Out in the Wind

So I spent this weekend in 29 Palms helping to install a labyrinth our fearless leader Linda Litteral has been working on for months. Our ex-fearless leader, Anna Stump, has started an artists’ residency out there on a property she’s been cleaning up for a while. The landscape speaks to you, whether you want it to or not. This is all part of the art group Feminist Image Group that I’ve belonged to for about 7 or 8 years, when I was looking for somewhere to show my work that didn’t write me off as a porn artist (the quilt shows, because of the nudity) or a crafter (the art shows, because of the quilts). It’s a supportive and accepting group that is growing every year. The pandemic might have slowed our exhibitions down a bit (there’s one still trapped in the downtown library), but we are all still making in one way or another.

I have about a million photos to process and no real time for it this morning, so this smidgeon will have to do. A 3-hour drive up and back, my first In ‘N Out since March? February? No seats in the house.

It’s OK. You’re supposed to eat it in the car.

We stayed in a quirky barely-more-than-one-room AirBnb about 3 miles from the dairy.

It was a funky place, probably one of the cabins originally built so you could get a free 5 acres.

Concrete floors, painted…

Well a little bit…

Headed out earlyish the next morning to haul rocks…

Literally drove out a ways, opened up the back of the car, picked up rocks, drove them back to the labyrinth where Linda placed them. This is where I heard they had called Biden/Harris for the win. There was some yelling! A miracle? Not really. So many people still OK with Trump-level hatred and behavior. I’m not OK with it. And this isn’t a solve…we can’t go back to standard Democrat government…because it didn’t solve a lot of the issues in schools, in communities, for people of color, for immigrants. We need to work on this country…and I don’t know how to get people to see that only focusing on your fear of different or of losing “what you have” is not a healthy way to live. But let’s hope we can move forward…I don’t have a lot of faith in the far right, the group that promotes white supremacy and shooting people and Let’s Make America White Again. It didn’t start out that way, y’all. And we aren’t special enough for it to go that way. And damn, the environment, people’s rights…ALL people. Shee-it, it’s gonna take some time to fix some of the last 4 years of crazy. And for people to find the love for their species. All that went through my head in the middle of this labyrinth.

We had a tour of the place, and by then, the wind had picked up and it was hard to be out there. I was expecting more work, but there were a goodly number of us and it went quickly.

The man wanted to hike up in Joshua Tree, but got up there and encountered hail and rain, and was warned of snow (it never rained on us, OK, maybe a few drops in the afternoon), so he gave up, came and got me, and we watched bad and OK movies while I drew…I finished this one from earlier in the week.

There’s the rocks! IDK what is going on with the tree, but her face is good. Sometimes I just draw.

We debated venturing out into the cold, still a bit windy, to make a fire, and decided to stay warm.

The next morning, I was out at the dairy earlyish again for the dedication of the labyrinth. We had a video guy out there with a drone and he recorded us walking it a few times.

We also recorded our artist statements for our particular pieces in the labyrinth…

There’s mine, officially untitled. Then they recorded us again inside, because the wind had really picked up and I suspect some of us are hard to hear.

I have loads more photos and will get them on the FIG blog hopefully later this week.

And the video, whenever it’s done. I can’t say I love the desert, but it is fascinating. And we keep coming out to Joshua Tree and having weather issues. The last was hot (in February)…this was the opposite. The wonder of a land that is so harsh and beautiful.

Long drive back, I’m so exhausted now, I can’t even tell you. But it was worth it to see the piece in person and help put it together. The animals were glad to see us. Nova is hiding here.

“You can’t see me.” Hmmm. Kitty butt. Oh yeah, and I drew this on Saturday.

I actually have a way I want to redraw this…we’ll see if it works.

This week is a weird one. We get Veteran’s Day on Wednesday off, which fucks up schedules for the kids…some of them have two days of instruction and some have three, so I have to do something that will help the group that gets more, but not harm the ones who don’t. I did some school planning in 29 Palms…had to…grades were mostly done (they’re due tomorrow), but I hadn’t planned much. I don’t feel ready to start teaching in an hour and 18 minutes, but it’s not like that’s gonna go away. I’ll get it done. Hopefully. I am totally exhausted. Went to bed early last night but didn’t sleep well. My body is tired, my brain even more so. Somehow by tomorrow, I’ll have to get my head around planning the next week of school…not even sure how. I don’t feel good about this year, I’m having a hard time making sure the kids are connecting with the curriculum, the assignments…I know a goodly chunk of them are connecting with me, because of emails and chats in Zoom, but it’s so hard not seeing them. Plus I feel like I’m talking to myself half the time. Trying to get them to answer on Zoom is like pulling teeth.

Well, I get a flu shot today, finally…couldn’t get in before now. My left eye is twitching…not a good sign. I need to pack up two quilts for a local show and another to ship it out of here. Got paid for it and am happy to send her to a new home…just need to get the slats and a box, I think. Yikes. Then hopefully draw the second iteration of the second drawing above, and maybe start making something. Kinda driving me crazy not having that to go to in the evening. My fault for not being able to make a decision. So on with it!

I Might Even Be OK with It…

Did you see a dog was elected major of some town in Kentucky? Seems a better choice than some. Still waiting, America…still waiting.

