Shooing Snakes

It’s interesting that my brain is sure I should be up earlier on a Monday and tries to make me wake up and succeeds because as soon as any coherent part of it wakes up, it starts to worry about work and how to get it all done…that said, I was dreaming about snakes of all sizes everywhere and the dogs and cats were on them and chasing them and I was afraid one of the snakes was a rattler (they were all rattlers) and would strike, so I was running around, moving cats and dogs and shooing snakes.

If that isn’t a metaphor for life right now, I don’t know what is.

I spent a few hours last night trying to organize and finalize these gridded selfies for my Advanced Art kids, emailed all of the ones I had (28/38), planned the week for both art classes (as much as that ever seems to work), spent hours on science, made two videos, I have another 4-6 videos I need to make today and tomorrow for art, I think. I wrote it down. Graded nothing since Friday night…although I graded during gaming, the easy stuff, not the thinking stuff. Nobody should be grading thinking stuff on a Friday night. Gaming, being watched by the dog (she needed to pee), bouncing back and forth on the Mac between game info and what I was grading.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’m gone this weekend, although I do have wifi, and grades are due in a week. So I need to not only plan for next week, which is usually multiple hours of stuff, but grade everything that counts for this trimester and input it all. Fun stuff. You wish you were me.

Halloween for the students.

I would have worn the lemur costume but (a) they only see my head anyway and (b) it was warm on Friday.

On actual Halloween, I exercised, twice actually, did some art stuff, got interviewed for an art video thing…the Schweinfurth Art Center is currently showing Quilts=Art=Quilts, and here is my piece, Swallow Me Whole hung in that space.

They have a cool tour of the show you can see on their website here. Check it out. They’re editing all my words down to a reasonable amount (you know how that goes). I’ll let you know when it posts.

Strangely, Friday night, after gaming, I had energy. I had enlarged a couple of things, still debating what to do next. This drawing from a staff meeting got an extended body…

And I did enlarge the third possible COVID quilt.

It’s smaller than the last one, but it’s complicated. That’s not a bad thing in general. I’m debating.

Size comparisons…

I found out about another show I should enter, but the theme is not something my head is processing right now. So I don’t know.

Saturday also involved getting a nail out of my tire and a 3-mile hike in nature.

Luckily it was late enough that most people had left nature for their Halloween parties.

I’m not kidding. My neighbors threw one. Fifteen kids. We left candy in a bowl in the driveway.

This guy kept eyeballing us, but was much more interested in finding food.

The sky was beautiful.

The neighbors were mostly quiet…impressive, considering the candy consumption that must have happened. We ate out (outside…still not going into a restaurant) and then I sat and drew for my Patreon…

Nova kept trying to crawl into my lap…but eventually I got something done.

Scanned it, cleaned it up, posted it.

Hi Nova. Then Sunday was all school, all the time, in between phone calls and groceries. I finished sending those 28 emails to art students at 9:45 PM or so…which was really an hour later in Kathy brain time. I rode the stationary bike for exercise…gotta incorporate that back in. I got lazy or overwhelmed or whatever.

Then I tried to draw, got the sketchbook out, put it on the couch, found my pen, and Kitten was lying on it.

Straight up, I didn’t have the energy to draw anyway. School really kicked my ass yesterday, on a Sunday. It was just hard. It feels never-ending, like there’s never a break, and when I take a break, then I’m on again for just hours to catch up, and I never catch up. I don’t ever see the kids in person, just online, which is hard for me. I do have relationships with kids, but it’s not the same. I worry about some, I worry too hard about some I should probably just stop worrying about, I try too hard sometimes. Need to let some of those balls drop so I can survive this workload. The plusses of having a team support with all the little stuff, with the kids, with someone to talk to about school or kids; the co-teacher helping with planning stuff and making posts and assignments. That’s all gone. New curriculum, no curriculum, no materials, no support. Exhausted. I’ll be 1/3 of the way through the year on Friday. The vast expanse of time that unfolds before me in this school year…sigh. I do think about quitting. I do. I always expected to teach until I retired. I think I will…but as a high-risk person, I wonder how long it will be before I can go back…if ever.

I need to start the next art quilt. Even if it’s just that little Boom so I have something to work on. I need to start. I need a place for my brain to rest at the end of the day besides this crap.

X Is Me…

We’ve almost made it a third of the way through the school year. I thought I was losing my mind yesterday. OK, I often think that, but not nearly as intensely as I have this year. But the combination of staff meeting plus stuff I still haven’t caught up on from the last staff meeting plus trying to plan for next week and finish this week, and the grading pile that is electronic but symbolically reaches toward the sky plus all the other stuff I do that is in my head, the art stuff, the to-do list for that, the thing that keeps me somewhere near sane and from crying more often than I do…HOLY FUCK. I cannot keep up. And yet I do. I drop things, I flail at things, there’s a faucet at home that needs replacing and they’ll send it to me free but I have to find the manual and it’s in a pile and the boychild has tried to find it and can’t and I just don’t have the time. I need to clean the bathroom counter. No time. I haven’t watered much this week. No time. I did manage to exercise three times, which is exactly three more times than last week, so that is good…but tomorrow, the tire needs its nail removed and that is just one of the 7,000 things that needs doing on the weekend and it sounds exhausting because it is.

