Underground Like a Wild Potato*

April 25, 2017

Oh yeah. School kicks your butt. Just plain old physical exhaustion at the end of the day with some measure of mental (what’s another word for exhaustion…I’m too tired to think of one or even access a thesaurus dammit) tiredness. Enervation. Fatigue. Lassitude. That might be the first time I’ve used the word lassitude on this blog. Might be the last too.

I’m still braindead this morning, after two hours of cats cleaning their nether regions right next to me, one on each side, unable to toss them off the bed because of my parents’ dog Katie, who tends to chase them. Even in the dark. In the middle of the night, she’s lurking right next to the bed, waiting for something tasty and sharp (claws don’t seem to deter her) to fall from the mattress.

I wish she’d get over that. It’s a pain carrying the furry beasts around and depositing them appropriate places so they can eat and poop, and then Kitten was demanding that I bring her to bed, despite the fact that she’d be stuck there all night by Psycho Dog. Katie goes home tonight, so the cats will be free to walk around like the bossy furry beasts they prefer to be. And I will be free to toss them off the bed when a 4:30 AM butt cleaning seems like a good idea.

So school was fine really…and then we had to wander over to another school for a talk by George Couros, who was a principal and a teacher and has a TED talk you can listen to at the link. If you want to. I won’t force anyone to listen to a TED talk. I like a few of them, but mostly I’m like, yeah, OK, either that makes sense or where’s your evidence. Or both. So. Just like every day. I didn’t get anything revolutionary…or revelatory (yes, WordPress, that IS a word) out of it, but whatever. I thought it was ironic that they were trying to motivate us to be passionate and amazing when there are were only 38 days of school left. They kept saying there were 32 days of school left, but I counted again, and maybe they’re not counting days that I am counting? But it’s 38. Except now it’s 37. The cool thing is that he said it was OK if we were on our phones or asleep, and I did neither. I happily stitched. Happily stitching meant that I could focus on what he had to say AND stay awake. Seriously. I wish my boss would figure that out, although he hasn’t made me stop drawing in staff meetings.

No, I’m not done with the bird, but I’m close…so technically that would be done with the top block, whatever number that is, and on to the bottom block with the tree etc.

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The frog. That’s what it is.

I also caught up on this, three days’ worth. I’m getting less efficient as the year goes on. I was panicking about getting the quilt done. So I did the eyeball outline on the left, to be filled in later, the weird branch going off the eyeball, all in chain stitches for both, with pistil stitches coming out of the chains. Then I did a chain stitch in an orange color near the tree, to the left, filling in some of the black in there, finishing up with French knots above one of the yellow flower shapes.

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You’d think I’d finish filling in before branching out. Oh well.

I had some space-out time. I read for a while. I couldn’t deal with anything. Then I finally got up and started the stitch-down on the bathtub.

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The machine was a little fussy, but I figured it out and got a good hour and a half into it. Didn’t get a lot DONE, but I stitched. Slow but steady.

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More tonight…hoping I have the energy. Today is a long day. Most of them are long days. The first week back is exhausting. I said that already.

*The B-52’s, Private Idaho

Felling Any Foe with My Gaze*

April 24, 2017

OK. I can go back today. I guess. I’m not ready, but I never am…so what’s new. I managed to grade 6 of the 9 assignments I had…and to grade all of the stuff kids turned in late. So I didn’t do horribly…but progress reports have to be done this weekend, so…ugh. Already ugh.

That said, I got a bit of a reprieve on trying to finish the current quilt. I thought I had to be done and photographed by this Friday, and that’s not gonna happen. But apparently it doesn’t have to. I might be the only person who reads the contract. So I’m feeling pressure to get done still…but not psychotic crazy pressure. Hallelujah.

Anyway…I did get a lot done over the weekend anyway. First of all, I marched for science. My marching team has a plan for how we do this…we meet here and eat a fortified breakfast.

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The Other Kathy had the best shirt ever…if you’re a size medium or smaller, go here to get one.

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If you’re not a medium or smaller, be sad, because she’s sold out. But a lovely shirt nonetheless. She’s a paper cutter from Canada (the artist, Ali Harrison; not my friend wearing the shirt)…which makes sense when you see the image.

