It’s a Small World Full of Light*

February 6, 2018

Last night, a bunch of stuff happened. I felt sick, so I went to bed a bit early without posting a picture of anything on Instagram (not the end of the world). I drew a bit, leftovers from the loooong staff meeting I survived. I finished cutting out all the Wonder Under for the commission quilt. I tried to clean up in the studio. I was going to sort Wonder Under pieces too, but my stomach did not agree. I love it when random bodily organs decide to sabotage the night. I’m arguing with it, please why can’t you just get along? We don’t have to do this. Ugh. Nausea sucks. Always.

Whatever it was, it’s still with me this morning. Fun stuff. Plus a parent meeting and duty again. Mornings are never my strong point. Wait. I said at the staff meeting yesterday that afternoons were never my strong point. Also true. I really am a night owl. I can function in the morning, but usually by myself and not talking for a goodly portion of it. Until some part of the first cup of tea gets in me.

I tried grading stuff yesterday evening, but it was making me fall asleep, so I quit. I made dinner and then this guy joined me on the couch for a while…

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I started a drawing during the staff meeting because drawing helps me focus on stuff that’s kinda boring. Although I’m still not sure what the point of the meeting was…for us to do something we already do? And the video…I don’t know what it had to do with what we were doing? Sigh. Whatever. Last night I got a work email chastising a group of us for not going to a training on Wednesday for stuff we’ve already been trained on. I’m annoyed by that. I don’t need someone to explain the new standards to me right now. Thanks.

So I started the drawing, but then we had planning time, so we used it…and I finished the drawing at home…on the couch…

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I guess you know how I feel about staff meetings now. That big mouth is kinda scary. I kind of want to do a larger drawing with more and more mouths getting bigger and trying to swallow the smaller ones.

I finished the Wonder Under cutting…just under 5 hours (pretty damn good guess, eh?).

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I need to sort them. I was going to do it last night, but that stomach thing. It’ll take less than an hour to sort them, and then I can start ironing to fabric! Yay! I love that part! Although it’s more standing…and it will take longer, probably more like the 9 hours or so that it took me to trace the quilt…maybe a little more than that. So I’ll be doing that hopefully starting tonight…then I have a hike, a meeting, and gaming (3 nights of activities)…so not very much of that until the weekend, I think. So probably I’ll finish ironing to fabric sometime next week. ALTHOUGH…I have Monday off from work. I’ll have to grade some and probably walk some dogs (like this one sleeping with her ball)…

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And I’d like to plant some stuff and there’s floors and bathrooms to clean (oooh exciting) and could I Please Please Please remember to go sit on the deck and draw? Yeah? Totally. I should do that.

This was part of the cleaning last night…I was looking for bins to sort Wonder Under into, and all the fabrics from the last quilt are still there (I leave them there until I hit this stage on the next quilt), plus a few I bought since then, plus the ones the boychild gave me for Christmas. All sorted by color. So they need to be put away before I can start. Not hard.

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Just takes a bit of time.

The girlchild left last night (which was actually this morning) on an overnight into the rainforest. They drove for a while and then hiked an hour and a half into the campsite with tents and sleeping bags (now you can see why her packing was such a pain! Imagine hauling all your camping stuff 11,000 miles). I haven’t heard from her for a while, so I suspect even the limited contact we had is unavailable where she is now. She’s there for one night and then home the next evening, which means I won’t hear from her until Thursday morning at the earliest. Yeah that part is hard. Funny, though. I always keep her and her brother in the back of my mind when they’re away at school. It’s hard not to, but I don’t worry. I know they’re OK. But that’s harder when she’s this far away. I’m sure I’ll get used to it (will I? In just 3 1/2 months?). She’s talking about doing a rural independent study project, which could mean 3 weeks or more of no contact. So I guess I’m glad I’ve had some contact with her at the beginning, because I’m pretty sure it won’t stay that way. It’s interesting what the internet has done for us in terms of keeping track of people you care about…it’s too easy to always be in contact, I guess. There’s pros and cons to that.

Anyway, parent meeting, the last day of labs (oh hallelujah, because I might kill someone soon), hopefully an improved stomach, and fabric waiting at the end of the day. Plus I don’t have to cook tonight. Always a plus.

