Take a Sad Song and Make It Better*

September 30, 2016

It’s been an interesting week. Hot weather, too hot…while most of you are doing Fall weather. Local news turned national…not pretty. I don’t really want to talk about that much…it’s hard to say what should have happened, but probably someone shouldn’t have died. And all that has affected school. I’ll let all the post-shooting drama play out in the press, but I would like to say that I’m continually dismayed by the inability of many people to empathize with others. I think that might be our core human problem at the moment. I really do feel helpless in the aftermath of all the anger I see out there, the shootings, the deaths, the reactions I see. It would be easy to blame it on the presidential election, but it’s been around longer than that. I hear so many of my own friends and acquaintances who want all this crazy to stop, but it seems just saying that does not make it so. Of course. Why would it? I can go on and on here and either you’ll just ignore me because you don’t agree, or you’ll nod your head because you do. No change. What would it take for change to happen? No racism. No sexism. No hating others just because they have some difference? Because they came from somewhere else? Because they worship differently? By the way, if your worship also proposes hate of another group for their worship, then it is another hate group in my mind.

So all that has been in my head. Plus I have an image growing from the Brock Turner thing…yeah, I know it’s late, but my brain often mulls stuff over and over, and in the end, it won’t be about him…it’ll be about having a college-aged daughter out there in the world, about having been a college-aged woman traveling around, about the fear every woman carries in the back of her head when it’s dark and she’s walking alone down the street to her car. I wanted to draw last night, but the dog barking at night is getting to me. Coyotes. He’s gonna kill them all. But not let me sleep.

So I didn’t quilt. I don’t have the right color of thread. I’ll go get some today, if I can do it and avoid a protest. Serious thought there. I don’t want to be at the protest. I’ve never…ok, not never…but it’s been a long time since I thought gathering in a huge group to yell about things was my thing. I still think it should happen, because I need people to see it happening, but I don’t handle crowds well. I guess my path is through my art…although again, what to say? How to portray what’s in my head? I don’t quite know.

I did some stuff yesterday though. I helped my students finish their anti-bullying door. I had been gone for two days and was reading through what the kids had thought about how to decorate the door (we do this every year…and it’s one of the things I hate dealing with…). And Trump’s name kept popping up. Huh. Well. OK. So I asked them about it and they burst into animated speech about how what he says is bullying, statements about women and immigrants and Mexicans and Muslims and blacks…and I’m looking at a classroom full of girls and immigrants and Mexicans and Muslims (I do have black students…just not in my homeroom). So I let them do it. They had to find quotes that qualify as bullying, so we talked about what that means…and then they wrote it out and crossed it off in red. We didn’t want people to think those things were OK. So then I have to admit, I hadn’t read the instructions (it was a bad week), and it was something to do with random acts of kindness. OK. We can do this. Every kid got a post-it note and wrote INSTEAD at the top, and then they had to research random acts of kindness and write one down. So we taped those to the door to counteract the negativity.

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They came up with the catch phrase. And the thing is, they’re so proud of it. They keep showing it to other people. Lots of kids are talking about it and standing around outside my door and reading it aloud to each other. I want to tell them that we won’t win the doughnut party because it’s political, but they’re so sure they’ll win. So I’ll probably go buy them doughnuts. Because really? They did all the critical thinking and were really amazing during the process and they deserve some major kudos for that. Yeah. I drew Trump for them. But that’s all. There wasn’t a single kid who wasn’t involved in this door.

I had a teacher say I should have done Clinton as well as a counterpoint. But honestly, I would have had a hard time finding a bunch of bullying statements that she had said. I guess my own politics are showing there. But whatever. I’ll stand up for my kids’ process and product.

So what else did I do last night? I did indoor skydiving for the first time. It was a teacher freebie (can’t afford that shit!). And it was awesome. They did the event to try to get us to sign up for field trips, but there’s no way our kids could afford them, even at half price. That said, Wow. Just wow. I really loved my 60 seconds. I smiled, a big goofy grin, all the way home. Even with the drool all over my face.

