Tues. Sept. 13, 2022: Fun With Friends

image courtesy of Fancycrave1 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mercury

Cloudy and humid

I completely forgot to post an intention for the week yesterday; I knew I’d scheduled something to post, and it was for the GDR site, not this one. Oops.

Friday and Saturday were about getting the house ready for guests, and cooking ahead somewhat (making the potato salad and the curried chicken salad and the black bean soup, etc.). Sunday morning, I put the chicken in the crockpot and made the devilled eggs.

My friends arrived a little before 11. We got them settled, and then I drove them around for the basic tour of the town, ending up at Windsor Lake. In the afternoon, we just caught up chatting and decided what to do on Monday. We ate and yakked and had a good time.

Tessa remembered one of my friends from his trips to the Cape. It was funny, because at first she didn’t, until she did. Charlotte and Willa had never met either of them. Willa was friendly, but Charlotte was anxious she was being given away, and hid most of the time.

We were up early on Monday, had a leisurely breakfast, and then headed out. I showed them the library (the building is beautiful) and then we spent the rest of the morning at MassMOCA. The space is enormous, and there’s only so much you can see before the brain fries.

But we saw Kellie Rae Adams’s very intense installation “Forever in Your Debt” which was just amazing. There was also an exhibit of Louse Bourgeois marble and metal sculptures I’d never seen before, Laurie Anderson’s fascinating, personal pieces,  Gunnar Schoenbeck’s musical art, Richard Nielsen’s set of 48 masked paintings, a group exhibit of Ceramics in the Expanded Field, and a kind of graffiti/pop art/neon set of rooms.

It was all fascinating. I often wonder how different the story I receive from these pieces is from the story the artist told. It’s such an education in different ways of telling stories that don’t all rely on words on pages, and how different textures, colors, and juxtapositions stimulate responses.

Definitely an inspiration to keep experimenting with different types of storytelling.

We came home for lunch, and then headed down to Lenox to The Mount (Edith Wharton’s home) to walk the grounds, visit the sculpture installation, and my favorite, the sunken garden. We had tea on the terrace and headed back. It was hotter and more humid than I’d expected.

More snacks, more cooking, dinner, and talking.

Charlotte got a little more comfortable as time went on, but I think she needed a couple more days to really make friends.

Charlotte woke me up at 3:15 this morning to let me know it was raining, so I could put the bucket out on the porch under the leak (it’s on the landlord’s list). Her work was done and she went back to sleep, but I was up. For a while there, it monsooned, but it tapered off.

I made Eggs Benedict for breakfast, and they got back on the road by about 8:30, in case the rain slowed them down.

It was a good visit with good friends with whom I have a long history of laughter and creativity.

Stripped the beds and prepared the laundry. I have to get back to work now, and get some stuff done today.

We’ll be out of the house mid-morning tomorrow, because my mom gets Covid Shot #5.

Episode 15 of LEGERDEMAIN drops today; I hope you enjoy it.

Have a good one!

Tues. July 26, 2022: Protocols, Performance, Persistence

garden sculputre installation at The Mount

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Sunny, cooler, less humidity

Hot, busy weekend.

Friday wasn’t quite as hot as Thursday, mostly because there was cloud cover, but the humidity was oppressive. Once the plants were watered on the front porch, we closed it off and let it be a greenhouse for the day, which helped keep the rest of the house cooler. And we kept the blinds closed on the east side of the house, and the lace curtains drawn on the south side. The lace lets in enough light, but blocks some of the heat.

I did some admin/organizational stuff, noodled on my article, and then turned around the script I had in the late morning/early afternoon. I made a pasta salad in the morning that could cool in the fridge for dinner, so we didn’t have to think about cooking or preparing anything.

I rehearsed my portion of the poem, working on rhythm and voice placement. What made me smile is that we just moved into Leo season – a season to shine, to share, to perform – and here’s the performance date.

I finished reading the next book for review.

The request for mail-in ballots arrived, and we filled them out and returned them. The mail-in option makes it easier (and safer) for this year’s voting.

I was invited to an artists’ resource meeting, but the day and the date didn’t match up. I emailed them for clarification. If the day of the week is correct, I can’t make it this month. If the date is correct, I can. At any rate, it’s a group with which I’d like to work, and if I can’t do it this month, I hope I can next month. They even are meeting outside this month, to make it safer.

It was tough to get to sleep Friday night because of the humidity, but I managed,

I should have worked on the Topic Workbooks, but I was too hot and tired and grumpy. I am very much a Winter Girl, not a Summer Girl.

