Walking Dogs

January 1, 2018

Hello 2018! I’m already 17 pages into a (it was blank) notebook for the new year…trying to be organized and mindful and all that stuff that we always start with and lose track of about 30 days in. Seriously. I’m not doing the dishes today because I cooked the last two meals. I’ll be walking the dogs later because dogs. Yeah. The boychild left this morning to camp in the middle of nowhere by himself, because he’d rather do that than go out to dinner for his birthday. Well. OK. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but he must have needed it. Hopefully he is safe and relatively warm. I will worry about him the whole time, because I gave birth to him and so I have a permanent umbilical cord attached to him (oh crap, a drawing idea just popped into my head). Both of them really. Plus he has my car. He goes back to college in a few weeks and then graduates and moves back home to do who-knows-what and the girlchild is off to Madagascar in three weeks, where I will alternately worry my ass off about her and be completely and totally jealous. Yeah. Well.

In totally awesome news, I’m starting a commissioned piece today and am really looking forward to trying to make something cool for her. I have two weeks to come up with a drawing…there’s stuff floating around inside my head that needs to coalesce and flow down through the pen onto paper. I’ve pushed off a lot of the other deadlines I might look at right now because last year was SO MUCH deadlining that I can’t handle that any more. This is good though…there’s a few things that need to go in the drawing, but they’re easy. I’m excited to finally start this!

And then I have three smaller quilts I want to make sometime this year, drawings I did last year that really speak to me. Plus there are two shows coming up in the fall that I want to make work for, but that’s a long way out and I don’t need to worry about it right now. So I guess that’s my plan for the year…simple, right? Ha! You know as well as I do that a whole bunch of new stuff will try to insert itself into that plan. It’s OK…I’m used to that.

I do like to do a little picture of all the quilts from the just-finished year, so here’s that…

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Eight quilts this year…from top left to right: I Can’t Be Your Superwoman, Some Like It Hot, MomSleep (revised from 2016), We Won’t Go Back, You Pollute Me, Rooted in America, The Government Made Me Do It, and last, but not least, Not Less Than. May there be an equivalent number in 2018.

If you’re waiting on my holiday cards, they’re going out tomorrow. I had to print more and the ink is being cranky about drying.

So here’s the boychild testing out Grandpa’s tent in my living room. He doesn’t usually use a tent, but he also usually doesn’t have a car…so he took firewood and a cookstove and an ice chest even. Very exciting for him, I think. It’s almost glamping compared to what he normally does.

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I’ll go buy cake supplies and make him a birthday cake, even though he won’t be here for the day. The kid likes cake. If he’d given me any warning that he was gonna do this, I would’ve made cupcakes and sent some with him. I had no warning…literally the afternoon before he left, he posited that he would do this and he would need my car and would I let him steal it. And sure, I could have said no, but I don’t actually need it until Wednesday (we have a spare car here that I can arm wrestle the girlchild for), and he is obviously trying to separate from the family unit…which must be hard when you know you have few documented job skills and very little money. I was lucky not to have to move back home (much) after college. It’ll take him a while to get out, I think.

Meanwhile, the girlchild is still recovering from the last semester and detoxing from caffeine overload.

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This requires a lot of sleeping and quinoa. And videos of dogs.

I finished the 365th day on this. Done. It was an interesting experiment. I think I’m going to go ahead and piece it into a small crazy quilt and then work on that this year, but I have a couple other things that need to happen first…

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All black fabrics, I’m thinking…and then a bunch of embroidery. But less than in the center. Maybe really small blocks? Maybe small crazy-pieced blocks with narrow bits and a larger center bit for a motif. I’m freaking out because I’m totally seeing a face on the right side…with that wave curve as the nose. There are three eyeballs in this thing. And a hand. It’s not the most normal thing in the world. Shockingly.

Then I finished cutting out the little quilt that’s been in process since June. I’m probably going to try to iron it together over the next couple of days. It’s easy enough to do.

