I’m Just a Soul Whose Intentions Are Good*

September 28, 2016

So instead of just working on the next project (which actually has two parts), I decided to do two at a time. Not really. But last night, I did work on both. One isn’t due until December, so it’s not a rush at all. But it needs more drawing, and sometimes I feel like drawing more than I feel like anything else, so it’s good to have it at a stage where I can do that. The original drawing has actually been lying around for a month or so.

Anyway, after a long parent meeting in a foreign language where we tried desperately to get dad to understand that this kid needs help way beyond our personal abilities (I really hate the law sometimes…I get why it’s there, but it can hogtie us), I came home and actually napped. I always worry when that happens…although I remember coming home from school on the days my mom did her nursing volunteer work and she’d be flat out on the couch, the book folded open on her chest, sound asleep. So maybe being almost 50 and on my feet all day, and then in an hour-long intense meeting, maybe that’s a legit reason to need a nap. I only got 12 minutes, though, so don’t get excited. Because dogs. So I graded. Because I need to catch up. And I entered another show. Because that’s why I’m doing these crazy deadlines.

So I knew what I needed to figure out next…is that figure going to be big enough for what I want? There’s only one way to find out…fold out the damn cot…lay the drawing out…

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So there’s an argument for life size, which this is not. But I can visualize the sheet and I think it will be what I want…so back to the drawing board. I cut out the cat that was on there. And then I found one of the cats I did last year that I liked. There’s the original drawing, obviously too big for this.

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Meanwhile. Dogs. Sigh. They need more people around them. I did throw things for them…not as much as usual, but a little.

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So I drew a new cat. Much better. And more realistic…

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Not that realism is what I’m usually going for. And then I drew a new baby.

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I think that’s much better. So then I numbered the whole thing…and there were only 200 pieces. Wow. Seriously. That’s doable. Even with all those tiny baby parts.

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So now I need to trace it on Wonder Under…but I also need to finish the owl first. So tonight, that’s what I’m going to do. Assuming I don’t fall asleep on the couch. I’m also going to try to get the coloring book into a final stage. Ugh.

So then what next? Well I had this other drawing, the one for the December deadline, and the cat had puked on part of it before I taped it together, so I didn’t know if I’d need to recopy part of it. So I was already standing and cutting and taping…why not keep going?

One of the problems with this drawing was that giant scary bird. That thing needed to go.

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So I taped the whole thing together, cutting out puked-on pieces of paper and giant scary-ass birds. And I got this.

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She’s not done. Obviously. Well, maybe to me. But if I feel like drawing, she’s there waiting for me.

So yeah. Gotta go deal with an early school meeting. And the aftermath of a local shooting that will hit national news…and rightfully so. Another WTF moment. I wish I could figure out what would fix all that crazy. I’m pretty sure we can’t just move all the clueless people who can’t see the light to an island somewhere. But I guess in El Cajon, you don’t call the police for help, unless you want to get shot. Sigh. Giant-ass sigh.

*The Animals, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood


This Is Heaven to No One Else but Me*

September 27, 2016

Still in that weird wiggle space in between projects. I managed to go enlarge a drawing I did a while back that was a pre-drawing for the bed project…

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It’s at 300%…the sheet is going to be a real sheet…which ought to be interesting, if she’s lying on it. I need to redraw baby. I need to probably redraw cat (although I might just use one of the drawings I did when I made all those cat quilts). I need to decide if it’s big enough. I can’t decide whether to go more life size or not. This is a bit smaller. Hopefully I will decide tonight. It might require me to open the cot back up.

Actually, that was the last thing I did last night…first I sewed on three quilt labels…well, I think I sewed one on the night before. Then I dehaired two of the quilts and cut slats and dowels and rolled them up and got them all ready to ship. Plus made labels for that and the boxes I’m sending to the kids. Kitten was not helpful.

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Then I came out and colored the cover for the coloring book…

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The point is not to color the whole thing. This is not my drawing…it’s Kathi McCord’s. She doesn’t have a website at the moment, but she draws awesomely. We picked her for the cover.

I was too lazy to get up and sharpen any of the pencils, so I only used stuff that had already been sharpened.

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Then I went back in the office and uploaded all the corrected pictures and the cover and it all checks out. So hopefully tonight I can figure out the last bit of it, the part where they actually MAKE the damn books. Plus I have two extra pages I can’t figure out how to get rid of, thanks to the damn template they gave me. Whatever. I’m looking forward to making my own version of a coloring book, if it turns out OK. I hope it turns out OK. It would suck if it doesn’t.