Started feeling all kinds of doubt and uncertainty on Saturday morning again. Part of it was stage nerves for that afternoon’s performance. I am not a performer; I write for performers. I am a behind-the-scenes person. But there are enough of us in this event (50) that it’s about collective creation and collective experience, and there isn’t pressure on me to do more than be in the moment (and get my first & last words right, to keep the flow going).

Another part is also with the Topic Workbook and the serial launching in the upcoming weeks, there’s the whole pressure of now it’s out in the world, and no longer in my control. It’s 50-50. Some people are going to love these pieces & find them helpful or interesting; others won’t. There will always be those who are condescending and make nasty comments. Not that they ever create anything themselves; but they talk about what they’ll do some day while slam others. That’s the reality of the business.

I remind myself: They are not my target audience.

I remind myself: The previous negative reality is not my current positive reality. I am building something new here. That means taking risks, creatively and personally. Not all of them are going to work the way I want them to. But I still need to do it.

Because the alternative is a day job outside of my field, and that is the ultimate last resort.

I cut out a rant from this post about wanna-be writers who think they know more than those of us earning our living in the industry,  because I don’t feel like focusing on them today.

Saturday morning, I had to run out and get a hat. Early, when it was easy to stay ten or more feet away from anyone else in the store. There’s no way I could make it through the event without a hat. I have a whole collection of wonderful hats – in storage. So I ran out to a store that was likely to have workable hats. I couldn’t decide between two in the store, they were both affordable, so I bought both.

I did not go to the Farmers’ Market. I knew the heat would wear me out; I also didn’t want to risk exposure to anyone who might be sluffing off virus, and then bringing it to the event. I missed it, though. I missed the beautiful produce and the friendly, engaging farmers, and the other market regulars I chat with every week.

Took the rest of the morning to rest, read, rehearse. Packed my bag for the event. Took a shower, slathered on sunscreen, braided my hair that I wasn’t able to get cut in time, the whole thing.

I was proud of myself for breaking the usual pattern, which would have been to work myself into the ground all morning, and then feel frantic and unsettled when it was time to go. I gave myself time and rest. I knew it would be hot and humid and challenging, so I made sure, for once, not to sabotage myself.

I left around 2:30, to give myself time in case I hit tourist traffic. I did vocal exercises in the car, and rehearsed my little bit (all those years working musicals have application in the real world). I made decent time to get to The Mount, and got there around 3:30. Walked through the gardens to get to the house, where we were meeting. The sun dappled through the trees in nuanced light that was both beautiful and spooky. The phone’s camera made it look lighter than it was.

We assembled. They had us on chairs on either side of the path that wound down around the side of the house, odds and evens. We lobbed our parts of the poem back and forth across the path, with the audience on the path. I was number 9 (being one of the early poets to sign up and create my bit). So Number 7 was next to me. He lobbed the final word of his poem to Number 8, across the path, who started with the last word of his poem as the first word of her poem. She lobbed back across to me. The last word of her poem was the first word of my poem. I lobbed to number 10, across the path, whose first word of her poem was the last word of my poem, who lobbed it to Number 11, next to me, whose first word was the last word of the previous poem, and so forth and so on.

The audience moved through us as we spoke. They moved through us in waves, so when the first group reached the bend (about half way through), the next group started with the first poet again, so there were multiple vocals happening at any given time, and we had to be present to the poets around us, while aware of what was going on above and below us on the path.

There were a few poets who couldn’t be there. The agreement was that, if someone couldn’t be there, that individual was responsible for sending a proxy. There were several who did so, and that was great. There were a couple of people who didn’t, and a couple who didn’t show up or let anyone know, and that put unnecessary pressure on the poets who were there. Someone early in the poem couldn’t run down and cover for someone late in the poem, because by that point, the next wave of audience was coming through. So the organizers had to work out who could move a few chairs to read a missing poet’s bit, and then get back to their original chair to perform their own bit again in time.

It worked, mostly because there were enough experienced performers to flow, and the first-timers like me, who were trying to get a handle on what was going on and feel the rhythm, weren’t put under that additional pressure.

In other words, the organizers took care of the performers, instead of expecting the performers to fix things that happened at the last minute.

And the overall poem did build a flow and a rhythm. It was amazing. Somehow, even though we didn’t know anything about the poets and their poems on either side while we wrote, it all came together.

There were poets of all ages and from all over the place. I walked in with a poet from Northampton (who used to be a production coordinator for the Boston Ballet, so we had a good talk about backstage). The woman next to me and her daughter (numbers 11 & 13) were from Gloucester, MA, and each wrote a segment as something fun to do together. There was a family of six – wife, husband, two teen daughters, and their dogs – who each did a segment (they were spread out amongst everyone. And only the humans created poems, although the dogs performed with their humans). I think they’re from upstate NY. They told me they love to “poem together” and grab any opportunity to be part of public art events like this. There was a woman across and down a few who’s stage managing a show with a theatre company with whom I had contact awhile back, and I hope I get to see the show. The guy who led the playwrights’ workshop I attended a few weeks ago wasn’t in it (he’d planned to, but dropped out when he couldn’t be there, so another poet could step in and take his place with their own work, instead of someone reading as a proxy). But one of my fellow playwrights was there, and we had a good catch-up natter. There was another woman who’s a part of a poetry group that creates and performs social justice public art.