Please no one tell my admin that I have not filled out the emergency sub plans because I don’t have the time or energy to even look at them. Maybe they will not notice. Except honestly the only people that will suffer are my emergency subs and my coteachers and that’s not fair to them, but holy fuck when am I supposed to fit that into the 37 emails about one assignment that everyone and their mother wants me to grade?

Deep fucking breaths. It’s Friday. I will manage it…some of it anyway. Can’t manage all of it. There isn’t time. Yesterday’s mind fuck was this formula…

Which the boychild calculated for me to figure out a kid’s grade who had one teacher for the first 6 weeks, worth 25% of her grade, another teacher for the next 4 weeks, and then me for the last 2 weeks, which haven’t happened yet. I asked my principal and my math coteacher (well, she WAS my math coteacher, but not now, because COVID sucks), and they sorta helped, but now I have a formula and that’s all I needed. X is me, by the way. In case you were wondering. Or my percentage for her. When I have one. Still not sure how I’m going to make the program work for this, but I’ll just make shit up if I have to.

Wednesday night, I couldn’t focus on anything, but I knew I wanted to do something artistic, so I pulled the most recent batch of fabrics from Anna Maria Horner for Applique Stories…and I stared at them for a while until I saw boobs. Seriously. I did. And I cut them out.

Possibly a strange way to start, but it worked for me. I was going to stop there and go to bed. That would have been the smart and responsible thing to do. But it bugged me that she didn’t have a face. So I made her one.

I think she still needs hair and maybe some dark in her eyes for pupils and the right ribcage needs decoration to match the left one. And then stitch her all down. But it was a relief to make her.

Then last night, I forced myself to sit and pull out my sketchbook, because I had forgotten about this unfinished drawing from mid-July and I liked it, so I finished it.

I’m still debating if she’s the next quilt or not. She might be. She’s talking like she is.

This was a relief. I mailed it because I didn’t have time to drop it off anywhere, but it got there and was accepted.

I have never stressed so much about how I colored in the ovals and the ballot arriving.

I upped my tea stash…a friend sent me some fancy teas, plus I ordered a chai tea sampler because I can’t drink milk within two hours of my pill to ward off Lyme disease, and I still need (NEED) the tea, so I got some more and then found all my loose tea holders (there were many)…

One is robot-shaped, one is teapot-shaped, the others are more standard. I have a yellow submarine one too, but I left it in the drawer. What keeps me functional right now? Tea. Lots of it.

And these guys…

That is my copy paper box. Obviously a cat bed.

I will give you the loves and you will like it.

It’s been chilly in the mornings…this is one of the few sunny spots in winter…

When things are super bad and stressful, I walk around the house and pet something furry.

And heat my tea up. Again. For the thousandth time.

OK. Well, it’s Friday, for what that’s worth. I’m wearing my eyeball hat for Halloween…for my students today. It might help. It might not. I’m letting all the things go that irritated me yesterday. If they hand nothing in, they have an F. That’s just a statement of fact. I feel for parents, but I can’t do everything for them. They need to check in with their kid. I am only one person with 173? Is it 173 now? I don’t even know how many students I have y’all. I don’t even know. I am only one person with possibly 173, possibly 174 students, and there is only so much I can do. But I do have to grade and plan this weekend, and hopefully walk, and hopefully get my tire fixed. And maybe start the next quilt, if I can make a decision about that.

The Sun Is Up…

One of my motivators for getting work done is that I always need to have something to write about. The writing itself serves a purpose in my brain, lets me spit out some of the stuff that clutters it up in there, but the art kind of does that too. They work together to keep me sane. Work has always had incredibly busy spurts where it is hard to get anything else done (art, yardwork, housework, sleep), but this is worse, more encompassing, and having a project end without one to take its place is proving difficult.

I found this drawing the other day, probably from my rocketbook sketchbook…you draw in it and it sends it to your computer.

I would love to be sold on this technology, but it’s a relatively small sketchbook and I never got in the habit of using it. You have to use certain kinds of pens on it too, which is fine, but they aren’t what I prefer to draw with. I do love the idea of having it transfer to the computer though. I wish I could do that with my larger drawings, but tech and I haven’t met in the middle on this one yet.

I did think, with a little redrawing and additional stuff, I could make this into a quilt, but then my art brain was a little disdainful, make something with meaning, how can you not, with what we are living through right now. I’m in a sort of frozen status of working too hard, too many hours, too exhausted at the end of the day to focus on something new like that. Plus I have other things I’ve had to get done…I packed up a quilt for the photographer one night. I have another one that needs to ship out to Quilt National. I made a video for my Patreon last night. I presented at a Textile Slam last night too. Talking on Zoom after talking on Zoom all day. I have an exhibit I need to enter, probably sooner rather than later. These tasks need to be done at some point.

