Thurs. Dec. 23, 2021: Nameless Day

image courtesy of Peggychoucair via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Waning Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Partly Cloudy and cold

Nameless Day

Latest on gardeny-weathery stuff over on Gratitude and Growth. I also talk about “Nameless Day”, the day between Celtic Tree Months, and its unshaped potential.

Yesterday, since it was too yucky to go out and run errands on foot (and I’m trying to save the car until I can get it fixed), I decided to make the stollen, instead of piling everything onto today.

Stollen requires a lot of patience. Every step takes a bit, there are four rises to the dough before it goes into the oven, and it’s a lot.

But the yeast bloomed beautifully (new bottle). What a relief after the bread that didn’t rise.

In general, the way the stollen rose was like we were in a horror movie, and it was going to eat the whole house. But once the fruit peel and the currants and golden raisins and almonds went in (soaked in rum, of course), it looked and smelled delightful. It turned out perfectly, the best I’ve ever made.

I also finally made the apple and cheese turnovers from the Wintersweet cookbook. I have to accept that I loathe working with puff pastry, even when I buy the Pepperidge Farm sheets. It never works the way I need it to. It sticks where I don’t want it to stick, it won’t stick to itself, even with water, fork tines, or beaten egg yolk. It breaks when I try to use it. I hate it. And whatever I make isn’t delicious enough to make it worth the frustration.

So I will use up the pastry sheets and the phyllo dough I have in the freezer and not do any more recipes which call for them. I don’t like working with it, so why keep putting myself through all that frustration? There are plenty of other things I like better.

In between the dough rises, I revised and polished the Marie Corelli play “The Swan, Reincarnated” and sent it off. Two down, one to go.

I have a feeling that I will do a quick ten minute “Dawn and Dorothy in the Afterlife” to make the deadline, and then expand it to a full-length next year. This play has been several years in the works. There’s a lot to say.

Sent off a pitch to a coffee company looking for a part-time copywriter, which could be kind of fun. It’s through an agency, so they might put one of their regulars on it instead, but nothing ventured, not shot at all.

A friend was headed home because her mother is in hospice. My heart breaks for her. Words are so inadequate at a time like this.

Did my script coverage and got it out the door. Two more today, and I’m done until next week. I won’t be able to take off the whole week, like I planned, but I can take on less work.

Really, all I want to do is lie around on the couch in yoga clothes and read books.

I have errands to run and packages to wrap, and the last two script coverages to finish, and then I start my holiday weekend. The next long natter we’ll have together is next Tuesday. Have a lovely, peaceful, joyful time.

Published in: on December 23, 2021 at 8:26 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Thurs. Dec. 16, 2021: Contemplation Time

image courtesy of Samuel Theo Manat via pexels.com

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Neptune Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

There’s a post over on Gratitude and Growth about the unseasonably mild weather.

Yesterday was mostly about finishimg up a stack of script coverages before the pay period closed at midnight. So I did that, and met my nut.

I made bread, the Portuguese sweet bread I’ve made dozens of times. Only this time, it didn’t work. I have no idea why. I have a doorstop instead of a loaf of bread. I didn’t do anything differently. It didn’t rise properly, so I’m not sure if I killed the yeast with water that’s too hot or if the yeast is too old. Very disappointing.

Did some decorating. There are still a couple of boxes of decorations to go on the tree, and a few more things to spread around the house.

Worked on tracking sheets for the Big Project. Figured out what I want to write for the Marie Corelli play, so I’ll get started on that today, after meditation and errands and working on the Big Project, and, hopefully, on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

Have to do some year end admin, too, which I’m not looking forward to, but it needs to get done.

Got a special holiday package from Ipsy, with products from some of my favorite makeup brands (like Maelle and Dew Tube), which was fun. And the bag is really cool, too, great for travel. And it got here before the Venus retrograde.

Venus goes retrograde on the 19th until the 29th of January. So no “new looks” or getting my hair cut or anything else. Or starting a new relationship (which wasn’t on the table anyway, because, you know, pandemic). An astrologer friend advised to just stay quiet and solitary until the next Mercury retrograde is past, too (it’s retrograde from the 14 January to the 3 February). Because Venus and Mercury are so close to each other, and those retrogrades overlap, better to be cautious. I’ve had enough chaos in the past two years.

I’m perfectly happy to remain a hermit for the next few months. It does my introverted heart good.

One foot in front of the other, right? I have some more script coverage to do in the next couple of weeks, and then maybe, maybe I can take some time off for the holidays. I’m definitely taking long weekends off, and I’m taking Yule off next Tuesday. But I’d like at least to ease up a bit between Christmas and New Year’s. I have some serious contemplating to do in that time, so that I can start 2022 with a clear head. Pandemic brain fatigue is making me struggle.

The virus numbers continue to rise, so I’ll just stay home this winter, except for the grocery store and the library. We’d expected to do that anyway, because of the weather. It’ll give us a chance to finish unpacking. That’s on hold, because of all the holiday decorations all over the place. Once those are put away, in January, we’ll look around and see what’s what.

I’m doing a tiny bit of unpacking each day, just a few things, so that I feel like I’m doing something. But I have to make some decisions about setting up the files and the project bins and the rest so that the office is efficient. It’s workable now, but it could be better.

I also have to design my quarterly Fearless Ink postcard, so that can go out in early January, to former and potential clients. Holiday cards are just that – good wishes for the holidays, no pitches or upsells. But January is time for client contact. And to refresh the brochure, so it works for where I am now, on multiple levels.

Today is mostly focused on writing and errands, with a bit of marketing thrown in.

But first, the meditation with the group from the Concord Library via Zoom. Charlotte’s favorite part of the week.

Have a good one, friends!

Tues. Dec. 14, 2021: A Twisty Weekend

image courtesy of WaldNob via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and mild

Well, let’s just say, it’s been quite the few days.

Friday, I decided to do a hail Mary pass on the car and see if putting in a new battery solved the issues with the EPC light coming on, which my research indicated was sometimes the case. I joined AAA at the tier which promises roadside battery replacement back in November. Not that they’ve sent me my membership card. I’m still carrying around a printout of the email.

So I jump through all the ridiculous hoops on the AAA website to get the quote, to approve the quote, to get them to email me the quote, and to put through the request.

The guy shows up in 20 minutes.

To jumpstart the car.

“They no longer do” battery replacement in the Berkshires.

Then WHY DID I HAVE TO DO ALL THAT FUCKING PAPERWORK?  And why was not told this when I specifically chose the AAA tier that included the promise of this service?

The way companies based outside the Berkshires take money from us without providing the services for which we pay around here is appalling.

The guy didn’t even need to give me a jump. The car started.

I took it down the street to the mechanic I trust. Turns out my battery is fine. They ran a diagnostic. Didn’t find anything wrong with it. So the dealer in Pittsfield strung me along for weeks, and I’ve been without a car for WEEKS for no damn reason.

In case the light goes on again, I now have the information of a local guy who specializes in foreign cars.

Because I’m not taking it to the dealer in Pittsfield unless there’s no other choice.

Came home exhausted.

But got back to work in the afternoon, with script coverages, catching up on emails, getting out some LOIs, and the like.

Sendinblue has flagged my entire mailing list for the newsletter. They said there were too many bounces, and it had 0% opening rate. You know when they flagged it? THREE MINUTES after it was sent. I don’t know about you, but it’s often a week or more before I open and read newsletters. According to the dashboard, no one opened the newsletter. Yet I was hearing on social media and via email from a good portion of the list how glad they were the newsletter was up and running again. Also, what my dashboard shows as bounces (which I can either delete or research for updated emails) and what they’re telling me bounced don’t match. At all.

And they won’t let me just fix the bounces. They 86’d the entire list. Including the people who signed up via their contact form on my website.

It’s ridiculous.

I’ve worked with several email platforms over the years, both for myself and for clients. None of them have ever pulled this crap. Sendinblue’s response is they “can’t” only flag the bounced emails. If a certain number (and their number is higher than what shows up on my dashboard) bounce, the whole list is gone.

So I signed up for MailerLite (after several conversation with them), exported the whole list, ditched the Sendinblue contact form on my website and put in the MailerLite, and it looks like we’re good to go. I’m not sure if I should re-send the newsletter – Sendinblue claimed they only allowed it to go to a “sample” before 86-ing the entire list, but they won’t tell me to which addresses. I might do a “Take 2” with new information on the top, and tell people where they can stop reading if they already got the list.

Let’s hope MailerLite actually does what they claim to do.

