Meditation Required

September 29, 2014

I like to plan my time out. You may have noticed that. I do it all the time. I think each day about what I will get done before school, what I can get done during my prep (I like to be efficient with that time…unfortunately, I often fail at efficiency). I think about if there’s anything I can get done during class and what I will do on the way home, running errands while I’m already out and about. I plan out the evening and night, telling myself I will get an hour of grading in here so I can do art there.

I do this every day. And almost every day, something comes along and blasts my plan all to hell. You’d think I would give up on the plan, but I do know that having the plan keeps me on task with projects like this, keeps me from flailing completely at school, keeps my to-do list from taking over the world (although it often feels like it already has). Time ticks and I’m holding on to the hand as it rolls around.

So yesterday was book club, and I didn’t go. I made that decision about 2 hours after girlchild woke me up for the first time, way too early, because I had stayed up to finish ironing the night before. I had too much to do. And then I offered to help the girlchild…

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who had to paint her parking space at school, a senior high-school tradition…

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That she was convinced wouldn’t take very long, but she’d been at it for like 5 hours by the time I showed up (mostly spent at Home Depot buying paint, apparently). When I showed up, she had penciled in all the letters, so I started painting.

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At some point, I sent her home for better brushes. I did all the words; she did the footprints.

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Two hours later, we were done. Was that in my plan? Fuck no.

It is what it is. Hey, so these are the leftover pieces of separated Wonder Under that I never matched up to anything. I find that somewhat disconcerting.

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But do I really care? Heck no. Move on.

I spent a lot of time grading papers yesterday too…and then I started cutting stuff out…

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It’s not going to be done by tomorrow.

Today is turning into a giant clusterfuck, with a possible stolen car and other crap to worry about. I’m currently sitting in a college presentation, giving me one more thing I have to persuade myself not to worry about.

Meditation tonight is required. Not optional. Cutting stuff out too.

Here’s a Burning Man Timelapse video…because someday I will go there. Seriously.


Maintain, Dammit. Maintain.

September 28, 2014

Deep breaths. Keep thinking of the positives. I finished ironing last night (it was 2 in the morning). It took 14 hours and 14 minutes to pick all those fabrics, about 3 hours more than I had predicted. At one point, all I had left were these…

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and I considered stopping, because it was freakin’ late and I was tired and I’ve been fighting a hormone/weather headache on and off for 4 days and it was back (it’s back now too…making me think stress is the third arm of it, the part whacking at my brain right now). But I thought…fuck. I’m ALMOST FUCKING DONE. Just do it. If that doesn’t tell you more about who and how I am, I don’t know what will.

Cutting out tree parts is a pain in the ass, because they take a huge piece of fabric and don’t fit together well. It’s time-consuming…

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and hard to find big enough pieces of fabric in my stash. But I did it. Ninety-four fabrics later…

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There they all are. Heavy on the grays, strangely. So I sort of met my deadline on that and now need to cut them all out by Tuesday. Ha! I might need to revise that.

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I’ve started, sure, but I am so freakin’ buried in schoolwork right now. Trying to tread water, keep head up and breathing. Deep breaths. Meditating every day at the moment, which yes, I should be doing anyway, but the fabric choosing was taking care of that mindset until Friday. Friday things started to implode in my head. I’m overwhelmed. I need to step back and make my lists and deal with one day at a time. I can’t lump it all together and try to deal with it all at once. I can’t even go Big Picture at the moment.

I’m 37 hours into this quilt. Cutting out should take a while. Apparently on a similarly sized quilt, it took 13 hours to iron and 15 to trim the fabrics. If that’s realistic and I have 13 hours to go, I’m not going to get anywhere near finished until next weekend. Then I’ll start ironing. Maybe that’s my goal: to be ready to iron sometime next weekend. (Kathryn: no hiking, reduce social events as much as possible? Fuck.) I’m really busting my butt on this and at work and it’s starting to show. I’m really incredibly tense (chiropractor this week!) and I have no mental release really. I’m so deep into the have-to list that I cannot get focus. This week is ugly too. They all are. Who am I kidding?