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When I look at what uses up the most brainpower when I’m making art, it’s the drawing and the choosing of fabrics that’s the hardest…this is just putting together what already came together in my head. So I’ll draw, sure, but I’ll do this in the moments in between. Because I go back to school in a week. And I should have some artmaking time in there. It’s harder to do once I go back. Vacation should have the stuff you really like to do. It’s true that Winter and Spring breaks rarely have much of that, but that’s just because being a teacher takes up too much life time in the beginning. I can say all I like that I’m going to balance it all better, but if I put off something for school, it all starts to pile up, and then I find myself buried again.

Let’s not think about that today, the first day of the new year. Let’s go walk some dogs and draw some stuff and iron something together and maybe watch some bad television while grading the last of that hellish project. Yup. Gonna do that.


All That

December 31, 2017

Ah, December 31, the last day of the year, the day you evaluate everything that happened in the last 365 days (hint: you only remember the super ups and downs mostly) and try to make resolutions for the next 365 days. Is it a leap year? Nope. Then I don’t have to come up with a plan for one more day. Oh good.

As a teacher, I usually make my resolutions in June (I am NEVER doing that again, stuff like that) or August (That would be a GREAT idea, but if it’s not, then it just quietly slides back into the mud or I angst about it for a while before it slides). I resolve to keep trying to make art every day, to keep trying to balance my job and my personal life, to keep the house less chaotic. I will fail horrifically at the last two and soldier on with the first. So there we are. I’d like to try to meditate every day again, but I made that resolution back in August and have sucked mightily at it every day since then. I would also like to exercise more…more dog walks, more hikes, and more gym visits. Maybe that’s the only thing I need to keep in my head…it is probably the most important at the moment.

I’m going to make a list of stuff that needs doing around the house…then maybe some of them will happen. My house is seriously in need of repair, after 15 years post-divorce with no spare cash to fix stuff, let alone remodel. I made it through the living room area, but there are other spaces that need help, and maybe this is the year we start that. I guess last year’s great accomplishment was cleaning out the garage…that was 20 years of accumulation. Thanks to the boychild for that assist. Maybe I should aim for this summer being the great studio/office redo…pull the wallpaper and the peeling flooring, which means pulling My Fabric Stash outta here, and then redoing all of it. New window would be nice. Certainly a cleaner space. Not sure it’s doable, but it’s certainly something I can put on the list, maybe price out what flooring would cost for one of the smallest rooms in the house. Next on the list? A bathroom. Or three. A kitchen. See, those are all big expenditures. Not happening with college still on the to-pay list.

But the brain, it thinks about things to change. Actually making change is hardest. As always.

Some things never change. Dog hugs.

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Yesterday, we went to a basic falconry class that was a Christmas present…it was very cool, not just to see the birds up close, but to learn about how they’re trained…and that they can fly away at any time when hunting.

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Beautiful birds…the one above is a falcon; below is a Harris hawk.

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It was a beautiful day, nice location. I’ll hopefully have photos of my experience sometime soon.

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Afterward, there was food and drink…this ice pattern was the closest we got to winter here in sunny Southern California. Where climate change continues to affect us, right?

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I came home and had some time before the next event…realized I was 4 days behind on this and did some filling in at the top to make it less bumpy.

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Tonight will be the last stitch on it.

Then out to see the band, at a campground on the bay. Strange venue, with the band inside this building with the ice cream store, but all the chairs outside. So I sat out there and listened and drew…not surprising to see this after watching them up close.

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I’ve always drawn birds, but rarely look at photos of them. They’re all fantasy birds. These guys had such long feathered legs and a square stance. I put him in this drawing…

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And then drew this after a long, drawn-out and semi-torturous text thread with the kids about dinner tonight, which the parental units rejected in the end. Whatever…

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I’m kind of annoyed with the whole world at the moment. Probably need to get out and about and get some shit done for that to change.

I came home to a cat who wanted to be up close and personal. Not a lap cat. A chest cat. My chin resting on you cat.

