Thurs. May 19, 2022: Decent Day, Creatively

image courtesy of Clip Art Vectors via pixabay.com

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Rainy and cool

The latest on the garden is over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday turned out to be a strong day, creatively. I wrote a flash fiction piece while I ate breakfast (which I don’t usually do, but I didn’t want to lose the idea). Yes, it was in longhand.

It has characters with whom I might do more. I’m kind of test driving these characters, and will probably post the piece on my Ko-fi page in a few weeks, after it’s gone through some revisions.

I was out the door by 7:30 and over to the mechanic’s on time. They had the part, and got it into the car within twenty minutes or so. The car feels like itself again. Fingers crossed the car is really fixed this time, and nothing else goes wrong.

On the way home, I stopped at Wild Oats, the co-op where I’m a member-owner. It’s the first time I’ve been able to go there since December. Stocked up on some of my favorites. Stopped at Stop & Shop, where I rarely shop anymore, for a few things I can only get there. In both stores, everyone was masked by choice, which made shopping much less stressful.

Got everything home and put away. Went through emails. Did the last four chapters’ worth of revisions on CAST IRON MURDER, finishing this draft. It came in just over 63K, which is around where I want it. I’m going to let it sit for a bit, and next week, start the multi-colored draft.

I contacted the Williamstown Historical Museum about a research appointment that will feed into the Retro Mystery. I’d like to go in this Friday morning. Fingers crossed that I can. I caught up on Ello and am getting more comfortable on Counter Social, where I’m having actual conversations.

I have contradictory information about the guidelines for one of the proposals I want to submit, and I need clarification, because if one set of information is correct, it’s not the right fit for me, and I will move on. I’m debating the other proposal, because it has to be in-person indoors in the autumn, and who knows what the virus numbers will be like?

And now we have to worry about monkeypox? Really? Committing to being a professional recluse looks better and better.

In the afternoon, I turned around a script coverage, and then went back to reading THE BONE ORCHARD, which was hard to put down, because it’s so unique and interesting. Read it until I was finished, and was still thinking about it when I woke up.

Tessa rousted me around 5:30, as usual, although she’d been fussing a good deal before that.

Did my first writing session, and my normal routine. Willa seems to have settled down a bit, although she’s still being cautious.

I have meditation this morning, and then it’s back to the page. The Big Project, work on the radio plays, maybe looking at the outline for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY to get that back on track. I have a script to turn around this afternoon, and a book to read for review. If I get enough scripts in my queue, I’ll read through the weekend, since I want to take some time off for Memorial Day Weekend.

It’s supposed to get into the 90’s this weekend, which I am not looking forward to, but be cooler and pleasanter next week.

Fingers crossed that the car is Really Fixed this time. That will take a lot of stress out of my life.

Have a good one, friends.

Thurs. March 24: Digging into the Creative Work

image courtesy of prettysleepy via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Waning Moon

Rain/sleet/snow

Wacky weather this morning. It keeps switching from rain to sleet to snow and circling back through. The grass and rooftops have a glaze of white, while the streets are shiny and wet.

There’s a longer than usual post up on Gratitude and Growth, because I was very busy with soil and seeds this week. And here is the corrected link for Ink-Dipped Advice.

After returning from the laundromat yesterday, I sat down and started the second draft of CAST IRON MURDER. I rewrote the first three chapters and printed them out. Of course, I found errors when I read them over to update the tracking sheets that will become the Series Bible. But it’s a good start.

I used that momentum to do a bit of work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. I thought I’d written 50 pages on it. I wrote 5. I guess what I remember is the outline I wrote. So I have to get back on the stick with that.

I did a little work on The Big Project, but nowhere near enough.

Still, it was a solid, creative morning, and for that I was grateful.

I did some admin in the afternoon. I was delighted that the cat grass seeds arrived. I think this time, I’ve ordered enough to get us through the summer.

Moved seedlings back and forth from the porch as needed. I took the laptop out on the porch and did script coverage out there, because it was so pleasant. Pleasant surroundings mean a higher quality of work.

I signed up for the Dramatists Guild’s End of Play event in April. The last thing I need is to add another deadline to my plate. However, this is when the opportunity came up, and I don’t want to pass on an opportunity to work in company with other playwrights via the Dramatists Guild. I have no idea what I will write yet; be it a stage play or a radio play. I could write the next Kate Warne play; If I read the research material on Squire and Marie Bancroft between now and April 1, I could write that play (which I’d hoped to write for 365 Women this year). Or I might write something completely different. I wasn’t planning any playwrighting in April, so I need to adjust my mindset.

Again, as with Nano, I already know I can write a play in a month. I do so regularly. But this broadens my network of colleagues, and makes me sit down and write it. Whatever “it” will turn out to be.

I still have to balance The Big Project, the rewrite of CAST IRON MURDER, the draft of THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, the research for the retro mystery, and the first draft of the anthology story. Along with the client and script work that’s paying the bills.

It should make for an interesting April. I will have to be ruthless and brutal about protecting my time. Fortunately, that’s easier as a remote worker.

I also have to get my initial grant materials out early next week. The grant application and my taxes need to be my primary focus this weekend.

I spent some time trying to learn a graphics program last night. I know how to create the visuals, but I have trouble understanding how to use the program. The way it’s set up doesn’t make any sense to me.

Tessa let me sleep until a quarter to six this morning, which is a luxury.

