Thurs. Oct. 20, 2022: An Interesting Mystery Dropped Into My Lap

image courtesy of Julia via pixabay.com

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Waning Moon

Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

A little cloudy and cold

The latest on the garden is up on Gratitude and Growth.

A piece on expanding the definition of freelancer is up over on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Yesterday was basically a day off writing and writing-related work. I blogged, took care of some email, did the social media rounds, noodled with the notes Paula gave me on my plays. They have to go out the door soon. I can’t waste any time.

But by mid- morning, we were out the door. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and it was absolutely beautiful to be out and about.

After the first errand, I had a feeling we should stop at the local thrift store. I’ve been looking for another jewelry box to stack on top of the ones I have, a magazine rack for the unread magazines before I file or pass on the read ones, and, of course, more bookcases. Always more bookcases.

All of those items were at this thrift store today, along with another glass chimney for the pillar candles. The magazine rack, in particular, is a piece I fell in love with. Maple, beautifully made.

All for a very low price.

Loaded the car and headed for another store that was between the thrift store and home, to pick up some basic supplies like project binders, divider sheets, and I found my great, big desk blotter calendar for sale at 1/3 of the price I’ve seen it elsewhere.

We unloaded everything at home, and then headed down to Pittsfield, where we had a series of stores on the list to visit. We batch shop when we go down there. The candle store, the kitchen store, the bookstore, etc. I’m almost finished with my personal journal book and had to buy a new one – the 5th journal book for this year. I also bought 4 books for next year, and they are gorgeous.

It was after 2 by the time we got home and unloaded. So I decided to give myself the day off script coverage. There hasn’t been much coming in, and my next piece isn’t due until Friday, so rather than pressuring myself, I gave myself the day off.

I cleaned and polished the jewelry box and the magazine rack. I found a maker’s mark on the magazine rack that said “George B. Bent, Gardner MA.” I did a quick look up and discovered the company was in business from 1946 to 1990, but little else except a note about a fire at some point.

I did a little more digging. Turns out Gardner was known as “Chair City” for its furniture making. There was also a furniture company called “S Bent” in business from 1867 to 2001.

George was the brother of the current “S” Bent when he started his own company.

There’s a play in there somewhere. I need to do more digging.

Anyway, researching the piece, I found a high-end furniture company selling a similar one for– $599. As in nearly six HUNDRED dollars. I did not pay that much at the thrift store. There’s another similar piece on eBay for $75. Still far more than I paid.

I found the Gardner Museum, and emailed them for more information. The was also a strong theatre community there at one point, and I want to know more about them, too.

I have a feeling there is a trip to Gardner in my future in the spring.

An old family friend got in touch in the afternoon. We have not seen her since pre-plague. She wondered if she could come up and visit tomorrow, and we said sure.

Which means I have to make up for all the work I didn’t get done yesterday AND work ahead to do everything for tomorrow. Plus make the food and clean the house.

That’s the way it goes sometimes. Good thing it was a light coverage week!

I finished unpacking the rest of the stuff we brought up from storage. I realized I forgot to buy a tarp and another rolly cart yesterday, but my mom said she didn’t see any rolly carts. We’ll deal.

My back is bothering me again, from all the hauling stuff around yesterday. I also have to check the paint/primer situation. The two bookcases still need some TLC, which includes new paint. I have to see if I have any, or need to buy it. I thought I had some primer, but I might have used it. Since it will be in the 60’s this weekend, I can paint.

I’m looking forward to meditation again. I have to make another trip to the grocery store. I decided I’ll make up another batch of black bean soup, and serve it with ciabatta. I know our friend loves my devilled eggs, so I’ll make some of that, and more mousse. Maybe lemon instead of chocolate? That might balance better with the eggs and the soup. Keep it simple, right?

And try not to hurt my back any more with the cleaning.

Have a good one!

The next episode of Legerdemain drops today. Direct link here. Enjoy!

Thurs. Sept. 23, 2021: Unnecessary Complications

image courtesy of Michael Gaida via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Waning Moon

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

Cloudy and humid

Yesterday was nowhere near as productive a day as I’d hoped. I got some work done in the morning, between script coverage and other small projects.

I’ve been invited to present next year at the Cape Cod Writers Conference. If it’s live, I’ll be down there for a weekend (it’s a paid gig, plus meals and accommodations). If it’s virtual, I’ll do it from here. Either way, it will be fun. Think of how much money they’d have saved all the years I lived right down the street from the conference center (they wouldn’t have had to pay accommodations). I have about a month to come up with what I want to teach. Their workshops are about rolling up the sleeves and writing in class, so I’m going to create or re-slant a workshop that focuses on the writing.

