Today I Read

April 12, 2018

The first week back to school after a break is always hard. This one seems to be chock full of meetings and other afterschool stuff, which just makes it harder. I’ve needed to go to the chiropractor for days, but had to reschedule to pick up my car, and now it’s gotten worse. Today is the day! Hooray! Tonight is also an art opening. Yesterday was book club…there was a lot of discussion about the characters and the world the book was written in…The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison.

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I used to do book reviews on here all the time. I don’t know why I got out of the habit. I still read all the time. Anyway, this book was good, good enough for me to read the whole thing in about 3 days flat over break (while driving around New Mexico and Arizona), mostly because I panicked and realized book club was this week. There’s a lot of interesting geological science in the book, obviously from a fantasy/sci fi viewpoint, plus some version of a post-apocalyptic/dystopian future. All the good things! And the 2nd book is already available…I think the 3rd book is out as well.

I also started (and finished) Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire, which is a pretty trite title for a kind of dark little book. It’s short and not sweet, but definitely an interesting read.

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I know I’ve read something from McGuire before, but I don’t even remember why this was on my list (probably someone at book club mentioned it and I requested it from the library). Honestly, at the beginning of break, every book I’d requested from the library showed up at once, so I had to re-request two of them, and this was one of them. It’s about, well, wayward children, but those who go into different worlds and then fall out of them for a variety of reasons and can’t figure out how to get back. It’s a fast read.

I now have two books (only!) on the library app. And about 2 weeks to read both.

Last night, when I got back from book club, I was too tired to engage the drawing brain, so I finished the McGuire book and started a new one, a Louise Erdrich book (been reading her for years). It’s not like I have tons of time to read…I have to usually choose between reading or art, which might be why I’m reading less than I used to. I miss it. I miss sitting around on the couch for a couple of hours, immersed in a novel. So often these days when I try to do that, I fall asleep. Or I feel guilty because I know I should be grading. I didn’t grade yesterday because I had a union meeting and I was making a slide presentation for today so I wouldn’t have to write the same stuff 5 times. Grading is kicking my butt right now. I can’t find the time.

Did I tell you my sleep apnea study was fine? I sleep normal…for me. Which is badly. Unless I’m on the couch trying to read a book. Then I sleep fine. Although I woke up to the sneezy cat on my chest.

Anyway, after tonight’s opening, I’m hoping I have the energy to come home and work on the drawing. I miss making art when I don’t do it. It makes the next work day harder. I feel emptier. So I guess reading fills the space with a story right then and there, but art makes me feel like I accomplished something, that I’m making something, and that’s somehow more important to me. Good to know.

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Time Has Come As We All Go Down*

February 28, 2018

Today is the day I’ve been preparing for, the day I get (shit…I don’t remember how many students I have right now…hang on…133 students)…wait, it doesn’t matter how many kids I have, because inevitably, a bunch of kids won’t hand them in, but hey! Let’s be optimistic, even though we’re a public middle school teacher in March about 4 weeks before Spring Break and 3 days before the end of the trimester and there’s very little optimism available to my brain right now, let’s say I get 133 science units turned in today! Yeah! Let’s say it! Yeah! Then I need to grade them all before, well, honestly, Monday night. Yeah! And my doctor is gonna give me shit tonight about working too many hours and not exercising enough! Yeah! And I’m gonna tell her that on the days when I do 12,000 steps AT SCHOOL before I even leave to go home, hell, there’s no steps left in me (not true…I do more because dogs). Yeah!

I do work too many hours. I don’t exercise enough. This is not the time to stress about that balance. When my grades are done, I can stress about it. If I get far enough in the grading by Sunday, I can even take time off and go to the gym. That’s my goal at the moment. It’s a few days out, so it’s still doable. Meanwhile, my lunch is made, I have a plan for the day to balance my sanity with my job (that’s a thing…and this week, that means I’m allowed one Rice Krispie treat a day. ONE, doc, ONE.), and I’m hoping to come home and (well, grade a bunch of science units, honestly) iron the last body down. Hopefully. It’s about 150 pieces, so it’s doable.

By the way, when it’s cold, apparently it’s acceptable to have a cat face up your butt…

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After dinner was eaten, while once-nightly TV show is being watched, I have been sewing on circles…I figure I will never get them done otherwise. I think I got three done.