I wrote two sections on The Big Project this morning, and now have to update my tracking sheets.

Meditation was great. This morning, I will revise the next section of CAST IRON MURDER, write a book review, enter some contest scores, and work on some information for the shared world anthology. In the afternoon, script coverage and client work. I need to do a grocery run, but will probably leave it until tomorrow.

Have a lovely day!

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Wed. March 23, 2022: Edits and A$$hats

image courtesy of Memed Nurrohmad via pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Waning Moon

Partly sunny and cold

Yesterday was a mixed day. I did a bunch of admin work once I got back from the laundromat. Then, I headed out to the library. I got the file again on The Spruces and photocopied a bunch of information out of their original brochure that I will use as research/background information for the retro mystery. They also had six books waiting for me.

Planted the tansy seeds into two pots, so I can have one pot in front and one in back. Planted some saved seeds, and did some repotting. All will be discussed in detail in tomorrow’s Gratitude and Growth post.

In the afternoon, I covered a script. There wasn’t anything in the queue when I was finished, so I switched to working on contest entries (but later, got two more scripts in the queue, that I will start today). I worked on the porch, because it was so beautiful. I’m having weird pains in my left ear. I hope I don’t get another ear infection.

Got an email from my Monthology editor. It’s time to start writing, and we have a deadline of June 24 for the first round. People with multiple monsters can either write 1 story of up to 5K with one monster and save the other for the future, integrate the monsters into a single story that fits the wordcount, or write two shorter stories. At this point, I’m going to integrate the monsters into one story, with the Gorgon being the primary protagonist and the Valkyrie being the secondary protagonist, and then, if there are future anthologies, I can shift them. The Gorgon story is almost fully formed in my head, and the Valkyrie was going to be a secondary character in it anyway, so this choice supports what I’ve been spinning, and also sets the foundation for future stories, should I have that opportunity. I think it’s a stronger choice than to have them crossing back and forth between two shorter pieces. It will also support what I hope will be a moving subplot.

If you want to learn more about this shared world anthology, you can explore it here.

Started reading Ngaio Marsh’s ARTISTS IN CRIME. I haven’t read her books for years, and I forgot how good they are.

The bank has marked the check they accused me of scamming by depositing it as “doubt collectability.” Mofos. They were dumb enough to send me a “customer experience survey” and I did not hold back. I tried to enter the virtual annual meeting – but they didn’t send a link for it, one had to access it via typing in my social security number. No. Just no. Yet more proof that NONE of this is about security and everything is about misogyny and economic discrimination.

The Republicans aren’t even pretending they’re not all paid up members of the KKK anymore. Their behavior at the SCOTUS confirmation hearings is disgusting. Of course they fear an intelligent, ethical Black woman after ramming through a Handmaiden and a sexual predator beer bro.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. The kids are so smart and engaged and compassionate. Amazing how not going to a place where they have to worry about being shot or getting COVID enchances the ability to learn.

Tessa woke me up at 4:10 AM this morning. I will be wrecked by noon. Since I had to be out the door early to go to the laundromat again, I didn’t dare go back to sleep.

Took another trip to the laundromat on foot this morning. Moon up when I left, and it was only 26F. Brrr. But I had sheets and comforters to wash, since the linens are moving toward spring, and I wanted to get caught up.

I’m starting to really enjoy my sessions at the laundromat. I get a lot done. I finished the first editing pass on the draft of CAST IRON MURDER. I went back and made notes where I want to layer in other information. Since I cut out one subplot, that would not work unless it was a central plot, I dropped another body, and I have to set up the conflict and layer it in. There were also some references that needed to start earlier.

So this means I’m ready to start the second draft of the book! I hope to work in sections of 3-5 chapters at a time. I want to say “a day” but I’m not sure I can commit to that. I hope that will also give me the momentum to get back to the first draft of THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, which has to get back on track.

After breakfast this morning, I will work on the first three chapters of CAST IRON MURDER, then take a quick break and switch to The Big Project. The afternoon is about script coverage and, if there’s still time in the workday, contest entries.

It’s supposed to rain the rest of the week, and then plunge back into the twenties over the weekend. At some point in the next few days, I’ll do a grocery run, but, for the most part, I’m going to stay home and work, with breaks to spring clean. And try to get an appointment with the mechanic. The internet was down for a little while this morning, but it seems to be sort of working again.

Have a good one, friends.

Tues. Feb. 8, 2022: Fingers Crossed For the Car

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Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Waxing Moon

Cloudy and cold

It was a scattered weekend, although I spent most of it at home. Local authorities were worried enough about the ice storm that on Friday, the college campus, the public library, city hall, etc,, were all closed. It kept moving from freezing rain to sleet to snow to sleet to freezing rain and back again all day. Not much accumulation, but treacherous.

I finished the second radio play, give both a good polish, and got them out the door. I received a very nice acknowledgement from the producer, so I’ll know something in a few weeks.

My reward was to buy Scrivener (using the discount coupon I’d earned by finishing Nano). Purchase went through, and I got a complicated, two-page email about how to install it. When not even the first step of downloading it worked. I kept getting a message that it couldn’t be downloaded securely.

I was ready to ask for my money back and to hell with Scrivener.

But two writing friends made a suggestion to download the trial version (which is the full version) and then, when I opened it, enter the license number and I’d be all set.

Which worked.

