I Follow Where My Mind Goes*

January 20, 2017

Today I wear all black. Today is gloomy and dark and excessive water drops from the sky. Tomorrow I march for everyone that won’t or can’t. I’m pleased to see so many of my friends will be there with me, whether here in San Diego or in other cities or just in their heads.


The start of a new drawing for the next quilt. I have to think about keeping it small…although my deadlines have changed all of a sudden. I was drawing because I couldn’t get any further on the current project…

I started ironing the hair and head…


Got it all done…


Then the heads above…


In a cloud…


Then I realized I’d miscalculated how much fabric I would need for the background. This fucker is huge. So I need to go shopping after school. Which sucks because I wanted to be done last night…oh well. It’s only 20 hours of ironing so far.

I stitched more on here…the pink flowers and (hard to see…bad lighting) the anchor stitches on the herringbone.


Petting dogs makes them and you happy. Notice how he sticks his bone between the couch cushions to hold it? He’s a pretty smart puppy.


Even Kitten ventured out to see what I was doing out of the studio.


I drew after that. Needed to start the next drawing, at least some version of it. And that’s how I was feeling.

Opening today at the Erie Museum of Art is Earth Stories…this is my piece Wise Choice


This piece is about the choices Planned Parenthood provides to women around the world, mostly through the science of birth control, giving women control of their futures. There was some controversy about my picking this group in the beginning, but I would not change my mind and eventually got the support I needed to do a quilt about this group. The show opens today and continues through June 11.

On a lighter note, because I’m gonna need some of that today, here’s some of the science supplies that arrived the other day. It’s a good thing our principal doesn’t read the labels of what we’ve got in the lab…we’ll be opening a new craft beer brewery to support our science classroom costs sometime soon.


Or not.

In other news, I have two pussy hats…one from a friend (which I’m going to give away today or tomorrow to someone who needs one) and one by my mom (which I’m wearing).

Yes. I considered wearing it to school. But my principal wants to avoid WWIII. So I’m ready. Peace out.

*Psychedelic Furs, Love My Way

I Know Those Lights Still Call You*

January 19, 2017

Well. Yesterday. Yeah. At some point I went into overload. I think that was around 11 AM yesterday. And it just kept coming! At some point, you just stop dealing and start ironing instead.

First of all, I’d like to thank Betsy…whoever she is. This was in my driveway.


Her message is a little late but appreciated anyway. Whoever she is.

Boychild was stranded in Newark last night until tonight, and wasn’t sure what to do. So I sent him some options. I love trying to get this kid in and out of Ithaca. I should just buy him a car. It would be easier. Possibly cheaper.


The fun part is he’s not even flying into Ithaca tonight. He still has to get there from Syracuse. The options are limited. I can put him in another hotel or put him in a taxi. I don’t envy him these trips. Apparently grad school might be located closer to a major airport.

I emailed this to a few students. Apparently telling them to Google That Shit all the time is not something they can handle. So I did it for them.


Seriously people. I did also explain it in class. But this is the kind of thing that frustrates me. And then I realize I’m becoming easily frustrated because I’m overwhelmed or emotional or all of the above. That was yesterday.

I don’t know what’s going on here. I just started stitching flowery leafy bits.


So I gave up on all that shit, trying to get boychild home, figure out phone upgrades and phone plans, answer a multitude of emails, organize a photo shoot, figure out where to be on Saturday. And I ironed.

As far as Saturday is concerned, first of all, I used to be one of those people who stood in front of Planned Parenthood and escorted people in during the years of bombing places where women go to get health assistance. What is Saturday’s Women’s March about? Feminism? Solidarity? Reminding people that we have a voice and opinions and we’re allowed by law and morality and ethics and biology to have those? Reminding people there are a shitload of us? Standing with a bunch of women (and men and children) across the country, the world even, and having some hope for the next four years, despite the bassackwards slide I’ve seen toward women in the last ten years? Yeah. Fuck yeah. If you don’t agree, then stay home. If you agree but don’t want to march, that’s fine. I’ll do it for you. Or not. And if it looks like we’re protesting Trump’s existence and nominees, then so be it. I’m OK with that. I have the right to protest anything in this country that pisses me off and/or hurts other people. That’s why we live here…because this country gives us that right.

