Tues. Dec. 6, 2022: A Richly Busy Weekend

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Day Before Full Moon

Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Rainy and cold

Curl up and get comfy, and we’ll have a catch-up.

There’s a post over on the GDR site about looking back at November and forward to December.

Friday was a lot of fun. Mailed bills on the way out of town, and headed down to Great Barrington. I found a shorter route, which was good. But, because we’d left later than I expected, we stopped at another store on the way down that was open, but wouldn’t have been had we left on time, and picked up something we needed (but didn’t find the bayberry candles we went down to get).

On the way down, we made an impulse stop at the library in Pittsfield, which was having a lobby book sale and found some cool books. Some of them holiday craft books, because I am a sucker for even tacky holiday craft books (especially at 50 cents a pop). And these have some cool ideas in them.

We went only to one store in GB, one of our favorite thrift stores. I found a train station for my Christmas village and the crossing sign lights up! (Which is more than the crossing sign IRL down the street does). Found a couple of small plates in a favorite pattern, a really cool mermaid candle holder, and a silver chain and bracelet with the large links I need for the charms I have for each. I also found a silver-plated frame for my favorite picture of my dad (who died when I was 10).

On the way back, we stopped in Stockbridge, in search of bayberry candles, but no luck. Then it was to a store in Pittsfield to pick up the last gift for extended family in Maine, and a few goodies for us. With a stop at Adams Fresh Market for fish for Friday night supper.

Pizza for lunch. I’m going to have to start making pizza from scratch again. Store-bought pizza tastes worse every time we buy it.

In the afternoon, I turned around two script coverages, and did some admin work. I was tired by the end of it. Really, really tired.

Tried reading for pleasure, a mystery that came recommended. But the writer uses “witch” as a slur against women and the world’s internal logic doesn’t makes sense, placing the characters in the “too stupid to live” category. So that one goes back, and that author is crossed off my list.

In Ellen Byron’s latest newsletter, she posted a photo of gigantic earrings she bought several decades ago in a shop on Columbus Ave. in NYC. I started laughing, because I remember the shop AND the earrings. They were too big to wear, so she turned them into Christmas ornaments. I love that so much. And that’s just so Ellen.

Her next Catering Hall Mystery (under the Maria DiRico name) comes out in March, and I’m excited.

Saturday morning, I had trouble getting going. But I did. And I wrote the first draft of “Net Worth” (which goes up today on Ko-Fi). The bones worked, and I knew I would do some edits. It came in a little over 1K, but hey, I don’t have to fit someone else’s word count. It won’t go too far one way or the other once it’s edited.

I started “Comfort, Then Joy” which was originally aimed to Ko-fi, but which I now feel is better suited to the quarterly newsletter. The story’s in my head; it’s just a case of getting it down on paper.

After a couple of hours at the desk, we hauled out the big Christmas tree from the broom closet and brought it into the living room. I started fighting with the stand, which has never worked well (and I bought this damn tree in 1989, or maybe it was 1990).

I finally decided I had HAD IT. I put the stuff down, wrapped up, got into the car, and drove into the escalating storm to get a new artificial tree stand. I got the last small one in the store, and while I was there, picked up a couple of oversized decorative poinsettias that clip to branches. I had hoped to find a finial topper, but no luck. I’ll keep looking in thrift stores after the holidays. All the other traditional toppers were too gaudy for our tree.

Home. Unwrapped. The new stand snapped together in less than 5 minutes, the tree slipped in and locked, and we could spend quality time fluffing the tree, instead of fighting for an hour or more with the stand. We put the lights on the tree (which actually had stayed coiled properly this year). And moved the tree into position in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. We use the glass doors to frame it.

Even though this stand is far sturdier than the other one, I tied off the tree to the door hinges, just for added security.

We unpacked all the ornaments from the big bin in the closet in the sewing room and put them on. The shimmery gold ornaments and some small wooden ornaments go on last, after everything else goes on, and we put those aside.

That took most of the afternoon, but we had a lot of fun with it. Each ornament has a story, and we tell and retell our history with it.

The kitty litter delivery from Chewy also arrived, so I got to haul 45 pounds of cat litter up the stairs.

Sprawled on the couch reading in the evening, with candles on and cats on laps.

Willa is so gentle when she checks out the tree. It’s kind of adorable. Tessa circled it a few times, and pointed out where some branches needed adjustment, and then was satisfied. Charlotte watched from a safe distance.

They really are all very good with the tree. But then, we don’t shut them out when we decorate. They’re always a part of the process of unpacking ornaments, putting things up, or packing them. ALL my cats have been good with the trees. I mean, Elsa (tortie) used to climb the bare tree, but she was fine once the ornaments were up. And Iris (Russian blue) used to choose a patch of tree she wanted bare and remove the ornaments. But none of them were ever destructive.

The storm intensified, and we had power outages on and off all night. Tessa did not like it, and roamed the house, complaining, each time it went off or on. I discovered that, while I could report the outage to the electric company, the gas company has no system for outages. WTF? Charlotte and Willa just burrowed deeper in blankets.

By the time I got up on Sunday morning, everything was fine again.

I mean, we live in a city, not a rural area (despite what Staples claims, when they slap “rural carrier fees” onto orders). It makes sense they’d get the power back on pretty quickly.

Sunday was cold and sunny. My neighbor knocked to let me know packages arrived last night. He’d knocked on the door, but, for whatever reason, I hadn’t heard, and he’d taken them in and then brought them over this morning. One was the Goddess Provisions box (which I didn’t expect until Monday) and the other was a gift from a friend in NY.

After breakfast, I revised “Net Worth” mostly for internal logic, and starting to layer in some sensory details. There’s plenty I intentionally don’t explain and leave for the readers’ imaginations.

I did some more work on “Comfort, Then Joy” which is surprising me for all the right reasons. I’m a little past halfway with it. I figure it’ll come in between 3-5K, a little longer than I wanted for a newsletter story, but it’s a fairly short newsletter.

In the late morning, we went over to the Alpaca Farm to pick up a gift for the cousin in Maine, and then to pick up a few things at Wild Oats. They had bayberry candles! And wonderful ones, from Mole HIll in Sturbridge.

The afternoon was all about wrapping presents, packing the packages, writing the cards to go in the packages, taping everything up, mailing labels, etc. I was tired, grumpy, and feeling every bit of my age by the end of it. Charlotte helped, which was pretty funny.

I like the wrapping and choosing things I think my friends would enjoy. But the whole post office prep can be a bit much. But I had the labels and the tape and the Sharpies and all the rest, so it was fine.

Too tired to do much more in the evening except have a glass of wine with some cheese, crackers, and fig/orange spread, enjoying the 2nd of Advent candles and the partially finished tree.

Dipped into a bit of Script Chat, but felt old and grumpy and in pain, so I wasn’t at my best.

To date, I have been invited to 17 different holiday gatherings, none with appropriate COVID protocols, and therefore have said no to all the invitations. Not worth the risk. I’m grateful they invite me, but I’m not getting sick because someone can’t be bothered to wear a mask. So I don’t put myself in high risk situations.

Fell into a very deep sleep. Charlotte woke me around 1:30. When I went back to sleep, I dreamed that I met Dewi Hargreaves, with whom I’m friendly on various social media, in person. We were meeting a couple of others we “knew” from social media in a parking lot somewhere, but they were wittering on about stuff we found vicious and tedious, so we ditched them to go to a book-lined bar and talk about books, which sounds like a nice evening to me. In this Dreamscape, we didn’t have to worry about COVID.

Tessa woke me up around 4, and I told her I was NOT getting up that early, and fell back to sleep. I dreamed that I was at an estate sale, bought 5 vintage suitcases, some books, and lots of women’s gloves. I have lots of suitcases (but love luggage) and I do pick up vintage gloves a lot (at least I did, pre-plague), so that made sense. But there was this other guy there, who kept trying to take stuff I’d already paid for and add it to his pile.

According to dream “experts”, dreams about suitcases mean an upcoming trip, or the need to access personal information about yourself. Dreaming about gloves shows a need for protection. It’s pretty obvious what someone taking something symbolizes. However, in this case, I think it was all more literal than metaphorical. But I’ll use the Rackham Tarot given to me by my friend to dig deeper. That deck works well for dream work.

I woke up late, and felt behind the beat and tired all day.

I got the Monday blogging done, made the SM rounds, sat down and made the grocery list. I took the packages to the post office. Managed to park right in front, walk right up to the desk, and was done in just a few minutes – AND within budget. Everything will be where it needs to be by the end of the week. It was sunny, so everyone was in a good mood (and most masked, indoors).

Went to Big Y to do the Big Shop. I think I’m all set for baking – will probably need to get more eggs, as some point. But I’ve been stockpiling staples for a few weeks, and I think I’m in pretty good shape.

Got a batch of veggie stock made in the crockpot. Did another draft of “Net Worth” so it was where I needed it to be in order to put it up this afternoon on Ko-fi. Polished the next two posts for The Process Muse, chose the graphics, uploaded and scheduled.

Turned around two coverages.

Jeremy’s soup class was great. He taught us to make Italian Wedding Soup, and I learned a bunch of new techniques. Charlotte was delighted, although I had to stop and grate some Parmesan for her, because he used Parmesan and talked Parmesan, and every time he said the word, she got all excited.

Tired. Had weird dreams overnight.

Last night was St. Nicholas Night, a traditional celebration, where one leaves out a shoe, and wakes up to find it filled with chocolate or candy or whatever. Chocolate and cocoa for us, this morning. And we generally put the goodies in either a gift bag or one of the Christmas stockings and put the bag in the shoe, because, you know, hygiene.

Waking up to chocolate is always good.

The coffee filter split this morning, so there are coffee grounds in the coffee. Better than no coffee, and I HAVE to get the new coffeemaker up and running.

Roxane Gay shared an article written by Isabel Kaplan about her boyfriend, a fellow writer, breaking up with her once she had some success. He didn’t like that she kept a journal. He felt it was his “responsibility to take her down a peg” and so on and so forth. It reminded me so much of a toxic, emotionally abusive relationship I was in back in the mid-90’s. I’m so glad I’m not still with that guy. I would be dead, emotionally (and most likely physically; he had a history of dead wives). She talks about parsing out her good news, about contorting herself emotionally until she’s a pretzel and then blaming herself for the hurt. It hit very close to the bone. Too many men in my life have defined “partnership” as me putting my writing last while doing physical, emotional, and sexual labor to promote their careers. No. Just no. The right partner will not sabotage the writing. The bell weather for me, in a relationship is – if my writing improves, sparkles, strengthens with this person, it’s a good relationship. If the writing falters or stalls, it means get the hell out.

