Jingling a Wish Coin*

March 21, 2018

Today is weird. Today I have CPR training around the corner from my school while my students decide whether or not to work on the assignment that is due today and will largely color their grades for the next month or so, or whether to fuck around all day and drive some poor guest teacher bonkers. I could probably make you a list right now of the outliers on both sides: the hard workers and the totally-off-taskers…I hope the ones in the middle make the right choice, but with only 3 days left until Spring Break, the odds are low.

Whoa. Three days? Really? Wow. I have to say that this break is needed, but it will also be busy. Hopefully there will be some relaxing in the second week, but you never know. I also have a shitload of work to do for school…by Friday, I will have 2 weeks of warmups, 2 homework assignments, 2 online assignments, a slide presentation, and a full unit. I’m trying to get as much of it done before the break starts as I can, but it’s hard when I get home late from work and need to cook dinner AND I want to make art. Right now the art is winning. As well it should some days. Maybe most days.

Anyway, worst-case, some of it won’t get graded until after break, right? It will not be the end of the world. It’s happened before. We have to take time for our brains to get back to where we can teach without being frustrated again.

Yesterday was twin day, so our team all dressed the same. It wasn’t hard. We all have black and denim.

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When I was done with tutoring and setting my classroom up for the guest teacher, I headed over to get Calli…my ex sent me this picture, because he was leaving and she was still there, but she’s staring down the road at my arriving car…

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She seemed fine…

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Puppy too. Sewing more circles on…I’m getting near the end.

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Then 2 1/2 hours of ironing. I finished up all the little bits of the larger figure: her innards. Then I picked a different run of flesh tones for the two front figures. This was the majority of the rest of the pieces that needed ironing…

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That’s all that’s left to iron…well, and a few bits on the other figure…like her eyeballs. So that’s tonight’s task. I’ve got about 6 1/2 hours in and I’m close to done. I’m expecting to be cutting stuff out starting Thursday night…

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Some of the pieces are pretty small.

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Here’s all the fabrics I’ve used so far…still reaching into the back reaches of the bins to find stuff that has never been cut into…

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That part is actually fun. There’s a lot of red in here.

Here’s the pile to be cut out. This is not a huge quilt, but there’s still plenty of pieces.

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Balance! Balance the grading, the have-tos of fixing car things and yard stuff like weeding and taking an actual travel vacation with the artmaking…which needs to be done a week from tomorrow. Yeah. That’s a little nuts.

*Beck, Go It Alone


Like a Nervous Magician Waiting in the Wings*

March 20, 2018

That did not feel like sleep. I want a do-over. I’m not even really sure what’s up with that…stress about school? Maybe. I have a lot going on with art shows too…which is not a bad problem to have, in that I’m in a lot of shows right now, but there’s some juggling trying to keep track of what needs to go where and when. Especially if I’m going to be gone for a week.

Four years ago this week, girlchild was having back surgery. Today? I wake up to a message that she’s really sick (11,000 miles away), but it’s not malaria, so don’t worry. Oh. OK. Because there aren’t a million other heinous diseases where you are? Sigh. And then she doesn’t answer. Oh well. The program she’s with does keep on top of this stuff…it’s in their best interest to keep the kids healthy.

Yesterday morning’s sunrise. I’m really OK with not seeing sunrises. I’m looking forward to not seeing any next week. And to peeing whenever I need to pee. And??? Making art for hours. Maybe I will just ignore grading. Catch up after break. I might.

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I still hate that they cut down the other tree on the right that made it look an aardvark.

I walked the dogs yesterday. I’m increasingly paranoid about coyotes, even in daylight, so I walked the road to the local park…where I haven’t seen them yet (just heard them). Oh, that’s a lie. I saw one once in broad daylight bound across the trail, looking somewhat surprised that I was there.

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I was testing out this new trail I saw in the middle of the park. The max dog walk is about 3 miles (according to the dogs), so I can’t go from the house all the way around the park…but this trail seemed to cut through the middle. Nah. It didn’t. And there was this guy with a young German Shepherd smoking a cigar in the park. Like dude? This is a natural space where people walk. WTF? I’m betting the significant other was like “You can’t do that in the house.” and he was like “Fine I’ll inflict my disgusting smelly habit on people I don’t live with.” That’s my neighbor too. Ugh.

But it is Spring…I think officially today? Is it today? Yes! Spring equinox!

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And Spring flowers. That’s nice.

I have walked past this house for years as it becomes more and more derelict. There used to be a chicken farm here, and then they sold it to build houses, but the density was too high for the area and it got voted down, I think. So all this is still here. I wish they’d just add it to the empty space beyond it. But no. Probably houses will block this view too.

