She Totally Confused All the Passing Piranhas*

December 10, 2016

You know what’s annoying? Every time we make some sort of laminated card thing for class, where every table gets X number of cards in a bag and then they have to do stuff with them…every single damn time, we end up with cards getting lost. We laminate them because we want to reuse them every year, but middle-schoolers basically guarantee that we will have to first of all, count every damn bag out (this is what a TA is for), then figure out what card or cards are missing from each bag, and then make X number of extra sets to fill in the blanks. I hate that shit. It’s an organizing nightmare, and we don’t have time for it. At all.

Yes, there are only five days of school until Winter Break. I thought I was getting this huge copyediting job this Tuesday, and I knew break was going to be difficult. Hard to find time for art, because I would have to work. And both kids are coming home. But then that job got pushed out…again…I think that’s the third time. And now break is free (well as free as it ever is…still gotta grade). So that’s a bit of a relief. I’m trying not to think about how I’m going to do that copyediting job without any vacation time to focus on it, but whatever. I’ll deal with that when it actually shows up.

Meanwhile, our students are going bonkers because it’s almost break and Christmas and all that. I did remind them that not everyone does Christmas. What?! Their shock was evident. The bonkers kid behavior is not pleasant. Teachers do not enjoy that. I guess the fact that they will have to take home progress reports next week might help, but not based on what I’ve seen in the last week.

My patience is worn thin. I know it, at least, and try to make myself relax as much as I can, both during school and after school. I feel like all I do at school is hug kids and wipe tears some days, and I’m not really the mama bear on campus. So you know they’re desperate. I’m the one you come to for sex ed or weird science questions…

Anyway, so I was motivated last night to get through grades (I still have about 100 emails to deal with), so that took a few hours. I also wanted to get a tree, but last year, I got zero help from the kids in decorating it, and I also knew I didn’t want another big tree, because between having my (not elderly…they’re not…but knee surgeries etc means they shouldn’t be down on the floor trying to make the tree stand straight) parents help and doing it myself, plus the puppy…I’m pretty sure he will just want to take all the ball-shaped ornaments and destroy them…so I knew it needed to be up off the ground and smaller. I can’t put it on my light table, dammit, because I need that. So I have this desk that I’ve wanted to clear off for a while. It has a pile of crap (they always do) and the third computer in the house, one that’s never used. So I unhooked everything and moved it around, clearing the surface.

And like all trees, within about 5 minutes of getting it up there, one cat appeared.


The next one was not far behind.

It was still not easy to get everything out of the garage…I start thinking about what needs to happen before I get really old (I barely got the Xmas decoration box down without braining myself). My SIL said I should separate out all the kids’ ornaments this year into one box for each kid (she’s already done this, and her kids are 5+ years younger than mine) so that when they do move out, it’s not a pain to figure out what’s what. That would help. Smaller containers too…and not on the top shelf. But all that means trying to clear out the garage, which just terrifies me. It does need help.

Now did I get lights on the tree? Hell no. Too tired. Ate dinner, finished some section of the grading (probably 4 or 5 more hours to go, unfortunately)…and then sat down. Within seconds, I had Simba and Midnight competing for lap space. He used to bite her, but then I started praising his boisterous ear cleaning, which Midnight actually seems to like. So now he does it all the time. Her ears are very clean. Sparkling even.


But none of this behavior is conducive to my getting anything done. She eventually settled on one side…


With him on the other. Room for the sketchbook. Awesome.


At some point, I realized I was too tired to draw, though, so another early night. Trying to stay well and get what I need. It’s a difficult balance. Today especially…going to an educator meeting to prepare for the next four years of attacks. Mind-boggling looking at the people being chosen to lead us, people with no experience in reality. One of my high-school classmates posted some idiotic statement about the new Secretary of Education, that she must be good because the teacher unions were going nuts. Sigh. So yes, I refrained from bitch-slapping him, because I reminded myself that he was ignorant. Many people are. And if you think deVos is a good choice, come spend a week in my classroom and see what it’s really like. I have to deal with enough clueless people at my job (OK, most of them are 12, but not ALL of them). You should educate yourself before you spout nonsense. And the attacks on science annoy me too. No one on any governmental science committee should NOT be a scientist. Fire their asses. They’re incompetent and ignorant. Should be a good meeting.

