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.

My Lady Parts…

November 11, 2015

So it’s a school holiday, just one day, lonely in the middle of the week. Usually Veteran’s Day leans toward one end of the week or the other, so we get a long weekend, but not this year. It’s a nice break between two very frustrating days at school and probably two more frustrating days, unless I can get my mindful mind floating high enough over the stupid shit that it doesn’t drag me down. We’re nearing the end of a unit and there’s just a lot of crazy going on, both with kids and parents, and I don’t have the energy for it, I guess.

Part of that is art-related of course. I finished this amazing piece in September and it didn’t get into that show, and I fully realize there are more shows out there for it, and it’s a challenging piece and I shoot myself in the foot every time I make a challenging piece…unless it gets the recognition I think it deserves, and then it’s all OK. This last year has been hard for that, but I’m still making them, still drawing them, still entering them in shows.

And these cute little cat quilts…see, they’re easy enough to make, but I don’t love them. Well, I love Cat 6, but you can see why. And Cat 3 is sweet, sure, and Cat 7 is kinda cool. But they’re not really fulfilling. They’re a quick snack and I want a full meal. So honestly? I’m trying to finish them all as quickly as possible, which would be easier if I had my binding callus on my middle finger, but I don’t…so it’s sore as hell this morning after doing three of them last night. I will search around for those pads or one of the many thimbles I own, but I know from personal experience that I suck at thimbling…I just automatically switch to an unfettered finger, setting up new holes and sore spots there.

But first I had to go to the doc this morning, another MRI of my “lady parts” as they were called earlier today. That phrase makes me laugh. Because I’m so not a lady. But hopefully after fasting and lying in an incredibly uncomfortable position as magnets yelled at each other through my body, the scan will show my alien beasts (fibroids) reducing, disappearing, leaving me alone to suffer my uterus without them. I suspect one is still there, the big one, the one my kids used to kick during pregnancy. But the hundreds of little ones that populated my uterine muscle, I’m OK if they’ve left the building. I feel a little mean starving them of nutrients, but they were becoming ungrateful house guests who had outstayed their welcome. I was tired of dealing with them and their detritus. So hopefully it’s all good news.

Back to the little quilts. Sizes and prices are listed below. Just let me know if you’re interested in one of them. Shipping is included.

This is Cat 1

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11” w x 10” h, $120.

I do actually calculate prices from time spent and then add average shipping costs in. There are no fancy formulas on these. I’m actually debating giving Cat 1 whiskers…so she may look different tomorrow.

Cat 2

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13 ½” w x 10 ¼” h, $155. Might also need whiskers…hand-embroidered if so…

Cat 3

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13 ½” w x 12 ½” h, $180. Kitten sleeps in this position all the time.

And I rephotographed Owl 2.0 in the daylight…

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17” w x 10 ½” h, $235.

So the rest of my day off will be filled with errands and cleaning more of the boychild’s room out, moving it back in here. I’m actually going to move another section of stuff in here out into his room so I can go through it easier as well…because it’s been piled on the floor for so long and I’m tired of it, but there’s no way to force me to get through it in here, so I just don’t. A deadline like a kid moving back for 5 weeks is a lot more motivating.

I love how I can psych myself out. You’d think I would catch on…

While I was cleaning stuff out, I found this body-part crazy quilt I started ages ago (no dates on anything)…I used to do crazy quilts. Still love the idea of them, love the embroidery, but don’t have the time for it. So I drew a series of body parts, maybe 12? on white fabric, and then crazy-pieced the rest of the square around it. You can see some I haven’t pieced yet on the left.

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I didn’t do a uterus, but I did do some lady parts. Each part got one main color…that’s a knee, by the way.

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A nose…obviously orange.

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Eyeballs when you have blue eyes…a predominant number of the eyeballs in my quilts are blue. Some green. Very few brown.

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Penis is obviously red…

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That’s a strange elbow.

