Finally Color!

Well the studio is straightened. It’s not clean. It’s really never clean like most people think of clean. There’s just too much stuff in there for it ever to be clean. Most summers I do try to straighten up more than the ‘between-quilt’ straightening, where I just put fabric away and sometimes sweep the floor. I didn’t do that this summer. There’s still papers everywhere (sigh) and general chaos on the floor. It’s just overwhelming to deal with all of it. I’ve got some electrical and sprinkler issues I’m trying to get done before school starts. Those are my priorities. That and a chiropractor. I haven’t been since March 2020. Ugh. But I did put all the fabric away, got most of the cat fur off the blue drawer she’s been sleeping in all summer, cleared off the white table, and swept the floor. So it’s ready for the next quilt.

I finished cutting everything out by cutting all day Monday…I started with the 3 hours of training videos we have to do for school…

So I got through those, and then had a little bit left to cut out (and yes, I still know all the things about pest management, sexual harassment, mandated reporter, and bloodborne pathogens…the trainings don’t change a lot every year)…so I started watching all the Quilt National Artist videos. I got through 16 out of 55.

Cutting everything out took 10 1/2 hours. Then I sorted for another 45 minutes…

They’re in boxes by the 100s…

It makes it easier for me to find things. I lay out 100 pieces at a time and iron those to fabrics…although I say that, and last night, I was already bouncing between the first 100 and the second 100 pieces to find the ones I needed. Because this quilt is nuts…

Overlapping this and that which has to be a different color but only a little different. I hope it looks OK when it’s done. We’ll see.

I didn’t get very far last night…mostly I was cleaning. But it’s a step in the right direction. Remember, I need to be done (hopefully) ironing to fabric by next Tuesday. Actually Monday, so I can pull all the stuff out of the closet. Yikes. That sounds challenging, looking at my week. Sigh. Well. I will have to be more productive in the heat than I have been.

I drew for my Patreon…will be scanning it this morning and getting it posted.

It’s the last Patreon drawing I’m doing. You can still sign up, but it’s reward free! I had a request for a way to just subscribe and not expect anything, so I’ll try to set that up and close down the other tiers.

A bug was on the drawing and I tried to shoo it away and killed it by accident. So it smeared itself across the drawing.

Bugs just suck.

I put a couple things on Etsy the other day, these two hoops…

I have other things that need to go on there…these small pieces just need hanging hoops on them…

And better pictures…these are really dark…

Also, I got into some shows…Earth Matters at the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji, Minnesota, from September 3-October 30. This is Damaging Earth’s Fabric

And then one of my older pieces got into SAQA’s Intersect Chicago booth, which will be open November 4-7. This is Part-Time Oasis

All good news. I had a run of rejections, which is always frustrating. But that seems to happen and then I get into things, and it’s all good. So hopefully that will continue. I will be putting the three newest pieces into the gallery next, and then maybe remembering to update the exhibitions sections. Yeah. I should do that. Uh huh.

OK, I’ve still got errands today, but hoping to do a chunk of ironing as well. It’s still hot here, and the studio has not been getting any breeze. Ugh. This is the time of year when I consider moving the ironing stages into the swimming pool, although the combination of electric iron and water is probably not a good thing. Sigh. Not gonna think about school for a while. Although there are things that need planning. I’m just not ready for them. At some point that won’t matter, but for today, I’m going to try to ignore them and iron away!

Never Ready

This is my last full week of Summer Break. We go back next week. Never ready. I’m not ready to teach…our site hasn’t even picked a schedule yet for next year. We get that Friday. We can’t plan without a schedule, although I’m guessing which one I think will pass the vote (shorter periods…all the others are over 106 minutes per class, which is just crazy cuckoo). I’m not ready to be in an enclosed space with multiple people for a long period of time. I haven’t done that AT ALL in 18 months or so. Well, except the gym. But even that’s not all day. Doors open, windows open. I’ll get used to it. The block schedule also screws up my blood sugar until I get a routine going. Four hours with no bathroom and no food break…welcome to our world. Last year was easier…I could get to the bathroom in my house in a really short period of time. Not so much at school. Plus getting kids out of the classroom on Zoom is a single button click, which is much easier than in real life. Then thinking about art supply storage and how to move materials between science and art classes. That’s complicated.

Adjustments to life are gonna happen. I’m hoping that planning is easier than last year. Certainly my co-teacher and I can do the same things again, and I don’t have to make everything digital access. I think. With quarantines still happening, the district hasn’t really told us their solution for how to get those kids curriculum. I think they believe the science curriculum is an easy digital source, but it’s not. So much supplementation and creation of assignments had to happen last year. We’ll see how that rolls, but local schools have quarantined kids on the third day of school, so it’s not like we can wait a while to figure that plan out.

