Ripping the Drawing Out…

So how do I get a drawing out of me? Sometimes it spills out, fully formed, from my head, where it’s been growing for days. Or I wake up with it in my brain from some dream I had. Or more often, I’m driving around or at the gym or on a hike, and I see a hand in my head and the pen is moving and the drawing forms right there.

But sometimes, I have part of a drawing and there’s more that needs to be done to size…as in, I’m drawing it the actual size that it will be in the final piece. This is rare for me, but it happens. And then sometimes, I have to rip it out of me. Staring at the paper, sketching ideas, erasing them, pounding my hand down, my head pounding in response. That drawing just won’t come out easily. It has to be birthed.

I had about 4 1/2 hours in by Saturday night. Then Sunday, I stared at it a lot, but put in another 2 hours and 50 minutes. With Kitten’s help (not)…but there’s the upper arm and the bird…

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But in the distance, Katie…(that’s the girlchild’s foot)…

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Zoom out. Red arrow is Katie, my parents’ dog.

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Staring at Kitten. On the light table. Katie got picked up today, so Kitten has free rein in the house again. Which is nice, because moving her around so I could draw yesterday was a pain in the butt.

I do use photos as reference for animals…and bugs. I used this lion and another one to draw the one on the leg…

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I looked at bee, butterfly, thistle, and howling wolf photos as well. And a raven.

Here you can see that the whole pissed-off Earth Mother figure is taking shape.

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Here’s a better view of the left torso. I got most of that done yesterday…

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And then I added a snake…a particular snake, with specific colors. So I wouldn’t forget, I saved it on my iPad…but I also noted the colors on the drawing…

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Here’s the snake around the legs…

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And that’s where I gave up last night. I stared at it and googled images for about 20 minutes before I gave up. Because I knew I wanted some sort of dog or wolf, but didn’t know where to put it, and at that point, I was debating bones or not, because there aren’t any in the other figure, but then that makes sense, because that’s the manmade version and this is the natural version.

Anyway. I drew today as well, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that. But right now, at 9 PM, no, I’m not done with the drawing. I’m hoping to be soon. I think I will be soon. I’m going to get some caffeine in me and see if I can bang it out…because this drawing has about 9 hours in it so far. And I wanted it done last night (ha!). So yeah. Done and numbered tonight, so I can start tracing tomorrow. The editing job fell through (seems a common theme), but a writing job is there, and I’m working on that. But not tonight. And I have some other errands I have to do tomorrow.

It’s funny, I know I’m stressed about money and projects because I’m grinding my teeth and I have those weird canker sores I get at the end of the school year and when stuff is really stressful, but I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be stressed over summer, right? Yeah. I know. My own fault.

Good news on the quilt front though…Earth Mother for Ventura got into the show up at the Ventura County Government Building, so it will be there from August 28-October 13 for your viewing pleasure…

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So go see it. I won’t be at the opening. Can’t get there in time from San Diego. Good to be getting into shows again.

OK. Drawing calls. Loudly. From the other room. Rude little beast.

Some Amazing Splinters

Cue music. I am deep in summer mode. I find it torturous to do mundane chores or errands. I just want to write and make art. I’ll leave for social events, because I know I’m deep in hermit mode, but it’s hard sometimes to walk away. Yesterday, though? Yesterday I needed a break. I have a drawing I started ages ago…

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April I think? And I enlarged it about 200% and then realized I had a whole ‘nother figure to draw and the piece could be up to 60″ square. I like big quilts. I like lots of detail. This was going to be my summer quilt, and yes, some other stuff jumped in front of it, but I delivered two quilts to the photographer today, and I’m feeling good! So yesterday, I pulled this one out…

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And laid it out. You can see I added quite a bit to the left, where the other figure will be, plus some space at the bottom for the legs to be finished, and some at the top, just in case. Now it looks tiny.

There is no bathtub in this one.

I probably spent a couple of hours on the first part of the drawing. So yesterday afternoon, I started on the knees and the rest of the legs.

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Then I penciled in a figure on the left and started deciding what she would really look like. I penciled in just general shapes…you can see some pencil of the torso.

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It’s a good thing I started in pencil, because the head was WAY too big and had to be redrawn like three times to get it to the right size.

This figure needs to be standing over the other figure, but it also needs different things on it, so I have to keep stopping and thinking instead of drawing. That’s how I know it’s time to take a break…I’ve been staring at the drawing for WAY too long and nothing’s getting drawn.

The photos get more difficult at this point…it’s really dark in there. But you can see I got most of the head and chest area done…

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One arm is done but needs decoration. The other arm is not done and I didn’t start the middle of the torso. There were just too many ideas in my head at that point, and I couldn’t focus. Why? Because I’d been working on it for two hours and 40 minutes. No small amount of time. And it’s not even halfway done, that second figure. Hmm. I’m hoping to finish tonight, maybe even number it. We’ll see.