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So I think what bamboozled me after that is what color do I do next? Do I do repeats? Obviously I can do green, but after that? I debated gray and black and brown and white, but didn’t like those options. So there are inbetweens, I guess, although I didn’t really censor the colors I used so far, indiscriminately using lights with darks in the color range. Or using colors more than once. Which is probably the best option.

I start these weird projects and my kids will find all of them after I’m dead, including the pile of 50 eyeballs on orange fabric, and they will wonder What the Fuck I was thinking. Sometimes I do too, if that helps.

Anyway, I have one cat left to bind, and then will have 6 to sew by hand, if my finger can handle it later today. If not, maybe I’ll take a break and trace Wonder Under for a while instead. I should probably take advantage of the time and grade something as well, but every time I think about grading, I think about the kid who complained yesterday that I hadn’t graded his warmup from last week yet, because instead, I graded the thing he needed for his study guide, but he didn’t actually turn that IN, so he currently has a zero. He thinks the warmup will save him, but even if he got 100% on the warmup, he’d average out to 50%. Math is not his strong point. It’s often not mine either, but at least I admit it and ask for help.

I really really really want to draw, dammit. Like right this second. Aargh. Set timer. Draw. Then go do cleaning and errands. Days off shouldn’t be wasted…they should be honored with artistic endeavors. And more sleep. And peeing whenever I want (ah, being a teacher often sucks).

Numbering Around the Cat Butt…

November 6, 2015

So first of all, I finished one of the little quilts. This is Owl 2.0, actually the 18th bird I’ve made.

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She (he?) is 17″ wide x 10 1/2″ high ($235). These are for sale…would make great holiday presents. They have a sleeve on the back and I deliver them with a dowel with eyebolts for hanging. Shipping costs are included in the price, unless we’re going abroad, in which case, we may have to negotiate.

For some reason, I seem to be completing them in backwards order, which only matters to me because I list them in order of completion, and when it comes to the cats, they’re numbered in opposite order from what I seem to be doing. I probably could fix that though. Maybe. The owl has quite a few pieces in it, so besides Cat 6 (the one with the eyeballs), most of the other small quilts will cost less than Owl. I’ll post them as I finish them…and then put them up on my Recent Work page…or I’ll continue to debate having a page titled Small Work for Sale. Because almost all of my work is for sale…but I guess most of it is not small and relatively affordable.

Anyway, so that was my achievement for yesterday…except for this one. Do you know how hard it is to number a drawing when the cat is sitting on it? And I moved her about five times, then started sliding the drawing around with her on it until she got a clue and moved her furry butt.

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I’m actually quite pleased, because it only has 773 pieces in it, and that’s not so bad.

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So I just went rock climbing in the boychild’s room (no, I haven’t moved everything back in here yet…I’m trying to go through it and I was too tired to do any of it last night) because I wanted to find the drawing for Bathtub 2 to see how many pieces IT had, because I know how long it took to make (the cats love watching me kamikaze through his room, because apparently everything I really need is on the bed, which means holding onto the dresser to maneuver around the chair and then walking on the back of the bed after climbing up onto it). Well damn. I thought it was 800-some pieces, but it wasn’t. It was only 568 pieces and took about 64 hours. So. Hmn. I think I need a database of my quilts that includes number of pieces and hours to completion and size, and then maybe I can come up with a formula. Ventura was 891 pieces and took 89 hours. So I think I’m looking at about 75 hours total. Before the end of January. But really, earlier than that, because there’s another one I want to get done by the end of February, and it doesn’t even exist yet.

Yeah. There’s some crazy in there. I still need to finish all these little quilts; they each have about 2 hours left in them, maybe. So that’s about 17 hours right there. That’s a lot more than I thought. Sigh. OK. Hunker down. Figure it out. Grades are due. Life doesn’t stop because you feel like you’re hurtling through the days. You just have to take deep breaths and keep working. You can do it. It’s all possible.

Whether It Makes Sense or Not…

November 5, 2015

Interesting thing happened yesterday. I did grade like a banshee and I made risotto from scratch (high five! by myself! without the girlchild to do all the adding of liquid and stirring!)…in fact I did both of those at the same time for a while (see comments about risotto stirring), but it was taking way too long. And I went through all the books that were in the bookshelf I had to move out with the hot-water heater death, putting away what I wanted to keep and piling up the rejects. There weren’t many because I went through it about 10 years ago and I haven’t bought a lot of books in the last 10 years. Then I moved all those books into the bookshelf. Does the boychild’s room look better yet? Fuck no. And now I can’t quite remember how all the furniture/storage shit fits in that space, so I’m kinda freaking out. I think the stuff I need to go through next is what’s on his bed, and I can’t actually get to it. Minor issue.

So I did pick up the car, give blood for my pre-MRI evaluation, so they know they can inject me full of stuff again without hurting me, and then enlarged the drawing I had decided to do next, one of the Bathtub series…number 5 in fact. I wonder how it feels to be one of the Bathtub rejects. Like I jumped numbers 3 and 4 and went to 5. Are they butthurt? Are they sad? Do they know I might come back and do them? Actually, I will never do 3, because it was a superfast drawing and kinda sloppy, and 5 is a redraw of the idea, so I don’t need to do 3. And I picked 5 over 4 because 4 is really depressing and I like 5 better moodwise. Don’t even ask about 1. It’s currently headless. I did enlarge it, but it needs work.

After all the grading and cooking was done, I only had about an hour and a half til bedtime, so I could have come in here and put binding on at least one, maybe two of the small quilts, but I’m tired of them. They don’t ring my bell. Whatever that means.

So I went back out to the living room and starting cutting the copies and taping them together…

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I enlarged the original drawing 250% on 11 x 17 paper. Then I try to fit them together. I hate copiers because it’s never exact enlargement. There’s distortion. But this is the cheapest way to do this…less than $5 for this one. And it works most of the time.

The reason I had held off on this one before is because it didn’t feel finished. It was unbalanced. This top left corner was too empty for one. So I gave it a bird. Birds show up pretty often in my drawings.

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I actually penciled him in first because I wasn’t sure how to fit him in the space. I was pretty close the first time. I just didn’t want to fuck it up.

Once I enlarged a drawing and wanted to add a head to the figure in the drawing…it just had the bottom part with the chin and lower lip. I drew the whole new head…and then cut it off. Taped a new piece of paper on there and did it again. Got it right the second time. I really don’t think of my drawings as precious pieces of art…they’re a means to an end.

The other part that bugged me was the bottom. I thought about just cutting it off under the bathtub, but it felt really unbalanced to me. I stared at it for quite a while.

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And then I drew some books and embroidery stuff…

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Which made sense to me when I looked at the rest of what was on there. So I did the original drawing in April of this year (fast turnaround!), more drawing last night, and now I’m ready to number and trace.

But the most interesting part was how I FELT while I was drawing and afterwards. Wow. Way better than putting a binding on a small quilt that I’m making to sell hopefully, but I really don’t care about. I realized that since the beginning of October, I’ve been working on stuff I don’t really care about, and it’s silly. I mean, I need to do it for financial reasons, but I really would rather mentally be making the art I care about, these big beastly many-numbered pieces that kick my butt while I’m making them, but allow my brain a level of peace. Of balance.

So speaking of balance, I still need to finish the little beasts, and grades for first trimester are due Tuesday, so balance is the name of the game, but I think I’m officially starting the next big quilt. Like as of yesterday. Whether it makes sense or not.

Just About Drawing…

October 30, 2015

Adjustments. I’m constantly making adjustments. To plans, goals, routines, lesson plans, curriculum. Last night, I made it to an art opening and Costco (kind of an incongruous pairing, but it made sense at the time), then came home and made dinner and ate it, and then that was it. And I was sitting on the couch, trying to figure out why I was SOOOO tired, why I was almost falling asleep. You know, it really doesn’t matter why. I needed to sleep. But I felt bad going to bed early without getting anything ELSE done. I mean, I only ran a huge gel electrophoresis lab all day with 150 kids and then sorta cleaned up after school and carved a pumpkin for the school contest and then came home and dealt with animals and then drove halfway across town for an opening and then traipsed through Costco, hauling 42-pound bags of cat litter in and out of the car and then into the garage. And then standing to cook from scratch mostly cuz I’m kinda crazy that way, so much standing and walking. I think maybe I earned that tired.

So I made another cup of tea (those don’t keep me awake, amusingly enough. I think my blood might be caffeinated.) and took my sketchbook (and the dog and one cat) to bed. Now really, I could have just gone to bed and that would have been OK. I was certainly tired enough. But I drew instead. And then slept.

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Goofiest totem pole ever. Heart in pieces. Lotsa details…the stuff I love. This is the medium-sized sketchbook, about 9×12″? I usually enlarge 250%, so it wouldn’t be huge if I made it into a quilt. There were a couple other drawings in the book that would make good smaller quilts. But I really want to do a bigger one next. It took about 30 minutes to draw that. And no, I didn’t finish quilting the little quilts, and I probably won’t finish them until maybe Monday, and then they still need binding and sleeves. So a week later than I planned. Oh well.

Really, this was just about drawing. Because I just wanted to. And then I put the sketchbook down on the floor, took my last sip of tea, and fell soundly asleep. Probably a good thing, because today is Halloween at school, and that takes a whole ‘nother level of patience. An extra hour of sleep will probably come in useful. A coupla shots probably would too, but that’s apparently not allowed.

A Brightly Colored Cat…

October 12, 2015

So yesterday was a giant time suck of catching up on everything that didn’t happen on Saturday…because I really did go to a baby shower and then found a coffee shop and graded and then went to an amazing opening of Bhavna Mehta’s paper-cut work. The exhibit is called Gush and it’s currently at the Oceanside Museum of Art.

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I have more photos, so I can write a post for our group’s blog. I saw Bhavna’s work years ago, well before she joined the group. It’s amazing stuff. Her brain works in these incredibly intricate ways. And I’m so glad she’s in our group now, because that means I get to see her work all the time.

Actually, before I got in the car, I managed to finish cutting fabrics out for the weird cat…because I was already halfway done.

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That’s a lot of fabrics for such a small quilt.

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After the museum opening, I kamikazed back to my home town, where I did this drawing in a bar watching a band play.

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Then Sunday, after de-installing the 17-foot woman, going grocery shopping and to two other errands, taking the trash out, dealing with laundry, cooking for the whole week, and grading a bit (all that took until 9:30)…then I finally got up, stood up, stopped staring at screens (there were three of them)…and made it into the studio space for some real stuff. I decided on Saturday to trace this one again and make a brightly colored version. I really wanted a brightly colored cat. What can I say? I cut the Wonder Under out on Saturday too…so last night, I got ready to pick fabrics.

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There’s the selection! Yup, it’s a little crazy.

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I was in a mood apparently.

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It doesn’t take long to do these little guys.

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And even to cut them out.

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I got another two small quilts cut out last night as well…

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It’s fast…but I still have two more to go.

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Hopefully tonight I can get those done and maybe start ironing these together. I’m already tired, though, and it’s still supposed to be hot today, although it’s not so bad right now. Plus I need to get exercise back into my regular routine. My life is kicking my butt at the moment. I know y’all are like “OMG how does she get so much done?” but I’m like holy hell, why am I not more efficient? I do need to do some major cleaning tonight after the mess I made last night, but at least I have lunches for the week and one dinner in there already made. That’s the shit that saves me during the week. Then I’m aiming for two days at the gym and one hike with the dog if it cools down. Plus ironing all those beasts down. Plus catching up on grading, whatever that code phrase “catching up” means.