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Then off to the ironing (I did grade before all that). See this is the part I was kind of afraid of…that’s a lot of little tiny spine pieces…

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But honestly? It was pretty easy to iron together. Because of all the metallics, I used a press sheet between iron and fabric…and I’ll need to remember to keep doing that.

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I decided the space in her back was going to be just that…SPACE. There’s definitely a space theme going on in this. I guess I’m thinking of all the potential a teenager has…and it feels like they have all the potential of SPACE. Or something like that. It’s HUGE.

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Then I laid the spine piece all ironed together on the space and put the border around it…and voila! ‘Twas awesome. Seriously. I really like it.

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Kitten is not so sure…

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I gave her some hair and finished all the finger bits, thus getting me into the 520s or so.

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One figure done. The other one does have another 150 pieces, true…but I don’t think they’re as bad as those back pieces. We’ll see tonight. Then hopefully iron down to the background on Thursday night and start stitching down? I’m not sure how these fabrics will deal with that, but let’s just assume it will work out. Yeah!

That optimism (that really isn’t optimism…it’s some sort of crazy)…is what will get me through the day. Maybe.

Oh yeah, I just finished this book…Golden Hill by Francis Spufford…

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My ex-SIL sent it to me at Christmas and I just started reading it a few weeks ago. At first, I was like…um…this is 18th-century stuff and I’m sort of a fan at times, but it’s not easy to read, but after a few pages in, I realized, OMG. No really. OMG. This book is great. It’s funny as hell sometimes and stressful at others but it was published just a few years ago by someone who generally doesn’t write fiction, but does like history. So the history is there, and it’s definitely got some accuracy going, but then he throws in this half-assed explanation of sword fighting that made me almost fall out of my chair. And he full on admits its half-assed. The ending is also awesome. So yeah, I recommend this book…and if he writes any more like this, I’m in. Totally in.

Now I have less than two weeks to finish my book club book. Yikes. Priorities.

*Kaleo, Way Down We Go (didn’t we just hear this one while writing not that long ago???)


Settle Down, It’ll All Be Clear*

February 14, 2018

I am currently being harassed by a puppy. He doesn’t understand mom’s morning routine. He doesn’t know I’m running a lab today, I have a parent meeting before school, I still have duty before and after school, and there’s a union meeting after school. Ugh. Long day. Oh yeah, and a pre-observation meeting. I typed up my lesson plan, but realized yesterday that I have a hard time getting my head around the constructs administrators like to use to observe whether we’re teaching correctly. I do it automatically…it’s harder to pull out the pieces and say, oh yeah, here I do this and here I do that. I just do it. But this should be the last observation for another 5 years unless I piss off another principal. That’s the reality of it sometimes…who did you poke too many times. Frustrating job. And people wonder why we need unions. But that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.

Oh yeah, and it’s V-day. Happy Valentine’s Day to y’all. If you like that stuff. Too much chocolate for the likes of me.

Puppy went outside with his big sister. Can’t send him out alone. Too many coyotes.

Yesterday was also a long day, but I currently have a very heavy piece of James E. Watts’ art residing in the boychild’s bedroom, waiting for the exhibit that will open mid-March. I’m glad he trusted me to drive off with one of his kokeshi. More about that later…when I actually have details.

I have to admit that I finished my book before I ironed last night…mostly because it was due to the library today, and because it’s electronic, they just take it. I can’t hold onto it and just pay the fine. I had about 60 pages left. It was good. The next one in the series is on hold, but I’m about number 5 on the list. I’m reading the James S. A. Corey series that was used for the Expanse TV show; just finished book 2. I actually think the books are way better. But now I don’t know what I’m reading next…whatever I can find in the pile, I guess.

Then I ironed. So it was a late start. I have a little over 7 hours into the ironing so far and it’s going to be a while…the flesh parts are next and they are time-consuming.

This is all I have of this yellow fabric. I started with a half yard many many years ago. Seriously, I started buying quilting cottons 27 years ago. This one is useful, although you are looking at the back of it.

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I do have my favorites. Not much left of this one.

Here are the two metallics Julie bought for me on sale, from some store going out of business. I was considering metallics for the screws and posts in the spine of the lefthand figure. A different kind of bling…

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The question was whether they’d hold Wonder Under and if the heat of the iron would destroy them.

