AT ALL. They are a way to dehumanize candidates and sort them into single categories, denying complexity, individuality, and creativity to limit one into test boxes. It is data that is weaponized by employers to manipulate employees.

Here are two articles that support my position,“How Accurate are Personality Tests?”and “A Warning Against Using Disc/Briggs-Meyer in the Workplace.

Take your test and shove it right up your ass, honey. I don’t care that “everyone” in the company has to take these tests, and that you have taken them. The mere fact you asked means I’m no longer interested.

I sent a polite refusal, to which I got a link “explaining” what DISC is used for — a load of marketing crap I recognized, because I worked for the American Management Association back when these tests came into more prominent use. I know how the sausages are made. And why.

I was asked to “reconsider” and agree to take the tests. No. I said no, and I mean no. What part of “deal breaker” is too complicated for you? I’m not asking for an exception. I’m STATING, clearly, that any company who demands this of ANY potential employee is not a place I want to work.

I was so angry by the end of the night. Just furious

Another useless third party yakker wasting my time and energy.

So, that was that.

Wednesday was busy at the client’s. Still working on a big project. She’s all set to sign a set of contracts on a project that will be a disaster. I pointed out the contract language that needs changing, and she just shrugged and said the contract is meaningless. She’s wrong, but it’s her decision. I’m not cleaning up the mess.

I was disappointed to learn that one of the radio production companies on the west coast with whom I’d hoped to work this year is on hiatus. They liked the play, but aren’t in a position to produce it right now. I’m sending them a potential funding source later today that might interest them.

I also didn’t get chosen for a regular article gig for which I’d pitched last week. They liked my samples, but felt my voice was too unique. Well, they’d asked for samples in MY voice, not ghostwritten samples. Still, they were nice about it, and at least they gave me an answer. So it’s disappointing, but not devastating.

Add to that, the travesty in the Senate yesterday, with most of the Republicans voting to acquit the Narcissistic Sociopath.

We are truly in dark times.

Then, a bolt from the blue! A major publication for whom I’ve wanted to work FOR YEARS accepted one of my pitches! It’s a tight turnaround time, but completely do-able. The contract is on its way, and I’m sending out my requests for quotes. I’m excited!

I’m working on revisions the next few days, the short story, and two big grant proposals that need to go out next week. I’d like to curl up and sleep, but, right now, that’s not an option.

I also need to purge boxes from the basement. I’m way behind on that.

Finished watched Season 3 of THE BEST BRITISH BAKING SHOW. What a great bunch they were! I liked them all so much.

I’m experimenting with a cake recipe this afternoon. It’s using the basic yellow cake recipe again, but making some more changes.

I did a gigantic grocery shop yesterday morning. That should keep us going for a bit. Making pork bahn mi for lunch. Can’t wait.

Charlotte continues to be a lot of work. She doesn’t connect behavior and consequences. She knows certain things result in getting what she likes, but hasn’t connected that other things result in results she doesn’t like. Plus, this morning, she walked over one of the CD/tape players and set off a fast forward button and it scared her. Poor thing. It’s hard to be Charlotte.

I have a lot to do, so I better get to it.

Have a great day!

Wed. Feb. 5, 2020: Technical Difficulties

Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Waxing Moon

Head on over to Ink-Dipped Advice, where I talk about the issues I have with marketing materials creating “scarcity and urgency.”

Experiencing technical difficulties. Yesterday was frustrating. Will talk tomorrow about the big meeting.

Weird dreams Tuesday going into Wednesday. Theatre dreams, which I guess is a good thing?

This is grant-writing and script submission season. The next two weeks, I’ll be prepping a lot of both.

Meanwhile, this evening, I’m looking forward to pizza and wine!

Published in: on February 5, 2020 at 6:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tues. Feb, 4, 2020: Adjustments

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Waxing Moon

Hop on over toA Biblio Paradise for a post about my ultimate fantasy library.

