Thurs. Jan. 20, 2022: Ideas Percolating

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Waning Moon

Venus and Uranus Retrograde

Snowy and cold

There’s a post over on Gratitude and Growth about winter.

Yesterday was kind of a lost day. I frittered too much of it away. I did manage to get to the library in the late morning, after doing some work. Church Street was an icy nightmare. Residents are clearing their paths to the sidewalks, but not the sidewalks. I don’t know what the city ordinances are here, but on Cape, you’re supposed to clear both your path and any sidewalk in front of your property from property line to line AND KEEP IT CLEAR, not to mention keeping it salted or sanded.

Here, even if there was a half-hearted attempt to sort of shovel, it’s allowed to ice over and be even more treacherous.

So, yeah, not walking to the grocery store today. Ended up walking in the street to the library. There were more books than I expected, so I was loaded down. Walked back on Ashland, which was better, but still treacherous in spots.

But I made it without falling, and stopped at Cumberland Farm at the end of the street to pick up milk and cream, because I have a mousse and some truffles to make.

Got only one script coverage written up in the afternoon. I’m still fine, deadline-wise, just not where I wanted to be on my own schedule. But it means a heavy coverage day today, with four to write up, and three more scripts t read. I did read two scripts, after an online event I attended, so it was pretty darn late by the time I got to bed.

Manchin and Sinema tanked voting rights. No surprise there. They were the special interest Trojan Horse injected into the Dem party, and the Dems have pandered and capitulated to them for a year, even though they never had any intention of delivering, instead of bitch slapping them the first time they pulled their crap. Now, it’s time to dismantle their careers, and make life hell for anyone who hires them, once they are out of Congress. Start by stripping them of committee assignments. They refuse to represent their constituents, so don’t give them any say for their right-wing donors, either. Don’t include them in any meetings. Move them to smaller offices and strip them down to a single admin support person. Retract the cushy appointment given to Manchin’s wife. Go after Manchin’s daughter for price gouging EpiPens, and also for the deaths she’s caused by that, in both criminal and civil court. Start making life hard for any of their big money donors. Cut off any Dem party money, and find strong candidates to primary them. Make sure they are done.

You can’t play nice with people who are trying to kill you, and the Dems refuse to see that the Republicans are willing to kill anyone who stands in their way, including their own.

All this talk of “outvoting” them means nothing if the right to vote isn’t there.

Attended a virtual group author reading, sponsored by a group/library a couple of hours away. There were a wide variety of readers, which was interesting, with an emphasis on poetry and memoir. There as one poet who truly sparkled, and I will be sure to find his books and buy them. There was another poet who was disrespectful and arrogant to her colleagues, and then ran over her time and ignored the moderator who tried to remind her of the parameters. The moderator should have just muted her and moved on. On top of all of that, her work is mediocre. It’s always the midrange talents who have the most arrogance, isn’t it? I noted the name of this particular author. I will not attend any event in which she participates in the future, nor will I buy her books (or even get them out of the library). Was hopeful for the reading by a new-to-me mystery writer, with her 5th book out, who read the first chapter of it – which was info dump on the first four books and nothing to hook one into this story or characters, or move this story along. So I think I’ll skip that series.

An online pal wants to put together an anthology about a city of monsters. She posted a list of what she wants, and I pitched for the one I’d like to write as my central character. If I get to participate, I think it will be fun. I love shared world anthologies.

Tessa woke me up around 6 this morning, howling as though her little kitty heart was breaking. Once I was up, she was all purry and affectionate. I think I have to start sleeping in the living room once a week again.

Started working on the short piece for a friend’s anthology call. The genre is a stretch for me, but the idea started percolating, and I’ve written fragments and notes. Right now, it’s more like a monologue than a short story, so I will have to see if I can make it work in the short story format required for the anthology. Again, it would be a ton of fun to be a part of this, with this particular editor, and the wonderful group of writers she gathers.

The Medium Project is percolating, humming in the back of my brain as I work on other things.

Meditation this morning, and then I hit the page. I’ll work on the short story first, maybe do some work on The Big Project. But the bulk of the day will be dedicated to script coverage. I want to finish reading the week’s assignments tonight and writing them up tomorrow so that I have a real weekend.

Have a good one.

Fri. Jan. 14, 2022: Incoming Storms

image courtesy of SeagullaNady via pixabay.com

Friday, January 14, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus, Venus, Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

We have two big storms barreling toward us. One will start later today, bringing the temperatures down to -35F by tomorrow. We get walloped again Sunday night into all day on Monday.

Meditation was great yesterday. Then, after breakfast, I layered up, got the rolly cart and some bags, and headed to Big Y. I bought more than I planned (yeah, I’m sure you’re SO surprised). Shelves were empty of big-name brands, and they were out of ground turkey, but local brands and produce were in plentiful supply.

Hauling it back through the snowy, icy streets was not fun, and I was wiped out by the time I got it home and up the stairs and put away. A hot shower partially revived me, as did some time on the acupressure mat. But then, the 66 pounds of cat litter showed up, and I had to unpack the boxes in the bottom foyer and haul them all upstairs.

I’m not in my twenties or thirties anymore, and it’s getting harder.

But, cat food, litter, and treat-wise, we have about 11 weeks’ worth of supplies. Human-food wise, we could make it for about 6 weeks, although running out of milk, oat milk, eggs, and butter. I’m still going to go to the store when I can for perishables, but we are okay.

Today, I restock some liquor.

SCOTUS betrayed us all again by not upholding the national vaccine mandate for big businesses. No surprise there. Sinema proved her loyalty to her handlers rather than her constituents, and voting rights is dead, so it doesn’t matter how hard we organize. Sinema and Manchin need to be destroyed. Completely and utterly destroyed. They were sent in as a Trojan horse, pretending to be Democrats, but working on a GOP agenda, funded by GOP money. While the more openly, obviously crazies are out there pulling focus, they destroy things from the inside.

And therefore must be destroyed. Take them off all committee assignments, no more financing, primary them. GET RID OF THEM. Anyone who hires them? Boycott, picket, destroy the company. They must be completely nullified.

Remove Manchin’s wife from her cushy appointed gig. Charge the daughter with negligent homicide for raising the prices on EpiPens. Stop faffing around and remove these cancers.

WHILE taking down the insurrectionists.

On top of that, the amount of people who should know better tweeting photos about their reckless behavior going to in-person conferences, indoor dining, parties, gatherings, etc., completely disgusts me. I’ve lost respect for a lot of people in the past couple of weeks.

On the positive side, I got a lovely note from someone for whom I’d done a script coverage, on how much it helped focus and polish the script. I’m so glad. This particular writer is extremely talented, and I hope will get representation/optioned quickly. Those stories need to be filmed.

With Mercury retrograde for the next three weeks, virus numbers off the charts, bad weather, and all the rest, I’m thinking about approaching the time a little differently than usual. Not sure how I can pull it off yet, but I’m going to try. I’m worried that if I talk about it too much/too early, I won’t be able to implement it, so my apologies for being vague. I hate it when people are Online Vague. But we’ll see. I’m going to try something for the next few days, a little different, and see if I can keep it going for the length of the retrogrades. Talking about it may interfere with the doing, so I’m going to try the doing, and talk about it after.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are doing well. Some of them will not go back to regular schooling, because they’re learning much more in this environment. A couple of them are now talking about taking what the Brits call a “gap year” between high school and college to travel (should the virus ever settle down enough to allow it), and almost all of them want to do at least one semester abroad (something I deeply regret not doing).

I would like to start learning Italian, because I want to travel to Italy next year or so (provided it’s safe so to do), and because, in my research, I’d like to be able to read some of the material in its original language, not in translation. I’ve looked into courses, but, honestly, I don’t have the intellectual or emotional energy to commit and really learn right now. I’m hoping by midyear, I’ll be in a better position to start.

