Collected Threads

April 18, 2014

Sometimes I feel like I need to gather up all the bits of my brain at night so that I can try to function again (more) normally the next day. This post was originally called Collected Vomit, but I changed to Threads, because I think I’ve got a better hold on everything now than I did when I started writing this hours ago. I may feel differently in another few hours, but for now, let’s assume I have hold of all the threads, even though it may be a tenuous hold.

I’m obviously dealing with some form of exhaustion or jet lag still. My body doesn’t know when to be tired or when to be hungry. I’m trying to get it on a normal Pacific-Coast schedule. That said, my counselor says I sound exhausted and maybe I am. It’s hard to tell some days. I’m tired of trying to manage people and decisions. Being tired also makes it harder to deal with emotional crap, and there’s plenty of that around at the moment. End of Spring Break, college decisions, money issues, car dying, teenagers (that’s emotional crap all over the place right there).

The reason I was going to call it Vomit over Threads really came down to the fact that since finally getting home (only 12 hours late), I had cleaned up at least 4 instances of vomit (lovely things, cats). I killed one spider. Kitten killed another one, for sport, apparently, based on my watching her. I took one nap. I finished one book. I made it to the gym and to my last-ever quilt class at The Country Loft, where I’ve been taking quilt classes (or just showing up, because I don’t really need a class any more) for around 24 years. Their focus is changing, so we are not stopping our meetings…just changing the location to someone’s house…it’s change. Things change. It does feel like the end of something, though. A couple of these women, I’ve had them in my class for all 24 of those years. Yes, I was a baby when I started quilting.

I had hoped to have all the pieces of Wonder Under on the big quilt cut out before I left on the trip, but it didn’t happen. I did manage to get them all cut out at my meeting last night, though.

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Then I came home and retraced all the ones where the web and fusible had wandered apart. Actually, that’s not all of them. I know that now. There are about 20 more of them. Oh well.

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Then I cut those out as well…it took just over 12 hours to cut out all those pieces, some of them twice.

Then I had to find enough bins to sort the pieces out into 100s. That was more difficult; I’m not sure why. I think I’ve filled up more bins or something. Not sure. Technically, you need 18 bins to sort over 1700 pieces, but in the end, I only needed 17, because all the pieces with numbers in the 1700s were the same color as pieces in the 1600s (that damn octopus), so they were all cut out as one piece, to be cut apart when I iron them down because they are that damn tiny.

I lay the bins out on my light box (although I had to add another one here because I had forgotten the zero bin, for pieces 0-99. I always forget that bin.

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Then I had to sort them. I have to admit that this picture was taken last night when I decided I was too damn tired to keep standing (always a good indicator of bedtime), and since I had been awake 24 hours straight (minus a 20-minute nap) at that point, it seemed reasonable to go to bed.

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I finished the sorting tonight. It took about an hour and a half total to sort all the pieces into their respective bins. In the picture above, the bin on top at the back is the added 0-99 bin, and the big white one in front is all the pieces that still needed sorting when I gave up last night.

As I was thinking this morning about (1) what I wanted to get done and (2) what I needed to get done today (two conflicting lists, as always), I realized I did not have background fabric for this quilt. I also felt (1) too busy and (2) too tired to make a rational decision about that today. But if I waited until tomorrow, there would be a hike, and I’m not going to be LESS tired after that, and I have two other events I’m supposed to go to in the evening (knock on wood that I’ll be awake for those). So Saturday shopping is out. Then Sunday? I don’t want to wait that long, because if the events tomorrow night aren’t engaging enough (for me, not for normal people…they’re social events, and you know how badly I function at those…it’s nobody else’s fault that I won’t be engaged there), I would like to come home and start ironing fabrics. So not Sunday.

So, at that point it was late enough on Friday that I was scheduling things before and after counseling (scar cream for girlchild, Costco because when else will I get there)…I basically realized I had to leave in about 20 minutes to go buy fabric, which I did…choosing these two…

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No, I couldn’t decide. It’s OK…the other one will get used elsewhere or on the back. And they really don’t look like that. My camera doesn’t like the deep rich dark blues at all. They’re not even that different in real light. It’s a good thing I decided to go today, because the shop is closed Sunday (duh, Easter, says the pagan) and closes early tomorrow, and I wouldn’t have been able to get there at all after the hike. So fate, thank you for forcing me to be efficient today.

And because I like fabric, I also got these.

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Really, I try to stay out of the fabric stores for this reason. It’s been a while since I was there…like January. That’s not so bad, right? Has it been since January? I don’t remember. No, I got the background for the Mammogram quilt; I just don’t remember when. The staff was very impressed by the speediness of my shopping (hey, I had a timer on myself, and I still needed gas for the car, because it had been on empty for about 25 miles). And yes, that bottom fabric on the right? It does look like sperm. That’s why I got it.

Anyway, those are all washed and ready to go, and the pieces are all sorted and ready to go, and one of the to-do tasks for break, which was to clean up my office? Yeah. Not so much. Haven’t had the time or inclination.

Many times, when I sit down to work at the computer, there is a black cat behind me on the chair, but sometimes, if she’s in a mood, this is where she is.

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Notoriously annoying cat. Or she stands off to the right, but leaves her tail in a horizontal line right through the middle of the monitor. I bop her tail out of the way, she bops my hand and meows, moving her tail back in my view. Really, it’s easier to share the chair with her.

I already have over 39 hours in this quilt and I haven’t done anything with fabric except pick out the background. Anyway. Moving on to the next step, while trying to get ready for school starting again, while trying to figure out what to do about a car that basically isn’t worth fixing, and dealing with a bunch of college stuff. Everything’s gonna be fine.

