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.

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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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Tues. Dec. 17, 2019: Trying to Stay On Top of It All

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Lousy weather

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, where I talk about one of my favorite Winter Holiday books.

Busy few days. Sorry I didn’t post at all on Friday. I was up at 5:30 and out of the house by 7. Put gas in the car, then drove up to Plymouth, to my regular mechanic, to give them their holiday treats and get the yearly inspection done.

The car passed. All those things the place that replaced my battery told me I had to pay $1800 to get done or else not pass inspection — NONE of them were true. Which makes me both angry and relieved.

I’ve spent the past nearly three months in agony fearing the car wouldn’t pass, and I couldn’t afford the additional work. Because I was lied to.

Stopped at Market Basket on the way back to pick up a few things. Swung by the library to pick up a book and talk to the librarian who took her first trip to NYC this past week, and I wrote up directions to the stuff she wanted to see. She had a great time.

Then, I just hit a wall. I was so physically and emotionally exhausted that I couldn’t do much more than play with the cats, do some more decorating, and read.

I managed to pull it together in the late afternoon to put together and deliver the cookie platters to the neighbors. It was fun — a chance for us to catch up. We are all friendly in passing and help each other when we need it, but every now and again, it’s nice to spend some time in actual conversation. We are lucky in our neighbors. Most of them, anyway.

It looks like my health insurance might be sorted out for the next year. Wouldn’t that be nice for a change?

On Thursday night, we watched the version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL starring Alistair Sims, which is still my favorite. Friday night, we watched HOLIDAY INN, which I had ordered from the library by accident, thinking it was the Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye version later named WHITE CHRISTMAS.

Well, it wasn’t. It was a Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire film in black & white — also using the song “White Christmas” — and what a horrid movie. The racism — especially against blacks, with an entire musical number in blackface, and the awful way the black characters were written, anti-Semitic comments, the misogyny, and the fact that the characters are all so mean to each other. Awful. On so many levels. Some of the dance numbers are good, but the plot, characters, and viciousness of the movie are hateful. To think that, at any point in our history, that was considered “okay” much less acceptable, is discouraging.

Saturday morning, woke up to a bad storm with pounding rain. Made it through the flooded streets to the store to pick up a few things, and barely made it home. If I’d waited even a half hour more, some of the streets would have been impassable.

Made stollen, the traditional Dresden stollen recipe, from Mimi Sheraton’s German cookbook. Upped the almond extract a bit.

The recipe took me 8 hours to make last year, but only 6 hours this year, with the mixing and the rising. The yeast was fresher, and it rose faster.

This recipe makes 3 loaves of about 3 pounds apiece. When you think that a single pound of it from a store or ordered online costs anywhere from $9.99 to $34 and tastes like cardboard or could be used for a doorstop, this is a much better choice. In addition to being absolutely delicious. It’s an all-day project, but worth it.

Just about finished my cards on Saturday night, except for a few where I need to hunt down addresses.

Worked on the books for review. Started preparations for Winter Solstice, which is next Saturday. Got some writing done.

We put up the reindeer collection and the nutcracker collection, and cleared out my office, so that we can put up the tree in there. I cleaned up the roll-top desk, and I want to clear off my computer desk, so I can start the New Year and the new decade, with a clean desk.

I will have to make the next batch of stained glass cupcakes either today or tomorrow, and another batch of tollhouse cookies. I’m still making deliveries.

Sunday, I was up early and creating a new muffin recipe with orange, cranberry, and chocolate. It turned out well, although I think I will add some cloves next go round.

Got some writing done. Put up the tree in my office, and started decorating the rest of the office.

Watching THE QUEENS OF MYSTERY. There’s a lot of clever, fun stuff in it, but sometimes I feel it tries to hard to do too much and gets a little unfocused.

Monday, it was off to my client’s early (since we’re leaving early for our holiday lunch together). On the way, made some more cookie platter deliveries. Client work was okay, albeit a bit chaotic. Headed to the library after, to get some other work done, and send off one of the reviews.

Early at my client’s today, and then a couple of other appointments after. Decent first writing sessions of the day both days. THE QUALITY OF LIGHT is chugging along, and it will get to where it needs to go on time.

I’m working on my next essay for Medium, which I hope to post this week sometime.
Planning to finish up the reviews, so I can get them out and invoiced, either today or tomorrow.

This year, I’m very much hearth-and-home for the holidays. I’d rather do cards and cookie platters than running around to all the holiday networking events. My focus needs to be on other things right now, focused on the home front and the upcoming changes, not on socializing.

Published in: on December 17, 2019 at 6:21 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 17, 2019: Trying to Stay On Top of It All  
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Tues. Dec. 3, 2019: Catching Up on the Dailies

Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Nasty weather

It’s been nearly a week since I shared my daily life. And quite a week it’s been.