That said, this week is NOT school. I do need to think about some of it, but hopefully more art time than school time will be happening. I have an electrician coming next Tuesday to do a bunch of things I’ve put off for months, nay, years in some cases. One of them may involve attic access, which is in my office/studio. In the closet. Which is filled with fabric. To get access, I have to remove half the fabric and one of the shelves so they can even get up there. So that needs to happen before next Tuesday. I’m currently trimming Wonder Under. The next step is to iron all the Wonder Under to fabric. It would be much easier to have everything done and ironed before the electrician comes. See? Now I have a deadline. It’s totally arbitrary and I could adjust, but this is the one I’m following right now.

I started cutting out on Friday during the Quilt National talk, and then finished a second yard that night…then cut another yard out on Saturday night…

It doesn’t look much different. Sunday’s yard was one of the most complicated ones. It had all the trees in it, so fussy pointy pieces.

So that’s what four yards of trimmed Wonder Under looks like. I have two to go. Today. I have a talk I’m listening to this morning, and hopefully can start cutting the easier yard; then I’m going to try to get the other yard done before nighttime, so I can sort tonight and maybe clean the studio today as well. We’ll see how that goes. It’s been hot, and that often sucks energy away from doing the things. But I have a plan and that helps. I’ve been cutting for about 7 1/2 hours so far, but some yards are more time-intensive than others. I’m assuming 3-4 hours of cutting today.

The girlchild was home for about 10 days, but working every day. As always, she brings home clothes that need fixing. This one was a bit of a pain…needed darts and had a lining and all that.

But it turned out well. I hope. The others were slightly less time-consuming. Certainly she should learn how to hem her pants when she rips out the hems. She left last night on a red-eye for home…

Boston at 3:30 AM our time. Yes, I was awake. I don’t know why.

I volunteered again for the Social Justice Sewing Academy embroidery, and got this block on Friday…

I volunteered in June 2020, so it took a while to get to me…there are some embroidery suggestions provided by the artist as well. So I’ll get started on that once I have all the Wonder Under cut out. Emily Lang made this block, and says “My block is about Ableism, how society seems to attach value and love only to health, thinness, and ability.”

I also got the Olga Norris quilt finally. Her husband was kind enough to mail it to me from the UK, and we watched it wander all over the US before it got to me.

It’s beautiful work…I need to decide where (and how) to hang it. I have a couple of pieces that need homes on the walls.

We walked on Friday, not too far, just a couple of miles. Still aiming for flat.

It was hot and muggy. Walking is hard in this weather.

Calli is hanging in there. She still wants to chew on pinecones that she drops in the pool.

She needs a little help with it. But it’s hot, so the pool is probably good for her.

So I have a plan that might get thrown by the weather, but hopefully it will work. I won’t think about school. I lie. We have three hours of training videos (bloodborne pathogens, pest management, sexual harassment, mandated reporter, etc.) that have to be done before the end of September. I always try to get them done before school starts. I’ve done the three shorter ones so far today. I can do them while doing other things, luckily. Annoying to do them every year, but whatever. Looks like I need to go down to Visions Art Museum too and see the exhibits there. I’ll add that to the list…along with fixing the sprinklers. Maybe I’ll think about making a syllabus after that…surely that won’t take long. Ha! Art. Make the art.

Cat Interference…

Woke up early, not enough sleep, not enough caffeine, did the Quilt National talk, forgot my headphones keep the sound from showing up from my video, oh well, answered questions…

Photo stolen from the QN Instagram. I’ve actually watched all but one of these. I find them fascinating. You can see all of them (they haven’t uploaded this morning’s yet) and all the artist videos for this year on the Dairy Barn YouTube channel. Also, if you want to see my studio tour with sound (because that was missing this morning), you can see it here.

I know. As a teacher, I should remember how this shit works, but my brain was not awake. So there.

I spent the time cutting out Wonder Under, because I find it easier to listen carefully when I am doing something with my hands…

Which, yes, means I finished tracing last night.

So many cat interactions on this…

It took quite a long time to trace, longer than normal.

More complicated pieces than normal? Maybe. Also maybe that I had to think extra hard about overlaps.

I could just blame the cats. They were in the way.

18 hours and about 6 yards. Now I just need to cut them all out.

Yesterday, the man and I did a little driving reconnaissance for some possible training hikes.

Water is an issue. But he has more physical therapy in store and hopefully will be back on the trail in a few weeks or so.

This lizard…I think he’s the one I follow up the steps sometimes.

He jumps up the steps in front of me like he’s showing me the way.

Anyway. The day is half over, because of the talk and the car had to go in and a bunch of school stuff happened (that gave me a headache) and then lunch and I had to record a video for another art group I’m in and it only took about 17 tries to get the words right. I’m tired because I got up too early, but will be walking later. And cutting out lots of Wonder Under. And hopefully crossing some stuff off the to-do list because it’s insanely long at the moment. Stupid long. Maybe nap. Nap sounds nice. I tried it yesterday but cats interfered. Ugh. Ah well. Whatever happens, art will be involved.

