Tues. July 12, 2022: Building a Sense of Creative Community

image courtesy of ds_30 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Sunny, warm, humid

There’s a quick post over on the GDR site about how too many prompts, etc. can be counterproductive.

Friday was actually pretty fun. I wrote the first draft of the one act in the morning. I did my errands: gas station, couple of stores to get hardware and more pots, library, wine store. Ran into my friend the baker at the library, and made plans to get together at the Farmers’ Market Saturday.

Home, and got everything unpacked.

Did my first Duolingo Italian assignment. I’m keeping my expectations low, just 10 minutes per day. The first lesson breezed right past. Having a little bit of French definitely helped. I could see correlations. What I’m not sure about is if I’m actually learning the vocabulary, because a lot of “writing the sentences” was about choosing the words that made the most sense. But am I really learning them? Still, it was fun, and if I feel comfortable with the Italian lessons in a few months, I might see if I can level up my French with them, too.

I kept up with the Duolingo assignments every day all weekend. I enjoy them, but I also need an Italian textbook to understand some of the “whys” behind the choices.

Saturday was Farmers’ Market Day. The weather was gorgeous, the stalls filled to bursting with glorious offerings. I stocked up on large tomatoes, cucumbers, baby red potatoes, fennel, sugar snap peas, lemon basil, eggs, espresso coffee cake muffins, banana bread – just wonderful. It’s as much as social/community experience as a shopping one. The regulars chat with each other, it’s full of friendly dogs making friends, everyone is cheerful and happy to be there. I look forward to going there every week.

I talked to my friend the baker about commissioning her to make the cheesecake for my mom’s 98th birthday in October. Cheesecake is my mom’s favorite, and she should have a good one. I always buy one (because I am terrible at making cheesecake), and I’d rather the money go to a local, small business, really talented baker.

I popped into the grocery store to build around the FM finds, then headed off to Wild Oats, the co-op, to fill in a couple of other things, and then to another grocery store on the way home to pick up something I knew they carried.

The stores have put the signs back up “recommending” and “requesting” people masks again, regardless of vaccination status. Locals have been good about it throughout, but it’s tourist season, and while it’s nowhere near as whackadoodle here as it was on Cape, there are still germy nasties roaming around.

At one of the grocery stores, a white (of course) woman whined to the manager, “I’m on vacation. I don’t want to wear a mask, and I shouldn’t have to look at anyone else wearing a mask. Maybe I’ll just take my tourist dollars and go home.”

I stopped my masked ass the requisite social distance from her and said, “You’re gone, we’re alive, sounds like a win to me.”

She did that guppy face thing, and the manager cracked up.

Because fucking tourists.

The Cape’s COVID numbers have gone way up (of course). Makes me glad I’m not there anymore; makes me worry about friends and colleagues living/visiting/working there.

We were considering taking our two-day autumn break at the tip of the Cape, on the beach, but my mom said, “No way am I going to Cape Cod when they continue to behave like selfish idiots.” And then I got an email from the state health whatever about how the highest rate of monkeypox in the state is in Provincetown, so yeah, we’ll skip it.

So we will go elsewhere. Maybe the coast of Maine or to Newport. I just want to sit somewhere overlooking ocean and read books for two days. No sightseeing (which is why it makes sense to go somewhere familiar). No indoor dining. A room/cottage with a deck, an ocean view, and books. A room with a fridge, and we’ll do takeout. If there’s a kitchen, I can cook. Although, hey, vacation, maybe I’ll stick with takeout. If the virus numbers keep going up, we aren’t going anywhere.

Speaking of cooking (note the segue way), I used the lemon basil from the market and made pesto, because I do love pesto, and I love Full Well Farm’s lemon basil, so lemon basil pesto it is.

I made vegetable stock in the crockpot, which worked well. I’ll freeze one jar and keep the other two in the fridge to use up.

