Three Pies…

Hope y’all have a good food day, whatever it looks like. Ours has three pies. I’m sure there are other things, certainly because I have some things I need to cook later today that AREN’T pie, but right now, all the kitchen is pie. Which is why I’m in here, because the other choice is at the work computer, grading those essays. I got through 29 of them yesterday before my brain completely shut down. There are 30 to go. I’ll get there. I promise. I have a schedule. I’m trying to stay on top of it.

The family is dealing with some major health stuff right now; it’s stressful for all and making it hard to concentrate on anything except pie construction and maybe reading a book (I say that, but I didn’t read much yesterday except kids trying to explain plate motion…remind me never to use this CER topic again…it sucked the first time around, and it still sucks the second time around.). But we will attempt to perform a Thanksgiving Day ritual because that is what we do on Thanksgiving. Peace to all of you and pie. There’s plenty of pie.

Standing and grading, so I can walk away in between every 4 or 5 essays.

In between trying to organize fabric, water plants, and grade shit, I have been steadily working on the current quilt. It’s the place I go at the end of the day. It’s mostly predictable, at least at this stage, and that’s a good place to be at the moment.

Apparently it’s a good place for Kitten to be as well.

She enjoys mommy time on the couch. She will also enjoy mommy time in the studio when I start ironing.

I finished watching the second season of The Bridge, and am now on the second season of Top of the Lake. Apparently murder mysteries and troubled cops are my thing right now.

Geez, my cat. She looks happy though. Yeah, no Hallmark happy Thanksgiving family romances for me. It’s all about dead bodies and kidnapping and sex trafficking. I can’t explain it. I stayed up too late (but it’s not a school night, so there) finishing the trimming…

That’s almost 8 hours of trimming there. It’ll take an hour or so to sort them, and another hour or so to clean my studio, because it’s a disaster. I went to Target yesterday and bought organizers for some of the fabric that’s accumulated, but am debating packing up the crazy quilt stuff more than it is? I don’t know. I still use it; I don’t want to get rid of it. I really just need a remodel of this space so it’s more useful. Not happening any time soon. It’s absolute chaos at the moment though. I should do something about that.

I sat on the couch for about 45 minutes last night and let this kitty knead my belly and the air and purr and it was OK to just do that.

Take the comfort and the kitty love wherever you can.

OK. I will check on the cooking/kitchen status and then go grade some shit. And eventually we’ll do the food thing. And hopefully things will get better on the other fronts. I want to draw but don’t know when or how that will happen. It is a beautiful day out: the chill of a Southern California autumn day with the smell of pie. Did I mention pie? Crows zooming around and squawking. A good book on the Kindle app. A reason to wear sweats and soft socks. Maybe it’s time for cider (but if I open it, I can’t fit the bottle in the fridge. Nix that for now). Peace to all.

Put That on the Calendar…

Whoa Nellie. Or is it Nelly? I hate how vacation weeks go so fast. Tuesday is almost over. I’m close to the halfway point, where I officially start to panic that I have nothing done. I may already be panicking. I may have never stopped panicking. Hard to say. I know I did no schoolwork until Sunday night. I know! Almost 48 hours without schoolwork! It was amazing. Not really. There’s been other stressful things going on that sucked up my brain and spat it out. But Sunday night, I realized I needed to get my act in gear in order to reach my goal of having everything that is possible to be done…DONE…by the time we start school again on the 30th. So I started grading. I did two assignments Sunday night, then three yesterday. I’m a third of the way through number 6 today so far, and when I’m done writing this, I’ll go finish that one. It’s one of the hard, thinky ones. I have one more of those to do for three classes, and then two hard, thinky, ARTY ones (this does not make it easier, let me tell you, I hate grading art assignments, IDK whether I’m being mean or too easy or WTF is going on) after that. Then some minor stuff and 17 thousand late assignments handed in by kids because I emailed their parents and told them they’d done NOTHING for weeks (my own fault. I should have kept my mouth shut and let them live with it, but no, I was a responsible teacher and tattled on them). Those will hurt. But OK. I’ll do it. Then planning is almost done for science for next week and (shhh, don’t tell anyone) not even started for art. Fuck me. I need an assist on that one. IT’S OK. I’LL FIGURE IT OUT.