*Laurie Anderson, Dark Angel

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Pick Me Up and Shake the Doubt*

February 5, 2018

All the tireds. Too much dog barking at invisible things outside and cats invading space with loud meows and aargh. I think it’s cruel that sleep is so easy for little kids when we obviously need it more. Then again, I wasn’t that good at sleep when I was a kid either. I’d read my book under the covers because I couldn’t fall asleep easily (and also because books good, sleep boring…that’s still true, I guess.). It’s a rough start to a stressful week, though. Although really, the stress is what we take on sometimes. I dealt with 55 emails about late work yesterday, plus got one other assignment graded. Not the best weekend achievement, but it was something.

Being a teacher definitely is stressful. Too many demands on our time and patience, usually not enough of either. I have duty before and after school for the next two weeks. Morning duty is easy…I stand by the bike rack and nod at kids and make sure parents don’t drive into other students. Afternoon duty, though, is the crosswalk of death. Mostly because adult drivers don’t stop and all I have to stop them is my hand. Seriously. I need some sort of electrical thing that stops their car and fries all the wiring if they’re dicks. Because a lot of them are. It’s hot, tiring, and annoying. There’s a lot of yelling, mostly mine. I hate crosswalk duty. They’re supposed to rotate duty every year, but this is my second year doing it. Someone dropped the rotation ball. Whatever. So today, though, I have crosswalk duty, and THEN…then I have a 2-hour staff meeting focusing on a chapter of a book that I haven’t read (because they didn’t even mention it until Friday afternoon and then I forgot the book at school, plus I need more warning than that to read a pedagogical screed), where they want us to incorporate what’s in Chapter 6 into upcoming lessons. This is where I want to slap the principal and say, “Hey dude, you know most of us plan way further out than that (seriously, we usually do) and we also have formal observations coming up so leave us the fuck alone.” But generally that sort of behavior is frowned upon. Sometimes I think principals need to be required to be teachers for at least 20 years before they can be principals.

I’m sure it will all be fine. I’m annoyed by it now and I’m going to try my hardest not to be annoyed by it in reality. Mostly because it doesn’t change the stupidity.

Yesterday, I spent a lot of time working. School working. I also managed a trip to the fabric store for some backgrounds. I was incredibly indecisive, mostly because there were too many people there and the one woman in the batik section was taking up too much space, some of it in my personal space, and I needed her gone. But I got these potential backings…

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They’re all more blue in real life. Except the purplish one. I’ll decide later. I usually only get one or two…so yeah…majorly indecisive.

Then these were just because…

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Although that purplish one would be good in the sky…maybe.

Eventually, after going to dinner at the parentals and making my lunches for the week (I love cooking…really…not)…I sat down and started cutting stuff out.

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It’s actually going really fast. I only have one full yard and about a quarter of another one left. Notionally I could be done tonight and ready to sort. If I survive all that other shit.

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A big pile of trash on the bottom; a big pile of pieces on the top. It’s good that I bought the background yesterday; the quilt store doesn’t stay open late any more. Besides, this week is a cluster at night…three nights booked. So that wouldn’t have happened anyway.

OK, gotta get outta here and go do the standing in front of the bike rack thing…plus getting ready for another lab day of kids not reading instructions and wasting materials. Fun stuff. I’m ready. Not.

*Yazoo, Situation


Well You Done Done Me In*

February 4, 2018

I’m sitting here staring at the television in my office, wondering why it’s still here when I never watch it. I used to all the time, before Netflix and Amazon Prime and everyone else putting shows on websites, like PBS. The only reason that the TV is still there is because it shows the time, and I’m pretty sure I could use that space better than I am. But that’s part of my larger plan for remodeling this room, a plan that is growing in my head, but will still cost more than I can deal with, I suspect. I can plan for years, though…so I’m good. Interestingly, the TV is not even currently showing the time (well, it’s the VCR below it), because dad turned the power off last week and I haven’t cycled everything on to put the time back on there. Ugh. It’s not even useful for that right now.