All excuses for not getting something started. Grab a drawing, enlarge it, move all the crap off the light table (well that will be an issue while I am teaching art…on the table, off the table, on the daily). Get something done. Let’s hope my evening brain agrees. My morning brain is suitably exhausted and feels overwhelmed. More tea! These almost dark morning starts…

I love the sunrises. I don’t love being awake early enough to see them.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of these. We get them in Spring and early Summer, and then they disappear…

Although I saw one last October as well. Grow big, Monarch caterpillar. Go forth and conquer the world! Or at least this milkweed.

Sigh. This was the subject line. The email was longer and full of guilt trips and whining.

Ah, middle schoolers…the world does revolve around you, doesn’t it? There’s a whole lot of laziness right now. I feel for parents who work and/or have multiple children. Trying to keep up with all this crap is difficult for me, and I don’t have children who might blow everything off, make excuses, and lie about it. I had an assignment for the kids yesterday, pretty structured, an hour to complete something that should take maybe 30 minutes, if you’re focused. At the end of class, I bounced through the kids’ assignments and found 7 or 8 kids in the first class who didn’t do diddly squat. Nothing. Nada. OK. Well, I’ll email all your parents. The majority won’t answer, but this one is having a traumatic moment, because her parents DID answer (asked for a Spanish translation, which I provided). I feel for her…except I’ve had her since August, and this behavior is consistent at least. Sure, honey, we’d all like to delete all the bad stuff and focus on the new. I will help you with that by moving the old unit all the way down to the bottom of the classwork stream, once we’re done with it. But you need to show up to class and actually DO something for once please. Man, I work hard every day. I do have kids who also work hard. I appreciate them. I did wait about 8 hours before I answered her, because the first response in my head wasn’t very nice. She won’t like my final response either, because it’s basically No. Show up. Do the work. But I’m watching other kids who are called out on their chronic absences and admin says they will start working, and they pick warmups from a month ago that I’m not going to grade. I don’t have time to go back to September and regrade all the basic stuff you missed. Pick something recent. Come to class. You can’t pass if you don’t show up and listen to the discussions.

This job…it just hurts right now. My co-teachers at least see each other at school and can talk. I get a once-in-a-while phone call or Zoom, both of which are really nice, and honestly, I don’t have time for more than that, but it makes it hard. I get a quick run into the office every two weeks or so…I’ve seen our office secretary more than anyone this year. I fucking hate this year.

OK, well obviously I need to start a new art piece tonight, even if it’s that little drawing tweaked a bit. It doesn’t have to be big. It just has to get started and get me through to the next place, the next piece, to some sense of peace, whatever that means right now. Plus the sun is up, so I have to go work.

Allow Grace for All

I’ve never been quite so obsessed with whether I colored in the circle carefully enough and dark enough.

Yup. She’s done. Just need to deliver her. And wait. And maybe the phone calls and crap shoved in my mailbox will stop soon. I’m wearing my I Voted sticker today on Zoom. We got this email about political shirts at school (or online)…and sometimes I wonder where they draw the line. With the school shootings, I remember my whole team wearing shirts with orange ribbons on them, which apparently is political. I certainly didn’t think of it as being political at the time. I still don’t think it’s OK to have guns as available as they are. I still have my shirt. I wonder if my Recycle shirts are political? Or Climate Change? I have all these science shirts I used to wear to school on Mondays. I don’t know where the line is. I know that there are some parents complaining about BLM shirts…but really, where is the line? What is political and what is just LIFE? Sigh. It’s not political to vote. It’s not political to care about an issue. Does my I Voted sticker send a political message? We’ll see. I’m still wearing it.

I finished the quilt yesterday. I have a hole in my finger to prove it. I was going to go find the sticky pad things I put on my fingers last night when I was finishing, but I was in a group Zoom in my office and someone was out there yelling at the debate, so I stayed here and poked a bigger hole in my finger. It’ll heal. I haven’t calculated hours yet. I haven’t ironed it. I need to take it to the photographer Monday, so I’ll iron and dehair and maybe put a label on it and then contact the new owner. Which is cool. And then I’ll start drawing the next one, hopefully this weekend. I say that, but we leave for camping after school…so we’ll see how that goes. I packed my clothes (mostly) last night…it’s supposed to get cold and possibly wet. Should be interesting. Also, I originally thought one hike? Apparently now it’s possibly three. We’ll see. I am going into it completely exhausted, but also, I’m not getting enough exercise…so I don’t feel like I’m in shape for anything.

The quilt…

Had about 338″ of binding and sleeve to sew down. I made it 3/4 of the way around the outside edge on Thursday night, and the rest of the way around plus the two sleeves last night (one meeting was book club, one was my stitching group).

Pretty damn efficient. I did some in front of the TV too. Then last night, I packed clothes and backpack and hiking stuff and made rice krispie treats (my post-hike blood sugar assist) and voted. And then went to bed. I still have prep to do for class today and Monday…but I’m mostly OK, as long as I don’t think too much about having to grade stuff next week and the fact that I’m doing some Textile Slam on Tuesday and a studio interview on the following Saturday and I’m not ready for either of them? It’s fine. I’m going to get it done. If that cat gets out of my way.

