I Bleed It Out*

September 24, 2016

OK. So I’m in this weird place between pieces. You know when you finish one, take a deep breath (and I can’t do that yet, because there are three things I need to fix on it, plus I have to do the final iron and dehair for the photographer…once I finish this post), and then you’re flailing a bit…like WTF do I do next? Man I wish I had time for that sentiment at the moment. In reality, I have one that technically is supposed to be done next week (ha! It’s OK…really, I don’t have to finish it until the end of October), another collaboration with the same deadline (also not happening), and then the deadlines mellow out. A bit. Not really, because I have that awesome solo show next July and I need to make things for that. Before March. I think. And there’s one for December, but honestly, December sounds like it’s a million miles away at the moment. It’s OK. I know it’s not. But my brain is resting a bit with the lack of urgency. Don’t worry. It’ll get back there. Plus I have school kicking my butt.

But you know that place. You fold up the quilt you just finished and you pat it once or twice, look around the studio and think, oh god, this place is a mess, and start to tidy. And then hopefully by the time you’re done, the next project is nicely settled in place, ready to go. I know for most of you, that’s not how it works. You take days, weeks, sometimes even months between projects. But I was talking to my counselor about this, that the one thing that saved me after the last breakup and the kids leaving for college was my ability to MAKE…and not just to make, but to throw myself so deeply in it that I was lost, that I couldn’t even feel the bad shit weighing on me. It was the one place I found peace. And it’s often hard to leave that place…to go out into the world. Even though I know I need to do that…not just for work and food, but to socialize, so I don’t hermit more than I already do.

So I’m really looking forward to meeting some of my online quilt art friends at Quilt National, because some of the ones I’ve never met will be there…but also hopefully to make it in time for the opening this time (my flight got canceled last time). Something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, I have three quilts this weekend that need labels and two that need shipping right away. The other can wait a week or so. And the school workload is crazy. So that. Plus finishing the coloring book. And I don’t even know what else is on the list I started writing last night.

So I sat down last night and finished sewing sleeves on.

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I got into the habit of sewing on bottom and top sleeves on all my quilts…they hang better that way. In fact, in the photo below, the quilt you can just see the bottom of? It needs a bottom sleeve so it will hang better. Maybe someday I’ll do that, but since it’s pretty much aged out of the exhibition circuit, probably not. There’s a black cat in that photo too. Basically whenever I sit on the couch to sew or cut, I get surrounded.

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I knew this quilt would need ink. I just like how it separates sections.

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Some just have a little ink. Some none. This one had an hour and a half of ink.

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That’s kind of a lot…but hands. Overlapping.

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And I debated the rocks…but couldn’t stop.

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You can’t just ink one. Anyway. She’s done. She has a name even, but I’ll wait until I have official photos. I think it’s been a while since I updated the Recent Work section on the website. Oh yeah. Like April. OK. So that’s on my list when I get these photos back.

What’s funny is that I always try to make a new quilt for Visions and Quilt National when they come up. I don’t really worry about whether they get in, because it just motivates me to make a big complicated quilt every year. Really, every summer, I do it anyway. But in the old days, when I only made one big one a year, that was my motivation. For the big shows. The big shows I never get into. So I made one for QN. And it didn’t get in. Which is totally OK, because the one that did was made for ANOTHER show, and it didn’t get into that one. So it all works out in the end.

The dogs in the morning…waiting for me to get my act together and put them where they belong for the day.

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And because I know you wanted to see the branch that came down in the night…in the daylight…it ain’t small…

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Gotta do something about that. Probably soon. Sigh.

Oh and I hadn’t opened the most recent SAQA Journal (been a busy month). Someone had told me about the cover before I received it (Jill Kertulla’s baby being born), which is awesome. But then I looked and the Turmoil exhibit was in there. Over the years, I’ve kind of gotten used to having exhibits in magazines and NOT being in there, although a few have popped up. But usually the nudity throws them out.

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But not only did they put in Jill’s Baby Quilt above, but they put in my Goddess of Never-Ending Chaos. Full on vulva shot folks. I wonder if SAQA gets complaints.

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I hope not. I guess we’ll see how this exhibit travels. At least mine isn’t alone in it’s female part goodness. Hopefully that will help. I won’t be in Houston to see this exhibit, unfortunately, but maybe it will come out to California some time.

