Maybe We All Need Repotting…

Somehow, the month of February whizzed by my head without fully whacking me unconscious, so here we are. In March. Four weeks closer to Spring Break. Another paycheck closer to Summer Break. And no paychecks. Love summer for that. Such a challenge. Every year. That said, it’s getting Spring-like, and that’s nice…new growth on plants, flowers popping up, weeds taking over the yard. All the things!

Well the biggest news, besides my sewing machine being in the shop because it wasn’t dropping the free-motion foot (it dropped feet when straight stitching, but not zigzag; talk about fussy), is that I got my first vaccine. I am a teacher, in case you didn’t know that, and the school I teach for (not AT at the moment, because I can’t go back without these shots) is in a high-infection area (which means that, yes, I live in a high-infection area), so we were first on the list. Got my email on Friday while my science kids were finishing their work; got an appointment for Saturday morning…with a few hundred other people. Seriously, this was the most people I’ve been around since before COVID. And in an enclosed space. Freaked me out.

Plus a shot. Finally getting closer to being safe. Hopefully. I forgot to take a picture when the doc injected me, and he forgot to give me a sticker. Ah well, my co-teacher came to the rescue and met me outside after they monitored me for 30 minutes due to my weirdo reactions to shots.

I’ve been fine, just a sore arm and maybe a headache and fatigue. Hard to say if those aren’t things that I would have felt anyway. Probably! On to the next shot in a few weeks. Exciting stuff.

Our weekly gaming with friends seems to have moved to Sunday night, but that leaves open a night to game in person at home with the two men…we had a new Settlers of Catan expansion, so we read all the instructions 17 times and played a couple rounds.

I almost won one without even noticing. I’m not that good at games. I like to play; I don’t need to win.

Saturday, we did a little hike after taking the sewing machine in.

It’s definitely Springlike.

But the weather is still cool and breezy, so hikes are nice.

We tried a new trail in a place we hike all the time. It had a little up in it.

But it was good. Only 3.5 miles though. No time for a longer hike…left too late.

Then because the sewing machine was being cranky, I did some hand-sewing for a while on Saturday night.

Just sewing things down.

There might be a time when I come back to these and add more stitching.

I enjoy it, but don’t usually make time for it.

I also started this drawing at dinner on Saturday night.

And then finished it last night. It’s small. This is actually a printout of it larger than it is in real life. I joke that now I have the nanites in me, so everything will be fine. Honestly, I’d be OK with the nanites. Fix me, you little machines. Fix me.

Otherwise, I’ve been buried in schoolwork. Posting things, redoing things, making videos of things, grading things, answering too many panicked emails and ignoring others. School is frustrating in the best of times. These are not the best of times. These guys don’t care. They just want pets.

So we pet them. Although Nova, the sweetheart on the right, caught my finger and ripped it open Saturday? Friday? when I was petting her and tried to stop. So it’s a little painful. Otherwise, they’re all good.

This plant finally flowered. I’ve never seen it flower.

I repotted it and it is obviously much happier. Interesting take on the world there. Maybe we all need repotting.

School all day, hopefully some exercise, hopefully some art. A lot of grading. Every day until I’m done.

All That…

It’s a Monday morning. We all have feelings about that. My current feeling is that I’m not ready. I did get almost caught up with grading…well, until this week, when everything at the end of everything is due. Friday will feel overwhelming, for sure, but for now, I’m trying to get to a place of managing that. The trimester ends next Friday, the science unit ends this week, all the art projects end this week. And the month ends! It’s probably not related. Plus in the last week and a half, there are 4 pickups for art. I’m handling 2 of them and the men are handling the other 2, because they’re all during my work day…during a normal person’s work day, honestly. So yeah. Not sure what I’d be doing if I didn’t have people home to do pickups. Negotiating alternate pickup methods, I guess.

Did anyone do QuiltCon? I am realizing I prefer an actual class with a teacher talking to me to a pre-recorded video class. So be it. I’m in it for the human interaction. I watched both my classes, but haven’t started due to materials issues and time issues and just plain issues. I might get there. We’ll see. I missed the lecture I signed up for because I forgot about time zones, which I’m sad about, but it was recorded, so I watched it anyway: Chawne Kimber, who looks like fun to watch quilt. Like she’d be fun to take a class from. Future thoughts. I’m also signed up for the SAQA conference in April; looking forward to that, although some of the events start right when school ends, which could be complicated. We’ll see. My current QuiltCon project, by the way, looks like this.

That’s not much there. It might become more. We’ll see.

I did some other stuff, embroidery finishing, then piecing, and putting borders on, but it’s a recent Sue Spargo piece that hasn’t been published yet, so I can show anything but the cat guarding one of the spools of thread.

Just know I’ve been working on it and it will eventually show up here, probably in the next month or so. Mostly brainless easy stuff that I can do when nothing else is working.

Saturday, we did a longer hike (it was actually 1.4 miles shorter than it was supposed to be, not sure why)…this is another Coast to Crest challenge hike, from 2019-2020 though. It starts in Del Dios Highland Preserve, on the Lake Hodges side.

And basically it goes up 1100′ in less than a mile, no switchbacks. It’s not impossible…just hard.

