Finishing with Dogs

December 6, 2016

First of all, hello to all those new to my website who are wandering over here to wonder why I would get busted for a penis that isn’t even in my quilt (I do have quilts with penises in them…just not that one). Funny, because in my mind, that issue is a million years ago (OK, it was August…and September…and into October), and I’ve mostly moved on, except when I’m drawing and feel like adding a bunch of secret penises (penii?) into a landscape or a pretty earth woman covered with flowers. But that’s just the vengeful part of my brain talking. I let her out occasionally, but honestly, the state of the US government is way more pressing on my mind at the moment than some woman in Michigan who imagines penises where there are none. Or a quilt organization that calls itself supportive of creativity in quilts, but apparently only if they are pretty. And nonconfrontational (shut up, WordPress…that IS spelled right. What do you know.). You know, not art.

And dammit, I make art. I don’t sit there trying to figure out how to shock the easily shockable. What a waste of my time. If they don’t like it (like I don’t like some of their traditional stuff with 80 million jewels attached to it), then they can walk on by…like I do.

So with that in mind, here I am finishing another quilt. Actually, here are the dogs sleeping next to me while I finish another quilt.


OK, so I made it all the way around the binding…just the sleeves are left to go. And now I’m starting to panic about the next one, because the drawing is only started. But it’s OK. I’ll draw tonight or Wednesday…and hopefully I can get at least one of the three (four?) I want done. I think I need to sit down and visualize how this is going to go. I mean, I have a wish list in my head (who doesn’t?) for the solo show next summer, but I’m not sure I can pull it off with the time available. Especially after seeing how little I got done the week I had off. And knowing I have a big copyediting job ahead of me.


I wish I were a little less stressed about this. It’s the time of year, though. At school, we’re trying to finish a unit and make sure we’re ready to come back in January. Then there’s all the holiday stuff, lots of food for potlucks etc., and parties and family stuff. And then I’m trying to get art stuff done at the same time. My students all wanted to know if I did grades over the weekend. I told them no, I was working one of my two other jobs. Because I did 14+ hours of quilting stuff over the weekend. I did do grades last night, for a little while…but I still spent most of my evening handsewing a binding on with dogs and cats right next to me…not a bad way to spend an evening. I didn’t even poke any major holes in my fingers. Yet.


And while I was writing this, the internet on my computer disappeared (it’s still working on my phone), so I’m giving up on the deep philosophical consideration of my artistic future and getting my butt to my day job.

Piece of Cake

December 5, 2016

Ugh. Mornings. Not a fan. Too many disturbances last night. It’s fine for puppy. He just naps all day. Me? Not so much. I bully through it, sometimes more or less irritated than others. Really, I know the kids will be asking when I’m going to grade everything, and here’s what’s up with that. I didn’t grade shit this weekend. I quilted like a madwoman. I did 14 hours of art stuff instead of grading. Yup. And I’m not done, but I’m where I wanted to be, perhaps a bit further. So that’s good. But I still have grading to do. And I’m not sure how I’ll tell them that.

I started by pinbasting Friday night and then quilting. I quilted Saturday afternoon as well, although when I started, I found this living thing curled up inside the quilt ball I’d put on the sewing machine…


Um cat. Move.

I did outlining for hours…hoping to finish it on Saturday, but I had somewhere to be at a specific time, so I had to stop short of that mark…


I really didn’t have much left…half a face, I think. Part of the sun. Her hair.


So I’m watching the clock and thinking, “I’ll just finish this up.” Yeah. No. Sometimes you just have to stop and get where you’re going.


Sunday, I got all the errands and have-to’s done, and then finished up the sun etc. pretty quickly. On Saturday, I’d been smart and bought the background thread. Then Sunday, before I even started this, I went and bought the binding fabric, so I’d be ready. I knew I had a 2-hour staff meeting today and wouldn’t make it to the store before it closed. They used to have one late day a week, but no longer.


Quilting the background didn’t take as long as I thought it would…I think I stopped sometime just after this to make dinner…


And came back to Kitten trying to sit all over the quilt again.


She’s not very patient with me. Total quilt time was just over 10 hours.


Not bad. But I managed to fold the backing up into the quilting. I did not cut all that out. I trimmed the quilt and then was lucky that it fit under the binding. Don’t do more work if you don’t have to.


