Now I’m on My Knees*

October 12, 2016

Yesterday went sideways fast. Never assume that because the mornings are going well that the afternoons will follow. Afternoons at school are like recalcitrant, tired, hungry children. Sometimes you can get them back to normal with a snack and a nap, and sometimes it’s a clusterfuck. Yesterday? Clusterfuck. I swear. I need to find that balance.

I even came home and worked some more. I have to. I barely have time to grade at school because of planning. This one made me laugh out loud…


Dammit. Why isn’t the floor salad? It should be! I love my language learners…sometimes I can’t figure out what the hell they’re saying, and sometimes I know what it is but it just amuses me.

But then after dinner and hanging out, I finally got to this point…I took all this glue from school, where I hadn’t used it since I taught art up at the other middle school (9 years?)…this glue never dies, people…


And I found all the books Prudence got, plus the one I already had, and then I did something I have been trained for years NOT to do…


I tore pages out of those books…and I mixed me up some gluey water…and I started to decoupage. Yeah. That.


So my feminist art group has a show coming up about nightstands, about the women who sleep next to them. Prudence and I have done all our brainstorming via email, because both of us are too busy to ever be in the same room together, but we both read in bed, sometimes to fall asleep, sometimes because we can’t sleep. And so we picked books by female authors who either had to write under a masculine pseudonym or one so anonymous that you wouldn’t be able to tell…and this thing is covered with those pages.


It probably took 2 1/2 hours to cover it. I’m OK that they’re not flat. I’m sure a perfectionist would have issues. Now it’s ready for the drawing stage! Oh yeah. You read that right. I’m not sure how that’s gonna fly, but we’ll figure it out.

At the end, I took a break with the puppy, who needed some lap time. I needed some wine.


Yes. I did decoupage in the middle of my living room on the coffee table. Gotta love living alone sometimes. I was a little worried that I’d wake up in the morning and find a cat glued to it, but they stayed away.

Calli was significantly uninvolved in the project. So was Katie…


I think they were afraid they’d end up in the project.

This goes with the fabric one I’m working on…they both have to be done by November 1st, possibly earlier. Ha! Yeah. I’m working on it.

Speaking of working on it, this is what I face to get out of my street, my one lane…


They move the plates back over so I can get out, but it takes time. Pain in the ass…for the next two months on and off. Sigh.

*Peter Gabriel, Shock the Monkey

You Can Ponder Perpetual Motion*

October 11, 2016

Aargh. I feel like this year is going to burn me out quicker than most school years, and not because of the kids (that’s usually what does it). I’m trying to do all the things I’m supposed to do to handle that, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Yesterday I had a ton of professional development, although honestly it just felt like another way to make me do more work than I’m already doing. It’s enough to write curriculum from scratch…but to then have to do all this supplementary stuff on the curriculum I just wrote is killing my brain. When I got overwhelmed (and irritated) in the morning, I started drawing. Unfortunately, this is on the back of some crap I’m probably going to need later (and they told me I would need yesterday, but did not).

This is what it looks like when Nida is overwhelmed in a PD…


And it’s not because what they were saying was hard…honestly, I’ve seen most of it before, but then that just irritates me, and then they assigned some really vaguely worded homework for when we next meet, and I just don’t fucking care about their little projects that I have to jump through a hoop for. Let me plan. For god’s sake, let me get some grading done, because I’m buried. Stop telling me I have to do more.

This year. Damn. There are 17 other things I need to manage today that are school-related besides the two additional things that were assigned yesterday. Bastards.

So by the time I got home, I was antsy as hell. I just needed to like RUN somewhere (and my knees don’t go along with that much). I’ve been having a person issue with one of my walking routes with the dogs, so I didn’t want to drag all three dogs through that route…but I needed somewhere close. So I drove to the ex’s house with two dogs and picked up the third dog, and walked their butts off. Mine too…we needed it. OK. I needed it more than they did.

But I came home and dealt with grades, because I lost my prep period yesterday and didn’t have time to get them done. Plus I’m constantly trying to catch up.

Then I sanded this sucker for the nightstand project…in the dark. On the deck. With the dogs. Listening to the yelling down the road from a major accident…I heard it happen and then the yelling started. Sirens. They were yelling about a rollover. Scary stuff. It’s the turn I make onto my road and once a car barely avoided my ex with both kids in the car, taking out a mailbox instead.


Tonight I’m hoping to start gluing shit on it. Not really shit. You’ll see. The holes on the bottom are a bit of an issue. Trying to decide what to do about them. Quick fix. There’s metal screens in there. I don’t want to spend a lot of time dealing with the holes. And I’m not great with a power saw. I have a piece of wood that’s too wide…but it would just be one cut.

Then I settled down with scissors. I thought I could finish cutting these out last night, but I was too damn tired.


