Tues. Sept. 1, 2020: Die for Tourist Dollars Day 104 – Can I Regain Any Balance?

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image courtesy of pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Full Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Pleasant and cool

Primary elections, here in MA. My replacement ballot (carefully coded, to prevent voter fraud) finally turned up in Friday afternoon’s mail. I filled it out immediately and ran it down to the secure ballot box on Saturday morning.

Everyone in this house has voted, and the ballots delivered.

I’m glad the situation was resolved; but so much stress would have been removed from my life if someone in the office had taken 30 seconds to shoot me an email to let me know it was being dealt with rather than ignoring my multiple contacts. This is not a major city.

Rough weekend, which is all I’m going to say about it.

Bad time with allergies, exhausted, achy, mentally exhausted, too.

I’m finding affirmations/quotes that are supposed to make me feel better are annoying me. They’re unrealistic and privileged. Some of us don’t have the luxury that fulfilling these quotes requires. We’re down here fighting for our survival and don’t want to be placated. We want tools. We want justice. We want suggestions on actions that WORK.

Pleased to see that Main St. Hyannis is enforcing and people are respecting it as a masked zone. Disheartened when I ran to Star Market early Sunday (we were low on white cranberry-peach juice). Except for the store, NOT ONE person I passed in the miles to and from the store was masked.

And our numbers are climbing.

Designing a garden for a project – yes, I eschewed the software that wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do, and I’ve been drawing it with pen and paper. Playing, too, with the idea of the idea inspired by the auction of Green Mountain College in Vermont, and having fun with that.

The series I was reading, where I was up and down with it depending on the book – down with it again. The protag has turned into a doormat, and she doesn’t grow from book to book, she gets weaker and dumber. So disappointed. But there are only three more books at this point, so I’m going to read them and learn. See how the structure of those dozen or so books did NOT satisfy me, even if they supposedly met the tropes of the genre. I read another book in a different series by the same author, and it was delightful.

So I’m learning.

Ink arrived for the big printer (I was getting low on black – this tank will give me 3K pages). Did a bunch of research. Read Louise Penny’s A FATAL GRACE, which was sadder than I remembered. The two other bread/soup cookbooks that I need for a project arrived, and they make me happy.

Reworked my article completely. Read the book for review, working on the review.

Switched out some of the summery fabric to fall tones; switched the front door décor this morning; have some transitional decorations over the fireplace. September is transition month. October is when the spiderweb curtains go up and the real decorating starts.

Wondering if we’ll have trick-or-treating this year. I figure I’ll plan as though we do – get treat bags and prepare to set up tables with bags full of treats instead of individual rummaging, and set it in the yard or at the bottom of the driveway. If it’s cancelled because of the re-emergence of the virus, then so be it, but at least I’ll be prepared.

Already deciding what changes I need to make for the winter holiday baking gifts I always do – instead of platters, have everything in tins, with each kind of cookie wrapped separately. No platters; no centerpiece cakes/cupcakes that will get bad quickly. Everything something that can survive quarantine and still be fresh. I’ll mask up when I bake.

In the next month or so, I want to experiment with a chocolate crackle cookie and a maple cookie, to see if either can replace the centerpiece cakes.

Forgot the cream for the mousses I plan to make this week when I went to the store on Sunday, so I had to get it on my way back from my client’s yesterday. Also did a curbside pickup at the library.

I was on my own in the client’s office, which is as it should be, and got a lot done. I managed to time it to miss a negative colleague, and that lightened the stress on my day.

Some slimy people are trying to DM me on Instagram. No. I don’t know you, and your profile picture indicates you’re not contacting me for anything worthwhile.

One of the curbside pickup books was the latest by Donna Andrews, THE FALCON ALWAYS WINGS TWICE. It was delightful and smart and wonderful. I laughed out loud reading page after page. The way the series—and the characters – have grown in book after book is wonderful. This is one of the best, smartest, and most fun series out there.

Compare this series to the series where I have mixed feelings about the protagonist’s growth – or lack thereof. Huge, huge, huge difference.

Had the cats out on the deck in their playpens while I read. They love watching the bunnies eat the dandelions. I haven’t seen Che Guevara Chipmunk in awhile again. I hope he’s okay.

