Shed Our Skin*

August 17, 2017

The first day of school is always exhausting, even when you don’t talk as much as you used to. Really. I try to talk way less than I used to. They don’t need to hear me all the time. They need space to hear what’s in their own heads and process it. I also got the opportunity to hear what they thought a good science teacher was…interesting. It gave me the opportunity to tell them that HELP doesn’t mean giving them the answers. It’s good that they’re hearing that on the first day.

I’m having to adjust my eating schedule to my new prep period, which is proving difficult. I think I’ll get used to it eventually, but I’m not there yet. And honestly, the real test is today, when I’m too tired and nauseous in the morning to want to eat a decent breakfast. I won’t make it to lunchtime if I don’t eat, but I don’t want anything right now. I will figure it out. Just not this morning (why I buy a few Evol breakfast things for the freezer…I’ll take it with me and hopefully be able to stomach it before the bell rings).

I managed to remember to bring my sketchbook with me to school, though…not so I could draw naked things during my prep (although I had a year when I did that, because everything else was so painful and I needed a place to park the depressive thoughts midday)…but so I could go enlarge the drawing of the head. Normally I do 250-300%, but this is already big, so I went for 200% instead. I copied the meditation angel that I finished as well, but I don’t know when I’ll have time to work on it.

When I got home, I succumbed to exhaustion. Even napped for the requisite 20 minutes (I was reading and fell asleep…I never used to fall asleep while reading. Proof of aging.). Literally couldn’t barely move off the couch for about 2 1/2 hours. It’s OK. It gets better. I just tell you that because of all the people who think I work relentless hours. Well maybe, but I have my exhausted moments too. It takes will power to get off the couch and work at 9 PM.

I finally ate dinner (hallelujah for leftovers) and was able to stand up and cut shit out. Actually, I did this first…

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Orange feather stitch on the bottom left.

Then I took Tuesday night’s drawing and attached it to the drawing from early summer.

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I got rid of the other incorrect bullet. I also started adding paper around the two pieces for what I’m seeing in my head. I don’t want her to be too huge or I won’t be able to finish her. I don’t want to talk about what I’m thinking yet either. This is a difficult concept for me to make obvious in a drawing. In fact, it may not end up being obvious at all. But I know what’s in my head and ideas are now trickling in about how to make it. It even has a title already. But not sharing yet. Still drawing. Probably will be for a few more days. Being tired doesn’t help. More standing after standing all day. Anyway. The hardest part is that the drawing is emotionally difficult, and then I’ve been watching all these British dramas that are kind of dark and difficult as well.

I guess it’s difficult times in which we live. Not as difficult as say the Dark Ages, but still. Not sure Netflix helps…binge watching is not always a good thing.

Calli sleeps through it all. She occasionally comes over and noses me for attention. Simba sleeps right next to me when I take breaks on the couch (feet hurt). Midnight too. Kitten was antisocial last night. Not sure why.

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I’m feeling kinda lost by the kids being gone. I know they’ll be back in 124 days or so though (ah, apps…there is no mystery any more, is there?). But I miss them. And at some point, they won’t come back. That’s hard to think about.

I need to be finishing up the house tasks that didn’t get done over the summer (there are always many of them), but there’s no energy for that this week. Maybe Saturday. You know it’s bad when you can’t even pick up a needle or a pen. Well, for me, that’s really bad. I don’t just sit and watch TV unless I’m sick or exhausted.

Better next week. It will be.

*Ivy, Edge of the Ocean


Both of Us Searching for Some Perfect World*

August 16, 2017

Today is the official start of the school year…you know, the part where you realize on the first day that (a) you are woefully unprepared, even after 14+ years of teaching and (b) that kid who is already annoying will never ever ever be absent. I met and freaked out my first student yesterday. He shook my hand. That’s nice. No really, it is. In general, I really like my students, even the truly annoying ones. When they ask if I missed them, I say “Every day.” Well. Not for all of them. I am brutally honest with some of them, but once they’ve been with me all year, they would expect nothing less. But today…today I just mispronounce about 140 names and try to start memorizing faces. Honestly, though, if I remember a kid’s name on the first day, they were highly notable in one of a few ways, none of them probably good. I do forget them over time, though. I always tell the kids there will be someone else like them in the next year, so one of my old students that showed up yesterday wants me to introduce her to The New Her. Because she thinks they can be friends. I love that. Not upset that she’s not supremely unique…just wants to make friends with herself.