It was great to be part of a group that had NO Trumpers in it, and no both-siders and right-wing apologists. No one pursing their thin little lips claiming they “don’t do politics” when in reality, they support extremists.  In fact, a good deal of the poetry was political. Quite a few of the older poets, men and women, a few years ahead of me in age and experience, were talking about how they’d fought/marched/voted/protested for Civil Rights and Roe the first time around, and here we are again.

It was a dog, kid, family inclusive event. Several poets brought partners or family members who set up camp chairs nearby and watched/listened or read a book or worked on their own writing.

No one was told to tone down their language, and the audience was warned of the possibility of strong language. As far as I know, no one complained.

They’d put out a buffet for us up at the Terrace Café (it’s a spectacular view). They’d told us they’d have snacks for us, but there was real food to make sandwiches (and gluten free options) and salads and fruit and lemonade and raspberry tea and all that. They watered us well throughout, to make sure we were hydrated and didn’t faint. The chairs were in the shade. The audience was kept in the front courtyard until showtimes, with lemonade and cookies.

Originally, we were supposed to do the full poem 4 times through. However, so many people signed up that, for both vocal projection’s sake and safety’s sake, they split up the audience for the first couple of shows; hence the waves of audience members. So what were originally scheduled as the first two performances turned into four performances.

Each performance built a unique rhythm and flow. As the poets got more comfortable with each other, we could try different inflections with the same words, and lob the bits back and forth more easily.

We poets also kept moving our chairs back. We knew we were all fully vaccinated and had tested negative that day before showing up, but there was no way to trust that the audience was the same. Since the audience didn’t pay attention to the social distancing, we made it happen by enlarging the distance.

After the first four shows, we had a break to eat. One of the poets was bored with saying the same thing over and over, so he rewrote his poem in the break (keeping the first and last word, per the agreement). A couple of people joked that they’d never remember everyone’s name, but they could remember everyone’s content. For instance, I became “Lilac” because I had lilacs in my poem, and the image of “frothy lilacs” stuck in people’s heads. So, you know, any event I do from here on in, I’ll be “Lilac.” I can live with that.

After the break, we had two more shows. Because of time, the groups couldn’t be split up this time around. They were larger; we pulled our chairs back farther from the path and projected more. The heat and humidity were taking a toll, even with all the precautions.

During the final performance, as we completed our bits, we folded in behind the audience (at a safe distance), so that we were all together at the end and could celebrate.

We were all pretty much hurting by then (even the puppies were tired), but we celebrated each other, and were invited to a couple more of these creations, given our travel stipends, and then headed out.

The walk back to the parking lot seemed to take forever. I managed to get home in only 40 minutes (not much traffic), but as the adrenalin wore off, it was a challenge.

Dashed up the stairs, ordered Chinese food for delivery, and jumped in the shower to hose down and decontaminate. Even with some protocols in place, there were still a lot of people involved in the day. My throat was raw and everything hurt, and I knew I’d put myself at risk.

Popped the prosecco, though, and sucked down a couple of glasses along with the Chinese food. It took awhile to unwind. As a non-performer, and also as someone who’s used to writing by myself and then it either goes into the world, or, in the case of a play, it goes into rehearsal with a finite group before going out into the world, it was quite a new experience. But that sense of excitement, creating with others, trusting in them, and then INVITING the audience to experience it with us instead of PRESENTING TO the audience as pretty incredible.

Even if I don’t participate in the next couple of events (one of them, a haiku contest where content is created in the moment, is not something I could even consider doing), I might go as an audience member and support my fellow poets.

I finally collapsed into bed. I woke up around midnight and drank a bottle of water. My throat felt awful. I woke up again at 3 and did the same. Sunday, I rested. I drank tea and water. I took Slippery Elm (which I should have taken before I left, but I didn’t think of it). I’m not used to talking that much, or projecting outdoors. Of course it’s going to leave my throat and voice raw. I read.

Again, the usual pattern would have been to push myself and run myself down even more, probably winding up sick with a cold, if I managed to avoid the plague. At the very least, running myself down would give any exposure to the virus more traction.

So I rested.

I had to run out mid-day for a few errands – pick up my mother’s prescription and get her a new blood pressure monitor, get in some groceries, since I didn’t go to the market on Saturday. Just that little bit wore me out. The heat and humidity were oppressive.

