Tues. May 17, 2022: This, That, and Other

image courtesy of monicore via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and cool

So it was Mercury Retrograde chaotic. Friday morning, after my first writing session on the porch, I decided to do the script coverage in the morning, so I’d have a longer weekend, but it all took longer than expected. Plus, it took an hour to get the computer limping along again. I also cleaned out the refrigerator, which was a bigger job than I expected, but it’s clean and shiny and we got rid of those bits and bobs that tend to take up residence in the back of the shelves and morph into scary monsters.

By afternoon, I was tired, even though the work wasn’t that difficult. I read on the porch, played with the cats, fussed over the plants. We’re having wasp issues this year, again. I managed to kill one of them; according to MOTHER NATURE’S HERBAL, I can use sugar water to get rid of them. If it continues to be an issue, that is what I will do.

I was actually happy for most of the day. I’ve been almost afraid to be happy since the move, afraid the other shoe would drop and something else awful would happen. But we are happy here. This was the right move. We love the home, we enjoy the city, there’s a lot for which to be grateful and to enjoy every day. I need to allow myself to experience that instead of being afraid of it.

My mom turned over her winter clothes for her summer clothes. Willa “helped” – which was pretty hilarious.

I made a simple dinner of breaded flounder, rice, and steamed vegetables for dinner, and we had gelato for dessert. Time to stock up on the gelato!

Rough night again of strange dreams and waking up with stress memory. Charlotte has decided she prefers to sleep either stretched out along my back or curled up against my chest. Which is sweet, except it’s a little too hot for that. That’s more of a winter thing!

Up early on Saturday, another sunny and hot day. I wrote on the porch, with Tessa for company. After yoga, I switched out the flannel sheets for bamboo sheets, and switched out the comforters.

McAfee forced me to renew the virus protection (nearly a month early). They gave me a “discount” and then I had to uninstall the old version and install the new version and restart the computer (which was having screen freezes anyway). When it all got fired up again – every screen looks completely different. Every feature runs differently. I assume that’s part of Windows11. I haven’t decided how I feel about it yet – I mean, it’s a sleeker, more modern look – but it’s different and I have to get used to it.

Did a bunch of paperwork that had to go out on Monday. Signed up for Counter Social. I’m @DevonEllington over there.

Usual Saturday housework stuff.

If you missed the Self-Care for Mercury Retrograde oracle spread over on Ko-fi, you can find it here.

Made potato salad and put some chicken in the crockpot with honey barbecue sauce. Switched from flannel sheets to bamboo sheets, and put away the winter comforter for the summer, rose-patterned one (Charlotte’s favorite). Fussed over the plants, including changing the water in the birdbath. Put together two of the three small shelf units I bought. They’re much nicer in person than they look on the package. The third unit is missing a shelf, so I had to return it yesterday.

These two small units are for my tarot cards, only I don’t think they will all fit, and I’ll still need to use some space in the blue bookcase (where they all used to live, in the other house, but where I also have writing books and poetry books now in my office).

Finished repotting the rest of the plants bought last week, repotted the last Cape Cod geranium, and planted some more seeds: the new morning glory, cat grass, some marigold seeds sprinkled in with the ruby cherry tomato we bought.

The college across the street had their graduation on Saturday, and it was a beautiful day for it. It was joyful in the neighborhood, although one young woman, wearing shorts and a tee shirt under her robe (and high heels), walked by and said, “Oh, my God! I just realized it’s all over. What am I going to do with the rest of my life?”

As someone who knew what I wanted by the time I was six, that made me laugh.

The neighbor across the street put rows of solar lights along the path to the front steps. Which is great, I love that they’re decorating. However, at night, it kind of looks like a landing strip!

We discussed the various road trips that have been on the table, that we hoped to do this summer. We decided to cancel the trip to Ithaca. It was supposed to be a pilgrimage to Moosewood Restaurant, but they keep having to close for a few days here and there as their staff tests positive for COVID. Which means their patrons are being selfish and going out to eat while positive. Even with outdoor seating, it’s not worth the risk. We’ll put it off, and see how things are in fall, or next summer. We’d also considered doing a quick hop to York, Maine, just for an overnight. But, with the variants being more dangerous for those over 60, even with double boosting, we’re not comfortable doing an overnight in a hotel, even if we can get our favorite pizza in the area as takeout. So that’s cancelled (although we have the sneaking suspicion we’ll have to head that way for a funeral at some point over the summer; a family member is not doing well).

I still hope to do a back-and-forth with friends to Beacon. I’d like to visit there, and would love them to visit here. I’m still hoping to do a day trip over to Saratoga during race season to visit with friends there whom I haven’t seen since before we moved to the Cape.

My mom really wants to do a couple of small trips, since she’s basically been in isolation for going on three years now. So we picked a few places nearby and will do short day trips. And I’ve got a book of unusual places right here in the Berkshires we can visit. We didn’t really get a chance to explore much last summer, because we were so traumatized and exhausted by the move.

Plus, with a season pass for Windsor Lake, we can pop up there whenever we want.

If we take our jaunts midweek, it won’t be as crowded. We won’t eat indoors; we’ll get takeout and eat in a park or something. The great thing about freelance is that if I take off a day midweek, I just work a weekend day, and, as long as I meet my deadlines, it doesn’t matter when the work is done, as long as it gets done. When we return, we will follow decontamination protocols, and we will continue to mask indoors. I mean, not at home, but I’m still masking at the grocery store, library, anywhere else I go inside. And when we travel, we will do the same.

So that discussion and those plans took a lot of stress out of the mix. We won’t be able to get a storage run in before Memorial Day, so maybe we’ll do one in early June, and then nothing until autumn again. I’m hoping I can get enough work this summer so I can afford to rent a storage unit up here and move everything up. If I can even find a storage unit up here. But the prices listed are much less than I’m paying on Cape, and it certainly would be easier to get at things. And maybe store things seasonally.

