Time Out

May 23, 2015

School’s been kicking my ass lately, and I’ve just been barely holding my brain together with duct tape and safety pins. I’ve been making art every night and trying to read and exercise and keep sane, but with a three-day weekend after a week of internet disasters, state math testing, microscopes, and crazy political crap at school, I was done. Very done. Over done. So I had made a plan to give myself a time out, get the hell out of Dodge, take my brain out and give it some rest and relaxation…unfortunately, to get there, I had to drive quite a long way, with the last hour in horrendous fog and mist on a winding mountain road, but I’m here now, ensconced in the parental cabin, having gone on a walk, gotten my boat license (it’s way too freakin’ cold to go out on the lake right now), finished my book, and now considering dinner, a movie, and some stitching or cutting of tiny fabric pieces. The weather is conducive to staying inside and not doing much but reading and drinking tea and talking and listening to music. And we petted a dog. Dogs are good.  I have a few pictures on my phone that I can stick in this post too, although I used my camera for most of what I’ve taken today…I could hook that up to this computer, but that sounds like too much work, and the point of this weekend is NOT to work. Although I will have to at some point. I brought grading with me and will need to go to school on Monday unfortunately. Teachers always pay the price at some point of taking time off, whether it’s one night of not grading or a whole weekend of not touching the gradebook or lesson plan. 


I’ve spent a lot of time in the last 24 hours seeing the Quilt National artists post pictures of their work and the event, and I’m totally jealous and frustrated with my work, even though I know I’m making some of the best work of my life and that getting in is a chance in a thousand or so. It’s OK. I’m OK with not getting in. I just wish I were there. Although it would have been a lot more stressful this week to get myself to Ohio on top of everything else. So. There it is.


Meanwhile, getting outside and walking around, testing out my foot, which has been mostly pain-free this week…that was high on the list of things to get done. As was finishing the book I’ve been reading for forever now. I’m hoping tomorrow morning to be on the water in a canoe, getting a water’s-eye view of the lakeshore…leaving all the detritus in my head in my wake. Not that a canoe leaves much of a wake at my rowing level. 


Shit, and I want to draw. In fact, I’m not spending much time on this post…gonna do something else and then make some burgers, have some ice cream, maybe a glass of wine. There’s gotta be a place my brain can get to that lets me get through the last four weeks of school. I can’t be on time out for that long. 


There is a lake out there somewhere.

Makes Me Crazy…

May 22, 2015

I made art for over 4 hours yesterday. I didn’t work when I got home. I couldn’t. It’s been a really long week. Again. I keep reading articles about how to keep sane as a teacher, and they all scream BALANCE at us. And then you have a 14-hour day. (I made art on that 14-hour day. I’m a little nuts.) It helped that it was my monthly quilt meeting last night and I had something at the right stage for working on there, but still…I worked a full school day and then some (testing was extended an hour due to internet issues), and then I came home and (collapsed for a good long while and) made art.

I don’t know if I’m doing it right, because I’m pretty stressed and tired at the moment, but I think I’d be that way just because of my job, and the art is the part that makes it all OK.

This quilt is finally interesting. The fabric-choosing part really sucks me in. I find it hard to leave it, even at 1 in the morning when I know I have to go to work the next morning.

So I finished last night…76 fabrics, 7 hours and 53 minutes to choose them all…

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Not a ton of color in this one. The blues and whites are the largest sections, I think. I’m looking forward to seeing it come together.

Here’s what it looks like when I have a bunch of small, weirdly shaped pieces that are all in the same fabric…this is hair.

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I cut all those out yesterday too…here’s the whole bin full of pieces at the end of the ironing, although…

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I had already started cutting stuff out at my meeting earlier in the evening…

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I got a lot done in an hour and 40 minutes. I was exhausted when I got there, but managed to keep going. Bought dinner, drove to my parents and picked up snow chains that I won’t need, then home and ate. That woke me up a bit, so I came in, ironed for almost two hours, then looked at the clock.

