Tues. Dec. 13, 2022: Busy in the Cold

image courtesy of 0fjd125gk87 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Waning Moon

Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Cloudy and COLD

It is ZERO degrees F this morning. Brrrr!

I hope you have a cup of your favorite beverage, so we can curl up to catch up.

There’s a post over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site about “Flexible Gratitude” which is what I’m working on this week, in addition to trying to hold steady and get things done.

Friday, I had the day off from script coverage. I did the blogging, the social media rounds, picked up books at the library, got a couple of things from the grocery store. I had trouble getting going, because I was tired.

However, after lunch, I started baking, and I baked 25 dozen cookies (orange cranberry, oatmeal currant, molasses spice). Once I got going, I had it down to a system, and it went pretty fast. I did two batches of each kind of cookie; if I need more, I can always whip up another batch.

Since I have 7 baking trays, I can prep the trays and just rotate them through the baking while I keep working on the next batch.

Got them all packed up in their tins, once they cooled. But I was definitely tired by the end of it.  I ran out of wax paper while I was packing the tins, but I had parchment paper, so it was all good.

Really, though, it took about 4 ½ hours, that’s all.

And I made more vegetable stock in the slow cooker, too, because I needed the space in the freezer that was taken up with the bits that go into the stock.

Saturday, I was up early. I had to get a few things like more ginger and more wax paper and Crisco for some of the cookies, and a few things I’m stockpiling for the holiday meals.

I made the dough for the coffee spice cookies and for the brown sugar maple cookies. While that chilled in the fridge, I handstitched the holly curtain for the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell, because we must be festive in the kitchen.

Baked the cookies. The coffee spice cookies are from a companion cookbook to Phillip R. Craig’s mysteries set on Martha’s Vineyard. If you’ve never read them, I recommend them. I read them first years ago, and then re-read them (and got the cookbook) when I lived on Cape.

The cookies are good, but I want to bump up the flavor. The next batch I try will split the batch and put some anise extract in one half and some allspice in the other. The nutmeg is a little too subtle.

The brown maple sugar cookies are good, but it doesn’t make a lot, which is a concern. I think I’ll have to make another batch in the next couple of days. The maple glaze is good, too. These will be a good addition to the platters.

I was tired, so I made turkey enchiladas for dinner. No, not from Thanksgiving leftovers. We finished all those!

I was happy to see that all the packages I mailed last Monday were delivered. Whew! Of course a package UPS was supposed to deliver last Wednesday is still out there somewhere, and every day, UPS lies and says it’s “out for delivery” and every day it doesn’t show up. I hate UPS. It’s fine if there’s a delay, but stop lying.

I made a chocolate glaze and put it on the coffee spice cookies. Yup, that gave it enough of a boost to go into this year’s cookie platters, while I work on the recipe. Only I ran out of confectioner’s sugar, and have to make another batch of glaze. So one batch of cookies needs 3 batches of glaze (I made 2, which will get me through the first few platter deliveries).

While the glaze set, we sat down and wrote the domestic cards. Only around 50 this year. So many have died. I’m at that age, plus COVID, means a lot of loss. I also let some names on the list go, when I haven’t heard from them at all for several years.  There were years, in New York, when I wrote as many as 500 cards (it took most of the month).

There’s a whole set of people with whom I only interact during the winter holidays. That’s fine; we manage to keep in touch. Someone, a few years back on social media, raged that if the only time one keeps in touch is winter holidays, it’s not worth it, and I disagree.

But then, the whole ritual of holiday cards is very important to me. Choosing the cards. Choosing the stamps. Sitting down with the list. Writing something in the card. Addressing the card. It’s taking a moment to honor the friendship and connection with each individual. And, while there are definitely times postage is a frightening expense, I believe each of these people is worth spending the cost of a stamp and some time on, once a year.

Some people choose not to send cards, for whatever reason. It’s up to them. Some of those who don’t like the whole card ritual keep in touch in other ways at other times of the year. Which I also appreciate.

But when there’s no interaction over a long period of time, it’s time to let go.

That’s a big change for me; there were people on the list to whom I’ve written for ten or more years and not heard from at all. Ever. Definitely time to let go. My position in their lives is clear (as in “non-existent”). I can retain positive memories and let go of the current connection.

As someone who was always designated “Kin Keeper” of various groups of friends and colleagues over the years, the letting to AND BEING OKAY WITH IT, is a big step.

In the afternoon, we finished decorating the big tree in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. Because one can see all around the tree, the back of the tree is as important as the front, and it’s fun to decorate in 360.

Added the musical instrument garland and lights to the garland on the mantel. I bought the musical instrument garland for 50 cents in December 1980 in Woolworth’s, Tallahassee, Florida, when I was at FSU that first year (I transferred to NYU the following spring). I love that silly little garland, and have hung it up every year in Florida, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Cape Cod, and now here in the Berkshires.

Put up the lights in the living room window. Set up a shelf full of snowmen behind one of the big reading chairs. Put up the small tree over my desk, behind Seshat, my goddess of scribes, who has pride of place over my desk.

The Santas are still packed; we have to figure out where to put 50+ Santas. All over the house, no doubt.

Once the stacks of cookies are on platters and out the door, I will set up my mix-and-match Holiday Village on the big table in my office. I still have to put up the lights on the front porch, in the kitchen, and on the stairs, along with the garlands.

It started snowing around 11 on Sunday morning and snowed all day. We got about 5 inches. I perched on the couch in the evening, enjoying the candles and lights (3rd of Advent) and reading.

I have a lot of holiday stuffed animals (especially reindeer. I love reindeer). One of them, which I picked up at a thrift store for about 50 cents, has a music box on it. Only I don’t know how to make it work. Charlotte, on the other hand, keeps setting it off. It’s hilarious.

I had weird dreams, Sunday into Monday, about an immersive theatre experience in a stadium-sized theatre. Charlotte woke me up from it.

Slow start Monday, wanting it to be a snow day. No scripts in the queue. I decided to be grateful instead of worried. I could do other things!

I did the Monday blogging, and the social media rounds.

To my absolute joy, the big laser printer which hasn’t worked for the past few weeks, turned itself on and started printing, like nothing was every wrong. Okay, it thinks it is May 17, 2020, but other than that, it’s working. I am so grateful. I guess it needed a vacation?

I haven’t even set up the other printer yet.

I caught up on all the printing on which I’d gotten behind, got some scanning done. I created the Cookie Cheat Sheets to go with the cookies. I figured I should get as much done as possible, in case it decided to stop working again.

I went out and dug out the car. The parking lot was plowed already, and the snow was light and fluffy, so it wasn’t a big deal. The sun came out later on and helped, too.

I edited, polished, uploaded, and scheduled Episodes 47 & 48 of Legerdemain. I wrote their episode log lines, created the episode graphics, and uploaded/scheduled that content to drop on the appropriate days. I’m good through the first week of January, which gives me a little breathing room, since I won’t get to write new episodes until sometime next week. I’ve written through Episode 58, but I need to go further and finish the arc, so that I can make sure I don’t need to plant information in earlier episodes to make sense later.

I put release dates into the January calendar for Legerdemain and ANGEL HUNT episodes (I’m behind where I want to be on that, too), and other deadlines in January. This is in the big calendar. I didn’t use different colors in January, which I’m kind of regretting. Everything is in black ink, and it looks rather dull.

I was about to finish my witchy charm bracelet and my talisman necklace when I realized I need to get jump rings.

The trust paid off and more scripts came in for the week. I have 3 coverages today and 2 tomorrow. If I can pick up a couple more each day Thursday and Friday great; if not, that’s fine, too. I hope to get some coverages next week for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and maybe one on Friday, and then I am on vacation!

Today, I need to do the rounds to promote the Legerdemain episode that’s dropping. I want to work on “Comfort, Then Joy” and I have a tarot reading to set, write up, and post on Ko-fi later. I have to go out and get more maple syrup and more confectioners’ sugar, so I can do another batch of the brown sugar maple cookies, and make another batch of glaze for the coffee spice cookies. I hope to give the batches of cookies to the neighbors in the building later today, and then start delivering the other cookie platters tomorrow. I also need to drop off the cards at the post office. Writing them is great, but if they’re not mailed, it doesn’t mean a whole lot, does it?

A package arrived a week late yesterday, but it’s here, so that’s all good.

There’s another storm coming in on Friday, so I need to figure out if I can get the laundry done today or tomorrow, and all the cookie deliveries out by Thursday, then grab a few groceries to get us through the weekend. I was going to do the stocking stuffer shopping this weekend, but might put It off until next week. I also have another book to review this week, and need to get moving on that.

The Christmas novella wants to be worked on, but that will have to wait until next week. The newsletter story and the Ko-fi flash have to take priority. Then, I’ll mix working on the Christmas novella next week, along with work on Legerdemain, ANGEL HUNT, and finishing THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH.

Fingers crossed the printer keeps working!

On a personal level, there’s some rough work going on. The Chiron retrograde energy presses down, forcing me to face some painful memories and past choices, deal with them, and gain perspective. While making sure I don’t make the same mistakes again. Necessary work, but not easy and often painful.

Have a good one, friends. Enjoy the next episode of Legerdemain! This one wraps up the first large story arc and leads into the second one.

Tues. Nov. 8, 2022: Dumfungled

(image courtesy of Mohamed Hassan via pixabay.com)

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Full Moon (and Lunar Eclipse)

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and Windy

Election Day

Will this be our last election? We’ll know in a few days. Let’s hope not.

Pull up your favorite beverage and we’ll sit down for our regular longish Tuesday natter.  

