Books Are Heavy

November 18, 2015

There are three more days of school until I get a week off, a week my brain and sleep centers desperately need (who am I kidding? I’m not going to get sleep next week). Yesterday about 75 kids turned in cell projects, many obviously done the night before, despite 18 days of reminders. Some probably done by an adult instead of a kid, but if they think this project is going to make up for failing the test on Thursday or turning in the giant-ass unit due Friday? Well they’re on crack, aren’t they? What’s really amusing is the kids who just realized yesterday that they hadn’t done the project. Begging, pleading, whining, trying to sneak things in. I’ll see more of that today. The kid who stayed up until almost 1 AM and then turned it in via email? Because it’s not time-stamped? I’m amused. It’s good that I’m amused, because that’s a much better response than supremely annoyed, which might be the next option.

I finished this one last night…

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Heart in Hands 1, 13 1/2″ w 12 1/2″ h, $165.

My dad says these are more expensive than the birds, but I went back and looked. Cat 6 is because it’s complicated and has lots of pieces, and that takes more time, but the cats are in the same range as the birds were. There was one last year that was cheaper because it was tiny and hardly had any pieces. Anyway. It is what it is. If I can’t sell them here, I may set up my Etsy account more than it’s already set up. I hate doing that though, because then I have to adjust prices again. Whatever.

Only one left.

I’m still tracing for the new quilt. I have about 440 pieces traced in about 3 1/2 hours, so I’m being uber-efficient.

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Tracing fast anyway. It’s freezing up against the window at night. I could have drapes, which would make it warmer, but I like the big openness of windows with no drapes, so I just put a jacket on sometimes. I got all the way through PBS’s Home Fires…a good story. I also watched Indian Summers, same deal, although a bit too much over the top sometimes. Everyone is so full of angst. So now I move on to spies and mutants I guess. Or vampires. Whatever comes up next on Netflix or Tivo.

I’ve stalled on getting everything back in the studio. I got some more drawers from Container Store because my old ones are breaking. So I need to transfer all that stuff, but even though I measured pretty carefully, I had to adjust to make it all fit. One big drawer of browns, one of oranges, and one of reds. Hopefully I can pull some of the reds and oranges that are living in random bins too.

And then while I was doing that, the shelf with all the books on it fell…

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Apparently books are heavy. Who knew?

Scared the crap out of me. So I need to figure that out. I can hear Dad’s voice saying “it was too heavy.” But damnit, it’s a BOOK shelf. If it can’t hold BOOKS, then it sucks. I actually know what the problem is with this bookshelf…it had termites in it years ago and sometimes the holes just fail. So yeah. Will have to decide how to handle that. Put all the books on the bottom probably. Or space them out more.

OK, so Google is at my school today with Google Expeditions. Hopefully it will go smoothly…we have to transition about 70 kids a period between two classrooms and keep them on task. Should be interesting. But it does mean I need to get out of here early. I didn’t grade after school at all yesterday. The damn Google Classroom app is crashing like a teenaged driver. I’m done. Until Google figures it out. Probably not the same Google people who are showing up today, unfortunately.

Then finish the last little quilt tonight and ship another one off that sold and keep tracing Wonder Under in the cold. It’s a plan.

Sleep. Apparently for the Weak…

November 17, 2015

I stay up too late. You might have noticed. Sometimes it’s because I’m trying to finish something. Or because I’m not tired. Or because I just don’t feel like going to sleep. I’m really mature that way. I was trying to finish stuff last night. I gave up on grading because the Google Classroom app was crashing with every single doc I reviewed and it was driving me bonkers. I sent them feedback (I’m sure they’re tired of me). It showed a log of all the crashes though, so I felt pretty damn justified. They’ll probably come back and tell me the iPad mini is too old and I need a new one. Sigh. Nope. Not yet.

I did finish another cat last night…Cat 7

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She’s 12″ square, just like her brother? Sister? Same price, $175.

So that’s the cats done…on to the hearts in hands. She’s the reason I stayed up so late. I thought it wouldn’t take long to do a small binding and sleeve, but it takes longer than I think most times. Oh well. Sleep…it’s for the weak, right? I don’t really believe that. I really wasn’t tired either though.

