Tues. Sept. 29, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 132 — Furnace

image courtesy of dimitrisvetsikas1969 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Saturn goes DIRECT

Foggy and humid

I am deeply annoyed that, for the last two weeks, when I schedule posts for Monday, for intent, they don’t publish until Tuesday. I double check them. I’m sick of Word Press making things worse every time they “upgrade.”

Saturn going direct is going to take some pressure off, but Mars still interferes way too much. And, as Saturn is turning direct, it squares the Mars retrograde, which means stress.

One of the fun little things I found cleaning out was a pair of DKNY Absolut Vodka gloves. They’re tiny – just fit the hands, don’t go down over the wrists. Navy blue knit with pink logo. I must have worked some event in NYC during my production days and they were in the swag bag.

I am enraged that Breonna Taylor’s murderers face no consequences. And to all of those saying we shouldn’t protest? We’ll stop protesting when the government stops murdering its citizens – through ignoring the pandemic, through police violence, through refusing to deal with domestic terrorists, through economic, social, and racial inequality.

The first part of the weekend was a lot about socks. I FOUND that big box of socks for which I was looking. And it was even larger than I remembered – a WB Mason box, not a banker’s box.

Washed all those socks and tried to pair. I only got about 30 pairs out of the whole thing – and have about 100 orphan socks. I’m sure more orphan socks will turn up as I keep cleaning out, and those left, the true orphan socks – a Twitter pal said they make good craft projects for puppets, etc., and gave me some ideas. As soon as organizations feel its safe to accept donations, I will do so.

It was hot and humid all weekend, here at the end of September. Almost what used to be called “Indian Summer” but damper.

Sunday is best not talked about. It was a difficult day on the personal front, and not appropriate for me to air publicly. But it will resonate for a long, long time, and certainly didn’t make me feel more optimistic about anything.

The cats know I’m upset, and they worry, especially Charlotte and Willa. I keep trying to reassure them that nothing bad will happen to them, none of this will hurt them, but they remain unconvinced.

Read another of the books on the series I keep waffling about. This one I liked. It feels like it’s moving back into positive territory again.

Also re-read Louise Penny’s A TRICK OF THE LIGHT. That was the first Gamache book I ever read, and is still one of my favorites.

Got a bit of writing done, but not enough.  Having Sunday all day in turmoil set me back even further.

Monday, up early and out to the client’s. I was onsite on my own for most of it, which is as it should be, just overlapping for a bit (as safely as possible) with a colleague to make sure we were both on the same page with a few things, and not doubling the work.

Risked hopping over to Barnes & Noble in person. I got my first three journal books for the year (the private journal) there, matching this year, and need a fourth. They were sold out of what I had, but I found one that’s a close match and also looks a little holiday-ish, so that will work. And bought the first two books for next year – they didn’t have four matching books, so I’ll deal – something more fantastical, because I want next year to be filled with the fantastic, the magical, the wonderful.

Even if the bulk of it is spent at home.

In fact, it will be more magical if I spend the bulk of it at home.

Wherever home may be next year, since everything is being turned into short-term rentals in Barnstable, and those who can’t buy are screwed.

Anyway, the clerk told me that the principal of Barnstable High School was put on leave because he “wouldn’t let students read any books by white people” which sounds like she must have gotten it wrong. Expanding the curriculum to include diverse voices isn’t not letting students read books by white authors. Also, the principal can’t dictate what they read on their own time. So it sounds like she’s being a racist, but who knows? The Cape Cod papers all just said he was “on leave” and the announcement didn’t give a reason. Heaven forbid reporters should actually hunt down information around here. But the clerk told me that supposedly the Cape Cod Times will have a big piece in today’s paper all about the scandal. Of course, if it’s in the Cape Cod Times, which is owned by a “media group” and has gotten more and more right-wing over the years, why would I trust it? An acquaintance complains it’s gotten “too far left” – left of WHAT, exactly? It hasn’t been any more than an overpriced ad sheet with a few bits and pieces about friends of the “reporters” for years.

I’ll look it up and see what they have to say, and then see if there are any other stories on it, by organizations that aren’t controlled by the right. Which, on Cape Cod, is next to impossible to find at this point.

I swung by CVS to pick up my mom’s prescription. Home, decontaminated, and was exhausted.

