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

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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.

Tues. Oct. 12, 2021: Am I Really Doing This?

image courtesy of Lisa via pexels.com

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Waxing Moon

Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Saturn went DIRECT on 10/10/2021

Foggy and mild

The weekend turned out quite differently than expected, but I’m doing my work on flow and flexibility, and grateful that my work allows it.

The plan, since it was supposed to be a warm and sunny day, was to go to Holyoke and Hadley (about an hour and a half away) to hit some stores we don’t have around here and stock up on a few things, and check out a few places to see if they’re worth a return visit. It wasn’t that warm, and it alternated between clouds and sun.

But the big thing that jettisoned those plans was that Tessa was limping, badly. Her right front paw was the problem. She wasn’t happy about me checking it, but it wasn’t broken, and she didn’t have anything lodged in it, and it wasn’t an ingrown nail. I figured she landed wrong on one of her jumps, or when she raced up and down the stairs, playing, in the night.

We decided to stay home and watch her, and keep Charlotte away from her, in case I needed to book a vet visit in the next couple of days. She didn’t want me carrying her, and insisted on jumping up and down, even though she still limped. But we managed to keep her quiet most of the day. I stayed next to her on the sofa, and even, sometimes, down on the floor.

Snuck off while she napped to send off my last script coverages for the week, and made my nut and a little over, so I could relax.

Got my book review sent off, but it was too late to get another assignment, so I’m hoping that will come through today. Managed to catch up on a bunch of emails, too, and designed a new ad for Fearless Ink which I will probably launch next week, after both Jupiter and Mercury go retrograde.

Did some research on William Morris Hunt and the female painters and sculptors he trained, in preparation for the steampunk piece.

Over Friday and Saturday, I read WHILE JUSTICE SLEEPS by Stacey Abrams. It’s an excellent legal thriller. If Stacy Abrams can be such a purposeful activist to save democracy and still manage her book deadlines, I can shut up and get back on schedule. I enjoy a good legal thriller, and oh, so many fall short, but this exceeded my expectations. Incredible plotting. Just masterful. Along with characters and storytelling and great settings. Top notch in every way.

Friday night, I set up the sofa bed, brought in Tessa’s food, water, and a litter box, and shut everyone else out of the living room. This way, I could be nearby if Tessa needed something, and could make sure she had uninterrupted rest from the others, so her paw could heal. She was pretty happy about it; Charlotte, not so much.

Slept through then night and got up a little before 5 on Saturday. No howling from Tessa, which proves it’s not about food, it’s about loneliness.

Tessa was much better on Saturday, but it was rainy and yucky, so we didn’t go anywhere. We’d hoped to go to Great Barrington, but that will have to wait for a sunnier day. I finished reading WHILE JUSTICE SLEEPS, and then made vegetable stock, and hunted down the box of Halloween treat bags. I was sure I’d brought it up, but couldn’t find it the last few days, and was worried I’d have to do another storage run between the time Mercury goes direct and Samhain. But I finally found it, so it’s all good.

Unpacked some of the boxes in the sewing room, filling the new dresser with fabric.

Signed up for a weeklong course called “Expedition to the Soul” by The Sisters Enchanted. I figured that would work well with the whole Chiron/healing theme. They give you a workbook to download, and ideas on putting together an “Quest Pack.” At first, I rolled my eyes, but reminded myself that I’m the one who signed up for it, so I should do as they ask, because there are reasons. When I teach a class, one of the rules is that you do all the assignments as asked, even if you decide to never work in that way again. So, as a participant, I need to show the same respect to my instructors.

 Once I started putting it together, I had a lot of fun with it. It contains items from Goddess Provisions and Tamed Wild that didn’t have placements yet, and were just sitting around until I found something for them to do, but they’re perfect for this.

Worked on some notes and background for a couple of writing projects, but nothing too major.

