Fri. July 22, 2022: Seasonal Summer Heat

image courtesy of jplenio via pixabay.com

Friday, July 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Hazy, hot, humid

It was difficult to settle into meditation yesterday, but I managed it.

Uploaded the content calendar for the ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE Topic Workbook release through the end of September. A content calendar is only useful if you follow through. I’ll do a post on that for Ink-Dipped Advice for September.

I had to run the repair on Word again in the morning. Getting tired of the constant problems with the computer, but that’s how it goes with PCs.

Plus, Windows 11 keeps changing things. What a lousy operating system.

Turned around my script coverage in the morning, before it got too hot and the computer really started suffering. I have a coverage to turn around today, for which I was requested, and another request just landed in my inbox that I will do on Sunday.

Freelance Chat was fun.

It was too hot to work upright in the afternoon. I spent most of it lying on the couch. I noodled with my article. I have to get the first 900-1000 words of It down on paper this morning, then another 900 tomorrow morning, then the final 900 on Sunday (it’s a 2800-word article). I want to revise it Monday and send it to my editor Tuesday, nearly a week early.

I also read a mystery, recommended by two writer friends, but I’m not enamored of this writer’s voice/style. It hits the genre conventions, but that’s about it.

Leftovers for dinner. We were promised a thunderstorm, which never materialized. Today and tomorrow will be hot. I’m worried about tomorrow afternoon’s performance. But I also trust the event organizers to take care of us.

The Jan. 6 Hearing last night simply confirmed that the Narcissistic Sociopath wanted a bloodbath. He should have been led away in cuffs the day after Biden’s inauguration. The fact that no one has been held accountable is unacceptable. And ALL the Republicans who voted against certifying the election need to be in prison.

I don’t know how I’m going to find a place to get my hair cut today.

I dreamed last night about one possible salon, that it was definitely the wrong place for me. In the dream, a friend told me that they were reasonably priced, but the quality was awful.

I had another dream where a Twitter acquaintance (who’s a lawyer out on the other coast) and I worked on a social justice performance piece. Weird dream.

Today will be another hot day. I’ll do as much as I can early on, and then stay quiet for the worst of it, and maybe do some work when it cools down again in the evening. That’s the joy of controlling my own schedule.

Tomorrow is all about Word X Word. I’m both excited and nervous. It will be an adventure, that’s for sure.

Have a great weekend! We’ll catch up next week.

Wed. June 16, 2022: Work Day

image courtesy of StockSnap via pixabay.com

Wednesday, June 16, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

Yesterday was a reasonably quiet day, especially as to where we were last year at this time. It wasn’t without its disappointments. A grant opportunity landed on my desk, and looked promising. But it’s one of those where they didn’t let the applicant read through the entire application nor did they list all the requirements. So after spending too much time filling out the application, I hit a requirement that was not mentioned in the guidelines that required unpaid labor to create something they would keep for their archives, whether they gave me the grant or not.

No. Just no. That’s exploiting grant applicants.

There’s a post on Creativity is a Business over on Ink-Dipped Advice. The profits that the arts have made, even in the year after the shutdowns, is astonishing. And too damn small a portion goes to the actual artists.

There’s also a post on Gratitude and Growth that goes into more detail about Tuesday’s visit to Berkshire Botanical Garden, and about the other garden stuff happening here.

Had to make another bank deposit, mailed my quarterly taxes (ouch), and attempted, yet again, to check out the new coffee place that opened a couple of blocks away. They were still closed a half hour after their posted opening times. This is the second time this has happened. Just proves that you can’t trust a “business” that only has a Facebook page and not an actual, professional website.

Got some writing done, wasn’t happy about any of it. Handled a bunch of email. I’m still at nearly 500 emails in the inbox, which will have to be addressed today. Turned around a script coverage. The pay period ended yesterday, and I nearly made my goal. Let’s hope I can hit it in the second half of the month.

The guy coordinating the World’s Largest Poem sent me information on a playwrighting workshop offered by a playwright from this year’s Williamstown Theatre  Festival. I took a look, and signed up. I’m feeling a little stuck in the stage play aspect of my career right now, as far as writing, and it would be good to shake that up a little. There are COVID protocols, and it’s at the Berkshire Atheneum down in Pittsfield, a space in which I feel comfortable and know that they have protocols in place, too, so it is a calculated risk that tips in my favor, rather than the virus’s favor.

Spent some time on BookBub. I’m adding authors to follow and recommending books I like. I think I will have to work my way author-by-author, because it takes time. I need to do it slowly.

But that’s how one builds sustainable accounts anyway, slowly and organically.

Had a bad night. First the fire alarm went off, for no discernible reason. I got it quiet, checked everything and double checked it, just to make sure. Had trouble going back to sleep, and then woke up every hour. Charlotte had her paws full, trying to look after me (and she is exhausted this morning). At four, I gave up, and moved to the sewing room, so Tessa could keep an eye on me. Charlotte joined me. Tessa forgot I was in the sewing room, and went back to my bedroom to wake me up, astonished I wasn’t there.

I gave up and fed them a little before 5.

