Wed. May 11, 2022: House and Home

image courtesy of kmcremeans via pixabay.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and lovely

I was out the door by 7:15 yesterday morning, because I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get to the mechanic. I got there in 15 minutes, found it, no problem.

In other words, I was there before they were.

They didn’t mind that I waited for them, and got me settled on their too comfortable couch while they got their day sorted out and then looked at the car. It took four hours, because they had to be methodical about it. The previous mechanic had given a vague code reference, and they had to go down a checklist to find out what the actual problem was. It’s a much simpler fix than the other guy warned (which also means less expensive). They did a temporary fix so I could drive without worry, ordered the part, and I go in next Wednesday for the fix.

During those four hours, I just chilled out on the couch with my book and watched how well they interacted with their customers. They know most of them by name, and have a great rapport. With me, they were nice, straightforward, and everything made sense.

They will also replace the battery in my key that went out a couple of years back, where I was told it could only be done by the dealer and cost $300. They will fix it for $13.

On the way home, I stopped at the store and picked up some stuff, including a hanging birdbath for the back balcony and a rug for the enclosed front porch.

After lunch, we got in the car and headed out to Whitney’s Farm, where we spent too much on plants. But boy, is the place gorgeous! Then, of course, we had to buy more pots for the plants. We weren’t back until well after 3. But I’d blocked off the whole day, and it was nice not to worry about anything.

Spent the late afternoon on the porch, reading. Knowledge Unicorns was fine. Only a few more weeks, and we are done. Of course, that’s what we though in 2020 and 2021.

This morning, I was up early and at the laundromat. Windows 11 has decided to install, so who knows how long that will take. I’d hoped to get some work done before I head out to the library and the grocery store, but we’ll see.

It’ supposed to get into the high 80’s later this week, so it’s time to switch out from the flannel sheets mid-week instead of over the weekend, and to really set up the front porch and back balcony enchanted gardens.

I don’t have scripts in my queue to worry about, and, while I should worry about that, I’m enjoying taking it a little slow and doing things around the house. Once the Windows Update is installed, I’ll get some writing done, too.

I’ll write about it all in more detail in tomorrow’s Gratitude and Growth post.

I have a tarot reading up on Ko-fi about handling the Mercury Retrograde with grace.

Have a good one!

Tues. March 29, 2022: Washer Woes

image courtesy of Ryan McGuire via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Waning Moon

Cloudy and cold

Fairly quiet weekend. There’s a March wrap up over on the GDR site, posted early, even though we still have a few days left in the month, and I’m just trying to steadily do the work.

It wasn’t a good writing day on Friday, sadly. Oversleeping threw off the morning for me. But I did write and turn in another book review, and cover a script. Did a bunch of admin work. Put the seedlings out on the porch. It’s still too cold at night to leave them. I received an internal promotion and a pay bump from a big client.

Tessa woke me early on Saturday. I moved to the couch and overslept. The sun overcame the clouds, so we could put the seedlings on the porch, at least for a few hours. More seeds are germinating (more on that in Thursday’s garden post.

Had to go to the pharmacy to pick up my mom’s prescription. Because the weather was good, I went on foot, and then I took a different route from there to the library, to learn more about the town. I found some interesting restaurants and stores that I will visit at leisure in the future.

Dropped off/picked up books at the library.

In the afternoon, I tried reading a book that was supposed to be an exciting, twisty thriller getting a lot of buzz. I figured it out less than a third of the way through, and lost patience with the characters for not catching on. Checked the ending, to make sure I was right (yes, I was). That’s back in the return pile. Tried another book that came highly recommended, but it’s written in present tense, which I loathe, and, since I’m not being paid to read it, it goes back in the return pile.

Returned to reading contest entries, which was fun. It started raining in the late afternoon, so we brought the seedlings in. Crockpot chicken was a good choice.

Up early on Sunday, baked biscuits. Charlotte, or maybe Willa, chomped on some of the cucumber seedlings, so I’m trying to recuse them. A member of the extended family in Maine is very ill. I’ve kept a distance since the lack of support around the move last year, but I don’t want this person to be ill.

It snowed off and on all day. Sometimes flurries, sometimes intensely. In a break between it, I did a run to the liquor store and to get burgers. Bad choice on the burgers, and I was miserable all afternoon. Red meat and I are no longer friends. And yet, every few months, I crave it. But fresh trout for dinner was a better choice.

I covered a script in the afternoon, and then returned to working on contest entries. I ordered snapdragon seeds and marigold seeds. That means I have to go out and get more pots and soil next week, when I go to get the tomato cages. I set up the acknowledgements file for CAST IRON MURDER and for the retro mystery. Starting a document for acknowledgements early in the process saves a lot of panic later on.

Tessa woke me on Monday at 5:30, which is a perfect time. The usual early morning routine of writing in longhand, yoga, meditation. Blogged.

It started sunny, but too cold to put the seedlings out. More seedlings are sprouting, which is lovely. I got through some admin work. Didn’t get much done on The Big Project. Revised the next three chapters of CAST IRON MURDER. Worked on the grant proposal. I need to flesh it out some more today, and put material connected to the proposal up on one of my websites. I don’t have information on the stage and radio plays up on a website, and I should.

I also played with the MailerLite site, and worked on the newsletter, which will go out in a day or so (since it’s the end of the quarter and all). If you haven’t yet signed up and would like to, newsletter signup is here.

Received the next book for review. Started a script coverage. There’s not much in the queue, which worries me a bit, but also takes off some of the pressure. Worked on contest entries.

Noodled with some ideas for the play I have to start on Friday as part of the Dramatists Guild project. Noodled with some ideas for the Monthology story.

The Tamed Wild box arrived. In it, was a Rose of Jericho plant. I’ve put it in water, and it’s unfurling. Fascinating. It’s not a plant with which I have much familiarity.

Up early this morning, before Tessa even got started. Was out of the house and on the way to the laundromat early. Ended up spending more time there than planned, because the machine I used was stuck on “rinse” for 15 minutes, and then didn’t spin out properly, so the wash was soaking wet (no sink in the building, no techs). I had to have it in the dryer on high for an hour. I put a note on the machine, so that no one else has to go through this.

I brought the pages done so far on The Big Project with me, and worked on them while at the laundromat. I got a lot done.

Home to find more seeds are sprouting. It’s very exciting.

Today’s list items include work on The Big Project, revisions on CAST IRON MURDER, another revision of the grant proposal, putting information up on the website, a polish on the newsletter, and a script coverage. I might do some more contest entries, if I get the chance.

