Mon. June 2, 2014: BALTHAZAAR TREASURE Back on Track

Monday, June 2, 2014
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Busy weekend, but pretty good. Friday was a busy, somewhat chaotic day at the library, but it all worked out. A colleague and I are still trying to sort out the pile of (expletive deleted) that another colleague dropped into our laps (separate from the library work), but that will happen. I’m not going to waste my time in anger, nor am I going to leave my colleague holding the bag. We will sort it out, and I will make sure we’re not put in that position again.

My workshop for Wednesday is almost complete — I have to put together the tip sheet — it’s kind of in bits and pieces — and get some info from MWA, and we’re good to go.

Friday night, I was invited to the Unitarian Church to see a showing of the documentary TRASHED, about the problem and health risks associated with our trash. Eye-opening, although several of the people after with “questions” didn’t have questions at all, and were simply very impressed with the sounds of their own voices. Still, I’m glad I went.

Up early Saturday morning. Got some work done, stopped by the library to take care of something I forgot about, but most of the day was spent in errands. I thought they’d take two hours, and they took eight. Pierpont Glass, Christmas Tree Shops, Market Basket, Trader Joe’s. Ocean State — but got a lot done. Also finished the Media Kit for TRACKING MEDUSA, and the edits for “Severance” landed on my desk.

Read Ilona Andrews’s MAGIC BITES, which I really liked, and started another urban fantasy by a different author I’m not sure I like.

Watched THOR: THE DARK WORLD — was disappointed. I like the actors and their moments — especially the scenes between Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston — but the action scenes needed to be edited down in some spots. When there ARE character moments, they are great, and there are some hilarious throwaway lines, but there’s not enough of that. Also watched THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES, which wasn’t as bad as I’d heard. There were parts that I liked, and parts where it felt like scenes were edited/skipped, and information we needed for other scenes to make sense was simply ignored.

Was wiped out on Sunday, but suddenly BALTHAZAAR TREASURE started to make sense again. Wound up doing about forty pages’ worth of work on it, twenty plus of them new pages. Prologue still holds, but there’s a new opening chapter, what used to be chapter one is rewritten and now chapter two, what used to be the start of chapter two is now chapter three, and it’s nearly done, and they’re almost at the Bahamas. A new character walked in to cause more conflict between Gwen and Justin. Although Karl will still be the major wedge in their relationship, with Carolina and Irina causing some stress, the choice that Gwen makes to save her and Alec’s life in chapter one will now resonate through books two and three.

Watched some television, including GAME OF THRONES, although, as I’ve said before, the relentless brutality wears me out.

Lots to do today, including getting stuff done I didn’t get done yesterday, getting things sorted out for the muddled project, doing revisions on script episodes, new episodes, and working on both BALTHAZAAR TREASURE and “Severance.”

At least I feel good about BALTHAZAAR again, and feel it’s a viable project. I was having my doubts there for awhile.

Devon

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Busy weekend, but really good.

Made those Martha Stewart banana-walnut chocolate-chunk goodies. Oh, my goodness — one of the best cookies ever! Totally loved them. They are now my second-favorite cookie recipe, behind my favorite molasses spice.

The owl program at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History was amazing. I didn’t realize that screech owls and saw-whet owls were so tiny! So cute, especially the saw-whet. The barred owl was lovely. I absolutely adored the Great Horned Owl — he has no natural predator and he knows it. That was a bird with major ‘tude — he was looking at some of the smaller children like he considered them a tasty snack. So, of course, I adored him. The snowy owl, who’s been with this group since babyhood (owlet-hood?) was a showoff — loved the play the crowd. And the enormous Eurasian Eagle Owl know she was totally gorgeous and just demanded all to adore her. Really, really great program, and I can’t say enough great things about the people in charge. Check out their website for lots more info. I learned a lot, and now I know what to look — and listen for — when it comes to owls.

I sat next to a lovely woman who is part of the Friends program at the Center and gave me information. She said she had to come to this — or else she’d have to rake her yard! I may not join Friends — because my freelance schedule is so transient, I’m leery of initially committing to anything. But I might buy and inscribe a brick in Elsa’s memory for the walkway, and become a member, since I’ll be going to so many of their programs whenever I get the chance.

Their gift shop has gorgeous stuff, most made by local artists. I knocked four people off my Yule list right there!

I was really impressed with the kids — they’re lively, rambunctious, and very, VERY smart. And yet they’re totally well behaved. No screaming, no tantrums, no bad behavior. And they weren’t sticky, thank goodness. Kids come to me as often as dogs do. I’m not a particularly child-friendly person (one reason I chose not to have any), but for some reason, they really like me. I was surprised by how they paid attention and could refer to something at the beginning of the program later on when they asked a question, and how much they remembered. One kid, who couldn’t have been more than six or seven, could identify a Great Horned owl skull from a program he remembered at his school last year. Pretty impressive.

And the stuff they chose to buy was pretty interesting, too. None of this made-in-China plastic crap. They wanted very site-specific toys and books that required imagination. In general, I’ve been very impressed by the local kids, from toddler to teen. Quite different from the Summer Brats, I’m sure, and very different from the horribly behaved, selfish, bored and boring, entitlement-obsessed children in Westchester.

