Monday, August 1, 2011


Both cats

Monday, August 1, 2011
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and humid
Lammas

Lammas, the first harvest and an important day in my personal calendar. I’m looking forward to a good and sacred day.

It was a busy weekend. On Sunday, I had to drive my mom to CT. What should have been a simple, four and a half hour drive took seven hours. due to traffic. We finally pulled off to eat and visit the Book Barn in Niantic, where we found a few things, one of which was an arc of Jane Smiley’s THIRTEEN WAYS TO LOOK AT A NOVEL. Outstanding book on the history of the novel, and on writing and editing. I found some good passages to share with my students.

Arrived in CT, hadn’t even unpacked, and there was a major storm with a power outage. Go figure!

To bed early, up early on Saturday to head back. Smooth sailing until Bourne. From Bourne to the Sagamore Bridge, which is about six miles, it took two hours because of the traffic. I was NOT a happy camper. And there was no reason for it, except people were being stupid. If everyone kept moving and was considerate, we would have all gotten where we needed to go on time. On top of that, some dickheads were using rest areas and lookouts to simply drive through and skip a few cars. You think you’re that important? Bite me, I’m not letting you cut in front of me! Rt. 6 was packed in both directions, so I nipped off as soon as I got over the bridge and took 6A home instead. Much better.

I don’t want to hear any crap from local businesses that they aren’t doing well. When there’s a 22 mile backup in both directions to get over the bridge, people are coming to the Cape. It’s on the vendor to make the sales. The people are definitely here.

Exhausted when I got home. Unpacked, dealt with the cats (who were not amused), opened the windows, and took a nap. Woke up, finished Jim Butcher’s FOOL MOON, which was interesting, and wound up my two classes.

Watched THE TOURIST, which wasn’t quite as bad as the reviews claimed. The Venice setting was worth it. The dialogue could have been better — with those two actors, some witty exchanges would have made it worthwhile, instead of just taking a pause and looking at each other between each sentence. And I figured out the twist about ten minutes into it (although Rufus Sewell’s cameo was fun).

Up early on Sunday, worked in the garden, and then to Osterville for the meditation walk, which was wonderful. Truly a joyful morning. Some of us are going to meet next week to continue.

Got the papers, came home, and relaxed on the deck. It was a gorgeous morning. Lovely to be out. I got the fall catalog for the local place where I interviewed to teach in person and I’m in it, so I guess I passed The Man’s background check. I wish they’d actually confirmed it all. But it’s a month of Wednesday nights in October, which should be fun. I returned books to the library in Sandwich, and stopped by both the Sandwich Herb Shoppe and Lavender Moon for a couple of treats.

Read Jeri Ready-Smith’s WICKED GAME in the afternoon — clever urban fantasy. I liked it a lot.

Did some editing in the evening, watched a little TV. Did an interview for the book. Up early today and decided to go to yoga, although I don’t usually go on Mondays. But what better way to treat myself on this special day than attending a special class?

Then, it’s back to my desk — I have a lot of serious work that needs to get done today. I got behind last week, juggling all the classes. I’ve got an edit to finish, a review to write, lots of work for the Mermaid Ball.

But now — to yoga.

Devon


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Annabel Aidan webpage here.

Monday, January 17, 2011


View over Plymouth Harbor

Monday, January 17, 2011
Waxing Moon
Martin Luther King Day

This is scheduled to post, because I had to get my butt out of bed and get on the road far too early in order to get the car to Plymouth for its spa day. Hopefully it means that, by the time most of you read this, I’ll be back. My car gets a spa day and I get to freeze my ass off in Plymouth before any of the stores open. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Plymouth, but here’s hoping I find a nice, warm coffee joint and can do some writing!

I have a dilemma with the Samantha LIght piece. I originally wanted it to be speculative fiction in either a created world or a parallel world. But I keep making familiar references. I don’t know if that means I should set it in a somewhat futuristic NY/Scotland/Paris or just use those references in the first draft, and then change them substantially into a created/imagined version of similar cities in revisions. Stopping to world build right now will make me lose the dynamic between the characters. But, in the ultimate piece, the setting will be very, very important.

