Karma Police, Arrest This Man*

February 16, 2018

I didn’t write about the school shooting in Florida yesterday because I couldn’t deal with it. When I first saw the news, it was calling the 17 people injured, which changed later to dead. I had to read the headline 5 times until it sunk in, because before they were injured…now they were dead. Nothing has changed up top though. No one is listening. If you have a gun and you’re not using it to keep bears off your property or some other similar problem (no, that doesn’t count for immigrants or people of color, assholes…you don’t get to use them on people unless you’re a cop AND you have a really good reason that will hold up in court and it doesn’t have anything to do with shit you imagined was there or happening), then please give it up so we can send YOU our thoughts and prayers about how you will possibly be able to exist without your weapon, rather than how those 17 families will possibly be able to exist without their child or father or mother or whatever.

New work from Kathy Nida

I didn’t read any articles or watch any videos about it until last night (when I wrote this), when I had finished grading, because honestly, it’s the one thing that might make me leave teaching, the thought that some idiot might come on campus and kill a bunch of kids, even that the one idiot might be one of my ex-students, still irritated that they earned an F for doing no work. It’s not fear for me (although that is there), but fear that their anger would reach out to other people on campus, that other kids or adults would die because the kid was angry at me. It’s not just the dead bodies…it’s those you left behind filled with fear as well, fear to come to school, fear about the people around you.

At my first teaching job, 9 days in, that’s what happened. A kid brought a gun to school to kill the teacher who “gave” him an F. We don’t give Fs. You earn them. Just like some kids earn As, Bs, etc. And no, I don’t think the grades themselves are the problem. I think the problem is that often kids don’t see themselves as producers of anything. At some point, they will need to work. They need all the skills and practice they can get, but they need to put time into that. Right now, as I’m grading a major project that they had 9 days to complete, I’m seeing a lot of that inability to complete. The lack of connection from work product to grade. It’s frustrating. We need to teach them to think, but they also need to believe that thinking is important. And yes, it’s incredibly difficult sometimes to get a 12-year-old to care about that product if their own life has a significant amount of suckage or drama or if support is lacking.

So yeah, I guess if I’m going down in a blaze of gunfire, it will be either protecting my students from some dick with a gun or because I “gave” someone an F. That’s a motivator to inflate grades, I guess. Anyone ever think that one through? And then you have more kids applying to college who can’t read, write, or do math of any sort. Doesn’t look good on the job front. Honestly, they need to be able to problem solve more than any of that, and that’s where the kids seem to lose their brains sometimes. Sigh.

I hate my government and the politicians who are refusing to solve this problem. I don’t hate a lot of things. Well, I hate chocolate because it makes me throw up. I hate asshole drivers, although maybe if they’re not in their bigass vehicles trying to shove their shiny metal grill up your ass, maybe just maybe they are kind and gentle people who don’t throw their cigarettes out the window. It’s possible. But I really really hate every single politician out there who is refusing to listen to that kid from Florida who was on campus during the shooting: You’re the adults. We’re just kids. Why can’t you solve this?

Short Answer: We can. If we don’t want all these mass shootings, we have to look at the gun control laws in place in ALMOST EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. Yeah. That.

Sigh. Such a big sigh. I guess I can’t ignore the bad and ugly for long.

Anyway, so I graded stuff last night…this project requires me to watch a 3- to 5-minute-long video for every kid (that might have been a mistake)…but it’s OK, because 50 kids didn’t even do the video and of the other 80, about half did less than 3 minutes. I can’t say it’s the most exciting thing in the world to grade, but I multitask and grade other things while I’m watching. I finished one period yesterday and had grades ranging from a perfect score to an 11/65. It is what it is. I have on my calendar to do one period a day (well, I put 4th and 6th together, because 6th is tiny). I’ll be done Sunday hopefully. Grades are due in a few weeks, so I have to get control of this. Because my core job is teaching kids…not protecting them from political insanity.

Unfortunately, just making a quilt doesn’t stop that shit.

I did iron a bit yesterday…wait, before I did that, I did some binding sewing on the piece that’s been lying around…I ate dinner (alone). Yesterday I ate lunch alone, had my prep period alone and came home and hung out alone and there was a lot of alone, except for all the shooting crap in my head. It was not a good thing.

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I still have a lot of binding to do. This weekend? Maybe.

As you can see, I am not allowed in my own chair. Oh. And I’m still managing to keep a weekly journal of the shit I need to do, the shit I got done, and the shit I keep moving to the next day on the off chance that it might get done. I do get to use color pens to do it though, so it’s totally worth it.

