We’ve No Time for Later*

December 27, 2017

It’s interesting…when I don’t have a specific project to work on (yet), my brain just fails to work properly. Maybe that’s being on vacation too. I did work (on grading) for a good huge chunk yesterday and will probably do that again today, if just to finish this stupid grading assignment. That will take me down to just a couple, plus checking all the desperate emails that came in after kids realized I had posted their progress report grades but there was nothing they could do about them. I don’t really understand that logic, but I’m not 12.

Don’t get me wrong, I have 17 thousand things I could be working on. I have three (count them!) THREE pinbasted quilts, one art one and two not-art ones, that I could work on. I have one art quilt that is at the fabric-trimming stage, and if I got my act together, I could probably finish it this week. I really should do that. It would be a good use of my time. I’m kinda rebelling against “good use of my time” at the moment. I have about 4 blocks-of-the-month in various stages of completion (and I did work on one of those for a while, both on Christmas Day and yesterday). I could be drawing every day, all day. I haven’t drawn at all. I did finish a book, The Power, by Naomi Alderman.


Interesting take on the possible reversal of power if women were in charge instead of men. Apparently testosterone is not the problem…it’s just power in general. She may be right. It’s an interesting story nonetheless.

The girlchild gave me all the ingredients for a Moscow mule (or 17). I love the owl cups and will use them for milk and cookies as well.

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My main only squeeze gave me a drawing by one of my favorite mural artists, Gloria Muriel…this is Lilith

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Christmas dinner was tasty, although I only managed to photograph the cheese plate. I loved that bean dip…gonna make more…

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Simba was spoiled for attention…

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Calli was patiently waiting for ball-throwing activities…of which there were few.

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See Simba? Asleep now. My parents petted him to sleep.

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I cannot explain this picture…

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Girlchild cooked it all…

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See the damn puppy again?

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I came home and did some sewing to fill in spaces on the left again…trying to sort of flatten out some of the edges, so I can use it as a centerpiece for a crazy quilt maybe.

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Still debating that. Meanwhile, I pinned 96 spots on this Sue Spargo quilt from 2013…which has been pieced for over a year. It took me that long to put the green border stem on and deal with the spots.

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There are 5 colors…I started sewing on the darkest ones. I think there’s about 19 of each color, so I’m going to be doing this for a while. It’s very meditative. And then they need to be embellished.

Boychild gave me fabric for Christmas. Well. I dragged him to the quilt store and made him pick some fabrics out, because he drew my name for the Sunday night party. I picked the red and white one…he did the rest.

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I like adding fabrics to my quilts that other people have picked. It widens my range. I’m sure I pick the same types of fabrics over and over.

Then I ironed and dehaired the big quilt for the photographer yesterday morning. It had a lot of hair on it. Damn cats. Really need to clean the floor in here before I start the next one.

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Then I graded and went to the gym and graded some more and made my own dinner because everyone was gone and read my new book, which is also good, and then did more on the left side…

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Satchemo not helping with photography.

And sewed on more dots. Yeah. Forever sewing on dots. Spots. Whatever.

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I wish I could say I have a plan for today, but I do not. I’ve been trying to plan our Spring Break trip, which is a pain in the butt. I need to grade more of those projects, just to get them out of my hair. I need to finish the Christmas holiday cards and send them out. I need to find some focus, but honestly, I’m OK if that doesn’t happen until next week some time. I’m obviously in need of some down time.

*Frou Frou, Let Go


Wondering if I’m Blind*

December 19, 2017

OK. I’m working on daily to-do lists at the moment. Yesterday’s started with 6 things on it; I ended up crossing off 8 (yes, that’s more than 6, why do you ask?) and transferring 3 to today’s list. Today’s list is starting with 7 things. Hopefully those won’t grow.

Stitchdown took a total of 7 1/2 hours, but I finished…with a lot of furry Not-helpers…

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Jockeying for the ultimate cat sleeping spot. He stirred occasionally when I would move the quilt around, but mostly didn’t care that his bed was disturbed AND vibrating.

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All stitched down. I think. Because I missed the spaceship AND the moon at one point.

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Then I had to go buy batting, wash it, and dry it…before I could pinbaste. So I did some other stuff while I was waiting…like two nights’ worth on this…bottom right, filling in space.

