There Was No Penis.

August 14, 2016

So. To clarify. There isn’t an actual penis in this quilt. Surely there are other things people could freak out about, but not a penis. So my quilt was pulled from AQS Grand Rapids because of something That Is Not Actually THERE. Yup. That’s something to be significantly irritated about. No number of cover-ups would help, because it’s just not fucking there.

I’d like to thank my readers for bringing up two penile possibilities though. First, here’s the full quilt again, for those who had a blessedly relaxing Saturday without staring at blogs or Facebook (good on you!).

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This quilt is I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket, completed in September 2010, touring with the People and Portraits exhibit since October 2013. The title comes from a radio ad I was listening to while pondering the meaning of this quilt, which came almost entirely out of a running nightmare I had for over a week, where I was losing things in the water and people were standing around not helping, and I was diving down and trying to find the things I lost, which ranged from my phone to babies, actual babies, and I’d wake up panicked and breathing fast. Here’s the official statement (which I found very difficult to write…almost as difficult to explain the piece)…

Two sisters in a strange land.
A lost life jacket.
A nasty oil spill.
No explanation needed.

My dream inhabited by strangers.

So first of all, the two people in the water are sisters. I have been told the one on the right reads as a male. OK. I don’t really mind when people interpret my work. I put it out there and sometimes there’s a clear message and sometimes there’s not. It’s a surreal collection of crap that inhabited my head. This is one of those. It’s not the first one and it won’t be the last. Take from it what you will.

I started with a bunch of smaller drawings of pieces of the nightmare…done mostly while waiting for dinner at a restaurant. The woman giving birth (except no umbilical cord in this one…think this was more about the losing a baby into the water)…

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The sister on the left in a larger drawing…

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Which in the redraw, became this (the one from which I made the quilt)…

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See any penises? No. You don’t.

This was the whole original drawing…I hated the figures on the right…but it was a start.

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This was one of the pre-drawings as well…I still like this one.

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Oh wait…there’s a shadow…under a hand. Keep that in your head…

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Here was the full sketchbook drawing for the quilt…then I enlarged it and added to the side and bottom. I don’t honestly know why…but I can check my weekly art journal for that time period.

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All it says is that I enlarged it and added stuff to bottom and right side, finished drawing in late June 2010, 1300+ pieces in it. I liked having a big piece to work on over the summer back then (well, I still do, but I’m more likely to work on big pieces all year round now). So yeah. Started drawing in May…dreaming in May…drawing done in June, quilt done in September.

So some people thought the umbilical cord on the woman/baby in the background might have been seen as a (really long, bendy) penis (that just happened to be attached to a baby’s bellybutton and in a woman’s vagina).

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Nope. Just gonna tell her the truth. That’s not a penis. It’s a baby. Yes, some babies have penises, but they’re not long and curly and in a mother’s vagina. Seriously. Some people have criticized sex education in Michigan. OK. But I think the show folks could help the penis-imaginer with her understanding.

This is the figure some have called male (I guess because no obvious girly curves?). And someone mentioned the shadow under the hands as possibly being interpreted as a penis…

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So below on the left, under the hands, you can see the shadowy bit…on the right, I outlined the entire shadow to show that is certainly not even penis-shaped. Again, something show organizers could have pointed out and/or realized.

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Seriously though, if I’m going to put a penis in a quilt, it’s gonna be pretty obvious…like in Work in Progress

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Look. It’s a penis. Clearly. I even put a red arrow pointing at it so you would not miss it.

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Some people like to accuse me of wanting attention or making art for shock value. I really don’t. I just draw. And then I make quilts out of some of them. I don’t think about what all y’all are gonna think when you see it. The making is not about you. And no, I don’t do pretty landscapes. I do stuff that’s a reaction to what’s in my head, what I dreamed about, what’s out in the world. I’m not scared or shocked by nudity and it often confuses me when other people are.