Before I did that though, I started tracing the Wonder Under for the next Bathtub quilt. This is number 5. Yes, I skipped 1, 3, and 4. Whatever.

I figured it would take about 8 hours to trace this, but I was pretty damn efficient last night.

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I did 225 pieces in an hour and 45 minutes. That means hopefully it will take less time, but we’ll have to see.

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The owl that I made as a small quilt is in this piece, so I had to trace him all over again. Above is what 225 pieces traced looks like. Not much, eh? Well, yes, and that’s because so many of them are bloody tiny, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue.

I have about 100 cell models and projects showing up today, if you don’t count all the crazy that went on in my school email last night. Now I know who stayed up all night because they left it to the last minute. I guess 18 days isn’t enough warning for this group. So I have to be there a bit early so I can open up the door and let all the kids with projects in. Wanna guess how many don’t put their names on them? And then how many didn’t even read instructions? Yeah. Sigh. Some days I wonder why I torture myself so.

I Quilt So I Don’t Kill People

November 16, 2015

Upcoming holidays terrify teachers. We know that however much we are looking forward to time off, we have two things going against us: 1. students who also realize a holiday is coming and will completely stop working and turn into psychos who can’t stop talking, and 2. a load of work to complete that could potentially take every waking moment of the holiday. So the week before the holiday is kind of a stress fest…in the past, for Thanksgiving, I’ve tried to finish ALL the grading by Sunday night so I can have the whole break to myself, but that isn’t going to happen this year. No freakin’ way. Because I’m the nutball who had all the cell projects, a test, and an entire science unit due this week, and I’m still behind from late October. Why am I behind, you might ask? Because I actually come home and do something besides grade. I know. It’s crazy. But I do it anyway.

So I’m finally mailing this off to its owner…

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This is Breast for LM. The image is 8×10″ and she’s going to wrap it around a canvas. It’s from the Mammogram quilt. I redrew that one section after copying it from the original drawing, where that bit was about 8×10″ Then I moved the top hand so it was a little more symmetrical. She commissioned it in early summer and it’s been done for a while, but I’ve been waiting for her to get settled in her new place…so it’s mailing today.

The other one mailing today is Cat 3, going all the way to Austria. I put a label on it Saturday, and then noticed I had missed quilting between the leg and tail…

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Damn. Spacy. So I quilted it. It needed customs forms, so I’ve done all of that and will ship it out today as well.

I had way too much to do yesterday. I washed another quilt at my parents’ house that is going to another buyer who is allergic to cats. My parents don’t have cats, so I wash it there and then pack it up there, and hopefully that means it doesn’t have a lot of cat dander in it. She’s done OK with the others I’ve mailed her. But it also needs to be mailed soon.

I graded a lot, I cooked all my breakfasts, lunches, and one dinner yesterday afternoon. And I finally got the finger pads from Amazon, post-razor-blade crazy, so I finished the binding on this one, Cat 6…the crazy one.

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16″ x 12″, $285

My finger was unharmed during the binding process, so I guess those crazy stick-on things work. I drew this during a staff meeting when a coworker requested a drawing “with a cat in it.” Yeah. I can’t always follow directions, but “with a cat in it” kinda describes about 90% of my quilts. Or “with a bird in it” and often “with a snake in it” or “with Christmas lights in it.” I can’t really explain the last one.

My parents just handed me luggage for next week’s trip to Seattle (one of the reasons I might not get much work done) and I don’t know if my big sketchbook will fit in it. That said, I don’t want to take a bigger suitcase, so I will have to adjust. So yeah, I got a lot done yesterday, but Sundays are always crazy. Next Sunday will be lovely. I will only be grading and arting. Not panicking about next week’s lesson plan. Although there is some argument for panicking now about the following week, since I don’t have it much planned out. Whoops!

Honestly, I don’t know how I don’t own this T-shirt yet…

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I’m fairly sure it’s true.

