September 24, 2010

Violet is ready to go

Friday, September 24, 2010
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Foggy and hot

The trip to Philly yesterday was uneventful, just the way I like it. I read, listened to music, percolated on a couple of projects, one of which I partially outlined once I arrived.

It’s HOT down here. And humid.

I picked up a few things, got settled in, it was a little chaotic at first. The people I’m covering for hadn’t yet left and the cleaning person was there, so things were a bit at sixes and sevens. But it all got sorted out and I had a calm night.

Didn’t sleep well — anxiety dreams about stupid stuff, woken by the alarm at 4:30, drifted back to sleep for more stupid dreams, woken by construction noise at 7:30.

Having a hard time getting going this morning. It’s supposed to be very hot, so I’m doing my errands in the morning and hoping to get back by noon, then settle in for some serious writing time. I’m stuck with Comcast as the ISP for this location, ick, so I will probably spend very little time online,except for my workshop, which is going well. I’ve been on the computer less than 10 minutes, and the Comcast suckage is just appalling.

I want to work on the Willowspring Grove novel, THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and some short scripts. I also have to finish reading a book I’m reviewing for BIBLIO PARADISE. That should keep me busy!

Nothing exciting. I’m using this time to recharge the batteries before the chaos of the coming months.


Published in: on September 24, 2010 at 7:44 am  Comments (5)  
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT (thank goodness)
Cloudy and muggy

One of the great things about Elsa being around for 15 years is that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of happy memories revolving around her, and that is what I will try to focus on.

Every time I go to Philly, I have to leave my beloved Optimum and use Comcast. They just suck so badly. They are slow, they freeze, it takes minutes instead of seconds to load anything. And since it’s someone else’s account, I can’t call customer service and ream someone a new one! 😉

I dread losing Optimum when I relocate. Comcast is the premiere service where I’m going, and I don’t want them. It’s as bad as having my old PC on a bad day. I think I will take the advice and go with Time Warner. Right now, there’s an anti-Time Warner campaign in NY on television, but I’ll give it a shot and, if they’re awful — well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Besides, I have to have an address before I get fresh cable hooked up!

In spite of a jagged start to Saturday, it was a pretty productive day.

My mom said Iris and Violet are not doing well at all. They’re grieving terribly.

And then I hear a Megabus slammed into an overpass in upstate NY on Saturday, killing 4. Yeah, that gives me confidence for my next trip with them!

Saturday was very quiet. I worked all morning, I stopped to go to The Black Sheep, one of my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood for lunch. I had their Eggs Benedict — amazing! So wonderful and so perfect. I am an Eggs Benedict addict — if it’s on the menu, I must have it, and I’m very fussy. The Black Sheep’s version are right up there with The Egg & I’s version, up in Maine, which is still the best I’ve ever had.

Worked more Saturday afternoon and into the evening. Performed a Ceremony for the Dead in commemoration for 9/11l. Went to bed early again.

Must have had busy dreams again, because I work up on Sunday, thinking I was at home. I was completely disoriented.

Got some work done in the morning, read the papers, actually dashed out in the rain to McDonald’s for a sausage-and-egg McMuffin — not bad.

Left in the late morning, hauled everything to 30th Street Station, got on the Megabus. It was packed, which surprised me. I thought it would be fairly empty at that hour.

There was one annoying woman who insisted on screeching into the phone in as loud a voice as she could, on and on and on about family drama. Six people asked her to please keep her voice down. She refused, She said, “But I have to check in.” Finally, I said to her, “Checking in is saying, ‘I’m on the bus, it’s moving.’ It is NOT going on and on about family situations that none of us give a damn about and, frankly, are petty and boring. Your life is just not interesting enough to be forced on us for two hours. Shut up or we take the phone away.”

She shut up.

Because I would have done it — taken the phone and asked the driver to hold it until we arrived in NY. One of the bus rules is to keep phone conversation to a minimum and do it in a way that does not disturb others.

Ride wasn’t bad. We were only about 15 minutes late getting in due to traffic, and due to the bus ahead of us not giving us room to unload, and its passengers being slow and stupid about claiming their luggage.

Went over to 6th Avenue in the rain , caught a cab uptown — a young guy stepped in front of me and tried to take my cab, but the driver shouted, “Get out of my cab, you pig! I stop for the lady!” Gotta love NYC cab drivers.

Got on the train at Grand Central, the ride was uneventful (thank goodness) and I was home a little before 5. The cats were very glad to see me.

Unpacked, repacked some of the stuff I’m taking when I go back to Philly in a week and a half in the bigger suitcase I’m taking for that jaunt, posted my Welcome and first lecture for the workshop, and spent the evening reading magazines, catching up on mail, and comforting Iris and Violet. I don’t think Violet slept the whole time I was gone –she felt she had to be awake and vigilant. She’s exhausted, poor little thing.

In spite of the windows being closed, the apartment is filthy from Friday’s workmen outside, so I have to scrub everything down again.

The orchid, however, sent by my freelance writer friends, is amazing! I will have to post a photo tomorrow. Stunningly beautiful. Thank you so much for your love and support.

Today, I’m teaching the workshop, working on some other writing, getting out some other necessary paperwork, running a few errands (I’m out of wine, and, if I don’t take care of that, I will whine).

The “workmen” are already here making my life hell, so, no doubt, I will be filing more complaints against them.


First Willowspring Grove novel (handwritten, first draft): 49,250 words out of est. 100,000 words (49%).

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Saturday, September 11, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant
9th Anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001

The hardest part of adjusting to life without Elsa is late night/early morning. As soon as the lights went out, she would climb into the bed and snuggle. It was great in the winter — a purry hot water bottle! And she’d wake me up in the mornings (often earlier than I’d like) purring.

The other two cats are definitely grieving. I’m trying to help them as much as I can, but they are desolate. Elsa was the sunshine in all our lives. Wandering Author, you are absolutely right.

I woke up far too early yesterday, tried to keep to the morning routine, yoga, writing, etc. Got everyone fed. Ran a few errands. The self-styled head of the Tenants’ Organization tried to stop and talk to me; I was pleasant and keep going. I have nothing to say to him. He has not been helpful at all. One of the head A-holes was on the property and tried to intimidate me, so I just stood there and stared at him, completely impassive, thinking, “Go ahead. Give me an excuse to bring in the cops.” He backed down.

I blew right through the workmen’s barriers (they were supposed to reopen that particular walkway last week), suitcase and all, on my way to the train. They all just stood there, mouths open, staring at me. No one challenged me, which meant I had no excuse to flip them the bird as I passed! 😉

Then, on the train, someone else from the landlord’s entourage was in my car! I minded my own business, and I could tell he wanted to talk to me, but didn’t dare. Hey, if he grew a pair, he’d have to work for someone else. I wasn’t about to instigate anything,but if they did, I was ready to bring it.

