Jan. 2, 2012: Hit the Ground Running in the New Year

The twins recovering from the holidays

Monday, January 2, 2012
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cold

I hope everyone had a lovely New Year celebration!

Friday was an exercise in frustration, running from pillar to post trying to get what I needed. Target was such a huge disappointment — the bins were overpriced, no decent toasters, nothing else on the list. I managed to get some bins at Home Goods, bought some clothes (I wanted something sparkly to ring in the new year), and then found a toaster that nearly matches the new red microwave at Sears. On sale. Up in the top corner, so I got someone to help me get it down — rather than try climbing up the shelf unit myself. New toaster, new microwave — I think we’re okay, appliance-wise, for awhile.

Got some work done on Saturday, and worked on cleaning up the place, because Costume Imp arrives. Got out the last of the party invites. For some reason, one person who turned down the invite thought it was tonight. Um, if you read the date it says “Friday, January 6th, 2012” not Saturday, December 31, 2011” and “Twelfth Night” is not the same as “New Year’s Eve.”

At least no one showed up at the door on New Year’s, expecting a party! 😉

The landlord came over to check the damaged wall, and we ended up talking about this, that, the other for most of the afternoon. It’s nice when you can have actual conversations with people, not just small talk.

Did a few loads of laundry, to go into the New Year with clean clothes!

Did a lot of work on HEART-SNATCHER — I’d written myself into a corner and had to find a way out. Made some notes for a few other things. Rang in the New Year with some good cheer, and kept right on working until about 1:30.

Up early Sunday morning, for the Fire-and-Ice ritual I do every New Year’s Day. Went to yoga — the teacher had a special class to ring in the New Year. it was great. Always helps to start the year right!

Cleaned the house, got my mom set up in the downstairs bedroom, got the upstairs bedroom set up for Costume Imp, scrubbed some shelves in the basement, took a quick walk on the beach, roasted a duck for the New Year’s Day dinner, and prepared the shepherd’s pies that are tonight’s dinner.

Worked on the book this morning. Today is also the first day of the 5 in 10 workshop and a new private student begins today. So there’s a lot to do. My office is a disaster area, but it will be fine in time for the party (we have to set up one of the buffet tables here).

Just after lunch, I’m driving to Providence to pick up Costume Imp, who’s taking the Mega Bus there from NY. So all the class stuff and last-minute tidying has to happen before I leave.

This will be a busy week, but I’m optimistic about 2012. I’ll have some materials up on the GDR site in a day or two, and I’m going to work smarter, not harder this year, and take more time for myself.


Published in: on January 2, 2012 at 7:24 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. Nov. 28: Ewwwww! Creepy-Crawly Chaos

Monday, November 28, 2011
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

It’s been quite a week!

Wednesday morning, our departure was delayed due to weather. We didn’t get on the road until nearly 10 AM. Fortunately, we missed the worst of the rain and didn’t hit snow until we were past Portland. Not a bad drive, and we managed a few stops on the way at “usual” places on our route. Eight inches of snow where we were staying. Talk about a winter wonderland!

My great uncle is very frail. He’s walking with a cane, thanks to a nasty spill a few weeks ago. He’ll be 95 next month, so, all told, he’s doing pretty well, and he was glad to see us.

The lasagna pan barely fit into the oven, but it did, and the lasagna was a bit hit, as were the salad and cake.

Up early on Thanksgiving. Managed to write 3K of a long short story that’s been percolating for nearly ten years now. It’s finally coming together, and I’m very excited about it.

Thanksgiving Dinner was great — good food, good company. Only 42 people this year, a little smaller than some of the previous years. But good fun. Lots of interesting social dynamics, in spite of everyone sticking to the “leave your egos and arguments at the door” rule. Came away with a stuffed belly and a head equally stuffed with ideas.

Quiet evening, with some visiting, and some packing. Up early on Friday, back on the road by 8. Stopped in Ongonquit for breakfast at Bessie’s. I’ve wanted to eat there for years, but this was the first time I figured out where to park. It was excellent.

Also stopped at a great thrift store at the York/Kittery line and got some wonderful deals, including a pair of metal deer that were obviously hand-crafted and bolted in a unique manner — I’ll have to photograph them at some point.

Home in the afternoon, unpacking, sorting out the cats. Exhausted.

Saturday, worked on the short story, ran around and did some errands. Started cleaning and straightening the place for the holidays. Wondered why the six-foot eggplant in the living rooms was so dusty — and realized it was MOVING! BUGS! The entire plant was infested. The other plants nearby were infested. The curtains were infested. Things were crawling up the walls.

Took the plant out, disposed of it responsibly and sterilized the pot. Washed the other plants to try to save them. Stripped the room and scrubbed it, sterilized it top to toe, vacuumed and laundered the curtains, washed the walls, vacuumed everything remotely vacuum-able, scrubbed everything scrubbable. Stripped down and scrubbed myself in the shower with castile soap (ow) and immediately washed all my clothes in hot water. It took hours. Sprinkled mint everywhere.

Tessa and the twins brawled. There was literally fur flying, but the twins have stopped picking on her.

The next morning, the mint worked and overcame anything left in the windows, but I found some other plants infested in two other rooms. We’ve lost all the eggplants (which were still giving us eggplants) and the green peppers. One of the strawberries was infested, and all the foxgloves.