Regarding my protag, Samantha, I’m not having trouble with her. I thought it would be a challenge, because, on the surface, she seems like the kind of woman I can’t stand, and yet, she’s very much her own person without being the sort of cliche we see of this type of woman on tv, in the tabloids, or in fiction. So, I’m having fun with her.

Costume Imp moves today, leaving Queens to go up to Washington Heights. New situation, new roommates, the whole thing. He brought his delightful beasts up on Friday night — yowling all the way. They can give Iris a run for the money when it comes to feline opera performances.

I certainly learned how far some students will go to bend the rules in class. In the historical/western assignment, we had more than one person have a character “tell a story” about an historical time to another character. I had to let it go since I hadn’t expressly forbidden it, but now I know, and I’ve tweaked the exercise for future classes. When I say “set your characters in an historical or western piece”, having them tell each other a story about someone else doesn’t cut it. Even when it’s cleverly done and good as a piece in its own right. But again, I guess I have to expressly forbid just about any place they have wiggle room.


Can you find the hawk hidden in the tree?

The raptor release at Long Pasture Sanctuary was magnificent. First of all, the place is gorgeous, and I can’t wait to spend more time walking around there when the weather is a little warmer. I learned a bit about identifying hawks — I’ll have to practice a lot more before I can actually do it. Two hawks were released — both females. The first one, who recovered from a broken wing, was still a little overweight. She flew to a nearby tree and stayed. Hey, I don’t blame her — she was used to room service! Two other hawks circled near by, wanting to know what was going on. The second hawk, also a female, nearly tore the carrier apart. When the door opened, she backed to the rear, took a few steps, and soared out. She paused on top of a nearby tree to get her bearings, and then she was outta there! Absolutely gorgeous.

Again, the kids who attended the event were bright, engaged, enthusiastic, asked some of the best questions and made some of the best comments. No crying or whining.

I like how the parents here actually engage in conversation with their kids when they’re off doing something, whether it’s at an event or going to the grocery store. They talk to them like actual human beings, unlike in the suburbs of NY, where parents are on the cell phone all the time talking about stupid gossip and just pause long enough to yell at the kid. Here, when parents take their kids grocery shopping, one kid has the list, and another kid scouts the aisle, and they learn how to tell if a piece of fruit or a vegetable is a good choice, etc., etc. Just a much healthier dynamic, and you can see the difference in the kids. They’re not as brittle and wounded and desperate for attention and filled with the sense of entitlement they see from their parents as suburban NY children.

The director took us on a short walk on the sanctuary — he showed us how to recognize rabbit tracks and otter tracks and we saw the pond where the otters like to come and fish. The otters were to smart enough not to let us see them, but it was fun to see where they played and slid.

It was just a great couple of hours, even though I’d lost all feeling in my toes before the end of it! I need to start dressing for these things like I did on the days I spent outside on location for television shows. And, Diane, I couldn’t find my silk thermals. I was not happy. I also need to find my fleece-lined jeans for the next event, and slip some toe warmers into my boots and hand warmers into my gloves. I will also pre-heat by drinking ginger tea before I go (learned from the Great Cape Herbs seminar last week).

I drank quite a bit of ginger tea when I got home, and that helped a lot.

‘Cause there’s no reason to attend these events if I don’t apply what I learn, right? 😉

The mail brought a box of books containing the second volume of Gail Godwin’s journal and Antonia Frasier’s memoir of her life with Harold Pinter, so I was a happy camper. Wrapped myself in a blanket, put on some jazz, and started the Godwin memoir.

I read a lot of her books in the late 80’s, early -mid 90’s and really enjoyed her writing. I haven’t read her lately, and I’m interested, once I unpack them, to re-read some of the books I read and see if my perceptions have changed. The writing on the page remains the same, it is fixed once it’s published, but do I respond to it differently?

I remembered getting impatient with the first volume of journals, but couldn’t remember why. I’m not very far into this volume of journals, and I get impatient again. Yes, it was the early 1960’s, and women had a different frame of reference. But if she spent even an eighth of the energy she wastes on pursuing toxic relationships with men on her writing, she would have gotten a whole lot further a whole lot faster.