I started to put together the bookcases for the sewing room, only to discover that they weren’t properly prepped for assembly. Instead of being a single tall cabinet, they are built/broken down into two smaller units that need to be stacked and then fastened together. Only one of the units lacks the capacity to fasten it to the other.

So I took it all apart again and put it back in the box and tried to contact Target to arrange a return. Only Target tries to force phone calls. The claim to have a live chat option, but it kept going around in circles and not letting me enter. What they sent me was a “customer experience survey” which I filled out and gave them a zero.

I also dug out the email address from the corporate office that I used last year, when UPS lost a mail order. I contacted them, explained the situation, and asked for something in writing to allow me to return both boxes and get a refund. Because, you see, Target’s stated refund policy is that they only return goods in UNOPENED boxes.

One of the bookcases is in an unopened box. But there was no way I could have known that the bookcase was improperly prepared without opening and starting to assemble the one in the other box.

I heard back from the manager of the Target, who wanted to talk on the phone to “make it right.” What part of “I don’t do business on the phone” is so hard to comprehend? I told him, no, we were not talking on the phone, as I stated in the previous email, and that the only thing I wanted was to return both bookcases for a refund.

This morning, I got an email from him stating that I could.

Now, I lost 2 billable hours getting the damn bookcases in the first place; I lost 3 billable hours trying to put them together, and now I’ll lose at least another 2 billable hours returning them. That’s almost a full workday lost. But they’ll be returned, and I’ll head to Re-store to see if they have something that works that’s already an actual bookcase and not a bunch of shitty, overweight particle board that’s flimsy while being heavy.

Before anyone starts with “what do you expect from a cheap Target bookcase?” – the answer is I expect a cheap Target bookcase that will sit in the sewing room, not look too bad (I’d planned to embellish it), and hold the items I need it to hold for 2 years or so. I’m not looking for heirloom whatever. I wanted a simple bookcase to hold stuff. It shouldn’t be this much drama around it.

Because I lost three hours of worktime yesterday, I ended up working until 10:45 last night, not something I want to become a habit.

Autumn Equinox dinner was good: Cornish hen with apples and sage, sweet potatoes, spinach.

Simple Equinox ritual,

We’re having too much kitty drama, too, lately. On Cape, Tessa always stayed with me in my room and slept on my bed (since she was a kitten). Charlotte was shut out of my bedroom. In this place, Tessa doesn’t like my bedroom (no carpet, and I’m not unpacked yet) and doesn’t want to stay there. Besides, she likes to roam around at night. So Charlotte now sleeps on the bed with me.

But, by 4 AM, Tessa is hungry and lonely and starts howling. If we were still in the house, I’d let her howl and not get up until 5. But I can’t have her waking the neighbors. So, she gets what she wants, and I stagger up to feed her. But when I try to go back to bed, she starts howling again as soon as she finishes her breakfast. I move to the sofa and try to doze off again, and she’s fine.

She gets plenty of attention during the day, but she wants the day to start at 4 AM, and that’s too early for me. I’m fine with starting at 5. But 4 is too much.

Meditation was good this morning, and now I have to figure out how to get the heavy bookcases back down to the car and go back to Target. Urgh. I have a lot to do today, so I have a feeling it will be another day of work rolling well into the night.

I still haven’t gotten the paperwork sorted to switch over the car registration and our licenses. Since Mercury goes retrograde on Monday, that’s all going to be even more of a nightmare than it needs to be. Urgh. Again.

Well, nothing for it but to get to it.

The house on Cape has an offer pending on it. I’m sure my former landlord is relieved, and I hope whomever buys the place is very happy there.

Post about the garden over on Gratitude and Growth.

Onward.

Wed. Sept. 22, 2021: Autumn Equinox

image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Waning Moon

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

Autumn Equinox (Mabon) in the Northern Hemisphere

Cloudy, rainy, humid

Got some work done early, then headed out to Target to get a pair of white bookcases I need for the sewing room. Normally, I don’t like white anything, but these bookcases will flank the vanity table I’ve converted to a sewing table and hold fabric, sewing books, etc. I have to put them together, and that’s a project for the upcoming days.

What puzzled me was that two guys who worked at the store and helped me get the bookcases first into the cart and then into the car struggled with them. With one guy, I’m thinking, “Dude, I’m old enough to be your grandmother and I can handle them.” I didn’t say anything except, “Thank you.”

Handle the bookcases I did, getting them from the car and up to the stairs to the apartment BY MYSELF.

The afternoon was split with reading script coverage and a phone consultation with an ex-client. I’d worried about the conversation, but it went well. She basically needed an audience for decisions already made, although I pointed out some ethical elements she needs to add in.

