So Motivate, Though It’s Hard to Let It Ride*

March 25, 2017

I’m taking a way-too-brief break from a day full of grading. I can’t say I’m having fun, but I’m trying to get it done. No promises honestly, because some of this is just a slog. I’m trying to sew the binding on the newest quilt while I listen to the videos…because some of them are a bit um long and maybe boring. But some are kids who never talk in class, and they’re really interesting because of just that. Certainly I’m also reflecting on how to redesign this project to get more of what I want for next year. That’s the hardest part…because I might not remember for next year, so I try to write notes on the calendar and/or revise now. Writing curriculum is a pain in the ass. I’ll be glad when I can just refine stuff and make it more awesome, rather than making it from scratch.

So this is my view today so far…

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Taking little breaks regularly (that’s what this is…a break from the grading) so I don’t go crazy. Maybe I’ll get the binding done too while I’m at it.

Last night, I was just grading until I got to 3 videos totaling 20 minutes from one kid. It was a giant NOPE moment. I gave up.

And I slept in this morning, mostly because there was barking in the night and it wasn’t mine. But it kept me up. And I was tired. You should always acknowledge tired and try to do something about it. Sigh. I try. I don’t know why the stretch from February’s 3-day weekends to Spring Break is so long and torturous, but it is. My patience worn thin. My workload has not abated all year. I’m just done. But I can’t be done. So there we are.

Two more weeks until Spring Break. Then the run through until testing…it will be rough, but it will get done.

I did more of the flowers on the left, filling in between, but running out of thread, so one flower is not done. In the middle. Oh well.

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As with everything else, I will figure it out.

My couchmates last night…the cat licking my arm and the puppy throwing himself into my lap.

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Hopefully the binding will get finished while the grading gets done. And then maybe tomorrow, I can continue tracing Wonder Under on Bathtub 4 (turns out that one is #4, even though I’ve done #2 and #5), although there’s some planning and cleanup that needs to happen first, of course. So much work. Ugh. Overwhelmed. Buried. I really want to go for a walk…but I can’t do that…maybe tomorrow.

I do have plans for tonight, although they’re not ideal. I will get out of the house with my sketchbook. So I have 5 more hours. Use them wisely. Stop wasting time. You will just pay for it later.

*The Roots, What You Want

Now That She’s Back in the Atmosphere*

March 24, 2017

Well. Tired. Yup. Need more sleep. I try. Well, not very hard. But I do try. There’s just a space between enough sleep and happy because I got to make art, and I lean towards the latter. I also know that should be “toward”, but it sounds weird. Regional vernacular. See even when I’m bloody exhausted, I can figure out grammar. And that’s important. Ha! It’s really not. But whatever.

So yesterday I had quilt class, for the first time since I think September. It’s not going away for a while…but eventually my teacher will move north to her incoming grandchild and I’ll have to find another group of like-minded women (this might be incredibly difficult) who meet locally (also difficult). Sigh. But not now. So that’s good.

I wanted to be handsewing the binding at said meeting, but that would have meant even less sleep the night before, so I just got everything ready. And it’s probably good that’s all I did, because when I started sewing last night, I realized I had been a math dumbass (not surprising after midnight…math is not my strong point and it was an improper fraction too) and had to recut the binding. But the question of what to do at the meeting was easy enough, because I do have another deadline looming (they always loom…they don’t ever just come in and sit down for coffee and biscuits, let alone come in and start doing the dishes)…so I started tracing the Wonder Under for the next quilt. I don’t usually overlap when I’m working, unless there’s a jump in line. I have a couple of quilt tops that aren’t stitched down, for example. And some others that aren’t what I would consider serious art quilts that are in stitchy limbo. But generally I get all the way through one before I start the next one. I think a one-day overlap on these two is not a huge deal though.

I got a little over an hour in and about 100 pieces traced. Hopefully more tonight, but we’ll see…because I had to grade last night and I will have to grade tonight and perhaps every night until June 15.

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It’s such a relief when I don’t have to grade. So rare too.

