Let Me Check My Bag of Feet…

One thing that’s sucked about this year (one thing…ha haha ha hysterical laughter ensues) is that school starts a half hour earlier. I mean, it doesn’t really. We had to be at school by 8:30, school started at 9. Now actual school still starts at 9, but we’re supposed to start working at 8, and I do. Usually I start earlier, actually, since my commute is really short. And I never stop. Because it’s always in my face. I did make the smart decision to move school out of my office/studio and into the living room when I started up again in August, so my studio is still my escape from work. I used to do quite a bit of schoolwork in here, and now I don’t. It’s safe here, there’s art materials, occasionally I do a Zoom meeting in here, but mostly, no. Also, the internet in here is wiggy as shit. Another reason to move out to where I can hook up directly to the internet.

Anyway, so having to start 30 minutes earlier doesn’t seem like much, but I refused to get up 30 minutes earlier, settling for 15 minutes earlier alarm time, figuring I don’t have to drive to work, so there’s the other 15 minutes. Many mornings though I still feel drugged by a lack of sleep when I start working…usually before 8. Ugh. Today is no exception. And I didn’t get enough work done this week…I’m behind on one assignment that will not be fun to score, plus all the stuff piling up from this week, oh and that other art assignment I didn’t get to yet, fuuuuuck. Yes, it’s a 3-day weekend, but I’d like to spend it all hiking and arting, and that’s not happening. I need to catch up. If you don’t stay on top of it, you get buried. Since we came back from Winter Break, and we’re teaching how we normally teach (well, best we can), it’s been much MUCH easier to get done with everything and get it graded, at least for science. Art is its own clusterfuck and will be a bigger one today when I delay some stuff because I couldn’t get done what I needed to get done for today and I’m pretty sure the real art teacher didn’t either. Sigh. Anyway, I am always trying to grab time back from my job and let there be a purpose besides a paycheck. It’s a shit year for good vibes from school, so I focus on what gives me some sense of satisfaction.

Like finishing a quilt. I didn’t post these earlier, because I am still searching my mind for a title (no, politely, I don’t want your help, many thanks, it will speak to me when I have time to listen)…

Obviously a quilt about childbirth, but the COVID virion is there as well…

Lurking in the soil with some other things.

I have an online show coming up with USC about childbirth…this Spring.

So I thought I’d do a quilt that just focused on that. I have many that refer to a variety of women’s issues related to the uterus.

Rockets are related.

Anyway, this piece is not huge…like 38″ wide by 65″ high (I’ll measure it for reals when I put it on the Gallery page)…

But it took a healthy 100 hours and 27 minutes to complete. Lots of pieces, lots of details. People ask. I started it in November 2020…and normally I would have finished it faster, but in November, my dad fell and ended up hospitalized, and interestingly, he came home Wednesday finally and I finished this quilt not that much before that. So it’s not surprising I wasn’t working fast.

Hey dad.

I went to see him, of course. I only saw him twice the whole time he was gone, due to COVID restrictions. It’s going to take a long time for him to get his memory and physical strength back, but we’re glad to have him. Even when he’s cranky.

I’ve been doing bits and pieces of artmaking in the evenings. I’m really tired these days. Exhausted I guess. Not enough sleeping is happening. I cut out the rest of the Wonder Under for the newest quilt.

This one only has 283 pieces, so it’s going super fast. It’s kind of nice.

I sorted the Wonder Under into bins last night in 9 minutes flat. It’s good I’m not doing a big one right now. I would’ve had to move all the demo stuff for chemistry and art to have the room. Maybe should stay away from a big one until we get through the chemistry units. Spring Break. That sounds good.

I’ve been doing some embroidery I’m not allowed to show you yet, but also started…no, continued quilting this Sue Spargo quilt from a million years ago. This is Earth & Twig, finished embroidering it before the girlchild went to college, but was scared to quilt it.

It’s the embroidery, man…it catches on everything and is annoying to quilt around. Plus I had never quilted wool before (that part is not hard). But mom and I talked extensively last night about FEET and the FOOT CATALOG (did you even know there was such a thing?) because my mom has ALL THE FEET IN THE WORLD and I really do not. I use TWO FEET (don’t most of us?), and when I got this machine, I couldn’t get a foot I liked, and for some reason, just put up with what it came with, but mom’s gonna call Jimmy (the sewing machine guy) and see if I can get a better FOOT. I was obviously semi-hysterical during most of the conversation, because whenever mom said she had a BAG OF FEET, I lost it.

It’s cool. It’ll be fine.

Lots of animals helping me with work these days…Simba barking at the asshole neighbor…

Good dog. There’s my super slow shitty school computer that I borrowed so I can see what the kids see on a Chromebook, but also use while my other computer is doing other things…and there’s the actual teacher-y school computer, which has its own issues, plus the monitor I pulled out of our stash of extras. And Kitten. Not helping by standing in front of the monitor that has the rubric for what I’m trying to grade.

Here’s where you get an idea of how fucking hard it is to grade online art…and it’s not just because of the cat in the way. Apparently the district is going to get us an extra monitor. For distance learning teachers. I think that’s when I first started the semi-hysterical laughter last night. Like keep shoving kids in my classes, because I don’t have to social distance, but almost a year into this fiasco, you’re gonna get me another monitor. Sigh. Fuck you. Whatever. Roll my eyes. I said they should come teach my classes today and see how it goes. People who aren’t in the classroom should NEVER EVER be allowed to make decisions about this shit. Or they should listen to us more.

