Something Shimmering and White*

March 23, 2018

Well. 8.5 hours and counting. To Spring Break, in case you’re wondering. I actually am not like jumping up and down, except damn, I need sleep and time to redevelop some patience for sure, although it’s been a reasonably decent week. Only a little drama. I have a lot to do over break for the first week, and then I am really looking forward to wandering out into the wilderness (well, National Park campgrounds anyway) for a week. Oh yeah, and some hot springs and a cave or two and aliens. Lotso aliens.

But first? Field trip to the zoo, one last period 8 experience (oh my), and a school play, followed by an art opening and gaming. If I survive all of that, ’twill be miraculous. Of course I’ll survive it. I survive lots of things. I’d survive some of them better with a glass of wine or a donut, but that’s a mental thing.

So yesterday, I had to wrangle presentations and science units out of all my kids, then drove across town to drop off art, then back through traffic. And then I graded. Because I really really really want some of it out of the way before I go on break. I got one assignment done last night…one more thing I don’t have to worry about over break. I’m down to 6, maybe 7 assignments. Two are large and painful, so I’ll do them first. I might actually get partway through some of it today during the one class I have to keep, but probably not, because I also have to clean my room for the break…they clean our floors, so everything has to be put away and off the floors. It’s actually pretty clean at the moment (I have no idea why), so it shouldn’t take much time.

And then I have 16 days off, oh bless me. I should have a quilt done by the end of next week. And then, honestly, I’m not sure what I’m working on next. There are two or three smaller quilts in the works already, but I also have some deadlines coming up, so I have to start looking at those. Next week I will have free brain time! Isn’t that nice…not having to worry about lesson plans and meetings and kids and all that.

Plus dogs!

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While I was grading…what’s funny is I actually say this in class sometimes to force them to explain stuff without giving them the answer.

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And then I started cutting pieces out…I actually had done some already, but this was the second installment…with furry bits.

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Top left to be cut out. Top right tiny pile of what I did in almost three hours. Seriously. It never looks like much. Bottom pile trash. There’s a woman who wants my trash. I’m going to get this quilt put together and then mail her a bag of the tiny leftovers.

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Wish us all luck. I actually love field trips when I don’t have to plan them…when I just show up and do the things. I have a group of geek boys and awkward sporty types and a few I don’t even know. It’s cool. We’ll go check out baboons and lemurs and who knows what else…grab some food. Freeze to death apparently. Although it’s not raining at the moment. And then take some time off to find my head for the last 48 days of school.

*The Church, Under the Milky Way


The Dew Will Settle on Our Graves*

February 21, 2018

‘Tis chilly here in sunny San Diego…some random cold front making it colder than Ithaca, NY, where the boychild is, but probably just for today. I’m pretty sure that will change soon enough. Cold enough to make me a dog sandwich on the couch, a cat sandwich in bed, though. Amazing how close they’ll get when it’s really chilly.

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Yes, I actually cut stuff out with the two of them like that. It wasn’t easy. I’m used to one box on either side of me and one on my lap. Instead the boxes were precariously perched on either side of dogs who move erratically.

Earlier, I graded…because that’s all I ever do…and this one was already half in my spot. She didn’t move until bedtime.

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It was a frustrating day at school. Independent thinking is probably not best achieved on the first day back after a three-day weekend. I still remember what happened Friday, but not so my little chickadees. And even once I got them through a review, then I wanted them to come up with categories. Oh My Goodness. You’d think I had asked them to cure cancer. In my top class, chock full of honors students, I got one table with three categories: True, False, and IDK. Um. Ladies. They’re all true. LAME. It’s OK…today they will have to use what they did to make more sense of the world. I’m just damn cruel that way.

So yeah, I graded because grades are due soon and I know I will run out of time. I always do.

But I also was done with grading and dinner and all that dishery (I even cleaned a bathroom…just one and not the floor) around 9:30 PM or so and I did a few drawings in between cutting out the last of the pieces.

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I like this one better…of course…because it’s weirder.

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I did about 2 hours of trimming last night to finish up everything…with a total of 9 1/2 hours into the process. Box on top is the trash. I’m putting it in a ziplock bag with the trimmings from the LAST quilt and mailing them to someone whose address I saved (seriously, I did…). Box on the bottom will get sorted into bins tonight for ironing probably tomorrow night.