Anyway, there’s progress. I do need to do a ton of grading still (always), so I know that will be happening tonight as well. I do pay the price if I go all out on an art quilt for days on end. I need to find a balance, but always feel like it skews toward work more than art. Which sucks.

What I really want to do is draw. Huh. Time. Sigh.

*Sarah McLachlan, Elsewhere


I Slipped Away*

August 29, 2016

Every Sunday, I make a list of all the stuff that needs to be done to get me through the week: lunches, dinners, sometimes even breakfasts when I feel like I need control of that (this week? Yup.). Then there’s the stuff I have to prep for school: update the website, send out a parent email (those haven’t started yet), prep for the week, write warmups etc. I grade papers. Yesterday I even set up the gradebook, because that’s a thing. I grocery shop and run errands if I need to. Laundry. And then, sometime usually after dinner, I get to do what I want. It depends on how efficient I was during the rest of the day. Certainly I woke up yesterday with all of it weighing on me, and then I tried to book through as much of it as possible. I’m sure I forgot something, though.

But I did get to the cutting stage last night. I had to tire the puppy out first, so he wouldn’t try to help…

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I threw all the balls for him for a long time.

All the stuff I’d ironed last, all the tiny stuff in the brain cloud above her head, had to be cut out first. I don’t even cut out the tiniest of them, not until I’m ready to iron. But they were all small anyway.

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Doesn’t look like much, but it was about 150 pieces.

It got easier after that, bigger pieces that didn’t require tiny scissors…then medium-sized pieces that are the meat of the thing.

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I got through a good chunk of them, almost 3 hours of cutting, and surprisingly, my hand doesn’t hurt today. But there’s still a ton left. I didn’t even get to the flesh pieces. They’re all piled in the box in backwards order of when I ironed them. So all those inner body pieces, the hearts and lungs, that’s what I’m cutting out now. I’m always amazed that I can look at a little piece as I’m cutting it and know what it is…because they don’t really usually look like anything. But I drew that piece. And then I traced that piece. And then I cut it out of Wonder Under and ironed it to fabric, and now I’m cutting it out again. Somewhere my brain has an inventory of all those pieces, and it knows what each one is. Which explains why I can’t remember anything else some days.

I keep staring at the calendar and then the due dates, and getting a little hyperventilaty. No, that’s not a word. But it should be.

I think I can finish it, but I’m not sure. And there are two standing right on top of it when I finish.

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I didn’t mean to have so many due dates on top of each other. I’ve already ditched another one and revised one of the ones I can’t ditch. But that one got doubled up when I wasn’t looking. Long story. A collaboration I need to get started on…and then one I’m going to simplify…which is what this pre-drawing is for.

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I’m going to draw it bigger, but then I think I’m going to be taking some short cuts. Using a real sheet. Not quilting it maybe. I can quilt it later, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be quilted for this show. I need an old sheet first though. Thrift shop. No pattern, solid color, gray, blue, green, but muted. I think.

Anyway. The brain is working on it. The rest of the brain needs to get to school and figure out the teaching part. Which includes a 2-hour staff meeting after school. I wish they’d figure out that the second hour is a waste of time, because we are all completely checked out. I guess I can grade stuff. Then maybe I won’t have to do that tonight at home. Plan.

*Boston, More Than a Feeling (I never knew the words to this one…always thought it was “I see my derriere walking away.” Which makes no fucking sense, I know. But whatever.)


Just What I Needed*

August 22, 2016

So last Wednesday, Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of CraftSanity contacted me and asked if I’d do a podcast about what happened at AQS Grand Rapids. She’d seen the quilt earlier in the day and stared at it for a long time, and then saw later it had been pulled. She wanted to tell both sides of the story, but AQS officially has No Comment. So we recorded this podcast on CraftSanity. It’s long…but if you listen to it while piecing a quilt or doing some hand-sewing on a binding, well that would be awesome. Or if you want to know what happened, what the quilt is about, and what Jennifer and I hope will happen with the future of quilt shows, then have a listen. It might be NSFW or kids if you don’t want the words penis and vagina floating about. But otherwise, I put on my best teacher voice and didn’t use any swear words. I know, right? That’s a shocker.

