Tues. March 20, 2012:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Spring Equinox
Cloudy and pleasant

Yesterday was just a gorgeous day! Did a lot of work in the morning, with students, on HEART BINDER, and on the HEX BREAKER edits. I have one more scene on the latter that needs tweaking, and then, off it goes. The editor is pleased with the last round (phew, I was worried). I have to work on the updated front matter, so I can send that off, too.

Worked a bit on the new project, but didn’t get it uploaded. Still have to finish writing up Confidential Job #1, which has to go off today. Worked on a couple of proposals that will go out this week, and started an article that I have to get off today, which will go live on Thursday. Packed (since I leave tomorrow for the site job) — have to finish packing the writing bag. Percolated on the new Jain Lazarus story that has to be finished by next week, so it can be copyedited, designed, and ready to go along with the book release. The previous stories will also get snazzy new covers.

Ran some errands in the late morning. It was a gorgeous day, so, later in the afternoon, Imp and I packed up some work and went to Ashumet Holly Sanctuary. Well, first we went to Craigville Beach, which was gorgeous, but the breeze was too brisk to really get much done. So we tucked ourselves into the pitch pine grove at Ashumet for a couple of hours.

We met a friend for drinks and appetizers at Siena, then came home and relaxed. I got some other work done.

Today, I’m headed off to meditation, then it’s flat out work (since I’ll be on the road for most of tomorrow, and, while I’m able to juggle, I also have to do the job for which I’m paid to be on site).

The weather was absolutely wonderful yesterday — warm, breezy, truly felt like spring. I hope this doesn’t herald a hideously hot summer. My neighbor fertilized his lawn yesterday, but it seems just a tad too early for me. Because once I fertilize, it means I gotta mow! 😉

Off to meditation. I did the early morning Spring Equinox ritual; will plant some seeds later today in starter pots. May pumpkins flowering on the vine be a sign of wonderful things to come in this cycle!

Devon

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and warm

Got some good writing done yesterday, and caught up with my students, too. Booked a spot at Friday’s writers’ breakfast — I get to support Carol McCleary, who I met a few months ago and who writes the mysteries featuring Nelly Bly. The organizer congratulated me on my new book, and wondered if I’d step into a slot on the radio show taping Friday afternoon, since someone cancelled? I jumped at the chance. So I’ll be headed from the breakfast to the studio!

The owner came home and fixed the toilet, so we’re back to having two working toilets in the house, which is great. Costume Imp did some stuff in the yard.

Imp and I drove over to Falmouth, to the new farmers’ market over on the Barnstable Fairgrounds. It’s in early stages, so not much was there yet, but I bought some fabulous soap! I know, me and my soap, every time I see handmade soap, I’ve got to buy some.

I showed him Ashumet Holly Sanctuary, which is right beside the Fairgrounds. Last time I was there, the fields were completely flat, and the hollies were prominent because the other trees were bare. Now, the fields are waist high in clover and daisies and other plants, and all the trees are leafy, so the hollies are tucked in among them.

We were hungry, and decided to head over to Dennis to the new Summer Stock restaurant. It’s on the grounds that house the Cape Playhouse, the cinema, and the art museum. The Cape Playhouse has been running since 1927 — a place based on such a compound would be a great setting for a comic mystery.

The restaurant is wonderful. The design’s good, the presentation’s good, and the food is outstanding. Prices are reasonable — not cheap, but fair for the area and what you get is well worth it. The staff is really friendly. Definitely a place to which I want to return often.

We wandered back to the Playhouse’s gift shop and found a poster featuring one of the actresses we’ve both worked with, along with one of my favorite actors. They appeared in a show here together — from the photo, it looks like sometime in the 70s or early 80s. I had to get it! Can’t wait to tell her what I found!

Took a peek at the Art Museum. They have some interesting opportunities there, not your run-of-the-mill stuff. I’ll have to look into it further.

Came home, hung out on the deck for a bit, and Imp cooked dinner. I scarfed it down, and then dashed down the road to the Beautification Committee meeting. We had a good meeting, we each have a list of things we need to get done, and solid dates.

