That’s When the Energy Comes*

June 21, 2018

OK. The animals are starting to get a clue that mom doesn’t budge in the morning until later. That mornings are longer than they used to be. That’s a good sign, because it’s the first summer in a long time that someone else gets up early (and wakes them all up) and I still need to be asleep. It seems fair…I’m going to sleep like way later (still) and my body doesn’t actually have to be up at 6:30 in the morning. Those who work with me know that I am not a morning person. I can do it, but don’t talk to me. I don’t wanna talk. Chat. Trade niceties. I want silence until I’m ready. I will however totally have a conversation with you at midnight about the motivations of the characters in The Handmaid’s Tale. You don’t want that? OK. Well then. That’s what my late-night texting friends are for.

Now my brain takes a lot longer to get functional. I’m really trying to hit relaxation mode…the place you have to be in order to recover from the school year so you can teach the next one. I met with my co-teacher yesterday to try to plan next year (another mess of reordering units and tightening some and adding to others…this is year 3 of new standards…maybe we’ll finally have it?). I now have 17.000 more things to think about. Whoops. I think we’re just going to plan the first unit and then be done with it. Hopefully I won’t have jury duty some Monday or Friday in early July and we’ll be able to pull that off. First we need a place with free wifi, beverage service, A/C, and bigger tables than a Starbucks. Preferably at the midpoint between where we each live. I’m sure there’s a solution…I just don’t know what it is yet.

Meanwhile, I didn’t have a lot planned yesterday. I could have done some things, but apparently school planning sucks your brain out. So I did a lot of sitting on the couch, binge-watching Doc Martin (which now I have to find elsewhere, because Netflix is not getting the current seasons…although some part of me is significantly annoyed by the series and doesn’t know if I want to watch it anyway.), and trying to just keep my hands busy. So more of sewing these bits down…

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Because it’s totally brainless and yet I’m achieving something. I’ve thought about drawing like every day for the last 5 days, and I can’t get there. I’m aiming for it. Maybe today? Just sit on the deck with a beverage of choice and some music and just draw. What will be my epic quilt this summer? What deadlines am I actually going to take on? When will I get my act together? Why don’t I just accept that the first week of summer is always a lost one? Anyway, almost all the things are sewn down on that month. I think I have to sew blocks together for the next month…and it’s easier to embellish on smaller pieces than big ones…so I’ll have to think that through.

Meanwhile, so I have to try a new diabetes medication. I’ve been diabetic for 16 years now and my control is iffy at the moment. I need more exercise. I need more time to exercise. And I suspect menopause (which is still not totally a thing here, unfortunately) is messing with blood sugar etc. So I agreed to try the new medication, even after last year’s clusterfuck. She suggested one and I immediately Googled it and found a similar side effect to last year’s, so we rejected that one. This one does not have that side effect, but it does mean injections. Sigh. This disease sucks. So those were delivered yesterday. I have to do everything mail order that’s a long-term prescription, so I get this huge heavy box…

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This is so annoying though…I really am trying to reduce my footprint. I’ve been cutting back on using plastic, recycling more, trying to keep plastics out of the house. Now I have a huge styrofoam box coming every three months that is almost filled with ice packs. Plastic ice packs. Which apparently I can’t return to them to be reused.

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So they just get thrown out? There has to be a better way. This is such a waste. Plus the injection equipment, single-use. So annoying. So don’t get sick! There’s so much waste in medical stuff…and yeah, I know it’s better than passing on disease and infection, but it’s still hard to stomach.

This was on the way back to my car yesterday. Impressive…

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Next Saturday, the 30th, my cohabitant here will be playing at Nicky Rottens with his cover band, the Radio Thieves. Their lead singer likes to make funky retro record covers…

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I’ll be there with my sketchbook and a table…maybe I’ll be relaxed by then.

I’m still embellishing balls. I did four last night…stepping up the pace!

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And then I finished cutting all these out, which means I can start ironing things together tonight. That’s the fun part…when the image starts to show up.

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It took a little over 10 hours to cut them all out. It’ll probably take 15 or so to iron it together…

This is Calli…she wants her morning meds. She thinks it’s a treat, but it’s really just arthritis stuff. She’s a good girl.

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This one, Simba, wants to lie around in the sun. I should probably walk them sometime today.