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I was the second teacher out there. No fear. And those boys in the front watching me, I was totally yelling at them. Yeah!!!

Then I came home and spent an hour on the phone with the girlchild, helping her with an essay. I don’t write them for her. I just tell her what’s missing. She knows something is missing…that’s why she calls. The boychild used to send me sentences that were 50 words long and ask me if they made sense. He doesn’t do that any more, so that’s probably a good thing…gotten past needing mom to read your stuff.

I graded. I cooked dinner. I mulled over the political crap in my head. I worried. I petted a bitey puppy.

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It’s all I could have handled honestly. Oh yeah, and this quilt sold.

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I have an Etsy shop for some of my smaller quilts. I closed it down for a while and then opened it back up. This is from the Journal Quilt Project that Karey Bresenhan spearheaded back in 2005. I’m pretty sure this one is in the book and probably traveled to IQF. A million years ago. Anyway, it has a new home, once I put a label on it and pack it up. So there’s that. Etsy shop is in the sidebar.

OK. Off to school. Hopefully no major issues. They’re kicking us out early due to protest action that’s planned for the afternoon. I guess I’ll be grading all afternoon. Maybe I’ll be able to draw too.

*The Beatles, Hey Jude


Mahna Mahna*

September 29, 2016

Ah. Hello morning. Painful. Yesterday. Sheesh. I’ll talk about it later. It could have been worse. Currently the little yappy dog is barking at the Mexican parrots in the trees outside. OR there’s a mountain lion at the door. Let me check. Nope. Just parrots.

So with yesterday being a bit more crazy and stressful than usual, I came home and eventually got the dogs harnessed up and walked for three miles. Sometimes that’s what you have to do for sanity. Just walk out the toxic shit. So I did.

And then I came back and graded for a while, because grades are due next week, and besides, I’m a teacher, and all we do is lesson plan and grade stuff. Oh yeah. And teach.

My brain was mush. Truly. I thought about drawing. Nope. Brain not into it. I thought about starting to trace Wonder Under, but I was physically tired, so standing sounded painful. I came in here and submitted the coloring book for review. And then I remembered the owl. Poor thing. He’s been lying around for ages, waiting for a human interaction.

Seriously, I’ve had the background fabric since August. And this is a commission and she’s very patiently allowed me to get other shit done. So last night, I ironed him down…

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I should tell you, this guy is tiny…maybe 8 or 9″ across.

Then I stitched him down.

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It’s so nice to work on a small easy project after a big complicated one. Everything is so fast and easy.

Then I sandwiched and pinbasted…

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And then I acknowledged my tiredness and went to bed.

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So he’s ready to be quilted…although I don’t think I have the right thread for the background, so I’ll have to think about that. I don’t have time to get any today…so it will have to be tomorrow.

This spider was attached to the outside of my car (apparently…I didn’t see it when I got in) from school all the way to my ex’s house, where I pick up the dog. When I was driving, he was being thrown around so much that I thought he was dead. I’m calling it a he? That level of strength…obviously a she.

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I’m fascinated by spiders, but they do creep me out. In the house, they die…by cat or puppy or shoe or water. I don’t care. I protect my boundaries (yes, I know they are still here, living in the corners, but if I SEE one…that’s it.). But this one, I took a stick and gently knocked her off my car (at my ex’s house…not mine) and let her live, because first of all, I just drove her 3 miles away from her first home (unless she was on my car from my house to school as well) and second, because she’s tough as hell for surviving that ride. She deserves another chance. But not on my car.

*Cake…or the Muppets…or Sesame Street, Mahna Mahna


This Is Heaven to No One Else but Me*

September 27, 2016

Still in that weird wiggle space in between projects. I managed to go enlarge a drawing I did a while back that was a pre-drawing for the bed project…

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It’s at 300%…the sheet is going to be a real sheet…which ought to be interesting, if she’s lying on it. I need to redraw baby. I need to probably redraw cat (although I might just use one of the drawings I did when I made all those cat quilts). I need to decide if it’s big enough. I can’t decide whether to go more life size or not. This is a bit smaller. Hopefully I will decide tonight. It might require me to open the cot back up.

