The Dew Will Settle on Our Graves*

February 21, 2018

‘Tis chilly here in sunny San Diego…some random cold front making it colder than Ithaca, NY, where the boychild is, but probably just for today. I’m pretty sure that will change soon enough. Cold enough to make me a dog sandwich on the couch, a cat sandwich in bed, though. Amazing how close they’ll get when it’s really chilly.

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Yes, I actually cut stuff out with the two of them like that. It wasn’t easy. I’m used to one box on either side of me and one on my lap. Instead the boxes were precariously perched on either side of dogs who move erratically.

Earlier, I graded…because that’s all I ever do…and this one was already half in my spot. She didn’t move until bedtime.

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It was a frustrating day at school. Independent thinking is probably not best achieved on the first day back after a three-day weekend. I still remember what happened Friday, but not so my little chickadees. And even once I got them through a review, then I wanted them to come up with categories. Oh My Goodness. You’d think I had asked them to cure cancer. In my top class, chock full of honors students, I got one table with three categories: True, False, and IDK. Um. Ladies. They’re all true. LAME. It’s OK…today they will have to use what they did to make more sense of the world. I’m just damn cruel that way.

So yeah, I graded because grades are due soon and I know I will run out of time. I always do.

But I also was done with grading and dinner and all that dishery (I even cleaned a bathroom…just one and not the floor) around 9:30 PM or so and I did a few drawings in between cutting out the last of the pieces.

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I like this one better…of course…because it’s weirder.

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I did about 2 hours of trimming last night to finish up everything…with a total of 9 1/2 hours into the process. Box on top is the trash. I’m putting it in a ziplock bag with the trimmings from the LAST quilt and mailing them to someone whose address I saved (seriously, I did…). Box on the bottom will get sorted into bins tonight for ironing probably tomorrow night.

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I have book club tonight, so I will go out and socialize with my tribe. Plus I read the book. So that’s a plus.

Girlchild has some access to Messenger this week, although she is back to camping in the wilds of Madagascar. On the beach. Near a hotel. Where no one likes to go.

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It looks somewhat like my Spring Break trip to the redwoods last year…except the trees are smaller.

She’s really enjoying this. I’m really glad.

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They seem to take care of the kids…unlike my group when I went abroad in college, which flew me to London and kept me there for about 3 days, but then sent me off to the wilds of Aberystwyth with zero support…although I think they gave us Thanksgiving dinner…that’s something. I guess we were less likely to die of a nasty disease in Wales. And they apparently spoke English there, although some days that was questionable.

Anyway, today I throw cellular respiration into the mix. That should make smoothies of my students’ brains. It’s OK…they’ll survive. I might not.

*Tom Waits, All the World Is Green

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It Shines Like Destruction*

February 20, 2018

It’s interesting how I can get most of my to-do tasks done, except the cleaning ones. Those just suck and I suck at doing them. I just can’t get motivated to clean the kitchen floor. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t throw parties…I’d have to clean floors for that. I did clean the kitchen counters last night…and the stove, so I guess it’s not hopeless. I just reach an ending point on cleaning, and it’s never when everything is clean. I’d rather draw or something…anything else.

The project videos are done. It’s a miracle. I have plenty of other crap to grade, of course, but those are out of my hair. Next week, I get all of Unit 4, which will have to be graded in 6 days. And people wonder why I’m not going to a bunch of social stuff on the weekends. I did about 12 hours of grading this weekend, maybe more. Ugh.

No more 3-day weekends, which help with balance. Five weeks until Spring Break though. I can do that.

Sometimes school seems really heavy and hard. It’s usually right about now.

So add on hikes and art and whatever else makes the head rise above the slog…because I still have to go back every day and teach difficult subjects to kids who don’t necessarily want to learn. Labs help to keep them engaged, but it’s nothing if they don’t get understanding out of the labs…so we’ll see how that goes.

But yes, we walked the puppy yesterday…he needs exercise, and so do we…

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It was a gorgeous but chilly day. Good day for a hike.