So why sent the more complicated instructions with a broken link?

By the time support had gotten back to me, it was, at least installed. I have to block off time to learn how to use it, because I hear it takes a while. And since software is a foreign language to me, it takes me longer than most people. Although, a few years ago when I looked at it, it was basically Mac’s Pages on steroids, and I had Pages, so I didn’t bother. But Apple has steadily stripped all the stuff I liked best from Pages, and hopefully Scrivener hasn’t. Plus I’m on PC now, and so unhappy with Word.

Wrote up a script coverage, read another script.

I meant to write up the second script coverage, but got sidelined into a discussion on a collaborative project, and then another work-related thing came up. I missed the live stream of my friend’s play, which I was sad about. But I had to stop everything and create something that was needed within a couple of hours, instead of by the beginning of the week, as I’d initially thought.

By the time it was all done and out the door, I was so exhausted, I couldn’t write up the coverage as well as it deserved to be written, so I put it off until Saturday morning.

The cats let me sleep until nearly 6:30 on Saturday morning. It snowed lightly on and off all day.

I finished reading THE SPIRIT IN QUESTION by Cynthia Kuhn (love this series).

Dealt with some stuff on the collaborative project.

Worked on script coverage.

Which meant the time I’d blocked off for Scrivener tutorials was eaten up by script coverage.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, which was great, except it was a different mail carrier. Instead of dropping the box at the door because it’s too big to fit in the community mail slots at the curb, he shoved it in from his side of the box, which is wider than the side where residents remove the mail.

Which means I couldn’t get the box out.

I had to come upstairs, get a pair of kitchen shears, go back down, cut it open, take everything out and dismantle the cardboard box while it was still in the mail slot. In 8-degree weather without gloves, because I couldn’t maneuver in gloves.

Not a happy camper.

Anyway, the stuff in the box was good.

The first seed order arrived; I’ll talk more about that in Thursday’s Gratitude and Growth post.

Finished reading the Cynthia Kuhn books I had, and started re-reading Joanne Dobson’s Karen Pelletier series, which I love, starting with QUIETER THAN SLEEP.

Slept in on Sunday morning. Can you imagine? The cats let me sleep until nearly a quarter to seven. Finished QUIETER THAN SLEEP and started THE NORTHBURY PAPERS, which is one of my favorites.

Stopped to do some script coverage, and also start reading the Scrivener manual. It will take a few weeks of poking around to feel comfortable, I’m sure.

Did a little brainstorming on the anthology, but I need to spend less time on that, until we have more information about deadlines and structure, and things. I turned in the material that was needed up until this point, so once we get more information on the overall structure, and start working with deadlines and word counts, I can get back to it. I’m still making my own notes, reading everyone else’s brainstorming, and seeing if/how that affects my piece.

I got one of the rudest rejection notes I’ve ever seen for a short story I submitted last week. Wow. It’s fine not to want a piece, but no need to be rude. I’ve made a note in my submission log, so that I don’t submit anything to them in the future.

Had to get my mom a new phone, because TracFone is being such a dick. Decided I’d buy her an inexpensive smartphone through them, and then, if we decided to change providers a few months down, when the car is fixed, it’s not icy, and we can actually get somewhere, we would. Put the order through, and they stepped up and she is getting it for free. Now why didn’t they just say so at the beginning? That the phones are all listed with a price (even though the offer is a free phone), but when you actually put through the order, it goes through as free?

Anyway, she should have it within three days.

My 97-year-old mother is getting a smart phone. She doesn’t want one, but that’s the only choice she had.

Worked on script coverage; wrote up a coverage, read two more scripts, started one of the coverages. Since I’m taking the car in today, I didn’t want anything due today or too early tomorrow.

Went to bed early on Sunday night. Charlotte woke me up at 1:30, then again at 3:30. Tessa was so happy I was awake that I moved to the couch and fell asleep again, oversleeping, and waking up with a migraine. Weird dreams the whole way through. Not bad ones, not stress dreams, just weird ones.

Got the list of grant possibilities out that I’d promised to a colleague.

Slogged through some emails. Wrote up a script coverage and got it out the door. Bundled up and headed to the library to drop off/pick up books. Mailed some bills. Picked up some wine. Grabbed some fast food to bring home for lunch (brought an insulated bag). Grabbed a few things from Cumberland Farms.

Got back just before it started snowing again.

Poked around Scrivener some more. I have to pick a project not on deadline to use to get familiar with it.

Wrote up another script coverage.

The fast food was good to eat in the moment, but I felt lousy afterwards, so we had fried eggs sandwiches (the old college standby) for dinner.

Finished THE NORTHBURY PAPERS and started RAVEN AND NIGHTINGALE. I love this series. I’m so glad I’m re-reading it.

Stayed up way too late reading, but it was fun.

Charlotte woke me at 4, but I rolled over and went back to sleep until Tessa woke me at 6. Fed them, yoga, writing, reading, the usual morning routine.

I have to figure out how to get the car out of the ice the plow put up against it. I have the morning to dig out, and then hopefully the car will start, and I can get it to the mechanic. They’re going to do an hour and a half diagnostic this afternoon, and hopefully, I can afford the repair. Step by step, right?