Calli tolerating Nova, who is bunny-watching.

Kittens sleeping on the bed, until I came in…

They’re not kittens any more. But their faces there are very typical. Luna is pissed because I petted Nova first. Nova is a sweetheart.

My cat, Kitten, is demanding, but loving.

Follows me all over the house, demanding attention. Eating pine needles. Then throwing them up. Like a boss.

Speaking of bosses, I am sort of one…to 177…no wait, I’m down two who dropped…175 students (don’t tell the school; they’ll give me three to replace the two). And work starts in the other room in 6 minutes, enough time to take my meds and walk over there. And teach all day, trying to get everything under control and organized, trying to deal with parents who think I have time for phone calls and explanations that I’ve already said 7 or 8 times, for kids who need help (that I am willing to give) and assignments that aren’t graded or done, and planning that’s not complete, and posts that need to be made, and videos that need to be made. But a 3-day weekend will give me a little leeway, a little extra time for me and not school. And that’s a good thing to get to at the end of the day.

135 Days…

Time has a strange warp to it. I have never put Summer Break on my countdown app (it counts down until an event) until after Spring Break…until this year. Every day, I slide over on the phone so I can see: Spring Break 51 days, Yosemite 55 days, the Man leaving for the PCT 64 days, Summer Break 135 days. 51 seems doable. Until a day like yesterday, and then it’s like, man, how many days left until the weekend (3). I really hate people who will say things like TWO days to the weekend on Wednesday morning…I’m like, fuck you, we still have to survive today. That’s THREE days. I guess they are perkier people than I. Delusional. Sometimes time is so slow in class that I feel like I’m checking the time every minute; yesterday, doing a demonstration on elements, time was faster than a cheetah, skimmed past and was gone. Oh shit. Well. Weird. Because in the physical classroom, I would have done that demo in a 51-minute period with time to spare. Online? Much longer.

But today is Wednesday, hump day, get over it. Dad comes home today. Hopefully being home around familiar things will help with healing, remembering. I’m hoping to see him today; I’ve seen him twice (well except for FaceTime once) since he fell…once when we thought he was dying and once when he was in the COVID ward, from outside a window, standing in the dirt. It’s been a weirdass 2 1/2 months. I’m good with those being over. I’m hoping the next 2 1/2 months have fewer lows and more positive shit going on. School notwithstanding. School is a frustrating exhausting demoralizing annoying all-encompassing whirlwind of stress and anxiety and irritation. More so than usual.

So I hike. And I make art. And I read. And sleep. And pet lots of animals during the day. And plant succulents, because they are harder for me to kill. Small rewards. Mom got her first vaccine shot. Small rewards. COVID sent my whole grade level home for the next two weeks. Well. That sucks. But it’s not surprising. Vaccines aren’t available for the kids yet, and here in San Diego, teachers aren’t even on the list yet. Maybe by the end of the month. Maybe.

Monday, Kitten took over my work chair. This amused my 6th-grade art kids no end.

Eventually I put her on the light table, where she appeared under the doc cam, and then slept on the edge of the couch, near me, for the rest of the class day. She’s a strange needy beast at times. I’ve been doing chemistry demos the last two days, and keeping the cats out of the materials has been hard. I set up and put plastic bins over the test tubes and element samples until I teach, shooing the cat away on the regular.

The next unit will be fun for this crap. All chemistry, all the time. The test tubes have HCl and CuCl2 in them, but they need to sit for 24 hours for some of the chemical changes, so outside they went…

They’re a little damp this morning, but they’ll work. I had a headache all day, though, because of the iodine and sulfur. Windows open, not good enough. Today is corrosion and something. I’ll remember it…tarnish! Yeah. It’s a little easier and shorter, but the vinegar will drive me bonkers. The kids thought it was cool though. So there’s that.

I’ve walked two days in a row (see a need? see above rant)…over 8 miles total. We left the old lady behind on Monday and dragged the little one out for 4 1/2 miles…finally found the gate at the end of the path.

There were a lot of people on the trail, but 16 of them were what looked like a high-school cross country team.

There was definitely evidence of last week’s rain in the creek/river/whatever it is.

But the water’s been higher. We’re just over 4″ of rain since July 1…it’s not enough.

The little boy (dog) was tired afterwards, which is a good thing. The old lady can’t really do more than a mile, mile and a half, right now. Even then, she is very limpy. Which is too bad, because she loves walks.

Yesterday, after a lot of parent and kid issues with school, I walked myself…

I got a late start (dealing with kids and parents after school)…and ended up in the almost dark at the end. This sign confuses me. Should I just knock on the door?

Maybe she will be lurking around outside? I would totally buy cookies from a neighbor kid right now. Except I haven’t had cash in my wallet for 11 months now. Hmmm.

The plus of these late walks are the skies.

Although it’s staying lighter later. Hallelujah. Leaving at 3:30 to get an hour in before dark was rough.

Art: this piece is smaller, much smaller…so it’s going fast. I traced Wonder Under in two nights…

While binge-watching Bridgerton. The man called it soft porn. Eh. That’s possible.

Three and a half hours later, I was ready to trim Wonder Under.

