Now War Is Declared, and Battle Come Down*

August 19, 2017

First Saturday attempt to sleep in after school officially starts. Pseudo fail. Puppy bark. Cats cleaning butts. Neighbors banging doors. Today’s list is a mile long. That’s what got me out of bed…the to-do list. What’s new?

I had some serious artbrain meltdown last night. I’m still not sure I’m past it. This drawing is just so difficult. I often work in symbols or metaphors. I don’t always draw an actual event, but sometimes the effects of the event, or I hide the issues in tattoos or the objects someone holds or wears. It’s easy enough to tell a story with words, but I also tell them with pictures. This story is so easy to tell with words…it’s one most of us teachers know at the moment, but it’s harder to show. But I’m trying. I don’t know if I’m happy with it though. I almost pulled the whole thing apart last night and started over. That’s rare. But it wasn’t working.

I did this first…played ball until they were both tired…

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Then I did a green feather stitch over the orange one in the bottom left…

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And all that was after working on school stuff for about 2 hours, finding all the student photos and trying to print them and going to buy a new color ink cartridge and I still need to print the damn things.

Finally, after all that, I stood up (feet recovered…I think I need new shoes. My arches are killing me by the end of the day) and headed to the drawing. This is near the end…the wine didn’t come out until after 11:30 PM. I did a bunch of stuff in pencil before going to ink, which was good, because I changed my mind about three thousand times.

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Pencil first, vague lines showing where shit should go. I don’t use pencil most of the time. But this thing isn’t fully coalesced in my head, so I have to see it somewhere first. This is probably how most people draw.

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Then ink. I’m trying to keep it simple. It’s big. It can’t be super complicated. I won’t get it done in time.

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Says the woman who just drew octopus tentacles.

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I didn’t want to fight violence with violence. I write that as my daughter is considering going to the protests in Boston. One part of me wants to tell her not to go, but I’m fully aware that we need to stand up and not be afraid in the face of this crazy shit that’s happening. If I were the mother of a child of color, I would be terrified all the time of sending my child out in the world. As a mother of a white kid, I still get scared…they’re adults, but I worry about them. But they have privilege; this means they and I have to be willing to stand up against all the racist, sexist, and what’s the word for being anti-religions that aren’t your own? All that. So I tell her to be safe, stay with a big group, stay away from cars. Stop drop and roll. Whatever. Because it’s not a safe world we live in and we want it to be better for everyone. Even the dumbasses who think fascism and terrorism are acceptable. Maybe if enough faces are staring back at them that mirror their own, without the anger against others, maybe then some part of their brains will start to turn against what’s in there right now, stop blaming others for their lives not being golden and amazing. I know that’s unlikely. There’s no magic answer.

So octopus tentacles. Nature fights back. Symbols. I won’t shoot. I won’t pick up a gun. I won’t lynch someone or kick them out of the country or tie them up or drag them behind a car or mow them down with one. I won’t fight a war. I won’t launch a nuclear missile. I won’t hit or kick or punch. I say that, but if someone were coming after my students…I would. I’d throw things at them. I’d trip them up. I’d bodyslam them. So there’s that.

Anyway. More of the drawing today, I hope. I really am hoping that when it’s all done, it’s what I want. It will work. If not, maybe I will start again. It’s rare that I do that at this stage, the full-size drawing stage…but I do redraw at the smaller stage pretty often. We’ll see.

*The Clash, London Calling


Just a Simple Flower so Small and Plain*

August 18, 2017

I don’t really know how to start. I think that’s just Friday morning first week of school tiredness, the tired that makes you yearn for a Saturday-morning lie-in. Just sleeping in until you’re not tired any more (it’s rare that it happens, but it does). Self care for teachers is hard, even harder when you have family at home who don’t realize you spent all day talking and walking and making decisions and remembering stuff well above and beyond a normal day. I do have that…but they’re all furry. With both kids gone and me at school every day, they are all suddenly very needy. VERY needy. I understand that. I am also needy. Unfortunately, no one is filling that need at the moment. Well, there’s something nice about a furry beast right next to you. And petting them is nice. Until the black one bites.