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I have book club tonight, so I will go out and socialize with my tribe. Plus I read the book. So that’s a plus.

Girlchild has some access to Messenger this week, although she is back to camping in the wilds of Madagascar. On the beach. Near a hotel. Where no one likes to go.

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It looks somewhat like my Spring Break trip to the redwoods last year…except the trees are smaller.

She’s really enjoying this. I’m really glad.

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They seem to take care of the kids…unlike my group when I went abroad in college, which flew me to London and kept me there for about 3 days, but then sent me off to the wilds of Aberystwyth with zero support…although I think they gave us Thanksgiving dinner…that’s something. I guess we were less likely to die of a nasty disease in Wales. And they apparently spoke English there, although some days that was questionable.

Anyway, today I throw cellular respiration into the mix. That should make smoothies of my students’ brains. It’s OK…they’ll survive. I might not.

*Tom Waits, All the World Is Green

It Shines Like Destruction*

February 20, 2018

It’s interesting how I can get most of my to-do tasks done, except the cleaning ones. Those just suck and I suck at doing them. I just can’t get motivated to clean the kitchen floor. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t throw parties…I’d have to clean floors for that. I did clean the kitchen counters last night…and the stove, so I guess it’s not hopeless. I just reach an ending point on cleaning, and it’s never when everything is clean. I’d rather draw or something…anything else.

The project videos are done. It’s a miracle. I have plenty of other crap to grade, of course, but those are out of my hair. Next week, I get all of Unit 4, which will have to be graded in 6 days. And people wonder why I’m not going to a bunch of social stuff on the weekends. I did about 12 hours of grading this weekend, maybe more. Ugh.

No more 3-day weekends, which help with balance. Five weeks until Spring Break though. I can do that.

Sometimes school seems really heavy and hard. It’s usually right about now.

So add on hikes and art and whatever else makes the head rise above the slog…because I still have to go back every day and teach difficult subjects to kids who don’t necessarily want to learn. Labs help to keep them engaged, but it’s nothing if they don’t get understanding out of the labs…so we’ll see how that goes.

But yes, we walked the puppy yesterday…he needs exercise, and so do we…

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It was a gorgeous but chilly day. Good day for a hike.

Then I came back and finished up as much of my to-do list as I could…and in between cutting out pieces of the new quilt, I did some smaller drawings that could be quilts…

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I don’t really like all of them. And I have absolutely no time to make them, even more importantly.

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I realized last night that I have five openings in the next month…two in Los Angeles. It’s gonna get a little crazy around here.

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And grades are due for Trimester 2. I like this one…

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I needed those breaks, because I trimmed pieces for about 4 1/2 hours yesterday. My hands get tight…

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But I don’t think you can tell from here (trash top, to-be-cut in the middle, cut in the bottom)…I’m almost done. Like maybe an hour or two from finishing…with about 7 hours in. So that’s cool. It means I should be ironing together this week. My favorite part…where the image finally starts to appear (besides in my head). I hit the halfway mark on most quilts (on time) some time around finishing the trimming and starting the ironing. Although I need to be faster on this half, for sure. Keeping that in mind.

Meanwhile, back to school today, hammering the photosynthesis chemical reaction (which hopefully they’re getting by now), so I can throw cellular respiration at them next. Then tonight, I can cut out the rest of the pieces hopefully…

*Eurythmics, Love Is a Stranger

Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night*

February 19, 2018

I’m sitting in here, in my studio/office, listening to the rhythmic sounds of the septic pumper truck outside my window…once every 4 years, whether you need it or not? I don’t like waiting until there is a problem. Last time, we had to replace the whole septic field, so that was fun. Anyway, it means I’m trapped here for a bit (ironic that, because honestly, on the average weekend, I don’t leave the house much anyway, except for crazy errands etc. and the occasional meal). I have a bunch of schoolwork to do still, even after 4 hours yesterday of grading another period of project videos, plus 62 emails of makeup work. Done! All of it! Well, I still have more to do. It’s never-ending.

While I was working yesterday, Satchemo came in and investigated one of the cat hiding places in my office…this one will disappear in my remodeling plan, unfortunately for the cats.