The diary can help you see patterns and break them. I look at my diaries from my twenties and self-indulgent thirties and cringe. But writing it all down and looking back also helped me break negative patterns and realize how I was getting in my own way, both personally and professionally. That person helped form who I am now, but I wish she’d gotten her act together earlier. Maybe that’s why I get impatient with Godwin’s journals — I see too much similarity. The qualities I didn’t like in myself at that age, I see in those journals.

When she details observations on the world around her, and how her writing process evolves, it’s very interesting.

Also got a lovely CD mixed by a good friend that is a joy to play. I was just casting around for some new music, and it appeared in the post! Thanks, Colin!

Went to bed pretty early. Got up on Sunday pretty early, having dreamed I was working on location in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and I was as tired as if I’d actually spent the night doing just that. These “busy dreams” take it out of me! 😉

Morning routine, out to get the papers, read the papers. The papers here are better written, have fewer typos, and are more balanced that most other papers I’ve read across the country. They poke at multiple sides of an issue, so you get a broad spectrum of both information and opinion — each of which is clearly defined, so that biased opinion isn’t presented as journalism. It makes it easier to get a more complete picture of an issue to figure out one’s own stand on it. I read more than one paper, and each paper contains multiple points of view on different issues, so one really gets a good cross-section of information.

Decided that Sunday was going to be my day off from writing this week. I kind of feel that all of my life since I’ve moved is a bit of refilling the creative well, which I desperately need. I’m trying a lot of new things and trying to open myself up to a lot of new experiences I didn’t/couldn’t in NY, and seeing what I learn.

Read a lot. Caught up on some emails. Caught up on filing and receipts. Played with the cats.

Got frustrated with the workshop because so many people seem to think that the date an assignment due is a suggestion. Far too many of them post their assignment days late, the day before or the day the next assignment is due. Some people are skipping exercises, which they were told UP FRONT they can’t do. I had to resort to keeping a tracking sheet so I can track, as I jump back and forth between the assignments, who’s keeping up and who isn’t. It’s just so disrespectful. We all have life stuff. If you expect to have a career in anything, you learn how to deal with life and your career. You can’t wait until you’re earning a paycheck to behave that way or you’ll never earn a paycheck.

Enough. I had to get up at five frigging a.m. in the freezing cold to get in the yoga, meditation, and my first 1K of the day before I left for the garage. So I don’t want to hear about anyone’s conflicts when they have a half a week to get a 1300 word assignment done. In four days, I have to do AT LEAST 4000 words. Usually a heck of a lot more. AND run my life.

Devon

Monday, December 6, 2010


Winterberry

Monday, December 6, 2010
Waxing Moon
Uranus DIRECT (as of yesterday)
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy & cold

What a fun weekend. Really busy, but tons of fun.

Found my way to the Ashumet Sanctuary on Saturday morning. It’s lovely. I was a little irritated at some of the people — out of towners — who came up, paid their fee as though they were doing the walk, then greedily stuffed their shopping bags with holly boughs and waddled off without doing the walk. You know what? Go to the holly fairs for that, okay?

The group that stayed for the walk was a nice, mixed group, the guide was terrific and knowlegeable, and it was a lovely way to spend the morning. I had no idea that there were over 150 types of holly (there are 65 at the sanctuary). Turns out the mystery bush in my backyard is one of the varieties of holly! It has berries, so it’s a female bush, which means there must be a male bush somewhere in pollination distance!

It’s a lovely sanctuary, formerly a farm, then a holly farm, now a sanctuary specializing in the the types of holly from the time it was a farm. It also has a lovely kettle pond (no inlet or outlet) with all kinds of fascinating vegetation and wild life.

I learned how to recognize winterberry and inkberry (types of holly). I still have no idea what actual bayberry looks like (not a type of holly).

There’s a lot of lichen around, and I learned that lichen only grows when there’s excellent air quality. Guess that explains why we had none where I lived, especially after the scumbag landlords started using pesticides again and all kinds of toxic materials in the building.

