Fri. June 24, 2022: Summer Rain

image courtesy of jackieLouDL via pixabay.com

Friday, June 24, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Rainy and warmer

Temperatures are going back up this weekend, but at least we had some rain to wash away the pollen.

Got some blogging done yesterday, and a bunch of admin work. Meditation was good, although it was hard to get settled.

After breakfast, I sorted out the book donations I’m making to the local library sale, packed them up, and took them on the library run where I dropped off/picked up books. Mailed some bills, picked up some wine.

Set up folders for each of the ideas generated by Wednesday’s workshop, and also for the new radio play idea I had yesterday morning as I put the coffee on. Notes, etc., all set up, so as soon as I’m ready to work on any of those ideas, I can drop right down. I expanded the notes a little on the three projects calling me with the most strength.

Freelance Chat was fun, as usual.

Gave the newsletter a couple more proofreads and caught typos each time. Hopefully, I got them all before the newsletter went out. Already had to open a new document for September’s newsletter, so I don’t forget what I want to tell people.

The newsletter reveals information on what I’ve been called “The Big Project” over the past few months. I will not be revealing that information for a couple more weeks on the blog and, generally, online and on social media. The project is going to get its own website, too, although that can’t go live until the project goes live, so, stay tuned.

Like you already don’t!

And I appreciate it.

The Friday Journal prompt will go up on my Ello page later this morning.

The Supreme Court continues its right-wing extremist stripping of rights. The Narcissistic Sociopath needs to be charged with treason and every decision and appointment made during that regime voided.

I turned around a script coverage. There’s been very little in the queue, and I’m behind where I need to be, financially for this pay period. Hoping more shows up over the weekend and into next week.

In the meantime, I’m putting my time, focus, and energy on other projects, and also into LOIs.

I have to do a grocery run today (almost out of coffee), but, other than that, the primary focus is on the anthology story. We were given two separate deadlines – one today and one on Sunday. Since I tossed a lot of what I did and started over, I will probably get it in by Sunday, although ideally, it would be today, or, splitting the difference, tomorrow. I  need to get it off my desk and onto the editor’s desk for both of us, and so I can focus on other projects until I get the editing notes back.

I also need to spend time on The Big Project (having to finish a major section by early next week, so it can go through editing while I move on to the next big section), and the Topic Workbooks.

I’m getting contradictory information about a residency that I was interested in, and an organization is giving me one set of information, encouraging me to apply, but the actual application says something else. It’s a little frustrating. I may put that aside until at least next week.

I’m still dealing with sense memory stress from last year. The next 10 days will be rough, since I have to shake off what this time last year was about: travelling back and forth, trying to finish the cleanout in the Cape house, people being hired/paid and not showing up to do the work, the physical impossibilities of doing it all myself, some of the poor decisions I made in getting rid of things, the destruction of the dream of living on the Cape, and the landlord’s incessant fussing. All in extensive heat and humidity. But it got done and we are here, not there, in a better situation all around, and I keep reminding myself of that, and working to layer positive memories over the rough ones. Definitely a process. And last year, I had to suppress a lot of the emotion in order to get it done and just survive. So that’s come back to bite me in the butt, but at least I understand what’s happening and why, so I can take steps to deal with it.

The weekend will focus on the anthology story, The Big Project, and the Topic Workbooks. And, finally, maybe finishing the kitchen island cart that’s still in pieces all over the house.

See you on the other side. Have a good one!

Tues. June 21, 2022: Creativity in Multiple Directions

image courtesy of Chris Martin via pixabay.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)

Cloudy and pleasant

Friday turned out to be an up and down workday. I spent some time working the class I’m teaching in August, preparing both the Topic Workbook for it and the PowerPoint. Some of my examples have not aged well over the past couple of years, so I’m switching them out.

I hopped onto Pages on Stages to do some updates, and it was an absolute mess. The posts page had somehow detached from News & Updates. Most of the time, I got the white screen of death when I tried to get on or switch pages.

I was lucky to land some excellent techs at A2Hosting, and together, we spent a couple of hours sorting it out. I am very grateful, and told them directly, and on social media. Hey, if I’m going to moan on social media when a company is awful, I have the obligation to praise when a company comes through.

I need to put up a media room page on that site eventually, with links to productions.

I did a library run to drop off/pick up books. It started raining when I left (on foot). I almost turned back, but it stopped within two minutes, so I continued.

Turned around a script in the afternoon. My Llewellyn contract came through, so I’m good to go on that article after 4th of July weekend.

I’m playing with a very dark idea for an anthology call edited by a friend. I don’t know if I can pull it off within word count by deadline, but I will try.

Reading an article in THE NEW YORKER about a new production of HAMLET spawned an idea for a new project that mashes up two genres that seem weird, but just might work. I have to finish what I’m working on first, though, before I hie off on anything else. I made some notes, to capture characters and energy, and now that project has to wait its turn.

Tessa started howling at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday. I moved to the sewing room, but she was not mollified. We no longer leave her food down at night for her 2 AM snack, because the others are eating it, and Willa is putting on too much weight. However, Madame Tessa Is Not Amused. She wants her 2 AM snack.

Got the proof done on “Personal Revolution”, fixed a couple of formatting things, and it is out. The re-release happens June 28. Once I get links and stuff, there will be a push for it.

Now, I have to decide what’s the next Digital Delight to come off Smashwords and switch over to D2D. Probably “Severance.” I want a new cover for that, too. Or maybe I’ll take down “Plot Bunnies” and put it up with the next Twinkle Tavern piece that hasn’t yet released, “Labor Intensive.”

Headed to the Farmers’ Market. I didn’t need much, but made the rounds to chat with the vendors; ran into people I knew from other spaces, such as the library, and we were chatting as to how it’s often hard to place people out of context. You know that you know them from somewhere. . .

Quick grocery shop from the store. Didn’t need much. Home, put it all away, lugged 66 pounds of cat litter up the stairs (Chewy delivery).

Then, I spent the rest of the day trying to put together the kitchen island cart I ordered. I wasn’t even close to finishing after 6 hours (it’s supposed to take 2 people 70 minutes). The directions were incomplete, so I had to hunt for another set online. The drawings aren’t detailed enough with some of the pieces, so then I had to find various videos of similar pieces to figure out the details, so I wouldn’t put something on incorrectly and have to take it apart again.  And the design is so poor that, by following the directions, I had no room to maneuver the tools needed to tighten the next thing in the directions. Very frustrating.

If I ever get it put together, I think it will be a decent piece, though.

Used bounty from the Farmers’ Market to make a pasta primavera in Alfredo sauce (and used our own basil for it).

Started reading a biography of Balzac, before I go and re-read some of the novels.

By evening, every damn thing hurt and I went to bed ridiculously early. I slept well, dreaming of various gardens, which was rather nice.

Worked on an ad and other promotional materials for the re-release of “Personal Revolution” on Sunday. Started getting the pre-order buy links. I’m adding them onto the various websites as I get them. The release is holding to June 28.

Played with some other graphic tools to try to get comfortable. Since I can’t seem to do all of what I need with any single tool, I’m learning how to mix and match bits of what I want to do in different programs to get to the whole. It’s actually less irritating that trying to figure out a single program.

Made a logo for the project inspired by the article yesterday. If THAT’s not putting the cart before the horse and all, right? But it gave me an excuse to play with learning something new.

Worked on the newsletter. If you haven’t yet signed up for it, you can do so here. It will go out later this week. And, hint – in the newsletter, I reveal what The Big Project is really all about! So if you’re interested in finding out what I’ve been yapping about for months, calling it “the Big Project” you will find out before the hoi-polloi.

I created a bunch of ads for the Big Project, too, and they are really cool. I’m having way too much fun creating these ads. I’m trying to capture the voice of the piece in the ads.

One of the best things I started doing is opening a new document for the upcoming newsletter and adding information on projects over the course of the quarter. That way, I don’t have to scramble to remember what I did, and what I want to talk about.

Made more vegetable stock. Because buying all these vegetables from the market means I have lots of bits and bobs left over for stock. Not at a zero waste kitchen yet, but working on it.

Most of the day was spent on working on things around The Big Project, which will save me time and effort once it launches in July. It was a lot of fun.

I couldn’t face the kitchen island cart on Sunday. I needed the time away.

Slept well Sunday into Monday. Got caught up on some blogging, and blogged ahead. There’s a post on healing over on the GDR site, if you’re interested.

