Sewing Ribs…

September 1, 2015

I should listen to my left eyelid. It’s twitching at intervals. It’s stopped again, but it was going like wildfire when I was feeding the animals. It’s a combination of high stress (too many deadlines! too many people want something from me! too many things need to get done!) and not enough sleep. You’d think if I were that tired, it would be impossible for me to wake up at 3 AM and be unable to go back to sleep, but no. It’s not. Because my brain’s in overdrive. I keep forgetting to do things because my calendar didn’t remind me (let’s put blame where it belongs…I didn’t put it in the calendar because I was sure I would remember…ha!) or it reminded me too early and I couldn’t do it right then and then I forgot about it. I’m a chicken with my hair on fire.

The funny thing is, I know in about a week, a huge part of the stress will be gone, although I think I’m replacing it with more stress (just bid on a copyediting job…but dammit, I need the money!). Whatever.

So yesterday I did manage things quite well. School was exhausting, but it always is for the first month. I have to remember that this is only the second full week of school. I especially have to remember that with certain students who are already an issue. Because I have 37 more weeks with them before I boot ’em to 8th grade. And maybe, just maybe, I can get that crazy under control. Or not.

I even went to the gym for the first time in a month, post-procedure. It was awesome, but I wanted to read my book and I had to deal with dueling texters and a Clash of Clans end-of-war that was kinda disastrous…so I didn’t get to read much. It helped to have dinner already pretty much cooked from the night before (keep that in mind). I was able to start sewing around 9 PM.

I had piled up the next batch of blues the night before…darker and more vibrant blues.

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You can tell I’m not even trying to match anything. I did originally think this was going to have more color, but…well…it’s not. There’s enough chaos going on. There will be more color as I go down, because it did finally color itself in my head the other night (while I was asleep), so that’s a good thing. It’s nice to know where you’re going.

I had sewn a dark strip down the middle of the torso the night before, because I thought this would be the best way to fill in the space…kinda like ribs.

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So I set the first piece as a triangle and followed it down.

It’s tiring to do this kind of sewing late at night. Lots of turning and twisting in the chair to iron and cut and get fabric. I wanted to quit many times, but I needed to get a significant amount done. The clock ticking down is freaking me out. So I got all the way down one side to the giant hole that will be in this thing.

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You can see the dog’s legs underneath. There has been a lot of animal interest in this space, since I am the only human around.

Here you can see the arm next to it. The arms will hang down towards the ground. The rest will be suspended above. I hope.

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Kitten has taken over the keyboard area. Midnight was behind the sewing machine for a while.

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I even started the other side and thought I could get another big chunk done…until a wave of exhaustion kicked me in the ass. So I stitched it down to get rid of the pins, and then I packed up for bed.

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Here’s where I’m sewing and ironing. You can see how much of the side is left, plus the legs coming down.

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Oh holy moley. I’m not out of the woods yet. So my new goal is to have all the pieces covered, sewn down, by the end of Friday night. Then Saturday I can do batting, background, sew it all down, etc. Whatever that’s going to look like. I left Sunday open because I know I will need more time than I think I will. I have some other things I’d like to do if I have the time, but realistically? I may very well not. But there’s an eyeball and a uterus and a heart that could go on there…if there’s time.

Sometimes, though, you just have to do what you can and accept that it’s done. Like this blog post (school!).

Black Head…

August 31, 2015

What was my goal for sewing this weekend again? I know it was get the torso to some point…which I did. I feel like I didn’t get as far as I wanted though…the head wanted to be black…

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There’s a reason for that. Interesting thing about severe depression. It actually changes your brain. Like physically. And then when bad shit happens, even when you just have a bad day, the brain spirals much quicker than it would before the depression. When I was sewing the head, my own head was in a bit of a spiral. It’s mostly out again, but it’s hard to kick that black head.

I sewed the head down over a neck piece that was already there. Then I started filling in the upper chest, which was kind of a pain because I couldn’t just string piece like I did on the arms. So I messed with it and made it work.