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Too close. Can’t stitch. Pushed him off and worked on the blocks from the Social Justice Sewing Academy. Sewing through glue sucks. But I got more done. So that’s a plus.

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I’m not ready to look 2018 in the eye yet. I’m having a hard time getting too excited about it. Maybe that’s why people make resolutions? I don’t know. Like close out the year and write it off, have gratitude for the good things, resolve to change the bad things. Then it’s a tool for change. OK. Well. I’m still gonna have an idiot as President. I’m still gonna be making art about it. I’m working on some other stuff, positive stuff. I made some changes in 2017…I’ll make some changes in 2018. You’ll see them here. Have a good New Year’s Eve tonight…stay safe and warm as needed. Think I’m gonna read my book and go for a walk and stitch some. Cross some shit off a list. Pet some animals. Maybe play a game. Drink some tea. Eat a decent meal or two. Maybe draw. That. All that.


We’ve No Time for Later*

December 27, 2017

It’s interesting…when I don’t have a specific project to work on (yet), my brain just fails to work properly. Maybe that’s being on vacation too. I did work (on grading) for a good huge chunk yesterday and will probably do that again today, if just to finish this stupid grading assignment. That will take me down to just a couple, plus checking all the desperate emails that came in after kids realized I had posted their progress report grades but there was nothing they could do about them. I don’t really understand that logic, but I’m not 12.

Don’t get me wrong, I have 17 thousand things I could be working on. I have three (count them!) THREE pinbasted quilts, one art one and two not-art ones, that I could work on. I have one art quilt that is at the fabric-trimming stage, and if I got my act together, I could probably finish it this week. I really should do that. It would be a good use of my time. I’m kinda rebelling against “good use of my time” at the moment. I have about 4 blocks-of-the-month in various stages of completion (and I did work on one of those for a while, both on Christmas Day and yesterday). I could be drawing every day, all day. I haven’t drawn at all. I did finish a book, The Power, by Naomi Alderman.

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Interesting take on the possible reversal of power if women were in charge instead of men. Apparently testosterone is not the problem…it’s just power in general. She may be right. It’s an interesting story nonetheless.

The girlchild gave me all the ingredients for a Moscow mule (or 17). I love the owl cups and will use them for milk and cookies as well.

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My main only squeeze gave me a drawing by one of my favorite mural artists, Gloria Muriel…this is Lilith

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Christmas dinner was tasty, although I only managed to photograph the cheese plate. I loved that bean dip…gonna make more…

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Simba was spoiled for attention…

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Calli was patiently waiting for ball-throwing activities…of which there were few.

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See Simba? Asleep now. My parents petted him to sleep.

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I cannot explain this picture…

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Girlchild cooked it all…

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See the damn puppy again?

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I came home and did some sewing to fill in spaces on the left again…trying to sort of flatten out some of the edges, so I can use it as a centerpiece for a crazy quilt maybe.

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Still debating that. Meanwhile, I pinned 96 spots on this Sue Spargo quilt from 2013…which has been pieced for over a year. It took me that long to put the green border stem on and deal with the spots.

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There are 5 colors…I started sewing on the darkest ones. I think there’s about 19 of each color, so I’m going to be doing this for a while. It’s very meditative. And then they need to be embellished.

Boychild gave me fabric for Christmas. Well. I dragged him to the quilt store and made him pick some fabrics out, because he drew my name for the Sunday night party. I picked the red and white one…he did the rest.

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I like adding fabrics to my quilts that other people have picked. It widens my range. I’m sure I pick the same types of fabrics over and over.

Then I ironed and dehaired the big quilt for the photographer yesterday morning. It had a lot of hair on it. Damn cats. Really need to clean the floor in here before I start the next one.

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Then I graded and went to the gym and graded some more and made my own dinner because everyone was gone and read my new book, which is also good, and then did more on the left side…

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Satchemo not helping with photography.

And sewed on more dots. Yeah. Forever sewing on dots. Spots. Whatever.