Busy weekend. Friday was a lot of errands, then working on revisions and contest entries. Sent out a pitch and samples for a regular gig which would be fun, and the money would help achieve a few things over the next few months, as I get some other financial pieces in play.

Charlotte had a massive anxiety attack on Friday afternoon, and it took her a few hours to settle down. Which meant I had a few hours where she needed my full attention, instead of being able to work.

Saturday should have had more writing in it than it did. I was a little later than I wanted starting the bread, and it took longer on its rises, but it turned out well.

Friday night, I received an email from someone wanting to set up a meeting about a project with which I’d really like to work. We managed to reach each other on Saturday, and set something up for late this afternoon.

I made another recipe from the cookbook where I made the poorly written chocolate cherry bread a few weeks back. I wanted to give this book one more chance.

It failed.

I noticed something was wrong in the way the recipe was written right off the bat, and rescued it. But, had I prepared the recipe exactly as written, I would have prepared some of the ingredients in the food processor, and they would have sat in the food processor for eternity. There was never an instruction when to add them in.

I figure it out, through a combination of experience and common sense, but again — a badly-written recipe.

Where the hell was the editor on this book? Why weren’t any of the recipes tested?

I’m going to give it away. The recipes aren’t good.

The recipe itself was bland. I’m going to dress up the leftovers with some paprika.

It makes me really angry. Here, the author got away with it because there’s a huge following on her novels — but her recipes are badly written, and don’t taste good. The first red flag was when she talked about God in the introduction. Honey, God expects us to handle our own cooking.

I should have test-driven the cookbook. I’d read through a copy from the library, but I hadn’t actually done any recipes before I bought it. That’s on me.

The other recipe was a cake, which I put mixed and put in while the bread was in the oven. It was a very basic yellow cake recipe from my mother’s old LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL cookbook, which is good for basics. I added in a little almond extract. I made two layers, as instructed, and filled them with strawberry jam, and then did a chocolate satin icing, decorated with almonds.

The strawberry jam was a bit too much, especially since the batter didn’t need to be in two pans/two layers. Next time I do this recipe, I will just do it as a single layer with the icing. The icing is superb. The icing recipe is from the NEW BASICS COOKBOOK, which is one of my favorites.

Worked on the short story, worked on contest entries.

Finished watching Season 2 of THE BEST BRITISH BAKING SHOW. Ruby was an annoying little whiner, wasn’t she? I wish the judges would TEACH techniques, instead of smirking and leaving technique out of the recipes in the technical challenges. Also, I wanted to slap them every time they said something was under-baked — then don’t give them only two hours! And expect it cooled and perfectly decorated! The parameters are unrealistic for home bakers.

Makes me want to write a treatment for my own food show — not with me in it, but run along parameters that make it a tool for teaching, historical and societal context of food, etc. A gourmand, a home cook, a food historian, and five students who progress through the series, learning techniques and then creating their own recipes.

Managed to get four loads of laundry done on Saturday, too.

February’sGoddess Provisions box arrived, and it was wonderful! I’m so delighted with it. Also got my wall calendar — the one I usually get was sold out, so I got a different one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the astrological notations I need. Fortunately, I have it in my usual datebook.

Up early Sunday. Made honey-pecan-chocolate chip muffins, which were delicious. I liked substituting honey for sugar, and using a little baking powder. The sugar converter was a big help.

Worked on contest entries, worked on revisions, worked on the short story, worked on blog posts to get ahead for the month of February on the specialty blogs.

Imbolc ceremony was lovely. Lots of change predictors coming. I just have to choose the right change.

Didn’t really care about the Super Bowl. Sort of kept an eye o the score, but that was it. And, of course, the Narcissistic Sociopath didn’t even know from which state the winners come. He celebrates ignorance, cruelty, stupidity, and greed, which is why his base loves him so much.

Got an idea for an intriguing group of characters, but don’t know what to do with them. Made some notes, but it has to percolate.