Headed to Country Gardens. They told me it was spider mites, and what I thought were bites all over my hands, arms, and torso was an allergic reaction to their sticky secretions. Ginger (an anti-inflammatory) offset that. Anyway, they gave me a spray for the plants. I soaked whatever was salvageable, wiped off the dead things once the leaves were dry, and have those plants in quarantine. And scrubbed everything again.

The spray worked. And now I know how to deal with it the next time it happens.

Fourteen hours on it yesterday. The house looks like a tornado hit it. But it’s clean enough to use as an operating room.

I’m sure spider mites exist in NYC, but they tend to choke on the bus fumes, like the rest of us. I never had them in the apartment. I’d never seen the larvae, and didn’t know what it was. It looked like dust. Until it hatched and started moving. Ewwww. And they had to work fast, because we checked all the plants on Wednesday morning and they were fine.

Also managed to put together the Christmas tree and put up the Advent Table (it was the First of Advent yesterday). Deocration boxes are now also all over the place.

If I’m lucky, I’ll get it cleaned up by Christmas. 😦

Good morning writing session. Headed off-Cape for a meeting this morning, then back to try to get some yard work done (the neighbors spent all weekend making their lawns pristine and have ALL their decorations up — I feel so disorganized) and comment on the short story assignment for my class.

I’d love to have a mini-melt-down, but, honesty, there’s just no time.

Today’s word count: 1357
Total word count: 92,360

Published in: on November 28, 2011 at 9:45 am  Comments (4)  
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Saturday, Octoer 29, 2011

The tree in Mother’s Park that’s nearly 100 years old

Saturday, October 29, 2011
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

We’re battening down for our first Nor’easter of the season. I’m glad we’re safely tucked in here, and not in the process of moving, like we were at this time last year!

Today is my mother’s 87th birthday! Happy birthday! She had a BAG of books waiting for her on the table this morning. Yup — I went to the bookstore yesterday, bought a bag, and filled it with books! That and the cheesecake she requested are her favorite birthday treats.

In honor of her birthday, today’s essay on A BIBLIO PARADISE celebrates Sharon Shinn, one of our favorite authors. And, if you haven’t left a comment to welcome Mary Abshire, I hope you’ll do so, scrolling down to the previous day’s post.

Yesterday was busy, and this morning was busy. I keep rewriting the pivotal scene in the harpy book. Just going to keep hacking at it until I get it right. I’m closer, I’m almost close enough where I’ll have enough sorted out so I can move on without seriously tripping myself up further down the line. I wrote between 3-4,000 words. And tossed them all out. All of them, including “and” and “the.”

We went to Falmouth yesterday — got some of the ornaments I’m donating to a charity tree, bought new pillows for my bed, got some long-sleeved shirts for winter yoga! Set up the grow light and the tomatoes, et al, are happy. The Big King eggplant is practically spitting a harvest of eggplants at us. I’m not complaining.

This morning, since we’re supposed to have horribly strong storm winds, I hosed down the patio furniture (instead of the thorough scrubbing I planned to do next week), took in the rest of the pots I’d washed and the iron plant stand, pulled back the potted plants that will stay out all winter (the hollies, the tiny oak, the witch hazel, the lilac which will stay through the first big frost and then get moved to the garage to go dormant. As soon as the furniture dries, I’ll take it in, rub it with teak oil, and put it where it’s going for the winter. The bench is going at the end of my mom’s bed, the tables will hold flowers, and the chairs will be folded up and stored in the garage. I’d hoped to do part of the Samhain celebration on the deck, but I don’t think that’s going to work this year.

Baked banana bread. Will spend time with my students. I have a class to wrap up this weekend.

Am getting a little restless with an organization with whom I have a fairly good and long-term relationship. I feel that, for the percentage of the fee they keep to administrate, they should be problem-solving, not expecting ME to problem solve for them. I”m there to show up and do my job, NOT administrate. I was moaning to a friend who said, “You’re outgrowing them, that’s all. They run things the way they run them, and you keep evolving, as you should.”

That was a good perspective and a good articulation to hear. It fits in with the restlessness I feel, only I hadn’t looked at it from that perspective –a perspective that will help me make decisions without getting frustrated.

My buddy Costume Imp had to cancel his trip to London this week and pack up and move his stuff and his cats quickly because of an ongoing mold problem in the apartment that his scumbag landlords simply ignored. Poor thing! But he’s in a better situation, and I’m sure he will have a great holiday season now.

Because, yeah, the “Holiday Season” has begun — from now through Twelfth Night, we’re all going full out!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Busy, busy, busy, but in a good way. Lots of errands yesterday, which wound up with me buying more yoga pants, more bamboo pants that can go from yoga to real life, and a pair of Michael Kors black stovepipe pants that look like they were personally fitted. A spangly shirt and some cute heels, and I’m set for the holidays. And I have plenty of festive shirts and sweaters and nice heels.

Went to Staples, hoping they could undercut the printing prices. Nope. Nearly $500 to print the packets for the conference. And that’s not even bound. I can do it at home for less than $100, not counting time. As it was, my grand total for the purchases made me want to throw up. But it was necessary for my work.

Grabbed a nice lunch on the go from a place in Hyannis, ate, and continued the errands. Didn’t find everything I needed, but found plenty I wasn’t looking for. Isn’t that always the way?