But here’s where I got last night. I think I’m ready to enlarge this part and add to the top and bottom…well, and sides. Yeah. Which means not sitting on the couch, unfortunately…but whatever. Puppy will miss me.


Midnight will just try to sit on the drawing. She vomited on the last one. That was nice. Yeah. And I think I have three social things tonight, although one is with total strangers, crashing another company party (actually I think I’m allowed to crash this one). I’m going to take my stitching to the educator meeting to keep me calm and focused.

As far as finishing the drawing, I think it’s going to be a few days at least. I might get time this afternoon, but I doubt it. And I draw better at night for some reason…so if I finish grades, Sunday night? Anyway, maybe I’ll be tracing sometime this week? I hope so. I want this one done by the end of Winter Break. Seriously. That’s crazy, of course, but it’s what I want. Maybe I’ll be uber-efficient on vacation for once. You never know. It could happen.

*The Presidents of the United States of America, Lump

Or So I’ve Been Told*

December 9, 2016

So I’m trying to avoid all the illnesses that are flowing through my school. I can’t afford to be sick. Well, no one can, it’s true…but with grades due and having to plan lessons out into late January right now, I’m feeling some pressure to be on top of my game every single day. And I’m tired. I went to bed early last night…I graded all night basically and I didn’t have any energy to try and art after all that. (Plus I just sneezed. Massively. Not good.)

I did get good news yesterday though. I was sitting there, trying to write a quiz for next week that didn’t involve asking a question about unicorn farts (although there is a unicorn question in there), and a ton of my quilt art friends were posting about getting into the big 50 years of art quilts retrospective book. And I’m scrolling through my email, going, dammit, I didn’t get in. No email. Well that sucks. Because that would be a cool thing to get into, right? I checked again at lunch…no email…and then I Google it, because who knows, maybe the email is lost or in my spam and I can’t see that on my phone. I think I scared the crap out of my coworkers because I yelled pretty loud when I found the list. So I’m in. Which is cool.


I actually entered 3 decades, because I made my first art quilt in the 90s. I’ve been quilting since I was 23 years old. Art quilts. Yeah. Long time. So it’s starting to feel like I have a place in the art quilt world. Sort of. Because I still upset people without even trying to do so. But whatever. That part is sometimes hurtful, but since I pretty much make art in my head and live up there without interacting with humans, except at school…and here…online…it probably doesn’t really matter if Joan in Virginia hates me for my vulvas (except she calls them vaginas, because she doesn’t have a science background) or Milly in Michigan is still trying to find a penis in my quilt. If I knew who that woman was, I’d make her a little penis quilt that she could carry in her purse, so she could hold it up to the other quilts she sees, just so she’d know what they really look like. Yeah. I’m not really wasting time on that.

My school is doing an art contest, and one of the staff (who is very well-meaning) was trying to get me to come on the broadcast and show an appropriate piece of my art (there aren’t a lot, but there are a few), and I had to explain the ramifications of that. Because if the students Google me (and maybe they do already and just don’t tell me), I could have parent complaints threaten my job…because of the work itself, because of the nasty things some people have written about me. And I can’t afford to have an issue with my job. Funny that it didn’t even cross her mind…and it’s always on mine.

Yesterday was photosynthesis. We did this lab I’ve never done before (I’ve never really taught photosynthesis) and it was very cool, but I realized this morning that I didn’t really understand why we had added one reactant.


See the bubbles? YAASSSS.


So this morning, I’m looking that shit up. And I made a little post-it of the stuff I just learned (it was kind of oh yeah, duh, I remember that…it’s often like that. Unless it’s like holy crap, I didn’t know that, oh yeah, because they discovered it after I got out of school). And I’m posting a photo on Google Classroom for the kids. And making sure I go over this part today (because my co-teacher probably did that yesterday…which makes me laugh! I get there eventually, I swear). And next year, I will do a better job of teaching it because I will know more than I do this year. It’s made this school year really difficult, because there are only so many hours in the day, and I try to make sure I know what’s going on all the time and what I’m teaching, but I have to know it as such a higher level than the kids do…and if I haven’t had it since high school, then it’s not like it’s in an easily accessible part of my brain. The next unit is energy and I printed the materials so I can read them over break. I know it’s not in my head.

