Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Summer Solstice
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was a dedicated work day. I got a lot of writing and business done; it’s never enough, but it helps. I got a good chunk done on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, got out a couple of proposals, made a manuscript submission, and worked on the backlog of short stories that needed to go out.

In the late morning, Costume Imp and I drove to Hyannis to check out Tim’s Books, right on Main Street. We both found some great stuff. And found parking about two doors down from the store! Imp went on to meet a friend of his he’d recently learned moved to the Cape, and I went on to run errands, get some work done in the garden, and go back to do more work.

We had a craving for Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner and gave in to it. Sometimes, you just need the fast food!

The evening was about reading (SACRED GROUND by Mercedes Lackey for me, very good), and then watching the repeat of the GAME OF THRONES finale. It was well done, and hopefully, the way they’ve left it means there will be a lot more of Peter Dinklage’s character in Season Two next year. His work is always good, but he’s outstanding here. And the scene between Jamie and Caitlyn was great. I’m debating whether or not to read the books in the interim.

Someone’s coming to fix the downstairs toilet this morning, my students have their next exercise due, and then we’re hitting a couple of farmers’ markets and natural food places. I’ve got a meeting tonight, and then we’ll do our Solstice ceremony.

In the meantime, I better get back to THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY and do my quota for the day! 😉 I hated to stop yesterday, but there were other things that had to get done. I’m hoping over the weekend, I can block off five or six hours just to work on the book.

Devon


ASSUMPTION OF RIGHTavailable from <a href="http://www.champagnebooks.com” target=”_blank”>Champagne Books.
Annabel Aidan webpage here.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

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Sandwich, MA

Sunday, September 27, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cool

I’m starting to think I’ll be jet-lagged for the rest of my life and will always pass out at 7 PM. Then, I remind myself it usually takes me 10 days to recover.

The Cape was great. I didn’t want to come home. I want to move there NOW. I’m happier, more relaxed, and more creative.

I woke up at 4 AM on Thursday, and we were out the door well before 6. The drive up wasn’t bad — we missed most of the traffic, except around Providence. Rhode Island drivers are even worse than New Jersey drivers. And that’s saying something.

We stopped first at the National Marine Life Center, on Main St. of Buzzards Bay. I think this is the third time I’ve stopped — and they weren’t open AGAIN. One of the three staff members, a lovely man, took pity on me and showed us around.

The facility is amazing — and under construction. They’re doing it in portions — they raise money and do one complete bit, raise more money and do another bit. Once it’s done, it will be amazing, and a place to not only rehabilitate turtles, which is all they have room for now — but also help whales, seals, and dolphins. They currently partner with about a half a dozen other societies on the Cape, and they all have individual strengths, with which they help each other out. Which is as it should be, rather than the venues acting like they’re in competition with each other, which happens far too often.

They’ve got wonderful displays, with detailed information about different kinds of turtles, their migratory patterns — some of the ones who arrive at the hospital cold-stunned come from as far a Mexico. They’ve got a piece of a right whale (I want to say “rib” but I could be wrong) that’s not only about seven or eight feet long, but covered with something that feels like horsehair. The information is detailed enough to keep kids fascinated and intrigue adults. They’ve got some interactive pieces you can touch, a great gift shop (that contains bags knitted out of plastic bags torn into strips).

And, then, of course, there’s the hospital. I never realized how long it takes to rehabilitate a turtle — it can take years. The Belle of the Ball right now is a turtle named Patty who has some sort of fungus on her shell. She’s got quite the personality — when lifted, she tries to swim in air. She’s very alert and aware of what’s going on around her, and curious when someone comes by.

They’re an organization with whom I’d like to become more involved once I move. In the meantime, if you’re interested in reading about the turtles (they’ve got both rehabilitation and construction blogs), visit their site here.

By this time, we were hungry. We drove over the Sagamore Bridge — which was fine going TO the Cape, but there was construction in the direction, and traffic was backed up for a good two hours. We drove to Hyannis, to a restaurant called Cook’s, which is known for the quality of their food.

They’ve got a great reputation for a reason. I had lobster salad with fries and coleslaw. Really excellent. I’ve never liked coleslaw much, yet, in this past year, I’ll eat it on the Cape. Reasonably priced and very well done. They close from November to February every year, and they’re clean and un-fussy. A good clam slack, but with enough facilities to eat inside comfortably.
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Shopping in Hyannis

We continued on and had a real Mercury Retrograde shopping afternoon. I mean that in the best possible way. We went to a fabric store –I made a quilt for my mom about fifteen years ago that she loves. Unfortunately, the fabric’s worn out (it wasn’t as sturdy, obviously, as the fabric used in quilts that have lasted for a couple of hundred years). I decided to make a duvet cover for her, but not in the traditional sense. She loves fleece, so I’m making her a fleece cover for it. My feather bed, which I’ve had since I was a child, also needs a new cover (the one it came with is bright orange swirls, which worked in the 70s, but now, not so much). I picked a burgundy and navy fleece plaid.

The store didn’t have the bobbins for my Viking sewing machine, but another woman who was purchasing fabric has one and told me about Sew N Vac, in Centreville, on Rt. 28. They’re the only authorized dealer in the area, and the only ones who carry bobbins that fit those machines. That explains why I’ve had so much bobbin failure over the past few years — wrong bobbins. I still got things sewn, but . . .hopefully, the right bobbin makes it easier.