My time totals rarely include drawing time, because I don’t usually keep track of that.

I tried to get a photo that shows the whole thing, but even brightened and put in black and white, it’s too hard to see. You can see the hips and legs coming down on the left.

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So it’s almost 6 PM and I have to cook dinner. Well, the pizza dough is coming to room temperature, so I have some time. But someone is hogging the television, and my brain needs TV light to distract me from the part of my brain that wants to censor the drawing. Actually, I’m watching Helix, which is not light enough unfortunately. I keep having to rewind to figure out the story, but it is growing on me. Some virus that’s carried in honey or some mother tree or something. It makes the men infertile. I’m not sure what it does to the women. Having just spent time reading the summaries, my confusion between bees and honey and apples and Mother Tree and the bleeding tree makes complete sense. There is no sense yet. I think I have 4 episodes to make sense of it all. That might be how long it takes me to finish this drawing.

I’ve also been writing. I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo in an attempt to finish the sci fi novel I started last summer and wrote a giant chunk of over November. I’ve written about 5000 words, which isn’t great, but is better than I’d done so far this summer without motivation, and then I got asked to write another story, so I did that in the last two days, almost 5000 words there as well. That stuff takes time, for sure…as does writing here. But it’s all good. Writing clears my mind. Drawing does too, but in an entirely different way. I can have the drawing working in my head while I write, and a hand moves around, putting objects all over, trying them out, while the words spill out on the screen. Same as when I draw, while I’m moving the pen around on the paper, the story is writing itself, characters bouncing around, dying off, meeting others on the road, making decisions about plot while I draw.

My brain is truly split off in some amazing splinters.

States of Terror…

I had someone ask me recently what I do when I’m not teaching or making art (and it’s obviously not sleeping), and there’s a wide variety of things I like to do: the movies, obviously hiking (on hiatus until I find out if this is a broken bone in my foot), art opening, reading, and sometimes (although it’s been a while) a book reading. Last Saturday, I went to this…

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to hear a friend of a friend read (because how else do you hear about these things?). I had never been to Digital Gym, although I’ve been invited to a ton of things there, so that was interesting. They have a nice outdoor space for these things, but it started to rain, so they moved us inside into the computer lab.

The reading was part of the release of this book…

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Volume 1 in a series of stories about monsters in every state (available on Amazon). Certain creatures seem to inhabit territories, and each state seems to have a list of those monsters that are most known there. The authors picked monsters and states and wrote, and the artists illustrated. The reading was a sampling of edited stories (for time), and was definitely worth the trip.

I tried to photograph each author reading, but missed the first one, and then they did some weird backlit scheme, which didn’t help my photos, but here they are…

I missed Jessica Hilt…my camera was deep in my bag, but here’s the art for her Frogman story titled Punctuated Equilibrium

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The art is by David Ferreira.

Here is Sunny Katz reading her scary Mystery Box

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About a dog that can sit on the ceiling before it eats you.

Ed Farragut reading When You’ve Seen Beyond about the Dover Demon…

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Hanna Tawater reading Wakiya, a surreal tale of snakes who could fly…

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Jim Ruland reading Flesh Air, the story of the Bunnyman…

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Julia Dixon’s story of a weeping mother looking for her lost children, La Llorona, She Weeps with You

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Ryan Bradford’s The Desert Climate…a story about a missing wife and maybe some aliens… 

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Rachel Lee Taylor’s Route 351, the story of Charlie No-Face…

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And finally, the man we came for, Alex Bosworth, whose story Old Foukey made everyone laugh out loud with his sarcastic tale of a balding monster with an enormous penis…

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 I took the obligatory weird leg photo…

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And saw this art in the book…by Emily Dumas…

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I’m totally giving that little guy a hug…

All in all, very enjoyable. I’m looking forward to reading all the stories and seeing future readings as the rest of the volumes come out…only 18 stories were included in this one, and they plan to do all 50 states.

To Write or Not to Write

For those who have been reading for long enough, you’ve seen my moods swing all over the map. I wrote out an entire year and a half of recovering from depression. Was I recovering? I think so. Is it recovering when it’s depression, or just reclaiming the self you were before, which doesn’t exist any more, because you went through whatever it was you went through? So surviving might be a better word. It’s like a tsunami: major damage in the beginning and then you rebuild and it takes time and everything looks a little different afterwards. It will never be the island town it was before. Mine was a tsunami anyway…a major unexpected change in my life that I apparently couldn’t process for a very long time. For some it’s maybe more like climate change, slow and deliberate and mostly out of your control, but inherently world-damaging.

And I know now that I didn’t cause the tsunami…and I’m the one who did the rebuilding. So I guess that’s useful information. And I know that my own health issues, whether hormones or thyroid or iron deficiency, didn’t help the post-tsunami destruction, and I still am dealing with some of those health issues, because you can’t run away from perimenopause and it fucks with a variety of body systems.