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After I get my hairs cut. Might be drastic, might not. You never know. I kinda want to color it too. Maybe this is just a ruse to get out of jury duty (is purple hair a good excuse?)…or maybe I’m just tired of having the same haircut for a million years.

One of the things I track is how many hours I spend each month (week?) making art…the stuff that I track (which doesn’t include drawing or any of the hobby embroidery). In the last month, I’ve only done 36 hours of artmaking…less than 10 hours a week (that’s grading and being sick for you)…the month before, which included teaching fulltime, I managed 75 hours (almost 19 hours a week, on top of working 50 hours or more a week). Kind of crazy that. With no actual day job at the moment, I should be able to do 50 hours a week of artwork. Hear that, brain? I know. I’m giving you a break right now. You need it.

*Sarah McLachlan, Building a Mystery

Everything’s Gonna Be Fine One Day*

June 19, 2018

Yesterday was a bit of a disaster. Two different things needed rescheduling. Dear insurance companies…your year plus one day policies are screwing me over this year with July being a no-fly zone. Seriously. At some point, I’ll just have to skip a year on everything so I can restart at the end of June and use the whole summer again. I’m not sure why a week’s leeway on each side couldn’t be a thing. Sure, after 52 years, I might have used one extra exam in there, but that seems reasonable. Much more reasonable than having to mess with avoiding an entire month. Anyway. I did get some stuff done, like a lot of sweeping of leaves was accomplished. I’m using all of it as compost, so it got placed. I have some I still need to collect. That’s later today…after the three (hopefully successful) appointments today. Although one will probably require another appointment. And we already know how that might go…frustrating!

I’m still waking up with these incredibly bad headaches. I need a solution…I don’t know if it’s still the vaccine or not. The tail end of the rash is still here.

I’m going to have to finish this later…need to take dogs to the vet. Fun stuff.

All right, two dogs through the vet experience…not so fun…but now onto the rest of the day. I went to school yesterday to try to rescue the food and milk out of the fridge…but they’d already locked the prep room so even I can’t get in. These sunflowers are courtesy of our tiny school garden.

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I’m going back today to see if the custodial supervisor can open the prep room up. I really don’t want to come back after 8 weeks to see what might be growing in there.

I’ve started the embellishment on the berries…there are 16 of each color, 6 different colors. This is the most complicated (read time-consuming, because there’s nothing complicated about backstitch and French knots) of the embellishments…so figure 34 French knots times 16, plus backstitch around each. I only got two done last night after eating, so it’ll be a while.

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I’m also trying to stitch down a few things each day to get Folk Tails near finished…I got all the tree parts sewn down last night except for the hole in the trunk.

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The September blocks are the three with bits pinned on. I’m not sure what month the blank one is…must be October, I think. Plus obviously the two on the left are from earlier in the year.

This rat was in the entryway…made both dogs bark last night. Crappy photo courtesy of stained glass…

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I also spent about 2 hours cutting stuff out last night…a significant amount is done…

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But as you can see by the top box, there’s still a shitload to go. I won’t be done tonight I don’t think.

A teacher friend said she thought she had PTSD from the school year. We always do. It takes about a week to two weeks, plus a significant amount of sitting around and not doing much (oh dear, I’m not there yet…I went through my school notebook and recycled stuff, then printed all the stuff for next week’s teacher thing, plus went through all the paper on the table and tried to organize it) before our brains stop trying to solve teacher problems. Some years are harder than others. This one, I just feel spacey as hell…can’t concentrate. I guess that’s pretty normal.

I also tried some threads out on a wool quilt sandwich…and picked one thread type I think will work. The local sewing machine store carries it, so I’m going over there today (after I go to school) to see if I can find a better match in thread or a variety or something. The real quilt is a variety of blues, not beiges…that will be the bird one, which is at least a month from being finished.

