Walking in the Dark…

October 8, 2015

I took the dog for a long walk that ended up being in the dark last night. Apparently she doesn’t like to walk in the dark. I don’t mind. It’s cooler. The cars get annoying on certain parts of this walk, but that’s only at the very end. Most of it was fine, except I had to put her back on the leash, because she was way too interested in the bunnies, who were coming out with the waning light. I had spent all day with people, trying to get them to do work or listen to me, so it was nice to not have to talk to anyone. Just walk. Just look. Just listen to music. OK, I had to talk to the dog a few times. She gets nervous sometimes. If and when I’m ready to hike with other humans again, I will. For now, I need the silence.

Then I came home and I didn’t even sit down. I cooked from scratch and THEN I sat down. After food, I graded papers, because I’m so far behind. Again. Still. Hate that. Hate how it feels. But I tried to be efficient. It takes 2 1/2 hours for me to grade one medium-sized assignment. The Unit 1 journals that I’m grading at school? About 2 hours per period, so 10 hours. I had a couple people tell me that my job is not hourly, that it’s salaried, so I can’t complain about all the extra hours I do, but I know what salaried people get in terms of salary and perks, and I don’t get that. So it’s not OK. And I don’t get paid during the summer, which is hard. I work as a teacher almost every single night, every Sunday and many times Saturday, and almost every holiday. Sometimes the workload weighs on me so heavily, I wish I could be a barrista…just make coffee all day on my feet (I’m already on my feet all day) and then come home and slough off the job and not have to BE my job for another 3 or 4 hours.

Which is why the art is so important. It’s where I get that sense of peace that I need to get up the next morning and sometimes drag myself to school, to yet another meeting where they will take 90 minutes to say in one sentence what we want to hear: Yes, we will help this needy child by providing services. Holy god, yes. Say that more.

I ironed well last night…not long, just well. About an hour and 10 minutes on art…I ironed the more complicated heart in hands…

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It had quite a few fabrics because the hands had fingers. What the fuck was I thinking? Simple? Not quite.

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They’re ready to be cut out. Trying to decide if I’m going to take these to my stitching meeting tonight or just take grading.

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Because either I’m going to grade there or I’m going to come home and grade. I can grade there and then come home and cut stuff out, or if I have enough energy, I can iron the last one, which is bigger and more complicated.

Then I did the owl…

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I did three owls last year, but they were all the same pattern, just three different colorways. This is a different drawing.

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We’ll see if he’s popular.

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Kitten was in there the whole time, my inspiration for most of the cats in my quilts. Before her, it was Juniper, also a calico. Apparently I have a calico personality. Friendly, but a little feisty…known to bite or attack if provoked.

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Here though she is kneading my batting into submission.

OK, another early start. Tomorrow is a field trip. I’d like to say I’m going to the gym tomorrow after school, but I suspect the field trip is gonna kick my ass and I’m going to come home and grade stuff until I can stand up again. At least this time I will have leftovers in the house if I need them.

One more to iron, and then I can start cutting them out. I’m hoping to be ironing them together next week.

Just a Thought…

October 7, 2015

I have not achieved school/work/life balance yet this school year. I’m either grading or working on some freelance job or making art, but it seems a decision to do one means I can’t keep up with the others. And I tend to prioritize the freelance stuff first, because…deadlines, and then grades and then art, or sometimes art and then I’m horrendously behind on grading (like I have been the entire school year so far). I come home too tired and then have to cook or deal with crap and then I look at the clock and it’s holy-fuck-o’clock and I need to think about sleep. So I might desperately spend a whopping 26 minutes doing art stuff at night (literally, that’s how much time I had last night).

I did the next cat…

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Decided to make her a ginger. Not quite a tortoiseshell…not dark enough by far. But more like Rusty, a rescue cat we had years ago, back when we let cats roam. She was a coyote dinner at some point. Too bad. She was a sweetheart. I don’t let the cats out any more.

Rusty had more pieces than I was expecting…

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So I did a gray, a black, and an orange kitty, and a couple of calico-types.