For the first time ever in my teaching existence, I finished grades the day the gradebook opened. Why? Because I am leaving this afternoon to drive to 29 Palms for an art installation I have work in, and I still have to plan for next week (which often takes anywhere from 6-15 hours). Can’t do it while I drive or while I install/help. Honestly not sure how it will get done. I can teach one of the three subjects on Monday as is…the other two will take a little work. Then if I have to catch up during prep, I can. I feel like I’m always playing catchup though. It’s affecting my ability to do everything: make art, fix things around the house, answer freakin’ email. And then a counselor asks how many times I’ve contacted parents about a kid who rarely shows up to class, and I’m like, if you can tell me how to find one email on the app we use to contact parents? I’ll tell you that answer. But I have over 200 to dig through, most with multiple blind-copied recipients, and I can’t figure out how to search easily. So I don’t have time for that. This morning is a potentially contentious meeting and I’m not ready for it, but I have 22 minutes before that. Write fast!

Here’s the piece that’s being installed at the Labyrinth our fearless leader is building…

Should be an interesting weekend. I’ll be taking my sketchbook and my school computer and the man who lives with me.

No cats though. This was the night after election night. Turn off the TV, can’t watch the numbers, just put lines on paper. I still haven’t decided what to work on next. I’m flailing.

Next week. I will figure it out.

There’s this…

It’ll be in the Winter issue. The real live show that was going to be out where my daughter is? That’s gone virtual, unfortunately. I also got into another local show, so more will be coming on that. AND…finally got the photos back of COVID Daughters from the photographer…

She’ll be off to her new owner next week.

This bread had to come out 5 minutes early because I had to start teaching. I suck at bread scheduling.

Interesting spaceship on top.

Wednesday night, I walked in the dark. I worked until just about 5 with my coworker and the time change is a fucker, isn’t it?

Took my headlamp. Made it most of the way without it. Honestly it’s for the cars so they will see me.

Luna love while I’m trying to work…

So helpful. She and her sister played a game of Under as well.

IDK who won.

I really expected Simba to fight this more…

Girlchild wanted him to dress up as a panda apparently.

We’ve been getting these spectacular sunsets lately…

There’s probably something bad we’re doing to the environment to cause them.

I’ll leave you with this…

Motivational sayings on product boxes? OK.

Today? Teach. All day. Hopefully I know what I’m doing. Pack and drive a lot. Sleep. Tomorrow art in a socially distanced manner. Desperately try to plan for teaching next week in between all that. It’ll be fine. I might even be OK with it.

The Properties of Glass…

Hey America. How are you this morning? I am (sort of…not really…let’s not lie, unlike our governmental officials) patiently waiting for everyone’s vote to count. I wish they counted without the electoral college, but that hasn’t happened yet. So we wait. And as we wait, we wonder how so many people are OK with racism…are OK with destroying the environment…are OK with the number of people dying of COVID (we’re winning on that one, thank you, Mr. President and those of your ilk)…are OK with the rich getting more and the poor getting less…are OK with kids in cages and doctors performing illegal hysterectomies…are OK with the LIES. If you can’t tell the truth, what does that say about what you are doing?

Deep breaths. I teach today. I function today. I went to pilates yesterday to force my body to release some of its tension…but also to the class where someone tested positive three weeks ago. It was a small class and the guy who can’t keep his mask on and was hugging everyone out front three weeks ago was not in class. A relief for me. I’ve only once said something to someone about their mask issues. But yesterday was going to be the second time if he came in with it covering only his chin. The shield wearers? Yeah. Well. While exercising mostly lying on your back, that shield is useless. But OK. I do wonder which of the 5 other people in class was the one who tested positive.

It’s so exhausting being on all the time. I miss teacher days when I didn’t have to directly instruct everyone at once, when I could assign something and then walk around and sit with kids for a while and try to suss out where they were. It’s hard on Zoom, hard to get a sense of why this kid copied the whole assignment from the internet, or why that kid isn’t listening at all. I’m mostly managing chat and kids who are on the wrong document or asking questions I’ve already answered. Well that part is normal. Yesterday I spent about 4 hours grading some larger assignments, some art and some science, and I got to this point of standing to grade, dancing around a little bit because it was all driving me nuts, staring at things, trying to decide yes or no? Did they do it? Did they get close? Are they totally off? I have another chunk today, plus I need to make a few more videos. I made one last night, but the glare from the overhead lights were an issue, so I’ll redo it today. Ugh. I think about what I enjoyed about my job before and it was the interactions with kids, the moment when they sort of got it, and it’s so hard to see those right now. Occasionally when something is turned in and I grade it, I’ll see it. Otherwise, it’s just not there. The in-person teachers are getting that spark and I’m not…they’re getting daily connections and I’m not. Not enough of them.

My country, my job. Sigh. I really do need to decide on the next art project and start it for real, because my brain is in a bad place right now. I did number the two pieces I copied…

This one has about 130 pieces, I think? Not much. The bigger one has 919.

One of the issues is that to use my light table right now, I have to take all of the school stuff off of it, and then put half of it back the next morning, so that’s a pain in the ass. It’s worth it, yes…

When I was numbering, I just shoved it over…you can see some of it on the right…but to trace, I need to take the top board off. That’s harder. Usually I just leave it off until I’m done tracing. I’m not sure I can do that now.

We’ll see. I’ll adapt again. I keep doing that. My district has a woman who sends a motivational email once a week to all of us. Last week’s was some assholular drivel about how I can manage my time better (fuck you, district…stop adding to my load and maybe I could make some time for myself) and this week is about change being a good thing because it leads to progress. Well, sometimes by revolution and fire, yes…but too many changes overwhelm and burn out your staff. I’ve never been this burnt out in November.

There’s some bitchy tiny pieces in this one. It’s OK. They are easier to trace, right? Use less fabric. Take less time to cut out. Positive fucking attitude y’all.

