Well, You Don’t Know Me, But I Know You*

January 10, 2018

I think the puppy must be about to burst. He’s been refusing to pee since the rain started. On Monday. I carry him out and even put him under a tree, but no. He’s wide-eyed, trying to escape back to dry parts (aka the house). I think he must be voiding himself somewhere unknown, like while I wasn’t watching, he’s learned how to use the toilet and is just badmouthing me in his head as I put on his leash and try to persuade him out into the bushes. Luckily, the rain is supposed to stop today. It’s not like we didn’t need it…we just didn’t need it in such large amounts in a short period of time, as the mudslides north of here attest. Timing is everything.

So really, Simba’s problems are minor in the bigger picture. He’ll poop somewhere, sometime. That part is guaranteed.

Yesterday was the first day back with students. They were pretty zoned out by the end of the day. So were the teachers. We started a new unit, so I got to draw and color with them. It was probably all any of us could handle.

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I had tutorial after school, so I had exactly zero brain by the time I fought the weather home. I read for a bit even…the book club book for February is kinda big, so I started early for once. I don’t always make it to book club, but I always read the book.

Then I made dinner and did the stitching I usually do afterwards…just a little a night. This is a closeup of what I finished the night before…

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And last night. Not sure I have the right variegated thread for the last word. Maybe I’ll go balls out with a teal or pink. Who knows.

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Then I really wanted to finish ironing this smaller piece that’s been rolling around my art spaces for months now.

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It only took another hour or so…ironed everything down…

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Pulled a leftover piece of background I had lying around (that’s the plus with doing smaller pieces)…and ironed the whole thing down. Easy peasy.

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Now she’s ready to be stitched down…sometime later this week? Maybe.

Then back to the drawing board. A little slower last night…brainpower reduced by day job.

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Land…water…there’s going to be space above, but I need to enlarge the whole thing to do that…or maybe just copy the top and tape it to the next page? But with this one, I think I need to see the whole thing. We’ll see. More tonight. The work day will be shorter…so that should help. We have to sit through some professional development (again), so that’s annoying.

Anyway. I see progress, even if it’s small.

All the animals are missing my kids…who are visiting cousins in Seattle. They are so in my face this morning too, because they had company yesterday, but today, will be left again all day. I feel bad for them…wish I could take them to school, but that can’t happen…too many kids with allergies. Plus Calli would pee on them in her excitement. And Simba might bite someone, because he’s an antisocial dick sometimes. And the cats are pretty unpredictable with humans.

OK. This headache and I need to go to school now.

*Laurie Anderson, O Superman

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Be My Very Own Constellation*

January 9, 2018

Well. I tried sleeping with the pillow over my head to shut the rain up (seriously, it’s not white noise to some of us) and then the wind picked up at 3 AM, so I’m not sure how much sleep I actually got around all that natural shit that we need to fall from the sky because drought. Always the drought. We’ve only had an inch of rain total (including last night) since July, so it really is a dry year…or a normal year, with last year as the crazy outlier. Half our students won’t show up today because of the weather, although a few little guys showed up yesterday…this is the first year we’ve started with kids on Tuesday instead of Monday. The district just wants us to have more and more professional development, and this is one of the ways they try to make it happen. It was good, because we got a lot of choice time instead of enforced crap…my coteacher and I did some planning and hopefully will get caught up. By June. Maybe.

And remember how I told you that school makes me more artistically efficient? I wonder if it’s because the non-art part of my brain is exhausted and dead when I get home, so the art part can run rampant. It really is about shutting that part up sometimes (just like I have to shut the art part up at school)…so I do think that is a factor. It’s OK…I’ll never be able to afford to retire, so I won’t have to worry about how I will make art when I’m old without the work distraction.

It was already starting to rain when I got home, but I knew the dogs needed exercise, so I leashed them up and literally dragged them out there. Well, the little one needed some significant persuasion. He kept looking back where he thought the dry car might be, and broke into a run at the end. The old lady does what she’s told. She gives me a look when it starts raining really hard, but otherwise, she’s just happy to be out there…

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It wasn’t too bad most of the way, but they were pretty wet when I got back…

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We did a short version, because it was raining pretty hard on the back end.

