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.

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.

Out in the Wind

So I spent this weekend in 29 Palms helping to install a labyrinth our fearless leader Linda Litteral has been working on for months. Our ex-fearless leader, Anna Stump, has started an artists’ residency out there on a property she’s been cleaning up for a while. The landscape speaks to you, whether you want it to or not. This is all part of the art group Feminist Image Group that I’ve belonged to for about 7 or 8 years, when I was looking for somewhere to show my work that didn’t write me off as a porn artist (the quilt shows, because of the nudity) or a crafter (the art shows, because of the quilts). It’s a supportive and accepting group that is growing every year. The pandemic might have slowed our exhibitions down a bit (there’s one still trapped in the downtown library), but we are all still making in one way or another.

I have about a million photos to process and no real time for it this morning, so this smidgeon will have to do. A 3-hour drive up and back, my first In ‘N Out since March? February? No seats in the house.

It’s OK. You’re supposed to eat it in the car.

We stayed in a quirky barely-more-than-one-room AirBnb about 3 miles from the dairy.

It was a funky place, probably one of the cabins originally built so you could get a free 5 acres.

Concrete floors, painted…

Well a little bit…

Headed out earlyish the next morning to haul rocks…

Literally drove out a ways, opened up the back of the car, picked up rocks, drove them back to the labyrinth where Linda placed them. This is where I heard they had called Biden/Harris for the win. There was some yelling! A miracle? Not really. So many people still OK with Trump-level hatred and behavior. I’m not OK with it. And this isn’t a solve…we can’t go back to standard Democrat government…because it didn’t solve a lot of the issues in schools, in communities, for people of color, for immigrants. We need to work on this country…and I don’t know how to get people to see that only focusing on your fear of different or of losing “what you have” is not a healthy way to live. But let’s hope we can move forward…I don’t have a lot of faith in the far right, the group that promotes white supremacy and shooting people and Let’s Make America White Again. It didn’t start out that way, y’all. And we aren’t special enough for it to go that way. And damn, the environment, people’s rights…ALL people. Shee-it, it’s gonna take some time to fix some of the last 4 years of crazy. And for people to find the love for their species. All that went through my head in the middle of this labyrinth.

We had a tour of the place, and by then, the wind had picked up and it was hard to be out there. I was expecting more work, but there were a goodly number of us and it went quickly.

The man wanted to hike up in Joshua Tree, but got up there and encountered hail and rain, and was warned of snow (it never rained on us, OK, maybe a few drops in the afternoon), so he gave up, came and got me, and we watched bad and OK movies while I drew…I finished this one from earlier in the week.

There’s the rocks! IDK what is going on with the tree, but her face is good. Sometimes I just draw.

We debated venturing out into the cold, still a bit windy, to make a fire, and decided to stay warm.

The next morning, I was out at the dairy earlyish again for the dedication of the labyrinth. We had a video guy out there with a drone and he recorded us walking it a few times.

We also recorded our artist statements for our particular pieces in the labyrinth…

There’s mine, officially untitled. Then they recorded us again inside, because the wind had really picked up and I suspect some of us are hard to hear.

I have loads more photos and will get them on the FIG blog hopefully later this week.

And the video, whenever it’s done. I can’t say I love the desert, but it is fascinating. And we keep coming out to Joshua Tree and having weather issues. The last was hot (in February)…this was the opposite. The wonder of a land that is so harsh and beautiful.

Long drive back, I’m so exhausted now, I can’t even tell you. But it was worth it to see the piece in person and help put it together. The animals were glad to see us. Nova is hiding here.

“You can’t see me.” Hmmm. Kitty butt. Oh yeah, and I drew this on Saturday.

I actually have a way I want to redraw this…we’ll see if it works.

This week is a weird one. We get Veteran’s Day on Wednesday off, which fucks up schedules for the kids…some of them have two days of instruction and some have three, so I have to do something that will help the group that gets more, but not harm the ones who don’t. I did some school planning in 29 Palms…had to…grades were mostly done (they’re due tomorrow), but I hadn’t planned much. I don’t feel ready to start teaching in an hour and 18 minutes, but it’s not like that’s gonna go away. I’ll get it done. Hopefully. I am totally exhausted. Went to bed early last night but didn’t sleep well. My body is tired, my brain even more so. Somehow by tomorrow, I’ll have to get my head around planning the next week of school…not even sure how. I don’t feel good about this year, I’m having a hard time making sure the kids are connecting with the curriculum, the assignments…I know a goodly chunk of them are connecting with me, because of emails and chats in Zoom, but it’s so hard not seeing them. Plus I feel like I’m talking to myself half the time. Trying to get them to answer on Zoom is like pulling teeth.

