She Totally Confused All the Passing Piranhas*

December 10, 2016

You know what’s annoying? Every time we make some sort of laminated card thing for class, where every table gets X number of cards in a bag and then they have to do stuff with them…every single damn time, we end up with cards getting lost. We laminate them because we want to reuse them every year, but middle-schoolers basically guarantee that we will have to first of all, count every damn bag out (this is what a TA is for), then figure out what card or cards are missing from each bag, and then make X number of extra sets to fill in the blanks. I hate that shit. It’s an organizing nightmare, and we don’t have time for it. At all.

Yes, there are only five days of school until Winter Break. I thought I was getting this huge copyediting job this Tuesday, and I knew break was going to be difficult. Hard to find time for art, because I would have to work. And both kids are coming home. But then that job got pushed out…again…I think that’s the third time. And now break is free (well as free as it ever is…still gotta grade). So that’s a bit of a relief. I’m trying not to think about how I’m going to do that copyediting job without any vacation time to focus on it, but whatever. I’ll deal with that when it actually shows up.

Meanwhile, our students are going bonkers because it’s almost break and Christmas and all that. I did remind them that not everyone does Christmas. What?! Their shock was evident. The bonkers kid behavior is not pleasant. Teachers do not enjoy that. I guess the fact that they will have to take home progress reports next week might help, but not based on what I’ve seen in the last week.

My patience is worn thin. I know it, at least, and try to make myself relax as much as I can, both during school and after school. I feel like all I do at school is hug kids and wipe tears some days, and I’m not really the mama bear on campus. So you know they’re desperate. I’m the one you come to for sex ed or weird science questions…

Anyway, so I was motivated last night to get through grades (I still have about 100 emails to deal with), so that took a few hours. I also wanted to get a tree, but last year, I got zero help from the kids in decorating it, and I also knew I didn’t want another big tree, because between having my (not elderly…they’re not…but knee surgeries etc means they shouldn’t be down on the floor trying to make the tree stand straight) parents help and doing it myself, plus the puppy…I’m pretty sure he will just want to take all the ball-shaped ornaments and destroy them…so I knew it needed to be up off the ground and smaller. I can’t put it on my light table, dammit, because I need that. So I have this desk that I’ve wanted to clear off for a while. It has a pile of crap (they always do) and the third computer in the house, one that’s never used. So I unhooked everything and moved it around, clearing the surface.

And like all trees, within about 5 minutes of getting it up there, one cat appeared.

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The next one was not far behind.

It was still not easy to get everything out of the garage…I start thinking about what needs to happen before I get really old (I barely got the Xmas decoration box down without braining myself). My SIL said I should separate out all the kids’ ornaments this year into one box for each kid (she’s already done this, and her kids are 5+ years younger than mine) so that when they do move out, it’s not a pain to figure out what’s what. That would help. Smaller containers too…and not on the top shelf. But all that means trying to clear out the garage, which just terrifies me. It does need help.

Now did I get lights on the tree? Hell no. Too tired. Ate dinner, finished some section of the grading (probably 4 or 5 more hours to go, unfortunately)…and then sat down. Within seconds, I had Simba and Midnight competing for lap space. He used to bite her, but then I started praising his boisterous ear cleaning, which Midnight actually seems to like. So now he does it all the time. Her ears are very clean. Sparkling even.

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But none of this behavior is conducive to my getting anything done. She eventually settled on one side…

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With him on the other. Room for the sketchbook. Awesome.

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At some point, I realized I was too tired to draw, though, so another early night. Trying to stay well and get what I need. It’s a difficult balance. Today especially…going to an educator meeting to prepare for the next four years of attacks. Mind-boggling looking at the people being chosen to lead us, people with no experience in reality. One of my high-school classmates posted some idiotic statement about the new Secretary of Education, that she must be good because the teacher unions were going nuts. Sigh. So yes, I refrained from bitch-slapping him, because I reminded myself that he was ignorant. Many people are. And if you think deVos is a good choice, come spend a week in my classroom and see what it’s really like. I have to deal with enough clueless people at my job (OK, most of them are 12, but not ALL of them). You should educate yourself before you spout nonsense. And the attacks on science annoy me too. No one on any governmental science committee should NOT be a scientist. Fire their asses. They’re incompetent and ignorant. Should be a good meeting.