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Some blue eyes and some green eyes. I think there’s only one more cat, and it’s a weird one. A Kathy quilt for sure. And there’s an owl and another heart in hands. I would have done another smaller one last night, but the last three aren’t small. They’re complicated. So I knew it would be another 45 minutes and that was well past midnight, so I stopped. I have another freelance job I’m working on this week. I’m trying to get enough money together to make the first of about three college payments I have to do for the boychild. I think if I spread them out instead of trying to do three months in a row, I’m going to be better off. It’s just too hard for me to come up with that lump sum in one go.

This is another early morning arrival day for me, unfortunately. I have 21 minutes until I need to leave for school. Yes, I try to write every day before school. For a while, I did it at night because it cleared my brain and I could actually sleep, but this seems to work better now. I can set goals for the day and try to wake up (I really don’t morning well). I eat my breakfast and drink my tea while I write. I try to reflect on the last 24 hours, on what I got done and how I feel about it. Ugh. I feel tired. And stressed. And overworked. Progress reports go home tomorrow and parents will start to panic. One parent yesterday wanted to know why we didn’t contact all parents when a kid didn’t turn one piece of work in (um. Lady. I like to sleep occasionally.). And then proceeded to tell us how busy she was, too busy to check her kid’s grade. Really? It was an interesting meeting. There was another one after school. Another one today. Don’t get me wrong; I love when parents give a shit. But give a shit and take some responsibility yourself for your child, and then at the age of 12? Make them take some too. I will make these kids more capable in the classroom. Or I will die trying.

So. When I get home from what is likely to be a contentious, stressful meeting today, I will hopefully have the energy (and time before dark) to take the dog for a walk, and then quickly do dinner, and do some grading, because I need to. And then I’m hoping to iron the last three quilts. It’s probably 2 hours of ironing, so I should start by 9:30. Just to be safe. There’s the schedule I need in my head. And honestly, if I have that? I am a million times more likely to actually DO it.

Just a thought.

Would Have Been Nice…

October 6, 2015

I need to leave for work in 26 9 minutes. Early day due to a parent meeting and having to be on duty every day. Ugh. Hate duty. So I should be writing faster than I am at the moment.

Yesterday, I met the other artist who will be in a show with me at Grossmont College in January. He has some paintings, but mostly sculptural work using brightly colored tin…very colorful and cool…kinda like a tin equivalent of my quilts in terms of color. I think the two types of work will go well together. You’ll have to come to the opening. There will be lemonade and cookies (it’s on a school campus…no wine). So I have to start thinking about what to put in it. She wanted to know how many quilts I had, like 5 or 10 (um. I have 90. Some are traveling though.). So I’m fine for content. I just have to choose. I have some time for that though.

So I spaced out for a little bit after all that last night…tired. But then managed to get some of the smaller quilts ironed down onto fabric. These don’t take long. I think the fabric ironing on this one was maybe 20 minutes, and that’s because I waffled about one of the fabrics. The harder part is deciding what kind of cat coloring it should have. I might do one all in bright colors, now that I think about it. But not this one…

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Then there was a simplified version of the heart in hands I did last year…there’s actually a more complicated one as well, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. It’s got about 25 pieces, compared to the last big quilt with almost 1900 pieces.

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Even then, though, I do take my time to find the fabrics I want. You can see I have the other quilt pulled up on my iPad, just for comparison’s sake.

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It’s not exactly the same. But I did use that weird lollipop-looking fabric again.

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This cat is all grays mostly…and a little white. Like Limbo, back when he was alive. I tend to make calicos for some reason. But I’ve had cats of all colors.

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Here’s the grays. She got blue eyes.

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Then this one had to be a calico…too many color spots on her. She’s got a whopping 38 pieces in her.

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So a tad bit more complicated than the first, which had 23 pieces.

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I think these were hers. Not sure now. It was late. I was sorta fascinated with the piles of fabrics I’d used. I don’t always think clearly when it’s late and I’m tired.

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I was going to give up before I got to this one, but I’m glad I didn’t, because my brain kicked in and reminded me how I liked the little black bird last year. Hey. Cats can be black! No way (I have a black cat sleeping in my red fabric drawer right now. She would prefer the blues, but those are still closed because I haven’t used a lot of blue yet in the cats…strangely.).

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So a black kitty with lots of patterns in her…

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I guess they could be male. I just think of them all as girls. Weird cat sexism. Here’s all the cut-out pieces.