Then I came back and finished up as much of my to-do list as I could…and in between cutting out pieces of the new quilt, I did some smaller drawings that could be quilts…

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I don’t really like all of them. And I have absolutely no time to make them, even more importantly.

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I realized last night that I have five openings in the next month…two in Los Angeles. It’s gonna get a little crazy around here.

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And grades are due for Trimester 2. I like this one…

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I needed those breaks, because I trimmed pieces for about 4 1/2 hours yesterday. My hands get tight…

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But I don’t think you can tell from here (trash top, to-be-cut in the middle, cut in the bottom)…I’m almost done. Like maybe an hour or two from finishing…with about 7 hours in. So that’s cool. It means I should be ironing together this week. My favorite part…where the image finally starts to appear (besides in my head). I hit the halfway mark on most quilts (on time) some time around finishing the trimming and starting the ironing. Although I need to be faster on this half, for sure. Keeping that in mind.

Meanwhile, back to school today, hammering the photosynthesis chemical reaction (which hopefully they’re getting by now), so I can throw cellular respiration at them next. Then tonight, I can cut out the rest of the pieces hopefully…

*Eurythmics, Love Is a Stranger


Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night*

February 19, 2018

I’m sitting in here, in my studio/office, listening to the rhythmic sounds of the septic pumper truck outside my window…once every 4 years, whether you need it or not? I don’t like waiting until there is a problem. Last time, we had to replace the whole septic field, so that was fun. Anyway, it means I’m trapped here for a bit (ironic that, because honestly, on the average weekend, I don’t leave the house much anyway, except for crazy errands etc. and the occasional meal). I have a bunch of schoolwork to do still, even after 4 hours yesterday of grading another period of project videos, plus 62 emails of makeup work. Done! All of it! Well, I still have more to do. It’s never-ending.

While I was working yesterday, Satchemo came in and investigated one of the cat hiding places in my office…this one will disappear in my remodeling plan, unfortunately for the cats.

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Then I headed out for the deck, because yesterday still bordered on warm enough (today is not…unless you live back east and you’re used to much colder than this.). Simba agreed and laid out on the deck with me…

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I tried another version of the drawing…

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And got somewhere this time…a much better start. Still needs more, and yes, I had to break out the liquid paper, because the lines weren’t going where I wanted them to go. It happens.

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Although now I’m annoyed that both figures are turned the same way. There’s a third figure that I think will fix that, and then I’ll draw off the bottom as well. I think it’ll be fine. If not, I’ll flip the skelly.

Back to the studio, where Kitten has picked her new sitting spot…

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Yes, Kitten, that IS why I put the fabric in those boxes.

Somewhere in there is when I graded for 4 hours. It was quiet and frustrating and I had to get up and stomp around the house a few times and hallelujah I’m almost done with that.

I had enlarged the drawing I did last week…200%. I didn’t want something too big. There’s a deadline I honestly don’t know if I can make. But here it’s taped together…

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And then I numbered it…hey…not too bad.

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There’s some tiny stuff, but not too much of it.

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And then I cut stuff out on the scoliosis for a few more hours. It’s slow…but it’s going…

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Time for art, time for work. Today is similarly planned…one last class of project videos, plus finishing up another assignment and inputting some of those grades, so kids can be happy or despondent. Seriously they should already know which based on what they did or didn’t turn in, but apparently that level of self-review is not fully developed yet. I think they hope for magic sometimes. I mean, sure, I blew off the video and half the pages are blank, but maybe she won’t notice?

I noticed. Anyway. It is what it is. Trimester 2 is notoriously bad for our kids. The number of holidays? Spring messing with their hormones? It’s hard to say.

With that, I am hoping the pump-truck guys are near to done so I can get my own shit done (ha ha…see how I did that? Shit? Yeah. OK.). Art, work, food, sleep. I want a dog walk today too. I bet the dog would go along with that.

*Sarah McLachlan, Blackbird (yeah, the Beatles song)


I Am Superman and I Can Do Anything*

February 18, 2018

Well I finally managed drawing on the deck on a sunny day. As opposed to drawing on the deck on a rainy day? That would actually be harder to do with the weather we have. I’m going to try again today, because it was nice. Duh. Of course it was nice.

