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.

Fri. Dec. 3, 2021: And the Holiday Break is Blown

image courtesy of mohamed hassan via pixabay.com

Friday, December 3, 2021

Dark moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and chilly

Yesterday was a mishmash of a day. Meditation was great, and Charlotte sat with me.

After breakfast, I got through a bunch of email, and then wrote up my script coverage and sent it off. It took longer than I thought.

Headed off to the post office and the library. The librarian who checked me out was planning to get the Moderna booster after two Pfizers, and thought she’d be able to work tomorrow and Saturday. I wished her well, although I seriously doubt she’ll be able so to do.

Headed to Stop & Shop to see if they have the candied fruit peels I need for the stollen. No luck.

When I got back to the car, I had trouble starting it, and when I finally did, the EPC light was on, which scared the heck out of me. I didn’t dare go to Wild Oats or to the Chinese restaurant in Williamstown, where I planned to get our lunch.

I headed back home instead, worried I wouldn’t make it. Got the car into the lot, did a little research on EPC, which seems like a manageable repair, if I can find someone to do it. I really don’t want to take it to the VW dealer in Pittsfield, because I’m afraid they’ll do what the dealer on Cape did, overcharging and always trying to force more than necessary repairs. But the mechanic I used here can’t do it. And Pittsfield didn’t respond. So I don’t know what to do.

I can’t afford a huge repair. And even if it’s not that huge a repair, there goes any hope of taking any time off during the holidays. Which just sends me into all kinds of depression and despair because I am burned out. But I have to get it fixed before I get the registration switched over and get the car inspected by the end of the year.

So today will be about finding a decent, reliable mechanic who can do the job. I’m going to contact the head of the regional networking group (that replaced the chamber of commerce) to see if he can recommend someone.

Because so many of the listed “mechanics” around here don’t even have a basic website, and if a “business” doesn’t have a website by 2021, I’m not trusting that it’s legitimate.

Why couldn’t this have happened in January, for goodness’ sake!

In a fit of pique, I ordered from a Chinese place not far away and had it delivered by Door Dash. It wasn’t expensive, I wanted Chinese food damn it, and so I stuck to the plan. Plus, it was fun watching the car come on the map.

And, on a happier note, the package Amazon misdelivered wasn’t in Pittsfield, it was to a house down the street. They were away for the holiday and just found it. They asked The Lovely Postman if he would walk it down the street to me, and he did, apologizing profusely that he hadn’t been around last week to fix the problem. I told him no worries; I was just glad to have it. Especially since Amazon had no interest in either tracking it down or giving me a refund. Because I sure as hell wasn’t going to trust them to replace it.

The package was Deborah Blake’s latest release, DOGGONE DEADLY, her second Catskills Pet Rescue mystery, and, in a further fit of pique, when I couldn’t get answers from anyone, I sat down and read it. It was a good stress reliever. And one of the parents stepped up to take last night’s Knowledge Unicorns, because I still wasn’t up for it.

Slept like the dead, and dreamed that a friend of mine appeared in the chorus of a Broadway production of WEST SIDE STORY at the Belasco Theatre, in a gorgeous green and gold, fifties-inspired dress. We’ll ignore the fact that she’s as much of a backstage person as I am, and wouldn’t go onstage. The dream is obviously tied to the death of Sondheim, and the fact that I worked on his FOLLIES revival at the Belasco, so my memories of working with him are tied to that theatre.

One positive side effect of the Pfizer booster is I’m sleeping through the nights.

Charlotte woke me up when she was chasing her tail on the bed. She caught it, bit it, and cried when it hurt. Poor thing. She’s usually smart, except when it comes to catching her tail.

Tessa wasn’t too bad this morning.

I’m working on the notes for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY (I plan to start it on Monday), and then I have a script to read/cover, before dealing with email and finding a reliable mechanic. I won’t be able to get the car fixed until at least Monday, which means I can’t get any of the errands I planned to do this weekend (like grocery shopping) done efficiently. If I need to, I can take my upright trolley and walk to Big Y, do a fairly light shopping, and roll it back. Don’t say “order online and get it delivered.” They won’t get it right and will do unacceptable substitutions.

Hopefully, I can get more work done on the outline for The Big Project later, because I’d like to start it tomorrow. I also have to do the domestic holiday cards, and get the packages wrapped. There are still a couple of gifts I have to get, so I better hurry up and get them from places in walking distance soon, so I can mail everything off next week.  I also have to do more decorating. I’d hoped to get the tree up this weekend, but who knows. I also have to figure out how to tie my website to MooSend for the newsletter signup, finish the newsletter, and get the promotions done for the holiday shorts. Can’t pay the for the ads I hoped to run until I know how much the car repair bill is.

And worry about the car repair bill.

Have a good one, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Wed. Nov. 24, 2021: Holiday Meal Prep

image courtesy of Sarah Chai via pexels.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

After yesterday’s quota on CAST IRON MURDER was met, I headed for the post office to mail the two packages (one overseas, one domestic that I wanted to arrive during Chanukah). The overseas rate has gone way up, but it’s the only package, so I’m not worried. The domestic package rate has gone up somewhat, but along what I expected.

Then, off to the library, to drop off and pick up books. To Big Y, for a few last-minute items.

Home, unpacked, and worked on script coverage. I was done about midafternoon. I have one more to read/write up before the holiday, but I was just too tired. Each script deserves my ability to concentrate and respond at top capability.