Yesterday, I had a decent first writing session, spent a few hours with my client, then had other appointments, which meant I had to miss meditation. Hit my head in the morning, which upset my day, because I was dealing with that aftermath.

Work on revisions and contest entries in the evening.

This morning, out early for some errands, then with a client most of the day, then this afternoon is the first conversation of the Very Important Meeting. Fingers crossed that it goes well.

And, always, back to the page.

January 31, 2020: Month Changeover, Fresh Chances, Achieving, and Falling Short

Friday, January 31, 2020
Waning Moon
Sunny and mild

Hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site, for my January wrap-up. I have mixed feelings about my progress. And then hop over to Affairs of the Pen to see a post about how writing about Sophie and her capacity for joy is such a pleasure.

Got some decent work done at the library yesterday, including getting the numbers put in on the US Numbered Format version of “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale.”
Now, I have to do the same for “Pier-less Crime” and then send them off to the director, so he has the trilogy (since he likes “Horace House” so much).

Got a carload of leaves to the dump. Maybe this weekend, I can do some more yard work, if the weather holds.

Started watched THE BEST BRITISH BAKING SHOW Season 2 last night. Not as tight and funny a group as on Season 1. Competitions just aren’t my thing. When I’m baking, I’m going to keep at it until I get it right, not be forced to do something new to me in a couple of hours. No, thanks. I like this show better than most competition shows (which, for the most part, I loathe). But I still disagree with a lot of the parameters.

Working on the BALTHAZAAR revisions. Tearing out a whole subplot section and rebuilding it, which is a challenge.

I have the short story in my head, clear as can be. But can the words find the page properly?

Absolutely disgusted with the GOP Senators. They all belong in prison. And so disappointed in the Chief Justice.

Today is Brexit, so now the UK economy gets to crash, too. Not a good day, all the way around.

How did I do on my intent for the week, for quiet?

I decided not to attend a networking event. Work prevented me from attending meditation group. I kept my mouth shut at work more than I wanted, but it made sense so to do. There were several online conversations I chose not to enter, because the people involved weren’t worth the aggravation. They didn’t want genuine answers to their questions; they wanted their own views reinforced. Not worth the time and energy. I refrained from responding to an insulting email from the potential client meeting last week, where I’d withdrawn from consideration because we were not a good fit. Wednesday, they sent me a rude email saying they were going with someone else. Of course they did — I already told them I wouldn’t work for them. What are they, six? All about control, yet another indication that we weren’t the right fit.

Lots of reading and writing again this weekend; yard work if the weather holds, purging the basement if it doesn’t.

Have a great weekend! I have a slew of errands and bill-paying, and then it’s back to the page.

Thurs. Jan. 30, 2020: The Need to Focus

Thursday, January 30, 2020
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Over on Gratitude and Growth, I talk about the dilemma I’m facing with the garden.

Yesterday was exhausting. Big project with a client leaves me wrung out by the time I’m done there. Nothing is wrong, nothing is bad, it just takes a lot of energy.

I haven’t had a good writing week, which means I have to make up for a great deal over the next four days.

I had a good pitching week, at least as far as getting out a lot of article pitches. We’ll see if anything hits.

Remember the potential client meeting I had last week, where I pulled out of consideration and said we were not the right fit? The person with whom I met thanked me for my honesty? Well, yesterday, I got a shirty email from someone else in the company, stating they decided to go forward with someone else. Um, so? I already told them I wasn’t going to work with them. We were done. They wanted to act like it was THEIR decision, not mine? Control issues much? Whatever.

They’ve been added to my list of companies not to work with and not to pitch to again.

Reading some very good books for the contest entries. The categories get more and more competitive every year with the quality of entrants. It’s wonderful. It’s exciting to pick up every book. Some of them miss here and there on certain points, but the writing has gotten stronger and stronger every year.

While it’s briefly sunny today, I have to take the leaves to the dump and then go out and do some yard work.

