A Gopher Tale…

May 14, 2015

The dog (Calli) is staring intently out into the lower yard, worried-looking but not barking or crying. She looks at me when I slip out the back door, whining slightly and so excited that I’ve come out to see what she sees. I peer down into the weed-infested space (I really should do more yardwork. At midnight. On Sundays.) and see one of the 3-foot-tall weeds jiggling, like something is down there. I make the executive decision to walk down the deck on the back of the house. It will look right over that space, and then if it’s a skunk, I don’t have to meet it up close right before school. Calli follows me, thrilled that I know what’s worrying her. I get to right above the wiggling weed and peer down. There’s nothing there. Nothing’s even moving at the moment. I wait. Calli waits, whining quietly. The weed starts to move again, and there is a noise of teeth gnashing. I look more closely. The weed is not just moving; the entire plant is disappearing inside…a gopher hole. Oh. OK. That’s funny. I laugh. Damn dog is scared of gophers. I try to put her out later to pee, and she cries at me, protesting, scratching at the door, and then running back in, Golden Retriever vs Gopher a pure loss in her tiny little mind. I love this dog, but damn…she’s scared of gophers. So much for protection.

Girlchild says it’s because she’s afraid SHE’LL disappear like that. Huh. Silly dog.

So I had tons of crap to deal with yesterday, but I was damn efficient and tried to keep irritation levels at a minimum, hard to do when having to give yet another state-mandated survey on top of state-mandated testing, none of which works the way it’s supposed to work. Our theory now is that the adaptive testing actually refuses to accept wrong answers at some point until students go back and try to fix some of their bad answers. That can’t be true. That doesn’t even make sense…but I have to admit, despite the fact that I’m a teacher, I don’t understand how these newfangled tests are working.

Then I finally made it home for girlchild’s dinner-making extravaganza (chicken salad) and some quiet time (not…prom-dress worries with SVU in the background) on the couch, trying to grade some more (I really want to be caught up. It may never happen. Ever.) until I gave up and started cutting Wonder Under, because I remembered my mistake of the night before. Make Art Dummy!

The thing is…photos of cut-out Wonder Under aren’t very exciting…

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(trash on the right)…not even to me. Although that box is almost full.

Here’s all I have left to cut…

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Now THAT’S exciting. Just one piece left. That’s one evening maybe. There are a lot of little pieces, yes, but there’s also some big whopping pieces in there. (Big pieces take less time to cut out.). I’ve done about 2 1/2 hours, so maybe another hour, hour and a half? I did one whole piece last night in less than an hour.

Now I can start to get excited about ironing to fabric. That’s way more fun. Color and stuff. Making artistic decisions and stuff. And stuff! But I do need to clean this space out first, get some shit out of here and straighten up all the fabrics, put all the stuff away from the last quilt. I still haven’t done that. Sigh. Damn. I hate dealing with that stuff. I can put the fabric away, pile it up by color and straighten up. When I finished the last batch of financial aid stuff, I put everything in labeled file folders, because I didn’t do that last year and it was chaos this year trying to figure out what went where and where everything was. But I still need a home for all that. I still learn from my mistakes. Good thing really. I make lots of them. But I’m a hoarder genetically, so even getting rid of the rest of the upholstery scraps from that recycled quilt causes me issues. What if I NEED them? Really? Seriously? I won’t be able to find them…that’s what if.

And I got a bunch of fabric from a mom I grew up around, the mom of some good friends. She’s not quilting or sewing any more, due to a series of strokes. I’m glad to take in her fabric…kinda makes me feel good thinking some of my stash comes from Sandi, but I have to put them all away too! I know. My problem. I’ll deal.

So I don’t remember where on FB I saw this, but this video about the nipple is good…I didn’t even know about the no-male-nipple laws. This is probably NSFW for most workplaces, which is also an issue, because if I were watching a video with topless males, there might be an issue, but with topless females, it’s always an issue. Go home and watch it.

It does seem like we need to Free the Nipple, people (without the comma, that’s an interesting sentence times two). Certainly looking at my art, it would be nice if people were a little less dramatic about nudity. A naked woman does not equal porn. Neither does a vulva nor a nipple.

Leaving you with that. It’s a good way to start the morning.

It’s Just Better That Way

May 13, 2015

At certain stages in the creative process, I just flail. It’s like I can’t concentrate, like my brain can’t connect to the piece. I don’t care about it yet. I’m just doing because I know I’m supposed to be doing, and if I’m tired or cranky or otherwise in a moody place (welcome to my world), then I can’t barely force myself to make anything.

Last night was one of those nights. The Should Do’s marched by in a relentless line, and I graded papers, because I have a shitload of journals that got handed in yesterday and the rest of the pile will get handed in today, and that means I will be grading until they bury me in the ground, which might be tomorrow. No matter what, I have no recess, no rest, no time off. I need to grade my ass off. And I did grade some…and when I was done, I exercised, because that is good for me and I miss it, and even though my foot is killing me by the end of the day, I still need to be physically active in a cardiovascular way. Damn doctors making me wait for the referral to the next level though. This is no sprained ankle. It’s not even my damn ankle, you fucking idiots.

Deep breaths. Art brain showed up after all that and suggested drawing or cutting things out (pretty easy to do), but I was beyond tired at that point. I sat and finished watching the show I was mired in, and then went to bed. Woke up depressed because hey! I didn’t make art. DUH. Stupid brain. You should know better. And today is an uber-long school day, thanks to my service to my school as a union rep (hate those meetings…but I can grade or draw during them)…so by the time I get home, I will be exhausted again. It’s never-fucking-ending at this time of year.

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(excerpt from Y The Last Man: Vol 1…a somewhat amusing yet sometimes kneejerk treatise on what the world would be like with no men. Apparently some women would be assholes still…but I’m amused by the y chromosome comment, because some of my smart kids were thinking that through as well when we were learning genetics.)

Note to self: Let art brain win tonight. It’s just better that way.

Oh Hallelujah

May 12, 2015

The financial aid crap is finally done. After 20 minutes on the phone to somewhere, Ken, lovely Ken, confirmed that all the documents are there and processed and available to the institution (I keep thinking “mental institution,” which is more about how I feel). It’s out of my hands now. Bless them. I don’t need to worry (OK, that’s not going to happen…now I need to worry about how much they’ll award this year and whether I’m gonna be broke in a year). But seriously, I’ve been working on this for both kids since the last week of January. How can it take this long? So much time and energy. Sigh.

In other news, I cut out a little bit of Wonder Under last night. Mostly I did school stuff, because we are in the middle of testing and there is all this free time for kids after testing is done, and yesterday was a giant scheduling clusterfuck, and today could be even worse in terms of headaches. I ended up losing my prep, which meant trying to eat in front of kids, which I hate doing and I do a shitty job of doing anyway, so my blood sugar was off all day and the headaches that go with that were on Motrin number 8 at some point, which isn’t actually that much, but it’s because I kept thinking, “Ouch, I have a headache, I should do something about that,” and then forgot to do anything.

Whatever. I’m semi-prepared for two hours today and 17 kids with nothing to do…oh, to clarify, 7 of them have stuff to do…they’re just not going to want to do it. So we’ll see how that goes.

I have no pictures of cutting out Wonder Under. I do however have pictures of the big quilt I finished recently, Earth Mother for Ventura, thus called because of their requirement for no nudity, no politics, and no violence…

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She’s not a small quilt, at around 55×66″. Plus she’s got 90 hours or so into her…

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I talked to my photographer about how to best provide prints to those who want them, and he gave me some names of places that could do that.

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Now I just need the time to go research that. Ha!

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Might have to wait until school gets out.

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It was an interesting experiment, making this quilt. Still sussing it out in my head. And there’s no guarantee it’ll get into the show! As always. Oh well. On to the next one, right?

Diverted Destruction Details

May 11, 2015

So I can’t post final pictures of the two Diverted Destruction pieces here until the end of May, since one will be in a magazine and I don’t know why not the other, but whatever…the photographer has finished, so here are details of both pieces.

This is Upholstered Nude, finished back in March…

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It was made entirely of recycled upholstery fabrics from those annoying sample books, except for the background, which is from the stash of my friend Mariah.

Mariah supplied all the fabrics for the second piece, By All Means

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Forcing me to work with a range of colors that weren’t really planned, but also to use leftover blocks and strips and bits and pieces from her previous quilts…


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Cuz, honey, y’all know I don’t piece my backgrounds.

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I will be posting the full pieces the end of May…not sure which one will be in the show, because I don’t get to pick that, but the opening is the end of June in Los Angeles. Will let you know details as we get closer to the day.

I’m just glad to have them both done EARLY. How strange.

The Cutting of the Wonder Under

May 11, 2015

Mothers Day: the only day of the year children will try to feed you and clean up for you. Well, apparently the girlchild last did those two tasks at Christmas, but I’m fairly sure I helped. She did good. Food was wonderful…we will miss her when she leaves. I just don’t pay close enough attention when I cook to do it well. I’m always trying to escape the kitchen to my studio.

I did a couple of drawings this weekend while watching the end of True Detective, which was good. At some point, I couldn’t draw because I was concentrating too hard on the show…always an issue.

But before that, there was this…

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Which I actually want to do over…and this…

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Which might be OK.

And the other 15 drawings are still roaming around in my head, creating havoc with my ability to remember how or when to do anything (or maybe that’s menopause…hard to say).

And then at night, after dinner and cleanup and exercise, I finally got around to this…

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The very titillating Cutting of the Wonder Under.

Stay tuned for many pictures of piles of paper cut out with fusible web on one side. Très exciting.

State testing starts today, so I have to be at school early, because I have duty and I have to get my room set up and all my stuff located. I’m completely unprepared, unfortunately. My brain? Mush. Dammit.

This Mood

May 9, 2015

So many things achieved. I hate when my mood doesn’t reflect what I’ve gotten done…some of that is moody hormones, unfortunately, but some of it is getting bogged down by other crap that just won’t leave me alone. The little stuff is really getting to me at the moment. Need to dump that mentality. Must be getting to the end of the school year.

My two quilts are going to the photographer today…I dehaired and ironed them this morning, got up a little early to make sure I had enough time. Probably won’t finish writing this before I have to go, but that’s OK. I graded papers last night too. Girlchild and I were going to go to this art and music thing, but it was canceled for the rain (yes. we had rain. a miracle.), so she went off to dinner with friends, while I watched the series finale of Sons of Anarchy. Sheesh. Well, it’s done anyway. I think it’s hard to end a series well (Sopranos for example, not as an example of ending well). At least they got to make a decision about how to end it, instead of just not being renewed.

So I finished tracing the Wonder Under on Bathtub 2 last night…

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And no, Kitten wasn’t helping. She mostly sat around on the papers I needed and then rolled around presenting her belly for petting. Then attacked. It’s nice when she comes out though.

It took almost 8 hours to trace this quilt, which is more than I would have guessed, but there are some whopping big and complicated pieces in the bathtub and water that took more than a minute or two to trace. I usually figure about 100 pieces an hour. Tracing big pieces takes longer than small.

The next step is to cut them all out and then move on to the ironing. I need to clean up the studio first though. There’s some stuff in there that’s been there so long, I don’t know what it is. Time to get it out of the way. Summer cleaning is how teachers think. We don’t Spring Clean. There’s no time. Summer is when our brains like to get rid of stuff and reorganize and move stuff around.

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So that’s on the list. Even starting now, I think. I can’t iron fabrics for the next quilt without some major cleaning in here.

I’ve had some conversations about smaller quilts I can make for sale this summer. I don’t want to do all cats, but I will do some. I’m thinking of a different owl and maybe a raven…and possibly one like the cancer donation quilt I did with the hands and the heart, but simpler. So I’m finalizing all that in my head and figuring out how to fit in at least three major quilts between now and the end of September. Ha! Wow. Crazy much?

Honestly, though, I’m kind of looking forward to putting some sort of plan together for summer work on quilts. It helps school feel less crazy. It helps quiet nights at home seem less lonely. It helps with the frustration of my job. It helps temper the teenaged mutant attitudinal beast who is currently on my couch, bitching about everything I say or do (walking away, my sweet. I love you, but I’m not in the mood). I’m crying at the drop of a hat these days, stupid hormones. Fuck. Going to draw today. Seriously. They’re whirring about in my head, causing strife and stress and nausea (oh wait, those are the hormones, right?). My photographer gave me some really positive comments about the quilts I dropped off…not that I didn’t like them, but I keep having this discussion about pretty versus significant. I prefer the latter. Most people like the former. I have to find the happy place between them for the stuff that sells easily and then keep making the big stinky stuff to keep me sane. Like sanity is my strong point! Whatever.