Saturday afternoon, I could not put it off any longer, and finished the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell. Because the directions are so bad, I had to take something apart, do the next step, then do the thing I had to take apart, because if I did it in the order of the directions, I could get at the bit that needed to be done next. But by flipping the order, I could do both. Also, they kept instructing work done on it when it was sideways on the floor, when it made more sense to work on the bottom when it was upside down, and I could use my bodyweight. It was impossible to tighten the top the way the instructions ordered – there was no way to get in a tool to do it in that space. I’m trusting gravity, and, if need be, later on, Gorilla glue. The piece for the back wasn’t cut square, but I managed to nudge it to at least cover what needs to be covered. The doors splintered when the hardware was fastened. So they are put aside. I found one of my old tension rods, and I’m using the sewing mouse café curtains that always adorned my offstage workstation off-Broadway at theatres like the Variety Arts. They’re a little long and wrong, but until I can make other curtains (I have good fabric in my stash), they will do. I will also get some fabric for the back of the cart, because it’s so darn ugly I can’t stand to look at it. I will trim it and Velcro it onto the back, so that I can wash it when needed.

But the drawer (I built a drawer; I’m so proud) and the shelves  and the top are fine. The Tupperware is in the bottom, and the baking pans I had stacked over the cabinets nearest the kitchen window all fit. Now I have room, on that cabinet top, for the teapots I’m bringing up from the next storage run. The top is a good workspace, and I always need more workspace.

But I was achy and tired by the end of the day.

Sunday was another beautiful, sunny, temperate day. The wreath we bought the weekend after Thanksgiving, hung on the door for the Winter Yule season, then stripped of ornaments and hung on the living room since, just started drying up. So I stripped the wreath. I have one jar of small needles/twigs for Winter Solstice. I have 5 jars of pine needles stripped from the rest of it.

What would you use pine needles for? Glad you asked. Incense, sachets, charms, bath mixtures, and potpourri. For instance, for this holiday season, I’ll pour pine needles in a bowl, take an orange, stud it with whole cloves, toss in some cinnamon sticks, and there’s a holiday scent without anything perfumy. I can take a cheesecloth or linen bag, put in pine needles, rosemary, and orange or lemon peel, and put it in the bathwater. (Trust me, you want it a bag you can soak and then dump, not loose in the water. Learn from my missteps. There are places on the human body in which pine needles should never venture).

I’ll keep the frame, in case I want to build some other kind of wreath using it.

Tessa helped. She loves anything scented (and I think she misses my stillroom as much as I do). Willa watched from a safe distance. Charlotte slept through the whole thing.

But most of Sunday was mellow, enjoying reading, being on the porch, playing with the cats, etc. The neighborhood was quiet, because people took advantage of the nice weather to go out and do things Elsewhere. Which meant Here was quiet.

I finished the Shirley Jackson biography and read Thomas Lynch’s wonderful poems WALKING PAPERS. He is a poet who is also an undertaker. I have several of his books to read.

Sauteed fresh trout from the local fishmonger in butter, with salt and pepper, boiled fresh red potatoes (from Red Shirt Farm) and served them with butter, and blanched sugar snap peas (from Full Well Farm) in boiling water, then tossed them with sesame oil and parsley. Absolute bliss, tasting real flavors.

I’m enjoying the kitchen island cart. The additional workspace is wonderful.

Went to bed ridiculously early. Woke up at 1:30, but went back to sleep, until Tessa and Charlotte rousted me out of bed around 5:30.

Got the email box down from over 700 emails to 67. Worked on my day’s Italian lesson. Created interview questions for a project. Did a run to the library and the grocery store to pick up something forgotten over the weekend. Worked out a visit in a few weeks to a friend I haven’t seen since before I moved to the Cape (although we always kept in touch).

I’m having trouble with my keyboard. It’s only working on the top half of the screen. More Windows 11-HP-McAfee miscommunication, no doubt.

The dickhead postal carrier AGAIN put my box in the mail slot, where I can’t get it out because the residence side is 1” smaller than the postal slot. Seven fucking months this has gone on. So I wrote it all out in a formal letter to the postmaster. If it continues, I’ll file the complaint through the main USPS system. I was polite in the letter and asked for better training, even though I know, after seven months of conversations and notes with this guy, he’s just being a dick.