Last night, I tried to make a video of drawing this grid…it’s sitting on top of the graphite zendoodle warmup that I did as a sample for the kids…

I will have to do it again today. And make a video showing them how to insert numbers in their PDF selfie files. And then teach them how to draw faces, which sounds exhausting and really hard to do on Zoom. The art teacher is being wonderful and making videos for her kids that I can use too, which is good, because I’ve never taught face drawing, self portraits like this. So on top of a new science curriculum that SUCKS…reading the essays yesterday, I’m like, I want a CER that makes fucking sense. This is awful. Remind me of that when I get to the end of this unit. Fuck the curriculum and write something better. If I have the energy. Do I have the energy? Do I have the brain power?

I don’t know.

OK, so today is grading the rest of the CERs (claim, evidence, reasoning, for those who care), fending off 30 emails about kids wanting to redo work over and over again or pissed because they didn’t do well, reining in my brain from thinking it’s all my fault they can’t do it (because two kids got perfect scores…so something I’m saying and giving them is connecting), trying to plan for next week, wondering if I’m driving to 29 Palms by myself this weekend, telling myself to just keep drawing every night, even if you’re tired, get the fuck up off the damn couch and draw something. Find patience in your head. Push the other shit into the corner and just do your job the best you can and find a way to be at peace for now. I don’t have to accept it…if that asshole continues to be President, I will not accept it. I can’t imagine where we will be in 4 years if that happens. My poor country. My poor environment. People’s rights, for fuck’s sake. The harassment that I see here in East County. Sigh.

In other news, there was a gecko. It was a very exciting experience that involved my three pitiful plants having a cat land in them.

Y’all, the gecko got away. I tried to explain the properties of glass to the cats, but they were as oblivious as a 7th grader listening to their science teacher give instructions.

The changes I need to make are here in my head. I can make them. And wait. Wait for a better time.

Shooing Snakes

It’s interesting that my brain is sure I should be up earlier on a Monday and tries to make me wake up and succeeds because as soon as any coherent part of it wakes up, it starts to worry about work and how to get it all done…that said, I was dreaming about snakes of all sizes everywhere and the dogs and cats were on them and chasing them and I was afraid one of the snakes was a rattler (they were all rattlers) and would strike, so I was running around, moving cats and dogs and shooing snakes.

If that isn’t a metaphor for life right now, I don’t know what is.

I spent a few hours last night trying to organize and finalize these gridded selfies for my Advanced Art kids, emailed all of the ones I had (28/38), planned the week for both art classes (as much as that ever seems to work), spent hours on science, made two videos, I have another 4-6 videos I need to make today and tomorrow for art, I think. I wrote it down. Graded nothing since Friday night…although I graded during gaming, the easy stuff, not the thinking stuff. Nobody should be grading thinking stuff on a Friday night. Gaming, being watched by the dog (she needed to pee), bouncing back and forth on the Mac between game info and what I was grading.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’m gone this weekend, although I do have wifi, and grades are due in a week. So I need to not only plan for next week, which is usually multiple hours of stuff, but grade everything that counts for this trimester and input it all. Fun stuff. You wish you were me.

Halloween for the students.

I would have worn the lemur costume but (a) they only see my head anyway and (b) it was warm on Friday.

On actual Halloween, I exercised, twice actually, did some art stuff, got interviewed for an art video thing…the Schweinfurth Art Center is currently showing Quilts=Art=Quilts, and here is my piece, Swallow Me Whole hung in that space.

They have a cool tour of the show you can see on their website here. Check it out. They’re editing all my words down to a reasonable amount (you know how that goes). I’ll let you know when it posts.

Strangely, Friday night, after gaming, I had energy. I had enlarged a couple of things, still debating what to do next. This drawing from a staff meeting got an extended body…

And I did enlarge the third possible COVID quilt.

It’s smaller than the last one, but it’s complicated. That’s not a bad thing in general. I’m debating.

Size comparisons…

I found out about another show I should enter, but the theme is not something my head is processing right now. So I don’t know.

Saturday also involved getting a nail out of my tire and a 3-mile hike in nature.

Luckily it was late enough that most people had left nature for their Halloween parties.

I’m not kidding. My neighbors threw one. Fifteen kids. We left candy in a bowl in the driveway.

This guy kept eyeballing us, but was much more interested in finding food.

The sky was beautiful.

The neighbors were mostly quiet…impressive, considering the candy consumption that must have happened. We ate out (outside…still not going into a restaurant) and then I sat and drew for my Patreon…

Nova kept trying to crawl into my lap…but eventually I got something done.

Scanned it, cleaned it up, posted it.

Hi Nova. Then Sunday was all school, all the time, in between phone calls and groceries. I finished sending those 28 emails to art students at 9:45 PM or so…which was really an hour later in Kathy brain time. I rode the stationary bike for exercise…gotta incorporate that back in. I got lazy or overwhelmed or whatever.

Then I tried to draw, got the sketchbook out, put it on the couch, found my pen, and Kitten was lying on it.

Straight up, I didn’t have the energy to draw anyway. School really kicked my ass yesterday, on a Sunday. It was just hard. It feels never-ending, like there’s never a break, and when I take a break, then I’m on again for just hours to catch up, and I never catch up. I don’t ever see the kids in person, just online, which is hard for me. I do have relationships with kids, but it’s not the same. I worry about some, I worry too hard about some I should probably just stop worrying about, I try too hard sometimes. Need to let some of those balls drop so I can survive this workload. The plusses of having a team support with all the little stuff, with the kids, with someone to talk to about school or kids; the co-teacher helping with planning stuff and making posts and assignments. That’s all gone. New curriculum, no curriculum, no materials, no support. Exhausted. I’ll be 1/3 of the way through the year on Friday. The vast expanse of time that unfolds before me in this school year…sigh. I do think about quitting. I do. I always expected to teach until I retired. I think I will…but as a high-risk person, I wonder how long it will be before I can go back…if ever.

