Fri. Dec. 20, 2019: Heading into Holidays

Friday, December 20, 2019
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was crazy busy and today is the same. Deliveries, finishing client projects, getting out the last few cards. One more present to wrap — all the shopping is done.

We re-watched WHITE CHRISTMAS last night — I could watch Vera-Ellen and Danny Kaye dance for days. There are still some “ouch” moments, but nowhere near the racism of HOLIDAY INN.

Overslept this morning, then made another batch of Tollhouse Cookies. Ran to the store for the last bits I need for Solstice Dinner tomorrow, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

I have a long day at the client’s on Monday, and then a shorter one on Tuesday, and then I’m off for the rest of the week, as far as clients go. I still have to finish THE QUALITY OF LIGHT, but that’s going to be my focus, other than enjoying the holidays.

Have a great one, and I’ll talk to you on the other side of them!

Published in: on December 20, 2019 at 10:18 am  Comments Off on Fri. Dec. 20, 2019: Heading into Holidays  
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Mon. Dec. 9, 2019: The Joy of Mixing Holiday Traditions & Creating Your Own #upbeatauthors

image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures via

Monday, December 9, 2019
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

One of the things I loved about living in NYC and working in theatre was that we had an international community and all shared our holiday traditions.

I often joke that, for me, the holiday season starts on October 31 (Samhain/Halloween) and lasts until January 6 (Twelfth Night).

Only it’s not really a joke.

Today is December 9. Sunday, December 1 was the First of Advent. We have a table with an advent wreath, and one candle for each of the Four Advents, plus the bayberry candle at the center that is lit on Christmas Eve. We burn the candle, adding one each Advent, until we burn down all five on Christmas Eve.

We have red ribbons hanging down the sides of our doors and windows, topped with pinecones and other decorations. We fasten the cards we receive to those ribbons, so we can enjoy them all month, and have fond memories of our friends.

On the night of December 5 going into December 6, we celebrated St. Nicholas Day. We put out a shoe (a clean one, or one with a little bowl tucked in it) and in the morning, it’s filled with candy, and maybe a funny little toy. This is a tradition both my parents celebrated as children in Germany.

This upcoming Friday the 13th, we will celebrate Santa Lucia, with white candles and spicy cookies. There’s a lovely Scandinavian festival at a nearby Lutheran church, and we often attend. Sometimes, during this time, one of the Episcopalian churches in the area has a concert of Celtic harp music, which we also enjoy.

When possible, we pop into Boston to see THE NUTCRACKER. (In NYC, I saw it at NYC Ballet, where one of my friends is a dresser). If we don’t get to go and see it, at the very least, we play the music.

Over the weeks, we watch favorite holiday movies like WHITE CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, MIRACLE ON 34TH ST., ELF — and often try some new ones.

On the 21st, is my biggest celebration of the season, the Winter Solstice. At sunset, we let the entire house go dark. Then, we light the fire in the fireplace. From there, we light the candles. Then, we turn on lamps and the outside lights, to welcome the turn of the wheel and the return of the Sun. It’s on a weekend, so I’ll be able to stay up through the dark night and get some sleep the next day! The following night, at sundown, Hanukkah begins. I miss celebrating it with my NYC friends.

We celebrate, German-style, more on Christmas Eve than on Christmas Day — and open our gifts on the night of Christmas Eve. Then, we settle in, Icelandic-style, and read one of our new books that night. We also burn a bayberry candle for good luck.

Christmas Day is about food and music and reading. And the stockings. We open our stockings Christmas morning — and eat panettone for breakfast.

Then comes Boxing Day. We generally rest and read and work on leftovers. And the beginning of Kwanzaa. When I lived in NYC, I joined my neighbors in their nightly Kwanzaa celebration.

I do a meditation retreat on New Year’s Eve, to start the New Year mindfully. It also means a good meal, another bayberry candle that straddles midnight, and prosecco. At a minute before midnight, we open the back door to let the old year out. At a minute after midnight, we open the front door to let the New Year in!

