Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday, December 25,2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Rainy and cold
Christmas Day

The weather’s lousy here today, and supposed to get worse. I’m glad I don’t have to go anywhere, although I have to leave for the site job tomorrow fairly early. Which means, of course, that today I have to pack. I have three different BIG projects that have to go with me, so that means three different BIG bags and/or crates. And the food. And the yoga paraphernalia. And i have a VW Rabbit! 😉 Hauling all that up and down three flights of stairs will NOT be fun, but, as I finish projects, I hope to bring stuff back over the course of the week when I return to feed the cats.

Violet is fascinated with the Advent table, as you can see. Of course, she decided to redesign in — paw on the small plate where an ornament used to be.


Iris if fascinated by the tree.

Yesterday was a good, though fairly quiet day. I got the free holiday story download up, “Just Jump in and Fly”. It’s only available until the 6th of January, so hop over to the Ava Dunne page to read an excerpt and then download it before then, if you want to read it.

I dashed out just before noon to pick up more dishes for the leftovers. The store was packed, the parking lot was packed, everyone looked unhappy and almost in tears or in tears, so I felt bad for them and wished everyone I could a happy holiday.

Heard from some old friends, which was great. Got the most wonderful card from my best friend from college and his wife — they sound good, and we truly will get together in the New Year to catch up. Dropped off the cookie platter to the ex-friend who never called back, but finally called back with a lame excuse a week later — and then seemed disappointed when I refused to get into an argument about it. Sorry you have holiday-related issues; I am not going to aid you in repeating destructive patterns, nor am I your therapist. I’m just trying to have a joyful holiday. If you choose not to, that is YOUR choice, and I choose not to participate in a joy-less holiday. I dashed over to make the drop-off; I was in the middle of food preparation and couldn’t hang out.

Speaking off food, marinating the pork roast for 30 hours worked well. It was tender and succulent and perfect. I better write down the marinade recipe before I forget it — I sort of made it up on the spot.

I gathered together the different recipes I used for this holiday season so I can put together the notes and then put them together in a holiday binder, instead of just the regular binder. I got the idea from a story I’ve been working on called “Christmas Cancellation Project” (which may wind up being next year’s download), where the protag’s godkids want to make the Christmas cookies from her infamous “The Binder.”

Tried a new-to-me recipe for potatoes au gratin — it was pretty good, but I think next time, I’ll put in less milk and keep the cream amount the same. Red cabbage and green peas rounded out the menu, with plum pudding and brandy sauce for dessert.

We had to rest up after putting away the leftovers and doing the dishes. And then it was time for presents. We always open the gifts on the Eve and have the stockings on the Morning. Elsa usually loves opening presents, so I woke her up and brought her into the room. She stalked back to her nap. Iris and Violet had a ball playing with the wrapping and the ribbons and all the rest. Elsa woke up once we were done and wanted to know when we were going to open the presents!

This morning we had the stockings (cats get a stocking, too, and get to unpack it). Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs and panettone. I made the stuffing for the turkey, and it’s in the oven. I’m going to pack now, and sort out the projects that need to go with me, and then enjoy a nice dinner and a calm, family-oriented evening. I’ve adjusted the aromatherapy blend — more pine and clove, less citrus. Now it’s exactly what I want.

Heads up! Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow. Which means travel and computers will go kerplooey, and people will look at you when you talk like you’re speaking an unknown language. But the end-of-year sales will rock!

I wish you all the Merriest of Christmases, and lots of love and good cheer.


Published in: on December 25, 2009 at 10:33 am  Comments (12)  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, December 21, 2009

Detail of living room garland

Monday, December 21, 2009
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Yule — The Winter Solstice
Sunny and cold

I have to take a minute to rant about yet again about how much 1and1 WebHosting sucks. They forced a mail upgrade RIGHT BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS, a busy, stressful enough time as it is, with no instructions, and I can’t do anything. I had the newsletter all set to go == finally — and can’t add in any of the addresses. I am sick and tired of them taking my money and NOT GIVING ME SERVICE.

I wound up hand-entering every address for the newsletter. Of course, the site boots me off it every 3 minutes, so I couldn’t even get a decent amount of addresses in at any given time — because it won’t let me copy and paste or click and add or anything that it is supposed to do. Tech support’s instructions have nothing to do with what is actually on the screen.