Read a script in the afternoon, but didn’t finish the analysis. I will do that today, and read another script that came up in the queue, only the file was corrupted, so I had to request a new copy. That came through, so all good.

In the early evening, I went over to Greylock Works, the converted mill, that’s a really cool space now. The Northern Berkshire Artist Meetup was there, coordinated by several groups. It was a mixed experience. Cool space. But indoors, and not everyone was masking (I, of course, did). With food and drink, even those masking had to remove them sometimes. More people in the space than I was comfortable with, although the fans and ventilation system was strong.

Some very cool people. I met an older artist who calls works in “oversized political origami” and married to a guy who was a Madison Avenue adman in 1960’s NYC. I met a filmmaker/sculptor/teacher. I met a guy who moved up here from DC with his poet boyfriend (I told him about the World’s Largest Poem). And, in passing, a bunch of other people. One chick announced, “Oh, my husband just tested positive for COVID. Maybe I should wear a mask?” and started giggling. No, hon, you should LEAVE.

Everyone near by stepped back, and those who weren’t masking scrambled to put theirs on. Fortunately, she was way more than 6 feet away (more like 12 or 16, but hey, airborne). I stayed away.

The new director of MASSMoCA, Kristy Edmunds, was the guest speaker, sharing her views on sustainable creative practice, and her vision to help artists shape and live sustainably creative lives (in other words, paid for their work and supported). She takes the time to get to know people in the community as individuals, not just the big donors. That makes a huge difference. She was really interested in talking to us, and in continued conversation. Several other organizations/agencies distributed information and resources. There’s a lot to tap into, and a lot of sharing of resources going on.

I left soon after the talk and those conversations. I would have liked to stay and listen to the music, but too many people indoors and, I’m not yet comfortable with that. As it is, I’m going to be a paranoid hypochondriac for the next 10 days, watching for symptoms. But, as the friend who worked on the vaccine pointed out, I’m probably exposed to just as much virus every time I got into the grocery store. I need to keep masking, remain cautious, and let the vaccines do their job.

I was masked. Let’s hope this wasn’t a miscalculation. I’ll know soon enough, right? When I came home, I went through the old, pre-vaccine decontamination protocols, just in case.

I didn’t get much sleep, thanks to Charlotte and Tessa hurling furballs all night. The cats have shed their summer coats already, and are growing in thick winter coats. The squirrels are putting things away for winter (destroying a lot of the plants on the balcony). It bodes for a tough winter.

Up early this morning (because it’s hard to sleep through hurling furballs). Off to the laundromat. Worked on the multi-colored draft of The Big Project. I’d like to work on revisions for the one acts, but I have to get the Big Project where it needs to be, so the announcement can go out next week, and the marketing push can begin. I will also follow up on the cards/postcards/contacts I collected yesterday.

I may, however, need to take a nap somewhere in there. The cats, of course, are all fast asleep.

I have some bills to drop in the box at the bottom of the road, but I’m going to spend the morning on Topic Workbooks and The Big Project, and the afternoon on script coverage. This evening, I will start reading the next book for review.

That’s the catch up. Hope you’re having a great week.

Fri. Nov. 18, 2016: Rolling the Writing Ball

Friday, Nov. 18, 2016
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cool

I forgot to post yesterday. I apologize. So this post combines both day’s thoughts.

Busy few days. Got some painting done, some yard work done (but I can’t stay ahead of the leaves).

DEATH OF A CHOLERIC was ready to go out on submission yesterday, but I had file compatibility problems, so it has to go out today instead. However, the completed revisions of PLAYING THE ANGLES went out, and will hopefully be picked up and re-issued soon. I’m going over TRACKING MEDUSA in a few days, and then that will go out the door in search of re-issue, too. HEART-SNATCHER is almost through revisions and will be ready to go on submission either before the end of the year, or just after the first of the year.

I love PLAYING THE ANGLES (what used to be ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT). It’s still one of my favorite books that I’ve written.