OK. I need to really finish that quilt (just need one line I missed and two places that need to be sewn down better. And then prep for photographer. And then head in the game for the next one.

*Linkin Park, Bleed It Out


We Can Dance if We Want to*

September 21, 2016

It’s still raining. This confuses us here in Southern California. Constant water from the sky? The world is ending? It’s good for the plants, though, so I’ll roll with it. And honestly, I was in a training all day yesterday and will be again today, so I don’t have to deal with students and rain, and that’s a good thing.

The training is for the sex ed program I teach every year. This is my 3rd run through the training, which has now stretched to two days instead of one. And honestly, I don’t need it. There’s a few things they’ve given us that might be useful, but one of those is the notebook with all the updated stuff and some videos online. You could just hand me those. There’s a few new topics and we’ve finally been given the OK to blatantly talk about birth control, instead of sneaking it into the questions at the end of class, so that’s a plus. Besides, really, I’m OK with sitting through two days of training just to guarantee that the teachers who blow this stuff off are actually going to be required to teach about LGBTQ issues. So there we are. But otherwise, yeah, this is going to be my 15th year teaching this unit. Not scared of it. We’ll revise a few things, but otherwise…and the idea to split the unit into 7th and 8th grade, I brought it up with my district…so what do we think we can wait until the end of 8th grade to tell them about reproduction and protection and all this stuff? Because for some of it, even the end of 7th grade is too late.

So that’s what I’m doing all day. And yeah, I graded last night, although I have to tell you, I’m a little frustrated with kids not following instructions. The first unit is kicking butts left and right. OK. So when I hand it back, there’s going to be some discussion.

And then instead of finishing a whole class of grading the unit, I gave up. I really wanted to get the binding on last night, so I cleaned the floor again (muddy dog footprints from the rain) and got started…

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Unfortunately, she was a bitch to trim. Part of it was that the hills etc. weren’t exactly straight. When I iron stuff together, shockingly, it isn’t always perfect. But I fussed with it for a while and finally got it where I needed it to be. I love the quilts that trim perfectly the first time. This was not one of those.

I got the binding and sleeves on, top and bottom. These quilts hang better with a slat in the bottom as well.

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That blue and yellow star fabric has been in my stash for a million years. Seriously, since the 90s. People always want to know how long I’ve been doing this. I took my first quilt class at the age of 23 in 1990…and I moved into more arty quilts pretty quickly, although I think my first official art quilt wasn’t made until 1999. I was futzing around with techniques before then. Even then, I made quilts completely differently. In 2000, I actually hand-appliqued an entire (small) art quilt. It took forever. In 2001, I got to the system I use now, mostly. I started small with very few pieces…and now, well, I’m a little crazy with piece counts and size.

Anyway, I pinned everything back. Yup. I still sew them by hand. I have a few quilts where I didn’t, and I prefer how these look. I’m a little old school sometimes.

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I started hand sewing them. And I emailed my photographer. This one will need ink too.

So the rain thing is really upsetting Simba. Every time I’ve tried to put him out to use the facilities, he’s run back to the door. I guess water is terrifying. Amusing, since I bathed him yesterday…damn fleas this year are heinous.

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After his bath, he ran around psychotically, rubbing his whole tiny body over the carpet (well, I guess we’ll be killing the fleas in the carpet too)…and then settled down behind my dinner companion (it was safer there).

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Poor puppy.

This is the next mural in the Sea Walls excursion from last weekend; this one is still in the North Park/Hillcrest area. It faces someone’s house…probably nicer to look at than a blank wall…

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This one is by Gloria Muriel, whose murals I have photographed before. I haven’t found online yet where the artists explain how their work is related to the ocean project, although this is obviously water…nice water molecule shown on the forehead…I only know some because I saw stuff on Instagram.

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Anyway. Nice mural. Yes. I still want to grow up and be a mural painter. So there.

I do need to start getting serious about the next quilt project though. Aack.

*Men Without Hats, Safety Dance


Nobody Knows Me at All*

September 19, 2016

A short and quiet song to start the day…because it’s Monday and whatever the music app plays sets the tone for the day. Sometimes. This morning it’s quiet and a little folksy and guitar and pure voice. That might get me through the day.

