I’ll Figure It Out…

July 25, 2016

Some things that were going through my head in the last 36 hours…first of all, hallelujah that the hot weather has broken for now, because I was considering Naked Quilting, and there’s a few things that might be an issue…my kids for one thing, plus the fact that some parts of the body sweat too much and underwear can be a good thing to catch all that wet. Plus needles and scissors and nudity aren’t a good mix.

Second, the heat seems to have nixed the mockingbird. Yeah that bastard has been forcing me to sleep with a pillow over my head for months now, which is significantly difficult when it’s already hot. But apparently heat is not his superpower, and he has shut the fuck up. Hopefully permanently. No, I’m not wishing he were dead, because I’m not 12 years old (OK, let’s not analyze that thought in reference to a certain orange-faced, mop-wearing crazy man at the moment), but I would like him to let me sleep.

What else can I be grateful for this morning? More deadlines? Because I have more of them after yesterday’s fiber group meeting. It’s OK. I have 17 Excel spreadsheets currently in force to help me plan my art doings in the next year, and all of them say STOP trying to plan and just do.

Well, Saturday evening, I gave up on the do for a while (I did stitch stuff down for a good four hours Saturday, so I was no slacker…) and went out to see Arts and Amps at the Karl Strauss Tasting Room (it’s not really in PB…don’t panic). I was hoping for more Arts, but it was mostly Ale and Amps…although some of the beer sales went to help the Orlando victims…OK, not the wire work of fucking ducks…that’s Spenser Little, local wire guy, who I think I’m officially stalking, based on how often I go out to see his work.

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He gets around. The reason I knew about this event is a group called Cohort Collective that I follow, because I like a bunch of the artists’ work. And me and the guy were sort of fighting the idea that it was too hot to do anything and too hot to walk anywhere for dinner and we should do something interesting, so this is what we did. Yeah, there was a band. They were OK. The beer was good…but I mostly watched the painters work on this giant piece of canvas that had something else painted on it before they started (obviously), but we got there late, so we don’t know what it looked like before they started. So this was Dolan Stearns, whose style was kinda sloppy when you watched him, but had an interesting effect…

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And Christopher Konecki, who I’ve posted about before…we didn’t stick around for his part of the painting…not their fault. We were hungry and the food there wasn’t gonna work. But I was fascinated with how he painted…very different from the other two. Plus he wore gloves.

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And Nekoes, who did the beer growlers with faces…a very precise painter.

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Yes. I came to watch graffiti artists. Some day I want to try that. Or learn how to do it. I have this garage door. I swear I’ll paint it some day. In my spare time. Here was the commemorative glass…

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True, I think. Well. And a sketchbook and a good black pen. Yes. They carded us. We laughed hysterically.

My afternoon yesterday was spent at a fiber meeting, which is where all the new scary deadlines came from…they’re only scary because I’m already overwhelmed, but I’ll figure it out. I did some soul searching last night (OK, it was early this morning, and then I couldn’t sleep, but whatever. Don’t judge.) and I have some plans in place. They don’t involve sitting around and moping about how much I have to do, but I might need more cookies to implement them. Seriously.

I forgot the jalapeno when I did the kamikaze shopping yesterday morning, knowing the girlchild would be cooking but wouldn’t be helping with the shopping. I always forget something, which you’d think would persuade her that she needs to come with me more often, but no.

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Then we came home after dinner and I eventually started sewing. Kitten saw a lizard tail briefly and then spent the next 45 minutes sitting there and watching for more. Kitten TV is very slow and boring.

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And I stitched more down. I have one arm mostly done, plus all of the torso below the boobs and the whole Earth thing. I have a little over 5 hours in, and today is a bit compromised because a friend is in town. It’s OK…I won’t be getting as much done as I wanted to by now, but it’s not the end of the world yet. And friend time is good time.

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I’ll figure it out. I have two other plans in motion right now, although some of it is just in my head (a perfectly reasonable place for it to be, if you ask me)…as I’m sitting here listening to RAIN. That ain’t gonna last. But it’s way better than the alternative.


We’ll See How It Goes…

July 23, 2016

So I almost quit quilting yesterday. Like completely. Like the day got so frustrating (and I’m thinking 105-degree temperatures weren’t helping) that I couldn’t see being a quilter any more. Which is funny, because I got the whole quilt ironed down and I think it looks pretty good…so that’s just lame. But I was so frustrated with machines. And electricity. And motors.