Pictures of hat to follow (was not that organized last night).

I started by ironing intestines. And Christmas lights. I don’t know if I can explain that, except to say that if I pull open my torso, I would hope there would be Christmas lights in there.


I ironed all the innards.


Then came the fun part. I pulled the rest of the torso off the teflon sheet and piled it up.


And then made the innards fit in that hole…with the zipper.


What’s miraculous is that it fit! No really. It’s always a crapshoot. Some quilts are better behaved than others. This one has been good so far.

Then I started the neck. I thought about starting the head, but it’s a lot of overlapping snaky hair and it was already after midnight.


More delays. That whole day job thing is cramping my style. Tonight? The head, the cloud, and hopefully down to a background.

The dogs were quiet yesterday without all their entertaining friends. When I told Simba to go to bed, he got up, crawled onto Calli’s bed, and curled up next to her. I felt really really bad making him go in the crate, but he’s awful otherwise.


He’s been much calmer since the kids have been home. He needs more people interaction. That makes me feel bad…especially since I’m going to be gone all Saturday. But I warned his other people, so hopefully they’ll come release him relatively early.

Today I go back to school, the home of those who think they are already done with yesterday’s assignment. Oh no, my chickadees. You will write a scientific claim with evidence and reasoning that includes more than made-up stuff that you thought was in the video. Because I will make you. Trust me. I am way more stubborn than you are.

*The Alarm, Spirit of ’76

Control Your Poison, Babe*

January 18, 2017

Up early. Two meetings before school even starts, then off to the district office for (cough cough useless) professional development, then BACK to school to teach the rest of the day. Meanwhile, boychild flies back to school. Damn. All the feels. Stress AND sad and all the other crap. Stress levels are way too high. Deep breathing before I deal with kids. Or parents. Or admin for that matter. Maybe should go back to bed. I was so busy ironing and trying to get to the next part last night that I forgot to go to bed early. It wouldn’t have worked anyway…I wasn’t physically tired enough to fall asleep. That part sucks.

The good part is at least it’s not raining yet. And I might get some work done at the PD this morning (we’ll see if that’s a thing). And I might finish ironing tonight. Maybe. A girl can dream.

I started on the hands…they’re pretty light in color, so it’s going to take stitching line and ink to make them stand out.


But there’s one side, with the sperm gauntlet. You know, like you do.


And then the other side, with its corresponding egg gauntlet. She’s the ultimate mom, I guess. Got all the parts. Or maybe those gauntlets are the ultimate birth control. I also ironed the skeleton in where it belonged on the left side.


All this will show up much better on a dark background for sure. I will start on the innards tonight, and then there’s the head and the cloud above it and I’m done. Ha. I’m not going to be done tonight. I wanted to be, but I did two hours last night and only really got through the 1000s and a super tiny bit of the 1100s. I’m at 16 1/2 hours…I’m guessing 3-4 more. Then stitch down. I probably won’t get to that until Sunday night, if I’m lucky, and since we’ll be underwater (stormwatch!) by then, there will be no electricity. I do live on a hill though. Maybe there’s a chance I’ll survive.

One year of stitches…second word.


I’m gonna decorate the shit outta those letters. Once I finish that goofy phrase. Originally (after a very bad day) I was going to add FUCK to the sampler, but then decided against it. Although it’s still in my head.

Calli wondering when she might be fed. She doesn’t tell time very well.


Head down. Deep breaths. The drawing voice in my head is very loud.