At the end of the walk, we filled our bags with pruned boughs (everyone left was very considerate of each other), chatted, and had a good time.

Turns out the wife of the guide (who’s the director of the Long Pasture sanctuary) is a costume designer who used to work for a well-known rep theatre outside of Boston. So we had a LOT to talk about, and will get together when Costume Imp comes after the New Year. In fact, Costume Imp and I are thinking of having a little Twelfth Night soiree to gather together the various theatre people I’ve met on the Cape who’ve somehow all come into contact with me, but don’t yet know each other. And we might toss some others into the mix.

Anyway, came home, had lunch, we headed out to look for small trees for the front of the house. I want real ones, not artificial. Found a lovely garden center over in Marstons Mills — absolutely top quality merchandise, but more expensive than I felt comfortable with. I fell IN LOVE with a wintergreen bush, but it was way out of my price range right now. But, goodness, did I want it. I can do all kinds of stuff with wintergreen. Again, the quality’s worth it, but I have to watch my budget. There’s still a lawn mower to buy and furniture for the deck. Went to a nearby hardware store to pick up some stuff I forgot, but didn’t like the vibe, so I left. I’ll go back to Osterville on Monday instead. Went to the big Christmas Tree Shop by the Sagamore Bridge to get replacement bulbs — I’ve already knocked over one of the candle lamps. I’d like to blame a cat, but they’re more careful than I am!

Made ratatouille, tuna steaks with lemon caper sauce, and rice for dinner. Just barely had time to put the dishes in the dishwasher, change, and put on a little makeup, and we had to leave for the concert.

It wasn’t very far, about a ten or fifteen minute drive, up at a lovely church in Barnstable. And it was fun to see how people have decorated. One house on 6A looks like a carnival, but most of it is very understated New England — candle lamps in all the windows, lights on outdoor trees, some oversized candy canes up the walk, etc. And I noticed that, this year, many, many of the trees out front are small in proportion to the size of the house, which makes me think I could get away with it out front.

The concert was performed by Thom Dutton, and it was absolutely lovely — readings from A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES alternated with Cornish, Welsh, and Breton carols sung and performed on a variety of harps. I love harp music, so it was such a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening. Just wonderful.

Drove home and discovered one of my rear lamps is half out. Poor little thing. I have to call the VW place in Hyannis when they open this morning to see if they can fit me in some time in the next few days. I planned to go to the DMV tomorrow to get that all sorted, but if my light’s not working, I need to get that fixed first.

Watched some TV, read a bit, went to bed at a reasonable hour. Up early Sunday morning (the cats were playing on the bed and Iris rolled off), yoga, meditation, etc. New moon on Sunday.

Got the Sunday papers. Imagine my surprise when I turned to the local section of the local paper and there was an article about yesterday’s holly walk (great) with a picture of me (not great). First of all, we had no idea the walk was being covered for the paper, and I certainly was not approached to give permission to use my image. I would have said no — I have a “no photos” policy, period. Also, as the male photographer should know, you do not photograph the neck of a woman over 40. Period. It’s rude. Fortunately, unlike Nora Ephron, I do NOT feel bad about my neck, I have no reason to yet (it doesn’t yet give away my age), and, since the photo is of the bottom of my neck as I’m staring at the Tallest Holly, I’m not that easy to identify. Plus, the article (although on the bland side) is good for the organization, and it wasn’t done out of maliciousness. So I’m not going to pitch a massive fit, which will only draw more attention to it and me. I will ignore it. I bet it the perpetrator was the Really Loud Guy I tried to avoid for most of the walk because I didn’t like his vibe. Lots of people had cameras, and some people brought multiple cameras. It never occured to me that they were for a newspaper article, and we are required to be told about this kind of thing.

Finished up the workshop. One of the students asked if I’d teach a workshop on creating believable settings (I’m always going on about “place as an additional character”). I pitched a workshop along those lines to the program director, she accepted it, and we’re sorting out when to schedule it. Not a bad way to land an assignment!

