And We’ll All Float on OK*

February 1, 2018

Yesterday was long. It began with a parent meeting and a breakfast of a handful of peanuts (not the best choice) and the teaching part went all day, like it does, into a meeting about who teaches what and why and how and when and maybe which…who knows. At some point, I got a second wind and started doing art things, quite a few of them. I didn’t do school things because I did lots of them at school and I should be allowed to stop at some point. Really. Today I have to remember to go to the chiropractor after school too. Somewhat hard to remember that shit.

So that was January, a whirlwind of not being able to do art for some reason. Seriously, I looked back, and most weeks I manage 13-20 hours of art…on top of a 60+-hour week of school (ugh). But until this week, I was doing about 4-5 hours a week. Maybe not helping with the feelings of stress. But I’m back on track! Woo hoo!

Seriously, it feels better.

Left for work yesterday morning with two furry beasts staring out the dirty window. It’s on a 2nd floor…hard to clean it, really. Need to replace it with something easier to clean. Normally the puppy is not out, but my housemate was running slow, so Simba got a few more moments of house freedom.

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After dinner, I put the bindings on the quilt I’ve been working on for months. That’s a fun binding…

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Usually my bindings are more mellow.

Wait. Well there’s this one…I finished the handstitching last night on this binding, but I purposely picked something crazy. Now I need to do the embroidery on it…that will take a while.

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I had wanted a January finish, so I should have done the handstitching on the other small quilt first and finished IT yesterday, but no…I did not think that far in advance. I liked last year when I was finishing one thing each month. Well. Until the summer, when all that fell to shit…so why am I worried? It’s OK…I didn’t have a finish last January either…I think I was a day or so off.

Dumped this on the couch so I could pin the binding back…

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So fast! So easy! This one will actually be done when the binding is done. I’m only doing bindings in that little bit after I’ve eaten my dinner until the show we’re watching stops. So if they’re 50-minute shows (figuring for commercials), that’s not a lot of time. It’s OK. They’ll get done.

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No rush.

My couch partner. He was quite happy when I sat still.

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Unfortunately for him, I suck at that. I eventually made it up off the couch again, after 10 PM, and started tracing freakishly small pieces of spine and ribcage and metal structure.

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I’m about 7 1/2 hours in and honestly? Almost done with the tracing. I think I have about 100 pieces left…or 120. That’s an hour or two. The little ones go faster. So hopefully I’ll finish tracing tonight and start cutting pieces out.

Meanwhile, from Tuesday’s drawing, there’s this little rodenty thing. I didn’t draw him with a purpose…was thinking mole and then he got a tail, so maybe mouse, or I don’t know what. Little mammal thing in a hole.

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Julie didn’t like that he didn’t have ears, apparently, or that he wasn’t biologically valid, which is amusing, because absolutely none NONE of my birds are real. Seriously, I just make that shit up. It must be obvious. But now I have this…

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because she sent it to me for future reference. I’m amused because this is a drawing about us getting nuked to oblivion due to our idiot president’s penis size (sigh), and she’s worried about that thing having no ears. I researched nuclear bombs and umbrellas and the rest was just random drawing. Filling space. And I’m months away from being able to make this quilt.

It’s fine. I’m amused. Now you know how much I research…sometimes a LOT, sometimes nothing at all.

Girlchild has finally found the wifi and time to post on her blog…check it out. And now I’m off to another parent meeting and day of teaching, luckily without the meeting at the end. And then art…really, after the gym and reading my book, but art.

*Modest Mouse, Float On

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No One Told Me About Her*

January 28, 2018

I have these goals to go on long hikes on the weekend or go hang out at the zoo (new passes for Christmas) or sit down on the deck and do a new drawing (that’s a perennial goal for me), but often it just ends up being the grocery store and the compost bin and maybe laundry if I’m really organized. I have two openings coming up in LA, and the thought of having to drive all the way up there and back in a day is disheartening…although I’m gonna do it. Twice. Which means having to plan ahead for the school stuff I normally do on the weekend.

It’s not that I’m not getting anything done…I just always want it to be more. And I forget how much energy school sucks out of you (I have three THREE parent meetings this week…for parents who just figured out their kids are failing. Sigh. I guess I’m glad they figured it out.). Meetings and grading and explaining and planning and grading and sending the parent email (I did that at 11 PM last night. Normally I do it today, but I’ll be in a car for a significant portion of the day.). It’s supposed to be almost 90 degrees here today, but my feet are freezing. I should go sit on the deck. Really. It’s warm out there.