I started doing flowers on the left side…but I only did every other one. I’ll have to figure out how I’m going to keep handling that.

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Then into the room of fabricky goodness, where Kitten deposited ALL the fur on this quilt. Bindings on, sleeves on…

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Pinned down. Yup. Used an existing fabric, which luckily I had enough of to cut another set of binding strips that were 5/8″ wider. Sigh. I hate to waste fabric. See the cat hair though?

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I think she needs a bath. Not that a bath will solve the hair problem.

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So now it’s all ready for the handwork. Woo hoo! Finished in March. Leaving me 5 weeks for the next one, except I will be gone for one of those weeks. YIKES. OK. Deep breaths. I got this.

Now I know you just come here for puppy pix…and he’s not a puppy…just a little furry asshole.

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Who is often cute. And bitey.

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But yeah…lots of tummy rubs and scratches were needed last night…and this morning, I need to get my butt out of here. Like now. Yikes…

*Train, Drops of Jupiter

When You Gonna Wake Up and Fight*

March 23, 2017

Hey. So. When art brain is on a roll, it’s hard to shut her ass down. Last night, 12:35 AM (let’s remember I have to get up at 6:30 to get to school on time), I’m staring at the current quilt, thinking…wtf. I need to finish this. I need to finish it now. I can do that. Look at clock. Fuck. Dammit. Aargh. So yeah, I COULD finish it, but bedtime would probably have been closer to 1:30. On a non-school night, no problem. Sometimes having so many school nights just sucks. I can’t just head in an hour later and make it up in the evening. Even calling sick is so much of a pain in the ass that I rarely do it. Get a sub. Make sub plans. Figure out how to get the sub plans to school (once showed up, barely walking, still in pjs, feverish, barely post-vomitous, just to dump three pieces of paper on my counter and then drive back home to crawl back into bed). Yeah. Not easy.

Anyway. So. I did NOT finish. Because I am a responsible adult. Mostly. Really.

I did come home and walk dogs…which was a problem because Calli demanded to go. I wasn’t going to take her because she’s still limpy, but she really really wanted to go. So we limped. She’s going back to the vet Friday. If it’s arthritis, then she needs something else.

Julie! Here’s a bigger shot of that weird plant you couldn’t identify before. It’s not a yard plant…out in the middle of all the wild areas. Multiple plants…

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Spiky balls. And the flowers are red on top, but the lower ones are yellow. Freaky.

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This is Simba when he wants to go outside but doesn’t yet realize it’s raining.

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He hates water.

I have had some issues with dinner lately. I just don’t feel like eating anything. And then nothing I have sounds good. I wanted pie last night. I settled for French toast and Brussels sprouts. Why? They are both foreign? European dinner?

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It was actually pretty good. Needed sausage. But my store hasn’t had any for a long time. Things to hide in your freezer for weird-ass nights like last night.

I graded…see, I made puppy tired. Midnight’s look is amusing.

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Then I added another twig branch thing in the bottom right. Another brown thread.

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And then while watching the end of the episode of The Magicians (notice that Midnight is now sitting next to me…puppy’s foot is still over there), I worked on this, the fourth (not fourth) block of Folk Tails…couching threads forever on this one, which is nothing when you consider that each of those brown spots is going to be surrounded by tiny bullion knots. Pray for me.

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Finally into the quilting room. Kitten moves over, mostly, and I quilt the background…

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I think the quilting took about 4 1/2 hours. But it’s done…

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And then I trimmed it…

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And I found a binding and cut it and the sleeves…

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And that’s when I had that conversation with art brain about the importance of sleep. It doesn’t care. If it were summer break, I would have stayed up. Hell, if it were Friday night, I probably would have stayed up. Wednesday though? Aack. Nope. Too much to deal with at school to do that. Need some reserves to deal with the annoyances.

With that, I have a parent meeting this morning…quilt class tonight, but I won’t have time to put the binding on before I go…which does suck, but it’s not like I didn’t try. Sure I could have NOT exercised…but I needed to do that. So. Priorities I guess. Next quilt is ready to go though.