Back to the house too late to rake. Stopped at Trader Joe’s to get a wreath for the front door — everyone else in the neighborhood is decorated, and I feel behind the beat. Unpacked some more boxes — made a good dent in the pile still in the kitchen.

We got the area rugs up for the living room and the back bedroom and cleaned them both. They look great. I didn’t think the one would work in the back bedroom, but it looks great.

Did some work on the lectures.

Went to bed early, and the cats kind of let me sleep. Or maybe I was just so tired I didn’t notice them playing.

I’m still having weird anxiety dreams. They all have to do with being stuck somewhere in NY, in a theatrical situation, on a show without running notes. I’ll get over them eventually, but they’re annoying.

Up at a reasonable hour on Sunday, yoga, meditation, made biscuits for breakfast. Did some more work on the lectures. Read the Sunday papers – -haven’t done that in ages! Lots of good stuff in there.

Went outside and raked for a couple of hours. The raised part of the backyard. It’s only a small section, but it’s a whole section, so I got that feeling of accomplishment.

Had lunch, then ran some errands. Went to Sandwich to the Herb Shop to pick up a few things I needed to make sachets for the closets, and then swung by Lavender Moon to get the necklace with the amber that I looked at last week, but hadn’t bought. I can’t wear it every day, but it will be lovely for special occasions.

Also stopped at the Yoga/Wellness Center just down the street (seriously, I could walk if I wanted to — it would be about 15-20 minutes) to pick up their schedule. Looks like they have yoga classes along the lines of what I’m looking for, meditation group, and even an acupuncturist on staff. I’ll give them a try. I probably won’t start going to class until the New Year, but I’m going to try to get into one of the acupuncture sessions. My hip is really bothering me again.

Back to the house, and back to raking. I did some more in the backyard. Doesn’t it look better?


And I met the neighbor across the way who has the Scottie and the Westie, both of whom are rescues. The Westie is just a little love bug. But then, they know a soft touch when they see one. Basically, everyone up and down the street takes in rescues — the neighbor across the street only has two; most have three or more. Fine with me — the more happy animals around, the better. And I’m invited to an open house to meet the neighbors in two weeks!

And here’s what’s left for me to do in the back in the next couple of days:

I still have to tidy up the front before the rains hit Tuesday night.

Once I was done raking for the day, I started with the Yuletide decorations. I still can’t find a bunch of stuff, and I’m sure we’ll be rearranging things as we go, but I got part of the advent table up (enough to light the candle for the First of Advent, which is what yesterday was). The mirror’s not yet up over the fireplace, but I kind of like having all the nutcrackers there, and, for now, I have about half the Santas on one bookcase (one of the ones where I can’t find the shelves). I’m kind of at a stopping point until I get the tree up, and then decide what I want to do around that. But, now that I can put up my Very Big Tree — well, it’s an OLD Very Big Tree, and each branch has to be inserted individually, so it will take me three damn days!

I posted my welcome message and the first lecture for the workshop.

Violet is very cuddly lately. She seems to be settling in better than Iris, although Iris brought about five or six toys into the bed overnight. At least it’s not pork bones out of the garbage, which is what Elsa used to do!

Egg on face moment — for some reason, I thought my editor had booked a different article, and that was what I was working on until she straightened me out. NOT the way to impress your boss, right?

Mattress World never called me to give me a window for delivery today, so I will have to get on them about it. I can’t sit around indefinitely waiting for them to show up. Even though I need to spend a good portion of the day raking.

Got my first Yuletide card on Saturday — from the National Marine Life Center. Designed by one of their volunteers, who is seven years old. I’m telling you, the kids here are preternaturally bright. It’s an adorable card. I’m looking forward to putting it up.

And I have to get the overseas cards out this week.

Pretty much all we’ve watched since we got the TV hooked up is WGBH, Boston’s Public Television station. That’s the best on right now. Perhaps we should become members!

Actually stayed up until a reasonable hour, kept working on the lectures.

Up early this morning to find frost on the ground, yoga, meditation, feeding the cats, getting down to work, etc. The other split box is supposed to be delivered today — hope it actually happens — and then I can start really putting the bedroom to rights. I haven’t unpacked/found my sewing boxes yet or my hot glue gun, and there are some ornaments in desperate need of Ornament Hospital. I need to teach, work on some blog posts, and work on the article.

And rake. And unpack. And keep decorating.

No one’s stressed and frantic around here, but an awful lot gets done in a short amount of time. There’s no dithering or procrastination — they just get to it. My kind of place.

Oh, does anyone have any idea what kind of bush this is? It’s in the backyard, with orange berries and pale yellow flowers — a nice late bloomer.

Devon

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
It’s supposed to be rainy and maybe even snow

Yep, scheduled to post again, because I intend to be back on the road and headed to the house before the sun comes up.