Today’s post is titled thanks to Melissa Amateis, who shared “Dumfungled” with me yesterday. According to Melissa, SCOTS MAGAZINE, and Susie Dent, it means “mentally and physically worn out” and “used up, in a near state of imbecility” to which I can relate right now. According to the Urban Dictionary, it can also mean “being unproductive, hitching a ride on the back of an assumption” which fits the current situation in so many aspects. But I choose the first definition as the title for this post.

See, Melissa? I kept my promise to you!

If you didn’t see the post over on the GDR site yesterday, you can hop over now.

I got a lot done on Friday: 2223 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH for Nano, an episode and a bit for LEGERDEMAIN, caught up on some email, turned around two scripts. I was tired by the end of it, and read for pleasure, rather than doing the other reading I should have done.

The paper I ordered from Staples arrived; but it was the wrong kind. Regular paper, not 3-hole punch. I’m not going to fuss. I’ll keep it, invest in a new 3-hole puncher (I can’t find the one I own; it might be in storage) and punch the holes myself. I draft on 3-hole punch paper, so I get it in by the case. Usually.

I spent far too much time on Twitter, upset at the way Yegads Muskrat is intentionally destroying it. Lilith St. Crow calls him “Melon Husk” which is another good handle for him, What a disgusting human he is. Destroying something people value because he can afford to do it.

Stayed up way too late reading Ann Aguirre’s EXTRA WITCHY, which was a lot of fun.

Saturday morning, I slept later than expected, because the cats tried to roust me early, I refused, and fell asleep again. Got in 2412 words for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. I’m having a lot of fun writing Rita’s youngest son, Doug.

Once the words were out of the way, I went to Big Y and did a big grocery shop, restocking a bunch of staples that we used up, and getting the fresh stuff we’ll need for the week. Came home, put it all away, and off we went, gallivanting, because it was a beautiful, sunny day, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

We drove up through Bennington and over into NY through Hoosick Falls (which is an interesting little town) and to Hoosick, and our favorite Treasure Hut, which we hadn’t visited all summer. We didn’t find any of the furniture pieces for which I’m looking, but I found an Inkberry Pfaltzgraff platter that matches some of my other dishes, a tiered silver serving tray (Irwin ware), vintage glass poinsettia ornaments, a cute ceramic piece of two kids getting ready to skate, and yes, another brass trivet. You know me and trivets. I think I have 20 now?

On the way back, we stopped at a favorite thrift store in Bennington. We found 2 dinner plates that match the soup bowls we bought last year, a lovely blue and green bowl, another little figure of a kid walking dogs for Christmas, and a gorgeous tapestry runner for spring.

Picked up a pizza on the way home and had a late lunch. Washed what needed washing, and put the rest away, after doing some research on maker’s marks.

Hung out and read a bit. Turned the clocks back before we went to bed.

Tessa tried to get me up at 5, insisting it was breakfast. I thought my phone hadn’t fallen back yet, so it was really four, and rolled over, not getting up until 6. Tessa didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day. She tried going to my mom for comfort. By accident, my mom called her “Charlotte” and Tessa, insulted, stomped off and wouldn’t have anything to do with either one of us all day.

It was raining and kind of yuck, so instead of being out and about again, we stayed home. I wrote the next chapter of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, at 2938. A character repositioned himself in the story earlier than I expected from the outline, but it worked, and I can cut some info dump out of the first chapter, because it’s actually integrated here. But it took damn long to write those words.

I’m fighting the book’s natural rhythm to make word count. It wants to grow at around 1000-1200 words a day. But I need to push it to make the Nano wordcount, to meet my expectations for myself for participating. So I’m forcing it at an unnatural rhythm, which will bite me in the ass during revisions. The chapters are also very uneven, which is a problem, Because structurally, it does matter in the genre.

I spent too much time mourning Twitter in the afternoon instead of reading or doing something worthwhile. I also wasted too much time struggling to set up an account on Mastodon. The first two servers I tried wouldn’t send me the confirmation email, no matter how many times I requested. I finally got an invite from a screenwriter on Twitter who set up his own server, and that went through. Once I was in, setting up is pretty easy. Finding people is harder, because of the different servers, but it’s possible. I was also invited to a screenwriters’ Discord group, and, much as I dislike Discord, I like the person who set it up, so I’ll give it a go.

But if you want to find me on Mastodon, I’m at @devonellington@bbq.snoot.com.

Roasted a chicken for dinner, so the whole house smelled wonderful. Made stock from the carcass.

Went to bed ridiculously early.

I had some sort of bad dream, from which Charlotte woke me up around 3. It fled as soon as I woke up, but the adrenaline spike was nasty. Tessa was all like, “well, since you’re awake” but I ignored her and fell back to sleep.

I dreamed about going to listen to jazz at a place with wonderful food and interesting people. No COVID in the Dreamscape, and I have quite a good social life there, so it will have to do until I can actually socialize when I’m awake, if the pandemic is ever under control.

I was all set to sign up for an in-person yoga class the Sunday after Thanksgiving and realized everyone there would have been unsafe all weekend and shedding virus, so I think I’ll pass.

Up at a reasonable time on Monday. Wrote 2337 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. It was a fun chapter with good dynamics and finally, FINALLY, I’ve dropped the first body. I usually drop it much earlier. And I had to change a relationship from cousin to brother-in-law to make the logic work. But it was fun, and I’m feeling more hopeful.

Posted on the blogs and made the SM rounds – which took two damn hours. But I need to establish myself on the platforms and interact and build different communities. Some I’ll phase out. Others I’ll continue to build. Different platforms work for different things. As someone who makes a living in the arts, I don’t have the LUXURY of not MAKING the time to find out which platforms do what best, and I don’t have the LUXURY to whine that’s too hard and I don’t have time. I’ll lose my livelihood if I don’t do it. Getting my work out to the widest possible audience is part of my job. I don’t get to whine (okay, maybe I’ll whine a little bit, but you know my rule: pity parties can’t last longer than 15 minutes). Most importantly, I don’t have the option of not learning and changing and growing as the industry does.

Tribel is about branding and marketing, so even though I’ve met the largest amount of creepy dudes sending me inappropriate messages there thus far, I might have to stay. Cohost talks about being “cozy” but so far, it seems like a platform for hobbyists rather than professionals. There’s no reason a platform can’t support both, but if Cohost gets squiffy about me linking to projects that pay the bills, they are not the right platform for me.

We’ll see.

It’s exhausting.

Necessary, but exhausting.

Twitter dystopia was a hellscape, and I spent very little time there. Yegads Muskrat is openly telling people to vote Republican. Bite me, asshole.

It was a glorious, sunny day, so I walked to the post office to mail some bills.

Only turned around one script in the afternoon. Had trouble concentrating.

Took Jeremy Rock Smith’s virtual cooking class. He’s doing a soup class for the next few weeks, and I love it. He has such joy in both the cooking and the teaching that it makes every day better.

I also learned where I can improve my technique on several things, so my upcoming soups will be even better.

Went to bed early, because I was so exhausted. Between the full moon, the eclipse, the retrogrades, the election, and Twitter’s destruction, it’s a lot.

In the Dreamscape, I taught a class, did a reading/book signing at an adorable library, and baked a ham. It was a busy night. There are no Republicans in my Dreamscape (along with no COVID), so it’s a nice place to spend time.

Tessa woke me up at 4. I refused to get out of bed until nearly 5, but then went to start my day. I went onto DystopTwitter, which was a mistake. In addition to the destruction, there are people boasting about not voting. Of course, that makes it easy to unfollow/block them. Some of them are people I’ve interacted with for a long time, and didn’t know they were that stupid. But when people show you who they are, believe them. I’ve always lost respect for people who choose not to vote; in the past few elections, that’s turned into genuine loathing.

I’m too old and tired to argue with people. The great thing about social media is that it’s easy to cut off contact.

I tried to sit down and write, wondered why I was struggling, and then realized I was still in my pajamas. Changed into writing clothes, and there were the words, waiting for me.

Wrote Chapter 8, coming in at 2118 words. Lots of dialogue, so a typical chapter length, but fewer words. It looks like I’ll break 20K tomorrow instead of on Thursday; if that’s the case, I will feel like I’m really on track.

I have to do the rounds to promote the episode of Legerdemain that drops today. And, you know, do some work on Legerdemain itself. By the end of next week, I need to put up the episodes through the end of the year, and then, hopefully, by mid-December, I can get all of the second arc up and scheduled. I’d like to get another chapter of ANGEL HUNT adapted today, too, before I have to switch over to script coverage.

No post on Ko-fi today. With Election Day chaos, it makes no sense. I’ll do a tarot post next weekend, and I’m working on a weird little flash fiction piece for Thanksgiving week.

Fingers crossed things get better after today, not worse. I want to be hopeful, but I’m afraid to be.

Take care my friends. VOTE.

Tues. Oct. 25, 2022: Life as a Kaleidoscope

image courtesy of Dmitri Posudin via pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

New Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Saturn DIRECT as of Sunday

Rainy/Sunny/Confusing

Saturn went direct on Sunday, taking a lot of the life lessons pressure off. Now, we have to implement what we learned on this Saturn Retrograde so we don’t have the same lessons smacked at us next time it comes around, next year.

Enjoy the lull this week, because Mars goes retrograde  on the 30th, and stays there until January 12th. Mars is already in Gemini until March of 2023, causing stress and difficulties. Going retrograde, through all the holidays, means huge additional stresses. It makes it likely people will be more easily argumentative than usual over the holidays, so try to pull up extra patience and compassion. I talk about that in more detail over on the GDR site, with a post on “Breath Under Duress.”

My plan is to have as quiet a holiday season as possible, with very little socializing (especially since there’s a pandemic going on).

Now, down to our usual Tuesday morning natter, to catch up over the weekend.