They don’t do First Footing out here on Cape Cod, which is a shame, because I love that tradition — right after midnight, you let in a dark-haired neighbor in the front door first, and offer a dram of whisky for luck.

New Year’s Day is about pork before noon (usually Eggs Benedict) and then a big meal later in the day. Relaxing.

I usually keep my decorations up until Twelfth Night (January 6). Most years, I have a party on Twelfth Night, no matter what day of the week that is, and then take down the decorations on the 7th. The last few years, we’ve been snowed out. I have a feeling I will take my decorations down this year on the 4th & 5th, because it’s the weekend, and I’ll have the time.

As new friends come into the mix and share their traditions, I add them in, too.

What are your favorite traditions of the season?

Mon. Dec. 17, 2018: Emotional Thrift #upbeatauthors

Monday, December 17, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

‘Tis the season of running around spreading cheer. So why am I talking about emotional thrift? Aren’t we supposed to be generous at this “most wonderful time of the year?”

Being happy and spreading cheer does not mean letting others take advantage of us.

For authors, freelancers, and other creatives who work remotely, from a home office, and set their own hours, it happens to often. “You’re home anyway, so can you just . . .?”

It happens ALL year, but the demands increase during the holiday season.

I don’t mind accepting packages for neighbors (and they do the same for me, or we’d never get anything we ordered). When neighbors or friends are sick or laid up somehow, I’ll grocery shop and run to the post office and pay their bills and run their errands. That’s all fine. We all help each other out.

What gets my goat is when people who aren’t close, who fall into the “barely acquaintance” circle rather than the “close friends” circle start making demands. Not asking for help, but making a DEMAND because “you don’t work, so you have plenty of time.”

Buttercup, I GUARANTEE I work longer and harder than you’ve ever dreamed of working. I wouldn’t have made it to Broadway, and I wouldn’t be a full-time writer now if I didn’t.

So, no, your DEMANDS do not fit into my schedule. Yes, I’m working, and no, I can’t be interrupted.

When I’m writing, I do not accept interruptions. Period. Phone’s off, I don’t answer the door.

I am ruthless about uninterrupted writing time. Or I couldn’t earn a living at it.

When people make unfair demands, I say, “My schedule doesn’t allow for it, sorry.” Making sure the “sorry” doesn’t sound sorry at all.

If they protest or try to guilt me, I add, “This isn’t a negotiation.”

The holidays, especially, are a time to SPEND my time with those I CHOOSE, not to rearrange my time to accommodate those who wrongly they feel they have a right to MY time because THEIR time is more valuable. It’s not.

That doesn’t mean I don’t keep an eye out for someone struggling during the holidays (which can be rough for some people), and that I don’t try to help them or include them or just take them out for a cup of coffee or a walk to LISTEN to them.

Again, they are people on which I CHOOSE to spend time.

If you start practicing emotional thrift now, it will get easier during the rest of the year. You’ll lessen the stress in your own life, because you are living YOUR life, not being an unpaid assistant in someone else’s.

Be happy, be well, enjoy the season!

Published in: on December 17, 2018 at 6:32 am  Comments Off on Mon. Dec. 17, 2018: Emotional Thrift #upbeatauthors  
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Tues. Dec. 27, 2016: Calm Holiday, Making Plans

Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Day before Dark Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Second Day of Christmas
Second Day of Kwanzaa
Fourth Day of Hannukah
Stormy, windy, rainy, mild

It was a nice holiday weekend. Quiet on our part. Lots of reading, some planning, lots of eating. We spent Christmas Day with friends. It was nice.

Yesterday was a serious writing day. 26 pages on JUST A DROP. I love the shape the play is taking. It’s very naturally flowing into something that plays well. I’m excited to see where it takes me today. It goes out on Friday, so I have to dig in these last few days.

For the twelve days of Christmas, I can’t remember my dreams on either of the first two, so I hope that means January and February will be relatively quiet months.