Anyway. College stuff is paid. Boychild still doesn’t have a job. Girlchild is currently waiting for me to come help her paint her parking spot (she’s a senior), but I have to go grocery shopping first. I remembered to buy dog food yesterday, but forgot the cat food. Midnight broke into the food cupboard in protest and ripped open the other cat food bag, the one she doesn’t like. I regularly have to duct tape holes in cat food bags because of her. I still have one class of tests to grade and I have 5 kids who don’t really read or write English who honestly need a curriculum at about a kindergarten level, but with 7th grade content. I haven’t fully planned this week’s lesson yet, and I’m about to blow off any connection to technology, just to save my sanity.

But I finished the God-Damned Fucking Ironing.

I am the crazy-haired woman all in black who is standing in the middle of the produce section at the grocery store in meditation pose, eyes closed, deep breathing. You should just walk around me. Maybe give me a hug while you do it.

The Vast Alone Space

September 27, 2014

I was going to post last night. I was doing OK. I went to the high school back-to-school night. I came home and exercised and ate and then I ironed. I cut stuff out when I hit the wall…the wall where I have no creativity left but I’m not tired enough to go to bed yet. I’m tired enough right now, but right now, I’m leaning up against the wall, waiting for the doors to open at House of Blues with the two teenagers I’m chaperoning to see The Kooks. I might fall asleep standing up at the rate I’m going.

So I had myself in the right brain space last night and then in a matter of seconds, I lost it, realized it was late at night and I was in this vast alone space where the cats were all asleep and would chirp listlessly at me if I petted them, and the girlchild and dog were gone, and what I really needed at 1 in the morning was a hug. A real hug. Not a side hug. But a full-on, hey, I’m here and I’m not leaving hug. Eh. Not happening. So bed and sleep ended up being miles away. Which made today even harder to survive.

Middle school on 3.5 troubled hours of sleep. Better…3.5 hours and I gave a test today and they were supposed to turn in a completed unit packet. In order. Which we’d gone over the day before. But I guess I was either speaking a foreign tongue or all those kids were absent, because yeah. Most frustrating day I’ve had this year. But I survived. And right now, I’m listening to loud music with beer in hand, debating where to try to grade papers. There’s a well-lit section of stairs with some interesting Kahlo-esque paintings. And I can still hear (and feel) the music. It’s mostly teens and 20s here, with a smattering of parent chaperones and old people who don’t seem to be with kids. My counselor says I should cut loose and dance. She might be right. I’m really tired though. And the bass was reverberating really uncomfortably in my chest downstairs, so I’m upstairs now.

Music does feel good though. I should remember that.

Last night, I couldn’t seem to remember anything but sad. hate that.

I think I have two more hours of ironing. Will try to do that tomorrow. With three acts tonight, I don’t think I’m getting home until after midnight.

Later…I did actually get home by 11:15. Good show. I danced a lot. Because I could. Because it felt good. AND I graded papers on the stairs. Because the second band was eh.

Anyway. I’m borderline exhausted and should just go to bed…but have pics from last night…here’s all the fabrics I’ve used so far…

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I’m 11 hours in and in the middle of the 800s. I’m up in the tree soon…just have to pick fabrics for the baby first.

Really, that’s about another 2 hours. I can do that. Here’s everything ready to be cut out…

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I’m almost 2 hours into the cutting…

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Doesn’t look like much. Never does until you iron it.

My most-common ironing companion these days…

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Cup of tea plus cat. Babygirl is glad that Katie is gone…

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She can relax now. Me too. Going to bed.

Hiking for Peace

September 25, 2014

Nope. Not what you think. Sure, I want world peace, but I don’t think we can make it happen with a hike. Personal peace though? Damn straight it works. Unfortunately, it takes giant bites out of my time to get art made or papers graded or apparently even sleeping well. We hiked Iron Mountain last night and had to put the headlights (ha ha headlamps) on before we even got to the top. It’s getting darker so much earlier now. And then we had homemade ice cream, smoothies, fruit, and champagne up at the top (it was someone’s one-year anniversary with the group). It was very cool.

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Actually, it was hot when we started, but the cooler air coming back was really nice.

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Great views from the top, but it was dark. I actually didn’t take many photos. This was at the table with the ice-cream setup etc. It was good to get outside and move around though, even though I’m feeling it this morning. I thought I would sleep better, but no!