I dropped my quilt at the photographer yesterday, and there were multiple murders of crows just hanging out on his phone lines and cawing away. It was more than I’d seen (there were two other large groups flying around when I took this picture).


Crows (or ravens) show up in my quilts pretty often. Harbingers of death and all.

So yeah, no art yesterday. Once I finally got home (had to venture into Home Depot twice…to get stuff to hook up rain barrels, but then got to the car and realized I’d forgotten a timer for the Xmas lights, so I ventured back in. Crazy really. Still didn’t get a timer…ordered it online), I graded, ate, let the girlchild FaceTime the dogs (she didn’t really want to talk to me, which was funny) and then graded until my brain stopped. Slept. But here…the Golden had her head in my lap and the puppy was too scared to come up on my other side for some reason, so he curled up over there.


OK, it’s Pajama Day AND Ugly Sweater Day at school today, so I officially can’t go anywhere after school without coming home to change. Seriously. Or. Well. Maybe it doesn’t matter. You know. I’m not really a fashion maven.

I want to do art tonight, but I also need to grade stuff and wrap presents…so we’ll just have to see. Some days, what we want is just not on the table.

*Flight Facilities, Crave You

Sometimes It’s About Massages and Brain Size

December 8, 2016

It’s not in my nature to waste fabric. Well, yes, I take big pieces of fabric and cut them into smaller pieces and then iron and sew them back together. It’s already a strange concept. But I don’t like wasting what I’ve got. It’s my palette. I don’t even like throwing out the tiny scraps left over after I trim the ironed pieces. But I do. Because it would be crazy to keep that stuff (I do keep it until the quilt is done, in case I need a tiny piece of something…because if I’m gonna lose a piece, it’s usually a little one).

So although I finished the newest quilt on Tuesday night, I hadn’t thrown out the scraps yet or put all the other fabric away, because I knew I had the leftover pieces from when I cut the head out backwards. Now I also cut out the bird and the sun/cloud conglomerate backwards, but I ended up using them in the quilt anyway. I couldn’t do that with the head because of the shoulder orientation. It wouldn’t fit right. But I saved those pieces. I had spent time cutting out the Wonder Under, ironing them to fabric, and trimming them. Dammit if I wasn’t gonna use them. (Yes. I am currently channeling my Depression-era grandmother.)

So I did. Here’s the bin. It’s even labeled Backwards. The question was which pieces did I pull from here to finish the other one (answer: cat ears, cat top of head, cat eyes, cat eyeballs, and human eyelid…plus two smaller pieces that seemingly just disappeared)?


The real problem was ironing on the back of the pattern. I couldn’t see it. So I had to redraw it on the back. Now when I look at this, it’s obvious to me that there’s another problem…flipped letters. I didn’t actually realize that until later though, when I was on the phone with the girlchild and she said I should just leave them backwards (I didn’t…but I do have one quilt where everything is backwards because I traced it all wrong and couldn’t bear to retrace).


So here it is backwards…in process…you can see the box of scraps there. I had to fill in a few things…small pieces. And I decided to make the words right way round. I didn’t cut new ones. I used what I had.


Backwards head…


Regular head…


Creepy, huh? And honestly, I’m only doing this because I hate to waste stuff. It only took about an hour to iron it together. Not bad.

So yeah, I’ll quilt it etc. and stick it up on Etsy. It’s not tiny, actually, because of the hair. And it’s weird. Then again, everything I do is weird.


As evidenced by this drawing done during a teacher training yesterday that I was a bit irritated by having to sit through. I hate when the voice in my head is yelling “No DUH!” the entire time.


So first of all, the statement at the top is not what I think…but what some kids might think (funny, I’m always careful to explain I don’t believe that…that smart people do some really stupid stuff. I could insert names here if I wanted to.). Then the stuff about brain size/weight…I actually wanted to check that out, because I remembered that Einstein’s brain wasn’t particularly large, and I always thought that it was the connections that were more important than size, although even those can be regrown to some extent. And this morning, I found this…confirming that (as we all know) size isn’t everything. And yes, if you haven’t figured it out by now, drawing is my safe space. The Affect not Effect was because the damn program needs an editor. I hate it when apparently educated people can’t edit their stuff. It’s one thing to get it wrong. It’s another to not realize you get stuff wrong and have someone who is better at it check your stuff. We’re teachers, dammit.