Made a quick mac and cheese lunch from Annie’s Organic in a box. It’s been a few years since I ate it, and I was not impressed. The sauce mix was lumpy and wouldn’t dissolve into the milk and butter, and, overall, it was too salty. In a week or two, I’ll have to make up a big batch of Moosewood’s cheese sauce and do their mac and cheese from scratch, and freeze a few packets. I used a Campbell’s sweet and sour skillet sauce with leftover chicken (and made rice) for dinner. Again, not impressed. Somewhere, I have the really good sweet and sour recipe my mom’s best friend gave me (she grew up in Macao, and we took a Chinese cooking class with her a looong time ago, but I kept all the recipes). Foodwise, Saturday was a bust.

I couldn’t find any photos of my dad for the Ancestor Altar we’re building, which is really frustrating. I was sure the big box with all our photo albums and scrap books went on the truck, but can’t find it. That’s upsetting; it better be in the storage unit and not lost for good.

But I have the box that was sent after my uncle, my father’s younger brother, died. Going through that, I found a great, happy photo of my dad from 1965 in Chicago, so I’ll use that. I also found photos of both his older and younger brothers (both of them were artists in Europe). And found a bunch of letters and ancestry research. Most of it is in that difficult-to-read German script, so it will take some time for my mom and I to interpret it. Most of the letters are typed, so my mom is going to work on the translation.

A Big Project for the Winter.

My mother’s father had done a lot of ancestral research on that side of the family, but I have very little information about my father’s side.

I slept in the living room again with Tessa, and slept through the night until nearly six in the morning. Heaven. By this time, Charlotte’s separation anxiety was in high gear, so it took a couple of hours to get her calmed down.

Tessa was running and playing at top speed, so it was just a bad landing on a jump, and nothing that needs a vet visit. Sometimes she forgets she’s not still a kitten.

Dreary day on Sunday, weather-wise. Spent the morning writing six short almanac articles, which was a lot of fun. Spent some time with the Quest workbook. Unpacked a tiny bit, and found some stuff for the Quest Pack.

In the afternoon, I read three scripts for coverage, which I wrote up on Monday.

Worked on an outline for a piece that is taking shape in my head. Those characters that were in search of a story? Found one for them. I’m starting to think it would make sense to work on it during Nano. Yes, the siren song of Nano calls. On the one hand, it’s a chance to write an entire project in a condensed period of time, and get back into the groove, and to connect with local chapter writers. On the other hand, I have three plays due at the end of the year in New York, and I need to get back on track with the series books, keep up with the script coverage and the copywriting, and other “in progress” things. Also, in previous years, I found those who quit before the end of the month were exhausting. They were always the ones pulling the most energy from everyone else, and then they quit anyway.

I’m worried that if I do Nano, I’m doing it for ego. I realize there’s a certain amount of ego involved in writing any book. But as much as I’m trying to justify that it’s about finding my rhythm again after stalling during the early part of the pandemic and while I was sick, there’s also ego involved.

Because, let’s face it, I regularly write more than 50K in a month, although not necessarily on one project. And I don’t have to interact on forums – in fact, the last time I did Nano, I found the moderators snippy and awful towards professional writers.

And doing Nano simply because of ego is not the right reason for me to start writing a book.

Writing because I’m pulled by the story and characters (which I am, especially if I can craft a tight outline between now and November), and writing a whole book from start to finish (which would spill over past Nano, because this book needs to be at least 70K. I’d need to keep writing it into December, while finishing off the plays. And juggling everything else.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to use that time and put that energy into something that I SHOUILD be working on?

Or would the WANT TO writing fuel the SHOULD?

If it’s the latter, I can work with the ego elements, ignore the energy vampires, and just write.

I don’t know. I’m having an internal debate. Maybe the Soul Expedition will give me some answers.

I know I CAN write 50K on a project in 30 days; it’s just a case of getting back to doing it, and then continuing it past November 30, to get back to my normal rhythm between 1.5-2K/day on whatever is the “primary” project of the moment. Can I use Nano to fuel it, even with a new project? Or will it just become another obstacle?

I wouldn’t mentor this year; Let 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS take care of that. I’m promoting it all over the place.

