In the Silence

July 30, 2014

In the silence, there can be peace. There can be lies. There can be fear of the truth. Silence can be golden. It can be heavy. It can be loaded. It can be beautiful. It can carry memory. It can remember. Silence is painful, awkward, and deadly. Silence is a relief. Silence is torture. Silence is a treatment.

Three nights a week here it is silent, except for the sounds of my cooking, the cats complaining about my presence or lack thereof, not petting their bellies or actually doing so. The TV is on, so people are talking. Sometimes they are something I have on to just fill space while I cook (tonight, it was Real Housewives of somewhere richer than here). Sometimes it’s something I am actually watching (tonight, it was The Lottery…how can they set it just a few years from now? Not realistic. I was eating while I watched, AND reading a book. Too much brain stimulation needed these days.). Sometimes it’s something I like but don’t really need to watch because I’ve seen it enough times (tonight, it was X-Files…again…still). It’s not that I want TV as a companion. It’s that that’s what I have. Sometimes it’s music, if I’m quilting, although tonight, I chose X-Files over music, because music has more emotional triggers for me. I had been listening to music before and it was causing issues, so I chose not to tonight. It’s easier during the day when the kids are around. They are my emotional buffers. Yes, I often think about what it will be like when they are gone.

I quilted for about 3 hours today…

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This thing has about 4 hours in it at the moment (quilting, that is). I probably have another hour at most of outlining to do, if that, and then there isn’t actually much background quilting. The image pretty much fills the space. I’m hoping to finish early tomorrow so I can get a binding on it and move on to quilting the next one. That of course presumes that I have an appropriate binding fabric for it (I’m pretty sure I don’t). Road Trip! To the fabric store. Which is a whopping 5 miles away. I’ve been good, though. I haven’t gone for a long time.

Quilting blood vessels. I wonder how many miles of blood vessels I’ve quilted. When I posted a photo on Instagram of where I was in the quilting, girlchild liked it. I wanted to tell her it was past her bedtime (because it was). She’s not here. Hence the silence. Last night, it was all girls giggling and yelling and TV on and squealy girl noises. Tonight? Tonight is so silent. I can hear the fan. The computer keys tapping. The computer humming. Occasionally there’s a cat-related noise: scratching, mewing, hissing.

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The first part of quilting involved not stitching through the cat’s tail.

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See Midnight behind the machine? I just draped the quilt over her and she would occasionally twitch, but she wouldn’t move. Whatever. Remind me again why sleep is so important?

If these lung bronchioles and alveoli (if you don’t know what those are, you didn’t have me for 7th-grade science) don’t look just like Dr. Seuss’ trees, truffula trees, I don’t know what does.

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It’s hot here during the day. The house was 90 degrees when I went to the gym at 5 PM. There’s not a lot of sleep happening in that heat, so I just stay up late anyway. Plus I don’t sleep. Bad brain. So cats and dogs sprawl…

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Wherever they think it might be cool. Temperature cool, not attitude cool. Although with Babygirl, you never know.

I’m officially doing physical therapy on the knee for a month. He thinks it’s a sprained LCL…possibly an IT band issue as well. The right knee is definitely weaker than the left, and he’s given me strengthening exercises to help. I’m not allowed to hike for a week, but after that, it should be OK. He thinks it’s a very solvable problem.

I wish I were a solvable problem.

I also got the materials for the weird-ass project I need to do for my local art group, not quilting at all. Well, that’s not true. I think they want a wall quilt too, but I’m just not sure that will happen. It kind of depends on what I get done this week. If I can get both of these quilts quilted and bound, then I’ll think about a wall quilt too, but right now, I’m designing a 3D floating house. It’s been in my head for months. It needs worry dolls. It needs organza. It needs coathangers and wire. Wire tomorrow. Then build this sucker. Worry dolls go on last. They’re getting mailed to me. But I have to finish the rest first. I shopped in the fancy fabric section of the store. It’s been a while since I’ve hung out in there.

I wanted to draw tonight…got drawings pawing at me at the moment to come out…”Please Please Ms. Nida. Let me out. I’ll be good. I promise. Just let me out.” Pleading. There are only so many hours in the day. So I quilted instead. Sometimes I’m not sure if letting more drawings out of my head is a good thing.

It’s so quiet here. I hate it.


Women I Want to Be When I Grow Up

July 29, 2014

I started writing this post the other day when I read someone’s list of awesome fictional women…actually, I just went and searched around to see if I could figure out where I got the idea, because the blogger LIKES his hits and trackbacks…fellow teacher and sci-fi writer (although I barely qualify) InfiniteFreeTime wrote about that here. The interesting thing about being a GIRL though (actually, I rarely call myself a girl because it’s such a loaded word when you are dealing with an adult female) is that those awesome female fictional characters are also our role models. So from growing up reading and looking at stuff and trying out how to be the most awesomest female in the world, I put together some short lists.

First of all, you have to know that when I was younger, like middle school, I would tell people that I was the reincarnation of Mary Cassatt (in fact, I wrote a whole story about it, which in retrospect, was probably only one page long in a school notebook and was tossed out that summer when we cleaned out our backpacks). The reason I picked Cassatt was because, and this is important, at the time, she was the only female artist I knew about. Sad but true. I’m not sure even now that I have female role models in the art world…there are artists whose work I admire, but whose practices or personal lives leave much to be desired. Then again, they didn’t have any role models either. The crazy-ass balance between mom, provider, and artist is not something to be envied most days.

Anyway, when I grow up, I want to be one of these women…actually, I want to be a composite of all of them…notice the recurring theme of stubborn strength and kicking ass. In some sort of chronological order…

Dana Scully in X Files: Dana is the perfect mix of faith and science, and although I’m not a religious person, I love her cynicism when it comes to Mulder’s belief and her ability to kick ass and still admit when she’s wrong.

dana-scully

Ellen Ripley in the Alien series: Ripley saves the kid AND kills the aliens. She’s tough, but caring, and so nice to her cat. And she recognizes a bitchy alien when she sees one.

ellenripley

Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect (the UK version): a troubled character, but excels despite being surrounded by testosterone-addled males. Plus she solves the cases.

jane tennison

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle in the books of her name: I read Mrs. PW when I was a kid, but it wasn’t until I was reading them to my OWN kids (and teaching middle school) that I realized how freakin’ awesome she is. Always cheery and perky, but the punishment fits the crime. I wish I could be her.

