Tues. Nov. 2, 2021: Here We Go, Nano!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

image courtesy of StartUp Stock Photos via pexels.com

Day Before Dark Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny/cloudy and a little cold

The weekend was a lot of fun.

I prepped some more food, and we cleaned the house on Friday morning, then drove up to Bennington, VT to meet my friend’s bus. It was a lovely, crisp autumn day. It was a nice drive back to the house.

We unloaded and had snacks and wine. The chili was in the crock pot; I’d made cornbread in the morning, and there was my mom’s birthday cheesecake for dessert. We took a walk around the neighborhood between cocktail hour and dinner, enjoying the architecture, and random people just stopped to talk to us and tell us about the buildings, which was pretty cool. And we met a woman who was walking her dog who lives around the corner from me and works for Hearst Magazines. She used to be an actress, so we had a lot to talk about!

We were up talking and catching up.

MassMOCA now has a proof of vaccination policy and timed entries. I tried to get us a slot for Saturday. No one answered the phone; the message said they’d call back. They never called back; they never emailed. I tried to book a slot online. I had a library pass, and there as no option for it. So no MassMOCA for us. Disappointing, but certainly not a tragedy.

Tessa let us sleep until 6 on Saturday.

I made raw apple muffins for breakfast. Instead of going to MassMOCA, we walked back up to the library. Met some more random people with some more information about houses. I showed off the library (which is beautiful), and we had good conversations with the librarians. It was raining when we came back, so we took the car and went to Cinnamon Girl (even though it was close enough to walk). I bought my friend her first tarot deck, and we got sundry other goodies. We headed to Whitney’s Farm and got a pumpkin and cider, then kept going (in the rain) down to Pittsfield, to Re-Store. My friend had heard about Re-store, but never seen one. So we visited the land that is Re-Store, and I found a pair of tapestry footstools that hinge open. So those came home with us. We continued down to Lenox to the joy that is Chocolate Springs Café.

Even though it was rainy, it was still pretty, and we were chatting all the way.

More snacks when we came home, and then it was trout poached in a wine-leek sauce with couscous, and lemon mousse for dessert.

Chatting, chatting, chatting, playing with the cats.

Tessa let us sleep in on Sunday, too. I made Eggs Benedict for breakfast (with prosecco, of course). Lazy morning, then headed to Bear and Bee Bookshop, where we found a bunch of great stuff.

From there, we went to Berkshire Cider Project, which is in the renovated Greylock Works Center. That place is amazing! We bought a bunch of cider and got Halloween treats. The woman working there recently moved from California. She and her husband are working on starting a restaurant; we exchanged information in case they need to hire someone for marketing.

We went to The Spruces and walked around and talked about the history of the place. My friend let me start spinning out ideas for an historical mystery series set there when it was a residential community in the 1950’s and 60’s. We had some great conversations with people walking their dogs.

After that, we found an alpaca farm/store in Williamstown, Colonial Alpacas.. The guy is part of a fiber co-op. He has a lovely bulldog, who showed us around. We bought some alpaca goods, and went to meet the alpacas, although they were not interested in coming out of their sheds and getting their feet muddy.

But it was a delightful afternoon full of interesting people who were doing things. Everyone followed safety protocols without fussing. People were friendly, interesting, and interested.

Home, unloaded, my friend carved her pumpkin. We put on the lights and were ready for Trick or Treaters. There were a few, but not many.

Hunter’s pasta for dinner, and then the Samhain Ancestor rituals, which were satisfying, although we were up pretty late.

Up at 5 on Monday. Managed 2100 words on CAST IRON MURDER before breakfast and driving my friend back to Bennington to catch her bus. On the way back, errands at the market, the pharmacy, the post office, the library.

Came home, and started working my way through all the email which had piled up in my box since Thursday night. Did the Sundance Collab session, and wrote 7 pages/the next scene of “A Rare Medium.” I think I can wrap it up in one more scene.

Willa and Tessa looked for my friend for a bit, then Tessa decided to settle on the porch. Charlotte was on my bed until the Sundance Zoom – as far as Charlotte is concerned, Zoom exists so people all over the world can see her and tell her she’s pretty.

The cold warnings went out for the area. Although we won’t descend into frost yet, it was cold enough to pull in our plants from the back balcony, and bring in most of the furniture. The big bench and the bistro chairs will stay out, but everything else came in. Most plants can be on the front porch, until that, too, is too cold.