Well…I did use a pressing cloth, just in case. The bright silver one is fussier than the darker leathery one (which is a great texture), but I think they iron fine. Stitching them might be a pain, but what’s new? I’ve used satin and sequin stuff before, and it was the same issue with them…permanent holes.

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I’ll probably test out the stitching tonight, just to make sure I want to use them. Well, I want to use them…but how much of a pain will they be? Gotta test that shit out.

Here’s the pile of fabrics so far…yes, there’s the sun on top. It was actually in the 700s, but I finished all of the 300s that weren’t flesh colored, and I wasn’t ready to pick flesh tones (it was almost midnight), so I did the sun early.

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Honestly, I’m about halfway, and the rest of it is all the two bodies in the quilt…so mostly flesh. I’m hoping to pick those tonight, and then maybe Thursday get all the innards done. Like bones (so many bones) and metal bits and hearts and trees…because yes, one of the figures has a tree. Why not? Exactly.

It’s actually a metaphor for the metal that’s helping her spine stay straight…the trunk of a tree? Yeah? OK. Just nod your head. I’m not good at the explaining part of my quilts.

Here’s the pile of pieces ready for cutting…

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And the group photo…

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It looks so chaotic at the moment. It will all come together and make sense. I used some of my favorite fabrics in the sky…space is a cool place for purples and blues. For a while, a lot of my quilts had layers of earth at the bottom (I don’t know why I say “for a while”…like I’m going to stop doing that. I still like it)…now I’m branching out into space. Anyway…I’m enjoying this part of the quilt. It makes the long days doing work stuff worthwhile. I also spent some time last night trying to map out some exhibit entries…there’s a bunch of stuff in the next few weeks that needed decisions…I think I made them, although now I’m wavering in the morning light. I’ll let it sit for the day and then decide for real.

*Phillip Phillips, Home


I See This Life Like a Swinging Vine*

January 25, 2018

Well the sick is going away, so that’s good. I did sit down for most of yesterday, though, and I won’t be able to do that today. It’s a lab day. It’s a walk-the-room-and-avert-disaster day. Although this one isn’t bad. Last year, though, one kid read the instructions wrong and destroyed a significant portion of the materials. We’re ready for that this year. Reading instructions is hard…especially when you’d rather just mess around and make people laugh. Cooperative learning is difficult y’all.

The girlchild is still alive. We’re currently using Facebook Messenger for communication and she’s posted one picture on Instagram. It will be harder later when she has spottier or nonexistent internet. She has to have some for school, but not every day, and since she’ll be living with host families for part of the time, there’s no guarantee that they will have internet. I thought about telling the boychild I was gonna have to text him more to make up for radio silence from the girl, but I knew he’d just ignore me. It’s only the first week she’s been gone…I’ll get adjusted soon enough.

I was more efficient yesterday, despite feeling like warmed-over crap. I graded two assignments and part of a third, including the stuff I did when I got home. Then I rested, because still tired, even if not that sick. And then I started quilting.

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Apparently I did almost an hour and a half. I must have been feeling better. Honestly, as soon as I started feeling really tired and spacey, I quit. But I got some of the quilting done. Broke a needle too. Exciting stuff.

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There’s at least 3 more hours of quilting in this. My quilt class tonight was rescheduled, so I can quilt…and grade…because I still need to get caught up on that. If I’m smart, I’ll bring my school computer home, so I can lounge around on the couch with animals sandwiching me while I grade. It is somewhat comforting.

This morning…up early for a meeting, so I get to see the sunrise in all its glory…

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The phone camera never really captures the pinks and purples well, unfortunately.

I finished reading Leviathan Wakes, the book that was the basis of the TV show The Expanse. I wish I’d read the book first…it made more sense, but then I had the TV characters impressed on my brain. So it’s for book club and we usually read relatively recent stuff (not always)…so when it said there was a series in the plan, I figured, ahhh, I’m gonna have to wait to see the rest. Oh no. This book is not new. The series will have 9 books and 7 are already published…and if they’re all in the 600-page range, I could read them (presuming they remain being good) for quite a while. The second one was available for the Kindle on my library app (I don’t buy many books any more)…so it’s next on my list. I’m intrigued that two people wrote them…I always wonder how that works. I suspect I could Google that. Anyway, I’m hoping they stay good. I wanna read a big long story that continues for a long long time.

