Fri. Dec. 30, 2022: Happy New Year!

image coourtesy of Oleksandr Pidvalnyi via pixabay.com

Friday, December 30, 2022

Waxing Moon

Uranus, Mars, and Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

Yesterday was about getting ahead on various blog articles. I spent far more time than I planned on them, which means this afternoon, I need to focus on getting the next episodes of LEGERDEMAIN uploaded and scheduled.

The first batch of contest entries arrived, but no inventory sheet; I’m hoping they sent me one via email, so I can check in the books and see which ones I need to download. I will get started on those this weekend, probably. Those that arrived as print submissions look good, and I’m excited to get started on them.

I did some planning work/notes/noodling on a project. It’s going to be fun, and I think I’m going to set in in Northumbria, one of my favorite places. I’ll create a fictional town between Morpeth and Bamburgh. I’ll get to have some fun in London locations, too.

The Artists Working Group has been disbanded, which is one less stress on my monthly schedule. As much as I had hopes and liked the people I met through it, it felt like organizations were coming in looking for free labor for their projects and events. My own work comes first; once I’ve done my own work and filled in client work to meet the financial needs for the month, THEN I can volunteer on other people’s projects. Not before. Getting guilted into putting other people’s work first and doing free labor for them under the guise of “building community” or “for the good of the organization” is part of the reason I was so unhappy on Cape Cod.

Charlotte decided to sleep in a chair in the office last night (after doing another Catzilla through the Christmas village), so at least I got some sleep until 4 AM, when she decided to come and wake me up for attention. I got up a little before 6, coaxed out of bed by the smell of coffee and Tessa’s complaints.

I went to the laundromat (we do not start the New Year with dirty panties in this house), and got two big loads done and back and put away. While the clothes did their thing, I wrote about 1K of a project on which I’m writing my way in to see if it’s viable. So far, so good. After a few more chapters I’ll sit down and write my Writer’s Rough Outline, and then decide where it can fit into the schedule. It’s flowing well, and I like the characters and situation.

Once I came home, put the laundry away (or hung up what needs to air dry), and had breakfast, I headed back out again. I went around the corner to drop off some mail that I been misdelivered to me. I headed for the grocery store and bought what we need for the weekend’s festivities.

Tomorrow night, I’ll do the salmon with cumin and orange glaze that’s become a New Year’s Eve tradition. I like to make a duck for the Day, but they were hard to get this year, and I don’t have the energy to go dashing around. Instead, I’m doing a roasted chicken sausage with kale, apple, and cranberries. We will, of course, have a traditional Eggs Benedict for the day (pork before noon, my friends, is a family tradition).

On the eve, another family tradition is to have herring before midnight. Not a big fan, but hey, whatever brings luck, right? I’ll also make some devilled eggs, and there’s an orange and fig spread and an assortment of cheeses. Plenty of prosecco for the Eve and the Day, and a bayberry candle to “burn to the socket to bring cash to the pocket.”

New Year’s Day will start with the Fire & Ice ritual, but overall, both the Eve and the Day will be quiet. I spent many years working on the Eve (working in theatre means you work nights and holidays). When I worked on Broadway and lived a block off Times Square, even if I got out of the show before midnight, I couldn’t get to my apartment, because the streets were sealed off. So I was forced to go to an overpriced restaurant or someone’s party. Even if I was with people I liked, it was too much, and not the way I wanted to start the year. After a few too many years of that, I started taking New Year’s Eve off work and going upstate to a yoga/meditation retreat, and that made a huge, positive difference, even if I had to race back down to the city to work a show or shows on New Year’s Day. Now that I don’t work backstage anymore, I can create the quiet, reflective New Year tranSItions and traDItions that work for me, and I’m much happier.

Monday is a day off, and then I plan to EASE into the year, instead of trying to race into it and overload myself at the beginning.

What are your plans for the transition? Whatever they are, I wish you joy.

Peace, my friends, and Happy New Year.

Wed. Nov. 30, 2022: A. Day. And then Another. Day

Charlotte and her banana. Photo by Devon Ellington

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Stormy and cold

Here’s a picture of Charlotte and her banana, because someone should have a good day.

Well, yesterday was A Day.

Sorry this is late, but today is shaping up to be A Day Again.

The transit chart warned me this would be a week of chaos and conflict influenced by the heavens, and drawing the Nine of Swords as my Advice Card for the day was another warning.

On the positive side, we talk about The Right Form For the Story over on the Process Muse.

I also posted a Holiday Mindfulness Oracle Reading over on Ko-fi.

You back? Good.

The worst thing that happened yesterday was that my giant Brother Color Laser Printer, which was expensive and so heavy it needs two men to life it, died. It turned itself off in the morning, and the power won’t go back on. You can tell Twitter is dying, because I posted a request for troubleshooting suggestions there and it was silent. Normally, I’d have a mix of actual help and mansplaining. CounterSocial and Mastodon offered suggestions, but most of it was what I tried, and both that and the stuff I hadn’t tried but then did, did not work. But I appreciated that people saw the post and genuinely tried to help. That’s always appreciated, and I made sure to thank and acknowledge them.

I will be heartbroken if a printer that was that expensive and under warranty at only two years old is dead for good.

Now, of course, I have to fight to get them to honor the warranty.

It’s not like I can load it up into the car and take it for repair. The tech has to come here.

So, no printer yesterday, and research for a small interim printer until we figure out what to do with the laser printer. I was going to buy a small printer anyway, that I could take with me on residencies. I just didn’t expect to get it right now, and lose the big laser printer, which is a necessity for my work.

I had A LOT of stuff I needed to scan this week, along with the regular printing, so it’s an issue.

I did the rounds to promote Legerdemain, and check in and interact here and there. Making the rounds of all the sites takes from 1 ½-2 hours, which I now need to build into the workday. Whether or not I “have” time doesn’t matter. It’s a necessary part of the job. People running around saying they “don’t have time” or “the spoons” to learn these new platforms are speaking from a place of privilege I do not have.

Twitter is mostly screaming right now, anyway. It makes me sad.

I turned around two script coverages in the afternoon. We got an issue with a misplaced synopsis sorted out, which I will deal with today. I have to sit through another “evaluation” soon. My numbers have gone up in the last months, I have a 100% on time rate, and I’m requested 5% more often than the average for readers, so what is there to talk about? Leave me alone to do my work or give me a raise.

I found out that library holds expired yesterday. I contacted the library to ask them to hold them over until I could pick them up this morning, but didn’t hear back. With the library closed for four days over the holidays, we should get a little extra time. All the same, my world will not stop if I don’t get a library book I ordered. I can order it again.

Centerville Library’s staff would just check them out and send me a note telling me they were ready whenever I wanted to pick them up, but then, I built relationships with those librarians over ten years. The turnover at this library is much higher, and while all the librarians know me, sort of, by this point, they don’t really know me. It’s whatever. I will cope.

A colleague asked for recommendations on something, and, having dealt with her requests before, she wants me to do initial introductions and labor on it, which I won’t do. I’ll give her the information. Someone else is nagging me to review her book, which I just received – give me a minute, would you? Paid work comes first.

I’m behind on getting out some other admin stuff that needs to be done this week, and I don’t want to let it slide.

It took me 45 minutes to upload my profile picture on Hive, between my tablet being slow and the site running slow. Hopefully, everything will even out soon.

On a happier note, I received a tax refund from the state. In this state, when there is a surplus of taxes collected, they don’t sit on it. They are required, by law, to return it to the taxpayers. So I got an unexpected refund check. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to cover the little interim printer I have my eye on. That little thing made me feel cared for by the Universe.

As far as writing went, I chose not to work on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH yesterday, because I was working on the holiday story instead. However, as I passed the 2K mark and realized how much story there still was, this is not appropriate for the newsletter subscribers. So I have to come up with something else that can be a flash (I already have the idea) and switch over to writing the flash for the Ko-fi page in the next couple of days (that idea is a little weird, but fun. Ko-fi is where I do weird and fun).

This morning, I only did 1151 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, but they’re decent. I have to come up with a few more pages tomorrow morning to round out this chapter, and then we are where we need to be for the chapter I wrote last Friday, and that sends us careening toward the climactic sequence and resolution. It will come in short, on word count, for this draft, but as I revise it next spring, I will layer in the necessary period detail so it will hit the count organically (hopefully without info dumping).

I’m finishing NaNo at 59,736 (part of me says, come on, write another 300 words before midnight and hit 60K), but we’ll see.

I did not sleep well, between worrying about things and the cats being impossible.

Up a little after 5. Tessa is doing a Houdini act. I heard rummaging, and found her in a closed bureau drawer (that has not been opened for months). How did she get in there when there are no holes in the back of the bureau? It’s a mystery, but I’m glad I was home to get her out.

