Fri. March 6, 2020: Maybe A “Normal” Weekend?

Friday, March 6, 2020
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Partly sunny and colder

Yesterday’s big grocery shop left me feeling secure. I like to have a well-stocked pantry. We’re supposed to be prepared for a 14-day quarantine at this point. I like having that much on hand anyway. As a freelancer, when I’m in periods where I’m earning more money, I try to stock up so I don’t run out in the cycles where the money’s slower coming in. I am stocking up a little more than usual on cat food and cat litter. And toilet paper.

Although the price gouging on toilet paper has started — doubled in price since two weeks ago.

Spent a little time at the library; it was noisy and distracting there today, Got a few things out, including an introductory package to a place I thought I’d like to work for until the list of materials kept growing exponentially. It least they read resumes and look at materials. Another company, touting its positive remote culture — wanted me to do one of their projects (a newsletter) as an unpaid “sample” as part of their interview process. Didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday, folks. No. No unpaid labor as part of the interview process. Look at my resume. Read my samples. Ask for additional samples. If I have to craft something project-specific to your company, there’s a fee involved. I’m not 20 begging for my first job. I’m a career professional with decades of experience. You want unpaid labor? Bite me.

Heartbroken that Elizabeth Warren dropped out. The misogyny from her own party and the media has been revolting. I don’t want an old white man as president. in spite of the genuine affection and respect I have for Joe Biden (I was lucky enough to work on a few things with him over the years).  I’m done with that. I don’t want a moderate. Moderates putting their hands over their ears singing, “la-la-la” is part of how we got into this mess in the first place. Where we are now has been in the works since Reagan. And could have been stopped.

But removing the Narcissistic Sociopath and his Evangelical Q-Tip have to be the priorities right now.

Agreed to help a friend with editing some of his college work. He’s going back to school, which is great. His professor uses MLA, which is eye-rolling. I mean, it’s always good to learn all kinds of skills but MLA is rarely used outside of academia, and my friend isn’t planning to work in that arena. Heck, I tossed my MLA handbook back in 1985, when I realized how little relevance it had to my life. Going to the community college bookstore to see if I can hunt down another one, and ordered one from the library.

The college bookstore is selling used copies of a “reference” that includes a little MLA — for $63. Um, no. I ordered it off the internet for 99 cents. A new guide, JUST MLA style.

Didn’t get much writing done this morning, so will have to adjust that later in the day. Working on some article pitches. Put in a big Chewy order this morning — cat food, cat litter, and then ordered a bunch of toys to get the free shipping. Because the little monsters are so happy when we open the box and it contains new toys. Which is even more important than the free shipping.

Working on the books for review, and getting back to the new batch of contest entries. Will do some of the paperwork on the entries I’ve read this weekend, so it’s not all in one big lump at the end.

This morning was the first full morning yoga practice since the surgery. A little sore, but I’m glad I did it. Hoping I can add an evening practice back in soon.

I didn’t realize how long I’d felt bad (since about 2013) until I started coming back from surgery and feeling more like myself. Amazing how you adjust incrementally to feeling lousy so you barely notice it until you’re forced to notice.

Knowledge to use moving forward.

We have to start some spring cleaning this weekend, although I’ll be limited in how much physical work I can do. But it’s time. The mourning doves are back early this year, and so are the Phoebes.

Planted nasturtiums, cucumber, spinach, and snap peas (inside) yesterday. Made tollhouse cookies last night because I felt like them. Will make some cardamom wheat bread (new to me recipe) either later today or tomorrow.

Target run on the schedule today, a bit of work at the library, and then back to the page.

Have a great weekend! It’s supposed to get colder and stormy here.

 

Published in: on March 6, 2020 at 10:04 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 6, 2020: Maybe A “Normal” Weekend?  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

Fri. Jan. 3, 2019: Short & Sweet Post (For A Change)!

Friday, January 3, 2020
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
9th Day of Christmas
Rainy and cool

Today’s post is short and sweet, in contrast to yesterday’s long and meandering. I have work colleagues coming over for some merriment in the afternoon, and I am running around doing last minute prep.