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The dark is for under the breasts…it has to go down first so I can sew the breasts down on top of that.

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That’s where I quit on Saturday…wanted to be further, but that didn’t happen.

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Sunday, I really hoped to have more time, but that’s life. The plus is that my school website is up and running, all my school stuff for the week is done (well, mostly), and I prepped food for the week as well, hopefully to forestall the lame foodness of last week, when I didn’t really prepare. We’ll see how that works.

So Sunday night, late, I started in on the breasts again…

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And got both done…plus a plan for the torso above the hole.

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This is not the easiest thing in the world to photograph. But there’s the rest, the torso and legs, which still need to be done.

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No. It’s not a small amount. The plus is that it finally colored itself in my head, and I think I have a plan for finishing the whole thing, although it may not matter, because if I run out of time, I’m cutting the finishing out.

I’m still not feeling OK about this getting done in time. I do have to teach and sleep and eat. Maybe I will feel better by Friday. I hope I feel better by Friday.

This piece is for a show called Response


I don’t really know what to say about the response part, because that kind of disappeared for me at some point. But whatever. I’m still responding to them, even though their response was to run away! OK, not really. Sometimes a response is to hide or gather in a circle for protective reasons or to pull the blanket over one’s head. The opening is September 12 from 6-10 PM at Space4Art in downtown San Diego. I’ll be there for the early part at least. Not sure how long I’ll last.

There’s always at least one animal in here with me, often Kitten. Sometimes all three are in here. Right now it’s Calli. Last night it was Kitten.

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I did take time out on Sunday to see the traveling bit of the SAQA trunk show that is in Southern California.

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It was a nice break, got me out of my head for a bit.

Then I came home and prepped 12 breakfasts (bacon, egg, and zucchini muffins)…

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Yes, they taste as good as they look. Plus 2 dinners and 4 lunches. Five lunches would have been better, but it didn’t work out that way. No, I don’t mind eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch for days. Dinner though? I need variety. So I tried to build that in there. We’ll see if I have the energy to actually cook it by the end of the week.

Wish I had more positivity with which to start the week. I think it’s just Head Down until I get enough done that I can breathe.

Giant Shift

August 28, 2015

Wednesday night I made a giant artistic shift, putting down (well…hanging up) my current project that has been my obsession for about 6 weeks so that I could finish the project that is supposed to be installed on September 7. I can’t really guess how much time it will take to make (although sometime around the 6th I should have a good idea, right? One would hope…), because it’s not something I normally do. It’s just all about sewing strips on over and over and over. It would help if I weren’t exhausted most nights, or if I didn’t have 17 other things to do, like type up rosters and figure out who my low language learners are, or even who my resource kids are (that was a bit of a surprise, I must say. I kinda like teaching the first week not knowing that, because I had pegged 7 OTHER kids as resource…OK, no, one I was sure about…and now I’m having to seriously rethink). ANYWAY. School sucks up your brain. My brain.

But I was trying to fall asleep last night…went to bed early (not much) because I was so tired, and then couldn’t get my brain to stop trying to figure out the final construction of this piece, because honestly, I don’t have to do that step if I run out of time. It will still do what I want it to do if the edges are not finished. If there’s no batting. It will still work. So I should worry less about that and more about how to find a bunch of hours and a burst of energy to get this thing done.

I should admit that I had a union training after school yesterday, so I didn’t even get home until 7, so I should stop being growly at myself for not recovering sooner. It’s true I didn’t start until 10, but it’s not like I wasn’t doing anything. I had rosters to do etc. and then I had to eat.

So I kept going on the hand I’d already started, heading up the arm.

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The biggest problem with this is that it’s unwieldy. I finally cut the arm away from the body, because it was easier to sew it that way, but the majority of the rest of it is sitting in my lap. And it will be seriously heavy too. Fabric is heavy. So I tossed a bunch of lighter fabrics in the mostly blue range onto that table and I sewed the one arm until I ran out of them. Then I debated in my head whether to pick another bunch and continue up the arm or whether to start the other hand, since they’ll both be hanging down together and I want them to be similar, but not the same.

