Tues. Feb. 15, 2022: Murky Obstacles

image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

First Day of Full Moon

Cold and clear

Tiring weekend.

Friday, it was mild and bright. I got some work done early, and then packed up the rolly cart and headed to the grocery store. There were lots of empty shelves, again, mostly national brands. Also, because both the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day fell this weekend, a lot of people were looking at it as a long holiday weekend and stocked up.

The sidewalks were messy, but mostly slush, not ice. However, with the snow banked on either side of them, and the middle melting, there as no place for the water to drain, so a lot of it was walking through ankle-high slush. When the next storm comes in, it will freeze over and be ice rinks again. Because the Cape was so sandy, the ground absorbed the water until it couldn’t (by about March), and then it got all squishy. Here, there’s no place for the water to drain, and the ground isn’t sandy, it’s loamy and hits capacity quickly, so the ice layers.

It was not easy to hump the cart full of groceries back, although it would have been impossible without the cart.

Got everything put away, rested up a bit, and then headed back out to the liquor store to re-stock. It was busy, because people were prepping for football and Valentine hopes.

Decided to give myself the afternoon off. It went up into the 50s. You can always tell we’re in New England, because the minute the temperature goes above 35, the guys go back to shorts and hiking boots. The front porch was sunny and pleasant. I cut back dead growth on some of the plants. I’ll detail that more in Gratitude and Growth on Thursday.

Charlotte was delighted to be back out on the porch.

Read for a bit. Over the weekend, I re-read the two books released so far in Kit Rocha’s The Mercenary Librarians series. Looking forward to the third. I rarely read dystopia (I mean, we’re living in it), so it’s unusual that I would like this series. But I do.

Some family conflicts exhausted the hell out of me Friday night, not to mention depressed me.

Saturday morning, it was raining, so I decided not to go to the library. Instead, I got the script coverages done. And then was requested for another coverage, so I didn’t have to worry about taking on a script whose logline didn’t particularly excite me, just to make my nut for the pay period. And I finished reading the book for review.

Went to bed very early Saturday, and slept 11 hours. Even the cats couldn’t get me up.

Sunday was a good writing day – 3K on one project, a little over 1600 words on The Big Project. I planted the first seeds. I baked a chocolate cake with chocolate chips and raspberry liqueur. Made pork chops for dinner in a mushroom-thyme gravy, with red cabbage and leftover mashed potatoes. Planted seeds.

I used to give a Super Bowl party most years; it was the only game of the year I watched, because football just isn’t my thing. But I stopped doing that when we moved to the Cape. Most of the time now, I don’t even watch the game, just try to catch the half-time show and some of the commercials. Or focus on the Puppy Bowl. This year, it was more fun just to watch different reactions to whatever on Twitter. I saw clips of the half-time show, and it looks like it went well. Still, for me, nothing has yet beaten the grace, style, and professionalism of Prince’s half-time show.

All the photos I saw from the game show 70K people in close quarters unmasked. So we’ll have mini-surges of the virus all over the country in the next two weeks. Why would I applaud such reckless, thoughtless behavior? Not doing it. Even if being vaccinated was a requirement for entry, we are not at a point where being that packed in together is rational.

I usually love the Winter Olympics, but didn’t watch them this year, either. I think they should have been canceled, due to the pandemic.

I’m not going to rant about either of those things on social media. Why bother? But I’m going to place my time where I feel it earns it, and neither of those two events did this go-round.

The cats woke me around 5, a reasonable hour, so I got up and started the day. Was at my desk by 7, which helped. It was snowing. Hopefully, this is the last storm of the winter. The cats are shedding like crazy and running around for no reason at all hours, so spring is coming.

Wrote another section on The Big Project. It will need some tweaking, but you can’t tweak what’s not on the page.

Tried to head for the library, but it was snowing and intensified, so after a couple of blocks, I turned back.

Slogged through a bunch of email. Got out an LOI to something that sounded kind of interesting, but we’ll see. Another job description landed in my inbox calling for an experience science writer and scriptwriter willing to both write and do research – at $8 an hour. Nope. So insulting on so many levels.

Downloaded the first set of digital contest entries, cross-checked the list. Caught up on entering scores for what I’ve been reading. Caught up with the Monthology posts, so I don’t fall behind. How other people are crafting their monsters, and the mapmaking that’s going in will affect how I develop my piece. Plus, it’s a wonderful community.

