Tues. Feb. 14, 2017: We Vote So We’ll Be Left Alone

Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Waning Moon
Sunny and cold
Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day. Please know that each of you is valued.

When you live on Cape Cod, your life revolves around the weather no matter what else is going on in the world.

So it was this weekend. We had some storms come through, although not as bad for us as predicted. The family in Maine got about two more feet of snow dumped on them, with more on the way.

But I stayed in, wrote A LOT (I think nearly 70 pages in total), researched the Italian Renaissance, studied Constitutional Law. On Sunday, I had to drive to a designated site to take the quiz. It was not a space conducive to concentration. I did reasonably well on the quiz — two questions wrong. But, for my own standards, getting any wrong is not okay, so I’m frustrated with myself. But when you’re on a timed site and people keep coming up and talking to you, demanding you drop what you’re doing to take care of them — even though it’s not your job, and you’re just there as a fellow patron — even if you say, “I can’t talk, I’m on a timed site”, it breaks the concentration needed to be successful on the material. However, there’s no room for excuses. It was what it was, and I’ll just have to do better next time, no matter what the distractions.

Add to that snow shoveling and power fluctuations, and I’m a little tired.

Add to that the work I’ve been doing with my elected officials, and I’m even more tired.

So, General Flynn apologized and resigned, and now we’re supposed to forget. Um, no. There’s no way he behaved in a vacuum. He knowingly took actions that sabotaged a sitting president and put the country at risk, and I believe he did so with the full knowledge and encouragement of the incoming president. That is not okay.

There needs to be a full and independent investigation, not just of this portion of it, but of the interconnections. Treason is going on. Not a mistake, not jumping the gun — treason.

Every Senator who agreed to the rushed confirmation and voted for this guy needs to apologize to the American people (with additional apologies to their own constituencies) and cooperate in the investigation. I believe that the investigation will find that some of them colluded and others were complicit in their silence. It needs to be untangled.

Supporters of the Narcissistic Sociopath now want David Patreus to take over. Someone who’d have to get permission from his parole officer to travel. Someone who shared confidential security information with his mistress. Just because she was also American doesn’t make it okay.

Anyone who is nominated must be thoroughly vetted BEFORE confirmation. No more of this rushing. The GOP needs to stop ramming both the unqualified and the corrupt down our throats.

Any Senator who continues so to do must be removed as soon as is possible, be it in the next election, or because that individual, too, is discovered to have committed treason.

Treason is not “disagreeing” with the government, or protesting. It is knowingly and willingly working to undermine it, which the GOP has been doing since 2008. It has to stop. Their oath is to Constitution (meaning “We the People”), not party. Anyone who does otherwise has to go.

That’s why, in all this discussion about flipping districts, I’m not blindly supporting someone just because there’s a “D” next to the name. The individual needs to be researched. If I don’t think a candidate is ethical or able to stand up for beliefs, that candidate is not getting my support, no matter what the letter next to the name. Blue Dog Dems need to go — there’s no reason to have someone in there with a “D” next to the name if they’re going to vote blindly Republican instead of Democrat, or at least standing as an individual. The party platforms are now far enough apart so that if you support one or the other, that’s the party you sign with. If you don’t believe in healthcare or Medicare or Social Security, then don’t run as a Democrat. Putting someone in to a slot just to get enough letters in a particular column doesn’t do any good if they disagree with the policies that got them into office in the first place. You can be bipartisan without betraying either party or country. It sounds contradictory — support your party, but don’t be afraid to stand up to them. Some would say that’s what Blue Dogs do. It’s the “why” that needs to be dissected.

It’s great when there are issues that can be bipartisan — let’s hope the Flynn/Russia interference with elections investigation is one of them, and that there can be more. The point of bipartisan is that you’ve reached a consensus that works IN A POSITIVE WAY for the largest number of people possible. You don’t diminish the greater good; you add to it. And yes, you put your constituency and country AND YOUR OATH TO THE CONSTITUTION before your party. But not out of a fear of not being re-elected; out of a belief that what you are doing is right FOR THE PEOPLE you represent. FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS. When you’re getting thousands of calls from your constituency telling you to vote against something and you vote for it because it’s the party line — you need to go. You don’t vote the way companies or special interests want, just because they bribed you, as our Secretary of Education did. Call it “donation” all you want — that chick bought her position and is woefully unqualified for it.

Again, I think we need more than two legitimate parties. Not fringe, foil-hatted parties. But genuine parties with clearly defined positions on a variety of issues. Right now, the bigoted racist misogynists have hijacked the GOP. Let them have their own party, and the GOP can go back to being the party of Lincoln. The Democrats are a hot mess, it’s worse than herding cats, because at least cats have common sense. The DNC is trying to appeal to everyone, and therefore only succeeds at pleasing no one. The party, in general, is just right of center, when it needs to break up to be slightly left of center and far left.

The far reaches of each party need to balance each other. Most of us vote because we want someone to represent our point of view so that we can live our lives and not bother with every bill and worry about every decision and every vote. We want to be left the hell alone to live our lives. There’s a need for extreme on both the left and the right, so there’s compromise in the middle that does the least damage. The most good is rarely done — the past couple of decades it’s been about the least damage. Most of us will live with that — win a few, lose a few, don’t take away my earned benefits or mess with my personal, bodily rights. Go do your jobs and leave me alone to live my life.

Unfortunately, that is not possible right now. The GOP is not only violating the Constitution and supporting the Narcissist in his daily dismantling of it, the GOP is actively interfering in my daily life.

The party that claims to want SMALLER government is determined to regulate women’s bodies, decide who one can love and marry, decide who is allowed to use a toilet, diminish education, force religion into schools and onto people who don’t believe in it, deny others rights because of their religion, take away food safety standards, allow polluters to destroy the earth, encourage the collapse of the ice shelves that will drown a good percentage of the population, sell off our natural resources to special interests who will build condos no one can afford anyway, force the elderly into poverty, force wages down so that people can never climb out of poverty (don’t you fucking say “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” when most people live paycheck to paycheck while the top executives WHO DO NOTHING line their pockets will millions). All of this is being LEGISLATED by the party who claims to want SMALLER government. The hypocrisy is astonishing.

My fellow artists and I want nothing more than to be able to go back to creating full time and not worrying about all the rest, but we take our responsibilities as citizens very seriously. We will keep working against corruption, and to move through the current dystopia to the best possible lives for people, where they have individual freedoms, while also respecting others. We will not shut up. We’re not stupid because we work in the arts. One of the things I’ve learned, since I moved away from an art-centric culture, is how much SMARTER people who make their living in the arts are, in most cases (reality show participants don’t count — they are not artists — they are paid spokespeople).

So, no, artists will not shut up. Art has always changed the world, since the time of papyrus and Greek ritual theatre and Shakespeare and Vaclav Havel. It will continue so to do.

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Monday, Dec. 2, 2013: Adventures in Maine

Monday, December 2, 2013
New Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Sleety and cold

Don’t forget to sign up for the “Organize Your Life” Workshop on Sat. December 7. A few hours on Saturday afternoon, and your writing life is sorted out for 2014! The techniques will serve you well beyond the class and the year. Information here.

We haven’t had a good sit-down for quite awhile, and that’s because I haven’t been around.

Monday night, during the 11 PM news, it became clear that Wednesday was going to be a stormy, difficult travel day. So, we stayed up until 3 AM baking lemon cupcakes and preparing beef stroganoff and putting together everything else we needed to take to Maine. We caught a few hours’ of sleep, called Maine at 8 AM and asked if we could come up a day early. The answer was a resounding “yes”, so I did as much work as possible, and we were on the road by 11 AM.

The drive wasn’t bad — a little testy around Boston, but, otherwise, traffic wasn’t bad and roads smooth. We made a couple of favorite stops up in Kittery and York, but made decent time, and arrived near sunset a little after 4 PM.

We were staying at my great-uncle’s house — a place we’ve visited since the mid-1970s. Many memories tied up in that house. But my great-uncle was moved to a nursing home a few months ago, so the house is mostly empty. Before that, he wasn’t able to do much, especially not cook. In other words, in addition to bringing up all the food we expected to need for the week, we also brought up pots and pans, and, from my writing bag, I had my wooden spoons, can opener, and wine opener.

We relaxed on Tuesday night and went to bed early. I slept like someone knocked me unconscious.

Up early Wednesday — and it was a miserable, stormy day. We were so glad not to be on the road. We hunkered down in the little house. Maine can be spooky, with the dark and the fog and the silhouettes of trees. There’s a reason a lot of horror and thriller writers live in Maine! There’s no internet access there, so I got as much done as I could, then hopped over to the library in the early afternoon, set up there, did what I needed to do online, and came home.