This mood. Sheeit. Dammit brain, I finished all this stuff. Would you back off for a bit? Sigh. We can engineer bridges, put humans in space for months on end, we know how to replace a lens in an eyeball without stitches, but we can’t find an acceptable treatment for menopausal crap? This world we live in. Don’t tell me it’s equal. It’s not.

Please Don’t Call Freud

May 8, 2015

Pouring rain. Heaven to California. Won’t be enough. Never is. But I can turn my water off for a week (to the plants…not the showers). I’m going to save water next year by sending the second kid to another state, a state with no apparent water issues…a state that makes its own water. Who thought greening the desert made any sense?

I have the end in my sights…which end? Lots of them. The end to tracing Wonder Under on this piece, which is strangely making my hand sore. I wake in the morning and it’s stiff and swollen. Probably this is more getting old or menopausal effects…because I never had issues before and I’ve traced for much more than an hour at a time. I’m up to 6 hours…

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There are too many large, long, and convoluted pieces in this quilt. It makes tracing difficult…I hate wasting Wonder Under. It will make ironing difficult too.

This was the worst piece…

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Crazy. Totally should have cut that up into smaller pieces. Oh well. So I’m at about 450 pieces done…didn’t do many pieces last night, even though I worked for over an hour. Of course, it probably took longer than normal because of pieces like that one above. So I need to think about the background for this one and whether or not I want to get more water or bathtub fabrics. Because that piece alone is a significant chunk of a half yard…and I don’t always have that sitting around…certainly not in water color. Whatever water color is.

I keep meaning to go to sleep earlier. I’m tired. My body protests the mornings, but some more than others. You’d think I’d be half dead this morning…stayed up later than the last few nights and it should all be catching up with me on a Friday, but I’m strangely OK. Headachy, but awake. Had headaches all week on and off. Thank you weather systems. Or students. Or financial aid. OK. So headaches could be caused by many things. They are NOT caused by donuts (don’t disabuse me of my notion please).

Totally have drawings rambling chaotically through my head. It was my monthly stitching meeting last night and they plopped a few more in there for me. It’s crazy how much stuff is piling up in there. My artist brain is rushing around, trying to record the ideas on these giant pieces of paper that she piles up in the corners, and then they all slip down and start sliding all over the place. She’s trying to keep them from getting in the way of going to school and remembering the parent meeting I have and that I have duty and it’s currently pouring rain and that I’m giving a test today and there’s that kid who can’t sign into the state testing but we think we figured out why so I have to check that today. All that’s being covered up by these giant slips of paper with intricate drawings of exploding uteri and fetuses reaching towards overloaded pregnant women and crones being pushed aside by perky-breasted skinny beasts with not a creative thought in their brains.

Yes. It’s on overload. Need to deal with that. Please don’t call Freud in on all that. I know exactly from whence it all came.

But it’s always good to just sit and stitch and talk out all your worries and amusements and giggle about stupid stuff, even though I’m old and wrinkly and decrepit and that’s not what society likes.

All I did was stitch feet.

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OK. That’s not true. I stitched around eyes too. Two hours of feet though…basically.

Sometimes that’s the best kind of stitching, because it’s just kind of brainless. I can do bullion knots in my sleep now. And we talked about how to make phones do things and I’m trying to figure out how Siri can make dinner or lunch for me, because shit, I don’t have time for that, and she seems to have endless amounts of time. And then we talked about how Kathy can make money and the Other Kathy reminded me that I used to be an editor (crap, I forgot about that…no, I really did), so I’m looking at that possibility for extra work, plus they both voted for small cat quilts this summer for sale. So I need to go pull drawings with cats in them and start reinventing that wheel. Which is stressful, but not as stressful as trying to find hours in the day where I could drive to a job location and work there after being on my feet all day at school. Because my foot is killing me, despite the attempts to rest (ha!) and elevate it (double ha!) and wear an ankle brace, which a student thought was an ankle bracelet and I was on home arrest. At school. Trust me, sometimes that job totally feels like that, like now, with only six weeks to go and the hardest test of the year today and two weeks of state testing looming over us.

Big fucking sigh. I’m good. I can do this.

Thunder and pouring rain. Kids will be absent today because of that. Stupid.


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