I decided to sew the other hand using the same pile of fabric, and when I’d finished those, I could continue up the arm.

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I didn’t get very far until I realized how tired I was. So I didn’t get super far. Sigh. Yes, I went to bed before midnight. A shocker.

Here’s the two so far together…

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That’s about an hour and 20 minutes worth of work (which included pulling all the fabrics). OK. Seventeen feet of torso and legs to go. Plus the rest of the arms. And some of it will be much fussier than this. There’s a hole in the middle plus there’s boobs and I don’t know if I want to make that obvious. I think I do. But I’m not sure how I’m going to do that.

My plan is to come home tonight and just sew (except I really need to remember to eat at a reasonable hour). There’s a work gathering at a bar, but I will just get more tired and will get nothing done. Plus I’m not in the mood. I’d like to see how much I can get done if I come home (after one or two errands) and just sew for 4 or 5 hours. I need to see that I can get a considerable amount done if I focus. I know I’m stressed about this because my eyelid has been twitching again.

It would be a lot easier to do all of this if it weren’t so hot in the house, I have to say. Oh well. Heat does suck energy out of you too.

I’m going to be a much happier camper when this thing is done. I hope it looks OK. Then I can get my butt in gear on the other one. Which also might make my eyelid twitch. So I’d like to see a significant part of this sewn down, at least to the belly, including both arms and the head, by the end of the weekend. See. I set a goal. Let’s see what I do with it.

Ah Yes. Overwhelmed. I Remember You Well.

August 26, 2015

OK. OK. So this is what overwhelmed feels like. I get it. I’ve been here before. I came back to multiple emails about when I’m installing a piece I really haven’t started (two weeks. breathe deep), a bunch of classroom changes (whatever, remember your mantra), and something that’s due on Friday (homework?). I’m still not anywhere near caught up for school, although I’m better this morning than I was yesterday morning. I used to have prep period right after homeroom, so if I needed to set up or plan for classes that day, I did it then. No longer! I have a 2nd period science class, so I have to be ready to rumble before school starts. And then 3rd period comes and my brain freezes. I need to get to the point that I’m prepping for the NEXT day during 3rd period. Yeah. Maybe next week.

Mom delivered a new iron last night, but my exhaustion level almost took me to bed at 10. Then I remembered all those emails I was supposed to answer and some bills I had to pay and other things to be put right, so I did all that and then the clock said 11:45. Weird how that happens. I tried to get the dog to go to bed in my room, because that’s where she ends up anyway, but she was having none of it. I think she really wanted to sleep ON the girlchild’s bed, but I haven’t finished the 8 loads of laundry yet, so that wasn’t an option. Moved her bed back in her mom’s room. Went to bed myself. Dog in my room 10 minutes later, whining. Do you need water? Like having a 2-year-old. No water. Just whiny. Go to bed, you silly dog. You’re not sleeping ON the bed with me.

Dirty dishes washed, dinner was frozen leftovers from two weeks ago. Smarter things that I did. Have to go back to the grocery store today, because I thought I had meat and I don’t. Lunches are still cobbled together from whatever I can find in the fridge or the cupboard. There’s lots of cheese and crackers. I am still exhausted.

And no art got done yesterday after all that. Not surprising. But I need to get my head down and get this thing done. I feel like if I could start, it would get done quickly, but I don’t even know. And maybe I don’t care as much as I should, because it was supposed to be a collaboration and that fell apart. Whatever! The mantra. Don’t lose it. And the other piece will be awesome, but I’m gonna have to bust my butt to get it done on time as well. Basically, besides school stuff and the meetings/stuff I already have on my calendar, don’t expect me to leave the house except for my job and groceries. I’m going to try to fit the gym back in (I meditated last night too). Three things on my list for the Fall: Meditate, go to the gym, eat healthy.

