Stay Wilder Than the Wind*

September 16, 2017

Late writing today…not because I slept all day…ah ah aha ha ha ha. OK. Teacher humor. But yeah, I’ve put in a few hours of grading today already…trying to free up my evening for artmaking…which in this case is really just hours of scissoring. With scissors. Just to be clear.

But I do like the school days when I get to do art as well…so yesterday was the start of a new unit, so I did my cover page…

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I like it better than last year’s…mostly because it’s missing last year’s mistake. So yeah, I got to color on Friday. For my job. That’s awesome.

Which is good, because that was really all the artmaking that happened, being gaming night. I’m training to do runes…but I need a hammer and a ton of money.

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A late-night trip to the grocery store…this never makes me feel safe…

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I finished the block on the left…block 15? I think? While gaming. And started on the elephants. It took me about halfway around the baby elephant to remember how to do coral stitch…the book I use is usually quite good, but for some reason, I couldn’t figure this one out until I looked it up online and then went…OOOoohhh…that makes more sense…

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This morning started with some school work…grading of course…but then a 3-mile hike with the dogs…and a random coyote who was quite vocal and nerve-wracking…and then gave up and went to sleep.

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Tired the damn dogs out at least.

I had been looking at Blocks 15 and 16 and trying to figure out how I was supposed to sew this moon thing on…oh yeah. Sew the damn blocks together. So I did. This is Blocks 4 and 5 sewn to 9 and 10 sewn to 15 and 16. I think. That doesn’t make sense though numberwise. Something like that. I realized after that I should have trimmed them before I sewed.

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That’s some crooked elephant stuff down there. I’ll figure it out…don’t worry. But it’s looking pretty good so far.

Kitten has decided the dog bed is the right size for her…and she’s pushed the blinds to the side for a kitten-sized window out to look at the front yard…mostly at the bunnies.

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She’s still not comfortable coming out here by herself with Satchemo in the house, but both of them were on the bed this morning. Only a little hissing happened. It’s a VERY slow process that involves a lot of petting and treats.

Anyway, I’m grading (and cleaning house a bit) for the next two hours, and then dinner plus artmaking afterwards. That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see how it goes in reality.

*Duran Duran, Come Undone

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A Good Place to Be…

August 25, 2017

Well yesterday I managed to post my blog in the wrong place, but then fixed it. And then lost my keys. Or couldn’t find them. For long enough that I thought I might not make it to work. I “lost” my purse too, but since I knew I brought it out of the dentist with me, I assumed (correctly) that it was in the car. I did eventually find my keys and make it to work in 7 minutes flat (yikes…you can’t really be late when you’re a teacher), but it threw me for the rest of the day. Honestly, I don’t know where my keys are now either, but I usually drop them in the same two places every day, so they’re probably there. I hope. Unless the beginning-of-the-school-year brain did something crazy with them.

I’ve been misplacing a lot of things lately…too much chaos. That’s one of my goals for today at school: control the chaos. I have too many piles and pieces of paper. I need to get those organized and handled. What’s on the counter reflects into the brain. I’ve never been a particularly neat person, but generally I know where shit is. Organization doesn’t have to be neat by the way. I get nervous in houses and rooms that are totally and completely neat and minimalist and put away. Which is funny, because people generally clean up before you show up…but that’s not always who they really are. I can never get really truly clean and put away. I try. That’s all I can say. And no, I never volunteer my house for meetings. That would be crazy.

So I draw in class. We do cover pages for each unit and mine are generally a little crazy because I’m trying to get kids to think about what we’ll be studying and go outside the box. Plus I guess it’s another intro to their teacher. So this is Unit 1…

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It’s basically the nature of science, how we explore and figure stuff out etc. The kids told me to put a student under the desk with stuff dripping on them…and then I added the wing mutation.

I always try to toss female scientists into the mix, so the girls get into their head that they can be a scientist. I tell them about my Physics teacher too, the one who basically thought girls couldn’t science and turned me off it.

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Plus we’ve already done some days about safety in the lab, so it’s good to reiterate those things. I think it turned out pretty well.

I have to admit to not having a ton of energy when I get home right now. Girlchild reminds me that it will get better…that the first full week or two is really hard. Yup. It is. But if you think I’m always go go go…nah. I stop on the couch and barely move sometimes for like an hour or more before I find the energy to get up and do stuff. And then I get up, because just sitting on the couch is boring honestly.

