Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A brief, spoiler-free Deathly Hallows comment

My sister told me that some people, mostly those who had not read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, found the new movie to be a bit slow.

Me: Yeah....I don't remember all that much happening in the first part of the book. It's more toward the end.
Sister: What? Blah blah happens, and then blah blah happens by page 15.
Me: Blah blah?!?! What? No!
Sister: Yes. Blah blah. Don't you remember?
Me: No...I must have blanked that out. Blah blah. That's awful.
Sister: And then blah blah, about a quarter way in.
Me: Awwww, no. Not blah blah. That sucks.
Sister: You did read the book, didn't you?
Me: Once. When it first came out. I remember the end, though.
Sister: You remember the last 50 pages. What about the other 709?
Me: Well...there was a lot of searching, and travelling, and talking, hmmm. Maybe I read it too fast. I need to slow down and pay attention. (Pause) Blah blah? Really?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Horses, Wagons and Other Imaginary Friends

This is my imaginary horse, the Irish Cob, aka Irish Gypsy Cob and Tinker Cob. Isn't he lovely?

He pulls my imaginary Vardo, which alternates between the Bow Top and the Showman. Both are light enough to be pulled by a single horse, although a second horse was often added for going uphill. (See, I'm not just wasting my time writing; I'm learning stuff too.)

He's featured in my current NaNoWriMo project. In the novel, his name is Merry (his person is Pippin, the youngest child of a couple with a Tolkein obsession).

The detailing on these wagons is amazing; even the underside is decorated. In the course of my research, I came across a UK website. I emailed some questions about size and weight and horsepower; I got a very helpful response from the lovely Stef within a couple of hours. It closed with the Romani expression Atch Konyo - Stay Peaceful. I like it. It may become my new mantra. My frazzled neurons could use some peaceful right about now.
I have learned, as two weeks of graveyard shift stretched out into two months, that I am not a creature of the night. And so, as of tomorrow, I am switching to swing shift, because the fustercluck with the hotline ovens still isn't straightened out. Fortunately, I am valued enough that my boss said "Come to work whenever you want. Just write your schedule down for me." I think he's afraid that I'll stop coming to work. As well he should be. While my sensible self realizes the the good things about my job (income, insurance) the rest of me is bored to tears with the endless cycle of tea breads and rolls and breakfast pastries (the TPS reports of my world) is screaming F**K Pastry! and is only a hairsbreadths away from running off to join the circus. Or just running off period. And while I do occasionally get to stretch myself when a catering order asks for a 'nice dessert', that's beginning to seem pointless too. I am a carrot-motivated person. I work for praise. And while my boss, and my coworkers in the kitchen give me positive feedback, I hear nothing from the outside. Nothing. Whether I send out cheesecake from a box, or knock out a three item mignardise plate for 40, I hear nothing. It's disheartening. Yes, I understand the value of being self-motivated, and continuing to learn and grow for my own sake, but damn. I'm not used to this. And I don't like it. See what I mean about being frazzled from the graveyard shift? It wouldn't bother me so much if I weren't fried beyond belief.
In a way, I blame Cavalia. It opened up new worlds and possibilities. It showed me that the life I've made really doesn't fit. Somewhere, I got off course. And a lot of it could just be my attitude right now. We'll see what happens as I return to the sunlit lands. But right now, I have a horse, his boy and a circus family of shapeshifters that require my attention. My imaginary friends who are living my imaginary lives for me. Yay for NaNoWriMo, for giving me a way to explore possibilities, no matter how 'crazy' they might be.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010 - The Story (or lack thereof) So Far