Started reading the script for which I was requested. I will finish it and turn in the coverage tomorrow.

The problem with a big client is not going to go away, unfortunately, so I have to look at alternatives. A possible other big client is on the horizon, but if the pay is too low, that’s not going to be possible, especially for the amount of work involved. I don’t want to take on something that will break me, physically or psychologically. At the same time, I need to expand the clients with which I’m working, and ease away from this big client, because the longer I work for them, the more red flags are popping up. They were a life saver around the move, in a very real sense, but in the long run, they are just not working out. I am very displeased by an email from them that landed in my box this morning.

Wrote up the book for review; got two more assigned. One I will download; the other is in print, and being sent.

Tried reading an eBook I’d bought a few weeks back, that looked interesting, but I’m frustrated with it. I’m getting a little tired of all these authors jumping on the magic bandwagon for the cash, not doing any research on how magic works, not being creative enough to design their own system, and just echoing right wing crap, pretending that their protagonist is, actually, magical.

Switched back to contest entries instead.

Spent longer than I planned cleaning up my Twitter account, on the “Following” side of the equation. Dumped about 400 accounts that I’ve followed at one point or another. A lot of them started as mutual follows, especially among other writers, who then unfollowed when I wasn’t an ATM for their books, or because my posts go beyond writing. Some were politically-oriented mutual followers, who don’t feel I’m political enough, and unfollowed. People get to follow or not follow whomever they please, for whatever reasons they please, so I cleaned up that side of the equation to suit what I want/need right now, and will work on the other side of the equation later on.

I’m feeling rather discouraged about everything right nw. But it’s sunny, and I have to head for the library today. I have 8 books to return and 13 to retrieve. All on foot. Sigh.

I’d rather just go back to bed.

Weird dreams last night, about being in an apartment on Central Park West in NYC, and a small, yappy, brown and white puppy escaped from its apartment and I was trying to catch it.

Tues. Feb, 4, 2020: Adjustments

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Waxing Moon

Hop on over toA Biblio Paradise for a post about my ultimate fantasy library.

Busy weekend. Friday was a lot of errands, then working on revisions and contest entries. Sent out a pitch and samples for a regular gig which would be fun, and the money would help achieve a few things over the next few months, as I get some other financial pieces in play.

Charlotte had a massive anxiety attack on Friday afternoon, and it took her a few hours to settle down. Which meant I had a few hours where she needed my full attention, instead of being able to work.

Saturday should have had more writing in it than it did. I was a little later than I wanted starting the bread, and it took longer on its rises, but it turned out well.

Friday night, I received an email from someone wanting to set up a meeting about a project with which I’d really like to work. We managed to reach each other on Saturday, and set something up for late this afternoon.

I made another recipe from the cookbook where I made the poorly written chocolate cherry bread a few weeks back. I wanted to give this book one more chance.

It failed.

I noticed something was wrong in the way the recipe was written right off the bat, and rescued it. But, had I prepared the recipe exactly as written, I would have prepared some of the ingredients in the food processor, and they would have sat in the food processor for eternity. There was never an instruction when to add them in.

I figure it out, through a combination of experience and common sense, but again — a badly-written recipe.

Where the hell was the editor on this book? Why weren’t any of the recipes tested?

I’m going to give it away. The recipes aren’t good.

The recipe itself was bland. I’m going to dress up the leftovers with some paprika.

It makes me really angry. Here, the author got away with it because there’s a huge following on her novels — but her recipes are badly written, and don’t taste good. The first red flag was when she talked about God in the introduction. Honey, God expects us to handle our own cooking.

I should have test-driven the cookbook. I’d read through a copy from the library, but I hadn’t actually done any recipes before I bought it. That’s on me.

The other recipe was a cake, which I put mixed and put in while the bread was in the oven. It was a very basic yellow cake recipe from my mother’s old LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL cookbook, which is good for basics. I added in a little almond extract. I made two layers, as instructed, and filled them with strawberry jam, and then did a chocolate satin icing, decorated with almonds.

The strawberry jam was a bit too much, especially since the batter didn’t need to be in two pans/two layers. Next time I do this recipe, I will just do it as a single layer with the icing. The icing is superb. The icing recipe is from the NEW BASICS COOKBOOK, which is one of my favorites.

Worked on the short story, worked on contest entries.