Came home, and Imp and I had our Summer Solstice out on the deck. It was lovely. Nice way to turn the wheel!

To bed late, up early. It wasn’t supposed to rain, so I did my morning watering, but now it looks like there will be a cloudburst any minute! I have a LOT to get done today, wrapping up a few things for the Mermaid Ball meeting tomorrow, getting postcards printed to take to the breakfast, preparing myself for the radio interview, and preparing for the trip to Newport this weekend. Imp and I have to deal with my costume for the Ball today, too, and he has to get ready, because he heads back to “the concrete jungle” tomorrow. I’ve got some environmental science books I have to finish reading/taking notes on, and a press list to cross check. And my daily writing quota, and my students.

Off I go!

Devon


ASSUMPTION OF RIGHTavailable from Champagne Books.
Annabel Aidan webpage here.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Looking forward to better weather so I can walk in Ashumet Holly Sanctuary again

Friday, April 1, 2011
Day before dark moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy
April Fool’s Day

I worked so concentratedly yesterday morning, when we got back from the dump and grocery shopping, that when I stopped for lunch, I thought it was dinner time! Oops!

Went to the dump early, got rid of the garbage and recycling that stacked up. Felt good to get all those bins empty. We really only go about every 6-8 weeks, and usually only have one bag of garbage — the rest of the car is stuffed with recycling.

Went grocery shopping, worked on updating the Annabel Aidan web page, popping the cover art in wherever I could, and I’m almost finished with the media kit. Now, at some point before the book launches, I better join RWA!

Caught up on student work, dealt with piles of correspondence, tidied things up post-webinar, backed up some files. I need to do a Time Machine back-up today.

I need to decide what kind of swag to do for the book — something appropriate to the content, but also fun. I’m going to do the postcards at home, because I’ve got the set-up, but I’ll job out the bookmarks — there are, supposedly, some really good printers in the area. Time to get to know them!

Did my quarterly taxes, easy peasey, will write the checks in a few days. Still have the mountains of tax returns to sort out (amazing how many schedules you have to attach when you freelance, get royalties, and move), and figure out how much I overpaid in quarterlies last year, compared to what went out on all the other stuff! My first quarter earnings this year are way above last year’s, so I can already see how much better the move has been for my work.

I’m outlining THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY — I want to take it in a slightly different direction than originally planned. I also want to take what I’ve learned from ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT — and the other books I’ve written in the interim — and apply it to SPIRIT REPOSITORY.

Someone asked me if the knowledge that locals and students are reading my blog is going to make me self-censor. No. I’m not saying here anything I wouldn’t say to their faces, and, in fact, if they read something here, we’ve probably already discussed it, so I don’t see this is a source of Big Drama.

UPS, Fed Ex, and the mailman all arrived together — plant delivery, next assignment from Confidential Job #1, and the mail. Guess they wanted to get everything done before the storm, which hit several hours earlier than predicted.

I’m not a fan of April Fool’s Day, because so many of the “pranks” are mean-spirited, so I’m glad I don’t have to go and deal with anyone today.

We were lucky — we’re getting a lot of rain, but no snow. The rest of the state looks pretty slammed.

My back is still sore, but I’m slowly making progress. Mixing the slippery elm with echinecea and honey seems to be doing more than anything else.

The March wrap-up and April To -do list are up over on the GDR site .

Back to the page for awhile, and then some queries based on discussions we had in The Confident Freelancer.

Devon

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Grassy Pond at Ashumet Holly Sanctuary

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and milder

Hop over to Gratitude and Growth, where I talk about patience and share photos of the crocuses and of the birdhouse.

Got some work done in the morning, set things aside as planned, and, in the sunshine, headed out to Ashumet Holly Sanctuary. It was beautiful — Grassy Pond was wonderful, I visited my favorite holly trees and the other favorite trees, and, basically, got to spend some wonderful time out there. I just adore the place. I hope, when the days are a bit milder, I can take a notebook out and get some writing done there.

