Tues. Oct. 8, 2019: New Additions to the Household

Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

It’s been a stressful weekend, without enough writing getting done. I’m way behind where I need to be.

But it’s for a good reason.

We brought two new cats into the house. They’ve had a rough time, for the past year. The man who raised them since they were kittens had seriously worsening medical issues over the past year. The cats (littermates) started fighting. Then, the man got a service dog and couldn’t keep the cats. The cats have spent the last year being moved around between relatives, sometimes together (where they fought in the new environment, which is understandable), sometimes apart. A niece decided to put them up for adoption, we found each other, and I agreed to take both.

One arrived on Friday night. She’s very cute, but she was very upset, hissy spitty and growly. She threatened a lot, but didn’t attack. I set up her food and water dish in the kitchen. I let her out in the bathroom, with the door closed, so she knew where the litter box was.

She shot out of her carrier, checked out the litter box, and demanded I open the door. I did; she did a quick recon of the kitchen, then set up a fort in my office, amongst the books (but on the carpet, because she’s smart). She was unhappy all night.

We checked on her, but ignored her hissing, spitting, and growling. Humans did. Tessa growled back once, when New Kitty #1 advanced on me, growling, once. But Tessa’s handled it all calmly.

We simply let New Kitty #1 do her thing. We keep our usual routine. That makes Tessa feel safe, and it gives structure for New Kitty.

She came out to the living room while we watched TV to lodge a complaint before dashing back into the office. When we made the rounds before going to bed, she was in my Victorian wingback chair, and stuck her little head out to hiss. We laughed at her, which perplexed her. But it was kind of cute. I gave her a toy mouse, which she clutches like a teddy bear.

Tessa came up with me, as usual, and even slept on my bed.

Saturday morning, she was much calmer. She’d eaten and used the litter box in the night. She didn’t hiss or growl when we spoke to her. But we basically left her alone. She napped most of the day. Poor thing was exhausted.

I had gotten up at 5 AM and made raw apple muffins, but kitchen noise doesn’t bother her.

We had a quiet Saturday. I didn’t work in my office. I left it for her to feel safe. I read in the living room. Tessa stuck with me. We checked on her occasionally, to make sure she was okay. She watched us with a quiet, thoughtful gaze.

I put up most of the outdoor decorations for Halloween. I haven’t yet put up the lights.

I was up early again on Sunday. Usual routine. This time, I sat in my office to do some editing for a bit. I wanted to go in and write later in the day, but it didn’t happen.

I baked orange rye bread and my favorite chocolate walnut butter bread.

The second cat arrived mid-afternoon on Sunday. She came with lots of stuff, including Bliss Mist and her own pink fleece blanket, and an elaborate set up for her food dishes.

She, however, would not come out of her crate in the bathroom. I kept it near the litter box, so she’d know where it was, and left her there for a bit. She wouldn’t come out. I moved the crate to the living room, where she yowled her unhappiness. I moved her into the back bedroom, near her things, and let her be.

She took a nap for awhile, and then started yowling again. Hissing, growling, yowling. Diva Princess tantrum (I was warned she is the princess of the two). We let her alone. She had an even bigger tantrum when Tessa came downstairs (the stairs go into the back room). Tessa skirted around her and ignored her.

I sprayed her with Bliss Spray and she settled a bit.

New Kitty #1 came to tell her off. They hissed and spat and growled, but didn’t fight. They were saying some pretty nasty things, though, in feline.

Tessa stayed with us in the living room. Lately, she’s started sitting in the rocking chair (where Violet used to sit).

Then, New Kitty #1 decided since there were stairs, she might as well see where they led. She ventured upstairs. She hung out in my room for awhile.

New Kitty #2 was carrying on with a major tantrum still when we went to bed. We let her have her tantrum. Tessa was still downstairs. I didn’t realize New Kitty #1 was still in my room until I tripped over her. She fled back down the stairs.

At some point, Tessa sneaked up. She rummaged around upstairs and then settled on the bed.

I had insomnia for a bit, and then finally fell asleep. I woke up around 5 when Tessa was growling at someone. I guess one of the New Kitties was roaming around upstairs, but I don’t know which one.

I started the normal morning routine. Tessa came down to the kitchen with me. I put out fresh food and water for everyone.

New Kitty #2 finally came out of her crate and sat on one of the beds in the back bedroom, where she can see everyone. She started hissing. I said, “Good morning,” and kept going. Tessa ignored her.