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So after dinner and some vegging out because exercise, I started ironing again with the plan to keep picking fabrics that haven’t been used as much. I wasn’t as successful here, because I needed certain colors…but this is her hair! I love it…

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I’m just in the mood to do whatever I want with this one. Well, I am sticking with flesh colors for flesh.

I got through most of the 500s and some of the 100s…and all the 600s. I’m really not going in order, so I have no freakin’ idea how much I have left. All the main figure is done, except for heart, lungs, and eyeballs.

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She’s definitely brightly colored. So I have about 20 pieces in the 500s, about 60 in the 400s, all of the 200 and 300s, and some portion of the 100s…most of them, I think. Crap and there there’s still some 600s. Damn. That’s more than I thought last night. I was trying to fall asleep and art brain kept trying to calculate how many more pieces I have to iron. I have a lecture I’m going to Wednesday night. I think I can cut pieces out there? And gaming. I’ve done that before. I really want to be ironing this weekend. I don’t know if I can finish in time otherwise. Watch me not sleep at all over break because I’m trying to finish this. I didn’t start until late last night though…so maybe I’ll be better tonight.

Kitten is back in the batting nest…with an incredibly old piece of mine pinned to the bulletin board behind her. Seriously, it’s so old, I don’t even know how old it is. It has beads on it!

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She looks happy. I’m glad she has a safe happy spot.

Well, hopefully today will go well…yesterday, I had 3 classes that rocked the assignment and then 2 that were a clusterfuck. That’s always nice. Because today they have to use what they did (or didn’t do) yesterday in a group assignment. All hell is probably going to break loose in 4th period. That period exhausts me. I feel like they need a totally different (and lamer) curriculum. They’d be perfectly happy copying notes from a slide presentation, but ask them to do anything that involves critical thinking? Oh fuck no. So there’s that. I will meditate between 3rd (when there is supposed to be an earthquake/fire drill, just to add to the excitement, seriously?) and 4th. I might meditate in the car on the way to school. I’m meditating now to Puddle of Mudd’s She Hates Me…great song for middle-school teachers.

In other dorky news, all the 7th grade teachers are dressed alike today for Twin Day. Yup. That’s a thing. I need to go find some sneakers. I don’t wear sneakers. I wear hiking boots.

Art tonight. For sure.

*Blues Traveler, Run-Around


It’s Much Too Late to Find*

March 19, 2018

So I ended a very busy weekend with a meditative two hours of ironing bliss. Picking fabrics really is one of my favorite parts of the process…I like ironing the piece together as well, but this is where I get to visualize the whole thing and then make that happen with whatever is in my fabric stash. For this new quilt, I pulled whole drawers out and rummaged around at the back, because when I use fabrics, I usually shove them in the front and then they’re the easiest to reach when I go back to that drawer. So I do often use the same fabrics over and over again. I’m trying to use fabrics that I’ve either never used or that I haven’t used in a long time. We’ll see how that goes.

This piece has three figures in it, so I have to pick at least two different runs of flesh tones. I did the first one last night…the stuff on the left is for a different part (pieces I missed ironing when I went through the first time), although the pink and yellow are both part of the flesh.

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Why not!? I can do what I want…it’s my quilt.

Unfortunately, when I numbered this one, I numbered the bottom part of one figure, then the two middle figures, then the top part of the first figure…but I need to iron all the first figure pieces at once so I don’t get confused. So I ironed all the 0-100s and a few of the 100s themselves…then rummaged through the end of the 400 bin (467 and on) and the 500 bin, but minus all the hair and sky bits (don’t need them yet), and then finished up with half the 600 bin. I just need the flesh…not all the extra bits…what you see below is some of the 100s that I set aside (heart etc) and then the 500s I didn’t need yet (mostly hair)…

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Why don’t I just number that way? Guaranteed I’d miss something. I already found one unnumbered piece in there. Had to trace it and number it with an ‘a’.

So in the flesh run, these are all the number 2 pieces…now you see how I have stash from the 1990s still in my studio…even with a ton of pieces, it’s still not a lot of ironing.

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Dirt and water use the most fabric…and sky/space now too, although this quilt has none of that. Some flesh fabrics that I’ve really loved are just tiny scraps now…still usable though! This one has been used before, but it’s been a while. There’s a piece about 18″ x 16″ left of it…so it’ll last for a while.

Ironed pieces on the left…the whole main figure’s flesh is done (not so her heart, lungs, eyeballs)…and on the right, what I used. So far…

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The other two figures are smaller, so I can use smaller pieces of fabric. But they need to be different than the figure behind…so we’ll see how that works tonight. Usually I know how much I’ve ironed, but I really can’t tell…at least 200 pieces? Hard to say because I jumped all over the place.

