Here’s to…

One of the things that’s changed at school from before COVID is the number of videos we make. We used to make a few explaining how to do complicated things like writing a Claim Evidence Reasoning paragraph or how to create a website, and occasionally we’d record parts of a lab so the absent kids would have access. Now we make videos for absolutely everything, and it’s so time-consuming. I lose part of my prep to either making the video or recording my co-teacher. If there are multiple parts to the video, I’m sitting here at 9 PM trying to figure out why they’re not on the cloud yet and downloading them in some other way. In the morning, I’m stitching them all together and editing out the parts with kids’ faces or blank time, then waiting for them to upload back into Drive or onto Google Classroom. I have some from last year that might work, but mostly we have to redo, because everything is in person this year and it looks different than the online version. It’s a lot of work. And that’s on top of keeping track of the other stuff the district keeps throwing at us. And just grading. When do I do that? I don’t know. Whenever I can. I’m never caught up, even when I spend 8 hours over the weekend trying to get there. Ugh. This year is not normal. It hasn’t been normal in so long, and every once in a while, I’ll be showing an example drawing from an old unit, and I’ll feel the tears rise up in my eyes, because that unit was from right before COVID hit. It was when we didn’t even know how complicated and hard it would be. And we don’t know when or if it will ever go back.

The pro is that I hand Oreos to a bunch of kids and all of a sudden they can sort of explain plate motion. Much harder to do on Zoom. I remind myself of that.

I’ve been cutting pieces out on the new quilt since Sunday night…it’s slow.

I made it onto the second yard of Wonder Under. These are the yards with a million pieces on them.

Not really. But there’s an hour and a half of cutting between those two at the top and you can barely tell. I didn’t even finish one yard last night. It’s fine. Cutting while sitting on the couch and watching British mysteries is not all bad. It’s a good end to the day.

I walked when I got home yesterday. I almost persuaded myself that it was too late and I was too tired, but then I fought the tired (I’m really good at that) and shoved the headlamp into my pack, because it’s not like it’s going to be getting lighter in the next few weeks…and I did shorten the walk somewhat because I had to cook dinner last night.

I saw this leaf and its friends on the ground and I kept walking for about 20 steps and then couldn’t stand it because that leaf was imprinted on my brain, it was so beautiful. So I went back and took a picture and then freed it on someone’s lawn.

It was happy to be on a green lawn. Very contrasty.

I did stay late at school last night to force myself to grade all the art warmups…this one amused me.

Interesting kid.

Anyway, today is more plate motion, more Oreos, more grading, more trying to catch up, more explaining, more meetings, and a flu shot. Plus exercise and book club. Which is a long drive but that’s OK, there are friends at the end of it. And those are probably more important than anything else. It’s the one thing that makes this year easier (?) than last year…maybe not easier, but better? Having friends around me to plan with and discuss kids with and have lunch with. That’s the difference. It helps. I don’t feel as isolated as last year. The work is still hard and overwhelming and please don’t think that little bit of friendness makes up for all the crazy shit we’re dealing with otherwise…because even the kids aren’t really an issue (just a couple)…it’s the workload that’s not normal and over the top and that’s the part that burns us out the most.

Anyway. Here’s to exercise and friendships and getting as much done as you can and taking breaks when you need to.

Scissors Cutting Wonder Under…

I feel like I should follow up the last post with It’s Monday! Like you don’t know what day it is. It IS Monday. Pros: It’s a new week, I finished grading all the science units AND projects over the weekend, and it’s supposed to rain here today…good for plants. Cons: Monday. Tired. Worked all weekend so I don’t feel ready or rested. Pros: All the stuff for school this week is copied and organized. Cons: We planned a week where we are ON for four out of the five days. Granted, we are ON with Oreos on 1 1/2 of those days. Y’all, I don’t like block schedule. Those periods are so LONG and kids check out unless it’s AMAZEBALLS the entire time. Which sometimes it is…like Thursday and Friday. That is exhausting though for the teacher. This week, I will be demonstrating tectonic plates with Oreo cookies…and magma with corn syrup. It’s cool, but it’s a lot of being ON all the time.

