Tues. July 12, 2022: Building a Sense of Creative Community

image courtesy of ds_30 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Sunny, warm, humid

There’s a quick post over on the GDR site about how too many prompts, etc. can be counterproductive.

Friday was actually pretty fun. I wrote the first draft of the one act in the morning. I did my errands: gas station, couple of stores to get hardware and more pots, library, wine store. Ran into my friend the baker at the library, and made plans to get together at the Farmers’ Market Saturday.

Home, and got everything unpacked.

Did my first Duolingo Italian assignment. I’m keeping my expectations low, just 10 minutes per day. The first lesson breezed right past. Having a little bit of French definitely helped. I could see correlations. What I’m not sure about is if I’m actually learning the vocabulary, because a lot of “writing the sentences” was about choosing the words that made the most sense. But am I really learning them? Still, it was fun, and if I feel comfortable with the Italian lessons in a few months, I might see if I can level up my French with them, too.

I kept up with the Duolingo assignments every day all weekend. I enjoy them, but I also need an Italian textbook to understand some of the “whys” behind the choices.

Saturday was Farmers’ Market Day. The weather was gorgeous, the stalls filled to bursting with glorious offerings. I stocked up on large tomatoes, cucumbers, baby red potatoes, fennel, sugar snap peas, lemon basil, eggs, espresso coffee cake muffins, banana bread – just wonderful. It’s as much as social/community experience as a shopping one. The regulars chat with each other, it’s full of friendly dogs making friends, everyone is cheerful and happy to be there. I look forward to going there every week.

I talked to my friend the baker about commissioning her to make the cheesecake for my mom’s 98th birthday in October. Cheesecake is my mom’s favorite, and she should have a good one. I always buy one (because I am terrible at making cheesecake), and I’d rather the money go to a local, small business, really talented baker.

I popped into the grocery store to build around the FM finds, then headed off to Wild Oats, the co-op, to fill in a couple of other things, and then to another grocery store on the way home to pick up something I knew they carried.

The stores have put the signs back up “recommending” and “requesting” people masks again, regardless of vaccination status. Locals have been good about it throughout, but it’s tourist season, and while it’s nowhere near as whackadoodle here as it was on Cape, there are still germy nasties roaming around.

At one of the grocery stores, a white (of course) woman whined to the manager, “I’m on vacation. I don’t want to wear a mask, and I shouldn’t have to look at anyone else wearing a mask. Maybe I’ll just take my tourist dollars and go home.”

I stopped my masked ass the requisite social distance from her and said, “You’re gone, we’re alive, sounds like a win to me.”

She did that guppy face thing, and the manager cracked up.

Because fucking tourists.

The Cape’s COVID numbers have gone way up (of course). Makes me glad I’m not there anymore; makes me worry about friends and colleagues living/visiting/working there.

We were considering taking our two-day autumn break at the tip of the Cape, on the beach, but my mom said, “No way am I going to Cape Cod when they continue to behave like selfish idiots.” And then I got an email from the state health whatever about how the highest rate of monkeypox in the state is in Provincetown, so yeah, we’ll skip it.

So we will go elsewhere. Maybe the coast of Maine or to Newport. I just want to sit somewhere overlooking ocean and read books for two days. No sightseeing (which is why it makes sense to go somewhere familiar). No indoor dining. A room/cottage with a deck, an ocean view, and books. A room with a fridge, and we’ll do takeout. If there’s a kitchen, I can cook. Although, hey, vacation, maybe I’ll stick with takeout. If the virus numbers keep going up, we aren’t going anywhere.

Speaking of cooking (note the segue way), I used the lemon basil from the market and made pesto, because I do love pesto, and I love Full Well Farm’s lemon basil, so lemon basil pesto it is.

I made vegetable stock in the crockpot, which worked well. I’ll freeze one jar and keep the other two in the fridge to use up.

Saturday afternoon, I could not put it off any longer, and finished the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell. Because the directions are so bad, I had to take something apart, do the next step, then do the thing I had to take apart, because if I did it in the order of the directions, I could get at the bit that needed to be done next. But by flipping the order, I could do both. Also, they kept instructing work done on it when it was sideways on the floor, when it made more sense to work on the bottom when it was upside down, and I could use my bodyweight. It was impossible to tighten the top the way the instructions ordered – there was no way to get in a tool to do it in that space. I’m trusting gravity, and, if need be, later on, Gorilla glue. The piece for the back wasn’t cut square, but I managed to nudge it to at least cover what needs to be covered. The doors splintered when the hardware was fastened. So they are put aside. I found one of my old tension rods, and I’m using the sewing mouse café curtains that always adorned my offstage workstation off-Broadway at theatres like the Variety Arts. They’re a little long and wrong, but until I can make other curtains (I have good fabric in my stash), they will do. I will also get some fabric for the back of the cart, because it’s so darn ugly I can’t stand to look at it. I will trim it and Velcro it onto the back, so that I can wash it when needed.

