Wed. Oct. 20, 2021: Thoughts on Nano, Inner Work, and Daily Life

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Full Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cool

image courtesy of Pexels.com

I wanted to share some NaNoWriMo Tips that have served me well in previous years, and I hope will do so this year:

Prep. Even if you don’t do a formal outline, make notes on the story. That way, when you rip the time out of your day to write, you can drop right into the book where you are and not have to wonder what you meant to do when you stopped the previous day. The work I prep always drafts more smoothly than the work I don’t. Plus, the prepped work needs fewer rounds of revision than the uncharted work, although anything I write in Nano needs much, much more revision that work written outside of it.

Set Daily Goals. To write 50K in 30 Days, you need to hit 1667 words EVERY day. For me to feel comfortable, I like to hit 2K/day; for me to feel really good about the work and leave room for the chaos of life, I try to hit 2.5K/day, especially early on. I know I need days off here and there; I like to have 50K by Thanksgiving. This year? I have no idea, since my writing rhythms have been totally thrown off between COVID and last year’s surgeries and job changes and moving. My reason for doing Nano this year is to both reclaim my writing rhythm and, hopefully, find an even better one, that will sustain me long after November is in my rear-view mirror.

Frontload and bank words. The rush of the start and that initial creative wave feel great. If you can go beyond your daily goal early on (or at any point), do so. That way, WHEN something comes up and you have to skip a day or a few days, you won’t fall behind.

Plan breaks. You’ll need to take a day here and there for a break. Or maybe you have family plans for the whole weekend of American Thanksgiving. Plan for that. Include in the planning, working AHEAD on word count, so that when you hit the day off, you already have that day’s words in the bank. It’s harder to catch up than to work ahead.

Know the Difference Between Asking for Encouragement and Being an Energy Vampire. We all hit hard days during the process, and often hit several of them in a row. Week 2 tends to be the rockiest, because the initial rush has worn off, and it’s down to showing up to do the work. It’s healthy to admit you’re struggling and ask for suggestions or encouragement. But don’t expect/demand people to hurt their own work in order to get you back on track with yours. Every year, there are people who try to make the entire experience about THEM, and, if they start to struggle, they try to derail everyone else around them.

Stick It Out, Even if You Don’t Hit 50K. Using Nano to get into the rhythm of daily writing, and also knowing how to PLAN breaks in that daily writing, will serve you well moving forward.

There are all kinds of tips and daily encouragements in my free book 30 TIPS FOR 30 DAYS, available for download here.

I’m extremely disturbed to see how many right-wing and religious-based writing groups have taken over the discussion forums. You can’t tell me they’re working on systems of equality and inclusion, especially since most of the LGBTQ forums have locked down for protection. No thread should have to lock down for protection, if the community is actually run on respect and inclusion.

Now, on to my experience on the soul journey workshop I’m in this week.

I was a little worried, on Monday, that it was for newcomers to this type of work, people with less experience than I have. I was disturbed, in the day’s video, by the talk of one’s spiritual life and one’s mundane life being on parallel paths. It’s often true at the beginning, but isn’t part of the point of the work to integrate the two, so one lives one’s path?

I also reminded myself how important it is to go back to basics, and start with fresh eyes, as though it’s the first time, because there’s always something to learn.

I’ve been doing the work, and learning. Some of it is uncomfortable, but that’s okay, because it’s showing me where I’m stuck in patterns that hurt, and how I can break out of them to stumble along a path that heals.

Five days barely scratches the surface, but it’s giving me ideas on how to build this work into my schedule on a regular basis, and where to go from here. I want to keep doing the work, definitely through the Chiron retrograde, because that’s working with the natural energies rather than against them.

I keep hoping maybe January will give me a period of rest. I’m hoping I can adjust the work schedule without losing money, and that I can give myself a bit of a break on inner work and just rest/be for a few weeks.

Monday’s work was good; I decided that the Journey Tarot, which I received in the last Goddess Provisions box, was a good match for this work, and I was right. I did the work, and felt I got a lot out of it. The live chat was a little frustrating, because, as happened during the prep time, the people yelling excuses about not doing the work, and demanding validation for not doing the work are sucking all the energy out of the collective space. The people who are MAKING the time and DOING the work are getting lost in the noise. There’s no space for those of us doing the work to go deeper and safely share that experience with each other. The people not doing the work are trying to siphon off the collective raised group energy without contributing anything to it. That is something that rubs me the wrong way (to say the least). Everyone is on their own journey and has their challenges; but do NOT expect to be validated and steal the collective energy when you refuse to add anything to it.

I did some additional work during meditation Monday night and the Hermit card kept coming up. Which makes a lot of sense in the context.

Tuesday’s video was good, and so was the additional meditation/visualization. It was very helpful in figuring out a few things. During the live chat, I ignored the chat running down the side (with all the energy vampires), and focused on the group leaders and what they had to say. There was something that really resonated. In thinking about one’s “future self”, focus more on how you want your life to FEEL as you live it then, rather than what you DO. Which is a good point. We are groomed to always work for someone else’s profit. Usually receiving far less than our work is worth. If we visualize our future for the type of life we want to enjoy on an experiential level instead of assuming that if we just have a particular job or live in a particular house we’ll feel good – if we work on the emotional landscape we want, then we can create the physical portions that support it and make it possible.

There was also an emphasis on being “all in” – which translated to me as “do the work.” But, as I said, I ignored most of the chat stream, because there were still too many people on it making noisy excuses, and I’m not engaging with that.

Looking forward to seeing what today’s work is about.

This week is definitely a starting point, but it’s giving me useful tools and ideas of where I want to focus this type of work over the next few months.

Chop Wood, Carry Water, and all that Life Stuff

On the life level, I got some work done in the morning, then had to run errands. I’m telling you, the Post Office is the happening place around here. That’s where I go to keep up with local events. I had a stack of cards and letters to drop off (including another letter trying to get my mom’s insurance straightened out), and buy stamps.

Dropped off a bunch of books at the library (and didn’t get the notification that some of my holds were in until I got home. Oh, well).

Headed off to Wild Oats to stock up on a bunch of stuff, like coffee, wine, lentils, and eggs.

Picked up a few things at Stop & Shop that I needed, and probably snagged the last bag of frozen peas in the Berkshires. Those freezer cases are very bare.

Made red lentil soup for lunch (Moosewood Recipe, of course), which was pretty darn good.

Most of the afternoon was taken up with the soul journey class. When that was done, I attempted to pay the next six months’ worth of car insurance (instead of paying monthly). It shouldn’t take 45 minutes to put through an online payment. But it did. And it was wrong. So I had to contact them and get it sorted out. Which, supposedly, it is.

Grrr.

I’d gotten a great promotion for a Wine Advent Calendar and decided I wanted it. So I go to order it, get through the checkout, and then it says it “can’t” ship in my state. Even though the company is located in my state. Then why send the promotion? You know where I live. And hey, having worked for businesses who send out promotional emails, I know that it’s possible to set up email blasts with different parameters based on location, to focus promotions.

It was sloppy marketing and not using email platform functions well. Which pissed me off as a potential customer (this would have been my first purchase from them), and it is highly, highly unlikely I would do business with them in the future. Anytime I see their logo, I’m going to think, “The assholes who sent me a promotion in which I couldn’t actually participate” and move on to a different vendor.

That ate up the time I’d set aside to write up script coverages, which was frustrating. And I still had two scripts to read after dinner.

Got a question from a client, which I honestly answered, but I worried it would mean they no longer wanted to work with me. Instead, they told me the experience makes me more valuable to them. So why do I do this to myself, set myself up with unnecessary worry? Why do I always expect the worst? I need to stop that. Hopefully, this week’s class will give me tools so to do.

Did some percolating on CAST IRON MURDER, but very little was added to the outline. Will have to make up for that today.

Sent off my workshop proposal to the conference that invited me next summer. Decided to go to an outdoor writing event in Lenox over the upcoming weekend.

Reminded myself that the Hermit card cannot be denied, and I need to do all this slowly, slowly, being careful to marshal my energy.

Pork chops smothered in mushroom-tarragon gravy for dinner, with rice and red cabbage. It was good.

