Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT (thank goodness)
Cloudy and muggy

One of the great things about Elsa being around for 15 years is that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of happy memories revolving around her, and that is what I will try to focus on.

Every time I go to Philly, I have to leave my beloved Optimum and use Comcast. They just suck so badly. They are slow, they freeze, it takes minutes instead of seconds to load anything. And since it’s someone else’s account, I can’t call customer service and ream someone a new one! 😉

I dread losing Optimum when I relocate. Comcast is the premiere service where I’m going, and I don’t want them. It’s as bad as having my old PC on a bad day. I think I will take the advice and go with Time Warner. Right now, there’s an anti-Time Warner campaign in NY on television, but I’ll give it a shot and, if they’re awful — well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Besides, I have to have an address before I get fresh cable hooked up!

In spite of a jagged start to Saturday, it was a pretty productive day.

My mom said Iris and Violet are not doing well at all. They’re grieving terribly.

And then I hear a Megabus slammed into an overpass in upstate NY on Saturday, killing 4. Yeah, that gives me confidence for my next trip with them!

Saturday was very quiet. I worked all morning, I stopped to go to The Black Sheep, one of my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood for lunch. I had their Eggs Benedict — amazing! So wonderful and so perfect. I am an Eggs Benedict addict — if it’s on the menu, I must have it, and I’m very fussy. The Black Sheep’s version are right up there with The Egg & I’s version, up in Maine, which is still the best I’ve ever had.

Worked more Saturday afternoon and into the evening. Performed a Ceremony for the Dead in commemoration for 9/11l. Went to bed early again.

Must have had busy dreams again, because I work up on Sunday, thinking I was at home. I was completely disoriented.

Got some work done in the morning, read the papers, actually dashed out in the rain to McDonald’s for a sausage-and-egg McMuffin — not bad.

Left in the late morning, hauled everything to 30th Street Station, got on the Megabus. It was packed, which surprised me. I thought it would be fairly empty at that hour.

There was one annoying woman who insisted on screeching into the phone in as loud a voice as she could, on and on and on about family drama. Six people asked her to please keep her voice down. She refused, She said, “But I have to check in.” Finally, I said to her, “Checking in is saying, ‘I’m on the bus, it’s moving.’ It is NOT going on and on about family situations that none of us give a damn about and, frankly, are petty and boring. Your life is just not interesting enough to be forced on us for two hours. Shut up or we take the phone away.”

She shut up.

Because I would have done it — taken the phone and asked the driver to hold it until we arrived in NY. One of the bus rules is to keep phone conversation to a minimum and do it in a way that does not disturb others.

Ride wasn’t bad. We were only about 15 minutes late getting in due to traffic, and due to the bus ahead of us not giving us room to unload, and its passengers being slow and stupid about claiming their luggage.

Went over to 6th Avenue in the rain , caught a cab uptown — a young guy stepped in front of me and tried to take my cab, but the driver shouted, “Get out of my cab, you pig! I stop for the lady!” Gotta love NYC cab drivers.

Got on the train at Grand Central, the ride was uneventful (thank goodness) and I was home a little before 5. The cats were very glad to see me.

Unpacked, repacked some of the stuff I’m taking when I go back to Philly in a week and a half in the bigger suitcase I’m taking for that jaunt, posted my Welcome and first lecture for the workshop, and spent the evening reading magazines, catching up on mail, and comforting Iris and Violet. I don’t think Violet slept the whole time I was gone –she felt she had to be awake and vigilant. She’s exhausted, poor little thing.

In spite of the windows being closed, the apartment is filthy from Friday’s workmen outside, so I have to scrub everything down again.

The orchid, however, sent by my freelance writer friends, is amazing! I will have to post a photo tomorrow. Stunningly beautiful. Thank you so much for your love and support.

Today, I’m teaching the workshop, working on some other writing, getting out some other necessary paperwork, running a few errands (I’m out of wine, and, if I don’t take care of that, I will whine).

The “workmen” are already here making my life hell, so, no doubt, I will be filing more complaints against them.

Devon

First Willowspring Grove novel (handwritten, first draft): 49,250 words out of est. 100,000 words (49%).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and hot
Festival of Salacia and Sulis

Yesterday was fun. Different than I expected, but fun. I was out of the apartment early, walked east on Chestnut Street to the historic district. Never made it to Ben Franklin’s grave, although it turns out I was always within a block of it. There are thousands of boy scouts on their way to a jamboree — thousands of ‘em, all over the place. I spent most of the day trying to dodge the large groups. A store proprietor said they’d be at mostly family-friendly places; I hoped to find a tavern to hide in.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re very nice and reasonably well-behaved, in spite of being older teenaged boys. But they ARE teen-aged boys, and there are thousands of them, and there’s only so much of that I can take.