Every year, I donate to SAQA in the form of buying one of their small auction quilts…this is what I bought this year…

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It’s even nicer in person, a silky organza-type fabric that shimmers a bit. It’s by Daniela Tiger and is called Let’s Chat. Soon it will join the other pieces hanging around my house. It’s hard for me to simplify enough to work small. I appreciate others who can.

A Small Break…

October 3, 2015

I worked 16 hours yesterday. I spent 8 hours, maybe more, at school. Then I went home and sat on the couch with a cat, the dog’s head on my feet, and I graded stuff and fought our grading system, which kept crashing and locking me out. But I got some stuff updated in there, probably enough for progress reports anyway. I might do more, depending on the next few days. I didn’t actually do my progress reports. Minor issue. Then I copyedited until midnight, maybe later. I think my eyeballs were unseating from their sockets at the end of it all. I couldn’t see straight, that’s for sure.

No art. And I’m cranky about it. But if I can finish the editing today, maybe I can make art tomorrow. Or grade more stuff. Because I’m not caught up. I never am. I got an email about a show I entered recently, one where I made a piece specifically for the show, and they are delaying the notifications about 3 weeks because there were so many entries. Damn. And I know the space…it’s not particularly large. But whatever. It’s an awesome piece, so it will go somewhere. Unlikely that it will get in…suspect there will be lots of dramatic and pretty things, and mine is…well…I don’t know what it is. In your face? I love it, but whatever.

It’s October, usually my favorite weather month. Not my favorite school month…too long! October and April or March, depending on where Spring Break hits. I think it’ll be April this year. But you get these cool breezes and vibrant blue Southern-California skies with fluffy white clouds bouncing around, and you can actually go outside without dripping sweat. Well, until next weekend, when it’s supposed to be 103 degrees! Oh well.

So what can I post here for pictures? I hate posts with no pictures. Maybe the drawings I’m considering for the next quilt? But then people will give me opinions! I don’t want those. Sorry. Guess that makes me sorta weird. I know all these artists who are sharing and asking questions, like what do you think about this color or that? And I’m like, well, I don’t care what you think. It’s in my head. I already know what I want.

My next-door neighbors, who actually built the house I live in as a spec house, are selling their house, which is a mirror image of mine. I feel kinda weird about that…I mean, this was the neighbor burping I was complaining about before, but they are a known quantity…occasionally loud, pirate parties where everyone is drunk and yelling ARRRR. And they would love to have me clean up my yard. I actually found a plan for my front yard that I like, all natives, drought-resistant, not grass. Now I just need manpower, money, etc. Yeah. So not happening. Oh well. If I keep barely watering that section, it will eventually be covered by the ice plant. I can see my neighbor up on the slope actually gardening. I usually only see him in bars, and he always recognizes me. Scary, because I’m never really sure if it’s him.

There’s that beautiful October breeze coming in the window, and what I need to do is do some more copyediting, and then probably run a couple of errands. I’m taking tonight off, which is a good thing, because my eyes hurt.

Today, this morning, Bathtub 5 is first on the list for the next big one…

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I’m finding it unbalanced though…needs something on the bottom, and I don’t know what that is. With the mood I’m in, it might be a dead body. Hmn. Now there’s a message.

This one is in 2nd…it needs to be made, but I don’t know if I can make it yet…

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Maybe it needs to fester some more.

And I originally pulled this one. But then it slipped to number 3.

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I like the other two better. I have to decide which one I want to spend 100 hours or so interacting with for the next few months. But today is not really the day I get to think about all that. I can let it all slurp around inside my brain, and one morning I will wake up and it will be decided. But I’m too stressed by work(s) to do that right now.

I just finished this…This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki…


I love that I can read a graphic novel quickly, just to give me a break.


I liked it…lots of adult drama on the edges while two preteens try to enjoy their summer vacation. Good topics, good art.

So with that, I will now dump art and reading and get on with one of my paying jobs…


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