Well Every Day My Confusion Grows*

June 6, 2017

Yesterday, after working all day, racing around to try to fix stuff (one of my banks shut down all my accounts last week after some unknown problem with security…unfortunately one account is the one my paycheck deposits into) and mail important stuff and pick up quilts and photos, I was on my way home, negotiating stupid end-of-day traffic, and the need to get OUTSIDE and walk hit me upside the head. Hard. One dog still can’t go out and walk, but the other one, the little one, he needs it. Hell, I need it too. So we walked…

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It was good. We went further out than usual and found this weird pipe and bridge…

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They REALLY didn’t want us to go over this.

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Came back and ate and graded stuff and got really frustrated by the kids who didn’t complete the simplest assignments. Aargh.

Sat on the couch and stitched a bit with these guys…

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I did a blue/green lazy daisy above the orange flowers to the right of the hand. I seem to have run out of creativity…keep using the same stitches over and over. Seems like there’s no more stitches.

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Very philosophical that. I was fighting off a panic attack of sorts…too much to do, getting irritated by the cat’s tail on the keyboard, annoyed by people and all their crazy shit, putting together a crazy to-do list that keeps me at this heightened state of teeth grinding for at least another week.

Not a good place to be. Manage the shit…best I can. Grades are priority at the moment, but so is my sanity. I’m describing it as a very “intense” part of the school year. True that.

So I eventually managed to get off the couch and start numbering these. Because that’s gonna be part of the decision-making process…how bad are they? I did the 4-square of women first. It’s one of my favorites and will definitely be a quilt some day.

Although maybe not soon, because that sucker has over 700 pieces. And most of them are small.

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But it would be fun to do…

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Except all the women overlap, so I’d either need a huge run or two separate runs. Definitely doable…

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I feel like I should work on something easier…something quicker…to start.

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I don’t know why I feel that. Maybe it’s the tension I’m still carrying after a 3-mile hike and a crazy stressful day. Eight days. I swear I can do eight days. I’m just not sure I can finish all the other crap people want me to get done in those eight days. Plus I got my rescheduled jury duty crap, which just annoys me. I’m trying to bid on copyediting jobs and I don’t even know if I’ll have time to do them. Frustrating as hell.

OK. Well. Deep breaths. Meditative positive thinking (well survival thinking anyway, which in my eyes is positive. I WILL survive. And get mostly everything done.).

*New Order, Bizarre Love Triangle


It’s Never Quite as It Seems*

April 29, 2017

Leaping out of bed at 6 AM, grabbing the phone and finding the camera app. Not to go to work…simply to try to record what freaking animal travels past my bedroom window every morning, usually at 5:30, but apparently it sleeps in on Saturdays. Simba is barking wildly, like he needs to kill it. Then again, he barks at the wind, at phones ringing on television shows, and random shit that’s at least 5 miles away. So I’m not really paying attention to him. Did I catch it? No. It’s either raccoon or skunk…not sure why I care, except it’s constantly waking me up…not because of its stealthy movements through the leaves. I can sleep through that (usually)…but I can’t sleep through Mr. Barkypants. Some part of me thinks if I get a picture of it and show it to the pup that his tiny little brain will go, “Oh. That’s it. I don’t need to bark at that.” Um. OK. So when I write that out, I realize how crazy it sounds. That dog would just bark more.

Yesterday was Calli’s 8th birthday. She acts a lot older this year though…maybe that’s the growing arthritis. I don’t usually have her on Fridays, but I automatically went and picked her up, so whoops. I wanted to go on a walk, so I figured she probably did too (I was right). Even with the arthritis pain, she loves walks.

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It doesn’t matter how I try to organize and untangle leashes…the little one is a leash idiot.

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The plant growth this year is crazy…

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The last time we were here, it was almost underwater…

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This was exciting for both of them…that is a bunny. There were lots of bunnies, actually…

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And lots of wildflowers…

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And these weird giant spiky pod things…

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These flowers are here every year…there were actually fewer of them because they were inundated with the taller grasslike weeds.

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Unfortunately, Simba was badly designed. I constantly consider shaving his butt fur. It’s really impossible for him to poop without it getting stuck in his fur sometimes, which is lovely. Really lovely. He needed a flea bath anyway. The fleas this year have been awful…I feel like nothing is working…

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He doesn’t like water. At all.

Before we went on the walk, Calli went and rolled in the skunk-infused dirt again, so she reeked. So I bathed her with better-smelling stuff and her skin stuff, so she has to sit with it on for 10 minutes. Always fun.

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Yeah, I should remodel this bathroom. Remind me to put in a dog-washing station. Seriously. That pink bathtub has to go.

I finally caught up on three nights on this…almost a third of the way through? And I’m lagging. I filled in the eye on the left with three different colors. That’s it. Now I want to do a hand.

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I tired the dogs out at least. Tired myself out as well…was already physically and mentally exhausted from school.

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I finally managed enough energy to eat dinner and then started quilting. The machine was amazingly well-behaved last night…which is good.

