Tues. Feb. 22, 2022: Creative Trajectories

image courtesy of SpaceX-imagery via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and mild

2/22/22 – Pretty cool, eh?

Friday was kind of a disjointed day. A client issue that was supposedly resolved came up again, as though the initial conversation never happened. This is why I do everything in writing.

But, hopefully, it’s all actually handled now.

Got some admin done. The weather was nasty, but I managed to get out the garbage and go down to the end of the street to mail some necessary letters.

Finished reading the book for book club, and spent some time in the online forum discussing it, which was lots of fun. This book has inspired several new projects, about which I’m excited. They are all long-term, non-deadlined projects at this point, things I can work on as palate-cleansers in between other projects.

My mom’s new smart phone arrived. It’s a good one, a Samsung, much fancier than mine. But the “one step” setup/transfer from her old phone to the new phone took well over 100 steps and wasn’t complete until well into Saturday. And Tracfone’s “customer service” was, as usual, useless. But I think we might be able to unlock/take the phone to a different company, if things continue to be nasty.

I had a bad night Friday into Saturday, waking up every couple of hours, and then having trouble getting back to sleep. I think some of it is sense memory trauma – two years ago, I had the first of the cancer surgeries; last year I was stressed about the upcoming move. My body and psyche are reverting, because they believe they’ve been trained to do so at this point in the year.

Which means I have to do mindful work to disconnect the cycle of the year from previous cycles of stress and trauma, and build something positive.

Just what I need right now. More work.

But, in the long run, it will make for a more positive life experience, so I better dig in and do it.

On Saturday, I was supposed to head to the grocery store for N95 masks. They’d sent an email the previous day, saying they were giving them out. Only good thing I checked and found out that they weren’t do so at the one within walking distance. Because the next snowstorm came roaring through just as I would have had to leave, and I would have been stuck out on foot in whiteout conditions – and no masks.

I stayed inside instead, enjoying watching the snow fall. I read, mostly a biography of Ottoline Morrell. I’d read about her via diaries and letters of Bloomsbury folks, and I was annoyed then by the way they accepted her generosity and then trash-talked her. Reading her biography (the one by Miranda Seymour) made me even more annoyed. But then, talented as they were, hypocrisy and gossip were the standards of that group.

Allowed myself the day to rest and read and enjoy the snow. Other than changing the beds, I didn’t do much in the way of housework, although I did a bit of unpacking and rearranging. I am going to have to set aside a few half-days in the not-too-distant future to rearrange the filing. And I need more bookcases.

Did an online yoga/meditation session with a group I joined that’s for professional women who chose not to have children. It’s a solid group of people, and the session was good.

Did some research and pre-planning for a research trip I want to take in the spring of 2023. Figured out about how much money I need for it, how much time, breaking down the travel so it won’t be overwhelming. I’m hoping to build in a couple of days to see friends on the way, if it works for all our schedules. Both money and the curve of the virus will be key factors. I figured out how much I have to put aside every month between now and then to afford the trip and have a bit of a cushion. I want to make sure I enjoy the actual travel, not just push through to get to various destinations, and then am so worn out I can’t enjoy them. I’m not 20 anymore, and I can’t travel as though I was, just because that would be cheaper.

I also might be able to get a grant to fund at least part of the trip, so I will look into that and apply this year so the funds would be available next year, too.

It was a pleasant way to while away some time.

Did some collaborative work on the anthology. Grabbed a script to cover, and was also requested to cover another script, so that starts the week out well.

We got about six inches or so of snow, in a couple of bands. Not too bad, but the car’s all covered up again. I made a big pan of chicken enchiladas for dinner, with leftover chicken from the roast I did the other night.

Weird dreams again, Saturday into Sunday. One set of dreams was family-oriented, and not appropriate to discuss publicly, since the dreams aren’t just about me. In the other set, I was working at a conference, and trying to convince a speaker named Susan to let the sound tech wire her for her presentation (the mic pack freaked her out). Not sure what all that’s about.

Sunday was cold and sunny. Charlotte woke me around 6:30, tapping my face with her paw and head-butting me. Made scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and chives from our own plants.

Had a good, long, deep morning meditation session.

I updated the tracking sheets and Series Bible for The Big Project. That takes time, because the details are so important, but it’s necessary, especially if the project sprawls in the directions in which it’s possible (i.e., it’s a success, and goes beyond the first projected phase).

I unpacked two more boxes of books. These actually held books for current projects, and I was delighted that they made it up, and now I have them accessible on the shelves. Baby steps, right?

I did some brainstorming on the anthology, and sent an updated sheet of bullet points for the article on the theatre I created for that world.

I heard from the conference at which I’m teaching in August. They have decided to remain virtual this year. I’m perfectly happy with that. Even though they would have paid for hotel and most meals, I would have had travel expense, had to worry about clothes and makeup for four days (now I just have to look good for the Zoom session), and interacting/being “on” all the time for four days. Much as I would have liked to dip my toe back into the realm of in-person, virtual is a better choice for me personally this year, and for safety reasons for all of us. Plus, now I’m only teaching 2 hours (or maybe 4, if they want both courses) instead of 10. I’m perfectly happy about it, although I bet there will be grumblers. It also means more people from all over the country and world, who wouldn’t have been able to come in person, or would have worried about safety issues, can attend. I think it’s a positive all across the board.

I took most of the day, however, to rest and recharge. I needed it.

Yesterday was President’s Day and a holiday. Tessa got me up at 5:30. She has also decided she wants to hang out for morning yoga (which she always did at the other house), but Charlotte, who hangs out with me here, is not sure if there’s room for both of them. Believe me, there’s plenty of physical room. They just have to learn to give each other enough psychological room.

I worked on preliminary information for a large grant application for which I want to try. I need to figure out what I want to do with it.