My back was spasming when I woke up, but a longish yoga session (under Tessa’s supervision) helped.

I dashed out early when the store opened that carried the printer I wanted. In and out in a few minutes with the printer, a 2-year warranty, and a hole puncher (I can’t find my other one, and Staples sent me the wrong case of paper).

Wolfed down breakfast and headed out again, just as the storm started. Hit up the library – they’d held my books for me, knowing I’d show up when I said I would. I am very grateful. Liquor store (gotta stock for a storm). Bank, to put in the refund check I’d just spent on the printer.

All the errands done in 20 minutes and home. Car safely slotted. Back to work. The winds are supposed to pick up seriously over the next few hours and be high until tomorrow night. The temperatures are in the 40s now, but will drop into the 20s tonight, so the rain might switch over to snow. They are positioning plows and utility trucks around the city.

Lots to do, so off I go. Have a good one.

And hey, all you who busted your ass for NaNo – good work! Cheers to you!

Tues. Nov. 29, 2022: Juggling the Decorating

Front door wreath. Photo by Devon Ellington

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Waxing Moon

Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Partly sunny/cloudy and cold

I hope you had a great holiday weekend, if it was a holiday, or a great weekend no matter what.

Curl up and let’s have a catch-up.

If you missed my post on creating an Oasis on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolution site, you can read it now.

Friday was mostly about switching out fabric: taking the autumn fabric off various surfaces, deciding what Yuletide fabric would go on them, ironing as needed, washing what came off.

Basically, if it doesn’t move, it gets covered with fabric and décor, so the cats keep moving when the boxes come out.

Saturday morning, I realized that the chapter I wrote on Friday needs to be about two or three chapters further into the book, since it sets off the climactic sequence. I renumbered that chapter and went to create the interim chapters. I only got 709 words written, before we really had to get going on our day.

It was Small Business Saturday, so that’s what we did – we small businessed.

First, it was down to Cheshire to Whitney’s Farm to get the wreath. On the way back, we stopped at Adams Fresh Market for a few things. We dropped everything off, then headed up to Bennington, where we parked off Main Street and visited the local small shops and got our holiday shopping done, except for one thing I got in Williamstown on the way back.

All small business/individual artist stuff.

When I got home, the few things I’d ordered (from yet another small business) arrived.

So everything is ready to be packed and shipped this week.

Whew!

We also visited a favorite thrift store up in Bennington. I found some adorable vintage ornaments, including a pair of glittery  airstream trailers that totally fit in with THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. I found a wooden hot air balloon ornament, and a few other things, including a piece of a Christmas village.

vuntage trailer ornaments. Photo by Devon Ellington

I’ve always wanted a Christmas village, but haven’t found what I want within my budget. This year, I decided who needs matchy-matchy? I can create it just by picking up thrift store pieces I enjoy and build something unique.

Because you know I’ll wind up creating stories set in it.

When we got back, I got a few more decorations packed up into the closet in Tessa’s room, and got out the small tree for the porch. It’s together, but without lights and ornaments.

Sunday, I chose not to write. I made a mad dash to a store I dislike, in the hopes they would have some taper candles, and I got the last box of white tapers in the place.

We cleaned off the mantel, put up better hooks, and put some of the decorations we want up there. I also packed away a bunch of stuff that had been there.

In previous years, in fact, since I have a memory of these holidays, we always displayed our holiday cards on red ribbons hung beside the doorframes. It looked good in Chicago, in Westchester, on Cape Cod. I did it when I lived in Florida, San Francisco, Seattle, and Manhattan.

But here, it doesn’t look right. The doorways are tall, and even re-cutting ribbon for the full length looks spindly. These doorways need grand garlands. Which is not happening this year.

So I bought a cork bulletin board. I covered it in holly fabric, with burgundy and gold ribbon around the edges, and we will pin our cards to the board and keep in on the fireplace mantel. It looks nice, and we will build the rest of what we put on the mantel around that.

We got the carolers up on their little table. And the gold bells on the living room door. We worked on the big staircase from the front door up to the actual apartment. The nutcrackers march down one side of it, the tallest at the top, the smallest at the bottom. On the other side, we have the deer going up, the largest deer at the bottom, the smallest on top. We still have to do the garland and the lights, but at least these pieces are in place.

And that’s all that got done. No tree in the stand or decorated yet.

I started to berate myself for not getting it all done in one day (I used to get it all done in one, eight-hour day). Then I remembered how much I’ve accumulated since then, and that we are still trying to figure out what looks best where. Last year we just kind of slapped it up wherever. This year, we are putting more thought into it. If it takes time, it takes time.

I found Charlotte’s banana in all of this, which has been lost for weeks, and all is now right with her world.

I was tired and my back hurt by Sunday night. I went to bed early. In the morning, I had answered some questions that came back after one of the coverages, going into more detail and offering some resources to the writer.

Up early on Monday. Tessa supervised my morning yoga, making sure I didn’t slack off.

I did, however, have a hard time getting it together.

I managed to finish the chapter on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. One more interim chapter, and we’ll be where we need to for Friday’s chapter to happen, and then hurtle forward.

I got the promotions uploaded and scheduled for “Just Jump in and Fly” which always gets a push at this time of year. Since it’s one of my favorite pieces, I like promoting it. I had to do a new graphic for “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall” because the ad just didn’t work. But I got it done, uploaded and scheduled. Then, I got the Topic Workbook promotions uploaded and scheduled through the end of the year.

I’m allowing all the promotions, of the above, and of Legerdemain, to run through the end of the year. Then, we’ll see what Yegads Muskrat is up to. If the platform continues its rightwing extremist skew, my audience isn’t on it anyway, and I’ll lock down my account and see where else makes sense. I don’t want to give up the account, but I’ll lock it down. I can’t even do anything with the Fearless Ink account, because if I sign out of the DE account to go to the FI account, I can’t sign back into the DE account. Maybe I’ll sign into the FI account from the library.

I bit the bullet and signed up for Post’s waitlist. We’ll see.

The tablet is running slowly and I’m having trouble doing anything on Hive. I wish they had a desktop app. So many writers and readers are there that it makes sense to be there. But if I can’t do anything on it, it’s just a frustrating waste of time.

There are people running around screaming and bullying about this site and that site, pretending they actually know what they’re talking about and their “deep dives” into the sites are anything but self-serving. The sites all screw with our info, that’s part of the deal. You take precautions, and leave when you don’t like it. And the truth is, no one knows which platform works for what, because it will depend on who winds up where. Twitter was unique in its time and place. That it survived as long as it did is amazing. Now, it’s time to try new things. The whole adapt-or-die thing.

Turned around two scripts in the afternoon. Was too tired to try any more decorating/unpacking. Read a little bit for pleasure. Went to bed pretty early.

Up around five this morning, which was good. I got my morning routine done early enough to get to other things quickly. I could really enjoy the morning yoga, which was nice. And, yes, Tessa was right there to make sure I didn’t try any shortcuts!

The big thing I started this morning was one of the two holiday stories that have to go out this month. I should have written them in August, but, hey. I’ve been thinking about this one since about October. I drafted about 2K this morning; it will need some work, and it will be longer than I’d hoped, but that’s the way it goes. This is the one that will go with the December newsletter. I’d written sections of the story in my head for a few weeks now, so it wasn’t just trying to figure it all out. I’m also writing in my head the flash fiction that will go up on Ko-fi. As soon as I draft this story, I’ll switch over to that one.

Which means this is probably a day off writing THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. Which is okay, because I hit the 50K I needed for Nano. And now I can flow between projects as needed, rather than stressing over hitting 50K.

I have to contact an interview source for the article recently contracted, and get that scheduled. I need to ask my friend when he wants the notes on his manuscript. I need to get to the post office today to mail the last overseas cards and the one overseas package, because I didn’t do it yesterday in the rain. I have to research the artist whose pieces I bought as gifts on Saturday, so I can make a little slip of paper to enclose with the gift (the store didn’t have the info, and not even all the pieces have her name). Note to creatives: At the very least, have a removable sticker with your name and website on the pieces you sell.

I have two scripts to turn around this afternoon. Hopefully, I can do it fast enough so that I have time to work on the decorations. Tonight, I need to start a book I promised I’d comment on for another friend, and I also want to start the domestic cards. My original idea is to write a few every night, but it might be a stronger choice to block off, say, tomorrow night or Thursday night and see how many I can get done.

The Artists Working Group is supposed to meet late this afternoon. A few days after Thanksgiving sounds like a COVID spreading opportunity to me, and I don’t trust that they will mask without being asked.

So I will skip it.

The next episode of Legerdemain drops today. I hope you enjoy it!

Have a good one.

Tues. Nov. 8, 2022: Dumfungled

(image courtesy of Mohamed Hassan via pixabay.com)

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Full Moon (and Lunar Eclipse)

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and Windy

Election Day

Will this be our last election? We’ll know in a few days. Let’s hope not.