Before that, of course, I graded shit. I do that almost every night. I give myself Saturday night off. Usually. I sometimes have help…Nova was first, then Luna.

I thought I might be able to get it all cut out in one night, but I was exhausted…

So that’s tonight’s work. Then sort it and hopefully iron it to fabric after I iron the baby owl down. I’m also supposed to be quilting my wool piece, the UFO, for progress before Friday night for my guild. Um. Hmmm. Maybe. Anyway. Progress. I like progress. It makes me feel like I’m getting something positive or useful done. My day job did NOT do that for me yesterday…well, except for kids liking the chemistry part. That was cool. Today will hopefully be cool too. We’ll see.

Cat.

OK, meeting in 25 minutes, school time starts in 11, need to set up demo, get some other stuff pounded out, hopefully no more nastygrams demanding or claiming shit that doesn’t, didn’t, wouldn’t happen. Sigh. Kids. They panic, cry, lie about shit. And parents don’t question that; just assume I am wrong, I am horrible. Sigh. Double sigh. It’s demoralizing sometimes. And this year has so little support…because there’s no one else here and my team is not a team this year and I can’t get answers to stuff I need answers to, because…just because. I’m back to looking at the countdown app. 135 days.

Manage This Better…

I am currently completely and totally procrastinating answering all the parent and kid school emails from this weekend. Some don’t need an answer; they were an appropriate acknowledgment to the weekly notifications I send about hey, y’all aren’t turning shit in. Unfortunately, some weren’t. I saw the first one roll in Friday night. I could say I ignored them, but I didn’t. I just didn’t answer them. So they’ve been sitting in my gut all weekend. Maybe that’s why I answer right away…so that doesn’t happen. Sure, I could be like some people and not have my email come to my phone…or my home computer…and I could never open my school computer during the weekend…HA HA HA…oh wait, that’s bullshit, because I can’t even come close to getting all my school work done in the 5 days of the week I’m paid to do it, who the fuck am I kidding? Anyway, it is my constant goal to manage this better, acknowledge my failure to do so, and move on. Those emails will get answered today; no one will like the answers, but oh well. The really annoying one from last weekend, the mom never emailed back and said, oh hey, I’m sorry for bitching you out for something you don’t even do, don’t have any control over, and tried to fix for me. No thanks, no sorry, no acknowledgment at all. Noted. Fully noted.

This job. Is. So. Hard. This. Year.

Luckily, when I went in to school on Friday, my co-teacher was still there and helped me (and my overwhelmed fuzzy brain) gather all the science-y stuff together for this week’s demos. Chemistry for all! It’s hard to make art around the job sometimes…literally, right now, I need the light table, and I have all this school stuff on it, so I’m trying to work around it. Or through it. Hard to say which.

Friday, I dropped my quilt at the photographer (pictures tomorrow!), then went to school, then to enlarge some drawings from December 2019-February 2020. You know, pre-COVID shit hitting the fan.

I only copied three drawings. They’re out of a 9×12″ sketchbook and I enlarged them 200%. I figured that was a good size for right now, when I don’t have much room on the light table or in my brain.

I think this was one of my Patreon drawings…maybe? Can’t remember.

This was one of the December drawings a day from 2019…because I didn’t even come close to doing that in 2020.

And this was from our Joshua Tree trip from February last year…

I sometimes go back and read previous year’s blogs for the same month as now, just to remind myself of the mindset at the time. It helps when I think things are out of control. I saw these drawings and thought they’d make good smaller quilts. I posted all three on Insta/FB, and there were a few votes for this one.

But I’d already picked the Joshua Tree one for the first quilt. I started tracing it last night and forgot to take any photos. I forgot a lot of things yesterday. I also stayed up way too late on Friday night trying to manage some of the stress in my head…stitching things down.

It didn’t really help. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ll figure it out.

I wanted to hike Saturday, but with all the rain on Friday (we got over an inch in 24 hours, which is a lot for us), we didn’t want to stomp through a muddy trail and destroy it, so we picked an urban hike, the Seven Bridges Trail. I’ve done it a couple of times, but the Man hadn’t. It starts in Balboa Park, where there were lots of people…

Bridge number 1…

It’s not a difficult hike…fairly flat…bridge number 2…

Interesting views though…bridge number 3…

And some intriguingly bouncy bridges…OK, only one bouncy one…bridge number 4…

Came through Hillcrest, which is constantly evolving, and got off the official trail down a back alley of murals…

Which is probably how we got over the 6-mile mark…

It’s a little weird waiting for signals during a hike…

Bridge number 5…did I miss one??? Maybe.

Yeah, I didn’t photograph one. I don’t know which one. Bridge number 6…no wait, I did it right…

Some people will argue this is not a hike, because it’s not ‘out in nature’. Except there was nature all around. Hence the urban word. Not my preferred type of hike, but we still walked the whole time, didn’t stop and get ice cream (although it would have been OK if we had)…

Bridge number 7…

And I’ve never been able to figure out why it’s the Seven Bridge Walk, if there are eight bridges…

Another side trip adding to our mileage…

Through the cactus garden at Balboa Park…

Bridge number 8…

Like I said, over 6 miles. Tired. But good. Outside. Too peoply. Next weekend, we’ll do a hike on dirt with fewer people around.