So that puts MooSend and Sendinblue on my “no way do I want anything to do with them ever again.”

I mean, I do a quarterly newsletter. It’s not like it’s a big strain on any platform. Which was another problem with Sendinblue – quarterly wasn’t going to be enough for them. The list would have been flagged for inactivity after a month– and needed to be deleted and re-entered yet again.

No, thanks.

The company is not willing or able to meet my needs, so I will find someone else who can.

Saturday was a rainy, yucky day. Cold and raw. The storm let up for about a half hour, and I did a run over to Big Y and did a big grocery shop, including what I need for the baking, except for the candied peel, which I’m still struggling to find.

Got everything home and unpacked. Read a bit in the afternoon. Worked on script coverages.

Totally enjoyed PAYBACK’S A WITCH by Lara Harper. Very well done.

A little squirrel came up on the back porch, climbed up onto the bench and knocked on the window. He wanted our apples. No, I didn’t feed the squirrel. I don’t want it to go out on the Squirrel Collective Mind that I feel squirrels, or we’ll be overrun.

Sunday was mild and sunny. Got some script coverage done in the morning. We headed out with the last of the cards, dropped off some library books. The dashboard lights came on again in the car, and it gave a bit of a hiccough. I was worried it would stall out, but it smoothed out again. We went to Colonial Alpaca in Williamstown, so my mom could buy a gift for her friend. Then, it was off to Wild Oats to stock up.

They had a small Dresden stollen, so if I can’t get my hands on candied peel and make my own, at least we can have a little stollen. They also had the Nuremberg Gingerbread that I absolutely love. And it was fresh, not stale and left over from years before.

Got home, and we put up the big tree in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. It looks like a normal-sized tree in this house. It always dominated the Cape house. But it’s just. . .nice here. The stand, as always, was a pain in the ass to put together. I have to see if I can find a stand that works for artificial trees that isn’t so awful.

But it’s much sturdier here than it was on the floor back on Cape, and I might not even need to tie off.

We only got the tree up and the lights on, and lights up on the mantel and the front windows. That was as much as we could get done.

Besides, it gives the cats a chance to get used to the tree. We’re lucky; they’ve always been good with it. I mean, they check it out and they sit under it, but they haven’t been destructive, at least not yet. We let them hang out and “help” when we unpack the decorations, and their special Yuletide toys come out and go under the tree, and we have stuffed ornaments for the bottom branches, so it all works out.

Read two scripts, and most of the next book for review.

Tessa actually let me sleep on Monday morning, until after 6. Progress.

Reshuffled my morning yoga sequence. It didn’t work in the way I expanded it, so I put some of the new sequence at the front of the session, and it works better than sticking them on the end.

I had an excellent morning meditation session. Did not want to get up. Could have sat much longer, instead of 30 minutes.

Got blogs up for the Intent for the Week, for the GDR blog, and for tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice.

Found over 800 emails in my inbox, which is not the way I wanted to start my Monday. I got a couple of “we invite you to apply” emails from companies I’ve never heard of. I will have to see what that’s about. How about, if you like my website so much, we have a conversation about what you’re looking for, and whether we’re a good fit? Instead of “invite to apply.” Which, sent out on a Saturday night, sends off warning bells.

Found a couple of things that should have gone into a friend’s holiday package where Willa “helped” pack it – and she swiped those two things and put them in her stash. I retrieved them, wrapped them, and packed them. My mom packed the gift for her friend. I headed down to the post office (on foot) to send them off. Huge line, but moved fast. Told the clerk how grateful I was that the packages mailed last Thursday were already arriving. She was delighted.

Whenever there’s a line, everyone starts chatting with everyone. Like I said, the post office is the happening place around here. Where you go to find out what’s going on. In Lee, it’s Joe’s Diner. Here, it’s the post office.

Home, and back to work. Wrote up some blog posts. Worked on the tracking sheets for The Big Project. Wrote up two script coverages. Started doing some planning and scheduling for blog posts on various blogs for the new year. I need to start batch blogging for some of the blogs (not this one or Gratitude and Growth, which are dependent on the moment) and work ahead.

In the afternoon, I baked 10 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the holiday baking. Much easier and less stressful in this kitchen than it was on Cape, for some reason. Also, because I’m not doing all-day baking marathons, I think that eases up some of the stress, too. And my feet don’t hurt as much working in this kitchen.

I did use up most of the tins I brought up. I thought I’d brought up another box of them, but maybe not.

On the list for spring’s storage run: More tins for the cookies.

I miss my special china and the snowflake cups/plates/pot I got last year. Oh, well, I’ll get it on one of the summer or fall trips to storage, and we’ll have it for next year.

Read the script for which I’d been requested; it was veery good. It will be a pleasure to write it up. Finished reading the book for review. Will write the review, send it and the invoice off today. Ordered a couple of things off Etsy, from an artisan whose work I like, for something I’m working on for the new year.

Started reading Trisha Ashley’s ONE MORE CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, which Deborah Blake recommended. Thoroughly enjoying it. I wonder if this is the book that will convince my mom to read some of the books she likes on Kindle? She’d love this. I stayed up way too late reading.

Tessa let me sleep until 6:39 this morning. Fed everyone, and curled back up on the couch with the book, instead of doing what I should be doing.

Got through a little over 500 emails. I have to hope the car holds up to do an errand, and then get back to work on the review and the script coverage. Or maybe I’ll do the review/invoice first, and then attempt my errand.

I need to write up a long, complicated report on the script I read last night. On this afternoon’s agenda are the orange-cranberry cookies and the oatmeal lace currant cookies. Then, it’s two more scripts to read.

Those emails “inviting me to apply” that I received over the weekend? Bogus. Had nothing to do with anyone actually paying any attention to what I do or my skills. It was a series of automated emails from several different “recruiters” who are just looking to bump their numbers, not actually looking at actual talent to fill roles. Waste of my time to even open the emails.

Off to attempt productivity, when all I want to do is read that book!

At least my work for copyediting clients is done for the year. It’s only script coverage and the last two plays on deadline, both of which I’m writing in my head a good deal before I try to put anything on the page. The Marie Collier play is only a ten-minute play, so once I sort out some more possibilities in my head, I can just sit down and write it. I’m still working on some Dawn-and-Dorothy arcs, and I need to go back into the research materials a bit. Because the latter is so specifically stylized, it’s harder to pull off.

Have a good one.

Tues. December 7, 2021: Maybe Your Business is Struggling Because You’re Unprofessional

image courtesy of Matryx via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold; incoming snow

The past few days have been up and down.

I lost far too much of Friday. I tried to find a mechanic to fix the car – no one would get back to me with a response and an estimate, including the dealer. What kind of business model is that?

According to AAA, the nearest of their certified mechanics is in Bennington, VT. I shouldn’t have to cross state lines to get my damn car fixed.

On top of that, I was trying to integrate MooSend, the platform to which I’d exported my mailing list, to my website, so people can easily subscribe on the website, it goes over to the MooSend mailing list, and they get the next newsletter. Only it wouldn’t integrate. I asked tech support for help, and they sent me links to articles where the steps in the article didn’t match what was coming up on my screen. I went into their Live Chat. The guy sent me the same articles. I told him that I’d tried all that already, and that’s why I was on Live Chat. Because it wasn’t working. He kept telling me to do stuff that didn’t come up on my screen. I’d send him screen shots to show him what was on my screen and what I should do with what was actually coming up, and it just went round and round for hours. He walked away from the chat after a couple of hours. Some other guy came on, a few minutes later – and sent me the article. Hadn’t read any of the notes or looked at the screen shots. I told him to forget it, I was going to a competitor.

In meantime, on the website, I got a flash of something that needed to be updated. I tried to update, and it didn’t work. I contacted my host, A2, and asked for the steps, since clicking the update didn’t work. The tech asked permission to enter the account, I gave it, and the glitch was fixed in less than five minutes.

I thought maybe the MooSend integration would then work, but nope. Still the same issues. So I disconnected all the MooSend plug-ins.

I did some research on other platforms. I knew I didn’t want Constant Contact or Robly. I considered MailChimp, and sent them some questions, which were ignored. They weren’t top of my list anyway, so that was no big deal.

So I looked at Sendinblue, and that seemed to have what I needed. I set up an account, which was easy as could be. I imported my contact list, easy as could be. I downloaded the plug-in to the website. Easy as could be. Activated it, set up the new form, and it seems to work.

I’ve written most of the text for the newsletter, and played with templates. Starting from scratch and building it myself seems to work the best for me, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ll play with it some more, send a test to myself. If that works, the newsletter will go out this week, and the quarterly deliveries will start up again, with occasional special announcements in between.

