Fri. May 6, 2022: In the Midst of Creativity, Loss

image courtesy of strikers via pixabay.com

Friday, May 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

Yesterday was a bit of a rollercoaster.

It was a beautiful spring day here in the mountains. Just gorgeous.

Charlotte sat with me for the regular Zoom meditation group,

I got some admin work done. I need to spend some time over on Ello this week; I’ve been lax about that.

I pitched myself for a large creative project that will happen in July.

I did some brainstorming on the Monthology with fellow creatives who wanted to know if they could use something in one of the organizations I created, and we figured out how to make it work.

I did a drop off/pickup at the library – there were nine books waiting for me! I had to pick up a few things as the pharmacy. They had aloe plants there, so I grabbed one of those, two. The aloe plant we had in the kitchen on Cape died about two years ago, and I’d never replaced it. We’d bought it when we first moved there, so it had a long life. I did a big grocery shop (five bags’ worth). I stopped at the liquor store, because I was out of red. I got another bottle of red, found a bottle of interesting rosé on the sale shelf, and, in the back of a shelf, another bottle of the Pomelo sauvignon Blanc I like so much.

Getting everything upstairs and put away was a bit of a chore, but I got it done. The latest NEW YORKER has graphic photos of the Russian atrocities in Ukraine. I was worried it would bring back nightmares for my mom, after what she went through with the Russians in WWII, but she wanted to see the magazine anyway. The fact that the world hasn’t banded together to stop this is despicable.

I turned around two scripts in the afternoon, and went back to contest entries. I’m doing a big push today and tomorrow, and hopefully can make my final decisions by tomorrow.

I was accepted for the creative project and can even say what it is: I’m participating in Word X Word’s “World’s Largest Poem” event. 50 of us will write an ongoing poem (we get the last word of the previous writer’s poem, we write 3-5 lines, and the next poet starts with our last word) over the next two months, and we perform it at Edith Wharton’s house, The Mount, in Lenox, on July 23rd. I’m very excited. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone, but something I wanted to try. We each have 24 hours to write our lines, once we received the prompt from the previous person’s poem.

Knowledge Unicorns was a lot of fun, with a lot of laughter. We are enjoying our remaining time together.

Then, I had some shocking and heartbreaking news. I found out that my friend, Thalia Proctor, had died on April 2nd of cancer, and her memorial service was on May 4th. I found out on Facebook. I hadn’t even known she was sick. We’d exchanged cards at Christmas, and I was planning to spend time with her in London next spring, provided it was safe enough to risk the trip. In additional to being a wonderful editor, Thalia was one of the kindest people I know. We met in Nottingham, at one of the first mystery conventions I ever attended, back when I was just starting to get my feet wet in the convention scene. We hung out together at conferences (including the year Bouchercon was in Omaha, of all places) on both sides of the pond. When I was in the UK, we visited. She visited me in 2013 on Cape, which was the last time I actually saw her, although we kept in touch for birthdays and Christmases. She was a steadfast friend during one of the worst romantic relationships of my life, and had a mix of kindness, humor, and common sense that was a joy to be around. We’d been friends for nearly thirty years. In addition to the heartbreak of the loss, I feel guilty that I didn’t know she was sick, and hadn’t supported her more during her illness. But mostly, I’m devastated that the world has lost such a beautiful and graceful person.

Today is about writing and working on contest entries. Tomorrow is the farmer’s market, and finishing contest entries, and making the decisions in the final category. Tessa woke me at three. I moved to the sewing room and dreamed I was at a luncheon with Senator Elizabeth Warren, and she decided to introduce me to Kathy Griffin, because she thought we should know each other. Which is very much like Senator Warren. She got me involved with the Small Business Administration when I first moved to MA, and involved with the state arts organization who advocates for arts funding.

But, throughout, I will take the time to mourn the loss of my friend.

Tues. March 8, 2022: The Car Is Home!

image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Sunny/Cloudy/Cold (more snow coming in)

International Women’s Day

(Note: I haven’t had a Beetle for years, but the last one I had was red).