Read two scripts last night, which I will write up today. I’d like to get one more coverage in before the pay period ends tomorrow, but there hasn’t been anything worth grabbing (on a pay scale). Have to write up the book reviews, and enter the scores on the contest entries I read.

But first, time to finish/polish the short story. That is my absolute priority.

Over the weekend, I have unpacking/rearranging to do, I want to work on the Big Project and on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and also rest. My soul is tired, and I need to rest.

With storms raging outside, let’s hope the power stays on so I can do just that.

Have a good one, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Thurs. Jan. 13, 2022: Hoping for Quiet

image courtesy of Myriams-Fotos via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow, and I just don’t have the surge capacity to deal with it.

Post over on Gratitude and Growth about the weather.

Most of the morning was spent on writing the first draft of a short story. Got 2/3 of it done, just over 1700 words, and my brain just stopped. I know what comes next, but couldn’t pull it together to write it. And, I know the ending for which I’m aiming. I’d hoped it would only be 1500 words, but 2.5K is the sweet spot now, with 3K being the max.

Bundled up in so many layers until I could barely walk. Got the garbage out (so much easier to take it across the street to the dumpster than having to drive it to the dump). Once I unloaded garbage, came back, put on the backpack full of library books and the tote bag full of more library books and stomped to the library.

Church Street was hit and miss, as far as clean sidewalks, and I had to be careful. Dropped off the finished books, picked up the ones that have come in, stomped back. I wasn’t that cold, because of all the layers, although the tip of my nose got red and I looked like Rudolph’s understudy by the time I got back.

Made my favorite noodles with Asian peanut sauce for lunch – comfort food.

Could not get it together to write more in the afternoon.

But I finished writing up a coverage, and read another script I will write up today. I have two scripts to read/write up, and two book reviews to write. I started reading another contest entry, too.

Part of the Target order arrived. I am in love with my Pyrex pie plate. There will be pot pies and sweet pies galore with that! And things like garbage bags, shampoo, and an ice tray (although it’s a weird, squishy ice tray). Once the cat litter arrives (today or tomorrow), we will be stocked up until early March for cat and cleaning stuff. Food-wise, we could make it 4-6 weeks if supply chains totally break down, although we’d run out of eggs. I have dry milk and evaporated milk if needed, and plenty of other goods stocked in.

I’m still going to attempt a grocery run (on foot) today, to get in the perishables. Then I’ll decontaminate and start my workday. I’m not washing groceries again, but I’m decontaminating myself whenever I have to go out and interact.

The stocking up has as much to do with weather as the virus. Another storm is coming in tomorrow, and predictions are that it will go down to -31F with wind chill over the weekend. Yet another storm comes through on Monday.

So I won’t be going anywhere for awhile.

But I still have to find a place to get the car fixed.

I decided not to go to the college library this week. Maybe next week, if the virus  numbers go down and there aren’t too many people around. With the public library, I just go in to drop off/pick up; I’m not back to browsing yet. With the college library, I have to dig through the shelves, looking for what I want, and I just don’t feel comfortable being indoors with strangers, even if we’re masked and vaccinated. Nothing I need from that library is on a tight timeline, so I’m okay to wait.

I have meditation this morning, and then I’ll make a run (a waddle, in all my layers) to Big Y with my rolly cart to see how much on my list I can find. Then it’s finishing the short story (it needs to be edited and sent out tomorrow, which is a tighter turnaround than I like, but that’s when I found out about the submission deadline), writing up a script coverage and two reviews, reading two more scripts. I doubt I’ll get to work on The Big Project today, but I’m hoping to get back to it tomorrow and over the weekend, and do some work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY this weekend, too.

Tessa let me sleep until nearly 6. Actually, again, it was Charlotte who woke me, and when Tessa heard us, she chimed in.

Hopefully, the power will stay on.

It’s relatively quiet anyway around here; I’m hoping for a quiet weekend, even with storms happening outside.

Wed. Jan. 12, 2022: Writing In My Head

image courtesy of Chriszwettler via pixabay.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Sunny and cold

Yesterday was another day that was kind of all over the place. But I got some good stuff done.

Plowed through a bunch of emails, got out an LOI. There were some interesting submission calls in my inbox. One, I really wanted to do, but I don’t have anything suitable. It’s for a one-act play, 30-40 minutes, 4 characters. All my plays of the correct length have more characters; the ones with four or fewer are too short. I started to adapt a short story into a stage play, but that’s going to be too short, too. I don’t have time to write a new play from scratch, and have it in anywhere near decent shape by deadline.

There’s another call for a short story that got my wheels turning. It only needs to be about 1500 words, so if I can actually sit down and do a rough draft today, and it’s strong enough, I could revise it and have it in by deadline. I started writing it in my head. If it goes on the page as well as it’s unfolding in my brain, I’ve got a shot.

We’ll see.

Wrote a little bit on The Big Project. Not as much as I wanted to, but it was a comic scene that had to be properly structured. The joke lands, so I think it will be okay.

Worked on script coverage and on contest entries.

Charlotte sat down on my keyboard, causing all kinds of chaos, but now the “Editor” function is back in Word. Go figure.

Thank goodness there are plenty of leftovers.

Put in the Chewy order for cat litter. Packed away the boxes of holiday decorations. One box was dripping. I opened it—it contained large, outdoor balls I hadn’t used this year. They were full of water. A small hole in the top, where the hanging loop was put in, meant that, being outside, they could accumulate water inside.

I drained them and have left them on the counter to thoroughly dry. Don’t want them getting moldy inside.

That was weird. Just weird.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. Because everyone’s still remote, the kids don’t have to spend most of their day worrying about active shooters and whether the person next to them will expose them to a deadly virus, they can actually learn. Let’s face it, none of this insistence about forcing in-person learning is actually for the well-being of the kids. It’s all about making sure their parents go back out to Die for Their Employers. It’s disgusting.

I woke up on my own around 5:30 this morning, no feline choir. I’m writing this morning. Then, late morning, I will bundle up, load up as many library books as I can carry, and do a drop off/pick up.

Script coverage, book reviews, and contest entries this afternoon.

Onward.

Tues. Jan. 11, 2022: Bitterly Cold

image courtesy of Nicky Pe via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Bitterly cold

It is 1 degree F this morning.

There’s a post over on the GDR site about resolutions being the first step.

The weekend was kind of all over the place. Worked on coverages all the way through. Was honored to be requested by two writers (on two different scripts) to read revisions based on notes I gave them a few weeks ago.

Worked on packing decorations and figuring out where to put everything so we actually have living space for the year. I’m handwashing the holiday fabrics. Some of that is because I don’t want to put the glittery fabric in a commercial machine; also because there’s no way I’m humping it all down to the laundromat in this weather.

The library has cancelled all in-person programs for the month, which is a wise idea. There was a positive test at the co-op, and that staff member and two others who were in close contact are now in quarantine. I hope they are okay.

We’re having the weather we were warned about, so staying home is my only option (especially since the car doesn’t work). Snow and freezing rain all weekend, frigid temperatures today. I have a big stack of books to return to the library, but that will happen later this week. Since the virus numbers keep going up, and the entire country is back in “Die for Your Employer” mode, I’m happy to stay home.

Did some reading for pleasure, because I needed the break. Didn’t work on The Big Project until Monday, which threw off my rhythm for everything else. We’re eating leftovers, which is a good thing to clean out the fridge and not waste food, and because I just don’t have the energy to cook right now. Although I managed a chocolate mousse on Sunday, which was delicious.

Tessa is really angry at me for taking down the big tree that was in the doorway between the sewing room and the living room. She loved to glide under it to go from one room to the other, and also liked to sit under it.

