Wed. Dec. 22, 2021: Recovering From a Mac & Cheese Coma

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Waning Moon

Chiron Direct (as of 12/21)

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Rainy and raw

image courtesy of SocialButterflyMMG via pixabay.com

Usually, Tuesday is the long post. This week, it’s Wednesday, because yesterday was the Winter Solstice, my big holiday, and I decided to enjoy my holiday.

So today’s our day to sit down and have a catching up natter.

Friday was a beautiful day, weather-wise. A little windy, but warm enough to keep the door from the porch into the house open.

I drafted the first half of the Marie Collier play, and then walked down to the post office to mail some letters, and picked up wine on my way back. It was lovely to enjoy the good weather, knowing that a storm was coming in.

Went through some jewelry of mine, looking for something specific, a certain type of chain that I want to use for a talisman necklace I’m making. Couldn’t find it, so I’ll keep looking in thrift stores. There’s no deadline. I’d rather wait and get the right thing than any old thing.

The last charm for the talisman necklace arrived, along with another pieced I’d ordered, from An Enchanted Creature, on ETSY. I’d had a good experience ordering before. I hadn’t expected these pieces to arrive until the 27th of December, so it was a pleasant surprise to get them a full 10 days earlier.

Saturday was supposed to snow all day, so that’s how I planned. They were out in force in the morning, sanding streets and sidewalks, which is a good thing. The sky made a few half-hearted attempts with some snowflakes in the morning, but it wasn’t until lunchtime that it got serious about it. But it only snowed for a couple of hours before it switched over to rain.

We put up the rest of the ornaments on the tree, and put up the Santas on a shelf unit we moved into the front hall. They don’t look right there.

Did some reading, diving back into the Dorothy Parker/Dawn Powell research, so I can finish the third and final play of the year.

Sunday was a gray, gloomy day. We moved the Santa collection into the living room, rearranging a few things, and it looks better there. Plus, we can enjoy it.

I finished the draft of the Marie Corelli play. It took some fun turns, and all four characters are for actresses over 40. It can sit for a few days before revision, and I’ll get it out before the end of the week (today or tomorrow, most likely).

The fruit peel arrived, from Fleet Farm! That was quick. I didn’t expect it until around New Year’s. So there will be stollen for Christmas. I’ll make it either today or tomorrow.

I made the molasses spice cookies. Wound up being around 10 dozen molasses spice, which I did not expect. I also used one of the packs of fruit peel to make fruitcake cookies, which turned out well, and are a nice contrast to the other cookies on the platter.

I’m going to make the apricot sage cookies for us, a small batch, to test them. If they work, and I can make enough of them quickly, I’ll add them in to the platters next year.

Was too tired to cook, so ordered Chinese from the local place, and watched DoorDash drive it the six blocks over. It’s just far enough that it’s too far for me to walk and keep it hot.

The food was good. We put on the lights and candles and enjoyed the Fourth of Advent.

With Venus going retrograde, I’m trying to be quiet and careful. We’ve got the “bonecrusher” square, which I do not have the energy to deal with this week. Uranus is still retrograde. And then Mercury goes retrograde early in February. So basically, from now until February 3, I want to stay as quiet and hermit-like as possible.

Monday morning, I got up to discover that some of the battery-operated candles in the windows had turned themselves back on overnight.

Around here, the post office does an early morning package delivery run, about 7 AM. Two packages were dropped off: one from a friend (the one that had gone from NYC to Puerto Rico to Akron), and the next two books for review.

Tessa was fascinated by the packages. Willa was more interested in the postman. Charlotte ran around in circles at the top of the stairs. It was a very exciting start to their day.

I struggled to clear the ice off the car, and then we headed to the RMV to update the car registration and our licenses. I had been going back and forth about the appointment with the main RMV administration; they kept saying that we could not do it in one appointment, we could not go together (my mom is 97, it’s not like she can do this on her own), and so on and so forth.

We showed up for the appointment. Everyone was very nice. We got everything done. We don’t even need to get a new registration document, since it’s all updated in the system. When the registration has to be renewed next year, the right info will be there. Instead of issuing us new physical licenses, they told us to write the new address on the back; it’s in the system, and since it’s a real ID, no problem.

So all that stress was for nothing.

But I’m grateful they were so helpful, and that it’s done.

Then, it was off to CVS and to Big Y, to get the rest of what I needed for the Solstice dinner, Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day dinner. Got everything I needed.

We made it home. There are still dashboard lights going on that need to be dealt with. I’m going to contact the garage in Williamstown next week to see if I can get an appointment the first week of the new year.

I realized I’d forgotten a couple of errands, so headed back out on foot to the post office and the bank.

By then, I was wiped out, as much from stress as anything else.

But I rallied, in the late afternoon, to do the script coverage.

Slept in on Tuesday morning. It was Winter Solstice. Chocolate panettone for breakfast, which was fun. I prepped two cookie platters for the libraries, and delivered them on foot: one across the street, to the college library, and one down the street to the public library. I’d sealed each cookie separately in a cookie sleeve, for maximum safety so the platter could be out in the break room, and people could sort through cookies to find what they like.

Both libraries were delighted.

The weather was gorgeous, and it was nice to be out, knowing that storms are coming in for the next few weeks. The weather is so changeable here.

Came home, finished up some script coverage I hadn’t finished the previous day. Changed from flannel sheets to fleece sheets.

Prepped the cookie platters for the neighbors and delivered them. They were pleased.

This year’s platters have chocolate chip cookies, orange cranberry cookies, currant oatmeal cookies, molasses spice cookies, and fruitcake cookies. It’s a nice variety.

Baked the honey spice cake. It was a little underbaked, even though the toothpick put in the center came up clear. It’s still good, but I wanted great. Maybe I should have put a chocolate silk glaze over it. Because chocolate can fix almost anything.

For dinner, I made Moosewood’s recipe for macaroni and cheese, from scratch. I cheated a little and added bacon into the mac & cheese. But it was a lot of dairy. The cheese sauce had four cups of milk and 10 oz. of various cheddars; there were breadcrumbs and then more cheddar over it, before it was baked. It’s really good, and we have a lot of leftovers, but it’s a lot of dairy.

Did the Solstice ritual of waiting for it to get dark, then, starting in the north, lighting all the candles and holiday lights, clockwise around the house, until it’s all lit up with candles and twinkle lights. I spilled red wax on the white windowsill in the kitchen – that will be not much fun to fix. But it was so pretty, and we sat without electric lights on (except for the holiday twinkle lights) all evening.

Since we no longer have a working fireplace, I took the big cauldron out on the back balcony and burned last year’s greens, slowly, one small branch at a time, so I wouldn’t worry the neighbors. It was a good way to let last year, and the Cape life, go.

Left the battery-operated candles on all night, to light the longest night of the year.

I was up earlier than Tessa this morning! I couldn’t find her and was frantic. She was still asleep, in her favorite red chair with Panda, and was very confused as to why I was awake before she was. The fleece sheets were too hot. I kept kicking off the covers in the night. Quite a difference from the other house, where upstairs was never warm after about September, no matter how high the heat was cranked.

The plan was to go to the laundromat, but it was raining, so I decided not to. I’ll go tomorrow or next week.

I’m going to do some work on the Big Project, and maybe THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. Then, I have to polish the Marie Corelli play and get it out the door. Then, it’s more script coverage. I have coverage work today and tomorrow, and then I’m off until Monday, and I hope next week will be a light week, coverage-wise. I want to dig into The Big Project and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

I also want to finish up a bunch of admin work before the end of the year.

I’m preparing to hunker down for the winter, only going to the grocery store, the post office, and the library, both due to weather and the pandemic. I’m frustrated that the Dems aren’t doing what needs to be done to curb the pandemic, or the right-wing extremists. People worked like crazy during a pandemic to get them elected. They need to deliver. No matter what corporate sellouts like Manchin and Sinema do.

Anyway, I have to get back to the page and get some work done. Books don’t write themselves, and I still have a living to earn.