The fabric was stuffed in the car, and then we headed off to Christmas Tree Shops. I’ve seen them advertised all over the place, but I’ve never actually been in one. I almost went into one around here, but it was dirty and the employees were surly, so I walked out. This one was huge and bright and clean. If I was already in the house, I would have filled about five shopping carts with seasonal decorations and had to hire a trailer hitch to get it all back. As it was, much to our delight and surprise, we found cushions for the kitchen chairs. Now, we’ve needed to replace those for about five years. We’ve looked and looked, and couldn’t find something we liked. I’ve been in the midst of designing a cushion for the seat with a cushion for the top that also had a drape down the back, but not gotten it quite right. Lo and behold, we found something much better — an earthtoned floral for the seat with a curved microsuede brown that picks up the brown in the seat cushion for the back. Perfect, and we got all the cushion we needed for only $22. Gotta love Mercury Retrograde. Plus, i bought a carousel horse. Yes, I know I have several in varying sizes around the house, and I nearly bought an actual one on a pole at the estate sale place a few months ago (except it was $7K and there are other things I’d rather spend $7K on, like trips). This is probably about 15 inches high from floor to top of ear (not measuring to withers like I would a real horse) and probably about a foot and a half long, including rocker. So he’s a rocking horse, not a carousel horse. And he was on sale, really, REALLY cheap, and the only one there, so I grabbed him.

Then, it was off to the bookstore, where I picked up Ted Kennedy’s autobiography TRUE COMPASS. Usually, I ignore political biographies and autobiographies, but, in this case, the man had such a strong personal impact on my life, that I both wanted to read it and felt I should. Since it was buy one biography, get one at 50% off, I bought William Zinsser’s WRITING PLACES. Most writers know his book ON WRITING WELL — this one is hilarious and amazing and wonderful — writers should read it. It’s about his writing journey from newspaperman to Yale master to — well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten, but it’s warm and funny and totally wonderful. And his point is that you can learn to write anywhere when you need to do it to pay the bills. He, his typewriters and his green metal typing table travelled from place to place, distraction to distraction, and he just did it.

We went to Shaw’s — a grocery store that’s only in New England, not down in NY — and picked up a few things we can’t get down here. And then we went in search of Sew N Vac to get the bobbins, and found it by sheer luck.
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Some good Mercury Retrograde shopping

We drove back to Sandwich and checked into the Sandwich Lodge and Resort. They have a massive advertising campaign on the Cape, about how wonderful they are, how many amenities they have, etc., etc. In other words, they’re very impressed with themselves.

Me? Not so much.

The desk clerk was frosty and professional when we checked in. She had only one room left, next to the office. She showed us the room, designated as “non-smoking”. It was HUGE. The room was twice the size of Costume Imp’s apartment on 9th Avenue, back in the day. It was clean. It had a fridge and a microwave. We said yes. We checked in, paid, got a list of amenities, was warned there was a large group breakfasting the next morning between 7 & 8, so we might want to go earlier or later (a relief after the breakfast kerflamma in Prague). The desk clerk made it very clear that she was doing us a big, big favor by renting us a room, especially with a discount.

We get settled in the room. It’s a little noisy with people checking in, but we don’t think too much of it. There’s one tiny window in the front that has an air conditioner in (which we don’t need – the air was filled with autumn chill). There was another tiny window in the bathroom, which we cracked open to air out the place. We unpacked, got settled, looked through all the information I sweep up like a Hoover whenever we stop at a place with racks of information to make plans.

We headed to one of my favorite restaurants anywhere for dinner, the Beehive Tavern, also in Sandwich. There, we had haddock stuffed with lobster, leeks, and mushroom in a citrus sauce, mashed potatoes, and butternut squash. Again, I’m not much of a squash person, but this was good, and the haddock was outstanding. The portion was huge and we waddled out.

We walked around the “resort” for a bit, but it started raining, so we stopped. It’s got an indoor pool and a game room for kids and laundry facilities. There’s an expanse of yard in the back, but I’m not sure what it’s used for. I grabbed a cup of coffee (complimentary coffee and tea are advertised as available 24/7) and we headed back to the room to rest, watch the news, prepare for the next day. My jet lag was kicking in again.

The desk clerk gave the same “this is our last room” speech to at least three other couples during the course of our meanderings.

It was cold in the room (heck, it was in the 40s outside). We put on the heat, only to discover that it both smelled like it was burning and screeched like it was in pain. I futzed around with it and got it calmed down enough so that it didn’t smell like it would blow up any minute and quieted down. The remote didn’t work either — in order to change channels, I had to sit on the floor and manually change channels — which is not that big a deal, except it was a LOOONG trek across the room. And the remote in the room had already been switched out a few times, and there weren’t any more.

Additionally, because the room was next to the entrance to the office, not only did other residents act like the front of our room was their porch, standing there yammering and carrying on (I nearly ripped apart one guy who was sitting on the hood of my car), but the smoking urn was outside the office door — so our room was filled with cigarette smoke all the time, and, because Americans aren’t as considerate smokers as Europeans, it was much worse than Prague.

Resort? I don’t think so. If I’d paid full price and we were going to spend substantial time in the room, I would have pitched a fit at them. For two nights and just sleeping, it was fine — the room itself was fine. But I seriously doubt I’d stay there again.

I managed to stay awake until 10 PM, but fell asleep then, and was up and at ‘em by 4 again. I did my yoga — bliss to have lots of room — showered, read, wrote, and was ready for breakfast by 6. The breakfast was good — coffee, bagels, danish, juice — and filling.
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We were 40 minutes early to the Bourne Scallop Festival. So I walked around, took some photos of the facility, and we sat and read up on other things we wanted to do that day, if we had time. Everyone was so cheerful and perky — we were among the first ones in. I wondered if that good cheer would last all day!

The fest is set up with one huge tent for arts and crafts booths, one huge tent with the food and music, and various rides. I was impressed with the quality and uniqueness of the arts and crafts stalls — very unusual for a fair circuit. Sea glass jewelry and beautiful woodworking and lovely paintings. I was surprised how many local authors had tables in the tent, too, and a local composer — I wasn’t sure if he was giving demonstrations, or composed for people on the spot, or what.