Tuesday night, we decided not to go to Maine for the big 60-people-for-dinner-at-the-rented-hall. Between plumbing issues and furnace issues and car issues and traffic issues and my back issues, it didn’t make sense.

They were disappointed, but they understood.

Wednesday morning, the plumber showed up early. Put a new faucet in the kitchen sink, new valves, worked on the toilet in the downstairs bathroom. I scrubbed out under the sink (where it had also leaked) and left it open, so it could dry

By the time he left, it would have been too late to get on the road anyway, and the traffic was dreadful. So was the weather. I was grateful to be at home. Popped out to get a couple of things we needed to cook the meal at home.

Managed to get out the polished version of “Pier-less Crime” out and the company is excited about it.

Watched ROMAN HOLIDAY with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. It’s been years since I saw it, and I’d forgotten a lot of it.

Sketched out some story ideas (in words, not actual sketches). Figured out more of THE QUALITY OF LIGHT, which is the play about Canaletto’s sisters.

Up early on Thursday morning. Made the stuffing, got the turkey in the oven. Wondered if maybe I went overboard buying a 20 lb. turkey.

For some reason, the meal prep upset Charlotte. She was very agitated. I wonder if she was moved after a large family meal more than once?

We had a high wind advisory with warnings of power outages, so I put it in a little early, to make sure the oven was on and we could actually have the meal. We had cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas with it. Tiramisu for dessert. We ate about a half hour or so earlier than normal (in Maine, we usually sit down around 1 PM).

The meal was excellent, absolutely perfect. The weather outside howled and was frightful.

I felt like I did dishes for hours, though. My own damn fault, because we used some of our favorite old pieces, all of which have to be hand-washed. Which is just fine.

Make stock out of the bones, and then turkey soup. We also have plenty of leftovers. Yum, yum!

Too tired to watch anything on Thanksgiving night. Read. My back was bothering me. Everyone on our little street was away for the holiday. It was blissfully quiet.

Up early Friday morning. Put in the Chewy order. That was the extent of my Black Friday shopping. Put away the washed dishes. Two runs to the dump, one for household garbage and one for leaves.

Got the decorations out of the Christmas Closet and sorted them. Got the tree down and put it up, just the tree and the lights. Tied in place, because we don’t know how Willa and Charlotte will react to it.

Switched out the fabric on the various surfaces to Winter Holiday fabric, everywhere but in my office. My office is where everything we don’t know where to put while we’re decorating goes, so it will be the last to be decorated.

Put up the musical instrument fabric over the fireplace. Put up the red ribbons around the doors and windows (we hang cards from the ribbons around the doors and the ribbons look pretty around the windows).

Got the Advent table set up with the wreath, four silver candle stands, and the centerpiece this year is the Broadway snow globe.

Believe it or not, that took all day.

In my NYC apartment, everything only fit one way. Here in the house, we have the option to do things differently from year to year, which is fun.

Fish and chips for dinner, which is always fun to make and eat.

Re-watched A ROOM WITH A VIEW on Friday night. Much more critical of it this time around, although the locations and the camerawork are gorgeous.

Up early again on Saturday morning. Paid some bills. Had to go to Home Depot for something I couldn’t get elsewhere, and was so disgusted I left without buying anything. I hate Home Depot. I don’t like to spend money there anyway because the owner is a rightwing lunatic, so I avoid it unless I have no other choice.

Went to AC Moore. Will be sad when they close after the holidays. I like them as an alternative to Michael’s. Found a few things I needed. Went to Trader Joe’s for a few things, and to Christmas Tree Shops, where I ended up spending more than I planned, but I would have done so over the course of the month, so might as well get it all done in one go.

Went to put gas in the car — and couldn’t get the tank flap unlocked. I still had a half a tank of gas, so no reason to panic yet, but I was upset. I can’t afford another car repair. Headed to Country Gardens to get the plain wreath for the front door, so I could decorate it. Then the hatch wouldn’t open. I was furious. That was just fixed a few months ago. I’m tired of them fixing stuff and then, a few months down the line, it needs to be fixed again.

Driving away, suddenly the tank latch worked. So I turned around, headed back to the gas station, and filled up, just in case. The hatch started working again, too. At no point in any of this did any warning lights come on.

Decorated the wreath for the front door. Finished decorating the fireplace mantel. We put the carolers up there again this year, against the backdrop of the musical instrument fabric. The blue poinsettia garland hangs below the carolers. We have gold bells hanging center top, and, above that, by the ceiling, holly and ivy and gold ribbon and a gold musical instrument swag.

Unpacked a few other boxes of ornaments, but it took a long time and not a lot seemed to get done.

Got four loads of laundry done, though, and outlined two novels. Decided an idea that was going to be a Thanksgiving story would really be a Solstice/Christmas/New Year story.

Worked on the book for review.

Instead of cooking what I planned to for dinner, Twitter pals raving about Turkey leftover sandwiches inspired me to make gigantic dinner sandwiches with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry. Delicious!

