Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Rainy, not, humid
Isn’t it always the way? Go off-line for a few days and there’s a lot to say. So, for reading ease, I’ve used sub-headings – you can pick what you want to read and skip the rest: Politics, planets, trip, life, writing. This is a very long post, so be warned.
You may have noticed that I haven’t spoken much about politics on the blog lately. Mostly, because I’m worried that we’re totally f—, especially if McCain gets elected (I nearly said “re-elected”, thinking in terms of a Bush third term – my Freudian slip was showing). If that happens, I honestly believe the Mayans were right and the world as we know it will end on the Winter Solstice of 2012. The Republican Party has become an abomination and perversion of its original purpose, in my opinion. The Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Economic Rape and Pillage. As a woman, I do not EVER use the term “rape” lightly, but that’s what’s happened over the last eight years. Bush’s buddies get richer and richer while the rest of us, who actually do the work and keep the country running, are screwed.
At the beginning of the Democratic Primaries, I was pretty excited, because there was such a wide field of choices, and I was interested in hearing all the points of view and seeing how it played out. I didn’t get a voice in it (something I resent), because, in the State of New York, if you are an independent voter, you don’t get to vote in the primaries. Other states allow independent voters to vote, but not NY, something I think is wrong.
I had no intention of voting for Hillary Clinton simply because she was a woman; she needed to convince me she was the best candidate for this particular time and place. I like a lot of her ideas, she’s done a lot of good as a NY Senator, and she’s got a grit that gets the job done. However, I was already leery because, several years ago, when the hospital up the street was closed, I contacted her office for help. Since health care is a big issue for her, I thought she would be the person to whom to turn. A YEAR AND A HALF LATER, I received a form letter email from her office that had nothing to do with the topic. And the hospital was long closed. That has really stuck in my craw all this time, in spite of the many good things she’s done for New York. Her office is a huge contrast to the other NY Senator’s office, Senator Charles Schumer. You call his office –an actual human picks up by the second ring. You email, you get a response in the same day. You write a letter, you get a response – an actual response, not a form letter – within a week. And there’s always follow-through AND follow-up. Since I consider politicians my employees – after all, it is my tax money that pays their salaries, that is the way I like it done.
On the other hand, as a woman, I was angered by the sexist media coverage. Her hair, clothes, etc. were focused on in a way that NONE of the male candidates’ clothing choices were. That’s wrong. And, have you noticed? We refer to the male candidates by their last names, but to Senator Clinton always by her first name. Is that to differentiate her from her husband, the former President? Or is it a sign of disrespect that’s not even noticed, because for hundreds of years women have been referred to less formally than men? So that really bothered me, and made me more sympathetic to her.
On yet another hand (or am I starting on feet now), the fact she voted FOR the war bothered me. I remember being at a rally here in NYC before the war was declared. The Pretender President came out and said (direct quote) to the crowd, “I don’t care what you think.” Buddy, as my EMPLOYEE, you damn well better care. Politicians can back-pedal all they want about the misleading information they were given, but the fact is, we are paying them and IT IS THEIR JOB to dig deeper before they make their decisions.
Most of the women I know, of one generation older than I am, who laid the groundwork for women in politics and in many other areas, are upset because they feel that this was the last chance in their lifetime to see a woman become President. For now, it’s still in the realm of the Sci-Fi channel instead of being a reality in this country. And that’s a shame.
Yes, Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for President, as well as the first woman to have a company on the New York Stock Exchange back in the days of Cornelius Vanderbilt, but the fights women fought through the 1960’s and 1970’s really set a lot of groundwork for today. (If you’re interested in Victoria Woodhull’s story, the mystic daughter of a snake oil salesman who became so prominent in NY and then made a bid for the White House, read Barbara Goldsmith’s fascinating social history OTHER POWERS. It also deals with the fact that Frederick Douglass broke with the suffragettes because, even though they supported abolition, he felt supporting a woman’s right to vote would hold back the black cause – every once in awhile, I wonder how many shades of reflection of that are in this campaign).
As far as Obama goes, I like his ideas, I like the way he can walk into a room and talk to anyone, I like his grace under pressure, I like the way he did not vote for the war. My concern is whether or not he can implement his ideas, or whether he’ll be blocked by high-rolling lobbyists.