Planted some of the borage seeds and more cat grass. Got through nearly 400 emails. Sent out two LOIs. Worked on an anthology story.

The Authors Guild is doing a Words, Ideas, and Thinkers Festival this September over in Lenox, which is close by. Well, okay, about an hour, but just about everything is at least an hour away. They sent me an invite to attend, and I accepted. It’s in the calendar. I mean, if the COVID numbers are way up again at that point, I’ll cancel, but I know the venue, and they have good protocols in place. I’m hoping it will be safe to attend. I’m sure I’ll be masked, no matter what.

Since I didn’t have any scripts in my queue, I spent the afternoon on the porch, reading the next book for review. This morning, I will send off the review, and hopefully get assigned the next book before my editor goes on vacation.

Made a sausage pasta for dinner, and it was yummy. We have plenty of leftovers for the week (most of them pasta).

The B plotline has switched with the A plotline in the anthology story. It makes it a quieter story, and I hope the editor doesn’t feel it no longer fits the tone of the overall anthology. We’ll see. It’s for a created world, so it’s not like I could use it anywhere else if it’s rejected, not without major, major re-envisioning. But trying to force it the other way wasn’t working. All I can do is send in the best piece I can to this point, and then get notes on it, and apply them.

The other anthology story I need to get out by the end of the month is percolating in the back of my brain. I’ll be making the bed or chopping onions, sorting through plot possibilities: If I do A, with D work, or should I go with E? That type of thing. Hopefully, once the shared world story is out, I will have figured out enough of the other piece to just sit down and draft.

Slept well last night, although I woke up about every two hours (similar to what I was doing last year at this time). By 3 AM, Charlotte and Tessa were fussing. They woke me from a dream where I was temping at a company. I’d brought in blueberry muffins. Their kitchen/breakroom was stacked high with empty/used takeout containers and dirty dishes. They told me to clean the kitchen. I told them I was there to type, not be the maid. They laughed and said they couldn’t get any of the wives to come in and clean. I told them maybe they should stop being sexist and  learn to clean up after their own damn selves.

That definitely happened to me more than once in my temping years, but I didn’t recognize this company or these people. Something about the dream made me think it took place in Chicago, and I never temped in Chicago. New York, Westchester, San Francisco, Seattle, yeah. Chicago, no.

I moved to the couch. Charlotte settled on top of me, Tessa rummaged. I dozed off and dreamed about more boxes (echoes of the move, no doubt). Willa woke me around 5:30, telling me she was Very Hungry, so I got up and fed them.

Plenty to do today, even without scripts in the queue, although I hope some more show up, so I can make my goal this pay period.

Last year today was the day the movers were supposed to show up and did not. I am glad we are where we are (and that it isn’t as hot as it was at this point last year, either).

I have every intention of enjoying the Summer Solstice, even though it’s supposed to rain.

Have a good one.

Fri. June 17, 2022: Project Juggling

image courtesy of Theodore Moise via pixabay.com

Friday, June 17, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy, foggy, humid

Meditation was fine yesterday, and Charlotte really enjoyed it, too. Managed to get through some email after breakfast, get out an LOI, and get some other admin work done. Wrote and submitted my book review; got another assignment. Freelance Chat was fun.

“Personal Revolution” is in pretty good shape. There are a couple of formatting things I need to tweak, and then a final proof, and it should be ready to go by the end of the day (or, latest, tomorrow), and release on time on June 28.

Time to turn some attention to the Topic Workbooks, and to the PowerPoint presentation for my class in August.  I’ve also roughed the outline for the Llewellyn almanac article in my head, and I should be able to start writing it just after Independence day. So at least all that is on track.

I need to do a big push to finish and polish the Monthology story this weekend, so I can get it out next week.

There are some red flags coming up on a project; I will fulfill my commitment to it, and then not take on any more.

Since I’m on a bunch of mailing lists around here, so I can keep up with what’s going on and where I want to participate, I’m also starting to get invitations to gala events. The liberation I feel from realizing I never HAVE to attend another one of those again is delightful.

I need to update the Pages on Stages website with the latest information on the radio plays. I hope to get ahead on some blog pieces.

I turned around two scripts yesterday and have one to do today, and then I’m done for the weekend. Hopefully, enough come through next week and the following week, so I can make my earnings goal for the end of June.

Still struggling with the sense memory stress from last year’s move. Lots of emotional flashbacks as to where I was at this point last year. The Pluto/Saturn retrogrades add even more weight to those emotions. I’m acknowledging, releasing, and trying to focus on the reality of where I am now.

There’s some cool stuff going on at MassMOCA this weekend. However, doing the risk assessment, it looks like too many people in too small a space for me to feel comfortable, and too high a risk for me to take right now. I will, regretfully, pass. I already have the Farmers’ Market and grocery shopping on Saturday. They’re fairly low risk, but any interactions around people involve risk.

Today is supposed to be the hottest day for a stretch, but it’s still much cooler than it was last year at this time, and for that I am grateful. I have to do a library run to drop off/pick up books. I didn’t get the borage planted yesterday, so now I have to wait until Sunday, the next planting day. For those wondering what I mean by “planting day”, I have a calendar marking which days are planting days and which days are harvesting days on any given week.

The January 6 hearings were not all that surprising, while still emphasizing just how corrupt and awful that sociopath’s entire administration was and is. The fact that the wife of a Supreme Court Justice is part of it is unacceptable. Even more so that she is getting extra security, paid by my tax dollars. She could afford to finance the coup attempt. Let her pay for her own damn security. Better yet, put her in prison, where she should be.

Keep an eye on the people both-siding through all of this, or telling us we should make more efforts to “understand” and “communicate” with Republicans. I understand them just fine. They want to destroy anyone who doesn’t agree with them. And I also understand that the both siders are those who will stand by and let atrocities happen and then be surprised when it happens to them. Gotta watch your back around both siders even more than the blatantly extremist.

Today is Starhawk’s birthday! I am deeply grateful for all I’ve learned from her over the decades, and for her commitment to education and community building.

Better get going. Lots to get done today, and I also plan on plenty of enjoyment throughout the weekend.

Have a good one, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Tues. June 14, 2022: An Enjoyable Weekend

image courtesy of Rustu Bozkus via pixabayc.om

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Full Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Sunny and warm

Busy weekend, but a good one. Headed down to Pittsfield for a quick jaunt to pick up a few things I couldn’t source elsewhere. Turned around a script coverage. Got showered, dressed, and put on makeup to go to the art opening. It was close enough to walk, and the weather was good enough, so I did, even risking walking in cute shoes. I mean, I couldn’t wear sneakers with the dress. I could, but I didn’t want to.

The opening was artist Conrad Egyir’s solo show, after a year of teaching as an artist-in-residence here at the college. The work is wonderful. The way he captures eyes is compelling. There’s so much life in them. He’s also a really nice guy. We had a good conversation. The exhibit runs until September 1, so I can bring visitors to it.

One of the things Egyir mentioned echoed what the artists in the Open Studios at MassMOCA said: that being here gave them a sense of freedom and liberation to experiment and try new work. They didn’t feel the commercial pressure and expectations they felt at home. People are busy doing and creating here. Instead of putting newcomers through tests to join various inner circles, they open up, include, and encourage, and that’s a nice atmosphere to be around.

Attending these events makes me think more about my own work. How can I take more chances? How can I mix disciplines to tell stronger stories?

Came home, got into comfy clothes, and made dinner, then worked on the next review assignment.

Signed up for a yoga class – again, in walking distance (although I will drive). It’s one of the few studios in the area with strict COVID protocols. I’ll take the class, see if I like the teaching style and feel comfortable at an indoor class, and go from there. It will be my first in-person class in nearly three years. It’s at the end of the month, a special new moon yin class.

Going to the art opening tonight and going to class in a couple of weeks are both calculated risks. If I’m wrong, I’ll pay the price.

Actually slept well on Friday night, although the cats got me up early. I was at the Farmers’ Market just after they opened, and so excited to gather the week’s bounty (and talk to the farmers and other shoppers). Farmers’ Market is as much as social experience as a shopping experience.

After the Farmers’ Market foray, I went to the grocery store and built the week’s meals around what I bought at the market.

When I came home and put things away, I had to make another batch of vegetable stock, because my “odds & ends” bag in the fridge was full. I’ll need to rearrange the freezer as I freeze lots of stock, so that we have it in the winter. I used a lot of cilantro stems in this batch, so the whole house smelled like cilantro (which is a smell I enjoy).

