Tues. March 15, 2022: Don’t Get All Stabby On Me

Image courtesy of Thomas B via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

If you’re familiar with Julius Caesar and The Ides of March, you’ll get the reference.

The March mid-month check-in post is over on the GDR site.

Anyway, on Thursday, I got some work done in the morning. I then did the rounds of the library, picking up my birthday cake, post office, liquor store. I participated in Freelance Chat. As I did, I realized that everything I HAD to do before Monday was. . .done.

I’d expected to be working until well into the evening to “justify” taking a three-day weekend. But there wasn’t anything in my script reading queue, I was waiting to hear back on a few things, I’d written my reviews. I could have started the next book for review, or worked on contest entries.

But I didn’t want to.

So I started my weekend on Thursday afternoon. I read books I wanted to read, including THE LOFT GENERATION by Edith Schloss, about abstract and modern artists who started living and working in lofts in NYC in the 1940’s. Excellent book.

Friday morning, we had smoked salmon Benedict as my birthday breakfast, which was excellent. We got into the car to head out for the birthday adventures. One of the windshield wiper blades snapped off, and the check engine light came back on. Really? The car only worked for four days?

I was not a happy camper.

We decided to truncate the day’s plans. We only went to Pittsfield, to the big book sale at the Atheneum. People were still masked, thank goodness, but it was very crowded, and I was uncomfortable. We didn’t stay very long. I bought some jazz and world music CDs, and a couple of books. My mom bought a few books. I couldn’t get near the older, interesting books, because a triad of dealers were there, scooping them up and blocking regular buyers from them.

On the way back, we stopped to get some cleaning supplies, more pots, potting soil, and some groceries to get us through the stormy weekend. People were talking about this storm with more concern than any of the storms so far this winter.

Home and settled in with the new books. I started reading a mystery, didn’t like it after 50 pages, read the ending; liked it less. It was everything that doesn’t work for me in a mystery: a dumb, nasty protagonist; smarmy, vicious ensemble of characters who don’t support the protagonist nor deserve the protagonist’s help; used “witch” as a slur against women; and an undercurrent of racism that I found sickening, like how dare the few black characters encroach on this safe white world. The book goes into a bag of donations I’m putting together for another book sale, and someone else can have it. It is not staying in this house, and I will not read something by this author again.

I had to wash my hands after putting it in the box, to get the stench off me.

I read the other book I’d bought, a paranormal urban fantasy with romantic elements. It worked better. It was a several books into a series I haven’t read, but it was clear about the story (without info dumping on the past). I read the blurbs for the next several in the series; not sure I’ll read them, because I don’t really like the overall series arc. But at least this was a few hours of reading pleasure.

Then, I started THE DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS by Sue Lynn Tan. Wow. Just wow. I read it Friday and finished it Saturday, even though it’s a pretty big book. But the writing is gorgeous. So beautiful. The worldbuilding, the characters, the storytelling. All wonderful. It’s a completely unique fantasy novel. The copy I read is from the library, but I think I will buy my own copy, because this is a book I will re-read.

I’d been stressing out about what to order for dinner on Friday night, worried I’d be disappointed in it. The restaurant I’d planned to order didn’t have anything on its changing menu that I really craved. So, instead, we ordered from the Freight Yard Pub, which isn’t far from us at all, and a couple of people have recommended it to me. My mom ordered her favorite fish & chips. I had stuffed chicken breast, mashed potatoes w/gravy, and roasted vegetables. The portions were huge, and it was quite good. Not a brilliant, life-changing meal, but good. I had prosecco with it, because it’s my birthday and I will damn well drink prosecco.

Although I’m seriously considering making like a Venetian and drinking prosecco regularly when the lunch is fancy enough.

I got so many lovely and loving birthday wishes via social media and email. It really made the day special.

Tessa got me up around 6 on Saturday. It was raining, but quickly changed over to snow. I thanked people for their good wishes, and answered birthday emails.

I spent the day going through books. Reading or rereading some, when I’d finished DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS. Going through some research books I’d gotten out of the library; I extracted what I needed, and they’re in the pile to go back.

I went through some of the art books that are here (I will have to retrieve others from storage, if and when the car is fixed so we can do a storage run). I’m looking for pieces that will inspire the short pieces under the three categories I’ve set aside for them. I looked at some terrific work – I’d forgotten how much impact Judy Chicago’s work has – but nothing that was a catalyst for any of those pieces. I’ll get some books from the college library this week, and see.

The snow kept pounding down, a heavy, wet snow. One of the books I’m assigned for review arrived, and it looks wonderful. I’m eager to dig into it this week.

I rested a lot. It’s a combination of birthday blues, stress about the car, worry about work, and general burnout.

I got a rejection on a short story, which was not unexpected, because it was a stretch market for me, and they were very nice in the letter. I’m going to take a look at it, see what needs to be tweaked, and find another market for it. Because I like it (or I wouldn’t have submitted it anywhere in the first place). It’s a combination of speculative fiction & mystery, with a dose of humor. But not a flash piece, it’s too long for that. And most of the paying markets now seem to want flash.

Had to change all the clocks before bedtime on Saturday, which made me grumble. I hate springing forward. When we fall back, I have extra energy for weeks. When we spring forward, I drag for days.

Up around 6 on Sunday, regular morning routine. Traditional eggs Benedict for breakfast, since it was still birthday weekend.

I rewrote a short story which had been rejected a few weeks back for being “too genre.” Hmm, when the submission call says they read regardless of genre as long as it fits the theme, then say something is too genre, gives me important information.

Anyway, I like the story, it’s a ghost story set in a theatre. I rewrote it a bit, to move it away from the submission call’s theme, and changed the protagonist’s name (which was part of the guidelines, and it didn’t suit her). I was looking for another market for it, but it seems ghost stories are now considered horror. This is more of a traditional ghost story, more paranormal with touches of mystery, than horror. I don’t think it’s dark enough for the horror markets I researched. I could go a little darker, but going too much darker would go in a direction I don’t really want.

However, there’s a middle section that’s set outside of the theatre (the beginning and end happen in the theatre). It underlines a theme and places a red herring. But maybe if I change that and keep all of it in the theatre, it might work better, and skew dark enough to fit some of the horror submission calls without going darker than I want for this particular piece.

I have to percolate on that a bit.

A friend sent me a list of markets, and, researching through those, that might be the way to go, so that it’s still within my vision, but still suited to one of these paying markets.

There’s no deadline on this, so I can let it simmer for a bit.

Did a little bit of work on Gambit Colony. If I get pulled down into that rabbit hole again, it will throw too much other work off track, but, as is typical, when I’m under stress, that’s the piece that soothes me best to work on. I’m writing a section set in Venice right now, which makes me happy.

Started work on a short piece that’s been rolling around my brain for a bit, inspired by a submission call. Not sure where it’s going yet. I want it to be short, no more than 1500 words, but it’s hitting the right 1500 words that’s the trick. 1000 words would be even better. The deadline’s not for a couple of months, so we’ll see.