Have a good one!

Thurs. Dec. 16, 2021: Contemplation Time

image courtesy of Samuel Theo Manat via pexels.com

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Neptune Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

There’s a post over on Gratitude and Growth about the unseasonably mild weather.

Yesterday was mostly about finishimg up a stack of script coverages before the pay period closed at midnight. So I did that, and met my nut.

I made bread, the Portuguese sweet bread I’ve made dozens of times. Only this time, it didn’t work. I have no idea why. I have a doorstop instead of a loaf of bread. I didn’t do anything differently. It didn’t rise properly, so I’m not sure if I killed the yeast with water that’s too hot or if the yeast is too old. Very disappointing.

Did some decorating. There are still a couple of boxes of decorations to go on the tree, and a few more things to spread around the house.

Worked on tracking sheets for the Big Project. Figured out what I want to write for the Marie Corelli play, so I’ll get started on that today, after meditation and errands and working on the Big Project, and, hopefully, on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

Have to do some year end admin, too, which I’m not looking forward to, but it needs to get done.

Got a special holiday package from Ipsy, with products from some of my favorite makeup brands (like Maelle and Dew Tube), which was fun. And the bag is really cool, too, great for travel. And it got here before the Venus retrograde.

Venus goes retrograde on the 19th until the 29th of January. So no “new looks” or getting my hair cut or anything else. Or starting a new relationship (which wasn’t on the table anyway, because, you know, pandemic). An astrologer friend advised to just stay quiet and solitary until the next Mercury retrograde is past, too (it’s retrograde from the 14 January to the 3 February). Because Venus and Mercury are so close to each other, and those retrogrades overlap, better to be cautious. I’ve had enough chaos in the past two years.

I’m perfectly happy to remain a hermit for the next few months. It does my introverted heart good.

One foot in front of the other, right? I have some more script coverage to do in the next couple of weeks, and then maybe, maybe I can take some time off for the holidays. I’m definitely taking long weekends off, and I’m taking Yule off next Tuesday. But I’d like at least to ease up a bit between Christmas and New Year’s. I have some serious contemplating to do in that time, so that I can start 2022 with a clear head. Pandemic brain fatigue is making me struggle.

The virus numbers continue to rise, so I’ll just stay home this winter, except for the grocery store and the library. We’d expected to do that anyway, because of the weather. It’ll give us a chance to finish unpacking. That’s on hold, because of all the holiday decorations all over the place. Once those are put away, in January, we’ll look around and see what’s what.

I’m doing a tiny bit of unpacking each day, just a few things, so that I feel like I’m doing something. But I have to make some decisions about setting up the files and the project bins and the rest so that the office is efficient. It’s workable now, but it could be better.

I also have to design my quarterly Fearless Ink postcard, so that can go out in early January, to former and potential clients. Holiday cards are just that – good wishes for the holidays, no pitches or upsells. But January is time for client contact. And to refresh the brochure, so it works for where I am now, on multiple levels.

Today is mostly focused on writing and errands, with a bit of marketing thrown in.

But first, the meditation with the group from the Concord Library via Zoom. Charlotte’s favorite part of the week.

Have a good one, friends!

Tues. December 7, 2021: Maybe Your Business is Struggling Because You’re Unprofessional

image courtesy of Matryx via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold; incoming snow

The past few days have been up and down.

I lost far too much of Friday. I tried to find a mechanic to fix the car – no one would get back to me with a response and an estimate, including the dealer. What kind of business model is that?

According to AAA, the nearest of their certified mechanics is in Bennington, VT. I shouldn’t have to cross state lines to get my damn car fixed.

On top of that, I was trying to integrate MooSend, the platform to which I’d exported my mailing list, to my website, so people can easily subscribe on the website, it goes over to the MooSend mailing list, and they get the next newsletter. Only it wouldn’t integrate. I asked tech support for help, and they sent me links to articles where the steps in the article didn’t match what was coming up on my screen. I went into their Live Chat. The guy sent me the same articles. I told him that I’d tried all that already, and that’s why I was on Live Chat. Because it wasn’t working. He kept telling me to do stuff that didn’t come up on my screen. I’d send him screen shots to show him what was on my screen and what I should do with what was actually coming up, and it just went round and round for hours. He walked away from the chat after a couple of hours. Some other guy came on, a few minutes later – and sent me the article. Hadn’t read any of the notes or looked at the screen shots. I told him to forget it, I was going to a competitor.

In meantime, on the website, I got a flash of something that needed to be updated. I tried to update, and it didn’t work. I contacted my host, A2, and asked for the steps, since clicking the update didn’t work. The tech asked permission to enter the account, I gave it, and the glitch was fixed in less than five minutes.

I thought maybe the MooSend integration would then work, but nope. Still the same issues. So I disconnected all the MooSend plug-ins.

I did some research on other platforms. I knew I didn’t want Constant Contact or Robly. I considered MailChimp, and sent them some questions, which were ignored. They weren’t top of my list anyway, so that was no big deal.

So I looked at Sendinblue, and that seemed to have what I needed. I set up an account, which was easy as could be. I imported my contact list, easy as could be. I downloaded the plug-in to the website. Easy as could be. Activated it, set up the new form, and it seems to work.

I’ve written most of the text for the newsletter, and played with templates. Starting from scratch and building it myself seems to work the best for me, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ll play with it some more, send a test to myself. If that works, the newsletter will go out this week, and the quarterly deliveries will start up again, with occasional special announcements in between.

If you haven’t signed up, and you’d like to, you can do so here.

Getting everything set up on Sendinblue took about 30-40 minutes, including all verifications, API keys, plug-ins, etc. Meanwhile, I’d lost three hours with MooSend’s useless “support.”

Hopefully, I’ll remain happy at Sendinblue, at least for a while.

I was grumpy and exhausted by the end of it all. I hadn’t had time to get the promotions for the holiday shorts “Just Jump in and Fly” and “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall” up. I did manage to do some work on the notes for The Big Project and for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

I did my script coverages. I read the next book for review, which was charming and delightful, and got a good review.

After my pity party, I sat down with Cherie Priest’s GRAVE RESERVATIONS, her newest release. I sat and read until after midnight. I loved it, and did not want to put it down.

Tessa got me up on Saturday around 5:30-ish, which is acceptable. Once I’d fed everyone and they were settled again, I sat on the couch and finished GRAVE RESERVATIONS. Loved it so much. I hope she writes more with these characters, because they are a delight.

I let her know, via tweet, how much I loved the book.

Then, it was time to buckle down to my own work. I did some more work on the outline for The Big Project, and did the first draft of the first chapter, which came in at 1282 words. I’m looking for the chapters to be between 1-1.5K and not more than 2K on any given chapter, and, on this particular project, the structure has to be impeccable, or it will all fall apart. Because it’s complex, I have to keep a careful set of tracking sheets, updating it preferably every chapter, but not more than every three. Or I will get myself into a tangle.

I had a ton of fun writing the chapter, although I had to stop and make decisions on the way about details. They can’t be layered in later, because they are vital to the way the piece builds. Details can be polished or cut or moved in edits, but the first draft has to be what a usual third draft for me usually is.

Still, it was a good feeling to get it done.

The sky looked rather ominous by the time I was finished. I wrapped up for the weather and walked down to the wine store for a couple of bottles of wine, and stopped at Cumberland Farms at the end of the street for eggs and coffee. You know, the essentials: eggs, wine, coffee.

The whole thing was a little over a mile on foot, round trip, and nothing was very heavy. But I’m still not up to full strength after the vaccine booster, and was pretty shaky by the time I got home.

Does not bode well if I have to walk to Big Y and back for a big grocery shop, even with my little upright rolling cart. That round trip would be a little over three miles. Might consider taking a taxi back.

After lunch, I spent some time on the acupressure mat, which I hadn’t done all week. Once I was realigned there, I got up and wrote up the script coverage I had to do.

Leftovers for dinner, and then I did the revision on “A Rare Medium.”