Knowledge Unicorns was good, although, again, we had to put off the virtual tours of Venetian museums because of pressing classwork. But discussing ETHAN FROME, Nancy Drew, and the racism in the required reading considered “canon” was a pretty good way to spend time.

I gave myself permission not to read scripts last night, and just relax. Which would have restored me, except that Charlotte started bothering me at 3 AM, and by 3:43, Tessa was in full voice.

To the laundromat early, and got two loads washed, dried, folded. I change my days and times there, because I’m often the only one there, and I don’t want to set myself up for trouble. I never have my back to the doors/room. I’m hyper aware of anyone even walking past. Because as a woman, I have to worry about these things.

But while I was there, I worked more on the outline notes for CAST IRON MURDER. I created the other possible suspects, their backstories, and why they might have killed the murder victim. Some of those “whys” also make my protagonist an even more likely suspect.

So it was time well spent.

My downstairs neighbors decorated the front porch, and it is delightful! We are going to have so much fun in the coming weeks.

Lots to do today. Previous Me would have piled on the work, insisted on trying to attend the Sundance Collab, immediately flip over to Remote Chat, and then try to juggle Remote Chat while doing the live classwork.

And felt like a failure when it didn’t work.

Current Me doesn’t do the Collab on Wednesdays (just Mondays and Fridays, when I can). I will do the beginning of Remote Chat, and then give myself a few minutes break before joining my class.

This morning, though, I have to make a quick dash to the library to pick up my books. And get coverages/reading done that didn’t happen yesterday.

Onward. Somehow, it will all come together.

Have a good one.

Tues. Oct. 19, 2021: The Good Work of Writing

image courtesy of Lisa via pexels.com

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Jupiter and Mercury went direct yesterday

Cloudy and cool

Jupiter and Mercury have gone direct, which means maybe we can have some positive forward motion.

You can hop over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site for the mid-month check-in.

The house we lived in on Cape, which was for sale with a pending sale? Back on the market. Not surprising, considering how much over the assessment valued they asked, and that the new owner will need to redo both bathrooms and replace all the windows. But I’m sure the current owners will somehow justify the fallen through sale as my fault. Whatever.

Used the Sundance Lab time on Friday to work on “A Rare Medium.” It was an excellent session. I got six pages done, the next scene, and I’m happy with the work. Although the breakout networking sessions aren’t what I need right now (although, in a professional sense, what I should attend), using the writing time in company can help me get these plays done.

Wrote up three script coverages. Was requested to read a new draft of a script I’d liked and given notes on a few weeks back, so that will be a good way to start the next workweek.

My mom is still a little tired from the COVID booster, but, overall, there were few side effects.

Worked with Charlotte on her bedmaking anxiety. She loves sleeping on my bed, but she gets anxious when I make it in the morning, or when I change the sheets. Most cats I’ve had love to use bedmaking time to play. They “hide” under the covers as I pile them on, and then either meow, and I flip back the covers to let them out, or they slither to the edge of the bed and drop down to the floor.

Charlotte stays under the covers and panics.

So I make sure not to cover her, because she doesn’t know what to do.

What we did, instead, was make the bed very slowly, giving her a chance to hopscotch on top of each sheet or blanket as I pulled it up. It didn’t take that much longer, and it was a fun game for her. When the bed was made, she rolled over, purring, and waving her feet n the air, happy as can be. Which is nice change from the upset she usually has around making the bed, where she growls and cries as I wrestle the covers from her. This game, she understands, and it makes her happy. I can take three extra minutes in the morning to make the bed in a way that doesn’t scare her.

The weather cleared up enough by mid-day on Saturday so that I could go to The Spruces for the Audubon Nature Walk sponsored by my town’s library. It was a small group, and, even though the adults were vaccinated, there was a young child in the group, so we masked without being asked, and without fussing. The people were nice, the walk was interesting, and I learned a lot. I’d hoped to learn more about the history of the actual Spruces community, but that wasn’t the focus. I’m going to have to go to Williamstown and dig for it in the library myself. Which could be a fun project, it’s just scheduling it so I don’t lose income from other assignments.

There’s a book or a play or something related to the history of the Spruces that I need to write, I’m just not sure what yet.

Came home, showered (decontamination protocols, just in case). Fell asleep on the couch for a couple of hours.

This was the first in-person event I’ve attended since the pandemic. Although it was small, fun, safe, and enjoyable, I was still exhausted.

To bed early on Saturday night, which meant up early Sunday morning.

Sunday was spent finishing the short almanac articles, fact-checking, and proofing. If I hadn’t faffed about so much and wasted so much time during the day the last couple of weeks, I wouldn’t have had to work all day. But the time mismanagement is on me, so I did it. I’m actually satisfied with the work. I have the knowledge; I’d put in research and experimentation time. It was a case of writing it up succinctly.

To bed fairly early on Sunday, and even got to sleep until 5 on Monday.

Did a final proofread of the short articles, updated my bio, sent them off to my editor, and they were acknowledged. Much as I loved doing those 25 little pieces, it was an even better feeling to send them off. They are for the 2023 Almanac.

I have to spend some serious time in the coming months working on the Cerridwen Iris Shea website, blog, and putting together some of the older material into small eBooks.

Another Big Project for the winter.

Did my Soul Expedition work. The exercises were extremely useful, and I discovered important roots that need to be dealt with.

Had a good conversation with a Twitter pal about Edith Wharton, and about Tolstoy and his wife. So much on Twitter is “in passing” that it’s nice to have substantial interactions sometimes.

Spent some time on Women Write Change, and on the Nano site. I’m over on WWC almost every day, or, at least, every other day, although I don’t always talk about it. It’s a small group, but a good one. On Nano, I spent time on Enchanted Wordsmiths, and also had a conversation with the Writer-Bakers. I’ve gotten two new challah bread recipe recommendations through them.

I started typing up the notes for CAST IRON MURDER, and expanding/arranging them, for my outline.

When it hit noon, and Sundance Collab time, I felt I “should” switch over to work on “A Rare Medium.” However, the flow was going well on the outline for CAST IRON MURDER. I started to dither and then thought, “Why are you doing this to yourself? It’s not a major decision” and kept working on the outline during the Collab time. Got 4 of the 9 handwritten pages typed up, arranged, and expanded. Printed them out, just in case.

Quite a few people mentioned, on Twitter, how much more energized they felt. Yeah, that’s what having Jupiter (the planet of expansion) and Mercury (we all know those connotations) going direct on the same day will do for you.

Attended the live session of the Soul Expedition and was frustrated. I’ll go into that in more detail tomorrow, when I talk more in depth about that and have some Nano tips.

Made brownies from the Moosewood recipe. It turned out well. Might be my favorite brownie recipe to date.

Ordered a bunch of books from the library. I can take out up to 50 books, but can only put on holds up to 20.  Oh, well.

Paid by a client, so I can pay bills this upcoming week. Might give myself a treat, too.

Read two scripts last night.

Had a good evening meditation session. A couple of “aha” moments in there.

Tessa let me sleep until 5:22 this morning. What a luxury! The usual morning routine (feed the cats, make the coffee, write in the journal, 1st 1K of the day, yoga, meditation, shower, dress). I’m changing up my laundromat routine. Since I’m often the first and only one there in the morning, and it’s a little creepy in the dark, I want to make sure I don’t keep a regular schedule. Because, as a woman, I have to worry about things like that.

Onward to the Soul Expedition work, and then more writing and script coverage. I have to do a post office, library, and grocery run today, too.

Have a good one, friends.

Wed. Oct. 6, 2021: A Day of Cooking

image courtesy of Polina Tankilevitch via pexels.com

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

New Moon

Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Pluto goes DIRECT this afternoon

Cloudy and cool

Yesterday was a very go-with-the-flow type of day.

As I mentioned in the post, I had three loads of laundry done at the laundromat before 8 AM, which sounds like a good start to the day.

After breakfast, I paid some bills. Then, we headed out, in the rain, to the post office to mail said bills, and then to the TD Bank in Williamstown to close our account. That bank is one of the few places around here that doesn’t require masks. The staff is masked, although our teller wore her mask under her nose. Yeah, glad to be done with them. Our accounts are now officially closed.