But the drawer (I built a drawer; I’m so proud) and the shelves  and the top are fine. The Tupperware is in the bottom, and the baking pans I had stacked over the cabinets nearest the kitchen window all fit. Now I have room, on that cabinet top, for the teapots I’m bringing up from the next storage run. The top is a good workspace, and I always need more workspace.

But I was achy and tired by the end of the day.

Sunday was another beautiful, sunny, temperate day. The wreath we bought the weekend after Thanksgiving, hung on the door for the Winter Yule season, then stripped of ornaments and hung on the living room since, just started drying up. So I stripped the wreath. I have one jar of small needles/twigs for Winter Solstice. I have 5 jars of pine needles stripped from the rest of it.

What would you use pine needles for? Glad you asked. Incense, sachets, charms, bath mixtures, and potpourri. For instance, for this holiday season, I’ll pour pine needles in a bowl, take an orange, stud it with whole cloves, toss in some cinnamon sticks, and there’s a holiday scent without anything perfumy. I can take a cheesecloth or linen bag, put in pine needles, rosemary, and orange or lemon peel, and put it in the bathwater. (Trust me, you want it a bag you can soak and then dump, not loose in the water. Learn from my missteps. There are places on the human body in which pine needles should never venture).

I’ll keep the frame, in case I want to build some other kind of wreath using it.

Tessa helped. She loves anything scented (and I think she misses my stillroom as much as I do). Willa watched from a safe distance. Charlotte slept through the whole thing.

But most of Sunday was mellow, enjoying reading, being on the porch, playing with the cats, etc. The neighborhood was quiet, because people took advantage of the nice weather to go out and do things Elsewhere. Which meant Here was quiet.

I finished the Shirley Jackson biography and read Thomas Lynch’s wonderful poems WALKING PAPERS. He is a poet who is also an undertaker. I have several of his books to read.

Sauteed fresh trout from the local fishmonger in butter, with salt and pepper, boiled fresh red potatoes (from Red Shirt Farm) and served them with butter, and blanched sugar snap peas (from Full Well Farm) in boiling water, then tossed them with sesame oil and parsley. Absolute bliss, tasting real flavors.

I’m enjoying the kitchen island cart. The additional workspace is wonderful.

Went to bed ridiculously early. Woke up at 1:30, but went back to sleep, until Tessa and Charlotte rousted me out of bed around 5:30.

Got the email box down from over 700 emails to 67. Worked on my day’s Italian lesson. Created interview questions for a project. Did a run to the library and the grocery store to pick up something forgotten over the weekend. Worked out a visit in a few weeks to a friend I haven’t seen since before I moved to the Cape (although we always kept in touch).

I’m having trouble with my keyboard. It’s only working on the top half of the screen. More Windows 11-HP-McAfee miscommunication, no doubt.

The dickhead postal carrier AGAIN put my box in the mail slot, where I can’t get it out because the residence side is 1” smaller than the postal slot. Seven fucking months this has gone on. So I wrote it all out in a formal letter to the postmaster. If it continues, I’ll file the complaint through the main USPS system. I was polite in the letter and asked for better training, even though I know, after seven months of conversations and notes with this guy, he’s just being a dick.

Read a script in the afternoon, but didn’t finish the analysis. I will do that today, and read another script that came up in the queue, only the file was corrupted, so I had to request a new copy. That came through, so all good.

In the early evening, I went over to Greylock Works, the converted mill, that’s a really cool space now. The Northern Berkshire Artist Meetup was there, coordinated by several groups. It was a mixed experience. Cool space. But indoors, and not everyone was masking (I, of course, did). With food and drink, even those masking had to remove them sometimes. More people in the space than I was comfortable with, although the fans and ventilation system was strong.

Some very cool people. I met an older artist who calls works in “oversized political origami” and married to a guy who was a Madison Avenue adman in 1960’s NYC. I met a filmmaker/sculptor/teacher. I met a guy who moved up here from DC with his poet boyfriend (I told him about the World’s Largest Poem). And, in passing, a bunch of other people. One chick announced, “Oh, my husband just tested positive for COVID. Maybe I should wear a mask?” and started giggling. No, hon, you should LEAVE.

Everyone near by stepped back, and those who weren’t masking scrambled to put theirs on. Fortunately, she was way more than 6 feet away (more like 12 or 16, but hey, airborne). I stayed away.

The new director of MASSMoCA, Kristy Edmunds, was the guest speaker, sharing her views on sustainable creative practice, and her vision to help artists shape and live sustainably creative lives (in other words, paid for their work and supported). She takes the time to get to know people in the community as individuals, not just the big donors. That makes a huge difference. She was really interested in talking to us, and in continued conversation. Several other organizations/agencies distributed information and resources. There’s a lot to tap into, and a lot of sharing of resources going on.

