Tues. Dec. 6, 2022: A Richly Busy Weekend

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Day Before Full Moon

Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Rainy and cold

Curl up and get comfy, and we’ll have a catch-up.

There’s a post over on the GDR site about looking back at November and forward to December.

Friday was a lot of fun. Mailed bills on the way out of town, and headed down to Great Barrington. I found a shorter route, which was good. But, because we’d left later than I expected, we stopped at another store on the way down that was open, but wouldn’t have been had we left on time, and picked up something we needed (but didn’t find the bayberry candles we went down to get).

On the way down, we made an impulse stop at the library in Pittsfield, which was having a lobby book sale and found some cool books. Some of them holiday craft books, because I am a sucker for even tacky holiday craft books (especially at 50 cents a pop). And these have some cool ideas in them.

We went only to one store in GB, one of our favorite thrift stores. I found a train station for my Christmas village and the crossing sign lights up! (Which is more than the crossing sign IRL down the street does). Found a couple of small plates in a favorite pattern, a really cool mermaid candle holder, and a silver chain and bracelet with the large links I need for the charms I have for each. I also found a silver-plated frame for my favorite picture of my dad (who died when I was 10).

On the way back, we stopped in Stockbridge, in search of bayberry candles, but no luck. Then it was to a store in Pittsfield to pick up the last gift for extended family in Maine, and a few goodies for us. With a stop at Adams Fresh Market for fish for Friday night supper.

Pizza for lunch. I’m going to have to start making pizza from scratch again. Store-bought pizza tastes worse every time we buy it.

In the afternoon, I turned around two script coverages, and did some admin work. I was tired by the end of it. Really, really tired.

Tried reading for pleasure, a mystery that came recommended. But the writer uses “witch” as a slur against women and the world’s internal logic doesn’t makes sense, placing the characters in the “too stupid to live” category. So that one goes back, and that author is crossed off my list.

In Ellen Byron’s latest newsletter, she posted a photo of gigantic earrings she bought several decades ago in a shop on Columbus Ave. in NYC. I started laughing, because I remember the shop AND the earrings. They were too big to wear, so she turned them into Christmas ornaments. I love that so much. And that’s just so Ellen.

Her next Catering Hall Mystery (under the Maria DiRico name) comes out in March, and I’m excited.

Saturday morning, I had trouble getting going. But I did. And I wrote the first draft of “Net Worth” (which goes up today on Ko-Fi). The bones worked, and I knew I would do some edits. It came in a little over 1K, but hey, I don’t have to fit someone else’s word count. It won’t go too far one way or the other once it’s edited.

I started “Comfort, Then Joy” which was originally aimed to Ko-fi, but which I now feel is better suited to the quarterly newsletter. The story’s in my head; it’s just a case of getting it down on paper.

After a couple of hours at the desk, we hauled out the big Christmas tree from the broom closet and brought it into the living room. I started fighting with the stand, which has never worked well (and I bought this damn tree in 1989, or maybe it was 1990).

I finally decided I had HAD IT. I put the stuff down, wrapped up, got into the car, and drove into the escalating storm to get a new artificial tree stand. I got the last small one in the store, and while I was there, picked up a couple of oversized decorative poinsettias that clip to branches. I had hoped to find a finial topper, but no luck. I’ll keep looking in thrift stores after the holidays. All the other traditional toppers were too gaudy for our tree.

Home. Unwrapped. The new stand snapped together in less than 5 minutes, the tree slipped in and locked, and we could spend quality time fluffing the tree, instead of fighting for an hour or more with the stand. We put the lights on the tree (which actually had stayed coiled properly this year). And moved the tree into position in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. We use the glass doors to frame it.

Even though this stand is far sturdier than the other one, I tied off the tree to the door hinges, just for added security.

We unpacked all the ornaments from the big bin in the closet in the sewing room and put them on. The shimmery gold ornaments and some small wooden ornaments go on last, after everything else goes on, and we put those aside.

That took most of the afternoon, but we had a lot of fun with it. Each ornament has a story, and we tell and retell our history with it.

The kitty litter delivery from Chewy also arrived, so I got to haul 45 pounds of cat litter up the stairs.

Sprawled on the couch reading in the evening, with candles on and cats on laps.

Willa is so gentle when she checks out the tree. It’s kind of adorable. Tessa circled it a few times, and pointed out where some branches needed adjustment, and then was satisfied. Charlotte watched from a safe distance.

They really are all very good with the tree. But then, we don’t shut them out when we decorate. They’re always a part of the process of unpacking ornaments, putting things up, or packing them. ALL my cats have been good with the trees. I mean, Elsa (tortie) used to climb the bare tree, but she was fine once the ornaments were up. And Iris (Russian blue) used to choose a patch of tree she wanted bare and remove the ornaments. But none of them were ever destructive.

The storm intensified, and we had power outages on and off all night. Tessa did not like it, and roamed the house, complaining, each time it went off or on. I discovered that, while I could report the outage to the electric company, the gas company has no system for outages. WTF? Charlotte and Willa just burrowed deeper in blankets.

By the time I got up on Sunday morning, everything was fine again.

I mean, we live in a city, not a rural area (despite what Staples claims, when they slap “rural carrier fees” onto orders). It makes sense they’d get the power back on pretty quickly.

Sunday was cold and sunny. My neighbor knocked to let me know packages arrived last night. He’d knocked on the door, but, for whatever reason, I hadn’t heard, and he’d taken them in and then brought them over this morning. One was the Goddess Provisions box (which I didn’t expect until Monday) and the other was a gift from a friend in NY.

After breakfast, I revised “Net Worth” mostly for internal logic, and starting to layer in some sensory details. There’s plenty I intentionally don’t explain and leave for the readers’ imaginations.

I did some more work on “Comfort, Then Joy” which is surprising me for all the right reasons. I’m a little past halfway with it. I figure it’ll come in between 3-5K, a little longer than I wanted for a newsletter story, but it’s a fairly short newsletter.

In the late morning, we went over to the Alpaca Farm to pick up a gift for the cousin in Maine, and then to pick up a few things at Wild Oats. They had bayberry candles! And wonderful ones, from Mole HIll in Sturbridge.

