Now I Don’t Know Where I Am*

December 2, 2016

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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

*Bright Eyes, First Day of My Life

Went to School and I Was Very Nervous*

December 1, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

*Gary Jules, Mad World

We Both Go Together if One Falls Down*

November 30, 2016

So I’m going to keep making my daily goals for this quilt and then not meeting them. I think that’s just gonna be how this thing goes until it’s done…if it’s ever done. Part of it is I have to do schoolwork when I come home too, and that’s taking longer than I’d like. But I honestly think this quilt is fucking with me. You will NOT finish me bitch.

OK, that sounds a bit crazy, yes. But usually I’m ahead of the game, not behind by a week.

I don’t think I started until almost 10…that’s part of the problem. Stay at school late to do tutorial, go to grocery store to buy more yeast packets for today’s lab on the way home, get home and read stupid email fucking up the entire schedule for next week, deal with that and dogs and order more yeast (I’m thinking I should buy stock in yeast, vinegar, and baking soda now that I’m teaching chemistry). What’s in my school fridge? Yeast. Eyeballs. A frog or two. I think I tossed the hearts. They went bad. Tapatio. Because. Yeah. Made dinner, hung out, tried to type up a worksheet when I couldn’t remember the damn materials and process. Fuck. OK. Finish that tomorrow.

Sigh. I’m overwhelmed. And irritable as shit. So I’m trying to hold that like a big huge ball of Playdoh and squish it down into something manageable, or even better, something I can throw away from me. I’m a visual person. I need to see all that shit rolled up in my head. Shove it into a cupboard, throw it out a window. In my head.

I had this drawing in my head for a while that I could never get out on paper. I was stuck in one of the old glass phone booths and everything else was banging on the outside, demanding shit. Yeah. Here’s how (and why) I hermit. Hard to do that with a classroom full of kids.

So I had started stitching down the night before, but I didn’t get very far. Honestly, I didn’t get much further last night, even with a couple of hours in…


This threw me for a bit. I swore a lot (yes, mom, I turned it off and walked away and then came back to it). Nothing made it stop. That message came back up after I turned it back on. And I’m thinking to myself, YOU’RE overloaded? Fucking A. I’ll show you overloaded. I love that my machine takes on my moods. So just before I was about to give up and go meditate (while swearing profusely at the universe), I thought about that Google thing.


You know, where you Google your error message (wait a minute…I’m getting a flash of how to solve ALL my personal problems) and someone else has a fucking answer? Yeah. Found it. Turned the damn hand wheel…all the while thinking, no fucking way this is going to work…and in typical Kathy brain fashion, I have now imagined all the possibilities to how I’m going to get the quilt done (including NOT getting it done or anything else, because I’m tossing everything in the pool and moving to Mongolia).

It worked. Seriously. Stupid machines. Kitten was perturbed by my yelling.


Now did I get done? Hell no. I stopped at about 12:15 because I remembered I had to be up early for a meeting.


I draw that face a lot because in my head, my mouth is often yelling like that. This quilt is about time. I don’t ever have enough of it. And apparently I’m old. You know how that goes (sure, many of you are older than me…). Bodies break down. I got the whole bottom dirt area done, plus the legs and torso up to about her waist, and I made it up one arm to the shoulders. So more than halfway, but I probably have a good two more hours to do. Yeah. Schedule shot to hell again. Whatever.

*Coconut Records, West Coast

I Can Paint This Picture Any Way That I See Fit*

November 29, 2016

Efficiency and balance…two things I’m always working towards…and often fighting like a ninja. I am just like you. I stare at a screen (phone, computer, TV) sometimes, unable to move off the couch (more lately…disheartened). I’d rather read my book or scan stupid articles sometimes than stand up (more standing! after a job where I stand all day) and make art. Sometimes I’m just tired. Sometimes I’m not motivated (deadlines help with that…hence, I just emailed the photographer…on a quilt that’s nowhere near done). I still do this though…this making, creating, pulling apart and putting back together based on the shit in my head. I can’t tell you when the drive to make got so strong…I know it’s gotten stronger than it was when I was a kid…every year…more of a push.