There are a couple of bookstores I want to go back and visit in Williamstown at some point.

Got our grocery shopping done at Wild Oats and Stop & Shop. The latter is definitely having supply chain issues, especially on big, national brands. Some empty shelves, and they’ve been out of certain products now for nearly a month. Very little of it is stuff I actually use; we’re still using up stuff I’d stockpiled during the pandemic, and replacing staples and some of the canned goods as we go, so that we’re always ahead of the game and have a full pantry. We did so last year during the pandemic, in case there was ever a real lockdown and we weren’t allowed out more than once a week; we kept stockpiling once we moved here, because we’ve heard winters are harsh and there will be times we can’t go anywhere.

I’m keeping an eye on things, and making sure we’re extra stocked with certain items, so that if there are problems, be it from supply chain issues or storms, we will be okay for a couple of months.

After we came home and put things away, we had to refold the sheets from the laundry. I’d done a lousy job at the laundromat.

Read a cozy mystery where the protagonist who prayed a lot and asked for guidance wasn’t a very nice person (funny how that works, right?) and, frankly, was one of the characters who’s too stupid to live. So I won’t be reading any more in that series.

After lunch, I used up leftover sweet potatoes to make sweet potato soup (a Moosewood recipe). It’s pretty good, although when I heat it up for our lunches over the next few days, I think I will add a little more salt and pepper.

Found a “classic” radio station that was playing songs from the 80’s and 90’s, early in my career, when I had a lot of all nighters in various theatres or out and about, and the songs all hold lots of memories. So I danced around the kitchen while cooking, which was fun.

The soup took longer than I expected, and then I made a spiced apple cake (another Moosewood recipe). That turned out well, although I miss allspice in it. I like allspice in recipes with apples. It has cinnamon and cardamom. Next time I make this, I’m going to put in allspice, but I’m not sure if I will substitute it for the cardamom, or put it in addition to the cardamom.

That took longer than I expected, too, so it was after 5 before I got the chicken into the oven to roast (with potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots), and it was nearly 8 before we sat down to dinner. Late for us.

The cats were very confused.

While it was roasting, we had the Knowledge Unicorns session, which went well. The kids now being homeschooled have adjusted well, and are thriving. The kids who are doing remote learning through their regular schools are having a bit more of a struggle, mostly due to the pressure to go back in person. But we’re doing a lot of supplemental stuff to their various curriculums, as far as virtual museum tours and additional histories/readings and “at home” theatre performances online. They’re definitely learning more and more widely than if they were in-person.

But it also means I didn’t get any script coverages written up. I’m still fine with deadlines, as long as I stay on track today. I also didn’t read, so I have a lot of coverage to write up today, and a pile of scripts to read.

A group of characters arrived in my brain, in search of a plot. I made some notes, and we’ll see.

Although I’m not going into detail every post, I am steadily doing my first 1K of the day in longhand. Sometimes it’s a little more than 1K, sometimes a little less. But it’s happening. There’s just not much to say about it.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me up around 3:30 this morning. I moved to the sewing room and dozed off until about 5, and then got up to feed them, at Tessa’s very loud insistence.

The plot around the characters who showed up yesterday is starting to take shape, so I took more notes.

I’m chained to the computer today, writing up script coverages and working on articles and blog posts and a book review. I plan to take time out for Remote Chat. With the new moon, I upped my daily yoga practice. I lost a lot of progress during the moving months, and I’m of an age where I have to work harder to get it back.

What I’d really like to do is take a nap! Maybe this afternoon, for a half hour or so. At least I have that flexibility.

Have a good one. Pluto goes direct this afternoon, so that eases some of the 7 Retrogrades pressure. We’ll be back down to six. (Eye roll).

Tues. Sept. 14, 2021: Getting Back on Track

image courtesy of Martin Winkler via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and pleasant

Yesterday’s post on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site is about compassionate pondering.

Busy weekend, but it felt like I’m getting back on track.

Friday, I worked on script coverage, and then my mom wanted to come on the big grocery run, so that’s what we did: Big Y, Wild Oats, Stop & Shop. People are masked in the stores, no one is fussing, and it takes so much pressure off shopping.

My reward for all that was to read Deborah Blake’s FURBIDDEN FATALITY, the first in her new Catskills Pet Rescue series. The book is an absolute delight! She takes all the best of the cozy mystery genre, and leaves out the annoying, overused tropes. I’m so excited for the next one, which comes out in November.

Saturday was the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. As a former New Yorker, who knew a lot of people who died, the anniversary hits me hard every year. It was helpful to see the Bidens, VP Harris and her husband, The Obamas, and the Clintons offer dignified, respectful mourning.

I watched The 9/11 Table of Silence Project. It is performed at the fountain at Lincoln Center, and this year, there was even a limited audience. It was beautiful and powerful. If you’ve never seen one of the performances, I suggest following the link to watch. I love the way they entwine dance, music, spoken word. The way the musicians move through and with the dancers during the performance.

After the piece was over, I had to sit quietly with it for about another half hour, because it was as filling as a wonderful meal, only for the soul.

Worked on script coverage. Dashed to Big Y to get cashews and butter. Made the Moosewood Recipe for White Bean and Kale soup. It also has fennel, potatoes, carrots, and sundried tomatoes in it. I don’t often use fennel (or kale) so it was an adventure. It turned out really well, and the leftovers will provide lunch for a few days. I’ve made a similar Portuguese version with sausage, and a slightly different version with ham hocks. This was my first foray into the vegetarian version.

I had hoped to go to a gem and mineral show that was in walking distance from me on Sunday. However, when I drove by on Saturday, no one was wearing masks to enter. It was inside, and nothing in the promotional materials spoke to any COVID protocols. There were kids going in. So I decided it wasn’t worth the risk. It’s one of the few reckless, irresponsible events I’ve seen since I’ve been here; people are usually more responsible than that. But why spend money at an even that could kill me? No, thanks.

In the afternoon, I read the next book for review. It was wonderful, and I couldn’t put it down. I rarely give a full 5 stars, but this one gets it.

Read three scripts for coverage in the evening. The college students are out getting drunk and coming home late, being loud again. But it’s only for a few minutes on a Friday or Saturday night, so it wasn’t bad. There was live music somewhere nearby. I’m not sure if it was at the lake, or at the pub down the street. There’s definitely a sense of life around here!

Eggs Benedict again on Sunday morning, and then I made our favorite orange rye bread. The recipe makes a loaf of bread and rolls. I like the way the rolls come out better, so next time I make it, I think I will do the entire batch as rolls.

I wrote up the coverages for the scripts I’d read the night before, and wrote and submitted the review for the book.

Because I lost two days last week (one for the holiday, one for the storage run) and will lose another day before the end of the pay period, I had to work through the weekend. But it was a steady pace, not a crazymaking one, so it was all good.

I made curried red lentil burgers for dinner. Not as bad as I feared, but not as good as I’d hoped. I felt good after eating them, though. My body responded well to the ingredients. I liked using chutney on them.

Yesterday was back to the “regular” workday, so there was script coverage and working on the short Llewellyn articles and LOIs and catching up on email. That deadline is coming up, and I’m behind where I’d like to be.

I’m working steadily on the novel, and, next week, will have a conversation with my publisher about getting the series books back on track. As soon as I’ve made more progress on the short Llewellyn articles, I will go back to steady work on the plays.

Last night, I had to miss the playwrights’ virtual circle I’d hoped to attend, because of script coverage stuff. I hope to make it there next month.

I read the script for which I’d been requested. It was a script I’d really liked, but had a few minor notes. The writer made the changes, and asked that I be the reader again, with comments on the advised changes. It was excellent.

I got behind in the coverage because I got so caught up reading Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek, and I couldn’t put it down. Which is a good thing, but it meant I had to work longer into the evening to make my deadlines.

I need to set up my weeks so I’m not doing script coverage 7 days/week, because that just burns me out. Even with holidays or storage run days, I still usually read, and I just need a break for a couple of days every week. So I have to structure, as often as possible, not to do coverage on weekends. Whatever days I choose as my “weekend.”