Made sausage and Brussels sprouts for dinner. Read two scripts and some source material for a new play in the evening.

Went to bed ridiculously early, after doing my Tending the Dead ritual for the night.

Tessa let me sleep until nearly 6:30 this morning. I was writing in longhand on a project, and just taking my time. Didn’t even sit down to write on CAST IRON MURDER until 9 AM. Took me two hours to write 2364 words, but I’m even happy with some of them. Yesterday’s work was more hit-and-miss. But I’m starting to hear and feel the rhythm of this book.

Now, it’s time to take down most of the Samhain decorations, although I still have a few more Tending the Dead rituals. You can read more information about that here.

I have two script coverages to write up. I’d hoped to finish “A Rare Medium” today, but I have a feeling that’s not going to happen. I hate to lose the momentum, though. I have at least one script to read tonight, but I’m hoping to grab a second at some point this afternoon.

There will be leftovers tonight, as there will be most of the week. And, hopefully, a lot of writing!

Tues. Oct. 19, 2021: The Good Work of Writing

image courtesy of Lisa via pexels.com

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus Retrograde

Jupiter and Mercury went direct yesterday

Cloudy and cool

Jupiter and Mercury have gone direct, which means maybe we can have some positive forward motion.

You can hop over to the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site for the mid-month check-in.

The house we lived in on Cape, which was for sale with a pending sale? Back on the market. Not surprising, considering how much over the assessment valued they asked, and that the new owner will need to redo both bathrooms and replace all the windows. But I’m sure the current owners will somehow justify the fallen through sale as my fault. Whatever.

Used the Sundance Lab time on Friday to work on “A Rare Medium.” It was an excellent session. I got six pages done, the next scene, and I’m happy with the work. Although the breakout networking sessions aren’t what I need right now (although, in a professional sense, what I should attend), using the writing time in company can help me get these plays done.

Wrote up three script coverages. Was requested to read a new draft of a script I’d liked and given notes on a few weeks back, so that will be a good way to start the next workweek.

My mom is still a little tired from the COVID booster, but, overall, there were few side effects.

Worked with Charlotte on her bedmaking anxiety. She loves sleeping on my bed, but she gets anxious when I make it in the morning, or when I change the sheets. Most cats I’ve had love to use bedmaking time to play. They “hide” under the covers as I pile them on, and then either meow, and I flip back the covers to let them out, or they slither to the edge of the bed and drop down to the floor.

Charlotte stays under the covers and panics.

So I make sure not to cover her, because she doesn’t know what to do.

What we did, instead, was make the bed very slowly, giving her a chance to hopscotch on top of each sheet or blanket as I pulled it up. It didn’t take that much longer, and it was a fun game for her. When the bed was made, she rolled over, purring, and waving her feet n the air, happy as can be. Which is nice change from the upset she usually has around making the bed, where she growls and cries as I wrestle the covers from her. This game, she understands, and it makes her happy. I can take three extra minutes in the morning to make the bed in a way that doesn’t scare her.

The weather cleared up enough by mid-day on Saturday so that I could go to The Spruces for the Audubon Nature Walk sponsored by my town’s library. It was a small group, and, even though the adults were vaccinated, there was a young child in the group, so we masked without being asked, and without fussing. The people were nice, the walk was interesting, and I learned a lot. I’d hoped to learn more about the history of the actual Spruces community, but that wasn’t the focus. I’m going to have to go to Williamstown and dig for it in the library myself. Which could be a fun project, it’s just scheduling it so I don’t lose income from other assignments.

There’s a book or a play or something related to the history of the Spruces that I need to write, I’m just not sure what yet.

Came home, showered (decontamination protocols, just in case). Fell asleep on the couch for a couple of hours.

This was the first in-person event I’ve attended since the pandemic. Although it was small, fun, safe, and enjoyable, I was still exhausted.

To bed early on Saturday night, which meant up early Sunday morning.

Sunday was spent finishing the short almanac articles, fact-checking, and proofing. If I hadn’t faffed about so much and wasted so much time during the day the last couple of weeks, I wouldn’t have had to work all day. But the time mismanagement is on me, so I did it. I’m actually satisfied with the work. I have the knowledge; I’d put in research and experimentation time. It was a case of writing it up succinctly.

To bed fairly early on Sunday, and even got to sleep until 5 on Monday.

