“You’ve Been in the House Too Long” She Said*

You know how exercise is supposed to help you sleep? Hmm. Me too. I know that. I don’t always have that experience, but I know it’s supposed to. Last night. Sheesh. No rest. I don’t know if my brain was the issue or my body (my neck really needs the chiropractor, which is tonight, unless I forget again, which is what got me in trouble in the first place)…the dog needed to pee at around 4:30 AM; that was fun. I just don’t know anything but that I was awake a lot for such a short period of time of sleep. I went to bed too late because I was ironing the flesh colors down and I like doing that in one fell swoop, but then I had to be up early for a meeting (ugh). You might have noticed that I don’t like early. I don’t. And I was really tired yesterday after the dog walk…it took me a long while to rally.

The plus is that the kids were much better at labs yesterday, thus saving me from sacrificing one (or ten) of them to the science teacher goddess. Let’s hope that continues. The staff meeting was short and sweet. Also a blessing. Well, not sweet, but certainly not as onerous as some of them are.

Mondays are for dog walks…when I don’t have 2-hour meetings and no daylight. We haven’t been here for a while, maybe a month…the first part of the trail is still underwater…

No biggie…we go around. Although there were ducks swimming in it…and tadpoles growing in it (OK, they’re really hard to see in here, but they’re gray-ish and pretty large).

Is this a quilt blog? Well, sort of. Quilters should go on walks and get inspired.

Still green and bloomy…although not superbloomy here…the dogs still like it…

I just like to get out and exercise…

The wildflowers make it good too though…

It’s like this annual fascination with Spring…

Every year I’m like OMG, look! There’s flowers!

Some sort of renewal in the brain brought on by the weather. Honestly, these flowers are easier to think about than job stress, weight loss, the shooting in Christchurch, the flooding in Mozambique, the idiocy of my elected officials.

Yup. Flowers. And a good long walk after work.

For some reason, the puppy doesn’t like this hike as much as the others. He fights it until we turn back toward the car, and then he’s fine…

Although we took another side trip up to see the vernal pool…which was huge!

And had those other big fat tadpoles, but also these tiny ones…

Makes me wonder where all the frogs are most of the time…

There’s glass up there…that’s why he’s carrying the pup. So he doesn’t get glass in his toes from the dumbasses who break their beer bottles up there. It’s nature, but the town is right there. And people are stupid.

They kept following me around when we got home…although I think this was following someone else around.

After the walk, I did some photo editing for work, some scanning for embroidery designs, some business paperwork, some email…picked colors for this one…

I have a really hard time seeing what they will look like without stitching them out. That’s soon, I guess.

After some flailing time, some braindead time, I finally persuaded my old tired body into the studio for this…picking flesh.

It’s really much easier to do all the fleshy bits in one go, so I did. It was pieces from the 100s through the 800s, so I have no idea how much I actually did…at least 100 pieces, I suspect. I have one piece of the cheek that I couldn’t find, so I’ll need to retrace that tonight.

Fitting pieces together. I don’t like to waste fabric.

Somewhat obsessive about that. Here’s where I’m at so far…

Not a whole lot of color yet. Wait until I do all the other stuff…bugs and sky and heart and hair…it’ll have lots of color then. I fell asleep to imagining the hair all the colors of nature. Which is good, because that’s what this quilt is about…my need to be outside for a little bit every day, for longer when I can. This week will be a mishmash of finding that space, for sure…too many meetings. So I’m glad I got yesterday’s walk in.

OK…meeting, school (last day of labs hallelujah), tutoring, chiropractor (oh holy moley my back and neck will be so happy), and then whatever else I can handle before I iron again. It’s a good plan.

*The Smiths, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

Revel In It…

The weather was truly beautiful this weekend…hints of warmth, but cool enough that you might need a sweater at times. Beautiful blue skies, birds singing everywhere, some wispy clouds in the sky…definitely Spring-like. I wish I’d spent more of it outside, but that was the way the weekend went.

I had a huge mess going on in the office/studio…

So I spent time on Saturday trying to get it under control.

I can’t start ironing for a new quilt without putting everything away…I stacked up all the loose fabrics by color and started organizing…

Kitten did not help…

She never does.

Then I went off to meet a friend for pottery painting…and wine…

Very relaxing…came back home and headed out for dinner. There really is no excuse for making my wine green.

Seriously. It wasn’t even St. Patrick’s Day. We came home and put a movie on and I tried to bust out this monster binding that I have not been working on…

I realized I hadn’t finished a quilt yet this year, and that never happens. It’s March! I should finish something. So I’m going to. But not Saturday night…Satchemo was so happy to have both of us on the couch…

He can be a very needy beast.

Now it’s ready for ironing. That table is clear, the ironing board is clear…pretty good.