Anyway, we try to start every year with the right positive mindset, to make sure the stuff that always drives us bonkers won’t do that this year (ever hopeful)…meditation and mindfulness has been incredibly helpful with this, although I still honestly suck at it, I think.

I did good yesterday. My room is mostly done…

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I’ve got more fussy bits to do, adding pictures and putting labels on folders. Fun stuff.

And then I went to pick up my quilt from the photographer…I’m still debating the name.

Fiber Artist Kathy Nida

As always, they’re better in person.

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What’s also better is finishing it three weeks before the deadline…

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Mostly because there’s a deadline right after it…

Fiber Artist Kathy Nida

It’s the smallest and least complicated quilt I’ve made in many a summer. Evidence that the summer was large and complicated.

Made dinner and did two nights’ worth on this…the green feather stitch and red double lazy daisies on the top.

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With both kids gone, I have a lot of animal interaction…

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She knocks everything else off, but generally leaves my teacup alone.

So I have the next deadline. The drawing has one part done. It’s been enlarged and has been sitting around since the beginning of summer, I think. Not that it’s done any good, because honestly, I just throw a bunch of images and shapes and ideas around in my head until it all makes sense. Sometimes I do a bunch of preliminary drawings, just to figure out where my head is going. But last night, I finally sat down with one of the many images in my head and started drawing.

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I got schooled in bullet shape post-shooting, which is fine. I’m actually OK with not knowing what they look like afterwards, but I did change them for the drawing.

This cat has partied too hard.

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And I got to here. I need to enlarge it and combine it with the other piece to figure out what else is going on.

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But by the time I got to that point, the copy place was about to close. I knew I couldn’t get there in time, so I’ll do that after school. The post-it has ideas for what else needs to be on there. Now that I have this, I can try some other stuff out in my head.

So it wasn’t bedtime yet…and this drawing wasn’t done. I think it is now…

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I like how it turned out. She’s way mellower than I feel. Then again, she’s not starting the first day of school in an hour. So hopefully I’ll be drawing again tonight. That’s not a bad place to be.

*Thompson Twins, Hold Me Now


Like It’s Tryna Get Away*

August 15, 2017

I really hate the days when I can’t find the energy to make art. Even if I got a ton of stuff done (I didn’t) and walked a lot of steps (I did) and even walked the dogs (I did) and made dinner from scratch (I did) and the boychild got safely to college with a minimum of delay (he did…only an hour and a half in Detroit), it still feels like I did absolutely nothing yesterday because I couldn’t even pick up my hand and draw. Hell, I didn’t even do the stitch-a-day thing. THAT was too much work. Yes. I went to bed early. That’s how you know you’re old…you can only do one night of almost no sleep before you crash. Apparently 3 hours is my crash point.

My bulletin boards aren’t done. My room is a disaster. A clusterfuck even. I can’t find anything because I had to put it all away in June. I did finally find my phone. At like 3 PM yesterday. I thought someone might have stolen it. Nope. They didn’t. It’s OK. I still have today to try and get my head straight. And it all doesn’t have to be done today. I have time to get some stuff done in the next few days…although it feels better on the first day to be on top of all of it…because it will be the LAST TIME ALL YEAR that you will feel that way. Seriously.

I am wearing my Threads of Resistance t-shirt today. It’s how I feel. Resistant. And maybe it will help.

I’ll photograph my room today. It’s scary right now.

When I got home from school, I took the dogs on a 3-mile hike. We all needed it.

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Not the greatest picture…such a delicate flower.

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I had some issues trying to get both of them to walk together after months of not doing it…especially when I was trying to keep them out of the poison oak.

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Someone left this on the bridge…

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And puppy slept close to me for a long time. Honestly, I didn’t get done with dinner and clean up until 9 or so (not so abnormal)…

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But I couldn’t even pick up a needle or a pen. Hopefully tonight will be better. I forget how exhausting the first week can be. I wish I had a project in a better stage right now, like tracing or cutting…I could probably handle that. But no, I’m in the highly creative phase of two different projects at the moment. OK. Well. Draw tonight. No excuses. My day job doesn’t get to co-opt my favorite job.

