The Sun’s Zooming in*

November 6, 2018

Go vote. Now. Unless you’re like me and you already did…dropped the ballot envelope off at the library on Sunday. Everyone associated with my house has voted now. Good stuff. May the force be with us.

I’m at home. Grades are done, unless those two girls with non-working websites email me before I leave for the ultrasound. I did in fact get up early to eat and drink stuff before the deadline. We’ll see if it helps. I then tried to go back to sleep, but no. Dogs. Cats. Brain awake. So much for sleeping in. I suck at it.

I do still have grading to do…it never ends. I have to write sub plans for the days I’ll be in Boston. But what I really want to do, besides walk the dogs, is finish ironing.

I started late again last night, mostly because of grading. Ready to pick out flesh…I went through all 6 boxes of pink and finally found the right transition between 4 and 6 in the last bin.

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I laid out all the fleshy pieces…

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And I started ironing them down. It’s a weird puzzle I do…

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How do I save the most fabric but fit all the pieces on there? Like that.

It was after midnight and I looked at the clock and thought, ugh. Gonna have to be up early. So I left the last two fabrics for this morning.

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The box is getting fuller.

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So that puts me in the 600s, but I have all the innards and hair to do. Mostly bones and cardiovascular stuff. So that’s also this morning. Or afternoon.

This was yesterday in class…

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We’re piloting a new unit and it’s difficult. Mostly because I don’t have access to all the electronic stuff, and then my kids don’t either, plus I keep getting myself absent, and this curriculum is not at all friendly to guest teachers. Or to taking a rest from talking, for that matter. Lots of direct instruction.

Anyway. I’m going to shower and NOT eat or drink anything for a while and then go get this thing done so they can show me a picture of the alien in my gut. And then work and iron and all that stuff.

*The Clash, London Calling

I’m Useless but Not for Long*

October 27, 2018

I woke up this morning, having slept through lots of noises and daylight arriving and I feel like I didn’t move all night, I was so tired, I must have been like a block of sleepy concrete that weighed down the bed and refused to let pillows and blankets move, until the first dog whined, and then it was awake time.

Quilts=Art=Quilts opens today and I have a piece in it…this is You Pollute Me

It’s actually not a very big piece…just long.

I’m grading Unit 2…lots of them. I didn’t actually bring them home, because I have three days next week, maybe four, when the kids are supposed to be working on stuff independently (ha!), so I should be able to grade them in time at school. That’s my goal anyway.

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We’ll see what reality looks like, won’t we.

Last night was tiring. But I got the field trip permission slips all trimmed, checked, and double-checked, so I know who’s going and who’s not. I started a spreadsheet for the chaperones as well…and I did seating charts for Monday for the project week, which will drive me nuts, but they do have work to do, so hopefully they won’t be total assholes about being with their friend. I’m always boggled by certain groups…when a fairly high-level girl agrees to work with a boy who does NOTHING. Sigh. Oh well. They don’t always get to pick their groups, so I guess I’ll balance it out. Put all the lazy non-workers together next time.

But the dogs last night…this was after I came back from watching the band play. Calli heard fireworks before I left and it was still upsetting her. The other two just wanted closeness, I guess.

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That’s Calli’s nervous face. At this point, the fireworks happened three hours ago, but she was still panting and breathing hard about it…

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And here she is with her head on my leg. Yes, I petted her lots. I told her she was a good girl and it was OK. It just doesn’t seem to help any more. Oh yeah, and here I am cutting out yard 4 of Wonder Under…

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Four yards in, one to go…

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Hopefully that gets done today…along with the humongous pile of other things that need doing, which are giving me palpitations at the moment: grade one assignment, start looking at the next unit which we’ve never taught before because I’m going to be gone for two days in the beginning of it so I have to leave something they can actually do with a guest teacher, plus find and sew on D-rings for a quilt that has to be delivered next week, and do another blogpost for the fiber art group I’m in, plus laundry and deal with compost bins and vacuuming and cleaning floors and groceries and cleaning up in here so I can start ironing, because if I don’t start ironing soon I’m not going to get this quilt done in time.