I need to start the next art quilt. Even if it’s just that little Boom so I have something to work on. I need to start. I need a place for my brain to rest at the end of the day besides this crap.

X Is Me…

We’ve almost made it a third of the way through the school year. I thought I was losing my mind yesterday. OK, I often think that, but not nearly as intensely as I have this year. But the combination of staff meeting plus stuff I still haven’t caught up on from the last staff meeting plus trying to plan for next week and finish this week, and the grading pile that is electronic but symbolically reaches toward the sky plus all the other stuff I do that is in my head, the art stuff, the to-do list for that, the thing that keeps me somewhere near sane and from crying more often than I do…HOLY FUCK. I cannot keep up. And yet I do. I drop things, I flail at things, there’s a faucet at home that needs replacing and they’ll send it to me free but I have to find the manual and it’s in a pile and the boychild has tried to find it and can’t and I just don’t have the time. I need to clean the bathroom counter. No time. I haven’t watered much this week. No time. I did manage to exercise three times, which is exactly three more times than last week, so that is good…but tomorrow, the tire needs its nail removed and that is just one of the 7,000 things that needs doing on the weekend and it sounds exhausting because it is.

Please no one tell my admin that I have not filled out the emergency sub plans because I don’t have the time or energy to even look at them. Maybe they will not notice. Except honestly the only people that will suffer are my emergency subs and my coteachers and that’s not fair to them, but holy fuck when am I supposed to fit that into the 37 emails about one assignment that everyone and their mother wants me to grade?

Deep fucking breaths. It’s Friday. I will manage it…some of it anyway. Can’t manage all of it. There isn’t time. Yesterday’s mind fuck was this formula…

Which the boychild calculated for me to figure out a kid’s grade who had one teacher for the first 6 weeks, worth 25% of her grade, another teacher for the next 4 weeks, and then me for the last 2 weeks, which haven’t happened yet. I asked my principal and my math coteacher (well, she WAS my math coteacher, but not now, because COVID sucks), and they sorta helped, but now I have a formula and that’s all I needed. X is me, by the way. In case you were wondering. Or my percentage for her. When I have one. Still not sure how I’m going to make the program work for this, but I’ll just make shit up if I have to.

Wednesday night, I couldn’t focus on anything, but I knew I wanted to do something artistic, so I pulled the most recent batch of fabrics from Anna Maria Horner for Applique Stories…and I stared at them for a while until I saw boobs. Seriously. I did. And I cut them out.

Possibly a strange way to start, but it worked for me. I was going to stop there and go to bed. That would have been the smart and responsible thing to do. But it bugged me that she didn’t have a face. So I made her one.

I think she still needs hair and maybe some dark in her eyes for pupils and the right ribcage needs decoration to match the left one. And then stitch her all down. But it was a relief to make her.

Then last night, I forced myself to sit and pull out my sketchbook, because I had forgotten about this unfinished drawing from mid-July and I liked it, so I finished it.

I’m still debating if she’s the next quilt or not. She might be. She’s talking like she is.

This was a relief. I mailed it because I didn’t have time to drop it off anywhere, but it got there and was accepted.

I have never stressed so much about how I colored in the ovals and the ballot arriving.

I upped my tea stash…a friend sent me some fancy teas, plus I ordered a chai tea sampler because I can’t drink milk within two hours of my pill to ward off Lyme disease, and I still need (NEED) the tea, so I got some more and then found all my loose tea holders (there were many)…

One is robot-shaped, one is teapot-shaped, the others are more standard. I have a yellow submarine one too, but I left it in the drawer. What keeps me functional right now? Tea. Lots of it.

And these guys…

That is my copy paper box. Obviously a cat bed.

I will give you the loves and you will like it.

It’s been chilly in the mornings…this is one of the few sunny spots in winter…

When things are super bad and stressful, I walk around the house and pet something furry.

And heat my tea up. Again. For the thousandth time.

OK. Well, it’s Friday, for what that’s worth. I’m wearing my eyeball hat for Halloween…for my students today. It might help. It might not. I’m letting all the things go that irritated me yesterday. If they hand nothing in, they have an F. That’s just a statement of fact. I feel for parents, but I can’t do everything for them. They need to check in with their kid. I am only one person with 173? Is it 173 now? I don’t even know how many students I have y’all. I don’t even know. I am only one person with possibly 173, possibly 174 students, and there is only so much I can do. But I do have to grade and plan this weekend, and hopefully walk, and hopefully get my tire fixed. And maybe start the next quilt, if I can make a decision about that.

The Sun Is Up…

One of my motivators for getting work done is that I always need to have something to write about. The writing itself serves a purpose in my brain, lets me spit out some of the stuff that clutters it up in there, but the art kind of does that too. They work together to keep me sane. Work has always had incredibly busy spurts where it is hard to get anything else done (art, yardwork, housework, sleep), but this is worse, more encompassing, and having a project end without one to take its place is proving difficult.

I found this drawing the other day, probably from my rocketbook sketchbook…you draw in it and it sends it to your computer.