The food tent wasn’t what I expected — I knew the big draw was the huge scallop dinner. They use 6,000 pounds of scallops, 1200 pounds of Clam Fry Mix, and 18 gallons of eggs (sans shells) to feed people. It’s a little disconcerting to see the busloads of seniors disgorged at 10:30 in the morning and line up for a full scallop dinner!

We hadn’t bought the dinner ticket. We thought there would be booths from local restaurants with different offerings and we could just graze.

We were mistaken. There was another row of food: a grill for hamburgers and hotdogs, a jazz club serving coffee and chowder, and another stand that I couldn’t quite figure out what they sold. And Cabot cheese was in the process of setting up.

I went back to the artisan tent to a stand called . . .to the Queen’s Taste, where they had a variety of English and Scottish baked goods and the most enormous chocolate eclairs I ever saw in my life. I have a thing for chocolate eclairs (much as I have a thing for Eggs Benedict). Whenever I see them, I have to try one. The eclair was $7 and huge — too big to fit on the plate, so she had to cut it up. I got coffee at the jazz club stand (he was the only one selling coffee and was swamped). We sat and ate the eclair and drank the coffee, and then . . .we were done.

It wasn’t even 11 AM.
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Sandwich Boardwalk

So we drove to the Sandwich Boardwalk and took a nice, long walk (because it is a long walk) down to the shoreline. It was beautiful and wonderful and so windy we were nearly blown off the boardwalk.

I’d seen a spooky house next to an even spookier cemetery driving along the canal. I stopped to photograph it — realizing that someone actually lived in the spooky house, although it looked abandoned!
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We headed towards Dennis, driving through Barnstable and reinforcing that Sandwich and Barnstable are our first choices of town to which to relocate. We drove to Tobey Farm, which came highly recommended (and they do fun things like hayrides). We stocked up on tomatoes and corn and apples and cider and blueberry jam and some of my beloved beach plum jam.
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The Optimist Cafe

We headed back, stopping at the Optimist Cafe in Yarmouth for lunch. It’s adorable. The food is delicious — and they even serve high tea. Some of the clientele, though, was incredibly rude. The waitstaff was doing a good job, but some of these people thought every time they took a breath, everyone should drop everything and cater to them. Unfortunately, they complained to the owner, who then chastised the overworked staff. This was a case where the customers were NOT right, and they needed to drop their attitude.

Anyway, I had a wonderful cup of spicy clam/corn chowder — one of the best I ever had — and a curried chicken sandwich, also fantastic.

My right rear tire looked a little sad when we returned to the car, but I thought it might just be because we were on soft ground.

We headed back to Sandwich, picked up some newspapers, looked at some other places we’ll stop in and try next time we’re out this way. We picked up some lobster rolls and fixings for dinner, and headed back to the “resort”, where we rested, read the papers, and had an early dinner.

I’m really pleased that Paul Kirk is the interim Senator from Massachusetts. I think he’ll take the office and its responsibilities seriously. I’m also really pleased to see how this area is picking itself up during the recession. But then, it’s got elected officials who are committed to doing what’s right for the people they represent, taking the stimulus money without fuss and funneling it quickly so it creates jobs and rebuilds infrastructure. They’re not being obstructionists or hypocrites, the way some of the politicians are in other states. The infrastructure building, as annoying as it is to drive around sometimes, is showing immediate results. You can feel the difference on the repaired roads and bridges. And by employing all these people, they are buying food and goods and services, so not only where they live benefit, but where they work — running errands and eating on lunch break, etc. It’s nice to see the positive ripple effect when policies are properly implemented.

Gotta love the Yankee practicality — because the construction on the Sagamore Bridge prevented school children from getting home at a reasonable time last Friday, sitting in traffic for over two hours, this Friday, schools were let out at noon. Lucky kids!

I tried to get coffee after dinner, because I was fading fast — no coffee available, in spite of the promise.

I was asleep by 7 PM.

Up early again yesterday morning. Yoga, repacked, early breakfast. It took awhile to pack the car, but we did, and were on the road by 8 AM. We headed back over the Bourne Bridge, to avoid the delays on the Sagamore, and hit I-195 as easy as could be. Drive back was pretty smooth. We stopped in Niantic — I didn’t find the one book I was looking for, MAGIC PRAGUE, by Rippolini, but found two others.

We stopped to pick up Chinese food, and I got my mom to her dog sitting job by 1:30. We had lunch, I played with the dog, and headed home. It took about 4 trips (up 3 flights of stairs) to get all the stuff up, but it’s up. The cats are delighted that I’m home, and all three stuck to me like Velcro all afternoon and evening. The rear tire was in bad shape. I stopped to get the tire pressure checked and it was reinflated. If it’s a problem again today — I’ll take it in tomorrow. Since I drove 500 miles on it, I’m hoping I can drive 20 or 30 more.

Sorted through the mail — I have some nasty letters to write tomorrow who mistakenly think they can scam my mom because she’s a senior citizen. Instead, they’ll have to deal with me — and the Attorney General’s office.

Found more email in my boxes from the past two days than arrived the entire time I was in Prague. A project I thought was dead is now revived. That’s a good thing, but I’d already mourned and moved on, so I have to mentally readjust. Downloaded photos. Wasn’t hungry at all. Am still jet-lagged.

I was asleep by 8 PM last night (trying to work my way up again). I woke up at 4, but made myself go back to sleep, where I had a series of odd, train-in Europe-related dreams. I was jerked awake at 6:11 by a ROBOCALL. A scam robocall, about mortgage adjustment. I’m filing a complaint with the FTC — these calls were outlawed last month.

Not a nice way to wake up. I planned to have a leisurely morning reading the papers, and not get back to reality until tomorrow. Oh, well.