I’ve been working on my GDR Wrap Up, which will post on Saturday, and on my GDRs and writing schedule for next year. We don’t even know if we have a future, so it sort of feels like I’m hedging my bets. But I intend to proceed, as long as I can, as though I do have a future, and sort out a writing schedule. I need to get a lot done. I’m giving myself more time for first drafts, which is probably a good thing. I just hope I can juggle as many projects as need juggling.

I’ve got some other stuff I’m working on, stuff I can’t yet talk about publicly. Don’t you hate it when someone posts like that? I certainly do. But it’s exciting, and while the initial planning may not pan out in the way it’s intended at the start, I think it opens some doors that may be worthwhile over the coming few years.

Along with that, I’m starting to think in terms of where I want to be in a year, in three years, in five years — even thought the Sociopathic Narcissist will probably cause a nuclear disaster by April. Still, I’d rather my final thoughts be, “damn, I didn’t get a chance to do that” rather than not having anything planned in the first place.

Planning the menu for New Year’s. We will have a quiet one at home. I hate going out for that holiday. Too much desperation for a good time. I’ve had too many miserable New Years in company. I’m much happier doing yoga and meditating.

Back to the page. I’m focusing only on the play this week. Next week, it’s back to NOT BY THE BOOK, figuring out the rest of THE FIX-IT GIRL, and drafting the short stories that are due at the end of January.



Published in: on December 27, 2016 at 10:46 am  Comments Off on Tues. Dec. 27, 2016: Calm Holiday, Making Plans  
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Wed. Jan. 6, 2016: Starting Out the New Year Right!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Because, really, what better what to start off the New Year than with a Mercury Retrograde? Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

The holidays were good. Busy, busy, but good. I’m exhausted. I feel like I need about a month to sleep and do nothing.

That’s not an option, of course.

Ran around a bit when work closed at noon on New Year’s Eve. But, once settled at home, it was all good. Saw in the New Year with a good meal and prosecco. Up early on the Day for the Fire & Ice ritual, eggs benedict, more prosecco, and some good writing on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. Made the dips for the party.

Worked on Saturday, ran some errands, got in the liquor for the party, made more food. Also, rearranging the house. It looked really pretty. I’m going to sort and purge as I bring stuff back, so that the year doesn’t clutter again.

The party was Sunday afternoon. The right mix of people showed up. It was fun, and I’m glad that I did the party again — although it was a “Nine Ladies Dancing Party” instead of a “Twelfth Night” party. After two years of being snowed out, it was nice to have it again.

When people left, did a pile of dishes, put away as much as possible from the party. Collapsed into bed early. Woke up at 4 AM on Monday, and started taking down the holiday decorations. Twelve hours later, most of it was done. Not all, but most. There are still a few dribs and drabs to finish. But most of it is put away safely in the Christmas closet. I have to do the laundry and put away the fabric, and do a few more little things.

It snowed on Monday night into Tuesday. Not much, just enough to be pretty and slippery. I went over to a friend’s on Tuesday morning — a group of us gathered to help with a contest where the ball was dropped, and get it back on track. Although the people were great and I got a lot done, it reminded me why I am no longer a part of that group.

Knitting was fun last night. Turns out one of the women in the group lived near us in Westchester, and her mother-in-law is best friends with the mother of an actor I worked with both on and off-Broadway. Small world!

365 Women is pleased with “Confidence Confidant” and would like me to do another play this year. I sent them a pitch, so we’ll see. I have two unique women about whom I’d really like to write, so we’ll see what we come up with.

I also have to get back on track with BALTHAZAAR, CHOLERIC, TIE-CUTTER, and finish the short radio play.

The Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions Site will have more going on this year. Instead of just sharing lists, there will also be posts on getting and staying organized, and on motivation. So I hope you visit the site a few times a month, or set it so you get notifications when new posts come up.

I’m already starting to plan the garden for the coming spring. I am determined not to suffer from blossom rot again with my tomatoes!

This year, I’m trying to figure out how different parts of my creativity feed each other, and encourage that integration.

Hope you’re setting yourself up for a wonderful new year!


