Thread-Free

June 30, 2016

Well that was a stressful day. Yesterday. No need to test my adaptive abilities. Really. First there’s 8 hours of jackhammering, wherein I almost lost my mind, but then Kitten decides to eat thread.

So I’ve been quilting since I was about 22 years old. I’ve sewn longer than that, largely around cats, so yeah, I’m aware that thread and cats are a bad mix. I’ve had multiple cats over the years who were thread-munchers. Some even tried to get bits out of the trashcans, so I had to work hard to keep it away from them. But these two that I have now…well, Midnight likes the poly/nylon-y stuff, but I never leave that on the sewing machine because that stuff is really bad for them. I’ve pulled it out of a couple of cats who literally stalked the machine until I went to pee, and then went for the thread. It’s one of the reasons I always use the quilt under the machine to cover the machine when I’m not sewing. Cat can’t sit on quilt. Cat can’t eat thread.

But the regular sewing stuff, these two cats have never given a shit about it. They sit back behind the machine all the time and have always left it alone. And Kitten’s been here for 6 years, so I don’t know what bug got in her ear, but I turned around, maybe 5 minutes after she went to sit back there, and she was swallowing black thread like there was no tomorrow. Yeah, I pulled. I’ve pulled (gently of course) on multiple cats and been successful. Not yesterday. It was stuck. Dammit. Well, I cut as much as a could (a foot or so) and then called the vet, who had me call the emergency vet. Damn cat. She’s the most expensive cat I’ve ever owned now, between the nasty dental surgery a few years back (she’s got some genetic thing and had to have 12 teeth removed) and this thread thing. They sedated her, tried to release the thread (it was around her tongue). Pulled gently, it’s stuck. Scoped her. By then it was in her intestines and they couldn’t get at it.

So those who have gone through this realize how much money all this costs, and it’s funny, because I went into this summer for the first time in YEARS (like pre-divorce, baby) feeling like my head was (temporarily, due to upcoming college payments) semi-above water. Well yeah. And that was after the car costs from last month, which were fairly horrendous. But I thought I could get through the summer and actually pay the mortgage and groceries and half of the boychild’s health insurance, due on August 1. Because I’m a teacher, and I don’t get paid until the end of August. Summers always make my guts clench financially. But this year seemed doable (unlike last year, which was a giant clusterfuck until I sold a quilt).

So yeah, Kitten had surgery last night. Luckily it was quick and easy and her intestines weren’t shredded by thread and she’s recovering, but she doesn’t want to eat. And every time the doc calls to update me, they reassure me that they’ll do everything they can to make the cost as low as possible, probably because I completely lost it in the exam room. Well. You know. I guess life just wants to remind me that I am not in control. Like I didn’t already know that.

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She’s making a funny face because she only has one fang and it sometimes gets stuck on her lip.

So I had to get one of those pet loans, which luckily I qualify for, and when I start getting paid again, I’ll pay it off quickly (I’ve done this before)…but it means all the extra money I’m earning now is no longer being put away for college. So there we are. I don’t even have a total cost yet on the cat, but I know it’s bad. But she’s also my baby and my responsibility, so I didn’t really feel like I could do anything else. I know some cats pass these just fine, but it’s not a huge percentage. So the quicker I did stuff, the easier it would be on her.

And yeah, I guess my takeaway is to hide the thread no matter how the cat acts about it for the first 6 years, because cats do stupid shit just like humans do.  And she’s gonna be fine. And I’m gonna find the money somewhere. Here she is just yesterday, schooling Simba in cat/dog interactions.

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I spent the rest of the evening trying to focus on the copyediting, once they stopped jackhammering…Simba is such a goofball.

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Realizing that my ancient keyboard really is nonfunctional if you’re trying to FIND a specific letter or whatever…

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The kids have been complaining about it for years, but whatever. I type mostly from position, not watching keys…it’s been an issue with the copyediting in the last few weeks though, so I had ordered a new one. Work expense. Which I’m now questioning, like I’m going to be questioning every damn penny for the rest of the summer. And it is probably 15 years old. They did come out in 2005…so maybe it’s only 11 years old. Anyway, I must be rough on certain keys…

Girlchild made dinner and the vet called with the post-surgery news in the middle of that. At least it was quick and there were no complications.