It was sunny and mild out, and I took the opportunity to run errands: get the garbage out, pick up a few things at Cumberland Farms, Big Y, CVS, the liquor store, and check out some other stores I could get to on foot, in the hopes of finding cute little plant pots. No luck. The ones I found don’t drain, and that’s not an option.

Did some brainstorming on the anthology. Covered a script. It was sunny and mild enough to sit on the front porch in the afternoon and read there. The cats were as thrilled as the people.

I’m reading a book that’s supposedly a diary by the author, but is actually more of creative nonfiction. The headings have dates, but she admits they were written over the course of two years and change, not a single year. Because no one could travel back and forth across Europe and the country for month-long or semester-long residencies and be in different, far-flung locations so often. She uses something that happens in the day to trigger an essay built around it, and it’s well-written and engaging for the most part. But she’s one of those women who always has to have a man in her life and can’t be alone for five minutes. I have trouble respecting that kind of dependence. On top of that, most of the time, she’s a jerk to everyone around her, including the men. One would hope, in the process of writing the diary (or writing the essays that compromise the diary), that she would realize how badly she treats people around her, and try to be kinder. Learn from it. But she doesn’t. She just wallows in being a jerk. I mean, the diary is the best possible place to be a jerk, but hopefully, through the writing, you realize it and choose the path of non-jerkdom. Or at least attempt the path of being kinder. Not this woman.

I’m tempted to try reading some of her fiction, but I don’t like the “her” I’ve met on the page (which, since this is a journal for publication, is another created “her” rather than the actual person). I’m nearly finished with this book; but do I ever want to spend time with any of the “hers” again?

Highly doubtful. Although I’ve learned some good craft lessons for creative nonfiction by reading this book.

Woke up to a great article about a local entrepreneur I met last October. I’m thrilled for her! Looking forward to being able to support her business later this spring and into summer.

This morning, I have a Zoom session with fellow local entrepreneurs, which should be fun, and tonight, I’m signed up for a Zoom session via Titcomb’s Books (one of my favorite bookshops on Cape) for an author event with Nina de Gramont, the author of THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR. Two Zooms in one day! And a Zoom on Thursday for meditation! That fills my limit of not doing more than 3 Zoom sessions a week, whenever possible.

After the first Zoom, I need to head up to the library, to drop off and pick up books. Then it’s back to the page, and after that, another script coverage. It’s supposed to be mild for the next few days (although rain coming in tomorrow), but then another storm at the weekend.

One day, one step at a time, right? After all, I have books to unpack and projects to create!

Thurs. Feb. 17: I’ll Just Skip the Smelting, Thanks

image courtesy of Jalyn Bryce via pixabay.com

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Waning Moon

Rainy/mild/cloudy

I’ve got a post about the first seeds planted over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday was a bit of an exhausting mishmash. I had the laundry done and back by 7:30 AM, which is great. My foot was hurting, but after breakfast, I headed off to the grocery store with the rolly cart and did the next bit of stocking up. Even though most of the sidewalks and streets are passable, by the time I got everything home, my foot was in bad shape.

I’d gotten a positive response from an LOI I sent out yesterday, asking for more info. I sent all that off, and immediately got another response, asking what my target compensation was. I threw a fairly high number at them. They didn’t even blink, just said great, they were reviewing my materials. So we’ll see where that goes, if anywhere.

Another potential client situation is not going to work out. Although I’m interested in the work itself, the pay is too low for the work and the amount of work within each pay period, AND it’s going through a third party system with whom I don’t work, who takes a cut of the pay. So an already low-paid, high volume gig would pay even less.

But it reminded me that I have a big old file on similar-type companies that pay more and don’t work through this particular third party, so I will pull that up and see who’s still around and who’s worth pitching,

Did a tiny bit of collaborative brainstorming. Had some actual, good conversations on social media. Got some book recommendations. Set up the files for the projects containing short projects, so as I work on them, I can just save them into the appropriate file instead of having them in their own little files and then having to hunt them down.

Worked on script coverage. I’m behind where I hoped I’d be this week, but still on deadline, so it’s all good. I just have to push harder next week, because this pay period was too far below what I need/want it to be, although all bills will be paid on time. I’m just socking away as much as possible for the car repair, since I have no idea how much it will cost.

I roasted a chicken last night, which was delicious, and then made stock from the bones. I wish we had the capacity for a compost pile, but we don’t. I’d like to have a zero waste kitchen, or as close to that as possible. But we do as much as we can.

Finishing up the book for book club. I have meditation this morning. I have two sets of errands to carry out over the next few days. If it rains today (as it’s threatening), I will just do what I need to do across the street at the college library today and leave the longer walking errands for tomorrow. Which is a good idea, because then I can let my foot rest. I definitely need to invest in a cushioned, sturdy pair of walking sneakers this spring. I’m not used to walking this much, and not on concrete. So, I need good walking shoes or cross trainers.

I want to work on The Big Project, get some pitches out, and then it’s more script coverage and contest entries.

Yesterday, I saw a post about this full moon being a time for “smelting in the cauldron of transformation” and I’m like, no, no. I’ve had enough chaos for the past going on three years. I want a nap. No smelting, thank you very much. Let me rest.

Of course, Charlotte got me up at 4:30 this morning, so that wasn’t happening.

Published in: on February 17, 2022 at 7:42 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 17: I’ll Just Skip the Smelting, Thanks  
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Wed. Feb. 16, 2022: Some Days Are Rougher Than Others

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Full Moon

Partly sunny, partly cloudy, starts cold and gets milder

Yesterday was one of those sucky days. Everything was ten times harder than it should have been.

I dealt with an unpleasant situation with a big client. It took most of the day, draining emotional and creative energy. I think we’re on better ground now, but I still want to expand my client pool. I sent out a few LOIs; already heard back from one, up in Bennington, who wants more information. So that’s promising, at least.

A submission call for short plays landed on my desk. I had two which would fit the bill (and did a quick revision on one of them, to tighten it). But I decided to send the funnier one, since they admitted they favor comedy.