So I forgot to do this the night before, so there are two night’s worth on here…

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Stems and leaves on the roses…

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And the sheaf stitch…totally forgot about that one.

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That’s why I have so many stitch books…to remind me that stitches exist…brain extension.

So I started tracing around 9 or so and worked for almost 3 hours…

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It’s really boring to just post pictures of what I traced. I think. Maybe you’re inordinately interested. I have I think 5 yards I’m working on right now…

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I quit right before having to cut yard number 6…because there was a long piece that wouldn’t fit on the Wonder Under I already had cut. So I’m on piece 555 with about 7 hours into the tracing. More than halfway done…but no way am I gonna finish tonight. Maybe tomorrow? It depends. I’m already really tired and I have a show to go to tonight…so the odds of my being up early tomorrow are pretty low unfortunately. And I’m still trying to get on a good gym schedule, to make it routine again. It’s hard to do when you’re tired, but it’s important. So that’s tomorrow as well.

Anyway. I have plans for getting organized at school, maybe walking the dog this afternoon, since he’ll be on his own tonight, and finishing the tracing sometime this weekend (ha ha ha…because this weekend is kind of a mess for that). Hopefully I can get it all cut out next week and then start ironing over the 3-day weekend? That would be cool…sounds like a nice way to spend a long weekend. A breakfast out, maybe a walk somewhere with the dogs, and then some ironing. OK, I know that sounds weird to most people, but I really love the part where I’m picking out fabrics. It’s very relaxing and meditative. A good place to be…


I’m a Challenge to Your Balance*

August 24, 2017

I’m starting to get caught up with some stuff. That’s good. Nothing to check off the to-do list really. I admitted to the girlchild last night that I had just shoved some stuff in her room because it was more than I could handle…this as she’s showing me her dorm room…where she’s shoved everything into the corner. Yeah. So there we are. I’ll have to deal with it before she comes home in December, but I don’t need to be looking at it every day and stressing out about it. Maybe pick a day when I don’t come home after 6 PM because the dentist couldn’t make the filling fit. Sigh. My poor mouth.

I did clean some stuff yesterday, and then I tried to box up some of the older books and I couldn’t. My family is made up of bookaholics. I figure if I’m getting that much resistance to what I’m trying to do that there’s a reason for it. And maybe it’s not worth fighting it. I mean, cleaning the garage? Lots of resistance for that. Still needed to be done. But old Kipling and Stevenson books? They are not the problem. I don’t buy a lot of new books these days…mostly check them out from the library. So I’m trying not to add to the problem. I did actually get rid of some books. Like what do you do with the books that you tore apart for an art project? They’re missing pages? (I recycled them…but it took me a year to figure that out.)

Anyway. I try. That’s all I can say.

That’s what I said last night when I finally cooked my dinner at 8 PM or so. I forgot to do my daily stitching until almost midnight, and then I decided peeing the dogs and going to bed was more important. So it didn’t happen.

But I did trace stuff…not for a super long time, but you know, it just takes a little time every day to make art. I like it better if it’s at least an hour, but 30 minutes is good too. Just do it though.

All I’m doing at the moment is tracing Wonder Under…it pretty much looks the same to you guys every day…but I can tell the difference between tracing huge base pieces to tiny background stuff. I was wrong yesterday about being almost to tracing the head. I had to do the other arm and the three octopus tentacles coming off of it first…and that was a lot more pieces than you would think.

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So I’m still on the female figure…I made it to her neck, finished that (also had more pieces than you would think). So tonight I can start with the chin.

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Because I tried to keep this thing simple, it’s meant drawing fairly large pieces on Wonder Under. I have four yards out, because I keep needing a big section for a large piece, so I cut a new one and then try to fill in the old one with all the tiny pieces. At some point, I remind myself that this stuff only costs $3 a yard and I always buy it on sale. It’s not the end of the world if I throw some of it away. Although then the environmentally responsible part of me gets irritated with me. That part also doesn’t like disposable floss things (although it’s the only way I can floss parts of my mouth…gag reflex) or my new diabetes pokey thing (it’s really wasteful, with a new set of pieces each time I poke).

Then again, making art is almost always going to be somewhat environmentally troublesome. Unless you’re just using the stuff you found outside and you don’t disturb a living organism’s environment by making it. So. I try to reduce my impact, but I am not great at it.

