Wed. December 24, 2020: Merry Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Waxing Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Stormy and mild

Big storm coming in today. I’ll have to take in some decorations, and be prepared for power outages.

I have a post over on Gratitude and Growth about birch and holly – since it’s the first day of the month of birch and we love holly this season. Well, I love it all year, but. . .

Yesterday was more stressful than it should have been, and I have to have an uncomfortable conversation with a client in the next few weeks that will not end well. But it is necessary.

I was happy to get home, decontaminate.

Remote chat was fun.

My flash fiction “Holiday Transformations” is up, both as a podcast and in transcript form, as part of this year’s Weird Christmas anthology. It’s a great group of flash pieces – I’m so delighted to be part of it.

Spent the rest of the afternoon finishing the book for review. I will write it this morning and get it off.

The order I was waiting for – the last gift – arrived. The quality is quite wonderful. I considered re-thinking my decision to stop doing business with that particular vendor/artist – when an email came in. It was supposedly to thank customers; what it actually contained was a self-congratulatory, delusional, and arrogant diatribe, claiming the vendor’s “ambition” was at the root of the lack of customer service (say what?) and how she was ignoring criticisms because they made her feel bad.

You do you, honey, but I’m no longer a part of that journey.

Unsubscribed from the mailing list and unfollowed on social media channels. I realize she’s young and it’s rough to run a small business, but wow. Not going to be around that.

I found my recipes for bath salts, and I can adapt it to bath bombs. I can get molds from craft stores, and re-stock essential oils, source small crystals, and go back to making them myself. It’s not like I’m doing them for anyone except myself and friends who might like it. And I won’t have to worry about the stress of poor customer service and all the hypocrisy and bombast. A much better choice all around.

Another order arrived – a treat for myself that I wasn’t expecting until New Year’s.

Got the last present wrapped and under the tree – with help from Tessa and Willa. Charlotte’s not into wrapping gifts, but the other two love it.

Woke up a little after two this morning, and couldn’t get back to sleep. Fretting too much.

But planned the next section of the ghost ship story, and some upcoming blog posts, so that’s all good.

Today, I’m sending off the review, doing some edits on one, maybe two stories, writing the next section of the ghost ship story, and seeing what else I feel like doing. I am safely home, prepped for the storm, and planning to enjoy the holiday.

Although I don’t celebrate the religious aspect of Christmas anymore (since my spiritual beliefs have taken me down a different path, and Solstice was my big celebration), I enjoy family traditions and joys of the season.

Dinner tonight is cod paella – it’s been marinating in wine and spices overnight. I’m also making a layered parfait of chocolate and lemon mousses for dessert.

We don’t have Panettone for breakfast tomorrow – I couldn’t find one in the store that didn’t look leftover from last year, and I used the only fruit peel I had for the stollen. So I will make scrambled eggs with smoked salmon for breakfast. The big meal is Cornish hen with all the trimmings. If the power is out, I will have to figure out how to do it on the stove top rather than the oven.

Whichever way it works out, it will work out.

We open our gifts on the Eve and have stockings on the Day.

Tonight, we observe the Icelandic tradition of reading books! One of my favorite additions to the holiday.

I wish you peace, joy, safety, and comfort – both physically and emotionally. Peace, my friends, and I’ll catch up with you again next week.

Published in: on December 24, 2020 at 6:49 am  Comments Off on Wed. December 24, 2020: Merry Christmas Eve!  
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

In case you’re wondering why I ignored the apostrophe in my mention of Patriots’ Day, it’s because I wasn’t sure where to put it – I’ve seen it done as Patriot’s, meaning one patriot, which doesn’t seem right; Patriots’, meaning everyone in MA who wasn’t a Tory, which makes more sense; and Patriots, meaning there are a lot of individuals running around, but there’s no possession of the day. I checked with the State, and the correct usage is Patriots’ Day — a day belonging to multiple Patriots (and I don’t just mean the football team) in the state.