A friend has recommended me for a type of gig I’ve always wanted to try. The pay’s kind of low, but it’s steady, and might do as a stop gap for a few months. I’m willing to have a conversation with the potential client about it, at the very least.

I made the trek to the library, returning 8 books and picking up 13. I was annoyed when the librarian whined about having to move the books from the shelf to the checkout desk. Hon, that’s your job. I’m carrying them over a half a mile there and back on foot, so don’t go whining when you have to move books, two or three at a time two feet. If it’s too difficult for you, maybe you should be out on sick leave, or maybe you should ask someone to carry them for you, or maybe you shouldn’t be in the job (because I saw the job description, and one of the requirements is being able to lift up to 25 pounds. And I worked in a library, where I was regularly expected to lift a lot more than that). But what is NOT okay is to whine at a patron because books arrived from different places at the same time, and those checkouts are what keeps the library funded.

Got an email from a company of which I’d never heard, congratulating me for registering, and that the monthly fee would be $55. Say what? I went to unsubscribe and they wanted my credit card information. No, tell me what credit card you think you’re going to pull this from. Talk about a scam. I warned my bank, sent the company’s customer service department an email demanding to be removed from their list and asking what card they thought they had on file. Since they didn’t even have my name, just my email address, and I never gave them any information, we should be okay. I received a cancellation message.  But the bank and I will keep an eye on the account.

Filled out the Artist Census for the city, which is getting information from working artists on what they need to thrive here. Hopefully, that will open up new possibilities. Just from the Census alone I learned about a half a dozen or so opportunities that I am now following up.

I’ve somehow injured my foot, to the point where I can barely put weight on it, and I have no idea how, which is disturbing on multiple levels.

I have to finish reading ARTCURIOUS for book club. I love it. I’m going to have to buy myself a copy, because it’s a book I’ll keep using.

Knowledge Unicorns were fine. The kids were having a tough day, too, as were a lot of my colleagues all over the place. I guess it was just one of those days.

Since I cleaned up my Twitter account, I was able to have actual, interesting conversations with several people yesterday, and it was terrific. I also blocked a twat who called herself a writer and posted the faux engagement “what is your hobby besides writing?” Writing is not a hobby, you moron. Calling yourself a writer and asking such a question is insulting. It assumes no one makes their living writing. Just because the questioner isn’t good enough and won’t put in the work so to do doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of us who can and do make a living at it. I have full respect for part-time writers who work while carrying full-time work in other careers. I have full respect for writers who love writing as a hobby. I have no respect for people calling themselves “writers” who insult other professioanl writers because those “writers” can’t earn a living, and assume no one else can, either. Not worth engaging with such a person, so block and move on. And not just scrolling past, either, because it’s never just one dumbass “question” from someone like that. And I am just DONE with these jerks.

Got an idea for a couple of sets of short pieces – flash fiction, prose poems, short plays – tied to specific visuals. It’s one of those things that when I see something that sparks it, I’ll write it, and then collect the pieces on a theme to submit. . .somewhere. It’s a long-term, undeadlined project to let me stretch and experiment.

Up early this morning (after weird dreams set in a hotel, but a different hotel that’s shown up in previous dreams). Fed the cats, did some yoga and writing, was at the laundromat when they opened at 6 AM, had everything washed, dried, folded and home by 7:30.

I have to head to the grocery store again later today. MA is dropping the indoor masking recommendation, because they’re idiots. I’m going to keep masking until spring or summer.

I don’t have that much on my grocery list this time, so hopefully, it won’t be too difficult to get it all home.

I started the initial re-read for revisions on CAST IRON MURDER. It holds up better than I thought it would. Although there are plenty of details to smooth out, and writing to tighten.

I have a lot of script coverage to do today (didn’t get much done yesterday), and I want to work on the Big Project.

So I better get going, hadn’t I?

Thurs. July 8, 2021: First Full Day at Home

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Thursday, July 8, 2021

Dark Moon

Pluto, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Rainy and humid

Yesterday was my first full day home.

My mom wasn’t feeling well; the move has been a lot for her. She is, after all, 96. I left her resting at home while I did a big grocery shop at Stop N Shop. Missing a turn to get there. I think there’s an easier way to get there, which I plan to explore on my next run.

Got everything upstairs and unloaded before the storms started. We worked on unpacking the kitchen some more. There’s still a lot to unpack – everywhere. But we’re doing it slowly, arranging and rearranging.

I did some script coverage, which I will write up today, and read another script today. I’m easing back into it. I want to do good work, and I can’t do it if I’m exhausted. So, instead of overbooking myself and doing low quality work, I’m easing back in and doing good work.

More negotiation with a potential client today. I don’t think I’m right for this assignment. I have to do some more digging. I don’t know if they can afford me, even if I’m right.

Salad for lunch. Scallops sauteed in butter and rosemary with mashed potatoes and spinach for dinner. Figures – I move away from the coast and what do I cook? Scallops. The irony is not lost on me.

I think one of the reasons my mom isn’t feeling well is that she didn’t eat properly while I was down finishing the cleanout.

Trying to catch up on email. We were supposed to receive a check Fed Ex’ed yesterday from TD Ameritrade – where the broker made my mother cry last week when she tried to close the account. Of course, it didn’t get here. What a slimy, awful company.

Rearranged some of the furniture in the living room, and it works much better now.

To bed fairly early. Awakened around 2-ish by thunder and lightning. Sitting in a bowl between mountains, watching the storm roll around, was pretty cool. Especially since we have good, solid windows for protection. Fell asleep again around 4 and slept until nearly 7. I haven’t done that in months.

Staggering around today, feeling disoriented and numb. I was going to go to the library to get a new card and some books about the area, but with the bucketing rain, I think I will stay in and rest. I will unpack a bit, write up script coverage, read the next script, negotiate with the potential new client. Maybe catch up on some email.

