Hello Ohio…

September 23, 2016

So it took me a while to process this, but I got into Quilt National. In fact, I read the email at school and thought, wait a minute, what? Because I had just looked at all the upcoming deadlines and notifications, and figured it would be a while before I would know anything. And this is the coolest part…it’s a quilt with multiple female organs in it. You know, boobs! And uteri! It’s not a pretty, easy quilt. So I did a tiny happy dance in the halls at school, and then flipped the bird with both hands at AQS. Well not really, because there were kids in the hall. But mentally.

Now I just need to figure out how to get to the opening. Minor issue.


It’s cool though. I’m really happy. It’s one thing to get in once with a quilt that has no nudity in it (I know, you didn’t even know I had those…), but to get in a second time with two angry Earth Mothers? I’m good.

Meanwhile, this quilt is going to the photographer tomorrow and I’m still sewing bindings…


With all the animals around. Actually, I finished the bindings and I’m on the sleeves…


But I hit some exhaustion line again last night (must listen to body)…


Although looking around me, I’m the only one NOT asleep. So yeah.


More murals…there are two here. The one on the right is by Cinzah. It’s about “the impact of the global shark finning trade on shark populations. An estimated 1000,000,000 sharks are killed for their fins every year. Over the past 15 years, shark populations have decreased by 60-90%.” So extinction?


Plus his sharks are adorable.


I think so.


Especially these two.


And this guy…


The other part of the mural is by n30n3, an artist from Mexico focusing on the importance of ocean exploration and discovery…


It’s a really long wall…


And the light was difficult…


So that’s two today because I missed one today.

Now I’m going to go teach about elements and keep doing a little art dance.

We Can Dance if We Want to*

September 21, 2016

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


Poor puppy.

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


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


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

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

*Men Without Hats, Safety Dance

That’s the Way That It Goes*

September 20, 2016

Rain? Is that water falling from the sky? The dogs are surely confused by this. They don’t want to go out in it. Um. Guys. You’re gonna have to. I don’t have a dog bathroom in the house, and no, you can’t just use the carpet like some of your previous cat friends. I don’t understand why the Golden Retriever, who goes in the pool almost every single day, even in 40-degree temps, will not go out when the same stuff falls from above. And looks confused when I remind her it’s the same stuff.

What’s the most important thing about yesterday? Oh yeah. I finished quilting. Finally.


I still had to grade first, so I didn’t start until after 10 PM.

This photo shows the actual finishing moment, but more importantly…


The close up…I seriously had stopped paying attention to the thread. And I do have another partial spool, but this was close…


And then some cloud quilting…


People used to get pissed that I don’t quilt differently. I really just outline the shapes and fill in the background usually. The quilting just holds it together and provides an outline. I’m letting the fabric carry the image…not the quilting. There’s an argument for that.

Speaking of fabric, I needed a binding. And some other things spoke to me while I was there…


I had a batik moment…but also, I often look for shortages…whatever I felt like I was missing in the last quilt, or colors I know are always an issue.

I also had laid this out…it’s not the next one, but a few down the road. That bird is a goner.


But then the cat puked on part of it. Sigh. It was one of those nights.

I meant to post all of these, but honestly, I don’t have time to do all of them. So a little at a time. Pangeaseed has a program called Sea Walls that is murals highlighting issues in our oceans, mostly environmental stuff. They were in San Diego (again…they’ve been here before) a week or so ago, so we headed out to track some of them down…this one is in North Park across from a Jack in the Box (and you can find all of them on that website)…


This is by Lauren YS.


All the murals were painted in about a week, which is crazy, if you ask me.


And it’s about ocean acidification, if I remember right.


There will be more…

*Gillian Welch, The Way It Goes

Nobody Knows Me at All*

September 19, 2016

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

I’m a little stressed out.

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


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

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

*The Weepies, Nobody Knows Me at All

And I Told You to Be Patient*

September 16, 2016

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

*Bon Iver, Skinny Love

Some Nights I Call It a Draw*

September 15, 2016

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


I think the molecules look like spaced-out frogs.

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

*Fun, Some Nights

‘Cause I Like Giants*

September 14, 2016

Sometimes raising a puppy is  a lot like teaching middle school. This morning’s lesson? Don’t eat caterpillars. Yeah. It could be relevant for either group, right? It’s OK. The big black fuzzy caterpillar was moved to a safer environment.

I survived Back-to-School night. A big hot cup of tea helped my voice make it through. The 10 minutes of head on desk helped me get through the rest. And then somehow I managed to come home, make dinner from scratch, and pinbaste the quilt. And I went to bed early (I was really tired…still am this morning)…I hate it when we have B2S night early in the week. It’s better on a Thursday because you only have to survive one school day afterwards. Instead of three. Ugh. Union meeting today. This week is kicking my ass. And all the social stuff I had on the calendar for this week got kicked due to the cold. Double ugh. Whatever. October will hopefully be better.

I’m trying to kick the week’s ass back.

So after dinner, I pieced a back out of a couple bits and pieces (I really don’t care what’s on the back), taped it down to the floor, and started pinning…Simba was not helpful…


Mostly he would grab a toy and try to climb on some part of my body while I was pinning. I think eventually he figured out that I really didn’t like that. Because when he’s biting at his toy, he inevitably bites me too. Which sucks.


So eventually he went and laid down on the floor with Calli…my view from the pinning.


It didn’t take too long to do this, if you forget about the fact that I’d been at school for way too many hours, standing for way too long. It’s really not a huge quilt. A huge quilt would be twice as wide as this (like the last one I did).


Anyway, it was still relatively early, although I was tired, but I wanted to at least start the quilting…


So I did. For a while. I’m a little bit relieved to have gotten that done last night. I didn’t think I would have the energy.

Meanwhile, I’m planning part of the next project that needs to be done via email. Collaboration when you can’t meet. It’s OK. Our brains work. Eventually we’ll get into the same place with a bunch of materials, a glass of wine, and a plan. It’ll work.

Now I just have like 20 hours of quilting (or less? I’m beyond figuring that out for this quilt…)…OK, it should be less. The two giant quilts I’ve done in the last year that were twice the width of this one? They were 21 and 22 hours of quilting and there were significantly large background areas. This one has barely any background and it’s half the width. I originally thought I needed to be quilted by the 23rd, but now I’m thinking I might be able to get it done by the 18th? And then bind it and email the photographer.

Well there’s a plan. Now let’s see how I can fuck it up and still get done in time.

*The Dresden Dolls, Shores of California OK, so I’ve been picking the song that was playing when I got to the end of writing, but honestly, I don’t know what quote I’m gonna pull from this song. I love the song itself, but eek. Let’s see what plays next. Kimya Dawson, Like Giants Still a weird but lovable song.