After my first writing session in longhand, I was excited to hit my desk and do my second writing session on the computer. Only Windows11 decided to do one of its long updates, and then I had to “set up” the computer as though I’d never used it before, even though I set it up exactly the way I wanted it when I bought it two years ago. It was a ridiculous waste of time. On top of that, it’s trying to force me to synch with my phone. No. I don’t run my life from my phone, I resent the fact that I’m forced to HAVE a phone, and I don’t want my devices synched to the phone. No.

Not the start for which I’d hoped this morning. But still better than last year at this point, when we were in moving hell, and doing our second round trip to drop off stuff here.

But I have meditation group coming up, and then it’s back to the page. There’s plenty to do, and I need to get it done: working on The Big Project, finishing the anthology story, proofreading “Personal Revolution” so the re-release can happen on time, working on the Topic Workbooks, writing and submitting the book review so I can get my next assignment, turning around a couple of scripts.

Better get going then, huh?

Have a good one, friends.

Tues. May 31, 2022: Finally, A Good Writing Day

image courtesy of Markus Winkler via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Hazy and hot

We were out of the house before 9 AM on Friday, headed down to Pittsfield. Got some great book deals at their lobby sale, and had a closer look around the Atheneum itself. Again, lots of great reading and working spaces. They even have musical instruments to check out.

A quick stop at Home Goods on the way back to replace the glass that broke this morning. Got a couple of glasses off the clearance shelf that are pretty, and close to the broken one. Swung by Staples to drop off the toner cartridges and get the credit on my account. Did a quick stop into the (reasonably priced) grocery store there to pick up a few final things for the weekend.

We were home before noon, as the traffic started to get heavier. I mean, compared to the Cape in-season, it’s still light, but it’s heavier than it usually is around here.

In the afternoon, we watched the video on the early history of the Spruces. It was interesting, but I had already found all that information in my research.

Read Kellye Garrett’s HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE, which was good.

I’d written and submitted my book review early in the morning, before we left, and was assigned my next book.

Lunch was light: an assortment of cheeses, salami, the trout spread, and a fig/orange spread with crackers.  The two cheeses bought at the overpriced market were mediocre, and the salami, also bought there, was greasy. Fortunately, the trout and the fig/orange were delicious.

Yeah, not shopping at that market again.

Dinner was salmon with sweet Thai chili sauce, rice, and peas. Delicious. I’m so lucky we have a good fish monger here. It’s ironic that I can get Cape-caught fish at a better price than I could on Cape.

I realized, on Friday, that it was exactly a year ago that day when we put down the deposit on this place. Definitely the right move. Although my body is going into sense-memory stress again, and I’m constantly trying to soothe and reset. The next few weeks may be rough, as I teach my body it doesn’t have to go into survival mode all the time, the way it did last year during this stretch.

The Narcissistic Sociopath read the list of names of the children murdered in Uvalde and then DANCED on the stage. The SOB was dancing with glee at the death. He really is sickening, and anyone who supports him is just as bad as he is.

I am so sick and tired of these corrupt, monstrous, disgusting individuals continuing to get away with everything, because Democrats are too weak to get down in the trenches and fight in a way that wins. You cannot take the high road with people determined to kill you. You eliminate them. You destroy them. Or you are exterminated.

The fact that Congress went ahead and took vacation instead of staying in town and getting the work done is further proof that the Dems are weak. We need actual progressive leaders. Or we will all wind up dead, be it from pandemics or gun violence, or every right being removed.

And one of the first things that needs to happen is to take action against those financing the fascists.

Went to bed way too early on Friday, exhausted and broken hearted. Woke up around 2:30 AM, from a dream of being in the NYC subway and seeing a couple of guys carrying guns, so I left. It even smelled like the subway. I realized, when I woke up, that someone was outside, in between the houses, smoking, and the cigarette had that stale nicotine quality that is in the subway.

Dozed off again, and the cats rousted me out of bed a little before five.

Saturday morning was about turning over the closet from winter to summer. That took a long time. I had to rearrange quite a bit, and decide how to pack up a lot of the winter stuff. My closet here is much smaller than the one in the Cape house. I had a walk-in closet there, which meant I didn’t really have to turn over the closet seasonally.

Found a bunch of stuff, got distracted with finding cool stuff. Washed a few things. Have a pile to mend, and a pile to iron.

Sunday was cool enough to cook. So I baked biscuits in the morning, made potato salad, made egg salad, made another batch of vegetable stock, threw pork chops into the slow cooker with honey teriyaki sauce.

Read a lot, and rested as much as I could. I was emotionally exhausted, as much as physically.

Started a new blank book for the handwritten journal on Monday morning. The third of this year. Also wrote 1000 words (before 7 AM, no less) on the piece inspired by the ghost stories/auto accidents.

We had planned to go out on a fun day trip on Monday, but then I checked the event calendars around us, and all the towns were having parades for Memorial Day. We’d have gotten stuck several times on the way down, and not been able to enjoy ourselves. So we’ve rescheduled.

I started putting my Monthology story on paper (well, computer screen). Word dumped the first half page I wrote (because one can’t autosave until one manually autosaves to the cloud, and I DON’T WANT TO SAVE ON THE CLOUD). I couldn’t find it in the recovery file or anywhere else. I’m so sick of Windows11 being awful.