*Max Frost, Die Young


(Move out) Don’t Mess Around*

August 14, 2017

So I’m running on about 3 hours of sleep. Woo! I think the boychild is on a plane that took off 5 minutes ago. Unless he fell asleep in the terminal. In which case, um, well, he’ll call eventually, right? Certainly after this morning’s “I’m awake” proclamation that was an obvious lie, I will probably never trust him to be up when he says he is again. Ah well. He obviously does not have the crazy morning adrenaline that his mother, a teacher, has. The alarm goes off? We hit the ceiling running. Or at least stumbling.

Luckily I will be dealing with ZERO kids today. OK, that’s sad in terms of my own children, but it’s a damn good thing there will be no students today, because I’m gonna crash at some point. But before that, I need to get my room set up. I’m mostly ready to go do that, except I need about 5 more cups of tea. British tea. Twice the caffeine.

Anyway. The events in Virginia over the weekend are still on my mind, especially after I saw a few posts that the Alt-Right is planning on taking its idiocy across the country to a wide variety of colleges. I don’t advocate violence. Ever. Well. That’s not true, but we can have that conversation later. I do advocate for about a thousand peaceful protesters who are pro-human to show up and surround Alt-Righters anywhere they think to gather. To stand with signs and stare them down. Photograph them. Tweet their angry faces and Hitler T-shirts. Call Them on Their Shit. I’d advocate for getting them fired, but honestly, that’s just going to add to their feelings of injustice. And trying to brainwash them into consciousness is reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange. “Goodness is something to be chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.” Plus this…

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Although it’s tempting. I just don’t think it would be effective. And I can’t argue that harassment would be either. We don’t like it when the trolls come after female gamers for not having penises…it’s not OK to advocate harassment for the trolls either. I’d like to hear what they have to say, although with Peter Cvjetanovic, it’s not like he makes more sense when he tries to explain himself. Frustrating.

So yeah. I didn’t get much done yesterday. The boy and I tried to get the bedroom straightened up…vacuumed. He packed. Managed to fit it all in his bags (I don’t know how). We ate dinner at the parentals. Facetimed the girlchild. Normal Sunday, I guess. I tried to get some school stuff organized for today and next week. And at the last minute, we tried to migrate everything over to gmail for me. We’ll see if that works. Probably should have done it earlier in the summer so he could troubleshoot it for me. Oh well. I’m not internet stupid most of the time.

I did the feather on the right…the orange was for Saturday (although I did it Sunday) and then I filled in with purple for Sunday…

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Then as I was sitting at the parentals, I worked on the right side of this one…finished the tortoise and the blue flower.

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Then I came home and eventually started drawing her.

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I’ve had ideas about meditation poses for a while this summer. I meant for her to be more upset, but in the end, she wasn’t. I guess that’s a good thing. She’s not done. But I like the shapes. A good start. More drawing. Nope, this isn’t the one I’m supposed to be drawing, but it was all I could handle last night.

It’s always hard when the kids leave. Girlchild was only here for 2 weeks, but boychild’s been home for almost 3 months. Empty nest again. May they stay safe. That might be need to be true for all of us.

*Yazoo, Situation


Land of the Some-of-You-Can-Be-Free

August 13, 2017

Well, America, I’m not very impressed with some of you today. White America especially, some of you are really pissing me off. The thing is, I suspect those who piss me off are probably not reading this blog…because I think that type of person wouldn’t put up with my art either, or my rants. They’re long gone, hiding away in some back-alley private Facebook page, calling me a skanky ho. Well, as long as they spell it right, I’m not bothered by what they call me. I am bothered by their ignorance, their lack of logic (and trust me, I’m not the most logical at times), and their general dumbassery. Their desire to get back whatever they think they’ve lost, to hurt others in the process. As if they have the right to do so. Their hatred. Their need to tear down and break things.

But I’m not sure how to talk to those people. I don’t know how to change the mind of a 20-year-old white male who can’t see his own privilege. I can’t even figure out how to talk to the white folks on my campus who were offended by my students’ anti-bullying and anti-Trump door sign last year. How can you work in my school and espouse the beliefs that you do? I’m like the governor of Virginia…just leave. We don’t want you.