I got my wish and we actually came in on an upper track at Grand Central, much easier for maneuvering my luggage. Walked over to Penn, where I found complete and utter MegaBus chaos. It was well after 11 AM and the 10:45 (not to mention a slew of other busses) hadn’t even arrived, much less departed. There were no designated lines for different busses, and hundreds of people just milled around, not getting information. Megabus was great when they first started, and they’ve seriously gone downhill in the past few months. My trip in 2 weeks is booked on them (non-refundable), but after that, I will try some of the other companies that run this route.

The 10:45 and 11:45 busses arrived around noon. They just crammed people on the first bus. I waited, because hey, two busses were there, we were all going to get on. One woman beside me said, “I’m getting on that 10:45. I’m not waiting until they load the second bus” and elbowed past. Goody for her.

When they opened the second bus, they had it parked so one couldn’t load luggage, so I just hauled my suitcase up and to my regular seat. There turned out to be only about 15 of us on the bus, so it wasn’t a problem. We got on the road around 11:20, just over a half hour late, but still better than those poor 10:45‘ers.

And we passed their broken-down bus on the NJ Turnpike later on. So much for the woman who elbowed her way on the bus!

I just put on my music, read my book — but couldn’t say I absorbed a word — and sat back for the ride. We hit some traffic, but it wasn’t too bad, and I finally got to the apartment around 3. Considering I left at 9:30 in the morning, and Philly is only 2 hours from NY — typical Mercury Retrograde.

There were a bunch of British teens on the bus, and one of them was upset when we entered Philadelphia because he wanted to know where the cows were. For some reason, he thought cows still roamed the streets of Philly, and didn’t expect a big city. He thought Amish country was IN Philadelphia, not a couple of hours away. No, sweetie, Philly is/was Quaker, not Amish, and this isn’t Cornwall, the cows stay in their fields most of the time. (I have photos of driving behind herds of cows in Cornwall). At first I thought he was trying to be funny, but he was serious. And I thought the American education system was broken!

Dumped my stuff, went to pick up coffee and a fruit/oat bar, and got Chinese food. Ate (hey, I had breakfast at 7 in the morning and no lunch), watched some TV, couldn’t concentrate on anything, went to bed early.

Got a phone call from home that a Very Big Box arrived from the Smithsonian with a Very Beautiful Orchid in Elsa’s memory and in her favorite colors. Thank you so much! And I’m keeping the Very Big Box so I can safely move the Very Beautiful Orchid when the time comes.

After a night filled with weird dreams, the bedside alarm went off at 4 AM (not mine). Not happy. Slammed it off, but couldn’t go back to sleep, so got up, did my yoga, did some meditation, wrote a few pages, then fell asleep on the couch, had more weird dreams, and woke up a little after 7, totally disoriented. Ate, read the paper, showered, wrote some more.

The plan today is to work on lectures and scripts. I’m going out to lunch, but that’s it. I need to have a quiet weekend. I’m doing a 9/11 ceremony later today, too, but mainly keeping quiet.

I head back to NY in the morning tomorrow — hopefully it will be an easier trip. Monday starts the first deconstruction workshop, the fantasy romance. I hope you join me. It’ll be a fun week.

Again, thanks for all your love and support during a difficult time.


First Willowspring Grove novel (handwritten first draft): 48,000 words out of est. 100,000 (48%)

Published in: on September 11, 2010 at 8:25 am  Comments (4)  
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Another favorite Elsa photo

Friday, September 10, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Not sure of the weather — this is scheduled to post.

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you for your love and support regarding Elsa’s death, and before that, throughout her illness. It means a lot to me. Hopefully, she’s where she can chase as many butterflies as she wants, and is back with Olivia, Felicia, and Maude. Granted, Olivia is very busy running The Cosmic Cat Roster in the Sky, but Elsa always adored Olivia, and Olivia took very good care of Elsa when she was a kitten, so I’m sure that will be a happy reunion.

Elsa picked me when she was seven weeks old, jumped into my arms from the rescue pen and that was it. We were together all the time for 15 years. She was with me when I wrote, she was with me when I cooked, she was with me when I did things around the house, she was always on the yoga mat. She was a sunny, optimistic personality. She assumed everyone she met was a potential new friend. If something went wrong in the moment, she had full faith it would get better in the next moment.

Iris and Violet are having a tough time with all this. Violet understands exactly what’s going on and she’s both angry and heartbroken. Elsa was her best friend. She blames me for taking Elsa away and not bringing her back. She hasn’t really looked for Elsa — she just stares at me accusingly. She’s been more affectionate this morning, and we kept to our morning routine, but there are times when she catches a scent on a chair Elsa used to sit, or goes to one of Elsa’s usual spots to keep her company,and then remembers. It’s sad. Iris, who didn’t particularly get along with Elsa, started looking for her last night and meowing when she couldn’t find her. She doesn’t really understand what’s going on, just that Elsa isn’t there. Granted, most of the time they just batted each other upside the head, but Iris, in her own way, misses her, too.

Then there are the practicalities: washing the bedding, sterilizing the carrying case and the syringes, packing away the medicine.

When I get back from Philly on Monday, I will do a 7 day Ceremony for the Dead for her, because that is what I do, and the dead are mine. I’ll also honor her on Samhain.

I am so disappointed, disheartened, and angry about my experience at Smith Ridge Veterinary. They came highly recommended, and I went to them because I wanted a second opinion (which I think is important any time there’s a serious diagnosis), and I wanted to integrate alternative medicine with traditional. They’re supposedly the premiere cancer care integrated center for animals in the country. Too bad they’re all about the money. Sure, it’s beautiful, and sure they’re very nice as long as you keep waving a wad of cash at them. I made it very, very clear in the first visit that, if it was cancer, I did not want to set a course of invasive or torturous treatments. I wanted to keep Elsa as happy and comfortable for as long as she could have a good quality of life.

Instead, I paid a lot of money for X-rays, then a lot more money for them to be sent to a private consultant. And I was told there was no tumor. Yet, on Wednesday morning, her poor little face was all swollen and when I took her to the emergency clinic IT WAS BECAUSE THERE WAS A TUMOR. The only option by the time I took her to the emergency clinic on Wednesday was to put her on pain medication that would have had to increase as her suffering did, and that was not the right choice. I was told at Smith Ridge that it wasn’t cancer, but fungal infection that “might” turn into cancer. It was cancer. She was put on a course of treatment of eight doses of medication per day that caused the acid reflux and made her last weeks more uncomfortable than necessary. When I took her back to have the acid reflux handled, I got more medication THAT MADE IT WORSE. When I got frantic, I was told to put her on IV for 32 hours at a ridiculous cost, including a huge fee for a private technician, in spite of the fact that I had told them I didn’t want to use invasive procedures. When I re-iterated that I didn’t want to go that route, and that I had to keep an eye on cost, they lost interest. Sometimes, weeks would go by before anyone could be bothered to answer a question. The vet goes on vacation and there’s no one covering his patients? What the fuck is that? There were far too many nights when I was up all night with her, frantically trying to help her and not getting any response from the vet. I expect my vet to be a partner in my pet’s health and well-being, ESPECIALLY when they’re charging three or four times more than any other vet in the area charges (and vets in Westchester charge up the ying yang anyway). This facility charges for phone calls.