Yes, easily fixed. But every easy fix takes time. My to-do list for today is huge and deadly because I took time yesterday to go to the zoo for the first time in a long time WITHOUT 170-300 7th graders. It was much more relaxing. Although our field trip is coming up and I need to warn my team about baboon penises. The new Africa exhibit is awesome, especially the baboons and lemurs (the fossa was asleep), but those penises are gonna freak out my students no end. Lion balls too, although those are honestly less in your face.

There were lots of baby animals around…mom had her hand wrapped around this baby’s tail…

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This guy is actually a dwarf…his teeth amused me.

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Lots of penguin swimming capers…fun to watch them up close.

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Bai Yun came out to say hi.

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And this baby did the dance from Footloose right up against the glass until he settled down and waited for mom to catch up.

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Polar bears have really big feet…

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And they are definitely carnivores…that’s a meaty bone chained to the wall so we can see how freakin’ big they are.

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Dromedary with a stick…saw an elephant with a stick too. Apparently that’s not just for dogs (OK, this guy is probably eating the stick or cleaning his teeth)…

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We spent about 3 1/2 hours there and did 5 miles…not bad for a Saturday afternoon. Being members now means we can do this more often. I’m looking forward to going back with fewer people there, that’s for sure. Most annoying part about the zoo is the humans.

We went to a new place for dinner and were greeted with a Gloria Muriel mural (with some other guy, probably Alex Banach, since he’s done other murals with her). That dragon has hops in his scales. I was amused that the logo for the place was a dragon but there’s duck all over the menu. Maybe they should have chosen a different mascot.

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Then came home and cut out two yards (ish) of Wonder Under. It went fast…more tonight, I think.

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This week is busy at night, but I’m hoping to get the Wonder Under cut out and start picking fabrics, although that means I need a background. Crap! I totally forgot about that. Will have to see what I have in my stash, or add a trip to the fabric store to today’s to-do list. We’ll see. Teachers never get the whole weekend for fun without paying for it some other way…too much to get done in one day, that’s for sure.

*Jason Mraz, I’m Yours


The Room Was Humming Harder*

February 3, 2018

How not to start your Saturday morning, the first day of the weekend: interacting with the DMV website. Just don’t do it. Don’t try to be efficient and get the new ID now, because you know your driver’s license is up for renewal and that way you won’t have to do it again before 2020. Because you’ll have to take a day off work to do it, if you’re a teacher. So renew online now (after fighting their stupid registration system) and then renew again in the summer! Because that’s not a waste of time and plastic and aargh resources. I hate this shit.

But the girlchild is messaging me from Madagascar, so that’s cool. And I’m going to the zoo today, so that’s nice. And I will have to work today and tomorrow, BUT! I finished tracing Wonder Under last night on the new quilt, so that’s awesome. Actually, tracing is pretty calming and meditative, so I only really mind it if my feet are tired.

I came home yesterday and walked the little dog. I think we both needed it. He was so excited. It’s been a while. School is just not conducive to stuff afterwards sometimes. I did stay a little late at school, because Monday is Day 2 of labs, and after having to deal with lame lab results all day, we tested our calcium chloride and realized the old unsealed stuff really wasn’t working. So I cleaned mine all out and then set up for Monday, so I wouldn’t have to stress as much…also because I have morning and afternoon duty every day starting Monday (oh what fun). All I have to do is pour out the new CaCl and everything will be ready. All good.

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I am no longer anywhere near caught up with grading. I think we thought we’d get some time this last week to grade while kids did stuff, but after the first day of interest in the topic, those who are lazy as fuck and would really rather pick their noses than complete things were behavior issues and I spent a lot of time managing them. On these larger projects, even though we break them up into really user-friendly to-do lists and rubrics, there’s very little understanding of “I didn’t finish that yesterday, so I have to finish it today.”

It can be very frustrating. But more labs Monday. Hopefully reading instructions will go better as well. Also a difficult thing.

So I really needed this walk. I needed a longer one, but puppy isn’t good at those without Calli (who was at her dad’s house)…plus it was close to sunset. I’m still wary of the coyotes…as well I should be…they’re everywhere.