I nearly gave up for the day, but I wanted to get the opening that’s been crowding my head down properly, so I started over, and wrote about 600 words (the opening scene). I had to stop and ask some questions to other contributors so that I can integrate their monsters properly, but I have the next couple of scenes almost ready to write. And I know how it ends, so there’s just a bit to get to the climactic sequence that I have to work out.

Wrote a little over 1000 words on The Big Project. I have a feeling I’ll have to layer multiple edits onto the next draft, so it can go out by deadline.

Took a look at the radio play, “Owe Me” and am completely baffled as to how I get from where I am to where I need to be at the end. That still has to percolate.

Finished the revision of “Personal Revolution.” It needs a proofread, but it should be ready to re-release at the end of June, as planned. Now to get back to new editions of the Topic Workbooks.

Grabbed a script and turned it around. It was a good one, so it was a pleasure. But I am way, way under what I usually make with this company. If this continues, I may have to look elsewhere for coverage work, and add another couple of freelance writing clients to the mix.

Made turkey burgers for dinner, which were good. Read the next book for review, which was also good. I will write up the review later today, and send it off tomorrow, asking for the next one. Built in some time to work with the Druid Plant Oracle cards.

Up early this morning, after some strange dreams.  Hitting the page first, and then the plans we had yesterday and moved due to parade routes are back in play today. So today is my “holiday” while yesterday was a workday, and a productive one! May I have a string of them. I wrote 1K in longhand, writing my way still into a project, so that was a decent start.

Four more days until Mercury goes direct. The last week usually heaps additional challenges on. The day after Mercury goes direct, Saturn, the planet of life lessons, goes retrograde. Ick.

I did not post on Ko-fi last week, because it felt disrespectful, in light of the shootings. Of course, over Memorial Day weekend, there were 14 more mass shootings in this country. I loathe our politicians.

Hope you had a good weekend, and have a good week.

Tues. May 24, 2022: Writing, Reading, Research

omage courtesy of congerdesign via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Waning Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Partly sunny and cool

Friday wound up being a lovely day. It was sunny and warm. I started at the library to drop off and pick up books (there were 10 waiting for me).

I headed over to Williamstown, looking for the Historical Museum, and couldn’t find it. I did find the public library, which is sleek and beautiful, with a garden full of blooming lilacs. The staff is lovely, and gave me detailed directions with landmarks. I scoped out the library – it’s definitely a place where I want to spend more time. Lovely, light reading areas, and a sleek work area.

And people are still masking. By choice. Which is great.

The Museum was much farther from the college/town center than it seemed on the map, but I found it. It’s a lovely building. The person staffing it is new, so we had to figure out where things were.

I looked at the exhibit, and found information about a Williamstown resident’s untimely demise that had been told to me as happening up the street from me here in North Adams, which resulted in a ghost in the building that is now the Mason Hall, so I will have to do more research. I also found information on a pair of sisters who farmed around the turn of the century, and want to know more about them.

The staff person found the file (somewhere neither of us would have thought to look), and I settled in. Much of the information was more recent, about the flood that finally wiped out the Spruces, and the rent battles the tenants had with the town leading up to it.

But there was some of the earlier information. I found contradictions and sanitization of information I’d found from other sources, which I found very interesting. It has set off ideas on how I want to build the character who heads the fictional community, and how I want to put him in competition with the real-life guy. Al Bachand, who was the actual visionary behind The Spruces, reminds me, in a lot of ways of David Belasco. My theatre pals will understand the reference. For anyone who doesn’t, I suggest looking up both names in your search engine, and reading some of the biographical information, and you’ll see what I mean.

Bachand was quite a character, a man of many talents and appetites. I want to build the fictional counterpart, who is in deep rivalry with him, to be even more over-the-top. Most of that is because it will suit the story I want to tell better. Part of it is because members of Bachand’s immediate family are still alive, and it would be disrespectful to use him in the series the way I want and need to use the visionary behind my fictional park. So I’m building a character that is somewhat inspired by him, but also very different from what I’m researching on the man, AND a character who is obsessed with the idea of besting Bachand (but can’t ever really do it). I also want to build the geography of my fictional park a little differently than the real Spruces was built, so it can serve the needs to the series.

In order to do this, I’m doing something I call “stretching geography.” By that, I mean creating fictional places and integrating them with real ones. I do that in CAST IRON MURDER, where I created the fictional Berkshires town of Persimmon. It’s got elements of Cheshire and Dalton and Clarksburg in it. While I’m vague about exactly WHERE it is (I talk about neighboring towns, including North Adams), it’s sort of stuffed between Cheshire and Adams, in my mind. I have to figure out the name of the town I want to put in competition with Williamstown and the Spruces community, and where I’m going to shove it. I want it close enough so that there can be actual competition between the two communities. That won’t come up in the series arc in action until several books in, but I’m going to seed the tension from the first book.

Anyway, there were notes in the research file that will lead me to other sources that I will go back and poke around in on another day.

I may have to buy another sketchbook just to draw the maps of my new community! The one I bought recently is dedicated to the maps I need to draw for The Big Project.

The lilacs are in bloom here, and it does my heart good to see and smell them. I still miss the ones I nurtured for a decade, but being around lilacs makes me happy.

