I Especially Need…

May 23, 2016

I had plans for art yesterday, but in the end, my job and life got in the way. I let myself be OK with that because part of life was picking up the girlchild from the airport and another part was taking a long walk with small beastie…he can do three miles, in case you were wondering…he wasn’t exactly sure he could do it about 2/3’s of the way through it, but he did it. Although it had zero effect on his rampant hyperness.

I have to say, although he’s cute and all (everyone says it), he can be a handful. This morning, he finally was calm enough to come near Kitten without hissing and growling occurring. But even then, they are at an uneasy standoff.

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Hopefully with some more people in the house, this will get easier, because I’m pretty low on sleep right now with Mr. Barkypants getting his fluff in a huff every time a bird chirps or an animal wanders past my house (it’s a fairly frequent occurrence). And for me to say I’m low on sleep is something…since I don’t get much in the first place.

Girlchild is asleep down the hall, although apparently she’s driving me to work because we’re down to one car. She’s been out of school for a week and a half, but flew to my brother’s house so she could see her cousins, who alternately charmed her and annoyed the crap out of her (as all good cousins do). Tree climbing was one of the things she did…here she is upside down in a photo she liked, but I edited for her, on the fly, on the phone (yes, I know you can do better, but compared to what it used to look like, I thought this was pretty good).

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Looks fun. I should try it some day.

So although I’m (as the girlchild says) a little salty that no art was made, there were good reasons for it. Although I graded and cooked dinner from scratch, so the first? Eh. It rules my life while I’m in school. The second? Good job.

It’s hard to explain to people what being a teacher is like on a regular basis while we’re in school when they just see your long “vacations” (we work through many of them or go to professional development, and summer is unpaid, so that’s not a vacation). Understand that there isn’t a single day when I don’t work…and I don’t get paid for those hours, any more than I get paid for the hours I do almost every single day after I get home from work. And even though I thought I was doing a bang-up job this year saving enough money to get through the summer, one big car issue just kicked my ass on that, much as it did last year…my cushion is now gone. Or it will be as soon as I pay that credit card bill. I do this every year, try to survive the summer. I don’t go on vacations anywhere. During the school year, we can’t take off for more than a few days without causing a ruckus. Every year, I have to rethink my plan for food and peeing during the day, as they move my prep period almost every single year. I’ve had 2nd, 3rd, 7th, and 8th, and this next year, it will be 4th with lunch following directly. Which sucks for a diabetic. It means I’ll have to remember to eat during class, and I can already tell you, I don’t remember that shit.

Anyway. As I get closer to my time off for the summer, for the time I need to recharge from a very difficult year, a year where the kids took months longer than usual to finally figure out the consequences of not turning work in (and some still haven’t figured that out), my brain is getting excited…not just for the mostly uninterrupted artmaking time, but also for being able to pee when I need to, for being able to have lunch out (things teachers can’t do), for being able to run errands during the week because the stores are still open, for not feeling physically and mentally drained by a particularly hard day…or week even. For getting my Sundays back! No lesson planning, no parent email, no updating the website(s) we use for school. No dragging grading with me to my parents’ house for dinner.

I’ve done other jobs. I know the difference. I deserve my unpaid leave in summer. Without it, you would have very few people returning to a mostly thankless job each Fall. Of course, we do it for the kids…not the money…not the time off. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need a break. I especially need a break.

Eighteen days and counting.


What’s Next?

May 22, 2016

So the first kid comes home today. Her room was relatively clean, but I didn’t wash her bedding after she left because I did that when she left in August and then her cat puked all over the clean stuff. So I waited this time, and sure enough, there was puke. Damn cat. So I just need to make her bed. So the cat can puke on it.

Boychild’s room is the one where I dumped all the stuff from my office. I spent about 3 hours dealing with it yesterday, and I’m down to a manageable pile. He comes home Wednesday, so I have a little more time.

So it seems I spent most of yesterday doing my favorite thing (cough)…cleaning. Seriously, there were many hours of it. Then I finally sat down and started sewing a binding on the most recent quilt, still unnamed. In fact, both of the last two, finished within hours of each other, are unnamed. Working on it.