I’m not going to sleep before midnight. So I might as well keep cutting…

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There’s all those browns cut out, plus some others. Still got a good chunk to cut out, but I have a good start. I’m debating taking it with me this weekend. I have a hard time sitting still without doing anything. Then again, I have hiking and canoeing on my list for the weekend (hoping my foot is finally healed). Not a lot of sitting still with that, but we’ll see. I prefer to take a bunch of artmaking stuff with me, so I can pick and choose. I’m still debating taking grading with me. I don’t want to. I should. We’ll see how that pans out. I  just know I need some sleep and some time away from my job and my life. Isn’t that what 3-day weekends are for? Yes. Yes they are.

I’m actually thinking this quilt might be put together by the end of the school year, I’m that far ahead at the moment. That’s two weeks earlier than I had thought…which is good, because the other one has to be done by the third week in July. And I’m sending out stuff on editing jobs too. So I might have paying work on top of all this. Crazy.

With that, I have to get out of here to that place that makes me crazy…

The Picture of a Happy Family

May 21, 2015

It is just the picture of a happy family at home here, as we nestled on the couch last night, boychild providing calculus support to the girlchild while randomly Googling facts about the show we were watching, SVU (happy wholesome TV), and I graded assignments about reproduction (asexual, sexual, and cloning), often dissolving into hysterical laughter when I read student interpretations of the notes I’d given them. Girlchild cooked a lovely dinner with vegetables, which are no longer forbidden here…well, they were never forbidden, but they were limited and now he eats a lot of things he wouldn’t eat before. Boychild helped out in the kitchen and then cleaned things, which was scary and nice. But eventually girlchild, who gets up earliest, went to bed, boychild wandered off to his room, and I went off to my studio to deal with the flesh and the water.

Tuesday night, I had time to pick the flesh fabrics I was going to use, but not to actually lay them out and iron them. So that’s what I started with…

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There’s not actually much flesh in this quilt. Most of the larger body and a goodly portion of the child are all under water. While I was ironing, though, I realized the bones didn’t go through to the bottom part of the leg. I don’t usually change things at this stage, but this bugged me, so I drew in the lower bones…

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Traced them and ironed them. Easy enough, and now I won’t stare at it, wondering where the bones disappeared to.

Really, that’s when I should have gone to bed. I’ve been up way too late all week, and it’s starting to hurt in the morning. Or maybe Thursday mornings always hurt. Hard to say.

Being my usual cantankerous and stubborn artistic self, I kept going…and I didn’t keep going into something simple. Oh no. I went for the water…big crazy pieces of curliness…

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And this crazy thing…

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That is one piece. I don’t know what I was thinking. It will be “fun” to cut out (not).

I have quilt class tonight, so I’ll start cutting them out then…

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I’m not done ironing yet though. I have at least another 150 pieces to go. I’d like to get them done tonight, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to. I have a little over 6 1/2 hours in so far, which is more than it should have taken for a 600-piece quilt.

I also seem to have more colors of fabric than I normally would for a quilt with this few pieces…

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We’ll see if that’s true at the end. All I have left to iron is the adult woman in the piece. She doesn’t have a lot showing, but her hair is incredibly complicated. Wanna know why? Because when I first drew it, it wasn’t the right size or shape, so I just added to it…and that added about 40 pieces. Crazy, right? Well we already know about that.

Today is the last day of state testing (hallelujah) and my kids started microscopes yesterday, which means my sarcasm spilled over…”What is that?” “I don’t know.” “Where is your slide, your coverslip?” “What are those?” “The things I just stood up there and showed you how to prepare, that I showed you a video on yesterday and made you take notes about the day before. Where are they?” “I don’t know.” It takes a massive amount of patience to teach some days, really, on any hands-on lab day and many technology days, and I can’t say that my patience is at a maximum at the moment. I said, “Oh my God! Look! It’s an e!” about 17 times yesterday (the first assignment is to look at a newsprint letter e).

