Tell Me Why It’s So*

August 26, 2016

Hey. First Friday of the school year. I’ve almost survived the first week. It’s gonna be a challenging year. Which is why I’ve come home every single day and launched myself into artmaking as soon as I could. I’ve walked dogs and gone to the gym and done some ball throwing and general lying on the floor so dogs could check in, but mostly, I’ve come home and made art. Luckily there’s been food in the fridge, so I haven’t had to do a lot of cooking.

And some time Wednesday night, my brain released most of the crap about AQS and their statement (I had already released the censorship part…it’s just irritating stupid crap that I will keep running into as long as I make the art that’s in my head). I’m in serious Fuck You mode on all of it now. I briefly considered making a quilt of a certain AQS high muckymuck with a penis coming out of her head, and then I grew up and continued on.

OK. I still have that image in my head, but I don’t have to make that quilt. Honestly, I don’t have time. And I don’t care enough about it to do that. I have a million other deadlines I’m dealing with right now, and I want those quilts NOT to be reactions to this, although the censorship angle…it works for a show I’m hoping to be in next Spring. So maybe that’s where I go. I was going that direction anyway. Honestly, so much of my work is feminist and/or based on women’s lives and experiences, that all this focus on a penis that was never there is kind of a slap in the feminist face. Or a highly amusing, ironic event that got my work some eyeballs they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. So there we are. Come for the imaginary penis! Stay for the real art!

This is how I keep my head straight. Well, as straight as it ever is.

Yeah, I saw SAQA’s statement. I saw it ahead of time. I honestly think they are trying to make all this work. I really really don’t want them to pull the whole exhibit because of this. And I am still concerned, because I think my work will still be an issue…and I know that because it’s pretty recognizable, there are probably jurors who will see it and think, um, do I want a Nida quilt in this show? And they’ll decide no. But they probably would have said no anyway. So thanks to the jurors who say yes. And I’m OK with the jurors who say no because it doesn’t fit. Because that happens. But yeah, the gut is still concerned. The brain has a tiny bit that worries all the time. Well. A not-so-tiny bit. I’ve told it to shut up and have a margarita and get back to me when it wants to worry about real shit, like paying for college.

I do exhibit in art shows too…but that’s a challenge as well. So. I guess I’m up for some more challenges. Bring it.

If it seems like I’m ironing all the time at the moment, it’s because I am. I have not organized this for two days. Wait. That’s not true. I organized it right before I started ironing because I couldn’t find anything.

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And it’s messy again. That’s my real issue with cleaning.

Kitten sat in the box and squished all the pieces down. I kicked her out, turned around, and she was back in it. Sigh. So it looks like less than yesterday, but I did all that detail stuff…hearts and veins and tattoos and lungs and hair and I don’t even know what else. A knife.

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I still have a rocket to do (they keep showing up in the last few quilts)…and the top part of the main figure’s face, because it’s not flesh colored. And then the clouds and everything (fucking tiny pieces) in them. So I realized this morning I really only have about 150 pieces left. I can do that. Not right now. Even though I’m already exhausted. And it’s morning and I have to get through a Friday with 140 7th graders on their first real lab day. Yeah. I’ll be FRESH when I get home. And after I go hang out with gamer buddies and maybe play games. Uh huh. No really. I usually do work on Friday nights too.

It’s a big quilt. Not as big as the last one. Taller than I am. Not that that means much.

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My students make cover pages for each science unit, and I always do one too. The girlchild says this is weirder than usual. The snake happened because I had this empty space and the kids said, “you’ve been talking about snakes getting loose all week…where’s your snake?” So I drew one. But he was up in the air, so he needed wings. And then he was too fat in the middle, so he must have just eaten. Probably shouldn’t fly so soon after eating.