Then, it will be back to the page. The short story is taking shape nicely, but I have to have the main focus on the revisions this weekend.

Plus, I have coursework to complete on both the Robert Burns course and the course on Fashion Innovation. Gotta keep learning.

Back to the page.

 

Wed. Jan. 29, 2020: Good Show Improves Week

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Waxing Moon

Ink-Dipped Advice’spost talks about Intent, and ties back in to what we do here on Mondays. I hope you enjoy it.

On Monday night, my radio play “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” was performed in Florida. I sent them best wishes for a good show, and heard that the audience absolutely loved the piece, and was delighted to have more Frieda and Laz. Frieda and Laz have become fan favorites.

Work commitments prevented me going to meditation group on Monday, and I missed it. I sat on my own, which I enjoy, but I also enjoy the group. Although sometimes there’s too much of the “guided” and not enough silence.

Monday night, I read Ann Patchett’swonderful new book, THE DUTCH HOUSE. Wow. Just wow. I could not put it down. Beautiful writing and characterization, although I got irritated with the protagonist’s disinterest in everyone around him over the course of his entire life. He was constantly surprised to find out that people had lives that didn’t revolve around him. That their lives had a richness when they were away from him. Patchett showed that very well.

So yes, I sat up late until I finished the book! I love doing that.

Got some admin work done on Tuesday morning, mediocre writing session, answered a letter from my college advisor, which was fun. College was way back in the early 80s, and we have kept in touch. I’m so glad. He was a wonderful advisor, especially when I went through some rough stuff. He has been a touchstone for me through the years. Now he’s written his first novel, and I’m delighted.

Got out another article pitch. Worked onsite with a client. Got some work done at the library. Got some more work converting “Intrigue” into US Numbered format for a different production company that’s doing “Horace House” in October. I figured I’ll reformat the other two plays of the trilogy; that way, the director has them all and can decide if he wants to do them, or just “Horace House.”

Still struggling with the end of “Trust.” I’ve lost the thread of what I’m trying to do, and have to figure it out again.

Today will be an intense day with the client, working on a big project. Then, it’s home for pizza night. I hope to get some work done on revisions.

Tomorrow, if the weather holds, I’ll do some yard work, along with the writing and other work. I’m working on a new targeted prospect list for the postcards. Third party recruiters and HR are a waste of time and space.

You know who else is a waste of space? The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I’ve been a juror in all kinds of trials over the years. No judge in any trial on which I’ve ever served has been as inept and useless as the Chief Justice. No jurors could get away with what the Republican Senators are getting away with. They’d be held in contempt of court.

THIS is the person who supposedly heads the highest court in the land? What a huge disappointment, at a critical juncture in our republic.

It’s both enraging and discouraging.

I will find a way to work on it via fiction, but it’s no fun to live through, that’s for damn sure.

 

Tues. Jan. 28, 2020: Feeling Scattered

Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Waxing Moon

Over onA Biblio Paradise, I talk about bibliographies.

The weekend was frustrating. I got the books for review read and reviewed, which was good, and worked on contest entries.

We were it would be stormy all weekend, so those were my preparations.

Saturday, I got laundry done and worked on the baking. I thought I’d timed it so it wouldn’t take long, and then I could write. Boy, was I wrong!

The Portuguese sweet bread was easy to put together and set out to rise. But then, I tried a new-to-me recipe for chocolate cherry bread. The recipe was poorly written. There were a few times, as I prepped it, where I thought, “That can’t be right. The science of it doesn’t make sense.” But I’d never made it before, and the first time I do a new recipe, I usually follow it as written, and then adjust from there.

I should have trusted my instincts. Absolute disaster.

I manage to salvage some of it, make adjustments by instinct, and there’s a decent, if somewhat bland loaf of dark bread. But my good, deep mixing bowl was nearly ruined and had to be heated over a pot of boiling water in order for me to scrape off the mess.