Which reminds me, the quilt I sent up to San Francisco area had to be washed to try to get rid of cat dander. I’m hoping I was successful, but there will be only one way to know for sure. I washed it at my parents’ house, because they’ve never had a cat there…I was fairly sure it wouldn’t run, just based on the fabrics in it, but you never know for sure, so I was a little freaked out…but I know how to deal with running fabrics. So I put a little Ivory soap in water that was a little bit lukewarm, but not much. I agitated it a little by hand, and what was interesting is that the quilt was actually dirty. It has hung in about 8 or 9 exhibits, so that’s not surprising I guess. I don’t usually wash my quilts, though.

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Then I found all the light-colored towels I could and rolled the quilt up in them one at a time and squeezed the water out (remember doing that with your sweaters that needed hand-washing? Same deal).

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Once I’d done that about three or four times, I laid it out to dry on my mom’s studio floor with plastic trash bags and towels underneath. It took about two days to dry there, and then I rolled it up there for pickup, so it never went back in my car or my house. I’m hoping that did the trick.

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Anyway, it’s gone now.

I’ll write about the trip later, when I have time to deal with the photos. We do have a final decision though…he is going to Cornell in Ithaca, New York. It’s a long way, but I think he’ll enjoy it.

I’ve got two books I read too, but I’m too tired to deal with them right now. I have to get up early for a hike, so I’m going to succumb to my East-Coast-timed exhaustion now and go to bed. Hopefully I’ll wake up with a better mood than today’s, though…today has been full of tears (again, the counselor blames the tired…and the stress, which we talked about extensively and hopefully have plans for each bit of it, much as I can do that). I could do without that tomorrow.

In the end, I’m not sure how many threads I collected in this post. Not as many as I’d hoped. Oh well. If they’re collected, hopefully I can’t lose them, and they’ll show up later in a different post…or they really weren’t important enough to collect.

Where Am I, Part 2

April 16, 2014

I know where I should be in about 4 hours; unfortunately, Delta has once again messed up my flight plans, so I am stuck in a hotel in Syracuse, New York, ready to fly out at some ungodly hour in the morning. Last time this happened, I was headed to Quilt National in Ohio, and I missed the opening. I was really unhappy and stressed when that happened. I had to get a sub for my class and I was just messed up by the whole experience.

This time? Eh. It might help that it’s Spring Break, or it might be the influence of meditation or the distance depression gives me. I don’t really care. We got to the hotel and I went down to the gym and exercised for an hour. I drew for a while…


This is actually a really confusing drawing…there’s a metal tube and someone is zooming through it. It got a little crowded in the end. Too many overlaps. Might do it again on a larger piece of paper. It was (strangely) inspired by the first part of Angels and Demons (the movie, not the book), which was vaguely entertaining me after dinner in the hotel room.

Things the boychild has learned from this delay that his mom already knew: hairdryers are useful for drying damp shoes and clothing, although my Uggs are still wet from Tuesday (it’s OK, I brought my flipflops…oh, and hiking boots); you should always carry extra pairs of underwear and socks, and a shirt if you can; hotel staff have bandaids and it’s OK to ask for one; and most importantly, the line your mom picks will always be the longest one, so get in a different one (seriously, I’ve always had this issue).

Our flight leaves early, so I need to go to bed soon, although I have a hard time getting myself to sleep, even though I’m not on West or East coast time. I have no idea what time zone I’m existing in at the moment. Kathy Zone.

Six hours later! Yup, I’m awake and in an airport. We don’t have seats, but we’re checked in…somehow, we get in to San Diego before lunchtime (probably because it’s early enough that I would just be going to bed if I were home). One of my students wants to know her grade…sweetie, you turned everything in late! Plus I can’t input grades from here. Work raises its ugly head. No! I have 4 more days! Holy crap, where did Spring Break go? Apparently it wandered off…with my brain. Need to put a leash on that thing.

I’m missing life drawing this morning. That sucks. I will have to persuade Calli (the Golden Retriever) to do some poses for me (asleep, asleep on her back, asleep in a ball…you get the gist).

So wish me luck…hopefully the next post will be from the comfort of my own home, where the cats have been ignored by the girlchild for days.

Where Am I?

April 15, 2014

Such a philosophical question. I am significantly damp, somewhat peckish, with blood sugar definitely dropping. I forgot an umbrella, I left all my snack food in the motel (brain not functioning), and I’ve been up since 3:30 AM Pacific time.

Where am I? Ithaca, New York, home of Cornell University, where the boychild will probably be spending the next 4 years of his life.

It’s a little mind-boggling and even sad to be here. I’m excited to send him here, to have him be moving on to being a college student…but with all the upheaval of the last year, it’s also really hard to be here.

Plus it’s pouring rain and getting colder, with snow expected this afternoon. In 5 minutes, I have to put all my wet outerwear back on and venture out to meet him at some info session, but right now, I am (shockingly) sitting in a nice comfy chair and drinking tea, texting the girlchild (who is not even up yet) about what color shirt she wants.

A few hours later…we did the info session and food and shopping for family, but by then it was hailing and windy and significantly chilly. On the one hand, worst day ever to visit this week, but he now has a better idea of what clothing he’ll need to live here. And he still likes it! Me, I’m happy to be living in Southern California. I spent a year living in Britain and constantly feeling damp and having my glasses fog up.

In San Diego, everything is green, that lime leafy green, right now. In a month or so, it will start to turn brown. Here in New York, everything is brown and dead-looking right now, with the exception of a few trees setting out buds. Spring isn’t quite here.

