Looking Up…

April 15, 2017

So we made it back, alive and still a bit muddy (one load of laundry is done; the tent and rain cover are out on the deck, waiting for me to have the energy and help to clean it out), still a bit exhausted. Driving through Los Angeles can do that to you. Ahhh, traffic, I miss you not.

It’s the first time I’ve taken a week’s vacation without the fam in about a million years. Being a mom and a financially strangled one at best doesn’t allow for such things, so it was much appreciated. And there will be more, once we do the math and see how bad the money actually was, and then try to focus on future travel plans. There was lots of WOW said; even if you’ve seen them before, the redwoods elicit WOW.

So then I have about 50 pictures of the trees, looking up…

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Because that’s what you do…

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(That was the one non-rainy day on our trip…the day we chose to hike around…)

I’ll have to write a post later this week about the trip, I think. Too many pictures for a Saturday-morning brain.

I did draw each night…well, minus one…

Certainly what I was experiencing ended up in the drawings. The first night, we had set up the campsite and cooked under a lean-to tarp, and sat there listening to the rain for hours. We’d made it to the visitor center and read about local animals and plants, and seen a beetle and lots of ferns and trees.

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That beetle on her cheek was on my sketchbook for a while…I saw his big brother in the bathroom for the next three days. Just hanging out…on the toilet paper rolls…waiting…for something.

We hiked the whole next day, with on and off rain…but a lot of sun. We cooked tacos that night, and tried to get the fire started. I think it lasted a whopping 20 minutes before the rain kicked up again. We had moved the tent by then.

I don’t think this one is done, but I was tired.

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At least one hand is facing the wrong way…or both are left hands…or something.

The last night, we had very little rain (after rain on and off all day, mostly on), but lots of high winds, which is a little nerve-wracking in a forest that really only loses trees to wind and the occasional flood.

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I skipped the next night…but the last night, food was on my mind apparently. And misplaced arms. They’re just wrong, all wrong.

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As part of the last day’s drive, we stopped at the California Fibers’ exhibit at The Blackboard Gallery in Camarillo, California, where two of my pieces are currently hanging through early May. This is Give Me Time

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As always, I love having my photo taken and can’t figure out what to do with my hands.

And here I am with Holding It All In, which is a big quilt…

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I’ll be writing a California Fibers’ post about the show, with details, later this week. I’ll link it here. It’s a nice show…in an interesting space.

I did keep up with these once a day stitches, albeit barely. I did some green lazy daisy leaves on the right with that curly line I added earlier in the week, with the pinky lazy daisy flowers (that’s three days right there)…then a feather fern stitch thing next to the tree trunk (hard to see here) and some star-shaped flowers in red/burgundy with straight stitch green leaves to the right of the feather, under the bird…finishing the thread off with some French knots (or colonial knots, who knows) down the side there.

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I didn’t actually do much stitching (or reading) on the trip. I finally pulled this out the last day for in-the-car stitching (mostly I can’t stitch with curvy roads…or while I’m driving)…finished the tree trunk, which I’d started at the campsite until I couldn’t see in the dark any more, then finished the flower center and started the bird. I think the bird is all that’s left, and then I’ll be done with this one. Maybe tonight. Not sure what my plans look like yet.

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I know they include cleaning and drying these, the second load of laundry, finishing my taxes…

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Working on the current quilt, which has to be done in a week, a ton of grading, some emails/contracts/headshots (ugh) to be sent out, and I don’t even know what else. Trying to get my head around all of it…which I will…eventually…maybe not today. Still looking up…even though the trees are gone…but here, at home, the furry beasts are all around. Both cats slept with me last night (strange), although I did not appreciate Midnight’s hairball extraction in the middle of the night (guess the duvet cover needed washing) or Calli’s early morning plea to pee. And the house reeks of skunk…fun stuff. No one cleaned while I was gone (another wonder of living alone). But I’m glad to be here, in my own bed, surrounded by annoying beasts, where I can make a proper cup of tea whenever I want dammit. (still wanna travel more though)


Water Pooling

April 10, 2017

So when the weather app says 0.08″ of rain, that really means it’s gonna rain almost all night, leaving muddy puddles everywhere. The app kept saying rain would stop in 60 minutes. Thirty minutes would go by and it would still be 60 minutes of rain. The plus is the tent only leaked in one place (put a hand towel under it), and though it was cold enough to see my breath, it wasn’t horribly cold. 

