I See the Bright and Hollow Sky*

May 23, 2017

I woke up this morning and a terrorist group had taken responsibility for bombing concertgoers. I still live in this world, where hate makes this acceptable, where this is not the first or last time this will happen. I woke up this morning and DeVos had released Trump’s education budget (because you know she didn’t write that thing…she didn’t have a pencil)…and not only are my students hit hard, because I teach in a Title I school, a school where poverty is everywhere…but my own children, needing to pay back federal loans for college, are now going to get hit harder…and me too, in helping them. I’ve seen a few (ignorant) friends say that if the teacher unions are against DeVos, that must mean she’s a good thing. I can guarantee you that all their children go to those rich white schools where immigrants and refugees are few and far between. They certainly aren’t showing any sort of empathy to humanity.

I think that’s the problem…no empathy. And being so sure your way is right, without any exposure to other. I’m not sure why we think that’s OK. It’s not. It can’t be.

This world. It pains me. I make art in response, sure, but it doesn’t stop the shit we keep seeing, the bad behavior, the crazy talk.

Last night, before I saw all that, I tried out a couple of backgrounds before I ironed her down…

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I always lean toward the dark…

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Then I started the stitch down…

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I finished watching 13 Reasons Why…it was hard to watch.

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In the first few episodes, listening to Hannah speak, I didn’t have much empathy for her…because as a middle-school teacher, all I could think about were the kids who would think a revenge suicide where you blame everyone else for your decisions would be a bad plan, that they wouldn’t have the fully developed frontal lobes for seeing the bigger deeper picture. As the show progressed, though, I could see how her brain processed (and again, I’m not sure my students would) and remembered lots of the shit from high school, which is now just exacerbated by the existence of the internet. Negotiating that is huge. There is no safe space…not at home, not anywhere. And they can’t see the future…they don’t have enough life experience to know you can get up and get past. Because most of us do. And we sit there and want to yell and hit at Bryce for her, want her to get out of the bathtub after the first cut and go find a phone, but none of that happens.

So I kept on making art. Because sometimes that’s all I can do. It’s gotten me through some intensely bad times in my life. And I’m still alive, so it works.

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After stitch down, I layered it with the interfacing we’re using on this quilt…

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This is for a larger quilt that will be in a show in July. So I started outlining…

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I didn’t quite finish, because I needed to sleep…

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But I got mostly done. And I have no idea what I’m working on next.

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I drew during my staff meeting…

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I met this snake on the way home…pretty sure it’s a gopher snake.

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Conversation with the boychild…

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At least he has a sense of humor about it. He’s coming home today. I spent time yesterday cleaning his room, putting his bed back together, and trying to persuade my vacuum not to die. Now I’m going to go to school and talk my way through menstruation and sperm production. Fun stuff.

*Iggy Pop, The Passenger


We Really Got to Ramble*

May 22, 2017

At some point, I give up on the school stuff and move on to the art. It is not a full and satisfying life without the art. I did spend some time yesterday at an art opening, but I’ll have to post about that later…no time this morning. Making the art really is the most important part for me…I know for some people the exhibition is a huge part…and I guess I DO it, so it must be important. But I’d really probably rather be in here cutting stuff out or ironing it together than listening to people talk about the work around me. Which reminds me, I have to explain my Quilt National piece on video this week. I should go read the statement again, so I don’t spend the whole 2 minutes staring at the piece.

Yes, Quilt National opens this week. That’s exciting…although getting there will probably kick my butt…it’s kind of nice to have a couple days off work this time of year.

I love this app, Momentum, even though it’s pretty simple (it gives me stuff to stare at, plus a highly visible to-do list). It always asks me what my focus for the day is though, and I often can’t grab that…as you can see by Saturday’s focal thought. I often am not focused.

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I did spend some time Saturday trying to figure out my solo show. I couldn’t SEE it, so I made a doc and started dropping pieces in so I could see the walls. I’m almost done…

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I might need better photos of a couple of them, so I really should figure that out.