Every International Women’s Day, I take some time to honor Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe. They are major reasons I became a writer. I first learned about them through library books about them, in the Childhood of Famous Americans Series. I read all the books about women when I was in elementary school. I keep taking out the books about Harriet and Louisa, re-reading them, until my parents bought me my own copies. As I got older, I read what they’d written, and read more about their lives and work. Both were strong, flawed, smart, funny women, and are still, in many ways, my guiding lights.

If you missed yesterday’s post over on the GDR site about how to dream your ideal life, the link is here.

Friday was the first day in a long time I felt like I was back to myself, working professionally, and balancing the different work elements.

I slogged through a bunch of emails. I wrote about 3K on The Big Project. I updated the tracking sheets for the project. I ran errands. I did a script coverage. I finished a book for review. The second shipment of contest entries arrived, so that was all sorted and checked in, and I went back to working on contest entries this weekend, too. I figured out the grocery list for Saturday’s shopping, although I had to do it again on foot.

For fun, I’m reading THE SHARPER THE KNIFE, THE LESS YOU CRY by Kathleen Flinn, about her time studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. It’s such a well-written book, and definitely makes me want to avoid cooking school. But then, I’ve never wanted to work in a professional kitchen. I just want to hone good cooking techniques for my own cooking, and not be under all that pressure, especially not at my age.

Charlotte and Tessa woke me around 5:30 on Saturday morning, which was fine. 5:30 is a good time to start my day.

I did the 3+ mile round trip to the grocery store, with the rolly cart, and restocked our pantry and fridge. The scallops looked good, so I grabbed a pound, which made for sauteed scallops in white wine, butter, and rosemary on Saturday night, and a scallop alfredo on Monday. Hmm. I was going to order scallops from the restaurant for my birthday, but I’ll have had them already twice in the same week, so I’ll need to order something else.

Polished the pieces for the one bookshelf I hadn’t yet put up, put it together, and rearranged some books, which made room on other shelves. I hate having so many books in storage. I keep trying to find a book to look something up and it’s not here, it’s in storage.

Finished reading the book for review and got back to work on reading contest entries. Took the day off from script coverage.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and, as usual, it has some cool stuff in it. I had to chase down the new postman to get it out of the box. I talked to him last week, at length, and showed him how much smaller the slot is on the resident side, and asked him to please NOT shove the boxes in on the USPS side, but leave them at the door. When he puts the subscription boxes in the mail slot, I can’t get them out. He promised he would put them on the stairs – and then put the GP box in the slot. I ran downstairs and asked him, nicely again, to PLEASE not to do that, and hand it to me or leave it at the door. He said, “But this box is small.” I repeated, “It’s still too big to get out of the slot on the resident side.” My front door is six steps from the neighborhood mailbox. It’s not like it’s a long walk out of his way. He’s either extremely dumb or he’s doing this on purpose.

I miss our former, lovely postman, who I think has retired.

I realize, in the scheme of everything going on, it’s not much, but it’s a basic courtesy with common sense. Math, geometry, physics.

Sunday, it rained. I stayed in. I unpacked another box of books and shelved them. I unpacked the box that held my blank notebooks, and arranged them on a shelf so I can get at them as I need for projects. It was sunny and mild in the afternoon, so I moved the seedlings out to the porch for a bit, and also planted the lemon balm and the black-eyed Susan vine (more on that in Thursday’s Gratitude and Growth post).

The cat grass has grown well, so I put it on an overturned box so that Willa and Charlotte feel like they have to work a bit to get at it. They both love chomping on it (but won’t, if the pot sits on the floor). Tessa is not interested. Tessa is interested in taking over the sewing room. That’s her latest conquest – the guest bed that has Charlotte’s pink blanky and Charlotte’s catnip banana. They also had huge fun getting into the bag of potatoes I got from the store, rolling them up and down our long hallway. A couple went down the stairs, too, which they watched from the top.

I turned around a script coverage, and then worked on contest entries. One of them was so good, I was up way too late, reading.

Up around 6 on Monday, reasonable. It has rained overnight, and most of the snow is gone.

Wrote up the book review, sent it, along with the invoice. Was paid in a couple of hours, and assigned the next two books for review.

Entered in the scores of the contest entries I read over the weekend. Did a bunch of admin work.