All these pictures took a horrendous time to load, due to intermittent cell service…so they’re all out of order and I can’t even see them at the moment. 

Oh there they are…the Eel River. After more than half an inch of rain last night, today eventually got sunny and verging on warm for us Southerners…

We took a 5-mile hike and saw beauty everywhere…

Checking out gurgling streams…

And waterfalls…

Some fungus among us…

Last night, we huddled under a tarp shelter and I drew a bit…

Raindrops and a spotted skunk showed up in the drawing…under the tarp. Hat with lights was helpful…

Made burgers for dinner…after the fire in the pit got rained out…

I finally got almost caught up on this…I was 4 days behind. I did some blue fly stitches in the bottom area, then a bunch of cross stitches in a thread that went from peach to teal, also down in the bottom. Then the fly stitches that look like redwoods in the bottom right, in a variegated green.

Left it at one day behind, losing light.

These are some of the trees above the campground.

And here was our original setup.

Last night’s rain pooled under the tent, so we moved it today. 

Good times. Well fed and hiked. Mostly warm and dry. We will appreciate the hotel bed and shower when we get there. We haven’t killed each other yet, for those who were concerned. And my eye stopped twitching…all good news. 


The Lengths That I Will Go To*

April 4, 2017

Well odds are that I wouldn’t have finished cutting out all the Wonder Under on Sunday night, even if I hadn’t had to finish the girlchild’s financial aid all at the last minute. Because it took me over an hour last night. And yes, I should have gone to bed earlier…what’s new? It’s done…in a little over 4 hours. Not bad. AND I graded…and tried to write a post about a show I’m in that opened last weekend. Still working on that, because I need more photos from the people who went. Tonight hopefully.

Yesterday was a 2-hour staff meeting. I wish I could say it was full of useful information, but honestly, the first part was stuff I knew and was kind of rushed. They gave us activities but then didn’t talk about them or let us do them. It was weird. The second half, again, might have been useful if it were concrete and not in some dream world where you don’t need to learn math if you’re not going to use it. Huh. I have had a hard time with staff meetings and professional development this year. I’d like to be able to test out of the stuff I already know. I don’t have time to waste. I hate wasting time. It drives me nuts. Next week’s trip, the worst part is the whole day I lose just to getting up to the area where I wanna be. Long drive. Ugh. Anyway. Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of things to keep me from falling asleep in PD/staff meetings, and drawing has always been the number 1 favorite.

This was done in my Rocketbook, and then scanned. I even emailed it to the coworker sitting next to me. He wants to color it.

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It disappeared the left part of the tree root…I think it’s because it’s too close to the QR code. But it turns out pretty good, I think…blacker than the pen I’m actually using. Interesting. I wish the book itself were more sturdy, the covers. It wouldn’t hold up in my bag for a long period of time.

So then I speed graded for a few hours…there’s Kitten hiding behind the monitor.

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I finished one full assignment and the bits and pieces of another one. Six to go. I think. Banging them out. Don’t want a ton of stuff for over break.

Then I headed out for the couch…Simba wanted a belly rub. OK. I can do that.

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And then worked on this…yellow straight and fly stitches around the red flowers at the bottom, then filled the ‘o’ in Prosper with French knots and did some other flower stitches in that area to finish the thread off.

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And then I stayed up too late to finish trimming all of this.

