Tues. April 9, 2019: Catching Up on the Adventures

Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Waxing Moon

I bet you want to hear about my adventures last week, don’t you?

Which I’ll get to in a minute.

There are all kinds of games to connect writers now on Twitter. Which is great and fun and interesting. But too many of them demand information from WIPs. That does not work for me. If I talk the book, it takes away from writing the book. It dilutes the creativity. Not to mention that actually posting something from a draft blows the ability to sell first rights (and, for the series under contract, they are specific NOT to post anything from a draft, just excerpts from edited, contracted work), and early draft material splattered on the internet is more likely to turn readers off than engage them. It harms the work. It harms the quality. And talking about switching places with the MC or putting them in a different situation — no. Just no. They are part of the construct of their world. Putting them in a different world doesn’t add anything to them or the book. It hurts everything.

So I skip those questions. Because people can post whatever they want on their own timelines.

But I will not put the work at risk. The work is central. The work is what’s important. I’ll talk process until the cows come home, but I only post excerpts and lines and information from the actual work when it’s ready to go out into the world. — once it’s under contract and has been edited.

Wednesday morning, we left early for Vermont. The stretch from the Cape to Worcester is always the worst, but once we got past that, it was nice driving. We drove out of a storm and into sunshine (once we were over the bridge onto the mainland, it was already better weather).

Turned north at Springfield and went into Vermont.

It took a lot longer than I expected it to take. Vermont is interesting, because, although there’s not much traffic, the roads are long and often windy, and you have to drive around things instead of straight shots between destinations.

The quality of light is very different, and the quality of air is very different.

We ended up in a small hotel in Quichee Gorge, which was fine. Drove around to get oriented. Everything seems quite far away from everything else. Weathered and funky rather than ostentatious.

Dinner meeting, took care of some other business. Watched some TV in the room at night, but really, I so prefer watching DVDs. The sound and image got out of sync on one particular station, and it was annoying.

Up early the next morning. Stuck to my morning yoga and meditation routine (I’d brought my travel mat). It was another sunny, lovely, beautiful day.

The hotel served a hot breakfast as part of the stay, which was great. Then I headed off for a day of meetings, some with potential new clients, some with those for whom I do some remote writing. There’s a lot of solar and wind energy, people are dedicated to recycling and doing better for the planet. Fox Disinformation doesn’t play in public areas. People are committed to doing good work while maintaining a high quality of life. I met with a lot of smart people who are good at what they do, which was nice.

It was interesting, busy, creative, but I was tired by the time I was done in the mid-afternoon.

We drove back as far as Sturbridge, and checked into my favorite Publick House. We were up in the Lodge, with all its toile, which always makes me laugh. The room was great, the food in Ebenezer’s Tavern was terrific, and it was a nice way to wind down after a busy couple of days.

Friday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel, then drove home. I ran around and did some grocery shopping, and then, exhausted, just worked on contest entries and thank you notes.

Saturday morning, I was up early trying to get things done, and then on the 9:45 bus to Boston. Another gorgeous, sunny day, and much warmer than I expected. It was a lovely ride.

Amazing how much the city coping skills come back instantly. The focus, the confidant stride, the “don’t mess with me” vibe. Even though I’d never ridden the T before (imagine, I’ve lived here for nine years, and it was the first time I took the T), I got my Charlie card, found the Red Line, and off I went.

Of course, it’s public transportation, and nothing is easy. So, at Harvard Square, we had to get off the T because of construction, and were taken by shuttle bus to the next stops.

It was nice to be above ground and get a sense of Harvard and Cambridge and all that.

The theatre was only a few blocks from the Davis Square stop, in Somerville. Somerville reminds me of Queens a bit, and I mean that as a compliment. Lots of great little restaurants and shops, busy, lively, upbeat. People of all ages and diverse — very different from down here on Cape.

Everyone was very nice. They were genuinely happy to see me, which was nice. Because so often, the writer is considered an obstruction to the production instead of an asset.

They did a wonderful, wonderful job with “Confidence Confidant.” Their commitment to the piece, their talent, their excitement, their creativity — it was all great.