Then got an email from the landlord. The landlord contacted me on Friday to let me know that the furnace people wanted to come by this afternoon to “take a look” to see what they needed for the new furnace. Which makes no sense, since they spent a couple of hours doing just that back in January, mansplaining and chatting when it could have been done in a half hour or less. Didn’t they take notes? Or were they too busy chatting?

I emailed the company back, cc’ing the landlord, stating Tuesday afternoon was fine, but I needed a time, and anyone entering the house must be masked, or they weren’t coming in.

No response.

Sunday afternoon, I got an email from the landlord, saying he heard from the furnace company that they were coming on Monday. I said they were not; they couldn’t just announce they were showing up. If they wanted to come in the afternoon, they could GET IN TOUCH WITH A TIME.

Nothing.

Yesterday morning, I got an email from the landlord stating that the furnace company had apologized to him for the confusion and the guy would be here today to look around “sometime after 2 PM” – which is just way too fucking vague. I’m supposed to sit around all afternoon and wait?

Talk about the shadow of the upcoming Mercury retrograde already being there.

Yesterday afternoon, I got an email from the landlord saying he heard from the owner of the company, and they have the furnace and want to start the installation today. It’ll take two days, and the heat has to be off, but it’s warm, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

While I don’t like all this last-minute crap and the fact that they refuse to deal WITH ME – and it’s not because I’m the tenant, it’s because I’m a woman, and this is all a club of Old White Men – I’m delighted that it will all get done in these two days, while it is mild, and not prolonged.

They are NOT doing the promised insulation, just switching out the furnace.

I cleaned out the furnace room, to give them space to work. There are still a lot of the empty boxes I’ve been stockpiling in anticipation of moving, but everything else has been cleared out. Swept the floors, gave the laundry table a good scrub. 

I have to clean the bulkhead doors this morning and oil the bulkhead doors. It was pouring down rain yesterday afternoon, and I wasn’t going to let it rain into the basement.

I have a case of water on the laundry table, and I deep cleaned the downstairs bathroom and have rearranged it for their use with liquid soap (lavender, but hey) and paper towels.

The cats will be upstairs in their playpens, and my mom will be up there keeping them company.

Everyone better be masked, because I’m not compromising on that.

Let’s get this done.

I’m not watching tonight’s debate. It will just make me sick to see the Narcissistic Sociopath prancing around up there.

It’s no surprise he’s broke and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. Anyone who dealt with him in NY knows he never paid for anything, just used other people’s money. The whole thing is revolting.

I’m going to do the homework group with my Knowledge Unicorns, finish reading Rachel Caine’s INK AND BONE, and try to get some rest.

This morning, once I’ve cleaned and oiled the bulkhead, I will try to get in some client work before they arrive.

The chaos of the next two days is worth it. If we have a new, working, efficient furnace.

Peace, friends, and catch up with you tomorrow.

Wed. April 8: Lost Weekend — Writing, Not Liquor!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Waning Moon
Jupiter DIRECT
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Busy few days. Thursday and Friday were rough at work. Less said, the better. Really frustrated with the group that bought the CAPE COD TIMES newspaper. Not only did they dump all the calendar entries for April’s programs that took me several hours to load — and they dumped them AFTER they’d confirmed them — now, every calendar entry has to be approved by someone sitting in an office in Tennessee. That is simply not acceptable. Someone in Tennessee should not have the authority to approve or refuse a calendar entry about a local event on Cape Cod. Who ever is sitting there probably has never even visited, much less has any idea what’s important to residents. It’s WRONG on so many levels. Local calendar entries for the newspaper need to be handled LOCALLY.

So, I had to lose more hours re-entering everything into a new system, and now I have to wait for approval. From Tennessee. Especially with these crap “religious freedom” laws (which are, in actuality, laws to allow bigotry and discrimination to anyone the passers deem they want to discriminate against), it makes even less sense. If someone in the TN office decides a Cape Cod program is “against” his so-called “religious beliefs”, does that give him the right to refuse publication?

Finished watching the second season of MISS FISHER over the weekend. The energy and pace were off in a few of the early episodes, and then it picked up steam again as the season progressed. Read the first three books, too. Very different from the series. Since each is a completely different format, each works in its own way. The Phryne-Jack relationship is vital to the series, as is the Dot-Hugh relationship, in a way that isn’t in the books (Hugh isn’t even in the three I’ve read so far). Those relationships are what connect the viewer and make the episodes work within the time framework of each one, whereas the prose canvas is broader, and there’s more room for the other elements. Very interesting to see the differences, and how each works in its own format.