By the way, this is what the fridge of a hiker looks like…

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I needed my water to be cold, at least to start. I had packed the whole bag up and realized I wasn’t leaving for 30 minutes, so I shoved the whole thing back in there, poles and all (you should always chill your poles). What I love is that nobody in my house says a word about finding this in the fridge. Not a freakin’ word.

Anyway. The hiking does clear my mind, but it also fucks me for the rest of the night. I couldn’t eat when I got home and thought I could just skip dinner, but then I started feeling it later, too late really. But I had to eat. Diabetes Grrr. So easy to mess with your blood sugar by not following your routine. But the hike! Oh well.

So in the end, I ironed for about 30 minutes last night.

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I could have gone longer, but I was SO tired. So I went to bed instead (smart choice, eh?). And then couldn’t fall asleep. And then was awakened by stalking cats and peeing dogs and who knows what else on the roof. So this morning I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. Not good. Oh well. More tonight hopefully (after the high-school back-to-school night?). I’m getting close, but I’m not close enough yet. I wanted to be fully ironed by Friday night, and now I’m chaperoning girls at a concert that night, so I won’t be home until really late and you know I’m not going to be fully awake then. Oh well. There’s always Saturday night. The night that chases me around the room trying to rip flesh out. Sigh.

Mood is rough besides the hiking peace. I made it home almost OK and then had to deal with some stuff and go back out in the car and the mood tanked. I’m trying to hold on to the mental state brought on by the hike, but the 17 texts from work don’t help and stupid emails don’t help and having to clean up after everybody else’s stuff doesn’t help. But that’s what it’s always like and maybe I just don’t have the right personality for holding on to the peace. Or maybe it’s that I’ve spent the last 12 years plus trying to manage everything without a ton of help and I just suck at it. I know I was better at it for a while, but then the support disappeared and I got worse. It’s hard to know that there’s something that helps but that you don’t have it and you can’t just go get it and it kinda feels stupid that you should need it, but you do. And it’s not like I don’t have friends and family who are giving support, but it’s not the same. I don’t know why. Something stupid in my head.

Anyway. I have another drawing in my head for a piece that needs to be done by January 1 (oh yeah, baby), but should be smaller (I’m really thinking about how to do that and still have all the details I love). And I’ve almost survived September, one of the worst months of the year for school and life and soccer, and I’m not sure I was even paying attention. My to-do list is growing exponentially, but I’m still getting it done. And hopefully this quilt will turn out well. It’s all still colored in my head and I think it’s turning out OK, but I won’t know until it’s ironed, and then I can’t really show it to you until the opening. Oh well. I’ll show you details. And I’m still working on my brain. I take it on hikes and give it pen and paper and fabric and books, and it’s coming around, really awfully slowly with sometimes what feels like massive steps backwards, but it’s coming. It’s reluctant. It’s having a hard time getting out of bed. It needs lots of encouragement and mental stimulus and I try to provide, but I also know it was badly broken and damaged, so I keep glue on hand. Some of that glue is climbing up a mountain, even when it seems like you’ve got better things to do.

I Stand Unrelieved…

September 24, 2014

I want to be Captain Picard, so I can relinquish the bridge to Number 1. In fact, make it so. I stand relieved…and not the kind of relieved where you take a deep breath or empty your bladder. It’s been a week of wanting to relinquish duties to others…and I have friends who were full on willing to walk away from other people’s crap and just deal with their own crap, and I get that. I wish I could do that. I did it last year. This year didn’t seem to present the same opportunities. It was more like, which annoying thing would annoy me less? Needless to say, school is an interesting maelstrom of crap, and most of it this year is coming from adults. The kids are honestly kinda easy. Not any different than other years probably…there’s the core group of lazy kids and another group of language-learners who might have disabilities, and another group of class clowns, and some kids who just don’t know how to turn things in or listen, and some amazing goofballs, and some who are just amazing. But no one is setting off alarms. Will there be a few who drive me nuts by the end of the year? Sure. Whatever. Same again.