Self-Care…

I had a wondrous massage this morning. I feel like the next time my school district says anything about self-care, I’m sending them a bill for massage. I mean, y’all need to put your money where your mouth is. You want me to be more chill and relaxed about the crazy shit y’all throwing at me? Give me a massage every week. We might be able to talk after that. Also, less crazy shit. That would be good. Yes, the school nightmares have begun. I am trying to hold them off until next week, but I need to do a related Zoom today or tomorrow, and there are tons of questions already, so that doesn’t help. I did order all my folders for the year (or at least the first half of the year), so that’s done…plus pens. What teacher doesn’t like pens? Especially fun-colored pens. Yo, district! Buy us nice pens. And make them fun, not just the damn district logo. And those massages. I’m not kidding about those.

Yeah. It’s too bad the people in charge don’t listen to us flunkies.

In preparation for school fucking up my art life again, I’m trying to get this quilt into a good place. Whatever that means. I’ve been tracing every night. It’s harder during daytime…hot…and I am more tired during the day strangely.

They’re LED lights in the light table, luckily, so they don’t put out any extra heat, hallelujah. I bought LEDs for my office/studio, but still need to install them. I hate installing things. Kitten is not really helping here…with tracing or installing.

I’m almost to the 700s, so about 350 pieces to go. Not bad. I’m hoping to be done tracing by the weekend. I’m up into the mountains right now…the trees were really complicated and difficult to trace. I’ve found about 6 pieces I didn’t number so far. I just add ‘a’ to the number if I need to number new ones.

This part is pretty boring to watch or read about, but it’s really nice and meditative for me. I put some show on that I don’t really need to watch and just stand and trace for a couple of hours.

Kitten, as you can see, is helpful wherever I am.

Maybe I should dust my keyboard. She puts her head on the right side, so it’s not dusty there.

I’ve been doing a bunch of computer work lately…for two art groups that have regular posts, one daily on Instagram, which I was able to schedule out until mid-August, and one weekly on Facebook, which is dependent on people sending me info. I check it once a week, and usually it’s an easy setup using Business Suite, but these two were complicated. Ah humans. You complicate things. Plus I’m making a video and a slide presentation for my Quilt National talk this Friday. Taking more time than it should…as always.

I am trying to get back on a regular exercise schedule. The last few weeks have been wonky with travel and visiting folks, but yesterday, I did my normal 3.6-mile neighborhood walk.

There’s always something new to look at…

Mountains in the distance. Yeah, it’s warm here, but not as warm as it will be in a month. Get the hikes in before it’s awful. Gym, pilates, hike, repeat.

The man finally has gotten in to physical therapy and it sounds positive. He’s hoping to get back on the trail in the near future, so life will all be up in the air again, as usual, honestly. School starts in a couple weeks, man will be on trail, blah blah blah. You can see how my art is the constant calm through all of this. It’s night time? What stage of the process are you on? Go do some of it. Spend an hour tracing or cutting or ironing or quilting. It’s a good thing. It gives me a good end to any kind of day (unless the machine is being a big weenie). No I don’t have my machine back…I’m borrowing my mom’s to fix the girlchild’s clothes…I don’t think I can quilt with it. Let’s hope I have mine back before that’s an issue.

OK. Today is more than half over…I’m going to work some more on the stuff for Quilt National, then trace, then pilates, then trace some more. Looking forward to it.

Zen and Chill…

So I’m late writing again. Mondays are just not a thing I do well. I get all tied up in stuff that needs doing and all of a sudden it’s 5 PM and I forgot to eat lunch. OK, I remembered lunch today. I think I’m cooking dinner too, so that ought to be interesting. The plus is that I have new glasses. I mailed a Patreon reward out. I walked to Home Depot and blindly (no glasses) picked out a towel rack. My right eyelid is twitching…this is not a thing it normally does in August. This is an end-of-school-year thing. Sigh.

We got the first official school email. We have to do block schedule (ugh. sigh. I like it for art, but sometimes for science, it limits the number of things I can cover in a week). We won’t know exactly what schedule until about a week before school starts. Fun stuff. No master schedule yet…we think we know what we’re teaching, mostly. It could change. I’m trying to be all zen and chill about it. The eye twitch is probably an indicator that some part of me is not so zen and chill. That part needs to pivot.

Anyway, to remedy all that, I’m working on art stuff. As always. I thought I had finished drawing the current piece, but in the end, added COVID into the sky. It’s not gone.

Putting it in her gut makes sense to me. And then I started tracing…

It’s pretty slow going. There are lots of weirdly overlapping pieces, because the two female figures are blending in. So I have to think before I trace about what goes over or under what’s next to it.

Still, it’s meditative. I’m almost 8 hours in, but I’m only in the 400s.

Big complicated pieces take longer to trace. I’ll hit halfway tonight, I think.

Cats are no help. And the man sits on the couch behind the light table and I keep whacking him in the head with the drawing.

Not on purpose. We did a short walk on Friday. His knee was not happy.