After I finished the first run-through on the lesson I was copyediting, I gave myself permission to iron. It was probably 10:30 by then. I did the octopus, the grassy knoll (OK, it’s not really a knoll), a giant artery (the aorta or some version of it anyway), and the cactus. There’s some cactus pieces.

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While I was working, I was listening to and watching a few of the Coursera courses I’m signed up for this summer. I’m taking two basic college chemistry classes, because I will be teaching a lot more of that this coming year, and I’m decidedly shaky on it. I haven’t had chemistry since high school and I was never great at it, which might make you worry about my teaching it, but trust me…I’ll understand it or I’ll figure it out as I go. I didn’t know anything really about light before I started teaching it, and I did OK. The new standards move the content around quite a bit, and it’s hard to go from being a life science teacher to being a middle-school, 7th-grade science teacher in the days of NGSS if your background is biology. So I’m working on it. Boychild keeps trying to answer my questions, which mostly center around WHY, proving I haven’t changed at all from high school. WHY do electrons do that? WHY do they get excited. WHY do we call it light when it’s really EM radiation? Or IS it? Fuck. I’m still in lesson 1. Let’s hope I figure it out. I have a couple of books from NSTA called Faking It…written specifically for teachers who have to teach this stuff. I might want to read them quickly.

I’m also taking a class called Sexing the Canvas, about art and gender, which not surprisingly, I know quite a bit about. So I watched some videos, did some math (ugh), and took a quiz last night. I think I’m gonna fail the chemistry quizzes, but I’m really just trying to get the concepts more than understand how to work all the equations. We don’t do a lot of equations in 7th grade. I think. I’m OK with failing my first college class (not for credit) at 49 years old.

So I’m in the low 1300s now in the pieces…coming up is a lung and a tiger and then…well…Kitten…because she’s been in a ton of my quilts.

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And I hope she’s in a ton more of them. Thread-free.


It May Take Me a Few Days…

June 17, 2016

Someone just texted me that phrase “cold hard facts are hard to ignore” as I told her the results of a particularly long and difficult email exchange with a parent (school ain’t over ’til the parent believes we can’t change any grades). But my editor brain wants to change one of the hard’s to difficult or something else, because they’re too close together. Ironically, although I’m on vacation, I just bid on a copyediting job that would start today and go hard and fast until some time next week. So much for rest and relaxation, eh? But I have to find some way to pay those college bills. At least the book is not about school (although it appears to be a textbook of sorts). I’ll know later today if I got it. That’s a tough one, because although I need the work, I really also need time OFF.

Oh well. This is how it rolls. So I had quilt class last night, after teacher last-day party and counseling, and I didn’t feel well, so we basically sat and talked, which I think teachers need to do on the last day of school, spill it all so you don’t have to take it home with you. And I got nothing done. Until I got home and felt better with a cup of tea inside me, and then managed to spend an hour or so cutting out tiny pieces of Wonder Under.

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I don’t even think I’ve cut out 2 full pieces yet of the 6. Yeah, I’m a little behind. What can I do? I’ll be a lot behind if I get the copyediting job. I just checked…I’ve been trimming Wonder Under for just under 5 hours and I barely have 2 yards done, so based on that, the estimate I made earlier of 15 hours seems pretty accurate.

I came out of the office at some point to this…

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Yes, she has two animals ON her and another very close. And she doesn’t seem to mind.

Really it’s impossible NOT to have multiple animals on you at the moment.

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He’s a very lovey dog. Here the boychild has whispered him to sleep…

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This dog is good baby experience. He’s freakin’ hyper all over the place, then gets cranky, then wants to bite all your parts, and then falls asleep because you’re rubbing his belly.

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Anyway. Today is technically my first day of summer (yay!), so I should use it wisely. Although honestly, I still need to go to school to check out and then watch the girlchild get her hair dyed and cut (thought about trying to cut out Wonder Under there, but it’s really not set up for it), then I have something to do tonight. And if I get the job, I’ll be copyediting all afternoon. Maybe I can schedule drawing breaks. Or nap breaks, because I’m still exhausted. Sitting on the deck breaks. Reading my book breaks. Holy shit I really need a break breaks.

Because I can’t even think coherently at the moment and I just posted about five puppy pictures, proof that I have no working brain. OK, off to work to figure out if my room is clean enough, bring my plants home so I can kill them with neglect here, and hand my computer over so they can try to make it work better.

