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.

Dropping Balls…

March 19, 2015

What I woke up to (after someone shoved my sticky door open, making a horrible noise and giving me an adrenaline rush that made it impossible to go back to sleep): girlchild has been sick. Apparently that sick included a sore throat (a fact she did not share with me yesterday), which partially explains her swollen face and neck at 11 PM last night when she went to bed. Her dad is on doctor duty, once he finds her insurance card (minor issue). I think it’s strep. Yay! The elderly cat, who is decidedly not elderly when she wants to bitchslap a younger cat who might be in her territory, is apparently bleeding intestinally, and insists on walking around the house, dripping blood everywhere. I can’t get a sub this late. I’m hoping my mom can handle the cat. But who knows?

I’m personally praying to the Goddess of the Mother to keep me from strep, because I don’t have the time or energy for that shit right now.

SIGH. My students told me yesterday that all of us teachers were cranky and had no senses of humor at the moment. I refrained from telling them how close we are to Spring Break, because if I admit that it’s a week and a half away to THEM, they will stop working completely. As it is, I still have about 80% of them on task…for now. They’re right, though. I am cranky. I’m not getting recharged. I’m feeling distant and disconnected from everything and whether there’s hormones involved or not, it’s just fucking with me. I think I need a massage in a hot tub. With cheesecake.

I should be ecstatic somewhere in my head. Why? I finished ironing last night. Whoo! (OK, that was a faked WHOO, but if you fake it, apparently you can make it. I don’t actually believe that, because it’s never worked for me.). And I guess I am somewhat relieved…maybe.

Last night, I ironed a bunch of leaves and grass and blue hair (her hair is the water) and these are the jellyfish parts…

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And I also did goldfish and the sun…

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Those are sun parts. I used oranges for the goldfish.

It got later and later and I got more tired and I kept thinking, “Really, you should be grading. Why are you being so irresponsible?” Fuck that shit. Iron away baby. By the end of the evening, this is what the fabric pile looked like…

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I don’t keep them all neat while I’m working…I just clean it up each night so I can see it all again. While I’m working, I pile. But there’s more yellows in there and obviously the blues are there and I had to add another orange friend (it’s not really orange…it just has a lot of orange in it), plus some purple for the jellyfish, and some pinks for the shell that’s in there, and I don’t remember what else…oh, more green. Because there’s never enough fucking green.

SIGH. It’s done. It took 13 1/2 hours, much longer than I thought it would. I don’t know why. Whatever.

It also took 103 fabrics…

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Which is a lot. Looks very colorful…not sure what it will look like in real life. The larger pieces are more toned down…well, mostly.

And here’s my next task (minus the doctor thing and the vet thing and the sore throat/bloody anus thing, and then there’s the pool motor, which yeah, I don’t know, I’m just running water in there and praying)…cutting all of them out.

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That’s probably another 11 hours or so. Twelve? Fuck, why do I even estimate? No, seriously. Probably twelve. I’ll commit to that. If I do two hours a night (ha!), that’ll be 6 days. Except I won’t do that every night. But I only need it done by a week from Saturday. Earlier is fine. Then I can do the other recycled one. Then my first task of Spring Break (besides cleaning house and trimming the damn bougainvillea and finding some semblance of my happy) will be to iron it all together, so when my sewing machine gets out of its annual cleaning appointment, I can start stitching it down.

SIGH. I know. I said that already. In 18 minutes, I can start calling doctor, vet, and mom. Oh yeah, and going to work. At the same time. I’m sure there’s some ball I’m dropping today. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m fairly sure I dropped it.

A Sliver of a Place…

March 18, 2015

Eleven hours plus…I really wanted to just throw sleep to the wind last night, ignore the fact that my job requires you to be ON at all times and being asleep is not an option, and finish ironing. I am that close. Maybe another hour or so. But I was tired. Huh. Stupid body. What do you mean, you want to sleep? You suck at it. Yes, practice makes perfect, but you’ve been attempting this for 48 years now and obviously you just don’t have a talent for it (seriously, as a kid, I didn’t sleep well either). Just give it up.