I’m taking a bunch of work with me: reading, writing, editing, including the Kindle holding the next book for review. I want to finish it before I start downloading the digital contest entries I need to read. And I want to do a readthrough of the first draft of CAST IRON MURDER, to see where I need to go in the second draft, and to support what’s going on in THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

Hopefully, tomorrow, I can get back to work on The Big Project. I’m waaay behind where I need to be on that, and I need to catch up.

I have a script coverage to finish this morning before I go to the mechanic. I have two scripts to read (one for which I was requested), but they aren’t due for a couple of days. I can choose to read or not read tonight when I get back, depending on how wiped out I am after the ordeal at the mechanic’s. Hold a good thought for me.

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.

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.

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!

Thurs. Dec. 16, 2021: Contemplation Time

image courtesy of Samuel Theo Manat via pexels.com

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Neptune Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

There’s a post over on Gratitude and Growth about the unseasonably mild weather.

Yesterday was mostly about finishimg up a stack of script coverages before the pay period closed at midnight. So I did that, and met my nut.

I made bread, the Portuguese sweet bread I’ve made dozens of times. Only this time, it didn’t work. I have no idea why. I have a doorstop instead of a loaf of bread. I didn’t do anything differently. It didn’t rise properly, so I’m not sure if I killed the yeast with water that’s too hot or if the yeast is too old. Very disappointing.

Did some decorating. There are still a couple of boxes of decorations to go on the tree, and a few more things to spread around the house.

Worked on tracking sheets for the Big Project. Figured out what I want to write for the Marie Corelli play, so I’ll get started on that today, after meditation and errands and working on the Big Project, and, hopefully, on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

Have to do some year end admin, too, which I’m not looking forward to, but it needs to get done.

Got a special holiday package from Ipsy, with products from some of my favorite makeup brands (like Maelle and Dew Tube), which was fun. And the bag is really cool, too, great for travel. And it got here before the Venus retrograde.

Venus goes retrograde on the 19th until the 29th of January. So no “new looks” or getting my hair cut or anything else. Or starting a new relationship (which wasn’t on the table anyway, because, you know, pandemic). An astrologer friend advised to just stay quiet and solitary until the next Mercury retrograde is past, too (it’s retrograde from the 14 January to the 3 February). Because Venus and Mercury are so close to each other, and those retrogrades overlap, better to be cautious. I’ve had enough chaos in the past two years.

I’m perfectly happy to remain a hermit for the next few months. It does my introverted heart good.

One foot in front of the other, right? I have some more script coverage to do in the next couple of weeks, and then maybe, maybe I can take some time off for the holidays. I’m definitely taking long weekends off, and I’m taking Yule off next Tuesday. But I’d like at least to ease up a bit between Christmas and New Year’s. I have some serious contemplating to do in that time, so that I can start 2022 with a clear head. Pandemic brain fatigue is making me struggle.

The virus numbers continue to rise, so I’ll just stay home this winter, except for the grocery store and the library. We’d expected to do that anyway, because of the weather. It’ll give us a chance to finish unpacking. That’s on hold, because of all the holiday decorations all over the place. Once those are put away, in January, we’ll look around and see what’s what.

I’m doing a tiny bit of unpacking each day, just a few things, so that I feel like I’m doing something. But I have to make some decisions about setting up the files and the project bins and the rest so that the office is efficient. It’s workable now, but it could be better.

I also have to design my quarterly Fearless Ink postcard, so that can go out in early January, to former and potential clients. Holiday cards are just that – good wishes for the holidays, no pitches or upsells. But January is time for client contact. And to refresh the brochure, so it works for where I am now, on multiple levels.

Today is mostly focused on writing and errands, with a bit of marketing thrown in.

But first, the meditation with the group from the Concord Library via Zoom. Charlotte’s favorite part of the week.

Have a good one, friends!

Thurs. Dec. 9, 2021: Trying To Cope Without the Car

image courtesy of pixabay.com

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Neptune Retrograde

Snowy and cold

I talk about snow and some of the decorating over on today’s Gratitude and Growth post.

I finally got a response from the VW dealer in Pittsfield. The earliest they can see me is next week, and they still haven’t given me the estimate I requested. Only the estimate for a diagnostic. So I will be in touch with them again.

It will mean, by the time it’s fixed, I’ve been without a car for nearly a month, in an area that’s not great on public transportation. This is not okay.

I don’t get the garages who say they “can’t” fix this issue. I remember voting on a bill – which passed – several years ago that gave all garages access to dealer information to fix any issue.

Anyway, more stress on that level.

After going back and forth with the dealer to get an appointment and try to get an estimate (there will be another email going out from me today), I decided to go ahead and get the groceries delivered. Stop & Shop sends us a circular every Wednesday, touting their delivery service in this region. So I had to go on the site, and get an account set up, which took way more steps than it should, especially since I’ve had a Stop & Shop card for years.  They had my zip code for the setup, everything seemed fine. I went through the onerous searching for the items on my list, putting them in my card, or when they were sold out, trying to find something else I could use (I need to do my holiday baking this weekend). Went through all the steps for the delivery – only to have them say they don’t deliver to my zip code. Which makes no sense, since they send me a weekly flyer to my address IN MY ZIP CODE encouraging me to try their delivery service. And the store is less than 3 miles away IN MY ZIP CODE.

They could have told me this when I set up the damn delivery account.

Totally ridiculous. And, of course, there’s no customer service email, because Stop & Shop actually providing customer service is way too out of the ballpark.

Only curbside pickup.