On the way back, I stopped for gas, and then went grocery shopping — spent more than I wanted, but am stocked up for the start of Costume Imp’s visit. Unloaded everything, had a late lunch, started getting stuff in order for Imp’s visit. He’s going to have my room, so he can sleep in, and I’ll take the back bedroom, since I’ll be up and rummaging much earlier than anyone else in the house. I was making up the bed, and that’s when it turned to an I LOVE LUCY episode.

I needed a blanket — it’s still cold here. I dug through the boxes and found a lovely pink blanket. My grandmother gave it to me when I lived in NYC — she loved pink. It had been in storage for awhile, so I decided to run it through the washer and the dryer, finish making the bed, go back and spend time with my students, then start the moussaka. Sounds simple, right? Especially since I read the washing directions on the tag.

Well . . .

The washing machine sounded rather odd, and, when I came down, I found the blanket had entirely disintegrated in the washer, leaving about a foot and a half of pink sludge in it.

Scooping it out , scrubbing it, and flushing the lines took the rest of the day. Yes, I wore a mask. I have a garbage bag of pink sludge — they’re gonna love me at the dump — ahem “Transfer Center.” Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

This is what happens when you store non-natural fiber for too long! It’ll be in the landfill for damn ever, but it won’t stay in a usable form elsewhere!

The moussaka took longer than it should have to prepare, especially since I cut my finger and, well, it really IS rather rude to bleed onto the eggplant, don’t you think? 😉

We tried to hang one of the mirrors over the fireplace, but the shape and the size are out of proportion. The more we think about it, the more we’re going to look for a seascape painting to hang there instead. No, we wouldn’t put the TV over the fire place — the television represents fire, and to place it over a fireplace is AWFUL feng shui — practically begging for a chimney fire. Every time one of those faux “designers” does that, I want to toss ‘em off a cliff! The water imagery of a seascape will still be there for the feng shui, and it will look pretty. No, it won’t be a shipwreck — who wants that kind of energy in the space? And we need some sort of English country cottage-type landscape to go over the sofa. Maybe from someplace we’ve visited. Because the modern and abstract paintings I had in New York (yes, originals, by artist friends) just don’t work in this space. At some point, in some space, they’ll be perfect again — just not here and now.

And then — the day was over!

This morning, I have to be extraordinarily organized — catch up with my students, work on the play, prepare the materials for the dinner, do some stuff for the workshop, and get out the door by 10:30 AM. I’m going to a lunch/lecture in Cotuit given by an author who writes mysteries featuring one of my heroines, Nelly Bly. Then I’ll be back for about two hours, before heading out to a writers’ group dinner. And then, I have to prep for Thursday, where I’ll be out the door a little after 8 AM.

And so — to work!

Devon

Don’t forget to join Lori Widmer and me on March 26, 2011 for The Confident Freelancer.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

I’d hoped the weather would be good enough to wander around Ashumet Holly Sanctuary today, but it doesn’t look like it will be any good again until about Monday.

Progress on the play, which is good, spent time on students’ work, also good, and working with my partner on material for the tele-seminar. Lots of errands, got them all done at once (saves gas), and then, when I came back, I had one of those bolt-of-lightening epiphanies on MODERN CREATION MYTHS. I put it aside a few months ago when I’d hit a crossroads and wasn’t sure in which direction to take it, and then was distracted by contracted, paying work.

Suddenly, doing something that has nothing to do with the project, a scene started unspooling in front of me, between my protagonist and someone I thought was a minor character. It adds an important dimension to the piece as a whole, and, especially, the dynamics between the characters within it. I sat down and wrote the piece (as an insert) — it runs about four script pages. And then, as I kept thinking about the piece, I realized the reason I got stuck was that I missed a whole plot and character element that’s important, again, to the growth of the protagonist and the dynamics within the piece. I’m developing that, and will add in that aspect, and I’m developing more dynamics between the antagonist factions –one faction is well-developed and as strong and interesting as my ensemble of protagonists — I have to bring the second faction up to par. They’re a little two dimensional right now.

