I Know How She Feels…

March 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s my best zoo picture…

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I know how she feels.

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

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

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

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


Still Standing

March 26, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I See Spring Break Over THERE…

March 25, 2015

My uterus woke me up this morning around 4 AM…either that, or my neighbor left in his dump truck. They kinda feel the same to my tired, overworked brain (three days until Spring Break, can you hear the angels caroling in the heavens? It’s OK. I can’t hear them yet either, because I still have to survive three more days of school, including a field trip to the zoo). I wake up, brain zinging along, WOW! Yelling at me that something’s wrong, sung at the top of my lungs, adrenaline surge powering through my heart and blood vessels. So you do what we all do: you get up and pee, get a glass of water, pet the cat so she settles back down, and lie down, determined…DETERMINED to go back to sleep. Because being determined about it helps (that’s sarcasm, by the way). Who knows how long it took to actually fall asleep after that, but it wasn’t right away.

Last night, I was sitting at my desk, hoping to power through the last pieces of the Ventura Earth Mother, sure it wouldn’t take long to cut them out, but midnight was approaching and I was tired and I thought to myself at one point, “Self, you only have about 10 pieces left. Go to BED. They will still be there tomorrow.” Well, you know how that conversation went…the same way it always does. Because I thought to myself (again), if I finish tonight, then tomorrow night, when I come home exhausted after teaching and then sitting through a teacher award ceremony (supporting friends), then I won’t want to sit down and cut, so I just won’t until really late. And then it will take one more night.

So I bullied through. And finished…

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Nine hours and 38 minutes…all cut out. Next I sort and start ironing…which is cool. I’m ahead of schedule…not that it will help me, because I have no sewing machine Tuesday. And I keep finding little pieces from when I spilled the box. It’s funny…they seem to appear from nowhere…like I’m sure I checked the whole desktop and all of a sudden I’ll look at a totally exposed area and a piece is just sitting there, like it was hiding from me and it just came out. It got tired of hiding and wanted to come back into the fold. Ugh. It means there are more in there somewhere. Fuckers.

Based on previous quilts, ironing will probably take 10-11 hours…but I think I’m officially halfway done with this one. The next stage is the fun one, when the image starts to emerge in color. I’m excited about that. I’d be more excited if I didn’t have three more days of school, but whatever. I also need to pick the fabrics for the other smaller one before I start ironing, I think…mostly because those fabrics are currently ALL OVER my office, and I don’t even think I have enough bins to sort the pieces at the moment because of that (which I was going to do tonight…). Sigh. OK. Well, that’s decided then. I have to pick out the fabrics tonight/Thursday…however that works out. I’ve been refusing to do schoolwork at home at night, because all the assignments I have for this week are mostly independent, so I’m grading at school every day. I feel like if I do that, I shouldn’t have to do it at home.

Meanwhile, my uterus is being a pain…literally. Next week, I get to do a bunch of tests that will confirm that I don’t have cancer or some other weird thing…it’s just my body doing the stupid stuff it’s supposed to do, which is FINE…I’m OK with that, but just freakin’ get ON with it and stop torturing me with your wishy washy crap. If you want to stop producing eggs, then just DO IT. Don’t fuck with me while you’re doing it. I give you permission. Maybe I’ll make my uterus a quilt, so it knows how I feel about this (like I haven’t been doing that all along). Seriously…perimenopause fully proves that there is no intelligent designer…or that he’s an abusive asshole. One of my students was complaining yesterday about how if she has to use the bathroom for her period, that it takes longer and passing period (4 minutes) is not long enough, and I said she needed more practice…that teachers could do it in 90 seconds flat, including hand-washing, and then she claimed I must be using a pad, not a tampon. Yes. I have to discuss these things with my students…I explained to her that 3 out of her 4 core teachers were females who regularly had their periods, and that we couldn’t use the bathroom whenever we wanted, so we had to be fast and efficient, and surely, it’s not THAT hard to pull a wrapper off a tampon and insert it (maybe it is if you are only 12 or 13…I don’t remember…). I think most of the world has no clue what being a middle-school teacher is like…we deal with content and technology, and then we also get puberty. And hormones. And Spring lovey-dovey crap. And self-esteem issues. And stink bombs. And cutting and bullying and suicide and drama and relationships and pregnancy and sex. Plus they still dance around when they have to pee really bad. And they’re trying to figure out how to have relationships with adults they aren’t related to as well, and that’s a fine line right there.

