They Tell Me to Breathe Easy for a While*

February 12, 2017

I didn’t post yesterday because I didn’t do anything Friday but teach and veg out really. Not really, but close enough. It happens. I’m a fan of giving oneself a break when one needs it, best one can. Sometimes the best thing you can do is go to bed early with a cup of tea and read a book. Not that I did that, but sometimes I do.

I have too many things I need to do this weekend. Yesterday I started with the quilting…wanting to be done with the background this weekend. And then I couldn’t stop. I was going to grade stuff first, but I just couldn’t make myself do it. So I didn’t. There’s three days. Surely I can force myself to grade at some point (ugh).

So I fixed the bits I hadn’t stitched down…and then started quilting the background.

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Trying to remember to not do it really small and tight…it’s not necessary on this quilt and it would take forever. It wasn’t always easy though…I broke two needles (probably going too fast) and a lot of thread. Sigh. It’s frustrating sometimes. I think I did about 3 1/2 hours or so…and got more than halfway around. So that’s a good sign for today.

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Because my goal for today is to finish…so after dental cleaning tomorrow, I can go to fabric store and buy yardage for binding. Seriously. It’s almost done. That snuck up on me.

I have the parental dog at the moment, on top of the other two. It’s OK…she entertains the little one.

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When she’s not lying on my floor.

I kept getting distracted while quilting. I need breaks every 45 minutes or so (yeah, I know, it’s supposed to be every 20 minutes, but whatever…I get on a roll)…so I was trying to find the stuff for this quilt. I had all the blocks and the stuff for the borders, but I couldn’t find the instructions until I stood motionless in my living room for about 10 minutes with my eyes closed, visualizing what I had done with it (taken it to stitch meeting to confer with other stitching people about how best to do the borders: attach before or after). Now it’s where it should be.

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Not that I have time to do anything about it. At least it’s organized. That helps.

I also tried organizing all the BOMs I have collected. Probably should stop collecting and finish them instead. Easier said than done.

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Anyway, eventually, each time, I would come back to quilting.

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With or without Kitten’s help.

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Well, hello. Get off the quilt.

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Mommy, you called me. Did not.

So then last night and this morning, I was trying to make sense of all the shows coming up, deadlines all over my head, images all over my brain…nasty nightmare last night that’s still in my head, but not relevant to ANY of this, dammit.

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Straight up, honestly, hard to focus. So I pulled up a calendar this morning on my phone and talked my way through it. “If I do this first, the drawing doesn’t exist, so I need that done by say Wednesday, and if I make that a 6-week quilt, which is one that’s a reasonable size and number of pieces, instead of the crazy-ass thing I’m currently doing, then I could finish it by this date, and that only leaves me this many weeks to finish that one, and that’s not gonna work, and then there’s this other show, and I would have nothing for it, and that’s my local group and I’m a juror/curator/someone in charge, so I want to have something for that, so that’s not gonna work. But what if I do this one and draw that one and then I’d have two of those for that, but no, that still doesn’t solve the problem of having a piece for that show.” Dammit. There’s so many political quilts in my head at the moment that I can’t focus at all. But that’s one thing I need to get through in my head right now. What to do next, with no fucking down time, which is fine, because down time is focused on bad shit and I don’t need that. I need to DO, to MAKE, to SOLVE.

You should go read what I wrote for Through Our Hands though. They approached me and asked me to write about censorship if I wanted, or just about my work. I kinda did both. And that’s where this next drawing was going…

I had had an idea back in November or October? for the local show and I didn’t write it down, but just held on to some piece of it in my head, so last night, while watching Raiders of the Lost Ark for the 17th time (still good, but not the female character…she sucks), I tried to draw it.

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So I’m not saying I can’t do this quilt…on a redraw…but this isn’t where I want the piece for this show to go. So I stopped. Right before the big money moment, yes. This is still a thing, it’s just way far fucking out from where I need to be right now. Ugh. So I quit.