If you are back East or anywhere else it’s snowing, I’m sorry. You’re thinking, seriously Nida? Why CAN’T you get your butt outside on a gorgeous day and soak in some of this obviously Southern California (those aren’t my palm trees) wondrousness?

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And the answer is, I don’t know. I have my weekly journal there, my sketchbook, a pile of art proposals that are coming up, the inevitable cup of tea? Perfect. Enough sun to warm my feet…bare feet. Yup. In February.

So I did this and rejected it…although there are things that might pop up elsewhere.

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Sometimes I just have to move the pen around on paper until better ideas pop in.

So I started another one, which might stick. It has some issues.

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That lower hand, for instance. I know where I’m going with this though, so it wouldn’t hurt to either start again or enlarge this and cut that crappy hand out and do another one. I think this might work.

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In the middle of all this drawing, I sold a quilt…a small one, but that’s money. That’s the grocery money this week and next. That’s a cushion I didn’t have when I wrote my post yesterday morning. That’s a deep breath.

I appreciate that. So that quilt will be winging its way (ha! It’s a bird) to Colorado on Tuesday. If the post office stays open late enough and I can book out of tutoring on time.

Then I came inside and graded more projects and videos. This was my second smallest class. I was going to do both the small classes at once, but after I got through this period and an entire video of one of the kids in the class yelling out “My ass itches” while the kid doing the video tried to keep it together (oh man, that other kid is in BIG TROUBLE on Tuesday…), I couldn’t bring myself to do another 16 of them.

Plus Kitten was being a pain in the butt. That tail was flicking at me the whole time.

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Two periods left to do. I’m doing the big one today. I might need mental assistance afterwards, but it will be done.

Then I started cutting tiny bone pieces out…

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After dinner out and a visit to a local brewery, we came back and I tried to video chat with the girlchild. Apparently they could hear everything I said, but she sounded like she was in a metal drum and syncopated. SIGH. It’s OK. I saw she was alive…good thing, because she leaves tomorrow for 5 days. It’s OK. I’m doing fine. Sometimes I get sad and miss my kids, and that’s OK. It would be weird if I didn’t.

So then after that, I cut more pieces out. The top one is the trash, the middle one is actual quilt pieces, and the bottom is what still needs cutting…which is a lot.

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But a lot of that is big pieces…all the details were on top, mostly, the last stuff I ironed down.

Girlchild did finally gt a picture of herself in the beach paradise of Antalaha, where she’s based for a lot of her stay…

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Look! She’s alive! And also barefoot in the sun (huh…well…genetics). We should maybe feel sorry for the boychild for being in New York right now in the snow and cold (or not…he chose that).

Today? I’m going to sit outside again. Really. I am. And I’m going to torture myself with more project videos. And I’m going to cut more things out. Really, just like yesterday, minus dinner out. And it’s Sunday. Which means I need to send the parent email for school. But otherwise, I have tomorrow off as well? So I can kinda be relaxed and sort of pretend my job doesn’t inhabit my entire life today, yeah? Maybe? Gonna try.

*R.E.M., Superman


When You Only Got a Hundred Years to Live*

February 17, 2018

Hello Saturday morning. You started a little earlier than I wanted (whiny animals), but you’re bright and sunny with wispy white clouds flitting across. And at the moment, you don’t have a whole lot of stuff muddying those blue skies in your head. A hope for drawing time. Realization that you will have to grade some shit. Hunger, but no desire to cook. A long to-do list, but doable with three days off. That’s the real issue. If I had a 3-day weekend every week, maybe I could keep up? Well no, you know the work would just expand to try to fill it. But today? Today I want to go buy some dirt and plants. It’s warm and I want to plant some stuff. It’s Spring here (well, sort of). There’s this nursery that’s a ways out, but it has a million plants. It’s where I got my Christmas tree, the one that’s currently living on my deck. But then I remember I have no money, literally nothing for the rest of the month (well, I’m working on that…I almost took on a huge copyediting job, but then the reality of WHEN I would do that. Ha! No. Not happening.). SIGH.