Actually, that was the last thing I did last night…first I sewed on three quilt labels…well, I think I sewed one on the night before. Then I dehaired two of the quilts and cut slats and dowels and rolled them up and got them all ready to ship. Plus made labels for that and the boxes I’m sending to the kids. Kitten was not helpful.

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Then I came out and colored the cover for the coloring book…

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The point is not to color the whole thing. This is not my drawing…it’s Kathi McCord’s. She doesn’t have a website at the moment, but she draws awesomely. We picked her for the cover.

I was too lazy to get up and sharpen any of the pencils, so I only used stuff that had already been sharpened.

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Then I went back in the office and uploaded all the corrected pictures and the cover and it all checks out. So hopefully tonight I can figure out the last bit of it, the part where they actually MAKE the damn books. Plus I have two extra pages I can’t figure out how to get rid of, thanks to the damn template they gave me. Whatever. I’m looking forward to making my own version of a coloring book, if it turns out OK. I hope it turns out OK. It would suck if it doesn’t.

Anyway, there’s progress. I do need to do a ton of grading still (always), so I know that will be happening tonight as well. I do pay the price if I go all out on an art quilt for days on end. I need to find a balance, but always feel like it skews toward work more than art. Which sucks.

What I really want to do is draw. Huh. Time. Sigh.

*Sarah McLachlan, Elsewhere


Maybe I Have Been Here Before*

September 26, 2016

I seriously thought I wasn’t going to be able to finish the last quilt in time. Although I did the first drawing in June, I didn’t start tracing Wonder Under until August 9, the same day I finished the binding and inking on the last one. I meant for this one to be smaller, but I think it ended up being about 39″ w x 73″ h (I should check that before I roll it up with the others)…and had over 1200 pieces. Finished September 23, which wouldn’t be that amazing if I weren’t working full time…as a teacher…at the very start of school. I remember I used to leave the big quilts until summer, because it was too hard to focus on them during the school year. Of course, some of that is because the kids aren’t here any more, so I don’t have to worry about their school and personal stuff as well as my own (or apparently sleep or food). That helps. But still…I kept mentally planning the quilt out, each stage, how much time I would need, and I never got it done on time in my head.

I’m not sure knowing I can do that level of crazy is a good thing. I let a lot of balls drop, and now I’m trying to find them all, get them back in the air. And I have drawings clamoring to be made as well. Aack. So the panicked feeling of not having it all under control is still there.

But here she is…

Art Quilts and Fiber Arts

I have a name, but I’m not sure I like it yet. Still mulling it over…

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The overlapping arms…

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Yeah, she’s scared.

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She’s not…

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It’s got a lot of detail in it, although not as much as the last one…

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On Saturday morning, I had three places I needed to fix…one was this arm…I’d forgotten to outline the right side of it…

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And then last night, I started on the three labels I need to make. I have to ship two quilts in the next day or so…

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Making labels and sewing them on has been on my to-do list since Labor Day…which was just like yesterday, right? I swear, September just flew by.

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Saturday, I had 7 errands on my list…and I did them all in one huge loop. Two of the things on there I’m still working on…

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And Saturday night gave me this choice. Trust me, I really wanted bears, but my group voted on beers.

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I’m tossing the sketchbook in the car to copy the drawing for the next one. I’m going to have to cut out one part of it and redo it, but I was going to redraw the whole thing, and that’s not necessary. It’s a good base drawing. And I have a sheet for the bottom part. It’s all gonna get done on time…although technically I think it’s supposed to be done this week (not happening). Whatever. I’ve finished 7 quilts so far this year…on one, the top was already done and it had been lying around for ages. But of the other 6, only one was small. So I’m rocking this year. Good thing.