But there were things to grade and stuff to do…here’s where I sat down and figured out the week…

Someone should clear off the table…again.

Eggshell pieces on the front porch…I haven’t seen any expectant parents around there…

Who knows what happened.

So we had a play to go to in the afternoon, but I wanted all this ready to go for when I came back…drawing hung, boxes of pieces ready to sort.

Background fabric ready to match…oh wait, after dinner, more stitching…

I finished all the binding and one sleeve…just one to go. This thing is huge. Then I graded for a while. I can’t NOT grade right now. Finally though! Into the studio and sorted the first hundred pieces…

It’s all dirt and rocks…

I made a run of 8 for the dirt, plus some other stuff that was in there…roots and a hole or two. Then on to the rocks…

Five different grays for the rocks…

I made it through most of the first 100 pieces…only 700 to go.

I guess I can hope I’ll be done ironing by the weekend. I think it’s unlikely, due to three nights out this week…but I can hope. This is one of my favorite parts, that’s for sure. So I’m going to be putting in some hours on it.

Kitten guarding my space…

But first, I’m going to school and hopefully having a much better day than Friday. Because I might notionally in my head sacrifice someone to the science goddess otherwise. Not really. But seriously, they can’t be as braindead as they were on Friday (sure, they could be worse…). Deep breaths. Positive thoughts. It’s still a gorgeous day. Revel in it.

Hike It Off

Saturday morning girlchild infusion. Nice start to the day. I was thinking about her. She’s applying for jobs and will probably end up staying back East, committing for up to two years. I miss her. It’s a long way away.

Meanwhile, the boychild and I dragged the dogs up Cowles Mountain (in the case of the old lady dog, it really was hard for her at some point, although she’ll never stop).

An actual stream crossing the path up Cowles…don’t know that I’ve seen water up there before.

I don’t hike Cowles a lot any more…too many people. But we had daylight and it was the 2nd walk of the week, so the boy wanted to do something different.

And the weather was gorgeous, a little chilly with a breeze, but beautiful blue skies. Lots of flowers, although not as many as our regular dog hike…

I need to find a way to get out to the desert in the next two weeks.

Rest time! Calli was tired. Tried to get her to drink water, but she fights it.

She’s an old lady. Stubborn as hell.

Getting outside is the best medicine for a day that became more stressful than I thought it would. Two classes of not-listening. Just keep talking instead of hearing the instructions. Can’t read instructions. OK. Then don’t do the lab. Watch the table next to you. Don’t get mad at ME for your shit. Hopefully Monday will be better. Two more days of labs.

It’s not just my classes…it’s across the board in our grade level. At some point, schools might learn that testing on top of testing on top of Daylight Savings on top of the counseling program that didn’t seem to do much for MY kids is not a good plan. Plus normally Spring Break would be right around the corner…and it’s a LONG way away. Why do we pin these things to religious holidays? I don’t understand.

The water they wouldn’t drink…

Up at the top finally. More resting for the old lady.

The dog. I was OK. I don’t like stopping. My muscles complain.

There’s a migrating butterfly in this picture. Can you see it?

There weren’t a lot, but they were hard to photograph…never stopping. At the top, on the way down…

It wasn’t longer than what we usually do. It was just more up.

I’m glad I did it though…even though I have a shitload of other things to do this weekend. I came home and graded one assignment while this guy zonked out…

The old lady too. It was after 11 PM when I finally set everything up for sorting…

But it didn’t take very long. I’m hoping to start ironing today…but I do have other things I need to do as well. Efficiency! Ugh. Shower, breakfast, then clean up in here so I have some chance of getting to the ironing. Then grade some stuff if I have time before the social stuff and a few errands. I don’t know what’s planned for tonight, but I’m sure it will involve food. Food is good. Maybe art too. Hard to say. Although I do need a relaxing weekend, I don’t see one in the near future…so I’m trying to sprinkle life with some relaxing things in between the stressful have-tos.

This morning, Calli woke me up because Kitten stole her bed.

I think this is funny. And I hate brown carpet.

Art today, somehow.

Louder and More Demanding, But Not More Important

Yikes. I think I added three meetings to my schedule just last night…and the weekends are full already I think. And grades! Deep breaths again. It’s funny (not funny) how in just 24 hours I can go from feeling like I might have things under control to kind of a crazy feeling of impending doom. I have too much to do. Next week is no different. The meetings, the list of things that need to be done, the pile of grading (it’s a real pile at school…a notional one here at home, with so much on the computer)…and two different things going on this weekend. I can see why I let exercise slip for a while last year. I’m back on that horse…but it’s time. Time is always the issue.

