Take Only What You Need from It*

March 14, 2017

I really enjoyed coming home from school and sitting on the deck in the waning sunshine, the day still a bit warm, but starting to cool off with spring night temperatures. I probably got bit by some overachieving mosquito or seven, but it was worth it to just sit…only 30 or 40 minutes maybe, but better than most days, when it’s zero.

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Of course, part of why I had time to do that was because Calli is injured, so I didn’t walk the dogs today. Calli was convinced I should throw that stick for her. Many days I do, but she’s still limping. I tried to explain that to her, but it didn’t go down well.

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So I had started this drawing a couple of weeks ago. It’s still not going where I want, but since I’m not sure where I want it to go, it was OK to just draw shit.

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Honestly, sometimes it’s OK just to wiggle the pen across the paper in a drawing motion.

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I find myself drawing less than I used to…not enough time to just sit and do that. Life was supposed to get less busy with the kids gone, but it hasn’t really. I’m sure that’s my fault. I’m hoping next year is better, after we have most of our science curriculum set. We’ll see.

I did come home to a jury summons. I haven’t gotten one of those since the kids were little. And they picked not only Spring Break, but the week I’m planning on taking the first vacation I’ve tried to take for more than two days since oh maybe 2013. So yeah. I postponed it to summer…AND moved it out of downtown, so I wouldn’t have to deal with traffic and hellish parking.

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Pretty sure they’ll kick me right off the premises pretty quickly. Maybe I should bring up the missing penis debacle.

I did the buttonhole stitch wheels in blue. There’s gonna be color in between them too…I left room for that.

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And then while waiting for an episode to end, I stitched more wool down…with a puppy.

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This is pretty relaxing as well.

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I didn’t grade last night. We spent about 2 hours after work trying to spend some money we were given for science, more than we’ve ever seen. We wanted to be sure we did it well. I felt like I had worked enough hours yesterday.

Then I finally went in to iron…only the heads left. I always iron the eyes separately and then place them on the face…more likely to get the expression right.

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Crooked eyes can really screw up the faces.

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Yeah. Those eyeballs just floating around.

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Heads done.

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At this point, it was midnight. Of course, I should have stopped there and gone to bed and finished it tonight. Er. Um. I didn’t. I kept going.

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So now she’s all ironed down and ready to go.

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She’s got some batik running blue issues, but I can fix that. You’d think I’d remember to rewash dark blue batik when I use it as a background…but no. After 25 years, I still just go with it. It’s fine…I’ve dealt with it before.

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Anyway, tonight I need to put labels on two quilts shipping to a show and pack those up and another one to ship out this week…so I might not have time to start the stitch down. I don’t expect it to take long though. I’m hoping it will be easier than it was on the last quilt…the tension was a bitch last time.

Anyway. Progress. Meanwhile, both kids are socked into blizzards and school is closed for the day. Actually, Boston hasn’t checked in…I know her school is closed, but not whether they got the snow they were supposed to…but Ithaca just closed. And Cornell rarely closes. Meanwhile, we’re slated to hit 90 degrees today. Wait. Boston (excuse me, Waltham) has reported “quite snowy”. And it’s gotta be a blizzard for Cornell to close.

OK. Well. School. Yeah. No blizzards here.

*MGMT, Kids

Oh Mother, Tell Your Children*

March 13, 2017

I realize it hasn’t been very long since I last wrote…although I walked a dog (I think I did that before I wrote last night, because he was being very demanding and I figured he needed it…as did I. I often need a walk.).

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I stuck to the streets this time, because I didn’t have much time before sunset and I only had the one dog…and he’s short. Long grass causes issues. It gets stuck in his badly designed fur and turns him green and grassy. Anyway. I walked him past the old chicken farm property, which still hasn’t been turned into the tract homes they said it would be (and I’m OK with that)…

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Lots of wildflowers here…did not venture to Anza Borrego this weekend (although I wish I could over the week)…this is a different one, one I don’t remember seeing before.

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These are just weird. Nature is so full of weird.

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After 3 miles plus (and whatever my ex did to try to tire him out), he finally settled.

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It takes a lot to tire that beast out. I graded for a while…it needed to be done, because there’s a pile waiting for me at work as well. It’s never-ending.

I did the purple butterfly wings…they’re actually chain stitches that chain off of each other.

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And then, because I was trying to finish watching an episode of something, I found block 3 (which is not block 3, by the way, but block 4, and block 4 is actually block 19 or something. Crazy numbering), which is sewn to block 5, and then started sewing down the stuff on block 5, which is way way way down on the embroidery pile.

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I only sewed until the episode was over. Plus I need to find the other three colors of wool. They’re not where they belong. It’s OK. There’s a box. I know they’re in the box.