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Anyway. So school, thread store, foot doctor…I think I need to leave in about 5 minutes…and anytime the headache wants to wander off and bug someone else, that would be awesome…

*Seether, Fine Again

Adult Some Shit

June 11, 2018

It’s the last week of school. I mostly finished grades on Saturday, after about 6 1/2 hours of plodding through the last bits of crazy leftover blah while on cold meds. My homeroom has one last assignment to get through in the first 30 minutes of class, before they have to hand over their Chromebooks. As part of today, I have to get their assignments in the gradebook by 2 (my prep is before that, hallelujah), entertain two periods without actually teaching them anything, be trained on how to take care of our health-challenged students (again), sit through a staff meeting (although it should be short), and go to the doctor to hear that stress and lack of sleep (oh sweet dear I wish I could sleep normally) are something I should stress and lose sleep over. Plus how she wants to change my meds to something that either dehydrates me or makes me pee all the time, neither of which work real well with my existence. The other thing she wanted last year was for me to get a shot once a month, another difficult task with my schedule the way it has been. I’m not sure why I thought life without kids would be slower or easier.

I’m doing it wrong. This week is not the week to analyze one’s life, though. This week is the one you survive and you come home and there’s nothing to grade so you can finish a book (hey that trick with putting the iPad in airplane mode worked! I finished the book yesterday even though it expired on Saturday night.) or finally feel like ironing stuff, except you’re sick and you’re tired and keep getting chills or hot flashes or some variety of both. So there’s that. I’ve scheduled about a million appointments for next week, avoiding Wednesday, in case curriculum committee meets then (which seems really unlikely at the moment), but none of them are early in the morning, because I really really need sleep. I went to bed early last night, but my brain wasn’t having it…between it and the dog barking at invisible invaders, there was no hope of a decent night’s snooze.

I did finish up a lot of things yesterday that needed to be done, though…that is always a positive feeling. Moved some stuff, tossed some out, packed some up…the stuff I have a hard time doing during the school year. There’s never enough time.

We watched a long movie over two evenings, and I stitched Palestrina-knot stems…

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There are going to be 96 of them. I am more than halfway done with them. They’re not hard…I just have to think every time of what direction I’m stitching, so I can flip the quilt the right way. Simba is very helpful during this process.

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I have two full sides done, one long, one short. I don’t think this thing is a square…

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Then each ball needs stitching. We’re gonna be staring at this for a while. It would be nice to have it done…and in the to-be-quilted pile along with the last one. Maybe I should do some of that too. I remember what stopped me before was needing a thread that was thicker for the wool, so it wouldn’t sink down into it. I wanted the thread to show. I guess I could ask someone who machine-quilts wool.

I did finally make it into the studio for a short bout of ironing things. I’ve been avoiding it because I haven’t felt well enough to stand for long periods of time.

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Stupid cold and chills and ugh. I ironed some thread, a pair of scissors, and a camera. Not a lot really. There’s still a huge pile of Wonder Under lying around. Maybe I’ll feel better tonight. If not, then I will just get a little done each night. It’s no rush at the moment.

In January, I did some embroidery on two blocks for this group…finally saw one of them show up in a quilt…bottom row, second from the left. I thought about outlining a gun on the right, but didn’t want to mess with the young artist’s idea.

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I’m considering embroidering for them again. Not until my head is straight post-school. Usually takes about two weeks…about the amount of time I have until jury duty starts. Ugh. Can’t stitch at jury duty, unfortunately. No scissors, no needles.

Girlchild is working hard with no camera (water issues). Boychild sends pictures when he feels like it…which is when he sees cool things…like bison…

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And these guys! I’ve never (that I remember) seen these in the wild…

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But there they are, just by the side of the road.

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So cool. I remember spending an entire 2-mile hike staring up into the hills as I walked, hoping I would see one. Makes me want to ditch the last 4 days of school and get in the car and just drive. OK, there’s a lot of things that make me want to ditch the last 4 days of school, honestly. But no, I am an adult and I adult things. I’m gonna go adult some shit right now.

Great Combination

June 9, 2018

What I’m supposed to be doing right now is finishing my grades for the 2017-2018 school year. You know, the last grades, the final hurrah, the penultimate (penultimate? Or ultimate? There’s some rule about that, but I can’t be bothered to think about it right now) the penultimate no goddammit, it IS ultimate, but I need a bigger better word for that…supreme? Eh. Anyway. It’s the last grades of the year. Until next September, when we do all this over again.

It’s OK…I’ll finish them eventually. But right now, I’m more obsessed with WordPress’ autosave thing not working and having to constantly tell me about its fucked-up self. Surely there’s a fix for that? IDK what…but annoying much guys? Yeah.