And, as someone who has kept a journal for 50 years (there are boxes of them in storage), anyone who tried to keep me from my journal, or, worse yet, violated my trust by READING it, was gone in a heartbeat. My blogs are public. What’s in those handwritten books is private.

The big priority this morning is getting at least some of the next episodes of LEGERDEMAIN uploaded and posted. ‘Net Worth” goes up on Ko-fi this afternoon. We’ll see where we are, timewise, after that. I need to work on “Comfort, Then Joy” and also work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH and more LEGERDEMAIN, but that might not happen.

The baking begins today. I’ll do two batches of one kind of cookie right after lunch, then start my script coverages for the day. That should let me get all my baking done by the end of the weekend, so I can start delivering cookie platters early next week.

No doubt, I will post photos as I bake.

Have a good one, my friends. Peace and joy to you.

The next epsiode of Legerdemain goes live today. Enjoy!

The Process Muse Launches!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

It was up in the 70’s around here yesterday, more like spring than autumn. It rained; it was sunny; it rained; it was sunny. All day long. The sunny patches were very humid. I basically ignored the eclipse, because I couldn’t deal with it.

I have a new short story up on Ko-Fi, a short mystery called “Won if By Sea.” It’s been broken down into two parts, one up yesterday and one up next Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday afternoons seem the best days to post on Ko-Fi. I hope you enjoy it.

Today is the launch of THE PROCESS MUSE, the weekly posts over on Substack where I dig into the hows and whys of the way I create. For subscribers, the posts go out on Wednesday mornings at 8 AM; they should post on the site around the same time. Subscription to THE PROCESS MUSE is free, and there’s room to comment and have discussions at the bottoms of the posts. I hope you will join me in this experiment. Substack is available internationally, so my readers outside of the US can enjoy it, too.

Yesterday, I managed to untangle the scheduling issues with the episode-specific ads for Legerdemain, and to get the rest of the ads for the first arc uploaded and scheduled into mid-December. That reminded me that I am behind where I need/want to be on the second arc, and need to get cracking, because at some point in November (which starts NEXT WEEK), I need to upload and schedule the posts for the second arc, then create both the episode-specific and the general ads for them. While juggling Nano and everything else.

Of course, in order to upload and schedule all of that – it has to exist. While I’ve made good progress into Arc 2, it’s not where I want it to be.

I polished, uploaded, and schedule the posts for The Process Muse through the end of November, so at least I don’t have to worry about that, and can write other posts as I wish through the month, upload, and schedule them.

I’m also behind where I wanted to be on ANGEL HUNT, but we’re not going to deal with that at the moment.

I picked up some books at the library, only to discover, when I got home, that they hadn’t given me all the books that were ready. I have to go back this week, because some of the holds will expire. It’s really not a big deal; the library is four blocks away. It’s more the mental energy to get me out of the house than anything else.

Dropped off our ballots at the City Hall ballot box. It was pretty full, which is great, because it means people are voting.

Picked up some puzzle books for my mom; although she paid for a yearlong subscription, they only ever send the books when she asks why she hasn’t received them. Cashing a check for a subscription and not fulfilling it seems like fraud to me.

Went to the post office to buy stamps and catch up.

Turned around two scripts.  Promoted the episode of Legerdemain that dropped yesterday. Took another look at Tribel, since Yegads Muskrat insists he’ll own Twitter by the end of the week. I’m uncomfortable with their privacy policy. It’s probably not worse than any other platform, so I don’t really know why it makes me so uncomfortable, but it does. My gut is telling me not to sign up, while my brain is telling me I need as wide a net as possible.

This morning, I need to type up what I’ve got so far on the outline of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. I still don’t have the climactic sequence figured out, although I’ve got a good idea of the resolution. I think, in this case, it has to be a case of trusting the characters to see how it works out.

And hope I hit 50K in November before I have to figure it out!

I also have to go down to the DMV and renew the car’s registration. So I better get going on things like typing up the outline and working on the next episode of Legerdemain.

Have a good one, friends, and come visit over on The Process Muse.

Tues. Oct. 11, 2022: Serial Musings, Creative Inspiration, and Dishes

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Waning Moon

Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Pluto direct as of Oct. 8

Cloudy and cold. Second frost.

I started out stressed on Friday, but then calmed down. As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I hoped to get an oil change, but had to schedule it for yesterday instead.

I came home, got some work done, had trouble logging into Ello, which bothered me, since that platform has one of the highest metrics for me.

I picked up some books at the library, swung by the post office to mail some cards and bills, picked up some wine at the liquor store, filled the gas tank.

I jumped in the shower when I got home, and I thought, “what if I just don’t worry about everything that still has to be done today? What if I just get it done without the worry?” And that made things flow better.

I worked on script coverages up until the time I had to get dressed and go to the art opening. It was a lot of fun. I didn’t stay long; I made sure my colleagues knew I was there and that I thought they did a great job; I had a short conversation with the artist; I looked at the art five or six times, seeing something new each time. And then I left, as it got more crowded. The turnout was good, which is always heartening.

Home, made fish and chips for dinner, then finished the script coverages, which took until nearly 10 PM. But I made my goal and a little over this week. But I was tired.

Overslept on Saturday morning, after weird dreams.

I did a lot of promotion for the Free Vella Binge days. I promoted my serial, and I also read a lot of other writers’ serials, and it was a lot of fun. I hope they do a binge week a few months down the line again. Today is the final day of the binge – which means you can even read the episode dropping today, Episode 23.

It also means I have to start a different type of promo as of tomorrow.

And I’m behind on the Topic Workbook promos, which have to get done, since they pay at least one of my bills per month!

I wrote more on the next LEGERDEMAIN episodes – about 3K, and it felt good. This arc is taking some interesting twists and turns for me as the writer, even as I sort of stick to the general outline I made for the arc.

A character started talking to me. She’s kind of a cross between Marion Ravenwood and Morticia Adams, and I kind of love her. I listened to her for awhile and made some notes. Where I originally planned to start turns out to be further into the piece. My character told me the action starts IN an action scene earlier. So I listened.

I think this will be a short serial, to dip my toe into the waters of Substack. I have some questions to ask them about pricing, and if one can put bundling serials into the tiered pricing system. It’s a combination of action, magic, fantasy. With, of course, some humor. The voice is VERY different from LEGERDEMAIN.

Anyway, the series is called Vixen’s Hollow, and this first “season” is called THE CUNNING ONE. If I stick to the outline, it will be 12-20K. That way, I can dip my toe in while prepping EARTH BRIDE (which needs a fuckton more revision than ANGEL HUNT) and developing REP. While keeping LEGERDEMAIN going on over at Vella, as long as the metrics for work it, and also putting ANGEL HUNT up there in January.

Then, by midyear next year, I’ll have enough data and metrics to compare, contrast, and see if either platform grows the way I need it to grow for this to be viable on both financial and creative levels. And can make informed decisions.

While I’m juggling the other prose, script, and business writing. I think it’s do-able, if I stay focused, and if everything is outlined properly. Then, in each project’s time slot, I drop down and work. Hit my quota, take a quick break to clear my head, and move on.

We also did some more decorating on Saturday, putting up the autumn lights (which is always a bigger PITA than I’d like) on the front porch, in the living room, and in the kitchen. I wanted to wait to do the stair lights until after the storage run.

Sunday morning, we were up at 4:30, and on the road by 6, even though I had to scrape frost off the windows. It’s our first frost, which means the colors will begin to pop soon.

The drive to the Cape wasn’t bad at all, in spite of some sun glare for a bit. There wasn’t much traffic, and it was pretty to see where the colors are throughout the state. Mid-state has the strongest color now.

We made it in 3 ½ hours instead of 4, and spent about an hour in the storage unit, trying to organize and rearrange what shifted. We still haven’t found the photos and scrapbooks from our trips, and I’ll have to take another look at spring’s trip. I also forgot the shepherd’s pie dishes, which annoys me, and I didn’t have the energy to move enough boxes to get to the books I wanted.

But we brought back teapots, my grandmother’s china, the snowman china, lots of pictures and a couple of paintings, more sewing baskets, my wardrobe kit (which I will clean out and make functional for current project life), plant pots, and some miscellaneous stuff. It was a full car.

We stopped at a favorite store, which has things I haven’t yet been able to source here, and stocked up.

We were back on the road  a little after 11. We hit a bad pocket of traffic from Worcester to Sturbridge, but then, even though it was busy, traffic moved. We stopped at Adams Fresh Market for things like pizza, bread, and pie (their bakery is wonderful), and filled the tank up the street at Cumberland Farms. The gas was 4 cents more a gallon on Sunday than it was on Friday, when I filled the tank in preparation for the trip.

We were home with the car unloaded by 3:30, and kind of tired, even though it was a much less stressful day than I expected. Ate pizza, unwrapped some of the pictures. Some we will hang up; others we will put aside and maybe switch out, if we get tired of what’s up on the walls.

So tired, I went to bed at 7:30 at night. Slept until midnight. Woke up because my hip hurt. Moved to the bed in the sewing room and slept until the alarm went off at 6. Weird dreams, including that my laptop was stolen, with the flash drive holding the serials. I guess I better back it up on the external hard drive, too.

Tessa was beside herself, claiming we were starving them to death.

Fed the beasts, fed myself, pulled it together and was out the door and at the garage by 8 for my oil change appointment.

I’d brought CAST IRON MURDER with me, to work on the multi-colored draft, and got a couple of chapters done while I waited. The change was easy-peasey, reasonably priced, and they always do right by me. The car is purring like a contented cat.

Came home and started unpacking/washing china. Of course, now we have to figure out where to put it. And now, in addition to working on a flash fiction idea about a haunted doorbell, I want to write another about dead ladies’ china. Because ideas come in batches, like cookies.

Some of the pieces could go into the dishwasher, but most of the older, fragile, bone china needed to be handwashed and set out on the mats to air dry, then get wiped.

Of course, I don’t have a place to put some of it, although I think I’ve come up with a temporary solution that involved buying another rolly cart for the shelf full of tea and chocolate, and then putting some of the dishes up there. Until I can get a china cabinet that will fit into one of the corners in the living room or my office.