Then we leave two cars where the parking is easy and we park in this garage, within easy walking distance of the march. The artist is Christopher Konecki…whose art I love…and his cover picture on his website shows this and a few other of his downtown murals (there are many).

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We take the obligatory march photo…which shows my hat…

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The weird Earth Mother that was behind us while we left the plaza…

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You can see my weird hat (I wear this at school at least once a year)…better in the Other Kathy’s picture…

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Got my lab coat on too. Anyway. Science marchers are different than Women marchers in that it was quieter…but still a good thing. Because science. Duh.

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I don’t know how you ignore 15,000 people in San Diego…especially when they’re fucking with traffic…

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They only gave us half the road this time. Lots of good signs, but I’m not sure the people who need to be paying attention are getting it, after seeing the Trumpster’s statement for Earth Day. It seems his science teachers have a lot of explaining to do for his level of ignorance about cause and effect with the environment. Hopefully some of his party will pay attention to their constituents.

I came home and ironed…body parts…

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She’s not as pink as the others…

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Should be interesting seeing all three bathtubs hanging together…

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Then I took the torso and limbs and inserted them into the bathtub.

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I only had about 100 pieces left at that point, but needed to leave and go to an opening.

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Which is where I found out I had more time than I thought.

Yesterday, I had a ton to do, but helped out the ex by letting him drop a beam on my shin. OK. Not really. That was an accident, but it hurts today. Oh well.

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I get it. It’s hard to do stuff around the house when you’re the only person. Luckily I persuaded him that trying to lift the beam up from the ground and hold it was fucking nuts. So we did it from the deck…if it dropped, that would have killed the ladders, but not one of us. I feel like I need to drive over there today and see if he is still alive, because he had other stuff to do…this might be why old single people need to live in communes, rather than by themselves.

I had a California Fibers‘ meeting yesterday (we have so many shows coming up, it’s crazy)…and this was on a Chinese screen one of the members had in her house. Everything else was traditional old dragons and water and clouds (which apparently are a fungus, not clouds?)…but these look like flaming metal eyeballs, don’t they? I’m not sure what they’re supposed to be, but I really like them.

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Back home, finishing some grading, dogs at the ready…

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Or asleep…whichever works.

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Back to the ironing board, earlier this time…

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Eyeballs ironed separately for better placement.

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Her face done…with crown of fire (can you say hot flashes?).

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Piece the background after (smartly learning from my mistakes) washing it in that stuff that removes the extra dye…Retayne (wish I could retain brain cells, dammit…couldn’t remember what it was called)…

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Then all ironed down and steamed appropriately.

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Damn, if I didn’t have to go to school today…I’d be stitching this down. Yup. Oh well. Back to the day job. That’s what all the artists say.

*Blue Foundation, Eyes on Fire

So There

April 22, 2017

I have 12 minutes before I need to get ready to leave to march for science. Funny, it wouldn’t have been my first choice 30 years ago, when I was in college. I was very much an English literature and art major before I was a science person. Some of that was teachers who told me girls don’t do this, so when I asked questions, mostly trying to figure physics out (it’s still not my strong point), they wouldn’t answer. Somehow I should have gotten all the information I needed from their dry, boring lectures or from the textbook I barely cracked.

When I got my tattoo earlier this week, the fact that I was a teacher came up and the desk guy, who looked barely out of high school, was entranced with physics, with the labs, though…not with the post-lab work…like many of my students, he likes to do and explore more than he likes to analyze afterwards in some sort of productive manner. I love science for its creativity, its persistence, its ability to fuck with us…but I also love it for how it solves problems…and not just in one way, but in millions of ways. I didn’t know back in high school that this subject was one of the best for people who are both right and left brain, who like to see order in the chaos, but are admitting the chaos is always there…who like to find answers even while making more questions.

So I march for science. I march for the Lorax. I march with Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson. I march with all the women who have chosen science as a career despite all the men who stood in the way. I march for my students, who love the labs, but not the work that goes with them. I march for a subject I didn’t particularly like in school, but grew to love over the years, a subject that now distinctly colors the art I make. I march even though it’s going to be hot and there will be no bathrooms. I march even though I didn’t make a sign (I have a lab coat with my name on it and an eyeball hat and a Lorax t-shirt). I march with my co-teacher, even though she’s currently marching in Texas. I march for the people who don’t believe in climate change, because they can’t see the science through the politicians.