Packing the car with the clothes on Saturday morning was a pain in the patootie, but it all got packed, along with the leftover mirrors and a few other odds and ends, and we were on the road a little before 7, and arrived at the house a little before 11. Not a bad ride, not too much traffic. Unloaded, hung everything up in the respective closets — I’m so happy with my walk-in closet. I’ve got the clothes sorted so it makes sense to me — and not “all colors together” — that simply doesn’t work for me, all I see is blobs. I even have options for the big Thanksgiving dinner, depending on the weather. I’ll make some sachets when we’re up — cedar, rose, and maybe some jasmine flower or lavender — once we’re up there, and hang them from the poles. I actually have two closets in the room — a walk in and another, smaller closet. The closets in the storage area — four big ones — are housing the formal wear (the dresses I wore to opening nights and Tony Award shows, etc. and the rest of the various coats. The ones we use all the time are in the front closet (which is tiny) and the rest are up in the storage room. Eventually, I’ll make muslin bags for the formal wear, because they’ll get dry rot if they stay in the plastic garment bags, and they’ve already been in there far too long.

Imagine how delighted I was to find mail at the house — including a lovely housewarming card and Target gift card! Michelle, Lara, and Colin — thanks! It will go to good use, I promise!

Found the RIGHT leaf bags at Christmas Tree Shops, of all places. Looked for curtain fabric at Jo-Ann’s, but couldn’t find what I wanted. I think I need the furniture in, the slipcovers on, and the carpets down before I can make the fabric decision on the curtains that will best fit the rooms. The temporary ones up now do just fine for the moment. And the pre-made panels I’ve seen thus far just aren’t cutting it. Either the color is off by a few hues, or the texture’s not quite right. Fussy bitch, ain’t I? 😉 Re-stocked some stuff at Trader Joe’s. Bought a SERIOUS rake at Home Depot (look out, leaves) and looked at area rugs — some good possibilities for the writing room and the back bedroom. On to Stop & Shop and some more groceries, over to Verizon to pay the phone bill, Home Goods to look at slipcovers (which they don’t have at that one, for some reason)– but saw some other good rug possibilities, and Shaw’s to pick up the coffee and cookies I like from them. Bought the kidlets a new litter box for the downstairs bathroom — it fits the look of the bathroom and the space.

Cooked a great meal in my wonderful kitchen — pork chops smothered in mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, and steamed spinach.

I meant to bring the assignment for Confidential Job #1 up and finish it on Saturday night, but somehow, it didn’t make it into the bag. I’ve asked my editor for an extension. I did some other reading in the living room, but went to bed pretty early. The Hounds of the Baskervilles (aka the dogs who live on the property behind mine) were at it again, baying at goodness knows what, AND that house has teenaged boys — not sure if it’s one teenaged boy and his best friend is over all the time, or if it’s brothers — they “just happen” to go out and toss a football or frisbee back and forth whenever I’m puttering around, although they haven’t said anything yet. I just sort of wave, smile, and say hi, but haven’t really introduced myself to anyone yet. The West Highland Terrier’s person across the street seems nice (she was out raking the other day), but then, she DOES have a Westie, so she’s likely a kindred spirit. The Westie’s bed is in the bay window, so he takes note of our comings and goings. The retired guy next door with the pristine lawn has ALL his leaves done, even the back yard. As intimidating as having The Perfect Lawn next door, I do admire his love for his yard, and hope to learn a lot from him.

Everyone in the neighborhood will get a holiday cookie platter, so they’ll know who I am soon enough. I think they’re perplexed at the odd hours and erratic schedule. They will all pass out when two massive moving trucks pull up in front of the house in a couple of weeks!

Too cold and late to rake when I got back (but at least I now have the right tools). Pretty much everyone on the street is out raking, so I guess I’ll have to go out and do some more this afternoon. The backyard will take me about a week!

I love “falling back” timewise, and enjoyed the extra hour of sleep. Up early anyway, yoga, meditation, baked cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We were on the road by 7, back in NY around 11. Traffic wasn’t bad until New Haven — from New Haven to NY, it was all the pokies who only drive on Sundays and think 40 mph is acceptable highway speed.

On the agenda for Sunday afternoon: repainting the damaged windowsills, taking down the curtains and the hardware, washing the curtains (except for the one going to the lab for testing), packing more boxes, and some suitcases. More clothes going up tomorrow (stuff from the drawers), along with more foodstuff, bathroom stuff, and miscellaneous other stuff I don’t want the movers handling.

Teresa, I told the cats what Ivy said. Iris figures, “Okay”, but Violet still is skeptical. I think they will be really happy once we’re up there. Moving Day will be a challenge — a very long day and then driving at night (I don’t have good night vision and hate driving at night) when I’m already exhausted, but once we’re there, and once the movers have come and gone the next day, all will be good.

I just have to keep it together for another nearly two weeks. Ten more days until the big M-Day.

I miss my daily writing sessions, though. It’s starting to pull at me again. I look forward to getting back into that routine.

Devon

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Greetings from Philadelphia! Yes, I’m here. It’s hot and expected to get all the way up to 99 by Saturday. Ick.

Trip down was fine. Our Megabus left a few minutes late because the previous bus, headed to DC, was filled with morons who couldn’t seem to get on the bus. Honestly, the guy in charge was far too nice. He should have left them to wait for the next one, after the THIRD time he told them they had to board so the bus could leave.

