Settle Down, It’ll All Be Clear*

January 17, 2017

I love how I always feel guilty the first work morning after a 3-day weekend where I’ve completely blown off school…OK, not completely, because I was AT school yesterday trying to get organized. I got sort of organized. But I didn’t take any science units home to grade. I didn’t even finish the warmups from last week, the easiest thing to grade. I wasn’t in the mood.

I was in the mood to iron, though. In fact, I wanted to be done yesterday, but that’s not happening. I have about a thousand pieces ironed down, which leaves about 350 or so pieces to go. That’s about 3-4 hours, plus then ironing it down to a background. So it’s gonna be a couple of days before I finish. If I’m lucky.

Honestly I didn’t start yesterday until after 8:30 PM…again, too many things to do. And it doesn’t look like I got much done…I ironed this to go on the skull…


And then put it on the skull. I also added another scapula piece underneath the right side of the ribs, because it looked weird before without it.


Those little figures took a good long while to put together…lots of overlaps.


And then the rest of the lower torso, minus the zippered part.


I stopped there because it was after midnight. Tonight, I’ll have to figure out how to attach the skeleton to this…and decide if I’m adding the stove now or later. Probably later…this thing will get pretty unwieldy and heavy if I have the whole ironed-together piece hanging off the ironing board.

I realized the boychild was leaving soon (my yard/house helper). I’d already had him help me with the Christmas stuff, putting it away, but we still had one more rain barrel to install. As he said, unless I wanted it to sit there for six months. There’s too many things around the house that take two people to do. So even though it was getting dark, we went out there with the dogs and installed it (it was easier than the first one)…


Simba was happy to play in the succulents. No, I don’t know what’s on his face, but it didn’t come off easily.


At least that is done. It’s the only yard thing I really accomplished over break.

So for 1 year of stitches, I did the one word (there are more to come) in stem stitch but didn’t love it.


I don’t tear stuff out. I went back and whipped it, whipped it good. It looks much better.


Remember that for lettering…it’s better as a whipped stem stitch. Just holds together better. Now you can guess what the rest of the words might be. This might be a test of how well you know me.

OK, lots of work and art to be happening in the next week. Lots of time sucks as well. And if you’re in San Diego, maybe you got that breaking news alert: 6 straight days of rain! Oh my. After living in the UK for a year (300 straight days of rain!), I am amused. Although honestly, everything is so saturated, it’s mostly going to be runoff…into my rain barrels! I probably need 10 or 12 more to catch all of it…seriously, it looks like 3-4 inches, which sometimes is our annual rainfall.

Anyway. I have that to look forward to…but today? Sunny and pleasant. Enjoying that while I can. Not really, since I’m in a classroom all day. I love that finding a balance between my personal life and my job is like a protest. Something to keep in mind.

*Phillip Phillips, Home

‘Cause She’s Gone, Gone, Gone, Gone, Gone…*

January 16, 2017

I didn’t start ironing until late…after 8 PM. But I still did almost 4 hours last night…they were almost 4 very slow hours, though…lots of small fussy pieces. I started with this crazy peach/hand tree…


It’s hard to see the hands because the teflon sheet I’m ironing on is white…the background will be a darker blue, though, so it will be clear.

Puppies who will miss all the kids around…


And then I started on the skeleton…more tiny fussy pieces. Again, this will be on a darker background…


The skeleton took a good long time to put together. It also has about 150 pieces in it.


I accidentally touched the side of the iron…more than once, actually. This is the worst of the burns.


Whoops. You should see my scissors callous.

Now looking at this picture, I think the right side needs a scapula…just a little bit of it under her armpit. Damn. OK. I’ll figure that out later today. I have to go to school and feed a cat and do a bunch of other shit.


Then I can add a scapula.

I didn’t do yesterday’s one stitch until this morning while I was waiting for the cheese to melt. It’s the stars at the bottom. I had to move the hoop again. I’m going to need to find my spring hoops. They’re in the house somewhere.