So I have a plan for the day. Get as much done at school as I can. Come home and walk the dogs. They wanted me to yesterday, but I wanted to go to the gym…so I did. They got their yard time at the other house, so they were fine. They just are so funny…following me around, looking for dog-walk-prep hints. Is she changing her clothes? Is she carrying socks? Which shoes does she have? It must be a walk. And then it’s just the gym and they are sad. They really should be able to tell from the socks and shoes.

Then after I walk them today (because it’s something I need just as much as they do), I can grade an assignment…and then I’m going to sort the Wonder Under, because I did finish cutting yesterday. It took an extra two hours…

So that’s a little over 6 hours total. Not bad. Sorting will take about an hour, and then I’ll check existing fabrics in my stash for a background…most of this quilt is covered with pieces, so there’s no need to worry about a fancy background. It will mostly be hidden. If I need fabric, I can get it tomorrow. I have a friend thing to do tomorrow, plus I need to pick up that lost quilt (that I found). And grade some more…and hopefully start picking out fabrics. That’s a lot to do in a day. Plus we might need to do grocery shopping Saturday, because we have a thing on Sunday. Yikes. I’m realizing how much I need to get done tonight…if I lose Sunday. Stress.

But first, a meeting this morning, a lab all day (oh dear), plus as much grading as I can get done during the day. I didn’t grade last night…I took a night off. I always feel bad when I do that, because it makes me feel more behind. But I”m going to be behind no matter what. I need to find a way to be at peace with my crazy overwhelming life. If I stop going to the gym and hiking and making art, I’ll have time for my job. But my job isn’t more important than those things. It’s louder and more demanding, but it’s not more important.

I’ll Be At Least Two People Today*

It’s dark out. The birds are chirping. The cats are awake because they’re freakin’ nocturnal. The dogs? Not so much…looking for a soft place to land, preferably with their head on someone’s leg. Or foot. Or whatever. Yes, another morning meeting. This week is kicking my butt. Although…I’m kicking its butt too…it’s the third night I’ve finished grading a new assignment (yes, they’re relatively small). I have the one huge one at school, which I’m slogging through, and then about 3 more that need doing. I’m catching up! It’s an illusion. I never catch up. Like there’s no homework to grade this week, but that’s because I will have to grade all the bits and pieces of their projects after next Friday. So I need to be done with the big project by then. Ugh. I remember this now. I had blocked it out for a reason. It’s a great idea, an awesome project, but a pain in the ass to grade. Yup. Totally.

Plus I need a solution for two kids who are really low, English is hard, one reads but only if I stand over him (in a class of 33 with about 12 other needy kids, that doesn’t count the kids who COULD do it but are wasting time and refusing to work so they need constant attention). So that’s not happening. And this project CAN be a group project, if the kids choose, but no one wants to work with these two boys, because they are annoying. Sigh. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have a plan for the lab days, but not the design/video days. I’m already frustrated with the two of them and trying very hard not to be, because it’s not totally their fault. They don’t understand learned helplessness yet. Well, I guess they DO, because it gets them results. Sometimes this job is so exhausting because of stuff like that. I left school trying to solve that problem, I took a break from it for a little while last night, but I woke up this morning with it still in my head, unsolved. It never stops. The solution is more help in the class. We don’t get that in public schools.

I had a meeting last night and got nothing done in it…strange…I can usually get something done. I won movie tickets though! I’m going to make someone come to the theater with me.

Then I came home and graded for a while, and then back to the task at hand…

Cutting out pieces. The quilt that needs the binding is still sitting over there, undone. I’m on a mission with this other quilt. It has a deadline. The other one can wait if it needs to. I had furry assistance on all sides.

In fact, I felt bad getting up to warm up my tea. Dislodging the dog. Except you need to stand up occasionally. I cut stuff out for about an hour and a half…I’m getting closer to done.

Those scissors are really nice. Birthday gift. They’re serrated, but not noticeably. We’ll see how they do on the fabric/Wonder Under combo. I have that little bit of that yard and one more yard to do…so probably another hour and a half maximum. Tonight is the gym, though, so who knows how much energy I will have after that. Probably I’m not grading anything tonight and that’s OK. Although there’s a kid who’s blaming me for her grade because she turned something in late and I didn’t immediately jump off the couch from my artmaking activities and grade it for her. When I asked why she didn’t turn stuff in on time, she told me that she “had a life.” Ah. Well I do too. Not as much as a 12-year-old apparently. But she can wait until the weekend.

So I’m hoping to finish tonight anyway. It’s probably OK if I don’t grade every night.

It’s not OK if I don’t make art every night. Sanity is important. Happiness is important. Feeling artistically content is a very good thing. So is exercise and reading books and eating healthy and trying to be a calm teacher even when your brain is tired and not controlling things very well. A good thing to remember this week, because the kids are tired too. And I’m the adult in the room.

*Gnarls Barkley, Who Cares?