Wrote and designed the Yuletide letter. I never do the annual letter thing, but with the move and everything else, it makes sense this year. I’m still handwriting individual stuff in each card, but I’m also including the letter with the information about the move, the freelancing, the books coming out next year, etc. My mom did two versions of her letter, one in German, and one in English, that I typed up and printed off for her.

The bugaboo was the new return address labels. We’d bought pretty labels with a wintery house design by Geo-somebody on Avery labels. I should be able to plug in my name and address, format the label and be done. Only in order to do that, there’s special software from Geo-bastards and/or Avery — and it’s only for Microsoft, and not for the version that goes with Mac. Bite me, assholes, that needs to be on the packaging. Don’t say I can get everything I need from your effing website when I can’t, especially Geo-bastards, where you can’t get to the stuff to download without going through 47 layers of them trying to sell you crap.

So not having it.

It took me an hour and a half to wiggle fonts, sizes, and spacing, but I finally tricked the effing labels into ding what I want and looking good. That’s an hour and a half of time that could have been spent writing cards.

Not amused.

And, of course, Customer Disservice from both companies was non-existent. Couldn’t get anyone by phone or email or anything.

Geo-bastards — not happy with them, but never heard of them before, so not particularly surprised. I expect more from an Avery product, though.

By this time, we had to stop for lunch, and then get out the door. Drove to Brewster, to the Natural HIstory Museum, who just happened to be having an open house (everyone is so busy here), but we nipped through the festivities to the gift shop and picked up a few outstanding presents. “Outstanding” in the sense we still needed them, and that they are really cool. As usual, the staff went above and beyond to be helpful. Best shop on the Cape, as far as I’m concerned!

On the way back, stopped at Tobey Farm. They were having a live tree sale — I got my two live trees for the front — three times the size I could have gotten at any other center I’ve seen so far for that price. Don’t they look cute, in front of the house?

I still have to decorate them with ribbons and maybe garlands and lights, and put a bow on the wreath on the front door, but the entrance looks more festive now. They’ll look great sitting there until spring (if I can keep them alive), and then I’ll put them out back, probably in bigger pots. They didn’t fit in the hatchback, so I had to put them on the floor in the back of the seats and drive with my knees up to my chin. It was an interesting challenge.

Things slowed down on the way home because Yarmouth was having their Holiday Stroll. And let me tell you, these people don’t lope or stride or walk — they STROLL. They take the “stroll” thing very seriously. Like I said, they’re very busy around here. And they take their Holiday Strolling very seriously. It’s amazing how many people turn out for events here.

Dropped off the trees and the stuff from the Museum, then headed to the 1856 shop — which was Very Busy — to get a few more things, and then to CVS for a couple of other little bits and bobs.

Except for a couple of things still to get for my mom, I am DONE with my holiday shopping. Done, done, done! Most of my shopping was done locally, from local artisans, and is totally unique. I ordered a few things, but the bulk of the stuff is all locally created.

It’s been a very long time since I was done by December 5. It feels good.

I got the pot roast started, and we sat down to write the overseas cards. I got mine finished before dinner, then went to wrap up the deconstruction workshop, then went back to wrap an overseas present that has to go out today, and a Hanukkah present that has to go out to today. And took care of a few things on the computer.

By the end of the day, I was ready to curl up and fall asleep on my lovely new rug in the office!

Today, I’ve got to try to slide the car in for repair, get to the post office to mail the overseas cards and those two gifts, and work on the yard. I’ve also got to finish the assignment for Confidential Job #1, finish and review something for A BIBLIO PARADISE, look over a media kit and come up with questions for another Biblio spot, work on the article due soon, send some questions to my publisher, invoice an editor, work on the guest list for the party, and start writing the domestic cards. The filing is starting to eat my desk, and I’d like to unpack some kitchen boxes, some bedroom boxes, and some office boxes. I need to nip to Osterville Hardware to pick up a few things and . . .well, the list just keeps on going. But I’m behind and I need to catch up.

And, of course, I need to get some writing done.

Last night was St. Nicholas’s Night, so we left our shoes in front of the fire and they were filled with goodies this morning. Minus some the cats pulled out to play with. One of my favorite traditions of the season!

It’s Very Busy. 😉

Devon