Pull up your favorite beverage and we’ll sit down for our regular longish Tuesday natter.  

Today’s post is titled thanks to Melissa Amateis, who shared “Dumfungled” with me yesterday. According to Melissa, SCOTS MAGAZINE, and Susie Dent, it means “mentally and physically worn out” and “used up, in a near state of imbecility” to which I can relate right now. According to the Urban Dictionary, it can also mean “being unproductive, hitching a ride on the back of an assumption” which fits the current situation in so many aspects. But I choose the first definition as the title for this post.

See, Melissa? I kept my promise to you!

If you didn’t see the post over on the GDR site yesterday, you can hop over now.

I got a lot done on Friday: 2223 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH for Nano, an episode and a bit for LEGERDEMAIN, caught up on some email, turned around two scripts. I was tired by the end of it, and read for pleasure, rather than doing the other reading I should have done.

The paper I ordered from Staples arrived; but it was the wrong kind. Regular paper, not 3-hole punch. I’m not going to fuss. I’ll keep it, invest in a new 3-hole puncher (I can’t find the one I own; it might be in storage) and punch the holes myself. I draft on 3-hole punch paper, so I get it in by the case. Usually.

I spent far too much time on Twitter, upset at the way Yegads Muskrat is intentionally destroying it. Lilith St. Crow calls him “Melon Husk” which is another good handle for him, What a disgusting human he is. Destroying something people value because he can afford to do it.

Stayed up way too late reading Ann Aguirre’s EXTRA WITCHY, which was a lot of fun.

Saturday morning, I slept later than expected, because the cats tried to roust me early, I refused, and fell asleep again. Got in 2412 words for THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. I’m having a lot of fun writing Rita’s youngest son, Doug.

Once the words were out of the way, I went to Big Y and did a big grocery shop, restocking a bunch of staples that we used up, and getting the fresh stuff we’ll need for the week. Came home, put it all away, and off we went, gallivanting, because it was a beautiful, sunny day, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

We drove up through Bennington and over into NY through Hoosick Falls (which is an interesting little town) and to Hoosick, and our favorite Treasure Hut, which we hadn’t visited all summer. We didn’t find any of the furniture pieces for which I’m looking, but I found an Inkberry Pfaltzgraff platter that matches some of my other dishes, a tiered silver serving tray (Irwin ware), vintage glass poinsettia ornaments, a cute ceramic piece of two kids getting ready to skate, and yes, another brass trivet. You know me and trivets. I think I have 20 now?

On the way back, we stopped at a favorite thrift store in Bennington. We found 2 dinner plates that match the soup bowls we bought last year, a lovely blue and green bowl, another little figure of a kid walking dogs for Christmas, and a gorgeous tapestry runner for spring.

Picked up a pizza on the way home and had a late lunch. Washed what needed washing, and put the rest away, after doing some research on maker’s marks.

Hung out and read a bit. Turned the clocks back before we went to bed.

Tessa tried to get me up at 5, insisting it was breakfast. I thought my phone hadn’t fallen back yet, so it was really four, and rolled over, not getting up until 6. Tessa didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day. She tried going to my mom for comfort. By accident, my mom called her “Charlotte” and Tessa, insulted, stomped off and wouldn’t have anything to do with either one of us all day.

It was raining and kind of yuck, so instead of being out and about again, we stayed home. I wrote the next chapter of THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH, at 2938. A character repositioned himself in the story earlier than I expected from the outline, but it worked, and I can cut some info dump out of the first chapter, because it’s actually integrated here. But it took damn long to write those words.

I’m fighting the book’s natural rhythm to make word count. It wants to grow at around 1000-1200 words a day. But I need to push it to make the Nano wordcount, to meet my expectations for myself for participating. So I’m forcing it at an unnatural rhythm, which will bite me in the ass during revisions. The chapters are also very uneven, which is a problem, Because structurally, it does matter in the genre.

I spent too much time mourning Twitter in the afternoon instead of reading or doing something worthwhile. I also wasted too much time struggling to set up an account on Mastodon. The first two servers I tried wouldn’t send me the confirmation email, no matter how many times I requested. I finally got an invite from a screenwriter on Twitter who set up his own server, and that went through. Once I was in, setting up is pretty easy. Finding people is harder, because of the different servers, but it’s possible. I was also invited to a screenwriters’ Discord group, and, much as I dislike Discord, I like the person who set it up, so I’ll give it a go.

But if you want to find me on Mastodon, I’m at @devonellington@bbq.snoot.com.

Roasted a chicken for dinner, so the whole house smelled wonderful. Made stock from the carcass.

Went to bed ridiculously early.

I had some sort of bad dream, from which Charlotte woke me up around 3. It fled as soon as I woke up, but the adrenaline spike was nasty. Tessa was all like, “well, since you’re awake” but I ignored her and fell back to sleep.

I dreamed about going to listen to jazz at a place with wonderful food and interesting people. No COVID in the Dreamscape, and I have quite a good social life there, so it will have to do until I can actually socialize when I’m awake, if the pandemic is ever under control.

I was all set to sign up for an in-person yoga class the Sunday after Thanksgiving and realized everyone there would have been unsafe all weekend and shedding virus, so I think I’ll pass.

Up at a reasonable time on Monday. Wrote 2337 words on THE TREES WHISPERED DEATH. It was a fun chapter with good dynamics and finally, FINALLY, I’ve dropped the first body. I usually drop it much earlier. And I had to change a relationship from cousin to brother-in-law to make the logic work. But it was fun, and I’m feeling more hopeful.

Posted on the blogs and made the SM rounds – which took two damn hours. But I need to establish myself on the platforms and interact and build different communities. Some I’ll phase out. Others I’ll continue to build. Different platforms work for different things. As someone who makes a living in the arts, I don’t have the LUXURY of not MAKING the time to find out which platforms do what best, and I don’t have the LUXURY to whine that’s too hard and I don’t have time. I’ll lose my livelihood if I don’t do it. Getting my work out to the widest possible audience is part of my job. I don’t get to whine (okay, maybe I’ll whine a little bit, but you know my rule: pity parties can’t last longer than 15 minutes). Most importantly, I don’t have the option of not learning and changing and growing as the industry does.

Tribel is about branding and marketing, so even though I’ve met the largest amount of creepy dudes sending me inappropriate messages there thus far, I might have to stay. Cohost talks about being “cozy” but so far, it seems like a platform for hobbyists rather than professionals. There’s no reason a platform can’t support both, but if Cohost gets squiffy about me linking to projects that pay the bills, they are not the right platform for me.

We’ll see.

It’s exhausting.

Necessary, but exhausting.

Twitter dystopia was a hellscape, and I spent very little time there. Yegads Muskrat is openly telling people to vote Republican. Bite me, asshole.

It was a glorious, sunny day, so I walked to the post office to mail some bills.

Only turned around one script in the afternoon. Had trouble concentrating.

Took Jeremy Rock Smith’s virtual cooking class. He’s doing a soup class for the next few weeks, and I love it. He has such joy in both the cooking and the teaching that it makes every day better.

I also learned where I can improve my technique on several things, so my upcoming soups will be even better.

Went to bed early, because I was so exhausted. Between the full moon, the eclipse, the retrogrades, the election, and Twitter’s destruction, it’s a lot.

In the Dreamscape, I taught a class, did a reading/book signing at an adorable library, and baked a ham. It was a busy night. There are no Republicans in my Dreamscape (along with no COVID), so it’s a nice place to spend time.

Tessa woke me up at 4. I refused to get out of bed until nearly 5, but then went to start my day. I went onto DystopTwitter, which was a mistake. In addition to the destruction, there are people boasting about not voting. Of course, that makes it easy to unfollow/block them. Some of them are people I’ve interacted with for a long time, and didn’t know they were that stupid. But when people show you who they are, believe them. I’ve always lost respect for people who choose not to vote; in the past few elections, that’s turned into genuine loathing.

I’m too old and tired to argue with people. The great thing about social media is that it’s easy to cut off contact.

I tried to sit down and write, wondered why I was struggling, and then realized I was still in my pajamas. Changed into writing clothes, and there were the words, waiting for me.

Wrote Chapter 8, coming in at 2118 words. Lots of dialogue, so a typical chapter length, but fewer words. It looks like I’ll break 20K tomorrow instead of on Thursday; if that’s the case, I will feel like I’m really on track.

I have to do the rounds to promote the episode of Legerdemain that drops today. And, you know, do some work on Legerdemain itself. By the end of next week, I need to put up the episodes through the end of the year, and then, hopefully, by mid-December, I can get all of the second arc up and scheduled. I’d like to get another chapter of ANGEL HUNT adapted today, too, before I have to switch over to script coverage.