Puppy needed comfort from someone besides me when we got back.

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Mean old lady makes me go outside in this weather.

After that, I did a little ironing on this piece…there’s really no excuse for not getting it done. It’s small and easy. Nice filler when my brain isn’t quite ready for drawing.

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We’re watching one episode of Stranger Things a night with dinner…so when I finish eating, I’m working on the SJSA blocks until the episode finishes…this herringbone is going much faster than the buttonhole was…honestly, it’s not the stitch; this glue isn’t as hard to stitch through.

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This is what I finished the night before on whatever this is. Some bovine. I worked on it at my parents’…briefly.

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Then I went back to ironing after dinner.

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That’s where I quit…because I wanted to work on the drawing too…

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A totally different direction…there’s a world under them. I think I’m going to have to expand it a little at the top. But I think this is going to work. It was much easier to draw this…I don’t know why. Anyway.

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I’m hoping this one works out. I’ll finish drawing tonight, or as much as I can without extending it. I have a lot more stuff to put in it…of course! I like to fill space. You may have noticed that.

Anyway, let’s hope parents get their kids to school today, plus I survive it, so I can come home and iron a bit and draw a lot and sleep better than last night. I can do one shitty night, but two might hurt.

*Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication


That’s the Hard Part

January 7, 2018

In 2003, I started writing an art journal to myself, just documenting where I was with certain pieces and shows. I sucked at it for the first two years. I think there’s two entries in 2003 and maybe three in 2004. Then about halfway through 2005, I calendared it. And then started writing weekly because my computer told me to. Occasionally outside stuff slips in, personal life stuff, stuff that doesn’t even make it on the blog. The journal is where I document all the time on any given quilt, plus all the shows I enter and whether I get in or not. I write almost every week…with a few lost weeks due to computer glitches and a few lost weeks due to brain glitches. I started teaching full time in 2003 as well, so there’s documentation of the effect that work has had on my other work. I can search through the main document for mention of the old quilts I just pulled out of the pile to finish…I can find BirdFoot, but not the other one…mostly because (a) if it has a name, I don’t know what it is, and (b) I think it’s older than 2003. Then on top of all that, I’ve been writing the blog since 2004…although again, I didn’t start a regular schedule until 2006 I think.

I’m reminded of all this because this week is the first week of the new year. I used to just keep one huge document, but every time I opened it, it took forever to load, so now I write one year in a document and then add that to the main journal at the end of the year and start a new one. An 11-page document is easier to handle than a 150-page document. I also download a copy of it onto the computer about once a year, just in case the Google Doc (which is where I write now, because I can access it from multiple devices, even if I’m traveling) has some issue and disappears. There’s something important to me about the documentation. I use it a lot to remind myself of how things went, what I was thinking, where I was going.

So where am I at right now, the day before school starts up again? Well my right hand is still speckled orange and red, which will freak my students out (I’m OK with that). The left hand is barely green. I ironed a bit yesterday. I drew a bit yesterday, but more for fun than for an artistic goal. I had a meeting. I’m not ready (I’m never ready…this shouldn’t surprise anyone who hangs out with teachers. We never feel ready. We don’t sleep the night before school starts…sometimes every Sunday night is troubled.). We’ll get some planning time tomorrow, because we’re starting the week with more professional development, so that means we can figure out what the hell we were thinking before break (probably not very coherent thoughts, honestly). I looked at the calendar and my head hurt, so I stopped reading. I need to run some errands today, write warmups for the week, send the parent email, grocery shop, prep lunches for the week, and get my teacher brain out of storage. I can do all of that.

I ironed for a little bit yesterday. The tree leg is horrendously complicated. It’s not hard to do…just time-consuming.

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I went to an art group meeting…so far, being in this group has gotten me into two shows, so I feel good about it. I stitched during the meeting, because I don’t know how to sit still.