But that doesn’t solve the problem of racism and gender/racial gaps and inequity and what our police would have done if faced with a similar situation except with a less white-washed crowd. It doesn’t solve the problem of how to solve this damn problem! I can’t talk to these people and make any sense of what they say. They feel disenfranchised? Because they’re not better than someone? I’m not sure I care. Except I care that they’re making it worse for the rest of us…no, not just us whitefolks, but everyone else who fills my country. Who make it strong and beautiful and artistic and challenging and entertaining and tasty and sometimes ugly and smelly and warty. I want it to feel safe, not threatened by nuclear war because of stupidity, not mired in fascist Alt-Right idiocy because…shit I don’t even KNOW why. I really don’t.

All I can do is go to school and meet my new mostly refugee and immigrant students, my mostly NOT American-born white students, and teach them how to stand strong and have faith in humanity (some of it anyway) and hopefully some science too. And that not all the white American-born people hate them. Because I don’t. I try not to hate anyone, although a certain orange-faced dickhead certainly gets no kind feelings from me. Or his minions. The ones backpedaling right now as people find them on Twitter or Facebook and out them for their beliefs. Cowards. But even them…I don’t want them hurt. I want them to grow up and change and be more human to ALL humans. I don’t want to kill them or run them over or hang them. OK. Some days I want to put them all on a very hot and dry island somewhere very far away. It’s true. But normally, I don’t want anyone hurt.

It hurts to be an American right now. It shouldn’t. Land of the free, home of the brave. We stole this country, this land, from the First Americans…the least we can do is keep all those who live here safe and give them as much support as we can. Try to make up for previous dumbassery. Try to make it right, best we can. Try to make it better in the future. Starting now.

I finished a quilt yesterday. Post-election, I have focused on women’s rights for a while and now on climate change, although that’s about to change again. There are so many issues that need support. It’s overwhelming sometimes to keep it all in my head. All the quilt needed yesterday was eyeballs…I’d decided not to cut out tiny fucking pieces this time…instead, I would make tiny French knots…this is why I have a thread stash. This is a Finca thread, but a 12…I was looking for a Valdani or Perle 12, but couldn’t find one in the right color, but this is finer than a normal 12.

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This bird originally had two eyeballs, but I decided one was better.

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The sheep and the cows all got to see…

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Tiny little beasts…

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And the fish as well, although I like the whites behind the black on the blue fishies. I also added some ink…

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I took her to the photographer today. Done early!

Then I started sewing the birds together in columns and rows…

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A few beaks got squished in seams…same with some feet. Something to remember as I make more of these. Or not. Here it is all sewn together, after a year of not sewing them together.

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And then the border fabric went on.

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I did cut the fabric for the stems and the 96 colored balls…they are much smaller than I thought they’d be. And I don’t know when I’ll get to them. Sometime, I hope. I have other things to do…processing the American hate of the last few days, moving on to the next art quilt, starting school, sending the boychild back to college. Trying to make sense of the crazy.

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Yeah, Kitten, I know. It doesn’t make sense to me either. I thought we were trying to move past all that into a better existence. I guess you can’t just ignore those people who are so angry at the existence of other. I don’t know how to fix them, though, Kitten. I really don’t.


Please Don’t Bother Trying to Find Her*

August 12, 2017

Most summers I manage to make some monster of a quilt, something with 2200 pieces that measures the size of a refrigerator or something. Not so this summer. Too much cleaning and other work. I did finish one though. Well. First I have to embroider a bunch of eyeballs that I decided NOT to cut out of tiny pieces of fabric for once. I know, right? I totally forgot about the eyeballs last night. I came home from school exhausted, ordered pizza and sewed binding for about 3 hours straight. Because that was easier than thinking about anything. The quilt goes to the photographer tomorrow, and now I need to do eyeballs this morning. No problem. That’s easy. But I was already in bed and about to turn the lights out when I remembered the eyeballs thing. So I put a reminder on the calendar…so yes, my phone keeps popping up with a reminder that says Embroider Eyeballs.

It’s all good. Artistically arranged puppy good.

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He was helping me. That background…think it came from one of the donated piles of fabric. It got well used. There’s about 5″ of it left, which I could realistically use in a quilt somewhere.

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I’m trying to be a responsible fabric user…haven’t bought a backing fabric in a year or so. I just reduce and reuse.