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Beatrix Kiddo (aka The Bride) in Kill Bill: There’s something to be said for revenge and for being good at something that is not very feminine (whatever the fuck THAT means…but think about all the stereotypes girls have to watch and then toss this character into that mix…she’s badass, but has compassion), and The Bride does it with style.

The_Bride

Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (prefer the original movies) and the rest of the series: Yup. She’s fucked up. But I love how she gets revenge (ah, a theme erupts). Plus she’s damn smart and sneaky.

lisbethsalander

Kara Thrace aka Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica (the new one): Starbuck is another troubled woman (she drinks, she smokes, and she fucks up regularly), and she is carrying a HUGE chip on her shoulder, but you can see her fight through her feelings in the series. She is an emotional mess at times, but fights through the crazy and stands strong…not just for herself.

Starbuck

There’s a theme here: troubled, emotional, often making mistakes, but strong in conviction and ability, not bound by gender except when others try to force it on them.

There are other female characters that I love, but who then make a really stupid decision, like Anna in Downton Abbey (don’t keep secrets like that!). I’m always disappointed when shit like that happens. I guess it’s a fine line between a Starbuck or a Jane Tennison and Anna, but it’s my line to draw.

Anna-Bates

There’s a couple other lists I made while I was thinking about this (and I’ve been thinking about it for days, and I could probably wrack my brains for another year and make the list longer, but this is where it’s at right now).

Girls I wish I had been when I was younger

Hermione Granger in Harry Potter: Duh. Who doesn’t want to be her? Smart, beautiful, strong, emotional, kicks ass around the boys. Thanks JK Rowling for giving my daughter someone to look up to.

Hermione_Granger

Arya Stark in Game of Thrones: Another duh. She’s a tomboy, she uses a sword like a boy (or better), she gets out of situations like a magician, and George R.R. Martin hasn’t killed her yet (knock on wood).

arya

Pippi Longstocking in the books of her name: She’s strong, nonviolent, and a creative thinker. Plus everything she does is cool.

pipp

Women I don’t want to be?

Gemma Teller Morrow from Sons of Anarchy: Wants to do right by her family, but is a giant-ass mess. Sure, we all want to be in bed with Jimmy Smits, but we don’t kill people to get there. She’s evil. I realize she’s supposed to be and her circumstances made her largely who she is, and even more importantly, I’m supposed to be troubled about liking her…but I just don’t. In fact, I don’t like any of the women in SoA. I used to like Tara (although that is also pointless now) until she became some PTSD survivor crazy person. Much as I love the show, it’s hard on the females. Oh yeah, and Gemma babysits when drugged out. Bad grandma.

gemma

Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife: I have never ever liked her. She wimped out, she used her situation, she’s flaky, she’s fucked up but not in a good way. She just irritates the crap out of me. Take a stand, woman. Please. For the sake of other women out there.

alicia-florrick

Frida Kahlo: OK, so this is hard because I love her art. But she’s kinda like Alicia, in that she let Diego Rivera be the giant ass he was and she put up with it, and from what I read, that fucked her up mentally in a big way. But she stayed with him anyway. Yes, she made amazing art while she was alive, and some of it may have been precipitated by Diego’s dumbassedness, but I just wish she’d had the balls to tell him to fuck off, and walk away and maybe hang out with Georgia O’Keeffe instead. She might have been happier.

Frida_Kahlo

All the women in Breaking Bad, Justified, and The Dresden Files, and possibly more that I’m not even remembering right now. Those are just in my head at the moment. Most of the women on the Lifetime channel, and all of the women in the Real Housewives franchise. Holy shit. Just get rid of all of them.

Women my son wants me to be, but I haven’t actually seen yet

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (it’s on my long long list of things to watch): OK, probably he just wants to date Buffy or someone like her (he would disdainfully snarl at that characterization).

buffy

I’m sure this is an ever-changing list as I read more and/or remember more (seriously…the brain is not my friend), but it’s interesting to think about what makes you like or dislike a female role model, because there are certainly some very fine lines between fucked-up and vengeful when you look at say The Bride vs. Gemma, but hey, it’s my list. You don’t have to agree.


Looking Back…

July 29, 2014

So the bird quilts were a success, thanks to friends and family and groupies and the like (there is some overlap between the categories). There are three left for sale, and tomorrow (which is actually today; I just haven’t gone to sleep yet…) I will move them over to the Recent Work page. I’m also doing one more as a commission, once I finish the obligations I do have for this month. Which I was supposed to work on today, but today ended up being errands and house-cleaning, because I currently have a houseful of teenaged girls. OK, there are only 3, but that’s kinda like a houseful when they get going. They aren’t leaving, either. They will be here until some time in the morning…the REAL morning. Not the morning it is NOW. Hopefully not until after I wake up. And have tea. Because I can barely deal with my OWN teenagers in the morning these days.

I need to get my ass in gear on quilting this week. Hours of it. Starting…um…not now. I spent a chunk of today making and sewing on labels on the bird quilts…

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Yes, I’m weird. I sew them on. I read about someone who was removing labels and then putting her own labels on the quilts. So I started fusing AND sewing them on. It might be overkill. Some things are just habit. Not necessarily a good thing.

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I have two to go, I think.

I’ve been referred to physical therapy for the recurring knee problem, starting tomorrow. It’s probably too much to ask him if I can hike on Thursday, eh? I will ask anyway. Or I will do it anyway. Who knows. I’m not willing to stop hiking because my knee is cranky.

Yesterday, I forgot to eat until 3:30 in the afternoon. I forgot before I went grocery shopping in the morning. I planned to eat when I got back, but the kids came in staging World War III, and by the time the screaming stopped, it was time for me to leave…so when we got there (to the meeting) and I thought, “Why do I feel so shaky?” and then wracked my brains trying to remember what meal I’d actually eaten that day…um. Yeah. So the brain is still out to lunch. With martinis. She’s in a real mood at the moment. Actually, it’s somewhat easier to exist when she’s out to lunch (except for the part where I forget to eat). There’s less drama. More just getting by. Minute by minute.