So I’m definitely sick now. Thought I beat it, but it’s back with a snotty vengeance. Plus sleep. Man I need sleep. I want a nap right now. But no. I am awake, it is the right time to be awake, I’ve had one cup of tea, I should be functional.

Yesterday, I made no art. I’d like to make some today, but who really knows if that will be possible. The book I’m trying to finish (and keep out of the hands of the e-library) is all I did yesterday and this morning. I’m a third of the way through it…but really, I need to be grading shit. Seriously…even this is a waste of time right now.

So. Artsy photo of one of my last lessons (nice font, eh?0…

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Came home to Katie and a hummingbird…really need to get spot of dust out of phone. Damn Apple for refusing to do that (“we can replace the camera.” “the camera is new.” “oh. well. then. LIVE WITH DUST.”).

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Katie has now gone on to live with my parents like normal. Good thing…the cats can freely wander again.

Boychild checked in from North Dakota. I didn’t know North Dakota could look like this.

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I went to gaming and worked on a mamba…

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Not the dance. While gaming. We’ve been meeting less often…too many other things going on in a variety of lives.

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I got the mamba done…still need to do the wild dog.

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I finished this block, although the instructions say something about some symbol near the hut, and it’s nowhere to be found in the instructions. Huh. Oh well.

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That shit happens.

Anyway. Today, I’m expecting lots of staring at a computer (only two assignments left to grade, but then inputting a million things and finalizing the other shit)…maybe some hand embroidery while watching a movie…not sure if I’ll be able to handle anything else…it all depends on how long all the finalizing the other shit takes. But then I’ll be done with that until next school year, which is always a lovely feeling. The last 4 days of school still suck, because now you don’t even have grades to hold over their heads, but at least I’ll be able to come home each day and just chill. Mostly.

Until then…grades. Snotty nose. Spacey head. Great combination.

I Don’t Ever Wanna Feel Like I Did That Day*

April 20, 2018

Yeah, I’m up early. I was already awake…trying to remind myself in my sleep to wear my anti-gun-violence T-shirt today for Columbine. Things we remember: Reagan being shot, Columbine, 9/11. Fun stuff. Right eye is twitching. Yesterday was calmer. Today will be frenetic, because things are due to the teacher and you didn’t tell us! I did. You aren’t giving us enough time! Yes I am. Next week will be a little more chill. But we’ll be talking about what war does to a country, to a national park, to be specific, and that’s walking a fine line sometimes. Too many of my students have direct experience with guns and bombs falling. I think about that and I’m glad I grew up in sunny Southern California, where the only guns are in the workplace and at school. Whoops! No seriously, my growing-up time was also pretty chill. Same stupid drama you always see in middle and high school, but also dances and parades and homework and ditching school and dressing up for Halloween and all that stuff. No war, except the cold one. No weapons, except the nuclear ones.

The quilt I’m working on now isn’t about guns or even women’s rights or climate change or anything else political. It’s personal. I need a little mental space to work on it…it’s easier to see each piece as this particular shape than to try to tag it on social media with what’s important. What’s important? Across the board, how we treat people. All people…whether we’re trying to work with them in a group or teach them or love them or be with them or just stand in line with them in the grocery store. Or like that guy who was trying to drive up my ass the other day because he wanted to pass the truck in the other lane and he was in the wrong lane and I wasn’t going fast enough for him, so all I could see was the grill of his pickup truck and his middle finger thrusting at me in my rearview mirror. Really? I was doing 67 mph in an only lane that was exiting that freeway. Not fast enough. I wonder about his life that he thought that was an appropriate move. I hate that those guys sit in my chest and make all the feels.

I graded more yesterday. I’m trying to get caught up. It’s frustrating though, because then some kid emails me, completely confused about what I graded, but he never turned it in. So that’s a zero, sweetheart. I can’t (won’t) grade what you don’t turn in.

I had quilt class last night, which is just the two of us most times now…which is fine. I didn’t want to haul all the stuff to trace Wonder Under, so I just took the box of things that need sewing down. I forgot half my thread, but this is my quilt teacher, so she has that stuff. We like never run out of thread…the spools last seven thousand years when you’re doing applique…it’s such short strands. Even all the bindings I’ve sewn down…I think only the black and the dark blue thread are anywhere near empty…and they’re still NOT empty. When I die, it will be spools of thread and art exhibit announcements…and the FABRIC that drive my children bonkers. I’m OK with that. Maybe by then, I’ll be a mural painter and it will be my spray paint collection in the garage instead.