No post on Ko-fi today. With Election Day chaos, it makes no sense. I’ll do a tarot post next weekend, and I’m working on a weird little flash fiction piece for Thanksgiving week.

Fingers crossed things get better after today, not worse. I want to be hopeful, but I’m afraid to be.

Take care my friends. VOTE.

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

garden sculputre installation at The Mount

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Sunny, cooler, less humidity

Hot, busy weekend.

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

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

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

I finished reading the next book for review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I remind myself: They are not my target audience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I rested.

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

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

That was it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2022: Release Day for “Personal Revolution”

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

New Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Partly cloudy and pleasant

The re-release of the short mystery “Personal Revolution” is out today! I’m in the process of updating all the links. It’s a Delectable Digital Delight, a short story set in a fictional town tucked near Lexington and Concord, MA.  Since Independence Day weekend is coming up, it was a good chance to re-release it. Only 99 cents. Universal buy link is here.

When a man is hanged from the oak tree in a Redcoat uniform at an historic house just before the Independence Day program, Glenda vows to both solve the murder and protect the newly-opened museum. What she finds is much darker — and more personal — than she bargained.

There’s information on the other Delectable Digital Delights here.

Back to our regularly scheduled natter.

Neptune has joined Pluto and Saturn in the retrograde lineup. Neptune has strong influences over me, so it’s a reminder to be cautious until it goes direct in December. It’s good for revealing phonies, though.

Friday was a hellscape, wasn’t it, with the corrupt, extremist SCOTUS striking down Roe. I’m glad I got a good chunk of work done on The Big Project, because the rest of the day was lost. The Dems had the heads up on this months ago. What do they do? Stand on a few steps singing a song and send out fundraising emails. They are pathetic.

Don’t start with “they don’t have the votes” or “don’t criticize Dems.” We gave them enough votes to get it done and it is THEIR JOB to keep their people in line, the way the Republicans do. The Republicans get whatever they want no matter who is in office, because they fight, and they don’t stop. The Dems throw up their hands, say they “don’t have the votes’ and ask for more money. Pathetic. They just let the extremists roll right over top of them, no matter what.

I had to hop out to the grocery store shortly after the announcement came down. What was hopeful was that there were growing groups of women of all ages, at both the grocery store, and the post office, talking. Those of us who are old enough to remember life pre-Roe, and who’ve been activists since before the Internet know how to harness the power of memory and communication that’s not based on technology, so we can help set up less traceable networks (nothing is untraceable if more than one person knows about it). Use the best of modern advances with old school.

There is plenty I will not be discussing publicly.

I tried to write in the afternoon, but everything came out incoherent.

I gave up on the Balzac biography, and I’m trying to figure out why I liked his work so much, back in the year I lived in Seattle. But I was a walking disaster that year, so my judgment was undoubtedly questionable.

Read Donna Leon’s latest Brunetti mystery, GIVE UNTO OTHERS, which is quieter and sadder than many others in the series. At least she deals with the pandemic. I don’t trust authors setting their books as “contemporary” who act like the pandemic never existed. I’m giving some a pass, who had books that stalled in the pipeline during the pandemic, but going forward, it’s a big red flag for me.

Saturday morning, I was up early.  I took a home COVID test, because there’s the regular question of “Is it pollen or the plague?” and because of last week’s playwrighting workshop. Even though we were masked and vaccinated, there was still risk, and I felt questionable a few days after, so I wanted to make sure.

The negative test meant I could go to the Farmers’ Market (that and the fact that I felt fine, other than scraping pollen off my skin every few hours). I bought from my friend at Bohemian Nouveaux Bakery, I bought tomatoes and fennel and carrots and eggs from various other farmers, and told the maple syrup place how amazing their syrup is. I chatted with all kinds of people and dogs lined up to get attention (often thoroughly confusing their owners). I left before it got too crowded, but the market is as much about the social aspect as the culinary one.

Felt the need to rest, so I did, pushing away all the “should haves.”

Made a big salad for lunch, then put Willa in her playpen and took her out on the back balcony, so I could read and she could enjoy being outside. It’s nice and shady, and the humidity wasn’t too bad.

Finished the Donna Leon book and started FROM BAD TO CURSED by Lana Harper, which was a lot of fun.

Dinner was leftovers, and then I switched to a biography of Shirley Jackson. It didn’t get as hot as I feared, but I was too wiped out to move. My body remembers the exhaustion from last year, the move, going back and filling the two dumpsters, the difficulty getting things sorted to either the dumpster or into storage. So this week, I have to focus on building new, lighter, happier, more relaxed memories here over those other memories, even with all the crap going on, and even as I have to focus on deadlines and making a living.

So that will be. . .something or other.

Had weird dreams Saturday into Sunday, where I lived in a condominium. My next-door neighbors had theirs on the market. For some reason, the wall between our apartments served as a one-way mirror for me, so I could see everyone coming through to look at their apartment. I have no idea what the hell that could mean.

Sunday was even hotter than Saturday. It was also the day before the dark moon, my lowest energy day of the month, but all the stuff I’d put off for Friday and Saturday had to be dealt with.

I worked on the SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSIONS SYSTEM Topic Workbook. That should be ready to go for final formatting and proofing this week, and maybe release next week. The workbook for class is nearly done. I took down two more workbooks that I want to re-release in July, so that they are down long enough for me to revise them and get them back up.

I worked on the anthology story and it wasn’t working. I’m percolating an idea for a different anthology that is genuinely creepy and twisted and, if I pull if off, will need trigger warnings.

The yoga studio here sent out a wonderful email blast about processing what’s going on, poses to help, and where they stand on the issues. Unlike the yoga studio on Cape Cod, who only allowed right-wingers to voice opinions and have safe space. If anyone spoke up to stand up to the right-wing crap spouted by class members, they were told to stop being political. Yet those right-wingers could say whatever they wanted and it was their right to express an opinion. Which meant it wasn’t safe space for anyone else. Huge difference, and the attitude here is much more what I want and need out of my yoga studio.

The meditation group also set up something virtual for Sunday night. I’d hoped to go, but Charlotte got her claw stuck on something in the kitty condo and panicked. By the time I got her safely extracted and calmed down, the mediation was nearly over. She wasn’t hurt, thank goodness, but was very vocal in her upset. Both Tessa and Willa were worried. Once Charlotte was free, and hiding, Tessa sat nearby, so that Charlotte wouldn’t be alone. I was worried Charlotte would get aggressive in her panic, but she didn’t. It was very sweet of Tessa, since they still don’t always get along.

Could not get going on Monday. Everything was a struggle. Managed to get the SUBMISSIONS Topic Workbook smoothed out and uploaded, but there is a lot of formatting wonk, so I will have to go back through and figure it out. I might have to push back the release date.

Lost way too much of the day trying to get my mother’s new doctor situation sorted out. It shouldn’t take us a damn year, pandemic or not, to find a doctor. I’m lucky she’s in reasonably good health for 97, and the paramedics aren’t here every couple of weeks, the way they are for several other residents on the block. I think we’ve found someone decent. We’ll see, after her appointment in mid-July.

Finally managed to shake loose what wasn’t working in the Monthology anthology story, and got it done. It wasn’t just that the originally planned A and B storylines flipped, causing restructuring – the heart of the piece was somewhere else. Once I found its heart, I could build the story properly. I did a few revision passes (some of them major), and wound up with a draft I felt good enough about to send to my editor. Hopefully, she likes it. I’m a little worried that the story is too quiet, without the harder urban fantasy edge. But I was careful about fact-checking the shared world details and the details of anyone else’s monsters, so I think we’re okay.

There’s a lot less about the workday of the protagonist, which I thought would ground the piece, and would have called for more inter-monster interaction. But there’s room to do more if there’s another volume, and if I’m invited to contribute again. This story stands on its own, but also leaves the door open for more stories with these characters.

Fingers crossed it fits the shared vision.

I let the horror story percolate. I actually have two ideas. The more gruesome one is the one I’m going to draft first.

While there weren’t scripts assigned in my cue, I got a stack of manuscripts to cover, where I have to read the first fifty pages and comment, so there’s the week’s work from that. I’ll still be under where I wanted to be this pay period, but not as badly. And, with the review invoice I’m sending, I should be okay. Bills are covered, and as long as I’m not extravagant, I don’t have to feel like a miser.

Started reading the new book for review. It’s pretty good.

Up early this morning to go to the laundromat. It’s usually kept up quite well, but it was filthy today. The machines were fine, but the rest of it was yucky. I brought the laundry back unfolded, because I didn’t want it on the folding table.

I managed to get a good bit of the multi-colored draft of first big section of The Big Project done. The good thing about the slow and careful attention it needs to catch passives, adverbs, and qualifiers is that a lot of other errors show up, too.