Deep breath. Maybe more than one. I’m overwhelmed. I know that. What my brain and body really need is a 7-mile hike today. And I’m not going to get that.

So I did go watch the man play disco, of all things, last night. Not their genre. And I drew this…

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Definitely influenced by the music. I’ve been to this venue, crashing this same party, at least three years in a row, and I recognize the wait staff and one of them waved at me. I’m amused. Anyway. There’s art. I did do art. I did school. I slept. I’m going to make a list and conquer its ass. And then hopefully get some down time. Get out of the house time. Maybe some exercise. Definitely dinner out with that guy I’m barely going to see in the first two weeks of November. Yeah. That.

*Gorillaz, Clint Eastwood

I Feel the Chemicals Kickin’ in*

October 17, 2018

I left school yesterday and went to an art opening instead of straight home. It was a good choice, even though I’d walked so much during class, dragging trays of sand and water back and forth from the classroom like some sort of crazy piece of construction equipment (couldn’t the robotics class make me something that would do this?). And tutoring where this one girl I was trying to help with the most confusing math website ever, and I would ask her questions and she would say “No English” but she knew enough to tell me she speaks Pashto. OK. I can’t do that. I tried German and Spanish and she looked sadder and sadder, and I stared at the math website, trying to figure out what it wanted, but it made no freakin’ sense. Teacher fail.

Today is another, different lab, this one with crayons and hot water (could be a mistake…nah, it worked pretty well last year). We’re frantically trying to plan the project that starts next week. I feel buried and overwhelmed. Still. Ugh.

So the art opening was at Grossmont College and is up until Oct 26, and includes two artists I like, Cheryl Tall, whose piece here is Casa de Manos

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I never made it back into the room with her work to take more pictures…you’ll have to go check it out. Very impressive.

And then Gloria Muriel…whose mural art has been on here before. But this is a tiny little watercolor drawing. This is Deer Memory.

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A much larger piece, Woke Up From a Mayan Dream

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And Florentina, which is smallish and beautiful.

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Despite my exhaustion, it was a good stop to make. Home to an empty house (well, there were cats and Katie)…I graded stuff for a while. And then started numbering this thing. I took a break in the middle to check in with the musical guy who lives here (he eventually showed up after practice)…but then finished up before bed. I wanted to be under 1000 pieces, just for my own sanity (there is a deadline on this thing), and I was.

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991 pieces. Unless I fucked up somewhere and double-numbered something or skipped a whole bunch or just didn’t number it…all of which I do on a regular basis, so I don’t know why I set such importance on that number. But 991 pieces it is. It sounds more doable than 1001. Just barely. It’s a place from which I can estimate time.

I’m also hoping that I numbered it more logically than usual. I did all of the background and then the body and then the swirls of water. It will be interesting to see how that works out.

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I did try not to overembellish things…keep it simple. Well, for me. I didn’t need to put all the lines in the turtle. I didn’t need to put more lines in the hillside. A bush can be just one color. I can simplify flowers. Then I do the deer’s eyes and that all goes to hell in a handbasket.

She’s not huge…about 38″ wide by 60″ high? Something like that.

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Anyway, I can start tracing Wonder Under tonight. Then there’s probably 10-12 hours of tracing to do. Maybe by the end of the weekend? Hard to say. Depends on the next few days…

Oh yeah, I got my staff ID yesterday. Mine is better than yours.

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Really the best part is when I have to use it to get a teacher discount and I pull this out (or any of the last three) and the cashier tries not to show their hilarious dismay. Yup. That’s the best part.

OK, let’s do this day.

*Neon Trees, Animal

I Think I Need a Sunrise*

October 16, 2018

Rough lab day yesterday. Apparently reading instructions is not required. I guess I didn’t make that part clear enough. Don’t worry. I will today. Lab skills in the hands of 12-year-olds. Plus mud and water and knowing what NOT to put down the sink. Back to the mantra of “If Nida didn’t tell you to do it, then don’t do it!” It’ll be fine. Sometimes 7th graders are the most frustrating creatures on the planet…and sometimes they are awesome. Today maybe we’ll hit awesome. I can hope.