It’s OK. I got this. This is like when I was a freelancer and would have no money for months and then one month, I’d get ALL OF IT. I’m waiting on a retro pay check from work, plus some other stuff. It would help. Meanwhile, all the bills for kids are due. Sometimes it’s scary how close to going under I am. STILL. After being divorced for how many years? I make decent money. I don’t know how some families do it. (They don’t send their kids to college and help them. I know.)

Anyway, I got this. I do.

I’ll hold off on the gardening. I can draw for free.

Last night, I graded the second period of videos and projects.

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Simba helped. I’ve done the two biggest classes…I’m hoping to do the two smallest today, then the last class tomorrow.

Simba wants to play a lot. He’s looking traumatized here. He’s not.

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After dinner, I managed to get in here and finish the ironing. There’s a line of leaves in number order, so I can pick the fabrics for each one. Yeah, they overlap, so they can’t all be the same color.

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I am that crazy.

I went through my pile of gray/black crazy-quilt fabrics from a million years ago to find a 3rd metallic fabric…I realized I needed a darker one.

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These are fussy fabrics. I’m going to have to be careful with ironing them. But they should turn out cool…hopefully.

Then the last thing I ironed was the bones of her back, where she had the surgery…lots of little bone pieces…might be the most important part of the quilt.

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Here’s all the fabrics I used…although I’m still waiting on the iris color for her eyes. That’s 115 different fabrics…

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It’s a lot…but it will be worth it. Now comes the cutting out…pick a show and binge watch it…it took 11 hours and 39 minutes to iron everything down. That’s kind of a long time, but not horrendous.

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Probably it will be 5 or 6 hours to cut all these out. So I could finish this weekend…and then start ironing the quilt together? This is coming together quickly. I guess it’s not huge, is it? I’m debating trying to finish another piece by early April…for me to pull that off, I’d need to finish this one early plus get all my grading done. Yeah. I don’t know that I can do all that AND go to work every day (tempting…I have a LOT of vacation days).

OK, some grading, maybe buy the dirt (I have stuff I can transplant), sit out on the sunny deck and draw for a bit, then start cutting this thing out. I can do that.

*Five for Fighting, 100 Years


Karma Police, Arrest This Man*

February 16, 2018

I didn’t write about the school shooting in Florida yesterday because I couldn’t deal with it. When I first saw the news, it was calling the 17 people injured, which changed later to dead. I had to read the headline 5 times until it sunk in, because before they were injured…now they were dead. Nothing has changed up top though. No one is listening. If you have a gun and you’re not using it to keep bears off your property or some other similar problem (no, that doesn’t count for immigrants or people of color, assholes…you don’t get to use them on people unless you’re a cop AND you have a really good reason that will hold up in court and it doesn’t have anything to do with shit you imagined was there or happening), then please give it up so we can send YOU our thoughts and prayers about how you will possibly be able to exist without your weapon, rather than how those 17 families will possibly be able to exist without their child or father or mother or whatever.

New work from Kathy Nida

I didn’t read any articles or watch any videos about it until last night (when I wrote this), when I had finished grading, because honestly, it’s the one thing that might make me leave teaching, the thought that some idiot might come on campus and kill a bunch of kids, even that the one idiot might be one of my ex-students, still irritated that they earned an F for doing no work. It’s not fear for me (although that is there), but fear that their anger would reach out to other people on campus, that other kids or adults would die because the kid was angry at me. It’s not just the dead bodies…it’s those you left behind filled with fear as well, fear to come to school, fear about the people around you.

