I Did What I Could

May 28, 2017

It’s really early in the morning…it’s even earlier in California. Some Saturday nights, I would still be awake, for whatever reasons. On school nights, I try to pretend I am not as nocturnal as I really am. We’re leaving Athens, Ohio, and Quilt National. As usual, I feel like I should have seen the exhibit one last time, taken more pictures, something. But that was it. I did what I could. 


Now we just hope we can make it home easily. Thunderstorms are all over the place…it’s peaceful right now, but it’s not supposed to stay that way.

Yesterday afternoon, we had quiet time. I sat and stitched and then drew. Trying to recharge my brain. I graded nothing. No surprise there. I’ll scramble this week. It’ll happen. 

Drawing 1, while a thunderstorm passed over…

Some Sue Spargo, for it’s calming effect…

I managed all three days on this piece, all around the hand…fly and cross stitches…


And drawing 2…


I think I miss pizza. 

Quilt National was very abstract this year, lots of channel quilting, very tight and perfect. I joke that I can’t quilt that perfect (it’s true), so that’s why I make the quilts I make. Some of the abstract was loose and free or big and open or detailed and complex. And sometimes talking to the artist made you feel something more about the piece then you did when you first saw it.

I missed seeing Pamela Allen and Paula Kovarik this time…I was here in 2013 with both, but never found a chance to talk to Pamela. They both had work in again this year. I really loved making it to the opening this time though! Even though I missed a San Diego opening, I think the interactions between artists are truly amazing here: people I’ve followed for ages and finally got to talk to in person. That’s the value in coming out. 

Well I started writing this at 5 AM in Athens. Then we drove to Columbus and that’s where I’m sitting now, waiting for my plane. Hoping for trouble-free travel. Looking forward to my own bed and normal water pressure in the shower and a non-sticky floor…plus hopefully some mental space to process what I saw and heard.


Art Brain on Art…

May 26, 2017

I’m posting at night just to confuse you. Plus my brain has absolutely no freakin’ idea what day or time it is anyway. I think I have to be up at the equivalent of 4 AM again tomorrow too. I think. I survived two flights and a lot of driving in circles.

We made it to Nancy Crow’s Art Barn this morning…


Then had a nice lunch. I recorded a video about my quilt, and then enjoyed two openings, one for artists only, and one for everyone. Then a banquet for the artists, where I really enjoyed talking to other artists. It’s always nice to hear how others make. And why. And with what. Talk of solids. Hand-dyes. Drawing or not. Design wall or not. Windows in the studio or not. A studio? How big. Where. Do we stitch by machine or hand. When did we learn to sew. What did we do to get to this point in our art.


If only I could figure out when to be hungry.

We call the hotel The Sticky Place. That’s not a good thing.

Ohio is beautiful and green. 


Quilt National is amazing. And overwhelming. I couldn’t even read artists’ statements. My brain was trying to process images and people and the big picture. My brain drew 17 new quilts while I wandered around. This afternoon. This is not my first time at Quilt National …but it’s only my second, and I missed the last opening, due to a canceled flight.


More about the art later. Right now it’s late (in some time zone) and I’m tired, although I wanna be drawing. Gotta be up in the AM though, so to bed it is. Sleep sweet sleep…let art brain mull over the lines and colors while my body rests.


Hello Quilt National…Hopefully

May 25, 2017

It’s not really morning. It’s still night, as far as my brain is concerned. But I’m up! Woo! Ouch. It hurts to be up right now. There’s something in the backyard that made really weird noises and the dogs totally ran away from, which seemed like a good idea to me as well at the time. And apparently my sprinklers are possessed. They’re set to go off at 6:45 PM, and one of the sections went off just a little while ago, at 3:18 AM. Confused beastie.

So I’m on my way to Quilt National in Athens, Ohio. This is the second time I’ve gotten in. The last time, Delta cancelled my flights at the last minute and I was late, missed the opening. It was depressing as hell, being stuck here and not being able to get out. We missed it by about 6 hours. My parents were there though.

This time, I’d like to be there…and hopefully I will. Neither flight has been cancelled yet. Maybe the boychild’s delayed flight, night in Newark, and lost luggage will be the karma balancing out my perfect flights. Yes? Are the airline goddesses smiling upon me today? I hope so. I’ve got art to see and online friends to meet in person for the first time.