Scriptwriting isn’t “just dialogue” as so many prose writers who want to adapt their novels think. Scriptwriting is visual storytelling. Yes, dialogue is important, but so is choosing what the audience sees, and putting it on the page in such a way that the director and the creative team can fulfill the vision, without dictating every detail.
It’s a completely different way of telling the story.

Worked through quite a few contest entries. The disparity between what works and what doesn’t is far larger this year than in previous years. I finished all the print entries in one of the categories (I still have a few on Kindle), and I’m diving into the second category. The third category has only a few entries, so that won’t take long.

Watched THE IMITATION GAME over the weekend. It was well done, but Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance was a little too mannered for me. I like his intensity, I like his work, but he rarely surprises me any more. Keira Knightley was terrific. Also watched INTO THE WOODS. I’m a big Sondheim fan, and I loved the Broadway production. This one was clever, but I still think it works better on stage than on screen. Meryl Streep was wonderful. The actors playing Jack and Red Riding Hood reminded me of typical Broadway belter kids. There were lots of great moments by everyone throughout, although I thought Johnny Depp’s work was too close to his work in both ALICE IN WONDERLAND and WILLIE WONKA.

We got news of the death of a family member in Europe. It wasn’t someone I knew well, but it still leaves a hole, and there’s paperwork, and lots of other things to take care of.

Sunday was Easter. Since it didn’t rain, I did quite a bit of yard work. Not that it’s visible yet. There’s still plenty more to do. Monday it was supposed to rain, but didn’t, so I did even more yard work, including starting to clean out the front beds. There’s a little progress there, but I still have a lot more work to do, and I can’t do any of it until next weekend. Took a carload full of leaf bags to the dump. Replanted all eighteen heads of lettuce and six Brussels sprout plants. Started two kinds of tomato seeds, borage, feverfew, basil, parsley, and bok choy. Moved some of the potted trees and shrubs out of the garage and back onto the deck.

Tuesday, I was supposed to do taxes and finish the microfilm reels. Instead, I wrote a 5691 draft of a new short story. I have two short stories due at the end of the month. I’d been thinking, percolating, on some ideas, and this one burst forth. I thought I was only going to write 1 or 2K, but I was on a roll, and just kept going. Wrote the whole first draft in one day (practically one sitting, although I got up to pace and mutter fairly frequently).

It felt good, I got to figure out some stuff that was bothering me, and push it to its ridiculous limits and enjoy it. I like the characters, I like the premise. It’s 691 words above the limit, so there’s some serious cutting in its future. Either that, or I need to expand it by about 2K for a different market, and that leaves me still having to write two stories by the end of the month. So I’ll try to cut first. There’s a little too much of my Freudian slip showing in this one, so I’ll have to smooth this out. Great to have catharsis in writing, but therapy is not interesting to readers. Time to cut the navel-gazing and layer in the craft.

Far too many “writers”, when faced with a word count limit (especially in class assignments), ignore it. When called out about it, they go, “ha, ha, ha, I had too much story to fit.” Well, bunny boo, the limit is the limit. Either cut it down to fit, OR WRITE ANOTHER DAMN STORY THAT DOES. It’s called “craft.”

I was exhausted and out of words by the end of the day, although the next story is poking up from the subconscious to the conscious. I’m worried that, if I start it, I’ll lose all track of everything again.

Because, last night, I screwed up. I was supposed to attend a town meeting having to do with changes in parking and sidewalks that will adversely affect the library. I looked at the clock and had plenty of time. I started to do “one more thing.” The next time I looked at the clock, it was 9 PM, and I’m sure the meeting was winding up. I tried to justify it by reminding myself that it was my day off, and I put in far too many hours above and beyond my scheduled work time, but I still felt badly. There’s no excuse, no matter how I try to make myself feel better. I should have been there, and I wasn’t.

I had odd dreams all weekend. One night, I dreamed I moved back to San Francisco. Another night, I dreamed about genealogy. I don’t know WHOSE genealogy I was working on — it sure wasn’t my own family’s.