Of course, the site’s not letting me sign in, so it might be moot anyway! Update: I managed to get in, under my old password (wrote down the new one, just in case). Updated the profile, set up the novel. Switched regions. Looked at the forums, which gave me a headache. I can still always change my mind.

Then I look at my intent for the week and wonder, is Nano a bad habit I have to break, or is the uneven writing rhythm of the past few months the bad habit I have to break?

I don’t have the answer. Yet.

Did some work on the Fearless Ink ad. I might do two ads. I create a tagline and am sourcing the right images, and I found an image and can create a good tagline.

Monday morning, Tessa got me up a little after 4:30, because she was lonely (Charlotte was thrilled I slept back in my own bed and she could snuggle all night).

Good first writing session, good early morning yoga.

Barbara Moore’s THE WIZARD’S TAROT arrived, and it is spectacular. Looking through the deck gave me chills in the right way. I plan to use this deck and her STEAMPUNK TAROT together on Samhain, when I do the year’s monthly action/energy reading. It takes both decks out of regular usage for the upcoming year, but I think I can do a lot of work with them in the coming year with them as that foundational reading.

(This year’s deck were the Pagan Tarot as the action deck and the Sacred Circle tarot as the energy deck. Pretty accurate throughout the year, although not necessarily in the way they were originally interpreted).

Did another pass through the Nano forums. Some very toxic topics like:

–What’s your day job?

–What’s your favorite hobby besides writing?

–Writers are your competition

So, yeah, not participating in those. Whenever “what’s your day job?” comes up on something like Twitter, I respond “writing” and then wait a day or two to block the toxic poster. Or just skip the question and block.

And other writers are NOT my competition. That’s something the industry promotes to keep writers “in their place” and too many of them underpaid, because traditional publishers only have a finite number of slots. But the reality is that you can’t have too many good writers, because humans have an insatiable need for stories.

I admit it; I was tempted to be an asshat and post a snide response. But then I didn’t. Because I’m a grownup, and I don’t have to give in to these impulses. Being snippy is not in the spirit of Nano, which is for everyone to try to find their way to a regular writing rhythm. I can avoid the toxic, the whiny, and the dilettantes, without being mean.

Wrote four more short almanac articles. Wrote up three script coverages. Used the rest of the slow cooker pork to make pork Lo Mein, which was good, but, for some reason, the sauce turned out spicier than I expected. I’ll have to cut back on the red pepper flakes next time I make that sauce. Spent a couple of hours on the prep for the Soul Expedition stuff, using the journal prompts.

Read four scripts last night, which I will cover today.

Tessa let me sleep this morning until just before 5, but she is now insisting that, when I wash her bowl in the morning, I put the food into a WARM bowl. Okay, Tess, whatever you say, you’re the boss.

Headed over to the laundromat first thing, got both loads done and was back by 7:30, which was pretty damn good.

I used my time at the laundromat to work on the outline for CAST IRON MURDER, the working title of this piece. I wrote about 5 pages (I already had jotted about 3 pages of notes). I have the characters (the ones who were in search of the plot a few days ago). I have the situation. I know the murderer. I know why the murderer did it. I even have a couple of red herrings, and some good situations as my characters work to solve the mystery. I need more clues and red herrings, and to tighten it all up, which might not happen until the second draft. I need enough in the outline so I can get the first draft down quickly for Nano, and then, starting next spring or so, massage it and hone it and tone it. I want it to be fairly short – around 70K.

I’m finding I have to do some research, like do persimmons grow in the Berkshires? (They do). And about the casinos in Springfield. I really hope I don’t need to do a research trip, because I loathe casinos.

I feel pretty good about the piece and the prep. What I hope is that the energy used to drive this piece in Nano will spill out to the other pieces on which I’m working, and have a ripple effect. So that I’d work on CAST IRON MURDER first thing in the morning (after the longhand session on the other project, so, well, second thing in the morning), and then, later in the day, work on the plays. Maybe I’ll leverage the Sundance Collaborative writing sessions for that.