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So I was in this exhibit for Martha Sielman’s art quilt book series, in the People and Portraits book, and the exhibit started at IQF in Houston back in 2013 and then traveled all over the place, but when it got to Grand Rapids, Michigan, all hell broke loose, some woman imagined a penis in my quilt (there wasn’t one), and both quilts got pulled from the rest of the exhibit run. As part of the exhibit, they asked us to make a small sample quilt (I think this is like 11″ square) for a book where people could touch the pieces and see construction. I made this uterus in the hand (of course) and it then disappeared…I wondered about it briefly and then wasn’t sure who to ask about it, until I got an email earlier this week asking if I wanted to pay to ship it back to me, or (what they really wanted us to do) if I could donate it to the Texas Quilt Museum. Yeah, well, I’m pretty sure the TQM wants nothing to do with my uterus quilt, so I offered to pay to ship it back, but Martha is awesome and has been very supportive during this invisible penis crap, so she shipped it back to me. (The show and this little uterus were actually at the TQM in early 2014.)

I was expecting it to be dirty and maybe even looking a bit ragged after 4 years of travel and touching, but either people are scared to touch uteri (a possibility), or it travels well. It’s in great shape. I’m going to take the interfacing sleeve off that they used to put it in the book and pop it on Etsy, I think…just to see if someone wants it. It’s got a little fetus in there as well…gotta take a better-lit picture of it first.

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It’s nice to see my stuff wears well. I don’t make a lot of little pieces any more. I made some for a while, birds and cats, and sold a bunch to people I know, but the market was saturated. I like the speed at which I can make smaller pieces, but I also like the immersion of a big piece. It’s like reading a long book…I love being hooked for days on the story and the characters, completely sunk in the experience.

After dinner and some space-out time with a puppy in the crook of my knee (he was very happy there)…

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I went back to this and traced the last 100 pieces. It’s just short of 5 yards of Wonder Under there…

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It was close to midnight by then, so I didn’t start cutting yet. Maybe tonight. It was just over 9 hours of tracing…I suspect it’ll be about 5 hours of cutting, so that means I should be ironing to fabric hopefully sometime this week. It also means I have to clean up the studio and put away all the old fabrics from the last quilt…maybe I should do that today just to get a head start. I know this week coming up has way too much going on…meetings and gaming and tutoring and 2-hour staff meetings…fun stuff. The fabric part is fun though…

Meanwhile I’m waiting on a connection for this show where we pair up with a male artist to see what we have in common artistically, as part of opening a conversation about women in art. Some part of me gets irritated that we still have to do that, but then I think back to my professors at UCI…all the art professors but two were male. I got along with one of the females, but the other was either completely absent from our class and let the TA handle it (male TA) or she was a dismissive wench. I purposely did this painting of a giant penis to try and get her to respond (I’ve always had authority issues, what can I say?).

Art classes in college…I look back at those that were the most helpful…the professors who forced us to be creative even when we didn’t feel that way, who made us talk about our work, who talked about their own work in a real way, like how do I go home and do this every day, how do I find the space and time and balance? There wasn’t a lot of that. I remember getting into an argument with one professor who wanted me to show up during the day, but I was a double major, so I had overlapping classes across campus. I had picked Independent Study for that reason. She didn’t know I was showing up every night at 10 PM and staying until 2 AM, until she realized all the work I had sitting on the racks drying (ceramics class). She wanted me to interact with the other students though, so I had to try to do that. But I was very much in my own head even then. That’s been a useful skill, because honestly, I don’t have a lot of interaction with other artists living out here in East County and working in fabric. I get more of that interaction online. Like minds populating the world, but not my neighborhood.

And I’m OK with that. But I have a troubled response to the male/female artist inequality. I guess that makes this show useful. We’ll see. One on one, the relationship of a male and female artist, our art speaking to each other…that’s pretty easy. I don’t know if it solves the larger problem, though, because I don’t know that it’s the artists who are willing to show with us who are the issue…or society in general, the larger structure of the art world, the male artists who think we’re better at babymaking? Anyway. Something to think about…to ponder.

But for now, I’m going to ponder breakfast…a shower…and zoo animals.