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Then because I was waiting for the boychild to finish making dinner (that was awesome cool, by the way)…I pulled this out. This is Sue Spargo’s 2014 Block of the Month, and yes, it takes me forever to do these, but it’s good to have something to stitch on at meetings and soccer games and all that. Seriously, I think this whole quilt came together on the soccer fields…

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I just need to stitch on 96 balls and then embellish them and I’m done. With the top.

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When I put it that way, it sounds like a bit much. Yes, it’s taken me a year to get to this point. You’re right. I’m OK with that. I have the one from the year before that is pinbasted and sitting in the pile with two others to be quilted. I should do that sometime. I think it’s less about finishing these and more about having something in my hands to work on…which is fine.

And then I pieced the back…yes, with the most non-matchy fabrics I could find. I needed 4 yards. I wasn’t buying 4 yards. I had two yards of the leaves, another yard and a half of the green and red stripe, plus some purple to fill in. It’s OK.

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It’s the back. I don’t care. If you do, then insert some rant about how women don’t really fit in, we have to be a little bit of everything, even when it doesn’t make sense.

This morning? Blood tests I didn’t even know I needed (doctor’s office still hasn’t answered me about that), take down of a show I was actually in, and then back here to pinbaste. Why didn’t I do it last night? It was on my Monday to-do list. Because once I got the backing pieced and ironed, it was 11:15. So I didn’t want to stay up another hour and a half when I knew I had to get up relatively early today to get stabbed. I think I’m OK on time…I’m figuring 20 hours for the quilting and another 6 or 7 for the binding. I need to remember to buy binding fabric on Friday. Because Saturday will be crazy. Well. Friday might be too…certainly JoAnns was hellish yesterday. Whatever. I got 50% off my batting. My depression-era grandma would be proud.

OK, making the tea I can’t drink until after the prod and poke. Then off to do stuff so I can come back and do more stuff.

Oh yeah, and I graded one of the six assignments. Five to go.

*Sister Hazel, All for You

It Is So Strange the Way Things Turn*

December 11, 2017

There’s always a point in the task I’m performing while making my quilts when the scale tips, when I can see light at the end of the tunnel, when I know I’m close to the end. That was last night, when I got into the 1100s and realized I only had about 250 pieces (or fewer) to go. Then I can visualize the next step, maybe even the end, and start thinking about the next one. Not yet. Not with this one. Have to get clear of school to get my head around the next one, but it’s percolating. Fermenting. Bubbling away in my brain.

Puppy was very tired yesterday. This is how I felt when I got up in the morning and started grading for 6 hours or whatever it was. I still have to input the final stuff into the system tonight or this afternoon or whenever I can fit it in.

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I ironed a little in the afternoon…had to stop mid-face for dinner.

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I was three nights behind on this, so I put a chainstitched wave on the left side and started filling it in.

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And then, because we were watching Westworld, I started cutting out circles for the Bird Crazy border (it’s not really called that)…I finished stitching the stem down finally. Satchemo is very helpful with cutting out circles…

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More circles, covered in cat and dog hair, of course.

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There’s only 90 of them. It’s only taken me a year to get to this point. They all have to be stitched down and embellished. Sounds like a Christmas Day project. Maybe.

Then back to ironing…finished her head…

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Added the last of the arms…

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I really like this head. It’s awesome.

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Ah Midnight. Weird story. I was sitting here grading yesterday afternoon and felt something brush against my leg, automatically thought it was Midnight, because that’s what she always did. But she’s dead. And there weren’t any other animals in here.

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Yeah. Well. Creeped out now. This is the room where cats always stare intently at the ceiling, like there’s something there, and then I whip around to see what it is, and they pretend it was nothing…until I’m not looking at them, and they start that intense stare again. Sigh.

Asteroid? Meteor?

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The sun…

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This quilt has a lot of floaty bits and pieces…here’s the sewing section…

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Following by a spaceship and a condom. You know, like in real life.

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Lots of birth control options here, although I would recommend against the screwdriver for that, and I think marriage is NOT supposed to be a birth control option. Although the current regime certainly thinks women shouldn’t be allowed to have any of it without marriage. Unlike men.

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Sometimes I really hate people. I try not to. I try to mentally explain and respect their stances, until they negatively affect me and everyone I care about, and then they just irritate the fuck out of me. This quilt is about that. Things that matter: Women. Their rights. Options. Not having someone tell us what we’re allowed to do and when and how. Having a voice.