And then at some point, you cross over into Elfin Forest Recreational Forest. This is not all the way up.

But we didn’t start that high up, for sure.

Spring has started to show up.

The point is to get to the Lake Hodges overlook, but you walk by Olivenhain Reservoir to get there.

It was the longest 6 miles I’ve ever done. It just felt hard.

Although the weather was perfect…cool with a breeze.

So yeah, we started at the level of Lake Hodges…down there.

Yeah. So my legs are still feeling it two days later.

Mostly flat. Literally 1365′ feet up and then back down. Averages out.

Anyway. Not a bad hike…might be easier to go up the Elfin Forest side? Hard to say.

Hey! There’s my piece in the California Fibers: Historical References show that is currently open in Los Angeles.

Yeah, mine is the big one, One of My Kind. There are appointments available to go see it, or you can see it online.

I did do the stitch down on the little owl last night…then sandwiched it.

And then fought the sewing machine and the sewing machine foot for a while and gave up and read my book. Because life is too short for fighting machines. I’ll try again tonight.

For now, I need to get some work done. A pissy parent demanding things, plus getting ready for school and teaching and all that.

Appreciate the Sunsets.

Mid week already? That was fast. I’m even somewhat caught up. Wait. No. I still have 5 assignments to grade from last week, and even though I finished grading all the late work yesterday at 8:20 AM, there is now more in the pile that needs grading, because that is how the never-ending pile of grading works. It’s why the last week of school is such an inordinate relief. There cannot possibly be any more grading for at least two months! A reprieve! Sundays back. No constant planning, trying to answer emails, contacting parents. Such a relief.

Unfortunately, we are quite a few days away from that. In fact, with the trimester ending in 2 1/2 weeks, we are well into panic mode (we being the kids) because we forgot that what we do every day counts for a grade. You know. Like school does. That said, I had expected yesterday to be really stressful and yucky, and it was very manageable. The kids mostly listened and/or did the nothing they do on a regular basis. This is when standing over them (or like I do, rolling my chair around the room and staring into their panicked eyes) helps to get them motivated. Yesterday I called parents during class instead. Muted myself on the Zoom and called and left messages because they aren’t going to answer a number they don’t recognize, and even if I were calling from the school number, they probably wouldn’t answer. Ah well. That’s nothing new. The checked out kids are always there. This year is harder for that, sure. I was reading instructions for a program we’re supposed to be monitoring, and they say to “walk around and make sure they are on task.” Um. OK. Imma gonna do that. Rolling my eyes. It’s like the distance learners and teachers don’t exist sometimes. Please give me some more useful supports, y’all. I’m at my wit’s end with monitoring this program.

So we’ll see how today goes…Day 2 of a project…could be chill; could be not. Never know. Even in person.

Here’s the final finished picture of the Sue Spargo Block-of-the-Month quilt Earth and Twig I finished.

I do have another one pinbasted, ready to go, and a third one that is a finished top, and a much smaller one that’s finished. I should keep this going. First I want to finish the little bird quilt I have, though. Although it’s been hard to find the energy in the last few days to sit down at the sewing machine. Maybe tonight? We’ll see.

So I did finish ironing all the bits of Wonder Under to fabric in the most recent art quilt…

It only has 56 colors in it (small quilt) and it took a little over 4 hours to pick all those fabrics.

I started cutting them out Monday night…

And finished last night…

in 4 1/2 hours total. Tonight, I’ll sort them and maybe start ironing it together. So fast! I think I’ll do a few fast and easy ones like this and then start thinking about the next big one. I have ideas and I have one that’s drawn and numbered and ready to go. I’m just not ready for a big one yet. I need some quick successes, achievements, goals.

Here’s one of mine getting ready for a show in Los Angeles at Studio 203, opening the 20th. This is California Fibers: Historical References.

Not sure I’ll get up to see the show, but there should be video and maybe even some online stuff. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, Spring is coming (Southern California does Spring early…sorry to all the snowed-in states)…the coyotes don’t care about humans on their paths…

And I’m no longer walking in the dark, which is nice.

Although I do appreciate a good sunset. Today is going to be pretty easy, I hope, and maybe I will get some grading done as well, knock some of those projects off my to-do list. My goal is always NOT to be working at 9 PM on school stuff, but on art stuff instead. So more of that. And I forgot to wish my mom a happy 80th birthday on the internet…although I made her a chocolate cake, so I think we’re good. Although it could have been more lava-like. My fault…should have taken it out of the fridge earlier. Anyway. Both parents have their 2nd vaccines scheduled, they’re relatively healthy, and those are good things right now. OK. Off to work. In the other room.