I had high hopes last night of grading assignments that turned into stressed-out panic about the girlchild’s insurance, state testing, and packing. So I did the only thing I could…I stitched…I did blue lazy daisies to the right of the hand.

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I am taking this with me.

Then I finished the 6th block of Sue Spargo’s Folk Tails…

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I did actually go back and add all the damn bullion knots around the tree. More texture good. I’m taking the next three blocks with me. Hopefully I’ll finish at least one of them and they won’t confiscate my kiddie scissors or my needles. My good scissors are in my checked luggage.

Beyond the Concrete is the piece that’s in Quilt National

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I originally made it to enter in SAQA’s Concrete and Grasslands exhibit. It didn’t get in. I’m quite happy to have it in Quilt National instead. Plus it is now concrete proof (ha ha ha…see what I did there?) that I can get a nude quilt into QN. The first one I got in actually had no nudity and no uteri, let alone a penis (this one doesn’t have one of those either), so I needed to get in again. I’m OK now. It’s OK if I never get in again.

I think this might be one of the first earth mother-type quilts where I put animals all over her body…I was trying to contrast the earth mother who cares about, well, the EARTH vs the mother of the Earth that we have made…the concrete and asphalt and electrical wires and power plants and smoke and cars and lighted buildings. (I think I did a good job of that.)

I know who I want to win…

Anyway, if you’re on your way to Athens, Ohio, say hi. I’ll be the one with my mom and dad (please. Help me. I’m joking. They’re nice people. And they’re paying for me to get there, so I’m immensely grateful.). I’ll be the one pleased to be missing school for two days during testing and sex ed. Hopefully I’ll be the one on time this time, instead of stranded in an airport on the other side of the country.


I See the Bright and Hollow Sky*

May 23, 2017

I woke up this morning and a terrorist group had taken responsibility for bombing concertgoers. I still live in this world, where hate makes this acceptable, where this is not the first or last time this will happen. I woke up this morning and DeVos had released Trump’s education budget (because you know she didn’t write that thing…she didn’t have a pencil)…and not only are my students hit hard, because I teach in a Title I school, a school where poverty is everywhere…but my own children, needing to pay back federal loans for college, are now going to get hit harder…and me too, in helping them. I’ve seen a few (ignorant) friends say that if the teacher unions are against DeVos, that must mean she’s a good thing. I can guarantee you that all their children go to those rich white schools where immigrants and refugees are few and far between. They certainly aren’t showing any sort of empathy to humanity.

I think that’s the problem…no empathy. And being so sure your way is right, without any exposure to other. I’m not sure why we think that’s OK. It’s not. It can’t be.

This world. It pains me. I make art in response, sure, but it doesn’t stop the shit we keep seeing, the bad behavior, the crazy talk.

Last night, before I saw all that, I tried out a couple of backgrounds before I ironed her down…

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I always lean toward the dark…

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Then I started the stitch down…

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I finished watching 13 Reasons Why…it was hard to watch.

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In the first few episodes, listening to Hannah speak, I didn’t have much empathy for her…because as a middle-school teacher, all I could think about were the kids who would think a revenge suicide where you blame everyone else for your decisions would be a bad plan, that they wouldn’t have the fully developed frontal lobes for seeing the bigger deeper picture. As the show progressed, though, I could see how her brain processed (and again, I’m not sure my students would) and remembered lots of the shit from high school, which is now just exacerbated by the existence of the internet. Negotiating that is huge. There is no safe space…not at home, not anywhere. And they can’t see the future…they don’t have enough life experience to know you can get up and get past. Because most of us do. And we sit there and want to yell and hit at Bryce for her, want her to get out of the bathtub after the first cut and go find a phone, but none of that happens.

So I kept on making art. Because sometimes that’s all I can do. It’s gotten me through some intensely bad times in my life. And I’m still alive, so it works.

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After stitch down, I layered it with the interfacing we’re using on this quilt…

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This is for a larger quilt that will be in a show in July. So I started outlining…

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I didn’t quite finish, because I needed to sleep…

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But I got mostly done. And I have no idea what I’m working on next.

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I drew during my staff meeting…

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I met this snake on the way home…pretty sure it’s a gopher snake.

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Conversation with the boychild…

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At least he has a sense of humor about it. He’s coming home today. I spent time yesterday cleaning his room, putting his bed back together, and trying to persuade my vacuum not to die. Now I’m going to go to school and talk my way through menstruation and sperm production. Fun stuff.