Our bus boarded in about five minutes, and it was all good. At first, I had two seats to myself, but once we cleared the tunnel and were in NJ, a young guy asked if he could join me; his seatmate was freaking him out, in addition to reading what he worked on and commenting on it. What’s one of the universe’s little jokes is that, as people were boarding (I was third in line and had my pick of seats), this guy was the ONE person I thought, “Oh, if I have to have someone next to me, he’s the one I can deal with.”

We had a perfectly companionable time, chatting a little, but mostly he was working on his Macbook, and I was reading the material for Confidential Job #1. They paid me earlier than expected, so they have a temporary reprieve! 😉

Headed to the apartment in Philly. Dropped my stuff off. Grabbed my shopping bags. Headed nearly all the back back to he train station to Trader Joe’s. Did some grocery shopping. Stopped at the wine store. Stopped at Metropolitan Bakery. My usual settling-in routine. It rained a bit on my travels, but nothing major.

However, I got back to discover the corkscrew was gone. So, I headed across the street to the kitchen store to buy wine opener (the kind that looks like it has little arms that raise and you lower them and pop out the cork; it’s the only one I can use), and a wooden spoon. I stay at so many places, and I’m sick of having to hunt down what I need or do without; I’m putting together a “site kit” with a corkscrew, a set of wooden or bamboo spoons, a bath plug, etc. I already carry my French press along with me most of the time. It’s just easier to have a set of stuff that can get tossed into my bag when I travel, and then I don’t have to worry.

Had a late lunch; read and relaxed in the afternoon; got settled. Made a chicken biriyani for dinner. Watched a little TV, but went to bed early.

I hear Elsa is doing well, which is a relief. But I can’t believe how much I miss her! I miss the twins, too, but especially Elsa.

I’m headed to Reading Terminal Market this morning. It’s supposed to be 90 by noon and 94 by 3 PM, so I want to be back here and tucked away by noon. I hope to write this afternoon — I want to work on the new booklet and do some more planning on the new series.

I’m specifically not working on POWER OF WORDS this week, because I want it to percolate.

According to the astrologer, Saturn leaves Pisces today — thank goodness! I could use the break.

I’m forced to use Comcast while I’m here and it’s so damn slow! It’s like having dial-up again. Urgh.

Devon

Published in: on July 21, 2010 at 6:55 am  Comments (2)  
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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snowing

Spent a great deal of yesterday on conference work, which is as it should be. Unfortunately, it took much longer and was frustrating because the conference site kept kicking me off, and then, when I tried to post, it said I was flooding the site and would be banned. Excuse me, I’m doing my job! After several hours of it, I was ready to say, “No more.” I did sent a relatively polite email to the conference organizers asking for ways around it and expressing my frustration in (for me) relatively mild terms. They’ve tweaked something so the threat doesn’t appear, and now I’m only booted off every half hour instead of every five minutes.

It definitely makes tomorrow’s live chat a challenge, and makes me even more grateful that I have Optimum at home and not Comcast, like I have here, because Comcast isn’t as good or as reliable. Who would have ever thought I’d find a reliable provider? Now, if I can only wrestle away the websites to a new host, I’ll be all set.

Finished reading THE JOURNAL KEEPER, which is lovely. I highly recommend it.

Will go back to THE MANUAL OF DETECTION later today, in and around conference work.

Looks like I will be here until Monday, after all, which is a good thing, although Monday is turning out to be chaotic. I thought I’d have a full eight hour workday here before heading back to NY, but, although I’m still heading to NY in the late afternoon, my workday is truncated because someone else is coming in during the afternoon. I can’t change my ticket — they’re still trying to catch up on the cancelled transportation during the snow — so I have to either try to work elsewhere or do other research, et al for a few hours before coming back, picking everything up and leaving. I will probably do the latter.

Went to Trader Joe’s to do some grocery shopping — it was packed. Seems no one went to the store before the storm hit, so they’re all going now that they’ve emptied the larders. But I can cook and eat properly here now, instead of opening cans or putting something in the microwave or eating out all the time.

A family member in Maine has been diagnosed with cancer — that will change this year’s schedule quite a bit, as I’ll travel back and forth to help out as needed, and we’ll all do what needs to be done so he can recover.

About a block away is a music studio. They’re rehearsing with their windows open, and, due to the direction of the wind, I can hear the pieces. It’s quite lovely. Lots of french horn. Although the 34th time you hear Ravel’s “Bolero”, it gets a little old!

Conference is going well. We had to get some specifics sorted out — things that, to me are common sense, and, had the students pulled that at ANY of the writing programs in the country, they’d have been bounced. But, as a friend reminded me, this is the first conference many have attended, and they don’t know. To me, it’s common sense, and, even when starting out, I wouldn’t have dreamed of pulling such a stunt. But, for the moment, I clarified the position and will give them the benefit of the doubt.

I’m even taking a workshop in a genre out of my comfort zone to push me a bit.

I miss the cats, and, from what I hear, they are being spectacularly rambunctious in my absence, but I’m settling in a bit and getting down to work.