But here’s where I got last night. I think I’m ready to enlarge this part and add to the top and bottom…well, and sides. Yeah. Which means not sitting on the couch, unfortunately…but whatever. Puppy will miss me.

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Midnight will just try to sit on the drawing. She vomited on the last one. That was nice. Yeah. And I think I have three social things tonight, although one is with total strangers, crashing another company party (actually I think I’m allowed to crash this one). I’m going to take my stitching to the educator meeting to keep me calm and focused.

As far as finishing the drawing, I think it’s going to be a few days at least. I might get time this afternoon, but I doubt it. And I draw better at night for some reason…so if I finish grades, Sunday night? Anyway, maybe I’ll be tracing sometime this week? I hope so. I want this one done by the end of Winter Break. Seriously. That’s crazy, of course, but it’s what I want. Maybe I’ll be uber-efficient on vacation for once. You never know. It could happen.

*The Presidents of the United States of America, Lump


Sometimes It’s About Massages and Brain Size

December 8, 2016

It’s not in my nature to waste fabric. Well, yes, I take big pieces of fabric and cut them into smaller pieces and then iron and sew them back together. It’s already a strange concept. But I don’t like wasting what I’ve got. It’s my palette. I don’t even like throwing out the tiny scraps left over after I trim the ironed pieces. But I do. Because it would be crazy to keep that stuff (I do keep it until the quilt is done, in case I need a tiny piece of something…because if I’m gonna lose a piece, it’s usually a little one).

So although I finished the newest quilt on Tuesday night, I hadn’t thrown out the scraps yet or put all the other fabric away, because I knew I had the leftover pieces from when I cut the head out backwards. Now I also cut out the bird and the sun/cloud conglomerate backwards, but I ended up using them in the quilt anyway. I couldn’t do that with the head because of the shoulder orientation. It wouldn’t fit right. But I saved those pieces. I had spent time cutting out the Wonder Under, ironing them to fabric, and trimming them. Dammit if I wasn’t gonna use them. (Yes. I am currently channeling my Depression-era grandmother.)

So I did. Here’s the bin. It’s even labeled Backwards. The question was which pieces did I pull from here to finish the other one (answer: cat ears, cat top of head, cat eyes, cat eyeballs, and human eyelid…plus two smaller pieces that seemingly just disappeared)?

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The real problem was ironing on the back of the pattern. I couldn’t see it. So I had to redraw it on the back. Now when I look at this, it’s obvious to me that there’s another problem…flipped letters. I didn’t actually realize that until later though, when I was on the phone with the girlchild and she said I should just leave them backwards (I didn’t…but I do have one quilt where everything is backwards because I traced it all wrong and couldn’t bear to retrace).

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So here it is backwards…in process…you can see the box of scraps there. I had to fill in a few things…small pieces. And I decided to make the words right way round. I didn’t cut new ones. I used what I had.

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Backwards head…

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Regular head…

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Creepy, huh? And honestly, I’m only doing this because I hate to waste stuff. It only took about an hour to iron it together. Not bad.

So yeah, I’ll quilt it etc. and stick it up on Etsy. It’s not tiny, actually, because of the hair. And it’s weird. Then again, everything I do is weird.

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As evidenced by this drawing done during a teacher training yesterday that I was a bit irritated by having to sit through. I hate when the voice in my head is yelling “No DUH!” the entire time.

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So first of all, the statement at the top is not what I think…but what some kids might think (funny, I’m always careful to explain I don’t believe that…that smart people do some really stupid stuff. I could insert names here if I wanted to.). Then the stuff about brain size/weight…I actually wanted to check that out, because I remembered that Einstein’s brain wasn’t particularly large, and I always thought that it was the connections that were more important than size, although even those can be regrown to some extent. And this morning, I found this…confirming that (as we all know) size isn’t everything. And yes, if you haven’t figured it out by now, drawing is my safe space. The Affect not Effect was because the damn program needs an editor. I hate it when apparently educated people can’t edit their stuff. It’s one thing to get it wrong. It’s another to not realize you get stuff wrong and have someone who is better at it check your stuff. We’re teachers, dammit.