As usual, I didn’t get everything done. I never do. It’s the wonder of being a teacher and an artist. There’s never a stopping point. There are marks I aim for, stopping points. Progress checks. I did finish the outline quilting last night, and then started the background, of which there is very little. I wanted to be done with the quilting yesterday, but school took up the entire afternoon. I have two days of training this week, so I had to prep for the sub. Ugh. Two days of sub…I’m going to come back to chaos. Not looking forward to that.

I had everything done up until the last figure’s head…the biggest head in the piece…

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And then the clouds above her head, where disasters reside.

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Quilting a rift in the ground, a bomb, that mushroom cloud, a burning church…she’s got plenty on her mind…

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Done. Upside down. Because I’m starting the background quilting right there…I think. I was debating using the same color thread as what I outlined with, which sometimes works…

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But when I tried it against the background fabric, there was a lighter color that worked better. I don’t have a full spool of it, but honestly, I don’t think I need a full spool. And I have two others that have a little bit on them. So I went for it.

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I should easily be able to finish the quilting today. Now binding is the issue. I always need supplies in the middle of the night, because that’s when I work…so I’m better off just pulling it off the machine this morning and taking it with me, so I can hit the fabric store after school. That will guarantee my ability to put the binding on whenever I finish quilting. And I have to tell you, I wasn’t expecting to be this far ahead. But I am. Good thing. There’s two for October (not as complicated as this)…and I’m so far behind in grading, I’m starting to panic. But it will be fine! Ha.

I’m a little stressed out.

From the inside of the house, this guy looked like a stick insect. But no…that looks like a praying mantis…not a pretty green one, but I don’t think we get pretty green anything here in dry desert world.

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Kitten would have been excited by that. She really likes lizards too.

This quilt is almost done. Mind-boggling. I really didn’t think I could get it done in time.

*The Weepies, Nobody Knows Me at All


And I Told You to Be Patient*

September 16, 2016

Sigh. Hallelujah for Fridays. I have so much schoolwork to do, I feel like I can’t breathe. But I also want to finish quilting. Plus spend time with humans (well, a little). Three meetings yesterday kind of buried me. Today should be better. I need to get my grading focus on and get some shit done. Then come home and quilt.

I thought yesterday would be a no-art day, and I was right. There wasn’t any energy left at the end of the day. I went out for dinner and a drum circle (like you do)…the view from dinner (if you looked up and back)…

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Turned out to be an electronic drum circle, and less about drums and more about electronic. There were brief moments of “Yeah, that!” and then some doofus would drop in his shit and it would all fall to hell.

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It was nice to get out and do something different though.

I came home, sat down, and immediately had both dogs vying for attention…which I gave them…they were kissing each other at some point (well, boisterously licking faces anyway, which is new)…

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And then it devolved into crazy in-my-lap psychosis.

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Always fun (that big dog is upside down in my lap and the little one is trying to stomp her).

It seemed logical to just go to bed and hope today was more productive. It should be. I probably should walk the dogs this evening, but hopefully that will just be a short 3-miler. And then food and sewing. Grading. Ugh. I don’t like the last part, but it needs to be done.

And I just saw this…and interview by HollyAnne of String and Story. Go check it out and then wander through the rest of her website…

*Bon Iver, Skinny Love


Some Nights I Call It a Draw*

September 15, 2016

I’m quilting! Yes, even though the union meeting went until after 6 PM and I had to blow off book club for about the 4th month in a row (I  even read the books and then don’t make it to the meeting…even more lame)…I still managed to quilt for almost three hours last night. I’m not even sure how I did that. I think I got into a zone and didn’t come out until I realized I had two meetings this morning and actually remembered to set my alarm early. A miracle, surely.

I’ve been getting a few messages from Chattanooga attendees, at the shop and the show. I appreciate all the little protests going on. There’s a few people here wearing the pins around, even at school (it’s in cursive…the kids can’t read cursive. It will be our new old-people secret language). I really can’t waste any more energy on their crazy. ALL their crazy. But you should go to the show and appreciate the SAQA quilts that are there, and check out the rest of it, and then head out to Spool to see my two and Melly Testa’s piece as well.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get the next quilt (without a penis in it) done in time. And mentally work on the next two projects at once.

