Tues. March 29, 2022: Washer Woes

image courtesy of Ryan McGuire via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Waning Moon

Cloudy and cold

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

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

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

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

Dropped off/picked up books at the library.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good one.

Tues. March 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!

Thurs. March 10, 2022: Yet More Snow

image courtesy of Marketa Morchova via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Sunny and snowy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good one.

Thurs. March 3: Grateful For Flexibility

image courtesy of Gerd Altmann via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Waxing Moon

Snowy and cold

We had some more snow, which means I have to dig out the car again before taking it to the mechanic this afternoon. There’s news about the sprouting seeds on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday morning, I caught up on some stuff. I’m so far behind in dealing with a lot of emails, it’s ridiculous. I run my eye down the list several times a day, dealing with what needs quick response, but there’s other stuff that doesn’t need quick response, but needs to be dealt with at some point. And those emails are stacking up.

I ran errands in the morning: library run to drop off/pick up books; post office to mail bills and buy stamps; hit up another store in walking distance for some plant pots and organizational supplies; pick up a few things at Cumberland Farms.

I wasn’t careful enough and ingested something that triggered a minor food allergy, so that slowed me down, too.

In the afternoon, I finished up the materials the editor needed for the anthology (one set of lore on my new clan, and two sets of organizational points). That took all afternoon, because I had to cross-check what’s been established and make sure I was working within that.

I also wrote up the review for the book I enjoyed so much and sent it to my editor. Culinary noir is becoming a favorite genre.

I covered a script in the evening. I’m so grateful that my schedule is flexible so I can decide what to work on when my energy is best suited to specific kinds of work.

I’m keeping an eye on the coverage of Ukraine and getting frustrated at countries talking about sending help, but not getting things there and not stepping up and stepping in with manpower. We ARE all at war. At this point, it’s a race to stop the guy before he hits the button. Standing by isn’t going to help.

Continuing to give The Narcissistic Sociopath and his cronies a pass will not end well for us. He and his cohorts need to be indicted and neutralized BEFORE the midterms.

I am so tired of stupid people who appease until it’s too late.

Today, I will work on The Big Project in the morning, dig out the car, and then spend the afternoon at the mechanic’s. Fingers crossed I can afford the repair. I’ve put aside a good chunk of cash these past few months, but I also was too burned out to push hard in February and hit the earnings goals. I hope that doesn’t come back to smack me.

Back to the page.

Published in: on March 3, 2022 at 8:13 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 3: Grateful For Flexibility  
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Tues. March 1, 2022: Scattered

image courtesy of ulleo via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Dark Moon

Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras

Cloudy and cold

The weekend was all over the place. The February Wrap-up post is over on the GDR site.

Was disappointed at a submission call on Friday. I loved the theme. But they want 6-8K words, on “revenue share” which means, basically, the writers will never get paid. If it was a shared royalty after the initial payment or just a one-time payment, that would be one thing; that’s hit or miss. But the whole thing being revenue share? Nope. On top of that, there was a bitchy comment about how revenue share will only happen if the authors put in the work. So unpaid labor for writing a longish piece that’s close to novelette length, and then additional unpaid labor to do the publisher’s work? I think I’ll pass.

I managed to get about 3K done on The Big Project, some of which was tearing apart and re-structuring the last couple of sections before writing the next one. This is a strange project in that I can’t just write the whole first draft and then go back and edit, which is the way I prefer to work. Because each section of the project builds the next, in a different way than a traditional novel or novella or short story would, it has to be strong, structurally, and with details, before I can move to the next section. That’s part of the reason I’m behind where I want/need to be at this point. The other element is slowing it down is word choice. I’ve never worked on something where the exact shade of meaning to a word choice is so important. I can’t put in a place holder and move on. I have to find the right shade-of-meaning word before I can move on. It’s a different way of working, and a little disconcerting at times, but it is what serves this particular work the best, and therefore, that’s how it has to be done.

So, I roll with it. Every project demands something different in order to be something different; if all you do is scream “that’s my process” and aren’t willing to grow and change, you miss out on a lot.

It snowed and snowed and snowed on Friday, so it was nice not to have to go out. Since the town declared a snow emergency, public buildings and a lot of businesses were closed, and people were advised to stay home.

Saturday was cold and clear. I suited up and packed the backpack to head up to the library, with 10 books to drop off and 5 to pick up. The sidewalks were pretty clear; the sun’s higher angle means it’s melting better, even when it’s cold. When I came back, I shed the books, picked up a shovel, and dug out the car.

Yeah, definitely not in my twenties anymore. Couldn’t work as hard and as fast as I could when younger, but slow and steady got it done, and it clear all around the car, so it can’t freeze in again.

Spent way too much keeping an eye on the news from Ukraine. My mom has firsthand experience with the Russians, having escaped from a Russian prison camp during WWII. She knows of what they’re capable. The GOPers who went to Russia on July 4 a few years back need to be barred from security briefings, because they’ll report to their handlers. They, along with anyone else who backs Putin, needs to be removed from government and prosecuted for treason. Or we’re going to have firefights in the streets here, too.

Between family-related stuff (some of which I’m just discovering through genealogical research), international arts colleagues, and what I learned from studying the ICC a few years ago, it’s all far too complex on both intellectual and emotional levels for a simple blog post.