And then some people tell me to ignore the naysayers, the critics, the censors, the quilt police…but here’s the problem with ignoring it. It Doesn’t Stop. It Doesn’t Go Away. I want to live in a world where I don’t have to worry about what’s in my art because someone might be offended or censor me. Because I’m truly tired of that. I did worry a bit when they told me this exhibit was doing the AQS circuit, because that’s quilt shows. And I don’t really enter quilt shows any more because of this shit. Often when I enter a show, I don’t even know where the piece will travel. And sometimes, because I’m oldish (not really old yet, but older than I was when I started making art), I do consider just holing up, being even more of a hermit and introvert than I already have become, and ignoring everyone. But it’s not in my nature to ignore stupidity and ignorance and censorship. It’s in my nature to be the person that stands up and yells about it. Because I want it to stop for everyone. My kids. Younger artists. All of us. I don’t want to be 90 years old and still getting frustrated over this shit. I want the world to be a more accepting and tolerant place than it is right now, and it doesn’t feel that way AT ALL.

So that’s where I’m at. Surely I won’t stop making and exhibiting quilts. I even have a grand idea for a penis quilt now. You’ll laugh. Seriously. But in reality, I have a whole ‘nother quilt in process right now, school starts tomorrow, and I’m still pissed off and frustrated, but it won’t stop me. I just want AQS to realize that it was a stupid thing they did and they need to either stand up for the special exhibits in their shows or get out of the art-quilt world. I can’t change the mind of that woman who imagined a penis. I just wish the show organizers had handled it in a mature and reasonable way. They didn’t.

And here’s the thing…this is the quilt that was hanging next to it…Fully Medicated

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And that is a seriously large vulva…

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With a snake peeking out above it. And that didn’t put her panties in a wad.

Walk by it people. If you don’t like it, if it makes your heart flutter in a bad way, if you feel a need to call Fox News, just walk the fuck on by. It’s what I do when I see your bad compositions and copies of things that are overdone already and crappy color choices. I walk the fuck on by.

Still pissed. But it’s OK. It’s not going to stop me.


Just a Funky Old Shack and I Gotta Get Back*

August 11, 2016

Funny, I thought yesterday would be all about getting art done, and in reality, I got nothing done…well, except delivering three quilts for photography. That’s all. Some school stuff, lots of errands, some hanging out (not a bad thing). So today, I’m hunkering down at the light table and tracing for hours. Seriously. I am.

Part of yesterday was trying to get ready for school, so trips to Costco for toilet paper and paper towels, so I won’t have to think about that. I still need to go to the pet store…same deal, stock up on food so I don’t have to think about it for a while. I’m fully aware of how much school takes over my life in about a week. About how little brainpower I’ll have for everything else. It sucks, but it’s better to accept it and be prepared, best you can. Honestly, I should be stockpiling frozen meals in the freezer. That would be smart.

I forgot that I drew at girlchild’s birthday dinner…

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Until I got told I was being antisocial. Sigh. I think I was peopled out at that point. I am truly an introvert.

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We bought Calli a new bed, because hers is unbearably lumpy and she’s old and needs no lumps. Then Simba wanted to try it…he’s a little scared of Calli, because she schools him when he’s being an asshole. So he’s blurry because he keeps looking back at her, like is this OK? And she’s not sure about it either. Maybe when it’s cold in winter they will feel differently about it.

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And girlchild is realizing she’s leaving the animals behind again.

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So I’m not spending a lot of time writing today…I’m going right over to the light table. Because deadlines. And time is short.

*B-52’s, Love Shack


I’m Breathing in the Chemicals*

August 8, 2016

Hello morning. Earlier than usual. Have to leave for school in a few…still planning science today. And trying to figure out my classroom. Mostly I just walk in and go Oh Shit and then start moving stuff around a bit. I always feel bad because other people spend more time in their rooms rearranging stuff and doing new things they found on Pinterest, and I’m trying to go as fast as possible, so I can get back to my sewing. Oh well.

So in awesome sauce news, I’m done quilting. Twenty-two hours plus of quilting, in case you were wondering. In fact, Saturday evening, I had a time I had to be out of the house, and this is how much was left…

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It took me a whole 3.2 minutes to finish quilting that on Sunday. But yeah.

Here was my trusty companion, randomly typing shit with her head and hitting Like and Dislike indiscriminately on my Pandora station.

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I spent the evening watching a band and taking on my persona of Draws in Bars.

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It either freaks out or endears me to waitresses. This one was so serious (the waitress, not the drawing), but wanted to have a discussion about art and her uncle and then took good care of me all night. So it works! I did another drawing…forgot to photograph it. It wasn’t that good…and because people showed up, I didn’t finish this one until later…

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And maybe it’s not finished. I like it though.