I have a draft of an email to another teacher on my system at the moment. I’m obviously more mature than I used to be, because I haven’t sent it yet. There’s a trigger I’m waiting for, and then it goes. I’m looking forward to break so I can hermit away from the populace. And make art. And hopefully not grade a million things. Ha! I already know I have an entire unit due Friday. Oh well. It’s still gonna be vacation.

*Peter Gabriel (and Kate Bush), Don’t Give Up

The Devil Take Your Stereo*

December 8, 2017

Whoa Friday morning. You snuck up on me, but I’m very glad to see you, although now I’m wondering (a) if my grandma got evacuated in the fires last night, (b) what’s for breakfast, and (c) why the hot water heater isn’t producing enough hot water to get me through a scant 10-minute shower in the morning. I really wish my brain could slow down sometimes, but no. I’ve already handled two Fed-Ex-related phone calls from the girlchild, wait, and a text, wait, a series of texts, plus two emails to the principal, and I still haven’t finished my tea, but it and my feet are cold, but it’ll be in the 80s today. Grades are due Tuesday, but it’ll be fine, it’s just progress reports and we didn’t lose or kill anyone on the field trip yesterday, so we’re all good. Seriously. That was the bar I had to reach and I did that.

Insert artsy field trip photo here…

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Seriously, it was fine. Timing was good. All the food got eaten (we give away the extra lunches at the end of the day), no one got hurt, the wind was crazy, but the movie and the games were cool.

My agave spike continues its strangeness…

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My quilt in a photo at the Schweinfurth Art Center (it’s the one on the left, in case you couldn’t figure that out).

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I did something on the left. Filling in spaces.

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Then we were still watching a show that hadn’t ended and I have all this nervous energy, despite feeling exhausted (I zoned out on the couch for about 45 minutes before starting dinner last night…I’m OK with that), so that nervous energy was trying to finish sewing this on.

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With puppy.

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He looks downright pitiful there. He thinks he’s a cat. Tries to sit on my lap like a cat too.

Then I made sure, when the show was done, to get in here and start ironing…STAND UP and get off the damn couch, because you’re falling into it…here’s the face…

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Well, one of six faces anyway…it wasn’t particularly hard…

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The arteries were a bit more challenging…so that got me through all the 500s.

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So next I laid out the 600s, which gets me to almost halfway, and I got through one arm before my body and brain were like, hey baby, that’s it, it’s been two hours and we’re tired so please let us stop.

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So I did. In reality, I had the time to iron for another hour to hour and a half, but realistically, when I’m tired, I’m tired. So 5 more heads, either tonight (might be a stretch) or tomorrow or Sunday, hopefully I’ll get a good chunk done. Probably not tomorrow. Sigh. OK. Not as far as I wanted to be…but we’ll see where I’m at by Sunday night. Iron the whole thing down by Monday night? It’s a goal. Then stitch down (ha! it’s the week from hell next week), sandwich by the next weekend? Quilt like a racehorse and bind it before Christmas? Holy crap. That’s basically what I have to do. I should email the photographer now. Crikey.

The crazy winds continue, the psycho fires continue…best of luck to all my friends and family dealing with both…nah, send that to everyone, because this is scary as shit and horrible to experience. May everyone stay safe, from human to domesticated animal to poor wild beast trying to escape the fires.

*Adam Ant, Stand and Deliver

You’re Just the Gravel on the Road*

October 17, 2017

Between quilts, there’s usually a few days, sometimes a week, of downtime, of braindeadness, of not being able to take on the next piece because my brain is still in the last one. Sometimes I have the next one right there and I’m able to jump right into it. This seems to work best when the drawing is already done. Certain parts of artmaking take more brain presence than others: drawing, picking fabrics…that might be it! Amusing. Mostly I’m a worker bee completing the task set to me, more than an artist in creation mode. I don’t mind that though. It’s meditative…it’s part of the process.

So I finished a quilt on Sunday night. I came home last night and ironed it and dehaired it for the photographer…it goes today. I have the next one started. Currently it looks like this…

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Except bigger…that’s from July 3. Yes, that long ago. I have a page in my notebook with a list of things that need to go into this quilt and I’m not sure how all that is going to happen or whether I might just have to start over (it happens), so I’m just letting it all ferment in my head for a day or too. I don’t want to start and not get it right. The last quilt…I felt really unsure about it until it went together in fabric. Then I could see it. I want to feel better about this one. It’s not about making them fast because of a theme…it’s about making them true to me. Which I do…but sometimes it’s harder than others.