OK, so I have to go to work soon, but really, I deserve donuts and a heating pad and maybe a margarita.


Crazy Duck Lady

March 24, 2015

I came home after the chiropractor put my neck bones back where they should be and after the final dance practice for this thing we’re doing at school, filming starting today, and I thought…I should do some work. Like grade papers. And then I thought about the week’s assignments and realized that although there’s a field trip, which will probably kick our butts, and certainly if they don’t fix my classroom air conditioning by Thursday/Friday, when it’s supposed to approach 100 degrees, then I will not be able to think straight, but mostly…mostly kids are working independently this week and I can grade papers during class. Often I think this, though, and it does not happen because the kids are needier than I expect or their behavior requires me to walk the tables constantly. Sometimes, though, they settle down and work. So we’ll see, but it was my reasoning for deciding not to grade last night. I read for a little bit and then came in the office/studio to decide what I wanted to do next…and apparently, I wanted to piece. This is not a normal thing for me…either piecing or wanting to piece. I know how. My first quilt classes were all piecing, until I realized straight lines were not my friend. Then I even pieced a landscape quilt with all those curves. Yeah. Also not my thing. So this was a strange experience…but this thing is calling to me. Plus Mariah did all the hard work already…like those two bottom rows.

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I found a few more sections and sewed them together and then sewed the bottom rows together. Then I sewed the two sections of long strips together. Easy peasy.

Then I found all the pieces that I had of this type of strip. I had to pull a couple apart and mess around to make them fit the way I wanted…

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I wanted alternating darks and lights, but the next row had to move over to make that work. And then there was one large block and half of another one, which did fit in the top row…so I put it there. Although apparently I laid it out here upside down.

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Not that it really mattered in the end. I just didn’t want likes with likes. It worked out OK. Then I had to fussy piece/cut the next squarish bit to get that block in there…plus the strips were not quite tall enough (probably because that one orangey stripe is skinnier than the others), but trimming a quarter inch off wasn’t noticeable…

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And there it is. I had to add some to the left of the purple strips too. Holey crikey…that’s crazy. It’s totally busy. And some people will freak out about the purple (it really does look fine in person…this photo is a bit washed out). And this might not work. But I really like it. I like the crazy. The mixed up.

I laid out the image again…good size. It might be too wide, but I’m considering that…

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She’s holding an orange. I could make more oranges.

Then I hung it up, because the next step is to pick out the fabrics for the image…

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So yeah. I’m going to have to work hard to make sure it shows up on the background and doesn’t get swallowed up by it. And no, it’s not like what I normally do. That’s what’s cool about it. Yes, I have considered a paint wash over the background. I’ve also considered overdying the whole thing, a layer or two of tulle, and using this on the back instead of the front. I want to try it, though. I think I can do it. It will be different, but that’s part of the challenge. And the cool thing about the technique I use is that I will iron that whole image together and then I can lay it out on the background and decide if it’s going to work or not. And if not, then I can adjust. So watch for that.

After that, I settled down for my 2-hour session of cutting tiny fucking pieces of fabric out, because I designed the quilt that way in the first place (yeah, I do keep challenging myself)…but here’s how you know Babygirl is feeling better. That’s my lap.

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I’m trying to cut things out, cat. Please either get off or settle down and get out of my face. “Pet me. Please pet me.” Sigh. Pet the cat. Pet the cat. Settle the cat. Cat leaves. Really?