I think I’m going to do the Nina Bell books myself; they’re too quirky to make business sense for a traditional publisher. I need to do a new cover in the next few weeks for one of the shorts, and then work on the first Nina and the beginning of the second Nina so that I can release the first one in spring. It makes me laugh (uncomfortably) that a range of time I lived through could now be called “period”.

I found an older novel of mine, that needs about 100 more pages to complete, which I loved, but put away. It’s called THE FIX-IT GIRL, and is set in 1930s Hollywood. I read it yesterday. There’s a lot of good stuff there. I made notes on revisions, and I’ve got an idea of what to do with the last 100 pages. I think I can whip it into shape to be ready for submission by late winter or early spring.

I want to make sure I get through the backlog, and that everything out there is earning its keep!

Did some work on MURDER OF A MELANCHOLIC, and also on the sci-fi/fantasy/mystery. and the contemporary play. I need to get back to the contemporary intrigue/romance, and the two historical plays.

I have to stop eating red meat for awhile again; that seems to be what’s been making me sick lately. That happened a few years ago — I had to stop eating red meat for about six months. I’ve eaten too much of it since our company came in September (they were big fans of red meat), and now I’m paying the price. So, back to a lighter diet.

I’ve got to finish up some research on Gilded Age Newport in the next few days and get those books back to the library. I think I need to focus on plot and character for this draft, and then layer in historical detail in the next. I’ve got a decent idea of time and place, but the research is interfering with the story at this point. I need to write the story to see what I have, and then see what needs to change for it to make sense within its historical context, and where my character chooses to break the social norms. That’s one of the themes of the series — that she chooses to break convention, and then has to pay the price.

I’m hoping it clears up a bit in the coming hours, so I can get more yard work done. I mowed the front day before yesterday. It looked good for about five minutes until it filled with leaves again. I still need to do no-man’s land, the terrace, and the meadow, and then start raking the front.

However, I need to take the yard waste and recycling in as soon as the weather clears. It rained off and on yesterday. It’s miserable trying to unload the car and get it all the bins and on the yard waste piles in bad weather. But the garage is about to pop.

I think I’m done painting until spring, unless I paint some of the shells I’ve collected, with an eye to the holidays.

Onward.

Devon

Published in: on November 18, 2016 at 9:40 am  Comments Off on Fri. Nov. 18, 2016: Rolling the Writing Ball  
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Mon. Sept. 19, 2016: Getting Back to a Writing Rhythm

Monday, September 19, 2016
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and humid

We finally have some much-needed rain!

Saturday, we were up and out very early, headed to Providence. We dropped our friend off, then headed down to Newport. It was a gorgeous day.

The International Boat Show was in Newport. The place was packed! And I happened to walk into a store, and there was my fellow Sister-in-Crime, Alyssa Maxwell, doing a book signing for her Gilded Age mystery series set in Newport! I knew her work, of course, but we’d never met before. It was great to have a chat, meet, and I bought and she signed the book I didn’t have! 😉

We met friends for lunch at the Red Parrot (lots of choices, but a bit disappointing). I did some geographical research for the Victorian mystery.

Exhausted by the time we got home, and the cold came back full force. To bed early.

Sunday, I gave myself the day off, mostly reading and doing a few errands.

Today, it’s back to the page, once I’ve done some errands. I need to start opening out CONFIDENCE CONFIDANT (I need to submit the full length within the next few weeks), and work on the other projects I’m juggling. I’m also starting the next round of edits on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, and preparing for another trip later in the week.

Busy, busy, but good busy.

I think I know what’s coming next for the characters in “Lake Justice” – so I’ll have to get that going soon. I want to pair three shorts for the “Lake Justice” characters – one set in a ski resort, and the other set on an island in Maine. That will make a good set of stories to put together with the re-released “Lake Justice.”

I also want to do another Twinkle Tavern series mystery – probably a novella.

Somehow, I have to figure out how to fit them in with the projects I’m juggling, including the plays and CHOLERIC and SONGBOUND.

But it’s a good dilemma to have!

I will be very relieved when Mercury goes direct in a few days – and the Equinox is coming up!

Devon

Wed. Sept. 14, 2016: Creative Fuel

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Busy few days! I’ve been trying to balance work along with having company.