Spargo Obsessed

Roof is getting fixed today. Solar got fixed yesterday (that was just the monitoring system…so cool to see the data again! Yes, I am a science geek. I need data.). I’m almost done with a quilt I started in January 2012. Kind of amazing. Nah, it’s not an art quilt…well, it is art, but not mine. When I need to relax or when I’m spending hours at soccer games (remember those days) or wherever and need something to soothe my brain and keep my hands busy, I stitch. I’ve appliqued lighthouses and national monuments from a friend’s patterns, I’ve cross-stitched from patterns, and in 2012, I started doing Sue Spargo’s block-of-the-month quilts. There’s something about stitching through wool and embroidering to embellish that is just truly relaxing. I do love making my own art, but this is not dependent on what stage of an art quilt I’m in. Sometimes I embroider on my own stuff too, but that still requires more brain power than I sometimes have at the end of the day. And was difficult to do in certain situations. So Spargo stepped in (or her patterns did). I don’t even remember where I saw them, but I signed up for Earth and Twig at the end of 2011 and got my first package the following January, and it’s been sort of an obsession ever since.

I was pretty good about working on this back then, and honestly, I think it’s less complicated than her current pieces, so it was pretty easy to keep up. In April of 2013, I was finishing up the last of the embroidery, but I felt like there was a flower and a bird missing. It looked unbalanced to me.

A bird in that space on the bottom left of the tree thing. And a flower near the rooster. Oh yeah, I added that one. But it took me a long time. You may notice it’s a slightly different color than the others (it is). I also ran out of the thread and the and the fabric for the flower center, so I improvised. I gave up on the bird, though. In May of 2013, I pinned the flower down. I even started stitching it down. And then I got distracted and it sat until 2016.

Some part of it was because I had never quilted on wool before and it made me nervous. When I started this Spargo quilt, I had never really appliqued with wool either, so it has some wonky moments.

So in 2016, I finished that flower and pinbasted the quilt. And then set it aside until sometime last year, maybe when the pandemic started, and I tried quilting it.

I just did some outlining and it was a pain because of the embroidery and the type of stitching foot I had, and then something was a higher priority and it got pulled off the machine. Meanwhile, I finished two more Spargo quilts and then a smaller piece over the summer. One is pinbasted and ready for quilting, the other two are tops.

My quilt guild is having a UFO contest, and without any pressing deadlines (pressing, ha ha ironing humor), I pulled this back out and made myself quilt it. In two days. Seriously, it wasn’t hard. I must admit, I am not a precision quilter. I take the word ‘free’ in free-motion stitching quite seriously. I measure and mark nothing. And I’m OK with that. There are some issues with the quilting on here, but it’s the first one I’ve ever done and it’s mine (despite a few people wanting to buy it yesterday) and I’m OK with the mistakes. It has hours and hours of embroidery in it, so it’s staying with me.

Sue Spargo has a book and maybe even still has a kit, y’all…you too can spend 9 years making this. OK, I could have been done in 18 months with a little more staying power, it’s true. I like the process of the embroidery more than I like the finishing. Last night, I finished up some of the quilting in the brown areas (they needed more) and trimmed it and got the binding machine-stitched on.

And I started the hand stitching. It won’t take long. I don’t know where she’ll hang, but I’m glad I got off my scared-of-wool ass and did it. Next is the one I call Bird Crazy (it’s not really called that).

It has less room for quilting, which might be OK.

Who knows. I have a different machine foot on its way to me as well, just to hopefully make life a little easier. I am still going to work on the other art quilt things I have lying around…I just needed to get this off the machine FINISHED so it wouldn’t languish in a pile of unfinished stuff forever. I don’t care about the quilt guild prize for finishing stuff, but I’m grateful they reminded me I have unfinished things. Sometimes I forget and they slip out of the to-do list. It would be nice to have them done and hanging somewhere. I’m not sure where that will be, but I’ll figure that out. There will probably need to be a rotation.

In other news, I’ve spent almost 6 hours in union meetings for the last two days and I’m kind of done. Still. Again. I’m glad it’s Friday. I’m glad my roof is getting fixed (it’s supposed to rain a little today). My mom turns 80 this weekend (wowza). And yes, I’m still working on Sue Spargo quilts, more than one at a time (because I’m crazy, that’s why). I can’t show you the one I’ve been working on since the pandemic started, because she hasn’t published it yet, but I’m also chipping away at some of the older ones. It’s relaxing to just sew stuff on and then make 200 French knots. And now I know I can actually quilt them. That’s a plus.

OK, school today. Challenge mostly accepted. Tonight, I’ll stitch a little. And hopefully get back to the two art quilts that are in process in here. Oh yeah, this picture of Greta Thunberg stitching makes me so happy…

That girl. She’s amazing.

Miles…

Hmmm. Am I walking too much? 20 miles in 9 days? Not so bad. If I were through-hiking the PCT, I’d have to do that every day. This is just in bits and bobs; 3.6 miles is the short bit, my regular weekly stomp up and down local hills. Added a couple of 4+ milers, one with dog and boychild, one with the man. I’m feeling it this morning. Plus? It helps me sleep. When I am doing more, though, I know that’s a sign that the stuff in my head is being cranky…apparently more so in the last week or so.

I’ve been quilting the Sue Spargo block-of-the-month from a million years ago…wool is not so hard, apparently. Nah, it’s really soft and mostly forgiving.

This is the first wool quilt I’ve ever quilted. I outlined everything so it would stand up, and then started quilting in the background.

Mostly spirals, but some other random stuff. There’s stars and stripes in there.

Some echo quilting around the leaves…

An occasional cloud or swirly bit. And then I ordered more thread, because I will need it.

