Ahhh…Peace…

May 24, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I Know You Know It…

May 18, 2015

Apparently I like to pick out fabrics…or my mood finally switched on to art mode. Either way, even though I spent a good two hours yesterday arguing with the girlchild by text about whether she had taken my shoes or not or whether I was in the right to demand that my shoes be returned to my house (ah, the wonder of divorce), and then we weren’t speaking to each other for the next 2 1/2 hours, somehow all that shit worked out and I managed to do some grading and make some art.

Actually, first of all, this is a drawing from Saturday…

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Which needs a redraw. I like the hands. I like the belly and crotch area. I need the head further down. I’ll try again. I also went to an art event Saturday night, but I’ll have to deal with that in a later post…too many photos for a Monday morning.

I had mostly cleaned in here Thursday night (yes, I know it doesn’t look clean, but what do you know?)…

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And set up for ironing, did a tiny bit, but then succumbed to cranky exhaustion.

So last night, I managed to avoid both, and made it through all of the first 100 and second 100 pieces…

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There they are laid out by 10s. Very exciting, no? Yes, I’m a little obsessive sometimes. But look at what I can do with it!

Basically, last night I ironed everything together up until the bathtub…here’s the ginkgo tree…

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Some of those browns are just shreds of skinny pieces because I’ve cut so many tree branches out of them.

Here’s what I’ve used so far…not much color.

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There was a dog on a rug, a cat, a ginkgo tree, a pile of clothes, and a pair of shoes.

Next stop? The bathtub. Which might be a bit difficult. I need big pieces for that. Here’s everything I’ve ironed so far…

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I got to piece 229. On this quilt, that’s almost halfway done…which is good, because my brain is realizing I have to get another relatively big one done by mid-July? Ish? And that is closer than it appears in that mirror.

I also started revamping my LinkedIn page to include my editing and proofreading experience, which is old, but still useful. I’m debating joining a couple of groups that might get me work, but school is still hanging over me. My car went into the shop, though, and between it and my house insurance, the next month is going to be ugly…which is a problem, because I don’t get paid over the summer. So I need to get some focus on…realizing I don’t know how to edit electronically (well, I can mark up in Word), and might have to take some courses to figure that shit out. Anyway. I try to worry about the smaller stuff, one bit at a time. College crap. Getting the boychild home crap. Getting through state testing crap.

I aired out the boychild’s room and rewashed his bedding, realized we were still short a pillow and his fitted sheet no longer fit. Elastic with issues…so I made a run to Target for another pillow and a fitted sheet. Set all that up, so he at least has somewhere to sleep. He can work on cleaning the rest of it when he gets home. Asked the girlchild to clean the bathroom, and she tried to blame part of the mess on her brother, who hasn’t been home since January 19. It’s gonna be a fun summer! I know you know it.

More drawing. More art. I was commenting that I find it hard to draw specifically about the relationship I have with my daughter. I can draw about motherhood in general and the stress that goes with it. Earth Mother shows up a lot in my work. But when I try to parse out how the two of us work and why it drives me bonkers sometimes, I just can’t make a picture about it. I can only hope she has a really nice roommate in her dorm who doesn’t kick her out after three months.

It’s OK. I know her worst behavior gets saved up for me. OK. Apparently I have to go to work. Damn paying-the-bills job. And please don’t tell me you want teachers to love their jobs…there isn’t a single teacher out there who loves state testing, and most of us are trashed by the last 6 weeks of school.

Speaking of trashed, I dropped my favorite mug yesterday…

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Dammit. I made it myself. I made another one at the same time, but I’m apparently not allowed to have it back. And the other large mug I had sprung a leak. So I’m fussing around with a tiny mug, checking Groupon for the next coupon for the ceramic painting place.

OK, off to my day, if only to figure out all the ways I have screwed up already. Love Mondays.


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.


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.


Making Time

May 4, 2015

Grades are due on Tuesday, just progress reports. Really, in the old days, I would have started working on them Friday night and finished them Saturday, never leaving them until Monday night. Eh. Whatever. They’re mostly done. I did get some grading done yesterday, documented some stuff in the gradebook that I keep track of, more to force them to do it then because it’s super-important to understanding science…teaching kids good habits, those that will pay attention. But I’m not done. And sometime around 10 PM last night, I quit being a teacher and started being an artist.

OK, realistically, I never stop being an artist. My brain is always working on art stuff, even when I’m stuck in a 2-hour staff meeting on a Monday afternoon (ugh…today is Monday). It’s one of the things that keeps me going. Car drive, art in head. Waiting in line at the grocery store, art in head. Waiting for the X-ray technician, art in head. They did X-ray my foot on Friday to see if the pain I’ve been feeling is an unlucky broken or fractured tiny bone instead of just a sprain. I vote for a sprain.

So at this point in my life, I just have to make time for art…I don’t have to stand around, pushing fabric around my office, waiting for the muse to appear. She’s always there, waiting. I know I’m lucky for that. But it’s really not luck. It’s making sure that I’m doing something artistic almost every single day. Do that, and she will stay…at least most of the time. Significant depression or illness can drive her away, but if you’re lucky, she’ll stick around.

I went back and looked at the long skinny drawing to see if it needed more. I drew three different cats in pencil around the existing drawing, wanting to fit one in, but not sure if I should. One of them stayed…

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Then I proclaimed it done, because honestly, I could keep adding stuff, but it would take longer to finish it, which will be an issue as it is, and I think it would actually detract from what I’m trying to say. So I stopped.

And then I started numbering it…

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It actually had more pieces than I thought it would…partially because I drew it to size instead of enlarging it, so I kept drawing these stupid tiny pieces. And then while I was numbering it, I thought about adding some more cracks around, but I stopped myself…for now. Looking at that photo above makes me want to add more though. It currently has 543 pieces. Who knows what it will have at the end. I have some time to think about it, though, because it is not the next one on the list…it’s the one AFTER the next one.

So I started tracing Bathtub 2, which is the next one on the list…

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I can’t remember how many pieces it has…hang on…this is partially why I have a blog: to document my own shit because I can’t remember it. (Kathy scrolls back through the blog)…595 pieces. Oh. Hey. Not bad.

Anyway. I traced for an hour, and now my right hand is sore…

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Which is kind of pitiful really. Although I did use the same hand for numbering. I didn’t even get 75 pieces done. See the big long skinny tree pieces? Pain in the butt. And yet I keep drawing them. You’d think I’d learn. But no. This one is going to have some big bathtub pieces too.

I’m using the new Wonder Under. It’s very plasticky. It sticks to the paper when I trace, which helps in that the paper doesn’t move as much as it used to, but then it doesn’t let go of the paper either. Kind of different…but the paper’s not releasing from the fusible either, so that’s a good thing. I’ll probably be tracing all week. I’ve got a bunch of stuff on at night this week, so I won’t get a lot of art time, I think…although I do try every night. It doesn’t have to be more than 30 minutes though. Last night, while tracing, I got a thunderstorm running through town…thunder, lightning scared the animals, and then it rained heavily for a while. We need it. Plus it’s kinda cool to be awake really late and see the light flashing and hear and feel the boom…then waiting as the quiet pitter patter turns into waves of rain pounding down.

This morning, though, there are no such natural phenomena…today is just overcast and a bit humid, with sounds of hairdryers and water heaters in the near distance. And a job that calls me, kind of rudely, reminding me how I pay the bills.


She Got Legs…

May 1, 2015

Yeah so I finished the quilt. No final pictures to be posted until something…um…I think we’re supposed to wait a week or so. Plus it hasn’t been officially photographed. But it took me a few hours last night (ok, almost 3, because I was really slow apparently) to finish the binding and sleeves. I debated putting only one sleeve on it, because it’s not huge, but figured it would still hang better with two, and it’s easier to put it on now than later. All these practical things that flutter through my head.

When I was done, I wanted to draw. Probably (based on how I’m feeling this morning) should have gone to bed, but I’m not sure the brain would have shut down last night. School was a stress ball, not because of kids (well, a little because of kids), but now it’s done and I really don’t want to think about it. It’s my job and it sucks up too much energy. So I headed for the drawing in progress…

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Which was being inhabited by a very black, hard-to-photograph cat. Hi Midnight. She’s the same cat that was trying to lie on the quilt earlier (if you’re on my Instagram, you would have seen her). Basically, she wants to be all over my stuff. Like cats do. Clean clothes, the papers I’m grading, the quilt under the machine, the book I’d like to read. Yup. You know if you have them what evil beasts they are, and they love someone who works with fabric and paper. This is not a light table…it’s a cat staging area.

Anyway, I pulled the drawing out from under and she stayed there and I drew around her.

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And this is where the shitty day went back to OK, because dammit, I rocked those legs. I did exactly what I wanted to. I am incredibly happy with the damn legs…

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Can you tell? And then I stopped, because…well, I could stop there and be done. But that’s unlike me. I want to add stuff to it, like cats and cups of tea and trees growing out of weird places. But I don’t know if it needs it (and she already has stuff coming out of her head). Maybe it’s OK to just stop there and make that quilt.

I don’t know though. So until I do, it’s still in progress. Which is fine, because I think I have to do grades tonight anyway. UGH. OK wait. You keep having these epiphanies about Art Good and Work Semi-Bad, certainly don’t let it take your sanity…so maybe grades yes, because progress reports are due, but maybe also something else. Maybe I’ll pull out the big drawing and work on it tonight. I seem to be on a roll with that.

I’m also considering a new batch of smaller quilts, a la the birds of last year, except maybe cats? I don’t know. I’m also looking around for a summer job, part time, one that doesn’t suck up my brain too badly. Ha. So not teaching. Sigh.

With all that cheeriness in mind (fuck! no! You drew awesome legs last night!), I need to go to work. It’s Friday. I can survive that.


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