I was going to make a bacon corn chowder from the same cookbook, but now I’m not sure. I feel like I should try one more recipe; if that doesn’t work, I’ll donate the cookbook to the library book store and cross that author off my list.

It was a relief to go back to Martha Stewart’s banana-walnut-chocolate chip cookies. I definitely have my issues with the Martha Stewart brand, but her recipes work.

By then, it was mid-afternoon, and I was too tired to do the writing work I’d planned. So I read instead.

Friday and Saturday nights we binged on Season 1 of THE BEST BRITISH BAKING SHOW, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I don’t like so-called “reality” shows, and I loathe competition shows, especially food-oriented ones. It’s one of the reasons I stopped watching the FOOD NETWORK. Every time I turned it on, it was a competition.

It was nearly 2 AM by the time I got into bed on Saturday night. Some of the stuff was too fussy — I have no interest in a 20-layer grilled torte. But the episode where they made éclairs was interesting. I adore éclairs, and it made me want to learn how to make choux pastry and perfect my custards/creams, etc. I’ve always been bad at custard making.

I admire their decorating skills, too. I don’t have the patience, at this point in the game, and I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be under time pressure.

But I found it interesting, and I learned a lot from why something didn’t work, and I liked most of the people involved. No faux drama and they weren’t mean to each other, for the most part. They were encouraged to do good work, not to be their worst selves for the camera.

Sunday, I didn’t feel like doing anything. I read a bit, worked on the reviews. Worked on contest entries. Worked ahead on some blog posts, and the next Medium article, a couple of pitches, and the short story.

Monday morning, all three cats were very agitated in the morning. We couldn’t figure out why. Charlotte suffers from anxiety, but all three were in a tizzy. We checked the house and the yard, and nothing was wrong. A work colleague noticed the same with her cat around the same time.

Monday, I sent off the reviews, the pitches, got out some more LOIs. Got an invoice out. Got paid (love that). Worked on the short story. Worked on the BALTHAZAAR revisions. Worked with a client. Got out a submission of one of the radio plays to a market I’d like to crack. Started adapting another radio play to the US Numbered Version, so I can send it off.

Answered a few questions from my director in Florida, and “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” was performed/broadcast last night. Very excited. I wish I could have gone down to be there in person.

This morning, a decent first writing session, some remote work with a client, then onsite with another client, then some work at the library.

One word after another, and eventually, there are enough words for a piece.

 

Published in: on January 28, 2020 at 7:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Mon. Jan. 27, 2020: Intent for the Week: Quiet

sea-1031470_1920
image courtesy of freephotos via pixabay.com
Monday, January 27, 2020
Waxing Moon

This does and doesn’t tie into the post over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site about “Precipice” other than the fact that I feel as though I’m on the edge of one.

My intent for this week is “Quiet” which will be a challenge on every front.

Client work will be busy and chaotic this week. I won’t have exterior quiet, so I will have to work on the interior quiet.

With everything going on politically, there will be even more noise than usual. I will keep up with my trusted sources of information, and back away from a lot of other noise. I need to do some work and make some decisions that can’t be distracted by other people’s noise or agendas.

I will carve out additional time this week for solitude and meditation, extending my morning and evening meditation times.

If the weather is decent, I hope to add in a couple of solitary walks.

I’m fed up and done with situations on several fronts. Rather than be reactive, I want to step back, be quiet and thoughtful, and work on decisions from there.

What is your intent for the week?

Published in: on January 27, 2020 at 6:33 am  Comments (2)  
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Fri. Jan. 24, 2020: Gearing Up for A Busy Weekend

Friday, January 24, 2020
New Moon
Sunny and mild

There’s a new post on Affairs of the Pen, under the Ava Dunne name, about how we’re all kids eager to look for lost treasure.

Yesterday really felt like a lost day, work-wise. It was frustrating.