Leftovers for dinner. I’m trying to clean out the fridge to make room for turkey leftovers!

Pondering how I want to change things for next year, as far as work schedule, the way the workload is spread out, etc. I’m on the right track; I need to make a few decisions about where to put my focus and energy. I need to figure out the roster of projects I need/want to get done, and how to juggle them so I don’t burn out and can truly enjoy each of them.

I want to go back to Sundays (or at least one day a week) being disconnected from social media, email, etc. I want to use that day for yoga, meditation, projects I WANT to do, rather than things I feel I HAVE to get done before the next week starts. I want to shift some of my focus, copywriting-wise in the next few months, with a bigger emphasis on certain areas, while pulling back in others. I like the flexibility I have now, and I like taking what Americans consider a long-ish break in the middle of the day, even if it means working later at night.

Went to bed early. Tessa woke me up at 4:10. I moved to the bed in the sewing room, and she settled down, happy. Then Willa and Charlotte came to check in, and I gave up and got up.

Headed for the laundromat early, and got everything done in about an hour and a half. I was the only one there. Sometimes it’s creepy, but today, it wasn’t.

I worked on the outline for the second HEARTHSTONE book (the series started with CAST IRON MURDER). I’m calling that book THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, at least for the moment. Outlining is something I can do at the laundromat, because the hum of the machines gives the writing an underlying beat, and I can still be aware of what’s going on around me. If I’m deep in scene work, I’m not alert enough to my surroundings.

I realized I have to seed a couple of things in CAST IRON MURDER for it to make sense in KRINGLE CALAMTIY, so when I go back in a couple of months to revise CIM, I’ll seed them in. Unless I put them in as inserts in this draft. I forgot to write a scene in CIM that’s kind of important to set something up for the end of the book, so I’ll go back and do that this weekend. When I go back and revise, I have to clean up some timeline stuff; it’s too vague the way it is right now.

Made some notes on the project with which I’ve been playing. It’s still mostly world-building and character relationship notes, although I’m starting to feel more than see how the first three major arcs will go.

When I came back, after breakfast, I wrote 2951 words on CAST IRON MURDER. I realized about two pages of this chapter needed to be the end of the previous chapter, not the opening of this one, so I moved them back into that chapter, and then this chapter made more sense. I need to smooth out a bit of logic, which I can do once I’ve added the insert scenes.

One more chapter (and insert scenes) and I’m done with this draft.

Since it’s not a contracted, deadlined project, I can then put it aside to rest and marinate for two months, before I start working on revisions.

And get back to my contracted, deadlined projects.

I hope to do the revision of “A Rare Medium” early next week, and get that in before deadline. I’m hoping to start the Marie Corelli play this weekend.

I got through about 500 emails this morning. I’m trying to get (and keep) the email situation under control.

I’m a little concerned, because the COVID numbers are going up again here, and Pittsfield is back in the red zone. Since we were shopping in Pittsfield last weekend, I’m monitoring us.

I have one more script to cover, and I’m done for the holidays. I’m debating reading another couple of scripts Saturday/Sunday, in case the COVID booster knocks me out Monday/Tuesday. I’ll see how I feel on the weekend. My brain needs the break.

I’ve got some baking to do this afternoon – cheddar and apple turnovers, an apple/ginger cake, and possibly the chocolate walnut butter bread. Or I might do the bread over the weekend.

Tomorrow morning, I make the stuffing and put the turkey in the oven. I’m serving it with traditional mashed potatoes and homemade turkey giblet gravy, peas, and I’m doing my carrot-parsnip dish in mushroom sauce. I have a bottle of local hard cider from Berkshire Cider Project that I bought specifically for the meal.

Friday, we start the winter holiday decorating, and work on the domestic cards. Sunday is already the First of Advent and the beginning of Chanukah. At the very least, I need to get the Advent table up.

Yes, there will be photos, especially since this is the first time we’re decorating this space, and it will be very different from the past ten years in the Cape house!

Monday, I get my COVID booster in the morning, mixing Pfizer with my previous Moderna shots. Hopefully, I won’t have strong side effects. My mom had 3 Pfizers, with barely any side effects, except sore arm and fatigue. My first two Moderna shots kicked my ass.

Have a lovely weekend, my friends. Enjoy the holiday. Rest, eat, enjoy.

Fri. Nov. 19, 2021: Road Trip!

image courtesy of Marta Wave via pexels.com

Friday, November 19, 2021

Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Sorry this is posted so late, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Yesterday was a lot of fun. After meditation and my daily word quota, we got in the car and headed down to Great Barrington. It’s a town I’ve always enjoyed, even before I moved to the area.

The weather was sunny and gorgeous, and it went all the way into the sixties, temperature-wise, so that was fun. Grab the beautiful weather whenever possible, right?

We stopped at a thrift shop, where I found a beautiful teapot and matching plate, with peacocks on them. Lovely. The pattern is just gorgeous. I got a lovely Santa & reindeer music box, another wooden Santa for the collection, a small festive tray, and a small ceramic bowl that looks like a partner to the one I made in pottery class years ago.

We went to the BookLoft, where I found some cool, fun gifts. (I mean, that was the purpose of the trip, our holiday gift shopping). We also stopped at an Asian market, where I was excited to get wonton wrappers and spring roll wrappers. Finally, a place where I can get the ingredients for my Asian recipes. The woman at the store was really nice, too, and we had a lively conversation about making dumplings.