Don’t forget: The Process Muse launches tomorrow on Substack. It’s free, and you can sign up here.

Friday morning, I hit the ground running; blogging, making devilled eggs, taking out the garbage, doing the last-minute counter wiping and stainless-steel appliance cleaning.

Our friend showed up and we had a good catch up on all that’s new for both of us. Feasted on the devilled eggs, the black bean soup, the lemon mousse. She had to head back to CT after lunch.

We cleaned up and settled in on the couch to rest. When I checked my email, I found some sad news. An old family friend died last week, in Switzerland. We didn’t even know she was ill. I’d been planning to go and visit the next time I went overseas (which will probably be in 2024).

I had nothing left in the tank, so I gave myself the afternoon off. I finished reading THE SECRET SISTERHOOD, about literary friendships, which was good. I read Joy Harjo’s memoir, POET WARRIOR, which was very well done and uniquely structured.

Charlotte, who’d hidden when my friend was there, because she was afraid she would be given away, was Velcro Kitty all afternoon and evening. And woke me every two hours all night, for reassurances.

Up early on Saturday. Did some work on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED MURDER. I’m a little worried, because it’s heavy on character and atmosphere, and light on plot. Also, there are so many period details I’ll have to add in when I do the revision. But I at least have a good idea on the first third, and escalating the stakes for Rita, my heroine. This book will definitely be a case of draft fast, revise slowly. I like THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH better as a title, which, it turns out, was my original title, so I’ve changed it back to that.

Turned around a script.

I filled out a writer-in-residence application that comes with a nice stipend. However, because of that, I’m sure they will go with a much bigger name. But if I don’t try, I have zero shot, so I tried.

Went out and got the paint I needed for the bookcases, and a dropcloth. I painted one bookcase completely and started the second one, but ran low on both paint and time.

Read a book by someone whom I met in passing back in my NYC days. It was one of those people I was advised I “should” know, although we were in different arenas. Anyway, I recently came across one of her books in the library (a memoir) and decided to read it. The writing is good. But I don’t like the person I met in those pages. The privilege and the whining are way too much.

Charlotte woke me at 3:30 on Sunday morning, which was not the start to the day for which I’d hoped. But I made apple muffins. I upped the allspice from ¼ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon, and it was a good choice.

Got a nice chunk of work done on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH.

Filled out the ballots for the election. Of course I voted Blue all the way down. I’m not an idiot. Or a supporter of fascism.

Got more paint and finished the second bookcase. Not that I know where to put it yet. The first one fit perfectly on top of the other red bookcases in the kitchen, so I cleaned and rearranged all those shelves, and it looks good.

I kept feeling I “should” work all day (on work-work, not house and home stuff). I also felt the flickers of burnout and decided to rest, so I could focus this week and next week, which will be challenging.

I read Alyssa Maxwell’s MURDER AT BEACON ROCK, which was well done and satisfying and sad, all at once. I really like the series. At one point, I fantasized about writing a series set in Gilded Age Newport, but she’s written a better series than I would have, and I no longer need to write one!

There are flutters that Yegads Muskrat is going ahead to buy Twitter and people are fretting about where to go. Tribel Social Network has been urging people to go on it, but I don’t like their policies/terms of service. I think I’ll stick with CounterSocial. If people want to find me, they will. I still can’t get on Ello, which is annoying, since I built so much on there. I’d hate to leave Twitter, but if I have to, I have to.

This is why one needs a website, not just social media.

Had trouble sleeping on Sunday into Monday, which made Monday a late start. But I got some work done on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH.

My priority was turning around the edits for my Llewellyn editor. Eek! Thank goodness for her kindness and patience, because some of the stuff she caught there was a big mess. I sent it in early, in case she needs me to do more work. But she said they’re fine, and she assured me she loves the piece (even with the messes we cleaned up).

I did revisions on “My Side of the Bed” and “Paranormal Paraphrasing” and got them submitted, in spite of the computer repeatedly crashing. I managed to get out six script submissions.

Irritated that the regional ML for Nano only wants to interact on Facebook and Discord. When I do Nano, I want to be able to go to the Nano site and get the information I need, not travel to other sites. I go to the Nano site FOR NANO. I’m irritated. I’ll stick to my Enchanted Wordsmiths group and to hell with the region crap. They’re doing stuff in person and you know they won’t implement any COVID protocols. Pass.

More scripts came up in my queue, so I have enough to read at least through tomorrow, and then, hopefully, I’ll get a couple of Thursday and Friday.

Turned around 3 scripts. Started writing a weird new little, short play. Heard that an odd little play I really love, which I wrote and submitted for a specific call, was not chosen as one of the 5 plays they can use for their event. The company wrote a really kind letter about it, but it makes me sad. I’m fond of the piece, and will have to find another spot for it, which won’t be easy, because it’s so specific.

Stepped in for a colleague who had an emergency and couldn’t do a Zoom talk with a group of young playwrights. It was a lot of fun. They had terrific ideas and great questions. It meant I missed the Artist Working Group, but I knew if they held the WG in the evenings, I’d run into conflicts. If they keep it in the evenings permanently, then I’ll withdraw.

Set the alarm for 5 this morning, and woke up just before the alarm went off, waking from a dream that I slept until 9 and missed the alarm. I was very confused when the alarm went off.

Hauled a fuckton of laundry into the car and over to the laundromat. Three large, industrial-sized machines were going, between the clothes (I’ve been lax about going every week), the curtains, and the other fabric-y stuff that’s been turned over for the season.

Sat in the car working on the multi-colored draft of CAST IRON MURDER. The original plan was that it would be ready for submission this past summer, but that didn’t happen. A longer wait time to work on revisions before I start querying was the right choice for this book. The story and characters are strong, but there’s a lot of sloppy writing (which happens, during Nano).

Cleaning up the sloppy writing makes it an even stronger book. But, again, although it’s an amateur sleuth, it’s not a cozy. The book deals with racism, COVID, and the sex lives of the characters.

Didn’t get enough done on the outline for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH before I had to leave for the laundromat, so that’s been pushed off until tomorrow. I have to type up what I have, so far, so that it’s ready to go. I have a strong opening. I have good backstory to integrate. I’ve drawn maps of who lives where, et al, which in a community such as this one, is necessary for the plot. I know who the murderer is and why that individual committed the murder(s). I have some of the clues and the red herrings, and raising the stakes for my protag. I don’t yet have the climactic sequence, but I’ll get there.

I probably need to walk around the Spruces a bit more, on a nice day, and let it percolate. I do know where the first body drop happens. My friends and I poked around that spot near the river when they came to visit a few weeks back.

I have a feeling I’ll have a lot of placeholders in this draft, since I need to go in and layer period detail. I want to go to the library/historical society and read a batch of newspapers from the months in which this book takes place, and then also do some research on the racial and ethnic relations in the area at the time. I’d hoped to get it done before Nano started, but it will have to be a winter project, and part of the revisions, which will, no doubt, make the revisions more extensive.

There’s a post for The Process Muse in all that! (Don’t forget, it drops tomorrow).

I hope to catch a pocket between rain showers to do a library run, drop off my ballots at City Hall, get some stamps at the post office. There was something else I was supposed to do, but darned if I can remember it.

Episode 27 of Legerdemain drops today. I hope you enjoy it. If you haven’t started reading the serial yet, it starts here.

Have a good one!

Tues. Oct. 18, 2022: Riding a Creative Wave

image courtesy of Kaneori via pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Waning Moon

Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Rainy and cold

Ready for our long, Tuesday natter? I also have the Mid-Month check-in up on the GDR site.

Decent weekend. Friday was a little all over the place. It wasn’t focused writing time, which was frustrating. Lots of admin work. Wrote and submitted a book review, and received the next two books to review. Wrote 2 ½ blog posts for Ink-Dipped Advice, working ahead. Poked around on Substack, honing my plan. Covered a script. Started another coverage.

The inspiring thing I did on Friday afternoon was to put on real people clothes and makeup and go to MASSMoCA for the Boiler House Poets reading. I met Joanne, the poet who invited me to the reading, and several of the others. Eight poets were on this year’s retreat, working together. The voices and experiences were all very different, but there was still a flow to the overall reading. It was exciting, and I’m so honored I was invited to it. I’m looking forward to next year’s reading already!

Home, made dinner, read in the evening, for fun. Read a new book in a series where I’ve read most of the series. This one was just too formulaic and similar to the others to be satisfying. I mean, I enjoyed it, it worked as relaxing brain candy for the night, but I didn’t love it, and some of the other books in the series I really loved.

Slept well Friday into Saturday, mostly because Charlotte stayed on the couch until nearly 5 AM. It was Tessa who jumped on the bed in the morning to wake me up – the first time she’s been on the bed since we moved here. Charlotte came in a little later and was horrified.

I drafted a short play in the morning, “My Side of the Bed” which was fun. I unpacked more boxes from the storage run, washed some pieces, and finished the last script coverage of the pay period. I made some notes on a couple of projects, where the ideas are flowing.

The tulip, daffodil, and hyacinth bulbs arrived. We’ll plant them in a week or two, and hope for the best in spring. So I guess the tussling with John Scheeper’s worked. Still not sure I’d deal with them again.

Forced myself to read the book I’d put aside from the author whose series I’d previously liked until she used “witch” as a slur in this one. I didn’t like it for more reasons than the slur. Overall, it was bland. On top of that, the protagonist, in the last few books, is regressing. I was drawn to the series because the protagonist was smart, resourceful, strong, and fun. She paired up with a romance-worthy guy, and the first few books post-marriage were fun. But in the last few, she gets weaker and weaker and more and more dependent on him and frantic/anxious, in a way that doesn’t make sense the way her character was established in the previous books. It’s like the editor encouraged the writer to make the character more “relatable” by giving her more anxiety when there’s nothing to worry about.  I’ve lost respect for the character, and not just because of the witch slur. Instead of growing, she’s regressing, into a state of helplessness beyond where she was in the first book. So, I’m done with the series and the author. It’s not like losing me as a reader is going to make a dent in her sales. I am no longer her target audience.