OK, well, I’m running low on cold meds…debating trying to get them before school, but think the pharmacy doesn’t open early enough (it doesn’t). I should have gone last night (I didn’t). Guess I will limp along on what I have here.

*One Republic, Counting Stars


Leaving in 2 Minutes…

January 3, 2018

Well I have a whopping 14 minutes here to publish something. Today is sorta crazy busy, compared to all the other days over break. I really did dump everything into one day. Easier to deal with? Who knows. My computer is charged, my bag has at least one sketchbook and writing-in notebook and more than 5 pens. Because you never know. You need all the kinds.

Ready to go back? Fuck no. Not even.

Yesterday was kind of a mental mess…I made the boychild his birthday cake…because he is supposed to be coming back today and he likes cake.

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While Satchemo got quietly stoned on catnip in the kitchen window.

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Yup. I decorated it. I am awesome that way. Seriously, one year I did a dragon and it was really cool. This batch of frosting was kinda old, though, so it didn’t work well.

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He just showed up by the way. So he’s alive.

I trimmed this and cut binding and sleeves for it…

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Same with this one.

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It was brainless work. All I could handle apparently.

This is the other quilt I’ve been haphazardly working on the last week. I drew it last year, did Wonder Under in June, fabric in? I don’t remember when…in between one and the other.

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Yesterday I started ironing it together. It won’t take long and this part is pretty painless.

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First almost-hundred pieces. Next section is that tree trunk…that will be a pain in the ass. Hope it’s worth it.

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I went to the gym, finished a book (Andy Weir’s new book Artemis…it was pretty good, but not as good as The Martian...too much unbelievable stuff, I guess.), cooked dinner, ate it, and then spent like 2 hours talking. I guess I needed that. A mostly nonproductive day. Oh well. It happens. I’m not even making any goals for today. I can’t think that hard yet. And I need to leave in 2 minutes.


Things Will Happen Today

December 30, 2017

My feet are cold. It’s going to be in the 80s again today, but my feet get cold and I have to wear shorts and big fluffy socks all at the same time. This weirdo winter weather in Southern California…40s at night and 80s during the day. I know, I could be back East and freezing all my parts and not just my feet. I got that. Some rain would be nice here.

I didn’t get a whole lot of useful stuff done yesterday, except for some minor purging on the kitchen counters, which is a good thing (boychild is useful for that stuff). We threw out a bunch of old pens that were dead and bagged up the rest of the pens and pencils for school. Found the address I’d been looking for and had finally emailed someone to get. Of course. Organized the boxes of sundry kitchen items that pile up because I forget I’ve already bought them. Put all my Christmas gifts away. Today I will put away Christmas stuff, I think. Maybe. In between a raptor thing (cool!) and watching that band play (another episode of Draws in Bars! By the beach! But it will be cold, because it will be dark. So I will wear socks.). I wrote a commission contract and asked my dad to look at it, because I am not a lawyer and he is.

Artwise, I didn’t do much either. I did get my slowly flattening tire fixed, but not the tire sensor. It’s annoying that they are so expensive. Obviously the tire place has not seen the last two Visa bills. They are heart-stoppening. Not a word, I know.

Walked the dogs…a good solid three miles in the full heat of the afternoon. It felt hot but good.

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The dogs were tired.

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I needed to get out and walk off some of the irritation building up. I’m kind of irritated by all these studies going on in the wildlife preserve, but if I hike far enough out, they’re gone.

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So I do that.

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Tired dogs…I said that. But they were.

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We had gaming at night. My character didn’t do much. Moved from one side of the temple to another. Dodged a flaming thing. Or a horror. Not sure which.

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Block 20 is almost done…just need to finish the sheep.

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Exciting stuff. Came home and cut out pieces. When boychild wants to go to bed, he brings me the puppy, who is fast asleep. Snuggles him up against me, where he continues to sleep.

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I cut out a bunch, but there’s a shitload of tiny little pieces in there…overlapping tree parts. This crazy thing I drew. So I’m not done. But there’s not much left to do…

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Next week starts to be full of school stuff. No, I still haven’t finished grading that thing. Ugh. I piled it up on the couch and I look at it and feel guilty. Too many little details of shit to get done in the next week. I guess it’s good I took some brainless days in there.