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So three cats and a hand/heart combo were cut out last night. I didn’t actually spend much time last night, just under two hours, in case you’re keeping track. And I had to really push to get the second hour out of me. It was a long day. It rained and the dog was a mudball when I picked her up, and then after I dried her off and cleaned out the car where she deposited mud everywhere, then she went in the pool, so she was dripping wet again. All before I had to drive downtown and find parking and act human. Hard at the end of the day, honestly. Plus that whole thing where I have to cook for myself. Ugh. I need a wife. Or an assistant. I hate that being a wife has that connotation: the one who takes care of everything, cleaning, house, cooking. Because I’m not married, haven’t been for years, but I’m still the one who takes care of everything: Christmas presents, flights home, paperwork, tax forms (12 texts from the girlchild this morning, as she gets ready to start work for the first real time). Sometimes it just wears you down being the “wife.” I’m not even a wife. And I’m OK with that part, don’t get me wrong…but it would be nice to have someone else do the cooking once in a while. Or go to the grocery store with you. Or dry off the dog, because you have to go downtown for a meeting. All those things would have been nice.


October 5, 2015

So the studio is relatively clean, in that the piles of fabric are put away (well, mostly…it gets harder and harder to find room for them sometimes). I straightened up some of the chaotic piles that live and breed in here. I even threw out a bunch of school stuff that I will never use, but felt guilty about, because the district was so psychotic about it 5 years ago, and now have dropped it almost completely. It’s not like I was going to read through those silly pieces of paper again anyway. I should remember that after the next PD (which, whoops, is today…and which I don’t want to go to, because none of the courses are really something I need, and they don’t interest me either). As everything flips online anyway, I don’t need as many samples of what kids might have done…or if I do, they are online and I should save those. I tried to do that last year too…save examples of each assignment where students might need that. Although often if you give them an example, they just try to copy it. So maybe it’s better to throw them in cold.

The studio got cleaned in the middle of a smallish copyediting job…small in that it wasn’t a lot of words or work, but it was significant to me because it was my first in many years, since I started teaching basically, and it was also online for the first time for me. I was worried, but it was easy. My brain knows exactly what to do when I edit. It took about 30 seconds for that editor brain to kick in and start a style sheet. So that was good. And I even now have an Excel spreadsheet for invoices (in the old days, I had no such thing). I started with the next number on the list, 283. So yeah. I wrote 282 invoices for Harcourt/Elsevier when I worked for them…usually 2-3 per book, depending on the length. I think I figured at one point that I had worked on over 65 books. Anyway, the job wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t hard…just time-consuming and eyeball-straining. I actually liked the ability to use technology to make the job easier…searching for corrections that needed to be made throughout the manuscript was a piece of cake.

So hopefully there will be more of those. Grades are due Tuesday. I input a lot of stuff Friday night, but I still need to finalize the actual progress-report grade with effort and behavior grades and comments if I have time for those. Some day we will be allowed to write our own comments. This system doesn’t allow it. My last school district allowed teachers to write 3 or 4 of their own comments, although “lazy butt” is generally still frowned upon, as is “can’t think for himself” and “please don’t send sugar with your child” or “why do you let them stay up all night playing video games?”. So it might not be particularly useful if I can’t write what I really think. Or sometimes, honestly, “I think your kid is awesome and you did a great job raising them. Thank you.” No really. There are some of those.

So last night, after all the school stuff that I wanted to do was done (well, plus some I didn’t want to do, but did anyway), I finally managed to touch fabric without the purpose being to put it away.

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Look! It’s fabric being chosen for a tiny cat quilt! Oh yes. Finally. I drew these all in what…June? July? Numbered them all. You know, it’s funny. I have an app for that. Seriously. I use a task-managing app to keep track of how much time I spend on stuff, including writing and copyediting. It makes life so much easier. So I numbered all the little quilts in early July. And then I traced the Wonder Under in early July as well. I cut it all out around mid-July. And then I put them in a box and squirreled them away until now, because two giant projects jumped the line. Which is fine. It may actually make more sense in terms of being able to sell these to finish them in October, with Christmas and other gift-giving holidays just around the corner. So I’m OK with it.