I probably scare some people in trainings. Generally I try to sit with people who won’t be scared. In the old days, when we got a paper agenda for staff meetings, people used to try to sit next to me (because it was more fun to watch me draw than listen to the principal). Seriously, though, it entertains the part of my brain that otherwise gets me in trouble. Plus it keeps me awake. And any angry or pissed off or bored parts will have something else on which to focus.

There is a cat currently sitting on my computer mouse. OK. Moved her. Lab day today. Too tired for that. Oh well. It’s not like I get to ignore the tired stuff. I did get my first ever massage yesterday, in an attempt to move the joints in my neck and back that have been semi-frozen about a month. We got all but one of them. But more importantly, holy crap, massages are wondrous. I can’t afford how wondrous they are (seriously, I could get addicted to that). But it was a positive thing. So there we are. You learn something new every day. Sometimes it’s stupid stuff, like how much vomit a Golden Retriever can gack up. But sometimes it’s about massages and brain size.


Finishing with Dogs

December 6, 2016

First of all, hello to all those new to my website who are wandering over here to wonder why I would get busted for a penis that isn’t even in my quilt (I do have quilts with penises in them…just not that one). Funny, because in my mind, that issue is a million years ago (OK, it was August…and September…and into October), and I’ve mostly moved on, except when I’m drawing and feel like adding a bunch of secret penises (penii?) into a landscape or a pretty earth woman covered with flowers. But that’s just the vengeful part of my brain talking. I let her out occasionally, but honestly, the state of the US government is way more pressing on my mind at the moment than some woman in Michigan who imagines penises where there are none. Or a quilt organization that calls itself supportive of creativity in quilts, but apparently only if they are pretty. And nonconfrontational (shut up, WordPress…that IS spelled right. What do you know.). You know, not art.

And dammit, I make art. I don’t sit there trying to figure out how to shock the easily shockable. What a waste of my time. If they don’t like it (like I don’t like some of their traditional stuff with 80 million jewels attached to it), then they can walk on by…like I do.

So with that in mind, here I am finishing another quilt. Actually, here are the dogs sleeping next to me while I finish another quilt.

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OK, so I made it all the way around the binding…just the sleeves are left to go. And now I’m starting to panic about the next one, because the drawing is only started. But it’s OK. I’ll draw tonight or Wednesday…and hopefully I can get at least one of the three (four?) I want done. I think I need to sit down and visualize how this is going to go. I mean, I have a wish list in my head (who doesn’t?) for the solo show next summer, but I’m not sure I can pull it off with the time available. Especially after seeing how little I got done the week I had off. And knowing I have a big copyediting job ahead of me.

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I wish I were a little less stressed about this. It’s the time of year, though. At school, we’re trying to finish a unit and make sure we’re ready to come back in January. Then there’s all the holiday stuff, lots of food for potlucks etc., and parties and family stuff. And then I’m trying to get art stuff done at the same time. My students all wanted to know if I did grades over the weekend. I told them no, I was working one of my two other jobs. Because I did 14+ hours of quilting stuff over the weekend. I did do grades last night, for a little while…but I still spent most of my evening handsewing a binding on with dogs and cats right next to me…not a bad way to spend an evening. I didn’t even poke any major holes in my fingers. Yet.

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And while I was writing this, the internet on my computer disappeared (it’s still working on my phone), so I’m giving up on the deep philosophical consideration of my artistic future and getting my butt to my day job.


Piece of Cake

December 5, 2016

Ugh. Mornings. Not a fan. Too many disturbances last night. It’s fine for puppy. He just naps all day. Me? Not so much. I bully through it, sometimes more or less irritated than others. Really, I know the kids will be asking when I’m going to grade everything, and here’s what’s up with that. I didn’t grade shit this weekend. I quilted like a madwoman. I did 14 hours of art stuff instead of grading. Yup. And I’m not done, but I’m where I wanted to be, perhaps a bit further. So that’s good. But I still have grading to do. And I’m not sure how I’ll tell them that.