The rest of it is more for family and friends who know the girlchild and are trying to imagine her in a triple with two roomies (hey I was there, and I’m still trying to imagine it). Or if you’re sickly fascinated with our college ritual of shoving kids who don’t know each other into tiny spaces together and waiting for explosions…

Girlchild has the top bunk, because she arrived last. It’s a bit rickety (I know, because I climbed up there and made the bed)…

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Three closets (tiny!) in a row. Crazy when you figure winter clothes have to fit as well.

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A view out the door to their second room, with the other bed on the right.

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There are three desks in the other room and not a lot else.

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Girlchild is trying to fit everything she owns on and in this desk…

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She does have a nice view of tree-filled hillside.

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Her desk in the first incarnation (I’m sure it will evolve).

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It sucks to be on the top bunk…no underbed space. So underdesk space it is (trust me, I tried to find another option. It’s her problem now).

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Her actual dorm. That small building in front is connected and has a kitchen! She may survive yet.

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And her quad. Probably will look much different in about 3 months.

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Anyway, she’s there, I’m here, her dog is on the floor next to me, and now I’m late to school. Whatever.

Reworking the Goal

August 21, 2015

Goood Mooorning El Cajon! Ugh. The tired! I went to bed “early” last night. OK, not really so early, but I started moving towards bed and closing windows and crap BEFORE midnight. That’s how you know I’m tired. I’m missing the third day of school because I’m taking the girlchild to college, so I had to write sub plans, and I basically revised my entire plan last night, because it wasn’t going to work. It may STILL not work, but I’m at the healthy point of No Care. Worst case, the kids lose a day of instruction early in the year. Imagine how we feel if we get sick the week before state testing? Anyway, so that took some time yesterday and so did the girlchild panicking about luggage space (I was allotted a 10″x3″ space in one of the suitcases for my clothes…luckily Boston is warm right now, so all I need is a bikini.). I let boychild manage that (seriously, I don’t need to be involved in ALL the freakouts). He seems to be mostly packed. He hasn’t asked me to ship anything yet, so we’re good.

Today I will have to be very focused and get lots of prep done so when I get back, I can function, for some definition of the word function.

But the quilt…the quilt is almost ironed together. I really didn’t want to stop last night, but I was so tired that I knew I had to. I had already had an ironing incident (easily fixed). I finished up the bits on the hand that I didn’t get done the night before, and then did the tiny bird. His OW speech bubble is done too, although it’s not here…it’s in the box.

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If you haven’t picked up on it yet, the other figure is all about Mother Nature and Mother Earth and natural stuff. This one is obviously about population and civilization and pollution and how we damage the earth.

I wanted to finish the face last night, but that just became impossible. I did get the nuclear power plant in on her shoulder, and I got some of the face done…

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But once I got this far, I was going to have to lay out the next 100 pieces to keep going, and I couldn’t even do that. Usually I try to, so that it’s easy to come in the next night and start ironing again (I really don’t like laying them out…it’s boring). But the cool thing is that there’s only two boxes left…the 1700s and the 1800s, and that one isn’t even full. I really am in the last couple of hours here (if you don’t count ironing it down to the background). I’d love to say that’s gonna get done tonight. Really. But one kid flies out tonight and I fly out early tomorrow with the next kid. I think it’ll be a miracle if I get done before I leave, unfortunately. I’m about 24 hours into the ironing. Longer than I thought.

Oh well. Deep breaths. I’ll find a way to get it all done. I may have to rethink my priorities a bit. Maybe.

I think this is going to be a fairly awesome quilt though. It’s coming together nicely. I love watching the picture in my head translate into fabric reality. Now I just need to manage the other piece.

Girlchild came with me to school yesterday and renumbered all my textbooks and labeled all the folders for the kids and put them in color piles and typed up all the rosters (which will all change over the next week or so, but whatever) and put the goggles away and I don’t even remember what else, until I let her come home and start packing. Today is her last day with friends, so I don’t think we’ll see her for 12 hours or more, but that’s OK. At the moment, everything turns into an argument with both kids pretty much, and I’m too tired to seriously censor myself, so it’s better that way. My SIL hears the real complaints. Although after talking to her last night, I now feel like I have a significantly inferior spice-jar setup in my cabinet. I don’t think I care, though. I visually know where they all are. That’s about all I need in my life right now…a generalized idea of where a spice might be. She makes me WANT to care though. We also discussed dishwasher-filling preferences. These are very important conversations (other shit was in there too, of course).

