All That

December 31, 2017

Ah, December 31, the last day of the year, the day you evaluate everything that happened in the last 365 days (hint: you only remember the super ups and downs mostly) and try to make resolutions for the next 365 days. Is it a leap year? Nope. Then I don’t have to come up with a plan for one more day. Oh good.

As a teacher, I usually make my resolutions in June (I am NEVER doing that again, stuff like that) or August (That would be a GREAT idea, but if it’s not, then it just quietly slides back into the mud or I angst about it for a while before it slides). I resolve to keep trying to make art every day, to keep trying to balance my job and my personal life, to keep the house less chaotic. I will fail horrifically at the last two and soldier on with the first. So there we are. I’d like to try to meditate every day again, but I made that resolution back in August and have sucked mightily at it every day since then. I would also like to exercise more…more dog walks, more hikes, and more gym visits. Maybe that’s the only thing I need to keep in my head…it is probably the most important at the moment.

I’m going to make a list of stuff that needs doing around the house…then maybe some of them will happen. My house is seriously in need of repair, after 15 years post-divorce with no spare cash to fix stuff, let alone remodel. I made it through the living room area, but there are other spaces that need help, and maybe this is the year we start that. I guess last year’s great accomplishment was cleaning out the garage…that was 20 years of accumulation. Thanks to the boychild for that assist. Maybe I should aim for this summer being the great studio/office redo…pull the wallpaper and the peeling flooring, which means pulling My Fabric Stash outta here, and then redoing all of it. New window would be nice. Certainly a cleaner space. Not sure it’s doable, but it’s certainly something I can put on the list, maybe price out what flooring would cost for one of the smallest rooms in the house. Next on the list? A bathroom. Or three. A kitchen. See, those are all big expenditures. Not happening with college still on the to-pay list.

But the brain, it thinks about things to change. Actually making change is hardest. As always.

Some things never change. Dog hugs.

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Yesterday, we went to a basic falconry class that was a Christmas present…it was very cool, not just to see the birds up close, but to learn about how they’re trained…and that they can fly away at any time when hunting.

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Beautiful birds…the one above is a falcon; below is a Harris hawk.

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It was a beautiful day, nice location. I’ll hopefully have photos of my experience sometime soon.

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Afterward, there was food and drink…this ice pattern was the closest we got to winter here in sunny Southern California. Where climate change continues to affect us, right?

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I came home and had some time before the next event…realized I was 4 days behind on this and did some filling in at the top to make it less bumpy.

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Tonight will be the last stitch on it.

Then out to see the band, at a campground on the bay. Strange venue, with the band inside this building with the ice cream store, but all the chairs outside. So I sat out there and listened and drew…not surprising to see this after watching them up close.

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I’ve always drawn birds, but rarely look at photos of them. They’re all fantasy birds. These guys had such long feathered legs and a square stance. I put him in this drawing…

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And then drew this after a long, drawn-out and semi-torturous text thread with the kids about dinner tonight, which the parental units rejected in the end. Whatever…

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I’m kind of annoyed with the whole world at the moment. Probably need to get out and about and get some shit done for that to change.

I came home to a cat who wanted to be up close and personal. Not a lap cat. A chest cat. My chin resting on you cat.

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Too close. Can’t stitch. Pushed him off and worked on the blocks from the Social Justice Sewing Academy. Sewing through glue sucks. But I got more done. So that’s a plus.

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I’m not ready to look 2018 in the eye yet. I’m having a hard time getting too excited about it. Maybe that’s why people make resolutions? I don’t know. Like close out the year and write it off, have gratitude for the good things, resolve to change the bad things. Then it’s a tool for change. OK. Well. I’m still gonna have an idiot as President. I’m still gonna be making art about it. I’m working on some other stuff, positive stuff. I made some changes in 2017…I’ll make some changes in 2018. You’ll see them here. Have a good New Year’s Eve tonight…stay safe and warm as needed. Think I’m gonna read my book and go for a walk and stitch some. Cross some shit off a list. Pet some animals. Maybe play a game. Drink some tea. Eat a decent meal or two. Maybe draw. That. All that.

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Wondering if I’m Blind*

December 19, 2017

OK. I’m working on daily to-do lists at the moment. Yesterday’s started with 6 things on it; I ended up crossing off 8 (yes, that’s more than 6, why do you ask?) and transferring 3 to today’s list. Today’s list is starting with 7 things. Hopefully those won’t grow.