If you haven’t signed up, and you’d like to, you can do so here.

Getting everything set up on Sendinblue took about 30-40 minutes, including all verifications, API keys, plug-ins, etc. Meanwhile, I’d lost three hours with MooSend’s useless “support.”

Hopefully, I’ll remain happy at Sendinblue, at least for a while.

I was grumpy and exhausted by the end of it all. I hadn’t had time to get the promotions for the holiday shorts “Just Jump in and Fly” and “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall” up. I did manage to do some work on the notes for The Big Project and for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

I did my script coverages. I read the next book for review, which was charming and delightful, and got a good review.

After my pity party, I sat down with Cherie Priest’s GRAVE RESERVATIONS, her newest release. I sat and read until after midnight. I loved it, and did not want to put it down.

Tessa got me up on Saturday around 5:30-ish, which is acceptable. Once I’d fed everyone and they were settled again, I sat on the couch and finished GRAVE RESERVATIONS. Loved it so much. I hope she writes more with these characters, because they are a delight.

I let her know, via tweet, how much I loved the book.

Then, it was time to buckle down to my own work. I did some more work on the outline for The Big Project, and did the first draft of the first chapter, which came in at 1282 words. I’m looking for the chapters to be between 1-1.5K and not more than 2K on any given chapter, and, on this particular project, the structure has to be impeccable, or it will all fall apart. Because it’s complex, I have to keep a careful set of tracking sheets, updating it preferably every chapter, but not more than every three. Or I will get myself into a tangle.

I had a ton of fun writing the chapter, although I had to stop and make decisions on the way about details. They can’t be layered in later, because they are vital to the way the piece builds. Details can be polished or cut or moved in edits, but the first draft has to be what a usual third draft for me usually is.

Still, it was a good feeling to get it done.

The sky looked rather ominous by the time I was finished. I wrapped up for the weather and walked down to the wine store for a couple of bottles of wine, and stopped at Cumberland Farms at the end of the street for eggs and coffee. You know, the essentials: eggs, wine, coffee.

The whole thing was a little over a mile on foot, round trip, and nothing was very heavy. But I’m still not up to full strength after the vaccine booster, and was pretty shaky by the time I got home.

Does not bode well if I have to walk to Big Y and back for a big grocery shop, even with my little upright rolling cart. That round trip would be a little over three miles. Might consider taking a taxi back.

After lunch, I spent some time on the acupressure mat, which I hadn’t done all week. Once I was realigned there, I got up and wrote up the script coverage I had to do.

Leftovers for dinner, and then I did the revision on “A Rare Medium.”

Read some of the Marie Corelli research, but fell asleep fairly early.

Slept through the night, and Tessa didn’t wake me until nearly 6:30 on Sunday. After I fed them, I tried a new banana bread recipe, and, when I didn’t like the way it was turning out, tossed in some chocolate chips, which saved it. Still, not a recipe I’d use again.

I wrote the second chapter of The Big Project, which came in longer than I’d hoped (a little over 2K), but that’s what it needed to be. Felt good. Had lots of fun with it.

Switched over to decorating. We put up some of the Command hooks and put decorations on all the doors. We put multiple garlands on the bannisters, and threaded them through with lights. We put the lights up on the front porch, along with the small tree decorated in silver and blue, that used to be in my office at the other house. I put some battery-operated tall candles in the windows, although I don’t yet have the batteries for them.

It looks really pretty.

I admit, on Friday night, I considered not doing any more decorating this year. No trees, nothing. It all felt like too much.

But then I thought, I’m the one who loves all the decorations, and it’s a form of self-punishment not to put them up. And putting them up on Sunday made me happy, both the actual doing it, and then enjoying it.

It was the Second of Advent, so we lit the two candles. Plus our big, scented Christmas candle. And it was St. Nicholas night – time to put out the shoe, so it can be filled with candy!

Which made for a happy wakeup on Monday.

Charlotte started bothering me at 4:30, but Tessa let me sleep until just after 5.

Morning longhand writing session in, then yoga and meditation. Those practices suffered last week when I was so laid out from the booster, and I suffered as a result. So back to yoga, and I’m slowly expanding my morning practice.

Wrote the third chapter on The Big Project, and had a blast with it. It came in at just under 1800 words, pretty good. Then, I switched over and did just over 1300 words on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and had fun with that. It’s weird, not working in full chapters with that, but there’s only so much I can do.

In and around those two projects, I was still trying to find a fucking mechanic to fix the fucking car. What the hell is wrong with these “businesses”? Can’t respond or give an estimate. Finally got a response from one – who can’t fix a VW. That mechanic recommended another one, whom I contacted and – no response.

After THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, I put in the revisions on “A Rare Medium”, found a few more things to fix, formatted it properly, got in the needed information, saved as PDF, and got it out the door. Ahead of schedule.

Phew.

I’d forgotten to turn on the crockpot, so it had to be on high all afternoon.

Did my script coverage, and got out a book review. Dinner was great; the recipe worked well. After dinner, I did more Marie Corelli research. I have a good sense of the character; now I need the incident in her life to dramatize.

The lovely chiming tower clock over at the college stopped around mid-morning. I miss it. I didn’t realize how much I used it to keep track of my day, and how much joy it brought me.

Went through the materials for tonight’s Wild Oats Board Meeting.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and it’s delightful. I love it when they include fuzzy socks, and these have little hour glasses embroidered on them.

Sorted the laundry before bedtime. Got up at 5 (Tessa was just doing her warmup scales). Got everyone fed, got myself dressed and the first writing session done. Then piled the laundry and the washing materials and my work bag into the little upright rolling cart that’s been in the family since 1969 and rolled the laundry down the street to the laundromat.

As usual, I was the only one there, but it wasn’t creepy. Got the laundry loaded up, then sat down and worked on tightening the point-by-point notes for The Big Project, so that I don’t go off on tangents. Realized I have to do an insert to the second days’ work, in order to keep one of the running jokes going. There has to be a reference in every chapter. The Big Project relies on impeccable structure, along with engaging characters, quick dialogue, and a rip- roaring plot. So taking the time to polish the outline saves me a lot of pain and time later in the process.

After breakfast, I need to do a run to CVS for a couple of things. Fortunately, it’s in walking distance, but it’ll be about an hour round trip. Debating whether or not I should stop by the library while I’m in that direction, or wait until Thursday.

We have a storm coming in today, and snow tomorrow. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a mechanic today and schedule the repair for Thursday or Friday. This is ridiculous. If I can’t trust someone to be capable of the technology of answering an email and/or giving me an estimate, why would I think they have the skills to repair my car?

Once I get back, it’s back to work on today’s words for The Big Project and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. I have to get the ads going for the two holiday shorts, and finish the newsletter.

Then, it’s back to script coverage and client work. With any luck, I’ll get out a few LOIs, too.

But, for the moment, I’m back on the pavement, getting my errands done. We’re definitely getting a storm; pre-storm headache in full force.

Tues. Nov. 30, 2021: Giving Thanks for Vaccine Boosters

image courtesy of Bianca Van Dijk via pixabay.com

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold, chnged over to snow as I wrote this.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, and that the focus was on love and good company, rather than stress and conflict.

Wednesday was a struggle for me to get everything done. Once I’d done my quota on CAST IRON MURDER, I slogged through about 500 emails, trying to get the Inbox under control again.

I struggled with the last project I had before I could call it a holiday. But I got there, by mid-afternoon. The mental exhaustion is even more severe than the physical exhaustion, although my hip was giving me a lot of trouble. I will have to find yoga stretches to help with that.

Was relieved that the three men who hunted down and murdered Ahmaud Arbery were convicted. Unlike the Kyle Rittenhouse jury, this one took its job seriously.

Baked the Ginger Apple Crumb Cake from the Wintersweet Cookbook. It was wonderful!

Read for fun in the afternoon and evening. Played with some ideas, both for inserts I need to do for CAST IRON MURDER, the outline for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and the Big New Project.

A friend came up with a great name for the second workshop I’m teaching on Cape Cod next summer.

Tessa let me sleep until a quarter to six on Thanksgiving morning. It was so nice not to have to worry about anything except making the meal!

I added (in red ink), to the printout of the current draft, the reference setting up the character in CAST IRON MURDER that I need for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY to work. I thought about an insert scene I need to add, but haven’t figured out where to put it yet.