Make a chocolate rum cake last night – not sure I’m happy with it.

I have plenty of food, I always do. Yet I always worry, and I always worry I don’t have enough liquor.

Cleaned and tidied yesterday afternoon. Did some research for the new play (which I plan to finish this weekend). Started reading the next book for review. Worked with the cats. Tessa and Willa have made huge progress; even Tessa and Charlotte have made SOME progress. Charlotte is our Problem Kitty.

Wrote a few pages on the Winter Solstice romance.

Furious that the Narcissistic Sociopath with the Rapture Secretary of State are getting us into another war. Heartbroken at what’s happening in Australia, too.

This weekend, the tree comes down and everything is packed away, I finish the play, I work on the romance and the BALTHAZAAR edits, polish some article pitches, work with the cats, and read the book for review.

Hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site, where I have my January To-Do List. I already have a few unexpected additions not posted!

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on January 3, 2020 at 10:19 am  Comments Off on Fri. Jan. 3, 2019: Short & Sweet Post (For A Change)!  
Tags: , , , , ,

Thurs. Dec. 19, 2019: Almost Ready for the Holidays

Thursday, December 19, 2019
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Up and out of the house to my client’s early, to get a few things done before the holiday lunch. As is typical, she wanted to go in a completely different direction. But, we got it done.

Lunch was absolutely lovely, at The Old Yarmouth Inn. I’d never been there before, and it’s absolutely delightful. The Christmas village was adorable. I had a burger, the first time I’ve had red meat in months.

After the lunch, headed over to Target to pick up a few things, and then back home to pack up the last of the packages we had to ship, and then I made a post office run. Everything’s out, and should get there by Christmas Eve, which is perfect. I still have just a handful of cards to write and get out today, and then I’m done.

Of course, a client got in touch last night for a rush project that has to be turned around today. It will happen, and I will charge for it. Because that’s the way it works.

Finished my holiday shopping this morning. Just have to wrap.

I baked another batch of stained glass cupcakes this morning, first thing. The cats had me up at 4:20. I did some errands in the morning, have some work to do at the library, turn around the project for my client, and then more deliveries this afternoon.

We had just a smidge of snow last night, but it’s very, very cold. I wish my landlord would get the new furnace in, because it’s getting harder and harder to keep the upstairs warm enough. I think we’ll have to revert to hot water bottles.

A decent first writing session this morning, and hopefully another this afternoon, especially on THE QUALITY OF LIGHT. I have the first two months’ worth of posts planned out for both the GDR site and Ink-Dipped Advice for 2020, so I’m going to try to get ahead on those in the next few days.

I’m almost done answering the 2020 GDRS, and look forward to making the site, in general, more useful all year, not just about lists and accountability.

Working on the next Medium post, but not sure it will get up this week. It might go up as late as Monday. Oh, well.

One minute I feel completely stressed out and a wreck, and the next I feel on top of things. I really am in better shape, on all levels, this year than I was last year.

It was such a relief last night, when, finally, the House of Representatives took the votes, and the Narcissistic Sociopath was impeached. Mitch McConnell and his pals are totally corrupt and need to be removed as much as the Sociopath. I’m tired of these old white men who know they won’t live to see the consequences of their greed and corruption, and don’t care. They ALL need to go — with consequences.

Meanwhile, I need to get back to the page.

Published in: on December 19, 2019 at 10:35 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Dec. 19, 2019: Almost Ready for the Holidays  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Wed. Dec. 18, 2019:Keep Moving, Or I’ll Decorate You

Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Weather clearing a bit

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the final post of the year.

We had a bit of snow overnight Monday into Tuesday, turning into freexing rain for a slushy mix.

I couldn’t make it to meditation Monday afternoon due to errands — cookie deliveries, post office (huge lines with people mailing several dozen packages each), dropping off and picking up books at the library, and so forth and so on.

Next batch of stained glass cupcakes will be baked tonight, along with more tollhouse cookies. First year I’ve ever run low on those!

Monday night, watched MRS. POLLIFAX, SPY starring Rosalind Russell. Odd movie, but she’s great.