I started by pinbasting Friday night and then quilting. I quilted Saturday afternoon as well, although when I started, I found this living thing curled up inside the quilt ball I’d put on the sewing machine…

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Um cat. Move.

I did outlining for hours…hoping to finish it on Saturday, but I had somewhere to be at a specific time, so I had to stop short of that mark…

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I really didn’t have much left…half a face, I think. Part of the sun. Her hair.

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So I’m watching the clock and thinking, “I’ll just finish this up.” Yeah. No. Sometimes you just have to stop and get where you’re going.

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Sunday, I got all the errands and have-to’s done, and then finished up the sun etc. pretty quickly. On Saturday, I’d been smart and bought the background thread. Then Sunday, before I even started this, I went and bought the binding fabric, so I’d be ready. I knew I had a 2-hour staff meeting today and wouldn’t make it to the store before it closed. They used to have one late day a week, but no longer.

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Quilting the background didn’t take as long as I thought it would…I think I stopped sometime just after this to make dinner…

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And came back to Kitten trying to sit all over the quilt again.

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She’s not very patient with me. Total quilt time was just over 10 hours.

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Not bad. But I managed to fold the backing up into the quilting. I did not cut all that out. I trimmed the quilt and then was lucky that it fit under the binding. Don’t do more work if you don’t have to.

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I laid it out again for trimming (fast-moving dog)…

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Then sewed on binding and sleeves, top and bottom.

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Then pinned it all back. Then it was after midnight. Kitten doesn’t want to sit on it when it has pins in it, strangely.

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But that’s further than I thought I would get. All of a sudden, it’s going to be a piece of cake to get it to the photographer Friday. Only two weeks later than I thought it should be done.

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Interesting that I got more done on it while teaching than I did with a week off school…although there was other stuff messing with me that week. I guess it’s easier to be efficient when I don’t have any time. Now I need to start drawing the next one.

This came up over the weekend…back to the world of nonexistent penises. There’s the quilt that started that whole mess. Actually, it wasn’t the quilt that started it…it was one person and then one organization that claims it supports art and creativity. My ass. This article is in Textile Fibre Forum, their latest issue.

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Thanks to Tanya for writing me up again. I should stay out of trouble for a while so she has time to make a quilt or two.

OK, so tonight I’m grading stuff AND sewing down a binding. Maybe I’ll finish…maybe not. There’s a lot of binding on this one. It’s a relief to almost be done, though, that’s for sure.


Same As It Ever Was*

December 3, 2016

Finally a lie in. No raccoons. No coyotes. No howling. No barking. Just sleep, blessed sleep. I want to go on a vacation and sleep all night, get up and eat breakfast, and then take a nap. Lunch. Nap. Dinner and do some fun and crazy stuff. Not really. I’m not a very good sleeper…never have been. Even as a kid, I was hiding under the covers with a flashlight and a book instead of sleeping. I’d rather be doing or experiencing shit than sleeping. But occasionally a good night’s sleep is a blessing. Even when you feel drugged the next morning because your body is confused by what you just let it do. The alarm didn’t go off? We slept? Wait…what? We slept the normal amount? That can’t be right.

Accept it, body. It was a gift you probably won’t see again for a few weeks at least.

I didn’t get home until late (for me)…a meeting and a trip to the bank (on a Friday? What was I thinking) plus Home Depot for school stuff…but I hung up my door wreath (a present from my parents every year) and set out my poinsettia (which the dog knocks over with her tail every year, breaking off some major branch so it looks lopsided for the rest of the season). And I ordered pizza, because I was freaking tired. Then I cleaned the entryway floor, because it was dirty as hell and that’s where I pinbaste all the larger quilts.

Puppy was hyper, and I’d thrown the ball for him quite a few times, but he wasn’t done. So I kept throwing for him while pinbasting. He knows (mostly) not to step on the quilt. All the animals know to go around or I throw things at them. So he would bring me the ball and I would throw it and he would chase wildly after it.

