Tues. Jan. 24, 2023: Digging Out

image courtesy of Richard Duijnstee via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Waxing Moon

No Retrogrades

Snowy and cold

Whew! Finally, we are done, for a brief shining moment with retrogrades, since Uranus went direct on Sunday the 22nd.

Which was also Chinese Lunar New Year, and we are now in the Year of the Water Rabbit.

Which is why tomorrow was chosen as the launch day for ANGEL HUNT.

Got all that?

Good. Now we can sit down for our usual Tuesday natter.

Friday seems oh, so very long away. It snowed all day. I did the section of the Heist Romance set in Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland (yes, I’ve been there, too), back in London, and on the Eurostar to Paris. I spent about an hour and a half putting together a list of resources for a close friend of mine, who’s feeling stuck, and sent that off. Heard from a friend of a friend, who recently moved to the area and is now working at Williams College; we will get together when she feels more settled.

In the afternoon, I read both books for review, and then read for pleasure in the evening.

We got closer to 3 inches than six inches of snow overnight, but because of the constant freezing and snowing, digging out the car was not fun. But I did so, and got to the library to pick up the stack of 8 books waiting for me. So at least I have those in before the next storm.

The rest of the materials for the incomplete coverage arrived, so I read them and started the coverage. Did the usual Saturday chores, like changing the beds, etc. Made pasta with sausage for dinner.

Read Evelyn Salter’s memoir of her years working as Edith Sitwell’s secretary, which was very interesting, and relevant to one of the projects with which I’m noodling in longhand. And makes me want to read Evelyn Salter’s crime novels, which I’m having difficulty finding. Time to haul out WorldCat. Between the regional CW Mars network, the Commonwealth Catalog (all of the state), the ILL system of WorldCat, and the Gutenberg Project, I should be able to do it. I managed to finally find Alice Campbell’s JUGGERNAUT on Gutenberg, and order some of her other titles via Commonwealth Catalog. Her work was popular around the time of Agatha Christie’s work, though she was not as well known.

Speaking of Agatha Christie, I joined the reading challenge over on her website (run by her descendants). January’s title is SAD CYPRESS, which I haven’t reread in ages, so that will be fun.

Figured out how to plant a real clue and some red herrings in the section of the Heist Romance script set in Paris, and researched the neighborhood/architecture of the neighborhood where I want it to happen, so I can choreograph the action in a way that makes sense.

Up early on Sunday to make chocolate chip banana bread. The weather advisory shifted to up to 10 inches of snow falling between Sunday night and Monday evening.

So, instead of taking Sunday off, I finished the coverage and sent it off, wrote both book reviews and sent them off, and said I’d be ready for more, hoping the power would hold on Monday morning so I could download them and read them during the snow.

Wrote 16 pages on the Heist Romance screenplay, doing the Paris section, the train to Nice-Ville, and the train to Monte Carlo. Set up clues and red herrings.

Made spicy peanut noodles and dumplings for lunch, so we could celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year. I miss being included in family celebrations for this as I was during my Broadway days, working on shows like MISS SAIGON and FLOWER DRUM SONG.

Treated myself by reading the next Vicky Bliss book, TROJAN GOLD (I love that series so much), and working on contest entries.

It started snowing around dinnertime on Sunday, and snowed all day on Monday. I was glad I’d gotten everything out the door Sunday, although I got my next two books for review on Monday.

I also got a big stack of coverages to do today and tomorrow, for which I’m grateful, but it will keep me busy. Let’s hope the power holds.

I worked on The Process Muse post which drops tomorrow. I’m trying to keep the posts a little shorter than they’ve been thus far.

I polished, uploaded and scheduled the next four episodes of LEGERDEMAIN, which gets me through mid-February. I polished, uploaded, and scheduled the next eight episodes of ANGEL HUNT, which gets me through mid-April.

ANGEL HUNT goes live tomorrow, so I have to block off a few hours to promote, and to upload/schedule promotions on the first episodes, since Kindle Vella doesn’t give us the direct link to the serial until it goes live.

I have to write episode loglines for all 12 episodes, and do the graphics for the LEGERDEMAIN episodes.

Starting this week, people can read new episodes of mine Tuesdays through Fridays: LEGERDEMAIN episodes drop Tuesday and Thursday; ANGEL HUNT episodes drop Wednesday and Friday.

I went out to try and dig out the car once we hit 12 inches. It was still snowing, and I gave up after a bit; it was too difficult, and the plow had pushed large chunks of snow behind the car. I will try again today. We have another storm coming in tomorrow, although instead of the 8 inches predicted, now they’re only saying 4.

One of the few things I miss about living on Cape is the garage.

Worked on contest entries. Got some other reading done.

Chef Jeremy did a fundraising class for No Kid Hungry; I couldn’t attend the session (even though it was on Zoom), but I made a donation.

Frustrating when the premise is excellent, most of the writing is strong, and the protagonist is an idiot one wishes was the next murder victim.

Listened to the HADESTOWN cast album last night. It’s one of my favorite scores, and one of the shows I wish I’d had a chance to work on before I left working backstage.