Saturday night, I ironed all the fabrics for the tiny owl quilt I’m making…

And then cut them out…

After doing the January Patreon drawing…

And numbering the third of the smaller quilt drawings…

Plenty of art happening. Plenty of work happening. It’s February now. I have 17 emails to answer before school.

I mean, my school district actually has kids in physical school too, but I have kids in school, every freakin’ school day, and yeah. Working my ass off. Stressed out. Overwhelmed. Buried. Don’t tell me I’m not working.

Cats…

They handle everything better than I do.

OK, work, then exercise, then art.

The Bones of This Nation

Ah Friday. But also rain, lots of it. I see a bit of blue sky out my window, but I don’t know if it will last. My moods are sort of mirroring the weather this week: fucking all over the map. I’m not sure why, but I bet there’s a reason. My job? Yeah some of it. Finishing a quilt? Not usually an emotional thing, but these are fucking unprecedented times. I think being immersed in a difficult and time-consuming project in a medium I love is a good thing, like a big chunky and all-encompassing book you’re reading, and it helps distract me from the other stuff that sucks or makes me anxious, and when it’s done, there’s this letdown, like WTF am I going to do now? I can’t have a single down day; I need a new project. It’s OK. In the back of my brain for days, I’ve been planning new projects. A few lighter ones and then perhaps a heavier one. It’s like my reading…I just finished reading the Indigenous People’s History of the United States, and it’s dense and heavy and often difficult to read…

Certainly some of this history better explains our fascination with our right to guns. I did love the ending though…

The bones of this nation will mend after the revolution. I can get behind that. I can get on that train. But this next book needs to be a bit lighter to help my mood.

Also, in the mood, my dad is finally coming home next week. His brain will take a year to heal. We don’t really know how he is at the moment. I just know my mom is really excited and we’re glad to have more time with him. So many things affect mood. I’ve been kind of trapped at home this week; didn’t get my mid-week walk due to emergency union meetings, so I’m antsy and irritable, more than usual. Hiking tomorrow though. Hopefully.

So I managed to do all the hand sewing on the binding in one four-hour marathon run on Wednesday…

I started in book club and finished on the couch with a variety of animals.

This is an amazingly bad, late-night picture of it…

Of course, I stayed up past midnight on a school night to finish it. It’s going to the photographer this week.

A friend liked the owl up in the tree and asked for a small quilt of it…so I traced it…

Inked it…

Traced it on Wonder Under…

And cut it out last night…

It’s ready for ironing to fabric tonight. It’s a palate cleanser…super small, super easy. And I have a smallish drawing picked out for the next one…one that caught my eye as I was reading back through my blog…I do that as a sanity check, although this last year is a doozy.

I had book club Wednesday, yesterday was full of meetings…this is my work desk view…and the Zoom window on the left is my prep room at school…

I’ll be there today, picking up materials for next week’s demo. My co-teacher is awesome and gathers everything as I panic at home. It’s not ideal. But it’s functional…

I also had a stitching meeting last night. I can’t show what I’ve been embroidering for the last few months, because it hasn’t published yet; just know you’ll see it soon enough. But I did this start of a mend…

I really love this shirt and it developed some holes on the belly area…that’s where I get all my shirt holes. I’m going to embroider/slow stitch over it and wear it anyway. Saving clothes, one shirt at a time.

It’s been chilly here and kittens have been doing lots of cute curling upness.

They are sweethearts.

I have work in this upcoming show in LA. I probably won’t get to see the show, but it’s nice to have this piece shown…show notice…

And the huge piece that will be there…One of My Kind

Those are my kids, my mom, and my grandmother…she’s the skeleton. We bury them, but they still live on in our hearts and minds and often our behaviors.

OK, today will be long and full of work, but hopefully ending in some artistic endeavors and a good night’s sleep. I hope. And hopefully a mood shift. I don’t always have control over those, but I try.

Stash to the Rescue!

The sun is out again. I love that about mornings. I mean, I don’t, but I do. I love the bright blue sky and the ash tree that dropped a branch but has new growth peeking out. I love that there’s no wind today (yet?)…I love the wacky weather we get sometimes, but I don’t love what it does. I have a big old eucalyptus on my property. It was there before the houses were, easily. It’s got to be over 100 years old. I can’t put my arms around it. Three people could…maybe? I get it trimmed in the rotation. The trees I’ve trimmed so far this year were the ones who dropped the big-ass branches last winter. Then I ran out of money for that…the big old euc was on the next round, along with the three or four ash tress that are up on the slope. They definitely need it. So of course, in this last round of wind, hail, and rain, the big old euc dropped a large branch (could’ve been much larger!) on the roof, bringing down an ash branch with it.

It did lightly puncture the roof, and did a little damage. Could’ve been much worse. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the money together this spring to trim this batch of trees. The roofer has already been here; we’ve already pulled the tree off, everything is covered in tarp, and the boychild got a good chunk of it into the compost bins to go tomorrow, so we’re good. No one was hurt. It’s the girlchild’s room and she’s not here, plus it didn’t go through to the room. Just stressful and costly (although that could probably be worse too).

The wonders of owning a home. So I’m good with the sunny, nonwindy skies today. Although we need the rain…and more is coming. And it’s cold right now…

OK, it’s cold for San Diego, sunny Southern California. We were down to 37 or so last night. I’m thankful for down blankets, socks, and cats. I don’t do cold well. I just get cold and stay cold. I don’t have the right clothes; I know.