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Then I headed out for the deck, because yesterday still bordered on warm enough (today is not…unless you live back east and you’re used to much colder than this.). Simba agreed and laid out on the deck with me…

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I tried another version of the drawing…

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And got somewhere this time…a much better start. Still needs more, and yes, I had to break out the liquid paper, because the lines weren’t going where I wanted them to go. It happens.

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Although now I’m annoyed that both figures are turned the same way. There’s a third figure that I think will fix that, and then I’ll draw off the bottom as well. I think it’ll be fine. If not, I’ll flip the skelly.

Back to the studio, where Kitten has picked her new sitting spot…

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Yes, Kitten, that IS why I put the fabric in those boxes.

Somewhere in there is when I graded for 4 hours. It was quiet and frustrating and I had to get up and stomp around the house a few times and hallelujah I’m almost done with that.

I had enlarged the drawing I did last week…200%. I didn’t want something too big. There’s a deadline I honestly don’t know if I can make. But here it’s taped together…

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And then I numbered it…hey…not too bad.

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There’s some tiny stuff, but not too much of it.

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And then I cut stuff out on the scoliosis for a few more hours. It’s slow…but it’s going…

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Time for art, time for work. Today is similarly planned…one last class of project videos, plus finishing up another assignment and inputting some of those grades, so kids can be happy or despondent. Seriously they should already know which based on what they did or didn’t turn in, but apparently that level of self-review is not fully developed yet. I think they hope for magic sometimes. I mean, sure, I blew off the video and half the pages are blank, but maybe she won’t notice?

I noticed. Anyway. It is what it is. Trimester 2 is notoriously bad for our kids. The number of holidays? Spring messing with their hormones? It’s hard to say.

With that, I am hoping the pump-truck guys are near to done so I can get my own shit done (ha ha…see how I did that? Shit? Yeah. OK.). Art, work, food, sleep. I want a dog walk today too. I bet the dog would go along with that.

*Sarah McLachlan, Blackbird (yeah, the Beatles song)

I Am Superman and I Can Do Anything*

February 18, 2018

Well I finally managed drawing on the deck on a sunny day. As opposed to drawing on the deck on a rainy day? That would actually be harder to do with the weather we have. I’m going to try again today, because it was nice. Duh. Of course it was nice.

If you are back East or anywhere else it’s snowing, I’m sorry. You’re thinking, seriously Nida? Why CAN’T you get your butt outside on a gorgeous day and soak in some of this obviously Southern California (those aren’t my palm trees) wondrousness?

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And the answer is, I don’t know. I have my weekly journal there, my sketchbook, a pile of art proposals that are coming up, the inevitable cup of tea? Perfect. Enough sun to warm my feet…bare feet. Yup. In February.

So I did this and rejected it…although there are things that might pop up elsewhere.

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Sometimes I just have to move the pen around on paper until better ideas pop in.

So I started another one, which might stick. It has some issues.

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That lower hand, for instance. I know where I’m going with this though, so it wouldn’t hurt to either start again or enlarge this and cut that crappy hand out and do another one. I think this might work.

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In the middle of all this drawing, I sold a quilt…a small one, but that’s money. That’s the grocery money this week and next. That’s a cushion I didn’t have when I wrote my post yesterday morning. That’s a deep breath.

I appreciate that. So that quilt will be winging its way (ha! It’s a bird) to Colorado on Tuesday. If the post office stays open late enough and I can book out of tutoring on time.

Then I came inside and graded more projects and videos. This was my second smallest class. I was going to do both the small classes at once, but after I got through this period and an entire video of one of the kids in the class yelling out “My ass itches” while the kid doing the video tried to keep it together (oh man, that other kid is in BIG TROUBLE on Tuesday…), I couldn’t bring myself to do another 16 of them.

Plus Kitten was being a pain in the butt. That tail was flicking at me the whole time.

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Two periods left to do. I’m doing the big one today. I might need mental assistance afterwards, but it will be done.

Then I started cutting tiny bone pieces out…

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After dinner out and a visit to a local brewery, we came back and I tried to video chat with the girlchild. Apparently they could hear everything I said, but she sounded like she was in a metal drum and syncopated. SIGH. It’s OK. I saw she was alive…good thing, because she leaves tomorrow for 5 days. It’s OK. I’m doing fine. Sometimes I get sad and miss my kids, and that’s OK. It would be weird if I didn’t.

So then after that, I cut more pieces out. The top one is the trash, the middle one is actual quilt pieces, and the bottom is what still needs cutting…which is a lot.