I would love to be sold on this technology, but it’s a relatively small sketchbook and I never got in the habit of using it. You have to use certain kinds of pens on it too, which is fine, but they aren’t what I prefer to draw with. I do love the idea of having it transfer to the computer though. I wish I could do that with my larger drawings, but tech and I haven’t met in the middle on this one yet.

I did think, with a little redrawing and additional stuff, I could make this into a quilt, but then my art brain was a little disdainful, make something with meaning, how can you not, with what we are living through right now. I’m in a sort of frozen status of working too hard, too many hours, too exhausted at the end of the day to focus on something new like that. Plus I have other things I’ve had to get done…I packed up a quilt for the photographer one night. I have another one that needs to ship out to Quilt National. I made a video for my Patreon last night. I presented at a Textile Slam last night too. Talking on Zoom after talking on Zoom all day. I have an exhibit I need to enter, probably sooner rather than later. These tasks need to be done at some point.

All excuses for not getting something started. Grab a drawing, enlarge it, move all the crap off the light table (well that will be an issue while I am teaching art…on the table, off the table, on the daily). Get something done. Let’s hope my evening brain agrees. My morning brain is suitably exhausted and feels overwhelmed. More tea! These almost dark morning starts…

I love the sunrises. I don’t love being awake early enough to see them.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of these. We get them in Spring and early Summer, and then they disappear…

Although I saw one last October as well. Grow big, Monarch caterpillar. Go forth and conquer the world! Or at least this milkweed.

Sigh. This was the subject line. The email was longer and full of guilt trips and whining.

Ah, middle schoolers…the world does revolve around you, doesn’t it? There’s a whole lot of laziness right now. I feel for parents who work and/or have multiple children. Trying to keep up with all this crap is difficult for me, and I don’t have children who might blow everything off, make excuses, and lie about it. I had an assignment for the kids yesterday, pretty structured, an hour to complete something that should take maybe 30 minutes, if you’re focused. At the end of class, I bounced through the kids’ assignments and found 7 or 8 kids in the first class who didn’t do diddly squat. Nothing. Nada. OK. Well, I’ll email all your parents. The majority won’t answer, but this one is having a traumatic moment, because her parents DID answer (asked for a Spanish translation, which I provided). I feel for her…except I’ve had her since August, and this behavior is consistent at least. Sure, honey, we’d all like to delete all the bad stuff and focus on the new. I will help you with that by moving the old unit all the way down to the bottom of the classwork stream, once we’re done with it. But you need to show up to class and actually DO something for once please. Man, I work hard every day. I do have kids who also work hard. I appreciate them. I did wait about 8 hours before I answered her, because the first response in my head wasn’t very nice. She won’t like my final response either, because it’s basically No. Show up. Do the work. But I’m watching other kids who are called out on their chronic absences and admin says they will start working, and they pick warmups from a month ago that I’m not going to grade. I don’t have time to go back to September and regrade all the basic stuff you missed. Pick something recent. Come to class. You can’t pass if you don’t show up and listen to the discussions.

This job…it just hurts right now. My co-teachers at least see each other at school and can talk. I get a once-in-a-while phone call or Zoom, both of which are really nice, and honestly, I don’t have time for more than that, but it makes it hard. I get a quick run into the office every two weeks or so…I’ve seen our office secretary more than anyone this year. I fucking hate this year.

OK, well obviously I need to start a new art piece tonight, even if it’s that little drawing tweaked a bit. It doesn’t have to be big. It just has to get started and get me through to the next place, the next piece, to some sense of peace, whatever that means right now. Plus the sun is up, so I have to go work.

42 Hours…

It was good to have a few days, wait, was it even days? It was not…it was good to have…um…42 hours off of work. Seriously. It was. I came home with a nail in my tire, a bunch of wet tent parts, and a tick embedded in my torso (it’s OK…that one is gone and now I’m on antibiotics, purely precautionary. No way was it on me long enough to do anything but an allergic reaction. But the doc thought it was worth treating). I’m tired…we didn’t sleep well either night, from idiotic camp neighbors one night (solved by Ranger Eric, who reminded them of their indoor voices and the camp quiet hours) and the wind the next night as a storm wandered, no blew in. Hence the wet tent parts. But we got the hell out of here, and yes, I’ll pay all week with grading and planning, but I was doing that already. There is no catching up this year. There’s no feeling like you’re on top of things, like you’ve got it all under control. There’s just getting through it.

Let’s see if I can keep that in my mind as I wing it today in one of my classes…the other 5 are planned, but one is a little um not nope planned. Ah well. I have a short prep period before it happens.

We made it out of the house Friday at 4, but had to deliver stuff and pick up dinner and then the tire pressure light went on, but that’s not when we found the nail. We finally made it to Cuyamaca and Paso Picacho Campground at around 5:30, I think. Not dark yet, but wondering about it. Tent was up in the light still, although it was a bit dodgy. It’s been a while since we put it up.

It was a great campsite, no one on either side, down slope a bit. It would have been more awesome if the people inhabiting three campsites across from us hadn’t been throwing a rave that night, or if the camp host had taken that down. They were pumping music and yelling at sports-attendance levels until after 12:30 in the morning. I was too tired and cold to get out of the sleeping bag to go yell at them, but the man talked to the rangers the next day, and it was handled. They were great the next night, proving that even Trump lovers (ah the T-shirts) understand a man in a uniform telling them to shut the fuck up.

We got up Saturday and headed up to Cuyamaca Peak, at elevation 6512′, the 2nd highest peak in San Diego County. I’ve been up there at least twice before, maybe three times. It’s not an easy hike, but it’s not impossible…

This area was burned some years back. The trees are definitely coming back, in full force, which is nice to see.

We started from the campground and took the Azalea Glen trail up to Conejos, and then across to the peak. Sounds easy, but it’s a good 5+ miles of climbing to get there.

Trees are still dying and falling from the fires, and there are huge sections where the tree parts are just piled by the side of the trail.

Also, morteros…signs of Native inhabitation in the past…

Lots of new trees coming up, of all different types. Not sure what the conifer with the long needles is…

It’s heartening to see the new trees popping up all over…imagining what it will look like in 10, 20, 30 years. A forest again.

Even the dead trees grow stuff…burnt wood feeding fungus…

It took us a long time to hike it…

The weather was reasonably cool, a plus, because there wasn’t much shade on the first part.

It’s a pretty steady climb. There’s Middle Peak…another way up.

I’ve done that too.

Eventually we got out of the fire-devastated area into some with more trees…

Great views though.

One part of the trail is pretty rocky…slowed us down.

OK, to be honest, we didn’t hike fast. It’s at elevation, we were both tired, and it was long. But we did it. We always do.

And there are great sights along the way.

Earlier in the week, the man had said we would get up, do this hike, take a break, a nap, whatever, and then do the other peak, Stonewall, across the way.

At some point, I said, nah. I’m gonna do this one and that’s it.

I do love it. I just need a break. At the top…

It’s a pretty spectacular view, even when you can’t see to the ocean. The fire road you use to get to the top is steep and evil, but that is often the case.

We get there eventually.

I think our slowest mile was 53 minutes…ouch. Funny, that wasn’t even the last bit up the fire road…it was mile 4. Our fastest was 20 minutes, more our style.

I think I had to put blister bandaids on in mile 4…definitely slowed us down having me redo both shoes. Anyway…we’re not in it for the speed.

We came back and relaxed. I drew.

We ate, we stared at a campfire on a much quieter night than the one before, went to bed, and the storm started up. I’m not sure if the wind was louder than the neighbors the night before? Certainly it brought rain and then next morning, we packed up pretty quickly and came home. Tent still needs a bath, but we’re waiting for better weather…it’s all laid out in the garage for now.

All good things. Cats were glad to see us.

Luna love.

Today I am back to work, school all day, barely planned some of it, made some progress in some places, I need to go do some stuff now. Oh yeah, the tick got pulled, probably attached less than 24 hours, but the doc wanted to be safe…plus I obviously had an allergic reaction to it…nice red ring (no bullseye until day 3, so we’ll be good). So I’m on antibiotics for 10 days just to be sure. Fun stuff. The quilt goes to the photographer today and then I’ll start on the next one. Once I figure out what that is.

Allow Grace for All

I’ve never been quite so obsessed with whether I colored in the circle carefully enough and dark enough.

Yup. She’s done. Just need to deliver her. And wait. And maybe the phone calls and crap shoved in my mailbox will stop soon. I’m wearing my I Voted sticker today on Zoom. We got this email about political shirts at school (or online)…and sometimes I wonder where they draw the line. With the school shootings, I remember my whole team wearing shirts with orange ribbons on them, which apparently is political. I certainly didn’t think of it as being political at the time. I still don’t think it’s OK to have guns as available as they are. I still have my shirt. I wonder if my Recycle shirts are political? Or Climate Change? I have all these science shirts I used to wear to school on Mondays. I don’t know where the line is. I know that there are some parents complaining about BLM shirts…but really, where is the line? What is political and what is just LIFE? Sigh. It’s not political to vote. It’s not political to care about an issue. Does my I Voted sticker send a political message? We’ll see. I’m still wearing it.

I finished the quilt yesterday. I have a hole in my finger to prove it. I was going to go find the sticky pad things I put on my fingers last night when I was finishing, but I was in a group Zoom in my office and someone was out there yelling at the debate, so I stayed here and poked a bigger hole in my finger. It’ll heal. I haven’t calculated hours yet. I haven’t ironed it. I need to take it to the photographer Monday, so I’ll iron and dehair and maybe put a label on it and then contact the new owner. Which is cool. And then I’ll start drawing the next one, hopefully this weekend. I say that, but we leave for camping after school…so we’ll see how that goes. I packed my clothes (mostly) last night…it’s supposed to get cold and possibly wet. Should be interesting. Also, I originally thought one hike? Apparently now it’s possibly three. We’ll see. I am going into it completely exhausted, but also, I’m not getting enough exercise…so I don’t feel like I’m in shape for anything.

The quilt…

Had about 338″ of binding and sleeve to sew down. I made it 3/4 of the way around the outside edge on Thursday night, and the rest of the way around plus the two sleeves last night (one meeting was book club, one was my stitching group).

Pretty damn efficient. I did some in front of the TV too. Then last night, I packed clothes and backpack and hiking stuff and made rice krispie treats (my post-hike blood sugar assist) and voted. And then went to bed. I still have prep to do for class today and Monday…but I’m mostly OK, as long as I don’t think too much about having to grade stuff next week and the fact that I’m doing some Textile Slam on Tuesday and a studio interview on the following Saturday and I’m not ready for either of them? It’s fine. I’m going to get it done. If that cat gets out of my way.

I try to plan/grade standing up to make up for all the sitting. Sometimes the internet does not comply, though, so I end up back in that chair. I gained a sweater and slippers this week…it’s cooled down a bit, certainly in the morning. I’m actually wearing pants instead of shorts today. Finally. In the last week of October. Don’t get excited; they’re not long pants. Just pants. I didn’t need a fan yesterday, first day in a long time. I still had my hair up by 4th period, though…it just starts to drive me nuts at some point.