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I actually had to write a proposal statement for one art show, and then I got into another art show, so I had to organize my calendar for that. I honestly keep losing a week of February (isn’t it over yet???). I guess that’s a good thing. Because I have a week I think I didn’t have? I guess.

So I did finally get to ironing. It was late. And then I was tired. I did some hair and some other thing and then got stymied by eye color. So I’m waiting on an email from the mom about eye color, but honestly, I could have kept going on the ironing. I was just too tired to do it. It’ll get done. Hopefully tonight.

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The pile that needs to be cut out…

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Seriously, there’s so little left to iron…although there’s more under the box to the left. I was too tired even to unearth those for the photo. It’s not a lot. It was just too many decisions on color. Hard to do that when you’re really tired.

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Here’s the other piece that will be in a show in March through May: We Won’t Go Back

It’s a local show down in San Ysidro, Dia de la Mujer. Cool stuff. I have about a million openings coming up in March and April. This is not a bad problem to have, surely.

So I’m going to go to school now and wonder about the sanity of some of my failing students, whether they would be the one to come to school and shoot up the classroom. I’m going to look at some of the kids who I just referred for counseling (actually, I’m not…because they don’t worry me…it’s the angry ones who worry me…). I’m going to keep on teaching them to think, best I can. I’m going to hold them accountable for their work, best I can. I’m going to continue to care about their minds, their hearts, their corporeal presence on this earth, best I can. Even the assholes. And some of them are assholes…but they’re kids, so I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they will grow up to be less than assholes. And I’m going to keep voting. And telling others to vote. Seriously, you need to vote the assholes out. All of them. Every single one.

*Radiohead, Karma Police

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Follow a Rejection with an Entry

December 16, 2017

So I got news on two exhibits yesterday. One was earlier than I had expected and it was good news…the other was bad news and kind of upsetting, because I really wanted this piece to go out into the world…

This is Rooted in America, and yes, I made it for the Loaded Conversations show that SAQA is putting on with the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. I think it was a hard rejection not because I had made it specifically for that show…I do that all the time…but more because I had so much personal emotion stitched into it. A recent staff meeting had us going over what to do if a shooter is on campus (Run, Hide, Fight). As someone said, if 20 1st graders dying at Sandy Hook isn’t going to persuade politicians to change gun laws, nothing is. Until we replace those politicians. It’s a frustrating thing.

But I do understand a juror looking at a pile of work and trying to make what they think is a cohesive show out of it. I don’t know if this piece will ever be shown, though, because it is controversial…but it’s made. I guess that’s my part in it. I’ll keep entering it until it ages out.

The show I got into is at the Branch Gallery in Los Angeles, opening March 17 in the afternoon. Two openings in one day…could be a little crazy. More about that show later, since this is just a preliminary notification…not so official. But put it on your calendar if you’re in the LA area.

So the piece I’m making now is for a juried show as well, so it might not get in. As always. I’m used to it. I do handle rejections OK most of the time. And I’m OK now with this one…I was just really disappointed. I wanted to be able to say my piece. That your need for a gun is not more important than my students’ needs to feel safe. I still believe that.

Meanwhile, I’ve still got 40 hours of stuff to do on the current quilt before…well…the 26th. Yeah. Kinda crazy timing, but it’ll do. Boychild is on a roll of trying to get shit done around here…which means I haven’t gotten much done on the quilt since Thursday night. But I’m also still exhausted from school, even after 9 hours of sleep last night and a couple of cups of tea and a 2 1/2 mile hike with the dogs. OK, wait, the last one is part of why I’m tired right now.

I could nap.

Most of the grading I need to do is online, but I did bring this pile of Unit 3 home…

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I have 6 assignments to grade and this is the biggest one by far. I don’t have a plan this year. Sometimes I say I will do ONE A DAY! UNTIL THEY ARE DONE! And I start with good intentions, get bogged down by the holidays, and flail mightily at the end. I don’t think I ever finish them all over break. So there we are. And with 40 hours of quilting needed on this quilt in the next 9 days, along with all the holiday stuff, I’m not promising shit at the moment. So there.

I had gaming last night. We are in a difficult situation that has lasted over two sessions so far and will probably continue for a couple more before we can stop and heal our people. I happily finished stitching the monkey while we rolled dice and tried to figure out what to do in hindsight.