I don’t really want to get back to reality, so I have to reassess how to reshape my reality to be what I want it to be.

Onward and . . . well, onward.

Devon

Thursday, September 24, 2009

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Cape Cod View

From a landlocked country to an open sea view — and, more importantly, fresh sea air after a week of being in a place where 99.9% of the people around you are chain smokers.

I’m headed to the Cape today. On today’s agenda is The National Marine Life Rescue Center, hopefully checking into a hotel in Sandwich, and buying some fabric in Hyannis. I’m sure I’ll stop at the bookstores while I’m there.

And then, a no doubt early dinner at the Beehive Tavern, since I’m still ridiculously jet lagged.

I miss my father’s best friend, a history and linguistics professor who taught for decades at McGill University in Montreal. He was my father’s best man at my parents’ wedding in Montreal in 1952, and he and my father used to go out drinking. He spoke 7 or 8 languages, and had a wonderful personality, Even as a small child, I adored him, and he always was generous and humorous with me. I remember almost everything he told me, so I can only imagine how great he was with his students.

He was from Yugoslavia, and had fought in the Resistance. He was very politically aware and adept, and had a large circle of European ex-pat friends around him in Montreal.

He would have been a wonderful resource, both before the trip and after, helping process it.

I always thought he died of cancer. I was stunned when my mom corrected me– he committed suicide, slitting his wrists in the tub one day while his wife was at the market.

A bit of a shock.

Devon

Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 1:08 am  Comments (3)  
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday, May 17 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn DIRECT (as of yesterday)
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Wasn’t the Preakness great? Go, Rachel Alexandra! And Mine That Bird ran a great race, too.

I had a great few days out of town, on the Cape. Unfortunately, even though I dragged around the laptop, the internet access promised in the room didn’t work properly, so I was disconnected for those days — which was fine with me

We hit the road around noon on Tuesday, deciding to leave a half a day early. The weather looked great, and it seemed like it would be a great day. And then we hit a bad storm around New London. But we drove through it, and by the time we hit Rhode Island, it was gone. The storm moved west to east, and we drove south to north.

We chose a motel in the middle of Hyannis — we got a great deal on the room, and it was simple, no frills, but fine. I probably wouldn’t choose to stay there again, unless I had no other choice, but, for what I needed for research purposes, it was fine. It was clean and plenty of hot water, which are two of my top needs. We walked around town for a bit. For an affluent, rather famous community, I found it disturbing that there were so many homeless, mentally disturbed people wandering around,, and so many bored teens looking around for trouble. I immediately went into my I-Lived-on-the-Deuce-and-you-didn’t-so-don’t-even-think-of-messing-with-me mode. They didn’t. These kids may be bored, but they’re not stupid.

We had a fabulous dinner at a restaurant called Alberto’s — I had amazing mussels, and when THIS restaurant makes a house salad, it’s an assortment of greens, blood orange slices, walnuts, shredded carrots and prunes with a homemade vinagrette — wonderful. Quite different from the supposedly excellent Italian restaurant on the night I went out to Long Island to see my play, who considered their house salad iceberg lettuce with Thousand Island dressing. The wine, a California pinot noir, was okay, but not brilliant. The chocolate mousse, however, was sublime.

Got some work done in the evening. It helps, bringing the laptop, although I couldn’t get the wi-fi hook up to work. Oh, well. I had the yoga mat, so I could stay on schedule with the yoga.

Up early the next morning — coffee, yoga, but not much writing. I was in reasearch/experiential head, not writing head. We had a great breakfast at La Petite France Cafe — the food’s very good, the service is good, and the guy behind the counter is very nice. He’s there if you want something, but doesn’t try to be best friends just because you walked in the door.

Hit the road early, travelling East. I’ve been to the end of the Cape’s seashore, The Province Lands, ever since I was a little, little kid. But I never investigated the other end, the Eastham end of the shorelands. So, we went to the National Seashore and walked the trails for several hours. I took a lot of photos. It was thrilling to see so many red-winged blackbirds so close, and to hear the frogs chatter, and the ospreys and swans and all the rest. Truly gorgeous. It was a wonderful day, and plenty of benches. We could just sit and BE. The beach plums were in full bloom — gorgeous white flowers. One of the rangers told me I hit it just right – they weren’t in bloom last week and wouldn’t be in bloom next week. Good timing!

I picked up some materials in the bookshop, including a volume of letters from whalers to their families, put out by Descendants of the Whaling Masters. How’s that for a name?

On the spur of the moment, we turned to Nauset and went down to the beach and the lighthouse. I have a fondness for lighthouses anyway. This one was gorgeous, and, yes, still working. We went down to the beach — gorgeous light green water close to the beach, deepening to cobalt blue farther out. We sat on the beach for awhile, watching dogs play and someone try to surf. I gathered up stones. And then we headed back to the lighthouse.

It was still too early for the lighthouse to be open to the public during the week, but one of the workers was there to do something inside and asked if I wanted to come in. Yes! While she did what she needed to do, I got to climb around and explore the lighthouse on my own. It was fabulous! It’s a small house, without living quarters attached, but still a working light. It’s just beautiful. And it was so generous to let me in.

Lunch at a great, family-run fish shack called JT’s — terrific cod burgers with wonderful fries and coleslaw.

Then, it was back towards Brewster, to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural HIstory, one of my favorite places on the cape, to walk the trails on Wing Island. They have an “osprey cam” set up — a camera on an osprey nest, so you can watch the young osprey develop. I didn’t go inside to watch this year — last year’s batch where quite the little hams! The trail was lovely, and the wildflower garden was also beautiful.