So one cat left and two hearts in hands, and based on my completion rate over the last week, that’s three nights’ worth, although I’m looking at the week and I have quilt class and I need something to work on there, but really want these beasts done. One of the things I did yesterday though was clean off the light table so I could start tracing the next quilt, because with about 773 pieces, that’s about 8 hours of tracing and then another 6 or so of cutting pieces out, and I want to be picking fabrics on Sunday, so that’s a mere 14 hours of work between now and then. While teaching and grading stuff. I think I’m fucking nuts. See shirt above…

Get on with It…

November 14, 2015

You know there’s some mornings when you get up and you think it’s going to be fantastic, it’s a reasonable hour to rise on a weekend (well, your dad wouldn’t think so, but he went to bed WAY before you did, so he can just bite your booty), you have a list in your head that is miles long of all the tasks you need to get done. You’ve even prioritized them based on when things like the damn post office close, but you need this container and the post office won’t have it, and even if they did, if you had to cut it down, you’re pretty sure you’d be arrested with a box cutter in the post office, however logical it might seem for a relatively benign science teacher to have one.

So you make your first cup of tea of the day, you’ve actually showered (some mornings that just seems like an affront to sanity), and you’re raring to go and then shit just starts happening. Some of it is still amusing to you, such as the package of 300 razor blades that arrived randomly yesterday in one of three Amazon boxes, only one of which was supposed to ship here. Girlchild sent something here instead of to school, so I’ll ship that to her, which is fine, because I had some slippers to send her anyway and just hadn’t gotten around to it, and they fit in the box. The razor blade box has no shipping slip at all, but is definitely addressed to me, so boychild and I go back and forth on whether friend or family shipped them to me or if it’s some sort of bizarre threat, like I don’t like you and I want to kill you but I’m too lazy to do it myself, so if I send you all these razor blades, maybe you’ll slip into the bathtub and take care of it for me? Or something like that. A quick email to Amazon clears up that a friend DID send me a gift, something to ameliorate the sore callus pokey bit on my quilting finger, but NOT razor blades. I’m still laughing over this one, because Amazon’s email, definitely not sent by a native English speaker, at no point tells me if they will actually send me my REAL gift.

All good, but then I’m in the rabbit hole of school assignments for next week, because I needed to write/revise two versions of the test and all the answers and then decide if the resource teacher should be allowed to have the study guide answers, because if she just hands it to my kids, I will have to throw things. And I’ve been doing that a lot at school already. And making enemies is not a good thing, but I’m just not in the mood for stupidity, especially in people who work in schools. And I wasn’t going to do the school stuff until tomorrow, but one thing on the test was really bugging me, so I made the mistake of looking for that ONE thing and now the tests are done. OK. So the preparing of school stuff came in and sucked up time, and I realized I needed food, went to stand up, and broke the mug my daughter made me that said “World’s Okayest Mom”. Damn. I liked that mug a lot because I thought of her every time I saw it, and so I picked it up and went to carry it to the kitchen, stepped on one of the tiny sharp fragments, unbalanced myself, and dropped the whole damn thing again, and now I’m leaving bloody footprints all over the house.

Fuck me.

Really it’s another do-over day. Or not. Accept. I accept that the quilt that needs to go to Austria is not leaving today. It will leave Monday. I accept that the quilt that needs to go to New Hampshire is also not leaving today. I accept that shit happens. I’m revising my priority list right now. I still need boxes for those two quilts and I need to ship girlchild her things. I can do that today. I can sew labels on those two that need to ship, which I should have done last night, but couldn’t handle for some lame reason. I can prepare them to ship Monday. I can finish the school stuff so I can stop worrying about it. I can do some cleaning, because that is part of the stress I’m feeling, that the kitchen is a bigger disaster than normal (I haven’t been home much at night this week) and I don’t like it when it’s that way.

I can accept that I am a klutz. Why not? Everyone else has. I do actually accept that.

I was playing a game last night and didn’t get home until after 10. But I did manage to poke a deeper hole in my finger long enough to do this…

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Cat 5, 12″ square, $175. She’s cute. He? Hard to say. This one took longer to quilt than its brightly colored counterpart, Cat 7, mostly because the thread was cranky and kept breaking. Not fair.