But they will survive me, as I survive them. And they will move on to the next grade, the next science teacher, and they will either hate them or come back and tell me how they have an A in science now (good job!), and the really annoying ones, the ones I wanted to run away from on the last day of school, they will come see me every day and yell “I love you!” across the quad and hug me when they get close enough…except for the few that I am STILL glaring the evil eye at, even a year later. I think it’s sad that we only really remember the badly behaved or tragic students…that those good kids you see every day doing amazing work…they make me happy in the moment when I see their test scores or their very cool science drawings or their happy little faces as they wave at me…but they’re the ones I forget over the years…their names, their faces. Sigh. Is that proof that the bad sticks to us easier than the happy? Hard to say.

This is an interesting article about an artist who did a show of white women in advertisements over a span from 1915 to current-day, removing all the text and just leaving the pictures. I thought it was telling that the author, a white woman, wasn’t sure if things were better now than they were in the ad from 1915…in fact, they might be worse. In advertising, in imagery about our bodies, I think it is worse.

Me and my early-morning headache (woken by girlchild screaming about spider; I really needed that extra two minutes of sleep, dammit) will now attempt to go to work and be calm and patient for the first part of the day. It’s really up to the kids as to how long that sticks. Looking forward to hopefully finishing the fabric-choosing part of this quilt tonight. And maybe sleeping. That never seems important at night…just the next morning.

Girlchild is now at school, now that the spider is dead. Boychild is intelligently still asleep. I am questionably awake and ready to go to work (well, not really READY per se, but I should go). The happy family continues (yours may be a bit different than mine).

Sanity Is Built Up of Many Crazy Parts

May 20, 2015

Not much time this morning. Yesterday was crazy rushing around, but the boychild is finally home, recovering from not eating for hours and all that other traveling crap. I suspect there was some serious running in Philadelphia’s airport (he has long legs), but all three California kids from that really late Ithaca plane made it. Apparently no plane ever leaves Ithaca on time. He can sleep almost all day here if he needs to. I don’t think the cats know he’s here.

Meanwhile, I have three interviews (not mine), an emergency scary meeting (not about me), and a massive lab to deal with today, so I need to be at school early and for a million hours (fun stuff)…so I’m writing this quick! That Quick!

I did iron for a short bit yesterday…

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There was a faucet and a handle that needed doing, and then a soap holder with soap. I’m trying to remember what the red fabric was for…who knows…part of the handle maybe? No, that doesn’t make sense. Anyway. I then spent about 20 minutes under the desk picking out flesh fabrics in a run of 7 (the pink/flesh drawers are under the desk…gonna install a light under there next)…

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Before having to leave for the airport. It was too late to start ironing when I went to bed, so I’ll be ironing body parts when I get done with everything tonight…maybe. If I don’t collapse from exhaustion before then. Plus boychild is home and he’s usually pretty talkative the first few days. I’ve got about 4 1/2 hours into the ironing so far.

So there is progress, but it’s fucking slow at the moment. I’m not a full-time artist…some days, I’m barely a part-time artist. That’s because I choose to hang out with more people after a long day of hanging out with mostly little- or medium-sized people. Crazy, I know, but sanity is built up of many crazy parts.

Five Whites That Aren’t White…

May 19, 2015

Oh morning. You are sometimes so sweet and pretty and bright, but this morning is delightfully gloomy (really, that’s easier to wake up to) and there is a cat butt in my face. The cat quite boisterously cleans itself when it thinks I should be waking up. I have three alarm clocks really and one is sentient. And it’s not my iPhone.

I sat through my daughter’s prom dress fitting yesterday. I have pictures, but she would surely kill me to post them. A small, lovely, and very competent woman is making my daughter’s dress from a photo. I’m thoroughly impressed by her wizardry. After that came flopping on the couch to read, because it was a long day that included a bunch of crazy because one of the substitute cleaning team at my school unplugged the computer cart over the weekend and every computer was dead…on the first day of math testing…online. We managed that crazy though (never again, please).

I also spent a good chunk of time finding all my reproductive unit paperwork (didn’t actually find most of it, strangely), and then creating a profile on a proofreading/editing site. Once they’ve approved me, I’ll post it here. Because y’all are looking for editors? You never know.

So it was late when I started the artmaking part of my life…as always.

This thing is actually going pretty quickly. I stopped the night before when I got to the bathtub pieces, because they are huge and required some thought. Here’s one of them.