Sigh. Frustrating for him, I know. He has one physical therapy session this week. Maybe they can help.

So many cats getting in the way.

Luna was going to grab Kitten’s tail, but I think she rethought that action.

Here’s Kitten lying in the lid of my embroidery box. So helpful.

Well, normally I use this as a place to figure out what I’m doing today, but today is almost over and I’m still slogging through the to-do list. I was supposed to finish a video for my Patreon yesterday and the website was down, so that still needs to happen. I would like to trace for another couple of hours or so. I did go to the gym today, so that was good. I think a fresh cup of tea and maybe a small snack is what I need, and then check the to-do list and cross some shit off of it (always a fun thing to do), and then get that damn video done. Then I can do art things. I can’t think about school right now (someone should tell my brain that part). We won’t know what block schedule we’ll have until August 6. We go back the 12th. Kids the 17th. I’d like to thank the universe for making us PIVOT again. At the last minute. Still gonna be doing that all year, I see. More art to be made in response.

That Night Thing…

Hey so apparently I drew something really big and sort of complicated but relatively quickly. Especially considering I don’t seem to be able to do much during the day. It’s hot and/or humid and I don’t feel very artistic until it’s dark apparently. There’s about 7 1/2 hours in this drawing…

Which is actually pretty fast, compared to some of the big quilts.

I spend a lot of time staring at the blank spaces.

I darkened some of the lines just so I could see where the trail was and where the human bodies were. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of lines.

Sometimes I need a photo for drawing assistance. I photographed my hand, drew it, then flipped the photo to draw the other hand.

So there’s another figure in the sky.

The girlchild came in before I did the sky and was surprised that I was using pencil. She apparently tells all her friends I draw with Sharpie and no pencil. That is mostly true, but sometimes I use pencil first…especially on a really big piece like this. I moved the figure in the sky three times. But also, I often ignore the pencil lines. The sun got a massive redraw in ink, but the hands didn’t. So there’s that. All the mountains were freehand with pen. The hiker was penciled in.

I finished drawing last night and started numbering.

So having the figures fade into the landscape means more pieces where that happens. Of course. Some crazy pieces too. But OK. I got about 500 pieces into the numbering last night. I’ll finish up today…

I try to be logical, but it’s not always possible. The tree is numbered, but the stuff behind isn’t. I think with this piece, I’m trying not to MISS any of the pieces. I’m sure I will though, because it’s complicated with all the overlaps. I suspect I’ll hit 1500 pieces. You’ll know with the next post. I did take a picture of the whole thing, but it was dark (that night thing), so it was blurry…I’ll try again in daylight.

I get friends visiting…

And the girlchild is here, so the work setup is there on the desk. I’ll be there next Friday for my Quilt National talk. If you’re interested, go here to register to get the link. The talk is at 11 AM Eastern, and I’ll be with three other QN artists, so that will be interesting. I’ll need to make some slides for this thing I think. So that’s on the list for next week.

My machine is in the shop, but I have my old one…unfortunately, it has some major issues. It can handle a straight line for about an inch and a half before I have to shut it down and reset it.

That far. That’s how far I can go. Yeah, I needed to piece a house for the Sue Spargo June blocks. Kind of frustrating. Luckily, the current quilt is at a stage where I don’t need a machine. Hopefully I’ll have the machine back by the time I need it. A small piece of black plastic fell out when I was doing this. That seems problematic. I’ll take this one in after the other one comes back.

So today I will finish numbering and hopefully start tracing it onto Wonder Under. I also need to draw a smaller piece for a Patreon reward, the last one I’m doing. I’m shutting the Patreon down…putting payment on pause for August, and then closing it down completely in September. It was an interesting experiment, but I’m done with it mentally. It’s time. But I want to do the last rewards for those who have been with me.

It’s nice to have a big quilt to focus on instead of school or worrying about smaller pieces. I don’t want to think about school or COVID right now (although now I need to add a virion to the quilt, dammit, because it didn’t happen without some COVID stress). I’ll go do that after I finish this cup of tea and take a shower, I think. More art this week. Busy weekend with lots of meetings…although I may miss one or two just due to timing. Ah well. More socializing is happening. That’s good.

Fading Into the Landscape

Well I missed blogging yesterday. Not sure why. It was a Monday. Mondays mess with my mind even when I’m not even sure that it IS Monday. Blogging schedule is sort of half-assed right now. I slept like crap last night too…heat? sore? brain on fire? Not sure. I’m currently sitting through another 2-hour diabetes webinar. The last one was mostly unhelpful…all stuff I knew. This one might help more, but honestly, it’s more a pathway to the nurses so I don’t have to make appointments to talk to them that take three or more weeks to get. Frustrating process. All this because my numbers don’t make sense. Ah well. At least I am doing something about it.

So I’m tired…this is when the to-do list helps. I can just look at it and pick the things my brain can handle. Later, I’m going to the gym…it’s air-conditioned and I can read for part of it. I’m still on Summer break for a few more weeks. I need a routine I guess.