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That guinea fowl’s feet can’t go on until I attach this to whatever’s below it. But before that, I’m stitching the sheep block in the top right…

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I think the guinea fowl on the right might lose his feet when I stitch it together…but I can redo them. There’s a third block that goes with this month…I haven’t even started the embellishment on it. Stitching this stuff is so relaxing for me. Stitching and drawing. Not grading. I have 23 days off. It sounds like a lot. It never feels like it though. At least 30 hours of grading in there, plus two hours when I have to do professional development, whether I like it (or need it) or not…I wish I could choose to develop myself in what I need. You know what I need for school? Rock identification. I need a geologist to sit down with me and all the rocks we have loose in the classroom and tell me what they all are, and then tell me how to identify stuff when I’m hiking. That’s what I want for PD. Not “How to Use a Computer” or some variation of that. App speed dating is what I have to sit through when I come back. Sigh. Really? Hope for the best on that one. I guess in real life, I would suck at speed dating. Nothing new when it’s for school.

OK, well, I’m hugely behind on the hand-stitching on that piece that will be done December 31…I should get caught up on that. I need to quilt. I need to enter another show today. I forgot about that. Gonna do that now. Follow a rejection with an entry. It’s fine. Moving on.


There’s Still Time to Change the Road You’re on*

November 21, 2017

So I spent a couple hours last night worrying about the girlchild, who was on lockdown in a dorm where a robbery took place at gunpoint. Because we need guns for protection, right? Because if anyone else in that dorm had possessed a gun, a whole lot of people would be injured or dead right now. As it is, everyone was fine, although I think both girlchild and I (and quite a few other parents and students) had the shakes for a while. But please don’t ever say to me that you have a right to carry a gun. Nope. You don’t. Not unless you’re a cop…and even then, I have misgivings because so many of our cops are racist and/or reactionary.

Anyway. That’s done.

I did some lazy daisies on the right that look like bull heads.

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And then I ironed all those inner bits and pieces…here’s the layout for the heart and arteries…

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And the pile of fabrics I went through last night…another 3 hours or so yesterday.

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I’m up to 13 hours in the ironing…with about 400 pieces to go, I figure. It’s not been quick, that’s for sure. Here’s just one of the reds in the heart/arteries section…

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Lots of pieces ready to be cut out.

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And all the fabrics I’ve used so far…

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I’ve been working to 1 AM and then falling into bed exhausted. The nighttime hours are better for this, I find. I did copyedit during the day yesterday…more of that today. I haven’t graded any assignments since Sunday, and I need to do some of that too. So I’m probably not going to finish the ironing today…can’t really blow off the moneymaking part of my week yet. I need to get significantly further along. I do have most of today (I’m hiking tonight), all of tomorrow, a few hours on Thanksgiving (mostly nighttime probably), and all of Friday. But I’m realizing it’s never enough. This quilt has to be done and photographed in less than 40 days. I can do that…but the copyediting has to be done in less time than that, and I have to deal with school. I can’t just push that off. Where do the hours go? Staring at fabric, I think. Mostly. And dealing with dogs. Stupid stuff like eating and peeing. I made lasagne from scratch yesterday…but that’s 3 more dinners on top of last night’s. So that was a good thing.

Sitting here watching a hummingbird on the flowers outside my office window…supposed to be in the 90s today. November, my ass.

OK, so shower, eat, copyedit. Consider venturing out for the chicken broth I should’ve bought on Sunday for the turkey I’m making for myself. Gotta make some rolls too. Should do that tomorrow…

Now get up and go.

*Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven


At Night the Crickets Creepy*

October 24, 2017

Well. After a 10-hour day at work (ugh), I realize that although I wrote this well before I left for school, I never hit the final publish button. I do that now. Tired. Yup. But still gonna aim to draw. Even badly. Bad drawing is better than no drawing.

I’m sitting here trying to get enough tea in me to be functional (let’s be real…semi-functional)…the cold/viral thing is starting to wane, although I mostly collapsed after work yesterday for about an hour. And I’m texting my kids back and forth until they start having a discussion of how to write about torture (ah college…the things you have to write about)…and then I’m really out, because I don’t know that I could ever be pro torture. And honestly I don’t know much about it. Sure, there’s torturing pedophiles and crazy dictators and maybe even the current president (although you know he wouldn’t last long, the big baby)…and since the kids are obviously having this discussion because someone has an assignment due, I’m OK just watching them converse 3000 miles away. I miss them. Lots sometimes. Although I have nothing to add to this discussion but that torture is mean and we shouldn’t do it.

So where am I today? I finished ironing all the fabrics down for the little quilt last night. It’s really not THAT little, but compared to the last one…it’s small. I’m not going to keep going on it right now. I really really really need to start drawing the next one tonight. Somewhere I need to find the brain power for it. So expect a lot of bad starts and flailings on paper with Sharpie tonight. Woo! It’ll be great. Seriously. Maybe it will just spill out of me. Sometimes it does.