I am glad to say that I finally finished the quilting on the small quilt.

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The lighting in here seems worse than usual…so quilting during the day is easier (although impossible during the week). I’ve been considering pulling this room apart at the beginning of summer, removing wallpaper, replacing flooring, painting the whole thing, maybe a new window, take the TV I never watch out and put more shelves in, replace a bunch of plastic drawers with something more sturdy and wall to ceiling, maybe even put in French doors instead of the sliding door so I can get more air in here…or something. But I don’t think I can afford it. I can think about it though and price shit out and see if it’s something I can do in the future.

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At some point, I won’t be paying for college any more.

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This was really quick to quilt because it’s small. The tree leg was the most complicated bit. It was only 4 hours and 45 minutes total.

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But it was just big enough that I wouldn’t have enough fabric for binding…I generally buy half yards, and that’s what this was going to take.

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But nothing worked. OK. Don’t lie. You didn’t even try. You wanted to go to the fabric store. It’s true. I haven’t been there in a while. I like the fabric store.

Here she is trimmed…

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About 36 x 42″ or so. So I made a trip to the store and put all that in the wash…

Then settled down to some TV and finishing this finally. Packed up all three blocks to send back to Social Justice Sewing Academy…

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And then graded for a while last night…cleared out all the makeup work (37 emails) and input those, plus pulled grades for another assignment from the website. I don’t have to grade anything but the last question…and then it gives me the score. Easy peasy.

Then heard briefly from the girlchild. With 11 hours difference, her day is my night etc. But this morning, I heard a lot. I’m going to let her tell her own story on her blog, though, although she’ll need wifi to get that posted. There are two posts so far, but she’s got another two written and ready to post. You can read her here if you want…all I can tell you know is that this is her bed in her host family’s house…and she’s feeling a little overwhelmed. (The bed alone would do that to me.)

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I remember doing this…barely knowing the language, staying in a strange house. It’s hard. But worth it. I hope she feels better after a long night’s sleep. She’s trying to learn two languages at once and adjust to a new place and not get sick. Hard stuff. Makes me appreciate my host family even more. They were really easy compared to some.

Here’s the fabric I bought after they came out of the washer. I didn’t allow myself to wander and shop much. I didn’t have much time and I don’t have much money. Although! The first check for the commission piece showed up yesterday, so I’m going to be starting tracing Wonder Under tonight! That’s actually exciting. I’m looking forward to it. In fact, I got some of the purplish fabrics for the spacey bit I think. Or I just liked them. Yeah that’s it.

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There’s the one I picked for the binding. I actually picked two, but couldn’t decide until I got home. The store was full of people, so I didn’t feel super comfortable throwing my naked climate chick out on the floor and trying binding fabrics out around her.

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Sometimes you just have to buy more than one and decide in the peace and quiet of your own home.

So now I have three bindings to sew down, plus one quilt that needs a lot of hand embroidery…it’s going to be my go-to for after dinner but still watching the end of that TV episode. So it’ll probably be around for a while. I’m hoping to finish one of the others in January, just to say I finished something in January, because I’ve been lax as hell this month. Normally I do 50+ hours of art-related stuff each month, and the last month has been only 20 hours…and that’s WITH time off from school. Lame. Yeah, it’s OK, I know the kids being home and being discombobulated about what I was doing next was part of that. But I’m done now. I’m on a roll. I have 60 days to get this quilt done…partially because that’s what I put in the contract, but also because I leave on vacation in 63 days. Don’t laugh. I’ll be fine. I have a goal now, a place to look forward to. That helps so much. Really, it does.

I’m going to be feeling better this week. The cold is going to go away, I’m going to get some exercise in, I’m going to finish some things and start some things. It’s all good.

*The Zombies, She’s Not There


How to Bend Without the World Caving In*

January 26, 2018

One thing I can say is that I’m really glad it’s Friday. Some weeks just seem harder than others. This one maybe because I lost sleep the first night of the week and then got sick immediately after. I want to just lie around and sleep and read a book and maybe eat some ice cream. Really healthy stuff. In reality, I’ll be grading and sewing and dropping off a quilt and going to a meeting and doing the grocery shopping. But I might sleep in. That would be nice. Life goals! Sleeping in!