It’s supposed to start warming up again over the next few days. Let’s hope this was winter’s last gasp, and I can get the seedlings out on the front porch, and set up the enchanted garden on the back balcony sooner rather than later.

Have a good one.

Tues. March 22, 2022: Challenging Start to the Week

image courtesy of Paul Barlow via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and pleasant

There’s a post on the GDR site about being the architect of your life.

I hope you had a good weekend, and a blessed Equinox. Now, we’ll really see the gains in daylight, since it’s tipping toward longer light.

Friday was a mixed day. Very foggy in the morning. Not fun to make my way to the mechanic when I couldn’t use the broken windshield wiper. But I got there.

The wiper was easily fixed. But the engine light issue, not so much. As long as the light stays steady and doesn’t blink, I can continue to drive short distances. The mechanic thinks it’s a fuel pump issue, but they can’t even get me in for a diagnostic for another month. They suggested a mechanic in Williamstown, who specializes in foreign cars. It’s the second time that mechanic has been suggested to me. I am trying to get an appointment.

Stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and restocked our food supply.

Moved the plants back out on the porch, and even opened the windows once it warmed up enough.

Did some client blogging, and roughed out the next edition of Devon’s Random Newsletter, which should go out this week. I think I wrote too much, so will probably edit it back.

Worked on a recipe for strawberry-vanilla mousse. It tastes quite good, but doesn’t look appealing. Nor did it set properly. Ever. I think the acid from the fresh strawberries had something to do with it. So I need to adjust the recipe, and figure out how to make it look better without using artificial colors.

In the afternoon, one neighbor was working on a new piano composition. Another neighbor was on her front porch, playing her guitar. I worked on script coverage. It was a great vibe. Everyone in their own space, but knowing people around them were doing creative work.

Fresh cod for dinner on Friday night, with rice and steamed spinach. Yummy.

Throughout the weekend, I did some cleaning here and there, but nowhere like the intense spring cleaning I planned. The Plan was to start in the kitchen and work forward doing intense deep cleaning. But I spent more time unpacking and organizing things than in deep clean mode.

It kept raining and then not on Saturday, and I didn’t feel like going out, so I didn’t. I did regular housework and changed the beds and did some unpacking and organizing. I made more vegetable stock. I finished reading a novel I’d started that was recommended by an acquaintance over at VOGUE. I liked a lot of the book, especially relating to the characters and what they were going through. I got ahead of the plot a little too quickly, and there were some chapters where way too much backstory was info-dumped, instead of being integrated into the overall story. I liked more than I didn’t, but it’s not a book I’d rave about. Went through some other books for research on various projects, and put them back in the pile for the library.

Percolated on the retro mystery for a bit. I’m creating a new name for my fictional community and putting in some lines as to how the creator of it is in competition with The Spruces. This will give me the flexibility I need for plot and character and even some geographic deviations. The application for The Spruces was careful and thorough. I want my fictional community to be a little more raucous and freewheeling. On Monday morning, I did some research on different mobile homes, and I found the one I want for my central protagonist: a three bedroom, with a second story for her main bedroom and a roof deck, with a patio downstairs, two bedrooms, a bath, a kitchen, and the living room. I need to go back to the library and look at the dimension widths for the homes that remained in the park. On the road, they could only be 8’ wide, but if they weren’t meant to move? Could they be 10’? When I did my research, I wrote down the length, but not the width.

Sunday was the Spring Equinox. I kept the celebrations simple. It was cloudy most of the day, so I decided not to run errands that day, either. I did some more unpacking and organizing.

I spent a good portion of the day going through a research book I’ve had out of the library for months (I am allowed 99 renewals on it). But I felt like I should go through it thoroughly and return it. I got 9 pages of notes on one project, and images that are relevant to three projects, so it definitely was worth taking the time with it.

I did a chipotle chicken in the crockpot, which was yummy. I do love my crockpot.

I’m slowly working my way through ATLAS OF THE HEART, which was recommended by the leader of the Thursday meditation group. It’s not an easy book. There are things which resonate strongly with me. There are other things with which I disagree. The third category is the most problematic because they resonate, even though I don’t like them! But they make sense. Definitely a worthwhile book, albeit not an easy one.

Up early on Monday, on my own. Got the morning routine going, in spite of going down another research rabbit hole with The Spruces.

I had a long list of errands that needed to happen. On the way to the first set, I stopped at the credit union to make a deposit for my mother, in the joint account, on which I am named with Power of Attorney. The teller and the teller supervisor accused me of trying to scam my elderly mother. Even though I have POA, and my mother signed the check (since it was made out to her), and marked it for deposit. Because I am named for my mother, and therefore must be trying to scam her, because heaven forbid a daughter have the same first name as a mother. If I was a man named for my father, this would never be a problem. Because misogyny. I had to go home, get the check stub and the letter that came with the check TO MAKE A DEPOSIT INTO A JOINT SAVINGS ACCOUNT. On top of that, they’re going to hold the money until the end of the month “to make sure the check is real.” It’s from a major company in the Midwest. On top of that, they said she should have come in to make the deposit herself. First of all, she’s 97. That’s why it’s a joint account and I have POA. So that she doesn’t have to come in herself. Second, none of the staff is masking. Why would I put her at risk in a pandemic? As usual, they are inappropriate.

EVERY interaction with Greylock Federal Credit Union since we opened the account has been unnecessary drama. Why would I want to keep our money in an establishment that treats me like a criminal instead of a customer? The whole point of being with a credit union is because their mission is to treat their members like individuals.

Not Greylock.

As soon as I can legally move the money, I will. It will be a nightmare to open yet another account and switch everything over.  I’m starting the research now. But it’s necessary. Because my mother is 97. I hope she’s around for a long time, but when she does go, how much you want to bet they’d refuse access to the JOINT ACCOUNT so I could pay the bills for the funeral? What about when I start traveling again? How much do you want to bet they’ll leave me stranded somewhere, even though I will have given them the information about the trip in advance? Not to mention that, as a legal adult (for decades now), I shouldn’t have to get the bank’s “permission” to travel.

NONE of this is about security. ALL of it is about control.

The Annual Meeting is tonight. Part of me is exhausted at the very thought of attending. Part of me wants to go in there and tell them off. Yet again. I have brought up these issues before, and they “feel bad” that I have a bad experience with them, but never adjust their behavior.

I have ALWAYS been polite in dealing with them, even when they frustrated and insult me. And EVERY transaction is an absolute nightmare of unnecessary drama.

If I was rich and laundering money through them, they’d let me do anything I want.

Part of being the architect of my own life is only dealing with businesses that treat me with basic human respect and decency. The credit union does not. Therefore, I need to take my business (small as it is) elsewhere.