The Goddess Provisions box arrived and it’s wonderful, built around the sun, and summer solstice.  Ellen Byron’s book, BAYOU BOOK THIEF, the first in her new series, arrived. After lunch, and answering some follow-up questions on a script coverage, I started reading it, and finished it on Sunday. It inspired me to see if The Pump Room in Chicago ever put out a cookbook or cocktail book in its heyday. I have one of their drinks carts and some glassware, which an extended family member who worked there gave my parents when the restaurant underwent one of its renovations. I’d like to see what they cooked. One of the later chefs, when it was part of the Ambassador Hotel, has out a cookbook, but I want something from the early days.

It was supposed to rain on Saturday all day, but it didn’t, so people went out and enjoyed the day. In the evening, people had their drinks out on their porches and balconies and called out conversation from safe social distances. It was fun.

A Twitter pal was talking about how there should be magicians at funerals, and now I must write a short story “The Funeral Magician.”

Up early on Sunday, thanks to the cats.

Discussed airlines and airports between LA & NY with Dianne Dotson, in preparation for her upcoming trip. Liana Brooks and her family fly out of Seattle Sunday, to live in Korea for two years.

There’s a lot of transition in the city where I live now, especially among artists coming and going in various residencies. I always lived that way in theatre, too. And it makes me realize how stuck I’d gotten on Cape, not actively pursuing more residencies and opportunities, even before the pandemic made it unsafe to travel. Sometimes it was financial; but other times, it was almost as though I felt I didn’t have the right to it, because I have everything set up the way I want/need it in my home office. There’s got to be a middle ground between living in transient situations and getting overly stuck. I want to be grounded and put down roots and feel like the place I live is my wonderful home. But I also don’t want to feel like I “shouldn’t” go for residencies and other short-term opportunities.

Granted, they’d have to be short, since I am the breadwinner and the caretaker of an elderly parent. But I still should do some of them.  I have a few ideas, for the next couple of years.

I’m not yet comfortable attending conferences in person. Too many people. Too few COVID protocols. But residencies with small groups and protocols in place should be do-able. I’m not yet ready to fly again, with the airlines being irresponsible dickheads turning planes into spreader events, but maybe something in driving distance now and again, until I feel comfortable enough to try, would be a good thing.

There were plenty of things I “should” have done, but I chose rest instead. I did, however, wash the inside of the large kitchen window, and re-set the fun little items along the sill that I took down when we decorated for the winter holidays. The outside of the window needs a good scrub, too, but it was supposed to rain, so I decided to wait.

I read THE SACRED BRIDGE by Anne Hillerman, which was good (although I figured out the murderer the first time the character appeared on the page).

Had a restful afternoon/evening using various products from the Ipsy and Goddess Provisions boxes. Made scallop-and-vegetable pasta for dinner.

Every once in a while, I get sense memory stress from this time last year (the next two weeks could be particularly rough). As I mentioned yesterday, I use meditation techniques to bring myself back into the actual moment, and remind myself I’m not going through that right NOW. That was the past. NOW is different, better, and what’s important.

The TONY Awards were on Sunday night. I was delighted that Matt Doyle won for his work in COMPANY. I worked with him on SPRING AWAKENING, and enjoyed it. Patti LuPone won for her work in COMPANY as well (of course she did, she’s Patti LuPone). I was happy to see Shoshana Bean nominated for MR. SATURDAY NIGHT (we worked together on WICKED). The tribute Bernadette Peters did for Stephen Sondheim was lovely. I’m lucky to have worked with both of them.

Slept well on Sunday into Monday, which was nice. Tessa had a fit because it was nearly 5:45 by the time I got up to feed them.

Got some writing done, caught up on email. Went to re-order checks, and discovered when the account was set up at the bank, they’d mis-spelled the address, even though they copied it from the lease. So I went to change it, and, as usual, it was Big Drama. I am so sick of being treated like a criminal instead of a customer every time there’s something to be addressed. The thought of moving banks again is overwhelming, or I’d do it as soon as my “year” is up in August (here, you can’t switch banks until you’ve been with a bank for a year). NONE of this is about security, as they claim. It’s all about control. None of the systems are to actually serve the customers.

Because it was a beautiful day, I walked to the library to drop off/pick up books, mailed some bills at the Post Office, and stopped at the bank to make a deposit and leave the letter with all the details in writing for the manager. Of course, there was still Big Drama all afternoon, and I am sick of it.

We had squirrel hilarity at lunch (which I will write about in the garden blog on Thursday), and then I took Willa out after lunch in her playpen. Charlotte ran away when I tried to put her in her playpen, so I only took Willa out, and then Charlotte pouted. Her own fault. Tessa would rather be on the front porch, on one of the Adirondack chairs, and not limited by a playpen.

Started reading a book which I sort of like, sort of don’t. It’s set in Cornwall, which I like. The plot reminds me an awful lot of the first season of BROADCHURCH. And the author uses third person omniscient. Not as badly as many authors do, but not all that well, either.

Got the Mystic Mondays booklet of New Moon and Full Moon Spreads – I will use one tonight, for the full moon. Ordered a couple of things online, including putting in a new Chewy order. They’d never contacted me, as I requested, when the cats’ preferred food came in stock. It is now $4/bag more expensive than it was. So we’re sticking to the less expensive food, which they are eating just fine, which is $8/bag less than the original food.

Started a script coverage, but kept getting distracted. I have plenty of time until it’s due, and I grabbed some more for this week, so all is good. Sent off a couple of radio plays to a producer with whom I’ve worked before. They’re darker than he usually uses, so they might not work for the company, but I want to keep everything out there, earning its keep!

The kitchen island I ordered arrived, ready to assemble. I’m sure it will take the rest of the week, but, once it’s done, it will be great. The box was 70 pounds, but I managed to get it up the stairs.

Enjoying the long evenings, where we can sit on the porch or the balcony, reading or just being. Next week is the Summer Solstice, and then the days start getting shorter. So I will enjoy as much as possible. That is one of my goals this summer – to actually enjoy it.

Busy day today, so better get to it. Hope you are well, happy, and having a good one.

Fri. June 10, 2022: At The Desk

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

Friday, June 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy/sunny and pleasant

Boy, did it rain yesterday! We needed it, and hey, no more pollen on the car. But there were intense bands of it.

Meditation was good, and Charlotte was right there with me. Got some admin work done. Did a library run to drop off/pick up books. The librarians are stressed by the unmasked patrons. They’re all still masking.

Unpacked and washed the second box of teapots. It feels good to have some of them back, and I’m eager to bring the others back up in autumn.

Freelance Chat was good. Lively conversations, with lots of resource-sharing. I feel very lucky to be a part of the group.

I also enjoy CounterSocial a lot. I’m finding so much kindness and in-depth conversation over there.

I started on a script coverage, then put it aside to negotiate a radio script contract. We came to an agreement, I signed, I did requested revisions on “The Collector” and I was paid before I’d even sent off the revision. That’s the way I like to work! It’s not a ton of money, but it was handled with professionalism and integrity, and I’ll choose that every time. This producer has the first look/licensing option on the next three radio plays (and then I have to finish the dirigible radio play for the other producer).

So this writer has to get busy at the page! Monthology draft first, though.

Started reading the next book for review. I read the first book in this series, and this one is the second. Zero character growth, which is a shame. There was a lot of potential here.

Ellen Byron’s book didn’t get delivered today; now it’s been promised for tomorrow. As long as I have it for the weekend. That’s my treat for finishing my work.

The public hearings about January 6th are powerful. What happened that day is horrifying. Every single insurrectionist needs to be in prison. Those who are elected officials need to go to prison for life, or be exiled from this US and ever allowed to return (or profit).

This is what happens when you allow yahoos to romanticize the Confederate flag for decades, and allow white supremacy to flourish.

 My short story “The Ramsey Chase” has an alternate history future for the US, where the Confederate States seceded again and the US is a series of smaller countries. That doesn’t look far off the horizon right now, even though it was written back more years than I like to think about.

Slept reasonably well, for the first time in a long time.

On today’s agenda: writing, script coverage, a quick trip to Pittsfield for a couple of things. I hope to finish everything by a reasonable hour, so that I can enjoy the start of my weekend.

I will have a journal prompt over on my Ello page later this morning.

I plan to write through the weekend – the Monthology story, work on the Big Project, work on the radio plays – but I also plan to enjoy myself. And, you know, Farmers’ Market tomorrow, which is my big social event of the week!

