Tues. Nov. 27, 2018: Busy Season is Here

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Waning Moon
Neptune DIRECT (as of Saturday)
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving last week.

We drove to Maine, leaving early on Wednesday. We managed to thread the needle through the Big Dig tunnel, avoiding the bulk of the traffic, and getting through it only moments before a breakdown in the tunnel caused problems.

Our preferred hotel in Ogunquit was closed for the holiday, so we found another one, in Wells. It was fine. It had a kitchenette, which always helps, but the space was cramped, and the shower only had hot water for three minutes.

Hit my favorite thrift shop in York, and got some adorable decorations to add to the decoration family.

We got our favorite pizza from our favorite pizza joint in the area, Da Napoli. On the way back, I ran into a snow squall. From clear to whiteout in seconds. It was like someone poured a giant vat of sugar over the road.

Got some writing done, on a couple of different projects. Tried to watch TV, but it was dreadful. The news has a single sound byte and then a half a dozen commercials. There isn’t any actual reporting going on. The shows don’t even have scenes any more, just moments. But at least Comcast doesn’t run everything up in Maine.

Thursday was the coldest in years, although clear. 8 degrees, but it felt like in the minus numbers. We drove up to Gray. We always rent out the American Legion Hall. This year, we had 63 for dinner. I mashed, I believe it was, 108 pounds of white potatoes, and 40 pounds of sweet potatoes. Lots of people I hadn’t seen in years were there, and it was fun to catch up.

I felt bad for my mom. This year, she was the oldest one at the dinner (at 94). All her contemporaries have died. It was difficult for her.

We ate, we cleaned up (everyone helps with everything), we went back to the motel to recover. It was fun, but exhausting. For an introvert, that’s a lot of people.

Friday morning, we hit the road early. Stopped at Stonewall Kitchen in York to stock up on our favorite things, and then headed home. There was a lot of traffic, but it was moving. We made another stop at Market Basket when we came over the bridge, to stock up, and were home a little after noon.

The cats were glad to see us, but they’d coped just fine while we were gone.

Unpacked, and switched out the harvest fabric to the holiday fabric on various surfaces. I felt like I was coming down with something, and hoped I was wrong.

Saturday, I had a sore throat, but pushed ahead. We took 300 gallons of leaves to the dump, then raked up another 330 gallons. We got the tree in the stand, and the lights on it. I hate putting on the lights, but when we took them off last year, I took the time to pack them differently and mark them, and that made all the difference this year.

While raking, sorted out the scenes for the holiday story I want to include in the newsletter this year. It will be short — 3, maybe 4 scenes, inspired by the fireplace at the rest area on the border between New Hampshire and Maine on I-95.

Cleared off one of the bureaus, to set up the Santa collection, and wound up polishing the whole piece. It looks wonderful, so it was worth it. But the Santas didn’t look right there, so they’re back on the behemoth. For now, the carolers are on the bureau and the herd of deer are on the mantel, but it might all move around.

By Sunday, I was sick, sick, sick. Curled up and read all day. Made chicken soup from scratch. Read a wonderful book called THE STRINGS OF MURDER by Oscar de Muriel, set in Victorian Edinburgh.

Yesterday, I was too sick to work onsite with my client. I probably could have pushed through, but didn’t want to sneeze and cough all over my client and colleagues. Dropping off library books and picking stuff up at CVS was about all I could handle.

Today, I’ll be onsite with my client, prepping for her holiday sales. Busy weeks coming up, with the holidays, and all. I need to get the overseas cards written.

I am disgusted by the administration’s policy firing on asylum seekers and threatening to close the border — all while Russia is making a move in the Crimea. I am sick and tired of no one DOING anything about the corruption in this administration.

I need to get back to the page. BALTHAZAAR is going along well, and I need to make sure that stays on schedule. In the meantime, I need to tear apart DAVY JONES DHARMA and fix it, so that it stay on its new release date schedule.

And I have a review to write.

I watched a documentary about Canaletto, one of my favorite painters, and got an idea to write a play about his sisters. Not sure if that will be pitched to 365 Women or elsewhere. But I think that will be the play after the anti-gun violence play is done.

In the meantime, trying to really get well. I’m better, but still get tired quickly.

Onward, and back to the page.