Company arrived Saturday, from NY via Megabus, although they changed the Megabus stop, so at first I was at the wrong place. Typical Mercury Retrograde!

But we found each other and got home. I’ve been cooking a lot for the company – good, homecooked, American food. We’ve gone out a few times—we spent Monday going all along the National Seashore, Eastham, Light houses, all the way down to Provincetown, where we had a wonderful lunch at Patio. The food there just gets better and better, and the service is great, too.

I’ve managed to get some writing done, one on a piece I’m calling UNBOUND, at least for now, and the other on an untitled short story that I have a feeling is going to turn into a novella.

The time in Provincetown on Monday gave me some ideas; I’m trying to decide if I want to write a contemporary suspense novel, or if I want to develop some of these ideas into one of the series on which I’m working. I have a feeling a one-off suspense novel will make more sense. So we’ll see. I’m playing with ideas.

Although time is short, the ideas are churning, which is always a good thing.

I helped some visual artists write grants this week, which is always fulfilling. I hope they get what they seek!

Next week, when the company is gone, I will go back into the next round of edits for DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. I’d like to get it submission-ready this fall, and have it start making the rounds.

Saturday, when we take our friend back to the bus in Providence, we will then drive to Newport, where I will do some research for the Victorian mystery, and also meet some other friends en route from Boston to Philadelphia for lunch.

I’m also developing my essays. Essays take me longer than long fiction!

Busy times, but good ones.

Hope you are all well and happy!

Devon

Published in: on September 14, 2016 at 9:05 am  Comments Off on Wed. Sept. 14, 2016: Creative Fuel  
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Fri. July 17, 2015: Trips to Newport and to Urgent Care

Friday, July 17, 2015
New Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Sorry I haven’t posted. It’s been, to say the least, chaotic.

Can I even remember all the way back to last weekend? I remember a lot of writing, especially on INITIATE, which was amazing. I was so happy to be back in that world. It’s one of my favorite writings.

I know I rescued a mouse that was caught in a sticky trap. I poured olive oil on the trap and helped the poor, frightened little thing work its way off and scamper into the bushes. I’m going to have to get some Hav-a-heart traps – I thought we were done with mice, but I was delusional. They’re cute little field mice, but the cats make friends with them instead of catching them (taking the “harm none” house policy a bit too far), and I’d rather have them outside rather than inside.

Tuesday was staff day – -the carpets were cleaned, so the library was closed, and we did a staff day out in Newport, Rhode Island. A van was rented, and we travelled in style to Newport, where we had a private tour of The Elms (a delightful house), lunch at The Chandler (which was wonderful), and then a tour of Chateau-Sur-Mer, which I also loved. It was truly a lovely day. We discussed work topics, too, and got revved up about possibilities and things we’d like to do to make the place even better.

Wednesday was rather chaotic at work. It didn’t look as though the carpet cleaners actually cleaned anything, although chairs were put on tables. We had eight crates of books, a long paging list, and two carts full of books in the book drop. Then the new furniture arrived. Only we – the staff of women who are not in their twenties – had to load it off the truck. Because heaven forbid they buy furniture from a company that does anything but curbside delivery. Personally, if I pay thousands of dollars for a bunch of stuff, I do not give that money to a company that dumps things on the curb.

Also, part of the point of the new furniture was that it is light enough for us to rearrange easily for programs. Some of us were even in on the early meetings and discussed, at length, what we needed from the furniture. Which was, of course, disregarded, at least where the new, heavy tables were concerned.

Came home and collapsed on Wednesday night. I’ve been watching CASE HISTORIES, starring Jason Isaacs. Very well done, but that character’s refusal to move on from always falling for broken women gets old after awhile, as, in the first season, the constant replaying of his sister’s death. A bit heavy-handed.

Woke up on Thursday not able to feel on the right side. When I finally could, I was in terrible pain. Got to work, felt worse and worse and worse. Had an off-site meeting in the afternoon, then went to urgent care. I have pinched nerves, the rotator cuff injury has flared up again, there are some strained tendons and pulled muscles. They were more concerned about the pre-heart attack symptoms I exhibited. All things considered, I was in and out of there pretty quickly.