I would say we walked at least ten miles over the course of the day. And we were in serious need of salad for dinner, so it was chicken caesar salad for dinner, and a quiet evening reading the materials I collected and typing up notes. The Helena Francis books are set on the bay side of midcape, and parts of the Matty book take place at the Natural History Museum and the shorelands, plus I’m thinking of setting a YA in the area.

Thursday was cloudier and windier. We ate at La Petite Francaise again, and headed out the door early. This time, we headed back over the Sagamore Bridge, off the Cape, to Plymouth. The Matty book is set along the coast just below Plymouth, and I wanted to get some geographical details and some photographs of the stretch where I want to place the house. We did all that, made a wrong turn and wound up in the center of Plymouth, which was okay, because I could grab some more pictures of where I want to set one of the confrontations.

Then, it was over to Buzzards Bay. There’s a marine life rescue center. I wanted to visit and maybe pick up a book on turtles, since turtle rescue is part of what they do. One of the characters in the Matty book loves turtles. I’d hoped to find one at the Natural History Museum, but the only one I found was large, unwieldy, and didn’t focus on Cape area turtles, which is what I need.

On the way to the center, we stopped to stare at the Railroad Bridge. It moves. In other words, the center span is stored in the “up” position, allowing boats to travel the canal freely. When a train comes across, it lowers so the train can actually cross the Canal. We happened to be there as they lowered and then raised the span. Fascinating. And yes, I will post photos.

Unfortunately, the Marine Life Center is both under renovation and not open for the season. I’m going to contact them about visiting in the fall. There’s an event I hope to cover in the area in September — just a few days after I get back from Prague. Maybe I can come out a day or so early or stay a day late and visit the center.

We headed back over the Sagamore Bridge and over to the Canal Visitors’ Center in Sandwich. They did a fantastic job — the museum is wonderful, and the educational DVD about this history and building of the Canal is one of the best of its kind. What I found interesting was that August Belmont — think Belmont Park Race Track here in New York — was the one who built the first canal as a toll thoroughfare. However, it was too shallow, and, due to the amount of accidents, failed. The Army Corps of Engineers took over, redug it during the Depression (in an example of an original stimulus plan), and now it’s a very active channel — and Cape Cod is an island, not a peninsula! We walked to the point where the canal ends and the bay begins. Turning back, I saw that they use actual traffic lights — the yellow metal lights, like they do on the street corners — for the channel. It was pretty funny.

Next stop, Sandwich, just about my favorite town on the Cape. Dashed into their wonderful library, checked email, got a few responses out, Twittered quickly, and was done They use Windows Vista — what a nightmare — everything was so slow and had to be done twice. Typical Dell/Windows!

Then, it was over to the Sandwich Glass Museum. The work there is fantastic, and I learned a lot about glassmaking. The demonstration was fantastic, and the woman who gave it was terrific. I wanted to slap the man sitting in front of me upside the head — instead of appreciating the delicacy required in rolling and pulling the glass, he wanted to see her make a show of the blowing — which, it turns out, is a very small part of actually working the glass. Instead of being excited to learn the intricacies and delicacies of how it’s actually done, he wanted to see what he expected. Moron.

In the gift shop, I found a history of the Orleans Inn at such a good price I was afraid it was a misprint. But it wasn’t, and I snatched it up. Can’t wait to read it.

We drove to Barnstable and the Sandy Neck beach. By now, it was cloudy and very, very windy. The beach is lovely, and this is the area where I’ll stick Collier’s Cove, the setting for the Helena Francis mysteries.

We had lunch at the Beehive Tavern in Sandwich — fantastic! I had some locally brewed Cape Cod Summer Ale. I’m very fussy about beer and ale, preferring wine, but this was terrific. And I had a wonderful sole stuffed with lobster, vegetables, and rice. Really, an excellent meal, great service, great atmosphere. Definitely a place I’d go again.

We headed down to Chatham for a look around, and then picked up some food from a local, mom-and-pop deli on the way back — a chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts, which was great.

Another quiet night full of typing up notes and reading. And watching playoff hockey, Boston vs. Carolina — heartbreaking loss for Boston in overtime.

Friday morning was rainy, so we headed back right after breakfast (again, at the cafe). A big bus nearly crushed me twice near the canal. I got its information and plan to complain to the company. I’m sorry, you don’t come to a dead stop in the middle of a roundabout and then suddenly swerve to a turnoff you’ve already missed, ignoring the cars around you — after you already nearly forced me into construction nearly a half a mile back. Not acceptable. Traffic was an absolute nightmare around Providence. I swear, Rhode Island has some of the worst drivers I’ve encountered anywhere in the world — and I’ve driven many places in the world. They’re even worse than New Jersey drivers.

Couldn’t make good time coming back from the Cape — combination of weather and traffic. Managed to stop in Niantic at the Book Barn, where I played with the cats and got a stack of books, including several on the Cape and several books I’ve wanted for years! Lunch in Niantic, and then continued back. Stopped at the apartment to switch out some stuff and then continued down for the Preakness. Horrible traffic, early night.

The races started really early Preakness Day. And the temperature was a good twenty degrees higher than it was on the Cape and muggy. I expected a deluge any minute, but the rain held off until there was a light shower just as the horses went to the post for the Preakness itself.

As thrilled as I was by Rachel Alexandra’s win, I just wanted to be home by the end of it all. I was supposed to leave revoltingly early this am to head back up to MA for the US Olympic Women’s Hockey Team tryouts, but that fell through. As annoyed as I am with USA Hockey right now, I’m also relieved not to spend six hours on the road today and six hours watching tryouts at a hockey ring.

I’ve got to finish my post-Preakness article and get if off to FemmeFan, and then take a final look at the DIXIE DUST proofs — the last round of corrections arrived while I was gone. The next assignment for Confidential Job #1 came in, I have client projects to work on tomorrow, and some reviews to do this week for A BIBLIO PARADISE. UHaul again made me livid, and it’s time to file charges with the appropriate authorities. Enough already.