I’ve been reading a lot. It’s hard to stitch on the plane if you don’t know the people around you. They want to talk, or it just takes up too much room. It’s easier to read with headphones on so you don’t have to engage. Same with drawing…I did draw on the plane, but only when I got to sit with the boychild. Drawing is even more personal. I really don’t want to discuss it with strangers. But, yes, then I post it on the web…seemingly an incongruent act…but you are all out in the ether, not sitting next to me for four hours. No one can disapprove of reading, right? It’s an educated thing to do. We want our kids to do more of it…it helps us deal with the world, increases vocabulary, makes you more empathetic, protects against Alzheimer’s…hell, it’s unhealthy NOT to read.

I actually believe many of those things apply to drawing as well…it’s just harder to draw for many people…although no one doubts their drawing ability when they’re young. We haven’t mastered reading and we draw like little crayon ninjas, taking over the visual world with our interpretations. I have students who don’t like to read, who fight it, won’t look for key words, won’t practice. Sometimes it’s a language issue, sometimes it’s parents not making an effort to read TO their kids, to read IN FRONT of their kids (something besides Facebook status posts, folks…because that’s not reading unless you click through and read news stories and blogposts…and even then, your commitment was for a thousand words instead of pages).

I never had to make my kids read. But they saw both parents reading all the time and we read to them every day.

I wonder, though, what happens with the drawing? I wonder what kind of world this would be if we made drawing or visual expression (dance?) or even music as important and crucial, at home and at school, as we do reading? What kind of world would it be then?


Certainly I would be able to draw on the plane then.

You Turn Arts Presents Seed

April 14, 2014

I always wanted to be a dancer, just like I always wanted to be an author of fiction. The first one is kind of out of my reach, mostly because I’m an absolute klutz…don’t get me wrong, I can dance in the hallways like anybody’s mom, but I’m not in charge of enough of my muscle groups to follow instructions. Even aerobics classes are supremely challenging. I learned this fairly early on, but still love to watch others dance, especially modern dance…there’s a certain fluidity of bodily motion that speaks to how and what I draw. I’ve also done some performance art over the years, and I think that modern dance and performance art are pretty closely related in terms of the performance itself, if not the practice leading up to it.

In my reaching out for a new life (or ways to fill up the old life), I have some groups I’m in that post events outside my normal realm of existence. I’ve tried to find some good art-event groups (fail) and some moviegoing groups (less of a fail, but a timing issue), but one of the geeky women groups I’m in posted a modern dance event recently on a day when I had no other event planned (ie, there was no hike I could go on), and it was reasonably priced, so I signed up. It helped that I knew the organizer from book club, so I knew she was friendly.

The event, Seed, was put on by YouTurnArts, who “aims to create opportunities for performing and visual artists to produce new works in San Diego. The goal is to unify the artistic community, producing artists of all genres.” Not a bad goal. I was more inclined to go because of the addition of the other visual/performing arts, making this more of an event than just a dance performance.

Oh yeah, and I want to be a musician too…preferably an acoustic guitar player and singer. Tried that. Couldn’t deal with the short fingernails and the callouses. So instead, I support the arts by buying good music. The event featured Yael and Vlady playing and singing delightfully throughout the evening.

They’re local (to San Diego). Enjoy them. Here’s her website (her being Yael, Vlady being him).

There was performance art during the break, put on by Hill Young with Scarlet Astrid, called Elemental Exchange. I actually took photos of this (I felt like I couldn’t photograph the dance performances…although there were some official-looking photographers there). This was the intriguing setup prior to the performance…

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with these hanging above…

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The two performers wore all white (and yes, I thought of Dharma, for those fabric-dyers out there)…they had living material (flowers?) that had been frozen in bowls and then slabs of ice that they broke up and put on the paper.

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They spilled the dye (ink?) and rubbed the ice over the papers…

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And then opened the cones to release salt (at least, I assumed it was salt)…

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There was lots of spillage going on. It looked quite fun.

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Feet were involved…

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And it got a little close in there for a moment…definitely some people had both dye and salt in their hair…Apr 7 14 011 small

The result, well, my photos sucked, but pretty paper with dye all over it, kinda what it looks like when I dye fabric (except my clothes stay marginally cleaner…not so my other body parts, unfortunately). It was interesting to watch…but if you’re going to wear white clothes around dye, then the clothing should be more dyed by the end than it was.

As far as the dance performances were concerned, I really enjoyed the combination of moving bodies and sound. The Figs of Plath was performed by Anne Gehman and Maria Juan, inspired by Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. To quote from the artists, “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story…I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose.” I did not read the artists’ statements before I watched the performances, I must admit, but was able to gather the purpose from the dance itself. The two dancers often mirrored each other’s actions, but one was definitely more about gathering as many figs as she could, while the other tempted and took.

The second performance was by Erica Buechner and involved bubble wrap, so the sound was a huge element of the piece. The performance was called Between my fist and my Pollyanna. Buechner at first verbalized each movement in terms of how her bones and muscles would move, a scientific explanation of dance, and then started to move over and avoid the bubble wrap, but then kept falling and standing on it, making great gunshot noises, ending up trapped by the long strips of bubble wrap twisted around her legs. She writes about her piece, “It explores spiral from an internal, physical level and how it gains momentum, eventually spiraling out of control, into the environment around oneself. It is a physically and emotionally demanding piece, that is pushing my process of creating work. Oh, and there is bubble wrap involved.”

The last performance was the third-best time is now, by Katie Griffin with Virginia Broyles and Morgan True. Griffin describes this piece as “Uncomfortably, comfortable. Planted and Unsettled. Alone with self, this is my story, desperately needing to let go, to grow, to move on, to hold on.” The trio played off each other with a wide variety of music and movements that clearly showed the need to move on, to let go.

Nut and Bean was there with hummus and nut butters, all to die for…they had samples (I ran out of cash); unfortunately (for me), it’s really only available in the San Francisco area. Yvonne Portra had her photography there, and Often Wander was selling jewelry and candles. There is an official review of the dance performances here, by Janice Steinberg. I say it’s official because she reviews dance and hey! I don’t. But I did enjoy the experience and will keep my eyes open for other affordable performances, since cost is one of my issues.