My job on the big Thanksgiving holiday is to make Wednesday’s dinner for the family members who work all day setting up the Hall for the holiday feast. Hence the stroganoff. The stove in the house is AWFUL — a very old electric thing. I was glad I’d done the cooking ahead of time on my good gas stove. It took over 40 minutes to heat the meal up. And no, it couldn’t go in the microwave, it would have tasted disgusting. But we had the meal and the wonderful Portuguese bread and the dessert I made, so it was all good, not to mention the chance to sit around and talk at the meal.

The Big Day consisted of writing in the morning, and then going over to the Hall to set up. We have so many people for dinner that we rent the Legion Hall every year. Everyone tosses in a few bucks for the rental and the food. I help set up, and am in charge of the mashed potatoes and the sweet potatoes. We’re taking vats with 20-30 pounds of potatoes in each, mashed with a four-foot tall masher. Not for the faint of heart.

We had 53 people for dinner this year, of all ages. The tables are in a “U” formation, and there’s the dinner buffet set up on one side, and the dessert buffet on the other. Great food, good company, no egos or drama. The rules are, if you show up, you treat everyone with kindness and respect. Those rules are always followed.

After the dinner, the clean-up crew moves into the massive kitchen and starts washing and drying the dishes. Yes, I help with that, too. I’m on the drying team. Dishes and pans from the Hall are washed, dried, returned to their shelves; personal pans and platters are washed, dried, and set out on the counter for pick up. We all split the leftovers and then go home in a turkey coma.

Shortly after getting back to the house, my cousin (well, not sure how the permutation works, but I call her my cousin) came over and we drove into Portland to visit my great uncle. He’s in an amazing rehab/nursing facility — brightly painted walls, an outstanding, enthusiastic and very kind staff, and it smells fresh without the scent of decay or chemicals.

My great-uncle is now in a wheelchair. His memory’s fading, but he recognized us still, and lit up when he saw us. We took him down to the very cheerful dining room so he could have his dinner, and met some of the friends he’s made at the facility. It’s amazing how they all light up the minute you treat them as an individual, with kindness and dignity. Some of them are fading, mentally, but their bodies are still going strong. Many of them are still sharp as tacks, but the body hasn’t kept up. But everyone was worth spending time and few words with.

My cousin goes every day. By this point, she knows most of the staff and the other residents. She’s practically an additional staff member. She’s also an amazing human being, and I admire her enormously. A lot of it, though, is just talking to the residents like people, which is something all of us did, asking questions, listening to their stories (many of their anecdotes are hilarious — a lot of these were quite the hell-raisers, back in the day, in the best possible way).

We got my great-uncle settled for the night after dinner, and went back to the house, and packed for the trip home. My cousin feels a lot of guilt about my great-uncle being in the facility. However, it’s as good as it gets for that kind of place, and so much better than any other facility of its type I’ve ever seen. He gets excellent, round-the-clock care, which he needs. He also has interaction with other people, more so than when he was home alone, getting checked on several times a day by the family. The family simply can’t take care of him at home, because he needs round-the-clock care, and hiring three shifts/day of in-home care would still mean numerous trips to the ER whenever something went wrong — as it does, unfortunately, quite frequently at this stage in his 96 year old life. He truly has a better quality of care in the facility, and family members visit him every day. In this particular case, it was the right choice.

This is probably the last time we will be in the house. It holds many wonderful memories. There were still some things there from my grandmother (she died four years ago), which my cousin gave me — little mementoes that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else but me, because they hold specific memories.

It’s an emotional threshhold on which to stand.

We drove back on Friday. Very smooth drive. Everyone was far too busy shopping to be on the road except around the malls. Since I don’t shop on Black Friday on principle, I was happy to have clear roads.

I don’t believe stores should open on Thanksgiving itself. I think it’s disgusting. I also believe that stores that encourage brawls — and, let’s face it, the brawls happen in the same stores every year, such as WalMart, because that’s the kind of individual those stores attract — should forfeit their right to open on both Thanksgiving and the following Black Friday, if there is an altercation in the store. The individuals involved in the altercations should be banned from the site for 18 months, so they can’t come back the following year and behave badly again.

Exhausted when we got home Friday, but got some work done Friday afternoon, and more work done on Saturday, although a lot of things went to hell without even the handbasket. I managed, however, to upload all the topics for next week’s class. All I have to do next Saturday is show up and teach. Caught up Friday night with some episodes I’d missed earlier in the week, but what is the use of On-Demand when the show is only available for three days after broadcast? WTF?

By Sunday, I felt like I’d been run over by a steamroller. I got some work done, fretted a lot, tried to rest. It was the first of advent. We managed to get the tree into the stand (the stand SUCKS and is so poorly designed, don’t even get me started). The lights are on, some ornaments are on it, the festive fabric is mostly in place, and some of the decorations are up. It will be a work-in-progress for the upcoming weeks.

I re-watched THE ITALIAN JOB last night (such fun), THE TOWN (I like it better every time I see it), and sobbed my way through ANGELS IN AMERICA. It was a brilliant piece of theatre and translated into film wonderfully.

I’m exhausted and spent, but I have work to do this morning, then I’m helping set up NMLC’s tree at the JFK Library for the Spectacle of the Trees event, and then, who knows? Maybe I’ll get to bed early.

Right now, I have to try and get some work done, and hustle more work for the coming weeks.

Devon

Monday, Nov. 26, 2012: Back in the Writing Swing


The pumpkin I grew — so happy that it came up, even if it’s small!

Monday, November 26, 2012
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury goes direct this evening (thank goodness)
Cloudy and cold

First of all, check out my 200-word flash fiction piece “Love in a Wok” over on Daily Love. Drop a comment, so I know you were there!

Busy week. Wednesday morning, we were on the road by 6 AM. Even with traffic around Boston, we hit Maine a little after 9. Stores were barely open. We made a few stops; bought very little. Part of it was the budget, but there was really very little we couldn’t live without. My favorite thrift shops were a disappointment — Mercury was retrograde, there should have been all kinds of wonderful buys. Tante Tchotke abandoned me this time around! 😉

Had lunch at the Stone Dog in Windham, which is very good, and got settled in to the house. My great uncle will be 96 on Christmas Day. He’s doing pretty well for himself.

I brought the dinner for those doing the set-up, and we had a pasta with sausage-pancetta-cream sauce and some lovely Portuguese bread. Visited, read a bit, had an early night.

Up early the next day. Wrote nine pages (longhand, since I didn’t take the computer) — this piece is coming along nicely. The first four pages were challenging, hard to focus, but then I got into the rhythm of it. Made some notes on a few other things.

The dinner itself was fun — 53 people in the hall. Lots of laughter and catching up, and, as always, the four-foot potato masher and plenty of dishes! This time, we were among the last to leave. Good food, good company, no drama. We’ve been attending this gathering now for 38 years.

Tired in the evening, but read a bit. The books I’d taken with me were all a disappointment — not well-written at all.

Up early on Friday, and back on the road by 6. The fog was intense. It’s so interesting to me how different Maine fog is from Cape Cod fog. Maine fog is somehow more ominous, as though the fog itself has substance. Cape Cod fog is more ethereal, as though it reveals spirits, rather than BEING spirits.

At the last minute, we took a detour to Salem. I hadn’t been there in several years. Because we made such great time — nothing was damn open. You’d think on Black Friday, the stores would open a little earlier, even the small businesses. Nope. So we hung around until 11, when things started to come to life. The architecture is gorgeous there. I hope to take Costume Imp up in the spring.

We got home a little after 1, thoroughly exhausted. Unpacked. The cats had figured out how to pry open the basement door, took their toys downstairs, and that’s where I think they spent most of their time. Got some writing done.

Up very early on Saturday, delighted to be home again. Started getting down the Yule-tide decorations. Spent 4 1/2 hours ironing seasonal fabric, and got the tree in the stand. This year, I managed to get the hardware to work so the tree is steady. Not that it has anything to do with the directions, but it works. That, and three loads of laundry took up the entire day.

Yesterday, I wrote. Pretty much all day. I tweaked the Fearless Ink website — it needs a complete overhaul, but it looks a bit better. I got started on my new brochure, but I’m having graphics issues, getting the graphic sized properly to fit the space. I revised a novella, which will be released later this week, and started tweaking some short stories, which will also release shortly. I worked with my tarot students, caught up on my Greek/Roman Mythology class, took the quiz, and wrote a paper for that class on justice. Ties in with the Harpy trilogy nicely.

Up early again today, and lots to do — have to get back to the decorating — everything’s a mess. Have to get the novella released, run errands, deal with admin crap. Too much to do and not enough hours in the day! But I’m feeling cheerful, even if I don’t feel fully prepared to deal with the season.

Devon

Reminder: Flash 7 Workshop from Dec. 7-16 — write, revise, submit 7 Flash Fiction pieces in 10 days! Details here!