I am grumpy about going out of my way for someone (not involved with the anthology) and writing up a big ole patch of background information, turning it around in less than 24 hours when I had other deadlines, and not even getting a thank you. Learned about this individual, and won’t make the same mistake next time. Because it takes 10 seconds to type “Thanks” in a DM or an email.

Sunday was again sunny. It was supposedly warmer, but felt colder. I ran some errands, but mostly I took it easy. I did break my “day of disconnect” rule, because I wanted to keep up with what’s going on in Ukraine. I couldn’t pull it together to cook, so ordered pizza.

Tessa woke me up at 2:30 (out of a dream about colonoscopy, so no loss there). I got back to sleep. She woke me again at 4 (out of a dream where I worked on the set of an action heist film starring Dame Maggie Smith, which was very cool). I moved to the couch and dozed off, only to wake up again a little after 6 from some other weird dream that had to do with books and cannoli. Yeah, I don’t get it, either.

I had a LOT to do, since I took the weekend off, and I also had cut back on some work in February, and therefore made less $$.

I still spent too much time watching the news out of Ukraine, but that’s necessary. If the Narcissistic Sociopath had his way, we would now be aligned with Russia, and with the rest of the world against us. I talked about that during the past few years, when he was intentionally shredding our international alliances. He and the GOP may have given Putin overblown promises about how much of the US would just roll over even now. Or Putin plans to continue the push into the Ukraine and further (it will always be further) until the Republicans are back in power. They will simply hand the country over to him.

Which is yet another reason we have to make sure that they don’t get back into power in November.

I’m glad the ICC is taking action. There’s more information here.

Hey, Merrick Garland, when are you gonna get off your ass and do your job? Look how fast the ICC is moving.

I managed to work on The Big Project, somewhere around 1600 words. I’d hoped each of the three major arcs would take up a specific amount of space; I think I have to expand on that a bit.

In the afternoon, I answered some questions from a writer whose script I’d covered, and read/wrote up coverage on another script. We’re getting a raise, which is nice, and hopefully better lines of communication are opening.

Ordered Chinese food for dinner. Door Dash “adjusted” the order so many times, I had no idea what would show up. The right items showed up; today, I have to check the bank account, to make sure I was only charged once. I was involved in various conversations on Twitter while I was waiting, and inadvertently got several people heavily invested in my dinner. On the one hand, I felt frivolous with everything going on. On the other hand, I think the people who joined the conversation needed the distraction.

Math. I have to do math today. (Shudder).

I got another monster in the shared world anthology, and another organization. I have to write up the information and turn it in by tomorrow.  

This morning, I was up and out of the house early, humped the laundry to the laundromat, and was back with everything washed, dried, and folded before 7:30. I’m getting it down to a system.

I edited about 70 pages of CAST IRON MURDER at the laundromat. This is a first pass edit, not the deep edit. I have, however, decided to cut a subplot. While it served the murderer, I cannot do it justice in the book without putting that plot front and center, and that’s not what I want to use to drive the book. So I’m cutting it, and adjusting the murderer’s motivation accordingly. It affects a few places in the book, where I wound it through, so I have to make sure I’m consistent.

A friend sent me a new tarot deck as an early birthday present. The Rackham deck. Very different than the others I have, and it will be interesting to work with it.

It looks like it will either rain or snow today. I’d considered doing some errands, but I might just stay in and work on the Big Project, the materials for the anthology, the grant proposal, and more script coverage. I need to get out the vacuum, too. The cats are shedding like crazy.

When I woke up, Kyiv was still holding on. I hope the supplies promised come in fast enough to deter the 40-mile Russian convoy headed their way to destroy them.

Let’s all do what we can on every front that we can. If we sit and do nothing, we will fall next.

Published in: on March 1, 2022 at 8:04 am  Comments Off on Tues. March 1, 2022: Scattered  
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Fri. Feb. 25, 2022: Snow Emergency

image courtesy of cocoparisienne via pixabay.com

Friday, February 25, 2022

Waning Moon

Snowy and cold

It wouldn’t surprise me if we got more than a foot of snow today. It’s coming down hard, and the city is on snow emergency, so most places are closed, and people are staying off the streets.

Yesterday, I spent the morning working on material for my friend’s grant proposal, and the turning around the edits for the 2023 Spell-A-Day. I thought it would take all day, but it didn’t. It was mostly proofing, and clearing up language on a couple of pieces. One had to be completely rewritten, and another, the editor and I went back and forth a couple of times to get it as specific as possible. But it’s all done, and ahead of the March 1 deadline.

In the afternoon, I turned around a script coverage.

We didn’t do much anthology brainstorming, because everyone’s affected by what’s going on in Ukraine. The world needs to do more, instead of standing around with thumbs up collective asses and talking sanctions. Putin needs to be crushed immediately, or it will just get worse. The Putin assets in the US need to be jailed and cut off at once, and then prosecuted for treason.

The Ukraine soldiers and people, who actually have courage and heart, make the MAGA QAnons look even more like pathetic cosplayers.

This is all hard on my mom, who escaped from a Russian prison camp in Czechoslavakia in WWII. She knows of what they’re capable.

I went to bed ridiculously early last night, and Charlotte woke me up a little after 5, because the snow made everything look light.