I’ll do some writing this morning, and promotion of “Personal Revolution”. Later, I have to pick up my mom’s prescription. This afternoon, I’ll take a home COVID test, not because I’m feeling terrible, but because tonight I’m going to my first in-person yoga class in nearly three years, and, even though they have strict protocols, I want to make sure once and for all I’m clear post-workshop and Farmers’ Market. I have my vaccination card tucked into my purse. I still have to clean my mat and fix my mat bag before tonight. The buckle on the strap broke during the move.

I’m hoping to get a tarot spread up on the Ko-fi page later today, too. I was going to head down to Pittsfield to try and get a new phone (my phone’s giving me trouble, but hey, it lasted four years, a record for me), but I think I’ll wait until later in the week.

Plenty to do, so better get to it, right? Overlay the NOW over the sense memory stress of the final clear-out last year.

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.

Thurs. April 21, 2022: Customer Dis-Service Causes Migraine

image courtesy of Gerd Altmann via pixabay.com

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Waning Moon

Cloudy and cool

Yesterday was another frustrating day. It started well – laundry, work on The Big Project, signing the contract with the marketing agency and setting up the appropriate virtual and physical folders, expanding the pitch to my Llewellyn editor.

I did a quick grocery run, and the store gave me my little Norway spruce seedling as my Earth Day gift, which made me so happy. I know, it cost them nothing, but it made me happy. And a library run to drop off/pick up books.

I researched new phones for my mom. Tracfone refuses to fix the problem, which is that they forced a smartphone on her that she can’t use and is afraid of. They will not give her one she can use. They won’t even let me buy one. And her plan runs out next week. I’m not going to put money into a phone she can’t use. So I researched companies to see where I could get her a phone that she can use. Most companies only offer smartphones, so that wouldn’t work. One company had the perfect phone, but the company was recently acquired and it looks like it will be dissolved by June, and I’m not going through this whole process again. I found another phone that looks like it will work, and a reasonable plan. I had a live chat with a representative, everything seemed fine, I put through the order – and then the “billing” department started making demands and accused me of – I don’t even know what they’re accusing me of. Why do businesses now attack customers and assume they’re all criminals? Why do I want to do business with a company who treats me like crap?

It was a nightmare. A completely unnecessary nightmare. Not to mention ableist, misogynistic, and elder abuse bullshit.

Supposedly the phone shipped and we will have it tomorrow. Switching over the number better not be another nightmare. Because I want it to be done – I am not doing this anymore. I am, however, as soon as everything is properly transferred over, going to tell Tracfone to shove it up their ass, and filing a complaint against them with the FCC.

So that took hours when it should have taken minutes, and wrecked me for the day. But I still had to get client work done. So I dug in and did it.

You know what I’m getting sick of? Writers based in cities writing about agriculturally based environments and ignoring the weather. The weather decides the structure of the day. One can ignore weather in cities, in fact it’s often a point of pride to overcome weather, but not where the weather determines if there’s going to be a harvest or not.

I had an online yoga class in the evening with a group specifically geared to busy professional women without children. I’m glad I did it, but it made me realize that I need to go back to class in a studio, once I feel comfortable. No idea when that will be, but I need to be in class where I can get adjustments from the teacher. I’m trying to figure out if I should expand my home practice with longer sessions, or several sessions broken up over the course of the day.

By the end of the day, I felt awful, with an excruciating migraine, which hasn’t abated at all today.

I have meditation this morning, and then it’s back to work. Got to catch up from what was derailed yesterday, and try to work ahead.

There’s a post over on Gratitude and Growth on how the plants are coming along.

I just want to go back to bed, but that is not an option.

Tues. Feb. 22, 2022: Creative Trajectories

image courtesy of SpaceX-imagery via pixabay.com

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Waning Moon

Sunny and mild

2/22/22 – Pretty cool, eh?

Friday was kind of a disjointed day. A client issue that was supposedly resolved came up again, as though the initial conversation never happened. This is why I do everything in writing.

But, hopefully, it’s all actually handled now.

Got some admin done. The weather was nasty, but I managed to get out the garbage and go down to the end of the street to mail some necessary letters.

Finished reading the book for book club, and spent some time in the online forum discussing it, which was lots of fun. This book has inspired several new projects, about which I’m excited. They are all long-term, non-deadlined projects at this point, things I can work on as palate-cleansers in between other projects.

My mom’s new smart phone arrived. It’s a good one, a Samsung, much fancier than mine. But the “one step” setup/transfer from her old phone to the new phone took well over 100 steps and wasn’t complete until well into Saturday. And Tracfone’s “customer service” was, as usual, useless. But I think we might be able to unlock/take the phone to a different company, if things continue to be nasty.

I had a bad night Friday into Saturday, waking up every couple of hours, and then having trouble getting back to sleep. I think some of it is sense memory trauma – two years ago, I had the first of the cancer surgeries; last year I was stressed about the upcoming move. My body and psyche are reverting, because they believe they’ve been trained to do so at this point in the year.

Which means I have to do mindful work to disconnect the cycle of the year from previous cycles of stress and trauma, and build something positive.

Just what I need right now. More work.

But, in the long run, it will make for a more positive life experience, so I better dig in and do it.

On Saturday, I was supposed to head to the grocery store for N95 masks. They’d sent an email the previous day, saying they were giving them out. Only good thing I checked and found out that they weren’t do so at the one within walking distance. Because the next snowstorm came roaring through just as I would have had to leave, and I would have been stuck out on foot in whiteout conditions – and no masks.

I stayed inside instead, enjoying watching the snow fall. I read, mostly a biography of Ottoline Morrell. I’d read about her via diaries and letters of Bloomsbury folks, and I was annoyed then by the way they accepted her generosity and then trash-talked her. Reading her biography (the one by Miranda Seymour) made me even more annoyed. But then, talented as they were, hypocrisy and gossip were the standards of that group.

Allowed myself the day to rest and read and enjoy the snow. Other than changing the beds, I didn’t do much in the way of housework, although I did a bit of unpacking and rearranging. I am going to have to set aside a few half-days in the not-too-distant future to rearrange the filing. And I need more bookcases.

Did an online yoga/meditation session with a group I joined that’s for professional women who chose not to have children. It’s a solid group of people, and the session was good.

Did some research and pre-planning for a research trip I want to take in the spring of 2023. Figured out about how much money I need for it, how much time, breaking down the travel so it won’t be overwhelming. I’m hoping to build in a couple of days to see friends on the way, if it works for all our schedules. Both money and the curve of the virus will be key factors. I figured out how much I have to put aside every month between now and then to afford the trip and have a bit of a cushion. I want to make sure I enjoy the actual travel, not just push through to get to various destinations, and then am so worn out I can’t enjoy them. I’m not 20 anymore, and I can’t travel as though I was, just because that would be cheaper.

I also might be able to get a grant to fund at least part of the trip, so I will look into that and apply this year so the funds would be available next year, too.

It was a pleasant way to while away some time.

Did some collaborative work on the anthology. Grabbed a script to cover, and was also requested to cover another script, so that starts the week out well.

We got about six inches or so of snow, in a couple of bands. Not too bad, but the car’s all covered up again. I made a big pan of chicken enchiladas for dinner, with leftover chicken from the roast I did the other night.

Weird dreams again, Saturday into Sunday. One set of dreams was family-oriented, and not appropriate to discuss publicly, since the dreams aren’t just about me. In the other set, I was working at a conference, and trying to convince a speaker named Susan to let the sound tech wire her for her presentation (the mic pack freaked her out). Not sure what all that’s about.

Sunday was cold and sunny. Charlotte woke me around 6:30, tapping my face with her paw and head-butting me. Made scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and chives from our own plants.

Had a good, long, deep morning meditation session.

I updated the tracking sheets and Series Bible for The Big Project. That takes time, because the details are so important, but it’s necessary, especially if the project sprawls in the directions in which it’s possible (i.e., it’s a success, and goes beyond the first projected phase).

I unpacked two more boxes of books. These actually held books for current projects, and I was delighted that they made it up, and now I have them accessible on the shelves. Baby steps, right?

I did some brainstorming on the anthology, and sent an updated sheet of bullet points for the article on the theatre I created for that world.

I heard from the conference at which I’m teaching in August. They have decided to remain virtual this year. I’m perfectly happy with that. Even though they would have paid for hotel and most meals, I would have had travel expense, had to worry about clothes and makeup for four days (now I just have to look good for the Zoom session), and interacting/being “on” all the time for four days. Much as I would have liked to dip my toe back into the realm of in-person, virtual is a better choice for me personally this year, and for safety reasons for all of us. Plus, now I’m only teaching 2 hours (or maybe 4, if they want both courses) instead of 10. I’m perfectly happy about it, although I bet there will be grumblers. It also means more people from all over the country and world, who wouldn’t have been able to come in person, or would have worried about safety issues, can attend. I think it’s a positive all across the board.