I don’t know if you can see them all…one dog on the right, one by my left foot, and then a black cat on the other side. Just before I took this, the black cat was snugged right up against me, because it’s August? And she’s cold? Nah. She misses the other humans.

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She’s the biter.

Simba eventually moved a little further away from me. Only a little though.

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Calli had her head on my foot for a while.

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Right now, Kitten is on the chair behind me. So there’s some furry interaction that needs to happen. Although I walked the dogs earlier this week, I haven’t had the energy since then. It’s on my mind for tonight, but I will need to find some additional energy reserves to pull that off. Maybe I will just sit in the hallway and throw balls for the dogs to chase.

So yesterday was Day 2 of school, and I came home and collapsed on the couch. Again. I hate feeling that tired. I think I achieved flatness, like a melting scoop of ice cream. Too tired to hold myself in a seated position. I remember thinking about getting a deli sandwich before quilt class…I have a coupon, but it has to be used before 6 PM. I could buy it then and eat it later. I would just have to leave about 20 minutes early. Um no. Did not manage that. I do have leftovers in the fridge, but I forgot that thing where I get tired of eating the same thing for almost every meal. Ugh. Learning curve. I should cook all summer and freeze it all up for the first month of school.

I did finally get up though and sew some strips together. Obviously the next quilt is not ready to be moved around. It doesn’t even really exist. I don’t draw in front of people much, certainly not at this stage, so I figured I would just work on the Folk Tails quilt blocks. I even sewed the two sheep blocks together finally. Then I remembered the birds. They need a border. So I grabbed the stem fabric and sewed the strips together and found all the bits and pieces and even some sewing thread that matched, and I went to my quilt meeting. I managed to pin the stem strips on in some semblance of the correct place (wonky is good), and started to sew.

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Hanging out with humans is often recommended for people like me. The furry beasts are fine, but humans respond a little bit more coherently. Although one of them is also currently teaching (the other two are retired teachers), and she was even more incoherent than I was.

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I made it around two corners, I think, but only on one side of the strip. So I’ll have to go around a second time. It’s not hard, but it will take some time. You’d think I’d come home from quilt class and get right to work on that drawing from yesterday? But no.

I never did get that sandwich, so I started dinner, and then I tried to spend some time with the last bit of cleaning in the bedroom. I found all these pieces for an applique quilt that I haven’t worked on in years…I’m not even sure where the current block is or how many blocks are left. I know I have a lot done. You know how that works? You get close and then never finish? That’s like half the quilt blocks on eBay. Someone died and never finished and their heirs want nothing to do with it. I have a bunch like that unfortunately. They’re all somebody else’s design. I don’t usually not finish art quilts though. I have a couple that are not finished. One that is finished that I don’t like. At all. But mostly I finish them.

I’ve been watching a lot of British television this week while vegging out…River, which was good, Doctor Foster, which was OK, and just started The Bletchley Circle, which I like so far. I’ve been binge watching while doing art stuff all summer. I can’t always watch stuff, like when I’m quilting. But in the drawing and tracing stages, it works. Thank goddess for Netflix, right?

I did the zigzag chain stitch in the bottom right.

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I can’t really focus on filling in at the moment apparently. So I keep doing something else on the edge.

Kathy on school (girlchild and I were snapchatting on location)…it’s my new 7th period prep, where I have literally no brain power to do anything.

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Anyway. So there’s a damn good chance I’m gonna come home tonight and still have no energy to draw or even sew the rest of that green stem on. Oh well. It’s not the end of the world. It will get done. I just need to get some rest and adjust to the new shit. I’m disappointed that my school district is not letting us take kids out for the eclipse on Monday. Some liability issue. But I have a distinct and strong memory of one eclipse in elementary school, going outside with our pinhole papers and watching the eclipse happen. I’m not happy that I’m going to miss it either. This just sucks…here’s science right here, right now, exciting stuff happening, and we have to sit inside and watch it on the NASA feed. It’s unreal. It’s so contrary to what they always tell us to do in science, to give them experiences so they can discover shit. Not on the screen! Ah. Well. How can I sneak out during 4th period to see it? Figuring that out.