Sunday was nice…although knowing there is only one Sunday left of “vacation” (in quotes because I am at school at least twice this week, despite not officially being back yet), and the girlchild will be gone by then. Some animals know how to Sunday though, even if I don’t.

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So I finished quilting and trimmed the quilt…huge motherfucker.

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She quilted easily, nice and flat for once. I’ve been fighting some of the last big ones in the flatness category.

Went and bought binding…ONLY binding. Nothing else. It helped that I had the girlchild with me and some time constraints. Got the binding stitched down last night…

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And then settled down on the couch for the hand sewing. I tell you, I’ve been looking forward to this part. Just relaxing and stitching and watching some TV for a while. Kitten follows me wherever I go.

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Kitten is lying on the next quilt (well, it’s a numbered drawing anyway).

There’s the back and the sleeves. In over an hour of hand-stitching, though, I didn’t even make it all the way down one long side.

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It was already late and I knew I had to be up early. So there will be more tonight. I should email the photographer…finally. A finish. No panicking on the other stuff that needs doing. Really. Seriously. I should be panicking. About all of it. Quilts, school, losing the kids to college again, money, dogs. Aack. There’s so much I never ever get done.

But I guess you can see my priorities. Spending time with people when I feel like it (probably should do more of that), lots of art and animals and even hiking when I can. It’s not a bad life…just a bit too stressful and work-oriented some days. I’ve held the goal of Art Everyday for the last couple of years now and I don’t suspect I’ll be letting that go anytime soon. It’s where my head needs to be.

Unfortunately, my body needs to hightail it to school now. Keeping life balance in mind…biggest thing in most teachers’ minds right now.

*Imagine Dragons, Radioactive


Hell Ain’t For Sure, It’s Only a Chance*

August 1, 2016

Well, the plus is that the sewing machine still isn’t working this morning. This doesn’t seem like a positive thing, but it means I can take it in and he can actually SEE the problem, EXPERIENCE it in real time. That is the only way to get it fixed for good.

I’m about to go up to my neighbor’s house and offer the workers WD-40 for their wheelbarrow. Squeaking. Horrendously. Worse than the squeak is Simba’s need to bark to protect us from the squeak. Yes, it’s a horrible noise, but it’s unlikely to kill us. He’s very protective about weird-ass noises. It was so delightfully quiet on Friday, when they weren’t here. Today I have drills and hammering and squeaky wheelbarrows and more yelling.

So hopefully I’ll have a working machine tomorrow. (please please please) Then I can drown out their noise with that.

Yesterday, I finished the drawing…just under 5 hours on the full-size part…plus maybe 2 hours on the stuff that was in the sketchbook (I watched a 2-hour movie…let’s put it that way). There’s a lot of Stare Time built into that…staring at the drawing, trying to figure out what goes next and where and how…staring off into space, trying to visualize it.

I’ve done a head in the clouds before…it’s a worry space, a hope space, a remember space. Depends on the drawing.

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This one is definitely a worry space. She’s long…I know she’s 36″ wide, but I haven’t measured the height yet.

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Kitten is still invading the work space…she’s extending her claws because I was batting at her…she was in my personal typing space. She doesn’t seem to care what I need.

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The kids came back, mostly cranky and some exhausted. Simba was quite happy about that. I won’t let him sleep on the bed.

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And then later that night, I numbered the pieces. I kept thinking this one was easier than the last, fewer pieces, less crazy. Hmmm. Well. In general, it is. But I went a bit crazy in the cloud…

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I took some of the things from that other failed drawing…I figure if that one ever becomes a quilt, it’ll be OK for the gas-mask woman to show up again. The nuclear power plants and leaking barrels have been around for a while.

Oh yeah. See? It is fewer pieces than the last one. Psychotic grin on face. Uh huh. You don’t wanna know the deadline on this one. Let’s just say I’ll be tracing Wonder Under starting today, because I can’t afford to lose any time waiting for my machine to come back. I’ll quilt the other one as soon as I get the machine back, but I’m busy until then.

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It’s confusing too, because basically there’s 3 figures right behind each other, so some of the parts are labeled so I know who they belong to…and I tried to number one figure at a time. I’m sure I’ve fucked that up somehow.

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Those aren’t even her arms.