Yesterday, after teaching and prepping for crazy lab days this week (we are going to boil and foam and bubble and explode everything), I drove in traffic and rain across town to pick up my nightstand pieces from that show (that was quick)…and over an hour and a half later (ugh), I got home and started dinner. Fed the dogs. Did some school stuff. And then settled down to the artmaking.

It didn’t take long to iron the head to the rest of the body…


The bottom’s all rolled up there to get it out of the way. Then I laid it out on one of the possible backgrounds. Now it’s true I was tired, but I probably should have cut the piece a little bigger, because it got a little fussy in the end, trying to fit it on there. Not sure what I was thinking. This piece is all about making shit work, even when I fuck it up.

Flipping the locations of the sun/cloud and the bird worked OK…I had to fuss with it a little to get the bird to fit, but it will be OK. And stitching will give it the detail I want…


And this morning, the name (so far) popped into my head.

Unfortunately, my sewing chair was already populated…Huh. There’s all these other places she sleeps in my office, but today apparently this was the place. She doesn’t like the other chair, either, so I can’t just move her. She used to sit in the other one…but not since I bought this new one. Not sure why.


Well. I’ve lived with cats for a long time and sometimes I push them off, but I’m much more likely to adjust to sit with the cat wherever it is. I started stitching down with her there. Eventually she left…but she stayed for a good long time. It’s cold here (for Southern California, that is…), so it’s probably pretty warm stuck behind my butt.


I didn’t get a ton done, so I will probably still be doing stitch down tonight. I was hoping for pinbaste tonight, but I don’t think I’m going to get that far. I did about an hour and 15 minutes of stitch down last night, and I’m still down in the dirt. So it’s gonna be a while. Finish tonight, then pinbaste Wednesday. Hopefully start quilting Wednesday. I’m crazy if I think that’s going to be quick. The outlining won’t be too bad, but there’s a shitload of background in this thing (reasons to make the image cover the background…less quilting needed). I’m going to guess there’s about 25 hours left in making this quilt…and so it’s a good thing the copyediting job got delayed again, because this needs to be at the photographer just before that starts. So 25 hours in a week and a half, on top of teaching full time and trying to plan through January. Uh huh. Yeah. I can do that (yes, I’m crazy…but honestly, I haven’t been sleeping well…so there’s no point in going to bed early.).

Today, though, first I need to go to school and get ready to set fire to things (seriously…and hopefully not myself). I’m glad I got started on the stitching at least…finally progress on this thing. It’s been a frustrating quilt…I’m ready for it to be done.

*Indigo Girls, Collecting You

Wherever There Is

November 28, 2016

Hello Monday after a week off from school. Hello tired eyes…my fault for staying up too late working on a project that is trying to fight being finished on multiple levels. And then the coyotes’ fault for howling and yipping and generally driving the puppy bonkers. He does howl, that little beast…while Calli snores on. They’re coyotes, dude. They’re outside. They’re not coming in. We can sleep through that shit. (I personally cannot sleep through puppy howling…or coyotes half the time…but with puppy howling, there is no way I’m sleeping.). So I’m sleep short, for sure. I did manage to finish almost all of my grading last night, leaving the evenings free for artmaking (well, around the other stuff I’ve gotta do, but mostly)…at least until Friday, when they will turn more stuff in. A blissful few days…as it were…because we’re doing some monster labs this week. ‘Twill be a messy few days at least.

So once I figured out that there was no way around the retracing of the head and the cat at least, I did that on Friday…and then Saturday, I did a bunch of Christmas shopping (small business Saturday…hitting all the art events) and started cutting out the new pieces…


I didn’t get very far, because I went to see Dr. Strange (definitely worth it). See, I’m not totally antisocial. I do stuff.

And yesterday, I worked a good chunk of the day before I was allowed art time.

So what I had to do was lay out the already cut pieces to see what fabrics I’d already chosen, then lay out the corresponding Wonder Under pieces traced the right way round, and then figure out what went where. Pretty easy, actually…


Once I had them all ironed down (and I had two or three I had to retrace…I had some that I just stole from the other-way-round pile. So if I do make a quilt that is just her head, a small one, I would need another eye piece and cat ears and nose, plus top of head, I think.