Tried to start another book that came highly recommended, but it’s in present tense, and I’m not being paid to read it, so it’s going back to the library unread. I loathe novels written in present tense. I want to hurl them against the wall. It’s the author standing between me and the text screaming, “Look at me! I’m such a brilliant stylist!” when they’re not, instead of letting me experience the story. Again, I’m not the target audience. If a writer believes that’s the best voice in which to tell the story, they should absolutely do it. But I am not the audience for it.

I’m reading a few nonfiction books right now, which I enjoy. One I did not, too much religion and not enough about what it claimed the book was about, so that’s going back.

Started the next book in the Elantra series, and I’m enjoying that.

Alternated reading and unpacking in the afternoon.

Charlotte woke me up too early on Sunday morning. But I got up, fed everybody, and wrote two episodes of LEGERDEMAIN, about 3K all told. Updated the Style Sheet and the Series Bible. I bitch and moan to myself (and the cats) about updating the sheets after drafting every episode (for a novel, I’d wait until galleys to update the Series Bible). But it sure as heck saves me a lot of time and frustration as I move forward.

I did some puttering and reading, and planning for a project I realized has to go live next week (just after the new moon). I meant to just create the opening for it and jot more notes, but I wrote the first four pieces. This will all make sense later this week, when I formally announce the project. Until I upload it and schedule it to post, I don’t know if I can promote it before it goes live, or if I have to wait. I hate vague-posting, and apologize. I’m also not talking about it on social media, because I hate it when people say they have good news, but can’t share it yet. STFU until you can.

Crankypants much? I better sing myself the Crankypants song until I laugh and get over it.

All told, I wrote a little over 5K on the new project and 3K on LEGERDEMAIN, so I wrote nearly 8K on Sunday. I haven’t done that in a long time, and I was tired and achy by the end of the day.

To my horror, when I was looking at the content calendar of scheduled upcoming posts, I realized that I have not uploaded/scheduled the episode ads for the final 11 episodes of LEGERDEMAIN’s first big arc. So that’s on the list for this week. I’m behind in the overall series marketing, and I have to update the Topic Workbook links before the new project drops next week, because I link back to the Topic Workbooks. I also have to create a newsletter blast so it’s ready to go when the new project goes live.

And I’m way, way behind on LOIs. As in, hadn’t sent any this month. Which I didn’t realize until I compiled the information for the Mid-Month post over on the GDR site on Monday.

But the writing itself felt good, and that’s what’s important.

I joined #scriptchat on Sunday night, and it was fun. Sunday nights are usually bad for me to do stuff online, but I’d already blown the attempt at a day of disconnect, so why not do something fun?

Monday morning, I was irritated by the amount of email that piled up. I have a lot of admin to catch up on this week.

I wrote another episode of LEGERDEMAIN, which is a good thing. But I’m pretty sure this arc will run closet to 40 episodes than 30, as originally planned. But the structure of the arc has embedded in me as I write, which will make the revisions and edits easier.

I got an email for my editor with the suggestions for the article that will be in the 2024 Llewellyn almanac. She loves the piece, which makes me so happy, because it’s one of the riskiest and most personal pieces I’ve ever written, and I worried I screwed it up. Her suggestions, as always, are right on the mark. I’m so grateful to have her as my editor.

Payment came through from the last two weeks’ of script coverage, and I transferred that over to the bank.

I think I figured out a solution for the LEGERDEMAIN ads which won’t be too much of a PITA. On some platforms, it’s just about adjusting dates. On channels that don’t allow edits, it’s about adding in the correct episodes on the correct dates, and having more overlap between episodes. It will be a slog, but it’s fixable.

The hardest thing was to take a breath and not berate myself for the mistake. I’m human, I made a mistake. It wasn’t huge, it’s fixable, it didn’t hurt anyone. It was on my own work, not client work. Mistakes happen.

I updated the links on the Topic Workbooks on the Devon Ellington site, so those are all current. Since the workbooks are steady sellers, I need to stay on top of that. I still have to create, upload, and schedule the marketing campaign for that through December. And upload/schedule the ads for 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS during November and into the first week of December (October is done and dropping on time).

I did another piece for the project launching next week, because I was in its groove. I can start uploading/scheduling on Thursday, I think. I also created the announcement in MailerLite, which will either go out this week (preferable) or on the day of the launch, depending on when I can get a legitimate link.

I turned around one script coverage, and started a second. I realized I was behind where I hoped/needed to be, so I withdrew from an online event I was scheduled to attend.

However, while I was cooking dinner, I got an idea. The title came first (which is unusual for me). Originally, it was going to be a piece of flash fiction, a ghost story with humor and maybe a touch of horror. But as I percolated, I realized it make more sense as a play.

After dinner, instead of returning to script coverage, I sat down and wrote the first draft of “Paranormal Paraphrasing” which turned out to be a 10-minute play.

As I finished the draft, an email came in from my friend Paula, who’d come across some more play submission calls, and one of them looks like it will be a good fit.

I was so tired by the time I was finished that I was shaking. But I’m glad I rode that creative wave.

I didn’t sleep well; too many different ideas mashing, but not meshing, in my dreams.

Up early. One of the cats was hurling, but I haven’t stepped in it yet, which means I haven’t yet found it.

Got into a lively Twitter discussion about being baffled when people refuse to wear clothes more than once. For me, it’s not only a sustainability and an economic issue, but also, when I love a piece of clothing, I take good care of it and keep wearing it. I mend it. I clean it the way it needs to be cleaned. I honor it. Most of us on the thread felt the same way, thank goodness.

I also sew, and can build my own clothes. I realize not everyone can or wants to do that, but basic mending is a necessary life skill. It’s worth MAKING the time to learn.

Anyway, I actually have to leave the house today. I should have gone to the laundromat, but the weather is too yucky. I’ll go tomorrow. I do, however, have to return a stack of books, hit the grocery store, pick up my mother’s prescription, mail some bills, hit the liquor store.

I need to get some writing in before I leave, help a friend with her website, and then, later on, finish the coverage I started yesterday and turn around another one. There hasn’t been much in the queue this week, which concerns me.

Time to get out some more LOIs. I’ve been lax on it for the past few weeks.

Have a good one! The next episode of LEGERDEMAIN drops today.

Tues. Sept. 13, 2022: Fun With Friends

image courtesy of Fancycrave1 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Waning Moon

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

Cloudy and humid

I completely forgot to post an intention for the week yesterday; I knew I’d scheduled something to post, and it was for the GDR site, not this one. Oops.

Friday and Saturday were about getting the house ready for guests, and cooking ahead somewhat (making the potato salad and the curried chicken salad and the black bean soup, etc.). Sunday morning, I put the chicken in the crockpot and made the devilled eggs.

My friends arrived a little before 11. We got them settled, and then I drove them around for the basic tour of the town, ending up at Windsor Lake. In the afternoon, we just caught up chatting and decided what to do on Monday. We ate and yakked and had a good time.

Tessa remembered one of my friends from his trips to the Cape. It was funny, because at first she didn’t, until she did. Charlotte and Willa had never met either of them. Willa was friendly, but Charlotte was anxious she was being given away, and hid most of the time.

We were up early on Monday, had a leisurely breakfast, and then headed out. I showed them the library (the building is beautiful) and then we spent the rest of the morning at MassMOCA. The space is enormous, and there’s only so much you can see before the brain fries.

But we saw Kellie Rae Adams’s very intense installation “Forever in Your Debt” which was just amazing. There was also an exhibit of Louse Bourgeois marble and metal sculptures I’d never seen before, Laurie Anderson’s fascinating, personal pieces,  Gunnar Schoenbeck’s musical art, Richard Nielsen’s set of 48 masked paintings, a group exhibit of Ceramics in the Expanded Field, and a kind of graffiti/pop art/neon set of rooms.

It was all fascinating. I often wonder how different the story I receive from these pieces is from the story the artist told. It’s such an education in different ways of telling stories that don’t all rely on words on pages, and how different textures, colors, and juxtapositions stimulate responses.

Definitely an inspiration to keep experimenting with different types of storytelling.

We came home for lunch, and then headed down to Lenox to The Mount (Edith Wharton’s home) to walk the grounds, visit the sculpture installation, and my favorite, the sunken garden. We had tea on the terrace and headed back. It was hotter and more humid than I’d expected.

More snacks, more cooking, dinner, and talking.

Charlotte got a little more comfortable as time went on, but I think she needed a couple more days to really make friends.

Charlotte woke me up at 3:15 this morning to let me know it was raining, so I could put the bucket out on the porch under the leak (it’s on the landlord’s list). Her work was done and she went back to sleep, but I was up. For a while there, it monsooned, but it tapered off.

I made Eggs Benedict for breakfast, and they got back on the road by about 8:30, in case the rain slowed them down.

It was a good visit with good friends with whom I have a long history of laughter and creativity.

Stripped the beds and prepared the laundry. I have to get back to work now, and get some stuff done today.

We’ll be out of the house mid-morning tomorrow, because my mom gets Covid Shot #5.

Episode 15 of LEGERDEMAIN drops today; I hope you enjoy it.

Have a good one!

Published in: on September 13, 2022 at 9:31 am  Comments Off on Tues. Sept. 13, 2022: Fun With Friends  
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Tues. Aug. 2, 2022: Creative Busy-ness

image courtesy of Hans via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny, hazy, humid

The weekend was kind of all over the place.