Published in: on November 27, 2018 at 6:49 am  Comments Off on Tues. Nov. 27, 2018: Busy Season is Here  
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cold

I haven’t opened the computer or typed for days. It feels weird to be back. It felt good to be unplugged.

I hope everyone had a great holiday.

Wednesday, we were on the road before 6 AM. We kept hearing how it would be such a heavy travel day — but there was NO traffic all the way through CT, MA, NH, until we crossed into Maine. It was a nice, smooth ride.

I stopped in Portsmouth at Riverrun Books — what a nice store! I bought a biography of Emily Post I’d wanted for awhile, and the time period covers some of my current research. We made our usual slew of stops heading up in Maine in Kittery and York and Wells and even Windham. We had lunch in York, at the Stolen Menu Cafe, which has become one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. The food is outstanding, the service is friendly, and it’s reasonably priced. I really like the Yorks anyway — I could live there, should I choose to go to Maine. It’s a friendly, year-round, arts-oriented community and I really like it. I picked up a few things I needed, stocked up at Stonewall Kitchen, found some decorations I thought were cute, and found my writing bag!

It’s made by Sharper Image, and has compartments for computer, folders, books, everything. I have room for my travel yoga mat, my research materials, everything. It’s on wheels, so I can walk it rather than carrying it. It’s small enough to be a carry-on, but large enough to hold everything I need. It was on sale for about 1/5th of what I’ve seen it at regular retail. So I grabbed it.

Found a skirt — a long, black velvet one that drapes beautifully. Good for formal occasions. Still need some more casual types, but I have a feeling I’ll just sew them in the New Year.

Arrived at my great uncle’s around 3:30. Unloaded, heated up the food, got it dished out to various and sundry. My great uncle wasn’t feeling well, but he seemed to perk up while we were there. My cousin called a few hours later and invited me up to the blueberry farm up the street — I hadn’t been up there since he and his wife worked on the house. I went up and saw the house — it’s an 1850’s farmhouse that’s been lovingly renovated so it’s comfortable and modern, and yet respects the history and architecture of the house. They’ve done a fabulous job. We sat around drinking wine and peeling the onions for the dinner. I’m always just dashing up and back and taking care of the older relatives that I rarely get to hang out with my contemporaries and catch up. So, that was fun.

I’d been up since 4:30, so I was pretty tired. Went to bed early, woke up early, got breakfast sorted. Managed to get in a few hours of writing. We went to the hall around 12:30 and they handed me the potato masher (which, by the way, is 4 feet long because of the vats of potatoes to mash) the minute I walked in the door! We got everything finished and dished out and sat down by 1 — 52 people for dinner. My great uncle (who’s in his 90s) was feeling much better and had a good time. The food was great, as always, and so was the company. Most of these people I only get to see once a year, so it’s kind of a quick catch-up, but it’s good. We’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and everyone gets along, at least for the day! Any arguments are left outside, and everyone respects that rule.

And it’s definitely an example of “many hands make light work” — people pitch in and everything gets done. We all washed up, left the hall better than we found it.

By the time we got home, another branch of the family who doesn’t come to hall came by to visit — one of the cousins I hadn’t seen for about 15 years! We were really close when we were kids and teens. So that was a nice catch up.

Another pretty early night for me. I was too tired to even read.

Friday morning, we were up early and out of the house by seven. Although I rarely shop on Black Friday (and I’m not a mall shopper anyway), we drove up to Freeport, to the flagship LL Bean store. I needed a sleeping bag for various and sundry travels coming up in the next year and change, and they’ve got good ones. We had a quick breakfast in the cafe — really good, the coffee (Coffee by Design is the fair-trade company) was outstanding. We picked up a few additional things, got some ideas for when we have the house, and were back on the road in about an hour.

The drive back was not fun. The weather was dreadful — heavy rain. Of course, the forecast was for “light showers”. Right. And the temperature was dropping, so it was pretty clear it would soon be snow. We managed to outrun most of the storm, although it was still sprinkling by the time we hit Sturbridge.

Earth Spirit Herbals, one of my favorite stores, closed at the end of July, but supposedly a garden center down the street carried their oils and herbs. However, we couldn’t find the garden center, so maybe that’s not open anymore, either. We backtracked and had lunch at Admiral O’Brien’s, which is right next door to where Earth Spirits used to be. The food is great, and, again, the prices are good and service friendly. So, we had a good hot lunch and were back on the road.