If I had a car I could drive to the curb, I’d go in the damn store and get the groceries myself!

Big Y (which is closer) doesn’t deliver, although they’re connected with Instacart, and, after Instacart’s assurance they could deliver in an hour, they can’t deliver to this address. The garbled message made no sense.

Hey, assholes, how about this: Don’t advertise delivery service when it doesn’t exist? How about not lying to your customers?

After that whole debacle, I wrapped and packed the packages that need to be mailed, and packed everything in a bag I can carry down to the post office tomorrow, along with the cards.

After lunch, I participated in Remote Chat, bittersweet, since it’s the second-to-last one. These colleagues helped get me through the pandemic. I will miss them.

Once Remote Chat was finished, I did some more work on the newsletter, then wrapped up and went down the street to Cinnamon Girl Apothecary, where I found the last couple of gifts I have to mail out. Brought them home, wrapped them, packed them, added them to the Post Office bag.

We received a lovely package from friends in Kentucky, of cheeses and spreads and yummy things we will enjoy.

Read three scripts, which I will write up today, once I get back from the post office and the library. I’m looking forward to this morning’s meditation session; goodness knows I need it. Although my extended yoga practice this morning and early morning meditation session went well.

Off to do some work on The Big Project. Hope I can get in some work on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY later, too. I have coverage to write up, and more scripts to read/write up, and a book to finish and review. Plus, I’d like to finish/test the newsletter draft and to get the ads up for the holiday shorts.

I think I’m going to break down my grocery list into two or three smaller chunks. I’ll walk to Big Y, dragging my upright cart, and buy what I can carry, and spread the shopping out over a few days.

Because the baking has to get done.

It already looks like I can’t make stollen this year, because I can’t get the mixed fruit peel I need. That’s a disappointment.  But I’d started stockpiling non-perishables in late October/early November, so I don’t have that much to still buy.

Fingers crossed.

Keep a good thought that the car repair is actually within my budget.

Peace, friends.

Wed. Dec. 8, 2021: The Card Writing Process

image courtesy of pinwhalestock via pixabay.com

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Snowing

Yesterday was a frustrating day, on multiple levels.

I STILL can’t get a mechanic to answer me about the car. INCLUDING THE FUCKING DEALER. What the hell is WRONG with these people? If they’re too incompetent, disorganized, and unethical to give me a written estimate, why would I believe they were even capable of fixing the car? No wonder this area is economically depressed, with that level of unprofessionalism.

However, getting the laundry done wasn’t tough at all. That little upright cart is wonderful.

When I got back, I unloaded and put things away; after breakfast, it looked ominous, so off I trundled to CVS to pick up what needed picking up there, and mail some bills at the post office. It wasn’t bad at all – about a mile and a half round trip, and what I had to carry wasn’t heavy.

Got through a ton of email, and got out a few LOIs. Then found out that the Fearless Ink site was glitching. Of course it was, since that was the one I needed up and working for the LOIs. But my lovely host helped me get it fixed.

Worked on the newsletter. I hope to get a test out later today, and then send out the newsletter either tomorrow or Friday. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here.

I’d gotten a good bit of work done on the outline for The Big Project (at least the details of the first third’s arc; the piece has three major arcs, leading into each other, not in tandem). But I hadn’t gotten any actual writing done on it, or on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. By lunchtime, I accepted the fact it just wasn’t going to happen yesterday.

I spent the afternoon, instead, writing the domestic cards, and got them done. I’ve put aside the cards that go in with the packages. I’ll wrap packages today. I want to get everything out to the post office tomorrow. I still have a couple of things to pick up, which I haven’t been able to do because of the lack of a car. Two gifts, I think I can just walk up to the place where I want to get them, so that’s not an issue, but the other is in Williamstown, and I have to drive.

I enjoy writing cards, but I handwrite everything, and every card has something different written in it, because my relationship with each person is different, so it takes awhile. There weren’t that many cards this year – just over 50. I remember years when I had closer to 500, years when I’d worked on multiple shows and was sending cards to everyone on the contact lists.

There’s choosing the right card for the person (I like to buy a bunch of different boxes of cards), there’s writing it, there’s addressing it, there’s putting the holiday stamp on it. Yes, I’m big on choosing specific stamps. It’s quite the process.

As part of my “letting go of the past” process, there were a bunch of names dropped from this year’s list; people to whom I’ve written cards for years, and never heard back, either by mail or email. Some of them are just people with an “I don’t write cards” policy, which is perfectly valid; however, it’s time for me to stop putting my energy there.

There are a bunch of people who stay on the list, because the winter holidays are the only time we’re in touch, but we’re in touch, and it’s a nice catch up.

Holiday cards are a Big Deal for me. Can you tell?

But they’re done, and there’s a nice big stack on the hall table, ready to go out. I thought of a couple more to write this morning. I still have some holiday stamps left over, so it’s all good.

They’re filming something over at the college across the street. I recognized the production trailers. That’s probably why the clock hasn’t been chiming the last few days – can’t have the clock chime interrupting the take!