*Gillian Welch, Acony Bell


Shed Our Skin*

August 17, 2017

The first day of school is always exhausting, even when you don’t talk as much as you used to. Really. I try to talk way less than I used to. They don’t need to hear me all the time. They need space to hear what’s in their own heads and process it. I also got the opportunity to hear what they thought a good science teacher was…interesting. It gave me the opportunity to tell them that HELP doesn’t mean giving them the answers. It’s good that they’re hearing that on the first day.

I’m having to adjust my eating schedule to my new prep period, which is proving difficult. I think I’ll get used to it eventually, but I’m not there yet. And honestly, the real test is today, when I’m too tired and nauseous in the morning to want to eat a decent breakfast. I won’t make it to lunchtime if I don’t eat, but I don’t want anything right now. I will figure it out. Just not this morning (why I buy a few Evol breakfast things for the freezer…I’ll take it with me and hopefully be able to stomach it before the bell rings).

I managed to remember to bring my sketchbook with me to school, though…not so I could draw naked things during my prep (although I had a year when I did that, because everything else was so painful and I needed a place to park the depressive thoughts midday)…but so I could go enlarge the drawing of the head. Normally I do 250-300%, but this is already big, so I went for 200% instead. I copied the meditation angel that I finished as well, but I don’t know when I’ll have time to work on it.

When I got home, I succumbed to exhaustion. Even napped for the requisite 20 minutes (I was reading and fell asleep…I never used to fall asleep while reading. Proof of aging.). Literally couldn’t barely move off the couch for about 2 1/2 hours. It’s OK. It gets better. I just tell you that because of all the people who think I work relentless hours. Well maybe, but I have my exhausted moments too. It takes will power to get off the couch and work at 9 PM.

I finally ate dinner (hallelujah for leftovers) and was able to stand up and cut shit out. Actually, I did this first…

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Orange feather stitch on the bottom left.

Then I took Tuesday night’s drawing and attached it to the drawing from early summer.

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I got rid of the other incorrect bullet. I also started adding paper around the two pieces for what I’m seeing in my head. I don’t want her to be too huge or I won’t be able to finish her. I don’t want to talk about what I’m thinking yet either. This is a difficult concept for me to make obvious in a drawing. In fact, it may not end up being obvious at all. But I know what’s in my head and ideas are now trickling in about how to make it. It even has a title already. But not sharing yet. Still drawing. Probably will be for a few more days. Being tired doesn’t help. More standing after standing all day. Anyway. The hardest part is that the drawing is emotionally difficult, and then I’ve been watching all these British dramas that are kind of dark and difficult as well.

I guess it’s difficult times in which we live. Not as difficult as say the Dark Ages, but still. Not sure Netflix helps…binge watching is not always a good thing.

Calli sleeps through it all. She occasionally comes over and noses me for attention. Simba sleeps right next to me when I take breaks on the couch (feet hurt). Midnight too. Kitten was antisocial last night. Not sure why.

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I’m feeling kinda lost by the kids being gone. I know they’ll be back in 124 days or so though (ah, apps…there is no mystery any more, is there?). But I miss them. And at some point, they won’t come back. That’s hard to think about.

I need to be finishing up the house tasks that didn’t get done over the summer (there are always many of them), but there’s no energy for that this week. Maybe Saturday. You know it’s bad when you can’t even pick up a needle or a pen. Well, for me, that’s really bad. I don’t just sit and watch TV unless I’m sick or exhausted.

Better next week. It will be.