I Smelt the Last Ten Seconds of Life*

Think about all the ways you try to control stress. How many of them increase it? What actually helps? I know I hike, read, draw, make art, and go to the gym…to start. I try to stop working on my day job in enough time each night so that I can let art brain wander around for a bit, but I’ve been carrying a small drawing around in my head for a few days now with no time to get her out. Or I just forget because the to-do list is clamoring for my attention. That to-do list never shuts up though. I did get one thing off the list last night that has been on there for a good two weeks. I hadn’t done it just because I needed one piece of information and kept forgetting to find it out, and finally said fuck it. It’s not important. I think of myself as fairly efficient, although yes, phones and social media have negatively affected that…but I try to see the positives in that too. There’s a connection to the larger world (and the art world) that I didn’t have before…even though it’s totally distracting and sometimes a total time suck.

Part of the stress factor, though, is our reaction to it. And I suck at that. I mean, I’m great at it if there’s a sabre-tooth tiger running at me on a constant basis…I can react really quickly and efficiently, but since that’s not what’s happening, it’s not a particularly useful skill. And the stress levels are already too high. My job doesn’t help with that, but I could be more chill about it. Always. But if I stress about being more chill, it’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it? Laugh more. Goof off more. Draw more. Make more art. There’s 4 1/2 weeks until Spring Break. It will be OK.

So I finished grading two assignments yesterday. Five more to go. One is huge. I’m getting there. I’m always getting there. This week is exhausting. Already.

After grading, I get to cut things out though…

Uber crazy closeup. I have about 2 1/2 yards left…so maybe halfway through? So another 2 1/2 hours is what I’m guessing. I have time tonight…and tomorrow night I should be done? Maybe? We’ll see. I’d like to iron to fabric this weekend. That would be nice. So I should think about background fabric…see if I have enough. I’m still trying to use things up that I’ve already bought.

I finished watching The Passage. I can’t decide if they’ve set it up for a second season or not. I read the books…and really liked them. I guess we’ll wait and see.

The top box is almost full. I might need to pull a bigger box to finish. Probably yes. Tonight I’ll do that. Along with other stress-relieving stuff.

*The Smiths, Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

And Oh My Days We’re Rolling*

Somehow I have to persuade my body that midnight is an hour earlier. I find it difficult to go to bed earlier than my body wants me to…although by the end of the week, I’m sure exhaustion from not enough sleep will help. Right now, today, this very early morning that isn’t early but is…ugh. Ouch. Erg. Holding it together but feeling the pain, and it’s only Tuesday. My longest day. Maybe. Tomorrow might be longer.

My students handed in a shit-ton of work yesterday. Good for them, painful for me. I’m getting through stuff. Slowly. As always. It feels more than a little bit overwhelming at the moment. I graded two more classes of tests last night and an entire assignment during a staff meeting (yes, I was mostly listening). Today the kids are starting a project…on some days, I will be buried under the labs, but today is pretty low-key. One more class of tests to grade and then I can work on the massive pile of Unit 5. Ugh.

I took a break there to send out a work email I needed to do. I forget about stuff if I don’t calendar it or do it right when I remember. Happens often.

So after work yesterday, the one plus of the time change is the increased PM daylight for walking dogs…

I don’t have to race home. It’s so beautiful out there right now.

Although some of that beauty is poison oak growing like crazy. Should keep that in mind.

I use an app to track the distance, but the clouds must have been messing with it yesterday (it was raining the whole time we walked)…because that mess at the bottom is not what we did…

We did a little out and back, reconnaissance, trying to figure out what the orange flowers were (poppies…but all folded up)…but not that crazy stuff. So the mileage was off too. We heard a group of coyotes singing to us…maybe the same young ones as a few weeks ago…but didn’t see any.

After dinner, I graded, and then did a few more small drawings. This one is a bit weird for an embroidery design.

But this one might work…

Who knows. I don’t.

On to the next stage on the most current quilt (no, I haven’t finished the binding on the other one yet…why?).

I should be able to get all the Wonder Under cut out this week. Easily. Then on to ironing to fabric. Simba wanted belly rubs…

I combed him a bit too after the mud run we did this afternoon. After everyone else goes to bed or shuts their door, I get the dogs…

Well. And one of the cats…eventually he reached up and started kneading Calli’s leg, at which point, I shoved him off. I never know how Calli will react.

It was cold…so pushing your face into a dog leg makes sense I guess.

I got about 1 1/2 yards cut out…

Not bad. Using new scissors. They have a name on them, but all I can think of right now (so very wrongly) is Tim Horton. That’s wrong. They were a birthday present. We’ll see how my hand feels.

Crap. It’s late. Gotta go to work. Art tonight for sure. And grading. Sigh.

*alt-J, Left Hand Free