But I made chicken chow Mein in the wok, and it was yummy and that made me happy!

 The waxing moon was absolutely gorgeous. I could sit on the front porch and enjoy it.

A busy day ahead, so I’ll get to it. Have a good one.

Fri. Nov. 13, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 177 — Yes, We Really Are Dying & Being Ignored

image courtesy of minorthreadsco via pixabay.com

Friday, November 13, 2020

New Moon

Neptune & Uranus Retrograde

Mars DIRECT

Cloudy and cooler

Today is Friday the 13th, which is a day that usually makes me very happy, but this is 2020, so I’m not counting on anything.

Meditation yesterday was lovely. I’m so grateful to have found this group. We may be online, but it truly feels like community. We connect to the teacher and each other, not just to the teacher, the way the meditation group I used to participate in in-person did. The contrast is interesting. The meditation leader also teaches us Qi Gong, which I like. I’d never really paid much attention to it before, but I’m glad I found it now.

I finally got out a couple of pitches to a new-to-me publication. I may have sent them in too late to be of use, but we’ll see.

I found contact information for a company with which I’m interested in working, and I’m putting together an LOI for them. It’s a big deal, international thing, and it would be exciting to work for them.

Heard back from a couple of other LOIs that they’re going with people who are more traditionally-marketing-niched (and, I bet, younger). Which is fine. I’d rather hear back, even in the negative, then never hear back. Some of these companies I will keep in touch with as part of my quarterly postcard mailing; others I will let go and move on.

A good portion of the day – probably too much of it, if I’m honest – was spent putting together visuals for two different projects. It was a lot of using the snip tool, converting to jpg, marking each visual, putting it in the right folder, and also putting together a PowerPoint and then modifying it to PDF and saving in multiple locations so I can access it. I didn’t PowerPoint the second set of visuals yet.

I also played with paint visualization tools, looking for a place where I could upload a photo of a house and try different exterior colors. Most of them were very frustrating, and I couldn’t find one (for free, anyway) that allowed me to do the detailing of shutters and trim differently than the exteriors. Of all the tools I played with, I liked the Home Stratosphere Paint Visualizer the best.

For dinner, I made the Eggplant-Mushroom Marsala, although I substituted white wine for the marsala, and it was just fine. It’s a Moosewood recipe. I’m being encouraged to revive the food blog. I might, since people like reading/seeing about what I cook, and respond well to the photos on Instagram.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. We didn’t meet on Tuesday, because everyone’s so burned out. But we met yesterday, and got back to our rhythm. We’re studying the turkey this month. Here’s an article from Live Science that we used.

The Sociopath continues to Sociopath and murder American citizens at an alarming rate by simply ignoring the pandemic and hoping it kills as many of us as possible. My main goal between now and January 20th is sheer survival. I have to add in other goals, like earning a living in there, but survival, in spite of the Sociopath and all the Covidiot dickheads around me, is key.

One day at a time, one project at a time, one moment at a time. Hopefully, my internal resources have strengthened the past few months to help me through.

The weekend is supposed to get cooler, and be rainy off and on. Doubt I’ll do much yard work. Plan to do some baking, and I have to do a run to the dump to get rid of garbage and recycling. If we’re going to have another shutdown, I want to get as much recycling out before it happens as possible.

See you on the other side of the weekend, and hope it’s good.

Thurs. Nov. 12, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 176 — Hanging On

image courtesy of Thomas B. via pixabay.com

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Dark Moon

Neptune, Uranus, and Mars Retrograde

Foggy and mild

One calendar says today is new moon and Mars direct; another says it’s tomorrow. I will apologize for yesterday’s belief it’s today, and go with tomorrow, since it’s Friday the 13th anyway.

There’s a new post on Gratitude and Growth about the garden. The front lawn is a carpet of leaves. The lawn guy is coming soon; every time a neighbor turns on a leaf blower, I am more determined than ever not to rake. Although the dumbass running his leaf blower who woke me at 3:30 this morning, IN THE RAIN, angered me.

Yesterday was chaotic. I went in to my client’s. I knew she had a medical procedure the day before, so didn’t expect her in. Going through the emailsto see what needed to be done, I found out that the other colleague in the office has been in the hospital. I felt bad that I didn’t know and offer to help out. But if no one tells me anything, I can’t know.

Anyway, BOTH of them came in, so there were too many people in too small a space, but we caught up on everything (and were masked) and got everything handled.

I was glad to get out of there.

Stopped at CVS to get the prescription to prep for the next surgery, and, of course, it wasn’t there. I will check with the doctor’s office next week to see what’s going on, and if they decided to cancel the surgery due to surging virus cases, but haven’t told me yet. This happened last time, too. It took three calls from the doctor’s office before CVS could bother to fill the prescription.

We had 2495 new cases in the past 24 hours. More than we had in spring. But the mask mandate isn’t enforced, and nothing is shut down. Instead, people are encouraged to pack more into the daylight hours in too close quarters.

Tomorrow, I have to fight to keep my insurance next year. That should be fun. Not. That’s one reason I hope I can slide the surgery in this December; I might not have insurance next year, at least at the beginning of it.

Tried a new-to-me Ina Garten recipe that worked well last night. Have to make a dash to the liquor store for a bottle of marsala (and more wine) so I can make Eggplant-Mushroom Marsala (from Moosewood) tonight.

I can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving in two weeks.

The Sociopath is still sociopathing, and too many people pander to him. He needs to be charged with the murders of everyone dying from the virus he’s “bored” with.

Lots of writing needs to get done today, and I’m looking forward to this morning’s online Meditation.

I’m just trying to stay alive until January 20.

Published in: on November 12, 2020 at 7:06 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Nov. 12, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 176 — Hanging On  
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Tues. Sept. 22, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 125 — Autumn Equinox

image courtesy of jplenio via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Mabon, Autumn Equinox

Stormy and cold

Hurricane Teddy is going to give us a bit of a slap as he moves by today, mostly with high surf and winds. We could use a few hours of torrential rain, although we do have a coastal flood advisory out.

There’s a post over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site about planning in chaos.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death grieves me. I’m also furious at the Republicans for pushing through the next nominee. I’m even more furious at the Democrats for not doing anything. I’m tired of them bringing a cupcake to a gunfight. There is ALWAYS a way to stop the other side and stop the vote. There is ALWAYS a way to derail a nominee. But they’re not willing to do it.

I stress-baked and stress-cooked most of the weekend, instead of doing other things I should have been doing. I did get several loads of laundry done, and I switched out the lace curtains and those pretty sheer rose curtains I made at the beginning of the stay-at-home for the heavier red and gold paisley curtains I use for winter.

I made chocolate chip cookies, cornbread, and tried a chocolate cake from a cookbook borrowed from the library. I’m not sure if I like the cake. It’s a pain in the butt to make, even though it has no eggs. It tastes fine, but with all the hype around it, I expected it to be brilliant, and it’s not. I make other chocolate cake recipes I like better. Still, I will copy out the recipe, in case I want to try it again with tweaks.

I made a crockpot minestrone on Saturday (quick dash to Star Market at 7 AM to get what I needed, and then full decontamination process). That was from a small cookbook I picked up years ago with seasonal garden recipes. That came out very, very well.

I took the bits and bobs discarded from the minestrone and used it to make vegetable stock. I actually used the vegetable stock I made whenever it was I last made it instead of water in the minestrone, and it made a huge difference. It gave it a depth and a richness I liked a lot.

Sunday, I made a cauliflower-leek soup from one of the cookbooks I bought as background for one of the novel ideas with which I’m playing. I have to say, I wasn’t thrilled with it. I’m not a big fan of cauliflower anyway. I just sort of felt there should have been more of something, somehow. It’s not bad, it’s better than edible, but I’m not thrilled with it.

I also learned that cauliflower is easier to cut than broccoli. I expected it to be as hard. When I whacked the cauliflower head with the cleaver, it exploded all over the kitchen. So that was a bit of a clean-up.

The soup only used the white part of the leeks. I took the green parts to make leek stock – I will use that in the prep for the next surgery, and froze it.