Holy Imbalance, Batman

April 13, 2014

Batman seems to be featured in my blog entirely too much, considering I’ve never met the man…bat. I don’t think I’m channeling Robin, but who knows. I always thought he was kind of an immature twit. I’m on a teeter-totter of imbalance at the moment. Run from one side and it flips up to try to bounce you off the other side; run back to stabilize it, and it rushes up to the other side. Can’t seem to straddle the middle and keep it all at bay, keep the sides even. It’s one or the other and all about unseating…well…me.

The doctor was happy with my numbers. She has pulled me permanently off one of my diabetes meds, after many years of being on it. This is good. This is success. She was definitely more excited than I was, because she also said I might see more of the low blood sugars, precisely because I am more in control. Hmn. This is not control. It seems like luck. She also talked about hormone imbalances, which honestly may have been the majority of my mood issue over the last two or more years…but it’s not so much the estrogen, that wacky hormone of womanhood, but my psycho thyroid. We adjusted meds for that not 4 months ago, and they are low again. Sigh. So we’re upping those. Low thyroid can cause problems with sleep, irritation, periods, depression, blood sugar…sounding familiar anyone? Yeah. So maybe everything can be blamed on my thyroid. Well, except for the idiocy that happened apparently because of my thyroid, but that wasn’t me. I know. Long story.

I guess my hardships are all mine own. No one else wants to own them. Or be a part of them.

At one point, I typed hormone as hotmone…makes total sense.

Ironic that I feel so out of balance emotionally…it goes with the physical imbalance. Probably the most logical part of my life. LOOK! This one number explains everything.

I’m a week into Spring Break, and my brain is still all over the map. Thursday was nice…life drawing in the morning, first time at this class. I’ll go back. I may even do this all summer. I could. Then I had lunch with Linda and Dean Moran of Marble-T Design. I first got in touch with them a million years ago for flesh-toned and gray marbled fabrics. I wanted a run of grays from dark to light, and then I wanted a selection of flesh colors. I am still using bits and pieces from what they did for me…I think they show up in almost every quilt I make. It’s not their fault I don’t use much fabric at a time. Anyway, we had never met in person, so this was the first time…and they brought me fabric!

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Beautiful gorgeous dirt fabric, or even brown flesh…could go either way with this. I’m very happy, AND they are nice, smart, amusing people. It was good. Plus they were nice and bought me lunch.

Then I went to Susan’s for a stitching meeting and started cutting out the Wonder Under for the next big quilt, which I’m going to just call Menopause for now, because it’s easier, but it does have a real name…and I’ve written it down (typed it) somewhere; I just can’t remember where. And it may not matter.

Oh wait. It does matter. It’s from this…

The title. Anyway. At least for now. I keep hearing some songs over and over and can’t get them out of my head (not the Kylie Minogue song). Oh yeah, the title is from the lyrics…it’s not called Afraid. I’d like to say I’m beyond Afraid, but I know that’s not true.

So I started cutting it out Thursday and I didn’t get much done…

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I was way too tired. I went to the gym too and I meditated and probably fell asleep doing that. Really, truly, at the moment, there’s two things that happen when I meditate: I either fall asleep or I cry. Neither is particularly satisfying, but each seems to fulfill a need…a niche even. OK, sleep is probably supposed to be a necessity and not a niche.

Friday…Friday was the doctor and a bunch of crazy running around. I guess I can finally admit, now that I’ve sent it off with its new owner, that this is sold…

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May they enjoy it and all its political issues. I still love the brick fabric. OH! And the gray in the sidewalk? Yup. That’s Marble-T Designs again…so THAT’S cool. Anyway, so I didn’t get much done Friday night because I was still tired, and I knew I had a long hike this morning, so I went to bed at a semi-reasonable hour (unlike tonight, when I seem to be making up for gained sleep by frittering it away on god-knows-what purpose).

I hiked this morning; more on that later. Suffice it to say that there is Julian Pie Company pie in my fridge and I was very good and did not eat any of it, because it is for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Then I decided to put on my pajamas and sit down and cut out Wonder Under for a million hours.

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Because there was a million hours’ worth of Wonder Under that needed cutting. I started with 7 pieces, I had cut out the smallest one. I think I did a little last night, but mostly it was this evening, almost 4 hours straight. I’m up to 7 hours and I only have 2 1/2 of the larger pieces to cut out. So that’s good. It won’t take 20 hours. It will probably take at least 11, though. There’s some minor chance I can get done before we leave for New York. Maybe. Or Nah. (sigh. I now know where that’s from. Hopefully my students will have forgotten about it over Spring Break so I never have to hear it again…because yes, it is TOO HARD TO SAY THE T SOUND.)

So spending 4 hours Saturday evening watching TV and thinking depressing thoughts and cutting out Wonder Under does indeed include me in the Old Lady Loser Rock N Roll Saturday Night Hall of Fame. Feel free to join me.

Some fun stuff going on with the Wonder Under…some pieces are releasing the paper from the fusible web. This was a problem with the old old web, but then they went overboard and it got Way TOO Sticky, and now we’re back to EDGES…edges releasing. So the pile below needs to be redrawn on Wonder Under that is not falling apart, because I don’t want to match all those pieces up while I’m ironing.

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Does that make me lazy? Hells no. I am retracing pieces that I’ve already traced once. I don’t know what it makes me, except more or less insane.

More insane…in the middle, those 4 pieces? They are traced into the middle of some really long complicated piece, so they also had to be retraced onto their own piece.

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Did that. More work. Then I thought I was missing a cat…hadn’t seen her in a while. Went and looked, texted the girlchild for possible hiding places, came back, sat down, and felt the little pyscho jump up behind me to her regular nightly seating spot.

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Nice to see you, Midnight.

I feel like I just camped out here for hours…

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Because I freakin’ did. Top box is trash, in case I accidentally throw away something useful. Below are the real pieces…I took a few breaks. Made lots of tea, ate dinner, read a little. Not a lot. Wanted to have the focus on. For some reason. Not sure why.

Kitten’s been venturing into the living room regularly lately. She settled down into a corner and hid…

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I guess she’s lonely too.

There’s where I was at when I decided it was getting awfully late and I might want to sleep tonight.

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Getting there. Closer than I was 4 hours ago. Trying to tell my head to get on straight. Oh yeah, I meditated in the middle of it too. It was crying instead of sleeping tonight. Interesting. Now Babygirl is trying to harass me into sharing the chair. Or maybe all she wants is to be petted. She’s lonely too.

So here’s a series (that is just starting) by Peter Drew…and his hair, which disturbs me, about art-related things and reality, which I find amusing because art has so little to do with reality. That said, it’s an interesting take on why (and how) art galleries exist.

This is apparently the same Peter Drew as is in this Hyperallergic article…where he was threatened with expulsion for creating the art he had been accepted to the school in order to create. Really convoluted sentence. Don’t care enough to fix it. Don’t judge.

Naked yarnbombing. Enough said.

Here is my post on the California Fibers exhibit at Soka University (there is no way I’m posting that whole thing here as well, so you’ll just have to go look. It’s OK. I’ll still be here when you’re done. Take your time.).

Every ebook I had on hold at the library has come in during the last two days. Luckily, it is Spring Break and I’m spending a million hours flying in the next few days, so at least I know what I’ll be doing on those flights…competitive speed-reading. Or something. I won’t have to talk to anyone.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. I’m taking my moody cranky imbalanced self to bed. I love that something I have no control over has so completely messed up my life. Sigh. Moving on.

That Never Happens in My Real Life…

April 10, 2014

Yesterday, I went on a road trip to Aliso Viejo in Orange County (California) to finally see the California Fibers exhibit at Soka University, where I have had two pieces since January.

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It’s a beautiful campus, at least what little I saw of it.

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It was obviously Spring Break, because otherwise, I’m fairly sure these pools must be filled with students, right?

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There’s no way they’d stay out of there.

Julie was my companion (and driver, which was awfully nice of her)…

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It was a gorgeous Spring day in California, although a little on the warm side…

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I’ll be posting about the exhibit (again) on the California Fibers blog, as soon as I find some free time to do that…today is kinda overbooked. Again. I know.

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Julie and I spent quite a bit of time discussing this global map, especially how it wasn’t the way we were used to seeing maps laid out, with Japan at its center (Soka’s founder is Japanese and the sister school is also in Japan).

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Relative sizes of countries and locations of islands and the equator were part of the discussion.

Then we headed outside again to check out the fountain…

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Especially because it appeared to have dead bugs all over it…

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That may be a commentary on university costs right there (a definite discussion point in my household at the moment). I hadn’t been able to come see this exhibit for so long because it’s only open Monday-Friday, which is kind of annoying. I mean, I guess I understand in that it’s on a university campus, and their staff isn’t around on the weekends, but…hell, I would have had to take a day off work to see it otherwise. I’m not sure how many non-retired people who aren’t students at the university have been able to see the exhibit, which is too bad, because the space is really beautiful. It’s up through May 8…if you’re in town, you should check it out.

It was a nice trip, and I got home early enough to get some stuff done…although some of that was following the kids around. Girlchild is cat-sitting (or checking-in-on-cats really), and Maus decided he didn’t so much LIKE being in the garage, but definitely liked being TALL.

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There was some worry and some kitty squawking and a ladder was involved, but we found out later that he does this all the time. No worries.

I sat outside while girlchild did all her feeding and cleaning and trash stuff and kitty-petting, because I had an ebook that was due back today and had holds on it (not sure how the renewal policy works on that) and I wanted to finish the book…it was Parasite by Mira Grant…


It’s a story set in the future, 2027, where we have developed intestinal parasites that help keep humans healthy, but as always, in the future, our meddling with science will cause issues. This is the first of a 3-part series called Parasitology, and I’m looking forward to the next one. I really liked this book…it was scientifically intriguing (although the reason I gave it a 4 out of 5 on GoodReads is because some of the science wasn’t explained well enough, and that bugged me). There’s some obvious stuff going on and some political/corporate intrigue and a bunch of crazy people acting in the name of science or money or both. And dogs. Dogs are good in this story. All good stories should have dogs in them.

Interestingly, Mira Grant is the pseudonym for Seanan McGuire, whose Rosemary and Rue I read last year. I thought this was much better of a story, more solid and grab-at-you than the October Daye series (although I would probably read more of those as well). McGuire as Grant has also written the Newsflesh trilogy, which is now on my to-read list.

Then I finally made it home and managed to get to work on the last few hundred pieces on the newest quilt…I finished tracing around 11 PM (I fixed dinner and did other stuff in there, really)…and here it all is, laid out…

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It’s probably 7 yards…I try to cut about 1-yard pieces, although I don’t actually measure them, because that would be way more anal than I am (I know, I seem that anal, but I’m not). It took a total of 21 hours and 36 minutes to trace all of them, which is interesting because like I’ve said before, usually I can do 100 in an hour, so this one must have been more complicated. There are 1776 pieces officially (although I know there are probably 10-15 more due to mistakes in numbering). The quilt itself, well, the image anyway, is 34″ wide x 73″ high (so add about 10 inches to each of those measurements for a finished size).

In comparison, the quilt I did for Celebrating Silver is about 40×70″ and has 1227 pieces. So. Yeah. And it took only 95 hours to complete. I’m sure I can cut that time! (Are you kidding me? Tracing Celebrating only took a little over 11 hours. I am fucking nuts.)

Anyway. I’m going to start cutting those out today, knock on wood. I have a busy art day planned, with a new life-drawing class I’m trying out as a plan for the summer, lunch with friends I’ve never met in person (ah, the wonders of the internet), and then a stitching meeting afterwards (that’s where I’ll be cutting stuff…it’s not appropriate to cut out Wonder Under at the other two places, you know?).

I wasn’t quite ready to go to sleep when I finished, but I also wasn’t ready to cut the WU out, so I debated cleaning (I debate that a lot…mostly I do it for about 10-20 minutes and then I figure there must be something better to do). Then I remembered that I only had a little cutting left on the Mammogram fabrics, so I pulled that out…

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and managed to finish. It took a total of about 7 hours to cut this one out…interesting, because it only has about 360 pieces in it. But many of them are big and complicated pieces, difficult to cut out. So now it’s ready to iron down as well. I will probably save that for after Spring Break, because it’s not a difficult task…it doesn’t require a huge amount of brain power. I really want to get to the fabric-choosing phase of the big quilt over break, which is looking more and more impossible as the days disappear behind me. Oh well. It will all get done. And I need to draw! I have two I need to draw in the next few weeks. I’m not worried. They’re smaller than this one, but inevitably, I will make sure they have 12 trillion pieces in them.

Yup. I’m a little crazy that way. But you knew that already. But I finished two tasks! In one day! It must be Spring Break. That never happens in my real life.



Where My Brain Goes…

April 9, 2014

Almost 5 hours of tracing Wonder Under today and I still have 200 pieces to go. Out of 1776, that’s not bad. There’s actually more than that, because I have some pieces that are a’s and b’s of the original number. I forgot to number a nose, for instance. I’m getting close, though. That’s good. I’m 19 hours in. It gets to be kind of a slog…I have to force myself to not distract myself with blogs or books or whatever else I’d rather be doing (even cleaning house raised its ugly head, until I beat it into submission).

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I could use the same light-table photo every day and it wouldn’t matter. There is a much bigger pile of Wonder Under sitting on the couch now…6 or 7 yards of the stuff filled up with tiny traced pieces…which then need to be cut out. I made it through all of my saved SVU episodes…it’s easy to trace to SVU because it’s not a difficult plot and they’re all kind of similar after a while, so I don’t really have to watch too hard.

I wanted to be done today, but I have to get up tomorrow because Julie and I are going on a road trip. Julie is good at those. Another two hours though…I’d be done. If I had just started earlier (OK, so it’s not like I did nothing all day…I had errands and the gym and a kid to take to school and I don’t even know what else…I just know I deleted a bunch of stuff off the Spring Break to-do list, and then added twice as many more tasks, because I’m a freakin’ idiot like that).

I had cats helping me all day. Babygirl came in and was lying on the floor for a while. She never does that…and then Midnight, this is her territory in the house, so she was around…

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Couch World is HER world. But Kitten has also been coming in, and she rarely ventures out of my room, so that’s new…

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It’s nice to see her out and about, venturing throughout the house. Babygirl, when she goes to sleep in the early evening, pretty much stays there all night. She doesn’t do a whole lot of rampaging at night any more…it’s mostly in the morning. So Kitten feels safe enough to come out, apparently. That’s cool.

Anyway, I’m feeling kind of brain dead because I haven’t talked to any human beings since 5 PM and I’ve been mostly tracing that entire time, with breaks for dinner and some other stuff, like airline mileage programs and emails and hell, there’s a bunch of computer stuff I haven’t even touched and I really should, and then there’s grading, and I’ve totally blown that off for the last two days. Dammit. Oh well. This is what happens. I get art on my brain and everything else flees before it. This is why I will be a hoarder. This is why my house is not clean. This is why the yard is a disaster. Did Picasso have to do yardwork? Did Matisse need to sweep up the damn leaves? And if they NEEDED to do those things, did they just blow them off, or did someone else do them, or did they use those tasks as breaks from the artmaking? I just don’t know. I want to know if Dali did the laundry. I want to know if Mary Cassatt did the grocery shopping or if Frida Kahlo needed to go buy batteries for the damn smoke alarm. Did Hockney have cats? Who bought the cat food? Did da Vinci go through the pile of mail and recycle the stuff he didn’t need? Who handled Mapplethorpe’s receipts for taxes? Who emptied Georgia O’Keeffe’s fucking litter trays?

I really really want all that stuff to go away. OR. I want someone to help me slog through it all. The to-do list is taking over my brain. I feel guilty when I ignore it and I feel horrible when I let it take time away from making art. There is no happy medium for that. It all just fucking sucks. Girlchild bawled me out yesterday for a pile of papers that I need to deal with that was way too close to the stove and was dangerous. I KNOW. I know. I just have to prioritize, and that stuff…it’s not a fucking priority. I need a secretary. An assistant. Kids that put their dishes in the damn dishwasher.

I barely feel human. I am just the body at the end of the mechanical pencil. I just trace and then I trace some more. My brain literally goes mostly blank when I’m tracing. Part of my brain is paying attention to the TV and the rest is just watching the lines and counting the pieces and deciding what piece goes on top and what piece needs additional space drawn on for the overlap. It’s kind of cool that it’s that all-encompassing, the tracing task. Or not. Maybe it’s disturbing.

I don’t know how I feel about it. The brain is blank. I should be done tomorrow…will start cutting it out then. Probably will take another 20 or so hours…maybe a little less. I usually take less time to cut than to trace. Then ironing…probably not going to get to that before the boy and I leave for New York. Oh well. Life goes on.

All the SVU episodes are gone though. What shall I watch next? Something that doesn’t set off emotional land mines. Ha! There is no such thing.

How do I explain where my brain goes? I don’t. I explain nothing.

My Brain Is Offline

April 8, 2014

Note all the book reviews? What do I do when I can’t think straight? When my brain has wandered off? I read. I hunker down on the couch or in bed with a nice cup of tea and a blankie and a cat or two and sometimes a dog if it’s my day to have her, and I read. I read and read and read, like an addict. Sometimes I think what’s wrong with the world and with people is that they don’t read enough. I have a quote about that somewhere. I’ll find it later…wait, here it is…

By accident, the bound codex taught us sustained focus, abstract thinking, logic. Our natural tendency is to be distracted–to scan the horizon constantly for predators and prospects. Books made us turn that attention inward, to build higher and higher castles within the quiet kingdoms of our minds. Through that process of reflection and deep thinking, we evolved. There was no going back–only ever forward.     –Alena Graedon, The Word Exchange

It’s from one of the books I just finished (but haven’t reviewed yet). I like the idea of reflection happening while I read other people’s stories. I think it’s problematic right now to focus too much on my own story. Too much of it is up in the air. I’ve got nothing to hold onto…except Wonder Under, apparently.

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Yards and yards of Wonder Under. I traced a bit today…and yesterday…and the day before too. I’m about 1100 pieces in, 14 hours so far. Only 650 pieces to go? There were a bunch of other things that went on as well, like a local SAQA meeting, which was interesting. And cleaning my classroom. And a dance performance, which I’ll write about eventually. And the girlchild’s back checkup, which went really well.

But the tracing, I seem to only be able to do it at night. Not sure why. Really do have way too many errands and stupid crap to deal with at the moment. This is not a well-focused holiday, like some have been. It’s sorta chaotic. Oh well. It is what it is.

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It’s like my brain is offline. Maybe it just NEEDS to be offline for a while. Reading, sleeping, exercising. Forgetting half of the dinner ingredients yesterday at the store, going out today for the rest and STILL forgetting one of them. I just can’t keep track of stuff. Too much. My brain is having a mini-revolution. I wish it the best of luck. May it fly a new flag, conquer new lands, maybe even put someone else in charge. Surely I suck at it. Someone else SHOULD take over. Even meditation…shit, it’s just difficult at the moment. I can’t get to the spreading happy bubble of light that’s supposed to start at my center and radiate out. I just get lost in trying to force that. I broke another glass. I dropped it. It just broke. I don’t even know how I dropped it. I almost threw a mug the other day. Got angry at it. What it represented. Just wanted it shattered, like me. Then put it back in the cupboard. Enough with the violence. It doesn’t solve anything.

So the doc pulled one of my diabetes meds. I emailed her a few days ago with all of last week’s crap and she decided one of the meds might be the issue. They took about 10 gallons of blood this morning…the appointment is Friday. I’ve seen some of the results already. Nothing really shocking, although some stuff has changed. The diabetes, it’s like the happy. People tell you that if you do x, y, and z, then the diabetes will go away (then you will be happy). Liars. That’s not how it always works. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, the diabetes is still there, maybe worse. Same with the happy. Just because you follow all the rules, do all the steps, there’s no guarantee that happy will stop by and knock on your door. It’s harder during vacation, because I don’t have all the noise and bustle and distraction of the kids at school. There are too many quiet lonely hours. And I have a ton of stuff to do, so going out and doing stuff isn’t really the solution. Hanging out with more people doesn’t solve my problems. The work I do, the stuff in my head, the stuff that becomes art, it’s such a huge part of me and so few people are around for that…on purpose, mind you. I don’t create well with people around. I’m an independent worker. I don’t want help or company or critiques. I just want to make my art, but at the end of the day, the art isn’t enough to make me happy. There’s some happy mix that works, and I lost that. I had it. I thought I had it. I didn’t have it. Obviously. Because it’s not here.

Vacations are a slap-in-the-face reminder of all that. So I just get through. Hoping to finish the tracing tomorrow and start cutting this stuff out. Not exactly on track, but since my mind left me, I’m not really sure where the track is any more.

It Is Where I Am…

April 5, 2014

So it’s officially Spring Break for me (not my kids). It came this year without the huge sense of relief and fanfare that I usually ride into break. I don’t really know why. I know the depression has allowed me (forced me really) to distance myself from my job in some ways. Not from the kids…I am more connected to them this year than I think I ever have been. That’s not to say the year hasn’t been difficult. You can’t possibly be dealing with this incredibly demanding job AND a major depression and grief and not have difficulty. But maybe I can keep my job mostly where it belongs now. Maybe.

That’s the problem with teaching. It’s too damn easy to let it BE your life, especially if you don’t have anything else. Balance has always been difficult for me.

So what did I do on my first evening of break? I cooked dinner. I exercised. I meditated. I graded papers! I know. But it needs to get done, and I’d rather get a chunk of it done now, early in break, so I don’t have to think about it the rest of the time. So a little a day until I get there.

And then I started tracing stuff…I actually started really late at night (AGAIN) and didn’t want to stop (AGAIN), so I finally had to force myself to go to sleep because I knew that there was a bunch of stuff I had to do today…I’m kind of overbooked. Whoops. No brain downtime? Probably a good thing.

Anyway, I traced for a few hours…

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I’m still trying to fill in little pieces into all the weird spaces between the wiggly pieces from the bottom. I hate wasting Wonder Under…I don’t know why. It’s not particularly expensive.