As a joke, I put a small, 15” tree (that was on one of the bookcases) down in the same spot the big tree stood. Tessa glared at me like, “You think I’m stupid?”

Meanwhile, Charlotte walked around it, checking it from all angles, and then looked at me, puzzled, like, “I remember this being bigger last time I was here.”

Willa paid no attention, being her Willa self, and busy with other things.

The dog bed that was once Tessa’s and then became Willa’s is now Willa’s again. It is on top of my mom’s bed (instead of being on top of boxes near the window, where we thought Willa would like it), and she sleeps curled up in it during the day (and curled around my mom at night).

Saturday was sunny, but cold. I ran a few errands on foot, and then dug out the car, so that Friday’s snow wouldn’t freeze down when Sunday’s freezing rain hit. Definitely a good call, because Sunday was miserable. The plows were out all day, scraping down to pavement and then sanding, very conscientious, before Monday’s next snowstorm hit.

Sunday was nasty, freezing rain all day. I was glad to stay in, work on script coverages, and read. And keep working on packing up decorations. I’ve somehow misplaced two boxes – the decorations came OUT of them, so I don’t see how I could misplace them in this finite space.

After 10 years, I had the packing/unpacking down to a system, because of the way it fit into the Christmas Closet in the storage area over the garage. But I have to figure out how it works best here, so it’s a lot of geometry involved, finding out it doesn’t work, and starting over.

It snowed most of Monday. Again, the plows were conscientious about coming around to scrape down to pavement. Once the snow stopped, in the late afternoon, they put down a lot of sand, in preparation for today.

I didn’t get much done yesterday. I couldn’t concentrate. I did work up some notes on The Big Project, finding a way to integrate a new idea into the current outline, and giving it room to create another big arc (if I decide that’s what I want), or maybe even a spin-off.

I plowed through the email that had stacked up. Outlined some specialty blog posts. Spent some time on the acupressure mat. Worked on script coverage. Started on the print books in one of the categories I’m judging. I have to contact my book review editor; for some reason, I can’t find the links to upload the two reviews I just worked on. I also have to get back to the search for someone to fix the car today, so I can set that up for next week or so.

Made a black bean soup from the Moosewood recipe – very good, and easy. That recipe will become a staple recipe in my repertoire.

The Chewy order finally arrived; I felt sorry for the driver. The delay in delivery is not a problem at all – I’d rather the drivers stayed safe. The way Fed Ex lies about the delivery is not okay. Just tell me it’s delayed; don’t keep insisting it’s coming “today” as they did Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Target order – which is five small, but necessary items – is coming in three different boxes. And I’ll have to put in another order with Chewy this week for the cat litter (the one that arrived was for food – we’re good for the next nine weeks). The Goddess Provisions box arrived, filled with good stuff.

I’ve received so many oracle decks in the past few years, between Tamed Wild and Goddess Provisions, that I think, in spring, I’ll give away the ones with which I don’t connect strongly/don’t use. As I’m unpacking stuff and setting up the office/bookcases/ reading nooks, I will put aside the ones I want to give away, and then set it up in spring, when it’s easier to get to the post office.

Once I post here, I’m off to do some work on The Big Project, to try to get back on track with that. I’m way behind where I wanted to be at this point; however, I really like the quality of the writing. Then, I’ll write up the scoring sheets for the entries I read last night, and get back to the script coverage. I have to get a lot read this week if I want to make my nut this pay period (and I’m pretty sure I’ll fall short, but I’m so damn exhausted, and it’s not fair to the writers if I’m not in top form to write up the coverage).

I need to get back on track with THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, too, but that can happen this weekend. And I need to get some LOIs out.

Later this month, I need to get back to working on the new editions of the Topic Workbooks, so they can start re-releasing. I was so thrilled with the new covers, and now I’m having second thoughts that they might be too busy, using photographs instead of line drawings. The original covers are too similar; these new covers are too different, and the tiny logo in the corner doesn’t really tie them together enough. I’ll have to mull that over. Although I’m not going to go for a re-design during a Venus retrograde because that’s simply not wise. But I can think about it and consider options and styles, and how I really want these workbooks to sit in the world. They are my steadiest sellers, so I want them to be both useful and easy on the eye.

Today is bitterly cold. It was supposed to snow all day, but it’s sunny right now. I’m just grateful the power is still on!

Charlotte woke me at 3:33 AM, wanting attention, and the minute Tessa heard her, Tessa started, in full voice. I grabbed the feather bed and moved to the couch, grumpy that I had to leave my cozy fleece sheets, but not wanting Tessa to wake the neighbors at that hour. I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew, it was 7 AM and more snow had fallen. Poor Willa got the short end of the stick this morning – no attention AND late breakfast. I had weird dreams on the couch – busy dreams, not stress dreams, at least. But I still felt like I’d already put in a full day by the time I woke up.

It’s supposed to be a little warmer tomorrow, and cloudy, so the plan (so far) tomorrow late morning is to pack up as many of the library books as I can carry and return them, and pick up the books that have come in. I’ll probably go across the street to the college library in the next few days. I have some digging I need to do in their shelves. Best to do it before classes start up again next week.

I hope the virus numbers go down enough in spring and summer that I can work IN these two libraries a couple of times a week. The spaces are so terrific, I want to utilize them. But not now. Now, I’m isolating as much as possible.

Stay safe and healthy. May you have the energy you need to both get through the day and create.

Thurs. Jan. 6, 2022: The Sense of Time Running Out

image courtesy of anncapictures via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Cloudy, windy, cold

Twelfth Night

Next winter holiday cycle (2022 into 2023), I need to figure out how to earn enough so I can schedule time off from the Winter Solstice through the first week of January. I don’t know if it’s pandemic fatigue, burnout, car stress, or a combination, but I’m having a difficult time getting going this year. The Uranus, Venus, and upcoming Mercury retrogrades aren’t helping.

There’s a post on Gratitude and Growth about the seed catalogs.

The crows fly past for their morning visit, but it was the regular murder, not the murderati, and they weren’t upset, so whatever the threat was seems to be gone.

I coaxed the car to the grocery store, did a big shop, and managed to get back. Still trying to find a mechanic to fix it. It was stressful to coax the car there and back.

Too many people sneezing and coughing in the store, although everyone I saw was masked. On the one hand, one wants to judge them for not staying home. On the other hand, there’s no grocery delivery around here, and a lot of people are on their own, with no one who can help them.  They HAVE to go to the grocery store.

There were a lot of empty shelves at the store. Big brands, not local ones. Some of the trucks were caught up in the I-95 snow debacle and still haven’t made it up. But I got what I needed, most of what I wanted, and forgot a few things that had me kicking myself when I got back.

I was exhausted by the time I got back, and it was still morning. I got everything in just before the rain started, so at least that timing worked.

Then, some sort of siren went off. Not like someone’s house alarm, but an actual town-wide warning siren. Only I had no idea what it could be since this city isn’t great at communicating, something I hope the new mayor will fix. It was raining, but not tornado weather, so it couldn’t be the tornado siren. The sluice gates were open, so it was unlikely to flood. And no one was worried; everyone just went about their business. So I figured I shouldn’t worry, either.

But it’s stressful to hear a siren go off and not know why.

They’re considering closing schools in Pittsfield because of COVID spikes – but not switching to remote learning, which is majorly effed up.

Today is the year anniversary of the attempted coup by the Narcissistic Sociopath. And there are still too many people out there who should be in jail. I don’t want a “speech” from Garland. I want the traitors punished. None of this crap about how “it takes time” to build the case. First of all, it was broadcast live. Second, we don’t HAVE the time. Get it done or step aside for someone who will.

On a personal level, the fact that it happened on January 6th angers me, because Twelfth Night/Epiphany is a joyous day in my personal calendar.