On the way home from the museum, I stopped at Korean Garden and picked up chicken tangsooyuk, which was delicious.

There were no scripts in the queue, but I’d sent off my review and the invoice before I left for the museum, and was paid and had my next book assigned by the time I got back, so I decided not to panic.

Instead, I started reading UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR by TJ Klune, which is so beautifully written.

Meanwhile, in the back of my mind, I let the Retro Mystery percolate, and the monthology story percolate.

I prepared a big batch of black currant tea and put it in jars in the fridge, so I’d have something cool to drink over the very hot weekend.

I put up a one-card reading with the Herbal Tarot up over on my Ko-Fi page.

Saturday was World Meditation Day. I’d been invited to several all-day online sessions. While I was tempted, I was more drawn to not being online all day, and being quiet and internal instead.

I did some more research on the building here in North Adams. Turns out that there was a similar accident within a year of the one mentioned in the museum in Williamstown. Two different women, in similar family situations, killed in automobile accidents, about a year apart. I dug and did more research on both women, their families, and the accidents. I found some papers on them at Academia.edu, which is great, only now they email me multiple times a day with ideas on other stuff.

It also led me to research on Alice Ramsey, who drove across the country in 1909, and I put aside some information on that, because that sounds like fun inspiration.

I finished reading UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR, which is a beautiful, beautiful book. I started reading UNDER SKELETON LOCK AND KEY by Gigi Pandian, which is a delight.

It got quite hot on Saturday. Not unbearable, but hot enough so that I spend the hottest part of the day supine, reading. And letting things percolate.

I turned a script around on Saturday, too, because I was able to grab one. I typed up and revised the flash fiction, “Discoveries” that will go up on Ko-Fi this week. I put up a one-card reading with the Herbal tarot on Ko-Fi here.

Sunday was also hot, and much more humid. I had computer problems again; the computer took an hour to get up and running again, with screen freezes and all the rest. I hate Windows11.

But before that, I had a good day writing, in longhand, on the front porch. I’m going to need a new journal book before the end of the month, my third this year. I also wrote six pages on the idea spawned by the information about the two young women who died in automobile accidents up in Pownal, that I’d been researching. I’m writing my way into it. The plot is taking shape, and, once I’ve written my way into it a little more, I will stop and do an outline, if it’s viable. I figured out a way to connect the two women. It’s fiction, inspired by the real Elizabeth Botsford and the real Mary Houghton, but it’s definitely fiction.

The Houghton graves – and that of the chauffer who killed himself after Mary’s death – are up the street in Southview cemetery. I may go up there and look around, one day when it’s cooler.

Preakness Day was on Saturday afternoon. They should have cancelled, due to heat, and no one in the stands was taking any Covid precautions, which was rather disheartening. I wanted the filly, Secret Oath, to wipe the track with the boys, but she came in fourth, which is still pretty good. Early Voting won, and my baby Epicenter came in second.

I finished reading UNDER LOCK AND SKELETON KEY, which was so much fun. I also read A DEADLY BONE TO PICK by Peggy Rothschild, which was also very good.

I was assigned the word with which to start my poem for the World’s Longest Poem. I figured out the first two lines, and played with them, rhythmically, until they worked. But then I couldn’t figure out where to go with it.

Fortunately, it percolated overnight, and I woke up with the third and final line. We can have up to five lines, but I’m saying what I want to say in three, so there’s no need to witter on.

I worked the final line until it fit the rhythm, so I could send it off by noon. Also wrote two pages on the ghost story, and 1200 words on The Big Project.

More computer problems, especially with the keyboard, which is very frustrating. In case I haven’t said it often enough, I hate Windows11.

This computer is only two years old and has been babied as though it was made of Swarovski crystal. There is no reason for it not to run perfectly.

I’m also sick of people who tell me I should have a “backup computer.” Who can afford that? The computer which I PAID FOR INCLUDING AN EXTENDED WARRANTY should do the job it’s supposed to do, for more than the first couple of months, especially because I take care of it.

Sent off my bit of the poem, which is both exciting and terrifying.

I walked to the library to drop off and pick up books. I was delighted to literally stop and smell the lilacs several times along the way. I took some photos of the Houghton Mansion that I will use in my research, although my fictional mansion will be set up a little differently. I’m not going to have the added-on bulk of the masonic hall, which looks as though it should house a swimming pool. I may have that portion of the house be a ballroom instead. I’d written two more pages on that piece in the early morning writing session. The story is coming out a little differently than I expected, but I like what it’s doing. At least, so far. And I’ve figured out how to tie the two women’s deaths together in fiction, although they were only tied together by location and type of accident in real life.

Went down a research rabbit hole about Mary’s friend, Sybil. The birth, death, and marriage records point out where a lot of the sensational stories appearing on the various haunted house websites bent the truth. Probably through a lack of careful research, but still. It also took a bit of digging to find out what happened to her mother, Cordelia, after the deaths of her husband and daughter, but I found some information from reliable sources. Her two other daughters helped care for her, until she died, several years later. I’m changing that in the novel; the character based on her remarries and starts a new life, and that is tied to the deaths not only of Mary and Sybil, but Elizabeth, in a way that simply does not have evidence that happened in real life.