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 9, 2022: Unpacking Teapots

image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Rainy and cool

Yesterday started rainy, then cleared up and was beautiful. I have a garden post over on Gratitude and Growth.

I didn’t get much writing done, which was frustrating. My brain decided it was Friday. So I focused on the client work first, after I’d gotten through all the email that stacked up while we were gone on Tuesday.

I turned around three scripts, in and around unpacking most of what we brought back up on Tuesday, and figuring out where to put it.

The box of Johnson Brothers china came up. I adore Johnson Brothers china, and I have a combination of it from my grandmother and that I’ve picked up in thrift stores and yard sales over the years. I can spot a Johnson Brothers design at 50 paces. Some of it is original, and had to be handwashed. Some of it is reproduction and can go in the dishwasher.

I also brought up my Pyrex and corning ware dishes (that are from the 60’s and 70’s), because we needed more of those dishes.

Two boxes of teapots came up. I unpacked one box and washed it, reminding myself of the story behind each pot. There are three more boxes of teapots which will need to come up in the autumn. They have to be all handwashed. Also in the box was a ceramic decanter and a pair of goblets that I picked up in a thrift shop and just love. I’m not sure yet where to put them, but I love them.

I might post the stories behind each teapot on my Ko-fi page.

I ordered an island cart for the kitchen. I need more counter/storage space. I wasn’t going to spend the money right now, but it was on sale right now, so I did. It will arrive on Monday. Not looking forward to putting it together, but the extra prep space and storage space are much needed. It’s on wheels, so I can stash it in front of the cookbook bookcases when it’s not in use.

I’m designing the way the new seat covers are going to work on the kitchen chairs, because traditional recovering isn’t going to work. Originally, I was going to staple the fabric to the frame, and then re-screw the seats into the chair frames. We’ve had problems with those screws since we got the chairs. Instead, I’m going to make like the quick change theatre wardrobe person I am and put snaps on the covers and the seat bottom, so I can remove these and wash them as needed. Then, I’m going to Velcro down the seats to the frames, allowing more stability and the flexibility to remove the seats as needed.

There is measuring and math involved, but needs must.

Somehow, in all of this, I managed to bruise the index finger of my right hand. I’m not sure if this is fallout from the bruising to that hand when I broke the bowl on Monday, of if I hurt it some more in the storage unit or unpacking. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s badly discolored, and definitely gets worse when I type. I’m keeping an eye on it and treating it with arnica cream. It’s not like I bang hard on the keys when I type. If anything, I have a light touch. (I worked with someone a few years back in the office, and she always pounded on the computer keyboard, and I’d think, “what has that keyboard ever done to you?”).

Anyway, meditation this morning, then work on The Big Project and the monthology story, then over to client work.

“The Collector” radio play has been accepted by the producer in New York, so we are talking contract terms. I’m very excited.

I have to do a library run today (books waiting). I’d planned a quick run to Pittsfield, but I think I’ll wait for better weather, tomorrow or over the weekend.

Ellen Byron’s newest release, THE BAYOU BOOK THIEF, is supposed to arrive today, the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook series. That is my treat for the weekend, along with finishing Helen Whistberry’s THE MELODY OF TREES, which is just wonderful. I also have a book to turn around for review, which I will try to do this afternoon.

This time last year, I was in moving hell, and it was so hot and humid, it was difficult to function. I am grateful  to be where I am now.

Have a good one, my friends.

Tues. June 7, 2022: When You Break The Important Bowl

image courtesy of Chuttersnap via Unsplash.com

Tuesday, June 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Saturn Retrograde

Partly sunny and warm

Talk about a weekend that was all over the place.

Mercury went direct on Friday, thank goodness, so there was a huge burden lifted. Don’t talk to me about the shadows of the retrograde; we’d spend far too much time in trouble if we had to tack on two extra weeks at each end of already too many Mercury Retrogrades every year.

But, of course, as Mercury turned directed, Saturn (the planet of life lessons) prepared to turn retrograde on Saturday, and they squared. Which caused tension.

Did a library run to drop off/pick up books, and then out to Wild Oats for eggs, guacamole, wine. You know, the basics. Turned around two scripts.

Read a book from an author whose work I’ve read a great deal of, over a great many years. Wasn’t that thrilled with this one. It was within her formula, but missing the sparky quality that usually sets it apart in the genre. It felt like she dampened it down to please a more conservative audience, and it didn’t quite work.

Up early Saturday morning, fussing over the plants. First thing, when they opened, I went to the Farmers’ Market, which is now in the outdoor location, and weekly through October. Got some great stuff, enjoyed talking with the vendors and the other shoppers. One woman starts at the Williamstown market, then hits North Adams, and keeps going. Saturday is her Farmers’ Market day.

Since I was out in that direction, I hopped into Big Y and filled in the other groceries I needed for the week’s meals, built around what I got at the Farmers’ Market.

Good thing I’d decided to drive.

Hauled everything home and upstairs, and put it away. Made a big salad for lunch.

Turned around two more scripts in the afternoon, and played with the next Monthology section. Had to deal with an issue with the storage facility on Cape.  They tried to put through the autopay early and whined that it was refused. Yup. That is correct. I put in a safeguard so it can’t be pulled early. The new owners suck, and I need to make arrangements to get things moved up here as soon as I can afford it (and find a storage facility not too far away. They are not plentiful here).

Read REAL MEN KNIT by Kwana Jackson, which is delightful. THE ENCHANTED MAP ORACLE arrived, which I like, although it’s very different than I expected, when I ordered it.

Dinner was salmon with softened onion, tomato, and red pepper aioli on romaine, with buttered steamed spinach. It was good.

There was an extra Zoom meditation session this week with Be Well Be Here, and I practiced with the group. Definitely helped me sleep.

Up early on Sunday, thanks to the cats.  Breakfast consisted of delicious blueberry muffins from Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery. But we also were out of the house early to visit Natural Bridge State Park, which is only a couple of miles away (and in the same town). The park entrance is right next to a mill where I’d attended a chamber event a few months back.

It’s absolutely beautiful. I posted some of the photos on my Instagram feed. It used to be a marble quarry. I hadn’t realized we had marble quarries here in New England, and I don’t even think I’ve ever seen marble out in the wild. Pretty stunning. The dam and the waterfalls are lovely.

The bridge itself is shut off right now, awaiting inspections. I assume there are safety issues. We’ll go back another day, when it’s all opened back up. A conspiracy of ravens was in one of the large trees on the cliff. They didn’t mind when we walked past first (as the only humans around), but when some others arrived, they were carrying on like they were having a group nervous breakdown. I guess they’ve learned humans are bad.

They were definitely ravens and not crows; much bigger than my local murder of crows, and the call is different.

Read Fiona Leitch’s MURDER ON THE MENU, the first book in her Nosey Parker series set in Cornwall. Although it’s set in a fictional town, there were also lots of familiar touchstones from places I’ve visited. The writing is great, the characters are fun, the plot is good. I wanted to read more in the series. Turns out, although it was only released last year, the whole series undergone a rebrand. This book is now THE CORNISH VILLAGE MURDER and all the covers are redone. The whole series has new titles and new covers to play up the Cornish village aspect. I wound up buying the whole series for Kindle, and pre-ordering the 5th one that will come out in August.

I’m noticing how the traditional authors are being pushed to release multiple books a year, often several in the same series within just a few months of each other. I have a sneaking suspicion they’re being paid less to work harder. Even before I got sick, that was one of the things that was killing me with my small publisher – being pushed too hard to write too much too fast for too little money. Pay writers enough and let them keep a sane schedule.

The publishing industry needs to make a lot of changes in order to be sustainable. Part of that is getting the corporate overseers out, and having a renaissance of smaller publishers with actual vision, who also have enough resources to pay their writers, editors, production people, artists enough on which to survive.

Started reading Jennifer Weiner’s THE SUMMER PLACE, which is a different style than many of her other books I’ve read before. Good for her, not sticking to formula, but writing what interests her.

The big drama for Sunday was a fire across the street, in the historical building that houses student apartments. There was a kitchen fire in a supposedly empty apartment. A couple of guys showed up and tossed burning things onto the pavement and poured water on it, and didn’t want the fire department to show up. But someone called them, because two cars of cops, and EMT, and two fire trucks showed up. The firemen were not amused by the way the guys packed smoldering materials in garbage bags and just poured water on them. Everything had to be undone and checked to make sure it didn’t catch again, thank goodness. And the fire department went in and brought out the blackened stove and several rods’ of burnt curtains. How did it even start? The apartment’s been empty since late May.