The afternoon was all about wrapping presents, packing the packages, writing the cards to go in the packages, taping everything up, mailing labels, etc. I was tired, grumpy, and feeling every bit of my age by the end of it. Charlotte helped, which was pretty funny.

I like the wrapping and choosing things I think my friends would enjoy. But the whole post office prep can be a bit much. But I had the labels and the tape and the Sharpies and all the rest, so it was fine.

Too tired to do much more in the evening except have a glass of wine with some cheese, crackers, and fig/orange spread, enjoying the 2nd of Advent candles and the partially finished tree.

Dipped into a bit of Script Chat, but felt old and grumpy and in pain, so I wasn’t at my best.

To date, I have been invited to 17 different holiday gatherings, none with appropriate COVID protocols, and therefore have said no to all the invitations. Not worth the risk. I’m grateful they invite me, but I’m not getting sick because someone can’t be bothered to wear a mask. So I don’t put myself in high risk situations.

Fell into a very deep sleep. Charlotte woke me around 1:30. When I went back to sleep, I dreamed that I met Dewi Hargreaves, with whom I’m friendly on various social media, in person. We were meeting a couple of others we “knew” from social media in a parking lot somewhere, but they were wittering on about stuff we found vicious and tedious, so we ditched them to go to a book-lined bar and talk about books, which sounds like a nice evening to me. In this Dreamscape, we didn’t have to worry about COVID.

Tessa woke me up around 4, and I told her I was NOT getting up that early, and fell back to sleep. I dreamed that I was at an estate sale, bought 5 vintage suitcases, some books, and lots of women’s gloves. I have lots of suitcases (but love luggage) and I do pick up vintage gloves a lot (at least I did, pre-plague), so that made sense. But there was this other guy there, who kept trying to take stuff I’d already paid for and add it to his pile.

According to dream “experts”, dreams about suitcases mean an upcoming trip, or the need to access personal information about yourself. Dreaming about gloves shows a need for protection. It’s pretty obvious what someone taking something symbolizes. However, in this case, I think it was all more literal than metaphorical. But I’ll use the Rackham Tarot given to me by my friend to dig deeper. That deck works well for dream work.

I woke up late, and felt behind the beat and tired all day.

I got the Monday blogging done, made the SM rounds, sat down and made the grocery list. I took the packages to the post office. Managed to park right in front, walk right up to the desk, and was done in just a few minutes – AND within budget. Everything will be where it needs to be by the end of the week. It was sunny, so everyone was in a good mood (and most masked, indoors).

Went to Big Y to do the Big Shop. I think I’m all set for baking – will probably need to get more eggs, as some point. But I’ve been stockpiling staples for a few weeks, and I think I’m in pretty good shape.

Got a batch of veggie stock made in the crockpot. Did another draft of “Net Worth” so it was where I needed it to be in order to put it up this afternoon on Ko-fi. Polished the next two posts for The Process Muse, chose the graphics, uploaded and scheduled.

Turned around two coverages.

Jeremy’s soup class was great. He taught us to make Italian Wedding Soup, and I learned a bunch of new techniques. Charlotte was delighted, although I had to stop and grate some Parmesan for her, because he used Parmesan and talked Parmesan, and every time he said the word, she got all excited.

Tired. Had weird dreams overnight.

Last night was St. Nicholas Night, a traditional celebration, where one leaves out a shoe, and wakes up to find it filled with chocolate or candy or whatever. Chocolate and cocoa for us, this morning. And we generally put the goodies in either a gift bag or one of the Christmas stockings and put the bag in the shoe, because, you know, hygiene.

Waking up to chocolate is always good.

The coffee filter split this morning, so there are coffee grounds in the coffee. Better than no coffee, and I HAVE to get the new coffeemaker up and running.

Roxane Gay shared an article written by Isabel Kaplan about her boyfriend, a fellow writer, breaking up with her once she had some success. He didn’t like that she kept a journal. He felt it was his “responsibility to take her down a peg” and so on and so forth. It reminded me so much of a toxic, emotionally abusive relationship I was in back in the mid-90’s. I’m so glad I’m not still with that guy. I would be dead, emotionally (and most likely physically; he had a history of dead wives). She talks about parsing out her good news, about contorting herself emotionally until she’s a pretzel and then blaming herself for the hurt. It hit very close to the bone. Too many men in my life have defined “partnership” as me putting my writing last while doing physical, emotional, and sexual labor to promote their careers. No. Just no. The right partner will not sabotage the writing. The bell weather for me, in a relationship is – if my writing improves, sparkles, strengthens with this person, it’s a good relationship. If the writing falters or stalls, it means get the hell out.

And, as someone who has kept a journal for 50 years (there are boxes of them in storage), anyone who tried to keep me from my journal, or, worse yet, violated my trust by READING it, was gone in a heartbeat. My blogs are public. What’s in those handwritten books is private.

The big priority this morning is getting at least some of the next episodes of LEGERDEMAIN uploaded and posted. ‘Net Worth” goes up on Ko-fi this afternoon. We’ll see where we are, timewise, after that. I need to work on “Comfort, Then Joy” and also work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH and more LEGERDEMAIN, but that might not happen.

The baking begins today. I’ll do two batches of one kind of cookie right after lunch, then start my script coverages for the day. That should let me get all my baking done by the end of the weekend, so I can start delivering cookie platters early next week.

No doubt, I will post photos as I bake.

Have a good one, my friends. Peace and joy to you.

The next epsiode of Legerdemain goes live today. Enjoy!

Tues. July 12, 2022: Building a Sense of Creative Community

image courtesy of ds_30 via pixabay.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Sunny, warm, humid

There’s a quick post over on the GDR site about how too many prompts, etc. can be counterproductive.

Friday was actually pretty fun. I wrote the first draft of the one act in the morning. I did my errands: gas station, couple of stores to get hardware and more pots, library, wine store. Ran into my friend the baker at the library, and made plans to get together at the Farmers’ Market Saturday.

Home, and got everything unpacked.