Of course, then I forgot it was Patriots’ Day and such a big deal, and tried to take a load of recycling to the dump. The dump, of course, was closed, because it’s a state facility and state workers were off being patriotic for Patriots’ Day! 😉

By accident, I came across a review of GAME OF THRONES written by a local reviewer, who happens to be a woman. She had the exact same response to the piece that I had in regard to the sex scenes, which I thought was interesting. I’m curious to see if other reviews split along genre lines on that aspect.

Trotted around to gardening stores. Got inspired to do something different than I originally planned for the front — once it’s warm enough to put anything in there! Instead of just putting in a row of pansies, I think I’ll mix them with English daisy and candytuft. I’d never thought much about candytuft from the photos, but, when I saw it in person,I really, really liked it.

I also got my Blue Prince and Blue Princess small holly trees, pots, and soil. I’m so excited.

I spent the afternoon repotting the rapidly growing plants inside, starting some new seeds, and cleaning up the front yard. There’s still work to be done, but it’s better. I’ll write about it in detail in tomorrow’s Gratitude and Growth.

It felt good to spend the day away from the computer and immerse myself in physical activity, where I could actually see results right away.

I searched and searched to figure out what the lovely, flowering magenta bush is on the side of the house, but no luck. I’d like to know what it is so I can take care of it properly!

Today, I’ll make up for it. Supposedly, it will rain intermittently today, so no yard work for me. I’ll stay inside and write, which is a pretty good way to spend the day, too! 😉 I’m looking forward to having a few days where my own writing is the primary focus, without other commitments pulling me in all directions.

Devon

Published in: on April 19, 2011 at 6:46 am  Comments (7)  
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Monday, December 6, 2010


Winterberry

Monday, December 6, 2010
Waxing Moon
Uranus DIRECT (as of yesterday)
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy & cold

What a fun weekend. Really busy, but tons of fun.

Found my way to the Ashumet Sanctuary on Saturday morning. It’s lovely. I was a little irritated at some of the people — out of towners — who came up, paid their fee as though they were doing the walk, then greedily stuffed their shopping bags with holly boughs and waddled off without doing the walk. You know what? Go to the holly fairs for that, okay?

The group that stayed for the walk was a nice, mixed group, the guide was terrific and knowlegeable, and it was a lovely way to spend the morning. I had no idea that there were over 150 types of holly (there are 65 at the sanctuary). Turns out the mystery bush in my backyard is one of the varieties of holly! It has berries, so it’s a female bush, which means there must be a male bush somewhere in pollination distance!

It’s a lovely sanctuary, formerly a farm, then a holly farm, now a sanctuary specializing in the the types of holly from the time it was a farm. It also has a lovely kettle pond (no inlet or outlet) with all kinds of fascinating vegetation and wild life.

I learned how to recognize winterberry and inkberry (types of holly). I still have no idea what actual bayberry looks like (not a type of holly).

There’s a lot of lichen around, and I learned that lichen only grows when there’s excellent air quality. Guess that explains why we had none where I lived, especially after the scumbag landlords started using pesticides again and all kinds of toxic materials in the building.

At the end of the walk, we filled our bags with pruned boughs (everyone left was very considerate of each other), chatted, and had a good time.

Turns out the wife of the guide (who’s the director of the Long Pasture sanctuary) is a costume designer who used to work for a well-known rep theatre outside of Boston. So we had a LOT to talk about, and will get together when Costume Imp comes after the New Year. In fact, Costume Imp and I are thinking of having a little Twelfth Night soiree to gather together the various theatre people I’ve met on the Cape who’ve somehow all come into contact with me, but don’t yet know each other. And we might toss some others into the mix.

Anyway, came home, had lunch, we headed out to look for small trees for the front of the house. I want real ones, not artificial. Found a lovely garden center over in Marstons Mills — absolutely top quality merchandise, but more expensive than I felt comfortable with. I fell IN LOVE with a wintergreen bush, but it was way out of my price range right now. But, goodness, did I want it. I can do all kinds of stuff with wintergreen. Again, the quality’s worth it, but I have to watch my budget. There’s still a lawn mower to buy and furniture for the deck. Went to a nearby hardware store to pick up some stuff I forgot, but didn’t like the vibe, so I left. I’ll go back to Osterville on Monday instead. Went to the big Christmas Tree Shop by the Sagamore Bridge to get replacement bulbs — I’ve already knocked over one of the candle lamps. I’d like to blame a cat, but they’re more careful than I am!