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Basically, I have 5 whites that aren’t white. Well, one of them is white. The other 4 pretend towards whiteness but are really what white would be if there were shadows and 3D going on.

Here’s all the fabrics I’ve used so far…

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You can see the whites, such as they are, in the left column in the middle. So I didn’t do a ton of pieces last night, maybe 50? But they were huge and complicated and took a long time to iron and cut out.

The pile grows…

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And this morning, I still have three hundred pieces to go. Tonight I’ll be somewhat busy…and my late night, which is normally saved for artmaking crazy (I stayed up too late last night), will be spent at the airport getting the boychild.

Really, there are days when my life seems inordinately busy. I’m glad I took a half hour with a cup of tea and my book yesterday, partially because I like this book and want to finish it, but also because my brain needs shit like that. I didn’t grade hardly anything yesterday, between the testing fiasco and refusing to work when I got home. I worked enough hours as it was. Oh, I also took the lake boating test so I could kayak/canoe at Lake Arrowhead this weekend. I need a license for that! I don’t know if I passed. I would hope so. It was open note.

Anyway, so we’ll hope today is better, less crazy, more grading at school (except I’m starting microscopes tomorrow, which is a little crazy in itself). Time to get stuff done at home, but also that the boychild’s plane comes in on time so I don’t have to go to bed super late. Like even for me. And nothing else pops up on the radar. For now. Just let me get a little caught up before something else shows up.

I Know You Know It…

May 18, 2015

Apparently I like to pick out fabrics…or my mood finally switched on to art mode. Either way, even though I spent a good two hours yesterday arguing with the girlchild by text about whether she had taken my shoes or not or whether I was in the right to demand that my shoes be returned to my house (ah, the wonder of divorce), and then we weren’t speaking to each other for the next 2 1/2 hours, somehow all that shit worked out and I managed to do some grading and make some art.

Actually, first of all, this is a drawing from Saturday…

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Which needs a redraw. I like the hands. I like the belly and crotch area. I need the head further down. I’ll try again. I also went to an art event Saturday night, but I’ll have to deal with that in a later post…too many photos for a Monday morning.

I had mostly cleaned in here Thursday night (yes, I know it doesn’t look clean, but what do you know?)…

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And set up for ironing, did a tiny bit, but then succumbed to cranky exhaustion.

So last night, I managed to avoid both, and made it through all of the first 100 and second 100 pieces…

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There they are laid out by 10s. Very exciting, no? Yes, I’m a little obsessive sometimes. But look at what I can do with it!

Basically, last night I ironed everything together up until the bathtub…here’s the ginkgo tree…

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Some of those browns are just shreds of skinny pieces because I’ve cut so many tree branches out of them.

Here’s what I’ve used so far…not much color.

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There was a dog on a rug, a cat, a ginkgo tree, a pile of clothes, and a pair of shoes.

Next stop? The bathtub. Which might be a bit difficult. I need big pieces for that. Here’s everything I’ve ironed so far…

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I got to piece 229. On this quilt, that’s almost halfway done…which is good, because my brain is realizing I have to get another relatively big one done by mid-July? Ish? And that is closer than it appears in that mirror.

I also started revamping my LinkedIn page to include my editing and proofreading experience, which is old, but still useful. I’m debating joining a couple of groups that might get me work, but school is still hanging over me. My car went into the shop, though, and between it and my house insurance, the next month is going to be ugly…which is a problem, because I don’t get paid over the summer. So I need to get some focus on…realizing I don’t know how to edit electronically (well, I can mark up in Word), and might have to take some courses to figure that shit out. Anyway. I try to worry about the smaller stuff, one bit at a time. College crap. Getting the boychild home crap. Getting through state testing crap.

I aired out the boychild’s room and rewashed his bedding, realized we were still short a pillow and his fitted sheet no longer fit. Elastic with issues…so I made a run to Target for another pillow and a fitted sheet. Set all that up, so he at least has somewhere to sleep. He can work on cleaning the rest of it when he gets home. Asked the girlchild to clean the bathroom, and she tried to blame part of the mess on her brother, who hasn’t been home since January 19. It’s gonna be a fun summer! I know you know it.