But I had many people tell me I was brave or thank me for writing about what I was going through, commiserating with me, telling me how they felt the same way.

But they couldn’t write about it.

I wrote myself out of that hole. I can’t live in my head with this stuff. It drags you so far down that it’s like there’s no way out at all or ever, and if I didn’t write, I don’t know that I would ever have gotten out of bed. Art helped too. So did having two kids who were standing around trying to figure out where their previous mom had gone and whether she would ever come back. I think some version of her did.

And I don’t want to go back there. But you can’t control all the physical things that affect depression and you certainly can’t control a ton of external things, so once you have been depressed like that (and here’s where I admit that although that was the worst I had ever experienced it, it certainly wasn’t the first time I had to seek help for that), then you are at a higher risk for experiencing it again. “Experiencing” it. Like it’s a roller coaster ride (it’s not). Surviving it. Having it wallop you in the face. Throw you down that hole again. Send the wolves after you. Rain on your parade…endlessly.

You can choose not to say anything to anyone. I think at some point it’s obvious to those who know you. Or maybe everyone.

Why write now? I’m teetering on the edge. I can’t even tell you all the things that have pushed me to that edge, although the biological shit is just fucking annoying. If I could control that stupid shit, I’d be a lot better off. But I can’t at the moment.

Know that I continue to make art…although last night, that consisted of sewing bindings, because honestly, after having been gone from the house for over 13 hours, I was mostly braindead. So my goal of an hour ironing pieces? Yeah. Didn’t happen. Because I didn’t have the brain power or the desire and I was in my head, racing around like a wounded dog, snapping at everything my brain tried to push at me to mollify me. This is when having deadlines and being a responsible artist (ha! Not an oxymoron) comes in useful. I have to finish this shit. I told people I would. I do what I say. So I have to do it. And I will.

And I’ll keep writing about it because it helps me. And maybe it helps you to know that a lot of art comes out of this need to heal oneself, to remove whatever is inside from festering and spill it out onto paper or onto the screen. Put it where it can’t hurt me any more.

I don’t know. Maybe I just write. And I would do it no matter what.

Some Peace and Forgetfulness

So my original plan of getting all the fabric picked for the Women at War quilt did not happen. That whole watching-soccer and planning-for-school thing just kicked my butt. Plus digging holes and trimming dead branches off trees. And maybe sleeping. But only a little. Sleep is still not my friend.

But I’m not giving up. I set these goals to keep me on track. Like writing…I am still trying to do some every day; I’m just not worried about hitting a word limit every day any more.

This is what my NaNoWriMo graph looked like…


I was pretty consistent. I’m happy with what I did.

Then Saturday night, after late-afternoon soccer, I started ironing again…here’s the 4 different flesh piles I had…

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Because this quilt has more bodies in it than I think I’ve ever done. Well, maybe not. I have some with tiny bodies…but these are big…and there are about 9 of them. I think. Hard to tell, honestly, down in the pile. By the end of Saturday, this is what I had in the bin to cut out…

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And these are the other fabrics I’d used besides the flesh tones.

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And here’s the pie I had in the middle of all that…

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So the last two nights, I kept ironing, trying to stay on top of it…

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This is Sunday night…and honestly, I wanted to be done Sunday, and I wasn’t…

Here’s all the fabrics I’d used by then…not very colorful.

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Lots of browns and a ton of flesh colors (which aren’t even in that pile). Here’s the box of pieces to be cut out (guess what I’ll be doing next?)…

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Monday night, I laid them all out so I could see them…again, this is still without the flesh colors…when you realize the red, yellow, blue, and green pieces are little tiny pieces in the big picture, it really is a mostly brown and flesh-colored quilt.

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I finally got to the main figure last night. Usually, I number so that the main figure gets cut out first. I don’t know why I did it differently this time. I only had this much of the lightest fabric…

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I had to fussy iron the pieces on there…but I really wanted to use it. So I made it work.

As of last night, this is what’s left to iron.

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Here’s the pile of fabrics I used for the main figure. That tiny pile on top is what’s left of that light fabric. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it…

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Make a really tiny flesh thing. So it was after midnight when I finished cutting out all the flesh of the main figure. This is what was left…

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The bones, hair, nipples, lungs, heart, bandolier, and bullets. Oh. And a gun. Fun stuff. I was too tired to deal with that many choices, so I left it for tonight. And it’s only Tuesday, so I’m two days late. Not so bad. I should set another goal now. I plan to have all the pieces cut out by (Kathryn, think this through…you have gym and a soccer game in the rain and a meeting and a hike)…let’s say Sunday night. Then I can iron it together next week and (holy crap, I was looking at my calendar and freaking out about how much time was left, and then I realized it was still on November. Damn.) start stitching down the following week, and get it quilted Christmas week. Right? Sure. No problem. We’ll see what that looks like in real life.