A bunch of packages arrived, which is always fun.

Up early on Tuesday, got out my last review of the year and invoiced, went in to my client’s early. I’m trying to get ahead on things before the holiday madness. Attended an impeachment rally. In spite of the weather, a pretty decent turnout for Cape Cod.

I think I’m done decorating, at least inside the house. If it didn’t move, it was decorated, and that included putting bows on lampshades. The cats are sleeping with one eye open, for fear of getting decorated, too.

At my client’s early today, because we’re leaving early, to have our holiday lunch at the Old Yarmouth Inn. I’ve always wanted to go there.

It means missing the Remote chat, but I’ll catch up later.

More deliveries tomorrow and Friday — hoping to have them all done by then. Getting out the rest of the packages this afternoon, I hope; if not, first thing tomorrow. The last of the cards are going out today.

Then comes preparations for Saturday’s Winter Solstice celebration, and enjoying the holidays. I’ll be doing some client work and finishing A QUALITY OF LIGHT, but that’s my list. Planning, of course, for 2020, and maybe getting ahead on a few of those posts.

But mostly, I want to read and rest and eat and have a quiet few days at home.

Published in: on December 18, 2019 at 6:19 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Tues. Dec. 17, 2019: Trying to Stay On Top of It All

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Lousy weather

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, where I talk about one of my favorite Winter Holiday books.

Busy few days. Sorry I didn’t post at all on Friday. I was up at 5:30 and out of the house by 7. Put gas in the car, then drove up to Plymouth, to my regular mechanic, to give them their holiday treats and get the yearly inspection done.

The car passed. All those things the place that replaced my battery told me I had to pay $1800 to get done or else not pass inspection — NONE of them were true. Which makes me both angry and relieved.

I’ve spent the past nearly three months in agony fearing the car wouldn’t pass, and I couldn’t afford the additional work. Because I was lied to.

Stopped at Market Basket on the way back to pick up a few things. Swung by the library to pick up a book and talk to the librarian who took her first trip to NYC this past week, and I wrote up directions to the stuff she wanted to see. She had a great time.

Then, I just hit a wall. I was so physically and emotionally exhausted that I couldn’t do much more than play with the cats, do some more decorating, and read.

I managed to pull it together in the late afternoon to put together and deliver the cookie platters to the neighbors. It was fun — a chance for us to catch up. We are all friendly in passing and help each other when we need it, but every now and again, it’s nice to spend some time in actual conversation. We are lucky in our neighbors. Most of them, anyway.

It looks like my health insurance might be sorted out for the next year. Wouldn’t that be nice for a change?

On Thursday night, we watched the version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL starring Alistair Sims, which is still my favorite. Friday night, we watched HOLIDAY INN, which I had ordered from the library by accident, thinking it was the Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye version later named WHITE CHRISTMAS.

Well, it wasn’t. It was a Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire film in black & white — also using the song “White Christmas” — and what a horrid movie. The racism — especially against blacks, with an entire musical number in blackface, and the awful way the black characters were written, anti-Semitic comments, the misogyny, and the fact that the characters are all so mean to each other. Awful. On so many levels. Some of the dance numbers are good, but the plot, characters, and viciousness of the movie are hateful. To think that, at any point in our history, that was considered “okay” much less acceptable, is discouraging.

Saturday morning, woke up to a bad storm with pounding rain. Made it through the flooded streets to the store to pick up a few things, and barely made it home. If I’d waited even a half hour more, some of the streets would have been impassable.

Made stollen, the traditional Dresden stollen recipe, from Mimi Sheraton’s German cookbook. Upped the almond extract a bit.

The recipe took me 8 hours to make last year, but only 6 hours this year, with the mixing and the rising. The yeast was fresher, and it rose faster.

This recipe makes 3 loaves of about 3 pounds apiece. When you think that a single pound of it from a store or ordered online costs anywhere from $9.99 to $34 and tastes like cardboard or could be used for a doorstop, this is a much better choice. In addition to being absolutely delicious. It’s an all-day project, but worth it.

Just about finished my cards on Saturday night, except for a few where I need to hunt down addresses.