Did my first Duolingo Italian assignment. I’m keeping my expectations low, just 10 minutes per day. The first lesson breezed right past. Having a little bit of French definitely helped. I could see correlations. What I’m not sure about is if I’m actually learning the vocabulary, because a lot of “writing the sentences” was about choosing the words that made the most sense. But am I really learning them? Still, it was fun, and if I feel comfortable with the Italian lessons in a few months, I might see if I can level up my French with them, too.

I kept up with the Duolingo assignments every day all weekend. I enjoy them, but I also need an Italian textbook to understand some of the “whys” behind the choices.

Saturday was Farmers’ Market Day. The weather was gorgeous, the stalls filled to bursting with glorious offerings. I stocked up on large tomatoes, cucumbers, baby red potatoes, fennel, sugar snap peas, lemon basil, eggs, espresso coffee cake muffins, banana bread – just wonderful. It’s as much as social/community experience as a shopping one. The regulars chat with each other, it’s full of friendly dogs making friends, everyone is cheerful and happy to be there. I look forward to going there every week.

I talked to my friend the baker about commissioning her to make the cheesecake for my mom’s 98th birthday in October. Cheesecake is my mom’s favorite, and she should have a good one. I always buy one (because I am terrible at making cheesecake), and I’d rather the money go to a local, small business, really talented baker.

I popped into the grocery store to build around the FM finds, then headed off to Wild Oats, the co-op, to fill in a couple of other things, and then to another grocery store on the way home to pick up something I knew they carried.

The stores have put the signs back up “recommending” and “requesting” people masks again, regardless of vaccination status. Locals have been good about it throughout, but it’s tourist season, and while it’s nowhere near as whackadoodle here as it was on Cape, there are still germy nasties roaming around.

At one of the grocery stores, a white (of course) woman whined to the manager, “I’m on vacation. I don’t want to wear a mask, and I shouldn’t have to look at anyone else wearing a mask. Maybe I’ll just take my tourist dollars and go home.”

I stopped my masked ass the requisite social distance from her and said, “You’re gone, we’re alive, sounds like a win to me.”

She did that guppy face thing, and the manager cracked up.

Because fucking tourists.

The Cape’s COVID numbers have gone way up (of course). Makes me glad I’m not there anymore; makes me worry about friends and colleagues living/visiting/working there.

We were considering taking our two-day autumn break at the tip of the Cape, on the beach, but my mom said, “No way am I going to Cape Cod when they continue to behave like selfish idiots.” And then I got an email from the state health whatever about how the highest rate of monkeypox in the state is in Provincetown, so yeah, we’ll skip it.

So we will go elsewhere. Maybe the coast of Maine or to Newport. I just want to sit somewhere overlooking ocean and read books for two days. No sightseeing (which is why it makes sense to go somewhere familiar). No indoor dining. A room/cottage with a deck, an ocean view, and books. A room with a fridge, and we’ll do takeout. If there’s a kitchen, I can cook. Although, hey, vacation, maybe I’ll stick with takeout. If the virus numbers keep going up, we aren’t going anywhere.

Speaking of cooking (note the segue way), I used the lemon basil from the market and made pesto, because I do love pesto, and I love Full Well Farm’s lemon basil, so lemon basil pesto it is.

I made vegetable stock in the crockpot, which worked well. I’ll freeze one jar and keep the other two in the fridge to use up.

Saturday afternoon, I could not put it off any longer, and finished the Kitchen Island Cart from Hell. Because the directions are so bad, I had to take something apart, do the next step, then do the thing I had to take apart, because if I did it in the order of the directions, I could get at the bit that needed to be done next. But by flipping the order, I could do both. Also, they kept instructing work done on it when it was sideways on the floor, when it made more sense to work on the bottom when it was upside down, and I could use my bodyweight. It was impossible to tighten the top the way the instructions ordered – there was no way to get in a tool to do it in that space. I’m trusting gravity, and, if need be, later on, Gorilla glue. The piece for the back wasn’t cut square, but I managed to nudge it to at least cover what needs to be covered. The doors splintered when the hardware was fastened. So they are put aside. I found one of my old tension rods, and I’m using the sewing mouse café curtains that always adorned my offstage workstation off-Broadway at theatres like the Variety Arts. They’re a little long and wrong, but until I can make other curtains (I have good fabric in my stash), they will do. I will also get some fabric for the back of the cart, because it’s so darn ugly I can’t stand to look at it. I will trim it and Velcro it onto the back, so that I can wash it when needed.

But the drawer (I built a drawer; I’m so proud) and the shelves  and the top are fine. The Tupperware is in the bottom, and the baking pans I had stacked over the cabinets nearest the kitchen window all fit. Now I have room, on that cabinet top, for the teapots I’m bringing up from the next storage run. The top is a good workspace, and I always need more workspace.

But I was achy and tired by the end of the day.

Sunday was another beautiful, sunny, temperate day. The wreath we bought the weekend after Thanksgiving, hung on the door for the Winter Yule season, then stripped of ornaments and hung on the living room since, just started drying up. So I stripped the wreath. I have one jar of small needles/twigs for Winter Solstice. I have 5 jars of pine needles stripped from the rest of it.

What would you use pine needles for? Glad you asked. Incense, sachets, charms, bath mixtures, and potpourri. For instance, for this holiday season, I’ll pour pine needles in a bowl, take an orange, stud it with whole cloves, toss in some cinnamon sticks, and there’s a holiday scent without anything perfumy. I can take a cheesecloth or linen bag, put in pine needles, rosemary, and orange or lemon peel, and put it in the bathwater. (Trust me, you want it a bag you can soak and then dump, not loose in the water. Learn from my missteps. There are places on the human body in which pine needles should never venture).

I’ll keep the frame, in case I want to build some other kind of wreath using it.

Tessa helped. She loves anything scented (and I think she misses my stillroom as much as I do). Willa watched from a safe distance. Charlotte slept through the whole thing.

But most of Sunday was mellow, enjoying reading, being on the porch, playing with the cats, etc. The neighborhood was quiet, because people took advantage of the nice weather to go out and do things Elsewhere. Which meant Here was quiet.