Spent time with students. Tomorrow I wind up one of the workshops, which will be good. The people who had something to say were lively and articulate. It was fun, I appreciated their contributions and points of view. I suspect there were lurkers who, as usual, hadn’t bothered to read the material and therefore didn’t say a word. Whatever. The Harry Potter, next month, is my final deconstruction workshop for the forseeable future. It should be fun and I expect people well-versed in Potter to show up. And then I don’t have to fight with those who take these workshops, but can’t be bothered to read the material ahead of time. It’s in the blurb, so why do they act surprised when we dive right in? The amount of time I put in versus the amount of money are out of balance, so I’m glad to be done with them for awhile.

I’m really proud of the group in Scaling the Wall — they embraced the exercise, even though it was both short and difficult, and came up with creative solutions.

The Year-Long is chugging away. Most of them are in good shape. A few are falling behind a little, and I’m worried that if they start falling behind so early, they will never catch up.

I’m feeling pretty good about the Harpy book, although I may wind up with too much book and it may need to be split in two. The plot is pretty tight, but the threads that feed into it cover a lot of ground. I’ll write the whole thing and then see what I have to do with it. I can’t worry about final word count this early in the process. The characters and situations are rich. I need to layer in some more setting and sensory detail in the rewrite, but that’s part of why we have revisions.

The second round of Energy Assessment happens in a few minutes, so that will tear a chunk out of the day. Pet Smart has cat toys on sale, so I might go over and get the girls some new toys (like they don’t have 847 toys already) to keep them busy.


Today’s word count: 1321
Total word count: 17,148

Published in: on October 8, 2011 at 7:36 am  Comments (3)  
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and warm

First of all, hop on over to A Biblio Paradise and celebrate the release of my friend Michelle Miles’s new book, ONE KNIGHT ONLY. Congrats, Michelle!

Tired, but it’s a good tired. Got some work done in the morning, Drove to Wareham. Didn’t find what I needed at Lowe’s, but at a combination of other stores, unexpectedly got almost all my fall/winter shopping done: three pairs of yoga pants (two eco-friendly and amazingly comfortable that can also double as “real people pants” to go out in with tunics or long sweaters), some sports bras, three shirts, a pair of subtle Glen-Plaid dress slacks, and a pair of shoes. The shoes are really for spring and summer — turquoise suede peep-toe skiimmers. I had my eye on them earlier this year, but didn’t want to spend the money. However, they were about 85% off — I got them for $6.29! So I’m a happy camper.

And, of course, stopped at the Lindt outlet to stock up on chocolate, what with a new book to start on Saturday and all! 😉

Spent most of the afternoon organizing the storage room. We’re getting an anergy assessment on Monday, and I have to get at least the storage room organized (the basement is a lost cause). Unpacked more than a dozen boxes, rearranged things, did four loads of laundry as I discovered sheets, towels, blankets, linens. More work on that today.

And I finally have the creativity altar for the Year-Long the way I want it!

However, that meant that I was up until midnight catching up with student work. I collapsed into bed, exhausted, and dreamed about a mishmash of everyone’s stories being one big tale.



Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011
Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Saturday was all about class, which was good. Caught up with my students, commented on work, answered questions.

Sunday morning, I hit the road a little after 8 AM. Traffic was heavy, but moving. I had the music turned up, and it was a reasonably smooth ride. I stopped in Old Saybrook, at my favorite place, and picked up a variety of oddities — small pottery bowls, whorled glass vases, wooden hatboxes, mercury glass candleholders, etc. along with a lamp I liked for the bedroom — only I didn’t pay attention to the kind of bulb it needs, and it may be more decorative than useful. But that’s okay; I still like it.

Arrived in CT. Tried to get settled. Went out to get Chinese take out in Greenwich. Instead of my familiar haunts, I went to the closest, Hunan Gourmet in the Whole Foods Plaza, which was about 20 minutes away instead of 30+. Well, THAT was a mistake. When I got back and unpacked, I found they left the moo shu pork out of the moo shu pork order. The pancakes and the rice were there, but no filling. When I called, the response was, “oh, yeah, we found it in the kitchen. We wondered which order it went to.” EXCUSE ME???? Supposedly there’s no manager on duty or anyone I can talk to. I go back and they hand me the congealed, tepid thing that’s now been sitting there for 40 minutes. No interest in making it right, no interest in giving me my money back or re-filling the order properly. By the time I got the tepid mess back, the pancakes were like glue, and when reheated, resembled rubber tire treads. On top of that, the reheated moo shu was just plain BAD, and the spring rolls had shrimp in them, even though I had specifically asked before I ordered, telling them I’m allergic to shrimp, and was told there was no shrimp in them. Not only did I have a lousy mess of a “dinner” that THEY messed up and didn’t make right or refund my money — and they were TWICE the price of any other place around here — it made me sick. Literally. I had a miserable night. I should have driven the extra ten minutes to one or fifteen minutes to another restaurant I know, where I know the service and the quality are good.

It would have been so simple to make it right — either replace the full order or refund my money. If I’d wandered off and left it sitting on the counter, it would have been on me — but they couldn’t be bothered to fill the order properly. And it was sealed and the contents attached, meaning it had been checked before it was brought out.

Yeah, they are going to hear from me, as it the state’s restaurant board and the BBB. Not acceptable on any level. And I reviewed them on Trip Advisor.

I”m still feeling lousy today, but I have work to do, and then I have to go back on the road in the late afternoon to drive home.

But that’s the way it goes sometimes.