Did a final proofread of the short articles, updated my bio, sent them off to my editor, and they were acknowledged. Much as I loved doing those 25 little pieces, it was an even better feeling to send them off. They are for the 2023 Almanac.

I have to spend some serious time in the coming months working on the Cerridwen Iris Shea website, blog, and putting together some of the older material into small eBooks.

Another Big Project for the winter.

Did my Soul Expedition work. The exercises were extremely useful, and I discovered important roots that need to be dealt with.

Had a good conversation with a Twitter pal about Edith Wharton, and about Tolstoy and his wife. So much on Twitter is “in passing” that it’s nice to have substantial interactions sometimes.

Spent some time on Women Write Change, and on the Nano site. I’m over on WWC almost every day, or, at least, every other day, although I don’t always talk about it. It’s a small group, but a good one. On Nano, I spent time on Enchanted Wordsmiths, and also had a conversation with the Writer-Bakers. I’ve gotten two new challah bread recipe recommendations through them.

I started typing up the notes for CAST IRON MURDER, and expanding/arranging them, for my outline.

When it hit noon, and Sundance Collab time, I felt I “should” switch over to work on “A Rare Medium.” However, the flow was going well on the outline for CAST IRON MURDER. I started to dither and then thought, “Why are you doing this to yourself? It’s not a major decision” and kept working on the outline during the Collab time. Got 4 of the 9 handwritten pages typed up, arranged, and expanded. Printed them out, just in case.

Quite a few people mentioned, on Twitter, how much more energized they felt. Yeah, that’s what having Jupiter (the planet of expansion) and Mercury (we all know those connotations) going direct on the same day will do for you.

Attended the live session of the Soul Expedition and was frustrated. I’ll go into that in more detail tomorrow, when I talk more in depth about that and have some Nano tips.

Made brownies from the Moosewood recipe. It turned out well. Might be my favorite brownie recipe to date.

Ordered a bunch of books from the library. I can take out up to 50 books, but can only put on holds up to 20.  Oh, well.

Paid by a client, so I can pay bills this upcoming week. Might give myself a treat, too.

Read two scripts last night.

Had a good evening meditation session. A couple of “aha” moments in there.

Tessa let me sleep until 5:22 this morning. What a luxury! The usual morning routine (feed the cats, make the coffee, write in the journal, 1st 1K of the day, yoga, meditation, shower, dress). I’m changing up my laundromat routine. Since I’m often the first and only one there in the morning, and it’s a little creepy in the dark, I want to make sure I don’t keep a regular schedule. Because, as a woman, I have to worry about things like that.

Onward to the Soul Expedition work, and then more writing and script coverage. I have to do a post office, library, and grocery run today, too.

Have a good one, friends.

Tues. Aug. 17, 2021: Frustrating Start

image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

Mid-month check-in is up at the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions site.

It was a good weekend, although I had a late start to it. In the hot weather, I’ve been taking a break during the worst heat/humidity in the middle of the day and focusing on the reading portion of my job(s). But that means I have to get back to the writing in the evenings, when it’s cooler and I can actually think. I wasn’t finished on Friday until about 8 PM, which I hate. (Which is why when someone approaches me with the line, “Must work PST hours” I refuse).

Also, too much of Friday was spent trying to open the new account at Greylock Federal Credit Union. It shouldn’t take three hours to open an account, and it shouldn’t take two weeks before the account is up and running. Seriously wondering if we made the right choice. Well, if we hate it, there are a ton of banks around here, and we’ll just change over again.

Tons of email to get through; I’ve been waiting too late in the day on Fridays with the admin. Hopefully, that will change now that it’s a little cooler.

After dinner on Friday, we had the lights off in the kitchen and sat, watching the thunder and lightning roll around the mountains. It was really cool.

Saturday was heavy with humidity, and it was hard to concentrate on anything. A friend is visiting for Labor Day weekend (yes, vaccinated), and booked her train ticket. I’m going to pick her up/drop her off at the train station in Albany, which will be an adventure.

Put away the holiday decorations we brought up in this last storage run. Winter on one side of the shelves, autumn on the other. There’s still plenty more coming up, but we will figure it out. There’s still room.