I put together chicken and vegetables in the crockpot. I’d forgotten to start it right after breakfast; it was late morning before I remembered, but that’s what the “high” cooking speed is for, right?

I planted the cherry tomatoes and the mini cucumbers directly into their final pots. No need to transplant. I’m going to have to get more potting soil, because I still have hollyhocks, four o’clocks, nasturtiums, tansy, sweet peas, and mallow to plant. And the night-blooming jasmine coming in at the end of the month or early April, which will need repotting. I also planted more cat grass, since Charlotte and Willa only have a few stalks left. I put them in a different pot; I will alternate between the two pots, but I need to order more seeds for that. I’ll order the bigger batch this time.

There’s a new combination of plant center/art gallery opening up next month on Main Street, in walking distance. I am very excited.

The afternoon and evening were spent reading contest entries, with Norah Jones on the CD player. Finished the bottle of birthday prosecco, too, that I opened on Friday.

Charlotte started poking at me around 5, but Tessa was quiet until 6. Because it’s darker now in the morning, she’s staying quiet. Although that doesn’t explain why, so often, she woke me at 4 over the winter, because it was darned dark then.

Good yoga session. I’ve been hit and miss on the morning yoga the past few weeks, and need to get back into that routine. I feel better when I stick to it.

The side table to the left of my desk, in front of the large windows, has always been one of Charlotte’s favorite’s hangouts, but Tessa has discovered it. She can see more birds from it, and she is very excited.

I sent out some LOIs; got back some auto-responses for tests, which meant I shrugged off those companies and put them on The List. If they’re not going to read my cover letter, where I clearly state I don’t do unpaid labor as part of an interview or pre-interview process, and that I have a specific contract for it, then it’s not a company with whom I want to work.

Did some work on The Big Project, but not enough. I feel I’ve lost the tone of the piece, and I need to get that back.

It was warm enough on the front porch to move out the seedlings, to encourage them.

Took a big load of books back to the library; they only had one for me to pick up. It was bright out, and things are melting. We’re supposed to actually move into warmer weather this week, in the 50’s and 60’s, which would be nice.

Made my favorite comfort Chinese peanut butter noodles for lunch. I’m so grateful not to have nut allergies.

In the afternoon, I did some brainstorming on the Monthology piece, caught up on some emails, did some client work. Stepping back from interacting with someone online, because she continues to make harmful decisions, then whines about them, in spite of having a network of professionals around her giving advice on better decisions. I can’t participate anymore. She’s made her decisions; they are hers to make; I’m not spending time putting together ideas and resources that she won’t bother to use, but will whine about being exploited, because she went against advice and made those choices. It’s a never-ending circle of frustration, and I don’t need to participate. I no longer respect her, and I’m beginning to actively dislike her, which is not a relationship worth maintaining. “Oh, she’s young” is not an excuse, because one of my editors is several years younger than this individual, but several decades smarter.

 I re-subscribed to THE NEW YORKER, which I’ve missed since my subscription lapsed last July. They offered me a great rate, so I was delighted to accept it. Which means I need to get some more magazine holders.

Turned around a script coverage. I should have started the spring cleaning, but I did not. I’d hoped to put in about two or three hours each weekday, and then three or four on the weekends, but I don’t know how that will shake out. The Chewy food order arrived early, and the cats were happy to play in the box. A pair of Nine West flats I’d bought on sale also arrived, earlier than expected. They look much better in person than they did in the picture, thank goodness, and fit. I still need a good pair of cross trainers in which to run errands on foot, and walk in the various parks, but the flats will be good for going to museums, networking events, etc.

Read contest entries in the evening. It will take me several hours today to enter the scores.

Tessa woke me at 4:30 this morning. I moved to the couch, dreamed about some sort of undercover operation where I had to be a flower arranger (if you know how bad I am at that, you’ll see why there’s no way I could pull it off). I overslept until seven, which put back my day.

I might rearrange my day anyway today, to go off and do some research later this morning. I want to work on The Big Project first. Then, I ‘ll go do my research. I have another script to turn around this afternoon, and more contest entries. And I need to get in touch with the mechanic about the next appointment for the car. I’m dreading that, but it needs to be done.

Almost all the snow has melted, so let’s hope this is it for the winter. Yeah, we’ll move into mud season next, but that’s still better than snow.

Lots to do today, so I better get to it. Have a good one!

Wed. Feb. 2, 2022: Creativity and Imbolc

image courtesy of James DeMers via pixabay.com

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Waxing Moon

Mercury Retrograde

Imbolc

Cloudy and a little warmer

Yesterday, it stayed around 10 degrees, so I put off my library run until today, when it’s supposed to be in the 40s, and the snow becomes slush.

I slogged through a ton of emails. There were too many stupid arguments happening on social media, and I decided not to participate. I even muted a few “conversations” which I rarely do. I’m either all in or all out, once I follow someone. But this “discussion” tagging 30+ people stuff is too much. And it wasn’t a discussion. It was moderately bright people insisting that their way was the only way. Which is not only wrong, but boring.

A call for submissions landed on my desk, and I actually have a story of which I’m fond, that I am trying to place, so I wrote the cover letter and sent it off. I’m trying to get back up to “13 In Play” where there are at least 13 pieces out for submission at any given time. I only have 6 out right now, according to my log, but I’m working up to it.

Another call for submission landed on my desk, for radio plays. I think they want something darker than I usually do. I dusted off a trio of 10-minute scripts I’d written, based on old, scary campfire stories, and wove them together. I’m going to work a little more on transitions this morning, and then send it off.

I also started working on something gothic-noir-paranormal that also might be more in the realm of what they’re looking for. I hope to get that out today, too. I’ll pitch my other radio plays, in case they’re interested in a range; if they like the writing, maybe I can be a regular contributor. The pay is decent.

But that ate most of my day. It was around 3 PM by the time I started working on script coverages, and, with a couple of breaks to deal with dinner and celebrating Chinese New Year, and Knowledge Unicorns, I worked until 10 at night.

Knowledge Unicorns was fun. In addition to their regular homework assignments, we talked about the Republicans banning books (because only stupid people vote for them, so they want to keep people stupid, as one of the kids put it), and Chinese astrology and New Year traditions and foods. It was fun. I’d made vegetable lo Mein for dinner from scratch, using the long noodles for long life.

I started reading Cynthia Kuhn’s THE ART OF DISAPPEARING, but I was too tired to get very far.

Tessa and Charlotte woke me up at 4. I moved to the sofa and dozed off again, with weird dreams. I wonder if the dreams are triggered by the television the downstairs neighbors have on twenty-four hours a day? It’s not on at a high volume, but I’m hyper-sensitive to sound, so I’m aware of it. I can’t hear it at all in my bedroom, but I can feel the hum when I’m in living room, and hear faint rises and falls in cadences.

Tessa and Charlotte were rummaging around this morning, and then Willa came with a soft paw and a serious face communicating, “Will you please get up? I’m Very Hungry.”

I told her since she asked nicely, I would. It was nearly 6:30 by then.

If they wouldn’t wake me at 4, I’d get up around 5 and they’d get their breakfast on time.