Back to the workshops.

Devon

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Violet and Elsa’s response to the baking activity

Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Waning Moon
Cloudy and cold

And we’re into Day 5 of no hot water. Getting tired of taking either cold showers or the infamous “whore’s bath.”

It will be months, probably next year, before I can face icing another cookie. I iced from noon until 11 PM last night — close to 500 cookies. AND baked another batch of thumbprints (which came out beautifully) and eggnog angels (that dough is a nightmare to work with).

Re: the latter, the eggnog cookies, I realized that EVERY recipe I tried from the magazine that contains that recipe was wrong. I’m wondering if they actually tested these recipes or, because of cutbacks due to the recession, someone made ‘em up and they printed them without testing. The proportions are wrong. The only even remotely usable recipe is the eggnog cookie (and the icing rocks,now that I’ve modified it). Now, the reason I buy other people’s recipes for holiday cookies is because I’m baking about 1000 of them, and I don’t have time to mess with the recipe. I want something that works. If I wanted to muck around with the recipe, I’d start from scratch and make my own!

Example: For the eggnog icing, it said to put in 3 Tablespoons of eggnog to the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla mixture and then spread on the cookie. You wanna know what 3 T of eggnog made it look like? Cornmeal. It took 7 Tablespoons of good-quality eggnog from my favorite dairy to make a spreadable consistency — 8 if you want it really smooth. SEVEN. That’s a big difference from THREE.

If I’d had the time, I could have messed with the recipe and figured out by how much the amount of flour was off, and how much more I needed to add to make it a solid, workable consistency, not only for rolling it out (I used THREE POUNDS of flour to roll out one batch of cookies, that’s how badly it stuck to everything), but so the cookies wouldn’t break. My normal breakage rate for cookies is about 3 or 4 out of every 100, so 3-4%. With this recipe, it was about 40%. With one of the other recipes in the same magazine, it was 100% — the cookies simply dissolved on the baking sheet.

I started baking cookies when I was four, so I’ve been doing this a LONG time, and I’ve never hit a package of recipes that are this far off, proportion-wise. I may mess with the eggnog recipe over the coming months to get the proportions right, but as for the rest? Not using this publication again, and certainly not buying it next year. AND I’m going to contact them and let them know why. In a half a dozen recipes, surely ONE should have come out exactly as written! I mean, they all should, but still . . .

On the flip side, Martha Stewart’s recipe for Royal Icing comes out perfectly, and I bless the day I picked up Wilton’s meringue powder at the chef store, thinking it might come in useful someday. That stuff is awesome.

Errands in the morning went well. Gotta love Trader Joe’s, dropped my cartridges off at the really good Staples in Larchmont, got my favorite Jim’s Organic Coffee at Mrs. Green’s, found where my yoga studio’s moved — a new, larger, lighter space with better parking, and about a minute closer to me. So that’s all good.

I’m downloading photos and doing the Cookie Cheat Sheets that I pack with them –a photo of the cookie and a one-line description, and warnings if there are any nuts or whatever. And then we assemble the platters, load them into the car and head out. I expect it will take almost all day to deliver 30 platters. I’m anchoring each platter with a small gingerbread cake, and then I have between 3-7 of six different kinds of cookies on each — you can see, there are a lot of cookies around. I have cookie tins stacked everywhere.

I also baked a cake yesterday — I meant to bake it for St. Nicholas Day, but oh well. It’s from the SILVER PALATE GOOD TIMES COOKBOOK, only I changed it. It’s supposed to be a straight up coffee cake with buttermilk, and then a layer of fruit on it and a layer of walnuts. Well, I went to the store because I never keep buttermilk in the house — don’t like it and usually forget to use it when I buy it. There were 16 kinds of eggnog (SIXTEEN — who knew you could have so many flavors of eggnog? Heck, I only drink eggnog once a year; I want it to taste like EGGNOG) — and no buttermilk. The entire shelf of buttermilk was sold out. So I guess a lot of people are baking this year.

Anyway, I picked up sour cream instead, and used sour cream instead of buttermilk — which to me, made the batter taste better. I mixed in the fruit and nuts instead of layering them — and it’s a pretty darned lovely cake, if I do say so myself!

Okay, off to finish the Cookie Cheat Sheets, assemble the platters. I think I’ll have to put the back seat down in order to load 30 cookie platters into a Volkswagen.

Have a great day, everyone!

Yeah, not much writing done yesterday OR this morning, but I have to admit, the minute I lose my holiday spirit, I sit down and write a few paragraphs, and it comes back.

Devon

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Violet keeps an eye on things

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Waning Moon
Rainy and mild

I kept thinking yesterday was Tuesday, so I feel like I have the gift of a day. Woo-hoo!

I baked for 9-1/2 hours yesterday. I used a Thumbprint cookie recipe from the 1960’s and it came out PERFECTLY. So the recipes published this year must have shifted proportions, which made them not hold together. After the holiday frenzy, I’ll spread everything out and compare them.