Again, I”m missing notes that I packed in the move, but I think I have a pretty clear grasp of where I want to go with it again. I started this draft in script format, because it was coming out in dialogue and images, and will continue, then adapt it back into novel form.

In other words, working with my students to unstick their work is positively influencing my own!

I have a lot to get done today, so I better get to it. I can feel both the play and MCM percolating and getting ready to migrate to the page, and, when it’s time, I will need to put everything temporarily aside and write myself out on them. At the same time, I can’t drop any of the balls I have swirling in the air — I just have to toss them higher, and grab more writing minutes before they return.

Devon

Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 8:37 am  Comments (4)  
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Monday, January 24, 2011


A CT winter wonderland

Monday, January 24, 2011
Waning Moon
Coldcoldcoldcoldcoldcoldcold (you get the picture)

OK, we’ve got some catching up to do.

I made a run for it Thursday afternoon, after I scrubbed the house down. The cats were beside themselves — Violet: “You’re dead to me! Talk to the tail!” Iris: “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, we’re going to die cold and hungry and alone” — this from a cat who never missed a meal in ten years.

Drive down was fine — and the gas at my favorite station just over the bridge is nearly fifty cents a gallon cheaper than in CT! Driving through Providence was annoying as usual, there was a lot of plowing/roadwork around Niantic, and from New Haven down it was just too many trucks. But the Merritt was too risky, so I stayed on I-95, gritted my teeth, and dealt with the trucks.

Did some work when I got to CT, did some prep work for February’s gigs down here, got settled. Went to bed way too early.

Snow was nowhere near as bad on Friday as they predicted.

My car, however, rocks. In typical tri-state fashion, the plow guy and his shovel guys show up. I have to move my car so they can plow the entire driveway (there were already two cars in the garage, so I couldn’t stash it). I parked in a way that they could plow almost the whole driveway and my car had kept the areas in front of the double garage clear. But they wanted to plow that part — where the only snow was ON my car — too. In order for them to do that, I had to move my car — into the unplowed part of the drive.

Of course, I’d called the guy more than a dozen times on Thursday to ask him where he wanted me to leave the car; he never picked up and he doesn’t have voice mail.

So I hold out the key.

“No, no, no, the car will never make it.” They’re shaking their heads and being typical workers in this area. Three of them standing around, shaking their heads, saying it can’t be done.

On the Cape, where they have a fetish for driving other people’s cars, it would have happened lickity split. Of course, on the Cape, they would have either answered the phone or had voice mail and it would have been sorted out ahead of time.

I wipe the snow off the windshield and the back window, start the car, hop over the snowbank (it is, after all, a Rabbit), he plowed where he didn’t need to, and then the snowbank I’d just crested, and I put the car right back where it was.

So not impressed with them. But at least I didn’t have to shovel a long, treacherous, slanted gravel drive.

Caught up on email and workshops.

Then, there’s Mousie. Yep, we had ourselves a little critter in CT. Now, I love Christmas mice as much as the next person (I was complaining at their dearth this past holiday season), dressed in Victorian costumes, singing and dancing. The real ones? Not so much. Especially when I’m cat-less.

I didn’t see it, or I’d be typing this from the top of the refrigerator or hanging from the chandelier. I don’t do well with real mice. In fact, one of the best-received monologues from my show WOMEN WITH AN EDGE had to do with being a single woman dealing with a mouse. But I saw evidence (you know what that means) along with a gnawed wooden spoon.

Fortunately, in my writing bag, I always carry a can opener, a wine opener (because you never know when you might need to open a bottle of wine) and a set of wooden spoons. I kid you not. It’s separate from what I keep in the kitchen, and those items living in the writing bag except when I’m using them on site jobs.

Now, we had the occasional mouse in the NYC apartment. Although, it must have been a pretty stupid mouse to venture in when there were four cats. Felicia was the huntress and handled it (I used to bring her to the theatre to hunt mice there, too); Elsa always tried to protect the mouse (thereby scaring it half to death). I don’t know what the twins will do when confronted with them (because we’re bound to have mice at some point in the Cape house. I’m hoping the pack of Maine Coons across the street go a-hunting in our yard when it comes to mice. And I will sit down and explain to the girls that anything that comes into the house — part of the deal is that they take care of it.

