I Need That Right Now…

April 1, 2015

I’m getting close to done, which is good, because I’m expecting to be able to pick up my sewing machine today, and I’d like to be stitching things down today, although that would mean not doing much else, so I might have to rethink that plan. I’ve been trying to grade a little every other day and to do some yardwork every day or so, and clean some part of the house every day, although my brain just wants to get the art done…it’s worried that I won’t get this quilt far enough along by the end of break, and the reality is, I probably won’t, because stuff will get in the way, but I’m trying. I’m always trying. Part of why I write here is because it forces me to be accountable to myself, to say every day, what the fuck did you get done? What art did you make? And if you didn’t make art, what’s your excuse? Is it a good one (spending time with people is a good one)? Or is it lame (sat on the couch all day and stared at a television)? I don’t usually do that, just to be clear. But I could iron for 10 hours in a day and I don’t, because other stuff just happens. So if I only get two hours in, that’s the same amount I would do if I were teaching…and I’m not…

Anyway, yesterday was pretty good. I cleaned, I did yardwork, and I ironed for 4 hours…starting up in the torso…sunflowers on the shoulder and the arm…

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Then added the heron wing, which is quite pretty (and hopefully will still be pretty on the background I picked)…

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The heron body is there too, as part of the arm, ending in the head below.

I often have snakes in my quilts…couldn’t leave it out this time…

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Although I ironed it separately and then set it aside, because it was in the way. I do try to iron the pieces in numerical order…it’s just easier that way than having multiple boxes out at a time. I had made dinner earlier, because I had some time in the middle of the afternoon where I didn’t feel like ironing yet, and it was lasagna, so I could premake it and refrigerate it. I’m trying to be really efficient with foodmaking right now. Froze a dinner’s worth of it for next week or the following week, when we’re both back in school, plus made enough for two dinners this week. I seem to think this stuff through better when I’m not actually teaching, unfortunately. It’s all practice for next year, when I hope to cook a meal on a Sunday and freeze it so I can have it all month, interspersed with other Sunday meals I freeze. Or something. Some attempt to be healthy and not eat the same thing every night, and admit that cooking for just one person every night is tiring.

Then I ironed the bird in the torso…

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Tons of feather pieces between the two of them. Then I added the cat on the right side and a piece of the snake on top…

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It got a little complicated in here. I added the rest of the snake and the heart, and then the right arm is a fox, which turned out well…

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Although I had misplaced part of his eye, apparently. Never found it. Just cut a new one.

The next two sections had complicated overlapping leaves and roots on a flesh background. With the roots, I just lifted the pressing sheet and put them approximately where they belonged…

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But with the leaves, I ironed them together separately and then laid them out on the background. It was too complicated to not be able to see the pattern and try to iron it at the same time.

I did the same thing on the leaves on the right breast…then ironed the bird and snake down on top of it, where they belonged…

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The last step was the grassy area growing on the right shoulder…and there’s the whole torso…

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That’s almost 9 hours so far.

It looks a little chaotic without the head on top. And it definitely will need outlining to define some of the areas. I think the whole thing will read as a body, though, especially with the head. I really want to see it all together today at some point, so even though I have stuff planned (gym, more yardwork, book club for a book I read over a year ago and I’m really just going because I haven’t been since December and I feel out of touch), my goal today is to get it all ironed down and at least ready for stitching down. That part should only take 4 or 5 hours, then another couple hours to pinbaste, although that reminds me…I’m not sure I have a big enough piece of batting for this thing. I should check that today.

Everything else right now is stressful. It’s nice to come in here and iron and not have to deal with drama about colleges or health issues or worry about money or taxes or school. It’s peaceful working on this quilt. There’s the problem-solving of trying to get all the pieces to fit together right. It’s very methodical, laying the pieces out numerically, looking at the pattern, fitting them together, ironing them down, seeing the image come together. Apparently I need that right now. Which is good.