So there we are. I’m working. My day job. That I currently am on vacation from. (From which that I am currently on vacation. Or something.) I have no choice. This is how we roll, 2020 school year, with a Fuck You here and a Fuck That there.

I have been dealing with Wonder Under. Sunday night, I finished tracing Wonder Under…

So technically, I think that’s 5 1/2 yards of Wonder Under. From what I can see. It took almost 17 hours to trace all that.

I was kinda slow. Oh well. Then I started cutting it out on Sunday night as well…

Kitten does not help. She just gets irritated that the boxes are in her way. Calli also does not help.

She wanted to be on the couch. Sometimes I let her, but Kitten was already there, so it just wasn’t going to go well. Monday night, she was on the other side.

I’ve only cut out a yard and a half, I think.

It doesn’t look like much.

More tonight. And the next night. And probably a few more nights. I need to clean the office/studio too, so when I’m ready to iron, I can. Because if I wait and try to do that once school is back in session, it won’t happen as quickly as I need it to.

The man and I are doing the Coast to Crest Challenge for 2020…we were going to do one of the longer hikes today, but we both needed to be in cell-phone range, so we chose the Lake Hodges section instead.

Neither of us had ever been here.

In general, this piece of the trail is pretty easy.

It would be really hot in summer though. There’s the dam…

And there were a lot of mountain bikers, which is annoying.

We only hiked about 4.5 miles…not bad for a Tuesday morning. Here’s the official photo so we can get the patch at the end of all this.

The man tested out his new hiking shirt. We both need better hiking hats. There was a cool telescope thing at the end. (Note, point it at the big yellow letters in the surrounding landscape.)

Not the most exciting hike in the world, but it was nice to be by water and see all the birds.

Three more to go. We will probably try to do another one on Friday? Maybe? Not sure.

Lots of work to do. School. Art: gonna finish trimming Wonder Under. Got some Thanksgiving cooking to do. Some yardwork. Housework. Cleaning. Fun stuff. I would like to do some drawing? I’ve got a few in my head. Put that on the calendar.

Just So Braindead…

Ah brain. You have had a day or so off. How do you feel? What do you mean you feel overwhelmed still (probably because I haven’t done anything school-related in two days)? What do you mean the eye twitch is still there (probably because the things that cause the eye twitch have not gone away or been managed)? And other personal stuff just popped up, so I’m sitting here and worrying instead of doing something. Although I did finally (after 6 months or so?) finish hemming all the fabric napkins I cut out in April or May to replace paper napkins in the house. I figured 8 sets of 2 would be OK for most of the time, with just 2 of us using them, but then the dog chewed up 1 pair (they smelled like tacos), so I was down 1, and so I had 3 sets left to sew and I did that in the last 24 hours. I might need another set, but I doubt it, because we’ve been surviving on 4 sets for a long time. But it’s not like there’s a shortage of fabric with which to make more if I need to.

Talk about brainless activity…hemming napkins is high on that list.

Friday, after work, I managed to drag the man out for a walk/hike before gaming.

It’s not a new hike. It’s one we do all the time…close to home but mostly people free.

It gets dark early these days, so we have to get out earlier.

Clouds were coming in and it got a little chilly.

And we definitely had dusk, plus a coyote crying out for a while. Three miles. Not bad.

We’re planning a longer one for Tuesday and maybe another on Friday. That may help with the eye twitch. And the grinding teeth. Did I mention those? Also grading and planning a bunch of shit will help, that’s for sure.

I traced some on Friday night and a bunch Saturday night. I’ve got about 200 pieces to go…

I’m hoping to get those done tonight, if I can get my head into it.

Almost done.

Had an art opening last night…on Zoom. With Luna assist. I was on the panel talking about my work…

Always interesting. The two pieces are at Sparks Gallery in downtown San Diego for a while (February) as part of a show with Allied Craftsmen. You can also see the whole show online at that link. I embroidered stuff I’m not allowed to show you during the opening. It’s Sue Spargo stuff that’s not released yet. By the time it’s released, I might be done with it.

You can see Calli and her ball here…

And Kitten is hogging the phone charger cord (I think it’s warm)…

I’m trying to get my head around things that are more complicated than hemming napkins. We’ll see how that goes. Hopefully everything else will chill out a bit this week (not so far, but a woman can dream)…

Here’s the three projects I have in progress for my two levels of art.