I left soon after the talk and those conversations. I would have liked to stay and listen to the music, but too many people indoors and, I’m not yet comfortable with that. As it is, I’m going to be a paranoid hypochondriac for the next 10 days, watching for symptoms. But, as the friend who worked on the vaccine pointed out, I’m probably exposed to just as much virus every time I got into the grocery store. I need to keep masking, remain cautious, and let the vaccines do their job.

I was masked. Let’s hope this wasn’t a miscalculation. I’ll know soon enough, right? When I came home, I went through the old, pre-vaccine decontamination protocols, just in case.

I didn’t get much sleep, thanks to Charlotte and Tessa hurling furballs all night. The cats have shed their summer coats already, and are growing in thick winter coats. The squirrels are putting things away for winter (destroying a lot of the plants on the balcony). It bodes for a tough winter.

Up early this morning (because it’s hard to sleep through hurling furballs). Off to the laundromat. Worked on the multi-colored draft of The Big Project. I’d like to work on revisions for the one acts, but I have to get the Big Project where it needs to be, so the announcement can go out next week, and the marketing push can begin. I will also follow up on the cards/postcards/contacts I collected yesterday.

I may, however, need to take a nap somewhere in there. The cats, of course, are all fast asleep.

I have some bills to drop in the box at the bottom of the road, but I’m going to spend the morning on Topic Workbooks and The Big Project, and the afternoon on script coverage. This evening, I will start reading the next book for review.

That’s the catch up. Hope you’re having a great week.

Tues. June 21, 2022: Creativity in Multiple Directions

image courtesy of Chris Martin via pixabay.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)

Cloudy and pleasant

Friday turned out to be an up and down workday. I spent some time working the class I’m teaching in August, preparing both the Topic Workbook for it and the PowerPoint. Some of my examples have not aged well over the past couple of years, so I’m switching them out.

I hopped onto Pages on Stages to do some updates, and it was an absolute mess. The posts page had somehow detached from News & Updates. Most of the time, I got the white screen of death when I tried to get on or switch pages.

I was lucky to land some excellent techs at A2Hosting, and together, we spent a couple of hours sorting it out. I am very grateful, and told them directly, and on social media. Hey, if I’m going to moan on social media when a company is awful, I have the obligation to praise when a company comes through.

I need to put up a media room page on that site eventually, with links to productions.

I did a library run to drop off/pick up books. It started raining when I left (on foot). I almost turned back, but it stopped within two minutes, so I continued.

Turned around a script in the afternoon. My Llewellyn contract came through, so I’m good to go on that article after 4th of July weekend.

I’m playing with a very dark idea for an anthology call edited by a friend. I don’t know if I can pull it off within word count by deadline, but I will try.

Reading an article in THE NEW YORKER about a new production of HAMLET spawned an idea for a new project that mashes up two genres that seem weird, but just might work. I have to finish what I’m working on first, though, before I hie off on anything else. I made some notes, to capture characters and energy, and now that project has to wait its turn.

Tessa started howling at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday. I moved to the sewing room, but she was not mollified. We no longer leave her food down at night for her 2 AM snack, because the others are eating it, and Willa is putting on too much weight. However, Madame Tessa Is Not Amused. She wants her 2 AM snack.

Got the proof done on “Personal Revolution”, fixed a couple of formatting things, and it is out. The re-release happens June 28. Once I get links and stuff, there will be a push for it.

Now, I have to decide what’s the next Digital Delight to come off Smashwords and switch over to D2D. Probably “Severance.” I want a new cover for that, too. Or maybe I’ll take down “Plot Bunnies” and put it up with the next Twinkle Tavern piece that hasn’t yet released, “Labor Intensive.”

Headed to the Farmers’ Market. I didn’t need much, but made the rounds to chat with the vendors; ran into people I knew from other spaces, such as the library, and we were chatting as to how it’s often hard to place people out of context. You know that you know them from somewhere. . .

Quick grocery shop from the store. Didn’t need much. Home, put it all away, lugged 66 pounds of cat litter up the stairs (Chewy delivery).

Then, I spent the rest of the day trying to put together the kitchen island cart I ordered. I wasn’t even close to finishing after 6 hours (it’s supposed to take 2 people 70 minutes). The directions were incomplete, so I had to hunt for another set online. The drawings aren’t detailed enough with some of the pieces, so then I had to find various videos of similar pieces to figure out the details, so I wouldn’t put something on incorrectly and have to take it apart again.  And the design is so poor that, by following the directions, I had no room to maneuver the tools needed to tighten the next thing in the directions. Very frustrating.

If I ever get it put together, I think it will be a decent piece, though.