I’m quite a few hours from getting to that point, unfortunately. I did come home last night after running a few errands and I finished grading another assignment and put some stuff in the gradebook. All good. Very efficient. Good Kathy. Keep going. Stay on task. The fun thing about being a teacher is that as soon as you finish grading one assignment, they turn in two more. Some people (who do not understand my population of students…or maybe any population of middle-schoolers) say hey! Why don’t you assign fewer things that need grading! Well. They won’t do anything then. It’s hard enough some days to get them to read instructions (hence yesterday’s lab, which continues tomorrow)…I adjust my speech each period based on the things the previous period did that I didn’t tell them to do. My basic lab mantra is, “If I didn’t tell you to do it, don’t do it.” It makes it hard for any real experimentation to happen. The one kid who wanted to eat the hydrogen peroxide and yeast, I said, “Hang on, let me get 911 and your mom on the line…then you can eat it.” Sigh. Probably it wouldn’t kill him. Burns going down, eh? Did I tell you to eat it? Then why are you doing it?

These are the things they don’t teach you in teacher school.

So yeah, after grading, I made some dinner and read my book and cleaned up some random stuff. I keep finding piles of things the girlchild left, so I funnel them to her room (which now has some of my stuff back in it…but I went through one container and cleared it out…only four to go! And I have 100 days to do it! Actually more…she’ll be going home to Boston, not here.).

And then I felt pretty good…I went to buy the better cold medicine, the one they use to make crack, and it works. The other stuff just makes me feel woozy and clogged up. So I’m totally willing to give the government my ID so I can breathe!

And then, because I could breathe, I quilted! For over an hour!

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I actually got close to done on the outlining…

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All I have left is the wooden tree leg thing, which is actually really complicated, and the world stuff to the right of that. And then the background, which isn’t very big. Maybe I’ll finish tomorrow and find a binding. I could handsew a binding (or three, because that’s how many are lying around right now) at my meeting on Sunday. I don’t like just sitting around at meetings. Obviously.

At some point, I needed to fill a bobbin and this happened.

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No. I was not watching. Do you watch your bobbins fill? I do not. Unfortunately, because this was unsalvageable and I have no idea how it happened. Also, at some point, after I ran out of black thread for the bobbin, I started using a dark gray. I have no idea when I switched to the lighter gray, but there it is. So the back is kinda funny looking. Not that I recommend you ever look at the back of an art quilt. It’s not going on a bed and the wall doesn’t care.

Then I got hit with a Wall of Tiredness. It happens. I sat on the couch and drew in my journal, but nothing worth looking at, just doodlings, and then this happened. Puppy is on me, everyone else to my left…

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It’s still cold at night, eh? And everyone wants attention. I was OK with that. Petting warm furry beasts is not a bad thing.

Weekend plans? Grade. Finish quilts. Maybe start Wonder Under on the commission piece? Get some rest and get well. Most importantly. So probably more of those sitting-on-the-couch-with-all-the-beasts photos…those are OK.

*Jason Mraz, I Won’t Give Up


I Can’t Control What I’m Going Through Now*

January 22, 2018

OK. Well the girlchild is on the first of three planes over the next 36 hours or so. She comes back in 104 days (she actually goes back to Boston, not San Diego, but that’s way closer than Madagascar). Hopefully she has what she needs. Certainly we tried to make sure she did.

She was in here, the office/studio, last night while I was sewing, practicing her French. She can introduce her husband and her sister (she has neither) and ask where the bathroom is. She should be fine.

Me? I’ve been up since 4 AM and have work with 150 7th graders today. I will be fine. I went a whole year and a half where I only slept like 4-5 hours a night (that is actually more than I got last night, honestly though).

Her bag is only 51 pounds. There’s a backpack in there, a tent, a sleeping bag, and a ton of useful crap. I think.

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Sending her off. She does not want me to take her photo this early in the morning. I don’t blame her…but there’s proof I got her in the TSA line.

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Last night, I guess my brain finally stopped stalling and let me finish the stitch down.

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It did not take long…only about an hour over what I’d already spent on it.

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Two hours and 13 minutes total…so short on a little quilt!

So then I found some backing fabric…I was going to use something extra and ugly, but I used the full width of a batik for the front, so honestly, batiks are usually the widest…I couldn’t find anything non-batik in the stash that was wide enough. It’s OK…this was a background for some other quilt.

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I don’t usually lay them out on the studio floor. I used to iron on it…hence the holes here and there. But this was small enough.