*Ivy, Edge of the Ocean


Both of Us Searching for Some Perfect World*

August 16, 2017

Today is the official start of the school year…you know, the part where you realize on the first day that (a) you are woefully unprepared, even after 14+ years of teaching and (b) that kid who is already annoying will never ever ever be absent. I met and freaked out my first student yesterday. He shook my hand. That’s nice. No really, it is. In general, I really like my students, even the truly annoying ones. When they ask if I missed them, I say “Every day.” Well. Not for all of them. I am brutally honest with some of them, but once they’ve been with me all year, they would expect nothing less. But today…today I just mispronounce about 140 names and try to start memorizing faces. Honestly, though, if I remember a kid’s name on the first day, they were highly notable in one of a few ways, none of them probably good. I do forget them over time, though. I always tell the kids there will be someone else like them in the next year, so one of my old students that showed up yesterday wants me to introduce her to The New Her. Because she thinks they can be friends. I love that. Not upset that she’s not supremely unique…just wants to make friends with herself.

Anyway, we try to start every year with the right positive mindset, to make sure the stuff that always drives us bonkers won’t do that this year (ever hopeful)…meditation and mindfulness has been incredibly helpful with this, although I still honestly suck at it, I think.

I did good yesterday. My room is mostly done…

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I’ve got more fussy bits to do, adding pictures and putting labels on folders. Fun stuff.

And then I went to pick up my quilt from the photographer…I’m still debating the name.

Fiber Artist Kathy Nida

As always, they’re better in person.

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What’s also better is finishing it three weeks before the deadline…

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Mostly because there’s a deadline right after it…

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It’s the smallest and least complicated quilt I’ve made in many a summer. Evidence that the summer was large and complicated.

Made dinner and did two nights’ worth on this…the green feather stitch and red double lazy daisies on the top.

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With both kids gone, I have a lot of animal interaction…

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She knocks everything else off, but generally leaves my teacup alone.

So I have the next deadline. The drawing has one part done. It’s been enlarged and has been sitting around since the beginning of summer, I think. Not that it’s done any good, because honestly, I just throw a bunch of images and shapes and ideas around in my head until it all makes sense. Sometimes I do a bunch of preliminary drawings, just to figure out where my head is going. But last night, I finally sat down with one of the many images in my head and started drawing.

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I got schooled in bullet shape post-shooting, which is fine. I’m actually OK with not knowing what they look like afterwards, but I did change them for the drawing.

This cat has partied too hard.

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And I got to here. I need to enlarge it and combine it with the other piece to figure out what else is going on.

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But by the time I got to that point, the copy place was about to close. I knew I couldn’t get there in time, so I’ll do that after school. The post-it has ideas for what else needs to be on there. Now that I have this, I can try some other stuff out in my head.

So it wasn’t bedtime yet…and this drawing wasn’t done. I think it is now…

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I like how it turned out. She’s way mellower than I feel. Then again, she’s not starting the first day of school in an hour. So hopefully I’ll be drawing again tonight. That’s not a bad place to be.

*Thompson Twins, Hold Me Now


Like It’s Tryna Get Away*

August 15, 2017

I really hate the days when I can’t find the energy to make art. Even if I got a ton of stuff done (I didn’t) and walked a lot of steps (I did) and even walked the dogs (I did) and made dinner from scratch (I did) and the boychild got safely to college with a minimum of delay (he did…only an hour and a half in Detroit), it still feels like I did absolutely nothing yesterday because I couldn’t even pick up my hand and draw. Hell, I didn’t even do the stitch-a-day thing. THAT was too much work. Yes. I went to bed early. That’s how you know you’re old…you can only do one night of almost no sleep before you crash. Apparently 3 hours is my crash point.

My bulletin boards aren’t done. My room is a disaster. A clusterfuck even. I can’t find anything because I had to put it all away in June. I did finally find my phone. At like 3 PM yesterday. I thought someone might have stolen it. Nope. They didn’t. It’s OK. I still have today to try and get my head straight. And it all doesn’t have to be done today. I have time to get some stuff done in the next few days…although it feels better on the first day to be on top of all of it…because it will be the LAST TIME ALL YEAR that you will feel that way. Seriously.

I am wearing my Threads of Resistance t-shirt today. It’s how I feel. Resistant. And maybe it will help.

I’ll photograph my room today. It’s scary right now.

When I got home from school, I took the dogs on a 3-mile hike. We all needed it.