Stitchdown took a total of 7 1/2 hours, but I finished…with a lot of furry Not-helpers…

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Jockeying for the ultimate cat sleeping spot. He stirred occasionally when I would move the quilt around, but mostly didn’t care that his bed was disturbed AND vibrating.

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All stitched down. I think. Because I missed the spaceship AND the moon at one point.

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Then I had to go buy batting, wash it, and dry it…before I could pinbaste. So I did some other stuff while I was waiting…like two nights’ worth on this…bottom right, filling in space.

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Then because I was waiting for the boychild to finish making dinner (that was awesome cool, by the way)…I pulled this out. This is Sue Spargo’s 2014 Block of the Month, and yes, it takes me forever to do these, but it’s good to have something to stitch on at meetings and soccer games and all that. Seriously, I think this whole quilt came together on the soccer fields…

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I just need to stitch on 96 balls and then embellish them and I’m done. With the top.

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When I put it that way, it sounds like a bit much. Yes, it’s taken me a year to get to this point. You’re right. I’m OK with that. I have the one from the year before that is pinbasted and sitting in the pile with two others to be quilted. I should do that sometime. I think it’s less about finishing these and more about having something in my hands to work on…which is fine.

And then I pieced the back…yes, with the most non-matchy fabrics I could find. I needed 4 yards. I wasn’t buying 4 yards. I had two yards of the leaves, another yard and a half of the green and red stripe, plus some purple to fill in. It’s OK.

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It’s the back. I don’t care. If you do, then insert some rant about how women don’t really fit in, we have to be a little bit of everything, even when it doesn’t make sense.

This morning? Blood tests I didn’t even know I needed (doctor’s office still hasn’t answered me about that), take down of a show I was actually in, and then back here to pinbaste. Why didn’t I do it last night? It was on my Monday to-do list. Because once I got the backing pieced and ironed, it was 11:15. So I didn’t want to stay up another hour and a half when I knew I had to get up relatively early today to get stabbed. I think I’m OK on time…I’m figuring 20 hours for the quilting and another 6 or 7 for the binding. I need to remember to buy binding fabric on Friday. Because Saturday will be crazy. Well. Friday might be too…certainly JoAnns was hellish yesterday. Whatever. I got 50% off my batting. My depression-era grandma would be proud.

OK, making the tea I can’t drink until after the prod and poke. Then off to do stuff so I can come back and do more stuff.

Oh yeah, and I graded one of the six assignments. Five to go.

*Sister Hazel, All for You


Do the Boogie All Night Long*

December 18, 2017

So many rants this year. Thanks Mr. President. Guess there’s no shortage of material in my head for the artmaking. Although this one is getting closer to done. It’s hard to be focused right now, but it will get done. I would have liked to finish the stitch down last night, but my eyes wouldn’t stop watering (allergies?), so I gave up around 11 PM. I know! So early for me. But I’m trying to make up for a lot of not-sleep over the last months.

I have about 5 1/2 hours into the stitch down…at least 2 more, I think…except I’m in the smaller part, so maybe not. I finished the head, but not the little heads or all the stuff floating around them. I might just try to kamikaze that out this morning. My to-do list is daily now. I did about 2 1/2 hours last night. I did a lot of other things too. Not a slacker.

Kitten is still brave enough to hang out with me in here. Today there’s sun, so she’s happily lying in it. Yesterday, the chair was good.

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I barreled through the torso…

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All the arteries and heart bits…

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Into the upper head area…

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I don’t have much to say today (said a lot yesterday). Just a lot to do. A lot to contemplate. And the next drawing is populating itself in my head…should probably send an email off to the hopefully future owner of that one. I’m gonna need some info.

Boychild has part of dinner in the crockpot (put him in charge of one night this week). I’m already marinating tomorrow night’s dinner. Dogs and cats are fed. It’s a beautiful sunny day in Southern California. And I’m not at school. Oh hallelujah. (No, I haven’t graded a single damn thing…shush.)