Read some of the Marie Corelli research, but fell asleep fairly early.

Slept through the night, and Tessa didn’t wake me until nearly 6:30 on Sunday. After I fed them, I tried a new banana bread recipe, and, when I didn’t like the way it was turning out, tossed in some chocolate chips, which saved it. Still, not a recipe I’d use again.

I wrote the second chapter of The Big Project, which came in longer than I’d hoped (a little over 2K), but that’s what it needed to be. Felt good. Had lots of fun with it.

Switched over to decorating. We put up some of the Command hooks and put decorations on all the doors. We put multiple garlands on the bannisters, and threaded them through with lights. We put the lights up on the front porch, along with the small tree decorated in silver and blue, that used to be in my office at the other house. I put some battery-operated tall candles in the windows, although I don’t yet have the batteries for them.

It looks really pretty.

I admit, on Friday night, I considered not doing any more decorating this year. No trees, nothing. It all felt like too much.

But then I thought, I’m the one who loves all the decorations, and it’s a form of self-punishment not to put them up. And putting them up on Sunday made me happy, both the actual doing it, and then enjoying it.

It was the Second of Advent, so we lit the two candles. Plus our big, scented Christmas candle. And it was St. Nicholas night – time to put out the shoe, so it can be filled with candy!

Which made for a happy wakeup on Monday.

Charlotte started bothering me at 4:30, but Tessa let me sleep until just after 5.

Morning longhand writing session in, then yoga and meditation. Those practices suffered last week when I was so laid out from the booster, and I suffered as a result. So back to yoga, and I’m slowly expanding my morning practice.

Wrote the third chapter on The Big Project, and had a blast with it. It came in at just under 1800 words, pretty good. Then, I switched over and did just over 1300 words on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and had fun with that. It’s weird, not working in full chapters with that, but there’s only so much I can do.

In and around those two projects, I was still trying to find a fucking mechanic to fix the fucking car. What the hell is wrong with these “businesses”? Can’t respond or give an estimate. Finally got a response from one – who can’t fix a VW. That mechanic recommended another one, whom I contacted and – no response.

After THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, I put in the revisions on “A Rare Medium”, found a few more things to fix, formatted it properly, got in the needed information, saved as PDF, and got it out the door. Ahead of schedule.

Phew.

I’d forgotten to turn on the crockpot, so it had to be on high all afternoon.

Did my script coverage, and got out a book review. Dinner was great; the recipe worked well. After dinner, I did more Marie Corelli research. I have a good sense of the character; now I need the incident in her life to dramatize.

The lovely chiming tower clock over at the college stopped around mid-morning. I miss it. I didn’t realize how much I used it to keep track of my day, and how much joy it brought me.

Went through the materials for tonight’s Wild Oats Board Meeting.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and it’s delightful. I love it when they include fuzzy socks, and these have little hour glasses embroidered on them.

Sorted the laundry before bedtime. Got up at 5 (Tessa was just doing her warmup scales). Got everyone fed, got myself dressed and the first writing session done. Then piled the laundry and the washing materials and my work bag into the little upright rolling cart that’s been in the family since 1969 and rolled the laundry down the street to the laundromat.

As usual, I was the only one there, but it wasn’t creepy. Got the laundry loaded up, then sat down and worked on tightening the point-by-point notes for The Big Project, so that I don’t go off on tangents. Realized I have to do an insert to the second days’ work, in order to keep one of the running jokes going. There has to be a reference in every chapter. The Big Project relies on impeccable structure, along with engaging characters, quick dialogue, and a rip- roaring plot. So taking the time to polish the outline saves me a lot of pain and time later in the process.

After breakfast, I need to do a run to CVS for a couple of things. Fortunately, it’s in walking distance, but it’ll be about an hour round trip. Debating whether or not I should stop by the library while I’m in that direction, or wait until Thursday.

We have a storm coming in today, and snow tomorrow. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a mechanic today and schedule the repair for Thursday or Friday. This is ridiculous. If I can’t trust someone to be capable of the technology of answering an email and/or giving me an estimate, why would I think they have the skills to repair my car?

Once I get back, it’s back to work on today’s words for The Big Project and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. I have to get the ads going for the two holiday shorts, and finish the newsletter.

Then, it’s back to script coverage and client work. With any luck, I’ll get out a few LOIs, too.

But, for the moment, I’m back on the pavement, getting my errands done. We’re definitely getting a storm; pre-storm headache in full force.

Tues. Nov. 30, 2021: Giving Thanks for Vaccine Boosters

image courtesy of Bianca Van Dijk via pixabay.com

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold, chnged over to snow as I wrote this.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, and that the focus was on love and good company, rather than stress and conflict.

Wednesday was a struggle for me to get everything done. Once I’d done my quota on CAST IRON MURDER, I slogged through about 500 emails, trying to get the Inbox under control again.

I struggled with the last project I had before I could call it a holiday. But I got there, by mid-afternoon. The mental exhaustion is even more severe than the physical exhaustion, although my hip was giving me a lot of trouble. I will have to find yoga stretches to help with that.

Was relieved that the three men who hunted down and murdered Ahmaud Arbery were convicted. Unlike the Kyle Rittenhouse jury, this one took its job seriously.

Baked the Ginger Apple Crumb Cake from the Wintersweet Cookbook. It was wonderful!

Read for fun in the afternoon and evening. Played with some ideas, both for inserts I need to do for CAST IRON MURDER, the outline for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and the Big New Project.

A friend came up with a great name for the second workshop I’m teaching on Cape Cod next summer.

Tessa let me sleep until a quarter to six on Thanksgiving morning. It was so nice not to have to worry about anything except making the meal!

I added (in red ink), to the printout of the current draft, the reference setting up the character in CAST IRON MURDER that I need for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY to work. I thought about an insert scene I need to add, but haven’t figured out where to put it yet.

My ego was all in an uproar that I wasn’t updating “every day” or doing the 1667 words for the day. But I planned to be at 50K by Thanksgiving; except for these inserts, I have only one more chapter to write and this draft is done. The whole point of pushing hard at the beginning of the month was so I could choose to take off Thanksgiving without stress.

So that’s what I did.

That’s what these people who scream how the “write every day” mantra is “wrong” don’t get. You write every day that’s designated as a “work” day; that way, you choose when to take time off, be it for life commitments or holidays. But the work is steady. Often, I choose to write on holidays, especially if I’m deep into a piece. But writing every day and meeting daily quotas mean I have the breathing room to CHOOSE when and where to take time off, not just letting the writing slide. Because once you start letting it slide, it’s more difficult to get back into the rhythm.

Every book, every story, every script, has its own innate rhythm. One of the reasons outlining helps so much is that I can jump right into where I left off, and slide back into that unique rhythm much more easily than staring at a blank page, wondering what I meant to do next.

Talked to the family in Maine. We had no intention of traveling this year for the Big Dinner (which is usually held in the VFW Hall and is 60+ people). Both because of the pandemic, and because I’m still unhappy with the lack of support around the move. Since the rule is to put aside all arguments for the day, no matter what, I’d have had to grit my teeth and smile. I don’t have the physical or emotional energy for that right now, especially with all the cooking and cleaning up involved. We’d expected bad weather, and had already bowed out. The dinner wound up being cancelled, due to the rising virus numbers in Maine, even though everyone in the family is triple-boosted or about to be, and the younger kids are all on their way to being double-vaxxed. We might have our differences over plenty of things, but NONE of the extended family is anti-vax or a supporter of the Narcissistic Sociopath.

My cousin, who’s led the organization of the dinner for 50+ years, ordered the meal for the nuclear family this year, from a restaurant. She picked it up yesterday, and all they have to do today is heat it up in the oven for 2 hours. Good for her; after all these years, she’s earned a rest.

I have a feeling the Big Dinner might be a thing of the past.

Which I’m okay with. I have plenty of fond memories of it.