OK, so I guess that means I can quilt all my wool pieces (there are three of them ready to go). It’s brainless and that’s what I need right now.

I started around the edges, so I’ll still need enough for the middle, and then maybe some parts inside flowers and birds in a different color. We’ll see.

We started hiking the San Diego River Valley’s 2019/2020 Coast to Crest challenge hikes because…well, why not?

Apparently there are still patches left and we can get another one. This is the northern Lake Hodges part of the trail, which starts on the east side of the 15…

And goes under it…so there’s lots of road noise in the first mile…

And then it’s a relatively easy and open trail.

With a view of the lake eventually.

A stream to cross.

I was hoping for a nice relaxing hike with the man, but it turned out to be stressful. No fault of the hike. These unprecedented times mean sometimes everyone is stressed out.

I’m kind of done with unprecedented times personally.

There are many birds that are too far away to see clearly. If you’re into that. I like birds.

We hiked to the selfie spot; didn’t do the whole 7.4 miles. Not my choice. But you know how that goes. Having a hiking partner is nice. Even when it’s not.

There was a coyote, a very skinny one, under the freeway bridge on the way back.

Last night’s hike, I heard them but didn’t see them…

Set out late (and alone) after a science planning meeting that I don’t get paid for and do every week anyway. Thanks to my school board for voting on a reduction in salary plan last night. Work more, pay less. Really appreciate it y’all. It’s been a great year. This makes it so much better.

Gonna appreciate the puppy love…

And sweet kittens…

And get to work. Sigh. Ugh. It was rough yesterday. It will be rough today. Perhaps every day. And maybe after the really long union meeting I am foreseeing in my future tonight, I will make art. If I have the energy. I hope I do.

This Is My Day Off

Yeah. Some president gifted me this day so I could have extra time to grade stuff without having to try to do it during the work day. I do that too. Kids are completing work, asking me questions, typing in the chat, fucking around on Roblox or YouTube INSTEAD of doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and I’m answering questions, typing in the chat, shutting down Roblox and YouTube, but also encouraging everyone to finish ALL THE THINGS, all the while trying to grade the easier, less-brain-encompassing assignments on the other computer. Jumping between tabs on a slow-ass Chromebook the school gave me. The teacher Mac is slightly faster, but not by much. I need a third one that works at the speed of light. What are they giving me instead? Another monitor. So I can have two laptops and two extra monitors to WATCH things. And try to bounce between things, which is already an issue for me. ANYWAY. I have found that there are some things that need my full attention for grading: anything for an academic grade that is more than two sentences OR anything that is artistic and requires some sort of holistic analysis of effort and craftsmanship. Cannot do either of those while doing anything else. Usually I need a rubric up on one screen and the document/photo on another. Big screens. Not tiny Chromebook screens. Also can’t do late work particularly easily while teaching…too much bouncing between screens and printouts of gradesheets. So last night, I graded 62 of the 97 pieces of late work that had come in during the last 8 days. I’m still behind. I’m always behind. And now I have an admin semi-hounding me so she can check in with a parent. Sigh. If only the sweet dingbats would turn work in on time. Life would be so smooth.

We’re hiking today. And I’m cooking some semi-complicated dinner (is it? I don’t know if it is…I just know it has lots of ingredients). We’re getting a late start…I didn’t push for an early morning…no need. So there’s that. I’ll grade some more later today, hopefully get my bread started (I keep mistiming it), and get some more art time in.

Friday night, I ironed some pieces from Sue Spargo’s Homegrown block of the month to fabric and thought I was missing a piece…

I have plenty of fabric, so I found a green that was similar (minus the dragonflies) and used that. The block of the month is from 2018, so I knew I probably couldn’t get a replacement piece. It’s OK, though, because the next day, during my guild meeting, I figured out that the piece of green was folded under and I just hadn’t noticed. There was plenty of dragonfly fabric there.

It’s possible that I shouldn’t do anything on Friday nights that requires brainpower, y’all.

The rest of Friday night I spent putting fabric away from the last quilt and from some monthly shipments I thought I would use in a certain way and decided to just throw in the stash for general use.

I don’t keep a lot of fabric separated…just some Kaffe Fassett fabrics I need for a quilt I don’t seem to be working on at all. Awkward. But I bought them specifically for that quilt and there’s a ton of Fassett fabrics already in my stash, getting used regularly.

This meant I could start picking fabrics for the new quilt. Good plan. Cleaning is pretty brainless. I like the feeling of clearing the slate for the next piece. Remind me to pick fabrics I haven’t used lately in this new one. I’ve already blown that, I think. Whoops.

Saturday morning was my guild meeting. They are very activity-based, challenge-based. I don’t know how many challenges I can handle besides the real-world ones. I have done a tiny bit of wool quilting for the UFO challenge, but not much. I spent most of the meeting trying to get those Spargo pieces cut out and pinned down.

That space under the computer is useful. Then I did some stitch down on the 4th Applique Stories piece.

It’s relaxing to do this…

Just a different way of putting things together. Maybe someday I’ll finish one. Who knows…it could happen. For a while, at the beginning of the pandemic, I stitched through staff meetings and trainings. Now I work through them, planning, posting shit for classes, basic grading. Sad but true.

I love how flowers always make great boobs.

And hearts…certainly not what the designer intended, but I’m OK with that. I’m continuing with this series into 2021. We’ll see where it goes.

After the guild meeting, I needed to be outside. Too many meetings on Thursdays and Fridays.

I find I don’t get outside enough. And it looks like Spring…recent rains make things green. We came home and I did more outside, watering some, cleaning some, finding the speaker that got lost back in May or June last year…it was under a chair pad, and kudos to Anker, it still works.

It didn’t even need to be charged.

The man and I went out for dinner…facing away from everyone.

It’s a bit of a risk, but one that keeps us sane. We stayed home when the governor told us to, which is why the numbers went down. Probably they’ll be back up in 2-3 weeks because of the Super Bowl, unfortunately. Stupid people and parties.

Speaking of challenges, the SIL has issued one.

Definitely needs doing. Then I’m supposed to pass it on, keep passing until someone doesn’t want to any more, and see how many marks get done. I haven’t had time to pull my own stuff, but it’s on the list. Then maybe I’ll mail the card to the girlchild.

Poor Calli…post Super-Bowl dumbasses shooting guns, we think. Super loud. She doesn’t like it.

She’s old and somewhat deaf, but not deaf enough.

Last night, I finally got around to ironing the small owl commission together that I’ve been working on…

It’s the owl from the last quilt, just by itself. She likes owls. I think this is the third one I’ve done for her? Not sure. Maybe second. I’ve done a lot of owls. I recorded the ironing of it for my Patreon…well, at least most of it. It’ll go out to them next weekend, after I process it.

I toned down the background slightly from that in the original quilt. Something this small needs a different focus than in the big quilt. It’s ironed to a background now that will never be seen, so I’ll do stitch down sometime soon (damn, gonna have to pull that wool quilt off the machine to do that! Or finish it) and get it quilted and bound.

Then I started ironing Wonder Under to fabric on the newest piece…

Didn’t get far before it was midnight. Time slips. But it’s a start. Like I said, I wasn’t very good about picking new fabrics so far, but this was the sand and the sky. I guess I can try harder for the rest of it.

OK, ready to hike! Or something. Then do things.

Let Me Check My Bag of Feet…

One thing that’s sucked about this year (one thing…ha haha ha hysterical laughter ensues) is that school starts a half hour earlier. I mean, it doesn’t really. We had to be at school by 8:30, school started at 9. Now actual school still starts at 9, but we’re supposed to start working at 8, and I do. Usually I start earlier, actually, since my commute is really short. And I never stop. Because it’s always in my face. I did make the smart decision to move school out of my office/studio and into the living room when I started up again in August, so my studio is still my escape from work. I used to do quite a bit of schoolwork in here, and now I don’t. It’s safe here, there’s art materials, occasionally I do a Zoom meeting in here, but mostly, no. Also, the internet in here is wiggy as shit. Another reason to move out to where I can hook up directly to the internet.

Anyway, so having to start 30 minutes earlier doesn’t seem like much, but I refused to get up 30 minutes earlier, settling for 15 minutes earlier alarm time, figuring I don’t have to drive to work, so there’s the other 15 minutes. Many mornings though I still feel drugged by a lack of sleep when I start working…usually before 8. Ugh. Today is no exception. And I didn’t get enough work done this week…I’m behind on one assignment that will not be fun to score, plus all the stuff piling up from this week, oh and that other art assignment I didn’t get to yet, fuuuuuck. Yes, it’s a 3-day weekend, but I’d like to spend it all hiking and arting, and that’s not happening. I need to catch up. If you don’t stay on top of it, you get buried. Since we came back from Winter Break, and we’re teaching how we normally teach (well, best we can), it’s been much MUCH easier to get done with everything and get it graded, at least for science. Art is its own clusterfuck and will be a bigger one today when I delay some stuff because I couldn’t get done what I needed to get done for today and I’m pretty sure the real art teacher didn’t either. Sigh. Anyway, I am always trying to grab time back from my job and let there be a purpose besides a paycheck. It’s a shit year for good vibes from school, so I focus on what gives me some sense of satisfaction.

Like finishing a quilt. I didn’t post these earlier, because I am still searching my mind for a title (no, politely, I don’t want your help, many thanks, it will speak to me when I have time to listen)…

Obviously a quilt about childbirth, but the COVID virion is there as well…

Lurking in the soil with some other things.

I have an online show coming up with USC about childbirth…this Spring.

So I thought I’d do a quilt that just focused on that. I have many that refer to a variety of women’s issues related to the uterus.

Rockets are related.

Anyway, this piece is not huge…like 38″ wide by 65″ high (I’ll measure it for reals when I put it on the Gallery page)…

But it took a healthy 100 hours and 27 minutes to complete. Lots of pieces, lots of details. People ask. I started it in November 2020…and normally I would have finished it faster, but in November, my dad fell and ended up hospitalized, and interestingly, he came home Wednesday finally and I finished this quilt not that much before that. So it’s not surprising I wasn’t working fast.

Hey dad.