 Then, I went back to searching a particular record I want in relation to the Retro Mystery, but couldn’t find it. Could find records around it, but not that one. It’s a specific marriage record, and it makes me wonder if that marriage took place out of the county, such as at Niagara Falls or somewhere else. I found out that one of the inspirations for a character in the story is still alive and living in this town, so I have to make even more certain that her fictional counterpart is very different. However, my intent for her is to be a positive, dynamic character in the series.

Finding the facts, and then deciding how I’m going to change things so it works for fiction, and do so in a way that honors the real-life inspirations, is an interesting process.

Knowledge Unicorns was a lot of fun. Finals are done; it’s mostly about field trips and running out the clock. And our last session is on Thursday. It’s bizarre to think that we’re done, after more than two years. But they’ve built a strong support system amongst each other, so whatever comes next, they can handle it together, and I can step back.

I’m reading DISORIENTED by Elaine Hsieh Chou, which is by turns, funny and disturbing. The writing is beautiful.

Charlotte woke me up at 4:20, and Tessa rousted me out of bed by 5. So another too-early morning. Got some writing done, and fussed over the plants.

We have Some Plans for today, which hopefully will go well, and I’ll have a lot of fun stuff to share tomorrow.

Peace, friends, and have a good day. We’re headed to a long holiday weekend, and I am ready for it!

Tues. May 17, 2022: This, That, and Other

image courtesy of monicore via pixabay.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and cool

So it was Mercury Retrograde chaotic. Friday morning, after my first writing session on the porch, I decided to do the script coverage in the morning, so I’d have a longer weekend, but it all took longer than expected. Plus, it took an hour to get the computer limping along again. I also cleaned out the refrigerator, which was a bigger job than I expected, but it’s clean and shiny and we got rid of those bits and bobs that tend to take up residence in the back of the shelves and morph into scary monsters.

By afternoon, I was tired, even though the work wasn’t that difficult. I read on the porch, played with the cats, fussed over the plants. We’re having wasp issues this year, again. I managed to kill one of them; according to MOTHER NATURE’S HERBAL, I can use sugar water to get rid of them. If it continues to be an issue, that is what I will do.

I was actually happy for most of the day. I’ve been almost afraid to be happy since the move, afraid the other shoe would drop and something else awful would happen. But we are happy here. This was the right move. We love the home, we enjoy the city, there’s a lot for which to be grateful and to enjoy every day. I need to allow myself to experience that instead of being afraid of it.

My mom turned over her winter clothes for her summer clothes. Willa “helped” – which was pretty hilarious.

I made a simple dinner of breaded flounder, rice, and steamed vegetables for dinner, and we had gelato for dessert. Time to stock up on the gelato!

Rough night again of strange dreams and waking up with stress memory. Charlotte has decided she prefers to sleep either stretched out along my back or curled up against my chest. Which is sweet, except it’s a little too hot for that. That’s more of a winter thing!

Up early on Saturday, another sunny and hot day. I wrote on the porch, with Tessa for company. After yoga, I switched out the flannel sheets for bamboo sheets, and switched out the comforters.

McAfee forced me to renew the virus protection (nearly a month early). They gave me a “discount” and then I had to uninstall the old version and install the new version and restart the computer (which was having screen freezes anyway). When it all got fired up again – every screen looks completely different. Every feature runs differently. I assume that’s part of Windows11. I haven’t decided how I feel about it yet – I mean, it’s a sleeker, more modern look – but it’s different and I have to get used to it.

Did a bunch of paperwork that had to go out on Monday. Signed up for Counter Social. I’m @DevonEllington over there.

Usual Saturday housework stuff.

If you missed the Self-Care for Mercury Retrograde oracle spread over on Ko-fi, you can find it here.

Made potato salad and put some chicken in the crockpot with honey barbecue sauce. Switched from flannel sheets to bamboo sheets, and put away the winter comforter for the summer, rose-patterned one (Charlotte’s favorite). Fussed over the plants, including changing the water in the birdbath. Put together two of the three small shelf units I bought. They’re much nicer in person than they look on the package. The third unit is missing a shelf, so I had to return it yesterday.

These two small units are for my tarot cards, only I don’t think they will all fit, and I’ll still need to use some space in the blue bookcase (where they all used to live, in the other house, but where I also have writing books and poetry books now in my office).

Finished repotting the rest of the plants bought last week, repotted the last Cape Cod geranium, and planted some more seeds: the new morning glory, cat grass, some marigold seeds sprinkled in with the ruby cherry tomato we bought.

The college across the street had their graduation on Saturday, and it was a beautiful day for it. It was joyful in the neighborhood, although one young woman, wearing shorts and a tee shirt under her robe (and high heels), walked by and said, “Oh, my God! I just realized it’s all over. What am I going to do with the rest of my life?”

As someone who knew what I wanted by the time I was six, that made me laugh.

The neighbor across the street put rows of solar lights along the path to the front steps. Which is great, I love that they’re decorating. However, at night, it kind of looks like a landing strip!

