Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and mild

IMG_0006

I put this photo in just because I could. It’s the beach/boardwalk about a mile from my apartment.

Books for Monsters released ahead of schedule. They’ve run my action/adventure tale “The Retriever”, set in London. You can read it here.

Hop on over to the SDR blog and check out my piece “Revision is More Than Spell Check.” It points out some of the most common mistakes writers miss when they do what they call “revision”, which, more often than not, is just running a piece through spell check.

Went to Costco to pick up a few things, did the grocery shopping, worked on client projects yesterday.

I left early for White Plains to sign up for Apple’s One-on-One program — only to discover that I’m not eligible! You have to purchase it WITH the computer, or within a fourteen day window. I blew it. It’s only my fault — I remember the guy who sold me the computer telling me about it, but I was on information overload at that point and it didn’t sink in. Plus, being used to the tactics of Dell and Microsoft, where they’re constantly trying to get as much money out of you as possible without giving you what you actually want and need — I was suspicious. I was heart-broken when I found out I couldn’t sign up. The poor guy who broke the news to me was afraid I’d weep all over his shoes. But I didn’t. Further discussion indicates that the program is too structured to fit my needs anyway, and not as individualized as i want, plus you can’t make up lessons. So, if I was away for a week, too bad for me. You can’t really complain, at that price point, but I need something more individualized. So I have to find someone I can hire outside of one of the programs whenever I need to learn something, and I’ll take as many of the free workshops at the store as I can.

The iPages workshop was FANTASTIC. There were only two of us, so we managed to get in-depth, and I learned so much. I’m delightfully shocked by the versatility of iPages. It makes Word look like a behemoth dinosaur dying in the tar pits. When I came home, I designed the postcard for DIXIE DUST RUMORS, taking what I learned from the iPhoto workshop and the iPages workshop, and got it done in TEN MINUTES. It’s never taken me less than several hours in Microsoft, mostly because the various programs didn’t do what I needed and wouldn’t talk to each other. I’m astonished. The “Inspector” function lets me do and integrate just about anything. I still really don’t understand “Alpha”, but the teacher swore by it, and I’ll figure it out.

I want to tweak the text a bit, but that has nothing to do with the programs.

We worked on newsletters — Devon’s Random Newsletter will be even better next month. And envelopes. And a whole bunch of other stuff.

I started the Jain Lazarus brochure, and i’ll work on the Fearless Ink brochure today — I need to import some graphics from the PC, because I want to use the old graphics, but they’re from XP and not in Word for Mac. So I guess I’ll learn how to do that today.

When I got home, I played with MobileMe. I still don’t really get it, but at least I can use it better.

I also designed a proposal for something I call Apple Flex, an individual lesson program on several tiers, and pitched it to Apple’s corporate office. Nothing may come of it, but at least I was pro-active.

I can’t take any workshops this weekend, because of the Belmont Stakes and the Tony Awards, but maybe next week, I’ll do some more. The basic Mac workshop would be a huge help, I think. I still only know about 5% of what this system can do. And I don’t understand the Safari browser AT ALL. I use Firefox — especially since I can’t get into my websites via Safari.

I had a great morning’s work on the Matty book, and I’m getting ready to work on a pitch, a proposal, and get back to the serial.

Back to the page.

Devon

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Only one Retrograde. Hooray!

I can’t believe it’s June already.

Guess what I’m going tonight? Taking a computer workshop! I’m very excited. I’m hauling the Macbook to White Plains and taking a class on iPhoto. I lost most of Saturday afternoon trying to work with photos (okay, so there were over 2100 photos, but still). I couldn’t articulate to AppleCare what I needed, and, bless them, they tried to help me, but I was beyond help by that point. So I looked up the local store and saw they have a workshop on iPhoto today and on iPages on Wednesday. I’m taking both. It’s going to help me enormously.

So what did I do yesterday? Glad you asked. We were on the road before 7 AM on our way to Lenox, MA. We took the Merritt Parkway to Bridgeport and then took Rt. 8 all the way up to MA, only switching over to 20W a few miles away. I was afraid it would be a tiny, annoying road. Most of it wasn’t, and the tiny road portion wasn’t annoying.

I expected it to take forever, but it took us 2 1/2 hours. We arrived in Lenox far too early — The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home, wasn’t even open yet. So we parked in front of the beautiful Lenox Library and walked around. Good thing the library was closed — had it been open, I would have parked myself in there and never left. I may have to return to Lenox just to go to the library one day.

We got coffee at an amazing bakery called Haven — if I hadn’t eaten a huge breakfast, I would have tried their Eggs Benedict (since I am an Eggs Benedict addict). As it was, we took the coffee and sat in a park filled with blooming lilac bushes for a half hour.