I’ve lived in a state of crisis for so long, it’s as though I’ve forgotten how to live an ordinary day. I mean, I have to figure out new routines and schedules to create daily life again, but it’s almost as though I no longer know how.

The best thing I can do is be kind to myself. It’s the dark moon. Time to release what’s no longer working – getting out of the old house is part of that. Tomorrow is the new moon, and time for fresh starts.

I have a feeling today will The Day of Many Naps.

Peace, friends.

Published in: on July 8, 2021 at 8:49 am  Comments (4)  
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Thurs. April 15, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 327 — Before The Storm

Tessa in her new bed

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and chilly

There’s a longer than usual post over on Gratitude and Growth about how the changes in the neighborhood affect the garden.

Yesterday was reasonably productive. Early in the morning, it turns out the client I thought with whom I would be working starting this week – well, it’s not going to work out. The client “requires” I jump through hoops they “need” for their accounting. Um, they pay via PayPal, and I filled out a W-9. They don’t “need” anything else. This client paid a lower rate than I’d normally accept, but I wanted to have some steady, stop-gap work with the move coming up, while I continue to have discussions with higher-paying potential clients. But I’m not jumping through hoops for this kind of money, when I don’t need to for clients who pay much, much more. Buh-bye.

Got another nibble from another LOI from someone who wants some more information. I can turn that around today, I hope. We’ll see if that’s legit, or yet another “client” that’s actually an outsourcer wasting my time.

Turned around some additional information requested from another LOI, and got the exact same message asking for the exact same information, which I said I sent, did they need it resent, and got the same message asking for the same information instead of an actual response. Hon, if your AI chat bot can’t get it together, we aren’t a good match. Next!

Got a lot done at the client’s. She was just in for a few minutes, so we talked about a few things, I kept going with what I had to get done, she kept going with what she had to get done. She bought her elderly cat a new cat bed, and gave me the fancy previous one.

My cats were fascinated. Charlotte and Willa fussed at each other over it, and while they were busy, Tessa decided it was HERS. And now it is. Tessa spent most of the afternoon in the bed, happy as could be. That gave Willa a chance to sneak in and sit in the window in my room before I took Willa and Charlotte out in their playpens on the deck.

Remote Chat was fun.

I was hit with more fatigue and some swollen lymph nodes again in the afternoon and evening. Instead of pushing myself, I let myself sit out on the deck for a bit, with the cats in their playpens.

Went to bed awfully early, though, which meant I woke up around 3:30 and was wide awake.

Meditation this morning. I should do a quick grocery run, before the storm starts. It’s supposed to get nasty this afternoon and overnight, into tomorrow. We do need the rain, though. But the thought of going to the store is overwhelming.

I’ve got a story idea almost percolating. I can feel it starting to form. I need to get back to a regular fiction writing routine again. I’m much more centered and productive when I stick to an early morning 1K of fiction. But it’s as though I’m punishing myself for not having landed a new home, therefore I don’t let myself write, and I throw off my whole day, and it’s a continuing downward spiral. When what I should be doing is writing my way to a better reality.

But all I want to do is sleep. Only I don’t have time to sleep, I need to finish packing and find us a place to live.

Client work, LOIs, article work, filling information requests, and looking at rental listings. That’s my agenda for today.

What’s on your plate?

Fri. Feb. 26, 2021: Die For Your Employer 280/MA Vaccine Distribution Fail Day 30 — Applying Meditation Practice To Life

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Friday, February 26, 2021

First Day of Full Moon

Partly cloudy and mild

I had the chance to use what we’ve been working on in meditation in life yesterday.

It was a stressful day and kept tugging me off-course, although by 10 AM, I’d gotten in writing, client work, admin work, and my mother’s doctor’s appointment.

The “digital waiting room” for the vaccine appointments is appalling. Who can sit with the computer tab open for 6722 minutes? If you open another tab to work on something while you wait, it kicks you out of the “waiting room.” How is this sustainable? Who can spend 17-18 hours a DAY on the computer trying to get an appointment and still carry work and family responsibilities? Why does every “fix” Baker adds make it all worse?

More importantly, why are second dose patients competing with first dose patients? Why aren’t they sent to a separate sign-in and given the appointments they need?

Why does Baker act like Cape Cod isn’t part of the state?

The physical, emotional, and financial burdens he is causing are enormous. And totally unnecessary. His refusal to listen to qualified, talented people around him and respond to what is actually going on versus what he wants it to look like is infuriating. All these stories are being planted in the press about how great MA is doing with vaccines, and it’s an entirely different reality than what I’m living.

Then, he sits in the state hearing and gaslights.

Of course he does. He’s a Republican. He’s right on brand.

I finally just sat down and took a deep breath, and decided to try techniques we worked on (especially last week, and, since I couldn’t participate this week, I felt off-kilter).

First thing: Where am I right now?

Answer: Not okay.

And, as a friend of mine pointed out yesterday, it’s okay not to be okay. I worked, flat out, through a pandemic, three surgeries, and two cancer scares in the past year. My last vacation was in May of 2016. I’ve been taking care of my elderly mother, fighting to get her the vaccinations in a system that delights to cause pain and suffering, kept up with client work, sought new client work, had to deal with clients being more demanding because remote work “isn’t really work”, and am dealing with some other major upcoming life changes.

I am frustrated, angry, scared, and overwhelmed. And, especially, exhausted.

And those factions who say I “choose” to feel that way say so from hilltops of entitlement and privilege.

I feel what I feel, and it matters.

I acknowledge that I’m not okay. That’s step one. It’s real, and relevant.

I have to acknowledge that the level of stress that didn’t slow me down at twenty is slowing me down now that I am decades beyond twenty. Also, at age twenty, I wasn’t fighting to keep my family alive in a pandemic amidst the selfish and the stupid.

Plenty of external pressures are out of my control. I can’t control the vaccine sign-up site (although, at the risk of sounding egotistical, if I did, there would be a far more equitable distribution system in place).