Got Mother’s prescriptions transferred up to the local CVS. The one on Cape said they’d do it, but, of course, didn’t. Everything is set up – only when we came home, there was a letter from Tufts that they are dropping her from their health insurance because she moved. They supposedly cover the entire state (one reason we wanted to stay in MA), sent her four volumes of statewide doctors and a list of local ones (none of whom were closer than 18 miles away), and now they’re dumping her. During a pandemic. After raising her premiums while doing less. This is not acceptable. Hey, I’m all for her having a better health plan, but Tufts needs to be bitch slapped by Health & Human Services, Maura Healey’s office, and Elizabeth Warren’s office for this type of behavior, and I am damn well going to make sure that happens. I’d like to bitch slap the Tufts CEO myself. In person.

Wrote up my book review and got it in on time. I always drag my feet when the book is a disappointment. This one needed both a developmental and a copy edit. It was a meandering mess.

Sunday was a lovely, sunny, cool day. We checked the local Goodwill, which is huge and has a lot of stuff, but nothing we needed. Then, we headed over to The Spruces, just over the border into Williamstown. The Spruces was a planned senior community of trailer homes, begun in the 1950’s, with its own mayor and city council. It was flooded out permanently in either 2011 or 2012, and now the town owns it and turned it into a community park. It’s filled with wildflowers and trees, and there are still ghostly outlines of some of the properties. The entrance has two white lion statues on very tall pedestals. It’s beautiful and a little creepy all at once.

The news of the earthquake in Haiti is sad, and what’s going on in Afghanistan was completely predictable. It was never about independence for the country, but about how much money our military contractors could make, Of course, the same GOP who doesn’t want to support those seeking asylum are the ones screaming about what’s going on there. Not to mention it was a Republican who got us into the mess in the first place. Typical hypocrites.

Read Peter Ackroyd’s short biography of Wilkie Collins, which gave me some ideas, especially when it comes to the Victorian actors Squire and Marie Bancroft. Put aside the book of letters between Yeats and Maud Gonne – that research is not leading where I’d hoped so I’m putting that project aside for now.

Worked on unpacking and setting up the sewing room (which also doubles as a guest room. Still more to do, but we’re getting there.

Wrote steadily all weekend, and that felt good. Writing steadily first thing every morning.

Monday started as a cool, lovely day. Good writing session, caught up on email. Went to the post office to mail a stack of bills and letters. Went to both libraries.

Got Mother’s social security deposit information changed to the new bank. No luck with the insurance. The Medicare “help line” who’d sent her paperwork promising to help passed her from person to person to person, NONE of whom helped. I have to contact Health & Human Services, copying Maura Healey and Elizabeth Warren.

Only the Brother laser printer needs a new yellow ink toner, and won’t let me override to print in black and white. Staples won’t ship the regular cartridge. It has to be picked up in store. The store in Pittsfield doesn’t have it – I’d have to drive to Albany, and they won’t guarantee it’s still there, even if I purchase it for in-store pickup. I had to order, online, the more expensive cartridge to be shipped. It’s supposed to be here by tomorrow. They sent me a “driver’s release” form so the driver just leaves it at the door – but the link doesn’t go anywhere.

Can’t ANYBODY do their fucking job?

I’m so sick and tired of losing hours and days of work for stupid people. They’re costing me too much money.

Tried to fill out the paperwork so my mom’s pension goes into the new bank account. But because I couldn’t print it out for her to sign, I don’t know if they’ll accept it. She signed a statement. They also wanted a void check – only we don’t have checks, so the bank gave us a letter of authorization, stating the account was open. Let’s see if they accept that. If the pension goes into one account and the social security goes into another, it will be a hot mess.

None of this should be difficult, nor should it take days to “process.” You have the information electronically. Fucking type it in and save it, and then use it.

It was faster when NONE of it was electronic.

Read the second Wonky Inn book, which was fun. Got my next book assigned for review, so I’m looking forward to it. Read one of the scripts I have to cover – turns out it’s about an historical even into which I’ve done extensive research. So that’s fun.

It’s getting humid again.  We’re supposed to have showers on and off throughout the week. High humidity, although the temperatures won’t be that bad. I think we’ll get smacked with a bit of Hurricane Fred at some point, although nowhere near as much as the coast will.

I have to head over to the laundromat to get the laundry done. Big pile of it, since I didn’t go last week (we did the storage run instead).

Script coverage, almanac articles, starting the book for review, LOIs. Just another day in Freelance Life.

There was a beautiful rainbow stretching over the mountain, when I was on the front porch doing my first writing session this morning. The camera in the phone couldn’t capture it, but I enjoyed watching it until it faded away.

Have a good one, friends.