I laid it out again for trimming (fast-moving dog)…


Then sewed on binding and sleeves, top and bottom.


Then pinned it all back. Then it was after midnight. Kitten doesn’t want to sit on it when it has pins in it, strangely.


But that’s further than I thought I would get. All of a sudden, it’s going to be a piece of cake to get it to the photographer Friday. Only two weeks later than I thought it should be done.


Interesting that I got more done on it while teaching than I did with a week off school…although there was other stuff messing with me that week. I guess it’s easier to be efficient when I don’t have any time. Now I need to start drawing the next one.

This came up over the weekend…back to the world of nonexistent penises. There’s the quilt that started that whole mess. Actually, it wasn’t the quilt that started it…it was one person and then one organization that claims it supports art and creativity. My ass. This article is in Textile Fibre Forum, their latest issue.


Thanks to Tanya for writing me up again. I should stay out of trouble for a while so she has time to make a quilt or two.

OK, so tonight I’m grading stuff AND sewing down a binding. Maybe I’ll finish…maybe not. There’s a lot of binding on this one. It’s a relief to almost be done, though, that’s for sure.

Same As It Ever Was*

December 3, 2016

Finally a lie in. No raccoons. No coyotes. No howling. No barking. Just sleep, blessed sleep. I want to go on a vacation and sleep all night, get up and eat breakfast, and then take a nap. Lunch. Nap. Dinner and do some fun and crazy stuff. Not really. I’m not a very good sleeper…never have been. Even as a kid, I was hiding under the covers with a flashlight and a book instead of sleeping. I’d rather be doing or experiencing shit than sleeping. But occasionally a good night’s sleep is a blessing. Even when you feel drugged the next morning because your body is confused by what you just let it do. The alarm didn’t go off? We slept? Wait…what? We slept the normal amount? That can’t be right.

Accept it, body. It was a gift you probably won’t see again for a few weeks at least.

I didn’t get home until late (for me)…a meeting and a trip to the bank (on a Friday? What was I thinking) plus Home Depot for school stuff…but I hung up my door wreath (a present from my parents every year) and set out my poinsettia (which the dog knocks over with her tail every year, breaking off some major branch so it looks lopsided for the rest of the season). And I ordered pizza, because I was freaking tired. Then I cleaned the entryway floor, because it was dirty as hell and that’s where I pinbaste all the larger quilts.

Puppy was hyper, and I’d thrown the ball for him quite a few times, but he wasn’t done. So I kept throwing for him while pinbasting. He knows (mostly) not to step on the quilt. All the animals know to go around or I throw things at them. So he would bring me the ball and I would throw it and he would chase wildly after it.

Backing taped to the floor…if I ever have the money to remodel and this tile goes, I will still need tile in here, because sometimes on the really big quilts, I have to iron shit in here on the floor.


I was really efficient the night before…the batting and top were all nicely smoothed out already, so I just dropped them on top. Easy peasy.


More ball throwing.


He gets closer and closer, tries to sniff the pins, treads on the edge of the quilt. Why aren’t you paying attention to MEEEE.


And then gives up and sits on my leg (as I’m sitting on the ground, pinbasting). As I move around, he gets up and then settles on me again.


Not the most comfortable for me, but apparently I was what he needed. He fell asleep there until I needed to move to the next section…


It didn’t take long to pinbaste her.


And then I started quilting. I do the outlining first, usually in a dark blue. I like it better than black. Black is really flat for some reason. Sometimes I use purple or dark green.


I finished the whole dirt area and up into both legs, and to the uterus…


And up one side of the torso, plus stomach and liver. Then it was after midnight, well after midnight, and I realized I was getting sloppy. I had quilted for almost 4 hours, which isn’t a huge long time, but after teaching all day and a long week with not enough sleep, it was best to quit. I’m back at it this morning, though, with a real true goal of finishing this weekend, although I think I have to go buy thread for the background quilting. Yeah. I don’t have enough of anything that’s the right color. So probably I should shower and eat and pick up my rain barrels (rebate!) and buy thread…and then hunker down and quilt my eyes out until it’s time to go out tonight.

A plan…I always have a plan.

*Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime

Now I Don’t Know Where I Am*

December 2, 2016

I am tired. Raccoons and barking puppies. Long lab days followed by driving and stuff. A neck that won’t behave. I haven’t been able to fall asleep easily, even though at times it’s past one in the morning. Ugh. I want to sleep in…for days. This is unlikely to happen.

That said, I finally finished the stitch-down step on the quilt…about 5 1/2 hours total. Kinda what I expected.

I really only had to finish the head and do a bird and sun/cloud thing. It took about an hour. Sometimes I look at my inability to fall asleep and think…fuck, why didn’t you just stay up and finish last night? It’s not like you would have gotten more sleep if you’d gone to bed an hour later.


I do try to give myself enough sleep though. This week has sucked for it. Too many raccoons. Too many early morning meetings.

Kitten agrees. She couldn’t keep her eyes open last night.


So it was about 11:30 when I finished stitching. I knew I didn’t have time to pinbaste…that would be another hour, plus the floor wasn’t clean…so more than that…and nothing dries quickly when it’s cold. But I ironed everything flat…


And I cut the batting and backing, and then ironed the backing…


I’ll come home tonight, clean the floor, pinbaste, and hopefully start quilting. That’s the plan anyway. Spend all waking moments (well, not quite…got two things to do Saturday and a bunch for Sunday) quilting my ass off. The last long skinny one took almost 11 hours to quilt. Yikes. I’d really like to get that done this weekend. I’m not sure I can. It’s gonna be tight. Buy binding Sunday so I don’t have to try and do it later. Maybe even Saturday. I did have one quilt photographed with the binding pinned back but not sewn. Huh. Maybe. I don’t want to machine sew it…I don’t like how that looks. So I will have to figure it out. I must be the Queen of Efficiency. Opposite of the last two weeks really.

I did go to my stitching meeting last night…this Sue Spargo block is taking forever, but the embroidery is really relaxing. I did one of the stitches wrong (proof of tiredness)…but it doesn’t really matter. I still need to finish all the bird stitching and do the center of the flower. At this rate, this quilt might be done in 2020. I don’t even have time to put the last one together or quilt the one before that. No down time at the moment. There’s pros and cons to that…pro because I’m so busy and that’s a good thing for the art. Cons because I can’t see straight some days.


I’m still working on good photos for the holiday card. This might be it. The cats refuse to cooperate.


But that’s pretty cute. Anyway. I’m supposed to be doing demonstrations all day today. I’m so tired from the last two days of labs, and we have two more days of labs planned for next week. Plus some serious handholding. And grades are due again in a week. Shee-it. Yikes. Deep breaths. Plus need the next drawing and it barely exists right now. Minor issue, right. Ha!

*Bright Eyes, First Day of My Life

Went to School and I Was Very Nervous*

December 1, 2016

December. The month that gives me nightmares and indigestion. But also brings a 3-week break from school (don’t think about the chaos of Christmas and the giant-ass copyediting project you’re getting done during all that). And cold weather. I’m not sure I’m prepared for that. I seem to be lacking the appropriate clothing…as usual.

Funny about that line from the song, the one I used as the title. I was pretty anxious about school and social stuff and trying to fit in but not really knowing how (at some point, I just owned that and found my space in the world…which generally is over THERE and kind of loud sometimes, but usually just going about my business without worrying about the rest of you). Now I go to school every day, granted, as the teacher, but one of the things I try to do all the time is point out how LOTS of them are feeling that way and they need to figure out that the people around them do too. We’re teaching this program in homeroom that deals with some of this, but the last two days, trying to get them to see what a win-win solution might be to interpersonal issues has been pretty frustrating. No. You don’t get to hit her. No. You don’t get to tell her she’s stupid. No. You don’t get to be rude to people all the time. And then a conversation with a non-Native American that telling someone to go back to their country when almost ALL of us are immigrants (including my family) was a pretty stupid thing to say. Especially since he is also an immigrant. Trump’s attitudes mirrored in our kids. How do you teach them that this is not the HUMAN way to act.

It’s a lab day again today. Headache. But good learning opportunity.

I’m pointedly ignoring the schedule on this quilt. It’s sitting in the chair over there going Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey. Yeah. I know. I’m TRYING. That’s all I can do.