Part of me was tempted to wander over and see what was going on, and then I realized how disrespectful that was. These people are WORKING. Having spent enough time on sets, where there’s never enough time to get everything done, the last thing they need is some rando demanding attention, even if said rando is me and I used to work in the business.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. There’d been some talk amongst us, now that the adults and teens are vaxxed and boosted, and the younger kids are getting vaxxed, about some of them going back to in-person learning after the winter holidays. But with the numbers going back up (they doubled in this state in the past week), we’re not. The kids are doing well in their studies, they’re learning more and more widely than they would in school, and, as one of them pointed out, they don’t have to worry they’ll be shot. So, the consensus is everyone stays out of the school buildings this year. The ones who live where online learning is not an option, because they’re trying to force the kids back into school (and then act surprised when people are getting sick) have switched to being home schooled.

I see parents on social media talking about how “angry” they are when they send their kid to school and the kid gets sick. What the hell did they think would happen? Come on, people. Have a little bit of common sense.

Several of the parents are switching off days going in to work, so that one parent is home any given day. Other parents are in situations that have allowed them to continue working remotely. Still other parents have changed jobs, because, in a case where they have to choose between their employer and their child, they choose their child, and they have the skills that allow them so to do.

After Knowledge Unicorns was done for the night, I switched Zooms over to the Annual meeting for the food co-op. They’re really well run, with an outstanding general manager and an engaged, active board. Not a lot of people showed up at the virtual meeting, which I thought showed a lack of responsibility on the membership, but I was glad I was there. And Charlotte, who loves Zoom, had a great time.

I’m really pleased I found them, and it’s an honor to be a part of this organization, that’s active not just within the four walls of the business, but actively trying to make life better in the community.

Tessa let me sleep until nearly 6 this morning. I sent another frustrated email to the dealer, and actually got an automated response back, so maybe, maybe this time someone will actually respond and I can get the damn car fixed.

In the meantime, it’s snowing like crazy. I think it will be more than the predicted 2 inches.

I have writing to do today, and script coverage, and some other client work. And there’s Remote Chat. The group is ending in two weeks, which makes me sad. They’ve helped me get through the week for the last few years, and through some tough times. But things change, and I’m grateful for the time I had in it.

In the meantime, in between tasks, I will enjoy watching the snow fall!

Have a good one.

Tues. December 7, 2021: Maybe Your Business is Struggling Because You’re Unprofessional

image courtesy of Matryx via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold; incoming snow

The past few days have been up and down.

I lost far too much of Friday. I tried to find a mechanic to fix the car – no one would get back to me with a response and an estimate, including the dealer. What kind of business model is that?

According to AAA, the nearest of their certified mechanics is in Bennington, VT. I shouldn’t have to cross state lines to get my damn car fixed.

On top of that, I was trying to integrate MooSend, the platform to which I’d exported my mailing list, to my website, so people can easily subscribe on the website, it goes over to the MooSend mailing list, and they get the next newsletter. Only it wouldn’t integrate. I asked tech support for help, and they sent me links to articles where the steps in the article didn’t match what was coming up on my screen. I went into their Live Chat. The guy sent me the same articles. I told him that I’d tried all that already, and that’s why I was on Live Chat. Because it wasn’t working. He kept telling me to do stuff that didn’t come up on my screen. I’d send him screen shots to show him what was on my screen and what I should do with what was actually coming up, and it just went round and round for hours. He walked away from the chat after a couple of hours. Some other guy came on, a few minutes later – and sent me the article. Hadn’t read any of the notes or looked at the screen shots. I told him to forget it, I was going to a competitor.

In meantime, on the website, I got a flash of something that needed to be updated. I tried to update, and it didn’t work. I contacted my host, A2, and asked for the steps, since clicking the update didn’t work. The tech asked permission to enter the account, I gave it, and the glitch was fixed in less than five minutes.

I thought maybe the MooSend integration would then work, but nope. Still the same issues. So I disconnected all the MooSend plug-ins.

I did some research on other platforms. I knew I didn’t want Constant Contact or Robly. I considered MailChimp, and sent them some questions, which were ignored. They weren’t top of my list anyway, so that was no big deal.

So I looked at Sendinblue, and that seemed to have what I needed. I set up an account, which was easy as could be. I imported my contact list, easy as could be. I downloaded the plug-in to the website. Easy as could be. Activated it, set up the new form, and it seems to work.

I’ve written most of the text for the newsletter, and played with templates. Starting from scratch and building it myself seems to work the best for me, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ll play with it some more, send a test to myself. If that works, the newsletter will go out this week, and the quarterly deliveries will start up again, with occasional special announcements in between.

If you haven’t signed up, and you’d like to, you can do so here.

Getting everything set up on Sendinblue took about 30-40 minutes, including all verifications, API keys, plug-ins, etc. Meanwhile, I’d lost three hours with MooSend’s useless “support.”

Hopefully, I’ll remain happy at Sendinblue, at least for a while.

I was grumpy and exhausted by the end of it all. I hadn’t had time to get the promotions for the holiday shorts “Just Jump in and Fly” and “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall” up. I did manage to do some work on the notes for The Big Project and for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY.

I did my script coverages. I read the next book for review, which was charming and delightful, and got a good review.

After my pity party, I sat down with Cherie Priest’s GRAVE RESERVATIONS, her newest release. I sat and read until after midnight. I loved it, and did not want to put it down.

Tessa got me up on Saturday around 5:30-ish, which is acceptable. Once I’d fed everyone and they were settled again, I sat on the couch and finished GRAVE RESERVATIONS. Loved it so much. I hope she writes more with these characters, because they are a delight.

I let her know, via tweet, how much I loved the book.