Staff meeting after that…I draw to occupy my brain.

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Seriously, if I’m really tired, this keeps me awake. If the meeting is stressful, this keeps my brain at an even keel. Works for me. Mindfulness and a Sharpie.

Then science meeting after that. Racing home to find enough daylight for this walk with the furry beasts. They need it. I need it. I don’t know if the boychild needs it.

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But he comes along anyway.

We pass a new vineyard in the neighborhood.

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And he finds this skull.

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Pretty sure it’s a raccoon…no lower jaw, missing some teeth, definitely an omnivore. Yes, I carried it home and washed it out, and now will take it to school. Even though I don’t really teach biology anymore. It’s still cool. Maybe someday I’ll unearth that skunk skelly I have down by the garage.

Dinner was already in the crockpot (that I had to buy yesterday), so that was easy. Oh yeah, I did that. After dinner and all that, I started drawing…and then this happened. Katie is needy. And bitey.

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She misses her real parents. We mostly suck because we don’t give her cheese and we don’t walk her twice a day. Like they do. Maybe they will come back for her some day (don’t worry…she sounds pitiful, but my parents will return eventually and continue to feed her all the cheeses).

OK, so I added a faucet and some overfishing and a Humboldt squid, because apparently the squid are totally happy with warming oceans, plus some oil drums and spillage.

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Leading into ocean acidification and bleached coral and the requisite dead fish.

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Then I finished the waterway and the hill…trying to keep it simple…for some definition of simple.

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But then debated and put sky behind the bird, because I was thinking about how to make things pop and knew dark background would be an issue for that bird and the water below, so now I have an option to work with that.

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It’s done. I actually finished around 11:10 PM, and thought about starting the numbering, but I was tired of standing at that point, so numbering will be tonight. I’m a little scared of how bad it will be, but whatever. It’s done now. If I don’t finish it for the deadline, I’ll still finish it and it will still be awesome.

OK, gotta be at school early to let kids measure stuff on their test makeups. I’m hoping they behave well enough that I can get some other stuff done at the same time, instead of starting the day playing babysitter. We’ll see.

*Augustana, Boston

How We Will Run, We Will…*

October 15, 2018

You know, when you plan to cook a meal with your slow cooker and then you forget that you broke it back in June when you were carrying it back from school, where it had pancake batter or something else in it, and you never replaced it, because you didn’t want to pay for shipping, but you never actually wrote it on any to-do list anywhere to go somewhere and buy one, which pretty much guarantees it will never get done, well then you will have to drive BACK to the hellish mall where you just were to go grocery shopping so you can buy one. You will also have to stand in line behind someone who doesn’t realize you’re holding a huge box because you couldn’t be bothered with a cart and she’ll just be hanging out on the thingie (I’m sure it has a name CONVEYOR BELT…that only took 20 minutes to come to me; I’m just not remembering it right now) where you put the stuff you want to buy until her husband tells her what a dick she’s being. I’m often confused by how unaware people are of those around them…physically and otherwise.

We have a new slow cooker. It’s fancy…has 4 levels of cooking instead of 2…and a nice lid that snaps on. The previous one lasted longer than my marriage, much longer, so that’s a good thing.

In incredibly sad news, Paul did die yesterday as a result of his injuries. His wife was my co-teacher in science a few years back. She has three small children and his income was all they had. I’m posting the GoFundMe again here, as she will need all the help she can get. She’s a quilter, although more traditional (a batik fiend, though), and I have used some of her scraps in my own quilts. I think she introduced me to my first real-live game of Cards Against Humanity, so there’s that.

Yesterday was full of work and busyness. I did catch up on a lot of school things, but I still feel buried. I guess I should become one with that feeling. After 16 years, you’d think it would be easy. But no, there’s a constant sense of panic and Oh Shit going through my head. I don’t know if that ever goes away.

As part of grading…

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Yes I corrected his spelling. After snorting tea out my nose. Of course cock faults. Sigh.