Busy night in the Dreamscape. Nothing bad, just busy. Work up tired and grumpy. I have a feeling a good portion of the grumps is because I know I have to shovel out the car later, before the next storm hits. The very thought of it is exhausting.

And, somewhere between all the storms, I have to get the car inspected.

I plan to get some drafting done on the next LEGERDEMAIN episodes this morning, and maybe a few pages on the Heist Romance screenplay, before digging out the car and switching to script coverage. I’m grateful for the work, but I’m tired.

Have a good one! Enjoy today’s LEGERDEMAIN episode!

Monday, January 24, 2011


A CT winter wonderland

Monday, January 24, 2011
Waning Moon
Coldcoldcoldcoldcoldcoldcold (you get the picture)

OK, we’ve got some catching up to do.

I made a run for it Thursday afternoon, after I scrubbed the house down. The cats were beside themselves — Violet: “You’re dead to me! Talk to the tail!” Iris: “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, we’re going to die cold and hungry and alone” — this from a cat who never missed a meal in ten years.

Drive down was fine — and the gas at my favorite station just over the bridge is nearly fifty cents a gallon cheaper than in CT! Driving through Providence was annoying as usual, there was a lot of plowing/roadwork around Niantic, and from New Haven down it was just too many trucks. But the Merritt was too risky, so I stayed on I-95, gritted my teeth, and dealt with the trucks.

Did some work when I got to CT, did some prep work for February’s gigs down here, got settled. Went to bed way too early.

Snow was nowhere near as bad on Friday as they predicted.

My car, however, rocks. In typical tri-state fashion, the plow guy and his shovel guys show up. I have to move my car so they can plow the entire driveway (there were already two cars in the garage, so I couldn’t stash it). I parked in a way that they could plow almost the whole driveway and my car had kept the areas in front of the double garage clear. But they wanted to plow that part — where the only snow was ON my car — too. In order for them to do that, I had to move my car — into the unplowed part of the drive.

Of course, I’d called the guy more than a dozen times on Thursday to ask him where he wanted me to leave the car; he never picked up and he doesn’t have voice mail.

So I hold out the key.

“No, no, no, the car will never make it.” They’re shaking their heads and being typical workers in this area. Three of them standing around, shaking their heads, saying it can’t be done.

On the Cape, where they have a fetish for driving other people’s cars, it would have happened lickity split. Of course, on the Cape, they would have either answered the phone or had voice mail and it would have been sorted out ahead of time.

I wipe the snow off the windshield and the back window, start the car, hop over the snowbank (it is, after all, a Rabbit), he plowed where he didn’t need to, and then the snowbank I’d just crested, and I put the car right back where it was.

So not impressed with them. But at least I didn’t have to shovel a long, treacherous, slanted gravel drive.

Caught up on email and workshops.

Then, there’s Mousie. Yep, we had ourselves a little critter in CT. Now, I love Christmas mice as much as the next person (I was complaining at their dearth this past holiday season), dressed in Victorian costumes, singing and dancing. The real ones? Not so much. Especially when I’m cat-less.

I didn’t see it, or I’d be typing this from the top of the refrigerator or hanging from the chandelier. I don’t do well with real mice. In fact, one of the best-received monologues from my show WOMEN WITH AN EDGE had to do with being a single woman dealing with a mouse. But I saw evidence (you know what that means) along with a gnawed wooden spoon.

Fortunately, in my writing bag, I always carry a can opener, a wine opener (because you never know when you might need to open a bottle of wine) and a set of wooden spoons. I kid you not. It’s separate from what I keep in the kitchen, and those items living in the writing bag except when I’m using them on site jobs.

Now, we had the occasional mouse in the NYC apartment. Although, it must have been a pretty stupid mouse to venture in when there were four cats. Felicia was the huntress and handled it (I used to bring her to the theatre to hunt mice there, too); Elsa always tried to protect the mouse (thereby scaring it half to death). I don’t know what the twins will do when confronted with them (because we’re bound to have mice at some point in the Cape house. I’m hoping the pack of Maine Coons across the street go a-hunting in our yard when it comes to mice. And I will sit down and explain to the girls that anything that comes into the house — part of the deal is that they take care of it.

Finished my assignment for Confidential Job #1 and got it off on time, which was nice. I’m reading Antonia Frasier’s memoir of her life with Harold Pinter, MUST YOU GO?, which is beautiful. A playwright and a biographer/novelist living, loving, and working together — in a way that works. Harold Pinter was one of the most brilliant playwrights of modern times, and Antonia Frasier’s written some of the biographies I most admire. Excellent reading.

Up early on Saturday morning. Yoga in the front room, with all the glass windows, with the moonlight spilling across the snow. Just gorgeous.

In this house, the downstairs bathroom is the one with the shower. And the big windows with the blinds that are stuck in the “up” position. Sigh. Here’s hoping it was far too early and the other houses were far too away for me to provide any opportunities for morning voyeurism. I used bathwash supposed to smell like margaritas, so I even smelled like a cocktail at 6:30 AM. Actually, it smelled like the lovely fragrant part of a margarita, with the undertone notes of alcohol gone, so it was quite lovely.