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Strangely, now I’m wondering if the face was supposed to be back stitch or running stitch. I finished the Palestrina knots around the body and then started the running stitches.

The meeting was at the Mingei Museum, which is one of my favorite museums in Balboa Park. They’ll be remodeling in 2018 though…so fewer shows. Too bad. They have a great kantha exhibit in there right now, plus a Navaho rug exhibit.

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I had seen this show already, but Arline Fisch is in our group and talked about her work in the museum, which was cool.

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Her wirework is fascinating.

Then I had to hang around for a while in Balboa Park, so I drew in the Sculpture Garden bar area…

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No sunset…too many clouds.

I started working with that skelly back and a front-facing figure, seriously trying to work stuff out, but it quickly devolved into whatever I felt like drawing. Hence the antenna I guess…

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I didn’t really finish, because I had to go wait for my ride. We were going to an opening downtown, so we didn’t want two cars down there (parking is awful) and there was no point in my coming all the way home.

The exhibit was Seeing Is Believing at Sparks Gallery (you can see most of the show at the link) and had some cool work in it…Larry Caveney’s Wonder Woman

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Polly Jacobs Giacchina’s Spiral Progression

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Cheryl Tall’s Couple from Madrid

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and her Horseman.

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Christopher Polentz’s William.

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David Cuzick’s Stop Yelling at Me #2

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Marissa Quinn’s Connection In-Between…

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And Alexander Arshansky’s Life of Pi

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Perry Vasquez’s Florbeza dominates the front window of the gallery…

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It was an interesting show. I went because of the surrealism aspect, although honestly, I’m not sure how surrealist it really was. Lenore Simon’s show is still there, so that was nice. We had a good dinner at the same place we keep ending up at when we’re in that area and then hightailed it back here for an early night. Sleep has been the mantra this break…which should tell me something. But trying to fill weekends with art seeing and making seems like a good goal for the next few months. The stress of work is always there…being able to mentally escape it for a few weeks is a relief. Now to continue that mindset throughout the rest of the school year. That’s the hard part.


Leaving in 2 Minutes…

January 3, 2018

Well I have a whopping 14 minutes here to publish something. Today is sorta crazy busy, compared to all the other days over break. I really did dump everything into one day. Easier to deal with? Who knows. My computer is charged, my bag has at least one sketchbook and writing-in notebook and more than 5 pens. Because you never know. You need all the kinds.

Ready to go back? Fuck no. Not even.

Yesterday was kind of a mental mess…I made the boychild his birthday cake…because he is supposed to be coming back today and he likes cake.

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While Satchemo got quietly stoned on catnip in the kitchen window.

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Yup. I decorated it. I am awesome that way. Seriously, one year I did a dragon and it was really cool. This batch of frosting was kinda old, though, so it didn’t work well.

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He just showed up by the way. So he’s alive.

I trimmed this and cut binding and sleeves for it…

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Same with this one.

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It was brainless work. All I could handle apparently.

This is the other quilt I’ve been haphazardly working on the last week. I drew it last year, did Wonder Under in June, fabric in? I don’t remember when…in between one and the other.

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Yesterday I started ironing it together. It won’t take long and this part is pretty painless.

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First almost-hundred pieces. Next section is that tree trunk…that will be a pain in the ass. Hope it’s worth it.

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I went to the gym, finished a book (Andy Weir’s new book Artemis…it was pretty good, but not as good as The Martian...too much unbelievable stuff, I guess.), cooked dinner, ate it, and then spent like 2 hours talking. I guess I needed that. A mostly nonproductive day. Oh well. It happens. I’m not even making any goals for today. I can’t think that hard yet. And I need to leave in 2 minutes.