We discussed the various road trips that have been on the table, that we hoped to do this summer. We decided to cancel the trip to Ithaca. It was supposed to be a pilgrimage to Moosewood Restaurant, but they keep having to close for a few days here and there as their staff tests positive for COVID. Which means their patrons are being selfish and going out to eat while positive. Even with outdoor seating, it’s not worth the risk. We’ll put it off, and see how things are in fall, or next summer. We’d also considered doing a quick hop to York, Maine, just for an overnight. But, with the variants being more dangerous for those over 60, even with double boosting, we’re not comfortable doing an overnight in a hotel, even if we can get our favorite pizza in the area as takeout. So that’s cancelled (although we have the sneaking suspicion we’ll have to head that way for a funeral at some point over the summer; a family member is not doing well).

I still hope to do a back-and-forth with friends to Beacon. I’d like to visit there, and would love them to visit here. I’m still hoping to do a day trip over to Saratoga during race season to visit with friends there whom I haven’t seen since before we moved to the Cape.

My mom really wants to do a couple of small trips, since she’s basically been in isolation for going on three years now. So we picked a few places nearby and will do short day trips. And I’ve got a book of unusual places right here in the Berkshires we can visit. We didn’t really get a chance to explore much last summer, because we were so traumatized and exhausted by the move.

Plus, with a season pass for Windsor Lake, we can pop up there whenever we want.

If we take our jaunts midweek, it won’t be as crowded. We won’t eat indoors; we’ll get takeout and eat in a park or something. The great thing about freelance is that if I take off a day midweek, I just work a weekend day, and, as long as I meet my deadlines, it doesn’t matter when the work is done, as long as it gets done. When we return, we will follow decontamination protocols, and we will continue to mask indoors. I mean, not at home, but I’m still masking at the grocery store, library, anywhere else I go inside. And when we travel, we will do the same.

So that discussion and those plans took a lot of stress out of the mix. We won’t be able to get a storage run in before Memorial Day, so maybe we’ll do one in early June, and then nothing until autumn again. I’m hoping I can get enough work this summer so I can afford to rent a storage unit up here and move everything up. If I can even find a storage unit up here. But the prices listed are much less than I’m paying on Cape, and it certainly would be easier to get at things. And maybe store things seasonally.

Dug into my Elizabethan theatre research again, for a long-time idea that might, later this year, be ready to form, if I tweak it into an alternate universe, instead of making it historical. An idea on a book about Jonson and his masques gave me an idea for an arc for The Big Project, should I decide that the initial arcs are strong enough to support continuing. (That will all make sense when I publicly announce what The Big Project actually is).

I have to figure out when I can make an appointment at the Williamstown Historical Society so that I can do some more research into the history of The Spruces for the Retro Mystery. I’m pretty sure I want to write it for this year’s National Novel Writing Month in November.

The eclipse energy started hitting me in the evening, and my emotions were all over the place.

Tessa let me sleep until 6:30 Sunday morning, which was wonderful. It’s light enough and warm enough now to do my first writing session of the day (in longhand) on the front porch, and once she’s had her breakfast, Tessa joins me. The scout crows stop by and we all have our morning chat. Tessa has developed a really strong relationship with the two scout crows. They chat every morning. And it’s not like the birds she wants to catch, out back, with the swishing tail and the predatory body language; it’s a chat.

Still having trouble with the computer. It takes an hour to boot up every morning, even from sleep mode. Then it takes about 20 minutes to start running properly, without freezing screens. If I take a break for a few minutes, with the laptop lid up and it goes into screensaver mode, it takes 20-40 minutes to rev back up. Usually, if I take longer breaks, I put the lid down to protect the keyboard from cats and dust, but then I have to start the whole hour boot-up process again.

This is not okay. It cuts in too much of my workday. How is this an “improvement” or an “upgrade”? I have PLENTY of space on the hard drive for this upgrade.

I got the email for the World’s Largest Poem, giving me the heads-up that I will get my prompt in 7-10 days. So excited to be a part of this.

Edited three chapters on CAST IRON MURDER. The pace, the flow, the story, are all working, thank goodness. Updated my tracking sheets, too.

Took “Personal Revolution” down and will revise it so it can work on more platforms. Since it’s set around the 4th of July, I want to make sure it’s clear of all the previous outlets before the re-re-release. Looking at it, it needs more revision than I’d hoped.

Updated the Devon Ellington Work site.

Finished reading TO MARRY AND TO MEDDLE by Martha Waters, which was kind of fun. The theatre/backstage scenes were done particularly well, and I appreciated that.

Started John Scalzi’s THE KAIJU PRESERVATION SOCIETY, which promises to be one of his typical wild rides.

We had thunderstorms, so I took down the hanging baskets, worried they would get pounded. Students are moving into the ground floor unit across the street; I wonder if they’re there just for the summer, or are staying all year.

Up early on Monday, thanks to Tessa. The computer actually booted up pretty quickly. Got some blogging done, and put up the GDR post for the week, which you can read here. Started revisions on “Personal Revolution.” It needs more work than I’d hoped, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Revised three more chapters for CAST IRON MURDER. Got the inbox down from over 1000 emails to just over 200. Looked at some calls for submission. Did some admin.

The morning was gorgeous, and I got out and did errands: returned the shelf unit missing a shelf for a refund (they’d sold out of the units, so I couldn’t just swap it out); dropped off/picked up books at the library; went to the liquor store.

