But Not a Word I Heard Could I Relate*

I have this calendar announcement that pops up once a month that is obviously from an ancient online calendar that I can’t access to delete the announcement. It’s Untitled. It has no announcement except that it is Untitled. So every month, I close it or snooze it, depending on how I’m feeling, and wonder if the month I die, that untitled announcement will still pop up, and if the month after I die, what will happen with that announcement. Will it still pop up somewhere? I mean, it’s gotta be years old and who knows where it’s hiding, but I can’t find it and so it will never ever go away for good. 

That’s kind of how all of life seems right now. Laughs hysterically. Too many things to do, as always. I need stuff done for school that I have to get copied for next week…like 3 different worksheets or assignments or something. I need all the stuff prepped for at least the first week of January, so they can get copied in time. I have been backwards planning and the first 8 days back are still blank. Blank is nice. Blank will be good. It’s because I can’t possibly fit all the things I should be teaching into that space, so I have to figure out how to logically place all the things they absolutely need to get through the rest of the units I know we’re teaching, and my brain is just not engaging with that yet, because it’s still panicking about next week. And with multiple meetings each day, I’m not catching up.

Here’s an example of how I cope:

Yes. I’m at the gym. On an elliptical. Grading the last two questions of the assessment they did Monday. I finished! I’m excited about that actually. On my phone, I had the rubric, so if I wasn’t sure what score a kid should get, I could quick look at it again. While listening to Linkin Park. So there.

But I got to the gym late (tutoring after school) and so then I ate dinner late and started doing other stuff late, and then because everything was late, I stayed up too late, and now I’m feeling that. 

I already called my online pharmacy (they called yesterday, but they keep East Coast hours). They’ve discontinued the little stabby things I use in my diabetes kit, so I need a new device for the new stabby things, which are just like the old ones, but of course, a slightly different size and design that won’t work in the new device. Assholes. Diabetes is expensive and complicated and annoying. 

I have to admit to lolling on the couch for 15 minutes before I started tracing. Kitten came by and was trying to figure out how to sit on this, but the drawing is huge and she was nervous about finding the table underneath. 

Also, no one can sit on the couch while I’m doing this (not true…I have my ways).

She finally settled for this position. In case you were wondering, yes…yes, she IS sitting on the edge of the drawing so I can’t move it.

Because she is a cat.

This stage is never very photogenic. It’s just days and days of this. I find it meditative, but that’s me.

I’m watching Killing Eve (thanks to whomever suggested it…it finally popped up somewhere I could watch it for free). It seems appropriate to my holiday, last-two-weeks-before-break-middle-school-teacher-mode brain. This week is going…it’s managed. Next week will be crazy time. I should get all my shopping and wrapping done this week, if I’m smart. HA! Not smart. 

Anyway, I have 4 hours into the tracing and I’m at 330 or so. I’m on the 2nd figure…I’ve finished one arm, most of the other, and the torso up until whatever arm is covering it. So head and neck and shoulders left on this one, plus the stuff that’s touching it. I have a ton of stuff after school today (including negotiating a new tester for the pokey stabby things?), but the goal is to be tracing sometime late tonight, plus going to bed a little earlier than last night? That would be a good plan. I really wasn’t watching the clock last night. My bad.

*Led Zeppelin, Kashmir

Another Page in Your Diary*

I fell asleep last night trying to organize today’s school assignment in my head, trying to figure out who gets what and how, and how I will manage the different groups, and whether I’ll have enough copies, and whether they’ll come in time, and holy crap, even sleep is not sacrosanct. I guess I should know that by now. And I still don’t have it all figured out in my head this morning…but I know what I need to do if I can’t get it all done. It will work out somehow.

I’m looking forward to teaching stuff I have more control over…notionally. Not stuff where I’m trying to do the same thing an online system does, but without the online supports. January. It’s coming. What’s also coming? Rainy times. Not the end of times (although it may feel that way after another inch and a half of rain in drought-struck California…Rainy Times.