I got the lion’s body down, the two rectangles in the background, the body of whatever that gray animal is, and now I’m working on the tree. Still lots to do. Not even sure where the wool thread is for that blue hut.

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This is Mind the Gap, a show I will never see in person, unfortunately, due to the stupid hours. It closes today, I think…pick up is next week. Good friends drive down and photograph the show for you. Mine is on the right…there’s more pictures, but I didn’t have the energy to download them all yesterday. I partnered with James Watts, whose kokeshi doll is being stared down by my angry earth mother.

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I’ll post more later for that. I swear.

Then after dinner and grades, I started tracing the new quilt. At 1000 pieces (and it’s 1001…I just found one I missed), it’s going to be a while…

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There are some big rug pieces in there that take up lots of space on the first yard of Wonder Under. There are three figures on this quilt…so there will be lots of flesh tones. The fireplace is gray stone. Something to think about. The background will have two colors: floor and wall. How will I get the contrast I usually love? Well I need to consider that. Red wall? Dark brown wood floor? Dark gray stones in the fireplace? We’ll see. Complicated for sure. It’ll be at least 10 hours of tracing, probably more like 12. So I won’t be done with that until the end of next week probably. Good to have goals.

Time is tight. 39 days. Will I be making the other one also? What…am I nuts? Sigh. Yes. Yes I am. It may not be possible. I may have to reconsider. I may have to work harder.

This was at school. I have no idea why.

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Early meeting today. Long day today. But there’s a weekend and that’s a good thing.

*Red Hot Chili Peppers, Under the Bridge

For a Minute There I Lost Myself*

April 16, 2018

Most common nights that teachers don’t sleep: (1) The day before school starts in August (or September, if you’re on that track). (2) Sunday nights. I don’t even know why. I totally tried to shut my brain down. It just didn’t work. I was talking to the girlchild right before, but I also was just glad to hear from her (earlier that day)…the no-internet week was difficult. Meanwhile, boychild is sending me pictures of lost weather balloons (REAL ones, not the Roswell kind of weather balloons).

Some weekends just aren’t long enough.

Yes, I spent most of Saturday in a car. Then talked about my work and all the other quilters’ work (because I was the token quilter there). Then we took all the work down and shoved a bunch of it in my car and drove back. Woo hoo! Ugh. Sunday was like it always is…do some work, clean up, do some yard work, grocery store, prep some food, hopefully get to some art. And the art started early, because I had graded all the makeup work and couldn’t handle anything else. There have to be days of the week when you don’t work. And I already had.

I have my post-dinner routine that will get this quilt done…we finish watching whatever not-quite-an-hour-long show it is and then I sew more balls on until the show is done. I’m on the last thread color…I think. I missed one pink one and some of the red ones seem darker, but let’s just say I’m close to done with sewing them down. Then I need to embellish them.

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I was actually looking up how to quilt wool last night, because the quilt BEFORE the birds has been pinbasted for a million years. I feel like it needs a heavier thread than what I usually use, but the woman I watched on YouTube used a thinner thread. So now I don’t know.

Anyway, so I am trying to get the other one done too…I guess this is number 3. I have all the wool cut out for September and October, but nowhere to put it. So I pieced September to one of the first blocks I embellished…

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And then pinned down the beginnings of stuff.

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I think the whole thing gets sewn together after that, which is a little scary. Don’t worry…it’ll be a while. I have a ton of embellishment left to do on the other piece that traveled with us throughout the Southwest. I didn’t get much done.

This was because the boychild needs to come home after college and may well be driving.

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I was just curious. It’s about how far we drove over Spring Break. But with no help. Long way.

Then I started drawing…it was easier last night. I added an octopus and a jellyfish. So much for keeping it simple.

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Then Christmas lights, of course…and the requisite bones.

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Stardard fare…some ribs, a uterus, the inevitable iPhone, some stuff from the past, and gingko leaves.

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Her hair on the right side…haven’t decided the left side yet. There’s more to add in there.