I filled the Thumbprint cookies with three different types of jam — apricot, raspberry, blueberry. Not in the same cookie, don’t worry — I’ve got three different flavors, and I made three batches. I may have to make one more batch just to make sure I have a few extra. I made more molasses spice cookies — Lara, I’m going to scan the recipe and send it to you — and several batches of toll house cookies, AND the miniature gingerbread cakes in the molds — some are Christmas trees and some are gingerbread men.

As I baked, I kept thinking, “Oh, I have to write about that tomorrow” and darned if I can remember what “it” was! Every available space is decorated, so I had to flip over some of those empty milk crates that I meant to take to storage but couldn’t fit in the car, cover them with a board and a cloth, and use them for cooling stations. The new mixer and the new, deep batter bowl are awesome. It made everything so much more efficient and easier. Using three cookie trays worked just fine — the two in the oven were staggered, so I was always prepping one while the others were baking. The good thing about a tiny kitchen is that I can stand in one spot and reach everything (unless I’m storing it on top of the cupboards, in which case I have to stand on a chair).

All in a galley kitchen so small that I have counter space big enough for the mixing bowl, and you can’t stand in front of a cabinet door when you open it. So the next time one fo the spoiled brat bitches on HOUSE HUNTERS whines she “can’t” cook in a galley kitchen and fakes bumping into her significant other, I will hunt her down and smack her silly! I figured that, over the years, I’ve turned out somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 cookies in various tiny kitchens all over the country, and probably close to 500 cakes and pies. Would I like a huge kitchen? Absolutely! CAN I work in a tiny kitchen? Well, I have for years. These spoiled brats on the show, who are just starting out and expect 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, granite counter tops, steel appliances, etc. for $200,000. My goodness, you can’t even buy a CLOSET around here for that! Studio apartments are usually two or three times that amount.

Maybe I need a break from HGTV! 😉

Anyway, today is Icing Day. I’m going to ice the sugar cookies and the eggnog angels. So, tomorrow will be the pack-and-deliver day. I’ve got all my packing supplies — plates, festive bags, ribbon — and I’m going to make some tags on the computer (I can never find exactly what I want in the store, so I often make them).

I wrote domestic cards through “L” last night, and I’ll push to finish the alphabet tonight. I’m a little late (I like domestic cards out the door by the 10th or 12th), but they’re getting there. I have two packages to mail tomorrow, domestically; I have to figure out what the heck to get my cousin’s son and get THAT out the door — it’ll be late, but it’ll get there, it’s going overseas. I have one more gift to pick up for my Mom, probably on Thursday. And I am DONE. I can set up Ornament Hospital, finish some decorating, and just enjoy the season. I’ve got all the stocking stuffers, I can concentrate on my anthology deadline. And I can have fun with the holiday.

My eye seems to be okay. It’s sore, but not inflamed or any vision problems. Those eye drops I bought in Prague are magic!

Gotta head to Trader Joe’s this morning for cat food (the felines were horrified by their empty cupboard after I fed them the last can), gotta hit Mrs. Green’s for some coffee, and Staples (all in the same direction), then double back to Costco for more butter. So far, I’ve used 16 pounds of butter, 15 pounds of flour, 8 pounds of sugar, 4 pounds of chocolate morsels, and, when I did the math, realized I could paper a football field with parchment. And I’m not quite done yet — I’ve still got a few cakes to make and a Trifle. I’m trying to figure out which liquor to use to soak the spongecake — sherry, port, madeira, brandy?

I’m having a serial dream about a story. Very weird, but interesting. I have to make sure I take notes as soon as I wake up every morning, so that I don’t lose it. I think it could be quite a cool piece.

I have a Toyland display set up — ornaments of children and toys that are too big and heavy for the little tree, but are able to stand on their own. When I came into the ktichen this morning (it’s in the eating area of the kitchen), they were all rearranged and facing different directions! I don’t know if the cats played with them (they’re in a place the cats can’t usually reach) or the Christmas magic touched them and they had a party while we were all asleep.

Or the building is shifting again and we’re all screwed! 😉

Personally, I prefer Option 2.

Gotta run, there are angels to ice and cats to feed!

Maybe one of these days, they’ll fix the boiler, we’ll have hot water for more than five minutes (trouble for nearly a week now), and I won’t have to keep boiling water to wash the dishes. Pain in the —- when you’re baking and washing up as you go. Scumbag landlords. They make cosmetic “improvements” that make the building look like a hootchie joint where we rent by the hour, and skimp on things like the boiler. Typical.

Devon

Friday, October 23, 2009

IMG_0661

Friday, October 23, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Still dark out

Yesterday was pretty productive. Worked on several different projects; got one polished and out. Headed off to Larchmont to the really, really good Staples. Got everything on my list, including the special folders for the grant material. That Staples has the best staff — they even found the refills for my favorite pen that I couldn’t find. The packet in which the pen comes calls the refill one thing, but none of the refills are so marked. Yet, if you look in a corner, there’s a teeny tiny number (totally different from the legible markings on either packet) that match.