Because there are still two boxes of china that need to come up in spring. And who knows how  much I’ll rescue out of thrift shops over the winter?

While batches of china dried, I did Kindle Vella promotion and finished the first draft of the first episode of THE CUNNING ONE. It needs some tweaks, but the bones are good.

One of the things I noticed while reading serial episodes is that many of them are long, because the author is simply posting book-length chapters in preparation for the book’s later release. I’m intentionally keeping the episodes shorter and crisper than I would for a book because serial structure is different from book structure. It’s not just a bunch of chapters slapped up there, one at a time.

LEGERDEMAIN’S sometimes run longer than I would like, although if we get up to 1700 words, I try to break it down and restructure it. I can’t always do that without losing the rhythm, but I try, and as I write forward, in this second arc, I’m much more aware of structure as I write, rather than writing and then revising to fit structure.

ANGEL HUNT was originally created as a serial, then opened out as an (unfinished) novel, and now being adapted back into a serial. The episodes are short and tight, shorter than the original serial episodes. But it fits the rhythm.

THE CUNNING ONE, at least so far, is a little longer than ANGEL HUNT’s, but still less than LEGERDEMAIN. I want to keep the episodes between 900-1100 words, not more than 1200.

EARTH BRIDE’s will be more complicated, since that was originally written as a novel, and the chapters run long even for my usual chapter lengths. I have a feeling those will run around 1500 words each.

No idea about REP yet. Since it’s a science fiction comedy, probably short, precise chapters that build in comedic beats and then pay off.

Anyway, in addition to that, I did some noodling on two Christmas story ideas, which I need to draft before November. One is aimed at the newsletter subscribers; the other will go up on Ko-fi. My friend Chaz Brenchley has a really cool piece called HITHER that he releases a page at a time over there. You can read HITHER here (and buy Chaz a coffee).

We’re all experimenting across formats, trying to earn a living practicing our craft.

I tidied up some of the text on the Legerdemain site yesterday afternoon, too. I will work on the city’s history and the People content, and hope to get them up this week. I want to start promoting the site.

Slept decently last night, although, again, I had the dream that my laptop was stolen with the serial flash drive in it. Note to self: back up serial flash drive on external hard drive AND make sure the flash drives are out of the laptop and put away at night, or when away for extended times.

Back to the page; there’s a lot that has to get done this week. The To Do lists I made the last two weeks only depress me. But I have a lot that has to get done. So I better get to it, huh?

Anyway, Episode 23 drops today for LEGERDEMAIN, and I hope you enjoy it. The direct link to the series is here.

Tues. Aug. 9. 2022: Grief Intrudes

image courtesy of Tumisu via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Hot and humid

Friday feels so far away, I’m not even sure what I did. Fixed SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM, and it released. Polished my presentation. Uploaded DEVELOPING THE SERIES for the final proof.

It was so damn hot, that’s all I could do.

I was up early Saturday morning, to go to the Farmers’ Market before my class. It was so hot and humid that I nearly passed out. I got to the air-conditioned grocery store and it took me awhile to cool down enough so that I could think enough to shop.

Home, hauled everything up the stairs, put it away, and had to lie down.

I joined the Zoom for the conference’s keynote speech (with my video off), and it was good. Showered and dressed for my own class. Went over the class materials.

I had the worst possible slot for me (and for everyone else) – 2:45 – 4:45 on a hot Saturday afternoon. But I dug down and found the energy. The participants were enthusiastic and jumped into the exercises and had good questions, so it was a good class.

I was wiped out afterwards, though. Made tacos for dinner. That’s become a go-to for me.

Went to bed early, but it was too hot to sleep. I moved to the sofa in the living room halfway through the night, because there was a breeze.

Thank goodness we have good water pressure, because I’m taking multiple showers a day, just to hose down.

Sunday, I read in the morning (DAVA SHASTRI’S LAST DAY, which is a wonderful novel). A little after noon, I got in the car and headed back to the Edith Wharton homestead, where I went to see a play reading by a local professional company that interests me.

I was there early enough to take a photo of my favorite sculpture in this installation, a dragon.

The play was in the converted stable. The chairs were too close together, and, although it was a requirement to stay masked while inside, too many of the audience members kept slipping their masks down around their chins constantly, when they thought no one was looking. Only white audience members, of course, with their fucking sense of self-entitlement.

The play itself was wonderful, Caryl Churchill’s ESCAPED ALONE. The four actresses were amazing (and all of 70). Truly a professional performance, even as a reading, that gripped the audience and didn’t let go. The stage manager was one of the poets from The World’s Largest Poem, and how I found out about it, and I thanked her for letting me know. She was delighted that I actually followed through and showed up.

There was a really interesting talk back after the reading. Although it was not lost on me that one of the (white) women who talked about how important it was for the community of women to look after and connect and care for each other was one of the ones who’d kept sneaking her mask down during the show. Fucking hypocrite. Don’t give an impassioned speech about the importance of caring in community when you refuse to wear your fucking mask properly for seventy fucking minutes, showing that you actually do not give a fuck about anyone around you. I truly wanted to punch her in the throat, but I refrained.

As we exited the theatre, the skies opened and we were caught up in a downpour. In the few hundred yards to the car, I was completely drenched.

The original plan had been to stay through for a poetry event that started in the same location at 5. It was now just a few minutes after 3. I’d hoped the Terrace Café was still open, to get a drink and a snack, but they closed at 3. It was pouring, so wandering the gardens was not an option. I could sit in my car and be wet for an hour and a half, but then I’d be miserable and couldn’t enjoy the event.

So, I started up the car and drove home. There were times, driving through Lenox and parts of Pittsfield, I thought I would have to pull over, because the rain was so intense, I couldn’t see beyond the hood of the car. By the time I hit Cheshire, I needed my sunglasses again.

It had never even rained at home.

I got out of the car and wrung out my dress as best I could while still wearing it. Yes, I was truly that drenched, even after an hour’s ride in the car. When I got upstairs, I peeled the clothes off, toweled off, and put on other clothes. I’d done a crockpot chicken, so at least I didn’t have to worry about cooking.

Again, to bed early. Again, too hot to sleep well.

Up early on Monday, feeling exhausted. Did a run to the library to drop off/pick up books, mailed some stuff at the post office and got more stamps, and then we headed over to the quilt shop in Williamstown. It is amazing. Truly a fabric wonderland.

I got the fabric I will attach to the back of the Kitchen Island Cart From Hell, and for the new curtains. Because let’s face it, cute little blue curtains with mice who are sewing don’t really work in the kitchen.

Home, lunch, and just could not move through the humidity to work in the afternoon. The computer was glitching. I couldn’t concentrate.

I finally (after a Twitter poll – yes, I was so desperate and in such cognitive dissonance, I asked TWITTER what to do), packed everything up and headed back out to Williamstown to the library there.

Because most people mask.

I’m not sure what they’re doing across the street at the college library. The public library four blocks away no longer requires masks and asks that patrons respect those who choose to wear them (which shouldn’t need to be said). The library in Williamstown “recommends” them, and 98% of the patrons are respectful enough to do so.

So I set up in their hipster lounge and did my script coverage work. I was only there for the last hour and a half of their open hours, but I did more than I usually get done in 4 hours of home heat and humidity.

When I came back out, it was sunny as all get out, with 98% humidity, and puddles everywhere. There’d been a downpour while I was inside.

Drove home, and made a pasta primavera with produce from Saturday’s shopping.

Found out that the extended family member who went into hospice a couple of weeks ago died. I was planning to finish and send off the materials to Saturday’s students, but family stuff needed attention, to I let the conference organizers know it would be a few more days.

The family member who died was elderly. He’d been vaxxed and boosted, but had to go into the hospital and then rehab for non-COVID-related issues. But he’d caught COVID in rehab, and never recovered. He was a quiet, thoughtful, kind, sweet man. He and his wife had been together for 65 years, and have three great sons, all of whom are married, and a passel of terrific grandchildren. He was my grandmother’s brother’s stepson — yeah, I don’t know what that means, either, but we called each other “cousin.”

He could fix anything and was always the first to offer help when someone needed a driveway plowed or a lawn mowed.

The service itself is being kept small, because we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. Instead of flowers, I’m going to respect the family’s wishes and give a donation to their local public library.

I have kept somewhat of a distance from that extended family since the move. When we were stressed and frightened about having to move out, without any idea how to pull it off, the advice from that quarter (though not this particular cousin) was that I should put my mother in a home (because “she’s old, she only needs one room”), get rid of the cats, get rid of all my books and everything else, rent a room in someone’s house, and get a minimum wage job in the hospitality industry. Um, no. While we did not want nor ask for financial help, some emotional support would have been appreciated.

But then, even when I worked on Broadway, that section of the family has always considered me a loafer who should buckle down and get a “real job.”

When we managed to pull off the move (thanks to my theatre friends and writing friends, to whom I will be forever grateful), they were surprised. My mother kept in touch with them, but I really have not, other than Christmas and birthday cards.

However, there’s still a sense of grief and loss. There were lots of good times, since we started going to the big, 60+ people Thanksgiving dinners at the Legion Hall, starting way back in 1972, right after my dad died.

Emotions are layered and messy and more than one thing.

They’re also exhausting.

It’s still terribly hot and humid, and I have a lot to get done today. I’ve written a ritual for a friend who needs some help navigating a difficult situation, so that goes off this morning. I need to write and send off a review for a book I disliked. I need to finish proofing the workbook, so one version can release tomorrow, and the slightly different version can go out to the students.

I need to upload the next episodes for Legerdemain (and promote the episode that drops today).

I have a cooking class tonight with Chef Jeremy (which I love), and the radio play rehearsal was cancelled, so there’s one less thing.

I have to prepare for tomorrow’s meeting with a local baker, where I’m going to help her with some grant possibilities.

I need to polish my poem for Thursday night, and work on the Shakespeare horror story.

I have two scripts and some follow up questions in today’s queue.

I have to make another run to the quilt shop, because there were a few things there we kept thinking about, so we’re just going to go back and get them.

I may pack up this afternoon and work in the library again. I’m not sure yet.

I also need to give myself room to grieve. There were plenty of things the Victorians were overzealous and controlling about, but at least they has a process for mourning, instead of expecting it to be compartmentalized into a day or two.

Hopefully, you are not suffering in the heat, and things are going well for you.