I went to see him, of course. I only saw him twice the whole time he was gone, due to COVID restrictions. It’s going to take a long time for him to get his memory and physical strength back, but we’re glad to have him. Even when he’s cranky.

I’ve been doing bits and pieces of artmaking in the evenings. I’m really tired these days. Exhausted I guess. Not enough sleeping is happening. I cut out the rest of the Wonder Under for the newest quilt.

This one only has 283 pieces, so it’s going super fast. It’s kind of nice.

I sorted the Wonder Under into bins last night in 9 minutes flat. It’s good I’m not doing a big one right now. I would’ve had to move all the demo stuff for chemistry and art to have the room. Maybe should stay away from a big one until we get through the chemistry units. Spring Break. That sounds good.

I’ve been doing some embroidery I’m not allowed to show you yet, but also started…no, continued quilting this Sue Spargo quilt from a million years ago. This is Earth & Twig, finished embroidering it before the girlchild went to college, but was scared to quilt it.

It’s the embroidery, man…it catches on everything and is annoying to quilt around. Plus I had never quilted wool before (that part is not hard). But mom and I talked extensively last night about FEET and the FOOT CATALOG (did you even know there was such a thing?) because my mom has ALL THE FEET IN THE WORLD and I really do not. I use TWO FEET (don’t most of us?), and when I got this machine, I couldn’t get a foot I liked, and for some reason, just put up with what it came with, but mom’s gonna call Jimmy (the sewing machine guy) and see if I can get a better FOOT. I was obviously semi-hysterical during most of the conversation, because whenever mom said she had a BAG OF FEET, I lost it.

It’s cool. It’ll be fine.

Lots of animals helping me with work these days…Simba barking at the asshole neighbor…

Good dog. There’s my super slow shitty school computer that I borrowed so I can see what the kids see on a Chromebook, but also use while my other computer is doing other things…and there’s the actual teacher-y school computer, which has its own issues, plus the monitor I pulled out of our stash of extras. And Kitten. Not helping by standing in front of the monitor that has the rubric for what I’m trying to grade.

Here’s where you get an idea of how fucking hard it is to grade online art…and it’s not just because of the cat in the way. Apparently the district is going to get us an extra monitor. For distance learning teachers. I think that’s when I first started the semi-hysterical laughter last night. Like keep shoving kids in my classes, because I don’t have to social distance, but almost a year into this fiasco, you’re gonna get me another monitor. Sigh. Fuck you. Whatever. Roll my eyes. I said they should come teach my classes today and see how it goes. People who aren’t in the classroom should NEVER EVER be allowed to make decisions about this shit. Or they should listen to us more.

Calli tolerating Nova, who is bunny-watching.

Kittens sleeping on the bed, until I came in…

They’re not kittens any more. But their faces there are very typical. Luna is pissed because I petted Nova first. Nova is a sweetheart.

My cat, Kitten, is demanding, but loving.

Follows me all over the house, demanding attention. Eating pine needles. Then throwing them up. Like a boss.

Speaking of bosses, I am sort of one…to 177…no wait, I’m down two who dropped…175 students (don’t tell the school; they’ll give me three to replace the two). And work starts in the other room in 6 minutes, enough time to take my meds and walk over there. And teach all day, trying to get everything under control and organized, trying to deal with parents who think I have time for phone calls and explanations that I’ve already said 7 or 8 times, for kids who need help (that I am willing to give) and assignments that aren’t graded or done, and planning that’s not complete, and posts that need to be made, and videos that need to be made. But a 3-day weekend will give me a little leeway, a little extra time for me and not school. And that’s a good thing to get to at the end of the day.

Manage This Better…

I am currently completely and totally procrastinating answering all the parent and kid school emails from this weekend. Some don’t need an answer; they were an appropriate acknowledgment to the weekly notifications I send about hey, y’all aren’t turning shit in. Unfortunately, some weren’t. I saw the first one roll in Friday night. I could say I ignored them, but I didn’t. I just didn’t answer them. So they’ve been sitting in my gut all weekend. Maybe that’s why I answer right away…so that doesn’t happen. Sure, I could be like some people and not have my email come to my phone…or my home computer…and I could never open my school computer during the weekend…HA HA HA…oh wait, that’s bullshit, because I can’t even come close to getting all my school work done in the 5 days of the week I’m paid to do it, who the fuck am I kidding? Anyway, it is my constant goal to manage this better, acknowledge my failure to do so, and move on. Those emails will get answered today; no one will like the answers, but oh well. The really annoying one from last weekend, the mom never emailed back and said, oh hey, I’m sorry for bitching you out for something you don’t even do, don’t have any control over, and tried to fix for me. No thanks, no sorry, no acknowledgment at all. Noted. Fully noted.

This job. Is. So. Hard. This. Year.

Luckily, when I went in to school on Friday, my co-teacher was still there and helped me (and my overwhelmed fuzzy brain) gather all the science-y stuff together for this week’s demos. Chemistry for all! It’s hard to make art around the job sometimes…literally, right now, I need the light table, and I have all this school stuff on it, so I’m trying to work around it. Or through it. Hard to say which.

Friday, I dropped my quilt at the photographer (pictures tomorrow!), then went to school, then to enlarge some drawings from December 2019-February 2020. You know, pre-COVID shit hitting the fan.

I only copied three drawings. They’re out of a 9×12″ sketchbook and I enlarged them 200%. I figured that was a good size for right now, when I don’t have much room on the light table or in my brain.

I think this was one of my Patreon drawings…maybe? Can’t remember.

This was one of the December drawings a day from 2019…because I didn’t even come close to doing that in 2020.

And this was from our Joshua Tree trip from February last year…

I sometimes go back and read previous year’s blogs for the same month as now, just to remind myself of the mindset at the time. It helps when I think things are out of control. I saw these drawings and thought they’d make good smaller quilts. I posted all three on Insta/FB, and there were a few votes for this one.

But I’d already picked the Joshua Tree one for the first quilt. I started tracing it last night and forgot to take any photos. I forgot a lot of things yesterday. I also stayed up way too late on Friday night trying to manage some of the stress in my head…stitching things down.

It didn’t really help. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ll figure it out.

I wanted to hike Saturday, but with all the rain on Friday (we got over an inch in 24 hours, which is a lot for us), we didn’t want to stomp through a muddy trail and destroy it, so we picked an urban hike, the Seven Bridges Trail. I’ve done it a couple of times, but the Man hadn’t. It starts in Balboa Park, where there were lots of people…

Bridge number 1…

It’s not a difficult hike…fairly flat…bridge number 2…

Interesting views though…bridge number 3…

And some intriguingly bouncy bridges…OK, only one bouncy one…bridge number 4…

Came through Hillcrest, which is constantly evolving, and got off the official trail down a back alley of murals…

Which is probably how we got over the 6-mile mark…

It’s a little weird waiting for signals during a hike…

Bridge number 5…did I miss one??? Maybe.

Yeah, I didn’t photograph one. I don’t know which one. Bridge number 6…no wait, I did it right…

Some people will argue this is not a hike, because it’s not ‘out in nature’. Except there was nature all around. Hence the urban word. Not my preferred type of hike, but we still walked the whole time, didn’t stop and get ice cream (although it would have been OK if we had)…

Bridge number 7…

And I’ve never been able to figure out why it’s the Seven Bridge Walk, if there are eight bridges…

Another side trip adding to our mileage…

Through the cactus garden at Balboa Park…

Bridge number 8…

Like I said, over 6 miles. Tired. But good. Outside. Too peoply. Next weekend, we’ll do a hike on dirt with fewer people around.

Saturday night, I ironed all the fabrics for the tiny owl quilt I’m making…

And then cut them out…

After doing the January Patreon drawing…

And numbering the third of the smaller quilt drawings…

Plenty of art happening. Plenty of work happening. It’s February now. I have 17 emails to answer before school.

I mean, my school district actually has kids in physical school too, but I have kids in school, every freakin’ school day, and yeah. Working my ass off. Stressed out. Overwhelmed. Buried. Don’t tell me I’m not working.

Cats…

They handle everything better than I do.

OK, work, then exercise, then art.

The Bones of This Nation

Ah Friday. But also rain, lots of it. I see a bit of blue sky out my window, but I don’t know if it will last. My moods are sort of mirroring the weather this week: fucking all over the map. I’m not sure why, but I bet there’s a reason. My job? Yeah some of it. Finishing a quilt? Not usually an emotional thing, but these are fucking unprecedented times. I think being immersed in a difficult and time-consuming project in a medium I love is a good thing, like a big chunky and all-encompassing book you’re reading, and it helps distract me from the other stuff that sucks or makes me anxious, and when it’s done, there’s this letdown, like WTF am I going to do now? I can’t have a single down day; I need a new project. It’s OK. In the back of my brain for days, I’ve been planning new projects. A few lighter ones and then perhaps a heavier one. It’s like my reading…I just finished reading the Indigenous People’s History of the United States, and it’s dense and heavy and often difficult to read…

Certainly some of this history better explains our fascination with our right to guns. I did love the ending though…

The bones of this nation will mend after the revolution. I can get behind that. I can get on that train. But this next book needs to be a bit lighter to help my mood.

Also, in the mood, my dad is finally coming home next week. His brain will take a year to heal. We don’t really know how he is at the moment. I just know my mom is really excited and we’re glad to have more time with him. So many things affect mood. I’ve been kind of trapped at home this week; didn’t get my mid-week walk due to emergency union meetings, so I’m antsy and irritable, more than usual. Hiking tomorrow though. Hopefully.

So I managed to do all the hand sewing on the binding in one four-hour marathon run on Wednesday…

I started in book club and finished on the couch with a variety of animals.

This is an amazingly bad, late-night picture of it…

Of course, I stayed up past midnight on a school night to finish it. It’s going to the photographer this week.

A friend liked the owl up in the tree and asked for a small quilt of it…so I traced it…

Inked it…

Traced it on Wonder Under…

And cut it out last night…

It’s ready for ironing to fabric tonight. It’s a palate cleanser…super small, super easy. And I have a smallish drawing picked out for the next one…one that caught my eye as I was reading back through my blog…I do that as a sanity check, although this last year is a doozy.

I had book club Wednesday, yesterday was full of meetings…this is my work desk view…and the Zoom window on the left is my prep room at school…

I’ll be there today, picking up materials for next week’s demo. My co-teacher is awesome and gathers everything as I panic at home. It’s not ideal. But it’s functional…

I also had a stitching meeting last night. I can’t show what I’ve been embroidering for the last few months, because it hasn’t published yet; just know you’ll see it soon enough. But I did this start of a mend…

I really love this shirt and it developed some holes on the belly area…that’s where I get all my shirt holes. I’m going to embroider/slow stitch over it and wear it anyway. Saving clothes, one shirt at a time.

It’s been chilly here and kittens have been doing lots of cute curling upness.

They are sweethearts.

I have work in this upcoming show in LA. I probably won’t get to see the show, but it’s nice to have this piece shown…show notice…

And the huge piece that will be there…One of My Kind

Those are my kids, my mom, and my grandmother…she’s the skeleton. We bury them, but they still live on in our hearts and minds and often our behaviors.

OK, today will be long and full of work, but hopefully ending in some artistic endeavors and a good night’s sleep. I hope. And hopefully a mood shift. I don’t always have control over those, but I try.

Macro and Micro

I’m listening to a podcast right now that’s talking about your macro goals and micro goals…there’s the big picture and there’s my picture. I am aiming for a better world, one that focuses on being more inclusive and awesome and empathetic, embracing success for all and environmental health for our future, best we can, and there’s a lot of people who don’t agree with me, but I need to keep aiming for that. Maybe I can’t change the minds of the people around me, but if I keep aiming for that big goal with my smaller goals, with my art, with teaching, with whatever I have, then hopefully people will come with me, will see whatever I put out there, and like-minded people will join me. And over time, those messages will still be out there, doing their thing. I’ve been so buried in my head with how to change minds that probably won’t change, might not change because of me…so just make the work and speak the message, and hopefully it will make a difference. Somewhere. At some point.

I don’t know how this plays out with my micro goal of what the fuck is the next quilt? But I’ll figure it out.

I’m tired today. The rain was loud last night. It kept me awake. I don’t do well with noisy nights. Also, I did a lot of non-school stuff this weekend, which I needed to do, need to keep doing, but it meant I was doing some crazy stressful catch-up stuff yesterday afternoon and evening, that stuff where I feel like I can’t take a deep breath because there’s so much of it, and then I have to stop so I can rethink how to breathe. This year is so full of that crap (by this year, I mean everything since March 13th, y’all, when they sent us home and told us not to come back). I know I’m not the only person dealing with anxiety out there. I keep thinking it looks like there’s a light, an end to this crazy, but vaccine shortages don’t help and then there’s no vaccine for kids, so what does that look like for my being back in a classroom? I just don’t know.

Anyway, so today I teach…in 20 minutes or so, I’ll sit down at the OTHER desk (separate work and personal life, well sort of, because they both happen in both places, but best you can) and try to remember what I’m supposed to be doing for school today. Saturday night, I spent some time after my class doing a training on Violent Critical Incidents (aka shooter-in-school training). I find the trainings really stressful and anxiety-causing, especially videos of kids jumping attackers; that stuff fucking terrifies me. So after that, I did some of the free-motion machine stitching on my Acropolis piece…

There’s still a bunch of hand stitching that needs to happen.

And then the man and I decided to continue this mystery box thing where we’re trying to solve a fake murder (Fake seemed OK…more that I could DO something instead of just watching). This is the second of six boxes. We were able to successfully eliminate the first suspect a few weeks back, and then the second one on Saturday night, after decoding this…

Apparently decoding shit is something we’re good at. Although we figured the code out eventually, once we’d already done all this, pretty much.

I didn’t get to quilting until last night, due to art meetings and school prep and all that crazy stuff, but I was sure I wouldn’t get much done…

But there’s a lot less stuff in the sky, so I managed to finish all the outlining…

I briefly thought, oh yeah! I’m done! But forgot about the stuff around it, the borders. So I’ll do those tonight, trim it up, and see if I have anything that will work as a binding. And then figure out what I’m working on next.

Yeah. That. Back to micro vs macro goals. Can I change the world? Probably not. But I’m gonna try. In the way I know how.

I did have to laugh as I left the studio last night. There are 5…FIVE…in-progress projects that I have worked on in the last week in here.

1 is my Craft Napa plastics project with Natalya Khorover…just needs more hand stitching and an edge finish.

2 is my applique stories woman, who needs to be hand-stitched down.

3 is the current quilt.

4 is the Acropolis piece, which needs more hand stitching and some sort of finish technique.

5 is the cross stitch I finished, which is hooped and just needs a backing, so it can be mailed off.

No wonder I feel psychotic and flailing sometimes. Too many things to focus on, and this doesn’t even touch on house stuff (24 bags of gravel in the river bed so far…need at least 12 more) or school stuff (panic attack, breathe breathe breathe). So you can see that my own art, my personal stuff, I just need to focus on it. It calms me, focuses me, helps with all the other shit. And part of this year has been not having as much mental space and time for it, and that is not helping. So find me that time. Micro goal. Find me the time.

Also, maybe be more chill. Like Kitten.

Except with a book. Or a sketchbook. Yeah.