I forgot these two art-related things. Catherine Segura of CAS Photography took this awesome picture of Sonya Sparks, owner of Sparks Gallery, and my quilt is on the wall. It even looks good in black and white…Segura specializes in tintype photography…so this is over a 10-second time period…Sparks sits still but my quilt is apparently moving. OK, not really. But a great photo…

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And this was my staff meeting drawing earlier this week…

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It’s got some environmental stuff going on right there…

*Natalie Merchant, Wonder


There Is Still a Chance That They Will See*

August 21, 2017

Well I’m staring out at a cloudy sky that will probably clear by 10:23 AM, but it won’t matter, because our school district is not letting kids leave the classroom for the eclipse. It’s also not letting the teachers leave, which I find irritating (although I guess understandable). I teach science, but we can’t actually experience this part of it. Wait until they find out we do labs in the classroom. They’ll pull that as well, citing liability. I hope wherever you are that you get to go out and see it without burning your retinas. I’m trying to figure out how I can see it…and yes, I know there are live feeds, but how do you get kids to believe in science in a video when so much video is made up and contrived. Faked. Sigh. Frustrating day.

In the not-frustrating part of my life, I finished the drawing yesterday. In the long run, I think it turned out the way I wanted. I think. We’ll see.

Lots of doggy play these days with only me to entertain them after school…

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So I did a little over an hour of drawing on Friday night, after a bunch of work stuff got done. I really tried to keep it simple (don’t look at the heart when you hear me say that)…

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On Saturday, I did another two hours. This hand had to go over an arm that was already drawn…hence the white out. It happens. These are working drawings…

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Again, trying to decide how to put the message in there.

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I’ve been avoiding these spiders in my yard for weeks now…there had to be one in the drawing…

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This was last night, while trying to meditate. He’s not particularly helpful with that.

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I did two nights in here…more feather stitch in green in the bottom left, plus lazy daisies. I think Saturday was the blue French knots in the top feather stitch. Not sure.

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Midnight is very judgmental sometimes…

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So then last night I did another hour…

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And finished it…

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It’s not small. That’s why I was worried about time and number of pieces. Keep it simple.

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OK, there’s nothing simple about his back…

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Or the chalkboard behind her head…

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Almost 5 hours into the drawing full size…there was more time in drawing the two starter heads, but I don’t usually keep track of that because so many of those drawings don’t become a finished piece.

Then I spent about an hour numbering it…

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Good news, though…it only has 800 and something pieces. Fewer than the last one. It’s about 50″ square I think…maybe a little bigger than that. Tonight I start tracing Wonder Under. I actually have a decent amount of time to finish this…but I say that while knocking on wood, because y’all know how plans go, right? OK. Well. I can probably finish tracing it this week…maybe. We’ll see. It was hard to keep the recent events with the Alt Right and protests out of this, because it’s not really about that. It creeps in, though, and that’s hard. So many things to not stress about…hence the meditation. Tonight I’m going to try the other type of meditation…the one with dogs on a leash and outside in nature.

*The Beatles, Let It Be


Now War Is Declared, and Battle Come Down*

August 19, 2017

First Saturday attempt to sleep in after school officially starts. Pseudo fail. Puppy bark. Cats cleaning butts. Neighbors banging doors. Today’s list is a mile long. That’s what got me out of bed…the to-do list. What’s new?

I had some serious artbrain meltdown last night. I’m still not sure I’m past it. This drawing is just so difficult. I often work in symbols or metaphors. I don’t always draw an actual event, but sometimes the effects of the event, or I hide the issues in tattoos or the objects someone holds or wears. It’s easy enough to tell a story with words, but I also tell them with pictures. This story is so easy to tell with words…it’s one most of us teachers know at the moment, but it’s harder to show. But I’m trying. I don’t know if I’m happy with it though. I almost pulled the whole thing apart last night and started over. That’s rare. But it wasn’t working.

I did this first…played ball until they were both tired…

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Then I did a green feather stitch over the orange one in the bottom left…

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And all that was after working on school stuff for about 2 hours, finding all the student photos and trying to print them and going to buy a new color ink cartridge and I still need to print the damn things.

Finally, after all that, I stood up (feet recovered…I think I need new shoes. My arches are killing me by the end of the day) and headed to the drawing. This is near the end…the wine didn’t come out until after 11:30 PM. I did a bunch of stuff in pencil before going to ink, which was good, because I changed my mind about three thousand times.