Made the stuffing, stuffed the turkey, and got it in the oven a little after 9 AM. Yes, I cook the stuffing in the bird. I’ve been doing it my entire life. Because I cook the turkey at a higher temperature than most, the interior surpasses the recommended temperature. Because I also basically poach it, by keeping the cover on the roasting pan and using a lot of liquid in the pan, the meat remains tender and practically falls off the bone.

Enjoyed a quiet morning reading while the turkey cooked; Around noon, I got the potatoes going, and make the parsnip-carrot in mushroom sauce dish. I’d saved a precious bag of frozen peas (a rarity right now) and heated them up, along with making corn for myself. I’d stockpiled our favorite cranberry sauce from Trader Joe’s before we moved (closest Trader Joe’s here is over an hour away).

I’d set the table in the morning, there were candles in the candelabra. I think we were the only ones in the entire building. The cats discovered that apples roll better than potatoes, and played with some apples up and down the hall. At least they were getting along.

The turkey came out of the oven, just gorgeous and tender. Needed two platters for it, since it was a 16-pound turkey. One platter for the main bird, and one platter for legs and wings.

The gravy turned out well, too. Giblet gravy, with plenty of fresh herbs.

Put the rest of the stuffing in the oven as soon as the bird came out, so that could bake. Because turkey sandwiches lathered with stuffing and cranberry sauce are a favorite way to use leftovers.

Anyway, the dinner was delicious. We eat around midday (well, closer to 2 PM this year). We had cider from the Berkshire Cider Project, made from Windy Hill Farm apples down in Great Barrington. It was good. I still prefer wine with the dinner, but it was a nice change.

For years, I always had Beaujolais Nouveau with the turkey. I’ve finally accepted the fact that I don’t like that kind of wine, and I’m looking for another red that goes well with the meal.

Cleaned up the leftovers, which I will use in various dishes over the next few days, and some of the turkey went into the freezer. The gravy will be fun to use. Made stock from the turkey carcass. It didn’t make much, so I used it on Friday to make a nice turkey soup that was a good, filling lunch over the weekend.

Got an idea for a stand-alone romantic-comedy-mystery and jotted some notes.

Spent the afternoon and evening with a glass of wine, a book, and French jazz on the CD player. It was lovely.

Scrolled through social media a bit, enjoying people posting photos of their cooking, baking, and starting the Christmas decorations.

Charlotte woke me up at 4:30 on Friday, chewing on my hair. Tessa started singing a few minutes later. I moved to the sewing room, but Tessa and Charlotte started fussing at each other, so I gave up and got up to feed them.

It was gloomy and rainy, with predictions it would turn to snow. It did so by mid-day. Which was fine, since I had no intention of going out and about on Black Friday.

Instead, I started the holiday decorating, made chocolate walnut butter bread, and made turkey soup from scratch (which was really good).

I also read, for fun, although I admit I did a little work-related reading on the Marie Corelli research. Mostly, it was just about having some time off. Spent a good bit of time just watching the snow fall because it was so pretty.

Saturday was sunny and cold. The street was plowed early. People were out and about getting things done.

I wrote a bunch of inserts for CAST IRON MURDER, to fix some plot holes, before I write the last chapter and put the book aside for a couple of months to percolate.

Did some more decorating. After lunch, I did a run to Big Y for a few things, once I’d scraped the snow off the car, and then went on the hunt of liquid Tylenol. You can tell that people are getting their boosters, because almost every store is out of liquid Tylenol. I finally snagged a lonely bottle.

On the hunt for taper candles for the Advent table. Couldn’t find any. Even Wild Oats, which has the lovely Mole Hill candles, was sold out. Hit up way too many stores, and was irritated that people are letting masking protocols slide. With the new variant, that’s not acceptable. At least I wasn’t in any one store for long or that was too crowded.

Tired and grumpy when I got home. Just reheated turkey and trimmings leftovers, and read two scripts at night. Since I don’t know whether I’ll have a reaction to the booster, I’m doing Monday and Tuesday’s work over the weekend. Resent not taking the whole weekend off, but needs must.

Reading Hermione Lee’s biography of Penelope Fitzgerald, which is excellent. How much creative work has been lost because so many talented women remained tied to useless husbands?

Tessa, who hates people food, has decided she likes raspberry rugelach, so we had to put it out of her reach.

I was really proud of Charlotte and Tessa on Saturday. They were both on the couch together for most of the day without fighting. Didn’t even fuss at each other all day. Progress.

Amazon claims they delivered a package on Wednesday “in the mailbox” at 1:08 PM. In Pittsfield. First of all, I don’t live in Pittsfield. Second of all, the only things “in my mailbox” on Wednesday were an LL Bean catalogue and a flyer from the Sierra Club. Since Amazon doesn’t have a customer service email anymore that they share, I had to call them out on Twitter. Where they pretended to help, but only sent links that kept sending me around in circles.

I’ve only ordered 4 times from them in the past 2 years (other than eBooks). All four times, they’ve claimed the packages were delivered when they weren’t. After a big fight, they give a partial refund, then take back the full amount when they claim it’s been replaced/redelivered. Which it never is.

Done ordering anything except eBooks from them.

I’m tired of the lies and the double-charging. I don’t mind everything taking three or four weeks longer than they say. I mind the constant lying. And the attitude that if I expect a package to be delivered, it will only happen if I join Amazon Prime.

Tessa let me sleep until 5:30 on Sunday morning, mostly because she and Willa were playing. I’m glad the three of them are finally getting along. It’s taken three years of nearly constant work.

Wrote the final chapter of CAST IRON MURDER. This draft of the book is done, coming in a little over 62K. For a not-quite-cozy, I might almost get away with that, in subsequent drafts. It feels good to have it complete. It’s done a lot to help me regain my confidence that I CAN write another book. And another. And maybe even one after that. In other words, get my career back on track.

I also put all my chapters into a single document to upload to the Nano site on Tuesday, for verification.

When I write I draft in standard manuscript format, and I draft every chapter in a separate file (each draft is a separate folder).

It saves ever so much time and frustration later in the process.

After breakfast, found some cream-colored taper candles at a store I don’t like, but I did manage to grab the last box of any taper candles they had. Then, over to a place we do like, Whitney’s Farm over in Cheshire, where we bought a live wreath. Brought it home, decorated it, put it up. It makes the front door look festive.

I procrastinated in writing up my coverages. Instead, I took a short course with Sisters Enchanted, and updated my Amazon author page (well aware of the irony of that, since I am so unhappy with Amazon).

I finally got both coverages written, and then read two more scripts. Tessa and Charlotte didn’t fuss at each other all day Sunday, either. Progress.

Up early on Monday, with the usual routine (cats, yoga, meditation, shower, writing). Worked on the outline notes for the Big Project, which I have to start this week. Wrote up the script coverages and sent them off. Wrote a letter to my mom’s insurance – even with Senator Elizabeth Warren’s help, there are things that need attention. Sent off my blurbs, bio, etc. for next summer’s conference. All before 10 AM.

Drank most of a bottle of water and we headed off to CVS for my vaccine booster. Pfizer, this time. The young male nurse was very kind and chatty. I was in and out in 15 minutes. My arm hurt and the fatigue set in fast, but nowhere near the reaction I had with the Moderna shots.

My mom drove us home – her first time driving in this area. She did very well. My Tamed Wild box arrived, so that was something fun to open. I had enough appetite for lunch, and enough energy to read a delightful script, write it up, and send it off, before I crashed.

I slept on the sofa most of the afternoon, and had some scrambled eggs for dinner. I read in the evening, took Tylenol as my arm started hurting more, and went to bed. My arm hurt, I was fatigued, had chills here and there. For about 10 minutes, the palms of my hands turned bright red, which was weird, but then it faded. Much milder effects than Moderna.

Charlotte and Tessa fussed at each other. Back to square one.