You Know It’s Gonna Be Alright*

December 14, 2017

You know, I make quilts about some controversial topics sometimes…or at least topics that challenge some. Sometimes they’re easy to make, and sometimes they’re just really hard…they’re too personal, hit too close to home. This is my 15th year teaching, and I’ve had two students die (that I know of), one of lupus and associated damage, and one from a stupid accident that proves you should wear your helmet AND actually strap it onto your head. I’m sure there have been other deaths…a casual estimate based on how many kids probably go through my classroom each year puts me at about 3000 students over the years. I don’t remember all their names or faces or even how well they did in my class (probably better that way for some of them)…but I still care about most of them. I’ve had a couple who were probably borderline psychoses of some sort that made them more than a bit unlikable, and because of the populations I teach, there’s a couple I would slot into future (well, current) offenders of the #MeToo variety…or worse. You know when I have to report a 13- or 14-year-old former student to their current principal for sexual harassment…that kid probably isn’t going to get the help they need to figure out why girls don’t like his shit. Unfortunately I can’t fix them all. Honestly, I can’t fix any of them. I just give them a tiny piece of my empathy (when I can) and some bits of knowledge about how things work and hopefully insight into how to think a bit more critically than they did before. And then they move on.

Why so philosophical? Not Winter Break…not the upcoming new year…a gang-related stabbing in the park next to our school Tuesday night. Former students. One dead, one apparently in critical condition. It doesn’t matter if they were good kids or annoying as hell in 7th grade. It doesn’t matter if they got good grades or blew off everything, or somewhere in between, like most of them. None of it matters except that some mom or dad or other family member is sitting in the hospital with one, and some mom or dad or other family member is sitting at home without ever being able to see the other kid again. Because of territories and maybe (probably) drugs and a whole bunch of other stupid shit that doesn’t save the world or care for a child or cure cancer or just clean up a piece of the world that needs it. There are so many better things to do in our world than this competitive stupid shit. I hurt for their families. I hurt for their own potential…to be good people who care about other people, to maybe be an awesome dad or a cool baseball coach or an amazing musician or whatever they had in them to be. Hopefully the one who is in the hospital will get it and get out. Meanwhile, because of possible retaliation, we have to shut down our after-school programs so that our kids are safe going home. Mourn the dead, but feel anger toward them as well…although the teenaged brain is not fully developed yet. Know that when I look around my classroom, these are those kids. Some of mine will grow up and do the same thing, and there isn’t much I can do about that except provide empathy and teach them some tiny bits about how things work and how to think and tell them I hope they make better choices so I’m not sitting here 5 years from now, staring at their 7th-grade classroom picture, all full of uncertainty and attitude at the same time, wondering what they could have been if gangs weren’t a part of what was known, expected, family, excitement, danger, a way out of whatever crazy they were in, but finally just plain stupidity.

So that’s where I was at last night. And this morning, still there. Going to go to school and process all of that with my kids. The ones who will make these choices…or already have.

My life continues.

I got the boychild’s room ready. He comes home tonight (hopefully…snow and ice may cause issues, as always)…Simba was prepping his favorite sleeping spot in his room…

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The girlchild luckily doesn’t come home until the 23rd, so I have time to deal with this.

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And then ironing. I cut out the pieces from last night. Kitten actually ventured out again to help. I’m glad to see her in her regular spaces, despite Satchemo’s attempts to scare her away. I miss her.

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Ah. Yes. I’m relieved by this. It makes sense now. I did have to fix those spaces.

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They bugged me.

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Yes, I’m the only person who will really notice. What’s new? There’s something else in here somewhere where two pieces next to each other are the same fabric. They shouldn’t be. Oh well! Not sure I could find that one again if I tried.

So I added the cats on either side…not ironed down yet until I get the head(s) on there.

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Got the head in the right place, ironed neck, chin, cats in place.

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The first iron doesn’t hold everything down. I have to go back and iron with steam, 30 seconds on each section. Right now, I’m just basting it with a bit of heat. Arms and heads…

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Here’s all the loosey goosey bits that need to go around the heads…

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Still got a Kitten. Man, she’s fat at the moment.

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She used to be tiny. Not so much any more. Old age.

Ahh…Midnight. Miss you kitty.

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The top.