I got home late after a school board meeting where the union reps were supposed to show up in red. I was grading papers on my iPad, which is kinda cool, although one of the apps doesn’t work right, so that’s annoying. But I was being semi-efficient. And then I went to the gym, even though it was already late, because I wanted to read my book. Books rock. So by the time I got dinner into me and was ready to iron stuff, it was 10 PM. Maybe I should just accept that it will be late when I start! Reality is much different than desire.

I started with all the bits that go in the humans but aren’t flesh. I thought I might finish those. Here are some bones…

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I did those first. Actually, I think I did nipples and lips first, because they were the colors that were in front. Then I went on to tattoos and arrows and then to hearts…

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Oh wait, I think I did a muscle in there first. I did. Because it needed to be different reds than the heart.

My faithful iron companion, Babygirl…

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Yes, she always looks that affronted by my existence. And then purrs. Psychotic beast.

And watching her carefully, making sure she does nothing untoward, Katie…

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Who has an issue with this cat, because she talks back. The other two just ignore her or run away. Katie’s funny because she doesn’t understand the words “move” or “out”. She just stands there staring at me, and I have to grab the collar and try to budge She Who Does Not Want to Budge. Plus she can’t figure out how to go out my back door without headbutting the door or wedging her shoulders in the doorway. I start to open the door and she runs at it, full bore, like a battering ram, so I’ve taken to standing in front of the opening as I’m opening it, just to get it wide enough for her to fit out. She does stop before she rams into me. Usually.

Anyway, I ironed parts for about an hour and a half, and then my brain gave up on the creative part…

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but it needs to come down after that, so I started cutting parts out…

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Which is when I heard Picard relinquish the bridge and thought, “Yeah. I want to do that. I want to relinquish the bridge right now.” This after I spent all day chasing Expedia down on the phone, trying to fix boychild’s return flight in December. Well, he will have to hang out in Newark for a while. Hopefully not more than a day. I’m sure he’ll be fine. He has technology.

I did that for about 45 minutes, and yes, I was up too late, and I can feel it this morning, but I’m feeling good about the progress.

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Yes, in 45 minutes, the pieces on the top are all I got done. Whoo! Yeah baby. You are fucking nuts. It’s official.

I meant to finish this post this morning. Not sure what happened. Parent meeting or something. Heading out for a hike now…but fabric later.

Ironed Flesh

September 23, 2014

A typical afternoon after school during the Fall soccer season: Our heroine lounges on the couch, freshly made hot cup of tea at hand, grading in a pile next to her, studiously at work. The phone rings and hysterical screeching emanates, so loud that the nearby windows vibrate with the sound. Girlchild is at her soccer practice after coaching little girls at the wonders of the game, and her father has brought her the bag with all her equipment, but the giant hole in the side means one of her shoes has fallen out…somewhere between the couch and the driveway…of her father’s house. Sigh. Our heroine stands up, considers whether to re-engage the bra-strapping structure that she was quite relieved to have removed, and gets into the car, figuring no one is looking at her boobs anyway. What the fuck. Whoops. Lost character there. She drives to her ex’s house, raids it for the shoe (it took a while; it was wedged between two cushions) and drives to the soccer field, where she slowly drives past the field, waving the shoe in the air until one of the parents runs over and fetches it, delivering it to the girlchild.

You think I jest. This is unfortunately how it goes sometimes. That was after my second cup of tea and 3 Motrin, trying to banish the giant headache brought on by minimum day schedule, blood sugar affected by minimum day schedule, and a hellish back-and-forth with adults that should not be allowed in a work environment. As teachers, we seem to have fewer protections against stupid adults (including the ones we work with) than in other businesses. I am now department chair, not by choice, but because it was the best thing to do for the survival of the department (and my sanity). Next year, there will be more options and I should not have to be in charge. For now…it sucks, but it is. I also finally went off on the tech lady who keeps telling me No Duh stuff, like “did you check their email and password?’ Um. No. I assumed that if a 12-year-old can’t log in, that they did it right and I don’t need to test it myself. And I wasn’t smart enough to check my OWN password list, instead of relying on them to provide that information. Because I’m not smart or anything. Granted, many teachers aren’t tech savvy, but some of us are, and it’s not in your best interest to piss off those who have a clue what they’re doing. Don’t assume we’re all idiots and talk to us like that. Fucking condescending tech people.