The building itself has Historic Preservation status, having been built in 1899, and it’s gorgeous. But this is the third time since we’ve lived across the street that the Fire Department has had to visit.

Dinner was chicken with honey barbecue sauce, in the crockpot, and potato salad.

The cats got me up before 5 on Monday morning. I was not amused. All three of them ganged up on me. At least there were lemon muffins from the Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery to which to look forward!

Slogged through a bunch of email, blogged, did the rounds, wrote a little over 1K on The Big Project, worked on a social media ad, worked on a blurb and log line for a project. Turned around only one script, not two, which means I have three to turn around tomorrow, because I can’t turn any around today.

Broke a beautiful vintage bowl from the 1950’s, the one I use to let the bread rise. I’m furious with myself, and have no sympathy for the fact that my hands are banged up. “Oh, it’s an accident, these things happen” doesn’t cut it. It was my responsibility to take special care of that bowl. And I failed, after making sure it was safe for decades. Which is unacceptable. I’m going to try to piece it together again; I think I’ve retrieved all the pieces.

Today will be challenging, and there’s no use talking about it ahead of time, so we’ll catch up tomorrow. Spare a good thought my way if you can, and we’ll catch up soon.

Fri. May 27, 2022: Shattered

image courtesy of Marcela Bolivar via pixabay.com

Friday, May 27, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Mercury Retrograde

Rainy and warmer

I was awakened just before 5 AM by crashing glass.

And cats running in all directions.

I must have left an empty glass on the table in my reading corner. I’m usually conscientious about putting the glass into the dishwasher as soon as I’ve finished with it, to prevent just such an occurrence. I must have been distracted.

It was 5 AM, so it’s not like I could turn on the vacuum without disturbing the neighbors (wouldn’t’ have had to worry about that in the previous house). So I picked up the larger fragments, and used the dustpan and broom on the room. Then a damp paper towel to get any tiny fragments. Then, I had to catch each of the cats and check/wipe their paws for any glass shards before they licked said paws. There was a good bit of howling and carrying on, but no blood.

So much for not disturbing the neighbors.

But the shattered glass represents how I feel right now.

The almost daily gun violence, on top of the over a million dead in the pandemic, are soul-shattering.

As more and more information about Uvalde comes out, and the incompetence of the police response is brought to light, it gets even worse. When I see the photos, I see white men who are unfit, both physically and psychologically, for a job to “protect and serve.” They use the uniform to bully. Like all bullies, when faced with a situation requiring intelligence, ethics, skill, and courage, they fail.

The mayor’s bloviating to aid in the coverup doesn’t help, either.

Congress continues to fail us. Their holiday weekend is more important than staying in their offices and working on ways to fix this. Except, of course, for Republicans, who are speaking at NRA and right-wing conferences. They’re busy fulfilling the agenda of more death. More blood. Because that is what turns them on.

There is a way to hit the NRA, and that’s through filing a complaint with the IRS that they’ve violating the terms of their status. I’ve posted the link multiple times, but I bet you, dollars to doughnuts, that I’m the only one who actually files the complaint.

I’m just sick of everybody right now.

I wrote and submitted the book review yesterday, and have been assigned another book, which I plan to read over the weekend. No scripts in the queue, so I will look at it as a gift of time. Got out a couple of half-hearted LOIs. Did a trip to the library to drop off/pick up books, and then to the grocery store to shop for the weekend. We do have some plans, although we intend to avoid people (especially unmasked tourists) as much as possible. Much of it depends on the weather.

I took Charlotte out on the back balcony in her playpen. She was very good.

Willa, however, carried on in the kitchen like she’d been abandoned. She screamed and cried at the kitchen window, and then tried to pry the screen out of its frame.

She won, of course. Because the cat always wins.

I went inside, put her in her playpen, and took her out, too. There’s barely room for both playpens, but it was better than the screaming, and she settled down.

Freelance Chat was fun. Some good tips, as usual.

Made a smoked trout spread. By accident, I used a recipe different than the one I usually use (both are in FOOD & WINE cookbooks). It’s good, it just wasn’t what I expected. Cooked pasta for dinner.

Last night was the final meeting of the Knowledge Unicorns, at least in present form. What should have been a joyous time was, instead, one filled with anger and grief. Some of the kids are the same age as those who were slaughtered. Others are going on to college, or taking a gap year, or are in other grades. There has to be another discussion, in July, about whether the parents want to risk sending those still in school back to school next year, or if all of them will switch to homeschooling, for gun violence reasons as much as for virus reasons. But right now, we all need a break. And it’s time for me to step back.

I feel shattered, heartbroken, and out of sorts today. How could I not?

I’m trying to get in a run down to Pittsfield for a few things early this morning, so that we’re home by noon, before people start converging for the holiday weekend. I doubt it will be the chaos that usually happened on Cape – for one thing, there’s no bridge to back up traffic for hours, and multiple roads. But I’d still rather be home, up on my second-floor porch, watching the mountains, and above it all.

I’m not sure if I will rest or try to write this weekend. I do have to turn my closet from winter to summer; that will take some time. But I need time to grieve the destruction of the country in which I was born and where I’ve spent my entire life, that has been taken over by Christofascists who find murder sexually gratifying and lucrative.

I need to give myself time to grieve, and then I can start making practical decisions.

Have a good weekend, friends, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Thurs. May 26, 2022: When The Day Evaporates

image courtesy of Christoph via pixabay.com

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Partly sunny/cloudy and pleasant

There’s a garden update on Gratitude and Growth here.

As I mentioned yesterday, while I was at the laundromat, I did 26 pages of the multi-colored draft on CAST IRON MURDER. Yeah, that will take some time, to clean up the sloppy language. I’m keeping some of it as a cadence choice for a particular character, because it supports/reveals who she is, but will fix it in plenty of other places. So much for being happy with the book!

Had a terrific conversation with my Llewellyn editor about the article I’ll write for them in 2024. Which will be contracted in the next couple of weeks, and due in August. Because almanacs work two years in advance. The material I wrote last year for next year will release in August.

It’s also a reminder to put reworking the Cerridwen iris Shea website into the schedule for this summer, as well as sorting through the twenty-six plus years’ worth of material I’ve written for Llewellyn annuals, where the rights have reverted back to me, and I can publish them elsewhere. That’s kind of a major project, since there were years where I had multiple articles in multiple annuals, which is part of the reason I burned out.

Another thing on the list, right?

And then, the rest of the day just sort of evaporated. Much of it was due to the combination of grief and rage against the elected officials for allowing continued gun violence and refusing to do anything about this. I’m tired of my government’s determination to kill me and those about whom I care (and even those about whom I care, who I don’t know). I’m tired that we are expected to pay to be murdered. It has to change. Part of that is that Democratic leadership has to change. They need to be as ruthless, no, MORE ruthless than Republicans.

I did some research, and found out that one can file a petition with the IRS is a tax-exempt organization has broken the rules. I looked at the checklist, and the NRA has broken many of them. Gathering supporting documentation won’t be difficult. I posted the link multiple times, but I doubt anyone else will do anything. I also worked on a letter to Chuck Schumer demanding Joe Manchin be removed from all committee assignments. Stop pandering to someone who stabs us all in the back at every opportunity. The carrot hasn’t worked. Used the stick and beat the SOB into submission until he’s voted out. I’ve worked with Senator Schumer. I like and respect him a great deal. But he’s not ruthless enough. If McConnell can always get everything he wants, Schumer needs to be just as much of a dirty fighter.

We took Willa out on the back balcony in her playpen in the afternoon. She was fascinated by the sights and smells. So different from being out on the deck on Cape. I will have to take the cats out in the playpens by turns – there isn’t room for all the playpens at once, like there was on our deck. So each day, one of them gets to go out. I have a feeling Tessa won’t like it, but I at least want to give her the option. Charlotte definitely wants to go out. And she’s very good in her playpen.

Put in a Chewy order. The food Tessa likes is out of stock; I’m trying one bag of a similar one, and ordered treats and the cactus scratching post. Because the 100% response to the Twitter poll was that I should get it (like I wasn’t going to, anyway). I had to buy a toy, too, to get it up to the level for free shipping.

I’m trying to look at the lack of script coverage work as a gift of time, to heal from burnout, and enjoy it, rather than worrying.