So there.

In other news, I’m putting a binding and a sleeve on this one and trying to hang it from a wall instead of putting it on a bed…ironically, since it’s a quilt about being a quilt.

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I didn’t get much done on this one due to yesterday’s errandness…

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Puppies are bitey and old lady dogs aren’t.

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I worked on this while gaming…

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And I did three days’ worth of stuff on this, mostly down in the bottom right…Some blue star stitches with french knots and cross stitches, then some stitches to decorate the herringbone, both straight stitches in peach and fly and lazy daisy stitches in green.

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Just trying to fill in space as I reach the 1/3-way mark. Whatever for? I do not know. But I can’t stop now.

Read the Lines in My Hand*

April 20, 2017


OK. Yeah. Better. Nope. Not really. Realizing how many things are on the to-do list while simultaneously realizing how little time there is to do them. My right eye is twitching again. It’s not supposed to do that on break. And it doesn’t seem to matter that I got a ton done yesterday…today it has multiplied into a monstrously larger amount, I don’t even know how. Part of it is trying to manage four different shows (maybe more?)…finishing work, putting labels on, suspect I need to go shopping for slats or dowels, plus shipping them off…gotta get all that done today and tomorrow. Plus the parentals are gone, so I have their dog on top of mine. And I’m supposed to be deciding what quilts will be in my solo show in July, because I need to know by next Friday. Aack. Double Aack. I have some that are definites (including the one I haven’t finished, oh shit), but I’m blanking on some of the others. Not sure. Need it to fit with the title. Maybe. Maybe it all fits. Who knows? I can’t wrap my brain around it right this minute. Realizing that this weekend is busy as hell, all of a sudden. OK, the realization was all of a sudden…it’s been booked for months.

All I can do is start banging through the list, as always. This is how school stuff doesn’t get done, though…because I’m trying to finish the personal stuff…and that doesn’t even include my original Spring Break goals of finishing all the weeding (ah ha ha ha) and figuring out where all the quilts should be stored and getting my bedroom chaos under control. That shit’s just not happening at all.

So. I got up yesterday and graded one of the longer assignments. Then I started cutting, and I did that for about 4 1/2 hours…

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And then I was done. So 9 hours plus total, I think. And my hand isn’t even that stiff. Good deal.

I had two dogs on the couch with me for most of it…not sure why. I know I’ve been the most boring owner ever this week. Sorry guys.

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Then the third dog showed up and the shenanigans began…

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I ignored them and went on to sorting the pieces out…

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And then came in here and started ironing…

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I am doing all the stuff around the bathtub first…it seems easier that way…

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Well, this tree wasn’t really easy…but it was logical…sort of.

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And I got the cat done after midnight…and that’s where I stopped.

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200 pieces ironed down…only 500 to go. That was my goal for today…I think. I’m not sure I can pull it off though. I have 5 quilts to pull from the pile, check all of them for labels, put labels on those that don’t have them, ship 3 to one location, put 2 in a pile for another location, and then there’s another that’s still in a box that needs to be shipped back. Each batch, I need to look up what else needs to be sent…artist statement? Slats? Return shipping? Who knows. Pain in the ass. Except the work is gonna be out there, so that’s a plus.

Two of the pieces are in this show…which will be up until July 10, I think. The piece on the right is mine, and there will be another smaller piece of mine in the show. I won’t make it to the opening though…it’s free, but you need to register. I think that gets you a free wine ticket though, so you should go.

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And then I’m in this one…but I’m not sure whether it’s just the one piece on the announcement or not. I should be at this opening…

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Anyway, wasting less time here and trying to get everything done without panicking. This is the part where my counselor tells me I must like being overwhelmed because I keep getting into that space. WTF. I don’t know how NOT to get there. Sigh.