Backing taped to the floor…if I ever have the money to remodel and this tile goes, I will still need tile in here, because sometimes on the really big quilts, I have to iron shit in here on the floor.

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I was really efficient the night before…the batting and top were all nicely smoothed out already, so I just dropped them on top. Easy peasy.

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More ball throwing.

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He gets closer and closer, tries to sniff the pins, treads on the edge of the quilt. Why aren’t you paying attention to MEEEE.

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And then gives up and sits on my leg (as I’m sitting on the ground, pinbasting). As I move around, he gets up and then settles on me again.

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Not the most comfortable for me, but apparently I was what he needed. He fell asleep there until I needed to move to the next section…

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It didn’t take long to pinbaste her.

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And then I started quilting. I do the outlining first, usually in a dark blue. I like it better than black. Black is really flat for some reason. Sometimes I use purple or dark green.

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I finished the whole dirt area and up into both legs, and to the uterus…

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And up one side of the torso, plus stomach and liver. Then it was after midnight, well after midnight, and I realized I was getting sloppy. I had quilted for almost 4 hours, which isn’t a huge long time, but after teaching all day and a long week with not enough sleep, it was best to quit. I’m back at it this morning, though, with a real true goal of finishing this weekend, although I think I have to go buy thread for the background quilting. Yeah. I don’t have enough of anything that’s the right color. So probably I should shower and eat and pick up my rain barrels (rebate!) and buy thread…and then hunker down and quilt my eyes out until it’s time to go out tonight.

A plan…I always have a plan.

*Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime


Went to School and I Was Very Nervous*

December 1, 2016

December. The month that gives me nightmares and indigestion. But also brings a 3-week break from school (don’t think about the chaos of Christmas and the giant-ass copyediting project you’re getting done during all that). And cold weather. I’m not sure I’m prepared for that. I seem to be lacking the appropriate clothing…as usual.

Funny about that line from the song, the one I used as the title. I was pretty anxious about school and social stuff and trying to fit in but not really knowing how (at some point, I just owned that and found my space in the world…which generally is over THERE and kind of loud sometimes, but usually just going about my business without worrying about the rest of you). Now I go to school every day, granted, as the teacher, but one of the things I try to do all the time is point out how LOTS of them are feeling that way and they need to figure out that the people around them do too. We’re teaching this program in homeroom that deals with some of this, but the last two days, trying to get them to see what a win-win solution might be to interpersonal issues has been pretty frustrating. No. You don’t get to hit her. No. You don’t get to tell her she’s stupid. No. You don’t get to be rude to people all the time. And then a conversation with a non-Native American that telling someone to go back to their country when almost ALL of us are immigrants (including my family) was a pretty stupid thing to say. Especially since he is also an immigrant. Trump’s attitudes mirrored in our kids. How do you teach them that this is not the HUMAN way to act.

It’s a lab day again today. Headache. But good learning opportunity.

I’m pointedly ignoring the schedule on this quilt. It’s sitting in the chair over there going Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey. Yeah. I know. I’m TRYING. That’s all I can do.

I had my chiropractor appointment yesterday and he mentioned that he couldn’t even budge the part of my neck that is bugging me the most and has been for more than 3 weeks now. Yeah. I know. I mentioned that I’d been considering massage, because my neck and shoulders are completely discombobulated at the moment. So now I’m set up for that AND chiropractor next week. So there’s some chance of my being out of pain soon. Woo! Yes! And I even made it to the gym yesterday. So that was good.

Damn…it was the work I did afterwards that took forever…setting up yet another independent study contract for a kid whose parent thinks three weeks off of school is not enough…then updating quilts and shows on my website. I thought I had done that a month ago, but apparently not.

So I didn’t start stitch down until almost 11 PM. Late. Really late for someone trying to finish. And with an early meeting today, so an early alarm, I couldn’t stay up past 1 AM to finish. Everything is just taking forever on this thing. I don’t even know why. I totally messed up on estimating how long it would take. Or how much time I would have.