I probably scare some people in trainings. Generally I try to sit with people who won’t be scared. In the old days, when we got a paper agenda for staff meetings, people used to try to sit next to me (because it was more fun to watch me draw than listen to the principal). Seriously, though, it entertains the part of my brain that otherwise gets me in trouble. Plus it keeps me awake. And any angry or pissed off or bored parts will have something else on which to focus.

There is a cat currently sitting on my computer mouse. OK. Moved her. Lab day today. Too tired for that. Oh well. It’s not like I get to ignore the tired stuff. I did get my first ever massage yesterday, in an attempt to move the joints in my neck and back that have been semi-frozen about a month. We got all but one of them. But more importantly, holy crap, massages are wondrous. I can’t afford how wondrous they are (seriously, I could get addicted to that). But it was a positive thing. So there we are. You learn something new every day. Sometimes it’s stupid stuff, like how much vomit a Golden Retriever can gack up. But sometimes it’s about massages and brain size.

Finishing with Dogs

December 6, 2016

First of all, hello to all those new to my website who are wandering over here to wonder why I would get busted for a penis that isn’t even in my quilt (I do have quilts with penises in them…just not that one). Funny, because in my mind, that issue is a million years ago (OK, it was August…and September…and into October), and I’ve mostly moved on, except when I’m drawing and feel like adding a bunch of secret penises (penii?) into a landscape or a pretty earth woman covered with flowers. But that’s just the vengeful part of my brain talking. I let her out occasionally, but honestly, the state of the US government is way more pressing on my mind at the moment than some woman in Michigan who imagines penises where there are none. Or a quilt organization that calls itself supportive of creativity in quilts, but apparently only if they are pretty. And nonconfrontational (shut up, WordPress…that IS spelled right. What do you know.). You know, not art.

And dammit, I make art. I don’t sit there trying to figure out how to shock the easily shockable. What a waste of my time. If they don’t like it (like I don’t like some of their traditional stuff with 80 million jewels attached to it), then they can walk on by…like I do.

So with that in mind, here I am finishing another quilt. Actually, here are the dogs sleeping next to me while I finish another quilt.


OK, so I made it all the way around the binding…just the sleeves are left to go. And now I’m starting to panic about the next one, because the drawing is only started. But it’s OK. I’ll draw tonight or Wednesday…and hopefully I can get at least one of the three (four?) I want done. I think I need to sit down and visualize how this is going to go. I mean, I have a wish list in my head (who doesn’t?) for the solo show next summer, but I’m not sure I can pull it off with the time available. Especially after seeing how little I got done the week I had off. And knowing I have a big copyediting job ahead of me.


I wish I were a little less stressed about this. It’s the time of year, though. At school, we’re trying to finish a unit and make sure we’re ready to come back in January. Then there’s all the holiday stuff, lots of food for potlucks etc., and parties and family stuff. And then I’m trying to get art stuff done at the same time. My students all wanted to know if I did grades over the weekend. I told them no, I was working one of my two other jobs. Because I did 14+ hours of quilting stuff over the weekend. I did do grades last night, for a little while…but I still spent most of my evening handsewing a binding on with dogs and cats right next to me…not a bad way to spend an evening. I didn’t even poke any major holes in my fingers. Yet.


And while I was writing this, the internet on my computer disappeared (it’s still working on my phone), so I’m giving up on the deep philosophical consideration of my artistic future and getting my butt to my day job.

Piece of Cake

December 5, 2016

Ugh. Mornings. Not a fan. Too many disturbances last night. It’s fine for puppy. He just naps all day. Me? Not so much. I bully through it, sometimes more or less irritated than others. Really, I know the kids will be asking when I’m going to grade everything, and here’s what’s up with that. I didn’t grade shit this weekend. I quilted like a madwoman. I did 14 hours of art stuff instead of grading. Yup. And I’m not done, but I’m where I wanted to be, perhaps a bit further. So that’s good. But I still have grading to do. And I’m not sure how I’ll tell them that.