So Saturday, we went to a local art show. It was OK. Nothing really reached out and slapped me hard, so there’s that, but we also did some walking in the area.

Not a ton…

then stopped to hang out for a while…

We wanted to sit in the sculpture garden, but there was a private event, so no go. Damn those private events.

And then we tried a new restaurant for dinner.

Trying to find a routine for Saturdays again. The man can’t hike, but I can. This makes stuff complicated.

I have to admit to having two days of feeling tired and braindead, maybe a reaction to being out of town?

I did finish all the stitchdown on the May Homegrown Sue Spargo blocks…

I just keep doing these. They are brainless. Because I finished all those other quilts, I need to start something new, and while I’m getting to the brain state that allows that, it’s easier to just stitch stuff down like this. I also traced all the pieces for the June blocks, so today I’ll iron them to fabrics and keep doing the simple stuff.

Although eventually, Sunday night, I managed to cut a big piece of paper and process something that’s been in my head for a few months. Usually I draw in the sketchbook and then enlarge it, but for some, it’s just easier to start at full size on a big piece of paper.

I did start with a pencil sketch this time, just to put things in the right place. For the hiking man, I used a couple of photos I took while he was hiking away from me.

Inking is the next step. Last night, I couldn’t get my head into the next part of the drawing. It might not have helped that Nova was sitting on it.

But eventually she left and everyone left the room and I started to draw out what I had sketched.

I spend a lot of time staring at the drawing, at the blank spaces, during this stage. What’s weird about the drawing stage is that everything has the same weight…it’s just black lines and no color, so in just looking at the drawing, you can’t see what’s in my head. That’s where the female figure is fading into the landscape…in my head. That won’t show up for y’all until I start ironing it to fabrics. So yeah, the figure will fade into the background. Hopefully. If I manage the color well. It’s all colored in my head. Sort of.

Luna has been having some paranoia issues…

Not even sure what she’s staring at.

Kitten just wants to be close to us.

Lots of pets. Lots of squawking. We left for 2 1/2 days. How dare we.

I finally went back to the bird quilt…I got the borders on months ago with all the flowers, but I hadn’t done the embellishment. I finally started last night.

It was just overwhelming at the time. I needed something simpler. There are I think four of every flower, for a total of 24 of the damn things. It’s gonna be a while before I finish this thing, but my stitching group is starting to meet in person again, so this is a good one to take with me to that. Am I nervous about meeting in person? Yeah, a little. My friends are vaccinated, but we meet in a Barnes & Noble and I haven’t spent much time sitting inside anywhere. I figure I can stay masked if I feel weird about it. And maybe I’ll finish this thing.

This reminded me of the few years we had of flat-earthers in class…

Amusing. There’s always some wacky science misconceptions we deal with in class. Well, wacky makes it sound like something that doesn’t really matter, but since a lot of what kids come into class with comes from (1) family or (2) the internet, and we’re trying to teach them to think critically, it’s probably more important that we teach thinking skills than anything else. Maybe if we start every unit with all the misconception memes for that content that we can find…like a pretest? It’s an idea.

OK. Well if I’ve gotten anything from this webinar, it’s that I need to start tracking everything again and maybe even more than I was. I had to drop some balls during COVID teaching, and the diet app lost out to the meditation app. It’s time to go back. Teachers do their reflection over the summer and so we often set annual goals then instead of that New Year’s resolution in January. Back to monitoring…that’s mine. For now. Might be more resolutions later. I’m debating not tutoring this year. It drives me nuts. I’ll probably cave on this one though. Best for kids and all.

Otherwise, today is about doing some yardwork, cleaning the girlchild’s room (because she’s showing up tonight and probably wants clean bedding and maybe my shit off her bed), working on that drawing, and I don’t remember what else. Finish reading my book. School is coming for me. I can feel it. OK, the constant emails and texts from the district and the union are not helping my vacation mind frame, but some exercise will hopefully help with that. When it’s hot, that’s hard. I just need to get off my ass and do it. That’s true for everything, yeah? Get off the ass and do it.

If I Can’t Have You…

I just spent some time in Los Angeles. Why? Well because it was the man’s birthday and usually we go hiking or camping or somewhere in nature, or maybe on walking food-and-drink tours or winery hopping or something like that, but with the Delta variant wandering around and his knee still on rest, I needed to be somewhat creative. So we booked a hotel in Little Tokyo, within walking distance of a bunch of stuff, including some breweries and art museums and a shit ton of ramen (unfortunately, the man is not a ramen fan).

We drove up and stopped at Left Coast Brewing in Irvine…

We had some food and drink. I went to college in Irvine and the men in blue business shirts still frighten me.

After we checked in, we checked out (ha!) two local breweries, Mumford Brewing…

And the Arts District Brewery…

Food was a little more complicated…we ended up back at the Arts District Brewery for food. Eh.