It’s not like I don’t have 6 drawers of flesh fabrics. Plus I need some vibrant hot pinks for the vulva…oh yeah, because she’s giving birth. Uh huh. So there’s that.

I went to another opening last night…supporting artists in my groups is something I try to do. I have pictures, but no time to post them. The next opening I’m trying to go to is this Friday…we’ll see how that goes. Anyway…here’s a sleepy puppy to amuse you…

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Yes, I have to go to school today. I’m ready (sort of). I even graded a little yesterday. This week will be weird…one day off for training (need to do sub plans) and one day of field trip and play, no teaching. So a crazy week, because it’s also right before Spring Break. And I have 9 days to finish this quilt!!! It’s cool. I got this. Well, at the moment, I got this. Just wait until the universe figures out my schedule and hits me with pneumonia or something else wacky. You know how that goes.

*The Human League, Don’t You Want Me


Move It to the Exits*

March 15, 2018

‘Twas a long day yesterday…meeting in the morning, plus all day with labs (gonna be done soon, swear!), then a two-hour union meeting. During the day, lots of drama about dress code, but also more pushback from kids about the anti-violence walkout. Sigh. We did do a thing at lunch that went pretty well (although 2nd lunch was better attended…apparently our kids are too cool for school). I was supposed to go to book club but I didn’t get home until after 6 and book club starts at 7 and it’s at that winery this time with zero parking down in crap that’s a long drive and did I mention there’s no parking, plus I wasn’t even halfway through the book because when the hell do I have time to read at the moment?

So yeah. I didn’t go. Maybe I should have because it does get me out of the house and socializing, but ugh and yeah now I’m cranky. What’s new. Because this…I had to stare at this last night…

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I actually edited it to say 3:30 PM on the Friday, because before it was midnight between Friday and Saturday, and I needed to see EXACTLY HOW MANY DAYS HOURS MINUTES AND SECONDS I had left. Or more importantly, since I have CPR training on one day and a field trip on another day, I really only have 5 days of teaching left before Spring Break. That’s way more important, eh? Plus now I only have 2 meetings left this week (but another one added next week dammit!). My patience is low. I know that. I’ve been trying to spread positivity in groups as they’re working, because then I don’t feel like a total bitch for asking one group how they possibly could have taken so much time to do step 1 and why are they still staring at the paper 10 minutes after they sat down at that station.

Meanwhile, girlchild’s car is in Boston while she’s gone. There it is. Not towed.

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I get these emails from Brandeis about snowstorms and must move cars and I’m like how the fuck am I supposed to do that and we did try to find somewhere reasonable to leave her car, even garage it, and there was nothing, so she has a friend who sends pictures of it. And does have a key, but apparently the power-steering fluid leaked out so it’s really not going anywhere until early May.

Stephen Hawking…amazing man, amazing life, amazing brain. This is for my homeroom this morning, because yesterday they were being lame.

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Geez guys. Seriously. If he can do it, what’s your excuse?

I came home to no dinner plan and a lot of tired. I input some grades just to freak kids out. Seriously, if you don’t turn stuff in, what do you think your grade is gonna be?

And then I traced the last 60 pieces of Wonder Under. See?

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Only about 3 yards. I ate dinner in there somewhere, leftovers mostly. Then I cut stuff out. I had both dogs and one cat. It was a bit rainy, kinda cold. They tend to hang out with me more when the weather sucks.

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I’m their bad-weather friend. Trash on the left, cut pieces on the right. I finished one yard and started the second one.

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I have quilt class tonight, so I’m hoping to finish cutting. We’ll see. Exhausting weekend ahead. I’m already tired and cranky. I should get my head out of that. Two openings will help. Lots of art and maybe wine and cheese. Except I’m the driver! Ah. Oh well. Too much wine is probably not a good thing. I’ll be asleep.

OK, going to bang out the 2nd to last meeting of the week. Hopefully less drama today about kids getting dress-coded. Hopefully someone will like deliver a puppy or edible flowers or something cool. Yes, that’s random. I’m tired.

*Semisonic, Closing Time


I Really Don’t Want to Make Another Quilt about Gun Violence

March 14, 2018

So I’m wearing orange today…#ENOUGH…because dumbasses with guns shoot up schools. And my government lets them…hands them the guns sometimes. And if I were going to head up a committee to “harden up” schools (omg that person has never taught at a Title I middle school), I would not put DeVos in charge of it, because the only words she knows are “vouchers” and “school choice,” and she can’t figure out how to put those in a sentence with “save the kids.” So today sucks. I can’t walk out because my kids won’t get it and I’m responsible for them. I’m responsible for their learning and their safety and their cleanliness and their appropriate behavior in the classroom and a whole host of other things. And none of us get paid enough to stand between a gun and our students but most of us would. But I’m walking out in spirit. I hope you see it, all you NRA supporters who are up for election in 2018. I hope it makes you pee your $1000 pair of pants right down into your real leather shoes.