We stopped in Stockbridge, on the way back. I wanted to show my mom the Red Lion Inn, because it’s so famous. I love some of their furnishings. The gift shop and the General Store down the street didn’t have what we were looking for, unfortunately, nor did the stores we hit up in Lee and Lenox.

We stopped at a couple of places in Pittsfield, but mostly didn’t find what we were looking for, although I did get the notebooks for my 2022 handwritten journal. Stopped for a few groceries, too, on the way home.

Walked out of two of the stores that had mask policies posted for staff and customers, but the staff had their masks down around their chins. Nope. Not spending my money there. If you’re not following protocols, especially with lots of customers around.

Once home, we hauled our stuff up the stairs, and then I ordered a pizza from the small, independent place that’s a few blocks down the street on Ashland. It was a pain in the butt to get set up at Allhungry, but the pizza arrived faster than projected, and it was delicious. Will definitely order from them again. And it was big enough to have leftovers. Leftover pizza is always a good thing.

I’d gotten a good chunk of work done in the morning, before meditation and after my word quota, so I only had about four hours’ worth of work to do when I got back to it around 5 PM.

But I was definitely tired when I fell into bed.

The lunar eclipse wacky energy was all over the place.

Pet peeve: Pagan men who jump on a social media thread that has nothing to do with them and mansplain. Even worse than the usual irritating white boy bros who do it. Pagan men should know better! Considered retorting or blocking or whatever, but it wasn’t worth the energy.  Just ignored it. Always good to know who to avoid, though.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. We’re taking all of next week off, beause, as they said, who’s going to be serious about homework a coupla days before Thanksgiving? One of the parents is stepping in to run the session on the 30th, since I have my COVID booster on the 29th. I’ll be glad to get it; the numbers in this state are back up to where they were in February.

The alarm this morning got me up at 5. I tried to roll over for a few more minutes, but Charlotte and Tessa were having none of it. Got up, fed everybody, did my yoga, got in about 1400 words on CAST IRON MURDER before I had to get ready to leave the house for the coffee meetup.

Of course, the directions from Google Maps had nothing to do with the actual streets, so I had to stop at a Cumberland Farms, where they were nice enough to help me figure out how to get there from here.

“There” is Beaver Mills, one of the old industrial mill buildings that’s in the process of conversion, and the meetup was at The Studio at Beaver Mill, which used to be Frog Lotus Yoga Studio (and it makes me sad that they closed, because I’d hoped to start taking class with them when it was safe). The Studio is now a rental space for rehearsals, performances, events, etc.

The guy who owns and runs it is the founder of Rhythm Monster, which is an organization devoted to the cultures of drumming through drumming.

And I think Rhythm Monster might be one of the missing pieces for a big, international, long-term project that I’m trying to put together again, now that enough people are getting vaccinated to make it viable.

So I need to get in touch with my primary collaborator about that, and I also need to sit and do some serious thinking about the focus of the project in the next few weeks.

Anyway, I had a great time at the meeting, and my fellow attendees were all interesting, too: from the organization, from the Historical Society, a city councilor, a critic, and someone from the college, who wants to form closer relationships with businesses in the city.

The next meeting is in December, in Great Barrington. If the weather holds, I want to go.

Once I left the Mill, I drove over to Williamstown to Wild Oats, because I had to get the essentials (eggs, wine, coffee). Then, I hit up the post office to mail my overseas cards and get some more overseas stamps, and catch up on What is Happening. The temperature was dropping rapidly as I made my way around town doing my errands, and I wondered if it would snow.

After the post office, it was up to the library, to drop off/pick up books and catch up with the librarians.

Got home, and back to the page, to finish my work on CAST IRON MURDER for the day. 2739 words, bringing me over the 47K mark. And I still have two pages of outline notes, so I think I’m okay.

I’ve got some email to get through, then a break on the acupressure mat, then it’s back to work. I have a feeling I won’t have an early finish today. I do plan to work through the weekend, with Thanksgiving coming up next week, and then my booster. So I’ll push this weekend, even though I’m tired (and even though I have to at least start writing the domestic holiday cards).

We do have to do some more gift-hunting this weekend, and I also have to pick up the turkey, so there’s a bunch of stuff to juggle.

But I have to build in some time to percolate on this project.

It’s so exciting to be around people of all disciplines who are doing things!

Have a great weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Tues. Nov. 16, 2021: Juggling Manuscripts

image courtesy of Mochammad Algi vis Pexels.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I enjoyed the weekend, which is a good thing.

Friday was a bit of a slog. It started absolutely bucketing down rain, monsooning harder than it ever has since we lived here. I guess I should be grateful it wasn’t snow. But there was no way in hell I was going to go out in that.

Got through a bunch of emails, sent out some LOIs. Did my script coverage. Both read and wrote up the last script of the week (I was going to read Friday, write Saturday, but decided I needed a whole day off). So I worked until 8:30 at night, but at least I got it all cleared off my desk.

I was exhausted, and fell into bed early.

Charlotte started nuzzling me a little after 5 AM on Saturday, and then Tessa began singing the song of her people, so I got up to feed them.

2783 words on CAST IRON MURDER, and they went kind of well.

It was a lovely autumn day, so I grabbed the letters for the post office and the books that had to go back to the library, and headed out. As safe as I feel around here, most of the time, I’m still aware that it’s a city, and I still keep the awareness high of everything going on around me, and keep up with what I learned to survive living in NYC.