Then, it was time to buckle down to my own work. I did some more work on the outline for The Big Project, and did the first draft of the first chapter, which came in at 1282 words. I’m looking for the chapters to be between 1-1.5K and not more than 2K on any given chapter, and, on this particular project, the structure has to be impeccable, or it will all fall apart. Because it’s complex, I have to keep a careful set of tracking sheets, updating it preferably every chapter, but not more than every three. Or I will get myself into a tangle.

I had a ton of fun writing the chapter, although I had to stop and make decisions on the way about details. They can’t be layered in later, because they are vital to the way the piece builds. Details can be polished or cut or moved in edits, but the first draft has to be what a usual third draft for me usually is.

Still, it was a good feeling to get it done.

The sky looked rather ominous by the time I was finished. I wrapped up for the weather and walked down to the wine store for a couple of bottles of wine, and stopped at Cumberland Farms at the end of the street for eggs and coffee. You know, the essentials: eggs, wine, coffee.

The whole thing was a little over a mile on foot, round trip, and nothing was very heavy. But I’m still not up to full strength after the vaccine booster, and was pretty shaky by the time I got home.

Does not bode well if I have to walk to Big Y and back for a big grocery shop, even with my little upright rolling cart. That round trip would be a little over three miles. Might consider taking a taxi back.

After lunch, I spent some time on the acupressure mat, which I hadn’t done all week. Once I was realigned there, I got up and wrote up the script coverage I had to do.

Leftovers for dinner, and then I did the revision on “A Rare Medium.”

Read some of the Marie Corelli research, but fell asleep fairly early.

Slept through the night, and Tessa didn’t wake me until nearly 6:30 on Sunday. After I fed them, I tried a new banana bread recipe, and, when I didn’t like the way it was turning out, tossed in some chocolate chips, which saved it. Still, not a recipe I’d use again.

I wrote the second chapter of The Big Project, which came in longer than I’d hoped (a little over 2K), but that’s what it needed to be. Felt good. Had lots of fun with it.

Switched over to decorating. We put up some of the Command hooks and put decorations on all the doors. We put multiple garlands on the bannisters, and threaded them through with lights. We put the lights up on the front porch, along with the small tree decorated in silver and blue, that used to be in my office at the other house. I put some battery-operated tall candles in the windows, although I don’t yet have the batteries for them.

It looks really pretty.

I admit, on Friday night, I considered not doing any more decorating this year. No trees, nothing. It all felt like too much.

But then I thought, I’m the one who loves all the decorations, and it’s a form of self-punishment not to put them up. And putting them up on Sunday made me happy, both the actual doing it, and then enjoying it.

It was the Second of Advent, so we lit the two candles. Plus our big, scented Christmas candle. And it was St. Nicholas night – time to put out the shoe, so it can be filled with candy!

Which made for a happy wakeup on Monday.

Charlotte started bothering me at 4:30, but Tessa let me sleep until just after 5.

Morning longhand writing session in, then yoga and meditation. Those practices suffered last week when I was so laid out from the booster, and I suffered as a result. So back to yoga, and I’m slowly expanding my morning practice.

Wrote the third chapter on The Big Project, and had a blast with it. It came in at just under 1800 words, pretty good. Then, I switched over and did just over 1300 words on THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, and had fun with that. It’s weird, not working in full chapters with that, but there’s only so much I can do.

In and around those two projects, I was still trying to find a fucking mechanic to fix the fucking car. What the hell is wrong with these “businesses”? Can’t respond or give an estimate. Finally got a response from one – who can’t fix a VW. That mechanic recommended another one, whom I contacted and – no response.

After THE KRINGLE CALAMITY, I put in the revisions on “A Rare Medium”, found a few more things to fix, formatted it properly, got in the needed information, saved as PDF, and got it out the door. Ahead of schedule.

Phew.

I’d forgotten to turn on the crockpot, so it had to be on high all afternoon.

Did my script coverage, and got out a book review. Dinner was great; the recipe worked well. After dinner, I did more Marie Corelli research. I have a good sense of the character; now I need the incident in her life to dramatize.

The lovely chiming tower clock over at the college stopped around mid-morning. I miss it. I didn’t realize how much I used it to keep track of my day, and how much joy it brought me.

Went through the materials for tonight’s Wild Oats Board Meeting.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived, and it’s delightful. I love it when they include fuzzy socks, and these have little hour glasses embroidered on them.

Sorted the laundry before bedtime. Got up at 5 (Tessa was just doing her warmup scales). Got everyone fed, got myself dressed and the first writing session done. Then piled the laundry and the washing materials and my work bag into the little upright rolling cart that’s been in the family since 1969 and rolled the laundry down the street to the laundromat.

As usual, I was the only one there, but it wasn’t creepy. Got the laundry loaded up, then sat down and worked on tightening the point-by-point notes for The Big Project, so that I don’t go off on tangents. Realized I have to do an insert to the second days’ work, in order to keep one of the running jokes going. There has to be a reference in every chapter. The Big Project relies on impeccable structure, along with engaging characters, quick dialogue, and a rip- roaring plot. So taking the time to polish the outline saves me a lot of pain and time later in the process.

After breakfast, I need to do a run to CVS for a couple of things. Fortunately, it’s in walking distance, but it’ll be about an hour round trip. Debating whether or not I should stop by the library while I’m in that direction, or wait until Thursday.