I got a little bit of writing done before the rental inspection. The inspection itself takes only a few minutes, especially since everything’s okay and we have an ethical landlord. But the timing of it means I couldn’t really start anything until it was over.

I managed to get to the library and get a few things done, but I was under time constraints. Couldn’t get anywhere near done what I needed to.

Dashed back, bolted down a quick lunch, and then took my mother to the doctor. Where we waited for an hour and a half for a five-minute appointment. So, basically, the afternoon was lost, too.

I got in some reading, and finished the book for review, and started reading a fascinating book on the literary world in 1922, where this author believes everything changed.

Had planned to take a walk on the beach, but by the time we got out of the doctor’s office, it had clouded up and gotten too windy.

Leftovers for dinner, and reading. I’m still working my way through my re-reads of Donna Leon’s Brunetti series.

I have to do some research on Chicago in 1856 to get the correct names of a few things for “A Woman for the Job.”

Started “A Rare Medium” — the next Kate Warne play, about a case of hers where she posed as a medium. I have to dig up my notes on names, but it’s percolating along nicely.

Working on revisions for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE. Some of it is sticky work, but once I fix the first half, where I got off track (again), the rest should fall into place pretty nicely.

Unpacked and purged a few boxes, and sorted out some clothes. Figuring out what to donate, what to get rid of, what to pack away as stock, and what to keep in the closet.

Yesterday was the first day of full peaceful co-existence for all three cats since Willa and Charlotte came to live here. Even Tessa and Charlotte ignored each other, while being in the same room, which is huge progress.

If Charlotte had ended up in a shelter, she would have been marked unadoptable. Fortunately, MA has only no-kill shelters, or she would have ended up on death row. She can’t stand confinement or closed doors or chaos and doesn’t do well with strangers. I’m glad she’s here and I figured out how to work with her to make her feel safe. The sunnier, sweeter side of her personality is starting to come out.

Willa just kind of does her own thing. She likes company, but refuses to engage when Charlotte has a tantrum. She’s very, very smart, and keeps at something until she figures it out. And friendly. She’s a friendly, easy-going cat most of the time.

Tessa is getting used to them. She doesn’t assert herself enough with them, but there’s peaceful co-existence. As my vet in NY said, it’s healthier for them to be together in the same room and ignore each other than be alone. After all, we took in these cats because Tessa hates being an only cat.

We’re getting there. I hope we’ve turned a corner. There will be some regression here and there, I’m sure, but consistency, boundaries, and lots and lots of affection have brought them a long way.

I had a meeting with a potential client late in the morning, which is why this is posting so late. The conversation was fine, but we are not what each other needs right now.

Now, I’m off to the grocery store, and then back to write the review and start the next book for review.

The weather’s supposed to be bad this weekend, so I’ll stay in to write, read, and purge boxes from the basement. Maybe run the leaves to the dump tomorrow morning, if the weather’s okay.

With a new moon, Burns Night, Virginia Woolf’s birthday, and Chinese Lunar New Year all hitting this weekend, I will be exhausted.

Received the second invitation to work without pay this week, this time a speaking engagement. I gracefully declined. What gets me about both invitations was that it comes from people who are paid and who don’t work without pay — yet they want me so to do.

Put in my share of that.

I looked over my clips and what I use where. I realized that my unpaid clips for “exposure” only resulted in requests for more unpaid work. Clips from paid gigs led to more paid gigs. That’s important information. I will sit down and figure out the exact stats, but it was an important realization.

How did I do with my intent to listen this week? I definitely listened. I definitely did not like a lot of what I heard. The Senate Trial is enraging and disheartening. The Republican Senators are a disgrace.

I listened to a lot of incidental conversations around me. As a writer, I do periodic eavesdropping anyway, as part of my process to catch cadence. But I was discouraged by the amount of intentional stupidity going around.

So, yes, I achieved my “intent” for the week, but the consequences were not what I foresaw. I still have a couple of days to go on the week, but I think I will focus on listening to music!