Made ratatouille, tuna steaks with lemon caper sauce, and rice for dinner. Just barely had time to put the dishes in the dishwasher, change, and put on a little makeup, and we had to leave for the concert.

It wasn’t very far, about a ten or fifteen minute drive, up at a lovely church in Barnstable. And it was fun to see how people have decorated. One house on 6A looks like a carnival, but most of it is very understated New England — candle lamps in all the windows, lights on outdoor trees, some oversized candy canes up the walk, etc. And I noticed that, this year, many, many of the trees out front are small in proportion to the size of the house, which makes me think I could get away with it out front.

The concert was performed by Thom Dutton, and it was absolutely lovely — readings from A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES alternated with Cornish, Welsh, and Breton carols sung and performed on a variety of harps. I love harp music, so it was such a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening. Just wonderful.

Drove home and discovered one of my rear lamps is half out. Poor little thing. I have to call the VW place in Hyannis when they open this morning to see if they can fit me in some time in the next few days. I planned to go to the DMV tomorrow to get that all sorted, but if my light’s not working, I need to get that fixed first.

Watched some TV, read a bit, went to bed at a reasonable hour. Up early Sunday morning (the cats were playing on the bed and Iris rolled off), yoga, meditation, etc. New moon on Sunday.

Got the Sunday papers. Imagine my surprise when I turned to the local section of the local paper and there was an article about yesterday’s holly walk (great) with a picture of me (not great). First of all, we had no idea the walk was being covered for the paper, and I certainly was not approached to give permission to use my image. I would have said no — I have a “no photos” policy, period. Also, as the male photographer should know, you do not photograph the neck of a woman over 40. Period. It’s rude. Fortunately, unlike Nora Ephron, I do NOT feel bad about my neck, I have no reason to yet (it doesn’t yet give away my age), and, since the photo is of the bottom of my neck as I’m staring at the Tallest Holly, I’m not that easy to identify. Plus, the article (although on the bland side) is good for the organization, and it wasn’t done out of maliciousness. So I’m not going to pitch a massive fit, which will only draw more attention to it and me. I will ignore it. I bet it the perpetrator was the Really Loud Guy I tried to avoid for most of the walk because I didn’t like his vibe. Lots of people had cameras, and some people brought multiple cameras. It never occured to me that they were for a newspaper article, and we are required to be told about this kind of thing.

Finished up the workshop. One of the students asked if I’d teach a workshop on creating believable settings (I’m always going on about “place as an additional character”). I pitched a workshop along those lines to the program director, she accepted it, and we’re sorting out when to schedule it. Not a bad way to land an assignment!

Wrote and designed the Yuletide letter. I never do the annual letter thing, but with the move and everything else, it makes sense this year. I’m still handwriting individual stuff in each card, but I’m also including the letter with the information about the move, the freelancing, the books coming out next year, etc. My mom did two versions of her letter, one in German, and one in English, that I typed up and printed off for her.

The bugaboo was the new return address labels. We’d bought pretty labels with a wintery house design by Geo-somebody on Avery labels. I should be able to plug in my name and address, format the label and be done. Only in order to do that, there’s special software from Geo-bastards and/or Avery — and it’s only for Microsoft, and not for the version that goes with Mac. Bite me, assholes, that needs to be on the packaging. Don’t say I can get everything I need from your effing website when I can’t, especially Geo-bastards, where you can’t get to the stuff to download without going through 47 layers of them trying to sell you crap.

So not having it.

It took me an hour and a half to wiggle fonts, sizes, and spacing, but I finally tricked the effing labels into ding what I want and looking good. That’s an hour and a half of time that could have been spent writing cards.

Not amused.