Two more cats and two hearts in hands left. Maybe finishing today? Who knows. I honestly don’t think my finger can handle that. It’s funny, because I know my friend Ina gave me some finger protectors years ago and I put them in the white sewing supply drawers that I kept in the living room until we moved everything last year, and now I can’t find the drawers. Did I do something with them? The things I haven’t moved back into the living room until the shelves get installed (some time in 2020 apparently) are mostly in my bedroom in boxes. But this isn’t there. I’m going nuts. I know it must be somewhere in the house. It’s not small.

Yes, it’s chaos here, but I usually know where everything is. Sigh.

OK. On with the day. There’s nothing else to be done but to get on with it. It really isn’t so bad. I think the bleeding’s stopped, the girlchild says she will make me a BETTER mug, and now I have time to make and sew on labels.

Revelatory Moments That I Can’t Remember…

November 13, 2015

It was a long day, full of microscopes, slow internet, broken slides, irritating realizations, and a meeting after school. It was helped by hanging out with someone for dinner and some quiet time with the animals. The house is cold at night, so they get closer and closer. I can’t say I got a lot done, because I had to send a long union email and manage some other school stuff, plus read the boychild’s highly amusing rough draft for some pre-law class, and write up an independent study contract that the kid won’t do at all. Because when your kid is failing four classes, it makes sense to pull him out of school for an extra week. Because a week at Thanksgiving isn’t enough. Frustrating, but whatever.

I debated applying for a copyediting job and realized I already applied for another one last week and thought THAT sounded crazy. That’s two I’ve debated this week. I really need it to be a side job though and not an all-encompassing Other Job. I’m buried with the job I have. I’m scrambling to get caught up.

So finally on the couch with animals, Midnight decides the cat quilts are hers…despite the pins sticking out all over the place.

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She kept rubbing her head on the edge and I’d bop her, waiting for the inevitable Pin in the Eye injury. She eventually got up and moved right next to me (I guess I’m warm) while I stitched the binding on Cat 4

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14 ½” w x 13” h, $160. Contact me if you’re interested.

I actually stopped in the middle on this one to go write that contract for the kid who will be gone all next week and has turned in nothing at all this trimester. Good times! As I said to the administrators, I’m going to work harder on this ISC than he has all year in my class…I’m pretty sure that’s not the way it SHOULD work.

Three more cats and two hearts in hands to go. I’m debating taking them to gaming tonight. The callus is better, but still sore. Maybe if I just bring one tonight. I’ll think about it. Cat 3 did sell…she was my favorite because she looks just like Kitten. But I have the technology if I want to make another one.

Last night I had some revelatory moment about artmaking and living alone and creativity and whatever. I don’t remember what it was this morning, because I’m tired, I didn’t get enough sleep (when DO I?), I haven’t had all my caffeine, I’m prepping the lab in my head for today and revising what I think they can do, and I’m also writing Monday’s assignment in there as well, which could be an issue, plus I just realized I have kids bringing cell projects today, food ones, so I’ll have to grade them during prep so they can eat them at lunch. I seem to bring teacher chaos on myself.

But it was something along the lines of maybe having all the alone time helps me make more art, but I know that having less alone time (after Wednesday ALL DAY almost not talking to anyone) would be better for me in the long run. Some days I don’t even notice and some days the silence just weighs on me. And that’s silence that’s filled with loud music or something on TV or the computer. It’s never really silent here. And there are cats and a dog demanding attention, so it’s not even really that alone. But people constantly ask what it’s like to have the kids gone, and I try to explain, and usually the people who ask either went through it themselves or have absolutely no idea. They think deeply and say that they can see after a day or two of no one being around that they might start to miss it. Then again, yesterday I had both kids texting and emailing me on and off, so it’s a little like being connected in space, even when they’re not in the house. Though girlchild sent this…


With all that, I need to get to school to receive cell model cakes and set up microscopes for swimmy things (I saw some yesterday! Yay!) and cheek cells. Lots of washing slides will be going on today. They never told me about the dishes I would wash for science when I said I wanted to teach it.