I have GOT to take another iWeb design class as soon as possible to answer my last few questions, get the sites redesigned, and then get them the hell off that host. Right now, FAT COW and GREEN GEEKS are my top contenders.

It also means sorting through all the mail and pulling the files, which is a huge job( since I have to get and file approximately 500 emails per day pertaining to various projects), and something I haven’t had the time to complete, which is why it’s taken me so long to dump this awful web host.

Other than that, it was a decent day. I dug out the car — the snow was light and powdery, so it was no big deal. I took it easy, because I’m tired — a little writing, a little reading.

I must be dreaming about Christmas at night, because for the past three mornings, I woke up thinking it was Christmas Day. And, on Sunday morning, I woke up at 2 AM, absolutely convinced I forgot to put the turkey into the oven. I dashed into the kitchen with Elsa faithfully following behind me (Violet glanced up and said, “You’re kidding, right? I’m not getting up at 2 AM”). When I saw there was no turkey in the fridge to go into the oven, I realized I must have been dreaming!

I have a contract to sign and get back in the mail. The rights on the PERFECTLY PLUM anthology are expanding to include digital, so they sent me an addendum — seems perfectly fair, and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a go.

I’ve got to run to the store today to get some more heavy cream for the trifle, and a few other things, but, for the most part, I want to concentrate on getting back into the writing groove today and work on the stories due in (gulp) less than two weeks.

As I look over the projects and deadlines and ideas for 2010, I realize that, not only do I have to up my quality, I have to seriously up my quantity. That’s always a tricky tightrope — the bulk of the writers who swear they can write four articles in an hour for mill content sites (thereby selling work for $15/article, (when if they put in a few more minutes, they could sell it for 10X that much in legitimate publications AND retain reprint rights) focus on quantity. They have to — they can’t earn anything if they’re not turning out bulk content. And they’ll burn out pretty damn fast — no one can retain that kind of pace for long and keep up a high quality. In fact, of the writing I’ve read by some of the loudest defenders of the content mills — bluntly, their quality is non-existent, and there’s a reason they’re not hired by higher paying publications. I see why some of my clients have come to me begging me to clean up mess created by mill content writers. I do it, but the price is high. By “clean up”, I don’t mean revise — I mean I throw it all out, start from scratch, and create a piece of solid writing that draws in customers for my clients. The “clean up” part comes because the previous writer not only turned in poor quality, but turned it in late, which means I’m working on a truncated deadline. And there’s a price on that.

Quality is always the most important, but, in order to both achieve what I want to achieve and earn the money I need to earn to make a living at this, I have to up the ante in every possible way. I have to find a way to up the quantity, retain (and improve) the quality (because if you don’t at least strive to make every piece you do better than the last, you are doing a disservice to yourself AND the writing), and not burn out. I have to be much more focused and disciplined with my time than I’ve been the past couple of months. This year, in general, I’ve gotten way behind on a couple of things, and there is simply no excuse. Either I want it enough to do what needs to be done, or I shouldn’t be in the business. Period. We all have twenty four hours in every day. It’s how we choose to use them that defines us. Since I choose to define myself as “writer”, I damn well have to make some changes in how I structure my day.

I leave for a site job the day after Christmas Day, so I have to be packed and organized for that, too, by Christmas. AND friends are coming into town just for a few hours that day, so I’m trying to coordinate at quick visit. I’ve also got to get New Year’s sorted — New Year’s Eve will be stressful because I have to be on the road at night (hopefully I can get going early enough to avoid the bulk of the drunks), but New Year’s Day should be a pretty wonderful start to the year.

I’m ready to start a new decade. This one’s certainly been a challenge! Lots of wonderful things in it, too, but I’m ready to attack the next decade with vigor!

Back to the page.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Hop on over to Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page, where I’m a guest blogger while she’s out of town. I write about the Home Writing Retreat.

Of course, yesterday’s post didn’t post when scheduled (et tu, Word Press?), so it’s below this one.

Yet more techno-drama. Yesterday, my mother’s cell phone died. So, today, I’m taking all the phones and chargers and tossing them at someone’s head at the store. Done with tech problems. I want the services for which I pay.

Later that night, the landline where she’s staying went out. I went over and managed to fiddle with it so she can call out if there’s an emergency.

Parchment, quill pens, carrier pigeons. Just sayin’.

I was out of the house yesterday early, having cleaned up, taken out the garbage, cleaned out the litter boxes, taken out the recycling, filled the feeders and waterers, checked to make sure everything was turned off/unplugged/locked.