The upcoming week will be stressful, as will next week. Today is a basic, long workday. Tomorrow is pretty basic, with tango at night. Friday, I have a Chamber breakfast in Hyannis before work, then the work day, then a program that will probably last until 10 PM. I have to be in first thing on Saturday, and then there’s another program on Saturday afternoon, so I’m pulling a 10-5 day instead of a 10-2 day. I have Sunday and Monday to finish taxes and microfilm. Tuesday, I have a meeting in the afternoon (where I’m there for two different organizations), and then a program at the library at night. A week from today is another big program at the library, and so on and so forth.

I was up at 5:30 this morning, because I have so much to do before I go to work, including paperwork that has to go off to Germany. Somewhere in all this, I have to figure out where I’m going to bake and prepare “the light refreshments” we’re serving Saturday afternoon.

Thirty-two days until my vacation. I desperately need it. BEFORE that, I have to finish the contest entries, two stories, do the final edit on the radio play, and get it out. Plus all the programs at work. Plus put together some materials for the Marine Life Center.

It’s a busy month.

Devon

Published in: on April 8, 2015 at 9:37 am  Comments Off on Wed. April 8: Lost Weekend — Writing, Not Liquor!  
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Wed. June 18, 2014: Ron MacLean, Josh Radnor, Writing, Reading

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and humid

Busy day yesterday. Wrote in the morning. Went to the library to check email, send email, send out my episode due, and go down the list of things that needed to get done online.

Came back. Baked banana mini-muffins and orange-cranberry mini-muffins. Wrote. Put together the dishes, the books, and all the rest I need for this morning’s program.

Sorted through some research books. Pulled what I need; will take the rest back.

Cooked dinner — slowly, slowly, I’m getting back on solid food again. I still feel awful most of the time, but at least I’m eating.

The NMLC press conference started to pay off — THE CAPE COD TIMES ran a nice article on the Marine Life Center, in both the print and online editions. Hopefully, that will get us some attention and some public support. With pictures of adorable Belmont, Barclay, and Rose, how could it not? They’re just precious. The three remaining Kemp’s Ridley turtles are also well enough to be released in Maryland this weekend.

I got my cover for ELUSIVE PRAYERS. It’s good, but it’s very different than I imagined, so I have to get used to it. Will do a cover reveal soon. I’m putting together a sell sheet for the event on the 28th, and in general.

Today, author Ron MacLean will be at the library, talking about his book HEADLONG. I loved the book — it’s a spectacular contemporary social justice thriller. If you get a chance to read it, do so.

In the meantime, I still need to write for at least an hour before I eat and haul my bags and bags of stuff to the library.

I have some ideas to market TRACKING MEDUSA — I need to get those sorted out, along with marketing for the digital shorts. The press release on the summer releases is here.

I have to get the galleys for “Severance” turned around tonight, and the first round of edits for “Elusive Prayers” is also on my desk.

I finished reading a terrific science fiction novel last night, too: FORTUNE’S PAWN, by Rachel Bach. Absolutely loved it. Original, fast-paced, terrific characters. I can’t wait to read the rest of her work, and what she writes under Rachel Aaron.

I watched happythankyoumoreplease, another film by Josh Radnor, last night and really liked it. He’s such a confident filmmaker, and I admire that.

Lots to do, but it’s good, happy stuff. Still haven’t finished mowing my lawn — maybe I can get a few rows done on the meadow when I come home tonight. Although, knowing me, all I’ll want to do is relax with a nice glass of wine!

Have a great day, people!

Devon

Tues. May 13, 2014: Edits and New Episodes

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Day before Full Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Busy day. The renter inspection (which the town does every year to make sure the landlords aren’t slumlords and the tenants aren’t letting too many friends and relatives live in unsafe conditions and all the smoke detectors/CO detectors are working) was supposed to happen yesterday, and the inspector never showed up and it was a frustrating morning. We got it sorted, and now he’s supposed to be here today. Once he actually shows up, it’s usually straightforward — we have a great landlord, and we’re doing what we should be). But it interrupts the day.

I still managed to get some work done on the Big Script Project and turn around my next round of edits on TRACKING MEDUSA, which was fun, although Track Changes was giving me fits, and it took longer than it should have. Also, I got about a third of the Series Bible done. I need that fully in place before I can go back to BALTHAZAAR. And then I have to finish the media kit and update a web page for this series and load in all the fun additions I have that go with the book.