Mom brain realizes it’s only Tuesday and I have to survive three more days of school, and lack of sleep makes me cranky, and I’m already cranky with the kids because they think grades are magical things that I bestow upon them, and if they have an F, it’s because I did not bestow upon them something better. It’s never that they just didn’t do the work. It’s on me.

So that was part of the frustration of yesterday that dragged me home behind my car and made me too tired to stand at around 11 PM.

OK, yes, I know. Many people go to bed WELL before 11 PM. It’s a perfectly reasonable bedtime. But when you know you could finish the monster task you’re on by 1 AM? Sigh. Well, obviously I was tired. Annoyingly, I’m still tired this morning, even though I have an extra hour of sleep under my belt. Hopefully I’ll finish tonight (the ironing. Not the sleep).

Last night, I ironed a fox and some thorns and some clouds and lightning. Honestly, it wasn’t much. I added some browns for variety…

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There’s some orangey browns for the fox too. But everything else was already in the boxes. The browns on the left, I didn’t put them away because I need them to hold up against the greens I haven’t yet picked for the leaves that grow on the brown branches (hello convoluted sentence). That’s where my brain balked, because I have multiple overlapping leaves, so I will need a run of greens and I was just too tired to contemplate it. It’s probably a good idea I didn’t, because my brain is sort of offline at the moment. Or there’s too many things in it. Hard to say which. Needless to say, I have a cut on my finger from cooking brainless last night, I’ve forgotten more than I’ve remembered, and my eyes are still at half mast.

It’s no fun to be annoyed by one’s own existence. I need to clean house, trim the bougainvillea so people can park in the driveway, clean up around the pool, fix the kitchen window screen, cut a piece of glass, buy a frame, hang some art, clean up, put the suitcase in the garage, dammit. How hard is that? The answer is that it all seems to take up so much time and I only have a few things I want to spend time on at the moment, and none of them involves a mop or clippers.

I’m in the 700s, smack dab in the middle of them…

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Although there are some 600s shoved off to the side…mostly roots and grassy bits that I haven’t dealt with yet, and then all the leaves, I think. Then all the big stuff on the bottom is up in her hair…so yeah, I am nearly done. It’s hair and some facial details (lips, eyes) that are not flesh tones, and then the sun on her head and that’s it.

Dammit. Why didn’t I just finish it off last night (you were too tired). Fucking limited hours in the day.

Ah yes. I’m in a mood. An artistic mood. One that tromps all over all the other moods. Except they’re still there. I’m still fighting that low-level depression that messes with sleep and happiness and contentment. I think one of the things that makes me keep creating is that I’m never satisfied…that when I finish one, it’s not enough. It doesn’t fill up an empty inside me, so I have to make another one. No, that wasn’t The One…and there will never be a The One, guys…I know that…there will never be A Piece that makes me think, OH! That was it. You don’t have to make any more art. You’re done. You did it. That was The One. Fuck that. I keep making because it’s NOT the one. Because there’s still something to be said. Because I couldn’t put it all in one piece. Because that one said This and I still need to say That.

AARGH. It was a frustrating day yesterday and I’m still carrying all that inside me. Maybe if I’d stayed up and not slept and finished, it would be OK. Or maybe I would still be frustrated. And fucking tired. Wait. I am tired.

Here’s the bin of stuff to be cut out…it’s going to be very exciting over the next week watching that pile get smaller and smaller…

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OK. Not really. I mean it’s slightly more exciting than watching paint dry, and sure, I get through a ton of stuff on my Tivo, but it’s not thrilling to watch or write about. But then the FOLLOWING week, I’ll be ironing it together, and that surely IS exciting. Plus it will be Spring Break, and Goddess knows I need that at the moment, even if it will be hours and hours of no one being around. There is no making my brain happy. Make art, which mostly has to happen in this solitary place, but you still need people…but not the ones that cause drama and scream at you. There’s a sliver of a place in there where I can exist and be content…if my brain lets me.