I finished the Shirley Jackson biography and read Thomas Lynch’s wonderful poems WALKING PAPERS. He is a poet who is also an undertaker. I have several of his books to read.

Sauteed fresh trout from the local fishmonger in butter, with salt and pepper, boiled fresh red potatoes (from Red Shirt Farm) and served them with butter, and blanched sugar snap peas (from Full Well Farm) in boiling water, then tossed them with sesame oil and parsley. Absolute bliss, tasting real flavors.

I’m enjoying the kitchen island cart. The additional workspace is wonderful.

Went to bed ridiculously early. Woke up at 1:30, but went back to sleep, until Tessa and Charlotte rousted me out of bed around 5:30.

Got the email box down from over 700 emails to 67. Worked on my day’s Italian lesson. Created interview questions for a project. Did a run to the library and the grocery store to pick up something forgotten over the weekend. Worked out a visit in a few weeks to a friend I haven’t seen since before I moved to the Cape (although we always kept in touch).

I’m having trouble with my keyboard. It’s only working on the top half of the screen. More Windows 11-HP-McAfee miscommunication, no doubt.

The dickhead postal carrier AGAIN put my box in the mail slot, where I can’t get it out because the residence side is 1” smaller than the postal slot. Seven fucking months this has gone on. So I wrote it all out in a formal letter to the postmaster. If it continues, I’ll file the complaint through the main USPS system. I was polite in the letter and asked for better training, even though I know, after seven months of conversations and notes with this guy, he’s just being a dick.

Read a script in the afternoon, but didn’t finish the analysis. I will do that today, and read another script that came up in the queue, only the file was corrupted, so I had to request a new copy. That came through, so all good.

In the early evening, I went over to Greylock Works, the converted mill, that’s a really cool space now. The Northern Berkshire Artist Meetup was there, coordinated by several groups. It was a mixed experience. Cool space. But indoors, and not everyone was masking (I, of course, did). With food and drink, even those masking had to remove them sometimes. More people in the space than I was comfortable with, although the fans and ventilation system was strong.

Some very cool people. I met an older artist who calls works in “oversized political origami” and married to a guy who was a Madison Avenue adman in 1960’s NYC. I met a filmmaker/sculptor/teacher. I met a guy who moved up here from DC with his poet boyfriend (I told him about the World’s Largest Poem). And, in passing, a bunch of other people. One chick announced, “Oh, my husband just tested positive for COVID. Maybe I should wear a mask?” and started giggling. No, hon, you should LEAVE.

Everyone near by stepped back, and those who weren’t masking scrambled to put theirs on. Fortunately, she was way more than 6 feet away (more like 12 or 16, but hey, airborne). I stayed away.

The new director of MASSMoCA, Kristy Edmunds, was the guest speaker, sharing her views on sustainable creative practice, and her vision to help artists shape and live sustainably creative lives (in other words, paid for their work and supported). She takes the time to get to know people in the community as individuals, not just the big donors. That makes a huge difference. She was really interested in talking to us, and in continued conversation. Several other organizations/agencies distributed information and resources. There’s a lot to tap into, and a lot of sharing of resources going on.

I left soon after the talk and those conversations. I would have liked to stay and listen to the music, but too many people indoors and, I’m not yet comfortable with that. As it is, I’m going to be a paranoid hypochondriac for the next 10 days, watching for symptoms. But, as the friend who worked on the vaccine pointed out, I’m probably exposed to just as much virus every time I got into the grocery store. I need to keep masking, remain cautious, and let the vaccines do their job.

I was masked. Let’s hope this wasn’t a miscalculation. I’ll know soon enough, right? When I came home, I went through the old, pre-vaccine decontamination protocols, just in case.

I didn’t get much sleep, thanks to Charlotte and Tessa hurling furballs all night. The cats have shed their summer coats already, and are growing in thick winter coats. The squirrels are putting things away for winter (destroying a lot of the plants on the balcony). It bodes for a tough winter.

Up early this morning (because it’s hard to sleep through hurling furballs). Off to the laundromat. Worked on the multi-colored draft of The Big Project. I’d like to work on revisions for the one acts, but I have to get the Big Project where it needs to be, so the announcement can go out next week, and the marketing push can begin. I will also follow up on the cards/postcards/contacts I collected yesterday.

I may, however, need to take a nap somewhere in there. The cats, of course, are all fast asleep.

I have some bills to drop in the box at the bottom of the road, but I’m going to spend the morning on Topic Workbooks and The Big Project, and the afternoon on script coverage. This evening, I will start reading the next book for review.

That’s the catch up. Hope you’re having a great week.

Tues. June 21, 2022: Creativity in Multiple Directions

image courtesy of Chris Martin via pixabay.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere)

Cloudy and pleasant

Friday turned out to be an up and down workday. I spent some time working the class I’m teaching in August, preparing both the Topic Workbook for it and the PowerPoint. Some of my examples have not aged well over the past couple of years, so I’m switching them out.

I hopped onto Pages on Stages to do some updates, and it was an absolute mess. The posts page had somehow detached from News & Updates. Most of the time, I got the white screen of death when I tried to get on or switch pages.

I was lucky to land some excellent techs at A2Hosting, and together, we spent a couple of hours sorting it out. I am very grateful, and told them directly, and on social media. Hey, if I’m going to moan on social media when a company is awful, I have the obligation to praise when a company comes through.

I need to put up a media room page on that site eventually, with links to productions.

I did a library run to drop off/pick up books. It started raining when I left (on foot). I almost turned back, but it stopped within two minutes, so I continued.

Turned around a script in the afternoon. My Llewellyn contract came through, so I’m good to go on that article after 4th of July weekend.

I’m playing with a very dark idea for an anthology call edited by a friend. I don’t know if I can pull it off within word count by deadline, but I will try.

Reading an article in THE NEW YORKER about a new production of HAMLET spawned an idea for a new project that mashes up two genres that seem weird, but just might work. I have to finish what I’m working on first, though, before I hie off on anything else. I made some notes, to capture characters and energy, and now that project has to wait its turn.