I managed to do another read-through of the next chapters I have to upload for LEGERDEMAIN. I did some work on my article on Saturday morning, but didn’t do any work on Sunday. I put some hooks up in my mom’s closet, hung up some of the copper molds in the kitchen, and hung a quilt on the living room wall.

That was it.

Went to bed at the normal time. Tessa got me up early on Monday. I was still a little tired, but overall felt decent. Still just not loving the heat and humidity.

There’s a post on the GDR site about enjoying the week. There’s a lot going on, and I want to enjoy it.

THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS released on Monday. I’m proud of all the Topic Workbooks, but I think this one will help a lot of people who get scattered among too many projects.

A ridiculous amount of email piled up over the weekend, so I slogged my way through that. Did the postings of the daily prompt on the site where I couldn’t schedule the posts. Wrote the thank-yous for the event. Signed up for a yoga class. Signed up for an online cooking class at Kripalu, with my beloved Chef Jeremy, and even received a scholarship to attend. Checked in with my friend about my upcoming visit, provided I test negative the morning I’m supposed to leave. Packed for the trip.

Kept track to see if I’m showing any symptoms, or if I felt bad. I mean, I was grumpy in the heat and humidity, and I was tired (hey, I’m not 20 anymore), but overall, I feel fine. My throat was a little raw for a couple of days, but steadily felt better. My voice is still a little scratchy, but I don’t talk much during the course of the day, so that’s to be expected.

Turned around a script and some questions on a previous script I’d covered. Grabbed some shorts to turn around today. I’ve been steadily working on the Italian every day. I’m definitely learning vocabulary, but I’m not understanding sentence construction.

Did some work on a grant proposal, and noodled around with my article and with an idea tossed out by Word X Word.

It was hot and humid when I went to bed, but much better upon getting up this morning. I feel like I can be much more productive today, and I kind of have to be. There are a slew of errands to run late this morning, after I get some work done on the article, the Topic Workbooks, and getting the next LEGERDEMAIN episodes uploaded.

This afternoon, I turn around the three shorts. In the late afternoon, I head out to Greylock Works for a 1Berkshires Entrepreneur meeting at Berkshire Cider. It’s inside, so yes, I’ll be masked.

Someone contacted me about a content writing position. I have to take a look at the details. On the surface, the money looks outstanding, but I need to know more about it.

Hope you had a good weekend, and let’s work toward a good week!

Tues. July 20, 2021: Enjoying the Differences

image courtesy of kareni via pisabay.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Chiron Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

I’m starting to wonder if I will ever stop feeling like crap. I’m still achy and fatigued all the time.

It was a good, fairly restful weekend. I got my script coverage done by late Friday afternoon, and didn’t have to worry about it all weekend.

There was a good bit of rain, but I managed to get some errands done Saturday morning, in between storms. I met the husky puppy two doors down, and a lovely, sleek black cat in the parking lot where the car now lives when not in use (who had a lot to tell me). People are better about masking and social distancing here than they were on Cape. No surprise that COVID cases are on the uptake with a cluster around Provincetown, etc.

Read a lot this weekend, including re-reading some Terry Pratchett, and reading a book by a popular author using a trope of which I’m sick. I’m sick of the trope of leaving the city to go back to the hometown and reconnecting with one’s first love. Yes, it’s fantasy. It can also be toxic. It also shows a lack of growth from teen years.

Was assigned another book to review, which I will start this morning, while I’m at the laundromat.

Got some unpacking done (not enough, but rooms are slowly taking shape). Put up a pretty lace curtain at the front door, instead of the broken blinds. Put up most of the wind chimes. Have a nice little reading corner set up in my office.

I hate being separated from so many of my books and dishes. It’s painful. Also, because I have bookcases of varying shapes, heights, and sizes, I can’t store my books by subject, but I have to put them where they fit. At least for the moment.

Trying to find a good routine, one that also works for the cats, because they love their routines.

Sunday night, I was approached by the Cape Cod Writers Center. One of their instructors for their online conference dropped out due to a family emergency, so I was asked to take over the class. I’m happy to do so. It’s on Character, and I have some ideas that hopefully will help the participants. I’m trying to keep it along the lines of the original class blurb, and what they signed up for, although I’ll probably push them a little harder. And they will have handouts, because I am the Queen of Handouts.

I got to work on Monday, playing with ideas for the class. I did a short piece for the Llewellyn Almanac, got some script coverage done. Started rereading Gail Godwin’s QUEEN OF THE UNDERWORLD. There was a point where I loved her writing, until she got so obsessed with religion, and I want to see how I still feel about it, years later. I read two volumes of her journal, which were interesting to a point, but she’s so obsessed with boys (not men, boys) and always puts them ahead of her writing, which gets tedious. I see a glimmer of that in the beginning of this book, the protagonist doing so, and I hope that’s not the case.