I’m sort of quietly finishing a quilt over here. I’ve been working on it for almost three months. It’s not even big enough to warrant that much time, but it’s pandemic teaching time and stressful other stuff and my mind has a hard time focusing. So it’ll be done this week and then I’ll do another one. And another one. And another one. My future is secure! Funny that. Because I still want to do new things and try new media.

So I finished the quilting on Monday night…although who knows why this happened.

The machine was fighting me at the end.

Like it missed me and didn’t want me to finish…

But I have a UFO I’ve committed to finishing next for my quilt guild, so I’ll keep quilting for a few more days, once the binding is on. I promise, machine, I’ll be back.

I trimmed her last night…

After two union meetings, dinner, and a bunch of grading. Gotta love those last-minute, turned-in-blank assignments. Waste of my time. And then I found binding in my stash and got it on…I was trying to figure out when I would even be able to go to the local quilt store, because the one I like is still doing appointments, I think, so you have to call ahead and get a time, and sure, that works if you don’t work horrible hours, but I work horrible hours. I remember back in the old pre-COVID days when I’d put the quilt in my car and kamikaze out of school at the end of the day to get to the quilt store before it closed…sigh. Now she closes at 2 PM and isn’t open Sundays, so it’s Saturday morning or never. But luckily, I had some big pieces of a couple of the fabrics in the quilt, so I picked one. Stash to the rescue!

Tonight, I’ll pin it and start the hand-sewing, and email the photographer, and then think about the next one. I think I’m doing a smaller one next. This one was 37×64″, which isn’t huge. It’s actually a format I kind of like, long and skinny. I might do that again. We’ll see. I like progress, though. First finish of 2021.

OK, lots of fussy little things to get through today, just like every day. I’m tired, just like every day. Potentially contentious meeting this morning…oh yay. Gotta love those. And someone has to go buy a new handle for the bathroom door, because it broke yesterday and briefly trapped me inside. That would have been interesting. I had my phone. I could have done Zoom class in there. It just would have been weird.

Here’s to good weather, a working door handle, and artmaking time.

Macro and Micro

I’m listening to a podcast right now that’s talking about your macro goals and micro goals…there’s the big picture and there’s my picture. I am aiming for a better world, one that focuses on being more inclusive and awesome and empathetic, embracing success for all and environmental health for our future, best we can, and there’s a lot of people who don’t agree with me, but I need to keep aiming for that. Maybe I can’t change the minds of the people around me, but if I keep aiming for that big goal with my smaller goals, with my art, with teaching, with whatever I have, then hopefully people will come with me, will see whatever I put out there, and like-minded people will join me. And over time, those messages will still be out there, doing their thing. I’ve been so buried in my head with how to change minds that probably won’t change, might not change because of me…so just make the work and speak the message, and hopefully it will make a difference. Somewhere. At some point.

I don’t know how this plays out with my micro goal of what the fuck is the next quilt? But I’ll figure it out.

I’m tired today. The rain was loud last night. It kept me awake. I don’t do well with noisy nights. Also, I did a lot of non-school stuff this weekend, which I needed to do, need to keep doing, but it meant I was doing some crazy stressful catch-up stuff yesterday afternoon and evening, that stuff where I feel like I can’t take a deep breath because there’s so much of it, and then I have to stop so I can rethink how to breathe. This year is so full of that crap (by this year, I mean everything since March 13th, y’all, when they sent us home and told us not to come back). I know I’m not the only person dealing with anxiety out there. I keep thinking it looks like there’s a light, an end to this crazy, but vaccine shortages don’t help and then there’s no vaccine for kids, so what does that look like for my being back in a classroom? I just don’t know.

Anyway, so today I teach…in 20 minutes or so, I’ll sit down at the OTHER desk (separate work and personal life, well sort of, because they both happen in both places, but best you can) and try to remember what I’m supposed to be doing for school today. Saturday night, I spent some time after my class doing a training on Violent Critical Incidents (aka shooter-in-school training). I find the trainings really stressful and anxiety-causing, especially videos of kids jumping attackers; that stuff fucking terrifies me. So after that, I did some of the free-motion machine stitching on my Acropolis piece…

There’s still a bunch of hand stitching that needs to happen.

And then the man and I decided to continue this mystery box thing where we’re trying to solve a fake murder (Fake seemed OK…more that I could DO something instead of just watching). This is the second of six boxes. We were able to successfully eliminate the first suspect a few weeks back, and then the second one on Saturday night, after decoding this…

Apparently decoding shit is something we’re good at. Although we figured the code out eventually, once we’d already done all this, pretty much.

I didn’t get to quilting until last night, due to art meetings and school prep and all that crazy stuff, but I was sure I wouldn’t get much done…

But there’s a lot less stuff in the sky, so I managed to finish all the outlining…

I briefly thought, oh yeah! I’m done! But forgot about the stuff around it, the borders. So I’ll do those tonight, trim it up, and see if I have anything that will work as a binding. And then figure out what I’m working on next.

Yeah. That. Back to micro vs macro goals. Can I change the world? Probably not. But I’m gonna try. In the way I know how.

I did have to laugh as I left the studio last night. There are 5…FIVE…in-progress projects that I have worked on in the last week in here.