Tessa started howling at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday. I moved to the sewing room, but she was not mollified. We no longer leave her food down at night for her 2 AM snack, because the others are eating it, and Willa is putting on too much weight. However, Madame Tessa Is Not Amused. She wants her 2 AM snack.

Got the proof done on “Personal Revolution”, fixed a couple of formatting things, and it is out. The re-release happens June 28. Once I get links and stuff, there will be a push for it.

Now, I have to decide what’s the next Digital Delight to come off Smashwords and switch over to D2D. Probably “Severance.” I want a new cover for that, too. Or maybe I’ll take down “Plot Bunnies” and put it up with the next Twinkle Tavern piece that hasn’t yet released, “Labor Intensive.”

Headed to the Farmers’ Market. I didn’t need much, but made the rounds to chat with the vendors; ran into people I knew from other spaces, such as the library, and we were chatting as to how it’s often hard to place people out of context. You know that you know them from somewhere. . .

Quick grocery shop from the store. Didn’t need much. Home, put it all away, lugged 66 pounds of cat litter up the stairs (Chewy delivery).

Then, I spent the rest of the day trying to put together the kitchen island cart I ordered. I wasn’t even close to finishing after 6 hours (it’s supposed to take 2 people 70 minutes). The directions were incomplete, so I had to hunt for another set online. The drawings aren’t detailed enough with some of the pieces, so then I had to find various videos of similar pieces to figure out the details, so I wouldn’t put something on incorrectly and have to take it apart again.  And the design is so poor that, by following the directions, I had no room to maneuver the tools needed to tighten the next thing in the directions. Very frustrating.

If I ever get it put together, I think it will be a decent piece, though.

Used bounty from the Farmers’ Market to make a pasta primavera in Alfredo sauce (and used our own basil for it).

Started reading a biography of Balzac, before I go and re-read some of the novels.

By evening, every damn thing hurt and I went to bed ridiculously early. I slept well, dreaming of various gardens, which was rather nice.

Worked on an ad and other promotional materials for the re-release of “Personal Revolution” on Sunday. Started getting the pre-order buy links. I’m adding them onto the various websites as I get them. The release is holding to June 28.

Played with some other graphic tools to try to get comfortable. Since I can’t seem to do all of what I need with any single tool, I’m learning how to mix and match bits of what I want to do in different programs to get to the whole. It’s actually less irritating that trying to figure out a single program.

Made a logo for the project inspired by the article yesterday. If THAT’s not putting the cart before the horse and all, right? But it gave me an excuse to play with learning something new.

Worked on the newsletter. If you haven’t yet signed up for it, you can do so here. It will go out later this week. And, hint – in the newsletter, I reveal what The Big Project is really all about! So if you’re interested in finding out what I’ve been yapping about for months, calling it “the Big Project” you will find out before the hoi-polloi.

I created a bunch of ads for the Big Project, too, and they are really cool. I’m having way too much fun creating these ads. I’m trying to capture the voice of the piece in the ads.

One of the best things I started doing is opening a new document for the upcoming newsletter and adding information on projects over the course of the quarter. That way, I don’t have to scramble to remember what I did, and what I want to talk about.

Made more vegetable stock. Because buying all these vegetables from the market means I have lots of bits and bobs left over for stock. Not at a zero waste kitchen yet, but working on it.

Most of the day was spent on working on things around The Big Project, which will save me time and effort once it launches in July. It was a lot of fun.

I couldn’t face the kitchen island cart on Sunday. I needed the time away.

Slept well Sunday into Monday. Got caught up on some blogging, and blogged ahead. There’s a post on healing over on the GDR site, if you’re interested.

Planted some of the borage seeds and more cat grass. Got through nearly 400 emails. Sent out two LOIs. Worked on an anthology story.

The Authors Guild is doing a Words, Ideas, and Thinkers Festival this September over in Lenox, which is close by. Well, okay, about an hour, but just about everything is at least an hour away. They sent me an invite to attend, and I accepted. It’s in the calendar. I mean, if the COVID numbers are way up again at that point, I’ll cancel, but I know the venue, and they have good protocols in place. I’m hoping it will be safe to attend. I’m sure I’ll be masked, no matter what.

Since I didn’t have any scripts in my queue, I spent the afternoon on the porch, reading the next book for review. This morning, I will send off the review, and hopefully get assigned the next book before my editor goes on vacation.

Made a sausage pasta for dinner, and it was yummy. We have plenty of leftovers for the week (most of them pasta).

The B plotline has switched with the A plotline in the anthology story. It makes it a quieter story, and I hope the editor doesn’t feel it no longer fits the tone of the overall anthology. We’ll see. It’s for a created world, so it’s not like I could use it anywhere else if it’s rejected, not without major, major re-envisioning. But trying to force it the other way wasn’t working. All I can do is send in the best piece I can to this point, and then get notes on it, and apply them.

The other anthology story I need to get out by the end of the month is percolating in the back of my brain. I’ll be making the bed or chopping onions, sorting through plot possibilities: If I do A, with D work, or should I go with E? That type of thing. Hopefully, once the shared world story is out, I will have figured out enough of the other piece to just sit down and draft.

Slept well last night, although I woke up about every two hours (similar to what I was doing last year at this time). By 3 AM, Charlotte and Tessa were fussing. They woke me from a dream where I was temping at a company. I’d brought in blueberry muffins. Their kitchen/breakroom was stacked high with empty/used takeout containers and dirty dishes. They told me to clean the kitchen. I told them I was there to type, not be the maid. They laughed and said they couldn’t get any of the wives to come in and clean. I told them maybe they should stop being sexist and  learn to clean up after their own damn selves.

That definitely happened to me more than once in my temping years, but I didn’t recognize this company or these people. Something about the dream made me think it took place in Chicago, and I never temped in Chicago. New York, Westchester, San Francisco, Seattle, yeah. Chicago, no.

I moved to the couch. Charlotte settled on top of me, Tessa rummaged. I dozed off and dreamed about more boxes (echoes of the move, no doubt). Willa woke me around 5:30, telling me she was Very Hungry, so I got up and fed them.