So my machine was acting up a couple of weeks ago, and I just took it in this week to be cleaned (late…I usually do it once a year, and I was about four months late). I told him about the issue, and he determined the drive belt was loose and tightened it, no problem. I picked it up Wednesday.

So I finished ironing the hair yesterday morning…

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And then I had to piece the background…so I set everything up, ironed the fabric, and sat down to sew…and I got about 10 inches down the seam, and the needle froze and vibrated again, just like last time. Fucker. Dammit. I stared at it for a while (brain works slow in heat). Restarted everything, and it sewed the rest of the seam. Damn. What am I going to do? I know I want to sew for hours over the weekend, but I’m not going to be able to if it keeps doing that. I don’t want to wait until Monday for him to try to fix it, so I call. How fast can you be there? Fifteen minutes.

Well of course we can’t reproduce it…probably because he has air conditioning and I don’t. But he says he’ll work on it later, after the AC goes off, and see if he can get it to do it again. He does notice the fly wheel getting tighter, which is the other thing I told him.

So he keeps it. OK. I got this. Think about where you put the old machine. I checked one closet. Not there. Garage? Yeah probably. Takes about 10 minutes, but I find it. Bring it back up, plug it in, light works. Well that’s good. Then I spend 30 frustrating minutes trying to find and then put on the foot I use for quilting. It’s funny, because it really is only the last two minutes that count. I must have been doing it wrong the rest of the time. But just as I’m finishing up screwing the foot in, I hear crackling noises and smell burning plastic. Oh crap. I pull the plugs, but there’s already smoke coming out of the back of the machine. Killed it.

I did manage to iron the whole quilt together before I burned out the 6460.

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Bloody hell. Machine circa 1977, used to be my workhorse of choice until about three or four years ago. I think only the girlchild has used it in those years. Burned it out. Don’t even know how or why. So I sit there, smelling plastic fumes for about 10 minutes.

Call mom. Mom has machines. So she offers me a Pfaff, but has no free-motion foot. Maybe the Viking foot will work? Nope. Call Jimmy, and he says nope (Jimmy’s the sewing machine guy). Mom says she’s bringing over her Epic. Well that’s what the girlchild and Simba have to say about that…

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So this thing is a beast. But it has a lovely large harp (the space between the needle and the right side of the machine. Now I’m sure this is a lovely machine. She shows me how to thread it etc, but it’s got a computer glitch at the moment.

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It’s convinced that I have a straight-stitch plate in there, so it won’t let me zigzag. I need to zigzag. I really need to zigzag. It won’t let me zigzag unless I take the plate out and mess with the computer-y bits until it gets tricked into thinking that I switched the plate (I didn’t) so it can try to sew zigzag. But then if anything goes wrong (thread issue, whatever), it resets into straight-stitch-plate mode and I have to go through the whole remove-the-plate, fuck-with-the-computer-y-bits thing again until it wants to let me sew.

I do that seven times. And then I leave the room. I turn the lights out so I’m not wasting electricity, and I go sit in front of the fan on the couch and consider becoming a painter. Or a sculptor. Bronze I’m thinking. Or anything that doesn’t require electricity or a motor or thread or any of that shit.

Yeah. It was a frustrating day. So I pull the sketchbook out. If I can’t sew until I get my machine back, then I can draw the next quilt and get started on Wonder Under for it, right? Oh my. Sketchbook is evil and steals my brain (at this point, it’s after 8 PM and still over 90 degrees, and my brain is fried). I realize I already did this drawing and it’s pretty reasonable. It needs stuff and it’s small, but if I enlarge it, I think I can make it work.

I go to Fed Ex at 8:57 PM. Boychild is a little surprised, but hey, this is how I roll. Fed Ex is delightfully air-conditioned. I should admit that I had problems with the damn copy machine too…it wouldn’t fucking GO a few times until I banged on the Start button about 7 times. Maybe I should stay away from technology completely.

I copy the original at 300% (it was pretty small to start)…but when I get home, I can’t handle anything until I have some tea (I realize in the heat that I wasn’t drinking caffeine, and that would explain the headache) and a big glass of water. Then my brain wanders back and admits it can tape stuff together. So I do that.

