Tying My Neurons into Knots

August 11, 2017

Well. That was it. Summer break. Oh thee of little sleep and lots of moving shit around, thy will did not include a big summer quilt like always (there was a quilt…it just wasn’t big). My left eye never stopped twitching (that’s a new one).

My goal this year, because I always have one, is to be more zen. Now the girlchild claims I’m the least zen person she knows, so it should be easier to be More zen. Anyway. Let’s see how it goes.

I did enjoy the sunrise this morning. It was brief, but beautiful.

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Guess I will be seeing more of those. Although normally I wouldn’t be up and showered yet. Today is special for that. Thank you, today, for the sunrise, which makes up for how I feel right now (not really, but maybe it will later).

I’m supposed to be wearing Hawaiian stuff today for the back-to-school conference. All black it is. Because if I were in Hawaii, I’d probably be wearing all black at least one of the days. I don’t own any Hawaiian. I’m not buying Hawaiian. I am the worst team player ever (unless it’s shit I care about…then I’m one of the best).

Midnight hangs out in here. Well. When I’m in here, everyone is in here, except for Simba, who likes the boychild better, because he scratches his belly nonstop and lets him loll all over him.

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One of the biggest problems of the new school year (so far) is that my prep moved to the afternoon, which affects my food schedule. This is a big deal when you’re a diabetic who manages her blood sugar with diet. People say dumbass things like, “Well, just eat during class.” When I’m teaching, I’m pretty fully engaged with what I’m doing. Which is what you WANT for the teacher of your child, right? No way in hell am I gonna remember to eat until it’s too late and I’m shaking. Unfortunately. So I need some solutions. This would be good if I could remember to do it, or not hate the meal by Wednesday if I premake them. Or whatever.

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Girlchild suggested I go to bed earlier so I could get up earlier and prep a meal. Yeah. Well. Just because you go to bed earlier doesn’t mean you will fall asleep earlier. I guess that’s an old-people problem…except I’ve always been like that. So I’m trying to figure that out. Realistically, I have until next Wednesday, because that’s when the kids start.

Anyway, I was determined to finish quilting yesterday so I could go buy binding. So that’s what I did.

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I finished the quilting in the middle of the afternoon, which worked out perfectly, because I went to the fabric store on the way to counseling. I even remembered wiper fluid for the car, after going without it all summer (a mistake). They even tried to upsell me an engine additive. Sigh. No.

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So after that, I spent about 2 hours cleaning the bedroom, including trying to move the bed by myself, which was a huge mistake. But I made major progress in there, which is awesome. What’s not so awesome is how many sets of sheets I have. I’m pretty sure if there’s a zombie apocalypse, sheets are not gonna save me. (I don’t buy sheets. My mom does. It’s a thing. Actually, I buy one set of flannel sheets every 10 years or so, because I like them in winter. Plus they have cool things on them like penguins.)

That said, all the sheets are now homed appropriately. And in an organized fashion (not by set, but by type…I like to mix and match.).

So it was late when I started this. I was working on the bedroom because I had to wash the binding fabric (I wash everything) and then I just kept going on the bedroom. But trimming the quilt was a bitch. Sometimes it is. For one thing, it couldn’t be wider than 24″, so there was that…and then the boxy bit at the bottom wasn’t quite perfectly boxy, so that made trimming it a pain in the ass. Hence all the recuts and recuts and can we trim this shit again?

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But I eventually (sweatily) got there.

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I don’t usually leave more on one or two sides than the others, but I liked how it looked. Kind of like an ancient scroll, the story of climate change in the future, when we are all living on a very small piece of land because nowhere else is habitable. That’s my other nightmare right now, after North Korea bombing San Diego, because it’s a military town…oh, and the Yellowstone Caldera. That too. Because I’m less than 1000 miles away. I don’t want to experience any of those things. And I was only halfway kidding when I told the boychild I was turning the pool into a bomb shelter this fall.

Then the binding went on. I used to always do darker bindings, but that doesn’t always work, especially when the background is already dark. I wanted to stick to that gray blue from the bottom part of the quilt…

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I stayed up way too late, yes. And yes, that’s Bloodline. A cheery show. Really. Tortured people who don’t seem to be able to do it right. A good choice.