But they are cats, and live in the moment of what they want right now.

Back to the page for now, working on the radio plays. I have to do a library run later this morning (the books are piling up there – I’m getting my own hold shelf, like I had on Cape). I have to mail a few things at the post office, such as the fraud complaint against TracFone. I might put in the seed order at Kitchen Garden Seeds for the rest of the ones I want to order.

This afternoon, I have to enter scores on the contest entries I’ve read lately, work on the book for review, and read two scripts.

I’ll do my Imbolc ceremonial planting later today, and then do the ritual tonight. Bridget, the goddess closely associated with Imbolc, encourages creativity, so I’m going to ride that energy as much as possible.

The groundhog in PA says six more weeks of winter; the groundhog on Staten Island disagrees. Yesterday, I came across a story of the Cailleach winter goddess; if it’s sunny and bright, she is out gathering wood and there will be six more weeks of winter; if it’s cloudy or bad weather, she sleeps in, but then she runs out of wood and spring comes early. It’s cloudy here, and looks like it will rain any minute, so let’s hope we have an early spring.

I’m so happy the chiming clock has started up again. It’s much quieter than it was last summer, but I love the tone, and it’s comforting to have it with me throughout the day.

Peace, friends.

Published in: on February 2, 2022 at 9:14 am  Comments Off on Wed. Feb. 2, 2022: Creativity and Imbolc  
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Thurs. Jan. 27, 2022: Mail, Stories, Storm Prep

image courtesy of Ekaterina Belinskaya via pexels.com

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Waning Moon

Venus & Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Post over on Gratitude and Growth about the incoming storm and turn of the season.

One of the things I have not yet discussed on the blog is Thich Nhat Hanh’s death last weekend, which saddened me deeply. I never had the chance to study with him directly, but I do read his work, and it is regularly discussed in meditation groups.

Yesterday was a better day, as far as getting things done. I was up early, got to the desk early. I worked my way through a bunch of emails. I dealt with blog posts. I mulled over the situation with the large client that bothers me. I don’t have any solutions yet, but I’m pondering.

A submission call landed on my desk, for a publication into which I’ve always wanted to break. The theme is right up my alley, and it can be fairly short, so I started a draft. I had to stop and fact check something, and went down a research rabbit hole for about an hour, which kind of threw off my productivity. But I hope to finish the story today or tomorrow, polish it over the weekend, and get it out by Monday.

In the afternoon and evening, I read three scripts, which I will write up today. I also worked on the redesign of the covers for the Topic Workbooks. They’re much simpler and make more sense, I think, while still being eye-catching. I’m trying to decide between completely plain, with color and text, or adding a small image to it. But I want to keep the covers in the same style, so they all tie together.

I’m doing a major overhaul on the Series Bible workbook, which will add in using Scrivener. The original plan was to have that be the first Workbook to relaunch, but until I get comfortable with Scrivener, I don’t see how it can be. THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS will probably be first.

I got a delightful card in the mail painted by Helen Whistberry. It’s a beautiful teapot. I’m going to frame it and hang it in the sewing room.

I finally got an appointment to get the car diagnosed for the repair, by a local reputable garage, for Feb. 8.

I made chicken pot pie with leftover chicken in my new Pyrex pie plate, and it made me happy (in addition to being delicious).

We’re about to get into another Supreme Court Justice fight. The Dems better not let the Repubs walk all over them yet again. I’m sick of excuses. They have the WH, House, and Senate. GET. IT. DONE.  The Republicans do whatever they want no matter how many votes they have or lack. So the Dems need to step it up.

The problem isn’t that the Dems are “too progressive” as the media misleading frames it. The problem is that the Dems aren’t progressive enough and don’t stand strong. They cave and cave and cave and keep moving to the right.

I don’t want bipartisanship. I want progress.

There is nothing the Republican party can or will offer me that makes my life better.

Charlotte woke me up at 3:30, and Tessa joined the chorus by 4. I moved to the couch and dozed off again, and didn’t wake up until after 7:30. They were grumpy that their breakfast was late. Well, then they shouldn’t wake me up in the middle of the night. Yesterday afternoon, Charlotte got upset that Willa sat on Charlotte’s pink blankie. They fussed at each other, and Willa ran away (no bloodshed). Charlotte, victorious, sat on her blanket for a bit, until she got bored. Then she tried to intimidate Tessa off the couch, but Tessa wasn’t having it. So Charlotte retired to the kitty condo like the trope of a Southern belle having the vapors. It was pretty funny.

Headed to the library. Eight books waiting (won’t that be fun to carry over the ice mounds?) and I want to get them back before the storm. I have a few cards to write and mail, so I’ll either drop them in the box at the post office on my way to the library, or in the mailbox down the street. Yes, we actually still have a blue mailbox just over a block away, and things put into the box arrive at their destinations in a timely fashion. Most of the mailboxes on Cape, at least in my area, were removed years ago. But the postman was nice enough to take the mail when he dropped mail off (If one couldn’t get to the post office), so it worked out. And the post office was close to the house, so I could walk if I had to (although I usually drove). But I like having a reliable mailbox close by. I also like walking to the post office here and catching up on everything that’s going on. It’s the major source of information in this area.

Have a good one!

Tues. Jan. 25, 2022: Woolf & Burns

image courtesy of blende12 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2022

Waning Moon

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Snowy and cold

Virginia Woolf’s Birthday

Burns Night

Weekend was kind of all over the place. Friday, I concentrated on finishing up script coverages and reading the last three scripts in my queue for the week, which I wrote up on Saturday morning. By noon Friday, my brain was ready for the weekend, but that just wasn’t my reality this week.

On a more positive, creative side, I made notes for another short story, and characters are approaching, telling me how they fit into a phrase that I realized is a great title. WHEN I’ll get to write all of this, I don’t know, but I like that it’s percolating.

Worked steadily with the Mystic Mondays tarot all weekend, and love it more and more.

Received my next book for review. A call for submission for a reading series landed on my desk on Friday afternoon, with the deadline that day. Fortunately, I had a play ready that fit the guidelines, and sent it off. Either they’ll want it, or it doesn’t fit what they’re looking for. But neither of us will ever know if I don’t send it out.

Got a confirmation that my monster pick for the new shared world anthology went through, so I’m excited to find out the next steps.

Stayed up way too late on Friday, which made the cats happy, but I was a little tired on Saturday. However, I finished writing up script coverages.

I also went to run errands. The sidewalks are ice walks. There was no way I could walk to get groceries, using the rolly cart. Instead, I mailed bills at the post office, switched out some library books, got my mother’s prescription and refill card for her cell phone, and picked up wine. I ordered pizza from Ramunto’s for late lunch. It’s very different than the other pizzeria, and each is quite wonderful in its own way. I also managed to negotiate with the grocery store to deliver a few things I needed to get in before the next storm, although it was far more expensive than if I’d been able to hump the groceries over the ice. However, I’d rather pay a few extra bucks and not break any bones.

The Tamed Wild box arrived on Saturday, filled with delights, including a High Priestess tarot card necklace.