When Felicia was in the final stages of CRF several years ago, that vet called me EVERY DAY to check on her progress. On his own time, and he never charged. He gave me his beeper number, so if something happened, I could get hold of him any time, day or night, and not have to go through the answering service. I never used it, but it was a comfort to have. I wish I knew where he was now. The last time I heard from the Smith Ridge vet was over a month ago. Not acceptable on any level.

Now, I realize that Elsa’s condition was very serious, I didn’t expect miracles, and I was perfectly willing to try unconventional treatments, knowing they might not work. But to just leave me twisting in the wind, not listen when I said, “I think this is mutating every few days, what can we do?” and simply not respond once they found out I did not have unlimited financial resources — in addition to not giving me a correct diagnosis and the information and I needed to make an informed decision AND charge me the fees they charge — unacceptable. I feel they were stringing me along to get as much money out of me as they could for as long as they could, and once they found out I wasn’t an unlimited ATM, they stopped responding.

They are all about the money. The surface of the place looks good, but there’s no heart behind it, only conniving to get as much money out of people as quickly as possible.

The Reiki Master did more to keep Elsa comfortable and happy these last few weeks than Smith Ridge did in the past six months. And then the vet actually emailed me condolences. He didn’t help me when I so desperately needed help and now he wants to know if there’s anything he can do? Mercury’s Retrograde — I’m not going to strike back.

I hope I find a good, reliable, caring vet when I relocate.

And any time a client tries to lowball me on my rate, I will remember the ruthlessness of this vet and hold my ground. Because at least what I do is not life and death.

Wednesday morning didn’t start well anyway — I left Elsa napping, knowing she wasn’t feeling well at all, but hoping an afternoon in the park would help. I drove up county to check out the store I needed to — I’d checked the website, and it stated that the store opened at 10 AM. It was a forty minute drive, no problem. I got up there, and the sign in the door says it opens at “10:20 ish.” I was not happy for several reasons. First of all, put the correct time on your damn website. If you change the hours, change them on the website. Second, don’t give me any of this “ish” crap. Either open or don’t. But be honest about it. By 10:40, still no sign of opening, and the woman who runs the store beside it said, “Oh, she never opens until at least 11. But she thinks putting 10 on the materials sounds better.”

So I left.

A small business person can open whenever he or she wishes, but at least be honest about it, and be open when you say you will.

That business does not get any of my hard-earned money. I’ll spend it at a business that respects its customers.

Yesterday, I had to work away from the building, thank goodness, because the workmen grow daily more hateful. I only barely managed to get the bare bones of the work done, not all I wanted to, but I’m having trouble concentrating. I managed to get four loads of laundry done, so everything’s clean before I head out the door.

I came home to find the cats freaked out and my neighbor even more so. Not only was she struck by workman’s ropes on her way out of the building (no notice they were working over the doorways and no protection), someone in another section came home to find his window open and jewelry, money, and other things gone from the apartment. It happened during the work day, so, gosh, gee, who could it have been?

I scheduled this to post the night before because this morning I have to run around like crazy before leaving for Philly. I will check in from Philly.

Got some writing done Wednesday and more work on the lectures. I hope the workshop is well attended. Although they waited so long to put up the information (even though I sent it to them a month before deadline, and they kept “losing” it), that many of the people who wanted to sign up couldn’t and booked other things.

Mercury Retrograde, Jupiter Retrograde, what do you expect?

I still cry a lot about Elsa, but that’s all part of it. Iris and Violet are very upset, too. Violet cries a lot and Iris hides.

I’ll check in from Philly. Mercury’s retrograde, so I’m just putting on the iPod, pulling out my book and my chocolate bar, and hoping for the best.

Again, thanks for all your support. I will be getting back to each of you individually over the next week or so. I so appreciate your support.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

Yesterday was all about lunch with two writer pals. We went to Monk’s Cafe, which is only two blocks from where I’m staying. Excellent on every level — service, food, drink, price. Great place. It will become one of my regular haunts here in Philly.

Our server is a painter who needs the services of a writer. We all exchanged cards!

We had good conversations on a wide variety of topics, which always makes for an entertaining time. Great, great women. I learn a lot from them. One I hadn’t met before in person — just know her from Twitter. The other is a friend of quite a few years now, Lori from Words on the Page. Good times.

Spent the afternoon working on the material for Confidential Job #1. Plan to finish it and get it out today.

Honored the goddesses of the healing wells last night, on their festival day, with a good long soak!

Watched EUREKA. Love that show. It’s so much fun. James Callis is a brilliant addition to the cast. I realize his character arc can’t be unlimited, but I love the work he’s doing. He got a good bit of attention as Gaius on the re-envisioned BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, but since I’m one of the three people on the planet who didn’t watch it, I don’t know his work from it. I recognized him from his work in FLASH FORWARD — I thought he was one of the more interesting supporting characters brought in. I love watching really good actors like Callis get their teeth into very diverse roles, instead of getting trapped in a “type.”

I had a good laugh on HAVEN — an actor with whom I worked on a show in NY several years ago is on it, and he’s getting away with some wardrobe eccentricities we never allowed. They’re more fitting to this character than the previous one, but still — definitely an actor quirk.

Didn’t sleep well, for some reason. Weird dreams. And I have to stand firm in the contract negotiations. Oh, well, if it means walking away, that’s what I need to do. The piece will sell elsewhere.

The lunch made me realize that I’ve been rather unmotivated these past few months. I’ve used Elsa’s illness and the scumbag landlords as excuses, but I’ve really got to get off my duff and do some more aggressive marketing.

It’s supposed to be 110 with heat index today. I don’t plan on going out. I’m going to stay in the air conditioned apartment (praying the power holds), finish the assignment for Confidential Job #1, and write. I’ve certainly got plenty of projects that need attention.

I wrote a few pages of the first book in the new series last week, to get a feel for it, and will write a little more, and then go back to finishing the outline. I’m outlining the major character arcs for the overall series first, and then breaking things down into individual books, a new way of working for me. But this series wants to be done that way, so I’m going to trust the characters, and then figure out the structure.

