Tues. Dec. 6, 2022: A Richly Busy Weekend

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Day Before Full Moon

Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Rainy and cold

Curl up and get comfy, and we’ll have a catch-up.

There’s a post over on the GDR site about looking back at November and forward to December.

Friday was a lot of fun. Mailed bills on the way out of town, and headed down to Great Barrington. I found a shorter route, which was good. But, because we’d left later than I expected, we stopped at another store on the way down that was open, but wouldn’t have been had we left on time, and picked up something we needed (but didn’t find the bayberry candles we went down to get).

On the way down, we made an impulse stop at the library in Pittsfield, which was having a lobby book sale and found some cool books. Some of them holiday craft books, because I am a sucker for even tacky holiday craft books (especially at 50 cents a pop). And these have some cool ideas in them.

We went only to one store in GB, one of our favorite thrift stores. I found a train station for my Christmas village and the crossing sign lights up! (Which is more than the crossing sign IRL down the street does). Found a couple of small plates in a favorite pattern, a really cool mermaid candle holder, and a silver chain and bracelet with the large links I need for the charms I have for each. I also found a silver-plated frame for my favorite picture of my dad (who died when I was 10).

On the way back, we stopped in Stockbridge, in search of bayberry candles, but no luck. Then it was to a store in Pittsfield to pick up the last gift for extended family in Maine, and a few goodies for us. With a stop at Adams Fresh Market for fish for Friday night supper.

Pizza for lunch. I’m going to have to start making pizza from scratch again. Store-bought pizza tastes worse every time we buy it.

In the afternoon, I turned around two script coverages, and did some admin work. I was tired by the end of it. Really, really tired.

Tried reading for pleasure, a mystery that came recommended. But the writer uses “witch” as a slur against women and the world’s internal logic doesn’t makes sense, placing the characters in the “too stupid to live” category. So that one goes back, and that author is crossed off my list.

In Ellen Byron’s latest newsletter, she posted a photo of gigantic earrings she bought several decades ago in a shop on Columbus Ave. in NYC. I started laughing, because I remember the shop AND the earrings. They were too big to wear, so she turned them into Christmas ornaments. I love that so much. And that’s just so Ellen.

Her next Catering Hall Mystery (under the Maria DiRico name) comes out in March, and I’m excited.

Saturday morning, I had trouble getting going. But I did. And I wrote the first draft of “Net Worth” (which goes up today on Ko-Fi). The bones worked, and I knew I would do some edits. It came in a little over 1K, but hey, I don’t have to fit someone else’s word count. It won’t go too far one way or the other once it’s edited.

I started “Comfort, Then Joy” which was originally aimed to Ko-fi, but which I now feel is better suited to the quarterly newsletter. The story’s in my head; it’s just a case of getting it down on paper.

After a couple of hours at the desk, we hauled out the big Christmas tree from the broom closet and brought it into the living room. I started fighting with the stand, which has never worked well (and I bought this damn tree in 1989, or maybe it was 1990).

I finally decided I had HAD IT. I put the stuff down, wrapped up, got into the car, and drove into the escalating storm to get a new artificial tree stand. I got the last small one in the store, and while I was there, picked up a couple of oversized decorative poinsettias that clip to branches. I had hoped to find a finial topper, but no luck. I’ll keep looking in thrift stores after the holidays. All the other traditional toppers were too gaudy for our tree.

Home. Unwrapped. The new stand snapped together in less than 5 minutes, the tree slipped in and locked, and we could spend quality time fluffing the tree, instead of fighting for an hour or more with the stand. We put the lights on the tree (which actually had stayed coiled properly this year). And moved the tree into position in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. We use the glass doors to frame it.

Even though this stand is far sturdier than the other one, I tied off the tree to the door hinges, just for added security.

We unpacked all the ornaments from the big bin in the closet in the sewing room and put them on. The shimmery gold ornaments and some small wooden ornaments go on last, after everything else goes on, and we put those aside.

That took most of the afternoon, but we had a lot of fun with it. Each ornament has a story, and we tell and retell our history with it.

The kitty litter delivery from Chewy also arrived, so I got to haul 45 pounds of cat litter up the stairs.

Sprawled on the couch reading in the evening, with candles on and cats on laps.

Willa is so gentle when she checks out the tree. It’s kind of adorable. Tessa circled it a few times, and pointed out where some branches needed adjustment, and then was satisfied. Charlotte watched from a safe distance.

They really are all very good with the tree. But then, we don’t shut them out when we decorate. They’re always a part of the process of unpacking ornaments, putting things up, or packing them. ALL my cats have been good with the trees. I mean, Elsa (tortie) used to climb the bare tree, but she was fine once the ornaments were up. And Iris (Russian blue) used to choose a patch of tree she wanted bare and remove the ornaments. But none of them were ever destructive.

The storm intensified, and we had power outages on and off all night. Tessa did not like it, and roamed the house, complaining, each time it went off or on. I discovered that, while I could report the outage to the electric company, the gas company has no system for outages. WTF? Charlotte and Willa just burrowed deeper in blankets.

By the time I got up on Sunday morning, everything was fine again.

I mean, we live in a city, not a rural area (despite what Staples claims, when they slap “rural carrier fees” onto orders). It makes sense they’d get the power back on pretty quickly.

Sunday was cold and sunny. My neighbor knocked to let me know packages arrived last night. He’d knocked on the door, but, for whatever reason, I hadn’t heard, and he’d taken them in and then brought them over this morning. One was the Goddess Provisions box (which I didn’t expect until Monday) and the other was a gift from a friend in NY.

After breakfast, I revised “Net Worth” mostly for internal logic, and starting to layer in some sensory details. There’s plenty I intentionally don’t explain and leave for the readers’ imaginations.

I did some more work on “Comfort, Then Joy” which is surprising me for all the right reasons. I’m a little past halfway with it. I figure it’ll come in between 3-5K, a little longer than I wanted for a newsletter story, but it’s a fairly short newsletter.

In the late morning, we went over to the Alpaca Farm to pick up a gift for the cousin in Maine, and then to pick up a few things at Wild Oats. They had bayberry candles! And wonderful ones, from Mole HIll in Sturbridge.

The afternoon was all about wrapping presents, packing the packages, writing the cards to go in the packages, taping everything up, mailing labels, etc. I was tired, grumpy, and feeling every bit of my age by the end of it. Charlotte helped, which was pretty funny.

I like the wrapping and choosing things I think my friends would enjoy. But the whole post office prep can be a bit much. But I had the labels and the tape and the Sharpies and all the rest, so it was fine.

Too tired to do much more in the evening except have a glass of wine with some cheese, crackers, and fig/orange spread, enjoying the 2nd of Advent candles and the partially finished tree.

Dipped into a bit of Script Chat, but felt old and grumpy and in pain, so I wasn’t at my best.

To date, I have been invited to 17 different holiday gatherings, none with appropriate COVID protocols, and therefore have said no to all the invitations. Not worth the risk. I’m grateful they invite me, but I’m not getting sick because someone can’t be bothered to wear a mask. So I don’t put myself in high risk situations.

Fell into a very deep sleep. Charlotte woke me around 1:30. When I went back to sleep, I dreamed that I met Dewi Hargreaves, with whom I’m friendly on various social media, in person. We were meeting a couple of others we “knew” from social media in a parking lot somewhere, but they were wittering on about stuff we found vicious and tedious, so we ditched them to go to a book-lined bar and talk about books, which sounds like a nice evening to me. In this Dreamscape, we didn’t have to worry about COVID.