New Kitty #1 was back to hanging out in my office in her fort. Again, calm. I went to my desk to work. Tessa came in and sat with me, as she always does. Tessa and New Kitty #1 can hang out in the same room and ignore each other.

I had a decent first writing session before I had to head off to my client’s.

I was tired and slow, but managed to get the work done. Headed to the library for a bit, then to meditation, which, believe me, I needed.

I’m scheduling this to post, so I have no idea what the night will be. I’m hoping it will be quiet and New Kitty #2 will get over herself. If we don’t engage in her tantrums, I hope she’ll calm down, the way New Kitty #1 does.

The cats were named with actresses that have a variation on the same first name and different middle names. No wonder they’re confused.

I had hoped to rename them Harriet and Louisa, after Harriet Beecher Stowe and Louisa May Alcott, but the names don’t suit them. I will let them settle in a bit more and reveal their personalities, and then we’ll work on names together. I have tried several on New Kitty #1, and she is not impressed. Nor does she like her original name.

New Kitty #1 calmed down pretty fast, so I hope New Kitty #2 will do the same. We are letting them initiate any interaction they want with us, other than basic greetings and giving them food. If and when they want to check us out or getting petted, they can come and ask. But giving the day basic structure, with freedom and quiet for them within it helps more than anything.

Lucy, in spite of her difficult history, was a much easier cat with a sunnier personality.

Tessa is already happier to have other cats in the house, although right now, they’re a pain in her butt.

Friday night, we finally heard from the landlord that he’s willing to extend the lease another year. We had asked in August, and have lived on tenterhooks ever since.

Of course, the rent is raised. More than is comfortable, but it’s still less than market rate. Which means a lot of other things have to change. And, in MA, the landlord can raise the rent however high they want. So, while this is uncomfortable, we’re still lucky, especially since there’s a housing shortage here.

Although about half of my town is up for sale.

On a happier note, when I was out doing my grocery shopping, I ran into a couple visiting from Marseilles. They were trying to get directions, and having trouble understanding the people who were trying to help. I intervened, apologizing for my bad French, and managed to make them understand, while showing them on the map, in French.

They invited me for coffee (not at Starbucks, which we all can’t stand, but at an independent place). We sat outside and talked, in a mixture of French (mostly) and English. I helped them plot out their next two weeks, with maps and recommendations. They think the Cape is beautiful, but are disappointed in how many people who support the Narcissistic Sociopath are here, and feel America, in general, has lost its sense of independence. I agree. It’s gotten worse in this area. I mean, really: Home Depot, Chick-fil-A, and now Hobby Lobby? Home Depot is my last resort, only if I can’t get something from one of the local hardware stores. But I refuse to set foot in Chick-Fil-A or Hobby Lobby.

I’m exhausted, on so many levels.

But one word in front of the other, one foot in front of the other, one paw in front of the other.

Published in: on October 8, 2019 at 6:37 am  Comments (1)  
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Fri. June 23, 2017: Spinning The Freelance Plates and the Threads of Inspiration

Friday, June 23, 2017
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and muggy

Got a section of meadow mowed yesterday morning. It’s starting to look like actual progress. It looks like it will rain any minute this morning. I should use that as a reason to rush out there and mow, like my neighbors are; instead, I’m dragging my feet, hoping it will rain and I can’t.

I was in a lousy mood for a good part of yesterday. I tried to tease myself out of it with the “CrankyPants Song”, but it didn’t work. That’s a song I made up when I worked backstage. When a colleague or I was overtired and grumpy, I’d sing it to make fun of the grumpster (or myself), and we’d all laugh and get over ourselves. But it didn’t work yesterday.

Turned in the latest set of revisions to the new-to-me editor. Let’s hope he’s happy with this set. Also called him out on the contradictions. I hate working in their automated system that won’t let me do what supposedly needs to be done. At this point, it’s a toss-up about whether I’ll be fired or whether I’ll walk. I wonder if this is the norm, and that’s how they get out of paying writers?

Working on a pitch for a publication I hope to finish and send out tomorrow. I’ve written for them several times; it would be great to do so again. I’ve gotten decent pay and some solid clips from them in the past.

Pitched for another gig that sounded like fun; we’ll see if my samples are what they’re looking for. Again, money might be an issue. They pay “per word”, but haven’t said how much per word, or talked about volume and turn-around time. Heard back from them this morning — as I suspected, the per word rate is so low, I couldn’t even fill the gas tank with an assignment. For something that requires A LOT of technical craft, is for-hire with no royalties, um, no. I will send them a refusal today.

