It Won’t Take Long…

May 2, 2016

So here’s what I know now, after last night: at 4:35 AM, the mockingbird shuts up. Totally quiet. Asleep even. Me? Not so much. That was a clusterfuck of not sleeping. OK. It’s all right. It’s Monday…always a rough day. I’m just gonna roll with it.

Grades are due Tuesday. I spent some time this weekend dealing with stuff that needed to be graded and then filling in all the the secondary grades, behavior and effort, then all the comments. Sometimes I don’t do comments for progress reports, but I want parents to know why their kid has the grade they have. And so many of them are one or two assignments from passing, but they don’t make the effort. Frustrating on my end. Maybe on theirs too. But seriously, if I’ve been telling the parents, in one case, for 4 weeks that she has two missing assignments and what they are, and those assignments still haven’t shown up, then hell, she deserves the damn F. I just don’t understand it.

So that frustration over, I considered grading some more and then slapped myself around a bit (seriously, enough is enough), and thought about what I needed to get done this week in the art arena. I have two quilts to deliver to a show on Saturday. One needs a bottom sleeve…it’s big and I made it before I automatically started putting bottom sleeves on. Then two need labels. Huh. Well, there’s a quilt under the machine that’s almost done…I should just finish it so I don’t have to switch machine foot and thread more than once. It won’t take long.

Last words of crazy people…it won’t take long.

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Two hours later, I finally finished.

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It took about 5 1/2 hours to quilt this. I’m not even sure why it took so long. Thread breakage maybe. It needs ink, embroidery, and a binding. I might deal with that this week. I might not. I really only needed it done so I could use the machine for the other thing. But hell, if that gets it done, then so be it.

Here’s the next two things hanging around…the one on the left needs quilting. I’m cutting out the pieces for the one on the right.

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I just haven’t done anything with it since Thursday. I’ll get there.

First this beast needs a sleeve. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any more of the brown or enough of the binding fabric, which is what I used for the top sleeve, but I think the gray will do well enough.

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I only really care because we’re hanging this one in the center of the gallery, so there won’t be a wall behind it. So it’s best if the back is not too chaotic. Hence the need for the second sleeve as well…it will hang much better with weight on the bottom.

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So I made a second sleeve and pinned it on, and now I get to sew it on. Some quiet hours poking holes in my finger…unless I remember to put those plasticky protective pads on. That would be smart, wouldn’t it? Let’s hope I remember. Then labels for this one and the little one that goes with it…which also needs dowels. By Saturday. Plenty of time. Let’s hope I get more art done than that this week.

I also went to Artwalk this weekend…saw some good art and a lot of schlock, as always. I’ll post about some of it when I get my act together. Or sooner. Whichever makes sense.


Why Now?

April 28, 2016

Yesterday was interesting. I gave a test. I’ve given a few tests this year. I always give the kids a study guide (required) with all the test questions and then they can use an index card on the test, with anything they need on the card. I’ve had so much apathy this year, from kids and parents, that it’s truly been one of the most frustrating years for me ever. I’ve questioned everything I’ve done all year, and finally sort of gave up on them. I couldn’t persuade them to turn work in, to prepare for a test, to give a shit. Until today. And I swear, I did nothing different, but today, almost every single kid turned in a study guide, most of them complete. Almost every single kid had a card. It’s like lightning hit them and their brains lit up with “OH YEAH! That’s how you STUDENT!” I was boggled. I didn’t know whether to be ecstatic that they finally figured that shit out, or annoyed that it took them so long, or just fucking confused because WHY NOW? Why not all the other times? What was different?

I think I just input those grades and hope to heaven the test grades improved as well, and never think an entire year is a failure…know that it might happen in the 10th month of the year that they finally figure it out. This is the stuff that bugs the crap out of me when people talk about making teachers accountable. I did nothing different in the first few months of the year, then started noticing the failing trend, the inability to turn work in…and I tried to figure out how to make things work better, worked MY ass off, honestly, worried myself, stressed out, blamed myself, had a really hard year. I’m not sure anything I did made a difference. Or they just reacted to all my work so slowly that I couldn’t see it happening.