My ego was all in an uproar that I wasn’t updating “every day” or doing the 1667 words for the day. But I planned to be at 50K by Thanksgiving; except for these inserts, I have only one more chapter to write and this draft is done. The whole point of pushing hard at the beginning of the month was so I could choose to take off Thanksgiving without stress.

So that’s what I did.

That’s what these people who scream how the “write every day” mantra is “wrong” don’t get. You write every day that’s designated as a “work” day; that way, you choose when to take time off, be it for life commitments or holidays. But the work is steady. Often, I choose to write on holidays, especially if I’m deep into a piece. But writing every day and meeting daily quotas mean I have the breathing room to CHOOSE when and where to take time off, not just letting the writing slide. Because once you start letting it slide, it’s more difficult to get back into the rhythm.

Every book, every story, every script, has its own innate rhythm. One of the reasons outlining helps so much is that I can jump right into where I left off, and slide back into that unique rhythm much more easily than staring at a blank page, wondering what I meant to do next.

Talked to the family in Maine. We had no intention of traveling this year for the Big Dinner (which is usually held in the VFW Hall and is 60+ people). Both because of the pandemic, and because I’m still unhappy with the lack of support around the move. Since the rule is to put aside all arguments for the day, no matter what, I’d have had to grit my teeth and smile. I don’t have the physical or emotional energy for that right now, especially with all the cooking and cleaning up involved. We’d expected bad weather, and had already bowed out. The dinner wound up being cancelled, due to the rising virus numbers in Maine, even though everyone in the family is triple-boosted or about to be, and the younger kids are all on their way to being double-vaxxed. We might have our differences over plenty of things, but NONE of the extended family is anti-vax or a supporter of the Narcissistic Sociopath.

My cousin, who’s led the organization of the dinner for 50+ years, ordered the meal for the nuclear family this year, from a restaurant. She picked it up yesterday, and all they have to do today is heat it up in the oven for 2 hours. Good for her; after all these years, she’s earned a rest.

I have a feeling the Big Dinner might be a thing of the past.

Which I’m okay with. I have plenty of fond memories of it.

Made the stuffing, stuffed the turkey, and got it in the oven a little after 9 AM. Yes, I cook the stuffing in the bird. I’ve been doing it my entire life. Because I cook the turkey at a higher temperature than most, the interior surpasses the recommended temperature. Because I also basically poach it, by keeping the cover on the roasting pan and using a lot of liquid in the pan, the meat remains tender and practically falls off the bone.

Enjoyed a quiet morning reading while the turkey cooked; Around noon, I got the potatoes going, and make the parsnip-carrot in mushroom sauce dish. I’d saved a precious bag of frozen peas (a rarity right now) and heated them up, along with making corn for myself. I’d stockpiled our favorite cranberry sauce from Trader Joe’s before we moved (closest Trader Joe’s here is over an hour away).

I’d set the table in the morning, there were candles in the candelabra. I think we were the only ones in the entire building. The cats discovered that apples roll better than potatoes, and played with some apples up and down the hall. At least they were getting along.

The turkey came out of the oven, just gorgeous and tender. Needed two platters for it, since it was a 16-pound turkey. One platter for the main bird, and one platter for legs and wings.

The gravy turned out well, too. Giblet gravy, with plenty of fresh herbs.

Put the rest of the stuffing in the oven as soon as the bird came out, so that could bake. Because turkey sandwiches lathered with stuffing and cranberry sauce are a favorite way to use leftovers.

Anyway, the dinner was delicious. We eat around midday (well, closer to 2 PM this year). We had cider from the Berkshire Cider Project, made from Windy Hill Farm apples down in Great Barrington. It was good. I still prefer wine with the dinner, but it was a nice change.

For years, I always had Beaujolais Nouveau with the turkey. I’ve finally accepted the fact that I don’t like that kind of wine, and I’m looking for another red that goes well with the meal.

Cleaned up the leftovers, which I will use in various dishes over the next few days, and some of the turkey went into the freezer. The gravy will be fun to use. Made stock from the turkey carcass. It didn’t make much, so I used it on Friday to make a nice turkey soup that was a good, filling lunch over the weekend.

Got an idea for a stand-alone romantic-comedy-mystery and jotted some notes.

Spent the afternoon and evening with a glass of wine, a book, and French jazz on the CD player. It was lovely.

Scrolled through social media a bit, enjoying people posting photos of their cooking, baking, and starting the Christmas decorations.

Charlotte woke me up at 4:30 on Friday, chewing on my hair. Tessa started singing a few minutes later. I moved to the sewing room, but Tessa and Charlotte started fussing at each other, so I gave up and got up to feed them.

It was gloomy and rainy, with predictions it would turn to snow. It did so by mid-day. Which was fine, since I had no intention of going out and about on Black Friday.

Instead, I started the holiday decorating, made chocolate walnut butter bread, and made turkey soup from scratch (which was really good).

I also read, for fun, although I admit I did a little work-related reading on the Marie Corelli research. Mostly, it was just about having some time off. Spent a good bit of time just watching the snow fall because it was so pretty.

Saturday was sunny and cold. The street was plowed early. People were out and about getting things done.

I wrote a bunch of inserts for CAST IRON MURDER, to fix some plot holes, before I write the last chapter and put the book aside for a couple of months to percolate.

Did some more decorating. After lunch, I did a run to Big Y for a few things, once I’d scraped the snow off the car, and then went on the hunt of liquid Tylenol. You can tell that people are getting their boosters, because almost every store is out of liquid Tylenol. I finally snagged a lonely bottle.

On the hunt for taper candles for the Advent table. Couldn’t find any. Even Wild Oats, which has the lovely Mole Hill candles, was sold out. Hit up way too many stores, and was irritated that people are letting masking protocols slide. With the new variant, that’s not acceptable. At least I wasn’t in any one store for long or that was too crowded.

Tired and grumpy when I got home. Just reheated turkey and trimmings leftovers, and read two scripts at night. Since I don’t know whether I’ll have a reaction to the booster, I’m doing Monday and Tuesday’s work over the weekend. Resent not taking the whole weekend off, but needs must.

Reading Hermione Lee’s biography of Penelope Fitzgerald, which is excellent. How much creative work has been lost because so many talented women remained tied to useless husbands?

Tessa, who hates people food, has decided she likes raspberry rugelach, so we had to put it out of her reach.

I was really proud of Charlotte and Tessa on Saturday. They were both on the couch together for most of the day without fighting. Didn’t even fuss at each other all day. Progress.

Amazon claims they delivered a package on Wednesday “in the mailbox” at 1:08 PM. In Pittsfield. First of all, I don’t live in Pittsfield. Second of all, the only things “in my mailbox” on Wednesday were an LL Bean catalogue and a flyer from the Sierra Club. Since Amazon doesn’t have a customer service email anymore that they share, I had to call them out on Twitter. Where they pretended to help, but only sent links that kept sending me around in circles.

I’ve only ordered 4 times from them in the past 2 years (other than eBooks). All four times, they’ve claimed the packages were delivered when they weren’t. After a big fight, they give a partial refund, then take back the full amount when they claim it’s been replaced/redelivered. Which it never is.

Done ordering anything except eBooks from them.

I’m tired of the lies and the double-charging. I don’t mind everything taking three or four weeks longer than they say. I mind the constant lying. And the attitude that if I expect a package to be delivered, it will only happen if I join Amazon Prime.

Tessa let me sleep until 5:30 on Sunday morning, mostly because she and Willa were playing. I’m glad the three of them are finally getting along. It’s taken three years of nearly constant work.

Wrote the final chapter of CAST IRON MURDER. This draft of the book is done, coming in a little over 62K. For a not-quite-cozy, I might almost get away with that, in subsequent drafts. It feels good to have it complete. It’s done a lot to help me regain my confidence that I CAN write another book. And another. And maybe even one after that. In other words, get my career back on track.

I also put all my chapters into a single document to upload to the Nano site on Tuesday, for verification.

When I write I draft in standard manuscript format, and I draft every chapter in a separate file (each draft is a separate folder).

It saves ever so much time and frustration later in the process.

After breakfast, found some cream-colored taper candles at a store I don’t like, but I did manage to grab the last box of any taper candles they had. Then, over to a place we do like, Whitney’s Farm over in Cheshire, where we bought a live wreath. Brought it home, decorated it, put it up. It makes the front door look festive.

I procrastinated in writing up my coverages. Instead, I took a short course with Sisters Enchanted, and updated my Amazon author page (well aware of the irony of that, since I am so unhappy with Amazon).

I finally got both coverages written, and then read two more scripts. Tessa and Charlotte didn’t fuss at each other all day Sunday, either. Progress.