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Kitten was not so helpful. There’s some competition apparently between the two cats for time on my bed, and Kitten is being nonconfrontational with the other cat but very needy in the studio. Pet pet pet. Nice kitty.

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It took a wine assist last night…too stressed to think straight. It’s been a long week. But I got a decent amount of quilting done.

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There’s a lot of things on the to-do list today. But I’m up and trying to be efficient. Gonna get through the first two quickly so I can get on with some quilting and artful enjoyment of the rest of the day. Artwalk is downtown and there’s another opening I want to see…plus The Handmaid’s Tale is on someone else’s Hulu. So that sounds like a good afternoon and evening. I’m hoping. I need some down time before I barrel through grades. Tomorrow I’m hoping to be done with quilting and to buy a binding. And deal with the other quilt. Yeah…that much closer to having a clue what will be in the solo show…probably that’s a good thing.

*The Cranberries, Dreams


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)


Oh Mother, Tell Your Children*

March 13, 2017

I realize it hasn’t been very long since I last wrote…although I walked a dog (I think I did that before I wrote last night, because he was being very demanding and I figured he needed it…as did I. I often need a walk.).

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I stuck to the streets this time, because I didn’t have much time before sunset and I only had the one dog…and he’s short. Long grass causes issues. It gets stuck in his badly designed fur and turns him green and grassy. Anyway. I walked him past the old chicken farm property, which still hasn’t been turned into the tract homes they said it would be (and I’m OK with that)…

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Lots of wildflowers here…did not venture to Anza Borrego this weekend (although I wish I could over the week)…this is a different one, one I don’t remember seeing before.

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These are just weird. Nature is so full of weird.

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After 3 miles plus (and whatever my ex did to try to tire him out), he finally settled.

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It takes a lot to tire that beast out. I graded for a while…it needed to be done, because there’s a pile waiting for me at work as well. It’s never-ending.

I did the purple butterfly wings…they’re actually chain stitches that chain off of each other.

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And then, because I was trying to finish watching an episode of something, I found block 3 (which is not block 3, by the way, but block 4, and block 4 is actually block 19 or something. Crazy numbering), which is sewn to block 5, and then started sewing down the stuff on block 5, which is way way way down on the embroidery pile.

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I only sewed until the episode was over. Plus I need to find the other three colors of wool. They’re not where they belong. It’s OK. There’s a box. I know they’re in the box.

Then I wandered in here and ironed a cat…

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Hard to see on the Tyvek…but it will show up fine on the dark background.

Then did the other arm and the stuff floating around it…

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And the teacup on her leg. And We Won’t.

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Because (a) everyone can balance a teacup on their thigh in this position, and (b) We Won’t.

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What’s left? Three heads. And one speech bubble. The time change screwed me over. Not only did I have to try to go to bed an hour earlier (a rampant failure on my part to actually fall asleep), but I had to be up early for a parent meeting today. When I signed up for it back in January or whenever it was, I didn’t know it was the Monday after Daylight Savings. Or that there would be multiple disturbances in the night (coyotes AND raccoons…a double dog-barking whammy). Anyway. This will be a rough week…it always is. But hopefully I’ll get those heads done tonight and have this thing fully ironed down before I try to go to bed at an unnatural time yet again.

*The Animals, House of the Rising Sun


Keep On Keeping On

March 2, 2017

The dogs are so excited when I come home from school and change directly into hiking gear. Of course, I haven’t quite gotten across to them the difference between hiking gear and gym gear, so sometimes they’re unnecessarily excited. And the little one tries to eat my shoes while I’m putting them on, so he really doesn’t get the idea of how he’s NOT helping me get ready. So we went to the same place as last time, which is kind of amusing because it’s a river valley and we had 3 inches of rain about 2 days ago. Yeah. So there was water. And mud. Followed by baths.

Same start as before…at least this was above water…

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Unlike this barely floating bridge…which Calli decided to forgo…let’s just wade through the stream, mom. I carried the puppy across…there’s a gap at the other end. It’s jumpable, but not if you’re a tiny beast.

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At some point, I realized it was going to be a muddy trip, so I went with it…this is runoff from the hillsides…the river is to the right…

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It was overflowing in places…

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And more was coming down off the hillsides, making more rivers…

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All in all, a muddy trip. Frogs though! That was nice.

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But wet. And muddy. I mentioned that, right?

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The wildflowers are starting to appear…

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And certainly, after baths, they were tired.

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I did more leaves…

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And I graded stuff…then made it in to iron…fleshy bits first.

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Crawling around on the floor to pick a range of fabrics…

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Got a bunch ironed down though…tiny little beasts.

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It’s going quickly though…

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That’s a plus. Well gotta get outta here early again for another meeting. Ugh. Yesterday was good until the last period of the day. It’s interesting how you carry that. I’m working on relieving stress. More art, more exercise, less of the bad stuff, less teeth grinding. Mantra for today (which already has an early meeting, a fire drill, and antsy kids). Yup. Keep on keeping on. (I don’t even have time for music this morning.)