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Pencil first, vague lines showing where shit should go. I don’t use pencil most of the time. But this thing isn’t fully coalesced in my head, so I have to see it somewhere first. This is probably how most people draw.

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Then ink. I’m trying to keep it simple. It’s big. It can’t be super complicated. I won’t get it done in time.

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Says the woman who just drew octopus tentacles.

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I didn’t want to fight violence with violence. I write that as my daughter is considering going to the protests in Boston. One part of me wants to tell her not to go, but I’m fully aware that we need to stand up and not be afraid in the face of this crazy shit that’s happening. If I were the mother of a child of color, I would be terrified all the time of sending my child out in the world. As a mother of a white kid, I still get scared…they’re adults, but I worry about them. But they have privilege; this means they and I have to be willing to stand up against all the racist, sexist, and what’s the word for being anti-religions that aren’t your own? All that. So I tell her to be safe, stay with a big group, stay away from cars. Stop drop and roll. Whatever. Because it’s not a safe world we live in and we want it to be better for everyone. Even the dumbasses who think fascism and terrorism are acceptable. Maybe if enough faces are staring back at them that mirror their own, without the anger against others, maybe then some part of their brains will start to turn against what’s in there right now, stop blaming others for their lives not being golden and amazing. I know that’s unlikely. There’s no magic answer.

So octopus tentacles. Nature fights back. Symbols. I won’t shoot. I won’t pick up a gun. I won’t lynch someone or kick them out of the country or tie them up or drag them behind a car or mow them down with one. I won’t fight a war. I won’t launch a nuclear missile. I won’t hit or kick or punch. I say that, but if someone were coming after my students…I would. I’d throw things at them. I’d trip them up. I’d bodyslam them. So there’s that.

Anyway. More of the drawing today, I hope. I really am hoping that when it’s all done, it’s what I want. It will work. If not, maybe I will start again. It’s rare that I do that at this stage, the full-size drawing stage…but I do redraw at the smaller stage pretty often. We’ll see.

*The Clash, London Calling


Shed Our Skin*

August 17, 2017

The first day of school is always exhausting, even when you don’t talk as much as you used to. Really. I try to talk way less than I used to. They don’t need to hear me all the time. They need space to hear what’s in their own heads and process it. I also got the opportunity to hear what they thought a good science teacher was…interesting. It gave me the opportunity to tell them that HELP doesn’t mean giving them the answers. It’s good that they’re hearing that on the first day.

I’m having to adjust my eating schedule to my new prep period, which is proving difficult. I think I’ll get used to it eventually, but I’m not there yet. And honestly, the real test is today, when I’m too tired and nauseous in the morning to want to eat a decent breakfast. I won’t make it to lunchtime if I don’t eat, but I don’t want anything right now. I will figure it out. Just not this morning (why I buy a few Evol breakfast things for the freezer…I’ll take it with me and hopefully be able to stomach it before the bell rings).

I managed to remember to bring my sketchbook with me to school, though…not so I could draw naked things during my prep (although I had a year when I did that, because everything else was so painful and I needed a place to park the depressive thoughts midday)…but so I could go enlarge the drawing of the head. Normally I do 250-300%, but this is already big, so I went for 200% instead. I copied the meditation angel that I finished as well, but I don’t know when I’ll have time to work on it.

When I got home, I succumbed to exhaustion. Even napped for the requisite 20 minutes (I was reading and fell asleep…I never used to fall asleep while reading. Proof of aging.). Literally couldn’t barely move off the couch for about 2 1/2 hours. It’s OK. It gets better. I just tell you that because of all the people who think I work relentless hours. Well maybe, but I have my exhausted moments too. It takes will power to get off the couch and work at 9 PM.

I finally ate dinner (hallelujah for leftovers) and was able to stand up and cut shit out. Actually, I did this first…

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Orange feather stitch on the bottom left.

Then I took Tuesday night’s drawing and attached it to the drawing from early summer.