(did someone forget a word?). Speaking of droughty California, I came home yesterday to a neighbor who had a raging bonfire in their backyard, smoke barreling off into the sky, sparks flying up. So first of all, where are you from that you don’t know better than that in fire territory? Plus pollution? And laws? A nice little firepit when we’re not in fire season is fine…a bonfire that reaches to your neighbor’s second story? Dumbassery. Yes, I called the sheriff, who put me on to the fire department. I hope they fined their asses. Seriously stupid. Lots of wood around here and it just takes one spark. People don’t think.

Two meetings after school yesterday. I drew through the first one. It’s random stuff. 

No logic at all to it. 

Then I came home and numbered the rest of the heads. Not bad, actually…

I didn’t hit 2000. That’s good. A nice big solid piece to work on during the holidays. It’ll be my first 2019 finish, knock on wood.

After dinner, while finishing up the last episode of Castle Rock, I worked on sewing wooly bits down.

October blocks? I think. 

And then I started tracing. I worked for a couple of hours, I think. I’m in the 100s, around 175, I think. The first figure is almost done. She needs a head and a tea cup or something. 

She’s the tiniest one in there. Fussy little finger bits. I’m going to be doing this for a while…it’s very meditative, so I’m OK with that. I might be done sometime next week…although there are some bitchy meeting days next week. I think there are three days with 2-hour meetings. UGH.

This is what about 175 pieces looks like.

Not much. That’s about a yard of Wonder Under.

And that’s a sleepy puppy.

And a sleepy eyeball of a cat…

Tonight I’m hoping to add the gym to the mix, so maybe not as much tracing. We’ll see. 

*Yazoo, Nobody’s Diary

Because I’m Easy Come, Easy Go*

I have all these videos I usually have to watch for school, kids explaining their understanding of this topic or that vocabulary word. It gives me an idea of what they’re thinking, makes them practice verbalizing what they might know, and gives them some experience with talking to others without the chat factor. The kids don’t much like taking the videos, although if you put them on YouTube and get them to talk about video games or their favorite anime, then they’re fine. It’s only school that makes them incoherent…or for some of them, just amazingly intelligent. The kids who would never ever raise their hands in class, who never say a word, are sometimes incredibly competent on video. But I have to watch all of them, and that takes time, and I can’t (usually) do anything else while watching them. Sometimes I can sew, but not always. And I wanted to work on my drawing this weekend…but I also wanted all these videos out of the way. So I watched WHILE I drew. Really, I did, and it worked. I was probably a little slower at both than usual, because I did have to type in scores and pay attention to the words at least (not the pictures)…but I got both assignments done and I feel good about that. One more thing to check off my list. TWO more things…

I also got some of the holiday shopping done, although I’m still flailing on at least two people. So there’s that. I did a lot of grading. Oh! I went to the FIG opening at the Lyceum, although we didn’t stay long (someone was tired)…this is the downstairs gallery at the theater, the play is “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” and this is our Women: Poetry and Art exhibit.

It can be seen whenever the box office is open, apparently. Or before the show opens each evening. It’s a nice exhibit. Each piece is either based on a poem or the poem is based on the piece. Some of us wrote our own, but most used other people’s work.

This is my piece Sweet Delicious, based on a poem I wrote a long time ago.

So the opening was nice…some of the artists read their poetry as well. There’s another poetry reading on Thursday, but I’m already booked that night. 

Mostly, though, when I wasn’t grading stuff this weekend, I was drawing…so I added paper on all four sides, some more than others…and started to fill out Head number 4…which apparently needed snakes for hair.

Like you do. That was Saturday night. That was also when I cut this section out because the hand that was there sucked that bad. This thing has a lot of hands. 

It’s OK. I came back to it Sunday. But first I worked on the arm of Head 4 and the body of Head 3.

Here’s Head 5 swallowing Head 4, although the size is not that much greater…if at all. And the sun. This whole piece is currently upside down to the orientation of the whole thing.

Mostly I think this drawing is about anxiety and life sort of taking over, feeling like you can’t get it all done and you’re getting swallowed by it all. But it’s also really disorienting. And sort of frightening. The thought of being swallowed by a giant toothy mouth is scary.

I guess that’s where I’m at right now…although she seems to have it all together. Tea, cat…what more could you need?

There’s lots of snakes too. Not sure what to say about that.

There’s the redraw where the crappy hand was before. Much better.

There’s a lot going on in here.

This is the body and the hand to Head 3. 