Paid my respects to Betsy Ross, photographed the fountain in her courtyard with the cats. Swung by the Old Quaker Meeting House, and the store at the Visitor’s Center. I wanted to buy some silly gifts, but the store was overpriced, and there wasn’t anything appropriate. And why do the stores in the Bourne Center sell replicas of the Statue of Liberty and postcards of NYC? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Carpenter’s Hall (good bookshop there), swung back around on 2nd St. to the Clay Center. Although it states on the website that the gallery opens at 10, and I was there after 10:30, it was locked and dark. Typical Philadelphia.

Ducked down Elfreth’s Alley, full of tiny little row houses and window boxes, and pre-revolutionary lane that still has people living there. Poor things, the tourists must drive them nuts. And there’s Blanden’s something or other, another little alley leading of Elfreth’s Alley, which would be lovely and peaceful is so many people weren’t crawling around taking photos! I was one of them, but I tried to do it quietly! 😉

Took some lovely photos in the cemetery at Christ’s Church, dodged four troops of boy scouts (for a minute, I thought I’d have to hop over the wall, which, in a dress, would have been an adventure). Walked across to the Society Hill neighborhood, full of restored (expensive) row houses.

There’s an oddly designed red brick building, heading south, called the Center for Living History that “closed permanently” on June 18. That’s a shame. And I wonder what they’ll do with the monstrosity.

The plan was to eat at a pub I’d read about called The Artful Dodger that looked interesting. I thought I’d check it out and write a short article about it. There are plenty of publications who take that type of stuff. I got there about a half hour before they were scheduled to open. I was hot and tired, in spite of carrying water. I wandered around the neighborhood, which is lovely, and spent a good bit of time in the churchyard next to St. Peter’s. I took some interesting photographs — I like old graveyards, they have stories, and they tell them if you listen quietly enough. Also met a woman walking two Wheaton terriers who told me about some interesting graves in the graveyard next door, at cemetery beside Old Pine St. Church, and about some lovely little gardens tucked away between Society Hill and where I’m staying off Rittenhouse Square.

By the time we were done, it was a few minutes after noon. I walked back to the pub, and it was even a few more minutes after noon. Not only was it not yet open, the staff saw me waiting and turned their backs. Not a wave or holding up a hand to indicate five more minutes. Dismissal.

So I left. Not spending my money there.

The service in Philadelphia restaurants sucks more often than it doesn’t anyway, which is a shame, because Philadelphia has a lot of outstanding restaurants. It sucks more than in most other towns I’ve travelled to throughout the world. But the servers seem to think they’re doing you a favor by letting you come in and sit down and pay them to maybe come by your table if they feel like it and can get off their smart phones or be bothered to stop conversing with their colleagues. 98% of the wait staff in Philly couldn’t last a single shift in NY.

Exceptions that I’ve discovered (and to which I keep returning) are Smith’s, on S. 19th St., a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square, and The Black Sheep, on S. 17th St. Hopefully, the place we’re going for lunch to today will also fall into that category.

Walked west on Pine Street, which was lovely. Row houses, Antiques Row (a series of antique stores — if I’d been in shopping mode, I’d have stopped at a few, but I wasn’t). I hoped to find a little cafe to stop and have a bite, but didn’t see anything that particularly struck me.

So I wound up at The Black Sheep, which is close to where I’m staying. I already knew they had great burgers and a nice selection of beers. I sat in the bar. The only person working was the bartender, who was also serving, but she was great. Nice change. I had the fish tacos — a huge platter with delightful condiments including one of the best cilantro sauces I’ve ever had. And a couple of pints of Flying Fish beer, which was very good. All reasonably priced, served promptly and politely, in a good atmosphere. Because The Black Sheep is so close to where I stay, I tend to overlook it, but I won’t anymore.

After lunch, I returned to the apartment and collapsed in the air conditioning. I was pretty wiped out. Didn’t do much of anything for the rest of the day except some percolating and email. I overheated during the day, in spite of drinking a lot of water, so it took me awhile to cool down.

Contract negotiations are not going well. I hope I don’t have to walk away and start the submission process all over again on this project, but if it comes to that, I will. I like this company, but they’re not taking one of the non-negotiables for me seriously and they think I’ll blink. They are sadly mistaken.

I will tell them so politely and firmly, and we’ll see where that leaves us.

Back to the page for awhile this morning, and then it’s off to lunch with some writer pals at a Belgian restaurant only about two blocks away whose menu looks fantastic. Let’s hope the service is up to par.

Boy, am I spoiled with my Optimum internet service at home. Comcast sucks — it’s hard to get anything done efficiently. Pages take about 3-1/2 minutes to load — when they can be bothered to load at all. I hope they are not my only option when I relocate.

Today is the festival of the goddesses of mineral springs, salt water, and healing waters. I will honor them tonight by a good soak in the tub with salts!

Devon