Meanwhile, back in the classroom, as a teacher, I’m constantly looking at what I’m teaching and trying to decide if they get it. I think on a one-on-one basis, most are sort of getting it, but this group is very slow-moving and often completely off task. And mean. Empathy is hard. It’s hard for some adults. So slogging through that and thinking I suck as a teacher on a daily basis is really dragging me down. I’ve analyzed it. I taught this last year. It’s completely possible for them to do what I ask them to do…but it’s taking me a lot more management than last year. And they’re not being incredibly successful. That may be more about the time of year than about anything over which I have control. Plus middle school reminds you of how little control you really have.

So that’s making the days exhausting.

Last night, I managed to finish the commission quilt. That’s exciting. All the binding and sleeves are done. I need to email the photographer and see if Sunday works for him…and then hopefully I can mail it to the new owners next week some time (oh school, please keep the meetings to a minimum). I do need to put a label on it too. Because it’s a commission that wasn’t from something already in existence (my last two commissions were redos of parts of larger pieces), I’m giving the new owners some time to live with the quilt before they decide if it’s what they really want. I’m hoping it is, but it seems fair to give them a choice. They’ve paid me a percentage for making it so far, so if it comes back to me, I have the quilt and some money for my time. Commissions are strange beasts in art. Useful but strange.

Puppy is helping me sew bindings on while watching one of the funniest episodes of Black Mirror ever (U.S.S. Callister, Season 4, Episode 1)…

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Not an official picture, obviously. I still need to calculate hours etc.

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Now here’s the real crazy. I have two weeks to finish another one. Normally that would be impossible. Certainly looking at the number of meetings I have this week and my disaster of a weekend, you’d say No Effing Way. But the drawing is done, it’s numbered, and as of last night, I’m almost done with tracing the Wonder Under.

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All I have left is the head. The hair is even done.

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About 60 pieces left for tonight. And it only has 664 pieces total (well, there were a few numbering issues). It’s not huge. And after next week, I have a whole week off of school.

Can I do it? Maybe. It depends on a lot of stuff, but I’m going to make an attempt. If I fail, I’ll still have a new quilt made in time for some show, right? I did get into another show, a local one, opening April 12…called Art That Cuts…I think mine qualifies in many ways. It’ll be at Mesa College and I should be there for the opening, assuming it’s at an hour I can go (unlike the one opening tomorrow, yeah?).

Simba is sad when it rains. He doesn’t like to pee or poop when it’s wet. He is a floofy dog. Rain is terrifying.

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And yes, it’s raining again. Hard. Hopefully it will stop by lunch so we can go link arms in the quad against gun violence in schools. I really don’t want to do another quilt about that.


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)


Dancin’ and Singin’ and Movin’ to the Groovin’*

February 11, 2018

So I drove my quilt 45 minutes north of here yesterday and then drove another hour back (same distance, welcome to traffic), and while I was driving, an entire drawing populated itself in my head. I’d had a vague idea of it before, but it was flat out laying down lines and spaces during the drive, to the point that I don’t remember a good chunk of it (let’s hope all the safety parts of my brain were fully engaged). So when I got home, I could start working on one of the things that needed working on, or I could sit down and draw.

Well. Um. So even though I have a to-do list 17 miles long with some pretty damn important things on it, this was a compelling drawing, so I sat and drew for about an hour before we left to finally see The Last Jedi

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I did pencil in general shapes before I started, because the overlaps on this thing are numerous. So that’s about an hour of drawing.

And then when we came home from the movie and dinner, I finished it.

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Maybe another hour. It felt really good to get it on paper. So that’s that thing…I can plan all I want, but sometimes, I just have to do what my brain wants. I blow off what my brain wants when I’m working and when I need to grade things, so it seems fair to let it have its way sometimes. And now I have a drawing from it.

Here was the Oceanside Museum of Art yesterday…there was an artist’s talk going on, I think, but the quote on the building was cool…not that you can see it that well in a tiny picture.

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Luckily, it’s part of the installation with the wall above, so you can see the quote and its explanation by the artist, Marcos Ramirez, on the page associated with Undocumenta, one of the exhibits that just closed in the museum.

I finally took a decent picture of this so I can put it on Etsy. It’s 11″ square.

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It’ll be up there in a little bit.

And today? Today I actually have to do the things on my list. Like a lot of them. But that’s OK. I got a drawing out of it yesterday. I’m good.

*Wild Cherry, Play That Funky Music