After it took the hour plus to get sorted what should have been a basic deposit, I did the rest of my errands: the liquor store, the library. Did a pass through the thrift store, hoping for some cute plant pots, but they didn’t have any in stock. Went to another store, where I found pots, potting soil, and even got some morning glory and moonflower seeds.

It meant I didn’t have to drive to another store I thought I’d have to visit, for the soil and the pots. So that saved time, energy, and stress on the car.

After lunch, I planted eight pots with seven kinds of seeds (I’ll discuss it in detail in this Thursday’s post on Gratitude and Growth). It was lovely out on the porch, so we moved all the pots out there in the sun. I updated the plant journal. I’m trying to be more consistent with it. Keeping it in a 3-ring binder instead of a spiral-bound notebook makes it easier.

There were plenty of things I “should” have been doing in the afternoon, although I was well in the zone, deadline-wise. So I cut myself a break, read a book I really wanted to read for fun, and watched the clouds roll by. Being up in the mountains is fun, because the clouds are low enough to really observe.

Tessa started howling as soon as I went to bed. I got up, sat with her while she ate her bedtime snack, and waited until she fell asleep before sneaking off to bed. I was awake on my own just before five this morning, and she was happy.

Took the laundry to the laundromat in the rolly cart. The moon was still out and shining brightly when I left. They’d adjusted the lights to the time change, finally, although the clock is still an hour behind. Got a nice chunk of edits done on CAST IRON MURDER, in spite of some guy coming in to do his laundry who kept trying to talk to me. What is it about men that they can’t stand to see a woman involved in something that isn’t them? I had my folder open with a full manuscript of several hundred pages, I was editing hard copy in red pen, it was obvious I was working. Basic greeting and acknowledgement make sense; trying to engage me in conversation when I am obviously working is not. I was polite, but minimal, and made it clear that I WAS WORKING, and not there to hang out and socialize.

I mean, it’s a lot better here than it was on Cape, but still. Read the room, guys. Not everything is about you.

Home, put the clothes away. I only have about two chapters left to edit on CAST IRON MURDER, so I might just go ahead and do that, and then put in some of the fixes I noted in pen this morning, before switching over to The Big Project, and then client work in the afternoon.

Trying to decide if I want to do a run to the library – six books came in after I had done my drop-off/pickup yesterday.

The tansy seeds finally showed up after travelling from Missouri to Massachusetts to Chicago back to the Berkshires. I hope to plant them today. Otherwise, I have to wait until Friday, which is the next planting day.

By the way, any business that is running around with an unmasked staff behaving like the pandemic is over does not get to use “the pandemic” or “supply chain issues” as an excuse for not being competent or fulfilling their responsibilities. Either they acknowledge we are still in a pandemic and follow protocols, or they forfeit the right to use it as an excuse. It doesn’t work both ways.

The Republican racists are in full sail in the hearings for our new SCOTUS. People need to believe them when they show who they are, and remove them.

The week has barely begun and I’m exhausted.

I will make the time for extra meditation today.

Thurs. March 10, 2022: Yet More Snow

image courtesy of Marketa Morchova via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Sunny and snowy

There’s information on the seedlings, ordered seeds, birds, and more, over on Gratitude and Growth.

It snowed most of the day, with much more accumulation than predicted. It’s a heavy, wet snow, and will be hard to dig out my car, especially since the plow is pushing snow up behind it even as we speak.

But I need to pick up my birthday cake, and do not get between me and cake.

Yesterday was kind of a slow day. I sent out three LOIs, and got back two demands for unpaid labor as part of the process. I responded with my contract for tests/samples/assessments, and I’m sure I’ll never hear from them again. I also added them to The List.

I slogged through way too much email, but I’m determined to keep it at manageable levels. I did some work on The Big Project, but not enough, and certainly not as much as I hoped.

Things have been slow with the big client. The contractors supposedly got a raise, yet the work since the “raise” has been much sparser, although there are “options” for pieces at a lower rate. No, thank you. I’ll just work on finding other clients that pay the proper rate to fill the gap.

Turned around a script coverage. Worked on contest entries. Read a book for fun, which had come highly recommended. It was okay, but for the first half, I kept getting too far ahead of the plot, and waiting impatiently for the characters to catch up. The book was okay, hit the genre expectations, but it didn’t grab me the way it did those who recommended it.

Tessa and Charlotte had been doing well there, for a few days, but now they’re fussing at each other again. And someone knocked over the cat grass plant overnight (most likely Willa), so I had to clean that up this morning.

But Tessa let me sleep until six, when she actually came into my room to wake me up. She hates my room here. She loved my room in the other house, because it was huge and carpeted. This is small (it’s fine for sleeping), and there’s a small rug by the side of the bed, but no carpet, and Madame Tessa Does Not Approve. Charlotte is just happy she can sleep on the bed with me here.

Meditation group this morning. Then, after breakfast, I will dig out the car, pick up my cake (and get more eggs, we’re out of eggs). I don’t have any scripts in my queue; if I don’t get another one, my long weekend starts early, at least as far as script coverage goes. Then, I’ll do contest entries and work on The Big Project today.

I’m taking a three-day weekend tomorrow, for my birthday. I have a few loose plans, but mostly, I will do exactly as I wish, and create the days.

The COVID tests I ordered a few days ago are supposed to arrive on Monday, which is fast. The ink was supposed to arrive yesterday, but the snowstorm caused an understandable delay, and it will get here today or tomorrow. The tansy seeds should arrive Saturday.

Next week, we start the big spring cleaning, in and around whatever work has to get done.

Tessa loves the new, fluffy dark green rug in the bathroom. Like I said above, she likes rugs/carpets.

Off to start the day. Hope it’s a calm one. I’m looking forward to being mostly disconnected from online for the next few days. I’m sure I’ll check messages and emails here and there, but I’m going to try to keep away from the horrors going on for a few days, so I can return renewed.

Have a good one.

Fri. March 4, 2022: Working Through The Weekend

image courtesy of Annie Spratt via pixabay.com

Friday, March 4, 2022

Waxing Moon

Partly sunny/cloudy and cold

I dug the car out yesterday morning, and then it snowed again. I nearly cried. But it was only flurries, so it wound up being no big deal.

I couldn’t concentrate because I was so worried about the appointment at the mechanic. I managed to deal with nearly 400 emails and do some research for a new market to submit a story that was rejected. I really like the piece, but it may have been too genre for that first submission. I also might do another editing pass; I truncated some of it to fit the wordcount for the original market, and I think I might expand some of the sensory details before I re-submit.