I try to plan/grade standing up to make up for all the sitting. Sometimes the internet does not comply, though, so I end up back in that chair. I gained a sweater and slippers this week…it’s cooled down a bit, certainly in the morning. I’m actually wearing pants instead of shorts today. Finally. In the last week of October. Don’t get excited; they’re not long pants. Just pants. I didn’t need a fan yesterday, first day in a long time. I still had my hair up by 4th period, though…it just starts to drive me nuts at some point.

I have to figure out a way to put a grid on the kids’ selfies for the next art project. The art teacher is trying to help…but I think she has Photoshop and I don’t. Paint.net might do it. I need to find the time to try that too. It’s all very overwhelming. I’m hoping two days away from it will help, although I know next week will be hard because of my taking two days. Sigh. There’s no winning in any of this. There’s no way to make it better for teachers and students until this damn pandemic is more under control.

What cats do when people go outside…they wanna check out what you’re doing…

Mostly when I’m teaching, they leave. I think it’s loud and they don’t like it.

OK, I need to wake up and get my brain going (you’d think writing this would do that, but I am that tired right now), teach all day, and then go camping. Wish me luck. Relaxation? Or at least escape? Good (better?) moods? No talk of work? Not a rule, but a goal. Venting is necessary at times. Patience as well, mine as well as others. Allow grace for all.

Finish Something…

The good thing about a little bit of art every day is that at some point, you will finish something. Perhaps a lot of little somethings, but something nonetheless. And it never guarantees you’ll like it, but that’s the way art is anyway. Don’t get excited…I’m not done yet (quite) and I do like it. And I wonder what’s next. I know the subject but not the specifics. Hoping that this weekend helps my brain come up with something. It will…it’s just a matter of whether it’s something I want to make into a finished product. A lot of what I do on paper never makes it into the time-consuming process of making an art quilt. I feel bad about that, but then again, I do what I can. This will be the 6th finish of the year, but one of them is pretty small. I think I can make one more this year. I’d like to think I could make two, but this job isn’t letting me do much of anything at the moment. So one. I know I can do one.

I finished the quilting on Monday night…

I just had one section of the background to do, and it was pretty easy.

The thread behaved; the machine did too. It’s nice when it’s like that. It’s not always like that.

11 hours of quilting. Not bad.

Last night, after working all day just like always, and grading until 9 PM or so, I laid out the quilt in the entryway and was watched (hindered?) by the two kittens…Nova really did just watch.

Luna…in true Luna fashion…tried to fuck with it. I trimmed her down (the quilt, not the cat), got her edges straight…

Ironed and cut the binding and the sleeves, and sewed them on…

That was 2 hours last night. I’m glad I did it. I was tired. I had more schoolwork to do (I always have more schoolwork to do). I was incredibly frustrated by school yesterday, and apologized to one kid and parent and then stopped looking at email for a while (smart) until I had literally input grades maybe one minute prior and a kid is already asking for a redo. At least he asked. Someone else, in seconds, had already resubmitted. My lord, children. Give me a moment to talk to you about how to improve your score? Nah. Just give me another half-assed attempt. Please. The first one wasn’t disheartening enough…I was yelling at some point last night that I didn’t understand how they thought sediment could melt into igneous rock. You ask in class, they all know where igneous rock comes from…well, no, because then you have the kids who sit there and do nothing on the app we use for science, and then they leave early, because I said, “If you’re done, you can leave,” and they interpreted the ‘done’ in a different way than I did. Which ‘done’ I am, by the way. And therein is part of the problem. If I am mentally done with dealing with the shit, it means I have to work really hard to have grace and patience for those who are trying, but they’re 12, and that means they’re not very good at it.

I think I will just answer all emails once a day, in the morning. Except then I forget to go back and do that and then there are hundreds of them, all piled up, like dead bodies rotting on the floor. It’s just overwhelming.

Today, I will work on sewing my binding on. I thought I would be able to get the quilt to the photographer Friday, but that’s crazy talk. We’re going camping, and getting up there with enough daylight to set up is what we need. I can deliver it next week. It will be fine. I will also work on getting as much of next week planned as I can, because I won’t have this weekend to do that. Yikes, really, but it’ll be fine. It has to be.

Yesterday was my dad’s 80th birthday. We Zoomed from all over…mostly the West Coast, but the two East Coast women joined in as well. I was going to go over and drop off treats and his gift, but I got an email from my gym about a COVID positive test in one of my classes from last week, so yesterday I went and got tested and last night I didn’t go over there to potentially infect them. The odds of my getting it in class are hopefully low. We’re far apart, I wear a mask, sanitize, shower when I get home. But you never know. Better to be safe. I remember thinking back when Dad was in his 60s and his heart was being cranky that we’d be lucky to get him through 70, so I’m pretty impressed he’s still chugging on, fixing my sprinklers, helping me build a fence. Every year is appreciated.

OK, I’m tired (yes, I stayed up too late to finish) and I have a shitload of work to do today (what’s new?) and I’ll be sewing binding during book club tonight…one thing I can do while waiting for a negative test result. I will miss my exercise class tonight…my body really needs it, but maybe I will find one online that works.