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I also email a friend of mine who has the same machine I do. My original. She also has a 6460, but I don’t want to kill another one of those. She’s not sewing much, and I pick it up from her this morning. So. (Kathy looks up at the Goddess…yo! Hey! Can I have a high 5 or something? I troubleshot. I improvised. I used all my resources. I did not give up and move into a convent. Can the rest be trouble-free please? Seriously?)

We’ll see how it goes. I have hope.


Close to Done But Not Really

July 22, 2016

Well. It’s official. I thought about school. I ordered the folders my kids use for science notebooks during the year. I keep thinking I’ll be able to get away from paper, but we notice that kids still need to put pencil on paper in order to learn. Technology is incredibly useful, but it’s not the only thing they need. Just the process of copying something by hand from one place to another is much more of a learning process than cutting and pasting…a practice we fight all year round.

But now I can ignore school for another week…seriously, that’s it. Fuck. OK. It’s all right. No worries. I can do this.

I really wanted to be done with ironing yesterday, and surely, if it hadn’t been near on 100 degrees, maybe I could have pulled that off, but I needed a long session in front of the fan to cool off. Yes, there’s a fan in the studio, but it has to be lower than the ironing board, so it doesn’t blow pieces everywhere (I did briefly consider a ceiling fan in here, until I thought about pieces flying about in a tornado-like motion), and for some reason, that’s not good enough. Plus with the light on (I always say I’m going to replace the light, but it’s money and it still works and the bit of Grandma that’s still in me is saving tin foil and rubberbands, and won’t replace a light fixture until the old one dies), it’s really warm in here. Ugh.

That said, I ironed for almost 6 1/2 hours yesterday. This thing is a time-sucking beast. I’m at almost 29 hours…only one other quilt took longer than this to iron together, and this one is gonna beat it. It’s the tiny, fussy details I think. Or I’m just slow this summer. Who knows.

So I ironed a bunch of flowers and a bat and a snake’s tail.

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An elbow with some leaves (which I had to pull up to insert a vein later…

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Meanwhile, there was no possibility of typing with a cat tail on the keyboard…

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The cat is hot. Because it’s hot here. And I can’t even imagine having fur in this heat.

So I had the whole thing on there as I was ironing the arm, but it was just getting too big and hard to manage, so I pulled all of that off the teflon sheets and rolled it up. But you can get an idea of how big it’s gonna be. (Huge. It’s huge.)

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And this goes on the end of that arm.

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Finally to the head. The face.

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I haven’t lost a lot of pieces this time around, but this big one was missing, so I traced a new one on Wonder Under and pulled the fabric for it, unfolded it…and found the untrimmed piece shoved in there. What the heck? Crazy.

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So I got half the hair (and a giant fireball of a sun) done…it was almost 1 AM at that point and I was tired.

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So even though there were maybe only 50 pieces left, I quit. Because they weren’t 50 easy pieces. And I couldn’t stand up any more. So today, I’ll finish ironing together and then iron it onto the background…and then start stitching down! This is exciting…although probably 4 days later than I wanted to be. Oh well…it is what it is.

I did go to my stitching meeting yesterday, which is probably another reason I didn’t finish ironing…because it’s not portable at this stage…at all. So I worked on the second-to-last bird…and finished it.

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Only one to go. Then I can piece them all together and put the borders on and then spend the next year sewing things on the borders (I’m laughing about that). So yeah. Close to done, but not really. Much like many things here in my house. The thing is, I find that if I set smaller goals as part of a larger project, I’m less likely to flail and panic.

Anyway, I’m hoping to be sandwiching the new quilt on Sunday…which means I probably need to look at the batting stash. This sucker is gonna be huge. Plus I want to sandwich the other wool quilt I finished at the same time, so I only have to be kneeling on the tile for one day. Although at the moment, the tile might be the coolest place in the house. Ugh. Heat. If you come here and find me lying on the tile with the dogs, just spray me with water. I’ll pop back up.

And I really need to draw the next one. And do the nightstand. And do the baby owl! Ack.


Guess I’m Done…

July 21, 2016

Well it’s warm this morning. Shocking that summer would bring escalating temperatures. Yesterday I finished the chapter I was copyediting, went to the gym, came back and flailed for a bit, and then went to see Macbeth with the kids and the ex (one of those weird family traditions). So I got almost no ironing done. Which sucks. And I want to get it done today, but am not here in the afternoon…and this part of the project isn’t particularly portable. So. Yeah. Ugh.