Worked on the books for review. Started preparations for Winter Solstice, which is next Saturday. Got some writing done.

We put up the reindeer collection and the nutcracker collection, and cleared out my office, so that we can put up the tree in there. I cleaned up the roll-top desk, and I want to clear off my computer desk, so I can start the New Year and the new decade, with a clean desk.

I will have to make the next batch of stained glass cupcakes either today or tomorrow, and another batch of tollhouse cookies. I’m still making deliveries.

Sunday, I was up early and creating a new muffin recipe with orange, cranberry, and chocolate. It turned out well, although I think I will add some cloves next go round.

Got some writing done. Put up the tree in my office, and started decorating the rest of the office.

Watching THE QUEENS OF MYSTERY. There’s a lot of clever, fun stuff in it, but sometimes I feel it tries to hard to do too much and gets a little unfocused.

Monday, it was off to my client’s early (since we’re leaving early for our holiday lunch together). On the way, made some more cookie platter deliveries. Client work was okay, albeit a bit chaotic. Headed to the library after, to get some other work done, and send off one of the reviews.

Early at my client’s today, and then a couple of other appointments after. Decent first writing sessions of the day both days. THE QUALITY OF LIGHT is chugging along, and it will get to where it needs to go on time.

I’m working on my next essay for Medium, which I hope to post this week sometime.
Planning to finish up the reviews, so I can get them out and invoiced, either today or tomorrow.

This year, I’m very much hearth-and-home for the holidays. I’d rather do cards and cookie platters than running around to all the holiday networking events. My focus needs to be on other things right now, focused on the home front and the upcoming changes, not on socializing.

Published in: on December 17, 2019 at 6:21 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 17, 2019: Trying to Stay On Top of It All  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tues. Dec. 10, 2019: The Deliveries Have Begun

Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Busy weekend. I got most of the baking done for the cookie platters. I will make more stained glass cupcakes as needed. The chocolate spice cake I created on Thursday is excellent, but I don’t think it will keep long enough to be included in the cookie platters next year.

I do want to find a good vegan and/or good gluten free cookie recipe to include next year.

Saturday morning, I made the first batch of stained glass cupcakes, then created a drop biscuit recipe with chocolate chips and some of the leftover cranberries. Yummy!

We then went to the library, where they were having a greens/bake/ornament sales. The wreaths and centerpieces people made and donated were just gorgeous. I got a great idea for a small arrangement in a holiday mug that cracked, so it can no longer hold liquid, but it’s not yet broken, so we don’t want to throw it away (it still holds memories).

Inside, we found some delightful ornaments at great prices. I came back with another Santa for my Santa collection, a nutcracker for my nutcracker collections (he has a beaver hat and carries a drum), a small snowman, a snowman bell, a wooden small standing tree, a wire small standing tree, a Scandinavian wooden tree candleholder, a dish towel, and two little stuffed animals I couldn’t resist. The whole haul was $17.25.

The pieces integrated beautifully into what we had.

We skipped the Cahoon open house and put up the exterior decorations instead. Lights, garlands, bows, ornaments on our two little trees out front, lights draped along the front to the larger shrubs at either end. Large ornament balls in the front basket holders, smaller ones hanging from the deck.

Of course, although I’d tested all the lights before putting them up, two strands stopped working, so I will have to replace them. Very frustrating.

Put up more lights inside along the windows in the living room and the back room and the stairs. They look pretty.

I should have started delivering cookie platters, but I was too tired.

Re-watched CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT. It was sillier than I remembered. It plays on sexism and misogyny. It doesn’t go far enough, but probably went as far as it could at the time. Barbara Stanwyck was terrific.

Slept in on Sunday, upsetting the cats. Should have gone out and raked leaves, but, instead, stayed inside and wrote holiday cards. I got all the overseas written, and the domestic A=H. That was close to 50 cards. I will get the rest done this week and out. If they go out by Friday, they should still get there before the holidays.

It took all day. I was worn out by the end, and annoyed with myself for not writing on other stuff. But the cards needed to get done.