Worst part about yesterday was taking girlchild to the airport. That is her luggage at the top of the stairs. I thought she was following me, but she went back inside to hug the dogs again.


These guys. Who miss her too.


Can’t think too much about the part where I’m living alone again. At least I’ll know where the scissors are. And who got that dish dirty. The rest of it just sucks.

*John Mayer, Dreaming with a Broken Heart

Don’t Matter What I Do*

January 15, 2017

I’m sitting here in my office/studio watching leaves drop from the trees outside my window. I think they’re Ash trees, maybe Green Ash. It doesn’t really matter, though. They are still dropping leaves for fall or winter, yet there are new buds and leaves popping out all over. My previous neighbor thought they were dead every winter, but they are in fact deciduous. And today they are confused. Southern California weather does that to trees. Any water and the slightest bit of sun and warmth and new growth pops out everywhere. And then we’re back to 40 degrees at night and they’re confuzzled.

I suspect I will have to leave before I finish writing this, and in fact, I might not finish until this afternoon. It’s a busy day in the car. I have to drop the girlchild at the airport…she’s going back to school. Then visit a cat left home by himself. I should probably feed and pet him as well. Then lunch out to discuss a show I’m working on with other people. (Do I have a drawing for that yet? No I do not. It is third in line.) Then groceries and I don’t know what. I have a list of things I need the boychild to help me with before he leaves, so I don’t have to be the lifter on everything. Plus grades. Plus ironing.

Yesterday though I think I did mostly ironing. Over 7 hours of it, to be specific. It was nice…my mood’s been low, so it was good to let art brain have time to just do its thing. It’s meditation. It’s calming. It’s productive. These are all good things.

So sometimes I trim pieces in other places, like Barnes and Noble’s Starbucks or people’s houses or cars. These two pieces were in a house and were delivered to me Friday…good thing, because I’ll need them today probably.


Kitten is eyeing the pieces. She likes to try to sneak over and sit on them, and then the little ones get caught in her butt fur and I lose them that way. She mostly listens when I tell her not to do that, but if I’m leaving them for more than about 5 minutes, I always cover them with the other boxes of pieces. Sometimes she sits in those too, though, so it’s kind of a crapshoot whether I’ll find all the pieces I originally had.


The whole bottom third of the quilt (or so) is a stove. I was going to write that I’d never put a stove in a quilt before, but that’s not true. It’s been a long time though. No Domestic Tranquility from 2004…


That was a much simpler stove…


Most of my quilts were much simpler in those days. I’m not sure what that green thing on the right side is. Maybe it’s corn? Who knows.

So I put a death angel from a gravestone in my stove door…like you do. I’m sure it has a better name than that…in fact, I looked it up at one point, but maybe it was winged skull. That’s pretty descriptive. Anyway. If anyone completely ignores my non-burial instructions, maybe I’ll get one of those (I’d really rather not be buried personally…waste of good land).


My stove has feminist slogans on it. Doesn’t yours? They’re subtle, but they’ll be less so when I outline everything in a dark thread.


Then I took a break and went to an art event that was supposed to be focused on women (and it mostly was)…a mural by Panca.


I watched her paint for a bit, but I think she was mostly done at this point. There were three other muralists painting, but two were men (so much for the Femme Fest part of it…although who knows). These two were already done, either earlier in the day or at a previous event.


The yard was pretty muddy…but I like watching street artists paint anyway.

I came back to this. No, it’s not on.


But it was soon after…


I took a break in the middle to do my one stitch of the day, which was the yellow of the herringbone and the french knots in the blue flowers. I do it more by the length of thread…finish it.


So I guess I’m really doing one thread a day.

Then I went back to ironing…


Stove tops…are a little more complicated.


I did over 7 hours of ironing yesterday…


I’ll be lucky to get 3 or 4 hours in today unfortunately. Oh well. It’s a good start. You can see the cat-shaped space in there. It was easier to iron it separately and then put it on top as a whole piece.