Such as: always carry a small compact with a mirror with you. You can “check your makeup” when you’re really checking to see who’s behind you. In a pinch, you can smash the mirror and use the shards as weapons (thereby putting the seven years’ bad luck of a smashed mirror onto your attacker, not keeping it).

Fortunately, I have yet to use that here, but I’m ready, if necessary.

I also feel often safer here than on Cape, because I’m not being harassed by that asshat Trump supporter with the tricked-up pickup and the American flags trying to run me off the road because I’m a woman driving on my own in a blue car, and must therefore be a femi-Nazi libtard and deserve to be driven into a ditch. Or a telephone pole. Nope. Don’t miss him at all.

Anyway, dropped off the mail at the post office. The clerks with whom I usually exchange information aren’t working on Saturdays, so I left without finding out the latest happenings.

Up the street to the library, to drop off and pick up books. One of the librarians suggested a book she really liked, so I added it to the stack, and got some books off the Free Discard table.

When I got home, it was so lovely that we headed to the car and drove up to Windsor Lake, to enjoy being outside while we still can. Explored some more of the lake. It’s a small lake, gouged into the side of a mountain in a residential area, but it’s lovely. I look forward to spending as much time as possible there.

By the time we got back, the clouds were moving in, and soon, it started raining again. So I’m glad we had the time outside.

Read for fun all afternoon. Finished one book and read another which had been recommended to me. They didn’t work for me, although the plotting is clever and well-thought out. I’m not fond of hapless protagonists, unless they grow and change, and this one didn’t, over the course of the two books I read. Also, “witch” was used as a derogatory more than once, by characters I’m supposed to like, without consequences, and that’s a non-negotiable line for me. Don’t pretend you’re an inclusive author when you refer to other women and an entire belief system in that derogatory way. You’re a fucking hypocrite. Any author publishing after 2000 can’t use the excuse that it’s a phrase “everybody uses.” No, hon, it’s a phrase those supporting white privilege status quo use. If a writer uses it in a book published after 2000, a line goes through the name, they are off my list. Writers can and should write whatever they want. But when they personally spit in my face, they can’t expect me to support their books, either by buying them or by praising them. There was a lot of maintaining the status quo white privilege in both books, which turned me off. When an author tries to create a protagonist that does that, while still pretending the protagonist is tolerant and accepting, it rarely works. While a lot of that comes from pressure from traditional publishers, editors, and agents, it’s rarely written with enough skill to work.

Done with that author.

As soon as Charlotte and I started drifting off to sleep on Saturday night, Tessa started wailing. I got up, sat with her while she had a snack, and we had a little chat about the human need to sleep through the night.

She started in again, for a few minutes around 5 on Sunday morning, but I didn’t get up until about six.

There was a brilliantly red sky for the sunrise, which made me figure we were in for some weather.

Baked biscuits in the morning. The American kind, not the British kind.

Wrote 2643 words on CAST IRON MURDER. Just over 100 were an insert on yesterday’s chapter; I realized I hadn’t planted the first part of a clue, so I had to go back and do that, or an upcoming scene won’t make sense.

In the outline for the second book in the series I’ve been working on, I originally planned to kill off the husband of this book’s murder victim, because he’s annoying. However, as I’ve been writing CAST IRON MURDER, he’s evolving into an interesting enough character, and I’ve invested enough in his development, that I’m thinking he might be fun to keep around as a character one can love to hate, who sometimes has redeemable moments. So now I have to come up with a new victim for the second book, and decide if that victim was the intended victim, or if the victim was killed by accident, because the murderer though it was this other character. For a while, I thought it would be the wrong person who initially got killed, and then the right person (because I can’t have a single body drop in the next book, I need at least two), but I’m rethinking the whole plot.

Something to ponder the next time I go to the laundromat and work on the outline.

If it makes more sense to kill this guy off, even though I’ve invested in him, that’s what I’ll do. But if it makes an interesting story to keep him around for a few more books before I kill him off, maybe I’ll do that.

I like having options.

I’m on page nine of my twelve-page outline for CAST IRON MURDER, and worried I’m running out of plot while only being a bit over a third of the way through my projected word count. Fortunately, the sequence in which my characters are currently engaged will take at least two, possibly three chapters.

CAST IRON MURDER definitely has passages that make it a “not quite cozy” rather than a cozy, because the book deals with race, and has references to sexuality and sexual choices in it, although I expect most of the sex will happen behind closed doors, once the protagonist falls for someone.

I find the terms “clean cozy” and “clean romance” rather vomit-inducing, because it suggests that all sex is somehow “dirty” and “unclean” and I disagree with that delineation. People can have all the different kinds of fun they want in their sex lives, and if they chose to call it “dirty” or “nasty” or whatever, that’s up to them. But to define books as “clean” meaning the characters are chaste and sexless not by choice but by publisher or reader demand is way too evangelical and censored for my taste. Also, I find a lot of those books unbelievable, because if people are in a healthy, romantic relationship, it often involves a healthy sex life, and to pretend that part of their lives doesn’t exist is unhealthy. There are plenty of stories where the tone makes more sense for the details of the sex lives not to be portrayed, but to deny the characters even have sex lives, unless a character has chosen celibacy or is ace (and let’s face it, dealing honestly with an ace character would make the readers who like to bully and  censor cozies take up arms, too) is a turnoff for me. Some writers can pull it off with great skill, but there are plenty of authors who, in my opinion, don’t. I’m also sick of militant reader groups trying to bully authors. Read whatever you want. Don’t bully authors into writing the way you want them to write. You can support or not support an author by where you place your money. But telling them how to write the books is not okay. You want to read a certain kind of book and can’t find it? Write it your damn self. Learn what it takes to actually write a book, instead of bullying those who already do.