I’m maybe halfway done. Another thing to try to get done tonight. And grades. Always grades. In fact, I should be doing more of that right now…sometimes I do feel like a perpetual motion machine…

*Creedence Clearwater Revival, Up Around the Bend

Everything Zen…I Don’t Think So…*

October 10, 2016

OK. Feeling better. Got some stuff done. Did a ton of grading…still not done, but better. Finally got to the next step in the project that has to be done way too soon, and got the materials for the other project that has to be done at the same time. Got a quilt ready to ship. Now the house and yard are still a disaster, and I’m sure I forgot something, but I’m starting out OK. I even have clean laundry. See? I am functional. And how I feel about the day is directly related to how much of the to-do list I cleared the day before AND how much time I got to make art. This is why I feel better over breaks. Even the ones where I have to spend 40 hours grading.

One of the things that was delaying my start on ironing the newest piece to fabric was that I had to put away all the fabrics from the last quilt. There were a ton of them…


But it’s not like this process takes very long…I just don’t ever want to start at 11 PM.
So I was good yesterday…I started in the late afternoon.

I had spent a good chunk of the day grading, just like I did on Friday. And puppy came to me exhausted on Sunday, which was a good thing.


Honestly, having three dogs is a pack, and it’s a bit too much for me, but they do entertain the little one better.

The newest piece is a bit of a departure, since it will (a) actually lie on a bed and (b) not be bound. At least not for this show. I may bind it later. I’m also incorporating a real sheet in the bottom of the piece, but I realized the pillowcases in the drawing probably should use the sheet fabric as well.


There are two human figures…but there’s only 200 pieces total in this whole piece, so I thought I could probably iron it all in one go…the flesh of the adult below.


I had to talk myself into continuing at one point, because I was tired, but I was so close to done. It’s always a balance…because I find it hard to fall asleep anyway, so when you add that into the mix, it’s really better if I stay up too late and then I’ll fall asleep quickly (well, honestly, that didn’t work last night, but puppy barking was part of the issue…he needs earplugs).

Here’s all the fabrics I used in this piece…35 of them. In about 3 hours…


And there they are, all ready to be cut out tonight.


That is, if I survive today. Professional development in the morning, teach in the afternoon, and then a 2-hour staff meeting. Plus the dogs need a walk, but I’m not sure I can handle all three of them at once. I don’t have enough time during the week to pull off multiple walks usually. So I’ll have to figure that out.

Three dog butts eating in a row…


Feeding them is seriously a chore, keeping the two fat ones out of the little one’s food. Piglets. And then he just looks at me…”Mooooom. They ate my food again.” He’s the slowest eater. By far. Survival of the fittest.

I’m awfully tired this morning to sit through a PD. They make me cranky as hell anyway. Not a good sign. I’ve already seen the topics list and the things they’re going to make me write about, and I don’t have the brain power. It’s more work on top of a huge pile of work that already exists. Oh well. At the end, there’s art.

*Bush, Everything Zen

When You Come Undone*

October 8, 2016

I know what I wanted to get to last night artwise and it didn’t happen. I was just too tired. My eyes have really been bugging me…getting all watery and tired. I’m blaming the weather, since we’re back to crazy warm again. Or just overuse. Or something. But I didn’t think I could pick fabrics last night when I couldn’t see straight. Perhaps staring at a computer for hours is part of it.

I came home from work…left there late because we are out in the morning on Monday for some training that I am not trying to think of as a waste of time at the moment. Because they say things like, “We’re giving you time to PLAAANNN…” but then it’s plan for what they think we should be doing and not what we’re really doing. Because this is about language standards in science…because we don’t make our kids write their asses off? And I don’t know what I’m doing? You’re right…a Comp. Lit. degree and years of editing does not mean I can write. Or the 500+ words I write almost every day…whatever. I hate saying whatever all the time, but professional development is meant to push up and support those who need it on some general topic…and if you’ve already got that, then you’re screwed. There’s stuff I need help with and I’ll never get it out of PD. Rant over. Well. For now.

And then the errands for my parental units…lots of work in that. Fought the traffic and finally got home, and my water was off. But the guy who did it was running up the road yelling “Miss! Miss!”. Reminded me of school. Got the water back on (they have to move the pipes due to the new behemoth…house that is being built at the bottom of the road. Dealt with dogs…only two last night. Then I worked. School. For about 5 hours. Straight. Ugh. There’s more. I gotta do more. Maybe not today. We’ll see.

So at 11:22 PM, I was thinking, well…what CAN I do…because standing up and going to the studio and cleaning up enough to start picking fabrics is so totally NOT happening at 11:22 PM on a Friday night after teaching all week.

And that is why I found the big sketchbook in my hand (finally…oh my, what a relief) and I just let the pen drift across the page, and this idea of hands pulling the upper layer apart to reveal something behind, that happened.


It’s weird. And it’s not done. But it felt nice while I was doing it. And that’s the point. That’s what my head needed. And honestly it needs a shitload more of it, because if I’m leaving work on a Friday night and facing the weekend, it shouldn’t feel like I’m trying to shove down a panic attack, and that’s what it felt like. I have some big heavy things that need moving, and I can’t do it by myself…both literally and metaphysically. I need help with that. So there’s that side of it, where I feel like I’m on my own and can’t ask for or find help, and then there’s the part where my job is currently so demanding, both of time and mental energy, that I can’t find the space to make art. To relax.

Anyway. Right now I need to make a bunch of deviled eggs for a potluck/art talk thing tonight where I’ll be one of the talkers. I have my Powerpoint done but I have no fucking clue what I’m going to say. Which is fine. And I’m hanging out with a friend midday, but have stuff on both sides of that which need to get done. So off the chair, out of this room, go get shit done.

*Duran Duran, Come Undone

Find Out What We’re Made of*

October 7, 2016

OK. Better. A little. I made art. It’s amazing what that daily dose does for me. Well and a counseling session. Mindset needs to flip about some stuff. Trying to do that without feeling more stress about it. That might be the hardest part.

So first of all, I delivered this commission, Owl 3.0, last night…


To its rightful owner, Julie…who has been around me and my art for a long time and is one of my two Number 1 Fans.


We stitch every month together at a Barnes & Noble…this was my name on the cup last night…


Creative spelling. Or just hieroglyphics.

I worked on one of the Sue Spargo blocks. These are very relaxing to do…and more appropriate in the space than trying to cut Wonder Under out.


Although with 105 bullion knots just in the flower, I think each block might take 8 months to do…


I really do like to hand embroider. I just don’t do much of it any more on my own pieces…no time. Maybe that’s something that should be in the solo show. Somehow. Because I still have no time.

I’m followed everywhere by this pod of mismatched dogs…


They mill about and occasionally settle…I don’t know if you can see the Golden on the floor under my feet.


She put her bone on the coffee table for safekeeping. Seriously. From the puppy. Who is on my lap.

I finally settled them all enough that I could start cutting out the Wonder Under for the piece that was supposed to be done last week. And I was getting emails about it yesterday…for photos of the piece in progress. Well. Um. Here they are.


Lots of doggy interaction going on…


But I cut them all out in less than an hour…


I even sorted them into two bins (there’s only 200 pieces). So if I have any energy or brainpower tonight, I can pick the fabrics. Certainly I should have them done over the weekend. Cutting pieces and ironing down next week…which means figuring out the construction issue…by next weekend. I’m quilting this, but not trimming and binding it. Not for this show. I might decide differently later on…but for this show, it shouldn’t be.

So that will make it easier to get it done. A little. I also need to make a slide show of my work for a presentation tomorrow night. Which is a little nerve-wracking. But I guess I know about 5 people in the group…so it won’t be totally like standing up in front of 40 people you’ve met. Just about 35 people I’ve never met. It’ll be fine.

OK. Progress. My brain is in a much better place this morning. Those alpha waves save my ass…

*Bruno Mars, Count on Me

But I Won’t Hesitate No More…*

October 6, 2016

I have to admit this school year is kicking my butt. The constant planning is hard on my brain…this is planning with no existing curriculum…just a pile of standards. It takes a ton of time. And on top of that, there are the running weekly adjustments to make shit work. And then we try to plan low-maintenance days into the curriculum, days when we should be able to get some grading done or sit and check in with kids who really need it, or at least not be at 130%, and instead it turns into high-maintenance checks. Mostly they want me to check every one of their answers, and I’m trying to train them to check their own work. To have faith in their own ability. That’s a lot harder to teach. To teach a kid that not every answer has to be pre-approved by the teacher. Oh my. It’s exhausting. Seven-hundred hands in the air. Ugh. And maybe only one of them was legit.

I really need to sit next to a few of my kids and walk them through every research step, because they can’t even match up the words on the paper to the words on the screen. Like Find the Atomic Number…where is that? Where it says Atomic Number on the screen. Ironically, our English-learning department wants us to give them high-level text. I’m like…Um…you realize I could write this at a kindergarten level and it would be high-level for them? Sigh. I hate the system some days. Makes me want to be a barrista. Or a bagger at the grocery store. A job where I don’t have to take it home. Where I don’t feel like I’m failing on a daily basis.

Then an after-school meeting and the gym (I really needed the gym). I was so glad to get to read my book. I want to just sit down and keep reading it until I’m done, but that’s not an option at the moment. I honestly don’t have time to read unless I’m eating dinner (yes, I read while I eat) or at the gym. And then I graded. And then it was almost bedtime. I had to be up early this morning.