So there’s the stove top done. I have one more side of it…


Which I didn’t start last night because it was already 1 AM and I knew I had to get up to drive the girlchild to the airport. I got into the 500s though. So that was good for one day. I’d really like the whole thing ironed by the end of the long weekend, but I don’t know if I can pull that off. We’ll see.

And the girlchild’s plane just took off. So there we are.

*The Style Council, Long Hot Summer

You Scream You Learn*

January 13, 2017

Oh holy heck this is a morning. Rained hard most of the night, disturbing my sleep. I know some people find that noise helps them sleep, that drip drip drip pounding away of water above my head. I wasn’t put on this Earth to sleep apparently. And we need the rain. Even though it seems our annual rainfall is all happening in one week. We haven’t hit our average annual rainfall yet, nowhere close. Not even as much as last year. But day after day of drippy wet feet and spotted glasses and damp clothes starts to wear on a Southern Californian. Or as every teacher recognizes, the squeaky tennis shoes on the linoleum floor…oh, well, only the science teachers at my school, because the other classes have carpet. So yeah. I will write a referral if you are purposely doing that screech with your shoe on my floor…you don’t deserve to stay here if you are that guy (it is always a guy. Seriously.).

Yeah, I’m tired. First week always kicks ass. And my co-teacher is still on her honeymoon, so that makes it harder…although I’ve apparently survived it. Hopefully she’ll come back. And then both kids are leaving in the next week. Which makes me sad, but some things will be good…fewer dishes. Holy crap, the dishes are kicking my butt…and yes, they help, well, mostly…but it’s still more work. And there’s some drama I could do without. Because I don’t get enough of that at school. Really. I had to have a real-life discussion with a relatively high-level student about why it’s not OK to copy other people’s words. Why it’s important to engage your own brain with the material. “Why do they put it on the internet if they don’t want people to copy it?” Not a bad question, but you have to wonder how she got to age 12 and doesn’t have a better idea of copyright. Because yes, I teach science…but I also teach behavior and grammar and spelling and copyright and politics and history and compromise and how to get along with other people without being dickheads all the time. This week has been a lot of the latter.

There’s a 3-day weekend ahead though. It’s not an ideal 3-day weekend for a variety of reasons. Emotional. Sure. And a little too busy. But doable.

And most importantly, I’m finally on to the next stage of the quilt…I finished cutting pretty damn quickly, only another 30 minutes. So that’s what 19 hours of cutting pieces out looks like…


Not much, honestly.

I hold on to the trash until I know I have all the pieces, because if I’m going to lose a piece, it’s usually a tiny one, and sometimes I can cut it out of the trash pieces.

Then I sorted…it was not an easy thing to do after standing all day. I sort by 100s. It’s easier to deal with 100 pieces at a time rather than 1300.


An hour and 38 minutes later (ugh)…there they all are…


Ready to be ironed together into a quilt…probably will take about 20 hours for that. Although it took a lot longer to cut them out than I thought it would. So we’ll see. There’s a lot of little pieces, apparently.

I had both cats with me…


Kitten is trying to simultaneously sleep and watch me. It didn’t work. She slept. When the dogs are gone, I do get both cats. With the dogs, Kitten is less likely to venture out, unfortunately. I try to give her safe spaces on the couch and the desk, so sometimes that works…

I did my year of stitches thing while on the phone with my SIL…outlining with stem stitch (which is a pain around curves) around that blob of flowery things.


I haven’t been able to keep up the daily meditation…I often remember just as I’m about to fall asleep. Last night, I did remember, and I turned it on and fell asleep until the very end. That should tell me something, I guess. Hopefully my unconscious brain was doing a good job.

I need to go to school. I’d like some sun tomorrow. Or at least sometime this weekend. I’d like some peace and quiet. I’d like some conversation with my kids before they leave. I’d like to get some clean up dealt with. I’d like to get this quilt ironed together. I think that’s enough for one 3-day weekend.