Dug into my Elizabethan theatre research again, for a long-time idea that might, later this year, be ready to form, if I tweak it into an alternate universe, instead of making it historical. An idea on a book about Jonson and his masques gave me an idea for an arc for The Big Project, should I decide that the initial arcs are strong enough to support continuing. (That will all make sense when I publicly announce what The Big Project actually is).

I have to figure out when I can make an appointment at the Williamstown Historical Society so that I can do some more research into the history of The Spruces for the Retro Mystery. I’m pretty sure I want to write it for this year’s National Novel Writing Month in November.

The eclipse energy started hitting me in the evening, and my emotions were all over the place.

Tessa let me sleep until 6:30 Sunday morning, which was wonderful. It’s light enough and warm enough now to do my first writing session of the day (in longhand) on the front porch, and once she’s had her breakfast, Tessa joins me. The scout crows stop by and we all have our morning chat. Tessa has developed a really strong relationship with the two scout crows. They chat every morning. And it’s not like the birds she wants to catch, out back, with the swishing tail and the predatory body language; it’s a chat.

Still having trouble with the computer. It takes an hour to boot up every morning, even from sleep mode. Then it takes about 20 minutes to start running properly, without freezing screens. If I take a break for a few minutes, with the laptop lid up and it goes into screensaver mode, it takes 20-40 minutes to rev back up. Usually, if I take longer breaks, I put the lid down to protect the keyboard from cats and dust, but then I have to start the whole hour boot-up process again.

This is not okay. It cuts in too much of my workday. How is this an “improvement” or an “upgrade”? I have PLENTY of space on the hard drive for this upgrade.

I got the email for the World’s Largest Poem, giving me the heads-up that I will get my prompt in 7-10 days. So excited to be a part of this.

Edited three chapters on CAST IRON MURDER. The pace, the flow, the story, are all working, thank goodness. Updated my tracking sheets, too.

Took “Personal Revolution” down and will revise it so it can work on more platforms. Since it’s set around the 4th of July, I want to make sure it’s clear of all the previous outlets before the re-re-release. Looking at it, it needs more revision than I’d hoped.

Updated the Devon Ellington Work site.

Finished reading TO MARRY AND TO MEDDLE by Martha Waters, which was kind of fun. The theatre/backstage scenes were done particularly well, and I appreciated that.

Started John Scalzi’s THE KAIJU PRESERVATION SOCIETY, which promises to be one of his typical wild rides.

We had thunderstorms, so I took down the hanging baskets, worried they would get pounded. Students are moving into the ground floor unit across the street; I wonder if they’re there just for the summer, or are staying all year.

Up early on Monday, thanks to Tessa. The computer actually booted up pretty quickly. Got some blogging done, and put up the GDR post for the week, which you can read here. Started revisions on “Personal Revolution.” It needs more work than I’d hoped, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Revised three more chapters for CAST IRON MURDER. Got the inbox down from over 1000 emails to just over 200. Looked at some calls for submission. Did some admin.

The morning was gorgeous, and I got out and did errands: returned the shelf unit missing a shelf for a refund (they’d sold out of the units, so I couldn’t just swap it out); dropped off/picked up books at the library; went to the liquor store.

Found out that Berkshire Gas is doing their inspection of the lines today (the one where I’d been trying to get actual information for weeks, and finally just turned it over to the landlord). They may or may not have to come into the apartment. Which meant I spent the afternoon cleaning instead of working. Not that the place is dirty (I mean, I cleaned over the weekend). But still. I wanted it to be even better. I mean, we still haven’t unpacked everything yet, and we’ve lived here for nearly a year.

Finished reading John Scalzi’s THE KAIJU PRESEERVATION SOCIETY, which was a wild ride. I don’t know how he does it, but that brain of his is certainly unique. Read THE AMBER CROWN, by Jacey Bedford, which was a much grittier alternate world fantasy than one usually gets. Started THE BONE ORCHARD by Sara A Mueller, which is fascinating.

Thunderstorms and intense rain came through in the afternoon and evening. But it’s absolutely gorgeous this morning.

The MADE IN MARSEILLES cookbook arrived yesterday. The jerk of a postman (I think our former, lovely postman retired) also left a package for 10 numbers down the street with my package. So I went down the street (in the rain) to make sure they got it. Our former postman loved his job and all the people on his route. This one doesn’t give a crap about any of it, and doesn’t even pretend otherwise.

Doing some last-minute cleaning this morning, and taking the garbage out. Then, it’s back to the page in the morning, knowing I could be interrupted at any point for the inspection. We’ve closed the doors to the bedrooms and the laundry room, and the cats are very confused.

I hope to work on revisions for CAST IRON MURDER, The Big Project, and the radio plays today, along with some script coverage. Tomorrow morning, the car goes back in, hopefully, to be fixed once and for all.

I’m hoping to even work outside on the back balcony, in one of our enchanted garden spots. I’m pretty sure if I do, Willa will want to come out, and we’ll put her in her playpen for safety.

I’m not talking about the three mass murders by gun over the weekend, or how the Supreme Court continues to force its ideological agenda on the country. This post is long enough. That will wait for a different day.

Have a good one, friends.

Thurs. Jan. 6, 2022: The Sense of Time Running Out

image courtesy of anncapictures via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Cloudy, windy, cold

Twelfth Night

Next winter holiday cycle (2022 into 2023), I need to figure out how to earn enough so I can schedule time off from the Winter Solstice through the first week of January. I don’t know if it’s pandemic fatigue, burnout, car stress, or a combination, but I’m having a difficult time getting going this year. The Uranus, Venus, and upcoming Mercury retrogrades aren’t helping.

There’s a post on Gratitude and Growth about the seed catalogs.

The crows fly past for their morning visit, but it was the regular murder, not the murderati, and they weren’t upset, so whatever the threat was seems to be gone.

I coaxed the car to the grocery store, did a big shop, and managed to get back. Still trying to find a mechanic to fix it. It was stressful to coax the car there and back.

Too many people sneezing and coughing in the store, although everyone I saw was masked. On the one hand, one wants to judge them for not staying home. On the other hand, there’s no grocery delivery around here, and a lot of people are on their own, with no one who can help them.  They HAVE to go to the grocery store.