Plenty to do today, even without scripts in the queue, although I hope some more show up, so I can make my goal this pay period.

Last year today was the day the movers were supposed to show up and did not. I am glad we are where we are (and that it isn’t as hot as it was at this point last year, either).

I have every intention of enjoying the Summer Solstice, even though it’s supposed to rain.

Have a good one.

Tues. June 14, 2022: An Enjoyable Weekend

image courtesy of Rustu Bozkus via pixabayc.om

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Full Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Sunny and warm

Busy weekend, but a good one. Headed down to Pittsfield for a quick jaunt to pick up a few things I couldn’t source elsewhere. Turned around a script coverage. Got showered, dressed, and put on makeup to go to the art opening. It was close enough to walk, and the weather was good enough, so I did, even risking walking in cute shoes. I mean, I couldn’t wear sneakers with the dress. I could, but I didn’t want to.

The opening was artist Conrad Egyir’s solo show, after a year of teaching as an artist-in-residence here at the college. The work is wonderful. The way he captures eyes is compelling. There’s so much life in them. He’s also a really nice guy. We had a good conversation. The exhibit runs until September 1, so I can bring visitors to it.

One of the things Egyir mentioned echoed what the artists in the Open Studios at MassMOCA said: that being here gave them a sense of freedom and liberation to experiment and try new work. They didn’t feel the commercial pressure and expectations they felt at home. People are busy doing and creating here. Instead of putting newcomers through tests to join various inner circles, they open up, include, and encourage, and that’s a nice atmosphere to be around.

Attending these events makes me think more about my own work. How can I take more chances? How can I mix disciplines to tell stronger stories?

Came home, got into comfy clothes, and made dinner, then worked on the next review assignment.

Signed up for a yoga class – again, in walking distance (although I will drive). It’s one of the few studios in the area with strict COVID protocols. I’ll take the class, see if I like the teaching style and feel comfortable at an indoor class, and go from there. It will be my first in-person class in nearly three years. It’s at the end of the month, a special new moon yin class.

Going to the art opening tonight and going to class in a couple of weeks are both calculated risks. If I’m wrong, I’ll pay the price.

Actually slept well on Friday night, although the cats got me up early. I was at the Farmers’ Market just after they opened, and so excited to gather the week’s bounty (and talk to the farmers and other shoppers). Farmers’ Market is as much as social experience as a shopping experience.

After the Farmers’ Market foray, I went to the grocery store and built the week’s meals around what I bought at the market.

When I came home and put things away, I had to make another batch of vegetable stock, because my “odds & ends” bag in the fridge was full. I’ll need to rearrange the freezer as I freeze lots of stock, so that we have it in the winter. I used a lot of cilantro stems in this batch, so the whole house smelled like cilantro (which is a smell I enjoy).

The Goddess Provisions box arrived and it’s wonderful, built around the sun, and summer solstice.  Ellen Byron’s book, BAYOU BOOK THIEF, the first in her new series, arrived. After lunch, and answering some follow-up questions on a script coverage, I started reading it, and finished it on Sunday. It inspired me to see if The Pump Room in Chicago ever put out a cookbook or cocktail book in its heyday. I have one of their drinks carts and some glassware, which an extended family member who worked there gave my parents when the restaurant underwent one of its renovations. I’d like to see what they cooked. One of the later chefs, when it was part of the Ambassador Hotel, has out a cookbook, but I want something from the early days.

It was supposed to rain on Saturday all day, but it didn’t, so people went out and enjoyed the day. In the evening, people had their drinks out on their porches and balconies and called out conversation from safe social distances. It was fun.

A Twitter pal was talking about how there should be magicians at funerals, and now I must write a short story “The Funeral Magician.”

Up early on Sunday, thanks to the cats.

Discussed airlines and airports between LA & NY with Dianne Dotson, in preparation for her upcoming trip. Liana Brooks and her family fly out of Seattle Sunday, to live in Korea for two years.

There’s a lot of transition in the city where I live now, especially among artists coming and going in various residencies. I always lived that way in theatre, too. And it makes me realize how stuck I’d gotten on Cape, not actively pursuing more residencies and opportunities, even before the pandemic made it unsafe to travel. Sometimes it was financial; but other times, it was almost as though I felt I didn’t have the right to it, because I have everything set up the way I want/need it in my home office. There’s got to be a middle ground between living in transient situations and getting overly stuck. I want to be grounded and put down roots and feel like the place I live is my wonderful home. But I also don’t want to feel like I “shouldn’t” go for residencies and other short-term opportunities.

Granted, they’d have to be short, since I am the breadwinner and the caretaker of an elderly parent. But I still should do some of them.  I have a few ideas, for the next couple of years.

I’m not yet comfortable attending conferences in person. Too many people. Too few COVID protocols. But residencies with small groups and protocols in place should be do-able. I’m not yet ready to fly again, with the airlines being irresponsible dickheads turning planes into spreader events, but maybe something in driving distance now and again, until I feel comfortable enough to try, would be a good thing.

There were plenty of things I “should” have done, but I chose rest instead. I did, however, wash the inside of the large kitchen window, and re-set the fun little items along the sill that I took down when we decorated for the winter holidays. The outside of the window needs a good scrub, too, but it was supposed to rain, so I decided to wait.

I read THE SACRED BRIDGE by Anne Hillerman, which was good (although I figured out the murderer the first time the character appeared on the page).

Had a restful afternoon/evening using various products from the Ipsy and Goddess Provisions boxes. Made scallop-and-vegetable pasta for dinner.

Every once in a while, I get sense memory stress from this time last year (the next two weeks could be particularly rough). As I mentioned yesterday, I use meditation techniques to bring myself back into the actual moment, and remind myself I’m not going through that right NOW. That was the past. NOW is different, better, and what’s important.

The TONY Awards were on Sunday night. I was delighted that Matt Doyle won for his work in COMPANY. I worked with him on SPRING AWAKENING, and enjoyed it. Patti LuPone won for her work in COMPANY as well (of course she did, she’s Patti LuPone). I was happy to see Shoshana Bean nominated for MR. SATURDAY NIGHT (we worked together on WICKED). The tribute Bernadette Peters did for Stephen Sondheim was lovely. I’m lucky to have worked with both of them.