I’m boggled. Still. I hope their test scores match up with the work they did…because then they’ll see the connection.

I was exhausted when I got home though. I walked the room while they tested…you don’t think about walking all day, how tiring it is, until you get home and sit down. There were things I wanted to do, and I was just too tired. I finished up some grades on an assignment, input all the stuff from today, and then made dinner. Then I did seating charts, because it’s time to move them around again to try to deal with some behavior issues.

Next step in the artmaking process? Trimming fabric pieces or finishing the big drawing. I know I’m going to quilt class tonight, which is a good place to trim stuff, so I decided to try to fit a giraffe on the drawing instead, because it had been in my head since last week sometime.

I found a picture that worked in the space and made the decision to have her standing in front of the rib she crosses over. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the others…maybe it will be a rib-by-rib decision.

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Then I had this small blankish area to the left of the giraffe, under the uterus. Tulips! Of course. I can’t really explain how things pop into my head as I’m staring at these blank spaces, but they do.

This is actually a pretty large space to fill…even with the ribs drawn in.

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It was after midnight by then, so I stopped. I’m not sure what to draw next. I have notes about bees and lizards and cactus, although I already put a prickly pear in. I already put in a cat…there’s always a cat. I always have birds too…I think the crane counts for that, although there might be more later. I’m debating a raccoon, after watching Guardians of the Galaxy while grading last night and staring at Rory from Furiously Happy for so many days. Probably putting a furiously happy raccoon in there won’t fit, but a real one might. I’ll think about it.

Turns out my Celebrating Silver quilt Awakening the Crone will be traveling to China, once again having a way better vacation than I ever do. The whole show will be at the 2016 8th Asia Quilt Festival in Shanghai, China, from September 21-23, 2016.

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I keep waiting for the organizers to email me and say all of them are going except mine, but that hasn’t happened yet. Cool beans.

Apparently I Have to Sleep at Night

April 26, 2016

A relief this morning…finding out all the financial aid documents have been processed. That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems that will come up down the road, like last year, but at least we got past that hurdle. It’s a fucking miracle. A massive relief as well. Now we wait.

It’s Reach Higher Day today, Michelle Obama’s program to encourage kids to go to college. At our school, if you ask them right now if they want to go to college, what they want to do, a lot of them say yes, and they want to be doctors and lawyers and other educated professions…and some of them make it, some of them get full scholarships for sports or academics. We get little blips of info from them as they become seniors in high school. But most of them get bogged down by life, grades, the lack of support…no one knows how to fill out these damn forms (they take persistence and a little crazy, honestly). So today we are supposed to wear a t-shirt from our college (oops. I don’t own one…but I have my kids’ shirts) to help kids realize that almost every adult around them at school is walking around with a college degree…or in my case, like three of them. There’s so little parent support for this year’s kids…and there are plenty that would do well in college and should go. I hope they figure it out.

I walked the dog yesterday…I love the post-work 3-miler we do. It’s incredibly relaxing, although then it’s hard to get up and make dinner. I have to plan so that gym and hiking nights have food already prepped for afterwards. Smart move, when I can pull it off.

I had grading to do as well…never-ending pile (except mostly it’s online, so it’s a virtual pile…harder to hold sway over you if you can’t physically see it). But I was in here ironing at about 9-something. I wanted to be done…but…apparently I have to sleep at night.

When Midnight does this (and she is always in the green drawer for some reason), I can’t get to about half of my green fabrics.

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The drawer she’s in and the drawer directly above her…if I were smart, I’d move the drawers around occasionally so I wasn’t always pulling out of the top drawer. Or yeah, I could chase her out.