I did see my ceramic piece fired…

She (and I) will be in 29 Palms in two 1/2 weeks for installation in the labyrinth. Should be interesting.

This from my reading…

That’s from Stephen King, believe it or not. The man is a masterful writer. Although this is the narrator speaking, so is King…and that’s how I feel about art and teaching (most of the time). This year has been a real stretch for that, but I’m hoping a pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime event. We’ll see. I’d hate for them to become as commonplace as school shootings.

OK, off to work…in the other room…not so far.

Rabbits Everywhere

Today begins the fourth week of this new version of school, the third new version this year. Hopefully the last, although I get two new students today. They told me it would always be a one-for-one switch, but this is two for one. I’ve been told one of them never shows up. But he’s on my roster now, so I have to record things for him and mark him absent and all that, so it’s not like there’s no work when you go from 174 to 175 kids. Kind of pitiful too, when that’s the case. Where is this kid? What’s he doing? How is his family doing? I don’t know. More importantly (or tragically), I don’t have TIME to know. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. In the physical classroom, back in the day when school was ‘normal’, the school people, including me, would have time to track down that one kid who never shows up. Here and now? I know there’s someone who is supposed to be paying attention to that, but they’re also paying attention to daily spray downs and kids who won’t wear masks and kids who won’t social distance and teachers who might have COVID and students who have symptoms. The daily stuff overwhelms.

My whole team was texting their hours put in to school this weekend, and it was bad across the board. It’s not like we usually could walk away from it on the weekend completely…sometimes, if you planned really well during the week for the following week and there were no big assignments needing to be graded, well you could leave your computer at work and walk away from it. Now? Fuck no. In fact, this upcoming weekend, where I am venturing into no-internet land, I’m having to get at least Monday planned for next week. Getting this week planned and set up took 8 hours on Saturday and another 7 on Sunday. Some of that was art prep…I needed to put together packages for them to pick up for the next project…which included cutting out 70+ viewfinders…

Sorting through paper and pencils and getting a big order of blending stumps, stuffing everything in envelopes, and delivering it to school so kids can pick it up. No small feat. No small amount of time either…probably 3 of those 15 hours was just dealing with that.

I had two videos I needed to record for school, but the neighbors were either sawing, drilling, or screaming. I’m pretty sure one of the videos has kids yelling in the background and the other one has his blower/vacuum thing going.

The sky was beautiful while they threw their 3000th pandemic party.

I get some questions about teaching art…isn’t it fun? You like art. Isn’t it pretty easy? Well no, it’s not fun and it’s not easy. It’s managing 70 kids who range from I Hate Art to I LOVE Art with abilities that go along with that, on a computer, hardly being able to see their work or give them daily guidance, and coming up with ideas that support/bounce off of your co-teacher, who is just as buried and overwhelmed as you are. And I can’t just draw, because they copy what you do, and that’s not what this is about.

Friday’s lesson on how to shade things in many different media, because if I say you need a pencil, fourteen kids ask if pen is OK. So I did colored pencil, crayon, ink pen, ballpoint pen, and regular pencil. I thought later that I could have done pointillism, but I didn’t go there. I got some very good results, some OK results, some eh results, some “how is that 15 minutes of work” results, and some who don’t know how to turn anything in and I don’t know why. I spent about 3 more hours last night trying to figure out how to run this week, in between two projects but they don’t have the materials yet for the next project. So that was fun. It’s a whole ‘nother Google search regime. And time-consuming as hell. Did I mention that it’s two different levels of art? I’m not teaching them the exact same thing. So my brain is all over the place, can’t remember assignment numbers for each class. I need to type up a list (in my spare fucking time, y’all) so I can refer to it. And the last 2 hours last night was giving feedback on book cover prototypes, which is brain sucking stuff. What are the criteria? Are they hitting them? Did they just copy this off the internet? Certainly possible. What can I say to them that will help? And not hurt? I made it through 17 in 2 hours. I have 38 kids in that class. Luckily, so far, only 25 have turned them in. I have 8 to do today before class starts. And then I try to do them DURING class, which is a challenge.

So no, teaching art isn’t fun. I don’t like it. Certainly not this version of it. It at least doubles my planning time and grading time, maybe triples it. There are some things I can double up on, but not many. And sarcasm. I have to remember that the one class is all 6th graders and some of them don’t understand sarcasm yet. Neither do their parents. Sigh.

So school. Is hard. Is time-consuming, more than it ever has been. I think we will all be completely burnt out by the time the end of the trimester comes. And there are still two more after that.

I managed to get the outline quilting done on Friday night…

I don’t know where I find the energy sometimes. To get up off the couch, walk away from the TV and the brainless I don’t need to do any more. Saturday, I went and bought binding…and then started quilting the background.

I was tired. It wasn’t fast. There isn’t much of it, but it’s not a small quilt. I had to use a different thread and it was coming off the spool weird. The thread kept catching and breaking.