I finished another book, A Closed and Common Orbit, the second in a series by Becky Chambers. The first book, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, was good, but I thought this one was even better…all about AI trying to exist in our world when they aren’t allowed to do certain things. Very cool story. You don’t have to read the first one to get the second one…they are the same world. It would help with understanding, but it’s not crucial to the story. There’s a third book coming out in April.

Calli is better at brainless than I am. I was trying to get her off the couch to come to bed.

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It took some persuading. OK. Gotta get ready to go falconing. Or something. I’m gonna need sunscreen…in December. I got sunburned yesterday. Duh. I never remember in the winter. Anyway, things will happen today. Not much will get done, I predict, but things will happen. Typical Saturday.


We’ve No Time for Later*

December 27, 2017

It’s interesting…when I don’t have a specific project to work on (yet), my brain just fails to work properly. Maybe that’s being on vacation too. I did work (on grading) for a good huge chunk yesterday and will probably do that again today, if just to finish this stupid grading assignment. That will take me down to just a couple, plus checking all the desperate emails that came in after kids realized I had posted their progress report grades but there was nothing they could do about them. I don’t really understand that logic, but I’m not 12.

Don’t get me wrong, I have 17 thousand things I could be working on. I have three (count them!) THREE pinbasted quilts, one art one and two not-art ones, that I could work on. I have one art quilt that is at the fabric-trimming stage, and if I got my act together, I could probably finish it this week. I really should do that. It would be a good use of my time. I’m kinda rebelling against “good use of my time” at the moment. I have about 4 blocks-of-the-month in various stages of completion (and I did work on one of those for a while, both on Christmas Day and yesterday). I could be drawing every day, all day. I haven’t drawn at all. I did finish a book, The Power, by Naomi Alderman.

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Interesting take on the possible reversal of power if women were in charge instead of men. Apparently testosterone is not the problem…it’s just power in general. She may be right. It’s an interesting story nonetheless.

The girlchild gave me all the ingredients for a Moscow mule (or 17). I love the owl cups and will use them for milk and cookies as well.

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My main only squeeze gave me a drawing by one of my favorite mural artists, Gloria Muriel…this is Lilith

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Christmas dinner was tasty, although I only managed to photograph the cheese plate. I loved that bean dip…gonna make more…

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Simba was spoiled for attention…

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Calli was patiently waiting for ball-throwing activities…of which there were few.

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See Simba? Asleep now. My parents petted him to sleep.

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I cannot explain this picture…

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Girlchild cooked it all…

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See the damn puppy again?

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I came home and did some sewing to fill in spaces on the left again…trying to sort of flatten out some of the edges, so I can use it as a centerpiece for a crazy quilt maybe.

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Still debating that. Meanwhile, I pinned 96 spots on this Sue Spargo quilt from 2013…which has been pieced for over a year. It took me that long to put the green border stem on and deal with the spots.

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There are 5 colors…I started sewing on the darkest ones. I think there’s about 19 of each color, so I’m going to be doing this for a while. It’s very meditative. And then they need to be embellished.

Boychild gave me fabric for Christmas. Well. I dragged him to the quilt store and made him pick some fabrics out, because he drew my name for the Sunday night party. I picked the red and white one…he did the rest.

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I like adding fabrics to my quilts that other people have picked. It widens my range. I’m sure I pick the same types of fabrics over and over.

Then I ironed and dehaired the big quilt for the photographer yesterday morning. It had a lot of hair on it. Damn cats. Really need to clean the floor in here before I start the next one.

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Then I graded and went to the gym and graded some more and made my own dinner because everyone was gone and read my new book, which is also good, and then did more on the left side…

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Satchemo not helping with photography.

And sewed on more dots. Yeah. Forever sewing on dots. Spots. Whatever.

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I wish I could say I have a plan for today, but I do not. I’ve been trying to plan our Spring Break trip, which is a pain in the butt. I need to grade more of those projects, just to get them out of my hair. I need to finish the Christmas holiday cards and send them out. I need to find some focus, but honestly, I’m OK if that doesn’t happen until next week some time. I’m obviously in need of some down time.

*Frou Frou, Let Go