Press releases went out for “Personal Revolution”. I finally wrestled the website so that I could add the “Personal Revolution” information into the Delectable Digital Delights, the Media Room, and the Bazaar pages of the Devon Ellington site. No thanks to the webhost, but in spite of them. That webhost is useless. Not only are they unreliable, their customer service is non-existent. I’m starting to think most hosts are. But, by poking around and swearing a lot, I managed to figure out workarounds that got up the information I needed to add. I really need to take some classes in website coding and design. But it’s the usual dilemma — when the time exists, the money doesn’t. When the money’s there, it’s there because there’s a heavy workload in, and the time doesn’t exist. And anything web-related has to be something I can handle, update, tweak, and rearrange myself, not hire in a webmaster. The amount of attention my different sites need would mean I need someone weekly, and the cost (because the webmaster DESERVES to be paid for all this, and deserves a good rate) is out of my range right now.

The press releases also have the information for upcoming projects, which means I have to get my ass in gear and meet deadlines.

I have a good idea about the next Cornelia True/Roman Gray story. I had to have the title for the press release, and came up with “Miss Winston Apologizes”. And then I figured out who Miss Winston was and why she apologized, and there was the premise for the next piece. It’s still set in Cornelia’s time period. I decided I’m going to set three stories there, then have her go with Roman when he next time travels, and they can have adventures elsewhere (that all tie in to the main arc). Now, I need to write the opening, so I can pop it in with “Ramsey Chase” and get going on the proofread. The July 10 release date will be here before I know it.

I’ve also got the opening of “Labor Intensive”, the next Twinkle Tavern mystery, set around Labor Day (which is set to release just before Labor Day weekend, so I better get on with it).

With Playing the Angles hoping to release in October, we really need to find the right cover image. And I really need to do a final proof on it, and settle on the name for the series (even though each book will have a different pair of protagonists).

Think there’s enough to do? Along with keeping up a constant stream of pitches and freelance pieces so I can keep a roof over my head.

A royalty check from the Topic Workbooks and “Plot Bunnies” cheered me up. I certainly can’t retire on it, or even pay next month’s bills, but it helps tide me over a bit, and just getting the royalties makes me feel like I’m moving in the right direction.

The last research book I need for the Lavinia Fontana play arrived, thank goodness, because I have to start writing it at the beginning of July.

Got a rejection on an article pitch for a new-to-me market. I’m going to re-slant it to send elsewhere, and then submit something new to this market. I’m determined to crack it. Some of the content puzzled me; then I got an apology from the editor, saying the email had gone off before he was done, and he hoped I’d pitch again.  I told him no worries, I had every intention of so doing, but I’d let him rest over the weekend!  😉

Heard back from another place I pitched. They loved my samples. They want to know how good my French and/or Spanish are. Um, what? Why wasn’t that in the ad? I read French reasonably well (I read Moliere in French, because it’s funnier than any English translation I’ve yet found), and I can read newspaper and magazine articles and basically figure them out. I can get by in French, and I’ve got a little German. But I’m not fluent. So that might knock me out completely, which would be a shame. I’d love to get my French back up to speed, but I doubt they want me learning on the job.

I’m playing with yet another new idea, this one with a pair of older protagonists. I think it could be interesting. I’m trying to decide if I want to set it in Cornwall or in Ayrshire. I know both, but I know Ayrshire better, and, as I’m working on the outline, it seems to naturally gravitate to Ayrshire. I’ve set several things in Ayrshire, stretching it to add additional towns and do mix-and-match with real places. I’ve even added additional Scottish National Trust properties when Culzean Castle (where I’ve rented an apartment on more than one occasion, and which I know VERY well) didn’t quite fit the plot. In this particular piece, I’m adding a street off the main road to Culzean (halfway between the Castle and Little K’s Kitchen, where I used to get my newspaper and the racing form every morning), and that’s where my protags have rented a house.

I also figured out what I need to shift in another piece I’ve been noodling with, to get the opening different from yet another piece, whose opening I like, but was too similar to this one. The settings are similar — one at an artists’ colony, one at a meditation retreat. But the characters and situations and what I want to explore are very different. Interestingly enough, though, the protagonists for both pieces share some of the same titles on their bookshelves! Such as the Complete Works Of Shakespeare and Louisa May Alcott’s diaries.

Speaking of Louisa, a tweet from the lovely folks at Orchard House got me re-reading her. They were talking about Rose in Bloom, so I ordered that and Eight Cousins (which happens before RiB) from the library and read them this past week. From a critical, feminist perspective, there are plenty of problems. Yet it was still, in some ways, ahead of its time (although highly romanticized). It got me thinking of Fruitlands, which is where I always imagine those two books set, rather than Concord. In fact, I had an exchange with another Orchard House follower about that, when she was puzzled about “rolling hills” she didn’t remember around Concord, and now she’s going to visit Fruitlands!