I met the director, assistant director, producer, house manager/board member. It was an excellent experience. It was great to meet everyone, and meet some audience members who were excited about it. It was a good-sized house, which thrilled us all, and a very responsive audience. The laughs hit where I hoped they would. I want to tighten the scene in the garden for future productions, and beef up the role of Bill. That role was woefully underwritten, and I’m grateful that the actor made it work.

They suggested I submit “Horace House Hauntings” for their October show. I don’t think it exactly fits the guidelines, since it’s not adapted from legend or folklore, but, you never know. I’ll think about it.

The other play on the bill was also fun, having to do with airships and bank robberies and mistaken identities, adapted from a silent film.

All in all, a lovely afternoon.

Headed back to the shuttle bus, which took me back to the Red Line at Harvard Square, which took me back to South Station. The subways have far fewer seats here than the ones in NYC. People expect to stand.

I tell you, though, there’s even more walking involved in this transit system than in New York. I’d be back in shape within a month if I had to do it every day.

Caught the 5:15 bus, and was back home by 7. Some traffic coming out of Boston, but I just sat on the bus and read my book. The bus was nearly full from the airport when it hit South Station, and those on the bus were disgruntled that more passengers got on, and, heaven forbid, their luggage couldn’t have its own seat. Sorry, sweetie, it’s people before purses.

But P&B has made the bus as a quiet zone — yes, you can call to tell someone which bus you’re on and what time you’ll arrive, but no ongoing conversations during the ride. Makes it much better.

Tired, but happy tired. Still re-watching WEST WING. Worked on more contest entries. Heated up leftovers for dinner. Fell into bed, exhausted.

Had trouble getting up on Sunday, but got there. I should have gone out and done yard work. Instead, I worked on contest entries, planted the rest of my tomato seeds, wrote.

I finished the first draft of the radio play “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale.” I need to let it sit a few days, because it needs work. Started a draft of “Organizing the Dead” which is a darker paranormal comedy that I might also submit to PMRP. I want to take the idea that derailed the original draft of “Horace House Hauntings” and took it out of farce, and see if I can develop it here. We’ll see.

I’m getting back into the rhythm of GRAVE REACH, which is pretty exciting. I’m looking forward to diving further into this book. Lesley is growing into herself, and Sam is an intriguing character.

This week will be stressful, on a lot of fronts, so I’m trying to mentally prepare.

Worked with a client yesterday, which wore me out, although we did good work. Had another appointment, and then skipped meditation, because I wasn’t feeling well. With a client today, too, and then another location after. Trying to keep all the flaming coconuts in the air and still keep my sanity.

I should go out tonight, but, honestly, I don’t feel up to it.

Back to the page.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Autumn in Western Mass

Monday, October 24, 2011
Day before Dark Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and crisp

Playing catch-up on oh-so-many levels. Friday, I was sick and frustrated and just over it all. I left after lunch and hit Sturbridge around 3-ish. I checked in to the Publick House Inn — I had a deal to get a good rate. Unfortunately, I could only get one night, because the next day, they had a wedding and the entire place was booked. But one night was better than nothing, so I took it.

I wasn’t in the main, historic building. I was in the outbuildings, more like Catskill motel rooms than anything else. My room was fine, although have you ever seen so much toile in your life? And I’m not a fan of toile. Fortunately, I thought it was hilarious, and the tiny balcony was nice, too.

I settled in, ran some errands, had someone come up to fix the heat which wouldn’t turn on. I had dinner in the tavern, enjoying myself and eavesdropping shamelessly. I even jotted down some notes on a cocktail napkin to use in the presentation the next day. I had the roast duck in a cranberry glaze with sausage stuffing and sweet potatoes, paired with a wonderful Argentinean wine. Very good.

I worked on my presentation a bit, but went to bed early, because I felt like crap. Someone from the conference had called while I was on the road, but the message felt more like they were worried I’d make a scene, rather than trying to make things right.

Up at 5:30 the next morning, yoga, shower, ran through the presentation again, packed the car, checked out, had breakfast at the inn. A group of people were whining about the very good coffee — I walked out before I bitch-slapped the whole group silly. These people were idiots. They didn’t seen the coffee made in front of them; therefore, because it came out of an urn, they were going to bitch about it.

I’d woken up with a hacking cough and NO voice — was a little worried, but some slippery elm at least got me croaking again.