I head back to NY tomorrow night. I can’t believe how fast this week flew past!

Stay cool, stay hydrated.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and hot
Festival of Salacia and Sulis

Yesterday was fun. Different than I expected, but fun. I was out of the apartment early, walked east on Chestnut Street to the historic district. Never made it to Ben Franklin’s grave, although it turns out I was always within a block of it. There are thousands of boy scouts on their way to a jamboree — thousands of ‘em, all over the place. I spent most of the day trying to dodge the large groups. A store proprietor said they’d be at mostly family-friendly places; I hoped to find a tavern to hide in.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re very nice and reasonably well-behaved, in spite of being older teenaged boys. But they ARE teen-aged boys, and there are thousands of them, and there’s only so much of that I can take.

Paid my respects to Betsy Ross, photographed the fountain in her courtyard with the cats. Swung by the Old Quaker Meeting House, and the store at the Visitor’s Center. I wanted to buy some silly gifts, but the store was overpriced, and there wasn’t anything appropriate. And why do the stores in the Bourne Center sell replicas of the Statue of Liberty and postcards of NYC? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Carpenter’s Hall (good bookshop there), swung back around on 2nd St. to the Clay Center. Although it states on the website that the gallery opens at 10, and I was there after 10:30, it was locked and dark. Typical Philadelphia.

Ducked down Elfreth’s Alley, full of tiny little row houses and window boxes, and pre-revolutionary lane that still has people living there. Poor things, the tourists must drive them nuts. And there’s Blanden’s something or other, another little alley leading of Elfreth’s Alley, which would be lovely and peaceful is so many people weren’t crawling around taking photos! I was one of them, but I tried to do it quietly! 😉

Took some lovely photos in the cemetery at Christ’s Church, dodged four troops of boy scouts (for a minute, I thought I’d have to hop over the wall, which, in a dress, would have been an adventure). Walked across to the Society Hill neighborhood, full of restored (expensive) row houses.

There’s an oddly designed red brick building, heading south, called the Center for Living History that “closed permanently” on June 18. That’s a shame. And I wonder what they’ll do with the monstrosity.

The plan was to eat at a pub I’d read about called The Artful Dodger that looked interesting. I thought I’d check it out and write a short article about it. There are plenty of publications who take that type of stuff. I got there about a half hour before they were scheduled to open. I was hot and tired, in spite of carrying water. I wandered around the neighborhood, which is lovely, and spent a good bit of time in the churchyard next to St. Peter’s. I took some interesting photographs — I like old graveyards, they have stories, and they tell them if you listen quietly enough. Also met a woman walking two Wheaton terriers who told me about some interesting graves in the graveyard next door, at cemetery beside Old Pine St. Church, and about some lovely little gardens tucked away between Society Hill and where I’m staying off Rittenhouse Square.

By the time we were done, it was a few minutes after noon. I walked back to the pub, and it was even a few more minutes after noon. Not only was it not yet open, the staff saw me waiting and turned their backs. Not a wave or holding up a hand to indicate five more minutes. Dismissal.

So I left. Not spending my money there.

The service in Philadelphia restaurants sucks more often than it doesn’t anyway, which is a shame, because Philadelphia has a lot of outstanding restaurants. It sucks more than in most other towns I’ve travelled to throughout the world. But the servers seem to think they’re doing you a favor by letting you come in and sit down and pay them to maybe come by your table if they feel like it and can get off their smart phones or be bothered to stop conversing with their colleagues. 98% of the wait staff in Philly couldn’t last a single shift in NY.

Exceptions that I’ve discovered (and to which I keep returning) are Smith’s, on S. 19th St., a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square, and The Black Sheep, on S. 17th St. Hopefully, the place we’re going for lunch to today will also fall into that category.

Walked west on Pine Street, which was lovely. Row houses, Antiques Row (a series of antique stores — if I’d been in shopping mode, I’d have stopped at a few, but I wasn’t). I hoped to find a little cafe to stop and have a bite, but didn’t see anything that particularly struck me.

So I wound up at The Black Sheep, which is close to where I’m staying. I already knew they had great burgers and a nice selection of beers. I sat in the bar. The only person working was the bartender, who was also serving, but she was great. Nice change. I had the fish tacos — a huge platter with delightful condiments including one of the best cilantro sauces I’ve ever had. And a couple of pints of Flying Fish beer, which was very good. All reasonably priced, served promptly and politely, in a good atmosphere. Because The Black Sheep is so close to where I stay, I tend to overlook it, but I won’t anymore.

After lunch, I returned to the apartment and collapsed in the air conditioning. I was pretty wiped out. Didn’t do much of anything for the rest of the day except some percolating and email. I overheated during the day, in spite of drinking a lot of water, so it took me awhile to cool down.

Contract negotiations are not going well. I hope I don’t have to walk away and start the submission process all over again on this project, but if it comes to that, I will. I like this company, but they’re not taking one of the non-negotiables for me seriously and they think I’ll blink. They are sadly mistaken.

I will tell them so politely and firmly, and we’ll see where that leaves us.

Back to the page for awhile this morning, and then it’s off to lunch with some writer pals at a Belgian restaurant only about two blocks away whose menu looks fantastic. Let’s hope the service is up to par.

Boy, am I spoiled with my Optimum internet service at home. Comcast sucks — it’s hard to get anything done efficiently. Pages take about 3-1/2 minutes to load — when they can be bothered to load at all. I hope they are not my only option when I relocate.

Today is the festival of the goddesses of mineral springs, salt water, and healing waters. I will honor them tonight by a good soak in the tub with salts!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and hot

I found out Reading Terminal Market opened earlier than I thought, so I got out the door early yesterday morning. Unfortunately, I hadn’t gotten two blocks (just hit Walnut St.) when my shoe broke and I had to turn back. Better two blocks than twelve, right?

I can fix it when I’m home with my wardrobe kit, but not here. Changed shoes, tried again. Made it this time, although I had to climb over a film crew. Nice to see so much shooting in Philly in the past year or so. Was tempted to swing by the wardrobe truck to borrow some barge to fix the shoe.

Market was fine. Didn’t buy much — herbs, spices, coffees, some pastry. Headed back and hit CVS for a few things missing from the premises, and to get gel insoles for my Timberland sneakers. Bless ‘em, they’re four years old now and I wear them constantly. They’re still great, but the inner supports have worn down.

Back in for the day a little after 10, because, with the heat index, it was around 97 and felt every bit of it!

Worked on the material for Confidential Job #1. The undercurrent of sexism in it is pissing me off, and will go in my write up.