Fucking annoying. Time-consuming. I fixed it last night though…

Or it fixed itself because I used enough of it that it stopped catching. Hard to know. It did stop breaking though. I made it about 3/4 of the way around. At 11:35 pm, I stopped. I need to sleep. Another hour of quilting, maybe, and I’ll be done. Trim it, bind it. I can see it being done. That’s good.

Still fighting for time to exercise…Saturday night’s walk…

It cooled off. Rabbits everywhere.

Next weekend will be longer hikes.

And further away. Away from my computer and my work setup. The thing that’s always there, in my space, telling me I haven’t done enough.

Kitten likes it when we hike. She especially likes the smell of hiking boots.

She’s a little strange.

These two are sweethearts. When they’re not scratching shit and attacking my pens.

In general, good cats.

OK. I still have 8 prototypes that need feedback. I graded almost nothing this weekend in that 15 hours…which didn’t even count the three hours or more I did after school on Friday. I still need to make one more video thing, grade a million things, grade all the late work that panicked children have turned in, teach all day, and answer 6 thousand emails. Otherwise, teachers are fine y’all. Don’t worry about us. Keep having your non-socially-distanced parties and being a maskhole. Hey! Go vote! Everyone in my household has done that but me. I will. I promise. Not this week, probably, but maybe. I could. I will. It will be a relief to color that circle in.

A Typhoon, a Tsunami, and a Sharknado…

Earlier this week, I almost felt like I had a handle on things. I was still working shitty hours and stressed about it, but I felt like I had control of it (oh stop your hysterical laughter), or at least as much control as we ever have as teachers of the muddled middles, and then Thursday hit. And whatever I needed to do for next week (and technically the following week, because I made the crazy-ass decision to try to do something non-school-related for MORE THAN A FEW HOURS and we are camping with no internet for two nights, two whole fucking nights, that’s it) suddenly exploded into a typhoon, a tsunami, and a sharknado all in one. It didn’t help that all the 6th graders thought I was kidding about handing in prototypes for art so I could give them feedback, so I did the 11 I had turned in, and then yesterday, during class, I answered shit in the chat, crap kids asked me out loud (brave souls), and typed feedback for those who were close enough to making two prototypes that they could hand something in, although I explained what a monogram was, and then told them not to do it, and then they did it anyway, because listening to instructions is HARRRRRRD Ms. Nida.

FUCK ME. I got the news that one of the burrs in my saddle from before the switch is coming back to me on distance learning (because he was so successful last time?) into my biggest, most challenging class. Oh joy. It’s fine. IT’S FUCKING FINE.

It’s really not. I’m having a really hard time. I’ve been teaching…this is my 17th or 18th? year. 18th year. This is hell. It’s not sustainable. I’m losing my mind. It’s OK…I’ll find it again once I get a handle on the shit that is the next few weeks, and hopefully camping where there is no internet will help. Or I will grind my teeth the whole time, worried about what I’m not getting done. I’ll try not to do that. But being on the verge of tears from feeling overwhelmed? It’s getting old.

I took a break (worked from 6:45 AM to 6 PM yesterday, right through lunch…wait, no, I took a 15-minute break) on a Zoom with friends, and I quilted while they/we talked politics (I’ve got some feelings about that right now, y’all). That was two hours. No, less than two hours, because I worked past the start time and then looked at the clock and went SHIT. Then I ate dinner and tried to find the energy to do anything else. Nope. Didn’t happen. Went to bed an hour earlier than I have been and managed to sleep, although I dreamed about going to the doctor’s for a routine something or other that turned bad, and then the alarm went off, so at least I don’t know what I have and don’t have to worry about that as well. I’m up now and ready to work until after school, when I’ll have a short break to check in with friends (goal? no crying) and then back to work. Not sure I’ll be able to keep Saturday free from work. I suspect not. Oh well. This fucking sucks. I already said that.

I’ve been quilting an hour or more a night. This cytokine storm looks like it’s smiling…

Rude.

Both heads are quilted…oh wait, there are three heads…they’re all quilted…somehow I went around and quilted everything on the edges and I still need to do the center torso. Not how I usually roll, but it made sense at the time.

Probably another hour or so of outline quilting left (I already did everything you can see there…that was last night), and then quilt the background.

The back side is looking pretty damn good for once. I usually like a really busy backing so you can’t see my mistakes, but this is fine. I think. I’m not obsessed with the back sides…they’re not the point.

So finish quilting, go buy binding tomorrow, get binding on early next week, sew it up, deliver it to photographer next week? Hopefully? Ship it off to the wonderful person who is buying it. That was easy. OMG, it hasn’t been easy, and WTF am I doing next? I don’t know, but I need to decide soon because I don’t want any down time between quilts. I don’t want to let this job roll into any more of my personal life than it already has. I need the artmaking to (it doesn’t even fucking balance it right now so don’t even say it) keep me from jumping off the deck and breaking my ankles so I can move even less than I already do? Getting in the car and driving east (well, I can’t drive west), wait, no north, but fires, dammit, I can’t even DRIVE anywhere to get away from all this shit. Sigh.

Here’s the website I’m making. Finding that picture for the background made me laugh hysterically (no, really, tears from eyes because shit’s so stupid right now).