I’d like to go back to bed, but that’s not an option right now.


Published in: on September 26, 2011 at 7:56 am  Comments (4)  
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Scheduled to post

I LOVE Friday the 13th!!! One of my favorite days in the calendar!

Yeah, I’m scheduling it to post, since I’m on the road again, headed back to CT. Wednesday was busy. And Thursday was busy and I didn’t manage my time properly, so by the time I could sit down at the computer, it was kind of pointless to post.

We went to Wareham to hit a bunch of the box stores. Not much worthwhile — that’s what you get when you’re doing that kind of shopping when Mercury is NOT retrograde! 😉 But I found good buckets at Lowe’s for a good price. And some spring cosmetics. And a shopping bag full of chocolate from the new Lindt factory outlet!

Managed to get some of the plants in the ground — hope they like it there! There were about 45 minutes of sun, and I took advantage of it to plant.

Caught up with my students, worked on prep for the lecture class starting May 23, fielded offers to write some articles for a couple of publications I like a lot and read regularly, but have to figure out if it will work on both creative and financial levels in this time frame.

Anyway, I’m on the road, and I have an intense weekend of work ahead of me. I’m already looking forward to heading back home on Monday night!


Published in: on May 13, 2011 at 1:19 am  Comments (2)  
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Monday, January 24, 2011

A CT winter wonderland

Monday, January 24, 2011
Waning Moon
Coldcoldcoldcoldcoldcoldcold (you get the picture)

OK, we’ve got some catching up to do.

I made a run for it Thursday afternoon, after I scrubbed the house down. The cats were beside themselves — Violet: “You’re dead to me! Talk to the tail!” Iris: “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, we’re going to die cold and hungry and alone” — this from a cat who never missed a meal in ten years.

Drive down was fine — and the gas at my favorite station just over the bridge is nearly fifty cents a gallon cheaper than in CT! Driving through Providence was annoying as usual, there was a lot of plowing/roadwork around Niantic, and from New Haven down it was just too many trucks. But the Merritt was too risky, so I stayed on I-95, gritted my teeth, and dealt with the trucks.

Did some work when I got to CT, did some prep work for February’s gigs down here, got settled. Went to bed way too early.

Snow was nowhere near as bad on Friday as they predicted.

My car, however, rocks. In typical tri-state fashion, the plow guy and his shovel guys show up. I have to move my car so they can plow the entire driveway (there were already two cars in the garage, so I couldn’t stash it). I parked in a way that they could plow almost the whole driveway and my car had kept the areas in front of the double garage clear. But they wanted to plow that part — where the only snow was ON my car — too. In order for them to do that, I had to move my car — into the unplowed part of the drive.

Of course, I’d called the guy more than a dozen times on Thursday to ask him where he wanted me to leave the car; he never picked up and he doesn’t have voice mail.

So I hold out the key.

“No, no, no, the car will never make it.” They’re shaking their heads and being typical workers in this area. Three of them standing around, shaking their heads, saying it can’t be done.

On the Cape, where they have a fetish for driving other people’s cars, it would have happened lickity split. Of course, on the Cape, they would have either answered the phone or had voice mail and it would have been sorted out ahead of time.

I wipe the snow off the windshield and the back window, start the car, hop over the snowbank (it is, after all, a Rabbit), he plowed where he didn’t need to, and then the snowbank I’d just crested, and I put the car right back where it was.

So not impressed with them. But at least I didn’t have to shovel a long, treacherous, slanted gravel drive.

Caught up on email and workshops.

Then, there’s Mousie. Yep, we had ourselves a little critter in CT. Now, I love Christmas mice as much as the next person (I was complaining at their dearth this past holiday season), dressed in Victorian costumes, singing and dancing. The real ones? Not so much. Especially when I’m cat-less.

I didn’t see it, or I’d be typing this from the top of the refrigerator or hanging from the chandelier. I don’t do well with real mice. In fact, one of the best-received monologues from my show WOMEN WITH AN EDGE had to do with being a single woman dealing with a mouse. But I saw evidence (you know what that means) along with a gnawed wooden spoon.

Fortunately, in my writing bag, I always carry a can opener, a wine opener (because you never know when you might need to open a bottle of wine) and a set of wooden spoons. I kid you not. It’s separate from what I keep in the kitchen, and those items living in the writing bag except when I’m using them on site jobs.

Now, we had the occasional mouse in the NYC apartment. Although, it must have been a pretty stupid mouse to venture in when there were four cats. Felicia was the huntress and handled it (I used to bring her to the theatre to hunt mice there, too); Elsa always tried to protect the mouse (thereby scaring it half to death). I don’t know what the twins will do when confronted with them (because we’re bound to have mice at some point in the Cape house. I’m hoping the pack of Maine Coons across the street go a-hunting in our yard when it comes to mice. And I will sit down and explain to the girls that anything that comes into the house — part of the deal is that they take care of it.

Finished my assignment for Confidential Job #1 and got it off on time, which was nice. I’m reading Antonia Frasier’s memoir of her life with Harold Pinter, MUST YOU GO?, which is beautiful. A playwright and a biographer/novelist living, loving, and working together — in a way that works. Harold Pinter was one of the most brilliant playwrights of modern times, and Antonia Frasier’s written some of the biographies I most admire. Excellent reading.

Up early on Saturday morning. Yoga in the front room, with all the glass windows, with the moonlight spilling across the snow. Just gorgeous.