She’s long and skinny, that’s for sure. About 68″ long (so taller than I am).

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I’ll post official photos next week. I don’t have total hours yet either…since the eyeballs still need embroidery.

One of the things that’s interesting about this quilt is in the time analysis. It’s probably the same size as the Bathtub quilts, except it’s long and skinny. But it had almost twice as many pieces than the most complicated one of the Bathtubs. It took much longer to trace pieces and iron them, but the same amount of time to quilt. The amount of detail is greater, but the length of the stitching line is about the same? This analysis helps me figure out how to estimate future quilts, both time and price. And to try to control some of my detail tendencies…but it does explain why size doesn’t matter.

Which reminds me, The Goddess of Never-Ending Chaos is currently in Birmingham, England, at their Festival of Quilts.

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She no longer belongs to me…but I have another meditation-pose piece in my head at the moment. I should draw that. Is there time for that in my crazy schedule?

More stuff in the feather stitches…straight stitches and some French knots, filling in space. That’s the official title of this thing, by the way…Filling in Space.

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Then my brain froze. I was exhausted by the conference yesterday…really more a matter of too much interaction (900 teachers is a lot of interaction) than actual physical exhaustion, like what teaching does to you. I had to get up way too early and I didn’t sleep well the night before. I seem to be alternating between stressy interrupted sleep and conking out the next night. Fun stuff.

Anyway, I think I was talking about this Sue Spargo BOM Bird Crazy (oh wait, that’s not the real name…that’s what I call it…it’s called Bird Dance) last summer, about all I needed to do was to trim the blocks and sew them together and then put borders on, and I was debating that, because it seemed easier to sew the 96 circles in the border on before sewing the borders on the rest, but they do need to BE in a certain place, and that’s a pain in the butt without having them sewn on. SO. I didn’t do anything. They’ve been sitting in this box on the couch since then. Like a year (I just looked it up. I finished the last bird on July 29 last year…the BOM from 2013.). You have to be impressed by that, right? You don’t even know how many soccer games these bird blocks saw…so with my braindead brain, I went and trimmed all those fuckers down to the same size (well, except for the two that are not quite big enough). Which I was going to do last August. And didn’t. And then once you’ve done that, you’ve got to sew them together because you just cut off all the knots that are keeping the embroidery in place.

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So I laid them out. The cat was NOT helping.

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Luckily I could just follow her picture, because if I’d had to make decisions about what went where, we’d be sitting here in 2020 trying to figure that shit out. And I started sewing them together…until I got distracted by moving the bed and fixing the shower faucet and then stressed out about how I never ever ever get my house clean and organized. EVER. I’m going to finish sewing them together today and put the borders on though, because this is something that can be completed and checked off a list and that’s a good thing right now. I really should be panicking more about school at this point, but I can’t even.

It’ll be a year at least before I get 96 balls sewn on and embellished. No worries about a quick finish on this. And the other BOM of hers that I finished? Still pinbasted from last year. Oh yeah.

So I went to bed way too late last night because I was cleaning at 1 AM, you know, like you do. Because if someone can answer the question of What the Fuck Do I Do with All the School Shirts I Have That I Don’t Like to Wear? Well I’ve got a reward of some type for you. Like a bunch of school shirts I’m thinking. I even got rid of like 5 of them already.

Then the dog started barking early this morning (up way way way too late last night) at the construction next door (will it NEVER END???) and boychild made good smells throughout the house (clearing out the freezer I believe)…

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Both kids can cook. And it’s not because of me. Impressive. He leaves Monday. It’s gonna be a rough week. And I have to try to start drawing the next quilt, because it has to be done in 80 days. Well, before that, so it can be photographed. No problem. (ha ha ha) But first the damn embroidered eyeballs.

*The Zombies, She’s Not There


Tying My Neurons into Knots

August 11, 2017

Well. That was it. Summer break. Oh thee of little sleep and lots of moving shit around, thy will did not include a big summer quilt like always (there was a quilt…it just wasn’t big). My left eye never stopped twitching (that’s a new one).

My goal this year, because I always have one, is to be more zen. Now the girlchild claims I’m the least zen person she knows, so it should be easier to be More zen. Anyway. Let’s see how it goes.

I did enjoy the sunrise this morning. It was brief, but beautiful.