There were a lot of empty shelves at the store. Big brands, not local ones. Some of the trucks were caught up in the I-95 snow debacle and still haven’t made it up. But I got what I needed, most of what I wanted, and forgot a few things that had me kicking myself when I got back.

I was exhausted by the time I got back, and it was still morning. I got everything in just before the rain started, so at least that timing worked.

Then, some sort of siren went off. Not like someone’s house alarm, but an actual town-wide warning siren. Only I had no idea what it could be since this city isn’t great at communicating, something I hope the new mayor will fix. It was raining, but not tornado weather, so it couldn’t be the tornado siren. The sluice gates were open, so it was unlikely to flood. And no one was worried; everyone just went about their business. So I figured I shouldn’t worry, either.

But it’s stressful to hear a siren go off and not know why.

They’re considering closing schools in Pittsfield because of COVID spikes – but not switching to remote learning, which is majorly effed up.

Today is the year anniversary of the attempted coup by the Narcissistic Sociopath. And there are still too many people out there who should be in jail. I don’t want a “speech” from Garland. I want the traitors punished. None of this crap about how “it takes time” to build the case. First of all, it was broadcast live. Second, we don’t HAVE the time. Get it done or step aside for someone who will.

On a personal level, the fact that it happened on January 6th angers me, because Twelfth Night/Epiphany is a joyous day in my personal calendar.

Well, it will be joyous again if someone would ever do something about holding these traitors accountable. All they do is nothing, which emboldens the traitors.

I didn’t get any work done on The Big Project, and it threw off my entire day. I was out of sorts. I’ve been unsettled since the start of the year anyway, but skipping writing days on these projects makes it worse.

Struggled with the script coverages, and didn’t get enough done, so I have to finish today, while taking down the decorations. I’d hoped to bake a King Cake, but I don’t really have time.

A job description landed in my inbox, for a part-time, remote copywriting position wanting someone “feminine.” WTF does that have to do with writing good marketing copy? And whose definition of feminine” is being used? Some old white man’s? Talk about insulting.

Made a ham pot pie with leftovers. Don’t want to waste anything. It’s like a chicken pot pie, only using ham, cream of celery soup, vegetables, garlic, and onion, and topping it with a Bisquick crust. It was really good, but I’m not happy with the way the oven is calibrated. Outer edges brown quickly while middles underbake.

Befana night is being included in our holiday celebration schedule, so this morning, little gifts were at the breakfast plates. Large crystals, this year.

The computer was cranky this morning. I had to shut everything down and boot it all back up. It took for damn ever. This PC is not even two years old. My Mac worked well most of the time for ten years.

I have meditation group (thank goodness, maybe it will help me be less scattered). Then, I have to finish a script coverage, take down decorations, put dinner in the crockpot, read and write up another script coverage, take down more decorations. I’d planned not to write on the Big Project today, but I still feel unsettled. Hopefully, the power will stay on until I get out my coverages.

Some poor soul in the neighborhood has a car alarm that keeps going off. I was worried it was mine, but it’s not.

I was requested for a coverage to read a revision of a script I liked, but on which I had a few suggestions. I’m honored that the writer wants me to take a look at the revision.

I need to figure out how to rework my time on things. I just can’t knock things out as fast as I used to. It’s very frustrating, and I hope it’s just pandemic brain and not something worse. But whatever it is, I have to adjust and make it work for the work.

Have a good one.

Published in: on January 6, 2022 at 8:29 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 6, 2022: The Sense of Time Running Out  
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Wed. June 27, 2012: Busy

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Wrote 3 PSA scripts, two press releases, outlined two articles, sent out interview requests, distributed a press release, pitched a series of articles, and worked on the ebook. Assisted in setting up a shoot for Thursday for one of the PSAs I wrote. Found out that the check that’s two weeks late probably hasn’t even been mailed yet. Frustrated with one organization — they have an exclusivity clause, so I don’t teach the same class for X months on either side of my commitment to them anywhere else. Totally understandable. Yet, they are booking instructors with classes similar to each other (and mine) very closely together — and there are even people using the titles that I originated. Without paying for the class, I don’t know how similar the material is to mine — I’m sure all our teaching styles are very different. And yes, all my materials and handouts are copyrighted. In the classes I’ve taken there, there’s not much writing involved. In the classes I teach, I demand that they write every day. But I’m not happy abut the whole situation. It’s not good for any of the teachers — it dilutes all of our classes. Offer one of each type of class per quarter, not a half a dozen of the same type of class. Saw somebody listed to teach a class on juggling writing and life — who couldn’t keep up in one of my classes and dropped out. The fact that someone who couldn’t successfully juggle is teaching a class on the topic just floors me. Not fulfilling one’s commitment does not equate with successfully juggling, in my eyes. But, that’s the way it goes. You gotta shrug and move on, or it’ll drive you crazy.

Reading a trilogy by another writer and the inconsistencies are driving me batty! Even if the writer didn’t catch all the logistical errors, where were the editors? Someone needs my Series Bible class! 😉

Revised three chapters of HEART SNATCHER. This is a quick revision for reshaping — I’ll go back in August and do another one in more detail. This revision makes it more of a paranormal mystery, a tighter-paced, tighter-focused read, and I have to decide if that’s what I want for the trilogy, or if I want to go back to the bigger canvas of social and political issues. It’ll be interesting to read the two drafts side-by-side and see which is the stronger book.

We had some cracking good thunderstorms here yesterday afternoon. The cats weren’t too happy, and some of the smaller plants needed to be rescued, but, overall, I love being inside with a good Cape Cod storm outside!

My computer was a little unhappy — making noise and getting hot — so I shut it down for the duration of the thunderstorm. Gotta keep the Macbook happy!

Poked around in Scrivener. Basically, it’s iPages on steroids with spiffier graphics. In other words, I don’t need it. And there’s no reason why material done in Scrivener can’t be posted in Standard Manuscript Format — you can set up the template to work in it. Yet again, more excuses without foundation from students (not in the year-long, though, they’ve all got the finish line in sight and are doing a great job at this point).