We have a storm coming in today, and snow tomorrow. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a mechanic today and schedule the repair for Thursday or Friday. This is ridiculous. If I can’t trust someone to be capable of the technology of answering an email and/or giving me an estimate, why would I think they have the skills to repair my car?

Once I get back, it’s back to work on today’s words for The Big Project and THE KRINGLE CALAMITY. I have to get the ads going for the two holiday shorts, and finish the newsletter.

Then, it’s back to script coverage and client work. With any luck, I’ll get out a few LOIs, too.

But, for the moment, I’m back on the pavement, getting my errands done. We’re definitely getting a storm; pre-storm headache in full force.

Fri. Dec. 3, 2021: And the Holiday Break is Blown

image courtesy of mohamed hassan via pixabay.com

Friday, December 3, 2021

Dark moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and chilly

Yesterday was a mishmash of a day. Meditation was great, and Charlotte sat with me.

After breakfast, I got through a bunch of email, and then wrote up my script coverage and sent it off. It took longer than I thought.

Headed off to the post office and the library. The librarian who checked me out was planning to get the Moderna booster after two Pfizers, and thought she’d be able to work tomorrow and Saturday. I wished her well, although I seriously doubt she’ll be able so to do.

Headed to Stop & Shop to see if they have the candied fruit peels I need for the stollen. No luck.

When I got back to the car, I had trouble starting it, and when I finally did, the EPC light was on, which scared the heck out of me. I didn’t dare go to Wild Oats or to the Chinese restaurant in Williamstown, where I planned to get our lunch.

I headed back home instead, worried I wouldn’t make it. Got the car into the lot, did a little research on EPC, which seems like a manageable repair, if I can find someone to do it. I really don’t want to take it to the VW dealer in Pittsfield, because I’m afraid they’ll do what the dealer on Cape did, overcharging and always trying to force more than necessary repairs. But the mechanic I used here can’t do it. And Pittsfield didn’t respond. So I don’t know what to do.

I can’t afford a huge repair. And even if it’s not that huge a repair, there goes any hope of taking any time off during the holidays. Which just sends me into all kinds of depression and despair because I am burned out. But I have to get it fixed before I get the registration switched over and get the car inspected by the end of the year.

So today will be about finding a decent, reliable mechanic who can do the job. I’m going to contact the head of the regional networking group (that replaced the chamber of commerce) to see if he can recommend someone.

Because so many of the listed “mechanics” around here don’t even have a basic website, and if a “business” doesn’t have a website by 2021, I’m not trusting that it’s legitimate.

Why couldn’t this have happened in January, for goodness’ sake!

In a fit of pique, I ordered from a Chinese place not far away and had it delivered by Door Dash. It wasn’t expensive, I wanted Chinese food damn it, and so I stuck to the plan. Plus, it was fun watching the car come on the map.

And, on a happier note, the package Amazon misdelivered wasn’t in Pittsfield, it was to a house down the street. They were away for the holiday and just found it. They asked The Lovely Postman if he would walk it down the street to me, and he did, apologizing profusely that he hadn’t been around last week to fix the problem. I told him no worries; I was just glad to have it. Especially since Amazon had no interest in either tracking it down or giving me a refund. Because I sure as hell wasn’t going to trust them to replace it.

The package was Deborah Blake’s latest release, DOGGONE DEADLY, her second Catskills Pet Rescue mystery, and, in a further fit of pique, when I couldn’t get answers from anyone, I sat down and read it. It was a good stress reliever. And one of the parents stepped up to take last night’s Knowledge Unicorns, because I still wasn’t up for it.

Slept like the dead, and dreamed that a friend of mine appeared in the chorus of a Broadway production of WEST SIDE STORY at the Belasco Theatre, in a gorgeous green and gold, fifties-inspired dress. We’ll ignore the fact that she’s as much of a backstage person as I am, and wouldn’t go onstage. The dream is obviously tied to the death of Sondheim, and the fact that I worked on his FOLLIES revival at the Belasco, so my memories of working with him are tied to that theatre.

One positive side effect of the Pfizer booster is I’m sleeping through the nights.

Charlotte woke me up when she was chasing her tail on the bed. She caught it, bit it, and cried when it hurt. Poor thing. She’s usually smart, except when it comes to catching her tail.

Tessa wasn’t too bad this morning.

I’m working on the notes for THE KRINGLE CALAMITY (I plan to start it on Monday), and then I have a script to read/cover, before dealing with email and finding a reliable mechanic. I won’t be able to get the car fixed until at least Monday, which means I can’t get any of the errands I planned to do this weekend (like grocery shopping) done efficiently. If I need to, I can take my upright trolley and walk to Big Y, do a fairly light shopping, and roll it back. Don’t say “order online and get it delivered.” They won’t get it right and will do unacceptable substitutions.

Hopefully, I can get more work done on the outline for The Big Project later, because I’d like to start it tomorrow. I also have to do the domestic holiday cards, and get the packages wrapped. There are still a couple of gifts I have to get, so I better hurry up and get them from places in walking distance soon, so I can mail everything off next week.  I also have to do more decorating. I’d hoped to get the tree up this weekend, but who knows. I also have to figure out how to tie my website to MooSend for the newsletter signup, finish the newsletter, and get the promotions done for the holiday shorts. Can’t pay the for the ads I hoped to run until I know how much the car repair bill is.

And worry about the car repair bill.

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