Good. I cut out for almost 2 hours again…

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I have 8 hours in. And I really am almost done. That’s mostly big pieces in the left box, and not very many of them. Fire and wind and earth. (Yeah, those are in the wrong order). Trash in the middle. Finished pieces in the right box…mostly elephants and trees last night. Tiny and complicated pieces that required the tiny sharp scissors. Wrinkles on knees. I must have strong hand muscles. It doesn’t hurt today and it should.

In other news, my students put together a petition for me to get a class duck. I tried to explain that ducks were noisy and they smelled, but they really want a duck. Enough to get other teachers to sign the petition. And they want it to be named Spaghetti. What my students DON’T know is that my neighbor feeds all the local wild ducks…

Normally there are way more ducks than that (I was early). Yes. I am the weird teacher. Why do you ask? (I’m not getting a duck. All those ducks are wild and I think they should stay that way. Yes, my daughter thinks I am a freak. No, I am not a crazy duck lady.)


Recycled Two

March 22, 2015

One of the art groups I belong to, California Fibers, is participating in a recycled fibers show called Diverted Destruction 8 at The Loft at Liz’s, where we were asked to used recycled materials to make our art. The group has a wide variety of fiber artists, from weavers and quilters to basketmakers and sculptors and dyers to painters and embroiderers. Some defy description.

I’m a quilter though. Really. I do a bunch of different things, but mostly I quilt. So I approached this exhibit with the idea of using different materials to do the same type of quilt I normally make…the challenge being in the materials. The first one is done and photographed (supposed to hold off on putting the final on here) and was made largely of upholstery fabrics from a sample book, not something that was foreign to me due to years of crazy quilting and starting out with some very different types of quilting in the early days, but certainly not how I usually approach the fabrics in my quilts. In fact, some of my quilts have satin, lame, and sequin fabrics in them, all of which were their own special challenge.

The second quilt I didn’t want to do in the same types of fabrics, so when over Winter Break a quilting friend called to say she was getting rid of her excess fabric (wait, what is that?) and did I want any of it, hell, I jumped on that. Mariah’s a mostly traditional quilter, using lots of batiks and fun prints to make some pretty gorgeous quilts. She has good color sense, and batiks have always been my favorite as well, and because I often deal with some awfully small pieces, the off-cuts from her traditional quilts actually come in useful. I brought home two or three bagsful…

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and it’s taken me three months to sort through them into color piles

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and then into bins where all the likes were together. I suck at filing; what can I say?

This afternoon, I grabbed the blacks, whites, and yellows, and sorted their asses…

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Then got all of it in the same room…

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It looks like a lot, but it’s hard with all the prints and colors, which won’t necessarily flow together, to see coherence at this point. Obviously, I’m not going to use all of these. Honestly, I’ll probably use maybe 20-30 of them. Then the rest will go into my stash and people will walk up to my quilts and go, “Oh hey, didn’t I give you that fabric?” Happens all the time.

Mariah had lots of owls…

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Then there was this pile…

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She had a lot of partially finished blocks or trims from piecing, and I just took them because I thought I could use them somehow. I personally hate piecing, so I’m glad to let others do it.

There were these two chunks that I put together, trying to visualize a background…

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Although I think it might be too busy. But maybe…maybe this is Mariah’s quilt and the background should be busy. She’s a young mom of two…that’s what your life is really like…and then the main figure can sit on top of that. It will be difficult to make the coloring work, but let’s say I have 25 years of experience and I can make it work.

Maybe. Here are some more of the pieced bits…one whole block…

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Some more pieces of strips…there’s one pile in the middle of pieces that could make another part of the background. Maybe. She tends toward blues and browns. They’re all in that range.

But then she has this skinny strip of pieced triangles…I like it as a border maybe or a base for the figure.