Mon. May 7, 2012: Intense Family Weekend


Mist over the dunes at the Province Lands Center, Provincetown

Monday, May 7, 2012
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Intense few days. Went to yoga on Thursday morning, came back, packed the car, and we were on the road a little after 11. Trip to Maine wasn’t bad, not much traffic, we made good time. We settled in, spent some time with my great uncle, I cooked dinner.

We were up early the next day, breakfast, picked up one cousin who lives down the street and one in Portland, and hit the road. The drive down wasn’t bad, either — we timed it well.

We hit Foxboro around 10:30 in the morning. I was born in Norwood, and Foxboro is where my grandmother lived for many years. I haven’t been back since the mid-90s.

We found the cemetery without any problem, and found my grandparent’s grave. The cemetery is beautiful — extremely well-cared for, and people are allowed to individually landscape each of the graves, which is great (unlike so many cemeteries, now, where everything is supposed to be identical and plain, and everyone is a number, not a memory of an individual). We also visited the nearby grave of another family friend. We spoke a few words by the site, and handed over the ashes to the caretaker, who will bury them today.

We drove past the house where my grandparents used to live, and where I have many happy memories. It looks lovely — the current owners take loving care of it, have landscaped it nicely, put on a new roof, etc. And the property next door (formerly belonging to the person whose other grave we visited) is also lovely. She had magnificent formal gardens, and the current owners have kept them up.

It was strange to see those childhood places through adult eyes.

Something is starting to tickle in the back of my head, an idea; I’m not sure where it

We continued around to the Cape and home. After getting the cousins settled in, we headed up to Cobb Hill — the cemetery where the first arrivals are buried. They came over from Kent, England, and one branch of the family went up to Maine. It was cold and rainy, so we didn’t spend as much time in the cemetery as we might have otherwise.

We went over to Sturgis Library and spent a few hours in their genealogy collection. They have a lot of information on the family — the branch that started here and wound up to Maine, another branch that wound up in West Virginia. It was fascinating.

I cooked dinner, and we all visited and played with the cats. I spent a bit of time with students.

To bed early, but also up early on Saturday. I baked apple spice bread for breakfast. Then, we headed out to Provincetown. Unfortunately, it was another cold, drizzly day. But we got to walk around town a bit (already quite busy) and had a nice lunch. We went up to the Province Lands Observation near Race Point, always one of my favorite places, and I got some interesting misty pictures.

We came home, and someone from Sturgis called — I’d left something important at the library the day before! Someone from the library was coming to my library for an event; I met her there, feeling both stupid and grateful. She is definitely getting a thank you note.

Cooked dinner, uploaded photos, made prints for them, copied the information from the library — by the time I tried to get online to deal with students, it was 9:30 at night and I was incoherent.

Up early on Sunday, made eggs benedict, and we were on the road a little after 9. Not a bad ride up to Maine, in spite of an accident on 93 and one inside the Big Dig tunnel. Dropped off the cousins and turned right around to go back.

I admit, I was getting a little tired.

But it was great to have the family from Maine here, to have them see where we live, and that this move was the right choice for us. They also have been working very hard, and I wanted to give them a happy, relaxing time.

We meant to stop for lunch, but didn’t find what we wanted, so wound up driving all the way back. Instead of going back through the Big Dig, we hooked around again on 128 so we could take the Bourne Bridge. The Sagamore had a two hour delay getting off-Cape, and that usually causes a tangle getting on the Cape, too. We shot over the Bourne Bridge and found off-Cape traffic backed up all the way to our little town, too. But we got home in a reasonable amount of time.

Heated up some dinner and went to bed. That was all I could take.

A LOT to do today, both online and off. The rain last week stimulated the grass — I’ve got to mow. And hit the bank. And put gas in the car. And do some work with my students. And help out a pro bono client. And polish my lectures for Saturday’s workshop.

Billy Root’s blog will go up later today.

Better get to it! I’m tired, but more optimistic this week. I’ve still got some stuff to figure out, but I’m getting there.

Devon

Don’t forget the Amazing Antagonists workshop on Saturday, May 12! You can turn your antagonists from ciphers to complex, fascinating individuals with these tips. More info and registration here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Snowy and cold

The weekend’s been an adventure, that’s for sure, and the week promises to be just as . . .interesting.

Christmas Eve was great, pretty quiet, nice big meal, opened the presents, read, played with the cats, etc. I was up late waiting for the bayberry candle to “burn to the sprocket” for the tradition of “a bayberry candle burned to the sprocket brings food to the larder and gold to the pocket” on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Well, this was a really, REALLY high quality bayberry candle (from the 1856 shop) and it used every smidge of wax, so it took about six hours to burn down, when I expected it to take one.

Santa came and went, he had a brandy (because let’s face it, you can only have so much milk and cookies), the cats got their new toys and played with them, people came back from midnight mass, and I’m waiting for the candle to burn down . . .

And then I couldn’t sleep. I finally got to sleep a little after three and had to be up by six. We did stockings and ate breakfast and were on the road by 8.

The drive to Maine was smooth, not much traffic. I was going to try a way around Boston so I wouldn’t have to drive through the Big Dig, but I misunderstood the signage and wound up driving through it anyway. It wasn’t so bad; maybe I just have to get used to it.

We made it to Maine in 3 1/2 hours, went straight to my cousin’s farmhouse. It’s a large house, from the mid-1800’s, and he’s restored it himself, keeping the original details, restoring a lot of the things he found on the property and in the barn, but also making things like the kitchen and bathrooms updated and workable, while still fitting within the spirit of the house. It was great. We had 12 or 14 adults at dinner (kids’ table in another room), very nice, lots of fun, lots of actual discussions and laughter.

Left around 2:30, were back by 6. There was more traffic going back, but it still wasn’t bad. I was just tired from all the driving and lack of sleep, so I went to bed pretty early.

Started the laundry as soon as I got up yesterday, baked biscuits, got the newspapers and some supplies from the equivalent of the corner bodega — it’s a local store less than a mile away that has a bit of everything. The weather people said the storm would start at 4 PM, so of course, it was already pretty bad by 8 AM. Stuffed the turkey, got it in the oven, kept turning over the laundry — I figured just because we’re snowed in doesn’t mean we can’t have clean underwear.

I went down to get the last load into the dryer and stepped into about an inch of water covering the basement floor.

Yup, you guessed it, for some reason, the washer threw up, nice, clean, soapy water. I shut it off, shut the valve off, and called the owner. He came over (poor thing was sick),went out to get a pump, and we pumped and then wet-vacc’d the basement. The front line of boxes served as a buffer, so I don’t think I actually lost much (and nothing terribly valuable was in the basement), but I think the old rug still down there may be a loss, unless I can unroll it to air out sooner rather than later, and we’ll see how the edge of the box spring dries out. It’s not enough to put in an insurance claim, and it’s more disruptive than damaging.

So the sheets and towels are hanging on the rack downstairs, too wet last night to go into the dryer, but I managed to get the clothes dried and put away. The floor is really clean and smells Arm-and-Hammer fresh! 😉

I wrenched my back very badly rescuing the crates of LPs (the only thing that I was really worried about down there). It’s muscular, so I’m keeping it warm and keeping it stretched. I’ll be uncomfortable for a few days, but it is what it is. A doctor would send me for a lot of expensive, unnecessary tests and then give me a pain killer. I can treat it with stretching, hot water bottles, hot baths with proper salts, salves, and some Excedrin if necessary, and that will actually not just treat the pain but the cause. I just can’t do anything very quickly.

Did I mention this is a challenging Mercury Retrograde?

I put in a call to the repair place, who swears 7-day, same day service and has an answering service. I have yet to hear back. Now, with the weather as bad as it was and the basement pumped out, I would have told them not to come out in it yesterday anyway, but I would have at least liked the courtesy of a returned phone call.

I’m reading gardening books and all kinds of other stuff, trying to figure out what to do in spring. I shovelled out the drive and the front walk around sundown last night, using my new little electric snowblower. The lousy cord works my last nerve, but the actual machine does a good job. The ice melt is also keeping the drive and the walk fairly clean (supposedly it’s pet-friendly, car-friendly, and lawn-friendly). I’ll have to go out and do a little tidying up later this morning, and shovel out where the snow plow shoved stuff from the street across my driveway — because it is JUST out of reach of the blower’s cord.

Today, I have a lot of paperwork to catch up on, and I have to take care of some other correspondence, a blog post due at Savvy Authors, work on the Stephanie Plum lectures, and deal with the assignment for Confidential Job #1. Hopefully, the power stays on and the repairman shows up — I have a busy week this week, and next week Costume Imp is here and we have the party, so everything has to be in working order.

Metro North woke me up every two hours all night with text messages telling me they weren’t in service. I could have figured that one out all by myself. When I lived in NY and was desperate for service updates via text message, I never got them. I asked to be put on the list THREE YEARS ago. You know when they started coming? The day I moved into this house. And now they won’t take me off the list.