1 is my Craft Napa plastics project with Natalya Khorover…just needs more hand stitching and an edge finish.

2 is my applique stories woman, who needs to be hand-stitched down.

3 is the current quilt.

4 is the Acropolis piece, which needs more hand stitching and some sort of finish technique.

5 is the cross stitch I finished, which is hooped and just needs a backing, so it can be mailed off.

No wonder I feel psychotic and flailing sometimes. Too many things to focus on, and this doesn’t even touch on house stuff (24 bags of gravel in the river bed so far…need at least 12 more) or school stuff (panic attack, breathe breathe breathe). So you can see that my own art, my personal stuff, I just need to focus on it. It calms me, focuses me, helps with all the other shit. And part of this year has been not having as much mental space and time for it, and that is not helping. So find me that time. Micro goal. Find me the time.

Also, maybe be more chill. Like Kitten.

Except with a book. Or a sketchbook. Yeah.

A Wonderful Place to Be

It’s pouring rain. It’s OK. For one, Southern California needs it. For another, it’s not like I could go anywhere…well, except for a hike, and that’s not happening. I took my second Craft Napa class today, and it was fun. Valerie Goodwin makes these cool map quilts and I’ve always been fascinated with them, so it was interesting to see how she makes them and hear how she thinks.

So yeah, this was kind of a pattern class. We all started with the same basic materials and pattern, but I enjoyed thinking about transparent layers more than I think I ever have…

The map lines use a fabric-cutting machine. My mom only has 2 or 3 of those. Not that I need to do maps. I was thinking scribbles and letters and cursive writing. But I do like maps.

There’s the Acropolis. So I’m still working on this. I had to stop stitching because the paint needed to dry…

Tons more hand stitching, plus machine stitching, plus IDK what else. A fun way to spend the day, anyway. I appreciate the online opportunities to hang out and do fabric stuff I’ve never done before. I don’t need more projects to finish, but there’s something really important in looking at your art in a different way, and looking at other people’s art. I miss that with no exhibits I can go to right now…or maybe just a few? Visions isn’t open…but I guess the show up at Front Porch Gallery has limited hours. Maybe next weekend.

I did get up early (for a Saturday) for that class. Now I am tired. It’s OK. I enjoyed it.

Thursday night, I quilted with my monthly quilting group on Zoom…got a good 2 hours in…

It’s a very detailed quilt, so nothing about this is quick.

But the thread has stopped its psychotic breaking, so that makes it much nicer.

Friday night, after gaming, I went back to the torso area, which has an insane amount of detail…

Got the ribcage and the heart done…

And moved on to the face. I thought we might use the machine for class today, so I stopped there and pulled her off the machine. I have all the sky section and the tree to do, which is a lot, but it also is more than halfway done. Hopefully I’ll get some more done tonight; we’ll see.

I have a bunch of schoolwork to do, as always. I did some of it while on the stationary bike on Thursday night…

It was just posting assignments in each of the classes. I knew this weekend would be kind of full; I usually do this on Sunday, but I have a meeting then. The plus is that it’s done. I still need to make a couple of videos and post all of the art stuff, but since I don’t know what half of that is yet, it’s hard to get it done ahead of time.

Speaking of art, we’re doing cardboard sculpture next, so I’ve been teaching them joining techniques…

I guess the plus is that I don’t have to build my own version of sculpture…just show them how to do the bits and pieces. Twice. Because I have two levels of art. Ugh.

Friday, we took the dogs on a short walk. Calli can’t do the longer ones any more.

But she loves them so much. Simba is a freak…this is his response to bikes.

He basically wants to kill them. Not recommended.

Calli post hike…

Kitten didn’t even go on a hike…

But she is one of the three old ladies in the house.

This cracks me up.

It’s a new world, y’all. Except it’s not. Too many angry upset people out there still. I talk about some of that (and who the hell knows what else!) in a podcast, the Unbroken Chain podcast. I was interviewed by Maura James last weekend and she asked lots of good questions…

If you know me personally, you know I can ramble for a good long time.

Actually, if you read my blog, you already know that.

It’s how my brain works. I have lots of words and lots of pictures and they all need to get out. Here’s a link. Hopefully. If I did it right.

https://www.maurajames.com/podcast/episode/2ffd4eb9/ep-88-not-here-to-make-pretty-pictures-w-kathy-nida

I appreciate her searching me out and caring enough to come up with good things to talk about. Certainly a lot of what I talked about is on my mind for the next quilt. So there’s that.

OK. I’m tired. I’m going to get more tea and decide what’s next. Still waiting for the paint to dry on Athens for me to do the machine stitching, plus I still have a quilt to finish, plus two videos to make for school, and probably there’s a bunch of other shit that needs doing that I’m just not remembering because my brain has been in artmaking mode all day, which is such a wonderful place to be. Yeah. Happy Saturday, all.