Other exciting things for this week: I need to find a Halloween costume in my stash that will not be too hot to wear in the mid- to high 80s. It should be Disney-themed, but I might just fuck that off, because I don’t have the will or the brain power. I’m supposed to dress like my opposite gender on one day, but I think I already do that every day. Maybe I don’t have to wear a bra that day? That would be AWESOME. Not an issue in middle school at all. I can totally get away with that.

Oh man. My brain is on a roll.

So on Friday, I finished tracing all the pieces…

That’s 6 yards, some with a ton of tiny pieces; some with some whopping big pieces. It took a little over 17 hours to trace them all…not bad for 1500 or so pieces. It’ll probably be at least 7 or so hours to cut them out. I didn’t start until last night…

The day job ran the weekend. That’s about 40 minutes of cutting stuff out. Expect to see shots of that pile growing each night until it’s done.

I really did grade most of the weekend. I had about 50 videos to watch with a smattering of slide presentations to check if there was no video. But they’re done. This is a good thing.

I took a break in between Periods 3 and 4 to go for a 3.6-mile hike…

I just needed a break…and some exercise. It sucks to spend a weekend this way, but if it means I can come home all this week and NOT watch videos, I’m OK with it. The end of the trimester is coming up, and I will be out of town the weekend right before grades are due, so I’m trying to get all the last-minute shit out of the way…because my art class will be slamming me with two projects right before the end of the trimester. So there’s that. I know…it’s my fault…but there’s nothing I can do about that. I’ll figure it out. This school year is not low maintenance.

Cat forts…

They like them.

This lizard has moved into the camp chair I left outside.

It’s there every time I get home. The chair is mostly broken, which is why it’s out there…I guess it’s now a lizard home.

OK. Well I’ve got about a million things on the to-do list this week, but I’m hoping that art will happen in the form of scissors cutting Wonder Under every night. Maybe I’ll be done by the weekend? That would be nice…to be ironing onto fabric next weekend? It could happen. I’d need to clean up in here, of course. No Halloween parties for me…just fabric? Maybe. Oh yeah, it’s school photos today. I’m not in the mood. Think I have some animal snouts somewhere I could use for that…should find those. This week also includes reviewing my insurance because it’s open enrollment, plus a flu shot, book club, some exercise, some planning (hopefully a lot of planning), and a Zoom stitching meeting. Plus a chiropractic adjustment while in costume. Things to think about when choosing one’s costume. Hmmm.

Happy Monday thoughts, y’all.

It’s Friday!

Man, this has been a rough week. I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. You roll over and groan and think, oh shit, I have to get up and teach and things…then I realized we’ve been doing labs all week, labs with MATH IN THEM (the horrors) and MATH IS HARD. So today we have to finish everything up and I’m going to do the math bits for them because otherwise none of the answers work. Sigh. Seriously, if another kid tells me a block that fits in my hand is 83 centimeters long, I might scream. It’s fine. Everything is fine. Yesterday there were tubs of water on every table for science, then I had to deal with a group who thought it was OK to draw on the blocks we use for measuring…

OK, I’m a middle school teacher, so I see a penis in every drawing they do…maybe it’s a butterfly or a person…I just don’t know. I do know I reamed them. Especially when one outed the other and then that one outed the first one. The third kid…I’m like, get outta here…you’re innocent. Sigh. Then the art class came in and we did glue in there, so it’s like all the bad materials in one day…water plus triple-beam balances plus glue.

Today there is nothing on their tables…well, until art, and I can deal with that short term. There’s also a chance I’ll have to sub during my prep period, so the fact that I have 7 thousand copies to run for next week…well that’s irrelevant. I can do those at midnight, without moving, because the alarm will go off.

My job is frustrating me a bit. Some people are like, well why don’t you quit? Sigh. To do what? That pays me enough? It’s not that I don’t love my job…there are parts of it that are really great and amazing, but these COVID years and trying to retrain kids “if I didn’t tell you to do that during a lab, then don’t do it!”…amazingly dense behaviors…ironic since we’re trying to explain density. Maybe we should just hand them a marshmallow and a chunk of metal and finish it up with that.

I will be in a better mood this weekend. Hopefully. After a hike and some book reading. Plus maybe finishing the tracing part of this quilt! I had a Zoom meeting with quilt friends last night and traced during that…

So between that and the hour and 20 minutes I did on Wednesday night, I have almost 16 hours in and about 115 pieces to go.