I think we’re almost done with stuffed animals. We’ve barely started the faces (the kids are allowed to do up to 2/3ds creatively, but 1/3 has to be realistic using the grid). The top one is the warmup…starting in pencil, then moving to pen and colored pencils. I might have to find my colored pencils at some point. By next Monday, I need a plan for the early finishers of stuffed animals and portraits, plus a digital project for the 6th graders for the last two weeks of December. I also need to finish posting all the stuff for science the week we come back. I got a chunk of it done Friday night, but not all of it. And then the grading begins.

OK, well tracing Wonder Under tonight. I’d like to finish those 200 or so pieces. Then I can maybe sit on the couch and binge watch something while cutting them all out. We’ll see. I’ll grade shit tomorrow. Plus yardwork. I haven’t even started that either. Just so braindead. Ugh. I want to draw too. There’s a few in my head. OK. There are threads of things to do…I just need to follow some of them. Pick the easiest one and just do it.

Renewed Sense…

The Friday before a week off is a difficult day. I’m looking forward to no Zooming. I have a ton of work to do, but that will happen when I want it to…still rolling my eyes at my boss who told me not to work for 9 days. Oh yeah, because if I do that, I’ll be totally prepared to teach coming back, right? And all the work will be graded, right? It won’t feel totally and completely overwhelming to come back on November 30 to the whole pile of shit I’m looking at right now? Sigh. So completely out of touch with reality. I would love to walk away from it for 9 days. Maybe some will, but I’m not willing to risk my December sanity for that level of crazy. Even in a normal year, I’d have to grade over Thanksgiving Break. So there’s that. My level of exhaustion is a little crazy at the moment too. I’m hoping some more sleep and reading of books and hiking will help with that? We’ll see. One week off, then three weeks on, then three weeks off. Please don’t make me think about 2021 yet. I think grades are due in December too, so blowing off grading makes even less sense.

I had a kid turn in 8 assignments last night (all late) within 5 minutes. So you know they’re blank. I had emailed parents earlier this week (bulk email for all the kids who hadn’t done anything), so I guess they’re paying attention. I emailed the kid this morning and gave her until the end of the day to unsubmit and do them for realz. Or I would email parents and let them know what she did. Unfortunately, most of these kids don’t read their email, so she won’t see it, and I don’t have her in class today…I might have her in Advisory, so I’ll say it then, in general, to everyone. In case someone else thinks that’s a solution. Certainly if I stopped contacting parents about their kids’ lack of work, I’d have more time to grade. I’m not sure at what point it’s OK to be a really shitty teacher because there isn’t time to be a really good one. That shit makes me cry. It’s not how I roll; this year, it just fucking sucks.

With that, I have a parent meeting in 26 minutes and I need to get more tea in me before then. iCloud is not syncing my photos to the computer after I upgraded my space, so I’m going to need to figure that out…so I have a few photos, but who the fuck knows where the rest of them are. I’ve been tracing Wonder Under every night, though, for sanity’s sake…

I’m currently on the fourth yard of Wonder Under, and on piece 711 of 1100-and-something. Not bad. I should finish in the next few days. And then start trimming the Wonder Under. Every night, I have to pull apart all the school stuff that lives on top of the light table (doc cam etc. for art) so I can do this, and then put it back after so I can teach the next day. It’s time consuming but always worth it.

The last two days have been vast expanses of working time, sitting or standing here. Nova surveys my view from behind the monitor…

We’re not allowed to update to Big Sur, so I don’t know if the picture changes. I’m assuming it does. Although I like Catalina.

After work yesterday, I had my monthly quilt group meeting on Zoom. I wanted to stand, because I’d been sitting all day, so I started stitching this thing down…

It’s not fancy, it’s not hard, it’s pretty mindless.

And it’s not done. No worries. It will get done eventually.

OK. Parent meeting, Zoom all day, completely exhausted and very little patience for kids who will do nothing. Hoping both teachers’ aides show up for science, because last Friday was a clusterfuck when they couldn’t. I don’t blame them, but certainly there are no subs, and today’s assignment will go better with some support. Gaming tonight…I might need a nap beforehand. I was going to try to walk before sitting some more, but I don’t know if I’ll have the energy. I certainly don’t right this minute. Looking forward to time off. To sleep. To lying down and walking around instead of sit sit sit. To a renewed brain…hoping for that a lot. A renewed sense of I can do it.

