Settle Down, It’ll All Be Clear*

January 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Phillip Phillips, Home


Oh I’m Just About to Lose My Mind*

January 14, 2017

I don’t have much to show for yesterday. I didn’t do art really…just the stitch a day thing. Which is something…I sat there and stitched the blue flowers. I almost stitched the word FUCK because that’s how I was feeling, but at the last minute, I decided not to. I might change my mind later. Then I went to bed, because I was exhausted. Not a shock for the first week back. I used up all my patience in 2nd period. Not true, actually, because I managed to get through the whole day without killing anyone. We are halfway through the school year…and reading and listening to instructions is still an issue.

I got home and my water was off. They’ve been building a new house down the street for a year now, and they were apparently moving water lines yesterday and nicked (and broke) my pipe. I wonder what that does to my water bill? I suspect they turned it off quickly enough that it wasn’t an issue. But sheesh. I’m so tired of dealing with construction right now.

The plus is the sun is out today…blissful cat moments happening right now. And it’s a 3-day weekend, so I get to have one extra day free of work stress…as long as I ignore the grading part. And the girlchild is leaving, but she’s been crankballs for days, so it’s probably time. Boychild leaves next week. He knows how to put dishes in the dishwasher. That’s a plus.

So this…

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And the drive out to gaming…so yeah, I was gone for like 5 hours, so that’s part of why no art got done. I’m hoping to get started this afternoon…get a bunch done today…we’ll see.

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My game character did kick ass last night though. So that’s a thing.

I’m not in the best of moods, but hopefully I can pull out of that. I blame hormones and tiredness…so if I can get some sleep and make some art, that usually helps. So that’s my plan. Simple.

*Marvin Gaye, I Heard It Through the Grapevine


You Scream You Learn*

January 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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Not much, honestly.

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

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

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

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

I had both cats with me…

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

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

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

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

*Alanis Morissette, You Learn


Leave Me Be*

January 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Sara Bareilles, Gravity


And We’ll All Float on OK*

January 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So it’s sweet when she does.

*Modest Mouse, Float On


I Have the Technology

January 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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Like I have time to dye a rug.

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

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It needs more colors.

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

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

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


I Dream of That Too…

January 9, 2017

That first day back to school after a break…ugh. I’m never ready. I even went to bed early, but the pup was barking at the wind (as far as I could tell) in the nether regions of the morning, so that wasn’t particularly helpful. I know I’m never prepared, I feel panicked, I didn’t finish everything. I didn’t even come close to finishing everything. Maybe I could have if I’d done less art…but that’s just crazy talk, right? Less art. Hmmmph. Not happening.

I did spend most of the weekend running errands and at a friend’s wedding, so not a lot of art happened. It’s OK. I knew it was coming. I did not make it to school beforehand. Oh well. I was a puppy sleeping pillow for a good long time last night…

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The girlchild is visiting her cousins in Seattle, so I’m second best…sometimes third best, depending on the boychild’s mood.

Once I got home from the wedding, I started trimming. I was pretty tired, though, so this is like the kind of stuff that will put you to sleep if you’re already halfway there…

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It looks like I have a lot done, because the big box is only half full right now, but most of that is body parts, and I haven’t even gotten down to the stove pieces. I have almost 8 hours of trimming in…I did a few hours on Saturday and a few on Sunday…

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And I need to move the already cut pieces back into the other big box. It’s more portable with two smaller boxes, since I was carrying this pile to hair appointments etc. But now, I am back to only cutting out stuff at home. Hopefully I’ll be done and sorted by the end of the week, so I can start ironing together over the weekend.

The wedding was nice, great weather, even a bit warm. The shoes did not survive though. I don’t have much in the way of shoes, so when my mom was going through her closet and cleaning out, both the girlchild and I took some…these made it through less than half of a wedding, unfortunately.

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In case you wanted to see how old shoes die. (They die on Kathy’s feet.)

I’m still doing the year in stitches…that’s Saturday…

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And Sunday…

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No plan. I just randomly stitch. It takes about 5 minutes max. Not bad.

OK, well I have to go to work. On a rainy day, so that’s like torture. Plus a ton of kids won’t show up because (a) they’re still stuck in Mexico due to border closures (protests about gas prices) or (b) because they might melt in the rain or (c) because the first day back doesn’t really matter, right? And it’s a staff meeting day. And my co-teacher is gone all week, because she’s on her honeymoon (which means I should be able to get all that grading done that I didn’t do over break on my prep periods, because I won’t be planning and I’m ultra-efficient…ha!). I am having a really hard time persuading my brain that it doesn’t belong to a full-time artist who works at home every day. It’s convinced that should be the case. Ah yes, brain. I dream of that too…