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

garden sculputre installation at The Mount

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Sunny, cooler, less humidity

Hot, busy weekend.

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

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

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

I finished reading the next book for review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I remind myself: They are not my target audience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I rested.

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

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

That was it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Yesterday, I learned it takes a really long time to deadhead a rhododendron bush. I worked solidly for two hours, and got about 1/6th of it done. And I have several on the property. It’s not difficult, but it’s precise, because you have to snap off the faded flower at a specific point without disturbing new growth. And I took the advice to wear surgical gloves while working, because the faded flowers are sticky. Which is good, because it means we had happy bees, and, considering the problems in the bee population, I’ll take as many happy bees as chose to visit!

I finally came in because it started drizzling, which meant I couldn’t mow.

I handled the class, some of the students put in a request that I teach a class on Donna Leon’s work, which I’d like to do, but there’s no way I can do it before next year. I’m too booked.

I tried to get the garden soil I need, and was stuck for 35 minutes in non-moving traffic. For whatever reason, the police weren’t handling the traffic around the construction that was supposed to be done yesterday, so the construction vehicles simply sat whereever they wished in the road, not leaving room for traffic to go around them, not having anyone direct traffic, and not putting up signs for a detour. It was a big “Fuck You All” to all the people who’ve had to put up with them since the last snowstorm, and not acceptable. I turned up a side street (glad I did some exploring these last few months) and found my way home. Not acceptable.

I took care of some invoicing and reading. I checked my calendar, thank goodness, because the meeting I thought started at 7:30 ENDED at 7:30 and started at 5:30. So I rushed around, scrambling to get ready, and hit the road on time. The traffic to Buzzards Bay was awful, but I still managed to get there on time (which is why I left so early).

The meeting was the Annual Board Meeting for the National Marine Life Center, an organization which I supported even before I moved to the area. Two of the tanks that can hold turtles and small seals are ready, with a third one close. They’ve got the laundry and food prep facilities ready. They’re waiting their NOAA certification to open the section of the hospital that’s done, and, slowly, are raising money for more tanks, and a section that will have pools big enough for larger seals, dolphins, and even pilot whales. They’ve come a long way since the brunch in December. Met some really nice people, and now, that I’m feeling more settled, I want to get more involved.

I wound up on the committee for the Mermaid Ball this August, which is fine, because I’ve been working on galas for how many years now? Between the one in Saratoga and the awards show I put on for the foundation I worked on in New York. Our first meeting is next week. I made it very clear that dealing with the public is not my thing, but writing for the event, stuffing envelopes, doing physical work is much more along my line, and that’s fine. Unlike some other events, whose attitude is, “Just suck it up” — um, no. I’m a VOLUNTEER. I will lend my strengths, not do that which makes me uncomfortable. The chair of this event is fine with that, and appreciates that I’m honest up-front, so I think this will work out.

It’s a costume ball, and, since I worked in wardrobe, I feel the pressure! 😉 I also have to be able to move and deal with whatever needs to be dealt with, so it can’t be anything too elaborate or restrictive.

Costume Imp’s already working on it! 😉

Up early this morning. Tried to prune the lilac, but it started raining. I’m supposed to pick up a metal plant stand early this morning over in Yarmouth. Chickie refused to give me her address — told me to “call when you leave”. Honey, if you’re pretending to protect your address, don’t give me a phone number I can trace. I do not like being jerked around. I’m tempted to call the whole thing off, but really, it’s not that big a deal. I am going to make it very clear when I call that I already HAVE the address.

Will make another attempt to get to the garden center and pick up my soil — via a different route — once I’ve gotten the plant stand. Then, I am not going ANYWHERE during this crazy traffic weekend. Let it all flow around me. I’m going to write and enjoy my garden!

Have a great holiday weekend, all!

Devon

Published in: on May 27, 2011 at 7:06 am  Comments (3)  
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Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Foggy and cool

Yesterday was an up-and-down day. On the “up” side, I bought a witch hazel shrub. It’s gorgeous, they are hard to find (I was told by 12 people I’d never find one in the area and would pay a couple of hundred dollars to get one shipped, which I just couldn’t afford). It was more than I planned to spend, so I was going to pass, and the guy at the nursery gave me a 25% discount, which then put it within my budget. So it came home with me and is happily sitting on the deck.

On the downside of that, they said there’s nothing I can do to save the lilac. One can’t start new lilacs from cuttings (or, in this case, breakage). I’d have to dig down and separate some of the new growth from the roots.

Well, the Lilac Limb, for the moment, seems perfectly happy sitting in a bucket of water, so I’m just going to leave it there as long as it is and see what happens.

Then, the infuriating: There was a break in the weather, and it was dry for a few hours. I went to mow the lawn and the effing mower doesn’t work. After ONE usage. That is not acceptable. I bought a Poulon Pro because I was told that it is easy to use and reliable. So far, it is neither. Not only is it hell to start, it won’t stay started — after 5 feet, the motor stops. I’ve got a frigging prairie growing out here, and I can’t cut it. I can’t afford another lawnmower. I can’t afford to hire someone to cut the grass (which is not cheap around here). This piece of garbage should work more than once.

I called Poulon Pro, since their “manual” is completely useless. The first “customer service rep” hung up on me. The second one said it was covered by warranty (from the tone, I guess these pieces of crap break down like this a lot), and told me I had to take it to a place in Marstons Mills. How? I have a VW!!! She made it clear that wasn’t her problem. Actually, it is. She’s the customer service REPRESENTATIVE. She REPRESENTS the company — obviously, this is the type of company they are, since they sell things that only work once, so her lack of interest reflects the company’s — and it is her job to help solve problems, not shrug and go away. Her hating her job is not MY problem. Her not doing her job properly is both my problem and her boss’s. And believe me, her bosses, the BBB, and the appropriate state agencies are all going to know about it. I’m going to talk to the “authorized service” guy and see what a house call costs. First, though, I’m going to ask a neighbor with lawn mower experience to take a look at it.