The anthology editor was pleased with the materials I sent, so that’s a deep breath released. I’m going to write up plot points for each of my two stories; we’re not at the point of writing them, but since I’ve spent so much time in these worlds and collaborating to create for these characters, I want to get the shape and drive of the stories down. Then, when it’s time to write, I can drop back into the worlds and flesh out the stories. I don’t usually outline for short stories, but I think, in this case, I should.

Took CAST IRON MURDER with me to work on at the mechanic’s while he diagnosed the car. Couldn’t really concentrate. Only got about 30 pages done, and I’ll have to look at them again, because I’m not confidant in the work I did.

The car needs a new crank, and the dashboard computer isn’t communicating properly with everything else, but the crank should fix it. The car’s at the garage for a few days. He was nice enough to give me a ride home. The estimate is in my budget, so as long as nothing else goes cattywampus once he gets his hands on the part and gets to work, everything should be sorted out in a week or so.

I hope it’s all fixed by my birthday, so we can go to the local places we want that aren’t in walking distance.

But I guess I’ll be getting groceries on foot again this weekend.

Was wiped out by the time I got home. Heated up some homemade mac and cheese out of the freezer. I think I’ll have to make another big batch; it’s handy to be able to take out portions and they re-heat well.

Started reading the next book for review. I’d given myself off from script coverage yesterday, but I’ll read through the weekend, and ramp up the reading early next week so I can take a three-day weekend next week for my birthday.

Ordered tansy seeds and a night blooming jasmine plant. I wanted to order a patchouli plant, because I love the scent of patchouli, but it was part of a “bundle” that I didn’t want. And then I discovered it grows in zones 9-11. I’m in zones 4-5, so it wouldn’t work unless I built it a mini greenhouse.

Fell into bed exhausted early, which meant, when Charlotte woke me at 3:30, I was wide awake and couldn’t get back to sleep. I’ll pay for that later, but will make use of it now.

I’m going to work on the Big Project this morning, then run some errands. Script coverage and contest entries this afternoon. The second shipment for the contest is on its way, and I want to make sure I get as many of the digital entries from the first batch finished before the second batch arrive.

I’m frustrated at NATO’s lack of action. If they let Ukraine fall — and it will very much be NATO letting it happen – it’s too late. And that opens the path for the Russian assets in the GOP to make their next move, because Merrick Effing Garland won’t do what’s necessary to stop it.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. In addition to the regular work, we discusses the State of the Union, and how it’s possible to disagree with class, and not act like GOP trash.

I’ll be grumpy working through the weekend, but it will be worth it to take a three-day weekend off next week.

Have a good one, and see you on the other side.

Thurs. Feb. 10, 2022: Flexibility is Key

Image courtesy of studioone via pixabay.com

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Snowy and cold

It snowed unexpectedly overnight, so I guess I’m not walking to the grocery store today! Well, that’s why I freelance and work remote, so there’s the capacity for flexibility. Good thing I ordered in extra Chinese food yesterday!

There’s a post about the first seeds that arrived and my plans for them over on Gratitude and Growth.

I cut myself a break yesterday. I got some blogging done in the morning. I stomped to the library – it was more like skating without the right equipment, because the sidewalks are so bad – to drop off/pick up books.

I made a detour to the college library, because a book I was going to pull through Commonwealth Catalogue is supposedly at the college library, and I figured I’d save us all some paperwork and having it move through the system by walking across the street. Only that book is missing from the library, and because I have a Community Card rather than a college card, they can’t get it for me. So I have to pull it through Commonwealth Catalogue anyway.

Tried to find the college bookstore and couldn’t, which was frustrating. I kept following the map directions and ending up in the Athletic Department. They are supposed to be in the same building, but I couldn’t find a hallway or doorway to elevator or anything to get me there.

In the afternoon, I read and wrote up a script, then gave myself the rest of the day off.

I noodled with some outline notes. I need to spend some serious time over the weekend on Scrivener. I’ve picked two projects to use as learning tools to figure out how to navigate my way around. Neither are on hard deadline, so I can relax and take my time with them. They are all projects For the Future.

Finished reading THE MALTESE MANUSCRIPT and read DEATH WITHOUT TENURE. I really like this series.

Started reading a book by a new-to-me author, and am not sure about it yet.

Charlotte didn’t sleep on the bed last night, and she and Tessa came to wake me up at 5:30, which is just perfect. Of course, reading academic mysteries, I dreamed about research in a library all night, and felt like I’d put in a full day by the time I woke up.

Since I’m not going grocery shopping today (can’t maneuver the cart over the snow and ice until they plow), I can use that time to write, after meditation.

The conference needs a new bio, and they are going to be the first people to get the news of The Big Project (which should be available by the time the conference starts).

I have a lot of email, admin work, and correspondence to do today and tomorrow, so I want to get a handle on that. I have one more script I have to cover today, and then I’ll grab one for tomorrow. I also need to read the book for review and get back to contest entries.

The situation with the car weighs heavily on me, but all I can do is the best I can do.

Have a good one!

Fri. Jan. 28, 2022: Blizzard Warning

image courtesy of WildOne via pixabay.com

Friday, January 28, 2022

Waning Moon

Venus & Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Charlotte sat on my lap for meditation yesterday. It was funny.

After breakfast, I bundled up and headed out. It was all the way up to 9 degrees. Ashland Street was better, except for a few difficult spots. The ice mounds that are at property lines on the sidewalks make it difficult to navigate.

Mailed a big stack of cards and notes. Headed up to the library, where I picked up my books, and got an extension on a book I need for a project. Piled all the books in my backpack and walked back on Church Street, literally in the street, because the sidewalks were so bad. When cars came past, I stepped as close to the curb as possible and stopped until they were past. Once I hit college property, the sidewalks were walkable again.

I’ve craved peanut butter for lunch for the past couple of days, and have indulged myself. I’m grateful that I’m not allergic to nuts. I love them.

Got some reading and research done, and some script coverage written up.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. Because of the book banning insanity, now they all want to read MAUS (as they should). Some of them have read it and want to re-read it. So that is our next group project, along with juggling the individual homework assignments.

Tessa woke me at 2:45 this morning, but I fell asleep on the couch again almost immediately.

Today, I’m doing a run to the liquor store, and will stop at Cumberland Farms for a loaf of bread (although I also hope to bake a loaf or two). I want to get it done before the storm stars, and finish writing up my last coverages for the week. I may have to bake bread, if the store is already sold out.