I have to figure out a way to put a grid on the kids’ selfies for the next art project. The art teacher is trying to help…but I think she has Photoshop and I don’t. Paint.net might do it. I need to find the time to try that too. It’s all very overwhelming. I’m hoping two days away from it will help, although I know next week will be hard because of my taking two days. Sigh. There’s no winning in any of this. There’s no way to make it better for teachers and students until this damn pandemic is more under control.

What cats do when people go outside…they wanna check out what you’re doing…

Mostly when I’m teaching, they leave. I think it’s loud and they don’t like it.

OK, I need to wake up and get my brain going (you’d think writing this would do that, but I am that tired right now), teach all day, and then go camping. Wish me luck. Relaxation? Or at least escape? Good (better?) moods? No talk of work? Not a rule, but a goal. Venting is necessary at times. Patience as well, mine as well as others. Allow grace for all.

Finish Something…

The good thing about a little bit of art every day is that at some point, you will finish something. Perhaps a lot of little somethings, but something nonetheless. And it never guarantees you’ll like it, but that’s the way art is anyway. Don’t get excited…I’m not done yet (quite) and I do like it. And I wonder what’s next. I know the subject but not the specifics. Hoping that this weekend helps my brain come up with something. It will…it’s just a matter of whether it’s something I want to make into a finished product. A lot of what I do on paper never makes it into the time-consuming process of making an art quilt. I feel bad about that, but then again, I do what I can. This will be the 6th finish of the year, but one of them is pretty small. I think I can make one more this year. I’d like to think I could make two, but this job isn’t letting me do much of anything at the moment. So one. I know I can do one.

I finished the quilting on Monday night…

I just had one section of the background to do, and it was pretty easy.

The thread behaved; the machine did too. It’s nice when it’s like that. It’s not always like that.

11 hours of quilting. Not bad.

Last night, after working all day just like always, and grading until 9 PM or so, I laid out the quilt in the entryway and was watched (hindered?) by the two kittens…Nova really did just watch.

Luna…in true Luna fashion…tried to fuck with it. I trimmed her down (the quilt, not the cat), got her edges straight…

Ironed and cut the binding and the sleeves, and sewed them on…

That was 2 hours last night. I’m glad I did it. I was tired. I had more schoolwork to do (I always have more schoolwork to do). I was incredibly frustrated by school yesterday, and apologized to one kid and parent and then stopped looking at email for a while (smart) until I had literally input grades maybe one minute prior and a kid is already asking for a redo. At least he asked. Someone else, in seconds, had already resubmitted. My lord, children. Give me a moment to talk to you about how to improve your score? Nah. Just give me another half-assed attempt. Please. The first one wasn’t disheartening enough…I was yelling at some point last night that I didn’t understand how they thought sediment could melt into igneous rock. You ask in class, they all know where igneous rock comes from…well, no, because then you have the kids who sit there and do nothing on the app we use for science, and then they leave early, because I said, “If you’re done, you can leave,” and they interpreted the ‘done’ in a different way than I did. Which ‘done’ I am, by the way. And therein is part of the problem. If I am mentally done with dealing with the shit, it means I have to work really hard to have grace and patience for those who are trying, but they’re 12, and that means they’re not very good at it.

I think I will just answer all emails once a day, in the morning. Except then I forget to go back and do that and then there are hundreds of them, all piled up, like dead bodies rotting on the floor. It’s just overwhelming.

Today, I will work on sewing my binding on. I thought I would be able to get the quilt to the photographer Friday, but that’s crazy talk. We’re going camping, and getting up there with enough daylight to set up is what we need. I can deliver it next week. It will be fine. I will also work on getting as much of next week planned as I can, because I won’t have this weekend to do that. Yikes, really, but it’ll be fine. It has to be.

Yesterday was my dad’s 80th birthday. We Zoomed from all over…mostly the West Coast, but the two East Coast women joined in as well. I was going to go over and drop off treats and his gift, but I got an email from my gym about a COVID positive test in one of my classes from last week, so yesterday I went and got tested and last night I didn’t go over there to potentially infect them. The odds of my getting it in class are hopefully low. We’re far apart, I wear a mask, sanitize, shower when I get home. But you never know. Better to be safe. I remember thinking back when Dad was in his 60s and his heart was being cranky that we’d be lucky to get him through 70, so I’m pretty impressed he’s still chugging on, fixing my sprinklers, helping me build a fence. Every year is appreciated.

OK, I’m tired (yes, I stayed up too late to finish) and I have a shitload of work to do today (what’s new?) and I’ll be sewing binding during book club tonight…one thing I can do while waiting for a negative test result. I will miss my exercise class tonight…my body really needs it, but maybe I will find one online that works.

I did see my ceramic piece fired…

She (and I) will be in 29 Palms in two 1/2 weeks for installation in the labyrinth. Should be interesting.

This from my reading…

That’s from Stephen King, believe it or not. The man is a masterful writer. Although this is the narrator speaking, so is King…and that’s how I feel about art and teaching (most of the time). This year has been a real stretch for that, but I’m hoping a pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime event. We’ll see. I’d hate for them to become as commonplace as school shootings.

OK, off to work…in the other room…not so far.