The Arts District area has a variety of restaurants…we just weren’t sold on anything. Well, except Salt and Straw (ice cream), which we had the next night. Not everything is fully open yet either. Although ramen. I could have had a lot of ramen. It’s OK.

We walked around the area a bit…lots of murals. And this neon artist, Lili Lakich

She likes the neon. And her work looks fun…

Our hotel was fine…

Clean and relatively quiet, considering the location. Good views of the haze that is LA. I should clarify that I grew up in LA County and that haze has been around for a LOOONG time.

The next morning, we eventually got up (no cats to stand on us) and headed out for breakfast. This mural is by Bunnie Reiss, who I follow on Instagram.

First time I’ve seen one of her pieces in person…very cool.

We aimed for Grand Central Food Hall, to try out Eggslut.

It was OK. I know. Both my kids think I’m crazy, but it was just OK. Better than McD’s or Starbucks, yes. $10 better? Eh. That juice, by the way…sometimes when they say “triple ginger”, I’m like yah, sure, and it really isn’t that gingery. This was. Totally. More ginger than I’ve ever had. Overpoweringly gingery. ALL the gingers. Not from Eggslut though…juice place across from it in the Food Hall.

So then we had to decide what to do with the rest of our day. It was warm, we were warm, we were kinda tired, the man is sad about his knee, all the things. So we went to The Last Bookstore

It was also OK. I wasn’t really in the mood to shop. I don’t need to OWN more books. I’d like to read more though. There were some interesting art and shops upstairs. Worth a look.

And more murals.

We headed back to Grand Central for a drink (chai for me, beer for the man from a brewing company he recognized) before booking free tickets at MOCA and The Broad (don’t pronounce it wrong…if you’re not from LA, you might not know. OK, I didn’t know.). Some contemporary art? Sure. Especially in air conditioning. Plus things to look at.

Ah ha ha. SEE what I did there? Yeah. I know. Corny. Diet Piece: Moral Kinship, by Samara Golden.

I saw many cool things there. An Asawa. Never seen one in person.

Part of Cromosaturacion by Carlos Cruz-Diez. Green makes your hands look really weird.

Oh yeah, here’s the drawing I did in all the breweries the day before…

And then waiting for The Broad appointed time, we sat in a grove of 100-year-old olive trees and I drew one of them…

Yeah, no leaves. I didn’t get to those.

The Broad was great. I really enjoyed it.

I think the man is not as into contemporary art as I am. Gotta love some Jeff Koons.

There was some Kara Walker, which I’d never seen in person…

Oh man. Amazing stuff.

Just a fun museum.

We asked the staff about these lumps and they didn’t know what they were called and whether they were by an artist or the architects, just that they were watered daily, and yes, dogs pee on them and kids climb on them. Turns out they are called eruptions and they are part of the architectural design.

Even the crosswalks are artsy…

We walked past the Walt Disney center…

It was hotter on that block.

Cool flower…very few plantings in downtown LA. Probably what makes it feel hotter than it is. Plus lots of buildings.

Lots of street art though. I do love me some street art.

That night, we tried Angel City Brewery, which had been closed the day before.

They have a nice outdoor space. We ate there too, but eh. Basically food for three days: Eh. The ice cream at Salt and Straw was amazing. Everything else was eh. Even the chai. Ah well. I should ask the man about the beer. He did not wax poetic. That said, we got out of town and did some things. So that is always worth it. Although one of the things we did was watch Saturday Night Fever (my god, was it always that sexist?) and the sequel (you didn’t even KNOW there was a sequel…feel free to skip it) and something else. And there was air conditioning, which there isn’t here. So that’s good.

And lots of street art and mural. All good.

And then we drove home on Friday through crappy traffic that could have been worse. I finished the binding on the third quilt in the hotel and delivered them all to the photographer this morning. Oh yeah, I drew at Angel City…

I liked the wings on that heart mural.

And then this morning, I found out why all my clean laundry has cat hair on it.

Not really a shocker, but she hasn’t been a laundry basket sleeper before. Much. Ah well. A sign that I should put my clothes away.

Today is quickly disappearing, but we’re gonna walk some and art some and IDK what else, probably watch some bad movie. Oh yeah, and I have Bee Gees songs recurring in my head over and over again and it’s driving me crazy. If I can’t have you, I don’t want nobody baby… Otherwise, it’s all good. One month until I’m in a classroom with kids. Seems like a mistake. More like a woman to me…

Whatever Psychotic Tension Issue…

Well I don’t know what this sewing machine is thinking, but apparently threatening to throw it into the pool worked. Yeah. Because after thread breaking 17 times in an hour, I turned it off, went to bed, tossed and turned about how in hell I was going to fix this issue in time to get the quilt done for a deadline, and then it freakin’ worked. No issues. One thread breakage in two full quilts worth of quilting and binding. No idea why. I didn’t change anything. Same thread, same needle, same settings, no breakage. This is an issue. Inconsistent tension, the feed dogs won’t stay dropped (yes, I free-motion quilted with them up about 2/3s of the time), and when I zigzag, the needle still wanders as far left as it can and I worry about it hitting the foot, but it seemed to know its limits there.