The play was nice though…even though I prefer the comedies over the tragedies. Balboa Park was nicely lit, and full of Pokemon Go players…huddles and packs of young people following their phones around. Very amusing.

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Girlchild is photobombing the Organ Pavilion…although you can’t really see her…

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So I guess it was a break from the standard stuff I do. I came back and ironed, all after 11 PM, and I was already tired…so really, I just did a lung and a heart…

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I’m starting the 1500s this morning…have to shower first and think about what I’m taking to my sewing meeting, but otherwise, I can iron. And tonight is free for ironing. Although it’s hot. Did I mention hot? Hot and ironing are not a good combination…but I still want it done. I picked up my sewing machine yesterday, all fixed and clean. It was a drive belt issue…he tightened it right up as part of the yearly service, so no extra charge. I was sorta terrified it would be some huge expensive thang. So that’s good. And she’s ready to sew…I probably am too.

Not that I don’t like this part of the quilt process…it’s cool seeing all the bits and pieces come together into one big picture. But I’ve been ironing this thing for hours. It’s time to quilt for hours. I guess I have to stitch down first, but that will be a day or two…not a week, like the quilting. I have a break before I get the next chapter. Need to use it wisely.

Simba is the fluff eater. If there’s fluff on the floor, he eats it. Kinda gross…but since some of it is his fur? I dunno.

Girlchild was trying to Snapchat with him yesterday, but he’s not always ready for a photo opportunity…so she got this…

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Best photo ever of the two of them…

Workers next door doing a lot of yelling back and forth. No music though…I guess they just turn it on when I turn MINE on, which I do to drown THEM out. Meanwhile, I consider what trees I can plant to block more of my view of that house. Sigh. Previous owners were much quieter.

OK, Kitten is on the keyboard and the mousepad, and just put her head on the mouse. Guess I’m done.


If I Did Nothing Else…

July 20, 2016

If you’re a quilter and you hang out on the web (which presumably you must, since you’re here), you’ve probably heard that Quilters Newsletter Magazine is closing up shop. I’m not a traditional quilter (you may have figured that out), but have a special place in my heart for QNM, because in the beginning, they were one of the only fiber magazines that would publish my work, because of the nudity. And they had my back…multiple letters would pop up in the letters section about my work being inappropriate, and then they would post even more letters about how it’s art and really? Seriously? Quilting Arts won’t publish nudity. There’s a few others as well. Fiber Arts Now published one of my pieces last year, and the SAQA magazine has shown one of mine (as part of an article about curating a show), and Textile Fibre Forum recently published some pieces of mine as well, ironically in an article about censorship, so maybe the world is coming around. But QNM, bastion of traditional quiltmaking, was the first. So thanks to them. And I’m sorry they’re gone.

I ironed like a beast yesterday. Really there were other things I should have done, but I just allowed the word IRON into my head most of the day, so that’s all I did. I’m hoping to pick up my machine today (although they haven’t called), so I want to be done soon. Well. It’s not going to be SOON, because even though I put in almost 6 hours of ironing yesterday, I’m still only in the 1300s…so I have about 600 pieces to go. But I’m getting there!

By the way, the bug from yesterday was a tarantula hawk…second most painful sting in the world. For three minutes. Then you’re fine. You just scream for the whole three minutes apparently. Good to know. AVOID.

So I finished the crane…

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Kitten sleeping away…

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And then ironed the arm in there, with the body as well…

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Seaweed behind the crane…

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It was long and skinny and fit into that space…

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An octopus…because they’re cool…

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He goes on the shoulder, a transition between land of the the torso and water of the head…

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Then I took a break and had dinner, watched a movie, and finished this bird…only two left to do.

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Came back to the ironing room and did a cactus…

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Which belongs there…oooh…forgot about the grass above…

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My setup…the cat moved, because she doesn’t really like the fan on her. And it’s hot, so the fan has to be on. I’m watching Person of Interest at the moment. I bingewatch shows while ironing.

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Late at night, finishing a tiger with a lung above it. I can’t put the whole artery down, because stuff needs to go under it.