It took me a little less than an hour to drive to the conference. The color’s more advanced in Western Mass than there on the Cape. It was lovely. There were people to help me unload, which was great. I parked ‘round the back, close to where my actual presentation room was, which later made re-loading the car much easier.

Met Corrina Lawson, with whom I’ve been tweeting for months. She is SO wonderful. I mean, she’s always been wonderful on Twitter, but she’s even more fun in person. Terrific person. Unfortunately, we were presenting at the same time, so we couldn’t attend each other’s sessions!

Keynote speaker was great, again emphasizing the need to sit down and do the work. First session was good, but I had to excuse myself a couple of times when I felt a coughing fit come on. I didn’t want to be distracting, and it was less distracting to slip out of the room and cough up a lung in the ladies’ room than do it in session.

My own session was fun. I barely sat down — I was walking around, using the props. I hadn’t trusted them to supply me with the easel and the pad of paper, so I got my own pad of paper and pre-wrote bits I wanted to display. They did come through (I know, I was shocked, too), but I already had my stuff, so that’s what we used. They got their handouts, I made them WRITE in class. And what they wrote was good. They embraced the exercises and the energy of the presentation. And bore with my failing voice, which lasted for the session, and then got weaker and weaker. Sold some books, answered a lot of questions. Had help reloading the car.

I think people had a good time — most of the presentations were panels with Q&A. They were great, but mine was really different, which I think was a good contrast. This was more interactive and made them apply what we discussed in the moment, rather than them thinking about it and maybe using it “someday.”

Lunch was fun — buffet style, soups and salads (good quality), small tables, real linens and silverware. Very nice spread. We had lots of fun, lively discussion at the table.

I managed to connect with the student who’d brought me into the conference and we got some of the frustrations sorted. I still think they should have come up with a SOLUTION instead of just shrugging when they found out about the series of fuck-ups, but whatever. I HAVE a solution for next year, which I will send them, and I’m resentful because it’s not my job. It’s my job to provide what is asked and do a kick-ass presentation, not fix THEIR fuck-ups. But, as a B’way pal said, “We’re in production. That’s what we DO. Solve problems. People who aren’t in production can’t see that there’s more than one possibility. That’s why they’re NOT in production.” Well, putting on a conference is being in production, as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, I lasted through one more speaker, and then I knew I was fading fast, hacking up not just lungs but all kinds of additional organs, and just miserable. I excused myself, got in the car, and drove all the way back to the Cape.

I was in my own bed before 8 PM.

Granted, I caught myself going 90 mph. I was thinking, “Wow, people are really slow today” and then looked at the speedometer. Oops. I’m usually more careful than that.

I stayed pretty quiet, yesterday, although I observed an hilarious exchange between two guys, probably in their fifties, in the parking lot, when I went out to get the Sunday papers:

Guy 1: I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m the guy who runs past your house every morning.

Guy 2: Yeah, I’m standing there smoking a cigarette and you’re running. Don’t think I don’t get the irony.

Now that’s the seed of another short story!

Also, as I was resting in bed, got a couple of scenes flashing through my head. Scribbled them down and wound up with an outline. Will have to put it in the queue. Also ordered some books, including Corinna’s DINAH OF SENECA. Because that’s by a small publisher, too, and heaven forbid the conference’s “bookstore manager” bother to carry it for the conference. The bookstore manager who was “too sick” to attend. Riiiight. She’d have been a lot sicker if I’d gotten my hands on her, that’s for sure.

Struggled to get back into the harpy book this morning, but I finally got there.

They’re working on the roof again, I have to catch up with students, work on Confidential Job #1, and the tulip bulbs HAVE to go in today.

In the meantime, check out the essay on Nicole Peeler’s Jane True, and the one on Diana Bishop of A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Enjoy!

Devon

Today’s word count: 1,180
Total word count: 37,228

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Mask made in July pottery workshop

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and muggy

Yesterday was a lot of fun. We were out the door early and drove up to Chicopee, MA. I expected Chicopee to be some cute, rural little town. But Chicopee (which, according to the city’s history page, means “river of elms”) dates back to the 1600’s, is much more industrial than I expected (one of their mottos is “Industriae Variae”), including things like bronze and bicycles. Anyway, if you want to read an excellent article on the city’s history in the historian’s words, rather than me telling you ABOUT what this guy says oh, so well, the link is here.