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I wish I could say I have a plan for today, but I do not. I’ve been trying to plan our Spring Break trip, which is a pain in the butt. I need to grade more of those projects, just to get them out of my hair. I need to finish the Christmas holiday cards and send them out. I need to find some focus, but honestly, I’m OK if that doesn’t happen until next week some time. I’m obviously in need of some down time.

*Frou Frou, Let Go


Worry About the Rest of It Tomorrow

December 25, 2017

Happy holidays y’all…I’m personally looking forward to a couple of quiet hours this afternoon with nothing to do but read or sew whatever I want…as I am not in charge of dinner and have already made the desserts for tonight, although they are Pinterest fails (best kind!). I think everyone is leaving soon except for the cats, at least for a few hours. I did all the food shopping and most of the present shopping, so I deserve some moments…someone else can Google how to cook a leg of lamb.

The animals are getting lots of love from everyone being home…

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I stitched down bindings for about 3 hours on Saturday…with Satchemo as my trusty sidekick…

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I didn’t put much on the tree this year…its branches are still a bit wispy…

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So I made two desserts off of Pinterest, one from the girlchild and one other. This will taste fine, I think (I don’t eat chocolate), but that ganache decoration was a rancid pain in the ass, didn’t stick well (cutting these was fun), and kept bursting through the bag. It’s edible though.

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These lemon cheesecake cookies are supposed to be flat. They’re tasty though. Room temperature probably means when the heat is on (for the butter). Although we are in Southern California, not Boston…

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I finished the binding and sleeves on Christmas Eve, just before the first of three gatherings. I still need to ink the quilt (doing that this afternoon), but she’s going to the photographer tomorrow. Finis!

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First gathering included an art event. Put the plate on your head and attempt to draw a Christmas tree without looking. Girlchild won.

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Impressive. Calli is also enjoying more people (=more pets).

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I caught up last night, two night’s worth on the left side, still filling in black spots.

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Girlchild spent some time this morning with the pups again…

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My dad showed up to Christmas morning in shorts.

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More dog attention. Seriously, they got the best of it. We ate and opened presents, had a brief conversation with my brother (there was drama)…

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Calli got a new ball. She’s happy.

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Simba, Grandma, and the boychild…trying to figure out a phone, I think.

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Notice very little stitching. Yet. I have 4 hours before I need to be anywhere! And I’m done cooking! I have a book due back to the library tomorrow, about an hour of inking to do on the quilt, and a wide variety of stitching things I could work on while watching television with no apparent goals! That might be the best gift of all. I’ll worry about the rest of it tomorrow. Hope the rest of you do the same.


We’ve No Time for Later*

December 23, 2017

OK a bunch of stuff I was supposed to do yesterday didn’t happen, but it’ll happen today, and I went grocery shopping at 8 PM to avoid the crowds, so that was a thing, but I’ll have to go out today to get the 5 weird ingredients the girlchild wants, well, one was buttermilk but that was gone at my local shitty store, so I’ll have to figure that out. It means venturing out into the land of crazy holiday drivers and irritating people and oh man, I’d rather hermit here in the house all day. But no. I will be a good girl (ha!) and shower and get out of my pajamas and do all the things. Including the emails I need to send and the shopping and cooking and whatever other stuff. Oh yeah, finish cleaning the girlchild’s room. I had help yesterday to put the quilts away, but two hours later, I realized I put one away that needs to come back out for a show. Oh well. I’ll have help with that too. It’s nice to have help. Even if they’re all judgy about the boxes I need to deal with that are still in the girlchild’s room. Fabricky stuff with which I know not what to do. It’s unlikely I will solve THAT problem today. Odds are I will just shove the boxes into my room and ignore them for a while longer. No it is NOT OK to just throw that stuff out. That pink fabric with the skulls on it could be useful, crucial even, in a future quilt. You just never know.

Today I need to find fennel and pepitas and brown mustard seeds. Could be a challenge. Remind me next year to tell the girlchild she has to come home in time to do the shopping, because it sucks.