It may take me a few days to feel like I’m on vacation.


One Less Problem

June 15, 2016

So you know how you hear one of the animals puking in the morning and you think, oh hell no, I don’t want to deal with that, but you also have a few dogs lying around and you know that if you don’t deal with it, they will, which sometimes is a good thing, but if I think about it at all, it grosses me out, so I have to go out there and clean up whatever it is by whomever is the puker?

Well that’s this morning.

I’m exhausted, I have all the stress signs except a twitchy eye (that’s probably coming), and luckily I only have to teach for three periods today. I hate this last week because everyone is showing movies and I’m still teaching STDs and how the hell are we supposed to do anything BUT let them do whatever they want when grades were already due and OMG was that fun, because of the two boys who only JUST realized they were failing and were not failing by much, but didn’t turn in any makeup work at all and were missing multiple warmups (easy fix, seriously).

THE DRAMA. I’m a little over it. Awards ceremony today, which is why there are 504 cookies, 10 gallons of juice, and 500 napkins in my prep room. Never let me volunteer for that shit again. Yeah. I know. I will. Someone’s got to do it. Then tomorrow is just survival.

I hate the last week of school.

I did come home and go to the gym and finish my book. Those were good things. And ate a decent meal. And then settled down on the couch with Outlander and a puppy, with a big fat dog at my feet…

I cut out one full yard and part of the next one…

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It’s slow going. Especially when I think that I have 5 more yards to cut out. The pieces are in the bin and the trash is on the lid.

Puppy slept and barked and slept and tried to bite and got distracted and slept. The kids found a tick on him today, reminding me that he’s not on any flea/tick medicine. One more thing to deal with.

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Side view…cutting on my lap, where the dog wanted to be.

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Alas, the cutting must happen, dear puppy, or I will never get to the next phase, which is one of my favorites…the ironing of fabric to the Wonder Under. I wish I could guess when I might get to that, but at the moment, I can’t imagine getting 15 hours done any time soon. I’ll probably get an hour or so done tonight. Thursday is a clusterfuck followed by a meeting. Friday is up in the air. We check out and usually it doesn’t take long, but sometimes it does. And I have stuff Friday afternoon and evening. I think at some point I will just collapse and sleep for three days. Hopefully that will wait until after school ends, though it seems questionable right now that I will make it that long.

This is the song that’s banging through my head…think on that…


The Light…

June 13, 2016

Amusing that I last posted about blurry, because now my camera won’t take anything BUT blurry pictures (it’s not me…it’s the technology). Frustrating. I kill cameras quickly. I don’t even think it’s a year old, so I’ll chase down the warranty and see what I can do. Meanwhile, the phone takes OK pictures, so I can use that.

There are four days of school left. I have 700 things left to do in four days, but I’m sure it will be OK. Most of my grades are done…which is good, because they’re due tomorrow. I finished printing all the certificates. I still have a field trip today, teaching tomorrow and most of the next day, an award ceremony, and that hellish last day when we have our kids for just over 3 hours with nothing real to do.

I worked my butt off yesterday getting stuff done because I could see the light at the end of the tunnel…the vacation light. The light of no more grading. Of no more lesson plans. Of no more trying to get all the tech to work and the kids to behave. Such a relief this year. OK. Probably every year I feel this way; I just forget it until it’s upon me.

One of my quilts is in an article in Textile Fibre Forum

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An article by Tanya Brown on Censorship in Art…with my One Paycheck nice and big in the front…

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Of course, this picture is blurry. My fault. It’s a good article, especially for those who make abstract or less in-your-face art (although I don’t consider nudity “in your face”)…if you don’t realize this is happening because it doesn’t happen to you. Certainly the notion of ART in the quilt world is still troubled. Hopefully that will change over time.

I finished tracing Wonder Under last night for the new big quilt…

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Just over 19 hours to trace…I think I thought it would be 20 hours, so not a bad guess. There are 6 yards of Wonder Under that now need to be trimmed. The last two pieces had lots of big pieces on them from the hair and the sun. In fact, I don’t think I filled all of the last piece. So I’ll start cutting out tonight. I wanted to be done cutting out “by the time I got out of school”. Well technically my last day is Friday, but it usually only takes me about 20 minutes to check out…so we’ll see. I’m figuring 15 hours to cut the pieces out, so that’s a lot to do this week, but I am mostly done with school crap…so that will help. Being able to come home and do NOTHING that is school-related…that is bliss. Seriously. I can’t even tell you.