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I kept calling the mad scientist female, and they were convinced it was a man. Oh my. Well we will have to change some of that shit this year. Yes children. Girls SCIENCE. That’s why she has pink pants. Because I would never wear pink pants, but in their minds, a male never would either, so they HAVE TO SEE HER as a woman. And I didn’t even give her boobs and a uterus. Ha! Yes. I think that hard about what I teach and how I teach it.

So today, we will science. And hopefully I will have more patience than yesterday.

The dogs aren’t helping. This is a brief moment of quiet truce. Otherwise it’s been chaos.

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I love making art. I love drawing. I love picking fabrics. I love ironing it all together and seeing the image appear. I love adding the stitching line and waiting for the official photographs. I love coming home almost every night and coming in here to iron or sew, or sitting on the couch with a pile of pieces that need to be cut out or with a binding that needs sewing. That’s the shit I need to remember. I love all that more than I love mailing it off for a show. Really. I do.

Thanks again for all the comments. I’m buried and overwhelmed with trying to answer all of them, but know that I’ve seen them. And they mean something to me.

*Tom Waits, Tell Me

Out of the Doubt That Fills My Mind*

August 19, 2016

Rough night. Dropped boychild at the airport after the first day of teaching. Too much standing and talking after a summer of…well I did stand a lot when ironing, but it didn’t feel as bad as yesterday. And the talking. And the interactions with people. I know, it’s funny that I’m a teacher and an introvert, but once you get to know the kids, it’s more like dealing with friends or family than just being bombarded with a million new folks. I can see some of the kids feel the same way after a nice quiet summer of doing whatever they wanted. Plus not getting to pee when you need to…that’s always an adjustment.

So I’m sad to send my own kids back to college, but it is what it is. This is what they’re supposed to do. I do miss them pretty horribly today though.

I’m rushed this morning, so this will have to be fast. I’m still amazed by all the commentary roiling around the internet about the quilt with no penis. I have never heard from AQS…I suspect I never will.

Meanwhile, back here in my studio, I keep making stuff. A friend liked an owl buried in the middle of the most recent Earth Mother (I’ll post her pics tomorrow) and wanted it pulled out on its own for a commission. I’ve spent all summer kinda flaking on it, mostly because I wanted to make it a certain way for the Earth Mother and I wasn’t sure it was gonna work for a piece on its own. So I waited until I knew she’d seen it in those fabrics etc. and she was OK with it (she was).

Yesterday, I finished cutting out all the pieces (and promptly lost one…like a boss)…

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And then started ironing it together…

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Here’s all the wing pieces lined up in order for easy ironing…

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Two wings…

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See the internal debate was that striped fabric for the wings…and I decided it worked.

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Now she just needs to pick a background color. I photographed it on a bunch of backgrounds last night, but I don’t have time to resize them all this morning, so I’ll hopefully do that for her tonight and let her choose.

And then I can start picking fabrics for the new quilt tonight, after I walk the dogs, figure dinner out, scan all the coloring book drawings that are coming in for something you’ll see in a bit,…oh…and I forgot. Probably collapse on the couch at some point. Timed naps are useful.

By the way, this owl has no penis. In case you’re looking for that.

*Howie Day, Collide

Back Off…I’ll Take You On*

August 18, 2016

Sits down. Throws toy for dog. Takes a sip of hot tea, even though it’s been over 100 degrees here for days. Back to the school routine. Alarm at 6:30 AM. Brain already awake, worried that I’ve forgotten something. Trying to remember to eat, because my body has to get retrained on no bathroom for 4 hours, no food until noon, standing for hours, talking nonstop (at least for today). Saying the same thing 5 times to 5 different sets of faces. I know how tired I’ll be at the end of it. Voice scratchy, feet aching. And mourning the loss of more freedom. BUT. A paycheck this month. It’s been a while. That will be nice.

Girlchild Face-timed last night…not to see me and the boychild, but to see the dogs.