Finished watching Season 2 of THE BEST BRITISH BAKING SHOW. Ruby was an annoying little whiner, wasn’t she? I wish the judges would TEACH techniques, instead of smirking and leaving technique out of the recipes in the technical challenges. Also, I wanted to slap them every time they said something was under-baked — then don’t give them only two hours! And expect it cooled and perfectly decorated! The parameters are unrealistic for home bakers.

Makes me want to write a treatment for my own food show — not with me in it, but run along parameters that make it a tool for teaching, historical and societal context of food, etc. A gourmand, a home cook, a food historian, and five students who progress through the series, learning techniques and then creating their own recipes.

Managed to get four loads of laundry done on Saturday, too.

February’sGoddess Provisions box arrived, and it was wonderful! I’m so delighted with it. Also got my wall calendar — the one I usually get was sold out, so I got a different one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the astrological notations I need. Fortunately, I have it in my usual datebook.

Up early Sunday. Made honey-pecan-chocolate chip muffins, which were delicious. I liked substituting honey for sugar, and using a little baking powder. The sugar converter was a big help.

Worked on contest entries, worked on revisions, worked on the short story, worked on blog posts to get ahead for the month of February on the specialty blogs.

Imbolc ceremony was lovely. Lots of change predictors coming. I just have to choose the right change.

Didn’t really care about the Super Bowl. Sort of kept an eye o the score, but that was it. And, of course, the Narcissistic Sociopath didn’t even know from which state the winners come. He celebrates ignorance, cruelty, stupidity, and greed, which is why his base loves him so much.

Got an idea for an intriguing group of characters, but don’t know what to do with them. Made some notes, but it has to percolate.

Yesterday, I had a decent first writing session, spent a few hours with my client, then had other appointments, which meant I had to miss meditation. Hit my head in the morning, which upset my day, because I was dealing with that aftermath.

Work on revisions and contest entries in the evening.

This morning, out early for some errands, then with a client most of the day, then this afternoon is the first conversation of the Very Important Meeting. Fingers crossed that it goes well.

And, always, back to the page.

Mon. Feb. 6: I Still Prefer the Puppy Bowl

Monday, February 6, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Still dark out

Quick check-in, because I’m on my way to get my car serviced this morning. Busy, busy, busy weekend. I never made it to the yoga open house — I got caught up in work and went flat out all day. Friday was a busy day, too. Didn’t sleep well either Friday or last night, so I’m kind of dragging.

I stayed true to not getting online yesterday. I need to do that, at least one day a week. I re-read THE AGE OF INNOCENTS, which I needed to do in connection with the current project for Confidential Job #1. Liked it better this time — with twenty years’ more life experience through which to view it!

Once I get back from the mechanic, I hit the ground running — students have deadlines — more than half of the 5 in 10 are late with their last story — not only did they have a whole week to do it, it was their ONLY assignment all week — so tired of the lack of commitment bullshit. There’s no such thing as “no time to write.” There’s only “choose NOT to write.” And, if you choose not to write, you’re not a writer, because writers write. Period. No excuses, sometimes whining.

I’ve got to get the write-up out to Confidential Job #1, spend time with students, do some more work on a client project, get out some interview questions, get out some pitches, and get some of my own writing done. I’m taking some of it with me to the mechanic, and hope I can get some work done in the waiting room, , but it’s small and usually crowded, so I don’t know how useful that will be.

I was disappointed that the Patriots lost to the Giants. It’s not that big deal to me, since I’m not invested in football, particularly, but it was the home team, and it is one of the few games I watch all year. It was more important to me that the Patriots crushed Colorado a few weeks back, proving that skill triumphs over gimmick.

I was pleased that Madonna went there for her finale in the half-time show, although I bet a lot of people didn’t get it. A little disappointed that she slowed down the tempo on some of the pieces, such as “Vogue”, but hey, I couldn’t do what she does, so what the hell do I know?

Watched a bit of the Puppy Bowl, but, for the most part, had a quiet night. Tessa was fascinated by the Puppy Bowl and by the football game. I wonder if she’ll take the watching hockey, the way Violet does?

Repotted a bunch of stuff that needed attention. If it’s nice enough this week, maybe I can spend some time cleaning up the yard. Might as well make use of the mild winter.

Off to get the car serviced.


Fri. Feb. 3: Gearing Up for SuperBowl Weekend

Friday, February 3, 2012
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snowy and cold

We had a just a dusting of snow last night, enough to make it look pretty!