*Rufus Wainwright, Hallelujah (one of my favorite songs in the world)


We Can Dance if We Want to*

September 21, 2016

It’s still raining. This confuses us here in Southern California. Constant water from the sky? The world is ending? It’s good for the plants, though, so I’ll roll with it. And honestly, I was in a training all day yesterday and will be again today, so I don’t have to deal with students and rain, and that’s a good thing.

The training is for the sex ed program I teach every year. This is my 3rd run through the training, which has now stretched to two days instead of one. And honestly, I don’t need it. There’s a few things they’ve given us that might be useful, but one of those is the notebook with all the updated stuff and some videos online. You could just hand me those. There’s a few new topics and we’ve finally been given the OK to blatantly talk about birth control, instead of sneaking it into the questions at the end of class, so that’s a plus. Besides, really, I’m OK with sitting through two days of training just to guarantee that the teachers who blow this stuff off are actually going to be required to teach about LGBTQ issues. So there we are. But otherwise, yeah, this is going to be my 15th year teaching this unit. Not scared of it. We’ll revise a few things, but otherwise…and the idea to split the unit into 7th and 8th grade, I brought it up with my district…so what do we think we can wait until the end of 8th grade to tell them about reproduction and protection and all this stuff? Because for some of it, even the end of 7th grade is too late.

So that’s what I’m doing all day. And yeah, I graded last night, although I have to tell you, I’m a little frustrated with kids not following instructions. The first unit is kicking butts left and right. OK. So when I hand it back, there’s going to be some discussion.

And then instead of finishing a whole class of grading the unit, I gave up. I really wanted to get the binding on last night, so I cleaned the floor again (muddy dog footprints from the rain) and got started…

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Unfortunately, she was a bitch to trim. Part of it was that the hills etc. weren’t exactly straight. When I iron stuff together, shockingly, it isn’t always perfect. But I fussed with it for a while and finally got it where I needed it to be. I love the quilts that trim perfectly the first time. This was not one of those.

I got the binding and sleeves on, top and bottom. These quilts hang better with a slat in the bottom as well.

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That blue and yellow star fabric has been in my stash for a million years. Seriously, since the 90s. People always want to know how long I’ve been doing this. I took my first quilt class at the age of 23 in 1990…and I moved into more arty quilts pretty quickly, although I think my first official art quilt wasn’t made until 1999. I was futzing around with techniques before then. Even then, I made quilts completely differently. In 2000, I actually hand-appliqued an entire (small) art quilt. It took forever. In 2001, I got to the system I use now, mostly. I started small with very few pieces…and now, well, I’m a little crazy with piece counts and size.

Anyway, I pinned everything back. Yup. I still sew them by hand. I have a few quilts where I didn’t, and I prefer how these look. I’m a little old school sometimes.

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I started hand sewing them. And I emailed my photographer. This one will need ink too.

So the rain thing is really upsetting Simba. Every time I’ve tried to put him out to use the facilities, he’s run back to the door. I guess water is terrifying. Amusing, since I bathed him yesterday…damn fleas this year are heinous.

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After his bath, he ran around psychotically, rubbing his whole tiny body over the carpet (well, I guess we’ll be killing the fleas in the carpet too)…and then settled down behind my dinner companion (it was safer there).

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Poor puppy.

This is the next mural in the Sea Walls excursion from last weekend; this one is still in the North Park/Hillcrest area. It faces someone’s house…probably nicer to look at than a blank wall…

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This one is by Gloria Muriel, whose murals I have photographed before. I haven’t found online yet where the artists explain how their work is related to the ocean project, although this is obviously water…nice water molecule shown on the forehead…I only know some because I saw stuff on Instagram.

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Anyway. Nice mural. Yes. I still want to grow up and be a mural painter. So there.

I do need to start getting serious about the next quilt project though. Aack.