I hope you get it. If not, sigh. Whatever. My kids won’t get it. Well, two of them will. ANYWAY. Fuck today (at least it’s Friday, so I’ll be working tomorrow, but I won’t have students slowing my roll). Fuck this weekend. Fuck this job. Fuck COVID. Fuck a government that handled this So Fucking Badly. Fuck all of you who won’t social distance and wear masks.

Deep breath. I might feel better if I yelled all that off my deck, but probably my neighbors wouldn’t appreciate it. Wait, the neighbors with the screaming children and the multiple parties? Not sure I care. Happy Friday all. Gotta go get ready for school with all the stuff I forgot to do last night that needs to be done before school actually starts. Uh huh.

Find Some Zen…

Grrr Wednesday. Grrrr. I’m growling at you like Simba growls under his breath at something that is now gone but is still irritating him. I guess I’m growling at Tuesday then, aren’t I. Huh. Well Tuesday was complicated in my brain. Some sense of the vast expanse of time I will be doing this online teaching thing, stuck in my house, fighting technology, not able to see students, not able to do anything hands on, everything a million times more complicated than it used to be. Barely talking to anyone but the 174 kids who I see every day or every few days or three days a week for a really long time (90 minutes is a long time when you’re trying to get a kid on the correct screen…you just want to reach through and push him/her where they need to be), and I don’t even really SEE them, just the top three inches of their heads. Massive sigh. Don’t count months. Just try not to think about how long this is.

My school admin is getting a taco truck for the at-school teachers on Friday. Sure, I could send the boychild (who says I should stop calling him that, because everything thinks he’s like 12…he’s a man. He’s been a man for a while. Manchild sounds weird. He doesn’t want me to use his name. Honestly he’d be overjoyed if I never ever mentioned him again. So boychild it is.) to pick up a plate shoved through the fence by my coworkers, but it’s not the tacos…it’s the hanging out and socializing and getting some appreciation from admin for your hard work (I’m pretty sure my admin is just tired of me bitching about things that should have been done/fixed/handled…I know I’m tired of it. But when parents complain…sigh.). Whatever. Get up. Do the thing. Teach the stuffs. Grade the crap. Read the thousand emails. Delete most of them. Go to bed. Repeat.

It’s not really my roll.

So I’m still off, sad, overwhelmed, not feeling it today. We’ll see how it plays out. I usually do better when I’m dealing with actual children in front of me, even when they are tiny black rectangles with their names on them. Or not.

I did start quilting the other night. Not a lot. I’m so tired at the end of the day.

Mondays are long because we see all the kids…more transitions. Tuesdays and Wednesdays I have a long prep period, and I desperately try to concentrate and get everything done, but then I end up doing hours of work before and after school as well.

So I’m getting a little over an hour of quilting done each night at the moment.

It’s not much. But it’s something. It’s slow sometimes. It’s better than nothing. It’s meditative. I just sit and move the quilt and it’s good except it’s more sitting so then I get antsy and have to get up and walk around. Ugh.

Teaching art…how to line. This photo is so blurry…it should be how to photograph.

Nova likes to lie on the sketchbook. Desperately ordering materials for my art students, hoping they will come pick them up if I pack them all up. That’ll be Sunday. With all the school shit I do on the weekends, it feels like I shouldn’t leave and do anything else, but I have two weekends planned. I know I need them, but I’m also stressing like crazy about making sure everything is done before I go because there won’t be internet at one of them at all. It’s easier to last-minute wing science class in person than it is online.

Kitten is staring at a gecko. Can you see it?

It’s fascinating.

I have this walk I do and they are developing this huge tract of land that used to be a chicken farm. It’s been a permitting fight for years, but they finally put this lovely thing up.

I guess if you live near there and don’t want the construction noise and dust, this is a plus, but there’s no parking all the way along it, so getting to the local park is a long walk at the moment. Sad to look at as well. Cookie cutter houses going in, I’m sure. Oh well. They start at $900K too, so very affordable. Yup. Getting right in there.

I am just a ball of cheer this morning. This makes me happy…here’s the girlchild (also an adult)…

In Maine. Beautiful.

OK. I’m just going to do today and know that hopefully the science stuff is cool (I think it is, but I’m the teacher) and sit through a union meeting after school and hopefully (yes, definitely) quilt tonight. Some more. And find some zen with this existence. Somehow.

Remember That One…

Hmmm. Yesterday was effective, but it didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I finished a lot of things and got a lot done (it’s never enough), but I didn’t stop the schoolwork early enough. If I don’t stop early enough (which is a different time every day), then I don’t have the mental energy to go do whatever it is that I need/want to do for art. For whatever reason, when I got done with enough of the school tasks that I could have switched over, there was nothing left, so I kept doing school stuff. Until midnight. I guess the plus is that I finished more than I had planned, so maybe tonight I can quit earlier and quilt instead? Who knows. Those of us in education know that the work just expands to fill the time. I started looking at the next two weeks of curriculum, which are awkward and the timing doesn’t look like it works, but I will be gone camping in the middle, so I’ll have to get the next week planned before I leave, which I haven’t been able to do so far. So that should be interesting. Plus getting project supplies to 70 kids who are NOT on campus. Also interesting. It would be OK if life were a little less interesting in that aspect for a while…the How Do We Get School Shit Done aspect. I would like life to be more interesting in the Relaxation and Artmaking aspects. Making requests here.