In this house, the downstairs bathroom is the one with the shower. And the big windows with the blinds that are stuck in the “up” position. Sigh. Here’s hoping it was far too early and the other houses were far too away for me to provide any opportunities for morning voyeurism. I used bathwash supposed to smell like margaritas, so I even smelled like a cocktail at 6:30 AM. Actually, it smelled like the lovely fragrant part of a margarita, with the undertone notes of alcohol gone, so it was quite lovely.

The trip back was pretty smooth. Not much traffic out, and what was out moved smoothly. We stopped at the store in Old Saybrook — I bought a few vintage linens, and priced out some Adirondack chairs that looked good, and for which I might have to go back. Stopped in Mystic to pick up the sauce we like at the Franklin General Store, and to pick up some incense at Mystical Elements. And then, home we went.

It was so good to be home. If you haven’t read my piece, The Sense of Being Home, please do, because it explains a lot of why this place is so important to me.

Got unpacked, fed the cats who were happy to see us for once, instead of angry, slipped a pizza into the oven, had dinner, relaxed, etc. Just enjoyed the fact of being HOME, now that we have a lovely place to so call.

Up early the next morning, morning routine, got everything all sorted out for the walk at Ashumet Holly Sanctuary. Layered up, as if I was doing a location shoot — tights under jeans, thick socks over tights, a thermal shirt covered by a fleece shirt, covered by my sweatshirt from when I worked on FLOWER DRUM SONG’s Broadway revival (best sweatshirt I own), fleece vest over it (so I could stick my driver’s license, money, and keys in it and not carry a purse), big LL Bean coat over that, hat, gloves, scarf, boots. On the way to the Sanctuary, I stopped at the store to both buy the Sunday papers and get hand and foot warmers. Put the foot warmers on in the car, kept the hand warmers to insert later, when my hands got cold. Also downed a big mug of ginger tea before I left.

wintergreen growing wild on an Ashumet hillside

I just love that Sanctuary. I can’t wait until the weather’s a little warmer, so I can come and wander around at will, or bring my notebook and just move from place to place, writing. It seems like a really good spot to write. And, of course, now I’m getting obsessed with the various varieties of hollies, so it’s the perfect place — it both started and feeds my obsession.

The walk was lovely, a small, lively group that included one of the founders of an organization which protects open space in Falmouth (she co-lead), and a columnist whose work I read every week and thoroughly enjoy. We got some wonderful handouts that I read thoroughly once I got home, and a key that I will take to wander around the backyard and learn what I’ve got there, then take with me to other places on the Cape, so I can learn how to identify various trees.

I’m very sad that the Hemlock is being attacked by some insect –a woolly something (how stupid, I’ve been told its name a half a dozen times and can’t retain it). I’m very fond of hemlock, and I hate to see it destroyed. There’s got to be something that some clever botanist or herbalist can devise that will destroy Mr. Woolly Whatsits without killing everything else. I’m sure they’ve tried a bunch of things, but there’s got to be something that will eat or kill Woolly Whatsits. And I’m sure they’ll keep trying until they find it, but I hope it’s not too late. People wonder why I’m interested in poisonous plants and herbs — it’s not just to find interesting ways to bump people off in my mysteries, but it’s to see if there are ways to steward/manage habitat without doing pesticide damage (people just have to look out for their own damn selves and learn what’s poisonous. I’m interested in stewardship of plants and animals).

There’s a lot of bittersweet climbing all over things, too. Something is niggling at the back of my brain — I learned something about bittersweet lately, a use for it, and I can’t remember. I’m going to have to poke through my books and notes and find it.

Anyway, the walk was fascinating, and I learned a lot (let’s hope I can retain it). I also, finally, saw what a bayberry bush looks like! That was pretty cool. And learned that the huckleberry bush that’s arriving later in the spring will thrive in full sun, so that is what I will give it.

Yeah, I was cold, but not distractingly so, which meant I could pay attention to what was being said and going on and really enjoy it.

Came home, warmed up with hot soup, and out the door again. First to PetSmart, to replenish the kitty cupboard, then to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things (and exchange tips with the check out clerk on what to do with pancetta. I love that the clerks actually talk to the customers here instead of ignoring them to talk to each other). To Christmas Tree Shops where they had some pretty clay pots on sale, decent quality, great price. So bought five of those — two big ones for tomatoes, and three smaller ones for various herbs. Then to CVS for a couple of things, and back over to the grocery store in Marstons Mills to stock up.

Home, spaghetti and meatballs for dinner (I’m experimenting with meatball recipes), caught up on the workshops, watched JULIE AND JULIA on HBO. I remember that it got lousy reviews except for Meryl Streep’s performance, but I thought, overall, it was well done. I certainly found Amy Adams’s Julie Powell more charming that the Julie in the book.

Checked the house, the pipes, the furnace, everything before bedtime so nothing would go kerplooey in the night with the below zero temperatures.

Up at a decent hour, angry at Comcast (yeah, that’s new and different. Not). Not only do they bill me multiple times per month for a whole month, now they’re adding made-up charges, claiming I have an “unreturned modem” and have cut off service to the box for the second television. More paperwork to file, including a fraud claim with the MA Attorney General’s office, and a petition to the State Legislator to cut Comcast’s stranglehold on the Cape. They should not have a monopoly and be the only choice out here, especially when they treat their customers like this.