I also put the discarded bits from the soup into a bag and stashed it in the fridge for the next round of vegetable stock.

Yesterday, I made the Indian stuffed eggplant from Moosewood’s recipe. I also took the bits from the past few days’ vegetables and some tomatoes that looked a bit sad and made more vegetable stock. Making stock this way is fascinating, because no two batches are ever alike.

My friend gave me the notes back on both JUST A DROP and SERENE AND DETERMINED. They’re excellent and workable. She put her finger on what was missing on SERENE AND DETERMINED, and now I can fix it.

I’m going to work on JUST A DROP today – it needs the least work before submission for this particular market, and I need to send it off by the end of the week – company wants to work on plays over a nine-month process (much of it via Zoom) and then do a public reading. I think JUST A DROP could benefit from that, although I don’t want it to lose its theatricality. It’s unabashedly melodramatic at points, and that is a stylistic choice.

Whether it works or not is yet to be determined.

When that is done, I will turn my attention to SERENE AND DETERMINED, which I would like to submit to the O’Neill for next summer. It’s a long shot, but if I don’t try, there’s no shot.

The Susanna Centlivre play is taking shape in my head. By the time I’m done with the revisions on the above two plays, I should be ready to put Susanna’s story down on paper. Then, it’s on to Isabella Goodwin’s play, and then I can circle back around to the Kate Warne one acts I’d planned to write all year. I’ve figured out how to retain them as one acts, but also adapt them into a full-length by adding a supporting character who flows through the evening and also serves as a bit of a Greek chorus/narrator between the plays. I still want to expand CONFIDENCE CONFIDANT to a full-length, adding in Nathan in his jail cell and that whole part of the undercover operation. But that’s down the line a year or two.

I pitched to a couple of arts-related gigs.  One might not work out because the money is lower than I’m looking for; the other might not work out because I don’t think they’d support the necessary relocation and I’m not doing it on my own dime. But again, if I don’t try, there’s no chance.

Yesterday, I got some writing done early in the morning, and then went onsite to my client’s. I was alone in the office, which is as it should be. I got some A/B ads done, and an email blast, and took care of a few things that can’t be done remotely.

Swung by the library to drop off books and do a curbside pickup. Another woman was there, dropping off, and whining that the library is still closed to patrons. “We’re so much better,” she whined. “I work at the hospital and we haven’t had a case in a long time.”

“Maybe they want to keep it that way,” I snapped at her, and stomped off to the table to pick up my books.

It alarms me that stupid works in the hospital. Nantucket has gone up to a red zone for COVID. This area is now up to green (from gray, which is low risk), and our numbers are only climbing. According to the stats I watch, um, yeah, there ARE cases in the hospital, so this person doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Not sure where in the hospital she works, but it’s not anywhere getting information.

And we wonder why we’re not further along fighting this thing.

Well, at least she wore a mask and social distanced.

I’m reading the series I’ve been enjoying (where I stopped reading her other series), and now this one is starting to bother me, too. The disdain this author has for theatre people bugs me. Considering the series is set adjacent to a theatre company, this becomes a problem. The dislike and disdain drips from every sentence in which she includes them. Everyone is always painted in caricature. In 30 years of working professional theatre all over the country and the world, I’ve never encountered anyone working professionally in the theatre who is that un-dimensional. Community theatre and non-pro theatre? Yeah. Because it’s a hobby. Professional theatre? No. A career would be unsustainable.  Most people are multi-dimensional and choose which facets to bring forth at any given time. But not in this author’s books. And it angers me. I’m willing to read the last four books in the series, because I like the way the relationships are building between the characters, but I don’t know if I’d recommend the series. If I ever cross paths with her, I will ask her why she hates theatre people so much.

Also, the protagonist, who I liked because she wasn’t a typical flat cozy protag, is starting to get a self-righteous stick up her ass, and it annoys me.

The book I have to read for review lost me in the first sentence, due to adverbs and lazy writing. I put it down for a bit, and will get back to it today, since, you know, I’m being paid to read it.

However, I read Alyssa Maxwell’s MURDER AT CROSSWAYS (which I someone never got my hands on when it came out last year), and liked it a lot. I like the way this series has grown.

Today is about client work, LOIs, working on JUST A DROP, working on edits for a novel, and, hopefully, cleaning out a few boxes n the basement. One box a week won’t cut it. I need to do at least one box a day, two on weekends. Even that’s not enough, but it’s better than I’ve been doing.

Later today is the Knowledge Unicorns session. We are going to wear tiaras. It was a suggestion that came through over the weekend, and we all decided it would be fun.

Today is the Autumn Equinox, Mabon. We are in a precarious moment of balance, before tipping back into the dark. I’m looking forward to tonight’s ritual.

Blessed Mabon, friends.

Fri. June 5, 2020: Die for Your Employer Day 18 – Local Disappointments

Friday, June 5, 2020
Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

We sort of skipped spring this year, and are getting right into summer.

I went to Country Gardens yesterday to pick up some plants, and it was not a good experience. I couldn’t find what I wanted, the plants weren’t in particularly good shape (which is unusual; they usually have outstanding plants). But the worst was that too many people were either running around without masks or being Sliding Mask Skanks, with their mask down around their neck.

The older white women were the worst. Masks around the neck, getting into the employees’ faces, playing Lady of the Manor ordering around the serfs.

They should have been kicked out.

The fact that they weren’t means that Country Gardens is putting profit over the health and safety of both employees and customers. So I won’t be back any time soon. Losing my business won’t hurt them; they’re busy enough. But in the next wave, when enough contact tracers find them on the list, maybe it will matter.

Not putting my life in danger to buy a couple of pots of petunias.

I’m all for shopping local over box stores. But when the local businesses practice and advocate what is counter to what I believe is right, I’m not spending money there. Conscientious consumerism means deciding WHICH local businesses get my money. If an artisan in another part of the country walks the talk more in alignment with my beliefs, I will support that individual over someone down the street who’s an ass.

Besides, the petunias looked terrible. And they didn’t have any six packs of small marigolds.

I considered going to Mahoney’s, but wanted to check their hours and policies. As I suspected, they “strongly encourage” a mask, but don’t require it.

Nope. Not going there.

I’ll do without marigolds.

I might try going to Scenic Roots in Sandwich. Supposedly, they are following the protocols, and I’ve always had positive shopping experiences there.

Came home, followed full disinfectant protocols, and then replanted everything I’d bought: basil, lavender, thyme, chives, nasturtiums, a single mortgage lifter tomato plant, parsley. Repotted the tomato seedlings (with the basil). Planted some eggplant seeds and cherry pits. Should have planted more, but by then, I was too damn tired and the morning was gone.

Disinfectant protocols are time consuming.

But it beats the alternative.

Participated in the Freelance Chat, which was fun.

Willa was out in the playpen for the repotting, and she loved it. She had the best time. I took Tessa out in the playpen in the afternoon and she hated it. Cried and cried, upsetting the other two. It was heartbreaking.

She loves to be outside, but we have such a hard time getting her back in that she has to be in the playpen. But she hates the playpen, because she’s used to being able to roam around on the deck. So she can’t go outside for awhile. It makes me sad. But I can’t risk her running away because she’s upset and doesn’t want to come back in.

Finished reading STEELFLOWER by Lilith St. Crow. Loved the world building and the characters. Sad for her (and for us, her readers) that piracy destroyed the series.

The problem with a Lilith St. Crow book is, as you as you sigh in the pleasure of finishing a really good book, the immediate need to read another of her books strikes, or there are withdrawal symptoms.

Plenty of things I should have done yesterday. Didn’t do any of them, so will have to catch up today.

It’s a lunar eclipse during four retrogrades – the only thing I’m doing off property is the curbside pickup for my library book.

There’s plenty that needs to be done in the house, in the yard, and on the computer.

Of course, because I have no time for new ideas, I got a new idea while baking the brandy-currant-sour cream pound cake from the Moosewood recipe. Paranormal romantic comedy/mystery around a haunted bakery. The idea has to get in line, although I’ll make notes.

It’s supposed to be a nice weekend; let’s hope they’re right. Have a good one, in spite of the Sociopathic coward who built a fence around the People’s House.