And then had that conversation this morning. And then driving home, the entire drawing for the local show popped into my head, PING, repopulating itself as I drove. Seriously, my brain erased bits and then added more and then adjusted and drew more. I wish I could just download that. Well, I can. It’s called drawing. I’m afraid I’m going to lose it. The boychild gave me these artsy notebooks for Xmas. I used to have a small sketchbook for jotting shit like this down, and then got out of the habit. I’m back into it. It sits by the side of my bed or in the living room (I carry it around) and all these ideas get scrawled into it…words and sketches. So I put it in there…and it’s censorship. That’s where I needed to go. Sometimes my brain scares me with its ability to create shit out of almost nothing. Just random ideas and nothing else, and then there’s a picture, all the lines drawing as I watch, often while I’m driving, and it’s just there. Boom.

I know it’s years of practice. But it’s still cool.

The immigration one is in the notebook too…it’s fully drawn in my head too, but I don’t have a place in the schedule for it yet…maybe summer? We’ll see. Because there’s a fine line between making for one’s own self and making to get into shows. I’m always trying to find that balance. There are some this Spring that I’m just having to say no to…I can’t do everything. Shows and drawings.

Anyway. I need to draw today. I think I can do it in about 2-3 hours. Aack! Plus three hours of quilting and then grocery shopping and I thought walking dogs, although maybe that’s tomorrow at this point. Plus grading. Sheesh.

This is the book I’m supposed to be reading for school. Apparently Midnight was offended by it.

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Whoops. Seriously. It was the cat. Not me. I actually don’t mind Hattie…I just mind how my district is implementing it…by completely ignoring what he says about how it should be implemented. So they keep calling it Visible Learning, but they’re not actually doing it. They’re micromanaging. Oh well. Trying to keep my frustration low on that. Read the damn book, yell while I’m reading it. Trying to assume best intentions. It’s not worth more energy.

I didn’t stitch Friday, so I did two yesterday…the lazy daisy green leaves around Prosper, and then the blue flowers on them until I ran out of thread.

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Still trying to fill in. That’s 42 days. Still want to put a hand and a tree in. So gonna figure that out. Maybe not today.

Today…draw…quilt…shop…cook…clean (seriously. the floors.). But first? Man I’ve got a headache. Splitting. Weather? Probably. Gonna take meds and do the grocery list. Then get my focus on. Art brain demands it.

*Sara Bareilles, Love Song


I Know Who I Want to Take Me Home*

February 6, 2017

Well now I know the difference between concrete and cement…and more importantly, I know the history of concrete…because I have to teach about it…what’s funny is that for 4 hours, I was completely engaged with the content…unlike every single staff meeting and school district professional development thing I’ve been to all year. That was Saturday morning.

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Frustrating, eh? I didn’t get paid for THIS 4 hours, but it was way more interesting and useful than all the stuff I’m paid for. Yes, there is a 2-hour meeting this afternoon about 8 pages in a book. I don’t disagree with the book. I disagree with how my district is interpreting the book. Oh well. Bring a sketchbook. Try not to increase blood pressure. Just ignore the stupidity. Insert rant here about micromanaging professionals.

Some of my eucalypti were dropping branches in the last storm, so we made them look funny. Don’t worry…they come back.

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I wish tree trimmers were smarter. Oh well.

Then we spent part of the evening wandering a mall. I never go to malls if I can help it…but look! Sewing machines! And all the clothes in this store were black and grey…

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My kind of place.

Unlike this Hermés scarf…holy crap, that’s some color.

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Celebrating the new year…

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And part of a whale tail…

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I was so tired, I slept through the movie…it’s OK. If I’m that tired, it’s best if I sleep.

This is two days of stitching…the cretan stitch in green on the right with the fly stitch in blue.

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Sleepy puppy while I stitch.

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I was watching a show and wanted to finish watching before trying to quilt, so I cut and ironed some pieces while it finished. This is more of the Folk Tails BOM.

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It’s kind of a crazy BOM…lots of overlaps. Kind of a pain because of that.

And then I finally started quilting, after nothing all weekend. Sigh. I’m 7 or 8 hours into the outlining and not even halfway up the body.

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That said, I think there is less outlining and more background quilting in the top section. We’ll see…if it takes another 7-8 hours just to outline? This week is a clusterfuck of meetings and stuff before and after school, so it will be a challenge to get a lot done…

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But I did get SOME done yesterday…look how big it is!

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Holy crap. No wonder it feels like it’s taking forever. Anyway. My goal is to have all the quilting finished by the end of this coming weekend and get the binding on. Then maybe get it photographed by the following weekend and be started on the next one…which means drawing it. Which means no more trying to avoid drawing it or avoid quilting or just being too mentally tired to deal with any of it. Yeah, like I can proscribe that.