More stuff on the right, filling in spaces…

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The parental dog is nervous about the new cat…

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Satchemo is not scared of Katie.

I started ironing late…had paperwork, school stuff, other crap to deal with…but I didn’t have much left to iron, so I was pretty sure I could finish.

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Here’s all the fabrics I used. I really did think it was gonna all be bright colors. It’s hard to know what it will actually look like from this though, because it doesn’t show the mix…there’s a lot of blue in this. The purples take up a lot of space. The browns are all in one section. Same with the yellows really.

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There’s the pile…let’s see how long before I actually cut them out.

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I did pick up my most recent quilt from the photographer…first one ever with a gun in it? I think? First one on a beige background, that’s for sure. If that’s important…

New work from Kathy Nida

I’m glad she’s done.

New work from Kathy Nida

It was difficult to draw it, to make it, to quilt it. Sigh.

New work from Kathy Nida

Probably not picking this one for my profile picture any time soon.

New work from Kathy Nida

Although those are my kids, my students. Even the annoying ones. We’d protect all of them.

New work from Kathy Nida

Still gotta write a coherent statement on that one. Tonight. I’ll do that tonight. After teaching all day, meeting with admin, duty before and after school in 103-degree temperatures, tutorial, and protesting at a school board meeting. Yeah. It’ll be fine. Really. It will.

I guess it’s good I had another project that was at a good place for occupying my brain for a week or so. It didn’t seem ready to move on right away.

So this was my crew last night.

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I told them it was bedtime. Some were more ready for it than others. I get it. I was ready. I’m ready again right now, but it’s morning again, so I can’t really go back to bed. Yet. (growth mindset…that’s a teacher joke.)

Art. Tonight we draw. We draw even if we don’t feel like it. We draw to get to the drawing we need to draw.

*Squeeze, Pulling Mussels from the Shell


I Was Feeling Part of the Scenery*

October 14, 2017

I totally forgot that I have two quilts at PIQF this weekend…so go check them out. They are part of the Threads of Resistance exhibit…

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Thanks to Ellen November for the photo…she confirmed that they are not hidden away as well. The Mancusos are kind of used to me I guess. I wanted to go up for this show, but this month is a crazy asshole and that’s not happening.

Speaking of crazy assholes…

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So last night, I was ready to sew the binding on, and I realized I had an issue on the back. I should have cut the backing bigger than I did…oh well. So I thought about how to deal with this…because honestly, it’s on the back, so who’s gonna care.

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The quilt police and I are not on speaking terms.

I put the miles of binding on…

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And then the sleeves…and added a little piece of the background fabric under the sleeve, into the binding seam, so it would cover the small piece that would show.

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No one is gonna know…I’ll hand stitch it down while I’m sewing the binding and sleeves down. Problem solved!

Then I went to watch that band I always watch. Crashed their event, bought a glass of wine, then mooched the second one (the table I was sitting at was totally empty). And started drawing. Damn, I miss drawing. Need to shove that into my schedule. I keep saying it and it doesn’t happen.

The wildfires in Northern California are on my mind…

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I try to stay out of the newsfeeds, but stories about animals being rescued or still being there after everything burned, or old couples holding onto each other in swimming pools all night. Aargh. The fires aren’t fully contained, evacuations are still happening, the death toll will surely rise. So freakin’ sad.

And I have 17 errands to run, 3 hours (at least) of hand sewing, and at least 5 hours of grading to do. There we are.

*Peter Gabriel, Solsbury Hill


She’s a Bad Mama Jama*

October 13, 2017

Well. Some days one’s plans do not follow one’s plan. It is what it is. I’m grateful that I’m not in the middle of hurricane wreckage or fire danger. Although I keep looking at the sky for some evidence of fire…must be training after the last two big fires down here. There are so many disasters at the moment that it’s hard to know what to support, where to send whatever it is one can send. I did just add wildfires to the next quilt list of ideas. Certainly the amount of plant growth we had in the last year because of all the rain might have been a factor in how out of control these fires were. Although if these were human-set fires, that’s a whole ‘nother level of crazy with which I can’t deal. Humans are pretty fucked-up creatures.

So with all the fuckedupedness swirling around in my brain (that IS a word), I left school yesterday to buy binding fabric for this quilt. It didn’t take long to find one that worked…and a few others, because I like fabric. You might have noticed.

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The bottom one is the binding. The top one is sloths. I have no need for sloth fabric. Except sloths. Yes. So that explains a small portion of my stash. And now that I have the orange fabrics home, I think I already have the top one. Sigh.