I can’t control clients who are pretending the pandemic doesn’t exist anymore and demand a higher productivity level than before the pandemic, but without resources. I CAN change my relationship with those clients, although there are consequences, and I have to have other clients in place to pick up the financial slack. That is a work in progress.

Early in the pandemic, I severed relationships with several clients who refused to give me any option to work remotely, and it was absolutely the right choice.

There are a couple of people who are taking up too much real estate in my head, and I need to give them eviction notices. That doesn’t happen immediately, but it is something that can happen, with work.

There’s physical work to be done here at the house, and I’m breaking it down and handling as much as I can at a time, while exploring options in case it cuts very close to me running out of time completely. Again, there’s only so much I can do physically at any given time. I am not twenty. It’s a reality. And it’s not something I could hire anyone else to do – especially not during a pandemic. Plus, we can’t have anyone in the house who is not part of the household during a pandemic.

There are other factors that are out of my control, but I’m trying to figure out workarounds.

By facing each situation individually and looking at it in terms of what can I do? What can’t I do? Where can I adjust? Where does the necessary adjustment go against my needs? What are my other alternatives?

I can also clear out the mental clutter and focus on each piece of work with full attention. When I work on the articles, for instance, and get lost in them, I’m happy doing the work, I do good work, and it gets good results. Or creating a marketing campaign for a client.

One of the few upsides of the pandemic was realizing how many unhealthy work compromises I’ve made over the last ten years, since leaving full-time theatre work, and learning what adjustments I have to make for a healthier work situation. I may not get it with every assignment, but the more assignments I can stack up that are within what I consider the “healthy work arena” the better the quality of my work and my life.

I can’t control the companies that are determined to act like the pandemic never happened and plan to force their employees into their offices full-time, even when the work doesn’t call for it. But I can avoid as many of those assignments as possible.

Accepting not being okay, and working on things I can actually DO instead of drowning in what I can’t do helped a lot.

And reminding myself to let up on the negative self-talk, which, over the past few weeks, has reached screeching levels inside my head.

Freelance Chat was fun and upbeat, and I got some good ideas out of it, which I hope to implement.

Spent some time on the acupressure mat. One of the replacement books arrived, the diaries of Sir Peter Hall, talking about the creation of the National Theatre in the 1970’s. I’d read it before, at the start of my theatre career, and loved it. I started re-reading it, and can’t put it down. I’m seeing so much from a different perspective (not to mention, by this point, I’ve worked with some of the people mentioned, when I only knew their work the first time I read it). It’s a very invigorating book.

Turned back way too many requests to “talk” from recruiters – all for jobs that have nothing to do with what I do. I’m a writer – it’s clear on the website, it’s clear on my resume, it’s clear on my linked in profile. So stop TELLING me I should take a job that’s a web designer (I’m not qualified), a sales executive (I’m not interested), a truck driver (what? How do you get that from writer?). Read my actual material and stop wasting my time.

Was ready to bitch slap some Twitter twat complaining that wearing a mask fogged up her glasses and was “intolerable.” You know what? Over 500,000 deaths are intolerable. You’re merely inconvenienced, you selfish POS. I did not say that in my reply; I told her how I avoided lens fog (at least most of the time). I’ve worn a mask nearly a year now. It’s not hard to wear it with glasses so you don’t fog up.

Worked on the article. I finally have it almost were I want it, although I have to cut about 300 words, which includes a quote I’d like to keep in, but there just isn’t room. I’m going to cut the 300 words to get it in at word count and get it to my editor this morning.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. We got solid work done. I am so grateful for the educational stuff that the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History and other big museums post. Whatever their assignments, we can supplement with material from places they couldn’t visit in time to do the assignment, even without a pandemic. I hope some of theses online resources continue. I know the kids who live far away from these places are now eager to visit when it’s safe.

After I do a library run, a liquor store run, and a CVS run to pick up my mom’s prescription, I will turn my attention to the article for THE WRITER. I’d like to get it out to my editor a little early. I have all but two quotes, and I have enough material to go without. I’m also doing some live script doctoring via Zoom while a corporate video is shooting, which is a new and different experience.

I was up way too early this morning worrying. So I gave up, got up, and need to turn that energy into actual work.

I have a lot on my agenda this weekend, between the article, books for review, contest entries, and more box purging. Weather-wise, it looks like it will be all over the place. I might do another dump run (I sure have enough).

I’m hoping to build in some rest. I need it.

I also plan to drop in, at least for a bit, at my virtual 40th HS reunion. The organizers took the time to hunt me down; the least I can do is show up for a while. I have nothing at stake – maybe one or two people from my high school graduating class have remained part of my life. High school was something to get through so I could get going on my life. Were there many bouts of unhappiness? Sure. It was high school. But I also made decisions to find what I wanted and needed away from the cliques and that kind of stuff, and it was the right choice for me. Plus, I graduated a semester early and started college early, and I was taking college classes while still in high school. I hope everyone in my graduating class is well and happy, but our lives have taken us in different directions.

Next week, I have to make some big decisions.

Have a great weekend.

Thurs. Jan. 30, 2020: The Need to Focus

Thursday, January 30, 2020
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold

Over on Gratitude and Growth, I talk about the dilemma I’m facing with the garden.

Yesterday was exhausting. Big project with a client leaves me wrung out by the time I’m done there. Nothing is wrong, nothing is bad, it just takes a lot of energy.

I haven’t had a good writing week, which means I have to make up for a great deal over the next four days.

I had a good pitching week, at least as far as getting out a lot of article pitches. We’ll see if anything hits.

Remember the potential client meeting I had last week, where I pulled out of consideration and said we were not the right fit? The person with whom I met thanked me for my honesty? Well, yesterday, I got a shirty email from someone else in the company, stating they decided to go forward with someone else. Um, so? I already told them I wasn’t going to work with them. We were done. They wanted to act like it was THEIR decision, not mine? Control issues much? Whatever.