Kitten is more well-behaved and picks the chair…when she’s not trying to climb up the window screen to get at the lizards that keep climbing all my windows.

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I ironed for a couple of hours…forgot to take any photos while ironing…but these are all the pieces I have left to do…not many.

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I think there’s some cactus and a sunflower or two in there. And then I’m done. Again, a small quilt for me.

I ironed for about 2 hours last night. There’s probably less than an half hour left in there. Here’s the pile of stuff ready to be trimmed.

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I have quilt class on Thursday, so now I have something I can work on there. That was part of my motivation to get in here instead of out there with the big drawing.

Here’s the growing pile of fabrics I used, completely disorganized.

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It was late and I didn’t feel like making it all nice. Sometimes sleep is a goal.

I forgot…I am still working on going through the pile of crap I pulled out of the studio and piled up in the boychild’s room. I know it doesn’t look better, but I threw out another pile of stuff and recycled some more.

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So it’s getting there. I’m a little afraid of that red box on the left…it’s chock full of I don’t know what. I emptied the yellow bin. I have lots of piles of stuff based on where it should be going. It was a little sad going through the school stuff, because I found out Friday for sure that most of what I have taught over the last 14 years is going away. So I have samples of stuff…and you just don’t know if you’ll ever teach that again, so in some ways, it would be a good time to just toss a lot of stuff, which I did when I went most digital anyway, but we do some stuff on paper still when it makes sense. So I was filing assignments I will probably never use again. Teaching body systems and cells and genetics has been what I love…and I will have to find a way to love the next batch of stuff.

OK. I’m running late…as always. But art tonight…finish ironing that batch and maybe go back to the drawing. We’ll see.

A Sparkly Clean Brain

April 22, 2016

First of all, I wrote this before school today. Most of it. And then chaos. Because that’s how it rolls at the moment. Brain overload. So it’s still sitting here when I get home and there’s no title on it and I don’t even know how I didn’t get this done. So here it is…

The plus is that financial aid is notionally done, except for one form that needs to be uploaded (just did that. Before I did this.). The minus is the hours I spent last night dealing with it. Still. Again. And thinking I would have to call girlchild’s financial aid department this morning and beg for forgiveness. The minus is the probably 5 years of my life that I will lose at the end due to financial aid forms and dealing with my ex over those. The plus is the kids are in college and someday will have to change my diapers and feed me applesauce with a bib on, but they will have college educations and will be able to afford the really good bibs and diapers.

Or not. Honestly, I don’t care at the moment. I want them to have a job that fulfills them. And I can’t say that mine doesn’t, because it often does, but right now it also tires me out. It wears me down. It makes me want to eat ice cream and drink wine (not a good combo on so many levels). I wrote two versions of a test last night and graded a bunch of stuff. Some kids are taking it seriously, figuring out that they need to step up their game. Some of them? Yeah. Whatever. And their parents too. I feel sorry for some of them, because I think if someone at home were paying attention, they would be doing better, and I do the best I can with those, but they are often the neediest and not in a good way. It’s like puppies. They’re cute when they’re playing and when they’re asleep, but they bite like motherfuckers. And pee on everything. And chew up your favorite stuff.

I don’t really teach puppies.

So I didn’t finish all the financial aid and grading until 11:09 PM. And I was half dead on my feet by then, tired and irritable and weepy and shit. But I had a random idea to fill in the arm between the crane and the octopus, and I thought I could probably do that…so I did…

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Oh yeah. That’s kelp. It fit nicely. I also pencil drew in a ribcage and a bellybutton, but I haven’t decided whether stuff will go behind the ribs or around them, and I was way too damn tired to draw any more after that. I looked at a lot of pictures of giraffes, but that’s as far as I got. And Damn, they have lots of spots. I keep picking spotted animals.