Tessa woke me up around 4, and I told her I was NOT getting up that early, and fell back to sleep. I dreamed that I was at an estate sale, bought 5 vintage suitcases, some books, and lots of women’s gloves. I have lots of suitcases (but love luggage) and I do pick up vintage gloves a lot (at least I did, pre-plague), so that made sense. But there was this other guy there, who kept trying to take stuff I’d already paid for and add it to his pile.

According to dream “experts”, dreams about suitcases mean an upcoming trip, or the need to access personal information about yourself. Dreaming about gloves shows a need for protection. It’s pretty obvious what someone taking something symbolizes. However, in this case, I think it was all more literal than metaphorical. But I’ll use the Rackham Tarot given to me by my friend to dig deeper. That deck works well for dream work.

I woke up late, and felt behind the beat and tired all day.

I got the Monday blogging done, made the SM rounds, sat down and made the grocery list. I took the packages to the post office. Managed to park right in front, walk right up to the desk, and was done in just a few minutes – AND within budget. Everything will be where it needs to be by the end of the week. It was sunny, so everyone was in a good mood (and most masked, indoors).

Went to Big Y to do the Big Shop. I think I’m all set for baking – will probably need to get more eggs, as some point. But I’ve been stockpiling staples for a few weeks, and I think I’m in pretty good shape.

Got a batch of veggie stock made in the crockpot. Did another draft of “Net Worth” so it was where I needed it to be in order to put it up this afternoon on Ko-fi. Polished the next two posts for The Process Muse, chose the graphics, uploaded and scheduled.

Turned around two coverages.

Jeremy’s soup class was great. He taught us to make Italian Wedding Soup, and I learned a bunch of new techniques. Charlotte was delighted, although I had to stop and grate some Parmesan for her, because he used Parmesan and talked Parmesan, and every time he said the word, she got all excited.

Tired. Had weird dreams overnight.

Last night was St. Nicholas Night, a traditional celebration, where one leaves out a shoe, and wakes up to find it filled with chocolate or candy or whatever. Chocolate and cocoa for us, this morning. And we generally put the goodies in either a gift bag or one of the Christmas stockings and put the bag in the shoe, because, you know, hygiene.

Waking up to chocolate is always good.

The coffee filter split this morning, so there are coffee grounds in the coffee. Better than no coffee, and I HAVE to get the new coffeemaker up and running.

Roxane Gay shared an article written by Isabel Kaplan about her boyfriend, a fellow writer, breaking up with her once she had some success. He didn’t like that she kept a journal. He felt it was his “responsibility to take her down a peg” and so on and so forth. It reminded me so much of a toxic, emotionally abusive relationship I was in back in the mid-90’s. I’m so glad I’m not still with that guy. I would be dead, emotionally (and most likely physically; he had a history of dead wives). She talks about parsing out her good news, about contorting herself emotionally until she’s a pretzel and then blaming herself for the hurt. It hit very close to the bone. Too many men in my life have defined “partnership” as me putting my writing last while doing physical, emotional, and sexual labor to promote their careers. No. Just no. The right partner will not sabotage the writing. The bell weather for me, in a relationship is – if my writing improves, sparkles, strengthens with this person, it’s a good relationship. If the writing falters or stalls, it means get the hell out.

And, as someone who has kept a journal for 50 years (there are boxes of them in storage), anyone who tried to keep me from my journal, or, worse yet, violated my trust by READING it, was gone in a heartbeat. My blogs are public. What’s in those handwritten books is private.

The big priority this morning is getting at least some of the next episodes of LEGERDEMAIN uploaded and posted. ‘Net Worth” goes up on Ko-fi this afternoon. We’ll see where we are, timewise, after that. I need to work on “Comfort, Then Joy” and also work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH and more LEGERDEMAIN, but that might not happen.

The baking begins today. I’ll do two batches of one kind of cookie right after lunch, then start my script coverages for the day. That should let me get all my baking done by the end of the weekend, so I can start delivering cookie platters early next week.

No doubt, I will post photos as I bake.

Have a good one, my friends. Peace and joy to you.

The next epsiode of Legerdemain goes live today. Enjoy!

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.

Thurs. Oct. 6, 2022: Adopt-A-Versaries and Free Vella Reads

Willa (photo by Devon Ellington)

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Foggy and mild

It’s still gray and foggy. Yesterday, it rained on and off all day. I guess we’re having a damp autumn. Latest on the garden is at Gratitude and Growth.

There’s also a post over on Ink-Dipped Advice about the Work Wins Journal experiment, and what did and did not serve my work.

Today is the 4th Anniversary of Willa’s adopt-a-versary. She’s come a long way from the scared little cat who arrived four years ago. Saturday will be Charlotte’s 4-year anniversary. Charlotte’s been an even bigger challenge. They were with two different people, which is why they arrived on different days. I’m glad we have them both. Tessa isn’t so sure on some days.

Charlotte, photo by Devon Ellington

I mostly got admin and some marketing done yesterday morning. Then, I went to Big Y and did the Big Grocery Shop that sets us up for most of the month, and we just have to fill in here and there with fresh things. I was relieved to see so many people masked. But I had six large bags when I was finished (the reusable big bags I take with me).

Got everything home, up the stairs, put away. Did a few more things before  my meeting with a  client. It should have taken an hour and took three, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Dug in after the client left and turned around three scripts. Which meant I was working until nearly 9 PM, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Had trouble settling into sleep. Charlotte was impossible. I ended up kicking her out of the room so I could sleep. I woke up around 2:30 and let her back in, and then we settled down to sleep and I overslept until 7:30. The bed looks like a battlefield this morning.

I had weird dreams about being in a writers’ residency with a famous author, where we shared living space that had a studio for each  of us in it, but we cooked together and had a common room together.

Today needs to be about writing and cooking (and, in the afternoon, three more scripts to turn around). I doubt I’ll make it to open studios tonight at MassMOCA. I won’t be able to turn around three scripts early enough without cutting into my writing time, and I’m never in any shape to concentrate on coverage after open studios, because I’m too excited about the work.

I was thinking about the request to move the artist working group meetings to evenings because of “day jobs.” If that becomes the norm, then this is not the right group for me. Art IS my day job, and I consider these meetings part of my job. I’m not interested in being part of a group where the day job is the priority, not the art. The reason I’ve been able to earn a living in the arts since I was 18 was that the only purpose any non-arts “day job” had was to SERVE the art, not the art pushed aside for the day job. And any time a day job conflicted with the art, it was the day job that was dropped. I’ve participated in groups of part time artists before. All they do is whine about the world not accommodating them, rather than making their art a priority. That is not what I want and need now.

If you don’t make your art a priority, you will never be given the opportunity by others for it to be a priority.

So we’ll see how this unfolds. It may well not be the right group for me at this point in my journey. It may well be the right group for the other members where they are, and if that is the case, so be it.

Meditation as good this morning. Now, it’s back to the page, and also the stove. There’s a lot of cooking that has to happen today, along with the writing.

Have a good one, friends.

Episode 22 of Legerdemain drops today. On top of that, from Oct. 5-11, eligible accounts can read up to 100 episodes per day for free. That means you can read ALL of the released episodes of Legerdemain (and give them thumbs up if you like them) FOR FREE this week. “Eligible” means you have an active Amazon account, and have spent $50 on Amazon at some point. The link to the serial is here.