Slept well on Sunday into Monday, which was nice. Tessa had a fit because it was nearly 5:45 by the time I got up to feed them.

Got some writing done, caught up on email. Went to re-order checks, and discovered when the account was set up at the bank, they’d mis-spelled the address, even though they copied it from the lease. So I went to change it, and, as usual, it was Big Drama. I am so sick of being treated like a criminal instead of a customer every time there’s something to be addressed. The thought of moving banks again is overwhelming, or I’d do it as soon as my “year” is up in August (here, you can’t switch banks until you’ve been with a bank for a year). NONE of this is about security, as they claim. It’s all about control. None of the systems are to actually serve the customers.

Because it was a beautiful day, I walked to the library to drop off/pick up books, mailed some bills at the Post Office, and stopped at the bank to make a deposit and leave the letter with all the details in writing for the manager. Of course, there was still Big Drama all afternoon, and I am sick of it.

We had squirrel hilarity at lunch (which I will write about in the garden blog on Thursday), and then I took Willa out after lunch in her playpen. Charlotte ran away when I tried to put her in her playpen, so I only took Willa out, and then Charlotte pouted. Her own fault. Tessa would rather be on the front porch, on one of the Adirondack chairs, and not limited by a playpen.

Started reading a book which I sort of like, sort of don’t. It’s set in Cornwall, which I like. The plot reminds me an awful lot of the first season of BROADCHURCH. And the author uses third person omniscient. Not as badly as many authors do, but not all that well, either.

Got the Mystic Mondays booklet of New Moon and Full Moon Spreads – I will use one tonight, for the full moon. Ordered a couple of things online, including putting in a new Chewy order. They’d never contacted me, as I requested, when the cats’ preferred food came in stock. It is now $4/bag more expensive than it was. So we’re sticking to the less expensive food, which they are eating just fine, which is $8/bag less than the original food.

Started a script coverage, but kept getting distracted. I have plenty of time until it’s due, and I grabbed some more for this week, so all is good. Sent off a couple of radio plays to a producer with whom I’ve worked before. They’re darker than he usually uses, so they might not work for the company, but I want to keep everything out there, earning its keep!

The kitchen island I ordered arrived, ready to assemble. I’m sure it will take the rest of the week, but, once it’s done, it will be great. The box was 70 pounds, but I managed to get it up the stairs.

Enjoying the long evenings, where we can sit on the porch or the balcony, reading or just being. Next week is the Summer Solstice, and then the days start getting shorter. So I will enjoy as much as possible. That is one of my goals this summer – to actually enjoy it.

Busy day today, so better get to it. Hope you are well, happy, and having a good one.

Tues. March 22, 2022: Challenging Start to the Week

image courtesy of Paul Barlow via pixabay.com

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and pleasant

There’s a post on the GDR site about being the architect of your life.

I hope you had a good weekend, and a blessed Equinox. Now, we’ll really see the gains in daylight, since it’s tipping toward longer light.

Friday was a mixed day. Very foggy in the morning. Not fun to make my way to the mechanic when I couldn’t use the broken windshield wiper. But I got there.

The wiper was easily fixed. But the engine light issue, not so much. As long as the light stays steady and doesn’t blink, I can continue to drive short distances. The mechanic thinks it’s a fuel pump issue, but they can’t even get me in for a diagnostic for another month. They suggested a mechanic in Williamstown, who specializes in foreign cars. It’s the second time that mechanic has been suggested to me. I am trying to get an appointment.

Stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and restocked our food supply.

Moved the plants back out on the porch, and even opened the windows once it warmed up enough.

Did some client blogging, and roughed out the next edition of Devon’s Random Newsletter, which should go out this week. I think I wrote too much, so will probably edit it back.

Worked on a recipe for strawberry-vanilla mousse. It tastes quite good, but doesn’t look appealing. Nor did it set properly. Ever. I think the acid from the fresh strawberries had something to do with it. So I need to adjust the recipe, and figure out how to make it look better without using artificial colors.

In the afternoon, one neighbor was working on a new piano composition. Another neighbor was on her front porch, playing her guitar. I worked on script coverage. It was a great vibe. Everyone in their own space, but knowing people around them were doing creative work.

Fresh cod for dinner on Friday night, with rice and steamed spinach. Yummy.

Throughout the weekend, I did some cleaning here and there, but nowhere like the intense spring cleaning I planned. The Plan was to start in the kitchen and work forward doing intense deep cleaning. But I spent more time unpacking and organizing things than in deep clean mode.

It kept raining and then not on Saturday, and I didn’t feel like going out, so I didn’t. I did regular housework and changed the beds and did some unpacking and organizing. I made more vegetable stock. I finished reading a novel I’d started that was recommended by an acquaintance over at VOGUE. I liked a lot of the book, especially relating to the characters and what they were going through. I got ahead of the plot a little too quickly, and there were some chapters where way too much backstory was info-dumped, instead of being integrated into the overall story. I liked more than I didn’t, but it’s not a book I’d rave about. Went through some other books for research on various projects, and put them back in the pile for the library.

Percolated on the retro mystery for a bit. I’m creating a new name for my fictional community and putting in some lines as to how the creator of it is in competition with The Spruces. This will give me the flexibility I need for plot and character and even some geographic deviations. The application for The Spruces was careful and thorough. I want my fictional community to be a little more raucous and freewheeling. On Monday morning, I did some research on different mobile homes, and I found the one I want for my central protagonist: a three bedroom, with a second story for her main bedroom and a roof deck, with a patio downstairs, two bedrooms, a bath, a kitchen, and the living room. I need to go back to the library and look at the dimension widths for the homes that remained in the park. On the road, they could only be 8’ wide, but if they weren’t meant to move? Could they be 10’? When I did my research, I wrote down the length, but not the width.

Sunday was the Spring Equinox. I kept the celebrations simple. It was cloudy most of the day, so I decided not to run errands that day, either. I did some more unpacking and organizing.