Saturday’s soccer…

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was playing against the team whose coach is the same for my daughter’s high-school team. We’ve never liked him, so it was awesome when girlchild made the first goal against them…

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And I think we went on to make 4 more…

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I was grading papers. I also wrote some of the novel. It was not particularly warm.

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Yes, we had soccer yet another day…

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Girlchild is playing well, no back problems at all. She starts the high-school season this week.

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So I’m going to be spending a lot of time freezing and/or wet on metal bleachers.

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But it’s the last year of that, which is kind of weird. Guess that’s part of why I’m an emotional mess all the time. Oh yeah, well, and there’s other stuff. But whatever. I’m getting lots of art made. And entering more shows. And reading a lot. It could be worse. I could be holed up in bed and never taking a shower. You’re thankful I’m not like that. Hell, I’m thankful I’m not like that. I wish I could say that making all this art makes me feel better, but all I can say is in the moment, while I’m picking fabrics or drawing or stitching, in the moment, there is peace and some level of forgetfulness of all the shit, and that is a good thing.

NaNoWriMo: Where I Wro Mo

It’s interesting to look at when and where I wrote for NaNoWriMo. I certainly got better at it as the month went on, and it’s a habit now, so I’m more likely to just DO it than I was before. I don’t have to write an entire scene to write. I can just write a little bit and then pick it up again later. It’s not like I really know what’s happening next most of the time anyway.

First of all, before I started writing this book back in June, I did write a lot. I wrote this damn blog. Almost every day for the last year and a half, three times a week before that. Mostly, I did it on the computer. I’m faster at typing on a computer than I am on any other device, and it has more capability, usually has a larger screen, etc. I had been known to write my blog on my iPad Mini AND on my phone, though, especially when traveling, but then photos become an issue. So this idea of writing while out of the house was not new to me.

So here’s where I wrote…

Saturday: In a plane from Houston, then in a tiny little lost terminal at LAX, all on an iPad Mini; then later, at my computer

Sunday: On a stationary bike (iPad), then on the computer

Monday: In a staff meeting (OK, let’s just admit that everything that wasn’t on my computer was on the iPad), on my computer, on the couch

Tuesday: On a stationary bike at the gym, at my computer

Wednesday: While on the phone, at my computer, on my iPad waiting for the girlchild to finish with my computer, while updating girlchild’s computer so she would stop using my computer (sense a pattern?)

Thursday through Sunday: On that computer, some days better than others (aka, I didn’t go anywhere that writing was acceptable)

I should explain that I did all of this in Google Docs, so I could access it anywhere. There are pros and cons to that, of course…one being when the file gets really large, it also gets cranky. I now have two files for this story: the first is the 36 pages I wrote over the summer and leading up to NaNoWriMo, and the second is the 74 pages I wrote this month. It doesn’t sound like much when you put it that way, eh? It’s OK. They’re single-spaced and I’m looking at word count more than pages. I’m kind of at the point where I think I’m going to start a third file…this one is getting too big as well. Some people have argued for other programs, but this worked well for what I needed. It was a pain in the butt if I needed to go back and find some detail, so I started another Doc that I called Characters, with a list of character names and traits, but it expanded to list the types of plants I was dealing with, locations of the labs (yup, my whole story takes place in a variety of science labs…and a jacuzzi). I’m not sure I would write any differently with a special program. It just might make editing easier.

Monday and Tuesday: On the iPad at the gym, at the computer

Wednesday: Wherever I could

Thursday: in professional development when my brain couldn’t take it any more (oh my god, shut up!), at the gym, on the bike, and then I couldn’t get it out of my head, so on the elliptical as well (that was a challenge)

Friday on a boring old computer

Saturday: In professional development, waiting for the speaker to finish, on a padded bench with Ruthie next to me. In between classes, sitting at high-school desks. On my computer. On my iPad. At the CUE!

Sunday through the following Thursday: mostly on the computer, sometimes on the iPad. I didn’t have anywhere I had to be where I could also write (not OK to write a book while in a parent meeting). Oh yeah, and I actually didn’t write on Thanksgiving. I had hit 50,000 words the night before, well, actually, at holy shit in the morning, so I felt OK with not writing then.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: on a soccer field x 3, on my computer also x 3; I had written on a soccer field before, so this was not new.

I sat there at yesterday’s game before it started and typed two huge paragraphs where one hybrid was trying to attack another and tranquilizer darts and all this, while listening to a bunch of parents yammer on about what colleges were courting their kid. And I have to say, I do feel like some sort of bizarre alien, writing a book while all that is going on, but I guess that’s nothing new. I do know I can write just about anywhere, so that’s a good thing. Before, I thought I had to be in the right mood and the muse had to be present, and no, fuck that. I can just write. I am the fucking muse. The story’s in my head. I just have to pull it out.

Good lesson learned. Now I just need to finish this book.




Kicking It Back…

So yeah, I’m back. I’ve actually been here all along, but as I’m sure you realize, that whole holiday-with-family thing kind of eats up your free time. So I sleep even less. And at 1:30 AM, I’m not willing to START writing a blogpost. And mornings have been fraught. So here’s what happened.