I Can’t Explain…

March 31, 2015

Artists have so many things that get in the way of being able to create: Reality for one. Most of us have to have another job to pay the bills, and if it’s a decent job, it takes up more hours than those for which you get paid. And if it’s a job like mine, it takes up precious mental space as well, as we worry about kids and lessons and new curriculum and all that shite. And then on top of that, if you have a family and you’re the primary caregiver (aka, usually the mom, however sexist that is, it is reality in many families even now), then those things are in your head all the time, so when it’s an hour past when the girlchild was supposed to be home and she’s not answered her phone and you’re not entirely sure where she is, so you get the dad involved and then that turns into a contract for behavior, because honestly, that’s it, you’re done, and yes, dammit, you DO realize she is 5 months away from adulthood, but if she has any chance of surviving until then without one of her parents going nuts because she is yet again late with no communication, then there need to be clear expectations and consequences. And finally, both parents are on the same page and there is a plan. On top of that, if you are dealing with confusing tax situations that aren’t even yours (more kid stuff) and financial aid forms and the possibility of a kid going to college in Paris…yes, that’s FRANCE…for her freshman year (let’s not even talk about expense on that one, but YES, it would be an amazing experience, but when asked where do I draw the line financially? What? The line is drawn. The money stops here. WTF?).

I can’t explain…or maybe I can…why the art brain runs and hides with all that shit facing it. I can see it might think there is no space for it in all that.

It really isn’t surprising after all that AND a uterine biopsy yesterday (whoo! no one told me how fun that would be) that I was almost incapable of getting any art done until almost 10 PM. Which sucked. I did grade papers, because I’m trying to be good. I also cleaned the kitchen because I’m trying to be good. It’s possible that trying to be good is a mistake.

I’ve been accused of being selfish with my time, of not doing what the kids want me to do at the drop of a hat because of my art. And that wasn’t the case. Because it wouldn’t matter if I was spending that time at the gym, making art, or getting my nails done (not happening), I would still need some time to myself, away from the caregiver position that I exist in most of my days. Even when kids go off to college, my job is as a caregiver in many ways.

So yeah. My brain was fucked with yesterday. And today I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed and sad and tired and headachy and not happy about my existence and/or the pile of crap that still needs doing. So whatever. Another doctor’s appointment today, this one without cutting and blood. Hopefully.

But this is what I got done in two hours last night…I started with the trunk and then a bunch of tiny apples and their stems…

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I had to cut all the stems out and I couldn’t quite read the tiny little numbers on them, but I think it worked out OK.

Then there were the leaves and all the stems that went with them…

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Oh holy moley, that was worse. The stems are on that brown piece. There are enough of them for all those leaves. Actually, I was missing three leaves at the end. I found one of them, but two are still incommunicado.

Not that you can tell. Well, the apple on the ground is kinda obvious…

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I’ll keep going through boxes and see if it appears. I have the stem! I just need the damn leaf.

I ironed the heron’s head in with the hand that came with it…

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That’s the hardest part…getting everything to fit together with such tiny pieces and fussiness going on. But it did. At that point, though, I had this huge piece I was working on, and I needed more of the applique pressing sheet above, so I pulled the whole bottom section off and folded it up into a box…

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And I thought about just continuing with the ironing, even though it was after midnight at that point, but my brain was roiling with messy emotional crap and it needed more of the calm peaceful fitting of pieces into the shapes they are supposed to fill, everything has a home and a place and it’s all so perfect (except when it doesn’t fit, and then that’s just as frustrating as real life and you still want to walk away from it). Ah fuck.

Yeah. I went to bed. To toss and turn.

Today I’ll continue above that with the arms and the torso. When they’re done, I can iron the bottom on. Or I can wait until I’m ironing the whole thing together. I don’t have to decide that right now.

As far as today is concerned…fuck all of yesterday’s shit. Not all of it is fixable or even my job to fix. I’ll have to deal with some of it, of course. And I’m tired, because I let all the drama into my head at bedtime and it followed me into my dreams. So maybe I should sit and draw today, because some of that could spill over into the horror I want in the drawing. That would be an acceptable place for it to live…rather than in my head. Which is where it’s sitting right now.

And my art brain is sitting over THERE sulking, arms crossed, cranky face, because I didn’t let it play as much as it wanted yesterday. I can’t explain to it that the other stuff has weight too…that it has a place too. That I have to deal with all of it. Or I can just be a hermit and once the kids move out, I can stop talking to everyone and just hide here at home. It’s definitely an option. Artists can be hermits. It’s allowed. I just suck at it.

More ironing today I think. And maybe some loud music. Or something distracting. Because it’s supposed to be vacation. And the art brain does deserve some time away from all the other crap. So do I.

Still Gonna Make It…

March 30, 2015

I did iron yesterday…I also went prom-dress shopping, something I never did growing up (I wore my aunt’s prom dress to my prom). Wow. That was blingy hell. Blingy expensive hell…like more than I paid for my wedding dress hell. And the girlchild doesn’t want bling. So I could have done without all that, but I managed to come home and iron for a while, then eat with my parents, then iron some more before my body told me it really was tired and could we go to bed, and then it didn’t want to sleep.