For Democratic women (and by that, I mean women who lean towards the Democratic Party, not all women who believe in democracy), this has been a very emotional and tumultuous few months. You can’t discount completely race and gender, yet you want to support the candidate you believe has the best ideas and is ABLE to implement them.
Something that gets on my last nerve across the board is the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on campaigns. That’s money that should be going into education, health care, veterans’ medical care and rehabilitation, rebuilding crumbling infrastructures, and wildlife conservation, not in buses and planes criss-crossing the country, polluting and spending money that could be used to improve the country.
I realize history has been made no matter what; I’m still ambivalent.
So, Mercury went retrograde last week without me noticing, which means I signed contracts and traveled during the Retrograde. However, since it never felt like it went direct last time, this retrograde actually feels like a relief, because things are getting resolved. So I’m not going to stress about it.
The Neptune Retrograde – hey, I’m a Pisces, it’s never easy, but too darned bad.
The Jupiter Retrograde actually feels like a relief because it oversees home and hearth and material things, and that’s been in such a mess, it feels like this retrograde will help with the resolution.
This is a case of me welcoming retrogrades.
Ah, heaven! It was really, really, REALLY hard to come back. I missed the cats and the books and the writing and my friends, and, surprisingly, even the show. But it was heaven to be out there.
Considering how tired I was getting back from the show at midnight on Sunday morning, and then getting up at 4:30, I’m surprised I did as much as I did. On the road by six; traffic pretty light, and yet, more people traveling than I expected in this high-gas economy. We managed to find gas for $3.99/gallon up in MA the whole time, which made me do a happy dance at the pump. Seriously, it wound up equivalent to a free gallon of gas at each refill compared to prices down here, which are at least 50 cents more per gallon.
The weather was fabulous, sunny, warm, gorgeous.
We headed first up to the North Shore, Cape Ann area. I hadn’t been there in years. Drove around Rockport, doubled back to Gloucester, and spotted at Hammond Castle.
Hammond Castle is a medieval castle on the cliffs of Gloucester, MA, built by inventor John Hays Hammond in 1926 as a gift for his bride, Irene Fenton Hammond, a portrait painter. Both collected antiques, and the castle is amazing. The front is in German gothic style, the back in French, complete with flying buttresses. It was a museum since 1930 (they moved into it in 1929), and they were the caretakers. Hammond has more than 800 inventions to his credit – his “war room”, a circular room under the circular library, is pretty amazing. The library, wonderful as it was – was too small to hold all my books – isn’t that a scary thought!
There’s an interior courtyard with a glass roof (three stories up) – talk about the ultimate sun room. It’s Romanesque in design, with some of the doorways made out of volcanic, porous rock, and some out of limestone.
There’s a Great Hall where Gershwin once played, and a series of Tower Galleries, where each level has different objects, including religious icons and relics. The Castle is reputed to be haunted, but the room with religious relics was the only one that felt, to me, filled with unseen presences.
You walk through all these winding hallways, nooks, crannies, tiny rooms of medieval antiques and then come into a 1930’s kitchen – the contrast is astonishing. And the views over the harbor are magnificent.
I promise to post photos.
Then, back in the car to Salem. All I needed was a good map and some photos of Salem; Old-Fashioned Detective Work has a small bit set just outside of Salem, and I couldn’t remember its configuration. We had a quick lunch, and then headed back down.
There was a parade in Boston, which backed up the Tobin Bridge and the southern expressway, so we got stuck for a bit; but the Big Dig seems to be fixed, (nothing fell on the car, always a good sign), so once we were clear of the parade traffic, it was a smooth ride.
Instead of staying in Plymouth as planned, we continued south. There’s something about soaring across the Sagamore Bridge that always makes me happy (in spite of the sign the Samaritans posted with their number for those who might be inclined to jump off the bridge).
We ended up staying in Hyannis, getting an excellent rate at a hotel still under construction. It was cheap and clean, all we really needed. It had a small balcony. The toilet made funny gurgling noises and some of the hardware on the furniture needed to be replaced, but it also had a fridge, a huge television, REAL keys (not those vile keycards, which I hate) AND genuine old, soft, cotton sheets, not the poly sheets most hotels use (unless you’re in the $400/night ones). Okay, the sheets were PINK – but boy were they comfy! And the shower was fantastic!
