Not Tidy Nor Magical

August 5, 2015

So I spent a short amount of time reading that popular Japanese book of tidying over the last couple of days, and after I almost gave up about two pages in, I settled in to just inhabiting her crazy and laughing my ass off. First, of course, I thanked my bra for being so uncomfortable and yet supporting my mammary glands so spectacularly. I then thanked my dishwasher for probably needing to be fixed again, and my daughter (via text, because she’s not here) for making a disaster area of my smaller living room, because without her actions, I would not appreciate the tidy that will ensue once her ass is in Massachusetts.

Seriously. If you are a minimalist, you might like this book…


If you’re normal like me, read it for the amusement factor. It’s short.

It’s true. I need to tidy. I really do. I just need everyone else to leave so I can do that. And stop sending me paper in the mail too, assholes. Don’t want it. And I don’t want receipts and bags and all that shit. It’s hard, because as a teacher, we were talking about flipping everything online, but it’s true that I am less likely to feel pressure to grade stuff if it is all hidden in folders online than if I have a pile of paper in front of me. That said, I’m going for it. I may hate myself halfway through the year, but without change, there is no progress.

I can’t possibly tidy, though, until all this crap is boxed up, and honestly, I’m not the one going to college and I don’t feel like doing this…

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On the other hand, I want all this out of here and I want her to leave and go to college. God dammit. I hate these mental dilemmas.

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I mean. I love her. I do. But…oh, no, she does not get to take the level with her. That’s mine. Somewhere under all of that are a couple of frames I was trying to get finished. But I can’t find my drill. I had one. It’s disappeared.

So yesterday…yesterday was a lot of work and poking and prodding (ah, the annual boob-squeeze of pain). But I finally managed to get some cutting done…

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I only did about an hour and 20 minutes last night. There wasn’t much time at the end of the day.

Today, I had chiropractor (hallelujah, she felt my neck and it felt like hell…now it’s awesome)…and then settled down to cut…

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Still to cut on the left, trash in the middle, and happily trimmed (and thanked) pieces on the right. It was about three hours today…so far. But I have an art meeting for 2 or 3 hours tonight that will mess with my free time. I’m 11 1/2 hours in. Probably that’s halfway. The problem with cutting is that my hands start to hurt. They cramp. They swell. So it was probably good that I started cutting last week in between ironing. It gives my hands a rest.

Certainly, if I have to pick up every item in my house and determine if I get a spark of joy from it, then I will never get any art done. I really do think that the people with clean houses are not the ones who are single moms of teens who are incredibly useless (apparently) and make art and have a job that is a total timesuck. And I don’t just craft on a Sunday afternoon…I make art almost every single day, and this quilt is probably 130 hours of work. That means instead of caressing each piece of junk mail that comes in the house and thanking it for filling my mailbox, I make art. Instead of praying with the vacuum cleaner about the cat and dog hair it is about to pick up, I make art. Instead of thanking my digestive system for making feces so my toilet paper has a purpose, I make art.

My real problem is time. Always has been. And with that, I’m off to a meeting that will take up time about making more art, some more experimental stuff with collaborators and stuff. Stretching, changing it up. Not tidying. Not thanking the driveway for supporting the car. I will thank the fan for moving the 90+-degree air around. That’s legit.

The Story of My Tits

July 14, 2015

No, not MY tits…Jennifer Hayden’s graphic novel about her breasts and breast cancer and her family and all that amazing stuff…this book is due to release in September.

I describe my art brain as obsessed with the being of woman, of not being able to get pregnant, of not wanting to get pregnant, of wanting to get pregnant but not being able to, and finally of not being able to and that being a relief and yet a problem, as our bodies change over the years.


Hayden’s book describes the same sort of thing, but it is the story of her tits, from flat-chested and wanting more, to getting something and changing because of that, then maybe too much, and then they become deadly carriers of cancer cells. Her feelings towards her breasts are something most women understand and empathize with, coupled with that crazy fear that comes with the thought of breast cancer and the choices we might have to make.


The drawings are graphic and emotive. This is an autobiography well worth reading.

Rainbows and Pirates and Rain, Oh My!

June 27, 2015

First of all, although this image was amazing enough for me to show it to the teens I was feeding…


The photos that had me in and out of tears all night were all those couple photos posted by my friends, same sex and different. It’s funny. I have absolutely no desire to be married, but hearing about their plans and their joy was wonderful. All my love to them…may they do it better than I did. I’m glad they now have a choice. Sometimes the world does stuff that makes sense.

Yesterday, I was determined to get shit done. No really. Drove to Home Depot and bought wood for the living room book shelves, so I can get the books off the floor and art on the walls and finish that shit from last year’s remodel. Now I just need boychild to drive them over to dad’s and cut them and then sand and stain and find some way to hang them, because I didn’t like anything in Home Depot. Or it was too expensive. I just want it fucking done.

I had an extra teenager for a Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-watching festival for quite a few hours, but I did not let that run me out of my living room, because I needed the light table. I asked permission to stay and it was granted. Mostly because I admitted that Johnny Depp was hot. Well. He is.

I had a request for a commission of the breast in a quilt I made last year, but it needed to be redrawn, so I made a run to Fed Ex to copy some stuff after I went to Home Depot. Then I redrew it, moving the top hand and getting rid of some of the chaos behind it. Then I traced it onto Wonder Under.

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I had some cats I had drawn to make as smaller quilts…but they are all curled up. I vetoed a couple others that were similar.

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The one on the bottom left will be more complicated (and expensive) than the other two.

Then I had the simpler version of the heart/hands I did for FFAC, a standing cat, and another owl from one of the bathtub drawings.

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So I think I will start with those and see how they do. Oh here. I found the new breast drawing…

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For those who don’t know where this came from, I had a series of mammograms regarding a shadow in one breast, so I had to go in multiple times over a yearlong period. It was kind of scary at one point when they called me at school to tell me about a followup appointment when my doctor hadn’t had time to check in with me, but it’s all good now. I just have dense breasts. So they make weird shadows. And whatever is in there, it’s been the same size and shape for a good long time, so we’re back to squishing once a year and watching it. Hallelujah. Alien boob.

Anyway, I also finished cutting out the Wonder Under for the next piece I’m working on and for the breast piece. And then I sorted the WU for the larger quilt…

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It only has about 560 pieces in it, and it’s not particularly large, so hopefully it will go quickly. By that time, I’d had enough of Depp and pirates, so I had moved into my office, where the iron and the fabric live. Plus then I got to watch more Star Trek and stop listening to squealing girls. Who are adults really…one is 18 and the other will be 18 in August. They asked permission to marry (jokingly) and I said no…they’re too young. I don’t care about the rest.

Then I got on the floor at about 11:30 last night (Pirates still going on!) and found the fleshtones I wanted to use for the two overlapping figures.

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Along with some brighter pinks for lips and nipples. I wanted to start picking fabrics last night, but once I got the first 100 pieces of Wonder Under laid out, it was 12:30. So I stopped. But I got a lot done yesterday, so I felt OK. Now I’m writing this and on hold with my car insurance company, which doesn’t realize I’m firing it. Whatever. All these things I need to do before I leave today for Los Angeles. Looking forward to the opening. But also a bit apprehensive. That part of town has some significant memories for me and I’m nervous to be going up there. Stupid that a place can do that to us, but our brain remembers things like landmarks and smells and certain phrases, and those things can set us off…and my brain has been a mess the last two days.

I finished reading this…

funny story

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini…it was good…about a high-school kid fighting depression. It was a bit simplistic in how he solves the issue, but I liked his explanation of tentacles and anchors. Based on Vizzini’s real-life experience on a psych floor in a hospital.

OK. One insurance company fired. Waiting on a callback from the other one. Then off to the Big City.

Omigod. Is that rain? It’s rain people. Rain. The world is a wonderful place.


May 24, 2015

How to clear the mind: read, write, draw, walk, canoe, drink some tea and some wine (not together, yuck), have some good food, watch some apes on TV, and don’t think about school at all. Just push it out and let it fester in the corner for two whole days. It will still be there tomorrow. Nothing will have changed between now and then.

I can’t tell you how much I needed a break, and because I’m not home, I don’t feel required to pick this up, put that away, run that errand, finish that task…I can’t do any of those things until I get home tomorrow, and then I won’t have enough time to finish all that anyway, so I’ll do what I have time for, and push the rest aside until I have more time. My life is such that the crazy expands to fill all my available time if I let it, and I was determined not to allow it for the last two days. I’ve been pretty successful. Well done, child.

I’m probably sunburnt. Oh well. I used sunscreen. We canoed today, not super far, because we’re both out of shape, but it was a good distance to remember how to steer (though some would argue I never remembered that). And the sun was out today, unlike yesterday, when temperatures were dropping to 44 degrees during the day, so it was a much better day to be on the water. 

We walked around a small part of the lake yesterday. I wanted to go on a real hike in the wilderness, but we couldn’t find the damn ranger station and I left my Adventure pass in my car, which is still at the shop, being torn apart. And then it kept getting colder and colder and later and later, so I settled for a few miles on lakeshore paths and roads. Oh well…we got exercise, and that was the important part. My foot was OK, although twingey, so I’ll probably have to test it with a real hike sometime in the near future.

We brought a pile of movies to watch, but the parental DVD player seems dysfunctional, so we picked something off real live TV…not ideal, but it works. I’ve worked on my quilt, cutting pieces out. I’ve drawn.  

  I’ve finished one book (Feed by Mira Grant, definitely worth reading…a much better zombie tale than most of them) and started another. I’ve read some blogs and had the news read to me (wtf Josh Duggar?). I’ve cooked. I’ve eaten. I’ve slept. I figured out that mom was in charge of purchasing the showerhead in her shower, but not the guest showers. Um…Dad? Did you really have a guy who installs bathrooms for a living take a miserable shower with that showerhead? You did, didn’t you. It’s interesting how much difference a good showerhead makes to my mood. I should remember that for future reference. Ten Things That Will Make You Happy: 1. A Damn Good Showerhead. 2…well, I’m still working on the other nine things. I’ll get back to you.

It’s all good. It’s amusing to me how many of my teacher friends got the hell out of San Diego this weekend. It’s cool to see all their posts and photos from all over.

And now I’m looking forward to Mexican food for dinner, reading more of my book, and who knows what else. I think I’ll actually make it through the rest of the school year…at least it’s looking more positive than it was Friday at 3:30 PM.

An Hour a Day

May 7, 2015

Things that are good right now. Right this second. The dog is sound asleep behind my chair and is not eating the girlchild’s underwear. I am only teaching Punnett squares for about three more days and then I am done done done with the stuff that is apparently so hard we can’t do it. I had an awesome book club meeting last night and a long talk with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I have another social meeting tonight. Grades are done. I think I have uploaded every stupid-ass document Cornell needs onto the financial aid system. The boychild is coming home in less than two weeks. It’s supposed to rain. There are leftovers in the fridge for my lunch today. Google Classroom finally updated so I can grade assignments from my iPad. I’m wearing jeans to work today (this after a long work dress code discussion at book club last night). My foot hurts but it’s not a broken bone. I already had an ankle brace in my stash. I still like Cheerios for breakfast after some 48 years of eating them. Two of my quilts are traveling with the People and Portraits exhibit, and now they will be at all four AQS Quilt Weeks in 2016.

Deep breath. See. That’s all ok.

I had book club last night. This is a group of smart geeky women, the two oldest besides me are a good 10 years younger than me, but they are accepting and funny and sarcastic and intelligent. Some of the best conversations I have some months are at these meetings, no matter what the book is (we panned the book…Mass Midnight by F. Paul Wilson…lousy dialogue, messed up the story, didn’t even make sense at one point, not pleased with how they dealt with anything, except that the vampires didn’t get all sexy or sparkly). I don’t make it to all of them, because of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but I do have a good time when I go. I had a long conversation afterwards with a friend there, and it got me home and dinnerfied late (thanks to the girlchild for making dinner), but I did manage to get off the couch and do art. I almost always manage to do that. I’m not a couch sitter really. I’m usually grading papers (did that yesterday too) or sewing or cutting stuff out or drawing if I’m on the couch. Girlchild’s new TV obsession is SVU, of all things. Kind of a mental shock for her to go from weeks of watching Friends (which almost drove me bonkers) to the Law and Order offshoots. I suggested she start with L&O and she just looked at me like I was crazy. She finished the second AP test yesterday, so she’s a little braindead.

So I traced…

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Only for about an hour. That’s the key. I think some people are like, well, I’m not going to get very much done, plus it’s late, and then they never get up. I regularly do about an hour a night, or try to anyway, and when I have more time (and energy, honestly), I do more. I can do almost 4 hours in a good night, but that’s rare, except on weekends and vacations. But an hour a day is 365 hours you didn’t spend on art before. An hour a day when you figure about 7 hours to trace all the Wonder Under for this quilt? That’s a week. That’s nothing. And I wasn’t always this good at it. I had to push myself to get here. I used to put it on my calendar, just like I did the blog writing. And then it became habit. And now, I have to be sick or out of town to not be making art, and even then, I’m probably drawing with the latter.

Which reminds me, driving to the book club venue last night, a drawing related to the Barton thing I showed you yesterday popped into my head. Like BING! And it’s still there, because I didn’t draw it last night. Aargh. I need a full day just of drawing I think.

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So 4 1/2 hours in, I’m 400 pieces in as well. Only a couple hundred pieces to go. I’m feeling better about this piece. Progress. It helps.

Keep doing the work. Keep getting up off the couch.

States of Terror…

May 2, 2015

I had someone ask me recently what I do when I’m not teaching or making art (and it’s obviously not sleeping), and there’s a wide variety of things I like to do: the movies, obviously hiking (on hiatus until I find out if this is a broken bone in my foot), art opening, reading, and sometimes (although it’s been a while) a book reading. Last Saturday, I went to this…

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to hear a friend of a friend read (because how else do you hear about these things?). I had never been to Digital Gym, although I’ve been invited to a ton of things there, so that was interesting. They have a nice outdoor space for these things, but it started to rain, so they moved us inside into the computer lab.

The reading was part of the release of this book…

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Volume 1 in a series of stories about monsters in every state (available on Amazon). Certain creatures seem to inhabit territories, and each state seems to have a list of those monsters that are most known there. The authors picked monsters and states and wrote, and the artists illustrated. The reading was a sampling of edited stories (for time), and was definitely worth the trip.

I tried to photograph each author reading, but missed the first one, and then they did some weird backlit scheme, which didn’t help my photos, but here they are…

I missed Jessica Hilt…my camera was deep in my bag, but here’s the art for her Frogman story titled Punctuated Equilibrium

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The art is by David Ferreira.

Here is Sunny Katz reading her scary Mystery Box

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About a dog that can sit on the ceiling before it eats you.

Ed Farragut reading When You’ve Seen Beyond about the Dover Demon…

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Hanna Tawater reading Wakiya, a surreal tale of snakes who could fly…

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Jim Ruland reading Flesh Air, the story of the Bunnyman…

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Julia Dixon’s story of a weeping mother looking for her lost children, La Llorona, She Weeps with You

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Ryan Bradford’s The Desert Climate…a story about a missing wife and maybe some aliens… 

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Rachel Lee Taylor’s Route 351, the story of Charlie No-Face…

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And finally, the man we came for, Alex Bosworth, whose story Old Foukey made everyone laugh out loud with his sarcastic tale of a balding monster with an enormous penis…

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 I took the obligatory weird leg photo…

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And saw this art in the book…by Emily Dumas…

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I’m totally giving that little guy a hug…

All in all, very enjoyable. I’m looking forward to reading all the stories and seeing future readings as the rest of the volumes come out…only 18 stories were included in this one, and they plan to do all 50 states.

Make Art

December 5, 2014

I got one picture for last night. Because I didn’t do much but cut little pieces out and write sci fi. This is how far I got by the end of the night…

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Top left is trash (kept until I figure out if I threw any tiny pieces in there by accident. I do it all the time, unfortunately.). Top right is what I’ve actually achieved (which yes, doesn’t look like shit at the moment; thank you for reminding me.). Bottom is what I still have left to do. Two pairs of scissors, the phone, wine, TV remote, and pajamas. Really, it was not a bad night, except it started with a soccer parent meeting (aargh. asshole coach. stupid people. grrr.) and I didn’t get to go to the gym and I was really really tired. I’m hiking tomorrow morning, so I’d really better put myself to bed early. If I’m smart. And we’ve already proved I’m not, at least when it comes to sleep.

I did cut more tonight at my stitching meeting. Nice conversation. Those things keep me sane. School? Not so much. I was supposed to enter some art shows this week, and only managed one. So little free time. So little time for anything. People wonder how I get anything done. I wonder too. I do crazy stuff like listen to lectures while I’m writing, write while I’m exercising, grade while I’m watching. I rarely do Just One Thing at a Time. Except for the art. The art is big enough and strong enough to fill up the whole mind, to make sure the bits that wander off into depressoid land don’t have a chance. They can’t get out. All the exits are blocked by artmaking activities. It’s all art.

Sometimes I wonder why I got bit so hard by the art bug. I have two kids who are creatively minded, one who draws/paints really well, but doesn’t get obsessed by it. I don’t remember being her age and making art. I know I did, but I don’t remember what it felt like. I know what it feels like now. I remember what it felt like when the kids were little and I didn’t have time. It felt like grinding your teeth. It felt like that migraine caused by the Santa Ana winds blowing dry and hot in the fall. It felt like fingernails on a chalkboard. It was just wrong. But I don’t remember when it got like that. I had this conversation with the boychild, who is leaning towards a major (I didn’t even ask…because it doesn’t matter), and I explained how I wasn’t allowed to just major in art when I went to college, that I had to have another major. That it was assumed that art would not sustain. And I guess it’s true that financially it does not sustain, but it is the One Thing that I have done most of my life consistently and purely and truly. It is the core of who I am. How I am. I could not stop, as I have seen some friends and acquaintances do, and just go to work and come home and watch TV and sleep in on Sundays and go to the park. I would rather be in a fluorescently lit room with bad wallpaper and containers of fabric: tracing, drawing, cutting, sewing. That is where I need to be. I’m scared of getting old and not having that. I’ve seen that. The old artists who aren’t well enough to draw or paint any more. Maybe they don’t even remember how. I don’t want to be like that. I can’t imagine being that empty.

So art. Yes. Fills.

I had this quote sitting around for a while: “Don’t go into art for fame or fortune. Do it because you cannot not do it. Being an artist is a combination of talent and obsession.” John Baldessari

And Neil Gaiman’s speech…

about Make Good Art. Love Gaiman. Do not love this book though…


Really. You should look at it…until it gives you a headache. Because it will. It’s the speech…but the design is torturous.

Anyway. Make art. Hopefully it will get good. (Make Art was the title of my original blog, started 10 years ago.)


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