Wed. July 6, 2022: Of Typing and Glitching

image courtesy of Karolina Grabowska via pixabay.com

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Rainy and humid

Yesterday was interesting, and kind of all over the place.

I wrote the first draft of the one-act play. It’s not long, but it still takes a specific kind of energy, so my psyche kept saying, “You put in a full day, right? I mean, you wrote an entire play. That means we get to play the rest of the day, right?”

Sadly, no. There was work to be done. Bills to be mailed at the post office. Books dropped off/picked up at the library. Groceries gathered at the store. Managed to get all the errands done before the rain began.

I heard from one of my colleagues on the Monthology anthology, who is reading the stories to help the editor decide on the order. She said my story (“Stone Garden”) was so beautiful, she cried at the end, which is EXACTLY the response for which I hoped. So I did a little happy dance.

Worked on an application for a residency. If I got in, it would be a Big Fucking Deal. It would be impressive on the old CV. The likelihood I’ll get in is small, but if I don’t try, it’s zero. And the organization contacted me specifically during this grant cycle to ask me to apply.

So I did.

Only, while I was in the process of filling out the application, the computer decided to stick/wonk/crash. It was so frustrating. Fortunately, a writer pal and a pal from Freelance Chat jumped in with ideas. I am deeply grateful to both of them. Working with both sets of ideas got things up and running and working again. It seems HP (my laptop is an HP Pavilion) and Windows11 have a difference of opinion, and something Win11 does makes HP think it needs to eat up more memory than it does. There’s a patch from HP, I downloaded it, and it seems to help, but I have to keep an eye on what’s being gobbled in my Task Manager, and then probably do regular fixes. Because, you know, heaven forbid that the companies who charge us money actually give us working products.

But it worked, and I got the application out, and now I can forget about it until November, when they tell if me I got it, or if I didn’t. It’s a project I won’t get to do unless I get this residency, more because of studio space than anything else. So I’m putting the notes for it aside and not getting too attached until I hear back, one way or the other.

I’m having a big issue with LinkedIn, and they don’t give a damn about it. Over the past week, I’ve gotten some really creepy “let’s connect” messages. First, they come through LinkedIn, which is how they’re supposed to. Then, after I either decline or ignore the messages, I’m getting even creepier, aggressive emails on my personal email, which is not connected to any of my websites, and supposedly protected on LinkedIn. All of these emails are coming from older white dudes in red states. None of them are involved in any business that would even remotely hire me for writing work. None of them should have access to my personal email. And yet, LinkedIn has somehow allowed it. Their position is that that’s what I get for not having a premium subscription. I’m tempted to take my profile down, but the email’s been compromised, and I’m not changing my personal email. Plus, pitching to agencies often requires a  LinkedIn profile.  I’ve got too much connected to it, and I like it. If LinkedIn won’t do anything, and the harassment continues, I will file with the IC unit of the FBI. They’ve been helpful before. But the fact that LinkedIn both allowed this and doesn’t give a damn that its happening is deeply disturbing. I already give them side-eye a good portion of the time, because I don’t find them particularly useful, but now? In this climate of the war against women? It’s unacceptable.

Turned around two scripts. One was deeply misogynistic while pretending to be about strong women. (Eye roll). Was requested to cover a new script by a writer whose work I adore, so I’m happy about that.

Used up the rest of the fennel for dinner to make a scallop fennel pasta dish. It was really, really good. Red Shirt Farm, from whom I got the fennel, said they’ll have some more in a couple of weeks, and I cannot wait. Between the Moosewood Cookbook and Deborah Madison’s cookbooks, I will learn how to use fennel in great dishes.

I indulged myself. COOK’S ILLUSTRATED sent me a special offer for an amazing deal for a two-year subscription and a cookbook. I’ve been a fan of the magazine for years, but the cost was always out of my budget. I usually read it through the library. But with this special offer, it’s well within it, so I’m indulging.

The downstairs neighbors have split the garden patch in front. Two of the guys who live in the apartment under me are growing corn and watermelon (which is unusual, in the middle of the city, but hey, I’m growing pumpkins), and they are so excited about it. It’s so much fun to watch these big ole construction dudes tending their seedlings. All grown from saved seeds from stuff they got from a farmer for whom they did some work. The neighbor in the other apartment last year grew the most amazing tomatoes (which she’s growing again), and beans.  I have cucumbers and tomatoes and herbs. So we’ve got our own version of a community garden growing.

I felt the full gamut of aches and pains echoing last year, when I was giving the Cape house the final scrub down. By 10 PM, when I had collapsed into the hotel room after the shower (I stayed in my favorite hideaway, The Publick House, in Sturbridge, on the way home), I finally relaxed.

I woke up feeling much better. Maybe now that I’ve ridden this out, I can get beyond the sense memory stress and build on what’s going well in the present.

A lot to do this morning, especially on The Big Project and the Topic Workbooks. And then script coverage in the afternoon.

My friend’s show opens on Cape tonight. I hope it has a good run!

An offhand (but deeply meant) Tweet I made last night went viral and it’s a little weird. But whatever. Some good conversations emerging. Dickheads are blocked. Not muting. It annoys me when someone starts something and then mutes, rather than deals with it. It’ll be over by the end of the day.

Forgot to mention that the Mid-Year Check-In went up on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site. I’m doing better than I thought, which is cheering.

Have a good one.

Tues. June 14, 2022: An Enjoyable Weekend

image courtesy of Rustu Bozkus via pixabayc.om

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Full Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Sunny and warm

Busy weekend, but a good one. Headed down to Pittsfield for a quick jaunt to pick up a few things I couldn’t source elsewhere. Turned around a script coverage. Got showered, dressed, and put on makeup to go to the art opening. It was close enough to walk, and the weather was good enough, so I did, even risking walking in cute shoes. I mean, I couldn’t wear sneakers with the dress. I could, but I didn’t want to.

The opening was artist Conrad Egyir’s solo show, after a year of teaching as an artist-in-residence here at the college. The work is wonderful. The way he captures eyes is compelling. There’s so much life in them. He’s also a really nice guy. We had a good conversation. The exhibit runs until September 1, so I can bring visitors to it.

One of the things Egyir mentioned echoed what the artists in the Open Studios at MassMOCA said: that being here gave them a sense of freedom and liberation to experiment and try new work. They didn’t feel the commercial pressure and expectations they felt at home. People are busy doing and creating here. Instead of putting newcomers through tests to join various inner circles, they open up, include, and encourage, and that’s a nice atmosphere to be around.

Attending these events makes me think more about my own work. How can I take more chances? How can I mix disciplines to tell stronger stories?

Came home, got into comfy clothes, and made dinner, then worked on the next review assignment.

Signed up for a yoga class – again, in walking distance (although I will drive). It’s one of the few studios in the area with strict COVID protocols. I’ll take the class, see if I like the teaching style and feel comfortable at an indoor class, and go from there. It will be my first in-person class in nearly three years. It’s at the end of the month, a special new moon yin class.

Going to the art opening tonight and going to class in a couple of weeks are both calculated risks. If I’m wrong, I’ll pay the price.

Actually slept well on Friday night, although the cats got me up early. I was at the Farmers’ Market just after they opened, and so excited to gather the week’s bounty (and talk to the farmers and other shoppers). Farmers’ Market is as much as social experience as a shopping experience.

After the Farmers’ Market foray, I went to the grocery store and built the week’s meals around what I bought at the market.

When I came home and put things away, I had to make another batch of vegetable stock, because my “odds & ends” bag in the fridge was full. I’ll need to rearrange the freezer as I freeze lots of stock, so that we have it in the winter. I used a lot of cilantro stems in this batch, so the whole house smelled like cilantro (which is a smell I enjoy).

The Goddess Provisions box arrived and it’s wonderful, built around the sun, and summer solstice.  Ellen Byron’s book, BAYOU BOOK THIEF, the first in her new series, arrived. After lunch, and answering some follow-up questions on a script coverage, I started reading it, and finished it on Sunday. It inspired me to see if The Pump Room in Chicago ever put out a cookbook or cocktail book in its heyday. I have one of their drinks carts and some glassware, which an extended family member who worked there gave my parents when the restaurant underwent one of its renovations. I’d like to see what they cooked. One of the later chefs, when it was part of the Ambassador Hotel, has out a cookbook, but I want something from the early days.

It was supposed to rain on Saturday all day, but it didn’t, so people went out and enjoyed the day. In the evening, people had their drinks out on their porches and balconies and called out conversation from safe social distances. It was fun.

A Twitter pal was talking about how there should be magicians at funerals, and now I must write a short story “The Funeral Magician.”

Up early on Sunday, thanks to the cats.

Discussed airlines and airports between LA & NY with Dianne Dotson, in preparation for her upcoming trip. Liana Brooks and her family fly out of Seattle Sunday, to live in Korea for two years.

There’s a lot of transition in the city where I live now, especially among artists coming and going in various residencies. I always lived that way in theatre, too. And it makes me realize how stuck I’d gotten on Cape, not actively pursuing more residencies and opportunities, even before the pandemic made it unsafe to travel. Sometimes it was financial; but other times, it was almost as though I felt I didn’t have the right to it, because I have everything set up the way I want/need it in my home office. There’s got to be a middle ground between living in transient situations and getting overly stuck. I want to be grounded and put down roots and feel like the place I live is my wonderful home. But I also don’t want to feel like I “shouldn’t” go for residencies and other short-term opportunities.

Granted, they’d have to be short, since I am the breadwinner and the caretaker of an elderly parent. But I still should do some of them.  I have a few ideas, for the next couple of years.

I’m not yet comfortable attending conferences in person. Too many people. Too few COVID protocols. But residencies with small groups and protocols in place should be do-able. I’m not yet ready to fly again, with the airlines being irresponsible dickheads turning planes into spreader events, but maybe something in driving distance now and again, until I feel comfortable enough to try, would be a good thing.

There were plenty of things I “should” have done, but I chose rest instead. I did, however, wash the inside of the large kitchen window, and re-set the fun little items along the sill that I took down when we decorated for the winter holidays. The outside of the window needs a good scrub, too, but it was supposed to rain, so I decided to wait.

I read THE SACRED BRIDGE by Anne Hillerman, which was good (although I figured out the murderer the first time the character appeared on the page).

Had a restful afternoon/evening using various products from the Ipsy and Goddess Provisions boxes. Made scallop-and-vegetable pasta for dinner.