I couldn’t deal with that drawing last night…so I found other ways to be creative. This is where it’s good to have some things lying around. I have some hobby sewing I do…you see it here pretty often. There’s this one…I’ve been working on it for 5-10 minutes a day since Jan 1.

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I added two nights’ worth of fern stitch in the bottom right.

Then there’s this one…the bird quilt. I spent quite a bit of time last night spacing out, watching Dark Matter and trying to get this green stem stitched down. Didn’t finish.

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And then this one…I traced the Wonder Under back in June. It’s small, less than 400 pieces. I needed something to do last night, so I sorted the pieces into 100s.

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I don’t know if I’ll pick fabrics tonight or if I’ll have the brainpower to draw the next one.

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But it’s ready to go. I do have a countdown on the next one…it has to be done and photographed in 75 days. I thought I had a ton of time on this last one, and it really stretched me…it was 14 days early, but I had a similar chunk of time, starting August 15 or so, and this next one will be more complicated. It sounds like a ton of time, but it’s not. The holidays are in there…pro: more time to create…con: more not-art shit you gotta do. So I can’t really take time out to make a whole new quilt before I start that one. But I might be able to allow myself two days to pick fabrics before I start drawing. Maybe. I’ll think about it.

Seriously, I’m harder on myself with artmaking (well, and with school) than anyone else could be. I didn’t grade last night. I should have. Oh well.

This morning’s sky. I like being able to see the sunrises…except I don’t like being up early. As the days get shorter, this is good though. Another three weeks of sunrises and then Daylight Savings Time…

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And I lose them again for a while.

*Tom Waits, Day after Tomorrow

I Came Back as a Bag of Groceries*

August 30, 2017

Rough morning. Sleep in the heat is always difficult. And there are additional night stressors, like the cat who wanted to clean her butt right by my face because she’s feeling anxious. And when it’s over 100 degrees, furry animals right next to you are delightful (ugh). But I know they’re all needy babes at the moment, so I pet them all.

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And when it’s really hot out, you should move furniture, by the way. And books…piles of books. And then cook things. Over a stove. AND with an oven.

It’s fine. I do OK with sweat as long as I can cool down occasionally. Eventually it will cool down again.

I did two nights’ on here, down in the bottom left. I decided I wanted to get that section filled in, so I did a chain stitch in a light blue and then a wavy buttonhole in the orangey-red color. I like that bit.

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We were watching Sense8 while eating and this guy’s shirt fascinated me. I especially like the blue/red ferny things about a third of the way down. So we had to rewind a couple of times so I could get the idea of them…

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I don’t know what I’ll be doing with that…

While we finished watching, I was sewing more of this down…because when it’s over 100 degrees , that’s the best time to work on a wool quilt. You know.

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And then I sat back and watched more Hinterland, always interesting just because I lived in Aberystwyth for a year. I often yell out (in my head), hey! I know that bit of road! Although the art department was in the wrong place. Maybe they’ve moved it? Or maybe there really is a printmaking studio up there…who knows?

I cut stuff out while I was watching (and thinking) all that.

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Another needy furry beast who wants to be right next to me in the heat…

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I did a couple of hours…that was my goal, so I met it! Whoo! I can’t promise I will on all the other nights though. Gotta fit a gym visit in somewhere. I think I cut out 2 1/2 yards, minus those pieces under the scissors.

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Pile of Wonder Under is NOT moving. Cat is. Hence blur.

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You can tell I’m still not very awake. Probably gonna be this way for some more days…between the heat and the additional cat stressors. It will all get better soon. Just don’t expect deep thoughts or complicated math out of me any time soon.

*They Might Be Giants, Dead

Just a Simple Flower so Small and Plain*

August 18, 2017

I don’t really know how to start. I think that’s just Friday morning first week of school tiredness, the tired that makes you yearn for a Saturday-morning lie-in. Just sleeping in until you’re not tired any more (it’s rare that it happens, but it does). Self care for teachers is hard, even harder when you have family at home who don’t realize you spent all day talking and walking and making decisions and remembering stuff well above and beyond a normal day. I do have that…but they’re all furry. With both kids gone and me at school every day, they are all suddenly very needy. VERY needy. I understand that. I am also needy. Unfortunately, no one is filling that need at the moment. Well, there’s something nice about a furry beast right next to you. And petting them is nice. Until the black one bites.