Up early on Monday, with the usual routine (cats, yoga, meditation, shower, writing). Worked on the outline notes for the Big Project, which I have to start this week. Wrote up the script coverages and sent them off. Wrote a letter to my mom’s insurance – even with Senator Elizabeth Warren’s help, there are things that need attention. Sent off my blurbs, bio, etc. for next summer’s conference. All before 10 AM.

Drank most of a bottle of water and we headed off to CVS for my vaccine booster. Pfizer, this time. The young male nurse was very kind and chatty. I was in and out in 15 minutes. My arm hurt and the fatigue set in fast, but nowhere near the reaction I had with the Moderna shots.

My mom drove us home – her first time driving in this area. She did very well. My Tamed Wild box arrived, so that was something fun to open. I had enough appetite for lunch, and enough energy to read a delightful script, write it up, and send it off, before I crashed.

I slept on the sofa most of the afternoon, and had some scrambled eggs for dinner. I read in the evening, took Tylenol as my arm started hurting more, and went to bed. My arm hurt, I was fatigued, had chills here and there. For about 10 minutes, the palms of my hands turned bright red, which was weird, but then it faded. Much milder effects than Moderna.

Charlotte and Tessa fussed at each other. Back to square one.

My mom promised to get up and feed them in the morning, so I could stay in bed. Well, by 5:14 AM, I had all three cats in my room performing the feline version of the “Hallelujah Chorus” and gave up. I fed them. Tessa started yowling when I went back to bed. I picked her up and dumped her in my mom’s room and closed the door. Five minutes later, she was out again and yelling.

I am not a happy camper.

Especially since they’re all fast asleep now.

Can’t figure out where to upload CAST IRON MURDER for verification. It used to show up right on the landing page. Other than that, I’d cleared today, in case I felt bad. I don’t feel terrible, but I’m fatigued, achy, my arm hurts, I have a bit of a headache, and a bit of lymph node swelling. Not bad, especially in comparison to the Moderna, but I’m glad I cleared things so I could take it easy today.

There are things I can do if I feel up to them; but there’s nothing that HAS to get done today, except that I rest.

Finished the Penelope Fitzgerald biography by Hermione Lee, and now I want to read Fitzgerald’s novels. Will order them from the library before I go back to bed.

Peace, friends, and catch up tomorrow.

Wed. Nov. 24, 2021: Holiday Meal Prep

image courtesy of Sarah Chai via pexels.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

After yesterday’s quota on CAST IRON MURDER was met, I headed for the post office to mail the two packages (one overseas, one domestic that I wanted to arrive during Chanukah). The overseas rate has gone way up, but it’s the only package, so I’m not worried. The domestic package rate has gone up somewhat, but along what I expected.

Then, off to the library, to drop off and pick up books. To Big Y, for a few last-minute items.

Home, unpacked, and worked on script coverage. I was done about midafternoon. I have one more to read/write up before the holiday, but I was just too tired. Each script deserves my ability to concentrate and respond at top capability.

Leftovers for dinner. I’m trying to clean out the fridge to make room for turkey leftovers!

Pondering how I want to change things for next year, as far as work schedule, the way the workload is spread out, etc. I’m on the right track; I need to make a few decisions about where to put my focus and energy. I need to figure out the roster of projects I need/want to get done, and how to juggle them so I don’t burn out and can truly enjoy each of them.

I want to go back to Sundays (or at least one day a week) being disconnected from social media, email, etc. I want to use that day for yoga, meditation, projects I WANT to do, rather than things I feel I HAVE to get done before the next week starts. I want to shift some of my focus, copywriting-wise in the next few months, with a bigger emphasis on certain areas, while pulling back in others. I like the flexibility I have now, and I like taking what Americans consider a long-ish break in the middle of the day, even if it means working later at night.

Went to bed early. Tessa woke me up at 4:10. I moved to the bed in the sewing room, and she settled down, happy. Then Willa and Charlotte came to check in, and I gave up and got up.

Headed for the laundromat early, and got everything done in about an hour and a half. I was the only one there. Sometimes it’s creepy, but today, it wasn’t.

I worked on the outline for the second HEARTHSTONE book (the series started with CAST IRON MURDER). I’m calling that book THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, at least for the moment. Outlining is something I can do at the laundromat, because the hum of the machines gives the writing an underlying beat, and I can still be aware of what’s going on around me. If I’m deep in scene work, I’m not alert enough to my surroundings.

I realized I have to seed a couple of things in CAST IRON MURDER for it to make sense in KRINGLE CALAMTIY, so when I go back in a couple of months to revise CIM, I’ll seed them in. Unless I put them in as inserts in this draft. I forgot to write a scene in CIM that’s kind of important to set something up for the end of the book, so I’ll go back and do that this weekend. When I go back and revise, I have to clean up some timeline stuff; it’s too vague the way it is right now.

Made some notes on the project with which I’ve been playing. It’s still mostly world-building and character relationship notes, although I’m starting to feel more than see how the first three major arcs will go.

When I came back, after breakfast, I wrote 2951 words on CAST IRON MURDER. I realized about two pages of this chapter needed to be the end of the previous chapter, not the opening of this one, so I moved them back into that chapter, and then this chapter made more sense. I need to smooth out a bit of logic, which I can do once I’ve added the insert scenes.

One more chapter (and insert scenes) and I’m done with this draft.

Since it’s not a contracted, deadlined project, I can then put it aside to rest and marinate for two months, before I start working on revisions.

And get back to my contracted, deadlined projects.

I hope to do the revision of “A Rare Medium” early next week, and get that in before deadline. I’m hoping to start the Marie Corelli play this weekend.

I got through about 500 emails this morning. I’m trying to get (and keep) the email situation under control.

I’m a little concerned, because the COVID numbers are going up again here, and Pittsfield is back in the red zone. Since we were shopping in Pittsfield last weekend, I’m monitoring us.

I have one more script to cover, and I’m done for the holidays. I’m debating reading another couple of scripts Saturday/Sunday, in case the COVID booster knocks me out Monday/Tuesday. I’ll see how I feel on the weekend. My brain needs the break.

I’ve got some baking to do this afternoon – cheddar and apple turnovers, an apple/ginger cake, and possibly the chocolate walnut butter bread. Or I might do the bread over the weekend.

Tomorrow morning, I make the stuffing and put the turkey in the oven. I’m serving it with traditional mashed potatoes and homemade turkey giblet gravy, peas, and I’m doing my carrot-parsnip dish in mushroom sauce. I have a bottle of local hard cider from Berkshire Cider Project that I bought specifically for the meal.

Friday, we start the winter holiday decorating, and work on the domestic cards. Sunday is already the First of Advent and the beginning of Chanukah. At the very least, I need to get the Advent table up.

Yes, there will be photos, especially since this is the first time we’re decorating this space, and it will be very different from the past ten years in the Cape house!

Monday, I get my COVID booster in the morning, mixing Pfizer with my previous Moderna shots. Hopefully, I won’t have strong side effects. My mom had 3 Pfizers, with barely any side effects, except sore arm and fatigue. My first two Moderna shots kicked my ass.

Have a lovely weekend, my friends. Enjoy the holiday. Rest, eat, enjoy.

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

image courtesy arthouse studio via pexels.com

Friday, October 1, 2021

Waning Moon

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

Foggy, chilly, raw

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

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

Nothing.

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

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

It wasn’t the pilot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll see how it goes next week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Willa is smart enough to stay out of it.

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

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

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

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

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

Tues. Sept. 21, 2021: Finding Rhythms

image courtesy of Petra Boekhoff via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Last Day of the Full Moon

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

Sunny and cool

I am happy to say that the weekend was less stressful than I expected. Which is a good thing.

I was in touch with my friend on Friday to find out if he was coming by to drop off the carload of Christmas decorations, or if he needed to move it to a different weekend. First he said he wasn’t; a few minutes later, he was back in touch to ask if he could. So we were back on.

I baked his favorite from my baking repertoire, lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting. I thought the frosting was a little too sweet; I need to work on my buttercream frosting skills. But, overall, they turned out well.

I also baked brownies, because I craved brownies, and, since I had the oven on anyway, why not?  They turned out really well, too.

Saturday, I vacuumed and mopped and did general housework in preparation for my friend’s arrival. He and his family had decided to make it a day trip, but had gotten a later start than expected. No worries. I was caught up with everything and ready.