*Shinedown, Sound of Madness

It’s Not Going to Stop*

March 22, 2017

You know how when you go to a website where it already knows your user ID and password, and it has that box to click Remember Me? If it already knew who I was when I got there and I didn’t click that box, would it forget me? Do I need to remind it to Remember Me every time? I just don’t know. It’s shit like this that keeps me up at night. I want answers. (Actually, that last bit IS what keeps me up at night.)

My head’s going in circles still with the to-do list, but I think if I just bust through a bit of it every day, I’m gonna make it. As my co-teacher said, we both have significant others who will be doing music stuff on Saturday, so we can just GRADE ALL DAY. Doesn’t that sound like fun? I know, right? SIGH. Deep heavy sigh. Then again, I’m the one grading in line. The plus is my eyelids aren’t twitching yet. But the fact that I haven’t finished grading the last unit and the next unit is due Monday is causing me some stress. Yup. Next year it won’t work like this, but for now, this is how we roll.

Yesterday’s teaching was frustrating for me…mostly because even after I figured out how little they knew about graphing and Google Draw (I can deal with that), there were the attitudes, mostly the “Please give me the answer because this is hard” attitude. I’m OK with school being hard. Just try…that’s all we ask. It was interesting to see who jumped in and did and who sat there and stared at it, hoping it would go away. I can’t deny feeling that way sometimes, but you know, it doesn’t go away. Funny…reminds me of one relationship as well…where I know it’s work and not magic and the other person never figures that shit out. The worst of the kid attitudes though were the whiners, the “I don’t get it” crew. WHAT don’t you get? Did you try? Nope. Big fat nopes. Just whiny. My job can be frustrating.

So first of all, here’s the asshole mockingbird. That’s the wires across from my house. He was in the neighbor’s tree.

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Interestingly, he was totally silent last night…incoming storm (which still hasn’t appeared). So I need more rain to keep him quiet? Sigh.

Then Calli is still having foot problems…so she used to run to the mailbox with me, and now she just sits by the car…

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Waiting for me to come back…

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Unlike this one, who does not know the word patient in any way, shape, or form.

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Um. What did I do? Oh. So I’m going through this tube of threads in order and it was brown next. I didn’t want brown flowers, because those are dead flowers, and why would I want to stitch dead flowers. So I did twigs on the right instead. I’ll deal with filling them later. Like maybe in May.

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Then I spent over an hour grading while the girlchild FaceTimed me. I did finish all the late stuff and the one assignment I had started grading in line, so that was good. I’m getting there. Seriously. It’s just slow and painful. It helps to talk to someone while you’re doing it.

Kitten was ready for me to start quilting again…although moments later, she fell off this. Mean of me to laugh.

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I caught her. And then went back to outlining.

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The machine was being cranky…I’m not really sure why. I cleaned everything out and rethreaded the whole beast, but the tension was off. Then I noticed the feed dogs were half up and half down. I can’t figure out why that would have an effect, but it started stitching correctly when I fixed that.

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So I kept outlining. But I thought it should go faster. I always think that though.

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I have about three hours in…

This is the pile of dark blue fabrics I’m apparently collecting.

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It’s my favorite background color. So when I go buy enough for the next quilt, I often can’t choose, so I buy two. Sometimes I end up using one on the back, but sometimes I just save it for the next quilt.

Not this one, obviously. There’s a vagina in the peas.

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And a ribcage in the carrots.

My favorite part is when I finish the outlining of the face…it’s where all the character of the piece is…the duct tape section came out perfectly. I still need to deal with the blue spots on the forehead…damn batiks.

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So that was well after midnight, which explains my grogginess this morning. I did start (barely) quilting the background. It won’t take long…tonight for sure. I swear. I need a binding too…hoping there’s something here that will work. Otherwise I may have an issue. Sigh.

Here’s the old lady in one of her favorite sleeping positions…

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She’s a sweet girl. Even the other one is sweet at this hour, until I try to get him to go in his crate. Then he’s a bitey asshole.