And yes, I only finished picking fabrics for one last night. I was significantly tired from the weekend and working so many hours. It’s not physical, but it’s mentally draining. My brain starts to rebel and wants some art and movies and comic books and whatever else it can get besides more workity work work. So it is an incredible relief to turn around to the ironing board, flick the iron on, and start climbing around on the floor looking for the perfect pink for a cat’s nose. I’m hoping to do more of that tonight, but I have an art-related meeting after school and then grades still have to be finished. If I’m incredibly efficient, I might get it done during my prep period, but I’m remembering that my before- and after-school duty starts this week (giant Ugh Sigh), so I will have to be remarkably efficient to make sure each day that I’m ready for the next. I hate duty. I really do. And there’s some chance of rain today during that as well…which is good for San Diego, but bad for my lack of dampness. It also means I need to make an attempt to leave earlier for school each day, because on my regular schedule, I will have a whopping ten minutes to pee and set up my classroom for 1st AND 2nd period, and that sounds like an issue to me. Damn. I hate this.

But…art has restarted and that’s a good thing. I know. I took a week off. Sort of. Finished one on Monday, September 29…then cleaned up all week…and started the next one on Sunday, October 4. That IS a long break for me actually. How did I manage no art all those days? No wonder I’ve been cranky. Remember that. Shit, I know that. It just wasn’t in the cards those days.

A Small Break…

October 3, 2015

I worked 16 hours yesterday. I spent 8 hours, maybe more, at school. Then I went home and sat on the couch with a cat, the dog’s head on my feet, and I graded stuff and fought our grading system, which kept crashing and locking me out. But I got some stuff updated in there, probably enough for progress reports anyway. I might do more, depending on the next few days. I didn’t actually do my progress reports. Minor issue. Then I copyedited until midnight, maybe later. I think my eyeballs were unseating from their sockets at the end of it all. I couldn’t see straight, that’s for sure.

No art. And I’m cranky about it. But if I can finish the editing today, maybe I can make art tomorrow. Or grade more stuff. Because I’m not caught up. I never am. I got an email about a show I entered recently, one where I made a piece specifically for the show, and they are delaying the notifications about 3 weeks because there were so many entries. Damn. And I know the space…it’s not particularly large. But whatever. It’s an awesome piece, so it will go somewhere. Unlikely that it will get in…suspect there will be lots of dramatic and pretty things, and mine is…well…I don’t know what it is. In your face? I love it, but whatever.

It’s October, usually my favorite weather month. Not my favorite school month…too long! October and April or March, depending on where Spring Break hits. I think it’ll be April this year. But you get these cool breezes and vibrant blue Southern-California skies with fluffy white clouds bouncing around, and you can actually go outside without dripping sweat. Well, until next weekend, when it’s supposed to be 103 degrees! Oh well.

So what can I post here for pictures? I hate posts with no pictures. Maybe the drawings I’m considering for the next quilt? But then people will give me opinions! I don’t want those. Sorry. Guess that makes me sorta weird. I know all these artists who are sharing and asking questions, like what do you think about this color or that? And I’m like, well, I don’t care what you think. It’s in my head. I already know what I want.

My next-door neighbors, who actually built the house I live in as a spec house, are selling their house, which is a mirror image of mine. I feel kinda weird about that…I mean, this was the neighbor burping I was complaining about before, but they are a known quantity…occasionally loud, pirate parties where everyone is drunk and yelling ARRRR. And they would love to have me clean up my yard. I actually found a plan for my front yard that I like, all natives, drought-resistant, not grass. Now I just need manpower, money, etc. Yeah. So not happening. Oh well. If I keep barely watering that section, it will eventually be covered by the ice plant. I can see my neighbor up on the slope actually gardening. I usually only see him in bars, and he always recognizes me. Scary, because I’m never really sure if it’s him.

There’s that beautiful October breeze coming in the window, and what I need to do is do some more copyediting, and then probably run a couple of errands. I’m taking tonight off, which is a good thing, because my eyes hurt.

Today, this morning, Bathtub 5 is first on the list for the next big one…

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I’m finding it unbalanced though…needs something on the bottom, and I don’t know what that is. With the mood I’m in, it might be a dead body. Hmn. Now there’s a message.

This one is in 2nd…it needs to be made, but I don’t know if I can make it yet…

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Maybe it needs to fester some more.

And I originally pulled this one. But then it slipped to number 3.