Tessa and Charlotte shared the sofa in the afternoon, without any blanket barriers between them, and without fussing. Progress.

Of course it meant that I had to curl up elsewhere to do my reading.

Sunday, the cats woke me up early. I did some tidying up and vacuuming, basic housework. The grocery delivery arrived a little before 11, so I could get the roast chicken into the oven on time. I made lemon mousse.

I alternated working on contest entries with reading library books, and got quite a bit done on both fronts.

The roast chicken was good, although there won’t be as many leftovers as I’d hoped. But still, enough to do a few things that I want to do. Made stock from the bones, which I will use up this week. Saturday and Sunday, I made vegetable stock. So we are stocked with stock, so to speak.

Monday morning, the cats woke me up too early. Charlotte and Tessa are now getting along well enough to work together in the mornings.

But I polished and sent out a short story for an anthology call (the deadline was the end of this week). It’s way out of my comfort zone and usual genres, but I wanted to give it a shot. So I did. Whatever happens, I learn something new.

I did two big chunks of The Big Project, one that was around 2K and another around 1400 words.

I also sent out a pitch to an anthology to which I was invited; there’s no guarantee I’ll be chosen as one of the authors, but it’s a shared world anthology, and I would absolutely love to participate.

That rather tired me out for the day.

I should have read scripts in the afternoon; instead I worked on contest entries.

The free Covid test 4 pack arrived. For some reason, all three cats went bonkers over it and tried to tear open the boxes. Not the outer box, but the actual test boxes. What is there in the kit that attracts the cats? We had to store them way up high in a cupboard they can’t get to.

I adapted a Moosewood recipe for a fish and vegetable soup, and made it into a stew instead, serving it over rice. It turned out well.

I actually set the alarm this morning, and was up before the cats. Dressed in layers, and humped the laundry down to the laundromat. There was only one other person there, and we kept about 20 feet apart, so fingers crossed. I had everything done and home just before 8 AM, as the snow was starting, and it’s intensified, so I timed it well.

I started outlining a project at the laundromat. I find that I outline when the laundry’s in the washers, and read when it’s drying. I started reading one of John Dunning’s Cliff Janeway rare book mysteries. I read the series several years ago, and I’m re-reading it now. I like it a lot. Books built around books and/or art heists are special favorites of mine. Love them, haven’t been able to write a good one yet.

If it clears up, as it’s supposed to, I’ll go to the library to drop off/pick up books. If it keeps snowing, I’ll just stay home and work.

There’s plenty on my plate today, across several different arenas, so I better get to it!

It’s also both Burns Night and Virginia Woolf’s birthday. I will celebrate both, and the kids tonight have a task of picking a passage from one or the other’s writing and bringing it in to share. That should be fun. I dislike haggis, so I’m making bangers and mash instead.

Have a good one. Let’s hope today is creative, too.

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

collage by Devon Ellington via pixabay and Canva

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Last Day of the Full Moon

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Uranus DIRECT

Sunny and cold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worked my way through some more contest entries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which suits me just fine.

Fri. Jan. 14, 2022: Incoming Storms

image courtesy of SeagullaNady via pixabay.com

Friday, January 14, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus, Venus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

We have two big storms barreling toward us. One will start later today, bringing the temperatures down to -35F by tomorrow. We get walloped again Sunday night into all day on Monday.

Meditation was great yesterday. Then, after breakfast, I layered up, got the rolly cart and some bags, and headed to Big Y. I bought more than I planned (yeah, I’m sure you’re SO surprised). Shelves were empty of big-name brands, and they were out of ground turkey, but local brands and produce were in plentiful supply.

Hauling it back through the snowy, icy streets was not fun, and I was wiped out by the time I got it home and up the stairs and put away. A hot shower partially revived me, as did some time on the acupressure mat. But then, the 66 pounds of cat litter showed up, and I had to unpack the boxes in the bottom foyer and haul them all upstairs.

I’m not in my twenties or thirties anymore, and it’s getting harder.

But, cat food, litter, and treat-wise, we have about 11 weeks’ worth of supplies. Human-food wise, we could make it for about 6 weeks, although running out of milk, oat milk, eggs, and butter. I’m still going to go to the store when I can for perishables, but we are okay.

Today, I restock some liquor.

SCOTUS betrayed us all again by not upholding the national vaccine mandate for big businesses. No surprise there. Sinema proved her loyalty to her handlers rather than her constituents, and voting rights is dead, so it doesn’t matter how hard we organize. Sinema and Manchin need to be destroyed. Completely and utterly destroyed. They were sent in as a Trojan horse, pretending to be Democrats, but working on a GOP agenda, funded by GOP money. While the more openly, obviously crazies are out there pulling focus, they destroy things from the inside.

And therefore must be destroyed. Take them off all committee assignments, no more financing, primary them. GET RID OF THEM. Anyone who hires them? Boycott, picket, destroy the company. They must be completely nullified.

Remove Manchin’s wife from her cushy appointed gig. Charge the daughter with negligent homicide for raising the prices on EpiPens. Stop faffing around and remove these cancers.

WHILE taking down the insurrectionists.

On top of that, the amount of people who should know better tweeting photos about their reckless behavior going to in-person conferences, indoor dining, parties, gatherings, etc., completely disgusts me. I’ve lost respect for a lot of people in the past couple of weeks.

On the positive side, I got a lovely note from someone for whom I’d done a script coverage, on how much it helped focus and polish the script. I’m so glad. This particular writer is extremely talented, and I hope will get representation/optioned quickly. Those stories need to be filmed.

With Mercury retrograde for the next three weeks, virus numbers off the charts, bad weather, and all the rest, I’m thinking about approaching the time a little differently than usual. Not sure how I can pull it off yet, but I’m going to try. I’m worried that if I talk about it too much/too early, I won’t be able to implement it, so my apologies for being vague. I hate it when people are Online Vague. But we’ll see. I’m going to try something for the next few days, a little different, and see if I can keep it going for the length of the retrogrades. Talking about it may interfere with the doing, so I’m going to try the doing, and talk about it after.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are doing well. Some of them will not go back to regular schooling, because they’re learning much more in this environment. A couple of them are now talking about taking what the Brits call a “gap year” between high school and college to travel (should the virus ever settle down enough to allow it), and almost all of them want to do at least one semester abroad (something I deeply regret not doing).

I would like to start learning Italian, because I want to travel to Italy next year or so (provided it’s safe so to do), and because, in my research, I’d like to be able to read some of the material in its original language, not in translation. I’ve looked into courses, but, honestly, I don’t have the intellectual or emotional energy to commit and really learn right now. I’m hoping by midyear, I’ll be in a better position to start.

Read two scripts last night, which I will write up today. I’d like to get one more coverage in before the pay period ends tomorrow, but there hasn’t been anything worth grabbing (on a pay scale). Have to write up the book reviews, and enter the scores on the contest entries I read.

But first, time to finish/polish the short story. That is my absolute priority.

Over the weekend, I have unpacking/rearranging to do, I want to work on the Big Project and on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and also rest. My soul is tired, and I need to rest.

With storms raging outside, let’s hope the power stays on so I can do just that.