A mural on the way to the art show yesterday…we saw this artist at ArtWalk too, but I tossed all the paperwork…but a quick Google search reveals this is Catnap by Michael Summers.

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Then there was this…I couldn’t even figure out what it meant, being outside a clothing store.

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After home, negotiating laundry elsewhere (the washer died for reals this time), groceries, school stuff, making dinner…then I did two days worth on this…some straight stitches and French knots in yellow on the left and then some green around that weird purple flower under the tree branches.

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Finally in here to iron…

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Tiny little pieces…

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It got late, but I kept going…

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She just needed to be done. And she was, around midnight. A good time to stop.

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And now she’s ready for a background and some stitching down I believe. Which is good, because I think she’s supposed to be done on Monday. But right now, I need to go to work. I don’t feel ready, but I’ll be going in anyway.

*Led Zeppelin, Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You


Sturdy Up Your Heart*

May 20, 2017

I’m frozen again. It’s 95 degrees out there. But my brain. Frozen. Too many things on the list. Dogs have been to the vet…one is now coneless and fancy free…the other is on more meds, a bloody abscess cleaned out, and still a conehead. Fun stuff. The washing machine died (again…it died last August too) last night while trying to finish up the boychild’s bedding. I really don’t have the time to deal with that right this second. Maybe tomorrow afternoon? I just don’t know. This might be an online thing. Trying to decide if it’s worth trying to fix again (I never actually fixed it last time…gave Sears the money to fix it and then spent 4 months trying to get the money back because they said my husband let them in the house and they fixed it. Interesting. I have no husband. Or male who lives here at the moment.) or whether I should just accept that the last 9 months of forcing it to work, even though it was apparently unfixable, was better than I thought I would get. Write that shit off. Because buying major appliances when I have no paycheck during the summer seems like a good plan? Fuuuuck.

Deep breaths. The list is long. I will get through bits and pieces of it, a little at a time.

There’s the nervous conehead at the vet. She gets all freaked out.

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And on the way home, she wouldn’t shift over to give the puppy some room…

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Don’t squish your baby brother.

I’m typing now with this one lying on the caps lock. I keep shoving her over.

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I did do some stitching last night…two nights’ worth on the stitch-a-day…it’s about all I did. I was so exhausted. I’m better today. Got over 8 hours of mostly OK sleep. I really needed it.

I stitched a (dammit…just forgot the name of it) feather stitch in blue and then straight stitches in the purple vine, and then put in a few French knots and a stem stitch under the eyeball to finish the thread. Then I did a pink lazy daisy in the feather stitch and straight stitches off the purple vine.

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Filling space. Plus trying to relax. Then I graded for a while. I’m so incredibly behind, it’s not even funny. Trying to catch up. Frantically.

I did work on this at gaming…

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I did the frog and started the grass…plus the symbol on the tree. Still debating going back and adding bullions to the outside of the tree. Then this one is done. Not taking it with me to Ohio.

It’s funny, I’ll be frantically stitching while gaming, trying to keep myself calm (not) and awake (that works). Stress levels are a little insane at the moment.

I woke to good (but a little scary) news this morning. Both the pieces I entered into Threads of Resistance got in.

This is Absolutely Nothing, originally in an exhibit called Women at War

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And this is Work in Progress, from the exhibit Expressions of Equality.

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These were made one after the other…hence the tree showing up in both…I wasn’t done with that imagery apparently. Much like the bathtubs I keep doing.

So yeah, I didn’t have time to make new work for this show, but I do often roll in those topics anyway. There was a climate change one I wanted to enter, but it was like 2″ too big. It’s all good.

So why is it a little scary? Well. So. A few of my quilts have upset people’s sensibilities. And these two have about 10 penises between the two of them, plus yes, full-on nudity, and one is NOT very nice about how I feel about the way women are treated in society.

So. I guess we prep for the media storm this time…because some of these venues could be an issue. The plus is I know the group that organized this show has my back. Most of them have supported me in the past with personal messages or posts online. So I’m feeling OK about opening some eyes, or getting those heads nodding up and down in agreement. And I know the Mancusos will just invite the press in…still think I should get a kickback on their ticket sales if I make the news again.