Read and made notes on a few projects.

Up early on Sunday. Worked on THE QUALITY OF LIGHT for a few hours, before I started back in on the decorating.

The Santa collection was set up on the Behemoth. Ornaments top the ribbons on the doors and windows. Pine cones will be added later. More ornamentation was added to the mantel. Most of the tree is decorated, but that usually is a work in progress until it comes down. But enough is on so that I could put on the tree skirt. The kitchen tree and the kitchen nutcracker are done, and I unpacked and washed the holiday mugs. Which means I have to pack away the same number of day-to-day mugs, so there’s room in the cabinet.

Turkey pot pie for dinner, a little reading and writing in the night. I was exhausted and my back hurt, so I went to bed early.

The weather turned on Sunday — rain, sleet, then back to rain by Monday morning.

Up early on Monday, morning routine and some writing. Getting ahead on blog posts. Writing a letter to fight for insurance again. It shouldn’t cost me several hundred dollars and begging in order to get onto insurance every year. Romney-care DOES NOT WORK. We need a single-payer system.

I’m updating my freelance contract, and will update the website to reflect that. Rates are going up for 2020. When the locals balk, I just add more remote clients, who understand that skill and quality are worth the money. I have never lived anywhere that skills are so disregarded as they are here. The only thing respected is coming in rich.

Working on the release information, media kit, excerpts, promotion, etc. for GRAVE REACH, which releases on Thursday the 5th. I’m very excited about this book. I achieved what I set out to do with it. I learned a lot from this book, and that will feed in to the rest of the books in the series.

Working on THE QUALITY OF LIGHT, and also getting back into the revisions for THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE. Worked on the book for review. I hope to have the review out either later today or tomorrow, latest.

Was onsite with a client yesterday, getting into the holiday madness. Onsite again today. Finally got back to meditation group after missing the last two weeks. It was much-needed.

The sink is working just fine, but the toilet in the downstairs bathroom is still leaking, so the landlord is going to have to deal with it.

Still lots of decorating to do, especially in my office.

I’m enjoying the Advent calendars, though.

Need to start writing cards this week. The overseas cards need to go out on Friday.

One step at a time, one word at a time, one page at a time.

Monday, Dec. 2, 2019: Defining Joy #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of JillWelllington via pixabay.com

Monday, December 2, 2019
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

 

December is the month of joy here. With the Winter Holidays approaching, it makes sense to decide and define what gives us joy.

For me, especially around this season, it’s a combination of old and new traditions, decorating, baking, and doing unexpected small things for other people.

I’m a big believer in holiday cards. I sometimes cut it a little close getting them out, but it gives me pleasure to choose and write a card I think someone will enjoy, to let that person know I’m thinking of them.

I bake a lot at the holidays. I make platters with a central small cake or cupcakes and an assortment of cookies. I give those to neighbors and to people with whom I’ve had a lot of interaction over the year: the library, the mechanic, the firemen, the guy who mows the lawn, the postal carriers, etc. It gives me joy to give them something I made for them.

I go all out on the decorating. I have an entire closet in my storage room that’s the Christmas Closet, floor to ceiling winter holiday decorations (I celebrate more than Christmas in this season). I start decorating on the weekend after Thanksgiving. If I’m lucky, I get it all done by Christmas Eve! The cats know if they sit still too long, they might get decorated, too! Well, the new cats don’t know that yet, but they will.

I make the extra effort to smile at people and to say, “thank you” especially when I’m shopping. I don’t shop on Black Friday — there’s nothing I need that badly to make me wait in line in the cold for hours. I DO shop on Small Business Saturday.

I wrap up projects and look over my plans for the coming year.

When it comes to submissions, unless it’s a contracted deadline, I stop submitting by December 12 or 15, and don’t start up again until around January 6. People deserve a holiday.

It means organization on my part, to make sure I can clear as much as possible off my plate before then. If something comes in here and there for a quick turnaround, then I have the room for it.

I appreciate the decorating other people do, and the gestures they make, and the fun everyone wants to have. I try not to feel pressured by any of it, but to appreciate it. I don’t always succeed, but I try.

Instead of trying to do 20 more things, I try to do less. I work on the things that make me happy, and I steer away from that which makes me unhappy. I make an exception when it’s something that means a lot to someone who matters to me. Then I step up and do it — with grace, not grumble.

In my mind, the winter holidays are here to remind us that, even in when the weather is cold and the days short, we can create light by being joyful with and for each other. When it comes from the heart instead of because we feel it’s expected, then we can have a positive impact all around us.

I’ve talked about this all year — make a difference amongst your immediate neighbors, and start a ripple effect.

What gives you joy during this season?

 

Published in: on December 2, 2019 at 5:39 am  Comments Off on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019: Defining Joy #UpbeatAuthors  
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Tues. Dec. 18, 2018: Trying to Get it Done by . . .

Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

It was a busy weekend.