I shouldn’t really give myself so much shit. I wrote 4 pages about my quilting life for an article yesterday, plus packed two food boxes for the kids, entered a show I wasn’t even planning on entering (because I’m nuts like that), and who knows what else I did. Lots. Stuff and things. There’s just too much of it. That’s the word I associate with Sundays…Overwhelming. Always.

*Semisonic, Closing Time


It Doesn’t Matter if You Want It Back*

February 3, 2017

I didn’t post yesterday. I had a good reason. I also didn’t quilt on Wednesday. Good reason. And didn’t go to work for two days. Good reason, but I might have to do some damage control today, looking at what didn’t get turned in. I hate that. Teacher’s not there, can’t do my work. Frustrating. If teacher’s not there, there’s a damn good reason for it.

I did quilt last night for a bit…

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The machine is still quilting just fine. Who knows what that tension clusterfuck was about. I’m about 5 1/2 hours in…hopefully more tonight…the weekend is a little busy though. Probably only have 20 hours to go.

Here’s where I spent a good chunk of time the last two days. Grading stuff.

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So at least I got a bunch of that done…not enough…never enough.

For the year of stitch, I did two days in one…see? I didn’t even do two stitches…or did I? I stitched the whipped running stitch and then dropped some extra French knots in the flowers where the running stitch stopped and then filled in the ‘s’ with something…not split stitch. Aargh. Can’t remember the name.

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Stem stitch. That’s it. It needs a hand. Like an actual stitched hand.

Then I went to my stitching meeting last night and almost finished this block with the stuff in the center of the flower. I needed a marking pencil and some circle templates to do the last bit.

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I can’t find any marking pencils. Should have bought one when I was at JoAnns hell the other day. I know I have a circle template somewhere.

This is the 2nd block in the Folk Tails quilt. Those are warthogs. Aren’t they cute?

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They need eyeballs and tusks and hairy bits. All of which is coming. I was pretty braindead at some point last night, so I started tracing and cutting the Wonder Under for the next month of these. I actually have the first three months all sewn down, but not embroidered. The next few months, four months actually I think, are cut out, but not sewn down, so I figured I’d get the rest cut out. I really like this pattern…it’s funky. But I don’t have a lot of free time for these any more. Perhaps I should add to my daily stitch practice…must stitch something down on this quilt.

Anyway. I had some good ideas for the next quilt. It’s impossible to keep it from skewing politically. I can’t keep that shit out of my head. I’m sitting here trying to teach my students not to make claims without evidence that backs them up, and my government has decided that lying and making shit up is the new status quo. I hate this. Yes, there’s always been lying going on in government, but not like this. This is just plain crazy.

*Amanda Palmer, Want It Back


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


She Splutters Pistol Shots*

January 28, 2017

A late afternoon post…not because it’s been a lazy day, of course, but because I was up and out early, too early to get my act together on the computer. Now it’s mid-afternoon and I’ve spent three hours in an educators’ meeting for those trying to protect our students from any political fallout (wow…I don’t even know what to say about the immigration crackdown), but also to protect teachers who are facing issues with what they’re required to teach and parents or community members who are clueless. Honestly. They are clueless.

I stitched during the meeting. I listen while I stitch…

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I even sign up for committees, take notes, look stuff up, and contribute. Because I can do two things at once. Some people can’t…and that’s OK. I love being told I can’t stitch and think at the same time. That didn’t happen today, but I’m having some work-related frustration that goes with that.

I don’t get much done on these normally, because I’m not sitting in a lot of meetings really. Or I grade during meetings, because that’s a have-to.

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But now I’m on a subcommittee. Or a committee. I’m not sure which. It’s OK. It’s the stuff I’m trained for…how to protect teachers who are being told to change what they teach so it doesn’t scare the public. That’s a block from Sue Spargo’s Folk Tails Block of the Month, by the way. I’m way behind.

I had to laugh though. A few people have commented that they didn’t like the Women’s March because of the inappropriate hats…not the pussy hats, because those are cats, right? (although some were upset that we used the word pussy) But the (as they called them) Vagina Hats (yes this is related to the educators’ meeting). So. I googled that shit. Because I’d seen some hats that were what I think what she was talking about…but I also saw some of this…which I love.

