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!

Wed. Sept. 2, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 105 — Keep on Keeping On

flower-3876195_1920
image courtesy of MabelAmber via pixabay.com

Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Full Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and mild

Yesterday’s oil change was a nightmare in a place that didn’t follow ANY safety protocols – only I couldn’t get out once the car was in the bay until they were done. I am furious. The company lies and the employees are a bunch of anti-mask COVIDIOTS. I will not go back there unless I have no other choice.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they sabotaged the car because I was wearing a mask. We will see, over the next few days.

Home, extra disinfectant protocols (to scrub off the scum),

Admin work, client work, article work, getting out press releases for Grief to Art.

Grief to Art Logo

The allergies are really, really bad. Sneezing like crazy, runny nose, itchy eyes. Finally broke down last night and took anti-allergy medicine, which knocked me out so I could sleep.

Some decent writing yesterday; not sure what today will bring. I have to go onsite for a client, which is always more stressful than it needs to be. I need to replace this client, and I’m working on it.

Read the first book in a series where I’d read the fourth book a week or so ago and really liked it. Unfortunately, this book uses a slur like it’s something common and normal – which, even if people do it, we should know better by now and it shouldn’t be accepted. I felt slapped in the face and so disappointed. I’d gotten other books by this author out of the library; not sure if I’ll read them. I was annoyed by the slur, and the character seemed a little weak to me – although, since I liked this character so much in book 4, maybe it was simply the starting point for growth.

Those “share the first sentence of your WIP” or “give us an excerpt of your WIP” are running around again. No. Just no. First of all, my publisher is very specific about not sharing unedited work on anything that’s contracted, and that’s something I respect. Second, why would I blow first rights on a social media game? Third, why would I “share” unedited work? WIPs are just that – working drafts. As a reader if someone splatters their unedited work out there, it immediately defines them, to me, as unprofessional. Self-published or not. And reading an excerpt that’s a hot, unedited mess is more likely to turn me off an author than be a marketing tool that works on me.

I’m all for sharing work privately with Trusted Readers for feedback — but not splattering it on the internet. Some random read-by opinion is not going to help me shape/fix/hone the work.

Excerpts are great – of edited material that’s about to be or has just been published. But I skip the WIP splatters. Not for me, as a writer OR a reader.

On a happier process note, I figured out how to fix a problem I’ve been having in one of my own manuscripts. I wanted the title to be a pun on a show title. I realized I could do that by simply changing the murder victim’s name, and have his new name be the pun in the title. A simple fix that makes all the difference. Why it took me several months to figure out, who knows? I’d like to blame pandemic brain, but that’s too easy.

A call for submission landed on my desk for a nine-month script development project. I think I will submit one of the pieces I did for the 365 Women clearing house – either the play on Giulia Tofana or Lavinia Fontana. The Tofana piece needs more work; it might not get chosen for just that reason, but the stated reason is to work and develop the piece over nine months, and that’s the piece of mine which would benefit most from a long development process, so I think I will risk it. I’ll do another pass on it this weekend, before I submit.

If I don’t try, there’s not chance at all, right?

Pulling together material for the next few weeks of the Knowledge Unicorns homework group (they came up with the name and a logo and want to study the Octopus as a special project for September). The group officially starts next week.

I wanted to participate in the virtual Spark by the Freelancers Union tonight. The closest meeting is the Brooklyn chapter and that’s full (how can a virtual meeting be full?) and I feel strange about signing up for the DC meeting, so I guess I’m not doing it this time around. Oh, well.

At least there’s Remote Chat today. Then, I need to polish my article to send off on deadline tomorrow, and work on my review.

The weather’s been lovely the past few days. Perfect temperature, low humidity. I’ve enjoyed working out on the deck in the afternoons. Yes, taking the cats out in their playpens.

I have to put in another Chewy order this week. Those little dickenses eat a lot!

Results are coming in from yesterday’s primary. So far, so good. Let’s hope the ballots for the general election arrive on time.

Tomorrow, I have to set up a bunch of medical appointments, and also set an appointment so my mom can renew her driver’s license next month and we can renew the car’s registration. Good thing I have the Llewellyn money coming in to cover it.

Back to the page for me, and I hope you have a lovely Wednesday.

Tues. August 18, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 90 — Grief To Art Launches

Grief to Art Logo

Tuesday, August 18, 2020
New Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cooler

Grief to Art
Today is the official launch of Grief to Art: A Site for Collective Mourning, which is my response to the grief from the thousands of deaths from the virus to which our government is indifferent. I hope you will take a look around, share the information, and submit a memory.