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

Thurs. Jan. 13, 2022: Hoping for Quiet

image courtesy of Myriams-Fotos via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow, and I just don’t have the surge capacity to deal with it.

Post over on Gratitude and Growth about the weather.

Most of the morning was spent on writing the first draft of a short story. Got 2/3 of it done, just over 1700 words, and my brain just stopped. I know what comes next, but couldn’t pull it together to write it. And, I know the ending for which I’m aiming. I’d hoped it would only be 1500 words, but 2.5K is the sweet spot now, with 3K being the max.

Bundled up in so many layers until I could barely walk. Got the garbage out (so much easier to take it across the street to the dumpster than having to drive it to the dump). Once I unloaded garbage, came back, put on the backpack full of library books and the tote bag full of more library books and stomped to the library.

Church Street was hit and miss, as far as clean sidewalks, and I had to be careful. Dropped off the finished books, picked up the ones that have come in, stomped back. I wasn’t that cold, because of all the layers, although the tip of my nose got red and I looked like Rudolph’s understudy by the time I got back.

Made my favorite noodles with Asian peanut sauce for lunch – comfort food.

Could not get it together to write more in the afternoon.

But I finished writing up a coverage, and read another script I will write up today. I have two scripts to read/write up, and two book reviews to write. I started reading another contest entry, too.

Part of the Target order arrived. I am in love with my Pyrex pie plate. There will be pot pies and sweet pies galore with that! And things like garbage bags, shampoo, and an ice tray (although it’s a weird, squishy ice tray). Once the cat litter arrives (today or tomorrow), we will be stocked up until early March for cat and cleaning stuff. Food-wise, we could make it 4-6 weeks if supply chains totally break down, although we’d run out of eggs. I have dry milk and evaporated milk if needed, and plenty of other goods stocked in.

I’m still going to attempt a grocery run (on foot) today, to get in the perishables. Then I’ll decontaminate and start my workday. I’m not washing groceries again, but I’m decontaminating myself whenever I have to go out and interact.

The stocking up has as much to do with weather as the virus. Another storm is coming in tomorrow, and predictions are that it will go down to -31F with wind chill over the weekend. Yet another storm comes through on Monday.

So I won’t be going anywhere for awhile.

But I still have to find a place to get the car fixed.

I decided not to go to the college library this week. Maybe next week, if the virus  numbers go down and there aren’t too many people around. With the public library, I just go in to drop off/pick up; I’m not back to browsing yet. With the college library, I have to dig through the shelves, looking for what I want, and I just don’t feel comfortable being indoors with strangers, even if we’re masked and vaccinated. Nothing I need from that library is on a tight timeline, so I’m okay to wait.

I have meditation this morning, and then I’ll make a run (a waddle, in all my layers) to Big Y with my rolly cart to see how much on my list I can find. Then it’s finishing the short story (it needs to be edited and sent out tomorrow, which is a tighter turnaround than I like, but that’s when I found out about the submission deadline), writing up a script coverage and two reviews, reading two more scripts. I doubt I’ll get to work on The Big Project today, but I’m hoping to get back to it tomorrow and over the weekend, and do some work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY this weekend, too.

Tessa let me sleep until nearly 6. Actually, again, it was Charlotte who woke me, and when Tessa heard us, she chimed in.

Hopefully, the power will stay on.

It’s relatively quiet anyway around here; I’m hoping for a quiet weekend, even with storms happening outside.

Wed. Jan. 12, 2022: Writing In My Head

image courtesy of Chriszwettler via pixabay.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Yesterday was another day that was kind of all over the place. But I got some good stuff done.

Plowed through a bunch of emails, got out an LOI. There were some interesting submission calls in my inbox. One, I really wanted to do, but I don’t have anything suitable. It’s for a one-act play, 30-40 minutes, 4 characters. All my plays of the correct length have more characters; the ones with four or fewer are too short. I started to adapt a short story into a stage play, but that’s going to be too short, too. I don’t have time to write a new play from scratch, and have it in anywhere near decent shape by deadline.

There’s another call for a short story that got my wheels turning. It only needs to be about 1500 words, so if I can actually sit down and do a rough draft today, and it’s strong enough, I could revise it and have it in by deadline. I started writing it in my head. If it goes on the page as well as it’s unfolding in my brain, I’ve got a shot.

We’ll see.

Wrote a little bit on The Big Project. Not as much as I wanted to, but it was a comic scene that had to be properly structured. The joke lands, so I think it will be okay.

Worked on script coverage and on contest entries.

Charlotte sat down on my keyboard, causing all kinds of chaos, but now the “Editor” function is back in Word. Go figure.

Thank goodness there are plenty of leftovers.

Put in the Chewy order for cat litter. Packed away the boxes of holiday decorations. One box was dripping. I opened it—it contained large, outdoor balls I hadn’t used this year. They were full of water. A small hole in the top, where the hanging loop was put in, meant that, being outside, they could accumulate water inside.

I drained them and have left them on the counter to thoroughly dry. Don’t want them getting moldy inside.

That was weird. Just weird.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. Because everyone’s still remote, the kids don’t have to spend most of their day worrying about active shooters and whether the person next to them will expose them to a deadly virus, they can actually learn. Let’s face it, none of this insistence about forcing in-person learning is actually for the well-being of the kids. It’s all about making sure their parents go back out to Die for Their Employers. It’s disgusting.

I woke up on my own around 5:30 this morning, no feline choir. I’m writing this morning. Then, late morning, I will bundle up, load up as many library books as I can carry, and do a drop off/pick up.

Script coverage, book reviews, and contest entries this afternoon.

Onward.

Thurs. Oct. 21, 2021: Meandering

image courtesy of pexels.com

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Last Day of Full Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy/sunny and warm

There’s a post about the garden and the seasonal changes over on Gratitude and Growth. Since my definition of “garden” has had to change since I moved from a third of an acre to a porch and balcony, it focuses on the surrounding area as I learn It, as much as my actual plants.

Yesterday was rather a lost day, in some respects. I did a good bit, but not on the deadlined work, which means I have to make up for it today. I will have fallen short of my week’s goal, financially, but my brain needs to break.

I didn’t get a chance to type up the notes for CAST IRON MURDER (the ones I’d written in the laundromat). I doubt I will have the chance so to do today, but maybe tomorrow or Saturday, depending on how I fare with the script coverage in the next couple of days.

I did the soul journey exercises in the morning, then headed off to the public library to pick up the books that had come in. It was a lovely day, and there wasn’t too large a stack, so I walked there and back, enjoying the day and the architecture. Had a conversation with someone who lives in one of the houses I like. People here are open to conversation, which is nice. As the ultimate introvert, if I can have all kinds of conversations with random people in passing, it says something about the overall friendliness of the area.

One of the books that came in was the biography of Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee. I own a copy of it, but it’s in storage, and I wanted to fact check something from a conversation I’d had with a Twitter pal a few days back. But I got immersed in re-reading it, so I guess it will take a few days to find the information!

It also makes me want to re-read some of the stories Wharton and Henry James wrote, that mirror each other’s themes.