Then I wandered in here and ironed a cat…

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Hard to see on the Tyvek…but it will show up fine on the dark background.

Then did the other arm and the stuff floating around it…

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And the teacup on her leg. And We Won’t.

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Because (a) everyone can balance a teacup on their thigh in this position, and (b) We Won’t.

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What’s left? Three heads. And one speech bubble. The time change screwed me over. Not only did I have to try to go to bed an hour earlier (a rampant failure on my part to actually fall asleep), but I had to be up early for a parent meeting today. When I signed up for it back in January or whenever it was, I didn’t know it was the Monday after Daylight Savings. Or that there would be multiple disturbances in the night (coyotes AND raccoons…a double dog-barking whammy). Anyway. This will be a rough week…it always is. But hopefully I’ll get those heads done tonight and have this thing fully ironed down before I try to go to bed at an unnatural time yet again.

*The Animals, House of the Rising Sun

Time Will Prove Everything*

March 12, 2017

Well apparently every online service I’m using has switched up its format in the last 36 hours…or less. I’m sure there’s a good reason for it. In the case of WordPress, everything that was over here is now over there. It’s OK. I got this.

I meant to write yesterday, but I lost time to taxes. And no, they’re not done. Almost. Well, if by almost, I mean I’ve finished the hour or so it will take me to track down all my teacher expenses. So yeah. TurboTax wants me to file in 4 days, so they should come here and find all those expenses for me. I’ve found all the others.

Meanwhile, doing taxes takes away from very important artmaking time. I think I did a whopping 25 minutes of ironing yesterday and zero so far today (aiming for after dinner, I think). So yeah…I ironed a spool, an embroidery hoop, and a pair of scissors. That’s it.

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Still have the other arm and the stuff floating around that hand, plus the three heads, a cat and a teacup. Huh. That’s actually not a small number of pieces. I’m a gonna say I probably won’t be done tonight. Just guessing. Because it’s almost 7 PM and I’m not cooking dinner, because I’m not hungry, because it’s not really 7 in my head, so everything’s gonna run kinda late.

Calli has no break. But signs of arthritis. Poor baby.

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So she’s off walk duty for a while. Which doesn’t make her happy.

Gaming on Friday…I’m still stitching. It keeps me awake…I need multiple inputs. It’s interesting though that when I’m really tired, creating shit keeps me awake. So it IS my fault that I stay up late.

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I got a good chunk done Friday night…

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And then came home and tried to persuade the puppy to come inside instead of trying to chase possums or bunnies, because I was hearing big animals up in the bushes and he wasn’t…so I wasn’t leaving him out there alone with the coyotes.

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I did three nights’ worth on this…let’s see if I can remember what I did. I did a light blue bullion and fly stitch above the orange lazy daisies I did last week. Then I added a green fly stitch, but there was still green thread left, so I filled in with a chained fly stitch below the tree roots. And then I did a satin stitch in columns below the orange lazy daisies. It looks kind of like a wall. Maybe.

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Back to filling in the spaces.

Kitten during tax time…needing entertainment…

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Last night, I finished this block, Block 4 of Sue Spargo’s Folk Tails.

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It’s really bugging me that I haven’t done Block 3…but to work on the embroidery, I have to sew on the wool pieces that are on the block that’s sewn to it…like block 15 or something, I think. I may do some of that first…just a bit a day, to get me onto the next one. It bugs me to NOT do it in order. Left brain/right brain crap. I wanna be really creative and all, but only in a certain order. I’m like that with my own stuff too…I like to iron all the pieces down in order. It bugs me inordinately if I’m ironing stuff out of order.

Here’s the three completed blocks…

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I don’t think they actually go together like this.

So my plan for the week…finish ironing the current quilt down and get it stitched down and sandwiched…then start quilting by the weekend. Seriously, none of that should take very long. By the end of the week, I’ll know whether I should be making another bathtub quilt or something else. Because time is flying past me. As always. This week is less meeting-heavy, so it should be good for dog walking (well the little dog, anyway) and going to the gym, but also for artmaking. I’m hoping. Let’s not think about the grading (again. as usual.). The left eye tried to twitch this morning and then quit. So that’s a good thing. But right now? I probably need to make dinner (ugh). Because my leftovers are my lunches…so that would be a good thing to have done before tomorrow morning.


*The Smiths, There Is a Light That Never Goes Out (OK, this isn’t actually a quote from the song, but from one of the live recordings when Morrissey proclaims this post-song…2004 apparently).

I’m Not Catching on Fire Today*

March 10, 2017

Thanks to all for the birthday wishes. There’s nothing quiet about having a birthday at a middle school. That said, the million hugs kinda make up for the bad singing. Mostly. Really I was looking forward to coming home and making art. Sounds crazy, I know, and I did meet up and have a drink, and then went and got my favorite Indian food and picked up a library book (very important). After dinner, I went straight to the art. I think I ironed for more than 4 hours yesterday. Impressive.