At my first teaching job, 9 days in, that’s what happened. A kid brought a gun to school to kill the teacher who “gave” him an F. We don’t give Fs. You earn them. Just like some kids earn As, Bs, etc. And no, I don’t think the grades themselves are the problem. I think the problem is that often kids don’t see themselves as producers of anything. At some point, they will need to work. They need all the skills and practice they can get, but they need to put time into that. Right now, as I’m grading a major project that they had 9 days to complete, I’m seeing a lot of that inability to complete. The lack of connection from work product to grade. It’s frustrating. We need to teach them to think, but they also need to believe that thinking is important. And yes, it’s incredibly difficult sometimes to get a 12-year-old to care about that product if their own life has a significant amount of suckage or drama or if support is lacking.

So yeah, I guess if I’m going down in a blaze of gunfire, it will be either protecting my students from some dick with a gun or because I “gave” someone an F. That’s a motivator to inflate grades, I guess. Anyone ever think that one through? And then you have more kids applying to college who can’t read, write, or do math of any sort. Doesn’t look good on the job front. Honestly, they need to be able to problem solve more than any of that, and that’s where the kids seem to lose their brains sometimes. Sigh.

I hate my government and the politicians who are refusing to solve this problem. I don’t hate a lot of things. Well, I hate chocolate because it makes me throw up. I hate asshole drivers, although maybe if they’re not in their bigass vehicles trying to shove their shiny metal grill up your ass, maybe just maybe they are kind and gentle people who don’t throw their cigarettes out the window. It’s possible. But I really really hate every single politician out there who is refusing to listen to that kid from Florida who was on campus during the shooting: You’re the adults. We’re just kids. Why can’t you solve this?

Short Answer: We can. If we don’t want all these mass shootings, we have to look at the gun control laws in place in ALMOST EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. Yeah. That.

Sigh. Such a big sigh. I guess I can’t ignore the bad and ugly for long.

Anyway, so I graded stuff last night…this project requires me to watch a 3- to 5-minute-long video for every kid (that might have been a mistake)…but it’s OK, because 50 kids didn’t even do the video and of the other 80, about half did less than 3 minutes. I can’t say it’s the most exciting thing in the world to grade, but I multitask and grade other things while I’m watching. I finished one period yesterday and had grades ranging from a perfect score to an 11/65. It is what it is. I have on my calendar to do one period a day (well, I put 4th and 6th together, because 6th is tiny). I’ll be done Sunday hopefully. Grades are due in a few weeks, so I have to get control of this. Because my core job is teaching kids…not protecting them from political insanity.

Unfortunately, just making a quilt doesn’t stop that shit.

I did iron a bit yesterday…wait, before I did that, I did some binding sewing on the piece that’s been lying around…I ate dinner (alone). Yesterday I ate lunch alone, had my prep period alone and came home and hung out alone and there was a lot of alone, except for all the shooting crap in my head. It was not a good thing.

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I still have a lot of binding to do. This weekend? Maybe.

As you can see, I am not allowed in my own chair. Oh. And I’m still managing to keep a weekly journal of the shit I need to do, the shit I got done, and the shit I keep moving to the next day on the off chance that it might get done. I do get to use color pens to do it though, so it’s totally worth it.

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I actually had to write a proposal statement for one art show, and then I got into another art show, so I had to organize my calendar for that. I honestly keep losing a week of February (isn’t it over yet???). I guess that’s a good thing. Because I have a week I think I didn’t have? I guess.

So I did finally get to ironing. It was late. And then I was tired. I did some hair and some other thing and then got stymied by eye color. So I’m waiting on an email from the mom about eye color, but honestly, I could have kept going on the ironing. I was just too tired to do it. It’ll get done. Hopefully tonight.

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The pile that needs to be cut out…

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Seriously, there’s so little left to iron…although there’s more under the box to the left. I was too tired even to unearth those for the photo. It’s not a lot. It was just too many decisions on color. Hard to do that when you’re really tired.

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Here’s the other piece that will be in a show in March through May: We Won’t Go Back

It’s a local show down in San Ysidro, Dia de la Mujer. Cool stuff. I have about a million openings coming up in March and April. This is not a bad problem to have, surely.