End Up in the Dark…

This week is strange. Normally, I’m feeding off kid energy, kids all hyper for a week off, kids complaining about having to do work. Oh wait, I got that yesterday. Why do I give so much WORK? Sigh. My OTHER teachers aren’t giving me work. I doubt that. We used to have free time on Fridays to get stuff done. That was before we went on this crazy schedule. Sigh. I guess all that is normal. The whining about it. But the ramping up to a week off, I don’t see the behaviors. I keep reminding them to get everything done before next week so they don’t have to do any of it over break. I’m going to have to work MY butt off over break, but hopefully will not be working nonstop like it feels right now.

I walked last night, even though it was late and I knew I’d end up in the dark.

I had my headlamp. I needed headspace. On the walk, I decided to make some new rules on regrading work. I just get buried in all the late work and kids wanting to fix stuff but then mostly doing a crap job of it. I have too many students and too much lesson planning right now. I can’t do it any more. It makes me feel like a shitty teacher for saying no more, but I am. I’ll do redos on the important academic assignments, but that’s it. That was after four emails from one kid to redo all the shit work he’s been doing. Nah. No thanks. I have to find a zen with all this; I can’t end every day in tears. I mean, I can, but I shouldn’t. So hello 2020, the year that makes all teachers feel like they’re doing a shitty job…thanks for the memories. Except we’re still in it, and I’m sure some other crazy shit is coming along besides the stupid training I have to sit through after school today to learn how to use YET ANOTHER program. This one replaces one we’ve been using for a few years that we never got trained to use. Their excuse for forcing us to train outside of contract hours is that they’re PAYING US. Wow. Keep the $35 and let me have the hour. Seriously. I need the time more than I need to know how to run a report. So tired of the disrespect. I’m not even showing the art where mom said the kid did fine (OMG REALLY) when I gave feedback on how to improve (start over, this time, follow instructions, as gently and kindly as I could, because yes, I fucking know they’re kids and this is hard shit).

Three more days. I need a break. But today, I’m on Zoom from 9 AM – 9 PM almost solid, because I dare to exercise and go to book club after work. Sigh.

You can see why I’m meditatively and obsessively tracing each night for at least an hour. I need the mindspace.

This has a lot of tiny pieces. Why? Because I obsessively drew a lot of things. I was in a mood. I’m OK with that mood. It occupies Art Brain and I get less frustrated.

It’s just lines, lots of lines.

Pouring my brain into that at the end of the day helps clear shit out so I can (mostly) sleep. The sleep of the exhausted. This morning, I feel like headachy mush. I’m sure that’s normal. I’ve only had a 1/3 of a cup of tea so far.

I picked up some quilts yesterday from a friend who helped out by picking up my work from a show, and she included these two small pieces (3×5? 4×6?) from a couple of shows where we all made these little pieces in boxes.

I’m going to take them out of the boxes and mount them somehow, probably stick them on Etsy. In my spare time, right? Maybe next week.

Nova watches the shadows of the hummingbirds on the carpet and bats at them.

I’m really tired and mentally exhausted this morning. I’m going to get through the day, grade as much as I can, sit through the training (while continuing to grade and/or plan), do my Zoom pilates and book club, and hopefully go straight into tracing again. Repeat. Reframe brain each morning, try to find the zen, or at least the acceptance to get past feeling overwhelmed and irritated and did I mention overwhelmed? Exhausted. More tea. Look forward to moving the body and talking about books. Not at the same time.

Meditative Rocks

I’m glad I have Wonder Under meditation for this week. What is Wonder Under meditation? It’s when I get to trace 1185 pieces from my drawing onto Wonder Under…numbering each piece…and deciding what bits go under and adding an extra 1/8″ to that side. Last night, it was dirt and rocks. About a hundred rocks. What part goes under? This part. Or that part. Can I worry or even think about school when I’m doing that? I probably COULD, but I don’t. All I think about it “I’m drawing Piece 17. I’m drawing Piece 17. Piece 17 is under Piece 18. Add a sliver to go under. I’m drawing Piece 18. I’m drawing Piece 18.”