Despite the headstart, I think I may have even less to work with this year. Last year, I had characters who had been living in my head for years. This year, they are new acquaintances, and I don't know much about them yet.
There are two main characters, one more vivid than the other other. He's a shapeshifter with Multiple Form Disorder, comes from circus folk, and is a Vardo builder/artist. His parents are huge Lord of the Rings fans and named all five of their children after characters in the trilogy. The youngest isn't very bright, or as the shifter community puts it "he's not the sharpest claw on the paw."
She's a whitelighter/granola kind of person, vague and flighty, who is about to get a crash course in walking on the wild/dark side. Hopefully, she'll get more interesting; otherwise, I foresee a swift and brutal end, because main characters shouldn't be boring.
The writing starts Monday. After being up all night at work (do not get me started on my feelings about what should have been two weeks of graveyard shift having stretched out to two months! The hot line oven still isn't installed.) I'll be going to a four hour kickoff session at Jill's. She said there would be snacks. And chocolate. Her children will probably come home from school to find all their Halloween candy is gone...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tartans and Trails

Have you ever wondered why a tartan scarf is so expensive? I learned the answer today at the Celtic Harvest Festival. According to the weaver from the Ren Scots clan, it takes eight hours just to set up the threads on the loom, and another seven hours to weave it. So, yeah. That makes sense. I learned that the first tartans were a form of camouflage, woven in colors that would blend into the landscape. The use of tartans as a means of clan identification didn't come along until much, much later.

I also learned that Colorado has an official state tartan, and that State Tartan Day is July 1st. Everyone in Colorado, mark your calendars! The black and green represent the forests, the red is the soil, the gold is the, well, the gold, the blue is from the flag, the white is the snow, and the purple is the purple mountains majesty. The tartan looks much better on a large scale; it's hard to get the idea of it from this tiny patch.

I've started swimming again, and because I don't want to destroy my hair, I bought a swim cap today. Because my head is so big, this is the style I had to get. The shopkeeper (who laughed when my response to 'how can I help you' was 'I need a cap that will fit my giant head') told me that the racing caps are too small for a lot of people, and unfortunately, the 'little old lady' swim caps are the only alternative. At least it doesn't have plastic flowers on it. Raise your hand if you remember those.

On the subject of my hair, I got tired of fighting with the gray. After years of coloring it various shades of dark, I'm going blond. Sadly, this cannot be done overnight. So Tamara (my wonderful stylist) is transitioning me from black to blond through a marvelous use of foils. My goal is a Lothlorien blonde. Right now, it's more of a Rohan caramel/strawberry blond. It's fun. But blonde plus chlorine equals green. Hence, the oh so lovely swimcap.

Week three of the graveyard shift starts tomorrow. My awesome boss leaves this week. My lovely new ovens are supposed to ship on the 23rd. And Autumn arrives on the 23rd. At long last.

Today was actually a bit chilly in the morning, and towards twilight. I got to wear my favorite fleece hoodie on our walk this evening. The mountains were pale and misty, like a watercolor wash of blues, pinks and lavenders. The moon was high in the sky. The beaver family was out for an evening swim, their triangular wakes trailing behind them. The trails were empty, save for me and Puppy. The woods feel different in the twilight, the paths familiar and strange at the same time. Strange, but not menacing. I'm at home here, in my tame little wilderness. Until I remember the newly posted sign at the trailhead. Mountain lions are active in this area. Oh well. One has a fighting chance with mountain lions. And if one loses the fight, at least it's not a dull way to die.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

For Everything Which Is Yes

We were late getting to the park, so late that the sun had set before we were finished. The waxing crescent moon hung over the mountains, reflected in the still waters of the lake, slightly pink in the last glimmer of the day. Venus shone brightly in the western sky. I sat on a rock, watching the light fade, Puppy for once sitting quietly beside me. We sat in companionable silence as an arrow of geese flew overhead, as a pair of ducks landed in the water, as a lone bat swooped silently by.
This is where I feel God. Or the Goddess, the Divine , the Force...whatever name it goes by on any given day. No building, no circle, no ritual, no trappings. Just me, and nature, and the silence, and whatever it is that lies beyond.
I thank you God for this most amazing day,
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
and for the blue dream of sky
and for everything which is natural,
which is infinite,
which is yes.
~e.e. cummings