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Everything fit into the space! A miracle. The other breast is a cat much like Kitten, plus a bunch of flowers on a vine…

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I didn’t get all the way done with the other breast. It was closing in on 1 AM at that point, and there was a lung and a heart (not difficult) plus a bunch more viney bits and flowers (more difficult), so I quit. So the rest of that section, plus the snake arm, and then the head. And I’m done. Here’s everything I did yesterday…

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A significant chunk. To be done, I’d have to do the same today, and since I’m going to the gym and there’s Shakespeare tonight, that’s unlikely to happen. Oh well. But close! I’m close! Then iron it to the background, stitch it down, sandwich, and quilt. Because that’s not like 50 hours right there. If I did nothing else, I could be done by next week. Except yeah. I can’t do nothing else.

Anyway. I like to see progress. And that I see.


Easier Said Than Done

July 19, 2016

Yesterday was somewhat disappointing in the art arena, but I did finish the first major run through the chapter I’m copyediting. I can sense the author’s attention to detail waning in later chapters. That’s always the way it is, right? It might be why I haven’t yet finished writing the sci fi novel I started a few years back…I’m not sure exactly how to end it. And I don’t want it to flail at the end. I’m sure there’s a way to deal with that, but I don’t see having the spare time to do so in the next year. Maybe that will change.

I also dropped off my sewing machine for cleaning and fixing, so hopefully that will be quick and easy, and I can pick her up tomorrow. I’m not going to be done ironing by then though. I suspect. Although I guess I might be surprised. If last night is any indicator of how I’ll be working today, though, there isn’t a lot of hope of finishing today. Maybe with tomorrow as well. I don’t know…I haven’t been doing a great job of getting work done during the day…whether it’s the heat or too much other stuff going on…I can feel summer slipping away and it’s kind of stressing me out.

All the more reason to go on hikes with the kids, though, because they’ll be gone soon enough. So I’ve never hiked the Fortunas in Missions Trails Regional Park. I heard horror stories about stairs (and I’m still not sure where those are…and honestly, I’m OK with that), but I figured I could try South Fortuna. Unfortunately, the park closes at sunset (I really don’t understand all the parks that close early in summer…it’s too hot until after 6 to be doing this), so we had to start hiking at 4:30 to make sure we’d get out in time. As it was, we had an extra hour (well, unless you believed the parking lot we were in, which said 7 PM, but was chock full when we got back there right about 7), so we could have gone a bit later…maybe parked out on the street, like other people were.

The hike starts out nicely enough near the Old Mission Dam and through Oak Canyon, but pretty soon, we were out in hot and dry…

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There were a few trees in the beginning.

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This bug was amazingly colored…bright blue and orange.

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And then after about a mile and a half, we start up this. It’s not too bad to start, but it’s hot and dry. So I rest when I get dizzy from lack of oxygen. It’s half a mile and probably most of the 900-foot gain this hike claims. Girlchild is up there, then the boy, and then some other guy, who got passed by the boychild. Long legs and youth help on these things. Unfortunately the girlchild had a muscle issue, so she was in pain. But she wouldn’t stop or take meds.

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I forgot my poles. They would have been useful on the way back down. Here I looked back down. It never looks as bad in photos as it feels going up it.

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In this picture, the top of the hill is right below where the transmission towers are. This is facing North Fortuna, which we didn’t do…but you can see the trail for it winding up.

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The actual summit of South Fortuna is pretty low-key. Just this sign…

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And facing south, there’s Pyles Peak and Cowles Mountain…which we’ve done multiple times.

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Girlchild is truly irritated and in pain, so she’s throwing rocks. The trail continues south, but we weren’t sure how far, so we went back the way we came.

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I saw one of these bushes last time, with the feathers, but didn’t photograph it well…

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And a blurry picture of a rattlesnake disappearing into the brush. Not a young one…nice long rattle at the end.

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It was just under 6 miles and plenty hot, but we did it. I can’t seem to beat the heel blister this summer. I’m really frustrated about it. I’d blame the boots, but I wore them for three months with no problems. Blisters suck.

After dinner (which I made in the afternoon, like a smart woman…see, I do learn from experience), I flailed for a while, because the thought of standing and ironing was daunting, but I eventually overcame it and started ironing…a pine branch for an arm…

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And the fingers beyond it. All this will be better delineated once it’s quilted.

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And then I had hoped to get the whole crane ironed last night, but my SIL called after the 21 Pilots concert, and I talked to her and my nephew, who is kind of a crack-up. And after that, it was midnight plus, so I went to bed. Crane half done…

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It’s hard to see on a white background anyway.