I wasn’t about to take the list of medications they wanted for me, especially not the painkillers or muscle relaxers. I went home and put a lot of turmeric in my chicken dinner – within an hour, I could feel the inflammation going down. I took valerian root last night and knocked myself out, feeling much better when I woke up, and hawthorn this morning. I’m better, but I’ll be in a sling for a few days – of course, it’s my right shoulder and I’m right-handed. Oh, well.

Long day today, and tomorrow is my Saturday “on”. Lots of errands to run, lots of writing to get done. The rental inspection is on Monday afternoon, and I have two board meetings on Tuesday.

Let’s hope next week is calmer.

Devon

Published in: on July 17, 2015 at 8:42 am  Comments Off on Fri. July 17, 2015: Trips to Newport and to Urgent Care  
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Thursday, June 30, 2011


View of the water in Newport
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and beautiful

One of my students, Carol Dunsford, gave me a nice mention in her blog, talking about my “Setting as Character” class and my recommendation of A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Stop by and check out her blog — it’s good stuff (and not just because she mentioned me). Give her some comment love!

I’m late posting this morning, because I left at 6:30 to drive to Chatham for Yoga on the Beach, by the lighthouse. It was the best yoga class I’ve ever taken. The teacher is amazing — she knows how to encourage and challenge without incurring injury. It’s Kripalu style, with which I’m comfortable, and I discovered I’m a lot more able to do many of the poses than I expected. She also had wonderful suggestions for the backbends, which I have the most problems with. There were about 30 people, men and women, from about eight years old to eighty. Great group. It was an hour and fifteen minutes, but felt like fifteen minutes. My thighs currently aren’t speaking to me, but they’ll get over it! 😉

I love practicing in the sand — there’s more give than on a hardwood floor, but there’s also support. They meet every day; I can’t take that four hour chunk of time out of my morning every day, but I hope to go at least twice a week.

Missed the turn back to 28 going home, so drove all the way out to the Eastham rotary and took Rt. 6 coming back.

Came back, watered the garden, showered, ate, and am hitting the page. I want to spend some quality time on SPIRIT REPOSITORY this morning, and then I’ll have to mow the front lawn in the afternoon.

Yesterday, I poulticed the swollen bites, which meant I had to stay quiet for 90 minutes with my legs elevated — yay, reading time! Everything’s much better now.

The annoying neighbor I call Idiot Boy was putting metal through his wood chipper yesterday. When he’s not working my last nerve by walking away and leaving his power tools on (right across from my writing room window) or sitting in his truck idling the engine for 30 minute stretches (and then moaning about the price of gas), he’s putting metal through a wood chipper. Hence, the nickname.

In spite of him, I managed to revise a short story and get it out to an anthology call that unexpectedly landed on my desk.

Bessie the Squirrel is Very Busy burying things in the vegetable bed. I hope she won’t think I’m after her stuff when I go to harvest my vegetables. The strawberries are starting to ripen, so, provided the birds don’t get them first, we may actually have a strawberry harvest soon.

Obviously, no matter how hard I work on “loving kindness” aspects of practice, I’m going to fall short when it comes to insects. I’m an ant murderess, often before breakfast (which, I suppose, is better than being an aunt murderess). If the ants would stay at the bottom of the yard, we could leave each other in peace. However, since they insist on pock-marking and weakening the whole front yard in their tunnel-building towards the house, I do not consider them practicing “loving kindness” towards me, either! 😉

In other words, although there are aspects of Buddhist Practice I try to incorporate in my own life, I’m going to keep killing ants. And mosquitos. Etc. I tried negotiating. I tried using natural pests to eat other pests. The ants are relentless. I have a momentary victory, but I’ve hardly won the war, and next spring, I will have to be much more aggressive far earlier.

On that happy note, I’m going back to the page. 😉

update: The June Wrap-up for Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions is here.

Devon


ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT available from Champagne Books and Amazon Kindle.
Annabel Aidan webpage here.