We headed back to The Mount, arriving shortly after opening. I wasn’t in the mood for a guided tour — I just kind of wanted to wander around. The volunteers are fabulous anyway, and they tell you all kinds of stories about the various rooms. I remember when Shakespeare & Company used to perform there — I wanted to work there one summer, but I was on Broadway, and, at that point, couldn’t ask for a leave of absence, because they’d already granted me leaves to take my shows to Edinburgh and Australia — it was time to let someone else have a turn – -which is totally fair.

The house is only partially restored — I hadn’t realized how recently they started work. The restoration that’s been done is wonderful. The atmosphere is that of light and air — colors and fabrics supporting the light streaming in from the large windows. It’s the kind of house one could really see oneself LIVING in.

My only surprise was how small the library was. It’s beautifully designed, and the bookshelves are amazing, but I expected it to be bigger. Since Wharton did most of her writing in bed, I guess it didn’t need to be!

The gardens are amazing, and I spent most of my time there — combination of French and Italian design, with the Italian influence dominant. Just beautiful – the way they descend from the house, and the view of the lake.

I could imagine working in many of the rooms in the house, and then taking the Macbook out to work on the terrace, which folds around the back and sides of the house, or in the gardens, especially the walled gardens. It’s an easy place in which to be creative, and I found myself scribbling a lot of notes!

The bookstore is great, but, much to my surprise, I discovered that I own about 2/3 of the books they carry! And not just the novels of Edith Wharton and Henry James, but the gardening book, too (although most of those are in storage).

I started Hermione Lee’s biography of Wharton when it first came out — now I’m going to go back and read it all through.

I wound up buying a book called BERKSHIRE READER, filled with stories, essays, and journal entires about the area from the late 1600s all the way to the 1990s — I’m looking forward to that. And I bought a program/catalog from an event used to raise money for the property. I also bought soap, handmade by a local woman — it smelled so good, I had to have some. She uses only essential oils, etc., and you can tell. I bought on bar of rose geranium and one of rosemary. Rosemary soap is my favorite, so I always buy that when I see it. I paid far too much for both, but it was one of those instances where I don’t think I’ll feel that way when I use it!

Back into Lenox for lunch. I’d researched several restaurants. One, Church Street Cafe, turns out to be closed on Sundays, which took it immediately off the list. We ended up at Bistro Zinc. I’d heard good things about it. I was a little worried, when we walked in, that it was trying to be too trendy, and the staff was in black — people, we area not in the East Village, you don’t have to dress as though we are. But once we were settled in the bar (the dining room was full), it was actually quite comfortable. The staff was REALLY nice, and not fake-nice, either. There was even a couple at the bar reading the Sunday NEW YORK TIMES and drinking champagne cocktails, which I thought was fun.

It was a nice mixed crowd — locals, even with their kids, and those on their way to a matinee at the theatre. The place was crowded, but we never felt like we were being rushed. The food was exquisite — I had trout with rice and green beans, and a glass of chardonnay I actually liked (I’m not big on chardonnay). My travelling companion had a burger with bacon and cheese and terrific fries (of which I ate half). There were at least six or seven things on the menu that sounded fabulous, out of about twelve. And the other five were knocked out of contention only because they were things I could cook at home, and one of the things I do at restaurants is order stuff I don’t make at home.

Then, we visited The Bookstore, the town’s independent bookstore, run by a guy who used to work at my beloved Gotham Bookmart here in NY. It’s a fabulous bookstore, and again, the staff was really nice. Everyone we met was really nice in Lenox, friendly, unhurried without being lethargic, and interested in conversation. There’s a big arts community up there — Tanglewood, Shakespeare & Company, Jacob’s Pillow — lots of writers and literary events, and a big holistic community. Really great.

I found the YA book I’d wanted to buy down here but couldn’t remember the title or author, just the cover. Turns out it’s called THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY. I started it last night and it’s fun, which is nice, because the book I’d started the night before, after finishing the enjoyable DEATH BY CHICKLIT, was just plain annoying.

We got back by about five, so the cats weren’t too furious with us — well, Violet was, but she thinks I should never leave the house. I had a nice quiet evening watching hockey and went to bed early.

The cats got me up ridiculously early this morning, and I’m having a slow start. A bunch of stories are whirling around my head, some of them inspired by yesterday’s trip. I have to sort things out today, catch up on everything I missed yesterday (since I didn’t even turn on the computer), and get some client work done before this afternoon’s class. I also need to get to Trader Joe’s this morning, because there’s only one can of cat food left, and they are not amused to see the cupboard so bare.

Good morning’s work on the Matty book. The serial was harder; I only got about half of what I wanted to get done written, but it’s better than nothing.

I probably won’t get the May wrap and the June to-do list up on the GDR site until tomorrow.

Devon

Serial, 1st draft: 6,945 words out of 50,000