More later…

*Milky Chance, Stolen Dance


Time Won’t Heal This Damage Anymore*

December 17, 2017

My brain woke me up early this morning…once at 3:31 AM and again at a reasonable hour. It’s in overdrive. What woke me up? Whether or not I need to buy batting. And then remembering a comment someone made on my blog about a podcast done by ex-gang members (Without Your Permission…most interesting thing I’ve heard so far, “kids with hope don’t join gangs.”). I started listening to that. It makes me sad. Text from my daughter this morning asking about the kid in the hospital…who hopefully will survive. Into what, though? And then bogged down by this thought of white women voting for Trump and Moore and a whole host of other things that hurt them, and they don’t seem to care or know or I just don’t know what it is? Fear of change? Being given the power they deserve? Or they just don’t believe accusations of pedophilia or the plain old crazy that comes out of Trump’s mouth. They keep invoking Hillary, but Hillary is not our president. She’s not in Congress or the Senate. She’s not passing tax laws. She’s not outlawing actual vocabulary, she’s not denying climate change or science or getting rid of National Parks. She’s not doing everything in her power to destroy our world, our freedoms, all for the sake of corporate money. Trump and his henchmen are.

So why invoke her? I guess it’s easier than arguing FOR what this current administration stands for.

So then I think, deeply, about my white woman friends…because yeah, I’m a white woman and I have some white woman friends. I’m not brunching or tea-timing with them though. I do stitch with them, but none of them voted for this crazy. They all marched with me last year in the Women’s March AND the science march, and we’re marching again this year…at least that’s the plan. I make art, I yell a lot, then I think, which white women I know would be OK with all this? Well. I know a couple. I know at least one didn’t vote for Trump, but she does agree with some of the stuff that’s happening. I don’t know why. I don’t know that I can change that. I think they’re pretty clear on my stance. I honestly don’t know how to approach the conversation in a way that might promote change in their minds. I really don’t. Their defenses are up. Mine probably are too.

So that’s something to consider. Find more hope for my students so they don’t join gangs and have conversations with my more conservative white woman friends so they change their votes, their ideas, I don’t know what. Teach them critical thinking (ironically, one of them thinks I don’t think critically…). Fucking sigh. That’s a list and a half weighing me down.

It’s true. I don’t vacation well. My brain gets weighed down by this stuff. The NRA hosted at the White House on the anniversary of Sandy Hook. WTF.

And this…you’re going to OUTLAW WORD USE. Well. If that isn’t fascism and a dictatorship, I don’t know what is. Because honestly, there’s a scientific definition for fetus (it’s one of the things I teach during sex ed), so let’s just get rid of it. Because the baby inside is the same as the baby outside. If you believe that, fine. Let’s take that baby out and see how it does without mom’s support. Right now. At 12 weeks. Let’s go. Oh wait…you don’t want that? Because YOU KNOW BETTER.

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The thing I love about America and the people who live here is their diversity. For our vulnerable members, these are not entitlements; they are rights: the right to live and go to school and have food and shelter and be safe, no matter what color, gender, belief system, background, or country of origin, whether they are the mother of a fetus (an actual scientific term) or transgender, or any other label we use to divide people instead of bring them together in their humanity. Our decisions should be science– and evidence-based, not based on archaic ideas of what society should look like, not based on guesses or the Bible or any other book of faith that doesn’t question, test, analyze, observe, and change with the times…because science does all of those things. And although science can solve many problems (if you’re really against it, put your damn phone down and stop the Tweeting), at the core of this is the heart…in our hearts, we should know that telling the CDC to stop using valid vocabulary in its communications with the people they serve is a step in absolutely the wrong direction, a step toward all those dystopian novels we read where the government is out of control, forcing people to exist in a limited space that disallows our natural human creativity and care for others. We don’t make amazing discoveries in that world. Nothing is cured, no one is saved. I don’t want to live in that world.

I saw an opening in my schedule to request blocks from the Social Justice Sewing Academy. Kids made these blocks and they need stitching. So once I finish my stitch-a-night thing, I’m going to do these for a month. Or however long it takes. I’m a little concerned about that E on the right, but whatever.

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I really like this one.

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And it’s not like I have a shortage of thread. So each night, I’ll pick a strand or two and stitch these down.

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Little steps. I can’t overthrow anything at the moment.

We hiked with the dogs yesterday…dragged them through plant matter.

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The pool of water up top is gone…

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They needed it. I needed it. More of this.

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Then back to here and moving some shit around and finally sitting down for an hour and a bit and stitching stuff down.