The quilt saga continues, in a crazy wonky way. I got an email yesterday morning that AQS had shipped both quilts to SAQA. Their reasoning? Not overtly that they were worried there would be complaints, but because everyone else in the exhibit had 2 quilts and now I only had 1. Um. That’s because of You Guyz. Surely I can send another one? Oh no. A friend said maybe they were worried my quilt would be lonely. Does she look lonely?

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Fuck no. She doesn’t. She’s got this. Strong woman. Can hang alone.

I posted about it, after I sat alone in my classroom (I had to be at school yesterday, even though I was mostly done setting up) and cried a little. Cried because my kid is gone, the other leaves today, I’m frustrated that I keep banging my head against all these solid rock establishments…the quilt world, the Quilt Police, the art world, the anti-art people, the anti-craft people. This is crazy. And it hurts.

I make most of my work completely alone, mostly in my head. I’m fairly isolated from a community of makers. I belong to one quilt guild, but they’re awfully traditional. I don’t need to take classes. I live out in the boonies. And honestly, I’m an introvert, not much of a joiner, not a socializer. I’d really rather be in my head with my drawings and the fabric.

So I appreciate all the people checking in. Last night, at some point, I stopped trying to answer all the emails. I’ll try again after school today, because some of you have written some truly nice and funny stuff. I did get one email from a woman who interviewed me for a podcast last night, and as soon as she gets it ready to go, I’ll post all that info here, so you can listen to me and figure out how to pronounce my name right. I just know y’all are going around saying it wrong. (like it matters) But it was really nice to talk to someone who had seen the quilt in Grand Rapids before it came down and wanted me to talk about what happened. Total stranger before that, but sort of cathartic to get it out.

In other awesome yesterday news, Maddie Kertay of BadAss Quilter’s Society fame and owner of SPOOL in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was willing to exhibit the two quilts during September, so I got SAQA to set up shipping directly to her. So if you are going to Chattanooga to see the AQS show (and I really don’t want people NOT to go because of this…go see and celebrate the other artists there. They deserve it.), then stop by SPOOL as well. Maddie wrote about the issue here. And my quilting friend Judy Kurpich wrote about it here. Sometimes other people’s words are better than mine.

So yeah, the world is coming out and supporting me, and that’s cool.

And I keep going. Making. Because it’s what I do to stay sane.

I said I was going to clean up the office/studio, and I did…

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I forgot to photograph the piles when I started. There were many more of them. All the fabrics from the last quilt, plus the stuff my SIL sent. They all needed to be put back in the drawers. It took about an hour to get everything straightened out, and at that point, after being on the phone for quite a while, I was tired. Honestly, too tired to start picking fabrics for the big quilt, although I did set up for that.

See, she’s ready to go.

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And then I remembered I had this easy little guy, the owl from the most recent Earth Mother…a commission. So I had just picked up that quilt from the photographer on Monday. I pulled it out and realized I had just put all those fabrics away. Dammit. Sigh. So I found them again…

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And I laid out all the pieces (there’s only 103)…

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Ironed them all down…and started cutting them out.

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So I’m almost done with that. Hoping to maybe iron it together tonight and then give the future owner some background choices. Then maybe I can get my head around the big one.

So this sugar packet has been lying in the driveway for weeks. It’s the girlchild’s. I’m leaving it there until she gets back.

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Empty nests. Suck.

At school, I was kinda done with everything, and pacing around because of the email about the quilts, and not very focused, but I was supposed to try to draw this spiral of life thing that I do in the classroom…so I started…

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This is what I usually do with the kids…to show what we learn in 7th grade versus all the other grades, and how they’re all connected.

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I brought it home to work on it, but that didn’t happen.

This did. Kitten and Simba are wary of each other.

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In the end, Kitten comes up and sleeps on the keyboard, thus altering Google Docs forever. I come in and my school calendar has 7800 equal signs in it, because she was lying on that key.

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She doesn’t care about all that.

To school. My job. Art when I get home, after I take the boychild to the airport. Then it’s just me and the menagerie and my art.