Read one of the books I bought in Niantic already — THESE RUINS ARE INHABITED by Muriel Beadle, about her family’s year at Oxford University. It was published in 1961, and it’s funny how little has changed, and, of the changes that have taken place, which ones.

I hope to take it a little bit easy today, but I’d like to get a jump on all the work stacked up for the coming week.

Cape photos to follow.

Devon

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy, not, humid

Isn’t it always the way? Go off-line for a few days and there’s a lot to say. So, for reading ease, I’ve used sub-headings – you can pick what you want to read and skip the rest: Politics, planets, trip, life, writing. This is a very long post, so be warned.

Politics:
You may have noticed that I haven’t spoken much about politics on the blog lately. Mostly, because I’m worried that we’re totally f—, especially if McCain gets elected (I nearly said “re-elected”, thinking in terms of a Bush third term – my Freudian slip was showing). If that happens, I honestly believe the Mayans were right and the world as we know it will end on the Winter Solstice of 2012. The Republican Party has become an abomination and perversion of its original purpose, in my opinion. The Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Economic Rape and Pillage. As a woman, I do not EVER use the term “rape” lightly, but that’s what’s happened over the last eight years. Bush’s buddies get richer and richer while the rest of us, who actually do the work and keep the country running, are screwed.

At the beginning of the Democratic Primaries, I was pretty excited, because there was such a wide field of choices, and I was interested in hearing all the points of view and seeing how it played out. I didn’t get a voice in it (something I resent), because, in the State of New York, if you are an independent voter, you don’t get to vote in the primaries. Other states allow independent voters to vote, but not NY, something I think is wrong.

I had no intention of voting for Hillary Clinton simply because she was a woman; she needed to convince me she was the best candidate for this particular time and place. I like a lot of her ideas, she’s done a lot of good as a NY Senator, and she’s got a grit that gets the job done. However, I was already leery because, several years ago, when the hospital up the street was closed, I contacted her office for help. Since health care is a big issue for her, I thought she would be the person to whom to turn. A YEAR AND A HALF LATER, I received a form letter email from her office that had nothing to do with the topic. And the hospital was long closed. That has really stuck in my craw all this time, in spite of the many good things she’s done for New York. Her office is a huge contrast to the other NY Senator’s office, Senator Charles Schumer. You call his office –an actual human picks up by the second ring. You email, you get a response in the same day. You write a letter, you get a response – an actual response, not a form letter – within a week. And there’s always follow-through AND follow-up. Since I consider politicians my employees – after all, it is my tax money that pays their salaries, that is the way I like it done.

On the other hand, as a woman, I was angered by the sexist media coverage. Her hair, clothes, etc. were focused on in a way that NONE of the male candidates’ clothing choices were. That’s wrong. And, have you noticed? We refer to the male candidates by their last names, but to Senator Clinton always by her first name. Is that to differentiate her from her husband, the former President? Or is it a sign of disrespect that’s not even noticed, because for hundreds of years women have been referred to less formally than men? So that really bothered me, and made me more sympathetic to her.

On yet another hand (or am I starting on feet now), the fact she voted FOR the war bothered me. I remember being at a rally here in NYC before the war was declared. The Pretender President came out and said (direct quote) to the crowd, “I don’t care what you think.” Buddy, as my EMPLOYEE, you damn well better care. Politicians can back-pedal all they want about the misleading information they were given, but the fact is, we are paying them and IT IS THEIR JOB to dig deeper before they make their decisions.

Most of the women I know, of one generation older than I am, who laid the groundwork for women in politics and in many other areas, are upset because they feel that this was the last chance in their lifetime to see a woman become President. For now, it’s still in the realm of the Sci-Fi channel instead of being a reality in this country. And that’s a shame.

Yes, Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for President, as well as the first woman to have a company on the New York Stock Exchange back in the days of Cornelius Vanderbilt, but the fights women fought through the 1960’s and 1970’s really set a lot of groundwork for today. (If you’re interested in Victoria Woodhull’s story, the mystic daughter of a snake oil salesman who became so prominent in NY and then made a bid for the White House, read Barbara Goldsmith’s fascinating social history OTHER POWERS. It also deals with the fact that Frederick Douglass broke with the suffragettes because, even though they supported abolition, he felt supporting a woman’s right to vote would hold back the black cause – every once in awhile, I wonder how many shades of reflection of that are in this campaign).

As far as Obama goes, I like his ideas, I like the way he can walk into a room and talk to anyone, I like his grace under pressure, I like the way he did not vote for the war. My concern is whether or not he can implement his ideas, or whether he’ll be blocked by high-rolling lobbyists.

For Democratic women (and by that, I mean women who lean towards the Democratic Party, not all women who believe in democracy), this has been a very emotional and tumultuous few months. You can’t discount completely race and gender, yet you want to support the candidate you believe has the best ideas and is ABLE to implement them.

Something that gets on my last nerve across the board is the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on campaigns. That’s money that should be going into education, health care, veterans’ medical care and rehabilitation, rebuilding crumbling infrastructures, and wildlife conservation, not in buses and planes criss-crossing the country, polluting and spending money that could be used to improve the country.

I realize history has been made no matter what; I’m still ambivalent.

Planets
So, Mercury went retrograde last week without me noticing, which means I signed contracts and traveled during the Retrograde. However, since it never felt like it went direct last time, this retrograde actually feels like a relief, because things are getting resolved. So I’m not going to stress about it.

The Neptune Retrograde – hey, I’m a Pisces, it’s never easy, but too darned bad.

The Jupiter Retrograde actually feels like a relief because it oversees home and hearth and material things, and that’s been in such a mess, it feels like this retrograde will help with the resolution.