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Guess I will be seeing more of those. Although normally I wouldn’t be up and showered yet. Today is special for that. Thank you, today, for the sunrise, which makes up for how I feel right now (not really, but maybe it will later).

I’m supposed to be wearing Hawaiian stuff today for the back-to-school conference. All black it is. Because if I were in Hawaii, I’d probably be wearing all black at least one of the days. I don’t own any Hawaiian. I’m not buying Hawaiian. I am the worst team player ever (unless it’s shit I care about…then I’m one of the best).

Midnight hangs out in here. Well. When I’m in here, everyone is in here, except for Simba, who likes the boychild better, because he scratches his belly nonstop and lets him loll all over him.

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One of the biggest problems of the new school year (so far) is that my prep moved to the afternoon, which affects my food schedule. This is a big deal when you’re a diabetic who manages her blood sugar with diet. People say dumbass things like, “Well, just eat during class.” When I’m teaching, I’m pretty fully engaged with what I’m doing. Which is what you WANT for the teacher of your child, right? No way in hell am I gonna remember to eat until it’s too late and I’m shaking. Unfortunately. So I need some solutions. This would be good if I could remember to do it, or not hate the meal by Wednesday if I premake them. Or whatever.

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Girlchild suggested I go to bed earlier so I could get up earlier and prep a meal. Yeah. Well. Just because you go to bed earlier doesn’t mean you will fall asleep earlier. I guess that’s an old-people problem…except I’ve always been like that. So I’m trying to figure that out. Realistically, I have until next Wednesday, because that’s when the kids start.

Anyway, I was determined to finish quilting yesterday so I could go buy binding. So that’s what I did.

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I finished the quilting in the middle of the afternoon, which worked out perfectly, because I went to the fabric store on the way to counseling. I even remembered wiper fluid for the car, after going without it all summer (a mistake). They even tried to upsell me an engine additive. Sigh. No.

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So after that, I spent about 2 hours cleaning the bedroom, including trying to move the bed by myself, which was a huge mistake. But I made major progress in there, which is awesome. What’s not so awesome is how many sets of sheets I have. I’m pretty sure if there’s a zombie apocalypse, sheets are not gonna save me. (I don’t buy sheets. My mom does. It’s a thing. Actually, I buy one set of flannel sheets every 10 years or so, because I like them in winter. Plus they have cool things on them like penguins.)

That said, all the sheets are now homed appropriately. And in an organized fashion (not by set, but by type…I like to mix and match.).

So it was late when I started this. I was working on the bedroom because I had to wash the binding fabric (I wash everything) and then I just kept going on the bedroom. But trimming the quilt was a bitch. Sometimes it is. For one thing, it couldn’t be wider than 24″, so there was that…and then the boxy bit at the bottom wasn’t quite perfectly boxy, so that made trimming it a pain in the ass. Hence all the recuts and recuts and can we trim this shit again?

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But I eventually (sweatily) got there.

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I don’t usually leave more on one or two sides than the others, but I liked how it looked. Kind of like an ancient scroll, the story of climate change in the future, when we are all living on a very small piece of land because nowhere else is habitable. That’s my other nightmare right now, after North Korea bombing San Diego, because it’s a military town…oh, and the Yellowstone Caldera. That too. Because I’m less than 1000 miles away. I don’t want to experience any of those things. And I was only halfway kidding when I told the boychild I was turning the pool into a bomb shelter this fall.

Then the binding went on. I used to always do darker bindings, but that doesn’t always work, especially when the background is already dark. I wanted to stick to that gray blue from the bottom part of the quilt…

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I stayed up way too late, yes. And yes, that’s Bloodline. A cheery show. Really. Tortured people who don’t seem to be able to do it right. A good choice.

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So there she is, staring back at us. The artist’s gaze. I hope you can see the What the Fuck Did You Do in her look. This thing needs a title (and it probably can’t be that…although it’s appropriate to the quilt).

Today I start the new school year. Tonight I (a) move the bed with the boychild’s help and (b) sew down all that binding by hand. And let my brain percolate over the next one, which is tying my neurons up in knots, let me tell you. I can storytell what I want it to say. I’m just not sure how to say that in images. I’ll get there. I’m just not there yet. I do have something else I can work on for the next few days if it’s an issue though, so I’m OK. No worries brave readers. There’s always art to be made.