Sums up Metro North right there. Useless.

Love, love, love the new chairs, and actually, sitting in them is the only place where my back doesn’t hurt. Considering how much unpacking I have to do this week, and now checking the boxes and seeing how much water damage there is and if anything needs to be thrown out, this was a bad time for it to happen.

But the turkey dinner was really good! 😉

Onward — want to get some writing in this morning; I’m playing with a couple of things.

Devon

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snowing

Spent a great deal of yesterday on conference work, which is as it should be. Unfortunately, it took much longer and was frustrating because the conference site kept kicking me off, and then, when I tried to post, it said I was flooding the site and would be banned. Excuse me, I’m doing my job! After several hours of it, I was ready to say, “No more.” I did sent a relatively polite email to the conference organizers asking for ways around it and expressing my frustration in (for me) relatively mild terms. They’ve tweaked something so the threat doesn’t appear, and now I’m only booted off every half hour instead of every five minutes.

It definitely makes tomorrow’s live chat a challenge, and makes me even more grateful that I have Optimum at home and not Comcast, like I have here, because Comcast isn’t as good or as reliable. Who would have ever thought I’d find a reliable provider? Now, if I can only wrestle away the websites to a new host, I’ll be all set.

Finished reading THE JOURNAL KEEPER, which is lovely. I highly recommend it.

Will go back to THE MANUAL OF DETECTION later today, in and around conference work.

Looks like I will be here until Monday, after all, which is a good thing, although Monday is turning out to be chaotic. I thought I’d have a full eight hour workday here before heading back to NY, but, although I’m still heading to NY in the late afternoon, my workday is truncated because someone else is coming in during the afternoon. I can’t change my ticket — they’re still trying to catch up on the cancelled transportation during the snow — so I have to either try to work elsewhere or do other research, et al for a few hours before coming back, picking everything up and leaving. I will probably do the latter.

Went to Trader Joe’s to do some grocery shopping — it was packed. Seems no one went to the store before the storm hit, so they’re all going now that they’ve emptied the larders. But I can cook and eat properly here now, instead of opening cans or putting something in the microwave or eating out all the time.

A family member in Maine has been diagnosed with cancer — that will change this year’s schedule quite a bit, as I’ll travel back and forth to help out as needed, and we’ll all do what needs to be done so he can recover.

About a block away is a music studio. They’re rehearsing with their windows open, and, due to the direction of the wind, I can hear the pieces. It’s quite lovely. Lots of french horn. Although the 34th time you hear Ravel’s “Bolero”, it gets a little old!

Conference is going well. We had to get some specifics sorted out — things that, to me are common sense, and, had the students pulled that at ANY of the writing programs in the country, they’d have been bounced. But, as a friend reminded me, this is the first conference many have attended, and they don’t know. To me, it’s common sense, and, even when starting out, I wouldn’t have dreamed of pulling such a stunt. But, for the moment, I clarified the position and will give them the benefit of the doubt.

I’m even taking a workshop in a genre out of my comfort zone to push me a bit.

I miss the cats, and, from what I hear, they are being spectacularly rambunctious in my absence, but I’m settling in a bit and getting down to work.

Back to the workshops.

Devon

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I haven’t opened the computer or typed for days. It feels weird to be back. It felt good to be unplugged.

I hope everyone had a great holiday.

Wednesday, we were on the road before 6 AM. We kept hearing how it would be such a heavy travel day — but there was NO traffic all the way through CT, MA, NH, until we crossed into Maine. It was a nice, smooth ride.

I stopped in Portsmouth at Riverrun Books — what a nice store! I bought a biography of Emily Post I’d wanted for awhile, and the time period covers some of my current research. We made our usual slew of stops heading up in Maine in Kittery and York and Wells and even Windham. We had lunch in York, at the Stolen Menu Cafe, which has become one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. The food is outstanding, the service is friendly, and it’s reasonably priced. I really like the Yorks anyway — I could live there, should I choose to go to Maine. It’s a friendly, year-round, arts-oriented community and I really like it. I picked up a few things I needed, stocked up at Stonewall Kitchen, found some decorations I thought were cute, and found my writing bag!

It’s made by Sharper Image, and has compartments for computer, folders, books, everything. I have room for my travel yoga mat, my research materials, everything. It’s on wheels, so I can walk it rather than carrying it. It’s small enough to be a carry-on, but large enough to hold everything I need. It was on sale for about 1/5th of what I’ve seen it at regular retail. So I grabbed it.

Found a skirt — a long, black velvet one that drapes beautifully. Good for formal occasions. Still need some more casual types, but I have a feeling I’ll just sew them in the New Year.

Arrived at my great uncle’s around 3:30. Unloaded, heated up the food, got it dished out to various and sundry. My great uncle wasn’t feeling well, but he seemed to perk up while we were there. My cousin called a few hours later and invited me up to the blueberry farm up the street — I hadn’t been up there since he and his wife worked on the house. I went up and saw the house — it’s an 1850’s farmhouse that’s been lovingly renovated so it’s comfortable and modern, and yet respects the history and architecture of the house. They’ve done a fabulous job. We sat around drinking wine and peeling the onions for the dinner. I’m always just dashing up and back and taking care of the older relatives that I rarely get to hang out with my contemporaries and catch up. So, that was fun.

I’d been up since 4:30, so I was pretty tired. Went to bed early, woke up early, got breakfast sorted. Managed to get in a few hours of writing. We went to the hall around 12:30 and they handed me the potato masher (which, by the way, is 4 feet long because of the vats of potatoes to mash) the minute I walked in the door! We got everything finished and dished out and sat down by 1 — 52 people for dinner. My great uncle (who’s in his 90s) was feeling much better and had a good time. The food was great, as always, and so was the company. Most of these people I only get to see once a year, so it’s kind of a quick catch-up, but it’s good. We’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and everyone gets along, at least for the day! Any arguments are left outside, and everyone respects that rule.

And it’s definitely an example of “many hands make light work” — people pitch in and everything gets done. We all washed up, left the hall better than we found it.

By the time we got home, another branch of the family who doesn’t come to hall came by to visit — one of the cousins I hadn’t seen for about 15 years! We were really close when we were kids and teens. So that was a nice catch up.

Another pretty early night for me. I was too tired to even read.

Friday morning, we were up early and out of the house by seven. Although I rarely shop on Black Friday (and I’m not a mall shopper anyway), we drove up to Freeport, to the flagship LL Bean store. I needed a sleeping bag for various and sundry travels coming up in the next year and change, and they’ve got good ones. We had a quick breakfast in the cafe — really good, the coffee (Coffee by Design is the fair-trade company) was outstanding. We picked up a few additional things, got some ideas for when we have the house, and were back on the road in about an hour.

The drive back was not fun. The weather was dreadful — heavy rain. Of course, the forecast was for “light showers”. Right. And the temperature was dropping, so it was pretty clear it would soon be snow. We managed to outrun most of the storm, although it was still sprinkling by the time we hit Sturbridge.

Earth Spirit Herbals, one of my favorite stores, closed at the end of July, but supposedly a garden center down the street carried their oils and herbs. However, we couldn’t find the garden center, so maybe that’s not open anymore, either. We backtracked and had lunch at Admiral O’Brien’s, which is right next door to where Earth Spirits used to be. The food is great, and, again, the prices are good and service friendly. So, we had a good hot lunch and were back on the road.

We managed to get home by about 3:30, which was pretty good. It took a few trips to haul everything upstairs, and there were packages waiting for us, including my next assignment from Confidential Job #1.

Saturday, I was up early and writing. Hit Costco to stock up on things like butter and eggs, stocked up on some other stuff at various stores. Did the test runs of the cookies all afternoon. My mixer was useless and caused a major setback. And the recipes for rolled sugar cookies and butter cookies don’t hold together and the dough doesn’t work as well as the recipes I usually use, which are from the 60’s and 70’s, so, next year, I go back to them. I thought both the sugar cookies and the butter cookies tasted a little bland. And the dough was hard to work with.

I made a rolled cookie that I cut out into angel shapes — it’s a kind of a sugar cookie, but with eggnog. That turned out pretty well, and the eggnog icing should bump it up. I did a lime-flavored cookie that’s really good, but it doesn’t pack well, so I can’t use it for the cookie plates.

I made a lemon shortbread that’s really good, but my idea of cutting it into Lighthouse shapes and frosting it — again, I can’t make the volume I need, and it’s not very packable and stackable.

Frustrating day.

Sunday, up early, writing. Looked at Bed, Bath & Beyond for a new mixer. The prices were ridiculous, and if I can bend the paddles with my bare hands, it’s not going to work. I don’t have the money or the room for the standing Kitchen Aid Mixer, although that’s what I want. But I can’t justify spending over $300 for one. Headed to White Plains to Trader Joe’s for a few things, and then to the Chef Central where I found the decor sugar I needed AND a Kitchen Aid hand mixer that does everything the standing mixer does — for $40. Grabbed it.