I took most of the day, however, to rest and recharge. I needed it.

Yesterday was President’s Day and a holiday. Tessa got me up at 5:30. She has also decided she wants to hang out for morning yoga (which she always did at the other house), but Charlotte, who hangs out with me here, is not sure if there’s room for both of them. Believe me, there’s plenty of physical room. They just have to learn to give each other enough psychological room.

I worked on preliminary information for a large grant application for which I want to try. I need to figure out what I want to do with it.

It was sunny and mild out, and I took the opportunity to run errands: get the garbage out, pick up a few things at Cumberland Farms, Big Y, CVS, the liquor store, and check out some other stores I could get to on foot, in the hopes of finding cute little plant pots. No luck. The ones I found don’t drain, and that’s not an option.

Did some brainstorming on the anthology. Covered a script. It was sunny and mild enough to sit on the front porch in the afternoon and read there. The cats were as thrilled as the people.

I’m reading a book that’s supposedly a diary by the author, but is actually more of creative nonfiction. The headings have dates, but she admits they were written over the course of two years and change, not a single year. Because no one could travel back and forth across Europe and the country for month-long or semester-long residencies and be in different, far-flung locations so often. She uses something that happens in the day to trigger an essay built around it, and it’s well-written and engaging for the most part. But she’s one of those women who always has to have a man in her life and can’t be alone for five minutes. I have trouble respecting that kind of dependence. On top of that, most of the time, she’s a jerk to everyone around her, including the men. One would hope, in the process of writing the diary (or writing the essays that compromise the diary), that she would realize how badly she treats people around her, and try to be kinder. Learn from it. But she doesn’t. She just wallows in being a jerk. I mean, the diary is the best possible place to be a jerk, but hopefully, through the writing, you realize it and choose the path of non-jerkdom. Or at least attempt the path of being kinder. Not this woman.

I’m tempted to try reading some of her fiction, but I don’t like the “her” I’ve met on the page (which, since this is a journal for publication, is another created “her” rather than the actual person). I’m nearly finished with this book; but do I ever want to spend time with any of the “hers” again?

Highly doubtful. Although I’ve learned some good craft lessons for creative nonfiction by reading this book.

Woke up to a great article about a local entrepreneur I met last October. I’m thrilled for her! Looking forward to being able to support her business later this spring and into summer.

This morning, I have a Zoom session with fellow local entrepreneurs, which should be fun, and tonight, I’m signed up for a Zoom session via Titcomb’s Books (one of my favorite bookshops on Cape) for an author event with Nina de Gramont, the author of THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR. Two Zooms in one day! And a Zoom on Thursday for meditation! That fills my limit of not doing more than 3 Zoom sessions a week, whenever possible.

After the first Zoom, I need to head up to the library, to drop off and pick up books. Then it’s back to the page, and after that, another script coverage. It’s supposed to be mild for the next few days (although rain coming in tomorrow), but then another storm at the weekend.

One day, one step at a time, right? After all, I have books to unpack and projects to create!

Tues. Jan. 18, 2022: Planets, Cards, Pages

collage by Devon Ellington via pixabay and Canva

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Last Day of the Full Moon

Venus and Mercury Retrograde

Uranus DIRECT

Sunny and cold

Uranus goes direct today. Uranus is “the Awakener” energy, so when it’s retrograde, things that need to be shaken up in your life are stymied. It also is about what makes you unique. While having it direct helps you get out of your own way, shaking things up in the already chaotic Venus/Mercury retrogrades isn’t fun. The full moon was in Cancer last night, which meant emotions were heightened.

Friday morning, the two scout crows from my local murder were in the tree outside my office window, telling me the news. They’re very chatty. The squirrels were running around, too, preparing for the storms. They are constantly knocking down the bird feeder, and I keep moving it and trying to figure out where I can put it where it won’t be taken down and dragged all over the balcony, but so far, no luck.

I got some work done early in the morning. Later in the morning, I layered up and did the pre-storm errands: dropped off/picked up library books; mailed bills and cards, and bought stamps; picked up a couple of bottles of wine at the liquor store. We may live in a city, but it often feels like a small town, because people like to chat (masked and at a safe distance).  I always know that if I head out for errands, I’m going to have to talk to people. Which is fine, because they are interesting and nice, and, let’s face it, everyone’s felt so cut off and isolated going onto three years now, they just want to know there’s another human being out there who’s not a complete and utter jerk.

But errands aren’t something I can do if I’m in a rush. I build time to chat into all the errands time. And, even though I’m an introvert instead of an extrovert, I don’t mind. Like I said, the people are nice, and they’re interesting.

I was looking at the artwork on various tarot decks. I don’t need any more decks, goodness knows, but I still love them. Three decks in particular have my attention right now: Ask the Witch Tarot, Tarot de la Nuit, and the Gilded Tarot.

I was scrolling through social media and saw a book cover – that was almost exactly like one of the tarot cards in the Tarot de la Nuit deck, although the blurb had nothing to do with tarot. I pulled up the image of the deck and put it next to the social media post. The only difference was the way the man’s hand wrapped around the sword. Other than that, the cover artist had used the tarot image. Now, maybe the artist had permission. Or bought the image. I don’t know. But I still found that disturbing. The tarot artist’s style on the deck is very distinctive. It’s not like the typical stock Rider Waite image that’s widely available. The tarot image I used for the collage at the top of this post is a typical Rider Waite free image.

Spent some time on the acupressure mat in the afternoon. Wrote up two script coverages and answered some questions on another one. I’m below my nut for this pay period, but that’s the way it is. I’ve just been too exhausted to take on more.

Worked my way through some more contest entries.

Was up until nearly midnight, and then had trouble getting to sleep. Tessa would rather I stay up and play with her, but at least I slept in until after 7 on Saturday.

Mercury has gone retrograde in Aquarius. In my birth chart, Mercury sits in Aquarius. Aquarius is about independent thought, and Mercury is about quick thinking. So when it’s retrograde in the place it sits in my birth chart, no wonder my brain is mushier than usual. Layer pandemic brain over that, and it is not a good thing.

Saturday was sunny, bright, and cold.  I polished the short story and got it out by deadline. I’ll hear by May if it’s what they’re looking for or not. I wrote two book reviews and sent them off. I worked on contest entries.

I made colcannon for dinner, adding leeks, Canadian bacon, and shredded cheese to the traditional cabbage and potatoes. It was wonderful.

Weird dreams lately, set in a city I don’t recognize as knowing in real life, but it’s where I live and work in the dreams. They are busy dreams, not stress dreams, so by the time I wake up, I feel like I’ve put in a full day.

Tessa got me up before 6 on Sunday. I made muffins with cranberries and chocolate chips, refining a recipe on which I’ve been working, and they turned out well. Which is good, because some days I feel like I’ve forgotten to how cook or bake properly.

Worked on contest entries. It was sunny and cold. I’d prepped as much as I could for the incoming storm, so I just rested and worked on the entries. I did take out the garbage, so we wouldn’t be stuck with garbage in the house during bad weather, but that’s as ambitious as I got, as far as going out and about. Read a script.

Charlotte woke me up before 4 AM on Monday. I think the storm upset her. Tessa was in the doorway with her, “You’re up? Do I need to start vocal exercises?”

I got up and fed them, then grabbed the featherbed and moved to the couch, where I fell asleep again. It had snowed quite a bit by then. I woke up a little after 7, and the snow was serious.

Still, people were out with shovels and plows, getting things done. Men shoulder their portion of the work better here than they did on Cape. The Cape was full of white men who would moan that they “couldn’t” shovel or carry groceries or do anything because they had a “bad back” and then immediately go play golf all day.

The past few weeks, I’ve landed in the same place in my dreams, as I mentioned above. I don’t remember much about the dreams, but I do know they take place in the same location. It’s a small city, that I don’t recognize when I’m awake, but is my home city in the dreams, and I’m comfortable. Lots of brick buildings, three and four stories. Coffee shops, restaurants, bookshops, small theatres, museums, a library, etc. No virus, as far as I can tell. The me inhabiting that dream space is a younger me (thirties?), and I’m happy there, with friends and work I like, although I don’t know what my work there is (I suspect it’s similar to what I do here, or I wouldn’t be happy). So far, I only recognize one person in that circle of people from my circle of people on this side of the dream scape, and that’s someone I knew when I first started working on Broadway, and who has since died. The dreams are pleasant, although they are busy, so I always feel as though I’ve put in a full day by the time I wake up. I’d like to try entering the space in lucid dreaming, so I have a better idea of where it is and why I keep visiting.

Eggs Benedict for Monday’s breakfast, because why not on a cold, snowy day?