I should push hard today on a few things, but I just don’t want to. I will watch the snow. I will work on my grant proposal. I may do some work on the Big Project. If a script comes up that looks intriguing, I might cover it. Or I might give myself the day off from it. This weekend, I want to work on The Big Project, and on contest entries.

I can’t believe it will be March next week. I’d rather hibernate for a couple more months.

One day at a time. One word at a time.

Published in: on February 25, 2022 at 8:07 am  Comments (5)  
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Tues. Feb. 22, 2022: Creative Trajectories

image courtesy of SpaceX-imagery via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and mild

2/22/22 – Pretty cool, eh?

Friday was kind of a disjointed day. A client issue that was supposedly resolved came up again, as though the initial conversation never happened. This is why I do everything in writing.

But, hopefully, it’s all actually handled now.

Got some admin done. The weather was nasty, but I managed to get out the garbage and go down to the end of the street to mail some necessary letters.

Finished reading the book for book club, and spent some time in the online forum discussing it, which was lots of fun. This book has inspired several new projects, about which I’m excited. They are all long-term, non-deadlined projects at this point, things I can work on as palate-cleansers in between other projects.

My mom’s new smart phone arrived. It’s a good one, a Samsung, much fancier than mine. But the “one step” setup/transfer from her old phone to the new phone took well over 100 steps and wasn’t complete until well into Saturday. And Tracfone’s “customer service” was, as usual, useless. But I think we might be able to unlock/take the phone to a different company, if things continue to be nasty.

I had a bad night Friday into Saturday, waking up every couple of hours, and then having trouble getting back to sleep. I think some of it is sense memory trauma – two years ago, I had the first of the cancer surgeries; last year I was stressed about the upcoming move. My body and psyche are reverting, because they believe they’ve been trained to do so at this point in the year.

Which means I have to do mindful work to disconnect the cycle of the year from previous cycles of stress and trauma, and build something positive.

Just what I need right now. More work.

But, in the long run, it will make for a more positive life experience, so I better dig in and do it.

On Saturday, I was supposed to head to the grocery store for N95 masks. They’d sent an email the previous day, saying they were giving them out. Only good thing I checked and found out that they weren’t do so at the one within walking distance. Because the next snowstorm came roaring through just as I would have had to leave, and I would have been stuck out on foot in whiteout conditions – and no masks.

I stayed inside instead, enjoying watching the snow fall. I read, mostly a biography of Ottoline Morrell. I’d read about her via diaries and letters of Bloomsbury folks, and I was annoyed then by the way they accepted her generosity and then trash-talked her. Reading her biography (the one by Miranda Seymour) made me even more annoyed. But then, talented as they were, hypocrisy and gossip were the standards of that group.

Allowed myself the day to rest and read and enjoy the snow. Other than changing the beds, I didn’t do much in the way of housework, although I did a bit of unpacking and rearranging. I am going to have to set aside a few half-days in the not-too-distant future to rearrange the filing. And I need more bookcases.

Did an online yoga/meditation session with a group I joined that’s for professional women who chose not to have children. It’s a solid group of people, and the session was good.

Did some research and pre-planning for a research trip I want to take in the spring of 2023. Figured out about how much money I need for it, how much time, breaking down the travel so it won’t be overwhelming. I’m hoping to build in a couple of days to see friends on the way, if it works for all our schedules. Both money and the curve of the virus will be key factors. I figured out how much I have to put aside every month between now and then to afford the trip and have a bit of a cushion. I want to make sure I enjoy the actual travel, not just push through to get to various destinations, and then am so worn out I can’t enjoy them. I’m not 20 anymore, and I can’t travel as though I was, just because that would be cheaper.

I also might be able to get a grant to fund at least part of the trip, so I will look into that and apply this year so the funds would be available next year, too.

It was a pleasant way to while away some time.

Did some collaborative work on the anthology. Grabbed a script to cover, and was also requested to cover another script, so that starts the week out well.

We got about six inches or so of snow, in a couple of bands. Not too bad, but the car’s all covered up again. I made a big pan of chicken enchiladas for dinner, with leftover chicken from the roast I did the other night.

Weird dreams again, Saturday into Sunday. One set of dreams was family-oriented, and not appropriate to discuss publicly, since the dreams aren’t just about me. In the other set, I was working at a conference, and trying to convince a speaker named Susan to let the sound tech wire her for her presentation (the mic pack freaked her out). Not sure what all that’s about.

Sunday was cold and sunny. Charlotte woke me around 6:30, tapping my face with her paw and head-butting me. Made scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and chives from our own plants.

Had a good, long, deep morning meditation session.

I updated the tracking sheets and Series Bible for The Big Project. That takes time, because the details are so important, but it’s necessary, especially if the project sprawls in the directions in which it’s possible (i.e., it’s a success, and goes beyond the first projected phase).

I unpacked two more boxes of books. These actually held books for current projects, and I was delighted that they made it up, and now I have them accessible on the shelves. Baby steps, right?

I did some brainstorming on the anthology, and sent an updated sheet of bullet points for the article on the theatre I created for that world.