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So there she is, staring back at us. The artist’s gaze. I hope you can see the What the Fuck Did You Do in her look. This thing needs a title (and it probably can’t be that…although it’s appropriate to the quilt).

Today I start the new school year. Tonight I (a) move the bed with the boychild’s help and (b) sew down all that binding by hand. And let my brain percolate over the next one, which is tying my neurons up in knots, let me tell you. I can storytell what I want it to say. I’m just not sure how to say that in images. I’ll get there. I’m just not there yet. I do have something else I can work on for the next few days if it’s an issue though, so I’m OK. No worries brave readers. There’s always art to be made.


Last Hike of Summer Vacation

August 9, 2017

Today the boychild and I hiked to celebrate the girlchild’s 20th birthday, because she is 3000 miles away and wouldn’t have hiked that far with us if she were here. Or maybe it was just the last day of summer vacation where I could actually find the time to hike at a reasonable temperature (time is irrelevant in Southern California summers…temperature is the determinant factor of hiking time). Yeah, that’s it. Boychild leaves Monday and it’s been a while since we hiked for realz, so he picked one hike and I vetoed it because climbing mountains is not good for me right now, and then he and I decided we could figure out random trails (really, I figured that HE could figure it out, and he did) to try to make a loop out of something we’ve done as an out as far as the girlchild can possible stand it and then back (which usually ends up being 5 miles or so, but because she was only there in spirit, we managed just over 7 miles). AND…there was fog in the morning, which was abso-fucking-lutely delightful. Seriously. Cool wet fog. Who woulda thought?

But wait. Because I am chronological. Tuesday night, I did some of this in the feather stitching again…a fly stitch with a straight stitch…

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Kitten is more playful when the dogs are gone…

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Then I quilted…about 2 1/2 hours yesterday…

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Then Windows tried to auto-update and killed my computer…

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Boychild fixed it this morning.

More quilting…

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All I have left is the head and the rocket and the spaceship…and then the whole damn background. I was going to get some done today, but that hasn’t happened yet. It will.

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So we got up bloody early to beat the heat and went out to the Crestridge Ecological Reserve, which had mostly no people, a few coyotes, one tiny snake, and a shitload of bunnies.

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I haven’t been out here for a couple of summers…

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Yes, the sun eventually came out, but it wasn’t too hot out there. Sweaty, but not hot. And poison oak, yes. Right there. At one point where the trail was kinda not trail-like, I was inching around a poison oak bush and talking to it about not touching me.

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Yup. Proof the girlchild was with us in spirit. Left by the side of the trail.

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She whines on hikes. Unless there’s chocolate. And sometimes even if there IS chocolate. Lots of old trees…

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And some transmission towers for the noise effect.

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There’s those towers after hiking a mile further on…

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Pretty much this is always my view, behind the spiderweb destroyer…

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The trail had been hit hard by last winter’s rains…at least this part of it. This would be the off-the-beaten-path part of what we did.

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I think he has air!

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This part was blocked off…the ditches are taller than I am…

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I saw lots of whatever this is (Julie!)…

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More ditches…to be avoided so no broken ankles.

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We went around and up to and past that water tower…

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Up up up. Yeah. It’s warm. It’s near the end. He trudges on, happily. I’m tired.

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But I did it. Only an 800-foot gain though. That’s about right for the bad shape I’m in. A good end to the summer hiking with the boy. Man. Whatever. That kid of mine.

OK. Need to finish the quilting and put a binding on that sucker. But first? Chiropractor. He’ll be amused by my morning activity. I always wait until he does the first check and asks, so what the hell have you been doing? My back is fucked up differently based on whether I’ve been quilting, hiking, lifting weights, or grading papers. He loves it. Really.

This Could Be the End of Everything*

August 8, 2017

Ugh. Get act together. Mornings are hard. Yeah, I know it’s not early. I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing. Straight up, I’m not entirely sure WHAT I’ve been doing, so don’t ask me. There were maps and trails and boychild took over the mousing, and the girlchild called briefly, and there were dogs and cats and all that. Sometimes I think time just does a slippy thing and wanders away from me. Like when I’m quilting and I look up at the clock and go Holy Fuck. Gotta go to bed. But then I lie there and can’t sleep. Welcome to my world. Maybe I should have just quilted all night.