I submitted a short story to a call, and several calls for plays landed in my inbox – I might even have relevant plays to submit. I will get to that today and tomorrow. I want to get back to have 13 in Play all the time – always have at least 13 pieces out there, earning their way in the world.

I got through a few hundred emails. Still catching up from the move.

Slowly, slowly easing back into creative life. I want to meet the other artists around here – I have a feeling MassMOCA will be my go-to for that, at least initially. At the same time, with virus numbers going up, I’m not comfortable being around strangers indoors, even though I’m vaccinated, and continue to mask. Most of the writers’ events are still virtual. WordXWord has an event at The Mount, outdoors, the next few nights, but I don’t’ know if I feel up to going. I go to the grocery store, the liquor store, the library (always masked), and that’s about it. I might go to some outdoor events, if the weather ever improves. We’re close to the college, and they require all students, teachers, staff, and vendors to be fully vaccinated, so that makes the neighborhood safer for all of us.

Yesterday afternoon, I could hear a composer, in one of the houses in the neighborhood, working on the latest piece. It was wonderful to hear that creation going on, as I was doing my own work. Creativity fuels creativity.

More writing, script coverage, LOIs today on the agenda. More work on the class, so I can start putting together the PowerPoint for it. More unpacking. Reading. After I get back from the laundromat, I might try to find the Big Y grocery store (supposedly less than a mile away). If the weather is decent, maybe tomorrow, we’ll jaunt over to Williamstown and Bennington. If the weather holds this afternoon, maybe we can go to Windsor Lake, which is supposedly a 3-minute drive.

The cats are getting used to the space and having fun running up and down. It’s a long, narrow space, front to back. Tessa loves running up and down the stairs to the front door, fast as can be, while the other two watch. Charlotte and Tessa still fuss at each other, mostly late at night, but not as badly as before. Hopefully, they are adjusting.

They all love to watch the birds. We have lots of trees around here, sturdy trees, and people aren’t constantly trying to cut them down. We also have two bird houses and a nest up in the rafters of our back balcony. The cats are fascinated. No matter which window they sit in, throughout the house, or the kitchen overlooking the back balcony, or the front porch, overlooking the street, there are birds to watch.

We used to have lots of birds around the house on Cape, until all the neighbors destroyed habitat. I’m sure the owner’s going to cut a bunch of trees down, now that we’re gone.

No longer my problem, although I hurt for the wildlife there, especially Che Guevara Chipmunk and the coyotes.

Meanwhile, I have a new area to learn. Living in the mountains is very different than living by the sea.

Monday, September 7, 2009

IMG_0265
Garden at The Mount, Lenox, MA

Monday, September 7, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and pleasant
Labor Day in the US

Batten down the hatches! Mercury’s retrograde.

Seven days to Prague departure!

I read a lot yesterday, mostly about Prague: John Banville’s PRAGUE PICTURES, Richard Burton’s PRAGUE: A CULTURAL HISTORY (finally finished it) and went back to Vaclav Havel’s TO THE CASTLE AND BACK. I’m mulling over what I read, digging up memories of my personal experience with the Iron Curtain, etc. I’m not ready to articulate much yet, but there’s a lot of percolating going on.

It will interesting to see what “My Prague” turns out to be. “My Edinburgh” is vastly different from my friend Colin’s Edinburgh or anyone else’s Edinburgh. “My New York” is different now than it was when I lived on the Deuce, and it was different then, as someone working eight shows/week on Broadway from someone else’s New York who worked on Wall Street, or someone who came into town for a week’s visit.

Costume Imp and I are travelling together, and, even with shared experiences, we will wind up with very different personal Pragues.

I’m more anxious about this trip than I usually am about travelling, and i wonder how much of that is connected to the fact I don’t speak the language (although I didn’t speak Icelandic either and was perfectly comfortable there), and how much is ingrained from my own and my family’s personal experience with the Iron Curtain and its politics? Even though it no longer exists, it leaves resonance in its wake. It’s more than just visiting a new place for me — it’s connected to the personal history of my family, even though, as far as I can tell, none of them are from the area. My mother lived outside of Prague for awhile, many years ago.

There will be more layers to this trip than I expected.

Got some good work done on AMENDS and hope to get some more good work done. I’m about a third of the way into it, it’s time to up the stakes.

IMG_0192

Didn’t get much sleep. Elsa was very busy all night, rummaging, getting into things she shouldn’t have, and i spent a lot of time getting her out of things she shouldn’t have been in in the first place. I got maybe an hour of sleep at a time. I might take a nap later.