We visited Herbarium, which is a lovely store, and I stocked up on some herbs, oils, and incenses. Very good quality, very nice staff, and I can place online orders in the future.

After that little jaunt, we went round and round to find the Mass Pike (because, like the East Vassalboro, ME story goes, “You can’t get there from here”). Well, you can, but you have to go in circles a few times, because the signs are only in one direction, so you have to go back the way you came, get off the road, cross over it, go back towards the place you’re leaving, and then you find the exit. We finally found the Pike and only headed a couple of exits east (all of 45 cents on the toll road) to Sturbridge.

Ever since Earth Spirits closed, I’ve been looking for the garden center that is supposed to carry a wonderful assortment of herbs and some oils. I think they closed two or three years ago, and I’ve been looking for the center ever since. They’ve got a website. I got the directions the night before the travel. We followed the directions.

Can’t find it.

When I follow the directions, there’s empty space. Fields. Not fields belonging to a garden center, just fields. It doesn’t make sense.

Sort of like when I looked for the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, and, to me, they remained lost.

Instead, we went to the stores at Old Sturbridge Village, which are lovely. The Redware pottery is particularly interesting. I didn’t buy much — some mustard and some fudge — but it’s a place to which I’ll go back, especially in the spring, to stock up on heirloom seeds. Their seeds are supposed to grow exceptionally well.

Then, it was off to the Publick House, where I hadn’t been for a few years. It’s a lovely place, and maybe one day, I’ll get to treat myself to staying there for a couple of nights. As it was, we had an outstanding lunch — terrific wine, I had one of the best chicken pot pies ever. I overate, though, and thought they’d have to winch me out of chair so I could waddle back to the car.

Then, we took Rt. 20 E to Rt. 56 to Rt. 12 to Oxford, MA. I had forgotten that Clara Barton, one of my childhood heroines, was born there. I wasn’t in the mood to visit the site, but passed the plaque (and didn’t stop to read it — note this day in history, I usually stop to read EVERY plaque).

We went to Generations, which is a beautiful, beautiful store with oh, so many things I could have spent money on. But I showed some restraint — more incense, more stones, and some oils. They had some gorgeous jewelry and some gorgeous pottery, which I will save for the next trip.

Back over to Sturbridge, hopped I-84, and headed back home, getting home a little before 5.

Nice day, in spite of the weather, and quiet night, much needed. Elsa is not doing well, but she is hanging in there, and I hope tomorrow’s treatment will help a lot.

The blowback from the filings against the landlord will start any minute (thankfully, I am not the only person filing, for once), and they will be ugly, so I’m trying to prepare, both mentally and physically.

Got a little bit of writing done, but not much, this morning. Will try to remedy that, and get back on track. Have to run some errands this morning, and, this afternoon, will help a neighbor with something.

Devon

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

Sunday, July 19, 2009

IMG_0304

Sunday, July 19, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Here is one of my ultimate “bad kitty” photos of Violet, Elsa, and Iris on the table, where they KNOW they are not allowed!

It was quite a trip, with a rocky start due to the telephone kerflamma and the City Council meeting the night before we left. We didn’t get to sleep until 1:30 in the morning, and had to be up at 5. So, Thursday was a long day.

Traffic was bad all the way up to Maine. I guess that’s a good thing — means people are out on vacation. But it made driving — when we were already tired — more difficult. And the weather was odd — showers off and on.

We stopped in Kittery to pick up a few things, I found a few things I can use for Prague, and then headed up to York, where I restocked supplies from Stonewall Kitchen. And we got a new jam — a Strawberry Apricot Brandy concoction that is fantastic!

We had lunch in York, at a wonderful local spot called The Stolen Menu Cafe. I hardly ever eat red meat anymore, but I was craving a burger, and boy, do they make terrific ones. I had it with bacon and sauteed mushrooms — no tomato, no lettuce, no ketchup, no mustard — just a perfectly prepared burger with bacon and mushrooms. Delightful. Their coffee’s great, too.

Meandered on up Rt. 1, past the usual haunts. I miss the bookstore in Wells where I always stopped — the guy retired a few years ago, and the large old barn is still empty. We made some of our usual stops along the way, and did a bit of shopping. There was a lot of traffic, so I guess people are out spending money, doing their bit to stimulate the economy.