I heard from the conference at which I’m teaching in August. They have decided to remain virtual this year. I’m perfectly happy with that. Even though they would have paid for hotel and most meals, I would have had travel expense, had to worry about clothes and makeup for four days (now I just have to look good for the Zoom session), and interacting/being “on” all the time for four days. Much as I would have liked to dip my toe back into the realm of in-person, virtual is a better choice for me personally this year, and for safety reasons for all of us. Plus, now I’m only teaching 2 hours (or maybe 4, if they want both courses) instead of 10. I’m perfectly happy about it, although I bet there will be grumblers. It also means more people from all over the country and world, who wouldn’t have been able to come in person, or would have worried about safety issues, can attend. I think it’s a positive all across the board.

I took most of the day, however, to rest and recharge. I needed it.

Yesterday was President’s Day and a holiday. Tessa got me up at 5:30. She has also decided she wants to hang out for morning yoga (which she always did at the other house), but Charlotte, who hangs out with me here, is not sure if there’s room for both of them. Believe me, there’s plenty of physical room. They just have to learn to give each other enough psychological room.

I worked on preliminary information for a large grant application for which I want to try. I need to figure out what I want to do with it.

It was sunny and mild out, and I took the opportunity to run errands: get the garbage out, pick up a few things at Cumberland Farms, Big Y, CVS, the liquor store, and check out some other stores I could get to on foot, in the hopes of finding cute little plant pots. No luck. The ones I found don’t drain, and that’s not an option.

Did some brainstorming on the anthology. Covered a script. It was sunny and mild enough to sit on the front porch in the afternoon and read there. The cats were as thrilled as the people.

I’m reading a book that’s supposedly a diary by the author, but is actually more of creative nonfiction. The headings have dates, but she admits they were written over the course of two years and change, not a single year. Because no one could travel back and forth across Europe and the country for month-long or semester-long residencies and be in different, far-flung locations so often. She uses something that happens in the day to trigger an essay built around it, and it’s well-written and engaging for the most part. But she’s one of those women who always has to have a man in her life and can’t be alone for five minutes. I have trouble respecting that kind of dependence. On top of that, most of the time, she’s a jerk to everyone around her, including the men. One would hope, in the process of writing the diary (or writing the essays that compromise the diary), that she would realize how badly she treats people around her, and try to be kinder. Learn from it. But she doesn’t. She just wallows in being a jerk. I mean, the diary is the best possible place to be a jerk, but hopefully, through the writing, you realize it and choose the path of non-jerkdom. Or at least attempt the path of being kinder. Not this woman.

I’m tempted to try reading some of her fiction, but I don’t like the “her” I’ve met on the page (which, since this is a journal for publication, is another created “her” rather than the actual person). I’m nearly finished with this book; but do I ever want to spend time with any of the “hers” again?

Highly doubtful. Although I’ve learned some good craft lessons for creative nonfiction by reading this book.

Woke up to a great article about a local entrepreneur I met last October. I’m thrilled for her! Looking forward to being able to support her business later this spring and into summer.

This morning, I have a Zoom session with fellow local entrepreneurs, which should be fun, and tonight, I’m signed up for a Zoom session via Titcomb’s Books (one of my favorite bookshops on Cape) for an author event with Nina de Gramont, the author of THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR. Two Zooms in one day! And a Zoom on Thursday for meditation! That fills my limit of not doing more than 3 Zoom sessions a week, whenever possible.

After the first Zoom, I need to head up to the library, to drop off and pick up books. Then it’s back to the page, and after that, another script coverage. It’s supposed to be mild for the next few days (although rain coming in tomorrow), but then another storm at the weekend.

One day, one step at a time, right? After all, I have books to unpack and projects to create!

Thurs. Feb. 10, 2022: Flexibility is Key

Image courtesy of studioone via pixabay.com

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Waxing Moon

Snowy and cold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good one!

Fri. Jan. 7, 2022: Taking Down the Ornaments

image courtesy of Theo Crazzolara via pixabay.com

Friday, January 7, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Snowy and cold

It snowed overnight. Not much, just enough to be pretty. The plows are already out. They’re good about that here. Unlike on Cape, where it could take days. Although I hear Boston and the coast all the way down past New York are getting more than two inches of snow per hour.

Fortunately, today is another day where I don’t have to go out.

It stopped snowing for a couple of hours, and started up again, tiny little flakes which will, no doubt, stick and freeze over. I’ll have to dig out the car later so it doesn’t turn into a mini iceberg.

I finished writing up a coverage yesterday morning and got it in just under the wire. Then, I put the chicken and mushrooms and spices in the crockpot, so I didn’t have to worry about dinner.

We were late starting to get the decorations down, and the sheer amount to be rounded up, packed, and stashed is overwhelming. I don’t know why I’m surprised; it took three weeks to put up. Taking more than a day to put it away shouldn’t surprise me.

But I was discouraged.

Got the front door wreath down, and have it up on the living room door, where the big jingle bell wreath was, although I’ve stripped it down to green. We will enjoy the greens as long as we can, and then I’ll harvest some to burn at Yule this coming December. The heart door decoration is now up, ready for Valentine’s Day.

The ribbons and cards and lights and little decorations are down from the kitchen. It looks very bare. I’m thinking it needs a valence. I like the big windows and don’t want curtains, but it does look terribly bare, now that everything’s gone.

We packed up the decorations from my office, the sewing room, the bathroom (yes, I even decorate the bathroom), and Tessa’s room. We took down the small tree on the porch and packed everything away in the closet in Tessa’s room. I still have to take down the lights, but they’re tied to the blinds, so that’s a chore for another day.