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although they are a completely different color range. Things to consider. Obviously I’m not making decisions about those tonight, because it’s time to make dinner. I too am a mom with many distracting things in the background of my art self. More later…but this one is definitely coming into existence this week…whether I like it or not.


A Saturday Suddenly Free…Sort of…

March 21, 2015

Well, I was supposed to be leaving for a soccer tournament any minute now, but girlchild is too sick to play, or even to get out of bed, so I guess I am the lucky one who gets to stay home with her. She’s asleep still, so it’s pretty easy, but last night’s whining and nose-blowing drove me out of the living room, so then she started texting me things like “MOOOMMMYYY.” Yup. She’s 17. Anyway, I was planning on getting a bunch of grading done on the soccer field, so I will probably still try to do some of that, and certainly I was going to stitch on birds, but I think I’d rather do some yardwork (seriously, it’s getting that bad), since it’s currently kind of cool in temperature out there. Yes, I realize there’s still snow everywhere else, as boychild reminded me, but we’ve been in the 80s on and off all week, so it is Spring and the plants are going bonkers. But it’s like I suddenly got a free day, a Saturday without any preplanned stuff, except that I am so capable of filling it almost immediately.

Yes, I will do art as well. Don’t panic. In fact, I finished the bathtub drawing last night…

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This one’s all about menopause.

Here’s the first one I did, which still needs a head (ran out of paper)…

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Perhaps it needs two heads. I kinda like no head on the one in the water…It’s a little disturbing.

Then I did this one…which honestly is the one I think for sure needs to become a quilt…

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Wait. Except that’s not done. Turns out about 6 weeks later, I added stuff…

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Because it’s not just about what’s in the bathtub…it’s about what surrounds the bathtub too. I still have ideas for this. I like the parts that are submerged and slightly showing, like the fingers and toes. And not knowing what’s under the water. And I just thought of something to add to the one I finished last night too! Anyway. It’s all distracting me from what I really need to be working on (but that’s not a bad thing…a little distraction like this is beneficial to the artmaking process).

Last night, I sorted the browns for the recycled quilt…

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There’s a lot of them, which is good. Funny…Mariah tends towards mostly browns and blues, like my daughter. We’ll have to see if the quilt tends that way too. It might have to.

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I also sorted the grays, which took like 13 seconds and I didn’t even photograph, because she only had like 5 of them. I have yellows and blacks and a pile of owl fabrics that don’t fit in any specific colorway. So I could stop procrastinating and pick those fabrics for that quilt today. It’s small. It won’t take long. (trying to persuade myself…it’s gonna be a challenge to only be able to use what’s in the box.)

And then I spent over two hours cutting tiny pieces out…

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At some point, I had to stop and do arm and finger exercises, because they were cramping, and the muscles in my forearm were definitely sore after Thursday night’s cutting session. I’ve actually woken up with a swollen hand before. It feels OK today though, probably because of the exercises. We did figure out that the elbow pain from the Fall is not from weightlifting…it’s from moving the quilt under the sewing machine. So I have to wear an elbow brace while sewing. It’s an extreme sport, people. An extreme sport. The pile on the left is cut out. Trash is in the middle. So colorful. Still to be cut out is on the right. I’m over 4 hours in…still thinking 12 hours total, but maybe not? I don’t know. I get distracted and have to take a technology break, check Instagram to let my brain recover from staring at pencil lines on Wonder Under. That’s part of the task time too…persuading the brain not to give up.

OK. Girlchild is awake. Not happy about it, but being upright when you can’t breathe due to snottiness is better than lying down. Gonna get some work done, whatever that consists of…garden, house, school, art. Hoping for some recharging time later…


Why I Need a Robot

March 20, 2015

So. The good news is that the girlchild doesn’t have strep, her face has stopped swelling up like a balloon, the cat is back home and feisty about her meds (might be worms), and I actually had dinner before 9 PM last night. I really need a wife. Seriously. A MadMen wife who has dinner on the table when I get home and has done all the laundry and cleaned the house. Except I know that’s totally sexist. OK, I need a robot wife. Totally. I do. Right now, she’s making my breakfast AND my lunch and she made a nice little surprise dessert for me and is hiding it in my lunchbag, because she knows yesterday was a clusterfuck even though all ended well (OK, except for some seriously tiring and frustrating moments with teens, not all of them mine). Is that a bad thing to wish for?