Up early this morning, thanks to the cats. It’s the Autumn Equinox, and I’m busy with that, plus I have a lot of script coverage to write up.

And there’s Remote Chat later this afternoon, to which I look forward.

On the writing front, I had a decent first session on the novel, I’m doing research on a couple of pieces, and some world-building for another piece. Not much I can really talk about until I’m deeper in the process; while I don’t mind talking process, if I talk too much about what’s in draft, it loses creative energy. It’s one reason I don’t participate in social media games that ask too many questions about a WIP. That energy needs to be reserved for the actual writing. Speaking too much about a project publicly instead of writing it dilutes it.

Have a lovely Equinox!

Published in: on September 22, 2021 at 8:13 am  Comments (2)  
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Tues. Aug. 10, 2021: The Weekend Was a Lot About Books

image courtesy of Loubos Houska via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto. Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Cloudy, hot, humid

Pretty decent weekend.

The class I taught on Friday morning went well. I thoroughly enjoyed the students. They asked great questions, brought in strong material on which to work, and, for the spontaneous, timed exercise, rolled up their sleeves and dove right in. One student remarked that she hadn’t had the opportunity to write in a workshop situation since before Covid.

I’m glad the Center did everything via Zoom; much safer, especially with the virus numbers rising, and the Cape being a red zone again. It was great to participate from where I was (Berkshires) and have people participate from all over.

It was a two-hour class, and we took a 5-minute break at the half-way point. Administrators said I was the first instructor who suggested/allowed that. It made a huge difference; Zoom is tiring. Getting up to stretch for 5 minutes, walk around, do whatever, meant they could come back fresh with more questions and ready to work.

And they have a plethora of handouts to download from my website.

So it was all good.

After the class was done, I headed over to Wild Oats and spent more than I meant to, but it was all excellent stuff. I always get into interesting conversations with people there. And I’m officially a member-owner now, which is very exciting. Masking indoors is required once again, and that makes me feel more secure, too.

I relaxed in the afternoon, reading and resting. In the evening, I read another script. I’m behind on what I’d hoped to read this week (although still meeting all the deadlines).

Saturday was mostly spent unpacking boxes for my office and rearranging things. I moved some bookcases around, stacked others, Rearranged my books. Different books than I thought were coming up ended up coming up; they’re still useful, but it means rearranging things. I’d brought up my project books myself, and they are sorted, so I can dig into my projects.

I took a brief break for an hour to jump on the Writers’ Center Zoom for the keynote address, given by agent Tom Miller. He talked about trends and work and consolidation. He reinforced some of the points I’d made in my class the day before on what makes a good memoir (not knowing what I’d said). And yet, there were still people who were trying to get him to give them shortcuts to getting published. There are no substitutions for doing the work.

It was too hot to walk anywhere in the afternoon, so I just rested, and then wrote up the script coverage. I’d hoped to go over to The Spruces, but it was too muggy.

Sunday morning, I unpacked the boxes of books in my bedroom, and figured out how to distribute most of them. I’m going to need a bookcase in my bedroom at some point. I just don’t know where I can fit it.

I took a walk to downtown to the new bookshop that’s opened, Bear & Bee. It’s a really fun, mellow place with a great selection of the owners’ favorite books. I bought one of Marion Nestle’s books on food (I attended a virtual seminar with her via NYU Alumni a few months back), and a mystery by a writer I’ve known for years, but don’t have that particular book. Had a great conversation with one of the owners, and plan to give them as much business as I can afford.

It wasn’t that long a walk, only about 3 miles roundtrip, but the heat and humidity did me in, so I rested in the afternoon. That’s what I need most right now: rest.

I should have read a script, but needed a whole day off from coverage. That meant I had to read and write up a script yesterday (I like to read one day, write the next so that I can think about it).

I was contacted by two editors with whom I’ve worked before: one for article pitches for his publication, the other for his newest anthology. I’ll percolate on them both and see if I can come up with something worthwhile. I’ve also got a talk scheduled with a potential new client for Thursday afternoon. So that’s all good.

Went over to the academic library and got set up with my username and password, so I can access the catalogue from home. Found a couple of books – not for the project on which I was hunting, but for something else.  Dropped off the books at home, picked up the other library books, took them to the public library to switch them out. Being able to take out only 2 books at a time for the 3-month probation period sucks. But, I’m smiling and not fussing. Except here on the blog.

Masks are required again, rather than requested. No one’s fussing. Everyone’s just doing it.

After the library, I put gas in the car. Ran into the landlord, and he showed me the renovations in the house next door, which are beautiful. The new tenants will move into that on the 15th. AND I got to play with a neighborhood puppy!