I’m pretty sure I won’t get anything done tonight. And this weekend is already busy. It’s OK, because there’s no rush on this drawing. I’m just doing it because it was in my head and it helps me calm my brain down, wind down at the end of the day. It’s meditative. It’s like the spin cycle on the washer…flips out all the bad stuff down the drain and leaves a sparkly clean brain for sleep. Well. Sort of. Better than it was anyway.

I Need a Demonologist

April 21, 2016

I needed to get outside and walk hard, hike fast yesterday. So I did. With the dog. I had to wait for temperatures to go down below 90 first though, but it’s a crapshoot, because some hikes I don’t want to finish after dark. I wanted to be out out out, nowhere near houses if I could pull it off, far away from people. We had to drive a little, but then it was three miles with only one old guy and his old dog, who wanted to beat us up but couldn’t move fast enough to pull it off (arthritis), and then an old guy on a bike. And a dead snake…in pieces. But otherwise, nothing but bugs and plants and birds and clearing your mind and breathing in the dust and walking it off. Cuz you can walk a whole day off, you know. Harder to walk a whole week off, but a day? No problem.

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Wilderness refuge near my house. It was still warm out, 86 degrees at 6 PM, but there was a nice breeze. Good pace. Tired the dog out too.

Then I made dinner, spaced out for a bit with a book, graded some assignments I needed to get out of the way, and then communed a bit with animals. They all followed me into the living room. Mommy! Mommy!

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Pet the dog and the cats. Kitten settles down into her favorite place. On the drawing.

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And the brain just spilled. Oh yeah, you’ve seen the eye in the uterus thing before…in the last quilt. The REAL third eye, the all-seeing one. The one that rules the woman’s roost.

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I pushed and pulled and the drawing ended up still being under Kitten. I started on trying to fit a crane around an elbow. I look at pictures and try to imagine how to move the wings and feathers around where I need them to be. Kitten starts flicking her tail in the middle of where I’m drawing and that’s it. I poke at her until she leaves. Petulant beast.

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I made it work, turn the corner. Then drew the hand and some pine-tree-like things on there. You can see I don’t have much left…just the main torso and it already has a bunch of stuff on it.

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Closeup of the arm.

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So I need to connect the arm to the shoulder with something and then do the rest of the torso. It’s going well. Peaceful brain.

This is from last night’s grading, where a student suggested a demonologist to test lung function.

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I laughed a lot. A LOT. Because you’ll take anything humorous at this time of the year. Anything. Calling a demonologist to take care of my class.

More drawing tonight, although there’s always grading and I think I have to write a test. Not sure what I’m drawing next anyway, so it’s OK to let the brain percolate for a while. Like all day. I didn’t start drawing last night until 10:30 or so. I’m about 8 1/2 hours into this drawing. It’s time-consuming, but good. I write about the hours because I want people to get that it takes a long time to make art and even if some of it is standing around, staring at the piece, it’s still part of the making. I know some people can just whip stuff out, but I’m not one of them. This is big and complicated. But I think it will be worth it.

Do It or Lose It

April 20, 2016

I’m getting there. I managed yesterday better, although I woke up to chaos this morning. About 6 emails that had to be dealt with right now. RIGHT NOW. Which is why I’m running late.

I meditated last night, although my brain was all over the place. And then I drew. I did financial aid stuff before that…almost done…woo hoo! Three more things to scan and submit on one kid, the other kid stuff finally came through this morning, so I’ll do it tonight. This stuff is so stressful, my brain wants to explode.

So meditation reined the brain in a little bit. Maybe. Because then I got up and I drew…I finished the earth on the bottom…

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Hard to see, but I tried really hard to not make a bunch of tiny things on there. Really hard.

Then I went back up to the torso, staring at the other boob. I had been looking at leopards and jaguars and cheetahs, but the spots…holy moley, the spots. And I couldn’t find the picture I wanted. The pose. I don’t know. I just wasn’t sold. I’ve done lots of lions. Female lions are just gorgeous creatures, so strong and determined, although I hate when they watch a new male come in and kill their babies. Yes, I’ve watched every episode of Big Cat Diary…like 7 times. I miss that show.