It got me thinking that I would like to set something in a family compound in that area (Harvard, MA, which is different than where Harvard U. is in Boston). Somehow, I came up with a set of sisters (inspired by the great aunts in Maine), and their patriarch/matriarch based in the compound, but set in the early 1900s, and somehow, from there, I leapt to the opening taking place in San Francisco in 1904, pre-Earthquake, but just at the end of the “Barbary Plague” where so many of the Chinese immigrants died in SF from bubonic plague from 1900-1904, and that led to a stack of research books about that time period, so who knows how the piece will end up? Right now, I see it starting in SF, moving by train eastwards, with a stop in Chicago, but I have to figure out why, beyond simply changing trains.

1904 Newspaper archives, here I come. I think I can read some at local libraries, and probably access some via Boston Public Library’s digital files (I have an e-card from them); when in doubt, I can always contact my stalwart NYPL and Library of Congress.

But it’s amazing how re-reading a childhood book can set off a new train of thought.

I’ve just received Under the Lilacs and An Old-Fashioned Girl from the library to re-read. I remember reading both at my grandmother’s house in Foxboro, under an actual lilac hedge, when I was little.

Who knows what they will inspire?

This weekend, I have to dig in to FIX IT GIRL, because all those books on Hearst Castle have to go back to the library next week. They can’t be extended any more!
Besides, I want to get this draft done and the submission packets ready. I want to start querying after 4th of July, but have to get everything out before mid-August, or I might as well wait until mid-September, because few places actively read by mid-August, and right back from Labor Day, they need a couple of weeks to catch up.

I think I’ve got a handle on how I want the First Big Love Scene to go. Since this isn’t erotica, but historical fiction, the style is gentler, and I have to get it just right. Things were often down and dirty in 1930s Hollywood (as they often are everywhere in every time period), but my protag is neither a goody two-shoes nor a nymphomaniac. Nor is this a category romance where she’s only allowed to be attracted to one man. She’s an intelligent modern woman of her time, and slightly ahead of it, breaking new ground, fighting sexism, but also following her heart (and her passions). I’ve got that balance right in most of her scenes; now I have to get it right in the love scenes, too.

In general, I want this to be a fiction weekend. I’ve spent so much time on articles in order to pay the bills that the fiction has suffered, so it’s time to give it some more attention.

This is a great June for the roses — they’re blooming like crazy. And the petunias in the barrel out front have grown enough so they’re sticking their heads over the rim and peeking out. It’s very cute.

Have a great weekend!

Sat. March 28, 2105: After Effects of World Theatre Day

Saturday, March 28, 2015
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

At least it’s not snow – yet! Modified to, it started snowing as I wrote this!

Yesterday was a day that was both exhilarating and exhausting. It was busy at work.

Plus, it was World Theatre Day. Few places in the US did anything for it – at least as far as I know. I had the radio plays running all day – people came in to listen to them, and enjoyed them. One person even admitted that he was named for a lead character in one of the old radio shows!

I got quite a few emails from people and theatre in the international community, which was great. Although a lot of them were in French. I took French in school. I can read it. I comprehend most of what’s said to me. But I have trouble speaking it – I’m not fluent. At least it was email, so I could take my time and look things up. Hopefully, I didn’t make too many mistakes! But it was fun to have so many people so excited about theatre’s importance and impact on the world. It’s not regarded as highly in the US as it is elsewhere; nor are writers and the power of words given the same respect in the US as elsewhere. So it was wonderful and intense all at once. I just wasn’t quite expecting it!

I did a Skype talk in the evening with a group that was doing a 24 hour marathon of readings and talks. That was fun. I had an interpreter, thank goodness, because, with my poor French, I would have said something inappropriate!

Later, to decompress, I started watching the first season of an Australian TV series called MISS FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES, set in Melbourne in the 1920s. I liked it a LOT – Essie Davis, Nathan Page, and Hugo Johnstone-Burt are outstanding. They’re very clever, and the costumes! Marion Bryce is my hero!

This morning, I’m tired. I feel like I’m out of words. Had to go out to the store early to pick up some things and put gas in the car. Did some rewrites on the Prague section of COLLABORATIVE BIRTH.

Library this morning, then home (with a quick stop at the wine store). Then, it’s an intense weekend of writing and research.

Devon