And I collected a bunch of information that will result in at least a 300-piece mailing to prospects for Fearless Ink clients — there are a lot of people, businesses, and organizations in New Hampshire and Maine for which I’d love to write.

Arrived in the late afternoon, caught up on the news with my great uncle, fixed dinner for everyone, and we made it a Very Early Night. I had strange dreams — something to do with John Cusack, a warehouse full of artists (as in painter and sculptors), and health care. I don’t remember the details. It was weird, because I rarely dream about actors, and I don’t dream about actors with whom I haven’t worked. I wish I could remember the details. Then maybe it would make sense.

Up early on Friday, coffee and blueberry muffins for breakfast. Out to take care of some business still related to my grandmother’s death. It was strange to be up in Maine without her.

On a whim, ran into a store to see if they had a suitcase — none of my current luggage works for Prague. They had a Samsonite bag in a lovely color in the perfect size and on sale. It is now mine. I also picked up a gorgeous pair of dress slacks on sale and a pair of jeans. The slacks are comfortable enough to wear all day sightseeing in Prague, but nice enough so I don’t have to go back to the hotel to change if we go out that night.

Picked up a few things at the grocery store, got back to the house, bundled my great uncle and my mom into the car and we drove to a little town called Cornish, that’s close to the NH border. We had a lovely lunch at a restaurant called Bay Haven — fantastic lobster casserole. Really wonderful. After lunch, we visited some of the stores, including Rosemary’s Gift Shop, where the second floor is devoted to a yarn shop. She’s got one of the best selections of alpaca, llama/silk blends, and bamboo I’ve ever come across, and at wonderful prices. I took her card and will sit down and figure out what I need for which project, and then order from her.

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On the drive back, I stopped at some rapids just outside of Standish — it’s something created by the power company — really interesting. I took photographs — I’ll post them over the next few days. Great place to set something.

I’ve got a Jain Lazarus tie-in story and another Rose Olen (protag of DIXIE DUST) percolating.

My great uncle rested when we got back, but my mom and I took a walk — Little Sebago Lake is close by, but too far to walk (we discovered the hard way). I hadn’t realized how much land the family owns — it’s really wonderful.

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Lots of terrifically spooky woods, and then the massive blueberry fields and all the rest. The blueberries need to be harvested soon (calendar-wise), but there hasn’t been much sun, so they’re not ripening as fast as usual. Some sort of insect bit me — not a mosquito. Whatever it was took a chunk out of the skin on the top of my wrist, leaving a little hole. Ick. It’s a little irritated — I’m going to treat it today.

I’d been wondering why I got stuck so early in DEAD MAN’S STALL, which is set in Saratoga during the summer race meet. I think it’s because there’s a Rose Olen story that happens earlier, between DIXIE DUST and DEAD MAN – and is set in Maine. I’ll give her relatives in Maine, and she and Simon visit in the summer, before heading to Saratoga. It’s starting to come together, and now the outline for DEAD MAN is even making more sense. Amazing how that works. So I”m making notes on this, inventing a new lake, because I need stuff to happen that’s different from the lakes here, but will stretch geography to place it in the vicinity. And I think that Rose’s relatives will run a Morgan horse farm. Yes, still focus the mysteries on horses, but not race horses this time. It’s all percolating. I wanted this to be a tie-in, but I have a feeling it will wind up being a novel.

I found out there was a health care reform rally in Portland, but I found out too late to go. I don’t think John Cusack was there, so that disqualifies the dream from being precognitive. 😉 I was also invited to attend an art opening in Kennebunk for women artists, but found out too late — it takes about an hour to get there from here, and by the time I arrived, it would almost be over. Gosh darn it. I would have liked participating in both events. The Clam Festival started in Yarmouth today, but, since there’s an outbreak of Red Tide up here right now — I skipped it on purpose. No clams or mussels for me on this trip, I’m afraid! I’m sure the retailers are very careful . ..but so am I, especially when I don’t know the retailers personally.

I did eat way too much lobster. And I always feel like a hypocrite, because I won’t cook lobster — I cannot bring myself to put a living thing into a pot of boiling water. But I’ll eat it if someone else cooks it. So report me to PETA.