Yoga was great yesterday.. Came back and spent the whole rest of the day finishing the big client project. Technically, it’s not due until Monday, but I knew I had two more big projects coming in yesterday, AND I was in the flow for the project, so I wanted to keep that deep focus on it. Also, this way, the client can let it sit for a few days and enjoy the Super Bowl before sitting down with his next step.

Managed to head over to the Mashpee Library yesterday to pick up a few things.

Today, my students in the short story workshop have their 5K story due — I hope some of them get it up sooner rather than later, so that I don’t get 32 stories at 5K for a total of 150+K to read all at once. I also have to take my mom for some medical tests, maybe pop over to the Sandwich Library on the way back.

I found a couple of interesting jobs on Media Bistro yesterday, updated my CV and my resume, and will shoot over the proposals today.

Bookmom, you’re absolutely right. I was ten when my dad died, so going through his datebooks and papers as an adult with this viewpoint, is quite an experience. The researcher in me is chomping at the bit, and the fact he was my dad brings up the emotions.

Tomorrow, there’s an open house at a yoga studio in Sandwich, and I may go check it out. I love where I’m studying now and have no intention of leaving, but, so far, only one class per week fits into my schedule. So I’ll see what it’s all about. It’ll be fun, and give me a chance to meet new people.

Hopefully, I’ll get a good chunk of writing done this weekend, too. And, of course, it’s Super Bowl Sunday, and the Patriots are in it. My current home team playing my previous home’s team (that I wasn’t a fan of anyway). I’m hoping I’ll get to meditation group that afternoon and make it home before kick-off!

Have a great weekend, all!


Published in: on February 3, 2012 at 8:12 am  Comments (2)  
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Quiet day yesterday, which was a good contrast to the previous couple of days. First of all, I’m very disturbed — two deaths in the building in six months, two suicides (one overlapping with one of the deaths in the building) in two weeks in the neighborhood; something is not right. There are a lot of unconnected dots right now, but a general feeling of dis-ease.

As far as the harassing phone calls, it was quiet on that front yesterday, and, to give Verizon credit, they contacted me with a method to block the calls. However, I have to put the block into play online, and Verizon won’t let me access my account. So that’s useless. But, hopefully, the FCC will also do some ass-kicking, especially since the point of origin has a history of offshore scams.

Decent writing day yesterday and good reading day. I watched part of the Puppy Bowl and only the final two minutes of the Super Bowl. Glad New Orleans won, although I wasn’t particularly invested in this game. Lost a lot of respect for everyone involved when they just stopped playing in the final 44 seconds. Yes, it was obvious that New Orleans was going to win. However, play is supposed to continue until the bitter end. But then, we’re not talking the caliber that is a hockey player, who doesn’t give up until the final buzzer, now, are we? Yet another reason I greatly prefer hockey.

Excellent first writing session this morning,about 1700 words on REDEMPTION KILL. Most of today will hopefully focus on writing, switching between several projects. I don’t think I have to go out into the cold. This week, I want to take a look at the exercises for the workshop I’m teaching at the end of the month and polish them a bit. It’s been a couple of months since I wrote them; it’s a good time to look at it with fresh eyes and tweak whatever needs to be tweaked before the conference.

Back to the page. It’ll be a busy week, but hopefully a productive one and with less tumult than last week.


Published in: on February 8, 2010 at 9:05 am  Comments (4)  
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February 2, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I am so insulted and enraged that the Republican senators call funding for the arts “pork”. It is a direct slap in the face not only to me, but to all artists, writers, painters, sculptors, photographers, dancers, musicians, fiber artists, potters, those who teach the arts (many of whom are working artists) and everyone who works hard to create a better world. We are not self-indulgent celebrities. We work our butts off, usually seven days a week, on weekends, on holidays, to make people experience the world differently and create positive change. Of course, anything that smacks of education or stimulating independent thought is discouraged by the Republican Party. There are plenty of individual Republicans with good ideas who actually have values – unfortunately, none of them are currently in leadership positions.

Some of the best photography, writing, plays, and paintings were created during the WPA days. Look in your local libraries or on the internet if you don’t believe me. It was astonishing. One of the most important historical contributions was sending writers out to talk to people, especially the elderly, about their daily lives growing up – part of which makes it possible for many of us (no matter how we vote) to write historical fiction,. not to mention a way for school children to learn their own country’s history.

It’s appalling to me that the Republicans wholeheartedly voted to let Hank Paulson stand on street corners handing out billions of our dollars to his buddies, 18 BILLION of which went into paying executive bonuses, 10 MILLION of which Bank of America used for its Super Bowl Party last night, NONE of which came back into the economy to stimulate it. And yet artists are considered “pork”.