Finished my assignment for Confidential Job #1 and got it off on time, which was nice. I’m reading Antonia Frasier’s memoir of her life with Harold Pinter, MUST YOU GO?, which is beautiful. A playwright and a biographer/novelist living, loving, and working together — in a way that works. Harold Pinter was one of the most brilliant playwrights of modern times, and Antonia Frasier’s written some of the biographies I most admire. Excellent reading.

Up early on Saturday morning. Yoga in the front room, with all the glass windows, with the moonlight spilling across the snow. Just gorgeous.

In this house, the downstairs bathroom is the one with the shower. And the big windows with the blinds that are stuck in the “up” position. Sigh. Here’s hoping it was far too early and the other houses were far too away for me to provide any opportunities for morning voyeurism. I used bathwash supposed to smell like margaritas, so I even smelled like a cocktail at 6:30 AM. Actually, it smelled like the lovely fragrant part of a margarita, with the undertone notes of alcohol gone, so it was quite lovely.

The trip back was pretty smooth. Not much traffic out, and what was out moved smoothly. We stopped at the store in Old Saybrook — I bought a few vintage linens, and priced out some Adirondack chairs that looked good, and for which I might have to go back. Stopped in Mystic to pick up the sauce we like at the Franklin General Store, and to pick up some incense at Mystical Elements. And then, home we went.

It was so good to be home. If you haven’t read my piece, The Sense of Being Home, please do, because it explains a lot of why this place is so important to me.

Got unpacked, fed the cats who were happy to see us for once, instead of angry, slipped a pizza into the oven, had dinner, relaxed, etc. Just enjoyed the fact of being HOME, now that we have a lovely place to so call.

Up early the next morning, morning routine, got everything all sorted out for the walk at Ashumet Holly Sanctuary. Layered up, as if I was doing a location shoot — tights under jeans, thick socks over tights, a thermal shirt covered by a fleece shirt, covered by my sweatshirt from when I worked on FLOWER DRUM SONG’s Broadway revival (best sweatshirt I own), fleece vest over it (so I could stick my driver’s license, money, and keys in it and not carry a purse), big LL Bean coat over that, hat, gloves, scarf, boots. On the way to the Sanctuary, I stopped at the store to both buy the Sunday papers and get hand and foot warmers. Put the foot warmers on in the car, kept the hand warmers to insert later, when my hands got cold. Also downed a big mug of ginger tea before I left.


wintergreen growing wild on an Ashumet hillside

I just love that Sanctuary. I can’t wait until the weather’s a little warmer, so I can come and wander around at will, or bring my notebook and just move from place to place, writing. It seems like a really good spot to write. And, of course, now I’m getting obsessed with the various varieties of hollies, so it’s the perfect place — it both started and feeds my obsession.

The walk was lovely, a small, lively group that included one of the founders of an organization which protects open space in Falmouth (she co-lead), and a columnist whose work I read every week and thoroughly enjoy. We got some wonderful handouts that I read thoroughly once I got home, and a key that I will take to wander around the backyard and learn what I’ve got there, then take with me to other places on the Cape, so I can learn how to identify various trees.

I’m very sad that the Hemlock is being attacked by some insect –a woolly something (how stupid, I’ve been told its name a half a dozen times and can’t retain it). I’m very fond of hemlock, and I hate to see it destroyed. There’s got to be something that some clever botanist or herbalist can devise that will destroy Mr. Woolly Whatsits without killing everything else. I’m sure they’ve tried a bunch of things, but there’s got to be something that will eat or kill Woolly Whatsits. And I’m sure they’ll keep trying until they find it, but I hope it’s not too late. People wonder why I’m interested in poisonous plants and herbs — it’s not just to find interesting ways to bump people off in my mysteries, but it’s to see if there are ways to steward/manage habitat without doing pesticide damage (people just have to look out for their own damn selves and learn what’s poisonous. I’m interested in stewardship of plants and animals).