*Alanis Morissette, You Learn

Leave Me Be*

January 12, 2017

First week back, brain is mush, too much work, feeling overwhelmed, exhausted on top of it. I don’t sleep through the night most of the time. Last night, I suspect I would have if there hadn’t been puppy barks and late-night teen entry…I was exhausted enough. I went to bed early…well “early” because many of you are not night owls and manage to be in bed by 9 PM, which is when my art brain perks up and starts yelling. Falling asleep is not my superpower; neither is staying there. I have to be at work early today for a meeting, so I have to LEAVE early, which means leaving even earlier to account for the crazy elementary school parents I have to avoid on the way to school, plus the high-school traffic. It’s actually more efficient to leave later.

I just realized tonight is the full moon, which could partially explain everything at school.

So my brain is so fizzled at the moment that I thought I had a union meeting yesterday after school (to my credit, it’s always the second Wednesday of the month, so it wasn’t impossible that we might have one, but apparently they gave us this month off and I didn’t fix my calendar)…and was quite relieved NOT to have one, but came home to stress and cranky (none of it mine). I didn’t cook, but the cleanup on dinner was significant. Which I did do. Dishes dishes everywhere.

Although it seems someone will miss someone when someone leaves (you fill in the names as needed, because it is obviously going to affect both of them)…


I kept on keeping on…with a different animal companion…


I’m almost 19 hours into the cutting, and dammit, if I could have stayed up another hour, I would have been done. All I have left is big stove pieces. I wanted to finish, but had to be a responsible adult, dammit.


Another hour? Maybe? I have a scissors callous on my right index finger and my hand is stiff this morning. But hopefully tonight I will finish cutting and sort these assholes so I can start ironing. Because it’s about time.

This is not a small quilt. It is not a simple quilt. It could be worse.

My one stitch for today…the spiderweb rose or I can’t remember what the book called it, woven something? And some french knots and seed stitches to use up the last bit of the bright pink thread.


Ugh. Tired. We knew I would be tired by the end of this week, so we designed instruction to get kids to a more independent place by today. We’ve taught you a bunch of stuff, showed you some stuff, told you some stuff, had you read some stuff…now you need to go figure some stuff out on your own and explain it to us.

Let my teacher brain rest a bit (as much as it ever does).

*Sara Bareilles, Gravity

And We’ll All Float on OK*

January 11, 2017

You know, sometimes progress doesn’t look like anything. I have almost 16 hours into the cutting out of tiny little pieces, and there’s more to go, and I told you I couldn’t predict how many more, because as I go through the pile of pieces in there, I’m never really sure if the piece of fabric below the one I’m currently picking up will have three huge pieces on it (easy to cut, nice and quick) or be the one with all the finger bones (not easy, pain in the ass, gonna take me an entire episode of Supernatural, if I’m lucky).

I cut for over 3 hours again last night. I’m not bringing school work home at the moment. I will eventually. But not until I get these cut out. So if you look at yesterday’s pile of stuff left to cut out and today’s pile of stuff left to cut out, you might feel as discouraged as I did, because I was sure I was getting closer…


Except at least two of those pieces of fabric on top are full of tiny fucking finger bones. Or rib bones. Or whatever that’s tiny and curvy and time-fucking-consuming. My hand hurt last night. It’s stiff this morning. Am I closer? Sure. Do I think I’ll finish tonight?

I don’t think I’ll EVER FINISH. OK. That’s silly. Of course I’ll finish. Some day. Probably not today. And it amuses me that this is what one of my quilts looks like at this stage…a pile of never-ending strangely shaped pieces.

Another day in 1 Year of Stitches…I finally Googled it and wrote it on a post-it note and attached it to the computer so I can remember the correct wording. Until the cat takes off with it.


Yesterday was a curvy line of Palestrina knots, which used to scare the crap out of me, but are really very easy to do. Don’t get me wrong…I still stare at an instruction book while doing them.