They’d walked back storm predictions yesterday to 3-5 inches for this area. This morning, they are back up to at least a foot, with up to three feet further east and blizzard warnings. People are out and about doing storm prep. I have my pre-storm headache, so although it’s not supposed to start snowing until 11 PM tonight, it might start earlier, according to the pressure in my head.

Venus goes direct tomorrow, thank goodness. Then we just have to hang in there for a few more days of Mercury Retrograde. Once that goes direct, we actually have a little bit of breathing room until April.

Tuesday is Chinese Lunar New Year. Because I worked on so many shows with Asian or mostly Asian casts, that’s become an important day in my personal calendar. This is the year of the Water Tiger, which is what I am, so let’s hope that bodes well!  Wednesday is Imbolc, and I have to decide what will be planted as part of the ritual.

Next week is supposed to be in the forties, so hopefully I can dig out the car, and also get down to the grocery store and do a decent sized shop (although we don’t need that much).

Meanwhile, this weekend, I’m cleaning things up and hopefully getting some more unpacking done. Also working on contest entries, and maybe reading the book for review. I have a stack of books from the library that I want to read just because I want to read them.

I’m worried about the power going off, since we have neither a working fireplace nor a generator. On Cape, we were the only house on our street without one (landlord didn’t feel it was necessary), and National Grid’s attitude was that if we didn’t have a generator, that was on us. Since we haven’t lost power here since we moved in (except for about 5 minutes during a storm), I have no idea how it’s handled. Technically, the gas stove should work, even if the power goes out (It did on Cape). But who knows?

I guess we’re about to find out.

Plenty of blankets and books at the ready. I will adjust what I write to whether it has to be in longhand or can be on the computer.

Have a good one. Catch you next week.

Fri. Jan. 21, 2022: Creative Stretching

image courtesy of Caoha via pixabay.com

Friday, January 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and very cold

Meditation was fine yesterday, with Charlotte sitting on my lap for most of it, participating. She then went back to the rocking chair in my reading corner to go to sleep. I rarely get to use my reading corner anymore, because Charlotte is usually in it.

I signed up for a Zoom reading next week, with a group with whom I’m interested in getting involved. I’m on the wait list to actually read, and I drafted two short poems to read. One needs more work. I need to replace a couple of words with those that sharpen the image while fitting the rhythm. The second poem came out, in word and rhythm, better than I hoped. I might still polish, but it does what I want it to do.

I was surprised that I managed to write either, since I don’t consider myself a poet. I love poetry, but I never felt I could ride that tiger properly as a writer. I wanted to stretch, and I am. You learn how to write in different formats by writing in those formats. Should I even attempt to read them? Who knows? Chances are I’m too far down on the list and won’t get to read them anyway. I’ll learn from the other poets reading. I’ll learn from my own reading, even if it doesn’t go well.

I’d have a three minute slot, allowed one poem, and either poem takes up less than two minutes, even read in what I call “Dramatic Reading Voice.” (Which is different from Pretentious Sonorous Voice).

I can still always decide to only read none, or take myself off the list. But pushing myself, taking the risk, will be valuable.

I’ll work on and rehearse the poems for the next week, and be ready, whichever way the chips land.

I drafted a series of activist letters to the appropriate organizations and individuals. My weapons are words, and rather than social media-ing everything to death, I’d rather write specific, actionable proposals that will get results.

The way I did before social media.

I finished the first draft of the short story for the anthology. It was disquieting to write, so hopefully it will create strong emotions in the reader. It’s just under 1200 words, which gives me room to do some cutting and also layer in more sensory detail. I’m going to let it sit a few days before I approach it again. It has to go out next week, so I have a little bit of breathing room.

I picked up Cynthia Kuhn’s HOW TO BOOK A MURDER (a book recommended by Ellen Byron) “just to take a look.” Yeah, right. I read the whole thing straight through in the afternoon, instead of doing other things. It was a lot of fun. Now, I want to read her other series. My local library had one book, but I had to get three more through Commonwealth Catalog. Ironically, two of those three will come in from Sandwich. I can’t find the last one.

The Mystic Mondays Tarot arrived, and I am in love with it. I love the weight of the cards, their size, the way the sides are iridescent. I love the artwork on the deck – very different from any of my other decks, and in colors that really speak to me. I’m excited to start working with it. I think I will use it mostly in relation to creative work: spurring myself on creatively, finding ways around blocks and obstacles, etc.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. The kids are working hard, they’re thriving in a virtual learning environment, and they’re doing well. One of the things we started when we first launched this homework group was to keep a journal. Of course, when we started, we thought the group would only be for the spring 2020 semester. Now, we’re starting into 2022. But the kids have kept up their journals. Not all of them write every day, and some of them are sketch journals rather than word journals (which is perfectly valid), But, after keeping it as a practice now for two years, they find it a useful tool. Even the ones who have no intention of becoming writers! As someone who has kept a journal for going on 50 years now, I’m glad it helps others; I know it has often been a lifeline for me.

In the evening, I attended a virtual author event for an acquaintance and fellow Sister in Crime. It was a lot of fun. She currently writes three series, plus short stories, which is the kind of schedule I really need to keep. The questions in the Q & A were the typical ones that are asked. The thing we all remind ourselves of is that, even though we’ve answered these questions dozens of times, it’s still new information to this person asking (unless it’s someone who attends events always asking the same question, There were a couple of those on Cape. They’d even ask the same question to the same person at event after event). Of course there was That One Person, who didn’t have a question, but a “comment” and made it all about herself. There’s always one self-involved audience member, who tries to turn every event into a personal platform. We learn how to be polite and gracious and move on. Good moderators shut that individual down; too many just look uncomfortable and expect the guest artist to deal with it, which is unfair.

Anyway, I was glad I was there, and could support my acquaintance. I also realized I’m behind reading one of her series!

After the event, I had to stay up and get out a script coverage that was due this morning. I’m behind in the script coverages (but still ahead of deadline) and will spend most of today working on those. It will need to be a long day, if I expect to have a weekend.

But I have no regrets about sitting and reading Cynthia’s book all afternoon!

I had a perfectly productive day, and yet, by the end of it, I still beat myself up for not doing enough. I need to stop that.

A couple more ideas are percolating for short stories; hopefully I can rough them out this weekend.

I had trouble getting to sleep last night; it was after midnight. Then the cats woke me up at three. I am not a happy camper today. I am a grumpy pants.

It’s been a frustrating, up and down week. Let’s hope next week is better.

Catch you on the other side.