And, of course, Customer Disservice from both companies was non-existent. Couldn’t get anyone by phone or email or anything.

Geo-bastards — not happy with them, but never heard of them before, so not particularly surprised. I expect more from an Avery product, though.

By this time, we had to stop for lunch, and then get out the door. Drove to Brewster, to the Natural HIstory Museum, who just happened to be having an open house (everyone is so busy here), but we nipped through the festivities to the gift shop and picked up a few outstanding presents. “Outstanding” in the sense we still needed them, and that they are really cool. As usual, the staff went above and beyond to be helpful. Best shop on the Cape, as far as I’m concerned!

On the way back, stopped at Tobey Farm. They were having a live tree sale — I got my two live trees for the front — three times the size I could have gotten at any other center I’ve seen so far for that price. Don’t they look cute, in front of the house?

I still have to decorate them with ribbons and maybe garlands and lights, and put a bow on the wreath on the front door, but the entrance looks more festive now. They’ll look great sitting there until spring (if I can keep them alive), and then I’ll put them out back, probably in bigger pots. They didn’t fit in the hatchback, so I had to put them on the floor in the back of the seats and drive with my knees up to my chin. It was an interesting challenge.

Things slowed down on the way home because Yarmouth was having their Holiday Stroll. And let me tell you, these people don’t lope or stride or walk — they STROLL. They take the “stroll” thing very seriously. Like I said, they’re very busy around here. And they take their Holiday Strolling very seriously. It’s amazing how many people turn out for events here.

Dropped off the trees and the stuff from the Museum, then headed to the 1856 shop — which was Very Busy — to get a few more things, and then to CVS for a couple of other little bits and bobs.

Except for a couple of things still to get for my mom, I am DONE with my holiday shopping. Done, done, done! Most of my shopping was done locally, from local artisans, and is totally unique. I ordered a few things, but the bulk of the stuff is all locally created.

It’s been a very long time since I was done by December 5. It feels good.

I got the pot roast started, and we sat down to write the overseas cards. I got mine finished before dinner, then went to wrap up the deconstruction workshop, then went back to wrap an overseas present that has to go out today, and a Hanukkah present that has to go out to today. And took care of a few things on the computer.

By the end of the day, I was ready to curl up and fall asleep on my lovely new rug in the office!

Today, I’ve got to try to slide the car in for repair, get to the post office to mail the overseas cards and those two gifts, and work on the yard. I’ve also got to finish the assignment for Confidential Job #1, finish and review something for A BIBLIO PARADISE, look over a media kit and come up with questions for another Biblio spot, work on the article due soon, send some questions to my publisher, invoice an editor, work on the guest list for the party, and start writing the domestic cards. The filing is starting to eat my desk, and I’d like to unpack some kitchen boxes, some bedroom boxes, and some office boxes. I need to nip to Osterville Hardware to pick up a few things and . . .well, the list just keeps on going. But I’m behind and I need to catch up.

And, of course, I need to get some writing done.

Last night was St. Nicholas’s Night, so we left our shoes in front of the fire and they were filled with goodies this morning. Minus some the cats pulled out to play with. One of my favorite traditions of the season!

It’s Very Busy. 😉

Devon

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010
Dark Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

The tree is still a work in progress. I’m starting to think it will be New Year’s before I will get it done.

My retired neighbor was mowing the lawn at 8:19 yesterday morning. Guess I don’t have to worry about disturbing neighbors with early starts. Good to know! He’s also really, really proud of his shiny, new red snowblower.

I will miss the workshop when it ends tomorrow. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this batch of students.

Ran some errands yesterday, including grocery shopping. I decided I want to make pot roast tomorrow. Well, it must be Pot Roast Weekend on the Cape and no one sent me the memo, because I had to go to three stores to find the meat! But I found it. And, totally by accident, I found the black gloss paint I need for the bureau and the Colonial Red paint I need to repaint two bookcases I decided need to go in the back bedroom (because the only rooms in the house allowed not to have books are the bathrooms). I still haven’t found the blue I want for the bookcase that will eventually go in my bedroom.