The new case numbers are going up again in the state, but the powers-that-be are ignoring them and moving forward with reckless re-opening.

Best wishes for a peaceful, healthy weekend.

Published in: on June 5, 2020 at 5:25 am  Comments Off on Fri. June 5, 2020: Die for Your Employer Day 18 – Local Disappointments  
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Tues. Jan. 14, 2020: The Skeezy & The Stormy

Tuesday, January 14, 2019
Waning Moon
No Retrogrades

Can you believe it? We have a short window with no retrogrades. It’s going to feel strange.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, where I have an interview up with historical author Jean Roberts.

I was so, so angry on Friday. I’d gotten a quick response from an LOI, asking me for more information and sending me a link to pre-interview questions on a Google doc.

The “questions” were a demand for me to write a proposal, complete with sources. Unpaid, of course. Another question was about how I’d go about contacting a Big Name this company wants to land for a project.

First of all, I don’t do unpaid work, especially not this kind. The company expects “interviewees” to write full proposals WITH SOURCE MATERIAL. Unpaid. Then, the company will tell each one who did it that they didn’t make the cut. Then, the company has a year’s worth of proposals written without paying for a single one. Can you say scam?

Second, I HAVE the contact information for this particular Big Name. I don’t give it out, certainly without permission. And I sure as HELL wouldn’t give it to a sleazy organization like this one.

Third, none of this has anything to do with the parameters of the job about which I sent an LOI — scriptwriting. They said they wanted scriptwriters to write spots FOR THEIR CLIENTS. Not proposal writers to land new clients, or mine people’s contact lists. Yet that’s what these “pre-interview” questions demand.

Boo, shove those questions right up your ass.

It was a decent writing weekend. I have some ideas on what I want to build the Susanna Centlivre play around. I may use both of them, or I may choose one and make it a shorter, more focused play. I need to do some more research.

Friday afternoon, I worked on the books for review. Saturday morning, into the afternoon, I wrote, getting ahead on blog posts. Spent most of the afternoon doing laundry and starting contest entries. I’m still working on the laundry to finish and put away from the holidays.

Worked with the cats. Tessa and Willa are making progress. Tessa and Charlotte are still having trouble.

Re-read MY STAGGERFORD JOURNAL, Jon Hessler’s account of writing his first novel. I enjoyed it, but was much more aware of white male privilege this time around.

Made rumbledethumps on Saturday night, from the Moosewood recipe. That’s always good.

It was warm and sunny out on Saturday. I should have done yard work, but I was busy doing other work.

It was stormy Saturday into Sunday. Terrible winds. Warm with rain, but the damp made it feel cold. I didn’t dare work on the computer until the afternoon, for fear the power would go out and hurt the machine. It’s old and limping along as it is. I want to be good to it.

Worked on contest entries. Worked on “Trust.” The end still isn’t where I want it.
Worked on the Kate Warne curtain-raiser, which still doesn’t have a title, but is plugging along decently. I got an excellent ten pages on it, which means it will be longer than I expected — a tad more than a curtain raiser.

Worked on contest entries. This year’s entries are strong, with terrific premises. Always exciting.

Monday client work was fine, and I was happy to get to meditation.

Today, I’m with a client most of the day, and then other meetings.

Looking forward to some solid writing time.

Fri. Oct. 18, 2019: Storm Day = Cat Socialization Work

Friday, October 18, 2019
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Clear and cool

Sorry about yesterday. No Ink in My Coffee. No Gratitude and Growth. But there’s a short post over on Affairs of the Pen today on shipboard activities.

The power went out around 1 AM on Thursday. We called it in, even though it was during the storm. Better to get in the queue early than to wait until it’s over and then have to wait even longer.

Tried to go back to sleep, but didn’t do more than doze. The winds screamed more than the new cats when they’re arguing about something.

It kept the cats quiet, that’s for sure. They didn’t like it.

I got up at the usual time, although it was still dark. The flashlight got me to the candles. I made coffee. The gas stove works in power outages (although the oven does not). The heat, also gas, does not work because it’s powered by an electric switch, which annoys me on multiple levels.

I fed the cats by candlelight. Charlotte was so cute. I told her I couldn’t see in the dark the way she could. She would run ahead of me a few feet, then come back and touch my leg with a paw, then run ahead a few feet, then come back. Like a seeing eye cat.

Willa and Charlotte have not been socialized much. It’s obvious their original human adored them and spoiled them. But they’ve never really learned how to interact, although they want to. So we’re working on that.

Willa is more outgoing. She’s already a lap cat, and loves to play and interact. But she gets oversitmulated, and then, even on a lap, can get yowly and growly. She nipped the first few days, but we’ve gotten her past that. She’s very sweet, for the most part, although she needs to learn to be a Writer’s Cat — I need BOTH hands to type, and will pet her in between paragraphs.

Willa does start the yowling and screeching with both of the others. I think she wants to be dominant cat. She might be dominant over Charlotte (although I suspect Charlotte only lets her think so sometimes), but Tessa is Head Cat in this house, and Tessa is not putting up with Willa’s antics.

Willa does back down from Tessa, though. Which is good.

Willa is also fascinated by running water. She likes to be on the bathroom counter when the tap is going, and she’s trying to learn how to turn it on herself. Fortunately, one needs thumbs for that. She doesn’t like closed doors, especially not bathroom doors. She loves the new perch we made for her on the old tea cart from Chicago’s Pump Room that’s in my office and usually holds plants. We put a fleece blanket on the top, which is even with the windowsill. She sits and watches the squirrels and neighborhood dogs and cars. Her behavior has vastly improved since we set that up.

She needs a lot to do. Lots of playtime, interaction. I’m thinking of getting her some battery-operated toys.

Charlotte is at the stage where she wants company, but she doesn’t know how to interact with people or other cats. She sits and watches most of the time, which is fine. She comes and asks for attention, but still won’t let anyone pet her.

I think she and Tessa will make friends first. They barely growl at each other anymore, and, when they do, it’s half-hearted.

Charlotte likes to be up — on the behemoth, on the bureau. She likes to be on the bed with me. Unfortunately, so do the others, so it can get a little dicey.

Tessa stomps around, keeping them in line.

Willa and Charlotte swat each other sometimes, but not Tessa. And they swat each other with soft paws. It’s more vocal than physical, thank goodness.

They’re getting lots of individual playtime, but now they want to be involved in each other’s playtime. But then they get upset that the other cats are there, and run away. But it’s already better.

Today is only two weeks since Willa arrived, and a little less for Charlotte. Tessa is much happier with them here, even though she’s telling them off. My cat vet in NY said that once, “It’s better for two cats to live together than alone. As long as they don’t attack each other, even if they don’t like each other, it gives them something to do.”

So this weird insistence here in MA shelters that adult cats have to be “only cats” makes no sense.

The Storm Day was good for socializing. With no power, no street lights, library closed, many businesses closed, and the sirens going for police and fire all day, I was lucky I could stay home.

Even without power, it wasn’t too cold. We bundled up in sweats & sweaters & socks & blankets. The cats settled in with us. We read and played with them. It was quiet (except for the neighbors’ generators). They got used to all being in the room together and associating good things with it.

Willa and Charlotte learn fast. They already know that “bedtime snacks” means treats and then I head upstairs for meditation and bed. Now, they gobble their snacks and get there ahead of me.

Charlotte is fascinated by the meditation space. Sometimes, she sleeps on the cushion when I’m not there.

The power came on for a few minutes in the early afternoon. Then it waved, off and on, until it steadied later in the afternoon. Cell service was out for most of the day. Most of the batteries I stockpiled for just such an emergency were new, yet didn’t work.

Candles are much more reliable.

The batteries in the radio worked, though, so we could get news, which was a help.

I finished reading MISS BUNCLE’S BOOK, which was odd and charming and delightful. I read a mystery by an author whose earlier work I adored, but whose turn into puritanical mystery in locations with no flavor and stock caricatures instead of characters disappoints me. I’d skipped her last few books, but thought I’d
try again. It didn’t work for me. The relationships, including the supposed romantic ones, are flat and bloodless. No, thanks.