Oh, yeah, I know that Democrats voted for TARP, too, and believe me, I have made my displeasure known to those who represent me! I don’t care what party they belong to – if I pay their salaries, they are going to know what I think! And if I think what they’ve done is stupid and irresponsible, I let them know!

I’m going to use a Broadway show as an example. Broadway shows are not eligible for funding, although some shows that move to Broadway are developed in the wonderful regional theatres throughout the country. (I am someone who firmly believes there’s good theatre EVERYWHERE, if you give it a chance). It takes 150 people to run a show on an eight-show/week basis, between cast, crew, front of house, etc. That’s 150 jobs. Those paychecks are spent on food, clothing, cars, mortgage payments, sometimes even vacations, gifts for family and friends’ birthdays, etc. In addition, the people working in theatres have to eat and spend some of their paychecks in restaurants, delis, coffee shops, bakeries, etc. in the neighborhoods in which they work. Plus, it’s often easier to do errands on one’s way in to work or between shows — so retail benefits. Add to that the money spent by people coming to see the shows on restaurants, parking, mass transit, souvenirs, nearby stores that have nothing to do with the show — and the whole neighborhood benefits. A single Broadway show affects positively between 750-1000 jobs on any given day.

Many shows are now developed by regional theatres, who are eligible for financing. They might not need 150 people to run a show, but most of the regionals in which I’ve worked had a seasonal staff of between 20-60. That’s 20-60 full time jobs in a small town. Again, these paychecks go back into the economy in groceries, restaurants, retail, cars, gas, mortgage, etc. And the people who come to see the shows (paying significantly less than they would on Broadway) have the same purchase needs in and around the show for food, drink, parking, etc. So every regional theatre probably positively affects between 60-250 jobs on a daily basis.

This is not pork.

Devon’s Random Newsletter went out yesterday. If you didn’t get your copy, please let me know. If you haven’t yet signed up and would like to, you can do so here.

If you haven’t had a chance to wrap up January and list your goals for February, you can do so here.

My online presence will be hit and miss in February. I’ll try to blog as regularly as I can, but if I miss a day here and there, don’t fret. I’m teaching at the Catholic Writers Conference Online this week, and I’m juggling a multitude of site jobs throughout the month. I’m supposed to have internet access during that time, but one never really knows what’s going on until one arrives.

February requires focus and extraordinary time management.

I’ve got two plays on deadline and a third restless in the wings; I have to get back to the Big Project and keep pace on the Billy Root story. And take on some immediate turn around jobs to pay the bills. It will be an adventure.

So, on my “day off”, I updated the Devon Ellington website, the Hex Breaker website, and the Cerridwen’s Cottage website. I started building the Jenny Storm page. I took photos for both the Jenny Storm icon and the Ava Dunne icon (the Ava Dunne name will reactivate this year). I think I got some decent shots for the Jenny one, but I’m not happy with anything for the Ava one. I also followed up on a patch I made a few months ago.

I finished TWICE OVER LIGHTLY. The chapters on Christmas in New York, The UN, the Bronx Zoo, and the Public Theatre were actually quite good. Their tone was far more 30’s and 40’s style than early 1970’s, and many of their anecdotes go back to those days. This book will remain a good reference book for the time – even in its negative aspects.

I started reading Anita Loos’s autobiography KISS HOLLYWOOD GOODBYE about her time as a scenario writer and script writer in Hollywood in the 1930’s. This is great background for when I go back to fix THE FIX IT GIRL.

I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl. I think I enjoyed watching it more because I had no emotional connection to either team and could just watch the game. Plus, I always prefer it when it’s a close game.

I thought most of the commercials sucked, though. The Clydesdale emigrating to the US from Scotland had its moments, but come on, that was NOT a Scottish accent. Maybe a fake Irish one, but NOT Scottish. They could spend the millions on the spot but not spend a hundred dollars on a dialect coach? GE had some clever stuff, but most of them were just boring. Definitely nothing as creative as “Herding Cats”!.

Speaking of which, the Puppy Bowl and Kitty Half-Time was pretty funny. They don’t seem to get that the kittens they use are so small that they overwhelm them with the moving lights and confetti and all the moving bits and scare them rather than encourage them to play.

I have to attack my To-Do List for February today. It’s not going to accomplish itself.