*Trapt, Headstrong

The Phallus Debacle

August 17, 2016

Today’s title from the girlchild, who was objecting to my using the word penis over and over again. So this is what she’s calling the penis kerfuffle. And there, I used it twice. Sorry kid.

Just a quick summary, for those who don’t want to go back four or five posts…this quilt, I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket, was pulled from AQS QuiltWeek in Grand Rapids, MI, due to a viewer complaint about a penis that isn’t actually in the quilt.

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It’s supposed to be shipped back to me, and there’s a possibility of it being shown at a quilt store, SPOOL, in Chattanooga, TN, during AQS QuiltWeek if I can coordinate shipping.

My second quilt in People and Portraits, a SAQA exhibition traveling with AQS QuiltWeek, is Fully Medicated. SAQA asked AQS for a guarantee that they wouldn’t pull it if someone complained about it, and AQS is still thinking about that. I’m hoping a bunch of emails and comments from the rest of the world help remind them that they are in the public eye and persuade them to keep it hung.

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Still no penis. But plenty of other stuff, sure. Maybe pill bottles set you off. Hard to say. I personally have issues with red and yellow used together.

I completely appreciate all those who are being supportive of keeping art out there in the public eye, even if it offends a few…or many. I heard that SAQA was showing my quilt on an iPad and telling viewers it was banned. That makes me laugh heartily, and I appreciate that too. It’s been a roller coaster of a week, what with both kids leaving for college (one is here until tomorrow…the other sent 17 homesick texts this morning at 4 AM), starting school myself, trying to deal with all the stress of change at school, and temperatures of over 100 degrees. I have a migraine this morning (not a good thing) and I’m moody as hell. Blame the censorship, blame the kids leaving, blame my stupid hormones.

I am still making. I am just looking at what I’m doing, though, and thinking “What if this never gets shown anywhere?” Because that’s what goes through your mind when you butt heads with the world like this. I’m going to keep making the art, because I don’t know how to stop…but what if I never get into another show because of it? And I know that’s not going to be the case, but that little voice in your head is worried.

So thanks to all of you…

Sigh. So last night, I did manage to sort the Wonder Under for the next quilt…I start with a box for each 100 pieces…

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And then I stood there with the fan on me directly (because it was still 90 in the house)…and I sorted.

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For about an hour? Not so bad. The last one took more like 2 1/2. There’s a lot of big pieces in this quilt. I really did try to simplify. I just suck at it.

Tonight, I’m hoping to come in here and clean up from the last quilt and all the shit I’ve been doing in between (fixing pants…organizing crap) and start picking fabrics for this one. I figure it’ll take about 15 hours to pick…so hopefully by the weekend some time? Maybe? Then trimming those…by the end of next week? Maybe start ironing next weekend? I’m really trying to get this one done on time…so it’ll be a stretch.

I have to be at school today to prep, even though I’m mostly done. I’d rather be here working. But then, that’s a daily thing.

I Like Having a Detachable Penis*

August 16, 2016

Really I don’t know how I didn’t think of this song earlier. So yesterday was the first day for teachers to be back at school, which basically means a 6-hour-long staff meeting. About halfway through the first long stretch, I get the email from SAQA telling me that AQS has pulled I Was Not Wearing a Life Jacket (or for that matter, not showing a penis) from the last of the two shows it was supposed to be in, Chattanooga and Des Moines. Understand that I’m already tired and stressed from starting school, and I vacillate between angry as hell, really frustrated with reactions to my art, and incredibly depressed about the possibility of even more restrictions on my work. There are venues where I can’t show my work even now, and there’s even issues with the art world accepting quilts as art. “It’s fabric? Then it’s a CRAFT.” Huh. Last I looked, canvas is fabric. But whatever. These are not new issues. This has all happened before, multiple times. There are magazines that won’t show my work as well, which is annoying. And no, I’m not the only one. By far.

But dammit, I want that all to change.