Life, Writing, and Other Stuff
Yup, another planet went retrograde. So we’re back in five retrogrades. Sigh.

I gave myself the weekend off. I felt pretty awful both Friday and Saturday, so I just cut off the pressure and let myself rest.

I got some work done on Friday, although I didn’t hit my goals. I didn’t make it to the dump.

Saturday, I had to do an early morning grocery run to Star Market. The staff is slacking off on the masking. I bought more than I planned, including the white cranberry peach juice. Since it’s the only place around here that carries it, occasionally, I will have to venture out for it, but other than that, I guess Star Market is now crossed off my list of places to shop.

Came home, full disinfectant protocols. Laundry, housework.

I made Portuguese Sweet Bread, which always takes at least half a day. But it’s worth it. One of our favorite breads. Also baked chocolate chip cookies.

Didn’t need to water Sunday morning, because it rained all day, a nice, gentle rain. Sat inside, read, wrote, made chocolate mousse.

Reading-wise, I read Patricia Hampl’s THE ART OF THE WASTED DAY. I got it because it talks about the need for leisure and for daydreaming. I liked most of it, although it was also an elegy to her deceased partner. I wish I’d know that going in to it – it would have made it more appropriate to the Grief to Art site than to the project for which I ordered it. I also got annoyed at her, multiple times – here, she has these amazing experiences traveling and meeting people rich with stories – and she complains of boredom. She’s a writer, for fuck’s sake! There is NO place for boredom in a writer’s life.

Read two other mysteries, in a series I had been thoroughly enjoying. Only, in this last one, the writer rants on and on, calling a despicable woman “a witch.” That’s a slur. It’s 2020, we should be better than that, in spite of the MAGATS. This person, who’s supposed to be an ally and inclusive, should know better.

I felt like I’d been slapped in the face by someone I trusted.

The book is several years old. I’m wiling to give the series one more book – if it happens again, she is crossed off my list.

I’m tired of cozy mysteries pandering to the right.

But then, so often, they are about maintaining the status quo, aren’t they?

Not anymore about the misfit recognized for her unique qualities and loved and accepted for who she is, but because she conforms to the status quo to fit in. Cozies that do the former are why I enjoy(ed) the genre. Cozies who do the latter — more and more prevalent since 9/11 – I loathe.

Started re-reading Louise Penny’s Gamache series. We are reading the whole series in order. I love so much about it, although the third person omniscient head-hopping bothers me sometimes. She does it better than most writers, but it’s still noticeable enough, at times, to bother me.

On a writing note, I did some more development. I understand what I want and need from the protagonist and her main love interest. I understand the themes I want to develop. I’m building the ensemble of secondary characters. I know who is murdered and why; I know who the murderer is and how this individual passes under the radar for most of the book. I even came up with a working title.

On Monday, I wrote the first 1200 words. The first 500 or so were difficult, and then I found the rhythm. This morning, I wrote another 750 words. It will be a slower creation process, not just because I’m doing the first draft in longhand, but I’m taking more time to develop every sentence, instead of spitting out the first draft quickly and then taking it apart to put it back together. It’s a different process, and what this particular book needs.

Good thing there’s no deadline.

But it shook things loose so I could go back to this draft of THE BARD’S LAMENT, which is very, very necessary.

I’ve been writing the article for Llewellyn in my head, and now it’s time to put it on paper. I want to get it done and out this week. Or early next week, latest.

I have to get going on the book I have to read for review. I want to get that done this week. I’d planned to do it over the weekend, but wanted to give myself time off from any “have to.”

Went on site to do some client work on Monday. I was on my own for most of it, which is as it should be.

Curbside pickup at the library, home, full disinfectant protocols, LOIs, and work on the Grief to Art site. But every time I have to go on site, it takes me most of the rest of the day to recover, because it’s so stressful. Even when protocols are followed.

Finished STILL LIFE, and went through some other books I used for research.

It’s still raining this morning, so I’m going to wait to go to the dump until Thursday; same with Trader Joe’s. I’m grateful for the rain. We need it. However, I don’t want to get soaked taking in the garbage and recycling, or standing in line waiting to get into the grocery store.

Michelle Obama’s speech last night was articulate, intelligent, direct, and sharp. We are so lucky she is a part of the world right now.