Found out that Berkshire Gas is doing their inspection of the lines today (the one where I’d been trying to get actual information for weeks, and finally just turned it over to the landlord). They may or may not have to come into the apartment. Which meant I spent the afternoon cleaning instead of working. Not that the place is dirty (I mean, I cleaned over the weekend). But still. I wanted it to be even better. I mean, we still haven’t unpacked everything yet, and we’ve lived here for nearly a year.

Finished reading John Scalzi’s THE KAIJU PRESEERVATION SOCIETY, which was a wild ride. I don’t know how he does it, but that brain of his is certainly unique. Read THE AMBER CROWN, by Jacey Bedford, which was a much grittier alternate world fantasy than one usually gets. Started THE BONE ORCHARD by Sara A Mueller, which is fascinating.

Thunderstorms and intense rain came through in the afternoon and evening. But it’s absolutely gorgeous this morning.

The MADE IN MARSEILLES cookbook arrived yesterday. The jerk of a postman (I think our former, lovely postman retired) also left a package for 10 numbers down the street with my package. So I went down the street (in the rain) to make sure they got it. Our former postman loved his job and all the people on his route. This one doesn’t give a crap about any of it, and doesn’t even pretend otherwise.

Doing some last-minute cleaning this morning, and taking the garbage out. Then, it’s back to the page in the morning, knowing I could be interrupted at any point for the inspection. We’ve closed the doors to the bedrooms and the laundry room, and the cats are very confused.

I hope to work on revisions for CAST IRON MURDER, The Big Project, and the radio plays today, along with some script coverage. Tomorrow morning, the car goes back in, hopefully, to be fixed once and for all.

I’m hoping to even work outside on the back balcony, in one of our enchanted garden spots. I’m pretty sure if I do, Willa will want to come out, and we’ll put her in her playpen for safety.

I’m not talking about the three mass murders by gun over the weekend, or how the Supreme Court continues to force its ideological agenda on the country. This post is long enough. That will wait for a different day.

Have a good one, friends.

Fri. May 13, 2022: Windows11 Sucks, but Plants are Pretty

image courtesy of planet_fox via pixabay.com

Friday, May 13, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and hot

This is going to be the retrograde of computer malfunctions, I guess. Windows11 is awful. No more autosave – it tries to force you to save to the cloud. I don’t want to save to the cloud, and it should be MY decision. So, when I’m reading on screen and taking notes in a document, I have to save the document any time I switch back to the reading screen, or I lose everything. On top of that, when I opened the computer to start my day, it decided it had to “restart” and then “update” and then, when it asked for my PIN and I put it in, it gave me the gray screen of death. More than once. I shut it down and turned it back on, and it’s glitching.

As usual, Microsoft sucks. Although, from what I hear, Apple has descended to Microsoft’s level of ineptness.

In any case, yesterday was a decent day, although it got hot. I had trouble getting online to the meditation, but got there, and was glad I did. I got some work done in the morning, including slogging through way too much email. I had trouble getting the computer and the printer to talk to each other again after the upgrade, which is frustrating, because I have paperwork that needs to get done. I managed to get the next book for review downloaded, although that was a chore, too.

Once Mercury goes direct, I have to go through my Download file and dump a lot of it. It’s been double downloading things, and taking up space I can better use otherwise.

Headed for the grocery story, which had a special deal on hanging baskets, and we got a couple of lovely baskets of impatiens, one in a dusky pink and one in a bright pink. Headed to another store, where I wound up getting a lovely, soft shirt in organic cotton (on sale – gotta love Mercury Retrograde bargains). Headed back to the other store and got more potting soil, more pots, another patio rug, and three small shelf units that I plan to put together and use in various parts of the house. They’re kind of a dull brown. I will see what they look like put together, and then maybe paint them. Or, at least, stencil them.

The curried chicken salad I made the night before was perfect. We have a great big batch of it to enjoy, and that recipe might be a summer go-to for me. I used the Asian greens in it, almonds, currants, and golden raisins. I’d picked up a ciabatta on our errands, and that went perfectly with it.

After lunch, we set out the new rug on the back balcony – it even matches at the seam to the other rug. Having the two rugs run the length of the space unifies it. We hung the impatiens, and hung and filled the bird bath. We put the cushions on the bench and the bistro chairs. It’s a really nice, shady retreat. When the front porch, with its southern exposure, gets too hot in the afternoons, we can retreat to the back balcony, with its northern exposure.

Charlotte and Willa sat in the kitchen window and watched. I’m sure we will have to take them out sometimes in their playpens. Tessa happily stayed on the front porch.

I turned around a script coverage and cleaned up some other work, then read on the porch. The Ipsy bag arrived with the monthly goodies, and also MOTHER NATURE’S HERBAL by Judy Griffin, which had been recommended by an Instagram pal. It’s a lovely book, and covers a lot of ground. Since most of my herbals are still in storage, this will serve me well, and I look forward to savoring it.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. We’re prepping them for finals, and the kids are ready for summer.

Leftovers for dinner, and read. I was achy and tired, so went to bed pretty early. Had a rough night, though. I kept waking up with stress memory of this time last year, when that landlord was pressuring us to get out and we had no idea where we could go yet. I kept having to calm myself down (yoga and meditation came in handy) and get back to sleep.