So I keep trying different authors, and I keep crossing authors off my future TBR list when what they do does not work for me. And sometimes, an author’s books will work for multiple books until, suddenly, it takes a turn, and it doesn’t anymore.

Writers have the right to write whatever they want (or whatever they choose to write, because they’re being paid appropriately). I have the right not to read it. As anyone who finds my books and stories don’t work for them has the right not to read mine.

That doesn’t mean I’ll publicly trash them, unless they start a public fight with me. But I’ll stop reading them, or buying their books or recommending them in the various forms in which I recommend books.

At one point on Sunday afternoon, I was lying on the couch, with Tessa purring beside me. Charlotte jumped into my lap. For a minute, they considered fighting, but then they decided not to. Charlotte settled on my lap, Tessa stayed beside me. I figured 30 seconds to a minute of peace, but we stayed there nearly an hour, until Tessa decided she wanted her dinner. Progress.

Up early Monday, thanks to Tessa, but got a lot done. We were supposed to have snow flurries, so I planned not to leave the house. Didn’t see any; if they were around, they didn’t stick.

Wrote 2770 words on CAST IRON MURDER, and even liked a decent percentage of them.

Had to reformat some of my comic script samples, because somehow, they managed to wonk, in both .doc and PDF formats, and I needed to send those samples to a potential client. So that took up more time than I wanted.

Once those were fixed and out the door, I turned my attention back to “A Rare Medium. I had just one more scene to write on it, and it was taking some interesting turns.

I stopped long enough to make roasted parsnip and apple soup. It’s a Kripalu recipe, by Chef Jeremy Rock Smith. I had a difference of opinion with the immersion blender, and the blender won, leaving the kitchen a mess, so I didn’t take any photographs, but the soup tastes good.

After lunch, I went back to work on the script for a bit, took a quick break on the acupressure mat, and then got back to work. I finished the draft just after 4. Later than I’d hoped, but it felt so good to get it done. Now, it can sit for a week or two before I do revisions, and I’ll still get it in by deadline.

Finished the leftover meatloaf for dinner.

I took a basic astrology class from The Sisters Enchanted in the evening. I needed to brush up on basics, and see where I had gone off track in the layering of the houses with the birth chart with the planets, and then, of course, the transits/retrogrades go over the top. They didn’t add in the transits, but the rest was a good basic refresher of those first three layers.

I remember when I had a professional astrologer read my chart in NYC years ago, a one-hour session took three hours, because she found my chart so complex and interesting.

Another project for winter: untangling my birth chart for a better understanding.

Of course, the astrology books are in storage, and I can’t get at them until spring.

Anyway, TSE has a four-month astrology program that would be interesting, but it’s out of my budget right now. Not that I think they should lower their prices; they’re running a business, deserve to be paid, and charge a fair price. But that doesn’t keep it from being out of my budget at the moment. Which is fine, when the time is right, I’ll take it.

Why does astrology matter? Isn’t it just woo-woo b.s.? It’s often used that way. But it’s information that can help see patterns and make smarter choices. Too many people use astrology as an excuse for their bad behavior. Their chart says X, Y, Z, so they’re not responsible for their behavior, which is a load of crap. Others use it as a reason not to do anything, not to make decisions, because it’s all “fixed” which is also crap.

What it does is give information as to tendencies in behavior and reactive patterns, based on influences and stresses in the chart. If I keep having a response to a set of stressors (which are also affected by environmental and nurturance factors), I can look at my chart and see influences for those stressors. Then, when I feel them, I can stop, take a breath, realize that this is a reactive pattern that does not serve me, and make a smarter choice in my behavior and responses. And, in areas that support positive explorations and choices, I can lean into the support of those influences.

It’s information, to be used or ignored.

There’s also a lot of math involved, which makes me cringe, but hey, the stars and planets have a lot to do with math and science.

I wanted to bask in the afterglow of class, but because I’d spent so much time on the book and the play, I still had script coverage to write up. Got that done. I was about to sign off for the night when I got in an irritating email about something that I thought had been resolved.

Instead of reacting angrily in the moment, I closed out for the night. I will prepare a professional, considered response today and send it during business hours.

Because boundaries, and working to break negative patterns.

Had trouble falling asleep last night, even though tired, and then dreamed of hotels. I’m pretty sure this hotel complex has been in previous dreams. Whatever.

Up at 5, woke up on my own, just before Tessa began singing her morning opera scales.

2378 words on CAST IRON MURDER, and I even like some of them.

I’m dashing out to the grocery store soon, because it looks like we’re getting in some weather, and I want to be done before it hits. I’m taking a cooking class online tonight, via NYU Alumni, and I need to get the ingredients.

More script coverage when I get back, email, LOIs, and then on to the next play.

Peace, friends, and catch you tomorrow.

Thurs. Oct. 14, 2021: Enchanted Wordsmiths

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

Yesterday was not as productive as I hoped. There was a popular phrase in the 70’s: “My get up and go got up and went.” That was me, yesterday.