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Pinned down…ready for quilting. Maybe tonight? We’ll see. I should have graded something yesterday and I didn’t. Too wired.

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Someone posted pictures of the Threads of Resistance show at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. The show is there until February 18. I think we’re behind a curtain again…Tanya Brown’s piece hanging with mine (presumably pooping is an issue for little kids to view? Not sure.).

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Mine always hang together. I’m not even sure they like each other. They’re all feminists though, so that’s OK.

OK, I’m going to make myself go to school and make sense, or get some shit done, or something. Certainly with both kids gone again, I have fewer excuses. Just those in my head. The commission piece will come back in a bit…so I should be efficient and get the other binding on that other quilt…and get this small one quilted and bound, so I have something done in January. That would be a good plan. Do some of the drawing that’s kicking around in my head. A Frida Kahlo-esque piece of the girlchild is in there…the boychild as well (they love it LOVE IT when I put them in my stuff. Absolutely. Sarcasm there. Lots of it.).

*The Alarm, Strength


I Really Do Feel It*

January 18, 2018

Hooray for short work weeks…I can’t get my brain back into school yet. I haven’t been bringing any grading home…which will eventually bite me in the butt. I answered one parent email last night…so that was responsible of me. I even forwarded it to the other teachers. That said, we stayed after school yesterday for more than an hour making Oobleck for our kids to figure out today…that is so NOT my hand. I let my coteacher do the mixing and I did the cleanup.

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We may totally regret doing this by the end of today, but we’re hoping not. It’s cool stuff…most of our students know about and have even made slime, but this is different. Anyway, wish us luck. (maybe pray for us…) So I feel like I did do extra work yesterday…just not at home.

The Golden Retriever had a broken tooth pulled yesterday. I had no idea how HUGE the roots were.

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About 2/3 of that was in her gum. It’s her fault for breaking her teeth…she eats rocks. Well…chews on them. Anyway, she was significantly drugged last night, but seems OK this morning. She’s a good girl…takes her meds and soggy food without complaint. The pain meds might be helping with that.

The girlchild and I had some errands for after and her dinner plans for us were stymied by the time it takes to soak farro, so we tried out the new location of City Tacos in La Mesa…good stuff! Although not cheap…here’s the veggie versions for the girlchild…

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And the meat ones for me…although the veggie ones looked good too…

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Then a trip to the 99-cent store for school stuff, plus the grocery store so she could make my students some cupcakes. By the time we got home, it was 7:30 and I was too tired to do anything but just sit at the table for a while. Apparently Simba was tired too…

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They’re both soaking up all the last minutes together. I get it. Boychild made it back to New York yesterday, with only minor delays. For once! Despite all the weather stories and cancellations. Impressive. I miss that kid.

I eventually got up and started the stitch down on this. I didn’t finish…

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I probably could have, but I had some serious concentration issues. So I eventually gave up and sat on the couch with my book and a glass of wine and a whiny cat. I read until I thought I could fall asleep and then I did.

I’m in a mood. Missing one kid, worrying about the other one, 64 days and probably 10 staff meetings to Spring Break. I hate staff meetings. I think I really just need to get back into my school routine. Next week.

Tonight? Grade some stuff. Maybe go to the gym (that would help…plus I can read my book there). Do some art stuff, even if it’s just hand sewing on bindings while watching some TV. That’s not a bad way to end the day. Not every day has to be amazingly efficient. Some are just days.

*Pretty Lights, Finally Moving


Well, You Don’t Know Me, But I Know You*

January 10, 2018

I think the puppy must be about to burst. He’s been refusing to pee since the rain started. On Monday. I carry him out and even put him under a tree, but no. He’s wide-eyed, trying to escape back to dry parts (aka the house). I think he must be voiding himself somewhere unknown, like while I wasn’t watching, he’s learned how to use the toilet and is just badmouthing me in his head as I put on his leash and try to persuade him out into the bushes. Luckily, the rain is supposed to stop today. It’s not like we didn’t need it…we just didn’t need it in such large amounts in a short period of time, as the mudslides north of here attest. Timing is everything.

So really, Simba’s problems are minor in the bigger picture. He’ll poop somewhere, sometime. That part is guaranteed.

Yesterday was the first day back with students. They were pretty zoned out by the end of the day. So were the teachers. We started a new unit, so I got to draw and color with them. It was probably all any of us could handle.