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Morning Glories of the Corn

For reasons unknown, the random morning glories are flourishing and blooming more than the ones I painstakingly planted. These same unknown reasons are likely responsible for the lack of blooms on all the vining flowers, and for the complete lack of female blossoms on the pumpkins and squash. I learned about male and female pumpkin blossoms and hand pollination here , but I can't work with something that isn't there. There are quite a few buds still to open, but this late in the season, it's unlikely that there will be pumpkins. Even if by some miracle pumpkins appear, they will most likely be eaten by squirrels. And the corn, it's about as high as an elephant's ankle. But it's attractively festooned with morning glories.
For Book Club, (first rule of book club, don't talk about book club...) we're reading Eat, Pray, Love. So far, I like it, although I don't understand the author's penchant for spending her nights weeping and sleeping on floors. If I'm going to be miserable, I prefer to be physically comfortable whilst being so.
I do understand her fascination with Italy and the Italian language; and yes, I was interested to learn that Ciao! comes from sciào vostro, an expression used in intimate conversation, an expression that means "I am your slave". Of course, I can't see myself ever saying or hearing sciào vostro , but I do like learning new things. No matter how apparently useless they might be. Actually, uselessness rather adds to the appeal.
Although, I suppose nothing is useless to a novelist. I could possibly work sciào vostro into the current work in progress, but perhaps I'll save it for NaNo 2010 : Morning Glories of the Corn. I have no idea what it's about. I have 82 days to figure that out. Ciao!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

For the Beauty of the Earth

We've lived in our house for nine summers. For nine summers, I didn't know the name of the forty-foot tall tree on the other side of the fence. Every spring, it produced frgrant little pink blossoms, but nothing else. The other day I went to check on the garden and found tiny golden fruits on the ground. Maybe the squirrels brought them. Another tiny fruit hit the ground. I looked up. The tree is full of apricots. Tiny, sweet, tasty apricots.
I don't know why the tree decided to produce fruit this year, after being barren for so long. Maybe the vibrancy of our garden is contagious. The backyard beds are thriving as never before.
The park is incredibly lush too; this morning we came across a patch of sunflowers, a currant bush covered in tart red fruit, spurred snapdragons, sweetpeas, myriad wildflowers and a stand of orange daylilies. We also received a scolding from a beaver, but that's another story.
Bees, dragonflies and butterflies are prolific this summer too; I'm not the only person to notice. The backyard is filled with birds. In a world where so much is so wrong, this little corner is blossoming.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

O Frabjous Day!

There is something about holding the actual book that is so much more real than looking at the ebook pdf or the endless Word document. Seeing my name in print on the shiny cover is seductive. It makes me think of possibilities and reminds me of childhood dreams abandoned long ago.
I signed up for NaNoWriMo on a whim. (Thanks, Jenn!) Characters who had been living a half-life in my head came rushing out onto the pages. They got on my nerves sometimes, when they'd do unplanned things, wander off, appear out of nowhere, or change genders or species. The goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 was just crazy enough to be exhilarating.
I didn't know about the 'prize' when I started. One of the Nanoites told me about it at a write-in. Six months seemed like plenty of time to rewrite the book into something worth printing. It might have been, if I had been as focused as I was during the month of November. But for assorted reasons, many of them having to do with laziness, procrastination and unemployment, most of the rewriting happened in the last thirty days. I may be a bit of an adrenaline junkie. Instead of jumping out of planes or off of bridges, I write against a crazy deadline.
There's still a lot of rewriting to be done. Scenes need to be fleshed out, characters need to be developed, and I'm sure that there are some gaping plot holes waiting to be filled. But right now, I feel good. There's a 300 page book in my hands, and I wrote it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

All kinds of projects

After months of procrastination, an outstanding and generous job of formatting and designing by my friend Erin, and some last-minute hurdles at CreateSpace,
my NaNoWriMo 2009 is finally being made into a free proof copy. I should have it by the end of this week.
Erin also provided me with an e-book version.