Weather-y post over on Gratitude and Growth.

I got through a bunch of emails in the morning.

I took the time to create the above logo for a Writers’ Group I started for Nano, Enchanted Wordsmiths, and chose a header background of maps.

The sun was out for a bit, so I took a walk down to the post office to mail bills and catch up on what’s going on in town, and then headed over to the library to drop off and pick up books. I walked back down Church Street, as I love to do, enjoying the architecture, and, now, the decorating.

Home, read for a bit until lunchtime. Was wiped out, for no good reason.

Remote Chat was fun.

Did my journaling prep for the Soul Expedition. In the online group, there are already people making excuses about not doing the prep. Energy vampires, the lot of them. At least I know who to avoid during the expedition. I’m there to dig deep and replenish energy, not allow strangers to leech it off, because they can’t be bothered to do the work, and want to siphon off the energy from those who do.

Got the deadlined script coverages out, and read another script.

Received a DM on the Twitter account, haranguing me for posting to offer condolences to people grieving, support people struggling, and celebrate people’s triumphs. I was accused of “performative niceness” which doesn’t even make sense. If I can take 90 seconds out of my day to offer comfort to someone who is sad or hurting or struggling, why wouldn’t I? And why wouldn’t I be happy when someone succeeds in their dream? Sharing sorrows and celebrating joys is part of the reason I’m on social media.

It wasn’t worth arguing, so I just blocked the person. Arguing with them is not worth my time. It exasperated me as much as it bothered me. If someone doesn’t like the way I interact, they can choose not to follow me. Or block me. This wasn’t someone I regularly interacted with, anyway.

Did another block this morning, a self-styled “marketing guru” who was being an ass.

The block button takes a lot of stress out of my life.

The friend whose trip up here was cancelled due to Hurricane Ida is rescheduling for Halloween weekend, so that will be fun.

Went to bed early, because I was so exhausted. Pandemic fatigue strikes again.

Tessa woke me up at 3:30 and I discovered Spectrum internet was down. Again. Put in my repair tag, and tried to doze on the couch, but Tessa and Charlotte fussed at each other. I fed everyone at 5:30 and got going on my day.

Meditation group this morning, which I definitely need. I’m going to get my script coverages done this morning, because we have to do the prep for my mom’s COVID booster this afternoon. I’m expecting her down for the count the rest of the day today and then tomorrow, and have adjusted my schedule accordingly.

I need to work on the short articles and do a little more script coverage before the end of the week. I need to devote the weekend to the outline for CAST IRON MURDER, and unpack/decorate some more.

Since my friend is coming to visit, I need to get it done in the next two weeks!

Have a good one.

Published in: on October 14, 2021 at 7:24 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Oct. 14, 2021: Enchanted Wordsmiths  
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Wed. Sept. 8, 2021: I Have a Lovely Postman

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Partly cloudy and pleasant

Yesterday was busy, but it was a good busy, not a nasty busy.

I had a good first writing session, I got out some LOIs. Still have a lot of email to catch up on which came in over the weekend. Got some administrative work done.

It was a pleasant day, so I walked to the post office to mail bills. More people are wearing masks even outside again, and the laundromat, which was busy, was full of the masked. Which is a good thing, not a complaint. But I’m a little sad we’re back that. However, I’m grateful that people are being considerate, and not fussing.

Mailed the bills, dropped off/picked up books at the library. Found some books on the free cart which looked kind of fun, and also found a bunch of information on local farms/growers/markets and local, independent newspapers, including one that has a lot of arts information and bookstore information for upstate New York, Vermont, and the Berkshires. I am relieved to see how many arts organizations are requiring proof of vaccination AND masking to attend events.

Walked back along Church Street, which is always a joy, because of the beautiful architecture and yards. Ran into my lovely postman, who introduced me to the woman who lives in one of my favorite houses on the street. She is as lovely as her house.

I’m reading the published journals of an actor with whom I was acquainted, back years ago in New York. He died, quite a few years ago now (although it seems recent). I was shaken by his death, because I had respected his work and enjoyed our conversations when we crossed paths. I kind of wish I wasn’t reading his journals, because, bluntly, he’s a selfish shit who treated people (especially the women in his life) badly. He was a parasite in his relationships, finding a woman to be the “backbone” of his career, at the detriment to her own. Yes, it was her choice, but still, that’s not my idea of a partnership. Goodness knows, enough have tried to drain me that way, having me “handle” their careers and their work at the detriment to my own. They got kicked to the curb pretty quickly, because that is not the kind of partnership in which I want to participate.

I think far less of him than I did, and yet, I can’t stop reading. Which shows what a compelling person/writer he was, in spite of it all.

It gave me the idea for a short story, for which I jotted some notes, so I wouldn’t lose it.

Got out some script coverage, read some more scripts.

I have a day out and about today, and will catch up tomorrow. Hopefully, I will be back in time to attend the Straw Dog Authors’ Showcase via Zoom tonight. I’m looking forward to hearing local authors read, although I’m sad I’ll miss Remote Chat.

Have a good one, people. We’re supposed to have some yucky weather tomorrow.

Published in: on September 8, 2021 at 6:21 am  Comments Off on Wed. Sept. 8, 2021: I Have a Lovely Postman  
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Wed. Sept. 1, 2021: September!

image courtesy of Open Clip Art Vectors via pixabay.com

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cool

It’s September! I love autumn!