There’s a lot of bittersweet climbing all over things, too. Something is niggling at the back of my brain — I learned something about bittersweet lately, a use for it, and I can’t remember. I’m going to have to poke through my books and notes and find it.

Anyway, the walk was fascinating, and I learned a lot (let’s hope I can retain it). I also, finally, saw what a bayberry bush looks like! That was pretty cool. And learned that the huckleberry bush that’s arriving later in the spring will thrive in full sun, so that is what I will give it.

Yeah, I was cold, but not distractingly so, which meant I could pay attention to what was being said and going on and really enjoy it.

Came home, warmed up with hot soup, and out the door again. First to PetSmart, to replenish the kitty cupboard, then to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things (and exchange tips with the check out clerk on what to do with pancetta. I love that the clerks actually talk to the customers here instead of ignoring them to talk to each other). To Christmas Tree Shops where they had some pretty clay pots on sale, decent quality, great price. So bought five of those — two big ones for tomatoes, and three smaller ones for various herbs. Then to CVS for a couple of things, and back over to the grocery store in Marstons Mills to stock up.

Home, spaghetti and meatballs for dinner (I’m experimenting with meatball recipes), caught up on the workshops, watched JULIE AND JULIA on HBO. I remember that it got lousy reviews except for Meryl Streep’s performance, but I thought, overall, it was well done. I certainly found Amy Adams’s Julie Powell more charming that the Julie in the book.

Checked the house, the pipes, the furnace, everything before bedtime so nothing would go kerplooey in the night with the below zero temperatures.

Up at a decent hour, angry at Comcast (yeah, that’s new and different. Not). Not only do they bill me multiple times per month for a whole month, now they’re adding made-up charges, claiming I have an “unreturned modem” and have cut off service to the box for the second television. More paperwork to file, including a fraud claim with the MA Attorney General’s office, and a petition to the State Legislator to cut Comcast’s stranglehold on the Cape. They should not have a monopoly and be the only choice out here, especially when they treat their customers like this.

At least I had a good first writing session of the day, although I have to buckle down and get a lot more writing done today. And, I am determined to finish taking down/putting away the holiday decorations, once and for all! It will look bare, but that’s okay; I’ll soon have other decor up as we unpack.

To the page. And the paperwork.

Devon

Monday, December 6, 2010


Winterberry

Monday, December 6, 2010
Waxing Moon
Uranus DIRECT (as of yesterday)
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy & cold

What a fun weekend. Really busy, but tons of fun.

Found my way to the Ashumet Sanctuary on Saturday morning. It’s lovely. I was a little irritated at some of the people — out of towners — who came up, paid their fee as though they were doing the walk, then greedily stuffed their shopping bags with holly boughs and waddled off without doing the walk. You know what? Go to the holly fairs for that, okay?

The group that stayed for the walk was a nice, mixed group, the guide was terrific and knowlegeable, and it was a lovely way to spend the morning. I had no idea that there were over 150 types of holly (there are 65 at the sanctuary). Turns out the mystery bush in my backyard is one of the varieties of holly! It has berries, so it’s a female bush, which means there must be a male bush somewhere in pollination distance!

It’s a lovely sanctuary, formerly a farm, then a holly farm, now a sanctuary specializing in the the types of holly from the time it was a farm. It also has a lovely kettle pond (no inlet or outlet) with all kinds of fascinating vegetation and wild life.

I learned how to recognize winterberry and inkberry (types of holly). I still have no idea what actual bayberry looks like (not a type of holly).

There’s a lot of lichen around, and I learned that lichen only grows when there’s excellent air quality. Guess that explains why we had none where I lived, especially after the scumbag landlords started using pesticides again and all kinds of toxic materials in the building.

At the end of the walk, we filled our bags with pruned boughs (everyone left was very considerate of each other), chatted, and had a good time.