Tues. Aug. 10, 2021: The Weekend Was a Lot About Books

image courtesy of Loubos Houska via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Waxing Moon

Pluto. Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Cloudy, hot, humid

Pretty decent weekend.

The class I taught on Friday morning went well. I thoroughly enjoyed the students. They asked great questions, brought in strong material on which to work, and, for the spontaneous, timed exercise, rolled up their sleeves and dove right in. One student remarked that she hadn’t had the opportunity to write in a workshop situation since before Covid.

I’m glad the Center did everything via Zoom; much safer, especially with the virus numbers rising, and the Cape being a red zone again. It was great to participate from where I was (Berkshires) and have people participate from all over.

It was a two-hour class, and we took a 5-minute break at the half-way point. Administrators said I was the first instructor who suggested/allowed that. It made a huge difference; Zoom is tiring. Getting up to stretch for 5 minutes, walk around, do whatever, meant they could come back fresh with more questions and ready to work.

And they have a plethora of handouts to download from my website.

So it was all good.

After the class was done, I headed over to Wild Oats and spent more than I meant to, but it was all excellent stuff. I always get into interesting conversations with people there. And I’m officially a member-owner now, which is very exciting. Masking indoors is required once again, and that makes me feel more secure, too.

I relaxed in the afternoon, reading and resting. In the evening, I read another script. I’m behind on what I’d hoped to read this week (although still meeting all the deadlines).

Saturday was mostly spent unpacking boxes for my office and rearranging things. I moved some bookcases around, stacked others, Rearranged my books. Different books than I thought were coming up ended up coming up; they’re still useful, but it means rearranging things. I’d brought up my project books myself, and they are sorted, so I can dig into my projects.

I took a brief break for an hour to jump on the Writers’ Center Zoom for the keynote address, given by agent Tom Miller. He talked about trends and work and consolidation. He reinforced some of the points I’d made in my class the day before on what makes a good memoir (not knowing what I’d said). And yet, there were still people who were trying to get him to give them shortcuts to getting published. There are no substitutions for doing the work.

It was too hot to walk anywhere in the afternoon, so I just rested, and then wrote up the script coverage. I’d hoped to go over to The Spruces, but it was too muggy.

Sunday morning, I unpacked the boxes of books in my bedroom, and figured out how to distribute most of them. I’m going to need a bookcase in my bedroom at some point. I just don’t know where I can fit it.

I took a walk to downtown to the new bookshop that’s opened, Bear & Bee. It’s a really fun, mellow place with a great selection of the owners’ favorite books. I bought one of Marion Nestle’s books on food (I attended a virtual seminar with her via NYU Alumni a few months back), and a mystery by a writer I’ve known for years, but don’t have that particular book. Had a great conversation with one of the owners, and plan to give them as much business as I can afford.

It wasn’t that long a walk, only about 3 miles roundtrip, but the heat and humidity did me in, so I rested in the afternoon. That’s what I need most right now: rest.

I should have read a script, but needed a whole day off from coverage. That meant I had to read and write up a script yesterday (I like to read one day, write the next so that I can think about it).

I was contacted by two editors with whom I’ve worked before: one for article pitches for his publication, the other for his newest anthology. I’ll percolate on them both and see if I can come up with something worthwhile. I’ve also got a talk scheduled with a potential new client for Thursday afternoon. So that’s all good.

Went over to the academic library and got set up with my username and password, so I can access the catalogue from home. Found a couple of books – not for the project on which I was hunting, but for something else.  Dropped off the books at home, picked up the other library books, took them to the public library to switch them out. Being able to take out only 2 books at a time for the 3-month probation period sucks. But, I’m smiling and not fussing. Except here on the blog.

Masks are required again, rather than requested. No one’s fussing. Everyone’s just doing it.

After the library, I put gas in the car. Ran into the landlord, and he showed me the renovations in the house next door, which are beautiful. The new tenants will move into that on the 15th. AND I got to play with a neighborhood puppy!

Home, read a script, wrote it up, caught up on some email. Read a second script at night, although I won’t write it up until tonight or tomorrow.

Writing in longhand on the book every morning means steady progress, and a positive start to my day. I’m irritated because I couldn’t do it this morning, and worried that I’ll lose the momentum I’ve gained.

I’m out and about today, so have fun, stay safe, and MASK UP!!!

Published in: on August 10, 2021 at 7:20 am  Comments Off on Tues. Aug. 10, 2021: The Weekend Was a Lot About Books  
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