Wharton and James might turn out to be my Winter Authors. Meaning I’d re-read all their work in order. Of course I own most of it, but, you guessed it, it’s down in storage. So I’ll have to get from the library what I don’t have with me. Fortunately, the college library across the street has a massive literature section. Although I still haven’t figured out how it’s organized.

I’m also reading a mystery by Elizabeth Flynn called GAME, SET, AND MURDER, set at Wimbledon, which I really enjoy. I want to read more of her books.

My friend Arlene Kay just signed a contract with Level Best Books for a new series. I’m so excited for her, and I can’t wait to read it.

I was in the beginning of Remote Chat, which was fun, then switched over to the live soul journey session.

Today’s work was Shadow Work, with which I’m familiar, and more comfortable than a lot of people. I like using the shadow side as a catalyst, rather than an obstacle or an excuse. What was interesting in this work was it was about the shadow aspects of the moon sign, which was new to me. It was very interesting, and I had a few moments of “yup, I do this, and here’s how I can break this pattern or use it in a more positive way.” So that was useful. (I have a Taurus moon sign, although my sun sign is Pisces).

The discussion of the shadow side of Capricorn moon hit home, too. I do some of that (and it’s definitely a detriment). So now I need to dig up my birth chart (which I know I have around here. . .somewhere) and see where Capricorn sits. So that I can turn that obstacle into a positive catalyst, too. Because the beauty of astrology is that it’s a puzzle, and the bits fit together. Understanding the influences helps understands why one reacts to something in a specific way. If it’s a way that causes harm, or creates a negative pattern, one now has the information to make necessary changes and not stay stuck. It’s all information, but if it’s not used for active choices, then it’s meaningless and yes, just more noise.

As long as I ignore the yammering of the energy vampires, I can get something out of the class.

With a view toward how I want to set up my future, I feel as though I’ve lived the noisy part of my life, and now want to live much more quietly. I still want to travel. Once it’s safe. I still have to keep somewhat publicly connected, in order to market/sell books. But I don’t want to get caught up in the cycle of forced extroversion that I was in for the past decade. And I had my years living in NYC, where I was out and about all the time. I don’t feel like I missed anything. I can be quiet now. Time for others to take up the fights.

That doesn’t mean I’ll let injustice, et al, go when I witness or experience it. I’ll still call an asshole an asshole when it’s warranted. But I can do the work differently.

Roasted a chicken for dinner, with sweet potatoes and spinach. Wrapped up the bones and stuck them in the fridge, so I’ll make stock today. I also have to make ratatouille, because I bought the vegetables the other day, and I don’t want them to go bad.

Got a script coverage done, and a good start on a second one, which has to go out today. I have four scripts to read today, two of which coverages I’d like to get out, although I’ll probably only get out one.

If the weather is as nice as predicted today, I hope to get up to the lake for an hour or so, in the afternoon.

Class yesterday gave me additional ideas for a piece on which I’d taken a few notes a few weeks back, and then put aside, because I wasn’t sure where it was going. I also have a short story, a ghost story, clunking around in my head, inspired by one of the few annoying college students in the neighborhood.

Meditation this morning, then the homework for class, then back to work on the script coverages until the live session. More books came in to the public library for me, but I’ll probably wait and get them tomorrow.

Have a good one.

Published in: on October 21, 2021 at 6:56 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Oct. 21, 2021: Meandering  
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Tues. Sept. 28, 2021: Goldenrod Season (Achoo)!

image courtesy of MrGajowy3 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Waning Moon

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

Cloudy and cool

Yup, Mercury went retrograde yesterday, and will go direct on October 18. So buckle up, buttercups, we have seven retrogrades until October 6, when the planets start turning direct again, and we get some relief.

Yesterday’s post on the GDR site is about how I’m trying to form a better perspective on things.

The weekend was pretty good. I had to finish one last script coverage early Saturday morning. Once that was done, I attempted to put together the shelving unit. But that was defective, too. So I returned those units. Only got a partial refund, because they’d given me a gift card as part of the last purchase. I offered to return the gift card, but that was “too hard.” So, in other words, I paid for the gift card. To a store in which I don’t shop often.

Headed to a thrift store nearby, just in case, to see if they had shelving. They didn’t, but they did have a train case. In blue. It’s a Featherlite, sold by Sears back in the day. I have wanted one of these for decades. It was only $7. Because they were having a sale on certain items, it was only a little under $4.

The same style of case sells for $58 on eBay.

It’s a lovely condition. I was so happy, and it more than made up for the shelving issues.

I went through some of the art books from the college library. There was more good Canaletto information; I may be done with the play about his sisters, but I’m interested in writing something about his family and the Bibiena family and their stage designs.

I paged through a volume of AMERICANS IN FLORENCE, about the ex-pat artists community in Florence around the time of the Impressionists. That got me going on a few different ideas: the Fabbri family interests me, and I might pitch a play about Ernestine and Cora to 365 Women at some point. I was also interested in William Morris Hunt, and the female students he took on, called “Huntites.” That gave me an idea for a steampunk piece, and I spent some time writing a few pages of notes.

While I was doing that, an idea that’s been niggling at me for quite a few years decided it was time to spew forth enough information for a few pages of notes on that, too. It takes place starting after WWII, and running as long as it wants to run, about a couple who marries right after the war, the husband remaining in the military, and how they have to navigate their relationship through the huge changes that came after the war. Originally, I was going to have the wife be a quiet, smart, dedicated homebody, making her home a work of art wherever they live. I’m keep those aspects, but adding in that she was a ferry girl during the war, flying planes within the US. And that she misses flying.

A chance sentence in a book inspired an idea for a short story set in the afterlife. Made a few notes on that, too.

It feels good to be creative again. It’s nice that the Idea Fountain is turned back on again.

I needed to relax, so in the afternoon, I started reading CASE HISTORIES by Kate Atkinson, which was recommended to me. It’s a very different type of mystery, stylistically, and I enjoyed it, because it was so different.

Puttered around and managed to put away some more Winter Holiday decorations. I need the shelves in place before I can really rearrange things. But I also have to take my time and find the right shelves. Or, possibly, build them, if I can get the lumber at a reasonable price.

I’m getting a little tired of the cats getting me up at 4. 5 is fine, I like starting my day at 5, but 4 is just too damn early.

But I was up way too damn early on Sunday. I got in an excellent first writing session the novel. Saturday’s was okay, steady progress, but Sunday’s was actually good.

Cooked a salmon Eggs Benedict for breakfast.

I opened the train case to give it a good clean, inside and out. To my surprise, I discovered three decks of cards and a hunk of modelling clay inside it. All of which had price tags on it. I wondered if someone had put everything together and meant to come back for it. But wouldn’t they have left the case behind the cashier’s desk?

I went through the decks of cards. One deck has all but one card; but there are several cards that have been marked, so that deck was used, somewhere, to cheat. The other two decks were intact.

The modelling clay was something I had planned on buying over the next few weeks, so it made sense.