Things are moving along well for The Muse Online Writers’ Conference. I’m teaching my dialogue workshop there again this year. I’ve been invited to teach again at the Catholic Online Writers’ Conference again next February — I have to see how a few things shake out in the next few weeks before I give them a definite, and if they want me to teach something other than dialogue.

I need to get out some submissions this week, and would like to finish a draft of an article and get it to my editor before I leave. I keep thinking it’s Sunday, but it’s already Monday, and not a lot will get done on Friday, because of 9/11, and I want to have my desk completely cleared off before the 12th.

Seven days until lift off.

A lot can happen in seven days.

Devon

AMENDS: First Draft: 22,250 words out of est. 75,000
29.6%
IMG_0231
View out of the window at The Mount, Lenox, MA

Sunday, September 6, 2009

IMG_0249
The garden at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, MA

Sunday, September 6
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and lovely

For some reason, I thought the full moon was tomorrow, but it was on Friday. Sorry about that.

I forgot this was up: I guested on Catalyst Blogger on the 2nd. Oop. Stop by and drop a comment, okay?

I was a little annoyed at an email posted on a board about what I’m “supposed” to do on 9/11 as my “duty.” I lost a LOT of people on that day, firefighters from my neighborhood, people with whom I went to school, people I knew from work. NO ONE tells me what I HAVE to do on that day. Especially not someone who lives thousands of miles away and lost no one. I think it’s wonderful people are putting together events and using it as a day of service, but no one has the right to dictate how anyone else mourns.

Yesterday morning was very productive — I polished an article and sidebar and submitted them. I also got the guest blogs sorted and uploaded and scheduled to post — if they post properly, there will be some really great articles here while I’m gone!

I spent the afternoon relaxing, reading a mystery that was a delightful surprise. I expected something light and brain candy-ish, but it actually had some substance. The writer knew the ins and outs of her character’s profession (instead of assuming she knew it from stuff she’s seen on TV), and created good characters and plots. My only disappointment was that I pegged the murderer the minute the character made its first appearance. Even though lots of suspicion was pointed at two other characters, I knew who it really was the first time the character was introduced to the reader.

While I read, I had the iPod on, listening to waves on the beach through an application called Naturespace. Most of these “nature” sounds are usually pretty cheesy, but this one is actually good. It’s a free app I downloaded via iTunes; I figured if I hated it, I could delete it. But it’s actually good! I spent half the afternoon listening to beach waves and the other half listening to a river in the woods.

So it SOUNDED like I was on vacation, even though I was home!

Lazy evening, good morning’s yoga practice, having a hard time getting started on AMENDS. I have to go to Trader Joe’s to stock up on cat food and get in some more milk. It’s my last chance to get out that way until not only after Prague, but after the scallop festival.

Did I mention I got my hair chopped off on Friday? Over 12 inches off! I hadn’t had hair that long in 15 years. It’s short again, but a kind of a wavy, bouncy cut instead of a very short, sleek, to-the-head one. I’ll do the color either today or tomorrow, and then I’m good to go. Just about anywhere.

I did a little digging around, and Switzerland’s not going to work as a home base. First and foremost, I don’t feel the sense of belonging when I’m there and the sense of longing when I’m not, the way I do in other places. Second, it’s land-locked, and I prefer sea, not lakes. Third, the real estate negotiations are ridiculous. So, Switzerland’s a nice place to visit, but I don’t see myself living there.

I liked the idea of living someplace neutral, though, a place not caught up in other people’s arguments. Lichtenstein’s run out of land, so that’s out. Plus, I drove through it once without realizing it, which is not a good sign. Costa Rica — well, I’m not really a tropical girl. Sweden and Finland both intrigue me, though.

Heads up, Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow for three weeks: travel delays, technology problems, miscommunication, no large purchases, but great shopping for smaller stuff.

Mantra: Stay low, stay quiet, go shopping.

Enjoy!

Devon
IMG_0295
the Library of Congress, in Washington, DC. A place of personal pilgrimmage for me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Raining. Again.

Well, the sun didn’t last long enough yesterday for me to get out and enjoy it. Boo. 😦

I’m back, as Jenny, talking about writing without a contract in place, on Diane Parkin’s blog.

Pretty productive day, though. Got my assignment polished and out to Confidential Job #1. Took care of some business correspondence. Finished off a client project. Went to Trader Joe’s to restock the cat food supply.

I printed out CRAVE THE HUNT and had it stacked on the desk, waiting to go into a binder. And Iris had a temper tantrum and scattered the pages all over the living room. Sigh. Fortunately, they’re numbered.

I found that, if I use Safari, I can override the 1and1 server error. I can’t get into my sites to work on them, but at least I can access my email. Not perfect, but a stopgap until I can move things.