The artists working group that I was told met Friday morning, of course, met Thursday morning. The organizers really need to get their communications cleaned up. Especially since I specifically contacted them to ask for clarification and they still gave me the wrong information.

I picked up a few things at Wild Oats market instead.

I spent Friday revising CREATIVE STIMULUS and THE SERIES BIBLE. I was behind where I wanted to be, but between the humidity and ongoing computer kerflamma, it was exhausting.

Attended an amazing yoga class on Friday night. It was a wonderful restorative class and I slept very, very well after.

Up early Saturday morning. Went to the market. Didn’t buy much. The lines were so long as some of the stalls, which is great for the farmers, but I didn’t have the energy to stand in the sun. Picked up my mom’s prescription at the nearby CVS and came home.

Should have done a lot of stuff, but I was hot and tired and didn’t. We did hang up some of the artwork, although we haven’t found the right spot for oh, too many things. But some digital artwork by a friend went up, and the mosaic by my uncle. I put up the sketch of Paris – which I bought on my first trip to Paris when I was 11 years old for 2 francs – but it’s not in the right spot. When I find the right spot for it, I will move it.

Read in the afternoon and just relaxed.

Up early on Sunday. Charlotte and Tessa were both being pills. Made biscuits. Sent off an LOI. Did some blog work. Finally got the materials for a magical journaling class I’m taking this week with the group with whom I did Expedition to the Soul last year.

Worked on my Llewellyn article and got it done. It took a good portion of the day, since it was 2800 words.

I’m reading the biography of Emily Mann. The first time I met her was when I was working at the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, and she’d just been named the Artistic Director for the McCarter Theatre. I always admired her, and wish I’d gotten the chance to work closely with her.

Played with ideas for my poem, and for the story for the Shakespeare horror anthology. I want to keep my poem short, between a half a page to a page (even though I have a longer slot). I’m learning how to do this, and I’d rather keep it shorter and work on technique and rhythm and performance than use up the whole slot just to use it.

Monday, I was up and at it early. I made the social media rounds to thank those who participated in #31Prompts. Ello, by far, had the highest rate of engagement, both on and offline. Counter Social was second, by quite a big gap. Then, there was another big gap, and it was Twitter and then Facebook. Trailing the pack was Tumblr.

The metrics come from both engagement on the platform, and from contact individuals made with me privately about which prompts they liked and the types of pieces those prompts inspired. Because I don’t want anyone to post the actual work online and blow first rights.

I posted the July wrap up on the GDR site, and you can read it here. I had a pretty creative month.

I rewrote my Llewellyn article pretty extensively, and got it in to my editor. I still haven’t hit the sweet spot with it, except in word count, so I’m eager for her feedback.

I did the marketing content calendar for the CREATIVE STIMULUS Topic Workbook, which dropped yesterday, and got that uploaded and scheduled through the end of September.

Then, I tackled episodes 7-10 of LEGERDEMAIN. Even though I’d done a couple of revisions on them, they needed more. The world count is a little higher than I want for these episodes, but I had to set foundations for a few things, so there we were. The text got two pretty massive revisions, and then tweaks once it was uploaded and previewed. But I got them up and scheduled.

Then, I created episode loglines and episode-specific ads for them. I uploaded and scheduled those around the episode releases. I have to do the big weekend ad schedules, but I’ll do those in a day or two.

After that, I created three more quirky general ads (well, four, because I had an idea for something coming up, but it won’t release for a few more weeks). I got those designed, uploaded, and scheduled around the relevant episodes.

I read the revision of my friend’s radio play and it is wonderful! I love what she’s done. It’s so good, and such fun!

I did some work on the grant proposal. I need photographs. I’m not sure I have photographs of the relevant work, and I’m not sure I have it up here rather than in storage so I can take new photographs. I’ll cross that bridge next week,

I did my Italian lesson. I listened to the first session of a journal workshop on journaling with intent. I was put off by the way she was so condescending to a regular journal practice. As someone who has kept up a journal practice for FIFTY YEARS, and who has found the practice helped me navigate plenty of difficult stuff, I was annoyed by the attitude that a journal practice was “meaningless” and one just writes in a book and puts it away. Nope. Not the way I do it. This after the whole “I’ll never tell you that you HAVE to do something.” Yeah, but you’ll be patronizing when someone does something differently.  I was also annoyed by the whole “Oh, a bunch of us are doing a trip to Salem, so we won’t have live sessions for the next few days, just pre-recorded ones.” I don’t mind pre-recorded sessions, I don’t need to see the running comments in the live sessions. However, it’s kind of insulting when students have put aside the time to attend the workshop to blow them off. Just set it up so it’s “work at your own pace, here are the sessions.” I’m also really irritated at the pressure to download their app. I do not run my life from apps, nor do I want to.

My path is different, especially right now.

I was very tired by the end of the day. Between 2800K in revisions on the article, nearly 8K in the episodes, and then creating the ads, yup, I was tired. I also have 9 scripts in my queue, to read by the end of the week, so I have to push today and tomorrow, so that I’m not overwhelmed at the end of the week, before I teach.

Today’s priority is uploading and scheduling the content calendar for THE SERIES BIBLE Workbook, which drops tomorrow, and finish the revisions on SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM. I also want to finish the slideshow for the class I’m teaching Saturday.

I think that’s all I can get in during the morning. In the afternoon/evening, I have to cover 3 scripts, and I’m taking a break in the evening to attend Chef Jeremy’s cooking workshop from Kripalu online. Plus the day’s Italian lesson and journal workshop. But it’s the right kind of busy.

I heard from a grant for which I’d applied that I’d made it to the next round. I’ve heard that from them before. I make it close to the end, then they give the grant to someone who never finishes anything and is never heard from again.  But they tell me to keep applying. I’d already decided that if I don’t get it this year, I’m done with them. Not worth the work putting together the grant, when all they do is string me along, and then give it to someone who doesn’t deliver. In the years I’ve applied, I went from never working in the genre to regularly publishing in it, so I guess I don’t need it. But it would sure give me some breathing room.

Anyway, back to the work that needs to be done. Hope you’re having a good start to the week.

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. March 29, 2022: Washer Woes

image courtesy of Ryan McGuire via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Waning Moon

Cloudy and cold

Fairly quiet weekend. There’s a March wrap up over on the GDR site, posted early, even though we still have a few days left in the month, and I’m just trying to steadily do the work.

It wasn’t a good writing day on Friday, sadly. Oversleeping threw off the morning for me. But I did write and turn in another book review, and cover a script. Did a bunch of admin work. Put the seedlings out on the porch. It’s still too cold at night to leave them. I received an internal promotion and a pay bump from a big client.

Tessa woke me early on Saturday. I moved to the couch and overslept. The sun overcame the clouds, so we could put the seedlings on the porch, at least for a few hours. More seeds are germinating (more on that in Thursday’s garden post.

Had to go to the pharmacy to pick up my mom’s prescription. Because the weather was good, I went on foot, and then I took a different route from there to the library, to learn more about the town. I found some interesting restaurants and stores that I will visit at leisure in the future.

Dropped off/picked up books at the library.

In the afternoon, I tried reading a book that was supposed to be an exciting, twisty thriller getting a lot of buzz. I figured it out less than a third of the way through, and lost patience with the characters for not catching on. Checked the ending, to make sure I was right (yes, I was). That’s back in the return pile. Tried another book that came highly recommended, but it’s written in present tense, which I loathe, and, since I’m not being paid to read it, it goes back in the return pile.

Returned to reading contest entries, which was fun. It started raining in the late afternoon, so we brought the seedlings in. Crockpot chicken was a good choice.

Up early on Sunday, baked biscuits. Charlotte, or maybe Willa, chomped on some of the cucumber seedlings, so I’m trying to recuse them. A member of the extended family in Maine is very ill. I’ve kept a distance since the lack of support around the move last year, but I don’t want this person to be ill.

It snowed off and on all day. Sometimes flurries, sometimes intensely. In a break between it, I did a run to the liquor store and to get burgers. Bad choice on the burgers, and I was miserable all afternoon. Red meat and I are no longer friends. And yet, every few months, I crave it. But fresh trout for dinner was a better choice.

I covered a script in the afternoon, and then returned to working on contest entries. I ordered snapdragon seeds and marigold seeds. That means I have to go out and get more pots and soil next week, when I go to get the tomato cages. I set up the acknowledgements file for CAST IRON MURDER and for the retro mystery. Starting a document for acknowledgements early in the process saves a lot of panic later on.

Tessa woke me on Monday at 5:30, which is a perfect time. The usual early morning routine of writing in longhand, yoga, meditation. Blogged.

It started sunny, but too cold to put the seedlings out. More seedlings are sprouting, which is lovely. I got through some admin work. Didn’t get much done on The Big Project. Revised the next three chapters of CAST IRON MURDER. Worked on the grant proposal. I need to flesh it out some more today, and put material connected to the proposal up on one of my websites. I don’t have information on the stage and radio plays up on a website, and I should.

I also played with the MailerLite site, and worked on the newsletter, which will go out in a day or so (since it’s the end of the quarter and all). If you haven’t yet signed up and would like to, newsletter signup is here.

Received the next book for review. Started a script coverage. There’s not much in the queue, which worries me a bit, but also takes off some of the pressure. Worked on contest entries.

Noodled with some ideas for the play I have to start on Friday as part of the Dramatists Guild project. Noodled with some ideas for the Monthology story.

The Tamed Wild box arrived. In it, was a Rose of Jericho plant. I’ve put it in water, and it’s unfurling. Fascinating. It’s not a plant with which I have much familiarity.