Then I sat down and cut them all out. Usually I do that on the couch, but I was in the middle of an episode and it was easier to sit here…


I just looked at the clock. Shit. Gotta book through this. I laid out all the pieces that needed ironing…


Found all the scissors I was stockpiling in there and got them together (it’s not even a quarter of the scissors in the house)…


And I started ironing. Now I probably should have stopped here. About. Because this was midnight.


Ah well. There goes midnight. Kept going.


I love the face fabric. Ironed the eye separately…


And put it where it belonged.


Head done. Not ironed to body yet. Whole mess not ironed down to background yet (things that were supposed to be done last Wednesday). Tonight…iron together and start stitch down. Tomorrow finish stitch down and maybe pinbaste. Quilting by Wednesday. Binding on over the weekend. Need to email photographer.

I did stop to throw balls for dogs. Simba left his at the other end of the hallway and is too scared of Calli to run by her and get it because Calli (despite that goofy smile) growls and then tries to steal the ball from him. Meanie.


So that’s where I’m at. Significantly behind still, but getting there. Wherever there is. No music this morning for some reason (I was on hold with one of the college payment plans…woo hoo!).

This Ain’t Gonna Work*

November 26, 2016

Well. So. I ironed for about 7 hours yesterday until I realized I’d made a major mistake two steps back. I’m not even sure how I pulled it off. It’s funny, though…I can go back through the blog and see when I made the mistake…it was the day after the election. For some unknown reason, I flipped the drawing over and kept on tracing, but now everything was backwards from before. I have a light table because you have to trace the Wonder Under upside down so when you iron it to the back of the fabric, everything will be facing forwards again. So I did it right until I got to the head. And then I flipped it. For no apparent reason. Wednesday the 9th. Wow. OK.

Anyway, I didn’t figure that out until last night around 9 PM. When I was so close to done. Sigh. Giant ass sigh.


Uterus in purple and red…legs going into the water…


Kitten in one of her sleeping spots…


Prosthetic arm balancing the ever-present cup of tea…and trying to catch that lost eyeball.


There’s some weird stuff in this quilt…


The other arm has a giant cell on it…


And around 9 PM, I started the hair and went. Wait. Fuck. That’s backwards.


Dammit. I’ve done it before. In fact, I have one entire quilt that is backwards. A full-size one. But to do it midway? Shit. So I was sitting there, head in hands, trying to process. Because it was the last 300 pieces. I hate to waste fabric. And time. So I ironed the sun/cloud combo…


And I ironed the bird. So the sun would still work on the left side of the body…it was a little different, but I would be the only one who knew. Well, except I just told y’all.

The bird though…not gonna work. Orientation is all wrong. So that’s another 150 pieces or so…I mean, the head had to be retraced because the shoulders and hair wouldn’t work going the other direction. Same with the cat. So that was already 100 pieces.


I didn’t want to retrace the bird. So at the moment, this is the plan. Flip the bird and cloud locations. I don’t think that will be an issue.


But I had to retrace about 100 pieces…


And I did that. And cut them out. Last night. Today, I’ll iron them down to fabric…and cut them out and iron them together. Dammit. Because I was going to be done with the ironing yesterday. Shit. I guess it makes sense that a quilt about time would fuck with MY time. And now you know how much the election affected me. Yeah. Well.

You know what sucks? Colleges deciding midyear to change housing/food costs, so you need to come up with an additional $700 right after the holidays. With no warning. Dudes. This is why I do that payment plan thing…so I can PLAN for it. Fuckers.

Speaking of a plan. I need to do that. For my quilts. It’s in my head. I just wrote it on the whiteboard on my studio door. I’m crazy. You might as well know that now. I’m hoping for four new quilts for the show…which would be fine, if they didn’t need titles, sizes, and photos by April 28. Yeah. I’m working on it. That’s about one a month.

Still trying to get the dogs to be cozy together. Previous to this, Calli was smelling Simba’s privates. Which dogs do. And he lets her, because she’s big and scary. To him. She’s a Golden…she’s really not that scary to most living beings. She’s scared of the cats.