So reworking the goal. Finish ironing the head tonight. Maybe piece the background (wasn’t that Wednesday’s plan? Damn.). Then come back from Boston and iron to backing and stitch down next week. It’s off the machine by Saturday. Then I get that 17-foot human done. In a week. Or so. Where did that panicked breathing come from? Meditate. That too.

Not Where I Want to Be

August 20, 2015

Honestly, right now, I’d rather be in bed. I haven’t trained my brain to shut down early enough yet for school sleep hours. It’s not that I go to bed a whole lot earlier when I’m teaching; I’m still up until midnight or later, but I can fall asleep pretty quickly. Maybe that’s after days and days of inadequate sleep. The last few nights, though, my brain’s a go-cart, racing around turns, hugging the ground, adrenaline at peak levels. It won’t shut the fuck up so I CAN go to sleep. It’s analyzing this or that, trying to remember what needs to get done, writing stories, drawing pictures, calculating finish times, available time. Geez. Just lie down and go to sleep. You know you want to.

Last night, I really wanted to iron way earlier. I left school early, because I was (mentally?) done, but then needed to replace tires on the kids’ car (couldn’t get boychild to do it by himself), go to the grocery store, and make a last-minute trip to Staples for the stuff I forgot the last time I was there. Then I had to go return the boychild’s jeans for longer ones (sigh. Mr. Highwater makes a comeback. Remind me never to believe him when he comes out of the dressing room and says they’re fine. Go the fuck back in there, put them on again, and let me SEE.). Loads of fun. I was so tired by the time I got home that I went horizontal on the couch and stayed there for at least an hour.

And there weren’t even kids there yesterday (well, there were, but 6th graders for orientation…not a lot of interaction on my part). The exhaustion due to interaction will increase…I don’t think nonteachers realize how kamikaze our days are. It’s just nonstop from when you show up on campus until you walk away, and then you come home and work some more.

So after making myself get off the couch and cook dinner, I came in here and started managing stuff, like college payments and I don’t even remember what else. It was 11 before I started ironing, unfortunately. I really wanted to be done with ironing yesterday. Notionally, I could have handled being done today, but I suspect I will be hella tired when I get home (see horizontal couch syndrome documented previously in patient’s history), and there will be some period of time when I’m not moving. Eventually, about a week or so into the year, the exhaustion gets better, but September is notoriously sucky. Around about the end of September (which, by the way, is when the first progress reports go home), the workload seems to ease up and everything calms down a bit. But that’s when our school will be rolling out our send-a-computer-home plan. Whatever. Remember? That’s my mantra. No worries. Whatever.

Ironing. It’s what’s for dinner.

Julie thinks I should have done all the rivets on the heart (and in other places) using French knots. I did consider that, but then I wanted them to be flat, not popping up. I could have done them with silk ribbon, really tight, and I might have been able to get that, but it really wasn’t that hard to cut them out. It was time-consuming, but not hard. And I like how they look. The heart will look much better when the black stitching outline is in there too.

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Then I started on the arm, which has riveted piping running down it…yup, more rivets.

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And I’m looking at the clock and saying to myself, yes, self, you really do want the whole head ironed tonight. I know that. However, it’s approaching midnight and tomorrow is the first day of school. Are you fucking nuts? Because you can’t really see this yet, but there are buildings coming out of her head, and every building has windows in it. Lots of windows. Because if you haven’t figured out from the rivets and the power lines, I’m a fucking nut when it comes to detail on my quilts.

Yeah. The documented truth there. Fucking nuts.

I ironed the main part of the hand, and then I made myself stop.

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I knew there was no way I was getting all of that done, and it wasn’t worth the lack of sleep and crankiness that comes with that to keep going. It’s not where I wanted to be. Whatever. It happens all the time. That’s why I set goals…so I can constantly NOT meet them. I do usually make the big ones, though, so keep that in mind.