Home, read a script, wrote it up, caught up on some email. Read a second script at night, although I won’t write it up until tonight or tomorrow.

Writing in longhand on the book every morning means steady progress, and a positive start to my day. I’m irritated because I couldn’t do it this morning, and worried that I’ll lose the momentum I’ve gained.

I’m out and about today, so have fun, stay safe, and MASK UP!!!

Published in: on August 10, 2021 at 7:20 am  Comments Off on Tues. Aug. 10, 2021: The Weekend Was a Lot About Books  
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

There’s a picture of the witch hazel over on Gratitude and Growth. I can’t find one of the huckleberry, so I have to take another one, and put it up next week.

I fixed the lawnmower. My own little self. With some advice from a neighbor, but I did the work. I ran into my neighbor, who’s a professional landscaper. He agreed that this brand totally sucks. He told me that the company used to be fantastic, absolute top-of-the line quality, but the last three years, it’s gone way downhill, for whatever reason. Customer service is awful, and they often don’t stand by their warranties (a check on the consumer affairs website confirmed that). He suggested a few things I could try, because it seems that a lot of these machines are rolling out without some of the adjustments that used to be automatically set, and if I needed him to, he’d take a look at the end of his workday. He used to use this brand for years until last year, when he replaced all his equipment of that brand because he got sick of the company’s b.s. So he gave me a list of tricks and adjustments he developed over the last few years when there were problems and he didn’t have time to fight with customer service. He said I should try one at a time, because the next time something goes wrong, I can try one of the others. And that I was lucky the bolts weren’t falling off (which, according to him, has been happening a lot on several of their products over the last year).

My choices were to pay someone to haul the lawnmower to the service place and back and pay for the adjustment, or learn how to do the adjustment myself.

So I tried the first adjustment, plus a little of “I wonder what would happen if I do THIS” of my own, the mower started right up, and then I was afraid if I let go of the lever that makes it stop, I’d never get it started again, so I did the whole front yard. It did start again, so I did the terraced back, and I’ll do the meadow over the weekend, if the weather holds.

I’d driven over to Wareham to get more buckets and some spray paint, and also gotten a great pair of edging grass shears from Target, so I edged the front beds, too. I pulled some of the big pots to the front (the echinacea and the yarrow), and planted the urn with lobelia seeds. Hopefully, they’ll come up. If not, I’ll get a bunch of annuals & stick ‘em in. I put some poppies in the terraced bed.

That was all I could do. I was worn out. Because even the bits of the property that look flat aren’t, it’s physically difficult for me to maneuver the mower, especially in the back, where there’s a lot of weird slopage going on. It’s not a big mower, but I’m not physically used to it yet, and I have to develop the strength to handle it properly. I’m still missing a lot of the strength I lost during the back injury time. But at least it waits for me, instead of running off without me, so I’ll be grateful for whatever I can. The landscaper neighbor told me that if I hired someone to do this property, they’d have to bring in three guys. Well, it’s all up to me, so I just have to spread the work over three DAYS! 😉

I’ve got three 30 gallon bags of grass clippings just from the day’s mow. Yes, I’m careful to check and empty the bag regularly, so it doesn’t get all clogged. And I clean all the bits and bobs on the list after every usage. But 90 gallons of grass clippings? That’s how big the damn yard is. And I’ve got more than that in the meadow. I wish I knew how much acreage it is. I mean, it’s certainly not farm-sized or huge-huge, but it’s a good-sized lot for the house (thank goodness).

I’m also grateful not to suffer from grass or pollen allergies.

I doubt I’ll ever find my mowing Zen, but as long as I can get it done with minimal damage, I’ll be content. And, I managed to avoid a clump of buttercups and the little rose that’s valiantly trying to survive all on its own.

Before all that, I’d driven over to the next town and wrestled the bookcases into the car. I managed to get three bookcases in two trips. The two big ones are the same size as my big oak bookcases in the writing room(six feet tall, about 2 feet wide), but a darker stain. I was grateful to have one of the bulkhead things that opens out, so I could get them into the basement easily. Of course, I had to drag them all the way around the house to get them to the bulkhead, but they slid well on the grass, they fit, and they’re in much better shape than I expected. The small white bookcase will be repainted blue (hence the trip to Wareham) and eventually go on the deck for plants and stuff I don’t want to keep hauling in and out of the house all the time. It’s not in very good shape, and has lived a lot outside, but a fresh coat of paint will make it fine for what I need. And the whole “free” part worked really well.