On Wednesday, I spent a lot of time cutting out Wonder Under for the new quilt, which is for a theme of Women at War, with interpretation pretty open as to what that meant. I’ve felt like other people have been coming after my uterus and everything within and around for quite a while, despite some nice-guy misogynists telling me I was imagining it. I mean, what the fuck do you know as a privileged rich white man? Best thing you can do as a man? Admit that you mostly don’t have a fucking clue what it’s like to be a woman. You might have an inkling, but otherwise: Not inside, biologically, with periods and pregnancy and mood swings and menopause; not outside, trying to walk somewhere in public, dating, safety, being perceived as an object, wearing the wrong thing, whether you’re showing stuff off or not, it’s always wrong. Not breastfeeding, not being the mom, not with society’s expectations. I’m not saying being a man doesn’t have similar issues; I just think there are more “acceptable” options for men (in terms of what society believes). And I full-on admit I don’t understand what it’s like to be a man. Some men have some of a clue, but mostly it seems not. The better men are understanding even when they don’t understand.

So the drawing was full of all these stereotypes and yet she stands tall on a pile of men. Because every man came from a woman, y’all.

Anyway, my rampant feminism aside, I need to get the quilt done in the next…um…5 weeks. Yup. So speedy mode. Midnight? Not helping…

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Licking my elbow does not help me. This might even have been the night before. It looks awfully dark. It is! It’s Tuesday night. I sit on the couch and watch all the stuff I have saved on Tivo…

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If girlchild is still awake, I have to watch her stuff. Some of her stuff is also my stuff…top box is pieces, bottom box is trash…in case I drop pieces in it (which I often do).

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In the late afternoon (because I had to run a thousand errands), I managed to finish cutting and sort them all into bins by 100s. This is a smaller quilt, so there’s only 8 bins! A miracle.

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Of course, I also did the two birds that need to be done in December, so that was two more bins.

And then because this time of year isn’t crazy enough, girlchild and I hiked Iron Mountain in the dark with the group I often hike with.

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She wanted to show she had conquered the mountain.

That night, I realized I would need to clean the office up a bit to be able to cut fabrics out. I hadn’t put everything away from last time (and honestly, it’s a disaster area in here anyway, because all my school stuff lives in here too). So I had drawers open that cats had slept in and fabric piled everywhere…

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I like a fresh start. Plus I need that table cleared off because that’s where I put the Wonder Under pieces.

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And one section of the floor, I think the cats had knocked a bunch of stuff down (they get a bit rambunctious sometimes), so I needed to clean that up. Finding floor space in here has been a priority this last month. Two feet at a time, people. Two square feet is all I ask.

I had a ton of fabric to put away, both from the last quilt and from Houston, so I started by stacking by color, because everything in here is stored by color, except for the ones where I can’t figure out what color it is.

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That was about halfway through. There were some issues with storage. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I use…it is not enough.

And I found this from a million years ago, from an Ellen Anne Eddy class.

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Hand-dyed silk velvet plus thread-painted fetus. You know, like you do. That may still be in here when I die.

So at that point, it was Thursday, and although girlchild does most of the cooking, that means I get stuck with the cleaning (and then she complains that she can’t find anything because I moved it…from the couch to her bedroom), and I also cook a few things and I constantly try to clean up in the kitchen, which drives her nuts, but I can’t stand having to do it all at once.

So this picture is about 10 minutes before dinner is served. She’s making gravy. The fire extinguisher is out because she spilled turkey juices on the stovetop and it got in the box where the controller things are (technical term) and short-circuited something, and for a few minutes, we had loud popping noises and big sparks and electrical fire smoke. So yeah. A typical Thanksgiving…

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The wine? Well. Obvious. See fire extinguisher. Especially after loud pops and sparks. And no, it’s not fixed yet. It’s actually not top on my list at the moment. The rest of it works, I got everything cleared off of there because of the fire danger, and I have other things that are more pressing. No really, the sink is completely clogged and getting fixed this afternoon, so I can finally do all the dishes. THEN I will deal with the stove.

Thanksgiving was small this year…just my parents, me, the girlchild, and the ex…

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Guess he has decided Brits can celebrate that holiday…food was good, of course…

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She makes a mess in the kitchen, tries to set the house on fire, but it always tastes good.

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And yes, we’re still eating it. Ex came over last night and took away two platefuls of food. Sent a bunch home with my parents as well. And then we realized girlchild wouldn’t be around next year to cook.

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Shit. I think we’re going out. I do cook. I just don’t want to spend that much time cooking for so few people.

Or dogs. I don’t feed dogs people food. Dogs LIKE people food.

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Oh yeah. Pie and pi. All good.