They’ve been added to my list of companies not to work with and not to pitch to again.

Reading some very good books for the contest entries. The categories get more and more competitive every year with the quality of entrants. It’s wonderful. It’s exciting to pick up every book. Some of them miss here and there on certain points, but the writing has gotten stronger and stronger every year.

While it’s briefly sunny today, I have to take the leaves to the dump and then go out and do some yard work.

Then, it will be back to the page. The short story is taking shape nicely, but I have to have the main focus on the revisions this weekend.

Plus, I have coursework to complete on both the Robert Burns course and the course on Fashion Innovation. Gotta keep learning.

Back to the page.

 

Published in: on January 30, 2020 at 10:10 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 30, 2020: The Need to Focus  
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Wed. Jan. 29, 2020: Good Show Improves Week

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Waxing Moon

Ink-Dipped Advice’spost talks about Intent, and ties back in to what we do here on Mondays. I hope you enjoy it.

On Monday night, my radio play “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” was performed in Florida. I sent them best wishes for a good show, and heard that the audience absolutely loved the piece, and was delighted to have more Frieda and Laz. Frieda and Laz have become fan favorites.

Work commitments prevented me going to meditation group on Monday, and I missed it. I sat on my own, which I enjoy, but I also enjoy the group. Although sometimes there’s too much of the “guided” and not enough silence.

Monday night, I read Ann Patchett’swonderful new book, THE DUTCH HOUSE. Wow. Just wow. I could not put it down. Beautiful writing and characterization, although I got irritated with the protagonist’s disinterest in everyone around him over the course of his entire life. He was constantly surprised to find out that people had lives that didn’t revolve around him. That their lives had a richness when they were away from him. Patchett showed that very well.

So yes, I sat up late until I finished the book! I love doing that.

Got some admin work done on Tuesday morning, mediocre writing session, answered a letter from my college advisor, which was fun. College was way back in the early 80s, and we have kept in touch. I’m so glad. He was a wonderful advisor, especially when I went through some rough stuff. He has been a touchstone for me through the years. Now he’s written his first novel, and I’m delighted.

Got out another article pitch. Worked onsite with a client. Got some work done at the library. Got some more work converting “Intrigue” into US Numbered format for a different production company that’s doing “Horace House” in October. I figured I’ll reformat the other two plays of the trilogy; that way, the director has them all and can decide if he wants to do them, or just “Horace House.”

Still struggling with the end of “Trust.” I’ve lost the thread of what I’m trying to do, and have to figure it out again.

Today will be an intense day with the client, working on a big project. Then, it’s home for pizza night. I hope to get some work done on revisions.

Tomorrow, if the weather holds, I’ll do some yard work, along with the writing and other work. I’m working on a new targeted prospect list for the postcards. Third party recruiters and HR are a waste of time and space.

You know who else is a waste of space? The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I’ve been a juror in all kinds of trials over the years. No judge in any trial on which I’ve ever served has been as inept and useless as the Chief Justice. No jurors could get away with what the Republican Senators are getting away with. They’d be held in contempt of court.

THIS is the person who supposedly heads the highest court in the land? What a huge disappointment, at a critical juncture in our republic.

It’s both enraging and discouraging.

I will find a way to work on it via fiction, but it’s no fun to live through, that’s for damn sure.

 

Published in: on January 29, 2020 at 7:07 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 29, 2020: Good Show Improves Week  
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Fri. Jan. 24, 2020: Gearing Up for A Busy Weekend

Friday, January 24, 2020
New Moon
Sunny and mild

There’s a new post on Affairs of the Pen, under the Ava Dunne name, about how we’re all kids eager to look for lost treasure.

Yesterday really felt like a lost day, work-wise. It was frustrating.

I got a little bit of writing done before the rental inspection. The inspection itself takes only a few minutes, especially since everything’s okay and we have an ethical landlord. But the timing of it means I couldn’t really start anything until it was over.

I managed to get to the library and get a few things done, but I was under time constraints. Couldn’t get anywhere near done what I needed to.

Dashed back, bolted down a quick lunch, and then took my mother to the doctor. Where we waited for an hour and a half for a five-minute appointment. So, basically, the afternoon was lost, too.

I got in some reading, and finished the book for review, and started reading a fascinating book on the literary world in 1922, where this author believes everything changed.

Had planned to take a walk on the beach, but by the time we got out of the doctor’s office, it had clouded up and gotten too windy.

Leftovers for dinner, and reading. I’m still working my way through my re-reads of Donna Leon’s Brunetti series.

I have to do some research on Chicago in 1856 to get the correct names of a few things for “A Woman for the Job.”

Started “A Rare Medium” — the next Kate Warne play, about a case of hers where she posed as a medium. I have to dig up my notes on names, but it’s percolating along nicely.

Working on revisions for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE. Some of it is sticky work, but once I fix the first half, where I got off track (again), the rest should fall into place pretty nicely.

Unpacked and purged a few boxes, and sorted out some clothes. Figuring out what to donate, what to get rid of, what to pack away as stock, and what to keep in the closet.

Yesterday was the first day of full peaceful co-existence for all three cats since Willa and Charlotte came to live here. Even Tessa and Charlotte ignored each other, while being in the same room, which is huge progress.

If Charlotte had ended up in a shelter, she would have been marked unadoptable. Fortunately, MA has only no-kill shelters, or she would have ended up on death row. She can’t stand confinement or closed doors or chaos and doesn’t do well with strangers. I’m glad she’s here and I figured out how to work with her to make her feel safe. The sunnier, sweeter side of her personality is starting to come out.

Willa just kind of does her own thing. She likes company, but refuses to engage when Charlotte has a tantrum. She’s very, very smart, and keeps at something until she figures it out. And friendly. She’s a friendly, easy-going cat most of the time.