Every once in a while, I get sense memory stress from this time last year (the next two weeks could be particularly rough). As I mentioned yesterday, I use meditation techniques to bring myself back into the actual moment, and remind myself I’m not going through that right NOW. That was the past. NOW is different, better, and what’s important.

The TONY Awards were on Sunday night. I was delighted that Matt Doyle won for his work in COMPANY. I worked with him on SPRING AWAKENING, and enjoyed it. Patti LuPone won for her work in COMPANY as well (of course she did, she’s Patti LuPone). I was happy to see Shoshana Bean nominated for MR. SATURDAY NIGHT (we worked together on WICKED). The tribute Bernadette Peters did for Stephen Sondheim was lovely. I’m lucky to have worked with both of them.

Slept well on Sunday into Monday, which was nice. Tessa had a fit because it was nearly 5:45 by the time I got up to feed them.

Got some writing done, caught up on email. Went to re-order checks, and discovered when the account was set up at the bank, they’d mis-spelled the address, even though they copied it from the lease. So I went to change it, and, as usual, it was Big Drama. I am so sick of being treated like a criminal instead of a customer every time there’s something to be addressed. The thought of moving banks again is overwhelming, or I’d do it as soon as my “year” is up in August (here, you can’t switch banks until you’ve been with a bank for a year). NONE of this is about security, as they claim. It’s all about control. None of the systems are to actually serve the customers.

Because it was a beautiful day, I walked to the library to drop off/pick up books, mailed some bills at the Post Office, and stopped at the bank to make a deposit and leave the letter with all the details in writing for the manager. Of course, there was still Big Drama all afternoon, and I am sick of it.

We had squirrel hilarity at lunch (which I will write about in the garden blog on Thursday), and then I took Willa out after lunch in her playpen. Charlotte ran away when I tried to put her in her playpen, so I only took Willa out, and then Charlotte pouted. Her own fault. Tessa would rather be on the front porch, on one of the Adirondack chairs, and not limited by a playpen.

Started reading a book which I sort of like, sort of don’t. It’s set in Cornwall, which I like. The plot reminds me an awful lot of the first season of BROADCHURCH. And the author uses third person omniscient. Not as badly as many authors do, but not all that well, either.

Got the Mystic Mondays booklet of New Moon and Full Moon Spreads – I will use one tonight, for the full moon. Ordered a couple of things online, including putting in a new Chewy order. They’d never contacted me, as I requested, when the cats’ preferred food came in stock. It is now $4/bag more expensive than it was. So we’re sticking to the less expensive food, which they are eating just fine, which is $8/bag less than the original food.

Started a script coverage, but kept getting distracted. I have plenty of time until it’s due, and I grabbed some more for this week, so all is good. Sent off a couple of radio plays to a producer with whom I’ve worked before. They’re darker than he usually uses, so they might not work for the company, but I want to keep everything out there, earning its keep!

The kitchen island I ordered arrived, ready to assemble. I’m sure it will take the rest of the week, but, once it’s done, it will be great. The box was 70 pounds, but I managed to get it up the stairs.

Enjoying the long evenings, where we can sit on the porch or the balcony, reading or just being. Next week is the Summer Solstice, and then the days start getting shorter. So I will enjoy as much as possible. That is one of my goals this summer – to actually enjoy it.

Busy day today, so better get to it. Hope you are well, happy, and having a good one.

Fri. March 18, 2022: A Foggy Start

image courtesy of LUM3N

Friday, March 18, 2022

Full Moon

Foggy and mild

It’s supposed to get up to 69 degrees F today, which is just silly, at this point. But this morning, it’s foggy. Hope it clears up before I have to go to the mechanic, since I can’t use my windshield wipers with the broken blade.

Yes, I got an appointment at the mechanic’s. Let’s hope this repair doesn’t wipe me out.

After meditation yesterday morning (and breakfast), I took my notification and headed down to the post office to pick up the package. Which, of course, wasn’t there, because they’d put it back on the truck.

Did some banking business. The credit union now has a lending library in the front lobby, kind of like a little free library, which is fun.

Picked up a few things at Cumberland Farms.

Got lost in the rabbit hole of research about The Spruces, which was a lot of fun. It also solidified that I want to create a fictional community, whose owner/visionary feels in competition with The Spruces, because there are things I want to change to fit what I need to happen in the series.

I also have to decide the year in which I want to start it (probably 1957), and a lot of period details, including things like a widow’s finances, etc. Because women weren’t allowed to have credit cards in their name until 1974. And yes, I’m old enough to remember when that happened. They didn’t have the right to open their own banking account until the 1960’s, so I’m thinking my character’s adult son would be a co-signer on the account in the 1950’s. But I will have to check that detail.

Sent out some LOIs, did some client work, turned around a script coverage. Did some work on The Big Project.

I have to draft the next newsletter, because it needs to go out next week.

Worked on contest entries in the evening.

Charlotte woke me up a few times in the night, wanting attention, and now has decided she likes to sleep against my back, instead of down at the bottom of the bed. Tessa woke me a little after 5, which was fine, because it gave me the chance for a longer yoga/meditation session.

I wrote up a bunch of background on my protagonist for the series inspired by The Spruces. The first book starts after a lot of this happened in her life, and bits and pieces of the back story can be woven in. But it’s revealing itself now, so I want to write up the notes, and then I have it.

St. Patrick’s Day was not a big deal here yesterday, which is a nice change after decades of dealing with drunks by 10 AM in both New York and on Cape Cod. I’m sure the fact that the college is on spring break helped.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We have a good rhythm going with the work, and the flexibility to explore all kinds of interests, and see how things relate to each other in a way traditional school environments don’t allow.

If I don’t have to leave the car to be repaired, I will stop at the grocery store on the way back and restock. So much of the rest of the day’s schedule hinges on what happens at the mechanic. I will, of course, bring CAST IRON MURDER with me to work on more revisions as I wait.

Since I’m behind on spring cleaning, the bulk of the weekend will center around that. If the car is fixed, I’ll also do a run to get more pots and potting soil. I want to finish up the planting.

Speaking of which, the tansy seeds, which have been sitting in Springfield, an hour away from me, since last Saturday, somehow are now in Chicago. Not a happy camper.

I had the hiccups last night for over an hour. While it wasn’t the worst bout I ever had, it was still exhausting.

Fingers crossed for the car repair being simple and in my budget.

Have a good weekend, and catch you on the other side.

Thurs. March 3: Grateful For Flexibility

image courtesy of Gerd Altmann via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Waxing Moon

Snowy and cold

We had some more snow, which means I have to dig out the car again before taking it to the mechanic this afternoon. There’s news about the sprouting seeds on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday morning, I caught up on some stuff. I’m so far behind in dealing with a lot of emails, it’s ridiculous. I run my eye down the list several times a day, dealing with what needs quick response, but there’s other stuff that doesn’t need quick response, but needs to be dealt with at some point. And those emails are stacking up.

I ran errands in the morning: library run to drop off/pick up books; post office to mail bills and buy stamps; hit up another store in walking distance for some plant pots and organizational supplies; pick up a few things at Cumberland Farms.

I wasn’t careful enough and ingested something that triggered a minor food allergy, so that slowed me down, too.

In the afternoon, I finished up the materials the editor needed for the anthology (one set of lore on my new clan, and two sets of organizational points). That took all afternoon, because I had to cross-check what’s been established and make sure I was working within that.

I also wrote up the review for the book I enjoyed so much and sent it to my editor. Culinary noir is becoming a favorite genre.

I covered a script in the evening. I’m so grateful that my schedule is flexible so I can decide what to work on when my energy is best suited to specific kinds of work.

I’m keeping an eye on the coverage of Ukraine and getting frustrated at countries talking about sending help, but not getting things there and not stepping up and stepping in with manpower. We ARE all at war. At this point, it’s a race to stop the guy before he hits the button. Standing by isn’t going to help.

Continuing to give The Narcissistic Sociopath and his cronies a pass will not end well for us. He and his cohorts need to be indicted and neutralized BEFORE the midterms.

I am so tired of stupid people who appease until it’s too late.

Today, I will work on The Big Project in the morning, dig out the car, and then spend the afternoon at the mechanic’s. Fingers crossed I can afford the repair. I’ve put aside a good chunk of cash these past few months, but I also was too burned out to push hard in February and hit the earnings goals. I hope that doesn’t come back to smack me.

Back to the page.

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Tues. Jan. 18, 2022: Planets, Cards, Pages

collage by Devon Ellington via pixabay and Canva

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Last Day of the Full Moon

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Uranus DIRECT

Sunny and cold

Uranus goes direct today. Uranus is “the Awakener” energy, so when it’s retrograde, things that need to be shaken up in your life are stymied. It also is about what makes you unique. While having it direct helps you get out of your own way, shaking things up in the already chaotic Venus/Mercury retrogrades isn’t fun. The full moon was in Cancer last night, which meant emotions were heightened.

Friday morning, the two scout crows from my local murder were in the tree outside my office window, telling me the news. They’re very chatty. The squirrels were running around, too, preparing for the storms. They are constantly knocking down the bird feeder, and I keep moving it and trying to figure out where I can put it where it won’t be taken down and dragged all over the balcony, but so far, no luck.

I got some work done early in the morning. Later in the morning, I layered up and did the pre-storm errands: dropped off/picked up library books; mailed bills and cards, and bought stamps; picked up a couple of bottles of wine at the liquor store. We may live in a city, but it often feels like a small town, because people like to chat (masked and at a safe distance).  I always know that if I head out for errands, I’m going to have to talk to people. Which is fine, because they are interesting and nice, and, let’s face it, everyone’s felt so cut off and isolated going onto three years now, they just want to know there’s another human being out there who’s not a complete and utter jerk.

But errands aren’t something I can do if I’m in a rush. I build time to chat into all the errands time. And, even though I’m an introvert instead of an extrovert, I don’t mind. Like I said, the people are nice, and they’re interesting.

I was looking at the artwork on various tarot decks. I don’t need any more decks, goodness knows, but I still love them. Three decks in particular have my attention right now: Ask the Witch Tarot, Tarot de la Nuit, and the Gilded Tarot.

I was scrolling through social media and saw a book cover – that was almost exactly like one of the tarot cards in the Tarot de la Nuit deck, although the blurb had nothing to do with tarot. I pulled up the image of the deck and put it next to the social media post. The only difference was the way the man’s hand wrapped around the sword. Other than that, the cover artist had used the tarot image. Now, maybe the artist had permission. Or bought the image. I don’t know. But I still found that disturbing. The tarot artist’s style on the deck is very distinctive. It’s not like the typical stock Rider Waite image that’s widely available. The tarot image I used for the collage at the top of this post is a typical Rider Waite free image.

