Wed. Dec. 22, 2021: Recovering From a Mac & Cheese Coma

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Waning Moon

Chiron Direct (as of 12/21)

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Rainy and raw

image courtesy of SocialButterflyMMG via pixabay.com

Usually, Tuesday is the long post. This week, it’s Wednesday, because yesterday was the Winter Solstice, my big holiday, and I decided to enjoy my holiday.

So today’s our day to sit down and have a catching up natter.

Friday was a beautiful day, weather-wise. A little windy, but warm enough to keep the door from the porch into the house open.

I drafted the first half of the Marie Collier play, and then walked down to the post office to mail some letters, and picked up wine on my way back. It was lovely to enjoy the good weather, knowing that a storm was coming in.

Went through some jewelry of mine, looking for something specific, a certain type of chain that I want to use for a talisman necklace I’m making. Couldn’t find it, so I’ll keep looking in thrift stores. There’s no deadline. I’d rather wait and get the right thing than any old thing.

The last charm for the talisman necklace arrived, along with another pieced I’d ordered, from An Enchanted Creature, on ETSY. I’d had a good experience ordering before. I hadn’t expected these pieces to arrive until the 27th of December, so it was a pleasant surprise to get them a full 10 days earlier.

Saturday was supposed to snow all day, so that’s how I planned. They were out in force in the morning, sanding streets and sidewalks, which is a good thing. The sky made a few half-hearted attempts with some snowflakes in the morning, but it wasn’t until lunchtime that it got serious about it. But it only snowed for a couple of hours before it switched over to rain.

We put up the rest of the ornaments on the tree, and put up the Santas on a shelf unit we moved into the front hall. They don’t look right there.

Did some reading, diving back into the Dorothy Parker/Dawn Powell research, so I can finish the third and final play of the year.

Sunday was a gray, gloomy day. We moved the Santa collection into the living room, rearranging a few things, and it looks better there. Plus, we can enjoy it.

I finished the draft of the Marie Corelli play. It took some fun turns, and all four characters are for actresses over 40. It can sit for a few days before revision, and I’ll get it out before the end of the week (today or tomorrow, most likely).

The fruit peel arrived, from Fleet Farm! That was quick. I didn’t expect it until around New Year’s. So there will be stollen for Christmas. I’ll make it either today or tomorrow.

I made the molasses spice cookies. Wound up being around 10 dozen molasses spice, which I did not expect. I also used one of the packs of fruit peel to make fruitcake cookies, which turned out well, and are a nice contrast to the other cookies on the platter.

I’m going to make the apricot sage cookies for us, a small batch, to test them. If they work, and I can make enough of them quickly, I’ll add them in to the platters next year.

Was too tired to cook, so ordered Chinese from the local place, and watched DoorDash drive it the six blocks over. It’s just far enough that it’s too far for me to walk and keep it hot.

The food was good. We put on the lights and candles and enjoyed the Fourth of Advent.

With Venus going retrograde, I’m trying to be quiet and careful. We’ve got the “bonecrusher” square, which I do not have the energy to deal with this week. Uranus is still retrograde. And then Mercury goes retrograde early in February. So basically, from now until February 3, I want to stay as quiet and hermit-like as possible.

Monday morning, I got up to discover that some of the battery-operated candles in the windows had turned themselves back on overnight.

Around here, the post office does an early morning package delivery run, about 7 AM. Two packages were dropped off: one from a friend (the one that had gone from NYC to Puerto Rico to Akron), and the next two books for review.

Tessa was fascinated by the packages. Willa was more interested in the postman. Charlotte ran around in circles at the top of the stairs. It was a very exciting start to their day.

I struggled to clear the ice off the car, and then we headed to the RMV to update the car registration and our licenses. I had been going back and forth about the appointment with the main RMV administration; they kept saying that we could not do it in one appointment, we could not go together (my mom is 97, it’s not like she can do this on her own), and so on and so forth.