We stripped the big tree of all the ornaments. The ones that have specific boxes are all packed away. There are still a big pile that go into the plastic bins, and that’s a task for today. The big tree with just the lights is still up. I have boxes for the lights that are organized by type of strand and length of strand, so it has to be done with precision And it won’t be fun to unwind the length of lights I put around the trunk in a fit of over-decorating zeal.

We still have to strip the stairs of lights and garlands and bits, put away the Santas, the deer, and the nutcrackers. And then figure how to pack it so we still have some space for the year. Most of it goes into the closet in the sewing room, and some of it goes into the top  pantry shelves. There will, no doubt, be some rearranging.

Read a script just before dinner. Had the slow cooker chicken stroganoff, which turned out well, and then wrote up the coverage. I have one script I have to read/write up today, and I should do two. I behind where I need to be to make my  nut this pay period.

But I’ve struggled this week. I’m exhausted and frustrated and disheartened.

President Biden’s speech was a good one, but I remain dubious until there are arrests and convictions. Anyone involved in the insurrection or who voted not to certify the election committed treason and should face the strongest of penalties for that. Anything less is giving them a pass to do it again. Every House Republican who did not show up for the moment of respect on the floor yesterday should be censured and removed.

And, while I’m glad the economy is “booming” when the cost of it is close to a million lives, no. Just no. This administration is forcing people to work to death just as much as the last one. That is not acceptable.

They ran on promises of monthly stipends of $2K/month for the length of the pandemic and 3 months beyond. Instead, they gave us $1400 a year ago.

Not acceptable.

Word has dumped the “Editor” function in yesterday’s reboot, so I’m back cross-checking with style guides (like Strunk, Chicago, etc.) which I had to do anyway, because Word’s Editor was usually wrong.

I’m just so damn tired of all of it.

Have a good weekend, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Wed. Dec. 22, 2021: Recovering From a Mac & Cheese Coma

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Waning Moon

Chiron Direct (as of 12/21)

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Rainy and raw

image courtesy of SocialButterflyMMG via pixabay.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So all that stress was for nothing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both libraries were delighted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good one!

Fri. Dec. 10, 2021: Just Let Me Hide in a Book Fort, Away From the Incompetents

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Friday, December 10, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

We had a dusting of snow overnight. Just enough to be pretty.

Meditation was great yesterday. Charlotte participated the whole time (because, you know, Zoom).

After breakfast, I grabbed the bags with the packages and cards, and with the library books, and headed out. The sidewalks weren’t too bad, heading out, just a few patches of ice, and I went slowly.

There was a line at the post office, but the packages were mailed out, and the postage was about half of what I expected it to be. So that was good. Everything is supposed to arrive in 3-5 days, which means about 10, but should still get there in time for the holidays. The cards all went on their way, too, so, hopefully, they will arrive at some point in the next 10 days.

Headed up to the library to drop off and pick up books. Came back along Church Street, which was quite slippery, at least up until I reached the college property.

Worked on the tracking sheets for The Big Project, because if I lose track of the details, I will be in big trouble.

Finished off the newsletter. There was some wonk in the contact list. It wasn’t a difficult fix, just took a bit of time. Let people know they can still sign up before it goes out – I’ll actually send it this morning. And then block into next year’s calendar when it needs to go out again, and start a document that I can add to as interesting tidbits come up to go into March’s.

As I get more comfortable with the templates in Sendinblue, I can probably bump up the visuals, eventually.

Freelance Chat was a lot of fun. It was about virtual assistants. I used a virtual assistant when I did more online courses, to handle the admin bits, but what I do now doesn’t really need one.

The VW dealer in Pittsfield downright refuses to give me an estimate for the repair, and won’t even estimate how many hours – at over $100/hour – the diagnostic will take. Um, diagnostics take about 35 minutes. My cousin helped design the fucker. So when they tell me it might take “several hours” to run the diagnostic and THEN they’ll be able to give me a detailed repair estimate, I know they’re out to screw me.

On top of that, after ignoring me for two weeks, I’m getting multiple emails every day from different people in the sales department, asking me what I’m looking for in my new car.

THAT’S NOT WHAT THIS ISSUE IS ABOUT. ARE YOU INCAPABLE OF BASIC READING COMPREHENSION? AND YES, I AM SCREAMING.

Seriously, I’ve driven Volkswagens all my life, my cousins was in R & D for years, and I have never dealt with such a bunch of incompetent headcases. Not only do I doubt they’ll fix the car, I am convinced they will screw me as badly as possible through the whole process.

Not a happy camper.

Wrote up three coverages. Read a short story that’s under consideration for adaptation, and two more scripts, all of which I will write up today. And have to get out a review for a book which definitely did not work for me.

Knowledge Unicorns went well, although everyone’s looking forward to the winter holiday break.

Reading Erin Sterling’s THE EX HEX, which is a lot of fun, although there are some logistical glitches that bother me. Still, the writing is energetic, the pacing is good, the premise is fun, and the characters engaging.

It’s supposed to warm up into the 60s by tomorrow. My body does not enjoy the fluctuating weather. The forsythia are already blooming back on Cape Cod, which means it will be a wonky spring down there.

Have a good weekend, my friends. Catch you on the other side.

Tues. Nov. 30, 2021: Giving Thanks for Vaccine Boosters

image courtesy of Bianca Van Dijk via pixabay.com

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Waning Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and cold, chnged over to snow as I wrote this.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, and that the focus was on love and good company, rather than stress and conflict.