No, you know how with daylight savings time, they always tell you to adjust slowly over the next week, getting up a little earlier every morning so the day of isn’t a shock to your system? Yeah, well, I always try to do that with school too. I don’t like mornings and I stay up way too late normally, and during summer break, I stay up even later, but Friday I have to be at school before 8 AM, which is earlier than we actually start, but they key everything into the elementary schools, which start earlier than the middle schools. And there’s gonna be massive parking issues, because our lot is closed and there isn’t enough parking, so I don’t even wanna deal with that…to the tune of my considering riding a bike or walking to school (OK, it would take close to an hour to do that). Blaargh.

Anyway. Mornings. Nonfunctional. Not efficient at all. Art brain is completely offline. Seriously, do you ever hear me talking about drawing in the morning or making anything useful but a cup of tea in the AM? Fuck no. All you perky morning people, please just stay away from me. Until cup of tea number 2.

I did a bunch of stuff yesterday. Some of it was final shit on the garage. I’m calling it done, even though there’s a file cabinet and some storage stuff that needs to be managed. Boychild and I made another trip to the parental dumpster (no, they really have a dumpster…I don’t just drop shit at their house), plus I sold another thing on Craigslist and then did some stuff, including school shopping and dog food and the library, because ALL the books you’ve had on hold for 17 months WILL SHOW UP THE WEEK BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS. It happens every year. I might have to give up on one of them. I’m desperately trying to read the book for tomorrow night’s book club. I don’t think there’s an Audible version of The Left Hand of Darkness. Oh god. There probably is. I don’t Audible though. I stop paying attention when someone is reading to me.

So dinner was late. Dinner is often late in these circumstances. There also were a lot of animals lying around pretending to be very hot and tired.

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That eyeball…

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I did quilt in the afternoon for a bit. Not much.

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I started legs and stuff…

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Garage before we started. That’s solid crap in the center section, taller than me. It’s been like that for years. The boychild has been complaining about it for years as well. It was just so incredibly overwhelming. I couldn’t even deal. So with his help, we did it.

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Now I should have taken one after this one…because the pile of storage stuff in the middle is piled up elsewhere, and the school stuff on the right and behind is all in my car, to be delivered to school this morning. So the whole center is pretty much empty. For now. There’s another shelf thing being delivered on Thursday from one of my parents’ rentals. There are a few empty shelves in there, but maybe not enough.

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I haven’t fully solved the art storage issue, but it’s all up off the ground and out of my closets. I was a screenprinter before I became a quilt artist. Much harder to store that stuff. And there’s so much of it…

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And that big table is available for screenprinting if I decide to go back to that. I might. I liked it.

No. I’m not putting a car in there. That’s just silly.

More little stitches, mostly French knots, in the feather stitching up top.

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Then back to the machine…cat giving me the Other Eye this time.

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And more quilting…

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It’s very meditative…even all the little windows…

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I got to the top of the rocky crotch. It was close to midnight thirty then, so I quit.

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I was wide awake, but see note above about trying to shift sleep cycle for school. Ha! So I did all the legs…I’m definitely past the midpoint on outlining…

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That was all after dinner. Of course, there’s all the background stuff, which will take some time. So I’m hoping to do another 3 or 4 hours today, but that means I need to get out of here and do the stuff that needs doing…delivery to school, plus thrift shop again and smog the car. Hopefully. I don’t FEEL like doing any of that. I don’t even want to go NEAR school, but I have to get this shit out of my car somehow. And please don’t ask me about the bedroom…I’m definitely stalled on that. The deadline for that is a little ways out (OK, really only about 2 weeks), so it’s easier to ignore it, I guess. I knew with the garage that once school started I might not go in there for a while, and I didn’t want the art down on the ground if rain started.

OK. Get it done. That’s my plan for the day.

*Keane, Somewhere Only We Know

There Is a Light and It Never Goes Out*

May 30, 2017

I am home, but I think I left my brain somewhere en route between Ohio and here. Or perhaps it never got to Ohio in the first place. My brain was a little fuzzy there too. If I hear one more explanation of jetlag and why I still feel like I was hit by a train, I might…well…I might just go back to bed.