We managed to get home by about 3:30, which was pretty good. It took a few trips to haul everything upstairs, and there were packages waiting for us, including my next assignment from Confidential Job #1.

Saturday, I was up early and writing. Hit Costco to stock up on things like butter and eggs, stocked up on some other stuff at various stores. Did the test runs of the cookies all afternoon. My mixer was useless and caused a major setback. And the recipes for rolled sugar cookies and butter cookies don’t hold together and the dough doesn’t work as well as the recipes I usually use, which are from the 60’s and 70’s, so, next year, I go back to them. I thought both the sugar cookies and the butter cookies tasted a little bland. And the dough was hard to work with.

I made a rolled cookie that I cut out into angel shapes — it’s a kind of a sugar cookie, but with eggnog. That turned out pretty well, and the eggnog icing should bump it up. I did a lime-flavored cookie that’s really good, but it doesn’t pack well, so I can’t use it for the cookie plates.

I made a lemon shortbread that’s really good, but my idea of cutting it into Lighthouse shapes and frosting it — again, I can’t make the volume I need, and it’s not very packable and stackable.

Frustrating day.

Sunday, up early, writing. Looked at Bed, Bath & Beyond for a new mixer. The prices were ridiculous, and if I can bend the paddles with my bare hands, it’s not going to work. I don’t have the money or the room for the standing Kitchen Aid Mixer, although that’s what I want. But I can’t justify spending over $300 for one. Headed to White Plains to Trader Joe’s for a few things, and then to the Chef Central where I found the decor sugar I needed AND a Kitchen Aid hand mixer that does everything the standing mixer does — for $40. Grabbed it.

Not only does it work beautifully (and it has dough hooks for the next time I make bread), but, because it works properly, it took me three hours less to make the same amount of cookies.

I made a rolled chocolate cookie. I wanted to cut them into moose shapes (“chocolate moose”), but the design of the cutter and again, the dough’s lack of ease in working made it impossible. Also, the moose cookies are so big that I couldn’t get the volume I need to make for the plates. I tried making reindeer, but they didn’t hold their shape while baking, so I tried a different cutter and ended up with chocolate BOOTS. They’re okay, but, again, I don’t think I can make the volume I need.

I need at least 100 of each cookie to have enough for the 30 or so platters I’m doing. So I need a cookie that’s sturdy and that I can do in volume.

I made the molasses spice cookie — it’s one of my favorite recipes ever. Fantastic, easy to work with, makes a lot. That’s a definite for the platter, along with the Toll House. I can make more sugar cookies if I need to – and I think I will.

I also made a cranberry “sandie” — one of those melt-in-your-mouth cookies. I love them, but again, not a lot of volume, and I don’t think it’s sturdy enough for the platter. I also made an almond-hazelnut crescent, grinding the nuts to an almost flour-like consistency. Unfortunately, the cookies disintegrate if you pick them up or even try to move them. They taste good, but, again, not something packable and stackable.

What I’m going to have to do with the almond crescents is make a trifle with them by doing a layer of sponge cake, a layer of chocolate mousse, and then a layer of the crumbled cookies, another set of layers, topped with some raspberries and whipped cream. It’ll be fine, but it still doesn’t make a cookie for the platter.

So, the center of the platter will have a small gingerbread cake. I’ll surround it with Toll House, sugar, and the molasses spice cookies. I’m on the fence about the eggnog cookies. If I roll them and cut them thicker than the recipe says, I think they’ll be packable and stackable. A peanut cookie might be good, but so many people are now allergic to peanuts that I worry.

I do a cheat sheet with a photo of each cookie and ingredients so if there’s anything someone can’t have, they can avoid it.

Also spent a good part of the weekend packing and stacking the stuff I need to move for the furniture swap. Thursday comes up quickly.

I haven’t started decorating for the holidays yet. It doesn’t make sense to do it and then have to move everything for the furniture swap. Once the furniture is swapped out and I can put stuff back and rearrange and get some breathing room, I’ll decorate.

Haven’t started the cards yet, either, and the overseas need to go out by the end of the week.