The tree cutting and the chemicals neighbors use on their lawns have hurt the bee, butterfly, and hummingbird populations. They are much smaller this year.

Today, I’m going to make another attempt at an oil change. Hopefully, they are masked this time, and I can get it done. Then it’s client work and more writing. I’m trying to get an ad campaign nailed down for a client, and not happy with what I’ve come up with so far. It doesn’t sparkle in the way I want.

Had hoped to put together a proposal to join a team on an exciting project in an area that interests me; however, the person heading the project is a Republican, so it’s a no-go for me.
I like a lot of what this guy has done, but if he’s supporting the sociopath, we’re not a fit.

Let’s hope this is a fairly calm week, going into Labor Day Weekend, because I am just Not In The Mood.

Decent writing sessions yesterday and today, but they need to carry over and inspire the rest of the days’ work.

I’m hoping to take both Friday and Monday off for a long holiday weekend of reading and rest, but I have no idea what the week will bring.

Hope your week’s off to a good start.

Please share the information for Grief to Art.

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Mon. March 12, 2018: Healthy Eating #UpbeatAuthors

 

Okay, when I picked myself up off the floor from this . . .

Why would today’s topic make me laugh?

For a couple of reasons. First, it was my birthday yesterday, which meant healthy eating was the last thing I worried about.

Second, because yesterday was also when we “spring forward” — and I can’t tell you how much I resent losing an hour of sleep ON MY BIRTHDAY. I take it very personally.

However, for the most part, healthy eating is more the normal part of my day than the exception. Why? Because when I eat properly for my body and my life, I feel better.

I rarely drink soda, and never “diet” soda. I eat very little junk food or processed food.

I’ve cut way back on sugar, especially refined sugar. In my baking, I’m working on substituting honey for sugar whenever possible, and then adjusting the rest of the recipe around it.

I don’t use fake sweeteners.

I do, however, drink whole milk, use real butter, etc.

I also grow as many of my own herbs and vegetables as possible. I believe in the mission that Edible Landscapes teaches, “Have your yard and eat it, too!” I currently rent, which means much of what I plant is in containers; but when I own my own place, there will be very little traditional lawn, and very much wild space and native plants — and many more vegetable beds.

I love to cook, and that helps me eat healthy, too. I read cookbooks the same way I read novels, and with the same pleasure. You might even say I “devour” them. I own many, many cookbooks — and even use most of them. I often use the recipe as a baseline, and then experiment from there.

The cookbooks I use most frequently and can’t live without are:

MOOSEWOOD RESTAURANT FAVORITES
THE NEW BASICS by Julie Russo and Sheila Lukins
THE MOOSEWOOD COOKBOOK by Mollie Katzen
MARCELLA CUCINA by Marcella Hazen
THE NEW ENGLAND COOKBOOK by Brooke Donny
THE WAY TO COOK by Julia Child
JULIA’S KITCHEN WISDOM by Julia Child
THE POOR POET’S COOKBOOK (I bought that for 99 cents in San Francisco in the 1980s and still love it) by Ann Rogers
BEARD ON PASTA by James Beard

I often test drive cookbooks by checking them out of the library and cooking a few recopies from them. If I like the book enough, I buy it.

Control the food, control the population. Food is a social justice issue for me as much as it is a pleasure. We have the right to access fresh, healthy food. That means we have to put people into government who do not destroy environmental protections. If the soil and water are polluted, our food will harm us instead of keeping us healthy.

If we allow corporations to use pesticides to kill bees, we won’t have food. If we allow sterile seeds to be our only source, the corporation who creates the sterile seeds can decide not only WHAT we eat, but IF we eat.

That is not acceptable to me.

Growing as much as I can keeps me connected to the process — there’s a lot of joy as well as a lot of flavor in eating something you grew. I also know that the soil is good and free of contaminants, the water I use the same.

I am still an omnivore, although more and more of my choices veer away from red meat, and, over time, over meat in general.

Cooking makes eating healthy much easier. I enjoy cooking. I don’t believe it’s “too much work” to cook for myself (although I often cook for more than myself). I believe I deserve healthy, well-prepared meals. I enjoy the process of making them. Granted, vegetarian meals tend to require a great deal of chopping, which means you need a good set of knives. But it’s worth it.