Went next door to Mrs. Green’s, the organic store, and stocked up, and then to Trader Joe’s where, oh horrors, they only had ONE flavor of cat food, not three! I hope they haven’t stopped making it. I bought a few cans of the one, and I’ll head back next week, hoping it’s just a case of a late shipment. Because my cats do NOT eat the same thing every day. After three days, they’d be like, “You’re kidding, right? You’re feeding me THIS again? No!” and stalk off, noses and tails in the air. It wouldn’t hurt Iris to miss a few meals, but the other two really can’t at this point. My felines demand variety.

At Trader Joe’s, I also found my new favorite decadent delight, the dark Belgian chocolate crisps. They look like chocolate potato chips, but they’re out of chocolate. Oh, boy! Dangerous!

They also had a spiced apple bread mix. I’m not one for mixes too often, but it looked really good, so I picked one up. I noticed, standing in the checkout line that EVERY cart in line (about 20 of them) had several of those distinctively colored boxes! Too funny.

At this very moment, it’s mixed and in the oven.

Two tarot readings in the afternoon, then off to dinner at a friend’s, which was a ton of fun. So much fun that I stayed way too late and was surprised by the clock on the way home.

Up before the alarm this morning, which is good, since I have some Very Early Mornings coming up. Yoga, baking, at my desk before 7 AM.

“Lake Justice” is going very well.

I’ve got more errands this morning, one that can’t be done until this afternoon, another tarot client in between. The writing bag is almost packed for the weekend gig, and i leave around 7 AM tomorrow.

Enjoy your weekend!

Devon

Published in: on October 23, 2009 at 6:07 am  Comments (6)  
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

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

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was fun. Hot and sticky, but lots of good food and great company, after typical NYC transportation kerflamma.

I left early to run a few errands and got to the train station well before my train. The previous train was running late, so when it turned up, I jumped on, figuring the later train would be even later. Got in to Grand Central early. Texted Costume Imp — who was stuck on HIS train. Wandered over to Starbucks for an iced coffee– the woman behind the counter was hilarious, telling the woman in line behind me, “We have lots of great stuff here. Don’t you be fixing your face like that!”

Revived by iced coffee, I heard the announcement that the train I PLANNED to take was stuck somewhere along the line, and was grateful I wasn’t on it. Also noticed heavy police presence and that the trash bins were removed — NYPD must have gotten a tip.

Costume Imp arrived and we booked up Fifth Avenue through the tourists to Central Park. Of course, when we got into the Park, I got us headed in the wrong direction, but we found a helpful man with a map and only got to the Boathouse a few minutes late for our reservation. We were seated at a table right at water’s edge, where we could see the turtles poke up their little heads asking for bread from the bread basket. I don’t think I’ve ever seen turtles beg before!

We had a lovely three course meal with the appropriate wines — pate to start, I had the flank steak with horseradish-dill mashed potatoes and asparagus, Costume Imp had the pork, and we split a layered Key Lime Cake with mango after. Unfortunately, the cake also had coconut, which neither of us like.

We pulled out the Prague books and shared information, and Imp told me about this three weeks in Italy, which sounded wonderful! We’re gathering a lot of information for the trip, but also giving ourselves a lot of flexibility — not deciding a moment-by-moment itinerary, but seeing what we feel like doing each day, knowing we will cover a lot of ground over the course of a week.

On the way back, we stopped by the Strand outpost next to the park, where I got a book about dime novels and a Swedish mystery. We continued back down Fifth Avenue — Costume Imp peeled off to go back home, and I went over to Hagstrom’s to get a better map of Prague –one that actually has the part of town in it containing our hotel. I found it right away — and there was a whole shelf of books on Prague, which made my mouth water. I settled on a book of walking tours — although I don’t think we could do all of them (most of them are day-long excursions) — it will give us some details along the way.

The cultural history of Prague I’m reading discusses their “tradition of defenestration.”

Okay.

As good as the food was, I don’t eat meat often, and it sat like a lead ball in my stomach all night. I skipped both dinner and my workout.

Books arrived from National Geographic — a travel tale about Norway, a book about an excavation in the Andes, and the Family Reference Atlas, which is one of the coolest Atlases I’ve ever seen!

Packed for next week — clothes, anyway. I’ve got to back the books and reference materials today, and then I’ll pack the food first thing before I leave.

I’ve got to stock up on cat food at Trader Joe’s today, get some client work done, and get some work done on the short stories. I had a great morning’s work on the second mystery, but I’ve got to get the draft of the first one typed and printed so I can revise it over the weekend. I am not looking forward to figuring out how to cut 1500 words — that’s almost a story in itself. In other words, I have to decide if I’ll take out one of th elements running through the piece, or if I can make enough small, internal cuts and tightenings so that it adds up to 1500 words.

Ran into a neighbor while I took out the garbage this morning, and mentioned the DSL problem. He’s been having the same problem with Verizon, as have several other people in the building. When they call, they’re told to switch to FIOS to fix the problem, which is of course, more expensive. So it looks like all of us are making the jump to Optimum instead. None of us are amused by this strong-arm tactic.

Fixed the other side of the 1950’s chair yesterday, and hope to fix the seat today. Week after next, after the site job and the internet switch, I’ll go in search of fabric to make new cushions.