The rain briefly let up, so I did a circuit, on foot, to drop off/pick up library books, mail the bills. Stopped in at Cumberland Farms for eggs, but they were sold out.

When I returned home, there was a message from the garage that the car was ready! I took a cab over, paid the bill (which was even in my budget), thanked them profusely, and drove home. I was practically in tears of happiness and relief. And, of course, the aftermath was exhaustion. But I’m so happy to have the car back and that it works.

That means we can do something fun for my birthday this weekend. I usually try to ignore my birthday, but this is a Big Number, and this year, it’s important to me to Do Something.

In the afternoon, I did a script coverage, finished the book I really liked for the contest, and read a few more contest entries.

A local organization for whom I was preparing an LOI packet, because I thought they’d be interesting to work for has not only dropped masking requirements indoors, but also dropped proof of vaccination requirements for those entering. So, nope, cross them off the list and move on.

Found out that one of my editors is just over one third of my age, which makes me feel even older. However, she’s an excellent editor, and I enjoy working with her; since we’re not being mutually ageist, but respecting each other’s work, it’s all good.

Had a restful sleep for once (now that the car stress is done). Still have lease renewal stress, but fingers crossed I’ll hear good news on that front soon.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me a little before 5. Completed the morning routine, and was out the door just before six. I was able to drive to the laundromat, instead of walking, which felt like the height of luxury.

While the laundry washed and dried, I worked on the revisions for CAST IRON MURDER. I had to re-revise the pages on which I’d worked at the mechanic’s last week. Caught a bunch of errors. I also marked a couple of places where I need to look something up and change a name, because it’s too similar to another name in the book. There are a few habits/routines that establish too late in the book, and I need to make initial references to them in the first or second chapter, or they look like they come out of nowhere. But I’ve got about the first third of the book done in first pass revisions, which is pretty good, considering I do most of it at the laundromat.

Getting some work done at the desk, then running errands (for which I need the car). It’s supposed to snow tomorrow, so I’ll stay in. Thursday, I have to pick up my birthday cake (I have a thing about not making my own cake for my birthday). I’m going to dig into the work today, tomorrow, and Thursday, so that I can take a three day weekend without guilt.

Anything I have to say about Ukraine and the Russian-owned GOP is repetitive at this point. Indict and prosecute the mo-fos already. It will only get worse from here.

Have a good one, friends! I’m headed back to the page.

Thurs. Feb. 17: I’ll Just Skip the Smelting, Thanks

image courtesy of Jalyn Bryce via pixabay.com

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Waning Moon

Rainy/mild/cloudy

I’ve got a post about the first seeds planted over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday was a bit of an exhausting mishmash. I had the laundry done and back by 7:30 AM, which is great. My foot was hurting, but after breakfast, I headed off to the grocery store with the rolly cart and did the next bit of stocking up. Even though most of the sidewalks and streets are passable, by the time I got everything home, my foot was in bad shape.

I’d gotten a positive response from an LOI I sent out yesterday, asking for more info. I sent all that off, and immediately got another response, asking what my target compensation was. I threw a fairly high number at them. They didn’t even blink, just said great, they were reviewing my materials. So we’ll see where that goes, if anywhere.

Another potential client situation is not going to work out. Although I’m interested in the work itself, the pay is too low for the work and the amount of work within each pay period, AND it’s going through a third party system with whom I don’t work, who takes a cut of the pay. So an already low-paid, high volume gig would pay even less.

But it reminded me that I have a big old file on similar-type companies that pay more and don’t work through this particular third party, so I will pull that up and see who’s still around and who’s worth pitching,

Did a tiny bit of collaborative brainstorming. Had some actual, good conversations on social media. Got some book recommendations. Set up the files for the projects containing short projects, so as I work on them, I can just save them into the appropriate file instead of having them in their own little files and then having to hunt them down.

Worked on script coverage. I’m behind where I hoped I’d be this week, but still on deadline, so it’s all good. I just have to push harder next week, because this pay period was too far below what I need/want it to be, although all bills will be paid on time. I’m just socking away as much as possible for the car repair, since I have no idea how much it will cost.