I called yesterday to set up a time for it to be cleaned out and adjusted. It was in last September for that, but then it was in for repair in March because the foot wouldn’t drop down while free-motion zigzagging. That time, it was gone for 5 weeks. So I figured it would be put on a list and I’d bring it in during school some time (usually it’s 6 weeks out for an appointment), but they asked a bunch of questions (it was just in? Did you clean it…that was MY question. What’s wrong with it? I just printed that list out. SIGH.) and now I’m dropping it off today.

Not before I kamikazed and finished both little quilts though…because it was mostly fucking behaving. It will straight stitch just fine, and now that whatever psychotic tension issue is mostly gone (it popped up briefly), I’m not fighting thread breakage constantly. So frustrating. Yes, it is an 11-year-old machine that I got used (barely used…most people don’t use machines like I do) and yes, I probably need to replace it. Damn, though, the last two lasted longer. I think. Maybe not. Sigh. It’s a conversation I will have with the machine guy, but money is not free-flowing and nothing is cheap. I certainly won’t be buying a new machine. And no, Bernina, Pfaff, and Husqvarna don’t want to sponsor my artwork by gifting me a machine. Too many nude parts in my work, I suspect. Plus I swear a lot. LOL. I’m always impressed when people are gifted expensive equipment to make their work. ANYWAY. All that is negative and the positive is that I have two more quilts that are done or almost done.

They’re not very big…I did all the outline quilting on the bottom but not the top…not a single breakage.

Finishing up this one…

I got the binding on it, using a fabric from my stash. No shopping on this quilt. I had everything. I don’t always have enough for binding, but the smaller quilts don’t take a full half yard (or more), so I can usually pull from stash. I finished the hand-stitching last night while watching The Handmaid’s Tale (am I the only one crying through episodes right now?). We only watch one at a time. Can’t binge this thing. I’d lose my mind.

Then once I had called about bringing the machine in and they said yeah! Bring it! I was like, OK, gonna see if I can get the machine to finish the other one that got set aside in March when the machine broke last time.

Quilted like a dream, no breakages at all. Seriously? Fuck you, machine.

Same spool of thread, same needle, didn’t even clean anything out, no tension change, no breakage, no nothing. Well, except the feed dogs kept popping back up. Kind of annoying. Makes it harder to drag everything around, but on a smaller quilt like this, it’s not impossible.

Then got the binding on the other one too, again, from stash.

We’re going to Los Angeles for a few days to celebrate the man’s birthday, so I’ll have to finish the hand-stitching in the car. Or a brewery. Or a hotel room. Whichever works. These two have names, but the hand-appliqued one I finished almost two weeks ago doesn’t. They are all going to the photographer hopefully this weekend though.

And then I have to figure out what’s next. I need to finish a small one for my Patreon, but then I need one for an upcoming “family friendly” show. That phrase drives me nuts. But whatever. It’s in my head and I’ll maybe draw it in the next few days. Need to draw the little one too.

Speaking of drawings, apparently this is Captain Kangaroo…

I wasn’t thinking that when I drew it…although it did make me laugh a lot.

OK, we leave later today. I need to drop off my machine, do a bunch of packing, then drive to LA. Hopefully there will be some walking and eating and drinking and maybe some art and drawing and stitching. Who knows? It won’t be here, though. The boychild will hold down the fort and feed all the animals. I was looking forward to meeting the man on the trails this summer, which unfortunately didn’t happen. He is exercising his knee, though, and hoping to get back on trail in a month or so…but then I have school, so meeting him is much more complicated, especially if he starts from Washington instead of the Sierras. So I guess LA will have to stand in for the Sierras? Not really a fair comparison, but it will have to do.

Fighting the Machine…

It’s the 12th. In a month, I go back to school. In person. To a room that I haven’t worked in since March 16, 2020. Where, most importantly, I don’t know where anything is because I didn’t have time to put it away logically. This actually doesn’t worry me. I’ll find it all eventually. I just found a cord they probably need in order to use my doc cam. It was under something. I can spend all year searching for stuff, and hopefully have the brains to throw out some stuff I don’t need any more. It’s hard not to hoard! Teaching lends itself to having a stash for when you decide to do some weird lab at the last minute.