Well, it will be joyous again if someone would ever do something about holding these traitors accountable. All they do is nothing, which emboldens the traitors.

I didn’t get any work done on The Big Project, and it threw off my entire day. I was out of sorts. I’ve been unsettled since the start of the year anyway, but skipping writing days on these projects makes it worse.

Struggled with the script coverages, and didn’t get enough done, so I have to finish today, while taking down the decorations. I’d hoped to bake a King Cake, but I don’t really have time.

A job description landed in my inbox, for a part-time, remote copywriting position wanting someone “feminine.” WTF does that have to do with writing good marketing copy? And whose definition of feminine” is being used? Some old white man’s? Talk about insulting.

Made a ham pot pie with leftovers. Don’t want to waste anything. It’s like a chicken pot pie, only using ham, cream of celery soup, vegetables, garlic, and onion, and topping it with a Bisquick crust. It was really good, but I’m not happy with the way the oven is calibrated. Outer edges brown quickly while middles underbake.

Befana night is being included in our holiday celebration schedule, so this morning, little gifts were at the breakfast plates. Large crystals, this year.

The computer was cranky this morning. I had to shut everything down and boot it all back up. It took for damn ever. This PC is not even two years old. My Mac worked well most of the time for ten years.

I have meditation group (thank goodness, maybe it will help me be less scattered). Then, I have to finish a script coverage, take down decorations, put dinner in the crockpot, read and write up another script coverage, take down more decorations. I’d planned not to write on the Big Project today, but I still feel unsettled. Hopefully, the power will stay on until I get out my coverages.

Some poor soul in the neighborhood has a car alarm that keeps going off. I was worried it was mine, but it’s not.

I was requested for a coverage to read a revision of a script I liked, but on which I had a few suggestions. I’m honored that the writer wants me to take a look at the revision.

I need to figure out how to rework my time on things. I just can’t knock things out as fast as I used to. It’s very frustrating, and I hope it’s just pandemic brain and not something worse. But whatever it is, I have to adjust and make it work for the work.

Have a good one.

Wed. Jan. 5, 2022: And Then The Crows Came

image courtesy of kytalpa via pixabay.com

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I think there’s a storm coming in. I hope I can coax the car to the grocery store and back. It’s too cold to walk, and I need to do a big shop, not a small one.

What happened around DC yesterday, with people being stuck in their cars on the road for 27 hours is not okay. This is where we need robotics; mechanized plows that understand the difference between stalled cars or life forms and snow, who can clear roads in bad weather and get people out when they’re stuck, so that emergency personnel can then follow in and provide assistance.

I managed a little over 1600 words on The Big Project. I like what I wrote, but I needed to get double done.

Mailed some bills down the street at the mailbox in front of the college security building, and then went next door to see if Cumberland Farms had any eggs left. They did not.

Got some blog posts written, and then got into a container gardening discussion on Twitter. It hit me just how much I miss my beloved lilacs, some of which I raised from slips. But at least I gave them to avid gardeners, who will care for them, or pass them on to those who will.

Then, my murder of crows showed up, joined by two other murders of crows (I’m calling them a “murderati” even though it’s not correct).  One of the crows who usually visits me at the front of the house every day kept flying back and forth at the office window (which is on the side of the house). Very upset. All the crows were very upset. It’s not like them, especially at dusk, and they were joined by their friends, so something was up.

I excused myself from the conversation and bundled up (figured I might as well get the mail while I was out). The crows were really, REALLY upset, flying, swooping, screaming.

I think their behavior has more than one reason, although I don’t have all the answers.

There were some flocks of birds – I think they were starlings, but I couldn’t see, in the lack of light – flying over. The crows drove them away, but that couldn’t be the cause of the upset. I didn’t see any hawks, eagles, or owls. 

Back on Cape, when I had an owl living in the back yard for a few years, the owl kept to the back and territories past the backyard, while that local murder of crows hung out in the front. It was the blue jays who went back and forth, making trouble.

However, my direct downstairs neighbors had a visitor. The crows HATED him for some reason, and were dive bombing him. Which made me immediately suspicious of him. Had he hurt one of their group?

My dislike was supported when the dogs in the neighborhood all started growling at the guy. Now, my other downstairs neighbors have two guard dogs who don’t like anyone outside of their own people, although they’re starting to get used to me (especially since I always tell them how handsome and good they are, every time I see them). But the little mop dog across the street, who loves EVERYBODY, pulled on her leash and growled like she was going to rip the guy’s throat out.

In other words, this guy is bad news.

He scrambled into the house, and I hope he doesn’t stay long.

But the crows were still upset. They were flying around and screaming over by the library cattycorner from where I live. There’s some construction in a building near it, and I worried that maybe one of their group had gotten injured or tangled in something. I went over to the library parking lot to see if I could figure it out (and then call someone), But the crows took off from there, and went across the street, to the wooded area behind some houses, sort of in the direction of the lake.

I couldn’t follow them without trespassing. It didn’t seem like the behavior of crows having a funeral for one of their own (if you’re interested, there’s a good article about that here).

But they were very upset, and I didn’t like not being able to help them. They kept moving further and further towards the lake, so maybe it was some sort of predator (hopefully a four-legged and not a two-legged) and they were trying to get it out of their territory. I didn’t find any evidence that any of them were actually hurt.

I hope it’s not a fisher. I dislike fishers intensely. In Maine, they ate all the cats, and attacked dogs and some humans, too. But the fishers I’ve encountered have a distinct smell, sulphery, like rotten eggs, and I didn’t smell that at all.

I didn’t write up my coverage, so I will have to catch up today, along with the grocery store and some other things, and the next chunk of The Big Project.

Hopefully, the car will make it to the store and back. I’m going back to decontamination protocols for myself whenever I leave the house and come back after interactions. We’re not back to washing the groceries yet, but, if need be, we will.

Also, once I’m back from the store (hopefully, before the storm starts), I’ll take a tromp around the neighborhood to check on the crows. They did a fly-by this morning, but it was the regular murder, not the murderati. It was pretty much the morning hello.

Knowledge Unicorns started back up last night. The relief all of us involved have at the kids not being in school with all the chaos is huge. As is their relief not to have to deal with constant active shooter drills, in addition to worrying they might catch COVID from fellow students with anti-vaxxer morons for parents. We made the right decision. Everyone’s tired, but at least, at this point, still alive, which is more than can be said for several of their friends and their friends’ parents.

One of the fun things we did was to do a virtual tour of the Doges Palace in Venice, and talk about some of the art and the history.

I have to be off, so I can get everything done before the storm. Peace, friends, and let’s hope the power stays on, at least until I get my coverages submitted.

I really needed to take this week off, too, although I can’t afford it. Will have to consider that for next year, planning my time so that I take from the Winter Solstice off through the first week of the new year.

Tues. Jan. 4, 2022: Back to the Page

imageg courtesy of Nile via pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Clear and cold

Happy New Year! I hope yours was everything you wanted it to be.

The car failed inspection on Thursday, but I have 60 days to get it fixed by a registered garage. Now, if only one of them would work on Volkswagens. . .

Finished up script coverages on Thursday afternoon, and was able to take the entire three day weekend off. I stayed off social media, too, although I hopped online a bit when I heard that Betty White had died. What a shame she didn’t make it to 100.

Friday, I did a run to the post office, the library, and the liquor store (on foot). A good friend send a birdfeeder that’s supposed to attach to the window, so one can see the birds. I will try to get it up this week. Kitty TV.

Made roast duck for New Year’s Eve. It was very good. With potatoes and steamed vegetables. We still have plenty of stollen, so we had that for dessert. I’d made our favorite devilled eggs to snack on, and we did the traditional smoked herring before midnight. There was a small party in the house next door, but mostly, it was quiet in the neighborhood.