Anyway. So I went to tigers…because the stripes can be kept simple, and in a piece like this, where there’s already a ton of detail, I don’t need to be making 100 spots on a leopard.

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I added the other lung, decided to continue the grass just under the neckline instead of putting something different on the other side, and then put a prickly pear cactus above the tiger to fill in that space.

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What you can’t see here is that I have one arm and then the rest of the torso, which will include a uterus this time around, because when I make things for myself instead of for shows, I don’t have to worry about the nudity. I even added a nipple on the tiger, to be done in fur colors.

I’m enjoying drawing this. It’s soothing. I can’t say falling asleep or staying asleep are getting better for me, but I think that’s hormones and stress more than anything else. So exercise, meditation, drawing or making art in some way. Deep breathing when necessary. Get done with stupid stuff that stresses me out and that will help. Ignore all the people who are stressing me out (whoops, that’s half of my students right now and about 17 other adults) and hang out with those who don’t. Or hang out with the dog and the cats, because they’re demanding in their own way, but it’s pretty basic needs…pet me, feed me.

At least I’ve figured out where art fits in all that…do it or lose it.

Make Art or Die

April 19, 2016

Hi. In about 4 days, all the financial aid stuff will be done and I will no longer feel like ripping my eyeballs out of my head and mailing them to Cornell and Brandeis…along with my ex’s entrails. Seriously. I went to the gym late last night (long day, couldn’t get up off the couch for a while) and then cooked a new dinner that tastes OK but cooks like a natural disaster. Then I came in here and tried to finish up all the financial aid for the boychild (still not done…because it’s a giant fucked up mess, that’s why).

So did I get any art done? Fuck no. I looked at the clock and it was almost midnight and I just went to bed. Frustrated. Irritated. Woke up to texts and emails and more financial aid crap and realized I was grinding my teeth. Really. I love this stuff. The smartest thing I did was buy a new printer that actually scans multi-page documents into a PDF file (I know y’all are going, Kathy…they’ve been doing that for a while…but you don’t know how old my last printer and scanner were). This was joy compared to last year. At least that part of it.

The place my brain goes on the stress-o-meter though. Tonight I NEED to draw. Or something. Yes, I have 7 other things on the to-do list tonight that have nothing to do with art. Dammit. Quickly evaluating what can be put off…at least two of them. Maybe. Sigh.

In four days it will be done. Maybe sooner. I love all these happy-go-lucky slide shows and videos you see about how you make your own happiness and stress can kill you and take control of your response. Oh. OK. Except I go straight into fight or flight and then have to meditate myself back down into semi-stressed. I’m trying to do that RIGHT NOW. Except I have to go to work and that’s not a stress-free place at all. It’ll be fine.

This was cool. This made my day…except I got it last week and didn’t even look at it. So it was a nice surprise on Sunday when I finally did.


Yeah. That’s my quilt cropped on the front of the postcard. It’s a cool crop too. I’m pleased.

See. Think about the card. Not the financial aid. Not the other crap. The card. THE CARD.

The opening is June 25 at the Oceanside Museum of Art. I don’t have a time yet I think.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been watching all these home renovation shows and it’s making me irritated about my own house, but I can’t afford the money right now, let alone the time. So I keep watching, instead of switching over to the cooking programs, which make me think I should’ve been able to flip those damn quesadillas last night without causing a mess. That’s why I end up on the sci fi channel so much! It doesn’t make me feel bad. Aliens? I can handle aliens. And zombies and the X team. No problem. Bring it.

OK, long day at school, at least one contentious meeting and then tutorial, which mostly drives me nuts, so there we are. A goal for later on, though. Make art or die! OK. Maybe just make art. Ignore the silly videos with their dire warnings. They actually stress me out more.

Look. There was a tshirt. But no longer.



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