Ran around Friday, trying to get everything done earlier rather than later. Did not get enough writing done. I’m frustrated with myself.

Had a lovely grown-up evening in Boston with a friend — dinner out, concert at Symphony Hall, champagne bar, after-concert brandies at a cool, nearby bar. It was nice to dress up and go out, although it was odd to have tables and dining in a symphony hall, as far as I was concerned. A little too dinner theatre for me. We weren’t at a table; we were up in a box, which was much more to my liking.

Saturday morning, I made stollen from scratch. Stollen is a big deal tradition in our family. One used to get really good ones from Karl Ehmer, on the upper East side of NYC. Then, they went out of business, and it was a scramble, but one could usually find a decent kind.

Not lately. I swear, they’re made in February and left to get stale. They’re overpriced, undersized, and taste like cardboard dusted with powdered sugar.

So I decided to make the traditional Dresden stollen from scratch.

It took 8 hours. I started a little before 8 AM, and it was a little after 4 PM when it was done. It’s a long, involved, arduous process. But, I wound up with three stollen about three pounds each, and they’re really, really good. Wouldn’t do it more than once a year, though.

Also made beef stew, which turned out really well.

I’m thinking about reviving the cooking blog next year, but worried it’s too big a commitment.

Got a couple of thousand words written on THE LINGERIE TRAIL in and around the baking.

Sunday, I was wiped out. I had a hard time getting anything done. Got a little writing done. Had my phone off for most of the day, which was a relief.

Got up most of the interior lights. Still have to do the ones in my writing room. Put up the small tree in the writing room, with the blue and silver ornaments and the pearl garland. Got some of the other garlands up, and the nutcrackers out, and the boxes put away.

When I unpacked the little holiday stuffed animals, we discovered that someone had burrowed into the box through the handle and hidden acorns there over the summer and fall. Not sure if it was a squirrel or a chipmunk. They didn’t hurt the stuffed animals at all, just hid the acorns in the bottom of the box.

So everything had to be cleaned, and the box tossed. I put the acorns back outside. I felt guilty, but how did they get into the Christmas closet in the first place?

Monday was onsite with a client (the next few months will be, shall we say, challenging, to be nice about it). Then wrote up a cheat sheet to help a Twitter pal set up a blog on WP.

Then, a friend delivered a rug we’re inheriting. Not that I can put it anywhere until the holiday decorations come down.

Then, it was about running around delivering more cooking platters.

Tired much?

Today is about being onsite with one client, then doing some other work at a different location, and then delivering more platters.

I will be glad when it’s 4 PM on Wednesday. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed this week.

 

Published in: on December 18, 2018 at 6:16 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 18, 2018: Trying to Get it Done by . . .  
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Monday, Dec. 10, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors Holiday Decor With Personal History

Monday, Dec. 10, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

I admit it. I’m addicted to Victoria magazine, especially the holiday issue.

But when I do my own decorating, I need it to be more personal. Creating the environment I want doesn’t have to cost a lot.

But it does need patience.

I have an entire closet of Yuletide ornaments, collected over the years. Every year, I buy one or two pieces (often during the year at a thrift shop or yard sale). Or people give me ornaments as gifts. Every ornament has a story.

As we decorate each year, we tell and re-tell the stories. We relive and remember our family (meaning friends that are chosen family) history.

Nothing is there because a decorator told us to put it there. It’s there because we want it there.

When I lived in a NYC apartment, everything only fit one way. Now that I live in a house on Cape Cod, I rearrange things as I wish.

I have accumulated collections of nutcrackers, Santas, angels, snowmen, carolers, reindeer. They move around, rarely in the same place two years in a row.

Here are some other thrifty ideas that give us lots of pleasure.

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Fabric
I’ve picked up an assortment of fabric in an assortment of lengths throughout the year. Novelty holiday prints; velvets; solid colors, glittery fabric. I mix and match them, and I use them to cover tables, end tables, coffee tables, and any other surface that needs brightening up. Organza or silk or glittery strips can be used to swag around curtains or the tops of windows or door. I change out the fabric for all the holidays; it’s amazing how much difference it makes.

Most fabric I’ve picked up on sale or as remnants.

christmas-2999745_1920

Ribbon
Ribbon goes on sale throughout the year, and I grab it whenever I see it. We hang lengths of red velveteen ribbon along the sides of our doors and windows, topped with ornaments or found pine cones we attach to the top with florist twine.

Along the door ribbons, we tape our cards. We can look up and enjoy the holiday cards all season.

We also put holiday ribbon on any stuffed animals that are sitting around, or any of our carved or ceramic animals.

christmas-balls-1891598_1920
Natural objects
You don’t have to go to the store to buy cones and shells. I gather cones in the card, or get shells, sand dollars, etc. on the beach. I clean everything, of course. Some of it, I keep in its natural state (or maybe spray with clear varnish). Some I spray with gold or silver or copper or bronze paint, so they sparkle.

wreath-1081973_1920
Rather than buying a wreath made by someone else, I’ll buy a plain wreath or different greens at the garden center or the library’s green sale or on the Audubon Society’s holly walk and make my own. That way, each year’s is unique and personal.