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But a lot of that is big pieces…all the details were on top, mostly, the last stuff I ironed down.

Girlchild did finally gt a picture of herself in the beach paradise of Antalaha, where she’s based for a lot of her stay…

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Look! She’s alive! And also barefoot in the sun (huh…well…genetics). We should maybe feel sorry for the boychild for being in New York right now in the snow and cold (or not…he chose that).

Today? I’m going to sit outside again. Really. I am. And I’m going to torture myself with more project videos. And I’m going to cut more things out. Really, just like yesterday, minus dinner out. And it’s Sunday. Which means I need to send the parent email for school. But otherwise, I have tomorrow off as well? So I can kinda be relaxed and sort of pretend my job doesn’t inhabit my entire life today, yeah? Maybe? Gonna try.

*R.E.M., Superman

Walking Dogs

January 1, 2018

Hello 2018! I’m already 17 pages into a (it was blank) notebook for the new year…trying to be organized and mindful and all that stuff that we always start with and lose track of about 30 days in. Seriously. I’m not doing the dishes today because I cooked the last two meals. I’ll be walking the dogs later because dogs. Yeah. The boychild left this morning to camp in the middle of nowhere by himself, because he’d rather do that than go out to dinner for his birthday. Well. OK. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but he must have needed it. Hopefully he is safe and relatively warm. I will worry about him the whole time, because I gave birth to him and so I have a permanent umbilical cord attached to him (oh crap, a drawing idea just popped into my head). Both of them really. Plus he has my car. He goes back to college in a few weeks and then graduates and moves back home to do who-knows-what and the girlchild is off to Madagascar in three weeks, where I will alternately worry my ass off about her and be completely and totally jealous. Yeah. Well.

In totally awesome news, I’m starting a commissioned piece today and am really looking forward to trying to make something cool for her. I have two weeks to come up with a drawing…there’s stuff floating around inside my head that needs to coalesce and flow down through the pen onto paper. I’ve pushed off a lot of the other deadlines I might look at right now because last year was SO MUCH deadlining that I can’t handle that any more. This is good though…there’s a few things that need to go in the drawing, but they’re easy. I’m excited to finally start this!

And then I have three smaller quilts I want to make sometime this year, drawings I did last year that really speak to me. Plus there are two shows coming up in the fall that I want to make work for, but that’s a long way out and I don’t need to worry about it right now. So I guess that’s my plan for the year…simple, right? Ha! You know as well as I do that a whole bunch of new stuff will try to insert itself into that plan. It’s OK…I’m used to that.

I do like to do a little picture of all the quilts from the just-finished year, so here’s that…


Eight quilts this year…from top left to right: I Can’t Be Your Superwoman, Some Like It Hot, MomSleep (revised from 2016), We Won’t Go Back, You Pollute Me, Rooted in America, The Government Made Me Do It, and last, but not least, Not Less Than. May there be an equivalent number in 2018.

If you’re waiting on my holiday cards, they’re going out tomorrow. I had to print more and the ink is being cranky about drying.

So here’s the boychild testing out Grandpa’s tent in my living room. He doesn’t usually use a tent, but he also usually doesn’t have a car…so he took firewood and a cookstove and an ice chest even. Very exciting for him, I think. It’s almost glamping compared to what he normally does.

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I’ll go buy cake supplies and make him a birthday cake, even though he won’t be here for the day. The kid likes cake. If he’d given me any warning that he was gonna do this, I would’ve made cupcakes and sent some with him. I had no warning…literally the afternoon before he left, he posited that he would do this and he would need my car and would I let him steal it. And sure, I could have said no, but I don’t actually need it until Wednesday (we have a spare car here that I can arm wrestle the girlchild for), and he is obviously trying to separate from the family unit…which must be hard when you know you have few documented job skills and very little money. I was lucky not to have to move back home (much) after college. It’ll take him a while to get out, I think.

Meanwhile, the girlchild is still recovering from the last semester and detoxing from caffeine overload.

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This requires a lot of sleeping and quinoa. And videos of dogs.