I started by pinbasting Friday night and then quilting. I quilted Saturday afternoon as well, although when I started, I found this living thing curled up inside the quilt ball I’d put on the sewing machine…


Um cat. Move.

I did outlining for hours…hoping to finish it on Saturday, but I had somewhere to be at a specific time, so I had to stop short of that mark…


I really didn’t have much left…half a face, I think. Part of the sun. Her hair.


So I’m watching the clock and thinking, “I’ll just finish this up.” Yeah. No. Sometimes you just have to stop and get where you’re going.


Sunday, I got all the errands and have-to’s done, and then finished up the sun etc. pretty quickly. On Saturday, I’d been smart and bought the background thread. Then Sunday, before I even started this, I went and bought the binding fabric, so I’d be ready. I knew I had a 2-hour staff meeting today and wouldn’t make it to the store before it closed. They used to have one late day a week, but no longer.


Quilting the background didn’t take as long as I thought it would…I think I stopped sometime just after this to make dinner…


And came back to Kitten trying to sit all over the quilt again.


She’s not very patient with me. Total quilt time was just over 10 hours.


Not bad. But I managed to fold the backing up into the quilting. I did not cut all that out. I trimmed the quilt and then was lucky that it fit under the binding. Don’t do more work if you don’t have to.


I laid it out again for trimming (fast-moving dog)…


Then sewed on binding and sleeves, top and bottom.


Then pinned it all back. Then it was after midnight. Kitten doesn’t want to sit on it when it has pins in it, strangely.


But that’s further than I thought I would get. All of a sudden, it’s going to be a piece of cake to get it to the photographer Friday. Only two weeks later than I thought it should be done.


Interesting that I got more done on it while teaching than I did with a week off school…although there was other stuff messing with me that week. I guess it’s easier to be efficient when I don’t have any time. Now I need to start drawing the next one.

This came up over the weekend…back to the world of nonexistent penises. There’s the quilt that started that whole mess. Actually, it wasn’t the quilt that started it…it was one person and then one organization that claims it supports art and creativity. My ass. This article is in Textile Fibre Forum, their latest issue.


Thanks to Tanya for writing me up again. I should stay out of trouble for a while so she has time to make a quilt or two.

OK, so tonight I’m grading stuff AND sewing down a binding. Maybe I’ll finish…maybe not. There’s a lot of binding on this one. It’s a relief to almost be done, though, that’s for sure.

Now I Don’t Know Where I Am*

December 2, 2016

I am tired. Raccoons and barking puppies. Long lab days followed by driving and stuff. A neck that won’t behave. I haven’t been able to fall asleep easily, even though at times it’s past one in the morning. Ugh. I want to sleep in…for days. This is unlikely to happen.

That said, I finally finished the stitch-down step on the quilt…about 5 1/2 hours total. Kinda what I expected.

I really only had to finish the head and do a bird and sun/cloud thing. It took about an hour. Sometimes I look at my inability to fall asleep and think…fuck, why didn’t you just stay up and finish last night? It’s not like you would have gotten more sleep if you’d gone to bed an hour later.


I do try to give myself enough sleep though. This week has sucked for it. Too many raccoons. Too many early morning meetings.

Kitten agrees. She couldn’t keep her eyes open last night.


So it was about 11:30 when I finished stitching. I knew I didn’t have time to pinbaste…that would be another hour, plus the floor wasn’t clean…so more than that…and nothing dries quickly when it’s cold. But I ironed everything flat…


And I cut the batting and backing, and then ironed the backing…


I’ll come home tonight, clean the floor, pinbaste, and hopefully start quilting. That’s the plan anyway. Spend all waking moments (well, not quite…got two things to do Saturday and a bunch for Sunday) quilting my ass off. The last long skinny one took almost 11 hours to quilt. Yikes. I’d really like to get that done this weekend. I’m not sure I can. It’s gonna be tight. Buy binding Sunday so I don’t have to try and do it later. Maybe even Saturday. I did have one quilt photographed with the binding pinned back but not sewn. Huh. Maybe. I don’t want to machine sew it…I don’t like how that looks. So I will have to figure it out. I must be the Queen of Efficiency. Opposite of the last two weeks really.