Published in: on January 21, 2022 at 9:17 am  Comments Off on Fri. Jan. 21, 2022: Creative Stretching  
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Wed. Dec. 22, 2021: Recovering From a Mac & Cheese Coma

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Waning Moon

Chiron Direct (as of 12/21)

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Rainy and raw

image courtesy of SocialButterflyMMG via pixabay.com

Usually, Tuesday is the long post. This week, it’s Wednesday, because yesterday was the Winter Solstice, my big holiday, and I decided to enjoy my holiday.

So today’s our day to sit down and have a catching up natter.

Friday was a beautiful day, weather-wise. A little windy, but warm enough to keep the door from the porch into the house open.

I drafted the first half of the Marie Collier play, and then walked down to the post office to mail some letters, and picked up wine on my way back. It was lovely to enjoy the good weather, knowing that a storm was coming in.

Went through some jewelry of mine, looking for something specific, a certain type of chain that I want to use for a talisman necklace I’m making. Couldn’t find it, so I’ll keep looking in thrift stores. There’s no deadline. I’d rather wait and get the right thing than any old thing.

The last charm for the talisman necklace arrived, along with another pieced I’d ordered, from An Enchanted Creature, on ETSY. I’d had a good experience ordering before. I hadn’t expected these pieces to arrive until the 27th of December, so it was a pleasant surprise to get them a full 10 days earlier.

Saturday was supposed to snow all day, so that’s how I planned. They were out in force in the morning, sanding streets and sidewalks, which is a good thing. The sky made a few half-hearted attempts with some snowflakes in the morning, but it wasn’t until lunchtime that it got serious about it. But it only snowed for a couple of hours before it switched over to rain.

We put up the rest of the ornaments on the tree, and put up the Santas on a shelf unit we moved into the front hall. They don’t look right there.

Did some reading, diving back into the Dorothy Parker/Dawn Powell research, so I can finish the third and final play of the year.

Sunday was a gray, gloomy day. We moved the Santa collection into the living room, rearranging a few things, and it looks better there. Plus, we can enjoy it.

I finished the draft of the Marie Corelli play. It took some fun turns, and all four characters are for actresses over 40. It can sit for a few days before revision, and I’ll get it out before the end of the week (today or tomorrow, most likely).

The fruit peel arrived, from Fleet Farm! That was quick. I didn’t expect it until around New Year’s. So there will be stollen for Christmas. I’ll make it either today or tomorrow.

I made the molasses spice cookies. Wound up being around 10 dozen molasses spice, which I did not expect. I also used one of the packs of fruit peel to make fruitcake cookies, which turned out well, and are a nice contrast to the other cookies on the platter.

I’m going to make the apricot sage cookies for us, a small batch, to test them. If they work, and I can make enough of them quickly, I’ll add them in to the platters next year.

Was too tired to cook, so ordered Chinese from the local place, and watched DoorDash drive it the six blocks over. It’s just far enough that it’s too far for me to walk and keep it hot.

The food was good. We put on the lights and candles and enjoyed the Fourth of Advent.

With Venus going retrograde, I’m trying to be quiet and careful. We’ve got the “bonecrusher” square, which I do not have the energy to deal with this week. Uranus is still retrograde. And then Mercury goes retrograde early in February. So basically, from now until February 3, I want to stay as quiet and hermit-like as possible.

Monday morning, I got up to discover that some of the battery-operated candles in the windows had turned themselves back on overnight.

Around here, the post office does an early morning package delivery run, about 7 AM. Two packages were dropped off: one from a friend (the one that had gone from NYC to Puerto Rico to Akron), and the next two books for review.

Tessa was fascinated by the packages. Willa was more interested in the postman. Charlotte ran around in circles at the top of the stairs. It was a very exciting start to their day.

I struggled to clear the ice off the car, and then we headed to the RMV to update the car registration and our licenses. I had been going back and forth about the appointment with the main RMV administration; they kept saying that we could not do it in one appointment, we could not go together (my mom is 97, it’s not like she can do this on her own), and so on and so forth.

We showed up for the appointment. Everyone was very nice. We got everything done. We don’t even need to get a new registration document, since it’s all updated in the system. When the registration has to be renewed next year, the right info will be there. Instead of issuing us new physical licenses, they told us to write the new address on the back; it’s in the system, and since it’s a real ID, no problem.

So all that stress was for nothing.

But I’m grateful they were so helpful, and that it’s done.

Then, it was off to CVS and to Big Y, to get the rest of what I needed for the Solstice dinner, Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day dinner. Got everything I needed.

We made it home. There are still dashboard lights going on that need to be dealt with. I’m going to contact the garage in Williamstown next week to see if I can get an appointment the first week of the new year.

I realized I’d forgotten a couple of errands, so headed back out on foot to the post office and the bank.

By then, I was wiped out, as much from stress as anything else.

But I rallied, in the late afternoon, to do the script coverage.

Slept in on Tuesday morning. It was Winter Solstice. Chocolate panettone for breakfast, which was fun. I prepped two cookie platters for the libraries, and delivered them on foot: one across the street, to the college library, and one down the street to the public library. I’d sealed each cookie separately in a cookie sleeve, for maximum safety so the platter could be out in the break room, and people could sort through cookies to find what they like.

Both libraries were delighted.

The weather was gorgeous, and it was nice to be out, knowing that storms are coming in for the next few weeks. The weather is so changeable here.

Came home, finished up some script coverage I hadn’t finished the previous day. Changed from flannel sheets to fleece sheets.

Prepped the cookie platters for the neighbors and delivered them. They were pleased.

This year’s platters have chocolate chip cookies, orange cranberry cookies, currant oatmeal cookies, molasses spice cookies, and fruitcake cookies. It’s a nice variety.

Baked the honey spice cake. It was a little underbaked, even though the toothpick put in the center came up clear. It’s still good, but I wanted great. Maybe I should have put a chocolate silk glaze over it. Because chocolate can fix almost anything.

For dinner, I made Moosewood’s recipe for macaroni and cheese, from scratch. I cheated a little and added bacon into the mac & cheese. But it was a lot of dairy. The cheese sauce had four cups of milk and 10 oz. of various cheddars; there were breadcrumbs and then more cheddar over it, before it was baked. It’s really good, and we have a lot of leftovers, but it’s a lot of dairy.

Did the Solstice ritual of waiting for it to get dark, then, starting in the north, lighting all the candles and holiday lights, clockwise around the house, until it’s all lit up with candles and twinkle lights. I spilled red wax on the white windowsill in the kitchen – that will be not much fun to fix. But it was so pretty, and we sat without electric lights on (except for the holiday twinkle lights) all evening.

Since we no longer have a working fireplace, I took the big cauldron out on the back balcony and burned last year’s greens, slowly, one small branch at a time, so I wouldn’t worry the neighbors. It was a good way to let last year, and the Cape life, go.