Up early this morning, before Tessa even got started. Was out of the house and on the way to the laundromat early. Ended up spending more time there than planned, because the machine I used was stuck on “rinse” for 15 minutes, and then didn’t spin out properly, so the wash was soaking wet (no sink in the building, no techs). I had to have it in the dryer on high for an hour. I put a note on the machine, so that no one else has to go through this.

I brought the pages done so far on The Big Project with me, and worked on them while at the laundromat. I got a lot done.

Home to find more seeds are sprouting. It’s very exciting.

Today’s list items include work on The Big Project, revisions on CAST IRON MURDER, another revision of the grant proposal, putting information up on the website, a polish on the newsletter, and a script coverage. I might do some more contest entries, if I get the chance.

It’s supposed to start warming up again over the next few days. Let’s hope this was winter’s last gasp, and I can get the seedlings out on the front porch, and set up the enchanted garden on the back balcony sooner rather than later.

Have a good one.

Tues. March 15, 2022: Don’t Get All Stabby On Me

Image courtesy of Thomas B via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

If you’re familiar with Julius Caesar and The Ides of March, you’ll get the reference.

The March mid-month check-in post is over on the GDR site.

Anyway, on Thursday, I got some work done in the morning. I then did the rounds of the library, picking up my birthday cake, post office, liquor store. I participated in Freelance Chat. As I did, I realized that everything I HAD to do before Monday was. . .done.

I’d expected to be working until well into the evening to “justify” taking a three-day weekend. But there wasn’t anything in my script reading queue, I was waiting to hear back on a few things, I’d written my reviews. I could have started the next book for review, or worked on contest entries.

But I didn’t want to.

So I started my weekend on Thursday afternoon. I read books I wanted to read, including THE LOFT GENERATION by Edith Schloss, about abstract and modern artists who started living and working in lofts in NYC in the 1940’s. Excellent book.

Friday morning, we had smoked salmon Benedict as my birthday breakfast, which was excellent. We got into the car to head out for the birthday adventures. One of the windshield wiper blades snapped off, and the check engine light came back on. Really? The car only worked for four days?

I was not a happy camper.

We decided to truncate the day’s plans. We only went to Pittsfield, to the big book sale at the Atheneum. People were still masked, thank goodness, but it was very crowded, and I was uncomfortable. We didn’t stay very long. I bought some jazz and world music CDs, and a couple of books. My mom bought a few books. I couldn’t get near the older, interesting books, because a triad of dealers were there, scooping them up and blocking regular buyers from them.

On the way back, we stopped to get some cleaning supplies, more pots, potting soil, and some groceries to get us through the stormy weekend. People were talking about this storm with more concern than any of the storms so far this winter.

Home and settled in with the new books. I started reading a mystery, didn’t like it after 50 pages, read the ending; liked it less. It was everything that doesn’t work for me in a mystery: a dumb, nasty protagonist; smarmy, vicious ensemble of characters who don’t support the protagonist nor deserve the protagonist’s help; used “witch” as a slur against women; and an undercurrent of racism that I found sickening, like how dare the few black characters encroach on this safe white world. The book goes into a bag of donations I’m putting together for another book sale, and someone else can have it. It is not staying in this house, and I will not read something by this author again.

I had to wash my hands after putting it in the box, to get the stench off me.

I read the other book I’d bought, a paranormal urban fantasy with romantic elements. It worked better. It was a several books into a series I haven’t read, but it was clear about the story (without info dumping on the past). I read the blurbs for the next several in the series; not sure I’ll read them, because I don’t really like the overall series arc. But at least this was a few hours of reading pleasure.

Then, I started THE DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS by Sue Lynn Tan. Wow. Just wow. I read it Friday and finished it Saturday, even though it’s a pretty big book. But the writing is gorgeous. So beautiful. The worldbuilding, the characters, the storytelling. All wonderful. It’s a completely unique fantasy novel. The copy I read is from the library, but I think I will buy my own copy, because this is a book I will re-read.

I’d been stressing out about what to order for dinner on Friday night, worried I’d be disappointed in it. The restaurant I’d planned to order didn’t have anything on its changing menu that I really craved. So, instead, we ordered from the Freight Yard Pub, which isn’t far from us at all, and a couple of people have recommended it to me. My mom ordered her favorite fish & chips. I had stuffed chicken breast, mashed potatoes w/gravy, and roasted vegetables. The portions were huge, and it was quite good. Not a brilliant, life-changing meal, but good. I had prosecco with it, because it’s my birthday and I will damn well drink prosecco.

Although I’m seriously considering making like a Venetian and drinking prosecco regularly when the lunch is fancy enough.

I got so many lovely and loving birthday wishes via social media and email. It really made the day special.

Tessa got me up around 6 on Saturday. It was raining, but quickly changed over to snow. I thanked people for their good wishes, and answered birthday emails.

I spent the day going through books. Reading or rereading some, when I’d finished DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS. Going through some research books I’d gotten out of the library; I extracted what I needed, and they’re in the pile to go back.

I went through some of the art books that are here (I will have to retrieve others from storage, if and when the car is fixed so we can do a storage run). I’m looking for pieces that will inspire the short pieces under the three categories I’ve set aside for them. I looked at some terrific work – I’d forgotten how much impact Judy Chicago’s work has – but nothing that was a catalyst for any of those pieces. I’ll get some books from the college library this week, and see.

The snow kept pounding down, a heavy, wet snow. One of the books I’m assigned for review arrived, and it looks wonderful. I’m eager to dig into it this week.

I rested a lot. It’s a combination of birthday blues, stress about the car, worry about work, and general burnout.

I got a rejection on a short story, which was not unexpected, because it was a stretch market for me, and they were very nice in the letter. I’m going to take a look at it, see what needs to be tweaked, and find another market for it. Because I like it (or I wouldn’t have submitted it anywhere in the first place). It’s a combination of speculative fiction & mystery, with a dose of humor. But not a flash piece, it’s too long for that. And most of the paying markets now seem to want flash.

Had to change all the clocks before bedtime on Saturday, which made me grumble. I hate springing forward. When we fall back, I have extra energy for weeks. When we spring forward, I drag for days.

Up around 6 on Sunday, regular morning routine. Traditional eggs Benedict for breakfast, since it was still birthday weekend.

I rewrote a short story which had been rejected a few weeks back for being “too genre.” Hmm, when the submission call says they read regardless of genre as long as it fits the theme, then say something is too genre, gives me important information.

Anyway, I like the story, it’s a ghost story set in a theatre. I rewrote it a bit, to move it away from the submission call’s theme, and changed the protagonist’s name (which was part of the guidelines, and it didn’t suit her). I was looking for another market for it, but it seems ghost stories are now considered horror. This is more of a traditional ghost story, more paranormal with touches of mystery, than horror. I don’t think it’s dark enough for the horror markets I researched. I could go a little darker, but going too much darker would go in a direction I don’t really want.

However, there’s a middle section that’s set outside of the theatre (the beginning and end happen in the theatre). It underlines a theme and places a red herring. But maybe if I change that and keep all of it in the theatre, it might work better, and skew dark enough to fit some of the horror submission calls without going darker than I want for this particular piece.

I have to percolate on that a bit.

A friend sent me a list of markets, and, researching through those, that might be the way to go, so that it’s still within my vision, but still suited to one of these paying markets.

There’s no deadline on this, so I can let it simmer for a bit.

Did a little bit of work on Gambit Colony. If I get pulled down into that rabbit hole again, it will throw too much other work off track, but, as is typical, when I’m under stress, that’s the piece that soothes me best to work on. I’m writing a section set in Venice right now, which makes me happy.

Started work on a short piece that’s been rolling around my brain for a bit, inspired by a submission call. Not sure where it’s going yet. I want it to be short, no more than 1500 words, but it’s hitting the right 1500 words that’s the trick. 1000 words would be even better. The deadline’s not for a couple of months, so we’ll see.

I put together chicken and vegetables in the crockpot. I’d forgotten to start it right after breakfast; it was late morning before I remembered, but that’s what the “high” cooking speed is for, right?

I planted the cherry tomatoes and the mini cucumbers directly into their final pots. No need to transplant. I’m going to have to get more potting soil, because I still have hollyhocks, four o’clocks, nasturtiums, tansy, sweet peas, and mallow to plant. And the night-blooming jasmine coming in at the end of the month or early April, which will need repotting. I also planted more cat grass, since Charlotte and Willa only have a few stalks left. I put them in a different pot; I will alternate between the two pots, but I need to order more seeds for that. I’ll order the bigger batch this time.

There’s a new combination of plant center/art gallery opening up next month on Main Street, in walking distance. I am very excited.

The afternoon and evening were spent reading contest entries, with Norah Jones on the CD player. Finished the bottle of birthday prosecco, too, that I opened on Friday.

Charlotte started poking at me around 5, but Tessa was quiet until 6. Because it’s darker now in the morning, she’s staying quiet. Although that doesn’t explain why, so often, she woke me at 4 over the winter, because it was darned dark then.

Good yoga session. I’ve been hit and miss on the morning yoga the past few weeks, and need to get back into that routine. I feel better when I stick to it.

The side table to the left of my desk, in front of the large windows, has always been one of Charlotte’s favorite’s hangouts, but Tessa has discovered it. She can see more birds from it, and she is very excited.

I sent out some LOIs; got back some auto-responses for tests, which meant I shrugged off those companies and put them on The List. If they’re not going to read my cover letter, where I clearly state I don’t do unpaid labor as part of an interview or pre-interview process, and that I have a specific contract for it, then it’s not a company with whom I want to work.