*Annie Lennox, A Whiter Shade of Pale


Banging On the Off Beat*

February 2, 2018

When I write these, it helps me (a) keep on task every night, because I know I’ll have to admit my lame-i-tude the next morning, and (b) it’s a brain dump in the morning that lets me get on with my day. Unfortunately this morning, I’m so tired that I can’t even find the right door in my head to let the brain vomit out. Ahh…sleep…as the week goes on, I need more and more of you. But I also notice that certain art-quilt-making tasks seem to engage readers more, probably because they have color and look like stuff, so people are like OOOHH and AAAAHH instead of staring at yet another picture of Wonder Under that looks remarkably like the other 17 pictures of Wonder Under, to the point where you might wonder (under…ha!) why the hell I keep taking pictures of it, because I could just reuse them and only two of you would notice.

And yet I do this.

I really wanted to be done tracing last night. Unfortunately, after going to the chiropractor and being gently adjusted (the new guy is very subtle and sorta New Age-y, not sure how I feel about that, but my neck is much better this morning), then redoing all my seating charts for today’s labs (interesting which kids abdicated that decision to me rather than try to pick friends with which to work), then going to the gym (where I ran into one of my students…wth…I go there specifically NOT to run into them)…well, then I ate dinner and it was like 10:30 PM all of a sudden and I had done very little of note. Except for all the things I just noted. Most people would just give up and go to bed. Not me! OK, maybe I should have…I honestly only traced for 30 minutes…so I still have another 100 pieces to go. But that’s how I get done…at least 30 minutes a night.

I think it’s one hand, one head, and the sun…and then I’m done. That’s totally tonight…and then I can sit on the couch and watch bad television while cutting them out.

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A quick look at my phone, which keeps track of my entire life, shows I have 53 more days to finish. I’m fine. No issues. All Good. Of course, I came up with a totally arbitrary length of time based on previous quilts. But I’m 8 hours in…as always, tracing takes about an hour per 100 pieces, rounding up, usually with an extra hour or so in there, depending on size, complexity, and general something or other. How many times I have to take the dog out to pee…pretty much.

I think I’m at 5 yards, but the last one is mostly blank. That’s a plus…

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It means the cutting-out part will take less time.

This weekend looks like tracing and cutting and grading and cleaning floors and bathrooms and watering this strange furry plant…

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Bizarre cat. And the aforementioned sleep. Always looking forward to some of that. And maybe sitting on the deck in the sun and drawing! I always say that and it never happens. Hours just fritter away on useless stuff like paying bills and grocery shopping. I should be more mindful of that. Of course, having more daylight helps with some of those things.

OK, it’s a lab day, I’m tired, and we’ve been dealing with full-moon behaviors…plus some of my really barely motivated students are gonna realize today that I paired them with similarly motivated students just to see what would happen…so someone is gonna have to read the instructions and do the work, or they’ll just be sitting there picking their noses all period. Which I’m sure they’re capable of doing.

*The Fratellis, Henrietta


And We’ll All Float on OK*

February 1, 2018

Yesterday was long. It began with a parent meeting and a breakfast of a handful of peanuts (not the best choice) and the teaching part went all day, like it does, into a meeting about who teaches what and why and how and when and maybe which…who knows. At some point, I got a second wind and started doing art things, quite a few of them. I didn’t do school things because I did lots of them at school and I should be allowed to stop at some point. Really. Today I have to remember to go to the chiropractor after school too. Somewhat hard to remember that shit.

So that was January, a whirlwind of not being able to do art for some reason. Seriously, I looked back, and most weeks I manage 13-20 hours of art…on top of a 60+-hour week of school (ugh). But until this week, I was doing about 4-5 hours a week. Maybe not helping with the feelings of stress. But I’m back on track! Woo hoo!

Seriously, it feels better.

Left for work yesterday morning with two furry beasts staring out the dirty window. It’s on a 2nd floor…hard to clean it, really. Need to replace it with something easier to clean. Normally the puppy is not out, but my housemate was running slow, so Simba got a few more moments of house freedom.

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After dinner, I put the bindings on the quilt I’ve been working on for months. That’s a fun binding…

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Usually my bindings are more mellow.

Wait. Well there’s this one…I finished the handstitching last night on this binding, but I purposely picked something crazy. Now I need to do the embroidery on it…that will take a while.