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Kitten has a slightly new hiding place. Not as far in the hole as she usually is.

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I didn’t get to start drawing until after 9 PM, as always. I added a rosy boa in the bottom right.

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And then went into the water’s edge on the left…Great blue heron, California least tern, crap I don’t remember the last one…

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Western snowy plover. The plants are harder to do without a million pieces.

I sketched in the last water plume up above…it comes from her head and down into that empty space. That’s for tonight.

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That and finish the hill/sand, and I’ll be done. My notebook has lists of plants and animals for each ecosystem area. This is more realistic than I usually do. Hopefully it will turn out well. I’m hoping to finish drawing tonight and maybe start numbering. I need to get it all traced this week. I think. All I can really think about right now is a nap though. Not a good sign.

*Rusted Root, Send Me on My Way

Unless This Music’s Thumping*

October 14, 2018

First of all, I have a friend whose husband was in an accident and is currently in a coma. She’s young, three kids, the youngest is still a nursing babe in arms. If you are so inclined, she’s going to need financial help no matter what happens…just to keep her head above water for a bit. The GoFundMe is linked here. She was my partner in teaching science a few years back…I know how amazingly strong and creative she is, but I also know how devastating this is for her. Please help if you can. If you’re one of my quilting friends…a chunk of fabric came from her before she moved to Morocco for a while a couple years ago…in fact, this piece, By All Means, is entirely made from her fabrics and some of her rejected blocks for a show about recycling materials.

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Because I don’t piece stuff. And I get a lot of pieces of fabric from people who are getting rid of stuff. Anyway, it’s hard to know how to help in this situation, and I’m not a prayer person…I’m just sending telepathic bolts of Get Better Dammit toward Paul…but know that what she really needs is money right now. And a miracle, if you believe in those.

Anyway. Sigh. Bad things happening to good people.

Friday night, I went to my stitching meeting, but drove back through a lightning storm, arriving home to a bunch of frantic dogs…well, really only one who was truly frantic. This was around 11 PM, when most everyone was sleeping (one cat, three dogs), except for Calli, who was still trying to dig through the floor to get to a non-thunder place.

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She kept going until around 1:30 AM…ugh. This one just barked at it, but was unperturbed. He barks at everything.

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I didn’t get much done on this at the meeting…just butterfly bullion knots. First I did the sleeves on the quilt that needed to go to the photographer.

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I tried one of her mom’s shirts on Calli…I don’t know if it helped…but this was a calmer moment than the ones before.

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I had a ton to get done Friday night, but mostly I held the dog.

Oh yeah, I’m fascinated by these moons. I keep buying them. I don’t know what I want to do with them. You can find them here. I figure I will make a fabric home for them at some point…

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Anyway, so I got nothing done Friday night. At some point, I remembered that I had planned on some hand embroidery on this one…the one that was due to the photographer at noon. Now could I have emailed him and asked for more time? Of course…but I didn’t. Because I need to get going on the other one. I got up and started stitching.

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I had about an hour and a bit…and I used every minute of it…

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Nothing fancy…just added texture and color.

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I like doing this. I should do more.

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That requires me to finish quilts earlier than deadlines though so I can spend time doing that.

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Anyway, it’s at the photographer. I ran some errands, and was home for about 25 minutes, long enough to eat lunch…then off to the first opening of the day…

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This is at the Boehm Gallery at Palomar College. You can see my two quilts hanging on the back wall.

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It’s a very cool show with lots of interesting work. Below is Kathleen Mitchell’s glass piece Rough Childhood. Mammogram is the quilt on the left; Part-Time Oasis is on the right.

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These two bird women by Maria de Castro are beautiful. Hoopooe on the right, Hawaiian Neme Goose on the left.

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Then Cheryl Tall’s piece O Happy Days in front of my quilts…

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There were many more pieces in the show…it’s up until November 8, I believe.

Meanwhile, the girlchild is still playing soccer, in case you were wondering…but I only see bits and pieces of it online.


