Tues. July 12, 2022: Building a Sense of Creative Community

image courtesy of ds_30 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Sunny, warm, humid

There’s a quick post over on the GDR site about how too many prompts, etc. can be counterproductive.

Friday was actually pretty fun. I wrote the first draft of the one act in the morning. I did my errands: gas station, couple of stores to get hardware and more pots, library, wine store. Ran into my friend the baker at the library, and made plans to get together at the Farmers’ Market Saturday.

Home, and got everything unpacked.

Did my first Duolingo Italian assignment. I’m keeping my expectations low, just 10 minutes per day. The first lesson breezed right past. Having a little bit of French definitely helped. I could see correlations. What I’m not sure about is if I’m actually learning the vocabulary, because a lot of “writing the sentences” was about choosing the words that made the most sense. But am I really learning them? Still, it was fun, and if I feel comfortable with the Italian lessons in a few months, I might see if I can level up my French with them, too.

I kept up with the Duolingo assignments every day all weekend. I enjoy them, but I also need an Italian textbook to understand some of the “whys” behind the choices.

Saturday was Farmers’ Market Day. The weather was gorgeous, the stalls filled to bursting with glorious offerings. I stocked up on large tomatoes, cucumbers, baby red potatoes, fennel, sugar snap peas, lemon basil, eggs, espresso coffee cake muffins, banana bread – just wonderful. It’s as much as social/community experience as a shopping one. The regulars chat with each other, it’s full of friendly dogs making friends, everyone is cheerful and happy to be there. I look forward to going there every week.

I talked to my friend the baker about commissioning her to make the cheesecake for my mom’s 98th birthday in October. Cheesecake is my mom’s favorite, and she should have a good one. I always buy one (because I am terrible at making cheesecake), and I’d rather the money go to a local, small business, really talented baker.

I popped into the grocery store to build around the FM finds, then headed off to Wild Oats, the co-op, to fill in a couple of other things, and then to another grocery store on the way home to pick up something I knew they carried.

The stores have put the signs back up “recommending” and “requesting” people masks again, regardless of vaccination status. Locals have been good about it throughout, but it’s tourist season, and while it’s nowhere near as whackadoodle here as it was on Cape, there are still germy nasties roaming around.

At one of the grocery stores, a white (of course) woman whined to the manager, “I’m on vacation. I don’t want to wear a mask, and I shouldn’t have to look at anyone else wearing a mask. Maybe I’ll just take my tourist dollars and go home.”

I stopped my masked ass the requisite social distance from her and said, “You’re gone, we’re alive, sounds like a win to me.”

She did that guppy face thing, and the manager cracked up.

Because fucking tourists.

The Cape’s COVID numbers have gone way up (of course). Makes me glad I’m not there anymore; makes me worry about friends and colleagues living/visiting/working there.

We were considering taking our two-day autumn break at the tip of the Cape, on the beach, but my mom said, “No way am I going to Cape Cod when they continue to behave like selfish idiots.” And then I got an email from the state health whatever about how the highest rate of monkeypox in the state is in Provincetown, so yeah, we’ll skip it.

So we will go elsewhere. Maybe the coast of Maine or to Newport. I just want to sit somewhere overlooking ocean and read books for two days. No sightseeing (which is why it makes sense to go somewhere familiar). No indoor dining. A room/cottage with a deck, an ocean view, and books. A room with a fridge, and we’ll do takeout. If there’s a kitchen, I can cook. Although, hey, vacation, maybe I’ll stick with takeout. If the virus numbers keep going up, we aren’t going anywhere.

Speaking of cooking (note the segue way), I used the lemon basil from the market and made pesto, because I do love pesto, and I love Full Well Farm’s lemon basil, so lemon basil pesto it is.

I made vegetable stock in the crockpot, which worked well. I’ll freeze one jar and keep the other two in the fridge to use up.

Saturday afternoon, I could not put it off any longer, and finished the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell. Because the directions are so bad, I had to take something apart, do the next step, then do the thing I had to take apart, because if I did it in the order of the directions, I could get at the bit that needed to be done next. But by flipping the order, I could do both. Also, they kept instructing work done on it when it was sideways on the floor, when it made more sense to work on the bottom when it was upside down, and I could use my bodyweight. It was impossible to tighten the top the way the instructions ordered – there was no way to get in a tool to do it in that space. I’m trusting gravity, and, if need be, later on, Gorilla glue. The piece for the back wasn’t cut square, but I managed to nudge it to at least cover what needs to be covered. The doors splintered when the hardware was fastened. So they are put aside. I found one of my old tension rods, and I’m using the sewing mouse café curtains that always adorned my offstage workstation off-Broadway at theatres like the Variety Arts. They’re a little long and wrong, but until I can make other curtains (I have good fabric in my stash), they will do. I will also get some fabric for the back of the cart, because it’s so darn ugly I can’t stand to look at it. I will trim it and Velcro it onto the back, so that I can wash it when needed.