The last year has been a bitch. You might have noticed. Here are the positive things that happened though:

In the last year, I’ve written 380 posts averaging about a thousand words a post, some quite a bit more than that. That’s about 380,000 words. That’s kind of a lot.

I started writing a book. I’ve always wanted to write a book, and I’m significantly into this thing at the moment. Hopefully I’ll figure out how it’s supposed to end soon…and maybe get around to naming all the characters.

I learned to meditate. I still meditate almost every evening. I think it has helped give me some distance from my sad brain and situations when I am wigging out. I have meditated in hotels, cars, my classroom (with or without my students), and staff meetings. I have told my students I am meditating right now. I have taught them how to meditate as well.

I’m hiking pretty regularly. The physical exercise is obviously good for me, and the type of exercise is a good alternative to my gym time, but I’m also outside and hanging out with a different group of people on a regular basis. In nature. With the bugs and snakes and other crawly things. And I only fall down occasionally.

I’m reading a lot. I guess this could be a negative in some ways, because my hermit self probably doesn’t need more excuses to hang out with its nose in a book, but I’m reading a good variety of stuff and doing book clubs too for the intellectual stimulation (and just plain goofiness at times).

I remodeled (with the help of the boychild and my dad, and sort of the girlchild) the living room, getting rid of tons of crap and hopefully streamlining the space a bit. Next year, we’ll do the other half of the house if it kills me (and it probably will).

I made a bunch of quilts and drawings that will turn into awesome quilts. I do this every year, but it seems important to note that even when I’m dealing with massive depression and breakdowns, I can still do that. Thanks to the artistic brain for pushing the other shit off the cliff on a regular basis. It keeps climbing back up and getting in my face, but that art brain is unstoppable. She rocks.

I outlasted my boss.

I helped one kid get into college with a pretty good financial aid plan, and hopefully he will remember where he lives after he leaves. There was a lot of paperwork and too many deadlines.

I reintroduced myself to the dance, theater, and spoken-word performances that I used to go to all the time, and I rediscovered my love of comics.

I got some of my diabetes numbers back to the normal range. There have been other issues associated with that, but the HbA1c is the same as someone without diabetes. It’s been over 12 years since it’s been there.

Most of all, I survived it. Moving on. Of course, that’s easy to say right NOW. When that silly brain comes back from her extended cocktail hour, I might have to force the issue a bit more. And there’s that part of the brain that is always yelling “but but but!” whenever you say you did something good…it needs to take a hike. In the opposite direction. Tomorrow, I quilt. Seriously.


Bringing the Brain On Line

July 27, 2014

Not the most effective use of my time yesterday. Mental breakdowns never are. The plus is I seem to recover fairly quickly now from the parts where I shake and can’t focus. Thank meditation for that. And the help of some friends who say the right stuff, remind me that I am OK…remind me that just because one person in the world believes something about me doesn’t mean it’s right.

I tortured my son and ex by dragging them to the Cornell San Diego barbecue, mostly for me, really, but also so the boy might recognize people who live near him. Not that he will use that info (but all my college friends are yelling Road Trip!). He’s disdainful of the process, and actually came up and asked why the other older students made a point of telling the kids to wash whites separate from other colors, because we don’t do that at home (it’s true, we don’t, although I was raised doing that). I reminded him that the colors of his college include RED. Which RUNS. And makes everything white turn PINK. His dad admitted to making that mistake in college. Boychild wears no white, though, so he’s probably OK.

I tried to work on bindings in the car, but the curvy roads were making me sick. I wanted to get two done yesterday, but had to settle for one…Bird No. 7

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Can’t remember what the other name is for this one.

For one thing, I also quilted a bit (not a lot) on Mammogram

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It’s piled up to keep cats off it.

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I finally found the purple fabric I needed for the birds…it was hiding under something else, of course.

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I knew it was here. I hate that my brain is still pulling this shit where I’m staring right at something and I can’t see it…I lost the teabag squeezer (probably there’s an official name for that) the other day and was going nuts, but it was right where it should have been, except up an inch or so on a pile of stuff. Right in the wide open. I don’t even understand how I couldn’t see it. OK, I know…because my brain was playing games. I can’t find my turquoise hand-sewing thread either. I’m sure it’s somewhere. Oh shit. I know where it is. Fuck. Dumbass. OK, I know I’m not a dumbass…I just need days of processing time now. Hard to know how much of that is age, hormones, or depression. Or a revolting combo of all of them. The big part of my brain is just not available on a regular basis. I send a messenger down there, into the deep hole, and sometimes the messenger comes back and sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes the message is so garbled that it’s useless. And sometimes 24 hours later, the location of the turquoise thread pops into my head.

But in order to manage some of my crazy, I called one friend and emailed another, and we ended up going to see Boyhood

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Which was interesting, although I was more interested in the mother character. It was an interesting concept, although the boy was not very engaging in the first few years. He was much more interesting when he aged and had more mature opinions, and certainly, being about to send a boy off to college, there was some relevance there.

I can’t seem to get my brain working on finishing the stupid pile of small tasks that would finish the living room remodel. Which means my bedroom is a disaster. And now apparently a bunch of teenaged girls are coming to spend the night tomorrow. OK. Well. There’s some motivation to move it along. Or just shove it all in my bedroom and close the door. Whichever seems to make more sense. Taking care of myself is often a collection of behaviors that others do not understand. They don’t get that I’m dragging my brain along with me, behind me, and sometimes it’s strangling me by trying to dig its feet in. Recalcitrant asshole.

More car time today…sitting in a meeting too. Four more bindings. Today. Done. Really. Maybe then my brain will come back on line. Ha.


Working Through It

July 26, 2014

It’s been one of my (many) mantras this year, work through it. Just keep making. At some point, it will feel different again. The plus with making quilts the way I do is that there are tasks that can be divided up and finished in shorter periods of time. If something is long and difficult, this is how you get through it, one chunk at a time. So when I’m sitting there stabbing needles into that one place on my right middle finger that gets a callous when I’m doing a lot of hand-stitching, I know that it is not an endless, Dante’s-Inferno-of-Stabbing-Pain, but a task that will end, and if it is supremely heinous, then there will be a new and different task to follow it.