This is a case of me welcoming retrogrades.

So far.

The Trip
Ah, heaven! It was really, really, REALLY hard to come back. I missed the cats and the books and the writing and my friends, and, surprisingly, even the show. But it was heaven to be out there.

Considering how tired I was getting back from the show at midnight on Sunday morning, and then getting up at 4:30, I’m surprised I did as much as I did. On the road by six; traffic pretty light, and yet, more people traveling than I expected in this high-gas economy. We managed to find gas for $3.99/gallon up in MA the whole time, which made me do a happy dance at the pump. Seriously, it wound up equivalent to a free gallon of gas at each refill compared to prices down here, which are at least 50 cents more per gallon.

The weather was fabulous, sunny, warm, gorgeous.

We headed first up to the North Shore, Cape Ann area. I hadn’t been there in years. Drove around Rockport, doubled back to Gloucester, and spotted at Hammond Castle.

Hammond Castle is a medieval castle on the cliffs of Gloucester, MA, built by inventor John Hays Hammond in 1926 as a gift for his bride, Irene Fenton Hammond, a portrait painter. Both collected antiques, and the castle is amazing. The front is in German gothic style, the back in French, complete with flying buttresses. It was a museum since 1930 (they moved into it in 1929), and they were the caretakers. Hammond has more than 800 inventions to his credit – his “war room”, a circular room under the circular library, is pretty amazing. The library, wonderful as it was – was too small to hold all my books – isn’t that a scary thought!

There’s an interior courtyard with a glass roof (three stories up) – talk about the ultimate sun room. It’s Romanesque in design, with some of the doorways made out of volcanic, porous rock, and some out of limestone.

There’s a Great Hall where Gershwin once played, and a series of Tower Galleries, where each level has different objects, including religious icons and relics. The Castle is reputed to be haunted, but the room with religious relics was the only one that felt, to me, filled with unseen presences.

You walk through all these winding hallways, nooks, crannies, tiny rooms of medieval antiques and then come into a 1930’s kitchen – the contrast is astonishing. And the views over the harbor are magnificent.

I promise to post photos.

Then, back in the car to Salem. All I needed was a good map and some photos of Salem; Old-Fashioned Detective Work has a small bit set just outside of Salem, and I couldn’t remember its configuration. We had a quick lunch, and then headed back down.

There was a parade in Boston, which backed up the Tobin Bridge and the southern expressway, so we got stuck for a bit; but the Big Dig seems to be fixed, (nothing fell on the car, always a good sign), so once we were clear of the parade traffic, it was a smooth ride.

Instead of staying in Plymouth as planned, we continued south. There’s something about soaring across the Sagamore Bridge that always makes me happy (in spite of the sign the Samaritans posted with their number for those who might be inclined to jump off the bridge).

We ended up staying in Hyannis, getting an excellent rate at a hotel still under construction. It was cheap and clean, all we really needed. It had a small balcony. The toilet made funny gurgling noises and some of the hardware on the furniture needed to be replaced, but it also had a fridge, a huge television, REAL keys (not those vile keycards, which I hate) AND genuine old, soft, cotton sheets, not the poly sheets most hotels use (unless you’re in the $400/night ones). Okay, the sheets were PINK – but boy were they comfy! And the shower was fantastic!

Had we had the time, we could have walked from the hotel to the Nantucket ferry and hopped over for the day, leaving the car in Hyannis. Good to know for the future. I got to see where the writers’ group meets (the one I met during Nano last year that said I was always welcome), and we got a sense of the area pretty well.

Picnic lobster supper – always a good thing. And early to bed because, well, it was a busy day and we’d been up since 4:30 in the morning!

We had a leisurely breakfast by the pool the next morning (included in the hotel, it was a buffet and it was good), sitting next to the pool amidst overflowing pots of cheerful red geraniums.

Then, we drove down to Provincetown. On the way, I was looking for the Nauset Light, which I wanted to re-photograph (it’s been at least ten years since I was there), but couldn’t find it. Instead, I found the Cape Cod Light, also known as the Highland Light – which was fantastic. They moved it back to its current location in 1996, because the sea cliffs are eroding at one foot PER YEAR (faster, even then here in Montauk), and expect they’ll have to move it again within 30 years.

Wow.

The light is gorgeous, the surroundings are magnificent, the staff is phenomenal. A freelance writer handles their PR, newsletter, etc. – a woman after my own heart who’s doing an outstanding job, and I have to track her down via her website and congratulate her!

We bought the COOLEST wind chime – a four-side triangle (four plates, each triangular in shape) with a different lighthouse painted on each one. It sounds like a buoy, which I just love.

Again, I promise to post photos.

Over to the Province Lands Visitor Center, out by Race Point Beach. I’ve been going there since 1968, since I was six years old, and it’s always a pilgrimage. They’re wonderful there, and teased me that, when I live in the area, I should come and give tours, too! (Personally, I don’t think I’m nice enough to be a Park Ranger, but I appreciated the sentiment).

Into P-town, past Pilgrim Monument (I’ve been up those darned stairs so often over the years I really don’t need to do it anymore – but if you’ve never done it – do it). Parked on Macmillan Wharf. They’ve rebuilt the end of the wharf and done a lovely job. There are now glass partial roofs and benches and pavilions, so you can sit and enjoy it. It’s still a working wharf, but now it’s also a multi-tasking wharf.

One of the warehouses on the other wharf was rebuilt, and now has, on its outside walls, an art exhibit – photos of Portuguese women who were instrumental in the development of Provincetown.

My reason for going to P-town was the Whydah Museum, the excavation of a pirate ship off the coast of the Cape. I’d been there when it first opened years ago, but now, with the research for CUTTHROAT CHARLOTTE, “The Merry’s Dalliance”, and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, I wanted to revisit.