I started working on Owl 3.0 as well…a commission pulled from the most recent drawing. There’s an owl on the left side, under a rib and a Fallopian tube. I drew the whole thing out and numbered it.

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It’s 102 pieces, which is not bad. A lot of them will be the same color, so it won’t take long to pick fabrics and iron. I’m going to start tracing it tonight before I put the light table top back on.

Puppy was deeply asleep while I graded yesterday. I guess he got tired out on Saturday and Sunday morning.

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We are up to three dogs for the week. We were a little worried because my parents’ dog, Katie (on the right), had been bullying Simba when we visited on Sunday, but they’ve been fine…

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Calli is the alpha dog (well, behind the humans). Simba is a spaz and the older dogs school him. Katie is kind of a freak sometimes, but they’ve been doing well with three adults to entertain them.

So yeah, not the most relaxing week, but it helps to see into the future, where sleep happens and reading books and shee-it. I keep dreaming of the same stuff. No Jamaican beaches and fruity cocktails. Just don’t make me get up early and teach for a few weeks. Please.


Blurry

June 11, 2016

Last night was just blurry. All the pictures are blurry. My eyes are still blurry this morning, not enough sleep. But I’m almost done dammit! With so many things! Tracing and school. Yeah. So I have 9 minutes before I have to leave for a student thing (yes, on a weekend, unpaid), but this is how I roll. If you had 9 minutes, you might stroll through Facebook or play your game online, or maybe you’d throw in a load of laundry (that would be smart, but I only do laundry on Sundays), but I sit down and START writing a post, even though I know I won’t finish, because if I get a draft on here with pictures, while I’m standing around at this student thing, I can maybe write the rest of it! No seriously. I guess I don’t have much down time.

And yes, I’m looking forward to having most of 8 weeks off (it won’t all be OFF, for sure, because school trainings are poking their ugly heads in already). It will be nice to not be panicking on a Sunday afternoon about prep for the week, it will be nice not to have to consider grading papers EVERY SINGLE NIGHT (seriously people, that’s how it rolls). I would love to come home and NOT think about my job, but that is such a rare occurrence…we really do need summer to recharge so we can go at it balls out for another 10 months. I work every Spring and Winter break. I work through Thanksgiving. I work almost every weekend during the school year. Summer is a fucking relief. I can’t afford to go anywhere, but at least I can relax for a time. I figure we have about 183 days of school (actual days, not counting weekends) and I work for at least 1-3 hours almost every night or morning during the school year, so that’s an extra 366 hours a year (or 9 weeks of 40-hour weeks…I don’t ever work a 40-hour week). Plus weekends probably average 4 hours of work…So let’s say 40 weekends times 4 hours is another 160 hours or 4 weeks there. Honestly, we work a full year of hours in less than a year and don’t get paid for those extra weeks of work. No paycheck until August! Whoo!

So yeah. Don’t begrudge me my time. Jealous? Hey. Come teach my class for a week. This week! I dare you.

So I traced last night…getting into the low 1800s.

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I’m up into the head area, so only about 150 pieces left. I want it DONE.

So I can then spend 15 hours cutting them all out.

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Sounds relaxing, doesn’t it? Plus reading books and drawing and sitting on the deck and long hikes and not having to deal with school!!! OK, my brain is already on vacation. I still need to finish grades and I have 46 more awards to type and print out, and there’s a field trip and the last day and I need to come up with 500 cookies. So it’s not free time yet…it’s still in overdrive.

Midnight does not do overdrive.

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OK. Gotta go now…I’m a minute late.


Can’t Be Done Yet

June 8, 2016

One of my quilts, One Paycheck, is included in a book that is coming out just now, Quilts and Human Rights

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I had forgotten about this…with communication stretching back to 2014, it’s not surprising, right? One Paycheck is about being homeless and a mom. I’m looking forward to reading the book and seeing some of the other quilts that were included.

So when I’m slogging through the last two weeks of teaching or a pile of awards and my printer’s being cranky or driving around doing errands even though I asked a kid to do one of them…it’s cool to get an email that reminds you that yeah, you make art, and sometimes it matters. Plus I got into a book!