So I was upset. Still am. But not so upset to stop working on the next quilt. In fact, I’m powering through it because of upcoming deadlines. I honestly appreciate all the positive and uplifting comments I get from y’all. One comment yesterday I had to read aloud to the other teachers at lunch because it almost made me cry. Granted, I’m a hormonal menopausal mess, so stupid shit makes me cry. It helps…because then I feel less alone, less like I’m standing at the end of a hallway with all my work piled up around me as the door gets slammed in my face. No! You will NOT show your work!

Life Jacket was drawn around the time of the Gulf oil spill…

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That guy. Yelling at her.

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“You’re doing it wrong!”

Not a penis.

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Sigh. The second part of the email is where SAQA let me know that they asked AQS to commit to not pulling my other piece, Fully Medicated (which has had no complaints lodged against it), for the rest of the circuit. AQS is thinking about that. They Have to THINK About It. I’m really unhappy about that. They accepted the special SAQA exhibit as part of their show. They should stand behind it. Or not accept it in the first place.

Either you show art, or you admit you can’t handle it.

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I’m still waiting to hear back on that level of crazy.

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It’s funny, because years ago, when I was first starting out, I preferred the AQS magazine over Quilters Newsletter Magazine, because they had more arty articles about quilt techniques. QNM seemed to be mostly traditional stuff. But QNM has backed me for years; they have posted pictures of my work, and then backed it up in the Letters section when people freaked out about those pictures. I stopped being a member of AQS years ago, when I grew out of it, but I kept my QNM subscription all this time.

I just want AQS to feel some pressure from the quilt world. I don’t want people to not go to the shows, because that hurts the other artists as well. I want them to go and then complain to the organizers. Or email AQS and let them know they don’t support censorship. I still want them to go and see the shows and buy from the vendors, and maybe, just maybe, go check out the SAQA exhibits and see what tickles their fancy.

They pulled the quilt because one person complained about something that wasn’t there. I want to be more than one person complaining about their actions.

No, AQS has not contacted me. I doubt they will. And I may be blacklisted from their shows from here on out. Someone brought up the fact that the quilt that was at the Mancuso show where a woman not only complained, but called Fox News, who showed up and called me a pornographer…the Mancusos left the work hanging. And left it in the traveling exhibit for the remainder of the shows. I’m sure I caused them some stress, but I probably also got them some tickets sold. And there were no issues at any of the other shows

So yesterday, after being at school all day, tired and stressed, affected by all this shit, I sat down and cut out the rest of the Wonder Under for the new quilt…

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About 9 1/2 hours total. Tonight, I’ll sort them and maybe get my office cleaned up enough to start picking fabrics. I have a really tight schedule on this one…

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I also prepped a science lab for later this month…black boxes. Each box has a piece of cardboard and a marble, and they get taped shut. There are four versions, with different shapes of cardboard and/or locations. The cats did not help.

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What science teachers do at home to get ready for the school year.

Simba is being a sweetheart, sitting on the boychild…who is leaving in two days.

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I miss the girlchild already. OK. Gotta go to work and get my classroom ready for the 150 or so 7th graders who will show up Thursday. Then come home and make art that makes people freak out. Or love it. Or even just go “Huh.” And walk on by.

*King Missile, Detachable Penis

It Don’t Feel Right*

August 12, 2016

So I think yesterday was one of the most productive art days all summer. Sad that today is the last DAY of summer. And I’ll be at school for the whole morning. Oh well. At least I know I can still do those monster days. (because I’ll be doing lots of them this year…)

What did I do? I traced Wonder Under…for HOURS.

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The cats love this part of the project. I personally do not so much love their involvement, since it is mostly their fluffy butts that are involved.

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Sometimes I have to push or pull them, or pull things out from under them.

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So while I’m being thankful that this cat is still alive, I’m also cursing her existence. Or at least her existence on the light table.

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She might be cursing me a bit as well.