At some point yesterday night, I started cutting out pieces for the Ventura quilt, but I was sitting there in my office, because I couldn’t sit on the couch, because there was a dead body in there (girlchild didn’t leave until after 8), and I was getting crankier and crankier, feeling absolutely disconnected from humanity and frustrated with my existence and my inability to get truly healthy, let alone to the gym like I was supposed to yesterday (ha! at the vet until 7:30 PM) and wondering how to change all that shit, because someone said something about the evening getting better than the day (well, the NIGHT at that point, because I spent the evening at the vet and well into the night in a texting argument with the girlchild that I kept trying to get out of because there was no point), and I thought…well how the fuck is the evening supposed to get better? Because I’m cutting out 900 tiny pieces of fabric? Because I’m watching TV by myself while cutting out 900 pieces of fabric? I mean, yes, it’s relaxing on some level, it’s very meditative, cutting those beasties out, running the scissors along, considering as I cut, what is the most efficient way to cut this tiny piece out or do I want to wait until I’m ironing so I don’t lose it and where are my tiny sharp scissors and maybe I should take that JoAnns coupon and buy me some better scissors (there are a LOT of things that run through my head when I’m making stuff…it’s like Babble City). What WOULD make it better? Ice cream. Cheesecake. Nope, both unnecessary and fattening. A visit from Santa Claus? Eh. A robot cleaning my house? Yeah. THAT would make it better. How about someone sitting next to me and having a conversation and not yelling at me for being stupid or insensitive (I am mostly not either of those things) or complaining or whatever. And joking about whatever we were watching. Or commiserating. Yup. That would have made it better. I need a robot that can do that. And maybe give me a backrub while it’s sitting there. I get a little of that (the connection part…not the backrubs), but not enough apparently to recharge my depleted personal batteries at the moment.

As it was, I was relieved to have everyone more well than I had thought they were in the morning. And then I stopped cutting and got my sketchbook…and the other bathtub drawing that I tried here…

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I stared at it for a bit, and then I sat there and drew most of a new one last night…

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It’s not done. It needs animals. And maybe a robot! But I got the hands and legs where I wanted them. And it was finer than the other one. And the whole bathtub got in the picture. Yeah. It was really a relief to draw it. It’s been in my head for weeks. There’s another one too. But I don’t know when I’ll be able to draw that one. It’s big.

Before I did all that, while dinner was cooking and girlchild was yelling, I sorted more recycled fabrics from Mariah…the oranges…

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And then the reds…

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Which included one of my favorites…

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I’ve never had the one with the hearts though. I’ll have to find a way to use that in the recycled quilt. Or something.

All folded up and ready to be in the next quilt…

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I’m keeping them separate from the rest of my stash right now, so I can make the quilt from them. Then they’ll go play with the others. It really is a random bunch. I still have browns and blacks to sort…and a few yellows. And I never finished the blues.

Then I settled down and cut out little tiny pieces of Ventura for about two hours…

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Cut out pieces on the left, trash in the middle, pieces left to cut on the right. It’s gonna be a while.

But I got started. And I’ll try to draw more tonight, to finish up that bathtub…and someday, maybe I’ll have enough of the required shit out of the way so I can start MAKING the bathtub series (ha!). And a robot to clean the bathtub…that would also be good. Actually, enough money to rip out one of the bathrooms and redo it with a NICE bathtub, because ours suck and I miss having baths (they are very relaxing), so that robot needs to come with a trust fund and a remodeling routine. Yup. Robots. That’s the solution.


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