Watched THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS. Some fun stuff about the writing process, but, overall, I thought it tried too hard and was a bit overwrought.

Up early yesterday. Decent first writing session of the day. Not brilliant, but decent. Too much bad advice for writers starting out on twitter, encouraging mediocrity. There’s no magic formula, and constantly allowing yourself not to write won’t make you a professional writer. Show up, do the work, learn the craft, stop making excuses.

Got a few cookie platter out on my way to my client’s (at to my client). Onsite part of the day. Back home, more cookie platters more delivery.

Meditation, which was desperately needed.

Card writing. Other writing. Tired. Started watching A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Decent, but not brilliant first writing session this morning. Back onsite with the client, making cookie platter deliveries on the way. I need to spend some time at the library this afternoon, and then more card writing, and more work on THE QUALITY OF LIGHT.

Back to the page. I look forward to getting a lot of the holiday stuff done by this weekend, and then writing, reading, socializing, and enjoying.

Fingers crossed that’s the way it works out.

 

Published in: on December 10, 2019 at 6:32 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 10, 2019: The Deliveries Have Begun  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Fri. Dec. 6, 2019: Deep Within the Baking Marathon

Friday, December 6, 2019
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Hop on over to AFFAIRS OF THE PEN, where I talk about the fun of holiday romances.

I got back to baking in the early afternoon, after having adventures finding decent vanilla that was also affordable. It’s shocking how much food prices have gone up this year, while the packages are smaller and the quality is often lower.

I made the orange-cranberry cookies from the recipe in THE CAPE COD COOKBOOK. I started making them a few years ago, and they’ve become a favorite. I made about 10 dozen. I prepped the dough for the same amount of molasses spice cookies, which I will bake today.

I had leftover orange zest (I got a little over-enthusiastic trying to find a way to actually LIKE zesting oranges). So I built a chocolate spice cake around the leftover zest, using ideas from several different recipes, and then tweaking them.

It was outstanding.

I already got the request (although it felt more like a demand) to share the recipe. Um, no. When I put a bunch of work into developing a recipe, I’m not flinging it up on the Internet so anyone can claim it. I’m saving it for my own cookbook. I am thinking of reviving The Heritage Recipe project next year, where I work on family recipes and adjust them for modern times. I think there’s another website with that name already, so I probably need to rename mine.

Then, I wonder if it’s too much to take on, with everything else that has to happen next year.

Watching SHETLAND, Season 5. It’s so well done.

Got in one of the research books for an essay I’m working on. I need to get the other essay done this weekend, so it can go up on Monday, and I’m thinking of doing one more before the end of the year, then the two I’ve been thinking about for a long time early next year.

This morning, I have errands (grocery store AGAIN, post office, library, etc.), some work to get done/out, take my mom to get her blood pressure checked. Then, it’s baking the molasses spice cookies and the oatmeal/currant lace cookies.

Tomorrow morning, I will bake the cupcakes. Then, we’re going to the holiday greens sale at the library, and the open house at the Cahoon Museum. After that, I’ll frost the cupcakes, and maybe deliver ones to the neighbors. Sunday and Monday will be more deliveries. I want to make sure I get them all out by mid-week.

I’m behind on the overseas holiday cards. I wanted to get them out this morning, but I will have to stay up as long as it takes tonight in order to get them out tomorrow morning instead. Otherwise, it’ll be Valentine’s Day before they arrive.

I carefully read through the National Grid bill. We were so careful with gas last much, and our bill is so much higher. You know why? They double the price per therm from November to April. It’s not that I’m using so much more — although, with cold weather, of course I am. It’s that they’re charging DOUBLE. How is that legal? And, there’s both a delivery charge and a service charge. Huh? Aren’t they the same thing? That’s ridiculous. People already use more energy in the winter, because they need to heat the house. The company’s making more money. But now they DOUBLE the price? That’s not right.

I will be talking to my elected officials about that, in our regular conversation, along with all the other points we need to discuss.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you on the other side of it. We’re supposed to get a little more snow today. I already have my pre-storm headache.