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But I think they meant more like this…

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And here’s the deal. Y’all need to be educated if you think that’s a vagina. It’s a vulva. And why they’re reviled, I will never know. They bring babies into the world. They are a source of pleasure. They are a pain in the (um…) vulva because they also deal with periods and shaving stigma and all that crap, but in general, I think very positively of the vulva and its attributes. But we in America are terrified of this small stretch of feminine territory and all it encompasses, so yeah. So that means some people think it’s inappropriate. But they aren’t even educated about what it’s called. Probably aren’t really clear on what it does either. Whatever. So stay home. We’ll march for your freedoms.

Probably this political stuff doesn’t reduce my stress. But I think I’d go crazy just sitting at home and not doing something about the batshit crazy I’m seeing out there.

I came home to a really nice package though…bits and pieces of hand-marbled fabric from the Morans, who did some commissioned fabric for me years back. I think their fabric is in almost every quilt I make, because I only use small pieces and I still have stuff from way back. Seriously, I was still married when I had them do the commissions. I love this batch of colors, though…they will definitely find their way into my stuff.

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Go click on that link and get some of their awesome fabric.

Yesterday. Ah yesterday. So here’s why I got no art done yesterday. First of all, labs all week have stretched the patience of me and my coworker so thin…but we did manage to hammer out a rough version of something I will probably be drawing next week some time…

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And that’s only part of it…trying to connect all the different pieces as we go into teaching climate change. You know, that thing that apparently doesn’t exist. If you believe that, your ignorance is showing.

Here’s the branches I came home to…well, minus the huge one in the backyard. Nothing hit any structures…and they are all now cut up.

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The picture is deceptive. Two of those were heavy enough that they took me pulling with all my might to get them to that spot in the yard. I didn’t even try with the one in the backyard…it was too damn big to drag.

And then I gamed until late. No energy for sewing after that. I went to bed with my book and a cup of tea and eventually passed out.

I’m posting this for Tanya, who is worried that my house is falling down. Oh, yeah, that board that slipped? We currently have a 2×4 propped up in a cement block that is holding it up until everything dries out enough to do something.

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Of course the board with the K on it is rotten. It’s been rotten since 1998, when we moved in. They were supposed to replace it back then and we missed it. So there’s wood to be replaced and boards to be reattached. If you don’t know anything about teaching, you won’t know that making phone calls and trying to get service people to show up on our schedules is virtually impossible during the school year. I’d have to take the day off just to make phone calls, and that’s not an option. I’ll aim for Spring Break. The house isn’t falling down. I just need a decent carpenter or contractor. And money. Ha! That might be the biggest issue, as I send the monthly college tithing off this afternoon. It’s more than I get paid in a month.

Please don’t notice that I don’t have a stitch a day today. You’re right. I’ll have two done later today and then one tomorrow. I always catch up.

Yeah. It’s never-ending. I wanted to go to an art event this afternoon, but I’m tired and can’t deal with parking downtown today. So I’m going to finish this up and try to stitch down for a while. While wearing a vulva hat. Yeah.

*alt-J, Breezeblocks


Something in Hand

January 6, 2017

So the ends of vacations often fall into this panicked attempt to complete everything on the list, which is always impossible. Yet I try. Check it off, cross it off, get it all under control. It’s not on the list? It might not happen then. I might forget about it completely until 1 AM 2 AM even 3 AM, when I am lying in bed…and I slide my phone out from under the pillow, where it records my lack of sleep, tossing and turning, and add that crucial task to the calendar or the list of things to do.

It’s at a point right now of What Do I Really Have to Do to Get By. What Is Absolutely Necessary. Is It Bad Form to Draw at a Wedding? OK, I already know the answer to that one, it’s OK. I multitask for survival’s sake. I know I have a staff meeting Monday. What else can I do during the meeting? Still paying attention, but not just sitting there. I’m really bad at just sitting there. I need something in hand. Stitching, a book, a sketchbook, scissors, whatever.