This was the view last night…quilt on my lap, sewing binding. Simba right next to me (better than earlier when he was ON me and trying to bite the quilt. Um. No. Then Midnight sprawled further down on the couch.

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Here she is finished, a little over 34 hours to make her.

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Need official photos, but think I will wait until the next smaller one is done. Plus the embroidery on the orange one.

Here’s the next one hanging up. I could start quilting it today.

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Quilting is pretty brainless for me. Easy peasy. Don’t have to think or plan and really do anything but move the fabric around under the needle. Try not to hit the hand. This quilt top is so old, I don’t know how old it is. Might be 2006. Might predate the world. NO! I found it…May 12, 2006. It was on my old blog. Yes, I’ve been blogging since the dark ages. Why do you ask?

It’s my art journal in many ways. TEN years to finish a quilt. Yeah. Well. Shit happens.

Speaking of finishing, the section in the middle is all I have on this drawing before I can (deep breath) NUMBER it and determine exactly how crazy I am.

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And since it’s next on the list, I should do that this week too. I know in general what I want in there. I just don’t know what that looks like or how it will fit. That’s the issue. It’s OK. I’ll get there. And this one won’t take 10 years. The other quilt sat around because it really was just a mental experiment, something to do when my brain wouldn’t settle down on anything. It’s like a drawing, but freehand with fabric. This drawing has been sitting around in this state for a while now, since May 2. It has 9 hours of drawing in it…well, more than that, because the first bit was in a sketchbook. So probably 11 hours. For those who have seen this quilt…

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Wise Choice…for the Earth Stories exhibit…it was a 13-hour drawing. Anyway. Moving on. I have about 17 errands (again, must be a weekend during the school year) and grading to do, plus I’d better make the girlchild’s bed. After all that, I can decide what to work on next.


Pushed Out of Line

May 21, 2016

Some things about my life have changed drastically in the last 5 years, and some, not so much. I still love to draw when I’m out in the world, at a restaurant, in a bar, whatever. The quilt I’m about to finish was drawn on a plane. The big ones don’t usually start in a restaurant or somewhere like that…they start on the couch, TV on, legs up, surrounded by furry beasts. I like the ones that are small enough to go in the larger sketchbook. This huge one that has occupied the light table for weeks now is overwhelming. Exciting, but overwhelming.

So last night, I was watching a band and I had eaten my food and was watching really bad dancing by old people (OK, some of them are my age, but they are old dancers…). So drawing seemed the logical thing to do. I started one but it was awful. And then I did this…

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She has mountains in her hair. And that’s a mighty cool plane there. And trees on her boobs. Someone said that the people sitting around me must be scared. Mostly they ignore me. Sometimes they stare and then get embarrassed if I catch them. Occasionally they tell me how cool it is. But whatever. That’s not why I do it. I do it because I’m out listening to music and hanging out and it’s relaxing. So a Friday night after a hard week and a particularly difficult day…makes sense to get the pen and paper out. If I’d stayed home, I would have graded stuff, and really, the drawing was a better option.

When I got home, it wasn’t quite bed time, so I pulled this one out. The binding was done, but I needed to sew the sleeves down…

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So this drawing was done somewhere between 2010-12 in my smallest sketchbook, probably at a soccer game or in a restaurant, waiting for dinner. I enlarged a bunch of them back in 2013 because I wanted to make some smaller quilts, both because they’re faster and because I needed some for shows that don’t want big work. I’ve been working my way through the smaller ones, but I cut out three at the same time…this one, Nakedman, and (shit, what was the third one…). Funny, I know there were three. Nakedman was finished in February 2013. Eyeball Tree might have been the third one, finished in June 2012…which would mean I enlarged them in 2012. Believable. I have a blog. I bet I could check that.