I don’t know if you can see them all…one dog on the right, one by my left foot, and then a black cat on the other side. Just before I took this, the black cat was snugged right up against me, because it’s August? And she’s cold? Nah. She misses the other humans.

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She’s the biter.

Simba eventually moved a little further away from me. Only a little though.

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Calli had her head on my foot for a while.

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Right now, Kitten is on the chair behind me. So there’s some furry interaction that needs to happen. Although I walked the dogs earlier this week, I haven’t had the energy since then. It’s on my mind for tonight, but I will need to find some additional energy reserves to pull that off. Maybe I will just sit in the hallway and throw balls for the dogs to chase.

So yesterday was Day 2 of school, and I came home and collapsed on the couch. Again. I hate feeling that tired. I think I achieved flatness, like a melting scoop of ice cream. Too tired to hold myself in a seated position. I remember thinking about getting a deli sandwich before quilt class…I have a coupon, but it has to be used before 6 PM. I could buy it then and eat it later. I would just have to leave about 20 minutes early. Um no. Did not manage that. I do have leftovers in the fridge, but I forgot that thing where I get tired of eating the same thing for almost every meal. Ugh. Learning curve. I should cook all summer and freeze it all up for the first month of school.

I did finally get up though and sew some strips together. Obviously the next quilt is not ready to be moved around. It doesn’t even really exist. I don’t draw in front of people much, certainly not at this stage, so I figured I would just work on the Folk Tails quilt blocks. I even sewed the two sheep blocks together finally. Then I remembered the birds. They need a border. So I grabbed the stem fabric and sewed the strips together and found all the bits and pieces and even some sewing thread that matched, and I went to my quilt meeting. I managed to pin the stem strips on in some semblance of the correct place (wonky is good), and started to sew.

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Hanging out with humans is often recommended for people like me. The furry beasts are fine, but humans respond a little bit more coherently. Although one of them is also currently teaching (the other two are retired teachers), and she was even more incoherent than I was.

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I made it around two corners, I think, but only on one side of the strip. So I’ll have to go around a second time. It’s not hard, but it will take some time. You’d think I’d come home from quilt class and get right to work on that drawing from yesterday? But no.

I never did get that sandwich, so I started dinner, and then I tried to spend some time with the last bit of cleaning in the bedroom. I found all these pieces for an applique quilt that I haven’t worked on in years…I’m not even sure where the current block is or how many blocks are left. I know I have a lot done. You know how that works? You get close and then never finish? That’s like half the quilt blocks on eBay. Someone died and never finished and their heirs want nothing to do with it. I have a bunch like that unfortunately. They’re all somebody else’s design. I don’t usually not finish art quilts though. I have a couple that are not finished. One that is finished that I don’t like. At all. But mostly I finish them.

I’ve been watching a lot of British television this week while vegging out…River, which was good, Doctor Foster, which was OK, and just started The Bletchley Circle, which I like so far. I’ve been binge watching while doing art stuff all summer. I can’t always watch stuff, like when I’m quilting. But in the drawing and tracing stages, it works. Thank goddess for Netflix, right?

I did the zigzag chain stitch in the bottom right.

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I can’t really focus on filling in at the moment apparently. So I keep doing something else on the edge.

Kathy on school (girlchild and I were snapchatting on location)…it’s my new 7th period prep, where I have literally no brain power to do anything.

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Anyway. So there’s a damn good chance I’m gonna come home tonight and still have no energy to draw or even sew the rest of that green stem on. Oh well. It’s not the end of the world. It will get done. I just need to get some rest and adjust to the new shit. I’m disappointed that my school district is not letting us take kids out for the eclipse on Monday. Some liability issue. But I have a distinct and strong memory of one eclipse in elementary school, going outside with our pinhole papers and watching the eclipse happen. I’m not happy that I’m going to miss it either. This just sucks…here’s science right here, right now, exciting stuff happening, and we have to sit inside and watch it on the NASA feed. It’s unreal. It’s so contrary to what they always tell us to do in science, to give them experiences so they can discover shit. Not on the screen! Ah. Well. How can I sneak out during 4th period to see it? Figuring that out.

*Gillian Welch, Acony Bell