I worked on GAMBIT COLONY while I was waiting, re-reading the rest of Book 4 and what I’ve written so far into Book 5, making some edits here and there. But, overall, I’m pretty happy with it. It’s not the kind of series targeted to a general audience; it’s definitely for people interested in the arts, who can deal with large ensembles. And I want to have the first six books of the series submission-ready before I start pitching them. Those first six books encompass auditions, rehearsals, shooting the mini-series, and then the first season when it’s picked up. At some point in the game, I’ll get back to working on the series website. I don’t know if my publisher would even consider it, or if I should go pure indie.

Anyway, in the early afternoon, I heard from my friend; he had taken a wrong turn, and was about an hour behind where he expected.  Again, no worries. I felt worse for him than for me.

He finally got here, and it only took 15 minutes to unload the car (under Charlotte’s supervision). He’d dropped off his family to do a short hike while he unloaded, and I gave him the cupcakes, which delighted him. They planned to go apple picking, and then stop at their favorite barbecue place on the way home. So they had a nice family day out, off Cape. Sometimes, it’s hard to get over the bridge, even when the traffic’s not a nightmare.

The day had started kind of rumbly and drizzly, but by the time they got out here, it had turned into a gorgeous autumn day. I was delighted for them, and so grateful for the carload of stuff!

My Kindle Fire is acting up; books I buy aren’t necessarily downloading. I believe this is Amazon trying to force me to buy a new Kindle (which they keep sending me emails about), which I don’t want to do, because I like this one. And hate Amazon. Customer Service wasn’t much help. No surprise there.

On Sunday morning, we were on the road by 6:30, headed back to Cape. It was a reasonably smooth ride down, and the weather was gorgeous. We arrived a little after 10, and I rearranged things in the main storage unit so that whatever we couldn’t get into the car would fit, and moved out of the second storage unit. The car was packed, but it was mostly light stuff (and yeah, more Christmas decorations). I also got the trunk full of yarn up, and the giant bin with all our winter coats. Once I empty that bin, I will fill it with the small boxes of holiday decorations, so that they are all safe and protected and in one spot, instead of in dozens of tiny boxes that have to be stacked like a weird Rubik’s cube.

I did the move-out paperwork for that unit, and we were back on the road by 11:28. Over an hour earlier than I’d expected. Unfortunately, the traffic over the Bourne Bridge was a nightmare, but we were still over before noon (the storage facility is just over the bridge on the Cape side).

The traffic was heavy all the way back to the Berkshires, but it moved, except for a messy patch around Worcester.  We made it back by 4, and my leg only hurt a little. The relief at getting it all done is immense.

Unpacked, hauled everything up, and rested. Since the book I bought still wouldn’t download to Kindle, I started reading the next book for review.

Up way too early on Monday, thanks to the cats. But got in a good meditation session, and good first writing session.  The cats were running and playing like loony tunes. But then, full moon, what do you expect? It was pretty funny.

There’s a bunch of new paperwork involved in getting the car registration and our licenses switched over to the new address, and I am frustrated with it. Also frustrated because Spectrum went down again in the afternoon. I fixed the problem myself from this end while I was waiting for the tech.

Got some work done early. Headed over to the college library to drop off books and check out some other books. Headed to the grocery store to get what I still needed for the Equinox dinner tomorrow. Unpacked the oversized bin with all the winter coats, and got those hung up. Refilled the bin with small boxes of fragile winter holiday decorations. I have to rearrange the big closet in the sewing room; I think most of that closet will house decorations.

Unpacked a couple of boxes of general decorations we’d never used in the Cape house. They fit better here. They are from our travels. Some of them definitely have the Deco/Nouveau vibe that works so well here. Stuff that we decide not to use is getting repacked, and will go back down when we do our storage run in spring.

Wrote up script coverage on two pieces, and read three others.

Trying to get into a more regular work rhythm for the fall and winter.

Found my favorite comfy pants pattern, and will make some fleece pants for both of us to wear around the house this winter. I’m looking forward to getting the sewing room set up and getting back to making clothes.

Have a bunch of coverages to write up today, more scripts to read, articles to write. An ex-client wants to talk to me, and I’m not looking forward to it. There are very good reasons this client is a former client rather than a current one.

My keyboard is now all wonky, too. I’m having trouble with all my devices. My Mercury has gone retrograde early. I better back everything up today.

Sigh. It’s going to be one of THOSE days, isn’t it? Hope you, at least, have a good one.

Tues. Sept. 14, 2021: Getting Back on Track

image courtesy of Martin Winkler via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

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

Cloudy and pleasant

Yesterday’s post on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site is about compassionate pondering.

Busy weekend, but it felt like I’m getting back on track.

Friday, I worked on script coverage, and then my mom wanted to come on the big grocery run, so that’s what we did: Big Y, Wild Oats, Stop & Shop. People are masked in the stores, no one is fussing, and it takes so much pressure off shopping.

My reward for all that was to read Deborah Blake’s FURBIDDEN FATALITY, the first in her new Catskills Pet Rescue series. The book is an absolute delight! She takes all the best of the cozy mystery genre, and leaves out the annoying, overused tropes. I’m so excited for the next one, which comes out in November.

Saturday was the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. As a former New Yorker, who knew a lot of people who died, the anniversary hits me hard every year. It was helpful to see the Bidens, VP Harris and her husband, The Obamas, and the Clintons offer dignified, respectful mourning.

I watched The 9/11 Table of Silence Project. It is performed at the fountain at Lincoln Center, and this year, there was even a limited audience. It was beautiful and powerful. If you’ve never seen one of the performances, I suggest following the link to watch. I love the way they entwine dance, music, spoken word. The way the musicians move through and with the dancers during the performance.

After the piece was over, I had to sit quietly with it for about another half hour, because it was as filling as a wonderful meal, only for the soul.

Worked on script coverage. Dashed to Big Y to get cashews and butter. Made the Moosewood Recipe for White Bean and Kale soup. It also has fennel, potatoes, carrots, and sundried tomatoes in it. I don’t often use fennel (or kale) so it was an adventure. It turned out really well, and the leftovers will provide lunch for a few days. I’ve made a similar Portuguese version with sausage, and a slightly different version with ham hocks. This was my first foray into the vegetarian version.

I had hoped to go to a gem and mineral show that was in walking distance from me on Sunday. However, when I drove by on Saturday, no one was wearing masks to enter. It was inside, and nothing in the promotional materials spoke to any COVID protocols. There were kids going in. So I decided it wasn’t worth the risk. It’s one of the few reckless, irresponsible events I’ve seen since I’ve been here; people are usually more responsible than that. But why spend money at an even that could kill me? No, thanks.

In the afternoon, I read the next book for review. It was wonderful, and I couldn’t put it down. I rarely give a full 5 stars, but this one gets it.

Read three scripts for coverage in the evening. The college students are out getting drunk and coming home late, being loud again. But it’s only for a few minutes on a Friday or Saturday night, so it wasn’t bad. There was live music somewhere nearby. I’m not sure if it was at the lake, or at the pub down the street. There’s definitely a sense of life around here!

Eggs Benedict again on Sunday morning, and then I made our favorite orange rye bread. The recipe makes a loaf of bread and rolls. I like the way the rolls come out better, so next time I make it, I think I will do the entire batch as rolls.

I wrote up the coverages for the scripts I’d read the night before, and wrote and submitted the review for the book.

Because I lost two days last week (one for the holiday, one for the storage run) and will lose another day before the end of the pay period, I had to work through the weekend. But it was a steady pace, not a crazymaking one, so it was all good.

I made curried red lentil burgers for dinner. Not as bad as I feared, but not as good as I’d hoped. I felt good after eating them, though. My body responded well to the ingredients. I liked using chutney on them.

Yesterday was back to the “regular” workday, so there was script coverage and working on the short Llewellyn articles and LOIs and catching up on email. That deadline is coming up, and I’m behind where I’d like to be.

I’m working steadily on the novel, and, next week, will have a conversation with my publisher about getting the series books back on track. As soon as I’ve made more progress on the short Llewellyn articles, I will go back to steady work on the plays.

Last night, I had to miss the playwrights’ virtual circle I’d hoped to attend, because of script coverage stuff. I hope to make it there next month.

I read the script for which I’d been requested. It was a script I’d really liked, but had a few minor notes. The writer made the changes, and asked that I be the reader again, with comments on the advised changes. It was excellent.

I got behind in the coverage because I got so caught up reading Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek, and I couldn’t put it down. Which is a good thing, but it meant I had to work longer into the evening to make my deadlines.