So yeah. It was a meditation day. In class. My kids were really the least of my troubles. Today they were the easiest part of my job, which is saying something.

I just took on another art entry too…due by January 1. I think I took it on. I might be clinically insane on that one. Because there’s one I want to do for February as well. There is no rest for the crazed.

I really need to go to bed, instead of trying to write this tonight. Suffice it to say that I will continue tomorrow morning, after more caffeine has crossed my non-ruby lips, and hopefully I will have something pithy to say about the million fleshy pieces I ironed tonight (and the million I did NOT).

It’s morning. I wish I felt rested, but it is not my way. I did finally start ironing last night around 10…because I graded papers and cooked dinner and dealt with girlchild’s breakdown over a variety of crazy things, not the least of which was that the ACT test that she took a little over a week ago? They lost the test booklets somewhere, so they all have to retake the test. She’s livid (her word). I’m kind of amazed. How does one lose such a thing? And what is their home address? Because I know a few hundred high-school kids who want that.

Anyway, part of the issue was solved last night, but we still have to deal with the ACT…in her crazy schedule, she doesn’t have a spare 5 hours lying around to retake a test. So we’ll have to jiggle some things.

Anyway, I finished sorting all the fleshy bits and ironing them down…

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It’s kind of like a crazy jigsaw puzzle. That will never fit together right. That’s one of 7 in the run…plus fingernails and toenails. I haven’t dealt with all the other stuff yet…it’s piled up at the back of the table…

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It includes eyeballs, hair, hearts, arteries, lungs, nipples, lips…anything that’s not the standard flesh colors. I’ll start those tonight…so although I’m in the 800 box, I haven’t finished stuff from the 300s yet…so I have no idea how much I have left. I did iron for almost 2 hours last night (I was in the zone), which is why I’m so tired this morning. Because I can’t just stop ironing and go straight to bed. My brain’s moving a bit too fast. I have to let it ramp down, read for a bit, space out a little. It takes almost an hour…sigh.

Katie and Babygirl are not currently friends…this standoff was while I was trying to iron, with Katie standing right where I need to be. She won’t move when you tell her, or at least, she won’t if there’s a cat involved…so I have to physically pull her out of there.

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Babygirl likes the iron because it’s warm.

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I would think she would back off a bit when I’m actually ironing, but she doesn’t. She looking pissed off…well, she always looks pissed off…but we did comb her fur, because boychild said we had to, and she quite happily whacked away at the both of us with her claws while we were doing it. Amazingly, we are both scratch free, so she didn’t really mean it.

So 7 1/2 hours into the ironing. Still progressing. Yesterday was very successful. Grading a whole assignment got done, ironing got done. I wish I could guarantee the same each day this week, but…yeah.

This is the best part of Wonder Under…

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(That’s sarcasm) Yup. The fusible sometimes releases from the paper. I am really obsessive apparently and lay out the pieces of WU and try to match them up to paper pieces that are the same shape. If I can’t figure it out, I just retrace them. I have not been good about keeping my WU in plastic bags this time around, and I can tell…it’s releasing easier. But it’s still the easiest method for me to do what I do. The two pieces on the right? I didn’t number them. I will figure out what they are eventually. Something in the tree.

OK. Today I teach zombies. Or I teach ABOUT zombies. Can’t remember. Might not matter.

Fabric Meditation

September 22, 2014

Well, so now we know that the mental state in which Kathy is most content is while she is picking fabric out for her art quilts. I can live in that state and push all the stupid crap and stress and depression and did I mention stupid crap? I can push it all out the door, slam the door on its face, and keep that damn door closed as long as I’m working and for a good period of time afterward. It is unfortunate that not ALL the stages of artmaking are so effective at calming my overactive mind. It really is a form of meditation. I’ve actually blown off meditation the last two nights and it’s been fine, because I spent 3 hours meditating with fabric each night.