At least I had a good first writing session of the day, although I have to buckle down and get a lot more writing done today. And, I am determined to finish taking down/putting away the holiday decorations, once and for all! It will look bare, but that’s okay; I’ll soon have other decor up as we unpack.

To the page. And the paperwork.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT
Sunny and cold

Drove to Wareham and spent my lovely giftcard at Target. Got a bunch of organizational stuff for the house, plus a new thermal carafe coffee-maker (now I don’t have to wrap a dishtowel around the coffeepot to keep it warm), and, on a frivolous note, a new purple cloche hat. I love cloche hats, and it’s really cute!

While we were there, we nipped in to the Michael’s there (much nicer than the one in Hyannis) and to DSW, just because. I fell in love with a pair of unique Liz Claiborne suede flats, but they were a size 8. I wear 8 1/2-9. Of course, they were the only pair in the store. I figured what the heck, I’ll try them on.

They fit PERFECTLY. And were on the clearance rack. And are very, very comfortable. I can wear them with pretty much everything I own.

Stopped at a garden store on the way back, but they didn’t have anything (on sale) that I wanted; stopped at a well-known fruit market, which had some cool stuff, but $1/apple? Really? Uh, not very often. Especially for common varieties.

Iris gave us a big scare because, for a couple of hours, we couldn’t find her. We called and called and tossed the house upside down. We finally found her asleep in the bottom of the laundry basket, under a quilt I haven’t yet put away. Damn cat! Nearly gave us a heart attack!

They run and hide when the door opens, so it’s a pretty good bet they don’t dash out when we’re unloading the car (plus, I usually close the garage door), but one never knows. They’re quick little things, and if one of them slithered out . . .

The Christmas cactus is bursting into white bloom in my writing room, which is lovely.

Today, we have to go to the dump and then go grocery shopping. Word from CT is that the grocery store shelves down there are bare (trucks can’t get in because the snow’s not yet cleared away), so we come bearing supplies. And then I have to stop by the insurance broker’s again — there’s yet more kerflamma with the car insurance — we got a statement from a “group” including our new company that has NOTHING to do with what we agreed on, and is nearly $500 more than I was quoted. No. I don’t care about the details. Make that number go away and change the piece of paper to reflect what we discussed. I don’t care about the details. Do it.

Verizon kept at me yesterday, claiming they were trying to “help” me — of course, for a price. I made it very clear that I know part of their responsibility under law is to protect me from harassment — without extorting me for it. Either they step up, or they, too, will be named in the legal complaint filed. I’m not wasting hours on the phone with them; I’m not paying additional fees. Meet your side of the contract, or I file against you.

My contract with Verizon is up in mid-September of 2011. (Remember when my mother’s phone died and they wouldn’t let me replace it without agreeing to a new two year contract? Shysters). Hopefully, I can buy an iPhone then and just switch everything over to AT&T, or switch to some other provider. Not that I think AT&T is all that great either, but Verizon needs to step up service to keep me as a customer (they already lost my business for landline and internet). I’m sure part of this is that the regulated fees, in general, are cheaper in MA, so my monthly bill is slightly less, so they’re trying to get more money out of me in a different way. And I can’t just add a service for a few months and then cancel it — according to them, it would be part of a new contract and mean extending the current contract, which I’m not going to do.

My back is in very bad shape, mostly because I’m just taking pain block instead of dealing with the problem. But certain things need to be done within a certain time frame, and there’s no one else to do them.

I want to get some writing done today, and finish polishing the Plum lectures. Hopefully, I can post the welcome and first lessons for both workshops today or tomorrow. Since I’ll be offline on the 2nd and most of the 3rd, I want to make sure the students have everything they need to start.

I am so ready for this Mercury Retrograde to be over, I can’t even believe it. But at least I got a pair of great chairs and some other much-needed items for the house out of it!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Iris under the tree

Saturday, December 25, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Christmas Day

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and happy weekend to those who don’t.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth if you get a chance — I have a short post for the holiday.

I got my chairs yesterday, and am totally in love with them. I had to struggle up an unplowed road (the car was NOT amused), but we did it — twice — and made two round trips to get both chairs home.

Iris investigates one of the pair of new chairs.

The chairs look nice, they’re comfortable, and the cats are fascinated by them. Maybe they smell of the dog in the house, although the legs look like there was a cat involved at some point. No matter what, they’re fabulous, the price was completely within the budget ($50 for the pair) — a true example of Mercury Retrograde at its best.

Finished the grocery shopping. Mail came early, packages kept coming, including Fed Ex (who doesn’t feel it’s beneath him to leave the truck, unlike UPS). I feel very spoiled this year, and very unapologetic about it! 😉

I’m writing this in the afternoon of the Eve, scheduling it to post. I’ve got the pork roast in the oven. I’ll make my leek-and-potato dish to go with it, and the green beans with Hollandaise. We’ll have plum pudding for dessert. We will try lighting a fire again this evening, and hope I’ve got the flue figured out properly. We’ll know pretty quickly if I don’t. We do our big celebration on the Eve, so we’ll be drinking our good cheer and opening gifts tonight.

We plan to get up very early on the morning of the Day, peek into our stockings, give the cats their toys and treats, bake biscuits, and take a look at the weather to find out if we think we can make it to Maine and back for dinner.

