The evening starts when I get home between five and six in the late afternoon. Mr. Wuss has been sleeping on the bed so he's a little grumpy, but his internal clock knows when it's time for dinner and it's time for dinner. He sits in the entranceway mewing little cat exhortations as I take off my nap sack and jacket.

I turn on the computer on the desk just beyond the bar that separates the kitchen from the living room, letting it boot while I empty my pockets. There's a small television set sitting behind my chair further down on the kitchen bar that I switch to ABC news before entering the bedroom to change my clothes, pulling on a pair of jeans and, lately, a sweater, then returning to the kitchen to feed the cat. Meow.

I open the door to the balcony to water the catnip plant I received as a housewarming present from MSW and the fleshy leafed creeper that I inherited from the former tenant. Have no idea what it is, but regular watering has brought it back from the edge of death, from desert grey to garden green. Now what do I do with it?

I return and put water on the stove and empty a can of red clam spaghetti sauce into a smaller pan, the water at heat level 10, the sauce at heat level 3 1/2 so it will be bubbling and ready when the water has boiled and the spaghetti is cooked.

Either way I'm at the computer by five thirty or six, the national news playing behind me. Local news programs give me the creeps, talking heads with grave faces discussing the latest tragic "________", their devastated "________" uncontrollably sobbing throughout the interview. I cannot listen to this crap day in and day out. I cannot fathom people who do this for a living.

The national news is marginally better, but lately I've been thinking silence would make more sense in a writing environment. Perhaps I don't take this journal seriously enough. The PBS News Hour comes on at 7:00 and I always listen, but again, in the background unless the conversation gets interesting. This is not, I realize, everyone's idea of a good time, these news programs, but I started this at an early age. When I'm tired the news conversation mixes in with the journal and I find it hard to concentrate. Sometimes this makes for an unpleasant surprise when I read what I've written when I'm fresh in the morning.

If I have an idea for a journal entry I start writing immediately. Copy yesterday's page to today's file in Homesite, modify the image place markers, delete the old headings, highlight the first paragraph and start typing.

Without an idea, I begin with the graphics. One 450 pixel wide by 200 to 300 pixel high photograph for the banner, any additional photographs 140 to 200 pixels wide by about 250 high. I have a shelf filled with three ring binders, each binder containing plastic sheets, each sheet filled with individual slides or black and white negatives six to a strip next to a contact sheet. I shoot fewer pictures during the winter months and I often have to search for a suitable image.

I spend less than an hour on the photographs, another two to three hours on the writing, three to four hours altogether. I'm usually finished around ten but it can go on to eleven or later, Mr. Wuss sleeping on the desk at my left hand hindering access to the keyboard. Doesn't seem to be a bother.

I call this journal a way to practice, a daily deadline, although I'm not sure what I'm practicing for. I will write and rewrite a sentence until it means pretty much what I want it to mean, although I'm more concerned about sound and rhythm at the moment than I am about meaning. Sometimes the result is herky jerky jumble and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes is sounds great and means nothing. I think of it as being like practicing an instrument. The sounds get better (I hope), the writing gets better (I hope) and one day, maybe I'll get a gold star and a pat on the back. Then again, maybe I won't.

Bed by ten, bed by eleven, Wuss curled up on the comforter. Sleep comes quickly and so does the morning. Awwwwww....

The photograph. Ah, yes. There is no photograph.
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