Published in: on January 6, 2016 at 11:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Fri. Oct. 9, 2015: Nano Dilemma

Friday, October 9, 2015
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury goes DIRECT today
Rainy and cool

Busy day yesterday. Promotion for next week’s event, cataloging, putting together a book order, getting the schedule organized for the Nano Come Write in! sessions. I was the only staff person in the library for the last part of the day – and, of course, after a quiet day, patron-wise, it got nutty. But it was handled.

It’s awfully tempting to do the full Nano next month – it would be a good time to get the bulk of SONGBOUND SISTERS done or the aviation mystery. But I’m worried about juggling too many projects. TIE-CUTTER is going very well, at its steady pace. The historical play needs another big push, so that I can finish it and send it out (it also needs a title). I have proposal packets to get out. I’m worried that starting a new project will sabotage what’s going well.

I’m still in the Hollywood section of TIE-CUTTER. I might well have to cut some of this, but, for the moment, I’m writing all of it. I only expected to spend a couple of pages in LA before heading to Iceland and then to Scotland, where the bulk of the story will take place.

Today is a work colleague’s birthday, so we’re going to make it a special day for her. Tomorrow is my Saturday “on”, and then I have a lot of writing and garden stuff to do over the weekend. The landlord’s insurance company is coming to inspect the house on Tuesday, and then I have a Spectacle of the Trees meeting in the afternoon. Next week will be busy, too, with a state-wide meeting about working with local authors and a program on Day of the Dead customs.

Samhain is quickly approaching, and then we’re into the holiday season. We already had to put the heat on as of October 2. Even if it’s a cold winter, I hope we won’t have as much snow.

On the radio, they talked about this being one of the biggest travel weekends of the year. Glad I’m staying home!


Published in: on October 9, 2015 at 8:32 am  Comments Off on Fri. Oct. 9, 2015: Nano Dilemma  
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Mon. Dec. 26: Yuletide Ghosts/Jupiter Direct

Monday, December 26, 2011
Waxing Moon
NO Retrogrades!
Rainy and mild

I’ve got a piece on “Yuletide Ghosts” (as Annabel Aidan) over on the Stuff Your Stockings Blogfest on Long & Short Romance. If you leave a comment, you can win a copy of my holiday romantic comedy “Just Jump in and Fly” (under the Ava Dunne name).

Jupiter went direct yesterday — could you feel it pop? We are now retrograde-free for awhile. Feels a little weird, but god.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend. I ran around a bit on Saturday, getting a few last minute things, like real greenery to go inside. Went to a friend’s party for a bit on Saturday night, then came home, cooked the Christmas Eve dinner for the family and we enjoyed it.

A bit different this year — filet mignon instead of the usual pork roast. Very tasty.

We sat around opening gifts, reading, talking — it was well after midnight before we went to bed.

Up early the next day to enjoy the stockings, eat a big breakfast, and get the turkey into the oven. Great turkey meal with all the trimmings, again lots of reading and writing and chatting with family and friends. The cats had a stocking of their own, filled with treats and toys and catnip. They enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

Got a lot of writing done — not on anything I was SUPPOSED to work on, but something I wanted to work on, just because I wanted to. Did a lot of reading, too.

Today I’m mostly taking off — doing some writing, getting thank you notes and party invites out. I’m trying to take it a little easy this week, mostly prepping the lesson plans for the first quarter of next year, get up my new lesson forum for private students (separate from Savvy Authors classes), work on my new business plan, etc. I plan to really buckle down on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, too. I want to get that out the door just after the first of the year, then run my eye over OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK before I send that out, per publisher’s request, just after the first of the year.

It’s busy, but good busy. I have to keep on track and not get overwhelmed, or derailed by students who continue to procrastinate. I hope we don’t lose any more of the year-long students but they MUST finish their first drafts by January 31, or they will be cut from the class. And several of them are still procrastinating. Come on, people, it’s been five months. The only obstacle to your success at this point is you.