I couldn’t believe how full the car was: the duffle with my clothes, my yoga bag, my computer bag, my workbag with files/research materials/DVDs/etc., and three bags of food.

I arrived a little early to go over the instructions for the week, and it started raining soon after. I unpacked the food, unpacked the work stuff and clothes, etc. and settled in. Ah! Peace and quiet. I’m happy to say the Time Machine back-ups seem to have worked, and MOST of my files are intact. Those that I have to re-download are easily accessible, and I didn’t lose any original work. I was settled in to work before 10 AM.

That midair crash on Saturday between the helicopter and the small plane over the Hudson is horribly tragic. Nine people killed. There are too many crashes — every day on the roads and now in the air.

Had a reasonably productive day. In addition to the site work, I got the first draft of “Plot Bunnies” into the computer and started getting “Personal Revolution” in. I also managed to work in some work for an editing client. I was very fatigued all day, the fallout from the previous day’s stress.

However, one of my favorite things about working/staying at this site is the kitchen. Last night, I made poached chicken in orange/lime/cilantro sauce, made creamy mashed potatoes, and steamed some peas and corn with more cilantro and just a touch of garlic. Yum! And pizza for lunch.

Had a great yoga session this morning. Started the next short story on the list. Another comic mystery. Got everything sorted at the site until I get back.

I’m headed back home to feed the cats (will probably post this from home), clean up after them, print off some material on my computer, download some more editing projects, maybe finally get my bins from White Plains, and get the cell phone situation sorted out with Verizon before heading back to the site. It’s supposed to take me about two hours, but we’ll see. I’m keeping careful lists as I move from the site to my home office, because specific things have to be done at each, and I only have about an hour or two off-site each day in which to get it all done.

It’s supposed to be nearly 100 today, so I’ve got to make sure I get the apartment cooled off, the cats have cool places to sleep, and there’s plenty of cool water for them.



This Did Not Post When Scheduled

Heaven forbid it would actually publish when WordPress promised it would — wrote and posted this Saturday night, set to post at 5 AM EST on Sundy and . . nothing.

I am rarely angry with WordPress, but this was NOT the weekend for them to fail me!

Sunday, August 9, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
No idea of the weather — writing this Saturday night

So, I think I’ve got a working computer again, but I’m finding I have to reload this and that, in spite of the Time Machine supposed full system back-ups, and I am not happy.

I am not happy that I had to spent 10 hours crossing 2 states because a FOUR MONTH old computer that’s treated better than most family members took a dive. Especially at the prices Apple charges for their computers. The personnel were pleasant, and it looks like it’s up and running, and it looks like all my files are intact — even the ones I backed up literally seconds before the drive took a dive. I lost an entire workday, which I can’t afford to do, and, had I not adamantly refused to be put off until “an appointment opened up” and dug in, I would have lost a hell of a lot of work and income.

You better believe Apple head office will hear from me — both the good and the bad.

Even at its lowest point today, it was still better than ANY experience I had with Dell.

But I had a raging headache when I got home, a missed workday/lost income on an emergency gig, used more gas dealing with this crap than I used to drive to Maine last month, and had to be up for hours finishing the prep for the site job.

Anyway, by the time you read this, I SHOULD be at the site gig, and I SHOULD be using my computer-with-its-new-hard drive — and this one better work for more than 4 months!

Thank goodness I did a backup literally seconds before the drive died, so the work I did this a.m. is intact.

I was so upset, I had to go buy books. They were on sale, so I felt less bad. A novel, a memoir, a yoga book and a book I’m not sure what it is,but it looked interesting.

I have to say, in the many hours I spent at various Apple stores across two different states, I was surprised by the number of people who’ve either dropped their iPhones down the toilet or left it out in the rain, and are shocked when that’s not covered by warranty. Since when is stupidity covered by warranty? One woman — this was the 3rd phone in ONE MONTH she destroyed — once in the toilet, once in public pool, and this time, she left it out in the rain. Must be nice to have hundreds of dollars to toss around replacing equipment you can’t handle responsibly.

It was a LOUSY day. On the way home, I stopped at the wine store and treated myself, and the prices wouldn’t scan. I said, “That sums up my whole day.”

Let’s hope today is better, shall we?


Published in: on August 10, 2009 at 9:04 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,