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I like the other two better. I have to decide which one I want to spend 100 hours or so interacting with for the next few months. But today is not really the day I get to think about all that. I can let it all slurp around inside my brain, and one morning I will wake up and it will be decided. But I’m too stressed by work(s) to do that right now.

I just finished this…This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki…


I love that I can read a graphic novel quickly, just to give me a break.


I liked it…lots of adult drama on the edges while two preteens try to enjoy their summer vacation. Good topics, good art.

So with that, I will now dump art and reading and get on with one of my paying jobs…

It’s OK, Little Art Brain…

October 2, 2015

Sigh. I did OK last night, considering the level of exhaustion after Back-to-School Night. You can’t imagine how hard it is to remember all the kids’ names and periods and parents are demanding grades and reports and validation and holy crap. Two things I loved: My student from last year with two older brothers I also had, he brought his mom to see me again, whereupon I told her how awesome she and her boys were and thanked her for raising them. And he hugged me! Happy. Then the kid who was such a sweetheart in 7th grade who is now a junior who came with his sister and I swear, I barely recognized him and he was still a sweetheart. Going to college. Checking up on his sister. And then there’s all the kids who totally annoyed you and you never want to see them again, and they come back too, but they’re all grown up (ish) and sentimental about my class (I probably yelled at them constantly; that’s why I still remember their name. It came out of my mouth 7,000 times.).

But it’s a really long and exhausting day. I came home and parked myself on the couch and watched Elementary and graded papers and ordered a fucking pizza because are you fucking kidding me? I’m not cooking. And both kids were texting me at some point.

I did manage to revive eventually, though, and came in here and started copyediting this job that’s due Tuesday. It’s not as crazy as I thought it would be. I never copyedited on the computer…I worked in the old days, when everything was paper, but old habits die hard. I got into it quickly and worked fast. It’s actually an interesting topic, so that helps. She would be mad at me for the donut I just ate (the author), but hey, she didn’t live my last 24 hours.

Then I worked on Christmas shopping (the UK stuff has to go earlier) and getting flights for the kids to come home…managed one, but not the other, because I don’t know when to send her back (minor issue). Her flights are easier to get, though. She’s not flying into the boonies like her brother. After that, I printed stuff for school for the next unit, a lot of it. Still couldn’t find a couple of things, but I got most of them.

At that point, it was 11 PM. I know. Seriously. Not a lot of brain power or energy. But really, what I needed to do was grunt work anyway. I can’t start these little quilts until I clean up. It’s been since mid-July? Maybe? I can’t remember. I know the big piles of fabric came after I picked the fabrics for the Concrete quilt, so that was July 22-August 3. And then the piles grew.

A few days ago, we had this…

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You can see all those drawers are popped open from when I was searching for the right colors. And then if I don’t use them, I just stack them on top of the drawer, so it can’t close (and so cats are attracted to it). I had 10 drawers on this side that were chaos.


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Yeah, there’s still some stuff on the floor that needs handling, but it’s better. Much better.

I don’t have a before picture, but imagine a similar chaos in the shelves…

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And seriously, there’s getting to be too much fabric for me to store in here.

I still have all of these to put away…

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The blues are what’s killing me. I really have nowhere else to put them. I used how many blues in that 17-foot woman? And I still have an issue. I think I’m as efficient as I can be with the storage in here. The problem really is a matter of the size of the room, I think. Oh well. And I don’t know what to do with the upholstery fabrics from the recycling show we did. I don’t really ever want to use them again, except I’m a hoarder on the fabric level, and realize that shit comes in useful sometimes. So I’m debating those.

I did make progress, though, and that’s a good thing. Tonight I will have to grade and copyedit again, for more hours. And I’ll be copyediting and grading all weekend, because they’re both due on Tuesday and I have an art meeting on Monday and who knows if I’ll be allowed out of the house the rest of the weekend. It’s probably a good thing that I’m essentially antisocial, because I wouldn’t have time to be super-social with all this other crap anyway.

I do want to iron some stuff down tonight though. That means finishing the cleaning up part first, at least mostly. I mean, let’s not get crazy here. I have all these school files that I attempt to clean out on a regular basis (totally blew it off this summer), and they live in here…mostly on the floor because I don’t have time to refile them. As I go more and more electronic, it really is easier to toss this stuff. I keep samples of kids’ work. I keep a few things that I don’t have electronically. But I recycled a huge pile of Crap from Stupid Professional Development I Was Forced to Go to. You know? It deserved to die.