Wednesday was a struggle for me to get everything done. Once I’d done my quota on CAST IRON MURDER, I slogged through about 500 emails, trying to get the Inbox under control again.

I struggled with the last project I had before I could call it a holiday. But I got there, by mid-afternoon. The mental exhaustion is even more severe than the physical exhaustion, although my hip was giving me a lot of trouble. I will have to find yoga stretches to help with that.

Was relieved that the three men who hunted down and murdered Ahmaud Arbery were convicted. Unlike the Kyle Rittenhouse jury, this one took its job seriously.

Baked the Ginger Apple Crumb Cake from the Wintersweet Cookbook. It was wonderful!

Read for fun in the afternoon and evening. Played with some ideas, both for inserts I need to do for CAST IRON MURDER, the outline for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and the Big New Project.

A friend came up with a great name for the second workshop I’m teaching on Cape Cod next summer.

Tessa let me sleep until a quarter to six on Thanksgiving morning. It was so nice not to have to worry about anything except making the meal!

I added (in red ink), to the printout of the current draft, the reference setting up the character in CAST IRON MURDER that I need for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY to work. I thought about an insert scene I need to add, but haven’t figured out where to put it yet.

My ego was all in an uproar that I wasn’t updating “every day” or doing the 1667 words for the day. But I planned to be at 50K by Thanksgiving; except for these inserts, I have only one more chapter to write and this draft is done. The whole point of pushing hard at the beginning of the month was so I could choose to take off Thanksgiving without stress.

So that’s what I did.

That’s what these people who scream how the “write every day” mantra is “wrong” don’t get. You write every day that’s designated as a “work” day; that way, you choose when to take time off, be it for life commitments or holidays. But the work is steady. Often, I choose to write on holidays, especially if I’m deep into a piece. But writing every day and meeting daily quotas mean I have the breathing room to CHOOSE when and where to take time off, not just letting the writing slide. Because once you start letting it slide, it’s more difficult to get back into the rhythm.

Every book, every story, every script, has its own innate rhythm. One of the reasons outlining helps so much is that I can jump right into where I left off, and slide back into that unique rhythm much more easily than staring at a blank page, wondering what I meant to do next.

Talked to the family in Maine. We had no intention of traveling this year for the Big Dinner (which is usually held in the VFW Hall and is 60+ people). Both because of the pandemic, and because I’m still unhappy with the lack of support around the move. Since the rule is to put aside all arguments for the day, no matter what, I’d have had to grit my teeth and smile. I don’t have the physical or emotional energy for that right now, especially with all the cooking and cleaning up involved. We’d expected bad weather, and had already bowed out. The dinner wound up being cancelled, due to the rising virus numbers in Maine, even though everyone in the family is triple-boosted or about to be, and the younger kids are all on their way to being double-vaxxed. We might have our differences over plenty of things, but NONE of the extended family is anti-vax or a supporter of the Narcissistic Sociopath.

My cousin, who’s led the organization of the dinner for 50+ years, ordered the meal for the nuclear family this year, from a restaurant. She picked it up yesterday, and all they have to do today is heat it up in the oven for 2 hours. Good for her; after all these years, she’s earned a rest.

I have a feeling the Big Dinner might be a thing of the past.

Which I’m okay with. I have plenty of fond memories of it.

Made the stuffing, stuffed the turkey, and got it in the oven a little after 9 AM. Yes, I cook the stuffing in the bird. I’ve been doing it my entire life. Because I cook the turkey at a higher temperature than most, the interior surpasses the recommended temperature. Because I also basically poach it, by keeping the cover on the roasting pan and using a lot of liquid in the pan, the meat remains tender and practically falls off the bone.

Enjoyed a quiet morning reading while the turkey cooked; Around noon, I got the potatoes going, and make the parsnip-carrot in mushroom sauce dish. I’d saved a precious bag of frozen peas (a rarity right now) and heated them up, along with making corn for myself. I’d stockpiled our favorite cranberry sauce from Trader Joe’s before we moved (closest Trader Joe’s here is over an hour away).

I’d set the table in the morning, there were candles in the candelabra. I think we were the only ones in the entire building. The cats discovered that apples roll better than potatoes, and played with some apples up and down the hall. At least they were getting along.

The turkey came out of the oven, just gorgeous and tender. Needed two platters for it, since it was a 16-pound turkey. One platter for the main bird, and one platter for legs and wings.

The gravy turned out well, too. Giblet gravy, with plenty of fresh herbs.

Put the rest of the stuffing in the oven as soon as the bird came out, so that could bake. Because turkey sandwiches lathered with stuffing and cranberry sauce are a favorite way to use leftovers.

Anyway, the dinner was delicious. We eat around midday (well, closer to 2 PM this year). We had cider from the Berkshire Cider Project, made from Windy Hill Farm apples down in Great Barrington. It was good. I still prefer wine with the dinner, but it was a nice change.

For years, I always had Beaujolais Nouveau with the turkey. I’ve finally accepted the fact that I don’t like that kind of wine, and I’m looking for another red that goes well with the meal.

Cleaned up the leftovers, which I will use in various dishes over the next few days, and some of the turkey went into the freezer. The gravy will be fun to use. Made stock from the turkey carcass. It didn’t make much, so I used it on Friday to make a nice turkey soup that was a good, filling lunch over the weekend.