So yeah. Day sucked until I got to tutorial and kids actually were thinking, and then coming home and hanging out and then getting shit done that I actually cared about…then it got easier. Deep breaths for today (the assignment from yesterday continues!) and remembering dogs and quilting will be at the end of it.

*Aimee Mann, Wise Up

Like a Ninja

March 21, 2017

I appear to have misplaced my brain this morning. I can’t think. I can’t even direct thinking…like “why don’t you think about art? or school?” Nope. The brain is just like NOPE. Girlchild called last night about all this stuff piling up, and I was like, yeah. There’s too many things. That’s how you get overwhelmed…too much to calendar, or you calendar it and you keep having to move it, because you’re in the middle of doing one thing when the other one (or 5) pops up in your calendar. I just moved 4 things from last night to tonight, because I didn’t have time to get them done…and then I added a new thing. I’ll get caught up (or die) eventually, but at the moment, it does seem like I’m running around with my hair on fire. I’d like that to mellow out a bit please. If you’re taking requests, that is.

So here’s how it looks in real life…I don’t think I’ve ever been to a book signing. I mean, I feel like I have (wait, I know I went to a kid one with my own children)…but Jenny Lawson of Bloggess fame (and hopefully fortune) was coming to San Diego. I’ve been reading her blog for years and own the other two books. She’s funny. And deals with depression. Two of my favorite things, right? Anyway, what the hell, I wanted to hear her talk. So I drove up there, early, hoping to get a seat. Well. That didn’t happen, but it was OK. I did however grade in line, waiting to get in. Seriously. Because I don’t wait anywhere without something to do.

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I’m behind. I told you. But this is me on Google Classroom grading warmups while standing in line. Like you do.

She was awesome, as rambly and sarcastic and savage and funny in person as she is on her blog and in her books. I’m glad I went.

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I did not even try to wait hours in line for a signature. I’m good. I didn’t have that level of hardass fan in me. I was tired and I hadn’t eaten dinner and I still had shit to do last night. Besides, I totally forgot to bring a book. I could have had her sign my sketchbook, because I did have that (of course)…and she probably would have done that, since her current book is all the crazy drawings she did to fight through depression. Gee, I don’t know anything about that shit. But I couldn’t handle the number of people in there any more, so I drove home.

And did the stuff I can handle at the end of the day. I mean, sometimes I go out at night, but it’s usually with people I know really well by now. So that helps. I don’t have much energy left at the end of the day for dealing with things I don’t know. There has to be incentive, like cool art or something. Crazy authors. That shit.

I did the French knots on the left side, which will be the centers of flowers…they rambled down into cross stitches below to use up the last bit of thread.

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And then I quilted! Now that’s what I wanted to be doing. Not that I didn’t love listening to The Bloggess talk…but if she could have just shown up in my studio and talked to me while I sewed? That would have been awesome sauce.

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Even though I was tired, I had energy for the quilting. I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s there.

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Last night, it was mostly because I wanted to see her with the outlining. This is where stuff starts to pop.

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I stopped there because it was after midnight, but I didn’t want to. I just knew I had four more days of school to get through, so I needed to. Sleep is important, folks. Don’t forget that.

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I’ll definitely finish the outlining tonight…and make a good start on the background stuff, if I don’t just outright finish her. We’ll see. I have quilt class on Thursday, so it would be nice to get a binding on her so I can sew it down. And then start the next one. Like a ninja. An art ninja. I’m kind of a grading ninja too. That explains all the black I wear. In case you were wondering. Now before I have to leave, I’m going to do one of the five things I just moved on the calendar. Like a ninja.

I Want a Meaning from the Back of My Broken Hand*

March 20, 2017

I feel like my weekends haven’t had enough art lately. It’s just a lot of work and errands and trying to catch up. Sometimes that stuff is art-related, like this weekend, when I had to pack up two quilts to ship out of here, plus go to a meeting about an exhibit I’ll be in later this summer. But there’s very little doing…and that drives me a little bonkers sometimes. I like those long expanses of artmaking that come with breaks and weekends. A nice 6-hour run of ironing shit down…really helps you get through the week. I think I got about 25 minutes this weekend. Total. Sigh. Maybe next weekend. Life goals.