Woke up with a scratchy throat and sneezing, but the itchy eyes and open windows tipped me it’s more likely to be pollen than plague. I was woken by screaming cats. At first I thought they were mine, but my trio was sitting in a row at the window (together) watching cats fight outside.

A friend’s card arrived yesterday, which made me happy, and another friend signed up for The World’s Largest Poem, so I hope that means she comes up for the performance!

Today, I have more email to get through, paperwork to take care of and get out the door, and work on The Big Project and the radio plays. I also have a script coverage.

This weekend, I have to turn over the linens and the closet from winter to summer, but I also want to get a lot of work done on The Big Project and work on the anthology story.

I need to get more scripts in my queue for next week, because I was well below my nut this pay period, and it was because there weren’t many scripts. I didn’t mind the break, because it gave me time to really focus on finishing the contest entries, and that paid more than I expected. But I have to look ahead, and I have a couple of big bills coming up in June.

It doesn’t help that I can’t trust the computer to power up properly or work properly, either.

Fingers crossed. Have a great weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side.

Published in: on May 13, 2022 at 6:20 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 13, 2022: Windows11 Sucks, but Plants are Pretty  
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Thurs. May 12, 2022: Making the Most of Tech Issues

image courtesy of Gretta Blankenship via pixabay.com

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and warm

Just like that, we leapt into summer. It’s gorgeous, and as long as the humidity stays low, I’m fine about it.

Details of how we’re setting up our garden spaces are over on Gratitude and Growth.

The computer announced it was doing the Windows11 Upgrade at 7:30 in the morning. It took 14 hours. Not a happy camper.

Fortunately, nothing was on deadline or in the script queue, or I would have been screwed.

I mean, Mercury Retrograde and all that, but fourteen hours?

I let it run, and went about my non-computerized day. Yeah, I know, it says you can use the computer while it’s upgrading up until the point where it needs to restart, but that simply wasn’t the case. I managed to get the blog up, and check email, and that was a struggle. So I closed down the tabs and let it run uninterrupted. And it still took 14 hours.

I went to the library to drop off and pick up books, and to get my Commonwealth catalogue sign-in issues resolved. Because I need my access to the Commonwealth Catalog!

Went to pick up my mother’s prescriptions, and to go a quick grocery shop.

Home, and we did some repotting (even though it wasn’t a planting day, according to my calendar, but the new plants can’t wait until Saturday). We ran out of potting soil, so that’s on the list for today’s errands.

I’d made a sesame-poppyseed dressing for which my friend Artie gave me the recipe when he’d visited the Cape house several years back. I made it before we started the repotting, so it blended by the time lunch rolled around. I tried to re-create the spinach and strawberry salad he’d made us. It wasn’t as good as when he made it, but it was still good. And the recipe makes plenty of dressing (which is really good), so I put it in a glass jar, labelled it, and we can enjoy it with other salads.

We started setting up the back balcony, which is also detailed in the G&G post. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re getting there, and it’s a lovely space. The rug is a little short; if we can find another one to match it, that will unite the space better. We also put down the rug and rearranged the enclosed front porch (also detailed in the G&G post).

And collapsed onto the chairs on the porch with a cocktail when we were done!

But both spaces feel really good now. We can enjoy using them until it gets too cold in the autumn.

Since I couldn’t do any computer work, might as well get this done, right?

Made a mushroom-spinach crabmeat concoction for dinner, wrapped in phyllo, and remembered how much I loathe working with phyllo. It was decent, but the mushrooms overpowered it, and the crabmeat wasn’t a high enough quality to hold its own. Also made a batch of lime cilantro mayonnaise, and a big batch of curried chicken salad. Used up all the cilantro I bought, which had already started to fade, although I bought it this morning.

The Radio Theatre Project wants to do “Pier-less Crime” later this month. I’m delighted. I love working with them. They’d hoped to do it when everything shut down, so there was a delay, but they’ve performed the entire Frieda/Laz trilogy.

Once I figure out how to make the dirigible play work, they’ll get first crack at it.

I have two scripts in my queue, one for today, and one for tomorrow. I’m way under my pay goal with that client this pay period, but I earned more than expected from the client for whom I finished the five-month project (the contest), so it balances out.

Meditation this morning, and then I want to get some writing done. Later this morning, we are going to run some errands, and then it’s script coverage in the afternoon. I have to learn how to navigate Windows11. It looks different, but as long as I can do what I need to do, I’ll adapt. It wasn’t working well at all this morning, so I wiggled some keys, not really knowing what I was doing, but it works now.

I have a ton of email to slog through, some paperwork to do, and catch up on Ello. But somehow, it will all get done. I’m trying to retrain the stress sense memory from last year not to be so reactive to every little thing this year.

Spending the early morning first writing session of the day in the lovely garden spaces helps. Tessa isn’t sure about the rug on the porch. It feels strange under her paws. But Charlotte was really sweet with her (for once) showing her all the new stuff this morning. And the two scout crows peered in and made a few comments. Willa was still in bed. She “helped” yesterday and is Very Tired today.

Have a good one!

Published in: on May 12, 2022 at 7:17 am  Comments Off on Thurs. May 12, 2022: Making the Most of Tech Issues  
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