It’s been a day.

Not much of a day, but a day, nonetheless. The house is filled with the incense of wine and oregano, as the pot roast slowly simmers towards its ultinate culinary destination. Dinner was originally suppposed to be around 7:30, but as I picked him up from school the Not-So-Little Drummer Boy announced that he had a percussion group practice in preparation for a charity performance tomorrow night. And oh, yeah, he wasn’t quite sure where the practice was located.

A frantic Google session allowed to figure out where he thought it might be, and after a delay while I browned the beef and got the roast simmering, we headed out. Fortunately, he was right, and he showed up, late, but at the right place.

I came home and had to oversee Echidna Boy’s project — the one that he was supposed to have done a couple of days ago. He had called from school to let me know that he was “benched” — kept in from recess — until he got it finished. He now has a fake newspaper (on heavy watercolor paper — he turned down the newsprint) all about Johnny Tremain and the Revolutionary War.

My house is not clean, but that’s okay. I am listening to good music, and there are wonderful smells coming from the kitchen that hold the promise of delights to come, and I have slain one very small dragon today: I have learned how to sharpen my charcoal pencils.

I take a drawing class. We work in charcoal, probably because charcoal is very forgiving of the incompent — you can practically erase it with your hand, especially if you use vine charcoal and don’t draw darkly. Some of us appreciate this quality a great deal. We also use charcoal pencils, which we are to sharpen with our x-acto knives.

Each pencil is supposed to have a 3/4 ” lead. Right. At this point, I have sharpened away more than three inches on one particular pencil in my search for that elusive stretch of naked 6B charcoal. But even where I’ve managed to get enough open charcoal, I’ve never quite understood how to sand it properly. I always end up with a point — which sort of defeats the purpose of all that carving, no?

Tonight, as I settled down with my supply box to prep my pencils for tomorrow’s class, it came to me. There was no blinding light or dove descending from the heavens, but just a clear sudden understanding that, hey, if you sanded the charcoal on the side you didn’t get a point but a line of charcoal, allowing you to use the entire 3/4″! Calloo Callay!

As I said, a very small dragon. But sometimes the small victories can be just as sweet.

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