Whereas my cat has figured it out. Granted she doesn’t have to go to work to support the rest of us. And she’s lying on the drawing for the next quilt.

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Oh, so I got this thing called a Rocketbook, where you can draw or write in it and then basically scan it into your computer. And then when it’s full, you can microwave it up to 5 times to erase everything and start over. This is like crazy science here. But I’m looking forward to trying it out. You have to use special pens, unfortunately…odds are I won’t like them for drawing, but I’ll try it. It sounded so close to what I want, to be able to just download drawings from my head onto the computer. I’ll let you know how it works. You can even code pages to go to certain folders or whatever. So if I wanted to be able to take notes on my staff meetings, since I’m not allowed to do that electronically any more…I could use this notebook and then scan it into a work folder. If I wanted to waste pages on that, right? Well it was a thought. If the drawing doesn’t work out, that’s what I’ll use it for instead.

I am trying to stay caught up with this. I did a rosette stitch row on the left, the darker blue, and then did lazy daisy leaves and a stem in green above it.

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I still need to go back in and fill some of the stuff inside the center bits.

I did a little more on this as well, while finishing up the show I was watching. I don’t like leaving mid-episode.

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Then I went and dehaired this beast again (Kitten really likes to deposit hair on it) and then ironed it, sandwiched it, and pinbasted it. Easy peasy.

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I’m trying to use up weird old fabrics with no other purpose. I really have no clue why I bought this fabric, but I know it was like a million years ago.

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The fabric says 1997…so not as long as I thought, but still a 20-year-old fabric finally getting used. Well hallelujah. Seriously. I don’t know why I bought it. I so never use stuff like this. I was pregnant in 1997. Maybe it was pregnancy brain. Because a baby would want bell peppers and turnips and beets and dancing watermelon ladybugs? I just can’t explain it.

Anyway, in good news, I plan to quilt tonight, although I will probably have to grade first. I did that last night too. I’m permanently behind. WAY behind. Sigh.

So I mentioned last week trying to research some other female or other gendered artists. I started with Toyen, who was born Marie Čermínová, but as an adult seemed to prefer being male. It’s hard to get a good idea of what people wanted or thought if they weren’t big writers. A lot of the information about Toyen comes from other male artists or critics of the era. I can understand being an artist in the early to mid 1900s and preferring male status…because he was able to draw and paint some subjects that women would have been discouraged from picturing. Well, that still happens, doesn’t it?

He was mostly associated with surrealism, with some cubism thrown in, although those teeth in my girdle are neither…well, maybe you could argue surrealism.

Here’s a link to a gallery of some of his art.

Here’s a link to an article about Toyen as a feminist, which other articles have disagreed with. It has a good discussion of why there is so little information about him though, being both Czech and a surrealist.

This article is more background information, with a variety of photos that show Toyen dressed both as man and as woman over the years, which notably is less important than the art itself. But intriguing nonetheless, trying to understand whether the appropriation of male was as a transsexual, or if it was for the freedom of being a male artist. I have to wonder what I would have done in the same situation. I have the luxury of a society that is more accepting of women as artists, even women as artists instead of or at the same time as being a mother. Notice I say MORE accepting…I don’t actually believe a good chunk of society is really accepting of that. But we can get away with it.

Anyway…things to think about. What would you do to be an artist if you had to?

*The Killers, All These Things That I’ve Done

‘Neath the Black, the Sky Looks Dead*

March 18, 2017

I’m thinking that really what I need is to take a day off of work and purchase one of these…


Hopefully it’s soundproof. I really really like the idea of this. I think the cats would be OK with it if there were a cat flap. I mean, I know they’re selling these mostly for kids, but WTF. This is my dream. Now fill it with pillows and move the alarm clock way the fuck out of the room, and then let me sleep in peace for like a week. I joke about the last time I got a good night’s sleep was before I was pregnant with my son…who turned 21 this year. Yeah. I wasn’t joking. That’s for real.