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Not the greatest picture…such a delicate flower.

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I had some issues trying to get both of them to walk together after months of not doing it…especially when I was trying to keep them out of the poison oak.

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Someone left this on the bridge…

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And puppy slept close to me for a long time. Honestly, I didn’t get done with dinner and clean up until 9 or so (not so abnormal)…

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But I couldn’t even pick up a needle or a pen. Hopefully tonight will be better. I forget how exhausting the first week can be. I wish I had a project in a better stage right now, like tracing or cutting…I could probably handle that. But no, I’m in the highly creative phase of two different projects at the moment. OK. Well. Draw tonight. No excuses. My day job doesn’t get to co-opt my favorite job.

*Max Frost, Die Young


(Move out) Don’t Mess Around*

August 14, 2017

So I’m running on about 3 hours of sleep. Woo! I think the boychild is on a plane that took off 5 minutes ago. Unless he fell asleep in the terminal. In which case, um, well, he’ll call eventually, right? Certainly after this morning’s “I’m awake” proclamation that was an obvious lie, I will probably never trust him to be up when he says he is again. Ah well. He obviously does not have the crazy morning adrenaline that his mother, a teacher, has. The alarm goes off? We hit the ceiling running. Or at least stumbling.

Luckily I will be dealing with ZERO kids today. OK, that’s sad in terms of my own children, but it’s a damn good thing there will be no students today, because I’m gonna crash at some point. But before that, I need to get my room set up. I’m mostly ready to go do that, except I need about 5 more cups of tea. British tea. Twice the caffeine.

Anyway. The events in Virginia over the weekend are still on my mind, especially after I saw a few posts that the Alt-Right is planning on taking its idiocy across the country to a wide variety of colleges. I don’t advocate violence. Ever. Well. That’s not true, but we can have that conversation later. I do advocate for about a thousand peaceful protesters who are pro-human to show up and surround Alt-Righters anywhere they think to gather. To stand with signs and stare them down. Photograph them. Tweet their angry faces and Hitler T-shirts. Call Them on Their Shit. I’d advocate for getting them fired, but honestly, that’s just going to add to their feelings of injustice. And trying to brainwash them into consciousness is reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange. “Goodness is something to be chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.” Plus this…

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Although it’s tempting. I just don’t think it would be effective. And I can’t argue that harassment would be either. We don’t like it when the trolls come after female gamers for not having penises…it’s not OK to advocate harassment for the trolls either. I’d like to hear what they have to say, although with Peter Cvjetanovic, it’s not like he makes more sense when he tries to explain himself. Frustrating.

So yeah. I didn’t get much done yesterday. The boy and I tried to get the bedroom straightened up…vacuumed. He packed. Managed to fit it all in his bags (I don’t know how). We ate dinner at the parentals. Facetimed the girlchild. Normal Sunday, I guess. I tried to get some school stuff organized for today and next week. And at the last minute, we tried to migrate everything over to gmail for me. We’ll see if that works. Probably should have done it earlier in the summer so he could troubleshoot it for me. Oh well. I’m not internet stupid most of the time.

I did the feather on the right…the orange was for Saturday (although I did it Sunday) and then I filled in with purple for Sunday…

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Then as I was sitting at the parentals, I worked on the right side of this one…finished the tortoise and the blue flower.

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Then I came home and eventually started drawing her.

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I’ve had ideas about meditation poses for a while this summer. I meant for her to be more upset, but in the end, she wasn’t. I guess that’s a good thing. She’s not done. But I like the shapes. A good start. More drawing. Nope, this isn’t the one I’m supposed to be drawing, but it was all I could handle last night.

It’s always hard when the kids leave. Girlchild was only here for 2 weeks, but boychild’s been home for almost 3 months. Empty nest again. May they stay safe. That might be need to be true for all of us.