A thousand words a day — four pages — is next to nothing. It takes just over an hour. It means you can write a draft a novel in about four months. If you’re gonna do this for a living, you’re gonna have to write a damn bit more than that, regularly, and stay on track. An hour a day does not a career make.

I have to get my office sorted out. It looks like a tornado hit it. Well, it was a kitten, but same result. And it’s not JUST the kitten’s fault – -I’ve been stacking and searching and not being as neat as I should be. I want to go into the new year with a tidy office — not just because of company and the party, but for my own well-being.

I’m excited about 2012.


Fri. Dec. 9: Acceleration

Friday, December 9, 2011
Day before the Full Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Worked hard yesterday, dealt with some student issues and lots of errands. Still no baking. But I got a ton of stuff done, and yoga was great.

I was wiped out by the evening, but managed to learn how to use Savvy Authors’ Webinar software — thanks to a tutorial given by the wonderful tech maven. That’s going to help me develop the interactive seminars I’m going to try early next year.

Excellent session on the book this morning. I might still move some of these early chapters back into Book 1 — I have to see how the entire piece shapes. But at least I’m moving forward.

I’ve got some gifts to wrap and mail today, baking to start. The garage bins are full, so it’s time to go to the dump to get rid of garbage, recycling, and leaves.

The weekend is busy — my own writing, reading a friend’s manuscript, the Holly Walk, the Santa Lucia celebration, and the town stroll. They take their holiday strolling very seriously here; I didn’t stroll last year, but this year, since I”m involved in one of the organizations that’s town-related, I am REQUIRED to stroll. Eek.

Better get a move on!


Today’s word count (Book 2) 1729
Total word count (Book 2): 8,821

Published in: on December 9, 2011 at 9:39 am  Comments (3)  
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Yesterday was pretty much a lost day, since I was crippled by a migraine, so I have to make up for it today. I had to run some errands yesterday, and had a terrible time getting my car back into the parking spot. The lot is like a sheet of ice. Heaven forbid the scumbags who get a monthly fee for the parking slots actually do anything like, oh, put salt or sand on it.

Anyway, the car slid and is now at an angle. I can’t get any traction to straighten it out and I’m afraid of hitting the car beside me if I try to move it. So I either have to skitter down today with boiling water (you try keeping a kettle hot enough to go down three flights of stairs and then two blocks to the lot in single digit weather and still be able to melt ice), kitty litter and a shovel to try to melt the ice behind the car long enough to back the car out safely and get it back in, or wait until it thaws and rains tomorrow and the ice washes away. I can’t risk hurting both my car and the car in the slot beside me. She can get her car out if she maneuvers straight back, but I can’t go anywhere on the ice unless she’s out of her spot.

I have some presents to wrap, but that’s it. I got to the bookstore yesterday for the last gifts for my mom. I was delighted to see that the bookstore was PACKED. Granted, it’s a small space, but the line wound the entire length of the store, and the poor clerks couldn’t keep up.

The Congress Corners story is almost done, and, if Nitro PDF deigns to work later today, I ought to be able to get it ready for the free download tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

Slow progress on OFDW revision, but we’re getting there.

I’m packed for the site jobs the coming weekend. I still have to pack my writing bag and the food, but everything else is done. I have one or two more things to pick up at the store, and yes, it’s almost time to bake bread again. I can’t tell if the homemade loaves are just smaller or if we eat more because they’re better.

If I join Costco, I’ll probably buy the 20 pound bags of flour. It makes more sense.

Hope you’re all having a good few days sliding into the holidays.


Published in: on December 23, 2008 at 10:12 am  Comments (6)  
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Sunday, December 14, 2008



Sunday, December 14, 2008
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise today and read all about Toni Sweeney’s wonderful work – her LAST ADVENTURES OF SINBAD SINGH makes my TBR pile!

Tired. Still don’t feel really well.

Did five loads of laundry yesterday. Unfortunately, my friend’s dryer conked out after two loads, so I brought three wet loads of sheets, towels, etc. home and have draped them all over the place. Not the prettiest of decorating, if I say so myself.