Had we had the time, we could have walked from the hotel to the Nantucket ferry and hopped over for the day, leaving the car in Hyannis. Good to know for the future. I got to see where the writers’ group meets (the one I met during Nano last year that said I was always welcome), and we got a sense of the area pretty well.
Picnic lobster supper – always a good thing. And early to bed because, well, it was a busy day and we’d been up since 4:30 in the morning!
We had a leisurely breakfast by the pool the next morning (included in the hotel, it was a buffet and it was good), sitting next to the pool amidst overflowing pots of cheerful red geraniums.
Then, we drove down to Provincetown. On the way, I was looking for the Nauset Light, which I wanted to re-photograph (it’s been at least ten years since I was there), but couldn’t find it. Instead, I found the Cape Cod Light, also known as the Highland Light – which was fantastic. They moved it back to its current location in 1996, because the sea cliffs are eroding at one foot PER YEAR (faster, even then here in Montauk), and expect they’ll have to move it again within 30 years.
The light is gorgeous, the surroundings are magnificent, the staff is phenomenal. A freelance writer handles their PR, newsletter, etc. – a woman after my own heart who’s doing an outstanding job, and I have to track her down via her website and congratulate her!
We bought the COOLEST wind chime – a four-side triangle (four plates, each triangular in shape) with a different lighthouse painted on each one. It sounds like a buoy, which I just love.
Again, I promise to post photos.
Over to the Province Lands Visitor Center, out by Race Point Beach. I’ve been going there since 1968, since I was six years old, and it’s always a pilgrimage. They’re wonderful there, and teased me that, when I live in the area, I should come and give tours, too! (Personally, I don’t think I’m nice enough to be a Park Ranger, but I appreciated the sentiment).
Into P-town, past Pilgrim Monument (I’ve been up those darned stairs so often over the years I really don’t need to do it anymore – but if you’ve never done it – do it). Parked on Macmillan Wharf. They’ve rebuilt the end of the wharf and done a lovely job. There are now glass partial roofs and benches and pavilions, so you can sit and enjoy it. It’s still a working wharf, but now it’s also a multi-tasking wharf.
One of the warehouses on the other wharf was rebuilt, and now has, on its outside walls, an art exhibit – photos of Portuguese women who were instrumental in the development of Provincetown.
My reason for going to P-town was the Whydah Museum, the excavation of a pirate ship off the coast of the Cape. I’d been there when it first opened years ago, but now, with the research for CUTTHROAT CHARLOTTE, “The Merry’s Dalliance”, and THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, I wanted to revisit.
It’s a small museum, but lovely. It emphasizes pirates, and I was more interested in the nuts and bolts of the archaeology, but there was also some great information and demonstrations about concretions and the x-rays to see what the concretions cover, and the grid system used. Great stuff, which helps me a lot in my writing. Again, the personnel there were lovely.
We walked a little bit around P-town. The last time I was there, several years ago, they were very discriminatory towards straight women, and I was tempted not to go back. I don’t judge people by their sexual choices and I expect the same. Who I sleep with is my business. I found it a very hostile environment, which saddened me (since I’ve come there since the late 1960’s, when it was full of painters on the wharves) and angered me. However, it’s mellowed out a lot (or maybe the season hasn’t yet kicked in). Everyone was friendly and pleasant, and it was a very dog-centric community, which I liked. Many, many happy dogs. You can tell a lot about a place by the temperament of the pets.
And, joy of joys, the Portuguese Bakery is still open! I’d been told they closed, but they haven’t. I did a happy dance at the register. We had lulas (flaky, cone-shaped pastry filled with whipped cream) there, and took – well, I can’t remember the pretty Portuguese name, it starts with an M – but, basically, it’s hunks of moist, light, fried bread. We had to triple wrap it so the grease wouldn’t soak through and ruin the trunk of the car.
Then, we meandered back along the Cape to Brewster – a town we fell in love with. I hadn’t considered Brewster a possibility in my house-hunting, but it is now. The size and ages of many houses fit what I want, it’s a friendly, low-key, year-round community.