Of course, you CAN spend a lot of money on any or all of this. But the items I tend to gravitate toward are usually the vintage, the ones I find at odd little sales, or from individual crafters. Or I find bits and pieces and put it together on my own.

To me, the process of decorating is part of the magic of the season. It makes me happy. It fulfills something in my spirit.

Whether it was the year I bought a 50 cent garland of musical instruments at Woolworth’s to hang up in my college dorm room (which I still have and use every year) or the Angel Tree Advent calendar I bought at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it all has personal meaning. And that makes it magical for me.

Published in: on December 10, 2018 at 6:33 am  Comments Off on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018: #UpbeatAuthors Holiday Decor With Personal History  
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Tues. Dec. 4, 2018: Writing and Annoyances

Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend.

Saturday morning, I met friends at the Cahoon Museum’s open house. We wanted to see the fiber art exhibit again, and revisit some of our favorite paintings. It was a wonderful way to spend the morning, and it also allowed me to plot a scene for a piece I’m playing with.

Ran some errands on the way back. Got a new carbon monoxide detector to replace the one that gave up the ghost in the basement. Had to go to multiple stores to find the red and green candles I need for the Advent table, because heaven forbid a store had them in stock. And DON’T tell me to “order online” when I’ve made the effort to support your brick-and-mortar store. That really annoys me.

Home, wrote a few pages of another project, read a bit, more decorating.

I also finalized the recipe for the Stained Glass Cupcakes. They are really, really good. I’m glad I could get them right. It took a few months, but it was worth it.

Finished reading the second book in a series. I’d loved, loved, loved the first book (it makes me “favorites” for the year). I loved the beginning of the second, but the further the story went, the angrier I got. The craft was great, but the plot — it reinforced anti-female clichés that I found personally insulting, and I found the female characters’ revenge justified, not that they were villains. There was also too much unnecessary animal murder in it. I nearly decided not to read the third book in the series — although it takes place backstage at a theatre.

Slept in on Sunday, which was nice, and then got to work. Managed 6 1/2 chapters of BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, which puts me in a good position. Wrote about 4 pages of another project, and plotted out some more of the erotic adventure story in space with which I’m playing.

I have to finish the short for the newsletter; I want to get the newsletter out next week.

More decorating; finally starting to get some of the boxes put away. But it takes awhile. My office and the back room are still in chaos, and need to be sorted out; I still have no idea where I’ll display the angels, the nutcrackers, and some other ceramic figures. And the tree topper’s not working, so I have to come up with something else.

It will all work out. It always does.

Finished a book I had to review, and wrote the review yesterday. I wanted to like it more than I actually liked it. It has serious logistical problems.

The first Bush president died over the weekend. The photo of his service dog lying in front of the coffin is heartbreaking. But now everyone acts like he’s a saint. He wasn’t. He was part of the GOP long game that brought us Trump. He did it more for country than self, and I wish his family peace, but I worked as a military case worker volunteer for the Red Cross during Desert Storm. I was furious about the way he handled it, and how it led to 9/11. Not to mention all the other typically-Republican positions he took. Just because he was a better human being than the Narcissistic Sociopath (and that bar is pretty low) doesn’t make him a shining light.

Monday morning’s first writing session was derailed by idiots with leafblowers who started at 7:30 in the morning—even though everything was soaked from the storm the night before. I am so sick of them. Two hours later, when I left to work with my client, they were still there.

Worked with a client yesterday. Exhausting. Today and tomorrow will be more of the same. Some changes are going on with this client that will make life difficult for the first few months of next year.

Back to the page.

 

Published in: on December 4, 2018 at 6:15 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 4, 2018: Writing and Annoyances  
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Tues. Nov. 27, 2018: Busy Season is Here

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Waning Moon
Neptune DIRECT (as of Saturday)
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving last week.

We drove to Maine, leaving early on Wednesday. We managed to thread the needle through the Big Dig tunnel, avoiding the bulk of the traffic, and getting through it only moments before a breakdown in the tunnel caused problems.

Our preferred hotel in Ogunquit was closed for the holiday, so we found another one, in Wells. It was fine. It had a kitchenette, which always helps, but the space was cramped, and the shower only had hot water for three minutes.

Hit my favorite thrift shop in York, and got some adorable decorations to add to the decoration family.

We got our favorite pizza from our favorite pizza joint in the area, Da Napoli. On the way back, I ran into a snow squall. From clear to whiteout in seconds. It was like someone poured a giant vat of sugar over the road.

Got some writing done, on a couple of different projects. Tried to watch TV, but it was dreadful. The news has a single sound byte and then a half a dozen commercials. There isn’t any actual reporting going on. The shows don’t even have scenes any more, just moments. But at least Comcast doesn’t run everything up in Maine.