I’m thinking of investing in Scrivener, after all these years. As long as I can save into .doc, .rtf, PDF, and create script templates, I should be fine. I’m unhappy with Word. I have a 50% off coupon from Nano, so I might as well use it. Not until Mercury goes direct, though, because that’s just asking for trouble.

Spent Monday morning working on The Big Project, and got two sections done.  I need to catch up on the tracking sheets for this piece (I’m now four sections behind) or I will be in trouble moving forward. In the afternoon, I worked on writing up the script coverage for the script I read the night before, and then, in the evening, I read two scripts for which I will write up coverage today.

A Twitter pal and I talked about a tarot reading she did, and the deck she used was so pretty that I ended up ordering it (Mystic Mondays Tarot, in case you’re wondering). I don’t need another tarot deck, goodness knows, but this one called to me.

It might be time to sit down and write my tarot book. I’ve been working with the cards for nearly forty years now.

Had good yoga and meditation sessions this morning. When I make the time to sit for a decent stretch, it starts the day in a more focused, grounded way.

I’m debating whether or not to head over to the college library later this morning. There aren’t a lot of students around, so it seems like a good time to poke around and find the materials I need to develop two different, but art-related projects.

I will do some more work on The Big Project this morning. I have contest scores to enter, script coverages to write up, and a couple of client blog posts to write. I might try to get some LOIs out, too, and I have two more scripts to read.

A friend has a new call for submissions out that got me thinking, although she works in a genre that would be a stretch for me, especially as I don’t read much in it. But I like the premise of the anthology call, and it’s only a 1K piece, so it’s worth thinking about. The deadline is the end of the month, which is do-able, if I find the right story and characters.

Had an idea for another piece in the same general family as The Big Project, only it wouldn’t be as big (The Medium Project as a working title?). The central protagonist and the premise came to me when I was writing in my journal this morning. At first, I thought it could be a spin-off to The Big Project, but it insists that it inhabits its own world, and I need to trust the work.

The power held, and I’m glad the storm wasn’t as severe as predicted. We’re supposed to get another one this coming weekend, so I have to figure out when to go out and about to take care of whatever needs out-and-about-ing, and then hunker back down next weekend.

Which suits me just fine.

Tues. Dec. 14, 2021: A Twisty Weekend

image courtesy of WaldNob via pixabay.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Waxing Moon

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and mild

Well, let’s just say, it’s been quite the few days.

Friday, I decided to do a hail Mary pass on the car and see if putting in a new battery solved the issues with the EPC light coming on, which my research indicated was sometimes the case. I joined AAA at the tier which promises roadside battery replacement back in November. Not that they’ve sent me my membership card. I’m still carrying around a printout of the email.

So I jump through all the ridiculous hoops on the AAA website to get the quote, to approve the quote, to get them to email me the quote, and to put through the request.

The guy shows up in 20 minutes.

To jumpstart the car.

“They no longer do” battery replacement in the Berkshires.

Then WHY DID I HAVE TO DO ALL THAT FUCKING PAPERWORK?  And why was not told this when I specifically chose the AAA tier that included the promise of this service?

The way companies based outside the Berkshires take money from us without providing the services for which we pay around here is appalling.

The guy didn’t even need to give me a jump. The car started.

I took it down the street to the mechanic I trust. Turns out my battery is fine. They ran a diagnostic. Didn’t find anything wrong with it. So the dealer in Pittsfield strung me along for weeks, and I’ve been without a car for WEEKS for no damn reason.

In case the light goes on again, I now have the information of a local guy who specializes in foreign cars.

Because I’m not taking it to the dealer in Pittsfield unless there’s no other choice.

Came home exhausted.

But got back to work in the afternoon, with script coverages, catching up on emails, getting out some LOIs, and the like.

Sendinblue has flagged my entire mailing list for the newsletter. They said there were too many bounces, and it had 0% opening rate. You know when they flagged it? THREE MINUTES after it was sent. I don’t know about you, but it’s often a week or more before I open and read newsletters. According to the dashboard, no one opened the newsletter. Yet I was hearing on social media and via email from a good portion of the list how glad they were the newsletter was up and running again. Also, what my dashboard shows as bounces (which I can either delete or research for updated emails) and what they’re telling me bounced don’t match. At all.

And they won’t let me just fix the bounces. They 86’d the entire list. Including the people who signed up via their contact form on my website.

It’s ridiculous.

I’ve worked with several email platforms over the years, both for myself and for clients. None of them have ever pulled this crap. Sendinblue’s response is they “can’t” only flag the bounced emails. If a certain number (and their number is higher than what shows up on my dashboard) bounce, the whole list is gone.

So I signed up for MailerLite (after several conversation with them), exported the whole list, ditched the Sendinblue contact form on my website and put in the MailerLite, and it looks like we’re good to go. I’m not sure if I should re-send the newsletter – Sendinblue claimed they only allowed it to go to a “sample” before 86-ing the entire list, but they won’t tell me to which addresses. I might do a “Take 2” with new information on the top, and tell people where they can stop reading if they already got the list.

Let’s hope MailerLite actually does what they claim to do.

So that puts MooSend and Sendinblue on my “no way do I want anything to do with them ever again.”

I mean, I do a quarterly newsletter. It’s not like it’s a big strain on any platform. Which was another problem with Sendinblue – quarterly wasn’t going to be enough for them. The list would have been flagged for inactivity after a month– and needed to be deleted and re-entered yet again.

No, thanks.

The company is not willing or able to meet my needs, so I will find someone else who can.

Saturday was a rainy, yucky day. Cold and raw. The storm let up for about a half hour, and I did a run over to Big Y and did a big grocery shop, including what I need for the baking, except for the candied peel, which I’m still struggling to find.

Got everything home and unpacked. Read a bit in the afternoon. Worked on script coverages.

Totally enjoyed PAYBACK’S A WITCH by Lara Harper. Very well done.

A little squirrel came up on the back porch, climbed up onto the bench and knocked on the window. He wanted our apples. No, I didn’t feed the squirrel. I don’t want it to go out on the Squirrel Collective Mind that I feel squirrels, or we’ll be overrun.

Sunday was mild and sunny. Got some script coverage done in the morning. We headed out with the last of the cards, dropped off some library books. The dashboard lights came on again in the car, and it gave a bit of a hiccough. I was worried it would stall out, but it smoothed out again. We went to Colonial Alpaca in Williamstown, so my mom could buy a gift for her friend. Then, it was off to Wild Oats to stock up.

They had a small Dresden stollen, so if I can’t get my hands on candied peel and make my own, at least we can have a little stollen. They also had the Nuremberg Gingerbread that I absolutely love. And it was fresh, not stale and left over from years before.

Got home, and we put up the big tree in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room. It looks like a normal-sized tree in this house. It always dominated the Cape house. But it’s just. . .nice here. The stand, as always, was a pain in the ass to put together. I have to see if I can find a stand that works for artificial trees that isn’t so awful.

But it’s much sturdier here than it was on the floor back on Cape, and I might not even need to tie off.

We only got the tree up and the lights on, and lights up on the mantel and the front windows. That was as much as we could get done.

Besides, it gives the cats a chance to get used to the tree. We’re lucky; they’ve always been good with it. I mean, they check it out and they sit under it, but they haven’t been destructive, at least not yet. We let them hang out and “help” when we unpack the decorations, and their special Yuletide toys come out and go under the tree, and we have stuffed ornaments for the bottom branches, so it all works out.

Read two scripts, and most of the next book for review.

Tessa actually let me sleep on Monday morning, until after 6. Progress.

Reshuffled my morning yoga sequence. It didn’t work in the way I expanded it, so I put some of the new sequence at the front of the session, and it works better than sticking them on the end.

I had an excellent morning meditation session. Did not want to get up. Could have sat much longer, instead of 30 minutes.

Got blogs up for the Intent for the Week, for the GDR blog, and for tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice.

Found over 800 emails in my inbox, which is not the way I wanted to start my Monday. I got a couple of “we invite you to apply” emails from companies I’ve never heard of. I will have to see what that’s about. How about, if you like my website so much, we have a conversation about what you’re looking for, and whether we’re a good fit? Instead of “invite to apply.” Which, sent out on a Saturday night, sends off warning bells.

Found a couple of things that should have gone into a friend’s holiday package where Willa “helped” pack it – and she swiped those two things and put them in her stash. I retrieved them, wrapped them, and packed them. My mom packed the gift for her friend. I headed down to the post office (on foot) to send them off. Huge line, but moved fast. Told the clerk how grateful I was that the packages mailed last Thursday were already arriving. She was delighted.

Whenever there’s a line, everyone starts chatting with everyone. Like I said, the post office is the happening place around here. Where you go to find out what’s going on. In Lee, it’s Joe’s Diner. Here, it’s the post office.