Speaking of PETA, I was so darned annoyed when they criticized President Obama for smacking a fly when the same day or maybe it was the previous day, a couple in Oklahoma skinned a puppy to make a belt. Why wasn’t PETA all over them? And where were they when the psycho teen in NY put her friend’s kitten in the oven “as a joke”? Yes, the kitten died. THAT chick’s on her way to serial killer-dom. THOSE are the types of incidents I’d respect PETA for protesting — not the President smacking a fly so that they can get attention. I’m disappointed in them.

I packed up my grandmother’s art books (she was an art teacher) and taking them back with me. I also brought back my grandfather’s college yearbooks from Amherst College in the 1920’s. They’re pretty amazing, and I can definitely use them for research.

Up early Saturday and on the road. It was raining — a shame, because Wells was supposed to have an all-day Pow-Wow. That was something else I wished I could attend. The farm stand we wanted to stop at was closed so early, but we went down to — I think it’s York Harbor — to have breakfast at Goldenrod. The staff is very nice. The food is basic and no frills — I’d have liked a bit more seasoning in the eggs. But it’s hearty and filling. We walked around the town a bit– an old-fashioned seaside town, really nice.

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We went into Whispering Sands Gift Shop because they have a lot of moose-oriented merchandise, and I’m a sucker for anything with a moose or an owl or an otter — and I bought a couple of cookie cutters. When I make the spice cookies for the Christmas packets this year, some of them will be moose-shaped!

We stopped in Kittery to exchange something bought on Thursday — the place was packed. Well, people are out there doing their bit to stimulate the economy, right? We’ve all got to do our part! 😉

Instead of hopping back on I-95, we stayed on Rt. 1, and went through New Hampshire on that. Rt. 1 isn’t exactly a back road, but it isn’t the highway, ether, so we got to see a stretch of road we usually only zip past. I wanted to stop at Drake’s Antiques in North Hampton — I’d seen quite a few large advertisements and it’s supposed to have a wonderful array of furniture, linens, and books. However, when we got there, although there were flags outside saying “Open” — all the doors were locked. So we got in the car and left.

It’s a shame, because that was their one shot to get me as a customer, and once I’m a customer, I tend to come back a lot. I’m looking for some specific pieces right now, too, so I was there to buy, not just browse. It was out of our way, we arrived within posted business hours, during high season and . . .nothing. Oh, well.

For some reason, I missed the turn back to I-95 over the MA border, and before we knew it, we were in Danvers. When we’re on the highway, that stretch seems to take FOR – EV-ER! Yet going Rt. 1, even at a lower speed limit, seemed to take hardly any time at all because we were looking at new sights.

Back on the highway, navigated Rt. 128 (ick), made a note that I need to get back to up Lexington and Concord at some point in the next few months for research, and onto the Mass Pike. It moved pretty well until about 10 miles from Sturbridge, where it was heavy, slow traffic, and for no good reason.

We hopped off at Sturbridge to visit Earth Spirits, one of my go-to spots for herbs and oils. And they’re CLOSING as of July 31. I am devastated! The herbs and oils are moving down the street as part of a garden center — next time I’m in the neighborhood, I’ll stop in and see how I like it. But they won’t have the books or the stones or the candles or the incense or the other stuff that I loved. They’re selling fixtures — there’s a gorgeous oval oak table that I wanted to buy, but how would I get it back to NY? It wouldn’t fit in the car, even without all the luggage. I stocked up on herbs, they’d sold through the oils I needed, so I’ll have to get them elsewhere, got a few stones, and a couple of books, including another book on oils and blends that has some recipes I want to try. And a book on holistic pet care.

The rest of the drive back was uneventful. We got home in the late afternoon, unpacked. The cats were delighted we were back. Elsa seems fully recovered. Unpacked, played with the cats, had a quiet evening.

I was supposed to go to a holistic pet care workshop this morning, but it was cancelled. I’m going to use today to rejuvenate, maybe catch up on some correspondence, and pack some more stuff to go to storage. I want to get the bulk of that done so that I can do the furniture swap sometime next week. I’m also very tired, for whatever reason, so I bet I’ll take a nap. I was vigilant about my morning yoga practice, but I missed my evening workouts all last week, and I can feel the negative effects. I’ll have to fix that this week.

Have a great Sunday, all!

Devon