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That’s a whole quilt on the right. Can’t you tell? Tonight, I’ll sort the pieces and clean up in here from the last quilt, and then hopefully start ironing. There’s no way I’ll finish ironing before I leave, but I can get a good start and maybe take the cutting part with me. I’ve done that before. It’s easy stuff to do in the car or sitting in a hotel room. Not that I expect to do much of the latter. We’ll see. Certainly, when I get back, I need to iron everything down (10 hours), stitch it down (5 hours), sandwich it together (1.5 hours), quilt it (12 hours), and bind it (6 hours) in like 7 days. So yeah. That’s a little crazy. Sure, it’ll be vacation, so I could actually pull it off, but I won’t get anything else done. Sigh. Crazy schedule this year.

*REM, Losing My Religion


But Forget It All, I Know I Will*

March 27, 2017

I spent a lot of time grading student assignments this weekend. I’d like to say I’m done, but I’m not. I think I have 23 to go…which sounds like a lot to the part of my brain that will have to watch all those videos. I’ll get through them, but I wanted to be done. I often want to be done with the work part so I can go on to the art part…a split in my life, when normal people plop down on the couch and watch some TV to wind down, I’m getting up to stand for the next two hours, tracing. Which is in fact what I did…eventually…

I did finish the other quilt; well, the binding anyway. I need to do some other stuff to it. I think. Photos will follow. It won’t be officially photographed until the end of April, with the other one, which doesn’t exist.

I’m reading this book that I’ll write about later…but I liked this quote in the frontmatter with regard to art…

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And that might have been what Marker referred to (haven’t seen the movie), but in the context of what I’m reading, it becomes much darker. I still like the quote though. More about my reading later…not today; got a parent meeting. I’m already behind and overwhelmed.

I drew this Saturday night while watching the band play…

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I had done a drawing back in January and had some false starts in the sketchbook, so I turned one of them into something.

Here’s another false start…

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We’ll see what I do with that.

I had to take a walk yesterday to clear my head after grading stuff. I was getting irritated. Getting outside and touring the neighborhood trashcans is always nice. (I actually do just look at plants and the sky…the dog is more interested in the trashcans.)

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Wildflowers abound.

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I skipped Saturday’s stitching…so I did two yesterday. I started a wacky bird to the right of the tree. It’s not done. And then I did the blue straight line triangle shapes on the bottom. I saw someone else stitch something like them, so I wanted to put them in there. So I did.

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Still not sure I’ll (a) make it all year on this and (b) have room to stitch all year on this and (c) be able to stitch on it during my trip over Spring Break. But that last bit is fixable and the first bit is no guilt and the middle bit is. Well. It just is.

I then continued to trace Wonder Under for the next bathtub…this will be the third one I actually make of the six or so bathtub drawings I’ve done.

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I got an hour and a half or so in last night…there’s only 630 pieces and I have 350 done.

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I’m hoping to be done Tuesday…then cutting them out…then hopefully ironing down to fabric by the weekend. We’ll see. The timing on this one is really tight.

I got this thing called a Rocketbook. You can draw in it with special pens (downside) and then there’s an app that will scan it and send it where you need it…like all the ones where I mark the rocket picture at the bottom, it will send them where I tell the app all the rockets go. So I can have one for drawings and one for school stuff and one for art notes and one for one art group I’m in, etc.

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The coolest part though is that when the book is full, I can microwave it and it will be blank again. So last night I tested it out with a really quick, simple drawing, just to see how it worked. The pens are OK…they’re erasable though, so that’s cool. Anyway…it’s just something techie that I thought was really cool and wanted to try out. Plus I have a staff meeting today and I’m not allowed to bring tech and this is kind of like tech in that I can scan the notes and mark the apple, and they’ll all go to my Google Drive for school, to the folder I tell it to send all my staff meeting notes. And that’s cool. Even though I’d rather just type them. No time.