We showed up for the appointment. Everyone was very nice. We got everything done. We don’t even need to get a new registration document, since it’s all updated in the system. When the registration has to be renewed next year, the right info will be there. Instead of issuing us new physical licenses, they told us to write the new address on the back; it’s in the system, and since it’s a real ID, no problem.

So all that stress was for nothing.

But I’m grateful they were so helpful, and that it’s done.

Then, it was off to CVS and to Big Y, to get the rest of what I needed for the Solstice dinner, Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day dinner. Got everything I needed.

We made it home. There are still dashboard lights going on that need to be dealt with. I’m going to contact the garage in Williamstown next week to see if I can get an appointment the first week of the new year.

I realized I’d forgotten a couple of errands, so headed back out on foot to the post office and the bank.

By then, I was wiped out, as much from stress as anything else.

But I rallied, in the late afternoon, to do the script coverage.

Slept in on Tuesday morning. It was Winter Solstice. Chocolate panettone for breakfast, which was fun. I prepped two cookie platters for the libraries, and delivered them on foot: one across the street, to the college library, and one down the street to the public library. I’d sealed each cookie separately in a cookie sleeve, for maximum safety so the platter could be out in the break room, and people could sort through cookies to find what they like.

Both libraries were delighted.

The weather was gorgeous, and it was nice to be out, knowing that storms are coming in for the next few weeks. The weather is so changeable here.

Came home, finished up some script coverage I hadn’t finished the previous day. Changed from flannel sheets to fleece sheets.

Prepped the cookie platters for the neighbors and delivered them. They were pleased.

This year’s platters have chocolate chip cookies, orange cranberry cookies, currant oatmeal cookies, molasses spice cookies, and fruitcake cookies. It’s a nice variety.

Baked the honey spice cake. It was a little underbaked, even though the toothpick put in the center came up clear. It’s still good, but I wanted great. Maybe I should have put a chocolate silk glaze over it. Because chocolate can fix almost anything.

For dinner, I made Moosewood’s recipe for macaroni and cheese, from scratch. I cheated a little and added bacon into the mac & cheese. But it was a lot of dairy. The cheese sauce had four cups of milk and 10 oz. of various cheddars; there were breadcrumbs and then more cheddar over it, before it was baked. It’s really good, and we have a lot of leftovers, but it’s a lot of dairy.

Did the Solstice ritual of waiting for it to get dark, then, starting in the north, lighting all the candles and holiday lights, clockwise around the house, until it’s all lit up with candles and twinkle lights. I spilled red wax on the white windowsill in the kitchen – that will be not much fun to fix. But it was so pretty, and we sat without electric lights on (except for the holiday twinkle lights) all evening.

Since we no longer have a working fireplace, I took the big cauldron out on the back balcony and burned last year’s greens, slowly, one small branch at a time, so I wouldn’t worry the neighbors. It was a good way to let last year, and the Cape life, go.

Left the battery-operated candles on all night, to light the longest night of the year.

I was up earlier than Tessa this morning! I couldn’t find her and was frantic. She was still asleep, in her favorite red chair with Panda, and was very confused as to why I was awake before she was. The fleece sheets were too hot. I kept kicking off the covers in the night. Quite a difference from the other house, where upstairs was never warm after about September, no matter how high the heat was cranked.

The plan was to go to the laundromat, but it was raining, so I decided not to. I’ll go tomorrow or next week.

I’m going to do some work on the Big Project, and maybe THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. Then, I have to polish the Marie Corelli play and get it out the door. Then, it’s more script coverage. I have coverage work today and tomorrow, and then I’m off until Monday, and I hope next week will be a light week, coverage-wise. I want to dig into The Big Project and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

I also want to finish up a bunch of admin work before the end of the year.

I’m preparing to hunker down for the winter, only going to the grocery store, the post office, and the library, both due to weather and the pandemic. I’m frustrated that the Dems aren’t doing what needs to be done to curb the pandemic, or the right-wing extremists. People worked like crazy during a pandemic to get them elected. They need to deliver. No matter what corporate sellouts like Manchin and Sinema do.

Anyway, I have to get back to the page and get some work done. Books don’t write themselves, and I still have a living to earn.

Have a good one!

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.