Anyway, I need to start my day. I have to do a grocery run in the morning for things like oat milk, eggs, wine, and coffee, and then get back to the almanac articles and the script coverage. I’d hoped to get LOIs out today, but that might have to wait until tomorrow. Working on the ad, too, for Fearless Ink, and the blog for tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice.

So it’s a busy day. Might put off the library and the post office until tomorrow.

Most of the students were away for the weekend, it being a long one, so it was nice and quiet. They’re really not bad, and when there’s noise, it’s for about 20 minutes or so. But there is a difference when they’re not around. I like both ways – the energy when they’re around, and the quiet when they’re not.

Hope you have a good week, friends. Peace.

If you want to grab a copy of the free 30 Tips for 30 Days, you can get the download links here. It’s not on Amazon; they blocked it because they don’t allow free downloads that don’t originate/aren’t exclusive to them. If you need a mobi file, contact me through the website, and we’ll set it up.

Wed. Sept. 1, 2021: September!

image courtesy of Open Clip Art Vectors via pixabay.com

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Waning Moon

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

Cloudy and cool

It’s September! I love autumn!

The contrasts are so different. On Cape, people put on shorts as of April 1, even if it was still snowing. They’d march around in shorts and Uggs, if necessary, from April 1 until November. Here, this week, people were already wearing jackets. It’s entertaining.

I’m pleased with the work I did on the outline yesterday morning at the laundromat. There’s too much distraction to actually write scenes, but I can read there, and now I found out I can outline. Because I’m going to make use of the time.

I like how this piece is shaping. I’m working on outlines for three very different pieces, although all in the same genre, while getting back on track with the other pieces, and continuing to work on the novel-out-of-my-wheelhouse first thing every morning. I’m getting back into my creativity.

I slept better last night, because I wasn’t reading scripts up until bedtime. When I do that, there’s too much noise from other people’s work in my head, and it gets in the way of my own. So I need a longer stretch between stopping my reading for the night and sleep. Perhaps I’ll add in a creative session of my own (longhand, not screen).  I need my own work to have room to breathe and percolate overnight as I sleep.

I can read finished, published work up until I sleep, no problem. But drafts, where I’m supposed to comment, or work for review — I need a gap, or something different, between finishing that work for the night and going to sleep. Or it interferes with my work. And protecting my own work/voice/creativity is the priority.

The rest of the morning was spent in bureaucracy. Necessary, but annoying. Lots of paperwork to do, connected to the move.

Headed out to the post office to mail the bureaucracy, then to the library, to pick up a book on hold. Once there, I discovered that I’d walked out of the house without my wallet AGAIN. I offered to go back to get my card, but they let me check out the book without it.

I leave my wallet at home too often lately. That has to stop. Once is a genuine mistake. Multiple times is carelessness and stupidity, and I don’t have room for those kinds of errors. I keep things in the same place, and have a preparation ritual to go out the door, so it is inexcusable to have left my wallet home, now, multiple times.

Headed for a big grocery shop to Stop and Shop, getting in what I need for the cooking/baking for my friend’s visit. Headed to Wild Oats for a few more things. Will have to do a trip to Big Y tomorrow for some stuff I couldn’t find, and then another swing by Wild Oats to get some stuff I want fresher than sitting around from Tuesday to the weekend.

My downstairs neighbor-one-over gave me some produce from her garden, and it is yummy! So, when I bake cookies tomorrow, I’ll make some extra for her.

Read for about an hour in the afternoon. Was supposed to attend a virtual networking event, but couldn’t get the Zoom link to work. Turned out it was a Spectrum problem – there were trucks on the street. I’ll have to send an apology to the organizer today.

I have a lot of script coverage to complete today, and a couple of writeups. Tomorrow is my last day to get anything written up, so that I have the whole weekend off. I’m looking forward to the break.

This afternoon, I’m looking forward to Remote Chat!