Left the battery-operated candles on all night, to light the longest night of the year.

I was up earlier than Tessa this morning! I couldn’t find her and was frantic. She was still asleep, in her favorite red chair with Panda, and was very confused as to why I was awake before she was. The fleece sheets were too hot. I kept kicking off the covers in the night. Quite a difference from the other house, where upstairs was never warm after about September, no matter how high the heat was cranked.

The plan was to go to the laundromat, but it was raining, so I decided not to. I’ll go tomorrow or next week.

I’m going to do some work on the Big Project, and maybe THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. Then, I have to polish the Marie Corelli play and get it out the door. Then, it’s more script coverage. I have coverage work today and tomorrow, and then I’m off until Monday, and I hope next week will be a light week, coverage-wise. I want to dig into The Big Project and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

I also want to finish up a bunch of admin work before the end of the year.

I’m preparing to hunker down for the winter, only going to the grocery store, the post office, and the library, both due to weather and the pandemic. I’m frustrated that the Dems aren’t doing what needs to be done to curb the pandemic, or the right-wing extremists. People worked like crazy during a pandemic to get them elected. They need to deliver. No matter what corporate sellouts like Manchin and Sinema do.

Anyway, I have to get back to the page and get some work done. Books don’t write themselves, and I still have a living to earn.

Have a good one!

Thurs. Dec. 2, 2021: Getting Back on My Feet — Slowly

image courtesy of Alkaine via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Waning Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Rainy/snowy, cold but warming up

I’m starting to feel reasonably functional again, thank goodness. I was better for a little while yesterday, and then I wasn’t.

Yesterday, everything took much longer than it should have. I spent most of the day resting, because I was still fatigued, achy, and had a bad headache. When I felt a little better, I managed to read a script, which I will write up this morning.

I managed to pull my newsletter mailing list off of Gmail. I’m getting fed up with Google. Making everything a 2-step verification sign in, tied to one’s phone has NOTHING to do with security, and everything with data collection. I am not a happy camper.

Anyway, I signed up with MooSend for the newsletter. They keep saying how “intuitive” it is to use their features. No, actually, it’s not. Or maybe it would be if I wasn’t feeling lousy, but it should be much simpler than it is. For all the issues I had working with Robly (for one of my clients), at least Robly was simple.

Wrote a rough draft of the newsletter, which I’m sure will be massive revision, since it was written when I wasn’t feeling well. But I want it to go out next week. Time to get my newsletter life back on track.

Got an email from a recruiter I hadn’t heard from in about two years about a job 4 days/week onsite in Boston, that wasn’t really what I do, nor was the pay what I said I wanted. I emailed back, thanking her for thinking of me, and explaining that I’d moved across the state, and was only doing remote work at this point. The recruiter said I should consider commuting in/renting a room. I said, “only if the company’s paying for all of that” which was met with an “oh, no, of course they’re not. But, you know, this remote-work will be obsolete within a year.”

HA!

NOT FOR ME.

To say I was grumpy by the time I stopped for the day is an understatement.

It cheered me up to read Maria DiRico’s IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE MURDER. I absolutely love this series. It makes me homesick for Astoria (even though I never lived there, only visited friends who lived there).

I actually cooked last night, for the first time this week, making a sort of a shepherd’s pie, using leftover turkey instead of meat. It turned out pretty well, but nearly knocked me out. Went to bed early.

Slept well. Tessa was at it again, early, even though my mom got up at 4:30 to feed her.

It snowed overnight again, just a little. It’s warming up (might go up to 60 degrees F) so it’s all getting slushy.

I was sitting on the couch reading, when I saw movement in my peripheral vision. A minute later, a pair of little black ears and a black nose came over the back of the couch. Tessa was standing on the heater, peering over the back of the couch.

It was pretty funny.

Meditation was good. Charlotte, as usual, sat with me for it. This week’s book is ATLAS OF THE HEART, which I ordered from the library.

I need to write up and send off the script coverage, and then go to the post office, the library, Wild Oats, and I’ll pick up Chinese food for lunch.

This afternoon’s mission is to figure out how to hook up the newsletter sign-up on my website to MooSend (they sent me directions yesterday, so I should be able to do it).

I’ve been working on organizing the notes for the Big Project, and for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. I will start The Big Project as soon as the notes are in good shape, and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY will begin on Monday. Because I like writing about the holidays IN the holidays. I’ll work on them in tandem, probably only 1K/each/day, and will only commit myself to 5 days/week on each. If I feel like writing more, I will, but I won’t set myself up for failure to do more, since I have to write between 3-5K of script coverage most days. I also got an idea for a 2ND Big Project, which is just going to have to percolate for a bit and wait its turn.

CAST IRON MURDER is resting (and will until the end of January). I hope to do the revisions on “A Rare Medium” tomorrow and over the weekend, and to write the Marie Corelli play next week.

I still have to finish decorating and write my domestic cards. And, you know, earn a living.

I also have to accept the fact that I can no longer pull fourteen-hour days, physically or mentally. So I need to adjust to that reality, without punishing myself and feeling like aging is a character flaw.

The Cape Cod house sold; for less than the owners asked, but still for a big chunk of change. So that’s a form of closure for all of us, I guess. I genuinely hope the new owners are very happy there. I’m sure there will be renovations (new bathrooms, all the windows need replacing), but, overall, it’s a lovely little house.

Now, off to write script coverage, while I still have some energy. My arm is still sore, and I have a headache, but otherwise, I’m feeling more like myself. The Grumpy Pants version of myself, but myself.

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.

Fri. Nov. 12, 2021: Rain (At Least It’s Not Snow)

image courtesy of Sam Willis via pexels.com

Friday, November 12, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Neptune Retrograde

Rainy and mild

Raining pretty hard this morning, so I’ll put off the trip to the post office and the library until tomorrow.

Yesterday, I stayed in and worked. I’d hoped to get enough cleared off my desk by lunchtime so I could go to the lake in the afternoon, but it was already getting cloudy, so I skipped the lake.

Got in my Nano words, got out some LOIs, checked on my Nano Buddies, caught up on some email, did some research for a project, wrote up script coverages. Wrote the thank you notes to the people at all the different agencies who helped sort out my mother’s insurance and medication stuff. It was quite a stack by the time I was done. Pretty soon, I have to do the annual Freshening of the Websites, and I need to print up my new business cards for Fearless Ink. I don’t think I have any with the new logo on it.

My Ipsy bag arrived, with lots of good stuff for the month.