So I’m going to go to school now and wonder about the sanity of some of my failing students, whether they would be the one to come to school and shoot up the classroom. I’m going to look at some of the kids who I just referred for counseling (actually, I’m not…because they don’t worry me…it’s the angry ones who worry me…). I’m going to keep on teaching them to think, best I can. I’m going to hold them accountable for their work, best I can. I’m going to continue to care about their minds, their hearts, their corporeal presence on this earth, best I can. Even the assholes. And some of them are assholes…but they’re kids, so I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they will grow up to be less than assholes. And I’m going to keep voting. And telling others to vote. Seriously, you need to vote the assholes out. All of them. Every single one.

*Radiohead, Karma Police


You’re Stumbling a Little*

February 15, 2018

Good morning blue skies. It’s nice to see you, even though I (sort of) appreciated the rain. It wasn’t quite enough. And it didn’t have to be while I was trying to be outside every time. That part made me laugh. I’m leaving the union meeting and some sweet young obviously dissolvable thing just stopped when she saw the rain, looked heavenward, and sighed heavily. I assumed she had a car in the parking lot, like I did, but maybe she had to walk 2 miles home. That would suck. Me? I just walked out to the car, wiped off my glasses, and drove home.

So first of all, today is my mom’s birthday…so here’s a picture for her of a Madagascar sunset from the girlchild…I think I paid $40 for that picture (or for the app that retrieved it from her camera…long story…totally worth it)…

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May she have a delightful birthday. May Dad take her out to dinner. I already made her cake.

Yesterday’s lab…one version of it.

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Lab days are tiring. One more this week, I think, and then one big one next week too. Then done with that for a while. Wait. No we’re not. We have 7 days of labs coming up in a row. (Bangs head on desk for a while. It will be fine. It will.).

Came home after short meeting and graded stuff while puppy was cute.

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And then the two of the furry beasts slept for a bit until I got up to do other things…

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I’m so behind on grading. I was almost caught up last week. It’s such a fleeting feeling.

I came in here and entered another show, plus did some other computer stuff. Never-ending computer stuff. So it was about 11 PM when I finally got my focus on the fabric…flesh tones!

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So easy to pick this time. Not sure why. I did toss some blue into the mix…just a tiny bit in here…

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Makes it fun. Plus links back to all the blue around the figures. The people on this one are pretty small, compared to some of my figures, so it didn’t take long to get all the flesh ironed down and into the box to be cut out.

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I thought I might be doing that today, the cutting, or at least starting it, but quilt class was canceled again for sickness. So I guess I will be ironing and grading tonight…and going to the gym if I can force myself. Honestly? Probably not. Maybe tomorrow night. I’m exhausted already. Up early for another meeting. But I should be able to finish ironing tonight. That would be good.

Here’s all I have left to do…mostly bones and hearts and veins and a tree and all the metal bits. I do have to decide about the back opening. I was going with the flesh tones, but I kind of want to echo the skies, the spacey bits. So I’m still thinking about it…less reality (open cavities and all)…more fantasy. She’s filled with SPACE!

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Which reminds me of the misconception an awful lot of my male students have, which is that we all come from sperm. Yes, folks, it’s the 1600s again and we don’t realize the female is a significant part of the reproduction process. It’s gonna be a fun sex ed unit this year! Seriously. These kids needs some educating.

Here’s all the fabrics I’ve used so far…it’s a lot! But more to come…some greens and reds…not a lot of those yet.

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And if you really want to see THIS quilt…it will be at the Visions Art Museum April 21-July 8 as part of the Things That Matter exhibit…which is cool.

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Because I get to go to the opening. We’re hoping this show will travel all over, so stay tuned.

OK, meeting time and then get through the day without losing my brains. That’s a whole ‘nother drawing, isn’t it? Oh yeah, I did hear from the girlchild finally last night (she’s been incommunicado since Sunday night)…and she had an awesome time with her lemur trip, although the village they stayed in/near had never seen white people before. She said there was a lot of staring…interesting experience for sure. I’m glad she’s having a really good time in Madagascar, learning lots, even though the language stuff is hard. I think this is the kind of stuff that makes us who we are in the world…and I’m glad she’s doing it.

*Massive Attack, Teardrop