I worked diligently on the Christmas cards, and still only got about half-way through the M’s, so I have a great deal more work to do today. I want to finish the cards and get them out tomorrow, along with the packages.

Got home to intercept the mail carrier and receive a lovely box filled with things like stollen, mints, etc. – perfect holiday treats. Needless to say, I’m not waiting the week and change to dive into it!

Actually found something worth watching last night, on the Ion Channel – HOGFATHER, based on the Terry Pratchett novel. The novel is one of my all-time favorites. I think it’s one of the funniest and also piercing novels I’ve ever read. I have mixed feelings about the TV movie. The production design was gorgeous. Many of the actors were well cast, especially Michelle Dockery, who played Susan, and Marc Warren, who played Teatime. Their performances were beautifully detailed and nuanced. However, Pratchett’s dialogue is witty and sparkling – and this film was four hours long. The pace was dreadful. The images, the framing, the production design, the casting – all were wonderful. And although the jump cuts were jarring between scenes, the pace of the actual scenes was often dreadful. The scenes were directed as though intoning Shakespeare for those who weren’t bright enough to understand it, instead of the bright, sharp, staccato wit that Pratchett has in the book.

Having a hard time getting started this morning. I have more laundry to deal with – the stuff that’s dry gets to be put away, and the next set of wet stuff set out. Cards to write, the assignment for Confidential Job #2 to complete, and gifts to make.

What I’d like to do is to go back to bed. Unfortunately, that’s not an option.


Published in: on December 14, 2008 at 10:05 am  Comments (4)  
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Saturday, December 13, 2008


Saturday, December 13, 2008
Waning Moon
Sunny and Cold

Check me out! Yep, it’s finally my turn on Stacy Dawn’s Christmas Blogfest. Come visit here, leave a comment, and enter to win a prize!

When you’re done with that, hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, where I’m hosting author Colin Harvey – he writes fascinating, scary stuff!

Because of computer problems, I was later than I liked getting into the city. But I got there, did my errands, turned around to head back. I was going to indulge myself with some magazines for the train home – only the issues on the newsstand were so lame that I just bought a newspaper instead. Oh, well. All the magazines seem so diluted. There are no individual voices and they don’t let the writers’ individual voices shine through any more.

Got some work done on the assignment for Confidential Job #2, and then headed out of town to spend time at a friend’s. A group of us were talking a few days ago about tight finances for the holidays, and we decided that instead of giving each other gifts, we’d give each other a day. In other words, a group of us got together last night to cook an amazing meal and spend time together – the first time we’ve done so in more than a year, all together. Rather than schedule the night far out and then have people cancel, we committed to last night. Like on Wednesday.

When I talk about an amazing meal, I mean an amazing meal – appetizer served in espresso cups, a soup course, a fish course, a salad course, an entrée with vegetables and a bit of pasta on the side, a cheese course, and then dessert, coffee, and liqueur. Wonderful wines with the meal and even better conversation.

The show had called me to come in, but I was already headed out and not about to turn back. Had they caught me while I was still in the city, I would have considered it, but a six hour commute (which is what two round trips to the theatre add up to) and two sets of expensive train tickets? For one show? I lose money on that deal. And give up this gift my friends and I were giving each other? I weighed the pros and cons and went to the dinner instead. And I’m glad I did, because it renewed important bonds. And it was a lovely gift for us all to give each other – time together while sharing food.

Be very afraid – I’m knitting. It’s kind of lame, but I’ll never get better if I don’t practice. Of course, I chose a complicated yarn, but at least it hides the flaws. What am I knitting, do you ask? Haven’t decided yet what it will be.

Anyway, I had a lovely evening and am on a borrowed computer this morning. I’ll spend the day relaxing out here, doing laundry (yes, in addition to filling up my car with supplies to cook the course for which I was responsible, I filled it up with laundry) and write my cards in the solarium. I’ll head back tonight.

Of course, I brought some writing with me, too, and my yoga mat. Thank goodness my very small car expands to meet need. And there are dogs and cats here, so I’m right at home.

I hope you have a lovely Saturday.