Did some work on The Big Project, but not enough. I feel I’ve lost the tone of the piece, and I need to get that back.

It was warm enough on the front porch to move out the seedlings, to encourage them.

Took a big load of books back to the library; they only had one for me to pick up. It was bright out, and things are melting. We’re supposed to actually move into warmer weather this week, in the 50’s and 60’s, which would be nice.

Made my favorite comfort Chinese peanut butter noodles for lunch. I’m so grateful not to have nut allergies.

In the afternoon, I did some brainstorming on the Monthology piece, caught up on some emails, did some client work. Stepping back from interacting with someone online, because she continues to make harmful decisions, then whines about them, in spite of having a network of professionals around her giving advice on better decisions. I can’t participate anymore. She’s made her decisions; they are hers to make; I’m not spending time putting together ideas and resources that she won’t bother to use, but will whine about being exploited, because she went against advice and made those choices. It’s a never-ending circle of frustration, and I don’t need to participate. I no longer respect her, and I’m beginning to actively dislike her, which is not a relationship worth maintaining. “Oh, she’s young” is not an excuse, because one of my editors is several years younger than this individual, but several decades smarter.

 I re-subscribed to THE NEW YORKER, which I’ve missed since my subscription lapsed last July. They offered me a great rate, so I was delighted to accept it. Which means I need to get some more magazine holders.

Turned around a script coverage. I should have started the spring cleaning, but I did not. I’d hoped to put in about two or three hours each weekday, and then three or four on the weekends, but I don’t know how that will shake out. The Chewy food order arrived early, and the cats were happy to play in the box. A pair of Nine West flats I’d bought on sale also arrived, earlier than expected. They look much better in person than they did in the picture, thank goodness, and fit. I still need a good pair of cross trainers in which to run errands on foot, and walk in the various parks, but the flats will be good for going to museums, networking events, etc.

Read contest entries in the evening. It will take me several hours today to enter the scores.

Tessa woke me at 4:30 this morning. I moved to the couch, dreamed about some sort of undercover operation where I had to be a flower arranger (if you know how bad I am at that, you’ll see why there’s no way I could pull it off). I overslept until seven, which put back my day.

I might rearrange my day anyway today, to go off and do some research later this morning. I want to work on The Big Project first. Then, I ‘ll go do my research. I have another script to turn around this afternoon, and more contest entries. And I need to get in touch with the mechanic about the next appointment for the car. I’m dreading that, but it needs to be done.

Almost all the snow has melted, so let’s hope this is it for the winter. Yeah, we’ll move into mud season next, but that’s still better than snow.

Lots to do today, so I better get to it. Have a good one!

Wed. Feb. 23, 2022: Mix and Match Creativity

image courtesy of Leolo212 via pixabay.com

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Waning Moon

Rainy and mild

I forgot to mention the post over on the GDR site about one’s practice; and later today, there will be a post over on Ink-Dipped Advice about being “Invited to apply.” The latter was supposed to post last week and didn’t. There’s a glitch with the scheduling tool, but I think it’s fixed.

I haven’t talked about the Ukraine situation because there’s nothing of value I can add to the conversation. Of course I’m upset at another war, especially one started by Russia. And I think the Congresspeople who pander to Putin (especially those who visited him on July 4th a few years ago) should be prosecuted for treason and face the ultimate penalty for it. Nothing short of that will stop them. That’s all they understand.

The entrepreneur meetup was interesting. Cool project, I’m looking forward to trying it. I didn’t say much, because there wasn’t anything to say; the presentation was clear, it’s an interesting piece, and now I need to interact directly with it. Any speaking I did would have been for the sound of my own voice, and that’s not necessary.

Part of the difficulty with networking (apart from the whole pandemic/isolation bit) is that I have to balance the need/ability to network with protecting the work. The work has to always come first, the writing. Things like The Big Project and the plays and writing/editing the books. Everything else has to build around it and feed into it, being “in addition to” not “instead of.” Sometimes that’s a difficult balance to strike. At other times, it’s impossible.

Headed to the library to drop off/pick up books. By the time I got home, it was raining, and kept raining, harder and harder, all day and into the night.

I renewed my Boston Public Library eCard, so that I have access to all their digital resources, which includes access to work via the British Public Library. That will help in my research.

Spun out some ideas for two grant proposals (one for one of my projects, one for a friend who’s got a big project). Did some brainstorming on the anthology. Covered a script for which I was requested (although I have to finish writing it up this morning).

In the evening, I attended a virtual author talk between Nina de Gramont and Wiley Cash about THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR. It was sponsored by Titcomb’s Bookshop. It was a lovely event. She’s a gracious and interesting speaker. Wiley Cash was lively and asked great questions, and I want to read his new book, too (I haven’t read any of his work before). There was a discussion about themes built around the different marriages in the book, and how unwed mothers were treated in Ireland at the time, which was very interesting, since so much of the press around the book focuses on Christie’s disappearance, and on the mystery side of it (and there are mysteries within mysteries in the book, too).

I started reading THE DECAGON HOUSE MURDERS by Japanese author Yukito Ayatsuji, translated by Ho-Ling Wong. It’s inspired by Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. It’s very clever and well done.

Although not a lot of words got onto paper, it was still a creative and interesting day, which is always a good thing.

Charlotte woke me up at 2, wanting attention. By 2:30, Tessa was howling, because Charlotte was getting attention and Tessa wasn’t. I moved to the couch, but couldn’t get comfortable. I finally dozed off and woke up around 6:30, completely disoriented.

But I have to “pull up my socks” as they say, and get moving. Lots to do today. Too messy out to hump the laundry to the laundromat, but I may go over to the college library and hunt down some research materials for various projects. And then, of course, more script coverage.

Have a good one!

Tues. Feb. 1, 2022: Happy Chinese New Year!

image courtesy of CDD20 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

New Moon

Mercury Retrograde

Venus Direct (as of Saturday)

Chinese Lunar New Year – Year of the Water Tiger

Sunny and cold

Time for our Tuesday catch up, so curl up with your favorite beverage and we’ll have a natter.

I have the January wrap-up over on the GDR site. I have a mistake in it – I said I wrote two short stories this month, but it turns out I wrote three. I finished the third (after I’d posted) and got it in a day before the deadline. So that’s three short stories, two poems, and a lot of words on The Big Project. I may have felt like I got nothing done in January, but it’s simply not true.

The weekend was quiet. Since we were prepared for the storm, we just sat and read and let it snow. We only got about six inches. We were nowhere near as slammed as they were on the coast. We also kept power, for which we were grateful.

Had we been in the old house, we would have been without power and had to rely on the woodburning fireplace. Plus, we would have had to try to dig out from two feet of snow on our own. I much prefer where we live now, where shoveling is handled by the landlord, not us.

I do miss having a woodburning fireplace, although I do enjoy our fireplace façade.

Venus going direct takes a lot of pressure off. There are still three days for Mercury to make everything go cattywampus, but I’m hoping I can proceed with caution and keep my head down.

I read a lot all weekend. I finished reading the last book in a series of 20 books, where I got tired of them about 10 books go, but kept hoping the protagonist might actually grow and change. No such luck. But they were quick reads, maybe an hour and a half to two hours per book, and I learned from them what I don’t want to do in my own work.

I read some contest entries.

I went through seed catalogs (I will go into more detail about that on Thursday’s Gratitude and Growth post), and put in one of my orders.

I started reading Cynthia Kuhn’s other series, the one that starts with THE SEMESTER OF OUR DISCONTENT, and I really like it. I’m grateful to Ellen Byron for suggesting Cynthia’s work.

It was nice to have a full weekend of rest. No running around, no extra work, none of that. I’d worked late on Friday to finish off all the script coverage that was due through yesterday, just in case. It meant I had to bow out of a virtual poetry event in which I’d hoped to participate, but I couldn’t take the risk of a power outage and not getting the coverage in.

And, as I said, two whole days of genuine rest made a big difference. I need to stop admonishing myself that rest is a luxury.

Charlotte woke me up Way Too Early on Saturday morning, because the snow made it appear so light. Tessa let me sleep in until 5:30 on Sunday, which was fine, and I got up and baked biscuits after I fed them. They had me up at 5 yesterday morning, which was fine, because I use the hours from 5-7 for yoga, meditation, journal writing, writing in longhand, etc.

Got a couple of boxes unpacked in my office on Saturday. Once things are unpacked (even if I need to buy more things in which to put them), I’ll put the extra boxes up on Craigslist.

There are boxes that should have come up on the truck that didn’t, so I will have to dig around in the storage unit in spring, when we make our run to find them.

Yesterday, Charlotte and Tessa tag-teamed to get me up a little after 5, which was fine. I’d originally planned to do a library run, but it was -7F, and I was not about to go out in that.

I plowed through about 200 emails, and got out an LOI to a company who immediately sent an automated series of “tests” which they can shove right up their collective ass. I did some blog posts, for myself and a couple of clients.

I made another big batch of black bean soup for lunch, this time adding in corn, and it was delicious.

In the afternoon, I finished off the short story on which I’d been working, which took some interesting twists, polished it, and sent it off.

In the evening, I read a script coverage for which I’d been requested. The author took the notes and did a genuine re-envisioning, in an exciting way. I’ll write that up today.

It’s a little warmer today, so I will suit up and head to the library to drop off/pick up, then write up script coverage.

Today is Chinese Lunar New Year, and it’s the Year of the Water Tiger, which is what I am. It’s supposed to be a year of massive change. I just had two years of that, and I would prefer a year of peace and tranquility.

But I’m making Chinese food tonight, especially long noodles for long life.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me up at 4. I moved to the sofa and went back to sleep, in spite of their fussing. I dreamed of a renaissance of small presses and magazines, run by diverse individuals, who actually pay their writers and staffs a living wage.