Thursday was the coldest in years, although clear. 8 degrees, but it felt like in the minus numbers. We drove up to Gray. We always rent out the American Legion Hall. This year, we had 63 for dinner. I mashed, I believe it was, 108 pounds of white potatoes, and 40 pounds of sweet potatoes. Lots of people I hadn’t seen in years were there, and it was fun to catch up.

I felt bad for my mom. This year, she was the oldest one at the dinner (at 94). All her contemporaries have died. It was difficult for her.

We ate, we cleaned up (everyone helps with everything), we went back to the motel to recover. It was fun, but exhausting. For an introvert, that’s a lot of people.

Friday morning, we hit the road early. Stopped at Stonewall Kitchen in York to stock up on our favorite things, and then headed home. There was a lot of traffic, but it was moving. We made another stop at Market Basket when we came over the bridge, to stock up, and were home a little after noon.

The cats were glad to see us, but they’d coped just fine while we were gone.

Unpacked, and switched out the harvest fabric to the holiday fabric on various surfaces. I felt like I was coming down with something, and hoped I was wrong.

Saturday, I had a sore throat, but pushed ahead. We took 300 gallons of leaves to the dump, then raked up another 330 gallons. We got the tree in the stand, and the lights on it. I hate putting on the lights, but when we took them off last year, I took the time to pack them differently and mark them, and that made all the difference this year.

While raking, sorted out the scenes for the holiday story I want to include in the newsletter this year. It will be short — 3, maybe 4 scenes, inspired by the fireplace at the rest area on the border between New Hampshire and Maine on I-95.

Cleared off one of the bureaus, to set up the Santa collection, and wound up polishing the whole piece. It looks wonderful, so it was worth it. But the Santas didn’t look right there, so they’re back on the behemoth. For now, the carolers are on the bureau and the herd of deer are on the mantel, but it might all move around.

By Sunday, I was sick, sick, sick. Curled up and read all day. Made chicken soup from scratch. Read a wonderful book called THE STRINGS OF MURDER by Oscar de Muriel, set in Victorian Edinburgh.

Yesterday, I was too sick to work onsite with my client. I probably could have pushed through, but didn’t want to sneeze and cough all over my client and colleagues. Dropping off library books and picking stuff up at CVS was about all I could handle.

Today, I’ll be onsite with my client, prepping for her holiday sales. Busy weeks coming up, with the holidays, and all. I need to get the overseas cards written.

I am disgusted by the administration’s policy firing on asylum seekers and threatening to close the border — all while Russia is making a move in the Crimea. I am sick and tired of no one DOING anything about the corruption in this administration.

I need to get back to the page. BALTHAZAAR is going along well, and I need to make sure that stays on schedule. In the meantime, I need to tear apart DAVY JONES DHARMA and fix it, so that it stay on its new release date schedule.

And I have a review to write.

I watched a documentary about Canaletto, one of my favorite painters, and got an idea to write a play about his sisters. Not sure if that will be pitched to 365 Women or elsewhere. But I think that will be the play after the anti-gun violence play is done.

In the meantime, trying to really get well. I’m better, but still get tired quickly.

Onward, and back to the page.

Published in: on November 27, 2018 at 6:49 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 27, 2018: Busy Season is Here  
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Tues. Dec. 19, 2017: Holiday Hamster Wheel

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Busy weekend, but not as productive, writing-wise, as I wanted.

I wasn’t able to get the rest of the cookie platter deliveries done on Friday, due to weather. I knew most people wouldn’t be around over the weekend, so they’ve been bumped to this week.

I was exhausted by the car repairs Friday, even though it went well. I find it stressful. But the car purrs like a tiger, and is happy.

I turned around the proofs for TRACKING MEDUSA, and have the next set to proof. Hopefully, we’ve caught everything. I should have done them this weekend, but I wanted to come back to the text with fresh eyes. Yeah, right. I needed a break and procrastinated!

Continued decorating Friday, Saturday, and it was Sunday by the time the decorations were all up and the boxes put away. Took me a month to decorate the house, but it looks great! It feels good, too, and that’s so important. For all I love to travel, I’m very much hearth and home.

Friday afternoon, I finished the gifts that had to be mailed and got them to the post office. We are so lucky — the people who work at Centerville Post Office are amazing!

Saturday, I sat my butt in the chair and wrote the holiday cards. Once I actually sit down, I enjoy the process. I love to reconnect with people; while I send cards to many of those with whom I interact regularly, there are also those where we only connect that once a year.

I realized I should do a direct mail piece, once the two novels move distributors and the new websites are up, about my books to this targeted list. They know I write, but I haven’t given them enough information.