Can’t argue with that. I traced Pieces 1-178 last night. It was good.

See all the rocks? Yeah. Me too.

It was way better than when I couldn’t fall asleep. And then after I fell asleep, when I got woken up and then couldn’t fall asleep again. I mean, everything is better than that, right? Well, maybe not. Being sick is worse and so are other things. Not sleeping is pretty low on the pole, but I even tried to go to bed early (aka before midnight) so I could start the week in as well-rested a frame of mind as I could. Party fail. I try.

I am hanging in there. I am surviving. I just don’t like it and I get frustrated and even more overwhelmed and think about quitting and working in a nursery (plants, not children) or becoming a park ranger (it’s not the first time in my life I’ve considered that) or maybe just something totally brainless, but safe, because of my COVID risk. Sigh. And then I get out of this chair and walk into the living room, where my makeshift office is (I need a bookshelf for school shit in there) and I log in and start grading shit or posting shit or writing 5-paragraph essays of feedback to 6th graders about how to improve their stuffed animal drawings. Why do people assume that if you like to make art that you will enjoy teaching it? I don’t. I mean, it could be worse…it could be history or math or english. It’s not science. I might feel the same way about science in a different grade level. Who knows.

Nova hangs out on the drawing…

So after I finish tracing each night, I have to put the light table back together (top on, all the school stuff on it) so I can teach the next day. Actually, for science, I don’t need it as much…for art, I need it every day, but I only teach art three days a week. It’s a pain, but it’s a pain that’s worth it. Having the doc cam helps teach that subject, for sure.

OK. Well, Monday, hopefully the health training I have later today will not suck. It didn’t look particularly helpful from the part I already reviewed, so if that’s the case, I’ll duck out. I don’t have the brain power for that right now. Otherwise, I’m on Zoom all day…and then some. Tonight, though, tonight I get to do Wonder Under meditation again. After I clean the girlchild’s room…she’s coming home for a week to see the family. We’re hosing her down with bleach or shining UV light into her orifices or something like that. Next week is a holiday week. Totally need that.

The Snarling Beast

Hey Sunday. I have a shitload of work to do today for the day job. I can’t get my head around it yet though. I did none of it yesterday. I try to do that one day a week. Not work. It’s about all I CAN do. It means Sundays seem overwhelming for work because there’s so freakin’ much planning to do for the week. I got a chunk done Friday night after gaming, but nowhere near all of it. First we need to grocery shop and pet food shop and I don’t remember what else. A nice friend is picking up my quilts from the show that’s closing, so I don’t have to lose 90 minutes to that trip today. So nice. So appreciated.

I lost my mind on Friday. School became a snarling beast and I did not deal well. I’m still irritated by all of it, the presumption of the district that teachers are available outside of contract hours for mandatory trainings. Oh but we PAY you! I don’t fucking care. It’s a whopping $35. I’d rather have the daylight time to exercise or just NOT stare at a computer for some period of time. But no. Plus both my aides called out on Friday, so the one science class I had was an absolute clusterfuck where I could help no one. So frustrating. There are days when if they were both gone, I could still do what I was going to do…this was not one of them. I mean, we did it, but it was not effective. At all. Just frustrating. Plus some other similarly frustrating stuff. That’s when I know I’m at the overwhelmed end of the stress spectrum. I just wanted to unplug everything and make a pillow fort. I cried all through lunch and then my 6th graders helped me find some presence of mind to teach. And the planning I’d done the Sunday before helped. There’s little to no support for teachers right now, y’all, and those of us who aren’t in school don’t even really get the mental support of teachers around you. It’s a Survivor Island situation that I apparently don’t do well with. My left eye has been twitching on and off for over a week. I don’t usually get eye twitch until almost Spring Break, often not until May. Not a good sign.

Luckily, there is just this week and then I have a week off. And then three weeks, with three weeks off. And please don’t make me think of anything beyond then because I might cry again.

I met with my former team, hopefully to be my team again someday, after work on Friday for socially distanced drinks. It helped. Maybe. Talking to humans helps. I don’t do enough of it. Zooming with students doesn’t count. Staff meetings and parent-teacher conferences don’t count. Sigh.

Friday night, we gamed and I graded through it. I worked on school stuff until after 10 PM, and then pulled the drawing out again.