 

Monday, Dec. 2, 2019: Defining Joy #UpbeatAuthors

woman-570883_1920
image courtesy of JillWelllington via pixabay.com

Monday, December 2, 2019
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

 

December is the month of joy here. With the Winter Holidays approaching, it makes sense to decide and define what gives us joy.

For me, especially around this season, it’s a combination of old and new traditions, decorating, baking, and doing unexpected small things for other people.

I’m a big believer in holiday cards. I sometimes cut it a little close getting them out, but it gives me pleasure to choose and write a card I think someone will enjoy, to let that person know I’m thinking of them.

I bake a lot at the holidays. I make platters with a central small cake or cupcakes and an assortment of cookies. I give those to neighbors and to people with whom I’ve had a lot of interaction over the year: the library, the mechanic, the firemen, the guy who mows the lawn, the postal carriers, etc. It gives me joy to give them something I made for them.

I go all out on the decorating. I have an entire closet in my storage room that’s the Christmas Closet, floor to ceiling winter holiday decorations (I celebrate more than Christmas in this season). I start decorating on the weekend after Thanksgiving. If I’m lucky, I get it all done by Christmas Eve! The cats know if they sit still too long, they might get decorated, too! Well, the new cats don’t know that yet, but they will.

I make the extra effort to smile at people and to say, “thank you” especially when I’m shopping. I don’t shop on Black Friday — there’s nothing I need that badly to make me wait in line in the cold for hours. I DO shop on Small Business Saturday.

I wrap up projects and look over my plans for the coming year.

When it comes to submissions, unless it’s a contracted deadline, I stop submitting by December 12 or 15, and don’t start up again until around January 6. People deserve a holiday.

It means organization on my part, to make sure I can clear as much as possible off my plate before then. If something comes in here and there for a quick turnaround, then I have the room for it.

I appreciate the decorating other people do, and the gestures they make, and the fun everyone wants to have. I try not to feel pressured by any of it, but to appreciate it. I don’t always succeed, but I try.

Instead of trying to do 20 more things, I try to do less. I work on the things that make me happy, and I steer away from that which makes me unhappy. I make an exception when it’s something that means a lot to someone who matters to me. Then I step up and do it — with grace, not grumble.

In my mind, the winter holidays are here to remind us that, even in when the weather is cold and the days short, we can create light by being joyful with and for each other. When it comes from the heart instead of because we feel it’s expected, then we can have a positive impact all around us.

I’ve talked about this all year — make a difference amongst your immediate neighbors, and start a ripple effect.

What gives you joy during this season?

 

Published in: on December 2, 2019 at 5:39 am  Comments Off on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019: Defining Joy #UpbeatAuthors  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Tues. Nov. 26, 2019: Trying to Clear the Decks

Tuesday, November 26, 2019
New Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Busy weekend.

Friday, I put in the changes and reformatted “Confidence Confidant” back into stage format. Tweaked a couple more things. It makes me want to both expand the play into a full-length, and also to create an evening of one-acts about some of Kate Warne’s cases. That needs to go on the agenda for the 2020 GDRs.

I was a wreck by the time I got home, exhausted, only to find the plumber arrived. He fixed the toilet leak and taped the sink, because the faucets and the valves need to be replaced, and he didn’t have the right parts in his truck.

Worked with the cats, cooked dinner, read. Too tired to do anything but read something light-hearted.

Read a cozy by a new-to-me author. Again, the protagonist is, as Donna Andrews jokes in her series, “Too Stupid To Live.” I liked the premise of the piece, but not the execution.

Up early on Saturday. Did a final proof of “Confidence Confidant” and fixed some formatting errors. Sent it to the director, along with the dramaturgy, and she acknowledged it a few hours later. Whichever way it works out, I’m glad that it got me back into the world of Kate Warne again.

Jumped on a sale at one of the few stores from whom I’m buying holiday gifts.

Came home, did four loads of laundry, dealt with the landlord on the plumbing issues. The toilet started leaking again. The landlord is not sure when the new furnace will be installed, so now I have to worry every cold day until it is. He decided to wait to repaint the house and replace the deck until next autumn. That’s a relief.