Spent some time on the acupressure mat in the afternoon. Wrote up two script coverages and answered some questions on another one. I’m below my nut for this pay period, but that’s the way it is. I’ve just been too exhausted to take on more.

Worked my way through some more contest entries.

Was up until nearly midnight, and then had trouble getting to sleep. Tessa would rather I stay up and play with her, but at least I slept in until after 7 on Saturday.

Mercury has gone retrograde in Aquarius. In my birth chart, Mercury sits in Aquarius. Aquarius is about independent thought, and Mercury is about quick thinking. So when it’s retrograde in the place it sits in my birth chart, no wonder my brain is mushier than usual. Layer pandemic brain over that, and it is not a good thing.

Saturday was sunny, bright, and cold.  I polished the short story and got it out by deadline. I’ll hear by May if it’s what they’re looking for or not. I wrote two book reviews and sent them off. I worked on contest entries.

I made colcannon for dinner, adding leeks, Canadian bacon, and shredded cheese to the traditional cabbage and potatoes. It was wonderful.

Weird dreams lately, set in a city I don’t recognize as knowing in real life, but it’s where I live and work in the dreams. They are busy dreams, not stress dreams, so by the time I wake up, I feel like I’ve put in a full day.

Tessa got me up before 6 on Sunday. I made muffins with cranberries and chocolate chips, refining a recipe on which I’ve been working, and they turned out well. Which is good, because some days I feel like I’ve forgotten to how cook or bake properly.

Worked on contest entries. It was sunny and cold. I’d prepped as much as I could for the incoming storm, so I just rested and worked on the entries. I did take out the garbage, so we wouldn’t be stuck with garbage in the house during bad weather, but that’s as ambitious as I got, as far as going out and about. Read a script.

Charlotte woke me up before 4 AM on Monday. I think the storm upset her. Tessa was in the doorway with her, “You’re up? Do I need to start vocal exercises?”

I got up and fed them, then grabbed the featherbed and moved to the couch, where I fell asleep again. It had snowed quite a bit by then. I woke up a little after 7, and the snow was serious.

Still, people were out with shovels and plows, getting things done. Men shoulder their portion of the work better here than they did on Cape. The Cape was full of white men who would moan that they “couldn’t” shovel or carry groceries or do anything because they had a “bad back” and then immediately go play golf all day.

The past few weeks, I’ve landed in the same place in my dreams, as I mentioned above. I don’t remember much about the dreams, but I do know they take place in the same location. It’s a small city, that I don’t recognize when I’m awake, but is my home city in the dreams, and I’m comfortable. Lots of brick buildings, three and four stories. Coffee shops, restaurants, bookshops, small theatres, museums, a library, etc. No virus, as far as I can tell. The me inhabiting that dream space is a younger me (thirties?), and I’m happy there, with friends and work I like, although I don’t know what my work there is (I suspect it’s similar to what I do here, or I wouldn’t be happy). So far, I only recognize one person in that circle of people from my circle of people on this side of the dream scape, and that’s someone I knew when I first started working on Broadway, and who has since died. The dreams are pleasant, although they are busy, so I always feel as though I’ve put in a full day by the time I wake up. I’d like to try entering the space in lucid dreaming, so I have a better idea of where it is and why I keep visiting.

Eggs Benedict for Monday’s breakfast, because why not on a cold, snowy day?

I’m thinking of investing in Scrivener, after all these years. As long as I can save into .doc, .rtf, PDF, and create script templates, I should be fine. I’m unhappy with Word. I have a 50% off coupon from Nano, so I might as well use it. Not until Mercury goes direct, though, because that’s just asking for trouble.

Spent Monday morning working on The Big Project, and got two sections done.  I need to catch up on the tracking sheets for this piece (I’m now four sections behind) or I will be in trouble moving forward. In the afternoon, I worked on writing up the script coverage for the script I read the night before, and then, in the evening, I read two scripts for which I will write up coverage today.

A Twitter pal and I talked about a tarot reading she did, and the deck she used was so pretty that I ended up ordering it (Mystic Mondays Tarot, in case you’re wondering). I don’t need another tarot deck, goodness knows, but this one called to me.

It might be time to sit down and write my tarot book. I’ve been working with the cards for nearly forty years now.

Had good yoga and meditation sessions this morning. When I make the time to sit for a decent stretch, it starts the day in a more focused, grounded way.

I’m debating whether or not to head over to the college library later this morning. There aren’t a lot of students around, so it seems like a good time to poke around and find the materials I need to develop two different, but art-related projects.

I will do some more work on The Big Project this morning. I have contest scores to enter, script coverages to write up, and a couple of client blog posts to write. I might try to get some LOIs out, too, and I have two more scripts to read.

A friend has a new call for submissions out that got me thinking, although she works in a genre that would be a stretch for me, especially as I don’t read much in it. But I like the premise of the anthology call, and it’s only a 1K piece, so it’s worth thinking about. The deadline is the end of the month, which is do-able, if I find the right story and characters.

Had an idea for another piece in the same general family as The Big Project, only it wouldn’t be as big (The Medium Project as a working title?). The central protagonist and the premise came to me when I was writing in my journal this morning. At first, I thought it could be a spin-off to The Big Project, but it insists that it inhabits its own world, and I need to trust the work.

The power held, and I’m glad the storm wasn’t as severe as predicted. We’re supposed to get another one this coming weekend, so I have to figure out when to go out and about to take care of whatever needs out-and-about-ing, and then hunker back down next weekend.

Which suits me just fine.

Tues. Jan. 4, 2022: Back to the Page

imageg courtesy of Nile via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Clear and cold

Happy New Year! I hope yours was everything you wanted it to be.

The car failed inspection on Thursday, but I have 60 days to get it fixed by a registered garage. Now, if only one of them would work on Volkswagens. . .

Finished up script coverages on Thursday afternoon, and was able to take the entire three day weekend off. I stayed off social media, too, although I hopped online a bit when I heard that Betty White had died. What a shame she didn’t make it to 100.

Friday, I did a run to the post office, the library, and the liquor store (on foot). A good friend send a birdfeeder that’s supposed to attach to the window, so one can see the birds. I will try to get it up this week. Kitty TV.

Made roast duck for New Year’s Eve. It was very good. With potatoes and steamed vegetables. We still have plenty of stollen, so we had that for dessert. I’d made our favorite devilled eggs to snack on, and we did the traditional smoked herring before midnight. There was a small party in the house next door, but mostly, it was quiet in the neighborhood.

We watched the ball come down in Times Square online, and toasted in the New Year with prosecco. I let the old year out of the back door a little before midnight, and then the new year in the front door just after. Too bad they don’t have First Footers here. There were some fireworks in the distance, but nothing close and disturbing. Burned the second bayberry candle, for luck and prosperity.

I was very disappointed to see that NYC went ahead with letting people into Times Square, and how irresponsibly people behaved. A good many of them could be dead in the coming few weeks. Will they think this was worth death?

I used to watch the ball come down from my window, in my NYC apartment. I could watch them get the ball ready, too. Then, the years I had Broadway shows on New Year’s Eve night, I couldn’t get home in time for midnight, because it was blocked off, even if you lived there. So I was forced to go to a party or an overpriced restaurant until after the square cleared out. I’m glad I had the experience of seeing it from my window, but don’t miss the chaos. That’s probably why I still always feel so unsettled. That desperate energy of people trying too hard to have a good time.

I’d started taking New Year’s Eve off and leaving the city a few years before I moved out. Sometimes just to be with my mom; sometimes to go to a yoga retreat. Then, shows started cancelling the evening shows and only have matinees, because people couldn’t get to the theatre, or, after, had to go all the way up and cut through Central Park to get anywhere else.

The chaos takes the fun out of it, and it puts too much strain on all the services that have to work that night.

Got to bed a little before one, woke up again at three, and then Tessa woke me at five. I was grumpy and out of sorts. Tried to do the fire and ice ritual, but the ice maker wasn’t working. Then, I realized that the first day of the New Year fell on the dark moon. So the natural dark moon energy of releasing was battling the desire to start fresh we have in the new year.

So I stopped fighting it and read all day. Except when I made lemon mousse, and later, did the baked salmon in the lemon-mustard-brown-sugar-cumin glaze.

Over the weekend, I read THE TWELVE JAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Donna Andrews, laughing out loud at a lot of it. And then I read the second and third of Emily Flynn’s books, DEAD GORGEOUS and END OF THE ROADIE, both of which were excellent: writing, plotting, characters. I really like her work.

Sunday, I did some work on The Big Project, cleaning up what I’ve worked on so far, so I could dive back into it. I’m behind where I want to be, so I need to double down on it in the next few weeks. But I’m happy with the quality, the tone, the plot, the characters.

I was disappointed to learn that 365 Women a Year is not calling for projects for 2022. I hoped to write a play about Marie and Squire Bancroft, well-known Victorian actors, for them this year. There’s no reason I can’t still write it, but pitching it to 365 would have given me momentum.

I’m doing an Excel spreadsheet (oh, horrors) with details of the various scripts ready for submission, so that I can get back on track with it this year. Details on length, characters, production history, etc. I have 21 plays that can go out there and keep earning their keep after their initial readings or productions, and I have a handful I’ve pulled because I’ve outgrown them, and the market is in a different direction. I’ll do another one for the radio plays, and then a third one for the screenplays. I wanted to focus on creating and stockpiling, and that’s what I’ve done. Now, things need a polish, and need to get out into the world to earn their way.

A conversation with author and illustrator Dewi Hargreaves about Hope Clark’s 13-in-Play made me realize I need to get that back up to speed again. 13 pieces out at any given time, so the work earns its keep. The new version of THE WRITERS MARKET arrived, and I will go through it, cover-to-cover, making notes, and then work my way through pitches and/or submissions wherever I think it’s appropriate. Of course, I’ll have to cross check the information with the websites of each place, but that should get me back on track with keeping submissions out there properly, as I create new work. Almost all the new work I have on tap for this year is long form, not short form, and I need to mix it up a bit more.

The first shipment for the contest I’m judging has arrived, and I’m at work on those pieces, too. I have two book reviews to write and submit, and then get my next assignments from that editor.