I read the next book for review, and will write up/submit that today, and hopefully get assigned a new one before the holiday.

Meditation this morning, then some work on the Big Project. I have to do a library and grocery run, and then it’s back to the page to work on the Monthology story, some more edits on CAST IRON MURDER, and the radio plays.

There’s plenty to do, I just have to stop frittering away time.

Have a good one!

Published in: on May 26, 2022 at 6:23 am  Comments Off on Thurs. May 26, 2022: When The Day Evaporates  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tues. May 24, 2022: Writing, Reading, Research

omage courtesy of congerdesign via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Partly sunny and cool

Friday wound up being a lovely day. It was sunny and warm. I started at the library to drop off and pick up books (there were 10 waiting for me).

I headed over to Williamstown, looking for the Historical Museum, and couldn’t find it. I did find the public library, which is sleek and beautiful, with a garden full of blooming lilacs. The staff is lovely, and gave me detailed directions with landmarks. I scoped out the library – it’s definitely a place where I want to spend more time. Lovely, light reading areas, and a sleek work area.

And people are still masking. By choice. Which is great.

The Museum was much farther from the college/town center than it seemed on the map, but I found it. It’s a lovely building. The person staffing it is new, so we had to figure out where things were.

I looked at the exhibit, and found information about a Williamstown resident’s untimely demise that had been told to me as happening up the street from me here in North Adams, which resulted in a ghost in the building that is now the Mason Hall, so I will have to do more research. I also found information on a pair of sisters who farmed around the turn of the century, and want to know more about them.

The staff person found the file (somewhere neither of us would have thought to look), and I settled in. Much of the information was more recent, about the flood that finally wiped out the Spruces, and the rent battles the tenants had with the town leading up to it.

But there was some of the earlier information. I found contradictions and sanitization of information I’d found from other sources, which I found very interesting. It has set off ideas on how I want to build the character who heads the fictional community, and how I want to put him in competition with the real-life guy. Al Bachand, who was the actual visionary behind The Spruces, reminds me, in a lot of ways of David Belasco. My theatre pals will understand the reference. For anyone who doesn’t, I suggest looking up both names in your search engine, and reading some of the biographical information, and you’ll see what I mean.

Bachand was quite a character, a man of many talents and appetites. I want to build the fictional counterpart, who is in deep rivalry with him, to be even more over-the-top. Most of that is because it will suit the story I want to tell better. Part of it is because members of Bachand’s immediate family are still alive, and it would be disrespectful to use him in the series the way I want and need to use the visionary behind my fictional park. So I’m building a character that is somewhat inspired by him, but also very different from what I’m researching on the man, AND a character who is obsessed with the idea of besting Bachand (but can’t ever really do it). I also want to build the geography of my fictional park a little differently than the real Spruces was built, so it can serve the needs to the series.

In order to do this, I’m doing something I call “stretching geography.” By that, I mean creating fictional places and integrating them with real ones. I do that in CAST IRON MURDER, where I created the fictional Berkshires town of Persimmon. It’s got elements of Cheshire and Dalton and Clarksburg in it. While I’m vague about exactly WHERE it is (I talk about neighboring towns, including North Adams), it’s sort of stuffed between Cheshire and Adams, in my mind. I have to figure out the name of the town I want to put in competition with Williamstown and the Spruces community, and where I’m going to shove it. I want it close enough so that there can be actual competition between the two communities. That won’t come up in the series arc in action until several books in, but I’m going to seed the tension from the first book.

Anyway, there were notes in the research file that will lead me to other sources that I will go back and poke around in on another day.

I may have to buy another sketchbook just to draw the maps of my new community! The one I bought recently is dedicated to the maps I need to draw for The Big Project.

The lilacs are in bloom here, and it does my heart good to see and smell them. I still miss the ones I nurtured for a decade, but being around lilacs makes me happy.

On the way home from the museum, I stopped at Korean Garden and picked up chicken tangsooyuk, which was delicious.

There were no scripts in the queue, but I’d sent off my review and the invoice before I left for the museum, and was paid and had my next book assigned by the time I got back, so I decided not to panic.

Instead, I started reading UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR by TJ Klune, which is so beautifully written.

Meanwhile, in the back of my mind, I let the Retro Mystery percolate, and the monthology story percolate.

I prepared a big batch of black currant tea and put it in jars in the fridge, so I’d have something cool to drink over the very hot weekend.

I put up a one-card reading with the Herbal Tarot up over on my Ko-Fi page.

Saturday was World Meditation Day. I’d been invited to several all-day online sessions. While I was tempted, I was more drawn to not being online all day, and being quiet and internal instead.

I did some more research on the building here in North Adams. Turns out that there was a similar accident within a year of the one mentioned in the museum in Williamstown. Two different women, in similar family situations, killed in automobile accidents, about a year apart. I dug and did more research on both women, their families, and the accidents. I found some papers on them at Academia.edu, which is great, only now they email me multiple times a day with ideas on other stuff.

It also led me to research on Alice Ramsey, who drove across the country in 1909, and I put aside some information on that, because that sounds like fun inspiration.

I finished reading UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR, which is a beautiful, beautiful book. I started reading UNDER SKELETON LOCK AND KEY by Gigi Pandian, which is a delight.

It got quite hot on Saturday. Not unbearable, but hot enough so that I spend the hottest part of the day supine, reading. And letting things percolate.

I turned a script around on Saturday, too, because I was able to grab one. I typed up and revised the flash fiction, “Discoveries” that will go up on Ko-Fi this week. I put up a one-card reading with the Herbal tarot on Ko-Fi here.

Sunday was also hot, and much more humid. I had computer problems again; the computer took an hour to get up and running again, with screen freezes and all the rest. I hate Windows11.

But before that, I had a good day writing, in longhand, on the front porch. I’m going to need a new journal book before the end of the month, my third this year. I also wrote six pages on the idea spawned by the information about the two young women who died in automobile accidents up in Pownal, that I’d been researching. I’m writing my way into it. The plot is taking shape, and, once I’ve written my way into it a little more, I will stop and do an outline, if it’s viable. I figured out a way to connect the two women. It’s fiction, inspired by the real Elizabeth Botsford and the real Mary Houghton, but it’s definitely fiction.

The Houghton graves – and that of the chauffer who killed himself after Mary’s death – are up the street in Southview cemetery. I may go up there and look around, one day when it’s cooler.

Preakness Day was on Saturday afternoon. They should have cancelled, due to heat, and no one in the stands was taking any Covid precautions, which was rather disheartening. I wanted the filly, Secret Oath, to wipe the track with the boys, but she came in fourth, which is still pretty good. Early Voting won, and my baby Epicenter came in second.

I finished reading UNDER LOCK AND SKELETON KEY, which was so much fun. I also read A DEADLY BONE TO PICK by Peggy Rothschild, which was also very good.

I was assigned the word with which to start my poem for the World’s Longest Poem. I figured out the first two lines, and played with them, rhythmically, until they worked. But then I couldn’t figure out where to go with it.

Fortunately, it percolated overnight, and I woke up with the third and final line. We can have up to five lines, but I’m saying what I want to say in three, so there’s no need to witter on.

I worked the final line until it fit the rhythm, so I could send it off by noon. Also wrote two pages on the ghost story, and 1200 words on The Big Project.

More computer problems, especially with the keyboard, which is very frustrating. In case I haven’t said it often enough, I hate Windows11.

This computer is only two years old and has been babied as though it was made of Swarovski crystal. There is no reason for it not to run perfectly.

I’m also sick of people who tell me I should have a “backup computer.” Who can afford that? The computer which I PAID FOR INCLUDING AN EXTENDED WARRANTY should do the job it’s supposed to do, for more than the first couple of months, especially because I take care of it.

Sent off my bit of the poem, which is both exciting and terrifying.

I walked to the library to drop off and pick up books. I was delighted to literally stop and smell the lilacs several times along the way. I took some photos of the Houghton Mansion that I will use in my research, although my fictional mansion will be set up a little differently. I’m not going to have the added-on bulk of the masonic hall, which looks as though it should house a swimming pool. I may have that portion of the house be a ballroom instead. I’d written two more pages on that piece in the early morning writing session. The story is coming out a little differently than I expected, but I like what it’s doing. At least, so far. And I’ve figured out how to tie the two women’s deaths together in fiction, although they were only tied together by location and type of accident in real life.