More drawing. More art. I was commenting that I find it hard to draw specifically about the relationship I have with my daughter. I can draw about motherhood in general and the stress that goes with it. Earth Mother shows up a lot in my work. But when I try to parse out how the two of us work and why it drives me bonkers sometimes, I just can’t make a picture about it. I can only hope she has a really nice roommate in her dorm who doesn’t kick her out after three months.

It’s OK. I know her worst behavior gets saved up for me. OK. Apparently I have to go to work. Damn paying-the-bills job. And please don’t tell me you want teachers to love their jobs…there isn’t a single teacher out there who loves state testing, and most of us are trashed by the last 6 weeks of school.

Speaking of trashed, I dropped my favorite mug yesterday…

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Dammit. I made it myself. I made another one at the same time, but I’m apparently not allowed to have it back. And the other large mug I had sprung a leak. So I’m fussing around with a tiny mug, checking Groupon for the next coupon for the ceramic painting place.

OK, off to my day, if only to figure out all the ways I have screwed up already. Love Mondays.


May 16, 2015

Whoa. OK. Hello Saturday morning. There were all these things I was getting done and it just seemed to propagate more have-to’s. That’s just wrong. Every time I turn around, there’s another one bopping me in the face. This time of year, with graduation and end of school and college demands from two different schools and this thing and that thing. Crap. I need to send a quick email before I forget again.

OK, done. My brain is on overload. That said, I spent the last two nights speaking to almost no one (well, except via text) and last night, I went 6 hours speaking to nothing human except the pizza guy (it was Friday, I was tired. I think I’ve talked to my car guy more in the last two days than to anyone I care about. OK. I care about my car guy. He’s nice.). My brain gets a little weird with all that incommunicado shit, so it’s now trying to balance all that lonely with the girlchild currently singing some song like she’s trying out for American Idol. But then she’s leaving again. My lord. Maybe I should have more children (fuck no).

OK, with all that in mind, know that I worked for about 12 hours yesterday, grading for more than 4 hours last night. Because I’m fucking nuts, that’s why. I just sat myself in front of the telly with a DVD of Elementary, another version of Sherlock, recommended by the boychild. The boychild, by the way, has been trying to get my website banned in totalitarian countries…

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There’s Afghanistan. He said he could access it and then they decided I’m violating their shit. Whatever, Afghanistan. Hell, I probably violate the laws and regulations of half the Southern United States as well. I’m not bothered.

So after grading until I wanted to crawl into a cockroach-infested concrete box (watching too much weird TV), I gave up and did other stuff. I sorted all the Wonder Under for the first bathtub quilt, which is actually Bathtub 2, because I like to be confusing like that.

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Not a lot of pieces. Really. It only took like 20 minutes to sort them. So then I went to the newly cleared (but not totally clean, please don’t hold your breath on that one) studio and started picking fabrics.

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I didn’t get very far. I was tired. It was late.

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By then, everyone was back in touch with me, via phone and in person, although I think girlchild only said three words to me, “Where’s my dog?”. Um. You mean that big Golden Retriever thing that’s been following you around, whining, since you walked in the door?

Yeah. Whatever. Not a great mood. Went to bed with a book and a cup of tea and woke up to a Kitten hurdling my head (her code for “I have to Poop Now.”) and a mood. So blasting Rufus Wainwright right now is probably not the best choice. I have a shitload of stuff to do, but I don’t feel like doing any of it. It’s all too complicated. I just want to have a reasonable amount of human connection (and there’s nothing about teaching pre-teen/teenagers that fits that bill, sorry) and time to make art. And whatever. A clean house. Ha! I am still listening to music way too loud for an old person.

Maybe drawing should be on my list. And Motrin. Yes, I realize I’ve been dealing with a lot of headaches lately. The weather systems locally have been a little crazy lately, which doesn’t help. And my foot still hurts, so I’m not getting regular exercise. OK. Getting off this thing. I’m feeling like I need to DO. DO is better than SIT. Unless SIT includes DRAW. And maybe wine.


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