Here’s an example of tracing like pieces together…I had fish on one side of the drawing and fish on the other, so I traced all the same fish parts together: fins, eyeballs, side fins, tail fins…because they will all be the same fabrics, so why cut them out in Wonder Under and then LOSE all the tiny pieces…cut them out as a lump, iron them down to fabric as a lump, and then cut them out once.

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I do not even know why my brain comes up with this stuff. This is part of my artistic process, this incredibly controlled, logical, pattern-fitting piece of the process. Compared to the fabric-picking stage, which is wildly out there and in my head coloring crazily, even when I’m asleep, waking me up with the next color scheme, this is incredibly calm and soothing…like putting a puzzle together. Fabric-choosing is a much more demanding, emotional task.

Anyway, I finished tracing the bottom person and I was trying to find where I had traced next. I try to be logical and move across the drawing in sections, numbering all the same parts together, but I spent about 10 minutes looking for piece 513 and just couldn’t figure it out (because I hadn’t been TOTALLY logical). But as I was doing that, I noticed that I had forgotten to number those damn octopus tentacles…I mean it was bad enough that I missed the bottom figure’s face…her body is in the 400s and her head is in the thousands somewhere, because I missed it while numbering.

Anyway, those damn tentacles added 102 pieces; now I’m at 1764 total…

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Originally I was going to embroider the smaller circles in the suckers, but I decided I wanted them to be fabric in the end. They seemed too big (ah ha ha!) for embroidery. I was going to have this satin-stitch or some sort of textural thing going on by the side of the quilt that wasn’t going to be repeated anywhere else in it, and it just seemed like a problem.

Anyway. That is not the first time an octopus has showed up in one of my quilts, by the way. So I’m about a third of the way through the tracing. Not where I wanted to be, but it is where I am. So there we are.

So I have to be super-focused today to get everything done and get to all the places I’m supposed to be. I’m hoping at the end of it to feel peaceful and inspired and maybe even content or pleased. I have to manage my days to try to manage the emotional crap too. I emailed my doctor about the weird blood-sugar incidents, because they really are illogical and supremely worrying. That may be part of my need today to be with other people as much as possible…if something goes wrong on a day I don’t have the kids around, at least someone might be around to call 911. The counselor wants me to get one of those medic-alert bracelets. SIGH. Anyway. It’s Spring Break. Cleaning, organizing, artmaking, maybe sleeping? Hiking? Who knows. Oh yeah, and a crazy short trip to visit the school where my son will probably spend the next 4 years of his life. Bet there will be some tears over that. Mine, not his.

Moving on.

More Is Better

April 4, 2014

Hey. So I’m feeling much better tonight. I think the biggest issue with the hypoglycemia is that it comes fast and I feel like crap with it, and it takes a long time for that to go away. The effects of last night’s episode continued well into the morning. I don’t think I started feeling OK again until after lunch. And I ate normally. So. But I ate normally the day before too. It’s the unpredictable nature of the crashes that is difficult. I worry about being alone and having it crash fast and not having someone around to help me. Anyway. The doc and I will have a conversation. We’ll figure it out. Hopefully.

Meanwhile, today was our team’s field trip to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Museum in Balboa Park. We saw one of the IMAX movies on the human body (probably it doesn’t help that IMAX makes me want to puke…but it was good), then we watched 140 or so students try to destroy all the exhibits inside the museum, and then let them out into the sunny gorgeous day to run around and eat and act like goofballs. It was a really well-managed field trip, thanks to one of the team teachers, and I didn’t feel anywhere near as crazy about it as I have in the past. And there’s only one day of school left until Spring Break, when I will have a little bit of freedom. I do have about 700 errands to run and another 30,000 things on my to-do list, but hopefully art will be part of it. After last night, I’m kind of trying to relax my desire to get a lot done. I think I will get done whatever I can, and I will have to be happy with that. Or at least content. Happy is still not part of my vocabulary.

So I practiced that tonight after getting home from my stitching meeting (which is really just hanging out with good people and sometimes we stitch and sometimes we don’t and we try to support each other with our wacky lives and existences…which is all you can do sometimes…is support). I ate some food…I’ve been paranoid about food today. Shockingly.

Then I traced for about an hour…

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It’s still going really slowly. I’m in the middle of the lowest body on the piece…

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She’s got some weirdly overlapping pieces, which means I really have to think while I’m tracing about what goes on top and what goes on the bottom, since I draw the overlaps into the pieces. I’ve finished her legs and belly, and am just starting on the arms. I was getting tired, so I tried to find a decent place to stop…I’m in the 370s, over 6 hours in.

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This piece really is a bit crazy. See all those empty spaces? I try to fill them in as I’m tracing smaller pieces. I try to do a decent job of fitting pieces in so I’m not wasting too much Wonder Under. I also try to trace pieces that I know will be the same fabric together so I save on cutting time…I only have to cut them out as fabric, not as Wonder Under as well. That really helps if the pieces are super small too…I often don’t cut them out until I’m ironing everything together…like I already know I won’t cut out the fish eyeballs until the very last ironing minute…which will be in June, at the rate I’m going.

The yawning, though. I had to stop. I had to make myself stop.

I got some done on the girlchild’s Xmas stocking at the stitching meeting…

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this piece is really slow. But it’s meditative. I’ve had a hard time motivating myself to actually meditate for real lately. I think I need to go back to doing it earlier rather than later at night…if I’m tired, I can’t handle it. I get the feeling he’d really like me to meditate in the morning, but I find that difficult. I’m not even really awake in the morning. I feel like you should be awake to be mindful. I’m a night owl. That’s why we call it meditative PRACTICE though…you’re supposed to actually practice it. Plus practicing makes you better at things.

Anyway. At least I’ll get some more artmaking time in the next few weeks. Nothing major, nothing lifechanging. Just more. More is better. Hopefully more is better will apply to hours of sleep as well.


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