Skimmed through a book on the premises — one of those enlightenment tomes Oprah stumped for a few years back. Of course, it’s easy to talk about enlightenment when you’re a billionaire. Anyway, I thought the book was crap. Very presentational, found a factual error on p. 4, and not a bit of practical application. Glad I didn’t pay for it — I’d have asked for my money back!

Rested quite a bit; trying to get my energy back after months of taking care of Elsa round the clock. She seems to be responding well to the new medicine (it finally arrived on Monday night). I can’t believe how much I miss her, but I’m glad she’s doing well at home.

Little bit of writing done, nothing major. Playing with a few different things. Got out some article pitches, did some negotiations for more workshops. Can’t get into the Savvy Authors site, which is going to be an issue when I’m teaching the deconstruction seminars in fall. Hopefully, we can get it sorted. It’s been re-set twice, now, by the admin, and the site still tells me I don’t exist, whether I use Safari or Firefox.

Of course, since I said I didn’t want to work on POWER OF WORDS all week, the ideas are flowing fast and furiously. Go figure!

I’m out of the house early today. The cleaner is coming this morning, so I’m off to the Clay Center here in Philly, then to the cemetery where Ben Franklin is buried (it’s only open in summer; last time I was here in the summer it was closed for renovation or something weird), and I have to pick up some info at the Visitor Center near the Liberty Bell.

By then, I’ll be ready for a nice cold beer at a pub before heading back. Hopefully, I can finish off Confidential Job #1 this afternoon and get a few exercises done on the booklet.

It’s another hot one today. Now they’re saying 97 tomorrow and over 100 for Saturday. ick. Pray the power grid holds.


Published in: on July 22, 2010 at 7:15 am  Comments (4)  
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Greetings from Philadelphia! Yes, I’m here. It’s hot and expected to get all the way up to 99 by Saturday. Ick.

Trip down was fine. Our Megabus left a few minutes late because the previous bus, headed to DC, was filled with morons who couldn’t seem to get on the bus. Honestly, the guy in charge was far too nice. He should have left them to wait for the next one, after the THIRD time he told them they had to board so the bus could leave.

Our bus boarded in about five minutes, and it was all good. At first, I had two seats to myself, but once we cleared the tunnel and were in NJ, a young guy asked if he could join me; his seatmate was freaking him out, in addition to reading what he worked on and commenting on it. What’s one of the universe’s little jokes is that, as people were boarding (I was third in line and had my pick of seats), this guy was the ONE person I thought, “Oh, if I have to have someone next to me, he’s the one I can deal with.”

We had a perfectly companionable time, chatting a little, but mostly he was working on his Macbook, and I was reading the material for Confidential Job #1. They paid me earlier than expected, so they have a temporary reprieve! 😉

Headed to the apartment in Philly. Dropped my stuff off. Grabbed my shopping bags. Headed nearly all the back back to he train station to Trader Joe’s. Did some grocery shopping. Stopped at the wine store. Stopped at Metropolitan Bakery. My usual settling-in routine. It rained a bit on my travels, but nothing major.

However, I got back to discover the corkscrew was gone. So, I headed across the street to the kitchen store to buy wine opener (the kind that looks like it has little arms that raise and you lower them and pop out the cork; it’s the only one I can use), and a wooden spoon. I stay at so many places, and I’m sick of having to hunt down what I need or do without; I’m putting together a “site kit” with a corkscrew, a set of wooden or bamboo spoons, a bath plug, etc. I already carry my French press along with me most of the time. It’s just easier to have a set of stuff that can get tossed into my bag when I travel, and then I don’t have to worry.

Had a late lunch; read and relaxed in the afternoon; got settled. Made a chicken biriyani for dinner. Watched a little TV, but went to bed early.

I hear Elsa is doing well, which is a relief. But I can’t believe how much I miss her! I miss the twins, too, but especially Elsa.

I’m headed to Reading Terminal Market this morning. It’s supposed to be 90 by noon and 94 by 3 PM, so I want to be back here and tucked away by noon. I hope to write this afternoon — I want to work on the new booklet and do some more planning on the new series.

I’m specifically not working on POWER OF WORDS this week, because I want it to percolate.

According to the astrologer, Saturn leaves Pisces today — thank goodness! I could use the break.

I’m forced to use Comcast while I’m here and it’s so damn slow! It’s like having dial-up again. Urgh.


Published in: on July 21, 2010 at 6:55 am  Comments (2)  
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and hot

I seem to have a perpetual heat exhaustion headache. Ick.

Anyway, Saturday was good. I got some stuff done in the morning, cooled down the bedroom with the air conditioning for the cats, and headed off to open studio hours in the afternoon.

I made six little objects: three pinch pots, one raised round disk on square feet that I think will be a candle holder (for pillars), a slab-rolled cut-out leaf design that’s too open to be a bowl, so I think it will hold one of my crystal balls, and a small tray.

I’d stopped at Michael’s to buy a package of loose leaves (like autumn leaves, not tea leaves), because I wanted to try the slab leaf projects a teacher showed us on Wednesday. But these leaves didn’t have deep enough ribs, so, when I tried to roll them onto the slab (using a rolling pin — it’s amazing how useful kitchen tools are in ceramics) it didn’t make a deep enough design. The larger leaves have the clearly defined ribs and work better. So, instead, I used the leaf as a pattern to trace into the slab/tray bottom with my needle tool, and then I drew in the leaves. I rolled, cut, measured, and attached the sides of the tray, putting in extra clay for shrinkage, and hoping it won’t separate once it dries.

There were three other people working in open studio, all on the wheel. We wound up putting out our pieces to dry in the parking lot in the sun (talk about old style) because it was more efficient than just sitting it in front of the fan.

I was there for the whole open studio time — and STILL have clay left over! 😉

But I had a blast. I love, love, love handbuilding and slab work. If there’s a class for that which is for a beginner in the fall, that’s what I want to take. I feel like I should tackle the stuff I’m not good at, but I want it to stay fun. A mixed class would probably be best, but if there’s just a handbuilding class that’s not too advanced, I have a feeling I’ll take that instead. I love rolling the clay (between two cloths) through the slab roller. I love checking it and using the needle tool to remove air bubbles, then sliding it through again a few times. I love figuring out how to cut and shape and playing with tools and texture. It made me happy.

One of the other women there has been taking class for two years. She said that, for the first eighteen months, she couldn’t get the feel of the wheel at all. Then, suddenly, she had a breakthrough, and now she’s obsessed.

Hopefully, I’ll hit a point where I can do wheel as well, but right now, it just discourages and intimidates me. Maybe, once I’ve moved, I’ll take a few private lessons (if I can find a really good teacher), who can baby-step me through both the theoretical and the experiential. Because so much of wheel work is understanding the feel of the clay.