Go Well…

Ah yes. A country with someone in charge whose speeches I don’t have to diagram so that I can attempt to make any sense of them. A white guy, though. An old white guy. But our VP! Finally a woman, and a woman of color on top of it. So proud. So happy. So worried about those who still feel disenfranchised and ignored. That being-ignored feeling really sucks. I agree. Having people ignore your needs and desperate calls for acknowledgement…I mean, I’m a cis female, but white and educated, so inordinately privileged, but I get that for sure. And I worry about y’all. I don’t know what to do about it though; I don’t know how to talk to you, to help you see the world in a different way. I really try to see how you all are seeing, and I just can’t. It looks like fear and hate to me. So yeah. So many things in my head yesterday. I was lucky to see the swearing ins happen right before virtual school started…trying to watch video with kids on my computer/Zoom setup is not always a positive experience, so we talked a little about the inauguration, but then it was a normal day. Well, this crazy-ass pandemic version of normal.

I’ve been fighting my sewing machine for a few days. The thread kept breaking. I changed needles (twice), rethreaded everything (many times), cleaned out the bobbin area, used thread conditioner, sanded the throat plate, and then prayed to the goddess of the machine. Nothing helped. It improved slightly, but I was still breaking thread about every 6-10 inches of quilting. An incredibly frustrating experience.

I got to the point last night where I was like, shit, I’m going to have to take the machine in, but I’m trying to finish this quilt and I have another machine, but I’m not sure where exactly it is, and there’s a re-learning curve I don’t have the mental fortitude for right now…but sigh, how else?

And magically, really, IDK what changed, much like my blood sugar at the moment, magically, it all started to work. I could sew without the thread breaking.

For an hour. Holy moly. SO MUCH EASIER. It’s like I became a rich white man. Oh wait. No. Not quite. He wouldn’t be sewing. But you know what I mean! Things were easier, I felt like I could achieve something, the world felt like a new presidential team was in place. Yeah. That. Fuck. Yesterday was interesting. I posted this picture before…spot the Bernie.

I love the mitten story. And Bernie. And the dogs and old man in the photo, but that’s something else. This doofus…

OK. Well. I hiked on Tuesday in the wind and cold…

Apparently there’s more coming this weekend. These flowers are fascinatingly huge.

I still try to exercise every day. This is just from AllTrails, an app I use for hiking…

It doesn’t count everything I do, just the hikes I do with the app.

Yeah, my boots got over 150 miles since February, so there’s that. More to come.

Goofy cats.

I finished this…

Ready to clean it and hoop it up and send it off to its new owner.

My quilt guild is starting a UFO challenge. I needed to post at least one I could finish in the first quarter. This one, I started quilting, but gave up.

Wool is different than cotton, that’s all I can say. I can do it…but something else jumped the queue. There’s also this one…

And another one that needs pinbasting…all 3 are Sue Spargo quilts. I love the embroidery part, but IDK what I will do with them when they are done. Pick a Sue Spargo wall and switch out the three every few months? Maybe.

Ah mornings. You are not my friend.

Today is sunny at least. The crazy wind the last few days has been stressful to watch from my virtual school workspace. Today is much calmer. OK, but today, I am teaching stuff in art that I’ve never really done before (again), so that’ll be fun. FUN. And Zooming for meetings as well (one in 5 minutes). Hopefully quilting later tonight, with the new calm sewing machine behavior…maybe it will continue to go well.

Quilt with Wild Abandon…

It’s been a few days. I lost track of them, actually. The wonder of a 3-day weekend when I did things that weren’t schoolwork, right? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I worked a big chunk of Monday, grading shit, but mostly I ignored school. Mostly. Not in my head; just in my practice. It’s hard to do that, because the work has to get done sometime. In fact, a chunk of it needs to be done before school starts in 43 minutes, but it’ll happen. Somehow.

So Friday night was the last time I wrote. Since then, I participated in two Craft Napa events, and I have one coming up this weekend. I was waitlisted on one and offered today to take it, but um, yeah, so like, that’s a school day. So I picked another one instead. It’s OK. It’s really just a chance to hang out and do artsy stuff with other artsy people. The actual project doesn’t probably matter.

So Saturday night was a virtual wine tasting…

It was interesting and a good distraction for a Saturday night. We enjoyed it.

Then Sunday morning, I was up early for a recycled plastics sewing class with Natalya Khorover.

Let’s hope the girlchild doesn’t recognize the bag of hers I cut into. I don’t actually have a ton of plastic bags in the house. We have reusable bags, so not many plastic bags make it in here.

I was going to do this long quote, but decided against it…this was more doable.

I got all the letters stitched down. Need more embellishment. I’ll do that…

It was fun to take a class after months and months of not doing it. I’ve always wanted to go to Craft Napa in person, just as a break, but the timing with school is difficult, plus expense. This was very doable.

I did start quilting as well, but I’ve been plagued with thread breakages…

I’ve tried switching out the needles, conditioning the thread, cleaning everything…probably it’s a burr in the thread plate, so I’ll try to deal with that today.

So I got the bottom three layers done, the fire and rocks, basically…

Pretty damn frustrating, if you ask me.

I don’t really need more frustrating things right now.

What else? Dogs.

Lots of animals require attention here. I’m OK with that most of the time.

The man is getting his Pacific Coast Trail permit day today. We think. Hoping for the end of my Spring Break, so we can do a little camping/hiking together before he leaves for potentially 5 months.

I’m almost done with this thing…

A few more TV episodes after dinner and it will be done. Stick it in a frame and mail it to its new owner.