Found it! June 2012…there were originally FOUR of them, Eyeball Tree (2012) and Feeding Time (2011…uh oh, revise the timeline again) were done and so I moved on to the second two, finishing Nakedman in 2013. So the drawings are probably from 2010. And in 2011, I copied stuff (sheesh…), and then I made one in 2011, one in 2012, one is 2013, and now one finally finished in 2016. Seriously, it had been hanging around in the studio, ironed onto the background, for three years apparently. So I stitched it down, quilted it, and bound it…and it’s finally done. I don’t know what I think about it, and it doesn’t have a real name yet, AND it needs embroidery (those are salt and pepper shakers). So I guess it’s not QUITE done. Close though.

Sometimes quilts get pushed out of the line and then I never finish them, or it’s years later. This is one of those. There’s another one ready to quilt that I don’t even think exists in my task managing app. This last one was in there, minus the first two parts. So I could guess the timeline. But the other one must be much older. It’s before I was drawing patterns. I guess the good news for them is that I eventually get around to finishing them, even when they get pushed out of line.

Anyway, so that was last night. Today I have a ton of cleaning to do because both kids are coming home in the next few days. Plus the house is just a mess. And grading. And some other time-consuming stuff. Hopefully I’ll get some art time in as well, because it makes me feel better. Less stressed. Happier. All good.


Damn Adulting

May 20, 2016

I forgot to take photos of the other quilt I worked on last night…oh well. I went to quilt class and sewed a binding on that crazy orange quilt. I still need to sew the sleeves on, so another hour or so. It’s an older quilt top. I just wanted it finished. Then I came home and wanted to finish the one I’ve been working on. I almost finished it the other night, until that pesky adult voice that thinks I need to sleep spoke up. Damn adulting.

So I worked on quilting it…

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And finished. I really only had about 45 minutes left. It took about 4 1/2 hours to quilt the whole thing. Not bad. (I did not grade any papers last night…bad Kathy)

It wasn’t bedtime yet, so I found a binding (easier to do from your stash when you are working with a smaller quilt) and used the fabric from the backing to cut two sleeves.

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I originally bought that fabric when I was still married. Back in the dark ages. I was going to make a dress out of it and some other fabrics. Not sure where the others went. Never happened, of course. YES, I used to sew my own clothes. Can’t be bothered anymore. Plus I mostly just wear black. I still have lots of that fabric left, that’s for sure.

Oh, I forgot about this. I’m working with one of my art groups on a Sexism in the Art World show that will open in 2017, and we were talking about making a coloring book. One person had suggested a topic that was eh, yawn, no thanks (there was a reason for it, but still. eh.), and this coloring book came up…

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Midnight is shocked that it was only $10 online. I was not shocked and purchased it for my weird book collection, so when I die, my children and grandchildren will have plenty to talk about and to make them laugh their asses off instead of crying. Yup. I really care about my family. (Just as a side note, there are some very pretty drawings in there)

Simba has now sat on the foot pedal (I trained my cats out of that years ago) and tried to sit in my lap while I was quilting.

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Really! I am a cat! You can let me on the chair! He’s still adjusting, as are we all. Wait until the rest of the family gets home.

Bindings on…

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Small quilts go so FAST. I’m going to remember this when I’m working on the next beast, which will probably take 6 weeks of nonstop work.

You can barely see Midnight in the back…that’s where she sits most of the time.

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No, that tupperware bin cannot be used for anything but cat butts. That is the fourth cat butt that has graced that box…maybe fifth. It’s funny how they claim space. Even now, I’ve got Simba on the floor in here, so Calli won’t come in. Simba comes in when Calli does, but then won’t lie down, like he is now. When Katie is here, it’s a whole ‘nother juggling for space. I regularly have three animals in here, one of the smallest rooms in the house.

Anyway, I’m not home tonight, so the quilt bindings will have to wait until Saturday or Sunday. And then I have to officially admit to being done with this quilt and move on to the big one. I don’t know if I’m ready for that, but my artmaking schedule for the summer tells me I have to be. On the one hand, I’m excited to be starting the big quilt, but I also know how LONG it will take, and that some parts will just feel endless. And I do have another quilt top that’s pinbasted, another old one. I might quilt that first, because I know it needs hand embroidery, and then I’d have that to work on if I didn’t feel like working on the big one (yes, one more reason to procrastinate about the big quilt). Sigh.