Thurs. Sept. 8, 2022: Prioritizing Projects

image courtesy of Conger Design via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Mercury goes retrograde TOMORROW

Cloudy and cooler

I kept thinking yesterday was Thursday, but it was only Wednesday, and I was all mixed up. I am so NOT looking forward to Mercury retrograde piled on top of all these other retrogrades. My preference is to stay in bed for the next three weeks, but the Universe would laugh and have the bedroom ceiling collapse on me, so I better just deal with what needs to be dealt with, and stay away from traps.

There’s a post on the garden over on Gratitude and Growth.

There’s a post about creating and using content calendars over on Ink-Dipped Advice.

Those oughta keep you busy for a bit, right?

I did a big grocery shop yesterday. You can tell the tourists are clearing out, because the majority of people in the grocery stores are masked again. I’m trying to get us scheduled for our Shot #5, but I’m hearing nightmare stories about CVS cancelling appointments when insurance doesn’t cover it, and refusing to accept payment out of pocket. It looks like we can get them at the Stop & Shop Pharmacy otherwise, so at least we have a backup, but the timing is the problem. We’ll see what we can come up with. And I want to make sure it’s the correct formula.

I sent some info out to a friend for her business, and I answered an email from a friend of a friend who is relocating to the area. At least I got that all caught up.  I spent more time than I should experimenting with text-to-art AI technology. I don’t think I’ll be able to use anything (or very little) of the experiments, but I learned a lot, so I don’t feel that it was wasted time.

I turned around two scripts.

Roast chicken for dinner, which meant the house smelled wonderful, and then I made chicken stock. So we are well-stocked (pun intended) on both vegetable stock and chicken stock. Bring on soup season!

An acquaintance on Twitter posted a thread of open submission class with paying markets for short stories. I made notes on some of them, and will look into them in more detail over the next few days. I got one idea for one of them and made some notes; hopefully I can do a rough draft today. I may have a couple of stories ready to go on some of the calls. We’ll see. The work on those has to fit around the work that has to get done, and that is stacking up something fierce.

I need to get back to the radio plays, and I’m just not in that headspace right now. So I better figure out how to get into it. I have to spit out four radio plays pretty darn quickly. And I have to get back on track with the next arc of LEGERDEMAIN, while promoting what’s dropping. I also have a short play that’s been squawking at me, a comedy, and I need to get that drafted, plus go back and revise the two one-acts I wrote a few weeks ago, where my friend Paula gave such great feedback. They need to be prepped and ready to go out the door for appropriate submission calls.

Speaking of which, Episode 14 of LEGERDEMAIN drops today.

Meditation group starts meeting again online this morning, and I’m looking forward to it. I also have to nip down to the post office later to mail some bills that I forgot to mail on Tuesday. Oops.

I better get going then, hadn’t I? Have a good one.

Thurs. May 12, 2022: Making the Most of Tech Issues

image courtesy of Gretta Blankenship via pixabay.com

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and warm

Just like that, we leapt into summer. It’s gorgeous, and as long as the humidity stays low, I’m fine about it.

Details of how we’re setting up our garden spaces are over on Gratitude and Growth.

The computer announced it was doing the Windows11 Upgrade at 7:30 in the morning. It took 14 hours. Not a happy camper.

Fortunately, nothing was on deadline or in the script queue, or I would have been screwed.

I mean, Mercury Retrograde and all that, but fourteen hours?

I let it run, and went about my non-computerized day. Yeah, I know, it says you can use the computer while it’s upgrading up until the point where it needs to restart, but that simply wasn’t the case. I managed to get the blog up, and check email, and that was a struggle. So I closed down the tabs and let it run uninterrupted. And it still took 14 hours.

I went to the library to drop off and pick up books, and to get my Commonwealth catalogue sign-in issues resolved. Because I need my access to the Commonwealth Catalog!

Went to pick up my mother’s prescriptions, and to go a quick grocery shop.

Home, and we did some repotting (even though it wasn’t a planting day, according to my calendar, but the new plants can’t wait until Saturday). We ran out of potting soil, so that’s on the list for today’s errands.

I’d made a sesame-poppyseed dressing for which my friend Artie gave me the recipe when he’d visited the Cape house several years back. I made it before we started the repotting, so it blended by the time lunch rolled around. I tried to re-create the spinach and strawberry salad he’d made us. It wasn’t as good as when he made it, but it was still good. And the recipe makes plenty of dressing (which is really good), so I put it in a glass jar, labelled it, and we can enjoy it with other salads.

We started setting up the back balcony, which is also detailed in the G&G post. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re getting there, and it’s a lovely space. The rug is a little short; if we can find another one to match it, that will unite the space better. We also put down the rug and rearranged the enclosed front porch (also detailed in the G&G post).

And collapsed onto the chairs on the porch with a cocktail when we were done!

But both spaces feel really good now. We can enjoy using them until it gets too cold in the autumn.

Since I couldn’t do any computer work, might as well get this done, right?

Made a mushroom-spinach crabmeat concoction for dinner, wrapped in phyllo, and remembered how much I loathe working with phyllo. It was decent, but the mushrooms overpowered it, and the crabmeat wasn’t a high enough quality to hold its own. Also made a batch of lime cilantro mayonnaise, and a big batch of curried chicken salad. Used up all the cilantro I bought, which had already started to fade, although I bought it this morning.

The Radio Theatre Project wants to do “Pier-less Crime” later this month. I’m delighted. I love working with them. They’d hoped to do it when everything shut down, so there was a delay, but they’ve performed the entire Frieda/Laz trilogy.

Once I figure out how to make the dirigible play work, they’ll get first crack at it.

I have two scripts in my queue, one for today, and one for tomorrow. I’m way under my pay goal with that client this pay period, but I earned more than expected from the client for whom I finished the five-month project (the contest), so it balances out.

Meditation this morning, and then I want to get some writing done. Later this morning, we are going to run some errands, and then it’s script coverage in the afternoon. I have to learn how to navigate Windows11. It looks different, but as long as I can do what I need to do, I’ll adapt. It wasn’t working well at all this morning, so I wiggled some keys, not really knowing what I was doing, but it works now.

I have a ton of email to slog through, some paperwork to do, and catch up on Ello. But somehow, it will all get done. I’m trying to retrain the stress sense memory from last year not to be so reactive to every little thing this year.

Spending the early morning first writing session of the day in the lovely garden spaces helps. Tessa isn’t sure about the rug on the porch. It feels strange under her paws. But Charlotte was really sweet with her (for once) showing her all the new stuff this morning. And the two scout crows peered in and made a few comments. Willa was still in bed. She “helped” yesterday and is Very Tired today.

Have a good one!

Published in: on May 12, 2022 at 7:17 am  Comments Off on Thurs. May 12, 2022: Making the Most of Tech Issues  
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Thurs. April 14, 2022: Figuring Out The Healing

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Thursday, April 14, 2022

Waxing Moon

Partly Sunny and warm

There’s a post detailing the latest plantings over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday was not as productive as I’d hoped (familiar refrain), mostly because I’m still not feeling well. I was feeling well enough to try to function, but bad enough so that everything and every ONE was an irritant.

I got through some email and did some prep for this morning’s meeting. I did some plotting for a couple more radio plays.

I went to the library, to drop off/pick up a stack of books in each direction. Something I read in one of my other books had a reference to playwright Ben Jonson, and that led me back to Elizabethan Theatre and an idea with which I’ve been playing for years. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it work. I think by making it an alt-universe, and giving certain creative people the ability to understand multiple alt-universes, I can fix those challenges. Anyway, the research books are coming in. Time to open a fresh notebook and take good notes. In all my spare time. Yeah.