I should be done tonight and on to the second exciting stage (in photos) of cutting all those fuckers out. Yeah!

We bought Simba a new bed and it might be too small and a cat might have already claimed it.

Sigh.

OK. I will survive. Gotta get out of here and pick up my co-teacher and head for school. It’s Friday!

Big Swathes of Wonder Under

I brought work home last night. And then refused to do it. All in my head, of course. I need to get some work done, but by the time I dropped my stuff on the floor at home, I knew I needed a walk to clear my head more than I needed to get work done. So that’s what I did. It got dark earlier than I wanted, so I had to cut it short…only 2 1/2 miles instead of 3 1/2, but it was definitely worth it. Since going back in person, it’s been really hard to get exercise in during the week. I’m managing one Pilates class mid-week and that’s about it. Working on that…but it’s work that gets in the way, unfortunately. Too much of it. At least Monday’s vote on revising the master schedule was a big hell no, status quo. That change would have added hours of work in the short term.

I have a ton of projects and units to grade. I’ll get to them. Just didn’t do it last night.

Meanwhile, I’m still tracing things. Mostly I’ve been tracing pieces of sky and land for the last two days. They’re big, complicated pieces, so they take longer to trace. I can’t do 100 of them in an hour. I did get over the 1000-piece hump last night, finished the sky, so all I have left to do is about 500 pieces in the bubble. This is not fast, though. Maybe by the weekend I’ll be done? We’ll see.

The big landscape pieces use up big swathes of Wonder Under…

Some of these yards have 300 pieces on them; some only have 10 really big pieces. I’m up to 6 yards, though…with at least one more to go, I suspect. We’ll see. I have a lot of space on a few of those yards that could be filled in with smaller pieces.

It’s my dad’s 81st birthday today. Last year, he almost died, so 81 feels particularly good to me.

I bought two SAQA blocks this year from the auction…because I sold two quilts and really liked both of these.

Laurel Izard on the left and Paula Dean on the right. I need to get them up on the wall this weekend.

I packed up a quilt for a show last night too. I think there are two others I need to ship this weekend. I have to deliver this other one after work tomorrow. That will be a long day. Hell, they’re all long at the moment. We did labs yesterday and the inability to listen and be safe was an issue. It’s gonna be a rough lab year. So we talked about that. I have one kid who can’t participate tomorrow…so far. Hopefully no more.

Views from the walk…

It got dark quickly…

Squiggly moon as I came down my hill to the house.

Walking was good. Tracing was good. Ugh to the rest. I need to water the plants tonight. I have Pilates, oh good. My hips and back need it. I’ll try grading stuff again tonight. Hoping I don’t lose my prep period to having to sub someone else’s class. That stuff sucks. I need to call my dad. I need more food for dinner, because the boychild came home earlier than we thought. So all that. Plus labs all day, crazy switchout between block 1 science to art to block 2 science…all different equipment and supplies. Ugh. OK. But I can do it. And then it will be done.

Growl Mode…

I’m in growl mode. Didn’t get enough sleep. Didn’t get enough done. Trying to be all zen about today, but it doesn’t feel zen. Want to go back to bed. Want another few days off work. Not an option. Yeah, it’s Monday…maybe this is all about Monday. Some really cool stuff is going on…I got a new sewing machine. My parents surprised me on Friday…told me mom had picked up my machine at the store where I had dropped it for repair (she goes there a lot), so I went to get it from her. And they had traded the old one in and gotten a deal on a new one. I’ve never had a new machine. I owe them some money, which is fine, because they don’t want it right this second, but here she is…

It’s a Viking…I’ve always sewn on Vikings. Looking forward to getting to know her better…many thanks to my parents. May she sew like the wind for a good long time.

I’ve been tracing every night…

It doesn’t look a whole lot different each night, but I made it to the 900s last night, so more than halfway done.

With about 9 1/2 hours in…

I’ve been tracing a lot of small things. The background will be a lot of big things, if I ever get there. Maybe by the weekend? We’ll see. Some nights, I get an hour in…some an hour and a half. Not much more than that. Always have school stuff and grading to do. I spent a lot of time on that yesterday…a good 5 hours or so. Did I finish? Do I ever finish?