Got an idea for a stand-alone romantic-comedy-mystery and jotted some notes.

Spent the afternoon and evening with a glass of wine, a book, and French jazz on the CD player. It was lovely.

Scrolled through social media a bit, enjoying people posting photos of their cooking, baking, and starting the Christmas decorations.

Charlotte woke me up at 4:30 on Friday, chewing on my hair. Tessa started singing a few minutes later. I moved to the sewing room, but Tessa and Charlotte started fussing at each other, so I gave up and got up to feed them.

It was gloomy and rainy, with predictions it would turn to snow. It did so by mid-day. Which was fine, since I had no intention of going out and about on Black Friday.

Instead, I started the holiday decorating, made chocolate walnut butter bread, and made turkey soup from scratch (which was really good).

I also read, for fun, although I admit I did a little work-related reading on the Marie Corelli research. Mostly, it was just about having some time off. Spent a good bit of time just watching the snow fall because it was so pretty.

Saturday was sunny and cold. The street was plowed early. People were out and about getting things done.

I wrote a bunch of inserts for CAST IRON MURDER, to fix some plot holes, before I write the last chapter and put the book aside for a couple of months to percolate.

Did some more decorating. After lunch, I did a run to Big Y for a few things, once I’d scraped the snow off the car, and then went on the hunt of liquid Tylenol. You can tell that people are getting their boosters, because almost every store is out of liquid Tylenol. I finally snagged a lonely bottle.

On the hunt for taper candles for the Advent table. Couldn’t find any. Even Wild Oats, which has the lovely Mole Hill candles, was sold out. Hit up way too many stores, and was irritated that people are letting masking protocols slide. With the new variant, that’s not acceptable. At least I wasn’t in any one store for long or that was too crowded.

Tired and grumpy when I got home. Just reheated turkey and trimmings leftovers, and read two scripts at night. Since I don’t know whether I’ll have a reaction to the booster, I’m doing Monday and Tuesday’s work over the weekend. Resent not taking the whole weekend off, but needs must.

Reading Hermione Lee’s biography of Penelope Fitzgerald, which is excellent. How much creative work has been lost because so many talented women remained tied to useless husbands?

Tessa, who hates people food, has decided she likes raspberry rugelach, so we had to put it out of her reach.

I was really proud of Charlotte and Tessa on Saturday. They were both on the couch together for most of the day without fighting. Didn’t even fuss at each other all day. Progress.

Amazon claims they delivered a package on Wednesday “in the mailbox” at 1:08 PM. In Pittsfield. First of all, I don’t live in Pittsfield. Second of all, the only things “in my mailbox” on Wednesday were an LL Bean catalogue and a flyer from the Sierra Club. Since Amazon doesn’t have a customer service email anymore that they share, I had to call them out on Twitter. Where they pretended to help, but only sent links that kept sending me around in circles.

I’ve only ordered 4 times from them in the past 2 years (other than eBooks). All four times, they’ve claimed the packages were delivered when they weren’t. After a big fight, they give a partial refund, then take back the full amount when they claim it’s been replaced/redelivered. Which it never is.

Done ordering anything except eBooks from them.

I’m tired of the lies and the double-charging. I don’t mind everything taking three or four weeks longer than they say. I mind the constant lying. And the attitude that if I expect a package to be delivered, it will only happen if I join Amazon Prime.

Tessa let me sleep until 5:30 on Sunday morning, mostly because she and Willa were playing. I’m glad the three of them are finally getting along. It’s taken three years of nearly constant work.

Wrote the final chapter of CAST IRON MURDER. This draft of the book is done, coming in a little over 62K. For a not-quite-cozy, I might almost get away with that, in subsequent drafts. It feels good to have it complete. It’s done a lot to help me regain my confidence that I CAN write another book. And another. And maybe even one after that. In other words, get my career back on track.

I also put all my chapters into a single document to upload to the Nano site on Tuesday, for verification.

When I write I draft in standard manuscript format, and I draft every chapter in a separate file (each draft is a separate folder).

It saves ever so much time and frustration later in the process.

After breakfast, found some cream-colored taper candles at a store I don’t like, but I did manage to grab the last box of any taper candles they had. Then, over to a place we do like, Whitney’s Farm over in Cheshire, where we bought a live wreath. Brought it home, decorated it, put it up. It makes the front door look festive.

I procrastinated in writing up my coverages. Instead, I took a short course with Sisters Enchanted, and updated my Amazon author page (well aware of the irony of that, since I am so unhappy with Amazon).

I finally got both coverages written, and then read two more scripts. Tessa and Charlotte didn’t fuss at each other all day Sunday, either. Progress.

Up early on Monday, with the usual routine (cats, yoga, meditation, shower, writing). Worked on the outline notes for the Big Project, which I have to start this week. Wrote up the script coverages and sent them off. Wrote a letter to my mom’s insurance – even with Senator Elizabeth Warren’s help, there are things that need attention. Sent off my blurbs, bio, etc. for next summer’s conference. All before 10 AM.

Drank most of a bottle of water and we headed off to CVS for my vaccine booster. Pfizer, this time. The young male nurse was very kind and chatty. I was in and out in 15 minutes. My arm hurt and the fatigue set in fast, but nowhere near the reaction I had with the Moderna shots.