Turns out the wife of the guide (who’s the director of the Long Pasture sanctuary) is a costume designer who used to work for a well-known rep theatre outside of Boston. So we had a LOT to talk about, and will get together when Costume Imp comes after the New Year. In fact, Costume Imp and I are thinking of having a little Twelfth Night soiree to gather together the various theatre people I’ve met on the Cape who’ve somehow all come into contact with me, but don’t yet know each other. And we might toss some others into the mix.

Anyway, came home, had lunch, we headed out to look for small trees for the front of the house. I want real ones, not artificial. Found a lovely garden center over in Marstons Mills — absolutely top quality merchandise, but more expensive than I felt comfortable with. I fell IN LOVE with a wintergreen bush, but it was way out of my price range right now. But, goodness, did I want it. I can do all kinds of stuff with wintergreen. Again, the quality’s worth it, but I have to watch my budget. There’s still a lawn mower to buy and furniture for the deck. Went to a nearby hardware store to pick up some stuff I forgot, but didn’t like the vibe, so I left. I’ll go back to Osterville on Monday instead. Went to the big Christmas Tree Shop by the Sagamore Bridge to get replacement bulbs — I’ve already knocked over one of the candle lamps. I’d like to blame a cat, but they’re more careful than I am!

Made ratatouille, tuna steaks with lemon caper sauce, and rice for dinner. Just barely had time to put the dishes in the dishwasher, change, and put on a little makeup, and we had to leave for the concert.

It wasn’t very far, about a ten or fifteen minute drive, up at a lovely church in Barnstable. And it was fun to see how people have decorated. One house on 6A looks like a carnival, but most of it is very understated New England — candle lamps in all the windows, lights on outdoor trees, some oversized candy canes up the walk, etc. And I noticed that, this year, many, many of the trees out front are small in proportion to the size of the house, which makes me think I could get away with it out front.

The concert was performed by Thom Dutton, and it was absolutely lovely — readings from A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES alternated with Cornish, Welsh, and Breton carols sung and performed on a variety of harps. I love harp music, so it was such a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening. Just wonderful.

Drove home and discovered one of my rear lamps is half out. Poor little thing. I have to call the VW place in Hyannis when they open this morning to see if they can fit me in some time in the next few days. I planned to go to the DMV tomorrow to get that all sorted, but if my light’s not working, I need to get that fixed first.

Watched some TV, read a bit, went to bed at a reasonable hour. Up early Sunday morning (the cats were playing on the bed and Iris rolled off), yoga, meditation, etc. New moon on Sunday.

Got the Sunday papers. Imagine my surprise when I turned to the local section of the local paper and there was an article about yesterday’s holly walk (great) with a picture of me (not great). First of all, we had no idea the walk was being covered for the paper, and I certainly was not approached to give permission to use my image. I would have said no — I have a “no photos” policy, period. Also, as the male photographer should know, you do not photograph the neck of a woman over 40. Period. It’s rude. Fortunately, unlike Nora Ephron, I do NOT feel bad about my neck, I have no reason to yet (it doesn’t yet give away my age), and, since the photo is of the bottom of my neck as I’m staring at the Tallest Holly, I’m not that easy to identify. Plus, the article (although on the bland side) is good for the organization, and it wasn’t done out of maliciousness. So I’m not going to pitch a massive fit, which will only draw more attention to it and me. I will ignore it. I bet it the perpetrator was the Really Loud Guy I tried to avoid for most of the walk because I didn’t like his vibe. Lots of people had cameras, and some people brought multiple cameras. It never occured to me that they were for a newspaper article, and we are required to be told about this kind of thing.

Finished up the workshop. One of the students asked if I’d teach a workshop on creating believable settings (I’m always going on about “place as an additional character”). I pitched a workshop along those lines to the program director, she accepted it, and we’re sorting out when to schedule it. Not a bad way to land an assignment!

Wrote and designed the Yuletide letter. I never do the annual letter thing, but with the move and everything else, it makes sense this year. I’m still handwriting individual stuff in each card, but I’m also including the letter with the information about the move, the freelancing, the books coming out next year, etc. My mom did two versions of her letter, one in German, and one in English, that I typed up and printed off for her.