The show opens July 15 in Lowell, Massachusetts, at the New England Quilt Museum. And then it travels through 2018. Or longer. So check it out.

Now I gotta get through this to-do list or I’m gonna go crazy.

*The Beautiful Girls, La Mar


See Inside, Inside of Our Heads*

May 19, 2017

Well some of the to-do list is done. The ritual of crossing things off a list or checking that box, the visual of a long list of shit to be accomplished with lines drawn through…it helps. There’s still too many things on the list, but at least it’s not growing exponentially every day. Yet. Ha!

Just don’t ask about the grading. That’s going really slowly and inefficiently. Too much going on this last week at night. I’m behind. Significantly. This is unfortunate. I can feel all my normal stress responses ramping up, but the eyes aren’t twitching yet. That’s good. I even went to bed a little earlier last night to try and help. We’ll see. I swear, the thing I wish for most at the moment is more sleep…and it’s the thing that’s hardest to find.

I had my quilt meeting last night…it gets smaller and smaller, and I’m the only one who has quilt stuff any more. And last night, I didn’t! Well, I had those last 15 pieces to cut out…so I did that…and then I started sewing wool pieces down on the Sue Spargo Folk Tails blocks, because I think I’ll finish the 5th or 6th one tonight (I can’t remember which one I’m on) and then I’ll only have three for the trip next week. So some part of my brain believes that three is plenty…and some part doesn’t. In the back is one that’s ready…so there are two more in the front that I’m working on…and then I realized that those are all from the month of May and I haven’t even sewn the parts on for April.

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That probably doesn’t matter. I don’t think those need to be done in order. And honestly, I don’t think these are coming with me. My brain tries to organize projects sometimes and then the other more practical part of my brain kicks in and goes, Seriously? Three blocks? You’re not going to get those done in four days…even with all the travel you’ll be doing. You’ll draw and read too…plus grade in any down time.

I hate being bored. I hate sitting in airports and on planes and not having stuff to do. I need a variety of things from which to choose.

We’re all still coneheads. I’m hoping tomorrow’s vet takes care of that. Her really bad foot is better, so that’s good.

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The little guy is also better, but less likely to fall asleep on my studio floor.

So when I got home and dealt with dinner, I sorted the pieces…

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Lots of tiny. Then I came back into the studio and started ironing…

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Things that overlap can be a pain in the butt…

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But I got the first almost 100 pieces done. So that was good. I’m totally creeped out by that hand though.

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I guess that’s a good thing, since this piece is supposed to be creepy. I’m not sure when I’ll have time to finish it…maybe tonight? I really should be grading stuff. I’m trying. I just can’t get much time in class because of how we’re teaching at the moment. My voice is shot…having to talk for three days straight. This is like going back to the old days when we had to talk all the time. We’ve gotten used to less of the direct instruction and more creating understanding…I think that’s cool until I start losing my voice. Today is more talking…but next week should be better. Hallelujah. I think yesterday was the first day all year I was teaching something I had taught before…and it was a relief. It was so easy. That’s a good sign for next year…it will be easier. We still have to tweak stuff, but it will be easier.

*Trapt, Headstrong


Come Inside Where It’s Okay*

May 18, 2017

So. Thursday. What certain days feel like. Thursdays are. Thursdays often have a meeting at the end of them. Thursday mornings are tired, but not as tired as Friday mornings. Thursdays don’t really have a wish or a hope attached to them…just the potential for hanging out with people after work for once. Thursdays often have dinner issues because I’m tired of what I’ve been eating all week, but I don’t want to cook. Right now, Thursday also has deadlines, things that have to be done before tomorrow. Some of those things have been stacking up, getting pushed into the corner, but no longer small or quiet enough to stay there. Now I have to step around them, they’re so big and in my face. I should deal with them. I’m pretty sure at least three of them are on my calendar for before school today. With my headache. My stayed-up-too-late-again headache. Yup. I named it. Then I medicated it. Feels like I will have to medicate it again.