We watched the ball come down in Times Square online, and toasted in the New Year with prosecco. I let the old year out of the back door a little before midnight, and then the new year in the front door just after. Too bad they don’t have First Footers here. There were some fireworks in the distance, but nothing close and disturbing. Burned the second bayberry candle, for luck and prosperity.

I was very disappointed to see that NYC went ahead with letting people into Times Square, and how irresponsibly people behaved. A good many of them could be dead in the coming few weeks. Will they think this was worth death?

I used to watch the ball come down from my window, in my NYC apartment. I could watch them get the ball ready, too. Then, the years I had Broadway shows on New Year’s Eve night, I couldn’t get home in time for midnight, because it was blocked off, even if you lived there. So I was forced to go to a party or an overpriced restaurant until after the square cleared out. I’m glad I had the experience of seeing it from my window, but don’t miss the chaos. That’s probably why I still always feel so unsettled. That desperate energy of people trying too hard to have a good time.

I’d started taking New Year’s Eve off and leaving the city a few years before I moved out. Sometimes just to be with my mom; sometimes to go to a yoga retreat. Then, shows started cancelling the evening shows and only have matinees, because people couldn’t get to the theatre, or, after, had to go all the way up and cut through Central Park to get anywhere else.

The chaos takes the fun out of it, and it puts too much strain on all the services that have to work that night.

Got to bed a little before one, woke up again at three, and then Tessa woke me at five. I was grumpy and out of sorts. Tried to do the fire and ice ritual, but the ice maker wasn’t working. Then, I realized that the first day of the New Year fell on the dark moon. So the natural dark moon energy of releasing was battling the desire to start fresh we have in the new year.

So I stopped fighting it and read all day. Except when I made lemon mousse, and later, did the baked salmon in the lemon-mustard-brown-sugar-cumin glaze.

Over the weekend, I read THE TWELVE JAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Donna Andrews, laughing out loud at a lot of it. And then I read the second and third of Emily Flynn’s books, DEAD GORGEOUS and END OF THE ROADIE, both of which were excellent: writing, plotting, characters. I really like her work.

Sunday, I did some work on The Big Project, cleaning up what I’ve worked on so far, so I could dive back into it. I’m behind where I want to be, so I need to double down on it in the next few weeks. But I’m happy with the quality, the tone, the plot, the characters.

I was disappointed to learn that 365 Women a Year is not calling for projects for 2022. I hoped to write a play about Marie and Squire Bancroft, well-known Victorian actors, for them this year. There’s no reason I can’t still write it, but pitching it to 365 would have given me momentum.

I’m doing an Excel spreadsheet (oh, horrors) with details of the various scripts ready for submission, so that I can get back on track with it this year. Details on length, characters, production history, etc. I have 21 plays that can go out there and keep earning their keep after their initial readings or productions, and I have a handful I’ve pulled because I’ve outgrown them, and the market is in a different direction. I’ll do another one for the radio plays, and then a third one for the screenplays. I wanted to focus on creating and stockpiling, and that’s what I’ve done. Now, things need a polish, and need to get out into the world to earn their way.

A conversation with author and illustrator Dewi Hargreaves about Hope Clark’s 13-in-Play made me realize I need to get that back up to speed again. 13 pieces out at any given time, so the work earns its keep. The new version of THE WRITERS MARKET arrived, and I will go through it, cover-to-cover, making notes, and then work my way through pitches and/or submissions wherever I think it’s appropriate. Of course, I’ll have to cross check the information with the websites of each place, but that should get me back on track with keeping submissions out there properly, as I create new work. Almost all the new work I have on tap for this year is long form, not short form, and I need to mix it up a bit more.

The first shipment for the contest I’m judging has arrived, and I’m at work on those pieces, too. I have two book reviews to write and submit, and then get my next assignments from that editor.

Monday morning, Tessa got me up around 5:30. I fed the cats, did the usual longhand writing session. Expanded the morning yoga practice by a few more asanas. Extra-long meditation session.

After the shower, I sat down and wrote just over 3100 words on The Big Project, and I liked most of them, which is a good way to start the day, the week, the month, the year.

Headed to the library to pick up/drop off books. It was darn cold. It kept looking like it wanted to snow, but it didn’t smell like snow, and didn’t snow.

In the afternoon, I caught up on email. I sent off a grant proposal. I doubt I’ll land the grant; it’s unlikely they’d give it to a genre writer, thinking they’re “not serious enough” and my work samples were comic noir mystery/fantasy and mystery. But I have zero chance if I don’t try, so it was worth putting it together and sending it off.

Read two scripts. Should have written them up, but was too tired. Too tired to start on the contest entries, too.

But all in all, it was a good start to the day, week, month, year.

The answers to the GDR questions are posted here, if you’re interested, and if you want to post your own.

Back to the page now, to get the day’s quota done on The Big Project. Once I’ve hit that, I can decide how to structure the rest of today. A lot of it will be taken up with script coverage, but I have to run down the street to get eggs from Cumberland Farms, and then maybe take down the decorations out on the front porch. Rather than taking everything down on Thursday, I’m doing the outer rooms, and then getting the big tree, etc., down on the 6th. We have to figure out how we’re going to stash it all until next year, so it doesn’t take up all the closet space and hall space. Geometry. Fun times.

Tessa didn’t wake me this morning; I woke up all on my own, a little after 5:30. Heaven!

Back to the page, and I hope you’re having a good start.

Wed. Dec. 29, 2021: A Day at the Desk

image courtesy of voltamax via pixabay.com

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Waning Moon

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Snowing

Yesterday was kind of a mixed day. I did more admin work than I planned in the morning, which cut into the writing time, but it needed to be done. I need to move admin later in the day, because it siphons off too much creative energy if I do it in the morning.

It cleared up enough mid-morning for me to gather the rolly cart and a few bags and walk to Big Y. It’s not that far, about ¾ of a mile. Because the streets are one-way around here, the necessary curlicues one has to take on the roads make it farther in the car. It’s a pretty straight shot on foot. Plus, I looked in store windows and art spaces and walked by Ramunto’s Pizza, which always smells so wonderful. I haven’t tried them yet; they are on my list.

Picked up my mom’s prescription at CVS, then went next door to Big Y. The carts have wider rims, so the hooks on my rolly cart didn’t work, and I had to stash my cart inside the bigger cart instead of hanging it off the end, like I’ve done in other stores. But I didn’t need much, although I bought more than I planned.

I found a duck, which is exciting, although I think I will cook it for New Year’s Eve, rather than New Year’s Day.  I’ll do the baked salmon on the Day instead, which will balance better with the Eggs Benedict breakfast anyway.

It wasn’t bad hauling everything back in the rolly cart, but I definitely had to take a rest when I got back. Everyone was masked and distancing, so it was less stressful than it might have otherwise been.

I mean, when I lived in NYC, I used the rolly cart all the time to go to the store (even though ALL the grocery stores offered delivery). I had the rolly cart with me in San Francisco, back in the 80s, when I used to have to walk to and from the various stores. I just can’t buy as much as I can when I have the car, and with the pandemic numbers going up, the safety mechanisms being rolled back because all the government cares about is corporate profits, I’m not thrilled with the idea of shopping more often. But needs must, and hopefully, I can get the car fixed in the next few weeks. Once that’s done, I’ll do a couple of major grocery shops to restock long-term supplies,

And the walk is good for me.

Used the ham bone from the Christmas ham, along with kale and navy beans and sundried tomatoes, to make soup. It turned out well. Not a lot of leftovers. Maybe enough for two more meals. But that’s fine. When that’s used up, I’ll make the Moosewood Recipe for Black Bean soup I’ve been wanting to try. I have all the ingredients.