I found a free novel writing software program - yWriter5. It has a lot of neat features that theoretically will make NaNo 2010 much easier. I'm testing it out by converting my Scriptfrenzy screenplay into a novel. I loaded the whole thing in and then started redoing it. So far my word count is -237. Yep, -237. Taking out all the screenplay formatting leaves a void.

It seemed like such a simple plan; get the closet doors out of the garage and reinstall them in my room. I moved half the stuff in the garage, hauled out the doors, washed them off and dragged them inside. They were the wrong ones. Start over. Right doors, only half the hardware is missing. Off to the hardware store. Three times. Finally, all the hardware is attached. I shoved the bed out of the way so I could swing the door out far enough to pop the wheels into the track. There was a sickening crack. I had splintered the bedside table. 3 trips to the hardware store, one minor injury, a casualty (the table), a lot of frustration and the use of every swear word I know in every possible combination. All in all, a typical do-it-yourself project. All that was missing was a six-pack of beer. The upside of the casualty is that I rearranged things and now have a small writing desk in my room so that I can work undisturbed by television, music or phone conversations.

I finally got around to playing with the watercolors I bought over a month ago and the book on watercolor painting I got from the library. This is my second attempt at a cloud. It looks better than the first cloud(damning with faint praise). The example in the book added mountains. I added lava because I wanted to play with the iridescent paints.

The garden is coming along nicely. So is Puppy. Her surgery was a complete success and she needs no further treatment. We have started going to the park again. She isn't allowed to play in the water yet, but she's happy just to be outside. Her stitches come out on Friday.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Solstice, Plants & Pudding

I began this morning by following a house down Kipling Street. This was followed by a series of mishaps in the kitchen; nothing serious, just vexing and messy.
I came home and made a variation of my Great grandmother Eva's Peach Pudding. I call it Blackberry Creamsicle pudding ( I'll get the recipe onto Cakes & Wine. Eventually.) Messiness continued as I learned that the pudding does not travel well in a picnic basket. It was delicious though. Our Solstice ritual was lovely, albeit a bit sticky.

If we were still playing Shadowshot Sunday, this would be my entry.
The garden continues to flourish. These iris were planted about five years ago. This is the first year they've bloomed.

This tiny blue flower is the latest of the Faery Meadow mix to bloom. It's a California Bluebell.
Fancy pink poppies.

Mini reflecting balls.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ganging Aglee isn't always a bad thing....

I was a bit miffed when there was a scheduling snafu for Puppy's vaccination appointment. But, if had gone as planned, we wouldn't have been at the park in time for me to take this:
egret and dragonfly

Or this:

Very red dragonfly
Or this:

dragon nymph/damsel fly

We might also have been caught in the torrential downpour currently going on outside. Puppy hates being caught in the rain and thunder even more than shots. So everything has worked out fine.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Goslings & Ducklings & Faeries, Oh My!

One can't spend the entire weekend working in the garden (pulling weeds while being swarmed by tiny green bugs is not happy fun time) so we escaped to the park this morning. This is not the most in-focus dragonfly photo I've taken, but I love the transparency of the wings. This was the only cooperative dragonfly today.

The snow melt is well underway. Most of the year this part of the creek is shallow and clear. Not right now. This is the Goose Family's version of white water rafting. I did not get a photo of the goslings jumping off the bank into the creek. Their tiny wings don't work well for gliding; it was more of a plummeting into the water.
A domestic goose has integrated into the flock of Canadian geese.

See how tiny the wings are in comparison to the body? Geese are so cute at this awkward, fuzzy stage.

These are not Mallards, but I don't know what kind of ducks they are.
I finally got around to replacing the faery house. The last one I made was crushed by the snow over the winter. I went with a woven house this year. I haven't done basket weaving since fourth grade. It's very soothing. Perhaps that's why it's so popular in mental institutions.