OK, but before I can move on to any of that, I have to go to work and pretend I adult well.


Stretching Past What We’ve Always Done

May 19, 2016

Hallelujah for the nice kid in Petco who helped me pick out and install a harness on the little beast yesterday. I wanted to try walking both of them in a nice wide-open area, but the leash was too short and the collar didn’t seem safe enough. Simba pinwheels around a bit on it. So a harness it was (never owned a dog small enough for a harness…so he had to show me how it worked). We only made it 1.56 miles…the big dog tricked me into a shorter path she knows (she walks with my ex and the kids too), plus Simba is a tiny baby really and if I’d gone further, I probably would have had to carry him for a while. So we’ll have to figure that out, because normally I do 3-mile hikes during the week. My SIL has a little dog and says 35 minutes…and that’s what we did I guess. Lots of leash tangling and bizarre walking behavior. The dog has sorta been trained, but not well or consistently.

But this cat…

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She’s still incredibly unsure and runs when she sees him, and so he thinks that’s a game and chases her. She’s whacked at him once, but missed his nose. Not sure if that will mellow out, but I hope so. The other cat has taken another furry addition to the house in stride and doesn’t care.

That’s where I was grading by the way. Pens are there to fill out the gradebook I keep on paper, but everything else is online. I did go through the worksheet and the website I assigned them and filled it out myself, just to see what answers I SHOULD get. Holy moley, sometimes I wonder how some of these kids will make it through life. They just make up random shit…this assignment was so easy, I filled out my worksheet in less than 7 minutes. Granted, I didn’t have to go find pictures or write full sentences, but they should have been able to handle it easily in the time I gave them. And many did.

Simba is still trying to figure it all out.

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I’m looking forward to the kids coming home next week to help out with this puppy thing…because it’s a bit tiring. The timing could have been better. He does go to bed and sleep all night, except at 3 AM when he hears an animal in the bushes and thinks he needs to protect all of us. Puppy growling.

I have blood testing this morning, so I’m fasting (no caffeine, no food) and that’s never a good start to the day…especially since we have testing, so I have no prep, no bathroom until 12:15…unless I call admin. Which I may have to do today, after 40 ounces of water, or whatever it is. And they’ll still complain about my veins. Whatever.

I wanted to finish quilting last night, but knew I’d have to be up extra early for the lab tests, so I stopped before midnight and went to bed (see, I CAN do that).

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I’m almost done, though…dammit! Oh well. I’ll finish tonight, except I really should grade something tonight. I’m trying to get caught up, which means an assignment a day. And I can’t get through much while we’re testing. We’ll see. I’d really much rather finish quilting and get a binding on this thing than grade papers. Shockingly.

I’m also starting to process (in my head) a collaborative project I’ll be working on over the summer for the women’s group I’m in. Honestly, these types of projects kind of terrify me, because I’m not used to working with other people…in art. I work with other people all the time at school, and sometimes I know I don’t know enough to do stuff well, but I just research the heck out of it. This thing, it’s a little weird and I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out, and I guess I’m really an introvert/loner, because the socializing that needs to happen to create the project is really freaking me out. Whoops. I’ll be fine. My art brain is just having a moment. It will get over it, as my co-art person says, when I have enough wine and brainstorming to get past it. More on that later, but it starts with a $5 nightstand. Stretching past what we’ve always done is usually a good thing.

But now, now I need to drive to the lab and let the bloodsuckers have at my poor tiny veins. Then I can eat. And more importantly, get caffeine.


Clearing the Mind

May 17, 2016

I have about 15 minutes before I have to get ready to leave…busy crazy day. When you’re a teacher, you can’t do a lot of the things normal people do on a work day. I don’t have a lunch hour where I can run errands. I don’t have a flexible start time. I can’t get an hour off in the morning to go get my blood tested or take my car in. I either take a half day or a whole day (which we never do, because it’s a rancid pain to deal with subs), so mostly you try to do stuff before or after school in some sort of crazy way before school starts or things close (yes, you, post office with your stupid hours).