I need to set up my weeks so I’m not doing script coverage 7 days/week, because that just burns me out. Even with holidays or storage run days, I still usually read, and I just need a break for a couple of days every week. So I have to structure, as often as possible, not to do coverage on weekends. Whatever days I choose as my “weekend.”

But I made chicken chow Mein in the wok, and it was yummy and that made me happy!

 The waxing moon was absolutely gorgeous. I could sit on the front porch and enjoy it.

A busy day ahead, so I’ll get to it. Have a good one.

Tues. Sept. 7, 2021: Back At It

image courtesy of chezbeate via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Waxing Moon

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

Sunny and pleasant

Hope you had a good weekend.

Thursday’s meditation group didn’t happen, because there was a miscommunication between the organizers and the teacher. No big deal. I sat on my own.

Most of Thursday was about baking and cleaning for me: baking banana-oatmeal-walnut-chocolate chip cookies, regular chocolate chip cookies, orange rye bread, Portuguese sweet bread, Swedish visiting cake, and an apple galette. Making up the guest bed. Vacuuming, mopping, dusting.

Friday morning, I had to go in person to Greylock Federal Credit Union. Our checks aren’t here (they were ordered August 13). I tried to pay the rent online & couldn’t. It would take TEN DAYS to transfer the money from my account to an account at the same bank. Unacceptable. There’s no real office where I could drop cash. So I went to the bank and had them transfer from my account to the landlord’s account, and asked them why the checks weren’t here.

Turns out the check order never went through. The bank apologized and promised to put in a rush order, paying for everything.

I’ll believe it when the checks arrived.

Meanwhile, I was getting texts from my friend, who was supposed to come up for the weekend. Amtrak cancelled all trains, because Hurricane Ida dumped ten feet of mud onto the tracks. Metro North is out. It’s a disaster area.

Of course, they didn’t tell her until she was at the station.

She tried to switch over to a bus, but so was everyone else. She tried to get a bus to Springfield, but that wasn’t working, either.

So the trip was cancelled. We’ll reschedule for October.

Meanwhile, I had all this organic food I’d bought, to show off our local produce, etc. It still had to be eaten this weekend, so that it wouldn’t spoil, so I cooked all the recipes I had planned: chicken in tarragon white wine vinegar and potatoes au gratin (Patricia Wells recipes); Indian stuffed eggplant (Moosewood recipe); Hunter’s pasta with four kinds of mushrooms & prosciutto (from a cookbook specializing in regional Italian sauces). We ate the devilled eggs (not hard).

I spent most of the weekend reading. I read a book from the library that’s gotten a lot of buzz. The writing was strong, the setting was fantastic. But I hated the characters, and by the time they started to grow and change, I didn’t care. I read a book by a new-to-me author, the first in her series, sort of chick lit. I liked the characters, but there’s too much religion (they go to church and pray too much, no thanks, not for me) and disparage black cats. So that author’s off my list. I read a book by another new-to-me author who jumped on the cozy Witch mystery bandwagon, only couldn’t be bothered to do any research into what modern witchcraft actually is all about, had no internal logic to her created world, had no pacing, and a boring plot. Another author crossed off my list.

Read the next two Wonky Inn books, which I enjoyed.

Started re-reading some GAMBIT COLONY, but it felt too much like work, and I promised not to work this weekend, so I stopped. Of course, I went back to it, eventually, but by then, it wasn’t feeling like work anymore. I could just enjoy it.

On Saturday, we drove down to Pittsfield to find the Re-store. I made a wrong turn on the way and found a bunch of box stores, like Barnes & Noble and Michael’s and Price Chopper, so that’s good to know where they are. We went into Michael’s. it’s a good one, very clean, better merchandise than the one on Cape. Didn’t buy anything, though. All the autumn stuff is already on sale.

The Re-store is just up the street from the complex with the box stores, and it is huge. So much stuff that it’s overwhelming. We found a replacement glass bell for the small red lamp. It was a great price to start, and then 50% off, so, even better.

Got home, washed it, set up the lamp. It fits perfectly. The lamp is now all set up in the living room and looks great.

I finished unpacking and reorganizing all my CDs. I have a wide range of music. I need to start playing them again, because there’s good stuff on that rack.

Spent a lot of time sitting on the porch, enjoying watching the world go by. Ate too much, but that was the plan for the weekend, anyway.

I expected to feel much more rested and restored, but oh, well.

This is a busy week. Since I took four days off (of which two would have normally been workdays), I have to make up for it this week. I still have to make my nut by the 15th, in order to pay this month’s bills.

So, then, I better get to it, hadn’t it?

I wrote my first 1K of the day every morning, throughout. It wasn’t always 1K, it waved between about 750 and 1200. But I kept up the steadiness.

I’m trying to work on an outline for a piece. I have a strong catalyst, setting, characters, but I haven’t nailed down the plot yet. Without a good plotline, there’s no purpose to the piece. I have to ponder it.

Hope your weekend was terrific, and that it sets you up for a great week. I love September!

Thurs. Sept. 2, 2021: So Ready For a Long Weekend

image courtesy of Daria Nepriakhina via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Waning Moon

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

Partly cloudy, mostly sunny, and cool

There’s a post over on Gratitude and Growth of garden-y type things.

Why is anyone surprised that SCOTUS allows Texas to get away with destroying Roe vs. Wade? That’s what this court wants, that is why those inept, corrupt “justices” like Kavanaugh, and Barret were pushed through. Those of us who’ve been working for reproductive rights since the goddamned EIGHTIES have been predicting this, and we were called alarmists. All of this, and most of the COVID deaths, could have been prevented if the fucking Democrats would stop acting like Republicans will EVER be reasonable. We voted the Democrats in to FIGHT, and they’re letting Republicans walk all over them as they always do.

Got some decent writing done yesterday morning. Caught up on email; sent out one LOI. The company is interesting, but I don’t think they can afford me.

Got paid by a client earlier than I expected, which is great, and takes a lot of pressure off me for the weekend.

Remote Chat was a lot of fun. I also participated in MassCreative’s WPA Town Hall about the Arts Recovery in the state. It was a really good conversation, with participation from the US Dept. of Arts and Culture. Will anything come of it? Who knows? But it’s making me seriously consider joining the Town Committee on Public Art.

Worked on script coverage, on and off, most of the day. Have to finish up my last few pieces, and then I’m done for the weekend. My friend arrives from NY tomorrow afternoon (I’m picking her up in Albany, at the train station), and she’ll be here until Monday afternoon. We are going to have some fun. I hope the weather cooperates enough so we can spend some of it outside, but I also want to go to MassMOCA.

I was invited to an online tarot class today which I’m looking forward to – in and around the cleaning and the baking and the last-minute runs to the stores.

I have meditation this morning; then I’ll prep the breads. I’ll do one script coverage, then the grocery run, then the class, then cleaning and finishing the baking, while doing the rest of the script coverage. I also have a book to write up for review. It’s a lot to get done, but it will take as long as it takes, and that’s all there is to it.

I’m taking off tomorrow and Monday from regular work, although I’ll probably do my first 1K of the day in longhand. My friend from NY arrives tomorrow for the weekend, the first guest in the new apartment, and the first time I’ve spent fun time with any friends in person since before the pandemic. I hope the weather is nice enough so we can do stuff outside, for at least part of the weekend.

Have a good one. Let’s hope we can find solutions to the world burning down. I do not believe there are any peaceful solutions left. That train left the station a long time ago, thanks to Democrats refusing to fight, and constantly cutting slack to right wing extremists.

I hope all the suffering and death Susan Collins has caused torments her for every moment of her natural life, and that the souls of those she’s wronged chase her into the hell she deserves. Same with the Court Justices who betrayed their oath to the country, putting their right-wing ideology first.

And to say I’m disappointed in Merrick Garland is an understatement. We need action and leadership, not milquetoast nothingness.

Published in: on September 2, 2021 at 7:15 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Sept. 2, 2021: So Ready For a Long Weekend  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wed. April 14, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 326 — Exhaustion

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Partly cloudy and cooler

Yesterday was not a particularly productive day. It was mostly built around rental listings and inquiries. Saw a house that fits our budget, location, and price parameters that didn’t seem like a scam, so sent an inquiry on that, too. We’ll see. It seems low-priced for the area, but then, so is where we are now.

Saw an overpriced, absolutely mediocre house in a mediocre neighborhood (that had a nice kitchen, though) – but their demand is that anyone who wants to rent it earns a “minimum” of $114K/year. Are they high?

The Sagamore Bridge is down to one lane in each direction for bridge work, which also puts more pressure on the Bourne Bridge. The traffic is already back to summer pre-pandemic levels, so getting on and off Cape is difficult. It’s very frustrating.