The trip back was pretty smooth. Not much traffic out, and what was out moved smoothly. We stopped at the store in Old Saybrook — I bought a few vintage linens, and priced out some Adirondack chairs that looked good, and for which I might have to go back. Stopped in Mystic to pick up the sauce we like at the Franklin General Store, and to pick up some incense at Mystical Elements. And then, home we went.

It was so good to be home. If you haven’t read my piece, The Sense of Being Home, please do, because it explains a lot of why this place is so important to me.

Got unpacked, fed the cats who were happy to see us for once, instead of angry, slipped a pizza into the oven, had dinner, relaxed, etc. Just enjoyed the fact of being HOME, now that we have a lovely place to so call.

Up early the next morning, morning routine, got everything all sorted out for the walk at Ashumet Holly Sanctuary. Layered up, as if I was doing a location shoot — tights under jeans, thick socks over tights, a thermal shirt covered by a fleece shirt, covered by my sweatshirt from when I worked on FLOWER DRUM SONG’s Broadway revival (best sweatshirt I own), fleece vest over it (so I could stick my driver’s license, money, and keys in it and not carry a purse), big LL Bean coat over that, hat, gloves, scarf, boots. On the way to the Sanctuary, I stopped at the store to both buy the Sunday papers and get hand and foot warmers. Put the foot warmers on in the car, kept the hand warmers to insert later, when my hands got cold. Also downed a big mug of ginger tea before I left.


wintergreen growing wild on an Ashumet hillside

I just love that Sanctuary. I can’t wait until the weather’s a little warmer, so I can come and wander around at will, or bring my notebook and just move from place to place, writing. It seems like a really good spot to write. And, of course, now I’m getting obsessed with the various varieties of hollies, so it’s the perfect place — it both started and feeds my obsession.

The walk was lovely, a small, lively group that included one of the founders of an organization which protects open space in Falmouth (she co-lead), and a columnist whose work I read every week and thoroughly enjoy. We got some wonderful handouts that I read thoroughly once I got home, and a key that I will take to wander around the backyard and learn what I’ve got there, then take with me to other places on the Cape, so I can learn how to identify various trees.

I’m very sad that the Hemlock is being attacked by some insect –a woolly something (how stupid, I’ve been told its name a half a dozen times and can’t retain it). I’m very fond of hemlock, and I hate to see it destroyed. There’s got to be something that some clever botanist or herbalist can devise that will destroy Mr. Woolly Whatsits without killing everything else. I’m sure they’ve tried a bunch of things, but there’s got to be something that will eat or kill Woolly Whatsits. And I’m sure they’ll keep trying until they find it, but I hope it’s not too late. People wonder why I’m interested in poisonous plants and herbs — it’s not just to find interesting ways to bump people off in my mysteries, but it’s to see if there are ways to steward/manage habitat without doing pesticide damage (people just have to look out for their own damn selves and learn what’s poisonous. I’m interested in stewardship of plants and animals).

There’s a lot of bittersweet climbing all over things, too. Something is niggling at the back of my brain — I learned something about bittersweet lately, a use for it, and I can’t remember. I’m going to have to poke through my books and notes and find it.

Anyway, the walk was fascinating, and I learned a lot (let’s hope I can retain it). I also, finally, saw what a bayberry bush looks like! That was pretty cool. And learned that the huckleberry bush that’s arriving later in the spring will thrive in full sun, so that is what I will give it.

Yeah, I was cold, but not distractingly so, which meant I could pay attention to what was being said and going on and really enjoy it.

Came home, warmed up with hot soup, and out the door again. First to PetSmart, to replenish the kitty cupboard, then to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things (and exchange tips with the check out clerk on what to do with pancetta. I love that the clerks actually talk to the customers here instead of ignoring them to talk to each other). To Christmas Tree Shops where they had some pretty clay pots on sale, decent quality, great price. So bought five of those — two big ones for tomatoes, and three smaller ones for various herbs. Then to CVS for a couple of things, and back over to the grocery store in Marstons Mills to stock up.

Home, spaghetti and meatballs for dinner (I’m experimenting with meatball recipes), caught up on the workshops, watched JULIE AND JULIA on HBO. I remember that it got lousy reviews except for Meryl Streep’s performance, but I thought, overall, it was well done. I certainly found Amy Adams’s Julie Powell more charming that the Julie in the book.

Checked the house, the pipes, the furnace, everything before bedtime so nothing would go kerplooey in the night with the below zero temperatures.

Up at a decent hour, angry at Comcast (yeah, that’s new and different. Not). Not only do they bill me multiple times per month for a whole month, now they’re adding made-up charges, claiming I have an “unreturned modem” and have cut off service to the box for the second television. More paperwork to file, including a fraud claim with the MA Attorney General’s office, and a petition to the State Legislator to cut Comcast’s stranglehold on the Cape. They should not have a monopoly and be the only choice out here, especially when they treat their customers like this.

At least I had a good first writing session of the day, although I have to buckle down and get a lot more writing done today. And, I am determined to finish taking down/putting away the holiday decorations, once and for all! It will look bare, but that’s okay; I’ll soon have other decor up as we unpack.

To the page. And the paperwork.

Devon