*Lady Gaga, Just Dance

Settle Down, It’ll All Be Clear*

January 17, 2017

I love how I always feel guilty the first work morning after a 3-day weekend where I’ve completely blown off school…OK, not completely, because I was AT school yesterday trying to get organized. I got sort of organized. But I didn’t take any science units home to grade. I didn’t even finish the warmups from last week, the easiest thing to grade. I wasn’t in the mood.

I was in the mood to iron, though. In fact, I wanted to be done yesterday, but that’s not happening. I have about a thousand pieces ironed down, which leaves about 350 or so pieces to go. That’s about 3-4 hours, plus then ironing it down to a background. So it’s gonna be a couple of days before I finish. If I’m lucky.

Honestly I didn’t start yesterday until after 8:30 PM…again, too many things to do. And it doesn’t look like I got much done…I ironed this to go on the skull…


And then put it on the skull. I also added another scapula piece underneath the right side of the ribs, because it looked weird before without it.


Those little figures took a good long while to put together…lots of overlaps.


And then the rest of the lower torso, minus the zippered part.


I stopped there because it was after midnight. Tonight, I’ll have to figure out how to attach the skeleton to this…and decide if I’m adding the stove now or later. Probably later…this thing will get pretty unwieldy and heavy if I have the whole ironed-together piece hanging off the ironing board.

I realized the boychild was leaving soon (my yard/house helper). I’d already had him help me with the Christmas stuff, putting it away, but we still had one more rain barrel to install. As he said, unless I wanted it to sit there for six months. There’s too many things around the house that take two people to do. So even though it was getting dark, we went out there with the dogs and installed it (it was easier than the first one)…


Simba was happy to play in the succulents. No, I don’t know what’s on his face, but it didn’t come off easily.


At least that is done. It’s the only yard thing I really accomplished over break.

So for 1 year of stitches, I did the one word (there are more to come) in stem stitch but didn’t love it.


I don’t tear stuff out. I went back and whipped it, whipped it good. It looks much better.


Remember that for lettering…it’s better as a whipped stem stitch. Just holds together better. Now you can guess what the rest of the words might be. This might be a test of how well you know me.

OK, lots of work and art to be happening in the next week. Lots of time sucks as well. And if you’re in San Diego, maybe you got that breaking news alert: 6 straight days of rain! Oh my. After living in the UK for a year (300 straight days of rain!), I am amused. Although honestly, everything is so saturated, it’s mostly going to be runoff…into my rain barrels! I probably need 10 or 12 more to catch all of it…seriously, it looks like 3-4 inches, which sometimes is our annual rainfall.

Anyway. I have that to look forward to…but today? Sunny and pleasant. Enjoying that while I can. Not really, since I’m in a classroom all day. I love that finding a balance between my personal life and my job is like a protest. Something to keep in mind.

*Phillip Phillips, Home

‘Cause She’s Gone, Gone, Gone, Gone, Gone…*

January 16, 2017

I didn’t start ironing until late…after 8 PM. But I still did almost 4 hours last night…they were almost 4 very slow hours, though…lots of small fussy pieces. I started with this crazy peach/hand tree…


It’s hard to see the hands because the teflon sheet I’m ironing on is white…the background will be a darker blue, though, so it will be clear.

Puppies who will miss all the kids around…


And then I started on the skeleton…more tiny fussy pieces. Again, this will be on a darker background…


The skeleton took a good long time to put together. It also has about 150 pieces in it.


I accidentally touched the side of the iron…more than once, actually. This is the worst of the burns.


Whoops. You should see my scissors callous.

Now looking at this picture, I think the right side needs a scapula…just a little bit of it under her armpit. Damn. OK. I’ll figure that out later today. I have to go to school and feed a cat and do a bunch of other shit.


Then I can add a scapula.

I didn’t do yesterday’s one stitch until this morning while I was waiting for the cheese to melt. It’s the stars at the bottom. I had to move the hoop again. I’m going to need to find my spring hoops. They’re in the house somewhere.


Worst part about yesterday was taking girlchild to the airport. That is her luggage at the top of the stairs. I thought she was following me, but she went back inside to hug the dogs again.


These guys. Who miss her too.


Can’t think too much about the part where I’m living alone again. At least I’ll know where the scissors are. And who got that dish dirty. The rest of it just sucks.

*John Mayer, Dreaming with a Broken Heart

Don’t Matter What I Do*

January 15, 2017

I’m sitting here in my office/studio watching leaves drop from the trees outside my window. I think they’re Ash trees, maybe Green Ash. It doesn’t really matter, though. They are still dropping leaves for fall or winter, yet there are new buds and leaves popping out all over. My previous neighbor thought they were dead every winter, but they are in fact deciduous. And today they are confused. Southern California weather does that to trees. Any water and the slightest bit of sun and warmth and new growth pops out everywhere. And then we’re back to 40 degrees at night and they’re confuzzled.

I suspect I will have to leave before I finish writing this, and in fact, I might not finish until this afternoon. It’s a busy day in the car. I have to drop the girlchild at the airport…she’s going back to school. Then visit a cat left home by himself. I should probably feed and pet him as well. Then lunch out to discuss a show I’m working on with other people. (Do I have a drawing for that yet? No I do not. It is third in line.) Then groceries and I don’t know what. I have a list of things I need the boychild to help me with before he leaves, so I don’t have to be the lifter on everything. Plus grades. Plus ironing.

Yesterday though I think I did mostly ironing. Over 7 hours of it, to be specific. It was nice…my mood’s been low, so it was good to let art brain have time to just do its thing. It’s meditation. It’s calming. It’s productive. These are all good things.

So sometimes I trim pieces in other places, like Barnes and Noble’s Starbucks or people’s houses or cars. These two pieces were in a house and were delivered to me Friday…good thing, because I’ll need them today probably.


Kitten is eyeing the pieces. She likes to try to sneak over and sit on them, and then the little ones get caught in her butt fur and I lose them that way. She mostly listens when I tell her not to do that, but if I’m leaving them for more than about 5 minutes, I always cover them with the other boxes of pieces. Sometimes she sits in those too, though, so it’s kind of a crapshoot whether I’ll find all the pieces I originally had.


The whole bottom third of the quilt (or so) is a stove. I was going to write that I’d never put a stove in a quilt before, but that’s not true. It’s been a long time though. No Domestic Tranquility from 2004…


That was a much simpler stove…


Most of my quilts were much simpler in those days. I’m not sure what that green thing on the right side is. Maybe it’s corn? Who knows.

So I put a death angel from a gravestone in my stove door…like you do. I’m sure it has a better name than that…in fact, I looked it up at one point, but maybe it was winged skull. That’s pretty descriptive. Anyway. If anyone completely ignores my non-burial instructions, maybe I’ll get one of those (I’d really rather not be buried personally…waste of good land).


My stove has feminist slogans on it. Doesn’t yours? They’re subtle, but they’ll be less so when I outline everything in a dark thread.


Then I took a break and went to an art event that was supposed to be focused on women (and it mostly was)…a mural by Panca.


I watched her paint for a bit, but I think she was mostly done at this point. There were three other muralists painting, but two were men (so much for the Femme Fest part of it…although who knows). These two were already done, either earlier in the day or at a previous event.


The yard was pretty muddy…but I like watching street artists paint anyway.

I came back to this. No, it’s not on.


But it was soon after…


I took a break in the middle to do my one stitch of the day, which was the yellow of the herringbone and the french knots in the blue flowers. I do it more by the length of thread…finish it.


So I guess I’m really doing one thread a day.

Then I went back to ironing…


Stove tops…are a little more complicated.


I did over 7 hours of ironing yesterday…


I’ll be lucky to get 3 or 4 hours in today unfortunately. Oh well. It’s a good start. You can see the cat-shaped space in there. It was easier to iron it separately and then put it on top as a whole piece.