Not only does it work beautifully (and it has dough hooks for the next time I make bread), but, because it works properly, it took me three hours less to make the same amount of cookies.

I made a rolled chocolate cookie. I wanted to cut them into moose shapes (“chocolate moose”), but the design of the cutter and again, the dough’s lack of ease in working made it impossible. Also, the moose cookies are so big that I couldn’t get the volume I need to make for the plates. I tried making reindeer, but they didn’t hold their shape while baking, so I tried a different cutter and ended up with chocolate BOOTS. They’re okay, but, again, I don’t think I can make the volume I need.

I need at least 100 of each cookie to have enough for the 30 or so platters I’m doing. So I need a cookie that’s sturdy and that I can do in volume.

I made the molasses spice cookie — it’s one of my favorite recipes ever. Fantastic, easy to work with, makes a lot. That’s a definite for the platter, along with the Toll House. I can make more sugar cookies if I need to – and I think I will.

I also made a cranberry “sandie” — one of those melt-in-your-mouth cookies. I love them, but again, not a lot of volume, and I don’t think it’s sturdy enough for the platter. I also made an almond-hazelnut crescent, grinding the nuts to an almost flour-like consistency. Unfortunately, the cookies disintegrate if you pick them up or even try to move them. They taste good, but, again, not something packable and stackable.

What I’m going to have to do with the almond crescents is make a trifle with them by doing a layer of sponge cake, a layer of chocolate mousse, and then a layer of the crumbled cookies, another set of layers, topped with some raspberries and whipped cream. It’ll be fine, but it still doesn’t make a cookie for the platter.

So, the center of the platter will have a small gingerbread cake. I’ll surround it with Toll House, sugar, and the molasses spice cookies. I’m on the fence about the eggnog cookies. If I roll them and cut them thicker than the recipe says, I think they’ll be packable and stackable. A peanut cookie might be good, but so many people are now allergic to peanuts that I worry.

I do a cheat sheet with a photo of each cookie and ingredients so if there’s anything someone can’t have, they can avoid it.

Also spent a good part of the weekend packing and stacking the stuff I need to move for the furniture swap. Thursday comes up quickly.

I haven’t started decorating for the holidays yet. It doesn’t make sense to do it and then have to move everything for the furniture swap. Once the furniture is swapped out and I can put stuff back and rearrange and get some breathing room, I’ll decorate.

Haven’t started the cards yet, either, and the overseas need to go out by the end of the week.

I’m still working on the Christmas story, but I’ve got enough done so it’s in design. I also have to start another story due at the end of the month for an anthology and the steampunk TODAY. Even though I’m behind, I have to keep stacking things up or I get even more behind.

I’m headed to Long Island later this morning to acupuncture. I definitely need it. The next two weeks are going to be insane, but that’s the way it is. Time Management. NONE of these balls can drop, so if it means longer hours and harder work, that’s the way it is. It’ll be fine, just a lot for the next two weeks, and it all has to get done. No excuses, no room for letting anything slide. Once the furniture swap is done on Thursday, it will be much better. Even though next week will be busy, there will be more physical room in the place, which will allow for more psychological room.

I’d love to just take a nap and wake up on Christmas Eve with everything done, but that’s just not going to happen! So I’m gearing up for a busy couple of weeks.

Devon

Saturday, September 12, 2009

IMG_0340
Maine

Saturday, September 12, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I’ve got a great interview with the wonderful Colin Galbraith up on A Biblio Paradise, where he talks about his terrifically unique novella STELLA. Hop on by and leave a comment.

There’s also another wonderful essay up, by Christopher Hayes, someone whose work I admire enormously, a meditation on grief in the wake of 9/11, and his own personal loss.

Yesterday, I was what is commonly known as “a waste of food.” The migraine is down to a low throb, but still there, I’m trying to get the last bits of things done before I leave, and I don’t feel like doing any of them.

I managed to pack, although how I can have so many dozens of socks and NONE of them are in any shape for this trip just makes me shake my head. Whether they need darning or are just orphan socks — amazing. So I may just save myself some aggravation and buy yet more new socks.

A publisher sent a rant to all the contracted authors which I felt was inappropriate, not to mention in bad taste. If you have a problem with specific authors, discuss those issues with them privately. Don’t scream at all of us. If you feel we’re all useless, well, that says more about you than about us. Whatever. Gives me information I need to move forward. It was not smart to send it out during Mercury Retrograde (when communication is screwy and people talk past each other anyway), yet I found it interesting that it went out as Pluto turned direct, since Pluto retrogrades reveal what’s hidden. True colors shown and all that. Fascinating. I decided to step back and let the cow patties being thrown hit the ground, rather than taking them in the face.

It was interesting that one of the other authors backed the rant, preening and posing, agreeing but pointing out how that particular author was excluded from the rant, like the author was “all that.” Hon, if you were “all that”, not only would I have heard of you, I’d have reviewed your work for Confidential Job #1 by now. Since neither have happened . . .

2010 will definitely be a year of change for me. And I’m going to be a lot less accommodating than I’ve been in the past year and change.

Check out the musings on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions page.

I’ve got a busy day ahead, mostly errands. I forgot to get my watch fixed — this will be the first time I’ve worn a watch in seven years — so I hope I can get it fixed today. Or else I’m watchless, which I think is what I subconsciously want anyway.

Until tomorrow, friends,

Devon
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Maine. Possibly the setting for the next Jain Lazarus short story.

Published in: on September 12, 2009 at 7:59 am  Comments (3)  
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

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Sunday, July 19, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Here is one of my ultimate “bad kitty” photos of Violet, Elsa, and Iris on the table, where they KNOW they are not allowed!

It was quite a trip, with a rocky start due to the telephone kerflamma and the City Council meeting the night before we left. We didn’t get to sleep until 1:30 in the morning, and had to be up at 5. So, Thursday was a long day.

Traffic was bad all the way up to Maine. I guess that’s a good thing — means people are out on vacation. But it made driving — when we were already tired — more difficult. And the weather was odd — showers off and on.

We stopped in Kittery to pick up a few things, I found a few things I can use for Prague, and then headed up to York, where I restocked supplies from Stonewall Kitchen. And we got a new jam — a Strawberry Apricot Brandy concoction that is fantastic!

We had lunch in York, at a wonderful local spot called The Stolen Menu Cafe. I hardly ever eat red meat anymore, but I was craving a burger, and boy, do they make terrific ones. I had it with bacon and sauteed mushrooms — no tomato, no lettuce, no ketchup, no mustard — just a perfectly prepared burger with bacon and mushrooms. Delightful. Their coffee’s great, too.

Meandered on up Rt. 1, past the usual haunts. I miss the bookstore in Wells where I always stopped — the guy retired a few years ago, and the large old barn is still empty. We made some of our usual stops along the way, and did a bit of shopping. There was a lot of traffic, so I guess people are out spending money, doing their bit to stimulate the economy.

And I collected a bunch of information that will result in at least a 300-piece mailing to prospects for Fearless Ink clients — there are a lot of people, businesses, and organizations in New Hampshire and Maine for which I’d love to write.

Arrived in the late afternoon, caught up on the news with my great uncle, fixed dinner for everyone, and we made it a Very Early Night. I had strange dreams — something to do with John Cusack, a warehouse full of artists (as in painter and sculptors), and health care. I don’t remember the details. It was weird, because I rarely dream about actors, and I don’t dream about actors with whom I haven’t worked. I wish I could remember the details. Then maybe it would make sense.

Up early on Friday, coffee and blueberry muffins for breakfast. Out to take care of some business still related to my grandmother’s death. It was strange to be up in Maine without her.

On a whim, ran into a store to see if they had a suitcase — none of my current luggage works for Prague. They had a Samsonite bag in a lovely color in the perfect size and on sale. It is now mine. I also picked up a gorgeous pair of dress slacks on sale and a pair of jeans. The slacks are comfortable enough to wear all day sightseeing in Prague, but nice enough so I don’t have to go back to the hotel to change if we go out that night.

Picked up a few things at the grocery store, got back to the house, bundled my great uncle and my mom into the car and we drove to a little town called Cornish, that’s close to the NH border. We had a lovely lunch at a restaurant called Bay Haven — fantastic lobster casserole. Really wonderful. After lunch, we visited some of the stores, including Rosemary’s Gift Shop, where the second floor is devoted to a yarn shop. She’s got one of the best selections of alpaca, llama/silk blends, and bamboo I’ve ever come across, and at wonderful prices. I took her card and will sit down and figure out what I need for which project, and then order from her.