*Iggy Pop, The Passenger


We Really Got to Ramble*

May 22, 2017

At some point, I give up on the school stuff and move on to the art. It is not a full and satisfying life without the art. I did spend some time yesterday at an art opening, but I’ll have to post about that later…no time this morning. Making the art really is the most important part for me…I know for some people the exhibition is a huge part…and I guess I DO it, so it must be important. But I’d really probably rather be in here cutting stuff out or ironing it together than listening to people talk about the work around me. Which reminds me, I have to explain my Quilt National piece on video this week. I should go read the statement again, so I don’t spend the whole 2 minutes staring at the piece.

Yes, Quilt National opens this week. That’s exciting…although getting there will probably kick my butt…it’s kind of nice to have a couple days off work this time of year.

I love this app, Momentum, even though it’s pretty simple (it gives me stuff to stare at, plus a highly visible to-do list). It always asks me what my focus for the day is though, and I often can’t grab that…as you can see by Saturday’s focal thought. I often am not focused.

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I did spend some time Saturday trying to figure out my solo show. I couldn’t SEE it, so I made a doc and started dropping pieces in so I could see the walls. I’m almost done…

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I might need better photos of a couple of them, so I really should figure that out.

A mural on the way to the art show yesterday…we saw this artist at ArtWalk too, but I tossed all the paperwork…but a quick Google search reveals this is Catnap by Michael Summers.

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Then there was this…I couldn’t even figure out what it meant, being outside a clothing store.

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After home, negotiating laundry elsewhere (the washer died for reals this time), groceries, school stuff, making dinner…then I did two days worth on this…some straight stitches and French knots in yellow on the left and then some green around that weird purple flower under the tree branches.

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Finally in here to iron…

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Tiny little pieces…

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It got late, but I kept going…

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She just needed to be done. And she was, around midnight. A good time to stop.

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And now she’s ready for a background and some stitching down I believe. Which is good, because I think she’s supposed to be done on Monday. But right now, I need to go to work. I don’t feel ready, but I’ll be going in anyway.

*Led Zeppelin, Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You


Sturdy Up Your Heart*

May 20, 2017

I’m frozen again. It’s 95 degrees out there. But my brain. Frozen. Too many things on the list. Dogs have been to the vet…one is now coneless and fancy free…the other is on more meds, a bloody abscess cleaned out, and still a conehead. Fun stuff. The washing machine died (again…it died last August too) last night while trying to finish up the boychild’s bedding. I really don’t have the time to deal with that right this second. Maybe tomorrow afternoon? I just don’t know. This might be an online thing. Trying to decide if it’s worth trying to fix again (I never actually fixed it last time…gave Sears the money to fix it and then spent 4 months trying to get the money back because they said my husband let them in the house and they fixed it. Interesting. I have no husband. Or male who lives here at the moment.) or whether I should just accept that the last 9 months of forcing it to work, even though it was apparently unfixable, was better than I thought I would get. Write that shit off. Because buying major appliances when I have no paycheck during the summer seems like a good plan? Fuuuuck.

Deep breaths. The list is long. I will get through bits and pieces of it, a little at a time.

There’s the nervous conehead at the vet. She gets all freaked out.

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And on the way home, she wouldn’t shift over to give the puppy some room…

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Don’t squish your baby brother.

I’m typing now with this one lying on the caps lock. I keep shoving her over.

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I did do some stitching last night…two nights’ worth on the stitch-a-day…it’s about all I did. I was so exhausted. I’m better today. Got over 8 hours of mostly OK sleep. I really needed it.

I stitched a (dammit…just forgot the name of it) feather stitch in blue and then straight stitches in the purple vine, and then put in a few French knots and a stem stitch under the eyeball to finish the thread. Then I did a pink lazy daisy in the feather stitch and straight stitches off the purple vine.

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Filling space. Plus trying to relax. Then I graded for a while. I’m so incredibly behind, it’s not even funny. Trying to catch up. Frantically.

I did work on this at gaming…

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I did the frog and started the grass…plus the symbol on the tree. Still debating going back and adding bullions to the outside of the tree. Then this one is done. Not taking it with me to Ohio.