We stopped at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History –as soon as I relocate to MA, I’m becoming a member. Fantastic trails through forest, salt marsh, and to the tidal dunes. A camera on the Osprey nest, so you can watch their activities. A lookout room with comfy chairs and binoculars to look out over the marshes and a journal in which to make notations. The exhibits are wonderful, and the tiny aquarium is terrific. I took pictures of curious turtles who came to the side of the tanks to see the visitor. I was exposed to a slew of new-to-me nature writers whose work I want to read. Again, a terrific staff, and their ongoing programs are wonderful. I’d go two or three times a month if I lived in the area.
We found a clam shack for a late lunch and slowly meandered back along route 6A, past Hyannis and to Sandwich, Mashpee, and Marstons Mills for house hunting. And some shopping, of course, at the Lavender Moon and Sandwich Herb Shop. I wanted to find the glass studio, but sailed past it, realizing too late its only designation was a painted mailbox – this area is filled with individual artisans, which is great, but sometimes the signs are a little too subtle!
I can get a ton of freelance writing work out there, so, once I move, I’ll be able to make a living.
Again, a dinner picnic and a relaxing evening. There’s so much to do all over the Cape all year round at this point that, not only can I earn a living writing for it and about it, I won’t feel deprived being away from New York.
I also got to watch Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, between Detroit and Pittsburgh. Wow! It went into 3 overtimes, before Pittsburgh managed to score the final goal to keep them alive in the series. I’m a big fan of Marc-Andre Fleury, the Pittsburgh goalie, and Gary Roberts, of whom I’ve been a fan since his Maple Leaf days, but, as a team, I’m rooting for Detroit. What an amazing game, although it was 80 degrees outside the arena in Detroit, and a good portion of it was played on slush.
On the way home, we stopped at the Book Barn in Niantic, CT, where I got books by Julie Czernerda, Sharon Shinn, Jim C. Hines, and a bunch of science and nature books that I need for the upcoming projects.
The trip was great, I took nearly 200 photos – don’t worry, I won’t post them all – and I feel better about the whole house-hunting situation, because now I have a more solid sense of which communities I think are best suited to what I need, and I know what types of properties are in each community.
So, although I didn’t find “my” house, I feel much more confident about finding it.
So the ever-lovin’ cable box forced on us by Cablevision worked less than 24 hours. I emailed them before I left, stating that they WOULD have a technician out here the morning I returned and it WOULD be fixed at no additional charge. I am currently waiting for said technician. Then, I have to go to Trader Joe’s – I’m out of cat food.
Oh, and the cable box that was guaranteed to be delivered on May 19? Delivery was finally attempted by the incompetent UPS on June 3. And refused.
Sorted out the problem with MacAffee. Once I could actually track down a live person, it was easily solved. Figuring out a way past all the recorded messages to get a live person was a challenge.
Hard to get settled back in. The cats were calm when we got back, because it was quiet in the building (heaven forbid they actually finish any of the construction in the building – they’ve ripped everything up and left it). The cats are happy we’re home, but at least they weren’t frantic.
I’m having a hard time getting mentally focused back on what needs to be done. I simply want to pack, load up a truck and go the Cape, but I need to have to place to go TO before I do that. All the steps need to be completed in the right order for this to work. I’m not 18 anymore; I can’t just pack two suitcases and a typewriter and land in a strange city, the way I’ve done so many times in my life, and start over. I’m uprooting an entire life and relocating it. It takes more organization.
There’s all sorts of building chaos going on and I don’t feel like engaging right now, so I’m not. “No” has become my favorite word lately. Without explanations or justifications. Simply, “no.”
I only wrote notes the entire time. I’d brought an enormous bag of work, the MATILDA MURDER rewrites, other stuff – nothing.
I had a huge breakthrough on YURI’S TALE – how I can keep it linked short stories that can also stand alone, yet, together, make up an entire novel arc. So that was good. But I didn’t write any of it.
I have to type up my notes (I’m bad at that – I tend to file the notebooks and then take hours looking for what I want).
I’ve given myself off from regularly scheduled writing until tomorrow, so I can settle in and get back my focus.
Believe it or not, that’s the short version!
5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.
Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.
Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here: