How to Do the Holidays…

November 25, 2015

I’m eating cold toast at my brother’s dining room table right now, having been woken by light early enough…having listened to a teenager wake up very differently than my girlchild, then having two boys come down to play some Star Wars video game. The cold toast is because we blew a fuse, of course.

Kitten was not thrilled about my leaving…IMG_5139No, you don’t fit in the suitcase…barely anything fits in the suitcase, honestly.

My flight was uneventful, except for the old guy (my age, maybe a bit older) dancing in his seat next to me and offering to rub his companion’s feet or feed her peeled grapes while wearing a toga (say WHAT?)…I was greeted by a sweet dog and a goofball of a nephew…IMG_5152

The dog is Gracie and she loves me, of course. Apparently she also loves underwear. So she’s a real dog.

Yesterday we ran some errands and hung out with middle child and then went to pick up youngest at his hip environmentally friendly private school…lots of cool stuff going on there, but this was my takeaway as a science teacher…IMG_5155I could do this in my classroom I think…in fact, a rack on wheels with two sides would be kinda cool. Just an idea for next year’s grants…if I remember.

Then home, where I graded stuff until dinner time, with a brief view of oldest child, the only girl, who is now taller than I am, I think. Amusing. It’s been almost two years since I’ve seen these guys, I think, and that’s too long.

Indian food for dinner and conversations of people now dead or might as well be, plus childhood etc. My kids are together in Ithaca, where most people went home for the holidays…IMG_5161I couldn’t afford to fly them home for four days, and they’re home in three weeks anyways. I get occasional pictures from them as they move around…entertaining themselves. I haven’t heard from them today yet. Girlchild’s phone is probably dead.

Yes, I was grading here. I have to. I am so far behind, it’s not even funny. I have five assignments on Google Classroom and another major one I left at home, because it’s really not transportable. Ideally, I need to finish all of them this week (ha!). I finished two periods of one assignment last night. I’m about to start the third period (one was done at home), which won’t take long because many made the incredibly crappy choice of not actually turning the assignment in. Some shockers for them when grades come in.

I haven’t drawn yet, but yesterday, I was so tired…up at 4 AM is not fun. I fell asleep on the couch watching TV with my brother (now that’s funny). I’m sure I will draw today…my niece is an artist, which is very cool. The boys are goofy…apparently they know me as the aunt who makes vajayjay quilts. So I lectured on the difference between…well…you know.

Hope your Thanksgiving preparations are coming along (if that’s what you do). This is the first year in a long time where I basically have nothing to do but show up (and maybe help prep things I don’t usually cook). I have to behave as well…as well as I can. And there might be a quilt store today (because they have different fabric in Seattle? Yeah, I know…).

How to buy fabric for Kathy: walk into quilt store. Walk around. Pick 4 or 5 fabrics you like. YOU like, because Kathy is a fabric slut and will use everything, and she likes it when other people pick, because they see different stuff than she does, stuff she might never think to pick out. Get a half yard of each. Put a bow around them and hand them to Kathy. She gets happy. So easy.

Yet Another Unproductive Day…

November 23, 2015

in which I actually still got shit done.

I wish I could say that today was amazingly productive. It wasn’t. Well, I got stuff done, but not enough of it. It’s never enough. My bag is mostly packed. I think there’s a cat in it, but hopefully she’ll jump out before tomorrow morning. I might have enough warm clothes. I might not. I hear Seattle has stores. And my brother has extra clothes. I shipped a quilt out that needed to go to its new home. I went to the gym and the chiropractor, both good choices. I returned my library book. I transferred money to pay for college so it will be there when I get back and before the bills are due. I cut out a little Wonder Under…

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Not a lot. I’m almost done with the second sheet, and I think there are 2 1/2 more sheets. I think. I could check that. Right now. One moment.

I was wrong. There are only 1 1/2 more sheets. So I’ve done a little less than half. I so wanted to be done with this step by now and picking fabrics, but no. School kicks my butt. I did laundry. I ran the dishwasher. I photographed the trees on the property line between my neighbor and I…just in case. I am that paranoid.

Here’s that “dead” tree. See all those bunches at the ends of the branches? Know what those are? New green leaves…because Southern Californian trees never really know when it’s winter, because it was in the 90s last weekend.

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Poor confused beast. Does it need some trimming? Sure. It does. And this would even be the best time of year for it…although it might be a little chilly at night. That said, I still don’t have the money.

Looking back at the last few quilts, this new one should take about 80 hours total. I need to have it ready to iron together by the time Winter Break starts, so that’s about 20-25 hours of work…in basically three weeks. That’s not too bad. I think I can do that, even though it’s the holiday season. And there’s three weeks of school in the middle of that. No problem. As long as I don’t get sick and nothing else breaks, I will be fine. Plus I have to finish clearing out the boychild’s room so he can actually sleep in there. And draw the next quilt, because the timeline on it is pretty short. I’m actually hoping to draw that sometime in the next four days. It could happen. And I have to make a baby quilt…preferably before the baby comes. Although that’s always a crapshoot. My goal is to do that over break. Too. Yeah. I know. Too much.

But really, I need to go to bed right now, because I’m supposed to be up really early. Ugh. The part of travel I don’t like…the traveling part. But hopefully the rest will go fine…and I’ll have some unproductive days that are full of family stuff and food and freezing cold weather. Or reading books. And drawing. That would be OK.


November 22, 2015

So I ran into drunk Larry, my soon-to-be ex-neighbor, in the grocery store with some woman (girlfriend? I don’t know.). He saw me and made a beeline straight at me. “I was meanin’ to email you about your big dead gray tree.” Big dead gray tree? I don’t have a big dead gray tree. “The one near the road. It’s dead and it’s blocking the view.” It’s not dead, you idiot. It’s deciduous. I don’t use that word because I’m fairly sure he won’t understand it. It’s lost its leaves. For winter. “Well, we’re trying to sell the house and it’s blocking the view and I was wondering if you could talk to your dad about trimming it.” Because my dad trims trees. No, my dad hires scary big Gypsy guys to trim trees. I look at him and tell him I can’t afford to trim the tree; I have two kids in college. “TWO? Do you want 20 bucks?” You cannot make up this conversation. He actually reaches into his pocket like he’s gonna slap a bill on me. I said I needed a lot more than 20, but that trimming trees is not in my future. At that point, I had no food in my grocery cart. Drunk Larry doesn’t know that I am about to buy an 18-pound turkey for $8.74. It’s true. I named her Wilhelmina. He said something about going in on it with like your dad (the tree, not Wilhelmina). I say my dad is out of town, but I’ll see him Tuesday. He says how they need to sell the house to pay for his mom’s Alzheimer care in a home that’s costing $6K a month. OK. Whatever. His mom was always nice to me. I say I’ll talk to my dad Tuesday but we’re gone all this week.

Which means he will probably try to cut down my dead tree on Thanksgiving, so then I can sue him for the house, take it over, flip it for twice as much as it’s on the market now, and pay for the rest of college.

Oh wait, that only happens in the movies. The rest of it is true though. Even Wilhelmina. She’s in the freezer. The girlchild says I don’t need 18 pounds, and she’s probably right, but you can’t beat the price, and I can freeze the leftovers. I just wanted real turkey sandwiches next week. The girlchild’s roomie says I should buy Oscar Meyer turkey from the deli section, but that shit’s disgusting.

Back to grading and trying not to write haikus to my students…

Follow instructions

If you want to get an A

Otherwise you fail

Yeah. So. Too late.

I drew this last night while sort of accidentally watching Mockingjay Part 1

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It turned out entertaining enough…the drawing AND the movie. This is my 9×12″ sketchbook, the one I carry in my bag onto the plane. I bought a slightly larger one, 11×14″, for the trip to Seattle, because it fits into the smaller luggage I’m taking, borrowing from my parents because I had to throw mine out…old and finally unfixable. I should be able to put more detail into drawings on that size, but it will have to go in the checked luggage. Honestly, it’s a relatively short flight…I might not even have time to do all the things I have planned! Sad but true.

With that said, I think I have to go back to grading unfortunately. There’s way too much of it and I blew off a lot yesterday. I did go to school and finish the cell models and larger infographics today. Then I brought all the stories home and that’s when that haiku popped into my head. I think I might do it in a fancy font and blow it up and laminate its ass, and put it up in the classroom. Damn skippy.

Vacation Rant…

November 21, 2015

Late today. Ya know why? Cuz it’s vacation. That’s why. Hallelujah, because even though I still will have to work almost every day over break, at least I can do it in my pajamas on my couch (OK, well, not every day, because I’m going to my brother’s house and I don’t know where I will be grading there. I just know I will be grading.). I think every goddamned idiot and politician (oh wait, those might be an intersecting group) who thinks teachers are overpaid, money-grubbing child-haters should come teach in my class the week before a holiday. By themselves. On the same bathroom schedule we get. And then go home and grade all the shit we grade. Yeah. That. Fuckers. I think half my team (or more) hit borderline exhaustion by the end of day Wednesday. And we got up and taught for two more days.

I worked corporate. This does not fucking compare. At all. My job is physically, mentally, emotionally, and intellectually exhausting. I haven’t been a teacher all my life. I have many years of experience outside of education. I’ve worked in the corporate world as support staff AND as a professional, and I’ve also been self-employed. This job kicks your butt.

So I deserve this week AWAY from the classroom. Don’t kid yourself that I won’t still be working. I will. Some manage to not work all break, and I know that’s what I need, but I can’t afford it right now. I’m aiming for that for Winter Break. But that means busting my butt a little right now.

Moving on. I got up this morning when I wanted to. Well, after Kitten woke me up to inform me of the imminent rabbit invasion. I calmed her down, explaining that a single rabbit was not going to take down our kingdom. And then went back to sleep, trying to make up a few of the missing 2 hours a night from the last three months of teaching (that’s 140 hours short right now…gonna take me a while to catch up).

I finished tracing Wonder Under on Bathtub 5 this morning…

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As you can see, it’s all piled up, ready to be cut out, except for the cat butt on the sheets. If you have cats, you know they must inhabit all of your projects. I eventually got her off of them, but she swiped her claws at me, so I gave up on trying to cover the light table again. Eventually she’ll go take a nap and I can clean up after her.

Both cats desperately need more attention apparently than I am giving them…

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Both of them stalking me. It’s too bad they don’t really like each other. They used to be OK, but not after Babygirl. Oh well.

As you can see, it is a beautiful day in sunny Southern California. It’s supposed to hit 90 degrees. So I’m heading for Seattle and snow, and kind of panicking about clothes and shoes, but whatever. I’ll take a big sweatshirt and complain a lot to my sister-in-law, and she’ll give me shit for having thin blood. Damn straight. I live in So Cal for a reason.

So artwise, this week might be a bit of a wash. I need to go to school tomorrow to finish grading all the cell models that were turned in. I’m hoping to finish cutting out all the Wonder Under by tomorrow night. Then last night, while trying to fall asleep, I half-dreamed moving all the drawers around in my office so that the colors I use more would be more accessible. Luckily, I recently replaced all of them, so it would be pretty easy to just pull drawers and move them. But I’m not progressing quickly on the rest of the clean up. Because I’m never bloody home! Or I’m grading. Or I’m exhausted. So I didn’t leave much time around the house this week to get shit done. Oh well. I’m looking forward to hanging with my lovely family! OK, my crazy family. So I’ll probably get some drawing in up there. Although, my big sketchbook doesn’t fit in my luggage. I’m thinking of a trip to Michael’s to get a medium-sized one. I have a lot that are 9×12″ and the one I draw most of my quilts in is 14×17″. So something a little bigger. I think. And smaller than the big one. If I can find a coupon. Found one. Love the internet. Really, I do. I also ordered a small keyboard for my iPad so I can type up some stuff on the plane. Can’t use the work computer for that. I may have a bit too much tech. It’s possible. But it makes some things so much easier and faster. Unfortunately, there is no tech at the moment that can help me get the studio straightened up. It’s just gotta be me.

I have to say one thing about the refugee situation. I honestly think many Americans have lost their humanity, that they are so backwater in their NIMBY attitude, in their fear of everything government, the military, and politics have brought down on us, that they cannot even see the fear and hardship in the eyes of the adults that are coming over from Syria or wherever, but if they can look in the eyes of these refugee children and still be assholes, then I don’t want to live in the same country as they do. My America is not those people. I hate what we project to the rest of the world sometimes, and this is one of those times. These are the kids I teach. You hear their stories, you see how small some of them are from not enough good food, and you know the shit they survived, and for anyone to think these people are terrorists…hell, I live in East County San Diego…we have some big fat white terrorists brewing right here, some true crazies. We grow our own. And they call themselves Christian. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush say they think we should only take the Christian refugees. What the fuck? I don’t care what your religion is…don’t use it as an excuse to turn away people who are starving, terrified, and scared to death. We take them in, we take care of them, we teach them, we help them. That’s what America is supposed to be about…hell, that’s what being human is supposed to be about. If you don’t believe that, then there is something seriously wrong with you. I’d like to think the students I have hear me talking about acceptance, about not hurting each other, about the biology of ALL humans, and they will grow up with that in their heads and hearts, not the hate rhetoric that I hear every day on the news. My Muslim students don’t hate like some of the Christians I’ve heard from do. They just want to be safe and warm and be able to learn without bombs falling on their schools.

That’s my rant. I’ve spent too many days listening to this shit and shaking my head at the crazy. You don’t like it? Don’t read my blog. Easy.

OK. Now I can be on vacation.

Let’s Think Good Thoughts…

November 20, 2015

Hallelujah. The righteous day has arrived. The day before a week off, not really a vacation because there are 10 tons of stuff to be graded, but at least I don’t have to get up early and go to school and manage crazy. Well. Wait a minute. I’m going to my brother’s house and he has three kids and yeah. I’m still gonna have to do all that except go to school. I did ask if I could go to school with the middle schooler. And then thought better of it. I’d just be depressed after that (private school…they probably have money for stuff).

I’m still feeling like I got run over recently, but I’m hoping a few decent nights’ sleep will help. I can’t be sick right now. That’s not fair.

I gave a test yesterday. Here’s how I know I’ve mellowed out as a teacher: I sat there and watched a girl cheat off another kid. She kept eyeing his paper and hers, and I sat there and watched instead of going over there and doing something about it, and then texted my upstairs duo, because I know there are two different versions of the test and she was sitting next to someone with the other version. Yup. I do that shit. Sure enough, she has all the same answers he does, which means every single one of hers was wrong. I’m boggled. And then I was grading these stories I had them write, and I get to this one kid and I’m reading and thinking “He didn’t even write a story; this is just telling me the process of replication.” and I realize there’s no way in hell this kid wrote anything about 5′ and 3′ in replication, because I don’t even teach that. So I pick one of the more complicated sentences in there and I Google it. Pops right up. The pros and cons of technology.

I’m just amazed by how stupid the kids must think we are. Which is why they were telling the cheating story upstairs so that my next two periods coming in already knew it. What’s funny about that is I caught two more kids doing it, same deal. One, I’m thinking, hell, why would you cheat off of HIM? He doesn’t do any work…he’s gonna fail. And the other one, hey good choice kid, she’ll probably get an A, BUT SHE HAS A DIFFERENT TEST THAN YOU, YOU DINGBAT. Were you not listening? Sigh.

At least I have a sense of humor, right?

I had quilt class (which was really just me and Susan bitching about crazy kids and parents and administrators and crap about schools) and finished this one…

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Heart in Hands 2, 11” w x 14 ½” h, $215

It has more pieces than the other one (fingers and all). So that’s all the small ones done. I’ve sold a few and may just put the others on Etsy to see if that moves the rest of them.

I cut some pieces out at quilt class and then came home and moved fabric around, trying to get the boychild’s room cleared and the studio back in working order still, especially since I need to be picking out fabric for the new quilt fairly soon…although probably not before I leave for my brother’s house. That was the plan anyway. Oh well. I try. I don’t always succeed.

I didn’t cut out a lot yet…not even one full sheet (a yard or so of Wonder Under)…

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I have two sheets with empty spaces where I’m still tracing smaller pieces, but I had to get a fourth one out for the aorta…

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It went across the entire torso, so I didn’t have room for it on the others. I have one arm, the head, and the torso left to trace. I wanted to be done last night, but was too tired to finish up. I have about 180 pieces left to trace. Maybe tonight? Probably not tonight. Maybe tomorrow morning. Ugh. No, I need to go to the gym tomorrow morning. We’ll see.

I wish I could spend my whole vacation on art and relaxing and drawing and hanging out, but grading will be a significant part of it. My fault as always, but it is the fact of this job that grading is never done.

OK, let’s think good thoughts about the achy headachey spacey thing I’m feeling, that it’s just exhaustion and not illness. And good thoughts about finishing the tracing soon and maybe finding time to draw in the next week, just because drawing is fun and nice and I like it.

Let’s just think good thoughts because vacation is 7 hours and 42 minutes away.

Books Are Heavy

November 18, 2015

There are three more days of school until I get a week off, a week my brain and sleep centers desperately need (who am I kidding? I’m not going to get sleep next week). Yesterday about 75 kids turned in cell projects, many obviously done the night before, despite 18 days of reminders. Some probably done by an adult instead of a kid, but if they think this project is going to make up for failing the test on Thursday or turning in the giant-ass unit due Friday? Well they’re on crack, aren’t they? What’s really amusing is the kids who just realized yesterday that they hadn’t done the project. Begging, pleading, whining, trying to sneak things in. I’ll see more of that today. The kid who stayed up until almost 1 AM and then turned it in via email? Because it’s not time-stamped? I’m amused. It’s good that I’m amused, because that’s a much better response than supremely annoyed, which might be the next option.

I finished this one last night…

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Heart in Hands 1, 13 1/2″ w 12 1/2″ h, $165.

My dad says these are more expensive than the birds, but I went back and looked. Cat 6 is because it’s complicated and has lots of pieces, and that takes more time, but the cats are in the same range as the birds were. There was one last year that was cheaper because it was tiny and hardly had any pieces. Anyway. It is what it is. If I can’t sell them here, I may set up my Etsy account more than it’s already set up. I hate doing that though, because then I have to adjust prices again. Whatever.

Only one left.

I’m still tracing for the new quilt. I have about 440 pieces traced in about 3 1/2 hours, so I’m being uber-efficient.

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Tracing fast anyway. It’s freezing up against the window at night. I could have drapes, which would make it warmer, but I like the big openness of windows with no drapes, so I just put a jacket on sometimes. I got all the way through PBS’s Home Fires…a good story. I also watched Indian Summers, same deal, although a bit too much over the top sometimes. Everyone is so full of angst. So now I move on to spies and mutants I guess. Or vampires. Whatever comes up next on Netflix or Tivo.

I’ve stalled on getting everything back in the studio. I got some more drawers from Container Store because my old ones are breaking. So I need to transfer all that stuff, but even though I measured pretty carefully, I had to adjust to make it all fit. One big drawer of browns, one of oranges, and one of reds. Hopefully I can pull some of the reds and oranges that are living in random bins too.

And then while I was doing that, the shelf with all the books on it fell…

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Apparently books are heavy. Who knew?

Scared the crap out of me. So I need to figure that out. I can hear Dad’s voice saying “it was too heavy.” But damnit, it’s a BOOK shelf. If it can’t hold BOOKS, then it sucks. I actually know what the problem is with this bookshelf…it had termites in it years ago and sometimes the holes just fail. So yeah. Will have to decide how to handle that. Put all the books on the bottom probably. Or space them out more.

OK, so Google is at my school today with Google Expeditions. Hopefully it will go smoothly…we have to transition about 70 kids a period between two classrooms and keep them on task. Should be interesting. But it does mean I need to get out of here early. I didn’t grade after school at all yesterday. The damn Google Classroom app is crashing like a teenaged driver. I’m done. Until Google figures it out. Probably not the same Google people who are showing up today, unfortunately.

Then finish the last little quilt tonight and ship another one off that sold and keep tracing Wonder Under in the cold. It’s a plan.

Sleep. Apparently for the Weak…

November 17, 2015

I stay up too late. You might have noticed. Sometimes it’s because I’m trying to finish something. Or because I’m not tired. Or because I just don’t feel like going to sleep. I’m really mature that way. I was trying to finish stuff last night. I gave up on grading because the Google Classroom app was crashing with every single doc I reviewed and it was driving me bonkers. I sent them feedback (I’m sure they’re tired of me). It showed a log of all the crashes though, so I felt pretty damn justified. They’ll probably come back and tell me the iPad mini is too old and I need a new one. Sigh. Nope. Not yet.

I did finish another cat last night…Cat 7

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She’s 12″ square, just like her brother? Sister? Same price, $175.

So that’s the cats done…on to the hearts in hands. She’s the reason I stayed up so late. I thought it wouldn’t take long to do a small binding and sleeve, but it takes longer than I think most times. Oh well. Sleep…it’s for the weak, right? I don’t really believe that. I really wasn’t tired either though.

Before I did that though, I started tracing the Wonder Under for the next Bathtub quilt. This is number 5. Yes, I skipped 1, 3, and 4. Whatever.

I figured it would take about 8 hours to trace this, but I was pretty damn efficient last night.

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I did 225 pieces in an hour and 45 minutes. That means hopefully it will take less time, but we’ll have to see.

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The owl that I made as a small quilt is in this piece, so I had to trace him all over again. Above is what 225 pieces traced looks like. Not much, eh? Well, yes, and that’s because so many of them are bloody tiny, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue.

I have about 100 cell models and projects showing up today, if you don’t count all the crazy that went on in my school email last night. Now I know who stayed up all night because they left it to the last minute. I guess 18 days isn’t enough warning for this group. So I have to be there a bit early so I can open up the door and let all the kids with projects in. Wanna guess how many don’t put their names on them? And then how many didn’t even read instructions? Yeah. Sigh. Some days I wonder why I torture myself so.


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