I did manage to buy thread, although it was a crapshoot on color…

I think the greener one is way too green. I usually use Sulky, not Gutermann, but it’ll do, I think. JoAnns (hell store) was chock FULL of people. Halloween? There were men in there, lots of them. This is not usually a thing. So that’s the one art thing I got done yesterday, except for some online stuff that needed to happen. Tonight! Tonight I quilt. Seriously. I need to quilt. I have a bit of a deadline here.

First though, first work. All day Zoom with all my classes. I changed a bunch of stuff last night, so it’ll be traumatic for some kids. It’s OK…they’ll adapt. I need to find some art pencils in the house, though. I’m so used to ink that pencil feels weird. The art teacher I’m working with prefers it, and I understand why. I’m such a crotchety artist…I guess the real key is that I don’t really want to be teaching art…I just want to make it. There’s a long haul though, a long stretch of doing this. I keep looking to December, because that’s when they’re letting parents decide again, putting out another survey (in the middle of flu season), but really, I’m teaching these two classes of art until next school year, at least. Nothing changes in December except maybe the kids I have.

Switching gears…we hear coyotes all the time. We find evidence they’re around. We occasionally see one at night on the property. This was at 5 PM, broad daylight…

Between our house and the neighbors. Screaming children at the house below me (this is above me). I went out to spray it with water (harass it so it will stay away). We saw a larger one on the slope at 7 AM a few weeks ago, so they’re definitely close by. It’s baby season, so I don’t want them deciding my property is a safe baby space. We do go out with the little dog all the time.

OK, Monday, let’s do this. I need to write a rubric for today’s assignment (yes, today’s…I tried to do it last night and flailed). I need to figure out WTF I’m teaching all day. I need to do my laundry. These are all things I can do. And tonight, I need to quilt. Remember that one.

Clear My Brain

I do write to clear my brain. Otherwise the words pile up in there and cause havoc. It’s currently 10:20 PM on a Saturday night. I have words in my head and I’d like them out.

We hiked almost 7 miles this morning, and then I did some schoolwork, stitched down the rest of the quilt top, and sandwiched and pinbasted it. It’s been a busy day. There are piles of fabric in the girlchild’s room, and I happened to find something the right size and shape (a rectangle, by the way) for the backing.

I’d already checked for batting. Check!

I did a significant part of the stitch down on Friday night, but I knew we were getting up early to hike, so I quit.

In retrospect, I would have been up for another hour and a half if I’d kept going last night. It was easy enough to finish this afternoon.

Pinbasted in no time.

It’s what we do on a Saturday night. It’s good…it means I can quilt a bit every night this week. I do need to do some thread shopping tomorrow though.

Friday night, we gamed, and I graded some and stitched some.

The cat is no help while grading. Actually, this was my setup for science and art on Friday. Cleanup still happening for demo the day before, art ready to go, rocks in place.

This morning, we hiked Los Penasquitos Canyon, starting at the Mercy/Black Mountain end.

There were quite a few people…

It was much cooler than it has been, much cooler than it will be this week.

It’s mostly flat.

The man is training for the PCT, which will be mostly not flat.

I, however, am training for nothing.

Except regular exercise.

I had to put my phone in my bra for a bit because people don’t understand how to share the trail and there was some chance I’d fall into the water and I wanted my phone as high up on my body as possible.

I didn’t. Fall in, that is.

Anyway, stupid people on trails. What can you do?

Avoid them. The man getting his zen on.

We actually passed a half naked guy (young) meditating with a pointy zen hat on.

So there’s that. Rocks, sand, poison oak, and a baby rattlesnake.

No real rattles yet. The man moved him off the trail.

Good thing because the next group coming along had two small children.

Strange pods…

Pro: We were done by noon. Con: I’m exhausted right now.

This is a pretty suburban trail, right between two rows of houses. In two weeks, we go camping…and two weeks after, we’ll be near Joshua Tree, although I have an art thing to do, so mostly the man will hike and I will not.

I do enjoy hiking. There are limited numbers of hours in the day, though…so tomorrow holds a few hours of work in it. So I’m ready for the week.

This week is already full of meetings.

And hopefully quilting…

I so want to be a cat. I’d be less tired, I think. Hard to say. Interesting to clear one’s brain right before bed. Hopefully it will help with my current tendency to have weird-ass, scary dreams. Because that’s been the last two nights, and I’m kind of done.

Oh yeah, Fire and Water got into Quilt National. That’s cool.

It was the throwaway quilt. You pay the same for 2 or 3 entries. I needed a third. I figured the big one would get in, if anything. It didn’t. This one did. It’s a quilt that was made for another show and didn’t get in. So was the last Quilt National Entry. It’s weird…I get in every OTHER year. 2013. 2017. 2021. Freaky. OK, consider sleep. And whatever is sneakily walking out on the slope. And making more art.