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Once the food was all eaten and I had cleaned up as much as I could with a nonworking sink, I finished cleaning up the studio (ah, much better)…

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Hung the new drawing where I could see it, assumed the background fabric I had would work, and started the next fabric-picking adventure…

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I don’t know what YOU do when chock full of tryptophan. I told you I was a bit crazy.

I picked all the stuff on the bottom…

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And then started thinking about the fleshy issues…a pile of 7 or 8 bodies that I need to be able to distinguish from each other? Need at least two sets of flesh runs…

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Luckily, they’re pretty simple bodies, so I don’t need the usual run of 7 fabrics or so. Although on the right, that’s the run for the main female figure, I think. The stuff on the left was the first of the male bodies.

Friday morning dawned nice and clear, and soccer was first on the agenda…of course.

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Girlchild decided to play for another team, because hers didn’t get into the tournament they wanted. Luckily, it’s local, because we have a game a day.

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I graded papers (ah, back to reality) and watched her run around and score one goal…

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They beat an Alaskan team 5-1. I’m sure that team was a little hampered by the over-80-degree weather. Then I came home and helped dad do some yard things and went and bought two trees with him to block off that big open space that has been there since April? March? Don’t even remember how long. I need to go out there today and dig holes and trim off dead stuff and be a responsible homeowner (my neighbors will be thrilled). And I went to the gym. See, this is where time goes. But at the gym, I wrote…yes, I’m still writing. The story’s still not done. And I finished my book (the one I was reading). And these were good things. And then I traced some more Wonder Under for another piece, a small one that’s been lying around for a good long while…

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Of course, technically it has nudity in it, so it can’t go into any of the shows coming up that need smaller pieces. I’m tired of making things FOR something, though, even though I don’t mind the themes that I’ve been in…sometimes you just have to make the stuff you WANT to make. I’m getting a wave of that feeling coming on…strong. I traced this also because I was watching something on Netflix that I couldn’t watch in my studio and I wanted to finish the episode.

Anyway, then back to the studio…where I kept going on the pile of flesh…

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Which is taking significantly more time than I usually take, mostly because it’s complicated to figure out what is overlapping where, and to make sure I have all the pieces for that body, and that the fabrics don’t overlap in the wrong way.

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After 4 hours of ironing, I am barely in the 200s. The plus is I should finish the pile of bodies today, so it will go faster after that. I think. I hope. Because remember how I said I wanted to be done with the ironing by the time school starts again? And there are two more soccer games? Plus I have to plan for school, because hey, we do have to go back there, despite the scary adrenaline rush I get when I think about it? I calculated grades yesterday from the stuff I had graded so far after break. It’s possible I should just quit teaching right now. I’m an absolute failure.

Sigh. So. And on top of all this, I slammed my finger in the door and I keep reopening the wound (bandaids forever!), a Golden Retriever is currently trying to play ball with me, my kitchen looks like a hurricane hit it, and the fish at school has probably died because I keep forgetting to go over there and feed it. Girlchild has applied to her first college, boychild got food poisoning on Thanksgiving from something (he did not have turkey dinner), and I’ve been living on deviled eggs for three days (I’m not sure that’s a bad thing).

This time of year just kicks my ass. So I’m going to kick it back by making lots of art. Yup. You can’t stop me.

Here’s Aug(de)mented Reality 2…for some post-turkey amusement…

Yeah, it’s goofy. Goofy’s OK sometimes.

I’m a Weener…

Hey, so I’m not going to write a lot today because I’m tired and you know what? I’ve already written a lot today. When I finally decided (after two years of having nothing to write about, but WANTING to write) to try NaNoWriMo this year, I thought I’d have to cut back on the blog, but I didn’t. And I finished a major quilt at the same time. And I think I averaged over 5 hours of sleep a night (this is a vast improvement over last year at this time, trust me).

So in late May, this idea for a book started poking at me…a plant/animal hybrid. And what that would look like. And what might happen to it. And being able to make your own FOOD! (which only works if you expose yourself to the sun, I realized as I was writing). And I probably was watching WAY too much X-Files, because of course the government would be involved and not in a good way (I don’t really trust government, which is funny, because technically, as a teacher, I work for the government). The idea niggled and poked and prodded, and finally, sometime in June, I started writing. I wrote about 25,000 words during the summer. I wanted to do more than that. I had a plan of 10,000 words/week, which totally didn’t happen, and once school started…well, sheeet. I barely wrote at all.

So I made a plan, a goal, to do NaNoWriMo, which if you don’t know (and can’t use The Google) stands for National Novel Writing Month, taking place in November, wherein a writer makes a goal to write 50,000 words in a month. OK. I do that, and I almost have a completed book. Sci fi books are usually between 75,000 and 100,000 words. Plus I would need to edit, right? So if I did 50,000 words, I’d be pretty damn close to a full novel. And if I failed, hell, I would still have more words than I did before.