The mornings have been beautiful this week. One of the benefits of Daylight Savings being gone. It’s gone, right? I can never remember. Is this my life ON Daylight Savings? Or OFF of it?

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And these came yesterday…gonna put them on the car so I can get keyed in all my local parking lots.

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Anyway. I came home from work yesterday and moved everything on my calendar from yesterday’s to-do list to today’s to-do list. I’m not sure it will all get done, but I really couldn’t deal with it. I knew I had a show to go to last night, but later, so I tried to do something useful. For instance, I had three days of 1 Year of Stitches to do…because I just lost it this week apparently. I’ve been really good up until now…never more than a day behind. I had found two batches of some perle cotton in a color range, so I decided to just use one a day. Hence the purple and blue from before. These three are the yellow above the blue wheels (under the tree) and then the orange bullions in the grasses to the right of the tree, and then I went in with the red and filled in the yellow bits, then went down and did some French knots in the fly stitches under the tree.

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I was going to do some fill in around the blue and purple, but I think I want to use something variegated in there. For interest. Maybe today’s…

Here was my lap partner.

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Pyscho puppy was in and out. I just throw balls for him in between taking a stitch. Literally. It’s like one stitch per throw.

Then because I wasn’t budging off the couch until I had to eat and get ready to leave, I finished stitching down all the wool and cotton on the block that’s attached to the third block I was supposed to be embroidering on (if that makes any sense at all…because it only barely does to me)…

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And because I still didn’t have to leave, I started the embroidery on that block…couching a thicker thread with a thinner one…two needles going at once.

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There’s a lot of that in this quilt. I really do find this embroidery relaxing. Sure, I could have come in here and sandwiched the quilt last night, but my feet are hurting…that damn inner-foot arthritis. Only hikers with flat feet get that shit. I guess I need new shoes (not hiking boots…school shoes) again.

Then I went to the show, which was out in the boonies…and actually enjoyed myself…

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Even when the drunk guy tried to drag me out onto the dance floor (foot is still hurting…plus drunk guy)…but it was really late when I got home, so I went pretty much straight to bed.

This morning, I’m trying to be focused. The problem is the number of things on which I need to focus. So my brain is trying to distract itself…like wouldn’t you like to make one of these small quilts next?

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Well yes, I would…however, I can’t. I have a show coming up and I’m trying to stay focused on it and the 17,000 other shows that are picking away at my brain at the moment. At some point, I will just say Fuck You to all of it and do something I want to do. Climate change is poking at my brain at the moment.

Although I found the one I really am doing next, since I got the other rejection, confirming that I’m sticking with bathtubs…and I really like this one. So I’m good.

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There’s even a piece of cheesecake in this quilt (can’t see it in this photo). So that’s cool.

And it only has 695 pieces.

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Wait. Seriously? OK. So get your act together Kathryn, because you’re gone for a week in April. Counting this coming week, that gives you 5 weeks. Dammit. OK. I got this. One of those weeks is Spring Break, so I can put in some serious hours. Don’t think about school and grading…you’ll figure that shit out. You always do. Sleep? You suck at it anyway. I don’t even know why you worry about that.

I did just realize I forgot to schedule the machine in for cleaning/adjustment, so I scheduled that. Right now. In the middle of writing this post. I’ll be done with this quilt, but I’ll still be in the pre-quilting stages of the next one. So that’s awesome.

OK. Get a grip. Make a post-it note list. You know you love those. Maybe eat something and take a shower. And at least one more cup of tea.

Damn mockingbird is still keeping me up at night…a reader suggested I look at Failure to Launch…which I have not seen…but maybe I should…

I guess the difference between me and her is that I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird…I don’t really want to kill it…I just want it to shut up.

*Soundgarden, Black Hole Sun