My morning glory somehow managed to grow through the screen and is trailing down the side of the building. Oops!

I go this from Brandy, who got this from Dru . . .

Five things always in my purse: lipstick, pens, small screwdriver for my glasses, a couple of crystals, a Susan B. Anthony dollar (for luck, not to spend)

Five things always in my wallet: driver’s license, bank card, store discount cards (actually, at this point, only Costco, Borders, and Staples Rewards — all the rest are in their own wallet), too many receipts, National Wildlife Federation card.

Five things always in my refrigerator: milk, wine, eggs, cranberry juice, lemons and limes.

Five things always in my closet: Well, my closet is kind of like the one in THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE — it looks small, but I keep putting things into it and it expands to meet need. When I empty it to move, I may find Jimmy Hoffa and a trail to another country in there. At this point, stuff in there includes clothes, my childhood sled, offseason shoes (on-season are on a shoe rack in the bedroom or in the front hall for easy access), boxes of fabric, childhood ballet costumes.

Five things always on my desk: Printer (computer is a laptop, so it travels), gargoyle, crystals, Ganesh statue, too many projects (not that I’m complaining — it means the work is going well).

Sunday was pretty quiet. I got some work done in the morning. I packed up the baking materials and went to my friend’s place, where I baked brownies all afternoon and worked on notes for a new series while the brownies were in the oven and cooling. It was a nice, quiet workspace, both the oven and the airconditioning worked, and I got a lot done.

Quiet night reading and playing with the cats. In the morning, Elsa scooped a blueberry right out of my bowl and started playing with it on the floor, so at least she felt well enough to play.

Hopefully, her medicine arrives today, so we can start it before I leave. I’ve got to do a lot of last minute running around — a bit of bill paying, getting my tickets and money sorted, finish packing, return my friend’s key.

I should have internet in Philly (famous last words), and, for some reason, I’ve decided I want tea towels with Ben Franklin and/or the Liberty Bell on them. Yeah, I don’t get it, either. I’m building up my stock of tea towels/kitchen towels, and am on a novelty tea towel kick.

I’m trying to limit the projects I’m taking, because it will be a busy week: the work for Confidential Job #1, notebooks for two projects, the new booklet, the books on which I’m lecturing, and a couple of other books just to read for fun. That, along with what I’m doing while down there,should give me a productive week.

I do plan to blog all week, internet- permitting, and I hope to get the last bit of the potential contract sorted out, so that I’ll have good news by next week. Here’s hoping.

In the 90’s+ all week in New York, which means it will be even hotter in Philly. I have to mentally gear myself up for a lot of running around hauling luggage in hot weather tomorrow.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

We’re supposed to break 100 degrees again today. Ick.

Off to pottery yesterday, for my last regular class. Finally, I found something I”m good at — mask-making. We did slab masks (which means we created a slab on the roller, then shaped it on a newspaper form and decorated it). I’m thrilled with mine.

I have some experience with mask-making, both for ritual purposes and for theatre productions, although I’ve never made one in clay before.

We also trimmed the pots we threw on the wheel. So, I was back to going clockwise, which feels more natural to me, but other than that, it was a disaster. Now, it’s just getting to the point where I’m afraid of the wheel, which is not a good thing. My pot is a disaster, but I’m firing it and glazing it anyway, because when I master my fear of the wheel (like, when I’m 105), I can see how far I’ve come.

Glazed my little tiny pressed mold pot, which looks cute, and glazed my enormous pressed bottle vase. I love the glaze room, and I’ve gone from being fascinated by glazes to being obsessed with them.

Several people praised the pressed bottle vase, which surprised me. I look at it and see the flaws, but they think it’s really cool, the way I played with texture. I thank them for their support of a newbie.

When I get back from Philly, there are a few glazing days, so, provided this work’s been bisque-fired (the first firing), I’ll be able to glaze it and send it on for the second firing.

I received an unexpected check which, I think, will pay for fall’s pottery class.

While I was at class, my mom dealt with the new exterminator now handling the building. He’s very nice and very thorough — what a great change from the guys who wandered in, squirted the hose a few times at baseboards(and then we had to wash away the run-off before the cats stepped in it), and wandered out. Everything he uses is pet-safe (Elsa, being Elsa, followed him around to make sure, and the twins peered out from under a table; Elsa must always supervise and remind anyone who enters that this is a cat-centric household, and she expects proper greetings and pettings) and his equipment is very precise, so there’s no drippage or leakage or it getting onto anything but what he focuses on. With all the construction and other chaos going on, we needed a good exterminator around here, not to mention so many people moving in and out. It’s a fact of living around New York — you have to battle vermin on every level.

Unfortunately, because he was so thorough, it means I can’t use the gas oven for two weeks.

And while that was happening, I’d merrily offered to bake for the final class party that I’ll miss next week, and leave it on Monday at the clay center before I leave for Philly on Tuesday.

So, I called up a friend of mine, who will be away this weekend (she goes to an old family retreat every weekend all summer), and asked if I could borrow her oven. She was just talking to her co-workers about our last adventure when I called, thought the whole thing was funny, and we’re sorting out the key exchange later today.

I received a very exciting offer, but there are a few contract details to sort out, and the person I’m supposed to deal with is on vacation — but the contract is supposed to be signed “immediately” — so I went to the person who sent me the offer and asked who I should deal with in the interim. Someone’s got to be covering, or, if not, it won’t be finalized until that person gets back. Not signing something just because the other side is in a rush. Anyway, IF we get these two contract points sorted out, it will be exciting news and I’ll be able to share it.

Also received my next assignment from Confidential Job #1, which looks pretty darned interesting. Sometimes, I think my editor over there reads my blog!

Elsa’s new medicine did not arrive yesterday — although it was sent out and to the correct address. Why am I not surprised? And, of course, the vet still hasn’t made his promised phone call. She actually was a little better, although she’s kind of droopy. I want to call the acupuncturist/Reiki master recommended by the woman in my pottery class when I get back from Philly and see if I can set up an appointment. Elsa’s moving sometimes as though she’s uncomfortable (although she can still outjump Iris, who never bothers to do the math before she does a jump, but just flings herself on and off things and assumes inanimate objects will move to accommodate her). I think a little acupuncture or some Reiki would do her good. I know I sure as heck could use some Reiki. So, I’ll meet with these people and see if we connect, and then maybe they can at least help Elsa stay more comfortable. Supposedly, they do acupuncture at my vet’s, and I’ve asked for it several times, and the request has been ignored. I’d rather go to an independent professional anyway. My acupuncturist was recommended by both a jockey friend and a trainer’s wife, and she’s been a life saver — certainly a career-saver. I would have had to quit Broadway much sooner because of disability had I not started seeing her.