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And the whole thing ironed together, too big to even get in there. But she’s good. I like her. She turned out well.

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Of course, now I need to do stitch down and pinbaste and quilt and bind. In about 13 days. OK. Yeah. I can do that. I can. (This is what vacation looks like.)

Kitten. Still here.

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So there are good things mixed in amongst the bad. Like always. We need more good. Although there may be a gang-related quilt in my future.

*The Beatles, Revolution


And You Just Don’t Get It*

December 13, 2017

Ah that was frustrating. An entire evening into night of frustrating. I was doing OK until I got home. That’s funny…because I normally have some significant frustration on tutoring days, but that went OK. So I had to make cookies for a school thing, and Satchemo, the gray cat, has some bizarre human food issues…so I spent a good two hours chasing him out of the kitchen, even using the water spray bottle. He just doesn’t care. When the cookies were cooling, I covered them, but he pulled that off to go at them. What cat eats cookies? He also eats bread out of the plastic bag…rips the bag open to get at it. It’s just strange.

So when I needed to frost the cookies, he got a time out in the bathroom. Luckily his daddy backed me up on that once he got home. I felt mean, but he was being a dick (the cat). Meanwhile, I was trying to lay out the quilt to iron it down. I had to piece the background, so I did that in between cookie batches and chasing the cat…then laid the background out on the entryway floor, and that’s when I remembered something I said before…the spaces between the arms and the body should have the background in them.

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Fuuuuckkkk.

I stared at it for a long time, swearing a bit, plus yelling at the barky dog (that’s not efficient by the way…barking dogs don’t stop because you yell at them to stop)…realizing that most people won’t notice, but it will bug me. Forever. All the time.

So I iron-basted in the centers of the spaces and left the armpit areas loose…it’s this space…

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And this slightly larger one…

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All I have to do is draw the background behind her.

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Sigh. So I did that…hills and sand and rocks and mountains…

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Only 17 pieces…

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And I traced them…

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Turned them upside down and traced to Wonder Under (it’s a good thing I remembered that part…I don’t need more frustration right now)…

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Cut out the Wonder Under, ironed it to the right fabrics. This is one of the reasons I don’t put the fabrics I used for that quilt away until the quilt is done.

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Usually it’s not this large of a fuck-up, but it’s been bigger, trust me. The quilt I finished LAST December had the entire top portion flipped. That was a fuck-up. Maybe I shouldn’t do this shit in December? Yeah, well, that’s not an option.

Easy enough to fix…but I wanted to be done ironing last night. Oh well. Maybe tonight. I’m hoping the tickle in the back of my throat is not the inkling of illness. I don’t have the time (or energy) for that.

So tonight? Ideally, I iron those little bits in the armpits, add the head, and iron all that other tiny stuff down. That’s the plan. But as you can see, the best-laid plans of mice and men…or whatever that quote is…

I don’t remember when I thought about those background pieces…wish I’d followed through then. It was probably in the middle of the night, though…or driving to school. So much of what’s in my brain is lost some days.

Damn. I just sneezed. Aargh. Those little bug factories that I teach…

*Local H, Bound for the Floor


He One Spinal Cracker*

December 12, 2017

This is not the week of sleeping well. I’m hoping for that maybe next week. Well. Probably not. Maybe the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Sometimes I wish we lived somewhere that got more wintry weather…it seems (to me, ignorant) that it would be easier to sleep if it were darker and gloomier, instead of all sunny and 90 degrees with birds chirping. I could be wrong. I spend a lot of time thinking about sleep. Like the last 22 years. (Boychild will be 22 in January…that’s about right.) This morning feels like I got almost no sleep. I know that can’t be right, but it feels that way. Hopefully it will feel less like that once I get the first cup of tea down my gullet.

A vast sense of relief fell upon me last night. Seriously. That’s how it felt. I had my official observation yesterday. That’s done (well, except for another one when we get back in 2018). I finished my grades last night. That’s done (until March, when I have to do it again). My chiropractor was finally able to move the muscles that have been clamped down since late October, and that without a pre-chiro massage. Bad news? He’s moving to Phoenix. Huh. Too far to drive every three weeks. Just.