Ironing Like a Beast…

March 16, 2015

Sometimes stuff pisses me off.

I know you’re shocked by that.

But when it does, I do what my counselor always tells me: take care of yourself. Do something nice for yourself. Now with a normal female, that might mean a pedicure or shopping for a new skirt or chocolate. Eh. I make art. So when life conspired to punch me in the face yesterday, and I was sitting there, grading shit, still grading shit, always grading shit, hands shaking, so angry and upset and frustrated that I was about to cry, I took a deep breath, set a line for the end of the feeling and grading of shit, and decided to make art for most of last night.

Well, except, I also needed to sleep. So I did that too.

I kicked some ironing ass last night. But before I did, I started sorting all the recycled pieces from Mariah’s quilts for the second piece in Diverted Destruction 8, which opens June 27 in Los Angeles, by the way. I figure I’m going to need them grouped together instead of piled on the floor in the living room if I ever want to make a quilt out of them. Here’s pink sorted and purple piled…

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And here I am working on the green.

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Blue is mostly done. I did it while I had pneumonia. Sitting on the floor was doable then. So I have a few more colors to sort, and then I’m done with that. It’s overwhelming to sort these, so it’s better if I just do a little each day. I don’t have very much of most colors, so that makes it more difficult…lots of squares and triangles and strips…but that’s what this show is about. How do we take stuff that normally would get tossed out or put aside, and then turn it into art.

THEN I started ironing like a beast…this is all the flesh in the Ventura quilt…

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There isn’t much, because remember? No nudity, no politics, no violence. So she’s mostly covered. Her face and hands show, and her shoulders. And there’s bits of flesh showing behind things. But that’s it. So to iron the flesh colors, I had to pull pieces from the 300s, which is where I’m at, all the way through the 700s. So now I don’t know how far I am, except that I have 7 hours in. When did that happen?

And then I pulled fabrics for the great blue heron that makes up her left arm…

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Grays and blues, but the blue in the wings had to show up on the background, so that was a challenge. So now it has some purple in it. I’m OK with that. The idea of the heron will be there. And I picked some really interesting wing-feather fabric. Had to fussy cut the bits I wanted, because it goes all over the place into pink and I didn’t want that. Much. There’s some turquoise in there too. I left a little of that.

Anyway, so that got me to the end of the 300s, but half that wing was in the 400s (all the pieces from 435-485, basically…who numbered this thing?), so again, no idea how far along I am, but maybe have something over 500 pieces ironed? Maybe halfway? It doesn’t look like halfway, but what do I know? It must be halfway. I spent 2 1/2 hours ironing last night and then had a very hard time stopping. Made myself stop. Still tired this morning though…here’s all the fabrics I’ve used so far…

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You can see the fleshy run and the heron is all on the left. Next up is sunflowers I think…and then a cat? Or the heart. Not sure. Yes, she’s covered in plants and flowers, but there’s still a giant anatomical heart. This is all for a show where I have to jury in, by the way. So I might not get in. And I will only have one entry, because every single other piece I have has nudity, politics, or violence (or all three) in it. Sigh.

Here’s pieces ready to be cut out…filling up the box.

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Two weeks until Spring Break…and I’m still on schedule. Miraculous.

Here’s a chair that Kitten has destroyed…

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And now inhabits. I’m not fixing it until she’s gone. There’s no point, unless I use bulletproof fabric…and I’m not even sure that would stand up to Kitten claws.

Luckily, she leaves my fabric stash alone.

Not Thinking Too Hard…

March 14, 2015

I brought home 119 science packets last night, the last unit we completed. I had already graded 21 of them at school, one small class’ worth, but I really need to finish the rest over the weekend. Funny, this is the smallest number of students I have ever had (maxed out at 190 one year), but I still can’t balance the grading. You take a weekend off or you schedule it so everything is due at once, and all of a sudden, there’s an avalanche. I just started my 14th year of teaching, and I still can’t find a best practice on that part of the job.