I finished three more bindings yesterday. It was difficult, but Endeavour Morse helped me survive it. I never watched the Inspector Morse series, but I like the prequels.

This is Bird 4…they have names now too. I have a hard time remembering the numbers.

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Also known as Diving Bird. Obv.

In pricing them, I’ve really only looked at the time. Quilters Newsletter Magazine recently had an article on pricing your work, and I do usually use a combination of time and size, looking at both calculations and arriving somewhere in the middle.

This is Bird 5

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aka HeyBird. The article was interesting in that it touched on two points: those who underprice and undervalue their time are hurting the rest of us…and it gave actual pricing info from some quilters, including Luke Haynes and Caryl Bryer Fallert, both more famous in the quilt world than I am, but I was able to compare my prices for my work with what they would charge for something similar…

This is Bird 6

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aka Curvy Bird or maybe Falling Bird. I haven’t decided. And I found that my pricing formulas do actually make sense. You are paying for my 25 years of experience, my drawing ability, my quilting ability, and for the rarity that is a small Kathy piece without boobs in it (as my daughter would say). Because honestly, this opportunity may never arise again. I find these little quilts a pain in the ass to make, and they don’t give me any satisfaction to make…except when I see them in a pile. That’s kind of cool…a pile of birds. Until the cat tries to sit on them, and then I have to hide them again. And my prices are significantly lower than Fallert’s (as they should be).

Updated: I had to add this after a conversation with the boychild. Minimum wage in California is $9/hour at the moment. If I sell these birds in a gallery, I can lose up to 50% of the price to the gallery (understood, by the way…I’m not arguing against that), so I have to consider the pricing with that in mind. The smallest one, right now, is the only one priced under $100, and if it sold in a gallery, I would get just over minimum wage. Sigh. But these weren’t complicated and I didn’t draw NEW birds…these are existing birds from drawings and quilts that are already done. Plus I think most if not all of them will sell outside of a gallery, so I’m OK with the pricing.

Four more to go, but I already set up the sewing machine last night to start quilting Mammogram. I want to get on with it. Next week is really the last WHOLE week I have free from school stuff until December (oh my god, that is so depressing). I need to use it wisely. This is why as the summer goes on, I become more and more hermitlike. In the early days, I leave the house for lots of errands and fun stuff and lunch with friends (not really), but by the time August 1 rolls around, I’m in lockdown mode. School looms towards me, swinging claws towards my free time and my sanity, and Fall is notoriously bad with soccer slamming me as well. Although this year, there will only be one kid around…one kid who has taken on coaching her OWN team (am I required to go watch that? I feel like I should go at least once.).

And I am exercising and meditating every day. Another way to work through it. One chunk at a time.

“Keep mindfulness alive even in the darkest moments, reminding yourself that the awareness is not part of the darkness or the pain; it holds the pain, and knows it, so it has to be more fundamental, and closer to what is healthy and strong and golden within you.” Jon Kabat-Zinn


Nida Happy Time

July 25, 2014

Someone actually found my blog by searching for that. I am amused. I been looking for some Nida Happy Time…maybe they will let me know where ELSE the internet pointed so I can get there. I’ve been sitting here for about an hour, trying to find and change all of the autopay places that my old stolen credit card number might be lurking and replacing it with the new. A call to Ohio. Searching websites for the right combination of key words. I think I’ve got them all and I think I’ve found the few late charges that got thrown at me.

I was woken up this morning by the sound of thunder, loud, scary at first, then comforting. It was early, but not really bad. Just earlier than I wanted, which is always the case these days. I rarely wake up feeling rested. My body doesn’t let me sleep long enough for that. Soon the rain started, heavy at first, then slowing to that syncopated rhythm that is mostly droplets falling from tree leaves. When it started up again, that pattern of thunder, then rain, then trickle, I got up. I love that sound, that feeling…maybe because it is so rare here, especially in summer. We had one quick storm a week ago…these thunderstorms wander in from the mountains and drop their load and then leave again, bringing the temperature down briefly, but just a memory after an hour. Before that? It had been months since it rained…I think. I remember a hike in April or May that got rained out, but nothing since then. It’s a drought here, like it always is. So this a respite. Brief. But it feels like an omen. Not a bad one.

Yesterday morning, on the way to life drawing, a new drawing started to insert itself in my head. Yesterday was a maliversary, and since I know my brain is going to have issues with that, I try to baby it a little, give it distractions, give it what it wants. So it got life drawing, which was kind of a joke. My muse owes me $5 because she totally did not show up. I was overly tired (really bad night) and the model was male, which is novel, but harder for me to draw. I draw mostly women, so I’m used to their shapes. I was able to do OK with pencil, but when I switched to ink on the long drawings, holy fuck. I did a very nice drawing of the chair he was sitting on. And his bald head. The rest was a clusterfuck. It’s OK. It happens. I also started drawing a study of sorts for the drawing in my head. Honestly, most of the drawing was there, just like it popped in. BOOM. There were some changes, variations that were fluttering through my head as I tried to draw the naked guy, but I just let it process.

From there, I went to my stitching meeting, where I was working on the birds (more about that below). It was fine, but I realized the bindings are going to take longer than I thought…which is fine. I realize I can do them by machine, but I like the way the finish looks by hand, especially on something this small. There’s something to be said for craftsmanship. However out there my imagery is, I’m kinda old school with some of my practices, because I do like how they look.

There was a car issue after that, so I came home and couldn’t go to the gym because I had no car (amusing that). So I tried to finish my book…I’m getting increasingly irritated with how Jim Butcher deals with female characters. I still like the stories though. Sigh.

When the two kids finally came home, I was a good girl and went to the gym. During weightlifting, which is when my brain has the most time to get into trouble, that drawing popped up again. And it basically drew itself. Details popped in. I rearranged some things mentally and made it better. Really, it majorly sucks that I can’t just download directly to a device from my brain, because I knew actually DRAWING it would be an issue. It was complicated. But it was about today, about how I’ve been feeling this summer, the last year. Many people call this their muse, God speaking through them, whatever. I don’t really know or care what it is, but it’s a drive that can’t be shut up. I know some people ignore it, but I think mine is louder, more insistent, because I make a point of listening…of responding…of drawing at the drop of a hat…of giving part of my brain permission to run off and mess with the images. The fiber art group I’m in wants me to bring a 10-word description of my artistic process to the next meeting. TEN words? Yeah. Whatever. I think I’ll write a haiku. Boychild had a random-word generator giving me 10-word combinations yesterday that would have been about as relevant. I don’t want to play that game.