*Elliott Smith, Miss Misery

I Tripped and Fell, and Did I Fall*

April 18, 2017

I think I write in the morning most days because it helps me wake up. Drink the tea, spill the beans, get the leftover words out of my head, make plans for the day, make sure art fits in there. Get my head around the day. Of course, it’s also still Spring Break for me…and I’m trying to catch up on almost 4 months of not enough sleep. Ugh. I honestly, right now, on Tuesday, don’t feel like I’m up to surviving the last two months of school. There’s only 38 days. And I’m gone for 2 of them. But it feels overwhelming still. Maybe that’s because we don’t have the first three weeks completely planned. Just maybe. But also because I go back and progress reports are due. I graded two easy assignments yesterday and input a bunch of stuff from the week before break. I have 7 assignments left. That’s an assignment a day (I’m ignoring the one that’s sitting in my classroom…hoping to have time to grade it when I get back).

(Just took a 10-minute break to throw a ball for Simba…he had the rips.)

This year has been stressful. But I’m close to finishing up some of the most stressful parts. So that’s good. I’m looking forward to a summer break, even if I probably have to find work for most of it. I shut down most of the copyediting stuff a month ago when I was getting lots of requests but literally had no free time in which to complete anything. I’ll be opening those up again soon…because I need work for the summer. I still don’t know if either of the kids is coming home; the flights will start being an issue pretty soon. I hope they have somewhere to sleep if I can’t get them home right away…or that they find jobs or internships where they are. I want them to come home, but understand if they don’t. The money that has to be paid out over the summer scares me a bit…even with my tax return, the summer is going to be tight. Need work. Yeah.

So yesterday I finished a bunch of stuff…I also did two days’ worth of stitching on this…the herringbone in the bottom left and then a running stitch from the left side and over the tree…I’m going to thread another color through that tonight.

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So that’s 106 days of stitching…almost a third of a way through the year. Still feels like I will probably fill this up before the end of the year.

I started watching an episode of The Americans while I was stitching and wanted to finish the episode, so I worked on the Folk Tails block…with puppy on my leg (his favorite spot) and Midnight cleaning herself down the couch.

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I forgot to take a picture of what I got done…but it wasn’t much.

I ironed in the afternoon, did the bathtub water. Then cooked dinner and did the stitching above before heading in for the flesh fabrics. I picked a run of 7 flesh colors and some other fillers. This quilt is about aging and menopause mostly…like a lot of the bathtub quilts seem to be…this is the third bathtub quilt I’ve actually made…I think there are 5 or 6 drawings.

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A shot to show you how I use fabrics that change in color sometimes…so yes, I was looking at the drawing and deciding where on the stripes each piece needed to go.

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Not exactly random I guess. I was tired when I finished ironing all the flesh colors, but it was still relatively early, so I kept going…did all the heart/blood stuff and then the fire stuff as well. So all that’s left right now is hair and lungs, mostly.

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Honestly it wouldn’t have taken much time to do it last night, but I was exhausted. I’m not sure why. Just accumulated tiredness still. Like jet lag, but school lag.

Here’s the pile of fabrics I was using by the end of the night. I find these piles happen even when I try to be all organized and keep runs of color together.

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While I’m picking, I can’t be bothered to be organized. I do that when I’m done, pile them all up in the boxes by color, although I was being lazy here…it was almost 1 AM, in my defense.

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And then I moved the ironed pieces into a larger container so they’d have room to breathe. I plan to be cutting these out by tonight…

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I’m going to have to grade something first. I’m more than a little panicked about trying to get this quilt done on time…but all I can do is keep doing until it’s done. Which makes me a bit hermitlike this week. Oh well. I’d probably do that anyway.

*R.E.M., Strange Currencies

As We Drift into the Zone*

April 7, 2017

I have another piece on view this weekend. Turmoil is at IQF Chicago and includes my Goddess of Neverending Chaos. I love this piece…

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She is always relevant. Even with both kids gone, my current life is just way too freakin’ overwhelming at the moment. so even though taking time off and wandering around the redwoods is really not gonna get anything done, I need that mental space and time to get through the rest of it. I’m taking stitching, books, hiking boots, and my sketchbook. And Rice Krispy treats. Yeah. Well. I’m lucky in that I have two weeks of Spring Break, so I can come back and kick butt on grading and artmaking when I get back.