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I had tutorial after school, so I had exactly zero brain by the time I fought the weather home. I read for a bit even…the book club book for February is kinda big, so I started early for once. I don’t always make it to book club, but I always read the book.

Then I made dinner and did the stitching I usually do afterwards…just a little a night. This is a closeup of what I finished the night before…

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And last night. Not sure I have the right variegated thread for the last word. Maybe I’ll go balls out with a teal or pink. Who knows.

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Then I really wanted to finish ironing this smaller piece that’s been rolling around my art spaces for months now.

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It only took another hour or so…ironed everything down…

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Pulled a leftover piece of background I had lying around (that’s the plus with doing smaller pieces)…and ironed the whole thing down. Easy peasy.

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Now she’s ready to be stitched down…sometime later this week? Maybe.

Then back to the drawing board. A little slower last night…brainpower reduced by day job.

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Land…water…there’s going to be space above, but I need to enlarge the whole thing to do that…or maybe just copy the top and tape it to the next page? But with this one, I think I need to see the whole thing. We’ll see. More tonight. The work day will be shorter…so that should help. We have to sit through some professional development (again), so that’s annoying.

Anyway. I see progress, even if it’s small.

All the animals are missing my kids…who are visiting cousins in Seattle. They are so in my face this morning too, because they had company yesterday, but today, will be left again all day. I feel bad for them…wish I could take them to school, but that can’t happen…too many kids with allergies. Plus Calli would pee on them in her excitement. And Simba might bite someone, because he’s an antisocial dick sometimes. And the cats are pretty unpredictable with humans.

OK. This headache and I need to go to school now.

*Laurie Anderson, O Superman


Be My Very Own Constellation*

January 9, 2018

Well. I tried sleeping with the pillow over my head to shut the rain up (seriously, it’s not white noise to some of us) and then the wind picked up at 3 AM, so I’m not sure how much sleep I actually got around all that natural shit that we need to fall from the sky because drought. Always the drought. We’ve only had an inch of rain total (including last night) since July, so it really is a dry year…or a normal year, with last year as the crazy outlier. Half our students won’t show up today because of the weather, although a few little guys showed up yesterday…this is the first year we’ve started with kids on Tuesday instead of Monday. The district just wants us to have more and more professional development, and this is one of the ways they try to make it happen. It was good, because we got a lot of choice time instead of enforced crap…my coteacher and I did some planning and hopefully will get caught up. By June. Maybe.

And remember how I told you that school makes me more artistically efficient? I wonder if it’s because the non-art part of my brain is exhausted and dead when I get home, so the art part can run rampant. It really is about shutting that part up sometimes (just like I have to shut the art part up at school)…so I do think that is a factor. It’s OK…I’ll never be able to afford to retire, so I won’t have to worry about how I will make art when I’m old without the work distraction.

It was already starting to rain when I got home, but I knew the dogs needed exercise, so I leashed them up and literally dragged them out there. Well, the little one needed some significant persuasion. He kept looking back where he thought the dry car might be, and broke into a run at the end. The old lady does what she’s told. She gives me a look when it starts raining really hard, but otherwise, she’s just happy to be out there…

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It wasn’t too bad most of the way, but they were pretty wet when I got back…

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We did a short version, because it was raining pretty hard on the back end.

Puppy needed comfort from someone besides me when we got back.

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Mean old lady makes me go outside in this weather.

After that, I did a little ironing on this piece…there’s really no excuse for not getting it done. It’s small and easy. Nice filler when my brain isn’t quite ready for drawing.

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We’re watching one episode of Stranger Things a night with dinner…so when I finish eating, I’m working on the SJSA blocks until the episode finishes…this herringbone is going much faster than the buttonhole was…honestly, it’s not the stitch; this glue isn’t as hard to stitch through.

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This is what I finished the night before on whatever this is. Some bovine. I worked on it at my parents’…briefly.

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Then I went back to ironing after dinner.

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That’s where I quit…because I wanted to work on the drawing too…

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A totally different direction…there’s a world under them. I think I’m going to have to expand it a little at the top. But I think this is going to work. It was much easier to draw this…I don’t know why. Anyway.

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I’m hoping this one works out. I’ll finish drawing tonight, or as much as I can without extending it. I have a lot more stuff to put in it…of course! I like to fill space. You may have noticed that.

Anyway, let’s hope parents get their kids to school today, plus I survive it, so I can come home and iron a bit and draw a lot and sleep better than last night. I can do one shitty night, but two might hurt.

*Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication