Different Shade of Red

Field trip day. Pros: no teaching in the AM, get to be outside (sort of?), and I’m chaperoning the introvert art geek girls (they picked ME! OK, I was one of them in middle and high school). Cons: I still have to teach 7th grade (hoping the annoying ones go home early or don’t come to school), I’m going to the Midway (ah, me and the military, such a fit), my knee is still not the best (I totally fell off my physical therapy schedule with getting sick), and I’m totally exhausted already. At least it’s different. I appreciate a different day every once in a while. A change in the routine. It isn’t until we’re on the buses, though, that it feels OK. Right now, it just feels stressful, but since my co-teacher did almost everything (!), I really shouldn’t complain. She’s awesome, IDK how she does it, oh yeah, she has a student teacher and I always say no to those. NOT rethinking that. The day I say yes is the day I get some perky little thing that drives me bonkers.

In other news, it’s Friday, hallelujah, even if I have to spend all of tomorrow doing taxes and planning for next week, I don’t care, because it will be here where I can pee when I want and make 7 thousand cups of tea and pet dogs and cats in wild abandon. Plus no annoying, gaslighting 13-year-old boys who are clueless about life. I do appreciate most of them, because most of them in 8th grade seem to be getting a clue or are totally mature and responsible and amazing. Which I tell them all the time. One of the gaslighters told me he would be a MAN next year (age 14, freshman in high school) and he would be nice to me when I was nice to him. OMG. SHHHHHHH. I told him I figured he’d be OK, he’s smart enough, eventually he would figure out what he needed to do.

So being away from all that shit for two days is a plus. I do appreciate a huge number of my kids…I really do. They do the things, they think, they try, they work, they ask questions, they figure stuff out. They’re fun even when they’re having a hard day, because they realize they’re having a hard day. It’s a pretty small percentage of those who drive us bonkers, but this year, the bonkers is taller and wider.

I ironed on Wednesday night…

I started ironing all the little figures the main figure is protecting. I needed lots of small runs of different flesh tones. Hopefully it works out.

Then last night, I finished those and started on the rest of the bits and pieces that make up the figure.

The top left bin is all the fabrics I used for the figures; there are 7 of them. I couldn’t even iron all their hearts onto the same red fabric. They needed their own shade of red. Crazy, I know. I have a few of the 300s left, and then I think I’m in the 400s. So more than halfway? I think? Who knows. My biggest issue is what to do with the main figure’s hair. When I decided to make her blue (on a blue background), I didn’t really consider hair. I might just go for some crazy multi-color thing. We’ll see. Probably tonight we’ll see.

The right eye is twitching again. It went away for a bit, but it’s back.

I also had my stitching Zoom meeting last night, so I worked on one of the May Homegrown blocks from Sue Spargo.

I’ve been working on these forever. Then again, her Bird Crazy (not its real name) quilt is still under my machine, and I think I started quilting it in January. It would probably take 2 or 3 hours to finish it…it’s on my list for Spring Break. So is EVERYTHING though.

I figured this out really quickly…

I have a screenprint from before the kids are born that is called Make It So. Someday I’ll get all my prints photographed (or copied from slides) and posted somewhere. Not this year.

OK. I have to go to school. Need to put a snack in my bag. Need to make sure I’m ready for later. Ha! I’m never ready for later. More tea. Don’t forget to pee. Phone fully charged. Lunch ready for when we get back (I’d better get to eat…it’s always an issue these days and that sucks). Exhaustion level high, but we all know how to deal with that. Six days of school until Spring Break. We can DO this. Also, I want to read my book. Hmmm. Later.

Fabric of a Nation…

Hello. It’s a holiday for me. Hence my writing at a weird hour. It’s been a weird day. For one thing, we left on a short road trip Saturday morning and got back yesterday afternoon, so today I’ve been trying to do all the things I would’ve done yesterday and the day before, and I’m running out of time. Which is pretty standard for my weekends, unfortunately. I needed some significant brain power for one thing though, so I did most of that first. I’m not done, but I’m on a roll, and I think that will help in the long run.

Meanwhile, why the road trip? Two art opportunities: Fabric of a Nation is at the Skirball Cultural Center through March 12, and it’s been on my list since it opened in Boston. So that was my original plan. Then figured I might as well make a weekend of it and do a loop past the Cheech in Riverside, since I hadn’t been there since it had opened. Both incredible shows. Lots of color. Lots of amazing imagery. I’m going to try to put it on here, but there’s a lot (and there’s more photos I took, but I don’t have the time to do all of them, so I picked the best of the bunch).

So this was my first Bisa Butler piece in person, I think. I’ve seen photos and videos, but it’s never the same as closeup.

This is To God and Truth

Her use of patterned fabric is amazing.

There’s no such thing as ‘too busy’.

This was a detail from an old applique quilt that had some racist blocks on it. This is Scenes of American Life by Mrs. Cecil White.

I always wonder if she meant to be racist, or was completely clueless about it. Or if it was commentary (unlikely; the quilt is from the 1920s). There’s so little known about some of these. Her technique is pretty fascinating for the time. Too bad parts of it are questionable in subject matter.

This crazy quilt was kind of amazing. It’s by Celestine Bacheller.

Fascinating. Most crazy quilts might have one center pictorial block, and then regular pieced crazy quilt blocks around. I’ve never seen one like this.

Carolyn Mazloomi’s graphic Strange Fruit II was even more emotional in person than in photos.

Just black and white. No way to shy away from the topic.

A detail from the Harriet Powers’ quilt…

I always think I take more (and better) pictures than I actually do. I remember seeing pictures of this one when I started quilting in the 90s. It was mind-boggling then in its simplicity. Still is.

And this one, Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Kisasi Ramsess.

Amazing use of color, again, and patterned fabrics that don’t seem to belong together and yet do.

We spent the night in Pasadena, near where I grew up. I worked on one of the Sue Spargo blocks in the car and while watching a strange movie…

And I did iron on Friday night…

Wings and a strange cat. Not this one…

Although she is pretty strange. And toothless. Or light on teeth, anyway.

There were signs at the Skirball as part of another art project by Chloë Bass called Wayfinding, up through September.

Lots of thought-provoking stuff. Do you laugh or…?

Hard to say. We walked around Pasadena a bit looking for art (all closed up), found some food and drink.

Drew something weird.

Then the next morning, drove through my old neighborhood and said hi to the house I mostly grew up in…

Cool house. Interesting what they cut down and what they leave. It was a nice place to grow up in, the house anyway. Some of the town was not so nice, but that’s another story.

OK, I have work to do, so all the Cheech photos will have to wait until later. I did iron yesterday night though…these were all the fabrics I used on one kind of weird steampunk butterfly.

I’m a little more than halfway through the 1200s now. Getting close to done.

I do need to go back to work now, though…need to grade some stuff and do some more planning, make sure I’m ready for tomorrow (don’t FEEL ready, and there’s a staff meeting in the morning, which is different). This week, I will hopefully be very efficient (unlike last week) and finish all the things, plus get done with the ironing on this thing so I can start cutting them out. Everything is taking a lot of time. I’m glad I took two days off and did some ME stuff, but I knew I’d pay for it today and the rest of the week, so there’s that. It’s nice to have the extra day, though, to catch up. Won’t see that for another 38 days. To be very specific.

Become One with the Slow…

Friday the 13th. In a middle school. Wait, what’s the damn moon doing right now…OK…we’re just waning gibbous. That should help. Yeah. Usually I enjoy a good Friday the 13th, but this week has been rough for everyone. I’m tired, the kids are tired. I thought yesterday went OK, but then I got an email. Sigh. Well I’ll hopefully deal with that today, with admin support, plus I don’t think I have a lot of grading for this week, because we just started a bunch of things (although I’m still playing catchup with stuff from December). I spent an hour yesterday dealing with late work for all but one class. I still need to do redoes. Where I let kids fix their work. So they learn from it. Even though it’s torture for me to try to regrade these, looking at what they wrote originally, what comments I left, what does the rubric from December or November say, and how did they change it. Ugh. Hate it, but it’s necessary.

Glad it’s Friday.

I’ve done a little tracing the last two nights…honestly, not even getting an hour in each night. Starting too late, trying to get back in the habit of going to bed earlier. I started training myself back on the 10:30 bedtime last week, but mostly failed at it. Ah well. Soon the exhaustion will help. Hopefully.

The first 150 pieces are mostly big dirt pieces with some smaller stuff interspersed. Big rock pieces take longer to trace because they’re big. And sometimes complicated. So it seems really slow.

I have to become one with the slow. I had to cut a second piece of Wonder Under because the weird shapes wouldn’t fit between all the other weird shapes and they’re all big. It’s OK…when I get to the little pieces, they will all fit between all the big pieces. It’s a puzzle.

I’m only 2 hours in…more this weekend, I hope. It’s supposed to rain most of the weekend. I’m hoping for big chunks of tracing time while listening to weird TV. Although I need to have a crown replaced, my neighbors are having some sort of dessert and drinks gathering, two animals need to go to the vet, we’re having dinner with the parentals…see, the days just get filled up.

Ah, complicated. This is the complicated I like.

Last night was my monthly in-person stitching meeting. Fun stuff.

Fun little house. Fun stitching. We spent time oohing and aahing at each other’s projects, complaining about work, looking up the pronunciation and etymology of syncytial, and talking about books. All worthwhile. This is still Sue Spargo’s Homegrown. I’ll be working on it all year probably. Easily.

Um. I am both of these. Except I don’t delete emails after reading them. I might need them again. I delete a LOT of them, but not all of them. And 12 tabs is nowhere near enough. On this computer, which I don’t use for work as much as I used to, there are 23 tabs open. You can imagine that the work computer is much worse. It is. I organize my Flair pens by what I use them for: writing on docs in class (dark so it’s easy to see on the doc cam), light and bright for grading (make it cheery!), ugly colors I will never use but will never throw out (because that’s anathema). But I also have an entire drawer, another box, and random other locations where pens go to die. Or live free lives, depending on how you look at it.

I think my right eye stopped twitching for maybe 2 days over break. It’s back.

Here’s Luna being sweet.

She didn’t even whack me after I petted her…she just reached out like she was GOING to whack me.

OK. School. Get classroom ready for today. Teach centripetal force and momentum (a little bit), give a quiz, get kids learning about the history of roller coasters, then pivot to atoms and matter, finish up the elements exploration lab that should have been done yesterday, make kids read an article even though they don’t know how to read (pretty sure we have a recording of one of us reading it) and watch a video where they have to pay enough attention to answer the questions. On a Friday. The first Friday back after break. That’s two grade levels there…I’m not teaching the same classes both roller coaster physics AND atoms and matter. Just to be clear.

Stand at a traffic light for 15 minutes, ready to call 911 if a kid crosses at breakneck speed while staring at their phone because some parent was in a hurry to turn the corner without looking for kids…around a school. Go home and spread some wildflower seeds for the upcoming rain deluge, PUT MY PAJAMAS ON, take my bra off, read a book? Drink some tea? Maybe grade some stuff that’s easy. Maybe plan something that’s easy. Maybe not. Maybe stare at cat videos for 45 minutes. Then make dinner (who thought THAT was a good idea). Then trace a bunch of dirt. More dirt. Lots more dirt. Things in the dirt. Dirt. Love me some dirt.

I Can’t Say That I’m Ready…

Well. Here we are. The first day back to work. No kids today (which is good, because I’m not even ready for a room full of educational staff, let alone a school full of tired and cranky middle-schoolers). Introverts love this sort of all-school meeting. Really. We do (want to just crawl into a corner under a desk with our books).

I can’t say that I’m ready. There’s a bunch of stuff I should have done over the weekend, and honestly, let’s be straight up, I didn’t do any of it. Which means it all has to be done today. Ha! That’s not happening either. I do need to copy one thing (there was no more paper last week) and do my seating charts on paper (they exist in the machine). I didn’t grade two things so far…I’m thinking I can do the easy one while I am supposed to be reviewing my strengths and how they will help me do my job. I didn’t grade all the late work and redoes…just about half of them. 20/48 left to go. Plus 6. Ugh.

Stop thinking about work for a moment and think about art! The California Fibers’ opening at the Cannon Gallery was Saturday afternoon. Here’s my two pieces in the show (for some reason, I was relegated to the corner).

And here’s the Man with the quilt he inspired…

So there was that. There were a lot of people at the opening and it felt overwhelming, but there seemed to be a positive response. Honestly I was surprised they took any of my work because they are one of the ‘family-friendly’ galleries (it’s city-owned), but of the three I entered, they took the two that were less nude than the other one, so I’m happy with that. It’s something.

Meanwhile, my goal was to finish the current drawing…so on Friday night, I had inked this far, but had penciled in the bottom right as well…

I love a really complicated drawing. Although I forgot that the handle needed to go OVER the fingers. Ah well. Liquid paper is my friend.

Saturday night, I inked the bottom right…but in typical Nida fashion, did not take a picture of it. I still had some details to add to the bird and last night, I added the tree to fill that space. Plus a few more bug things and another bone.

That’s 9 hours and 17 minutes of drawing there.

Then last night, I started numbering…

And then (after more than an hour) went OH SHIT because it was late and I had to go to work this morning. Fuck. So I stopped at piece 938, which might be halfway? And might not. Tune in tonight to see the total. I’m guessing 1800 pieces. Which is fine. It is. Really. It is.

I did the second figure on this dinner drawing Saturday night…

I’m still not sure it’s done. And I think the one on the left was supposed to be male, but now has a uterus, which seems fair to me.

One of the reasons I didn’t get any schoolwork done yesterday is that I was prepping some quilt sandwiches for a friend of mine who stitches but does not quilt. She did the cross stitch, and I’m making 9 of these and basting them for her.

She’ll do the handquilting, and then I’ll stitch them all into a quilt. Somewhat time-consuming, but not horrible. I’m a little less than halfway with the basting. I’m hoping to finish it tonight or tomorrow night, so I can deliver them to her, and then she’ll take 6-9 months to quilt them before I have to worry about the next part. Which is harder, but still doable. I’ve never done a quilt-as-you-go quilt. There’s always a first time.

I noticed we had more caterpillars on the dying milkweed…

But not all of them are monarchs…

Or are they? That said, the internet isn’t helping much with this one. Too many variations. Anyway, I’ve got about 4 or 5 of them at the moment, all sizes, and the Man says he saw a monarch lay an egg the other day, so I need to get more milkweed. I planted what few seeds I had left, but it’ll be a while before they’re big enough to feed anything.

Meanwhile, when your owl pellets are all gross and covered in stuff, just leave them out in the weather to clean themselves up. They look great after a few months.

Gopher on the left? The right is something else, I think, but it’s still got too much fluff on it. I’ll have to go check the owlet skelly I left out and see how it’s cleaning up.

I forgot the WTF list from the curriculum we had to reconstruct on Thursday and Friday…these were all (well, most) of the things that made us think (or yell) WTF.

This curriculum comes out of Stanford University, by the way. Really shouldn’t have to deal with this. You can see the frustration increasing as we get down the list.

I went to my quilt guild meeting on Saturday and worked some more on my body scarf.

It’s slow but enjoyable. It may never be done.

Can’t go wrong with this stuff…

I almost bought that book to take to work today. But I do give a fuck. That’s the problem.

Kitten enjoying a hint of Spring before the next Winter storm kicks us in the butt…

She likes to sit there.

And last but not least, if I’m going to have to get up at ugh in the morning, you might as well give me a sunset worth getting up for…

My camera missed all the pinks in there, but it was glorious. Unlike the rest of the day. Sitting in a big room with a ton of people. I don’t hate my job. I’m just finding it incredibly overwhelming the last three years…worse each year? No, the 2020/2021 year was bad, last year was slightly better (block schedule, 2 preps, and still COVID made it hard), and this year is bad for the workload…similar to the 2020 year. I just need a year that is less about creating All New Stuff and more about refining stuff, making it better, focusing on behaviors and academics, not so buried in trying to learn new things AND do the old things AND all the other stuff the district continues to throw at us. Yeah. We’re not even at the halfway point…that’s in two weeks? Three? Something like that.

Anyway. I do have to go. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.


Quick! Write the blog before you get sidetracked by that email that came in about a show, plus the name of that hedgehog your therapist recommended you look up, and the fact that your tea is already cold…again. Plus try not to think about grading, because even though you bribed yourself all day yesterday, you didn’t FINISH (of course not) and you need to FINISH. Plus yeah. So many things. Is this headache your neck and you need to schedule the chiropractor (probably)? Did you answer that email about the DNA extraction kits (maybe)? Did you finish planning the roller coaster unit (fuck no)? OK. Well. Nope. Got distracted about a folder on Google Drive.

My daughter was diagnosed as ADD years ago. Sometimes I wonder about me. But also on the spectrum? Or just antisocial? (Me, not the daughter) Or is it just that I’m old (not really, if you look at the spectrum, the OTHER spectrum, of age) and people annoy the shit out of me? Maybe that.

OK. I checked the folder on Google Drive. I can move on with my life.

It’s quiet here, except for the dog barking. And the kids next door shooting off their nerf guns. Popopopopopopopop. I’m not on that side of the house, or I’d turn music on to drown that shit out. Boychild and the Man have gone back to work. I just work here. I’ll be at school Thursday and Friday to rewrite a stupid curriculum that I have no choice about, but at least I’m getting paid for those 10 hours. Ugh. Today, I need to finish grading that thing from yesterday and one more thing, finish the roller coaster planning (both unpaid), get my retinas scanned (like you do), go to Pilates, cook dinner (new recipe, might kill me), get the dog to go out and pee even though it’s wet out, finish another book (I finished the one that was due, but this one, I’m at 94% and honestly, the ONLY thing I want to do today is finish that book dammit), work on the quilt that’s on the machine, work on a donation quilt, work on a quilt that I’m helping a friend do, and draw the next piece. Short list, eh? There’s some other stuff I need to do, but I don’t feel like driving to REI or finding the leaf blower (probably not here) or moving gravel. So there.

Sleep and read, man. That’s where I’m at. Unfortunate.

So the current quilt…is still in the drawing stage and probably will be for the rest of this week. Because I’m having a lot of fun letting my brain just wander around with this biopunk/steampunk/cyberpunk, channeling Margaret Atwood and other weird shit that’s in my head because science teacher brain.

I started inking Monday night…

I really got into it. I sat on the couch for about an hour, spacing out, watching cat videos, and then got up and did this.

I had penciled stuff in, but I always change it a little when I use ink. I moved the entire butterfly up a bit.

The post-its have notes about stuff I want to think about or put into the drawing, and then in the middle of the night, I have ideas and I type them into my phone for the next time I’m drawing…

There’s more penciled in above and below…not slacking on the details in this one. So I’m going to keep going. It’s not political (yet. Or is it?).

I’m also still quilting this, although to be honest, not working consistently on it.

Two columns done, three to go, plus borders. It doesn’t take long; I just have a lot of other shit going on right now. You might have noticed.


This was my view for 4 hours yesterday…probably another 4 today, if I can pull that off. Ugh.

Boychild made his own birthday cake…raspberry frosting was quite tasty…

It was chocolate on the inside, so I didn’t get a taste of it, but the rest of the fam did when they came by for presents.

We have a very similar picture from last year (watching the boychild open stuff). Mom petting the dog.

Where’s MY cake?

From the book I finished, which was better than I was expecting:

My milkweed is not only still blooming, but has caterpillars!

I would have thought it was too cold for them, but there are three of them…

I need to plant more seeds because these plants are at their leggy ends…

As you can see.

Plus now my deck has fungus…

I really need to replace these top boards. In my spare time. Ugh. Maybe summer.

OK. More tea (or heat this cup up for the fourth time). Read my book. (C’mon, it’s still break). Eat lunch. Grade some stuff. Then let them scan the eye (means I have to put pants and a bra back on. Ugh). Then more grading and some exercise. More tea. Break is coming to an end. Need to enjoy it as much as possible.

Not So Single-Minded…

Hello 2023. And Happy New Year to those who make a mental shift about now for that reason. We made a nice warm dinner, played a wordy game for a while (until someone got tired of losing), and then I mentally flailed while watching Serpent Queen until 11:57 PM, when we searched for a fake ball drop that happened 3 hours earlier, kissed, and went to bed. It rained all night.

The mental flail was more about what to work on…this is why I don’t like a lot of down time between art projects. It makes me uncomfortable to just SIT and not do anything. That said, I have a book I need to finish by Wednesday at 7:09 PM. I think I’m going to make it, but I had to stop reading the one I was almost done with and focus on this one, which I wasn’t expecting much of, but it is proving more interesting than I thought. I joined a new book club with my friends in the old one, this one focused on mysteries. Hoping for some more recommendations. Hoping to read more, actually. It’s been hard to fit that in once school is in. Too much visual stimulation, reading-like, for school. Not very interesting stuff most of the time. But I managed 55 (almost 56) books last year…not bad…could be better.

So I made a goal to do better in 2023. Things I care about right now: reading, art, travel, my family, my friends. My job is pushing it this year. I obviously care about it because I don’t blow it off. I just think it is taking more than it should from me. Yeah.

Anyway, what else has been going on? Well you know that drawing I started the other day? I rolled it up and put it away. I have two deadlines I’m looking at that are pretty far out, but I find both of them interesting, so I had picked one, the one I’ve been thinking about for months, but then when I got to the paper, I felt like I didn’t know enough to draw it yet. I do have a rough sketch on that paper and I’m not giving up on it; it’s just that the other one started talking to me. Mostly during this hike we did on New Year’s Eve (trying to avoid the rain and the people who like to hike on the first day of the year, by hiking on the last day of the year instead).

Hollenbeck Canyon out past Jamul…

It was nice and cool…well, actually cold and rainy at times…

Totally great for letting your brain wander around…

My knee behaved fine…I’ve been doing physical therapy and trying to exercise enough. I find it’s hard to get out of the pajamas right now. Easier when it’s cold and wet to just stay on the couch and not do anything.

But I feel worse after that. So this is better. I think today is officially the last day of break when I have nothing that I have to do on my calendar. Which sucks. Lots of work and medical stuff over the rest of the week, with a little art stuff sprinkled in. I guess I have to think about work. Don’t want to. As usual.

ANYWAY, back to the drawing, I had done some research (I like to research stuff) and came up with some things tickling my brain, mostly Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy (my goodness, how DO you spell that…ah, one more capital letter). And some other stuff. Anyway, I cut out a piece of paper, walked away from it, and then started drawing.

So far, I’m all in pencil.

Yeah, I need to put the Xmas stuff away. Didn’t want to pull the boxes out yesterday with all the rain and wet. Maybe today.

So I will probably start some ink tonight, then some more pencil. Today is the boychild’s birthday. He is getting old enough that it makes ME feel old. Until it doesn’t. Because I’m not that old. Anyway, I don’t think any of that will stop me from drawing tonight, but I do want to get to a stage of this piece that is easier to do with less energy before school starts, because I know I will HAVE less energy when school starts, both mentally and physically. I’m having to full-on STEEL myself for going back (you can do it, one day at a time, you will get through it). Maybe that is always the case, but it seems worse right now. Certainly I feel in giant flail mode.

I have been slowly trying to stitch my way around this giant-ass quilt…

And I finished the April Homegrown blocks (Sue Spargo) finally…moving on to May now.

That sun in the lower right block took a goodly chunk of time on New Year’s Eve. And thread!

Oh yeah, more of the piñata show at the Mingei…

Not what you would expect from a piñata show…

Definitely worth going though…

Just think of it more as papier-mache sculpture. Plus the Mingei has other funky craft work all over the place…

Gotta love a giant Earth covered in beads.

Nova would. If she were allowed to.

Instead, she loved me.

Right up there in your face.

OK. I dreamed (nightmared?) about not having a shower last night. I’m not sure why, but it made me really want one this morning. I have a quilt to quilt, a drawing to draw, and a lot of work to work. I’m hoping to do some of all of it. Also need to pack up a fabric donation box or two, plus cut up more blocks for a donation quilt. I’m liking deadlines that are a long ways out so I don’t have to be so single-minded about making, although it freaks me out when I don’t have something to be single-minded about. I also need to read another third of my book so I finish it before it’s due (I figured a third a day would work). And enjoy the last day of break before the have-tos really kick in. Seems doable.

The List of Things I Feel Like Doing

Yeah I’m about 10 hours off on my normal writing time. I meant to write this morning before I left, but then I had to deal with doctor stuff and then I just plain old ran out of time. I think I read my book for a while too instead getting on with things. Hey, it’s break. I’m allowed.

So the year is almost over. I like reviewing previous year-almost-over posts to see what I was thinking. Last year’s thought was stop having expectations of years. It’s funny…no not funny, strange…but I already know that the next 6 months will be hard jobwise, so I’m just trying to center a reality in that. Balance, my ass. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions in January…I’m a teacher. We do them in August. So accept some of the shit and try to rein it in, pepper it with things I want to do: some art exhibits, some camping, a music show, maybe a trip or two. Then hope to Goddess that the 2023-2024 school year is better than this one.

I just looked at my calendar in here…stopped crossing days off on the 22nd. Good plan.

So since Wednesday, I had some friend time, two friends visiting, separately, so I parsed some time out of my incredibly busy (book-reading) schedule for them. Yeah, I know. Actually, I worked on school stuff for a good chunk of Thursday afternoon, got 8 days of school planned out for real, minus the daily warmups. That was good. I had done a chunk of it already, but needed to figure out this one 3-day assignment and then how everything else fit in. So that felt good. I also did a bunch of doctor things and breakfast with the one friend, down here from Seattle…here’s the only photo I got, in the elevator (I tell you, this is the year of shitty documentation as far as people go)…

There are two other people in the weird elevator with me. Today? I took no pictures of people today, only piñatas. I always forget. Ah well.

OK. So I finished that little quilt…which got named Christmas Lights ’93 (after the year it was drawn)…

I got the binding and sleeves sewn on Wednesday, I think. Then got the binding sewn Wednesday night…

And finished the sleeves last night…

In case you’re saying to yourself, oh hey, I bet that was quick (it was, compared to most of my pieces)…guess how long it took? C’mon. Guess.

Nine hours and 5 minutes. Yeah. Not bad. It’s not huge though either…15″ wide x 13″ high.

The next one will be bigger. I cut paper at about 44″ wide and 54″ high…dunno if that will work, but it seemed like big enough to do what I want but not absolutely massive like some.

So far, it’s a bunch of really light, vague pencil sketches and some totally appropriate post-its (thanks to the SIL for those). It’s possible that I should start a different drawing first, but at the moment, this one is speaking to me. We’ll see. I have two deadlines I’m looking at, and both of them are far enough out that I should be able to do them both, but last year, I thought I would be done with the desert quilt in April, and that so didn’t happen, not even close.

I was freaked out by my finished quilt list for 2022 yesterday, thought I had only finished 5 quilts in the whole year, although 4 were large. Usually I can pull off 6 or more though. Then I remembered I hadn’t put the other one on the list, so 6 it is. Whew. By the skin of my teeth with a tiny finish in the last week. Two finished in December and one in November. It’s been a rough year for artmaking. Sucks.

I did get two back from the photographer today…this is Same As It Ever Was

She’s 57” w x 71” h. Took me from July to November to finish her. Ugh to school for that.

Then this one, which has a tentative name or two, so you’ll just have to wait until I post her into the gallery for a real title…

She’s 35.5 w x 43.5 h and was finished last week. Her fake title for the last month was Vomit…so I need something better than that. No suggestions please. I’ll get there. Some of them, like Same, have names from the very beginning. A small few get titles while I’m working, and most of them just need to percolate in my head for a day or two before it comes to me. This one might be more than a day or two. Give it time.

I also wanted to get this quilt quilted…it’s been pinbasted for over a year, I think. This is a Sue Spargo block-of-the-month pattern that I have always called Bird Crazy, but I know that’s not the real name.

I stitched most of these birds at the girlchild’s soccer games in high school. It got sewn together and then there were 90 balls that had to be sewn on…I think that was at the beginning of COVID? I could be wrong. OK, so I finished embroidering the last of 30 birds in July of 2016. This is the 2013 BOM (I like the embroidery, not the finishing). Oh yeah, and there are 96 balls. Anyway. So this is a 10-year finish? Maybe.

I’ve quilted 7 of the blocks so far. It’s not hard, but I have to be a little creative with figuring out what to do on each block. Keep it simple but not? So that should be done next week hopefully. A few a day. Although none today. So far. It’s relaxing to quilt. Meditative, I’ve said it before. Also to embroider. And draw. Bird DANCE it’s called.

I thought I was done with this block (and hence all of the April blocks), but no, there is a giant trellis stitch sun…

Something you have to stitch all in one go. So not right now. This is also Sue Spargo. It is called Homegrown and might be the 2019 quilt? Maybe? I have another one done and ready for pinbasting, but quilting it will be a mess. Probably this one will be too…so much stitching on them. Maybe just lots of stuff in the skies. I prefer the embroidery parts of these to the finishing parts.

I have two pieces that will be in this show at the Cannon Gallery in Carlsbad.

The opening is January 7 from 2-4 PM. One piece has never been in a show, so that’s cool. I will be at the opening.

We made it to the piñata exhibit at the Mingei today. Very cool.

Totally recommend. I love the Mingei…and hadn’t seen the new and improved version. It’s nice.

Also love that I live somewhere that people don’t ban books. Because that’s stupid.

Also going to go add all the banned books to my reading list, those I haven’t already read (which is an awful lot of them). Also Texas? Florida? Fuck you. Grow the fuck up. Let kids read. You’re not solving problems. And the states with 1-10 bans? I’m curious what those are. Is it 1-10 books? Or 1-10 schools banning books? Not sure. Probably the former. What’s the point of banning so few books? One could ask what’s the point of banning ANY books.

OK. So. It’s New Years Eve Eve and the Man and I are doing date night tonight, because tomorrow night is not a time we want to be out and about, between the celebratory crazy shit and the rain that’s headed our way. It’s been cold and drippy all day today, which is good for the plants and the part of my brain that wants to hole up and read, so hopefully more of that tomorrow, plus quilting and drawing and probably (honestly) some schoolwork. Just because it needs to get done and it’s easier to do in small chunks than big honking ones.

I need to make a collage of this year’s finished pieces too. Tomorrow. Today? More tea and then a discussion of food. Then something off the list of things I feel like doing. Also that crazy landscape that created itself in my head in the car today. That. Totally.

Really Slowly

Hello Christmas Eve! Actually tomorrow is our Christmas Eve. Or something. This year is too confusing.

I had this plan to be drawing every day during break. Not happening. No brain power for it. I get through a few errands and then need to lie down for a while. I am improving, but it’s slow and torturous. What is this thing? The same cold that everyone else has that’s wiped out the cold medicine section at my grocery store. I finally found more of the stuff that lets me sleep through the night without coughing, so that’s a plus. The rest is more about…well…rest. I need lots of it apparently. So the to-do list languishes. Or gets done really slowly. The physical stuff will have to wait until I have some energy back.

I’m doing a little art stuff every day, not hours of it like I would like to. Ah well. The little piece got ironed to fabrics over 24 hours…

There’s not a lot to it, but I wasn’t feeling well, so I did most of it Thursday night…

And then finished it on Friday night…

Only 33 fabrics…some of which were only used for one piece. Then I cut them all out…

With the idea of ironing them together this afternoon, but I did a bunch of other things (made sourdough starter pancakes to freeze, for the first time since August, wrapped the last of the Xmas stuff, graded two assignments, tried to make sense of another one, showered…that was exhausting)…and now I need a nap. We have one family gathering this evening and I’m already tired. I’m also still short on milk and couldn’t find eggnog, although I can make that from scratch if I have to…I’ve done it before. Probably my body is adamantly telling me what I need (as I half fall asleep here in the chair). Should maybe listen. Just 20 minutes for a snooze, eh?

You can see how the drawing isn’t happening. No energy to clean either; that has to happen tomorrow. We got skunked the other night and half the rooms still reek of it. Luckily Southern California has blessed us with lovely weather (sorry y’all) and the windows are open to dispel the smell.

I Zoomed with friends on Thursday night and made a fence and some veggies…

Do I fix the lumpy carrot or let it be its realistic lumpy self? Who knows.

Simba loves everyone being home…

Although the boychild is back at work until Monday and the girlchild was gone all yesterday, which is why I got his loving attention.

Kitten wasn’t having any of it…

She does RBF well.

This morning, Simba got one of his favorite people on the couch…

He was communing with his other doggie friends, passing the word along in boofy paragraphs.

OK. I can lie down and read for a while. Then go find some milk and maybe eggnog. We are food shopping tomorrow like nutcakes. It’s OK. I wrangled meat yesterday from a big guy who was sure I wanted it all cut up (I didn’t) and then winked at me at the end. Ugh. I don’t know whether to laugh my old chubby ass off at that or be creeped out (or both, which is where I’m at right now). Then off to the Man’s fam for a gathering that will be all noise and color and bright, like holidays are, which sometimes my brain appreciates. I’m hoping to get there in the next 3 hours. Until then, hello couch, hello book, hello pajamas. And hoping everyone gets some time to do what they want with whomever they want, furry beast or otherwise.

Will Get Done Eventually…

Hey so if you want to talk to me this week, probably you should text me. My voice is not doing great. I am feeling better, but the phlegm is real, y’all. Mornings are rough until I get some tea into me. The pro is that it is Winter Break, so I am not trying to write sub plans or come in and teach sick because I don’t have COVID or the flu (probably), and there are no subs. I just have to finish the Xmas shopping and decorating (there are four whole ornaments on the tree) and maybe a book or three. Plus grading. How I know I’m getting better? I graded an academic assignment yesterday…it required brainpower and I found it. I had 14 assignments to grade at the beginning of break. I now have 9. Probably more importantly, I need to plan out the next unit plus or I will be hating life in January and February, and I don’t want that. I need to get ahead. At least a little.

I did finish the newest quilt, which doesn’t have a name yet. It goes to the photographer tomorrow with the last one (I never got around to photographing it).

Lame photo hanging over the couch. This one is not huge. Now going into the holidays, I have an idea for the next big one, but I need the headspace to check deadlines and do some planning, plus I’d really like the fam to stage this one so I can see how all the body parts will go, but so far, I’ve gotten some dissension on that happening. Either way, I can’t get a big drawing going until after we do Xmas Day, which will be Boxing Day for us this year, so is it possible for me to NOT be working on a quilt for 7 whole days?

I tried to distract myself with Xmas ornament stitching that I bought last year and never started…

Fun enough, but not the same as an actual quilt. Then at 2 AM, while lying there, trying to sleep, I remembered that funny drawing with the Xmas lights on it that is floating around my office that I keep meaning to make into a little quilt and never do. Some drawings just call to me and want to be a quilt. This one has called for a while. A LONG while.

The date on it is February 8, 1993. In 1993, I was still married. I didn’t have kids. At first, I was like, ah, this drawing, it’s about 10 years old (because I was on cold medication and could not do any form of math). Nah. This fucker is almost 30 years old. I even numbered it already. Like probably 20 years ago. Who knows? At some point in the past when I thought I’d make it. Well yeah. It does deserve to be made if it’s still around after all this time (it’s not the only one that made it to numbering stage and then got left somewhere, in case you’re wondering).

Poor thing. So I graded yesterday (because I felt better), and then I stayed up late and watched a semi-bad movie while tracing this…

It’s only got 97 pieces.

And then cut out the Wonder Under…

No need to do the sort by 100s step. There aren’t even 100 pieces. So hopefully today, after running Xmas errands (and showering…need to do that next), I’ll be picking fabrics for this sweet little thing. There is a lot going on over the next 7 days, and I can’t say I’m feeling totally with it, so a nap or some lying on the couch with my book will probably still be happening, but for now, I have a little project. Which is good. Never throw old shit away, y’all. It might be exactly what you need. Yes, that is part of my hoarder issue, but it’s also truth.

I did spend about 2 hours yesterday ironing and dehairing the two quilts that need to go to the photographer…that did make me need to nap. Ugh. And I’ll still work on the Xmas ornaments. They’ll probably be done in 2025. Certainly starting them on December 20 was probably not the best plan. Ah well.

Simba thinks we are all silly.

And maybe we are…

Certainly he is getting plenty of attention…

OK. Well I’m off to shower and drive all over heck and back for the 4 or 5 things I still need. I canceled almost everything I was supposed to do this week due to being sick. Probably the best thing for me anyway. At least the family is still healthy (and sucking up Vitamin C and Zinc). Some of the things on my to-do list will not be happening this week, due to my not feeling up to the physical crap, but it will get done eventually. Peace out all…may your holidays be what you need them to be. Sending love to all.

Fake Words…

My lord how is it only Wednesday. Also, brain, let me sleep. If I wake up to pee, it is not because I want to do a deep dive on how to plan the next unit. I really just wanted to pee and be asleep, honestly, as soon as I get back into bed, maybe sooner. Sleepwalking to pee seems OK to me, as long as I’m in the right place during and after.

Today is egg drop for three classes, something tsunami-related for two classes (and trying to get my last period of the day on track is hell on wheels…11 were absent Monday, 5 on Friday, and if you didn’t do Friday’s stuff, you can’t do Monday’s stuff, and if you didn’t do Monday’s stuff, you couldn’t do yesterday’s stuff, blah blah blah that class makes me want to quit 3 out of 5 days a week). Yeah. That. Friday was actually delightful because without those kids, the class was normal. NORMAL. Yesterday it was like wild animals had infiltrated the school.

Sigh. Three more days. I will still have to work a ton over break to try to get ahead in January (and February? Maybe?), but I won’t have to deal with the kids or the daily bullshit. Speaking of shit, I almost said it in class yesterday (it happens; even teachers slip), but corrected to ‘shinole’…pronounced ‘shi-know-lay’. IDK where this comes from, but it worked. The two I was working with (just edited myself out of a wide variety of nouns there) started yelling “She SWORE!” and I’m like, “I said ‘shinole’. What swear word is that?” Apparently I should be using the word ‘shinola’, which does mean shit. Imma stick with the fake word.

I came home early and went to the gym. I needed to. It’s kind of crazy how many Tuesdays I come home and need to go to the gym. I’m glad to have that. Then I cooked dinner and did some more applique for this secret project I’m doing, and then ironed the rest of the pieces down on the current quilt.

Here’s what I did Monday night…

Almost done…closeup of the Earth head…

Lots of details that need a stitching line. There’s some chaos here.

Then last night, the vomit…

Glad I picked black instead of green…

I ironed each of the little things together, then put the vomit down and put them all on top. At that point, it was almost 10:30, my arbitrary stop point, but I was fairly sure it would iron down quickly, so I just did it.

It needs a steam ironing, but otherwise, I’m ready for stitchdown. Also I’m tired. It only took a few more minutes to get it done though. And now I’m braindead. Maybe if I get more tea in me. Probably not though. We’ll see.

I forgot I did this Sunday night…although I messed up the fence.

It’ll be fine. I’m just needleweaving wider posts than were called for. It’s not the end of the world.

One of my students made this cat sculpture for me…

With tiny mousies…

She’s very creative. Sells them to other students. Also gave me two stickers yesterday…science-y ones. I appreciate her.

OK. Some crazy crap…shinole…going on today. I have a union meeting after school and then a book club zoom after that. Not sure when I will have time to do anything. But hopefully more ironing tonight. I need to put a label on another quilt, so I’m going to do that first, because it has to be delivered to a show this week. Thank goodness for friends who pick up art for me, because I couldn’t figure out when I was picking up from one show, and someone agreed to do it for me. Good stuff.