I roasted a chicken last night, which was delicious, and then made stock from the bones. I wish we had the capacity for a compost pile, but we don’t. I’d like to have a zero waste kitchen, or as close to that as possible. But we do as much as we can.

Finishing up the book for book club. I have meditation this morning. I have two sets of errands to carry out over the next few days. If it rains today (as it’s threatening), I will just do what I need to do across the street at the college library today and leave the longer walking errands for tomorrow. Which is a good idea, because then I can let my foot rest. I definitely need to invest in a cushioned, sturdy pair of walking sneakers this spring. I’m not used to walking this much, and not on concrete. So, I need good walking shoes or cross trainers.

I want to work on The Big Project, get some pitches out, and then it’s more script coverage and contest entries.

Yesterday, I saw a post about this full moon being a time for “smelting in the cauldron of transformation” and I’m like, no, no. I’ve had enough chaos for the past going on three years. I want a nap. No smelting, thank you very much. Let me rest.

Of course, Charlotte got me up at 4:30 this morning, so that wasn’t happening.

Published in: on February 17, 2022 at 7:42 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 17: I’ll Just Skip the Smelting, Thanks  
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Thurs. Jan. 6, 2022: The Sense of Time Running Out

image courtesy of anncapictures via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Cloudy, windy, cold

Twelfth Night

Next winter holiday cycle (2022 into 2023), I need to figure out how to earn enough so I can schedule time off from the Winter Solstice through the first week of January. I don’t know if it’s pandemic fatigue, burnout, car stress, or a combination, but I’m having a difficult time getting going this year. The Uranus, Venus, and upcoming Mercury retrogrades aren’t helping.

There’s a post on Gratitude and Growth about the seed catalogs.

The crows fly past for their morning visit, but it was the regular murder, not the murderati, and they weren’t upset, so whatever the threat was seems to be gone.

I coaxed the car to the grocery store, did a big shop, and managed to get back. Still trying to find a mechanic to fix it. It was stressful to coax the car there and back.

Too many people sneezing and coughing in the store, although everyone I saw was masked. On the one hand, one wants to judge them for not staying home. On the other hand, there’s no grocery delivery around here, and a lot of people are on their own, with no one who can help them.  They HAVE to go to the grocery store.

There were a lot of empty shelves at the store. Big brands, not local ones. Some of the trucks were caught up in the I-95 snow debacle and still haven’t made it up. But I got what I needed, most of what I wanted, and forgot a few things that had me kicking myself when I got back.

I was exhausted by the time I got back, and it was still morning. I got everything in just before the rain started, so at least that timing worked.

Then, some sort of siren went off. Not like someone’s house alarm, but an actual town-wide warning siren. Only I had no idea what it could be since this city isn’t great at communicating, something I hope the new mayor will fix. It was raining, but not tornado weather, so it couldn’t be the tornado siren. The sluice gates were open, so it was unlikely to flood. And no one was worried; everyone just went about their business. So I figured I shouldn’t worry, either.

But it’s stressful to hear a siren go off and not know why.

They’re considering closing schools in Pittsfield because of COVID spikes – but not switching to remote learning, which is majorly effed up.

Today is the year anniversary of the attempted coup by the Narcissistic Sociopath. And there are still too many people out there who should be in jail. I don’t want a “speech” from Garland. I want the traitors punished. None of this crap about how “it takes time” to build the case. First of all, it was broadcast live. Second, we don’t HAVE the time. Get it done or step aside for someone who will.

On a personal level, the fact that it happened on January 6th angers me, because Twelfth Night/Epiphany is a joyous day in my personal calendar.

Well, it will be joyous again if someone would ever do something about holding these traitors accountable. All they do is nothing, which emboldens the traitors.

I didn’t get any work done on The Big Project, and it threw off my entire day. I was out of sorts. I’ve been unsettled since the start of the year anyway, but skipping writing days on these projects makes it worse.

Struggled with the script coverages, and didn’t get enough done, so I have to finish today, while taking down the decorations. I’d hoped to bake a King Cake, but I don’t really have time.