I had my chiropractor appointment yesterday and he mentioned that he couldn’t even budge the part of my neck that is bugging me the most and has been for more than 3 weeks now. Yeah. I know. I mentioned that I’d been considering massage, because my neck and shoulders are completely discombobulated at the moment. So now I’m set up for that AND chiropractor next week. So there’s some chance of my being out of pain soon. Woo! Yes! And I even made it to the gym yesterday. So that was good.

Damn…it was the work I did afterwards that took forever…setting up yet another independent study contract for a kid whose parent thinks three weeks off of school is not enough…then updating quilts and shows on my website. I thought I had done that a month ago, but apparently not.

So I didn’t start stitch down until almost 11 PM. Late. Really late for someone trying to finish. And with an early meeting today, so an early alarm, I couldn’t stay up past 1 AM to finish. Everything is just taking forever on this thing. I don’t even know why. I totally messed up on estimating how long it would take. Or how much time I would have.

Kitten is waiting for me to finish so she can curl up in bed with me. Because it is bloody freezing here (well, again, not compared to many places…but my house isn’t well-insulated…plus, she’s a cat. And that disdainful look is normal.). I did stitch down for over an hour, despite the late start.


I finished the torso and arms and got halfway through the crazy mane of hair.


So what’s left? The rest of her hair, her face, a sun and cloud, and a bird. Then I can sandwich and pinbaste. I’m conservatively hoping to get all that done tonight, but honestly, that’s more than two hours right there, I think. And I have a meeting tonight until 8 PM. Plus Christmas shopping, because I’m in a book store for the meeting. So. Sigh. I’m really trying to finish it. And since I already set up delivery to the photographer, I really do have to finish it. On time. Ha.

Still trying to get a photo where the two dogs are looking at the camera and not sniffing each other’s parts. Calli is offended by Simba’s existence.


This may have to do. At least she’s not snarling. I go now.

*Gary Jules, Mad World

We Both Go Together if One Falls Down*

November 30, 2016

So I’m going to keep making my daily goals for this quilt and then not meeting them. I think that’s just gonna be how this thing goes until it’s done…if it’s ever done. Part of it is I have to do schoolwork when I come home too, and that’s taking longer than I’d like. But I honestly think this quilt is fucking with me. You will NOT finish me bitch.

OK, that sounds a bit crazy, yes. But usually I’m ahead of the game, not behind by a week.

I don’t think I started until almost 10…that’s part of the problem. Stay at school late to do tutorial, go to grocery store to buy more yeast packets for today’s lab on the way home, get home and read stupid email fucking up the entire schedule for next week, deal with that and dogs and order more yeast (I’m thinking I should buy stock in yeast, vinegar, and baking soda now that I’m teaching chemistry). What’s in my school fridge? Yeast. Eyeballs. A frog or two. I think I tossed the hearts. They went bad. Tapatio. Because. Yeah. Made dinner, hung out, tried to type up a worksheet when I couldn’t remember the damn materials and process. Fuck. OK. Finish that tomorrow.

Sigh. I’m overwhelmed. And irritable as shit. So I’m trying to hold that like a big huge ball of Playdoh and squish it down into something manageable, or even better, something I can throw away from me. I’m a visual person. I need to see all that shit rolled up in my head. Shove it into a cupboard, throw it out a window. In my head.

I had this drawing in my head for a while that I could never get out on paper. I was stuck in one of the old glass phone booths and everything else was banging on the outside, demanding shit. Yeah. Here’s how (and why) I hermit. Hard to do that with a classroom full of kids.

So I had started stitching down the night before, but I didn’t get very far. Honestly, I didn’t get much further last night, even with a couple of hours in…


This threw me for a bit. I swore a lot (yes, mom, I turned it off and walked away and then came back to it). Nothing made it stop. That message came back up after I turned it back on. And I’m thinking to myself, YOU’RE overloaded? Fucking A. I’ll show you overloaded. I love that my machine takes on my moods. So just before I was about to give up and go meditate (while swearing profusely at the universe), I thought about that Google thing.