Meeting last night was good — lots done in an hour, just the way I like it. Came home and watched NEWSROOM again. Still loved it, although I caught a couple of continuity errors this time around and the music swelling under some of the speeches didn’t work for me. But I still can’t wait to see the next episode. And I don’t often say that about something on TV!

Up early this morning. Wrote a few pages in longhand on the magical realism piece (with Tessa on the deck) and then wrote a little over 2000 words on a contemporary piece. I like the contemporary — I find it both exciting and restful to work on. Am about to tackle three more chapters on HEART SNATCHER revisions, and then go back to the articles, pull some stuff together for tomorrow’s video shoot, and draft a cover letter for a client. Before looking around to see if there’s anything else worth pitching towards. I’m tempted to throw my hat in the ring for an editing job, but not sure I have the patience to work in the genre they need. Depends on the money — they meet my rate, I’ll give it a go. They try to lowball me and I refuse.

Back to the page!


Learn how to create focused scenes with impact in the Scene Meat workshop, July 9-13. Learn how to create and maintain a series bible in a one-day seminar on July 14. Take both classes together and save $15!

And don’t forget — “Town Crier” is available, as a free download, on the Jain Lazarus site until July 9.

Tues. Jan. 10, 2012: Recovering from the Party

Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Last Day of Full Moon
Cloudy and cold

I’m back! Good to be home! I’m fighting a cold, but, that’s the way it goes.

Got a lot of work done on Friday, and then it was party prep.

Friday night’s party was a ton of fun. Eighteen people in the little house, lots of food, drink, and laughter. Everyone talked to everyone, and got along. The food was good, the decorations looked good, we’d set up the buffet tables to work with the natural flow of the house — one could basically graze one’s way through the house. Turns out one of my colleagues at the Marine Life Center is the niece of the owner of the house!

Tessa Houdini slipped her harness twenty minutes in, but was much happier roaming and playing extra hostess. She never tried to dash out the door as people came and went. She had a blast, because everyone adored her. The other two hid.

We cleaned up after it was over and pulled down the boxes for the holiday decorations before going to bed.

I woke up feeling like I could sleep for a week. But we started taking down the decorations. It took all day, but they’re packed and put away. And a trip to the dump to get all the party debris out.

Then it was packing for the trip and leftovers, which was all we had the energy to heat up.

Up early Sunday morning, loaded the car, on the road a little after eight. Stopped in Niantic for some books (always a treat) and in Old Saybrook, where I found a few little things, then on to Greenwich. Dropped Costume Imp off at the train and my mom at her site.

Found out I the site has now locked wireless access, so I couldn’t use my own computer. I HAD to get online, so I borrowed a computer and caught up with students. Some of them are pushing boundaries — I am not on call 24/7, nor am I required to explain where I am, AND I’m allowed to take off a day here and there, just like anyone else. At the same time, I appreciate that they want to make sure I’m not lying in a ditch somewhere. One of the students, however, pulled an absolutely unacceptable manipulation move. To say I hit the roof is an understatement. The passive aggression and constant turmoil this individual causes must stop NOW. Line crossed. Unacceptable.

I thought I was shaking because I was so angry — turns out I was also running a fever and had chills. Broke it with good, ole-fashioned aspirin.

Up early on Sunday, back in the car. Drove straight through to the Cape — well, I had to stop for gas, but that’s it. The cats were glad I was home — it looks so bare without all the decorations! I have to do laundry and convert the big buffet table in my office back into the low workspace table and get back to the routine.

I was congested and feeling icky. Broke down and took a Sudafed, which has always been my go-to. Nothing but an upset stomach from it. So, when its term was done, I fired up the oil burner and mixed eucalyptus, tangerine, and pine oils, letting it burn for a few hours. I could breathe all night without distress.

My throat is a little scratchy, but, other than that, I seem in decent shape. Will hit the page for a few hours. I’ve also got to finish a review and type up the minutes for tonight’s meeting. Then, it’s checking in with the students in both classes. The Year-Longs are soldiering along (5 out of 12 have completed the first draft that has to be done by the end of the month). The 5-in 10-ers have their first flash fiction piece due today. Of the four pieces I’ve read so far, all four are excellent. They took the found inspiration and ran with it, kept their unique voices, and kept within the word count limits. The stories are lively and pack a punch. Good stuff! My new private student’s doing really, really well, too. I’ve got some polishing to do for tomorrow’s Webinar — I hope some of you will join me. It’ll be fun.

I’ve got a busy week ahead of me. It’ll be fun, but demanding. I’m also looking forward to next week, which I’m trying to keep very quiet.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Long Pasture Sanctuary

Saturday, April 9, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth to read about my adventures in soil. And see photographs of the work I’ve done this week. It’s been a trip, let me tell you. All part of the learning curve, right?

Yesterday was an up and down day, emotionally. I really struggled to focus. I just felt about as creative as wilted lettuce, and didn’t wanna. Unfortunately, due to my schedule, “didn’t wanna” is not an option right now. I had a bad case of the blues, for no good reason. Nothing’s wrong. I’m just tired. And we’re in multiple retrogrades again, which just gets wearing after awhile.

And then, I went to work on the edits for ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT — and my editor’s notes had vanished from the margins. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get them back. She could see them just fine in her copy of the document, but they didn’t show up on mine. I called Apple Care, and they suggested that, since I created it on a Mac, she worked on it on a PC, and it came back to a Mac, it had gotten corrupted. So she cut and pasted the file to a new document and re-sent it. Still nothing.

Finally, I pulled it through Firefox and then opened it as a Word document instead of an RTF and everything’s there, and I can work from it. Now, I have to remember to ONLY open it as a word document, because if I open it in its RTF form, I lose everything. But it will still save as RTF (I’m going to save a copy in Word) to send back.


But I’m getting into the groove of the edits, and having an editor who is enthusiastic about the book helps a lot.