OK, parent meeting (OMG, are we just realizing our kids are failing?) and school and at some point I get to make art. My daily goal…get all the other shit done (or done enough) so I can art.

*Squeeze, Tempted


I Want a Meaning from the Back of My Broken Hand*

March 20, 2017

I feel like my weekends haven’t had enough art lately. It’s just a lot of work and errands and trying to catch up. Sometimes that stuff is art-related, like this weekend, when I had to pack up two quilts to ship out of here, plus go to a meeting about an exhibit I’ll be in later this summer. But there’s very little doing…and that drives me a little bonkers sometimes. I like those long expanses of artmaking that come with breaks and weekends. A nice 6-hour run of ironing shit down…really helps you get through the week. I think I got about 25 minutes this weekend. Total. Sigh. Maybe next weekend. Life goals.

Whereas my cat has figured it out. Granted she doesn’t have to go to work to support the rest of us. And she’s lying on the drawing for the next quilt.

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Oh, so I got this thing called a Rocketbook, where you can draw or write in it and then basically scan it into your computer. And then when it’s full, you can microwave it up to 5 times to erase everything and start over. This is like crazy science here. But I’m looking forward to trying it out. You have to use special pens, unfortunately…odds are I won’t like them for drawing, but I’ll try it. It sounded so close to what I want, to be able to just download drawings from my head onto the computer. I’ll let you know how it works. You can even code pages to go to certain folders or whatever. So if I wanted to be able to take notes on my staff meetings, since I’m not allowed to do that electronically any more…I could use this notebook and then scan it into a work folder. If I wanted to waste pages on that, right? Well it was a thought. If the drawing doesn’t work out, that’s what I’ll use it for instead.

I am trying to stay caught up with this. I did a rosette stitch row on the left, the darker blue, and then did lazy daisy leaves and a stem in green above it.

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I still need to go back in and fill some of the stuff inside the center bits.

I did a little more on this as well, while finishing up the show I was watching. I don’t like leaving mid-episode.

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Then I went and dehaired this beast again (Kitten really likes to deposit hair on it) and then ironed it, sandwiched it, and pinbasted it. Easy peasy.

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I’m trying to use up weird old fabrics with no other purpose. I really have no clue why I bought this fabric, but I know it was like a million years ago.

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The fabric says 1997…so not as long as I thought, but still a 20-year-old fabric finally getting used. Well hallelujah. Seriously. I don’t know why I bought it. I so never use stuff like this. I was pregnant in 1997. Maybe it was pregnancy brain. Because a baby would want bell peppers and turnips and beets and dancing watermelon ladybugs? I just can’t explain it.

Anyway, in good news, I plan to quilt tonight, although I will probably have to grade first. I did that last night too. I’m permanently behind. WAY behind. Sigh.

So I mentioned last week trying to research some other female or other gendered artists. I started with Toyen, who was born Marie Čermínová, but as an adult seemed to prefer being male. It’s hard to get a good idea of what people wanted or thought if they weren’t big writers. A lot of the information about Toyen comes from other male artists or critics of the era. I can understand being an artist in the early to mid 1900s and preferring male status…because he was able to draw and paint some subjects that women would have been discouraged from picturing. Well, that still happens, doesn’t it?

He was mostly associated with surrealism, with some cubism thrown in, although those teeth in my girdle are neither…well, maybe you could argue surrealism.

Here’s a link to a gallery of some of his art.

Here’s a link to an article about Toyen as a feminist, which other articles have disagreed with. It has a good discussion of why there is so little information about him though, being both Czech and a surrealist.

This article is more background information, with a variety of photos that show Toyen dressed both as man and as woman over the years, which notably is less important than the art itself. But intriguing nonetheless, trying to understand whether the appropriation of male was as a transsexual, or if it was for the freedom of being a male artist. I have to wonder what I would have done in the same situation. I have the luxury of a society that is more accepting of women as artists, even women as artists instead of or at the same time as being a mother. Notice I say MORE accepting…I don’t actually believe a good chunk of society is really accepting of that. But we can get away with it.