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This might be a little crazy.

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Found the other drawing I was considering for the time theme. This is good. It’s almost done, as far as the two figures are concerned…

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There’s a third figure I need to draw…but I need to add paper to do that. I think I’ll try to do that tonight, because this deadline is earlier than the other. Honestly, I’m not sure I can finish both. So there’s that. Never let that stop me yet though.

Wow. This is a tired way to start a week. Ugh. Oh well. Must go on.

*Radiohead, Karma Police

Crawling in My Skin*

April 10, 2018

First day back to school after two weeks went just about how you would expect. Some kids still asleep. Some kids obviously got no attention for days and were so excited to be back where there were lots of people. And all the teachers. Well, we’re here. State testing is coming up…it’s when you look at the group of kids you personally will be testing with for four days and wonder how you will keep them going. I rely on cheese and crackers and juice boxes personally. Plus a lot of coloring pages. One year, I had a lot of small plastic animals that I gave out. Whatever works.

It did mean that I came home (after dropping my car at the car guy’s place, because although the check engine light had been on since Petrified Forest, it went off yesterday morning…it’s OK, it was back on by the afternoon) and I collapsed. Well. I didn’t. I played with dogs and petted needy cats and cooked dinner and THEN I collapsed. Eventually, and honestly, it took a long while, I got off my butt and did stuff. Sometimes I think knowing I will have to write the next day and own what I did (or didn’t) do is what gets me moving…which is fine. Motivation is motivation.

We started a new unit yesterday, so I drew…although honestly, I was kind of haphazard about it…

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It’s done. That’s all that matters.

When I got home, there was a lovely package from Beth, thanking me for sending her all my trashy bits from the last three quilts…these will be beautiful in my flesh stash…very subtle and wonderful texture…

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In my mail was this…which I finally opened…

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And saw my quilt! If you want to hear me talk about this, it’s this Saturday at 2 PM at the Branch Gallery in Los Angeles.

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Unfortunately, the show is closing this Saturday, not continuing into May. Long stupid story on that one. The quilt to the left is Charlotte Bird’s…

Part of my couch collapse still involves trying to sew all 96 balls on this thing. I don’t feel too bad, though, because I just saw someone posting that they had just finished this. It’s not just me!

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I’m working my way around, one color at a time. I think I have 2 1/2 colors left, not that it means anything, because I can’t remember how many colors there were in the beginning…6 or 7? I just don’t know. It’s an endless twisting around, seeing if there’s another one that’s the same color (and some of them are pretty damn similar, if you ask me). And then I get to embellish all 96 of them. We could be here for a while.

Then sitting around on the couch, staring at stupid memes and crappy news until that drove me off the couch. I have two deadlines in June…I tried drawing for one of them Sunday night, and it’s not coming together. I have another drawing started that might work for that…but that meant pulling stuff off the piano (of course…don’t you keep all your half-done drawings on your piano?), and I wasn’t in the mood. So I picked the one that has to be an exact size and cut a piece of paper for that. I stared at it for a long time. And then started sketching in the shape of a body…you can clearly see that here.

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Or not. I don’t always use pencil, but when I do, it usually requires a lot of erasing and redrawing. Honestly, it’s hard to fit something into a shape this long and narrow without a lot of erasing and redrawing. Luckily, at some point, I decided everything from the knees down was good enough. I’m not done with this section, but I have a solid start.

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I’ve been trying those white-out things that have the strip you sort of swipe on the ink. I like it because it’s not bumpy, but it doesn’t do well in this situation. It’s coming up too easily…not sticking to the paper in a decisive manner. Ugh. Back to the liquid stuff? Maybe.

Anyway, expect to see this drawing for a while. I sit there telling myself to keep it simple (ironic…the bones aren’t even in there yet), and then I give them fingernails. Tiny little fingernails. Totally unnecessary fingernails. Ah well. I’m sure there’s a good reason for that. Things I draw automatically…fingernails…kneecaps…uteri.

Meanwhile, did I grade anything yesterday? Nope. Not really. Oh well. OK, gotta go to school again. Although all I really wanna do is work on that drawing. That’s good actually…it means it’s starting to talk to me. So that in itself will drag me off the couch, even if I’m tired.

*Linkin Park, Crawling