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I had wanted a January finish, so I should have done the handstitching on the other small quilt first and finished IT yesterday, but no…I did not think that far in advance. I liked last year when I was finishing one thing each month. Well. Until the summer, when all that fell to shit…so why am I worried? It’s OK…I didn’t have a finish last January either…I think I was a day or so off.

Dumped this on the couch so I could pin the binding back…

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So fast! So easy! This one will actually be done when the binding is done. I’m only doing bindings in that little bit after I’ve eaten my dinner until the show we’re watching stops. So if they’re 50-minute shows (figuring for commercials), that’s not a lot of time. It’s OK. They’ll get done.

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No rush.

My couch partner. He was quite happy when I sat still.

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Unfortunately for him, I suck at that. I eventually made it up off the couch again, after 10 PM, and started tracing freakishly small pieces of spine and ribcage and metal structure.

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I’m about 7 1/2 hours in and honestly? Almost done with the tracing. I think I have about 100 pieces left…or 120. That’s an hour or two. The little ones go faster. So hopefully I’ll finish tracing tonight and start cutting pieces out.

Meanwhile, from Tuesday’s drawing, there’s this little rodenty thing. I didn’t draw him with a purpose…was thinking mole and then he got a tail, so maybe mouse, or I don’t know what. Little mammal thing in a hole.

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Julie didn’t like that he didn’t have ears, apparently, or that he wasn’t biologically valid, which is amusing, because absolutely none NONE of my birds are real. Seriously, I just make that shit up. It must be obvious. But now I have this…

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because she sent it to me for future reference. I’m amused because this is a drawing about us getting nuked to oblivion due to our idiot president’s penis size (sigh), and she’s worried about that thing having no ears. I researched nuclear bombs and umbrellas and the rest was just random drawing. Filling space. And I’m months away from being able to make this quilt.

It’s fine. I’m amused. Now you know how much I research…sometimes a LOT, sometimes nothing at all.

Girlchild has finally found the wifi and time to post on her blog…check it out. And now I’m off to another parent meeting and day of teaching, luckily without the meeting at the end. And then art…really, after the gym and reading my book, but art.

*Modest Mouse, Float On


You Show the Lights That Stop Me Turn to Stone*

January 31, 2018

Somehow I came home last night after a long day at work, and instead of pulling out the last pages of the assignment I’ve been grading at school on and off for the last couple of days and finishing it, I sat down with a cup of tea and my sketchbook and vomited out one thing that’s been in my head for weeks.

I had two or three false starts, where the body or the head weren’t quite right…and this guy trying to get on my lap didn’t help…

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Maybe he was just after my color pens. They are pretty awesome.

So yeah, nuclear bombs much? This totally reminds me of getting under my useless school desk in middle school…those Cold War bomb drills they did with us. Even then we were smart and savvy enough to know we would totally die if the Russian nukes hit our school while we cowered under those tiny little desks.

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I think if this becomes an actual quilt, I will make it bigger to the sides, maybe change the figures under the umbrella, add more earth. Or not. Who knows…

Then I started tracing Wonder Under. I’m sure I ate dinner in there somewhere and sewed some more binding bits on, but I’m not sure when that was. Post drawing? Probably.

I took a break from tracing at one point and had both dogs back there…

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Then back to the tracing. I have about 6 hours in and I think I’m just under the halfway mark…somewhere in the mid-300s.

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It went slowly last night, because it was mostly the big sky pieces, and they take longer to trace. I think I have two completed yards traced, and another two in process…filling up all the little spaces…with fingernails and finger creases. I have the whole background traced and I started on the first of the two figures.

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Next up is that back with all the tiny pieces…needs to be earlier in the evening to do that. So tonight…should be good. Hopefully I’ll get that assignment graded at school, so I won’t even need to worry about grading.

I’m hearing just a little from girlchild at the moment. I know she hasn’t figured out how to get the blog to post yet (wifi is the issue)…but here is her program center, where all her classes are.

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Hopefully she’ll get the blog sorted soon…that and learning French. Meanwhile, I’m going to go to school and try to persuade kids to do some work. They like doing labs, but writing stuff down is apparently some high level of torture. Fun stuff.

*Ellie Goulding, Lights