I certainly have sucked on the grading front all week. I’ve managed to almost finish one large assignment this week during classes, but I’ve basically come home and done none of it. I couldn’t. Mentally couldn’t. I may regret that at some point, but whatever. I think I’m going into break with only small assignments to grade…well, one larger one, but there’s only 35 of those. That’s doable. There are 10 assignments. Sigh. Dammit. I should finish one of them today and one is extra credit, so only a few kids did it.


So quilt progress. Not great, but there is some. I’m a little over 100 pieces in, out of almost 700 pieces. It’s taken almost 3 hours to do them though. Not sure why. Apparently my brain is slow. I have to say that this is my favorite part of the quilt…picking fabrics…followed by ironing them together. So I will come back from my trip and enjoy the last week off. I hope. But the hours I had in my head about the quilt are getting longer now, because there’s no way I’m going to finish ironing tonight. Honestly, I’ll probably get another hour or two max. I am going to try finish grading one assignment tonight and I have to pack everything. I tried to do some last night again and it was too overwhelming (not a good sign). But I’m hoping with school out of my head (well, as much as it ever is), I’ll be able to get it done. The right eye keeps twitching. Not a good sign. That’s why I’m vacating.

Here’s the fabrics so far…still not much color…and the pieces that are ready for trimming.

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I was thinking of taking the to-be-trimmed pieces with me. I think probably not, but I’ll reconsider. It is a pain carrying that around on a trip with an already full car. So it’s probably easier not to. It’ll only save me an hour or two when I get back. That’s not really enough. If I’d gotten through like 500 pieces, maybe. We’ll see.

But first…surviving today. Not a small task. Yesterday was a stretch for two periods…seriously. I honestly don’t know where I will find the mental strength to get through it today…but I know I will.

*Weezer, Island in the Sun

Restless as the Wildest Way*

April 6, 2017

Here’s a blog post I wrote for California Fibers on the exhibit Time, which just opened at Blackboard Gallery at Studio Channel Islands, Camarillo, California. I have two pieces in the show. I was not there for the opening, but will be stopping by on my trip next week. Give Me Time


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Are both in the exhibit. I’m looking forward to seeing it…it looks like a beautiful space. The show is up through May 9.

So I knew I had a bag of Wildflowers variegated thread, which has always been one of my favorites, starting when I was a crazy quilter (OK, I’m still a crazy quilter, but I meant a person who made crazy quilts)…I found them!

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This house has a lot of embroidery thread in it, just so you know. But now I have some different thread to use…I get tired of using the same ones over and over. I did the bullion rose under the tree branch, and then used up the rest of the thread in some stem stitching below the tree roots. I actually used two strands of thread, because I couldn’t finish all the bullions otherwise.

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Julie says it looks like a skull. She’s right. For now. Not on purpose.

Then I decided to blow off work completely (whoops…I will probably regret that later…) and start the fabric-picking part of this quilt. It has a top and bottom on the backing…a floor and wall, if you will. The other two bathtubs don’t. Not sure why this one does, but thought I would honor it with two different fabrics.

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I got the drawing hung up and started picking. Honestly, it was a pretty slow start.

That’s a plate of cheesecake laid out in fabric. A first for me.

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I’m really tired at the moment. Here’s the first 100 pieces laid out.

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Here’s the first 50 pieces cut out of fabric. No. I didn’t get very far.

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It took a really long time to decide what color to make the rug. I can’t explain that. It just happened. Greens are complicated. Interestingly, I think all the bathtubs have a green rug. I want a better bathtub…if I can ever afford to remodel the bathrooms here (they need it), a nice bathtub is a requirement. I miss baths.

Anyway, the way I number the pieces on the bathtub means I cut out everything that’s AROUND the bathtub first, and then I do the bathtub, then the water, then the human. I try to be methodical about things sometimes. The first bathtub I did, I think I was not that organized, and it made it a pain in the ass for picking fabrics. Anyway. More tonight. More Friday night, as I try to pack for this trip. Pack for potentially sopping wet and freezing temperatures while sleeping outside and then delightful and sunny while touring wineries. It’s not like I have a wide selection of clothes anyway. Layers!

Deep breaths for today. Spring Break is two days away and the kids know it! There is some dumbassery going on, as usual. And it starts with an early meeting for me…woo hoo!

*Crooked Still, Undone in Sorrow