This is the beginning of the roof. Kitty enjoys basket weaving. Actually, what he enjoys is playing with the reeds as one is trying to work.

It's hard to tell from the photo, but that's a beaded swing.

The finished house.
I've neglected my novel since beginning my new job (which is going very well). So tomorrow, I am taking the day off from manual labor (six days a week is plenty!) and concentrating on the book . I may have to work at the library; sometimes it's easier to work away from home. I have 24 days before the deadline. One of the characters has decided to change species. Sigh.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ovens, Weeds and an Unaccustomed Lack of Free Time

If our household had a principal export, it would be sticks. So many sticks fall into the yard that we have to rake before we mow the lawn. Our little push mower can't get through dandelions; a twig stops it in its tracks. Our secondary export would be weeds. Lots and lots of weeds. What we need here is a small herd of goats and a goatherd to keep them from eating the flowers and vegetables.

I really like my new job. I'm learning the quirks of my 30-something oven. Two of the three temperature knobs are unreadable. Some of the stone tiles are cracked. The bottom deck doesn't work, the middle deck usually runs cold and the top deck usually runs hot. But not always. Sometimes they reverse it. Dragonheart (that's the name I gave it) requires frequent monitoring and adjusting of its temperature. This will be easier once the new knobs arrive. Maybe the attention will make Dragonheart more cooperative ;) .

My writing energy has been going into my Nanowrimo novel. I finished round one of editing on the hard copy and got the changes into the computer. And made more changes as I was doing that. Tomorrow I start the process over again. I have a pact with a friend that whatever shape our novels are in, they will go to Create Space by the deadline of June 30th. We'll have a paperback copy of our works-in-progress (WIP in writer's lingo). And then we'll keep rewriting until we're actually done. I'm wishing I'd kept up with drawing; the cover design would be much easier if I could actually draw what I see in my mind.

Before I got this job, I got up in the morning, did my morning pages and then got on the computer. Now, I roll out of bed, get ready for work, and leave by 4am. When I get home, instead of doing my pages, I tend to fall asleep for a while. When I wake up, there's always something to do. Spending time on the computer just isn't that important right now. So don't worry if I'm not posting here or on Facebook. I'm just busy with other things.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Better This Way

Dear Gigi's Cupcakes and The Shoppe,

Thank you so very much for not hiring me. Everyday, as I drive past you on my way to my wonderful new job at National Jewish Health, I'll think kindly of you.
When I look at my station, which is quite large and all mine, I'll be grateful to you. When I'm creating the bakery menu, I'll be glad that you thought I was just too alpha to be your minion.

Dear Whole Foods,

Thank you for the four times you turned me down. You turned me down for being overqualified and you turned me down for being underqualified. For essentially the same position, at different stores. Thanks to your rejection, I have a better schedule, better benefits and a better salary than you offered. You turned my new boss down once too. We're both just fine without you. No hard feelings, I'll still visit when figs and rambutans are in season. But your bakery is dead to me. Because I do it better.

To fifteen interviews and countless applications,

Thanks for keeping me busy until the right one came along. The funny thing is, this new job, as baker at National Jewish Health? I didn't actually apply for it until after I interviewed. I applied for Food Service Worker II, (which involved something to do with salad bars and trays and cleaning?) but when I got there, the chef told me he wanted to talk to me about a job that hadn't been posted yet. Something that would be a better match for my skills. So I had a great interview, and then applied for the job. And today I got my offer letter. I start Monday. I can't wait.
Because of all of you who said 'no', I'm in a job where I can use everything I've learned, everything I am, and where I have so much to learn and so much room to grow.
So thank you all very, very much for your part in getting me to this place. I really mean it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I'm a Winner! I have a Blog Sticker That Says So

Oh, Yeah Baby! The first draft of my first screenplay is done! If you follow this link to the excerpt, please be gentle with any comments. It's a first draft. It's supposed to be bad.
Next up, the long dreaded editing of the NaNoWriMo novel. I need to have something worthy of claiming my prize of one free paperback copy by June 30th.
Speaking of, I need a cover design. If anyone's good at drawing. let me know. There could be some free chocolate or pastry in it for you. Plus, the finished cover would look good in your portfolio. Everyone needs a portfolio.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mindful Mindlessness