Tessa is getting used to them. She doesn’t assert herself enough with them, but there’s peaceful co-existence. As my vet in NY said, it’s healthier for them to be together in the same room and ignore each other than be alone. After all, we took in these cats because Tessa hates being an only cat.

We’re getting there. I hope we’ve turned a corner. There will be some regression here and there, I’m sure, but consistency, boundaries, and lots and lots of affection have brought them a long way.

I had a meeting with a potential client late in the morning, which is why this is posting so late. The conversation was fine, but we are not what each other needs right now.

Now, I’m off to the grocery store, and then back to write the review and start the next book for review.

The weather’s supposed to be bad this weekend, so I’ll stay in to write, read, and purge boxes from the basement. Maybe run the leaves to the dump tomorrow morning, if the weather’s okay.

With a new moon, Burns Night, Virginia Woolf’s birthday, and Chinese Lunar New Year all hitting this weekend, I will be exhausted.

Received the second invitation to work without pay this week, this time a speaking engagement. I gracefully declined. What gets me about both invitations was that it comes from people who are paid and who don’t work without pay — yet they want me so to do.

Put in my share of that.

I looked over my clips and what I use where. I realized that my unpaid clips for “exposure” only resulted in requests for more unpaid work. Clips from paid gigs led to more paid gigs. That’s important information. I will sit down and figure out the exact stats, but it was an important realization.

How did I do with my intent to listen this week? I definitely listened. I definitely did not like a lot of what I heard. The Senate Trial is enraging and disheartening. The Republican Senators are a disgrace.

I listened to a lot of incidental conversations around me. As a writer, I do periodic eavesdropping anyway, as part of my process to catch cadence. But I was discouraged by the amount of intentional stupidity going around.

So, yes, I achieved my “intent” for the week, but the consequences were not what I foresaw. I still have a couple of days to go on the week, but I think I will focus on listening to music!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, I need to get back to the page.

Published in: on December 19, 2019 at 10:35 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Dec. 19, 2019: Almost Ready for the Holidays  
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Thurs. Nov. 14, 2019: Writing, Changes, Planning

Thursday, November 14, 2019
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Partly cloudy and cold

We have a bit of snow Tuesday night. Just a dusting. Charlotte was fascinated by the snowflakes. Willa ran away. Tessa was unimpressed.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth, to see the latest in the garden.

Hop on over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site, where I’ve put up the questions for 2020. The approach is a little different this year. I hope you enjoy them, and that they are helpful as you figure out how to start the New Year — and the new decade. They will also live permanently on this page.

Impeachment hearings started yesterday. About damn time.

Had a good editing session in the morning yesterday. Then went on-site with a client. Remote Chat was fun, as it always is.

I’m trying to be smarter about using LinkedIn, but every time I sign in, I remember why I hate it so much. It wants to limit me.

I resent being forced to be on both LinkedIn and GoodReads. They don’t serve me. They get in my way.

I’m frustrated with A2 because they won’t fix a problem on the Fearless Ink site. Or do anything about the hacking and the threats I’ve been receiving. I need to move hosts. Which probably means rebuilding everything from scratch when I do so. SiteGround, so far, is the top contender. They’re pricier than A2, but it looks like they actually offer support when something goes wrong. And security. A2 used to offer both. Now, they just don’t give a damn.

Stopped at the store on my way home. Wednesday night has evolved into pizza night here, so that was fun.

Charlotte and Willa race to greet me when I come home. It’s so cute. Tessa was out and about a bit, but there’s still a lot of tension between her and the other two. We need to do some more work. I don’t believe that Feliway Diffuser has done a damn thing. Glad I got it on sale.

The landlord arranged for the septic tank to be pumped on Tuesday. Later in the week, he’s coming over with he heating guy to see about replacing the furnace. That means, this weekend, I have to do a serious purge of the basement around the bulkhead doors, because that’s how the new furnace will have to come in, and the old one will have to go out. That throws a monkey wrench in my weekend, but I’m grateful that he’s willing to replace it when the furnace people suggest it, rather than waiting until it breaks down in the middle of a blizzard.

Writing and editing sessions this morning, then off to the library for a bit. Back home for more writing, some raking, some basement purging. Writing session was okay; editing session was excellent.

I finished the book for review, and sent off the review to the editor. Told her I’m ready for the next one.

I plan to read my friend’s book this weekend, too. I finally feel I earned it!

 

Published in: on November 14, 2019 at 10:20 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Nov. 14, 2019: Writing, Changes, Planning  
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Tues. Oct. 15: Cat Adjustments Continue During the Storm

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise for this month’s Reader Expansion Challenge. I read a delightful anthology called HAUNTED NIGHTS.

The bulk of the weekend was devoted to cat socialization. When you think it’s only been a bit over a week, they’re doing very well. There are still some hissy-spitties and growlies, but, overall, they are adjusting.

The weather was so dreadful on Friday that I never left the house. I read, worked with the cats, wrote. I shouldn’t be working on GAMBIT COLONY right now, but that’s my stress release piece, so I am.

Friday’s phone interview with a potential client did not go well. Again, it’s that whole unpaid labor as a requirement of the hiring process. I’m not working for you for free. I am not giving up billable hours because you’re incapable of reading my portfolio and analyzing my writing skills. That is a lack of skill on YOUR part, not mine. Yesterday, I withdrew from consideration.

I need to follow up with another potential client this week. I knew there was a busy period coming, but I can’t wait any longer, or there won’t be room in the schedule. I need to know whether or not we’re moving forward.

Saturday morning, I ran some errands, even though it was still raining. None of the places I went to has the filter I need for the furnace. I need to get my hands on one before they come to do maintenance on Friday. My landlord complains if they charge him for the filter, saying they charge too much. Um, why is this my problem? It’s not like the rent doesn’t cover it. Especially with the increase.