*Men Without Hats, Safety Dance


That’s the Way That It Goes*

September 20, 2016

Rain? Is that water falling from the sky? The dogs are surely confused by this. They don’t want to go out in it. Um. Guys. You’re gonna have to. I don’t have a dog bathroom in the house, and no, you can’t just use the carpet like some of your previous cat friends. I don’t understand why the Golden Retriever, who goes in the pool almost every single day, even in 40-degree temps, will not go out when the same stuff falls from above. And looks confused when I remind her it’s the same stuff.

What’s the most important thing about yesterday? Oh yeah. I finished quilting. Finally.

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I still had to grade first, so I didn’t start until after 10 PM.

This photo shows the actual finishing moment, but more importantly…

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The close up…I seriously had stopped paying attention to the thread. And I do have another partial spool, but this was close…

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And then some cloud quilting…

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People used to get pissed that I don’t quilt differently. I really just outline the shapes and fill in the background usually. The quilting just holds it together and provides an outline. I’m letting the fabric carry the image…not the quilting. There’s an argument for that.

Speaking of fabric, I needed a binding. And some other things spoke to me while I was there…

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I had a batik moment…but also, I often look for shortages…whatever I felt like I was missing in the last quilt, or colors I know are always an issue.

I also had laid this out…it’s not the next one, but a few down the road. That bird is a goner.

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But then the cat puked on part of it. Sigh. It was one of those nights.

I meant to post all of these, but honestly, I don’t have time to do all of them. So a little at a time. Pangeaseed has a program called Sea Walls that is murals highlighting issues in our oceans, mostly environmental stuff. They were in San Diego (again…they’ve been here before) a week or so ago, so we headed out to track some of them down…this one is in North Park across from a Jack in the Box (and you can find all of them on that website)…

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This is by Lauren YS.

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All the murals were painted in about a week, which is crazy, if you ask me.

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And it’s about ocean acidification, if I remember right.

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There will be more…

*Gillian Welch, The Way It Goes


Nobody Knows Me at All*

September 19, 2016

A short and quiet song to start the day…because it’s Monday and whatever the music app plays sets the tone for the day. Sometimes. This morning it’s quiet and a little folksy and guitar and pure voice. That might get me through the day.

As usual, I didn’t get everything done. I never do. It’s the wonder of being a teacher and an artist. There’s never a stopping point. There are marks I aim for, stopping points. Progress checks. I did finish the outline quilting last night, and then started the background, of which there is very little. I wanted to be done with the quilting yesterday, but school took up the entire afternoon. I have two days of training this week, so I had to prep for the sub. Ugh. Two days of sub…I’m going to come back to chaos. Not looking forward to that.

I had everything done up until the last figure’s head…the biggest head in the piece…

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And then the clouds above her head, where disasters reside.

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Quilting a rift in the ground, a bomb, that mushroom cloud, a burning church…she’s got plenty on her mind…

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Done. Upside down. Because I’m starting the background quilting right there…I think. I was debating using the same color thread as what I outlined with, which sometimes works…

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But when I tried it against the background fabric, there was a lighter color that worked better. I don’t have a full spool of it, but honestly, I don’t think I need a full spool. And I have two others that have a little bit on them. So I went for it.

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I should easily be able to finish the quilting today. Now binding is the issue. I always need supplies in the middle of the night, because that’s when I work…so I’m better off just pulling it off the machine this morning and taking it with me, so I can hit the fabric store after school. That will guarantee my ability to put the binding on whenever I finish quilting. And I have to tell you, I wasn’t expecting to be this far ahead. But I am. Good thing. There’s two for October (not as complicated as this)…and I’m so far behind in grading, I’m starting to panic. But it will be fine! Ha.

I’m a little stressed out.

From the inside of the house, this guy looked like a stick insect. But no…that looks like a praying mantis…not a pretty green one, but I don’t think we get pretty green anything here in dry desert world.

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Kitten would have been excited by that. She really likes lizards too.

This quilt is almost done. Mind-boggling. I really didn’t think I could get it done in time.

*The Weepies, Nobody Knows Me at All