However, I do have leftover kale. Since I am not a big kale fan (although I’m trying to use it more often, because it’s so healthy), I have to figure out what to do with the rest of it. The Berkshires is obsessed with kale, so I’m sure I’ll find a recipe quickly.

Puttered around rather than doing my work, but hey, this was supposed to be my vacation week, and that is what my brain and body want.

I could feel the tensions influenced by the bone crusher square, and, being aware of that, made me aware of CHOOSING to be less reactive to tensions and frustrations. More of a sense of “Okay, this is bugging me, but it’s not that big a deal and not worth an argument, so why don’t I make that choice instead? It avoids a fight, but I’m also not rolling over.” Knowing the tensions in the square make poor choices/rash reactions likely, I can take a breath and choose not to react that way. That’s what meant about using astrology as a tool, rather than an excuse. I could have behaved like a jerk and just used the bone crusher square as an excuse. Instead, I was aware of the way it negatively influences, and made choices that were better in the larger context instead.

You know, the whole acting-like-a-grownup thing. Only understanding why certain tensions and pressures are stronger on a particular day.

Got my script coverage done and read another script, which I will write up today. I need to read/write up two scripts today/tomorrow and one more tomorrow in order to finish and take New Year’s weekend off. I planned only the remaining two, but I was requested for a coverage. That’s always an honor, so of course I said yes. In the information notes, the writer said my notes on two previous scripts had given this writer “a lot of strength to keep writing” which is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.  I sometimes wonder if I care too much about each script, but notes like this make it worthwhile, because it means my suggestions are genuinely helpful to the writer. And that’s the point of this – helping them with their craft, so they can share wonderful stories with the world.

I heard, last night, that City Ballet in NYC cancelled the rest of the NUTCRACKER run, due to COVID. They usually end on New Year’s Eve anyway, so it’s not that much earlier, but still disturbing, especially since one of my best friends works there. I contacted him; his last test on Tuesday was negative, so fingers crossed he hasn’t caught a breakthrough case.

Will finish “Dawn and Dorothy” today, and, hopefully, send it off tomorrow. It’s snowing again right now, so I will put off going to get the car inspected until it clears up later this morning. I’m grateful to have the flexibility.

Angry at the CDC for rolling back isolation time because corporations want to force people back to work. Yes, the science grows and changes as more is learned about how the variants mutate. But CEOs should not be dictating this. If anything, people need MORE time off, not less, and it must be paid. All of this talk about how Biden’s economy is booming – too many people are being sacrificed for it. It’s disgusting.

It was very discouraging to see so many people who should know better post photos of their irresponsible holiday behavior. No wonder we can’t get this under control.

Someone on Twitter talked about instead of party spaces, having library spaces where one can read all day in comfy chairs, and waiters pass canapes. A Reading Resort! Sounds wonderful to me.

Back to the page. I won’t get anything done on the Big Project today, but maybe tomorrow or Friday, I can get back to it. I’m behind where I want to be, but the foundational work I’ve done is vital to being able to write it smoothly when I go back to it.

Have a good one, people. Mask up, distance, stay safe.

Tues. Dec. 28, 2021: Post-Holiday Errands

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Waning Moon

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Rainy and cold

I hope everyone had a good weekend, whether or not you celebrated the Christmas holiday.

Ours was fine: lots of food, lots of books. We were tired of the foods we “traditionally” had for the Christmas Eve and Day meals. So for the Eve, it was baked trout, baked whipped potatoes with garlic and herbs, and spinach. For the day, it was a baked ham with a bourbon-molasses glaze. We don’t eat much pork anymore, but my mom wanted ham, so we had ham. I didn’t feel all that great afterwards, but not too bad.

Desserts were stollen on the Eve and chocolate mousse on the day, and that was all good.

We usually do presents on the Eve and stockings on the Day, but, again, my mom wanted to wait and do everything on the Day, so that’s what we did.

We had fun opening things. Tessa “helped.” Charlotte and Willa watched from a safe distance. Tessa adored her present – a catnip toy that looks like a gift. Willa and Charlotte didn’t know what to do with theirs. Charlotte figured it out, and then she was afraid someone would take it away.

But most of the time, we just relaxed.

It was perfectly pleasant, although I felt somewhat unsettled the entire time.

I checked in regularly with my friend, who lost her mother the day before Christmas Eve. There’s not much I can do, except give her as much support as possible. The whole world shifts, and it’s painful.

Sunday, I puttered around with paperwork, and getting my email inbox down to 13 emails for a brief, shining moment, before it filled up again. Worked on the blog schedule for some of the blogs, and tried to get ahead a bit on ones that don’t rely on being in the moment. Researched some companies and added them to the list that will get the postcard mailing in January. Looked through some article guidelines. I’m going to work up some pitches this week, although I won’t send them until the New Year, because it’s just tacky and thoughtless to send them out now. Dived back into the research for “Dawn and Dorothy.” I made a loose writing plan for 2022, which, no doubt, will change by the middle of January. But at least it’s a starting point.

Yesterday, I went to the laundromat. I like to change up my days, but Monday is not a good day. People. The last thing I want, when the virus numbers are back up again, is to be around any more people than necessary. But things got done. Using the rolly cart to go to and from the laundromat is actually easier than getting everything down to the parking lot, loading the car, driving to the laundromat, unloading, reloading, driving back, etc. I just roll the cart down the block, around the corner, down another half a block, and there I am. Plus, yesterday, their parking lot was like a skating rink. I could have fallen and gotten seriously hurt. The sidewalk was clear. Much easier.

While the laundry was going, I make some organizing lists, and worked on a couple of arcs for The Big Project. There are three major arcs that have to be resolved, one after the other, along with less-important, longer-reaching arcs.

A little more than half the neighbors took down all their holiday decorations already. We are keeping ours up until Twelfth Night. That is a tradition we intend to uphold this year.

We never did put a tree topper on our tree this year. None of the ones we have looked right. And the tree looks just fine without it.

Read Colleen Cambridge’s MURDER AT MALLOWAN HALL and loved it. Stayed up until nearly midnight to finish it (I think that was on Christmas Day). I hope there are more books in the series.

Read a book by a new-to-me author set in Venice, which I liked. Put aside another book I started, also set in Venice, that just wasn’t doing it for me.

Started reading Sally Wright’s PURSUIT AND PERSUASION, which I’m enjoying.

Did my errands on foot. My mom won $20 on a scratch ticket that was in her stocking, so I picked that up for her. Mailed thank you notes and birthday cards at the post office. Dropped off and picked up a stack of books at the library. It was pretty cold and windy, but still nice to be out.

Got irritated by an author on Twitter. He’d followed; I followed back, as I do with most authors. The first interaction was a long DM from his “publicist” asking me to read and review the guy’s book. It was a long, involved DM, with a tone making it clear that they were doing me a favor. The publicist is male, of course, and the DM was typical male mansplaining privilege.

Okay, wrong on so many levels. First of all, I’m a paid reviewer by publications. Occasionally, when it doesn’t violate my contract terms, I can review a book for free, usually by someone I know, because the publications that pay me don’t want me reviewing books by people I know. But it is work. It relates to my job, and is therefore unpaid labor. I’m not doing unpaid labor for a stranger. Second of all, how often have I publicly stated that if the first interaction from a new mutual follow is a DM trying to sell me something (or ask for free labor), that’s an immediate unfollow, and often a block? Often. If the idiot can’t be bothered to do due diligence, not someone I want to deal with. Third, a professional publicist would know better than to pull crap like that, because that’s negative public relations, not positive public relations. So either the guy’s amateur hour (which means I hope the author’s not paying him much) or it’s the author using a pseudonym as a publicist. Fourth, if the social media is set to “automatically” DM any new mutual followers marketing crap, again, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, and are not someone with whom I wish to interact on any level. Fifth, don’t ask someone to work in the week between the holidays, unless you’ve done your due diligence and know that they are actually working. It’s rude.