Anyway. It’s on vacation. It doesn’t like going to bed early on vacation.

I started by laying the first 100 pieces out…they’re all pretty good sized pieces…

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It didn’t look like much at first…

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I put the drawing on the ironing board under an ironing sheet…I have two huge sheets and a number of smaller ones. If I can keep the cats away from them, they don’t get damaged (a couple of my cats like(d) to chew on this stuff).

The big stuff at the bottom went pretty fast…

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I call this section Earth, Wind, and Fire.

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The wind is pretty light in color, so it’s hard to see on the sheet…but the background of the quilt is a dark blue, so that will be much different looking.

Then I started the acacia trees…

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All of a sudden, we’re into the teensy-weensy stuff. This is the 100s…check out how much smaller they are.

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So they take longer to iron. Those are all elephant pieces…and that took me a while, ironing the three elephants.

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Some of the smaller pieces I don’t cut out until I get to this stage, so I don’t lose them…like eyeballs and knee wrinkles. Outlining the elephants when I quilt will really help the detail pop out.

Here they are incorporated into what had been done so far…

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I’m well into the 200s now. There’s an apple tree to the right with tiny stems and tiny leaves and tiny apples…so you know what I’ll be doing today. None of the stems are cut out yet…so I’ll be cutting as I iron those. I have a nasty woman-part appointment this morning (one of those where you take pain meds before you even leave the house), so hopefully I won’t be in too much pain this afternoon, and I’ll be able to iron. I’m hoping to get this whole thing ironed together by sometime tomorrow. My sewing machine goes in today for its annual (I really should put that in quotes, because it’s so not annual) cleaning. I can’t pick it up until Wednesday, but it would be nice to be ready to be stitching down on Wednesday.

That said, I do have other stuff to work on…I finished cutting out all the pieces for the second recycled piece last night too…

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I was too tired to stand and iron, but not tired enough to go to bed and sleep, so I cut stuff out. So I can iron it down as well before I get the machine. And I could even start tracing the next big quilt if I wanted to. I’d have to go enlarge it and tape it together and number it, but that’s all OK. I have free time for that. Yes, I have a list of chores and errands and have-tos as well, but I’m trying not to dwell too much on that. A little a day…today I’m going to start the FAFSA for the boychild and maybe his taxes…and Cornell’s financial aid stuff. I’m worried about next year’s expenses. Really worried. But hey, whatever. I’ll get by. I usually do.

Meanwhile, I toldja I’d be making art. I’m actually excited to see what this one will look like. I’m excited about the recycled one too…even though I think it will fade a bit into the background, because I’m kind of OK with that idea. We’ll see. By tonight, I should be up into the heron arm and whatever’s past that on the numbering (can’t remember). Lots of feathers and petals, from what I remember. Lots of things that overlap each other, which can be a pain in the butt. But that’s how I made this drawing work…no nudity, no politics, no violence. And no, there’s no guarantee it’ll get in. As usual. Still gonna make it.

Art. It Calls.

March 29, 2015

Sunday morning, no school tomorrow, no lesson plans today, no crazy trying to catch up with grading (although I should do some of that at some point). I don’t have to panic about getting to the grocery store this afternoon, because I could go tomorrow if I wanted. Or tonight at 10 PM. Because I don’t have to be up super early tomorrow and capable of dealing with the vagaries of 140 7th graders. It’s a gift of time and space and sanity. If you’re not a teacher, I don’t think you can understand what a free Sunday looks and feels like. It honestly brings tears of relief to my eyes right now. Thank goddess for a break. I really really really needed it.

Saturday pulled this out of me…

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It’s actually not very big, about 10 x 12″. I have a drawing, a large one, that I need to do over break and it’s been fermenting in my head for the last month on and off. This is only half of it…and it has issues, one of which is that it’s tiny and it needs to be much bigger. Another is the damn electrical lines. I was going to have the two figures (yes, there’s another one) standing and facing each other, but now I’m thinking kneeling? I don’t know. I like the shapes and movement caused by the kneeling, but I was reminded that there’s no uterus in this! Oh my god! What shall I do? I could move the hand back and add one in, but what would it be growing on this side? The other side, the undrawn side, is easy…but this side. Huh. Maybe one should be kneeling and one standing? I could argue for that.