Let Me Take You There*

February 26, 2017

Well I’m head down (and ass down on the chair) on grading stuff. I even resized the photos for today’s post (yeah, it’s Sunday, but I had an early up and get going, so I’m trying to take advantage of the day and get my work done), and then I forgot to write. I’m taking a break from grading right now, because it’s hurting my head, realizing that I have to rework how we teach one thing that we do all year, because so few of our kids can do it, and we’re more than halfway through the school year.

Anyway. My goal is to do grading now so I can do art later. I started a drawing last night and I’m going to have to restart…but maybe that’s later today. It’s mostly in my head at the moment.

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The world is still pissing me off. Not surprisingly. I solve that by signing petitions and sending emails to my stupid state senator and postcards to the people who need them, and then supporting kickstarters and artists who are making resistance art and donating part of their proceeds (or all, if they’re into that…I think artists need to make a living too) to good causes. Plus making art myself. And continuing to yell out that this shit is not right. Freedom of the press, dammit. Even if you don’t like what it’s saying. I love my country right now for all the parts who are protesting, devious as some of them are (the CPAC Trump/Russian flags…what genius). This is what my country does when there’s a dictator in charge…what you read about in the dystopian novels. This is what we are. We are unfortunately also the stupid stuff. It’s the yin/yang. Can’t have the good protest without the stupid.

I did Friday and Saturday’s stitching yesterday…The tree trunk/branches are done, I think. I might add some more twiggy stuff tonight.

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And before that…I’m stuck with both dogs this weekend, due to my ex being in Boston with our daughter. They needed some exercise yesterday, so I went to Sweetwater to see how bad the crowds were.

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The bridge was all about photo shoots, as far as I could tell…one down at the far end, and then two more when we came back. Weird.

There had definitely been rain out here in the past…I don’t usually walk here, because there’s too many people and bikes, but also fewer coyotes in sight during the day because of that…

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It’s pretty damn green this year…

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Went to the bridge so we could see the stream below…

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Simba likes to stand in big grass.

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We saw another trail camera…but this one had a card explaining it.

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So I emailed her…because she had a bobcat picture and I wanted to know where the fuck THAT was. But also she asked about trail data from hiking apps. And I have that.

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Although yesterday we only did 2 miles. I’ll go back, maybe even tomorrow, and do a longer walk. Until I can go back to the other one with fewer people. I’m not a people person, I guess. I like to be out in nature without humanity mostly.

Anyway, so many art-related things crowding my head today, and work has to happen. I want to finish tracing the other piece today and start cutting it out, but also do that other drawing. Plus I think I’m getting sick…knock on wood. I’ve been healthy for a good long time, but so many students ill is a hard one for even a strong immune system. Gonna go take some more vitamins. Ugh. I don’t have time for sick.

*Led Zeppelin, Kashmir


The Pressure of Days*

February 21, 2017

Extra days off, teacher or no, are always appreciated. I’m so busy that I spent most of it working, but I even got some yardwork and a dog walk in yesterday…always a plus. And it’s the last extra day for 8 weeks, so I needed to appreciate the nice weather as well. It’s been so dark and rainy lately that a pretty sunny day was a pleasant thing.

I tried another hiking spot, one that is more populated, hoping to avoid the coyotes. It’s shorter though, so that’s an issue. The eucalyptus were all leaning…

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I wouldn’t want to be there in a wind storm. And the little stream had obviously been a significant river at some point in the last month or so…mudflow apparent.

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We saw about 5 dogs and 15 people, but no coyotes. I’m sure they’re there, but they weren’t out and about.

Puppy was tired enough after to let me sew the sleeves on the quilt. Done! Well. No.

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It took a while. Apparently I sort of tired him out.

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Dinner made…but also school lunches, with vodka. Ironic that.

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Comfort food. Plus easy.

Then I inked. For about an hour. I haven’t run the hours on this quilt yet.

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I’m sure it’s a lot. Wait. I did the math. 163 1/2 hours. Yup. That’s a big one. Started the cut/paste on December 11…so it wasn’t quick either. I blame the inauguration. And school. And my brain.

Then I finished this drawing. It didn’t need much.

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And numbered it. 504 pieces.

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Not bad. It’s about 24″ square at the moment I think. I should check that. Yeah, she’s got the world in her vagina. Like you do.

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And she’s stomping on some peeps.

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I stole a bit of that from a previous quilt.

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It’s OK. I’m stealing from myself.

So I finally started the tree I keep talking about on this. I did one length of thread in stitching. Because that’s what I’ve been doing all along. It needs roots though.

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Puppy continued to snore.

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He can be really sweet. Right now, he’s demanding ball throwing…which I am doing from my chair here, bouncing the ball off the closet doors into the hallway. That is kinda how we roll.

So that’s it…time to start the next quilt. It’s small, luckily, although it still has a lot of pieces. It will be (should be) done before Spring Break, and then hopefully I’ll be able to finish another one by my other self-imposed deadline. You know? There’s a couple of ways I can go on that. On the one hand, I didn’t get done what I thought I would get done by now, but then the one I finished is about twice the size of what I thought I was going to do. Plans get revised. Quite often, it seems.

*Elliott Smith, Between the Bars