Anyway, I’ve got some running around to do today, some correspondence, hopefully get some writing in. I got some ideas for a couple of little projects to use up what’s left of my clay, so I might head back to the studio for open studio hours this afternoon and finish up for a couple of hours. Got a couple of things sorted out for the Philly trip — looks like I’ll be dealing with another set of scumbag real estate management company when I hit Philly, who are creating unnecessary problems at the site. I’m used to real estate scumbags by this point, and if they get physical, I’ll file a police report. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. I’m starting to think that 98% of the people who work in real estate make pond scum look like a higher life form.

I am certainly looking forward to things lightening up after July 21. Saturn can’t leave the House of Pisces fast enough for me. Enough life lessons already! 😉

I’ve got to pack for Philly and decide which projects to take with me. I’m doing a lot of running around, so I don’t want to take too many projects and then not get around to doing them. I’m definitely taking both books on which I’m lecturing, to finish the notes and lectures. If the contract is finalized before I leave, I’ll be outlining another project along the same lines (per the contract); if it’s not finalized, I’ll wait. I’ve got the booklet to work on and some short stories. I’ll take the assignment from Confidential Job #1, which I don’t think I can finish before I leave. And, oh, yeah, I kind of have to do the work I’m paid to do while I’m there, right? 🙂 I’ve also got to write up Elsa’s medication schedule and feeding schedule so my mom can take care of it while I’m gone, and cook ahead so my mom doesn’t have to cook while I’m gone.

Yeah, it’ll be a busy weekend. And a hot one. I will probably run the air conditioner a lot. Yesterday, even in air conditioning, I just couldn’t cool down.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Getting here as an adventure yesterday. I was up and out the door for my run, and back by the time I usually leave; got everything gathered, got the train to the city, picked up water, walked over to Penn Station from Grand Central.

That’s where it got sticky. Because of an accident in NJ, the turnpike was closed, and the busses couldn’t get in. Three of the DC busses and one Boston bus that were supposed to leave well before ours still hadn’t loaded. And they had no idea when any of it would clear up.

Switching bus services wouldn’t work — it wasn’t the bus line, but the highway that was the problem. I figured, if I waited too long, I’d pop into Penn and see if I could get a seat on an Amtrak (although that’s a full $80 more than the bus).

They got two DC & the Boston bus off and started lining them up for the next Boston. Suddenly, our Philly bus turned up, they shoved us all on it, and we took off. It was only about 35 minutes late. Our driver said, “I don’t know when the hell we’ll get there, but we gonna get there, ‘cause I am the BEST.” And he was.

The trip itself was fine. I had the iPod on, and every song in the shuffle was perfect. I’m reading an anthology of fantasy romance called THE QUEEN IN WINTER with novellas by Claire Delacroix, Lynn Kurland, Sharon Shinn, and Sharah Monette. I read all of Kurland’s “A Whisper of Spring”, which was lovely, and started Shinn’s “When Winter Comes” which I really like, too. When I picked it up, I didn’t realize Shinn was included. I’m glad, because she’s one of my favorites.

Philly was so hot and sunny I thought I would pass out. I found out later it hit 91. Considering I had to wear fleece two days ago when I went on my run, it was too rapid a change.

Went to where I’m staying/working, dumped the luggage, changed out of travel clothes into LL Bean cottons, and headed up to Trader Joe’s (which is almost all the way back to 30th St. station). Picked up what I needed, went to the liquor store, got what I needed there, went to Metropolitan Bakery to get my coffee and something for breakfast today — all they had that was breakfasty was a fruit and oat bar, which didn’t thrill me, but I got it anyway. However, when I ate it this morning, it was WONDERFUL. Lovely surprise.

The rest of the day, I lay around reading cookbooks and magazines. I was done. I had lobster ravioli in Alfredo sauce for dinner. Didn’t watch TV. Instead, I did a tough yoga routine to get out the kinks the travel-with-luggage put in, a good meditation, and some reading. I went to bed very early.

Slept well, up early, yoga, did my work here. It’s supposed to be cooler here today and then rain tonight, but it looks like it’ll rain before then. Good thing I travel with an umbrella!

The plan is to go to Reading Terminal Market today. Although I’m worried it’ll be high-end touristy, there are some things I want to see, like the second-hand bookstore, the cookbookstore, and some of the food stalls. If it’s too touristy, I’ll leave.

My arm is healing well. I don’t even think there will be much of a scar. I’m glad, because I’ve been working on this poultice for several years now, and I’ve finally hit the balance of materials that my body responds well to. It disinfects and draws out contaminants while starting the healing process. I’ve noticed that, when I use traditional/synthetic medicines, I feel worse for the first 48 hours, it looks gross, and then the surface seems to knit while underneath is still a mess, and often it has to be re-opened and the process started again. So, while it seems to heal quickly, there are frequent set backs. When I use holistic medicine, there’s relief within the first hour, and, although the overall healing is visually slower, it’s more thorough and there are fewer setbacks. Normally, in a wound like this, one treatment would be applied to disinfect and decontaminate, while then another put on to start the healing. I wanted to see if I could put both into one concoction — I’ve been working on this for about five years now — and this seems to be getting there. Patience is not one of my virtues, but it’s paying off here.

When I get back, I’ll do some more work, and maybe get some writing done. I nearly left the computer at home, but realized all my “in process” projects are on the computer, not in longhand (yes, I backed everything up on Time Machine before I left).

The internet connection here is Comcast, which. compared to my Optimum, is pathetically slow and unreliable. Now I know which company NOT to use when I move!

Off to the market!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and warm

You so did not want to be on my bad side yesterday. Let’s just say that some serious ass=kicking was in order, and that’s what I did. When I pay someone to do a job and they don’t do it, and then I step in and negotiate better than the paid negotiator — there are SERIOUS consequences. And when you’re paid to advocate for my 86-year-old mother and you try to take advantage of her — they’ll be scraping you off the sidewalk for weeks. And that’s all I’m at liberty to say about it.

Oh, and I had three loads of laundry done before 10 AM, which was no mean feat, either.

So the upfronts are out. HUMAN TARGET is in Friday night exile, but it’s on the sked (better than being on the skids). Hey, too many people out on a Friday; now that I don’t have to work a Broadway show, Friday’s become my night to stay in so it works perfectly for me, but we’ll see how it affects the ratings. None of the new stuff particularly excites me — I’ll watch what’s convenient and take it from there. I am, however, glad to see so many scripted shows picked up. Perhaps the age of the reality celebutard is drawing to a close and we’re going to stop paying people to be their worst selves. Let’s get back to well-written, thoughtful, provocative material and tell the important, universal truths within the context of a good story.