My mom promised to get up and feed them in the morning, so I could stay in bed. Well, by 5:14 AM, I had all three cats in my room performing the feline version of the “Hallelujah Chorus” and gave up. I fed them. Tessa started yowling when I went back to bed. I picked her up and dumped her in my mom’s room and closed the door. Five minutes later, she was out again and yelling.

I am not a happy camper.

Especially since they’re all fast asleep now.

Can’t figure out where to upload CAST IRON MURDER for verification. It used to show up right on the landing page. Other than that, I’d cleared today, in case I felt bad. I don’t feel terrible, but I’m fatigued, achy, my arm hurts, I have a bit of a headache, and a bit of lymph node swelling. Not bad, especially in comparison to the Moderna, but I’m glad I cleared things so I could take it easy today.

There are things I can do if I feel up to them; but there’s nothing that HAS to get done today, except that I rest.

Finished the Penelope Fitzgerald biography by Hermione Lee, and now I want to read Fitzgerald’s novels. Will order them from the library before I go back to bed.

Peace, friends, and catch up tomorrow.

Thurs. Oct. 28, 2021: Preparing

image courtesy of Monstera via pexels.com

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Partly sunny/partly cloudy and chilly

For some reason, yesterday feels like a really long time ago. Post on Gratitude and Growth about the seasonal changes.

I got a script coverage written and out, then ran over to Wild Oats to do my shopping there. Bought more than I planned, of course. Today, I hit up the other grocery stores for the rest of the items on my list for the weekend company.

On the way back, I stopped at a local thrift shop, hoping something I’d liked but hadn’t bought in the moment was still there. It wasn’t, of course, but I bought a lovely candlebra with crystals hanging from it. I have to get tapers, but it’s just perfect.

Came back, finished getting the lights strung on the stairwell. It looks really pretty. Got the hooks up over the kitchen windows, and hung the pumpkin lights, which is also festive. Had to wrestle with the tops of some windows, which slid down, so cold air was coming in the top. I’ll have to keep an eye on that over winter. Did some more tidying up. There’s still a bunch of unpacking to do, but the sewing room is a pleasant guest room, the living room and kitchen look good. There are still boxes stacked in the sewing room, but not interfering with a good night’s rest. Most of the boxes to unpack are still stacked in my office.

Got out two more script coverages (one was long and complicated). It was about 9 PM before I was done. I have one more to do today, and I’m finished for the week.

Started reading Laura Levine’s Jaine Austen series, which is energetic and a lot of fun.

Two of my errant packages arrived: WINTERSWEET, a truly wonderful cookbook, from which I will get great joy cooking in the coming months and years; and a small, book-shaped pendant I ordered from an artisan as part of the talisman necklace I’m putting together.

Dinner was put together from leftovers. Trying to clean out the fridge, so that there’s room for what I’m making for the weekend.

Tessa let me sleep until 6 this morning. On the one hand, great; on the other hand, it puts me behind in all I need to do.

Meditation group this morning. Then, it’s off to the grocery stores. Back to write up script coverage. I have a few things to prepare for the weekend today (a dip, black bean hummus, baking a cake), and then it’s cleaning time.

My friend arrives tomorrow afternoon, so there will be a few things to prepare in the morning, and then I’m going to drive up to Bennington to meet her bus.

I’m looking forward to a weekend of fun, and then diving in to start writing CAST IRON MURDER on Monday. I feel ready for it.

Tues. Oct. 5, 2021: That Retrograde Energy

image courtesy of Greg Rakozy via Unsplash.com

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

It was definitely a Mercury Retrograde weekend, both positive and negative aspects.

The Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site has the Questions for 2022 posted.

If you’re doing Nano this year, I have a free download booklet, 30 Tips for 30 Days, that gives you ideas for prep, daily encouragement, and what to do post-nano.

Friday was pretty calm. Got some of the decorating done, but there’s plenty more to do, along with the unpacking that needs to happen this month. Fish & chips for dinner Friday night was fun.

Tessa got me up early on Saturday. I fed them all and tried to go back to bed, but they weren’t having it, so I moved to the couch, she quieted down, I dozed off, and overslept.

But I got back on track just fine. I mean, it’s a weekend, no schedule.

My mom read about a small town in upstate NY that sounded like a lot of fun – farmer’s market, consignment stores, used bookshops, bakery. Since it was supposed to be a fairly nice day, and warm, we decided to go. Most places over the line into NY, over the line in VT, and around here are open on the weekends, and take their weekends on Mondays, Tuesdays, and sometimes Wednesdays. Which makes sense, because they get the day trippers on the weekends. We don’t have to worry about timing crossings on the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges so we aren’t stuck for hours, so we can actually go out and about on weekends again.

We got in the car and followed the directions, which took us over on 2 through Williamstown, then down a bit on 7 until we hit 2 again. I’m still getting used to mountain driving, and a GMC pickup truck riding my tailpipes didn’t help. NY Rt. 7, and then Rt. 22 north took us through lots of farms and a couple of odd little towns to the little town my mom wanted to see.

Which was a bit run down. But hey, everyone’s doing the best they can, right? It was a half hour past time for the farmer’s market to open, but not a single stand had been set up. Couldn’t find any of the stores that advertised in the local paper, and, even if we had, there wasn’t any parking.

On top of that, no one was masked, and there were yard signs around stating, “Unmask and Live Free.”

Yeah, no, not spending money in an anti-mask, pro-Trump town.

We left.

We stopped at a consignment store called The Treasure Hut in Hoosick, NY. It reminded me a bit of my favorite Saybrook Recycled Furniture. It has lots of great pieces at a variety of prices.

I found a wonderful pendulum clock (like a mini grandfather clock) by a silversmith named Wallace. It was only $20, so I grabbed it. I saw a couple of pieces I really liked, including a pale blue, small dresser that would look good in the sewing room, but decided not to buy it just yet.

Looking at the road signs and maps, it made more sense to go back through Bennington than retrace our steps. We went to Bennington, and stopped at Aldi’s, which has been recommended to us, but we’d never visited. Got a few things, but not really impressed.

Drove back home. Much faster drive this way, and also better roads.

We ate the pizza we’d bought at Aldi’s and talked about the dresser, then got back into the car, drove back to the Treasure Hut (via Bennington this time, much shorter) and bought the dresser and a small bookcase. They fit into the VW perfectly.

Drove home, wrestled the pieces out of the car. My lovely downstairs neighbor helped carry the dresser up the stairs. The bookcase was light enough for me to handle by myself.

The dresser fits perfectly next to the vanity table that I’ve repurposed into a sewing table. The pieces look like they were designed together.

The bookcase is ½” too big to fit on top of the dresser, so I put it in the living room, behind one of the wingback chairs, and am still using it for craft supplies and ribbons.

Tufts sent my mom a bill for her insurance premium, even though they dropped her. They can take that bill and shove it right up their collective asses.

Started reading the next book for review. Not thrilled with it. Switched and read the next Wonky Inn book instead, which was fun.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, early. It had a tarot deck included. It’s not a deck I would have chosen for myself, but I like its gentle energy. I look forward to working with it.

I had tried to get information on a sister Women’s March around here, and couldn’t find anything to which I could get to, was uncomfortable with being around that many people in a pandemic when I just spent a year fighting cancer, and angry that no one is funding transportation for people who want to attend these marches, but can’t get there on their own. If the wife of a Supreme Court justice can fund buses to bring insurrectionists to DC to overthrow the government, pro-choice organizations can damn well fund buses to protect Roe. The people most affected by this are the ones who don’t have the resources to get there on their own.

Tessa was at it again on Sunday morning, way too early. Not happy about it.

Changed all the beds (usually a Saturday chore, but we did it on Sunday). Charlotte got shut in the linen cupboard, which could have had tragic results. But Willa was running around, agitated, going in and out of the laundry room, and when I realized I couldn’t find Charlotte, I opened the door, and there she was. She was only in there a few minutes, but still. I need to be more careful. I thought she was asleep on my bed. I should have checked all the shelves before closing the cupboard.

This is why we always do a kitty headcount before we leave the house.