Worked with the cats. Raked a few more bags of leaves. Started working on the galleys. Baked tollhouse cookies. Created a new recipe with eggplant, cauliflower, and broccoli in a mushroom sauce. It tastes good, but looks awful. I have to figure out a way to make it look more appetizing.

Worked on galleys until I went to bed.

Up early Sunday. Baked fig muffins. They were good, but not as great as I hoped. Worked with the cats. Finished the galleys and put the changes in. The weather was dreadful.

Took a break, and then worked on “Pier-less Crime.

Ended up outlining two new stage plays. One already has a target market and a date. I will get to work on it in and around the other deadlines.

Worked with the cats some more in the afternoon. Made a dish from the Brunetti cookbook that I’ve made and enjoyed before, and was craving again.

Up extra early on Monday. Had a bad night — woke up around 1 with a bad cough. Took some honey to calm it down, but it took me awhile to get back to sleep. At my client’s by 8 AM, to get ahead on the holiday promotion marketing.

Sent off the galleys. By the end of the day, got back the final set of proofs. Decided to skip meditation in order to turn them around as fast as possible. Did some more work on “Pier-less Crime” because I need to get it out the door ASAP.

This morning, I’m onsite at my client’s again at 8 AM, working on the holiday marketing. I am not working on-site tomorrow — I have several things to do to prepare for the holiday. Tackling each thing as I can, and trying not to feel overwhelmed.

 

Published in: on November 26, 2019 at 6:13 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 26, 2019: Trying to Clear the Decks  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tues. Nov. 19, 2019: Weekend of Work

Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise for the #ReaderExpansionChallenge on a family-oriented novel.

And a happy, happy birthday to my Twitter pal Jake! Have a beautiful day!

Friday afternoon, once I got back from errands and the library, it was about yard work. I hacked back the overgrown roses on the side of the house, took out the invasive oak and bindweed. It took a good portion of the afternoon, and I came away scratched and bleeding. I prefer the Sleeping Beauty look, and it discourages cutting through the property. But my landlord complained, and, knowing these damn men who will put in the new furnace, I guarantee they will insist on going down that side of the house, with the narrow path, rather than the side of the house with the driveway and the flat area to get to the bulkhead to load in the furnace. Because it’s “shorter.”

Only in your dreams, buddy.

But it’s done.

I didn’t write enough on Friday, and it threw off the rhythm of my day. The editing session was good, though.

I started reading my friend’s book, which is fun. I finally feel I’ve done enough work to earn that treat.

I moved Tessa up to my room to take some of the pressure off her with Willa and Charlotte. We got them to be company for her, but their issues are causing problems. I’m giving Tessa a break of a week, and then we’ll start re-integration under supervision again.

What’s funny is that Willa, who bothered Tessa the most, ran around the house looking for her and howling once I brought Tess upstairs, and now spends a good portion of the day sitting outside my bedroom door. Maybe they’ll make friends through the door.

Charlotte ran and hid when I picked up Tessa to take her upstairs; she thought she would be next, and she would be moved again.

I’ve had weird dreams the last couple of weeks. Positive, for the most part, but still weird.

Saturday, got up a little after 6 (late for me). Adjusted the morning routine so Tessa still got fed on time. Charlotte thought she could now eat in the kitchen in Tessa’s spot — no, honey, Tessa will be back there soon. You still eat in your spot.

Yoga, meditation, the first load of laundry in before 7.

Then, to writing. I finished editing a draft of a book late in the morning. I started doing the final proof, so I can send it to my editor for final galleys.

In the afternoon, tried to rake, but it was too windy. Scrubbed the railings and the deck. The landlord said it had mold — no, it was dirt. No mold. Some of the paint is coming off, because the last time it was painted was when we moved in in 2010.

Monday was supposed to be pouring with rain, so I don’t see how they’ll muck about and figure out what needs to be done. But that’s up to them, not me.

My back was killing me.

Spent some time with Tessa and studying runes. Read. Finished reading a memoir where the writer tries to present herself as the heroine, when in reality, she’s a manipulator who was caught out. Worked my last nerve.