Well, I get a flu shot today, finally…couldn’t get in before now. My left eye is twitching…not a good sign. I need to pack up two quilts for a local show and another to ship it out of here. Got paid for it and am happy to send her to a new home…just need to get the slats and a box, I think. Yikes. Then hopefully draw the second iteration of the second drawing above, and maybe start making something. Kinda driving me crazy not having that to go to in the evening. My fault for not being able to make a decision. So on with it!

I Might Even Be OK with It…

Did you see a dog was elected major of some town in Kentucky? Seems a better choice than some. Still waiting, America…still waiting.

For the first time ever in my teaching existence, I finished grades the day the gradebook opened. Why? Because I am leaving this afternoon to drive to 29 Palms for an art installation I have work in, and I still have to plan for next week (which often takes anywhere from 6-15 hours). Can’t do it while I drive or while I install/help. Honestly not sure how it will get done. I can teach one of the three subjects on Monday as is…the other two will take a little work. Then if I have to catch up during prep, I can. I feel like I’m always playing catchup though. It’s affecting my ability to do everything: make art, fix things around the house, answer freakin’ email. And then a counselor asks how many times I’ve contacted parents about a kid who rarely shows up to class, and I’m like, if you can tell me how to find one email on the app we use to contact parents? I’ll tell you that answer. But I have over 200 to dig through, most with multiple blind-copied recipients, and I can’t figure out how to search easily. So I don’t have time for that. This morning is a potentially contentious meeting and I’m not ready for it, but I have 22 minutes before that. Write fast!

Here’s the piece that’s being installed at the Labyrinth our fearless leader is building…

Should be an interesting weekend. I’ll be taking my sketchbook and my school computer and the man who lives with me.

No cats though. This was the night after election night. Turn off the TV, can’t watch the numbers, just put lines on paper. I still haven’t decided what to work on next. I’m flailing.

Next week. I will figure it out.

There’s this…

It’ll be in the Winter issue. The real live show that was going to be out where my daughter is? That’s gone virtual, unfortunately. I also got into another local show, so more will be coming on that. AND…finally got the photos back of COVID Daughters from the photographer…

She’ll be off to her new owner next week.

This bread had to come out 5 minutes early because I had to start teaching. I suck at bread scheduling.

Interesting spaceship on top.

Wednesday night, I walked in the dark. I worked until just about 5 with my coworker and the time change is a fucker, isn’t it?

Took my headlamp. Made it most of the way without it. Honestly it’s for the cars so they will see me.

Luna love while I’m trying to work…

So helpful. She and her sister played a game of Under as well.

IDK who won.

I really expected Simba to fight this more…

Girlchild wanted him to dress up as a panda apparently.

We’ve been getting these spectacular sunsets lately…

There’s probably something bad we’re doing to the environment to cause them.

I’ll leave you with this…

Motivational sayings on product boxes? OK.

Today? Teach. All day. Hopefully I know what I’m doing. Pack and drive a lot. Sleep. Tomorrow art in a socially distanced manner. Desperately try to plan for teaching next week in between all that. It’ll be fine. I might even be OK with it.

The Properties of Glass…

Hey America. How are you this morning? I am (sort of…not really…let’s not lie, unlike our governmental officials) patiently waiting for everyone’s vote to count. I wish they counted without the electoral college, but that hasn’t happened yet. So we wait. And as we wait, we wonder how so many people are OK with racism…are OK with destroying the environment…are OK with the number of people dying of COVID (we’re winning on that one, thank you, Mr. President and those of your ilk)…are OK with the rich getting more and the poor getting less…are OK with kids in cages and doctors performing illegal hysterectomies…are OK with the LIES. If you can’t tell the truth, what does that say about what you are doing?