I came home from the gym, ate, and then contemplated the day. I had done a good job protecting the part of my brain that might have had an issue. I distracted it and gave it a goal and I reached that goal and was still there in one piece, my brain wasn’t raging all over the place or huddled in a pool of tears. Not bad. I still had a few hours and one difficult task, though, so I needed to keep going. It was obvious what I needed to do next, so I grabbed the sketchbook and started…

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This was the second start. The first one had the hinges on the wrong side. And it has issues, but I think I can fix them, plus I’m going to have to extend the paper down and probably to the left. I’m trying to decide whether to copy and enlarge it as is, or to trace and move things like I think they should be moved and THEN enlarge and add his feet etc.? Did I tell you about my 5th-grade art teacher who really wanted me to learn to stay on the page? She was an artist too, so don’t give her shit. She’s right. I should learn to stay on the page.

Yes, I have another drawing that needs to be finished. It wasn’t screaming at me last night. This one was.

When I got that far (an hour?), I stopped because I needed more space on the page and to make a decision about enlarging. And then I sewed the third bird. And then I went to bed, because for normal people, it was a bedtime that would be considered normal (well, no, it would still be late, but it wouldn’t be as fucking late as I normally go to bed). Because I have three weeks to get my sleep schedule back to semi-normal. Less, really, if you consider the professional development stuff I have to do before that which requires me to be up at an ungodly hour.

So there we are. It’s not Nida Happy Time, but it’s something.

I finished three birds yesterday…Bird 1…

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Bird 2…

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and Bird 3…

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I started calculating time too…gave up and did it old school on GASP paper.

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I know. Crazy. I think there’s an issue with the quilting time on birds 2 and 3…I think I must have hit the wrong task in the app for some period of time. I can go back and look at the specific dates and times, because they’re almost the same size, almost the same bird…there shouldn’t be that wide a gap between the quilting times. When they’re all done, I’ll post them with sizes and prices. Meanwhile, I have a bunch of errands to do today, but I want to get the bindings machine-sewn on Birds 9 and 10 at least. I think I’m almost awake enough to do that. And hopefully tonight I’ll have a go at the drawing stuff again. Maybe by then my brain will have made a decision about tracing or enlarging or whatever.

Oh yeah, so the living room furniture is almost settled.

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I think we’re going to put the TV on an arm off the wall and get that piece of furniture out of there too. But that big blank white wall needs art. Um. I make art. I make BIG art. Then girlchild says, “You can’t put anything with boobs on there.” Huh? “I don’t want boobs in the living room.” Sweetheart, there’s boobs within sight of the living room already, pointing out the existing Kathy quilts that hang around the house. “That’s not the living room. No boobs in the living room.” Well. Huh. Whatever. I may or may not listen to her. I know why. She has friends over and has to explain her mom’s art. I’ve heard her do it. It’s amusing. I’m sure it’s not amusing for her.

I’ve only hung one piece of art back up so far (mostly because they’re buried in my room at the moment). Plus I need to solve TV and bookshelf problems first…you see the piles of books. One pile is “outtahere,” one is “don’t know what to do with you,” one is “box it up for later dealings,” and the last one is “belongs in the bookshelf next to the fireplace.” So yeah. They’re not going away until I get my act together. Again. Still. But it’s getting there.


All That I Know Is I’m Breathing…*

July 24, 2014

Another maliversary approaches. I feel my brain retracting even…pulling away from whatever hurts it, trying to protect itself, curling up in a ball like a roly poly. I keep throwing things at it to fix it…a hike…damn knee really hurt in the last mile, so I sent a message to the doctor…basically along the lines of NO. I’m not willing to stop hiking. Because being outside is a good thing. I can breathe out there. I don’t have to be in a room with myself and all that evil depression poison gas just rolling around the room. I can breathe outside. I can look for miles and see the sun set and the bugs fly and the branches reach out and grab me and I trip over a rock. And that is REAL. And I can almost find Kathy in there. Because it’s hard for me to find her. I’ve been looking for a year, and maybe that’s what makes me cry. Because she’s lost and I can’t get her on a regular basis. I put my hand out and she tries to grab it and it just slips out and I lose her again. Over and over again. Every week or so, she’s gone again. Sometimes I find her in my sketchbook. I find her when I’m writing these days. Seriously. The same brain that draws also writes a book.

I wrote almost 2000 words tonight in less than 45 minutes. What the fuck IS that? I don’t even know where it comes from. I can’t manage it. I just sit and it vomits itself out of my head into Google Docs. At this rate, I might have a whole book ready for editing by Christmas. A book. Was I planning on writing a book? When did that happen? I’m writing a sci fi book. Weird shit.

So Tuesday before the hike, I trimmed four quilts and cut out the bindings and sleeves. Then I came home after the hike and managed to trim and cut out bindings and sleeves for the other six quilts.

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Yowza. Now that’s a binding (it’s actually in the quilt…in his feather tips). HEY. I like my fabric.

That’s actually quite crazy, because I didn’t start until after 10 PM. I was talking on the hike about having to reset my clock for school soon. I really can’t be doing these late nights. But I am having a hard time with that sleep thing. It’s 1:30 AM now and I am wide awake (I’m editing now and it’s after 2 AM). I know I need to be up at a reasonable hour tomorrow (it’s not tomorrow any more…it’s today), but I can’t get a handle on that part of my brain. It’s in major rebellion mode. It yells, “Fuck you!” on a regular basis. OK. Whatever. I had to be up early this morning, so I took a nap at some point, around 5 PM. Maybe 30 minutes. Then I got up and did stuff.

So I trimmed and picked bindings until after midnight.

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This one, this fabric, wasn’t in the quilt again. The darker blacks weren’t dark enough when it came to bindings. They were fussy or too linear. So I picked that weird cellular one again. It worked well…

This one, I tried the orange, but it was too much, so I went for the blue.