I go back to school, though, in a time of ‘do we still wear masks?’ (In California, yes. At least for a while. For me, yes.) Critical race theory…to teach or not to teach? OK, so here’s the thing. Those people (and politicians, who may or may not be part of the human race) who are screeching about what we should be able to brainwash kids about in the classroom have never been in a middle-school classroom. I can’t persuade the flat-earthers and the God-made-all-the-animals-and-humans-aren’t-animals kids (most of the time) that what their parents and/or YouTube taught them isn’t true. It takes years and lots of brain growth and exposure to scientific concepts that disagree with your core beliefs (hey, that’s some brainwashing) before kids start to think…oh…wait a minute…that shit doesn’t make sense. And we don’t set out to teach about racism or sexism or gender or penis size (yup. Big worry amongst the 12-year-old male). It comes UP (OK, did not mean that joke about up and penis size). One boy is talking to the kid next to him about how girls can’t do science because they don’t have the brains for it (yeah, this kid did not come up with this idea on his own…please imagine where he got it from) and then I need to redirect. Strongly. With evidence. Racism? Same deal. Gender? Absolutely. And it was a good almost ten years ago when I said to a kid, “why do you care whether they are a he or a she or something else? Are you gonna date them? Then talk to them first.” This is not new. This is what we do. We facilitate conversations. We provide facts and evidence (y’all, I’m not making any shit up. I teach science, not faith.) and then let the kids go places with it. And then they LEARN TO THINK FOR THEMSELVES. That is my ultimate job…guiding them toward their own learning, showing them how research works, modeling appropriate discussions (unlike what our politicians do; Marjorie Taylor Greene, I’m talking to you). If they can’t do it in school, then where the fuck do you think they should be doing that? We encourage kids to take their ideas home and talk to their families (and then their dad calls me to tell me I’m an idiot because he personally saw the pig with a human face, so he knows humans and pigs can reproduce together) and figure things out. Would you rather have me say, “Sorry, the government won’t let me talk about that…” when it comes up in class? I do worry that some teachers don’t do this…don’t encourage thinking. Certainly, I draw the line when kids want to answer every science question with “God did that.” Explain plate tectonics. God did it. Explain photosynthesis. God did it. Well, OK, you have faith. Great. Move on. Let’s do science.

So yeah. I’m going to keep teaching kids to think. I’m going to keep encouraging them to talk about stuff, as long as they aren’t making someone else feel like shit while they do that, although sometimes that can be difficult. I’m pretty sure that kid who said girls can’t do science didn’t feel great that day, unfortunately. I’m hoping he eventually saw the light though. These conversations were harder to have on Zoom last year…they did happen, but not as often as they do in person. Sigh. School. Not ready for it. It’s a good thing I have another 30 days. I do need more masks though.

Meanwhile, the artmaking has been walloped by my sewing machine being a total asshole. I did most of the stitchdown on Saturday…

The tension was fine for the entire bottom section and half of the top section…

And then it randomly went to hell. I cleaned everything out, rethreaded, and then prayed to the Goddess of the Machine. Because it wasn’t going to behave. The needle kept moving further and further to the left. I would turn the machine off, let it rest, cool off, and then it would keep doing that or nesting thread on the back. Completely random shit. Tension that made no sense.

I’m thinking this machine is reaching the end of its useful stage for me. I did finish one big quilt since it went in to the shop in March…but only one.

I managed to bully it through the stitchdown, and then pinbasted the quilt.

I’ve had continuing problems with the machine, but as long as I take it in once a year and have it cleaned out and adjusted, it mostly works for me. Now it’s not even lasting four months with one quilt.

Then last night, I started the quilting…I was hoping since it was in a straight line, the issue with the needle moving would stop (it has). But instead, the thread keeps breaking.

I think the thread broke about 17 times in an hour. I rethreaded, cleaned everything, replaced the needle, adjusted everything, it’s not the damn thread…it’s the same thread that was just fine in the last quilt that I just finished. I don’t have time for it to go in…there’s a waiting list and I need this quilt done for a deadline. My other machine won’t behave either. I’m frustrated. There’s still things wrong…the feed dogs won’t stay down; they keep popping up, which affects the tension. I walked away from it last night, but will try again today. Unfortunately, sometimes the solution is to keep going and then it randomly and magically starts working. I don’t need a machine that is random and magical. Sigh. I need dependable and consistent.

So that was the weekend, with some other stuff interspersed, like my phone issues are still happening, after doing all the Apple things…so back to the Genius Bar. Sure, I’m lucky to have a phone and a sewing machine…well, I do work a time-consuming job to pay for those things, but not everyone has that opportunity, but if I have paid for those things, I would like them to work properly. None of that is going on at the moment.

I did some wool sewing last night. Just messed up the tree trunk, but let’s say it’s meant to be crooked.

Walked that little beastie with my parents’ dog.

So today. I have errands and I’m going to try to sew. I’ll switch out the spool maybe (although again, it worked fine on the quilt I just finished). I don’t know what else to do, so I’m just going to hope it works. I don’t want to learn another machine to quilt this thing…although I may have to. Mom’s house is just down the road. Although the last time I tried hers, it was impossible. Not sure why. I have a definite way I quilt and the machines are not always in agreement with that. They should be. There is a learning curve. Not sure I have the patience (or time) for that. This is not as stress-free and relaxing a summer as I’d like. I might just grab my book and go take a nap. Or something. Argh.