Used bounty from the Farmers’ Market to make a pasta primavera in Alfredo sauce (and used our own basil for it).

Started reading a biography of Balzac, before I go and re-read some of the novels.

By evening, every damn thing hurt and I went to bed ridiculously early. I slept well, dreaming of various gardens, which was rather nice.

Worked on an ad and other promotional materials for the re-release of “Personal Revolution” on Sunday. Started getting the pre-order buy links. I’m adding them onto the various websites as I get them. The release is holding to June 28.

Played with some other graphic tools to try to get comfortable. Since I can’t seem to do all of what I need with any single tool, I’m learning how to mix and match bits of what I want to do in different programs to get to the whole. It’s actually less irritating that trying to figure out a single program.

Made a logo for the project inspired by the article yesterday. If THAT’s not putting the cart before the horse and all, right? But it gave me an excuse to play with learning something new.

Worked on the newsletter. If you haven’t yet signed up for it, you can do so here. It will go out later this week. And, hint – in the newsletter, I reveal what The Big Project is really all about! So if you’re interested in finding out what I’ve been yapping about for months, calling it “the Big Project” you will find out before the hoi-polloi.

I created a bunch of ads for the Big Project, too, and they are really cool. I’m having way too much fun creating these ads. I’m trying to capture the voice of the piece in the ads.

One of the best things I started doing is opening a new document for the upcoming newsletter and adding information on projects over the course of the quarter. That way, I don’t have to scramble to remember what I did, and what I want to talk about.

Made more vegetable stock. Because buying all these vegetables from the market means I have lots of bits and bobs left over for stock. Not at a zero waste kitchen yet, but working on it.

Most of the day was spent on working on things around The Big Project, which will save me time and effort once it launches in July. It was a lot of fun.

I couldn’t face the kitchen island cart on Sunday. I needed the time away.

Slept well Sunday into Monday. Got caught up on some blogging, and blogged ahead. There’s a post on healing over on the GDR site, if you’re interested.

Planted some of the borage seeds and more cat grass. Got through nearly 400 emails. Sent out two LOIs. Worked on an anthology story.

The Authors Guild is doing a Words, Ideas, and Thinkers Festival this September over in Lenox, which is close by. Well, okay, about an hour, but just about everything is at least an hour away. They sent me an invite to attend, and I accepted. It’s in the calendar. I mean, if the COVID numbers are way up again at that point, I’ll cancel, but I know the venue, and they have good protocols in place. I’m hoping it will be safe to attend. I’m sure I’ll be masked, no matter what.

Since I didn’t have any scripts in my queue, I spent the afternoon on the porch, reading the next book for review. This morning, I will send off the review, and hopefully get assigned the next book before my editor goes on vacation.

Made a sausage pasta for dinner, and it was yummy. We have plenty of leftovers for the week (most of them pasta).

The B plotline has switched with the A plotline in the anthology story. It makes it a quieter story, and I hope the editor doesn’t feel it no longer fits the tone of the overall anthology. We’ll see. It’s for a created world, so it’s not like I could use it anywhere else if it’s rejected, not without major, major re-envisioning. But trying to force it the other way wasn’t working. All I can do is send in the best piece I can to this point, and then get notes on it, and apply them.

The other anthology story I need to get out by the end of the month is percolating in the back of my brain. I’ll be making the bed or chopping onions, sorting through plot possibilities: If I do A, with D work, or should I go with E? That type of thing. Hopefully, once the shared world story is out, I will have figured out enough of the other piece to just sit down and draft.

Slept well last night, although I woke up about every two hours (similar to what I was doing last year at this time). By 3 AM, Charlotte and Tessa were fussing. They woke me from a dream where I was temping at a company. I’d brought in blueberry muffins. Their kitchen/breakroom was stacked high with empty/used takeout containers and dirty dishes. They told me to clean the kitchen. I told them I was there to type, not be the maid. They laughed and said they couldn’t get any of the wives to come in and clean. I told them maybe they should stop being sexist and  learn to clean up after their own damn selves.

That definitely happened to me more than once in my temping years, but I didn’t recognize this company or these people. Something about the dream made me think it took place in Chicago, and I never temped in Chicago. New York, Westchester, San Francisco, Seattle, yeah. Chicago, no.

I moved to the couch. Charlotte settled on top of me, Tessa rummaged. I dozed off and dreamed about more boxes (echoes of the move, no doubt). Willa woke me around 5:30, telling me she was Very Hungry, so I got up and fed them.

Plenty to do today, even without scripts in the queue, although I hope some more show up, so I can make my goal this pay period.

Last year today was the day the movers were supposed to show up and did not. I am glad we are where we are (and that it isn’t as hot as it was at this point last year, either).

I have every intention of enjoying the Summer Solstice, even though it’s supposed to rain.

Have a good one.