Today is the Preakness. This race has grown into my favorite of the three Triple Crown races because at this point, there’s still so much possibility. And the undercard is very good. I’m hoping that Animal Kingdom hits it again, so there’s a shot at a Triple Crown, but I’m going back to Dialed In again and Mucho Macho Man. I’ll probably toss some money on Midnight Interlude because his sire is War Chant, one of my favorites. There’s a horse called Astrology ridden by Mike Smith that I’m looking at, and Dance City is such a gorgeous horse that if he looks good, I might just have to toss a few bucks at him.

Tomorrow, I wind up one workshop, and Monday, I start teaching another.

Oh, and get this: I was working away on SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and went back to check on something in a previous chapter, because I couldn’t remember what triggered the event later. Turns out I haven’t written the chapter yet! I have the chapter title, the page number, etc., all saved in a document, when I was rearranging the chapters and adding in those from Rufus’s POV, but I never actually wrote that one chapter. I skipped it to work on other stuff. No wonder what I tried to write now didn’t make ANY sense!

Groan.

Got a nice email from my new editor at Confidential Job #1. So that’s on its way to being sorted out.

I got to use the first thyme from my garden in my cooking last night. What a difference it makes — not just in taste, but in enjoyment of “I grew this.”

Have a great weekend, all!

Devon

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Foggy and cool

Yesterday was an up-and-down day. On the “up” side, I bought a witch hazel shrub. It’s gorgeous, they are hard to find (I was told by 12 people I’d never find one in the area and would pay a couple of hundred dollars to get one shipped, which I just couldn’t afford). It was more than I planned to spend, so I was going to pass, and the guy at the nursery gave me a 25% discount, which then put it within my budget. So it came home with me and is happily sitting on the deck.

On the downside of that, they said there’s nothing I can do to save the lilac. One can’t start new lilacs from cuttings (or, in this case, breakage). I’d have to dig down and separate some of the new growth from the roots.

Well, the Lilac Limb, for the moment, seems perfectly happy sitting in a bucket of water, so I’m just going to leave it there as long as it is and see what happens.

Then, the infuriating: There was a break in the weather, and it was dry for a few hours. I went to mow the lawn and the effing mower doesn’t work. After ONE usage. That is not acceptable. I bought a Poulon Pro because I was told that it is easy to use and reliable. So far, it is neither. Not only is it hell to start, it won’t stay started — after 5 feet, the motor stops. I’ve got a frigging prairie growing out here, and I can’t cut it. I can’t afford another lawnmower. I can’t afford to hire someone to cut the grass (which is not cheap around here). This piece of garbage should work more than once.

I called Poulon Pro, since their “manual” is completely useless. The first “customer service rep” hung up on me. The second one said it was covered by warranty (from the tone, I guess these pieces of crap break down like this a lot), and told me I had to take it to a place in Marstons Mills. How? I have a VW!!! She made it clear that wasn’t her problem. Actually, it is. She’s the customer service REPRESENTATIVE. She REPRESENTS the company — obviously, this is the type of company they are, since they sell things that only work once, so her lack of interest reflects the company’s — and it is her job to help solve problems, not shrug and go away. Her hating her job is not MY problem. Her not doing her job properly is both my problem and her boss’s. And believe me, her bosses, the BBB, and the appropriate state agencies are all going to know about it. I’m going to talk to the “authorized service” guy and see what a house call costs. First, though, I’m going to ask a neighbor with lawn mower experience to take a look at it.

I should have gone with my initial instincts and gotten the really old-fashioned push mower with no electronics, just blades, like my grandmother had. All I’d have to do is get the blades sharpened once a year. It would have been a pain to rake up the grass, but at least the damn thing would work.

Not acceptable on any level. I was so furious, I couldn’t sleep last night.

Call me crazy, but when I spend a chunk of money on something, I expect it to work. To me, that is part of the contract with the manufacturer — I put down money and the manufacturer supplies me a working whatever.

This morning, I’m off (to Marstons Mills again) to pick up three bookcases I’m supposedly getting for free on craigslist. Let’s hope they fit in the car! 😉

Winding up my class, preparing for the next one. Working on PR for the book release. Not getting enough writing done. Behind on the assignment for Confidential Job #1.

On a happier note, I was on the phone brainstorming with a friend, which was fun.

To the page for a little bit, until I have to get into the car and wrestle bookcases. They’re supposed to be in so-so condition, so I’m getting them as shelving for the basement, so I can do some more unpacking. I unpacked a couple more boxes from the storage room yesterday. I can get going on the basement boxes once there’s more shelving, so that, as I go through stuff and repack what I’m keeping, I have a place to put it.

Devon

Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 6:02 am  Comments (6)  
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