I’m not really sure what to do with that information now, but…

So I met my goal for once! A miracle! Let’s not consider that I expect to be done with ironing AND cutting out in 9 days. And I’m days behind in grading. Priorities! I actually did a lot of yardwork yesterday before I ever started ironing. I started on Saturday night, in the almost dark, by sweeping around the pool, trying to clean up the crap from the storm last week, and then trying to clear the path to the upper yard, because Katie (mom has recorrected my spelling…apparently my dad doesn’t know how to spell his dog’s name…I’m sure Katie doesn’t give a freak. She’s just happy. HAPPY.) is scared of my yard in the dark, and ended up peeing on the path instead of heading for the plantlife. So Sunday, I went out in actual daylight…it was a gorgeous day, not too hot, perfect fall weather here (which will disintegrate into hot again this week), and it was nice to be out there cleaning up and trimming things. Yo Dad…I filled all 6 trashcans that they’ll pick up and I have two more ready for next week! So probably 2 hours were spent checking things off the list and making it easier to look around the house and not be dismayed by how it is falling apart.

Did I grade? Fuck no, I did not grade. Hanging head in shame. Sigh. Teaching. It really is not an easy job. Certainly not if you want a life.

But the girlchild was gone to a birthday party last night, so I had dinner in the oven and I started looking at fabrics for the two birds in this quilt. I used to do simple birds, less than 20 pieces. These suckers are over 70 pieces each.

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with a run of 7 colors to do it properly. So I was trying to decide for almost 20 hours…do I go for realistic bird colors or out-there? Or parrot? Or raven (not good on a dark background)? Or what? I finally decided to start with the browns, because I want the main figures to pop more, and there is brown in the tree that will echo down the side into the birds. I actually stand there and stare at the drawing and go through the color ranges visually in my head, coloring it all in my head as I stare at it.

I had out one of the smaller bins of browns that I use (this is the smallest bin by far), because it has most of my newer fabrics in it, and I laid out the range on the right…

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Browns are another difficult color to get a range in…some are very gray, some very red, some have that orange/yellow tint. The last two purplish-brown colors were the tailfeathers.

Once I had all those, though, I had to decide what to do with the decorative parts of the bird, and that’s when the color forced itself in…

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Ayep. This bird is not fucking demure. Anyway, I had all the Wonder Pieces laid out behind and laid out all the bird pieces for both birds before I ironed…

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It took a while. And then the next part was the fleshy bits. There are two figures in the quilt and I tried really hard to keep them relatively simple, compared to some of my figures…mostly because I realize I am going to run out of time if I don’t stay realistic on this piece in terms of details.

Anyway, I spent a good hour (after 11 PM) laying out human figure pieces, focusing only on the flesh colors, pushing all the other stuff (heart, lungs, pubic hair and the like) out of the way for later. I had the flesh colors laid out and was putting all the pieces on top of them for ironing, when I realized there was no way I was going to finish last night. I might be able to lay them all out if I stayed up until 1, but that kinda kicked my ass last week, and I’m trying to be better. And then it would take me at least an hour to iron them all down. But I didn’t want the cat to be able to jump up and dislodge pieces after I’d spent so long figuring out what went where, and even an errant breeze would be an issue at the moment, so I put each color in a bin with all its pieces…

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So I can finish it up tonight. I don’t know how many pieces I got done last night, because none of these are ironed and I was pulling pieces from the bins numbered 300-700 for the flesh colors, but leaving a bunch behind for later, and I still have to get the male’s neck and head out of the 800 bin. And I think some of his fingers are still on the table. So yeah. Maybe by tonight, I will have everything through the 800s ironed down, although it seems like a lot…I am on a roll, though.

I guessed about 12 hours for ironing down to fabric and I’ve hit the halfway mark. I’ll know better after tonight how close I am to my original estimate. Progress! Progress is good. And I really like the mindstate I’m in when I iron. It’s peaceful. I’m mostly content.

I had both dogs in here, underfoot, at one point…

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But mostly I just get one. This one is a little crazy.

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Someone spiked her punch I think.

An article on the Fence/Barda exhibit is here…it’s nice to get some publicity up in LA for one of our shows; she surely read my blogpost on the FIG website, which is also good. Too bad they didn’t link to us.

This is a DALeast video of painting a whale on a wall.

I love how he is so nonchalant with his painted lines. They are so simple up close, but make such a complicated image from far away. I did spend a little time this weekend reading on the couch and reading art blogs for inspiration and peaceful thinking. Gotta take care of ALL the parts of the brain, best I can.


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