My mom drove us home – her first time driving in this area. She did very well. My Tamed Wild box arrived, so that was something fun to open. I had enough appetite for lunch, and enough energy to read a delightful script, write it up, and send it off, before I crashed.

I slept on the sofa most of the afternoon, and had some scrambled eggs for dinner. I read in the evening, took Tylenol as my arm started hurting more, and went to bed. My arm hurt, I was fatigued, had chills here and there. For about 10 minutes, the palms of my hands turned bright red, which was weird, but then it faded. Much milder effects than Moderna.

Charlotte and Tessa fussed at each other. Back to square one.

My mom promised to get up and feed them in the morning, so I could stay in bed. Well, by 5:14 AM, I had all three cats in my room performing the feline version of the “Hallelujah Chorus” and gave up. I fed them. Tessa started yowling when I went back to bed. I picked her up and dumped her in my mom’s room and closed the door. Five minutes later, she was out again and yelling.

I am not a happy camper.

Especially since they’re all fast asleep now.

Can’t figure out where to upload CAST IRON MURDER for verification. It used to show up right on the landing page. Other than that, I’d cleared today, in case I felt bad. I don’t feel terrible, but I’m fatigued, achy, my arm hurts, I have a bit of a headache, and a bit of lymph node swelling. Not bad, especially in comparison to the Moderna, but I’m glad I cleared things so I could take it easy today.

There are things I can do if I feel up to them; but there’s nothing that HAS to get done today, except that I rest.

Finished the Penelope Fitzgerald biography by Hermione Lee, and now I want to read Fitzgerald’s novels. Will order them from the library before I go back to bed.

Peace, friends, and catch up tomorrow.

Tues. April 6, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 319 — Trudging Along

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Waning Moon

No idea about the weather; it’s still dark out.

No graphic today. There’s nothing that encapsulates the combination of determination and despair I feel.

Busy weekend.

Friday was frustrating. I tried to book a vaccine appointment for this week. But, although, as of yesterday, I am eligible, the system did not update the eligibility categories for this week’s appointments. They’re not doing it until this week.

Which meant I wasn’t actually eligible, and, as usual, they lied.

So, no appointment for me this week. Hopefully, they’ll release more appointments on Thursday, and I can book something for next week.

Worked on Friday, then packed and worked on contest entries.

Did a dump run and a grocery run, decontaminated.

Responded to the friend of a friend of a friend’s email about her house; haven’t heard back yet, but, fingers crossed. Dealt with at least another dozen scams. The scams take so much time and energy.

Woke up Saturday morning to a sprinkling of snow on the roofs and the yard. Not much, quickly melted, but snow.

Saturday was about packing, laundry, and housework. I packed the built-in from my office – teapot collection, things I’ve collected through the years that I keep around to keep my spirits up.  Ordered a roll of bubble wrap and more tape, but also had to run out and buy another roll of bubble wrap. So I had to go through decontamination and all that, and it set me back.

Packed the gardening books and magazines. Tossed a lot of stuff I didn’t need.

Did the laundry, cleaned the house.

Client sent something around 5 PM Saturday that she wants done; I responded on Monday morning, assuring her it would go out that day. I am not on call, especially not on a holiday weekend.

Found out I didn’t get a fellowship for which I applied. Which is fine, because it was a long shot, and, at least I tried.

Easter Sunday, I packed up the cookbooks (except for one). The kitchen looks and feels totally different without the cookbooks. Packed some more decorations. Found a suitcase in the storage room full of clothes I’d never unpacked when we moved here. Sorted through it – stuff that still fits that I like, stuff that doesn’t, that I’ll give away. Repacked the suitcase with stuff from my closet.

Worked on contest entries. I’m through almost all the print books in the second category, and then I can finish the digital books. It will be hard to make the final choices. There’s quite a stack of really strong possibilities.

Looked at rental listings and got depressed.

Purged and tossed a bunch of stuff I don’t need. There’s another dump run coming up this week, or early next week, I think.

Worried about a good friend who has COVID.

Roasted a chicken for dinner, so that was good. The leftovers will make some good meals.

Had a few false starts on the article.

Up early on Monday.  Wasn’t feeling well at all. Managed a run to Trader Joe’s; home, decontaminated, turned around some client work. Sent out some LOIs. Worked on contest entries.

Rental listings depressing.

Fell asleep in the afternoon (I told you I wasn’t feeling well). Felt a little better after that.

Watched some short films written by Alan Bennett. Both funny and sad. In between the books I’m being paid to read, I’m still reading novels by Ovidia Yu, which I really enjoy. The series set in Singapore in 1936 is wonderful. I’m learning a lot about the history of the region, and she’s so skillful in the way she weaves it into the story.

Up early this morning. I have a lot of client work to get through today, and then I need to finish my article and send it to my editor.

Two companies responded to my LOIs with demands for unpaid, project-specific work samples, I sent them my contract for that. No doubt, I’ll never hear from either of them again, and that’s just fine with me. Ethical companies do not have unpaid labor as part of a hiring process. I have massive portfolio samples across a wide range of topics. Use critical reading skills. Or pay me for project-specific samples. Otherwise, we’re not a match.

Onward.

Published in: on April 6, 2021 at 5:02 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 6, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 319 — Trudging Along  
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