I’ve got a pleasant, relaxing Boxing Day planned for Sunday, complete with a turkey and all the fixings, like potatoes, and my carrot-and-parsnip dish. We have plenty of sweet things with which to indulge, too!

I’ll check back in on Monday, power permitting. We may get another foot of snow on Sunday night. My new little snowblower and I will be very busy!

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!


Violet wishes you a Merry Christmas, too!

Published in: on December 25, 2010 at 1:44 am  Comments (7)  
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Friday, November 26, 2010

I have a lot of leaves to rake

Friday, November 26, 2010
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I could not get my act together and get out of the house on Wednesday. I was stumbling around totally incoherently. But we finally got on the road and headed for Maine. Not a bad ride, although going through the “Big Dig” tunnels under Boston was a little scary. But we did it, and hit the portions of road that were familiar.

We made many of our usual stops — a few places in Kittery, Stonewall Kitchen to stock up on jams and sauces (and their Coastal Morning Coffee is really good), a thrift shop in York (where I found some unique, hand-made bud vases and a fish-shaped copper mold. We wanted to have lunch at the Stolen Menu Cafe in York, one of our favorite places, but it’s only serving breakfast this week, and we missed out. I did A LOT of shopping in NH at the liquor store (no taxes on liquor), and, in the attached gift shop, found a lovely rosemary and mint soap. I’m extremely partial to rosemary soap and it’s hard to find. In addition to loving the smell, it’s a wonderful antiseptic, so if you have a cut, it helps fight/heal infection.

We wound up in Ongonquit, at the Bread and Roses Cafe — although it’s closed for the season, it’s open this week. I got a phenomenal apple turnover, and my mom had the best elephant ear she’s ever had. The coffee was from CarpeDiem, and is some of the best coffee I ever had. What a treat! Again, here are examples of independent artisans doing something better than any mass-produced place could come up with, and at fair prices. I also bought eclairs to take home. Have you ever seen anything like these?

We got to Maine as late as we usually do when we leave from New York! But the family was glad to see us. We unpacked, distributed the little gifties, and I started heating up the dinner. The stove is a very old electric burner one, so it took for damn ever, but, eventually, we got it warm. The beef stroganoff was a hit, as was the lemon cake.

My great-uncle has lost most of his hearing, so you have to pretend you’re standing on an Elizabethan stage projecting to the rafters to have a conversation. But then, he will be 94 this year, and is still living on his own and getting around pretty well, so I’d say he’s doing all right.

I was supposed to go over to visit my cousins, hang out, and help with the onions, but I was so tired I was afraid I’d pass out face down in the bowl. I was in bed by 8 PM. And I slept straight through until 6.

I still felt a little wonky in the morning, despite all the sleep, but had a good breakfast. I spent the morning polishing my lectures for next week’s SECONDHAND SPIRITS workshop — I hope some of you will join me. I’m getting really excited about it.

We headed over to the hall around noon. I jumped into the kitchen, as I usually do, to help with the mashed potatoes, the sweet potatoes, and whatever I could to set up. The potato masher is four feet long, so that should give you an idea of how many potatoes we cook!

Dinner was great — somewhere between 50 and 60 people for dinner, everyone in a good mood and happy to see each other. Most of us only get to see each other once a year, although now that I’m closer, I hope I can get up more often. And I invited everyone to visit. They were joking that they’d charter a bus and all come down — only maybe they weren’t joking! 😉 Hey, as long as I have enough advance notice to stock the cupboards, I’m used to feeding actors, I can feed them, and we can all hang out on the deck.

I didn’t stay until the bitter end of clean-up, which I usually do, because we needed to get back on the road. We left around 2:30. It was a surprisingly smooth ride, with the Big Dig a little scary again, but from Boston down to the Cape, I was surprised by the depth of traffic. It all moved well, so it wasn’t a problem; there was just a lot of it.

Got back around 6:30, unloaded the car. The cats were exactly where we left them — I don’t know if they moved in the whole 48 hours, poor things. They were very upset. We spent the evening trying to calm them down. I think I have to take Iris to the vet next week, poor little thing.

Watched a public television special on European Christmas traditions, which was lovely. Had a nice glass of wine, ate those enormous eclairs (and got whipped cream all over everything). Went to bed at a reasonable hour.

Up early this morning, at my usual time (at least it wasn’t 4 AM, finally) — yoga, meditation, fed the cats, made the coffee, to my desk. Tried to write a bit on the Willowspring Grove novel, but I’m feeling very disconnected from it. I think I’ll have to type in some of what I’ve handwritten to get back into its flow.

On today’s agenda is more work on the lectures for next week, blog posts I owe Savvy Authors, and getting started on an article I landed to write for WOMEN ON WRITING that’s due in less than a month. Since I have to interview experts for it, I have to get those questions out ASAP to give them adequate time. I also need to unpack a lot more, especially in the kitchen, run a few loads of dishes through the dishwasher and laundry through the washer/dryer. I’d like to vaccum and scrub the bathrooms down, too.

I need to call the Natural History Museum to confirm Saturday and call Mattress World to order my split box.

It’s raw and rainy, so I can’t do any yard work (but I like the sound of the rain against the house, and feeling all cozy inside). I don’t shop on Black Friday — I’m not that nuts and I don’t wait in line and scramble to pay people for merchandise. You really want my business? Serve me champagne and h’ors d’oeuvres! Don’t think I’ll stand in line all night to dash in and save a few bucks. Just not worth it. I can find individual artisans who create unique gifts at fair prices and don’t make me jump through hoops to part me from my money.