Today I sat at my computer and noticed that there are only 15 pages to go to meet the Script Frenzy goal. Unfortunately, "THE END" is somewhere further away. I stared at the screen for a few minutes. I looked out the window and noticed that the rain was turning to snow. So of course, I had to get up and take a photo. All these tulips are from a few bulbs that were transplanted by squirrels several years ago.
I sat back down at the computer and noticed a splashy sound. Looked up and noticed that there was water dripping down the chimney of the woodstove. Mopped up the water, put a bucket under the drip, and called the people who did the roof. Sat back down. Looked out the window and noticed that it's snowing much harder. Opened the backdoor and took more photos. Sat back down. Wondered why I haven't heard from my last interview, not even the standard rejection email that this company sends out. Called the store to follow up. No one I need to talk to is in yet.

Puppy started poking me with her nose, so I put her in her little raincoat (she hates getting wet unless it's her idea) and watched her step carefully through the slush. Notice that her tail is still sort of curled; she's not that upset.
After being outside, she gets towelled off, which she does like. Then I sat back down and finally started working. Got all the characters to a masqued ball. And that's where they'll stay, because I don't know what happens next.
Call the store again, speak with one of the people who interviewed me. The process is taking longer than they thought; I'm still in the running.
I wish there was a place I could call to find out what happens at the ball. Some mundane chores might help. Something about mindful mindlessness frees my creativity.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Totem Returns

Today the dragonflies made their first appearance in the park. I would have missed them if I hadn't listened to the little voice that whispered 'go back the way you came'. So instead of taking the easy path back to the car, Puppy and I wandered the twisting, rocky path that follows the south shore of West Lake. And there they were; the red dragonflies. Over the past few years, I've come to think of the red and bronze dragonflies as the stalkers of the insect world. One will accompany me for a while as I walk the trail. Then it disappears, and is shortly replaced by another. I read today that dragonflies are very territorial. Sound like anyone you know ;)?

Prospect Park
Dragonfly is definitely my totem. My favorite of my three tattoos is a dragonfly.

Denver Botanic Gardens
Dragonflies can fly at speeds up to thirty miles per hour, yet they are very obliging about having their pictures taken. These were all taken with a small digital camera set to 'child', aka 'motion'.

My backyard
Dragonflies have been around for millions of years. There are legends that they were once real dragons; some people call them mosquito hawks because of their ability to catch flying insects.
So beautiful, such a fearsome predator. Delicate wings, crushing jaws. Welcome back.

Pond at Will's old house

Monday, April 12, 2010

Writing Outside in 10 Easy Steps

Step one - remember that the laptop is portable, and therefore can be used in the backyard.
Step two - put Kitty on his tether so he can be outside too. (Our neighborhood has foxes, coyotes, skunks, big dogs and bad drivers. Kitty is not free range.)
Step three - ooo! Look! a butterfly!
Step four- get all set and ready to write.
Step five- get up to untangle Kitty from the rosebush. Notice that the rosebush is beginning to sprout leaves. Walk around the yard to see what else is sprouting.
Step six- fill bird feeder.
Step seven- follow a random thought and wind up on a website about the Sacred Feminine with an interesting article about the Sacred Prostitute. Send this link to witchy friends.
Step eight - untangle Kitty from cauldron planter. Tell him Puppy knows how to untangle herself. Receive the 'silence, underling' stare from Kitty.
Step nine- Spend a few minutes mentally redesigning the backyard. Realize a small horde of minions would be necessary. Wonder if this is a good day for planting because I still have moonflowers and corn to start. Realize this is not getting the page count done.
Step ten - untangle Kitty from rosebush again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Writer to an Univited Character