You saw my cover page yesterday for the new unit. I do apparently occasionally inspire kids to do their own thing…here’s one of my student’s covers for the last unit (which I’m currently grading, because it’s the one assignment I blew off grading during break).


That’s a lot of bubbles. Must be a chemical change.

If you’re on Instagram or Facebook with me, you’ve already seen this part of my Christmas gifts…a little late, but blame the post office. I do wear boots to school quite often, so I really can wear them to school…


(I’m wearing a pair now…they’re kinda inspirational.)

Last night was chilly and the dogs were at the other house, so Kitten ventured out and sat right next to me on the couch. This is a strange thing. She does not do it often.


So it’s sweet when she does.

*Modest Mouse, Float On

I Have the Technology

January 10, 2017

The first day back, trying to balance food and bathroom breaks and kids who have been free to do whatever they want for three weeks, and now I want them to sit and do work for a whole 45 minutes. Today it will be 51 minutes and we’ll see how they do. We jumped right into the new unit…but I have three new students today. Sigh.

I do love drawing a new cover page though…and then hiding it so the kids won’t copy it (they still try…”Can you put it up on the screen? I just need ideas.” Use your brain sweetheart. It has lots of ideas.).


I have to actually research stuff for this unit. I’m a little shaky on energy resources, having never taught it or officially learned it in school. Plus it’s changed a bit since the 70s. So I’ve been reading up…watching videos. Hoping I understand what’s supposed to happen in the labs and, more importantly, why.

I came home relatively early (quick staff meeting, hallelujah) and started trying to straighten up…putting away all the wrapping paper and accoutrement, breaking down all the boxes that came in during the last few weeks, putting stuff away…then I found another rug. My grandfather used to (he’s dead now) crochet rugs out of mattress ticking. They last forever and are washable. Case in point, the one on the left has been in my kitchen forever…and my grandfather died while I was pregnant with my now 21-year-old son. The puppy decided to pull on bits and pieces, though, so now it is holey. I found the one on the right in the closet (don’t even know where it came from)…but I don’t like the color. I realize most of you probably think it works fine with the kitchen (and it does), but I thought about dying it…unfortunately, it’s gotta be mostly polyester, so I’d have to buy dyes I think.


Like I have time to dye a rug.

Next day of 1 Year in Stitches…I think I change the name every time I post about it. Fly stitches and french knots added to the lazy daisies…are they called that when the anchor stitch is long? Who knows. I just pulled a thread out of the basket and sewed with it until it ran out. That’s all I ever do.


It needs more colors.

I cut for about a million hours yesterday…OK, for about 4 1/2 hours. I didn’t bring any schoolwork home. I just did some cleaning and then cut for a while and then made dinner and cut for an even longer while. My hand was sore last night, but not so much today. That’s good. This is about 12 1/2 hours of cutting total. As you can see, there’s still stuff in the to-be-cut pile…but I’m down to stove parts. I finished all the body parts.


I wish I could say I knew how many hours are left, but I haven’t got a clue. At least 2 or 3, probably more. And today will be a long day, with tutorial after school. Tomorrow is the union meeting. I’ll be dead tired by the weekend. But hopefully done with cutting, then sorting, and on to ironing. I want to have the majority of the 3-day weekend for that. Progress. I’m feeling stressed about deadlines. Only one way to deal with that, and it’s to get some work done. I have to use time wisely, just like at school. I honestly think I’m more efficient about getting art done when I’m in session, because I don’t have a choice. It didn’t used to be that way, but it is now.

I also need to make a pussy hat this weekend…I’m not knitting. I know how, but it takes too much time that I don’t have, so fleece it is. I wanted to make a banner (or 7) like Stephanie Syjuco is showing on Instagram (@ssyjuco on IG), but I don’t really have time for that either. Patterns are here. You can find her on Facebook as well. She’s an artist and professor, but these banners are freakin’ awesome. Maybe I will bang one out this weekend. I certainly have the technology to do so.