So I have both arms and the upper torso and the head to do. Quite a lot, really, although I’ve now passed the halfway mark in the pieces…just started the 1100s. I have just under 16 hours into this. I think I guessed 24 hours? Or 26? Can’t remember. Probably closer to the latter. Although at some point, the pieces get bigger, so they’ll be easier to iron. An equivalent quilt from last year took 27 hours plus to iron together, so that’s a good estimate. If there’s another 11 hours, I’d have to do a serious chunk today and tomorrow to be done. It’s not like it’s impossible. I just need to get my act together (wake up!) and do it.

Easier said than done. Last run through on the chapter? Then iron. Maybe. Yeah. Do it.


Words First

July 18, 2016

Mondays are hard, even when you’re supposedly on vacation. Maybe it’s because the weekend brings all this hope of getting stuff done AND enjoying yourself and Mondays just feel like the day you have to work. And I do! I usually am copyediting on Mondays because I took the weekend off. So maybe that Monday feeling is my fault. I need to do the words first because they actually take more mental energy. Then I can do the art.

I redid the calendar on the fridge yesterday and realized that school is only four weeks away, but also, the girlchild is leaving before I even start school. And the boychild leaves less than a week after that. It’s certainly easier with other people in the house. Plus they entertain the puppy. I’m not looking forward to the exodus.

I ironed most of Saturday, over 4 hours…so I’m at 13 hours and 40 minutes so far. My sewing machine goes into the shop today, pick up on Wednesday…I don’t know if I’ll be done with the ironing Wednesday, because I have to copyedit today, plus we’re gonna hike. So those are kind of time sucks.

I started Saturday morning with the giraffe on the right…I think he started out in the 400s.

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I finished the giraffe and went on to do grapes and grape leaves…it’s fussy in here, because the ribs go over some stuff and under some stuff. Which is my own crazy.

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When I’m drawing, I don’t think about HOW it will get made, whether it will be a pain or not. When I was drawing all this earth-related stuff, I drew a homeless woman in there. Because she seemed like something an Earth Mother should be paying attention to…carrying close to her.

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She’s tiny, but she’s in there. With her shopping cart. The homeless population in San Diego and El Cajon has always been there…but lately it seems like we aren’t really helping them. Can we house all of them? I’d like to think we could house those who wanted it. I know a few don’t, but most of them do. But instead we do sweeps and tear their camps down, and we put up sharp rocks so they can’t sleep there or even sit there, and we carry all this fear about them. I’m sure they carry fear too.

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Then Saturday night, I went to the Visions opening and to watch a band in Pacific Beach…I got to see the sun go down at the pier.

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It was quite pretty out there, which makes up for the fact that most of PB smells like vomit and pee.

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Sunday was busy…Calli got to run after the ball a lot, which made her hot.

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Grandpa got gnawed on by Simba.

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And then I kept ironing…butterflies, cocoons, and poppies…

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A gecko…he was fun.

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And sometime after midnight, this happened. Because playing with the puppy after midnight means he might sleep through the night. Maybe. Actually, he was asleep, but we were trying to deal with a giant fur matt in his nether regions, and he woke up vicious and bitey. Both kids are involved…you just can’t see the boychild except in the shadow. If you throw balls down the hallway long enough, puppies get tired.

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While all that was going on, I was finishing the left side, ironing passionflowers, like you do.

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Luckily that whole piece ironed easily onto the flesh background, so that’s the lower torso done. Next is the arm that bisects that…and I’m now in the 900s. Still not halfway, sadly. Close! But not quite.

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Here’s a closeup of what I was doing most of Saturday and Sunday.

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It’s really not a huge area of the quilt, but there are a lot of pieces and details.

In the last Earth Mother, I wasn’t allowed to do any nudity or politics. I’ve obviously blown that off this time. Although the nudity isn’t really a huge deal. Someone asked me what this one was FOR. It’s for…well…I just needed to do it. So I did.

Anyway, I probably won’t get to iron more until tonight, and I’ll be tired from hiking. Oh well.

Kitten is still living under the ironing board, playing with the strings…

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It’s been hot, so that fur-free belly is probably a good thing. OK. Back to work with words. Then maybe I’ll get to the fabric.


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