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That’s the bird from the Mammogram quilt.

Then this one. I wanted the darkest purple, which is actually the background fabric for the Mammogram quilt, but I couldn’t find my stash of it. I looked everywhere…for over half an hour. Finally I gave up and found a variegated batik that I think will work. The patterned one is for the sleeve. It wasn’t quite right for the binding.

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Purple is really fussy. It goes wrong really quickly. Is it some sort of irony that purple is one of my favorite colors? Nope. That’s like the core of me…I’m purple at the core.

This one obviously needed black…but which one?

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I have tons of this black fabric…it is in most of the eyeballs in my quilts for some reason…the hint of not-black, not-white. I have over a yard of it and the average quilt uses a square inch of this fabric. I will be 70 years old and still be using this fabric.

I hope I’m still making art at 70. Please let me still be making art then.

This one also wanted that purple that I couldn’t find, so I finally settled for the other purple…which honestly, was probably the better choice.

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You’ll know when I actually get it on there.

For quilts this small, I do a super-skinny binding, maybe 1/4″. Of course, to get an approximate 1/4″ binding, I cut 1 7/8″. Fold in half, because it’s easier to sew a binding like that anyway, and sew a scant 1/4″. A really SCANT 1/4″.

I did a lot of moving furniture and books and honestly a knick-knack culling this morning after my fillings. I think there’s a Home Depot or maybe even a Lowe’s trip in my future. With boychild. Because I think he will be in charge of something. Shelves and TV installation. I think we will put it on the wall on an arm thing rather than use a big honking piece of furniture. But that is MORE decision-making. Have I told you about my troubles with the decisionmaking thing? Yup. It’s an issue.

Then I started sewing bindings on right around when the plumber showed up. I had multiple problems and he handled all of them cheaply and efficiently. He’s my new best friend. Well, at least when it comes to plumbing. He’s cheap and quick and honest. Can’t beat that. Plus he can’t do math, so he trusts MINE. Is he NUTS? OK, there’s an app for that. (plumber math)

I got the first three done while he was here…

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It’s not like they’re huge, but I have to sew the bindings and the sleeves by machine and then pin everything down for hand-stitching…on average, these were taking about 15 minutes at this stage.

I got numbers 4 and 5 done before I needed to cook dinner…and then I did 6 after I did dinner, exercise bike, AND meditation. Gotta be impressed…

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I hate sewing bindings on. I do like how the orange looks on number 5.

The bigger ones were taking 20-22 minutes at this stage. Here’s 7 and 8…

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Yup. There’s two more. But it was after midnight at that point, and I wanted to write this blog. So I sat at the computer and got distracted by the damn storywriting. So I didn’t start this post until after 1 AM. Kinda crazy if you ask me. But I only wrote for about 45 minutes…and I wrote a LOT. Where is my brain? I really don’t know. It’s writing a book.

Part of this stage was pinning them all down.

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These are almost done. I have life drawing in the morning. Remember how I was going to go every week during summer? Yeah. I know. I’ve made it once. Tomorrow will be twice. I’ll try again a few times before school starts. So these are for my stitching meeting in the afternoon. I honestly don’t know how long it will take to hand-stitch one. That’s why I’ve been so crazy-anal about keeping track of the time for each quilt. I want to make sure I’m charging a reasonable price and NOT screwing myself over. What that means is that the smallest ones are at about 2 hours total work without the handsewing…and the larger ones are over 5 hours.

My plan is to finish all 10. Then photograph them and put them on this site with prices and sizes. Then the people who have expressed an interest will have a chance to purchase based on where they are in line. Then whatever’s left…I’ll put them up here and on Etsy if I have to. If there’s one that sells and someone else wants one like it (because reproducing the exact fabrics might be difficult), then I would do those as a commission, which is basically that you know the price ahead of time and you agree to pay it, because I’m not making any more of these unless there’s a guaranteed purchaser. No offense, but these don’t rock my boat.

Then again, not much DOES rock my boat. But I need to start quilting the other two. My goal is to get Mammogram AND Menopause (not its real name) quilted by August 2 (major soccer tournament that weekend). I might be a little crazy. I think I can do it though. I need to do the bindings for two more of these small ones, so maybe an hour tomorrow. Then I can start quilting Mammogram, which I expect to take about 7 hours or so. Then another 20 hours or so for Menopause. Then I can get the bindings started and contact my photographer, while I start tracing the gender equality quilt (yes, that means I need to finish the damn drawing. Yes. I know that.).

I had a name for one of the quilts that will come after gender equality, but I’ve lost it. Dammit.  It’s in the lyrics of something I was listening to tonight. (doesn’t help)

But I wrote 2000 words of the book. I’m not possessed when I write. I’m not here, certainly. I just fucking write. It’s all there in my head. Spilling out. How do I explain that to anyone? I just don’t know.

I can’t tell you how often I feel like I am an alien species.

The title of the blogpost came from Ingrid Michaelson’s Keep Breathing

I’m trying. I can do the breathing thing. Meditation helps, I guess. But it’s kind of amazing how little my brain is involved with drawing and writing. It’s not conscious. It just IS.


Flail Day

July 22, 2014

I’m a fan of nominating one day of the month (hell, one day of the WEEK, why don’t we?) as Flail Day…the day when we completely neglect everything we should do, all our set plans for the day, blow it all off, don’t even shower until we have to, wear pajamas most of the day, and don’t do anything real at all. Keep saying we’re going to get up as soon as we finish this or that, then look at the clock and realize it’s after midnight.

Yes, I realize many people designate the weekend as their flail days, but I’ve never been able to do that…oh, that’s not true. In the early married days, with no kids, Sundays were often flail days. Sit around and watch home-improvement television while reading the paper, claiming we were planning a trip to Home Depot, but just having another cup of tea instead until it was dinner time.

Yesterday was a Flail Day. I couldn’t get my brain to wake up, let alone my body. Boychild and I managed to fill most of one bookshelf (alphabetized even!), but I then flailed all over the place about any other moving decisions. I did finally get to Costco, but only after I had spent 2 hours in the vet’s office (itchy dog), which seems to have cured Flail Day tendencies. I think it’s because I read 300 blogposts about other people who were doing so much MORE than me. Or something. Maybe it just wore off. I really got mostly nothing done yesterday…and today I feel guilty about that. Lame? Yup.