I love letting all that roll around in my head though. I’ll pull the big sketchbook out maybe tonight and start over and see what I get. I never used to pre-draw anything, and then I found it wasn’t a bad thing, that it let me work out stuff on paper in a small size and with just a little time expenditure, instead of getting hours into a larger drawing and deciding it wasn’t working.

So yeah, two figures. Gonna draw each one separately in the 14 x 17″ sketchbook, then enlarge 250% or so and put them together and figure out what the hell is going on around them (already have ideas for that, rockets and missiles and bombs and satellites and birds and clouds and tornadoes and I don’t know what else). Plus there has to be an underground. Yes, this is my big summer quilt I think. Although I want to do one of the bathtub series drawings too. I’m sounding a bit on the crazy side. But realistically, if I can get the two I’m working on now done mostly over break, then I can start tracing a bathtub quilt and by the end of school have it at least ironed together, quilt it the first week or so of summer break, while tracing the big one.

Speaking of two figures, this video…

Head over Heels

Back to what I can get done.

It’s doable. I did more than that last summer. And the summer before. I can’t afford to go anywhere…too many college costs coming up. So make art. Play loud music. Maybe clean something. I really do need to do that. But for today, I feel like I should be able to just veg out a little, like maybe a semi-normal person would do on Sunday. Honestly, it won’t last long before I’m up and ironing the next quilt together. Because that’s out in the living room and it’s kinda screaming at me. Because I want to see what it’s gonna look like. And potentially in about 10 hours, I could know. I could start now and not stop to eat or pee, and I’d be done by bedtime.

Yeah. OK. That’s a little crazy. But I did consider it.

OK. I’m going. Art. It calls.

All I Could Manage

March 28, 2015

Yesterday, this is all I could manage…

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Actually, that looks like a lot. I sorted all the pieces for the Ventura quilt. It didn’t take long. I spent most of the rest of the night lying on the couch staring at the television and petting a cat. And managing Clash of Clans. It was very taxing.

Now it’s at the point I can start ironing. Did I start last night? Fuck that. I was so tired. I did go out to dinner with the girlchild, who’s stressing about colleges still…we have about 5 more days and 3 more colleges to hear from, and then she gets to decide. I think she’s done really well, but she’s getting her head all tied in knots over prestige and comparing oneself to others. So Indian food could solve all of that, at least temporarily. It was weird, though, because although I used to go to that restaurant all the time, it’s been about 2 years since that was the case…I’ve only been there I think twice over the last couple of years, and they still recognized me, and in fact asked if I was OK because they hadn’t seen me in so long. Sigh. Yes. Just poor. Love you guys though. Thanks.

Actually, I did a little fabric managing as well…I needed enough bins to sort all those pieces…so I started putting some of Mariah’s scraps into my larger storage bins…although I still have this pile…

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Hers are in the big bin on the bottom and one of the bins in back. The others are from the Ventura quilt and I can’t put all of them away, because I keep them out until the quilt is ironed together, in case I lose something. So three or four of the bins will have to find a home on the floor somewhere for the duration…and I pulled three pieces of fabric that were big enough for the backing before putting stuff away…

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I think. Actually, they might not be. So I don’t remember doing all that last night, but I must have. Because now it’s done.

Anyway. Art will be happening. I just need to make more tea and maybe even waffles first. I really am having a bizarre waffle craving. Can’t explain it. Must be part of being on Spring Break.

I Know How She Feels…

March 27, 2015

I think this recycled quilt titled itself last night…yet another quilt title pulled from some Star Trek episode. Anyway, we’ll see if it sticks. I finished ironing all the pieces last night. This was the hair…

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Yeah. I tried a bunch of combinations and this is what I liked…although I think the dark purple got pulled from the hair and put into something else.

I used 34 fabrics total…and I’ll keep them in here until everything is ironed down…

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Just in case I lost something, but also because I might make more oranges. It took about 2 hours and 15 minutes to pick the fabrics. It was an hour and 40 minutes to piece the background.

It’s not a big pile like the last quilt…

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So I started cutting it out, because it wasn’t very late.

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I didn’t get all the way through it though, because the day ahead of all this had been kind of a nasty one.

Here’s my best zoo picture…

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I know how she feels.