View towards Sandy Neck from Long Pasture

I took a break in the late morning and we went to Long Pasture Sanctuary, over in Barnstable. It’s beautiful! I also got to meet some of the new baby goats, who are just adorable, and have very distinct little personalities. I’m surprised by how affectionate they are. And the sanctuary also has its share of hollies, which makes me happy. I just love hollies.

After our walk, we drove to Sandwich and picked up some gardening stuff, including a small table and two small chairs out of eucalyptus wood for the porch. They’re prettier than anything we’ve seen so far and in our budget. We still have to find chairs, but now that we’ve found this set, we have something to sit on out there, and can add complimentary pieces around it. We also looked at some small plant tables we may go back and get, for the pots we want to keep on the deck.

Hopped over the Sagamore Bridge to get gas ($3.69/gallon, but still cheaper there than most other places) and found a discount store with large glazed and terra cotta pots at a much lower price than anywhere else. Even factoring in the gas, it’s worth the trip. So, I’ll probably go back there to get the pots for the herbs when it’s time. The tomato cages were too big — we couldn’t have gotten them in the car.

I still run out of energy very quickly since I was sick, so I had to rest for awhile when we got back. Didn’t get out into the yard to do anything.

Managed to catch up on my students’ work in the evening — for some reason, the loop didn’t come through properly the day before, so I had to scramble to play catch-up.

Today, I’m working on taxes some more, and then I hope to get pansies and put them in along the front. It’s supposed to be warm for the next few days, so I want to hook up the hoses front and back and get that sorted out, clean up the front beds, etc. I’d like to get some planters and some heather, but I don’t know if that’s in the budget quite yet.

Bit by bit, piece by piece. Whether it’s letting the pages you write stack up for a book, or doing the gardening, the little bits add up to bigger bits.

Just had to delete over 20 ridiculous spam messages pretending to be legitimate “conversational” posts in the comments of March posts. Part of the gig, right? That’s why there’s a “spam” button on the comment moderation page. Irritating, time consuming, but part of the deal.


MacGeorge and I are Limping Along

So, MacGeorge and I are limping along. I’ve spent hours and hours and hours today tweaking. Instead of calling Apple Care and getting the wrong information, I’m asking the computer questions and poking around adjusting stuff.

Unfortunately, every time one thing is adjusted, it means something else fails (the latest is that if I hit “ignore” on Spell Check, the only thing it ignores is ME, not the word).

But I printed out some stuff, got out a submission that’s due and three queries, and we are getting by.

I’m still upset and depressed, but, since it’s obvious I’m not going to get any help from the company that created this poor thing, it’s up to the computer and I to figure it out. It may have Artificial Intelligence, but I’ve got to focus more on the “intelligence” part and less on the “artificial”.

Published in: on August 16, 2009 at 2:31 pm  Comments (4)  
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Overcast and humid

I scheduled my Sole Struck Fashions post on the Fall Season to go up this morning, but, heaven forbid it actually posted. And I can’t post from this computer, because the text is on my other computer and I can’t use a flashdrive on this one.

I’m doing this from the computer on site, since they didn’t leave me the password for the wireless. I can’t transfer work from my computer to this one, but at least I can get online here, since I’m not dashing home to feed the cats this a.m.

And 1and1 has been down for a couple of days, so I haven’t been able to access my email. Some of it I managed to pull through a different server, but most of it came through as gibberish, so I can’t deal with it until I get home and can use my own computer on my own hookup.

Which may or may not be tomorrow, since tomorrow is the big switch from Verizon to Optimum and I bet you, dollars to doughnuts, that Verizon shuts me off at midnight and I won’t have internet until Optimum shows up between 11 and 2 to wire me up.

On top of that, the Macbook is running poorly. It hasn’t run properly since they put the new hard drive in. And I was REALLY screwed yesterday, when I went home and tried to print out the short story for the anthology that had to go out yesterday and put in the headers. Suddenly, it won’t put in headers –not in Word, not in Pages. I’ve been putting headers into documents since I got the damned computer. Only suddenly, it won’t do so.

I call Apple Care. And I get ATTITUDE. “I’m not trained in Word, you have to call Microsoft.” Yeah, the ones who don’t help and whose “help” function is useless. And, as far as Pages — “we don’t tell you how to do things. We’re here for TECHNICAL support.”

Hey, dumbass, when it’s functioned for four months and suddenly doesn’t, it’s a TECHNICAL issue!

The Spotlight function, which searches out documents so you don’t have to go file-by-file, also isn’t working properly now. It finds the major stashes like “hard drive”, “desktop” and “documents”, but doesn’t always find individual files, which it always did before.

Who knows what else I’ll find doesn’t work as I pull up different documents? This is NOT acceptable.

I called the head office in CA. I am NOT putting up with this shit. I spent enough money on this system for it to work for more than four months. I spoke to a very nice woman who understood my concerns and frustrations, and reassures me this is not the norm for an Apple computer. I told her I have yet another Genius Bar appointment on Saturday morning at 9 AM, I am NOT taking 10 hours and driving over 2 states, and I expect to walk out of there with a computer that runs PERFECTLY. She agrees. Great, she’s nice, but agreement is not a solution, and I want a SOLUTION.

I doubt it will happen, but I’ve detailed everything in a letter to Steve Jobs, and it’s going out via certified mail tomorrow. Either Apple stands by their product and they make it right, or I want my money refunded and I’ll try yet another manufacturer.

I am NOT going through the same crap I went through with Dell for years.

So, yesterday was not a particularly productive day, although I finally managed to get the story out, although the story’s title was in the header on the right, near the page number, not the left as instructed. If that’s enough for them to reject it, then so be it.

Can you tell I am NOT a happy camper? Really, I just want to curl up into a fetal position and sob.

I cleared away the area for the cable guy to work yesterday, dismantling an entire wire-framed bookcase and the wooden shelf unit in front of it that held office supplied. I kind of like the space, so I think I’ll just set the shelf unit back. I obviously didn’t need most of the books that were in the bookcase behind it, so I’ll pack them and take them to storage.