Yesterday morning, we worked on these trees. Which are on my neighbor’s property, but up on his slope. We’ve trimmed them before, with his permission. But they’re putting the house on the market, so that’s fun (both houses on either side of me selling in one year’s time after 18 years of the same neighbors). The trees block my view of the mountains…so we try to trim them to deck railing height every 5 years or so. I think it’s been longer this time.


Now when I say we, I should really admit that my job is to stand on the deck and say “cut that. No, there.” while throwing balls or sticks for the dogs. My ex climbs into the trees and I ask where his health insurance card is and make sure the phone is ready to call 911. Because that shit scares the crap out of me. Yes. He has a chainsaw up there. He’s fucking nuts.


And then we hauled it all back to my property…but here’s my view! The trees will bush out again…and that one roof is ugly as shit…but there’s the mountains! Yay.


So that was productive. We also took out a volunteer tree that will never be a real tree. It’s a tree weed. But now I can hope the new neighbors are not loud noisy assholes. The guy above me and his cigars. Sigh. I hate that people don’t realize their bad habits affect their neighbors. Then again, I sew in the middle of the night.

Trying to make up for the stupid head stuff that messed up the quilt. Well. I will deal with that. And then start drawing. Well, there’s that school shit I need to do too. Ugh. And Christmas gifts. I started early, which is good, but it’s never early enough.

I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t put all the fabrics away that I used in this quilt, because I’m going to need them again. I hope I have enough of all of them. Eek. One of the flesh fabrics was pretty devastated…hopefully not the face fabric. I think all the grays are OK.

And yes, I will probably iron the wrong-facing face together and do something with it. Like I said, I hate to waste fabric. Those Depression-era sentiments passed down from Grandma through Mom…although I don’t save my tin foil. I do save rubber bands and twist ties though. OK Kathryn…focus. Yup. That app…read the quote. Sometimes I think it knows me.


Because the mistake isn’t the end of the world, now is it? It was just hard to take last night. And now that I know where my head was when I made it, I just want to give myself a hug.

*Glass Animals, Gooey

Everything’s in Order in a Black Hole, Part 2*

November 25, 2016

Running late again. I started this earlier and then deleted what I’d wrote…don’t even remember why. I am NOT shopping today. No way. Got art to make, shit to grade. I’m way behind. Don’t want to deal with people for a while. Sorry people.

That said, I did start ironing yesterday and it was good. Sure, it was Thanksgiving as well and I did head out for dinner, but most of the day was here…grading stuff…and ironing.


A hundred pieces laid out in piles of ten.

Look. It’s a mole. I think I did a mole once or twice before, but this one is particularly cute. And tiny.


So many of my quilts start down in the dirt…


This one is a little different because of the hole in the middle…I think I got all this done before I left for dinner…


Kitten sleeps in my studio/office with me. She’s back in that box again today, but facing the other direction.


When I got back from dinner and laid around for a bit (because that’s what Thanksgiving dinner does to you), I started ironing again…some water…


And then I pulled that whole section up off the ironing sheet and rolled it up and set it aside. I’ll come back to it.

Then a volcano with a dinosaur.


And legs…from the part in the water up to the hips…


That’s where I quit…at around midnight. I didn’t want to start on the next bits because it would get complicated. So that’s where I’ll start this afternoon, I guess. I wish I could say I’d be done with the ironing today, but I think that’s a long shot. Maybe tomorrow…then stitch down. This thing is gonna be tight. If I can get it done in time at all. Ironically, it’s for a show about time. OK, then. Yeah. This time of year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it just kicks my butt.

Here’s puppy waiting for a tummy rub…he doesn’t usually show his belly…


Sorry about the private parts…his are fairly well hidden for a boy though. He’s a fairly atypical boy dog. He thinks he’s half cat for one, and I’m not sure about the rest.

OK. Well. I’m going to go carve my personal turkey (I made one for turkey sandwiches) and then come in here and iron. I’m debating walking the dogs as well, but I’d probably have to make that decision pretty soon. Ugh. Not in the mood for making decisions even. How you KNOW you need a real vacation. Funny. Someone asked me last night about vacations, but those are so outside my reality right now. Sigh. Some day.

*Arctic Monkeys, Fluorescent Adolescent (I love that I picked the exact same line in this song…)