But the drawer (I built a drawer; I’m so proud) and the shelves  and the top are fine. The Tupperware is in the bottom, and the baking pans I had stacked over the cabinets nearest the kitchen window all fit. Now I have room, on that cabinet top, for the teapots I’m bringing up from the next storage run. The top is a good workspace, and I always need more workspace.

But I was achy and tired by the end of the day.

Sunday was another beautiful, sunny, temperate day. The wreath we bought the weekend after Thanksgiving, hung on the door for the Winter Yule season, then stripped of ornaments and hung on the living room since, just started drying up. So I stripped the wreath. I have one jar of small needles/twigs for Winter Solstice. I have 5 jars of pine needles stripped from the rest of it.

What would you use pine needles for? Glad you asked. Incense, sachets, charms, bath mixtures, and potpourri. For instance, for this holiday season, I’ll pour pine needles in a bowl, take an orange, stud it with whole cloves, toss in some cinnamon sticks, and there’s a holiday scent without anything perfumy. I can take a cheesecloth or linen bag, put in pine needles, rosemary, and orange or lemon peel, and put it in the bathwater. (Trust me, you want it a bag you can soak and then dump, not loose in the water. Learn from my missteps. There are places on the human body in which pine needles should never venture).

I’ll keep the frame, in case I want to build some other kind of wreath using it.

Tessa helped. She loves anything scented (and I think she misses my stillroom as much as I do). Willa watched from a safe distance. Charlotte slept through the whole thing.

But most of Sunday was mellow, enjoying reading, being on the porch, playing with the cats, etc. The neighborhood was quiet, because people took advantage of the nice weather to go out and do things Elsewhere. Which meant Here was quiet.

I finished the Shirley Jackson biography and read Thomas Lynch’s wonderful poems WALKING PAPERS. He is a poet who is also an undertaker. I have several of his books to read.

Sauteed fresh trout from the local fishmonger in butter, with salt and pepper, boiled fresh red potatoes (from Red Shirt Farm) and served them with butter, and blanched sugar snap peas (from Full Well Farm) in boiling water, then tossed them with sesame oil and parsley. Absolute bliss, tasting real flavors.

I’m enjoying the kitchen island cart. The additional workspace is wonderful.

Went to bed ridiculously early. Woke up at 1:30, but went back to sleep, until Tessa and Charlotte rousted me out of bed around 5:30.

Got the email box down from over 700 emails to 67. Worked on my day’s Italian lesson. Created interview questions for a project. Did a run to the library and the grocery store to pick up something forgotten over the weekend. Worked out a visit in a few weeks to a friend I haven’t seen since before I moved to the Cape (although we always kept in touch).

I’m having trouble with my keyboard. It’s only working on the top half of the screen. More Windows 11-HP-McAfee miscommunication, no doubt.

The dickhead postal carrier AGAIN put my box in the mail slot, where I can’t get it out because the residence side is 1” smaller than the postal slot. Seven fucking months this has gone on. So I wrote it all out in a formal letter to the postmaster. If it continues, I’ll file the complaint through the main USPS system. I was polite in the letter and asked for better training, even though I know, after seven months of conversations and notes with this guy, he’s just being a dick.

Read a script in the afternoon, but didn’t finish the analysis. I will do that today, and read another script that came up in the queue, only the file was corrupted, so I had to request a new copy. That came through, so all good.

In the early evening, I went over to Greylock Works, the converted mill, that’s a really cool space now. The Northern Berkshire Artist Meetup was there, coordinated by several groups. It was a mixed experience. Cool space. But indoors, and not everyone was masking (I, of course, did). With food and drink, even those masking had to remove them sometimes. More people in the space than I was comfortable with, although the fans and ventilation system was strong.

Some very cool people. I met an older artist who calls works in “oversized political origami” and married to a guy who was a Madison Avenue adman in 1960’s NYC. I met a filmmaker/sculptor/teacher. I met a guy who moved up here from DC with his poet boyfriend (I told him about the World’s Largest Poem). And, in passing, a bunch of other people. One chick announced, “Oh, my husband just tested positive for COVID. Maybe I should wear a mask?” and started giggling. No, hon, you should LEAVE.