Really, I spent a lot of time with the cats yesterday. Wonder Under is a fascinating thing. Plus light emanating from tables. Which might be a thing if it were cold out, but it’s not. I have a fan pointed at the light table, and they don’t generally like fans. Except for yesterday. Yesterday fans seemed OK.

So did laundry baskets…

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And really, just staring at Mom on a regular basis and meowing plaintively because I am so obviously ignoring their asses.

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I traced for over 7 hours yesterday…I’m 8 1/2 hours in, I think. I’m in the high 600s, so I’m only halfway. THAT is the part that sucks. That and the fact that I might run out of Wonder Under. Sigh.

I’m four yards in? I think?

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This one doesn’t have quite so many tiny pieces as the last one. And it has about 700 fewer pieces as well, which is a good thing. I might actually finish it in time.

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Which reminds me, I’m picking the others up from the photographer today. I think. After school. And then tracing for another (insert number of hours here).

Girlchild leaves tomorrow morning. Early. That’s a hard one.

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She’s leaving so early because she’s doing orientation for the incoming freshmen. It sucks that she’s not around to help the first few days of school for the first time in like 5 years. I can’t persuade the boychild to do it. Not sure I blame him.

OK. School first. Then art. Then family.

(Apparently Pandora has decided I need some rap to start the morning. She may be right…)

*The Roots, Don’t Feel Right

There Must Be Something About Your Daughter…*

August 9, 2016

Well 19 years ago I gave birth to my youngest child…she of the changing hair colors…


Something we have in common, although I haven’t messed with hair color for years. Just letting it do the natural Einstein white freaky hairs now. She leaves for college again in four days, and although I won’t miss her dishes, I will miss having her around. I hope her 19th year is somewhat less stressful than last year. Although I’m not sure that’s how life works. I do still remember her birth. It wasn’t easy. You know how they say the second one will be easier? Fucking liars. Whatever. She’s been out for a while now…and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does.

Yesterday, I was planning at school. About two years ago, I bought plastic folders for the kids to buy from me if they wanted to replace their paper ones. And then I lost them. For two years. I found them yesterday.

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I consider this a positive omen for the new year. And god knows we’re gonna need them…the folders AND the omens.  My brain sort of exploded yesterday as we planned the second unit, the unit that is gonna finish me off in October. Not really. But aack. I love feeling stupid and uneducated at the age of 49. Whatever. I’ve got some reading to do.

Saw this yesterday. Love it.

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Except the Up Early part. Nope. Nuh uh.

So I did a lot of work-related stuff yesterday, finally getting school supplies. And then I settled down for sewing on binding…for hours.

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Puppy was sleeping with me for a good chunk of it.

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With a quick trip to the pet emergency hospital in the middle, when we thought he might have swallowed a fatal dose of meds that he shouldn’t have gotten into.

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Yes. There have been some conversations about how to dispose of meds. But he’s also a puppy and gets into everything. So we lost a book and a pair of boots yesterday as well. He is fine today. Of course. Full of energy and ready to keep chewing up the world. Because he learned nothing from being forced to vomit repeatedly. Sigh.

I’ve been working on the next Spargo quilt in the meantime. This is from Folk Tails.

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Actually, there’s one in between Bird Dance and Folk Tails, but I like this one better. Hmn. And no, I haven’t trimmed and pieced the birds yet. Because the embroidery is what I do when I can’t do other stuff…like when I’m at meetings or at the parental’s house. So I don’t have time at home to trim and piece all those blocks. I’m too busy with the quilts that have to be done.

Yeah. The binding is not quite done…one sleeve left. I got tired. Today though. I hope.

Julie makes potholders. I have lots of them now. They’re nice and colorful, and it kinda feels sacrilegious to USE one…

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But it will just give her an excuse to make more.

So birthday stuff planned today. And quilt finishing. And then starting the next one. Enjoying the last few days of vacation. I should because it will be a while before I can say that again.

*Coleman Hell, 2 Heads (it really did just come up as I was finishing this…)


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