So I sat there for about three hours…and I got through 68 of them. The pile on the right is done…

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The pile on the left is still staring at me…balefully. I watched a bunch of TV to drag me through it, and I got faster and faster (which is why sometimes it’s better to just bully through and do ALL of it at once, because once you’re on a roll, you DO get faster and faster). I stopped and made dinner in the middle (girlchild blew me off for yet another Friday night…whatever), and at around 10 PM, I quit. I have my smallest class and my largest class left. It’s easier to grade the good students, because everything is there, complete, and in order. The ones that kill me are the kids who don’t put anything in order and put random stuff in there (one kid stapled a field trip permission slip in there…guess it made it look more full). Sigh. Worst part of my job…well, besides navigating politics and administrators.

Anyway. I was exhausted by then, but in true Kathy fashion, I don’t ever let that stop me from making art. OK. Sometimes I do. But not last night. Just grading all night and not doing something for me makes me cranky. So I dragged myself into the office and looked at what was next to be ironed. And remembered I needed to do a label for the quilt that sold, so I did that first. By the way, the second Catching Cancer is available, if anyone’s interested…

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It’s 10 1/2″ w x 12 3/4″ h, $140. Let me know.

And then I started looking at elephant pieces. Teensy weensy wrinkles and eyeballs and lots of gray gray gray, which can be blue-ish or yellow-ish or brown-ish. Grays annoy me. I use them all the time. I love gray. But it drives me nuts. If I were really anal-retentive obsessive compulsive, all my grays would be sorted by their base color and I wouldn’t have to search all through a million bins trying to find the RIGHT gray (I never have the RIGHT gray. I am always buying more gray). So I needed a run of 7 fabrics for the elephants, because they are standing in front of each other, so you have to think about that.

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Well, YOU don’t. I do.

There’s only three elephants, but they take up about 100 pieces of Wonder Under…

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And I had to add fabrics for eyes and tusks. Here they are all laid out. The old Wonder Under is releasing like crazy. The new stuff is fucking awesome. It doesn’t release and the paper comes off like a dream. The only issue I’m having is that my iron is getting stuff stuck to it from the old Wonder Under, and I can’t get it clean enough, and that is having an issue with the paper of the new Wonder Under, which is really plasticky. I didn’t read the instructions (ha! never do…), so maybe I need to reduce the heat. Or clean my iron better.

It took about an hour to iron all the elephant pieces down…

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The next thing on the ironing list is an apple tree with the tiniest pieces ever…because some crazy woman thought that was a good idea. Then I move onto HUGE pieces of body parts and bird wings. I might need to go gray/white shopping. Seriously. There’s a huge heron wing in there, so I have to figure out what color that is. Blue gray? Maybe?

Underneath my feet while I iron…

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She was very tired. So was I at the end of it…girlchild came home way too late (apparently clocks are so passé). By then, I was sitting again (so tired yesterday…couldn’t stand to stand and iron for long), working on the binding, which has to get done today, so I can get it photographed tomorrow. Boom! Then I need to start the other recycled piece.

It’s good to be finishing these and moving on. I’m not enjoying the Have-To’s on the quilt front as much as I enjoy the Want-To’s, but those Have-To’s get into shows, and right now, with my rejection rate on the stuff I LIKE to make, if I’m going to be in shows, I have to cater a bit to whatever the hell it is they think they want. I can’t try to figure out why the stuff I really want to make, the stuff I enjoy, why it’s not getting into shows…unless it’s an invitational, so they don’t see it beforehand. I just have to move on and try to balance the stuff I really like with the stuff I need to make for whatever reason…paying the bills, participating in a group show. It is what it is. And I do actually think this Ventura quilt will be cool in the end…even though I really had to fight my own inclinations to get it drawn.

All right…I’m sewing that damn binding on now. Obviously I am Thinking Too Hard.


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