Everyone near by stepped back, and those who weren’t masking scrambled to put theirs on. Fortunately, she was way more than 6 feet away (more like 12 or 16, but hey, airborne). I stayed away.

The new director of MASSMoCA, Kristy Edmunds, was the guest speaker, sharing her views on sustainable creative practice, and her vision to help artists shape and live sustainably creative lives (in other words, paid for their work and supported). She takes the time to get to know people in the community as individuals, not just the big donors. That makes a huge difference. She was really interested in talking to us, and in continued conversation. Several other organizations/agencies distributed information and resources. There’s a lot to tap into, and a lot of sharing of resources going on.

I left soon after the talk and those conversations. I would have liked to stay and listen to the music, but too many people indoors and, I’m not yet comfortable with that. As it is, I’m going to be a paranoid hypochondriac for the next 10 days, watching for symptoms. But, as the friend who worked on the vaccine pointed out, I’m probably exposed to just as much virus every time I got into the grocery store. I need to keep masking, remain cautious, and let the vaccines do their job.

I was masked. Let’s hope this wasn’t a miscalculation. I’ll know soon enough, right? When I came home, I went through the old, pre-vaccine decontamination protocols, just in case.

I didn’t get much sleep, thanks to Charlotte and Tessa hurling furballs all night. The cats have shed their summer coats already, and are growing in thick winter coats. The squirrels are putting things away for winter (destroying a lot of the plants on the balcony). It bodes for a tough winter.

Up early this morning (because it’s hard to sleep through hurling furballs). Off to the laundromat. Worked on the multi-colored draft of The Big Project. I’d like to work on revisions for the one acts, but I have to get the Big Project where it needs to be, so the announcement can go out next week, and the marketing push can begin. I will also follow up on the cards/postcards/contacts I collected yesterday.

I may, however, need to take a nap somewhere in there. The cats, of course, are all fast asleep.

I have some bills to drop in the box at the bottom of the road, but I’m going to spend the morning on Topic Workbooks and The Big Project, and the afternoon on script coverage. This evening, I will start reading the next book for review.

That’s the catch up. Hope you’re having a great week.

Fri. July 8, 2022: Creative Start to the Day

image courtesy of Yerson Retamal via pisabay.com

Friday, July 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Sunny and warm

Oops, I did it again. Wrote the first draft of another one act play before breakfast this morning. This one was inspired by an article I read in THE NEW YORKER last night. The title, at least at the moment, is “Inspired By.”

Got a letter from an editor that an anthology for which I’d made the short list of possibilities, telling me that it looks like it’s been scuppered, at least for the moment. Oh, well. At least she told us. And I had the chance to stretch in that direction. It’s worse for her than for me; I wrote one story. She read over a thousand entries.

Sent out an LOI to a company in Bennington, and got a lovely response. We will see if/how things moved forward, but that quick, professional acknowledgement went a long way. Started an LOI to another company, but, on digging into it, their budget can’t cover my rates, and I can’t downsize the scope of what they need to make it work. So I’ll skip that.

Meditation was good. That Thursday morning group has become a lovely anchor.

Willa wanted to go on the back balcony after lunch, so I took her out in her playpen. I worked on the multi-colored draft of the first large arc of The Big Project, and am mortified at how much sloppy language is in it. But that’s the point of edits/revisions. To make it better.

Did another editing pass on “The Little Woman” and sent it to the friend who is a Trusted Reader. She had excellent suggestions, which have helped me on a section I knew was shaky. Hopefully, this weekend, I can dig back in and get it done. There are a couple of script calls coming up where it might fit.

Started a script coverage, but was having trouble concentrating, so I put it aside and will finish today. I love this particular writer’s work and want to give it my full attention.

Ordered Chinese food in, because I was too tired to cook, and none of the leftovers appealed to me. Read THE NEW YORKER, which reprinted one of Shirley Jackson’s stories, the same week I’m reading her biography. Love when that happens.

I need to do a run to the library to drop off/pick up books, put gas in the car, and do some other errands, including getting some more of those Command hooks, so we can do some stuff around the house this weekend. We might actually start hanging a few things up. And, you know, finish that damn kitchen island cart.

Had weird dreams last night. Not bad, just weird.

We spent far too much time trying to figure out where to go for a quick, two day or so vacation in autumn, just for a change of scenery, that will also be COVID safe. Maybe rent a place with a kitchen, so we don’t have to worry about eating out. Sit on a deck somewhere pretty reading books. I mean, we do that at home, in our downtime, but sometimes it’s nice to do it Somewhere Else.