Seven hands. Yes. Only 7. I guess technically there are 4 figures…I don’t really count the little guy in front.

Anyway, the plus is that I have school kind of under control (well, for where I can be at the moment…I can panic further on Wednesday when we start planning shit I don’t even know anything about), I finished all the copyediting last week, and at least I have another project ready to go, so I’m not wasting more time. I also copied the other drawing, the one where I have to cut off the head and the bird, so I can draw that as well. Although there are two smaller ones and some coloring book things that have to happen first. So even though it’s a Monday morning and school starts in two weeks, I’m not completely panicking. Well, just a little.

*Mojo Nixon, Tie My Pecker to My Leg (yeah, you read that right…it was a challenge to pick lyrics for the title today)


Bring Your Alibis*

July 31, 2016

So yeah. The sewing machine experiment lasted for about 18 minutes. It jammed up the first time 12 minutes in and then repeatedly after that. Weird things going on with it. I’m taking it in tomorrow, but not after making sure it’s warmed up and jamming happily so the guy can see it in action. I don’t mean ‘jamming happily’ like making good music on a Sunday afternoon. I mean like vibrating needle shaft that won’t move or sew and makes me swearz-a-lot. Yeah.

So the thing is, I don’t really believe in fate or messages from the gods, but sometimes I think you have to look at what’s working and what’s not and choose to walk away from some things. I’ve done my due diligence with this machine and it’s not going to work until I can get it to fuck up for the machine guy and hopefully that will be soon, but there’s no point in the last two Friday nights, where I’ve been grinding my teeth and growling and wanting to throw it in the pool. I mean, yeah, it’s frustrating. But it’s not like I don’t have some leeway on this deadline AND shitloads of other stuff to work on.

So get on with it, Kathryn. I have to admit that Friday night was mostly a wash. But Saturday afternoon, after the machine pissed me off, I took about 15 deep breaths and walked out of the office, determinedly heading for the big drawing on the light table. Because I kept staring at the original drawing and trying to let my head process it…and I’d even penciled in a head and a boat (like you do) the other night, but couldn’t get past that. NOW was the time.

You wonder why so many cats end up in my drawings. (It’s because they’re always WATCHING me. )

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Same with teacups. Except I don’t really feel like they’re watching me. Just that they’re always there. Really I should be drawing more scissors and mechanical pencils.

So I did pencil in some of the stuff at the bottom, like the boat and the general leg placement (there were issues…as you’d think there would be with three people standing stacked up behind each other. Oh hey. That’s a good title. Stacked up. Hmn. Document that shit.). I love that some titles come to me as I’m drawing, and some I have to pull out right before I have to enter it in a show, because I can’t think of anything.

So I added all this stuff at the bottom, referencing my first Earth Mother quilt from a million years ago.

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Puppy is such a cute dork.

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Then I had figured out in my head about 4 or 5 days ago about what was going on the sides…a layered landscape from water to mountains…

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So I added that on each side…

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Here’s the little guy, fishing.

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This quilt actually has two males in it! I know. You’re shocked.

Plus yeah. A cat.

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So it’s not done, though.

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I did start the head, and it’s got references to Tlingit art. I was born in Alaska, and I swear the graphic arts and totem poles from there are so stuck in my head…I think I must have filed it away in baby brain, and parts of it have been leaking out over the years. People talk about not appropriating other cultures’ art, but sometimes it just sneaks in. The Native stuff has been in there for so many years. The idea of filling the figure with symbols…you have to wonder how much influence early exposure has on one’s brain. I do.

Anyway, so I’m hoping to finish drawing this today and then number it. Although technically, I think there are two smaller ones I need to work on as well. So I may try drawing those this afternoon as well. While I’m on a roll. With a Sharpie.

So this is the booklet I got from the class…

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We worked in groups to try to plan a standard yard. Interesting ideas to use rainwater and take irrigation down to nothing or almost nothing. Certainly things to think about.

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Then my evening turned into puppy walk…man, this dog either needs to learn how to poop appropriately for one who has fluffy butt fur, or he needs to get used to my bathing him.

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Bad design.

Then this morning, I pinbasted the wool quilt that has been laying around forever. It won’t get quilted any time soon, but when I feel like it, it’s ready.

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Last night, I remembered I hadn’t sewn any of the eyeball buttons on the next wool quilt, so I did all 30. I flicked one across the room at one point and had to go searching for it. No, I would not have bought more. I would have picked a random button that didn’t match.

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Now they all need trimming. Guess piecing is on the back burner for a while. It’s OK. Julie and I are trying to figure out an easier way to do the borders, but honestly, I guess I did the borders on Earth & Twig above all as one and didn’t die. So I could probably do these that way too. By the time I get enough room in my schedule to put the borders on, it’ll be winter. Winter Is Coming. Yeah right. We have to live through Southern California summer first (doesn’t come until September/October).

Then since I had marshmallows and Rice Krispies, I did this. Sometimes you just have to.

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The kids are on their way back here, mostly to be cranky and entertain the puppy, I think. I’m in need of a nap, personally, but will try to hold it off with caffeine. I want to go finish the head part of the drawing and start some new stuff. Might as well use my non-quilting time wisely. This week is kind of a bitch. Same with next week. And then I’m back in school. Summer is so short some years.

That’s it. From now on, my blogpost titles are always lyrics from whatever I’m listening to as I write…well, until I get sick of that. Or forget I thought of it.

*Hotel California, Eagles


Time Is Running Out…

July 30, 2016

I took a class this morning on waterwise gardening, trying to use what little rainwater we get in an already dry landscape. It was interesting enough…honestly the best part is the free booklet and the 90-minute consultation. I figure I’ll need to spend the next 3 or 4 months trying to make the soil not awful, plus kill weeds, and move dirt around to use the rainwater better. I won’t be planting until November or later. Which is fine…

Anyway. Yesterday. Yesterday I quilted. I wanted to quilt for a good long chunk of time, but the sewing machine is acting up again. In the first 2 hours, though, it only had issues three times, which isn’t bad. It was the last hour that got hinky, and at some point, I just turned it off and walked away. It didn’t help that puppy needed attention and was trying to rip the linoleum off the floor in here (don’t worry…it’s already coming up…he likes to destroy things that are already damaged). So I gave up. And was frustrated as hell.

Three hours in though…shit, I need so many more. I’ve been scared to turn it on again, thinking it will just keep doing this frozen vibrating needle thing. But maybe it’s related to overheating…and it won’t happen for a while. I don’t know.

I did manage to quilt all of the earth portion…

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And started up into the body. Right after the owl is when it went bonkers.

Don’t you feel like, with electronics, if you leave them alone for a while, they will magically work again? Well. We’ll see.

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I had a couple of nests…the machine has some issues anyway, beyond the needle thing, for sure.

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And the pileup on the machine to keep Kitten out of the thread and Midnight from lying on it (and all the other things animals have done to my quilts over the years: muddy paws, chewing, vomit…).

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Then I spent some time trying to tire out the little boy dog.

I was trying to figure out his birthdate (I don’t think it’s on any of the paperwork we got for him), and I happen to know the name of the first owner and I found her on Facebook. She’s a kid…really. I mean, she has a job and all, but her FB feed reads like a 12-year-old and I don’t think she is. She’s obviously happy about the puppy in the beginning (who she eventually names Fluffy Teddy or something like that), but there are photos of him in a crate with BAD scrawled all over the photo. Surely, he’s not always a well-behaved beast, since he was still rancidly biting when we got him. In June, she posted that she missed him…now I didn’t get Simba from her, but from ANOTHER kid (college-age) who had only had him a few weeks. So who knows what’s up with all of that. He’s here now…

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Psychotic teeth and all.

I did the top part of that redraw…I like the bottom, but not the top.

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I swear, drawing is a pain in the ass at the moment. Need my head in something that makes sense, that’s successful.

Anyway, I’m gonna try to quilt again, and if it doesn’t work, I’m going to go work on the other drawing(s) I need to do…hope they turn out better than the one above. Time is running out. I really need this thing quilted soon.


Just Get My Head Into It…

July 29, 2016

Morning is never really my strong point. I’m one of those late-night people. I don’t really get much done in the morning. And currently I’m sitting here in my office and I can clearly hear people at my door, plus Simba is going ballistic (Calli is in Arrowhead), but they haven’t figured out that my doorbell doesn’t work (oh hallelujah…I live in the boonies for a reason) and apparently they don’t want to knock. I’m OK with ignoring them because I heard them at the neighbors and it’s selling something, whether product or religion, and I don’t need either.

Yeah, my attack dog is a Pomeranian-chihuahua.

Last night, I had to text pictures of him to the girlchild, who missed cuddling with him. Huh.

So yesterday was kinda wishy washy. I copyedited for a while. Need to finish that up this morning and send it back. It’s the last chapter, so I hope there’s another book coming, but who knows…no guarantees. Then I was supposed to go to my stitching meeting, but I still don’t really have anything portable. The quilt is huge, so transporting it to quilt on it somewhere else is not realistic. So I took the last of the birds…

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I didn’t actually finish stitching it until later last night, but it’s done! A miracle! Well, until you realize that now I have to trim them all down, stitch them together, add the borders, and then do 96…NINETY SIX little balls with fancy stitching in the borders. Well. That’s gonna take a while. There’s no shortcut for that.

The birds are Sue Spargo’s 2013 block of the month project, and I’ve been working on them…well, since 2013. Mostly at soccer games, honestly, and then stitching meetings after that, because they’re nice and portable. I’m thinking the whole quilt is not gonna be so portable, and probably uncomfortable to stitch on in summer, being totally made of wool. But I’ll try to get to the point where I can stitch balls on.

I call it Bird Crazy, but it’s actually called Bird Dance

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See all the balls? Yeah. So I’ve finished 30 birds…in about 3 years. I’m rocking it. Seriously, though, people always want to know why I’m working on other people’s patterns, and the reality is that mine are often not portable, or not something I can work on at a soccer game (I’ve spent a huge part of the last 10 years at soccer games…really until the last 12 months). And I like the embroidery on wool. It’s relaxing. And enjoyable. So it’s my hobby. I’ve always enjoyed embroidery…I just don’t usually have time to do any of it on my own quilts, because the deadlines are so tight, or because I’m so mentally done with the piece by the time I get to the end.

I do have one top I started quilting where the plan is to add a lot of embroidery…and I did a memorial quilt for our last dog (who yes, died in 2012? I think?)…by DID I mean that it’s a bunch of wool pieces and a background, but I haven’t gotten any further than that yet. Things I’m making for me don’t get priority on the sewing list.

So after stitching meeting, I came home and played with puppy for a while, but I know I have a bunch of deadlines to deal with, and many of them require drawings, so I thought I would do that thing I always WANT to do, which is sit out on the deck and draw…so I did.

It was after 5 PM, but still not cool…but the sun is on the other side, so that makes it bearable. And I played some music and drank some milk (of course)…and did this.

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Now straight up, I like the body but hate the head and the bird. So they’re gone. But I think I can work with the rest of it. I’m probably gonna enlarge it and cut the head and bird off. There will be a head and a bird. Just not those two. Sometimes when I haven’t been drawing for a while it takes me a bit of fudging to get what I want. So that’s a start.

I love that prosthesis, by the way.

Then I had told Simba, who got left behind from the Arrowhead trip (not enough puppy supervision), that I would take him on a walk, because he got stuck inside while I was gone. I waited until it was cooler, much cooler…in fact, we were racing the dark back (I’m OK with that, except for the coyotes and the snakes).

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We saw a horse…twice…and Simba was sure he could kill it. I think. The horse was more intrigued than scared, luckily. Like…what the hell is that tiny growling thing? Exactly.

I was trying to tire him out, and it worked for a bit. Midnight is very tolerant of him, but she’s also bigger than him…and he truly doesn’t know what to do with her…except sometimes clean and/or nibble her ears. Which she doesn’t seem to mind.

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Hiking made me tired, but eventually I managed to come back into the sewing room. I recently finished the last little bit of embroidery on the 2012 Spargo quilt, Earth and Twig, after letting it languish for a good long time (like probably 2 or 3 years…see, I do that too). Yesterday, I finally found the backing and other pieces, then pieced the backing (hanging in the background)…then ironed the front and cut some batting. It’s ready to be sandwiched, hopefully sometime today.

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I’ve never quilted wool before, and honestly, it will be on the back burner for a while, but it will be ready. So that makes it closer to done.

Today I might have an art opening, if I feel like dragging myself to it. I have a few other things I need to do before I can start quilting, but that’s the goal…to quilt a lot. Don’t think about lesson planning and school supplies and deadlines and crap like that. Just get my head into the art and do it.