Rabbits Everywhere

Today begins the fourth week of this new version of school, the third new version this year. Hopefully the last, although I get two new students today. They told me it would always be a one-for-one switch, but this is two for one. I’ve been told one of them never shows up. But he’s on my roster now, so I have to record things for him and mark him absent and all that, so it’s not like there’s no work when you go from 174 to 175 kids. Kind of pitiful too, when that’s the case. Where is this kid? What’s he doing? How is his family doing? I don’t know. More importantly (or tragically), I don’t have TIME to know. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. In the physical classroom, back in the day when school was ‘normal’, the school people, including me, would have time to track down that one kid who never shows up. Here and now? I know there’s someone who is supposed to be paying attention to that, but they’re also paying attention to daily spray downs and kids who won’t wear masks and kids who won’t social distance and teachers who might have COVID and students who have symptoms. The daily stuff overwhelms.

My whole team was texting their hours put in to school this weekend, and it was bad across the board. It’s not like we usually could walk away from it on the weekend completely…sometimes, if you planned really well during the week for the following week and there were no big assignments needing to be graded, well you could leave your computer at work and walk away from it. Now? Fuck no. In fact, this upcoming weekend, where I am venturing into no-internet land, I’m having to get at least Monday planned for next week. Getting this week planned and set up took 8 hours on Saturday and another 7 on Sunday. Some of that was art prep…I needed to put together packages for them to pick up for the next project…which included cutting out 70+ viewfinders…

Sorting through paper and pencils and getting a big order of blending stumps, stuffing everything in envelopes, and delivering it to school so kids can pick it up. No small feat. No small amount of time either…probably 3 of those 15 hours was just dealing with that.

I had two videos I needed to record for school, but the neighbors were either sawing, drilling, or screaming. I’m pretty sure one of the videos has kids yelling in the background and the other one has his blower/vacuum thing going.

The sky was beautiful while they threw their 3000th pandemic party.

I get some questions about teaching art…isn’t it fun? You like art. Isn’t it pretty easy? Well no, it’s not fun and it’s not easy. It’s managing 70 kids who range from I Hate Art to I LOVE Art with abilities that go along with that, on a computer, hardly being able to see their work or give them daily guidance, and coming up with ideas that support/bounce off of your co-teacher, who is just as buried and overwhelmed as you are. And I can’t just draw, because they copy what you do, and that’s not what this is about.

Friday’s lesson on how to shade things in many different media, because if I say you need a pencil, fourteen kids ask if pen is OK. So I did colored pencil, crayon, ink pen, ballpoint pen, and regular pencil. I thought later that I could have done pointillism, but I didn’t go there. I got some very good results, some OK results, some eh results, some “how is that 15 minutes of work” results, and some who don’t know how to turn anything in and I don’t know why. I spent about 3 more hours last night trying to figure out how to run this week, in between two projects but they don’t have the materials yet for the next project. So that was fun. It’s a whole ‘nother Google search regime. And time-consuming as hell. Did I mention that it’s two different levels of art? I’m not teaching them the exact same thing. So my brain is all over the place, can’t remember assignment numbers for each class. I need to type up a list (in my spare fucking time, y’all) so I can refer to it. And the last 2 hours last night was giving feedback on book cover prototypes, which is brain sucking stuff. What are the criteria? Are they hitting them? Did they just copy this off the internet? Certainly possible. What can I say to them that will help? And not hurt? I made it through 17 in 2 hours. I have 38 kids in that class. Luckily, so far, only 25 have turned them in. I have 8 to do today before class starts. And then I try to do them DURING class, which is a challenge.

So no, teaching art isn’t fun. I don’t like it. Certainly not this version of it. It at least doubles my planning time and grading time, maybe triples it. There are some things I can double up on, but not many. And sarcasm. I have to remember that the one class is all 6th graders and some of them don’t understand sarcasm yet. Neither do their parents. Sigh.

So school. Is hard. Is time-consuming, more than it ever has been. I think we will all be completely burnt out by the time the end of the trimester comes. And there are still two more after that.

I managed to get the outline quilting done on Friday night…

I don’t know where I find the energy sometimes. To get up off the couch, walk away from the TV and the brainless I don’t need to do any more. Saturday, I went and bought binding…and then started quilting the background.

I was tired. It wasn’t fast. There isn’t much of it, but it’s not a small quilt. I had to use a different thread and it was coming off the spool weird. The thread kept catching and breaking.

Fucking annoying. Time-consuming. I fixed it last night though…

Or it fixed itself because I used enough of it that it stopped catching. Hard to know. It did stop breaking though. I made it about 3/4 of the way around. At 11:35 pm, I stopped. I need to sleep. Another hour of quilting, maybe, and I’ll be done. Trim it, bind it. I can see it being done. That’s good.

Still fighting for time to exercise…Saturday night’s walk…

It cooled off. Rabbits everywhere.

Next weekend will be longer hikes.

And further away. Away from my computer and my work setup. The thing that’s always there, in my space, telling me I haven’t done enough.

Kitten likes it when we hike. She especially likes the smell of hiking boots.

She’s a little strange.

These two are sweethearts. When they’re not scratching shit and attacking my pens.

In general, good cats.

OK. I still have 8 prototypes that need feedback. I graded almost nothing this weekend in that 15 hours…which didn’t even count the three hours or more I did after school on Friday. I still need to make one more video thing, grade a million things, grade all the late work that panicked children have turned in, teach all day, and answer 6 thousand emails. Otherwise, teachers are fine y’all. Don’t worry about us. Keep having your non-socially-distanced parties and being a maskhole. Hey! Go vote! Everyone in my household has done that but me. I will. I promise. Not this week, probably, but maybe. I could. I will. It will be a relief to color that circle in.