Deep breaths. I teach today. I function today. I went to pilates yesterday to force my body to release some of its tension…but also to the class where someone tested positive three weeks ago. It was a small class and the guy who can’t keep his mask on and was hugging everyone out front three weeks ago was not in class. A relief for me. I’ve only once said something to someone about their mask issues. But yesterday was going to be the second time if he came in with it covering only his chin. The shield wearers? Yeah. Well. While exercising mostly lying on your back, that shield is useless. But OK. I do wonder which of the 5 other people in class was the one who tested positive.

It’s so exhausting being on all the time. I miss teacher days when I didn’t have to directly instruct everyone at once, when I could assign something and then walk around and sit with kids for a while and try to suss out where they were. It’s hard on Zoom, hard to get a sense of why this kid copied the whole assignment from the internet, or why that kid isn’t listening at all. I’m mostly managing chat and kids who are on the wrong document or asking questions I’ve already answered. Well that part is normal. Yesterday I spent about 4 hours grading some larger assignments, some art and some science, and I got to this point of standing to grade, dancing around a little bit because it was all driving me nuts, staring at things, trying to decide yes or no? Did they do it? Did they get close? Are they totally off? I have another chunk today, plus I need to make a few more videos. I made one last night, but the glare from the overhead lights were an issue, so I’ll redo it today. Ugh. I think about what I enjoyed about my job before and it was the interactions with kids, the moment when they sort of got it, and it’s so hard to see those right now. Occasionally when something is turned in and I grade it, I’ll see it. Otherwise, it’s just not there. The in-person teachers are getting that spark and I’m not…they’re getting daily connections and I’m not. Not enough of them.

My country, my job. Sigh. I really do need to decide on the next art project and start it for real, because my brain is in a bad place right now. I did number the two pieces I copied…

This one has about 130 pieces, I think? Not much. The bigger one has 919.

One of the issues is that to use my light table right now, I have to take all of the school stuff off of it, and then put half of it back the next morning, so that’s a pain in the ass. It’s worth it, yes…

When I was numbering, I just shoved it over…you can see some of it on the right…but to trace, I need to take the top board off. That’s harder. Usually I just leave it off until I’m done tracing. I’m not sure I can do that now.

We’ll see. I’ll adapt again. I keep doing that. My district has a woman who sends a motivational email once a week to all of us. Last week’s was some assholular drivel about how I can manage my time better (fuck you, district…stop adding to my load and maybe I could make some time for myself) and this week is about change being a good thing because it leads to progress. Well, sometimes by revolution and fire, yes…but too many changes overwhelm and burn out your staff. I’ve never been this burnt out in November.

There’s some bitchy tiny pieces in this one. It’s OK. They are easier to trace, right? Use less fabric. Take less time to cut out. Positive fucking attitude y’all.

Last night, I tried to make a video of drawing this grid…it’s sitting on top of the graphite zendoodle warmup that I did as a sample for the kids…

I will have to do it again today. And make a video showing them how to insert numbers in their PDF selfie files. And then teach them how to draw faces, which sounds exhausting and really hard to do on Zoom. The art teacher is being wonderful and making videos for her kids that I can use too, which is good, because I’ve never taught face drawing, self portraits like this. So on top of a new science curriculum that SUCKS…reading the essays yesterday, I’m like, I want a CER that makes fucking sense. This is awful. Remind me of that when I get to the end of this unit. Fuck the curriculum and write something better. If I have the energy. Do I have the energy? Do I have the brain power?

I don’t know.

OK, so today is grading the rest of the CERs (claim, evidence, reasoning, for those who care), fending off 30 emails about kids wanting to redo work over and over again or pissed because they didn’t do well, reining in my brain from thinking it’s all my fault they can’t do it (because two kids got perfect scores…so something I’m saying and giving them is connecting), trying to plan for next week, wondering if I’m driving to 29 Palms by myself this weekend, telling myself to just keep drawing every night, even if you’re tired, get the fuck up off the damn couch and draw something. Find patience in your head. Push the other shit into the corner and just do your job the best you can and find a way to be at peace for now. I don’t have to accept it…if that asshole continues to be President, I will not accept it. I can’t imagine where we will be in 4 years if that happens. My poor country. My poor environment. People’s rights, for fuck’s sake. The harassment that I see here in East County. Sigh.

In other news, there was a gecko. It was a very exciting experience that involved my three pitiful plants having a cat land in them.

Y’all, the gecko got away. I tried to explain the properties of glass to the cats, but they were as oblivious as a 7th grader listening to their science teacher give instructions.