I notice on my bills that, although MA’s nickname is “Taxachussetts”, the taxes are less than in NY. On my cell phone bill alone, I’m saving $4/month in taxes, which will add up to $48 over the course of a year.

That’s a lot of cat treats.

The Hounds of the Baskervilles were very busy baying at something early this morning. The cats were not amused. And the Westie across the street is sitting in the window, waiting patiently all day for his person to come home.



Published in: on November 26, 2010 at 8:11 am  Comments (4)  
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Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I took Elsa to the holistic practitioner yesterday, and we had a good session. Elsa was friendly and cooperative, as usual, and seemed to like the treatments — so much so that she didn’t want to leave! She’s moving better, and she seems more alert and more comfortable. Her nose stopped running. But she’s still not eating enogh. I realize I need to give the treatment a few days to take hold (plus, we have our daily “homework” to do), but I’m still worried. But at least she’s more comfortable, and that’s the most important thing. I really liked the woman doing the work, and we will do another session next week.

She confirmed my original instincts, and arrived at her conclusion without prompting from me — there’s severe chemical stress and environmental toxins. I’m showing exceptionally high levels of the same toxins Elsa shows. In other words, our scumbag landlords are, literally, killing us by using toxic materials. Can we prove it in a court of law? Doubtful. But, with the elderly and pet deaths we’ve had on the rise since they took over the building, it all fits. Not to mention that their intent is to get all the long-term residents out, and they’ve made it clear they don’t care if we’re carried out in pine boxes.

Yet another incentive to leave.

We spent a quiet afternoon in the air conditioning, letting Elsa’s treatment settle. She slept peacefully, with the other two curled up around her, which hasn’t happened in a very long time. Violet, in particular, is delighted. She missed her best friend. Her sister usually works her last nerve (as sisters sometimes do).

I’m off prop and herb shopping today, up in CT. I have to get everything together and do the photo shoot for the new book this weekend, along with re-reading the manuscript to write pithy blurb copy, putting up the web page, filing out the rest of the required PR and cover art paperwork, outlining the next book for them (it’s not a series, but a set of characters we met in this book going off to have their own adventure), and reading my friend’s manuscript. So, it will be an intense weekend.

I had an excellent writing session this morning on the other WIP, the first book in the Willowspring Grove series. About 1700 words, not too shabby. I could have done more, but I ran out of time. I have to get on the road — many miles and things to do today, in order to get everything done on time. Tomorrow, I’ll have to dig some stuff out of storage, out of my prop boxes, and maybe hit Target. I’d like to do the photo shoot tomorrow, but it may wind up being on Sunday. If I do it tomorrow, and things don’t look good enough, I can reshoot on Sunday. Boy, do I wish I had my lighting equipment still! I gave it all up when I moved out of the city, thinking I wouldn’t need it again.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, November 12, 2009


Thursday, November 12, 2009
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I’d only planned to be out for about an hour. It was six hours before I got home. We went to Trader Joe’s, to stock up. We went to one of my favorite go-to stores in Larchmont, got there early, and wandered around the block, enjoying all the small shops and speciality food stores in the area — really great stuff. The go-to didn’t have my skirt — or anything else. Stopped at a few other stores. Nothing — although I did pick u some lovely glass ornaments. Kohl’s — a store I can’t stand but every once in awhile can find something basic. Nothing. The one here is just as rude and filthy as ever. On a whim, we went to White Plains — Target included. Nothing. Nordstrom Rack. I’ve never found anything I liked at Nordstrom Rack, so I could have skipped it. Nothing except a bunch of sick, snotty, crying children spewing germs all over the merchandise while their mothers ignored them to shop. I’m sorry, but especially in the era of H1N1, when you have a kid in the top risk category and the kid is sick — STAY HOME! It’s not fair to the kid to drag him around, and it’s not fair to put others at risk.

Had a lovely lunch at Legal Seafoods. Tried TJ Maxx — nothing. Stopped in at Christmas Tree Shops — packed, merchandise all over the floor, dirty, generally gross. The one in Hyannis is much nicer.

Didn’t make it to Macy’s or JP Penny. Had HAD it. I looked at Land’s End online – no luck. No luck at J. Crew or Gap or Banana Republic, either.

I’m pulling out the pattern books and also going through my patterns to see what I have for skirt patterns and fabric. There’s no way I can make something in time for Thanksgiving — between the site job, the DC trip and the other stuff that has to happen between getting back form DC and leaving from Maine — I’ll have to figure out a fallback outfit for the dinner and maybe pick up something in Kittery. Maybe Ann Taylor or Liz Claiborne will have something.

Finished re-reading THE ALCOTTS and also read Deborah Blake’s THE GODDESS IS IN THE DETAILS, which is quite a lovely book.

Worked on “Digging”, The Christmas story, and Blair Holland. Working out of sequence on Blair Holland, I see the enormous plot holes. I’m going to use travel time to and from DC next week to percolate and plug those plot holes. The Christmas story is going very well, although I have to keep stopping in order to do research on Christmas in this region in 1898.

I’ve got to run and put something in the safety deposit box this morning, but then it’s back to the page.

Can you believe it’s Thanksgiving two weeks from TODAY?


Published in: on November 12, 2009 at 8:13 am  Comments (6)  
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