This is cool…one in cocoon and one just starting…

That was Friday or Saturday…I should go check again. But I have to work first…today is a challenge. Have to get kids to finish all the things and turn them all in…and then grade them. Never-ending stuff that. Plus a staff meeting where we get to decide whether to upend the schedule completely or grow some classes on the large side. The opportunity to separate some troublesome kids who shouldn’t be together? But we could do that one kid at a time if we needed to. It’s an UGH meeting. OK, they are all UGH meetings.

Drew this before dinner on Saturday. There was no Sharpie in my purse…not sure why. So I was stuck with a ballpoint. Hate that.

Takes too long.

OK. Cranky mood notwithstanding, I still have to teach. Lack of sleep not helpful. I went to bed early. My brain was just not in the best place. Let’s all hope it gets to a better place (or exhaustion) by tonight. Until then, I know I will get to trace later tonight. And I did get a lot done yesterday, even if it felt like a work day (because it was). Crossing lots of things off the to-do list is a plus.

Fast and Furious

Well I have about 8 minutes here to write. Fast and furious. It’s been long days at work, interspersed with some tracing and a little stitching with friends. On Wednesday, the union meeting went for almost 3 hours…I managed to get these graded before and during, as I was listening.

This is the only way I can grade art. Lay it out in the spectrum. So different than grading science.

I get an hour or a little more of this done every night…

I’m in the 400s…only 1100 to go or so.

I just have the head to do on the second figure. IDK how many more to go. There’s a lot of people in this quilt.

I managed stitching last night with friends…well I stitched and they crocheted.

It’s nice to hang out with humans who aren’t pre-teens. And cats…

Luna on her pillar. Yes, I had to cover the top because she kept scratching it. She doesn’t scratch the bottom of it. Ah well.

Unit 2 at school is ending Monday.

So there’s lots of panic on the kids’ part to get work done.

Or not. Some kids don’t get the urgency. It’s been a rough week. I’m looking forward to a couple of days off. Parent meeting this morning with someone who will probably be a major issue. Love those. Enable your kids’ behavior. Please. And then trying to get kids through the assignment. I’m tired.

Ah well. It is Friday. Fridays are often tired. Saturdays will be art and more art with some grading probably. Maybe not. That’s something to look forward to. And more tracing. Meditative. It’s good to do that right before bedtime.

It’s Like Meditation

Well. Morning arrives bah boom. 12 texts later and I’m sort of awake, although tea takes a while to percolate up to the brain. I don’t know if you know, but I’ve been going to sleep earlier than I used to for about 8 months now. I’m less tired, but yes, I get less done too. I suspect it’s better for my health in some ways, but sometimes I wish I could do art for longer at night and sleep less. Some nights, I barely feel like I sleep, even though I’m in the bed place. That’s probably a different issue.

Last night was Back-to-School Night…I saw a whopping 5 sets of parents…it’s COVID, no kids allowed (which means the translators are all gone!). Plus families can’t always leave kids at home, and some can’t get off work. We don’t usually have a lot, but this was really low. Understandable. It does explain my exhaustion last night and today though. Today is a union meeting, back on Zoom for those, not sure for how long. Some parts of school are easier this year…teaching in person is easier than on Zoom, for sure, although some of the behavior stuff would be nonexistent on Zoom, because those kids just wouldn’t show up. Some parts are just a pain, though. I can’t keep up with the workload, at the moment. I get close and then realize I’m only caught up in one subject, and the other one is yelling at me. I’m not sure when that will change…maybe it won’t this year. Ugh.

So coming home and spending at least an hour making art is one of the things that keeps me sane. Right now, I’m in the tracing stage…I’ll probably be here for about 20 hours or so, so that’s a while on the one-hour-a-day thing I’m doing at the moment. I try to trace at least 100 pieces before I go to bed. Sometimes I do more.

I hate wasting Wonder Under. I try to fill in all the blank spots. Then I remember it’s pretty cheap stuff and it’s not really a waste, because my time is worth something.

And sometimes I worry about how it’s not very environmentally friendly. Sigh. Then I tell myself that making art helps. Me, definitely. Hopefully somewhere else too. Who knows?

Anyway, I’m tracing and it’s like meditation and that’s good. I have a union meeting after school today, so it’s another long one. This week is just bad…but maybe I’ll have time for a walk after the meeting. We’ll see. And maybe I’ll get a lot of shit done at school too and it will feel less overwhelming. I have a list written down. That’s a good place to start.