The contrasts are so different. On Cape, people put on shorts as of April 1, even if it was still snowing. They’d march around in shorts and Uggs, if necessary, from April 1 until November. Here, this week, people were already wearing jackets. It’s entertaining.

I’m pleased with the work I did on the outline yesterday morning at the laundromat. There’s too much distraction to actually write scenes, but I can read there, and now I found out I can outline. Because I’m going to make use of the time.

I like how this piece is shaping. I’m working on outlines for three very different pieces, although all in the same genre, while getting back on track with the other pieces, and continuing to work on the novel-out-of-my-wheelhouse first thing every morning. I’m getting back into my creativity.

I slept better last night, because I wasn’t reading scripts up until bedtime. When I do that, there’s too much noise from other people’s work in my head, and it gets in the way of my own. So I need a longer stretch between stopping my reading for the night and sleep. Perhaps I’ll add in a creative session of my own (longhand, not screen).  I need my own work to have room to breathe and percolate overnight as I sleep.

I can read finished, published work up until I sleep, no problem. But drafts, where I’m supposed to comment, or work for review — I need a gap, or something different, between finishing that work for the night and going to sleep. Or it interferes with my work. And protecting my own work/voice/creativity is the priority.

The rest of the morning was spent in bureaucracy. Necessary, but annoying. Lots of paperwork to do, connected to the move.

Headed out to the post office to mail the bureaucracy, then to the library, to pick up a book on hold. Once there, I discovered that I’d walked out of the house without my wallet AGAIN. I offered to go back to get my card, but they let me check out the book without it.

I leave my wallet at home too often lately. That has to stop. Once is a genuine mistake. Multiple times is carelessness and stupidity, and I don’t have room for those kinds of errors. I keep things in the same place, and have a preparation ritual to go out the door, so it is inexcusable to have left my wallet home, now, multiple times.

Headed for a big grocery shop to Stop and Shop, getting in what I need for the cooking/baking for my friend’s visit. Headed to Wild Oats for a few more things. Will have to do a trip to Big Y tomorrow for some stuff I couldn’t find, and then another swing by Wild Oats to get some stuff I want fresher than sitting around from Tuesday to the weekend.

My downstairs neighbor-one-over gave me some produce from her garden, and it is yummy! So, when I bake cookies tomorrow, I’ll make some extra for her.

Read for about an hour in the afternoon. Was supposed to attend a virtual networking event, but couldn’t get the Zoom link to work. Turned out it was a Spectrum problem – there were trucks on the street. I’ll have to send an apology to the organizer today.

I have a lot of script coverage to complete today, and a couple of writeups. Tomorrow is my last day to get anything written up, so that I have the whole weekend off. I’m looking forward to the break.

This afternoon, I’m looking forward to Remote Chat!

Published in: on September 1, 2021 at 7:09 am  Comments Off on Wed. Sept. 1, 2021: September!  
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Wed. Aug. 25, 2021: Still Drippy and Humid

image courtesy of pasja1000 via pixabay.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Foggy, hot, humid

I forgot to mention something good from Monday. The Marie Corelli biography I ordered secondhand in Ohio, from the bookstore who had it at a price I could afford, arrived. The description made it sound like a sad copy, but it’s great! I’m so excited to read it.

I struggled with WordPress yesterday. It just would not cooperate.

Went over to the college library to return books and get new books. Found some eBooks that would be helpful in my research. Hopefully, I can check them out. Came home and realized the bill for the tolls for moving was due, so I wrote the check and dashed down the street to the post office.

On this walk, it was the first time the warning bells went off in regard to another pedestrian. A guy a few yards ahead of me set off those bells. Now, I lived on the Deuce in NYC a good long time, and I know to listen to the signals. And, as small and friendly as this city is, it IS a city, and I have to remain alert. Every woman who’s ever had to walk alone can relate.

Anyway, the guy was on the other side of the street at first. I didn’t like the way he stopped and turned to gaze after a woman who walked by him, like she was his next meal. He swaggered on. Then, he crossed to my side of the street, and started slowing down.

At the next crosswalk, I crossed to the other side and went into my new bank. He sort of meandered around on the opposite side of the street for a minute or two, then took off again.

I waited, then resumed my journey. The post office was on my side of the street now anyway. He was on the other side of the street. He saw me, and started slowing down. I’m thinking, “Aw, man, I’m gonna have to dropkick him, aren’t it?” hoping I haven’t gotten too rusty.

But then, a cop steps out of a doorway and the guy walks right into him. The cop talks to him, glancing over the guy’s head at me. For the record, we were all white. The guy mumbles something and rabbits off down a side street. The cop lifts his hand in greeting to me. I do the same in return, and go on my way to the post office.

Mailed my letter, walked the couple of extra blocks to the library, dropped off my book, got a Sarah Addison Allen book. I’ve read it, but I’m in the mood for her work.

Walked back along Church Street, among the lovely houses. Saw my delightful postman, and we waved across the street. Enjoyed the architecture and everyone’s plants, and how they’re sprucing up and loving these old, lovely buildings.

Whenever I see someone on their porch or in their yard, and they notice me looking at the house, I call out, “I love the (detail) you have.” They immediately brighten up, and usually tell me the story behind it, which is interesting. It’s a nice way to get to know the neighborhood. And the neighbors.

But I’m tired of the humidity.