Roast chicken is easy — half an onion and lemon juice in the cavity, a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper over it, 5 cups of water in the roasting pan, cover, put in an oven for 2-1/2 hours and it’s tender and delicious.

Mashed potatoes are easy, and the secret is to warm the milk before you add it to mash (and always use whole milk and real butter, along with a bit of salt and pepper).

Steamed broccoli is great with a little seasoned salt over it.

Steamed green beans get an extra kick from some lemon juice or hollandaise sauce.

Moosewood Favorites has a great eggplant stuffed with spicy mashed potatoes — the potatoes are mashed with cream cheese instead of milk and butter. There are a mix of spices in it, along with diced red peppers, carrots, and peas. The filing can be eaten on its own or used as a side dish for other food.

Dice up a few fresh tomatoes, add some cooked corn and diced onions. You’ve got a salsa that’s great with steamed fish. Add some parsley, fresh spinach, oil and balsamic vinegar, and you’ve got a salad.

Fresh herbs can brighten up even the most boring meal. And no meal needs to be boring. Experiment.

If it doesn’t work, you’ll know and try something different the next time.

I never enjoyed eating until I started to cook. Once I enjoyed cooking, tasting and eating are part of that. I used to only enjoy cooking for others. But I got tired of both the expense and the quality of eating out.

My rule of thumb when I’m in a restaurant is I only order what I wouldn’t/couldn’t make at home. As my home-cooked repertoire grows, what I order when out shrinks!

The positive part of that is it makes me try new dishes instead of ordering the same old, same old when I’m out. It also encourages me, when I like something I’ve tried in a restaurant, to figure out how to cook it at home.

Decide what foods make you feel good, not just while you’re eating, but after. What fuels your body and your spirit? If you genuinely listen to your body instead of stuffing it with empty calories, you’ll start to align with foods that are better for you and that you wind up enjoying more.

Try that this year — grow a few things you LIKE to eat. Take sensual pleasure in cooking, tasting, preparing and eating food, even if it’s for yourself.

Worry less about calorie counts and more about nutritional value, taste, and presentation.

You’ll find yourself naturally gravitating towards healthier foods.

 

Published in: on March 12, 2018 at 4:35 am  Comments Off on Mon. March 12, 2018: Healthy Eating #UpbeatAuthors  
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Wed. December 26, 2012: Holiday Writing Blitz

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Waxing Moon
Sunny and cold
Boxing Day
Second Day of Christmas

So what did you dream last night? That’s what January will be about!

My dreams were very confusing, between watching DR. WHO and reading most of Brandon Sanderson’s MISTBORN yesterday. Hopefully, the dream itself denotes creativity, not chaos!

I had a quiet Christmas Eve and Day. I’d offered to be on call for the Marine Life Center in case someone couldn’t come in, but didn’t hear from them, so I’m assuming they were covered.

I did some work on the Eve, wrapped packages, and wrote about 2700 words on the Dickensian Steampunk. This gives me the shape of it. Some of the characters are surprising me, in a good way. Now I can figure out where I want to go with it, and do a rough outline. I’m not yet sure where it fits in to the schedule, but I like what I’m doing with it, and where I’m going.

Worked on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions. Didn’t realize, until I worked on them, how angry I am about a few things that happened last year. Full out fury and resentment. I’m glad I wrote what I did, but I’ll post something a lot more diplomatic! 😉 It helped to purge it and figure out what I can do differently and more positively next year, and made me realize I was right to cut ties with someone who’d been a major client last year, but whose business model and payment arrangements caused me a great deal of stress and pain. The client is not worth it. I am done. Although I prefer to transition between clients, easing out one as I take in new assignments, in practice, I find that I must take a leap and clear out the old in order to make room for the new, even when I don’t always know what that new is.

Dug out some of my old cookbooks that I hadn’t unpacked and re-acquainted myself with a lot of great stuff. Also, found some recipes I used to be very fond of and thought, “how could I have ever served THAT?”

Worked on the list and the menu for the Twelfth Night party. I have to design and start sending out invitations today.