Chocolate chip brioche for breakfast. It was really good, but store-bought, so I guess I’m learning how to make brioche.

Headed to Lenox. Made a stop at Yankee Candle, to take advantage of their sale and the coupons they sent. Got some great stuff, and, except for bayberry candles for the holidays, I think I’m set until spring.

Then headed down to Chocolate Springs Café, where a local chocolatier creates all kinds of stuff. Bought a few things and ordered hot chocolate to go. All delicious. We will stop there when we are in that area.

On the way back, stopped at The Cook’s Resource, and I was in heaven. I bought a couple of things (including a fish spatula), and signed up for the rewards program. I might start slowly replacing our ancient pans with some top-of-the-line ones.

We were comfortable with the shopping, because masks were required everywhere. And, people were respectful about distancing (not that anything was crowded).

Stopped at a Chinese takeout in Williamstown. It was really good, and we’ll definitely get takeout from them again.

There was a parade down Main Street, which we circumnavigated. While it would have been nice to watch the parade, we’re still not people-ing in a pandemic.

Got everything upstairs, ate. The computer was being cranky.

And then. . .turns out the floats and a lot of the marchers from the parade came down our little street after finishing the parade route. We could sit on the front porch and see them. It was delightful. Floats and marching band and people in costume. So much fun. We got to enjoy the parade without being at risk.

Got the computer going again.

Read four scripts and wrote up a rush coverage on one. Finished reading the book for review, which got better as it continued, but I don’t know how many people will stay with it until it does so.

Monday morning, Tessa started at 3:20 AM. I refused to feed them that early, but I took the feather bed and moved to the couch. She settled down, and I fell asleep again, and overslept.

But I got going, slowly. Day before dark moon is always my lowest energy day of the month.

They fixed the heat in the morning, which was nice. I hadn’t expected it until the end of the week. Takes the damp and the chill out.

Wrote up script coverage, caught up on email, got some LOIs out. Got ahead on some blog posts. Spent a couple of hours scheduling posts for 30 Tips for 30 Days, so that people can find out about it/access it up through the first week of Nano.

Read four scripts.

FB/Instagram/WhatsApp being down didn’t affect me. We lived perfectly well before they were invented. Before people carry on about how WhatsApp is the only way most people have to communicate, my response is, “What the fuck did you think would happen if you let your life be dictated by an app?” People have tried to bully me into using WhatsApp and I DON’T WANT TO. Therefore, I don’t.

Charlotte and Tessa woke up at 2 AM this morning. First, I kicked Charlotte out of the bedroom and brought Tessa in. She settled on the bed, and we were all fine, until Charlotte started banging on the door. Then, Tessa found a ball with a bell in it. Anyone who has a cat knows what a cat finding a toy with a bell in it during the night means. Yup. Suddenly, all she wanted to do was play with the toy with the bell. Kicked her out of the room.

She started howling.

I grabbed the featherbed and settled on the guest bed in the sewing room. Charlotte joined me, and Tessa could see me from the couch, so we settled down and I dozed off again, until the alarm went off at 5, and Tessa started howling for breakfast.

Fed everybody, got the laundry sorted out, and headed to the laundromat. Got three loads of sheets, towels, and dishtowels done in just over an hour.

Today, we have to go to Williamstown and shut down our TD Bank account (finally). I need to pay some bills; we need to get our library cards off the temporary “probation” and into permanent cards; I need to go to the grocery stores. On the way back, we’ll pick up takeout from the Korean restaurant.

I have a lot of script coverage to write up, three more scripts to read, a book review to write, and short articles on which to work.

Later tonight, we have Knowledge Unicorns.

Guess I better get going, huh? Somewhere in there, I have to do more unpacking, especially when it comes to putting fabric in the new dresser.

Have a good one.

Fri. Oct. 1, 2021: It’s a Little Chilly in Here

image courtesy arthouse studio via pexels.com

Friday, October 1, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Foggy, chilly, raw

The photo is what I WISH I was doing right now – hot cocoa by a working fireplace.

If you read the above, add this: the heat’s not working. It was slightly chilly on Wednesday in the house, about 66 degrees, so I thought I’d turn on the heat, test it for the winter, get the chill out.

Nothing.

The thermostat said “heat on” but nothing came through the radiators.

Yesterday, it was down to 63 degrees in here. I called the maintenance guy, figuring there was just another switch somewhere I needed to hit. He said there shouldn’t be, and sent a guy over to check it out. The guy looked at the thermostat, and went down to the basement to check and make sure the pilot was on.

It wasn’t the pilot.

He worked on it for awhile, then had to go away for a bit, so we took the opportunity to run our errands – which set off a whole other set of whatevers, which I will get to in a minute.

At the end of the day, he told us that it was a valve, and the landlord ordered it. It will take a few days to get here.

Fortunately, it’s not that cold yet. I mean, it’s 60 degrees in the apartment this morning, but I’ll be baking, so it will get warmer. And the weekend is supposed to be in the 70’s. So we’ll be okay, at least until early next week. If the part is delayed, then the landlord has to figure out, with us, what to do in the interim.

Again, better to find out now than in the middle of a snowstorm.

We’re all aware of the legalities of the landlord being required by law to provide heat, but that only kicks in as of October 15. If it gets really cold before then, I’m sure he will have a solution. He has an excellent reputation, and has been an all-around good guy thus far.

We’re a little chilly, but we’re in sweater and added blankets and hot water bottles, so it’s not awful.

We’ll see how it goes next week.

As far as the errands went, we went to CVS to see if we could negotiate refills on the medications my mom needs while we try to sort out the insurance issues, since Tufts is being bitchy because we “didn’t ask permission” to move. Um, we don’t need to get the insurance company’s permission to move to a place we can afford.

The pharmacist was lovely and worked some magic to get the two refills immediately needed at a price I can actually afford. Unlike the clerk at the Centerville CVS who offered to sell us the refill before the move under the table for $3/pill. Which would have cost us $300 for a month’s supply, which would have also gone straight into her pocket.

At this CVS, watching how the pharmacists actually listened to and worked with their customers, it made me realize how awful the Centerville CVS was. Anything ever asked there was “no” or “we can’t do that” which included the shots they were supposed to give. There was always an excuse not to give a shot. Remember a few years ago, where they kept scheduling and then refusing to give my mom her shingles shot several times a week for six weeks? And we finally just signed up and got it at a different pharmacy?

They’re giving the Pfizer booster, although I have to sign up online (which, no doubt, will be a magilla), but at least they’re doing it, AND looking after people during the waiting period.

Then, it was off to Wild Oats and Stop & Shop. When we got back, I put a hunk of pork into the crockpot on high, so we’d have a hot dinner.

We got a letter from Medicare stating that my mom has paid her medication deductible and Tufts is supposed to cover the rest of her medication for the year. So THAT’s why Tufts dropped her – not because of the move, but because she fulfilled the deductible. They really are vile.

More information to send over to Elizabeth Warren’s office. Her office is helping sort this insurance mess out.

Kitty drama galore, too. Yesterday morning, Tessa and Charlotte achieved peaceful co-existence on the sofa by having a blanket fort between them. Later in the day, Tessa went into the sewing room and curled up on the guest bed – on Charlotte’s pink blanket (one of her prized possessions, which she brought to the household when we adopted her), after playing with Charlotte’s catnip banana. Tessa has never been on that bed, since we moved in here.

Charlotte was not amused. But that is Tessa’s way of getting back at Charlotte, because sometimes Charlotte sleeps on the guest bed in the third bedroom, near the front porch, (a room we’ve nicknamed “Tessa’s room” because her food dishes are in there), and Charlotte stole Tessa’s catnip banana.

Willa is smart enough to stay out of it.

I played with them again with the laser toy before bed, and they let me sleep until 4:46, so that’s a win for the day.

I didn’t get much work done yesterday, so I have to make up for it today, in and around the decorating. Because it’s October 1, which means it’s decorating day. I’m sure I’ll post photos on Instagram throughout the weekend.