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I’m going fast. I need to be done. Like maybe today. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

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I was days and days behind on this. I last worked on it on Monday. We went out and listened to a band for a while, but then came back and watched some Walking Dead, so I did 5 nights’ worth, all in the bottom…to fill in those empty spaces.

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Fifteen more nights on this.

I did a little of the stitch-down on this too…the houses are done, the warthog is half done, the tree needs to be done…same with the sun. Not sure if there’s other bits I’m missing. Need to look through the bag and see what’s left. Then it will be ready for embellishment.

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I think the hippo has stuff on it. I should figure that out. I also want to pin down all the circles (buds) on the Bird Crazy quilt, so I can start stitching those down. I need some long binge-watching episodes, but not until I finish this quilt.

This morning, though, I’m trying to clean up the house enough to finish what little holiday decoration I’m gonna do. Then grocery store and stitch for a while. While thinking about gangs and white women. And batting, because that’s what woke me up first.

*Linkin Park, Faint


To Sew This Hole Up That You Ripped in My Head*

August 7, 2017

Decision overload. I have a broken drawer of fabric. It’s been broken for three months. I can’t replace it exactly…those drawers are a good 20 years old. So either I replace one stack of them, which means everything on top will no longer fit, because the two stacks will be different heights, or I replace two stacks, which means less room than I have now, because the new ones are slightly smaller (but on sale right now). Or I have this new vision, might be a crazy one, of a shelf unit in that space that goes to the ceiling and holds smaller containers. Or even just shelves…the ones that slot in, a la Home Depot…because I could put more in and have more storage than I have now. But that sounds like a major time and work commitment, and now is not the time for that. Seriously. Four days before I go back to school? But I don’t have to DO it now. I just have to commit to a plan.

You know, sometimes people ask why I write this blog, and it really isn’t for you (sorry). It’s a brain dump, a motivational device for getting stuff done, a way to make decisions. It’s like once the words are out of my head I don’t have to worry so much about what was said. I think the shelf system is the way to go. It’s harder and more time-consuming, but it’s also the best solution to the problem. I think. Aargh. For now.

So it won’t get done any time in the next month probably, because I’m upending everything here still. But there’s a semi-plan in place. I just did that in my head. Well…in the part of my head that I just spilled out into the interwebz.

I kept stitching down on Saturday…

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Sometimes I get antsy and I have to get up and walk around, sometimes dance a little in the hallway, yell out a bit, make another cup of tea or heat up the one I haven’t been drinking. I think my teacup is just an excuse to get up and move around…which is a good thing.

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I totally tense up while I’m doing this…

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Anyway, I had a plan to go see some art afterwards, so I HAD to finish (I really do much better with deadlines)…

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And I did. About 4 1/2 hours to stitch her down. Why less than I thought? Because lots of pieces means lots of time in the early stages, but not so much time now, because this is about distance more than quantity, and the distance is small.

I love seeing them from the back…

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I actually look at the back to see if I missed any pieces. I found one and fixed it. There might be more. Hard to say.

Kitten slept the entire fucking time.

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Then Sunday, the boychild and I went at the garage again. He was cutting things up for the dumpster/trash…and I was going through the last of the school stuff and moving all the art up and off the ground.

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I forgot to take a picture of that…really I should do a before/after thing, but we’re still piling stuff that needs to get out of here.

Nighttime found me on the entryway floor, laying her out, ready for pinbasting.

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I had a piece of fabric for the backing that was almost exactly the right size. I also had some batting that was the right size, but then I realized it hadn’t been washed. I use Warm and Natural, and it will shrink when washed. I have had to wash these before, so I always prewash batting. I got the leftover pieces from the community quilts, and that’s what wasn’t washed. So I pulled it all out of my stash and will put it in the bathtub today so it can go back in the stash and be ready to go.

I managed to find an older piece of washed batting that was the right size. And I pinbasted her…

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I did all of the ironing and pinning while I was listening to the annual trainings that teachers have to do: Blood-borne Pathogens, Pesticide Idiocy, and the Mandated Reporter stuff. I love how they blamed teachers for abuse at school. OK. It’s OK. I passed. There’s one more we have to do, but they haven’t MADE IT YET. Because I can blow off stuff until the last minute. OK. I actually can blow off SOME stuff until the last minute, but not without repercussions. Like not sleeping due to my brain worrying about shit over and over again. But don’t make me deal with video trainings once the new year starts. I hate that.