Because my webhost, 1and1.com, is so slimy — I mean, have you ever heard of a webhost that won’t allow simple jpgs to go up on a site without additional charge? Anyway, it’s put the kybosh on the holiday promotions I’d planned. I lost the holiday market this year, because I couldn’t properly promote. Because of the distribution move, I need to be able to have the information, along with the covers and media kits, ON MY WEBSITES. And my host won’t allow it. The repeal of net neutrality early for their customers, I guess.

I didn’t expect to make a gazillion dollars on holiday sales, but I usually make a reasonable amount that helps push me through January and February. Not this year.

I’m going to demand my money back for this final quarter. They did not deliver the services promised in the contract.

Anyway, once everything is moved, I’m going to do a direct mail promotion to my holiday list, and then I’m also working on some other cool promotions winter going into spring, with a nice big one for the Coventina titles while THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY releases, joining PLAYING THE ANGLES on the shelf.

I ran out of stamps on Saturday — I’d miscalculated. Well, math has never been my best subject. The post office was open an extra hour and I ran down to re-stock. Well, the line was out both doors into the parking lot! I couldn’t believe how many people were mailing stacks and stacks of packages! Most people mailed at least five; many mailed at least ten! Everyone was in a good mood, though, and we were laughing and joking and talking about how great our post office is, and how we love supporting them.

Came back, finished the cards. One mail carrier took the first batch when he dropped off a package; our regular guy arrived just a few minutes after I finished the last card. All good!

Did some work on the aging novel. I’m going to add menopause into that. Too often, it’s depicted as cute and funny when, in reality, it’s miserable and interferes with life.

Sunday, we finished decorating and put things away –which took nearly all damn day.

In and around that, I wrote the first chapter and a half of a piece I’m playing with — it could be a valid novel in its own right, but it also serves a more personal purpose, as in trying to figure a few things out.

Yes, I SHOULD have worked on other things, but I needed the break.

Monday, was back to work on SERENE AND DETERMINED — I’ve figured out at least part of the second act, and where I want to go with it, but I need a good ending. I have to trust that, as I write, I’ll get there. This play has been quite a challenge. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s amazing how every play, every script, every novel, takes on its own life and demands its own process. If I tried to force everything into the same process (which I have tried — and it’s failed), it takes the life out of the work.

I needed an infusion of Janet Malcolm’s writing. I like her work. Over the weekend, I re-read THE JOURNALIST AND THE MURDERER, and am reading THE SILENT WOMAN. Both fascinating, and both bring up issues about journalist and subject that are more relevant today than ever.

I’m about two issues behind on my NEW YORKERS, but I’m hoping to catch up next weekend! (When I’ll be three issues behind).

One client meeting was cancelled yesterday, so I was on site with another client, and then has some other meetings.

I’m working on a proposal for a workshop — they might have their full roster, but just in case, I’m going to pitch to this organization.

This is a busy week, especially with the Solstice on Thursday, and Christmas next weekend into early next week!

 

Mon. Dec. 5, 2016: Resting the Foot & Writing the Play

Monday, December 5, 2016
Waxing Moon
Rainy/Snowy/cold

I had to rest my foot most of the weekend. I paid for the vanity of four-inch heels on Thursday night. But it was worth it.

I’m binge-reading Vicky Delany’s Constable Molly Smith books and really like them. So well written! They’re set in British Columbia, and I like the sense of place I get from them, as much as I enjoy the characters.

Playing with ideas, seeing what works and doesn’t. Finishing the play about the 14th Century pirate, and trying to find a better title.

Reading PISTOLS AND PETTICOATS, a research book that I decided I needed to own, and therefore ordered, I got an idea for a pilot script/series that I will then adapt to books. I wrote the first thirteen pages, and like it a lot. If I can keep the novels nice and lean, but inspired by a lot of the real detail, I think I’ll have something worthwhile.

Did some work on the TAPESTRY revisions. It needs a big re-envisioning, not just tweaking, before it’s ready to go out. I hope I can get it done by mid-January.

The focus right now, however, needs to be on the two plays that need to go out, and on the short story that’s due at the end of the month. I have another invitation to submit to an anthology, but that’s not due for a few months. It’s up my alley, so I’m percolating ideas.

I should be decorating, but I don’t feel like it. I ‘m lacking holiday spirit this year. But it may well be the last holiday in this house, so I want to make the most of it. I’m just so weary, and I have so little hope for the future in this country.

The weather is lousy today. I want to focus on writing and decorating.

Tomorrow is my shift at Spectacle of Trees, representing the Marine Life Center. So I’ll write in the morning, and spend the afternoon there. Saturday is the big drawing, Sunday is the clean-up, Monday the ticket count.

Somewhere in all of this, I need to write holiday cards and do my baking!

Somehow, it will all get done. Although I’d rather stay in bed until about 2020. Although I doubt we’ll have a country left by then.

On a positive, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been successfully blocked through Native lands, at least for the moment. I hope this isn’t a ploy to get everyone to clear out and then they start up again. At least there’s one victory to give us hope.