Kitten is waiting for me to finish so she can curl up in bed with me. Because it is bloody freezing here (well, again, not compared to many places…but my house isn’t well-insulated…plus, she’s a cat. And that disdainful look is normal.). I did stitch down for over an hour, despite the late start.

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I finished the torso and arms and got halfway through the crazy mane of hair.

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So what’s left? The rest of her hair, her face, a sun and cloud, and a bird. Then I can sandwich and pinbaste. I’m conservatively hoping to get all that done tonight, but honestly, that’s more than two hours right there, I think. And I have a meeting tonight until 8 PM. Plus Christmas shopping, because I’m in a book store for the meeting. So. Sigh. I’m really trying to finish it. And since I already set up delivery to the photographer, I really do have to finish it. On time. Ha.

Still trying to get a photo where the two dogs are looking at the camera and not sniffing each other’s parts. Calli is offended by Simba’s existence.

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This may have to do. At least she’s not snarling. I go now.

*Gary Jules, Mad World


We Both Go Together if One Falls Down*

November 30, 2016

So I’m going to keep making my daily goals for this quilt and then not meeting them. I think that’s just gonna be how this thing goes until it’s done…if it’s ever done. Part of it is I have to do schoolwork when I come home too, and that’s taking longer than I’d like. But I honestly think this quilt is fucking with me. You will NOT finish me bitch.

OK, that sounds a bit crazy, yes. But usually I’m ahead of the game, not behind by a week.

I don’t think I started until almost 10…that’s part of the problem. Stay at school late to do tutorial, go to grocery store to buy more yeast packets for today’s lab on the way home, get home and read stupid email fucking up the entire schedule for next week, deal with that and dogs and order more yeast (I’m thinking I should buy stock in yeast, vinegar, and baking soda now that I’m teaching chemistry). What’s in my school fridge? Yeast. Eyeballs. A frog or two. I think I tossed the hearts. They went bad. Tapatio. Because. Yeah. Made dinner, hung out, tried to type up a worksheet when I couldn’t remember the damn materials and process. Fuck. OK. Finish that tomorrow.

Sigh. I’m overwhelmed. And irritable as shit. So I’m trying to hold that like a big huge ball of Playdoh and squish it down into something manageable, or even better, something I can throw away from me. I’m a visual person. I need to see all that shit rolled up in my head. Shove it into a cupboard, throw it out a window. In my head.

I had this drawing in my head for a while that I could never get out on paper. I was stuck in one of the old glass phone booths and everything else was banging on the outside, demanding shit. Yeah. Here’s how (and why) I hermit. Hard to do that with a classroom full of kids.

So I had started stitching down the night before, but I didn’t get very far. Honestly, I didn’t get much further last night, even with a couple of hours in…

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This threw me for a bit. I swore a lot (yes, mom, I turned it off and walked away and then came back to it). Nothing made it stop. That message came back up after I turned it back on. And I’m thinking to myself, YOU’RE overloaded? Fucking A. I’ll show you overloaded. I love that my machine takes on my moods. So just before I was about to give up and go meditate (while swearing profusely at the universe), I thought about that Google thing.

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You know, where you Google your error message (wait a minute…I’m getting a flash of how to solve ALL my personal problems) and someone else has a fucking answer? Yeah. Found it. Turned the damn hand wheel…all the while thinking, no fucking way this is going to work…and in typical Kathy brain fashion, I have now imagined all the possibilities to how I’m going to get the quilt done (including NOT getting it done or anything else, because I’m tossing everything in the pool and moving to Mongolia).

It worked. Seriously. Stupid machines. Kitten was perturbed by my yelling.

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Now did I get done? Hell no. I stopped at about 12:15 because I remembered I had to be up early for a meeting.

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I draw that face a lot because in my head, my mouth is often yelling like that. This quilt is about time. I don’t ever have enough of it. And apparently I’m old. You know how that goes (sure, many of you are older than me…). Bodies break down. I got the whole bottom dirt area done, plus the legs and torso up to about her waist, and I made it up one arm to the shoulders. So more than halfway, but I probably have a good two more hours to do. Yeah. Schedule shot to hell again. Whatever.

*Coconut Records, West Coast