Came back and did my site work. Not very productive, but got it done. Had another work-related event in the evening, which was fine.

Abby, the retrograde for good bargain shopping on small items and non-electronic items is Mercury, which goes into Retrograde in early September. It’s about about mixed up communication, travel delays, electronic glitches, etc., so of course, it will be in Retrograde when Costume Imp and I go to Prague! We figure as long as the plane stays in the air, we’re good, and we’ll cope with everything else. Besides, we’ll have good shopping!

I have noticed good shopping lately on household goods, which could be the effect of the Jupiter Retrograde, when it’s time to get home and hearth in order.

I feel like I’m getting sick — sore throat and swollen glands. I do not need this right now — I’m sure it’s triggered by stress.


Just a lousy week, for the most part (although I love this particular site job and look forward to coming back in early October). I will be glad to see the end of it, and greet a new week. Let’s hope it’s better, especially electronically!

Perhaps MY Mercury never went direct last time around! 😉

Brandy, Chris, thanks so much for your comments. I appreciate them.


Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 8:12 am  Comments (3)  
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This Did Not Post When Scheduled

Heaven forbid it would actually publish when WordPress promised it would — wrote and posted this Saturday night, set to post at 5 AM EST on Sundy and . . nothing.

I am rarely angry with WordPress, but this was NOT the weekend for them to fail me!

Sunday, August 9, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
No idea of the weather — writing this Saturday night

So, I think I’ve got a working computer again, but I’m finding I have to reload this and that, in spite of the Time Machine supposed full system back-ups, and I am not happy.

I am not happy that I had to spent 10 hours crossing 2 states because a FOUR MONTH old computer that’s treated better than most family members took a dive. Especially at the prices Apple charges for their computers. The personnel were pleasant, and it looks like it’s up and running, and it looks like all my files are intact — even the ones I backed up literally seconds before the drive took a dive. I lost an entire workday, which I can’t afford to do, and, had I not adamantly refused to be put off until “an appointment opened up” and dug in, I would have lost a hell of a lot of work and income.

You better believe Apple head office will hear from me — both the good and the bad.

Even at its lowest point today, it was still better than ANY experience I had with Dell.

But I had a raging headache when I got home, a missed workday/lost income on an emergency gig, used more gas dealing with this crap than I used to drive to Maine last month, and had to be up for hours finishing the prep for the site job.

Anyway, by the time you read this, I SHOULD be at the site gig, and I SHOULD be using my computer-with-its-new-hard drive — and this one better work for more than 4 months!

Thank goodness I did a backup literally seconds before the drive died, so the work I did this a.m. is intact.

I was so upset, I had to go buy books. They were on sale, so I felt less bad. A novel, a memoir, a yoga book and a book I’m not sure what it is,but it looked interesting.

I have to say, in the many hours I spent at various Apple stores across two different states, I was surprised by the number of people who’ve either dropped their iPhones down the toilet or left it out in the rain, and are shocked when that’s not covered by warranty. Since when is stupidity covered by warranty? One woman — this was the 3rd phone in ONE MONTH she destroyed — once in the toilet, once in public pool, and this time, she left it out in the rain. Must be nice to have hundreds of dollars to toss around replacing equipment you can’t handle responsibly.

It was a LOUSY day. On the way home, I stopped at the wine store and treated myself, and the prices wouldn’t scan. I said, “That sums up my whole day.”

Let’s hope today is better, shall we?


Published in: on August 10, 2009 at 9:04 am  Comments (1)  
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
No idea of the weather — writing this Saturday night

So, I think I’ve got a working computer again, but I’m finding I have to reload this and that, in spite of the Time Machine supposed full system back-ups, and I am not happy.

I am not happy that I had to spent 10 hours crossing 2 states because a FOUR MONTH old computer that’s treated better than most family members took a dive. Especially at the prices Apple charges for their computers. The personnel were pleasant, and it looks like it’s up and running, and it looks like all my files are intact — even the ones I backed up literally seconds before the drive took a dive. I lost an entire workday, which I can’t afford to do, and, had I not adamantly refused to be put off until “an appointment opened up” and dug in, I would have lost a hell of a lot of work and income.

You better believe Apple head office will hear from me — both the good and the bad.

Even at its lowest point today, it was still better than ANY experience I had with Dell.

But I had a raging headache when I got home, a missed workday/lost income on an emergency gig, used more gas dealing with this crap than I used to drive to Maine last month, and had to be up for hours finishing the prep for the site job.

Anyway, by the time you read this, I SHOULD be at the site gig, and I SHOULD be using my computer-with-its-new-hard drive — and this one better work for more than 4 months!

Thank goodness I did a backup literally seconds before the drive died, so the work I did Sat. a.m. is intact.

I was so upset, I had to go buy books. They were on sale, so I felt less bad. A novel, a memoir, a yoga book and a book I’m not sure what it is,but it looked interesting.

I have to say, in the many hours I spent at various Apple stores across two different states, I was surprised by the number of people who’ve either dropped their iPhones down the toilet or left it out in the rain, and are shocked when that’s not covered by warranty. Since when is stupidity covered by warranty? One woman — this was the 3rd phone in ONE MONTH she destroyed — once in the toilet, once in public pool, and this time, she left it out in the rain. Must be nice to have hundreds of dollars to toss around replacing equipment you can’t handle responsibly.

It was a LOUSY day. On the way home, I stopped at the wine store and treated myself, and the prices wouldn’t scan. I said, “That sums up my whole day.”

Let’s hope today is better, shall we?


Published in: on August 9, 2009 at 5:38 am  Comments Off on Sunday, August 9, 2009  
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Sorry for the link problem in yesterday’s post. I have a separate post under this one with the full and direct link.