Not the easiest thing to do. Kitten still resents my taking her chair. Look at her face. Won’t even meet my eyes.

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I booked all the way through the rest of the rocks and the water and up both sides through the land sections, and then did the boat…

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And I started working on stuff in the boat, but that’s when I looked at the clock.

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I only have about 3 1/2 hours in…and most of the detail is in the center section, where the three larger bodies overlap, so that’s the next step. I don’t think I’ll get much done tonight…I’m going to a drum circle thing. You know, like you do on a school night. I hate thinking of it as school nights and not being able to do stuff, but that’s the reality of it. I can’t blow off teaching because I was out late…and for me, it’s usually just staying up late making art. But it is looking more and more like I’ll get it quilted this weekend. I can’t ignore the pile of Unit 1 science packets staring me in the face, though. They need grading, because we just started Unit 2. I made a mistake on the cover, but we’re teaching kids to recover from that shit (because they’ll have to), so I rolled with it. I was drawing and thought H 2 O. So that’s what I drew. An H and 2 Os. Duh.

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I think the molecules look like spaced-out frogs.

I really should go in early, because I’m not even prepped for today. I had a meeting after school yesterday and didn’t think to do it during 8th period. Ugh. I hate that. I used to have early prep and that helped, but this midday stuff is mostly useless. Sigh.

*Fun, Some Nights


I’m Not Gonna Crack*

September 8, 2016

Unhhhnhhh. That’s what this morning feels like. Maybe a little Arrrggggghhh as well. But mostly Unnhhhnhhhh. The whole day feels like that when I do that morning review of what I need to do. Sure, the first cup of tea has not been ingested yet. That might help. Was it yesterday? Did I not get enough done last night? Did some hellish things happen? No. That’s not it. I did a ton of school stuff and went to the gym and then started ironing. Pretty damn effective. No sitting on the couch and staring at a TV or a phone.

I would have liked to get more ironing done, but I think that’s always the case. I laid out the 1000s, but I haven’t finished the 900s…I finished the last figure’s arms. Shit. I didn’t even do 100 pieces last night, I think. Sigh.

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Then I took the other two figures and ironed them into the center of that circle. That was a bit fussy. Sometimes I have to uniron things and move things around a bit. Even stretch fabric to make things fit. And it’s hard when the piece is bigger than the ironing board. I’ve been known to iron on the floor. Explains why the floor is damaged, I guess. So that’s three torsos right there.

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I thought about trying to fit that onto the lower torsos last night, but it was getting late and that sounded complicated. I didn’t have much brain power left at that point. It was late.

So I started on the fourth figure’s head. I didn’t get super far. Well, those trees had a goodly chunk of pieces in them. She looks uber-creepy without a face. Who knows…maybe she’ll look just as creepy with one. So that’s all that’s left…her face, the clouds (with 100 pieces of stuff going on in them), and then iron the big pieces together and onto a background. Piece o’ cake. Haha.

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I would have gotten further if I hadn’t done all the school work, but honestly, I can’t blow all of that off every night. My prep periods are getting eaten up by planning for the next unit, so I can’t get anything else done. It’s really time-consuming. Plus next week is crazy for school, so I’m trying to get ahead of it. And that’s amusing, because as a teacher, I’m never ahead of it. I can run as fast as I can, and it’s still right there, underfoot, tripping me up. September really is a survival month for teachers. Like June, but without vacation at the end of it.

Trying to keep my head above water. The plus is that hopefully I can get this thing ironed down soon…maybe trying to get it done tonight is a bit much, but certainly tomorrow? Then the stitch down. This is big, but not huge. Big quilts take about 10 hours to stitch down. So less than that. I think I might still be able to get it sandwiched this weekend. I should check my batting stash though. I know I have enough to piece a backing, but batting for something this long might be an issue. I feel like I just bought a chunk of batting though. So maybe that problem is already solved.