I added more details in the ground area before succumbing to sleep. I had some Luna love first…

While working, of course. This was during gaming. She’s a sweetie. I’ve needed lots of kitty love in the last few days.

I had to get up earlier than I wanted on Saturday to go hiking. The man has a plan. He wants to do all 5 hikes of the Coast to Crest Challenge. So the plan was to do two on Saturday (um, so I was betting we would only do one…I was right.). This is the West Vista Loop of the Santa Ysabel Preserve.

It’s 4.4 miles. I actually did this hike in July with two friends, except we did the long version, starting at the Nature Center and going up behind it, then catching the loop, coming down, and picking up a trail that takes you back to the Nature Center. That one is 5.6 miles, and I’d recommend it over the climb that starts this lollipop loop version. I’m not a fan of straight up fire roads, and that’s how this starts and ends.

It’s still flat…mostly…here.

There are great views of the valley…

There were some clumps of other people out on the trail…

But mostly it was people free.

When we were done with the all up, it was nice to be out and hiking around. By then, my legs had stopped pretending to be jello. I’m just tired these days.

We took the official photo so we can get the patch and whatever else they give us. The man is better at smiling than I am.

Plenty of beautiful trees and rocks to be seen. Plus cows.

We did get a late start, though, and the thought of doing another 6.6 miles was not something the Man was ready to do (it’s OK…we have plenty of days on which to hike). So that’ll be the next one.

We stopped and got a frozen pie as my reward (there are few things that will get me through the next four weeks of school. Pie is one of them.) and then stopped for a burger and a drink outside at our regular stopping place.

I took a nap after all that. I was just exhausted by not sleeping at night during the week and last weekend’s short sleeps. And then I didn’t eat dinner. But I got up and finished the drawing by obsessively adding things all over the place.

It was making me happy to do that.

And since it’s my art, I get to do what I want.

Unlike the rest of my life right now.

Where I have no control. Yes, I dropped a COVID virion in there. Hid it in the ground. Can’t completely ignore that shit. I did tell a man “Fuck You” nice and loud in the pie place because he wouldn’t back off 6 feet, and told me to “just turn around” when I asked him to move back, so I called him a dumbass and told him that’s why we were in Purple Tier now (further lockdown as of yesterday). His girlfriend/wife/female companion was embarrassed and was whispering at him to be quiet. Fucking idiots in my country.

I’ve managed 8 hours of artmaking in the last 7 days, mostly in the last three days, I think. The previous week? One hour. Same with the week before it. Fuck me. It took 6 hours and 15 minutes to do the full-size drawing of this. The original drawing was another 2 or 3 hours last weekend, that I didn’t track. I started the numbering, assuming I’d go over 1000 pieces.

I’m OK with that. Give me something I can do after school and lose my head in, and maybe school won’t hurt my head so badly.

I do not like my job at the moment. The periods when I’m working with kids more one on one or small group…those are fine, good even sometimes. The rest of it…I don’t like teaching like this, direct instruction, can’t see what they’re doing, feel like I’m useless most of the time, can’t ever catch up, district keeps asking for more, I have admin who don’t answer emails, I have almost zero connection to school and what’s going on there, and my current team is dead silent.

So I have this. Tracing Wonder Under next.

After that, I cuddled two cats on the couch…

And watched some bad TV.

This guy got the cats up and off the couch, so that’s when I went to bed.

I was up early this morning and reserved a campsite in Yosemite for my Spring Break. I don’t even know if anyone will be around to go with me, since the Man is hiking the PCT if it’s open. But I need to have something to look forward to. I went back to sleep after reserving it. I needed to sleep.

Today. Groceries. Work work work. Hopefully trace onto Wonder Under tonight. Survive this fucking stupid week. Take a week off. Sleep in. Hike. Do art. (I will have to grade shit and plan shit, but at least it won’t all be in one freakin’ day.) Survive to the next weekend. My work mind is not OK. But it will get it done, whatever IT is. I need a job. I need the money. I can’t retire yet. I’m lucky to have a job. I don’t have to like it to do it. Hopefully this week, I will do it better than last week.