Today, there will be a lot of focus on the Grief to Art launch, some client work, LOIs, admin work, article work, work on THE BARD’S LAMENT, and, hopefully, cleaning out another box. The goldenrod is blooming, and I’m sneezing like crazy, my nose is running, and my eyes are swollen. Lovely. Yes, that was sarcasm.

So I better get going, hadn’t I? Have a great day.

Tues. Aug. 13, 2019: Keep on Keeping On

Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter DIRECT (As of Sunday)
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Busy few days.

Got some stuff done at the library Friday morning, then went to the yoga studio. Class was packed (I usually can’t take that session). In fact, there was someone I hadn’t seen in about three years there.

I was a little too relaxed when I got out of yoga class. I still had a lot to do that day, and all I wanted to do was nap!

Friday afternoon was about housework and cooking. The downstairs is quite tidy now.

Saturday, I finished up some more food. We had company in the morning, from Greenwich, and a nice catch-up. I drove them to the ferry — they’re on their way to Nantucket. After years of summer rentals, they actually hope to buy something.

Read in the afternoon and evening, and percolated a bit on some stories that want to be told.

Heard about the Jeffrey Epstein “suicide.” Yeah, right. Just way too convenient, especially for the Narcissistic Sociopath. And Barr in charge of the investigation? What a joke. The whole thing is disgusting.

Finished reading a thriller trilogy. I absolutely loved the first book. I got ahead of the story a bit on the second book. It happened even more in the third book, and I anticipated the ending I hoped wouldn’t wind up the way it did. I was disappointed. I feel the author cheated his trio of protagonists (and his readers) from the ending they earned. While the first book was fantastic, the trilogy as a whole left me depressed and unsatisfied. It was a very male ending, meaning that it was what I expected from a male writer, and disappointed when it happened. It was what all those middle-aged male writers trying to be hip do to punish their characters (especially their female characters) and act like they’re creating great fiction. Would a female writer have made the same choices with that plot? Possibly, but most of the women writers in the genre I admire would have done it differently, I believe, and in a more satisfying way.

Also read a book by an author about whose work I have mixed feelings. I’ve read several of her books, and every one leaves me with mixed feelings. They’re a little too cutesy-wootsy for my taste. Her protagonists rely on being rescued by men too much, instead of saving themselves or the partners working together to survive . She’s a writer, but with such a limited vocabulary that she misuses words like “witch” — if you use “witch” to mean a nasty woman instead of a spell-caster, you’re knocked off my reading list. It’s insulting and careless. It’s bad writing. Also, in this particular book, she had characters who were supposedly involved in theatre. She might have gone to one community theatre production in her life, but she sure as hell didn’t do any research. She knows nothing about how theatre works and nothing about actors or tech people. Her tone in writing about them was condescending — along with not having done her research. I have one more book ordered via Commonwealth Catalog that I can’t cancel. I’ll try a few pages before I send it back. But I am DONE with her.

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but Saturday night into Sunday, I had a nightmare about a mass shooting. I’m not going to detail the dream here, but it unnerved me for the rest of the weekend. in my personal journal, I wrote about it in detail, and I intend to use bits of it in a new piece I’m developing. But I would have rather never had the dream in the first place. It was too vivid. Too many sensory details.

Worked on the article for Llewellyn. That will go out in a couple of days. Worked on GRAVE REACH. Worked on ELLA. It’s slowed down, and I have to figure out a few things to make this last third of the book work. Played with some ideas for DEATH OF A BROKEN MAN, which has a very broken (female) protagonist who relates to the dead body she trips over a little too much.

Getting some good work done on GRAVE REACH. I need to get this draft done this week and off to the editor, so we can go into galleys.

Playing with the first chapter of THE BARD’S LAMENT, which has to go into the back of GRAVE REACH.

Worked on the book I’m reviewing. I’m also reading the book for the #ReaderExpansionChallenge.

Need to spend more time on Ello this week.

Working on a couple more article pitches. They’re not quite where I want them in order to go out. But I hope to get them out this week.

I can’t seem to shake this lethargy and exhaustion. All I want to do is sleep, but I don’t feel refreshed when I wake up.

I had terrible allergy problems on Sunday with the ragweed and goldenrod coming into bloom. Constant sneezing, runny eyes. I finally broke down and took a Benedryl, which knocked me out and I slept for 11 hours. Felt a little better on Monday. Even non-drowsy anti-histamines knock me out.

Monday was fine onsite with a client, and I expect today and tomorrow will be challenging.

Monday afternoon’s meditation group was much-needed.

Back to the page.