I spent a good portion of the day going through a research book I’ve had out of the library for months (I am allowed 99 renewals on it). But I felt like I should go through it thoroughly and return it. I got 9 pages of notes on one project, and images that are relevant to three projects, so it definitely was worth taking the time with it.

I did a chipotle chicken in the crockpot, which was yummy. I do love my crockpot.

I’m slowly working my way through ATLAS OF THE HEART, which was recommended by the leader of the Thursday meditation group. It’s not an easy book. There are things which resonate strongly with me. There are other things with which I disagree. The third category is the most problematic because they resonate, even though I don’t like them! But they make sense. Definitely a worthwhile book, albeit not an easy one.

Up early on Monday, on my own. Got the morning routine going, in spite of going down another research rabbit hole with The Spruces.

I had a long list of errands that needed to happen. On the way to the first set, I stopped at the credit union to make a deposit for my mother, in the joint account, on which I am named with Power of Attorney. The teller and the teller supervisor accused me of trying to scam my elderly mother. Even though I have POA, and my mother signed the check (since it was made out to her), and marked it for deposit. Because I am named for my mother, and therefore must be trying to scam her, because heaven forbid a daughter have the same first name as a mother. If I was a man named for my father, this would never be a problem. Because misogyny. I had to go home, get the check stub and the letter that came with the check TO MAKE A DEPOSIT INTO A JOINT SAVINGS ACCOUNT. On top of that, they’re going to hold the money until the end of the month “to make sure the check is real.” It’s from a major company in the Midwest. On top of that, they said she should have come in to make the deposit herself. First of all, she’s 97. That’s why it’s a joint account and I have POA. So that she doesn’t have to come in herself. Second, none of the staff is masking. Why would I put her at risk in a pandemic? As usual, they are inappropriate.

EVERY interaction with Greylock Federal Credit Union since we opened the account has been unnecessary drama. Why would I want to keep our money in an establishment that treats me like a criminal instead of a customer? The whole point of being with a credit union is because their mission is to treat their members like individuals.

Not Greylock.

As soon as I can legally move the money, I will. It will be a nightmare to open yet another account and switch everything over.  I’m starting the research now. But it’s necessary. Because my mother is 97. I hope she’s around for a long time, but when she does go, how much you want to bet they’d refuse access to the JOINT ACCOUNT so I could pay the bills for the funeral? What about when I start traveling again? How much do you want to bet they’ll leave me stranded somewhere, even though I will have given them the information about the trip in advance? Not to mention that, as a legal adult (for decades now), I shouldn’t have to get the bank’s “permission” to travel.

NONE of this is about security. ALL of it is about control.

The Annual Meeting is tonight. Part of me is exhausted at the very thought of attending. Part of me wants to go in there and tell them off. Yet again. I have brought up these issues before, and they “feel bad” that I have a bad experience with them, but never adjust their behavior.

I have ALWAYS been polite in dealing with them, even when they frustrated and insult me. And EVERY transaction is an absolute nightmare of unnecessary drama.

If I was rich and laundering money through them, they’d let me do anything I want.

Part of being the architect of my own life is only dealing with businesses that treat me with basic human respect and decency. The credit union does not. Therefore, I need to take my business (small as it is) elsewhere.

After it took the hour plus to get sorted what should have been a basic deposit, I did the rest of my errands: the liquor store, the library. Did a pass through the thrift store, hoping for some cute plant pots, but they didn’t have any in stock. Went to another store, where I found pots, potting soil, and even got some morning glory and moonflower seeds.

It meant I didn’t have to drive to another store I thought I’d have to visit, for the soil and the pots. So that saved time, energy, and stress on the car.

After lunch, I planted eight pots with seven kinds of seeds (I’ll discuss it in detail in this Thursday’s post on Gratitude and Growth). It was lovely out on the porch, so we moved all the pots out there in the sun. I updated the plant journal. I’m trying to be more consistent with it. Keeping it in a 3-ring binder instead of a spiral-bound notebook makes it easier.

There were plenty of things I “should” have been doing in the afternoon, although I was well in the zone, deadline-wise. So I cut myself a break, read a book I really wanted to read for fun, and watched the clouds roll by. Being up in the mountains is fun, because the clouds are low enough to really observe.

Tessa started howling as soon as I went to bed. I got up, sat with her while she ate her bedtime snack, and waited until she fell asleep before sneaking off to bed. I was awake on my own just before five this morning, and she was happy.

Took the laundry to the laundromat in the rolly cart. The moon was still out and shining brightly when I left. They’d adjusted the lights to the time change, finally, although the clock is still an hour behind. Got a nice chunk of edits done on CAST IRON MURDER, in spite of some guy coming in to do his laundry who kept trying to talk to me. What is it about men that they can’t stand to see a woman involved in something that isn’t them? I had my folder open with a full manuscript of several hundred pages, I was editing hard copy in red pen, it was obvious I was working. Basic greeting and acknowledgement make sense; trying to engage me in conversation when I am obviously working is not. I was polite, but minimal, and made it clear that I WAS WORKING, and not there to hang out and socialize.

I mean, it’s a lot better here than it was on Cape, but still. Read the room, guys. Not everything is about you.

Home, put the clothes away. I only have about two chapters left to edit on CAST IRON MURDER, so I might just go ahead and do that, and then put in some of the fixes I noted in pen this morning, before switching over to The Big Project, and then client work in the afternoon.

Trying to decide if I want to do a run to the library – six books came in after I had done my drop-off/pickup yesterday.

The tansy seeds finally showed up after travelling from Missouri to Massachusetts to Chicago back to the Berkshires. I hope to plant them today. Otherwise, I have to wait until Friday, which is the next planting day.

By the way, any business that is running around with an unmasked staff behaving like the pandemic is over does not get to use “the pandemic” or “supply chain issues” as an excuse for not being competent or fulfilling their responsibilities. Either they acknowledge we are still in a pandemic and follow protocols, or they forfeit the right to use it as an excuse. It doesn’t work both ways.

The Republican racists are in full sail in the hearings for our new SCOTUS. People need to believe them when they show who they are, and remove them.

The week has barely begun and I’m exhausted.

I will make the time for extra meditation today.