Published in: on September 1, 2021 at 7:09 am  Comments Off on Wed. Sept. 1, 2021: September!  
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Wed. Aug. 18, 2021: Down the Research Rabbit Hole

Photo courtesy of Free Photos via pixabay.com

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

Got the laundry done at the laundromat yesterday. Three loads, but since it was nearly empty, I could run three machines at the same time, so washing, drying, and folding took just over an hour. Brought it all back; headed to Wild Oats for Owner Appreciation Day, and then to Stop & Shop for some other things.

And that was the morning. Those few things took all morning.

Which is why I really need to get up at 5 AM, not 6 AM, much as I’m loving that extra hour in bed.

Heard back from Williams College. I have to pay a fee to access the books I need in their collection. But the collection is only open to Williams students, faculty, and staff due to COVID right now. So I’ll check back with them in autumn, and we’ll see where we are. They were very nice, and I appreciate the information. I’m just not sure I need access badly enough to pay $60.

I searched for the Marie Corelli biographies I need (that are in Williams College library) online via various secondhand bookstores. Most of them are expensive and out of my budget, even second hand. I can get the books she wrote for Kindle either through Project Gutenberg, or through the library, so I can do that. But I can’t see spending nearly $300 on the biographies.

I finally managed to find a copy of one of the biographies, which doesn’t seem to be in great shape, but as long as I can read it, hey, I can afford it, so I grabbed it. It looks like I can access the other two biographies through JSTOR and through Semantic Scholar, so I might be able to do everything in my budget.

Then, I came across the memoirs of Squire and Marie Bancroft. Most of those copies are wildly expensive collectors’ editions, but there’s a copy in questionable condition from a bookstore in Devon, England, and the shipping’s not that bad. I grabbed it. Of course, there was an email this morning, upping the shipping costs, but it’s still less than a fifth of the fancy copies. I don’t need that book until either later this year or early next year, so it can take its time coming across the pond.

Found some other interesting research on Marie Corelli, tied to her home Mason Croft in Stratford-on-Avon, where she was involved in preserving buildings connected to Shakespeare. Not sure if that will be the event around which I build the play, but it’s a possibility.

Wrote up script coverage, read two more scripts, which I will write up this morning. The toner cartridge arrived last night, and I have to put it in this morning and get all the backed-up paperwork done.

My reward for getting the scripts read last night was to start reading the third Wonky Inn book. I’m enjoying that series.

Slept until six this morning. Wrote on the front porch, working on a tricky emotional scene in the book, so it was slower and a lower word count than I’d hoped, but I’m hitting the points I want to hit, so it’s worth it. I’m well into Chapter Four in longhand, so I should start typing soon, or it will be overwhelming.

Script coverage, paperwork, article work, LOIS, reading today. Maybe unpacking a couple of boxes. If it’s not too humid, I can work straight through and stop at a normal time; if it’s yucky, I’ll take a break mid-day, and then work more at night. Which is why I like flexibility in my hours.

I’m looking forward to Remote Chat today.

I had a thought, though, earlier this morning: What if, even when it’s safe again to socialize and network in person, I choose not to? One of the biggest sources of unhappiness the past decade was too often being bullied into pretending to be an extrovert on far too many occasions, just to serve others’ agendas and make THEM feel comfortable. What if I just. . .don’t? What if I choose to stay semi-reclusive?

We may all have to be semi-reclusive through the winter. The entire state is back to being high risk. But at least here, people are masking up indoors without fussing. Takes a lot of stress off.

Something I noticed walking around downtown the other day was that most buildings have a sign on their sides reading “Watch out for sliding snow and ice” so I guess that’s a thing here in winter. I’ll find out, won’t I?

Published in: on August 18, 2021 at 7:04 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 18, 2021: Down the Research Rabbit Hole  
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Wed. Aug. 11, 2021: Another Heat Wave Begins

image courtesy of Free Photos via pixabay.com

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Heat wave & humid

We are in for a stretch of yucky weather. Since we don’t have A/C, it will make work a challenge.