Yesterday was a rainy mess here. I went to school and started organizing for Monday. I’m still debating whether I need to go back Saturday to finish, or whether I can get through Monday without doing that. I’d prefer NOT to go in. I need the mental space to evaluate that. I don’t have that at the moment. Then I had professional development. There were a couple of things I noted as useful, but mostly it was like, yeah, I know that, I just haven’t found the time (while designing curriculum from scratch) to fit a higher level of that into my curriculum. There is a low level of it. I manage to get 2nd place in a roomful of teachers on a quiz…well, there’s an achievement…then back to school, in the rain, to drop my computer and head out to see Persephone.

We met in a German hostel or something like that, aged 16 or so, summer abroad program with AFS. She sang, I pounded on a piano. We were both unlike the more normal American girls and bonded. We see each other maybe every 3-7 years and it’s always easy. Yesterday was a trip to Goodwill…

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The color runs always fascinate me…

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I used to live in thrift shop clothing…I don’t ever have time to go there now. I rarely buy clothes for myself at all. It was fun…

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And we did the normal lunch and coffee/tea thing too…then I traipsed all over Mira Mesa to get to my stitching meeting. I didn’t do my day of stitch on Wednesday (already an issue? Yeah. I know.)…so I did that first…the yellow.

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Then added Thursday’s eyeball.

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And worked on the warthog’s bush. All couching. Crazy.

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I did cut a few pieces out last night, but didn’t photograph them. Left and picked up girls from the airport at midnight, in bed by 2 AM, then up early (well, for me) and out to take Persephone to the train station…a beautiful California day.

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And realized as the train was pulling away and we were waving at each other that we never took a picture together. Whoops. Oh well. I don’t think we did last time either. I never remember that kind of documentation.

Art interrupted by life. And a big ball of have-to hanging over my head. I’m feeling overwhelmed by all of it. I can feel it in my shoulders. My neck. My head. The reality is that I will get done what I can, and I may have to say no to some things. Today is still busy…girlchild leaves again tonight…but maybe later I will get fabric time. Or drawing time. We’ll see. Certainly I’m taking fabric with me to the girlchild’s hair appointment (mine is in the middle of hers and then we go directly to the airport). Oh yeah, see? Documentation…

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And taking deep breaths. Meditating. Trying to get what I can under control.


Find Out What We’re Made of*

October 7, 2016

OK. Better. A little. I made art. It’s amazing what that daily dose does for me. Well and a counseling session. Mindset needs to flip about some stuff. Trying to do that without feeling more stress about it. That might be the hardest part.

So first of all, I delivered this commission, Owl 3.0, last night…

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To its rightful owner, Julie…who has been around me and my art for a long time and is one of my two Number 1 Fans.

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We stitch every month together at a Barnes & Noble…this was my name on the cup last night…

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Creative spelling. Or just hieroglyphics.

I worked on one of the Sue Spargo blocks. These are very relaxing to do…and more appropriate in the space than trying to cut Wonder Under out.

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Although with 105 bullion knots just in the flower, I think each block might take 8 months to do…

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I really do like to hand embroider. I just don’t do much of it any more on my own pieces…no time. Maybe that’s something that should be in the solo show. Somehow. Because I still have no time.

I’m followed everywhere by this pod of mismatched dogs…

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They mill about and occasionally settle…I don’t know if you can see the Golden on the floor under my feet.

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She put her bone on the coffee table for safekeeping. Seriously. From the puppy. Who is on my lap.

I finally settled them all enough that I could start cutting out the Wonder Under for the piece that was supposed to be done last week. And I was getting emails about it yesterday…for photos of the piece in progress. Well. Um. Here they are.

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Lots of doggy interaction going on…

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But I cut them all out in less than an hour…

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I even sorted them into two bins (there’s only 200 pieces). So if I have any energy or brainpower tonight, I can pick the fabrics. Certainly I should have them done over the weekend. Cutting pieces and ironing down next week…which means figuring out the construction issue…by next weekend. I’m quilting this, but not trimming and binding it. Not for this show. I might decide differently later on…but for this show, it shouldn’t be.

So that will make it easier to get it done. A little. I also need to make a slide show of my work for a presentation tomorrow night. Which is a little nerve-wracking. But I guess I know about 5 people in the group…so it won’t be totally like standing up in front of 40 people you’ve met. Just about 35 people I’ve never met. It’ll be fine.

OK. Progress. My brain is in a much better place this morning. Those alpha waves save my ass…

*Bruno Mars, Count on Me