Home, and back to work. Wrote up some blog posts. Worked on the tracking sheets for The Big Project. Wrote up two script coverages. Started doing some planning and scheduling for blog posts on various blogs for the new year. I need to start batch blogging for some of the blogs (not this one or Gratitude and Growth, which are dependent on the moment) and work ahead.

In the afternoon, I baked 10 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the holiday baking. Much easier and less stressful in this kitchen than it was on Cape, for some reason. Also, because I’m not doing all-day baking marathons, I think that eases up some of the stress, too. And my feet don’t hurt as much working in this kitchen.

I did use up most of the tins I brought up. I thought I’d brought up another box of them, but maybe not.

On the list for spring’s storage run: More tins for the cookies.

I miss my special china and the snowflake cups/plates/pot I got last year. Oh, well, I’ll get it on one of the summer or fall trips to storage, and we’ll have it for next year.

Read the script for which I’d been requested; it was veery good. It will be a pleasure to write it up. Finished reading the book for review. Will write the review, send it and the invoice off today. Ordered a couple of things off Etsy, from an artisan whose work I like, for something I’m working on for the new year.

Started reading Trisha Ashley’s ONE MORE CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, which Deborah Blake recommended. Thoroughly enjoying it. I wonder if this is the book that will convince my mom to read some of the books she likes on Kindle? She’d love this. I stayed up way too late reading.

Tessa let me sleep until 6:39 this morning. Fed everyone, and curled back up on the couch with the book, instead of doing what I should be doing.

Got through a little over 500 emails. I have to hope the car holds up to do an errand, and then get back to work on the review and the script coverage. Or maybe I’ll do the review/invoice first, and then attempt my errand.

I need to write up a long, complicated report on the script I read last night. On this afternoon’s agenda are the orange-cranberry cookies and the oatmeal lace currant cookies. Then, it’s two more scripts to read.

Those emails “inviting me to apply” that I received over the weekend? Bogus. Had nothing to do with anyone actually paying any attention to what I do or my skills. It was a series of automated emails from several different “recruiters” who are just looking to bump their numbers, not actually looking at actual talent to fill roles. Waste of my time to even open the emails.

Off to attempt productivity, when all I want to do is read that book!

At least my work for copyediting clients is done for the year. It’s only script coverage and the last two plays on deadline, both of which I’m writing in my head a good deal before I try to put anything on the page. The Marie Collier play is only a ten-minute play, so once I sort out some more possibilities in my head, I can just sit down and write it. I’m still working on some Dawn-and-Dorothy arcs, and I need to go back into the research materials a bit. Because the latter is so specifically stylized, it’s harder to pull off.

Have a good one.

Thurs. Oct. 7, 2021: Cat-aversaries

Willa, photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Waxing Moon

Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Foggy and mild

I talk more about foliage and farmer’s markets over on Gratitude and Growth.

Yesterday was a quiet day. I worked through some emails, wrote up four coverages, participated in Remote Chat, sent out some LOIs. Read three more scripts. Steady workday, although not as varied as some.

The longer morning yoga session helped counteract all the sitting, and I did another yoga session before bedtime. I want to get back into doing that. I sleep better when I have that transition time of yoga and the night meditation, especially if I’ve been reading scripts all the way up until bedtime.

I’d bundled the chicken carcass into the fridge because I was tired the previouos night, but made the stock yesterday. That will be good for the rest of the week’s cooking.

Yesterday was Willa’s 3rd anniversary with us, and tomorrow is Charlotte’s 3rd anniversary. Although they are litter mates, and were raised by the same guy, they’d been separated by the time we adopted them. Their original owner got the pair of them as kittens. He had a lot of health problems, and needed a service dog. The cats and the dog didn’t get along, so he had to give up the cats. For eighteen months, they were moved around to different relatives about every two weeks, sometimes together, sometimes separated because they fought (of course they did, they were stressed). By the time we adopted them, they were both very traumatized. It’s been a lot of daily work, but they’ve both shown a lot of improvement. They are healthy, curious, funny, and loving. Willa is the goofier one; Charlotte is more of a princess. Charlotte still has some behavioral issues, especially when it comes to sharing space and humans; she and Tessa have attained peaceful co-existence most of the time, but usually fuss at each other once or twice a day. Willa and Tessa are sort of friends, although they don’t really understand each other. But they hang out together and sort of play in the same space, but at a safe distance from each other. They were six when we got them, so they are about nine now, and Tessa’s going on eleven.

Charlotte, photo by Devon Ellington

We love all three of our furry critters, and are glad they are part of the family.

Tessa let me sleep until 4:46 this morning, which is just perfect. Got up, and had a good morning routine, finally. Coffee, first writing session (which went well), the extended yoga session, a good meditation session. I have meditation with the online group in a little bit.

I have four script coverages to write up today, and two more scripts to read (which I will write up tomorrow), and then I’m done for the week. I have to write up the book review today and send that off, so I can get my next assignment. Errands today: both libraries and the bank.

I hope to catch up on some more email, and get out some more LOIs.

I’m hoping for a few quiet weeks to get settled into a solid remote work routine, and also finish unpacking!

I managed to book my mom’s Covid booster shot for next Thursday, just down the road at the local CVS. They’re so much nicer and, you know, actually work with their customers instead of against them here.

Have a great day, friends!

Wed. Aug. 4, 2021: Appreciating the Neighborhood’s Architecture

image courtesy of hadijoyce via pixabay.com

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Cloudy/hazy and cool

It’s cool in the early mornings and in the evenings. Not Autumn cool, but cool. It’s nice. It’s supposed to get warm and humid over the weekend and into next week, so I’m enjoying this while I can.

Got some work done in the early morning. Late morning, I took a stroll down to the post office. They are now requiring masks to enter, which is a good thing. I continued up the hill to the public library, where I dropped off books and took my time browsing to pick up new books (masked, of course). The staff has always been masked, and more patrons are now masked than even a couple of weeks ago.

I took my time walking home (“home” – what a wonderful word) along Church Street, basking in the wonderful architecture and plants. There’s a roof that’s all painted tile – I’ll have to go back and photograph it, it’s gorgeous. There’s so much detail in the trim on these houses, and carvings in the porticos. Really beautiful, even in the houses that need a little TLC. The architecture in the photo at the top of this post reflects what’s in this neighborhood, even though it’s a stock photo and not of this actual neighborhood.

Drove over to Wild Oats Market to drop off my membership paperwork. Discovered that they have a Little Free Library there, which makes me like them even more. Picked up a few things at Stop & Shop. I was planning to only get oat milk, eggs, butter – but I wound up buying four bags’ worth of stuff. We’ll use it all, so it’s not a problem. I have one eye on what we need immediately, and one eye on what we’ll need, should we need to isolate in a few weeks, be it from COVID, the weather, or a combination.

I keep honing and changing the slides for Friday’s class – all part of the process. Putting the images with them will be fun, but time-consuming, and that’s a big part of today’s work.

Read two scripts, which means I have three coverages to write, and I’ll have to get at least some of that done today.

Made pizza for dinner, because I was too tired to cook.

There’s more RWA chaos going on. Makes me glad I never joined the organization. It’s got to be heart wrenching for the people who’ve put so much time, energy, and affection into it.

I haven’t commented on the Olympics at all because I’m not watching any of it. I disagree with the choice to go forward with the games, and am therefore not watching it. Which also leads to me not engaging in any discussions about it, because the only information I have is second or third hand. So I am shutting the hell up.

Slept well. Was eager to get back to the writing, but the 1K wasn’t easy this morning. At the end of yesterday’s session, I thought I knew where I was going with the next scene – which, this morning, I decided to skip, because it really didn’t drive the story or reveal character in a way that I needed. So, while I had most of it in my head, none of it went on the page, and I went on to the next scene. 

Skipped my yoga this morning, which was a big mistake, so might do a longer session in the late afternoon, before dinner.

I found out that my public library card allows me access to the Williams College Library, which makes me so happy. Between the college library across the street and Williams College Library, I should be able to do all the research I need on Marie Collier for my play. I have most of what I need for the Dawn Powell/Dorothy Parker play, but I have to re-read the material in order to form the rest of the play. I have a strong opening for it, with a good tone, and now I need the details for the rest of it.

Remote Chat is today, which is always fun.

I’ve been spending far too much time on social media lately, mostly because of the general sense of burnout and malaise I still feel, and need to cut back. It doesn’t make me feel better, just more fatigued, even though there are a lot of people whose virtual company I enjoy.

But it’s getting in the way of the work, and the work is starting to feel better, finally. Protecting the work is important; therefore, I have to make choices to support that protection.

Back to the page – well, the class slides, anyway. Have a great day.

Published in: on August 4, 2021 at 7:55 am  Comments Off on Wed. Aug. 4, 2021: Appreciating the Neighborhood’s Architecture  
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