I’m still working on the Christmas story, but I’ve got enough done so it’s in design. I also have to start another story due at the end of the month for an anthology and the steampunk TODAY. Even though I’m behind, I have to keep stacking things up or I get even more behind.

I’m headed to Long Island later this morning to acupuncture. I definitely need it. The next two weeks are going to be insane, but that’s the way it is. Time Management. NONE of these balls can drop, so if it means longer hours and harder work, that’s the way it is. It’ll be fine, just a lot for the next two weeks, and it all has to get done. No excuses, no room for letting anything slide. Once the furniture swap is done on Thursday, it will be much better. Even though next week will be busy, there will be more physical room in the place, which will allow for more psychological room.

I’d love to just take a nap and wake up on Christmas Eve with everything done, but that’s just not going to happen! So I’m gearing up for a busy couple of weeks.

Devon

Thursday, December 25, 2008

christmas-2008-0241

Thursday, December 25, 2008
Waning Moon
Sunny and mild
Christmas Day

It is way too warm here for Christmas. Wow. Maybe the ice around the car will melt, though – again, yesterday, I practically needed my skates, although I managed to get in and out of the lot safely.

I had a certificate for DSW that expired yesterday, so I dashed over in the morning to check things out at the store – and ran into several other women I know from the area doing just the same thing! It was pretty funny! I came away with a beautiful pair of chocolate brown patent leather pumps by Bandalino. Even with the heel, they’re wonderfully comfortable – and this coming from someone who rarely wears shoes anymore! But I wore them for the festivities last night, will probably wear them today, and they go with the New Year’s outfit, so it’s all good.

I had a quiet, but busy Christmas Eve. We celebrate the main portion of the holiday on the Eve, so it was a flurry. The cats LOVE to help with the unwrapping of the gifts, running around with the ribbons and playing in the paper. It’s like having a trio of toddlers, but it’s so much fun. There might not have been quantity this year, but there was certainly quality – everything was carefully thought out and lovely. And a friend sent me something she made — a spiced tea mix – that’s one of the best things I’ve ever had. Love it, love it, love it – thanks, Michelle! We drank it out the Friendly Village china cups along with some of my homemade sugar cookies, and it was perfect.

The dinner turned out well – the pork roast was perfect, prepared with a mixture of Julia Child’s dry rub spice marinade and the roasted apple grilling sauce put out by Stonewall Kitchen. I’m a huge fan of Stonewall Kitchen products – their prices are reasonable (though not cheap) and their quality is superior. The red cabbage was great, the baked potatoes took forever to get soft enough – but got there eventually. And I’ve decided that one of my favorite side dishes is steamed green beans covered with hollandaise sauce. Yum! The plum pudding was perfect for dessert.

I sat down and read A Christmas Carol in a volume of Dickens I have that was published in 1885, handed down from my grandmother, handed down in her family, or given by a friend of the family or something – in any case, I have a set of Dickens published in 1885, and the Christmas Books, containing A Christmas Carol is one of them. I’d forgotten how funny some of Dickens writing in that piece is – it’s been so watered down in subsequent editions and productions what we see has very little bite to it. In addition to making some pretty pointed social commentary (a lot of which is relevant to the Bush administration), he’s also very funny.

I tired to read some of the other books in the “Christmas Books” section, but maybe I was just tired or something, because I found myself thinking, “there’s a reason we’ve never heard of them.”

Still, Dickens wrote a great deal, he wrote quickly for money, and his work was serialized – one can learn a lot from him.

I’m going to jump in the shower now and then make pancakes for breakfast. Then, I’ve got to stuff the turkey and get it into the oven – it’s an eighteen pounder! Today’s big meal is roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas, and, for dessert, a Yule log. No, I didn’t make it myself – I still don’t have the courage to attempt Buche de Noel!

Christmas Day is always quiet around here – mostly about talking to family and friends, eating a lot, and reading the books unwrapped the night before! And of course, the stockings. I’ll try to get some more work done on the revisions, and finish packing for tomorrow.

Have a lovely holiday. If you haven’t downloaded my free Christmas story, Holiday Wish List, featuring the popular Congress Corners characters, feel free to hop over to the Ava Dunne page and do so. It’s my gift to you, and will be available until Twelfth Night.

Have a lovely holiday.

Devon