So yesterday morning, I faced the vast expanse of just dark blue that needed quilting. I thought it would be pretty quick because I got about halfway (what I thought was halfway) in an hour, but then I didn’t realize I had a big space on the other side that I had left unquilted. So it was more like 2 1/2 hours of the boychild standing over me, because I told him he had to go to the quilt store with me, because he’s supposed to buy me a gift for another family thing, and he couldn’t decide, so I suggested fabric. I actually really like it when other people pick fabric for me, because they pick stuff I might never buy. And then I have it and use it.

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Sometimes life (and sentences) are too complicated. This is dog on the outside, cat on the inside.

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I finished the quilting in just over 16 hours, so 4 fewer hours than I had predicted. I don’t remember what I predicted for the binding…

I did two nights’ worth on here, all on the left side, filling stuff in still. Looking for something finished-ish by the 31st. Such rules.

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Then I trimmed this beast…she ended up being about 64″w x 74″h.

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Easy to trim. She needs ink too though. Gotta remember that. Here’s the binding fabric and the quilt, all on top of the cat’s chair.

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She does not care. Until I move the chair.

Binding on…lots of maneuvering of big quilt under machine. It took about 3 hours to trim, sew binding and sleeves on, and pin them down for the hand-sewing part. I finished after midnight…

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That red and green fabric fucking vibrates man. Hurts to sew on it.

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Binding pinned…

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Calli lying on it while I’m trying to pin it totally doesn’t help.

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Right now, I’m having a fight with the cat over the chair (she likes this one better…I literally walked away to let the dogs in, just over a minute, and she had hijacked it). I need to eat and shower and do the have-to’s on the list so I can sit on the couch and binge watch something while sewing the 400 linear inches of binding and sleeves down by hand. Before going to get the girlchild, who is finally coming home, and gearing up for two full days of holiday interactions that might just kill this hermity introvert, even if most of them are actually blood relatives. Or maybe because they are blood relatives. At least there will be good food and wine and perhaps some stitching time (easier to do with my own family than with others’ fams). I need to do some drawing too, but think I will let my head just sit with some calm for a while. I need to do that. Notice I didn’t put grading in there. I might grade the one easy assignment. Maybe. Or wait. I’m definitely going to read more of my book…

*Frou Frou, Let Go


The More I See the Less I Know*

December 21, 2017

Over 6 hours of quilting yesterday…apparently staying in one’s pajamas all day is good for getting work done. I even graded yet another assignment. Piece o’ cake!

Well, it wasn’t a piece o’ cake when I started yesterday. I had a thread breakage, thought I cleaned it all up, rethreaded, and then got these nests over and over again. There was a lot of yelling and usage of inappropriate words. Loudly. Unfortunately, that never really solves a thread nest issue…

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The newer machines are harder to get at the innards, but my machine guy showed me one access point. Ah HA! There’s the bitch that’s fucking me over.

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No real problems after that? Well. Of course. I have to say, I suck at just sitting and quilting. My brain goes kablooey. So I had to get up and do other stuff. Unlike this cat, who slept right there ALL DAY LONG.

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Although he did wake up long enough to clean his head.

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This is about a third of the way through all the outline quilting…

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Ah Midnight. Miss you baby.

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Finally up into the face. I had this goal yesterday to finish all the outline quilting.

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I didn’t quite get there. Almost…the little heads are freakin’ awesome with the outlining done…

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NOW you know why I do teeth.

After dinner, I did more fill-in on this…I think it was on the left side…

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I also stitched down some rhinos…I had the last episode of The Crown to watch and I can’t do that while quilting. I also graded another assignment in there.

These are the July blocks…trying to get all the wool bits sewn down over break so I don’t have to worry about those any more.

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Then back to quilting the miasma of birth control options…the screwdriver is not one of those, by the way…to be clear.

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There’s all the heads!