Someone commented that the quilt with the imaginary penis was “odd and a little nasty.” I’m still thinking about this one. I will totally agree with odd. It is odd. Welcome to nightmares. But a little nasty? Like stepping on dog poop nasty? Or a little nasty like when you meet your husband at the door in that cute little lingerie thing? Or like porn? I just don’t get that one. Odd OK. Even creepy. Disturbing. Yes. Nasty? Eh.

Meanwhile, I’m still working on the next quilt. It’s on a pretty tight deadline and I have at least two to follow on equally tight deadlines. So I can’t really lie around and eat bonbons or whatever it is I’m supposed to do in between finishing one and starting the next. Plus with both kids gone, the house is very empty, and if I don’t want to have sad conversations in my brain, I have to give it something else to worry about…what colors to pick next? That’s a good choice.

I started ironing down on Friday night and did some on Saturday and Sunday. Not a lot, because I had a lot of other stuff to deal with, but some.

I had a pile of rocks to iron. So I laid out all the rock pieces in order, stared at the drawing, and tried to make logical decisions about what color for each one.

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At the end of Saturday, I’d gotten this much done…not a lot.

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I’d also photographed the owl on like 14 backgrounds so the commissioner could choose one. Turns out she wants to see them in person. No problem. I cannot argue with a trip to the quilt store.

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Sunday brought a lot of work and running around, but I managed to get in here and iron for over 3 hours…mostly at night.

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This is everything I’ve used so far…someone said something about recognizing stuff in my stash. I love that…walk past a quilt, especially an art quilt, and think “I have that fabric…” or what I usually think…”I have that fabric, but in a different colorway…”. For some reason, that’s usually the case. I picked the color no one else has. Or uses.

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I’m in the lower 300s, so really not a lot of progress, but the whole bottom water/land stuff and all the land going up each side, plus the boat, that’s all done. I stopped last night because I got to the first human figure, and with four of them stacked on each other, I’m going to have to carefully pick a range of flesh fabrics. That’s not something I should start at midnight before school on Monday.

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But this is a good place to be. Making stuff.

I also spent time yesterday working on the coloring book I’m managing for my feminist art group. Yup. We’re gonna publish a Feminist Artists Coloring Book. It will have three of my drawings, including this one…

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If you recognize it, that’s because it’s this quilt…

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Except I squished it slightly for the format of this book. My plan is to make a coloring book of just my stuff later this year. This is practice for that.

The cats have inhabited the boychild’s room…the towel is because of how long I had to spend last time getting Midnight’s hair off his chair. His chair that needs fixing because the motor is not working. I don’t know where to find a chair fixer person.

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Midnight does not care. It gives her more chair to hair.

And Kitten was checking out an alternate view (just down the hall from my office, where she lives).

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I’ll wash his bedding when the washing machine gets fixed. Right now it won’t take a large load.

So back to work today…but hopefully after dinner and dog walking, I will be able to get a significant portion of the ironing done. Well. You know. As much as I can on a school night. Guess I’m gonna have to revise my schedule. Aack. Because I really can’t! Deep breaths. It will get done.

*The Cars, Just What I Needed


There Was No Penis.

August 14, 2016

So. To clarify. There isn’t an actual penis in this quilt. Surely there are other things people could freak out about, but not a penis. So my quilt was pulled from AQS Grand Rapids because of something That Is Not Actually THERE. Yup. That’s something to be significantly irritated about. No number of cover-ups would help, because it’s just not fucking there.

I’d like to thank my readers for bringing up two penile possibilities though. First, here’s the full quilt again, for those who had a blessedly relaxing Saturday without staring at blogs or Facebook (good on you!).

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This quilt is I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket, completed in September 2010, touring with the People and Portraits exhibit since October 2013. The title comes from a radio ad I was listening to while pondering the meaning of this quilt, which came almost entirely out of a running nightmare I had for over a week, where I was losing things in the water and people were standing around not helping, and I was diving down and trying to find the things I lost, which ranged from my phone to babies, actual babies, and I’d wake up panicked and breathing fast. Here’s the official statement (which I found very difficult to write…almost as difficult to explain the piece)…

Two sisters in a strange land.
A lost life jacket.
A nasty oil spill.
No explanation needed.

My dream inhabited by strangers.

So first of all, the two people in the water are sisters. I have been told the one on the right reads as a male. OK. I don’t really mind when people interpret my work. I put it out there and sometimes there’s a clear message and sometimes there’s not. It’s a surreal collection of crap that inhabited my head. This is one of those. It’s not the first one and it won’t be the last. Take from it what you will.