I was behind on this. I did three strands of feather stitching on the top, and then for the fourth night, I did lazy daisies in one of the feather strands. I just wanted some different lines up there.

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That’s 217 days of stitching. Yeah, I looked it up. So there are 148 days left (yes, I used a calculator).

Yes, I’m quilting today. Hopefully for a good chunk of time, although the shit is beginning to pile up…I want her quilted and the binding at least started or on before Friday. Seriously. I was really good yesterday and got almost all of the school stuff sent to the print shop, but I still have one more thing, plus stuff I need to do in the classroom, and the bedroom…holy god, the bedroom is still a freakish disaster. There’s So Much I got done and So Much I didn’t get done this summer. Nothing new there. The garage is a relief (I swear I’ll do a before/after photo thing). The bedroom will be a relief when it’s done.

But I need to start thinking about the next quilt. The drawing is barely started. I have all the ideas and concepts in my head, percolating, but an image hasn’t fully popped through. Hopefully it will some time this week.

OK. Need to get work. Enough thinking here. Need to do.

*Banks, Beggin for Thread


To Be a Rock and Not to Roll*

March 17, 2017

Did I mention the mockingbird is back? Oh yeah. I read somewhere that lots of people get used to its song and it helps them fall asleep. Really? OK. So my brain doesn’t work like that. I keep hearing all the different songs it sings and it wakes me up over and over again. So it is sleep-with-your-pillow-on-your-head season. I was hoping he’d stay further away…I could hear him (or probably his cousin) a few houses away, but it wasn’t loud enough to keep me awake. Now he’s back either on my property or nearby. I’m rolling my eyes at him. How long do mockingbirds live?

So yesterday was exhausting, more than usual. I don’t know that we stood or walked more than we usually do, but I do know that being out in the hot sun for most of the day didn’t help. The plus is that most of the kids were interested in what was going on…

I didn’t have a lot of patience for the whiners…the ones who couldn’t handle the heat. I did warn them, and some brought water. But sitting out there in a sweatshirt didn’t make a lot of sense. Next year, we’ll try to borrow popups for this part. In general, it went well though. Just modify for next year. As always.

I came home and took a shower. Actually no. First I went to Home Depot for slats so I can actually ship the other two quilts. Then I sat down on the couch and tried to read for a bit…

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aka had my leg licked (clean or not, he likes to clean his humans)…and then fell asleep into a proper old lady nap. That lasted an hour. Ugh. Woke up to the black cat asleep on me and the world getting dark (the sun went down) and no dinner plans that I could stomach. I eventually figured that out. The post-nap grogginess was not helpful. I even made enough for lunch today. I find as I get older that breakfast for dinner (and apparently also lunch) is more and more a thing.

This. Yes. I swear. Please just believe us the first time around.

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Interesting. Because I suspect a lot of women don’t even whine about it. They just assume it’s something they’re doing wrong. But whatever. Nice-guy misogyny.

Then somehow, with incredible will power, I managed to get up and go stitch down…

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Then I remembered the 17 things on my to-do list. Ugh. Paying bills, ordering shit I need, entering a show, editing a newsletter, emailing people. I did all that last night around 11 PM.

And then I thought I wouldn’t finish the stitch down, because I was still exhausted and it was late…

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And the machine is still having a tension problem…so now on my calendar for today is to call the shop…it’s going in as soon as I finish this one.

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I bullied through and finished though…after midnight.

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I have a show to go to tonight…so I probably won’t be sandwiching it tonight. Tomorrow…I’m waiting to see if I have two meetings or only one…I’m hoping one so I can sandwich. And grade. Because I sucked at that this week. Today is a catchup day for the kids, so hopefully I’ll be able to catch up mentally. And on grading. Although I just had a mental moment…I don’t think we have the stuff copied for next week. Huh. Dammit. Always behind, I swear. Except somehow it all gets done. I don’t even know how some days.

But sandwiching and starting the quilting this weekend. The next one is going to be tight. Let me tell you…really tight. But I think it can be done. I need to look at the drawing again. And finish this one quickly. No more tired nights (ha!). So shut up mockingbird…I need my sleep so I can make art.

*Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven


Watch It All Fall Down*

January 30, 2017

Some days, I get to the end of them, and it feels really good, really satisfying, mostly because I blasted through a bunch of stuff on the to-do list. I think my whole life is the to-do list sometimes. I’m driven. Sometimes to tears or insanity, but definitely driven.

It was a productive weekend (not for school, but that place eats up too much of my time anyway). I spent most of Saturday afternoon, evening, and night finishing the stitch down on the newest quilt. I spent a lot of time fighting tension issues with the machine, but for the last 2 1/2 hours, it stopped. Proof that it’s crazy. So at some point, even though I was tired (over 5 hours of stitching), I just kept going because (a) I wanted it to be done and (b) I was afraid if I left it for Sunday, it would start fucking up again and I just couldn’t deal with that.

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Sometime around dinner time, I took a break from stitching down though…and did two days of a year of stitches…the yellow french knot flowers above Long and the purple flowers around the P.

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That’s a month of work, basically. This piece of fabric might not be big enough. Huh.

I was waiting for the pizza guy. No, I didn’t plan for Saturday dinner. Don’t ask. I thought I might have other plans. So I kept working on this one until he showed up. It’s almost done.

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It’s the first block of Sue Spargo’s Folk Tails, started a long time ago. Sigh. I like the hand-stitching part of these…not so much the finishing though. I have one that is ready to be quilted and one that is ready to be pieced and borders put on…and this one is from two years ago? I think. I love her stuff, but without soccer games to waste time at, I don’t do as much of it as I used to. I’m more inclined to grade papers if I have time in a waiting place.

Then I got back to stitching. This is when it started being much smoother…about an hour in.

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I finished around 11:30 PM.

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What a relief. The machine was being a pain.

This is Sunday’s year of stitches…the green little plants in the middle. They’ll get flowery bits too.

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This is how it ends up on the couch when it’s cold. Kathy sandwich.

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I only just persuaded the cat to get off my lap so I could sew.

Then came the hard work of the day. I pieced, ironed, and taped the backing to the floor. I had realized around 4 that I had no piece of batting big enough, so I kamikazed to JoAnns and bought that and thread for quilting. I thought ahead! Then after dinner with the parentals, I finished drying the batting, which I had washed quickly…and then ironed the front. It was too big. I knew I’d be trimming like 6 inches off each dimension, so I did it beforehand, so I wouldn’t waste time and fabric quilting all that extra crap that I was gonna cut off eventually anyway.

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And then I pinbasted it. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would.

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I started around 10:15 and was done around 11. It’s currently measuring 56″ x 92″. I think that’s the longest quilt I’ve ever made. I warned my photographer. His eyes went a little wide.

Anyway, it’s such a relief to now be ready for the quilting stage. And as for the tension, it was freakishly perfect during the straight stitching…so I’m wondering if this machine just doesn’t like the new invisible thread. Except it started doing this on the last quilt a little, which was the old invisible thread (different brand). I honestly think it just needs some adjustment. My machine guy said I had to bring it in once a year to stay in his warranty, and I will do that, but I suspect with the amount of quilting I’ve been doing, that it needs more adjustment than that. We’ll see how the quilting goes, starting tonight. I’m expecting the quilting to take more than 20 hours, so no way am I finishing this week. And with a 4-hour class on Saturday, the weekend is kind of a mess too. Oh well. It will be enough to get started and try to get 2-3 hours done a night. And hopefully start drawing the next one.

I’m revising goals left and right. All the solo show stuff needs to be done and photographed by April 28. Oh shit. OK. I got this. There’s an immigrant quilt in my head too, as of the crazy of the last two days. I have to say it’s at times like this when I really love my country, coming out in support of those being detained in airports, of governors and senators showing up in airports and demanding release, of judges doing the right thing, of people yelling loud, of McCain and Graham, Lindsey Graham for gosh sakes, standing up for our people. I never thought I’d have a positive thing to say about that man, but there it is. So yeah, this quilt is huge in my head, YUGE, but I don’t have time to draw that right now! So I’m writing notes about what’s in there, sketching out some stuff. For later this year.

When the boychild was a baby, he loved the Natalie Merchant album with the song below on it (Tigerlily)…he had colic and would scream and cry for 2 or 3 hours every night. I would stand and rock him to this album. I wonder if he remembers the songs.

*Natalie Merchant, San Andreas Fault