Christmas Eve dinner was roast pork with a spice marinade, green beans in hollandaise sauce, mashed potatoes, and corn. All good.

We open our presents on Christmas Eve — a wealth of books made me happy. The cats LOVE opening presents — they help! I was up with the burning bayberry candle until after 2 AM (it has to burn all the way out on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve — can’t be extinguished and re-lit). Fortunately, I had the new Juliet Blackwell to keep me entertained — and the cats.

Up early on the Day for stockings and pancakes. Spent most of the rainy day reading, playing with the cats, and cooking the turkey. Yup, roast turkey, cranberry dressing, sweet potatoes, peas, and corn for dinner. We were too full to eat the plum pudding.

Costume Imp gave me a Brandon Sanderson trilogy for Yule, and I read most of MISTBORN yesterday. Love how he creates magical systems, and the detail in his world-building. I can learn a lot from him.

Wrote the first of the Twelve Days stories, which will need to be retitled, but uses the partridge in a pear tree theme. It was supposed to be four pages, and wound up being eleven. But it’s fun. I’ve got about half way through the second story this morning, writing four pages, and I think it will be eight. Will go back to that, once I’ve posted here and prepped tomorrow’s post for Writers Vineyard.

Will see how much I can get done on my list, but only planning to work a half day today. I want to finish that book and get some more writing done!

Have the self-clean function on for the oven — it was time. But it makes the house smell AWFUL.

I’m clearing up my desk, prepping folders for 2013, and, generally, trying to catch up on admin work over the last few days. I let the admin slide terribly last year, and now I have to make up for it.

Don’t forget to sign up before December 30 for “When Words Align” to get your WIP or revision back on track, and “Sensory Perceptions”, for a month of learning how to layer sensory detail into your work, taking it to the next level.

Devon

“First Feet”, the Jain Lazarus New Year’s tie-in is available as a free download here until Jan. 2.

Two holiday Nina Bell tales available via Payloadz! Read excerpts and find buy links here.

Even though Christmas is past, you can still enjoy “Just Jump in and Fly”, a comic/romantic/fantasy twist on Yuletide myths here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Hop on over to A BIBLIO PARADISE and read a great interview with author Pauline Baird Jones. Her newest release is a steampunk, and I’m excited to read it. Pauline and I “met” when she was the moderator for a chat I did over on Long & Short Romance to promote ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT.

Busy day yesterday. I was working on the computer in the morning longer than I intended, and was late getting out to do the errands. Got most of them done, including getting yet another stack of books out of the local library, this one including two cookbooks by Ina Garten that have some really great recipes in them. I look forward to trying them out. I love test driving cookbooks from the library. And the October issues of both FOOD AND WINE and BON APPETIT have some great recipes in them.

I also got out a book that’s supposed to give you ideas for a clean, harmonious, restful space. All it did was stress me out. I can’t live in something that sparse and full of angles and cold. I like color and texture and warmth. I use a lot of cool colors like blues and greens — water colors, but mix them with warmer tones, and change colors seasonally to compliment or contrast what’s going on outside. I find even warm colors and textures can be restful, if situated properly. Living in white? White walls, white floors, white furnishings, white accessories? No. Not only would I feel like i was a lab rat, it’s not practical with pets, and it’s a color I find stressful, not restful.

Couldn’t find cornish hen at the grocery store. The Autumn Equinox is on Friday, and I always make a cornish hen for the meal. I’ll have to try some of the other stores.

Had a lot of trouble with my eyes in the afternoon and evening, and had to limit computer time. This means I’m behind with my students, but that’s the way it is. I couldn’t focus my eyes enough to read what was on the screen.

Percolated on the book, but didn’t do much physical work on the outline. Came up with a few backstory possibilities and tossed ‘em. They make it all a little too pat, and move away from what makes the story unique and what ties it into classical mythology.

I’ve got to get a press release out for the National Marine Life Center (it’s written, it just need to be distributed), go to Sandwich to the library (figures, I come home with one of the books I ordered only to find the note that they put aside another one). All good, though, I’ll take any excuse to go to Sandwich. Unfortunately, I forgot to take the lawn clippings to the dump — gotta take care of that today, before there’s a great big mess in the garage. A freelance job scheduled in two weeks cancelled — I have to come up with something to make up the financial difference pretty darn quickly. Will be sending out queries for some quick turn-around projects.