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They look awesome. I have one arm left to do, plus the moon and stars and an asteroid. Then background quilting. That’s today. I’m at 9 1/2 hours in the quilting. Then tomorrow, off to the quilt store for binding. No way do I have yardage for that at the moment. The back was a glorious mishmash and I’m OK with that…not so much on the binding.

So yeah, I gotta leave the house today. More blood tests, who knows what else? Calli isn’t leaving…

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Silly old lady.

Seriously, I think I am more focused when I have pajamas on. You should try it.

*Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snow (Hey Oh)


I Just Keep Losing My Beat*

December 20, 2017

I think I’m voting today “the day I stay home and don’t go anywhere, not even to take the dogs out.” I wanna lounge around in pajamas and do nothing but read all day. Ha! Because that’s what some vacations should look like, but I’m not in that mode…quilt needs to get done and so do about 12 thousand other things. No reading for you! I tried reading during lunch yesterday, but the girlchild called…so no reading. Have to schedule that stuff apparently.

I graded another assignment last night. Two down, four to go. One of them is big, though. It will take a significant chunk of time. I’m not ready for that yet. (I may never be ready for that. Who am I kidding?)

Yesterday I went back to look at my developing Patreon site. I honestly don’t know if anyone would back me, but I came up with 4 levels of rewards and did some writing on it. It would be more work for me…but potentially could be a good thing? Or not. Waffling like crazy on the time/work commitment. Guess it’s back to the thinking board before I decide.

What I really did yesterday, besides get blood sucked out of me (get to go back, thanks to some weird results…woo hoo!), was work on the quilt…batting and backing on the floor…can’t go much bigger than this.

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Calli gets upset that she’s not allowed to be in the entryway with me…

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In fact, all the animals make an attempt to be in there ON things. The quilt top folded in half on top of the batting…

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And nice and flat…boychild had to maneuver around this to get out the front door. It’s why we have more than one door! Not really. It just happened that way…

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And yes, I have moved the bench and the table to get me more room to lay out quilts before…luckily, I didn’t have to do that yesterday. It only took about 45 minutes to lay it all out and pinbaste it.

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Not the hour and a half I thought it would take the night before. But I was tired. And worried about getting enough sleep. I don’t know why…I’m tired again this morning and definitely didn’t get enough sleep.

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Kitten in the sun…

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Lots of weird animal things going on in the house this week. Boychild just put Simba on the chair, and then Simba thinks he’s not allowed to get down. Or he’s scared to get down. It’s hard to say.

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Someone should clean the counter off. Yeah. Me. OK. Everything is me sometimes. Although boychild has demolished the rotting treehouse quite efficiently. Should send him out back with a chainsaw.

So I started quilting in the afternoon…

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The machine is mostly behaving…some thread issues as I got to the end of a spool.

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And somewhere in here we walked the dogs and I made dinner. Then I filled in more spaces on this…

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And finished stitching down all the wool bits (FINALLY) on the June blocks. That took a long time. Not sure why. I did all the tree spots while watching Westworld…which I’ve decided is all about sex and killing…those are the only human purposes I’m getting out of it. Not sure if I like it or not. Guess that might be the point.

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Then back to quilting. I’ve done both sides of the landscape, both arms up to the shoulders, and the baby.

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That was almost 4 hours yesterday. I’m aiming for 5 hours today. Or more. We’ll see. I don’t really wanna deal with anything else on the to-do list. I took three quilts down from a show yesterday. I need to clean up the girlchild’s room before she gets home Saturday night (although she won’t sleep here until Sunday)…and all the quilts are in there, but I’m waiting on one notification tomorrow, so I made the decision not to clean the quilts up until I heard, so I wouldn’t have to put them away and then pull them back out (wishful thinking?). I’m ignoring the three or four boxes in there that also need to be dealt with.

I’m feeling annoyed by people, so that’s why I wanna hermit. Plus the redo on the blood tests is freaking me out. And the holidays are stressful. I probably need to go on more walks or draw some or just finish this damn quilt so it can get photographed on time. Right? Yeah. Well get on with it then.

*Queen, Somebody to Love