It’s funny, I’ll be frantically stitching while gaming, trying to keep myself calm (not) and awake (that works). Stress levels are a little insane at the moment.

I woke to good (but a little scary) news this morning. Both the pieces I entered into Threads of Resistance got in.

This is Absolutely Nothing, originally in an exhibit called Women at War

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And this is Work in Progress, from the exhibit Expressions of Equality.

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These were made one after the other…hence the tree showing up in both…I wasn’t done with that imagery apparently. Much like the bathtubs I keep doing.

So yeah, I didn’t have time to make new work for this show, but I do often roll in those topics anyway. There was a climate change one I wanted to enter, but it was like 2″ too big. It’s all good.

So why is it a little scary? Well. So. A few of my quilts have upset people’s sensibilities. And these two have about 10 penises between the two of them, plus yes, full-on nudity, and one is NOT very nice about how I feel about the way women are treated in society.

So. I guess we prep for the media storm this time…because some of these venues could be an issue. The plus is I know the group that organized this show has my back. Most of them have supported me in the past with personal messages or posts online. So I’m feeling OK about opening some eyes, or getting those heads nodding up and down in agreement. And I know the Mancusos will just invite the press in…still think I should get a kickback on their ticket sales if I make the news again.

The show opens July 15 in Lowell, Massachusetts, at the New England Quilt Museum. And then it travels through 2018. Or longer. So check it out.

Now I gotta get through this to-do list or I’m gonna go crazy.

*The Beautiful Girls, La Mar


See Inside, Inside of Our Heads*

May 19, 2017

Well some of the to-do list is done. The ritual of crossing things off a list or checking that box, the visual of a long list of shit to be accomplished with lines drawn through…it helps. There’s still too many things on the list, but at least it’s not growing exponentially every day. Yet. Ha!

Just don’t ask about the grading. That’s going really slowly and inefficiently. Too much going on this last week at night. I’m behind. Significantly. This is unfortunate. I can feel all my normal stress responses ramping up, but the eyes aren’t twitching yet. That’s good. I even went to bed a little earlier last night to try and help. We’ll see. I swear, the thing I wish for most at the moment is more sleep…and it’s the thing that’s hardest to find.

I had my quilt meeting last night…it gets smaller and smaller, and I’m the only one who has quilt stuff any more. And last night, I didn’t! Well, I had those last 15 pieces to cut out…so I did that…and then I started sewing wool pieces down on the Sue Spargo Folk Tails blocks, because I think I’ll finish the 5th or 6th one tonight (I can’t remember which one I’m on) and then I’ll only have three for the trip next week. So some part of my brain believes that three is plenty…and some part doesn’t. In the back is one that’s ready…so there are two more in the front that I’m working on…and then I realized that those are all from the month of May and I haven’t even sewn the parts on for April.

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That probably doesn’t matter. I don’t think those need to be done in order. And honestly, I don’t think these are coming with me. My brain tries to organize projects sometimes and then the other more practical part of my brain kicks in and goes, Seriously? Three blocks? You’re not going to get those done in four days…even with all the travel you’ll be doing. You’ll draw and read too…plus grade in any down time.

I hate being bored. I hate sitting in airports and on planes and not having stuff to do. I need a variety of things from which to choose.

We’re all still coneheads. I’m hoping tomorrow’s vet takes care of that. Her really bad foot is better, so that’s good.

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The little guy is also better, but less likely to fall asleep on my studio floor.

So when I got home and dealt with dinner, I sorted the pieces…

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Lots of tiny. Then I came back into the studio and started ironing…

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Things that overlap can be a pain in the butt…

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But I got the first almost 100 pieces done. So that was good. I’m totally creeped out by that hand though.

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I guess that’s a good thing, since this piece is supposed to be creepy. I’m not sure when I’ll have time to finish it…maybe tonight? I really should be grading stuff. I’m trying. I just can’t get much time in class because of how we’re teaching at the moment. My voice is shot…having to talk for three days straight. This is like going back to the old days when we had to talk all the time. We’ve gotten used to less of the direct instruction and more creating understanding…I think that’s cool until I start losing my voice. Today is more talking…but next week should be better. Hallelujah. I think yesterday was the first day all year I was teaching something I had taught before…and it was a relief. It was so easy. That’s a good sign for next year…it will be easier. We still have to tweak stuff, but it will be easier.

*Trapt, Headstrong