Grading with Pancakes…

Progress on the quilt, a good long hike in the out of doors…even some grading got done. I learned that when I have to grade something hard, I should do something else at the same time…like making pancakes for the next three weeks of breakfasts. Pour batter, grade a thing, flip pancakes, grade a thing, remove from pan, grade a thing. Takes care of that need to get up and scream.

So the drawing is done as of Saturday night…on Friday, I added more paper to the top and decided against another figure…

I just needed enough for some weather. I had help.

Not really. I worked on the people in the bubble…

I really don’t understand the need to tell people what to do with their uteri. It makes no sense to me unless you are willing to adopt the child and feed and clothe it and send it to school. Otherwise, why the fuck do you care? When you are the same people who are OK with immigrant children in cages. When you are the same people ranting about having to wear a mask. It makes no fucking sense. And to ignore the male part of the equation is just stupid. Women don’t get pregnant by themselves, and men can get more than one woman pregnant at a time. There’s your problem…right there. Penises and sperm. Start with those if you wanna get all high and mighty.

Still not helping, Luna.

Saturday we hiked 7 1/2 miles in the Lagunas, which was really nice.

The weather was pretty chilly when we started…

Beautiful blue skies once the clouds went away.

We started at Penny Pines, hiked to the Big Laguna Trail, then cut across…

through Horse Heaven Campground, across the road, then picked up the PCT on the other side.

I’ve done the section north of Penny Pines toward Garnet Peak, but not this piece…great views of the desert on one side, the mountains on the other.

It was definitely warmer on the desert side.

Saw a family hiking this trail…guess they don’t read.

Weird.

Took me forever to see this stick insect. The man saw it right away.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the wild. It was a good hike and we were back at a reasonable time for me to get some work done, which I also needed to do.

Hey, there’s a Swallowtail cocoon on my lemon tree…

And one of the caterpillars is still feeding…

So many of them disappear; I’m assuming eaten by birds.

I started this drawing on Thursday, the night I forgot to prep dinner, and then finished it Saturday night.

Kinda like it. Not sure what it’s about. But it feels huggy.

Then filled in the background on the big drawing…finished!

Although I ended up adding some lines last night just to break up some pieces more logically. Then I numbered it last night…

Which took an hour and a half…

It’s got 1513 pieces, but I know I have some a’s and b’s in there because I missed things the first time through and wanted the numbers to attempt to make sense.

My dad gave me an article about the guy who helped make the Texas Abortion bill and how he thought about getting around all the challenges. What an ass (the guy, not my dad). Seriously, couldn’t he do something with his skills that might help humanity? Save the planet? Cure disease? Not create a larger unsupported, sometimes unwanted, sometimes unneeded population? That men aren’t responsible for? Yeah. Not a fan.

Well the next step is to trace. First, though, off to work on very little sleep. I’d like to thank my brain for the first hour or so of not sleeping, and a small dog for the last hour or so. He will adapt to our new morning schedule, I think, but it will take a while. Until then, I will either need more caffeine or many naps (not likely).

I leave you with this drawing of magma that looked an awful lot like COVID…

Yeah, makes sense to me.

Sometimes Art Just Needs to Be Made…

One of the reasons I have a hard time sleeping is that Art Brain doesn’t get a lot of time during the school day to process ideas. She tends to start at about 10 PM and since I’m going to bed earlier this year, it doesn’t leave much time for the work of it. I fell asleep last night to her taping more paper to the top and right side of this drawing so she could add storm clouds and another figure. She and I will talk later…I know she’s frustrated at only drawing for an hour a night, but last night, I was exhausted when I got home (at almost 6 PM) and had forgotten I was in charge of dinner (never defrosted, let alone marinated meat), so after food was handled (we went out) and my non-Art Brain had a chance to decompress, there was only an hour and a bit before bedtime. And I was exhausted. So I went for the sleep.

I woke up this morning with the drawing stuff still in my head, but now it has to wait until tonight to get drawn and/or decided. Tape more on top? Definitely. Not sure about the other bit. I’ll think about it.

I have been drawing for about an hour a night, though. Some weeks, I get to make art for 10+ hours, some even 18 (OK, that’s when I completely blow off work on the weekend, which I pay for later)…this week is a solid 6 so far. Not great. Could be better.