I contacted the store, when it opened, to tell them what I found and offer to pay, but they said it was their mistake for not checking when I paid, and I shouldn’t worry about it. Which was kind of them.

I gave the case a good cleaning, and am using it to store the extra Ipsy bags I’ve accumulated. When I travel, you can be darned sure I will use it; and I’m sure it will turn up in some of my writing.

I decided to pack away the summer dresses and shirts from my closet, so that I had some room for fall/winter stuff. I ended up unpacking six boxes still in my room. I found a bunch of stuff, including winter shoes and boots.

In other words, I don’t need to shop for clothes this autumn. Which is a good thing, considering how many carloads of stuff I donated before the move. I have plenty of pieces I like, that look good on me, in which I feel comfortable.

I rearranged some stuff in my room, too. I’m keeping some of my summer shoes in the moving boxes, until I can either bring up the shoe rack, or find a pretty bin for them. I still have two boxes of stuff to unpack, and then the bedroom is basically unpacked. I still have to figure out how to fit two more large suitcases in the room. They were in the closet in the sewing room, but I removed them so I could put in the decorations, and now I need to figure out where to stash them.

I’m adding one Samhain decoration to the porch/living room windows every day this week; then, on Friday, October 1, I’ll do the big decoration for the season.

I’ve been having a terrible time getting my tablet to charge. It’s my preferred way to read the scripts for coverage, because it’s easy to enlarge the font; with the amount of reading I’m doing at the moment, my eyes get tired. But the tablet wasn’t charging beyond 53%, even when I had it plugged in all day.

Just for the heck of it, I plugged it into my phone charger, and it charged. We’ll see how long that lasts, but every day helps. Never buy a Linsey tablet; it’s crap.

Yesterday, I was up again, way too early. I couldn’t get as much done as I wanted on the novel, because I have to do some research that will directly affect the structure and information in the scene. Can’t use placeholders.

The coffeemaker had a hissy fit. Every Mercury Retrograde, there’s an issue with the coffeemaker. Maybe I’ll stick to the French press during the retrograde.

I had to go to the college library across the street to drop off books. I looked for information on William Morris Hunt, but didn’t see anything. I did get a book of some of Bernard Berenson’s diaries, which should be interesting. My allergies were acting up, so I didn’t stay to search the academic network library catalogues.

I went to the public library to drop off/pick up a book. The book came highly recommended, but it’s in present tense, so it goes back unread. I loathe present tense in novels, and will only force myself to read it if I’m being paid so to do.

Contacted Berkshire Health Systems to see if I could take my mom up the street for her Pfizer booster. The woman I spoke to was very nice; they were having their meeting that day to figure out how to manage the boosters along with the regular vaccinations. She asked me to call back by the end of the week. I thanked her and said I would; she was surprised that I didn’t argue. Why argue? They’re doing the best they can.

By this time, my allergies were out of control. I’m not usually a mucus machine, but this was bad. For a few minutes, I wondered if I had a cold, or, heaven forbid, the plague (COVID). But I could smell and taste, and, if anything, my appetite had increased, so I figured I was okay.

I took some Benadryl (that I bought in Europe, not any of the milquetoast US stuff). It started drying me up. I wrote up the two script coverages due, and went back to reading the book for review before the Benadryl knocked me out. I took a nap for about an hour and a half, then staggered into the kitchen to reheat some pasta. I felt dopey from the nap, but definitely better.

The Tamed Wild box arrived, and it’s lovely. It also has a booklet of herbs used in medicine, which is good, since all my herbals are still packed in storage.

Read two scripts after dinner, then went to bed early. Slept through the night, although Tessa woke me at 4 again. Fed them all, tried to go back to bed, but they weren’t having it, so I took the featherbed and moved to the couch, and everybody settled down.

By breakfast, Tessa and Charlotte were both on the couch, buffered by the featherbed, in temporary peaceful co-existence.

We’ve started closing the door to the porch, so it doesn’t get so cold at night. Pretty soon, we’ll have to put on the heat.

Decent morning’s writing session on the novel. I realized I hadn’t done the research I needed to do for the next scene, but the conversation took an unexpected turn, so I bought myself some time (even if I cut that conversation in a future draft).

Lots to do today, especially since I’m behind on emails, and on the short articles. The allergies are starting to act up again; let’s hope it’s not as bad as yesterday. Benadryl knocks me out, and I can’t afford to lose a few workday hours again.

I had planned to do laundry this morning, but didn’t feel up to going to the laundromat, so that’s been pushed off until tomorrow. I’m hoping to play a little with ideas on the short story, too.

Have a good one!

Thurs. Sept. 9, 2021: The Joys of Local Authors

image courtesy of Yerson Retamal via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Waxing Moon

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

Cloudy, rainy, humid

I have a new post up over on Gratitude and Growth about differences in air and earth between the Berkshires and the Cape.

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post that the Knowledge Unicorns are back up and running. Since none of us believe any in-person learning in this country is safe at this point, and all the kids are being taught at home (be it online learning through their school or home schooling), the homework group is back. Most of the kids stayed in touch with each other over our summer break. Two of the families went camping together, and strengthened those bonds. So that is all good. Some of the kids are sad; friends of theirs have died, thanks to the anti-vaxxers. All of the kids are angry, and rightly so, that the systems and people who are supposed to have their best interests at heart are willing to let them die by trying to force them into in-person learning when it’s not safe.

Tuesday’s session was mostly about dealing with all these realities and emotions. Today, we will actually start on their homework.

Yesterday, I was up at 4:30 (so that I had time for yoga), and we were out of the house by 6 AM to do a storage run down to the Cape. In spite of the traffic, we arrived a little before 10 AM, and, even with switching stuff out of the units, unpacking and repacking the car, we were back on the road by 10:14 and home by 2 PM. It was a good day to drive, in spite of the traffic.

Unloaded the car, got everything upstairs, and got us late lunch/early dinner from Burger King, which I knew I would regret, but it was good while I ate it.

We got the new checks from the bank – hand-delivered, no less. So now, I can go about what I need to do to get the old account at the other bank closed. The checks written have to clear, and a refund has to show up. Then, I can go over to Williamstown and shut down the account. The bills I’m paying today will start coming out of the new account. All of this was way more chaotic than it needed to be.

I started the next book assigned for review, and, so far, I’m enjoying it thoroughly.

We were back in time for me to attend the virtual Straw Dogs Writers Guild Annual Author Showcase. They are based in Pioneer Valley, and it was in partnership with Forbes Library in Northampton. So probably too far to get regularly involved, once it’s safe so do to in person. But I was curious to hear local authors read, and there were a dozen authors scheduled, a mix of poets and prose writers and memoirists.

They were wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed each reading. These writers are professional, recognize that this is valuable work, and take the craft as seriously as the art. They don’t shy away from the political implications and responsibilities of their work, either (unlike the right-wing panderers who claim they “don’t do politics” which, in itself, is political by supporting the inequity of the status quo). One author read from one of her older books, a scene depicting an illegal abortion in the days before Roe. She, too, is old enough to remember it, and we are frustrated that here we are again.