I started with a bunch of smaller drawings of pieces of the nightmare…done mostly while waiting for dinner at a restaurant. The woman giving birth (except no umbilical cord in this one…think this was more about the losing a baby into the water)…

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The sister on the left in a larger drawing…

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Which in the redraw, became this (the one from which I made the quilt)…

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See any penises? No. You don’t.

This was the whole original drawing…I hated the figures on the right…but it was a start.

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This was one of the pre-drawings as well…I still like this one.

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Oh wait…there’s a shadow…under a hand. Keep that in your head…

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Here was the full sketchbook drawing for the quilt…then I enlarged it and added to the side and bottom. I don’t honestly know why…but I can check my weekly art journal for that time period.

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All it says is that I enlarged it and added stuff to bottom and right side, finished drawing in late June 2010, 1300+ pieces in it. I liked having a big piece to work on over the summer back then (well, I still do, but I’m more likely to work on big pieces all year round now). So yeah. Started drawing in May…dreaming in May…drawing done in June, quilt done in September.

So some people thought the umbilical cord on the woman/baby in the background might have been seen as a (really long, bendy) penis (that just happened to be attached to a baby’s bellybutton and in a woman’s vagina).

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Nope. Just gonna tell her the truth. That’s not a penis. It’s a baby. Yes, some babies have penises, but they’re not long and curly and in a mother’s vagina. Seriously. Some people have criticized sex education in Michigan. OK. But I think the show folks could help the penis-imaginer with her understanding.

This is the figure some have called male (I guess because no obvious girly curves?). And someone mentioned the shadow under the hands as possibly being interpreted as a penis…

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So below on the left, under the hands, you can see the shadowy bit…on the right, I outlined the entire shadow to show that is certainly not even penis-shaped. Again, something show organizers could have pointed out and/or realized.

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Seriously though, if I’m going to put a penis in a quilt, it’s gonna be pretty obvious…like in Work in Progress

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Look. It’s a penis. Clearly. I even put a red arrow pointing at it so you would not miss it.

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Some people like to accuse me of wanting attention or making art for shock value. I really don’t. I just draw. And then I make quilts out of some of them. I don’t think about what all y’all are gonna think when you see it. The making is not about you. And no, I don’t do pretty landscapes. I do stuff that’s a reaction to what’s in my head, what I dreamed about, what’s out in the world. I’m not scared or shocked by nudity and it often confuses me when other people are.

And then some people tell me to ignore the naysayers, the critics, the censors, the quilt police…but here’s the problem with ignoring it. It Doesn’t Stop. It Doesn’t Go Away. I want to live in a world where I don’t have to worry about what’s in my art because someone might be offended or censor me. Because I’m truly tired of that. I did worry a bit when they told me this exhibit was doing the AQS circuit, because that’s quilt shows. And I don’t really enter quilt shows any more because of this shit. Often when I enter a show, I don’t even know where the piece will travel. And sometimes, because I’m oldish (not really old yet, but older than I was when I started making art), I do consider just holing up, being even more of a hermit and introvert than I already have become, and ignoring everyone. But it’s not in my nature to ignore stupidity and ignorance and censorship. It’s in my nature to be the person that stands up and yells about it. Because I want it to stop for everyone. My kids. Younger artists. All of us. I don’t want to be 90 years old and still getting frustrated over this shit. I want the world to be a more accepting and tolerant place than it is right now, and it doesn’t feel that way AT ALL.

So that’s where I’m at. Surely I won’t stop making and exhibiting quilts. I even have a grand idea for a penis quilt now. You’ll laugh. Seriously. But in reality, I have a whole ‘nother quilt in process right now, school starts tomorrow, and I’m still pissed off and frustrated, but it won’t stop me. I just want AQS to realize that it was a stupid thing they did and they need to either stand up for the special exhibits in their shows or get out of the art-quilt world. I can’t change the mind of that woman who imagined a penis. I just wish the show organizers had handled it in a mature and reasonable way. They didn’t.

And here’s the thing…this is the quilt that was hanging next to it…Fully Medicated

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And that is a seriously large vulva…

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With a snake peeking out above it. And that didn’t put her panties in a wad.

Walk by it people. If you don’t like it, if it makes your heart flutter in a bad way, if you feel a need to call Fox News, just walk the fuck on by. It’s what I do when I see your bad compositions and copies of things that are overdone already and crappy color choices. I walk the fuck on by.