Read a new book by an author whose previous work I really enjoyed. This is in a different genre than the other work I’ve read. It hits the genre expectations, is more inclusive than typical in the genre, and the writing’s fine, but there’s a fire missing in it that was there in this author’s other work. I’m annoyed with myself for not loving it, but I don’t. Of course, it’s in a genre in which I don’t read much because the genre parameters often annoy me, but I wanted to see what the author would do. I want to love it, but I just don’t.

Knowledge Unicorns went well. The kids are getting vaccination appointments.

Cape Cod’s virus numbers are way up. Which is not surprising at all.  Vermont’s are, too, which is surprising, since they have such a high vaccination rate. I guess that’s it for us in Vermont until the spring. I got an email from the Credit Union that an employee tested positive at one of the branches (not the one I frequent), and the branch is closed for deep cleaning, and everyone with whom that employee was in contact will be tracked down so they can be warned and tested. I’ve noticed some sloppiness about masking lately around here, especially in CVS, where the customers tend to pull their masks down to lean over the counter and talk to the pharmacists. Because those customers are morons. If I do get sick, I’ll have caught it at CVS.

We have one more out-and-about trip planned, late next week, to do a sweep of a bunch of small artisan stores to get the gifts we need to ship. Then, we’re done for the holidays and for the winter, and it’s just the grocery store and the library until spring. Although I’m not at the point where I’m back to decontaminating all the groceries when I come back from shopping, I think I’ll start jumping in the shower and decontaminating myself again. I’d just gotten back into the habit of only the morning shower. So I guess I’m adding in an extra one on grocery days. Can’t take the risk, with numbers going up.

And I’ll get my booster as soon as it’s allowed.

Willa wanted to play last night. Charlotte was willing to play with her, only they were playing by different sets of rules and ended up in a fight. Tessa glared at them from the chair, glad to be out of it. Poor Charlotte’s feelings were hurt. It’s not her fault she didn’t understand Willa’s rules for the game. Charlotte doesn’t really understand playing, except with her catnip banana. We’re working on that.

Read two scripts last night, which I will write up today. Only one to read tonight, and I’ll write it up tomorrow, and then not read again until Sunday. This pay period closes Monday, so I can read Sunday, write it up Monday, and make my nut for the pay period. Several monthly bills are going up, and I need to make sure I hit at least my target, if not a little more. Plus, I want to ease up between Christmas and New Year’s, although I doubt I can take that week completely off.

Slept in until 6. Tessa fussed at 4:23, but I ignored her. My mom got up to feed the cats just before 6 and Charlotte started headbutting me at 6.

2689 words on CAST IRON MURDER. Tough first 400 or so, and then it flowed well. I plan to write every day this weekend on it, not to lose the flow. If I can get more than 50K done by the end of the month, and then finish the draft by the end of the year, that will be a good way to get back on track with the other projects, too.

I’m writing the overseas cards this weekend, so we can mail them just before American Thanksgiving. Not taking any chances on them not showing up until, say Valentine’s Day.

Have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side. Hopefully, I can get some more unpacking done.

Published in: on November 12, 2021 at 10:04 am  Comments Off on Fri. Nov. 12, 2021: Rain (At Least It’s Not Snow)  
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Thurs. Nov. 11, 2021: Getting over a Grumpy Pants Day

Image courtesy of Sandy Millar via Unsplash.com (not one of my cats)

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Veterans’ Day

Yesterday was a Day of Grumpy Pants for me. There’s a much happier post this morning over on Gratitude and Growth, celebrating what’s lovely around here.

Once I got the Nano words done, I cleaned out about 300 emails (still have a lot to do). But at least that was progress.

There’s a new post over on Ink-Dipped Advice, because I have just HAD it with these companies and organizations who shout how great their work culture is, and then expect/demand unpaid labor as part of the interview process or as a condition of interview. The fact that LinkedIn has jumped on that bandwagon is even more enraging.

Yet another reason to despise LinkedIn.

Went to the library to drop off/pick up books. The librarian on duty apologized that books keep coming in as soon as I walk out the door. I reassured her that she has no control over what time the delivery van gets there, and I’m right up the street, so it’s not a big deal for me to head to the library a few times a week. In fact, I enjoy it.

From the library, I went to CVS to see what was going on about my mother’s insurance/medication. I’d gotten conflicting emails the day before on what was going on.  While I had to stand in multiple lines for well over an hour to sort it out, everything is sorted, and, honoring my mom’s payment of her deductible, in spite of Tufts being asshats, the co-pay was zero, for all three medications. We’ll have to start again in January, with the next deductible co-pays, but I’ll take it for now.

I didn’t really mind standing in the various lines for so long, because the pharmacists were actually listening and helping the customers. And they were giving out flu shots in the moment. Anyone checking out was offered a flu shot, right then and there.

What a difference from the CVS in Centerville, where any question was met with, “No, we can’t do that” before one even finished asking (unless one paid cash under the table), and any time a shot was scheduled, they’d make excuses not to do it, or, if they did it, act like it was the biggest inconvenience they could imagine and it ruined their whole day.

So, yeah, I’ll stand in the lines and not get impatient, because these pharmacists are actually helping people.

But I missed Remote Chat, which yes, I missed. I’m fond of that group.

Did some reading for fun after lunch, and then buckled down and wrote up my script coverages. Paused to make turkey meatloaf and get that into the over. After dinner, I read two more scripts, which I hope to write up this morning; if the weather holds, I’d like to spend some time at the lake this afternoon.

Charlotte is so happy playing and sleeping in the Chewy box that I don’t have the heart to break it down and put it away yet.

Like we don’t have top quality cat beds in every room, as well as the cats allowed on couches, chairs, beds. And that big ass kitty condo.

But, if it makes Charlotte happy . . .

They let me sleep until 5:35 this morning, which was a gift.

Got 2442 words written on CAST IRON MURDER. Hard to get into it today, but once I was past the 600-word mark, it got easier. I passed 26K in the 50K for the month, so I’m on track. I’m a little over a third of the word count I think the full book will have. Getting there, as long as I can keep it up.

Meditation group online was great this morning. Charlotte spent the first half on my lap (because, hey, ZOOM, and she loves the sound of the teacher’s voice). The second half, she spent on her favorite table spot next to my desk, looking out of the window at the falling leaves. Which, since the teacher talked about trees and leaves today, was kind of funny.

Planning to write up the script coverages, and then see if I can get a little more work done before lunch, to clear some more off my desk. If the weather holds, I want to go to the lake. If it turns, I’ll start the books for review, before reading today’s script quota.

Most things are closed and quiet for Veterans’ Day. I will do my Ceremony of Thanks tonight, after Knowledge Unicorns.

And on we go.