Except I know when I do that it’s because there’s a reason. A need. There’s some reason I need to keep the brain distracted and doing totally lame stuff. There’s stuff in there that wants to come out and it’s just gonna hurt. Or make things worse. I’ve had a few people say to me something recently about “going backwards”. I guess there is no clear forward movement to recovering from depression. It’s a wandering trail, up and down, mostly down, until at some point you realize that might have been an up.

My up yesterday? Leaving Costco with the girlchild, I decided to RIDE the cart…like a scooter. I got that behemoth moving through the parking lot and almost hit a Jeep. (whoops). Looked back and girlchild has her hand in front of her face and is trying to both keep from laughing out loud and totally dissociate herself from her mom. So I kept going…because it was fun. And it didn’t tip over, more importantly. That shit? That’s almost the old Kathy.

I did manage to quilt the last of the ten birds last night…

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The next step is to trim and bind the fuckers. Tells you kinda how I feel about them at the moment. It’s OK…it’s how I feel about most of my quilts at this stage.

So I started trimming and cutting out bindings and sleeve fabrics…I wasn’t very creative with the first one, because I thought anything else would detract from the bird…

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I was a bit more out there with this one…

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although that fabric is in the bird…unlike this one…

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which totally isn’t. That’s because the two darker blacks in the bird both have straight lines in the patterns, and on skinny little bindings, that’s just asking for trouble. There’s no way they’re going to line up, and that’s just going to be distracting.

The binding and sleeve were two different fabrics for this one…

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Because there wasn’t very much left of either one.

I might get around to doing the others tonight…I’m hiking tonight and taking the girlchild with me for the first time with this group. Should be interesting. It’s warm out…ugh. That’s not so interesting. In fact, I need to go chase down clothes and flashlights and crap like that. I’m planning on getting all the bindings sewn on, the machine part anyway, today and tomorrow (that might be a problem, but we’ll see) and then handsewing at Thursday and Sunday’s meetings. Meanwhile, I can start quilting the Mammogram quilt and taping and drawing the rest of the gender equality quilt. Plus I really should put everything away, but I really don’t know what to do with most of it. That’s a problem. Maybe just get it out of my bedroom and pile it up in the entryway? Sigh.

Tomorrow also includes such fun activities as getting two fillings fixed and having the plumber visit. There are probably better ways to spend my day.

Meanwhile, I’m dropping the ball on multiple things that I really should be doing. Such is my mental state. Distracted and fucked up. Flail Day.


Kicking Gratitude’s Ass…

July 21, 2014

I’m trying to tie my brain down to writing at the moment. It’s like a balloon floating around the room. Grab it and pull it down.

At counseling, we talked about trying to shut the part of my brain up that wants to be sad, or more like can’t get out of being sad. I’d hate to think I actually want that, but I do seem to have a hard time shaking it. There are about a million gratitude rituals online. It’s kind of annoying when you’re depressed to see all of them and realize, yes, you should be grateful that you have food and a house and the internet and enough fabric to make your crazy art quilts. Yeah. I know. I get that. But we decided I might be able to shut that brain part up by throwing those gratitude things at it…like, hey! You have nice new carpet and a freshly painted living area (see, that part of my brain starts freaking out about putting everything away, and I don’t blame it, because that’s a pretty overwhelming THING looming over me. So I do a little every day, and boychild follows me down the hall and just picks stuff up and helps me, not a word.). Walk in the house and tell yourself how grateful you are…narrow vision, so you don’t see any of the piles or mess. Because that just fucks up the gratitude right there. (Are people who are doing these gratitude things just like total Pollyannas? I don’t get it.)

So yesterday I managed to keep badness away (mostly) with distraction and distance. I’m never sure if those are healthy. It seems like I’m not really dealing with my feelings and issues when I just push them further away. Not dealing with YOU. Go AWAY. I distract you with a book, with words.

So today, I realized it was sinking, the mood, that is…sinking like the Titanic, with all the pretty boys slipping under the water to save the pretty girls. Yup. So I said to myself, “Self, as the bad things assault you, bring up something good.” Now this was not easy. I hate grocery shopping, and I had to really work at the positive thoughts in the grocery store. Brussels sprouts were a positive thought, but then the pork chops tried to drag me down, so I had to boost myself with a dose of cornmeal, brand-new box, no bugs. And when they didn’t have the pita bread I normally use, I psyched myself out about all the positive aspects of the NEW pita bread. Look…it’s BIGGER. For less money. But then the cost of grapes pulled me back under until she told me I had saved $16 using the online coupons. Damn. OK.

I swear. My brain can be really dumb. It’s really not. It’s sitting over there, ankles crossed, leaning up against a column in the store, arms crossed on my chest, giving me that look. “You think I don’t know what you’re doing? It’s not working.” Fuck you, brain.

You know it’s bad, though, when you start crying on the way home and you start telling yourself, “but you have a car full of groceries,” and THAT makes you cry harder? Wow. That’s evidence of depression winning out over those gratitude rituals. Again, I keep saying this…depression, she’s a bitch and she doesn’t give a shit about your internet memes. She’s gonna kick your ass. “I’m thankful for…” Oh shit. Fuck that. Just grab another book, or meditate some more, or draw, because that’s all that really works. I’m grateful for my ability to draw knives stabbing into eyeballs, because that’s how it feels every day. At least I can communicate that.

You know me, though. I’m a bitchy fighter myself. I’m in numb mode again…after crying all the way through one of the quilted birds…

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I don’t know why. I just was having moments in my brain of pure unadulterated waves of sadness. So. I guess quilting equals crying? I kept trying, “Oh look, you’re almost done with number 8! You can do bindings tomorrow and maybe be done with these things next week sometime.”

Yeah. That didn’t help. I did another quilted hill on this one…it shows up more than the other one because of the lighter fabric. I seriously don’t know how I quilted this. I couldn’t see, I was crying so hard. What the fuck? Just turn that off. You can’t tell me there’s a gratitude meme that will kick that ass.

Then I did number 9.