Monday morning, Tessa got me up around 5:30. I fed the cats, did the usual longhand writing session. Expanded the morning yoga practice by a few more asanas. Extra-long meditation session.

After the shower, I sat down and wrote just over 3100 words on The Big Project, and I liked most of them, which is a good way to start the day, the week, the month, the year.

Headed to the library to pick up/drop off books. It was darn cold. It kept looking like it wanted to snow, but it didn’t smell like snow, and didn’t snow.

In the afternoon, I caught up on email. I sent off a grant proposal. I doubt I’ll land the grant; it’s unlikely they’d give it to a genre writer, thinking they’re “not serious enough” and my work samples were comic noir mystery/fantasy and mystery. But I have zero chance if I don’t try, so it was worth putting it together and sending it off.

Read two scripts. Should have written them up, but was too tired. Too tired to start on the contest entries, too.

But all in all, it was a good start to the day, week, month, year.

The answers to the GDR questions are posted here, if you’re interested, and if you want to post your own.

Back to the page now, to get the day’s quota done on The Big Project. Once I’ve hit that, I can decide how to structure the rest of today. A lot of it will be taken up with script coverage, but I have to run down the street to get eggs from Cumberland Farms, and then maybe take down the decorations out on the front porch. Rather than taking everything down on Thursday, I’m doing the outer rooms, and then getting the big tree, etc., down on the 6th. We have to figure out how we’re going to stash it all until next year, so it doesn’t take up all the closet space and hall space. Geometry. Fun times.

Tessa didn’t wake me this morning; I woke up all on my own, a little after 5:30. Heaven!

Back to the page, and I hope you’re having a good start.

Tues. Dec. 28, 2021: Post-Holiday Errands

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Waning Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Rainy and cold

I hope everyone had a good weekend, whether or not you celebrated the Christmas holiday.

Ours was fine: lots of food, lots of books. We were tired of the foods we “traditionally” had for the Christmas Eve and Day meals. So for the Eve, it was baked trout, baked whipped potatoes with garlic and herbs, and spinach. For the day, it was a baked ham with a bourbon-molasses glaze. We don’t eat much pork anymore, but my mom wanted ham, so we had ham. I didn’t feel all that great afterwards, but not too bad.

Desserts were stollen on the Eve and chocolate mousse on the day, and that was all good.

We usually do presents on the Eve and stockings on the Day, but, again, my mom wanted to wait and do everything on the Day, so that’s what we did.

We had fun opening things. Tessa “helped.” Charlotte and Willa watched from a safe distance. Tessa adored her present – a catnip toy that looks like a gift. Willa and Charlotte didn’t know what to do with theirs. Charlotte figured it out, and then she was afraid someone would take it away.

But most of the time, we just relaxed.

It was perfectly pleasant, although I felt somewhat unsettled the entire time.

I checked in regularly with my friend, who lost her mother the day before Christmas Eve. There’s not much I can do, except give her as much support as possible. The whole world shifts, and it’s painful.

Sunday, I puttered around with paperwork, and getting my email inbox down to 13 emails for a brief, shining moment, before it filled up again. Worked on the blog schedule for some of the blogs, and tried to get ahead a bit on ones that don’t rely on being in the moment. Researched some companies and added them to the list that will get the postcard mailing in January. Looked through some article guidelines. I’m going to work up some pitches this week, although I won’t send them until the New Year, because it’s just tacky and thoughtless to send them out now. Dived back into the research for “Dawn and Dorothy.” I made a loose writing plan for 2022, which, no doubt, will change by the middle of January. But at least it’s a starting point.

Yesterday, I went to the laundromat. I like to change up my days, but Monday is not a good day. People. The last thing I want, when the virus numbers are back up again, is to be around any more people than necessary. But things got done. Using the rolly cart to go to and from the laundromat is actually easier than getting everything down to the parking lot, loading the car, driving to the laundromat, unloading, reloading, driving back, etc. I just roll the cart down the block, around the corner, down another half a block, and there I am. Plus, yesterday, their parking lot was like a skating rink. I could have fallen and gotten seriously hurt. The sidewalk was clear. Much easier.

While the laundry was going, I make some organizing lists, and worked on a couple of arcs for The Big Project. There are three major arcs that have to be resolved, one after the other, along with less-important, longer-reaching arcs.

A little more than half the neighbors took down all their holiday decorations already. We are keeping ours up until Twelfth Night. That is a tradition we intend to uphold this year.

We never did put a tree topper on our tree this year. None of the ones we have looked right. And the tree looks just fine without it.

Read Colleen Cambridge’s MURDER AT MALLOWAN HALL and loved it. Stayed up until nearly midnight to finish it (I think that was on Christmas Day). I hope there are more books in the series.

Read a book by a new-to-me author set in Venice, which I liked. Put aside another book I started, also set in Venice, that just wasn’t doing it for me.

Started reading Sally Wright’s PURSUIT AND PERSUASION, which I’m enjoying.

Did my errands on foot. My mom won $20 on a scratch ticket that was in her stocking, so I picked that up for her. Mailed thank you notes and birthday cards at the post office. Dropped off and picked up a stack of books at the library. It was pretty cold and windy, but still nice to be out.

Got irritated by an author on Twitter. He’d followed; I followed back, as I do with most authors. The first interaction was a long DM from his “publicist” asking me to read and review the guy’s book. It was a long, involved DM, with a tone making it clear that they were doing me a favor. The publicist is male, of course, and the DM was typical male mansplaining privilege.

Okay, wrong on so many levels. First of all, I’m a paid reviewer by publications. Occasionally, when it doesn’t violate my contract terms, I can review a book for free, usually by someone I know, because the publications that pay me don’t want me reviewing books by people I know. But it is work. It relates to my job, and is therefore unpaid labor. I’m not doing unpaid labor for a stranger. Second of all, how often have I publicly stated that if the first interaction from a new mutual follow is a DM trying to sell me something (or ask for free labor), that’s an immediate unfollow, and often a block? Often. If the idiot can’t be bothered to do due diligence, not someone I want to deal with. Third, a professional publicist would know better than to pull crap like that, because that’s negative public relations, not positive public relations. So either the guy’s amateur hour (which means I hope the author’s not paying him much) or it’s the author using a pseudonym as a publicist. Fourth, if the social media is set to “automatically” DM any new mutual followers marketing crap, again, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, and are not someone with whom I wish to interact on any level. Fifth, don’t ask someone to work in the week between the holidays, unless you’ve done your due diligence and know that they are actually working. It’s rude.

That author also goes on my “do not ever buy or read” list.

Caught up with my lovely postman so I could give him his cookie packet. He was pleased.

Read a script, which I will write up today. Grabbed some more scripts to read the next few days. I’m reading less this week, but I need to read something.

Had Doordash deliver Chinese from my favorite place in Williamstown. One order for last night’s dinner (their duck lo mein is one of my favorites), and a chicken pad thai for today (yes, I know the latter is not Chinese food, but it’s from the same restaurant).

It’s clearing up, so I will bundle up, get the rolly cart, and head to CVS to pick up my mom’s prescription, and Big Y to pick up a few things I need for the meals over New Year’s. It’s a bit of a hike, but I’m trying to preserve the car until I can get it looked at.

Today, the “bonecrusher” square supposedly ends, and Jupiter goes into Pisces tonight/tomorrow, which, in my chart anyway, is supposed to be a good thing. I could use a break, and I’ll take any support from the stars I can get!  😉

On the agenda today, after I get back from the grocery store, is writing up the script coverage, and then finishing the short version of “Dawn and Dorothy.” I hope to get some work done on The Big Project, but we’ll see. This is supposed to be a week of more rest than work for me, but there’s always work to do.

Debating whether I’ll do a mini retreat over New Year’s. New Year’s is usually a tough few days for me, on multiple levels, and I want to be as gentle with myself as possible.

Jeremy Rock Smith is teaching an online cooking session on the 4th; seriously considering taking it, because I love learning from him. He’s a wonderful teacher, in addition to being a quality human being.

That’s the latest; off to the store now. Since I can only buy what I can carry, I have to stick to my list!

Hope your weekend was great, and that the days between the holidays are peaceful.

Tues. Dec. 14, 2021: A Twisty Weekend

image courtesy of WaldNob via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and mild

Well, let’s just say, it’s been quite the few days.

Friday, I decided to do a hail Mary pass on the car and see if putting in a new battery solved the issues with the EPC light coming on, which my research indicated was sometimes the case. I joined AAA at the tier which promises roadside battery replacement back in November. Not that they’ve sent me my membership card. I’m still carrying around a printout of the email.

So I jump through all the ridiculous hoops on the AAA website to get the quote, to approve the quote, to get them to email me the quote, and to put through the request.

The guy shows up in 20 minutes.

To jumpstart the car.

“They no longer do” battery replacement in the Berkshires.

Then WHY DID I HAVE TO DO ALL THAT FUCKING PAPERWORK?  And why was not told this when I specifically chose the AAA tier that included the promise of this service?

The way companies based outside the Berkshires take money from us without providing the services for which we pay around here is appalling.

The guy didn’t even need to give me a jump. The car started.

I took it down the street to the mechanic I trust. Turns out my battery is fine. They ran a diagnostic. Didn’t find anything wrong with it. So the dealer in Pittsfield strung me along for weeks, and I’ve been without a car for WEEKS for no damn reason.

In case the light goes on again, I now have the information of a local guy who specializes in foreign cars.

Because I’m not taking it to the dealer in Pittsfield unless there’s no other choice.

Came home exhausted.

But got back to work in the afternoon, with script coverages, catching up on emails, getting out some LOIs, and the like.

Sendinblue has flagged my entire mailing list for the newsletter. They said there were too many bounces, and it had 0% opening rate. You know when they flagged it? THREE MINUTES after it was sent. I don’t know about you, but it’s often a week or more before I open and read newsletters. According to the dashboard, no one opened the newsletter. Yet I was hearing on social media and via email from a good portion of the list how glad they were the newsletter was up and running again. Also, what my dashboard shows as bounces (which I can either delete or research for updated emails) and what they’re telling me bounced don’t match. At all.

And they won’t let me just fix the bounces. They 86’d the entire list. Including the people who signed up via their contact form on my website.

It’s ridiculous.

I’ve worked with several email platforms over the years, both for myself and for clients. None of them have ever pulled this crap. Sendinblue’s response is they “can’t” only flag the bounced emails. If a certain number (and their number is higher than what shows up on my dashboard) bounce, the whole list is gone.