Grocery shopping, where I spent more than intended, but we are now set for a while, except for things like eggs, milk, bread.  And, even though we don’t celebrate Easter, I got my mom the Easter ham she wanted, and I’ll make a baked ham for Sunday.

Of course, one of the reasons I spent more than intended is because prices keep going up.

Mailed some bills, and some mail which had been misdelivered. There’s another street whose spelling has one more letter than my street, and I often get mail for the person at the same number on that street. I mark it as misdelivered and how, and put it back in the box.

Stopped at the liquor store, and found some new-to-me wines to try. Time to lighten up the wines for the season. Switch to lighter reds, and, eventually, over to rosé in the summer, because a good rosé goes with everything.

Home, exhausted. I stacked a few too many errands in that trip. Normally, it would make sense, but I’m still feeling poorly.

At the grocery store, I was in constant inner dialogue, since I was so grumpy. This is where meditation techniques come in handy. It was the constant question: Does this have anything to do with you? The answer was, of course, no. So drop it and move on. Because NONE of the people filling their carts and going about their lives were the cause of my irritation. They wouldn’t even have added to it on a normal day. Nothing they were doing was about me. And none of them deserved to have me take my irritability out on them. So I didn’t. Because they don’t deserve to have their day dampened by my irritation.

So what IS the source of my irritability? A lot of it is still feeling bad after the 4th shot. I’m still achy, headachy, fatigued, and I’m tired of being tired. But more of it, I think is rooted in residual burnout, that I don’t have the time and resources to take a full break to recover. I have to focus on earning money for this major car repair. I have to get the car repaired. I have to keep up the housework, the cooking, the bills, the deadlines. Taking a weekend won’t fix it. I need a serious break. And I don’t have the option to take one.

What I am doing is rearranging my workday to fit energy levels, and matching each task to the energy best suited for it. I also want to get more enjoyment out of each day, including maximum enjoyment in the work. That means adjusting the kind of work I take on. I updated some profile information on a few referral sites, because there are certain types of work that, even six months ago, I was open to accepting, that I no longer want. There’s another arts referral/networking site where I need to create one (or more) profiles to draw the kind of work I want to draw. I have to think about how to create those profiles to best hit. Creating the Pages on Stages website was the right choice; I’m already seeing positive results from it.

It’s a process, and will take time, but it will pay off, I think. Drawing in more of the work I truly enjoy will take off a lot of pressure. Expanding the client base will take off a lot of the pressure. Raising rates for certain projects will take off a lot of the pressure.

That will give me the healing time I haven’t had post-surgeries, post-move.

What if, instead of feeling like I have to get out and network and enter into community life here, I just  . . .don’t? At least for this year? What if I only do what I want to do, and don’t feel like I “have” to be out and about? Like I “have” to network and put myself out there? The pandemic made us feel isolated and disconnected, and we all fought so hard to stay connected. What if I take more time to be solitary, virtually, as well as physically? There are still friends I haven’t seen in years with whom I hope to reconnect in person, and friends I like to see semi-regularly, which I still want to see. But rather than the whole “be out there building the network” thing, maybe I will take a different approach and a different route, at least this year.

Maybe, for me, part of the healing has to do with solitude, rather than isolation.

Not push people away, if they come into my life organically. But not dash around forcibly trying to add people into my life right now, either.

I’m still exploring that theory. I don’t have definite answers yet. I need to trust my intuition, and put it above the clamor of the “experts.” Because they don’t live in my skin. They haven’t lived what I have the past few years. They don’t have the knowledge to make proclamations on my life.

I can adjust my work, I can adjust my creative life, I can spend time enjoying what I enjoy, and limit external pressures.

I’ve never lived my life the way other people told me I “had” to. In spite of a decade on Cape where too many people tried to emotionally batter me into conformity, it didn’t work. And I’m not in that situation anymore, so why not enjoy what’s so different about things here? Because it is very different, and people tend to give each other more breathing room.

It’s a process, right? Try things, some work, some don’t. But what I’m being told are definitives aren’t necessarily relative to me personally, or to this new region.

So why not create my own definitives?

Although the thought of creating yet anything else is exhausting, but the act of creation tends to be restorative.

It was up in the high 70’s yesterday, and we opened all the windows and left the plants on the porch overnight. It was so nice to sleep with the windows open! This morning was the first day of the season I could do my early morning writing and have that first cup of coffee out on the porch, with Tessa keeping me company. It’s supposed to be warm again tonight, but then gets cold on Saturday, back down into the 30’s.

Meditation this morning. Then, some time at the page, before a video conference with a potential client. Then, some more errands and script coverage. I need to finish reading a book for review, so I can write the review tomorrow.

I think I’m going to take Monday as a holiday. I mean, I’m in a state where it’s a holiday, why not enjoy it?

Have a good whatever-you-celebrate, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Published in: on April 14, 2022 at 8:05 am  Comments Off on Thurs. April 14, 2022: Figuring Out The Healing  
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Tues. Feb. 15, 2022: Murky Obstacles

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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

First Day of Full Moon

Cold and clear

Tiring weekend.

Friday, it was mild and bright. I got some work done early, and then packed up the rolly cart and headed to the grocery store. There were lots of empty shelves, again, mostly national brands. Also, because both the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day fell this weekend, a lot of people were looking at it as a long holiday weekend and stocked up.

The sidewalks were messy, but mostly slush, not ice. However, with the snow banked on either side of them, and the middle melting, there as no place for the water to drain, so a lot of it was walking through ankle-high slush. When the next storm comes in, it will freeze over and be ice rinks again. Because the Cape was so sandy, the ground absorbed the water until it couldn’t (by about March), and then it got all squishy. Here, there’s no place for the water to drain, and the ground isn’t sandy, it’s loamy and hits capacity quickly, so the ice layers.

It was not easy to hump the cart full of groceries back, although it would have been impossible without the cart.

Got everything put away, rested up a bit, and then headed back out to the liquor store to re-stock. It was busy, because people were prepping for football and Valentine hopes.

Decided to give myself the afternoon off. It went up into the 50s. You can always tell we’re in New England, because the minute the temperature goes above 35, the guys go back to shorts and hiking boots. The front porch was sunny and pleasant. I cut back dead growth on some of the plants. I’ll detail that more in Gratitude and Growth on Thursday.

Charlotte was delighted to be back out on the porch.

Read for a bit. Over the weekend, I re-read the two books released so far in Kit Rocha’s The Mercenary Librarians series. Looking forward to the third. I rarely read dystopia (I mean, we’re living in it), so it’s unusual that I would like this series. But I do.

Some family conflicts exhausted the hell out of me Friday night, not to mention depressed me.

Saturday morning, it was raining, so I decided not to go to the library. Instead, I got the script coverages done. And then was requested for another coverage, so I didn’t have to worry about taking on a script whose logline didn’t particularly excite me, just to make my nut for the pay period. And I finished reading the book for review.

Went to bed very early Saturday, and slept 11 hours. Even the cats couldn’t get me up.

Sunday was a good writing day – 3K on one project, a little over 1600 words on The Big Project. I planted the first seeds. I baked a chocolate cake with chocolate chips and raspberry liqueur. Made pork chops for dinner in a mushroom-thyme gravy, with red cabbage and leftover mashed potatoes. Planted seeds.

I used to give a Super Bowl party most years; it was the only game of the year I watched, because football just isn’t my thing. But I stopped doing that when we moved to the Cape. Most of the time now, I don’t even watch the game, just try to catch the half-time show and some of the commercials. Or focus on the Puppy Bowl. This year, it was more fun just to watch different reactions to whatever on Twitter. I saw clips of the half-time show, and it looks like it went well. Still, for me, nothing has yet beaten the grace, style, and professionalism of Prince’s half-time show.

All the photos I saw from the game show 70K people in close quarters unmasked. So we’ll have mini-surges of the virus all over the country in the next two weeks. Why would I applaud such reckless, thoughtless behavior? Not doing it. Even if being vaccinated was a requirement for entry, we are not at a point where being that packed in together is rational.

I usually love the Winter Olympics, but didn’t watch them this year, either. I think they should have been canceled, due to the pandemic.

I’m not going to rant about either of those things on social media. Why bother? But I’m going to place my time where I feel it earns it, and neither of those two events did this go-round.

The cats woke me around 5, a reasonable hour, so I got up and started the day. Was at my desk by 7, which helped. It was snowing. Hopefully, this is the last storm of the winter. The cats are shedding like crazy and running around for no reason at all hours, so spring is coming.

Wrote another section on The Big Project. It will need some tweaking, but you can’t tweak what’s not on the page.

Tried to head for the library, but it was snowing and intensified, so after a couple of blocks, I turned back.

Slogged through a bunch of email. Got out an LOI to something that sounded kind of interesting, but we’ll see. Another job description landed in my inbox calling for an experience science writer and scriptwriter willing to both write and do research – at $8 an hour. Nope. So insulting on so many levels.

Downloaded the first set of digital contest entries, cross-checked the list. Caught up on entering scores for what I’ve been reading. Caught up with the Monthology posts, so I don’t fall behind. How other people are crafting their monsters, and the mapmaking that’s going in will affect how I develop my piece. Plus, it’s a wonderful community.

Started reading the script for which I was requested. I will finish it and turn in the coverage tomorrow.

The problem with a big client is not going to go away, unfortunately, so I have to look at alternatives. A possible other big client is on the horizon, but if the pay is too low, that’s not going to be possible, especially for the amount of work involved. I don’t want to take on something that will break me, physically or psychologically. At the same time, I need to expand the clients with which I’m working, and ease away from this big client, because the longer I work for them, the more red flags are popping up. They were a life saver around the move, in a very real sense, but in the long run, they are just not working out. I am very displeased by an email from them that landed in my box this morning.

Wrote up the book for review; got two more assigned. One I will download; the other is in print, and being sent.

Tried reading an eBook I’d bought a few weeks back, that looked interesting, but I’m frustrated with it. I’m getting a little tired of all these authors jumping on the magic bandwagon for the cash, not doing any research on how magic works, not being creative enough to design their own system, and just echoing right wing crap, pretending that their protagonist is, actually, magical.

Switched back to contest entries instead.

Spent longer than I planned cleaning up my Twitter account, on the “Following” side of the equation. Dumped about 400 accounts that I’ve followed at one point or another. A lot of them started as mutual follows, especially among other writers, who then unfollowed when I wasn’t an ATM for their books, or because my posts go beyond writing. Some were politically-oriented mutual followers, who don’t feel I’m political enough, and unfollowed. People get to follow or not follow whomever they please, for whatever reasons they please, so I cleaned up that side of the equation to suit what I want/need right now, and will work on the other side of the equation later on.

I’m feeling rather discouraged about everything right nw. But it’s sunny, and I have to head for the library today. I have 8 books to return and 13 to retrieve. All on foot. Sigh.

I’d rather just go back to bed.

Weird dreams last night, about being in an apartment on Central Park West in NYC, and a small, yappy, brown and white puppy escaped from its apartment and I was trying to catch it.

Fri. Jan. 14, 2022: Incoming Storms

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Friday, January 14, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus, Venus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

We have two big storms barreling toward us. One will start later today, bringing the temperatures down to -35F by tomorrow. We get walloped again Sunday night into all day on Monday.

Meditation was great yesterday. Then, after breakfast, I layered up, got the rolly cart and some bags, and headed to Big Y. I bought more than I planned (yeah, I’m sure you’re SO surprised). Shelves were empty of big-name brands, and they were out of ground turkey, but local brands and produce were in plentiful supply.

Hauling it back through the snowy, icy streets was not fun, and I was wiped out by the time I got it home and up the stairs and put away. A hot shower partially revived me, as did some time on the acupressure mat. But then, the 66 pounds of cat litter showed up, and I had to unpack the boxes in the bottom foyer and haul them all upstairs.

I’m not in my twenties or thirties anymore, and it’s getting harder.

But, cat food, litter, and treat-wise, we have about 11 weeks’ worth of supplies. Human-food wise, we could make it for about 6 weeks, although running out of milk, oat milk, eggs, and butter. I’m still going to go to the store when I can for perishables, but we are okay.

Today, I restock some liquor.

SCOTUS betrayed us all again by not upholding the national vaccine mandate for big businesses. No surprise there. Sinema proved her loyalty to her handlers rather than her constituents, and voting rights is dead, so it doesn’t matter how hard we organize. Sinema and Manchin need to be destroyed. Completely and utterly destroyed. They were sent in as a Trojan horse, pretending to be Democrats, but working on a GOP agenda, funded by GOP money. While the more openly, obviously crazies are out there pulling focus, they destroy things from the inside.

And therefore must be destroyed. Take them off all committee assignments, no more financing, primary them. GET RID OF THEM. Anyone who hires them? Boycott, picket, destroy the company. They must be completely nullified.

Remove Manchin’s wife from her cushy appointed gig. Charge the daughter with negligent homicide for raising the prices on EpiPens. Stop faffing around and remove these cancers.

WHILE taking down the insurrectionists.

On top of that, the amount of people who should know better tweeting photos about their reckless behavior going to in-person conferences, indoor dining, parties, gatherings, etc., completely disgusts me. I’ve lost respect for a lot of people in the past couple of weeks.

On the positive side, I got a lovely note from someone for whom I’d done a script coverage, on how much it helped focus and polish the script. I’m so glad. This particular writer is extremely talented, and I hope will get representation/optioned quickly. Those stories need to be filmed.

With Mercury retrograde for the next three weeks, virus numbers off the charts, bad weather, and all the rest, I’m thinking about approaching the time a little differently than usual. Not sure how I can pull it off yet, but I’m going to try. I’m worried that if I talk about it too much/too early, I won’t be able to implement it, so my apologies for being vague. I hate it when people are Online Vague. But we’ll see. I’m going to try something for the next few days, a little different, and see if I can keep it going for the length of the retrogrades. Talking about it may interfere with the doing, so I’m going to try the doing, and talk about it after.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are doing well. Some of them will not go back to regular schooling, because they’re learning much more in this environment. A couple of them are now talking about taking what the Brits call a “gap year” between high school and college to travel (should the virus ever settle down enough to allow it), and almost all of them want to do at least one semester abroad (something I deeply regret not doing).

I would like to start learning Italian, because I want to travel to Italy next year or so (provided it’s safe so to do), and because, in my research, I’d like to be able to read some of the material in its original language, not in translation. I’ve looked into courses, but, honestly, I don’t have the intellectual or emotional energy to commit and really learn right now. I’m hoping by midyear, I’ll be in a better position to start.

Read two scripts last night, which I will write up today. I’d like to get one more coverage in before the pay period ends tomorrow, but there hasn’t been anything worth grabbing (on a pay scale). Have to write up the book reviews, and enter the scores on the contest entries I read.

But first, time to finish/polish the short story. That is my absolute priority.

Over the weekend, I have unpacking/rearranging to do, I want to work on the Big Project and on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and also rest. My soul is tired, and I need to rest.

With storms raging outside, let’s hope the power stays on so I can do just that.

Have a good one, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Thurs. Jan. 13, 2022: Hoping for Quiet

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Thursday, January 13, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow, and I just don’t have the surge capacity to deal with it.

Post over on Gratitude and Growth about the weather.

Most of the morning was spent on writing the first draft of a short story. Got 2/3 of it done, just over 1700 words, and my brain just stopped. I know what comes next, but couldn’t pull it together to write it. And, I know the ending for which I’m aiming. I’d hoped it would only be 1500 words, but 2.5K is the sweet spot now, with 3K being the max.

Bundled up in so many layers until I could barely walk. Got the garbage out (so much easier to take it across the street to the dumpster than having to drive it to the dump). Once I unloaded garbage, came back, put on the backpack full of library books and the tote bag full of more library books and stomped to the library.

Church Street was hit and miss, as far as clean sidewalks, and I had to be careful. Dropped off the finished books, picked up the ones that have come in, stomped back. I wasn’t that cold, because of all the layers, although the tip of my nose got red and I looked like Rudolph’s understudy by the time I got back.

Made my favorite noodles with Asian peanut sauce for lunch – comfort food.

Could not get it together to write more in the afternoon.

But I finished writing up a coverage, and read another script I will write up today. I have two scripts to read/write up, and two book reviews to write. I started reading another contest entry, too.

Part of the Target order arrived. I am in love with my Pyrex pie plate. There will be pot pies and sweet pies galore with that! And things like garbage bags, shampoo, and an ice tray (although it’s a weird, squishy ice tray). Once the cat litter arrives (today or tomorrow), we will be stocked up until early March for cat and cleaning stuff. Food-wise, we could make it 4-6 weeks if supply chains totally break down, although we’d run out of eggs. I have dry milk and evaporated milk if needed, and plenty of other goods stocked in.

I’m still going to attempt a grocery run (on foot) today, to get in the perishables. Then I’ll decontaminate and start my workday. I’m not washing groceries again, but I’m decontaminating myself whenever I have to go out and interact.

The stocking up has as much to do with weather as the virus. Another storm is coming in tomorrow, and predictions are that it will go down to -31F with wind chill over the weekend. Yet another storm comes through on Monday.

So I won’t be going anywhere for awhile.

But I still have to find a place to get the car fixed.

I decided not to go to the college library this week. Maybe next week, if the virus  numbers go down and there aren’t too many people around. With the public library, I just go in to drop off/pick up; I’m not back to browsing yet. With the college library, I have to dig through the shelves, looking for what I want, and I just don’t feel comfortable being indoors with strangers, even if we’re masked and vaccinated. Nothing I need from that library is on a tight timeline, so I’m okay to wait.

I have meditation this morning, and then I’ll make a run (a waddle, in all my layers) to Big Y with my rolly cart to see how much on my list I can find. Then it’s finishing the short story (it needs to be edited and sent out tomorrow, which is a tighter turnaround than I like, but that’s when I found out about the submission deadline), writing up a script coverage and two reviews, reading two more scripts. I doubt I’ll get to work on The Big Project today, but I’m hoping to get back to it tomorrow and over the weekend, and do some work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY this weekend, too.

Tessa let me sleep until nearly 6. Actually, again, it was Charlotte who woke me, and when Tessa heard us, she chimed in.

Hopefully, the power will stay on.

It’s relatively quiet anyway around here; I’m hoping for a quiet weekend, even with storms happening outside.

Wed. Jan. 5, 2022: And Then The Crows Came

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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I think there’s a storm coming in. I hope I can coax the car to the grocery store and back. It’s too cold to walk, and I need to do a big shop, not a small one.

What happened around DC yesterday, with people being stuck in their cars on the road for 27 hours is not okay. This is where we need robotics; mechanized plows that understand the difference between stalled cars or life forms and snow, who can clear roads in bad weather and get people out when they’re stuck, so that emergency personnel can then follow in and provide assistance.

I managed a little over 1600 words on The Big Project. I like what I wrote, but I needed to get double done.

Mailed some bills down the street at the mailbox in front of the college security building, and then went next door to see if Cumberland Farms had any eggs left. They did not.

Got some blog posts written, and then got into a container gardening discussion on Twitter. It hit me just how much I miss my beloved lilacs, some of which I raised from slips. But at least I gave them to avid gardeners, who will care for them, or pass them on to those who will.

Then, my murder of crows showed up, joined by two other murders of crows (I’m calling them a “murderati” even though it’s not correct).  One of the crows who usually visits me at the front of the house every day kept flying back and forth at the office window (which is on the side of the house). Very upset. All the crows were very upset. It’s not like them, especially at dusk, and they were joined by their friends, so something was up.

I excused myself from the conversation and bundled up (figured I might as well get the mail while I was out). The crows were really, REALLY upset, flying, swooping, screaming.

I think their behavior has more than one reason, although I don’t have all the answers.

There were some flocks of birds – I think they were starlings, but I couldn’t see, in the lack of light – flying over. The crows drove them away, but that couldn’t be the cause of the upset. I didn’t see any hawks, eagles, or owls. 

Back on Cape, when I had an owl living in the back yard for a few years, the owl kept to the back and territories past the backyard, while that local murder of crows hung out in the front. It was the blue jays who went back and forth, making trouble.

However, my direct downstairs neighbors had a visitor. The crows HATED him for some reason, and were dive bombing him. Which made me immediately suspicious of him. Had he hurt one of their group?

My dislike was supported when the dogs in the neighborhood all started growling at the guy. Now, my other downstairs neighbors have two guard dogs who don’t like anyone outside of their own people, although they’re starting to get used to me (especially since I always tell them how handsome and good they are, every time I see them). But the little mop dog across the street, who loves EVERYBODY, pulled on her leash and growled like she was going to rip the guy’s throat out.

In other words, this guy is bad news.

He scrambled into the house, and I hope he doesn’t stay long.

But the crows were still upset. They were flying around and screaming over by the library cattycorner from where I live. There’s some construction in a building near it, and I worried that maybe one of their group had gotten injured or tangled in something. I went over to the library parking lot to see if I could figure it out (and then call someone), But the crows took off from there, and went across the street, to the wooded area behind some houses, sort of in the direction of the lake.

I couldn’t follow them without trespassing. It didn’t seem like the behavior of crows having a funeral for one of their own (if you’re interested, there’s a good article about that here).

But they were very upset, and I didn’t like not being able to help them. They kept moving further and further towards the lake, so maybe it was some sort of predator (hopefully a four-legged and not a two-legged) and they were trying to get it out of their territory. I didn’t find any evidence that any of them were actually hurt.

I hope it’s not a fisher. I dislike fishers intensely. In Maine, they ate all the cats, and attacked dogs and some humans, too. But the fishers I’ve encountered have a distinct smell, sulphery, like rotten eggs, and I didn’t smell that at all.

I didn’t write up my coverage, so I will have to catch up today, along with the grocery store and some other things, and the next chunk of The Big Project.

Hopefully, the car will make it to the store and back. I’m going back to decontamination protocols for myself whenever I leave the house and come back after interactions. We’re not back to washing the groceries yet, but, if need be, we will.

Also, once I’m back from the store (hopefully, before the storm starts), I’ll take a tromp around the neighborhood to check on the crows. They did a fly-by this morning, but it was the regular murder, not the murderati. It was pretty much the morning hello.

Knowledge Unicorns started back up last night. The relief all of us involved have at the kids not being in school with all the chaos is huge. As is their relief not to have to deal with constant active shooter drills, in addition to worrying they might catch COVID from fellow students with anti-vaxxer morons for parents. We made the right decision. Everyone’s tired, but at least, at this point, still alive, which is more than can be said for several of their friends and their friends’ parents.

One of the fun things we did was to do a virtual tour of the Doges Palace in Venice, and talk about some of the art and the history.

I have to be off, so I can get everything done before the storm. Peace, friends, and let’s hope the power stays on, at least until I get my coverages submitted.

I really needed to take this week off, too, although I can’t afford it. Will have to consider that for next year, planning my time so that I take from the Winter Solstice off through the first week of the new year.

Published in: on January 5, 2022 at 8:38 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 5, 2022: And Then The Crows Came  
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Thurs. Dec. 9, 2021: Trying To Cope Without the Car

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Neptune Retrograde

Snowy and cold

I talk about snow and some of the decorating over on today’s Gratitude and Growth post.

I finally got a response from the VW dealer in Pittsfield. The earliest they can see me is next week, and they still haven’t given me the estimate I requested. Only the estimate for a diagnostic. So I will be in touch with them again.

It will mean, by the time it’s fixed, I’ve been without a car for nearly a month, in an area that’s not great on public transportation. This is not okay.

I don’t get the garages who say they “can’t” fix this issue. I remember voting on a bill – which passed – several years ago that gave all garages access to dealer information to fix any issue.

Anyway, more stress on that level.

After going back and forth with the dealer to get an appointment and try to get an estimate (there will be another email going out from me today), I decided to go ahead and get the groceries delivered. Stop & Shop sends us a circular every Wednesday, touting their delivery service in this region. So I had to go on the site, and get an account set up, which took way more steps than it should, especially since I’ve had a Stop & Shop card for years.  They had my zip code for the setup, everything seemed fine. I went through the onerous searching for the items on my list, putting them in my card, or when they were sold out, trying to find something else I could use (I need to do my holiday baking this weekend). Went through all the steps for the delivery – only to have them say they don’t deliver to my zip code. Which makes no sense, since they send me a weekly flyer to my address IN MY ZIP CODE encouraging me to try their delivery service. And the store is less than 3 miles away IN MY ZIP CODE.

They could have told me this when I set up the damn delivery account.

Totally ridiculous. And, of course, there’s no customer service email, because Stop & Shop actually providing customer service is way too out of the ballpark.

Only curbside pickup.

If I had a car I could drive to the curb, I’d go in the damn store and get the groceries myself!

Big Y (which is closer) doesn’t deliver, although they’re connected with Instacart, and, after Instacart’s assurance they could deliver in an hour, they can’t deliver to this address. The garbled message made no sense.

Hey, assholes, how about this: Don’t advertise delivery service when it doesn’t exist? How about not lying to your customers?

After that whole debacle, I wrapped and packed the packages that need to be mailed, and packed everything in a bag I can carry down to the post office tomorrow, along with the cards.

After lunch, I participated in Remote Chat, bittersweet, since it’s the second-to-last one. These colleagues helped get me through the pandemic. I will miss them.

Once Remote Chat was finished, I did some more work on the newsletter, then wrapped up and went down the street to Cinnamon Girl Apothecary, where I found the last couple of gifts I have to mail out. Brought them home, wrapped them, packed them, added them to the Post Office bag.

We received a lovely package from friends in Kentucky, of cheeses and spreads and yummy things we will enjoy.

Read three scripts, which I will write up today, once I get back from the post office and the library. I’m looking forward to this morning’s meditation session; goodness knows I need it. Although my extended yoga practice this morning and early morning meditation session went well.

Off to do some work on The Big Project. Hope I can get in some work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY later, too. I have coverage to write up, and more scripts to read/write up, and a book to finish and review. Plus, I’d like to finish/test the newsletter draft and to get the ads up for the holiday shorts.

I think I’m going to break down my grocery list into two or three smaller chunks. I’ll walk to Big Y, dragging my upright cart, and buy what I can carry, and spread the shopping out over a few days.

Because the baking has to get done.

It already looks like I can’t make stollen this year, because I can’t get the mixed fruit peel I need. That’s a disappointment.  But I’d started stockpiling non-perishables in late October/early November, so I don’t have that much to still buy.

Fingers crossed.

Keep a good thought that the car repair is actually within my budget.

Peace, friends.

Wed. Nov. 17, 2021: Online Cooking Class (And Some Writing)

image courtesy of Daria Shevstova via Pexels.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was actually a lot of fun.

After I hit my word count quota, I went to Big Y to get the ingredients for the evening’s cooking class. There were a few snow flurries in the air as I came and went, but nothing major, and it didn’t stick.

I came home, went through email, worked on script coverages. We did an early session of Knowledge Unicorns, which went well.

As I set out my ingredients in preparation for the class, I realized I’d somehow missed seeing that spinach and pine nuts were part of the ingredient list. Instead of spinach (for the turkey tarts), I decided to use celery (I mean, I didn’t even have kale I could have swapped in for it. Not having kale on hand in the Berkshires is a form of blasphemy). I’ve substituted walnuts for pine nuts in pesto before, so I decided to do that.

The class itself as part of the NYU Alumni Supper Club series, and our instructor was Chef Cherrie of ChefTorial. She was working out of her kitchen in a small town near Manitoba, our host was on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls; it was fun. That’s what I love about online events. People can participate from all over the world (we even had one person attending from Hong Kong).

NYU has always been at the forefront of virtual conferencing. When I was at NYU on work-study, back in the early 1980’s, I worked for the Interactive Telecommunication Department and Alternate Media Center (and had to say that entire name every time I answered the phone). We had one of the first ever virtual Christmas parties between our NYU office and China (I think it was Shanghai). It was a ton of fun, and a little whacky.

Anyway, back to the class. We had fun cooking and doing “Sociable!” (not sure if I should explain what that is, but trust me, it’s fun). Charlotte sat on a kitchen chair in front of the screen for the first part, but she wasn’t getting enough attention, so she left. Willa took up the post, absolutely fascinated to watch the tutorial on the laptop (which I’d set up in the kitchen), and her new fascination with watching me cook.

The three recipes were sweet potato toasts with maple-walnut-goat cheese topping; turkey tarts filled with ricotta, cream cheese, spinach (well, celery for me), and cranberries; sweet pea pesto on toasted ciabatta.

I got into life-or-death battles trying to get the ricotta and the cream cheese open, and got cheese all over the kitchen. At that point, Willa fled back into my mother’s room, where she could sit on the bed and watch from a safe distance.

Tessa stayed out of it.

I would have never thought of lining a muffin pan cup with a slice of turkey, filling it, and baking it. But it works!

All three recipes were outstanding. The Chef and host were terrific, and the other people were a lot of fun. I posted photos of the dishes as they were finished on Instagram. The photos are pretty lame; I didn’t do any styling or real arrangement, it was just shoot and go, because we were moving pretty fast.

The food was good, but the kitchen was a disaster area by the time I was done. It took longer to clean up than it took to cook.