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On the drive back, I stopped at some rapids just outside of Standish — it’s something created by the power company — really interesting. I took photographs — I’ll post them over the next few days. Great place to set something.

I’ve got a Jain Lazarus tie-in story and another Rose Olen (protag of DIXIE DUST) percolating.

My great uncle rested when we got back, but my mom and I took a walk — Little Sebago Lake is close by, but too far to walk (we discovered the hard way). I hadn’t realized how much land the family owns — it’s really wonderful.

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Lots of terrifically spooky woods, and then the massive blueberry fields and all the rest. The blueberries need to be harvested soon (calendar-wise), but there hasn’t been much sun, so they’re not ripening as fast as usual. Some sort of insect bit me — not a mosquito. Whatever it was took a chunk out of the skin on the top of my wrist, leaving a little hole. Ick. It’s a little irritated — I’m going to treat it today.

I’d been wondering why I got stuck so early in DEAD MAN’S STALL, which is set in Saratoga during the summer race meet. I think it’s because there’s a Rose Olen story that happens earlier, between DIXIE DUST and DEAD MAN – and is set in Maine. I’ll give her relatives in Maine, and she and Simon visit in the summer, before heading to Saratoga. It’s starting to come together, and now the outline for DEAD MAN is even making more sense. Amazing how that works. So I”m making notes on this, inventing a new lake, because I need stuff to happen that’s different from the lakes here, but will stretch geography to place it in the vicinity. And I think that Rose’s relatives will run a Morgan horse farm. Yes, still focus the mysteries on horses, but not race horses this time. It’s all percolating. I wanted this to be a tie-in, but I have a feeling it will wind up being a novel.

I found out there was a health care reform rally in Portland, but I found out too late to go. I don’t think John Cusack was there, so that disqualifies the dream from being precognitive. 😉 I was also invited to attend an art opening in Kennebunk for women artists, but found out too late — it takes about an hour to get there from here, and by the time I arrived, it would almost be over. Gosh darn it. I would have liked participating in both events. The Clam Festival started in Yarmouth today, but, since there’s an outbreak of Red Tide up here right now — I skipped it on purpose. No clams or mussels for me on this trip, I’m afraid! I’m sure the retailers are very careful . ..but so am I, especially when I don’t know the retailers personally.

I did eat way too much lobster. And I always feel like a hypocrite, because I won’t cook lobster — I cannot bring myself to put a living thing into a pot of boiling water. But I’ll eat it if someone else cooks it. So report me to PETA.

Speaking of PETA, I was so darned annoyed when they criticized President Obama for smacking a fly when the same day or maybe it was the previous day, a couple in Oklahoma skinned a puppy to make a belt. Why wasn’t PETA all over them? And where were they when the psycho teen in NY put her friend’s kitten in the oven “as a joke”? Yes, the kitten died. THAT chick’s on her way to serial killer-dom. THOSE are the types of incidents I’d respect PETA for protesting — not the President smacking a fly so that they can get attention. I’m disappointed in them.

I packed up my grandmother’s art books (she was an art teacher) and taking them back with me. I also brought back my grandfather’s college yearbooks from Amherst College in the 1920’s. They’re pretty amazing, and I can definitely use them for research.

Up early Saturday and on the road. It was raining — a shame, because Wells was supposed to have an all-day Pow-Wow. That was something else I wished I could attend. The farm stand we wanted to stop at was closed so early, but we went down to — I think it’s York Harbor — to have breakfast at Goldenrod. The staff is very nice. The food is basic and no frills — I’d have liked a bit more seasoning in the eggs. But it’s hearty and filling. We walked around the town a bit– an old-fashioned seaside town, really nice.

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We went into Whispering Sands Gift Shop because they have a lot of moose-oriented merchandise, and I’m a sucker for anything with a moose or an owl or an otter — and I bought a couple of cookie cutters. When I make the spice cookies for the Christmas packets this year, some of them will be moose-shaped!

We stopped in Kittery to exchange something bought on Thursday — the place was packed. Well, people are out there doing their bit to stimulate the economy, right? We’ve all got to do our part! 😉

Instead of hopping back on I-95, we stayed on Rt. 1, and went through New Hampshire on that. Rt. 1 isn’t exactly a back road, but it isn’t the highway, ether, so we got to see a stretch of road we usually only zip past. I wanted to stop at Drake’s Antiques in North Hampton — I’d seen quite a few large advertisements and it’s supposed to have a wonderful array of furniture, linens, and books. However, when we got there, although there were flags outside saying “Open” — all the doors were locked. So we got in the car and left.

It’s a shame, because that was their one shot to get me as a customer, and once I’m a customer, I tend to come back a lot. I’m looking for some specific pieces right now, too, so I was there to buy, not just browse. It was out of our way, we arrived within posted business hours, during high season and . . .nothing. Oh, well.

For some reason, I missed the turn back to I-95 over the MA border, and before we knew it, we were in Danvers. When we’re on the highway, that stretch seems to take FOR – EV-ER! Yet going Rt. 1, even at a lower speed limit, seemed to take hardly any time at all because we were looking at new sights.

Back on the highway, navigated Rt. 128 (ick), made a note that I need to get back to up Lexington and Concord at some point in the next few months for research, and onto the Mass Pike. It moved pretty well until about 10 miles from Sturbridge, where it was heavy, slow traffic, and for no good reason.

We hopped off at Sturbridge to visit Earth Spirits, one of my go-to spots for herbs and oils. And they’re CLOSING as of July 31. I am devastated! The herbs and oils are moving down the street as part of a garden center — next time I’m in the neighborhood, I’ll stop in and see how I like it. But they won’t have the books or the stones or the candles or the incense or the other stuff that I loved. They’re selling fixtures — there’s a gorgeous oval oak table that I wanted to buy, but how would I get it back to NY? It wouldn’t fit in the car, even without all the luggage. I stocked up on herbs, they’d sold through the oils I needed, so I’ll have to get them elsewhere, got a few stones, and a couple of books, including another book on oils and blends that has some recipes I want to try. And a book on holistic pet care.

The rest of the drive back was uneventful. We got home in the late afternoon, unpacked. The cats were delighted we were back. Elsa seems fully recovered. Unpacked, played with the cats, had a quiet evening.

I was supposed to go to a holistic pet care workshop this morning, but it was cancelled. I’m going to use today to rejuvenate, maybe catch up on some correspondence, and pack some more stuff to go to storage. I want to get the bulk of that done so that I can do the furniture swap sometime next week. I’m also very tired, for whatever reason, so I bet I’ll take a nap. I was vigilant about my morning yoga practice, but I missed my evening workouts all last week, and I can feel the negative effects. I’ll have to fix that this week.

Have a great Sunday, all!

Devon

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde

Lots of good food and interesting sights. Maine is such a beautiful state! I wish I could spend more time here.

It’s a little strange to be up here without my grandmother. She died right before Thanksgiving last year, and Thanksgiving was kind of in her memory. This is our first trip here completely without her.

Devon

Published in: on July 17, 2009 at 7:12 am  Comments (1)  
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
No idea about the weather — wrote this the night before

By the time you read this, I should be well on the road to Maine for a combination of family stuff and work stuff. Will try to tweet or blog from the road if I can. There’s no internet where I’m staying.

I can tell you that lots of good food will be involved, as well as a much-longed for stop at Stonewall Kitchen in York.

Wednesday was just a lost day in oh, so many ways. I got a little work done, and two loads of stuff to storage.

I managed to get a client project finished, in spite of interruptions.

Some doctor’s office somehow managed to screw up their call forwarding or there was a line mix up or something and everything was going directly to my mother’s cell phone. I was on the phone with Verizon for AN HOUR AND A HALF and they couldn’t do anything, because these numbnuts that were calling their doctor couldn’t tell Verizon the correct name of the doctor or where the doctor was located so we could find another number, and Verizon insisted that the problem had to be fixed at the location. Only we couldn’t contact anyone there because everything went directly into my mother’s cell phone — and the number was nowhere near close.

On top of that, these dumb kumquats who called INSISTED that yes, we WERE the doctor’s office. They refused to believe that there was a screw-up in the line or a forwarding problem. I’m talking phone calls coming in every 30 SECONDS for HOURS. All of them rude, dumb, and mean.

I finally managed to get an outgoing voice message clearly stating the number, that we were NOT a doctor’s office and NOT to leave a message for a doctor because it wouldn’t be returned.

SIXTY SEVEN MESSAGES.

How fucking stupid can so many people be? I could understand one or three, but sixty seven?

I had to clean out the mailbox a couple of times because it was full, and my mom gets messages from people who actually hire her to dog and cat sit. It’s not like I could let the message box remain full until this problem is resolved — if it ever is.