So I set out on November 1st to do the recommended 1667 words per day that gets you to 50K on time. And most days I did that and more. Mostly at night, after dinner, before art time. I had no outline, no plan. I have a Google doc with the original 25,000 words, another one with the words I wrote for this month, and a third one with all the character’s names and details, just so I can remember them without going back through the rest of the story. And I haven’t done that: gone back through. Occasionally I skim through for a specific detail, but I haven’t read the whole thing since August. The doc is called “justwrite” and that’s what I do. I just write. I read the last few sentences from the night/day before and I pick up from there. And a few times, I was so tired that when I read the two sentences from the night before, I didn’t even remember writing them. I think I wrote them with my eyes closed. Or trolls came in and wrote them for me after they carried me off and tucked me into bed.

And it still makes sense as a story. I think. I won’t know until I finish. So yeah. But I did finish the 50,000 words tonight. On November 26. And NaNoWriMo has a little video of some of their staff cheering for you once you validate the word count. And then they cheer again. And again. And again! Because you know why? It’s pretty fucking amazing that anyone would be able to write all those words in one month, a month where they worked their butt off, and went on 5 or 6 hikes, and flew back from Houston, and sat through staff meetings and IEPs and parent-teacher meetings and hours of professional development (seriously, this month, it was fucking hours). And graded papers. And made a piece of art, not a small one or an easy one, but a significant piece of large art. And wrote her blog almost every day. And fought mood swings and cranky uteri and lived in a house with a teenager. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: No Wonder My House Is Not Clean. Do not judge me. Look at what I DID do.

And still. I wrote. I wrote my heart out. My head. My brain. Vomited all over the screen, my fingers going tippity tappity as fast as lightning. My fingers knowing how the story went before my brain ever caught up.

Dammit. I earned this.


Look. I can do things. I can do cool things. And yes, I do have to keep telling myself that.


Sure. I’m going to keep writing this story until it’s done. It deserves to get itself the fuck out of my head. And then I’ll edit it. And the next story, which is already there, lurking, giggling, wanting to be written…I’ll start it too. Oh yeah, and I totally got the T-shirt.

All the words? They need to go somewhere. They can’t stay in my head.

Vacation…More Time to Work

So. I’m officially on vacation. I traced Wonder Under Friday night for a little while, but I was exhausted and went to bed early, because I had a long hike early Saturday morning. I get up earlier for hikes than I do for school. It’s a little crazy. But it was a good hike (post later) and we went out to eat afterwards, which I almost never do, because you lose the whole day. But I could afford to lose the whole day because I have a whole week of them off. Anyway. It was good. And I came home and tried to function, but the body and brain were old and tired. Eventually, after the second or third cup of tea and some reading of the book club selection that I had to be done with by today (there’s nothing like leaving it until the last minute), I got up and started tracing Wonder Under again…

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The fun part (wait, put “fun” in quotes) about tracing this section is that it’s a pile of bodies that are all overlapping, and although I might have tried to be logical about numbering them in the first place, that logic has now left the building, and I am often staring at the pile, trying to find the next piece in number order. Piece 225 took like 10 minutes to find. I don’t know what I was thinking. So the almost-200 pieces in the pile took forever to trace. But I wasn’t going to give up. I wanted it done, so that when I came back to tracing today, it would be straightforward and relatively easy. Nov 23 14 091 small

The thing is, that pile is gonna kick my ass when I have to pick fabrics out, because overlapping and random behind spaces and I don’t even know what parts go with what body in half of it. Yeah. Way to fuck with yourself, Kathryn. I guess I like a good challenge.

So I’m 4 hours into the tracing and only at piece 287 or so. Like I said, it was a bitch. I have about 5 hours left, I’m guessing, and I’d like to be done today. No really. I would. That might not be realistic though because I still have to go grocery shopping and to book club and to dinner at my parents’ house. Hmn. Are there 5 hours LEFT after all that? So much for vacations, right? That’s why you’re supposed to GO somewhere, so you can relax and stop doing all that other stuff. Then again, I don’t really do anything else right…why start with doing vacations right? It’s a stay-at-home vacation because I can’t afford anything else. I would have loved to have taken the girlchild to NYC, met the boychild there, hung out, got an AirBnB apartment, checked out the city. It would have been cool. It would have been $1500 I don’t have right now. Especially with college apps coming up again.

So we’re here in lovely San Diego, soccer tournament, practices, a couple of hikes, dinner with the close family on Tday. And lots of artmaking. So my plan is to have all the Wonder Under ironed to fabric in a week. Because then school starts back up again and that 3-week stretch notoriously kicks my butt. And then I have vacation again, but only about a week and a half before this next quilt has to be done. So yeah. I need to work hard. Like usual. Like what the fuck is new about that? This is my life. It’s a continuous hard-work endeavor. I’m not always entirely sure what I get out of that. People tell me the art is cool, amazing, etc., but then I just make more of it. I don’t know if there’s a reason for it, except that I’m incredibly unhappy when I don’t make it. And there’s enough of that feeling in my life…I don’t need to make more of it. There must be a better balance though.