Got a reply to a job pitch. I’m definitely qualified, but this guy is trying to get me to give him a quote without giving me the details I need to give him a quote, saying he can’t talk about the project in detail yet and he needs a quote to see if we can move forward so neither of our time is wasted. I asked him a few more questions — if he answers, he gets a quote. If not, buh-bye. I’m sure I’m out of his price range anyway — I’m pretty sure, even though this is a long-term, royalty-producing project, he’s looking for an inexpensive work-for-hire, so he should probably get someone earlier in their career. But if he wants it to really take off, he needs someone with experience. Tough, when you’re creating a project, but if you’re going to hire in people rather than creating from within your tribe, the boundaries are different.

At least it’s cooler and less humid — for the moment.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and humid

First, and most important, I want to wish Gerard Canonico — actor, musician, songwriter, and friend — an enormous HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You are awesome, and I hope today ushers in the best year yet for you, and many more to come.

Got the Trader Joe’s errand done yesterday morning — I just love their ice cream! The cats are happy that the food cupboard is restocked. Got another load of boxes to storage.

Spent the afternoon researching at the Greenwich Library. Some of it was frustrating, since the information is so contradictory, and I’ll have to sort things out. But at least I have a starting point for the article. Since I was there, I also did research on a couple of other projects, took lots of notes which I’ll have to organize and then implement. The library was busy, but the desks are scattered well enough so that it’s easy to find a quiet corner where one can work undisturbed. It was a great and productive afternoon.

Came home, dealt with some correspondence. Had a lovely email exchange with a couple of potential new editors that allows me to return to one of my WIPs with renewed vigor. What a relief!

Decent writing session this morning — not brilliant, not terrible.

Somehow, I’ve managed to wrench my wrist. Doing things like turning the key in the ignition or lifting the coffee pot are excruciating. Unfortunately, I still have to haul boxes to storage, so I’ll wrap it and hope for the best. Just when the insect bite was healing well, too. I’d treated it earlier in the week, when it was red and irritated. I put one of my herbal concoctions on it — it actually bubbled and icky stuff drained out. Then I washed it and put neosporin on it, and it’s healed well. I don’t even think there’ll be a scar. But there was definitely venom in it. And it hurt like crazy when the concoction did its work. But it got rid of both the venom and the infection, so it’s all good.

Off to get stuff to storage, pick up a few things I forgot at the store earlier this week, and then client projects. I want to get the newest one turned around right away, because I plan to do a writing retreat this weekend starting tomorrow, and want to get everything cleared away before then.

An acquaintance of an acquaintance is offended because I won’t do a freebie. Too bad. I’d actually considered doing it as a favor until said person claimed to be getting an “error” message on the email, when it was an auto-responder, because the person (who was supposed to contact me four months ago and “never got around to it”) contacted me while I was away and is mad because I didn’t respond within a couple of hours. Sorry, buddy. Being a jerk costs extra.

Devon

Published in: on July 23, 2009 at 8:00 am  Comments (3)  
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Yesterday was a hit and miss day. The problems with UHaul continue — I can’t go into detail about it, unfortunately, but it will get very, very, VERY ugly tomorrow, and then there will be consequences.

The guy at the Genius Bar fixed my iPod in less than 10 minutes. I’m a little concerned because we couldn’t figure out WHY it went kerplooey, which to me indicates it could happen again (I always like to know the why), but it seems to work now. He did some Genius Bar magic and we re-entered information, and now it picks up wi-fi and is synched with MobileMe and doing all that stuff it’s supposed to do. I’ll know for sure this weekend, and then, if necessary, take it back. They were really nice in the store, as they always are, and they’re really good about herding people in a friendly way, so the rude, pushy people (the same ones who drive expensive cars and therefore feel that rules of the road and rules of basic courtesy don’t apply to them) don’t ride roughshod over everyone else. And the employees do it in such a friendly, humorous way that the a-holes don’t even realize they’re being herded. It’s quite an education to watch them do their thing.

I started spinning a story on the drive home, that I hope I can place with BOOKS FOR MONSTERS, since I enjoy working with them so much. I’m calling it comic urban fantasy, but it might veer off a bit in another direction.

Afternoon was spent fighting with UHaul, talking to a potential new client, and working on client projects.

It looks like I’ll get away for the weekend — provided I survive tomorrow, which will just be six ways of hell, if not more. There is no doubt in my mind that I will have to call for police intervention. That’s how out-of-control the situation has gotten.

Cooked pork chops smothered in garlic teriyaki sauce, with buttered noodles and crisp, steamed green beans. I haven’t had the chance to cook much this week, but intend to remedy that over the weekend and next week.

I’m really looking forward to a weekend of a whole lot of nothing. I will need to sleep a lot, eat a lot, drink a lot of wine, and maybe spend time by my friend’s pool after tomorrow.

Today, I’ve got to head to Trader Joe’s to stock up on cat food — we’ve only got two cans, and I can’t leave the cat sitter with an empty cupboard. The cats know what cupboard holds their food, and they are horrified when it’s opened and there’s not a tall stack of cans. We’re similar that way — we like well-stocked cupboards.

I’m going to try to get a little writing done, get the GDRS up, and prepare mentally for tomorrow.

Devon