I finally managed to trace down the doctor — why I can do something the phone company can’t is just beyond me — and found a fax number. I faxed the office, asking them to please fix the problem, and I also tweeted about it, hoping it’ll get re-tweeted often enough so somebody has a private number for this doctor and we can resolve this. In the meantime, the phone is off and I check it every few hours to erase the doctor’s messages. Because I am not being paid to be a damned answering service, and the message is quite clear about NOT leaving a message for the doctor.

My mom spoke before the City Council last night, at a public hearing. I was very proud of her (she’s eighty-four). And the misinformation and venom spewed at the Council by another senior citizen was just ridiculous. My mom and I crafted a formal letter to the Council setting out the correct information (that actually has basis in fact and documentation to prove it) and is easily readable, and, when it arrives at City Hall, will be a matter of public record.

The Stupidity Quotient has risen to a level with which I just can’t deal right now.

I definitely need a few days away!

Have pity on the cat sitter! 😉

Devon

Published in: on July 16, 2009 at 2:47 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , ,

Friday, December 5, 2008

2stacys-christmas-blogfest-082

Friday, December 05, 2008
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cold

Yesterday was mostly a lost day; spent far too much time in the morning putting together something that needed to be done and doing other business. Ran some errands. My computer, as usual, sucks, isn’t running properly, and heaven forbid the programs actually do what I need them to do. Someday, hopefully in the not-so-distant future, I can purchase a real computer and dump this Dell/Microsoft piece of crap permanently.

I was hungry, and couldn’t think of anything more wonderful than a bacon sandwich. Let’s just say that was a really bad idea.

Sigh. Someday I’ll be well enough to eat properly again.

Too exhausted and nauseous to do much in the afternoon. I’ve been reading a lot during the last few days. I re-read Rosamunde Pilcher’s Winter Solstice the other day. My mom is a huge Rosamunde Pilcher fan, and I love her depictions of both Cornwall and Scotland, since I’ve been to many of those places. Her books are soothing. She has a great sense of place, and she writes well about animals. I can also say the same about Marcia Willet’s A Week in Winter, which is also set in Cornwall, and includes an hilarious mastiff named Polonious. They’re what I would call “comfort books”.

PJ, thanks for the heads-up on the links to the books. That’s the third time Payloadz has given me the wrong link when I uploaded something, and I am not happy about it. But it should all be fine, and I appreciate so much you taking the time to hunt down the books. I hope you enjoy them! And, everyone else, now that the links are correct – check ‘em out! 😉

I did some work on the Maine project this morning. The premise/basic plot is pretty straightforward, but the character development, the scene detail and the sensory filling out – in other words, the things that will make this piece unique – take quite a bit of doing. In other words, the project is more complicated than I originally expected. But it feels right, so I just have to go with its natural rhythm.

I have to get back on track today, no matter how I feel. I am far too far behind on numerous things, and just have to catch up. I’m looking forward to an intense session for the revisions of OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK. I haven’t talked about it much, because, for some reason, I feel as though I need to protect the work on it. But I think Jain and Wyatt’s fans will truly enjoy this book. Because it’s told through Wyatt’s eyes, the tone is a bit different, but you learn a lot about them.

Back to the page, and wondering if I can choke down some dry toast for breakfast.

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:

too-much-mistletoe-cover-thumbnail
NEW! Too Much Mistletoe A Nina Bell Holiday Mystery by Devon Ellington. Nina Bell is back! Still trying to make a living in the New York theatre world of the 1990s, she’s trying to figure out which is the bigger mystery – a college friend’s disappearance, or her ever-complicated love life, as every man she meets wants to hang mistletoe over her head. Read an excerpt here and purchase the story for only $2.99 USD here .

ramsey-chase-cover-thumbnail
NEW! “The Ramsey Chase” A Remarkable Adventure of Cornelia True and Roman Gray By Devon Ellington
Meet the adventurous Cornelia True of Bodwin’s Ferry, whose life changes forever when “fixer” Roman Gray lands naked in her petunias, and they combine forces to track down a serial killer determined to murder thirteen women in thirteen months for their blood, with his latest victim right there in Bodwin’s Ferry!
Only $1.49 USD for this 10K adventure, the very first Penny’s Dreadfuls release! Read an excerpt of the adventure here.
Purchase the story here.

THE JAIN LAZARUS ADVENTURES
Free limited download
“The Possession of Nattie Filmore: A Jain Lazarus Adventure” by Devon Ellington. If you loved HEX BREAKER, you’ll love spending time with Jain and Wyatt as they try to solve a haunted house mystery. Read an excerpt of the story and download it free here


Hex Breaker
by Devon Ellington. A Jain Lazarus Adventure. Hex Breaker Jain Lazarus joins the crew of a cursed film, hoping to put to rest what was stirred up before more people die and the film is lost. Tough, practical Detective Wyatt East becomes her unlikely ally and lover on an adventure fighting zombies, ceremonial magicians, the town wife-beater, the messenger of the gods, and their own pasts.
$4.00 ebook/ $6.00 on CD from Firedrakes Weyr Publishing.
Visit the site for the Jain Lazarus adventures.

BOOKS FOR WRITERS
Sensory Perceptions: Techniques to Improve Your Writing Through the Six Senses by Devon Ellington. Use the six senses to take your writing to the next level via a series of sense-specific exercises. By the end of seven weeks, you complete seven short stories!. $1.29 USD. Here.


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:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008
Waxing moon
Cloudy and cold

I’m exhausted, both physically and mentally. It was a busy, bittersweet roller coaster of a couple of days, and I feel like I could sleep for about a week.

The trip up on Wednesday was as smooth as could be – no traffic until we hit the Maine border. Couldn’t believe it. In fact, we got to Maine so early we couldn’t stop and eat lunch at our chosen spot in York because it was too early!

We ran some errands, did a bit of grocery shopping, grabbed a snack, and arrived at my great-uncles’s (my grandmother’s brother, don’t know the correct term, so I call him my great-uncle) early. We had a good visit, with them and with some other family.

I’d packed the dinner I cooked, heated it up, we set the table nicely, and planned a festive dinner. Unfortunately, my great-uncle wasn’t feeling well. We were pretty worried about him.

Yoga the next morning – I brought my mat, and, throughout the few days, I was grateful I’d done so. I kept going back to the mat time and time again to stay centered and focused.

My great-uncle was too ill to eat breakfast, so we tucked him in on the sofa so he could rest.

I got some writing done – a bit of work done on the first Mick Feeney story, and about a thousand words on something else, that, if it works, will be something people enjoy. I’d plotted it out in my head in the car, made some notes, and got going. I’m going to set it in a fictional town in Maine, stretching geography to stuff it in around York.

My great-uncle was too ill to attend the dinner, and we were worried about leaving him home alone, but he insisted we go on.

As usual, the dinner was wonderful. Sixty-three people attended this year. A big hall is rented, with long tables decorated and set up. Down one side of the room, the food tables are set up, buffet-style. Along the other side of the room, this year, there were two tables of desserts. And I’m talking the long trestle-tables, not some dainty end table! The kitchen is enormous (I often joke that’s the size kitchen I want), with a huge stove and plenty of counter space to prepare big meals. My job is always to mash the potatoes. Which means standing on a step stool and wielding a four foot long potato masher because the pots are so big!

Almost everyone pitches in to do something, and everyone brings food, so it’s a case of what needs to be prepared at the hall (the potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, gravy, etc.) and what comes in ready and needs to be set out (the turkey, the creamed onions, etc.). We catch up as we do it. I really need to sit down and make up a map (family tree) because I can never figure out who’s related to whom and how, and, especially with the kids, they change so much from year to year that some of them seem like complete strangers every year. Also, I’m kind of shy and sometimes being around so many people is overwhelming, so staying busy in the kitchen is a good way for me to get talking to people and also contribute something to the overall dinner.

We had a real Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon moment (if you don’t know what that means – look it up). One of the family members, now going to college at NYU (my alma mater), was in class with someone from the Broadway show on which I work occasionally. Too funny! The guy in the show was part of the original Broadway company, and had left before I arrived, but I know OF him, and it’s one of those random events that shows just how small the world really is.

The food was great, the company was great, everyone’s considerate enough to keep the drama out of it and get along. Clean-up was quick, because there are so many people to help, and you just sort of catch up on a year’s worth of life.

What surprised and touched both my mother and I was that they are all adamant we keep joining them for Thanksgiving (we’ve gone up every year since 1972, when my father died). The family up there is my grandmother’s extended family, and she included us after my father died, so it wouldn’t just be my mother and I on Thanksgiving. I missed three years in the mid-1980’s when I lived on the West Coast, and two years in the early 2000’s, when I had shows, but, other than that, we’ve got every year since the 1970s. And we did wonder if this would be our last Thanksgiving together. But, over and over again, various members came and asked us to promise to keep coming up. I’d really like to.