We had a fire in the fireplace Saturday afternoon. Willa wasn’t sure about it, which is funny, because Willa is The Little Adventurer. Charlotte was fascinated. She sat at a safe distance, but where she could watch it. Tessa’s been around fireplaces since she was a kitten, so she was nonchalant about it all. It was pretty funny.

Sunday morning, they had me up at 4 AM, because they were hissing and growling and chasing each other around the house. Well, because they all three wanted to be in my bedroom and THEN the hissing, growling, and running around the house started.

They settled down once they had breakfast, but I was up. Once I’m up, I’m up.

The sun was out, so I put the exterior decorations back up. I’ll add in the lights this weekend or so. I had to drive to Brewster to pick something up. The pickup went well, although the person doing the handoff made me feel uncomfortable.

Stopped in Dennis for some overpriced but delicious baked goods. But it was a little too much sugar for one day.

Read the newest Donna Leon, UNTO US A SON IS GIVEN, which was excellent. I love that series. Read a different mystery by a different author where I like the characters, but there’s a lack of research in some of the aspects that really bothers me. So I always have mixed feelings when I read one of the books.

Up early on Monday. The cats tried to get me up at 4 AM again, but I closed the door, keeping Tessa in the bedroom with me and the other two out. Then, of course, they all worked to try and get the door open, but I managed to stay in bed until 5:30, which is a reasonable time to get up.

I did not take the holiday. I went in to do some work onsite with a client, hoping for a quiet day. No meditation group. Went in search of the furnace filter, and then make chicken pot pie for dinner. I’m getting good at making chicken pot pie from scratch.

Had a good follow-up from Thursday’s conversation, and am moving forward on that. Also got my edits/proofs from my editor at Llewllyn for the piece for 2021. Will turn those around this week.

Today, I’m onsite with a client most of the day, and then off to the library for a bit. Along with writing, revisions, and final galleys.

The whole situation with Syria and the Kurds is disgusting. The woman who was raped and then stoned to death — unacceptable. Sending our troops to Saudi Arabia — not acceptable. The Narcissistic Sociopath dances with glee as people are slaughtered, and he makes a personal profit. The GOP, who could stop him, won’t. Not out of fear, but out of greed. Add to that the video of the Sociopath killing people who disagree with him that’s running at his resort? He should be in front of the Hague, and then locked away until he rots. It will take decades to repair what he’s destroyed. Which is, of course, what he was put in there to do in the first place. Destroy. Every single person who enables and votes for him is complicit. And must be defeated. This is what the GOP has worked toward since Reagan was in office. Greed and apathy made it possible.

One word at a time. That’s all I can do.

 

Published in: on October 15, 2019 at 5:59 am  Comments Off on Tues. Oct. 15: Cat Adjustments Continue During the Storm  
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Thurs. Sept. 12, 2019: Trying to Get Back on Track

Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Monsoon-like rains

Sorry this is late, but the weather’s thrown a monkey wrench into things this morning. Tomorrow’s post will be late, too, because I have a morning meeting.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth, for the latest on the garden. And if you didn’t see Monday’s post about Flexibility on the GDR site, it’s here. I’m working on the questions for 2020, and they will be posted soon.

It’s been a tough week. We miss Lucy terribly. Tessa steps up, trying to take care of everyone in the household, but she misses Lucy, too.

One of my clients was at a luncheon with the head of Bide-A-Wee, where I adopted several of my cats when I lived in NYC. She got us in touch, and Leslie looks forward to helping me find the next member of our feline family when we’re ready. It means going to NY, but I’m established with Bide-A-Wee, and they don’t automatically mark every cat as “must be only pet” as they do here.

We are, of course, open to a cat coming to us from another source, but it’s nice to know we have options.

The writing has been a struggle. I’m close to the end of this draft of GRAVE REACH and am pushing through. I’m working slowly but steadily on ELLA BY THE BAY. I’m working slowly and not quite as steadily on “Pier-less Crime”. I’ve also been playing with another idea that’s pulled at me and pulled at me.

I have a meeting early tomorrow morning. I like what I know of the company, but wasn’t thrilled with the interactions with the person I’ll be talking to tomorrow. We’ll see. I’m getting jaded. Most of these appointments are a complete waste of time. They’re about putting quotas into the statistics column, not actually finding the right person for an assignment or a marketing campaign. It’s a waste of time.

I’m getting more and more frustrated with A2 hosting. Now, when I have a question, I have to jump through multiple levels of “security” that has nothing to do with actual security and everything to do with asking me questions that are none of their damn business. Not to mention not actually reading my questions and answering them. Or providing any actual security against spam or anything else. Any random hacker can do whatever they want to my sites. But me? The owner who actually pays for them? Not so much.

A social media contact sent me the link to an article about how A2 has had security breaches since May of this year and isn’t fixing them. Yeah, that’s about when the problems started.

So I’m back to interviewing hosts again. I like what I see and hear so far with Site Ground. I want to have a more detailed conversation with them and maybe move everything over in a few months.

Working on LOIs and some more article pitches. Just so, so weary and sad.

But the Fearless Ink Twitter account I started to keep the business writing part of my social media life separate from everything else is working out well. And the Remote Chat yesterday was tons of fun, as usual. I feel very lucky with these colleagues.

Yesterday, September 11, was difficult, as it is every year. What was especially sickening was that the Narcissistic Sociopath tried to make it all about him, and those damn GOP hypocrites, talking about honor and remembrance, when just a few weeks ago, they tried to deny health care to those who came in and worked on the pile. I hope they all burn in hell for eternity.

I’m nearly finished reading Nancy Martin’s Blackbird Sisters mysteries. They are a lot of fun. I like her writing. It has a lot of energy, warmth, and humor in it. Plus, she’s a good plotter. It’s also fun to read books set in an area I know — Philadelphia and Bucks County.

I made chocolate chip cookies last night just because. Sometimes, you just need a chocolate chip cookie.

Back to the page.

Published in: on September 12, 2019 at 9:08 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Sept. 12, 2019: Trying to Get Back on Track  
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