I did take time out to finish the book for book club. It must have been cold last night because (1) I was wearing polar fleece in the house (lots of windows behind the light table) and (2) the bitchy old-lady cat was in the living room, curled up tight next to me.

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Which was fine. Notice the pile of dirty clothes on the floor? Girlchild has some cleaning to do. I’m tired of the slob factor. That’s one goal for this vacation…get the mess under control, at least enough to get me through December.

I wanted to show you where I normally write…

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Yup. The computer. The computer desk is a mess. The chair has been scratched all to hell by bitchy cat, who often is sitting on the chair (you can see the top of her head in the picture). Right now, she’s not, but that’s because morning winter sun is over THERE on the table, so she’s curled up over there. Thank god. I can actually sit properly. I’m over 42,000 words on the novel, and I will easily hit 50,000 by Thanksgiving. I’m hoping to keep the momentum going and get to the end, whatever that is, by the end of the year or earlier. I’ve already decided no sequel. So I’m writing it that way. I guess I always knew I would. I do have another book started in my head though. Different story, different characters, different location. Still sci-fi though. Not sure what’s up with that.

Here’s Luana Rubin’s review of the two SAQA exhibits at Houston this year…she mentions my piece.

Someday I’ll meet her in person and tell her how to pronounce my name. Or maybe you could do that for me.

Some Kind of Crazy

Some kind of crazy happened yesterday. I mean, there’s the regular crazy of my job, but then I came home right after work and sat down with a cup of tea and finished the drawing (it took 13 minutes to finish it, by the way, but probably 6 hours to decide how to finish it in 13 minutes). My car tire was having inflation issues again, so I knew I needed to get it some air, but I went to the copy place first and enlarged the drawing, then filled the car with air and gas, then went home and started taping the drawing together. I realized it needed more space below as well as above (I knew about above…there were some leaf-fitting issues…nothing major), so I taped more paper above and below. Girlchild came home and left with the dog. I seriously only see her (girlchild) for like 10-minute sessions, and then she’s gone again. Or I’m gone. Or we’re both gone. And I sort of realized that if I was going to get to quilt class on time, I wasn’t going to be able to finish drawing at the house. So I packed up all the stuff to trace Wonder Under, and I even dropped off my library book on the way there, and I got there and drew the bottom, which I didn’t even know was going to happen until it happened. This is how life is when you let the creative brain have free rein (or is that reign? I could argue both at the moment)…it just does stuff and doesn’t tell you about it. Wow. Just like my relationships. Ha!

Anyway. On track, Kathryn. So then I started numbering, and because of the bizarre penis pileup I have going on in the bottom, it took for-freakin-ever to number that section…

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(OK, it’s just a pile of men, not penises) I was trying to be logical about it, but it turns out, you can’t be particularly logical about chaos. I had about 280 pieces numbered when I finished the pile, so I asked the other quilters at my meeting to hazard a guess as to my total pieces. Susan came in at 1500, Jean at 957, Mary at 1267, and Barbara at 850 (mostly because I kept saying it better NOT be over a thousand, but by then, she could see I was up to 400 and something and she was estimating beyond that. So maybe she had insider information by sitting next to me).

So I ended up getting to 749 (oh thank god…I might actually be able to finish it in time)…

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But then when I got home (because it took me two hours to finish drawing and then number the piece, speaking of not being particularly efficient), I realized I hadn’t numbered the bullet thingie on her chest, which surely has a real name. Let me ask The Google. Holy crap! It IS a bandolier. I thought it was, and then I thought NOOO. That’s like something fancier than that, like something you wear when you dance or something. Yeah. Anyway. I numbered that and got to 768. Totally doable (crazy ass bitch. Are you NUTS?).

Meanwhile, I did write once I got back. I really wanted to start tracing Wonder Under, but I’m being really good about writing every day, so I did that first. I’m over 38,000 words. I will finish Thanksgiving Day (with the 50,000…probably not with the book) at this rate, which is kinda cool. It’s nice to know I can do it if I have to. I got stymied by some DNA testing terminology, so I just flagged it for future research. Googling stuff like “What’s that thing called when the DNA gets spread out and makes pretty pictures” is not particularly useful when you’re already tired. And it’s not worth spending hours trying to figure out right now.

Then finally…finally I was allowed to go back to the drawing…

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Which turned out being bigger than I had planned…as usual. But I think it’ll be OK. It’s longer, but not wider, and wide is the issue in a small gallery. It’s 27″ wide by 45″ high, which is smaller than anything I’ve done for a while. Which is good. Because I only have 6 weeks. I think. Don’t think about it.

Those flying hearts showed up again…

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I like them. At the moment. Don’t know why. A metaphor for where I’m at? Who knows. And DNA hand is back.

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I didn’t trace a lot or for super long, because it was getting late, but I’m starting! So I think I’m ahead of where I planned to be. Or maybe I’m right where I planned to be. Hard to say.