Lara, do you mean refunds? The tax return is the paperwork WE send to THEM. It would be great if tax RETURNS were cancelled this year, but I don’t think any of us will get that lucky. Some states have told their residents that they won’t receive a refund this year on the STATE level – remember, on the FEDERAL level, all those new tax cuts as part of the stimulus (I’m not sure which tax cuts take effect when – haven’t read the bill that far). The feds HAVE to give us those. The law differs from state to state, but I believe citizens can challenge the legality of withholding state tax refunds. If citizens have overpaid their taxes, the state can’t just say “too damn bad, we’re keeping your money because we were too stupid and corrupt to manage our budget.” Whether anyone will bother to challenge this is a different story. States are receiving billions of dollars in money from the federal government – so there’s definitely a case to be made. But nothing will happen if the rank and file citizens – EVERY rank and file citizen – can’t be bothered to take fifteen minutes to tell their representatives the way it’s going to be. They are OUR employees – especially now, with this stimulus package signed into law – not the other way around.

The morning was frantic yesterday, mostly because the computer ran like crap and McAfee kept hijacking it and crashing it – yeah, eventually, I’m going to have to hire someone to come in here and surgically remove it, because it refused to uninstall or let me put in any other antivirus protection. But I got a lot done, and got out the door a little after 10:30.

Did the errands, got the assignment out to Confidential Job #1, did the grocery shopping, had lunch with my mom, spent the afternoon at a friend’s doing laundry, listening to Mozart, and reading THE NEW YORKER, then cooked dinner there for us, and headed back home to get the bag packed for today.

I’m on site job today – should be fun, won’t be online until tomorrow. I should be able to get some writing squeezed into the day, which is good, but probably won’t get back until 10 or 11 tonight.

The cats are not amused.

I’m excited about the Billy Root story again – there’s a really interesting plot twist that just came up that opens a whole new realm of possibilities for Billy. This morning’s session on the story was on fire – over 2K. I definitely have to go back and plant a few things in previous chapters, but now I see the overall arc, how it fits into the whole Jain Lazarus mythology, and how the two sections of this book fit together. Plus, Billy’s growth in the book is enormous.

Off to work. Have a great weekend!


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
21 / 60

Billy Root story – 21,571 words out of est. 60,00

Published in: on February 21, 2009 at 9:10 am  Comments (1)  
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! May a wave of love, friendship, and general good will envelop the world today! You don’t HAVE to spend a fortune – a smile to a stranger in the street costs nothing. And there are all kinds of inventive ways to show your loved ones how much they mean to you.

My story “The Peace of the Night” was accepted for the June issue of THE RANFURLY REVIEW. I’m very excited, for a number of reasons. This is one of a set of loosely connected stories I started writing in Jamieson Wolf’s workshop last October, and I’ve been working to polish and hone them over a period of months. Something about these stories and characters feels very different from anything I’ve previously written and very right. Also, I’ve wanted to be a part of THE RANFURLY REVIEW since it launched, but, until now, haven’t felt I had a piece that suited the particular publication’s vision. Once I started polishing this story, it felt like the right fit. I’m glad the editor agreed!

PJ – the automatic update WON’T turn off on the McAfee. That’s part of the problem. And uninstalling and re-installing didn’t fix the problem. Gives a whole new meaning to “The Ghost in the Machine”, right? 😉

If you haven’t checked out my debut on Sole Struck Fashions, please hop on over and leave a comment!

Nursed my poor little computer through the day, having to turn it off several times. Pitched for nearly a half a dozen jobs. Worked on the proposals. Worked on the brochures. Played with the cats – who were annoyed because they’ve barely seen me for a week. Unpacked and repacked for the weekend gig.

Read a bit in I, TOO, AM HERE, which is a compilation of excerpts from the letters of Jane Welsh Carlyle. I first came into contact with this book as a weekend guest at a family friend’s. Cold winter night by the fire, etc., etc. I searched for my own copy for over 20 years. Recently, I thought about it again and tried to track it down. Then, I opened a box in storage and discovered Strand Books tracked it down for me several years ago, and I own a copy!

I also realize that, although I know of Thomas Carlyle’s work, I’ve never actually ever READ it, a hole in my literary education that needs filling. We stopped at the house on the way to Culzean several years ago, in Scotland. It wasn’t open that day.

Reading Virginia Woolf’s diary yesterday, I came across a passage where she talks about visiting Zennor, in Cornwall. That was one of the places we visited, when we were in Cornwall. I never associated it with Virginia Woolf – I always think of St. Ives in connection with her. Zennor is tiny and somehow mysterious. I wish I could have spent more time there.

Of course, this morning, the McAfee has hijacked my computer yet again. It “updated” for over four hours yesterday – WTF is going on? And why won’t customer service fix it? And what part of “it is unacceptable to freeze, crash, and hijack my computer” is incomprehensible to them?

In any event, I started the revisions on ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT. I didn’t get very far, because, already in Chapter One, there’s huge change necessary. I don’t want it, but in order to fit the genre guidelines of the markets I’m eyeing for this particular piece, I have to make this change.

I also realized, reading over another piece of mine that’s supposed to be an historical, that I either have to radically change the characters and some of the plot to make it true to the time period, or I have to shift it into a parallel universe in order to stay true to my characters. The piece just won’t hold up as a piece of historical fiction. And the changes necessary to make it true to the period gut the heart and soul of the piece. By shifting genres, and picking it up and sticking it into a world specifically built for it, I can solve the problems.

My poor computer needed a rest, so I shut it down. Then, I lay down, planning about a twenty minute nap. However, I woke up completely groggy and disoriented two and a half hours later. Guess I was more tired than I realized!

The fantastic thing was that I woke up with the plot of a comic novel complete in my head. I’ve jotted down most of it. It’s kind of a SCARLET PIMPERNEL-COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO spoof, but with my own odd spin to it. And it’s very different from Lauren Willig’s novels. Don’t get me wrong, I love what she’s done—but this book is very different. It’s definitely something to appear under the “Ava Dunne” name – it’s got that edgy, odd humor, in spite of the historical context – to which I can be true, in this case, because it feeds into the satire of the book.

So I guess the nap was worth it.