I was wiped out by the end of it, but it was a good tired. I definitely want to do more Supper Club events with NYU Alumni, and they have a Cooking Club, too, that the host will send me information about.

And we definitely have leftovers.

I overslept this morning. Tessa was not amused, since she’d been trying to wake me up since who-knows-when. But my mom got up early to feed the little monsters.

I put chicken and vegetables into the slow cooker, and that’s tonight’s dinner. Because after cooking so much last night, a slow cooker meal seems like a good idea.

I also made a frittata for breakfast.  With the supply chain issues meaning frozen vegetables are in short supply, and the canned goods on which I stocked up during the early part of the pandemic needing to be used up, I’d used a can of mixed vegetables to go with a dish a few days ago.

They were disgusting.

I mean, I knew they wouldn’t be great, but I don’t remember them being this disgusting.

Needless to say, we had leftovers. I hate wasting food, so I decided to hide their grossness in a frittata, by adding in leftover basil and parsley from last night’s ingredients, and then cutting up some fresh grape tomatoes, mixing it in with the eggs, shredding some cheese to go into it, and some salt and pepper.

Frittata is a tasty way to get rid of leftovers I don’t know what to do with. Eggs, cheese, and herbs can hide a lot of less-than-wonderful leftovers.

Anyway, it was a huge frittata, but it was delicious. I still can’t judge properly when it’s set enough to flip, so it usually ends up looking like a gigantic mess, but it tastes good. With leftover ciabatta, too.

I was late hitting today’s word count on CAST IRON MURDER, which was 2661. The story took a completely unexpected turn that was not in the outline, but works well, so I rolled with it.

This brings me over 42K for the month. I only have 8K more for the Nano quota, and I’m over halfway from where I need to be for the full book. This draft will be lean. In the second draft, I’m going to expand some carefully chosen descriptive detail, to support that Lorraine, as a cook, sees a lot of the world through food colors, textures, and flavors. That can all be layered on top of the basic story, so if I come in a little lean on word count in this draft, I have room to play without getting overblown and info-dumpy.

I’ll be teaching TWO classes at the Cape Cod Writers Center Conference next August, and the Executive Director and I are working out the details. I’ll share them when I have them.

Remote Chat today, which will be tons of fun. I have script coverage to do, and some other things to take care of.

If the weather holds over the next few days, there will, I hope, be a day of local adventure, which will also be fun to share. If the weather sucks, I’ll stay home and write.

Have a good one!

Wed. Oct. 13, 2021: Outlines, Energy, Supplies

image courtesy of Charlotte May via pexels.com

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Waxing Moon

Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and cool

Yesterday turned into a temperate and gorgeous autumn day.

My initial productivity, writing the outline at the laundromat, sadly, did not transfer into much productivity the rest of the day.

I’m happy with the work on the outline, although it still needs more. I have to type up the notes, and organize some of the paragraphs; I jotted down bits and pieces as I thought of them, not necessarily in the order they need to flow for the story. I need to arrange them now, see where the plot holes are, and fill them with things to at least try in the first draft.

After the laundry was put away, some email dealt with, and some breakfast, I headed off to Wild Oats and to Stop & Shop for a grocery run. Stop & Shop is definitely having supply chain issues, mostly with big brands. It shouldn’t affect me too much, but as they are getting things in that I need (that aren’t perishable), I’m grabbing a couple extra, so that we’ll be all set through the winter. That way, if shelves are empty due to supply chain issues, we are still covered; if it’s just that we can’t get anywhere because of weather, we’re still covered. I will need to do a Target run soon for cleaning supplies. We have about another 4-6 weeks’ still left from what we brought up with us from my pandemic stash; I’m going to stock up to get us through the spring.

I bought more than I planned, at Stop & Shop, because I am doing some of that stocking up on canned goods and staples. There’s still no apple cider vinegar, although I found molasses and bought enough for the holiday baking and some other recipes. Frozen vegetables and pasta were just about wiped out. Frozen vegetables are more of a convenience than anything else; the farmers’ markets and the co-op can keep us supplied with fresh, although we might have to eat things we don’t normally eat. Chance to expand the palate. Eat whatever’s in season. We try to do that anyway, but I usually keep a few bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer for when I’m tired or haven’t had a chance to hit the market. While the Big Box pastas may be out of stock, the local fresh pastas are well stocked in both Wild Oats and Big Y. There don’t seem to be issues with flour and yeast this year, so I should be able to bake bread. Although I’m going to grab another jar or two of yeast in the coming weeks.

We are fortunate that we have so many choices in close proximity. And, as I said, it’s mostly big box brands that aren’t getting restocked. Those are my backup, not my go-to, so I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m keeping an eye on things. We have enough stocked in our pantry to get through a couple of months, and as long as I can replenish as we use things up, we’ll be fine.

But it’s noticeable.

There wouldn’t be supply chain issues if someone wasn’t making a profit from it. It’s being spun as a labor problem, but I think someone’s figured out how to profit and blame labor.

Really weary on multiple levels. I did my Soul Expedition journal work, which was interesting, and then spent some time on the acupressure mat. I’m getting headaches from all the screen time. I need new glasses at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Got out the two script coverages on the tightest deadline. Read two more scripts.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are doing well. They are bright and curious, and this type of learning allows them to actually learn, not just prep for standardized tests. I’m grateful to the Smithsonian, the Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art for all their educational resources. Last night, we took a virtual trip through the Louvre, which was tons of fun, too. I need to do a virtual tour of some Venetian museums, and they thought that was interesting, so that’s on tomorrow’s agenda.

I was assigned my next book for review.

I have an ethical dilemma with one client; that client’s priorities have shifted in a way with which I disagree, and to the point where it may not be a good fit any longer. I’m debating whether to take a break with that particular client or just leave altogether. Usually, I’m all for a clean break, but I also know I’m suffering from burnout and pandemic brain, so I don’t want to make a mistake. I have to ponder this a bit, as I finish off some work for this client.

Stuck on one of the plays. I’m going back to the source material, hoping I can shake free of the stuck. I didn’t write enough notes on the project when the idea originally burbled up, and I’m paying for it now. It’s on deadline, so I don’t have time to faff around.

Hoping it clears up a bit, so that I can walk to the post office and library later. I hope the walk will clear out some of the cobwebs.

I didn’t get any of the short articles done yesterday, so I have to make up for that today, and also do more script coverage. I’m close to what I hoped to earn for the week, so I don’t have to stress.

I got pinged that UPS delivered a package yesterday afternoon. I don’t know where they delivered, but it sure as heck isn’t anywhere around here. I let the shipper know, so it can be either refunded or replaced. This morning, I found the package tucked under the mat, which means it was misdelivered elsewhere in the neighborhood, but, because I have excellent neighbors, someone took the time to drop it off. Because it wasn’t there when I checked at 9 PM last night.

Saturn going direct lifted a huge weight off (even though I’m tired). Having Jupiter and Mercury go direct next week will feel like a new lease on life, I hope.

Exhaustion kept me from concentrating well and getting things done yesterday in an efficient manner. I hope to make up for it today.

Tessa woke me at 4:30. I moved to the sofa for a bit, but was up and working by 5:30. She keeps coming into the office and yowling at me, then running around. I think she wants to play. Maybe if I give her a good, dedicated playtime session, she will let me work. Here’s hoping. Charlotte fell asleep during morning meditation and is still zonked out. Willa is busy in the kitchen.

Because, you know, it’s all about the cats.