Mentally Willy Nilly

Friday the 13th. When you’re teaching in person, things like the full moon and Friday the 13th and Halloween are a bigger deal. Online, it doesn’t really matter. Someone might mention it, but it doesn’t have the same power over the middle-school mind when they aren’t all together in a hive situation. In fact, all of the behavior (mostly) is gone. All that’s left is trying to get work done, so kids who don’t listen and kids who don’t respond and kids who are “in Zoom” but are really asleep or somewhere else are really the behaviors. So I barely notice a Friday the 13th, normally one of my favorite days, usually good luck for me (in the past, who knows now, since luck is one of those things we perceive in strange and manipulated ways).

I’m tired. I’m not ready for next week. I think I’m caught up, and then I remember the other two classes I teach and that they need to be graded and planned and all that shit I forget about. I miss having just one prep and one type of class to worry about. You finished grading all of that assignment? Yay! It’s done! Oh wait. This other class has these OTHER 5 assignments from last week that need grading. Sigh.

I did have Wednesday off this week, and I did some work, but I also went to see three of my quilts in a show that closes this weekend, at the Front Porch Gallery in Carlsbad.

That is Bigger in the Outside and Climate Goddess. This is the California Fibers show Figuratively.

Here is Sweet Delicious

As well as some work by Carrie Burckle hanging next to it. I’ll get a post together of the whole show when I get a chance. Please don’t ask me when that will be. I thought tomorrow, but now I am hiking tomorrow. Possibly 11 miles. Pray for me. Or send food. Whichever is more your style.

The change in schedule at the end of September really fucked with my exercise plans. I have less time, and then the time change fucked with it some more. I’ve hiked full on in the dark, but Wednesday, realized the sun goes down bloody early and got my ass out there. There used to be this huge tree down there on the left with a treehouse in it. Guess it was a bad tree.

Sigh.

As you can see, I flirted with dark on this hike…only needed a flashlight to get down this one dark hill at the end. Brought the headlamp but didn’t need it. I will keep attempting this shit. Exercise. Even though gyms are now closed for three weeks and the online offerings are slim. Double sigh. Working on it. If you have a good video/source for free Pilates or yoga-type exercise for old ladies who aren’t particularly flexible, let me know.

After dinner, I brought out the drawing in progress…with school happening on the daily on the light table, I have to put all the Me art stuff away each night. So I cleared a space and laid her out. I finished tracing the bits I wanted, and then started work on the ground around her.

Going to see my quilts at the gallery made me think about things I like in my quilts. Dirt. Skellies. Earthworms. Volcanic activity. Add in some of that.

Then last night, I did some more. Oh yeah, the cat went in the night before. And some weird mole thing. And a book.

Mostly last night I was staring at it and trying to decide how to fill space and with what. We’ve had lots of owls this year, so I added some super tiny pieces (whoops) and the moon.

And a Fall tree. It’s getting there. It’s not there yet, though. Tonight is gaming, so we’ll see if I’m awake afterward. Plus meeting my team for a socially distanced drink. I get very little interaction with people…besides the two I live with. Although we teachers often talk about kids we have when we meet, and I don’t have the same kids, and my current “team” (they aren’t a team) doesn’t talk at all…at least, not to me. I have another parent meeting this morning and who knows how it will go, because no one talks beforehand and then they offer up everything, and I’m like, WTF, I don’t have time to do that thing and how do YOU have the fucking time? This part sucks. OK, lots of it sucks. But this part really sucks.

Anyway. Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year. The Year of Suck. I get some socialization today. I will play some online games and grade some shit, probably at the same time. Hopefully I will find the energy to get my butt off the couch and work on that drawing. Notice I didn’t say FINISH the drawing. I don’t think I’m there yet. I’m still in the mentally willy nilly stage. I’ll get there. It’s OK.

Totally Appreciated…

My day off, thanks to the veterans of all wars and skirmishes and just general military actions. I’m not a big fan of military actions, but know that some were necessary. No matter what, those involved and their families deserve acknowledgment today. I always wish for peace and the diminished need for military presence, but having been born in a military hospital, I know that isn’t always how it rolls. May veterans feel love and care; may their families feel the same.