Two Headless Mermaids

November 12, 2015

It’s so weird to have a day off in the middle of the week. My brain is still trying to process another Monday this week, except it’s not Monday; it’s Thursday. Ugh. I’m not sure random holidays are helpful. I did get a few things done around here, mostly moving stuff and cleaning and tossing a lot of paper that just accumulates when I don’t know what to do with it. The fact is that if you wait long enough, that paper will be useless and you can easily recycle it. That’s my theory anyway.

I did put the last binding on…

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So now all I have to do is hand sew six of them. My finger is still sore from Tuesday though, so I didn’t do any sewing last night. I also had book club and came back really tired, so mostly I ironed stuff and thought about doing other stuff but then blew it off. Fasting in the morning really threw me off, plus I took the dog for a 3-mile walk, so I was pretty tired.

I found some more stuff in the piles though. This was back when I was entering crazy quilt competitions. They would sell you a package of fabric and then you would make something out of it and enter their contest. I got some awards, but this is one I never finished. The package had a lot of white fabrics in it and I dyed most of them, adding some of my own. You had to use stamps as well, so there are a couple of those.

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So yes, two headless mermaids. Because that seems like an appropriate subject for a crazy quilt…

The heads are my grandma’s cousins, Jeannie and Bernice, who used to take us to the beach and ride the waves with us. They were ancient even then (OK, maybe in their 60s) and they would grease themselves up and put on wetsuits and ride the waves with us on these inflatable rafts for just hours. We’d come back with sand in every orifice and rub rash on our bellies from the raft and the salt water, but it was usually an awesome vacation.

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They died quite a few years back. I have a bunch of their photos on my computer, so I was going to use these heads on the mermaids…and for once, there was a date on the drawing I did for the applique…

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Holy crap. I should finish more stuff. This is for those that despair when they see me finish a lot of stuff. I don’t finish everything.

This one has no date, but is probably a few years later than that. He was cut freehand from fabric that had Wonder Under on it, a la Laura Wasilowski, so after I took a class from her. I think I was still married then, because I didn’t have money for classes after that. This piece though? No date. And it’s not done…

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It’s not even all stitched down, and I’d have to wash it because it’s dirty…which could be interesting with the two hand-dyes in there. It’s worth a finish though, I think. Might be fun to embroider all over those lungs.

I mentioned ironing. I have (had) two full laundry baskets of more fabric from Sandi that they found in a closet somewhere. I washed a lot of it, the bigger pieces, and then they sat in those baskets in the hallway, because honestly, they were too wrinkled to just fold up. I was going to need to iron them, and that’s not my favorite thing to do. So I put something good on the computer to watch (I’m watching Extant at the moment, plus The 100), and ironed for an hour or so. Making piles by colors. I’m not even done with the first basket…

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There were two old pillowcases, so I cut them up. They can be a backing. There were some beautiful hand dyes in there too, although I think they were in my pile somewhere.

So it was a productive day, even though I did no schoolwork. I refused. Enough of that goes on all the other days. Anyway, I’m hoping I’m awake enough and my finger is healed enough to sew more bindings tonight. Maybe I will take them with me to gaming on Friday…that would be amusing. They’ll get done…somehow. Because I really need to get started on the next big one too. Not enough hours in the day…even when I get a free one.

My Lady Parts…

November 11, 2015

So it’s a school holiday, just one day, lonely in the middle of the week. Usually Veteran’s Day leans toward one end of the week or the other, so we get a long weekend, but not this year. It’s a nice break between two very frustrating days at school and probably two more frustrating days, unless I can get my mindful mind floating high enough over the stupid shit that it doesn’t drag me down. We’re nearing the end of a unit and there’s just a lot of crazy going on, both with kids and parents, and I don’t have the energy for it, I guess.

Part of that is art-related of course. I finished this amazing piece in September and it didn’t get into that show, and I fully realize there are more shows out there for it, and it’s a challenging piece and I shoot myself in the foot every time I make a challenging piece…unless it gets the recognition I think it deserves, and then it’s all OK. This last year has been hard for that, but I’m still making them, still drawing them, still entering them in shows.