I also allowed myself to look at the requirements for the two shows I want to create pieces for in the upcoming months (there’s also a baby quilt in there…aack!). I put the sizes in my phone so I could keep them in my head (yes, I did just admit that my phone is an extension of my brain…in fact, sometimes I wish it really was). I’m letting the ideas slosh around in there until I can make a decision. I think it would be OK to be tracing Wonder Under for the next largish quilt while I was working on the smaller ones in here. I think it would be OK to be making art every day…it doesn’t really matter what it is.

In fact, I’m currently having a hard time persuading my art brain that (1) I need to go to work for the whole day because I’m a teacher and that pays the bills, (2) when I get home, I will have to grade a lot of papers because I’m behind (when am I not?) and progress reports are due), and (3) I have another paying job (or two) that need my attention before you’re allowed to fondle the fabrics. Art brain crawls into a corner, pulls a blanket over its head, and starts to sob.

It’s OK, little art brain. I’ll let you out later, in about 15 hours…just for a little bit. But once I get past the middle of next week, you can come out for REAL.

Switching Gears

October 1, 2015

Very slowly, I’m trying to switch gears. It takes a while to get the brain off that big-ass 163-hour project that has consumed me from the end of July (well except for the break in the middle when I let another giant project consume my brain, right?). Being an artistic vegetable for two whole days isn’t that dramatic. It FELT dramatic, but it’s really not.

Sunday night, I did manage to pull out a couple of big sketchbooks and run through them…a little bit. I liked this one and another two for the next bigger quilt. I need one done by the end of January, and then another smaller one by the end of February.

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I can do that, but I’m going to need to think about it now. I’m not ready for a big project yet, though. My brain is really fried by the crazy overlapping projects I just did. I have other work to do. I can’t just make art all the time nonstop, however much I’d like to. I would really like to. Yup. I would.

But not an option. I need money to pay for college. I need to stay semi-caught-up at my job (as much as any teacher is ever caught up). I need to clean my damn house.

But I did find the pile of little quilts that got put in this container sometime in July and have not seen the light of day since then. They used to each have their own container, but I needed like 20 of them for the big quilt, so they got co-opted. Under each drawing is the cut-out Wonder Under for that little quilt…this one has a whopping 23 pieces in it. After doing one with 1800+, it’s a relief.

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But my studio is still an absolute disaster area. I can’t start a new project without making some attempt to clean up in here. Probably that’s what’s slowed me down the last few days…the thought of cleaning.

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Sometimes cleaning is like a mind cleanser. It gives me the mental space from one project that I need to start the next one. Thirty minutes to an hour spent straightening up, putting stuff away, making a home for everything. I can be quite obsessive about that at times. Things sorted in boxes by color or number. It helps me get a handle on the crazy flip flops my art brain does.

Then I found enough bins for all those baby quilts and laid them out with their pieces of Wonder Under. See…now I feel organized.

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Shhh. I didn’t finish cleaning up the fabric. Don’t tell anyone. Maybe after back-to-school night I’ll find the energy. Ha! Yeah. Survival week. Sad but true. But I did come to realize there are two hearts with hands, there is one owl, and there are six cats of varying size and complexity and, honestly, weirdness. One is really weird. I don’t care. I want to make it anyway.

And I made it to the gym finally yesterday. I spent most of my time there texting my team about a demanding parent, my daughter about her essay thesis, and remembering at the last minute that I still had a clan attack I had to make (failed that one big time). Luckily, I had dinner leftovers in the fridge, because that would have been the end of it. I should have planned better for tonight, because coming home and cooking is gonna be a hard sell after being at work for 10 hours or so. Parents expect you to be highly functional, but I will have spent all day with your kids! Seriously, your expectations are crazy. I will need a serious caffeine fix and probably a donut. Which isn’t good for me. But I haven’t had a donut since…June? So I’m feeling OK about it.

OK. Work. The one that pays the bills. Gotta go there. Then maybe some cute little weird quilts will start happening. In between grades and copyediting. Yes, I’m grinding my teeth. Why do you ask?



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