Started reading a mystery by a new-to-me author who has a lot of books in the series (how did I miss her )? The location is unusual and well-rendered, the human-animal relationships are good, but I’m not sure about the rest yet.

My treat for myself this weekend is my friend Arlene Kay’s newest release, Homicide by Horse Show. Once I get everything done.

Made a Kripalu recipe of roasted eggplant, tomato, raisin, and mint over couscous for dinner. It was good. Hope to make cowboy cookies (from the Moosewood recipe) later today.

There’s a lot of yard cleanup to do. Plenty of branches came down, although I don’t think any big limbs did. Some idiot was out in the nor’easter yesterday using his leafblower.

I have some client meetings to finalize for next week, and some other work to get done at the library, along with pickups/drop-offs. The furnace guy is coming this afternoon for yearly maintenance. I have stuff to put away.

I didn’t turn around the edits for my Llewellyn article; will do it this weekend and send it off on Monday. I have some other edits to finish this weekend, too.

I gave myself yesterday off for the storm and cat socializing. Now, I need to get back to work.

Have a great weekend!

 

Fri. June 21, 2019: Happy Summer Solstice!

summer-2951887_1920
image courtesy of Nanou22 via http://www.pixabay.com

Friday, June 21, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Summer Solstice/Midsummer
Rainy and cool

Four planets in retrograde, with Mercury getting ready to join them in early July. Time to take the time for clarifications on multiple levels.

Blessed Summer Solstice! This is MID-summer, not the “first day of summer” as is so often erroneously cited.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, where I finally have the post up about the play I read for the #ReaderExpansionChallenge.

Yesterday, I was up early, and on the bus to Boston. Even though it’s about a two hour trip, especially in traffic, since I’m not driving, I don’t mind. I managed my first 1K of the day on the bus by the time we hit Plymouth.

Traffic was bad from Hingham all the way up to Boston, but we were only five minutes behind schedule, and I was still very early for my meeting.

I enjoy South Station enormously. As I walked down the platform, from the bus terminal to the train terminal, the Acela from Boston to Washington was boarding, and they called out the name of my old hometown (Rye) as one of the stops. For some reason, that just tickled me.

It had started to rain quite heavily. It wasn’t a long walk from South Station to the meeting on Tremont Street — just up Summer Street, then Winter Street, then turn left on Tremont. About ten minutes, past stores and restaurants. But I was pretty soaked by the time I got there. I was early, and waited in the conference room, trying to keep the dripping in one place.

The meeting was short and went well. We’ll see. Either I’m what they’re looking for, or I’m not. I suspect they want to go with someone younger and with ad agency experience. And, of course, in the back of my mind I’m saying, “I had to make a four hour round trip for a half hour meeting?”

But I wanted to take advantage of being in Boston.

Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out for me to get to the MFA and research in their library.

But the rain had lessened to a drizzle by the time I left. I walked back toward the Station. I got my New York City smarts back the second I’d left the bus, so the grifters looking to hit on the tourists scattered the minute they spotted me. Don’t even, people, I lived a block from Times Square.

There was a green market on the plaza opposite the station. Small, but good quality. But I forgot all that when I saw there was a Vietnamese food truck. Bon Me. I haven’t had Vietnamese food since I moved to the Cape, and it’s my favorite of all the Asian cuisines.

I was enchanted by the choices and stood to one side, taking my time to make my choice, without getting in the way of people ordering. I decided on the Namesake sandwich (a banh my, from which the truck’s name is derived) and an Iced Vietnamese coffee. I adore Vietnamese coffee — didn’t even know one could get it iced.

Those of us who waited under the shelter of the awning (it started pouring again), laughed and chatted. It was so nice to be within a diverse group of people. I didn’t pay attention to it when I lived in New York, because it was a fact of life. But on Cape, it’s homogeneous, and not in a good way. So it was nice to be around a different group of people who were smart and funny and looking forward to their lunch.

I took my meal in to the station and sat at one of the high tables in the food area, enjoying it immensely and eavesdropping on various conversations, as writers do. I mentioned, at one point, that this was the second best sandwich I ever had. That meant that other people at the table wanted to know what was the best, which was the first muffaletta I ever had from Central Grocery in New Orleans.

I stopped at Au Bon Pain to get some chocolate croissants, and headed back down the train platform to the bus terminal and to the bus. I’d missed the previous bus by about five minutes, which is why I decided I could indulge in lunch. Although, once I spotted Bon Me, I would have happily missed the bus on purpose.

The bus I wanted didn’t show up; word was that it was cancelled. But then it showed up late, and took the first ten of us (all that could fit). Traffic was bad and it was raining. I settled back in the seat with my book to enjoy the ride.

An aging Southern Belle was on the bus, on her way to visit friends on Nantucket. She did that helpless thing that absolutely drives me nuts, to get the men to jump to her tune and help her, instead of just asking for someone to help. Then, when the bus hit the brakes because some stupid car from New Jersey cut in front, made an abrupt stop, and then gunned the engine and took off, she claimed she hit her face on the safety bar (she was in the front seat). She was moaning and carrying on how she needed ice and would have a black eye and scrambled to put on her oversized sunglasses.

I finally couldn’t take it anymore and said, “Let me see.” I took a look and told her (in all truth), “Sweetie, your foundation’s not even smudged. It’s not going to get red, much less swollen or a black eye.”

She wasn’t pleased, because then she had to shut the hell up.

I didn’t make it home in time to get to the yoga class my friend was covering. But I made Moosewood’s “Best Chili” and cornbread for dinner, and it was darn good.

Today, I’m doing some remote work for a client and getting out some pitches. I have some errands to run (because we can’t run out of toilet paper, you know), and then I’m headed over to Old King’s Coffeehouse, which just opened up on the Hyannis/Yarmouth line. I’m looking forward to trying them.

It’s pouring with rain, so I might move some of my other errands to tomorrow. I’ll play most of the day by ear.

Have a lovely weekend! It’s supposed to be sunny and gorgeous here, so I’m going to alternate writing and working in the garden.

Published in: on June 21, 2019 at 8:45 am  Comments Off on Fri. June 21, 2019: Happy Summer Solstice!  
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Mon. March 12, 2018: Healthy Eating #UpbeatAuthors

 

Okay, when I picked myself up off the floor from this . . .

Why would today’s topic make me laugh?

For a couple of reasons. First, it was my birthday yesterday, which meant healthy eating was the last thing I worried about.

Second, because yesterday was also when we “spring forward” — and I can’t tell you how much I resent losing an hour of sleep ON MY BIRTHDAY. I take it very personally.

However, for the most part, healthy eating is more the normal part of my day than the exception. Why? Because when I eat properly for my body and my life, I feel better.

I rarely drink soda, and never “diet” soda. I eat very little junk food or processed food.

I’ve cut way back on sugar, especially refined sugar. In my baking, I’m working on substituting honey for sugar whenever possible, and then adjusting the rest of the recipe around it.

I don’t use fake sweeteners.

I do, however, drink whole milk, use real butter, etc.

I also grow as many of my own herbs and vegetables as possible. I believe in the mission that Edible Landscapes teaches, “Have your yard and eat it, too!” I currently rent, which means much of what I plant is in containers; but when I own my own place, there will be very little traditional lawn, and very much wild space and native plants — and many more vegetable beds.

I love to cook, and that helps me eat healthy, too. I read cookbooks the same way I read novels, and with the same pleasure. You might even say I “devour” them. I own many, many cookbooks — and even use most of them. I often use the recipe as a baseline, and then experiment from there.

The cookbooks I use most frequently and can’t live without are:

MOOSEWOOD RESTAURANT FAVORITES
THE NEW BASICS by Julie Russo and Sheila Lukins
THE MOOSEWOOD COOKBOOK by Mollie Katzen
MARCELLA CUCINA by Marcella Hazen
THE NEW ENGLAND COOKBOOK by Brooke Donny
THE WAY TO COOK by Julia Child
JULIA’S KITCHEN WISDOM by Julia Child
THE POOR POET’S COOKBOOK (I bought that for 99 cents in San Francisco in the 1980s and still love it) by Ann Rogers
BEARD ON PASTA by James Beard

I often test drive cookbooks by checking them out of the library and cooking a few recopies from them. If I like the book enough, I buy it.