And these cute little cat quilts…see, they’re easy enough to make, but I don’t love them. Well, I love Cat 6, but you can see why. And Cat 3 is sweet, sure, and Cat 7 is kinda cool. But they’re not really fulfilling. They’re a quick snack and I want a full meal. So honestly? I’m trying to finish them all as quickly as possible, which would be easier if I had my binding callus on my middle finger, but I don’t…so it’s sore as hell this morning after doing three of them last night. I will search around for those pads or one of the many thimbles I own, but I know from personal experience that I suck at thimbling…I just automatically switch to an unfettered finger, setting up new holes and sore spots there.

But first I had to go to the doc this morning, another MRI of my “lady parts” as they were called earlier today. That phrase makes me laugh. Because I’m so not a lady. But hopefully after fasting and lying in an incredibly uncomfortable position as magnets yelled at each other through my body, the scan will show my alien beasts (fibroids) reducing, disappearing, leaving me alone to suffer my uterus without them. I suspect one is still there, the big one, the one my kids used to kick during pregnancy. But the hundreds of little ones that populated my uterine muscle, I’m OK if they’ve left the building. I feel a little mean starving them of nutrients, but they were becoming ungrateful house guests who had outstayed their welcome. I was tired of dealing with them and their detritus. So hopefully it’s all good news.

Back to the little quilts. Sizes and prices are listed below. Just let me know if you’re interested in one of them. Shipping is included.

This is Cat 1

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11” w x 10” h, $120.

I do actually calculate prices from time spent and then add average shipping costs in. There are no fancy formulas on these. I’m actually debating giving Cat 1 whiskers…so she may look different tomorrow.

Cat 2

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13 ½” w x 10 ¼” h, $155. Might also need whiskers…hand-embroidered if so…

Cat 3

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13 ½” w x 12 ½” h, $180. Kitten sleeps in this position all the time.

And I rephotographed Owl 2.0 in the daylight…

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17” w x 10 ½” h, $235.

So the rest of my day off will be filled with errands and cleaning more of the boychild’s room out, moving it back in here. I’m actually going to move another section of stuff in here out into his room so I can go through it easier as well…because it’s been piled on the floor for so long and I’m tired of it, but there’s no way to force me to get through it in here, so I just don’t. A deadline like a kid moving back for 5 weeks is a lot more motivating.

I love how I can psych myself out. You’d think I would catch on…

While I was cleaning stuff out, I found this body-part crazy quilt I started ages ago (no dates on anything)…I used to do crazy quilts. Still love the idea of them, love the embroidery, but don’t have the time for it. So I drew a series of body parts, maybe 12? on white fabric, and then crazy-pieced the rest of the square around it. You can see some I haven’t pieced yet on the left.

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I didn’t do a uterus, but I did do some lady parts. Each part got one main color…that’s a knee, by the way.

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A nose…obviously orange.

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Eyeballs when you have blue eyes…a predominant number of the eyeballs in my quilts are blue. Some green. Very few brown.

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Penis is obviously red…

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That’s a strange elbow.

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So I think what bamboozled me after that is what color do I do next? Do I do repeats? Obviously I can do green, but after that? I debated gray and black and brown and white, but didn’t like those options. So there are inbetweens, I guess, although I didn’t really censor the colors I used so far, indiscriminately using lights with darks in the color range. Or using colors more than once. Which is probably the best option.

I start these weird projects and my kids will find all of them after I’m dead, including the pile of 50 eyeballs on orange fabric, and they will wonder What the Fuck I was thinking. Sometimes I do too, if that helps.

Anyway, I have one cat left to bind, and then will have 6 to sew by hand, if my finger can handle it later today. If not, maybe I’ll take a break and trace Wonder Under for a while instead. I should probably take advantage of the time and grade something as well, but every time I think about grading, I think about the kid who complained yesterday that I hadn’t graded his warmup from last week yet, because instead, I graded the thing he needed for his study guide, but he didn’t actually turn that IN, so he currently has a zero. He thinks the warmup will save him, but even if he got 100% on the warmup, he’d average out to 50%. Math is not his strong point. It’s often not mine either, but at least I admit it and ask for help.

I really really really want to draw, dammit. Like right this second. Aargh. Set timer. Draw. Then go do cleaning and errands. Days off shouldn’t be wasted…they should be honored with artistic endeavors. And more sleep. And peeing whenever I want (ah, being a teacher often sucks).


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