Oh man, I went to bed too late…second time this week. I told you, my brain is already on summer break. It just can’t figure out why I’m getting up so early in the morning. But I finished most of the team’s academic awards last night…now I just need to do the fun awards and hope my printer cartridge doesn’t run out in the middle of it (you know it will).

Back to the tracing of course…

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I know this phase is totally boring for my readers. Like every day, she shows us another picture of Wonder Under lying on a light table and her pencil. And maybe a cat or a cup of tea or her phone. Like SHEESH woman, get on with it.

And then I try to get creative…like there’s the three yards of filled-up traced pieces that I get to start cutting out at some point, right?

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And a close up so you can reiterate to yourself how crazy I am…like some of those pieces are crazy tiny and what the hell is she thinking, and holy crap, they’re numbered in the 1300s or something.

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But here’s the thing. This is one of the most calming, meditative parts of the quiltmaking process for me. I don’t have to think very hard about colors or ironing, it doesn’t hurt my hand like cutting stuff out does…it’s just meditation. Which is probably what I need right now. My SIL said I sounded cranky last night and I was. Still am this morning. It’s the nature of the beast…the end-of-year teacher. Too much to do in too little time. Not enough of the relaxation I need right now. Really, honestly, right now I need a nap. Yes, I know it’s only 7:30 in the morning, but shit. I’m tired. And done. And I can’t be done yet. Really. I can’t. I can’t.

I’m through piece 1300-something. Another hour in. Traced an octopus, some arteries, some grass, one lung, and some cactus. I have the tiger left to do on one breast and then the heart and the whole other side (breast plus arm). Plus the head. Then I’m done meditating and on to cutting.


Relief in Sight…

June 7, 2016

Workload increases…deadlines abound. I feel like I’m going to drop ALL the balls. I’m in the middle of printing out 25 bingo cards for graduation…we have the kids play graduation speech bingo. What words would you put in that? It’s kind of amusing. Plus plans for awards and field trips and all that stuff. It’s all whirling around in my head, as I dream of the Saturday AFTER all that. Even the Friday, because all we do is check out, although that’s kind of overwhelming in itself: room clean, books counted, technology signed off or out. Turn in your bandaids! God forbid we be trusted to hold onto those over the summer (OK, it’s more logical than that…they do refill all our first-aid kids over the summer…but all I used were bandaids). I might panic soon. Except there’s no point.

Lots of changes for next year…again, I could panic, but why? This is what three years of meditation and counseling can do for you.

I graded quite a bit yesterday, plus we took the dogs for a walk and saw the baby owls that have been growing up in a tree on that walk. It’s the first time I’ve been able to see them, so that was cool. See if you can find three owls in the photo below…

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And there’s one in this photo…

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The one time I don’t bring my normal camera. Sigh. And then this hawk as well…

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It was a wildlife-filled hike.

I ended up having to do dinner because girlchild was sunburnt…it’s interesting how many times we plan to have her make dinner and I do it instead, but it’s some weird recipe SHE was gonna do, and then she comes in and helps for the last bit, mostly to plate it, but whatever. So that was last night. And then I was sitting on the couch post-dinner, really trying to motivate myself to stand up, and I saw a show announcement, but it was due this week, and it has to be mailed (so old school), so I got up and did that. Entering online is so much easier than making CDs and packing them up, but whatever. And it’s a long shot, but why not try?

So it was still a late start on the tracing front, but I was efficient last night. This is my normal setup, although most times it’s tea, not wine.

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Phone (keeps track of time and distracts me when I get bored), drink, mechanical pencil, Wonder Under, drawing…TV is off to the top right. Another distraction.

I filled almost this whole yard with tiny pieces of tracing…

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Last night was…um…the crane, all of it, all 100+ pieces of it, and then a piece of seaweed.

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It doesn’t sound like much when I put it that way, but I’m almost through the 1100s now, so well past halfway. I did about 200 pieces in less than an hour and a half. Lots of feathers last night. At this rate, I would be done in four nights, but I also know that at least two of those nights might be a wash. Plus I still have to do student awards and those take FOREVER.

But progress it is. I’m looking forward to the week of the 20th, when I have no school and plenty of time to iron to fabric…plus I should be able to draw as well. What a relief.


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