I’d really like to have some time to unpack the rest of the boxes in my bedroom. I want it to be a sanctuary, not a storage locker. Half the room is fine; the other half . . .but, once I get the bureau finished and can stash my clothes, then I can unpack more of the boxes and put stuff in the closet, where I currently have stacked the clothes.

Visited the Cape Cod Art Association to check out their holiday gift show. The work by the artists is GORGEOUS, and the place absolutely rang with happiness and laughter. A lot of the work was more expensive than I felt comfortable spending right now (although it’s definitely worth it — I just want to replenish the coffers from the move first). I bought two prints by an artist named Joan Shostak for my mom — we kept being drawn to her work. Funnily enough, she’s originally from Westchester! I’m going to find lovely frames for the prints and those will be my mom’s primary Yule gift (she doesn’t read the blog, so I can post that).

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a pottery class at my beginning level to take in January in the area — they’re intermediate and advanced, most of them wheel-throwing, and nothing with slab work, which is what I want to concentrate on right now. Truro might have a class, but it’s about an hour’s drive each way, plus a three hour class, and I’d have to combine studio time on the same day — I don’t know if I can commit a full day per week to clay at this point. I’ll see what’s offered later in the year.

Writing’s going well. I have a good idea of what I want with the article, and will send out questions this week. The fiction piece I started the other day is also shaping up nicely, even though I’m not really sure where it’s going. Of course, now some of my other characters are tapping their feet saying, “Hey! What about ME?”

Comcast has some sort of issue almost every day, either with internet or television. And I’m sorry,but it shouldn’t take me 90 minutes to pay my bill online.

Cablevision agreed to credit the “unused” portion of November and December for which it billed me, and refund the bit I paid — unexpected, but appreciated. But they still won’t admit they were wrong in the previous situation where they nearly cost me my job and then, when I complained, decreased service. So, I guess they’re getting another invoice come December 19.

Usual morning routine. Violet settled onto my lap as I started work on the computer, and we were both mesmerized as an enormous white and black cat strolled down the street. At first I thought it was the Imp dog, that’s how large it is, but the grace of movement and the complete lack of hurry indicated it couldn’t be the little hyper one. Then, the cat turned to stare at us. Violet couldn’t believe it. She gave a little hiss. the cat, completely confident it was in no danger, kind of stared at us, like “huh”, then turned and sauntered behind the garage across the street. It’s not safe for cats to be outside here because of the coyotes and fishers (not to mention pick up trucks driving waaay too fast on the little roads), but this cat doesn’t look like a stray and is supremely self-confident. It would have to be, to wander in such a dog-centric neighborhood.

I’m going to a Holly Walk in Falmouth, on a holly plantation, sponsored by the MA Audubon Society this morning (who knew there were 65 varieties of holly? Not me). Tonight, we’re going to a Celtic concert in Barnstable. Tomorrow is about wrapping presents and writing cards. I have either two or three more gifts to get, two more things to order online, and then, except for a couple more things for my mom, I am DONE.

The online ordering has been ridiculously stressful. They pretend all this hoop-jumping is “security”, but it’s really just a way to gather too much information so they can pepper you with spam, and the STILL hem and haw about putting through the order. And then say, “oh, it’s the verification system that’s the problem.” Guess what? I don’t give a flying fuck WHAT the problem is. Either you want my business or you don’t. And, if I have to re-do the order six times and you ask me for inappropriate information for “security” reasons, and then tell me, oh, it didn’t go through on the day of the sale and now the prices are different, I will take my business elsewhere and not give my hard-earned money to YOU. Going to the small businesses in the area has been pleasant, the quality of merchandise has been better and totally unique, and the prices are better. There’s plenty of reasonably-priced, one-of-a-kind pieces by local artists that I can pack and ship off myself that are better choices than something I can get online. So that’s what I’m doing!

Okay, I need to get some empty ornament boxes up to storage and then bundle up for the holly walk. It’s in the 20’s here today, and I don’t want to freeze.

Devon