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


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.


War! What Is It Good for?

August 10, 2017

I was not very efficient yesterday. It’s OK. It happens. We can’t always go go go every minute of every day. I wanted to be done quilting, and I’m not. I need to go buy binding today though. I’m done with the outlining and I started the background stuff. I don’t expect it to take very long…

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She has eyeballs! So I’m gonna finish that today and go get the binding fabric. Which means now I have to finish the other drawing. The drawing that has not fully coalesced in my head. The drawing that needs to come from somewhere difficult. Sigh. OK. So I need to find mental space for that. In between starting school and trying to finish up the bedroom and sending the boychild back to college. Hmmmm. OK. Yeah.

Drawing sounds nice actually. Sitting on the deck with some tea or wine and drawing. Music playing while the neighbor kids scream their tiny little guts out (oh wait). Turning the music up and making sure it has lots of swear words in it (I don’t actually do that…I just think about doing it.). Getting out the flamethrower…oh wait. Also not appropriate.

Right now I’m sitting here, reveling in the bird sounds, the sound of faraway dogs barking, the sound of my pool needing to have the filter cleaned. Aargh.

OK, I did some stitches around the hand, in between some of the buttonhole spiky bits. And lazy daisies in purple…still filling those in.

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And then I went to book club to discuss a book I didn’t finish. And they forgot to bring my food. It was interesting though…I think of war as a distinctly male thing…even when we’re talking about the queens in the past who have started wars, I kind of think their upbringing was distinctly male in some ways, to make sure they would react that way if needed, or maybe they weren’t really allowed to make decisions without approval by all these men around them. Or they were raised to be leaders of a country and that meant they should automatically consider war, no matter what. Or they are just anomalies.

I have this picture in my head of a world run by women where the first thing we do is NOT bomb the shit out of people. And maybe that’s just my age showing, because the younger members of the book club were arguing that it is not just a male thing, that women want war all the time too (I don’t know any of these women…but I don’t know a lot of men who want war either…product of my choice in friends I think.). I also blame religion for wars personally, or at least for this feeling that something needs to be other and other needs to be bad. But maybe that’s just human nature, a leftover of the brain aiming for survival. I think of wars as being pissing matches, this power against that power, and that feels very masculine to me, very testosterone-driven. If I were male, would I feel more warlike? Maybe not. I know men who aren’t. Did women-run societies run toward war? See the queens might have been in charge, but those weren’t female-run societies in the long run. So you do what you need to do to survive?

Anyway. As we sit here on the West Coast with two male dumbasses waving their peni at each other and us in the middle, it’s hard for me not to associate war and powermongering with a certain type of person.

Honestly though, that’s not helping me get through what I want to get through today. So I’ll think about my assumptions and maybe read some stuff and try to keep an open mind. While I build a bomb shelter in the backyard. That’s a drawing right there. Aack! Don’t have time for all this in my head…OK. I liked. I just went and bought a book on war and gender. Light reading for the back-to-school set.

Now let’s go back in time to 2004, when the girlchild was only 7, and consider the fact that she is now 20…

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And she’s still always hanging out with dogs…miss that kid.


This Could Be the End of Everything*

August 8, 2017

Ugh. Get act together. Mornings are hard. Yeah, I know it’s not early. I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing. Straight up, I’m not entirely sure WHAT I’ve been doing, so don’t ask me. There were maps and trails and boychild took over the mousing, and the girlchild called briefly, and there were dogs and cats and all that. Sometimes I think time just does a slippy thing and wanders away from me. Like when I’m quilting and I look up at the clock and go Holy Fuck. Gotta go to bed. But then I lie there and can’t sleep. Welcome to my world. Maybe I should have just quilted all night.

No, you know how with daylight savings time, they always tell you to adjust slowly over the next week, getting up a little earlier every morning so the day of isn’t a shock to your system? Yeah, well, I always try to do that with school too. I don’t like mornings and I stay up way too late normally, and during summer break, I stay up even later, but Friday I have to be at school before 8 AM, which is earlier than we actually start, but they key everything into the elementary schools, which start earlier than the middle schools. And there’s gonna be massive parking issues, because our lot is closed and there isn’t enough parking, so I don’t even wanna deal with that…to the tune of my considering riding a bike or walking to school (OK, it would take close to an hour to do that). Blaargh.

Anyway. Mornings. Nonfunctional. Not efficient at all. Art brain is completely offline. Seriously, do you ever hear me talking about drawing in the morning or making anything useful but a cup of tea in the AM? Fuck no. All you perky morning people, please just stay away from me. Until cup of tea number 2.

I did a bunch of stuff yesterday. Some of it was final shit on the garage. I’m calling it done, even though there’s a file cabinet and some storage stuff that needs to be managed. Boychild and I made another trip to the parental dumpster (no, they really have a dumpster…I don’t just drop shit at their house), plus I sold another thing on Craigslist and then did some stuff, including school shopping and dog food and the library, because ALL the books you’ve had on hold for 17 months WILL SHOW UP THE WEEK BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS. It happens every year. I might have to give up on one of them. I’m desperately trying to read the book for tomorrow night’s book club. I don’t think there’s an Audible version of The Left Hand of Darkness. Oh god. There probably is. I don’t Audible though. I stop paying attention when someone is reading to me.

So dinner was late. Dinner is often late in these circumstances. There also were a lot of animals lying around pretending to be very hot and tired.

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That eyeball…

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I did quilt in the afternoon for a bit. Not much.

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I started legs and stuff…

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Garage before we started. That’s solid crap in the center section, taller than me. It’s been like that for years. The boychild has been complaining about it for years as well. It was just so incredibly overwhelming. I couldn’t even deal. So with his help, we did it.

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Now I should have taken one after this one…because the pile of storage stuff in the middle is piled up elsewhere, and the school stuff on the right and behind is all in my car, to be delivered to school this morning. So the whole center is pretty much empty. For now. There’s another shelf thing being delivered on Thursday from one of my parents’ rentals. There are a few empty shelves in there, but maybe not enough.

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I haven’t fully solved the art storage issue, but it’s all up off the ground and out of my closets. I was a screenprinter before I became a quilt artist. Much harder to store that stuff. And there’s so much of it…

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And that big table is available for screenprinting if I decide to go back to that. I might. I liked it.

No. I’m not putting a car in there. That’s just silly.

More little stitches, mostly French knots, in the feather stitching up top.

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Then back to the machine…cat giving me the Other Eye this time.

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And more quilting…

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It’s very meditative…even all the little windows…

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I got to the top of the rocky crotch. It was close to midnight thirty then, so I quit.

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I was wide awake, but see note above about trying to shift sleep cycle for school. Ha! So I did all the legs…I’m definitely past the midpoint on outlining…

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That was all after dinner. Of course, there’s all the background stuff, which will take some time. So I’m hoping to do another 3 or 4 hours today, but that means I need to get out of here and do the stuff that needs doing…delivery to school, plus thrift shop again and smog the car. Hopefully. I don’t FEEL like doing any of that. I don’t even want to go NEAR school, but I have to get this shit out of my car somehow. And please don’t ask me about the bedroom…I’m definitely stalled on that. The deadline for that is a little ways out (OK, really only about 2 weeks), so it’s easier to ignore it, I guess. I knew with the garage that once school started I might not go in there for a while, and I didn’t want the art down on the ground if rain started.

OK. Get it done. That’s my plan for the day.

*Keane, Somewhere Only We Know