Except then I couldn’t fall asleep for an hour. So that was kinda stupid. Whatever.

I asked the girlchild to clean up some spaces she inhabits before she leaves for school (not just a room, but a couch she has appropriated as The Couch of Dumping and a space on the kitchen table). She says she doesn’t have time. She tried to blame me for having her go to school today with me to help, but she hasn’t been at school all week, like she normally is; she’s been socializing. For HOURS. Because she’s leaving her friends and it’s like they’re DYING. Sigh. They have email and texting. We had to send letters. Or talk on the phone. And there were no cell phones, so you had to be in your room with a phone attached to a wall and a cord to the receiver. I know. Like seriously. All I want is a relatively clean space, and apparently that’s not happening. So sometime next week, there might be pictures of me with trashbags piled on her bed of all the crap so I don’t have to look at the mess for 4 months. I’m really kind of irritated by that, but I remember the boychild, who’s generally pretty neat, doing the same thing last year because he packed at the last minute and didn’t have time to clean up.

Whatever. It’s not where I want to be. I will GET there. But yeah.

Cats Lie on ALL the Stuff…

August 19, 2015

Late nights. Art brain on a roll. Can’t make it stop. Followed by teacher brain and mom brain. Won’t let me sleep. I’m kind of a mess today. That said, I think most teachers start the year on almost no sleep, so how is this different? It’s not. I got a super-late ironing start last night. Had work to do for school…Kitten was a big help.

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As long as I didn’t need any of those keys she was lying on (you will not backspace bitch), she was happy.

When I was done with all the computer stuff, I started ironing. It was probably 11. I started on the arm and the upper torso.

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Because I really want to be further along than I am. ALWAYS. So I kept going…did both breasts…

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And that was where I was going to stop…but Kitten was lying where my iron belongs (because I was now ironing instead of computing, so she had to be involved. Realize this means she moved about 6 feet from her previous position…it’s a small room), so obviously I couldn’t put it down. I would have to continue to work.

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Really, if you sew at all, you know that cats will lie on ALL the things, especially what you need at the moment, what you don’t want to be covered with hair, and whatever might be completely in the way of what you’re doing. I’ve had cats that spent hours trying to lie on what I was actually ironing (Limbo, that would have been you), so really, she’s pretty benign. She never aims for the spread of tiny pieces on the table or the ironing board itself. We’re good.

I started ironing the heart (yes, that’s Voyager in the background…think I’m almost done with the series)…

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Then I realized it has about 30 rivets in it and I stopped. Plus it was almost 1 AM. But you can see above how big the SMALLER figure is…There’s still an arm and a large head on this thing. The larger figure isn’t even ironed fully together yet. It will be large.

I’m in the 1500s…

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In pieces, not on the timeline. There’s not much left, but school starts tomorrow. Hard to say when I will get all this where I need it to be. I think I’m at 21 hours of ironing. But I spent over 8 hours at school yesterday and today will be similar. Usually I have more help from my daughter, but she is saying goodbye to all her friends, so I’m not a priority…which is fine. Mostly it’s a matter of focus. I wander the room and a project calls and then the next one interrupts. I think I could teach tomorrow RIGHT NOW (OK, no, someone needs to hole-punch and staple stuff) if I had to.

My plan to finish ironing this tonight is not going to happen, but hopefully I can get all the pieces ironed together at least, and maybe piece the background. Maybe even deal with the issue of the dark pieces being too dark. I know it’ll take a couple of hours to get it ironed to the background though, so maybe that’s Thursday night. We’ll see. I know Friday night is driving boychild to the airport and forcing girlchild to pack (but I might need to wear ALL the things!). Then Saturday early is driving to the airport again and flying to Boston. That means my books need to be assigned, my sub plans need to be set up, and my room has to be ready to roll for that poor guest teacher. Before I leave. I can sleep on the flight maybe (I am so tired right now).

Tonight? Arm and head. Keep it simple.


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