Sewing Ribs…

September 1, 2015

I should listen to my left eyelid. It’s twitching at intervals. It’s stopped again, but it was going like wildfire when I was feeding the animals. It’s a combination of high stress (too many deadlines! too many people want something from me! too many things need to get done!) and not enough sleep. You’d think if I were that tired, it would be impossible for me to wake up at 3 AM and be unable to go back to sleep, but no. It’s not. Because my brain’s in overdrive. I keep forgetting to do things because my calendar didn’t remind me (let’s put blame where it belongs…I didn’t put it in the calendar because I was sure I would remember…ha!) or it reminded me too early and I couldn’t do it right then and then I forgot about it. I’m a chicken with my hair on fire.

The funny thing is, I know in about a week, a huge part of the stress will be gone, although I think I’m replacing it with more stress (just bid on a copyediting job…but dammit, I need the money!). Whatever.

So yesterday I did manage things quite well. School was exhausting, but it always is for the first month. I have to remember that this is only the second full week of school. I especially have to remember that with certain students who are already an issue. Because I have 37 more weeks with them before I boot ’em to 8th grade. And maybe, just maybe, I can get that crazy under control. Or not.

I even went to the gym for the first time in a month, post-procedure. It was awesome, but I wanted to read my book and I had to deal with dueling texters and a Clash of Clans end-of-war that was kinda disastrous…so I didn’t get to read much. It helped to have dinner already pretty much cooked from the night before (keep that in mind). I was able to start sewing around 9 PM.

I had piled up the next batch of blues the night before…darker and more vibrant blues.

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You can tell I’m not even trying to match anything. I did originally think this was going to have more color, but…well…it’s not. There’s enough chaos going on. There will be more color as I go down, because it did finally color itself in my head the other night (while I was asleep), so that’s a good thing. It’s nice to know where you’re going.

I had sewn a dark strip down the middle of the torso the night before, because I thought this would be the best way to fill in the space…kinda like ribs.

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So I set the first piece as a triangle and followed it down.

It’s tiring to do this kind of sewing late at night. Lots of turning and twisting in the chair to iron and cut and get fabric. I wanted to quit many times, but I needed to get a significant amount done. The clock ticking down is freaking me out. So I got all the way down one side to the giant hole that will be in this thing.

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You can see the dog’s legs underneath. There has been a lot of animal interest in this space, since I am the only human around.

Here you can see the arm next to it. The arms will hang down towards the ground. The rest will be suspended above. I hope.

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Kitten has taken over the keyboard area. Midnight was behind the sewing machine for a while.

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I even started the other side and thought I could get another big chunk done…until a wave of exhaustion kicked me in the ass. So I stitched it down to get rid of the pins, and then I packed up for bed.

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Here’s where I’m sewing and ironing. You can see how much of the side is left, plus the legs coming down.

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Oh holy moley. I’m not out of the woods yet. So my new goal is to have all the pieces covered, sewn down, by the end of Friday night. Then Saturday I can do batting, background, sew it all down, etc. Whatever that’s going to look like. I left Sunday open because I know I will need more time than I think I will. I have some other things I’d like to do if I have the time, but realistically? I may very well not. But there’s an eyeball and a uterus and a heart that could go on there…if there’s time.

Sometimes, though, you just have to do what you can and accept that it’s done. Like this blog post (school!).

Black Head…

August 31, 2015

What was my goal for sewing this weekend again? I know it was get the torso to some point…which I did. I feel like I didn’t get as far as I wanted though…the head wanted to be black…

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There’s a reason for that. Interesting thing about severe depression. It actually changes your brain. Like physically. And then when bad shit happens, even when you just have a bad day, the brain spirals much quicker than it would before the depression. When I was sewing the head, my own head was in a bit of a spiral. It’s mostly out again, but it’s hard to kick that black head.

I sewed the head down over a neck piece that was already there. Then I started filling in the upper chest, which was kind of a pain because I couldn’t just string piece like I did on the arms. So I messed with it and made it work.

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The dark is for under the breasts…it has to go down first so I can sew the breasts down on top of that.

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That’s where I quit on Saturday…wanted to be further, but that didn’t happen.

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Sunday, I really hoped to have more time, but that’s life. The plus is that my school website is up and running, all my school stuff for the week is done (well, mostly), and I prepped food for the week as well, hopefully to forestall the lame foodness of last week, when I didn’t really prepare. We’ll see how that works.

So Sunday night, late, I started in on the breasts again…

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And got both done…plus a plan for the torso above the hole.

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This is not the easiest thing in the world to photograph. But there’s the rest, the torso and legs, which still need to be done.

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No. It’s not a small amount. The plus is that it finally colored itself in my head, and I think I have a plan for finishing the whole thing, although it may not matter, because if I run out of time, I’m cutting the finishing out.

I’m still not feeling OK about this getting done in time. I do have to teach and sleep and eat. Maybe I will feel better by Friday. I hope I feel better by Friday.

This piece is for a show called Response


I don’t really know what to say about the response part, because that kind of disappeared for me at some point. But whatever. I’m still responding to them, even though their response was to run away! OK, not really. Sometimes a response is to hide or gather in a circle for protective reasons or to pull the blanket over one’s head. The opening is September 12 from 6-10 PM at Space4Art in downtown San Diego. I’ll be there for the early part at least. Not sure how long I’ll last.

There’s always at least one animal in here with me, often Kitten. Sometimes all three are in here. Right now it’s Calli. Last night it was Kitten.

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I did take time out on Sunday to see the traveling bit of the SAQA trunk show that is in Southern California.

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It was a nice break, got me out of my head for a bit.

Then I came home and prepped 12 breakfasts (bacon, egg, and zucchini muffins)…

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Yes, they taste as good as they look. Plus 2 dinners and 4 lunches. Five lunches would have been better, but it didn’t work out that way. No, I don’t mind eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch for days. Dinner though? I need variety. So I tried to build that in there. We’ll see if I have the energy to actually cook it by the end of the week.

Wish I had more positivity with which to start the week. I think it’s just Head Down until I get enough done that I can breathe.

What Color Is My Head?

August 29, 2015

Getting better. At least I got some stuff done on this long beast of a quilt last night (will it be a quilt? I don’t know. Better start calling it fiber art). I’m getting a better idea of how to construct this and how long it might take. Still frightening, yes, but I think I’m OK. Maybe.

So I had made a pile of lighter blues on that side table and went all the way up one arm until I ran out. Then I started on the other arm Thursday night, but didn’t get very far. So last night, I kept working up the one arm until I ran out of the lights again.

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Then I neatly (well sort of) folded all those up and considered the giant pile again and pulled more midrange blues to continue up the arm.

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I have to admit to having very little clue what I’m doing at the moment. I occasionally try to visualize the whole piece, see where the colors might go, especially later last night when I was trying to decide where to go next. But I can’t. I can’t see the whole thing. I mean literally, I can’t see the whole thing…it’s freakin’ huge…but also in my head. It’s not coloring itself yet.

Here were the lighter blues by the way. Still dipping deeply into Mariah and Sandi’s stashes, which is nice, but pulling stuff from mine too.

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It’s amazing how small of a dent this giant thing is putting in to my stash. I still have a ton of fabric. I make more and more quilts, and there’s still so much fabric (yes, I do know how to fix that, but I’d rather fix it by making more quilts).

This was my setup last night, trying to keep the rest of the body out of the way while I’m working on one arm at a time. I did finally cut the arms away from the body because they were driving me bonkers being all tied up. Most of that sits on my lap as I sew. I think at this point, I had one arm done all the way to the shoulder, and I was working on the second one.

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Same deal as before, use all the fabrics before you and then do the same on the other side. Obviously I’m not using them in any particular order.

Here’s both arms all the way to the shoulders. I think the arms are taller than I am.

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I do kinda want them to hang down almost to the ground. From the ceiling…or the beam, to be specific. Which means I might have to do the same thing on the back of them. Or not. I have one part of my brain parceled out to shortcuts at the moment, a list of steps that I could do if I don’t end up with time to finish. Because really, it’s going to be OK even if it’s not exactly how I originally wanted it. I can be experimental. I don’t have to finish all of my edges (although I will need to do something to them).

Meanwhile, I’m quoting on copyediting jobs, writing stories, and teaching school. I entered two shows this morning. I missed one last week because I calendared it and then forgot to do it when I got home from Boston. Really it was incredibly stupid to think I would remember to enter a show in the hour after I got home, but whatever. My fault.

It sucked to come home to a very empty house last night. It was bloody hot, over 90 degrees inside, because I have to close the windows due to Kitten’s new escape tendencies. Once I got all the windows open, it took forever to cool down. Plus I was exhausted so I just lay prone on the couch for a while. I even stayed at work late to finish stuff because why come home? There’s nothing there but furry beasts, and they are needy, and sometimes I don’t need more needy. But I don’t have time to go hang out with people much; I really need to be here finishing things. So that is what I shall do.

So back to that part of coloring it in…I’d really like to do the head before I do the chest, but that would mean I already knew what color the head should be, and I don’t. And I really do need to know…like now. Like as soon as I post this. I could just use blue for this whole thing, but I don’t think I want to. And the mood I’m in, it’s telling me one color, but is that what I really want this piece to be about? It might be too late. I think it is.

I’m just sitting here, staring into space, trying to visualize all the possibilities. Each means something different. I guess you’ll know what I did by the next time I post.

Giant Shift

August 28, 2015

Wednesday night I made a giant artistic shift, putting down (well…hanging up) my current project that has been my obsession for about 6 weeks so that I could finish the project that is supposed to be installed on September 7. I can’t really guess how much time it will take to make (although sometime around the 6th I should have a good idea, right? One would hope…), because it’s not something I normally do. It’s just all about sewing strips on over and over and over. It would help if I weren’t exhausted most nights, or if I didn’t have 17 other things to do, like type up rosters and figure out who my low language learners are, or even who my resource kids are (that was a bit of a surprise, I must say. I kinda like teaching the first week not knowing that, because I had pegged 7 OTHER kids as resource…OK, no, one I was sure about…and now I’m having to seriously rethink). ANYWAY. School sucks up your brain. My brain.

But I was trying to fall asleep last night…went to bed early (not much) because I was so tired, and then couldn’t get my brain to stop trying to figure out the final construction of this piece, because honestly, I don’t have to do that step if I run out of time. It will still do what I want it to do if the edges are not finished. If there’s no batting. It will still work. So I should worry less about that and more about how to find a bunch of hours and a burst of energy to get this thing done.

I should admit that I had a union training after school yesterday, so I didn’t even get home until 7, so I should stop being growly at myself for not recovering sooner. It’s true I didn’t start until 10, but it’s not like I wasn’t doing anything. I had rosters to do etc. and then I had to eat.

So I kept going on the hand I’d already started, heading up the arm.

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The biggest problem with this is that it’s unwieldy. I finally cut the arm away from the body, because it was easier to sew it that way, but the majority of the rest of it is sitting in my lap. And it will be seriously heavy too. Fabric is heavy. So I tossed a bunch of lighter fabrics in the mostly blue range onto that table and I sewed the one arm until I ran out of them. Then I debated in my head whether to pick another bunch and continue up the arm or whether to start the other hand, since they’ll both be hanging down together and I want them to be similar, but not the same.

I decided to sew the other hand using the same pile of fabric, and when I’d finished those, I could continue up the arm.

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I didn’t get very far until I realized how tired I was. So I didn’t get super far. Sigh. Yes, I went to bed before midnight. A shocker.

Here’s the two so far together…

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That’s about an hour and 20 minutes worth of work (which included pulling all the fabrics). OK. Seventeen feet of torso and legs to go. Plus the rest of the arms. And some of it will be much fussier than this. There’s a hole in the middle plus there’s boobs and I don’t know if I want to make that obvious. I think I do. But I’m not sure how I’m going to do that.

My plan is to come home tonight and just sew (except I really need to remember to eat at a reasonable hour). There’s a work gathering at a bar, but I will just get more tired and will get nothing done. Plus I’m not in the mood. I’d like to see how much I can get done if I come home (after one or two errands) and just sew for 4 or 5 hours. I need to see that I can get a considerable amount done if I focus. I know I’m stressed about this because my eyelid has been twitching again.

It would be a lot easier to do all of this if it weren’t so hot in the house, I have to say. Oh well. Heat does suck energy out of you too.

I’m going to be a much happier camper when this thing is done. I hope it looks OK. Then I can get my butt in gear on the other one. Which also might make my eyelid twitch. So I’d like to see a significant part of this sewn down, at least to the belly, including both arms and the head, by the end of the weekend. See. I set a goal. Let’s see what I do with it.

17 Towels Stuffed in a Hamper

August 25, 2015

It’s official. I’m living all by myself for the first time in 26 years. You know how I know? I had popcorn for dinner. Ok, now just to clarify, I got home from Boston at like 10:30 at night San Diego time, which was really 1:30 AM Boston time, and I ate “dinner” at Logan Airport before I left but that was at 3:30 PM Boston time and then a fruit and cheese plate on the plane at 7:15 PM Boston time, and then I got home and I was hungry but because my body has no clue what time zone it’s in or when I should eat. Plus I kept forgetting to eat in Boston. So there’s that. This morning, I am eating breakfast like a good girl and I have prepared a lunch of whatever was left in the fridge that had not grown mold or gone bad in some other stomach-twisting way. So yeah. That’s cheese, crackers, and kiwi. It’s a fruit and cheese plate!

The cats missed me. Maybe the dog did. The ex and I are still sharing custody of her. Yeah. Whatever. I’m home more during the week and they would miss each other if they didn’t hang out. So she lives here and goes to Daddy on weekends. You can be sure I will inherit all vet appointments, but he will clean her ears out and bathe her and take her for walks. It’s on my list to take her for walks.

I managed to keep it together when I said goodbye to the girlchild. It was OK. I had already cried all over eastern Boston area, from Home Depot to Target, to Bed Bath and Holy Hell What Don’t They Sell Here (one BBB had a mini Cost Plus inside it?!). She hugged hard and I held onto the tears until I got about 2 minutes down the road. It’s really unsafe to drive while crying by the way, but I’ve perfected it over the years. I cry more in the car than anywhere else.

Certainly the whole thing makes you re-evaluate your entire life. I really don’t need that much pressure right now, though, because it’s the 4th day of school and I’m only semi-prepared for the week.

I do have college dorm pictures. Oh so exciting, right? When you look around at your own personal space and realize how far away from that you are, then yes…yes it is. Girlchild is in a triple…should be interesting. So those will have to come later, when I have time to deal with them.

By the way, I have no idea what’s going on with the first picture on the last post. I’ll have to try to fix that later too. They both came from the phone camera app in exactly the same way…no idea why WordPress had an issue. I did draw on the plane both ways and in the room on the last night there. I wasn’t thinking too hard about drawing…just wanted to get pen on paper. I don’t think I’d drawn all summer, except finishing up the cats (what cats? I haven’t done any cats. Shhh. Maybe no one will notice that they are still piles of Wonder Under that have been cut out.) and the drawing for the big quilt I’m ironing now. So it was kind of a relief to fill up a few pages. Very meditative. In fact, my meditation app prompted me in the middle of the plane flight, and I thought, this is the perfect place to meditate, but then I drew instead. Ah, priorities.

So mom, you’ll have to wait another day (or so) to see dorm pictures (yes, she’s stalking me, but for a reason), but here’s what I drew on the plane…

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In keeping with the Mother Earth where the plants are covering her. I like it. I could make this into a smaller quilt. In my spare time.

Speaking of quilts, Mammogram got into the Interpretations: Celebrating 30 Years exhibit that will be at the Visions Art Museum opening in October.

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They have been good to me. No censorship there (that I’ve seen). Impressive. I should be at the opening; stop by and see my giant boob.

Really, it’s hard to miss the kids. I just found 17 towels stuffed in the bathroom hamper and a bunch of the girlchild’s socks. I wonder if she wants them.


Death of an Iron…

August 22, 2015

Yup. Killed it. I’m sitting there last night, trying to finish up the last of this damn piece, at least get it ironed together before I fly out, and it won’t stay hot. I can put my hand fully on it…it’s warm, but it’s not making anything stick. 

This is not good. I manage to shake it around like a mariachi, and it clicks on again. And then off. Oh you bastard. I am so close to finishing. 

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I think Kitten did it. 

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The head has buildings coming out of it. With a million windows. Each. 

I fought the iron for a good long time.

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But I did manage to finish ironing the buildings. 

The pieces in that box are all that’s left. Seriously.

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I was so frustrated last night. And I knew I had to get up early to get on a plane. Here she is, almost done.

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Boychild left last night, and I’m typing the last of this in a Boston hotel…exhausted. But we got here pretty easily. Boychild’s flight was on time for once, but they left his luggage behind in Newark for space reasons. Don’t think he has clothing, but he has deoderant and a computer. 