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I got rid of the other incorrect bullet. I also started adding paper around the two pieces for what I’m seeing in my head. I don’t want her to be too huge or I won’t be able to finish her. I don’t want to talk about what I’m thinking yet either. This is a difficult concept for me to make obvious in a drawing. In fact, it may not end up being obvious at all. But I know what’s in my head and ideas are now trickling in about how to make it. It even has a title already. But not sharing yet. Still drawing. Probably will be for a few more days. Being tired doesn’t help. More standing after standing all day. Anyway. The hardest part is that the drawing is emotionally difficult, and then I’ve been watching all these British dramas that are kind of dark and difficult as well.

I guess it’s difficult times in which we live. Not as difficult as say the Dark Ages, but still. Not sure Netflix helps…binge watching is not always a good thing.

Calli sleeps through it all. She occasionally comes over and noses me for attention. Simba sleeps right next to me when I take breaks on the couch (feet hurt). Midnight too. Kitten was antisocial last night. Not sure why.

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I’m feeling kinda lost by the kids being gone. I know they’ll be back in 124 days or so though (ah, apps…there is no mystery any more, is there?). But I miss them. And at some point, they won’t come back. That’s hard to think about.

I need to be finishing up the house tasks that didn’t get done over the summer (there are always many of them), but there’s no energy for that this week. Maybe Saturday. You know it’s bad when you can’t even pick up a needle or a pen. Well, for me, that’s really bad. I don’t just sit and watch TV unless I’m sick or exhausted.

Better next week. It will be.

*Ivy, Edge of the Ocean


Both of Us Searching for Some Perfect World*

August 16, 2017

Today is the official start of the school year…you know, the part where you realize on the first day that (a) you are woefully unprepared, even after 14+ years of teaching and (b) that kid who is already annoying will never ever ever be absent. I met and freaked out my first student yesterday. He shook my hand. That’s nice. No really, it is. In general, I really like my students, even the truly annoying ones. When they ask if I missed them, I say “Every day.” Well. Not for all of them. I am brutally honest with some of them, but once they’ve been with me all year, they would expect nothing less. But today…today I just mispronounce about 140 names and try to start memorizing faces. Honestly, though, if I remember a kid’s name on the first day, they were highly notable in one of a few ways, none of them probably good. I do forget them over time, though. I always tell the kids there will be someone else like them in the next year, so one of my old students that showed up yesterday wants me to introduce her to The New Her. Because she thinks they can be friends. I love that. Not upset that she’s not supremely unique…just wants to make friends with herself.

Anyway, we try to start every year with the right positive mindset, to make sure the stuff that always drives us bonkers won’t do that this year (ever hopeful)…meditation and mindfulness has been incredibly helpful with this, although I still honestly suck at it, I think.

I did good yesterday. My room is mostly done…

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I’ve got more fussy bits to do, adding pictures and putting labels on folders. Fun stuff.

And then I went to pick up my quilt from the photographer…I’m still debating the name.

Fiber Artist Kathy Nida

As always, they’re better in person.

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What’s also better is finishing it three weeks before the deadline…

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Mostly because there’s a deadline right after it…

Fiber Artist Kathy Nida

It’s the smallest and least complicated quilt I’ve made in many a summer. Evidence that the summer was large and complicated.

Made dinner and did two nights’ worth on this…the green feather stitch and red double lazy daisies on the top.

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With both kids gone, I have a lot of animal interaction…

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She knocks everything else off, but generally leaves my teacup alone.

So I have the next deadline. The drawing has one part done. It’s been enlarged and has been sitting around since the beginning of summer, I think. Not that it’s done any good, because honestly, I just throw a bunch of images and shapes and ideas around in my head until it all makes sense. Sometimes I do a bunch of preliminary drawings, just to figure out where my head is going. But last night, I finally sat down with one of the many images in my head and started drawing.

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I got schooled in bullet shape post-shooting, which is fine. I’m actually OK with not knowing what they look like afterwards, but I did change them for the drawing.

This cat has partied too hard.

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And I got to here. I need to enlarge it and combine it with the other piece to figure out what else is going on.

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But by the time I got to that point, the copy place was about to close. I knew I couldn’t get there in time, so I’ll do that after school. The post-it has ideas for what else needs to be on there. Now that I have this, I can try some other stuff out in my head.

So it wasn’t bedtime yet…and this drawing wasn’t done. I think it is now…

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I like how it turned out. She’s way mellower than I feel. Then again, she’s not starting the first day of school in an hour. So hopefully I’ll be drawing again tonight. That’s not a bad place to be.

*Thompson Twins, Hold Me Now