Went down a research rabbit hole about Mary’s friend, Sybil. The birth, death, and marriage records point out where a lot of the sensational stories appearing on the various haunted house websites bent the truth. Probably through a lack of careful research, but still. It also took a bit of digging to find out what happened to her mother, Cordelia, after the deaths of her husband and daughter, but I found some information from reliable sources. Her two other daughters helped care for her, until she died, several years later. I’m changing that in the novel; the character based on her remarries and starts a new life, and that is tied to the deaths not only of Mary and Sybil, but Elizabeth, in a way that simply does not have evidence that happened in real life.

 Then, I went back to searching a particular record I want in relation to the Retro Mystery, but couldn’t find it. Could find records around it, but not that one. It’s a specific marriage record, and it makes me wonder if that marriage took place out of the county, such as at Niagara Falls or somewhere else. I found out that one of the inspirations for a character in the story is still alive and living in this town, so I have to make even more certain that her fictional counterpart is very different. However, my intent for her is to be a positive, dynamic character in the series.

Finding the facts, and then deciding how I’m going to change things so it works for fiction, and do so in a way that honors the real-life inspirations, is an interesting process.

Knowledge Unicorns was a lot of fun. Finals are done; it’s mostly about field trips and running out the clock. And our last session is on Thursday. It’s bizarre to think that we’re done, after more than two years. But they’ve built a strong support system amongst each other, so whatever comes next, they can handle it together, and I can step back.

I’m reading DISORIENTED by Elaine Hsieh Chou, which is by turns, funny and disturbing. The writing is beautiful.

Charlotte woke me up at 4:20, and Tessa rousted me out of bed by 5. So another too-early morning. Got some writing done, and fussed over the plants.

We have Some Plans for today, which hopefully will go well, and I’ll have a lot of fun stuff to share tomorrow.

Peace, friends, and have a good day. We’re headed to a long holiday weekend, and I am ready for it!

Tues. May 17, 2022: This, That, and Other

image courtesy of monicore via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and cool

So it was Mercury Retrograde chaotic. Friday morning, after my first writing session on the porch, I decided to do the script coverage in the morning, so I’d have a longer weekend, but it all took longer than expected. Plus, it took an hour to get the computer limping along again. I also cleaned out the refrigerator, which was a bigger job than I expected, but it’s clean and shiny and we got rid of those bits and bobs that tend to take up residence in the back of the shelves and morph into scary monsters.

By afternoon, I was tired, even though the work wasn’t that difficult. I read on the porch, played with the cats, fussed over the plants. We’re having wasp issues this year, again. I managed to kill one of them; according to MOTHER NATURE’S HERBAL, I can use sugar water to get rid of them. If it continues to be an issue, that is what I will do.

I was actually happy for most of the day. I’ve been almost afraid to be happy since the move, afraid the other shoe would drop and something else awful would happen. But we are happy here. This was the right move. We love the home, we enjoy the city, there’s a lot for which to be grateful and to enjoy every day. I need to allow myself to experience that instead of being afraid of it.

My mom turned over her winter clothes for her summer clothes. Willa “helped” – which was pretty hilarious.

I made a simple dinner of breaded flounder, rice, and steamed vegetables for dinner, and we had gelato for dessert. Time to stock up on the gelato!

Rough night again of strange dreams and waking up with stress memory. Charlotte has decided she prefers to sleep either stretched out along my back or curled up against my chest. Which is sweet, except it’s a little too hot for that. That’s more of a winter thing!

Up early on Saturday, another sunny and hot day. I wrote on the porch, with Tessa for company. After yoga, I switched out the flannel sheets for bamboo sheets, and switched out the comforters.

McAfee forced me to renew the virus protection (nearly a month early). They gave me a “discount” and then I had to uninstall the old version and install the new version and restart the computer (which was having screen freezes anyway). When it all got fired up again – every screen looks completely different. Every feature runs differently. I assume that’s part of Windows11. I haven’t decided how I feel about it yet – I mean, it’s a sleeker, more modern look – but it’s different and I have to get used to it.

Did a bunch of paperwork that had to go out on Monday. Signed up for Counter Social. I’m @DevonEllington over there.

Usual Saturday housework stuff.

If you missed the Self-Care for Mercury Retrograde oracle spread over on Ko-fi, you can find it here.

Made potato salad and put some chicken in the crockpot with honey barbecue sauce. Switched from flannel sheets to bamboo sheets, and put away the winter comforter for the summer, rose-patterned one (Charlotte’s favorite). Fussed over the plants, including changing the water in the birdbath. Put together two of the three small shelf units I bought. They’re much nicer in person than they look on the package. The third unit is missing a shelf, so I had to return it yesterday.

These two small units are for my tarot cards, only I don’t think they will all fit, and I’ll still need to use some space in the blue bookcase (where they all used to live, in the other house, but where I also have writing books and poetry books now in my office).

Finished repotting the rest of the plants bought last week, repotted the last Cape Cod geranium, and planted some more seeds: the new morning glory, cat grass, some marigold seeds sprinkled in with the ruby cherry tomato we bought.

The college across the street had their graduation on Saturday, and it was a beautiful day for it. It was joyful in the neighborhood, although one young woman, wearing shorts and a tee shirt under her robe (and high heels), walked by and said, “Oh, my God! I just realized it’s all over. What am I going to do with the rest of my life?”

As someone who knew what I wanted by the time I was six, that made me laugh.

The neighbor across the street put rows of solar lights along the path to the front steps. Which is great, I love that they’re decorating. However, at night, it kind of looks like a landing strip!

We discussed the various road trips that have been on the table, that we hoped to do this summer. We decided to cancel the trip to Ithaca. It was supposed to be a pilgrimage to Moosewood Restaurant, but they keep having to close for a few days here and there as their staff tests positive for COVID. Which means their patrons are being selfish and going out to eat while positive. Even with outdoor seating, it’s not worth the risk. We’ll put it off, and see how things are in fall, or next summer. We’d also considered doing a quick hop to York, Maine, just for an overnight. But, with the variants being more dangerous for those over 60, even with double boosting, we’re not comfortable doing an overnight in a hotel, even if we can get our favorite pizza in the area as takeout. So that’s cancelled (although we have the sneaking suspicion we’ll have to head that way for a funeral at some point over the summer; a family member is not doing well).

I still hope to do a back-and-forth with friends to Beacon. I’d like to visit there, and would love them to visit here. I’m still hoping to do a day trip over to Saratoga during race season to visit with friends there whom I haven’t seen since before we moved to the Cape.

My mom really wants to do a couple of small trips, since she’s basically been in isolation for going on three years now. So we picked a few places nearby and will do short day trips. And I’ve got a book of unusual places right here in the Berkshires we can visit. We didn’t really get a chance to explore much last summer, because we were so traumatized and exhausted by the move.

Plus, with a season pass for Windsor Lake, we can pop up there whenever we want.

If we take our jaunts midweek, it won’t be as crowded. We won’t eat indoors; we’ll get takeout and eat in a park or something. The great thing about freelance is that if I take off a day midweek, I just work a weekend day, and, as long as I meet my deadlines, it doesn’t matter when the work is done, as long as it gets done. When we return, we will follow decontamination protocols, and we will continue to mask indoors. I mean, not at home, but I’m still masking at the grocery store, library, anywhere else I go inside. And when we travel, we will do the same.

So that discussion and those plans took a lot of stress out of the mix. We won’t be able to get a storage run in before Memorial Day, so maybe we’ll do one in early June, and then nothing until autumn again. I’m hoping I can get enough work this summer so I can afford to rent a storage unit up here and move everything up. If I can even find a storage unit up here. But the prices listed are much less than I’m paying on Cape, and it certainly would be easier to get at things. And maybe store things seasonally.

Dug into my Elizabethan theatre research again, for a long-time idea that might, later this year, be ready to form, if I tweak it into an alternate universe, instead of making it historical. An idea on a book about Jonson and his masques gave me an idea for an arc for The Big Project, should I decide that the initial arcs are strong enough to support continuing. (That will all make sense when I publicly announce what The Big Project actually is).

I have to figure out when I can make an appointment at the Williamstown Historical Society so that I can do some more research into the history of The Spruces for the Retro Mystery. I’m pretty sure I want to write it for this year’s National Novel Writing Month in November.

The eclipse energy started hitting me in the evening, and my emotions were all over the place.