Trying to get back on track with the serial and CRAVE THE HUNT. There are some things looming in the near future that take a lot of energy and focus right now, and it’s negatively affecting the writing. Hopefully, once that’s sorted, I can get back in the groove.

I’m making preparations for the DC trip next week — so far I am not impressed with the organization, or lack thereof, and I’m setting a bunch of appointments on my own. I’m not going to stand around doing nothing, and it wouldn’t be right if I slipped away to a museum! So I’ll do my bit at the rally,and then I’ve got appointments with people who can actually create some positive change. I need affordable health care. This week is a good example — I don’t have insurance, and I can’t afford to spend several hundred dollars for a five minute doctor visit out of pocket (which is what it is here) unless I REALLY need it. I’m feeling off, not awful; I’ll deal. I had DECADES of pouring money into health insurance, and hardly ever needed to see a doctor. All of that should be credited, and I should be able to draw on it now Instead, I threw out money for years BECAUSE I WAS HEALTHY. How twisted is that? Plus, I’m sick and tired of the way they glance at you and order a plethora of tests, almost all unnecessary, because they can’t be bothered to spend the time to get to know you and your individual health issues. Assembly-line medicine doesn’t work. I do much better with my acupuncturist, and I’m calling her today to see if she can fit me in before she leaves for Saratoga. Whenever I leave a doctor’s office, I feel completely dehumanized. When I leave my acupunturist’s, I feel I can take on the world. The insurance companies in this country need to be gutted, and the health care industry needs to be rebuilt from the ground up so that doctors can provide individualized care and patients are treated like people, not like the plastic dummies one practices on in First Aid training sessions.

Next week is going to be a long day! 😉

I’m also prepping for the NHL Draft, which starts the day after the rally in DC. And, in a few weeks, I’m going to head up to Maine for a couple of days, to see my great uncle, and maybe visit some farms where they spin and die the yarn they shear from their sheep.

Hopefully the laundry room renovations are done. Six weeks ago, they told us it would take “about ten days”. Right. My friend’s out of town, so I can’t pop over to do laundry there, and the laundry bag’s about to burst at the seams. Fingers crossed.

I’ve got a fiction deadline coming up for a short story. I’ve got it percolating, and I’ve also got a couple of other short pieces percolating. Maybe, with everything going on these next couple of weeks, it makes more sense to focus on shorter pieces, pieces I can actually get done.

Now that I’ve visited The Mount in Lenox, it really makes Hermione Lee’s Edith Wharton biography come even more to life. It’s also making me itch to back to GOOD NAMES.

Back to business. There’s a lot to do. Maybe if I keep focused on work, I won’t notice that it’s raining. AGAIN. There are flood warnings, so I’ll be jumping up and down to check the brook every few hours, and see if I have to move the car. And I’m boiling and bottling water, just in case. Maybe today’s NOT a good day to do laundry!

Prepared fried cod cakes last night with home-made tartar sauce (wonderful) and roasted potato wedges (with oregano, cumin, and olive oil) dipped in lime-cilantro mayonnaise. Yum.

Back to work.

Devon

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Only one Retrograde. Hooray!

I can’t believe it’s June already.

Guess what I’m going tonight? Taking a computer workshop! I’m very excited. I’m hauling the Macbook to White Plains and taking a class on iPhoto. I lost most of Saturday afternoon trying to work with photos (okay, so there were over 2100 photos, but still). I couldn’t articulate to AppleCare what I needed, and, bless them, they tried to help me, but I was beyond help by that point. So I looked up the local store and saw they have a workshop on iPhoto today and on iPages on Wednesday. I’m taking both. It’s going to help me enormously.

So what did I do yesterday? Glad you asked. We were on the road before 7 AM on our way to Lenox, MA. We took the Merritt Parkway to Bridgeport and then took Rt. 8 all the way up to MA, only switching over to 20W a few miles away. I was afraid it would be a tiny, annoying road. Most of it wasn’t, and the tiny road portion wasn’t annoying.

I expected it to take forever, but it took us 2 1/2 hours. We arrived in Lenox far too early — The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home, wasn’t even open yet. So we parked in front of the beautiful Lenox Library and walked around. Good thing the library was closed — had it been open, I would have parked myself in there and never left. I may have to return to Lenox just to go to the library one day.

We got coffee at an amazing bakery called Haven — if I hadn’t eaten a huge breakfast, I would have tried their Eggs Benedict (since I am an Eggs Benedict addict). As it was, we took the coffee and sat in a park filled with blooming lilac bushes for a half hour.