You know, where you Google your error message (wait a minute…I’m getting a flash of how to solve ALL my personal problems) and someone else has a fucking answer? Yeah. Found it. Turned the damn hand wheel…all the while thinking, no fucking way this is going to work…and in typical Kathy brain fashion, I have now imagined all the possibilities to how I’m going to get the quilt done (including NOT getting it done or anything else, because I’m tossing everything in the pool and moving to Mongolia).

It worked. Seriously. Stupid machines. Kitten was perturbed by my yelling.


Now did I get done? Hell no. I stopped at about 12:15 because I remembered I had to be up early for a meeting.


I draw that face a lot because in my head, my mouth is often yelling like that. This quilt is about time. I don’t ever have enough of it. And apparently I’m old. You know how that goes (sure, many of you are older than me…). Bodies break down. I got the whole bottom dirt area done, plus the legs and torso up to about her waist, and I made it up one arm to the shoulders. So more than halfway, but I probably have a good two more hours to do. Yeah. Schedule shot to hell again. Whatever.

*Coconut Records, West Coast

I Can Paint This Picture Any Way That I See Fit*

November 29, 2016

Efficiency and balance…two things I’m always working towards…and often fighting like a ninja. I am just like you. I stare at a screen (phone, computer, TV) sometimes, unable to move off the couch (more lately…disheartened). I’d rather read my book or scan stupid articles sometimes than stand up (more standing! after a job where I stand all day) and make art. Sometimes I’m just tired. Sometimes I’m not motivated (deadlines help with that…hence, I just emailed the photographer…on a quilt that’s nowhere near done). I still do this though…this making, creating, pulling apart and putting back together based on the shit in my head. I can’t tell you when the drive to make got so strong…I know it’s gotten stronger than it was when I was a kid…every year…more of a push.

Yesterday, after teaching and prepping for crazy lab days this week (we are going to boil and foam and bubble and explode everything), I drove in traffic and rain across town to pick up my nightstand pieces from that show (that was quick)…and over an hour and a half later (ugh), I got home and started dinner. Fed the dogs. Did some school stuff. And then settled down to the artmaking.

It didn’t take long to iron the head to the rest of the body…


The bottom’s all rolled up there to get it out of the way. Then I laid it out on one of the possible backgrounds. Now it’s true I was tired, but I probably should have cut the piece a little bigger, because it got a little fussy in the end, trying to fit it on there. Not sure what I was thinking. This piece is all about making shit work, even when I fuck it up.

Flipping the locations of the sun/cloud and the bird worked OK…I had to fuss with it a little to get the bird to fit, but it will be OK. And stitching will give it the detail I want…


And this morning, the name (so far) popped into my head.

Unfortunately, my sewing chair was already populated…Huh. There’s all these other places she sleeps in my office, but today apparently this was the place. She doesn’t like the other chair, either, so I can’t just move her. She used to sit in the other one…but not since I bought this new one. Not sure why.


Well. I’ve lived with cats for a long time and sometimes I push them off, but I’m much more likely to adjust to sit with the cat wherever it is. I started stitching down with her there. Eventually she left…but she stayed for a good long time. It’s cold here (for Southern California, that is…), so it’s probably pretty warm stuck behind my butt.


I didn’t get a ton done, so I will probably still be doing stitch down tonight. I was hoping for pinbaste tonight, but I don’t think I’m going to get that far. I did about an hour and 15 minutes of stitch down last night, and I’m still down in the dirt. So it’s gonna be a while. Finish tonight, then pinbaste Wednesday. Hopefully start quilting Wednesday. I’m crazy if I think that’s going to be quick. The outlining won’t be too bad, but there’s a shitload of background in this thing (reasons to make the image cover the background…less quilting needed). I’m going to guess there’s about 25 hours left in making this quilt…and so it’s a good thing the copyediting job got delayed again, because this needs to be at the photographer just before that starts. So 25 hours in a week and a half, on top of teaching full time and trying to plan through January. Uh huh. Yeah. I can do that (yes, I’m crazy…but honestly, I haven’t been sleeping well…so there’s no point in going to bed early.).

Today, though, first I need to go to school and get ready to set fire to things (seriously…and hopefully not myself). I’m glad I got started on the stitching at least…finally progress on this thing. It’s been a frustrating quilt…I’m ready for it to be done.

*Indigo Girls, Collecting You