Sometimes I can’t handle all the people around me. Ironic, since I’m a teacher and I’m surrounded. It’s less the kids and more the adults. One of my former students found me yesterday after school. She was a tough little thing, lashing out, never quiet, not the best student in the world, a lot of Sorry Ms. Nidas. And then she would turn around and yell at some other kid at the top of her tiny lungs. I recognized her. Couldn’t remember her name until I got home and found my old pictures. She’s graduating this year, not like a lot of others, she says. Too many baby daddies and mommas. Sad. I know about some of those. Then she says something about taking Biology three times. I think about what I remember of her…ask her if she finally passed (they have to take it until they pass). I look at her shirt, some logo about not caring. I tease her about that. Then she says, no. I took three different Biology classes; I’m going to college. I love Biology.

Wow. OK. Cool. I tell her the shirt is a lie. She admits it. I tell her I’m really proud of her, because I am. Because you know when they seek you out 5 years later to tell you that shit that you were part of what mattered. And I needed that yesterday. Her name is fixed in my head now. I hope she rocks the next step.

That reminds me. I want to try some experimentation with at least one quilt this summer, to make it in a way I don’t usually make it. But I have to decide about deadlines. This is after I got two rejection notices yesterday from a show I didn’t enter this year. I was so confused. Freaking out really, because I knew I’d entered one of the pieces in another show, so I thought I was going a bit nuts and had forgotten completely about an exhibit. And that I’d double-entered something, which is a big no no. Well. I didn’t enter…didn’t have new work available. So I wasn’t crazy. It was a weird moment though.

I sewed on this…the purple looped feather stitch (that’s what they called it…I call it a stupid pain-in-the-ass stitch)…on the left.

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I graded some…because I need to get caught up. Aargh. Always the catching up.

Then I cut tiny pieces out for a long time. Too late…

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But I didn’t finish. I needed to go to bed at least a half hour earlier…so staying up another half hour or more to finish these would have been really fucking stupid.

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Tonight I finish those and hopefully start ironing.

That’s the plan anyway. Plans go awry. And I haven’t been good about anything getting done lately. Or being with people apparently either. Not just an introvert, but a mostly antisocial introvert. Woo hoo!

*Elliott Smith, Thirteen (yes, Big Star)


You’d Better Change It Back or We Will Both Be Sorry*

May 17, 2017

There’s too much shit in my head right now, swirling around. Massive to-do lists banging into me like two dogs wearing plastic cones on their heads. Wait. That’s real life. I’m tired of their doggy heads banging into the backs of my legs…or both of them trying to get through a door before I’ve opened it all the way. Thunk! One dog gets 7 1/4 pills in the morning; the other gets 1.6 ml? or µl? of some white stuff that he tolerates. Treats for all! Plus soaking of the feets! So time-consuming. And then there’s all the stuff I should be doing for school but keep blowing off…grading, most of it. But also calculating grades and awards. Then the boychild is home in less than a week…I think his room is pretty clean, but the bedding definitely needs washing. And I need to vacuum, but my vacuum is dying a not-so-pretty death, so I need to deal with that. And then I’m gone for two days next week to go to Quilt National…yay! But that’s a planning nightmare for school. You just don’t take off during the sex ed unit. Or. Well. You do. You just plan really well for it.

And this block I’m working on is supposed to be done by the 29th…which it probably will be. It’s not a hard thing to do. It really only needs to be a top, but since the drawn line is really important to my quilts, I’ll have to figure out how to do that without quilting it. I might use batting anyway. Or maybe not, since I think I’m one of the ones in charge of sewing this thing together. I can quilt it later. Maybe. I don’t know.

Anyway. I did manage to finish all the ironing last night…although I did this first, two night’s worth…I did some red straight stitches and then some weird whipped stitch just to the right of the eyeball. Then a barbed chain stitch (I don’t know if that’s a real stitch…it’s just what it looked like as I made it up) and French knots in green near the eyeball and that whipped stitch.