We headed back to The Mount, arriving shortly after opening. I wasn’t in the mood for a guided tour — I just kind of wanted to wander around. The volunteers are fabulous anyway, and they tell you all kinds of stories about the various rooms. I remember when Shakespeare & Company used to perform there — I wanted to work there one summer, but I was on Broadway, and, at that point, couldn’t ask for a leave of absence, because they’d already granted me leaves to take my shows to Edinburgh and Australia — it was time to let someone else have a turn – -which is totally fair.

The house is only partially restored — I hadn’t realized how recently they started work. The restoration that’s been done is wonderful. The atmosphere is that of light and air — colors and fabrics supporting the light streaming in from the large windows. It’s the kind of house one could really see oneself LIVING in.

My only surprise was how small the library was. It’s beautifully designed, and the bookshelves are amazing, but I expected it to be bigger. Since Wharton did most of her writing in bed, I guess it didn’t need to be!

The gardens are amazing, and I spent most of my time there — combination of French and Italian design, with the Italian influence dominant. Just beautiful – the way they descend from the house, and the view of the lake.

I could imagine working in many of the rooms in the house, and then taking the Macbook out to work on the terrace, which folds around the back and sides of the house, or in the gardens, especially the walled gardens. It’s an easy place in which to be creative, and I found myself scribbling a lot of notes!

The bookstore is great, but, much to my surprise, I discovered that I own about 2/3 of the books they carry! And not just the novels of Edith Wharton and Henry James, but the gardening book, too (although most of those are in storage).

I started Hermione Lee’s biography of Wharton when it first came out — now I’m going to go back and read it all through.

I wound up buying a book called BERKSHIRE READER, filled with stories, essays, and journal entires about the area from the late 1600s all the way to the 1990s — I’m looking forward to that. And I bought a program/catalog from an event used to raise money for the property. I also bought soap, handmade by a local woman — it smelled so good, I had to have some. She uses only essential oils, etc., and you can tell. I bought on bar of rose geranium and one of rosemary. Rosemary soap is my favorite, so I always buy that when I see it. I paid far too much for both, but it was one of those instances where I don’t think I’ll feel that way when I use it!

Back into Lenox for lunch. I’d researched several restaurants. One, Church Street Cafe, turns out to be closed on Sundays, which took it immediately off the list. We ended up at Bistro Zinc. I’d heard good things about it. I was a little worried, when we walked in, that it was trying to be too trendy, and the staff was in black — people, we area not in the East Village, you don’t have to dress as though we are. But once we were settled in the bar (the dining room was full), it was actually quite comfortable. The staff was REALLY nice, and not fake-nice, either. There was even a couple at the bar reading the Sunday NEW YORK TIMES and drinking champagne cocktails, which I thought was fun.

It was a nice mixed crowd — locals, even with their kids, and those on their way to a matinee at the theatre. The place was crowded, but we never felt like we were being rushed. The food was exquisite — I had trout with rice and green beans, and a glass of chardonnay I actually liked (I’m not big on chardonnay). My travelling companion had a burger with bacon and cheese and terrific fries (of which I ate half). There were at least six or seven things on the menu that sounded fabulous, out of about twelve. And the other five were knocked out of contention only because they were things I could cook at home, and one of the things I do at restaurants is order stuff I don’t make at home.

Then, we visited The Bookstore, the town’s independent bookstore, run by a guy who used to work at my beloved Gotham Bookmart here in NY. It’s a fabulous bookstore, and again, the staff was really nice. Everyone we met was really nice in Lenox, friendly, unhurried without being lethargic, and interested in conversation. There’s a big arts community up there — Tanglewood, Shakespeare & Company, Jacob’s Pillow — lots of writers and literary events, and a big holistic community. Really great.

I found the YA book I’d wanted to buy down here but couldn’t remember the title or author, just the cover. Turns out it’s called THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY. I started it last night and it’s fun, which is nice, because the book I’d started the night before, after finishing the enjoyable DEATH BY CHICKLIT, was just plain annoying.

We got back by about five, so the cats weren’t too furious with us — well, Violet was, but she thinks I should never leave the house. I had a nice quiet evening watching hockey and went to bed early.

The cats got me up ridiculously early this morning, and I’m having a slow start. A bunch of stories are whirling around my head, some of them inspired by yesterday’s trip. I have to sort things out today, catch up on everything I missed yesterday (since I didn’t even turn on the computer), and get some client work done before this afternoon’s class. I also need to get to Trader Joe’s this morning, because there’s only one can of cat food left, and they are not amused to see the cupboard so bare.

Good morning’s work on the Matty book. The serial was harder; I only got about half of what I wanted to get done written, but it’s better than nothing.

I probably won’t get the May wrap and the June to-do list up on the GDR site until tomorrow.

Devon

Serial, 1st draft: 6,945 words out of 50,000