No, I’m not hauling my laptop somewhere else to work. It’s a pandemic. I’m not going to be inside a sealed room with germy strangers. Even masked.

Up at 4:30 AM yesterday, had the car packed and on the road by 6:15. It wasn’t a bad ride down to the Cape. There were pockets of traffic at Worcester and Middleboro, and the Bourne Bridge was annoying, but it wasn’t bad.

We switched stuff out of both storage units and were done in about a half hour. We took the Canal Road on the Cape side from Bourne to Sandwich, because my mom wanted to hit up that Christmas Tree Shop (we don’t have that store here; nearest one is an hour and a half away). We were masked, the staff was masked, but the stupid fucking tourists weren’t. Of course. Because they don’t care if they kill people off, as long as they get their $1 beach swag.

We only found 2 things on our list, but found a few other bits and bobs it made sense to get there instead of elsewhere. I found oval wooden spoons, which are difficult to source now. Most of them are round. The oval ones fit inside jars, and are better for making sauces, whereas the round ones are good for baking. Our oval wooden spoons are well used, from back when we lived in Chicago in the early 1960’s. They are on their last twigs. I will still use them for crafts, but for cooking, I needed other wooden spoons, and I wanted oval. The store had them, they were inexpensive, so I grabbed two sets, and now have 6 new, oval wooden spoons. I doubt they will last the 60 years these other spoons have, but if they last 10, I’ll consider it money well spent. Found the clear shower curtain liners, and grabbed a couple. I love the shower curtain (from my NY life) that we’re using in this bathroom. It looks great. But it’s just a tad short, and the liner will protect the floor better.

Since we didn’t buy much, there was room to stuff It into the packed car. We were back on the road by 11:13 – after a serious bout with the hand sanitizer I keep in the car.

The Sagamore Bridge was backing up, so we crawled back along the Canal Road and took the Bourne Bridge off Cape. Wasn’t bad getting off Cape, but backed up getting on, so I’m glad we timed getting on the way we did.

Sigh of relief once we were back over the bridge and headed home.

To think that sign of relief used to happen in the other direction.

Things change.

I had severe pain in the tendons of my right leg, from hip to foot. It hurt coming on the way down, but going back was even worse. When we stopped at a rest area, I popped into the convenience store to buy Advil that had both ibuprofen and acetaminophen in it, and gulped down a couple with water. That took the pain from excruciating to extremely bad, so I could at least drive home.

A few minutes in Dancer’s Pose before I got back into the car helped, too, although I felt pretentious. But, needs must.

Stopped at Whitney’s Farm to pick up a few things, including one of their dinners (lasagna), because I was too tired to cook.

Got home, unloaded everything, got it up the stairs. We did decontamination showers, just in case, and we decontaminated everything we bought. Not taking any chances.

The lasagna was great. The sauce was more like a vodka sauce than the usual, heavier tomato sauce, which was interesting. However, it was meat lasagna, which isn’t the best choice for me. I didn’t get sick, but didn’t feel as good as I do when I stay away from red meat completely.

New issue of VOGUE arrived, with a great story on First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. She’s so talented and smart, and such a genuinely good human being (and yes, I have actually met and interacted with her, on numerous occasions, prior to her First Lady status). I’m glad other people are realizing just how terrific she is.

I went to bed ridiculously early. Up today, writing, yoga, meditation. It was hard to get started writing on the book again, but once I started, I got into the flow.

I’m doing a quick run to Wild Oats and to Stop and Shop for a few things before it gets too hot. I have script coverages to write, and more scripts to read. I have emails on which to catch up, and a client meeting for which to prep tomorrow. But I will take it easy, within the confines of the weather. The ceiling fans are on, the box fans will go on soon. I hope we do get the daily afternoon thunderstorms these next few days to break the humidity.

Hydration and rest.

The good part about reading being such a big part of my work is that I can lie down in the coolest place in the house near a fan and work.

Be careful out there, friends.

Published in: on August 11, 2021 at 7:50 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 11, 2021: Another Heat Wave Begins  
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