Also managed to bake and frost a cake for the meeting.

Headed to NMLC for Mermaid Ball meeting, and then went over to a friend’s to chat and catch up. It was 11 PM by the time I got back, but driving under a full moon is always easier.

Up early this morning, out with Tessa for the first cup of coffee and meditation on the deck.

Today will be all about the Big Script Project, and finishing up some correspondence that needs to be dealt with. I also have to run out and get a copy of today’s CAPE COD TIMES — there’s supposed to be an article on Belmont, our baby seal in rehab!

Off we go.

Devon

Published in: on May 13, 2014 at 6:41 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 13, 2014: Edits and New Episodes  
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Mon. Nov. 12, 2012: Good Writing News

Monday, November 12, 2012
Dark of the Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Busy weekend. Trying to juggle lots of things on Friday, including getting out press releases and discussing the possible play commission. One short story was rejected — have to get that back out — but another was accepted.

My 200-word flash fiction piece “Love in a Wok” was picked up by DAILY LOVE, and will run on November 26. Don’t worry — I’ll remind you!

Which is a good segueway into the flash fiction workshop, Flash 7, I’m teaching from December 7-16. Students will write, revise, and submit 7 flash fiction pieces in 10 days. Since they should all be writing 1000 words a day anyway, and no assignment is more than that, there better not be any excuses! You’re all done and submitted before the holiday madness strikes! 😉 More information here.

Here’s a press release about the Playwright Intensive. The CAPE COD TIMES was also very kind to run something about it in the Sunday paper.

Saturday, the Beautification Committee did a work day at Mother’s Park. We had a lot of fun. It was definitely a time of “many hands make light work” — got everything done and had time for coffee, cake, and a chat before heading home. At home, I kept going, cutting back and getting the beds in the front of the house done for the winter.

I’m luxuriating in the NOTEBOOKS OF HENRY JAMES in my down time. Fascinating stuff.

Sunday was all about catching up on school work. Watched all the lectures for the World HIstory class and aced all the quizzes but one. Watched all the lectures for the Mythology class — we studied the Orestia this week, which I practically know by heart. So, yeah, I did well on the quizzes, too.

Got some writing done, but not enough, so I have to buckle down some more today — have to get work done on two novels, a non-fiction project, and revise a press release — and, hopefully, hustle a few quick-pay, quick-turnaround short gigs, such as press releases.

Busy week this week, lots going on — I have the final galleys for OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK — and I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is already next week!

Devon

Mon. Sept. 10, 2012: Great Writing News!

Monday, Sept. 10, 2012
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

It feels like a month has passed instead of a weekend. So much going on!

Great news! My one-act play “The Effie Effect” has been chosen as part of Tilden Art Center’s PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD Festival. It’s going to have a reading on Sept. 28. I will post more information as I get it. I’m very excited — it’s my theatrical debut on the Cape!

Last week’s paper for the Sustainability Course was “Sustainability Vs. Human Greed”. We can talk about what we “should” do in order to be sustainable all we want, but as long as there are people making huge profits from unsustainable practices, nothing will change. Cut off the money source, and we’ve got a chance, because the greedy special interests who line their own pockets aren’t going to change. That got some pretty good responses.

This week’s paper, “Education, Equality, and Rape”, which I wrote and uploaded on Sunday morning (after several days’ research) is also getting good feedback. There’s all this talk about how population growth/fertility rates remain highest among the poorest, most uneducated women — um, yeah, because they’re kept like brood mares. When you educate women, give them access to health care, equal rights, et al, which includes child survival rates rising, the population growth slows (although there’s still debate as to whether we’ve hit carrying capacity or can create the sustainable “S” curve). Of course, if the special interest right wing-nuts in this country get their way, women will be stripped of their rights and turned back into brood mares again, but that’s an argument for another day. The reason I wrote the paper is because the experts talk about the importance and impact of education and equality for women to affect sustainable population growth, but they all ignored rape and sexual violence as a tool of war, and the children that are born of that violence. Northern Sudan, Darfur, Bosnia — throughout history, rape is used as a tool of war. There aren’t even reliable statistics, because of the shame associated with rape. So last week’s paper addressed that issue.

Once I read this week’s material and see what annoys me about it, I’ll have my topic for this week’s paper!