Of course, as soon as I was home, I got an alert that a book arrived for me at the library I just left. Isn’t that always the way? Well, if that’s the most annoying thing in the day, not bad. Of course, it wasn’t the most annoying, just another mosquito of annoyance.

Frustrated by a recruiter contacting me for the same information I sent when she contacted me yesterday. Big red flag. At first I re-sent everything, pointing out I’d sent it yesterday (and the email acknowledging it). A little later, I pulled myself out of consideration. Not worth it.

I’m tired of unprepared recruiters wasting my time. I’m tired of companies demanding that the copywriter have Adobe Creative Suite experience in order to create graphics for copy. No, that’s the designer’s job. Stop combining jobs with different skills and trying to hire one person at 1/3 of the rate that ONE of those jobs should be paid. Too many companies have learned NOTHING from the pandemic, and deserve to lose talent.

I didn’t write up enough script coverage; I concentrated on reading. So today, I have to make up for it, and have a boatload of coverage to write up. In order not to get overwhelmed, I will look at the individual coverages, and do something different in between them.

But no faffing around today. I also have administrative and unpacking work to do. And I have to run a check over to the TD bank in Williamstown, because the fucking app they FORCED me to put on my phone isn’t working properly for deposits. I will be so glad when we are finished with that bank.

Feeling burned out, especially since I know I have to work through the weekend this week. But that’s the way it goes, and at least I have the flexibility to do that, so I can enjoy spending time with a friend over Labor Day weekend for the first time since before the pandemic.

I will buckle down and do the work instead of faffing around today. Hopefully, it won’t be too humid. That’s what really slows me down. I do not deal with humidity well. Hopefully, when it cools into autumn weather, my energy will return.

Looking forward to Remote Chat. Always a bright spot in my week.

Published in: on August 25, 2021 at 7:43 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 25, 2021: Still Drippy and Humid  
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Wed. Aug. 4, 2021: Appreciating the Neighborhood’s Architecture

image courtesy of hadijoyce via pixabay.com

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Cloudy/hazy and cool

It’s cool in the early mornings and in the evenings. Not Autumn cool, but cool. It’s nice. It’s supposed to get warm and humid over the weekend and into next week, so I’m enjoying this while I can.

Got some work done in the early morning. Late morning, I took a stroll down to the post office. They are now requiring masks to enter, which is a good thing. I continued up the hill to the public library, where I dropped off books and took my time browsing to pick up new books (masked, of course). The staff has always been masked, and more patrons are now masked than even a couple of weeks ago.

I took my time walking home (“home” – what a wonderful word) along Church Street, basking in the wonderful architecture and plants. There’s a roof that’s all painted tile – I’ll have to go back and photograph it, it’s gorgeous. There’s so much detail in the trim on these houses, and carvings in the porticos. Really beautiful, even in the houses that need a little TLC. The architecture in the photo at the top of this post reflects what’s in this neighborhood, even though it’s a stock photo and not of this actual neighborhood.

Drove over to Wild Oats Market to drop off my membership paperwork. Discovered that they have a Little Free Library there, which makes me like them even more. Picked up a few things at Stop & Shop. I was planning to only get oat milk, eggs, butter – but I wound up buying four bags’ worth of stuff. We’ll use it all, so it’s not a problem. I have one eye on what we need immediately, and one eye on what we’ll need, should we need to isolate in a few weeks, be it from COVID, the weather, or a combination.

I keep honing and changing the slides for Friday’s class – all part of the process. Putting the images with them will be fun, but time-consuming, and that’s a big part of today’s work.

Read two scripts, which means I have three coverages to write, and I’ll have to get at least some of that done today.

Made pizza for dinner, because I was too tired to cook.

There’s more RWA chaos going on. Makes me glad I never joined the organization. It’s got to be heart wrenching for the people who’ve put so much time, energy, and affection into it.

I haven’t commented on the Olympics at all because I’m not watching any of it. I disagree with the choice to go forward with the games, and am therefore not watching it. Which also leads to me not engaging in any discussions about it, because the only information I have is second or third hand. So I am shutting the hell up.

Slept well. Was eager to get back to the writing, but the 1K wasn’t easy this morning. At the end of yesterday’s session, I thought I knew where I was going with the next scene – which, this morning, I decided to skip, because it really didn’t drive the story or reveal character in a way that I needed. So, while I had most of it in my head, none of it went on the page, and I went on to the next scene. 

Skipped my yoga this morning, which was a big mistake, so might do a longer session in the late afternoon, before dinner.

I found out that my public library card allows me access to the Williams College Library, which makes me so happy. Between the college library across the street and Williams College Library, I should be able to do all the research I need on Marie Collier for my play. I have most of what I need for the Dawn Powell/Dorothy Parker play, but I have to re-read the material in order to form the rest of the play. I have a strong opening for it, with a good tone, and now I need the details for the rest of it.

Remote Chat is today, which is always fun.

I’ve been spending far too much time on social media lately, mostly because of the general sense of burnout and malaise I still feel, and need to cut back. It doesn’t make me feel better, just more fatigued, even though there are a lot of people whose virtual company I enjoy.

But it’s getting in the way of the work, and the work is starting to feel better, finally. Protecting the work is important; therefore, I have to make choices to support that protection.

Back to the page – well, the class slides, anyway. Have a great day.

Published in: on August 4, 2021 at 7:55 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 4, 2021: Appreciating the Neighborhood’s Architecture  
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