I didn’t get ALL the letters, thus proving that you can read a message even with some of it missing…

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The kids followed through on a good birthday present…

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No. I’m not cutting my wrists. Just a long-term wish that I never quite made real. Now I have to, or as the girlchild put it, I’m stealing from my kids…

So the bottom is another pile of people. It looks a little chaotic here…it will be fine with outlining.

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Kitten is my faithful studio companion.

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I think I had Calli for a while as well.

Then ironing legs…

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And the giant World in a Crotch. Which I realize will set some people off.

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Eh. Sorry. Not. There’s a good reason for it.

So Calli is still limping and got herself stuck in the weeds…she got up there but couldn’t figure out how to get down without jumping on the hurt foot. She’s going to the vet today.

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And I need to do something about my weeds.

Later at night, puppy is refusing to come back in. He’s fine, by the way. No more explosions.

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Just chasing possums or bunnies…he separated a family of something and they were squeaking out there. Poor babies. And then the coyotes started howling. He came in then. So he’s not a total idiot.

And I kept ironing.

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And kept ironing. Remember this thing is SMALL.

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I’m mostly through the 200s…ready to start 300s, I think.

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Not bad for a school night. And an old lady.

*Cake, Sheep Go to Heaven

Am I Already That Gone*

March 4, 2017

Field trips…usually I like them. I suspect some of the annoyance this time was my incoming mood. But whatever. I liked the movie…this ice chest frightened me. I think it weighed 100 pounds, all ham sandwiches. And the seatbelt wouldn’t fit on it. And every time the bus driver took a turn, it would shift ominously toward me. Death by ice chest.


We arrived safely…my upwards sky view of the Fleet Science Center…


This is when my group of kids started to realize I was one of their stranger chaperones. Whatever.

I’m posting this for Julie…because it’s a bike. With fish cutouts. That were used (?) to print the fabric. Except I can’t figure out how they did such tight turns in the middle. And because I was trying to follow and keep track of 10 diverse individuals in the museum, I couldn’t even find the card to read it…


Same with the Sherlock exhibit. I went through twice, but so totally didn’t have the brainpower to figure out the mystery.


But I took selfies with the props.


Which makes me kinda like a middle schooler. No attention span, but damn, I got a selfie. I dare you to solve that mystery while you’re trying to keep track of 10 12-year-olds.

This was cool…it was at the start of the Sherlock mystery.


I wish I could say I’m gonna go back and figure it out, but I think the Fleet just makes me think of school field trips and I’ve got PTSD on that right now.

This is what happens when you send photos/video of Simba to the girlchild right now…


She misses him. She can have him at the moment, because when you have a lot of work to do, he’s an annoying butthead.

So I stared at this a lot last night. I did start drinking at some point. It’s OK…by then, I was watching videos the kids had made and was laughing.


Maybe that was the wine. Fuck. But you know if you’ve never been a teacher or lived with one, you just have no fucking idea what it’s like. I stress over my job and the kids and the time it takes constantly, and there’s no easy solution to any of it. And this year has been so hard with all the planning. I’m done. But I can’t be. Because I’m a responsible adult. No really, I am.

I’ll be staring at that screen for about another hour or two this morning, and then I’m done. Seriously. For Trimester 2. There is still another trimester. Sigh.

For those of you who were worried that I had lost Block 3 of the Folk Tails quilt…I was pretty sure it was sewn to another block…and it was. There it is…something about elephants needs to be sewn down.


For a while, I was trying to get all the wool bits sewn down first and then I thought I’d do the embroidery, but at some point, the embroidery needs to be done before you can sew stuff together, so I started doing that. So freakin’ organized. Anyway. I’ll figure it out.

I did two nights’ worth of stitching on the tree…it’s looking better with more variety of color and stitch types. I added a double fly stitch and more lazy daisies, but in a different color.


I’m glad I picked black for a background. It’s nice…although I can’t use any really dark colors. Pros and cons. Probably this is why I usually pick dark backgrounds for my quilts…I like the color pop.

Then I headed in to the studio to cut more fabrics, another hour and a half in. I did the heads and some of the hair. It doesn’t seem like much…


And there’s still not a lot of color in this piece, besides the flesh. There will be more. I’m hoping to finish the rest this afternoon. There’s not a lot left…


But I have to finish grades first, so they’re out of my hair. I still have kids trying to turn in late work. This morning. Nope. NOPE. Gradebook is closed. Respect my time. I have a hard enough time doing that myself.

And then art…because I’m tired of grinding my teeth and having my eyelid twitch. Gimme a break.