I also wrote and posted the proposals for my two milestone projects. We only need to do one, but I can’t decide between them, so I’m doing two. The first is very traditional within the realms of the class, dealing with the Flood/Drought Rebalance and how I think it can be done in the US. I’ve got a bunch of sources, I know what I want to say, it’s something I’ve discussed with my Senate and Congressional offices, and I’ll finally have a document to hand them. The other project is fiction — which is rather out of the realm of what they’re used to in a class like this. It’s an environmentally-sustainable series that will give actual information in an entertaining and engaging way without falling into the cliches most fictional characters in this realm do. For the purposes of the class, I do the vision for the series, and the outline and first three chapters of this book. So that’s all good, and both projects are getting solid support from my classmates.

Got the welcome message from the World History Class, which starts next Monday. 70,000 in that class, which is a little depressing! And the textbook is so far out of my price range, I can’t even consider it at this point. So I will try to track it down in one of the many libraries to which I have access.

I’ve also been invited to submit to another project — 15K as soon as I get get it done. I’m having fun with it, so we’ll see.

With all that, I’m deep in edits for the second Jain Lazarus, OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. Billy Root has a few things to say about it here. AND I’m scrambling to get book #3 to the publishers on time.

I ran into some frustrations getting the text smoothed out for the anthology — there are formatting issues that take me longer than I’d like to resolve, and sections I have to re-key by hand. I want to get it off my desk today or tomorrow (I planned to finish it by yesterday), because I need it off my desk and onto the publisher’s! 😉

And I need to chase down some payments this week, start another article that’s due, do some more pitches, and finish the material for the latest Confidential Job #1. And, in a moment of weakness, I agreed to be a contest judge, so those materials should hit my desk today.

I drove to P-town yesterday to have brunch with some good friends in from NY, friends I haven’t seen since I moved to the Cape. In spite of the weather, it was great fun. We laughed a lot.

Tarot class is doing well. I’m having fun with them.

And I was mentioned in THE CAPE COD TIMES — they gave me a few paragraphs about my upcoming writing workshops in Falmouth.

I even got some mowing done on Friday, before the next round of storms hit! Isaac’s gone, but Leslie is affecting the surf here.

Got a big day of writing ahead of me, so off I go!

Devon

Dec. 12: Local Acknowledgement & Adventures in Holiday Baking

Monday, December 12, 2011
Waning Moon
Uranus DIRECT (as of Saturday)
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

It looks so pretty with the frost on the grass!

What a weekend!

The exciting news is that ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT was included in the CAPE COD TIMES’S column of “Books to keep you warm on Cold Cape Cod Nights”. I had no idea, and was thrilled to open the paper and see it. To be mentioned in the Sunday paper’s book section — with a cover photograph — I was thrilled!

Saturday morning was the holly walk — the first thing I did when I moved to the area last year, and still something I love to do. It was so much fun, and it’s fascinating to see how the Sanctuary evolved through the year. Got some holly boughs (yes, it’s part of the walk, I didn’t just take them) — will try to use some of the berries (well, the seeds in the berries) to start some hollies that are descended from these trees. They’d have special meaning.

Came back, baked 5 dozen tollhouse cookies. Tried the thumbprint recipe – which I’ve successfully used before — and it didn’t work. That’ll teach me. Instead of using my beloved Land O’Lakes butter, which I usually use for baking, I’d bought cheaper butter in bulk at Costco, knowing that I’d be doing hundreds of cookies this year. Well, the butter didn’t cream properly with the sugar. Didn’t matter the temperature, didn’t matter the type of utensil — wooden spoon, paddle attachment, regular mixer. I wound up with a streusel-like substance instead of creamed butter and sugar. It was fine with the tollhouse cookies, but the thumbprints couldn’t be imprinted — they simply shattered. Adding liquid just made them melt into puddles.

So the thumbprint cookies are not an option this year.

Prepped 5 dozen molasses spice cookies for the next day’s baking. The molasses took care of the streusel effect, and it was not a problem.

Sunday, after reading the papers, I baked the 5 dozen molasses spice. Perfection. I prepped the dough for the eggnog angels, the only rolled cookie I planned for this year. Again — streusel effect, even with the eggnog. I put the dough into the fridge to chill, hoping that would help. Then, I baked 3 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies (the replacement for the thumbprint) and 5 dozen banana-walnut-chocolate chip cookies. The oatmeal raisin cookies can be a little crumbly, and the mashed banana helped smooth out the butter.