I finished the 365th day on this. Done. It was an interesting experiment. I think I’m going to go ahead and piece it into a small crazy quilt and then work on that this year, but I have a couple other things that need to happen first…

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All black fabrics, I’m thinking…and then a bunch of embroidery. But less than in the center. Maybe really small blocks? Maybe small crazy-pieced blocks with narrow bits and a larger center bit for a motif. I’m freaking out because I’m totally seeing a face on the right side…with that wave curve as the nose. There are three eyeballs in this thing. And a hand. It’s not the most normal thing in the world. Shockingly.

Then I finished cutting out the little quilt that’s been in process since June. I’m probably going to try to iron it together over the next couple of days. It’s easy enough to do.

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When I look at what uses up the most brainpower when I’m making art, it’s the drawing and the choosing of fabrics that’s the hardest…this is just putting together what already came together in my head. So I’ll draw, sure, but I’ll do this in the moments in between. Because I go back to school in a week. And I should have some artmaking time in there. It’s harder to do once I go back. Vacation should have the stuff you really like to do. It’s true that Winter and Spring breaks rarely have much of that, but that’s just because being a teacher takes up too much life time in the beginning. I can say all I like that I’m going to balance it all better, but if I put off something for school, it all starts to pile up, and then I find myself buried again.

Let’s not think about that today, the first day of the new year. Let’s go walk some dogs and draw some stuff and iron something together and maybe watch some bad television while grading the last of that hellish project. Yup. Gonna do that.

Things Will Happen Today

December 30, 2017

My feet are cold. It’s going to be in the 80s again today, but my feet get cold and I have to wear shorts and big fluffy socks all at the same time. This weirdo winter weather in Southern California…40s at night and 80s during the day. I know, I could be back East and freezing all my parts and not just my feet. I got that. Some rain would be nice here.

I didn’t get a whole lot of useful stuff done yesterday, except for some minor purging on the kitchen counters, which is a good thing (boychild is useful for that stuff). We threw out a bunch of old pens that were dead and bagged up the rest of the pens and pencils for school. Found the address I’d been looking for and had finally emailed someone to get. Of course. Organized the boxes of sundry kitchen items that pile up because I forget I’ve already bought them. Put all my Christmas gifts away. Today I will put away Christmas stuff, I think. Maybe. In between a raptor thing (cool!) and watching that band play (another episode of Draws in Bars! By the beach! But it will be cold, because it will be dark. So I will wear socks.). I wrote a commission contract and asked my dad to look at it, because I am not a lawyer and he is.

Artwise, I didn’t do much either. I did get my slowly flattening tire fixed, but not the tire sensor. It’s annoying that they are so expensive. Obviously the tire place has not seen the last two Visa bills. They are heart-stoppening. Not a word, I know.

Walked the dogs…a good solid three miles in the full heat of the afternoon. It felt hot but good.

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The dogs were tired.

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I needed to get out and walk off some of the irritation building up. I’m kind of irritated by all these studies going on in the wildlife preserve, but if I hike far enough out, they’re gone.

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So I do that.

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Tired dogs…I said that. But they were.

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We had gaming at night. My character didn’t do much. Moved from one side of the temple to another. Dodged a flaming thing. Or a horror. Not sure which.

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Block 20 is almost done…just need to finish the sheep.

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Exciting stuff. Came home and cut out pieces. When boychild wants to go to bed, he brings me the puppy, who is fast asleep. Snuggles him up against me, where he continues to sleep.

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I cut out a bunch, but there’s a shitload of tiny little pieces in there…overlapping tree parts. This crazy thing I drew. So I’m not done. But there’s not much left to do…

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Next week starts to be full of school stuff. No, I still haven’t finished grading that thing. Ugh. I piled it up on the couch and I look at it and feel guilty. Too many little details of shit to get done in the next week. I guess it’s good I took some brainless days in there.

I finished another book, A Closed and Common Orbit, the second in a series by Becky Chambers. The first book, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, was good, but I thought this one was even better…all about AI trying to exist in our world when they aren’t allowed to do certain things. Very cool story. You don’t have to read the first one to get the second one…they are the same world. It would help with understanding, but it’s not crucial to the story. There’s a third book coming out in April.

Calli is better at brainless than I am. I was trying to get her off the couch to come to bed.

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It took some persuading. OK. Gotta get ready to go falconing. Or something. I’m gonna need sunscreen…in December. I got sunburned yesterday. Duh. I never remember in the winter. Anyway, things will happen today. Not much will get done, I predict, but things will happen. Typical Saturday.