Dear Attractive Manly Landscaper,

I did not plan for your appearance in my screenplay. But here you are, and it seems you are going to stay, no matter what upheavals it might inflict on my tenuous thread of a plot. I blame Mags, that mead-making Green Witch of a plant merchant from the farmer's market. Things were going along fine, until she up and gave your business card to the main character. This sort of reckless disregard for my intentions is very disconcerting. If this is how you people are going to behave, you should learn to type and just leave me out of it. What's that? You're all non corporeal and can't type your own stories? Well maybe you should have thought of that before.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cough Syrup & Chutzpah

"Hi, this is Daniel from Root Down. You answered our ad on Craigslist."
"I did?"
Laughter. "Yeah, you had a great cover letter about how even though we didn't list pastry you wouldn't let that stop you from applying, and that pastry skills would translate to pantry & prep. Which they do. We like your chutzpah. This place pretty much runs on it".
"OH! This was a blind ad, wasn't it ?"
"Yes, it was. When can you come for an interview?"
I don't tell him that I was stoned on cough syrup when I did my applications last week.
I set up a time (Wednesday) and go back to getting my paperwork together for this afternoon's financial assessment for lowcost healthcare. The phone rings again.
"Hi, this is Rhonda from Rolling Hills Country Club". They weren't looking for pastry either. But I have an interview. Maybe I need to dial back the chutzpah. I wouldn't want to accidentally take over the world.

Later: Oh dear Gods and Goddesses. I went through 'sent mail' and found that cover letter:

Hi, Your ad didn't say that you were looking for a pastry chef, but I'm not one to let things like that stop me. My last Chef told me that pastry skills would translate into pantry and prep, and I'm willing to test his theory. You'll see by looking at my resume that I don't have restaurant experience, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Look at it not as a lack of experience, but as a lack of bad habits to interfere with my doing things your way. Given that every job posted on Craigslist tend to get 100 or more applicants, it's likely that that my resume stands out only in terms of chutzpah. I'm okay with that; nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Oh my. Should I be worried that they called?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Here We Go!

Today is the first day of Script Frenzy, and with even less planning than I did for Nanowrimo, I'm diving in. It's not too late to donate on my penniless behalf; you have the entire month of April to click here and support my insanity by supporting Script Frenzy. Join my friend Judy, who already donated so generously. Any amount, no matter how small, is welcome. They aren't proud, they just want to break even. Thanks for supporting my delusions of grandeur :)

I've been sick for about a week, and yesterday my friend Najah made me go to the clinic. She actually turned her car around and came to take me to the clinic. It turned out to be bronchitis. The amazing and lovely PA Marjie charged me only for the office visit; the nebulizer treatment, the inhaler, and two doses of prednisone she gave me for free. She said health care is too expensive and this is her way of balancing the scales. I really appreciated it. I also appreciated the prescription for narcotic cough syrup that let the whole household sleep through the night.

I'm starting to believe in the kindness of strangers.

Enough procrastinating. Time to meet or surpass today's quota of 3.3 pages of screenplay. And remember, you can donate to Script Frenzy here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Not what I had planned

The past few days have been wasted due to a wretched cold. I haven' t had the energy to do morning pages, edit the novel, plan the screenplay, work in the garden, experiment with gluten-free pastry, walk Puppy....nothing. It's driving me crazy, this enforced inactivity. Yesterday I managed to change the sheets, do the dishes and haul the trash and recycling to the curb. I had to rest between each task. Today I managed to take my books back to the library and walk around the backyard looking for signs of spring. Then it was back to the couch. I feel better than yesterday, but still nowhere near normal.
While I was outside, I noticed that the landscaping squirrels have struck again. There's a hyacinth coming up under the giant cauldron. This photo is from last summer.