So there’s the stove top done. I have one more side of it…


Which I didn’t start last night because it was already 1 AM and I knew I had to get up to drive the girlchild to the airport. I got into the 500s though. So that was good for one day. I’d really like the whole thing ironed by the end of the long weekend, but I don’t know if I can pull that off. We’ll see.

And the girlchild’s plane just took off. So there we are.

*The Style Council, Long Hot Summer

You Scream You Learn*

January 13, 2017

Oh holy heck this is a morning. Rained hard most of the night, disturbing my sleep. I know some people find that noise helps them sleep, that drip drip drip pounding away of water above my head. I wasn’t put on this Earth to sleep apparently. And we need the rain. Even though it seems our annual rainfall is all happening in one week. We haven’t hit our average annual rainfall yet, nowhere close. Not even as much as last year. But day after day of drippy wet feet and spotted glasses and damp clothes starts to wear on a Southern Californian. Or as every teacher recognizes, the squeaky tennis shoes on the linoleum floor…oh, well, only the science teachers at my school, because the other classes have carpet. So yeah. I will write a referral if you are purposely doing that screech with your shoe on my floor…you don’t deserve to stay here if you are that guy (it is always a guy. Seriously.).

Yeah, I’m tired. First week always kicks ass. And my co-teacher is still on her honeymoon, so that makes it harder…although I’ve apparently survived it. Hopefully she’ll come back. And then both kids are leaving in the next week. Which makes me sad, but some things will be good…fewer dishes. Holy crap, the dishes are kicking my butt…and yes, they help, well, mostly…but it’s still more work. And there’s some drama I could do without. Because I don’t get enough of that at school. Really. I had to have a real-life discussion with a relatively high-level student about why it’s not OK to copy other people’s words. Why it’s important to engage your own brain with the material. “Why do they put it on the internet if they don’t want people to copy it?” Not a bad question, but you have to wonder how she got to age 12 and doesn’t have a better idea of copyright. Because yes, I teach science…but I also teach behavior and grammar and spelling and copyright and politics and history and compromise and how to get along with other people without being dickheads all the time. This week has been a lot of the latter.

There’s a 3-day weekend ahead though. It’s not an ideal 3-day weekend for a variety of reasons. Emotional. Sure. And a little too busy. But doable.

And most importantly, I’m finally on to the next stage of the quilt…I finished cutting pretty damn quickly, only another 30 minutes. So that’s what 19 hours of cutting pieces out looks like…


Not much, honestly.

I hold on to the trash until I know I have all the pieces, because if I’m going to lose a piece, it’s usually a tiny one, and sometimes I can cut it out of the trash pieces.

Then I sorted…it was not an easy thing to do after standing all day. I sort by 100s. It’s easier to deal with 100 pieces at a time rather than 1300.


An hour and 38 minutes later (ugh)…there they all are…


Ready to be ironed together into a quilt…probably will take about 20 hours for that. Although it took a lot longer to cut them out than I thought it would. So we’ll see. There’s a lot of little pieces, apparently.

I had both cats with me…


Kitten is trying to simultaneously sleep and watch me. It didn’t work. She slept. When the dogs are gone, I do get both cats. With the dogs, Kitten is less likely to venture out, unfortunately. I try to give her safe spaces on the couch and the desk, so sometimes that works…

I did my year of stitches thing while on the phone with my SIL…outlining with stem stitch (which is a pain around curves) around that blob of flowery things.


I haven’t been able to keep up the daily meditation…I often remember just as I’m about to fall asleep. Last night, I did remember, and I turned it on and fell asleep until the very end. That should tell me something, I guess. Hopefully my unconscious brain was doing a good job.

I need to go to school. I’d like some sun tomorrow. Or at least sometime this weekend. I’d like some peace and quiet. I’d like some conversation with my kids before they leave. I’d like to get some clean up dealt with. I’d like to get this quilt ironed together. I think that’s enough for one 3-day weekend.

*Alanis Morissette, You Learn