That author also goes on my “do not ever buy or read” list.

Caught up with my lovely postman so I could give him his cookie packet. He was pleased.

Read a script, which I will write up today. Grabbed some more scripts to read the next few days. I’m reading less this week, but I need to read something.

Had Doordash deliver Chinese from my favorite place in Williamstown. One order for last night’s dinner (their duck lo mein is one of my favorites), and a chicken pad thai for today (yes, I know the latter is not Chinese food, but it’s from the same restaurant).

It’s clearing up, so I will bundle up, get the rolly cart, and head to CVS to pick up my mom’s prescription, and Big Y to pick up a few things I need for the meals over New Year’s. It’s a bit of a hike, but I’m trying to preserve the car until I can get it looked at.

Today, the “bonecrusher” square supposedly ends, and Jupiter goes into Pisces tonight/tomorrow, which, in my chart anyway, is supposed to be a good thing. I could use a break, and I’ll take any support from the stars I can get!  😉

On the agenda today, after I get back from the grocery store, is writing up the script coverage, and then finishing the short version of “Dawn and Dorothy.” I hope to get some work done on The Big Project, but we’ll see. This is supposed to be a week of more rest than work for me, but there’s always work to do.

Debating whether I’ll do a mini retreat over New Year’s. New Year’s is usually a tough few days for me, on multiple levels, and I want to be as gentle with myself as possible.

Jeremy Rock Smith is teaching an online cooking session on the 4th; seriously considering taking it, because I love learning from him. He’s a wonderful teacher, in addition to being a quality human being.

That’s the latest; off to the store now. Since I can only buy what I can carry, I have to stick to my list!

Hope your weekend was great, and that the days between the holidays are peaceful.

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. 17, 2021: Snow Coming In!

image courtesy of Stijn Dijkstra via pexels.com

Friday, December 17, 2021

First Day of Full Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was challenging, to say the least.

I managed to do a grocery run, although the car is not happy. I’d gone to a store I don’t really like, but it’s close, and they claimed to have the fruit peel. Of course, they didn’t, but I stocked up on a bunch of stuff, since I was there.

Came home, unpacked. Went on Nuts.com, which had been recommended. The fruit peel was about double what I pay in the store for the same amount, but I figured, well, online. They promised free shipping over a certain amount (which I easily hit) if I signed up for their mailing list. Only they wouldn’t put the free shipping through because “It’s only for new customers.” Well, that would be me, since I’ve never ordered from them before.

So I cancelled the order. And unsubscribed from their list.

I went on the Fleet Farm website. They had the brand of fruit peel I like, at the same price I paid in the store. I ordered my several pounds of it, the shipping was reasonable, and it was still half of what I would have paid at Nuts.com, even with the free shipping.

They said there were shipping delays, so I figured okay, it’ll probably get here around New Year’s or a little after. We’ll just have our stollen late this year, and eat it into February.

They shipped it within two hours.

Yeah, worthwhile company.

I lost too many hours in the afternoon trying to get the paperwork I need from the insurance for the RMV appointment to update the title on the car with the new address. Can’t get it inspected without it, and have to do that by the end of the year. Each wouldn’t give me what I needed without something from the other, who wouldn’t give it to me until I had the thing from the other that they wouldn’t give me without what they wouldn’t give me. Nightmare.  As, no doubt, the RMV appointment will be on Monday.

After all that chaos, I still managed to bake 8 dozen orange cranberry cookies and 6 dozen oatmeal currant lace cookies. They came out well, which helped me regain some of my lost baking confidence after the bread went all cattywampus the other day.

Worked on the shape of the Marie Corelli play. I hope to sit down and write the first draft today.

I’d made red lentil chili in the crockpot. It was spicier than I expected, but really good.

The Knowledge Unicorns did their Winter Holiday pageant for the parents last night. Via Zoom. The kids had brainstormed, written, designed, costumed their various spaces, rehearsed, and put it together via Zoom. It was a parody of every bad holiday pageant you’ve ever witnessed or imagined, along with sharply pointed satire at politicians, book banning/censoring, women’s rights, anti-vaxxers, and gun violence. It was brilliant. The parents and I were all so proud of them. They basically took all the stresses and fears and enraging politicking since the pandemic started and turned it into something creative, wonderful, and cathartic. That kids like that exist gives me hope for the future.

Charlotte now sits on my lap while I work at the computer, for a good portion of the day, whether Zoom is on or not. It’s pretty funny. She’s also made a lot of progress with the bed-making. It used to terrify her. We’ve now turned it into a game, with plenty of belly rubs and head scratches and cuddles. Yes, it takes longer, but now she’s not afraid of moving blankets anymore, so it’s worth it.

Astrologically, we have a full moon in Gemini coming up tomorrow. And then a square of several planets known as “the Bonecrusher” which I am totally not up for. But the planets are gonna do what they do, and I just have to understand the possibilities and make smarter choices. Somehow, an RMV appointment during a Bonecrusher square does not hit me as the best choice, but needs must.

There are rumors that the new virus variant is so transmissible, there will need to be shutdowns over the winter. Gov. Baker didn’t have the balls to do a full shutdown the first time around (it was a “stay-at-home”, for all people bitched they were quarantined — people who obviously don’t understand what a quarantine entails), so I doubt he will this time. But we’re pretty much isolating anyway, except for a couple of ventures out for groceries, books, and wine, so we’ll deal with whatever. But Biden needs to cancel student debt AND we need another stimulus payment. No matter what.

Back to the page. I want to work on the Marie Corelli play and the Big Project. I have to make the dough for the molasses spice cookies, so I can bake them later. Not sure if I’ll attempt the apricot sage cookies today or tomorrow. They are a new-to-me cookie, and I’m not sure I can make enough of them for the platters, but we’ll see.

I have to walk down to the wine store for a few things, and mail some cards in response to unexpected cards I received. It’s supposed to snow all weekend, so any errands need to happen today, or wait until Monday. And Monday is stacked to the gills as it is, so that I can take Tuesday off for the Winter Solstice.

I also have two scripts to cover today, and I’ll see what else is in the queue. I probably have to work on coverage all weekend, so I can take the Solstice and then next weekend off.

Still have some ornaments to put up. It’ll get done. Somehow.

Have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side of it.

Tues. Dec. 14, 2021: A Twisty Weekend

image courtesy of WaldNob via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and mild

Well, let’s just say, it’s been quite the few days.

Friday, I decided to do a hail Mary pass on the car and see if putting in a new battery solved the issues with the EPC light coming on, which my research indicated was sometimes the case. I joined AAA at the tier which promises roadside battery replacement back in November. Not that they’ve sent me my membership card. I’m still carrying around a printout of the email.

So I jump through all the ridiculous hoops on the AAA website to get the quote, to approve the quote, to get them to email me the quote, and to put through the request.

The guy shows up in 20 minutes.

To jumpstart the car.

“They no longer do” battery replacement in the Berkshires.

Then WHY DID I HAVE TO DO ALL THAT FUCKING PAPERWORK?  And why was not told this when I specifically chose the AAA tier that included the promise of this service?

The way companies based outside the Berkshires take money from us without providing the services for which we pay around here is appalling.

The guy didn’t even need to give me a jump. The car started.

I took it down the street to the mechanic I trust. Turns out my battery is fine. They ran a diagnostic. Didn’t find anything wrong with it. So the dealer in Pittsfield strung me along for weeks, and I’ve been without a car for WEEKS for no damn reason.

In case the light goes on again, I now have the information of a local guy who specializes in foreign cars.

Because I’m not taking it to the dealer in Pittsfield unless there’s no other choice.

Came home exhausted.

But got back to work in the afternoon, with script coverages, catching up on emails, getting out some LOIs, and the like.