I’m sure they wonder why I never bring up a boyfriend, but Maine is really my sanctuary, and I’d have to be pretty convinced that anyone I brought up there was going to stick around for awhile. Also, with the men currently in my life, they were all working this year, plus, from the outside, I’m sure the relationships seem far more complex than they actually are. Too much explaining involved.

Part of the loss of my grandmother equates to feeling like my safety net is gone.

My great-uncle was a little better when we got home, but still couldn’t eat or drink anything, which concerned us. He was livelier than he’d been earlier, though, and we sat up and all had a good visit, swapping travel stories and trying to figure out how some people were related to each other. I’m telling you, I need a map!

We picked out the artwork created by my grandmother for the next day’s memorial breakfast, and I cleaned it so we could set it up in the restaurant. Went to bed pretty early, because I was tired; had hoped to get both more reading and writing done, but was just too worn out. We also figured out which of her friends still needed to be notified of the death, and we’ll help with some of that this weekend.

Up early the next morning. My great-uncle still didn’t feel well, but wanted to come to the breakfast in memory of his sister, so another relative drove him over closer to the start time, while my mom and I packed the car with our stuff and the artwork and headed over early to help set up. A cousin of my grandmother’s also came with more artwork. It turns out that many people attending didn’t even know my grandmother was an artist.

She was very talented. She could paint, draw, work in pastel, pencil, pen and ink, charcoal, etching, silkscreen, and even do some metal art. She was a wonderful portraitist She was of the age where, as a woman, family and duty were always put before pursuing dreams, and that was always a bone of contention between us, because I’ve refused to get married and take care of a man rather than create a life in the arts. I’ve been lucky to have some great men in my life; I’ve also had some not-so-great men in my life; none of them have been worth giving up the writing. Writing is breathing to me, and I’ve been ruthless in not letting anyone keep me from the page. I also take care of an elderly mother, have taken care of several friends during terminal illness, and, when my grandmother was so sick in the last years, driven back and forth as often as possible to do whatever I could do help (although it never felt like enough, especially in these last years when she needed constant care). I haven’t met someone that I felt was an equal partner on this journey on a daily basis, and I’m not willing to settle for less. I’m willing to compromise, but not capitulate. I see far too much capitulation in far too many relationships around me, and, for the most part, it’s still the woman who’s expected to give everything up to “support” the man, instead of each supporting the other. It created huge tensions between us at times, but I made the right decision for me. I believe she could have been a working artist – she was a working art teacher for years – but there was always the excuse of needing to “do” for someone else. That was her choice, and I hope it was the right one for her, although one can’t help but wonder about her untapped potential.

In any case, the breakfast was lovely. It was good to see people again and chat a bit without waving a four-foot potato masher! People got up and shared stories, and letters from others who couldn’t be there were read. So it was a happy, joyful gathering, the kind that would have made her happy. She made everything fun, like baking and gardening and canning. She taught me how to ride a bicycle. She tried to teach me how to swim, but I still can’t swim – that’s my fault, not hers. She was interested in everything.

Driving away from Maine this time, the reality that she’s no longer with us really started to hit home.

The first half of the drive was in vile weather, pouring rain. The second half of the drive was in vile traffic, especially around the malls.

We called to check on my great-uncle when we got home, and he’s feeling much better. He’s still going to the doctor this week, but at least he didn’t have to be rushed to the ER.

So: at three Wal-Marts in the area, people were seriously injured. At one Wal-Mart, an employee was trampled to death. As most of you know, I loathe Wal-Mart, and I’ll drive 150 miles out of my way rather than shop at one, because their policies disgust me so much. The disgusting type of customer they attract, the type that would trample an employee to death, is a prime example of why I loathe the store and have such a low opinion of those who shop there. I don’t care how low their prices are – where you shop, where you spend your hard-earned cash, indicates what your morals and values are – whether it’s there or anywhere else. The type of shopper Wal-Mart attracts is the type of person who tramples an employee to death and shoves rescue workers out of the way when they try to resuscitate him. In my opinion, the cops need to take the time to dissect the surveillance video, identify these bastards (run it on television if need be, someone will recognize these people), and put them away because they are a danger to society. They are murderers, and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I bet the majority of these murderers go to church every Sunday, too, and consider themselves “good Christians.” Religious hypocrisy at work, yet again.

A weak economy is not a viable excuse to murder a store employee by trampling him to death. This cannot be shrugged off.

Yet it will be, because that’s how the Bush administration’s policies have filtered down over the past eight years and all we’ve seen from the top down is that it’s okay behave with greed and avarice, no matter who gets hurt. The Bush administration led by example, encouraging people to be their worst selves.

Cats weren’t too destructive while we were gone, although a few things were knocked over, and they were happy we were back, behaving like Velcro kitties.

I got a shock when I opened the extremely late check from one of my editors – it’s unsigned. Which means I can’t deposit it. To say I am livid is an understatement. I don’t believe for one second that it was a mistake. It was a complete “fuck you” from this place. I sent a polite (barely) but terse email to her. I do not want to have to wait another two weeks for this check. I want it replaced on Monday and sent overnight. It won’t be, but hey, this will be the last time I work for them anyway. A bridge worth burning, in my opinion, especially since, financially, I am now totally screwed for the coming week. What a different experience from the last anthology on which I worked with them, where they paid promptly and pleasantly. If they’re in financial difficulty, they need to be upfront with us. Screwing us in this way is simply not acceptable.

I have to have a discussion with another editor on Monday. I’m supposed to receive royalty statements and royalties by the 20th of every month. The last royalty statement I received was in September and I’ve yet to see a penny of royalties. I know the book is selling, and I want the monies due.

I’m tired of these people jerking around writers. This is why all writers and all writing should be unionized – so payments must be made on time or else there are strong consequences.

Nothing like coming back from a few difficult emotional days to complete and utter unprofessional bullshit, right?

Busy day today. I haven’t worked on the mystery; too much on my mind. I need to get a lot done in order to hit the ground running this week and figure out a way to make up instantly the shortfall from the unsigned check.

Mark your calendar – I’m on the radio show hosted by the League of Extraordinary Paranormal Women on December 11 at 8 PM EST. It’s on blogtalk radio, so I’ll post the link, and if you can’t listen to it live, you can listen to it some other time.

Back to dealing with life.

Devon

Devon’s Bookstore:

NEW! Too Much Mistletoe A Nina Bell Holiday Mystery by Devon Ellington. Nina Bell is back! Still trying to make a living in the New York theatre world of the 1990s, she’s trying to figure out which is the bigger mystery – a college friend’s disappearance, or her ever-complicated love life, as every man she meets wants to hang mistletoe over her head. Read an excerpt here and purchase the story for only $2.99 USD here .

NEW! “The Ramsey Chase” A Remarkable Adventure of Cornelia True and Roman Gray By Devon Ellington
Meet the adventurous Cornelia True of Bodwin’s Ferry, whose life changes forever when “fixer” Roman Gray lands naked in her petunias, and they combine forces to track down a serial killer determined to murder thirteen women in thirteen months for their blood, with his latest victim right there in Bodwin’s Ferry!
Only $1.49 USD for this 10K adventure, the very first Penny’s Dreadfuls release! Read an excerpt of the adventure here.
Purchase the story here.

THE JAIN LAZARUS ADVENTURES
Free limited download
“The Possession of Nattie Filmore: A Jain Lazarus Adventure” by Devon Ellington. If you loved HEX BREAKER, you’ll love spending time with Jain and Wyatt as they try to solve a haunted house mystery. Read an excerpt of the story and download it free here


Hex Breaker
by Devon Ellington. A Jain Lazarus Adventure. Hex Breaker Jain Lazarus joins the crew of a cursed film, hoping to put to rest what was stirred up before more people die and the film is lost. Tough, practical Detective Wyatt East becomes her unlikely ally and lover on an adventure fighting zombies, ceremonial magicians, the town wife-beater, the messenger of the gods, and their own pasts.
$4.00 ebook/ $6.00 on CD from Firedrakes Weyr Publishing.
Visit the site for the Jain Lazarus adventures.

BOOKS FOR WRITERS
Back By Popular Demand! 30 Tips for 30 Days: Kick Start Your Novel and Get Out of Your Own Way. A Nano Handbook by Devon Ellington. FREE!
If you’ve ever wondered whether or not you could survive National Novel Writing Month, this is the handbook for you! Ideas on preparations, setting goals, overcoming blocks, pushing yourself, tips for each day of the process, and ideas for going beyond, this handbook by veteran Nano-er Devon Ellington will help you survive. Best of all, it’s free! Download it here.
Limited time offer
Sensory Perceptions: Techniques to Improve Your Writing Through the Six Senses by Devon Ellington. Use the six senses to take your writing to the next level via a series of sense-specific exercises. By the end of seven weeks, you complete seven short stories!. $1.29 USD. Here.


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:

Published in: on November 29, 2008 at 8:09 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,