The changes I need to make are here in my head. I can make them. And wait. Wait for a better time.

Shooing Snakes

It’s interesting that my brain is sure I should be up earlier on a Monday and tries to make me wake up and succeeds because as soon as any coherent part of it wakes up, it starts to worry about work and how to get it all done…that said, I was dreaming about snakes of all sizes everywhere and the dogs and cats were on them and chasing them and I was afraid one of the snakes was a rattler (they were all rattlers) and would strike, so I was running around, moving cats and dogs and shooing snakes.

If that isn’t a metaphor for life right now, I don’t know what is.

I spent a few hours last night trying to organize and finalize these gridded selfies for my Advanced Art kids, emailed all of the ones I had (28/38), planned the week for both art classes (as much as that ever seems to work), spent hours on science, made two videos, I have another 4-6 videos I need to make today and tomorrow for art, I think. I wrote it down. Graded nothing since Friday night…although I graded during gaming, the easy stuff, not the thinking stuff. Nobody should be grading thinking stuff on a Friday night. Gaming, being watched by the dog (she needed to pee), bouncing back and forth on the Mac between game info and what I was grading.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’m gone this weekend, although I do have wifi, and grades are due in a week. So I need to not only plan for next week, which is usually multiple hours of stuff, but grade everything that counts for this trimester and input it all. Fun stuff. You wish you were me.

Halloween for the students.

I would have worn the lemur costume but (a) they only see my head anyway and (b) it was warm on Friday.

On actual Halloween, I exercised, twice actually, did some art stuff, got interviewed for an art video thing…the Schweinfurth Art Center is currently showing Quilts=Art=Quilts, and here is my piece, Swallow Me Whole hung in that space.

They have a cool tour of the show you can see on their website here. Check it out. They’re editing all my words down to a reasonable amount (you know how that goes). I’ll let you know when it posts.

Strangely, Friday night, after gaming, I had energy. I had enlarged a couple of things, still debating what to do next. This drawing from a staff meeting got an extended body…

And I did enlarge the third possible COVID quilt.

It’s smaller than the last one, but it’s complicated. That’s not a bad thing in general. I’m debating.

Size comparisons…

I found out about another show I should enter, but the theme is not something my head is processing right now. So I don’t know.

Saturday also involved getting a nail out of my tire and a 3-mile hike in nature.

Luckily it was late enough that most people had left nature for their Halloween parties.

I’m not kidding. My neighbors threw one. Fifteen kids. We left candy in a bowl in the driveway.

This guy kept eyeballing us, but was much more interested in finding food.

The sky was beautiful.

The neighbors were mostly quiet…impressive, considering the candy consumption that must have happened. We ate out (outside…still not going into a restaurant) and then I sat and drew for my Patreon…

Nova kept trying to crawl into my lap…but eventually I got something done.

Scanned it, cleaned it up, posted it.

Hi Nova. Then Sunday was all school, all the time, in between phone calls and groceries. I finished sending those 28 emails to art students at 9:45 PM or so…which was really an hour later in Kathy brain time. I rode the stationary bike for exercise…gotta incorporate that back in. I got lazy or overwhelmed or whatever.

Then I tried to draw, got the sketchbook out, put it on the couch, found my pen, and Kitten was lying on it.

Straight up, I didn’t have the energy to draw anyway. School really kicked my ass yesterday, on a Sunday. It was just hard. It feels never-ending, like there’s never a break, and when I take a break, then I’m on again for just hours to catch up, and I never catch up. I don’t ever see the kids in person, just online, which is hard for me. I do have relationships with kids, but it’s not the same. I worry about some, I worry too hard about some I should probably just stop worrying about, I try too hard sometimes. Need to let some of those balls drop so I can survive this workload. The plusses of having a team support with all the little stuff, with the kids, with someone to talk to about school or kids; the co-teacher helping with planning stuff and making posts and assignments. That’s all gone. New curriculum, no curriculum, no materials, no support. Exhausted. I’ll be 1/3 of the way through the year on Friday. The vast expanse of time that unfolds before me in this school year…sigh. I do think about quitting. I do. I always expected to teach until I retired. I think I will…but as a high-risk person, I wonder how long it will be before I can go back…if ever.

I need to start the next art quilt. Even if it’s just that little Boom so I have something to work on. I need to start. I need a place for my brain to rest at the end of the day besides this crap.