Ran some errands, picked up some books, did some writing, mostly on the screenplay. Packed for the Philly gig. Am waiting to hear back from a business email so I can make a decision that will affect other decisions and schedules. Clock ticking people, it’s 48 hours by the end of the day and no response means buh-bye. If you call yourself a business and I email you with a business question, I expect an answer in 48 hours or less. That’s standard business email protocol. If you don’t answer within 48 hours, I know you’re not a pro and I take my business elsewhere. It’s especially important for freelancers and small business owners to follow this protocol. If you “don’t have time” to answer your email, chances are you’re not going to be able to deliver a high standard of work. The email is the first test.

Which is why I get so upset when 1and1 screws with my email and suddenly stuff turns up that was sent days or weeks ago. It makes me look unprofessional.

I have some business to conduct this morning — potentially more ass-kicking. Then I have to go grocery shopping.

This next section of the screenplay is going to be overly long in the current draft. I’ve got a lot of story to tell, and I’m discovering it as I tell it. In subsequent drafts, I figure I’ll cut it by about 70%, but I have to get it all down on paper first before I can start cutting and rearranging, as I did with earlier sections. I need to tell the story in too much detail so I can pick and choose the most relevant, specific, and succinct for the final version.

Got a couple of cookbooks yesterday and got inspired. Also picked up Judith Martin’s NO VULGAR HOTEL, a book about Venice. I’m looking forward to it.

Elsa seems to be doing better. I’m going to email the vet in a day or two with a progress report. For the next month or so, we’re going to keep on this course of treatment, which should get rid of the infection and inflammation, and rebuild her immune system.


Published in: on May 18, 2010 at 6:29 am  Comments (5)  
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Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde

After quite a bit of chaos and thissing and thatting, I am here in Philly. And, even more importantly for conference purposes, online.

I was out the door in sleet early on Thursday. Had to stand on the train, which wasn’t my favorite way to travel, but, really, it wasn’t so crowded it got disgusting, so I was fine. By the time I hit Manhattan, it was snowing, but lightly, so I figured what the hey, and started walking from Grand Central to Penn. Yes, with the luggage. Once a drop of water falls from the sky, it’s impossible to catch a cab. They all put on their ‘off duty’ signs and dash away.

The snow escalated steadily as I walked, and by the time I hit Penn, it was falling quickly in big, thick flakes. But the busses were still running, and Megabus even brought in the busses earlier than usual to load us up, so we didn’t have to stand out in the muck. I met a lovely woman who travelled all the way from Toronto, starting the previous day, headed for Philadelphia because she loves the city so much. She’s taken 18 trips down there in the past year.

On the bus, iPod on, book out. Once we got into Weehawken, it was seriously snowing, and it was so bad around Newark, I worried we’d have to turn back. But we pushed on through. The snow-drenched trees were heartbreakingly beautiful.

The book I’m reading is fascinating: Jedidiah Berry’s THE MANUAL OF DETECTION. I’m not sure if it qualifies as surrealism or magical realism, but it’s quite wonderful. Just a delightful book all the way around.

Arrived in Philly only a little late, in much lighter snow than we’d driven through. We make the first stop, opposite the Liberty Bell — and the door gets stuck in the “open” position. Well, at least we were in Philly and not stuck on the Jersey turnpike, right? Eventually, they got the door shut and got us to our stop at 30th St. station. I trundled my luggage down JFK Blvd, to Site A — not where I’m supposed to stay for the duration, but, because the people for whom I’m covering couldn’t leave due to weather, that’s where I had to stay for the moment. Dropped off the suitcase, got the keys, took my computer bag, etc., and headed for the other site on 17th St, where I should be based for the bulk of the job. Dropped off the computer bag, did a few things that were site-specific, then headed out.

Had lunch at Elvez, on 13th and Sansome (remember that place, Lori?), because I’ve been thinking about their mahi-mahi tacos for about three months. They did not disappoint. Passed Robin’s Bookstore — looks like they’ve lost the two-story enormous space they used to have and are now just upstairs, making room for a wine/pizza bar and an upscale florist. Ick. If I’m here through the weekend, I will go back and spend some money there.

Hit another bookstore, which had put aside for me Louise Erdich’s SHADOW TAG and Phyllis Theoroux’s THE JOURNAL KEEPER.

Headed back to 17th St, to get some work done, but didn’t manage to get online.

Met friends for a tapas delight dinner at Continental on 18th & Chestnut. The food’s very good, the atmosphere a little loud and echoey, the service okay but not brilliant. There was a bit of attitude at first from the hostess (I was so cordial she backed down — when I start getting “cordial” as opposed to “polite” or “friendly”, watch out, because it means I’m preparing to rip your lungs out). Obviously, the message came across, because there was a serious attitude adjustment. Our actual server was lovely, and the manager sorted things out. Other than bringing out the string fries AFTER we finished the meal instead of WITH the meal, it was fine. The BBQ Chicken Quesidilla is awesome. We ordered seconds.

Back to JFK Blvd., cup of tea, Olympics on, tried to get online — no luck. Slight panic attack, but it’s not a crisis until today.

Worried because, when I called home, the brook was within 6 inches of overflowing. Made arrangements to get the car to safety; made arrangements with friends to check on my mom and the cats if it actually flooded. Stressful to be away at such a time, but at least everyone who usually depends on me during flood times had resources and a Plan B. Instead of “what do we do?”, it’s a case of “If this happens, do X; if that happens, do Y” and so forth. It didn’t flood last night, thank goodness, but I was a bit of a wreck.

Started reading THE JOURNAL KEEPER instead. If you write or paint or have any sort of creative life and try to balance it with the rest of your life, you MUST read this book. If I tried to pull quotes for you, well, there are wonderful quotes on every page.

My favorite is “The soul cannot do its work when we are in constant motion.” (p. 41).

Fell asleep early, exhausted. Woke up early, to see much more snow falling today than we had yesterday. Meanwhile, rain turned to snow at home, with 10 inches falling overnight and snow expected all day today. The snow’s blown against the windows, and the cats don’t understand why they can’t see out. So, according to my mom, they decided to take another nap and try again later. Gotta love their attitude.

Yoga, breakfast, some reading. Not a pot or pan to be found at that site, but at least there was a kettle, and I’d picked up a croissant on my rounds yesterday. I carry my French press when I travel, and had coffee, so I could make coffee or it would NOT have been pretty. Packed up around 10 and shifted everything back over to the other site, where, miracle of miracles, I’m online. I’m going to take care of my workshops now, and then take the rest of the day as it comes.

The people for whom I’m covering are supposed to fly out tonight. If that actually happens, I’m here through Monday; otherwise, I will try to trek home tomorrow.

Off to the workshops. Let’s hope I can settle in here for a few days. The thought of lugging everything back home tomorrow exhausts me beyond belief.