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The color is really dull because I took that photo basically in the dark without a flash. So the next time you see a photo of it, you’ll be amazed by how bright it is.

Then I ironed all those flesh fabrics from last night and cut out the rest of it (a heart…an ovary)…

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So that’s 32 fabrics, a pile of stuff to be cut out tonight, and about three hours of work.

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Like I said, it’s not a hard thing to do…in fact, maybe I should do a few smaller ones. So that reminds me, I need to put an official list together of what is going to be in the Visions show. I should do that this week, because next week is gonna be a cluster. Plus I want it done. I basically know what’s in there…I just have a few wishy washy issues. And being overwhelmed is not helping me deal with them.

I wish I were her sometimes. It looks so easy…

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Goofball dogs.

But really. I think it’s 21 days left of school…and I’m gone for 2 of those. But then I have jury duty. And I need to pick up some copyediting jobs for the summer. Plus I need a big project (or three) for the summer. Right? It’s true, I love that about the summer…a big meaty project or two to focus on with all that “free” time.

OK. Well I still have a headache, so the tea isn’t cutting it. Yesterday we eased into sex ed with Liking vs Loving…much easier than slamming right into anatomy, which is how we’ve always done it. We ramp it up a bit today with relationship abuse, and then tomorrow, we bring out the penises and vaginas. Whoa Nelly. Then slam them upside the head with puberty. It’s on!

*The Human League, Don’t You Want Me


Lost Myself and I Am Nowhere to Be Found*

May 16, 2017

There are times when my night-owl tendencies can be detrimental (and yeah, I already know I’m going to die early because I can’t sleep enough)…for instance, when I decide to start ironing after 11 PM and it’s a small quilt and I can pick almost all the flesh fabrics in an hour or so, but then they all need to be ironed to the fabric, and it’s almost 1 AM, and I have to get up and go to work the next day…even better, I have to get up and go to work and have duty before and after school in the rain, plus tutorial, AND it’s the first day of teaching sex ed, so I have to impart the seriousness of school rules and how much trouble you will get in if you Skeet Skeet to the girl across the room (if you don’t know what that means, please, it’s OK, don’t feel bad) or yell out about your peepee (seriously happened) in the middle of class. I really need a full night’s sleep for that shit.

Oh well.

It’s all in the name of art.

I went to the gym. I cooked a dinner that said it should take 20 minutes and it took an hour (I think recipes should have to answer for their inaccurate timing shit). I persuaded the girlchild not to fail a class and finish her essay instead of going to a party (OK, I think she actually persuaded herself…I have no highfalutin ideas of my ability to persuade that child to do anything). I dealt with some paperwork here and there. Oh yeah, I had to bathe a dog’s butt (no, you don’t wanna know). And then I ironed.

So this quilt has one human figure and then five hands. So they each needed a stretch of flesh colors. I often try to pick all the flesh in one go…it’s just easier…

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And this is a small quilt, so first of all, it won’t take long to do that, but also, the whole quilt is flesh. Almost. There’s only like 15 pieces that aren’t flesh. OK. Maybe 25. But not a lot.

I started actually ironing at 12:20, because it’s really dangerous to leave all those little bits of Wonder Under lying out on the fabrics with cats in the house. I like never do that.

But I had no choice…there is no way I could have stayed up another hour, and that’s what it would have taken. So I stacked plastic bins on top of all of it and I’ll have to be really careful tonight when I take them off so they don’t fly all over.

The drawing is hanging up so I can see it. With an unfinished unplanned random head top hanging next to it.

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And the last episode of Supernatural on Netflix…with Kitten watching. Not.

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Most complicated thing to consider: what to watch next? Until the next season pops up.

Anyway, I’ll finish ironing tonight. After surviving all the stuff on the list. Yes, I’m tired. I should remember that tonight. Plus don’t plan to cook new stuff for the first time on the night you go to the gym. And start ironing earlier. And and and. Sometimes dealing with art brain is like dealing with a 2-year-old.

*Sia, Breathe Me