The thing about field trips is that it’s hell until you get on the bus, and then usually it’s fine until you get back. I had one kid issue before (made her cry) and one kid issue after (made her leave), but otherwise it was fine. Exhausting and blood-sugar-killing, but fine. I’m not sure all of the adults are still speaking to each other, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue. I think we all need a break. OK, I know I need a break. Even if it means bringing 20 hours of grading home with me, at least I don’t have to be in the classroom, dealing with adults and kids and air conditioning (they found a temporary fix) and a network that’s not working and parents who can’t parent and expect me to do it for them and kids who can’t follow basic rules.

One day to survive. I heard a couple kids talking about how they weren’t coming to school today because they didn’t feel like it. I also considered that, but then realized that wasn’t fair to my school, my team, or my kids. But interesting. My mom would have forced me to go.

I am exhausted, physically and mentally…even emotionally. It’s funny that we’ve only been back for about 12 weeks, but we are so worn out. My Spring Break plans include finishing the smaller quilt, the recycled one; ironing down, stitching down, and starting the quilting on the Ventura Earth Mother (maybe even finishing it); cleaning house; doing yardwork; finishing all the grading; sleeping a normal amount occasionally; getting back into the gym habit (I was there last night…my SIL called me a gym rat); hiking; and reading some books. Hanging out with some people I want to hang out with…including my Belgian exchange sister from high school, who is coming to visit with two of her kids. And there’s an art opening as well at Grossmont College. So yeah, I guess it’s still busy. Of course it’s busy…I am rarely not busy…but it will be more like life and less like overwhelming stress. There’s something wrong with a job that expects so much of you, but pays you so little AND gives you so little respect. And then there’s something about the kids who hang out with you on the field trip and tell you all this goofy stuff and connect with you and we stand in front of them every day and try to get them to see a different view of the world. We’re not always successful, for sure, but sometimes we are.

With that, I do need to go survive the last day before break…

Still Standing

March 26, 2015

Hello Thursday. You don’t look like a Friday. Or a Monday. You’re already kicking my butt. I know you think a field trip with a million 7th graders to the zoo is the perfect time to throw a bunch of other shit at me, like a horrendous period and a room with a broken air conditioner when it’s going to be almost 100 degrees and a girlchild freaking out about college and an ex getting butthurt about his kids’ lack of communication skills and chaperones canceling at the last minute and parents trying to dump all their responsibilities on us and a shower that lost almost all water pressure and on top of all that, yet another art rejection.

Fuck you Thursday. I know Spring Break is coming and you have to make sure I appreciate it. I PROMISE TO APPRECIATE IT. Like teachers don’t. You’re being mean.

Anyway. Last night, I started cutting out fabrics for the second recycled quilt. Because after being at work and a work-related event until after 6 PM I couldn’t stomach more work. You know? I have two jobs. I can only spend so much time at the first one before the second one starts screaming and I curl up in a ball.

First of all, I bought these tablecloth things (or maybe they’re huge napkins…hard to say) when I was up in San Francisco…and I found them on the kitchen table yesterday and was thinking if they would work on this…

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They won’t…but I think I’m going to dye them over break.

Then I laid out my fabric stash for this quilt, all recycled from Mariah’s stash…reds, oranges, pinks, purples, yellows, whites, blacks.

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Then browns, greens, and blues (more of those, eh?).

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So I could see everything right there. And then I started thinking about the flesh. I thought about making it blue, but there’s a lot of blue in the background already. Green seemed a problem. In the end, I went for normal flesh tones…

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I don’t know if it will work, but that’s what I did. And that’s most of the pieces, so it took me a while, but I laid out all the fleshy pieces…

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You’ll notice I added another one. The ones in the middle, there were three fabrics that were all the same tone, so I just used all of them for pieces that should be in that range. I had to piece one section on the lightest fabric, because it was bigger than the strip I had. I’ve done that before, so it’s not a problem. I just added a little piece of Wonder Under to one end after I cut the larger Wonder Under piece, so they will overlap and no one will ever know. Except I just told all of you. Huh. I’ve done it before. You didn’t notice then.

I didn’t start until almost 10:30…I did some cleaning and I booked my son’s return flight from college and there was dinner, albeit late. And I don’t remember what else I did. I’m sure it was important.

These are the fabrics I’ve used so far, all part of the body.

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I haven’t done her hair yet or the orange…but otherwise, I think everything else is done. There’s only 160 pieces…and here’s what I ironed last night…

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Not a lot of color yet! The hair will be the interesting part…and no, I haven’t decided what to do with it yet. Maybe tonight. If I’m still standing.


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