It’s a small museum, but lovely. It emphasizes pirates, and I was more interested in the nuts and bolts of the archaeology, but there was also some great information and demonstrations about concretions and the x-rays to see what the concretions cover, and the grid system used. Great stuff, which helps me a lot in my writing. Again, the personnel there were lovely.

We walked a little bit around P-town. The last time I was there, several years ago, they were very discriminatory towards straight women, and I was tempted not to go back. I don’t judge people by their sexual choices and I expect the same. Who I sleep with is my business. I found it a very hostile environment, which saddened me (since I’ve come there since the late 1960’s, when it was full of painters on the wharves) and angered me. However, it’s mellowed out a lot (or maybe the season hasn’t yet kicked in). Everyone was friendly and pleasant, and it was a very dog-centric community, which I liked. Many, many happy dogs. You can tell a lot about a place by the temperament of the pets.

And, joy of joys, the Portuguese Bakery is still open! I’d been told they closed, but they haven’t. I did a happy dance at the register. We had lulas (flaky, cone-shaped pastry filled with whipped cream) there, and took – well, I can’t remember the pretty Portuguese name, it starts with an M – but, basically, it’s hunks of moist, light, fried bread. We had to triple wrap it so the grease wouldn’t soak through and ruin the trunk of the car.

Then, we meandered back along the Cape to Brewster – a town we fell in love with. I hadn’t considered Brewster a possibility in my house-hunting, but it is now. The size and ages of many houses fit what I want, it’s a friendly, low-key, year-round community.

We stopped at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History –as soon as I relocate to MA, I’m becoming a member. Fantastic trails through forest, salt marsh, and to the tidal dunes. A camera on the Osprey nest, so you can watch their activities. A lookout room with comfy chairs and binoculars to look out over the marshes and a journal in which to make notations. The exhibits are wonderful, and the tiny aquarium is terrific. I took pictures of curious turtles who came to the side of the tanks to see the visitor. I was exposed to a slew of new-to-me nature writers whose work I want to read. Again, a terrific staff, and their ongoing programs are wonderful. I’d go two or three times a month if I lived in the area.

We found a clam shack for a late lunch and slowly meandered back along route 6A, past Hyannis and to Sandwich, Mashpee, and Marstons Mills for house hunting. And some shopping, of course, at the Lavender Moon and Sandwich Herb Shop. I wanted to find the glass studio, but sailed past it, realizing too late its only designation was a painted mailbox – this area is filled with individual artisans, which is great, but sometimes the signs are a little too subtle!

I can get a ton of freelance writing work out there, so, once I move, I’ll be able to make a living.

Again, a dinner picnic and a relaxing evening. There’s so much to do all over the Cape all year round at this point that, not only can I earn a living writing for it and about it, I won’t feel deprived being away from New York.

I also got to watch Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, between Detroit and Pittsburgh. Wow! It went into 3 overtimes, before Pittsburgh managed to score the final goal to keep them alive in the series. I’m a big fan of Marc-Andre Fleury, the Pittsburgh goalie, and Gary Roberts, of whom I’ve been a fan since his Maple Leaf days, but, as a team, I’m rooting for Detroit. What an amazing game, although it was 80 degrees outside the arena in Detroit, and a good portion of it was played on slush.

On the way home, we stopped at the Book Barn in Niantic, CT, where I got books by Julie Czernerda, Sharon Shinn, Jim C. Hines, and a bunch of science and nature books that I need for the upcoming projects.

The trip was great, I took nearly 200 photos – don’t worry, I won’t post them all – and I feel better about the whole house-hunting situation, because now I have a more solid sense of which communities I think are best suited to what I need, and I know what types of properties are in each community.

So, although I didn’t find “my” house, I feel much more confident about finding it.

Life
So the ever-lovin’ cable box forced on us by Cablevision worked less than 24 hours. I emailed them before I left, stating that they WOULD have a technician out here the morning I returned and it WOULD be fixed at no additional charge. I am currently waiting for said technician. Then, I have to go to Trader Joe’s – I’m out of cat food.

Oh, and the cable box that was guaranteed to be delivered on May 19? Delivery was finally attempted by the incompetent UPS on June 3. And refused.

Sorted out the problem with MacAffee. Once I could actually track down a live person, it was easily solved. Figuring out a way past all the recorded messages to get a live person was a challenge.

Hard to get settled back in. The cats were calm when we got back, because it was quiet in the building (heaven forbid they actually finish any of the construction in the building – they’ve ripped everything up and left it). The cats are happy we’re home, but at least they weren’t frantic.

I’m having a hard time getting mentally focused back on what needs to be done. I simply want to pack, load up a truck and go the Cape, but I need to have to place to go TO before I do that. All the steps need to be completed in the right order for this to work. I’m not 18 anymore; I can’t just pack two suitcases and a typewriter and land in a strange city, the way I’ve done so many times in my life, and start over. I’m uprooting an entire life and relocating it. It takes more organization.

There’s all sorts of building chaos going on and I don’t feel like engaging right now, so I’m not. “No” has become my favorite word lately. Without explanations or justifications. Simply, “no.”

Writing
I only wrote notes the entire time. I’d brought an enormous bag of work, the MATILDA MURDER rewrites, other stuff – nothing.

I had a huge breakthrough on YURI’S TALE – how I can keep it linked short stories that can also stand alone, yet, together, make up an entire novel arc. So that was good. But I didn’t write any of it.

I have to type up my notes (I’m bad at that – I tend to file the notebooks and then take hours looking for what I want).

I’ve given myself off from regularly scheduled writing until tomorrow, so I can settle in and get back my focus.

Believe it or not, that’s the short version!

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:


5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.


Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here: