The Never-Ending Crazy Not-Balance

Normally we’d be going on Spring Break about now. But no. It’s OK. I can handle it. Just three more weeks. It better be just three more weeks. I can almost do that. I just don’t know if my kids can…my students, that is. I’m hoping they can. Me? I look at Spring Break and I see an awesome trip I’ll be on, but I need to finish a quilt before I go and get it photographed, which isn’t an easy task, plus I’ll need to grade as much of the stuff that gets turned in on that last week before we leave on our trip. Ha! Which is somewhat more challenging. And there’s another quilt that needs to be done relatively soon after that, with being gone on a trip, plus going to Boston for the girlchild’s graduation, plus all the other school stuff…it stresses me out to think about all of that, but then there’s travel and life oh yeah and a concert in LA. There are some amazingly good things coming up in the next few months. I just need to survive some of the amazingly stressful things too. As always.

Yesterday, I spent almost 2 hours in traffic to deliver two quilts to a show. It really wasn’t that far…it was the time of day plus rain plus accidents. Then I went to the gym, because my meeting got rescheduled and I hadn’t gone to the gym this week due to crazy night stuff, so that was a good thing because…well…exercise and then also I finished my book! The one that was due back to the library like last week, so that was lame. I can’t keep up. It was Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, and it was interesting…I’ve always loved Kingsolver’s books, but I’d read a review that complained about the politics, and now that I’ve read it, I’m like, um, so you are a regular reader of Kingsolver and you’ve never had an issue with her politics before? Huh. Well. (I didn’t have a problem with it). I liked the two stories in different times of this piece of land and what was around it, some of which ends up being true. The story itself wandered a bit, but I still enjoyed it. It’s definitely political on a minor level, but also deals with climate change, which I consider scientific, not political (mostly because I think the politicians should get out of that argument, due to their incredible ignorance on the subject).

Dinner was super late and I was tired. I brought work home again and did none of it. Seems to be a common problem these days. I will put my health (aka exercise) in front of my job, for sure. And often I put art there too, since it loses out during the day. I did get around to artmaking eventually…

I ironed the heart and all the arteries…plus a tree and a tattoo of sorts. Again, I’m not getting a LOT done each night…but I’m getting some of it done. I’m a little worried about time…there’s three weeks left. That’s it. I’m not as far on this one as I would have liked to be…I have a show to go to tonight, a meeting tomorrow…and a ton of grading that swallows up my time. Plus that meeting will inevitably mean more work. Ha! Sigh. The never-ending crazy not-balance.

I’m still in the 300s…out of 800, although I’ve done a bunch of ironing of the pieces in between, because all the flesh is done. I should remember that and not panic so much. Tonight, I don’t think I will have the time or energy to do any of this. Tomorrow? I will try to make time. I want the ironing done this weekend…I don’t know if that’s possible. Probably not. Who knows.

I came home yesterday after the rain storm to a frantic Golden Retriever who now associates rainfall with thunder, and she hates thunder. I didn’t notice right away, but she had panicked and tore through the bedroom and closet in her distress…

Poor puppy. She tries to hide and pulls everything out in the process. Boychild wasn’t home because he took this one to the vet for her continuing eye issues…

She’s been watching Love, Death & Robots. But she doesn’t have glaucoma. Good to know.

OK, so I need to go to work and manage the kids’ turning work in (hopefully turning it in) and finish grading the last of the giant science unit and finish an independent study contract for a kid who never does work in class so that seems like a total waste of time and go to at least one meeting and do duty and who knows what else will come down upon my head but at the end of the day, I will be standing at a music show for about 3 hours (that ought to be interesting) and then probably collapsing into bed. Bed, sweet bed. You know it’s bad when I just want to go back to bed an hour after I got up.

Art and Sleep

Sitting here this morning, listening to Amanda Palmer’s morning voice ramble. A great way to start the day…

Lately, when I’ve been opening the WordPress app, on the first try, it always says my website refuses to open. REFUSES. Hmm. Like I asked it and it’s like, no, not right now. I don’t wanna. And then I refresh, and it’s like, OK, sorry, I thought you were someone else, here you go. Yes, I attribute even the internet with feelings and thoughts. The entity itself refusing to interact with me. Talk about bringing your job everywhere with you.

It’s OK…my job is my job. It is what it is. It’s not easy most days, but sometimes, there’s just two kids who normally fight you tooth and nail, and for some unknown reason (it was a full moon last night), they sit down and do the work. You have no freakin’ idea why, because it’s the same two that wouldn’t let you fall asleep last night, because you were so worried about how to engage them in a project that was harder than they might be capable of, and then they just do it. I can’t even roll my eyes that far back in my head.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide if I can even finish what I’m working on in time, and the answer is…maybe. But I have to be careful about what else I add into the mix, because everything is taking too long. So that means working every night on it. It won’t get done if I don’t. Last night was tiring…I came home from a lot of walking and questions and helping, and I packed two quilts that need to be delivered today after school…the girlchild’s bed is useful for such endeavors.

Calli was having some post-thunderstorm issues, following me around and panting and staring into corners.

Then I had to drive across town to pick up the ceramics that we painted on Saturday…

Wait. Guess which one is mine…

My friend had never painted ceramics before…so you can’t judge her turtle. You can’t put naked people on a turtle. He looks good. He’ll look even better with a plant in him. I can never have enough mugs. I think. The boychild thinks I have enough.

Then off to book club, where we discussed Borderline by Mishell Baker.

We’ve been reading a lot of books off the Sirens conference list. We all grew up reading so many male authors…and we are a women’s reading group, so it only makes sense that we gravitate toward female or other-gendered authors. Baker has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and she writes a character in a fantasy novel who has the same disorder. There were things I liked about this book: the interactions between people in the house specifically. I’m not a huge fan of urban fantasy though, and this one was set in Hollywood, so that’s not my fun place either. The rest of book club mostly liked it though, so maybe you should listen to them! I’d give it a solid 3 or 4 out of 5. It was well written…so that’s a plus. I think I fall more solidly in the sci fi realm for books though.

After that, it was late and I was tired. I sat here for a bit…

With these guys. That was nice. But eventually the art brain kicked me off the couch, into the studio. I didn’t iron for long…too tired. But I got the things in the sky ironed…so a spaceship, a rocket (missing one piece on that), some clouds, raindrops, and the stars…they’re all done. It doesn’t sound like much. It isn’t much. It’s something though. I’m hoping to have more energy tonight. Ha! Thursday night. What a joke.

But there’s the pile…

Didn’t even organize those fabrics afterwards. Sleep was nice. More tonight. Art and sleep.

When You’re Quiet, I’ll Start…

Yesterday was loooooong. At the end, there was art. I used to really only make art during breaks from school, a little bit during school, but mostly when I had time off. But it got more and more necessary that I make art during the teaching months, and now, I’d better be doing something every night or I get antsy, irritable (ha! more than usual), totally cranky. Sometimes that means I get behind in grading, but I figure I’ll catch up eventually. I was at work yesterday from 7:45-4:45, worked through lunch, did a meeting before school and tutoring after…but I didn’t grade when I got home, because by the time I went to the chiropractor and Costco and came home and did a bunch of tasks, ate dinner, finished the binding and sleeves on that giant quilt I started in freakin’ December (yes! a finish in 2019!), washed the dishes, made breakfasts for the rest of the week (fucked that up majorly), and calendared the evening (it was past 9:30 pm) by then…I wasn’t gonna grade anything. Oh yeah, I forgot 30 minutes on the stationary bike so I could actually eat something for dinner, because the diet program is convinced if I don’t eat, I’ll lose weight. Well DUH. Not happening.

Seriously though…I brought grading home and I’m taking it back to school undone. I’m gonna have to be one efficient motherfucker at school the next three days and get through it there. I couldn’t get anything done yesterday due to having to fill out a million psych forms on kids and getting a couple of independent study contracts together, plus monitoring a bunch of kids NOT reading directions during a lab. But mostly standing there, patient as a…well…a teacher…waiting for them to stop talking. When you’re quiet, I’ll start…I can stand here for hours. I do it every day. My stubbornness knows no bounds. I have 52 years of stubborn. You lose.

It’s not really a game of win or lose. That’s the fun part with teaching middle school. It’s not even what they learn, because often they come back and it’s what they remember…this crazy lab, or mostly because I teach sex ed at the end of the year, that’s what they remember me for (for better or worse)…it really is just about those who could tell you cared about them, even when you were mad at them constantly (especially then). Which reminds me, I need to check in with another teacher about a kid who’s driving me nuts, and it’s the end of the day and he’s a challenge, and that’s part of my problem. I need a plan.

Sometimes the biggest positive with making the art is that it shuts up the teacher brain so I can stop worrying about how much I have to do, or about this or that kid…I can just be in my head with something I feel successful about. And that doesn’t usually stress me out…until I have to be packing stuff up or shipping it out (tonight).

Last night, from 10:30 on, it was all about the sky…

The twelve different colors of the sky. That was fun. But complicated to iron…I needed lots of space to do those long skinny pieces.

Here’s the colors so far. I told you it would get more colorful!

What’s next in ironing? Hmmm. I think the things in the sky, like the rocket and spaceship…and then maybe the sun? No, it’s probably the things in the torso, like the heart, lungs, etc. Those are fun. More colors. I have book club tonight, but before and after, I’ll get some shit done and then iron some more. It’s coming. Faster than the last one. I think the plan is to do the big quilts over breaks and the smaller ones in the Spring, when I have little patience but need a lot of art time in which to recover. But I also need successes. Lots of them. Yup. Lots of that and hikes in nature and books to read and exercise of all sorts.

Today though? Today is rain and trying to get kids on task while getting stuff graded. I can do that. Maybe.

“You’ve Been in the House Too Long” She Said*

You know how exercise is supposed to help you sleep? Hmm. Me too. I know that. I don’t always have that experience, but I know it’s supposed to. Last night. Sheesh. No rest. I don’t know if my brain was the issue or my body (my neck really needs the chiropractor, which is tonight, unless I forget again, which is what got me in trouble in the first place)…the dog needed to pee at around 4:30 AM; that was fun. I just don’t know anything but that I was awake a lot for such a short period of time of sleep. I went to bed too late because I was ironing the flesh colors down and I like doing that in one fell swoop, but then I had to be up early for a meeting (ugh). You might have noticed that I don’t like early. I don’t. And I was really tired yesterday after the dog walk…it took me a long while to rally.

The plus is that the kids were much better at labs yesterday, thus saving me from sacrificing one (or ten) of them to the science teacher goddess. Let’s hope that continues. The staff meeting was short and sweet. Also a blessing. Well, not sweet, but certainly not as onerous as some of them are.

Mondays are for dog walks…when I don’t have 2-hour meetings and no daylight. We haven’t been here for a while, maybe a month…the first part of the trail is still underwater…

No biggie…we go around. Although there were ducks swimming in it…and tadpoles growing in it (OK, they’re really hard to see in here, but they’re gray-ish and pretty large).

Is this a quilt blog? Well, sort of. Quilters should go on walks and get inspired.

Still green and bloomy…although not superbloomy here…the dogs still like it…

I just like to get out and exercise…

The wildflowers make it good too though…

It’s like this annual fascination with Spring…

Every year I’m like OMG, look! There’s flowers!

Some sort of renewal in the brain brought on by the weather. Honestly, these flowers are easier to think about than job stress, weight loss, the shooting in Christchurch, the flooding in Mozambique, the idiocy of my elected officials.

Yup. Flowers. And a good long walk after work.

For some reason, the puppy doesn’t like this hike as much as the others. He fights it until we turn back toward the car, and then he’s fine…

Although we took another side trip up to see the vernal pool…which was huge!

And had those other big fat tadpoles, but also these tiny ones…

Makes me wonder where all the frogs are most of the time…

There’s glass up there…that’s why he’s carrying the pup. So he doesn’t get glass in his toes from the dumbasses who break their beer bottles up there. It’s nature, but the town is right there. And people are stupid.

They kept following me around when we got home…although I think this was following someone else around.

After the walk, I did some photo editing for work, some scanning for embroidery designs, some business paperwork, some email…picked colors for this one…

I have a really hard time seeing what they will look like without stitching them out. That’s soon, I guess.

After some flailing time, some braindead time, I finally persuaded my old tired body into the studio for this…picking flesh.

It’s really much easier to do all the fleshy bits in one go, so I did. It was pieces from the 100s through the 800s, so I have no idea how much I actually did…at least 100 pieces, I suspect. I have one piece of the cheek that I couldn’t find, so I’ll need to retrace that tonight.

Fitting pieces together. I don’t like to waste fabric.

Somewhat obsessive about that. Here’s where I’m at so far…

Not a whole lot of color yet. Wait until I do all the other stuff…bugs and sky and heart and hair…it’ll have lots of color then. I fell asleep to imagining the hair all the colors of nature. Which is good, because that’s what this quilt is about…my need to be outside for a little bit every day, for longer when I can. This week will be a mishmash of finding that space, for sure…too many meetings. So I’m glad I got yesterday’s walk in.

OK…meeting, school (last day of labs hallelujah), tutoring, chiropractor (oh holy moley my back and neck will be so happy), and then whatever else I can handle before I iron again. It’s a good plan.

*The Smiths, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

Revel In It…

The weather was truly beautiful this weekend…hints of warmth, but cool enough that you might need a sweater at times. Beautiful blue skies, birds singing everywhere, some wispy clouds in the sky…definitely Spring-like. I wish I’d spent more of it outside, but that was the way the weekend went.

I had a huge mess going on in the office/studio…

So I spent time on Saturday trying to get it under control.

I can’t start ironing for a new quilt without putting everything away…I stacked up all the loose fabrics by color and started organizing…

Kitten did not help…

She never does.

Then I went off to meet a friend for pottery painting…and wine…

Very relaxing…came back home and headed out for dinner. There really is no excuse for making my wine green.

Seriously. It wasn’t even St. Patrick’s Day. We came home and put a movie on and I tried to bust out this monster binding that I have not been working on…

I realized I hadn’t finished a quilt yet this year, and that never happens. It’s March! I should finish something. So I’m going to. But not Saturday night…Satchemo was so happy to have both of us on the couch…

He can be a very needy beast.

Now it’s ready for ironing. That table is clear, the ironing board is clear…pretty good.

But there were things to grade and stuff to do…here’s where I sat down and figured out the week…

Someone should clear off the table…again.

Eggshell pieces on the front porch…I haven’t seen any expectant parents around there…

Who knows what happened.

So we had a play to go to in the afternoon, but I wanted all this ready to go for when I came back…drawing hung, boxes of pieces ready to sort.

Background fabric ready to match…oh wait, after dinner, more stitching…

I finished all the binding and one sleeve…just one to go. This thing is huge. Then I graded for a while. I can’t NOT grade right now. Finally though! Into the studio and sorted the first hundred pieces…

It’s all dirt and rocks…

I made a run of 8 for the dirt, plus some other stuff that was in there…roots and a hole or two. Then on to the rocks…

Five different grays for the rocks…

I made it through most of the first 100 pieces…only 700 to go.

I guess I can hope I’ll be done ironing by the weekend. I think it’s unlikely, due to three nights out this week…but I can hope. This is one of my favorite parts, that’s for sure. So I’m going to be putting in some hours on it.

Kitten guarding my space…

But first, I’m going to school and hopefully having a much better day than Friday. Because I might notionally in my head sacrifice someone to the science goddess otherwise. Not really. But seriously, they can’t be as braindead as they were on Friday (sure, they could be worse…). Deep breaths. Positive thoughts. It’s still a gorgeous day. Revel in it.

Hike It Off

Saturday morning girlchild infusion. Nice start to the day. I was thinking about her. She’s applying for jobs and will probably end up staying back East, committing for up to two years. I miss her. It’s a long way away.

Meanwhile, the boychild and I dragged the dogs up Cowles Mountain (in the case of the old lady dog, it really was hard for her at some point, although she’ll never stop).

An actual stream crossing the path up Cowles…don’t know that I’ve seen water up there before.

I don’t hike Cowles a lot any more…too many people. But we had daylight and it was the 2nd walk of the week, so the boy wanted to do something different.

And the weather was gorgeous, a little chilly with a breeze, but beautiful blue skies. Lots of flowers, although not as many as our regular dog hike…

I need to find a way to get out to the desert in the next two weeks.

Rest time! Calli was tired. Tried to get her to drink water, but she fights it.

She’s an old lady. Stubborn as hell.

Getting outside is the best medicine for a day that became more stressful than I thought it would. Two classes of not-listening. Just keep talking instead of hearing the instructions. Can’t read instructions. OK. Then don’t do the lab. Watch the table next to you. Don’t get mad at ME for your shit. Hopefully Monday will be better. Two more days of labs.

It’s not just my classes…it’s across the board in our grade level. At some point, schools might learn that testing on top of testing on top of Daylight Savings on top of the counseling program that didn’t seem to do much for MY kids is not a good plan. Plus normally Spring Break would be right around the corner…and it’s a LONG way away. Why do we pin these things to religious holidays? I don’t understand.

The water they wouldn’t drink…

Up at the top finally. More resting for the old lady.

The dog. I was OK. I don’t like stopping. My muscles complain.

There’s a migrating butterfly in this picture. Can you see it?

There weren’t a lot, but they were hard to photograph…never stopping. At the top, on the way down…

It wasn’t longer than what we usually do. It was just more up.

I’m glad I did it though…even though I have a shitload of other things to do this weekend. I came home and graded one assignment while this guy zonked out…

The old lady too. It was after 11 PM when I finally set everything up for sorting…

But it didn’t take very long. I’m hoping to start ironing today…but I do have other things I need to do as well. Efficiency! Ugh. Shower, breakfast, then clean up in here so I have some chance of getting to the ironing. Then grade some stuff if I have time before the social stuff and a few errands. I don’t know what’s planned for tonight, but I’m sure it will involve food. Food is good. Maybe art too. Hard to say. Although I do need a relaxing weekend, I don’t see one in the near future…so I’m trying to sprinkle life with some relaxing things in between the stressful have-tos.

This morning, Calli woke me up because Kitten stole her bed.

I think this is funny. And I hate brown carpet.

Art today, somehow.

Louder and More Demanding, But Not More Important

Yikes. I think I added three meetings to my schedule just last night…and the weekends are full already I think. And grades! Deep breaths again. It’s funny (not funny) how in just 24 hours I can go from feeling like I might have things under control to kind of a crazy feeling of impending doom. I have too much to do. Next week is no different. The meetings, the list of things that need to be done, the pile of grading (it’s a real pile at school…a notional one here at home, with so much on the computer)…and two different things going on this weekend. I can see why I let exercise slip for a while last year. I’m back on that horse…but it’s time. Time is always the issue.

So I have a plan for the day. Get as much done at school as I can. Come home and walk the dogs. They wanted me to yesterday, but I wanted to go to the gym…so I did. They got their yard time at the other house, so they were fine. They just are so funny…following me around, looking for dog-walk-prep hints. Is she changing her clothes? Is she carrying socks? Which shoes does she have? It must be a walk. And then it’s just the gym and they are sad. They really should be able to tell from the socks and shoes.

Then after I walk them today (because it’s something I need just as much as they do), I can grade an assignment…and then I’m going to sort the Wonder Under, because I did finish cutting yesterday. It took an extra two hours…

So that’s a little over 6 hours total. Not bad. Sorting will take about an hour, and then I’ll check existing fabrics in my stash for a background…most of this quilt is covered with pieces, so there’s no need to worry about a fancy background. It will mostly be hidden. If I need fabric, I can get it tomorrow. I have a friend thing to do tomorrow, plus I need to pick up that lost quilt (that I found). And grade some more…and hopefully start picking out fabrics. That’s a lot to do in a day. Plus we might need to do grocery shopping Saturday, because we have a thing on Sunday. Yikes. I’m realizing how much I need to get done tonight…if I lose Sunday. Stress.

But first, a meeting this morning, a lab all day (oh dear), plus as much grading as I can get done during the day. I didn’t grade last night…I took a night off. I always feel bad when I do that, because it makes me feel more behind. But I”m going to be behind no matter what. I need to find a way to be at peace with my crazy overwhelming life. If I stop going to the gym and hiking and making art, I’ll have time for my job. But my job isn’t more important than those things. It’s louder and more demanding, but it’s not more important.