When I tried to roll out the dough for the eggnog angels, no dice. You could roll it, but as soon as you used a cutter, they shattered. So I used the same method used for the molasses spice — rolled into balls, dusted with sugar, flattened with a glass dipped in sugar. It made a lot more than the cutouts would be, and they’re round instead of angels, but they taste good. Hopefully, the icing will still work on them. Without using the sugar to roll and flatten, they fell apart.

Okay, I’m convinced, Land O’Lakes forever more! 😉

Today, I have the mini-lemon bundt cakes and all the glazes/icing to do. Tomorrow, the platters are packed and go out the door. The rest of the packages also have to be wrapped and packed today, and go out the door tomorrow.

In the meantime, I had to spend time with students, read a friend’s manuscript, and then a client project came in for immediate turnaround. This is not the client’s usual MO, so, while there’s definitely the rush fee attached, I’m not refusing the job. I’m also working on my business plan for next year. I want to change a certain amount of things. This was the first year I had a chance to really see what it was like to work without the pressures of scumbag landlords and Broadway commute. What I learned from this year, I can apply moving forward, to shape my work like into what I want AND what meets the financial needs. In order to do that, I have to tweak some things and radically change others.

And then there was The Stroll. The Village Holiday Strolls are a HUGE deal on the Cape. Every village has on. If you live there, you damn well better get out there and STROLL, or you hear about it all year. I was too tired last year, having moved here a few weeks before, and I’m STILL getting flack about it! So I stopped everything, showered (dough in the hair is not a good look for me), dressed, and off we went.

Parking was a nightmare, because there isn’t any. They block off the streets that actually have parking lots, so you’re off trying to find a side street with no lights on and park on the edge of someone’s property. Everything dead-ends, but there’s no room to turn around, because the streets are narrow, filled with parked cars, and more cars are coming at you all the time, but there’s no exit. And everyone’s in dark colors, darting around the streets, so you’re worried you’re going to run someone over. Only the dogs have reflective collars on.

And there ARE dogs — tons of them. Which is very cute. The dogs stroll as seriously as the people. And they’re so well behaved, with all the chaos and the noise and the smells and the other dogs. They don’t even try to steal the hot dogs!

The historic houses and everything else are all decorated to the hilt, the streets are blocked off so people can wander, and tables are set up with hot chocolate and hot dogs and baked goods and all kinds of stuff. There are donation buckets set up — not quite sure for what. And teens running around with buckets asking for donations for the needy. I’m such a cynical Manhattanite that I assumed it was a scam, but I was told it’s actually true. It’s fun and festive, although there were too many teenagers who’d consumed too much sugar racing around, shrieking. But they weren’t doing any harm, and they were having fun. It’s not like they were wilding or anything. Teenage conversation here is so different than in Westchester, where all they did was whine about their parents not paying for enough. Here, they actually go out and do stuff and talk about what they’re doing and want to do, and make up actual adventures, and then go HAVE them. They’re much more aware of and engaged in the world, which is nice. I think they’re smarter, too — probably because their parents aren’t all over-medicated and aren’t over-medicating them.

It was lovely, but such hell getting in and out with the parking situation that I may just risk local wrath an NOT do it again next year! They could use the shopping center parking lots on Rt. 28 and then take those historic trolleys they’re so proud of and shuttle people back and forth. But they won’t change, because “this is the way it’s always been done.”

And then the microwave died. Billowed smoke, got very hot, smelled weird. Unplugged it, cooled it with ice, will have to get rid of it. No microwave popcorn for me for a bit! Well, I don’t use it that much anyway, so it’s not THAT big a deal, but, after the holidays, I’ll probably get a new one.

I’m behind where I’d like to be on the cards — I wanted to have them all out today — not happening. But I’ll get them out in the next few days. And then I have to worry about the party invitations! 😉

I’m doing a live chat tonight at 7 PM over at Savvy Authors, talking about short stories in general, and my 5 in 10 short story workshop that starts in January in particular.

This week, I also have the Writers’ Association Holiday Dinner and a yoga party. Busy, busy!

And I figure, if I’m lucky, I’ll finish decorating the house by Christmas Eve!

Back to the page, and onward.

Devon