I was grading stuff at that point, finishing that heinous assignment that’s been plaguing me for weeks. It’s done! Then I got an email about parking that reminded me that I had signed up to see an exhibit at Sparks Gallery Saturday night, since I knew the man was playing in yet another show that I couldn’t crash (guest list only)…so I drove downtown to this beautiful sunset.

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The show was a fundraiser for Space4Art, which has a new property and is trying to get money to build an affordable space for artists to show and live where gentrification won’t kick us out. What a concept, San Diego…instead of closing them all down or turning them into million-dollar condos.

I really liked this piece, Untitled (Anti-Analogy) by Tml Dunn.

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And of course, my friend Linda Litteral’s huge long work from her Meditations series displayed in the window…

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Now if I’d had more energy or drive, I would have driven down to Bread and Salt for the Latin American festival of art…it looked awesome. But I knew I needed to draw. So I came back and inked the stuff I’d penciled in on Thursday night…

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Still working on this section…added some more stuff in here…

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Took some brain breaks to hang out with Kitten, who ventured out because the dogs are at me ex’s house with the boychild…

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She helped me draw (not)…

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Still more work up here…although I headed down to the legs first.

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Not done with those…and so I have more nature stuff to go in the bottom and to the left, and then to decide what to do with the upper right. We’ll see. I put in about 2 hours of drawing with a lot of sitting around being tired. Two nights running I’ve gone to sleep horrendously late…not by choice, but that’s just the way it was. This week will be interesting. I’m taking one day off to help with something…so maybe I’ll get caught up on some work in between that. But I also need to finish the drawing and get going on this quilt.

But first, groceries and parent email for school and shower and probably not in that order. And I’m hungry.

*Cake, Love You Madly

Seen It in the Wild

October 12, 2018

Well when you email the photographer about taking pictures of the quilt, that makes you finish sewing the sleeves on, right? Except I haven’t. It’s OK…I’ll get them done tonight. My stitching meeting is tonight, plus I don’t have to grade. Well, I always have to grade, but it’s not entirely required. I should have nights off, right? I graded last night…I’m trying to get through these essays, short ones, that I thought we had set up with such an obvious formula…but as always, listening to and reading instructions are skills that even adults don’t necessarily value. There are times to think outside the box, but that doesn’t mean you can make up what happened in a science lab. Aliens! It’s always the aliens. Um. Not always.

I’m up early for a parent meeting. Fun stuff those…but if it results in that kid behaving more like he’s capable of and less like a small child, I am OK with that. Parents forget that middle-school and high-school kids sometimes still need guidance and redirection. Or they just don’t know what to do with them. I guess I was lucky…mine kinda figured it out. Don’t be a dumbass. Mom will be pissed.

So after grading and dinner and some spacing out last night, I stood and stared at the big blank spaces of the drawing. I thought about what I was trying to say…about what was important and why. And I started sketching some stuff. And because it’s sketching, it’s super light and really hard to see. OK, yeah, like in this picture, you can’t really see anything. But know that I’m filling in this space with a mountain and plants and animals…

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And as I was going to bed, I was thinking over and over, a ribbon runs through it. I’m not sure how that will play out in real life, but somehow I need to connect her to the landscape or maybe put her more solidly In the landscape. The arm is there, the legs…I’ll have to decide how that will look.

A coyote…some burned-out trees. My Cuyamaca Mountains…

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A bobcat…I’ve only seen one in the wild…and it was while I was driving at 75 mph. It was alive. Manzanita and poison oak. I’ve seen them a lot in the wild….

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California mule deer…more trees…

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And right before bed, when I started to ink some of it. Gotta remember not to go tiny (um. might be too late for that).

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So more of that tomorrow. Maybe tonight. Figure my drawing out in my head all day and then spill it out? Maybe. It depends on how awake I am.

Satchemo won’t be doing any of that, man. Not finishing the last class period of those essays for me. Not going to the post office. Not working on the drawing. Totally not doing the dishes.

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Damn lazy cat. OK. Parent meeting. A million presentations on landforms. Stitching meeting. Somewhere in there I’ll get some food and maybe some sleep.