Sunday, worked on a new recipe for muffins. They came out pretty well, although I’m going to add vanilla next time around.

Wrote all the posts for December for #UpbeatAuthors. Feel a sense of relief and completion.

Pulled the last bits in from the deck, and worked in the basement on Sunday.

Also made orange marmalade oatmeal bread. It was a lot of work, and I don’t like the result. It’s too dense and heavy. If I do it again, I will try it with just oats, not cooked oatmeal. I was very disappointed.

Scrubbed the basement floor.

Read some more in my friend’s book. Kept getting interrupted.

Did a good chunk of proofreading.

Overslept on Monday morning. I didn’t want to get up when the alarm went off (I’m usually up a half hour to an hour before it goes off). The storm wasn’t as bad as predicted, or at least it seemed so when I woke up.

Morning routine, and then to editing. Went in to my client’s a little early, because I had to leave early because the landlord had the builder coming to look at the deck and the back of the house.

I’m scheduling this to post, so I don’t know what the workday/builder, etc. actually brought yet. I know I plan to be up early on Tuesday, finish the proofs, and get them to my editor.

I haven’t written any new material in a few days, and it’s throwing me off my game. But I need to get these edits done.

I did, yesterday, indulge myself in a few pages of THE BARD’S LAMENT. That helped.

Onward.

 

Fri. Nov. 8, 2019: Cold Weekend for Hot Writing

Friday, November 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

There’s a possibility we’ll get our first snowflakes today. I’m hoping it will be cool and dry the rest of the weekend, so I can work in the yard. In spite of taking 3000 gallons of leaves to the dump yesterday, the yard is full of more leaves.

Hop on over to Affairs of the Pen, where I talk about SAVASANA AT SEA being a case of writing the book I wanted to read.

Yesterday was busy. After two trips to the dump for leaves and recycling, and a massive grocery shop, we brought in some of the plants to overwinter, and put some of the big pots away. The garden ornaments are cleaned and put away for the winter. We have more plants and pots to put away today, and then I have to oil the teak.

I baked a chocolate chip raspberry cake, prepping the filling for chicken pot pie and for Indian stuffed eggplant. I didn’t hear from my friend until 3:30 that yes, we were still on for tonight, and she hadn’t gotten any of my emails in the past week, asking for information, so I could draft up the piece she needs help with.

Mercury Retrograde strikes again.

She got here, and we worked socializing the cats. All three did really well. Even Tessa came out for a bit. Willa was happy to have a playmate, and Charlotte handled having a stranger around really well.

The dinner went well, we discussed what needs to be done. I’m writing/revising the speech today and will send it off tomorrow. She’s giving it in NYC next week, as part of a fundraising conference.

This morning, I wrote the review for the absolutely delightful book I read, and will send it to my editor this morning, telling her I’m ready for the next one.

Driving from errands to the library on Phinney’s Lane, we were all stopped in our tire tracks as a flock of wild turkeys took their time strolling across the street. It was hilarious.

The bulk of the day will be spent working on the speech, but I had a few errands this morning, work on THE BARD’S LAMENT, and edits on another project. I’m hoping to sneak some work in to finish “Pier-less Crime.”

The weekend is about writing, reading, working with the cats, cleaning up the yard, cleaning out some boxes from the basement. I want to finish “Pier-less Crime” and get the opening of the play about Canaletto’s sisters right, along with finishing my edits, and continuing a decent pace on THE BARD’S LAMENT. My goal is only 2 pages a day for it, but I usually write 4-6.

I’d like to get some more of ELLA BY THE BAY typed up — I don’t have much more work to do on that first draft, but I need to see what I’ve got so far so I can wrap it up. Because I blank-paged it instead of plotting it, I’m in a muddle for this last third. The next draft will be a pretty major tear it apart and restructure it.

I’m hoping, by next week, to get back into revisions for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, too.

I also plan to work on the GDR questions for 2020, so I can post them next week.

Onward, one word at a time.

Published in: on November 8, 2019 at 9:47 am  Comments Off on Fri. Nov. 8, 2019: Cold Weekend for Hot Writing  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,