*Sarah McLachlan, Sweet Surrender

If You Bring Your Blue Sky Back*

March 3, 2017

I seem to be running late all the time. Not sure what happened. I know the left eyelid is now twitching. Last weekend it was the right eyelid, but I exercised and tried to take care of myself and the crazy backed off. I try to manage that stuff, manage the stress, but at some point, until I get a handle on grades really, it’s not going anywhere.

So I hung out with friends last night (that’s one thing that helps)…but I couldn’t find block 3 of the Sue Spargo thing I’m working on. I pulled everything out of the bag and looked at the picture. I know it exists. I remember sewing all those freaking spots on the tree…don’t I? Sheesh. The other Kathy (I stitch with another woman named Kathy, not my alter ego, although that exists as well) claims the cat stole it (certainly a possibility)…but I think it’s just sewn onto another block that’s in the other box where I’m sewing bits of wool on, the box I organized like last summer. And then forgot about. Yeah. That one.

Stitching is one of those things that reduces my stress, even when it’s 70 billion bullion knots. Julie (one of my other stitching friends) reminded me that when I started my first Sue Spargo quilt a million years ago I was terrified of the bullion knot, and then I did 90 trillion of them on one block and I was cured. True story. I can do bullions in my sleep now. So I started on block 4…with a bunch of bullion knots.


I’ll find the other one eventually. Not this weekend.

I spent a lot of the evening with doggy attentions. They are really missing hanging out with my ex (I told them it was this weekend too, and they are now even more upset…I am that boring…and I WILL be this weekend, until grades are done)…you will NOT grade. Because I am on your lap.


They do seem more friendly than a few months ago. A cold and lonely winter? Or just getting used to the little bastard. Calli’s look is hard to read. Make him stop? Why? Oh Why?


I might eat him…if you weren’t sitting here documenting the whole thing.


Well I gave myself one episode of some TV show to grade shit. I wasn’t in the mood. Too late. That’s a good way to motivate me…when the episode is over, I’m done.

So I went and did something else to release stress…picked all the fleshy bits.


Except I didn’t get to the heads. Yes. Heads. Plural. Seems to be a new trend for me.

I still have all these bits that go inside the body…bones and hearts and shit. I’ll get to those.


But look how tiny they all are. Sheesh. This quilt. That’s the end of the 300s up there on the bottom of the picture. The stuff on the top is all the 200s and 300s that weren’t flesh. I usually do them after. There’s a bunch of stuff floating around the hands.

I’m at just under 3 hours in picking fabrics…probably another 2 to go? I could do that tonight, but I really need to grade shit. Hopefully by the end of the weekend though. I can’t grade nonstop. It hurts my head.

Fabrics I’ve used so far on the left (mostly pinky bits)…stuff ready to be trimmed on the right.


I’m really looking forward to this little beastie. It’s a good size for getting expression out quickly…without killing me with a big quilt.

But before I get to any of that…it’s field trip day. With the tail end of a cold. OK. I got this. I think. It’s not like I have a choice.

*Peter Gabriel, Sledgehammer

Keep On Keeping On

March 2, 2017

The dogs are so excited when I come home from school and change directly into hiking gear. Of course, I haven’t quite gotten across to them the difference between hiking gear and gym gear, so sometimes they’re unnecessarily excited. And the little one tries to eat my shoes while I’m putting them on, so he really doesn’t get the idea of how he’s NOT helping me get ready. So we went to the same place as last time, which is kind of amusing because it’s a river valley and we had 3 inches of rain about 2 days ago. Yeah. So there was water. And mud. Followed by baths.

Same start as before…at least this was above water…


Unlike this barely floating bridge…which Calli decided to forgo…let’s just wade through the stream, mom. I carried the puppy across…there’s a gap at the other end. It’s jumpable, but not if you’re a tiny beast.


At some point, I realized it was going to be a muddy trip, so I went with it…this is runoff from the hillsides…the river is to the right…


It was overflowing in places…


And more was coming down off the hillsides, making more rivers…


All in all, a muddy trip. Frogs though! That was nice.


But wet. And muddy. I mentioned that, right?


The wildflowers are starting to appear…


And certainly, after baths, they were tired.


I did more leaves…


And I graded stuff…then made it in to iron…fleshy bits first.


Crawling around on the floor to pick a range of fabrics…


Got a bunch ironed down though…tiny little beasts.


It’s going quickly though…


That’s a plus. Well gotta get outta here early again for another meeting. Ugh. Yesterday was good until the last period of the day. It’s interesting how you carry that. I’m working on relieving stress. More art, more exercise, less of the bad stuff, less teeth grinding. Mantra for today (which already has an early meeting, a fire drill, and antsy kids). Yup. Keep on keeping on. (I don’t even have time for music this morning.)