Craft matters to all of them. They take time and pride in the craft of their work, along with theme and art and entertainment. They understand that excellent work combines all of these.

I now have a dozen new-to-me authors, whose books I will get out of the library and/or purchase (as much as my budget will allow). I’m very excited to delve more deeply into their work, and I will attend more online events in which any of them are involved.

I’m so glad I attended.

Charlotte and Willa were impossible. Charlotte is always difficult during Zoom, because she wants everyone to tell her she’s pretty. Willa was fascinated every time a poet read. She loved the rhythm of it. So I guess I’ll be reading poetry to the cats!

I didn’t want to read any scripts after the event was over, because I was so filled with beautiful writing that I wanted to bask in it, rather than put myself into the “critical” headspace in which I need to be for the coverage reading.

Read passages in the published journal I’m reading, where the actor worked with someone I knew quite well. It was nice to read affectionate anecdotes about someone I know and worked with!

Got an idea for a difficult short story about a woman who makes a choice out of exhaustion and despair that turns out to be a relief, even though she is supposed to feel guilty about it. No, not abortion, something else.  It needs development and I’m playing with it. It’s one of those that will probably need a dozen or so rewrites to hit exactly what I want with it, and I have to write at least one draft before I can even start making it work. I’m hoping it will be between 3-5K. The premise is enough for a novel, but I really want to telescope the emotion and time frame into that of a short story.

The cats were impossible this morning, and would not let me sleep past 5. Nor would they let me go back to bed after I fed them.

Fortunately, writing in the morning works for me. I got some decent work done on the novel.

Online meditation group was good this morning. There was discussion on ways to break out of the self-criticism cycle, which is something I need to do, since that severely worsened during the entire moving thing.

I have a lot of work to do today, but I’m not planning on going anywhere, so I can focus on the work, and on doing some more unpacking. I put some of the stuff we brought back yesterday away (most of the carload consisted of holiday decorations). But there’s more to figure out where to put, which means more rearranging. Not that I’ve finished unpacking everything else, either.

Back to the page, and to the library and local bookstores, to find the work by these writers.

Have a good one, friends.

Published in: on September 9, 2021 at 8:47 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Sept. 9, 2021: The Joys of Local Authors  
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Tues. July 20, 2021: Enjoying the Differences

image courtesy of kareni via pisabay.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Chiron Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

I’m starting to wonder if I will ever stop feeling like crap. I’m still achy and fatigued all the time.

It was a good, fairly restful weekend. I got my script coverage done by late Friday afternoon, and didn’t have to worry about it all weekend.

There was a good bit of rain, but I managed to get some errands done Saturday morning, in between storms. I met the husky puppy two doors down, and a lovely, sleek black cat in the parking lot where the car now lives when not in use (who had a lot to tell me). People are better about masking and social distancing here than they were on Cape. No surprise that COVID cases are on the uptake with a cluster around Provincetown, etc.

Read a lot this weekend, including re-reading some Terry Pratchett, and reading a book by a popular author using a trope of which I’m sick. I’m sick of the trope of leaving the city to go back to the hometown and reconnecting with one’s first love. Yes, it’s fantasy. It can also be toxic. It also shows a lack of growth from teen years.

Was assigned another book to review, which I will start this morning, while I’m at the laundromat.

Got some unpacking done (not enough, but rooms are slowly taking shape). Put up a pretty lace curtain at the front door, instead of the broken blinds. Put up most of the wind chimes. Have a nice little reading corner set up in my office.

I hate being separated from so many of my books and dishes. It’s painful. Also, because I have bookcases of varying shapes, heights, and sizes, I can’t store my books by subject, but I have to put them where they fit. At least for the moment.

Trying to find a good routine, one that also works for the cats, because they love their routines.

Sunday night, I was approached by the Cape Cod Writers Center. One of their instructors for their online conference dropped out due to a family emergency, so I was asked to take over the class. I’m happy to do so. It’s on Character, and I have some ideas that hopefully will help the participants. I’m trying to keep it along the lines of the original class blurb, and what they signed up for, although I’ll probably push them a little harder. And they will have handouts, because I am the Queen of Handouts.

I got to work on Monday, playing with ideas for the class. I did a short piece for the Llewellyn Almanac, got some script coverage done. Started rereading Gail Godwin’s QUEEN OF THE UNDERWORLD. There was a point where I loved her writing, until she got so obsessed with religion, and I want to see how I still feel about it, years later. I read two volumes of her journal, which were interesting to a point, but she’s so obsessed with boys (not men, boys) and always puts them ahead of her writing, which gets tedious. I see a glimmer of that in the beginning of this book, the protagonist doing so, and I hope that’s not the case.

I submitted a short story to a call, and several calls for plays landed in my inbox – I might even have relevant plays to submit. I will get to that today and tomorrow. I want to get back to have 13 in Play all the time – always have at least 13 pieces out there, earning their way in the world.

I got through a few hundred emails. Still catching up from the move.

Slowly, slowly easing back into creative life. I want to meet the other artists around here – I have a feeling MassMOCA will be my go-to for that, at least initially. At the same time, with virus numbers going up, I’m not comfortable being around strangers indoors, even though I’m vaccinated, and continue to mask. Most of the writers’ events are still virtual. WordXWord has an event at The Mount, outdoors, the next few nights, but I don’t’ know if I feel up to going. I go to the grocery store, the liquor store, the library (always masked), and that’s about it. I might go to some outdoor events, if the weather ever improves. We’re close to the college, and they require all students, teachers, staff, and vendors to be fully vaccinated, so that makes the neighborhood safer for all of us.

Yesterday afternoon, I could hear a composer, in one of the houses in the neighborhood, working on the latest piece. It was wonderful to hear that creation going on, as I was doing my own work. Creativity fuels creativity.

More writing, script coverage, LOIs today on the agenda. More work on the class, so I can start putting together the PowerPoint for it. More unpacking. Reading. After I get back from the laundromat, I might try to find the Big Y grocery store (supposedly less than a mile away). If the weather is decent, maybe tomorrow, we’ll jaunt over to Williamstown and Bennington. If the weather holds this afternoon, maybe we can go to Windsor Lake, which is supposedly a 3-minute drive.

The cats are getting used to the space and having fun running up and down. It’s a long, narrow space, front to back. Tessa loves running up and down the stairs to the front door, fast as can be, while the other two watch. Charlotte and Tessa still fuss at each other, mostly late at night, but not as badly as before. Hopefully, they are adjusting.

They all love to watch the birds. We have lots of trees around here, sturdy trees, and people aren’t constantly trying to cut them down. We also have two bird houses and a nest up in the rafters of our back balcony. The cats are fascinated. No matter which window they sit in, throughout the house, or the kitchen overlooking the back balcony, or the front porch, overlooking the street, there are birds to watch.

We used to have lots of birds around the house on Cape, until all the neighbors destroyed habitat. I’m sure the owner’s going to cut a bunch of trees down, now that we’re gone.

No longer my problem, although I hurt for the wildlife there, especially Che Guevara Chipmunk and the coyotes.

Meanwhile, I have a new area to learn. Living in the mountains is very different than living by the sea.