*Yazoo, Situation


Land of the Some-of-You-Can-Be-Free

August 13, 2017

Well, America, I’m not very impressed with some of you today. White America especially, some of you are really pissing me off. The thing is, I suspect those who piss me off are probably not reading this blog…because I think that type of person wouldn’t put up with my art either, or my rants. They’re long gone, hiding away in some back-alley private Facebook page, calling me a skanky ho. Well, as long as they spell it right, I’m not bothered by what they call me. I am bothered by their ignorance, their lack of logic (and trust me, I’m not the most logical at times), and their general dumbassery. Their desire to get back whatever they think they’ve lost, to hurt others in the process. As if they have the right to do so. Their hatred. Their need to tear down and break things.

But I’m not sure how to talk to those people. I don’t know how to change the mind of a 20-year-old white male who can’t see his own privilege. I can’t even figure out how to talk to the white folks on my campus who were offended by my students’ anti-bullying and anti-Trump door sign last year. How can you work in my school and espouse the beliefs that you do? I’m like the governor of Virginia…just leave. We don’t want you.

But that doesn’t solve the problem of racism and gender/racial gaps and inequity and what our police would have done if faced with a similar situation except with a less white-washed crowd. It doesn’t solve the problem of how to solve this damn problem! I can’t talk to these people and make any sense of what they say. They feel disenfranchised? Because they’re not better than someone? I’m not sure I care. Except I care that they’re making it worse for the rest of us…no, not just us whitefolks, but everyone else who fills my country. Who make it strong and beautiful and artistic and challenging and entertaining and tasty and sometimes ugly and smelly and warty. I want it to feel safe, not threatened by nuclear war because of stupidity, not mired in fascist Alt-Right idiocy because…shit I don’t even KNOW why. I really don’t.

All I can do is go to school and meet my new mostly refugee and immigrant students, my mostly NOT American-born white students, and teach them how to stand strong and have faith in humanity (some of it anyway) and hopefully some science too. And that not all the white American-born people hate them. Because I don’t. I try not to hate anyone, although a certain orange-faced dickhead certainly gets no kind feelings from me. Or his minions. The ones backpedaling right now as people find them on Twitter or Facebook and out them for their beliefs. Cowards. But even them…I don’t want them hurt. I want them to grow up and change and be more human to ALL humans. I don’t want to kill them or run them over or hang them. OK. Some days I want to put them all on a very hot and dry island somewhere very far away. It’s true. But normally, I don’t want anyone hurt.

It hurts to be an American right now. It shouldn’t. Land of the free, home of the brave. We stole this country, this land, from the First Americans…the least we can do is keep all those who live here safe and give them as much support as we can. Try to make up for previous dumbassery. Try to make it right, best we can. Try to make it better in the future. Starting now.

I finished a quilt yesterday. Post-election, I have focused on women’s rights for a while and now on climate change, although that’s about to change again. There are so many issues that need support. It’s overwhelming sometimes to keep it all in my head. All the quilt needed yesterday was eyeballs…I’d decided not to cut out tiny fucking pieces this time…instead, I would make tiny French knots…this is why I have a thread stash. This is a Finca thread, but a 12…I was looking for a Valdani or Perle 12, but couldn’t find one in the right color, but this is finer than a normal 12.

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This bird originally had two eyeballs, but I decided one was better.

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The sheep and the cows all got to see…

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Tiny little beasts…

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And the fish as well, although I like the whites behind the black on the blue fishies. I also added some ink…

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I took her to the photographer today. Done early!

Then I started sewing the birds together in columns and rows…

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A few beaks got squished in seams…same with some feet. Something to remember as I make more of these. Or not. Here it is all sewn together, after a year of not sewing them together.

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And then the border fabric went on.

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I did cut the fabric for the stems and the 96 colored balls…they are much smaller than I thought they’d be. And I don’t know when I’ll get to them. Sometime, I hope. I have other things to do…processing the American hate of the last few days, moving on to the next art quilt, starting school, sending the boychild back to college. Trying to make sense of the crazy.

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Yeah, Kitten, I know. It doesn’t make sense to me either. I thought we were trying to move past all that into a better existence. I guess you can’t just ignore those people who are so angry at the existence of other. I don’t know how to fix them, though, Kitten. I really don’t.