Now, to spend some time with my students before heading out. I’d like to beat the rain.

Devon

Published in: on September 20, 2011 at 7:38 am  Comments (6)  
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and milder

Yesterday was about unpacking. We rearranged the garage, so now I can get the car into it. I found the big pot, so I can make the beef stroganoff for tomorrow. And, of course, washed it. Ran a long list of errands. It’s interesting how one can get twice the amount done in half the time without anyone getting stressed and surly around here. Everyone is NICE, the clerks and stuff, and it’s an adjustment. I’m used to abrupt and/or surly. I never thought of most of the clerks in NY that way until I got here. And they engage you in actual conversation, not just yammer. The clerks here engage their CUSTOMERS in conversation, not deign to do their jobs while carrying on conversations with co-workers. And everyone is so damn cheerful! It’s an adjustment. A positive one, but an adjustment. I think they’re especially cheerful because the “summah people” are gone.

Anyway, ran the errands, which included buying a large trash can so I can sort the garbage. The can is for the regular garbage — I have crates to sort the recycling. Over the weekend, we’ll have to make our first dump run.

I want to attend a seminar on owls at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster on Saturday. I tried calling to make a reservation; they were closed and one can’t leave a message, so I shot them an email. Hopefully, I can get in.

I also have to race against time in the next few days, to put the yard to bed (and get all the leaves up) before the snow.

Went out again in the afternoon. I bought a rug for my office. It’s gorgeous — gold with sort of a pale lavender grape design. It kind of looks Italianate — very Edith Wharton (if you’ve ever visited the Mount, you know what I mean). When it gets lighter, I’ll take a picture. I love it. It’s not at all what I thought I wanted, but when I saw it, I fell in love with it and knew it was just right. I’m also putting sliders on the furniture, so it doesn’t hurt the wood floors.

I haven’t unpacked my cookbooks yet, so I had to pull a recipe from the Food Network site for the beef stroganoff. Turns out I don’t have any in my handwritten notebook — THAT I have, carried it up early in the process so I could cook up here. But I got in all the stuff for it, and will cook it today, along with brownies and a lemon cake.

The split box is supposed to arrive today. I’m giving it to my mom, and I’ll order another one (hopefully not from Sleepy’s).

Went to Lavender Moon. Found a lovely necklace and a few other things I needed. It’s very simple — no amethyst in the middle, just simple sterling. There was a gorgeous one embellished with brooms and amber, and another mandala necklace — I might just have to go back for those in a few days. Because I wear this every day, I was worried that the raised design on the other two might catch on things. I got a lovely “welcome to the neighborhood” from the owners.

Cooked a lovely dinner – salmon patties, mashed yams, and spinach, with the last of the wonderful apple pie for dessert. Relaxed in front of the TV with a glass of wine, and went to bed at a reasonable hour to read for a bit.

The next assignment for Confidential Job #1 arrived yesterday, so I better get to it, along with polishing the lectures for my class. I’m not quite back into my first 1K of the day yet — I figure I’ll ease back into that over the weekend. The characters are all being very quiet — probably giving me some breathing space to unpack a little more. It will take months to unpack, but we’re slowly getting there. I set up some shelves downstairs so I can store the dishes I don’t need, but still get at them when I want them. I don’t know yet if I should worry because I haven’t heard from my editor on ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT and revisions are due on Jan. 1. If I haven’t heard anything a few days into December, I’ll ask. Meanwhile, I should get back to work on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY — writing about old-time New York while I’m here on the Cape. Should be interesting. Hope I can locate all my NYC history books.

The cats are exploring and complaining and demanding and playing. I’ll have to get some additional scratching posts in and figure out where they want them. Violet is adjusting better than Iris, which is what I expected, although when she was so terrified at first, I wondered. But she’s back to her usual exploring self, and Iris is being a Drama Queen.

Okay, downstairs to figure out how to shut off the valve for the hose without shutting off the water to the entire damn house.

Devon