Back to the page. Tomorrow morning, I have to run errands before my shift at Spectacle starts, and I have to write. Wednesday morning, the first play has to go out.

Tonight is St. Nicholas night — put out your shoe!

Onward!

Devon

Published in: on December 5, 2016 at 10:03 am  Comments Off on Mon. Dec. 5, 2016: Resting the Foot & Writing the Play  
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Mon. Oct. 3, 2016: Preparing for Planning

Monday, October 03, 2016
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and warm

We’ve gotten some much-needed rain in the past few days. Of course, that means I have a lot of yard work ahead of me in order to put the yard to bed for the winter!

I’ve done a lot of writing the past week. The revisions on CHOLERIC are coming along well, although more slowly than I would like. But that’s okay; it’s not on contract, so I can do it well instead of just doing it fast. I like what’s happening with it. By taking it out of the realm of “cozy”, which is where it started, I have a much more interesting, complex, and relevant piece. I figure it will need at least one or two more passes, once I finish this draft, before it’s ready to submit.

I’m behind on the plays, and need to get back on track with those.

I’m also playing with a few ideas, that are inspired by things I’ve read, conversations I’ve had lately, and I want to explore them to see if they’re worth a big project. So far, they all are; I will have to pick and choose and figure out how to work them into the schedule. So I’m giving myself quotas for each thing I need to get done, and spreading out my time.

It’s so interesting, because a couple of these projects were inspired by nostalgic musings, but I’m exploring how things have changed for people in that realm.

Heard from someone with whom I worked at The Other Place, which was a surprise. It’s someone I liked, so I was glad to hear from her, but I thought it was interesting that, all this time later, I hear from someone.

No one I’ve run into from that time has addressed the elephant in the room. Everyone’s acted like nothing ever happened. Eye-rollingly unhealthy.

But, ultimately, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have time to fret. I can acknowledge how ridiculous everything is, but my energy is better spent elsewhere. Like on my work.

All of this is material.

I’m figuring out a series of promotions to launch, for the Jain Lazarus books, for the Digital Delights, and for the Topic Workbooks. I’ll let everyone know when I figure out what it is I’m doing!

Cooking, decorating for Samhain, laundry, writing. A good, busy week. I’ve signed the lease on the house for another year, so the home front is at least stable until next fall.

After the holidays, I will start making the decisions about where I go for my next adventure.

Devon

Published in: on October 3, 2016 at 8:48 am  Comments Off on Mon. Oct. 3, 2016: Preparing for Planning  
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Wed. Oct. 14, 2015: Decorating and Cleaning and Writing

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Busy weekend! I was exhausted by the time I got off work on Saturday, and chilled out. I scored a terrific chair on a curb alert that is almost a Captain’s Chair – it needs some TLC, but will be gorgeous when it’s done.

Sunday was about running around and doing errands. Picked up some stuff at K-mart, went to Home Goods and found new covers for the daybeds in the back bedroom. They look gorgeous! Got some stuff at Christmas Tree shops – my mom found some adorable bowls she fell in love with, so we got them!

More decorating done. I did a couple of coats of stain on the new chair Sunday and Monday. From being a rather non-descript brown, I’ve stained it with “ebony” — it’s not black, but it’s a lovely, very dark brown. It’ll be gorgeous when it’s done.

I worked on prototypes of ornaments for the Marine Life Center Tree. I liked what I came up with – hopefully my colleagues will, too!

I also had one of those lightning bolts of an idea and took some notes. A contemporary piece, and could be a lot of fun, if I can pull it off. Tempting to use that as my Nano piece and DO Nano instead of writing along WITH Nano. But I’m seriously worried about overextending myself, especially when TIE-CUTTER is chugging along so well, and I still have to f inish the historical play.

The landlord came over on Monday and we did some heavy-duty pruning. The Tree Frogs will come by soon and take down the big broken limb of the maple that’s too high for us to reach.

My mom and I did a quick once-over all the photos and documents from my late uncle. Fascinating stuff, and there will be a lot to research.

Got in some good writing on Saturday and Sunday. I chose to take Monday off from writing, although I percolated plenty. Tuesday, it was all about vacuuming and washing floors and cleaning the carpets in preparation for the inspection.

It was pouring down with rain, and he got caught in the weather, so he was late, but once he got here, it was quick and smooth. I even made it to the Spectacle of Trees meeting on time. It was a good, busy meeting.

Home, got a chicken into the oven, relaxed on the deck for a bit. There aren’t that many days we can still sit out!

Watching the final season of SIX FEET UNDER. It’s so interesting to see how the series grew.

Up early to bake spice cupcakes for tomorrow’s program. Had a good writing morning. It will be a long day at work today, but that’s okay.

Enjoy!

Devon

Published in: on October 14, 2015 at 9:31 am  Comments Off on Wed. Oct. 14, 2015: Decorating and Cleaning and Writing  
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