So I was supposed to come home, eat, and go to the gym, and that all fell to hell at some point. So I graded shit for about 3 hours…well, and dealt with union stuff. I’m pretty sure there was something else I was supposed to do, but whatever. Sometimes that’s just the way shit works out. I think I figured I’d rather grade all that stuff LAST night than tonight. Although I will probably still grade tonight. The never-ending spew of assignments that need attention. The plus is that when I personally counsel kids, they turn shit in. The minus is the spew of emails and stuff that needs 7 clicks to access instead of 1 because it was late.

Anyway, this happened around 10 PM…I hate trimming quilts. It’s a pain in the ass. Some part of me just wants to hack haphazardly at the edges and come what may. And then the ordered part of my brain that wants the focus on the image, not the edges, comes in with the rotary cutter, kneels down on the floor at 10 PM, and carefully cuts, straightens, and measures until it’s square. Not square in shape, but sides perpendicular and square edges.

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She’s about 62 x 67″ I think now, finished. The plan tonight is to get the binding on. And email the photographer? I know I want to ink this one too. We’ll see how far I get tonight…I might have another plan that keeps me from getting far on this.

So this year at school…we did a lot of planning last year. This year, we’re tweaking stuff. That means supplementing some of last year’s stuff so we can make sure kids understand the concepts. We were lucky to get a big chunk of money last year for materials and equipment…and we’re making sure we use it. So today, we’ll be doing a demo with some elements, showing the kids some of the physical and chemical changes that can happen to certain types of elements.

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And we made a video (well, my coteacher is putting all the clips together into a video) so the kids who were absent can watch what happened…so the workload is still pretty hefty at the moment. In fact, the next unit barely exists, because we didn’t need to teach it to last year’s kids…they got it in 6th grade. So we need to make that happen somehow. I can’t say it’s easier than last year…well, maybe it is, but it’s still pretty time-consuming. I can tell you that dropping acid on metal is fun and so is hitting charcoal with a hammer. I do have a strange job some days. From personal counseling of about 50 kids to hammering elements.

OK. Thinking good (although mostly useless) thoughts about Northern California…and Puerto Rico (because the president won’t)…and everyone who is losing health insurance and Las Vegas, damn the gun people, and anyone else who is staring at their news feed like I am and wondering why. At least it’s Friday. Peace out my loves. But first, this might help…

*Carl Carlton, She’s a Bad Mama Jama


I Never Felt So Much Alike*

October 12, 2017

Hello morning. You are way too dark and you came too early. Ha. Ha ha. Oh dear, my head is not pleased with the lack of sleep. It will have to deal…because…I finished quilting! It was (apparently) loud and fast, but a little over 2 hours later, I was done with the background and all the weird little spaces and the one bit of outlining I missed and the green of the chalkboard. It took a little over 13 hours to quilt the whole thing…less than I thought, but I think that’s because I really did try to reduce the detail in this one to get it done in time.

I was successful. Good to know.

Working on the eyeball still. I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I finish the sclera. Maybe just sew flowers all around it.

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We’ll see. Ha. Ha ha. Eyeball. Get it? See? Yeah. Brain. Thanks. My early morning brain is a punny teenager.

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Even Midnight doesn’t think it’s funny. Sometimes she gives me these looks while I’m quilting and I think I’ve greatly offended her. This is one of those looks.

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Really it was just a lot of beige on beige.

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I think that’s the first beige quilt I’ve ever done.

I had a few of these little filler spaces to go back and quilt. The last fiddly bits are always the biggest pain in the ass.

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The back. The light color is the chalkboard, which I didn’t quilt tightly at all. It needed some quilting, but not a lot. The crazy stuff on the right is quilting around the atom model.

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I laid it out for binding measurements and to do a rough check that I hadn’t missed some totally obvious thing I was supposed to quilt.

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The sucker is big…currently about 70×65″…but it will trim down a bit.

I’m not uber-fussy about the quilting. Some people are into very tight quilting, but it’s usually part of their finished image, how they want it to look. I want the fabric to be the image…the quilting works as a drawing line with the outlining, and then to make the background recede…and to hold the damn thing together…but I’m not a fancy quilter. I don’t think my quilts need it.

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There’s the atom from the front. I was lucky and had a green thread that worked well with both greens of the chalkboard.

Today I buy binding fabric and get the binding sewn on so I can do the handwork. That’s going to take about a million years and I have so much grading to do still. Ugh. Oh well. I will be getting it done this weekend. I should email the photographer, right? And then start trying to mentally process the next big one…the due date is a while out, but it’s a big one, so I need to be realistic. Whatever that means. Because I’m a little crazy when it comes to making these sometimes. I do love making them though…even when it hurts to look at them. That’s probably a good thing.

*The Clash, London Calling