I did go to my stitching meeting last night…this Sue Spargo block is taking forever, but the embroidery is really relaxing. I did one of the stitches wrong (proof of tiredness)…but it doesn’t really matter. I still need to finish all the bird stitching and do the center of the flower. At this rate, this quilt might be done in 2020. I don’t even have time to put the last one together or quilt the one before that. No down time at the moment. There’s pros and cons to that…pro because I’m so busy and that’s a good thing for the art. Cons because I can’t see straight some days.


I’m still working on good photos for the holiday card. This might be it. The cats refuse to cooperate.


But that’s pretty cute. Anyway. I’m supposed to be doing demonstrations all day today. I’m so tired from the last two days of labs, and we have two more days of labs planned for next week. Plus some serious handholding. And grades are due again in a week. Shee-it. Yikes. Deep breaths. Plus need the next drawing and it barely exists right now. Minor issue, right. Ha!

*Bright Eyes, First Day of My Life

Went to School and I Was Very Nervous*

December 1, 2016

December. The month that gives me nightmares and indigestion. But also brings a 3-week break from school (don’t think about the chaos of Christmas and the giant-ass copyediting project you’re getting done during all that). And cold weather. I’m not sure I’m prepared for that. I seem to be lacking the appropriate clothing…as usual.

Funny about that line from the song, the one I used as the title. I was pretty anxious about school and social stuff and trying to fit in but not really knowing how (at some point, I just owned that and found my space in the world…which generally is over THERE and kind of loud sometimes, but usually just going about my business without worrying about the rest of you). Now I go to school every day, granted, as the teacher, but one of the things I try to do all the time is point out how LOTS of them are feeling that way and they need to figure out that the people around them do too. We’re teaching this program in homeroom that deals with some of this, but the last two days, trying to get them to see what a win-win solution might be to interpersonal issues has been pretty frustrating. No. You don’t get to hit her. No. You don’t get to tell her she’s stupid. No. You don’t get to be rude to people all the time. And then a conversation with a non-Native American that telling someone to go back to their country when almost ALL of us are immigrants (including my family) was a pretty stupid thing to say. Especially since he is also an immigrant. Trump’s attitudes mirrored in our kids. How do you teach them that this is not the HUMAN way to act.

It’s a lab day again today. Headache. But good learning opportunity.

I’m pointedly ignoring the schedule on this quilt. It’s sitting in the chair over there going Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey. Yeah. I know. I’m TRYING. That’s all I can do.

I had my chiropractor appointment yesterday and he mentioned that he couldn’t even budge the part of my neck that is bugging me the most and has been for more than 3 weeks now. Yeah. I know. I mentioned that I’d been considering massage, because my neck and shoulders are completely discombobulated at the moment. So now I’m set up for that AND chiropractor next week. So there’s some chance of my being out of pain soon. Woo! Yes! And I even made it to the gym yesterday. So that was good.

Damn…it was the work I did afterwards that took forever…setting up yet another independent study contract for a kid whose parent thinks three weeks off of school is not enough…then updating quilts and shows on my website. I thought I had done that a month ago, but apparently not.

So I didn’t start stitch down until almost 11 PM. Late. Really late for someone trying to finish. And with an early meeting today, so an early alarm, I couldn’t stay up past 1 AM to finish. Everything is just taking forever on this thing. I don’t even know why. I totally messed up on estimating how long it would take. Or how much time I would have.

Kitten is waiting for me to finish so she can curl up in bed with me. Because it is bloody freezing here (well, again, not compared to many places…but my house isn’t well-insulated…plus, she’s a cat. And that disdainful look is normal.). I did stitch down for over an hour, despite the late start.


I finished the torso and arms and got halfway through the crazy mane of hair.


So what’s left? The rest of her hair, her face, a sun and cloud, and a bird. Then I can sandwich and pinbaste. I’m conservatively hoping to get all that done tonight, but honestly, that’s more than two hours right there, I think. And I have a meeting tonight until 8 PM. Plus Christmas shopping, because I’m in a book store for the meeting. So. Sigh. I’m really trying to finish it. And since I already set up delivery to the photographer, I really do have to finish it. On time. Ha.

Still trying to get a photo where the two dogs are looking at the camera and not sniffing each other’s parts. Calli is offended by Simba’s existence.


This may have to do. At least she’s not snarling. I go now.

*Gary Jules, Mad World