The job I interviewed for at Z Cuisine has been posted on Craigslist, so I suppose that means I'm not what they wanted. Whole Foods went with someone else, but is keeping my resume for some jobs that might open up soon. The catering company wants someone with a full culinary skill set, but will keep me in mind for any pastry things that come up. I was not among 'the best qualified applicants' for a federal payroll assistant job. But at least they let me know. When I start feeling dejected, I think about the people in the WIA orientation that have been out of work for months and haven't gotten even one interview. At least I know I have a part-time job starting sometime in April, probably towards the end of the month. So, as Anjelica Houston says in her role as the Evil Stepmother in Ever After : "No matter how bad things are, we must never feel sorry for ourselves. Because things can always get so much worse".

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pride & Petulance

I've entered the petulant phase of learning to live gluten-free. If I can't eat pastry, I don't want to make any. So there.
Unfortunately, I've already paid for a cake decorating class. But it's fun, and education is never a waste. Here is my little fondant covered cake. For some reason my camera objects to all shades of purple, so the ribbon looks more blue. It also looks a bit dried out, because 1) fondant mixed with gumpaste dries out very quickly even when tightly wrapped in plastic, and 2) I made the mixture on Tuesday and just got around to finishing the thing this morning. But you get the idea. The Wilton fondant is on the inexpensive end of the spectrum, and it tastes like sugary play-doh. There are better tasting fondants, but really, fondant is just an artistic medium. If it's flavor you want, go for the buttercream. By which I mean Italian, French or Swiss; not that nasty shortening based crap that Americans seem to prefer. Blechk!

After my ongoing struggles with the evil buttercream roses, this gumpaste fondant technique was a relief. Sure, it's time consuming, but the flowers are so much prettier. Delicate, fragile and most of all, flowerlike.

The next class is all royal icing flowers, which I quite like. Yes, it involves piping flowers, but royal icing is easier to work with than shortening buttercream. Tragically, that shortening based buttercream is the industry standard. I had an interview at University of Denver this week. (Do NOT want that job!) The pastry chef told me that she tried using Italian buttercream but the students won't eat it. I try not to be a food snob, but really. Preferring crisco and powdered sugar to meringue and real butter? That's just sad.

But that's not the reason I don't want them to offer me that job. The volume in that kitchen is insane, and the position is subject to seasonal layoffs. Meaning that every time the students are on break, most of the kitchen staff is too. No thanks.

Looking for a job is hard work, much harder than actually working. Several jobs I applied for but never heard from have been reposted. This hurts my pride. It reminds me of waiting to be chosen for teams in gym class or waiting to be asked to the homecoming dance. (I went to high school in the very early 80's. If it wasn't Sadie Hawkins Day, girls didn't do the asking).

I decided to take advantage of all the programs Jefferson County offers the unemployed. Which is how on Thursday afternoon I found myself sitting in what I've dubbed the 'therapy cave'. It's a small room with no windows to the outside, is dimly lit, has soft music with ocean sounds playing and has a very comfy loveseat for the client. And a candy dish full of chocolate. But most importantly, there's a wonderful therapist. I'm looking forward to the next nine weeks of working with her.

I've had to revise my opinion of government agencies over the last few weeks. Every person I've spoken with has been kind and helpful. Especially the people at the mental health service. While I didn't qualify for the free therapy (I'm not a danger to myself or others) I did qualify for a program that provides ten sessions at $5 dollars a visit. I can pay for the entire series with what's in my change jar. And did I mention that the therapist's office in in walking distance? Sweet. Next week I'll be checking into all the vocational services. Maybe I'll take advantage of the Pell Grants and go back to school. If I think of something worth going to school for....

That's the thing. I still don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life. Or even if I want a master plan for my life. I haven't had one so far, and things seem to be going okay. Not by society's standards maybe, but those standards don't fit me.

The bonfire of the novel seems to have had the desired effect; I'm back into editing, however slowly it might be going. I'm making notes for Script Frenzy and am getting the software figured out. It's really pretty cool. I may be wrong, but I think 100 pages of script is going to be much easier to do than 50,000 words. Script Frenzy starts on April Fool's Day. There may be a reason....