Anyway…things to think about. What would you do to be an artist if you had to?

*The Killers, All These Things That I’ve Done


‘Neath the Black, the Sky Looks Dead*

March 18, 2017

I’m thinking that really what I need is to take a day off of work and purchase one of these…

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Hopefully it’s soundproof. I really really like the idea of this. I think the cats would be OK with it if there were a cat flap. I mean, I know they’re selling these mostly for kids, but WTF. This is my dream. Now fill it with pillows and move the alarm clock way the fuck out of the room, and then let me sleep in peace for like a week. I joke about the last time I got a good night’s sleep was before I was pregnant with my son…who turned 21 this year. Yeah. I wasn’t joking. That’s for real.

The mornings have been beautiful this week. One of the benefits of Daylight Savings being gone. It’s gone, right? I can never remember. Is this my life ON Daylight Savings? Or OFF of it?

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And these came yesterday…gonna put them on the car so I can get keyed in all my local parking lots.

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Anyway. I came home from work yesterday and moved everything on my calendar from yesterday’s to-do list to today’s to-do list. I’m not sure it will all get done, but I really couldn’t deal with it. I knew I had a show to go to last night, but later, so I tried to do something useful. For instance, I had three days of 1 Year of Stitches to do…because I just lost it this week apparently. I’ve been really good up until now…never more than a day behind. I had found two batches of some perle cotton in a color range, so I decided to just use one a day. Hence the purple and blue from before. These three are the yellow above the blue wheels (under the tree) and then the orange bullions in the grasses to the right of the tree, and then I went in with the red and filled in the yellow bits, then went down and did some French knots in the fly stitches under the tree.

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I was going to do some fill in around the blue and purple, but I think I want to use something variegated in there. For interest. Maybe today’s…

Here was my lap partner.

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Pyscho puppy was in and out. I just throw balls for him in between taking a stitch. Literally. It’s like one stitch per throw.

Then because I wasn’t budging off the couch until I had to eat and get ready to leave, I finished stitching down all the wool and cotton on the block that’s attached to the third block I was supposed to be embroidering on (if that makes any sense at all…because it only barely does to me)…

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And because I still didn’t have to leave, I started the embroidery on that block…couching a thicker thread with a thinner one…two needles going at once.

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There’s a lot of that in this quilt. I really do find this embroidery relaxing. Sure, I could have come in here and sandwiched the quilt last night, but my feet are hurting…that damn inner-foot arthritis. Only hikers with flat feet get that shit. I guess I need new shoes (not hiking boots…school shoes) again.

Then I went to the show, which was out in the boonies…and actually enjoyed myself…

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Even when the drunk guy tried to drag me out onto the dance floor (foot is still hurting…plus drunk guy)…but it was really late when I got home, so I went pretty much straight to bed.

This morning, I’m trying to be focused. The problem is the number of things on which I need to focus. So my brain is trying to distract itself…like wouldn’t you like to make one of these small quilts next?

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Well yes, I would…however, I can’t. I have a show coming up and I’m trying to stay focused on it and the 17,000 other shows that are picking away at my brain at the moment. At some point, I will just say Fuck You to all of it and do something I want to do. Climate change is poking at my brain at the moment.

Although I found the one I really am doing next, since I got the other rejection, confirming that I’m sticking with bathtubs…and I really like this one. So I’m good.

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There’s even a piece of cheesecake in this quilt (can’t see it in this photo). So that’s cool.

And it only has 695 pieces.

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Wait. Seriously? OK. So get your act together Kathryn, because you’re gone for a week in April. Counting this coming week, that gives you 5 weeks. Dammit. OK. I got this. One of those weeks is Spring Break, so I can put in some serious hours. Don’t think about school and grading…you’ll figure that shit out. You always do. Sleep? You suck at it anyway. I don’t even know why you worry about that.