So I signed up for MailerLite (after several conversation with them), exported the whole list, ditched the Sendinblue contact form on my website and put in the MailerLite, and it looks like we’re good to go. I’m not sure if I should re-send the newsletter – Sendinblue claimed they only allowed it to go to a “sample” before 86-ing the entire list, but they won’t tell me to which addresses. I might do a “Take 2” with new information on the top, and tell people where they can stop reading if they already got the list.

Let’s hope MailerLite actually does what they claim to do.

So that puts MooSend and Sendinblue on my “no way do I want anything to do with them ever again.”

I mean, I do a quarterly newsletter. It’s not like it’s a big strain on any platform. Which was another problem with Sendinblue – quarterly wasn’t going to be enough for them. The list would have been flagged for inactivity after a month– and needed to be deleted and re-entered yet again.

No, thanks.

The company is not willing or able to meet my needs, so I will find someone else who can.

Saturday was a rainy, yucky day. Cold and raw. The storm let up for about a half hour, and I did a run over to Big Y and did a big grocery shop, including what I need for the baking, except for the candied peel, which I’m still struggling to find.

Got everything home and unpacked. Read a bit in the afternoon. Worked on script coverages.

Totally enjoyed PAYBACK’S A WITCH by Lara Harper. Very well done.

A little squirrel came up on the back porch, climbed up onto the bench and knocked on the window. He wanted our apples. No, I didn’t feed the squirrel. I don’t want it to go out on the Squirrel Collective Mind that I feel squirrels, or we’ll be overrun.

Sunday was mild and sunny. Got some script coverage done in the morning. We headed out with the last of the cards, dropped off some library books. The dashboard lights came on again in the car, and it gave a bit of a hiccough. I was worried it would stall out, but it smoothed out again. We went to Colonial Alpaca in Williamstown, so my mom could buy a gift for her friend. Then, it was off to Wild Oats to stock up.

They had a small Dresden stollen, so if I can’t get my hands on candied peel and make my own, at least we can have a little stollen. They also had the Nuremberg Gingerbread that I absolutely love. And it was fresh, not stale and left over from years before.

Got home, and we put up the big tree in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. It looks like a normal-sized tree in this house. It always dominated the Cape house. But it’s just. . .nice here. The stand, as always, was a pain in the ass to put together. I have to see if I can find a stand that works for artificial trees that isn’t so awful.

But it’s much sturdier here than it was on the floor back on Cape, and I might not even need to tie off.

We only got the tree up and the lights on, and lights up on the mantel and the front windows. That was as much as we could get done.

Besides, it gives the cats a chance to get used to the tree. We’re lucky; they’ve always been good with it. I mean, they check it out and they sit under it, but they haven’t been destructive, at least not yet. We let them hang out and “help” when we unpack the decorations, and their special Yuletide toys come out and go under the tree, and we have stuffed ornaments for the bottom branches, so it all works out.

Read two scripts, and most of the next book for review.

Tessa actually let me sleep on Monday morning, until after 6. Progress.

Reshuffled my morning yoga sequence. It didn’t work in the way I expanded it, so I put some of the new sequence at the front of the session, and it works better than sticking them on the end.

I had an excellent morning meditation session. Did not want to get up. Could have sat much longer, instead of 30 minutes.

Got blogs up for the Intent for the Week, for the GDR blog, and for tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice.

Found over 800 emails in my inbox, which is not the way I wanted to start my Monday. I got a couple of “we invite you to apply” emails from companies I’ve never heard of. I will have to see what that’s about. How about, if you like my website so much, we have a conversation about what you’re looking for, and whether we’re a good fit? Instead of “invite to apply.” Which, sent out on a Saturday night, sends off warning bells.

Found a couple of things that should have gone into a friend’s holiday package where Willa “helped” pack it – and she swiped those two things and put them in her stash. I retrieved them, wrapped them, and packed them. My mom packed the gift for her friend. I headed down to the post office (on foot) to send them off. Huge line, but moved fast. Told the clerk how grateful I was that the packages mailed last Thursday were already arriving. She was delighted.

Whenever there’s a line, everyone starts chatting with everyone. Like I said, the post office is the happening place around here. Where you go to find out what’s going on. In Lee, it’s Joe’s Diner. Here, it’s the post office.

Home, and back to work. Wrote up some blog posts. Worked on the tracking sheets for The Big Project. Wrote up two script coverages. Started doing some planning and scheduling for blog posts on various blogs for the new year. I need to start batch blogging for some of the blogs (not this one or Gratitude and Growth, which are dependent on the moment) and work ahead.

In the afternoon, I baked 10 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the holiday baking. Much easier and less stressful in this kitchen than it was on Cape, for some reason. Also, because I’m not doing all-day baking marathons, I think that eases up some of the stress, too. And my feet don’t hurt as much working in this kitchen.

I did use up most of the tins I brought up. I thought I’d brought up another box of them, but maybe not.

On the list for spring’s storage run: More tins for the cookies.

I miss my special china and the snowflake cups/plates/pot I got last year. Oh, well, I’ll get it on one of the summer or fall trips to storage, and we’ll have it for next year.

Read the script for which I’d been requested; it was veery good. It will be a pleasure to write it up. Finished reading the book for review. Will write the review, send it and the invoice off today. Ordered a couple of things off Etsy, from an artisan whose work I like, for something I’m working on for the new year.

Started reading Trisha Ashley’s ONE MORE CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, which Deborah Blake recommended. Thoroughly enjoying it. I wonder if this is the book that will convince my mom to read some of the books she likes on Kindle? She’d love this. I stayed up way too late reading.

Tessa let me sleep until 6:39 this morning. Fed everyone, and curled back up on the couch with the book, instead of doing what I should be doing.

Got through a little over 500 emails. I have to hope the car holds up to do an errand, and then get back to work on the review and the script coverage. Or maybe I’ll do the review/invoice first, and then attempt my errand.

I need to write up a long, complicated report on the script I read last night. On this afternoon’s agenda are the orange-cranberry cookies and the oatmeal lace currant cookies. Then, it’s two more scripts to read.

Those emails “inviting me to apply” that I received over the weekend? Bogus. Had nothing to do with anyone actually paying any attention to what I do or my skills. It was a series of automated emails from several different “recruiters” who are just looking to bump their numbers, not actually looking at actual talent to fill roles. Waste of my time to even open the emails.

Off to attempt productivity, when all I want to do is read that book!

At least my work for copyediting clients is done for the year. It’s only script coverage and the last two plays on deadline, both of which I’m writing in my head a good deal before I try to put anything on the page. The Marie Collier play is only a ten-minute play, so once I sort out some more possibilities in my head, I can just sit down and write it. I’m still working on some Dawn-and-Dorothy arcs, and I need to go back into the research materials a bit. Because the latter is so specifically stylized, it’s harder to pull off.

Have a good one.

Thurs. Dec. 9, 2021: Trying To Cope Without the Car

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Neptune Retrograde

Snowy and cold

I talk about snow and some of the decorating over on today’s Gratitude and Growth post.

I finally got a response from the VW dealer in Pittsfield. The earliest they can see me is next week, and they still haven’t given me the estimate I requested. Only the estimate for a diagnostic. So I will be in touch with them again.

It will mean, by the time it’s fixed, I’ve been without a car for nearly a month, in an area that’s not great on public transportation. This is not okay.

I don’t get the garages who say they “can’t” fix this issue. I remember voting on a bill – which passed – several years ago that gave all garages access to dealer information to fix any issue.

Anyway, more stress on that level.

After going back and forth with the dealer to get an appointment and try to get an estimate (there will be another email going out from me today), I decided to go ahead and get the groceries delivered. Stop & Shop sends us a circular every Wednesday, touting their delivery service in this region. So I had to go on the site, and get an account set up, which took way more steps than it should, especially since I’ve had a Stop & Shop card for years.  They had my zip code for the setup, everything seemed fine. I went through the onerous searching for the items on my list, putting them in my card, or when they were sold out, trying to find something else I could use (I need to do my holiday baking this weekend). Went through all the steps for the delivery – only to have them say they don’t deliver to my zip code. Which makes no sense, since they send me a weekly flyer to my address IN MY ZIP CODE encouraging me to try their delivery service. And the store is less than 3 miles away IN MY ZIP CODE.

They could have told me this when I set up the damn delivery account.

Totally ridiculous. And, of course, there’s no customer service email, because Stop & Shop actually providing customer service is way too out of the ballpark.

Only curbside pickup.

If I had a car I could drive to the curb, I’d go in the damn store and get the groceries myself!

Big Y (which is closer) doesn’t deliver, although they’re connected with Instacart, and, after Instacart’s assurance they could deliver in an hour, they can’t deliver to this address. The garbled message made no sense.

Hey, assholes, how about this: Don’t advertise delivery service when it doesn’t exist? How about not lying to your customers?

After that whole debacle, I wrapped and packed the packages that need to be mailed, and packed everything in a bag I can carry down to the post office tomorrow, along with the cards.

After lunch, I participated in Remote Chat, bittersweet, since it’s the second-to-last one. These colleagues helped get me through the pandemic. I will miss them.

Once Remote Chat was finished, I did some more work on the newsletter, then wrapped up and went down the street to Cinnamon Girl Apothecary, where I found the last couple of gifts I have to mail out. Brought them home, wrapped them, packed them, added them to the Post Office bag.

We received a lovely package from friends in Kentucky, of cheeses and spreads and yummy things we will enjoy.

Read three scripts, which I will write up today, once I get back from the post office and the library. I’m looking forward to this morning’s meditation session; goodness knows I need it. Although my extended yoga practice this morning and early morning meditation session went well.

Off to do some work on The Big Project. Hope I can get in some work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY later, too. I have coverage to write up, and more scripts to read/write up, and a book to finish and review. Plus, I’d like to finish/test the newsletter draft and to get the ads up for the holiday shorts.

I think I’m going to break down my grocery list into two or three smaller chunks. I’ll walk to Big Y, dragging my upright cart, and buy what I can carry, and spread the shopping out over a few days.

Because the baking has to get done.

It already looks like I can’t make stollen this year, because I can’t get the mixed fruit peel I need. That’s a disappointment.  But I’d started stockpiling non-perishables in late October/early November, so I don’t have that much to still buy.

Fingers crossed.

Keep a good thought that the car repair is actually within my budget.

Peace, friends.