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Holy fuck. This one kicked my butt. I think the thread broke about 20 times. I don’t know why. I tried many things.

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Swearing did not help. I did some funky quilting on this one too. I just breathed deep, tied off where it broke, and started again. There’s really no point in getting all hung up on thread breakage. It happens. It’s not karma (don’t fucking believe in karma). It just is. It happens. Don’t stress about it. Clean stuff, replace stuff, rethread. Then move on.

Just one more bird left. Hopefully tomorrow. Then trim them all down and try to find binding fabrics. I have two meetings in the next week where I can get a lot of hand-stitching done. It would be smart to have them ready for that. The smaller ones are at about an hour and a half of work, and the larger ones have hit almost 4 1/2 hours.

I went to the book club meeting today that was voting on all the books for the rest of the year. I’m not sure why, since my vote seemed mostly useless. I really went to vote against the biographies (not a fan) and the books I’d already read. Yeah. Well, I think they’re reading three books I’ve already read (that’s what comes of being 20 years older than most of them…I’ve had more TIME to read all those books…there was actually an argument about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance…now I think I need to reread it.) and there’s at least one biography. It’s OK…this is the meeting that is hardest for me to actually attend, especially in the Fall, so I’m not that worried. I stitched through the whole thing. I started stitching because my brain was wigging out. I did about 60 french knots. Forgot to take a picture.

There was also soccer…

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(Please tell me you don’t think the other team’s uniforms are as weird-looking as I thought they were…reminded me of band uniforms).

Luckily, they didn’t get into the semifinals. Oh wait, am I supposed to say that out loud? Probably not.

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I really wasn’t in the mood for multiple games today. She did well again today. I think she’s getting her soccer legs back on the ground…

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I’m glad. Now I just wish she would do her dishes without squawking about it and get her summer homework done. And clean her room (if I’m going pie-in-the-sky, I might as well go all out).

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Yeah. I know. Whatever. This picture? We nicknamed this tournament the “sluts and skanky hoes tournament.” There was a lot of swearing, pushing, pulling, grabbing, and generally bitchy behavior…amusing because it’s not like this is the World Cup, ladies. Get over yourselves. Why get injured before the real season? So the girlchild is in fact whacking that girl in this photo because of whatever shit she was pulling beforehand. She’s a bit vindictive.

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There was definitely some physicality in this tournament.

She has college prep camp all week, with college coaches coming to watch them practice and play. But she doesn’t care about any of the schools, even the one I suggested as a backup school…so whatever. We have next weekend off, then we have another tournament. Hate the summer because of all the tournaments. Luckily the next one is not a traveling one…that’s the one AFTER that. Hate sitting in hotel rooms and having to go to dinner with all the parents. There is this one mom who has known me for ages and constantly calls me Kathryn, which I associate with being in trouble with my mom. I’ve tried to tell her to call me Kathy, and she just hasn’t processed that request. It’s like she goes out of her way. OK, I know she’s not doing it on purpose. I keep meaning to say, “Hey, just call me Kathy,” but I think I HAVE already done that. Sigh. It’s just how I feel about the whole traveling-with-the-team experience. Between spending time with the girlchild when she’s tired and cranky without any buffers (her dad will be at another tournament with HIS team) and spending time with parents who can only talk about their girls’ prospects in college soccer, it just makes me want to scream and rip my hair out.

So yeah. Fun stuff. I think I need an outlet for all my emotional crap. Oh wait. That’s my art. Or writing. Or the blog.

I should be drawing tomorrow night…hopefully. Finishing that gender equality piece. Finishing the birds and putting bindings on them. Then starting the quilting on the other two. Seriously, just get it done. There’s where the brain needs to focus. Cry while you’re doing it, if you have to…but just do it. Gratitude? I’m thankful for my over-functioning tear ducts. They keep everything hydrated.


How to Spend a Weekend

July 20, 2014

This is not recommended: it’s a soccer tournament weekend, so there’s lots of driving back and forth and sitting on fields and a lack of mental space. Tournaments put me in a weird frame of mind. It’s like a stasis. Can’t get anything done.

Girlchild is doing OK, playing full time now. She’s still trying to get back into shape, and her back gets sore.

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I wrote most of yesterday’s blogpost while waiting for this game to start.

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Then we came home, and I decided to pinbaste the Menopause quilt, because I had a chunk of time. Plus I wasn’t sure I had enough batting, so I thought I might need to go shopping. I knew I could piece a backing if I needed it. Luckily I seemed to have tons of batting (when was I efficient enough to do that?). My entryway is still a disaster, but I just shoved all the paint and carpet out of the way, and laid the backing and batting out on floor…

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Then I laid the top out for pinbasting…

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I know some people don’t pinbaste, but I can’t spray in the house…don’t really have anywhere else to lay it out flat. It works for me at the moment. Here’s the pinbasted face…

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So now it’s ready for quilting as well. I used one of my handdyed fabrics for the backing. It wasn’t very nice anyway, and I’m using up fabric. That’s not a bad thing.

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Then I got Bird number 7 quilted; I actually put a hill in there in the quilting, although you can’t really see it.

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I started number 8, but didn’t finish. Then we went back to soccer…

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This is a college showcase tournament, so all the college coaches are showing up to watch the games, but girlchild’s not interested in the schools that are showing up, so we really don’t care.

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I stitch birds while I’m there…the other birds…

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It’s interesting how the games don’t matter much any more. We just want her to enjoy the game..

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Then I spent 3.5 hours at a writing workshop. Boba tea is too sweet. I need to write more. I don’t know when (or if) I’ll be ready to have other people read what I write. I’m so inured to reactions to the quilt art. It’s such a core part of me, but if you don’t like it, I really don’t care. I have to make it. The writing is the same way as I’m doing it, but the convention seems to be to have people read chapters etc. At some point, I’ll probably get there if I keep writing.

I’m sitting on another soccer field this morning writing this, listening to the other parents chat about their kids and their summer and college plans. This is one of the places I feel most alien. Not so the writing workshop. Not sure what that means.

Girlchild and I reviewed 7 options for tonight’s dinner, and I think we’re flying to Paris this afternoon. Well, we wish we were anyway. We might have to revise our plans…


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