It just felt easier to BE all of a sudden. That was good. Hopefully I can hold on to that during the middle-school-fueled chaos of this week. Trying to ignore some adult drama…don’t need that, folks. Teachers should be responsible for their shit. It annoys me when they try to get out of stuff they’re supposed to be doing. Don’t get me wrong…we have to do way too much shit, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and do your part…stop trying to play the system. The system benefits kids. If you can’t handle that, get the hell out. Nobody’s in it for the money.

No, I never get voted for teacher of the year. Makes me laugh actually. I piss too many people off. Oh well. I accept my fate…science teacher until I retire (and work full time as a copyeditor, because I can’t ever afford to retire).

Anyway, that drama is also a done deal, one with which I no longer have to deal.

So just after dinner, my brain realized all those things were done and it sort of let go of some of the stress I’ve been carrying around for the last month or so. Nothing feels easy or perfect at the moment, but I can see progress all around. Good things. Getting all philosophical…

More on the lefthand wave. With 20 days left on this, I’m really just trying to fill in spaces. I should do something with that stuff on the bottom right. Too many holes.

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Who needs expensive cat trees, by the way, when you can just build a box tree with everything Amazon sends you.

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So I ironed some more…finishing all the little bits floating around the heads…

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Trying to focus on what women are “known” for, but also what we should be known for. I had to change the dropper bulb on the right…it was black, and the background is pretty dark, so it wouldn’t show up. I keep trying to remember that…which is why all the kitchen stuff is not black.

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So it was 250 pieces I did last night, but in all these small bits. That one is Kitten. She shows up in a lot of quilts. The calico in the older quilts is Juniper, my previous calico.

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I was tired at the end. Almost didn’t do the cat etc. But I just wanted to be done, so I can iron the whole thing to the background tonight. It’s 16 hours so far. Ironing it all down, that will be a bitch…it’s a big quilt. I’ll have to clean the floor in the entryway first and then lay it out and iron it on the tile…then do a final iron down on the ironing board with steam. Pain in the ass, honestly. I should make a padded board for the light table, just to give me another option for ironing. It would need to fold. Huh. Just thought of that. It’s not happening before this one has to be ironed down though.

So yeah, after teaching all day and doing tutoring, coming home, making dinner, I’m going to be on my knees ironing. Ironically.

This box has all the pieces ready to go. Lots of loose little bits. Oh wait, the heads are on the teflon sheet still. So the torso is one piece, there are the two side pieces, and then the heads. Everything else can be done on the ironing board. Well, there’s the two cats. They need to go on with head and shoulders.

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She’s almost done. Not really. Probably 10 hours of stitch down, then pinbaste for a couple of hours, then probably 20 hours of quilting and another 6 or 7 hours of binding. A small amount of embroidery and probably inking. So that’s another couple of hours. Maybe 40 hours left…in the next two weeks. I can do that. But only because I don’t have school next week.

My new app keeps track of how many hours I’ve worked in the last 30 days…73 1/2 hours, but more than 16 hours was copyediting. Still, 57 hours in a month of artmaking after working a good 60 hours a week as a teacher…my daily average is 2 1/2 hours. I did almost 2 hours last night and over 3 hours on Sunday. So yeah. I work a lot.

Still a cat in the sink.

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Not sure what he wants. Not water to drink…because he’s in the wrong place for that.

Then onto the next project…that should be an interesting one. And honestly, I haven’t thought past that at all, for once. Although I just got notice that there might be another show with one group I’m in, plus I know there’s one coming up with a June deadline…although I might already have work that will fit. We’ll see. It’s not like this administration doesn’t give me plenty of content. Not that I ever needed help with that. I’d be glad to sacrifice my needs to get him and his cronies the hell out.

OK. School calls. Almost got a whole cup of tea in me. I can almost focus.

*The Beatles, Come Together