We are in a room with a mini-kitchen, but there are no dishes, not even a cup in the bathroom. Bizarre. The paper cups the front desk gave me are burning in the microwave. 

We went to dinner and then drove around campus. Then we found a grocery store. Right now, we are just vegging out on our beds, complaining about how tired we are when it’s actually three hours earlier. I should be wide awake. It’s amazing how travel kicks your butt.

I read and drew on the plane (and honestly, I napped too). I’m getting almost nothing done this weekend except depositing the girl. And that’s ok.

Reworking the Goal

August 21, 2015

Goood Mooorning El Cajon! Ugh. The tired! I went to bed “early” last night. OK, not really so early, but I started moving towards bed and closing windows and crap BEFORE midnight. That’s how you know I’m tired. I’m missing the third day of school because I’m taking the girlchild to college, so I had to write sub plans, and I basically revised my entire plan last night, because it wasn’t going to work. It may STILL not work, but I’m at the healthy point of No Care. Worst case, the kids lose a day of instruction early in the year. Imagine how we feel if we get sick the week before state testing? Anyway, so that took some time yesterday and so did the girlchild panicking about luggage space (I was allotted a 10″x3″ space in one of the suitcases for my clothes…luckily Boston is warm right now, so all I need is a bikini.). I let boychild manage that (seriously, I don’t need to be involved in ALL the freakouts). He seems to be mostly packed. He hasn’t asked me to ship anything yet, so we’re good.

Today I will have to be very focused and get lots of prep done so when I get back, I can function, for some definition of the word function.

But the quilt…the quilt is almost ironed together. I really didn’t want to stop last night, but I was so tired that I knew I had to. I had already had an ironing incident (easily fixed). I finished up the bits on the hand that I didn’t get done the night before, and then did the tiny bird. His OW speech bubble is done too, although it’s not here…it’s in the box.

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If you haven’t picked up on it yet, the other figure is all about Mother Nature and Mother Earth and natural stuff. This one is obviously about population and civilization and pollution and how we damage the earth.

I wanted to finish the face last night, but that just became impossible. I did get the nuclear power plant in on her shoulder, and I got some of the face done…

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But once I got this far, I was going to have to lay out the next 100 pieces to keep going, and I couldn’t even do that. Usually I try to, so that it’s easy to come in the next night and start ironing again (I really don’t like laying them out…it’s boring). But the cool thing is that there’s only two boxes left…the 1700s and the 1800s, and that one isn’t even full. I really am in the last couple of hours here (if you don’t count ironing it down to the background). I’d love to say that’s gonna get done tonight. Really. But one kid flies out tonight and I fly out early tomorrow with the next kid. I think it’ll be a miracle if I get done before I leave, unfortunately. I’m about 24 hours into the ironing. Longer than I thought.

Oh well. Deep breaths. I’ll find a way to get it all done. I may have to rethink my priorities a bit. Maybe.

I think this is going to be a fairly awesome quilt though. It’s coming together nicely. I love watching the picture in my head translate into fabric reality. Now I just need to manage the other piece.

Girlchild came with me to school yesterday and renumbered all my textbooks and labeled all the folders for the kids and put them in color piles and typed up all the rosters (which will all change over the next week or so, but whatever) and put the goggles away and I don’t even remember what else, until I let her come home and start packing. Today is her last day with friends, so I don’t think we’ll see her for 12 hours or more, but that’s OK. At the moment, everything turns into an argument with both kids pretty much, and I’m too tired to seriously censor myself, so it’s better that way. My SIL hears the real complaints. Although after talking to her last night, I now feel like I have a significantly inferior spice-jar setup in my cabinet. I don’t think I care, though. I visually know where they all are. That’s about all I need in my life right now…a generalized idea of where a spice might be. She makes me WANT to care though. We also discussed dishwasher-filling preferences. These are very important conversations (other shit was in there too, of course).

So reworking the goal. Finish ironing the head tonight. Maybe piece the background (wasn’t that Wednesday’s plan? Damn.). Then come back from Boston and iron to backing and stitch down next week. It’s off the machine by Saturday. Then I get that 17-foot human done. In a week. Or so. Where did that panicked breathing come from? Meditate. That too.


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