Also, thank you for letting me have a break today. I fully and greatly appreciate it. I have not been sleeping enough. I have been working too much, too hard. I feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I’m hoping this day will give me a little distance from all that. Yes, I will still be working today, but interspersed will be art and exercise and reading my book because it’s the book club book for next week and I think my library due date is coming up so I need to finish it. Plus it’s pretty good. AND it feeds into the drawing that finally coalesced in my head. I swear, this job…

So I have a possible exhibition opportunity coming up next year about birth, and I don’t do a lot that is JUST birth. Birth shows up, for sure, but some of those are gone or sold…well, if they’re gone, they’re sold. I think this will be a virtual exhibition, so that won’t matter, but I felt like doing a non-COVID quilt, and this new era (hopefully) that is going to be Trump-free (not stupid-free, not entitlement-free…nah, those things are still rampant) makes me feel like I should be making something different for a while…not necessarily something joyful, but certainly hopeful? Maybe. I don’t know. So when I was in 29 Palms, I drew a birth thing…

But it wasn’t right. This originally came about in my head when hearing about women giving birth without family due to COVID, and I had this picture in my head of a woman on a hospital bed giving birth, and then a glass window behind her with everyone masked, gloved, etc, watching her…like all the doctors and nurses, here, do it yourself, we’ll be in later (no knocks on doctors and nurses on the front lines; they have it super hard and you know they don’t leave in these situations…I just was hard hit to think of family not being able to be there for women giving birth). But that wasn’t where my head wanted to go. The other night, I tried redrawing it, different baby, different aspect, trying to make it longer than wider, and I just ended up drawing it again, almost exactly the same, frustrated by my inability to connect my brain to something I liked, to something I wanted to MAKE. The easy way out would have been to just do the other COVID quilt. It’s already numbered and ready to go, but I didn’t want easy. I wanted different. So I let it all percolate in my head, and Monday, on the way driving around to my flu shot (drive-through)…

And UPS for boxes to ship a quilt and Home Depot for slats, talking to my SIL on the phone about all the crazy shit in our lives, it started to pop into my head, started to form, the same drawing, but elongated and connected to nature and the sky and space and dirt and all that good stuff that makes me feel better about everything.

So yesterday, after Pilates (possibly the last in the studio for a while, as San Diego shuts down a bit again due to rising infection counts), I copied the original drawing from the desert…

Cut it up and taped it together, enlarged 200%, not a lot, just a bit…

And then cut a longer piece of butcher paper from the giant-ass 50-yard roll I keep in my living room (doesn’t everybody do that?), and started tracing the bits I liked, changing the bits I didn’t, and adding some vines around her legs to pull her into the ground…

People are always asking me how I decide what to draw, how my brain works, and there, I just described it. There’s a part in there, I call her the Art Brain, and if I just let her go, she does some of her best deciding and ideaing (that is a word, fuck you) while I am doing other things, driving, walking, talking, erranding. And I appreciate her so much. I don’t know how to teach you to listen to your art brain, but she’s usually talking when you aren’t necessarily thinking so hard about art that you can’t hear her.

And it’s true that I’m old and I’ve been doing this a really long time and the most important bit of advice I can give you is practice practice practice, plus draw a lot and expect more than half of it to be crap. And that’s how you get better. I stopped at midnight thirty, because although I don’t have to Zoom work today, I still have to work. But hopefully I will get the next bit traced and go on to the landscape/sky part, where all the nice and cool stuff will be happening, yes, this is the next quilt, hallelujah, I knew if I were patient (not my thing), she would come out and make it happen. There’s never any down time with her…she’s always muttering into my ear, but I’m not always good at hearing it.

Here’s Calli…good old girl. The lump on her nose is inoperable bone cancer. She is not bothered by it yet, which is good, but probably there’s not a ton of time left with her…so we appreciate her good girlness every day.

And Kitten, who follows me to school (literally down the hallway and into the living room) and sometimes comes to class, usually in the most unhelpful way (on one computer, butt in my face)…

My two faithful old lady companions (they are both old ladies too). It makes me sad to see them grow old, but the best part (perhaps the only best part) of teaching from home is the constant furry animal pets I get to do all day long as I run to the bathroom and heat my tea up between Zoom classes.

OK, gotta sew some more napkins, deliver to quilts to a gallery, go see an exhibition where three of my quilts are hanging, and then grade a bunch of stuff, plan some more, probably record a video or five, and go for a long walk. Then draw some more. Not a bad day off. Totally appreciated.