So I’m sitting here right now feeling UGHHGHG because I didn’t do anything yesterday (really) but work. I worked hard. But I only worked. It’s funny because then the next day there’s usually backlash and I don’t work at all (well, at least AFTER work hours…I don’t really have the option to blow off the day itself). So maybe it does balance. Except then I feel behind in grading or missing good feelings from making art, depending on what I didn’t get to that day. This job is incredibly awful for having a balanced life.

I guess if all I did when I came home was deal with the dogs, eat some dinner, and go to bed, everything would be fine. Silly me trying to be an artist in the face of that.

So I had to revise my door at school. There was a small contingent of whiny brats (sorry, I’m pissed that they didn’t have the balls to talk to me or my students…my students would have explained their thinking, which has nothing to do with the election and everything to do with bullying language) who went to the principal…these were adults, mind you, not kids. And now I have kids asking me why I changed it.


I told them the principal made me. Actually, that makes me laugh. And it’s still Trump’s face, so whatever.

I have no damn art photos for today, because I didn’t even touch it. But I did have dogs everywhere. And cats.


Ugh. I need a break. From shit. I NEED TO DRAW DAMMIT.

But right now, I need to go to school. And try to deal. Honestly, this adulting crap is getting old. Ha ha. Old. Because I’m old, right? Yeah. I know. Pandora is playing all this poppy perky-ass music and my brain wants like booming Led Zeppelin or slamming Linkin Park. Whatevs. This is what is known in my household as A Mood. It will wander off eventually if I stop feeding it shit.

*Jason Mraz, I’m Yours

Crazy Thoughts Have Quick Wings*

October 5, 2016

It’s funny that lab days at school are tiring, but days when I make them write are even more exhausting…I’m still walking the room, but now it’s to get them on task and focused and understanding the instructions they didn’t listen to in the first place. My patience wears thin. I’ve got that 10% who got the thing written while I was giving instructions. And the kids who wrote it yesterday, even though I told them not to, and then had to rewrite. I’m OK with them. And the 10%. But the 20% who didn’t do the prep work and now are saying they can’t write it? Oh man. Therein lies the challenge. And I was observed yesterday as well. I hope she enjoyed it. I definitely worked for it.

So the hardest part of my day sometimes is trying to find the energy and the brainpower to stand up and find my art materials and do the next step, especially if it’s something I really don’t feel like doing. I had spent some time grading and hanging out, so it was a late start. I was exhausted. Really. So I made a cup of tea and set up the light table. Because no way was I doing nothing last night. Writing this post every day helps me stay motivated, because I hate admitting I didn’t do shit yesterday. Although I can’t avoid that sometimes. But I also know this thing needs to get done. And it will only get done if I DO IT.


It only has about 200 pieces…more than 200, because I used about 5 numbers more than once. I think. So this is not a complicated quilt…I made sure of that, although it’s construction will be different in some ways, so that adds to the complexity. I’ve been thinking that part out in my head and I’m not sure I have it solved yet, but I don’t need to do anything different until I start the ironing-together process…and I’m a ways away from that step.

The thing is, I got to about piece 100 and I was so incredibly tired. My brain was tired. My feet were tired. My legs were tired. I paused and took the dogs out to pee (which with my parents’ dog here for the next three weeks is quite an endeavor…at least two of them at any one time are scared of the dark, so I escort with flashlight all the way out into the very scary yard).

And then I came back and mentally steeled myself for it. Dammit. Because I should be able to finish it in one night. The reason I get so much done is that I must have incredible will power to get through the shit part.

Tracing Wonder Under can be very meditative, but it can also be boring as hell and even annoying. Last night it was mostly boring and I was so tired. But it’s done…in a little over an hour.


All that mental drama for an hour and a bit of tracing. Now I can cut it out (probably in one night)…I do need this one done quickly. I’ve been putting it off because of the construction stuff. But I’ll just have to figure that out. The problem doesn’t go away because I don’t want to deal with it. Gee. I think I tell my students that all the time. Sheesh.

There was a lot of doggy drama last night, but eventually the old lady went off to sleep, sprawled on the floor somewhere, and these two started playing…


Wait a minute. I have a puppysitter. That might be cool. If they weren’t all so annoying about food and walks. And cats. I have one cat I haven’t seen in a day. She often hides…and it’s funny…she doesn’t mind other dogs…isn’t even scared. But she does not like Katie, my parents’ dog. So I often don’t see her when Katie is here.

Every year, I find the money to buy a SAQA auction piece…it’s how I support the organization. Plus I get some cool art. I’ve admired Bonnie Jo Smith’s very simple, graphic work for a while, so I’m really enjoying this piece…plus the idea of swimming upstream is something that appeals to me. Or maybe it IS me.


That link is being fussy, but it worked earlier. So hopefully it will work again, so you can read about the series. So now I need to get this up on the wall. And get my butt to work.

*Jem, Save Me