Tessa let me sleep until 6:30 Sunday morning, which was wonderful. It’s light enough and warm enough now to do my first writing session of the day (in longhand) on the front porch, and once she’s had her breakfast, Tessa joins me. The scout crows stop by and we all have our morning chat. Tessa has developed a really strong relationship with the two scout crows. They chat every morning. And it’s not like the birds she wants to catch, out back, with the swishing tail and the predatory body language; it’s a chat.

Still having trouble with the computer. It takes an hour to boot up every morning, even from sleep mode. Then it takes about 20 minutes to start running properly, without freezing screens. If I take a break for a few minutes, with the laptop lid up and it goes into screensaver mode, it takes 20-40 minutes to rev back up. Usually, if I take longer breaks, I put the lid down to protect the keyboard from cats and dust, but then I have to start the whole hour boot-up process again.

This is not okay. It cuts in too much of my workday. How is this an “improvement” or an “upgrade”? I have PLENTY of space on the hard drive for this upgrade.

I got the email for the World’s Largest Poem, giving me the heads-up that I will get my prompt in 7-10 days. So excited to be a part of this.

Edited three chapters on CAST IRON MURDER. The pace, the flow, the story, are all working, thank goodness. Updated my tracking sheets, too.

Took “Personal Revolution” down and will revise it so it can work on more platforms. Since it’s set around the 4th of July, I want to make sure it’s clear of all the previous outlets before the re-re-release. Looking at it, it needs more revision than I’d hoped.

Updated the Devon Ellington Work site.

Finished reading TO MARRY AND TO MEDDLE by Martha Waters, which was kind of fun. The theatre/backstage scenes were done particularly well, and I appreciated that.

Started John Scalzi’s THE KAIJU PRESERVATION SOCIETY, which promises to be one of his typical wild rides.

We had thunderstorms, so I took down the hanging baskets, worried they would get pounded. Students are moving into the ground floor unit across the street; I wonder if they’re there just for the summer, or are staying all year.

Up early on Monday, thanks to Tessa. The computer actually booted up pretty quickly. Got some blogging done, and put up the GDR post for the week, which you can read here. Started revisions on “Personal Revolution.” It needs more work than I’d hoped, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Revised three more chapters for CAST IRON MURDER. Got the inbox down from over 1000 emails to just over 200. Looked at some calls for submission. Did some admin.

The morning was gorgeous, and I got out and did errands: returned the shelf unit missing a shelf for a refund (they’d sold out of the units, so I couldn’t just swap it out); dropped off/picked up books at the library; went to the liquor store.

Found out that Berkshire Gas is doing their inspection of the lines today (the one where I’d been trying to get actual information for weeks, and finally just turned it over to the landlord). They may or may not have to come into the apartment. Which meant I spent the afternoon cleaning instead of working. Not that the place is dirty (I mean, I cleaned over the weekend). But still. I wanted it to be even better. I mean, we still haven’t unpacked everything yet, and we’ve lived here for nearly a year.

Finished reading John Scalzi’s THE KAIJU PRESEERVATION SOCIETY, which was a wild ride. I don’t know how he does it, but that brain of his is certainly unique. Read THE AMBER CROWN, by Jacey Bedford, which was a much grittier alternate world fantasy than one usually gets. Started THE BONE ORCHARD by Sara A Mueller, which is fascinating.

Thunderstorms and intense rain came through in the afternoon and evening. But it’s absolutely gorgeous this morning.

The MADE IN MARSEILLES cookbook arrived yesterday. The jerk of a postman (I think our former, lovely postman retired) also left a package for 10 numbers down the street with my package. So I went down the street (in the rain) to make sure they got it. Our former postman loved his job and all the people on his route. This one doesn’t give a crap about any of it, and doesn’t even pretend otherwise.

Doing some last-minute cleaning this morning, and taking the garbage out. Then, it’s back to the page in the morning, knowing I could be interrupted at any point for the inspection. We’ve closed the doors to the bedrooms and the laundry room, and the cats are very confused.

I hope to work on revisions for CAST IRON MURDER, The Big Project, and the radio plays today, along with some script coverage. Tomorrow morning, the car goes back in, hopefully, to be fixed once and for all.

I’m hoping to even work outside on the back balcony, in one of our enchanted garden spots. I’m pretty sure if I do, Willa will want to come out, and we’ll put her in her playpen for safety.

I’m not talking about the three mass murders by gun over the weekend, or how the Supreme Court continues to force its ideological agenda on the country. This post is long enough. That will wait for a different day.

Have a good one, friends.

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

image courtesy of Gretta Blankenship via pixabay.com

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and warm

Just like that, we leapt into summer. It’s gorgeous, and as long as the humidity stays low, I’m fine about it.

Details of how we’re setting up our garden spaces are over on Gratitude and Growth.

The computer announced it was doing the Windows11 Upgrade at 7:30 in the morning. It took 14 hours. Not a happy camper.

Fortunately, nothing was on deadline or in the script queue, or I would have been screwed.

I mean, Mercury Retrograde and all that, but fourteen hours?

I let it run, and went about my non-computerized day. Yeah, I know, it says you can use the computer while it’s upgrading up until the point where it needs to restart, but that simply wasn’t the case. I managed to get the blog up, and check email, and that was a struggle. So I closed down the tabs and let it run uninterrupted. And it still took 14 hours.

I went to the library to drop off and pick up books, and to get my Commonwealth catalogue sign-in issues resolved. Because I need my access to the Commonwealth Catalog!

Went to pick up my mother’s prescriptions, and to go a quick grocery shop.

Home, and we did some repotting (even though it wasn’t a planting day, according to my calendar, but the new plants can’t wait until Saturday). We ran out of potting soil, so that’s on the list for today’s errands.

I’d made a sesame-poppyseed dressing for which my friend Artie gave me the recipe when he’d visited the Cape house several years back. I made it before we started the repotting, so it blended by the time lunch rolled around. I tried to re-create the spinach and strawberry salad he’d made us. It wasn’t as good as when he made it, but it was still good. And the recipe makes plenty of dressing (which is really good), so I put it in a glass jar, labelled it, and we can enjoy it with other salads.

We started setting up the back balcony, which is also detailed in the G&G post. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re getting there, and it’s a lovely space. The rug is a little short; if we can find another one to match it, that will unite the space better. We also put down the rug and rearranged the enclosed front porch (also detailed in the G&G post).

And collapsed onto the chairs on the porch with a cocktail when we were done!

But both spaces feel really good now. We can enjoy using them until it gets too cold in the autumn.

Since I couldn’t do any computer work, might as well get this done, right?

Made a mushroom-spinach crabmeat concoction for dinner, wrapped in phyllo, and remembered how much I loathe working with phyllo. It was decent, but the mushrooms overpowered it, and the crabmeat wasn’t a high enough quality to hold its own. Also made a batch of lime cilantro mayonnaise, and a big batch of curried chicken salad. Used up all the cilantro I bought, which had already started to fade, although I bought it this morning.

The Radio Theatre Project wants to do “Pier-less Crime” later this month. I’m delighted. I love working with them. They’d hoped to do it when everything shut down, so there was a delay, but they’ve performed the entire Frieda/Laz trilogy.

Once I figure out how to make the dirigible play work, they’ll get first crack at it.

I have two scripts in my queue, one for today, and one for tomorrow. I’m way under my pay goal with that client this pay period, but I earned more than expected from the client for whom I finished the five-month project (the contest), so it balances out.

Meditation this morning, and then I want to get some writing done. Later this morning, we are going to run some errands, and then it’s script coverage in the afternoon. I have to learn how to navigate Windows11. It looks different, but as long as I can do what I need to do, I’ll adapt. It wasn’t working well at all this morning, so I wiggled some keys, not really knowing what I was doing, but it works now.

I have a ton of email to slog through, some paperwork to do, and catch up on Ello. But somehow, it will all get done. I’m trying to retrain the stress sense memory from last year not to be so reactive to every little thing this year.

Spending the early morning first writing session of the day in the lovely garden spaces helps. Tessa isn’t sure about the rug on the porch. It feels strange under her paws. But Charlotte was really sweet with her (for once) showing her all the new stuff this morning. And the two scout crows peered in and made a few comments. Willa was still in bed. She “helped” yesterday and is Very Tired today.

Have a good one!

Published in: on May 12, 2022 at 7:17 am  Comments Off on Thurs. May 12, 2022: Making the Most of Tech Issues  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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

image courtesy of strikers via pixabay.com

Friday, May 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

Yesterday was a bit of a rollercoaster.

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

Charlotte sat with me for the regular Zoom meditation group,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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