That’s the future toward which I want to work.

Have a good one!

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Tues. Jan. 11, 2022: Bitterly Cold

image courtesy of Nicky Pe via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Bitterly cold

It is 1 degree F this morning.

There’s a post over on the GDR site about resolutions being the first step.

The weekend was kind of all over the place. Worked on coverages all the way through. Was honored to be requested by two writers (on two different scripts) to read revisions based on notes I gave them a few weeks ago.

Worked on packing decorations and figuring out where to put everything so we actually have living space for the year. I’m handwashing the holiday fabrics. Some of that is because I don’t want to put the glittery fabric in a commercial machine; also because there’s no way I’m humping it all down to the laundromat in this weather.

The library has cancelled all in-person programs for the month, which is a wise idea. There was a positive test at the co-op, and that staff member and two others who were in close contact are now in quarantine. I hope they are okay.

We’re having the weather we were warned about, so staying home is my only option (especially since the car doesn’t work). Snow and freezing rain all weekend, frigid temperatures today. I have a big stack of books to return to the library, but that will happen later this week. Since the virus numbers keep going up, and the entire country is back in “Die for Your Employer” mode, I’m happy to stay home.

Did some reading for pleasure, because I needed the break. Didn’t work on The Big Project until Monday, which threw off my rhythm for everything else. We’re eating leftovers, which is a good thing to clean out the fridge and not waste food, and because I just don’t have the energy to cook right now. Although I managed a chocolate mousse on Sunday, which was delicious.

Tessa is really angry at me for taking down the big tree that was in the doorway between the sewing room and the living room. She loved to glide under it to go from one room to the other, and also liked to sit under it.

As a joke, I put a small, 15” tree (that was on one of the bookcases) down in the same spot the big tree stood. Tessa glared at me like, “You think I’m stupid?”

Meanwhile, Charlotte walked around it, checking it from all angles, and then looked at me, puzzled, like, “I remember this being bigger last time I was here.”

Willa paid no attention, being her Willa self, and busy with other things.

The dog bed that was once Tessa’s and then became Willa’s is now Willa’s again. It is on top of my mom’s bed (instead of being on top of boxes near the window, where we thought Willa would like it), and she sleeps curled up in it during the day (and curled around my mom at night).

Saturday was sunny, but cold. I ran a few errands on foot, and then dug out the car, so that Friday’s snow wouldn’t freeze down when Sunday’s freezing rain hit. Definitely a good call, because Sunday was miserable. The plows were out all day, scraping down to pavement and then sanding, very conscientious, before Monday’s next snowstorm hit.

Sunday was nasty, freezing rain all day. I was glad to stay in, work on script coverages, and read. And keep working on packing up decorations. I’ve somehow misplaced two boxes – the decorations came OUT of them, so I don’t see how I could misplace them in this finite space.

After 10 years, I had the packing/unpacking down to a system, because of the way it fit into the Christmas Closet in the storage area over the garage. But I have to figure out how it works best here, so it’s a lot of geometry involved, finding out it doesn’t work, and starting over.

It snowed most of Monday. Again, the plows were conscientious about coming around to scrape down to pavement. Once the snow stopped, in the late afternoon, they put down a lot of sand, in preparation for today.

I didn’t get much done yesterday. I couldn’t concentrate. I did work up some notes on The Big Project, finding a way to integrate a new idea into the current outline, and giving it room to create another big arc (if I decide that’s what I want), or maybe even a spin-off.

I plowed through the email that had stacked up. Outlined some specialty blog posts. Spent some time on the acupressure mat. Worked on script coverage. Started on the print books in one of the categories I’m judging. I have to contact my book review editor; for some reason, I can’t find the links to upload the two reviews I just worked on. I also have to get back to the search for someone to fix the car today, so I can set that up for next week or so.

Made a black bean soup from the Moosewood recipe – very good, and easy. That recipe will become a staple recipe in my repertoire.

The Chewy order finally arrived; I felt sorry for the driver. The delay in delivery is not a problem at all – I’d rather the drivers stayed safe. The way Fed Ex lies about the delivery is not okay. Just tell me it’s delayed; don’t keep insisting it’s coming “today” as they did Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Target order – which is five small, but necessary items – is coming in three different boxes. And I’ll have to put in another order with Chewy this week for the cat litter (the one that arrived was for food – we’re good for the next nine weeks). The Goddess Provisions box arrived, filled with good stuff.

I’ve received so many oracle decks in the past few years, between Tamed Wild and Goddess Provisions, that I think, in spring, I’ll give away the ones with which I don’t connect strongly/don’t use. As I’m unpacking stuff and setting up the office/bookcases/ reading nooks, I will put aside the ones I want to give away, and then set it up in spring, when it’s easier to get to the post office.

Once I post here, I’m off to do some work on The Big Project, to try to get back on track with that. I’m way behind where I wanted to be at this point; however, I really like the quality of the writing. Then, I’ll write up the scoring sheets for the entries I read last night, and get back to the script coverage. I have to get a lot read this week if I want to make my nut this pay period (and I’m pretty sure I’ll fall short, but I’m so damn exhausted, and it’s not fair to the writers if I’m not in top form to write up the coverage).

I need to get back on track with THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, too, but that can happen this weekend. And I need to get some LOIs out.

Later this month, I need to get back to working on the new editions of the Topic Workbooks, so they can start re-releasing. I was so thrilled with the new covers, and now I’m having second thoughts that they might be too busy, using photographs instead of line drawings. The original covers are too similar; these new covers are too different, and the tiny logo in the corner doesn’t really tie them together enough. I’ll have to mull that over. Although I’m not going to go for a re-design during a Venus retrograde because that’s simply not wise. But I can think about it and consider options and styles, and how I really want these workbooks to sit in the world. They are my steadiest sellers, so I want them to be both useful and easy on the eye.

Today is bitterly cold. It was supposed to snow all day, but it’s sunny right now. I’m just grateful the power is still on!

Charlotte woke me at 3:33 AM, wanting attention, and the minute Tessa heard her, Tessa started, in full voice. I grabbed the feather bed and moved to the couch, grumpy that I had to leave my cozy fleece sheets, but not wanting Tessa to wake the neighbors at that hour. I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew, it was 7 AM and more snow had fallen. Poor Willa got the short end of the stick this morning – no attention AND late breakfast. I had weird dreams on the couch – busy dreams, not stress dreams, at least. But I still felt like I’d already put in a full day by the time I woke up.

It’s supposed to be a little warmer tomorrow, and cloudy, so the plan (so far) tomorrow late morning is to pack up as many of the library books as I can carry and return them, and pick up the books that have come in. I’ll probably go across the street to the college library in the next few days. I have some digging I need to do in their shelves. Best to do it before classes start up again next week.

I hope the virus numbers go down enough in spring and summer that I can work IN these two libraries a couple of times a week. The spaces are so terrific, I want to utilize them. But not now. Now, I’m isolating as much as possible.

Stay safe and healthy. May you have the energy you need to both get through the day and create.

Wed. July 1, 2020: Die For Your Employer/Die For Tourist Dollars Day 44 — Trying to Find Some Equilibrium (Again)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Foggy and humid

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends!

Please adopt me.

July 1. Normally, there would be a To-Do list over on the GDR site, but that seems kind of silly now, that we’re on the mark to hit 100,000 new virus cases PER DAY in this country.

The New England states that have been doing well are going to get slammed this weekend, because so many tourists are coming in. The Governor says if you’re not from another “safe” state (New England or NY, CT, NJ), you have to quarantine for 14 days, but no one is doing that. People are here for a couple of days, infecting as many as possible because they’re not following masking or distancing protocols, and leaving.

Yesterday, I took the last load of recycling I can take to the dump (along with leaves and other garden waste). No problems dumping the garden waste. But when I pulled into the space at recycling, the Old White Man getting out of the car next to me had his mask down around his neck.

So I slammed the door shut on my car and sat there, glaring.

He laughed at me.

The employee (masked), came to stand there, arms folded, staring at him. He’d parked right in front of the sign saying “Masks are Mandatory,” The guy pulled up his mask and said, “Someone’s a little nervy today.”

“I’M not the asshole,” I replied. “You are.”

“Got that right,” said the employee.

So Old White Man huffed and puffed, but at least it was behind the mask.

I’m not putting up with this shit. Wear the fucking mask, and wear it covering your nose and mouth when you are off your property and around other people. It’s not that hard.

Then, hit a grocery store I haven’t visited in months. Everyone masked, plenty of room, social distancing – but not following the arrows. It’s really not that difficult, people.

I got a few things and came home. Full disinfectant protocols. Exhausted.

Still trying to come to terms with the health stuff. It will take awhile.

Got out some LOIs (thank you, Media Bistro). Did some client work, although not as much as I would like.

Spent a couple of hours on my Miracle of Human Language class. It’s delightful. The professor, Marc van Oostendorp, has such joy in his teaching, and is so smart and so engaging. I love it.

That brightened my spirits.

Got another book review assignment. Looking forward to it.

Also got out a double pitch to an editor for whom I’ve worked before. Hope he likes at least one of them!

Got a little bit of writing done this morning. Not enough, but at least it’s something.

Off to work onsite with a client for a few hours, and try to hash out a new marketing approach. Then it’s Remote Chat, some time with classwork, and fixing BARD’S LAMENT.

And classwork. And boxes. It never ends.

Feeling a little discouraged, in spite of it being a new month.

Published in: on July 1, 2020 at 4:44 am  Comments Off on Wed. July 1, 2020: Die For Your Employer/Die For Tourist Dollars Day 44 — Trying to Find Some Equilibrium (Again)  
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