Great yoga session earlier than usual last night, gave the cats lots of attention. They are not amused that there are suitcases and bags again in the hall. I’ve got to wind up a few more things online before I leave at 10 AM, and then it’s off to work for the weekend. I won’t be back online until sometime on Monday, which I just realized is a holiday for most people, so I hope I can get a lot done in peace and quiet. I’m hoping that Monday brings a lot of good work on the two plays looming over me and the Billy Root story.

Valentine’s Nights Part One was a lot of fun, thank you very much, and I’m looking forward to Parts Two and Three! 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, and back to the page!


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Twelfth Night
Cloudy with the temperature dropping

So what did you dream over the Twelve Days of Christmas? It’s said that, starting with the first day of Christmas, everything you dream will come true in the month aligned with the day, i.e., first day = January, second day = February, etc. Let’s just say March and April will be hectic for me if that’s true!

Today is Twelfth Night, which means of course, the beginning of Carnivale! So the Yule decorations come down and the Mardi Gras decorations go up! To replace the Yule wreath, I made a Snowflake Wreath, consisting of a white feather boa wrapped around a wreath form decorated with silver and gold stars and snowflake ribbon. That will stay up until the Spring Equinox, when I’ll replace it with the floral wreath.

Yeah, I’m kind too into decorating. Deal. 😉

I got out six queries and one submission yesterday. I already got a response back from one of the queries, telling me they’d have a decision on my status by the 10th, another response with the information I needed to make a decision on my part, and two more responses that have brought us to points of negotiation.

Massive computer problems again (familiar refrain). Tried to keep the frustration level down to a minimum. I tried Michelle’s suggestion of disk cleanup and disk defrag, but the McAfee antivirus went nuts and things were being moved all over the place and the Blue Screen of Death alternated with the White Screen of Death and the Black Screen of Death. Everything started to beep and scream and flash. It wouldn’t have surprised me to see smoke come out of the machine, although we didn’t get quite that far. I shut everything down. I managed to get use of a friend’s computer, where I re-transcribed everything that was on tape (thank goodness I hadn’t downloaded it into the computer yet) and re-created the article. I got it off. Phew. Hopefully, my delay hasn’t caused too many problems.

Managed to keep on top of yesterday’s email and started catching up with some of the backlog.

I also went through about three years’ worth of magazines, pulled out what I wanted to keep, took the rest to recycling – which took four trips. I’m a magazine junkie; I’ve let several subscriptions lapse because the magazines are no longer really relevant to my life and some of the writing’s gotten so bad that I can’t bear to read them anymore. I knew I had to cut back on some subscriptions because of economics; one of the biggest factors is the quality of the writing. Those magazines whose quality has declined – not renewing. I discovered that I missed one magazine whose subscription I let lapse a little over a year ago. I might buy a current issue or two to see if it’s worth it again.

In any case, I pulled out what I wanted, put the pages into sheet protectors, and put the protected sheets into binders. Four loads of magazines wound up in about 75 protectors, usually two sheets to a protector, so out of all those magazines, I only really needed 150 pages. Interesting.

And now I have the information that I need easily accessible, instead of hunting through a whole year or more worth of magazines.

Good morning’s work on the Billy Root story. I have so much fun in that world that it’s hard to stop. The natural daily rhythm for the piece seems to be around 1200-1400 words, which is nice. My deadline’s not yet too tight for it, more like “get it done” rather than “get it done by X date”, so I can let it take its natural rhythm, and, as long as I keep a steady pace, I should finish the first draft in early March, which is fine – have Book 3 ready just as Book 2 releases.

I ran a few errands, and now I can hunker in during the bad ice storm that’s expected tonight into tomorrow, take down the decorations, bake some bread, and figure out which of next priorities on the project list is the biggest priority. I think I’ll get back to the rewrite of THE MATILDA MURDERS tomorrow.

Off to tackle the tree, and then, it’s back to the page, and to my negotiations. I’d like to land one or two of those jobs.


Billy Root story – 5,663 words out of est. 60,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
5 / 60
Published in: on January 6, 2009 at 12:56 pm  Comments (6)  
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Monday, January 5, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I managed to get some errands done (everything in White Plains, which was great, so I didn’t have to criss-cross the county a half a dozen times), worked on the Billy Root story, worked on the article until the file went kaplooey (again), but that was about it. Oh, yeah, I got the January newsletter out. If you didn’t get your copy, drop me a line and I’ll send it to you; if you want to sign up, the link is in the sidebar.

Today, I’m hoping to coax the file back out and finish the article, which is already late, so I can get it to my patient editor. And I have a very long list of other things to get done as well.

I’ll post my January To-Do list up on the GDR site this afternoon.

Reminder: “Holiday Wish List” comes down on January 6 (tomorrow), so if you don’t have it yet and want it, visit the Ava Dunne page for the free download.

And if you haven’t downloaded the free Jain Lazarus story “First Feet”, you can do so here.

I had a good morning’s work on the Billy Root story, just over 1400 words. Nice way to start the day and week. I like viewing the world through his eyes. He’s much more scattered that Wyatt, and his emotions are much closer to the surface, but he’s a lot of fun. I’m about halfway through Chapter Two. By the end of Chapter Two, or, by the latest, the end of Chapter Three, I’ll be able to stop and outline the whole story, because I’ll have a strong enough idea of where I’m going.

I also have to update the Jain Lazarus character/continuity notebook soon – there’s a lot I need to look up, and it’s much easier if it’s all in the book, a single spot, instead of having to go back through the two books and the short story.

Now, if I can just get everything else properly organized, I’ll have a shot at getting things done this week, this month, this year. I’ve got three pitches to get out today, and at least one submission, along with all the rest.

To answer a couple of questions:
–I’m not an experienced astrologer, although I keep track of the moon cycles and the planets because I’ve found they impact my daily life and when I’m aware of what’s going on, it’s a good heads-up.
–Laura, I get the word bar at Zokutou. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get any of the Writertopia stuff to work for me.

Back to the page.


Billy Root story – 4,262 words out of est. 60,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4 / 60