I told people at Quilt National that I do art every day. This is usually true. On Thursday, I did not. On Friday, I did not. Well, I did the one stitch on stitch a day. On Saturday, I did two drawings. On Sunday, I did one drawing. Yesterday, I finished the block for the big quilt we’re doing for the Don’t Shut Up show coming in July. So I guess I technically do art every day even when I’m traveling…I think even when I went to Northern California in April, I managed a stitch a day and quite a few drawings.

This was due Saturday, but I had already negotiated to deliver Monday. I got up early Monday (because still on Ohio time…and yes, I slept over 10 hours, my body desperately trying to catch up)…it just needed some outlining.

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Here she is at delivery. She’ll show up again in the quilt…plus I’ll probably make her into her own piece at some time.

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She’s small, 18 x 24″ I think.

Puppy is glad I’m back. He sat next to me, chin on my leg as I graded.

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Lots of chaos this week. An early meeting today, lots of school stuff, need to finish a slide show for Friday, plus grading grading grading. And a culture fair.

I’m a little in the air as to what art thing I’ll be doing next. I was expecting to have to sew the larger quilt together this week, but we’re going to wait until after the meeting next week, because people aren’t done yet. So I should take a deeper look at what I might want to enter in the next 6 months. First I have to figure out the final version of my Visions exhibit (tonight! Decisions will be made! If it kills me!) and get some of them professionally photographed. Then I’m hoping to do some drawing tonight. Even if it’s off topic. Whatever that means. Quilt National was such a great experience…I’m glad I went. I do have photos…just like I have photos of the opening for California Fibers last weekend…need to do a lot of processing and typing I guess. Plus you can see that my brain is still wandering all over the place…I mean, worse than normal.

At least it’s a short week.

*Morrissey (The Smiths), There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

I See the Bright and Hollow Sky*

May 23, 2017

I woke up this morning and a terrorist group had taken responsibility for bombing concertgoers. I still live in this world, where hate makes this acceptable, where this is not the first or last time this will happen. I woke up this morning and DeVos had released Trump’s education budget (because you know she didn’t write that thing…she didn’t have a pencil)…and not only are my students hit hard, because I teach in a Title I school, a school where poverty is everywhere…but my own children, needing to pay back federal loans for college, are now going to get hit harder…and me too, in helping them. I’ve seen a few (ignorant) friends say that if the teacher unions are against DeVos, that must mean she’s a good thing. I can guarantee you that all their children go to those rich white schools where immigrants and refugees are few and far between. They certainly aren’t showing any sort of empathy to humanity.

I think that’s the problem…no empathy. And being so sure your way is right, without any exposure to other. I’m not sure why we think that’s OK. It’s not. It can’t be.

This world. It pains me. I make art in response, sure, but it doesn’t stop the shit we keep seeing, the bad behavior, the crazy talk.

Last night, before I saw all that, I tried out a couple of backgrounds before I ironed her down…

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I always lean toward the dark…

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Then I started the stitch down…

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I finished watching 13 Reasons Why…it was hard to watch.

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In the first few episodes, listening to Hannah speak, I didn’t have much empathy for her…because as a middle-school teacher, all I could think about were the kids who would think a revenge suicide where you blame everyone else for your decisions would be a bad plan, that they wouldn’t have the fully developed frontal lobes for seeing the bigger deeper picture. As the show progressed, though, I could see how her brain processed (and again, I’m not sure my students would) and remembered lots of the shit from high school, which is now just exacerbated by the existence of the internet. Negotiating that is huge. There is no safe space…not at home, not anywhere. And they can’t see the future…they don’t have enough life experience to know you can get up and get past. Because most of us do. And we sit there and want to yell and hit at Bryce for her, want her to get out of the bathtub after the first cut and go find a phone, but none of that happens.

So I kept on making art. Because sometimes that’s all I can do. It’s gotten me through some intensely bad times in my life. And I’m still alive, so it works.

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After stitch down, I layered it with the interfacing we’re using on this quilt…

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This is for a larger quilt that will be in a show in July. So I started outlining…

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I didn’t quite finish, because I needed to sleep…

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But I got mostly done. And I have no idea what I’m working on next.

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I drew during my staff meeting…

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I met this snake on the way home…pretty sure it’s a gopher snake.