Got some client work done, caught up on some correspondence, worked on contest entries. This category I’m working on has fierce competition. What a pleasure to read strong book after strong book!

Mostly, I felt drained and exhausted.

Got a bit of packing done. Charlotte “helped”, Tessa kept wanting to unpack what was packed, Willa’s not sure about it all.

Stress baked chocolate chip cookies because I was stressed and wanted chocolate chip cookies. Might as well keep enjoying the kitchen while we’re here.

Arm feels better, still fatigued and have a headache.

Got a request for further information from a potential client, so we’ll see.

Was very disappointed by a company whose products I’d liked for years. We started discussions about the possibility of me doing some copywriting for them – but they want unpaid samples. Nope. So not only am I moving on, I will no longer be a customer. If that’s how they treat employees, while promoting themselves as a company out to do “good” in the world – hypocrites, and I won’t work for them.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are digging in, just trying to make it through the end of the school year, although some of them don’t know when that will be. Dates keep getting changed. Schools that are back to in-person learning keep having to switch back to remote because of COVID outbreaks. I’m glad we’re all staying strong, and the kids won’t go back in person this year no matter WHAT the pressures are.

The parents are starting to get their vaccine appointments, and, hopefully, in a few months, vaccines for the kids will be approved, and they can, too.

Today will be stressful, having to be onsite at a client’s, but then I have Remote Chat to which to look forward, and I am.

Have a lovely day, and please spare a positive house-and-hearth thought for me, if you can.

Published in: on April 14, 2021 at 4:39 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 14, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 326 — Exhaustion  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Tues. March 30, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 312 — Steep Climb

image courtesy of Peter H via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Waning Moon

Cloudy and cooler

Weird few days, and I’m trying to keep a balance.

Did a focus group on Friday with the Arts Foundation (virtually). A lot of people had signed up, but only six women showed up. Six white women, and the lack of diversity did not pass me, at least, unnoticed. But it was a good conversation. There’s still a refusal to admit that if art is not seen as a viable profession, but simply a hobby, that artists cannot thrive. Not here, not anywhere. Only supporting rich artists who have second homes in this area isn’t going to help the artists that try to live and work here all year round. Until that is dealt with, it won’t get any better.

This being a beautiful place doesn’t make up for the lack of financial support and respect given to full time artists who LIVE HERE. There was a lot of talk about how art is an important economic engine for the Cape. THEN PAY ARTISTS A LIVING WAGE. Why should everyone BUT the artist be profiting?

I was both glad that I attended and frustrated.

Had a frustrating conversation with a potential new client with whom I’m pretty sure I don’t want to work. It was another of those inane interview questions from the HR HANDBOOK FOR THE STUPID. The question was “What achievement are you most proud of in the last year?”

Me: Survival.

Client: (nervous laugh): Well, you know, I mean, workwise.

Me: Survival.

Client: I mean, did you work, did you get anything done?

Me: Of course I did. I worked flat out since the start of the pandemic. Almost all remotely. But the most important thing was that we survived. I kept a roof over my head and food on the table and my family stayed ALIVE. There’s a pandemic going on. Everything else is secondary.

Client: Well, that doesn’t show much dedication to your work.

Me: I think we’re done here.

I mean, really, what an ass. It was a big red flag that the positive “work culture” this company supposedly touts is non-existent.

Another weird thing that happened: An envelope arrived from an unknown address in Mashpee. For those of you who don’t know the Cape, it’s about two towns closer to the canal/bridges than I am. When I opened it, a prayer card fell out and a typed letter.

The letter invited me to come and “celebrate the death of Jesus” at their evangelical church.

Um, what? Celebrate the death?

Now, it’s been a good many years since I was an Episcopalian, and even more years since I was an acolyte and did Holy Week services. But I remember MOURNING the death on Good Friday and CELEBRATING the resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Even if I still was a Christian, which I am most certainly NOT, celebrating the man’s execution is not what Holy Week is about, at least not in any of the denominations I investigated before I became Episcopalian. As someone whose path has taken me in a far different direction than all of this bruhaha for Holy Week, the thought of celebrating a crucifixion makes me ill.

On top of that, why is a church direct mailing a bunch of random people? How did they get my name and address? It’s creepy.

Even further, there’s a pandemic. I’m not going to a large gathering, ESPECIALLY amongst creepy people like this who, I bet you dollars to doughnuts, don’t’ wear masks.

It’s very creepy and rather sickening.

I burned it all, just for good measure. In my cauldron, not in the fireplace, with rosemary, sage, and nettles.

Then I took a shower, because . . eeeeewwwwww.

I sent out a lot of LOIs on Friday – found an excellent market list of companies which interest me, researched them, and sent LOIs where appropriate.

A regular work-for-hire gig landed on my desk. But crunching the numbers – they want 15,000 words/week, but are only paying $400. That breaks down to 2c per word. 3000 words/day. In addition to that pay rate being appalling for the amount of work involved, at this point, until we are moved, I cannot imagine creating 3K/day. And I’m someone who regularly does 1-2.5K. Especially not for such low pay.

So that’s a pass.

The stimulus payments arrived; mine by check, my mom’s direct deposited – first time hers was a direct deposit. So that’s a relief.

Spent way too many hours in depressing rental listings. At least 45% of the ones showing up were scams, which was just so disheartening.

Finished one of the categories for the contest. Really, some delightful material.

Slept through the night Friday into Saturday for the first time in weeks.

Up early Saturday. Lots and lots of laundry. Took off the fleece sheets, washed them, packed them away until next winter. We’re back to flannel sheets, at least for this month. It’s still rather chilly most of the day.

Finished up the paperwork and the review of the winning entry in the category, and zipped the file.

Got out some LOIs. Hunted through more depressing rental listings.

Worked on packing. Worked on contest entries.

Didn’t sleep well Saturday into Sunday. Was awake by 2:30, worrying. My mom was sick Saturday night, which didn’t help.

Stumbled around Sunday, alternating between packing and working on contest entries. Some good stuff there.

Baked biscuits in the morning. Made chicken chow Mein from scratch for dinner.

Got depressed hunting through rental listings. Sent out more LOIs. Polished the paperwork for the category I finished judging.

It started raining in the late afternoon and was very windy. But we need the rain.

Celebrated the full moon.

Looking back at some of my favorite short stories that didn’t really work as a set of linked short stories, I think they might work better as novellas. Set in the same place, with some characters crisscrossing, but as stand-alone novellas. I don’t know when I can actually sit down and write them, but I’ll play with some ideas.

I’m not writing enough, other than marketing writing work, and it’s throwing the rest of me out of balance. But I feel like all my energy has to be focused on the move right now.

Was awake by 2:30 AM again Monday morning. Sent out some LOIs, looked at rental listings, sent out a few inquiries.

Had to send a couple of gentle nudges to interview sources for the article.  Looking for some additional sources, just in case.

I’m alarmed at the rise in local COVID cases, but not surprised at all. People are idiots. While it looks like we may have to move to a more populated area for at least the next year, I then want to go somewhere more unpopulated, so I can work remotely and avoid people.

Had to work onsite at a client’s yesterday. I was supposed to be on my own, but the other two showed up, and, once again, it was a battle to get them to follow basic COVID protocols. I’m getting sick of it. I’m tired of playing Russian Roulette with them.

It was busy and stressful, but I got a lot done, and I have a lot to get done remotely today before I have to go back in the office with them again tomorrow.

Came home and decontaminated. Was tempted to have a martini with lunch, but I had more work to do in the afternoon, so I didn’t.

Sent out more LOIs. Worked on contest entries. Worked on the article.

Had a depressing time looking at listings. I had a lovely exchange with a manager of an apartment complex in Hudson that’s lovely, but what she has is too small (and expensive for us). Still, I want to keep in touch. A house in Nashua that looked legit turned out to be yet another scam. There were about a dozen even more obvious scams I didn’t bother with, and way too much far out of our price range.

Leftovers for dinner, because I was too tired to cook. Watched some more DOC MARTIN.

At least I slept through the night, until Charlotte woke me around 4 AM. I have a big stack of client work today, along with a couple of errands, LOIs, article work, contest entries, looking for a home, and packing.

I’m trying to keep our spirits up, but it’s hard.

I didn’t get to send the information on the completed category yesterday, so that will go out tomorrow.

One step at a time, right?

Published in: on March 30, 2021 at 5:21 am  Comments Off on Tues. March 30, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 312 — Steep Climb  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,