I roughed in some stuff on the right side when I started this, then started adding protest signs.

And a white woman with cash…because they can always get an abortion, right? If they’re rich enough? That’s one of the many things wrong with this system of Christian ideals. They are only for everyone ELSE. If my precious gets pregnant and that will affect her future, we’ll find a way. I hate that shit.

And then last night, I kept working on that right side. I think there’s going to have to be hand embroidery on this thing for some of the smaller writing.

I’m ignoring all the deadlines popping up. I might even be ignoring size restrictions for some big shows. Not sure. Nah, it’s still smallish. Ha! Not if I add more at the top and sides. Ah well. Sometimes art just needs to be made. Sometimes they never get into a show. It sucks. But it needs to be made.

I still need to add the entire landscape behind the women. The bubble gets none of that. They live in their bubble world. We get nature. Fuck ’em.

Sometimes I write notes on the drawings as I’m going along…apparently a cat objected to my focus on human rights…

Nova. Seriously. So I’m back to covering up all the edges so she doesn’t get excited again. Midnight used to eat my drawings. Annoying.

This is what I started at dinner.

Trying to keep the weekly drawing practice going, in between trying to manage art and art supplies and science and science supplies and grading and contracts and getting tested. I’m hopefully going hiking tomorrow. And then I’ll grade and hopefully get the drawing ready for the next stage by the end of the weekend. It’s got 6 hours into it so far. For those who want to know how long things really take, I’m betting there’s at least another 2-4 hours to go before she’s done.

So I’m going to drive off into the rain (rain? We have rain?) and get through the day, persuade a bunch of 11-year-olds to actually FINISH their art and not just take the fastest route to done, try to keep track of 100+ 12-year-olds who want to partner with ALL their friends, and somehow manage to get some grading done in between all that (ha! whatever). Nature and art this weekend, though. Yes, grading…but the others too.

Staring at the Paper…

So. If you have a meeting after work about a kid, but you also have your exercise class, which is part of what keeps you sane and healthy, do you (I’m not skipping the class, y’all) dress for the class so you can stay longer at the meeting? Or leave earlier to go get dressed. I’m leaning toward the latter. The former is more efficient and makes more sense, but probably the latter is more professional. Or just send notes to the meeting and know your co-teachers will say the same stuff you do, because it’s not like the kid is different in his other classes. He’s pretty consistent. These are the things that keep me up at night…that and my natural distrust of the white male politician. And a sense of overwhelming dread that accompanies my workload.

It’s a good thing I’m drawing an hour every night…that’s my goal anyway. Draw for an hour, meditate, attempt sleep. Repeat. Some of the “drawing” is just staring at the paper, which is also allowed.

Not sure if it’s the future mom or the fetus who isn’t ready in this figure. Maybe both. That night, there was thunder and lightning galore, and Calli lost her mind over and over again. So I didn’t sleep much either.

The left side is coming along…

I will give them a natural landscape to be in, a green space. The bubble on the right is harder to draw.

I think I have most of the figures on the left done. I’m trying to refrain from more details. There’s enough. I got myself all tied in knots over shadows last night…drawn shadows. They just got to be too much. So I got rid of a bunch of them.

I also entered another show, which took over an hour, although that “family friendly” tag is in there, so who knows what will get in, if anything. I did get into two things yesterday, which is nice. Swallow Me Whole will be in Fiber Art Now as part of Excellence in Quilts

And Wise Choice will be going to San Diego Mesa College for their Sowing Seeds exhibit.

It was part of the Earth Stories exhibit and hasn’t been seen locally, I think. It traveled a lot and then got rolled up. It’s all about birth control and giving women the right to plan families and childbirth…ironically very similar to what I’m working on in the current drawing. Things don’t change. I wish they would, but they don’t seem to.

The symptoms from the booster seem gone now…a little fatigue and feeling like I was coming down with the flu, plus a sore arm. I think I’m good now. And more protected, which is a plus.

OK, with that, I have two meetings today during and after school, an exercise class, and then hopefully some delightful drawing going on. One can hope. The drawing itself will be delightful…the things I am drawing are not so much. I probably have to grade some things too. At least it’s nice and cool for a few days…no more lightning, but drizzly clouds. I’ll take that.