So I’m almost all the way through the first cup of tea and it’s still Unnhnnnh. Laughing to myself. Because today might be a bit of a challenge at school…lab day. You give them equipment and sometimes stupid stuff just happens. Like I told my co-teacher, at some point yesterday, I’m like “Drop everything and step away from the lab table…hands in the air,” because you put this stuff in front of them and their brains stop working. All they can do is play with the stuff. “Put ALL the rulers down. Now. Before someone gets hurt.” I remember about 10 years ago when I was in a teaching program where we had to videotape ourselves teaching and I went back and watched the lesson and EVERY kid had a ruler and was doing something with it besides measuring something or drawing a straight line with it. I don’t know what it is about them, but they twirl them and try to bend them and flail around with them, and if you watch the video, you wonder how anyone teaches anything to middle-school kids EVER. Because that. I’m sure they wonder why we get so crazy about their behavior. I need a room spray that helps them focus on something besides pencil leads and lab equipment. None of them will remember how to USE it today after yesterday’s lesson. But whatever.

So that’s what today will be like, and hopefully I can keep a sense of humor about it (it would help if I were less tired)…because honestly that’s how I survive most of what they do. I think to teach this age group you have to be just a little bit nuts.

*Nirvana, Lithium


And if I Was Stronger…*

September 6, 2016

There are people who probably exit a 3-day weekend with a sense of relaxation and repose. I am not one of them. I am pleased with what I got done, but wish (always) it was more. Wish I could move time a bit. Although if I could move it a bit, I’d probably move it a lot, and then it would always be Spring Break…not Winter Break, because Christmas and all the holiday stuff is hellish. Not Summer Break, because it’s too hot here. Yesterday was delightful. I had to put a sweater on at one point. It was the precursor to Fall, except here that’s a joke because our summers come in September and October, so the hot hell just hasn’t hit yet. But I enjoyed it while it was here. Not by going outside, unfortunately…I did work all weekend. I wish now that I had hiked a bit.

Mostly I ironed…I got the bottom part of the three larger torsos done and in the boat, with the cat and the smaller figure in front. It’s hard to tell them apart at this point…but the quilting and inking will help with that.

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In fact, the overlapping figures makes this a pain to iron as well. I originally numbered the front figure first, and then back…and it would have made more sense to do the back one first. What I’m doing is ironing from multiple numbered bins as I go, filling in from the back to the front. This makes it hard to know how much I have done.

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The front figure is the smallest, but has the most visible detail.

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And the arms aren’t making it easy either. I don’t really think about ease of MAKING while I’m drawing. I just count on my ability to figure it out. So in this section, I finished the 400s, did most of the 500s, but also have 600s, 700s, and 800s scattered around in there..

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I like to know how much I have done…it helps me figure out how much there is left. Not happening with this one.

I had to iron the face separately, because I couldn’t see all the parts well enough in the middle of all those other pieces. The teeth were the main issue.

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Then once the front figure was done, I started in on the one behind her.

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Yeah, she looks scared. But I don’t think it’s because of him. I think he’s trying to help. She’s just not getting any real comfort out of that. I’m gonna have a lot of fun trying to explain this one. Yup. Another dream.

Anyway, so I’m into the 600s now, but almost done with them…just his head, I think. Then I’ve already done some of the 700s. So I know I’m more than halfway through, which is good, because I’m over 10 hours in (in two days) and I want this thing ironed down to the background this week. And stitched down by the end of the weekend. In fact, it would be ideal if this were a quilt sandwich by next Monday. Is that possible? Well, of course it is. Although life always ALWAYS gets in the way. The question is, how badly? We shall see. I set goals, people, so I can break them or make them. If I don’t set them, the work doesn’t happen.

The girlchild posted this over the weekend. The boychild and I are pointing out the three peaks…Cuyamaca, Middle, and Stonewall. This is from the Sunset Trail hike in the Lagunas this summer, the one that apparently almost killed the girlchild. The one where I remembered I need to carry chocolate…really GOOD chocolate…on every hike with her.

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I did a lot of this over the last two days. He needs it. It’s blurry because he never stops moving except when he’s asleep.

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And I graded a bunch…although only one long torturous assignment. Midnight was absolutely no help.

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And the laundry had this lone sock. Not mine. Boychild says it doesn’t help, although it is his.

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This is kind of my life right now. The one left-behind sock. Yeah, the long weekends are hard. I don’t have time to go out and socialize, but my head doesn’t do well with all the alone time. I had a shitload of work to do, so I was busy, but not busy enough. It is what it is. And now it’s the “work” week. Because I don’t work all the time. Amusing.

*Ingrid Michaelson, Sort of