A job description landed in my inbox, for a part-time, remote copywriting position wanting someone “feminine.” WTF does that have to do with writing good marketing copy? And whose definition of feminine” is being used? Some old white man’s? Talk about insulting.

Made a ham pot pie with leftovers. Don’t want to waste anything. It’s like a chicken pot pie, only using ham, cream of celery soup, vegetables, garlic, and onion, and topping it with a Bisquick crust. It was really good, but I’m not happy with the way the oven is calibrated. Outer edges brown quickly while middles underbake.

Befana night is being included in our holiday celebration schedule, so this morning, little gifts were at the breakfast plates. Large crystals, this year.

The computer was cranky this morning. I had to shut everything down and boot it all back up. It took for damn ever. This PC is not even two years old. My Mac worked well most of the time for ten years.

I have meditation group (thank goodness, maybe it will help me be less scattered). Then, I have to finish a script coverage, take down decorations, put dinner in the crockpot, read and write up another script coverage, take down more decorations. I’d planned not to write on the Big Project today, but I still feel unsettled. Hopefully, the power will stay on until I get out my coverages.

Some poor soul in the neighborhood has a car alarm that keeps going off. I was worried it was mine, but it’s not.

I was requested for a coverage to read a revision of a script I liked, but on which I had a few suggestions. I’m honored that the writer wants me to take a look at the revision.

I need to figure out how to rework my time on things. I just can’t knock things out as fast as I used to. It’s very frustrating, and I hope it’s just pandemic brain and not something worse. But whatever it is, I have to adjust and make it work for the work.

Have a good one.

Published in: on January 6, 2022 at 8:29 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Jan. 6, 2022: The Sense of Time Running Out  
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Wed. Nov. 24, 2021: Holiday Meal Prep

image courtesy of Sarah Chai via pexels.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

After yesterday’s quota on CAST IRON MURDER was met, I headed for the post office to mail the two packages (one overseas, one domestic that I wanted to arrive during Chanukah). The overseas rate has gone way up, but it’s the only package, so I’m not worried. The domestic package rate has gone up somewhat, but along what I expected.

Then, off to the library, to drop off and pick up books. To Big Y, for a few last-minute items.

Home, unpacked, and worked on script coverage. I was done about midafternoon. I have one more to read/write up before the holiday, but I was just too tired. Each script deserves my ability to concentrate and respond at top capability.

Leftovers for dinner. I’m trying to clean out the fridge to make room for turkey leftovers!

Pondering how I want to change things for next year, as far as work schedule, the way the workload is spread out, etc. I’m on the right track; I need to make a few decisions about where to put my focus and energy. I need to figure out the roster of projects I need/want to get done, and how to juggle them so I don’t burn out and can truly enjoy each of them.

I want to go back to Sundays (or at least one day a week) being disconnected from social media, email, etc. I want to use that day for yoga, meditation, projects I WANT to do, rather than things I feel I HAVE to get done before the next week starts. I want to shift some of my focus, copywriting-wise in the next few months, with a bigger emphasis on certain areas, while pulling back in others. I like the flexibility I have now, and I like taking what Americans consider a long-ish break in the middle of the day, even if it means working later at night.

Went to bed early. Tessa woke me up at 4:10. I moved to the bed in the sewing room, and she settled down, happy. Then Willa and Charlotte came to check in, and I gave up and got up.

Headed for the laundromat early, and got everything done in about an hour and a half. I was the only one there. Sometimes it’s creepy, but today, it wasn’t.

I worked on the outline for the second HEARTHSTONE book (the series started with CAST IRON MURDER). I’m calling that book THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, at least for the moment. Outlining is something I can do at the laundromat, because the hum of the machines gives the writing an underlying beat, and I can still be aware of what’s going on around me. If I’m deep in scene work, I’m not alert enough to my surroundings.

I realized I have to seed a couple of things in CAST IRON MURDER for it to make sense in KRINGLE CALAMTIY, so when I go back in a couple of months to revise CIM, I’ll seed them in. Unless I put them in as inserts in this draft. I forgot to write a scene in CIM that’s kind of important to set something up for the end of the book, so I’ll go back and do that this weekend. When I go back and revise, I have to clean up some timeline stuff; it’s too vague the way it is right now.