Today is one of those days…I have a car issue, but the car guy is around the corner from a co-teacher, so I can catch a ride, but it makes the morning a little bit more chaotic. And the afternoon as well, honestly…

I love Mondays though, because 3 out of 4 weeks of the month, I get home relatively early and I walk the dog. We have a couple of local walks we do that are more nature than suburbia…this is going up a pretty steep slope, and Calli is being very good about the baby bunny at the top…

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OK. Really she’s trying to pull me up the slope, which is kinda useful, because it’s really steep. Anyway, it’s about 3 miles and at the end of it, I’m feeling much better, head is clear from work, and the dog is tired.

Unfortunately, it gets muddied again directly after, because I have a ton of grading to do, so I settled down to that for a while, then finally ate, and THEN I could start quilting again…I’d finished the torso the night before, so all that was left was the head for outlining.

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I had my trusty cat companion, who was going a bit bonkers at one point…

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Maybe she objected to what was on Netflix.

Amusingly, I thought I could finish the quilting last night, until I looked at the clock. Whoops.

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Well. Two and a half hours in. She’s outlined and I’ve started the background quilting, but no way was I gonna finish last night. I’m not that crazy. I do have to go to work today and deal with the car and maybe another dog and that’s a whole ‘nother long crazyass story.

And I still haven’t dealt with resizing photos at all. Too much work; not enough time. Especially right now…


Plenty on the Plate…

May 16, 2016

There was a lot of art this weekend. I haven’t even been able to process it really, there was so much of it. Four openings, and there was a fifth I meant to go to, but I was exhausted by then. Honestly, I think I need a whole day to sleep. Today would be nice, but apparently it’s a work day.

Here’s me with my two pieces at Feminism Now. I had to hold still for an interminable amount of time (apparently I can’t hold a smile that long)…

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But it gives you a good idea of the size differential between the two pieces. The smaller one will travel to Sweden next year and be in another show. It was a great opening, lots of amazing work. I’ll get through it when I have a chance and post a link to the official blogpost as soon as I can.

I did finally give the young woman some pupils, some holes in her eyes…

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And I also ironed and pinbasted her into a happy quilt sandwich…

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Ready for quilting. Then I thought about what I had coming up this week, and I do have quilt class, and I want to be efficient about what I get done at all times. Though my smart-ass answer whenever anyone asks me “How do you get so much work done” is that I don’t sleep (and this is somewhat true), the reality is that I am very practical and efficient as well. If I’m waiting for someone to show up and I have 20 minutes, I use it to iron something or cut something out. If I know I have somewhere I’ll be for two hours, and there’s a binding that could be sewn in that time, I wrangle it so that can happen. I don’t just sit at meetings…I’m almost always working. I even find it hard to sit in restaurants and wait for them to bring the food…it’s lost time.

Anyway. So I found binding fabric for that crazy orange quilt that I can’t explain…

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And I cut it and attached it so that Thursday I can sew it down.

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Then I started quilting the newest one. This is where the line comes in…the line that pops the drawing out…

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I love seeing the image become more clear as I sew the dark outline.

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I spent about an hour and did about half of the outlining. This part is so meditative, I find it hard to remember to look at the clock…let alone stand up once in a while and stretch…or go to bed. So she’s in progress. Maybe I’ll have her bound by Thursday too, although that might not be possible…I do have a ton of schoolwork to deal with as well. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, another hour into the disaster that was in my studio and is now in the boychild’s room. Two full trashbags have left and I’m now sorting through that red box. I’m still not entirely sure what to do with all the stuff…

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An ancient plastic needle safe (probably 1960s), full of needles. Can’t throw needles out. That’s crazy. Folding scissors. Ancient as well. Way too cool. A ton of crazy quilt fabric that I piled up by color, so I can easily pop it into the bins. Not even sure how long that’s been in the box, but the plastic bag it was in mostly fell apart when I picked it up. Obviously, there was an organizational gap in there somewhere. I have about 10 days to get it all figured out.

Meanwhile, tons of grading and teaching and all that good stuff. Plus I need to get the rest of that big drawing done. Plenty on the plate…there always is.


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