The bugaboo was the new return address labels. We’d bought pretty labels with a wintery house design by Geo-somebody on Avery labels. I should be able to plug in my name and address, format the label and be done. Only in order to do that, there’s special software from Geo-bastards and/or Avery — and it’s only for Microsoft, and not for the version that goes with Mac. Bite me, assholes, that needs to be on the packaging. Don’t say I can get everything I need from your effing website when I can’t, especially Geo-bastards, where you can’t get to the stuff to download without going through 47 layers of them trying to sell you crap.

So not having it.

It took me an hour and a half to wiggle fonts, sizes, and spacing, but I finally tricked the effing labels into ding what I want and looking good. That’s an hour and a half of time that could have been spent writing cards.

Not amused.

And, of course, Customer Disservice from both companies was non-existent. Couldn’t get anyone by phone or email or anything.

Geo-bastards — not happy with them, but never heard of them before, so not particularly surprised. I expect more from an Avery product, though.

By this time, we had to stop for lunch, and then get out the door. Drove to Brewster, to the Natural HIstory Museum, who just happened to be having an open house (everyone is so busy here), but we nipped through the festivities to the gift shop and picked up a few outstanding presents. “Outstanding” in the sense we still needed them, and that they are really cool. As usual, the staff went above and beyond to be helpful. Best shop on the Cape, as far as I’m concerned!

On the way back, stopped at Tobey Farm. They were having a live tree sale — I got my two live trees for the front — three times the size I could have gotten at any other center I’ve seen so far for that price. Don’t they look cute, in front of the house?

I still have to decorate them with ribbons and maybe garlands and lights, and put a bow on the wreath on the front door, but the entrance looks more festive now. They’ll look great sitting there until spring (if I can keep them alive), and then I’ll put them out back, probably in bigger pots. They didn’t fit in the hatchback, so I had to put them on the floor in the back of the seats and drive with my knees up to my chin. It was an interesting challenge.

Things slowed down on the way home because Yarmouth was having their Holiday Stroll. And let me tell you, these people don’t lope or stride or walk — they STROLL. They take the “stroll” thing very seriously. Like I said, they’re very busy around here. And they take their Holiday Strolling very seriously. It’s amazing how many people turn out for events here.

Dropped off the trees and the stuff from the Museum, then headed to the 1856 shop — which was Very Busy — to get a few more things, and then to CVS for a couple of other little bits and bobs.

Except for a couple of things still to get for my mom, I am DONE with my holiday shopping. Done, done, done! Most of my shopping was done locally, from local artisans, and is totally unique. I ordered a few things, but the bulk of the stuff is all locally created.

It’s been a very long time since I was done by December 5. It feels good.

I got the pot roast started, and we sat down to write the overseas cards. I got mine finished before dinner, then went to wrap up the deconstruction workshop, then went back to wrap an overseas present that has to go out today, and a Hanukkah present that has to go out to today. And took care of a few things on the computer.

By the end of the day, I was ready to curl up and fall asleep on my lovely new rug in the office!

Today, I’ve got to try to slide the car in for repair, get to the post office to mail the overseas cards and those two gifts, and work on the yard. I’ve also got to finish the assignment for Confidential Job #1, finish and review something for A BIBLIO PARADISE, look over a media kit and come up with questions for another Biblio spot, work on the article due soon, send some questions to my publisher, invoice an editor, work on the guest list for the party, and start writing the domestic cards. The filing is starting to eat my desk, and I’d like to unpack some kitchen boxes, some bedroom boxes, and some office boxes. I need to nip to Osterville Hardware to pick up a few things and . . .well, the list just keeps on going. But I’m behind and I need to catch up.

And, of course, I need to get some writing done.

Last night was St. Nicholas’s Night, so we left our shoes in front of the fire and they were filled with goodies this morning. Minus some the cats pulled out to play with. One of my favorite traditions of the season!

It’s Very Busy. 😉

Devon