And then I tried to photograph the whole thing. Well it’s not dark enough ink for you to see all of it, but it’s big…and this is the correct orientation. I think. I could change my mind later. Maybe there will be a sleeve on each side, and you can decide how you want it to hang?

I think it’s about 64″ wide x 55″ high. Now. 

Of course, the next step was to number it. Well…to START numbering it. I got about an hour in…and then quit (to go to sleep…it was late). I numbered by figure, so hopefully that will make sense when I iron it together. But probably not.

I always try for logic…and mostly fail. I numbered 3 of the 5 heads…and kept track of pieces for each. 

Interesting bit that…the smallest does have a lot of pieces for its size. I counted the things that were on it. The smallest one includes a tea cup and a rug and a cat. The next one has a tree, a bird, a bird’s nest, and some sort of ivy. 

This is most of Head 5…not numbered yet. It probably has the most pieces in it. It’s also one of the biggest heads. I think technically Head 4 is bigger…

But fewer parts of Head 4 show? Maybe? There is an arm. 

Anyway, I’ll finish numbering tonight and hopefully start tracing. Looking forward to this one, even though it’s weird. I like weird.

*Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody

Honey Put On That Party Dress*

Weekends are for recovery and preparation. I’m in the recovery portion now. Still not enough sleep, working a headache, medicating with caffeine, trying to avoid the work stuff, have to read a traumatic book chapter for a staff meeting, already got some holiday shopping out of the way, have more to do in person this afternoon, have to avoid a parade though, and then there’s an art opening tonight, and maybe I’ll be joined by my guy, who was up at an ungodly hour and off to work, so he’ll be exhausted. Typical Saturday in December, yeah?

I forgot to take my sketchbook to school yesterday, so I could copy that drawing right after (that’s the easiest and most efficient way to do that…I like to NOT waste time when possible). So I came home and grabbed it and left the dogs and copied. I enlarged it 250%…it made the smallest pieces a sane size, but some of the big pieces are too big. I can fix that with more pieces (details!). 

Oh yeah, and I entered a show last night. I forgot that. I did that before I copied, because I was afraid I would forget. Work my butt off on a quilt for a deadline and then forget to enter. Sounds like a bad dream.

So I started cutting all the pieces apart and trying to fit them back together. This puzzle is confusing because of all of the heads spiraling around. 

See, that head piece is too big for one piece of fabric, but I’ll fix that after I add to the right side so I can draw the rest of it.

All taped…full size to the left (well, minus part of a head and a whole ‘nother head)…original drawing to the right. 

Somehow I managed to miss copying the bottom left corner. Can’t explain that. Tiredness? 

So hopefully today, I’ll add more paper to the left and maybe the right and definitely the top and maybe the bottom. Why NOT make it huge? Well, I do have to finish it, yeah? And there is some size restriction. But I’m in the mood to be big and bold and swallow it all.

That might be a good title for it. I’ve got plenty of time to figure that out.

Calli isn’t sure I have enough time. Yet she’s the one who’s always sleeping wherever I’m working, so she knows I do.

This freaky guy. I was combing his behind-ear hairs. 

Apparently that means a goofy face. What a dork.

OK, going to attempt life. Or work. I guess my life is work. But a lot of it is good and worthwhile work. Even when it stresses me out.

*Tom Petty, Mary Jane’s Last Dance

Infiltrating Through*

So I knew I wasn’t going to get any art done last night. I had to go get my quilt from the photographer, so I can enter the show today…so here’s the quilt that will hopefully have a name by the time I get home tonight…

It’s about 44×60″. It took 82 hours and 40 minutes to complete, with about half of that in the last week.

It’s about climate change and how we humans negatively affect the universe we live in. Seriously. It’s the universe. We suck.

Although apparently the Humboldt squid will benefit from acid waters and warm oceans. So we’ll have more and bigger of them…I predict all the horror movies of the future will be squids and floods.

Certainly the oceans and wildlife will be affected…they already are.

Bleached coral, dead fish, pollutants in the water as well…we don’t just stop at carbon dioxide and emissions…we forget about how all that affects what we can’t see.

Humans are pretty selfish animals.

You want me to bring politics into it? Stop letting ignorant people make decisions about science…science that it takes many years to study and understand.