I’m reading M.L. Rio’s IF WE WERE VILLAINS, set at a Shakespeare Conservatory, and, so far, I love it.

I’ll bake an apple cake later, and I’m making fish and chips tonight, so that will keep the oven on a good bit today.

Think warm thoughts for me, have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Thurs. Sept. 30, 2021: Cat Playtime Works

photo courtesy of pexels-pixabay

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Rainy and raw

I’ve got a post about the “Idea Fountain” over on Ink-Dipped Advice, and a post about the Celtic Tree Month of Ivy over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday was another quiet day, just steady work. I had a lot of email to get through, wrote up script coverage, read another script. I have one more coverage to write up today. I’ve made my nut for this pay period. I’m giving myself off from reading until late Sunday night, when I’ll read the scripts to write up on Monday.

Remote Chat was fun, but then, it always is.

I handled some administrative stuff. I tried to get the heat on in the apartment. The thermostat says it’s on, but nothing is coming out of the radiators, so I have to find out what other switch has to be flipped, and where it is. It’s too cold and raw to be without heat. Plus, we’re paying for it, so if I want it on, I should be able to turn it on.

Finished reading the book for review, and will write that up later today.

I kept waking up Tessa and Charlotte during the day yesterday, played with everyone vigorously before bedtime, and they let me sleep until 4:58 this morning. Big improvement.

Meditation starts in a few minutes, and then there are errands, and then I have to get in touch with someone about the heat. I want to work on almanac articles today, too, and get some baking done. Knowledge Unicorns is tonight, too. Tuesday’s session went well, and I’m sure tonight’s will, too. We are in a good rhythm. Every day’s news about schools having to go back partially remote or daily testing in the schools because someone was exposed reinforces our decision to keep the kids out of school this year. I don’t understand parents who are sending their kids into danger every day, and then act all surprised when their kid gets sick. What did you think would happen? There is NO safe in-person learning for unvaccinated children yet. At all. Anywhere. It’s not even truly safe for vaccinated teens. Or adults.

Tomorrow is the first of October, which means it’s a major decorating day for Halloween/Samhain/Day of the Dead. I’m looking forward to it.

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Wed. Dec. 2, 2020: Die for Your Employer Day 196 –Head Down, Working

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Waning Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

New post up over on Ink-Dipped Advice about year-end planning and assessments.

Yesterday was still stormy and icky. I worked remotely, which is always a better use of time. Got some client work done, some LOIs out.

Worked on “Lockesley Hall” without getting as far as I would like. Approved the new cover for “Too Much Mistletoe.” Did an ad to promote “Just Jump in and Fly” (it’s the image I used for today’s post). I really do love, love, love the piece.

I added in the newest buy links for it to the Delectable Digital Delights Page, the Ava Dunne page, the Bazaar page, and here, on the Stories page, which seems the most stable of them all.

I submitted my review and received the next book for review, to which I’m looking forward.

The Chewy order I placed on Monday arrived yesterday.

I finished reading a mystery by Hannah Dennison I enjoyed, and started one by another new-to-me author, set in Cambridge.

I did a little bit of decorating, but not much. I also didn’t finish the cards.

I will judge three categories next year for the contest where I’ve been judging for several years. I’m doing mystery and novella again (both of which I love), and they asked if I would add in paranormal. I’m excited. In a situation like this, whether it’s contest judging or book reviewing, I always hope to fall in love with each book.

We semi-finalists were supposed to hear from the Body Be Gone people who won the contest by Monday, but haven’t. They’re probably a bit behind with Thanksgiving. At least my friend and I, who are both semi-finalists, know we’ll be included in the anthology.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. Everyone had a good, albeit small, Thanksgiving. None of the families were dumb enough or selfish enough to travel, thank goodness. There’s a lot of pressure around assignments before Christmas break, and everyone is exhausted – students, parents, teachers. It’s stunning to me how much administrations are failing everyone who counts on them. But our little group is holding on, and working together to keep on track with the assignments, keep up the grades (they are all doing better than they were last year), and keep afloat emotionally.

Watched MISS FISHER AND THE CRYPT OF TEARS last night. The script was all over the place, and needed a few more drafts. Plus, they chose to play up the weakest part of the Phryne-Jack relationship – the arguments where they hurt each other – instead of playing to their strengths, where they work as a real team, and it’s affectionate banter. It didn’t fulfill the promise it made at the end of season three.

Today is the overlap day with my client, so it will be stressful. Then, after decontamination protocols, at least I’ll be home for Remote Chat, which is always fun, and then back to work on “Locksley” and the cards.

The gifts I sent off on Saturday morning are starting to arrive. Yay! People are happy, which is always a good thing.

Deep breath. Focus on what’s right in front of me, while trying to keep long-term goals in vision.

Have a great day.

Fri. Oct. 2, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 135 — Skeptical

image courtesy of Dimitris Vetskikas via pixabay.com

Friday, October 2, 2020

Last Day of Full Moon

Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and cooler

Yesterday was busy.

Morning meditation with Concord Library was terrific. I hope I can keep participating as long as they do it on Zoom.

After, dashed out to Trader Joe’s for a quick shop (not the Big Shop, which is next week), and then next door to Christmas Tree Shops where I picked up a few things I can’t find anywhere else.

Decontamination process, then switched out the white lace curtains to the spiderweb curtains. Put up most of the indoor decorations, although I have a feeling I might do some rearranging over the weeks.

Will start the outdoor decorations this week.

Knowledge Unicorns a little early today. I’m not sure if the kids on the West coast really had a half day of Zoom, or if they just skipped out of lessons or what.

We brainstormed a paper on Emily Dickinson for one student, and I sent him to two unusual resources – a book on Emily Dickinson and her garden, and Susan Glaspell’s Pulitzer-Prize winning play about her.

Worked on other assignments with the others in the group.

We are studying the bat this month as our project. Needless to say, there are all kinds of resources out there about bats! Including the North American Society for Bat Research.

From the homework session, I clicked a new Zoom link to the NYU session with Marion Nestle. It was about food, activism, safety, and justice. Absolutely fascinating, and well-run. Charlotte was disappointed that it wasn’t two-way video, and no one told her she was pretty. Charlotte LOVES Zoom, because when our side is on video, she can pop into frame and everyone loves fussing over her.

One would think Willa would want this, since she is the most extroverted, but she doesn’t. And Tessa finds Zoom an intrusion.

But Charlotte loves Zoom.

Anyway, I learned a lot, it was great to be part of an intelligent conversation, and I ordered Marion’s books from the library, because I want to delve more into her research.

I had an hour to put a pizza in the oven and make chocolate mousse. Somehow, I managed that, before clicking onto the link for the NEW YORK TIMES OFFSTAGE program with Michael Pollan. For the first part of it, there was a pre-recorded conversation with Hillary Clinton on her love of theatre and the importance of theatre. Then, there was a live Zoom conversation with Audra McDonald, Jessie Mueller, Danielle Brooks, and Neil Patrick Harris, which was terrific. They all had great things to say, especially about the passion for and of theatre, how it connects in a way nothing else does, how it’s been around for centuries and will find a way back.

I agree with that, because it’s a deep human need.

In spite of all the ass wipes who go around saying it’s “not a real job.”

It was time well spent.

Puttered around a bit and then went to bed.

Woke up around 2 this morning, after a series of really weird dreams. Some of them were set in the same geographical location that several of this week’s dreams have been set – I know where I am within the dream, but I don’t actually know where that place is. Tonight’s dreams were a little stranger and more unsettling than the ones earlier in the week. Then, there were other dreams about the cats catching mice. Willa, in particular, is a good mouser, so that’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Broke my own rule and checked Twitter (and found that Treat Williams, with whom I worked on a FOLLILES revival years back on Broadway was also up and doing the same thing).

Hmm. Interesting news.

The Narcissistic Sociopath and The Wife Creature supposedly tested positive for COVID-19. There’s that flash of what did they THINK would happen with their constant reckless and irresponsible behavior?