I should have gone with my initial instincts and gotten the really old-fashioned push mower with no electronics, just blades, like my grandmother had. All I’d have to do is get the blades sharpened once a year. It would have been a pain to rake up the grass, but at least the damn thing would work.

Not acceptable on any level. I was so furious, I couldn’t sleep last night.

Call me crazy, but when I spend a chunk of money on something, I expect it to work. To me, that is part of the contract with the manufacturer — I put down money and the manufacturer supplies me a working whatever.

This morning, I’m off (to Marstons Mills again) to pick up three bookcases I’m supposedly getting for free on craigslist. Let’s hope they fit in the car! 😉

Winding up my class, preparing for the next one. Working on PR for the book release. Not getting enough writing done. Behind on the assignment for Confidential Job #1.

On a happier note, I was on the phone brainstorming with a friend, which was fun.

To the page for a little bit, until I have to get into the car and wrestle bookcases. They’re supposed to be in so-so condition, so I’m getting them as shelving for the basement, so I can do some more unpacking. I unpacked a couple more boxes from the storage room yesterday. I can get going on the basement boxes once there’s more shelving, so that, as I go through stuff and repack what I’m keeping, I have a place to put it.

Devon

Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 6:02 am  Comments (6)  
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Thursday, May 19, 2011


Terraced border in the back yard

Thursday, May 19, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Waning Moon
Rainy and cool

Yesterday was about working on PR for the ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT release. That’s pretty much what I did all day long — sending out requests, press kits, preparing guest blogs, etc. I also put together the info my publisher asked for, since I’m going to be in June’s “Author Spotlight”, and got some other information to the Write Angles Conference, where I’ll be teaching in person in October.

I did some prep for the class starting on Monday, but didn’t get to spend enough time on the current workshop, which I will have to make up for today.

Finished up the grocery shopping. Picked up a small rosemary and a small golden-edged sage (which is beautiful). Planted them, along with oregano seeds, in the large pot they will share this summer. Started pruning the lilac outside — an a five foot branch broke off in my hand! I’ve got it standing in a bucket of water on the deck, and I’m going to find out if there’s a way I can save it and root it. I planned to take cuttings and use root hormone to see if I could start a few new plants from this one, but I didn’t expect such a big branch to come off.

Also unpacked three boxes from the upstairs storage area, all soft goods, and put them through the laundry.

Didn’t get enough writing done. Must also make up for that today, and I’ve got a “phone date” at 11, with a friend who wants to brainstorm.

The Black King Eggplant got its first blossom! The indoor strawberry also has a blossom, and the male holly is blooming. We’re finally getting our spring!

Seriously, though, I cut some lilacs to bring inside — it’s so nice to have cut flowers from our own garden.

Back to the page, trying to catch up, before phone stuff and heading to the nursery to see what I can do to save the lilac.

One of these days, it’ll be dry enough to mow. In the interim, if anyone asks, I’m growing a prairie on the front lawn! 😉

Devon

Published in: on May 19, 2011 at 7:29 am  Comments (3)  
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Rainy and raw

Had a good day’s work on THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, finally. What a relief! I think I’m figuring out the book’s themes. I often have the basics of the plot down when I start (whether I write them out or not), but the theme or themes only emerge as I write the book.

Working slowly on the final galleys of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, because I’m so afraid I’ll miss something. I printed out the whole document, because it’s easier for me to accurately read it on the page than on the screen. My eyes don’t get tired as quickly.

It cleared up enough for me to spend a couple of hours in the yard in the afternoon. I pulled up all the dandelions. Now, I’m fond of dandelions, and if I knew how the lawn was treated in the past, I’d use them in my stillroom. But I don’t, so I don’t dare risk it. And dandelions are difficult on the lawn, especially if they get all puffy and go into other people’s lawns. So I removed them. I raked out another section of the back bed. From the ground, it looked and felt as though I hadn’t made any progress (although I filled two 30 gallon bags). But from the upstairs windows, one can see the progress.

The new lilac bush arrived, totally surprising me (I expected it about Saturday). It’s settled and budding. I’ll have to get it a nice pot, but it came in a tub, so it’s fine for the moment.

Caught up with my students in the workshop. They’re starting off on time and staying on top of the assignments and no whining, so that’s a good sign. Towards the end of the second week, in a month-long class, there’s usually a bit of a lag, but when they start strong, it’s not as much of an issue than if they’ve been behind from Day One.

Most evenings/nights at this point are spent studying — botany texts, gardening books, herbals, latin texts, etc. Better than TV most nights, that’s for sure. I’m unearthing (no pun intended) a lot of the books I bought over the years with an eye to having a garden “someday”. Well, someday is here. And there’s a lot of information in my older Craft books, books that had a lot of influence on me fifteen or so years ago, and now I can re-read them with a new appreciation based on the experiences in the interim. So that’s good.

Confidential Job #1 sent me my new assignment — that was fast! It looks interesting. Once I get the final galleys of ASSUMPTION done and back to the publisher, I’ve got two other manuscripts I’d like to run an eye over and get out the door before I leave for CT next week. I’m hoping to get the CJ1 assignment turned around this weekend, and have the next assignment ready to take with me on the site gig.

Today is about writing, editing galleys, and taking my mom to the doctor in the afternoon. And getting coffee — I ran out and got into my emergency stash, which isn’t very good. But it’s better than being coffee-less!

Back to the page.

Devon