Still pissed. But it’s OK. It’s not going to stop me.


Just a Funky Old Shack and I Gotta Get Back*

August 11, 2016

Funny, I thought yesterday would be all about getting art done, and in reality, I got nothing done…well, except delivering three quilts for photography. That’s all. Some school stuff, lots of errands, some hanging out (not a bad thing). So today, I’m hunkering down at the light table and tracing for hours. Seriously. I am.

Part of yesterday was trying to get ready for school, so trips to Costco for toilet paper and paper towels, so I won’t have to think about that. I still need to go to the pet store…same deal, stock up on food so I don’t have to think about it for a while. I’m fully aware of how much school takes over my life in about a week. About how little brainpower I’ll have for everything else. It sucks, but it’s better to accept it and be prepared, best you can. Honestly, I should be stockpiling frozen meals in the freezer. That would be smart.

I forgot that I drew at girlchild’s birthday dinner…

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Until I got told I was being antisocial. Sigh. I think I was peopled out at that point. I am truly an introvert.

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We bought Calli a new bed, because hers is unbearably lumpy and she’s old and needs no lumps. Then Simba wanted to try it…he’s a little scared of Calli, because she schools him when he’s being an asshole. So he’s blurry because he keeps looking back at her, like is this OK? And she’s not sure about it either. Maybe when it’s cold in winter they will feel differently about it.

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And girlchild is realizing she’s leaving the animals behind again.

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So I’m not spending a lot of time writing today…I’m going right over to the light table. Because deadlines. And time is short.

*B-52’s, Love Shack


I’m Breathing in the Chemicals*

August 8, 2016

Hello morning. Earlier than usual. Have to leave for school in a few…still planning science today. And trying to figure out my classroom. Mostly I just walk in and go Oh Shit and then start moving stuff around a bit. I always feel bad because other people spend more time in their rooms rearranging stuff and doing new things they found on Pinterest, and I’m trying to go as fast as possible, so I can get back to my sewing. Oh well.

So in awesome sauce news, I’m done quilting. Twenty-two hours plus of quilting, in case you were wondering. In fact, Saturday evening, I had a time I had to be out of the house, and this is how much was left…

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It took me a whole 3.2 minutes to finish quilting that on Sunday. But yeah.

Here was my trusty companion, randomly typing shit with her head and hitting Like and Dislike indiscriminately on my Pandora station.

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I spent the evening watching a band and taking on my persona of Draws in Bars.

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It either freaks out or endears me to waitresses. This one was so serious (the waitress, not the drawing), but wanted to have a discussion about art and her uncle and then took good care of me all night. So it works! I did another drawing…forgot to photograph it. It wasn’t that good…and because people showed up, I didn’t finish this one until later…

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And maybe it’s not finished. I like it though.

Sunday was nice…although knowing there is only one Sunday left of “vacation” (in quotes because I am at school at least twice this week, despite not officially being back yet), and the girlchild will be gone by then. Some animals know how to Sunday though, even if I don’t.

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So I finished quilting and trimmed the quilt…huge motherfucker.

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She quilted easily, nice and flat for once. I’ve been fighting some of the last big ones in the flatness category.

Went and bought binding…ONLY binding. Nothing else. It helped that I had the girlchild with me and some time constraints. Got the binding stitched down last night…

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And then settled down on the couch for the hand sewing. I tell you, I’ve been looking forward to this part. Just relaxing and stitching and watching some TV for a while. Kitten follows me wherever I go.

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Kitten is lying on the next quilt (well, it’s a numbered drawing anyway).

There’s the back and the sleeves. In over an hour of hand-stitching, though, I didn’t even make it all the way down one long side.

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It was already late and I knew I had to be up early. So there will be more tonight. I should email the photographer…finally. A finish. No panicking on the other stuff that needs doing. Really. Seriously. I should be panicking. About all of it. Quilts, school, losing the kids to college again, money, dogs. Aack. There’s so much I never ever get done.

But I guess you can see my priorities. Spending time with people when I feel like it (probably should do more of that), lots of art and animals and even hiking when I can. It’s not a bad life…just a bit too stressful and work-oriented some days. I’ve held the goal of Art Everyday for the last couple of years now and I don’t suspect I’ll be letting that go anytime soon. It’s where my head needs to be.

Unfortunately, my body needs to hightail it to school now. Keeping life balance in mind…biggest thing in most teachers’ minds right now.

*Imagine Dragons, Radioactive