I did just realize I forgot to schedule the machine in for cleaning/adjustment, so I scheduled that. Right now. In the middle of writing this post. I’ll be done with this quilt, but I’ll still be in the pre-quilting stages of the next one. So that’s awesome.

OK. Get a grip. Make a post-it note list. You know you love those. Maybe eat something and take a shower. And at least one more cup of tea.

Damn mockingbird is still keeping me up at night…a reader suggested I look at Failure to Launch…which I have not seen…but maybe I should…

I guess the difference between me and her is that I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird…I don’t really want to kill it…I just want it to shut up.

*Soundgarden, Black Hole Sun

 


Take Only What You Need from It*

March 14, 2017

I really enjoyed coming home from school and sitting on the deck in the waning sunshine, the day still a bit warm, but starting to cool off with spring night temperatures. I probably got bit by some overachieving mosquito or seven, but it was worth it to just sit…only 30 or 40 minutes maybe, but better than most days, when it’s zero.

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Of course, part of why I had time to do that was because Calli is injured, so I didn’t walk the dogs today. Calli was convinced I should throw that stick for her. Many days I do, but she’s still limping. I tried to explain that to her, but it didn’t go down well.

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So I had started this drawing a couple of weeks ago. It’s still not going where I want, but since I’m not sure where I want it to go, it was OK to just draw shit.

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Honestly, sometimes it’s OK just to wiggle the pen across the paper in a drawing motion.

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I find myself drawing less than I used to…not enough time to just sit and do that. Life was supposed to get less busy with the kids gone, but it hasn’t really. I’m sure that’s my fault. I’m hoping next year is better, after we have most of our science curriculum set. We’ll see.

I did come home to a jury summons. I haven’t gotten one of those since the kids were little. And they picked not only Spring Break, but the week I’m planning on taking the first vacation I’ve tried to take for more than two days since oh maybe 2013. So yeah. I postponed it to summer…AND moved it out of downtown, so I wouldn’t have to deal with traffic and hellish parking.

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Pretty sure they’ll kick me right off the premises pretty quickly. Maybe I should bring up the missing penis debacle.

I did the buttonhole stitch wheels in blue. There’s gonna be color in between them too…I left room for that.

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And then while waiting for an episode to end, I stitched more wool down…with a puppy.

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This is pretty relaxing as well.

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I didn’t grade last night. We spent about 2 hours after work trying to spend some money we were given for science, more than we’ve ever seen. We wanted to be sure we did it well. I felt like I had worked enough hours yesterday.

Then I finally went in to iron…only the heads left. I always iron the eyes separately and then place them on the face…more likely to get the expression right.

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Crooked eyes can really screw up the faces.

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Yeah. Those eyeballs just floating around.

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Heads done.

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At this point, it was midnight. Of course, I should have stopped there and gone to bed and finished it tonight. Er. Um. I didn’t. I kept going.

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So now she’s all ironed down and ready to go.

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She’s got some batik running blue issues, but I can fix that. You’d think I’d remember to rewash dark blue batik when I use it as a background…but no. After 25 years, I still just go with it. It’s fine…I’ve dealt with it before.

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Anyway, tonight I need to put labels on two quilts shipping to a show and pack those up and another one to ship out this week…so I might not have time to start the stitch down. I don’t expect it to take long though. I’m hoping it will be easier than it was on the last quilt…the tension was a bitch last time.

Anyway. Progress. Meanwhile, both kids are socked into blizzards and school is closed for the day. Actually, Boston hasn’t checked in…I know her school is closed, but not whether they got the snow they were supposed to…but Ithaca just closed. And Cornell rarely closes. Meanwhile, we’re slated to hit 90 degrees today. Wait. Boston (excuse me, Waltham) has reported “quite snowy”. And it’s gotta be a blizzard for Cornell to close.

OK. Well. School. Yeah. No blizzards here.

*MGMT, Kids