Back to the page. Have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Published in: on July 8, 2022 at 8:38 am  Comments Off on Fri. July 8, 2022: Creative Start to the Day  
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Tuesday, June 28, 2022: Release Day for “Personal Revolution”

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

New Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Partly cloudy and pleasant

The re-release of the short mystery “Personal Revolution” is out today! I’m in the process of updating all the links. It’s a Delectable Digital Delight, a short story set in a fictional town tucked near Lexington and Concord, MA.  Since Independence Day weekend is coming up, it was a good chance to re-release it. Only 99 cents. Universal buy link is here.

When a man is hanged from the oak tree in a Redcoat uniform at an historic house just before the Independence Day program, Glenda vows to both solve the murder and protect the newly-opened museum. What she finds is much darker — and more personal — than she bargained.

There’s information on the other Delectable Digital Delights here.

Back to our regularly scheduled natter.

Neptune has joined Pluto and Saturn in the retrograde lineup. Neptune has strong influences over me, so it’s a reminder to be cautious until it goes direct in December. It’s good for revealing phonies, though.

Friday was a hellscape, wasn’t it, with the corrupt, extremist SCOTUS striking down Roe. I’m glad I got a good chunk of work done on The Big Project, because the rest of the day was lost. The Dems had the heads up on this months ago. What do they do? Stand on a few steps singing a song and send out fundraising emails. They are pathetic.

Don’t start with “they don’t have the votes” or “don’t criticize Dems.” We gave them enough votes to get it done and it is THEIR JOB to keep their people in line, the way the Republicans do. The Republicans get whatever they want no matter who is in office, because they fight, and they don’t stop. The Dems throw up their hands, say they “don’t have the votes’ and ask for more money. Pathetic. They just let the extremists roll right over top of them, no matter what.

I had to hop out to the grocery store shortly after the announcement came down. What was hopeful was that there were growing groups of women of all ages, at both the grocery store, and the post office, talking. Those of us who are old enough to remember life pre-Roe, and who’ve been activists since before the Internet know how to harness the power of memory and communication that’s not based on technology, so we can help set up less traceable networks (nothing is untraceable if more than one person knows about it). Use the best of modern advances with old school.

There is plenty I will not be discussing publicly.

I tried to write in the afternoon, but everything came out incoherent.

I gave up on the Balzac biography, and I’m trying to figure out why I liked his work so much, back in the year I lived in Seattle. But I was a walking disaster that year, so my judgment was undoubtedly questionable.

Read Donna Leon’s latest Brunetti mystery, GIVE UNTO OTHERS, which is quieter and sadder than many others in the series. At least she deals with the pandemic. I don’t trust authors setting their books as “contemporary” who act like the pandemic never existed. I’m giving some a pass, who had books that stalled in the pipeline during the pandemic, but going forward, it’s a big red flag for me.

Saturday morning, I was up early.  I took a home COVID test, because there’s the regular question of “Is it pollen or the plague?” and because of last week’s playwrighting workshop. Even though we were masked and vaccinated, there was still risk, and I felt questionable a few days after, so I wanted to make sure.

The negative test meant I could go to the Farmers’ Market (that and the fact that I felt fine, other than scraping pollen off my skin every few hours). I bought from my friend at Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery, I bought tomatoes and fennel and carrots and eggs from various other farmers, and told the maple syrup place how amazing their syrup is. I chatted with all kinds of people and dogs lined up to get attention (often thoroughly confusing their owners). I left before it got too crowded, but the market is as much about the social aspect as the culinary one.

Felt the need to rest, so I did, pushing away all the “should haves.”

Made a big salad for lunch, then put Willa in her playpen and took her out on the back balcony, so I could read and she could enjoy being outside. It’s nice and shady, and the humidity wasn’t too bad.

Finished the Donna Leon book and started FROM BAD TO CURSED by Lana Harper, which was a lot of fun.

Dinner was leftovers, and then I switched to a biography of Shirley Jackson. It didn’t get as hot as I feared, but I was too wiped out to move. My body remembers the exhaustion from last year, the move, going back and filling the two dumpsters, the difficulty getting things sorted to either the dumpster or into storage. So this week, I have to focus on building new, lighter, happier, more relaxed memories here over those other memories, even with all the crap going on, and even as I have to focus on deadlines and making a living.

So that will be. . .something or other.

Had weird dreams Saturday into Sunday, where I lived in a condominium. My next-door neighbors had theirs on the market. For some reason, the wall between our apartments served as a one-way mirror for me, so I could see everyone coming through to look at their apartment. I have no idea what the hell that could mean.

Sunday was even hotter than Saturday. It was also the day before the dark moon, my lowest energy day of the month, but all the stuff I’d put off for Friday and Saturday had to be dealt with.