Control the food, control the population. Food is a social justice issue for me as much as it is a pleasure. We have the right to access fresh, healthy food. That means we have to put people into government who do not destroy environmental protections. If the soil and water are polluted, our food will harm us instead of keeping us healthy.

If we allow corporations to use pesticides to kill bees, we won’t have food. If we allow sterile seeds to be our only source, the corporation who creates the sterile seeds can decide not only WHAT we eat, but IF we eat.

That is not acceptable to me.

Growing as much as I can keeps me connected to the process — there’s a lot of joy as well as a lot of flavor in eating something you grew. I also know that the soil is good and free of contaminants, the water I use the same.

I am still an omnivore, although more and more of my choices veer away from red meat, and, over time, over meat in general.

Cooking makes eating healthy much easier. I enjoy cooking. I don’t believe it’s “too much work” to cook for myself (although I often cook for more than myself). I believe I deserve healthy, well-prepared meals. I enjoy the process of making them. Granted, vegetarian meals tend to require a great deal of chopping, which means you need a good set of knives. But it’s worth it.

Roast chicken is easy — half an onion and lemon juice in the cavity, a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper over it, 5 cups of water in the roasting pan, cover, put in an oven for 2-1/2 hours and it’s tender and delicious.

Mashed potatoes are easy, and the secret is to warm the milk before you add it to mash (and always use whole milk and real butter, along with a bit of salt and pepper).

Steamed broccoli is great with a little seasoned salt over it.

Steamed green beans get an extra kick from some lemon juice or hollandaise sauce.

Moosewood Favorites has a great eggplant stuffed with spicy mashed potatoes — the potatoes are mashed with cream cheese instead of milk and butter. There are a mix of spices in it, along with diced red peppers, carrots, and peas. The filing can be eaten on its own or used as a side dish for other food.

Dice up a few fresh tomatoes, add some cooked corn and diced onions. You’ve got a salsa that’s great with steamed fish. Add some parsley, fresh spinach, oil and balsamic vinegar, and you’ve got a salad.

Fresh herbs can brighten up even the most boring meal. And no meal needs to be boring. Experiment.

If it doesn’t work, you’ll know and try something different the next time.

I never enjoyed eating until I started to cook. Once I enjoyed cooking, tasting and eating are part of that. I used to only enjoy cooking for others. But I got tired of both the expense and the quality of eating out.

My rule of thumb when I’m in a restaurant is I only order what I wouldn’t/couldn’t make at home. As my home-cooked repertoire grows, what I order when out shrinks!

The positive part of that is it makes me try new dishes instead of ordering the same old, same old when I’m out. It also encourages me, when I like something I’ve tried in a restaurant, to figure out how to cook it at home.

Decide what foods make you feel good, not just while you’re eating, but after. What fuels your body and your spirit? If you genuinely listen to your body instead of stuffing it with empty calories, you’ll start to align with foods that are better for you and that you wind up enjoying more.

Try that this year — grow a few things you LIKE to eat. Take sensual pleasure in cooking, tasting, preparing and eating food, even if it’s for yourself.

Worry less about calorie counts and more about nutritional value, taste, and presentation.

You’ll find yourself naturally gravitating towards healthier foods.

 

Published in: on March 12, 2018 at 4:35 am  Comments Off on Mon. March 12, 2018: Healthy Eating #UpbeatAuthors  
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Tues. Nov. 7, 2017: Settling into a New Schedule

Savasana at Sea Cover Choice 1

Savasana at Sea available for pre-release orders. Releases on Nov. 15, 2017.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise. The prolific Rhonda Pollero is my guest this week, with her newest release, Trapped.

I broke a toe Thursday night. Not a big deal, just painful and distracting, and about the 6th time I’ve broken this poor toe. Not fun.

Busy weekend.

Spent a few hour with a client on Friday morning, then dashed off to another meeting and did errands. Worked on the book I have to review next — will send that off today.

Also did a dump run first thing Friday, and then scrubbed out our garbage bins.

Didn’t get much work done on THE MARRIAGE GARDEN. Got some done on Saturday — it’s interesting how differently Doug sees many of the same situations as Willow does. The contrast is interesting, and fun to play with. He’s very much himself, and not a stereotype, which makes him more interesting.

We treated ourselves to fish and chips for dinner. We so rarely eat fried food. Worth every bite.

Watched LOCH NESS (first series) over the weekend. Loved the production values, the writing, the actors — until the ending. The ending didn’t quite satisfy me. But, overall, I liked it. If they do another season, I’d watch it.

Saturday, I did some work in the morning, including some yard work (not that one can tell — there’s far more to do), scrubbed the house from top to bottom.

Then, I went Over the Bridge — a big deal for most people on Cape — because Edible Landscapes Cape Cod did a workshop at the Wildlands Trust in Plymouth.

Wildlands Trust isn’t far from where we did the Mermaid Ball for a couple of years. I’d never been there before — it’s beautiful. There was also someone there from Terra Cura, who’d written an article in Edible South Shore. She talks about creating an Herbal Spiral — something I’d like to try in the spring.

The workshop was in two parts — Medicinal Herbs by Marina, and then Seed Saving by Dave. Marina talked about infusions, tinctures, salves, oils, etc. I’ve always struggled with tinctures, but she presented the information in such a way that it suddenly made sense to me. She also talked about local plants considered weeds (certainly by my neighbors) such as dandelion, burdock, red clover, stinging nettle, and their uses. Then, Dave talked us through seed saving, and taught us how to winnow — a way to use wind to separate the seed from whatever’s protecting it. It was pretty cool.

I bought rue seeds and lobelia seeds for next season, and, from the winnowing, got some scarlet runner beans, anise hyssop, and shiso seeds. Can’t wait! Also learned how to store the cherry seeds I saved, and why the squash kept making blossoms and going no further (other than the fact some critter really liked to snack on the blossoms).

All in all, a great few hours spent in a beautiful location.

Home, wrote up some notes, got some writing done.

My mom is having a hard time with the post-op care. We have to constantly change the dressings (which is painful — no matter what type of tape we use, it hurts her). She can’t lift or bend, which means she can’t do even the most basic tasks, like feeding the cats. An independent person, it’s difficult for her. She gets out her stitches on Thursday, but there are still about six weeks of post-op care after that — hopefully less painful and complicated.

Sunday was all about grocery shopping. I made an Indonesian Rice Salad for lunch at the on-site client’s this week (Moosewood recipe), chocolate mousse (because one doesn’t need a reason to have chocolate).

Finished the book I have to review. Did research on San Simeon for this next, complex section of THE FIX IT GIR. Started one final pass on the proofs for SAVASANA AT SEA, which drops on the 15th.

Up early Monday. Wrote a few blog posts for clients. Site work with one client for the bulk of the day, then a couple of virtual meetings with other clients. Finished the review, which will go out today. Also trying to figure out the problem signing into PR Log, so I can get out the press release for SAVASANA.

Other than client work, the focus this week is on making sure there are no copyediting errors in SAVASANA, whipping into shape the next section of FIX IT GIRL, and starting the Lavinia Fontana play.

Plus, pre-release promotion for SAVASANA, and continuing promotion for PLAYING THE ANGLES.

We decided FIX-IT GIRL won’t go out on submission until January. It’s too close to the holidays to dump anything on an agent’s desk, and I have a policy of not submitting between December 15 & January 15. First queries should go out around the 15th of January, which gives everyone a week or so to settle back in after the holidays.

Also, with TRACKING MEDUSA re-releasing on January 13, I have my hands full.

The deadline for the Lavinia play remains the end of December. It’s mostly shaped in my head; at this point, it’s more getting it down on paper, which means large swaths of uninterrupted work time. I will have to carve some out later this week.

I’ve also got to spend some time on “Miss Winston Apologizes”, which needs to drop by the end of the month. And I need to draft the flash fiction holiday piece I want to put into the newsletter that will go out in December.

Never a dull moment, which is a good thing!