Ah yes, and then there’s the plastic trash. Don’t get me started. Take responsibility for your shit, folks. All your shit.

So of course, there’s never a guarantee that anything I make will get into a show. I don’t mind that as much…it will go somewhere, yeah? They always do. And we’re on to the next one. I did finally have an entire quilt draw itself in my head last night. It’s not the next one. It’s not even the next next one. It’s the next next next one, and I won’t be able to show it to you. At all. That’s going to be hard. You know me, I’m constantly posting pictures of everything I’m working on. So yeah, the next three deadlines are now on the table…I have work through June cut out for me. Not actually cut out of fabric though…that would be awesome. 

I did have my stitching meeting last night. This and my general exhaustion from having to be up early every single morning this week meant I got no art done last night. I also didn’t drag my sketchbook out for copying, because we got like an inch and a half of rain (that’s more than our annual since July, by far) yesterday, and I don’t want a wet sketchbook. I’m enlarging today after school. It’s on my calendar. Then I can draw the rest of Head 4 and all of Head 5, which doesn’t exist yet. Then number and start tracing and all that all over again. It’s like I never stop. (I never stop. That’s the tip of the day. Never stop.)

So I worked on these guys for a few hours last night at my stitching meeting instead…

I finished the tree above the giraffe and starting stitching the flowers that are supposed to be on that block. That’s the second block for August…the third is the one to the right of it. 

Then once I was home and my cohort had taken his tired overworked self to bed, I did NOT go to bed, because I was still awake…but I couldn’t deal with real art stuff, so I started sewing stuff down for the October blocks. 

I didn’t get very far…just a veggie patch and part of a hut. The rest is pinned down. I have another block for this month that’s already stitched down…it’s part of the section with the September blocks, all ready for embroidery. After October, I think I have to put the whole thing together, finish all the bits of the road that are wandering about and not connected, and then stitch grass all over the entire quilt. That’s gonna take a while. Then borders. 

Meanwhile, real art tonight. Plus exhaustion. Tomorrow is Christmas shopping at pop-up artsy shops and then an opening. I should grade some shit in there too. I really want to sleep in, but my cohort will be up at 4 AM…I’m less worried about that. I can re-sleep after that. His cat though…man, he’s going to get locked in a bathroom if he’s an asshole tomorrow morning. Seriously. 

OK, but I still gotta get through today…trying to figure out the tail end of this part of the unit, plus feed a bunch of kids, and probably do my duty standing around, guarding the bike rack. Important job. You wish you could do it. (Please come do it for me.)

*Jem, Come on Closer

She’s on the Dark Side*

Ah those 10-hour work days. They just whack you upside the head like a brick. The plus is that when I finally got home, I refused to do any more work. I really don’t feel like I have to after all that. I’ve done enough. I’ve done my duty. So I turned the sprinklers off (big rain today), fed a cat, ate my dinner, read my book, and vegged out for a while on the couch, trying to find some semblance of brain power. Difficult that. Brain just shuts down at some point. 

I need to get caught up on grading again, of course. It’s been a rough week for that. I definitely wasn’t doing that last night.

So what I ended up doing from about 7:30-11:30 was drawing. I found the first of the head-swallowing drawings, done during a staff meeting last February.

It looks more like yelling than swallowing, but that’s how the whole idea started. Then I did the other two I posted yesterday, which are a much larger version. I think this small one is about 6×8″, while my larger sketchbook is 14×17″. Can’t fit that thing in my purse. Harder to hide at a staff meeting too. 

So while I was drawing last night, I kept looking back at the others, because there were things I liked. I tried to be purposeful about where I put stuff so I could fit more heads in. I waited to draw all the in-between stuff, including the arms and necks and cats and stuff. And in the end, I got to 4 heads…but I want 5. I need to enlarge the drawing anyway, though, and add some stuff on the top and finish the 4th head, because it goes off the edge, so I think I can fit a 5th head in there. Odd numbers are better than even for some things. 

So here’s last night’s attempt.