OK, now I can go do the school stuff I need to do and teach all day and then maybe hopefully go for a walk. Then sand down the potential burr on my needle plate and hopefully quilt with wild abandon tonight until I need to go to bed to repeat tomorrow…tomorrow, inauguration day, when hopefully the crazy insurrectionists won’t do something really stupid and irreversible. Sigh. We can all hope for some semblance of order and peace, ’til we return to trying to figure out how to mend a bunch of stuff in our country and help people accept more variety in their worlds than they’re used to. Whatever that looks like…because honestly, some days, I don’t know. Until then, I need to answer an email from a kid that came in at midnight (I ignored it) and do all the shit I forgot to do yesterday. Sigh.

Really Hard Dirt

I meant to write this in the morning, before school, but I worked instead. I thought about writing it in the afternoon, but I had to deliver art supplies to students who can’t leave their homes. I got home after that and had a little time before gaming tonight, but instead of writing this, I talked to my mom about my dad coming home in the next few weeks, which is good news, but a little frightening as well. I’m going to go see him this weekend; I get to talk to him through a window. I could go now, but it’s close to midnight and if I know my dad, he’s asleep. Hopefully. I might go to bed before I ever finish writing this. I was up late last night and didn’t sleep well; I had a really low blood sugar drop, no reason that we could see, and it really messed up my nighttime routine. You know, sleep and all. It took a while to come back up, and then I woke up a few times at night to check it. It’s happened once before, about a year ago, and the phone nurse just keeps asking me if I’m sick and did I eat. Well yeah, I did eat and no, I’m not sick. So I just took my insulin tonight and I’m kinda watching the clock and giving it some time to make sure everything is OK tonight. Hopefully. Because I need the sleep. And I need some time this weekend to get some work done, because I didn’t get any done tonight, art or otherwise. Good thing it’s a 3-day weekend.

Wednesday night, I finished the stitchdown on the current quilt…

It took just under 5 hours to do that…not bad…

I wasn’t sure I’d get her sandwiched and pinbasted last night…it was a long day, and it meant mopping the floor first, but I pulled it off…

Sometimes I have energy and I do shit.

It’s not actually a huge quilt…just has a lot of pieces in it for its size. I should be able to start quilting this weekend; we’ll see how that goes, because Craft Napa started on Wednesday. I was able to hang out in the Welcome group for about 50 minutes, until I had to go to a union meeting. I spent most of Wednesday’s prep period, 5th period while kids were working, the Craft Napa meeting, and the union meeting sorting art supplies for my 72 online art students.

I actually had a fairly impressive stash of colored paper. Anyway, I delivered those envelopes Wednesday night around 8 PM, and then today, hand delivered a few of them. In general, I make them go get them from school. As always, some kid three weeks from now will tell me they didn’t even know about this and it’s not their fault they couldn’t do the project. Sigh. I put a lot of time into my classes. Sometimes I don’t want to, but I really don’t know how to half-ass it. Although I lost my mind on Wednesday when they pushed one of my classes to 40 kids. Apparently that is my line: 40 kids in a class. They fixed it (the kid really was supposed to go to another teacher), but I’m still annoyed with myself that my mindset for the 2nd half of the year went out the window in just three days. That said, they flipped about 5 kids from hybrid to distance and back, and then gave me three additional students, so I suspect my crazy was somewhat justified.

Anyway, I have one Craft Napa class on Sunday and another next Saturday, plus the wine tasting tomorrow night, although after the blood sugar thing last night, I’m cautious about that. No, I wasn’t drinking either last night…you sound like the nurse. No no no no no. I wasn’t doing any of those things. Sigh. Stupid body. I hate when you feel like you can’t trust your body. It sucks. Anyway, knock on wood that it was a one-off. Again. The second time.

I’m still chugging away on this…

I might find the pattern designer at some point and post it with this. I might. I’m using stash. One of the designers I follow was asking if people preferred kits or PDF patterns, and it’s not that I don’t like kits, they’re easy, but I have all the floss in the world (I say that, but I had to buy 3 skeins for this one because they were using all the new colors) and besides, I have a dog who eats patterns, and if it was a kit, I would have to buy another one to get the pattern, unless the designer was really nice (dude, I would totally send pictures), but with a PDF file, you can just print another one.

Kitten agrees.

No art tonight. No energy either. I do however have excited sourdough starter.

Can’t argue with that. I’m making sourdough focaccia tomorrow. Or Sunday. Hard to say. I never get the timing right.

I’m teaching radial zendoodles for warmup this week.

These are the practice ones, which all look like hydras. Really, I’m teaching kids how to fold carefully, because that seems to be the bigger issue.

We got this freebie cat tent when the kittens came over a year ago. Nova would sleep on it. Luna would kamikaze all over it, but this is the first time anyone (Kitten) has slept in it.

We planted the Christmas tree…Calli for size.

Of course, that makes me sad, because in a year, when I check the size again, odds are Calli won’t be around. But she’s cute. I don’t know why I say “we” planted the tree. I whacked the bottom with the shovel to break up the roots and helped shove dirt into the hole, but the boychild did the rest, including digging a hole in rock. Or really hard dirt. Maybe really hard dirt is just rock.

OK, I’m feeling OK. It’s 45 minutes since the insulin. I’m going to test my blood and crawl into bed, hopefully for better sleep than last night. Wish me luck. Then do some exercise this weekend, hang out with some quilt artists, do some schoolwork, quilt a little, see my dad through a window, and hope the body and brain feel better at the end of it.