Made some notes on the project with which I’ve been playing. It’s still mostly world-building and character relationship notes, although I’m starting to feel more than see how the first three major arcs will go.

When I came back, after breakfast, I wrote 2951 words on CAST IRON MURDER. I realized about two pages of this chapter needed to be the end of the previous chapter, not the opening of this one, so I moved them back into that chapter, and then this chapter made more sense. I need to smooth out a bit of logic, which I can do once I’ve added the insert scenes.

One more chapter (and insert scenes) and I’m done with this draft.

Since it’s not a contracted, deadlined project, I can then put it aside to rest and marinate for two months, before I start working on revisions.

And get back to my contracted, deadlined projects.

I hope to do the revision of “A Rare Medium” early next week, and get that in before deadline. I’m hoping to start the Marie Corelli play this weekend.

I got through about 500 emails this morning. I’m trying to get (and keep) the email situation under control.

I’m a little concerned, because the COVID numbers are going up again here, and Pittsfield is back in the red zone. Since we were shopping in Pittsfield last weekend, I’m monitoring us.

I have one more script to cover, and I’m done for the holidays. I’m debating reading another couple of scripts Saturday/Sunday, in case the COVID booster knocks me out Monday/Tuesday. I’ll see how I feel on the weekend. My brain needs the break.

I’ve got some baking to do this afternoon – cheddar and apple turnovers, an apple/ginger cake, and possibly the chocolate walnut butter bread. Or I might do the bread over the weekend.

Tomorrow morning, I make the stuffing and put the turkey in the oven. I’m serving it with traditional mashed potatoes and homemade turkey giblet gravy, peas, and I’m doing my carrot-parsnip dish in mushroom sauce. I have a bottle of local hard cider from Berkshire Cider Project that I bought specifically for the meal.

Friday, we start the winter holiday decorating, and work on the domestic cards. Sunday is already the First of Advent and the beginning of Chanukah. At the very least, I need to get the Advent table up.

Yes, there will be photos, especially since this is the first time we’re decorating this space, and it will be very different from the past ten years in the Cape house!

Monday, I get my COVID booster in the morning, mixing Pfizer with my previous Moderna shots. Hopefully, I won’t have strong side effects. My mom had 3 Pfizers, with barely any side effects, except sore arm and fatigue. My first two Moderna shots kicked my ass.

Have a lovely weekend, my friends. Enjoy the holiday. Rest, eat, enjoy.

Fri. May 16, 2014: Busy Times — But Good Busy!

Friday, May 16, 2014
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and muggy

The lilacs are in bloom. They are so pretty! I’ll post photos soon.

Yesterday morning was such chaos, I don’t even want to get into it. But the script episode went out, I made it to the Marine Life Center Board Meeting (late, but I got there), and found out I was elected Clerk. So now, I hold offices on two boards!

Dashed to work, even found the Marstons Mills Post Office on my way — which was in a completely different place than I expected! Too funny!

Busy day at the library — I ordered some cozy mysteries and some science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal to expand our collection, some new CDs, and I’ve got my eye on some graphic novels. I landed a speaker I really, really wanted for June (he wrote a book I think is terrific), and I was asked to present a workshop at the library in early June. I’m also working on my presentation (and the infamous Tip Sheets) next week at the Cape Cod Writers Center Writers Night Out on Writer’s Block.

Dashed to the store for a bunch of stuff I forgot when I did the Big Grocery Shop the day before, came home, had a glass of wine on the deck, cooked dinner, read something I wanted to read just for me, but collapsed into bed pretty early — I’d gotten up at 4 AM that day!

Up early this morning (darn cats). Tessa and I went out, I’m taking care of a few things, and then I’m headed back to the library for another busy day.

The weekend will be busy, too — tomorrow, some of us from the Mermaid Ball Committee are heading up to Plymouth to look at the venue, and then, in the afternoon, is the Preakness. Sunday, I will probably just collapse — although I have to mow!

I also have to finish revisions on the first two episodes, revise episode three and get the final galleys turned around for TRACKING MEDUSA — AND finish the next book I’m reviewing for my editor.

Maybe sleep somewhere in there, too?

Devon