It’s good. This is the one. I can make this. I want to make this, more importantly. It needs more stuff, but that’s after I make it bigger. Which I’m not doing today, because I have to drive all over the place tonight and it’s raining, so I don’t want to attempt paper sketchbook transport to copy place in the rain in between this errand and that meeting. Tomorrow will be fine. Enlarge, draw the rest, and start to make something new. I’m ready for that. 

He was so bitey. But he was cold, so he snuggled. For a while. Sleepy baby.

This was after I combed out a lot of the knots and scritched his butt fur. So that makes him less bitey and more happy. It’s not a bad evening, sitting on the couch with a furry creature or two, drawing for hours. I can’t complain. Even better that it only took two nights like that for the drawing to wander out. 

OK, another early morning. Tired of those, that’s for sure. But hanging out and stitching tonight. Plus picking up the quilt and photos. That’s a good thing. 

*Massive Attack, Angel

I Should Get Moving…

Well I have graduated to eating turkey sandwiches for breakfast as well as for lunch. I don’t think there’s a problem with that. I froze a bunch of it, so it’s still good. And the oatmeal/fruit thing I ate yesterday didn’t last all the way until lunchtime. I love being dizzy in 4th period. Not. This blood sugar thing…you never get it right, that’s for sure. Change a medication? Relearn everything…from how your body reacts to how to get it through TSA lines. Fun stuff. I may get sick of turkey sandwiches at some point, but they still taste wonderful at the moment. Good thing.

The school days are long at the moment, punctuated by meetings and panic over meetings we didn’t know about and more panic about moving the meetings that were when the meetings we didn’t know about now are so that we can still do ALL the meetings, followed by emails that remind me that not all parents keep track of their kids in middle school and maybe more of them should. Gotta answer some of those today. It feels like Friday and it’s so incredibly not. 

The quilt did go to the photographer yesterday, though…so that’s cool. I beat out the other two quilters who are entering the same show…so I’m not TOTALLY at the last minute…just mostly. This sunset while I was sitting in stopped traffic to GET to the photographer was totally worth it. It looked much better in real life. Camera phones cannot handle intense skies…at least mine can’t.

Then again, I think my phone is close to the end of its useful life. It crashed yesterday, randomly. And then popped up a message that I couldn’t read before it disappeared…something about my phone crashing unexpectedly. You’d think there’d be a way to read those messages…but apparently not. 

So I was home late and did a union thing and shit I still need to do the union email from before break (ugh), but then I ate late and then was reading my book and then finally decided I should do something. DO SOMETHING. Don’t just sit there. Do. I could quilt a wool quilt (ugh, too tired). I could just sit and embroider on the Folk Tails (Tales?) quilt, but that doesn’t get me to making another piece of art, even though my brain couldn’t handle much more than that last night. So I pulled over the last big sketchbook, which dates back to 2014 (I haven’t been drawing as much in the last few years…more pointed drawing, drawing with a purpose, rather than just random stuff, at least in the big one), and I was going through old drawings, seeing what spoke to me. And it was the heads swallowing heads thing. I started with this one (this is just most of it…not all of it)…

And in some ways, I still think this is the best one. Wait, I think there’s a smaller one somewhere. Huh. Should find that. It might have been the first.

Then I did this one…trying to fit more heads in. 

You’ll notice I didn’t fit more heads in. I’m strangely obsessed with trying to get more heads in on the page…this one, well, there’s nowhere to put another head, unless it’s swallowing her elbow, and bizarrely, in my head, it’s all about heads swallowing heads. Don’t get all middle-school on me, people. Heads. Like people heads. Not penis heads. That’s a whole ‘nother type of quilt…one I get accused of making, but really don’t do. Maybe it’s about life or other people trying to swallow us up. I don’t know. 

So that motivated me. Looking at old drawings. While half lying on the couch and falling asleep at one point, I tried again…

Maybe 3 is the maximum number of heads I can do on a page this size. I should have put the bird somewhere else and had one swallow from the top, and then I could have fit a fourth head in there. 

This is a strange discussion, and yes, it’s all in my head (oh dear)…there’s certainly something going on. I need to draw more of these, I think. There are things I like about each drawing…but none of them is right yet. Five heads is the magic number, but I don’t think I can get there on a page this size. 

With that, I have meetings until 6 PM tonight, so who knows what I’ll be capable of by then (not a lot). I should get moving. Really. I should.