Sendinblue has flagged my entire mailing list for the newsletter. They said there were too many bounces, and it had 0% opening rate. You know when they flagged it? THREE MINUTES after it was sent. I don’t know about you, but it’s often a week or more before I open and read newsletters. According to the dashboard, no one opened the newsletter. Yet I was hearing on social media and via email from a good portion of the list how glad they were the newsletter was up and running again. Also, what my dashboard shows as bounces (which I can either delete or research for updated emails) and what they’re telling me bounced don’t match. At all.

And they won’t let me just fix the bounces. They 86’d the entire list. Including the people who signed up via their contact form on my website.

It’s ridiculous.

I’ve worked with several email platforms over the years, both for myself and for clients. None of them have ever pulled this crap. Sendinblue’s response is they “can’t” only flag the bounced emails. If a certain number (and their number is higher than what shows up on my dashboard) bounce, the whole list is gone.

So I signed up for MailerLite (after several conversation with them), exported the whole list, ditched the Sendinblue contact form on my website and put in the MailerLite, and it looks like we’re good to go. I’m not sure if I should re-send the newsletter – Sendinblue claimed they only allowed it to go to a “sample” before 86-ing the entire list, but they won’t tell me to which addresses. I might do a “Take 2” with new information on the top, and tell people where they can stop reading if they already got the list.

Let’s hope MailerLite actually does what they claim to do.

So that puts MooSend and Sendinblue on my “no way do I want anything to do with them ever again.”

I mean, I do a quarterly newsletter. It’s not like it’s a big strain on any platform. Which was another problem with Sendinblue – quarterly wasn’t going to be enough for them. The list would have been flagged for inactivity after a month– and needed to be deleted and re-entered yet again.

No, thanks.

The company is not willing or able to meet my needs, so I will find someone else who can.

Saturday was a rainy, yucky day. Cold and raw. The storm let up for about a half hour, and I did a run over to Big Y and did a big grocery shop, including what I need for the baking, except for the candied peel, which I’m still struggling to find.

Got everything home and unpacked. Read a bit in the afternoon. Worked on script coverages.

Totally enjoyed PAYBACK’S A WITCH by Lara Harper. Very well done.

A little squirrel came up on the back porch, climbed up onto the bench and knocked on the window. He wanted our apples. No, I didn’t feed the squirrel. I don’t want it to go out on the Squirrel Collective Mind that I feel squirrels, or we’ll be overrun.

Sunday was mild and sunny. Got some script coverage done in the morning. We headed out with the last of the cards, dropped off some library books. The dashboard lights came on again in the car, and it gave a bit of a hiccough. I was worried it would stall out, but it smoothed out again. We went to Colonial Alpaca in Williamstown, so my mom could buy a gift for her friend. Then, it was off to Wild Oats to stock up.

They had a small Dresden stollen, so if I can’t get my hands on candied peel and make my own, at least we can have a little stollen. They also had the Nuremberg Gingerbread that I absolutely love. And it was fresh, not stale and left over from years before.

Got home, and we put up the big tree in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. It looks like a normal-sized tree in this house. It always dominated the Cape house. But it’s just. . .nice here. The stand, as always, was a pain in the ass to put together. I have to see if I can find a stand that works for artificial trees that isn’t so awful.

But it’s much sturdier here than it was on the floor back on Cape, and I might not even need to tie off.

We only got the tree up and the lights on, and lights up on the mantel and the front windows. That was as much as we could get done.

Besides, it gives the cats a chance to get used to the tree. We’re lucky; they’ve always been good with it. I mean, they check it out and they sit under it, but they haven’t been destructive, at least not yet. We let them hang out and “help” when we unpack the decorations, and their special Yuletide toys come out and go under the tree, and we have stuffed ornaments for the bottom branches, so it all works out.

Read two scripts, and most of the next book for review.

Tessa actually let me sleep on Monday morning, until after 6. Progress.

Reshuffled my morning yoga sequence. It didn’t work in the way I expanded it, so I put some of the new sequence at the front of the session, and it works better than sticking them on the end.

I had an excellent morning meditation session. Did not want to get up. Could have sat much longer, instead of 30 minutes.

Got blogs up for the Intent for the Week, for the GDR blog, and for tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice.

Found over 800 emails in my inbox, which is not the way I wanted to start my Monday. I got a couple of “we invite you to apply” emails from companies I’ve never heard of. I will have to see what that’s about. How about, if you like my website so much, we have a conversation about what you’re looking for, and whether we’re a good fit? Instead of “invite to apply.” Which, sent out on a Saturday night, sends off warning bells.

Found a couple of things that should have gone into a friend’s holiday package where Willa “helped” pack it – and she swiped those two things and put them in her stash. I retrieved them, wrapped them, and packed them. My mom packed the gift for her friend. I headed down to the post office (on foot) to send them off. Huge line, but moved fast. Told the clerk how grateful I was that the packages mailed last Thursday were already arriving. She was delighted.

Whenever there’s a line, everyone starts chatting with everyone. Like I said, the post office is the happening place around here. Where you go to find out what’s going on. In Lee, it’s Joe’s Diner. Here, it’s the post office.

Home, and back to work. Wrote up some blog posts. Worked on the tracking sheets for The Big Project. Wrote up two script coverages. Started doing some planning and scheduling for blog posts on various blogs for the new year. I need to start batch blogging for some of the blogs (not this one or Gratitude and Growth, which are dependent on the moment) and work ahead.

In the afternoon, I baked 10 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the holiday baking. Much easier and less stressful in this kitchen than it was on Cape, for some reason. Also, because I’m not doing all-day baking marathons, I think that eases up some of the stress, too. And my feet don’t hurt as much working in this kitchen.

I did use up most of the tins I brought up. I thought I’d brought up another box of them, but maybe not.

On the list for spring’s storage run: More tins for the cookies.

I miss my special china and the snowflake cups/plates/pot I got last year. Oh, well, I’ll get it on one of the summer or fall trips to storage, and we’ll have it for next year.

Read the script for which I’d been requested; it was veery good. It will be a pleasure to write it up. Finished reading the book for review. Will write the review, send it and the invoice off today. Ordered a couple of things off Etsy, from an artisan whose work I like, for something I’m working on for the new year.

Started reading Trisha Ashley’s ONE MORE CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, which Deborah Blake recommended. Thoroughly enjoying it. I wonder if this is the book that will convince my mom to read some of the books she likes on Kindle? She’d love this. I stayed up way too late reading.

Tessa let me sleep until 6:39 this morning. Fed everyone, and curled back up on the couch with the book, instead of doing what I should be doing.

Got through a little over 500 emails. I have to hope the car holds up to do an errand, and then get back to work on the review and the script coverage. Or maybe I’ll do the review/invoice first, and then attempt my errand.

I need to write up a long, complicated report on the script I read last night. On this afternoon’s agenda are the orange-cranberry cookies and the oatmeal lace currant cookies. Then, it’s two more scripts to read.

Those emails “inviting me to apply” that I received over the weekend? Bogus. Had nothing to do with anyone actually paying any attention to what I do or my skills. It was a series of automated emails from several different “recruiters” who are just looking to bump their numbers, not actually looking at actual talent to fill roles. Waste of my time to even open the emails.

Off to attempt productivity, when all I want to do is read that book!

At least my work for copyediting clients is done for the year. It’s only script coverage and the last two plays on deadline, both of which I’m writing in my head a good deal before I try to put anything on the page. The Marie Collier play is only a ten-minute play, so once I sort out some more possibilities in my head, I can just sit down and write it. I’m still working on some Dawn-and-Dorothy arcs, and I need to go back into the research materials a bit. Because the latter is so specifically stylized, it’s harder to pull off.

Have a good one.