That was quickly overtaken by doubt that it’s true.

I don’t believe Brad Pascale’s meltdown earlier this week was real, either. I think he’s trying to get a way out of prison. I also believe (and this has been pointed out by others on social media) that if he pulled that stunt as a black man, he would be dead. But I do believe it’s a stunt. That’s all he’s done his entire career—create chaotic theatre. Of course he’ll do the same for himself.

I’m also suspicious that this is a stunt on the Sociopath’s part. With the pattern of daily lying and creating stories with himself as the center, I think it’s a political stunt to get attention. He will “quarantine” for two weeks, claim he was asymptomatic, and use it as proof that the virus “isn’t that bad” and insult further the 200,000+ he’s already murdered.

Given the pattern of daily lies, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

The other possibility is that he really is positive for the virus. If that is the case, I believe he knew before the debate and intentionally went through with the debate to expose as many as possible in the Biden camp. It’s exactly the kind of vile behaviour that’s on brand for him. It would also explain the way he yanked on Wife Creature’s hand post-debate.

I don’t want Biden to get sick – or anybody on his team to get sick.

On a basic human level, I don’t want anyone to suffer and die from the virus; however, in this particular case, I am less empathetic than I would be for a random human, even a MAGAt.

Again, I’m skeptical that it’s real. I think it’s political theatre. The Sociopath wants to claim he sailed through the virus with few or no ill effects to prove he’s “strong.”

Proof of strength would have been to prevent over 200,000 deaths of the people he is sworn to protect.

But he couldn’t be bothered.

Here in MA, our numbers are going up. We hit the highest numbers since May 30 yesterday. So much for that idiot woman last week who claimed she worked at the hospital and they hadn’t seen any cases in a long time. It simply isn’t true.

Boston’s back in the red zone. Gee, what a surprise. What did they think would happen, having college kids come back onsite?  They’ve paused the phased re-opening.

They’re not pausing on Cape, because tourist season lasts through Columbus Day, and they are bound and determined to wring every penny they can out of tourists, no matter how many residents get sick and die. The greed is revolting.

I was going to voice some opinions against the airlines, but that can wait for another day!

What’s on today’s agenda?

Client work, writing work, maybe start putting up some of the outdoor decorations, putting the basement back to rights, and maybe clearing out a bit more.

I’m back to work on a piece that’s on deadlined, and keep getting ideas for another piece with which I’m noodling, so we’ll see what happens where with what. I also need to get some edits done on SERENE AND DETERMINED, if that is actually going to be submitted next week. I’m starting to have my doubts that I can get it done in time.

I hope to have a productive, but quiet weekend.

Peace, friends. See you on the other side.

Thurs. Oct. 1, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 134 — First Full Moon of the Month

image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures via pixabay.com

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Full Moon

Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Cooler

There’s a new garden post over on Gratitude and Growth.

The new furnace is IN. It took them almost all day to finish yesterday – and they were here by 7:15 in the morning.

The new furnace is impressive. Very fancy. With a big, complicated filter my landlord can’t expect me to find at the local building store. It’s a special order. The amount of new ductwork they had to build and run is astonishing.

The new thermostat is pretty cool, too. And the heat actually works upstairs, which it barely did all last winter, so there’s a nice change.

The crew had skill, knowledge, precision, and an eye for detail. They were nice to have around, and caused a minimum of disruption.

They explained stuff that needed explaining without mansplaining. They were friendly and neat.

Nobody ever sneer that these guys aren’t skilled or specialists or not worth the money, because they are.

So, while the office was not easy to deal with (mostly because they refused to communicate directly and I got everything second-hand), the actual crew that came out and did the work was stellar.

I worked from home for my client. It took a long time to get the next ad right. I couldn’t get the right look for it, but finally got something workable. It’s not as good as this week’s ad, in my opinion, but it works for what we need.

Remote Chat was fun.

But I was wiped out by the time the furnace was in, everything was cleaned up, the guys were gone.

The cats – they were hellions. Tessa was fine. She hung out in my room, the way she usually does, and ignored it all.

Willa and Charlotte had to be confined to their playpens upstairs. Willa managed to roll her playpen to the top of the stairs; I caught her before she tried to roll down. She taught Charlotte to roll her playpen, too, so the two of them rolled their playpens all day – sometimes into each other, which then caused hissing and growling.

It took them awhile to calm down, once everything was cleared out and they were let free. Then, they passed out in their favorite chairs, and that was it for them for the night.

I collapsed into bed early again last night. I woke up once, but managed to get back to sleep and slept through until a little after 5 (so, normal time for me). I’m still tired, but better.

This morning, I have the online meditation with the group from the Concord Library. Then, I have to run to Trader Joe’s. We need a few things that can’t wait until next week’s Big Shop. Then, I have to get some client work done; after that, it’s decorating.

Today is October 1, the first of two full moons we have this month. The Samhain decorating begins! I’m excited.

That includes taking down the lace curtains and putting up the spider web curtains. Decorating inside and out. Eventually, photos will be up on my Instagram account: @devonellingtonwork.

I have a feeling it won’t be finished today!

I managed to outline a suspense novel that I’d plotted Tuesday night when I woke up at midnight and couldn’t get back to sleep, and made some notes on a fantasy idea. I wish some of these could be short stories, but no – they’re all long.

I have to figure out how to integrate these other projects I’ve been noodling with those on deadline. I have a resistance to working on stuff that was on deadline before the pandemic. I have to get over it and get back on track.

But at least I got some updates done on my clips, which helps.

Late afternoon, we have another Knowledge Unicorns session. After that, I have an NYU alumni event via Zoom on food activism, and after THAT, I have a NEW YORK TIMES OFFSTAGE event with Broadway people (also via Zoom) about adapting performance to the pandemic.

A very Zoom-y day, and busy on multiple levels.

I hope you have a peaceful day.

Published in: on October 1, 2020 at 5:45 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Oct. 1, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 134 — First Full Moon of the Month  
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Tues. Sept. 1, 2020: Die for Tourist Dollars Day 104 – Can I Regain Any Balance?

seesaw-41961_1280
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.

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Wed. Dec. 18, 2019:Keep Moving, Or I’ll Decorate You

Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Weather clearing a bit

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the final post of the year.

We had a bit of snow overnight Monday into Tuesday, turning into freexing rain for a slushy mix.

I couldn’t make it to meditation Monday afternoon due to errands — cookie deliveries, post office (huge lines with people mailing several dozen packages each), dropping off and picking up books at the library, and so forth and so on.

Next batch of stained glass cupcakes will be baked tonight, along with more tollhouse cookies. First year I’ve ever run low on those!

Monday night, watched MRS. POLLIFAX, SPY starring Rosalind Russell. Odd movie, but she’s great.

A bunch of packages arrived, which is always fun.

Up early on Tuesday, got out my last review of the year and invoiced, went in to my client’s early. I’m trying to get ahead on things before the holiday madness. Attended an impeachment rally. In spite of the weather, a pretty decent turnout for Cape Cod.

I think I’m done decorating, at least inside the house. If it didn’t move, it was decorated, and that included putting bows on lampshades. The cats are sleeping with one eye open, for fear of getting decorated, too.

At my client’s early today, because we’re leaving early, to have our holiday lunch at the Old Yarmouth Inn. I’ve always wanted to go there.

It means missing the Remote chat, but I’ll catch up later.

More deliveries tomorrow and Friday — hoping to have them all done by then. Getting out the rest of the packages this afternoon, I hope; if not, first thing tomorrow. The last of the cards are going out today.

Then comes preparations for Saturday’s Winter Solstice celebration, and enjoying the holidays. I’ll be doing some client work and finishing A QUALITY OF LIGHT, but that’s my list. Planning, of course, for 2020, and maybe getting ahead on a few of those posts.

But mostly, I want to read and rest and eat and have a quiet few days at home.

Published in: on December 18, 2019 at 6:19 am  Comments (2)  
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