I worked on the SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM Topic Workbook. That should be ready to go for final formatting and proofing this week, and maybe release next week. The workbook for class is nearly done. I took down two more workbooks that I want to re-release in July, so that they are down long enough for me to revise them and get them back up.

I worked on the anthology story and it wasn’t working. I’m percolating an idea for a different anthology that is genuinely creepy and twisted and, if I pull if off, will need trigger warnings.

The yoga studio here sent out a wonderful email blast about processing what’s going on, poses to help, and where they stand on the issues. Unlike the yoga studio on Cape Cod, who only allowed right-wingers to voice opinions and have safe space. If anyone spoke up to stand up to the right-wing crap spouted by class members, they were told to stop being political. Yet those right-wingers could say whatever they wanted and it was their right to express an opinion. Which meant it wasn’t safe space for anyone else. Huge difference, and the attitude here is much more what I want and need out of my yoga studio.

The meditation group also set up something virtual for Sunday night. I’d hoped to go, but Charlotte got her claw stuck on something in the kitty condo and panicked. By the time I got her safely extracted and calmed down, the mediation was nearly over. She wasn’t hurt, thank goodness, but was very vocal in her upset. Both Tessa and Willa were worried. Once Charlotte was free, and hiding, Tessa sat nearby, so that Charlotte wouldn’t be alone. I was worried Charlotte would get aggressive in her panic, but she didn’t. It was very sweet of Tessa, since they still don’t always get along.

Could not get going on Monday. Everything was a struggle. Managed to get the SUBMISSIONS Topic Workbook smoothed out and uploaded, but there is a lot of formatting wonk, so I will have to go back through and figure it out. I might have to push back the release date.

Lost way too much of the day trying to get my mother’s new doctor situation sorted out. It shouldn’t take us a damn year, pandemic or not, to find a doctor. I’m lucky she’s in reasonably good health for 97, and the paramedics aren’t here every couple of weeks, the way they are for several other residents on the block. I think we’ve found someone decent. We’ll see, after her appointment in mid-July.

Finally managed to shake loose what wasn’t working in the Monthology anthology story, and got it done. It wasn’t just that the originally planned A and B storylines flipped, causing restructuring – the heart of the piece was somewhere else. Once I found its heart, I could build the story properly. I did a few revision passes (some of them major), and wound up with a draft I felt good enough about to send to my editor. Hopefully, she likes it. I’m a little worried that the story is too quiet, without the harder urban fantasy edge. But I was careful about fact-checking the shared world details and the details of anyone else’s monsters, so I think we’re okay.

There’s a lot less about the workday of the protagonist, which I thought would ground the piece, and would have called for more inter-monster interaction. But there’s room to do more if there’s another volume, and if I’m invited to contribute again. This story stands on its own, but also leaves the door open for more stories with these characters.

Fingers crossed it fits the shared vision.

I let the horror story percolate. I actually have two ideas. The more gruesome one is the one I’m going to draft first.

While there weren’t scripts assigned in my cue, I got a stack of manuscripts to cover, where I have to read the first fifty pages and comment, so there’s the week’s work from that. I’ll still be under where I wanted to be this pay period, but not as badly. And, with the review invoice I’m sending, I should be okay. Bills are covered, and as long as I’m not extravagant, I don’t have to feel like a miser.

Started reading the new book for review. It’s pretty good.

Up early this morning to go to the laundromat. It’s usually kept up quite well, but it was filthy today. The machines were fine, but the rest of it was yucky. I brought the laundry back unfolded, because I didn’t want it on the folding table.

I managed to get a good bit of the multi-colored draft of first big section of The Big Project done. The good thing about the slow and careful attention it needs to catch passives, adverbs, and qualifiers is that a lot of other errors show up, too.

I’ll do some writing this morning, and promotion of “Personal Revolution”. Later, I have to pick up my mom’s prescription. This afternoon, I’ll take a home COVID test, not because I’m feeling terrible, but because tonight I’m going to my first in-person yoga class in nearly three years, and, even though they have strict protocols, I want to make sure once and for all I’m clear post-workshop and Farmers’ Market. I have my vaccination card tucked into my purse. I still have to clean my mat and fix my mat bag before tonight. The buckle on the strap broke during the move.

I’m hoping to get a tarot spread up on the Ko-fi page later today, too. I was going to head down to Pittsfield to try and get a new phone (my phone’s giving me trouble, but hey, it lasted four years, a record for me), but I think I’ll wait until later in the week.

Plenty to do, so better get to it, right? Overlay the NOW over the sense memory stress of the final clear-out last year.

Have a good one.