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Conversation with the boychild…

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At least he has a sense of humor about it. He’s coming home today. I spent time yesterday cleaning his room, putting his bed back together, and trying to persuade my vacuum not to die. Now I’m going to go to school and talk my way through menstruation and sperm production. Fun stuff.

*Iggy Pop, The Passenger

I Open My Mouth and It’s Something I Read*

May 2, 2017

Oh sweet hallelujah, lo I were awake much later than I should have been on a school night, ere the quilting is complete! I couldn’t stop. Art brain would not allow me to stop. She was on a roll. The machine behaved too…no thread breakage, no needle shenanigans, no weird stoppages. What the hell. (Don’t question it…just do a quiet hallelujah in your head…or all over the internet…whichever works best for you.)

First I graded stuff, and then I worked on this stupid worksheet for school, and then made dinner, and then finished the outlining of the creepy hand.

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I wasted no time after that…it was already 9:30 PM. So I started quilting. I had barely started the background quilting the night before. And I had never outlined the cheesecake, so I did that too.

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I had originally planned to switch threads from the uber-dark to a lighter one where the fabrics changed, but I forgot and started quilting down into the lighter blue. Instead of pulling it out, I just did a little transition there from the dark to light. I think I might be the only one who will notice it.

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This was halfway through, at about 11:30 PM. At this point, I wasn’t sure I was going to finish. Kitten did not care at all…except that I wouldn’t let her lie on it.

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Past 12:30. Done. 9 1/2 hours.

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Tonight I will trim it and put the binding on…and email the photographer? Well, I have to put a binding on the other one as well. So yeah. I still think I can get it done though. And then panic about what needs to be done next…I’m fairly sure something has to be done by 5/29. But it’s not big and doesn’t need to be quilted. But I also have no idea what I’m doing for it. Minor issue, right? I also want to do that drawing that’s been lurking in my head since Sunday morning. It’s niggling at me. Poke poke. Hey. Over here. Draw my ass.

*Kongos, Come with Me

Dream of Better Lives, the Kind Which Never Hate*

May 1, 2017

Quilting is taking longer than I thought it would. Well. It is so far. It might be that when I get to the end, I’ll think otherwise. I finished the outline quilting last night at around midnight…about 7 hours’ worth. Only the background is left, and from what I remember with the other two bathtubs, because the image takes up so much of the quilt space, the background doesn’t take long, so I’m hoping to finish tonight. (Let’s not think about progress report grades…they are close to done…sort of. Program glitch of sorts…waiting on a logical answer…instead of the annoying time-consuming one that I suspect will be the actual answer.)

See that black fabric under Kitten? It was there for maybe 5 minutes before she appeared out of one room and sat on it. Then looked offended when I pulled it out from under her. Cats. Sheesh.

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So this is my teabag squeezer thing (insert official name here). I cleaned it all up to take it camping with us and then couldn’t find it. Since April 7. Found it! In the bag where I put it, which traveled all the way to the redwoods and back and a few other places after.

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Aren’t brains amazing?

So I went shopping for binding fabric yesterday, and got sidetracked by flesh colors. There is a binding in there, I swear.

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Lots of random spots seem to be in fashion right now.

Then quilting when I got back from dinner at the parentals, where they helped me sort all my Monopoly pieces for that stupid grocery store game. Still haven’t won enough to pay next year’s college tuition unfortunately.

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Lots of water and body parts to outline…

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The needle behaved last night. Not sure what’s causing the issue, but explaining it to mom, she looked horrified. Like NO, it’s NOT supposed to do that. Well, I KNOW that…but can I sew anyway for now? Because I have two to finish, hopefully by the weekend.

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There we are. All the outlining done, and even started the background quilting in the bush to the right.

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She already has a name. I think. I might change my mind. You never know.

More hand stitching…see, I anchored those flippy bits too. I don’t know where I’m going next…

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Unfortunately, I have a 2-hour staff meeting this afternoon…suspect that might kill my brain. It’s because state testing starts next week. Ugh. Need to start lining up some copyediting jobs for the summer, locked in around possible jury duty. Need to figure out the next project. Need to get the house straightened up. Ha. Well that’s obviously not very high on the priority list, right? Fabric manipulation comes much higher.

As it should.

*Modern English, I Melt with You